Saturday, October 03, 2009

Spending Priorities

Interesting Report from Marketing

American Consumers Shifting Priorities
According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, the first in a monthly series of reports about consumers' views, 60% of respondents who participated in the study said they intend to spend about the same or more in the next 30 days, (compared to the last 30 days), 40% plan to spend less. Among the respondents who said they would spend less in the next 30 days, the top three reasons were "trying to save money," "reducing debt," and that they "have the money but feel now is not the time to spend."

Among the general population, the greatest number of consumers said their top priority expenses one year ago were vacations (25%) and dining out (24%). Today, only 7% named vacations as a high priority and dining was named as a high priority for only eight%. However health and home expenses, like buying organic food and home maintenance were on the rise even as consumers traded down or out on other items.

So far, consumers are showing restraint when it comes to early holiday shopping. When asked what discount level would motivate them to begin their holiday shopping at retail stores in the next 30 days, 69% said they would not be motivated by a department store discount. Of that group 44% feel it is too early to start holiday shopping, including 52% of affluent and 48% of young professionals.

Pamela Codispoti, American Express Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cardmember Services, says "... there has been a shift in how consumers are expressing their wants and needs... (they) have taken stock of their financial situation and have a better handle on what their spending and saving plans are in the current economy... amid their cautiousness we are seeing some areas where people are willing to increase spending."

Comparing their priorities versus one year ago, two significant shifts areapparent:

  • Car maintenance showed the single most significant jump in priority (up 37 percentage points). 42% named it as a high priority today, but only 5% said that automobile maintenance and care was a high priority one year ago
  • The second highest shift was related to grooming, which rose 28 percentage points in priority. 46% said salon hairstyling and grooming was a high priority today; only 18% of adults said that it was a high priority one year ago

Higher Priority Rating Today vs. One Year Ago (% of Respondents)

% of Respondents


More Important Today

Important One Year Ago

Salon hair styling



Auto maintenance



Private schools



Home improvements



Organic food






Source: American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, September 2009

Less Important Today vs. One Year Ago (% of Respondents)

% of Respondents


High Importance Today

Important One Year Ago

Pet care



Dining out









House cleaning service






Sports activities



Source: American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, September 2009

Additional key findings included:

  • Young professionals were more optimistic about the economy and more likely to increase spending during the next 30 days (24% versus 14% of the affluent and 10% of the general population)
  • When young professionals who plan to spend more were asked what they would be spending it on, two thirds said clothing (65%), and more than half said dining out (54%) and travel (53%)
  • Among the general population, about one-half of consumers who expect to spend more said they plan to increase their spending on groceries and clothes (49% each)
  • The affluent who expect to spend more said it would be on travel (56%), dining out (47%) and clothes (43%)
  • When American consumers were asked what they would do with $500 of found money, one-third of consumers said they would pay off their regular monthly bills. One-in-four said they would apply it to pay off credit card debt or save it (26% each).
  • 33% of young professionals would put found money toward their credit card debt, compared to 26% of the affluent
  • More young professionals than affluents would use the money to go on a shopping spree (16% versus 6%)

Would Spend "Found" $500 (% of Respondents)

Spend On

% Would Spend

Regular monthly bills




Pay credit card debt


Mortgage/rent payment


Splurge at restaurant


Buy for others


Shopping spree for self


Source: American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, September 2009

Assessing consumers' spending plans on large purchases (over $500), young professionals showed the most willingness to spend:

  • Only 15% of the respondents in the general population plan to make a large purchase in the next 30 days.
  • The spenders were predominantly young professionals (38% versus 24% affluent)
  • Young professionals also planned to spend more on those purchases ($2,460) than their affluent counterparts ($2,170)

74% of the general population cited "seeing family and friends affected by the recession" was stated as being the most significant impact of the economic downturn. In fact, says the report, more people cited this reason than "losing their job" (30%), "losses in the stock market" (54%), and "losses in retirement or 401K savings" (56%).

To review the complete AMEX release, please go here.

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3 Marketing Basics

From a client of mine:

Breaking Through the Clutter

Sep. 30, 2009

Mathew Siecker
Written by:
Mathew Siecker

Breaking through the clutter in marketing and advertising these days can be a huge challenge. In order to successfully build awareness, your message will most likely have one or more of the following characteristics.

  1. Consistency - You must be consistent with your message. Kinda like the practice makes perfect saying, if people hear it and see it enough they will inherently get it. Think Apple for a consistent message.
  2. Targeted - A great consistent message also needs to be very targeted. Knowing the statistics and the demographics of your end user will shape your message and deliver it with outstanding results.
  3. Disruptive - Who needs either of the above when you can attract attention by simply being over the top — those crazy and outrageous ideas that look beyond demographics or the consistency of the message. It puts all its eggs in the crazy basket and just goes with it.

I bring this up now because, after the big Kanye West hoopla that went on, I came upon a statistic that utterly shocked me. Check out this graph that documented what the public was tweeting about after the MTV Video Music Awards.

graph showing Lady Gaga got most tweets

Sorry Kanye, nice try.

So why did Lady GaGa get so much tweeting in comparison to the seemingly hot topic of Kanye West? You could say it’s because of the crazy costumes or her above average performance. But I believe that GaGa was able to incorporate all three above practices to successfully brand herself in the current market of pop culture.

