Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why Social Matters

For the last few years, I've been the "Internet Guy" among my circle of friends.

Those circles include: Advertising Federation Board of Directors, Boy Scout Marketing Committee, B.N.I.; Gus Macker Basketball, and the group of radio stations I work with.

Of course a HUGE part of my own business, ScLoHo Marketing Solutions is due to my internet and more specifically, Social Media usage.

Some think that it's just for 20 and 30 year olds, but I'm a living, breathing exception to that stereotype.

The past couple of years have exploded in opportunities and relationships due to my social media work. And it's not just a fad:

The Social Habit -- Frequent Social Networkers

Social Networking has exploded in popularity over the past two years, with the percentage of Americans maintaining a profile page on one or more social sites doubling from 24% in 2008 to 48% in 2010. Even more remarkably, as social networking has entered the mainstream, it has also quickly become not just an occasional diversion but a habitual part of American life.

In 2009, 18% of social networkers in America checked their sites and services several times a day. Just one year later, this figure stands at 30%, even as the total number of social networkers has grown. With both numbers growing dramatically, the actual number of Americans with "the social habit," who check their social media sites multiple times per day, has more than doubled, from approximately 18 million to 39 million.

A new report, based upon the 18th Edison Research/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia Research Series, examines these habitual social networkers, providing information on demographics, status updating behaviors, mobile access and how social media has affected their consumption of other media.

The data is based upon a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,753 Americans (including 371 mobile phone interviews) ages 12+ conducted in February, 2010.

Principal Findings

1. With both usage of social networks and the frequency of that usage increasing dramatically, we are truly witnessing a sea change in how mainstream consumers communicate.

2. Americans who check social networking sites several times per day are much more likely to be young, and female.

3. Mobile access to social media is almost certainly a significant contributor to frequency of usage.

4. Frequent social networkers are also more likely to update their status on those networks -- i.e., create content online -- which has implications for word-of-mouth marketing and search.

5. Not only are frequent social networkers posting more status updates, they are also more likely to follow brands/companies than the average social media user -- which makes identifying and appealing to those with the "social habit" crucial for brands.

6. The data for frequent social networkers' usage of podcasts, online video and online audio supports the assumption that a significant amount of content is being consumed on-demand, potentially at the point where such content is shared.

7. Americans with "the social habit" are watching significantly less traditional television, but potentially consuming (and sharing) more "video" through alternative means.

8. Pandora is already the dominant online audio brand with frequent social networkers. These consumers' propensity for posting status updates and other content, combined with Pandora's recent moves to integrate with Facebook, will likely position Pandora as the dominant music discovery brand online.

(Source: Edison Research, 06/17/10. Complete report available free with registration. Click here.)

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Optimizing for Mobile

Last month I bought my first smart phone. A Droid, since my cellphone provider is Verizon.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine was telling me about optimizing websites for mobile viewing, and now I get it. Even though my phone will not replace my laptop the way my laptop replaced my desktop computer, I see the benefit of "apps" for smart phones.

Check this out: Talking Isn't All That Matters to Cellphone Users Survey Also Finds Price/Value Most Important Factor in Choosing Service Plans

Cellphones are necessary tools by which many Americans get information these days, with an increasing number of people looking for phones which offer access to email, the internet, picture-taking and even calendars. New research, conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation's Mobile Retail Initiative shows an increasing number of people want to be "tuned in" more than ever before.

According to the most recent survey of 9,578 adults used in this analysis, nearly nine out of 10 adults (87.5%) say they have a cellphone, an increase of 17.9 percent from January 2006 (74.2%).

With e-commerce now expanding to m-commerce, many people want the luxury of being able to shop or browse company's websites from their phone. The survey found 41.5 percent of adults want a cellphone with Internet access, compared to just under one-third (32.6%) who said so in July 2008. More than half (51.4%) of adults 18-34 years old say they want to be able to surf the web on their phone, compared to the 41.0% who said so in July 2008.

"Americans expect more from their phones than the ability to talk to family and friends," said NRF President and CEO Matt Shay. "Aside from sending pictures and sharing stories and experiences over social networking sites, consumers want to be able to connect with their favorite retailers in a way they never have been able to before -- instantaneously. The emergence of m-commerce has created a paradigm shift that has the retail industry very excited."

When it comes to other cellphone features or attributes, adults say email access has also increased in importance over the years. Over half (51.1%) of 18-34 year-olds say they want a cellphone with email access, up from 28.1 percent in January 2006. But young adults aren't the only ones who favor email access: according to the survey, 42.6% of all adults want email on their phone, up significantly from 22.5 percent four years ago.

Survey respondents also said that phones with cameras (59.0%), calendars (42.7%) and text messaging (55.6%) are important attributes. When it comes to why consumers switch cellphone service providers, four out of 10 (41.3%) adults say pricing/value is their top reason, with other important factors including coverage (31.6%) and plan options (22.1%). These factors remained consistent in every age group except cellphone users 55 and older, who listed their priorities as: pricing/value (41.3%), coverage (28.9%) and customer service (17.9%).

"The combination of new technologies coupled with consumers' desire to adopt these new apps are redefining the cellphone into a 'consumer communicator'," said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President of Strategy, BIGresearch. "Marketers and retailers should leverage shoppers' needs to stay connected by providing information and communications to assist them with their purchase decisions."

(Source: National Retail Federation, 06/17/10)

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Are you Bob?

From the newsletter this week:

By Charles H. Green, Contributing Editor

Short-termism is a leading cause of bad sales health. It's made worse because it's insidious: you don't always know, or notice, when you're suffering from it. This article identifies some symptoms of short-termism, and tells you what you can do
about it.

Bob's Story

Suppose you're Bob. Imagine hearing in the course of a week:

"Bob, how's the ABC follow-on job coming? It's been on the lead list for six weeks now. How come no movement?"

