Saturday, December 11, 2010

How Less can be More

from Al Ries:

Apple's IPad a Great Example of Divergent Thinking

Marketers Should Ask, 'What Can We Do Without?'

Al Ries
Al Ries
What's the difference between an iPad and a tablet computer? Well, you might be thinking, an iPad is a tablet computer.

Not exactly. If I remember correctly, a tablet computer was a laptop computer with a screen that doubled as an electronic notepad.

You could use a stylus to write directly on the screen or you could type on the keyboard. You could save your handwriting as a visual file or you could convert it into typed text.

The launch was a big deal
Earlier in the decade, the launch of the tablet computer was a big deal. Microsoft invested a reported $400 million developing the operating system and companion handwriting-recognition tools. Fourteen computer makers signed up to produce tablet computers including Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC and Acer.

"It's the ultimate evolution of the laptop," said Bill Gates. "Within five years," he predicted, "it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."

It never happened.

The original tablet computer and today's version couldn't be more different. The two products illustrate an important conceptual idea.

The tablet computer of 2002 was a convergence product. It combined the functions of a pen computer with the functions of a standard laptop computer.

The tablet computer of 2010 is a divergence product. It's as if Apple took a laptop computer and cut off the keyboard and threw it away, then put a handful of the laptop's more important components into the screen itself.

What remained was a new type of computing device. Lighter, easier to use and almost totally focused on the visual functions of a conventional laptop.

History repeats itself
The first computer was a mainframe. Then the mainframe computer diverged into dozens of difference categories including mid-range computers, servers, desktop computers, laptop computers and today's tablet computer.

Almost every product category follows a similar path. Early on, an inventor develops a unique idea and creates an entirely new category -- the incandescent light bulb, for example, invented by Thomas Edison.

As time goes on, the category diverges. And today we have a host of different types of lighting: fluorescent, neon, halogen, LED, OLED and laser, among other types. No convergence in lighting, only divergence.

Some divergence products, of course, are failures, including the original pen computer, although it's likely that someday someone will solve the difficult problem of handwriting recognition and develop a practical pen computer.

Without a keyboard, of course.

What can we do without?
That's one of the secrets to creating a successful divergence product.

To create the iPhone, Apple eliminated the keyboard used on other smartphones. That doubled the area available for a screen, making the iPhone much more useful as an internet device. (To compensate for the lack of a keyboard, Apple uses a touchscreen. But this was not a new idea, since touchscreen technology was developed in the early 1970s, around the time of the introduction of the first personal computer.)

And unlike what some industry experts have predicted, the iPhone and other smartphones are not replacing the personal computer. Worldwide PC shipments, for example, were up 10.3% in the latest quarter.

I must admit, I didn't think the iPhone would be successful because I initially viewed it as a convergence product, a combination cellphone/computer.

In reality, the iPhone and other smartphones are "divergence" devices. We used to have one type of mobile phone and now we have two types: cellphones and smartphones.

Will the smartphone replace the cellphone? Highly unlikely, since the two types are at opposite ends of the spectrum. A cellphone is a relatively inexpensive device for making phone calls. A smartphone is a relatively expensive device for surfing the internet and sending emails, along with a secondary function of making phone calls. (Many iPhone owners also own cellphones for making calls.)

Study other revolutionary developments and you'll usually find they were initiated by asking the question, "What can we do without?"

King Kullen and the supermarket
Take the supermarket industry, pioneered by Michael Cullen. His King Kullen chain on Long Island in New York eliminated one of the most expensive services of a typical grocery store: the clerks who fetched the products from the shelves at the request of consumers.

But the self-service feature was only his first step. Without the clerks, it made sense to have much larger stores that were more efficient and allowed even lower prices.

King Kullen's slogan: "Pile it high. Sell it low."

It might seem illogical, but the original supermarket chains carried even fewer items than a grocery store. King Kullen, for example, carried only 1,200 items.

A grocery store felt obligated to carry everything a customer might ask for. With self-service, consumers made choices from what they saw on the shelves. In a way, those early supermarkets were more like Costco (some 4,000 stock-keeping units) instead of today's typical supermarket (with 30,000 to 40,000 SKUs).

Today, the supermarket industry is in trouble. It's getting hammered at the low end by Walmart and at the high end by Whole Foods.

When was the last time a supermarket operator asked, "What can we do without?" Instead, the typical operator seems driven by the opposite question: What can we add to serve our customers better?

A delicatessen, a bank, a pharmacy, a bakery -- you name it. Typical convergence thinking.

What 's a company in business for?
To marry its customers and take care of their every need ... to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health?

It sounds so obvious and so logical that it's a shame to say convergence doesn't work.

Take Kroger, the nation's largest pure supermarket chain, although Walmart has overtaken it in grocery sales.

The numbers tell the story. In the past 10 years, Kroger had sales of $610.7 billion and net profits after taxes of $7.9 billion, or a net profit margin of only 1.3%.

Whole Foods had twice the profit margin of Kroger. On sales of $53.9 billion, the company had profits of $1.4 billion, or a profit margin of 2.6%.

Walmart is even doing better than that. On sales of $3,063.2 billion, the company had profits of $103.8 billion, or a profit margin of 3.4%.

Ask not what more you can do for your customers. Ask what less you can do for them. What can you eliminate that will help you build a narrowly focused, more profitable brand?

Oddly enough, Walmart, the supermarket industry's nemesis, is also making the same mistake. The chain is repeating what happened to Sears Roebuck years ago. Sears had exactly the same "low cost" position as Walmart before beginning an expansion program that included insurance, real estate and stock brokerage, among other things. "From socks to stocks" was the battle cry.

