Saturday, February 07, 2009

Seth Godin Goodies

Because there is nothing worth watching on TV, you might as well click on these links from Seth:

Bonus links from all over

Wired interview about Tribes

Video interview about thriving in a down market

Bryan starts a web podiatrist testing/improvement service

Any Nulman has a surprising new book out (about surprise and expectation and marketing)

And here's a video interview I did with Loic two days ago at TED.

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Weekend Brand News

Just a bunch of goodies from Marketing Daily that deserve a second look, now that the weekend is here:

Premium Brands Face Dilemma As Generics Gain Ground
Financial Times
Beware the "ghost of Marlboro Friday," warns UBS analyst Alan Erskine. In a note to clients, he recalls when Philip Morris slashed the price of Marlboro cigarettes in a bid to fight back against generic cigarettes. The April 1993 decision backfired big time. Consumers questioned the premium value of the historic brand; PM's shares took a beating.

The dilemma PM faced is similar to the one facing the big brand owners now, Elizabeth Rigby reports. Shoppers have been happy to spend more on recognizable products such as Unilever's Dove shampoo and Procter & Gamble's Gillette razors when times were flush, but they are turning to generic brands as the economy turns south. Things will get worse before they get better, UBS' Erskine feels.

"Consumers down-trade in food, not through choice but through economic necessity," he writes. "And, as a consequence down-trading occurs much later in the economic cycle -- when unemployment peaks -- than with other consumables." Unfortunately, most analysts predict higher unemployment figures in the months ahead. - Read the whole story...

Kellogg Dropping Michael Phelps Over Bong Photo
Ad Age
Kellogg will let swimmer Michael Phelps' contract expire at the end of February and has also decided to not renew its Olympic Team sponsorship, which expired in December. "Michael's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg," the company said in a statement. A photograph of Phelps taking a hit from a bong has traveled wide and far in recent days.

Emily Bryson York reports that the photo of Phelps' behavior was a "second black eye for Kellogg," which signed him to an exclusive-for-cereal deal, keeping him off General Mills' Wheaties box. But three months later, Anderson Cooper raided Phelps' cabinets as part of a "60 Minutes" interview and found a box of GM's Honey Nut Cheerios.

Subway, which has a campaign featuring the athlete ready for the airwaves, declined to comment on the photo. Its work seems likely to be delayed, Bryson York says. - Read the whole story...

Saturn And Chrysler Dealers Face Uncertain Futures
Detroit Free Press, AP
Saturn dealers left a private breakfast meeting last week with General Motors executives in New Orleans saying they learned little more than before about the future of the troubled brand, Tim Higgins reports. GM executives have said the brand is not profitable and that something must be done to correct the situation quickly.

"Let's face it, if you tried to sell a Saturn franchise today, there are no buyers," says John Pohanka, chairman of a Maryland-based group that owns three Saturn dealerships.

Mark LaNeve, vp of GM North America, says the automaker has been talking extensively with its dealer body about various alternatives to improve the business model. He notes that the assets of Saturn -- the brand, its dealers and customers -- "are incredibly positive."

An Associated Press story in the Freep, meanwhile, reports that Chrysler vice chairman Jim Press prodded dealers to take more vehicles during a conference call Thursday. "You have two choices," Press told the group, according to Automotive News. "You can either help us or burn us all down." Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau says the call was meant to be a private internal discussion between the company and dealers. - Read the whole story...

Patrón's Ultimat Vodka Debuts At $40 A Bottle
Wall Street Journal
Twenty years ago, Patrón almost single-handedly elevated the image of tequila in the U.S. with the launch of its costly flagship beverage, Patrón Silver. It's hoping to do the same for vodka as its new $40-a-bottle Ultimat brand goes up against Grey Goose (about $30) and Ketel One ($23) for the attentions of premium vodka drinkers. Produced in Poland, it will be sold in 750-milliliter cobalt-blue crystal bottles.

Ed Brown, Patrón Spirits' CEO, thinks Ultimat can be distinguished from other high-end vodkas through marketing and the product's unusual ingredients. Although vodkas are neutral in taste, Ultimat is purportedly the only one distilled from a mixture of potatoes, wheat and rye. "I really believe that certain companies are really good at certain things, and we're very good at ultra-premium spirits," Brown says.

Ultimat is hitting bars and stores as consumers are drinking more at home, rather than at bars and nightclubs, according to analysts and industry executives. That could prove a hurdle to Ultimat since liquor brands often are launched with promotions in bars, David Kesmodel writes. - Read the whole story...

All That Glitters Is Not Cash4Gold
Los Angeles Times
Two words jostled for prominence in my mind as soon as I saw Ed McMahon pitching for, the metal refinery that offers money for jewelry, during the Super Bowl last Sunday: sad and sleazy. The sad, of course, is that Ed McMahon, whose commercial career has not heretofore been distinguished by the classiest of choices, seemed to have hit a new low following his highly publicized financial problems. The sleazy part seemed self-evident.

David Sarno reports that there's indeed more than met our eyes. "Cash4Gold's jewelry exchange doesn't always translate into big bucks for its customers, who have lodged hundreds of complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Florida attorney general's office, saying the company shortchanged them," he writes.