"Bob, are we going to see some numbers from ABC this quarter? Hate to see it push into the next."

"Hey Bob, you gotta ask for the sale, you know?"

"Hey Bob, I'm thinking now that I sold that big XYZ job, I just might get promoted this cycle, instead of Q1 next year.

"Hey Bob, how come ABC hasn't got back to you yet from that meeting? Do you think they're pushing back on price, like I said?"

"Hey Bob there's an RFP from QED Co. I know it's a long shot, but your ABC job isn't looking too good, maybe you should bid it."

Since you're not really Bob, you can easily avoid temptation. But if you've ever been where Bob is sitting … well, let's imagine what he's thinking:

I knew I should have low-balled the early numbers…

I bet the competition is in there stealing it from me…

My career depends a lot on getting this sale…

If I could just move them along a little faster…

What was I thinking? I should have just moved along…

We all know what comes next. Bob succumbs in one of a number of ways. He calls to subtly guilt-trip the client. He fishes for "objections" he can then "handle." He suggests that perhaps the price is negotiable. He hints that the competition is not entirely ethical. He may even do some version of begging and whining.

The effects are predictable, too. Those actions actually reduce the odds of Bob getting the sale: they cause the client to feel pressured, annoyed, turned into a means to Bob's own ends, and generally disrespected.

Bob shoots himself in the foot; short-term selling claims another victim.

The hardest thing about changing short-term selling behavior is not identifying the causes, or even solving the problem. Instead, I would argue, it is in noticing the drivers and the symptoms. Because the drivers and symptoms show up not in our clients, but in ourselves.

Causes and Effects

Before examining symptoms, let's focus on the underlying cause of short-term selling and how it plays out in client relationships. Then we can identify the early warning symptoms.

Short-term selling comes from a mismatch between the pace of a client's decision-making, and our desired pace of the client's decision-making. Typically, of course, we want the pace to be faster than that which the client appears to desire.

Our unfortunate response is to attack the client's pace as too slow. The client's equally unfortunate (but entirely predictable) response is to dig in their heels and push back. Paradox. Stalemate. Short-termism kills another deal.

The root cause, ultimately, is our insistence on time as a relevant dimension. It is not a relevant dimension, except to us. Time is money? Only to the seller.

To the buyer, haste makes waste. A bad decision made quickly is made no better, and a decision made too quickly is more likely to be bad. To the buyer, the relevant criterion is the rightness of the decision—not its speed.

When a seller feels time pressure from a buyer, it is fundamentally unsettling. It screams, "I'm not in this to get it right, for you—I'm in this to get it done, for me."

Drivers and Symptoms

A firm that is truly client-focused, collaborative, and long-term oriented isn't so troubled by a client's pace of decision-making. Such a firm is focused on helping the client to make the right decision. And here a huge paradox comes into play.

Clients who feel their suppliers are focused on solutions, rather than timing, are not only more likely to buy from those suppliers, but they are also more likely to buy quickly from those same suppliers. Measuring and managing the wrong thing—timing—actually results in damaging the very metrics being measured.

This means that firms obsessed with reducing sales process time are actually contributing to an increase in sales process time. Firms who loosen up and focus not on time but on good client results will contribute to a decrease in sales process time.

The truth is, this only looks paradoxical to a sales process engineer. To any observer of human behavior, it makes perfect sense. Human beings respond positively to people who help them, and they respond negatively to those who make them feel manipulated or used. No surprise there!

Drivers. Now, we can catalog a few system-wide drivers that lead to short-termism. To list just a few suspects: sales quotas, sales contests, exhortation to cut time for time's sake, metrics that emphasize time over quality, promotion criteria that focus on sales numbers at the expense of relationship quality, bonus systems based mechanically on sales numbers at the expense of relationship quality, and the daily drumbeat of "what have you done for me today" that accompanies time-based sales pressure.

Note: there is nothing wrong per se with any of the above. Like anything else, the issue is one of balance vs. excess. The most common victim of short-term driven sales is relationship quality. No firm needs to ignore timing—the problem is being obsessed with it to the exclusion of client focus and relationship quality.

Symptoms. Firms don't sell, people do. Firm processes may drive behavior, but the behavior shows up at the individual level. Let's go back to Bob and identify what happens when Bob succumbs to short-termism. It boils down to this—Bob becomes fear-based. He suffers from:

  • Fear of not getting the sale, which translates into fear of peer pressure, lower commission/bonus, fear of disapproval, fear of job insecurity, and a host of other very personal factors
  • Fear of losing advantage
  • Fear of momentum reversing
  • Fear of a competitor winning
  • Fear of losing to the "no-decision" competitor
  • Fear of fear itself, wanting to just close a deal rather than live in limbo

Every single one of these fears, of course, is about Bob. Not one single fear, of course, is about his client. Which suggests an obvious solution for Bob: he should focus on his client's needs, not on his own.


It's tempting for Bob to succumb to the firm's systemic short-term bias and turn to whining, begging, and guilt-tripping to get his way. Even if Bob is able to see the dysfunction in this behavior, it's tempting for him to blame the firm, and to identify all the incentives lined up in favor of short-termism, for driving Bob to do the wrong thing.

But our Bob, fortunately, is not a rat in a maze, driven only by mirrors, flashing lights, and cheese. Our Bob also has some influence in the matter. And so he chooses to take a few actions on his own, unilaterally.