"From socks to soup," in my opinion, is going to eventually undermine the Walmart brand.

What Apple didn't do
Apple didn't take care of the millions of consumers who were using conventional MP3 players. Instead it focused the iPod on the high end, a thousand songs in your pocket at a much higher price.

Apple didn't take care of the millions of consumers who were using their smartphones primarily as an email device. Instead it introduced the iPhone as a smartphone without a keyboard.

The only recent Apple launch that went nowhere is Apple TV. And guess what? Apple TV is a typical convergence product, the result of trying to marry the internet with the TV set.

For more than a decade, high-tech companies have been trying to put the two together, egged on by the media. "Is it tellynet or netelly" was the headline of an article in the Dec. 13, 1997, issue of The Economist. "If ever two media were meant to wed, they are television and the internet."

Adding the function of one device to another device, of course, doesn't mean the two devices are converging. Radio has not converged with the automobile in spite of the fact that most automobiles have radios. And even if every TV set is able to surf the internet, it doesn't mean that any convergence has taken place.

The essence of convergence
It's when two categories come together and become one category. For example, the personal computer and the TV set.

You might not remember when this was viewed as a distinct possibility, when dozens of companies were working on putting the two together.

As one prominent media pundit put it 15 years ago: "Don't worry about the difference between the TV set and the PC, in the future there will be no distinction between the two."

Oddly enough, that might well have happened except for another phenomenon. Over time, every category evolves as well as diverges. Today's TV set isn't the same as yesterday's TV set.

Today's TV sets are getting bigger and less portable. It's not unusual to find 40, 50, 65, even 73-inch TV sets.

Today's personal computer isn't the same as yesterday's personal computer, either. Desktops are disappearing and laptops are getting smaller and lighter.

Who wants to carry around a 73-inch combination TV set and laptop computer?

A decade of convergence hype
Early in the 1990s, the world witnessed an explosion of convergence hype. Following is a typical quote, from Fortune magazine (Nov. 29, 1993):

"Convergence will be the buzzword for the rest of the decade. This isn't just about cable and telephone hopping into bed together. It's about the cultures and corporations of major industries -- telecommunications (including the long-distance companies), cable, computer, entertainment, consumers electronics, publishing, and even retailing -- combining into one mega-industry."
As the decade came to a close, Forbes ASAP, in an issue entitled "The Great Convergence," (Oct. 4, 1999) editorialized as follows: "The emerging idea of our time is convergence. It is the governing metaphor of the turn of the millennium."

I'm hoping the business media will set the record straight by designating the next 10 years as the decade of divergence, perhaps with a quote that goes something like this:

"The emerging idea of our time is divergence. It is the governing metaphor of the next decade. It is the reason why the world has witnessed an array of new categories and new brands: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Red Box, Netflix, AOL, Yahoo, eBay, Zappos, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Flickr, Craigslist, PayPay, Groupon, Zynga. With many more to come."

I'm hoping, but I'm not holding my breath.

Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm he runs with his daughter and partner Laura.

Sphere: Related Content

Are you Smart Enough for Mom?

Two weeks from today. Christmas.

Studies show women have an influence in 85% of all consumer spending in the U.S.A.

I wonder how many Mom's have a smart phone.

I wonder how many will have one in two weeks.

I wonder if you will be ready to reach out to them via those phones:

Smartphones, Smart Moms
At the grocery store, Mom accesses her shopper loyalty account and loads her coupons directly on her smartphone. After buying her groceries, she checks the calendar on her phone and decides she has time to pick up a last-minute holiday gift. She locates a big-box retailer and navigates there using the smartphone's GPS.

Before making her purchase, she checks competitors' prices to ensure that she's getting the best value. On her way back to the car, she receives a text message from her favorite boutique letting her know that they're having an exclusive sale and decides that moms deserve to treat themselves every now and then. She quickly spreads word on Facebook so all of her friends can treat themselves, too.

Is Mom getting your message on her smartphone?

These practical, real-world applications represent the tip of the iceberg for smartphone holiday shopping potential. People are increasingly turning to mobile solutions during holiday shopping, and mothers, a key demographic, are rarely targeted specifically.

Far from a fad, savvy smartphone shopping is a growing trend. More and more, moms are augmenting their shopping experience -- a recent Millennial Media report indicated that in 2010 32% of moms own a smartphone versus 20% in 2009. Likewise, 32% of moms reported using their mobile Internet at least once a week in 2010 versus 20% in 2009. Both instances show an increase of 60% in usage by moms, and these numbers will continue to climb this holiday season and into 2011.

Moms are often the household's key decision maker. Once slow to adopt new technologies, they have been quick to embrace smartphones. During the holiday season, mothers are increasingly utilizing their mobile devices -- locating stores, researching products, comparing prices, seeking out special offers and coupons, checking product availability, streaming multi-media, playing games or simply killing time in line checking Facebook and Twitter. Every one of these activities represents a chance for brands to reach out and grab the attention of these influencers.

It's not too late

Even if your brand hasn't made targeting moms a part of your long-term strategy, there are some simple guidelines you can follow that will help you begin engaging with moms faster than you can say "Kris Kringle":

  • The more, the merrier: Effective holiday shopping applications, mobile websites and mobile ad campaigns need to be accessible by a variety of smartphone platforms -- iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, etc., to reach the largest audience.
  • Not too flashy: It's important that all landing pages or microsites are designed to be mobile-phone friendly. Too often, existing websites are difficult to browse via phone and any Flash elements will not work.
  • What's the deal?: The best mobile initiatives clearly state their offer: savings, convenience, and special deals.
  • It's good to share: Mobile apps should make social sharing easy. Something as simple as a mom sharing a link on Facebook can increase your exposure exponentially.
  • Keep it simple: Effective applications should make a mom's life easier. To this end, user experience should be clean with an emphasis on simplicity and convenience. The holidays are stressful enough. Any tool moms can use to reduce this stress will create buzz and be widely shared.