I think she gets an A++ for consistency. Her image was very bizarre, but the radical outfits were consistent with her image and kept the camera on her at all times. Targeting and demographics were a big win too. Knowing that a majority of the MTV viewers are connected to the social media frenzy, Gaga was able to spread herself quickly through twitter posts. Another risky event was her performance. Again she stayed consistent with the crazy costumes. The performance itself was also above average and, with the help of some Hollywood blood, she was even able to act like she died at the end. This was a great disruptive tactic that created controversy which in turn increased the talk and views of people blogging.

So what did we learn from this? A tight, focused and consistent branding look and message can really go a long way. People are getting used to outrageous outbursts like Kanye’s interruption. These types of interruptive messages are not thought through, lack any clear message and may ultimately hurt the brand. In Lady GaGa’s case, she was smart and clear with her message and branding. This in turn caused people to want to know more. And judging from all the tweets involving her name, she came out as the real winner of the evening. It’s great to see in the midst of all the interruptive nonsense out there, a quality, consistent and focused message can still reign supreme!

If you enjoyed this article or would like to receive your own personal "subscription" to Villing & Company’s News & Views, click here to get free updates by e-mail or RSS.

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Advertising, Social Media & Word of Mouth

Before heading to the 2nd day of our annual district conference of the AAF, I read this article and have a few disagreements with it.

Word of Mouth is Still Sexier Than Social Media

Social Media is sexy. Word of mouth is still sexier. Yea, I know, everyone wants a date with sexy social media right now, but trust me, word of mouth is the one you want to take home to meet your parents. Word of mouth is that long-term relationship that can turn into marriage. And I have the sexy numbers to prove it.

Photo Credit: Tiago Ribeiro

Yesterday morning at the Austin Social Media Breakfast, WOM Enthusiast John Moore, of Brand Autopsy, gave the numbers to about 40 marketing and social media students.
(*John Moore graciously sent me his cheat sheet with all the stats you see here.)

- 76% of consumers believe companies are untruthful in their advertising.
(Source: Bold Mouth’s “Perceptions, Practices, and Ethics” report 2006)

- 78% of global consumers say recommendations from other consumers are the most credible form of advertising.
(Source: Nielsen’s “Truth in Advertising” report 2007)

- The typical American takes part in 125 person-to-person/voice-to-voice conversations per week that discuss products and services.
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

- Specific brands mentioned 90 times per week in person-to-person/voice-to-voice conversations
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study 2009)

- 90% of brand-related conversations take place offline versus 10% online.
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

- Ranked from highest to lowest, the most common activity where word of mouth (WOM) occurs:

  1. Face-to-face conversations - 75%
  2. Voice-to-Voice conversation - 15%
  3. Text message - 3.2%
  4. Email - 3.1%
  5. Social media - 1.3% <----- Are you stunned by that figure?
    (Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study 2009)

- Positive WOM comments out-weigh to negative comments by a ratio of 6:1
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

- 22% of all brand-related conversations are sparked directly from advertising.
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

- 78% of brand-related conversations are sparked by something else:

  1. Great customer service
  2. Explaining how something works
  3. Remarkable and entertaining stuff

At this point, you may be wondering why social media seems like it's so much sexier than word of mouth. After all, social media gets all the press these days, and social media gets all the dates with the a-list marketers. In my opinion, that's precisely why. The a-list marketers and bloggers are heavy users of social media, and consequently, social media seems sexier. I believe it's borne out by this statistic:

- 5% of Twitter users account for 75% of all activity on Twitter. And 75% of Twitter users joined in 2009. 94% of users have less than 100 followers.
(Source: sysmos “Inside Twitter” report 2009)

How to Score a Date with Word of Mouth

Social media looks good on your arm when you walk into a marketing meeting. All the other marketers will wink at you and tell you how good your Facebook page looks, how clever your tweets are. But you'd better pay some attention to traditional word-of-mouth, because that's where you can really score. How? John Moore had some relationship advice for those trying to court word of mouth.

1. People don't want to do business with a boring brand.
What's exciting about your brand? It's not enough to deliver good customer service and sell quality products. Anyone can do that. Create a little excitement by doing something unusual and unexpected.

2. A brand's personality is the best form of advertising.
Let your personality shine in your business. Are you outgoing, gregarious? Maybe you have a great sense of humor and you like to be playful? Whatever your personality, make it evident in your brand. Your brand is an extension of you.

3. Remarkable things get remarked about.
Customers don't recommend the ordinary. Add some magic spots to your business; products, services, and experience, that customers have to talk about.

4. Create an experience that sparks conversation.
Creating a remarkable customer experience may be the best way to earn word of mouth. Think of interaction with customers as the opportunity to write a customer story that they can re-tell to their friends and family.

Now that you know, who do you want to date? Sure go out with social media for some good times, meet some new friends. But now that you know the numbers, don't you think word of mouth is sexier? How will it affect the way you market your business?

If you liked this article, please consider subscribing. For updates on new articles: Receive The Marketing Spot by Email or Get The Marketing Spot in a blog reader

Me again. The very best social media efforts result in Word of Mouth Conversations. Twitter is an excellent example of this in my opinion. If you treat Social Media as a self-serving broadcast of why you and your business is hot stuff, then you are doing it wrong.

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From Jeff Garrison:

Sales & Customer Service

Posted: 21 Sep 2009 06:00 AM PDT

Customer Service

How clients perceive the quality of yourcustomer service begins with their expectations. So, what does this mean for the sales person?

It is the sales person's responsibility to set realistic expectations with customers during the sales process.

After all, if a customer is upset later, it does not solve the problem to say that their expectations are outside the industry norm, unreasonable, or downright ridiculous.

The best way to avoid assuming or guessing what the customer service expectations are is to ask what they are.

