Saturday, May 23, 2009

Social Media & Marketing: Still Figuring it Out

One of the best things about the Internet is the price. FREE.

So much stuff is free, how does anyone make money? Take a look at this report from and click on the charts to make them BIGGER:

Social Media Generates Hype; Fails to Deliver Marketing Punch

A new study argues that social media has reached its tipping point, with 83% of the online population now using it in some form - and more than half do so on a regular basis, reports MarketingVOX.

Despite its popularity, socnet platforms - including Facebook, Twitter and the like - have failed to demonstrate prowess as marketing tools, and possibly never will, according to Knowledge Networks, which released the report, titled “How People Use Social Media.”

The latter is based on a survey of 418 social media users, responding to the question “How often do you refer to social media Web sites or features as a resource for information, reviews, or recommendations when in the market for [category]?”

Ultimately, Knowledge Networks parked the value of social media advertising as “somewhere in the long tail” of other marketing offerings - well below word-of-mouth (WOM) recommendations and TV advertising.

Categorically, social media is most likely to influence the consumption of media-related products or services, particularly books, movies, TV shows and music.

Overall, however, less than 5% of social media users regularly visit such networks for “guidance on purchase decisions.” And only 16% say they are more likely to buy from the following product or service categories after seeing ads on social sites:


“Obviously, a lot of people are using social media, but they are not explicitly turning to it for marketing purposes, or for finding out what products to buy. It’s really about connecting with friends, or connecting with other people,” stated SVP-Group Account Director Dave Tice.

“What we’re seeing is that word-of-mouth is still the #1 most influential source, followed by TV,” Tice said. “The influence of social media isn’t at the bottom of the list, but it is somewhere in the long tail of marketing - about the same as print ads, or online [display] ads.”

According to Tice, only about 1% of the population ever used Twitter - and most of them are members of the media, shining a less favorable light on data from previous, less explicit studies: the Pew Internet & American Life Project found 11% of US online adults said they used Twitter or a similar microblogging service to share or view updates; but 51% of Americans don’t use services from brand names Twitter, MySpace or Facebook, according to a Harris Poll.

“[Twitter is] more of a media industry thing right now,” Tice said, comparing Twitter to services that rode significant waves of hype early on, such as TiVo, a service once thought destined to destroy TV advertising.

In reality, Tice said, few people subscribed to the service overall; and digital video recording services are now de facto offerings by cable firms that sell set-top devices. Eventually, the ad industry and the evolving TV medium found a way to coexist, as demonstrated by a 2005 liaison between TiVo and DirecTV to sell ads.

“Whereas TiVo dominated the conversation around television, we’ve seen Twitter dominate conversations around marketing. What is also similar is that both are examples of ‘flyover blindness’: while popular topics among the urban digerati, neither - TiVo then or Twitter now - are significant in terms of usage among the general population across the country,” the report reads.

Despite the naysaying, Tice admits Twitter influences the media’s discourse in a major way - which may influence consumer perceptions about the service in general.

“While social media is still a minor part of the media and personal mix that consumers use to make decisions, Twitter and its progeny can certainly greatly influence the way the press covers a product or media property - what gets buzz and what doesn’t,” concluded Knowledge Networks.

“Our advice to marketers is, in a tweet-size bite of 140 characters: Twitter is less a way to directly reach customers, and more a way to reach passionate voices who may influence perceptions of your brand,” the company stated.

Ultimately, Knowledge Networks parked the value of social media advertising as “somewhere in the long tail” of other marketing offerings well below word-of-mouth (WOM) recommendations and TV advertising.

A previous study by Nielsen found social networks and web video radically alter online behavior - which naturally affects the way advertisers must cater to users over time.

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It was MySpace

I recall when I signed up for a MySpace account, mainly to spy on my kids!

Problem is in this economy, you have to eventually make money..
A Bleak Outlook for MySpace TechCrunch It looks as though MySpace's last stronghold in social networking is about to fall, as Facebook creeps up on its No. 1 position in the U.S., says TechCrunch's Michael Arrington. Only one year ago it seemed that Facebook would need more than four years to catch up to MySpace in the U.S., but today that has changed, as Facebook has surged to 61 million unique users compared to MySpace's 70 million. Losing the U.S. user war is certainly a big problem, but Arrington says an even bigger concern for the News Corp. company is the rate at which page views are declining. This means that while people are still visiting the site, they are going less and spending less time there than they used to. Stalled growth and fewer page views means fewer advertising impressions, which means less money for MySpace. According to comScore, MySpace page views have declined from 47.4 billion in April 2008 to 38 billion today, or -20%. In that same period, Facebook has grown from 44 billion to 87 billion-close to a 100% increase. And it just gets worse, says Arrington: "In about a year from now MySpace will receive their last welfare payment from Google, and they'll be on their own. They'll have a social network that costs half a billion dollars a year to run. With page views decreasing and the Google money gone there is a strong likelihood that the News Corp. subsidiary will be unprofitable a year from now." - Read the whole story...