Even as little as a decade ago, it would have been difficult to anticipate today's smartphone culture. Phones carry people's lives inside them. Beyond contact lists and a means to reach out to family and friends, smartphones provide consumers with an ever-present window into the digital world. For busy, multi-tasking moms, the smartphone functions as a primary tool for keeping her life in order. Companies that can help her will be embraced; all others will be marked as spam.

With more than seven years of experience developing and implementing cutting-edge digital strategies, Sarah Van Heirseele is Digital Director at Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide.

Sphere: Related Content

Company Christmas Parties

Yes, I said Christmas.

Not only is the use of the word Christmas coming back, company Christmas Parties are back too.

Ours is Friday.

Restaurants Offering Deals for Holiday Parties

Despite the economic Grinch threatening to steal corporate party business as it has over the past two holiday seasons, a number of operators say early incentive efforts have been helping them boost sales over last year.

However, even for those operators managing to book parties during the holidays, the season could be merrier.

One survey released in November predicted 2010 would see the worst holiday party slump in 22 years. The poll, conducted by Amrop Battalia Winston, a global executive search firm based in New York, found only 79 percent of businesses were planning a holiday celebration, down from 81 percent in both recessionary 2009 and 2008 -- the previous lows in the survey, which started in 1989.

"Compared to last year the amount of parties seems to be the same," said Ashley Lightfoot, private events manager at the Eddie V's Prime Seafood in Dallas. "They booked later than normal but seemed to be very selective while doing research. I had lots of inquiries early but the bulk of the groups did not confirm until October-November."

And costs remain top of mind, Lightfoot added. "I have noticed the major thing is the wine selection," she said. "For instance, I have a repeat group from last year that chose wine in the $50- to $60-a-bottle range and this year is going with our house (wine) at $28 per bottle."

That is a trend seen throughout the year, Lightfoot said. "I can pretty much say that for the whole year: same amount of parties but spending less."

This season, restaurant operators started offering incentives early to inoculate against the party-blues flu.

The 15-unit Texas de Brazil churruscaria chain had offered gift-card rebates to parties of 15 or more for bookings made before Nov. 30. The deal was to give 10 percent of the holiday party cost at regular dinner menu prices, up to $1,000, in gift cards.

Wolfgang Puck Catering offered early booking discounts for holiday events. And Dave & Buster's offered free room rentals or more than half off game play for those booking before November.

Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group of Boston offered complimentary butler-passed hors d'oeuvres for events booked prior to Nov. 15. And the eight-unit chain's private-dining managers planned fixed-price dining packages, exclusive pricing on signature items and custom menus.

Nicole Lierheimer, spokeswoman for Smith & Wollensky, said, "The holiday promotions have been helpful in motivating event bookings.

"We are pleased to report that sales for the holiday dining season are up, thanks to the ongoing support of our loyal customers and the communities in which we do business," Lierheimer said.

Coming off the dismal party-spending years of 2008 and 2009, many companies were pleased that some business wallets actually were open this year.

At Ruth's Chris' Steakhouse, holiday party reservations rose 17 percent over last year's depressed numbers. "We are looking forward to our most successful holiday private-dining season since 2007," Mike P. O’Donnell, president and chief executive of parent Ruth's Hospitality, told securities analysts in late October.

Amrop Battalia Winston's 2010 "Annual Survey on Corporate Holiday Celebrations," which polled 103 leading companies, also found that for those companies holding celebrations, just over a quarter, or about 28 percent, said their parties will be more modest. This follows on the heels of the nearly half, or 49 percent, who downsized in 2009.

Amrop chief executive Dale Winston said, "Fundamentally, those having holiday parties this year are much more optimistic about the year-ahead, while those not having parties are more pessimistic."

Among other survey findings:

  • Celebrations this year will not be for client or business prospects. Only 5 percent of those holding parties intend to invite clients and friends. Over two-thirds -- 69 percent -- will be "employee only," while 26 percent of organizations intend to invite employees and their families to gatherings.
  • Companies said they were planning not to skimp on cocktails. The number of companies expecting to serve alcohol increased this year, to 79 percent, which is up from 73 percent in 2009 and 71 percent in 2008. The survey high was in 2000, when 90 percent served cocktails.
  • After-work parties are increasing in popularity. Of those conducting holiday celebrations, 57 percent are expected to be evening affairs compared with 53 percent in 2009. About 43 percent were planning holiday lunch parties compared with 47 percent in 2009.
  • Many companies are expecting to get away from the office. More than three-quarters, or 77 percent, of firms said they were planning to host their parties off-site, up from 67 percent last year. And 76 percent of those companies said they would be holding a party "off-site" at a restaurant.
(Source: Nation's Restaurant News, 12/02/10)

Sphere: Related Content

Talk First

In baseball, the pitcher, addresses the ball, before he pitches.

Do the same.

Daily Sales Tip: Start With a Conversation, Not a Sales Pitch

When you call someone, never start out with a mini-presentation about yourself, your company and what you have to offer.

Instead, start with a conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. For example, you might say, "I'm just calling to see if you are open to some different ideas related to preventing downtime across your computer network?"

Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase. Instead, you're addressing a problem that, based on your experience in your field, you believe they might be having. If you don't know what problems your product or service solves, do a little research by asking your current customers why they purchased your solution.