  1. Remember the paradox: if you act in your client's interests, your client will be more disposed to work in yours. Let nature take its course; don't put your thumb on the scale of human relationships.
  2. If your client isn't making a decision, there is some reason why. You just don't know what it is. Rather than speculate, go find out. Talk to your client about their perspective.
  3. What's your objective? If, in the instant you read those three words, you thought, "Why, to sell the deal, of course!" then go back and rethink it. Your objective should be to help your client. Period.
  4. Your client is not obsessed about you. You are obsessed about you. Get over it.
  5. You may or may not get this sale. All you can do is improve the odds that you'll get x percent of y sales over time with this client, and you do that by solving the client's issues, for them and with them. The numbers will take care of themselves.
  6. The long run is far more profitable. Working with the client fosters innovation, creativity, goodwill, engagement, deeper discussions, and more influence. Why would you destroy all that by wheedling for a deal on your terms?
  7. Yes, timing is important. Just not all the time. Time takes time. The time to check timing is at strategic review, not in daily temperature-takings.
  8. This is your career. Will your career be built on relationships and collaboration? Or will it be built on short-term opportunism? Your career is at stake in your response right now.
  9. Your client would like to make a decision, too; they just want it to be the right decision. Put away the stopwatch, and settle in to help make the best decision—whether you win or not.
  10. If you worry about what your boss will say, give them this article and sincerely ask for their help in applying it to the present situation. They may even thank you for it. In any case, the discussion will tell you what they think and probably therefore what you think about that. Both would be good to know.

Don't be a short-term seller. Short-term sellers sub-optimize their careers away one nibble at a time. Be in it for your client for the long run.

Charles H. Green is a Contributing Editor of RainToday, and a speaker and executive educator on trust-based relationships and trust-based selling in complex businesses. He authored Trust-Based Selling and co-authored The Trusted Advisor. He also leads Trusted Advisor Associates. You can reach Charles at

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Aaron Baar
CMO Chris Craig says the overarching goal is to position the brand as a trusted (and entertaining) source of information, particularly for new parents. "Evenflo makes a wide variety of products that help make parenting easier. The idea is to extend that equity into discussions online," he says. "Our belief is if we can combine the education with the entertainment, we can increase the engagement." ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
One bright spot was teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, which says same-store sales gained 9%, with sales at its Hollister unit climbing 7%. (That's especially good news, considering the trouble the chain has had in recent weeks, eliminating a bedbug infestation in two New York stores, which required temporarily closing a SoHo Hollister and an Abercrombie & Fitch at the South Street Seaport.) ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
The "Uncensored" effort, running through the summer, is unscripted commentary from people who saw the vehicles at mall tours and will test drive them for a month. They also will participate in a ride-and-drive tour later. The campaign starts this month and runs through summer. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Results of this first of regular, quarterly analytics benchmark reports from Unicast show beverage/spirits ads generating an average interaction rate of 8.62%. Other vertical ad categories with high interaction rates included retail (8.24%), TV entertainment (5.06%), advertising/marketing (3.9%), DVD/video entertainment (3.87%), and film entertainment (3.08%). ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
"The house party fits nicely into Verizon's FiOS marketing plan because its giving potential customers the opportunity to experience FiOS TV and the chance for existing customers to refer Verizon's services to these potential customers," Patricia Foster, director of marketing for Verizon, tells Marketing Daily. "Typically, people need to see things for themselves to believe in it." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
A Chrysler spokesperson says the efforts will be backed with national advertising starting July 12 from each of the four brands. "Each will have its own advertising," he says. Dodge is calling its 60-day program "60-Day Test Drive"; Chrysler's is the "Regret-Free Purchase Pledge"; Dodge Ram is running a "60-Day Handshake." Jeep hasn't come up with a moniker yet. ...Read the whole story >>

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Rearranging the Furniture

Or the menu, or the way you stock your shelves or...

I'm sure you can come up with an idea or two for your business.

This is from MarketingProfs:

Wake up Your Customers with New Subcategories

At first look, the task of arranging a category of products for your customers to choose from may seem to be relatively simple, say the authors of a new research report. "However, in reality, this task is quite complex," they note, "offering a virtually infinite number of assortment format choices."

Case in point: Today's online consumers are increasingly sophisticated—and demanding—regarding their search options at favorite sites. (Think of the array of cool category clicks at Amazon, Zappos, Netflix—the list goes on and on.)

So, what's a product-category manager to do to keep up with savvy-consumer search demands? Focus on your "subcategory formats," these researchers advise, and build in a surprise factor.

Example: In one restaurant-based experiment, these researchers showed sophisticated diners two menus. The "type-based" menu was organized by grouping the restaurant's different kinds of foods together—sandwiches, soups, etc. The "theme-based" menu was more of a surprise: It grouped foods by nationality—Italian, Mexican, etc.

The result? The more sophisticated diners favored the unexpected theme-based menu, stating they expected it would give them a better understanding of the dishes being prepared.

The message for product managers? Surprising subcategory groupings of favorite products can pique the interest of your more savvy (read: bored) shoppers. "Unexpected subcategory formats can be used as a 'newness cue' ... among higher prior-knowledge consumers who might otherwise be somewhat complacent in their processing," the researchers state. "Happily, these consumers are more satisfied and expect to learn more" when presented with a surprise.

The Po!nt: Stir things up. Consider fun new category groupings for familiar products. (Hertz lists cars in subcategories like "fun" or "green," in addition to "sedan" or "truck," these authors note.) A little surprise might recharge a sophisticated customer's interest.

Source: How Assortment Formats Influence Consumer Learning and Satisfaction. Cait Poynor, Stacy Wood. Journal of Consumer Research, 2010.

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How You Say It Matters

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: The Wrong Words

When salespeople start a sentence with the words "No," "But," or "However," no matter how friendly the tone, the message is, "You're wrong."

It's a good idea to avoid using these words when talking with a prospect or customer.