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Why I believe in Relationship Sales

From Seth Godin:

"It doesn't hurt to ask"

Actually, it does hurt. It does hurt to ask the wrong way, to ask without preparation, to ask without permission. It hurts because you never get another chance to ask right.

If you run into Elton John at the diner and say, "Hey Elton, will you sing at my daughter's wedding?" it hurts any chance you have to get on Elton John's radar. You've just trained him to say no, you've taught him you're both selfish and unrealistic.

If a prospect walks into your dealership and you walk up and say, "Please pay me $200,000 right now for this Porsche," you might close the sale. But I doubt it. More likely than not you've just pushed this prospect away, turned the sliver of permission you had into a wall of self-protection.

Every once in a while, of course, asking out of the blue pays off. So what? That is dwarfed by the extraordinary odds of failing. Instead, invest some time and earn the right to ask. Do your homework. Build connections. Make a reasonable request, something easy and mutually beneficial. Yes leads to yes which just maybe leads to the engagement you were actually seeking.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Night Marketing News


by Karl Greenberg
As part of the deal with MySpace, artists who submit an original MP3 demo can also create a "widget," a viral rich-media component shaped like a demo tape that MySpace users can add to their profiles and use to post comments on the Toyota Music profile. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
"Banks with high brand image scores typically engage in practices that focus on strong communication with customers, such as welcoming them to the branch office or following up on problems," says the consultancy's Michael Beird. "By focusing on aspects most critical to the banking experience, banks can win the favor of their customers." ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
IndyCar driver Danica Patrick will appear in two commercials, with the first one breaking during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. In one, the driver illustrates the "wrongs" of other companies' prepaid phone plans by putting Patrick's pit crew in skimpy women's clothing (such as tube tops and high heels). "Think that's wrong?" Patrick asks before comparing other prepaid mobile plans to Boost's. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
Still, experts say, even in a down economy, this particular segment of Gen Y has considerable economic impact. While the Millennial "echo boom" peaked in 1990 -- which means those kids are likely finishing up their freshmen year at college -- the birth rate was still quite high in 1991 (with 4.16 million births) and 1992 (4.11 million births). ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
This latest campaign, dubbed "What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar NOW?," commences today with the launch of an official brand site, It features two distinct entry points: "The Freezer," a section offering product news and brand information (now live) and "The Man Cave," a "lounge" designed for the brand's core customer base of men aged 25 to 45. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
J.D. Power and Associates says the rate of decline in new-vehicle retail sales has slowed this month versus the last 12 months, but what the firm calls "a high level of consumer uncertainty" means retail sales are still flat. And there will be a delay in market recovery of two to three months beyond the spring selling season. ... Read the whole story > >

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Justify your Advertising

From Chuck McKay:

Hope is Not a Strategy for Greater Return on Advertising Investment.

A couple of decades ago I introduced a friend who sold pianos to the manager of a local radio station. The manager suggested that the piano salesman consider radio advertising sales. The salesman refused.

"Sometimes advertising works," he said, "and many more times it doesn't. The worst part is you can never predict which is going to happen. I couldn't in good conscience sell something that I don't believe will work."

Ouch. Is advertising more of a gamble than a science?

If advertising is an investment, you should expect to see a predictable profit from that investment. Invest a dollar in advertising, get back four, or five, or six. At the very least, shouldn't you get back a dollar ten?

But if you you don't know whether your ads are driving revenue, you can't very well call it investing. If you don't know whether you'll win, or lose, or break even, you are gambling.

And if you put your money into ads that you "feel" are working, but but can't measure their effect, you're still gambling.

Noted investor Peter Lynch once said, "An investment is simply a gamble in which you've managed to tilt the odds in your favor."

So, maybe effective advertising is that which has been tilted in your favor. Not so much an answer, as a process, which includes better targeting, more effective messaging, and improved media selection.