Source: Sales consultant/speaker Ari Galper

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karl Greenberg
Michael Sprague, VP of marketing for the Irvine, Calif.-based automaker, tells Marketing Daily that the use of visual icons makes more sense nowadays, given that as culture gets more technologically centered, visual communication -- paradoxically -- has become more pictographic and icon-based. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Which brands benefit from the syllogism, "If most fun equals most loyal, and brand X has the most loyal customers, then brand X has all the fun cars"? The new J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Customer Retention Study, released Thursday, says that would be Ford. To be fair, Honda is also number one in the study, but for more practical reasons. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
While the company's Denise Blasevick admits that the first association for "eight" and "holiday" may be Hanukkah, the brand purposefully avoided direct associations with any one holiday, which is why the promotion began on Dec. 8, she says. "We didn't want it to be a specific holiday," she says. "We're a very inclusive brand. There are a lot of eights out there." ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
The organization has changed its name to The Partnership at and is extending its reach to parents of kids who are already using, launching expanded services and support. Marketing Daily asked Steve Pasierb, president/CEO, to tell us what's new in anti-drug marketing and how far the organization has come since its "This is your brain. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs." ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
The quick service restaurant chain, founded in 1964 by NHL hall-of-famer Tim Horton, has signed as the title sponsorship of the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic. Also as part of the agreement, Tim Hortons has become the Official Quick Serve Restaurant Coffee, Donut and Breakfast of the NHL in Canada. ...Read the whole story >>

Sphere: Related Content

The Tech World of Today's Teens

Not many Teenagers are in charge of marketing.

Mark Z of Facebook is over the hill in his 20's.

So, to help us understand their world, check out these tips from Mediapost:

Profile Of A Teen Technology User
When I was a kid, the first personal computers were just coming out. We had our beautiful Packard Bell that had less storage space than my flash drive, and (gasp) a floppy disk drive. I grew up in a time when consumers had to adapt to evolutions in technology, and brands had to find ways to use technology to reach consumers.

In 2010, the sides of the scale are slightly shifted. Technology is abundant, the Internet is cluttered, marketing is everywhere and consumers have more options than they'll ever need. The audiences that technology grew up with (Gen X, Boomers) are all but captive to brands. The audience that grew up with technology (teens, Millennials) are not wooed by glitz and glamour. They're used to technology, because it's always been there.

If you're a marketer trying to reach teens, take some time to think about technology from the teens' perspective, because to teens:

Devices Have Always Been Portable

Teens have grown up in the portable era. Their first computers were laptops. Their first music players were iPods. Their first gaming systems were handheld. Because teens are so adept at using portable devices, they expect experiences to transition across them. Marketers shouldn't create fragmented experiences on different platforms, because teens are never tied down to just one device.

Mobile Phones Have Always Existed

Because teens are a texting generation, many of them prefer BlackBerrys and other phones that provide a different experience than touch-screen phones. Teens grew up with lots of options for mobile phones, so they're not as quick to buy or try the next hot new thing -- especially if it's not connected with what they're already using. If you're marketing to teens on mobile, don't abandon their platforms when the next hot new one comes out -- they'll probably be one of the last to try it out.

Technology Is Always Evolving

To teens, there are always new mobile platforms and devices being created. They're open to new technology more than any other generation and are savvier with new devices, but they don't just buy it 'cause it's new. If you want to sell them your new technology, make sure it works better than what they have and doesn't just look better than what they have.

Brands Have Always Been Online

Brands have been online as long as teens have. There's nothing new about it, and that makes them harder to engage. Teens don't want to engage with your brand in social media just because it's cool that your brand is in social media. They want to engage with your brand if they're getting something in return.

David Trahan is a strategist at social marketing agency Mr Youth in New York, which was named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Marketing Companies in the World by "Fast Company" magazine.

Sphere: Related Content

Mine, Mine, Mine!

An interesting trend you might want to keep in mind this Christmas season, by rewarding the shopper...

Consumers Are Buying For Themselves This Christmas

Consumers are adding a very important name back to their holiday shopping lists this year: their own.

The percentage of shoppers who say they plan to indulge in a little something extra for themselves has risen four points since last year to more than 57 percent -- the biggest jump in at least six years, according to an industry survey. Sales of jewelry, apparel and consumer electronics are up so far this holiday season from last year, and experts attribute part of the boost to what has become known as "self-gifting."

You didn't think Dad was going to give that 50-inch flat-panel TV to someone else, did you?

"The consumer really is sitting there saying, 'I'm going to take advantage of these deals,' " said Marshal Cohen, senior analyst for NPD Group, a consumer research firm. "This consumer is saying that there really is some pent-up demand."

During the nation's economic downturn, consumers saved money by whittling down their Christmas lists. Spending on gifts for babysitters, co-workers and teachers were slashed, and, in the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, shoppers cut back on themselves.

According to the National Retail Federation, the number of self-gifting shoppers began to fall in 2007 -- the year the recession began -- after steadily increasing for several holiday seasons. Though the number ticked up in 2008, it plunged last year to under 53 percent of shoppers. The amount they intended to spend last year also fell nearly 5 percent to $101.37.

This year, both measures have rebounded along with consumer confidence. And shoppers reported plans to spend an average of $107.50 this Christmas on themselves, the NRF said.

"The economy is picking up a little bit," said Lisa Bennett, as she sipped a Bellini on a recent evening at a cocktail party at Bliss Spa in downtown Washington, D.C. for its top customers.

Bennett said the sense that the recovery is on track made her feel a little less guilty about spending $200 online at Ann Taylor for herself while she was scouring the Internet for gifts for her teen cousins. They got Best Buy gift certificates and J. Crew sweaters; she got two new tops and a dress and then booked an oxygen facial for herself at the spa.