Source: From What Got You Here Won't Get You There, by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thursday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click and read:

by Sarah Mahoney
When it comes to wooing Muslim Americans, U.S. marketers are pretty oblivious, leaving potential customers to scramble for product information on their own. Are Halal meals at Kentucky Fried Chicken Halal enough? How about Oreos? What's new at Forever 21 that is hot and modest? Is that mutual fund compliant with Shariah investment principles? ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Veteran industry analyst Joseph Pawlak points out that unemployment rates are still near double digits, with no short-term turnaround expected. In fact, given how critical employment rates are to the health of the industry, June's lackluster figures make the current reading for the industry somewhat less optimistic than earlier this year. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
One ad shows teenage girls working together to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, while another depicts astronauts working on the International Space Station, with the notation that 22 of the nation's career astronauts have been Girl Scouts. A final ad features tennis star Venus Williams, touting not only her athletic prowess, but business sense and advocacy for equal pay. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
"The Fiat dealer network will be appropriately sized to serve the market opportunity," said Peter Grady, VP of dealer network development and fleet at Chrysler. "Our vision is to establish a dealer network that will reflect and enhance the brand's reputation for innovation and fun, and will offer a unique, personalized customer experience." ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
It will be supported by national advertising, direct mail, digital marketing and public relations. National and Hispanic TV brand spots will begin airing in July and run through the end of August. Inclusion of the contest in Kohl's print advertising will start in mid-July and run throughout the voting period. ...Read the whole story >>

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Not Comcastic Anymore?

I really don't understand why a company would rename themselves due to some unhappy customers instead of fixing the problems that caused the unhappiness.

Toyota didn't change their name when they were faced with recalls and lawsuits this year.

But Comcast is trying something different and Al Ries has his opinion. (From

Comcast is in the process of rebranding some of its offerings to "Xfinity," although the company name will remain Comcast.

Consumers in 11 markets will have a choice of Xfinity TV, Xfinity Voice and Xfinity Internet. Presumably, Comcast will soon be rolling out these high-speed, high-definition services to other prospects in the 39 states the company serves.

Is this a good move?
Lawyers will tell you the best trademarks are "coined" names such as Kodak and Xerox. So we are seeing a raft of coined brand names you can't find in any dictionary, including Xfinity.

But wait a minute. There's a well-known automobile brand called "Infiniti." Isn't Comcast worried about the confusion between the two? If not, did Comcast consider using Xonda or Xundai or Xoyota?

But there is a bigger issue here. Comcast is a large company with revenues last year of $35.8 billion. In addition to its cable, telephone and internet services, Comcast has cable programming interests (G4, Versus and The Golf Channel) and also owns entertainment channel E!

Not to mention the company's 51% interest in NBC Universal, a joint venture with General Electric.

It makes sense for Comcast to be a pure "company" name like Procter & Gamble and have its services, programming and cable channels defined with their own brand names.

Internal vs. external
But what makes sense from an internal point of view often doesn't make sense from an external point of view.

Comcast is in competition with five giant corporations, each of which is spending a small fortune trying to reach the same consumers Comcast is targeting. Here is 2009 advertising spending for Comcast and its five competitors.

  • Verizon: $2.2 billion
  • AT&T: $1.9 billion
  • Sprint: $1.1 billion
  • Comcast: $439 million
  • DirecTV: $401 million
  • Dish Network: $385 million
Money is not everything, of course. The message is important, too. But what message is Xfinity trying to communicate?


As a typical TV commercial points out, Xfinity offers "more choice, more control, more speed, more HD than ever before." Other commercials boast about Xfinity's "fastest internet speeds" and "triple the HD channels."

But what are consumers supposed to think when they are bombarded by the big three big networks?

  • AT&T: "Fastest 3G network."
  • Verizon: "Five times more 3G coverage."
  • Sprint: "4G network."
One axiom of marketing is that confusion always benefits the leader. If the consumer can't make sense out of conflicting claims, he or she is more likely to go with one of the leaders.

That's certainly what's been happening in cellphones. In the first quarter of the year, Verizon had 92 million subscribers. AT&T had 86 million. And Sprint had just 47 million.

Old African proverb: When elephants fight, it's the ants that take the beating. Sprint is getting killed.

In the past three years, both AT&T (10.2% net profit margin) and Verizon (7.4%) have been highly profitable. But Sprint Nextel Corporation, with revenues of $108 billion, managed to lose $34.8 billion.

Brand vs. category
What's Comcast doing playing in this game? That's a classic marketing mistake. Comcast is trying to fight a branding war with its heavily-hyped Xfinity brand when it should have been fighting a category war.

With about 24 million subscribers, Comcast is the leading basic cable TV provider, well ahead of No. 2 Time Warner, which has about 14 million subscribers.

Instead of introducing a marvelous new TV, internet and phone service called Xfinity, Comcast, in my opinion, should have been telling its prospects why should buy digital services from a cable company.

Why is cable better than satellite or cellphone towers? I have no idea, but I suspect that cable might be more reliable than the alternatives.

Look at the success of DirecTV and Dish Network. Even though both companies are much smaller than Sprint, they are both profitable with net profit margins in the last three years of 6.8% for DirecTV and 6.7% for Dish Network.

My feeling is that both of these companies are successful because their satellite services have captured the public's imagination, not because they offer "more" -- more choice, more control, more speed, etc.

As a DirecTV subscriber, I'd be hard pressed to name any specific reason for selecting the service, except that DirecTV is the leader in satellite.

Leadership is the most important attribute a brand can own. It's usually better to be the leader in a small pond rather than an also-ran in a big pond.

The top two brands in every category usually suck out all the profits, leaving nothing but crumbs for the also-rans.

But then, who thinks category anyway? Today, it's nothing but brands, brands, brands.

Many well-known brands are not associated with any specific category. Many companies have taken brands that used to stand for something and turned them into master brands that don't stand for anything.

What category is a Chevrolet?

What category is a Sony?

What category is an Olay?

A quirk in the laws
What confuses many marketers is a quirk in the laws of marketing. What leaders can do doesn't necessarily apply to No. 2 or No. 3 brands.

We have warned repeatedly, for example, about the dangers of line extension. Yet the truth is, the law applies more to laggards than leaders.

