Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wizard Wisdom

From my email:


Dear Scott,

Does your business have a blog?

"It is very unlikely that you will make money from blogging, but if you do it with intent and authenticity, you will likely make money because of blogging." - Wizard Partner Dave Young

In This Issue:

The Little-Known Factors That Turn Business Signs into Landmarks

10 Things Never to Do in Your Advertising

The Little-Known Factors That Turn Business Signs into Landmarks

By Roy H. Williams (Edited from original)

Here’s what every business owner needs to know.

Most businesses have signs that are well proportioned, carefully balanced, tastefully drawn and perfectly color coordinated. In other words, they’re utterly predictable and effectively invisible.

The 5 most common mistakes made in business signage are:

1. understated elegance. Attempting to “fit in,” or “blend into” a scene.
2. underspending.
3. including too much information.
4. placing the sign too high. The eyes of drivers tend to stay focused at windshield height. Low signs are better in town. Tall signs are better on freeways where they will be read – at windshield height – from great distances.

Great signs are always the most interesting piece of scenery in their vicinity. This is why they’re noticed even when people aren’t looking for them. Would you like to have such a sign?

Believe it or not, it’s possible. Not cheap or easy, but possible.

Consider the sprawling white letters stretched across a hillside in southern California: HOLLYWOOD, a landmark known around the world. Did you know that sign was originally erected by a real estate developer to identify his remote suburban subdivision, Hollywoodland?

These are the little-known factors that turn business signs into landmarks:

1. They are dramatic. This can be due to the fact that they’re:

A. grossly oversized,
B. strangely placed, or
C. 3-dimensional

The HOLLYWOOD sign fits all 3 criteria.

2. They are incongruent, contrasting sharply with their surroundings due to:

A. Color. Snow white HOLLYWOOD letters against a hillside of dark brown and green.
B. Installation. The famous HOLLYWOOD sign is not on a pole or a board. Its individual letters sit directly on the ground.
C. Context. There is nothing immediately around it to distract from it. Or if there is something important nearby, it is incorporated into the sign itself.

3. There is something wrong with it. Ever notice how the HOLLYWOOD letters aren’t level, but rise and fall with the terrain?

I doubt if the builder of that Hollywood sign did these brilliant things intentionally. The point is they worked, even if some of them were accidental. Do you have the courage and determination to repeat on purpose the things he did right by accident?

These 4 obstacles could hold you back:

1. Sign codes and ordinances.
2. Opinions of friends.
3. Recommendations of “professionals,” such as the sign company, the architect, or the manager of the shopping center. (Remember, these are same the people responsible for creating all the signs that are currently invisible.)
4. The budget.

If you are able to bulldoze past these roadblocks, the public will soon be using your sign as a reference point when giving directions.

10 Things Never to Do in Your Advertising

Never, Never, Never

By Roy H. Williams

“The mundane, the predictable and the usual are filtered and rejected from our consciousness. Win the customer’s attention with words and phrases that are new, surprising and different.”

1. Never promise everything you plan to deliver. Leave something to become the delight factor.

That unexpected, extra bit you deliver “because we love you” will go a long way toward helping the customer forgive and forget any areas where you may have fallen short.

Great ads are written in three steps:

(1.) How to End. What will be the Last Mental Image your ad presents to your customer? Begin with the end in mind.

(2.) Where to Begin. A clear but interesting angle of approach will gain the customer’s attention.

(3.) What to Leave Out. Surprise is the foundation of delight. What will you intentionally leave out of your ad so that you can deliver a delightful surprise? What will you leave out so that the imagination of the customer is engaged?

2. Never begin a sentence with the word, “Imagine…”
If you’re planning to take your customer on a journey of imagination, plunge them into it.

“The wheels of your airplane touch down, but not in the city you were promised…” “You must now choose between two good things…” “If you had more enemies like these, you wouldn’t need friends…”

3. Never include your name in an ad more often than it would be spoken in normal conversation. Cramming your name where it doesn’t belong is AdSpeak. Back when Americans encountered one thirtieth as many ads each day, the rule was to repeat the name of the advertiser as often as possible. Do this today and your ads will sound like they were written in the 1940s.

4. Never conjure an unpleasant mental image. Fear and disgust work face-to-face, but they often backfire when used in mass media. Conjure these unpleasant emotions in the minds of the masses and you’ll leave your listeners with a vaguely bad feeling attached to your name. They’ll want to avoid you, but they won’t be able to recall exactly why.

5. Never respond to a challenge from a competitor smaller than you. Drawing attention to a smaller competitor makes them larger in the eyes of the public. Conversely, if someone bigger than you is foolish enough to shine their spotlight on you, dance in it.

6. Never claim to have exceptional service. Most people won’t believe you. And those who do believe you will expect more from your staff than they can possibly deliver. It’s a lose/lose proposition. Rather than promise exceptional service in your ads, tell the public something objective, factual and verifiable that causes them to say, “Wow. Those people really serve their customers.” Never praise yourself. Do things that make the customer praise you.

7. Never mention the recession. I understand how tempting it is to say, “In order to help you combat the recession we’re offering…” But all that really does is remind the customer that now is not a good time to be spending money.

8. Never make a claim you don’t immediately support with evidence. Unsubstantiated claims are the worst form of AdSpeak. Give the customer facts, details and objective proof if you want to win their confidence. Specifics are more believable than generalities.