General manager Michelle Caron said customers are not only booking "maintenance" appointments -- the manicures and waxing counted as necessities among some women -- but also reserving more indulgent services such as facials and massages. This holiday, the spa launched a new service dubbed Shopper's Delight, a lower leg massage and exfoliating treatment for $70.

"We've only been getting busier and busier," Caron said.

Industry experts say the return of self-gifting is a telling indicator of consumer health. Over the past two years, as consumers have grappled with high unemployment, falling home prices and a volatile stock market, spending was primarily driven by necessity. Retailers that sold staples such as groceries held up better during the recession than those that stocked discretionary items.

But if shoppers are now willing to buy for themselves, that could mean the big freeze on consumer spending is starting to thaw.

Cohen said self-gifting helped drive the strong sales and shopper traffic over the post-Thanksgiving weekend. His research showed 35 percent of shoppers bought something for themselves, more than he expected.

Self-gifting could also prove lucrative for retailers because it rarely occurs by itself, Cohen said. Shoppers may reward themselves after spending on others or, on the flip side, justify their own purchases by buying a few gifts.

"It's like it becomes a fever," he said. "For every self-gifted item, there's generally another item that gets added to the assortment as well."

At Fair Oaks Mall in the Washington, D.C. area, general manager Robbie Stark said self-shopping dominated the Black Friday weekend, including one four-hour line of teen boys waiting to buy $10 T-shirts at Elite Board Shop, which sells skateboard gear. He said retailers welcome the business to pad holiday sales.

"The more self-buying that goes on, that's good because they're still going to get the gift-buying," he said.

Still, New England Consulting Group founder and chief executive Gary Stibel said any increase in self-gifting is incremental at best. Shoppers put their kids first and their pets second, he said. Parents and spouses take the back seats, leaving only a tiny portion of discretionary income left over for personal indulgences.

"She's trying to take care of everybody, but she more often than not puts herself last," Stibel said of the typical female shopper. "She's too damn conscientious for her own good."

So which actually makes us happier: self-sacrifice or self-indulgence? A study by Harvard Business School associate professor Michael Norton and two colleagues from the University of British Columbia in 2008 examined whether shoppers derived greater pleasure from spending on themselves or on others.

The researchers gave up to $20 away to shoppers with instructions to spend it on themselves or on other people -- perhaps through a gift for a friend or a donation to a homeless shelter. Though most people expected to enjoy keeping the money, Norton said that at the end of the day, those who bought for someone else reported feeling significantly happier.

Of course, devoting a day of shopping for someone else is one thing. But the holiday shopping season is two full months of making a list, checking it twice, then trying to balance your checkbook. Norton said his research did not examine whether the drawn-out process of gift-giving can overwhelm the joy of giving, but he is clearly no Grinch.

"In the moment of giving," he said, "it's still nice to have given a gift to someone."

(Source: The Washington Post, 12/06/10)

Sphere: Related Content

The Golden Rule

In 1986, when I moved into the sales side of the radio business, I found Harvey Mackay and his book, Swim with the Sharks as a virtual mentor.

Nearly 25 years later, and back in the sales world for the past 8 years, I still look to Harvey for his wit and wisdom.

This is from his newsletter:

The Golden Rule of Selling

By Harvey Mackay

After many decades of being a business owner and salesman, I have never, ever changed my Golden Rule of Selling: Know Your Customer.

Customers are the reason we open our doors every day, and keep the machines humming all night long. Customers determine what we eat, where we live, whether we stay in business. We can keep our factories and offices going until we run out of money, but unless we have customers to sell to, we have no purpose.

Economic times like we are experiencing right now challenge those selling even the most essential products. That's why knowing your customer positions you to retain business that may otherwise be subject to underbidding. A customer could decide that your product may no longer be necessary.

Anyone can research information on a company. A Google search usually produces more facts than you'll actually need. But the company isn't your real customer. There's a person in that company who makes decisions about how the company is going to spend money, and who will get their business. That's your customer.

I've written many times about the Mackay 66, a 66-question customer profile that I developed as a young salesman. It includes absolutely no information about the envelopes a company buys, but rather focuses on the person who does the buying. What are they like as human beings? What are they proud of accomplishing? What's their life like outside the office? In other words, what makes them tick?

Then, we guard this information with our lives, being very sensitive to how we use it and who has access. This is not office gossip. (You can access the Mackay 66 at my website,

In tough times, having an established relationship with a person often determines the outcome of the sales call. Here's a sample of what I've heard:

  • "We received a lower bid from a different company, but I'm a little concerned about their follow-through." (Our price is more than fair when you consider our track record.)
  • "Our end-of-year budgets are mighty tight; can we arrange for deferred billing?" (Sure, because we know the company is financially sound.)
  • "Our business has really fallen off lately. We'd sure appreciate any business you send our way." (May I take a few of your business cards?)
"Whenever you are faced with tough times, it's time to get busy," writes Tom Hopkins in his book, Selling in Tough Times. The subtitle, Secrets to Selling When No One is Buying, should grab the attention of any salesperson who has experienced a sales slump. But make no mistake, this book is not just for tough times -- the advice applies to every sales presentation you'll ever make.

While there is a goldmine of selling wisdom in every chapter, I was particularly interested in chapter 5 -- "Start by Keeping the Business You Already Have." Hopkins says, "If you have provided an exceptional level of service to your clients, there's a wonderful side benefit. During tough times you will likely be lower on their list of services to reduce or eliminate than another company that hasn't provided your level of extraordinary service."