The Florida attorney general's office says it is examining nearly 60 complaints about Cash4Gold, including some from people who were disappointed by the amount of money they received in exchange for their jewelry. An investigation conducted by "Inside Edition" sent the company 23 pieces of gold that a jewelry expert had valued at close to $1,000. Cash4Gold sent a check for $209.81, an amount at which the expert scoffed.

Cash4Gold CEO Jeff Aronson defends his company's track record, saying that 269 Better Business Bureau complaints in the last three years out of 700,000 customer transactions is commendable. "Tell me one company in the world that wouldn't die for that ratio," he says. - Read the whole story...

Right Guard Going To The Hoop For Xtreme Fast Break
NY Sports Journalism
Right Guard's Xtreme Fast Break deodorant will hit shelves in March with multi-media marketing including product placement, print, Internet and a storyline in the new season of "The Apprentice," Barry Janoff reports. NBA all-star Chris Paul will be the spokesman, as the brand steps back a bit from extreme sports. - Read the whole story...

Q&A With Dairy Queen's Chief Brand Officer, Michael Keller
Dairy Queen is rolling out a value menu called "Sweet Deals" this week, Keller tells Elaine Wong. The nine-item combination brings together offerings from DQ's frozen treats and fast-food menu list for $5 or less. It also is placing greater emphasis on its "collective brand experience." - Read the whole story...

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How Retail Can Thrive

You simply need to kick it into high gear:

Retailers Pulling Out All Stops

Retail outlets, suffering badly from shoppers' spending shutdown, are beginning to take more extreme measures than simply holding sales. They're changing the way they order goods, emphasizing customer service and, yes, bringing prices down to more affordable levels.

For years, retailers could afford to be sloppy about running their businesses because customers kept buying.

No more.

Stung by the worry that shoppers -- who cut spending by the most dramatic amount in at least 39 years this the holiday season -- may not start spending again for a long time, stores are making drastic changes. They are cutting out marginal suppliers, hiring outside experts to keep inventory lean, holding special events for those who are still buying and making extraordinary efforts to gauge customer satisfaction.

Customer benefits
The new discipline will be mostly good news for shoppers, who will find stores less cluttered and see an array of products at lower prices, from ordinary groceries to jeans from brands they could once only aspire to.

Of course, the downside is that consumers who want something out of the ordinary -- an olive green prom dress, for example -- may have to look harder. Stores are rooting out offbeat, unpopular colors and styles, which will mean fewer choices.

Sales clerks are also checking back with customers to see if they're satisfied with their purchases.

"We are in a sea change," said Millard "Mickey" Drexler, J.Crew's chairman and chief executive and former CEO and visionary of Gap.

Pricing goods within reach of strapped consumers is also a big focus, given the way nervous consumers have stopped shopping. Same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year, fell 2.3 percent in November and December together, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. And the worsening sales slump in January has many worried about the industry's prospects over the next few months.

J.Crew is adjusting its prices on certain items like ballet flats, which now start at $98 rather than $118. It's also stocking fewer of its high-priced items like $1,300 leather trench coats. It's cutting inventory and slashing expenses.

Status denim brand Rock & Republic will ship a new Recession Collection this spring that runs about half the usual $200 price tag for its jeans.

Even supermarket chain SuperValu has promised lower everyday prices on groceries and more promotions.

Tough times ahead
Chief executives from Crate & Barrel to J.C. Penney acknowledged during the National Retail Federation meeting this month that they're navigating new territory, predicting that the fundamental shift by consumers to spend less and save more will linger.

The biggest unknown is when or if shoppers will ever resume spending the way they did when the housing market was booming, credit was easy and jobs were more plentiful.

"Customers wanted and wanted and wanted some more and we sold and sold and sold some more," said Burton M. Tansky, president and CEO of The Neiman Marcus Group. Now, "frugality is more important."

This sudden hibernation of customers is leading even the luxury retailer to try new strategies. Neiman Marcus is eliminating some vendors and focusing on serving its best customers. It's trying to retrain its shoppers to buy regular-price merchandise by throwing more smaller private events for 20 to 30 customers.

Weaning customers off discounts is a big challenge for the industry, as people have gotten used to them -- particularly on luxury brands that hadn't been discounted before sales all but dried up.

For the last two years, many of the nation's best-run stores like J.C. Penney had been reducing inventories in response to the consumer spending slowdown. But no one anticipated the severe retrenchment that hit in September as the financial meltdown ravaged shoppers' retirement accounts, reduced credit availability and resulted in massive layoffs across industries.

Holiday slump
As shoppers simply stopped buying, stores were forced to discount as much as 75 percent off in some cases even before the official start of the holidays -- resulting in the weakest season since at least 1969, when the ICSC index began.

Some companies like KB Toys couldn't make it through the Christmas season, and many more are expected to file for bankruptcy in the coming months. Circuit City recently announced it was going out of business -- closing its 567 U.S. stores, after not being able to work out a sale.

With no sign of the economy improving soon, and no pressure on people to buy now that the holidays are over, merchants are preparing for times to get worse. Those who have survived face battered fourth-quarter profits and are slashing expenses and hoarding cash. Apparel merchants are cutting inventory by 20 percent to 30 percent for the summer and fall seasons, according to Kathryn Deane, president and CEO of Tobe Report, a fashion consultancy.

