Saturday, July 09, 2011

Me & My Kids

I'm a Boomer, and they are Gen Y.

From Mediapost:

Don't Forget Their Similarities As You Learn Their Differences

It's easy to get swept up in the many ways Generation Y is unmistakably different than Generation X and Baby Boomers. But, what can be difficult is remembering that in spite of those differences, Millennials are also undeniably similar to Gen Xers and Boomers.

Yes, you read right.

In some ways Millennials are like the Baby Boomers marketers know so well.

Take their life goals, for instance. Our recent research showed four things consistently ranked in the top five life goals for Gen Yers, Xers and Boomers:

  • Having a good relationship with my family
  • Having excellent physical/mental health
  • Having a happy marriage
  • Having close friends

The actual ranking varied a little, but the consistency is plain. Additionally, Millennials, too, embody the American dream. In fact, they're so traditional that goals like having children, having a regular 8-to-5 job and owning a home are actually more important to them than older generations.

Yes, they may text on a phone faster than you type on a keyboard, but Millennials are actually, well ... normal.

Before the shock sets in fully, keep reading. The normalcy continues.

Generation Y doesn't just have the same goals, they share the same mindfulness about achieving and being satisfied about those goals. Millennials are often thought to be wide-eyed, happy-go-lucky youngsters blissfully unaware of how they are fumbling through life as an adult. But in reality, Millennials are quite aware of where they are falling short.

When comparing the importance Millennials place on a goal relative to the satisfaction they feel with that aspect of their life, Millennials say they fall quite short on four of their top five goals -- family, health, marriage and career success. These social butterflies even think their friendships aren't quite where they should be either.

Essentially, it boils down to this -- despite their appetite for technology and fun, people and relationships still matter the most to Millennials, just like for Xers and Boomers.

I said it earlier, but it's worth repeating.

Millennials are normal.

So, what does that mean for marketers?

Honing in on similarities can enable messaging to transcend generational boundaries and focusing on differences will allow you to target Millennials specifically.

Sharalyn Hartwell is the executive director of Magid Generational Strategies at Frank N. Magid Associates.

And Yes, that's me with the pink ears from about 11 years ago!

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Mobile Mommy

I know a few of these....

(Originally published by Mediapost)

Look, Mom! It's LoSoPhoMo!
What's a single guy like me know about being a Mom? Zippy. Zilch. Nada.

Here's what I do know: Moms are driving an emerging trend that combines location-based services, social sharing, and the camera -- all converged in mom's mobile devices. Said another way, LoSoPhoMo:

  • The Lo is for local
  • The So is for social
  • The Pho is for photo (or video) enabled
  • The Mo is for mobile

It's a powerful combination. What's more, it's an experience that's unique to smartphones and tablets. And when you consider the sheer size, buying power and mobile adoption rates of moms, that's a game-changer for brands looking to connect with them.

Choosy Moms Choose Smartphones

The first indicator that moms are driving the LoSoPhoMo trend is in smartphone sales themselves. According to the 2011 Mobile Mom report, the rate of smartphone purchases among moms has increased 64% in less than two years. And more than half the moms polled at BabyCenter said their smartphone purchases were directly related to becoming a mom. Whoa.

Moms are power users of mobile. They can deftly navigate through the trifecta of mobile search, mobile web, and mobile apps, while multi-tasking a hundred different duties between breakfast and bedtime.

But as mobile search gives way to more app usage by moms (for now, anyway) the shift in focus for brands is now on apps -- an over-abundance of options for every life-stage imaginable:

  • Conception (BioClock)
  • Pregnancy (BabyBump, iPregnancy)
  • Picking a name (Name Shake)
  • Mastering contractions (ContractionMaster) -- sorry fellas, you're really useless now.
  • Breastfeeding (Baby Tracker: Nursing)
  • Potty training (iGoPotty)
  • Documenting poopy diapers (Baby Tracker: Diapers)
  • Keeping tabs on sleeping infant (BabyMonitor)
  • Getting kids to brush their teeth (Time2Brush)
  • And there are oodles of apps for mobile food ordering (and if you're lucky -- curbside service -- a blessing to moms everywhere!)

And so it goes. As kids get older, the apps get richer, and developers everywhere rejoice.

The Media Behavior Institute says that Gen-X moms have the least down time of any moms and the most time spent care-giving. So what do Moms want in apps in light of this insight? We asked one:

"The best apps help me stay organized," says Theresa C., a GenX mother of two, ages five and one. "I keep my grocery list on Ziplist. I've got the usual suspect apps that help me stay current with friends on social networks. I've got a few games that keep me entertained while I'm standing in line at the store. And I've got some specifically for my daughter -- doodling games, learning games. They come in handy at restaurants."

