Saturday, November 27, 2010

You're Too Passionate

About stuff that others don't care about.

From the WonderBranding blog:

The Danger Of Being Infatuated With Your Business

Posted: 17 Nov 2010 10:27 AM PST

Loving your business is a good thing.

Being infatuated with it is not.

Loving your business demands commitment, focus, and the willingness to “work on the relationship” in a way that strengthens your company and enhances the experience of your customer.

Infatuation is defined as a foolish, extravagant, feeling that doesn’t always require sound judgement. You put your business on a pedestal. You believe it’s the brightest, most beautiful thing in the world – so much so, that you almost dare people to “compare” your business with the competition.

And that is where the danger lies.

Nine times out of ten, the things you believe about your business AND the competition are skewed. Seriously skewed.

You think your customer service couldn’t be better. You love the displays in your retail store. You think the competition’s employees are not nearly as nice or as well trained as yours. You believe you have the absolute, best-of-the-bunch, world-class business in your category.

Then why is the competition beating the pants off of you?

It’s time for you to take a serious look at your PEF Personal Experience Factor.

1) Mystery shop the competition. Go out on your own and spend some quality time at each of your major competitors’ locations. Don’t just walk in and out – hang around, window shop, and get a sense of atmosphere. Look at inventory, and how it’s displayed. Check out the lighting. See how many employees greet you and ask if you need help. Try to absorb as much about the business as you can. When you go back out to your car, write down notes (or record them into a voice recorder) immediately. You don’t want to lose a thing.

2) Send a troop of mystery shoppers out on a mission. Either recruit customers who you know can be objective, or hire a company that specializes in mystery shopping. Develop a comprehensive questionnaire (there are many examples on the Internet) and send out the troops to visit the same locations that you did.

Then – here’s the hard part – sit down and compare their findings with yours. You’re probably in for a shock. In all my years in the marketing industry, only ONE company has had a healthy sense of self and knew what it had to do to compete with other businesses. Make a set of good, solid notes, being sure to highlight those finding that greatly differ from yours.

3) Finally, go back and shop the competition one more time. This time, look at it through the eyes of a customer. Review your notes before going inside. Look for the good things, from the perspective of trying to learn from this business. After you leave, see if you can jot down a few things that your staff could do to improve the customer’s experience.

Be in love with your business, don’t be infatuated by it. Infatuation means you have a big blind spot, one that could prevent anyone from falling in love with your company.

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How to Be Ignored

from Villing & Company:

Marketing Like a Newborn: If You Keep Up That Annoying Screaming, You're Going to Be Ignored.

Nov. 19, 2010

Nathan DeSelm
Nathan DeSelm

Marketing Like a Newborn: If You Keep Up That Annoying Screaming, You're Going to Be Ignored.

On November 2, I became a father.

Although the labor and the delivery might as well have been scripted by Stephen King himself, the end result seems to have been worth it. My wife, Lisa, and I had a baby girl named Leliana Belle, and so far it’s been a great experience.

However, the two days in the hospital didn’t really prepare us for the first night we brought her home.

Evidently, the accommodations we’d prepared weren’t up to her standards, so we ended up pulling an all-nighter trying to pacify an irate newborn with the very limited tools at our disposal. No amount of laps around the living room or rocking in the chair by her royal subjects seemed to satisfy the tiny, rampaging tyrant.

As I sat in that chair at 4 a.m., bloodcurdling screams just inches from my ears, I’m ashamed to admit that I missed the previous democratic regime of my wife and me; the new infant monarchy system was beginning to try my patience.

The next day, I immediately went to Walmart and made two purchases:

Cone of Silence

Even though a baby’s cry can be between 85 and 110 dB, when I entered my newly purchased “cone of silence,” even her most spirited wails sounded like distant sighs. Problem solved!

After those first couple nights, Leliana’s been much more cooperative. However, a couple nights ago around 1 a.m., she again had some royal decrees that we couldn’t quite interpret. We decided that we’d let her go for around 10 minutes or so to see if she would calm herself down. Lisa and I both laid down to the faint sounds of what could only be infant torture coming through the baby monitor.

At 7:40 a.m., my alarm went off.

I think that the same thought gradually burrowed its way into our minds as Lisa and I drifted into consciousness, “did our two-week-old baby just sleep through the entire night?” As the fog of sleep lifted a bit further, another thing became apparent: Leliana was still crying!

Now, in order to avoid an uncomfortable visit from Child Protective Services, we’re going to go ahead and assume that during those six hours EVERY member of the DeSelm household was enjoying a full night of peaceful sleep. It’s at least logically possible, so we’re going with it.