But it's just not about slashing how much merchandise they carry. Companies like Polo Ralph Lauren are turning to outside specialists in areas like sourcing and currency hedging to reduce the impact of volatile foreign exchange rates. They're working with suppliers to reduce the time it takes to produce an item. And they're trying to understand the new mindset of shoppers, scrutinizing the products they offer to see whether the prices and quality meet the new standards from consumers who are questioning the real value of things.

Inside the lines
Apparel suppliers say they have noticed the difference in recent weeks as the buyers for big chains visit their showrooms to order for fall. They want eye-catching pieces that have longevity -- and nothing too radical.

"They're not buying disposable clothing," said Allen Schwartz, owner of fashion company A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz. He noted that store buyers are taking styles with staying power like daytime dresses. But while in years past they would buy one color and three different styles, he said, now they're buying three colors in one style.

Fashion company Nicole Miller is now shipping 80 new styles per month instead of 120. Bud Konheim, president of the business, said even buyers from upscale stores are questioning the prices of its top designers, which top at about $1,600. He said he's doing more clothing business in the $200 to $300 range instead of the $700 to $800 range.

Such scrutiny from buyers is forcing Nicole Miller to do its own editing, cutting out styles or colors. For prom gowns, Konheim said the company used to do oddball colors like olive green -- but not anymore.

Michael Ball, founder and creative director of Rock & Republic, said he immediately lowered the prices of the company's most expensive jeans in September before they hit the floors when the economy imploded. The premium line, which had been priced from $180 to $320, now peaks at $280.

"The days of the $300 jeans are gone," Ball said. While other high-priced denim brands have been heavily discounted in recent months, he said he was able to avoid such heavy price cuts because of limited distribution that kept demand high. Still, given the new climate, Ball cut the number of styles and decided to offer a less expensive, cleaner look that features two styles for men and two styles for women. The line is priced from $128 to $132.

The Recession line, to be offered at Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, will be sold alongside the premium denim collection.

But Ball plans to end the Recession Collection when the economy recovers. For now, he believes he's doing his part to keep the economy rolling and help shoppers "open their pocketbooks."

(Source: Associated Press, 01/25/09)

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Hispanic Media?

Interesting study from Click on the Charts to make them BIGGER:

US Hispanics Prefer English Media, Switch Easily between Languages

More than half of US Hispanics say they are most comfortable speaking Spanish, but a larger percentage prefer English-language broadcast, print and internet media and can switch easily between languages to get needed information, according to an Ipsos Omnibus study.

Some 52% of US Hispanics report speaking primarily Spanish at home, while 43% say they speak mostly English, the study found. Among Hispanics surveyed, the study found that regardless of language spoken at home, Hispanics overall take advantage of their bilingual abilities by using, accessing and enjoying media in both languages.

English-Language TV Dominates

More than half (54%) of Hispanics overall say they prefer to tune into an English-language TV program, the study found. Among these, older Hispanics are more likely to prefer English (61%), while 54% of 18-34-year-olds prefer English, and slightly more than half of Hispanics aged 35-54 (52%) prefer English.


Additional findings:

  • 45% percent of Hispanics with children in their household say that they prefer Spanish language television.
  • Hispanic households without children are highly likely to prefer English television (63%).
  • College educated Hispanics overwhelmingly prefer English language television (80%).

Radio Preference a Closer Call

The choice between English and Spanish radio is a closer call than TV, Ipsos said, in part because of Spanish-language radio’s association with Spanish music. Among radio preferences overall, 49% of US Hispanics say they prefer to listen to English-language radio, while 45% choose Spanish-language radio.

Additional demographic findings:

  • Hispanic females (51%) are more likely than Hispanic males (38%) to tune into Spanish radio.
  • Hispanics age 55+ are more likely to prefer radio in English than in Spanish (56% vs. 38%); among those 35-54, half (50%) prefer radio in English.
  • Younger Hispanics, ages 18-34, are practically split among preference: 46% prefer English and 47% prefer Spanish radio.

Online in English

English is the leading language of preference for the internet among all Hispanic age groups, as over half of all Hispanics (55%) say their language preference for the internet is English. However, nearly forty-percent (39%) of Hispanics ages 18-34 prefer Spanish language internet sites, demonstrating that many younger Hispanics are closely tied to Spanish while online, Ipsos found. Moreover, 42% of Hispanic women prefer Spanish when surfing the web. This compares with just 29% of men.


US News in English

While 56% of Hispanics prefer English-language papers, Hispanics look for information in both languages when they read the news, depending upon what they’re seeking. They read English-language news to find out the current affairs in their local US city/town (53%), and in Spanish to follow up with the news in their home country (33%), the study found.

More than four in ten Hispanics (44%) also read Spanish newspapers that cover news in their US community. This is most common among those with annual household incomes less than $50K (57%).

“US Hispanics are well equipped to live in the American society and function among US institutions, while at the same time preserving their Hispanic heritage,” said to Cynthia Pelayo, Ipsos senior research manager. “Today, many US Hispanics continue to speak primarily Spanish, among their peers, family and friends, to watch television in Spanish and to be involved in culturalcommunity events that are mostly conducted in Spanish. Yet, the ability to utilize either language when needed is an innate skill and an advantage that many US Hispanics possess.”