9. Never use humor that doesn’t reinforce the principal point of your ad. Here’s the litmus test: If remembering the humor forces you to recall the message of the ad, the humor is motivated. Good job. But if recalling the humor doesn’t put you in memory of the ad’s main point, the humor is unmotivated and will make your ad less effective. Sure, people will like the ad. They just won’t buy what you’re selling.

10. Never say things in the usual way. From billboards to storefronts to packaging to messages on T-shirts, ads whisper and wheedle and cajole and shout to win our attention.

A 1978 Yankelovich study reported that the average American was confronted with more than 2,000 advertising messages per day. But that was 30 years ago. When Yankelovich revisited the study in 2008, the number had jumped to more than 5,000 messages per day.

The mundane, the predictable and the usual are filtered and rejected from our consciousness. Win the customer’s attention with words and phrases that are new, surprising and different.

Come to Wizard Academy. We’ll teach you how.

Previous Issues:

Making Your Name Stick

Information. Ideas. Action. Commitment.

Contrasting to Become the Unmistakable Choice

Money is Flooding to Lower Ticket Items

Closing Thought:
“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” - Unknown Author
Thanks to Wizard Partner Josh Stevens for sending the above quote.

Catch you next week.

Craig Arthur
Wizard Partners
- Helping Business Owners Attract, Convert, and Delight Customers
Strategy + Persuasive Copy + Advertising + Customer Experience + Online

Part of the Wizard of Ads group of companies

PS. Need help to attract more customers and grow your business?

Our Promise? We will NEVER try to sell you.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call, or send us an email.

We look forward to hearing your story.

Australia & New Zealand
Call Craig Arthur - (07) 4728 4866 or send an email

United States & Canada
Call Dave Young - 308-254-2732 or send an email

Call Tom Wanek - 440-610-9746 or send an email

Call or email to book a FREE alignment meeting. No obligation. No pressure. It is at this meeting we both decide if there is a fit between our 2 companies. It is only then can we explore your options. We will never try to sell you. Call (07) 4728 4866.

Wizard Partners Australia. Call Us: (07) 4728 4866

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Predictions from the Past

I was going through about 300 emails this afternoon and found a link to this video. Check it out:

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It's all about the People

An interesting article from on Social Media and Marketing:

Easy There, Mr. Popular

"Social media is cool!" proclaims Chris Brogan in a premium article at MarketingProfs. "Blogging and podcasts are cool! We're so cutting edge! Twitter is like the future here today, and no one knows about it!" If you've noticed a certain facetious quality to his enthusiasm, his next line makes clear his disdain for the gee-whiz attitude many people take: "Yeah, whatever."

According to Brogan, achieving success with social-media tools requires a sober analysis of their usefulness, and the smart implementation of well-reasoned strategies that complement traditional marketing efforts. Let's say you've joined Twitter in a professional capacity and now have 3,000 followers. That's great, but now what?

Reaching your business goals means leveraging that network with a solid plan—not just preening over your popularity. If you want sales, for instance, you should start by differentiating between your real-life friends and your customers. "I don't sell to my friends," says Brogan. "My friends sometimes bring me sales. Two totally different things." With customers, meanwhile, you'll want to move them gently to places like email lists where they're more likely to convert. "Don't let them just reside in Twitter," he notes. "Twitter isn't a database."

Your Marketing Inspiration is to keep Web 2.0 in perspective. "Blogging and social media and all these whiz-bang tools don't sell things," says Brogan. "People sell things. People who know how to sell things sell things. This social media stuff [sic] is great, but it's a set of tools, so you've gotta pull out of the 'yippee! hooray!' cloud for a bit and look at basic selling mechanisms."

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Sales Ethics

Think about this past week.

Were you ethical? Everytime? All the time?

Jill Konrath:

Selling to Big Companies Blog

Should you do "whatever it takes" to close the sale?

Posted: 26 Mar 2009 11:01 AM PDT

182732__pinocchio_l Right now, the economy has lots of people running scared. Many sellers are under extreme pressure to bring in more business and close faster. Recently someone wrote to me, concerned with the pressure being exerted on him to do "whatever it takes" to get the deal.

As far as I'm concerned, that's a set up for disaster - and here's why ...

When I started my sales career at Xerox, it was clear that poor performance was unacceptable. Each month, the regional offices would post stack rankings of all the reps showing their monthly numbers as well as their year-to-date results.

Being at the bottom of those stack rankings was not only humiliating, but also meant that you'd likely be out looking for a job before too long. Being and staying on the top was something we all aspired to. The accolades, the money and prestige were enormous – and hugely seductive.

Why am I sharing this? Because sellers at either end of those stack rankings (including me at the time), were likely to "cheat" a little in order to improve their positions. Behaviors I saw exhibited included:

  • Misrepresenting product/service capabilities, mostly through "omission."
  • Selling in other people's territories.
  • Casting unfair aspersions on competitive offerings or even their co-workers.
  • Giving away gifts under the table to sweeten the deal.

So what's the big deal? Each of these non-ethical behaviors (and the host of others that I haven't mentioned) can have serious ramifications.

It eats away at your personal integrity. If you're willing to do one little "cheating" behavior, the next one is easier. Over time, you'll have "sold your soul" in order to get the order.

