Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Gen Y Experience

This afternoon my son Josh graduated from the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Here's what his generation is facing:

Great Expectations Move Into A Bleak House
Entering the toughest job market in the past 25 years, Gen Y finds the future's not so bright, resulting in the kind of anxiety that even Eli Lilly can't tame. Surveys of current college students conducted this spring provide increasing evidence that, as we transition away from plenty, members of Gen Y feel ill-equipped to deal with scarcity.

Nearly all (95%) of current college students feel that the economy will have an impact on their careers, and seven out of ten undergrads (71%) expect to extend their academic careers with a master's, doctoral or professional degree as a way to avoid the current job market. With colleges bursting at the seams to welcome the largest freshman class in American history, there's little chance that the resources of U.S. academic institutions (or their parents' financial resources, for that matter) will allow them to dodge the economy indefinitely.

Rather than looking to land a job on Wall Street, current college students are looking for careers within education and healthcare, areas targeted by the largesse of the Obama administration. Non-profit, legal and accounting round out the top-five targets for college students expecting to enter the workforce.

After idolizing the achievements of wunderkinds like Mark Zuckerberg, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, current college students are not looking for an entrepreneurial solution to the current malaise. While slightly less than three quarters of current college students anticipate starting a business at some point in the future, only one in five (20%) feel that they are very (6%) or somewhat (14%) likely to do so upon graduation. In contrast to the get-rich-quick schemes that pervade boom-times, most collegians (56%) expect to retire in their 60's and nearly one in five (17%) expect to retire in their 70's.

High hopes are deflating to the kind of modesty that is unbecoming of the entitlement generation. More than two out of five (43%) of college students expect a starting salary of less than $45,000 with an average starting salary expectation of $52,400 across all college students, far below the lofty starting salaries offered to graduates over the past decade.

Whether caused by dimmer prospects or a shunning of material desires, college students are shifting away from financial compensation as a career motivator. Less materialistic concepts such as "personal satisfaction" (mentioned by 43% of collegians) and "experience gained" (mentioned by 22%) are seen as more important than "money," which is the third-most mentioned motivator (mentioned by 16%).

In a surprising turnaround from the past two decades, workplace loyalty is a resurging theme among collegians, with three out of five (61%) expecting to stay at the company within which they initially work for a period of five years and half (51%) expecting to stay for a period of ten years.

These trends will have a long-lasting impact on Gen Y. Lisa Kahn, a Yale School of Management economist, has studied the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and finds that the damage done by entering the workplace during a downturn will last 15 years past graduation day. What begins as a 7%-8% reduction in starting salary persists, maintaining a 4%-5% pay disparity 12 years later.

While the full impact on the Gen Y generation will have much to do with when and how the economy recovers, marketers accustomed to the rich and easy Gen Y target will find that they need to work a little harder to understand how and where their products will find fertile ground among a generation that is rethinking many of their core values.

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Basic Training Again

I'm a few hundred miles from home right now, on vacation to see my son graduate. So before I left I dug up some posts from the archives:

I always say, if things need improving, then go back to the basics. If things are going great, then don't forget the basics.

RainToday has this article on their website about the basic traits of a professional salesperson.

5 Critical Skills That Make A Salesperson A Professional

By Jeff Thull

I'm frequently asked, "What are the most important skills a sales professional must have to succeed?" The first step in acquiring the skills for success is recognizing that a sales professional is a professional, just as physicians, attorneys and commercial pilots are professionals.

There are three critical components that form a solid foundation for professional skills development and result in exceptional performance for all professionals. They are:

  1. Systems: This is a set process or organized procedure that leads to a predictable result.

  2. Skills: This consists of the individual's knowledge and their ability to execute the system.

  3. Discipline: Probably the most critical component, this is about the mind-set of a professional…how they think. Discipline is about the quality of execution and it includes the individual's emotional or mental stamina, which is required to achieve the highest standards of performance.

These three areas represent knowing what to do, how to do it, and having the emotional strength to actually carry it out at a quality level. That being said, the five most important skills required to achieve exceptional results today involve the ability to:

1) Research And Prepare

Before you engage with a new client or a new opportunity "you must be prepared to not be prepared." You should be so prepared that you are able to be relaxed, open-minded, and ready for any path this conversation may take you and your client.

Even highly experienced sales professionals don't just "wing it." They make sure they understand their client's industry, their client's business and the job responsibilities of the individuals they will be working with before they walk into someone's office. They also recognize the characteristics of a high-quality opportunity and understand they need to be ready to guide their client through a quality business decision.

So, as challenging as it may be, the exceptional salesperson does their homework to understand the very real, very complex problems that clients face. They are prepared to assist them in sorting through all the available alternatives, and they are prepared to create a solution that the client would not have been able to come up with on their own.

2) Diagnose

The amateur salesperson "prepares to present," but the successful professional prepares to "diagnose." Quality diagnosis is the ability to guide the client through a conversation in a manner that brings awareness, clarity and ownership to the problem they are experiencing or the opportunity they are missing.

Within the client's organization, the problem to be addressed may materialize in a number of places. Each individual impacted by the solution to the problem is responsible for a different function within the organization and each will have a different perspective on the problem, different kinds of information to offer, and different motivations to change or do nothing.