Theresa isn't alone. Moms everywhere seek entertainment and utility before downloading. What's more, 25% of the apps they download are for their kids. (For more info about moms and their apps, follow the conversation at the MomsWithApps group on Facebook. It's a collaborative group of parent app developers seeking to promote quality apps for kids and families.

Even more interesting for consumer products manufacturers, moms are becoming more dependent upon their smartphones when they're out shopping. In a Brunner survey, moms reported they used apps in the store to:

  • Compare prices (49%)
  • Read product reviews (35%)
  • Get and/or redeem coupons (34%)
  • Review nutritional information (31%)

Smarter, faster indeed. There's no question, apps are where it's at (today). But if you're a brand or a developer that's creating an app specific for mom, remember your LoSoPhoMo. The best apps today include at least one or more of these features.

Shaun Quigley is VP, interactive practice area leader for Brunner, an ad agency and digital marketing firm.

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The answer is below:

Daily Sales Tip: Why People Buy

A fundamental question in selling is not why people sell, but why people buy.

It is well known that people buy for their own reasons -- not for the seller's. In fact, their motivation to buy may have very little to do with the reasons why the seller thinks they should buy. When it comes down to it, people buy something to meet their needs, or resolve the problems they are facing.

According to Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling, people decide to buy when, "the pain of the problem and desire for a solution have been built to the point where they are greater than the cost of the solution."

A good sales professional can help clients come to that realization. But it doesn't happen as easily as you might think. Most people learn the basics of conducting needs analysis, customizing solutions and linking benefits to pain in their Sales 101 class. However, once they are out in the real world, they forget to bring these classroom lessons to life, and somehow their competence, composure, and confidence suddenly evaporate. Faced with self-induced, pressure-filled selling situations, they confuse telling with selling.

As dairy farmers are apt to say, "Cows don't give milk. You have to take it from them." The same is true with selling. Nobody just gives you a sale. You have to take it. But how you "take it" is very counterintuitive. A natural tendency of most sellers is to rush in. And as the Newtonian principle outlines, the equal and opposite reaction on the part of the buyers is to shut them out.

Like milking a cow, selling can be a delicate operation. While a client probably won't threaten you with a hoof, you're still faced with the fact that the harder you push, the more pushback you get. Why? As Harry Truman once said, "The best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it."

Nobody likes to be told what to do -- not even children. Imagine going to a doctor who gives you the same prescription she gave the previous patient because it worked. By not listening, by not being inquisitive, by not clarifying assumptions, sellers come across as not caring -- or caring more about themselves -- and perpetuate the stereotype of the arrogant, pushy "salesman" we all love to hate.

Source: Abhay Padgaonkar, President of Innovative Solutions Consulting, LLC (

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click, read & stay cool:

by Karl Greenberg
The disruptive new campaign, via AOR Saatchi & Saatchi, L.A., overturns a shopworn, if spurious, paradigm that says vehicle advertising must feature 30-somethings at play, doing hip, athletic things and generally being cool. After all, pitch a vehicle to youth and you pitch it to everyone. Pitch it to grandpa and you might as well name it "Old's." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Various groups have now filed responses to the Food and Drug Administration's specific proposals (released in April) for implementing the new federal menu/vending labeling legislation - meaning that battle over how broadly the regulations will apply has now commenced. ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
"Annie's often works with like-minded companies to create great campaigns, but this is the first time we've launched a promotion that brings together four great brands," Aimee Sands, Annie's marketing director, tells Marketing Daily. "One of our goals is to raise awareness for the many wonderful eco-friendly options consumers can find on shelves today." ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
Going into the back-to-school season, 77% of shoppers said they plan to spend the same or more than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, compared with 70% who said the same a year ago, Kantar Retail reports. At the same time, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported chain-store sales were up 5.5% compared with June 2010. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Aprilia U.S.A., the U.S. marketing arm of the Italian motorcycle and scooter company owned by Piaggio, has a video tribute to the space shuttle program and the last flight, which, weather permitting, will be on Friday. ...Read the whole story >>

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Death by Discount

Unless you are Walmart, discounts will drive you out of business.

You lose your identity and condition buyers to never pay full price.

Al Ries wrote about this for

Discountitus, the Disease That's Sweeping the Marketing Community

Positioning Is the Only Cure

Last month, J.C. Penney hired a new chief executive who used to run Apple stores. In a New York Times article, here's how CEO Ron Johnson described his plans for Penney: "Take this great American brand and make it become something unbelievably exciting."

Fat chance.

Most department stores are infected
You seldom see a department-store advertisement based on anything except a sale. The latest J.C. Penney ad was a six-page insert promoting a "Fourth of July sale."