McDonald's has been line-extending its menu for decades, but still remains a fast-food leader. Burger King, on the other hand, has been following in McDonald's footsteps, from chicken to breakfast to gourmet coffee, with little to show for its line-extension efforts.

On an average sales-per-unit basis, Burger King lags behind the other hamburger chains.

  • McDonald's: $2,158,900
  • Whataburger: $1,653,100
  • Jack in the Box: $1,421,100
  • Steak n Shake: $1,416,100
  • White Castle: $1,383,400
  • Carl's Jr: $1,356,100
  • Wendy's: $1,352,800
  • Burger King: $1,288,600
When we worked for Burger King, the CEO at the time told me we would be heroes if we fixed two things: breakfast and chicken.

"But your signs say Burger King," I replied. "Why don't you focus on hamburgers? Specifically, flame-broiled hamburgers."

Back then, many Burger King managers thought the hamburger was passé. The future belonged to chicken, fish, and even veal parmigiana.

Here it is, decades later, and the fast-food outlets that seem to be capturing the public's attention are the "better burger" places, like Five Guys, Smashburger, Elevation Burger, Mooyah Burgers & Fries, M Burger, Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries, Meatheads Burgers & Fries and Bobby's Burger Place.

Nation's Restaurant News calls the better burger "the fastest-growing food-service category at a time when most other types of concepts have put hopes of growth on hold." According to Technomic, sales last year at the better-burger chains were up 18%.

Where was Burger King when all the better-burger action was taking place? They apparently were busy introducing their latest line extension, the fire-grilled ribs eight-piece combo meal for $8.99.

Focus vs. line extensions
Focus is what makes a brand successful, not line extensions.

Look at the success of Chick-fil-A, a brand focused not just on chicken, but on "chicken sandwiches."

Even though the chain is closed on Sunday (for religious reasons), the average Chick-fil-A unit does $2 million a year in revenues, some 67% more than the average Burger King.

On June 7 of this year, Chick-fil-A introduced a spicy-chicken sandwich, its first new sandwich since 1989. That was 21 years ago.

In many ways, marketing is a category issue and a simple test will tell you if your brand is headed in the right direction.

  • What category is Chick-fil-A? Chicken sandwiches.
  • What category is Five Guys? Better burgers.
  • What category is DirecTV? Satellite networks.
  • What category is Xfinity? Who knows?
Leaders like McDonald's can violate the laws of marketing and seemingly get away with it. But not the also-rans.
Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm he runs with his daughter and partner Laura.

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New Ad Campaigns

Amy at Mediapost writes this nearly every week:

Hybrid sports. I'm on a motorcycle. Subway cars wrapped with ads. Let's launch!

When you're Lance Armstrong, you've been stuck behind countless tailpipes, which can't smell pretty. Those days are distant memories, with the creation of Nissan Leaf, a 100% electric, no tailpipe and zero-emission car. The spot shows a bevy of tailpipes attached to sports cars and trucks, old and new, while Armstrong's voiceover explains his lifelong career dilemma: "In twenty years of cycling, even when I was ahead, I was behind." The spot ends with Armstrong tailing a Leaf and smelling the beautiful scenery surrounding him. Watch the ad here, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles.

Microsoft has launched a series of telenovela-esque ads for its search engine, Bing, portraying it as a "Decision Engine." "Los Links Son Malos" follows the life of Juan Carlos, a wealthy man who can't make a timely search decision. In "Uno," Filomena, the wife of Juan Carlos, grows bored staying home and yearns for her husband to take her out. Sadly, he's lost in search engine links and unable to decide. Jose takes charge, busting into the house on a horse, holding his laptop that uses Bing as a default search engine. He suggests seeing "Date Night," and the pair ride off to the closest theatre. Watch it here. Juan Carlos has taken up with the maid in "Dos." Isabella wants to travel and, once again, Juan Carlos can't decide. Filomena and Jose return on horse, use Bing's Price Predictor for travel advice, and whisk Isabella away. See it here. JWT New York created the campaign.

Old Spice man, Isaiah Mustafa, is back and he has "Questions." The ad is amusing, but not as funny as the first one. Promoting Old Spice body wash, Mustafa asks women if they like the smell of adventure, and want their man to smell like a man capable of baking them a cake in a kitchen he built himself? It wouldn't be an Old Spice ad if Mustafa didn't log-roll, walk on water and dive into a hot tub, which collapses to reveal Mustafa sitting on a motorcycle. I wanted him to say, in his deadpan voice, that he was on a motorcycle. Did you? Watch the ad here, created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland.

Mark your calendars: Target is opening a store in Harlem and the company's advertising is anything but subtle. Aside from print and outdoor ads, the company is overtaking the front pages of the New York Daily News and New York Post, and wrapping double-decker tour buses and subways. The number 6 train will be branded inside with Target ads and outside with a red and white wrap. Outside subway wraps rarely occur, so I can only imagine how much money the MTA will receive. Enough to close in on its deficit? See the bus and subway wraps here, here, here and here, paying close attention to a certain subway rider who loves riding the Target trains! Mother New York created the campaign.

AT&T is on a roll with its "Rethink Possible" TV ads. The latest, "Whole New World" is animated, colorful and reminds me of a Pixar movie. The ad takes place at the bottom of the ocean. A golden orb falls into the sand, becoming the must-have object for every fish, big and small. The orb bounces between fish, until it lands in the fins of a cute pink fish. A large fish lurks behind him, causing him to drop the orb and swim for safety. Disappointed, he reaches the top of the ocean, surrounded by light. He pokes his head out and finds a limitless supply of gold orbs in trees. The moral of this story: explore. You never know what you'll find. This spot will air in 3D in movie theaters this month. See it here, created by BBDO New York.