About the survey: The Ipsos poll was conducted Sept. 11 - Oct. 6, 2008 among a nationally representative sample of 513 Hispanics who were interviewed by telephone via Ipsos’ US Hispanic Omnibus. These data were weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and age/gender composition reflected that of the actual US population according to data from the US Census Bureau.

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Email Marketing Warning

Since I now do Email Marketing for the Advertising Federation, here's a tip I found useful from the folks:

A Tale of Two Emails

In a post at the Emma blog, Jim Hitch tells the story of two emails he received within 20 minutes of each other. "They're similar at first glance," he says. "Almost identical, really. Both are very image-heavy, both came from brand-name clothing retailers, both include simple calls to action, both drive traffic to an online store, on and on I could go."

So, what set these twins apart? Hitch discovered a key difference when he took a look "under the hood" to see how each handled blocked images. Here's what he found:

  • One email displayed only the small blue boxes that indicate an image hasn't loaded.
  • The other added text that echoed the message each blocked image contained.

"That backup plan is known to the html-savvy as the alt tag," he says, "the alternate text that shows when the images don't load." Because of this, the second email was still able to tout free shipping and invite subscribers to apply for a credit card.

According to Hitch, since many email programs block images by default, an alt tag workaround insures that recipients still get the gist of your message—making them more likely to enable images or click through to explore your offer.

The Po!nt: Tag 'em. "Next time you create a campaign," advises Hitch, "be sure to think about your own backup plan. The general rule is to set an alt tag for all of your images."

Source: The Emma Blog. Read the full post here.

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I had a sales rep that brought me to a meeting with a potential client and introduced me as his, "Boss who is here for the kill."

Nobody died except for me from embarrassment, and that reps sales career died a few weeks later.

Art Sobczak has more on the words we use:

Do These Words Make a Difference in
the Answer You Will Get?


A reader emailed me in response to a trial close
(or temperature-checking question) he had seen
in one of my newsletters or books. It was,
"It's a pretty good offer ... what do you think?"

His comments:

"You know how much I like your sales tips and
advice. I use and teach it every day, so you
understand I'm not picking on you. Be that as it
may, your line above is weak. The answer could
be a 'no' or 'I don't know, what else can you do?'
I suggest 'There's a lot of real value in this
offer, how do you feel about it so far?' I always
want to know how they feel not how they think."

I believe I wrote a tip years ago actually
recommending saying the same thing: asking people
how they feel vs. think, supposedly because you'll
get a better answer.

But now that I'm older, wiser, and with thinner hair,
I've revisited that thought and come up with another view.
Realistically, would someone actually go through a
thought process where they say, "Hmmm, he asked
what I think, therefore I won't say how I really feel,
and I'll give a different answer."?

I doubt it.

The most important factor here is what led up
to the question that put them into the frame of
mind they're at, at the very instant the question
is asked.

Let's face it, the closing or commitment
question simply gets them to divulge their mindset--
at that moment--it doesn't change it.

As salespeople--or in any role we play as
communicators, now that I think about it--there's
not one technique that magically and instantly
alters someone's total state of mind like a hypnotist.
(Although I get questions every day from people who
are searching for it.)

No, the real key to sales and persuasive success,
on the phone or face-to-face, is in the entire
PROCESS. Using the context of the
professional sales call, that process involves,

1. Your Opening. The result of a good one is
putting someone in a positive, receptive frame of
mind and moving them to the questioning phase
of the call.

2. Questioning. Here, we help move them more
into a frame of mind where they not only give
us information, but also think about their
problems, pains, or desires. Then they are
much more likely to be receptive to our next step.

3. Recommendation. Just like a doctor, we
prescribe the appropriate solution for their
situation. But notice, it comes after the

4. Commitment. This is where we simply validate
everything that has taken place up to this point.
Theoretically, if we've done a stellar job thus
far, they would volunteer the sale--which does happen,
albeit not often enough for any of us. Therefore
we still do need to ask. But if I were a new
salesperson starting out, I wouldn't focus all of
my self-improvement time on learning "closing
techniques" at the expense of the other steps in
the process. After all, if a person went up to a
stranger in a bar, it wouldn't make much difference
whether he said, "How would you feel about marrying
me?" or "What would you think about marrying me?"

On the other hand, if they were dating for quite
some time and the person was wildly in love with
the other, it wouldn't matter how the question was
ultimately phrased, as long as it was asked.

Don't get me wrong, incorrect word usage can cause
your sales demise, and I've helped lots of people
make plenty of money by choosing the right words
to evoke the emotions and actions they are looking
for. But successful sales is using the right words,
within the process. Do that, and I'm confident
that you'll ...

... have your best week ever!

Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

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Friday, February 06, 2009

A Wisdom E-Book

From my email:

Special Report: Marketing Wisdom 2009 - Download Your Complimentary PDF of Real-Life Lessons Learned Your free copy of Sherpa's Marketing Wisdom 2009 report is ready for you. It features a new collection of some of the best real-life lessons learned last year by marketers just like you worldwide.

Click to download your PDF

Thanks to the hundreds of MarketingSherpa readers who contributed stories on email, search, social media and much more for this seventh annual report. The Editorial team pored over those stories to come up with the "best" test results and practical advice at big and small organizations alike.