In addition to dozens of "super hot buys," the insert features "Red Zone clearance, final-markdowns 80% off. New markdowns 50-70% off." Also featured is "jcpCA$H," offering consumers "$10 off any purchase totaling $25 & up."

Belk, Dillards, Kohl's, Macy's, Sears and most mainstream department stores are also infected by discountitus.

Kohl's, in particular. A typical mailing: "Start with these incredible sale prices of 20-60% off. Take an extra 15% off everything. Plus add a $5 bonus."

Airlines to pizza to car insurance
In industry after industry, the discount is the focus of the advertising.

Here's the opening dialog of a typical Progressive commercial featuring Flo and a potential customer.

"Are you a safe driver?"


"Discount! Do you own a home?"


"Discount! Are you gonna buy online?"



Over at Geico, "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance." Geico and Progressive are the biggest spenders in the category. Last year Geico spent $741 million on advertising. Progressive, $506 million. Longtime car-insurance leaders like State Farm ($453 million) and Allstate ($368 million) are lagging behind.

Penney vs. Apple
Over at J.C. Penney, if Ron Johnson plans to use an Apple strategy to turn his company around, it's too late. Once discountitus has spread through an industry, it's awfully hard to eradicate.

Take airlines. Yesterday, airline companies competed on the basis of who could build the better brand. Today, airline companies compete on the basis of who can offer the bigger discounts. No wonder Southwest Airlines is a big winner, and most airline customers can't explain the difference between American, Delta and United.

One reason why discountitus is spreading so rapidly is the internet. Clipping coupons is being replaced by typing on keyboards. Groupon and the other daily-deal websites are only one factor. Anybody who owns a computer today can get competitive prices on a host of items almost instantly.

Unless you want to spend the rest of your life doing discount marketing, you should be asking yourself, "What's the cure?"

Believers vs. agnostics
Take a closer look at the consumer a company is trying to reach with its advertising and PR.

Psychologically, consumers can be divided into two categories: 1) Brand believers and 2) Brand agnostics. And they vary by category. They can be believers in one category (ketchup) and agnostics in another category (airlines).

Watch believers go through the Sunday supplements. They only clip coupons for brands they already use.

Watch agnostics go through the Sunday supplements. They ignore brands and clip coupons for categories. (Extreme agnostics don't buy anything without a coupon.)

Discountitus is turning brand believers into brand agnostics. The lure of a "big discount" is enough to seduce a consumer into thinking that all brands in the category are pretty much alike.

In categories that have not been seriously contaminated, the cure for discountitus is a dose of positioning. But as Prophet, a leading marketing consultancy, reported in its latest state of marketing study: "Positioning has always been about differentiation. But in this unfolding environment, differentiation is short-lived."

We differ on that. The cure for discountitus is not differentiation. Nor is positioning essentially about differentiation, either.

Positioning is owning a word in the mind
As discountitus spreads its way through the marketing community, that word more often than not is "leadership."

Leadership is what makes Google the most powerful brand in the "search" category. Leadership is what makes iPod the most powerful brand in the "MP3 player" category. Leadership is what makes Heinz, Hertz, Haagen-Daz, Hellmann's, Home Depot and a host of other brands powerful in their categories.

But how to you get to be the leader? And how does the leader keep from catching the discountitus disease?

Launch a new brand in a new category
Over the past few decades, it's become clear that the only way to become a leader is to launch a new brand in a new category.

Like Apple did with the iPad, the first tablet-computer. Currently, the iPad has some 75% of the tablet market.

An also-ran that has been line-extended to death has no hope of ever becoming the market leader. The best it can do is to narrow its focus to shore up a position in a segment of the category.

Has Pepsi-Cola ever substantially increased its share of the cola market with Pepsi-Cola Retro, Pepsi Throwback, Pepsi Twist, Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Raw, Pepsi A.M., Pepsi Kona, Pepsi Light, Pepsi Max, Pepsi XL, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi One or Crystal Pepsi?

No, it has not. In fact, regular Pepsi-Cola has fallen behind Diet Coke to third place in the cola category.

What's next for Pepsi-Cola? More of the same. Pepsi Next.

Lower the boom on price
If you read the papers, you know the regular price of most products or services on the market today is "50% off."

Every Thursday, our local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, features "This week's best deals." Last week, there were eight. One was "free." One was "40% off" and the other six were "50% off."

That's not unusual. By far, the vast majority of daily deals are 50% off or BOGO -- buy one, get one free.

When rumors of Apple's imminent launch of a tablet computer circulated on the internet, the pundits predicted the product would be priced around a thousand dollars.

Apple surprised them with a list price of $495. The company lowered the boom at a level that competitors had difficulty getting under. Today, you find the table-computer market remarkably free of discountitus.