Accordingly, while the diagnostic conversation has a generic framework, no two are the same. You will need to craft a unique conversation with each individual. The true professional is able to create and follow a diagnostic map and acquire the raw information needed to make an accurate diagnosis and design an efficient solution. They will ultimately understand how the absence of their solution might be affecting their client in both business performance and individual job performance. Through this process they become true business advisors.

3) Dollarize

The key skill required to accomplish this is having the ability to help the client quantify the financial impact of the situation. They will likely need assistance in understanding how much it is costing them not to have what you are about to propose.

There are three possible outcomes top professionals are prepared for:

  1. They could find that the financial impact is large enough to justify the investment required for your solution, and you move forward and do business.

  2. They could find that the financial impact of the problem to be solved is not as great as other issues the client is facing. In this case they plan when it will move to the top of their priority list.

  3. They could find that the financial impact is not enough to justify the solution. Given this situation, they may have to scale back the proposed solution to match the financial impact, or it may be more lucrative to find a greater opportunity elsewhere. They are always willing to walk away from poor quality business.

4) Collaborate

A fourth critical skill area is the ability to collaborate with the client to "co-design" the solution to be proposed, in a manner that leaves the client with pride of authorship and the confidence to invest.

This process, which began with a thorough diagnosis, expanded with input from the salesperson's extensive knowledge about the industry and having addressed related issues more often than the client. In fact, the client may never have faced solving these problems before.

Collaborating through a problem solving relationship with open and honest communication creates trust. The professional salesperson knows that in order for the solution to be accepted, their client must thoroughly understand the problem to be solved, take ownership, and champion the change for successful implementation.

5) "You've Got To Get Your Mind Right"

You can make the greatest leaps in sales performance and raise your results from average to good or good to spectacular by simply changing your mind. How we think precedes how we behave, and our mind-set is without a doubt the critical foundation for success.

What top professionals have taught us is that the foundation of their mind-set is first and foremost an intense focus on bringing value to their clients. In other words, they believe and behave as if their success is an automatic by-product of their clients' success. Our mind-set forms the stance we take with respect to our clients.

* * *

The Hippocratic Oath of a physician – "First do no harm" – is at the heart of the thinking of the most successful sales professionals. They believe that their success will come from taking care of their clients and helping them become successful. They approach their clients thinking, "How can I help them succeed?" rather than "What can I sell them?" They think like a business person, rather than a salesperson. They see it as a process done "with" the client rather than "to" the client. They know how to succeed...together.

Jeff Thull, President and CEO of Prime Resource Group, is a leading-edge strategist and valued advisor for executive teams of major companies worldwide. Thull is also author of best selling books, Mastering the Complex Sale and The Prime Solution. You can email Jeff at

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Shut Up & Learn

Reposting a few classics as I'm on vacation this week:

It's a common theme in sales training, "Talk Less, Listen More." Here's Art Sobczak's take on the subject from my email:

This Week's Tip:
When You Do This, You Can Hear
Amazing Information


I like to watch the TV show, "Taxicab
Confessions" on HBO.

It is a reality show with hidden cameras
and microphones in cabs in Las Vegas
and New York.

The drivers are exceptional interviewers
and listeners, drawing out the bizarre--and
I do mean really weird--real life stories of
people they pick up late at night or early
in the morning.

At first I was amazed what people shared.
Then I realized it wasn’t that amazing at
all. The drivers were excellent at asking
questions, and then just letting the
passengers ramble.

It’s just like what we experience on
the phone: people will reveal astounding
information if we just shut up long enough
to let them.

One of the best ways to learn about
your prospect or customer is using a
pause at two points in your questioning:

1. After you’ve asked the question, and,

2. After the listener has answered.

Not just a brief pause, but a two-to-three
second pause. Here are some of the
benefits of this technique.

-You won’t feel compelled to continue
talking after asking the question if you
force yourself to pause. People don’t
always immediately answer, and
pausing gives them the opportunity
to think a bit.

-The number and length of responses
will increase. People feel more
comfortable when you give them
time to frame their answers, which
will likely be more comprehensive.

-The amount of unsolicited information
will increase. By not jumping in
immediately after they’ve answered,
they’re given a little time to contemplate
what they’ve just said, which may
prompt additional comments.

-You’ll have more time to understand
what they’ve said. Since you know
you’re going to pause, you can spend
all of your listening time focused on t
he message, not on what you will
say next.

-You’ll have more time to formulate
your next comment. You can use
your pause time to develop your
next question or statement, which
will be more meaningful, since
you’ll possess more relevant

Force yourself to pause after your
question, and after they answer.
I’ve seen reps hold the "mute"
button on their phone for a couple
of seconds so they restrain themselves.

Practice this on the phone and in all
areas of your life. You’ll find you get
more information than you ever have.


Again, this is just an example of ONE of the
sales ideas included in each monthly eight-page
issue of my Telephone Prospecting and Selling
Report monthly newsletter which you get both
online line, and as a hard copy, when you
become a member of my Telesales Success
Inner Circle.

And, you get instant access to the past 34 issues
of the newsletter, containing hundreds of brief tips and
more in-depth instruction and case studies,
RIGHT NOW, for under $4. Plus much more,
including the past FIVE years worth of these
weekly tips, and over podcasts.
Check it all out at )

"Patience and perseverance have a magical
effect before which difficulties disappear and
obstacles vanish."