The purpose of an ad budget?

The reality is that most of us fear that we aren't turning our marketing dollars into profit. Not consistently. Not directly. Which is why we have advertising budgets. To limit risk.

An ad budget serves the same purpose as going to the casino with a hundred dollars in your pocket and saying "When this hundred is gone I'm done playing. Maybe I'll get lucky. But I've got to set a limit on how much I can afford to lose."

Think about it. If you knew you were going to get back more than you spent, why would you ever stop spending?

Perhaps you don't need a budget so much as a lever.

The Greek mathematician, Archimedes, understood leverage. He's reported to have said, "Give me a long enough lever and a place to stand, and I will move the earth."

When applied to advertising, leverage means doing more with less. Getting more bang for your buck. Controlling large sums of revenue with relatively small sums invested in advertising. Stacking the odds in your favor.

But, if you were capable of stacking those odds, wouldn't you also be running more advertising?

A surprising number of companies try to avoid advertising, then force themselves run ads when sales are down or when they have excess inventory.

Unfortunately, they're open for business all of those other days, too. And they need customers to come buy what they sell on every one of them.

That constant need for additional sales makes advertising the most important thing any of us can do for our own business. What other activity can multiply raw dollars with this kind of leverage?

First, measure.

Do you know your rate of return?

Note your sales levels. Run your campaign. Note any change in your sales levels.

Divide increase by the amount spent. This is Return On Advertising Investment (ROAI). If you are bringing in more money than you are spending, your ROAI is positive. Congratulations.

Of course if your advertising is not effective, the negative ROAI produces a constant drain on your resources. Is this why you don't advertise often? Do you justify the resulting poor return as "getting your name out there?"

How effective is your lever?

Is your advertising an investment or a gamble?

The primary question you must ask is the rate of your ROAI. Until you know the answer, this is the only question that matters.

How well does your current marketing stack up? Are you gambling with your advertising budget without even realizing it?


Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover, and choose your business. Questions about Return On Advertising Investment may be directed to

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How to Be Attractive

from a recent email from Jim:

The Attractor Factor

Did you know that being different is an attractor factor?

It's true!

Allow me a quick sidebar:

Last week, Bernadette, my wife and I drove to the East
Coast of Florida for three days.

We stayed at the grand Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
It's a five-star hotel built in 1926.

The hotel was virtually empty. In fact, one night at
dinner we counted two other couples in the dining room.
There were more servers in the dining room than there
were guests.

A lot of business meetings have been canceled this year
because of the recession. Many more have been canceled
out of fear of being chastised by the federal government
for having extravagant annual sales meetings.

In any event it wasn't a pretty sight.

Rants and raves about the Biltmore.

Our first breakfast rated a 2 on a 10 scale. It took 25
minutes to get an order of English muffins and scrambled
eggs. Both arrived cold. We had a tee time so we couldn't
wait for the restaurant to try again.

One of the tractor drivers on the golf course must have
been on steroids and having a bad day. He buzzed us up
and down the fairways on five different golf holes. And
there was hardly anyone else playing golf. I guess he
wanted the golf course to himself.

The next day at breakfast things were much better. We
had the same server we had on the first day but she
must've taken a spur of the moment fast track customer
service training program. Well, she graduated with
flying colors. Our food was served quickly and everything
was hot. Everything was perfect!

Gives new meaning to - "What a difference a day makes."

Okay, now back to the topic.

In sales, being different makes a difference. In fact,
in life being different makes a difference.

Here's an example.

Throughout my life I've been approached by a lot of
different panhandlers.

I see them at traffic lights with cardboard signs.

I see them in cities on the ground with hands extended
hoping for handouts.

Usually, it's nothing creative just a request for some

Every once in a while someone will ask if you can spare
a buck.

A few years ago Bernadette and I had lunch near Wall
Street and took a cab back to the hotel. The cab wasn't
moving because of the traffic jam.

A woman, who looked to be about 70, approached my side
of the cab and said, "Honey - I'm pregnant and diabetic
can you spare a few bucks to help me out." Now really!

Up until last week that was my panhandler's best-of-the-breed.

Bernadette wanted to go to South Beach, about a 20 minute
drive from our hotel.

So off we went. I won't bore you with the details but she
did her touch and see routine in about 20 shops.

On the street again in search for an oceanfront watering
hole we came upon an old man with an old dog.