And a big thank you to Omniture, which is covering the production costs for this report for the fifth year as a service to the marketing community.

In case you're wondering, you may share this link or copies of the PDF with anyone you like. And you can post the link to your blog or your newsletter. That link again.

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Friday Night Marketing News

All the news I didn't have time to read today from Mediapost:

by Sarah Mahoney
"Initially, we saw households cut back," says Retail Forward's Frank Badillo. "But [now] they're in a wait-and-see mode and seem to be sustaining that lower rate of spending, which explains the decline from last year at this time. But they are spending when they need to - they're buying food and shoes, developing new store preferences and even new brand preferences." ... Read the whole story > >
Packaged Goods
by Karl Greenberg
The Anglo-Dutch company competes with the likes of Danone and Nestle, which are preparing to report their results this month. Analysts say CEO Paul Polman will push for higher marketing spend. Unilever CMO Simon Clift has said that the company has no plans to cut European marketing spend but was mute on the U.S. market. He also said that media pricing is not reflecting the economy. ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
A blogger who covers Microsoft for, says, "It's becoming clear that the company is planning to extend the Zune software into other devices, such as Windows Mobile phones. So even if the Zune hardware goes away, it's possible that the software and service will probably still be around." ... Read the whole story > >
Brand Marketing
by Wayne Friedman
The two most-viewed Super Bowl commercials: Bud Light Lime and one from, both of which ran in the fourth quarter. Nielsen Media Research says each of those ads was seen by 103.2 million people. The best-liked and most-recalled ad was one for Budweiser where a men plays fetch with a Dalmatian--and gets a Clydesdale jealous. That ad was also the best-liked among women. ... Read the whole story > >
by Nina M. Lentini
The campaign targets the 20-something fan who is both accustomed to alternative media, and at the same time, unlikely to have a long evening free to attend a game. "It also helps with this audience that the Penguins have Pittsburgh's youngest pro roster; the team's top stars are 21 and 22," says an agency representative. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The well-heeled worry about taxes; the somewhat less well-heeled worry about moral decline; and younger affluent people care about climate change and education. But it's all relative until it comes to the economy. Everyone making over $100,000 is worried about that, if Ipsos Mendelsohn's latest survey is accurate. "I was surprised that unemployment wasn't more of a concern among the young," says the firm's Richard Vogt. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
On the marketing front, BK reported flat worldwide advertising/promotion expenditures for the quarter ($24 million) and a 2% increase for its first half, to $48 million. BK continued a string of edgy efforts with the "Whopper Virgins" and "Whopper Freak-out" campaigns, plus a quirky campaign for a BK "meat-scented body spray," Flame. ... Read the whole story > >

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The Basics

From the THINKing Blog:

Old Fashioned Marketing

Posted: 03 Feb 2009 05:05 AM PST

Every year we start seeing all the articles about what the new year will hold. Everything from politics to marketing is dissected and forecast. I like to take advantage of trends as much as anyone but you can’t let the new blind you to the tried-and-true.

You may be considering adding podcasts, blogs, local search and social media to your marketing matrix and that is fine, if you strategically think through how they fit with your business and your audiences.

Blogging and podcasting are great tactics, but if your website has no traffic they are a waste of time, effort and resources.

Let’s get back to fundamentals. I’ve had clients who were so ADD they couldn’t sit still long enough to even think about who their best customer is. However, they got so excited about new marketing ideas that they just had to try them. Never mind that those tactics didn’t make sense for their business.

If you don’t know who your customer is, don’t bother spending money on marketing. That would be a colossal waste.

Ask and answer the fundamental questions before you go spending marketing money willy-nilly. How many audience segments do you have? Who is your best customer in each? What is your best customer’s age, employment, sex, and marital status? Do they have kids? What are their media habits? What attitudes or values affect their buying habits?

If your customer buys for business, what is her title? Is she the final decision-maker or is the decision made jointly? Who influences the sale? What industry associations do your customers join? Do they go to trade shows? Which ones?

The more you know about the customer, the easier it is for your creatives to develop relevant, original and impactful messages, and to determine the best ways and vehicles through which to disseminate your messages.

While doing this hard work may not be as much fun as podcasting or Twittering, it is infinitely more important to your bottom line. And as my friend ad agency consultant Joe Grant says, the number one rule of business is to stay in business.

What are you adding to the marketing mix this year? Does it make sense?

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What you can do in this Recession

Drew wrote this recently:

The Marketing Minute

Are you making the recession worse?

Posted: 02 Feb 2009 07:44 AM CST

34996025 Let me first acknowledge that I know the recession is real. I know people are losing their jobs, homes and life savings. I get that.

But the truth is….we’re making it worse. We’re letting fear make it worse.

Just like the kid who works himself up into a frenzy because he imagines what might be under his bed -- we're allowing fear and all the hype freeze us with fear.

That paralysis is the biggest threat your business has ever faced.

Look around you. Ask other business owners. They will sheepishly admit that business is good. Some, under the promise of anonymity, will confess that it’s great. For the vast majority of businesses, especially B-to-B and the service sectors – things are fine.

And yet, they behave as though they’re down to their last dime.