Once your colleagues discover your willingness to bend the rules to get ahead, this impacts how much they feel they can trust you. Professionally, you'll find yourself becoming more isolated, as they avoid sharing what's really happening.

Upon sensing or actually uncovering your self-serving behaviors, prospects may refuse to do business with you entirely. Or, they'll get rid of you as a vendor as soon as humanly possible. You'll actually lose work in the long run.

Your reputation as an unethical person or business will spread. Even in major metropolitan areas, the news gets around via negative "word of mouth." From what I've read, the average unhappy customer tells a whole lot of their friends.

With the growth of social media, unhappy customers are more than willing to share the entirety of their conversations and interactions with you. They'll post this information on line for the world to see. If a prospect "googles" your company, they'll get a chance to read all about it.

If you're tempted to be even the slightest bit unethical, don't do it
. Instead, do what's right. You can live with yourself much better. And, it's good for business.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Night Marketing News

Mediapost sends this to me 5 days a week:

by Aaron Baar
To accommodate its broader target, Panasonic is running ads on "CNN in the Morning," where it's more likely to encounter business travelers. A similar strategy is being employed in out-of-home, where signage is appearing in airports that see a fair amount of business travelers, such as Chicago, Newark and Atlanta. ... Read the whole story > >
by Les Luchter
The New York Times reported that nine million people who have taken the Web-based health survey and agreed to free membership were getting emails from pharmaceutical companies. Social media and the blogosphere were ablaze with posts expressing mostly shock and outrage but also some with "knew it all along" smugness. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
In all other segments, though, results weakened. Consumer electronics, the company's largest segment, accounting for about 40% of revenues, saw a decline of 8.6% in comparable-store sales. While flat-panel TV sales increased, sales of digital cameras, MP3 players and GPS devices all fell in the low double-digit range. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
"Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi is doing double-duty for CKE: She's also being featured in a similar new commercial for Carl's Jr.'s own Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger. The Hardee's ad will start airing Monday in Midwest and Southeast markets, while the Carl's Jr. ad will run for a limited time in that chain's West Coast markets starting Tuesday. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The National Basketball Association is jumping a lot of sharks this year as it crosses the Atlantic to play in Europe. A number of sponsors are going with. The NBA Europe Live 2009 tour, presented by EA Sports, launches with the Chicago Bulls playing the Utah Jazz at London's O2 Arena this fall. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The company wants engaged couples to see the store as a one-stop shop with everything from engagement and wedding rings and gowns to photo studios, and luggage for the honeymoon. "It's a very key business for us in terms of home products, and this is the season," says a JC Penney spokesperson. "We are seeing lots of pickup in business." ... Read the whole story > >

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Can Internet Advertising Succeed?

Over the weekend, a friend of mine sent me a link to this article via Twitter. I have wondered about this subject myself, being in the radio business, being on the board of our local Advertising Federation, being a lifelong student of what I call relationship marketing, and also being actively involved in various social media and internet operations.

Recently one of my national clients sent a request to all their radio stations, asking if we had twitter accounts. A few radio stations started twitter accounts, but the problem is a majority of the folks in the advertising business, are not keeping up to speed on some of these developments.

THAT is what will kill the advertising business, I believe, not the internet itself. Smart Advertising Pros keep up with the latest trends and learn and adapt.

The Following is from TechCrunch:

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Eric Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In it, he argues that the Internet shatters all forms of advertising. “The problem is not the medium, the problem is the message, and the fact that it is not trusted, not wanted, and not needed,” he writes. The views he expresses are his own, and we present them here to foster debate. (Obviously, we hope there is a place for advertising on the Internet since it pays our bills).

    1. There Must Be Something Other Than Advertising:

The expected drop in internet advertising revenues this year was neither unpredictable nor unpredicted, nor was it caused solely by the general recession and the decline in retail sales. Internet advertising will rapidly lose its value and its impact, for reasons that can easily be understood. Traditional advertising simply cannot be carried over to the internet, replacing full-page ads on the back of The New York Times or 30-second spots on the Super Bowl broadcast with pop-ups, banners, click-throughs on side bars. This might be a subject where considerable disagreement is possible, if indeed, pushed ads were still working in traditional media. Mostly they have failed. One newspaper after another is going out of business across the United States, and the ad revenues of traditional print media, even of highly respected magazines, is declining. The ultimate failure of broadcast media advertising is likewise becoming clear.

Pushing a message at a potential customer when it has not been requested and when the consumer is in the midst of something else on the net, will fail as a major revenue source for most internet sites. This is particularly true when the consumer knows that the sponsor of the ad has paid to have this information, which was verified by no one, thrust at him. The net will find monetization models and these will be different from the advertising models used by mass media, just as the models used by mass media were different from the monetization models of theater and sporting events before them. Indeed, there has to be some way to create websites that do other than provide free access to content, some of it proprietary, some of it licensed, and some of it stolen, and funded by advertising.

The idea that content has a price and net applications should find ways to earn a profit without providing free access to other people’s content gets explosive reactions; when virtual reality pioneer and tech guru Jaron Lanier suggested in a New York Times Op Ed that authors deserved to be paid for their content he actually received death threats. But other models are possible and several suggestions for alternative forms of monetization are offered below.