He summarizes that chapter with five brief points. We all need to remember:
  • Loyalty is built over time and by giving consistent attention to your clients.
  • End every client meeting with these words: "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
  • Have multiple ideas for building client loyalty through phone calls, e-mail, and postal mail.
  • Know how to approach a neglected client to regain their trust and keep their business.
  • Begin a study of other companies that have loyal clients and incorporate some of their strategies into your business.
Hopkins' final bit of advice is critically important. "During challenging times, it's more important than ever to dedicate yourself to training, practicing, and improving everything you do," he writes.

"Being well trained will help you become one of those people who thrives not just now but when things turn back around, as they always do," Hopkins writes. "Don't just rely on your company to train you, either. . . Too many average salespeople try to blame the lack of training or motivation from an external source, such as the company, for their challenges. Nobody can motivate you but you."

In short, you have to ignite your own passion.

Mackay's Moral: Tough times come and go, but great salespeople just keep going.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thursday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

At this moment, I'm slipping into some rented shoes, at a local bowling center to raise $$ for a good event.

You can click & read and wish me luck....

by Karl Greenberg
Sarah Robb O'Hagan, CMO at Gatorade and Stanley Hainsworth of Seattle-based design firm Tether have a lot to say about collaborative work in extending and reinventing a brand. The two detailed where Gatorade has been and where it is going in a presentation at Wednesday's ANA Creativity Conference in New York. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Starbucks garnered a media-buy purchase equivalent of $67.8 million in free brand exposure through online news media, social media and Twitter between September and November 2010, placing it at the top of online media impact value rankings in the first Fast Food Industry Media Value Report from media measurement technology firm General Sentiment. ...Read the whole story >>
Packaged Goods
by Tanya Irwin
The effort, which involves conducting focus groups and holding conversations with women nationwide, comes on the heels of a proprietary quantitative study of how women think and feel about their bodies. The results, it says, show more than 40% of women misidentify the vagina on an anatomical diagram. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
Growth won't be realized until after 2011, as consumers -- who had been using disposable income for necessity purchases during the recession (and may have put off some necessary purchases that need to be made as recovery takes hold -- take some time to build up discretionary spending income, says Mary Lynn Palenik, director of gaming, entertainment, media and communications practice at PwC. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Crayola, a privately held division of Hallmark, has been redefining itself since 2004. Speaking about the evolution of the brand at the 2010 ANA Creativity Conference in New York, Sharon Hartley, EVP, marketing and sales for North America at Crayola, said the company had to broaden how it defined itself in order to survive and grow. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
A new study from the NPD Group says that this year 62% of buyers leave home knowing precisely what toy they want to buy for their kids, and 77% of those know exactly where they intend to purchase it. And if the toy they want isn't in stock, 42% say they'd head to another store and 9% would look online. Just 22% say they would look for a different product, the market research company reports. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Twenty-eleven will mark the year that Americans begin making permanent, holistic changes in their diets and buying foods generally rich in nutrition, as opposed to focusing on single nutrients, predicts "supermarket guru" Phil Lempert. ...Read the whole story >>

Sphere: Related Content

The Devil Loves Low Prices

Well, everyone who buys stuff, loves to get the best price for what they are buying.

Doesn't matter if you are rich, poor, or in the middle.

But to hang your marketing hat on Low Prices only works if you are Walmart. explains:

Five Reasons Your Advertising Shouldn't Lead With Price

Especially in this economy, small businesses are tripping over themselves to tell customers about their low, low prices. But in an article at MarketingProfs, Dan Hill argues strenuously against price-leading campaigns and gives reasons like these:

It is not a sustainable long-term strategy. "One of the key advantages of a sale is the element of surprise," he says. And the stopping power of a low price will fade quickly when repeated surprises lose their power to surprise.

It reminds people that they're paying money they don't want to pay. Research has shown that any price tag produces disgust in a buyer's mind. A discounted price doesn't cause positive feelings—it simply lessens the degree of disgust.

It shifts a customer's mind from right-brain emotion to left-brain analysis. "That's a bad tradeoff, given that everyone feels before they think," he notes. Especially when you consider an IPA study that found "emotion-oriented campaigns generate twice as much profitability as traditional, hard-sell, reasoning-oriented campaigns."

It undermines brand loyalty. Long-term customers will wonder why anyone walking in off the street gets the same deal they do. But that's not the only problem. "Current customers pay less for goods they were already buying (and may not buy again at full price)," he argues. "As for new customers who bought because of a deal, their loyalty is less real than the profit margin sacrificed."

It causes buyers to question what your company stands for. "With price-leading advertising, a company's identity becomes fuzzy," he says. "Suddenly, you are either a discount brand or you're signaling a lack of confidence that, in dating as in commerce, is not attractive."

The Po!nt: "Leading with price suggests you have nothing else to say or show in advertising," says Hill. "Price as your main attribute doesn't mean anything."

Source: MarketingProfs.

Sphere: Related Content

New Ad Campaigns

Amy's Back with this weeks update:

Holiday scratch-offs. What's inside Santa's beard? You'll be surprised. Let's launch!

1HBO launched its holiday TV spots Monday, starring fans of HBO series like "Entourage" and "True Blood" reenacting scenes using homemade, cheap, props. How about springing for the shows on DVD or Blu-ray, instead? Awww, Sookie. She has so little to say when she's made of cardboard. A husband reenacts his wife's favorite episode of "True Blood," playing the role of Bill. There's fog, cardboard character cut-outs, set pulleys and a decent imitation of Bill Compton's raspy voice. Watch it here. A woman surprises her man with an episode of "Entourage" told through a gaming board, miniature-sized characters and remote control helicopter. She's promptly cut off with the sound of a channel changing to a static station, along with HBO's plea: "This holiday, leave the HBO to us." See it here. Those with a Webcam can go online and reenact a scene from "True Blood" or "Eastbound and Down" using sock puppets. Move your hands and the AR-sock puppets move, too. See a demonstration here. BBDO New York created the campaign.