The dog wasn't wearing a leash. The old man looked at us
and pointed at his dog.

The dog was carrying a pale partially filled with loose
change and dollar bills.

The dog seemed to align himself with us, by walking in the
same direction with us.

The panhandler had delegated the panhandling to his
dog - unbelievable!

The dog looked like he was on the 9-to-5 shift. He
wasn't about to change directions until we made our

And we did. Bernadette took every loose coin from her
purse and gave it to the panhandling dog.

Now that was different.

It got our attention.

It created some interest.

It got us to take action.

It also got our money!

I'll leave you with this question to ponder.

Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary?

In sales being different is an attractor factor!

P.S. There's a sales lesson here for you.

1. Don't blend in with your competition - do everything
you can to stand out!

2. Don't do what the competition is doing - do something

3. Don't hide what makes you unique - share it with people.

If you want to take your attractor factor and kick it up
a notch, you'll get a few good ideas here.

Favorite Quote

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

Follow my Twitters here:

Keep up with Jim's Twitters, rants and raves
plus a whole lot more . . .

Start selling more today and everyday . . .

Jim Meisenheimer

20.5 years . . .

521 customers . . .

72.7% repeat business . . .

P.S. - Discover 57 Sales Tips To Reinvent and
Distinguish Yourself From Your Competition

Jim Meisenheimer | 13506 Blythefield Terrace | Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202 | 941-907-0415

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Night Marketing News


by Karlene Lukovitz
The "Truth in Vodka" campaign, which urges consumers to focus on what's in the bottle rather than pay inflated prices to subsidize gimmicky marketing claims and showy bottle designs, has made the most of the brand's made-for-these times positioning. The brand is 52% ahead of its projected sales for 2009 and on track to be the fastest vodka brand to reach 1 million cases in the U.S. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
The company is relaunching its Target-branded products under the name "Up &Up." The new brand will even ditch Target's famous bull's-eye logo in favor of a more visible arrow design. The launch started back in March with suncare products and will continue through the summer with a big marketing push and eventually include 40 product categories. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Karl Greenberg
The humorous TV spot, which features members of the International Quebradita Dancing Champions, is set in a night club, where patrons are watching a couple do elaborate aerial moves on the dance floor. Unfortunately, the woman, who gets twirled, spun and flipped, has lots of change in her pockets, which spills onto the floor, flies across the room, and sends everyone scurrying for safety. ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
McAfee will promote the site through an extensive online and social media campaign that will include banner ads, trailers and some out-of-home ads. The out-of-home campaign will also contain a mobile code in which people can view trailers and receive updates on their mobile devices. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
The line has 45% less sodium than its predecessor. Sodium content ranges from 430 to 890 mg and averages 220 mg per 3.5 ounces of product, versus 432 mg per 3.5 ounces in the discontinued meal kits. Skillet Creations, each containing two portions, are positioned as a convenient way for busy couples to prepare high-quality meals at home without high sodium levels. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
To back the argument that passing the Climate Bill would create jobs, the American Wind Energy Association has launched a series of documentary-type web videos, and TV and print ads in its push to raise awareness about wind energy with a pragmatic pitch that suggests auto's loss is wind's gain. ... Read the whole story > >

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New Ad Campaigns

Our weekly update from Amy:

By Amy Corr

McDonald's fries are really that good. Bridezillas are back. Milk tames the wildest hair. Let's launch!

If only life ran this smoothly. Sprint Nextel launched "Wedding," an amusing TV spot that posed the question: "What if film crews ran the world?" Weddings would play out just as they do in movies: without a hitch. The ad touts Nextel's direct connect with GPS tracking feature that enables all crewmembers to stay in constant contact. The rain stops, the perfect lighting is achieved, the location of the wedding cake is tracked and a stand-in groom is used to replace the actual one, who's suffering from last-minute jitters. Watch the ad here. Goodby Silverstein & Partners created the campaign, directed by Jim Jenkins of O Positive.

Having unruly hair clearly makes you as unattractive and undesirable as Medusa. And milk will fix that. The California Milk Processor Board launched "Medusa," its latest Spanish-language TV spot, targeting Latina women. A princess remains unmarried, due to unruly hair. The father offers his daughter's hand in marriage to the man who can tame her locks. Weapons and contraptions yield little help; a peasant gives the princess a single glass of milk that turns her snake-like hair straight, shiny and lustrous. The two marry and live happily ever after. Another Hollywood ending. "Toma Leche," concludes the ad, seen here. Grupo Gallegos created the campaign and handled the media buy. Psyop handled the animation.