"Ms. Prospect, what are your customer service expectations of a good ____________ company?"

There are many good things that could come from asking this one question.

  • You may discover that your company is a good fit for the prospect regarding their customer service expectations and your actual service.
  • You may discover that the prospect has unrealistic expectations and you have the chance to address them before there is an issue.
  • You may discover that their expectations exceed your normal service levels, but that you can provide what they want easily.
  • You may discover that the expectations are such that you can provide what they want, but only for an additional fee.
  • You may beat out competitors because you asked and they did not.

Work this question into you normal sales process and see what kind of reaction you get. It will start some surprising and worthwhile conversations.

How have you been stung by unrealistic, or even crazy, expectations?

Photo on flickr by Heberger Site

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

We're hosting the District 6 American Advertising Federation Conference today and tomorrow in Fort Wayne. Here's what's going on elsewhere...

by Karl Greenberg
Tony Pace, CMO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, tells Marketing Daily, that the new effort is not the first with NBC, but it is the most comprehensive. "We have done lots of stuff with NBC, including integration with 'The Biggest Loser,' he says. "But this is the first time we have done a deal with this scope within the sports arena." ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
"The proliferation of DVRs is forcing every company to reevaluate how it spends its media dollars," Jason Maciel, director of marketing for Vizio, tells Marketing Daily. "'Vizio's Profiles' represents a shift for us to move beyond traditional media buys to the development and ownership of branded content." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"We are in the process of reviewing our entire marketing strategy for next year," Jason Chinnock tells Marketing Daily. Ducati will trim print advertising and push more digital-media efforts. "We are not looking to go digital to save money," he says. "We are actually spending the same, but with efforts targeting people who are more likely to be interested in us." ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
J.P. De La Cruz, marketing director, Chase Card Services, says, "The concept was ultimately chosen because it maps to Ink's attributes: flexible, fluid, dynamic and nimble. We listened to small business owners and found that they wanted to be given the chance to make their mark -- and that's exactly what Ink helps them do." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
It may be the aftertaste from "Twilight." A survey released by the National Retail Federation reports that vampires jumped into the No. 2 spot, from No. 3 last year. Nurses, on the other hand, fell from No. 5 last year to No. 13. Witches continue to reign supreme in the No. 1 position, with 18.1% of adults saying they plan to don a pointy hat and do a little cackling. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Per Jeff Schuster, J.D. Power predicts the mix of vehicle segments in the U.S. market will get more balanced because of tight availability of compact vehicles and crossovers, which were sold out during the CARS program. "Sales of compacts dropped from 28% to around 18% this month," he says. "Sales of compact [crossovers] will also come down. ... Read the whole story > >

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Do you have it Backwards?

Yesterday I devoted my lunch hour to a marketing meeting for a non-profit. As I listened to all the plans they had, I thought, "who cares?" It seems like we were raising the flagpole to show how great we are and not really paying attention to what draws engagement from those they want to serve.

So, between now and the next meeting, I will need to sit down with the chair of this marketing committee and express my concerns. Afterward I may decide to let them do their flagpole raising, but without my involvement.

In my email today, was the latest from Seth Godin talking about this subject too:

Sell like you buy

Here are the two most common pleas I hear from marketers,

"Our product is as remarkable as we can make it, and we're trying really hard and it's very important to us that people buy it, but despite our hard work, it's not selling!" (Hint: calling it a purple cow doesn't make it one).


"Our business is built around the status quo, and it's not fair that the market wants something else now."

In both cases, the marketing pitch is focused around the seller, not the buyer. You wouldn't (and don't) buy from someone who says you ought to choose them even though there's a cooler, more remarkable, cheaper, better product. You don't seek out or talk about status quo brands merely because the marketer is trying really hard.

If it's not good enough for you as a consumer, why should it be good enough for you as a marketer?

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Holiday Hope

Let's see if you know how to make money this coming holiday season:

Holiday Forecasts Hold Out Some Hope

There Are Opportunities for Marketers Who Understand Today's Consumer

Coming so soon after last fall's near-collapse of the global financial system, the 2008 holiday-shopping season was doomed from the start. Now, with an economic landscape that features some signs of recovery alongside plenty of lousy numbers (and plenty of consumer anxiety), how can we expect 2009's holiday-shopping season to pan out?

Some early forecasts suggest we'll see another less-than-robust season, though one that offers some opportunities to marketers who are in sync with the current consumer mood.

A report last week from Deloitte predicted holiday-shopping sales this year will be unchanged from last year's $810 billion, which itself was down 2.4 percent from 2007's figure. A BIGresearch survey this month found 40 percent of respondents budgeting less for gifts than they did last year, while a mere 4 percent were budgeting more. An Information Resources Inc. (IRI) report released this month suggests consumers are "more hopeful" than last year and could "selectively open their wallets wider." But its polling, fielded last month, also sees just 23 percent of respondents adopting a gift-giving budget of $800 or more, "down 13 percent from 2008."

As significant as early indications of total spending, though, are shifts in the ways consumers are likely to go about their holiday shopping -- and, hence, in the way marketers should address potential customers. As IRI's report notes, people "are taking a more strategic approach to shopping this year." And that's reflective of a deeper change in the way they view their expenditures. Thom Blischok, president of IRI Consulting & Innovation, speaks of a new "economic sobriety" in consumers who've seen their retirement funds shrink, the value of their house decline and so on. The consumer mantra now, he says, is "I really have to save more and live more conservatively."