Apple used the same strategy with its iTunes brand by insisting on a 99-cent price. (Don't feel sorry for Apple. The company is making its money on volume, not on margin.)

When you're the leader in a category, you cannot be overtaken by a competitor who thinks differentiation is going to make a big difference.

And when you're the leader in the category and you lower the boom on price, you can inoculate the category from the disease of discountitus.

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

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Lessons from Abe

From my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Giving 100%

There is a wonderful sales lesson in a story I found about Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln once took a sack of grain to a mill whose owner was said to be the laziest man in Illinois. Abe watched the man for a while and then finally commented, "I can eat the grain as fast as you're grinding it."

The owner of the mill grunted and said, "Indeed; and how long do you think you could keep that up?"

Abe looked at the man and replied, "Until I starve to death."

Do you know any salespeople who never give it their all? They are always looking for the short cut, the easy way, the fastest way. Well, selling is hard work. The quickest, easiest, fastest way is not always the most productive way. A short cut is not a short cut if you "cut" corners. Give it your best and watch the sales orders come in.

Source: Sales trainer/speaker Mark Bowser (, 2009)

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Thursday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read...

I dare ya...

by Karlene Lukovitz
The brands' fans are already big on using social media to share their grilling passions and expertise, says Jill Pratt, VP marketing U.S. consumer products for McCormick & Co., adding that the new engagement activities may also "ignite a little friendly competition." ...Read the whole story >>
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
"We have found that many of our 25-49 married, tech savvy demographic are also tennis fans," Esurance vice president of marketing Darren Howard tells Marketing Daily. "The U.S. Open is the most watched tennis event in the world, and it's a fantastic venue to showcase the Esurance brand and reach our audience." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
The one-year competition will have three entry periods, each of which focuses on one element of the Infiniti brand. For each, participants have to design an interior installation piece and/or digital artwork for a building facade that can be digital installations or sculptures, visual projections on Infiniti's buildings, 3D mapping experiments, or other new media works. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
In a television and online campaign, the company tells the stories of four notable African Americans it has dubbed "Iconic Achievers" and the ways in which they are going about changing the world. One video profiles singer, songwriter, author (and former model) Tyrese Gibson, telling the story of how he grew up in Watts, a section of Los Angeles. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
A new study by TrueCar says the company still has its mojo. The study, which is based on purchase behavior of more than four million car buyers in 2009 and 2010, gave Scion, Mitsubishi and Mazda the nod as the auto brands with the highest concentration of under-27 buyers. ...Read the whole story >>

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New Ad Campaigns

This weeks update from Amy:

Superstitious baseball fans. Kate Moss seduces a rabbit, for fashion, natch. Let's launch!

SimfyA talking unibrow offers its owner great music advice but still comes off as creepy in a German TV ad for music subscription service simfy. Singing the awesome Kajagoogoo song "Too Shy" while getting ready for work, a man's unibrow introduces him to the streaming world of simfy. Freaked out by his talking unibrow, the man shaves it off. Finally. Naturally, the man's eyebrows now do the talking, or should I say singing? Watch it here. Jung von Matt/Fleet created the ad, directed by Brian Lee Hughes of Stink, Berlin.

San Francisco GiantsBaseball fans are a superstitious bunch. San Francisco Giants fans are looking for a repeat World Series win, so they're replicating actions from last year, even if that means breaking an arm. Comcast launched a series of ads for its "Let's repeat last year" campaign that highlights the lengths fans will go to ensure a repeat championship. One man broke his arm in three places when he fell from a ladder. He's confident his orange cast was the reason the Giants won the World Series. So it seems perfectly normal for the man to jump off a ladder and break his arm again. It's for the team. See it here. Mom intentionally takes her daughter's hamster outside, repeating last summer's incident when the hamster was briefly lost. It might have been the reason the Giants won. Watch it here. Each ad drives viewers to a Web site where fans can Tweet their baseball superstitions. Don't forget to include the hashtag, #helpthegiantswin. BBDO San Francisco created the campaign.

HeinekenHeineken Light launched "Snakeskin Jacket," a TV spot for its "Occasionally Perfect" campaign. The spot shows a debonair man donning his snakeskin jacket for all occasions, even ones where the jacket would be deemed "too much," like a job interview or 18 holes of golf. The snakeskin jacket is a perfect fit for a secret offshore charity snake-fighting event and, coupled with a Heineken Light, the night is deemed perfect. See the ad here, created by Wieden+Kennedy New York.

AT&TAT&T launched a hysterical TV spot highlighting the iPhone's ability to let users talk and surf simultaneously. The phone makes winning live radio trivia contests a breeze. A woman sits in a living room overrun with contest prizes. There are multiple coffee makers, gift baskets, a snowboard and an oversized chess set. A radio DJ asks her a difficult geography question: what is the deepest lake in the U.S.? She answers the question with ease and is offered two prizes that she already owns. When she's offered a day with '70s rocker Edgar Winter, she opts for another "bouncy castle" since Winter is already a fixture in her home. Watch the ad here, created by BBDO New York.