Apple launched three Mac vs. PC TV ads and one online ad featuring John Hodgman and Justin Long. A woman is looking for an ideal computer in "Elimination." A group of PCs are winnowed down to meet her needs, until she requests a computer free of viruses. "Ugh, she's all yours, Mac," quips PC. Watch the ad here. The difference between Mac customer service and PC customer service is apparent in the next ad, seen here. PC hosts his own radio show in "PC Choice Chat." Each caller is deemed a crank caller or abruptly hung up on once the query makes Macs appear more favorable than PCs. See it here. The online contextual ad, "Booby Trap," ran on sites like Wired, PC Mag, PC World, CNN Money, The Onion and, among others. PC is disgruntled that PCMag gave a glowing review of iLife 09, so he decides to set up a booby trap online that will shock anyone that clicks a link to demo iLife. His trap backfires and PC winds up shocking himself instead. Watch it here. TBWA/Media Arts Lab created the campaign and handled the media buy.

Hot McDonald's French fries are so tasty that if you drop one in your car, it is worth contorting your hand between the seats, where the unknown lies, to retrieve it. I can honestly say that I've done this more than once. Two friends are riding in a car when the passenger drops a fry between the seats. Viewers find out what lurks in this uncharted territory: loose change, pen caps, crumbs and, most important, a legion of little people who inhabit this terrain, searching every last crevice for food. The fry drops and the hungry army screams with joy until the passenger finds his missing fry. "Trust me. No one wants this more than me," says the guy as he eats his found fry. I would have at least blown on it, before I ate it. Watch the ad here. DDB Chicago created "No Fry Left Behind," which was directed by Tim Godsall of Biscuit Filmworks.

WE tv launched a TV, print and online campaign promoting the upcoming season of "Bridezillas." Don't mess with a bride on her wedding day -- or prepare for the consequences. Bridezillas, however, take expected hiccups in the wedding planning process and overreact times 100. The TV spot shows a priest with a black eye, a bridesmaid with mascara running down her face, a cook covered in food, a photographer thrown down a flight of church stairs, and a handful of brides wreaking havoc on those who stand in their way of having the perfect wedding. See the ad here. A print ad, seen here, shows a content bride standing in front of crying bridesmaids, an injured priest and a chef wearing his creation. Filter Advertising created the campaign and Media Storm handled the media buy.

The Museum of Modern Art created a 90-second film in an effort to attract a wide range of people to appreciate modern and contemporary art. "I See" follows an uninterested man listening to an audio guide while viewing "Symphony Number One," a sculpture created by Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine in 1913. The man's night at the museum takes on a different tone when the audio guide's narration turns personal, by referencing the man being chastised by his boss, the rhythm of a train, a kiss and the laughter of friends. His attention piqued, the man exits the museum with a different perspective on things he encounters. See the video here, the first in an annual series of commissioned films by rising filmmakers. TAXI created the ad, directed by Azazel Jacobs.

Best Western launched an online video that mocks the recent slew of Congressional hearings outing large corporations that asked for bailout money while holding expensive executive retreats. A Congressman begins to shame a corporate bigwig by naming perks and amenities received on a recent retreat. The man replies, "We were at a Best Western." "OK, then," replies the Congressman, who changes the topic du jour to steroid usage in professional sports. See the ad here, created by ISM.

This ad is a couple of months old, but it stars the irresistible E*TRADE baby. The adorable little guy is chatting with a group of friends, ribbing one of them for still shelling out money to a broker. "Well, he's a friend of my father's, though," replies the friend, as the babies howl with laughter. The best part is the baby seated in the back. He appears to be crying, not laughing. Watch the ad here. Grey New York created the ad and Sparks Media handled the media buy.

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

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Welcome to the 21st Century

Nothing could be worse than being unprepared when there is an alternative:

Daily Sales Tip:

The goal of pre-appointment research is to allow you to know as much about the client as possible before your first appointment. Companies on the Internet, like Hoover s, provide a plethora of information about most major companies. The information you learn will add to your credibility and may expose new ideas that add dollars to your sale.