    2. Advertising will fail:

The internet is the most liberating of all mass media developed to date. It is participatory, like swapping stories around a campfire or attending a renaissance fair. It is not meant solely to push content, in one direction, to a captive audience, the way movies or traditional network television did. It provides the greatest array of entertainment and information, on any subject, with any degree of formality, on demand. And it is the best and the most trusted source of commercial product information on cost, selection, availability, and suitability, using community content, professional reviews and peer reviews.

My basic premise is that the internet is not replacing advertising but shattering it, and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, and all the creative talent of Madison Avenue cannot put it together again. To analyze this statement we need a working definition of advertising, and I proposed the following, which is as general as I could make it:

Advertising is using sponsored commercial messages to build a brand and paying to locate these messages where they will be observed by potential customers performing other activities; these messages describe a product or service, its price or fundamental attributes, where it can be found, its explicit advantages, or the implicit benefits from its use.

It is frequently argued that the advertising industry will provide sufficient innovation to replace the loss of traditional ads on traditional mass media. Again, my basic premise rejects this, suggesting that simple commercial messages, pushed through whatever medium, in order to reach a potential customer who is in the middle of doing something else, will fail. It’s not that we no longer need information to initiate or to complete a transaction; rather, we will no longer need advertising to obtain that information. We will see the information we want, when we want it, from sources that we trust more than paid advertising. We will find out what we need to know, when we want to make a commercial transaction of any kind. The conventional wisdom is that this is exactly what paid search helps us to do, but all too often they are nothing more than a form of misdirection, as I explain further below. Instead, we will use information that we trust, obtained at the time that we want to see it.

Better targeting of ads using individual interests and individual behaviors will ensure that we do not bore or annoy as many people with each ad, but cannot address the trust issue. As for paid search, it is closer to other mechanisms that allow a website to sell access to potential customers. It works effectively as a revenue source for Google, of course. But it surely is not replicable for the average content website.

    3. Advertising will fail for three reasons:

There are three problems with advertising in any form, whether broadcast or online:

  • Consumers do not trust advertising. Dan Ariely has demonstrated that messages attributed to a commercial source have much lower credibility and much lower impact on the perception of product quality than the same message attributed to a rating service. Forrester Research has completed studies that show that advertising and company sponsored blogs are the least-trusted source of information on products and services, while recommendations from friends and online reviews from customers are the highest.
  • Consumers do not want to view advertising. Think of watching network TV news and remember that the commercials on all the major networks are as closely synchronized as possible. Why? If network executives believed we all wanted to see the ads they would be staggered, so that users could channel surf to view the ads; ads are synchronized so that users cannot channel surf to avoid the ads.
  • And mostly consumers do not need advertising. My own research suggests that consumers behave as if they get much of their information about product offerings from the internet, through independent professional rating sites like or community content rating services like or TripAdvisor

Yes, both network executives and their ad agencies have noted that we are not watching traditional ads, and they attribute this to the fact that we have moved beyond newspapers, televised network news, and broadcast movies, to video games, iPods, and the internet. Porting ads to a new medium will not solve the three problems noted above. The problem is not the medium, the problem is the message, and the fact that it is not trusted, not wanted, and not needed.

    4. Alternative models for monetization are available:

Again, my research suggests that there are three general categories for creating value that can be monetized, including selling real things, selling virtual things, and selling access. Some websites exist solely to sell real things. Many of the best-known perform aggregation of demand, so that there will be enough customers to justify stocking and selling items for which there is only limited demand. Amazon is merely the best-known example. Sites like Amazon and Zappos are especially good for long tail items … where else do you go for a copy of the Green Sea of Heaven, Elizabeth T. Gray’s magnificent translation of the Ghazals of Hafiz, or for a pair of size 20 basketball shoes? Selling real things online has been studied since the advent of interest in eCommerce and will not be discussed further here. Other websites sell virtual things. These activities fall into three categories:

  • Selling content and information, from digital music to news and information. Some of these sites are funded by subscriptions, like Gartner Research; some are by direct micropayments for purchases, like iTunes; and some currently attempt to fund themselves through advertising, like Business Week or The New York Times, while still searching for a more effective business model.
  • Selling experience and participation in a virtual community, including Second Life and World of Warcraft, Facebook and MySpace, Flickr and YouTube, or LinkedIn. Not all of these have found a way to charge for participation.
  • Selling accessories for virtual communities, like completed homes and stores, furnishings, clothing, and pets in Second Life or characters and accessories that would be difficult to earn in World of Warcraft, although this behavior is generally despised by serious World of Warcraft players.

Finally, some websites create and sell access to customers. Again, this can be divided into multiple categories.