I was talking to a friend of mine who owns a small business last week. He admitted they’re having a fantastic start to the year and everything looks good moving forward.

He went on to tell me that he needs a new company car. He has the money to pay cash for it. Car prices have never been lower. But he’s holding off.

Just in case.

Simpson College here in Iowa has a brilliant outreach program, thanks to the Associate Director of the department. She’s like a Pied Piper, getting to know theatre kids when they’re younger and encouraging them to visit campus, attend their very profitable summer program, etc.

Simpson just announced that despite great enrollment numbers and the construction of a new theatre space (capital campaign) – they’re eliminating the position.

Just in case enrollment goes down.

People, we have to stop this. A stimulus package alone isn’t going to cut it. Do you think any of those stimulus dollars are coming your way? Check the list – you’re not on it!

Small business owners are the backbone of this country and we will determine how long we’re in this recession. I’m not asking you to spend with reckless abandon. But I am suggesting that we don’t get our business advice from the local or national news.

Look around. See how your business is actually doing. And behave accordingly. We can be paralyzed with fear of what might be coming, or we can behave ourselves out of this recession. is up to us.

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Radio & Insurance

From a recent email:

Insurance Companies Opt for Radio Ads

With the economy in duress, consumers are increasingly looking for a security blanket. That's led to a booming insurance business.

The insurance category grew 18 percent through the first three quarters of 2007 according to the RAB -- with the biggest gains in the South and East. Nationwide Insurance director of brand advertising Jeff Myer says Radio is key because of its reach -- specifically the ability to run frequent ads and appeal to consumers while they're listening to Radio in their vehicles.

Myer tells Inside Radio it definitely made sense to choose Radio for Nationwide's recent "Say 500" campaign for auto insurance. Many of the "Say 500" spots ran during drive-time, and Nationwide believes the overall campaign has "helped out its call volume."

Nationwide increased its Radio spending 187 percent in the first three quarters of 2008 compared to the previous year. Myer says, "Radio is our way to reach our targeted audience and keep us top-of-mind." And the overall insurance category boost is influencing how much Nationwide bud­gets for Radio.

Myer says, "We gauge what our competitors have spent and will spend going forward." Geico held on to the top slot with a 6 percent increase in ad budgets according to the RAB, while Allstate's ad spending jumped 51 percent and State Farm pumped 113 percent more into Radio.

RAB figures show insurance has become network Radio's third-biggest ad category (behind Retail and Automotive/Automotive Accessories & Equipment), increasing 31 percent.

(Source: Inside Radio, 01/26/09)

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The Proposal

Great Advice today from

Proposals that Wow Prospects
by Tom Sant

You'll learn several ways to stand out from your competitors when presenting your proposal.

Recently a major corporation invited six consulting firms to make one-hour pitches for an EDI project. Five followed the same basic presentation:

  • Company background and experience

  • Project team members and their qualifications

  • Comments about billing practices

  • Timeline
The sixth presenter began, "We'd also like to say a little about ourselves, but first we'd like to tell you what we know about the inventory problem that's costing you $250,000 every year."

For 30 minutes, this firm discussed the problem, how to attack it, and how much the corporation would save with their solution. Then they related their experience and their staff's strengths. Later when the selection team gathered, the EDI project leader asked just one question, "Does anybody have any doubts about which firm to hire?"

People don't buy proposals. They buy help for their problems.

Calm the fears
The two biggest fears people have when making a buying decision are:
  • They're wasting their money by not getting the solution they really need

  • They're not going to get the kind of business results they want
The successful vendor will address these fears at the outset and allay them by demonstrating the specific value of the proposed solution.

The problem is proposals often feature products and services with an internal focus while top executives are bottom-line oriented. The more broadly your solution affects an organization, the more likely it is that a top corporate officer will get involved in the buying decision. And, the more carefully they'll scrutinize your value proposition.

Show me the payback
A value proposition is the message that differentiates you from the competition and tells why your solution will help solve the customer's problem. There are two principles to follow when crafting your value proposition.

First, focus on what the customer cares about. Suppose you have some data showing that your system reduced overtime hours by 17 percent. That's only valuable if the customer has a problem with overtime. If what they really care about is increasing market share, it's not very compelling.

Second, quantify the value proposition with numbers. Numbers are more persuasive than words. Even if the decision-maker doesn't really buy into your payback analysis, the fact that it's quantified tends to give it impact.

In trying to show value to customers, don't mistake features for benefits. A common example of this tendency is to focus on your own operational efficiency as a reason for the customer to buy from you. For example, let's say your company is a Third Party Administrator with the fastest computers in the insurance industry. You tell your prospects you can process a claim in 7.6 seconds, where the industry average is almost 20 seconds. Their response may be, "So what?" Unless that 12 seconds benefits their operation, it's meaningless.

Stand above the rest
To stand out, you need to focus on your industry differentiators––things you do differently or that nobody else does––but always show how those differentiators deliver value to the customer. Differences based on processes or systems or methodologies are generally longer lasting and harder to overcome than simple operational efficiencies.

If you look at the entire lifecycle of the customer's interaction with your company and your products, you will probably discover many areas where you do things differently. From sales to installation to training to technical help to upgrades––determine where you excel and show how this will help customers.