Now, for those of you who need this metaphor spelled out, here’s the point. If your marketing plan involves screaming your marketing messages into the marketplace with no strategy or clear message, people will tune you out. They’ll either tune you out subconsciously, like we did when we fell to sleep to the sounds of Leliana’s crying. Or, they’ll tune you out consciously, using TiVo, ad-blockers or alternate media as their form of ear protection.

Too much of the marketing I see and hear is like a screaming baby…desperate for attention without a coherent or relevant message. We expect this from newborns, but don’t pretend that your company will get the same understanding. If you keep making noise just to be heard, without delivering messages that are relevant to your audience, it’s likely they will stop listening to you altogether.

If you would like to receive your own personal "subscription" to Villing & Company’s News & Views, click here to get free updates by e-mail or RSS. If you prefer to get updates on Facebook, visit the Villing Facebook Page and click the "Like" button next to our name.

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Avoiding the BS

from Steve Clark:

“Just Send Me Some Literature……”

The Drill

You know the drill. You are talking with a prospect either face to face or on the phone and they try to blow you off by saying something like, “Can you leave me some literature or can you fax or email me something.” When you hear this, your gut tells you they have no interest in what you are saying but you are still tempted and feel pressure to do what they ask. Instead of wasting your time by becoming a facilitator to their wishes, stop and address the issue head on. When you do this you will discover that, indeed, they either have no interest in what you are saying or you will uncover a legitimate interest. Either way you eliminate wasting your time in worthless follow up.

Depending on personality style there are several responses that can be used. Although these responses differ in subtlety, they all confront the ‘put offs’ head on. If you fail to confront the BS and Intellectual Smoke that you hear you will fall victim to endless follow ups and will feel like a schmuck.

Below are some word for word scripts that I have used and found very effective:

For the Direct Personality Style:

___________I appreciate that, may I ask you a question? (Wait for response – they will say yes 95% of the time) Usually, when people tell me to send them some literature they have no real interest in what I am saying and they are simply being polite and trying to get rid of me. Is that what you are telling me?

If they say yes then thank them for their time and move on. If they say no, then say, ______“I’m confused what are you trying to tell me”? Then shut up and listen.


“__________ I appreciate that but let’s be realistic here. I can send you all the information in the world, but if you’re not ready or able to take advantage of it then we’re just wasting each other’s time. Now I’m happy to send you some information that will help you (state your unique benefit here), but before I do that I need to ask you a few questions. Are you ok with that?

For the Extroverted Social Personality Style:

___________, I appreciate your interest, however, it is my experience that information like this, even when it’s valuable, usually just gets buried under a stack of paper and is never really looked at seriously.(Pause) So,______ may I make a suggestion? (wait for answer) Now that we’re on the phone together, why don’t we take 5 minutes and address specifically what you are looking for and then we can both decide if it makes sense to have any further conversation. Does that make sense?

For the Introverted Cautious Personality Style:

______, I appreciate your interest. If you are like me you don’t want to be rude when you are not really interested. To keep from being rude, I just tell reps to send their information and then I hope they lose my number. ______, please be honest with me, is that what’s happening here?”

Try using the style that best fits your personality and see what happens.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & read...

by Karl Greenberg
The spots look like they were shot in the duo's own living room with web cams, albeit with a much more scintillating color palette than one usually sees on self-produced social videos. The creative also has something of a music-studio feel with brightly colored Hyundai vehicles as props. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
Shopper marketing has been getting plenty of buzz lately, as both retail and national brands try to figure out better ways to reel in increasingly price-savvy consumers. Turns out some of that consumer cunning, first inspired by the recession and now fueled by technology, might be permanent after all. Marketing Daily asked John Ross, CEO of Shopper Sciences and former CMO of The Home Depot, for an update. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
The desirability of tablet computers could mean strong results for Apple, because no one has yet to come up with an Android-enabled device that competes well with the iPad,'s Andrew Eisner says. "Apple's going to have a great holiday season because Google forgot [Android] was supposed to work on tablets," Eisner says. "Apple's got this season in the bag." ...Read the whole story >>

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Simple or Complex?

from one of my clients,

Deep and Simple: Mr. Rogers Applied to Marketing

Oct. 22, 2010

Brad Rosier
Written by:
Brad Rosier

Deep and Simple: Mr. Rogers Applied to Marketing

Over the weekend I attended several films at the Heartland Film Festival here in Indianapolis. One of the movies that really struck a chord with me was “Mr. Rogers and Me,” a documentary directed by Benjamin Wagner about the famous PBS children’s show host and his impact on the filmmaker.