  • Misdirection, or sending customers to web locations other than the ones for which they are searching. This is Google’s business model. Monetization of misdirection frequently takes the form of charging companies for keywords and threatening to divert their customers to a competitor if they fail to pay adequately for keywords that the customer is likely to use in searches for the companies’ products; that is, misdirection works best when it is threatened rather than actually imposed, and when companies actually do pay the fees demanded for their keywords. Misdirection most frequently takes the form of diverting customers to companies that they do not wish to find, simply because the customer’s preferred company underbid. Misdirection also includes misinformation, such as telling a customer that a hotel is sold out when, indeed it is still available, if the hotel has chosen not to pay a promotional fee, and then allowing the guest to choose an alternative property. Misdirection is, regrettably, still a popular business model on the net, although for reasons I explored in an earlier TechCrunch post on Google it seems ultimately to be unsustainable. More significantly from the perspective of this post, it is not scalable; it is not possible for every website to earn its revenue from sponsored search and ultimately at least some of them will need to find an alternative revenue model.
  • Evaluation, assessment, and validation. The opposite of sending a customer someplace other than where he wants is providing the customer enough information for him to make an informed choice on his own. Recommendations on allow potential guests to evaluate and validate recommendations provided by; not surprisingly, originally owned TripAdvisor, and benefited greatly from it. Since did not attempt to influence or censor TripAdvisor content the website was (and is) trusted and helped put recommendations from at a level of trust comparable to those from an experienced travel agent. There are at present only a few other examples of website symbiosis like this, where community content on one site adds considerable value for another; consider also the relationship between the Beeryard’s list of new beers and, where clicking on the name of a newly arrived beer at the Beeryard will allow you to examine reviews on
  • Social search. Social search is a way of tailoring search based on the user’s network of friends. Rather than searching for any hotel in Chicago, or for any hotel that paid for the keywords “hotel” and “Chicago” I would like to be able to ask for the hotel where my friends stay when they are in Chicago. This invades no one’s privacy, avoids the annoyance of pushing ads at me when I am not searching for something to buy, and provides more relevant results than paid search usually can deliver. There are many problems with this, including the fact that my friends may not be on Facebook or other networks yet and those that are may not post their hotel or automobile or restaurant preferences. Most seriously, while it is clear how Microsoft might benefit from this, using its Facebook connection to undercut Google sponsored search, it is not clear how Microsoft or any other firm could monetize this directly.
  • Contextual mobile ads. At present contextual mobile ads delivered by SMS appear to offer much promise. Imagine a hypothetical all-knowing information-based firm that (i) knows your location because you have registered to have the information from your in-phone GPS shared with your friends and (ii) knows that you like Thai restaurants because it monitors the content of your email and your online restaurant searches and (iii) knows that you are hungry because you just said so in a text message or Twitter post you sent from your phone. What a great time for them to text you an advertisement for a nearby Thai restaurant, sent directly to your phone. But why would you trust this? I remember when used to refer me to the same hotel, albeit at different prices, when I asked for a two-star or three-star hotel close to my office; I was never sure which was more amusing, the 80% price increase for the same hotel when I was willing to splurge on a three-star for my visitor, or the fact that there were comparable hotels 20 blocks closer to my office. I suspect that my hypothetical all-knowing firm will similarly be providing sponsored content; perhaps I will take a couple of additional seconds in order to find the restaurant I really want. This probably does not work as a form of advertising.

Of course no one knows yet, but if I had to guess, based on my meatspace experience, I would offer the following guesses for successfully monetizing the net in the future:

  • Selling Virtual Things: People will pay for superior, timely, original content and for superior online experiences. Presently I willingly pay for the Financial Times, The Economist, and Foreign Affairs, I value the content, and, indeed, I feel I need it; I will continue to pay for them online. Perhaps I would not be willing to pay for archive material, which I expect that I would be able to find elsewhere, but I will cheerfully pay for the newest content online. Similarly, I willingly pay the cover change for my favorite jazz clubs in New York, and expect that I would cheerfully pay to participate in Second Life or World of Warcraft if, indeed, I had any interest in those virtual experiences. I guess, ultimately, if we compete for status through our purchases of accessories, clothes and homes in meatspace we will probably continue to purchase virtual accessories in Second Life, though I can’t say I fully understand this yet.
  • Selling Access. Misdirection will fail totally and completely. I use a Mac, but I have abandoned Safari for Firefox. I have an iPhone and an iPod but I have never used the little white earbuds, preferring instead to purchase a pair of Shure E500 phones that I think sound vastly superior. Similarly, I would be equally happy to purchase a search service that worked for me, rather than accept a free one that works both against me and against the firms I patronize. In contrast, while people will continue to value community content and social search, these will be difficult to monetize. Finally, contextual mobile ads will, likewise be difficult to monetize. With information easily available, I will make my own restaurant choices, irrespective of those pushed at me via SMS, especially when I know that those pushed at me have been pushed for a fee, rather than based on an impartial assessment of my preferences. Yes, I can imagine SMS ads initially succeeding if they provide discounts, but ultimately this leads to little more than a bidding war for traffic and benefits no one other than the firm that provides the text messaging services. I can think of a few commercial SMS services that will benefit everyone, such as letting the most loyal guests of a restaurant know when it is still possible to get a reservation if they act immediately, eliminating the inefficiency of empty tables, but the restaurant will do this itself, using its email or cell phone contact lists. I don’t see this as advertising, or as being monetized by any intermediary. Of course, in an age before texting and email restaurants would have welcomed the all-knowing intermediary as the only mechanism available for communicating quickly with its most loyal customers. Now, restaurants have lists of their most loyal customers and can send out real time messages of interest. If the Blue Note were to text me on some night that I am in New York that it is still possible to get a table for two for Clark Terry, or Tria were to text me on a day when I was in Philadelphia that, surprisingly, there was no wait for an outdoor table right now, I’m sure I would respond to both. Of course there is no intermediary for this interaction, and this is more like direct communication than paid advertising.