For most, the easiest calculations of value are those derived from use. If you're providing training, for example, your clients are most likely to measure value by looking at how your training has an impact on customers' performance, productivity, profitability, or cost of operations.

How can you quantify your impact? Here are a few ways of measuring value in terms of business efficiency and profitability:
  • Return on Investment (ROI): earnings/investment

  • Return on Equity (ROE): earnings/equity

  • Inventory Turn: investment turnover x margin

  • Cycle Time: activity ratio that drives investment turnover

  • Market Share: sales/value of actual market

  • Cost Reductions

  • Cost Avoidance
Look at your differentiators, figure out how they can help the customer achieve the desired outcomes, and develop a specific value proposition for your proposal or presentation.

Draw them a picture
When you can present your data graphically in charts, you'll add punch. Pictures talk even louder than numbers. To see the power of graphics, suppose that you are trying to sell a company a back-up server and a fail-over network to protect them from a major system crash. You might want them to realize the cost of having their network down for one hour is $XXX,000. But that cost doesn't stay even. The second hour they're down costs even more. So the second hour costs them $XXX,000 + $XX,000, with the costs escalating the longer they're down.

But math bores people. Instead, you should present a trend curve showing their potential losses from an extended downtime period. It will look like a jet take-off pattern and have a similar persuasive impact on the decision-makers.

Finding the payback
Here's a simple method for calculating the payback you want to illustrate in your proposals. First, determine the total cost of the solution you're recommending. That includes the sticker price, plus any implementation costs, but it also means subtracting costs they can avoid by using your solution.

Next, find the impact on revenue. Maybe it's increased sales or reduced headcount. Then find the ratio between revenue impact and total cost. Real numbers are easier to follow, so let's take a hypothetical example.

Let's say you're selling a computer-integrated telemarketing system. The software and equipment cost $450,000, but there is also $67,000 in installation and training costs. However, with the new software the company can drop maintenance on the old system and will need two fewer people to do the same work saving $80,000. So you calculate the total cost as $437,000.

Suppose there's no impact on sales. They'll sell the same amount with our system as they did with the old one. But, their costs have gone down (they're spending less on labor and support). As a result, net income goes up from $100,000 to $170,000. The impact on net revenue is an increase of $70,000 or a rate of return of 16 percent. Calculations for the second and third year will be even better, because there'll be a tiny investment in equipment and the same higher level of revenue.

Beats saying "Trust me"
Quantifying the payback is more persuasive than just claiming your recommendation is a good thing. If baseline measurements aren't available, that's okay. Offer an estimate or a projection based on industry averages. Even if they dispute your numbers, you're still discussing the overall value of your unique offering.

By connecting your payback analysis to what really differentiates you from competitors, you're in a much stronger position: They can't use the easy "Me, too" comeback.

Dr. Tom Sant has been a featured speaker at hundreds of conferences, meetings, and events. He has been called "America's foremost practitioner of proposal writing" by the American Management Association, and was named one of the first ever Fellows of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals in recognition of his lifetime of contributions in the field of proposal writing. He is founder and board member of The Sant Corporation.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thursday Night Marketing News

From the fingertips of the writers at Mediapost, to my inbox, to this site, to your eyes:

by Karlene Lukovitz
Kraft hedged input costs earlier in 2008, expecting prices to continue to rise--but prices instead declined significantly in last year's second half, notes Christopher Shanahan, research analyst, chemicals, materials and food for marketing research firm Frost & Sullivan. Strong net sales for Sara Lee in North America, particularly in the retail and fresh bakery segments were more than offset by declines in international business. ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
"Because we're efficient in what we do, we can afford to give away TVs," says Vizio's Jim Noyd. "It's a way to create brand awareness and highlight the company's strength. We're not giving away only a TV or a car. We're giving away a lot of televisions over a period of time. That helps increase awareness." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"If you think about heritage and history, people associate the brand with the people on the box," says General Mills' Matt Beliveau, adding that Wheaties has not gotten lost among the proliferation of products on the cereal aisle because of its bright hue and the rotation of athletes on the packages. "We appeal to sports fans; we skew to male consumers in their 30s and 40s," he says. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Les Luchter
Despite the lack of contact from financial institutions, only 29% of U.S. respondents would like more communication from them, the lowest of the six countries involved in the study. Says Boston Consulting Group, that is a reaction to "business-as-usual communication/marketing programs," which have been continuing at pre-crisis levels as opposed to financial firms' offering targeted, relevant information that addresses the current economic situation. ... Read the whole story > >
by Nina M. Lentini
While the support advertising is fact-based and specific (for instance, that Ovaltine has more iron and vitamins C and E than "spinach-sardine yogurt"), the video and opera depend for their effect on unbridled passion - both that of the finicky young eaters and of the powerful soprano. ... Read the whole story > >
by Mark Walsh
The ad for Dreamworks' release, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," sparked the most online chatter, with seven times the buzz of the average Super Bowl ad, according to data released Wednesday by TNS Cymfony. Paramount Pictures' ad for "Star Trek" ranked second in buzz, while the studio's other spot previewing "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra" was fourth. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
"The importance of brand has increased," says Global Strategy Group, "and while it's clearly not as important as price in this environment, it really speaks to some of the emotional and pragmatic needs of shopping. One hypothesis is that people are thinking, 'If I'm going to spend less, then I want what I do buy to be high quality.' Secondarily, people are shopping more at discounters, which has likely got them thinking more about which brands are and aren't available in lower-end stores." ... Read the whole story > >

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Survey Says....