Source: John Mitton, Mitton Media,, (713)867-3290

If you liked this tip, you will love John s book Good People Aren t Looking For Work&They re Listening For It! or his CD of the same title.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Night Marketing News

Yep, it's that time again...

by Aaron Baar
"The stakes for Palm are considerably higher for Palm than for Sprint," Roger Entner, head of telecommunications research at Nielsen, tells Marketing Daily. "Palm desperately needs a hit." But while the future of Sprint doesn't necessarily hinge on the Pre's success, the company does need to start building some buzz, he says. ... Read the whole story > >
by Tanya Irwin
"It's clear the retail world has changed -- and the recession is only part of the reason," says David Kohel, director of E-Commerce at Fred Meyer. "What's key for us is to continually look for ways to leverage trends -- such as the fact that more and more online shoppers want to ultimately purchase in-store." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Lexus will also tout the $38,490 car on iPhone applications from and, as well as on digital versions of The Wall Street Journal Blackberry application and the Fast Company and mobile WAP sites. Traffic will be driven to Lexus' WAP site: ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
According to Mintel, the most successful portion-controlled packaged food brands are low-calorie, relatively high in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals; use natural ingredients and have broad health appeal; offer popular ethnic flavors as well as "healthy gourmet" varieties; and are targeted primarily to women who want to lose weight or maintain a desirable weight. ... Read the whole story > >
by Tanya Irwin
The promotion is being publicized on YouTube and at The hotels will be doing local advertising in their feeder markets and there is some online advertising, says Laurie Goldstein, a Marriott spokesperson. "This is the largest kid-focused program we have done. This is an effort to appeal to families with children." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Hyundai improved more than any other brand in the study, which measures how much an automobile owner likes his or her car or truck. Hyundai made an 11-position jump, scoring higher in 40 of 48 rating categories this year versus last. Genesis was named top aspirational luxury car, and its Sonata top premium mid-sized car. ... Read the whole story > >

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Just a Quick & Urgent Job Posting

from a friend of mine that I've worked with a couple of times.

This is in Fort Wayne Indiana:

Casting for adult male age 55+ , all ethnicities, for TV commercial. Shoot to be in Fort Wayne during the day on May 28. Location TBD. Time TBD. Commercial will air in the state of Indiana for up to two years. Please submit recent photo to heather (at) This IS a paying job.

Send her your stuff, you get paid to be famous!

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The BIGGER Picture

Too often I have seen businesses that excited about themselves, passionate about what they do, and that excitement and passion fails to translate into success.

It's not that the excitement and passion are bad, they are required, but there is more.

In today's economy you need to look at not just the big picture, but the BIGGER Picture.

That means consumers are deciding not just which clothing store to buy from, but how to make their stretch money from their clothing budget to pay for car repairs for example.

Seth Godin wrote about this recently:

Betting on the wind

No project, no brand, no company exists in a vacuum. You make bets about external forces when you build something.

If you want to cross the Atlantic by boat, you can build a sailboat. Your bet is that the wind will be right when it's time to sail. Or you can build a motorboat and deal with the noise and expense, but insulate yourself from the wind.

If you launch a $100 million magazine, you're making a bet that the advertising environment will support you a few years down the road. If you spend four years getting an advanced degree in computer engineering, you're making a bet that there will be plenty of high-paying jobs still waiting for you when you graduate.

If I had a hundred million dollars to invest in a business magazine, there's no way I'd invest a hundred million dollars in a business magazine. Why put all your chips on one medium, one source of revenue, one model?

The external factor is not disconnected from your bet. It is your bet, your decision. Damning the gods of fate because you made the wrong bet makes no sense. I rarely see business plans that have a section entitled, "External forces we're depending on." Acknowledging that things out of your control will change is the first step in hedging your bets in advance, just in case.

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Natural or UNnatural?

Chuck McKay has a few interesting thoughts to share today:

There Is No Hard Sell In Nature

Zebra Herd

Human beings often hold advertising pitchmen in low regard.

Like the “fight or flight” response, that may be instinctive.

A zebra doesn't single himself out of the herd so that the lions will notice him.

A mouse doesn't run to the center of an open space to tease a cat.

It goes against nature for an animal not to duck and cover. Other than with their own species during mating season, most animals do not try to draw attention to themselves.

And any animal which would behave in such an odd fashion would be avoided by the rest of the herd. The herd's very survival may depend on not standing too close to anyone hogging center stage.