The internet is about freedom, and I suspect that a truly free population will not be held captive and forced to watch ads. We always knew that freedom comes at a price; perhaps the price of internet freedom and the failure of ads will be paying a fair price for the content and the experience and the recommendations that we value.

(Photo by nickyfern).

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This is from the Bad Pitch Blog. Read through it and see how you can apply it to your sales life:

Show Glamorous Passion: A Thought for Today

Always be gutsy. Yes, “always” doing anything is hard to imagine, but dealing with press people is a game, and it’s a two-way street that never ends. Be out there with your heart in it, don’t take no or maybe for an answer, show glamorous passion, and just, well … go for it. You’d be surprised at how many reporters or producers will stop what they’re doing, sit up, and pay attention, because these people darn well respect your gumption.

Stay informed about the world. I can’t say this enough! Any reporter will tell you to tie your idea to a trend. Sharpen … sharpen … sharpen! Smart PR pros need to make trend watching a 24/7 habit. Only then will you be sharp enough to spot the fresh ideas that make your company a natural tie-in to the news.

Take the words “I don’t care” out of your mouth forever. Do you hate sports? Well, before you paper your bird cage with the sports section, at least skim through it. You may find a tie-in to your company that you would never have dreamed of if you’d considered it fit only for canary carpet. By the same token, if you don’t normally talk to people who are interested in arts and culture—maybe you’re a techie who lives and breathes routers and switches and VPNs— start hanging out with a cultural crowd in your workplace. Or just go to a new play or art exhibit once in a while.

Everyone in the biz will tell you that reporters like to talk to well-rounded people. Plus, you’ll be much more fun at parties. But if you talk nothing but gobbledygook, journalists will get bored even if their job is to cover your industry.

I also suggest identifying some well-known trend watchers whose ideas you respect and trust. Perhaps it’s a pundit with political leanings similar to your own, or a writer for the New Yorker or the Economist whose work you find insightful. Or, better yet, start reading the work of writers with whom you don’t agree, for a different perspective and a better shot at seeing the whole picture. Whomever you choose, follow their work as often as you can. Seek out their books, their articles, and their broadcast appearances. This knowledge gives you grist for all of your dealings with the media.

Here’s one piece of advice that PR pros know but won’t tell people: Think kindly toward the media! Journalists aren’t as jaded as you’ve been told or led to imagine. That “I’ve-heard-it-all-before” attitude doesn’t exist, at least not among journalists of any repute. Faced with shrinking newsroom staffs and resources, plus far heavier workloads, journalists today can’t afford that brand of cynicism.

No, they want help from good sources.

Thankfully, in-the-know types are pushing for change. What’s the media of the future going to be like, then? Interactive news means a broader world, allowing us to see much more than ever before. According to veteran news guys, networks will one day put up a “barker channel” that will steer you to interactive applications. If you want to get more information on a current event, you’d simply click on a certain spot on your screen. The result looks like Headline News, except that you’ll be able to click on the little paragraphs to get in-depth information on the story in broadcast-quality video. Dreams like that bode well for us in the news gathering and information industry, which is exactly what PR people must match and compete with daily.

The people who make news are coming to grips with a news flash:

Digital doesn’t have to mean trivial. Matt Drudge, master of all things light and airy, said a few years ago: “Sure it will be digital, but it will be larger, more gorgeous than ever before, and completely and utterly fascinating, in order to grab [the] attention of an ingrained, thrill-seeking world.” …And a super well-informed one at that, right?

One of the coolest things about being a really informed person is that you’ll be brimming with fresh ideas, from fashion to corporate management. You then become one of those sources reporters love: a PR pro who tosses out interesting ideas and trends, even if they’re not always linked to a story about your company or product. And voilĂ ! You will soon become an expert in the “thought-you’d-be-interested-in-this” e-mail subject, one of our favorite things to do (except, of course, in 2001, when it became the header of an e-mail containing a huge virus).

This way, next time you call with a pitch, you’ve already built up a reservoir of honest respect.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Night Marketing News

From Mediapost:

by Karlene Lukovitz
"We hadn't focused on pursuing a younger age group up to this point, but with more consumers moving to quick-service restaurants to be kinder on their wallets --yet not wanting to sacrifice on the quality of their food --we saw an opportunity," says CEO Jeff Harvey. "A couple of months into this program, we're seeing double the sales we'd projected." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"Ford is acutely aware that current economic conditions have had a significant adverse impact on our shareholders, customers, dealers, employees and other stakeholders," the company said in the preliminary proxy. "We do not view these actions as merely symbolic, but as a necessary step in the restructuring of our business in which all our stakeholders have been asked to participate." ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
GameFly's strategy was born out of consumer research that gamers hated paying upwards of $50 for a game, only to discover it wasn't what they expected or wanted, says WongDoody's Michael Boychuk. "It was overpowering how much everybody related to this." The company took advantage of consumers' knowledge of how Netflix works. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
The drop in fragrance sales, which have been declining slightly for several years, was steepest at 6%. But the NPD Group says the 3% dip in makeup sales is more surprising. Skincare sales were flat, which means "this is the first year each beauty category truly struggled," it reports. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Mintel found in its survey that Hispanics are more likely to have profiles on social networking sites than non-Hispanics: 48% of them have one versus 43% of black Americans and 31% of whites. And, per the firm, it is young Hispanic consumers driving the trend. Web-surfing Hispanics 18-34 visit social networking sites 3.6 times a week on average. ... Read the whole story > >

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Fresh Ideas

I get this each week from

Man reclining on huge art bed Hotel rooms scattered across the city of Linz
Tourism & travel

Linz has scattered unique hotel lodgings throughout the city’s
metropolitan area, in effect turning the entire city into a one large

Games and an Amazon gift card Amazon trades gift cards for used video games
Retail / Gaming

Offering consumers a convenient way to sell unused games, Amazon
has launched a program to offer gift cards in exchange for second-
hand video games.