John Quincy Adams

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Web vs Boob Tube

Boob Tube is what my Dad called the television...
Online Video As Big As Network TV According to "The Global Web Index," from Trendstream, with research conducted by Lightspeed Research, early this year 72 percent of US Internet users watched video clips monthly -- making video bigger than blogging or social networking.

According to the survey, 62 percent of US Internet users watched at least one clip a week, a figure that Lightspeed analysts translated into 97 million weekly viewers.

By contrast, Nielsen Online pegged the number of US online video viewers in April at nearly 117 million.

That scale of usage would mean online video in the US is now as big as network TV.

"This research shows that in just three years we've reached a watershed in the way that consumers expect to watch, contribute and share video content," said Tom Smith of Trendstream. "Web users want to participate at every stage, including the creation and sharing of material."

The age of online video viewers trends younger: 82 percent of teens (16-to-17-year-olds) and young adults (18 to 24) streamed video, compared with 73 percent of Generation X (25 to 34) and 65 percent of older boomers (55 to 64) who said they watched.

Online video-sharing was less common, with only 46 percent of users participating. While teen, young adult and Gen X sharing percentages hovered around 50 percent, the older the Internet users, the less likely they were to send videos.

One-half of all respondents shared videos via e-mail to friends and family. Twenty-three percent sent video out to friends on social networks, 21 percent by instant messenger and 14 percent to their friends on video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Hulu.

The most widely used platform for discovering and viewing video online was YouTube, followed by e-mail, music sites, Yahoo! and news sites.

Sharing appears to happen mainly among close friends, as 72 percent of video-sharers sent to just one, two or three people.

"Those who access video are completely engaged in the content that they choose to watch," concluded Mr. Smith. "It's an impactful universe."

(Source: eMarketer, 05/28/09)

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This or That?

As business people, heck as people, we have to make many choices everyday.

One of my clients is trying to decide how to expand. They thought buying more territory, by adding another franchise might be a good option.

So I'm giving them an asignment. Add up the costs of setting up another office and all the marketing, staffing, etc, and then we will look at putting that money into growing from their current locations.

I call it spreading yourself too thin, or getting thicker.

Seth Godin wrote about this the other day:

Deeper or wider

If you want to grow the size of your customer base, you need to confront the buffet dilemma.

Any decent buffet has foods that please 85% of the population. Meats, cheeses, potatoes... the typical fare.

Once your business hits a natural plateau, it’s tempting to invest in getting more people to come. And what most buffets do is double down. Now, they have bacon, plus they have beans with bacon and turkey-wrapped bacon. Now, instead of one chocolate cake, they have three.

This is essentially useless. You haven’t done anything to grow your audience. The base might be a little more pleased, but not enough to bring in any new business. And the disenfranchised (the vegans, the weight watchers, the healthy eaters, the kosher crowd) remain unmoved and uninterested. And one person like this out of a party of six is enough to keep all six away.

So, there are two ways to go. Much deeper, or a bit wider.

Deeper would mean a bacon-focused buffet, a dozen bacon dishes, including chocolate-covered bacon. Deeper would mean a chocolate-obsessed dessert bar, ten cakes, fondue, everything.

Deeper gets you people willing to drive across town to visit you. It’s remarkable. It’s not like every other buffet but a little bit bigger. It’s insanely over the top. People will bully their friends in order to get them to come.

The other choice is wider. Instead of adding a handful of dishes that mildly please the people you already have, why not add brown rice and tofu and vegetarian chili? Now you’ve opened the doors to that last 15%.

This thinking isn’t available only to buffet owners. It works for summer camps. Resorts. Conference centers. Spiritual institutions. It works for any business that seeks to attract customers that come in groups where people have different wants and needs.

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Cold Calling ??

From a recent email:

Are the Winds of Cold Calling Changing?

Posted: 27 May 2009 05:00 PM PDT

Rotary Phone There sure are a lot of opinions about cold calling out there these days. Of course there are those that believe cold calling works with good technique and those who think cold calling is dead.

The truth is it depends on what the ROI for cold calling is versus the ROI for other lead generation activities?

For example, can the business buy an inexpensive list and pay someone an hourly wage to pitch their product or services and set a number of appointments per hour? If so, it would be crazy not to go with cold calling.

On the other hand (which is the hand that probably represents most b2b situations), even if you can buy a quality list of prospects who are decision makers with good contact information, the odds of getting them on the phone are slim. Additionally, the more complex the product or service, the more a business needs to put into the compensation and training of the person making the calls. The ROI starts to shift in a bad way.

Furthermore, if the salesperson needs to spend a lot of time doing research and building their own list only to make a cold call and get voice mail or shut down at least nine out of ten times, the ROI is terrible.

For large and medium size companies, the answer lies in Sales 2.0 tools.

For the SMB (small and some medium-size business), a Sales 2.0 like strategy is key. In a nutshell, making good old fashioned, relationship based connections (a high form of networking) combined with the strength of basic CRM and online connection tools such as your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter is the way to go.

Where do you fall on the cold calling spectrum. It is an alive and kicking strategy or is it dead?