Sprint pays homage to Rube Goldberg in "Firsts," a TV ad promoting HTC EVO, the first 4G mobile phone. A domino effect of technological and cultural "firsts" takes place in a barren desert. A stone wheel begins the chain reaction, knocking down an oversized tricycle and locomotive. "First is the beginning. First leads," says the voiceover. Watch for a gramophone, microscope, typewriter and film camera to fell a Ford Model T, which rolls into a wall of old televisions. One TV rolls into an airplane, rocket and missile. What's with the rabbit watching the chain reaction? The domino effect culminates with falling calculators, cassettes, VHS tapes, computers and mobile phones until the lone standing object is a Sprint HTC EVO. See it here. Goodby Silverstein & Partners created the ad, directed by David Rosenbaum, and Dael Oates of Mothership. Mindshare handled the media buy.

What if golf exuded the intensity, on- and off-field, of a football game? It might resemble this TV spot starring Tiger Woods and a few fellow PGA golfers for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, by EA Sports. Golfers rush the field in football player-like fashion, complete with mascots and bands! Team America (Woods and Rickie Fowler) tackle Team Europe (Ian Poulter and Edoardo Molinari) in an intense golf match. Woods and Fowler participate in a huddle, where they receive advice from coach Mike Ditka. Tiger sinks his putt, winning the game. The crowd goes wild. See it here. An online video combines curling brooms with Tiger sinking a putt. It's hysterical. A curling bull's-eye is placed around the hole. Tiger makes his shot and sweepers help guide the ball to the hole. Watch it here. Heat San Francisco created the campaign and Wieden+Kennedy Portland handled the media buy.

Charleston, S.C. is a nearby vacation for many. You could say it's over the fence in a TV spot for the Charleston Area Convention and Visitor Bureau. A father and son are playing football in their backyard. The son's throw goes over their fence, causing the dad to leap over and retrieve it. What he finds are cobblestone roads, horse and buggy city tours and a man offering to show him the harbor. Dad opts to get back to his son, but the offer to return to Charleston still stands. Watch the ad here, created by Hook.

Random iPad App of the week: Gap created 1969 Stream for the iPad, an app featuring exclusive content from Gap designers and musicians while enabling users to buy clothes and accessories via the app. Consumers can also share content through the app, like a music video from Truth & Salvage Co. called "Them Jeans," or a video featuring Jay Sario of "Project Runway" outfitting people in Gap denim. Users can also locate the nearest Gap store using the geo-locater. The free app, created by AKQA, is currently available in the U.S. and available in the App Store.

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

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Becoming a Resource

I've got both of Jill's books and they are Excellent!

Here's her latest email:

How One Failing Salesperson Became iNvaluable - Fast!

By Jill Konrath

Have you ever felt that what you're selling is just like what your competitors offer? Well, if you think that, imagine how your prospects feel. They get multiple calls every day from sellers who are all saying the same thing.

Crazy busy buyers don't want to waste one iota of their precious time with these sales clones. Instead, they want to work with people who:

  • Have a deep understanding of their business challenges.
  • Continually bring them suggestions and insights.
  • Provoke their thinking.

In today's business environment, YOU are the primary differentiator - not your products or services. When you focus on developing and leveraging your own expertise, you'll start seeing immediate results.

Just ask Bill. When he moved into sales at a printing firm where he'd worked for years, he thought the transition would be easy. But after leaving over 2,500 voice mail messages, he was getting nowhere.

His prospects rarely answered the phone. And, when he left messages, they never called him back. Bill was getting desperate - until the day he decided to embrace the approaches detailed in SNAP Selling.

What did he do first? He decided to quit selling "printing." It just wasn't working anymore.

Decision makers were simply not interested in talking to another printer who offered one-stop shopping for all their needs combined with great customer service. Their current provider was fine and their pricing acceptable.

Bill's next step was to narrow his focus. But in what area? After reviewing a variety of projects that his company had done over the years, he decided to become a menu expert.

This is an incredibly hard decision for sellers to make - especially when business is bad. But it is necessary in order to increase your effectiveness.

With this new identity, Bill immersed himself in the restaurant industry. He learned the lingo, studied the history, analyzed how big restaurant chains worked, examined their challenges, and read everything he could on the topic of menus.

Then he targeted the companies he wanted to land as clients. As he studied their menus, he discovered ways that he could help the restaurants improve them, possibly in ways they'd not yet perceived.

He followed the trade press to identify potential opportunities for new menu sales. He looked for chains that were lowering their prices, expansions into new markets, announcements of new menu offerings, and more. When he noticed these trigger events, he'd get in touch.

Finally, he unleashed a carefully crafted campaign directly on the chief marketing officers (CMOs) of these big firms. All his communications included:

  • Strong value propositions with statistics;
  • Up-to-date commentary about the restaurant's current direction; and
  • Fresh new ideas about how he could help.

Things started changing almost immediately. Bill was soon engaged in interesting conversations with the marketing people. They talked about how to energize offers and drive revenue growth with newly designed menus. The "how much" question was barely a consideration.

Meanwhile, his competitors were fighting pricing battles with the supply chain people. Because they were viewed as a commodity, they were discounting like crazy.

The results? In just two years, Bill's company has printed over two million menus for the country's best-known restaurants. He's in active discussions with his top one hundred targeted restaurants. He's blowing out his sales numbers and having more fun than ever before.

And he's expanding his expertise into his next target market right now - but I'm sworn to secrecy and can't reveal it.

That's why one of the four SNAP Rules is to Be iNvaluable. In today's marketplace, it's imperative for sales success.

Even if your company offers a wide product line or a variety of services, you can still chose to become a specialist - just as Bill did. While it requires an upfront time investment, the payback can be huge.