Excavators at play Playground for men features heavy equipment
Lifestyle & leisure

For EUR 219, visitors to Männerspielplatz can shed their office
trappings and get seriously dirty while playing with excavators, wheel
loaders, Caterpillars, quads, Jeeps and more.

Illustration of a hand holding causes Donated site helps families keep their homes
Non-profit / Social cause

SmallCanBeBig was formed on the premise that small donations
can add up to a big difference for families on the brink of financial

OfficePOD against white background Garden offices geared for telecommuting
Homes & housing

For employers who want to give their staff the option of working at
home, the OfficePOD is a 2-by-2-metre freestanding structure that
can be installed in a day, typically without planning consent.

Illustration of a person biking down a hill Bikesharing comes to Asia

We've already featured bike-sharing schemes in Paris and other
cities in Europe and North America, and recently we spotted a few
like-minded efforts popping up in Asia.

Spareground's logo Helping consumers rent out unused space
Marketing & advertising

Spareground bills itself as "the one-stop shop for finding somewhere
to store your sports equipment, keep your caravan for the winter, park
your car, graze your horse or find somewhere to display your art."

Two women doing Jukari exercises Fitness class by Reebok & Cirque du Soleil
Lifestyle & leisure

Much like a free-hanging trapeze, the Jukari FlySet -- developed by
Reebok and Cirque du Soleil -- can be used for swinging, jumping,
hanging, kicking, pulling up and strengthening.

Example of email signature for fighting global warming Email signatures with a fundraising twist
Non-profit / Social cause

San Francisco-based Replyforall gives users a way to raise money
for their favourite causes by simply adding a tailored signature to the
e-mails they normally send.

Profile image of a dog named Cookie Bear Social networking for dogs
Media & publishing / Lifestyle & leisure

A social networking site designed for dogs, Dogtree is a free service
that aims to help dog owners find playmates and walking friends for
their canine companions.

Detail of a jar of Beerenberg jam Tracing jam back to the strawberry farm
Food & beverage

Condiment maker Beerenberg has introduced Provenance Pathway,
an online tool that lets customers trace their jam or sauce from ‘soil
to shelf’.

A playground in Asheville, NC Playgrounds, mapped & reviewed
Lifestyle & leisure

The KaBOOM! Playspace Finder is a user-generated online directory
that lets anyone enter, search for and rate play spaces in their

Cookies A tryvertising lab for San Diego
Marketing & advertising

Sample U is a joint effort with Alliant International University to offer
new market research opportunities for sampling and testing new

Front end of a Renault car Free car for the weekend, no strings attached
Automotive / Marketing & advertising

It’s the equivalent of being handed a cute puppy, knowing you can give
it back if you don’t want it: Renault is hoping that once consumers
spend a weekend with its new Megane Hatch, they'll want to keep it.

Cloudy skies Emails warn patients of health-changing weather
Life hacks

Developed to warn them in advance, MediClim emails registered
users when changes in humidity, pollen count, barometric pressure
and temperature might change how they feel.

TerraCycle recycling unit TerraCycle collects non-recyclables at big-box stores
Eco & sustainability / Retail

Partnering with brands like Best Buy and Home Depot, TerraCycle is
introducing a non-recyclable packaging collection system in American
big-box chain stores.

Illustration of a boy holding a SmartyCard Learning site motivates kids with real rewards

SmartyCard offers what it calls the world's first "learn, earn and play"
experience by rewarding kids for completing educational games
with prizes from popular vendors and family sites.

Festive table set for dinner Event-planning niche: wedding rehearsal dinners
Lifestyle & leisure

Aiming to deliver a stress-free, memorable pre-wedding celebration,
Well Rehearsed is an event planning company that focuses solely
on rehearsal dinners.

Four Irish faces Crowdsourcing economic solutions for Ireland
Non-profit / Social cause

In Ireland, a new grassroots initiative is aiming to tap into the wisdom
of the crowds, through a campaign to solicit ideas for the country's
economic recovery.

Envelope on Zumbox's website A paperless alternative to the postal system
Life hacks

Zumbox has created an online mailbox for every street address in the
US, so anyone in the country can begin using its service immediately
to send and receive all-digital mail for free.

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New Ad Campaigns

From Amy:

Baseball. Sex. Mini Cabrios. Not necessarily in that order. Let's launch!