2"Something's Lurking" in your carpet, and it's not safe, even for plastic dolls and green army men. Promoting the LG Kompressor Elite vacuum, this global video brings hidden dust, dirt and allergens to the top of a rug, in the form of sharks trolling for dinner and hurricane-strength winds. Barbie gets stuck in between couch cushions, unbeknownst to Ken; shark fins begin to swim dangerously close to stuffed animals; a rescue mission is conducted, with army men helping stranded animals to higher ground: the coffee table. The spot ends with the LG Kompressor vacuuming away the particles. "Protect your family from things that are lurking," closes the ad, seen here. Young & Rubicam New York created the video, produced by Psyop and Smuggler.

3That's not snow in the air; it's flakes from scratch-off lottery tickets. Walk with your mouth closed. The New York Lottery launched a holiday TV ad encouraging consumers to make their own holiday by giving the gift of scratch-offs. Flurries of people throughout New York are shown walking and scratching tickets. The dust flies upward, resembling snow. Onlookers know what the flakes are really made of. See it here. Users can even go online to create a customized holiday song, sung by a man full of holiday spirit. Plug in your name, Zip code and birthday, and the man sings your praises. Why the Zip code? The song ends with Google Maps popping up, directing video viewers to the closest town that sells the perfect gift: New York Lotto scratch-offs. Just for fun, I'm throwing in an enjoyable New York Powerball TV ad from earlier this year where dreaming big made the sky the limit for one man. He exits the subway, right before the ceilings get smaller. Or is the man getting bigger? He's taller than buildings, petting clouds and seeing the city with new eyes. Watch it here. DDB New York created the campaigns.

4What's inside Santa's beard? Would you believe D.B. Cooper? The Oregon Lottery launched "Beard World," an ad promoting its holiday scratch-off game, "What's In Santa's beard?" There's a candy cane that pours syrup from sinks, a headless snowman retrieving his head from the freezer, a walrus flossing his tusks and D.B. Cooper, still attached to his parachute. More importantly, there's the chance to win $10,000. See the ad here. There's also a microsite offering users the chance to win $2,000 plus daily videos showing a new thing found inside Santa's beard. Borders Perrin Norrander created the campaign, produced by Nathan Love and Mothership.

5The Illinois Lottery wants you to "Joy Someone" with holiday scratch-off tickets. An amusing TV spot highlights people on your gift list whom you're unsure what to get. How better to thank your tailor who works wonders on your over-sized clothes, or your co-worker who's blessed with the talent of baking life-like cakes? Yes, I did have a Lionel Richie "Hello" video flashback. Watch the ad here. Get ready for a microsite that allows users to upload photos of themselves in awkward positions. Think of the site AwkwardFamilyPhotos for inspiration. Pictures can be shared through email, Twitter and Facebook. Energy BBDO created the campaign. FYI: those awkward photos found on the microsite are actually Energy BBDO employees.

6France is a country not necessarily known for its beer, but the country has produced Fischer Beer since 1821. A print campaign amusingly promotes the beer, along with other things France created that you might not know about. Creative uses the term "InFrenchions" to describe the work of French inventors. The parachute was invented in France, after it was tested using a dog. The modern bikini was also founded in France, along with the ménage-a-trois. How could the latter be ignored? See the ads here, here and here, created by HOOK.

7Toshiba laptops are made to withstand 99% of drops. I wonder if unrealistic events are also factored into this research -- like woodpeckers. The brand launched a print ad in GQ, Details, Outside, Glamour, SELF and Men's Health magazines featuring an unlikely foe to a laptop placed on a glass-top table with wooden legs. A trio of woodpeckers is dangerously close to pecking through the legs. Promoting its impact-smart hard drives, copy reads: "another common sense innovation in a not so common sense world." See the ad here, created by goodness Mfg.

8Online poker site Full Tilt Poker launched a TV and print campaign, shot in black and white, and showcasing professional poker players who make up Team Full Tilt. "Average Night" features a player having his ups and downs. Over his shoulder are his biggest critics and supporters: himself. "Feel every emotion. Show none," closes the ad, shown here. In "Play Like Me," a professional player describes how he learned to play poker by mimicking his idols. As time passed, he gained confidence to develop his own playing personality and technique. See it here. Print ads, shown here, here and here, make losing look beautiful and winning look pretty sweet, too. WONGDOODY created the campaign.

9Random iPhone App of the week: NCM Media Networks launched its Movie Night Out app to help users plan a night of dinner and a movie. The app can recommend a movie based on the kind of evening a user has in mind. Users can also read reviews, watch trailers and buy tickets via Fandango. Directions to theaters can be mapped out on Google Maps and shared with friends on Facebook, Twitter and email. The app is free from the App Store.

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

Sphere: Related Content

Live Testimonials

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: The Higher-Authority Close

A higher authority is a respected person known by your client who is willing to give third-party testimony. The higher authority will most often be a satisfied client -- possibly the one who referred you to the prospective future client.

To set this close up, choose your higher authority and discuss the situation with them. Tell him or her that you'll be meeting with "Jim Johnson" at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, and ask if they might be available around 2:30 p.m. to take your telephone call in case you need his or her input. Always offer to refer other business back to your higher authority in exchange for their involvement or to return the favor.

When you make the call, simply make the connection, do a brief introduction, and then let your higher authority tell your prospective client how great your and your product/service are.