In this environment, people will still spend money, but marketers must give them a pragmatic reason for doing so, Christmas or no Christmas. "Ads must emphasize innovative ways that gifts can be integrated into everyday life," says Blischok. "People will be buying through the lens of affordability and functionality -- 'Can I really afford it, and is it functional?'" They'll be looking for gifts that will stay in use and not get stuck in a closet after the holidays, he adds.

Nor is it strictly a matter of people having fewer discretionary dollars to toss around. "The whole movement from conspicuous consumption to conscious consumption has been permeating all levels of society," says Mary Delk, a director in Deloitte Consulting's retail practice. "Consumers are moving toward being more reflective about their spending," she says, partly in tandem with an increasing concern about "sustainability." And they want to see marketing that acknowledges this new sensibility, and isn't just talking about price. "Instead of marketing something as a low price point, they could be emphasizing that you're a conscientious consumer," she says.

Whatever their motivation, consumers will be more careful about the ways they spend their money. One reflection of this, according to IRI's research, will be widespread use of shopping lists for holiday shopping. Just 18 percent of IRI's respondents expect to do their holiday-gift shopping without a shopping list in hand -- which means it's important for marketers to get brand messages across to them before they walk into a store. And in shopping for foods and beverages for holiday entertaining, just 11 percent of respondents said they'd forgo a shopping list. "By the time they get to the store, people's minds will be pretty well made up directionally," says Blischok. That presents a challenge for in-store marketing. It can still be effective, says Blischok, if it links up with "the rest of the brand promise" as consumers have encountered it elsewhere, including online. But it can't be "in-store display just for the sake of in-store display."

One beneficiary of consumers' caution about spending will be private-label goods at the supermarket as people stock up for their holiday entertaining at home. Ninety percent of IRI's respondents said they would be using private-label goods for holiday meals, up from 87 percent last year. Blischok notes that private-label goods made big strides last year in quality, and this year they'll be "reaping the harvest" of those improvements.

As for gift giving, Delk predicts that toys and electronic games could be strong categories. In past economic cycles, she notes, expenditures on kids have been quicker to recover than spending in general. So, to the extent that there's a loosening in consumers' grip on their wallets, those kid-oriented sectors could benefit. IRI taps electronics as one of the more promising categories this holiday season, noting $100 Blu-ray players as an example. Blischok foresees strength on sales of G3 and G4 phones for gaming. He also mentions "affordable health and beauty categories," such as skincare, as sectors that could do well this holiday season. The same goes for beer and wine as people emphasize in-home entertaining, he says.

One of the dirty little secrets of holiday-gift shopping is that (when there's not a recession on, at least) people end up buying lots of stuff for themselves. In its research leading up to 2008's holiday season, though, Deloitte found a sharp decline in such "self-purchasing" -- deeper than the overall drop in holiday spending. Since self-purchases are often in the apparel category, that sector suffered last year and, says Delk, may well do so again this year.

Even if people felt like splurging for the holidays, any boost in spending on gifts and entertaining would have to run against the grain of what remains a strong inclination toward austerity in discretionary outlays. A Harris Poll, conducted earlier this month, gives a sense of consumers' basic outlook on inessential expenditures. Asked to look ahead to the next six months -- i.e., a period including the holiday-shopping season and then some -- 67 percent of respondents said they'll decrease their spending on eating out at restaurants during that period, up from 65 percent last November and 66 percent this past May.

The numbers were nearly identical when the Harris respondents were asked about their spending on entertainment: 67 percent in the new poll said they'd be cutting that expenditure, vs. 64 percent in both November and May.

When the Harris Poll asked the more general question of whether respondents will "have more money to spend the way you want" in the next six months, the responses were similarly unpromising for marketers who wish for a surge of holiday spending. Twenty-five percent of respondents think they'll have more money to spend as they please, a number unchanged from last November and down a percentage point from May.

Marketers on the lookout for people willing to spend will have better luck with particular demographic categories, according to the BIGresearch report. In its analysis, "big spenders" were more likely to be men than women. And while those identified as "penny pinchers" had an average age of 46.7, the "big spenders" skewed about a decade younger, with an average age of 36.9 Spenders were also more likely than average to be single, while pinchers were more likely to be married.

(Source: Adweek, 09/28/09)

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From my email this tip for media salespeople that you can apply to any sales job:

Daily Sales Tip: They're Not Worth My Time!

One of the most difficult things for media reps to do is to "disqualify" prospects and to release current accounts from your account list (even if they are billing).

It's not always true that the bigger the account list, the greater the billing. By concentrating on fewer accounts and forging deeper relationships, you will probably find more success than casting a wide net with one pass. Concentrating on certain geographic territories may save you more time, and becoming a category specialist may increase your effectiveness in an area of expertise.

How do you know when it is time to terminate a relationship with a current billing account? Some accounts create more stress than they are worth in billing. Problem accounts that are constant emotional drains can zap your energy and diminish your effectiveness in other areas.

A good way to determine the cost/benefit ratio of an account is to figure what the value of your time is worth. Note how much time you are spending on each account and compare this with the amount you are making on each account.

If you are making $50,000 per year (or that is your goal), your rate (assuming a 40-hour work week) is $24 per hour. If a problem account billing $1,500 per month is netting you $225 per month in commissions and you are spending an average of 15 difficult hours per month to service that account, you are only making $15 per hour, or less than two-thirds of your average rate. Your time would be better spent on more profitable accounts.

Don't be afraid to fire a bad account. Be afraid of keeping bad accounts.