Los Angeles MissionThe Los Angeles Mission, an organization that helps homeless men, women and children in Los Angeles and the Skid Row area, launched a sobering PSA to coincide with the group's 75th anniversary. "Quick Fix" shows that there is no fast fix when it comes to homelessness, and that changing a person's outward appearance doesn't solve or remedy inner struggles. A homeless man is taken off the streets of L.A. for a daylong makeover, similar to makeover programs seen on TV. The man gets a manicure, haircut, time in a tanning bed and new clothes. Then he's returned to where he was picked up on the streets, and left to fend for himself. Problem not solved. See the PSA here, created by 180LA.

US Air ForceThe US Air Force launched "Aerovac," the service's latest "It's not science fiction" ad. But is it fiction? A slew of planes arrive at a disaster scene, eagerly looking for survivors. A woman and children are found and rushed onto planes with high-tech medical equipment. This I believe. When the plane changes color and armor mid-air, I'm left intrigued. Do planes like this exist? Watch it here. Great special effects provided by MassMarket with editing by Arcade Edit. GSD&M Idea City created the ad.

Kate Moss seductively dances for a rabbit in an ad for Dream Collection for Basement but the rabbit seems unphased. Moss is scantily clad and swaying to a cover of Brenda Lee's 1950s' hit "Sweet Nothin's." Once Moss offers the rabbit a bouquet of carrots, he changes his tune and gifts Moss with a dress from Basement's Dream Collection. A kiss is imminent until an alarm clock sounds. Was it all a dream? Unlikely, for Moss is wearing her gifted dress and surrounded by adorable baby bunnies. Watch the ad here, created by Dittborn & Unzueta Terna and edited by Diego Panich of Wild(child).

Poker LottoBritish Columbia Lottery Corporation launched an amusing ad for Poker Lotto, a new game that gives players the chance to win instantly at purchase and again later in a nightly drawing. Since the game offers players more than one chance, outtakes and bloopers make up the entire spot. While shooting the ad, the actor walks too close to the camera, his cell phone goes off and a wall falls down. "It's good to have more than once chance" closes the ad, seen here and created by DDB Canada, Vancouver.

I hope Joe gets a brand new Honda from the car company when he hits the million-mile mark. That's some feat. Joe lives in Norway, Maine and drives roughly 62,000 miles yearly. His 1990 Honda Accord still runs great and is slated to hit 1 million miles this September. Honda is following Joe's journey on its Facebook page and as of this afternoon he only had 16,529 miles to go. Watch the intro video here, created by RPA.

Hotel Tonight AppRandom iPhone App of the week: Spontaneity is rewarded with HotelTonight, an app for booking same-day hotel deals or getting out of a bind when a flight gets canceled. The app lets users book rooms until 2am and offers 3 hotel options every day per city: Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Users who download the app receive a $25 credit towards their first booking and another $25 credit for every friend they refer who books a room. HotelTonight also provides location details, public transportation routes and whether or not you'll get free WiFi or complimentary breakfast. The app is free in the App Store.

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

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Your Schedule

This is a lesson I have to force myself to relearn every once in awhile:

Daily Sales Tip: Cushion Your Schedule

Phone calls, drop-in visitors, commuting time between appointments, and emergency calls from customers with problems will continue to be problems no matter how carefully you plan.

As a general rule, add about 20 percent to the estimated time you think an activity will take. This should give you enough leeway to react to serious unanticipated problems while focusing most of your attention on scheduled priorities.

Source: Adapted from The New Science of Selling and Persuasion by William T. Brooks, CEO of The Brooks Group (2009)

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Raise your hand if you knew that Wendy's and Arby's were jointly owned.

Put your hand down, because they aren't anymore. Details below:

by Karl Greenberg
Suzuki has more reason than ever to talk up its auto business here, as vehicles like the Kizashi sedan are no longer essentially Korean Daewoos built by GM. Marketing Daily caught up with Steve Younan, director of marketing for Suzuki's automotive division in the U.S., at the Meadowlands in New Jersey for the kick-off of the Suzuki Kicks road show. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
"In all of the surveys we've done, price comes in as the number one reason people don't buy 3DTVs,"'s Andrew Eisner tells Marketing Daily. "All things being equal, what we're saying is that consumers will go for [3DTVs], even if it's only for the odd movie or sporting event." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
In one spot, "Something New," a woman prepares a meal with "perfectly seasoned," reduced-fat chicken sausage, as her inner voice reveals that the ulterior motive is creating the perfect moment in which to tell her husband that she's signed them up for dancing lessons. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
A new study from YouGov BrandIndex says consumers are actually losing interest in domestic car brands, while luxury and international brand perception is improving despite shortages from the earthquake off the coast of the nation. ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
The new Wrist Blaster cup filled with an Alienade Slurpee beverage is modeled after the mysterious, glowing shackle that encircles the hero's wrist in the movie. The cup emanates a blue backlight with the flip of a switch. Retailing for $6.99, the collectible cup includes the first Slurpee fill-up. ...Read the whole story >>