Actually I got this last Thursday from Drew:

The Marketing Minute

How do your customers describe you?

Posted: 29 Jan 2009 07:33 AM CST

36607072 As promised, I want to spend the next couple Thursdays talking about word of mouth marketing. We all want our customers to tell their friends and colleagues about us but do we have any idea what they might be saying?

Here's a ten minute assignment for you.

Go to your favorite free online survey tool, like Survey Monkey. Create a new poll and ask these three questions:

  • Do you ever talk about McLellan Marketing Group (obviously, fill in your own company name!)
  • If so, what do you tell people about us?
  • If you had to describe McLellan Marketing Group in a single word, what word would you choose?

Now, send an e-mail to all your clients, past clients, vendors, etc. Explain that you're trying to understand how you're perceived in the marketplace and because you value the relationship you have with them, you're counting on them to be candid on a very quick, 3 question survey.

The power of this is two-fold. One, you're going to get some eye-opening insights. But second, you are making the people you survey feel important and valued. And in a subtle way, suggesting that you might be talk-worthy.

Send out the survey and prepare to be surprised. Most of the time, people do not spout off your features and benefits. They talk about what sticks with them, what feels different, something that surprised them.

What do you think they'll say?

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Fresh Ideas


It's time for your weekly fix of entrepreneurial ideas! Our latest issue is now online. Here's
a quick run-down of the promising new businesses Springwise featured this week:

Person using exercise ballOnline practice dispenses self-help physio advice
Lifestyle & leisure

Patients can often self-manage their recovery with the help of some
expert advice. That's the premise behind a new physiotherapy practice
that focuses purely on dispensing self-help guidance online.

Extreme logo stamped in the snowMore low-impact branding from Curb: snow tagging
Marketing & advertising

Curb -- the media agency that specializes in campaigns using natural
materials -- called to let us know that they’d added another novel
medium to their offerings: snow tagging.

Screenshot of table booking systemRestaurant lets patrons reserve a specific table
Food & beverage

Madrid restaurant chain Wagaboo is following the lead of airlines
and theatres, allowing customers to pick and reserve a specific table

Screenshot of Wonga slider toolMini loans in minutes
Financial services

Technology makes the world move ever faster, and a British startup
aims to bring that velocity to the world of financing: Wonga offers tiny,
instant loans through online-only applications.

Coke vending machine with huge touchscreenTouch-screen Coke machine for interactive vending
Food & beverage / Marketing & advertising

Developed in conjunction with Sapient, Samsung's uVending touch-
screen technology brings a whole new level of consumer interaction
to automatic vending.

Female radio person talking into micTuning into a personalized radio tribute
Lifestyle & leisure / Entertainment

Launched in November 2008 by two British radio presenters,
Fauxshow creates personalized radio shows that put a recipient in the

Adidas logo in turfMedia agency focuses on low-impact advertising
Marketing & advertising / Eco & sustainability

Curb creates branded sand sculptures of all sizes; burns patterns and
logos into wood using magnifying glasses; and offers a ‘logrow’
service to cut logos as big as 30m wide into turf.

A Poken pandaHigh-five the panda to connect online
Lifestyle & leisure

After meeting and greeting in the real world, users who want to
connect online can whip out their Poken keyrings and 'high five' them
to exchange details by RFID.

Wind map of Europe on First LookWind-energy mapping tool now covers the world
Eco & sustainability

When we last wrote about the FirstLook mapping tool for new-energy
entrepreneurs, it covered only the United States. Now, the wind-
mapping service has expanded to cover the whole world.

G-1 phone being used to find ATMING application for G1 phone points to nearest ATM
Financial services / Telecom & mobile

ING's Wegwijzer tool for finding ATMs is the (Google) phone equivalent
of asking a human for directions and having them point to what you're
looking for. No map-reading necessary.

Bixi bikes, parked & ready to goBixi brings urban bike-sharing to North America

Bixi follows the standard bike sharing principles: users take a bike
from a stand, ride it to where they want to go, and drop it at another
stand when they're done.

The Groove Armada ladsMusic by Groove Armada, distribution by Bacardi
Entertainment / Marketing & advertising

Six weeks before Groove Armada will release their new EP through
traditional download stores, the first track appeared Bacardi B-Live,
where registered users can download it for free.

Brand Girl's logoBlogger helps connect consumers and brands
Media & publishing / Marketing & advertising

Partner manufacturers will send samples of their latest products to
Brand Girl, who will review them on her blog, getting readers involved
through contests, giveaways, etc.

Golden Retriever's headFavour-granting site helps friends help each other
Life hacks

People seeking a babysitter, job referral or help moving a couch, to
name just a few examples, can all use FriendlyFavor to ask for help,
as can people with favours to offer.

Illustration of overweight people in a dinerThe nutritional low-down on fast-food restaurants
Food & beverage / Telecom & mobile

For each of the fast-food restaurants on Fatburgr, the site lists the
calories, fat, carbs and fibre content for each menu item, and users
can sort the list by any of those criteria.

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