Source: Sales consultant/author Michael Guld, president of The Guld Resource Group (

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thursday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click and

Packaged Goods
by Karl Greenberg
Jason Dial -- former director of global sports marketing for P&G, who left the company a month ago -- told Marketing Daily that, paradoxically, the deal was easier to do than the NFL program, although the Olympic program is much more complex. P&G is the first company to launch both a major multi-brand NFL and Olympics program in the same year. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
Potato chip sales have leaped by 22% since the economy started to go south, according to market research firm Mintel, which compared 2007 market data against its own market estimate for the category for full-year 2009. Mintel's explanation is that they are a good value, and part of the broader, continuing trend of consumers turning to salty snacks between meals and after dinner. ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
The company's True North snack brand has signed on as the exclusive sponsor of the magazine's "Make It Matter" Day, a national volunteer day of reading, writing and support of literacy and education. As such, True North has had a presence on all of the Make It Matter communications, from e-mails to running banner ads on the program's dedicated microsite. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
ROI was the theme of the Sports Sponsorship Symposium on Wednesday in New York. The opening panel on recalibration of sports sponsorships and event marketing put properties like MSG and NFL and brands like AT&T and Anheuser-Busch at the scrimmage line over how to measure effectiveness, and how properties and brands can make data work in a dialog. ... Read the whole story > >
by Tanya Irwin
Marketers who incorporate data and careful planning into all holiday initiatives will help ensure strong sales and lasting customer engagement, says Matt Seeley, president of Experian's Marketing Services Platforms. Having the right customer insight will provide an understanding of shopping behaviors and preferences of the target market. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
"The low awareness of these initiatives raises huge questions," says Grail Research's Silvia Springolo, "because companies are spending so much money on them. And while green qualities are very important to consumers, they are not being communicated effectively." For example, 83% of consumers had no idea Cisco was a green company, while 79% say the same thing about both Lauder and Nestle. ... Read the whole story > >
by Fern Siegel
As the series' presenter, Stella Artois will be integrated throughout Sundance's marketing efforts. The Belgian lager will be featured in custom show opens and closes, tune-in spots and animated "You're Watching" billboards. There are also eight co-branded vignettes tagged "One of a Kind." Plus, Stella Artois will have a presence on the net's on-demand platform. ... Read the whole story > >

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Quality at the Holidays

From MarketingProfs:

Small Quantity? Then I Expect Quality

As we approach the holiday season, wary merchants may be limiting their inventories so as not to be left with huge amounts of unsold product in the new year.

The challenge for marketers: How do you make a more limited array of product options still draw customers in? New research says the answer lies in touting product quality.

In a series of experiments, these researchers investigated how consumer choice among retailers offering various-sized assortments is influenced by the attractiveness of the options in those assortments. In other words, which counts most: quantity or quality?

In one test, seminar participants were given the choice of ordering a sandwich from one of two sandwich shops at lunchtime. The "Black Forest" shop offered just 9 different sandwiches, while the "Prairie Moon" shop offered 38. One group was told that both shops received a high consumer rating; another group was told that both shops received a relatively low rating. Results:

  • 13.3% of participants selected the smaller assortment when choosing between sandwich shops offering "less attractive" options.
  • 40% selected the smaller assortment when choosing between shops offering "more attractive" options.

The researchers conducted other quantity/quality choice experiments with products such as jam, CDs, even designer water. Across the board, their results showed that:

  • Smaller assortments tend to be preferred when the overall attractiveness of the options in the choice set is relatively high. (Think boutique.)
  • Larger assortments tend to be preferred when they comprise relatively less-attractive options. (Think dollar store.)

The researchers conclude: "Consumer preference for retailers offering larger assortments tends to decrease as the attractiveness of the options in their assortments increases, and can even lead to a reversal of preferences in favor of retailers offering smaller assortments."

The Po!nt: Think quality. Merchants who plan to reduce inventory this holiday season may want to stress the quality of the limited products offered.

Source: "Assortment Size and Option Attractiveness in Consumer Choice Among Retailers," by Alexander Chernev and Ryan Hamilton. Journal of Marketing Research, 2009.

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New Ad Campaigns

From Amy:

By Amy Corr

Soup. Steak. Soda. Skin care. Shinwhack Day. Let's launch!

ProgressoProgresso chefs play telephone with their customers, using string and empty Progresso soup cans. A chef offers marital advice to a woman whose husband wears clothes from 20 years ago. The husband sees no problem with his attire and tells the cook that his wife should relax and enjoy the view. See it here. A woman misinterprets her co-worker's intentions after he gives her a bowl of Italian wedding soup. It doesn't stop her from rambling off potential baby names to her Progresso chef. Watch it here. Fiber is the star of the final ad, seen here. A soup lover finds it hard to believe that his favorite flavor is loaded with fiber. Saatchi & Saatchi New York created the ads, directed by Jim Jenkins from O Positive.

Expense a SteakIn this down economy, upscale restaurants suffer greatly now that expense accounts are closely watched. How can one enjoy a nice, juicy steak without looking irresponsible? Enter, a site promoting Maloney & Porcelli, an upscale NYC steakhouse. Here's how it works. Enter the cost of your meal into the generator, wait patiently for numbers to crunch, then download a PDF of various receipts totaling your meal amount. The receipts are harmless expenses ranging from office supplies, cab fare and business-related books. This campaign gets better. Since patrons usually leave with a doggie bag and can't possibly return to the office with a Maloney & Porcelli-branded doggie bag, a minor problem arose. A solution was swiftly created. Doggie bags from M&P feature logos from Chipotle, Sbarro and Olive Garden. Better still, said brands have no idea their logos are being used for deceptive purposes. Surprise! Then again, the brands are receiving free press... Each bag features the tongue-in-cheek line, "free to roam wherever you please, completely invisible to the watchful eyes of the etiquette police." Walrus created the site.