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Making Impressions

Chuck McKay shares with us a ton of excellent advice:

How to Instantly Make a Poor Customer Impression

Jun 8th, 2011 | | Category: Credibility, Critical Non-Essentials, Fresh Catch
Restaurant Breakfast

Restaurant Breakfast

Roger met me at a local family restaurant. With the ease of old friends not having seen each other for months, we slipped into a “catching up” conversation over breakfast.

I casually asked, “How’s your food, Rog?” Roger paused, considered, and told me, “It’s quite good.

I pointed to the ceiling fan roughly ten feet to my left, and said, “Notice the dust build-up on the fan?” Roger confessed he hadn’t. I directed his attention to the rear door, and asked, “Can you see the cobwebs on the Exit sign from here?” Roger admitted that he could. I pointed out the filthy black build up on the air return vent next to the kitchen.

Again I asked, “How’s the food taste now, Roger?” He replied, “Not as good.

I wanted to know why. Roger looked at me, and disappointedly told me, “If the front of the house is this filthy, I can only imagine how disgusting the kitchen must be.

Critical Non-Essentials

Dr. Paddi Lund

Dr. Paddi Lund

One wouldn’t think restaurants have much to do with dentistry, but there is a commonality.

People don’t have any specific knowledge as to whether the practitioner they see is any good at dentistry. They aren’t qualified to judge his education, experience, or even the quality of his fillings.

But, they do know how to recognize that the florescent lights in his hallway are flickering, and that he’s out of paper towels in the men’s room.

Australian Dentist, Paddi Lund, named these little signs that your business is properly attended to as “Critical Non-Essentials.” They are items which have no effect on the service one provides, but have tremendous influence on the opinions of customers about the quality of the work performed.

The florescent tubes and paper towels are non-essential to the practice of dentistry. They are critical to patient assessment of the dentist’s competence.

So the patients conclude a dentist who won’t keep his practice equipped and stocked with the basics can’t be a very good business person. By extension, he’s probably not a very good dentist, either.

Clean return air vents are non-essential to food service. They are critical to the customer’s assessment of food quality.

Vacuumed carpets and tidy shelves are non-essential to fabric sales. They are critical to customer assessment of fabric quality.

Interestingly, it isn’t just the critical non-essentials that form people’s opinions of our businesses.

One Man’s “Untidy” is Another Man’s “Creative.”

We expect novelists to work in cluttered offices. Neat, tidy, everything-in-its-place organization would be out of character. But an attorney working in a disorganized, untidy office projects incompetence.

And florescent lights hanging by chains from the ceiling are perfectly appropriate for a warehouse shopping club, but woefully inadequate for a jewelery.

In general, softer surfaces, subdued colors, wall treatments, indirect lighting, and less noisy showrooms prepare shoppers for higher prices. They also help customers to “rank” us within our professions. And then they compare us to our competitors.

A carpeted store with wallpaper, indirect lights, and soft music will project better quality merchandise than a store with cement floors, painted cinderblock walls, and loud echoes of forklifts.

But, if that second store is impeccably clean, while the first store’s windows are grimy and restroom trash baskets are overflowing, you can predict where people will prefer to shop.

Consciously or not, people judge our competence both by their expectations of our profession, and by those critical non-essentials.

If those non-essentials are so important, why doesn’t everyone pay closer attention to them? Mostly because the change from excellent to unacceptable is so gradual.

And when businesses are running as lean as most are today, there simply isn’t anyone assigned the responsibility of checking the volume of the background music or the dates on the magazines in the waiting room.

We Need Systems

If each business had a list of assignments that was checked before they opened each day, and periodically throughout the day, it wouldn’t much matter who was on duty, would it? The work of the company would be done, and those non-essentials which contribute so much to each business’ image would be attended to as well.

If you don’t have a checklist, create one. Do it today.

When I’m evaluating a new client (and his competitors) I use a proprietary list of over 100 points at which customers come into contact with the company. Mine is organized by our five senses.

What contributes to imperfections customers could see, hear, or smell? What will they touch? What can they taste?

What will contribute to your customers first impressions? Their last? Does their experience end at check out? In the parking lot? Or when you follow-up after the sale?