Gatorade launched a TV and print campaign promoting G2, its low-calorie sports drink. The campaign teams up well-known professional athletes such as NBA star Kevin Garnett, Candace Parker of the WNBA and volleyball player Kerri Walsh with athletes in their own right, everyday athletes who have one thing in common with their more recognizable counterparts: the same first name. The first TV spot pairs Kevin Garnett with Kevin Crowe, a man who took up swimming daily as a stress reliever after he was laid off twice in one year. "I've never had to tell my wife we can't pay the mortgage," says Garnett. "I've never led the Celtics to an NBA title," counters Crowe. Watch the ad here. I like the concept of the ads, pairing ordinary athletes with those carrying household name status, but comparing someone who makes millions a year playing a professional sport, not including endorsement deals, to someone unemployed, does not sit right with me. Focus on the positive, not the unpleasant reality. Print ads, seen here, here and here, feature side-by-side "Kevins," "Candaces" and "Kerris" and a list of obstacles each individual has overcome. All creative elements encourage athletes to share their stories at TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles created the campaign.

Kohler launched a print and TV campaign this month that depicts its kitchen and bathroom fixtures as a way for homeowners to add some personal touches around the house. In the first TV spot we see a whale swimming above and underwater while a woman takes a bath. She ups the volume on her VibrAcoustic bath, which allows her to hear sound underwater. The spot ends with the woman and whale relaxedly floating underwater. See the ad here. Love hurts, but having strong Kohler cast-iron sinks helps deflect some of that pain. A chef learned that lesson the hard way in "Cooking Class." His jilted lover interrupts his class by slamming the lesson's worth of food and pots into two sinks. "Today's lesson: the importance of durable Kohler cast-iron sinks and honesty is the best policy." Watch the ad here. Print ads, seen here, here, here, here and here, range from a modern feel to a classic theme. I personally love the "boat" in a bottle, which, in actuality, is three white toilets back to back to back. And the admiring captain looks much like hero pilot Captain Sully Sullenberger. GSD&M Idea City created the campaign and Carat handled the media buy.

Valspar paints launched a TV, print, online and outdoor campaign that oozes color. It's great, and the TV ads are not what you're used to seeing when you think of a commercial for paint. One TV spot begins with a cello losing its caramel luster. Next, the bright red color from a group of Chinese lanterns vanishes. "Now the colors of life can last a lifetime," says a voiceover, as the paint from a statue drips into a can of Valspar. See the ad here. Print and outdoor ads follow the same theme, showing lively colors from a violin, peppers and a gorgeous purple starfish dripping into a Valspar paint can. See the ads here, here and here. Euro RSCG Chicago created the campaign and MPG handled the media buy.

MINI Cabrio is launching a global print and TV campaign next week that takes the "Always Open" tag line seriously. Don't even think about putting the top up. A man is paroled from jail and picked up in a MINI Cabrio, top down, in "Best Buddies." The parolee is obviously cold and makes the extreme error of reaching for the button to put the top up. The driver leaves him on the side of the road with a briefcase and the contents he left jail with. Watch the ad here. Duelling MINIs play chicken in another ad. The cars speed through muddy water, getting the car, and themselves, dirty. And the game continues. See the ad here. The third ad shows two friends throughout history, where one friend constantly tries to shield his buddy from downpours, never grasping that the friend loves the rain. Watch the ad here. Print ads showcase the MINI Cabrio in different colors, with the roof down, along with copy such as "Rain is just a four letter word." See the ads here, here and here, created by Plantage Berlin.

The Chicago White Sox launched two of five TV spots that will run throughout spring training. And you thought you had unusual rituals. The first ad shows a man who grows a beard beginning with the last day of the regular season until opening day. His wife disapproves, leaving him constant hints, like disposable razors in his cereal box. Watch the ad here. His beard is impressive, but not as useful as this man's beard. One man's tradition of catching foul balls and home runs does not end once the season is completed. He practices year-round, which makes for interesting dinners. Catching spaghetti is harder than it looks. See the ad here. Energy BBDO created the campaign.

Here's another campaign heavy on color, especially lots of pastels. This time it's Ray-Ban. The global effort kicked off with a viral ad showing a chameleon morphing into the color of whatever Ray-Ban it touched. See it here. Shorter snippets consist of a stick of dynamite dropped into a can of paint; a drill outfitted with crayons; and a cannon loaded with seeds that fires a bouquet of roses. See the ads here, here and here. Print ads, running in Rolling Stone, GQ, Details, Fader, Nylon and Blender, follow the drill and feature something explosive on one side of the ad and a colorized painted face on the other. See them here, here and here. In addition to the brand work, ads were created to relaunch the Clubmaster sunglasses. Each poster is half modern and half retro. Check them out here and here. Cutwater created the campaign.

LifeStyles Condoms launched a TV spot promoting its latex-free SKYN Condom. Eschewing humor, typically used in condom ads, this spot gets right down to the nitty-gritty, showing couples making out in dark lit hallways, undressing in the back of a car, or in the bedroom. See the ad here, which is also running online at and AMP Agency created the ad.

Yesterday was World TB Day, and Seiter & Miller launched a TV campaign to raise awareness about the global epidemic that kills one person every 20 seconds. The spot likens the TB epidemic to that of a plane crashing or a natural disaster. The last two events may be out of your control, but stopping TB is within reach. "Deadly. Contagious. Treatable. Stoppable," concludes the ad, seen here.

Amy Corr is managing editor, online newsletters for MediaPost. She can be reached at

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