So, is it animal instinct that something is wrong and this one should be avoided when an advertiser thumps his chest proclaiming “We will not be undersold,” or points at the camera and says “I'll get you money for your pain and suffering?” Those particular animals, (genus boastasaurus adnauseaum), frequently make the rest of the herd uncomfortable.

They appear to have something wrong with them.

Either that, or they think it's mating season.

Do you enjoy marketing theory?

"There Is No Hard Sell In Nature" was one of those ideas which appeared full-blown in the midst of a discussion.

It happened this afternoon. I was being interviewed by Darin Burt for an article scheduled for the July issue of HQ magazine. Darin asked "What's the worst thing a business can do to drive away customers?"

I said, "He can talk about himself. Worse yet, he can get loud about it. After all, animals in nature don't try to draw attention to themselves."

Over the years I've discovered that some of my best insights happen during lively discussion. And, since I'm gathering my thoughts for a new book, it seems to be a good time to start discussing.

Do you like to kick marketing ideas around?

Think you might care to participate in a small group telephone bull session?

We'll be examining subjects ranging from "How do people remember advertising?" to "What happens if you don't deliver a great customer experience?"

Let's talk. Drop an e-mail to


Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover, and choose your business. Questions about animal instinct in marketing may be directed to

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from a recent email:

Daily Sales Tip: Show Them You Care

The sales relationships that were your strongest last year and the year before may not be your strongest right now due to a host of economic circumstances that have occurred.

Think about what it was that you used to do for them or with them to make sure that they knew you cared. Are you still doing those things? Are you still as connected as you were?

One of the worst things that you can do to any sales relationship is to "go dark" when the orders slow down or dry up. Remember that the pendulum swings both ways and when things turn around for those that you ignored, don't be surprised if they give you similar treatment.

Source: Sales coach/trainer Gerry Layo (

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Night Marketing News

From Mediapost:

by Karlene Lukovitz
The restaurant chain's Allnighter concept is being promoted via a campaign dubbed "Creature Comforts," employing "irreverent, tongue-in-cheek content," social media and mobile applications keyed to the target audience, a "new generation of late-night diners who grew up in the fast-food universe." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"We have made experiential marketing an important part of our communications plan; it's not just an add-on as it was in years past," says Ford's Jeff Eggen. The plan is to hit 100 cities by year-end at events and via impromptu guerrilla-style test drives on streets with high foot traffic, like the Power and Light District of Kansas City. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Aaron Baar
"Our consumer packaged goods counterparts have long considered moms the gatekeepers to the family," says Ed Gold, State Farm's director of advertising. "And in the insurance world, we have seen an increase in [the presence of] women in the insurance purchase decision in the household. ... We have them come at it from a non-biased standpoint. We don't want them going in and shilling for State Farm." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
A new study from the Food Marketing Institute paints an intriguing picture of the stages consumers go through as they continue to cut back. While they are spending an average of $98.40 weekly on groceries, a slight increase from $97.80 in 2008, they're buying considerably less food, once the year's 5.7% food-at-home inflation rate is factored in. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Events began Monday night in New York's West 4th Street public basketball courts, with a JOE Joseph Abboud/NBA-themed outdoor event unveiling of the collection. In-store integration at JC Penney locations across the country includes appearances by current and former NBA players and a tour to JC Penney locations of the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy. ... Read the whole story > >

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Social Media Marketing in Action

With all the talk about Twitter and Facebook, (does anyone use MySpace anymore), the question has been, "Why?"

Not just "Why?", but "What's it good for?"

Take a look at this report from Adweek for some possible answers:

Cause Marketing Meets Social Media

-By Brian Morrissey, Adweek

Target is no stranger to cause marketing. The retailer is unusual in that it dedicates 5 percent of its income to charity. It's also no stranger to social marketing, having more than 260,000 fans on Facebook.

Last week, it brought the two together by kicking off "Bullseye Gives," a campaign that invites users to choose from a list of 10 charities to which Target will donate $3 million. The social twist: After voting for a charity, users are invited to broadcast their selection to their Facebook friends via their news feeds, the running summary of updates that is central to the Facebook experience. In less than a week, Target tallied 40,000 votes, which translated into tens of thousands of peer-to-peer impressions.

The effort is one of several undertaken by companies recently that use charities to give people a reason to share brand messages. In the social world, the central front for brands is what's been called "the stream," the real-time feed of updates, links and bits of content that has become the defining characteristic of Facebook and Twitter. Entry to the stream is coveted by brands desperate for the word-of-mouth appeal that comes close to a personal recommendation to friends.