Photo on flickr by jgh photo

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Don't Piss Off Your Customers

25 years ago I got in trouble for saying "pissed off" on the radio when I was working on a top 40 radio station.

These days it's pretty mild. What else will we get used to that perhaps we shouldn't? From

Are You Giving Customers the Finger?

If you've flown anywhere lately, you know how dire the experience has become. We're talking about overbooked flights, overworked staff, scant luggage space and virtually nonexistent snacks. It's a level of service to which most frequent flyers have become accustomed, and about which few people complain anymore.

In a post at his blog, Greg Verdino recounts one recent journey that was par for the course—nothing that deserved a scathing rebuke. But his attitude changed when a cab ride downtown took him past a stadium emblazoned with the name of the airline he had just used. It didn't sit well.

"How is it possible," he asks, "that the airline can justify an advertising (sorry—sports marketing) spend of this magnitude but can't justify spending that same budget to make the customer experience better?"

Verdino calls this "middle finger marketing," a flashy and expensive ego-boosting play for new business when existing customers are being asked to endure a product or service of increasingly diminished quality.

Your Marketing Inspiration is to keep your priorities straight. "Instead of flipping customers the bird," says Verdino, "you should be reaching out your hand, patting them on the back and letting them know that you're doing what you can to help."

More Inspiration:
Paul Barsch: What Marketers Can Learn from Walt Disney's EPCOT Project
Ted Mininni: TJX: Pushing New 'Shopportunities'
Beth Harte: Your Weakest Links Might Just Become Your Strongest Chain

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Too Much of a Good Thing?

Anthony Juliano wrote this:

Social Networking: The “Hot Pocket” of Marketing?

Business Week’s Gene Marks says that “for many business owners, social networking is as valuable as a Hot Pocket is nutritious.” So it’s no surprise that he believes there are several social media marketing “myths”. A sample:

“Some of these cool and trendy sites aren’t going to be so cool and trendy in the near future. The percentage of Twitter users in a given month who return the following month has languished below 30% for most of the past year...And MySpace recently suffered a decline in monthly visitor traffic. Remember GeoCities? shutting it down. A lot of business owners aren’t thrilled about committing time and resources to a vanishing trend.”

But before you dismiss Marks as a naysayer, read between the lines in his column. In addition to serving as a wake-up call to anyone who has fallen a little too in love with social media, it also includes some nice nuggets of wisdom about social media’s greatest strengths:

“[S]ocial communities are not for marketing. They’re for service. [They allow companies] to get closer to...customers and respond to their needs.”

So while Hot Pockets might not be the most nutritious food out there, they still can fill you up. You just need make them a small part of your diet, not eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

--Anthony J.

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Sales in 5 Steps

On Vacation, so here's a blast from the past:

It's really this simple

John Potter of the Radio Advertising Bureau has come to town a few times and done some training for some of our new sales staff over the years. John wrote this in an email that R.A.B. members can receive and it is excellent advice no matter what you are selling:

Sales Tip from the RAB Training Academy: Why Prospects Buy

By John Potter, VP/Director, RAB Radio Training Academy

Do not expect prospects to buy because you want them to. Think about why prospects say yes to you. Here's a short list:

1. They like you (relationships are important).

2. They believe you understand their needs.

3. They trust your recommendations.

4. The price is within reason.

5. They think you can help them make more money than they spend.

It's all about focusing on the prospect.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Your Business Brickyard (Free) E-book

Over the next week, I am going to point you in the direction of some things on this site that you may not be aware of.

Today, I invite you to download a free e-book by clicking here.

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Advertising is more than a Commodity

The following guest post was written specifically for Collective Wisdom:

Innovating with Pork Bellies
By Jim Calhoun, CEO, PopularMedia, Inc.

At the 2007 Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual meeting, Wenda Harris Millard delivered her now infamous plea, “We must not trade our assets like pork bellies.”

Her remark resonates even more today. The digital media landscape is far more distressed now, and it’s only going to get much worse because consumer expectations and behavior have changed radically. Meanwhile, the publishing and advertising industry is still futzing around with pork bellies.

Millard’s analogy provides a great visual. An ever-increasing volume of ads get traded like pork bellies — standardized, processed, packaged, bought, sold, delivered and consumed in massive volume. Adding insult to injury, the Web is experiencing a rapid rise in inventory levels and a recession-fueled focus on measuring tactical return on investment in campaigns.
Needless to say, it’s a challenging time to be a publisher.

Millard argued that the shift towards commoditized media buying failed to fully value the unique role of the publisher’s assets in the equation, such as quality audiences, content and context.

While these components drive value, justifying premium pricing and cutting custom deals takes effort. Innovation takes effort. This is where publishers and agencies continue to make their big mistake: doing what’s easy, instead of giving people something they might actually enjoy or value. Ours is an industry addicted to interruption. There’s even a push for more interruptive ads. Is that really the solution? Keep doing what doesn’t work – just do it bigger, louder, and run all over the page! Lord help us all.

Through most of last year, pricing for premium publisher inventory remained relatively strong. Publishers enjoyed sales growth and took lots of orders. As the ad industry grew at a healthy clip, so did the consumers’ fascination with social networking. Highly useful (and addictive) services like Facebook grabbed a stranglehold on consumer attention by delivering an endlessly compelling flow of socially relevant entertainment.