If your higher authority is unavailable to take your call, ask for a testimonial letter and permission to use his or her name.

Source: Sales consultant/trainer Tom Hopkins

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karl Greenberg
Besides arena signage, in-game promotions and features, and outdoor visibility on the garden's marquees, the resort gets something unusual: "Foxwoods Final Five" wherein the casino gets exclusive advertising rights to the final five minutes of the three teams' game telecasts on MSG and MSG Plus. The garden says the arrangement is a first. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Says B. Bonin Bough, Pepsi's director of social media: "For the last two years we have been running social experiences at SXSW -- at all of these digital events around the country -- where we bring people from across the organization from different functions, different roles, to actually come and experience SXSW." ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
According to NetBase's Brand Passion Index, which measures consumers' passion for brands expressed via social media, people had a lot to say about Apple's iPad, but their responses were all over the map. At the same time, Amazon's Kindle produced a much greater affinity among social media chatter. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
That slowdown was to be expected, Andrew Lipsman, comScore's senior director of industry analysis, tells Marketing Daily. "Our forecasted holiday growth of 11% accounts for an expected slowdown," he says. "The heavy promotional activity early in the season pulled demand forward a bit, so we did not think that 13% growth rates could be sustained throughout the season." ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
SpringHill has never done anything like this, but since the brand's focus is smart design, it was a "natural combination," says Callette Nielsen. "Our target audience likes to explore the local scene and discover the destination's gems during their travel," she says. "ArtNight allows us to highlight our main brand element and deliver our promise to our guests." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
The brand partnered with digital entertainment studio Filmaka to hire the directors for the videos, asking each to create his own interpretation of the "passion, creativity and fun" inspired by baking with the glazes. One video will be released on each week during December. ...Read the whole story >>

Sphere: Related Content

The Social Media Boomer Boom

Here's the background on this post this afternoon.

I'm pretty active on Twitter and one of the Tweeps I've connected with is Randy Clark. Like Randy, I am a member of the Baby Boomer generation. (Randy will explain in a moment).

Randy is in the Indianapolis area, about 100 miles southwest of my city, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Indy is the largest metro area in Indiana, Fort Wayne is #2. Among the folks I've met via social media is another Indianapolis dude, Kyle Lacy, who is younger than us Boomers.

Randy wrote a piece for Kyle's Blog which I am reposting for you. You have my permission to read and learn from all of this, IF you raise your right hand and promise that you will:

Check out Kyle's Blog and website. And Check out Randy's Blog too.

(This blog is titled Collective Wisdom, because most of what you'll find is Wisdom, I've Collected from some pretty smart people and reliable sources.)

Randy Clark is the Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, where he blogs for TKO Graphix Brandwire. Prior to TKO, he spent 13 years with Unique Home Solutions as Marketing Director and VP of Operations. He is an avid flower gardener, beer geek, and he fronts a rock & Roll band on the weekends. And yes, he is a Boomer.

I am a Boomer. I was born between 1946 and 1964, and I have Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and You Tube accounts. According to USA Today, Facebook has 16.5 million users, 55 or older, while MySpace has 6.9 million users. Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb, states, “More than 60 percent of those in this generational group actively consume socially created content like blogs, videos, podcasts, and forums. What’s more, the percentage of those participating is on the rise.”

So why is this important to social marketers? AARP Global Network claims, “Boomers should be just as desirable to marketers as millennial and gen-xers in the coming years.” AARP quoted Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Boomers are the mainstream of the country now, when you attract a mainstream audience, you’re going to attract a lot more commercial interests. Boomers validate that this is a big market, and that this is a place where commercial interests can make money.” Since Boomers are increasing their involvement in social networking, it is important to consider how to connect with them. We are here, but we may not hear. You… may… have… to… speak… slower… and LOUDER!

Five Tips On How To Connect With Boomers

Keep it simple. If you want to engage Boomers, make it easy. Remember we hadn’t seen a computer until we were older than most of you are now! If we have to jump through too many hoops, we might become frustrated and give up.

Explain boundaries. Imagine George Carlin or Richard Prior on your Facebook account. Upon receiving a Facebook friend request from his father, Will Smith (not the actor) explained to his father what was not acceptable ( “Politics, sex, jokes, things you find funny but offend me, comments about family members, any combination of the aforementioned items, and pretty much every email you’ve ever sent me.”

Grammar does matter. We have watched the language devolve, u no? Understandably, many Boomers think the rules have been thrown out the window. Take the time to explain that poor grammar, misspelling, and bad writing do influence readers on social networks. It is not okay to call it “the ‘puter.”

Teach us social network netiquette. Sometimes we are so excited when we learn how to do something, we overlook what is next. Should I have mentioned them in the RT? Oh, was I supposed to thank someone for friending me? These simple netiquette cues need to be explained to Boomers.

Speak our language. Boomers may not keep up with the latest and greatest APPadohickie. We are more excited just to be in the game! If we stare at you with a glazed, distant look, be patient and explain it to us.

According to Wikipedia, “Baby Boomers control over 80% of personal financial assets and more than 50% of discretionary spending power. They are responsible for more than half of all consumer spending, buy 77% of all prescription drugs, 61% of OTC medication, and spend $500 million on vacations per year and 80% of all leisure travel.”([24])

When creating your next social media plan, do not overlook the Boomer market segment. Do a little research and find out where the Boomers hang in your neighborhood. Sites catering to boomers, such as, with over 800,000 members, continue to grow.
And remember, like they always say… what was it they say? There was something I wanted to share…now what was it? It was just on the tip of my tongue. Oh well…make yourself a great day! Peace.

Sphere: Related Content