Your checklist may resemble that of other businesses, but it won’t be identical. How could it?

What About Customer Referrals?

Even if you never “wow” a customer, over time, what do you think will happen if you never disappoint?

Does your company use such a system? Join the conversation, and tell us about it.

If not, I’d suggest you start one today. It makes your job much easier when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Questions about identifying critical non-essentials in your business may be directed to Or call Chuck at 304-208-7654.

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Opening Doors with Cost Savings

from my 2009 archives:

From Art Sobczak:

This Week's Tip:
How to Cut Their Costs and
Raise Your Sales


An entire special section in the Wall Street
focused on businesses cutting costs.

A USA Today article discussed how
more people are opting for credit cards that
just don't give airline or other travel points,
both those that can cut mortgage payments,
or reduce their monthly interest expenses.

And as you likely have experienced, buyers
everywhere have been instructed to squeeze
their suppliers for the best deal.

Yes, a hot issue today is cutting costs.

And, any biz school student can tell you that
to increase profits, you can increase revenues,
or, you guessed it, cut costs.

Is that something you can affect?

How do you help companies or individuals
control or cut costs? (Which, in turn, increases

How are you doing it?

Of course, before you go crazy with the
idea, it's important to understand whether
your market is interested in cutting costs.
If so, capitalize on it.

Here are some specific ways to do so.

During Conversations With People Other
Than Your Decision Maker

As I always preach, get information from
anyone and everyone before speaking with
your decision maker. So, ask questions
of admin assistants, others in your buyer's
department, or anyone for that matter:

"What are the initiatives in your division/
group/department? Cutting costs? Increasing

"Has there been an emphasis on cutting
spending lately?"

Then, if you learn, or know, that cost
cutting and expense control is important,
you can work that into your call strategy.
Here are ways to do so.

In Your Opening Statements
Based on what you know about your prospects
and customers, you could use words and phrases
like these. Think of how you could customize
these to to fit in what you sell and what you
could do for them.

For example, you could say,

"Ms. Prospect we help companies to ..."

...cuts the costs of...

...reduce expenses on...

...trim the fat from...

...lower the payments on...

...lessen the...

...control the costs of...

...reduce interest rates on ...

...eliminate the waste of...

...minimize the number of ...

...prevent increases in ... less for...

...get discounts on...

...increase the amount of ____ they get,
for the same price they're paying now.

...reduce spending on...

...delay increases in...

...consolidate the bills for...

...take advantage of credits for...

...reduce their debt...

Of course, there are many other ways to
communicate how you can help control costs.
Saving time is another major area. Think of
ways you can include that as well.


In your questioning, it's important to help
understand where they're bleeding.

Then, open the wound wider.

"What's that costing you?"

"What other costs are you incurring?"

"How is that affecting overall profits?"

The language of cost is universal. It touches
a nerve. If you can affect it, and it's something
that is important to them, that's a recipe for
your sales success.

Go and Have Your Best Week Ever!


Quote of the Week
Don't bunt. Aim out of the ballpark."
David Ogilvy

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

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tuesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

The last time someone asked me to "Cut the cord" was 25 years ago.

Now that daughter of mine has her own little one.

That's not what they're talking about in the 1st story:

by Aaron Baar
"It's not the gloom and doom that was predicted a few years back," Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power, tells Marketing Daily. "In the two- to three-year window, the current model is still viable." ...Read the whole story >>
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
"Consumer banking is about marketing and how marketing gets done is changing. Banks like Ally and ING Direct are simply ahead in the consumer banking marketing game. What they have succeeded in doing (perhaps with the luxury of a blank slate) is engaging with customers online in a new and powerful way." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
The global Halal food market is estimated to be worth around $650 billion annually. "Companies like Nestle have been manufacturing many of its brands using Halal processes and securing Halal accreditation to fast-track its growth in Muslim markets." ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
The latest numbers are in, and it looks like consumer enthusiasm for private-label brands hasn't been slowed by the recovery: Dollar market share for private-label products hit all time highs in supermarkets, drugstores and all channels. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Garden Protein International, makers of the Gardein line of meat-free foods, in partnership with the Meatless Monday organization, has launched a national initiative to convince even meat-lovers to try a "flexitarian" diet this summer. ...Read the whole story >>

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The Shrinking Majority

When I was a kid, we had 6 to 8 radio stations and 3 tv stations as our only form of local electronic media.

1 radio station, WOWO commanded a 60+ share of the market in the morning drive time.

That means more than 6 of every 10 persons age 12 and older listening to the radio between 6 and 10 in the morning, listened to Bob Sievers.

With the expansion of choices has come fragmentation of audiences.