Instead of figuring out how to capitalize on this shift in consumer behavior, publishers stuck with their models and expected the growth to continue.

Today, advertisers are demanding far more from their campaigns. Higher ROI. Make it social. They want innovation. There’s a lot to be learned from Federated Media’s approach to Conversational Marketing, or Gawker’s fascination with non-IAB “site skins.” These publishers offer something well beyond pork bellies.

Burger King’s “Whopper Sacrifice” was genius in this respect. Not only did it take a contrarian view of social media norms (delete friends from Facebook and get a free Whopper), but the campaign’s simple irony and reward mechanism created a socially engaging brand campaign so effective that Facebook killed the app. How about that for getting social media?

Consumers need more fun and engaging social experiences that are just great excuses to talk, laugh and share. Today’s consumer is online to entertain themselves in the company of their trusted friends and neighbors, not for the pork bellies.

Advertisers, publishers and agencies have to address the root issue, and provide consumers with solutions that create compelling, fun excuses to engage their friends in branded online experiences. And there’s no reason to limit that thinking to social media sites. After all, it’s not the destination that matters in social media – it’s the conversation.

The good news is that the building blocks are there. Creative and media shops know how to develop interactive sites and banners, and they know how to traffic scripted ad tags that are capable of delivering more engaging user experiences. Plus, publishers can target audiences with extreme precision.

Now all we need is for brands to start coming up with compelling excuses for people to engage their friends.

Jim Calhoun is the CEO of PopularMedia, Inc., which helps advertisers and publishers multiply the impact of their online ad campaigns and significantly increase user engagement by wrapping standard online display advertising units with an interactive social media layer.

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Do you Twitter?

A couple months ago at an Advertising Federation Board Meeting, someone mentioned that "Scott is person who you should talk to about twitter and blogs and the social media..." Someone else piped up that they thought Twitter was a waste of time.

Well, yes, Twitter can be a waste of time.

Watching Television 20 hours a week can be a waste of time too.

But if you are watching TV shows that help you, you can argue that last point. (I'm not sure what shows that would be, personally).

But here's a follow up to yesterdays sales training feature on twitter and how it can be more than a waste of time.

I Saw You On Twitter

Posted: 29 May 2009 05:00 AM PDT

I was at a networking event the other evening when I reached out to shake hands with a new connection and I said, "I am Jeff Garrison."

She responded, "Yes, from Twitter." She had sent me a direct message earlier in the week in regards to one of my Tweets.

We skipped the "what do you do "and "what company are you with" conversation. We already had made a virtual connection.

Tell me it doesn't have business value.

Tell me it is a waste of time.

I don't care.

You make cold calls.

I'll make connections!

And you can find me on twitter @ScLoHo .

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tuesday Night Marketing News

Just a FYI.

For the next few days, there will not be a Nightly Marketing News on this site as I will be on the road.

You can subscribe, like I do directly from Mediapost.

There will still be three updates/7 days a week while I am on vacation to this website. Nightly Marketing News will be back on either Tuesday June 9th or Wednesday June 10th..... Scott

by Karl Greenberg
General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson said the new company "will be built from strongest parts of the business, including the best brands, finest products, less debt, and fully competitive labor costs." Without going into detail, he said it would also provide better marketing and R&D support of its brands and products. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"In a four-brand portfolio you will see a lot more of that clarity at GM. If GM's bankruptcy goes as smoothly as Chrysler's appears to have, I expect GM to be judged on the quality of their product. Ultimately, the judge will be the American people." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
Kmart is launching a major Father's Day tie-in, along with a push on new Transformer toys. Themed "transform your dad," the retailer is offering two free tickets to the movie with the purchase of $50 in menswear, and will promote the giveaway with a national TV spot. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
The gain seen in plans to spend more over the next 90 days was the strongest since November 2007. Among May respondents, 10% said they plan to spend more (versus 6% in April) and 38% (versus 44% in April) said they plan to spend less. RBC analysts noted, however, that the effects of last year's tax stimulus may hide spending improvements occurring over the next few months. ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
The drop in value perception may be traced to several factors. For the older demographic, having the latest and greatest features on a game system is simply not as important as it is for younger consumers, says YouGov's Ted Marzilli. "I don't know that new features are a compelling selling point for them. The recession may also play a part." ... Read the whole story > >
by Joe Mandese
Chuck Martin will be responsible for assembling existing and developing new research to effectively serve all aspects of the online, media, marketing and advertising markets and to serve the traditional marketing and media markets as well. ... Read the whole story > >

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Word of Mouth Part 1

From Drew:

The Marketing Minute

Word of mouth: Who are your talkers?

Posted: 20 May 2009 08:30 AM PDT

32374545 In Andy Sernovitz's new book on Word of Mouth Marketing (and in his old book too) he talks about the 5 T's of Word of Mouth. I thought it might be useful for us to dig into each of them over the next week or two.

If you've been wanting to get a bit more viral and work on your word of mouth efforts -- you'll be able to use these posts as a guide to drafting a simple WOM marketing action plan. (download the planning chart)

The first T is Talkers. Talkers are people who spread the gospel about your product or service. They're going to tell their friends, co-workers, and other people about you.