Ready to learn more about what it takes to capture & keep the attention of today's crazy-busy prospects? Want to learn more about the new rules of selling to crazy-busy buyers? To get four FREE sales-accelerating tools and download two chapters of SNAP Selling, visit or email

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click and read (and stay cool this week)!


by Sarah Mahoney
While some analysts are calling for Tesco to cut its losses now and exit the U.S., Jim Prevor says there continues to be plenty of speculation that the retail giant will find a bigger way to both cloak the extent of its missteps with Fresh & Easy and still expand in the U.S. -- either through acquisition, joint ventures, or even franchising. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
Isabella founder and CEO Matthew Growney says the Vizit is just the first of several so-called Mobile Internet Devices that are meant to fill the gap between home computers and cell phones. In an interview, Growney talked about the company's first product, how it plans to avoid being pigeonholed around it and the entire MID sector. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Meanwhile, text messaging is enabling MilkPEP to offer female teens access to an exclusive video of Conrad (by snapping a photo of the ad with their smartphones and texting to get immediate video access in return). Again, the video drives home the milk-is-cool message, with the actress/fashion designer explaining why milk is a favorite beverage. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Lexus' Andrea Lim says the stylized focus of the efforts, with a "dark" theme, is meant to get people interested in the program who might otherwise be turned off by an overtly environmentalist, perhaps patronizing, tone. "To make it edgier, we had to make it polarizing, not what one normally associate hybrids with," she says. "No nice blue skies and butterflies." ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
Shell is inviting automotive devotees to share in a contest and sweepstakes how Shell V-Power fuels their passion for driving. Geared toward the type of person who "reads the owner's manual for fun," the second annual contest from the Houston-based company asks enthusiasts to submit a photo and a few sentences about how Shell V-Power fuels their motor-loving passion. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
The change in marketing strategy also shifted the focus to consumer research. "We felt business would grow if we could answer what [consumers] were looking for," says Scott Stoughton, who adds that Pep Boys did quantitative and qualitative research last year in many markets, "Even down to the tagline." ...Read the whole story >>

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The Power of the Ritz

Is not in the name, it is in the people.

From WonderBranding:

Why Ritz-Carlton Is A Cult Brand And You’re Not

Posted: 01 Jul 2010 07:09 AM PDT

The latest print edition of AdAge features a short but excellent article on the legendary success of the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain.

The article doesn’t say a word about advertising. It does, however, address how Ritz-Carlton maintains a freakishly high level of word-of-mouth reputation.

It’s not complicated, and it’s not a secret.

Anyone could do it.

But most don’t.

There are three basic elements to the Ritz-Carlton philosophy:

1) Every employee lives and breathes VALUES and SERVICE. Walk up to a Ritz-Carlton employee and ask about the 12 Service Values, and they’ll likely whip out a small pocket accordion file that features each value, three points of service, and the company’s credo.

Value Number One is: “I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.” Whoa. Even if the other eleven Values are blank, that one alone should blow your hair back.

2) Every employee has AUTHORITY and RESPONSBILITY. Every employee of Ritz-Carlton has automatic authority to spend up to $2,000 to help a guest resolve an issue. That’s right – $2,000 per guest, without having to obtain permission. There’s a built-in level of trust, but with that comes a great deal of responsibility. Once an employee gets a complaint, they own that complaint. No passing it off to someone else – they can get help, but they have to see the resolution of the problem through to the end.

You may not be able to afford $2,000 per customer, but what if you gave your employees authority of even $25 per customer to resolve problems? And what if you made your employees see the resolution of a problem through to the end? Imagine what kind of trust and pride that would build.

3) Values, Service, and Pride are re-visited each and every day. This is the kicker, and the one reason why Ritz-Carlton is a cult brand and you’re not. They didn’t just make up the values and customer policies then let it ride. The staffs of each hotel meet at 8 a.m. every single morning to review their mission, discuss issues, and often times hail an employee for a specific success. Pride and teamwork are reinforced each and every day in order to maintain consistency and to grow the brand.

Are you committed enough to customer experience to meet with your staff every day for a review of the company’s values, highlight customer resolutions, ask for help resolving problems, and feature success stories? Do you have the fortitude that it takes to do it every single morning? Because that’s what it’s going to take if you want to take your business to the next level.

Brian Bennett, a regional director for Ritz-Carlton knows that marketing and advertising have limited effect. “It’s the positive experience that will make a guest who visits us five times a year visit us six or seven times. The experience is what triggers change in human behavior and that change is pure profit.”

The recovery of the economy is still further off than we’d like to acknowledge. Businesses that survive, and then rise to the top when times get better, will be those that take the Ritz-Carlton methodology and apply it to their own situation. It’s not easy, and probably means a complete “lifestyle change” for your entire business. But trust me – you need to do it.

The question is: Will you?

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The Facebook Files


The social media habits of women 18-34


Oxygen Media released a study conducted by The Oxygen Media Insights Group, into the minds of women (18-34) and their social media habits. The findings have revealed greater information about how young women – and in comparison their male counterparts – are using social media to power their “Live Out Loud” lifestyles. The study revealed they are using it to gather hard news, share information with friends and vent about happenings in their lives at a breakneck pace.

Also uncovered was the ‘addiction’ some profess to have including waking up in the middle of the night to check a text or checking their Facebook in the morning before washing their face or brushing their teeth. The survey, which interviewed more than 1,600 social media users 18-54, explores the profound impact social media has had on today’s young women in their quest to “have it all” and all at once.

OMG! I’m Addicted!
Today’s tech savvy woman 18-34 has a fixed dependence to social media networks. An overwhelming majority (57%) admit to talking to people online more than face-to-face, while 34% say checking Facebook is the first thing they do when waking up in the morning – that includes brushing one’s teeth or using the bathroom. Even more surprising is the 26% who get up in the middle of the night to read text messages and the 21% who confessed to checking Facebook during the night.