Caribiou CoffeeCaribou Coffee launched a handful of videos promoting its fall menu flavors starring Jack & Gourdo, a pumpkin and gourd. Jack eats entirely too much pumpkin bread in the first ad, considering he's a pumpkin. Gourdo mistook him for an orange. See it here. Gourdo dreams dancing maracas in another ad, shown here. Jack wonders why he and Gourdo are being stared at. Is it their drinks or lack of pants? Find out here. Jack's face is carved out for Halloween, scaring Gourdo. Now when Jack drinks coffee, smoke rises through his eyes, along with the coffee. See it here. A jack-o-lantern carving demo is about to take place in the final ad, seen here. Unfortunately for Gourdo, a gourd will be used in the demo. Colle+McVoy created the campaign.

Got MilkThe California Milk Processor Board is launching its latest "Got Milk" campaign starring rock star White Gold. TV spots promote the "Battle for Milkquarious," a 20-minute rock opera about milk. Yes, you read that correctly: a rock opera about milk. It launches Oct. 5 online and chronicles White Gold's quest to save Milkquarious from a milk shortage. Like all rock operas, there's a villain, a love interest named Strawberry Summers, and a TV campaign leading up to the launch. One ad, seen here, features White Gold previewing his rock opera and encouraging California teens to recreate scenes from "Battle for Milkquarious" for a chance to win money for their high school's arts program. Another ad, "Jug Life," shows additional clips from "Milkquarious," which looks hysterical. Milk supplies are stolen and White Gold enlists the efforts of a strong sidekick to fight an evil villain and poofy creatures. See it here. If these ads don't quench your thirst, there's also a music video. It's a fight to see who has the bigger ego: White Gold or Strawberry Summers. Goodby, Silverstein and Partners created the campaign.

Dr. PepperSanta Claus, the Easter bunny, a leprechaun, the tooth fairy, Big Foot, and a Diet Dr Pepper spokesman. What seems out of place? These fictional characters attend a meeting called the "I exist" support group, in a TV ad promoting Diet Dr Pepper. The diet soda tastes so great that it's hard to believe it's real. Even Santa Claus has a hard time believing. Watch the ad here, created by Deutsch LA. This ad reminded me of a holiday-themed ad for M&Ms where a meeting between Santa and red and yellow M&Ms ended with Santa and red M&M fainting over the shock of one another's existence. See it here.

KiehlsKiehl's launched a comic-themed Web site promoting its new Acai Damage-Repairing Skincare line. ExpressYourPOW allows users to write their own comic strip or single frame, and/or use copy provided by the site. The finished product can be shared via email, Facebook or Twitter. Once they've created a comic, Kiehl's loyalists can also learn more about the new product line. Colle+McVoy created the site.

Las VegasThe Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority launched two TV spots this summer using two different brand themes. The first falls under the uber-popular "What happens here, stays here" umbrella and features a woman reporting a drop in Las Vegas tourism. Once she's off-air, viewers find that she's not wearing any pants, but a bikini bottom. Her suit top is quickly removed and she jumps into a pool surrounded by a crowd of partygoers. See the ad here. The next ad is a fictional holiday that makes Chinchilli Day look good. Shinwhack Day is a celebration of those olden times when men would vie for a maiden's hand in marriage by whacking each other in the shin. The first who cries, loses. Current generations celebrate by partying in Vegas. Watch the ad here. R&R Partners created the ads.

ScionATTIK created a print campaign for Scion tC sports coupe. The agency created a set of unique manifestos for the tC. "Tear it up, don't rip it off. Always zag when others zig. Become one of us by becoming none of us," reads one ad, seen here. Scion offers buyers more than 150 accessories to choose from, making the odds slim of two Scion owners having the exact same car.

Master Card AppRandom iPhone app of the week: MasterCard launched its second iPhone app, called MasterCard Priceless Picks. The app provides users with more than 200,000 GPS-pinpointed deals and discounts for stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. People can also share their own Priceless Picks from their favorite restaurant, favorite concert venue or their favorite park. User Picks appear in round bubbles that are color-coded to represent a specific category, such as dining, shopping or travel, while MasterCard-selected offers appear as squares. Click here to download the free app.

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

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Selling to the Big Boys

From a recent Jill Konrath email:

Appointment Setting at the C/VP Level

By Mike Damphousse

One of the biggest challenges that sellers face is how to get the time of a C-Level prospect inside big companies - how to set an appointment with that VP or CxO that we know is the perfect prospect.

There are typically four channels available to achieve this:

  • Sales rep can set meetings on their own
  • Sales rep can use network contacts to open the door for them
  • Sales rep can have an inside sales team set meetings
  • Sales rep can have an appointment setting firm set meetings

All four methods work. It really depends on how the rep's company has setup their demand gen programs and how the rep wants to operate. Inside sales departments and appointment setting vendors specialize in providing the lead generation activity and the appointment setting expertise to identify, qualify and secure the meetings.