The trick is identifying who your talkers really are. Most people assume it would naturally be their biggest, best customers. But that's not always the case. You need to think about your customers and who has a natural tendency to share their experiences with others.

One of the things I really found myself nodding at was when Andy debunked the myth that talkers had to be "influencers" ala Malcom Gladwell's theories in the Tipping Point. Anyone can be a talker. Ever had your hair cut? Man, are those people plugged into what's going on. Don't think movers and shakers -- think natural talkers!

Who might be your talkers? Don't take this list as gospel -- but more of a jump start.

  • Employees
  • Vendors
  • Happy customers
  • Reporters
  • Bloggers
  • Social Networkers
  • Passive "free" customers (like the ones who subscribe to your e-newsletter)
  • Neighbors
  • Active networkers (they have to connect their peeps to someone!)

So what do you think....who are your talkers?

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Yellow Pages are now the Red Pages

As in Red Ink:

Major Yellow Page Publisher Files Chap 11

yellow-pagesTraditional marketing avenues continue to take punishment in ways never seen before. Of course, we all know about newspapers and the trouble they are having. Now, it’s time for another stalwart of traditional small and medium business advertising, the Yellow Pages, to take more of a beating.

Amidst news stories about Microsoft actually making search inroads and the “Tastes Great / Less Filling!” wars between Facebook and Twitter is the reality that the old guard is struggling to hold on. Late last week, R.H. Donnelly Corp., a major yellow pages publisher, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection so it can get out from under a $10 billion (that’s right, with a B) debt load. The Wall Street Journal reports

The Cary, N.C., company sought protection from its creditors in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., after reaching a deal with a majority in dollar amount of its bondholders to exchange $6 billion in debt for 100% of the equity in the reorganized company and to exchange a $400 million note for a new $300 million note. Holders of most of the company’s $3.5 billion in bank debt have agreed to extend the maturity on the loans to 2014.

Most Internet marketers have been putting the Yellow Pages in the grave for quite some time now. The sales tactics and question of ROI is something that can no longer be swept under the rug in the age of the Internet and social media. While there is arguably a place for Yellow Page products they are no longer viewed as necessities to small businesses. Even the online versions of these offerings are wrought with confusion over their true value. Add to that the continuing murkiness of online yellow page “products” (i.e. buy x amount of clicks per month) and the future seems kind of cloudy as well.

The following three quotes tells the tale very well of R.H. Donnelly and its current state of affairs

In an interview Thursday, R.H. Donnelley Chief Executive David Swanson said the downturn in the U.S. economy and housing market hit the company’s advertising sales, which in turn caused it to run into problems keeping in line with its debt covenants.

R.H. Donnelley racked up billions in debt over the past several years through a series of acquisitions. The company bought Sprint’s directory business for more than $2 billion in 2003 and three years later acquired Dex Media Inc. in a deal worth about $9.5 billion.

Mr. Swanson said R.H. Donnelley entered Chapter 11 to fix its “unhealthy balance sheet” but doesn’t need to address any operational issues while in bankruptcy. “It’s business as usual here,” he said.

For me, the last line says it all. The CEO of a business that has seen shareholder value go to near nothing still says that it’s business as usual. If you were a stockholder in this company that was holding shares in its current state you would be a little ticked at that kind of statement. It’s hard to feel confident that this filing will change anything if the attitude still remains. Oh, as an aside, Mr. Swanson has enjoyed some nice personal compensation over the past few years despite engineering this train right into Bankrupt Station. No wonder it’s business as usual.

Donnelly joins Idearc, who publishes the Verizon Yellow Pages, in Chapter 11. Idearc did so in March of this year.

So are the yellow pages dead? Is the online version still an option if you are an SMB who has been buying from them for years? Which Yellow Pages is the actual real one anyway? While we make this transition from traditional to new media options will this model have a place?

But this is not a surprise. Look at this from last summer:

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The Micro-Elevator Speech

This is not a new concept to me, because I've worked with it for years as I define myself and what I do and I've conducted workshops to help others do the same.

Drew wrote this recently:

What's your defining sentence?

Posted: 29 May 2009 07:29 AM PDT

Picture 2
We hosted (along with Jeff Garrison) a very laid back networking event last night. Basically, we opened the doors from 5 - 7 pm, people showed up with a couple bottles of their favorite beverage (we provided ice and coolers) and everyone hung out, met new people and chatted.

It was excellent -- 100+ people showed up and mingled. A good time was had by all and I'm hoping some new connections were made.

But, as I watched the room I got to thinking. If each of these people only had one sentence they could utter...what would they say? Would they fall into the rut of describing their job. "Hi, I'm Bob and I'm a financial planner." Or would they have a sentence at the ready to tell us how they're different from all the others in the crowd?

The goal is to pique someone's interest. To get them to say "tell me more" or to ask a question.

As you might know -- my self-intro would be: "Hi, I'm Drew. We help businesses create authentic love affairs with their customers."

What would your sentence be?