Wagner had vacationed in a beach house next to Fred Rogers years before. In a conversation between the filmmaker and the TV icon, Rogers asked about Wagner’s job as a MTV television producer. After hearing Wagner describe his experiences, Rogers said simply, “I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” This statement inspired the whole movie and got me thinking about how that idea applies to marketing.

“marketers should be looking for creative opportunities to be deep and simple”

To me, much of marketing does seem shallow and complex. Looking across the whole landscape of it, we see a lot of bells and whistles and not much substance. But I don’t see why it has to be that way. Why can’t marketing be deep and simple like Mr. Rogers says? I’ll go one step further. Maybe it should be deep and simple.

Now I’m not saying there’s never a place for complexity. I’m a huge fan of motion graphics, which can be very visually complex. And some products lend themselves naturally to skin-deep messages. The problem with shallow isn’t that it’s bad in itself, it’s just easy to dismiss because it doesn’t really matter in the long run. Since it doesn’t matter, people tend to forget about it. Because of that, I think marketers should be looking for creative opportunities to be deep and simple as much as possible.

When I think about stuff that sticks with me, things that convince me and move me to action, they are often deep and simple. You might be thinking that deep and simple won’t sell, but I sincerely think that companies can communicate in deep and simple ways and if they do so, I think they will benefit in the long run.

When I say deep in a marketing sense, I don’t mean it has to be some sort of mind-altering existential nugget of truth that will change the world. I think simple honesty about a product or service can run quite deep. Authenticity is deep. I’m reminded of Thom’s article about Domino’s Pizza admitting that their product was poor and publicly going back to the drawing board to improve their pizza. Messages like this resound with people. Sure, we’re just talking pizza, but that sort of old-fashioned honesty is attractive. It builds trust.

When we were kids, Mr. Rogers taught us to have love and respect for ourselves and others. It’s so simple that as adults it sounds overly sentimental, even cliché, but it’s really not. If we can do this with authenticity in the way we communicate about the brands we build and represent, I think it will pay off in the long run.

You can check out more about “Mr. Rogers and Me” here.

If you would like to receive your own personal "subscription" to Villing & Company’s News & Views, click here to get free updates by e-mail or RSS. If you prefer to get updates on Facebook, visit the Villing Facebook Page and click the "Like" button next to our name.

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Follow & Repeat

5 Steps to be Better:

Path to Improvement

by Roy H. Williams

Is there any part of your business you’d like to improve?

Listen to me: You won’t improve what you don’t measure.

Here’s how to get the ball rolling:

Step One: Identify, clearly, what you’re trying to make happen.

Step Two: Determine how progress might be measured. (This is the hardest step by far.)

Step Three: Measure current performance - prior to making any changes - to create a baseline.

Step Four: Implement a change you believe will alter the outcome.

Step Five: Measure again, and compare the results to your baseline measurement.

Repeat steps Four and Five until satisfied.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday Prediction Part 2

Another report about tomorrow:

Survey Predicts Black Friday Will Be 'Retail Bonanza'

The day after Thanksgiving will give retailers the biggest sales boost in U.S. history heading into the busy holiday shopping season, according to new research released from America's Research Group/UBS.

"The last Friday in November will be incredible for every retail category, even those not normally seen as selling Christmas gifts," said Britt Beemer, Chairman and CEO of America's Research Group. "The highest number of people in 20 years of conducting shopping surveys said they will shop on Black Friday. This is incredible."

The findings were based on a survey conducted the first weekend in November. The survey also showed that of the nearly 50% shopping, 65% -- also the highest number in the 20 years of America's Research Group's Christmas Shopping Surveys -- will shop early bird specials on Black Friday.

"As more and more shoppers look to holiday weekends to do their shopping, Black Friday this year should break every shopping record," Beemer said. ARG research has been 100% correct in its holiday shopping research over its 20-year history of taking these surveys. Even though the Survey showed that people will spend less this year -- at 54% this is also the highest number ever -- of that number many more will choose to hit the stores on Black Friday.

This year is different, too, because for the first time nearly half of respondents -- again, the highest number ever -- expect stores to be short-handed -- BUT -- for the first time, too, the rudeness factor is kicking in. A whopping 46.1% -- again the highest in survey history -- said they will leave if forced to wait in line.

Also on Black Friday, based on survey results, expect shoppers to use credit cards far less than they have ever done so up until this time. Last year, 2 in 5, or 38.5%. used credit cards to pay for Christmas gifts. This year that number is reduced in half with only 15.8% using credit cards this year.

(Source: America's Research Group, 11/16/10)

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Black Friday Prediction Part 1

Tomorrow is the day.

Last year I actually went out on Black Friday and bought a TV.

This year I'll just stay in my Turkey Coma, while the masses go crazy.