More than one third (39%) are self proclaimed Facebook addicts; 37% have fallen asleep with their PDA in their hands; 84% believe its okay to update your status more than once a day; and 78% think it's okay to check someone else’s Facebook profile more than once a day; 19% say they have gotten into fights with loved ones about how much time they spend with their PDAs/cell phones and 31% feel more confident about their online persona than in their real lives.

• 34% women 18-34 say checking Facebook is the first thing they do when waking up in the morning
• 26% women 18-34 get up in the middle of the night to read text messages
• 37% women 18-34 have fallen asleep with their PDA in their hands

Uncensored…actions speak louder than words
Young women don’t always practice what they preach. While privacy is a concern for women 18-34, they have not let this matter censor their behavior. The shocking reveal here is that even though two-thirds (63%) use Facebook as a career networking tool, almost half (42%) think photos of them visibly intoxicated are okay and 32% think photos of themselves or others making obscene gestures are appropriate as well… and for all to see including co-workers and bosses. Respondents also seem to be unconcerned about being tracked at any given time – More than half (56%) of Twitter users think its okay to Tweet their current location; more than half (53%) post issues they are having at the moment; and half (50%) use Facebook to let others know what they are doing. 85% of women think its okay to post photos of a girls or guys night out; 86% think posting photos of children is okay; 79% are okay with kissing in photos and 73% are fine with posting photos of Bachelorette parties.

• While two-thirds (63%) of women 18-34 use Facebook as a career networking tool, almost half (42%) think photos of them visibly intoxicated are okay
• While 37% of women 18-34 admit they’ve accidentally texted something embarrassing to the wrong person, 32% think posting photos of themselves or others on Facebook making obscene gestures is appropriate
• Only 44% of women 18-34 trust Facebook with their private information, but 56% of Twitter users think its okay to Tweet their current location

Are we frenemies?
58% of young women use Facebook to keep up with their frenemies; 50% say its okay to be a Facebook friend with a complete stranger. Maybe Facebook is not a competition for collecting the highest number of friends - a surprising 50% agree they could rely on a Facebook friend for help in a crisis situation, however 46% say its okay to be Facebook friends with someone you don’t like in real life; but only 31% would “de-friend” someone they no longer talk to in real life.

• 58% of women 18-34 use Facebook to keep up with their frenemies
• 46% of women 18-34 say its okay to be Facebook friends with someone you don’t like in real life
• 50% of women 18-34 agree they could rely on a Facebook friend for help in a crisis situation

Staying Connected…no one picks up the phone anymore
Traditional means of communication have been tossed aside by today’s modern young woman 18-34. When keeping in touch with family, friends and various associates an overwhelming 73% agree they text more than they talk on the phone and more than half (56%) consider texting their main form of communication. Keeping with this new age trend, tech obsessed young women have also replaced traditional forms of media as their primary news sources -- 48% find out about news through Facebook more often than traditional news outlets and 41% of those who use Twitter use it to stay up to date on current events and news.

• 56% of women 18-34 consider texting their main form of communication
• 41% of women 18-34 who use Twitter use it to stay up to date on current events and news
• 44% of women 18-34 turn to Facebook for reviews of TV shows and music

The Dating Game
It's time to find a date for Saturday night… 50% of single women 18-34 (vs. 65% of single men) think its okay meeting and dating other singles they meet through Facebook; 6% use it as a way to “hook up” (vs. 20% of men) and 37% of women 18-34 would not take down pictures of her past for a current significant other. When it comes to men 18-49 and their online dating habits, the results are in -- 42% of men think it’s okay to keep tabs on their girlfriends and wives via access to their online accounts (vs. 49% of women) and married men are more likely to cheat using social media. Half of the married men surveyed do not consider sending a text to an ex flame or having a Facebook chat with someone they’re attracted to as cheating. And the men are heartbreakers -- men 18-34 are twice as likely as their female counterparts to break up through Facebook (24% men vs. 9% women) as well as via text message (31% men vs. 14% women). It’s heartening to know that some young women still roll ‘old school.’ 91% say it’s not okay to break up with someone over Facebook; and 74% of Twitter users say it’s not okay to start an argument with someone over Twitter.

• 50% of single women 18-34 (vs. 65% of single men) think its okay meeting and dating other singles they meet through Facebook
• 37% of women 18-34 would not take down pictures of her past for a current significant other
• Men 18-34 are twice as likely as their female counterparts to break up through Facebook (24% men vs. 9% women) as well as via text message (31% men vs. 14% women)

The Moms Weigh In
88% of young moms 18-34 think it's okay to post photos of their children on Facebook; 73% say that Facebook is “me time;” 42% say its okay to send private Facebook messages to members of the opposite sex while in a relationship; 42% feel that it keeps them hip and 25% like their Facebook friends more than their real ones!

• 88% of young moms18-34 think it's okay to post photos of their children on Facebook
• 73% of moms 18-34 say that Facebook is “me time”
• 25% of moms 18-34 like their Facebook friends more than their real ones!

Spoiler Alert!
78% say it's okay to talk about the outcome of TV shows in your Facebook status and 69% say it's okay on Twitter among users!

• 78% of women 18-34 say it's okay to talk about the outcome of TV shows in your Facebook status
• 69% of women 18-34 say it's okay to discuss outcome of TV shows on Twitter among users

The Reality Check
54% of the youngest women (18-24) do not trust Facebook with their private information; 72% agree that what you put on Facebook will live on forever and 89% agree you should never put anything on Facebook that you don’t want your parents to see. 80% of moms 18-34 feel that Facebook is a way to preserve your memories – a “modern day scrapbook” and 55% of moms who Tweet are more likely to keep Twitter for the rest of their lives.

• 54% of women 18-24 do not trust Facebook with their private information
• 72% of women 18-24 agree that what you put on Facebook will live on forever
• 89% of women 18-24 agree you should never put anything on Facebook that you don’t want your parents to see

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