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday Night Marketing News

Clickables from Mediapost:

by Aaron Baar
Between now and June 27, consumers can log on to to enter the "Rumble in the Ring Ultimate Fight Sweepstakes," prizes for which include a VIP trip for two to Las Vegas to see a championship bout, branded Xbox360 consoles, and copies of the Fight Night Round 4 game once it is released on June 30. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
It's not all about the recession, and Packaged Facts predicts the trend will continue, even once the economy rediscovers its mojo. "The DIY movement is related to aspects of consumer psychology that extend beyond pure economics," it says, adding that in some segments, demographic factors also play a big role. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
The plan calls for shifting more advertising spending to supporting value-priced items such as the new BK Shots mini-burgers and the $1 Whopper Jr., a notable change from the chain's strategy of devoting about two-thirds of its advertising budget to supporting higher-priced items like the successful "Angry Whopper" sandwich. ... Read the whole story > >
by Tanya Irwin
Media budgets will be increased as conditions improve, according to more than two-thirds of the respondents (68%) to an April online survey of members of the ANA Brand Marketer Leadership Community panel. Forty-one percent said they will step up social networking/word-of-mouth, and 40% intend to raise spending for innovation and testing/learning. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Sales are predicted to improve 8.9% this month versus last. Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for, sees consumer demand returning, "but it is still far below last year's levels." On the other hand, the month has seen far fewer sales to rental fleets, he says, "particularly for Chrysler, who closed down production on May 1." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Wendy's says the move follows strategic moves by CMO Ken Calwell and the brand's leadership team to develop a clear brand strategy and business; reorganize marketing teams; overhaul R&D; create a new product pipeline; and complete a detailed strategic framework for all brand efforts, dubbed Wendy's "brand book," per the company. ... Read the whole story > >

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Work your Marketing

A few years ago, a friend told me how he wasted a few thousand dollars doing seminars and no one that came became a paying client. I asked him what he did to follow up with those that attended.

His answer? Nothing.

That's like making an investment and then because you don't have the cash in your pocket, saying that you lost it! I helped him with a follow up plan and he ended up tripling his investment.

Here's another way to work your marketing:

That's Amore!

Not long ago, a MarketingProfs colleague in Orange County, California, ordered an extra-large pizza from Gina's Pizza and Pastaria—a small, local chain known for its high-quality ingredients. When he went to pick it up, the manager asked, "Do you have a coupon? I see you've purchased three of these pizzas in the past few months, and they should have had coupons on the box."

The colleague replied that he'd seen them, but the most recent one he received came with an expiration date that had already passed. On hearing this, the manager frowned and said that was unfortunate because they were hoping customers would take advantage of the various specials. "Well, why don't we use this one right now?" he said as he took a flyer from the counter, trimmed the pertinent offer and scanned it into the register. "See, we just saved almost five dollars."

It was something the manager didn't have to do. Our colleague hadn't raised the issue, and didn't mind paying the full price for the pizza. But the experience had a remarkable impact on the way he viewed the restaurant: for the relatively low cost of $4.90, Gina's converted a satisfied customer into a loyal customer.

The Po!nt: It's one thing to distribute coupons, but actively encouraging their use can take their payoff to an entirely new level.

Source: To learn more about Gina's Pizza and Pastaria, click here.

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The Starbucks Identity Crisis

When I read this this morning, I thought, " Yeah, that's what's missing."

Starbucks was a late-comer in my town. We already had several locally owned and operated java joints that did a fine job. Still do, although some have gone away since Starbucks arrived.

But numerous times I have complained about the way Starbucks handles their marketing, and this commentary from Kate Newlin at Mediapost is right on target:
Oh, Starbucks, Where Art Thou? The brand I get asked most about -- and the one, frankly, I worry most about -- is Starbucks. Is it simply the poster child for two decades of "trading up" that we're now trading off? Is it doomed to die a tortuous public death by a thousand cuts, as McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts and anyone else with the ability to sell coffee for a buck slices and dices its share? And what's with that earnest, honest print ad campaign? Does anybody read that kind of stuff anymore?

The essence of a passion brand is that it provides the kind of experience that makes me want to share it with others -- and woe unto my friends if they don't love it the way I do. I'm more likely to question my relationship to my friends than to my passion brand. And for sure, Starbucks has played that role for millions throughout the world. The challenge now is daunting: Think about trying to woo an ex-lover: Once we've decided to live without our daily Starbucks, will it ever again seem irreplaceable?

The print ad campaign Starbucks is running makes me sigh. The company is so frustrated by the claims of the competition --$4-latte-is-dumb kind of thing -- that it's trying to reinvigorate its brand passion by rational argument. But, think about that ex-lover paradigm and imagine telling him/her that it really makes sense for you to be together because of your ancestry, the way you order in restaurants or how much the in-laws like you. Not really going to work!

Much as I respect Starbucks, they are tone-deaf to the emerging world order. How should they go about this? There are two essential things to bear in mind:

The price guys are desperate. If Starbucks underestimates how much McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts need to attract its customers, it will underestimate how hard these competitors are going to play. But with every major casual dining franchise in the country offering price promotions for lunch and dinner (Two for $20 screams Applebee's, 15 meals for under $15 shouts Outback, two for $3, three for $4 and 4 for $5 announces Dairy Queen), their basic value propositions are under attack from the food guys.

Dunkin has always had a tough time playing to the lunch/dinner crowd. It has to make it work at breakfast. And McDonald's knows that while other more hospitable chains are cranking out "value meals," it can make it work if it gets coffee right. High margin, high volume liquid gold, if it gets it roughly right for the grab-and-go adult who may order a few other savories at the same time.