This applies to more than just measuring radio listenership. Check out this report from Marketing Profs:

The End of the 'Average American'

"Fifty years ago, the concept of John Doe, an average American in a relatively even society where vast numbers of people had similar consumer needs, was real," writes Karen Talavera at MarketingProfs. But results from the 2010 census—due to be released this summer—will show just how much that picture has changed. For marketers, the message is simple: There's no such thing as an "average American" anymore.

  • No racial or ethnic segment is a majority in our two most populous states—California and Texas—or in our ten largest cities.
  • Households headed by married couples are now a minority, down from a two-thirds majority 25 years ago.
  • Life expectancy is up, and elders often live with children and grandchildren.

"One-size-fits-all messaging isn't going to cut it," argues Talavera. "It will seem wildly off-base and irrelevant, especially if you attempt it in your email and social media marketing—avenues in which instantaneous feedback and listening is expected."

She has advice like this for your online, mobile and social media strategies:

Segment, segment, segment. The more you know about individual customers, the more relevant your messaging can be. Age, gender, location, household composition, marital/family status and ethnicity all matter. But don't forget about life stages like new parents, families with children and empty nesters.

Trust, but verify. As the population diversifies, customers might find themselves in multiple segments, making hard-to-predict decisions. Solicit their preferences with frequent surveys, but compare their responses to demonstrated behavior.

The Po!nt: "Until you dig deep into your customer data—demographics, offer responses, media preferences, survey answers, and more—you may have assumptions about your customers that are entirely untrue," concludes Talavera.

Source: MarketingProfs.

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Wisdom from Harvey

More Wisdom from Harvey

The ABCs of negotiating

By Harvey Mackay

As a kid, I practiced the art of negotiating daily with my parents and teachers. I continued to hone my skills as I grew, eventually buying a small struggling envelope company. Over decades as a business owner and salesman, I've probably spent as much time in negotiations as any other part of my job. I know you can't negotiate anything unless you absolutely know the market. And I always let the other person talk first.

Those valuable lessons have become my ABCs of negotiating:

A is for authority. Always, before you start any

negotiation, look beyond the title and make sure that the person you're dealing with is in a position of authority to sign off on the agreement.

B is for beware the naked man who offers you his shirt.

If the customer can't or won't pay what the deal is worth, you don't need the sale.

C is for contracts. The most important term in any

contract isn't in the contract. It's dealing with people who are honest. Whenever someone says, "Forget the contract, our word is good enough," maybe yours is, but his or hers usually isn't.

D is for dream. A dream is always a bargain no matter

what you pay for it.

E is for experience. When a person with money meets

a person with experience, the person with the experience winds up with the money, and the person with the money winds up with the experience.

F is for facts. Gather all the facts you can on both sides

of the negotiation. Remember, knowledge does not become power until it is used.

G is for guts. It takes plenty of guts to hold firm on your position, and just as many to know when to make concessions.

H is for honesty. Not only is it the best policy, it is the

only policy. Your reputation for honest dealings will keep doors open that get slammed in others' faces.

I is for information. In the long run, instincts are no

match for information.

J is for judgment. If a deal sounds too good to be true,

it is.

K is for know about no. If you can't say yes, it's no.


L is for leaks. The walls have ears. Don't discuss any

business where it can be overheard by others. Almost as many deals have gone down in elevators as elevators have gone down.

M is for maybe -- the worst answer you can get.

N is for never say no for the other person. Make them turn down the deal, not you.

O is for options. Keep your options open, because the first negotiation isn't usually the only negotiation.

P is for positioning. They can always tell when you need the sale more than they need the deal.

Q is for questions. Question every angle, motive and outcome. Not out loud necessarily, but so that you are satisfied that you understand the opposition's strategy and can respond.

R is for reality check. In any negotiation, the given reason is seldom the real reason. When someone says no based on price, money is almost never the real reason.

S is for smile -- and say no, no, no until your tongue bleeds. If the deal isn't right for you, stay calm, stay pleasant and just say no.

T is for timing. People go around all their lives saying, "What should I buy? What should I sell?" Wrong questions: "When should I buy? When should I sell?" Timing is everything.

U is for ultimatum. Never give an ultimatum unless you mean it.

V is for visualization. If you can visualize your presentation, the objections that will be tossed back at you, and your response to those means you are already ahead of the game.

W is for win-win. A negotiation doesn't have to have a winner and a loser. Everyone should come out winning something.

X is for (e)xit strategy. Decide in advance when you will withdraw from negotiating, when you can no longer achieve what you need or when the other side cannot be trusted to negotiate fairly.

Y is for yield. What will this deal yield for you? What will you have to yield to make it work?

Z is for zero in on what you want, what you need, and what you are willing to concede.

Mackay's Moral: Agreements prevent disagreements.

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