But what if the seller has to or wants to do the work on his own.
Here are a few tips from the experts:

  • Work from a good list, and as soon as you get a direct dial or email address, don't ever lose it.
  • Persist. Dial whenever you have 5 minutes. Dial your hottest list of prospects--add the numbers to your speed dial. They eventually pick up.
  • Work with admins. Most execs still use them and contrary to popular belief, they are NOT gatekeepers unless you put them in that role.
  • Don't over-sell on the first phone call or email. If you get that short opportunity to communicate with the prospect, your only goal should be to get a meeting.
  • At first, try not to let them push you off with a request to send information, or a referral to another colleague. These are just natural instincts to brush you off. If you can't recover though, sending info or delegating the meeting is acceptable.
  • Bring value to the call. You only have a few minutes. Be respectful of their time. hare your value, then ask one or two questions, and make sure they lead to your goal

Here's a dialog example that should clarify the above points.

State your purpose, "I'm calling to see if we might get together to talk about..." Then state your benefit in a simple statement, "the ROI my company has been bringing to companies like yours." Ask a leading question, "What is your company doing in this area right now?" Listen. Then ask for the meeting, "...interesting. I really believe a conversation could be valuable, especially given what you just told me. Are you available in the next couple days for a formal call?"

Don't get dragged into a rat hole If the prospect pushes you for a pitch, or asks a question that is more than a couple minute phone call can handle, reply with:

"That's a good question, and yes we do (fill in the short answer), but to really address that topic it would take more than the few minutes you have here and I want to be respectful of your time. Would you be available in the next week or two for a short meeting?"

In Summary: Hello. Short pitch with value. Ask a leading questions. Ask for the meeting. Repeat. Good luck!

Mike damphousse head shot MIKE DAMPHOUSSE is the consummate sales and marketing executive, leading the growth of Green Leads while sharing b2b demand generation knowledge with others on his Smashmouth Marketing blog and through speaking. After serving as CMO at two software companies, Mike created Green Leads to leverage technology, the human asset, and today’s ever changing trends.

Mike has developed a new brand of marketing that delivers ROI in this 2.0 world. Green Leads serves companies of all sizes, from 30 person startups to billion dollar software giants. Mike’s blog, Smashmouth Marketing is widely read amongst b2b marketing professionals.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Wrapping up the third quarter of 2009:

by Karl Greenberg
Evan Brody, marketing manager for Slurpee and Big Gulp beverages tells Marketing Daily that the Domo program -- intended to appeal to 20-something and younger consumers -- is the first promotion for 7-Eleven to be based on a character that doesn't come from a major film, sports or entertainment property. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
Young adults, typically the big spenders, are cutting back even more sharply: The average 18-24 year-old will spend $68.56 on the holiday, compared to $86.59 last year and $81.91 back in 2007. "For them, this year's theme will be, 'How creative can I be, and how little can I spend?"' the National Retail Federation says. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
David Leavitt, VP of snack marketing at Hostess' parent, Interstate Brands Corp., says that while the company markets year around, "October is great time period for the [cake] category and a great time for us; Halloween is such a wonderful event for the category because people love to give away Twinkies and cup cakes, so we try to embrace that in a really big way." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
Reducing assortments has become an "increasingly viable option" for retailers, and CPG companies are reporting serious concerns about potentially "losing a brand" to SKU rationalization, reports VP Paul Weitzel in Bishop's latest Competitive Edge update, based on results of Bishop's 2009 Total Store SuperStudy. ... Read the whole story > >
by Tanya Irwin
The contest requires entrants to develop or modify an existing recipe to make it healthier using Del Monte brand fruits, vegetables or tomatoes as a primary ingredient. Incorporating healthy baking as part of their creation is encouraged. Consumer science teachers, civic group leaders, and even parents can use the contest to engage kids through a creative process with cooking. ... Read the whole story > >

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Turn it Around

Good words of advice from Marketing Profs:

Oh, No, Not Her Again!

"Eighty-seven-year-old Gladys has a reputation among her fellow retirement community members," write Marilyn Shuttle and Lori Jo Vest in the first chapter of Who's Your Gladys? "She's known as a cranky complainer who is impossible to please." But when she called Professional Movers for a quote, the company's sales rep, Chris, decided to treat her spunk and tenacity with respect. "By the end of his visit," they continue, "Gladys had bonded with Chris and booked the move."

As always seems to happen with our most irritable customers, though, something went wrong: During the move, an employee accidentally cracked Gladys' marble tabletop. Andrew Androff, a co-owner of Professional Movers, braced himself for the tongue-lashing he knew would come. "[He] felt compassion for her while she vented," note Shuttle and Vest, "and assured her that his company would have the table repaired, and this if she wasn't satisfied with the results, he would replace it."

Chris followed up by visiting Gladys at home—rather than making a phone call—and promised a satisfactory resolution, no matter what it took. So when repairs to the tabletop fell short of expectations, he volunteered to drive Gladys to the store, where she chose a replacement.

The extraordinary customer service cost the company time and money, but it impressed Gladys so deeply that her word-of-mouth recommendations have made Professional Movers the number-one choice in her retirement complex. "High and persistent praise from such a hard-to-please person attracts attention," conclude Shuttle and Vest.

The Po!nt: You just might turn your most difficult customers into your greatest advocates by handling them with compassion and thoughtfulness.

Source: Who's Your Gladys? Click here for more information.

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Marketing includes Customer Service

When you run a business and pay low wages to your frontline people, you end up screwing up your marketing efforts.

And now with Social Media, bad PR will spread faster than a California wildfire.

Lorraine Ball wrote this on her blog
today, sent out a message on twitter (she has 2,407 followers), and now I'm reposting it here.

The hotel should be grateful that they were not named in what she wrote:

Customer Service Begins With Your Front Line

Posted by Lorraine on September 30, 2009

Are the people who touch your customers most often empowered to make good service decisions on your behalf?