Starbucks has a piece of equity that it is under leveraging. Schultz's "third space" edict. Remember that? We have to go to work, we have to go home, what we want is a third safe place to just hang. The genius of allowing customers to linger is a benefit in sharp contrast to the fight-and-flight feelings generated by a trip to a McDonald's Café. Does anybody really want to stay in the no-smile zone of a McDonald's or a Dunkin Donut shop?

And yet, as people increasingly need a neutral space to polish their resumes or nurse a cuppa while waiting for an interview, doesn't a $2 Pike's Peak blend look like a bargain? As we agree to meet for an informational interview, doesn't Starbucks send the right professional tone? You bet. For millions of Americans who don't have to go to work -- but wish they did -- Starbucks could be their local branch office, and it should be.

My Rx for Starbucks is to relish, revitalize and market their comfort zones. These are invaluable assets in an increasingly hostile and recession-weary world. Location, location, location: Your settings are your genuine and competitively sustainable point-of-difference, augmented by the savvy professional barristas you've bothered to train and retain. Trust them to tell your coffee credentials, not print ads.

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The Early Bird

Gets more than a worm. I like to live like this.. (from an email):

This Week's Sales Tip: I've always made it my business to be the first one in the office every morning. There are many advantages to starting your day early. Here are five great ones:
1. The office is quiet and you can really concentrate on planning your day.
2. The computers, copy and fax machines are all your's.
3. Knocking out a batch of prospecting emails early morning can really add up over the days and weeks.
4. Business owners are always in the office early morning without receptionists and gatekeepers.
5. Starting your day at 7:00 AM instead of 8:00 AM gives you an extra six and a half weeks of selling time over the course of the year.
When the other AE's in the department are hitting the snooze button, you're building your account list. Starting your day an hour earlier is a little tipping point that will yield you very big results.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Classic Ad of the Week

Not the version of the Mustang I lust after.

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Word of Mouth vs. Shouting at You

The best form of marketing is when someone feels so good about you, they have to tell someone else. That's Word of Mouth. The business that I'm in, Radio, too often believes that you need to shout at someone to get them to pay attention. Wrong. Some of the best radio and television ads are conversational instead of "announcerish".

Last week I discovered this article here. I'll be following George to see what else he has to say:

It is said that a typical American is exposed to 30,000 advertising messages a day. I found that hard to believe when I first heard this but then I just looked around and thought about this for a moment. Why don’t you think about this for a moment. Imagine your drive to work - billboards, commercials on the radio, how about logos on cars and trucks. Now think about your day at work - banner ads, logos on shirts, your computer, your telephone. Now that you think about it, you can start to imagine this notion of 30,000 ad messages a day. Now how many did you notice? How many can you remember? How many of these ad messages influenced you in any way? This is called “ad blindness” and we are getting very good at filtering this stuff out as consumers.

Interruption Marketing

Interruption marketing is the process of finding a prospect engaged in something else, like reading a magazine, watching television, watching a game, driving to work and interrupting him/her with a commercial message. To do that “creativity” in its conventional form is a huge asset albeit rare. In citing the example above, if you are not influenced or affected any one of the 30,000 ad messages a day, how is it that companies keep doing the same thing hoping for a different result. That’s insanity. It’s also a crap-shoot. It’s a matter of broadcasting loud to as many people as possible and hope it trickles down to a potential buyer.

As you can see, it’s not very effective. For many companies, their solution is to fight clutter with even more clutter. Target audiences, no matter how well segmented, have learned to filter out and ignore the noise. This is a fact.

Engagement Marketing

The digital space is about engaging in a conversation with peers, customers and staff, innovating with them and constantly improving your value proposition in an authentic way. Customers have the power, the information, the advice and the resources to make their own decisions, in the digital world its about entering the conversation. It’s about transparency and allowing consumers to participate and shape your brand based on authentic interactions between your employees, product or service and your customers. It also turns the traditional marketing paradigm on its head — using the interaction with one to spread “affect and influence” thru their personal network.

It’s about becoming involved. It’s about allowing your customers to shape your brand and shape the future experiences you deliver to your customers. It’s about human connection and relationships again — not a manufactured identity of the traditional brand.

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Make Networking WORK

After being very busy the last few months in the office, I am forcing myself to get out more and connect face to face with people again. This is how I started a few years ago when I moved to a town that I had never done sales work in before.

I actually like getting out and here's a few tips from Jeff Garrison for all of us to follow:

Do Networking Events with a Goal

Posted: 26 May 2009 08:40 AM PDT

Networking Event Thousands of business people are showing up at networking events this week and every week all across the country. Many will spend time with those people that they already know and with whom they are already familiar.

Others will introduce themselves to people that they don't know. Those that are prepared will deliver their thirty second pitch and exchange business cards.

The best and most well prepared will meet several new people and learn several facts about that person and their business. They will exchange business cards and will have asked for a follow up meeting.

This best net-workers are not only well prepared and practiced, but they have a goal. Perhaps the goal is to meet five new people and get three pieces of information about each. Maybe the goal is to get two commitments for follow up meetings with prequalified prospects.

Doing Networking Events with a Goal can significantly increase your Return on Time.

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