"What we've learned is it's not the cause but it's the idea of a brand truly doing good that has a significant impact through social media," said Joe Marchese, CEO of SocialVibe, a Los Angeles-based startup that runs cause-related social campaigns for brands like Kraft, Sprint and PowerBar. "When you do something good, it used to be that you had to buy a bunch of media and tell people or do PR. Now, the potential is for people to tell each other that you do good."

For brands, particularly those in low-consideration categories like consumer goods, charities can become a cheap way to get access to the megaphones everyone has in social media. Take Colgate. It created a Facebook application called Smiles that languished for months, with just a few hundred people sharing it. Then it hooked up with SocialVibe to recast the tool to tap into the do-good vibe. The brand offered charitable donations each time users shared Smiles. The result: The widget was shared 500,000 times in five weeks.

Kraft is in the midst of a "Share a Little Comfort" campaign that offers to donate 1 million boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to needy families based on the number of messages people share via Facebook and Twitter. The added bonus of such programs, according to Marchese, is that brands can simply redirect some of their media budgets to cover the donations. It can turn out to be cheaper to offer donations in exchange for people-powered media than buying ad space for promotion. So far, more than 23,000 messages have been posted in response to Kraft's effort.

There is a downside, of course. Efforts can cross the line into social-media spam. Giving people an incentive to pass along messages from brands could come to be seen, reasonably, as an alternative way for brands to buy their way into conversations.

"If it's viewed as a front and that you don't really care, then it can be a setback," said Steve Rubel, svp and director of insights at Edelman. "If it's viewed as a tactic to build buzz, not as a tactic to solve problems or effect change, then you're going to lose all credibility."

This has caused Procter & Gamble, for instance, to shy away from incentivizing sharing with its Tide "Loads of Hope" program, which donates clothing to disaster-stricken areas. It dabbled in the tactic during its "Digital Hack Night," when social-media experts tapped their networks to sell "Loads of Hope" T-shirts. But P&G has not chosen to promote the program the same way with consumers. "There's always a balance of inspiring authentic conversation and being too promotional," said Kash Shaikh, a Tide rep. "We don't want to be too promotional."

To get over that, and to give the marketing programs legs, SocialVibe in some cases sends participants evidence of what their pass-along did. For instance, charity: water, a cause devoted to providing clean drinking water in impoverished areas, takes pictures of the wells dug and sends them to participants a few months later. "People think back to the brands supported over the months and connect it with a specific action," Marchese said. To date, SocialVibe has raised $500,000 for three-dozen charities.

Charities are also a handy way to ensure that "viral" efforts don't completely fail. Sun Products brand All Small & Mighty used the lure of charities to goose distribution of YouTube videos it created last month. It linked up with NBC's Celebrity Apprentice to drive viewers to an All Web site to see videos created by Joan and Melissa Rivers. Each time a video is forwarded, All donates 50 cents to charity. The gambit fits with the Apprentice construct of awarding a winning team with a donation to the charity of its choice.

"We wanted to test how big of a role this would play," said Shiv Singh, social-media lead at Razorfish, the agency that created the program. "You can only create so much passion around a detergent."

The charity game has even gone in an unusual direction. Unemployed copywriter Chris Kahle is trying the approach in the hopes of getting his dream job with Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Last week he posted an offer to donate $1 to charity for the first 200 people who sent Twitter messages to Crispin co-chairman Alex Bogusky and interactive creative director Jeff Benjamin, urging them to hire him. That part of the gambit worked: Dozens of people sent messages to the execs. Bogusky was impressed, calling the idea "really smart," although he didn't commit to interviewing Kahle.


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Why You?

From a recent email:

Daily Sales Tip: Demonstrate Credibility

It's not enough to tell prospects you offer better service or quality than your competitor. Prospects want to hear specifics about why you're better.

Here are suggestions that may help show the difference more effectively:

* Unique qualities. What can you offer that nobody else can? Try to convert the value of your products or services into financial results.

* Advantages. What do you do better than your competitor? Give prospects what they need to understand the unique qualities of your product or service.

* Parity. If there's little difference between you and a competitor, look for minor ones that may add up to a competitive advantage.

* Disadvantages. Are there areas in your product or service in which competitors have a definite edge? Focus on the advantages you have to offset these disadvantages.

Source: Sales authority John R. Graham, president of Graham Communications (

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