The other day I was in a parking garage, attached to a hotel, which had an automated payment machine. I put in my ticket and my credit card, and should have been charged $8.00

When my receipt came out, I was charged $23 for two hours of parking. And while this may be the going rate in cities like New York, Chicago or LA, this is quite a bit more than we typically pay for a parking spot in Indianapolis, Indiana. And so, knowing I had been overcharged, I took my ticket and my receipt and walked inside the hotel to secure a refund.

I approached the registration desk and explained what had happened to the woman behind the counter. She looked at me as if I had landed from another planet. Clearly she was unaware there was a parking garage attached to the hotel in which she worked and was absolutely clueless as to what she should do about my problem.

After a few moments, I asked if there was someone else who could help me. She went off, and found someone who was aware of the parking garage. The second woman took my credit card, and wandered off again. Despite the fact that they had several credit card terminals at the desk, and a cash drawer, my $15 refund had to be processed elsewhere.

At this point, I had invested more than 20 minutes for a $15 refund, and I was beginning to wonder if it was really worth the continued wait, but she had my credit card, so I stayed.

She returned, with lots of paper work, my credit card, and a new ticket I could use to exit the garage. While I should have been grateful for her efforts, under this incredibly stupid system, I was just annoyed. With lots of downtown parking, it is unlikely I will choose this garage again.

What about you? Are your systems designed to allow your front line to respond to customer requests quickly? Do they know how to handle unusual situations and keep customers coming back?

(cartoon from

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Timing the Close

from Art Sobczak:

This Week's Tip:
A Question That Can Be Viewed as
Cheesy or Good, Depending On ...


Here's a technique that can be either solid,
or sound cheesy, depending upon where it's
used on a call:

"What's it going to take to get your business?"

I had a guy use this on me the other day. This
was the opening statement on a cold call.

Caller: "Hey, Art. Bill at Audio Duplicators. We
duplicate CD's and DVD's. I wondering what
it would take to get your business?"

I felt like saying, "A better salesperson," but I
was just a bit more tactful in saying "I'm not
interested," which he didn't question.

Of course, using this early begs all kinds of
comments and questions from prospects and
customers, some spoken, some not. Some
logical, some smart-alecky. All justified. For

"Why should I even consider answering the

"Who ARE you?"

"If you gave it to me for free, maybe."

"I'm satisfied with the company I'm using."

The problem with this question, used early, is
that it is much too early, and no value whatsoever
has been even hinted at yet. I had no reason to
stay on the phone with him, and he is asking ME
to explain how I would give him my business!
Come on.


Let's fast forward in a call ... one where there's
a good opening, nice qualifying and need-development
questions, a strong presentation, perhaps an
attempt to close, and the prospect hems and haws
with, "I'm just not sure."

Then, this would make more sense.

"Pat, we seem to be in agreement that this is what
you're looking for, and the price is within your budget.
What is it going to take for us to move forward?"

Here are questions I like to ask in the probing stage.
Especially when you are competing with someone
else for a piece of business.

"How, specifically, will you make your decision?"

"What decision-making criteria will you use, and
which areas will be most important to you?"

"If we are at the top in all of those areas, will we
be the one you choose?"

"If you made a decision today, where would we

"Attitudes are more important than facts"
Dr. Karl Menninger

Go and Have Your Best Week Ever!


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

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click on the links to read more:

by Karl Greenberg
In a first for a package delivery company, United Parcel Service is giving away samples from major brands to its customers. The company is piloting a program in Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., in which people who get UPS' Direct-to-Door home delivery also get offers and samples from a roster of brands. It is expected to go nationwide in 2010. ... Read the whole story > >
Packaged Goods
by Karl Greenberg
The TV spot, via BBDO New York, starts this week on network and cable television programming. It touts the razor as a solution to sensitive skin by making Ryan's mug the poster-face for skin abuse. The ad has Ryan getting pummeled on the gridiron under a harsh sun, in a downpour, in the snow and in wind while it extols the virtues of the shaver's multiple-blade surface. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
To celebrate, consumers go to www.mobilegoodbye .com, and select the carrier they want to ditch. People looking to lose Verizon get a spoof of Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings," those hoping to leave T-Mobile get a funny version of Madonna's "Like a Virgin," and the "Dear AT&T" letter is set to Stephen Foster's "Oh! Susannah." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
The Sonia Rykiel 2009 holiday line is scheduled to arrive in 1,500 H&M stores by Dec. 5. At the same time, the lingerie collection will also be launched in Sonia Rykiel's boutiques around the world, a tandem offering that is another first for the Swedish cheap-chic chain. The deal includes a line of bright knits for 2010, for both women and girls. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
The promotion's premise is based on a survey of 1,520 moms (84% with kids under 14) conducted for Smucker through, a network of mom influencers, bloggers and grassroots community organizers. The survey found that 68% of moms feel stress or pressure "when trying to prepare wholesome snacks for their children." ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
"We had been talking about the purpose of service, with a symbolic line of Marines standing from sea to shining sea," Marshall Lauck, management director of JWT Atlanta, tells Marketing Daily. "That showed [recruits] what they would do as Marines. Now we need to show them what it takes to be a part of that." ... Read the whole story > >
by Erik Sass
MTV is launching a new short-form supernatural mystery series, called "Valemont," which will combine TV, online and mobile story-telling. The collaboration with Electric Farm Entertainment, set to premiere today, features prominent brand integrations for Verizon Wireless, further highlighted by Verizon's role in the mobile distribution of the content. ... Read the whole story > >

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