Flood of Pent-Up Consumer Demand Predicted for Black Friday

Get out your coffee and your coupons. Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, is about to get bigger.

For the past several years, Black Friday has ranked as the largest shopping day of the year, in both sales and traffic. But analysts say a host of factors is converging to make it likely that Black Friday 2010 will set a record.

Americans have been saving more money than usual, leaving them poised to make a big purchase. They are researching prices and compiling targeted shopping lists, opening their wallets only when they see a good deal on something they really want. And more consumers are delaying spending until a retailer has a specific sale event, usually tied to a weekend holiday, such as Black Friday or Memorial Day.

While no one is predicting the rampant discounting of the past two holiday seasons, retailers still are facing intense pressure. Shoppers have toned down their spending habits from the pre-recession binge, and that means retailers are forced to grow by taking market share from each other.

With so much spending enthusiasm distilled into one shopping day, merchants are doing all they can to grab a piece of the action.

"It's been a boring year in retail, but in the next six to eight weeks, it is going to break out into a civil war," said Brad Wilson, founder of, a Chicago-based online deal aggregator. "Retailers are fighting for a smaller pie, and the only way to win is to beat each other."

Wilson's Web site, launched in October, is already getting 20,000 visitors a day.

Meanwhile, the first Black Friday sales are starting this week.

Sears Holdings Corp. is bringing back its "Black Friday Now" sales, complete with doorbuster deals, at its Sears stores every Friday and Saturday leading up to Black Friday on Nov. 26. The campaign, which starts Oct. 29, gives the Hoffman Estates-based department store chain a chance to reel in sales before larger rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Inc. unleash their pricing power.

On the other hand, Banana Republic, the upscale clothing chain owned by Gap Inc., is doing the opposite. Knowing that its core customer avoids the Black Friday crowds but still wanting to get in on the action, Banana Republic is holding a "Not Black Friday" sale the Friday after Black Friday.

"This is going to be a problem throughout November as retailers will be attempting to attach the words 'Black Friday' to as many sales promotions as possible," the operators of, another Black Friday online deal aggregator, told its readers. "There will be very many good sales in the next five weeks leading up to Black Friday, but there will also be an equal amount of mediocre sales masquerading behind the Black Friday name."

Not everyone is buying into the Black Friday boom. Accenture, the consulting firm, said it sees signs of Black Friday apathy. In a survey released earlier this month, Accenture found that 47 percent of consumers intend to shop on Black Friday, compared with 52 percent last year.

Still, consumer electronics stores count on the day more heavily than other retailers, and this year will be no exception.

IBM Corp. forecasts a 4.6 percent rise in consumer electronics sales, to $20.9 billion, for the combined months of November and December from the same period in 2009, a feat that if reached would mark a post-recession high.

Consumer electronic sales in November alone are forecast to rise 4.8 percent, to $8.7 billion, from the same period last year, fueled in large part by Black Friday activity, according to the IBM analysis, released last Thursday.

While IBM doesn't forecast total retail holiday sales, its consumer electronics prediction exceeds the roughly 2 percent to 3 percent retail sales gain that various retail economists anticipate for the holiday season as a whole.

The forecast suggests retailers should be ready for a "robust" Black Friday, said Michael Haydock, global business services partner for IBM. Retailers that increase their staffs, bulk up on inventory and invest in advertising will have an advantage, he said.

Consumers no longer look at consumer electronics as discretionary purchases, but as necessities that make their households and offices run more smoothly, he said.

That logic makes it easier to spend.

"The consumer is recovering this year," Haydock said. "Last year the consumer was still tainted by the recession."

Another factor expected to fuel consumer electronic sales: 40-inch and 42-inch flat-screen TVs are dropping below $500 this holiday season, a psychological price barrier that should unleash a flood of pent-up demand at electronics stores, said consumer behavior researcher Brit Beemer, founder of America's Research Group in Charleston, S.C.

Yet, Beemer warns the following weeks will likely be quiet as shoppers go home and wait for the last-minute Christmas deals. He predicts shopping will happen in spurts, making it tough on merchants to figure out what shoppers are going to do next.

"I think it's going to be a crazy Christmas," he said.

(Source: Chicago Tribune, 10/21/10)

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It's not a Sales Job

It's a Relationship Job.

And on this Thanksgiving holiday, please pay heed to these wise words on relationshios from Jack Falvey:

A field sales job is like no other, and family support is a must. It doesn’t come with the territory. You have to earn their understanding and patience. It doesn’t come free, so invest whatever it takes in time and effort to make it and your family work for you. Professionally, you know enough about how to maintain good key account relations so that you earn your living with these skills. Avoid the syndrome of the shoemaker’s children going without shoes. On a local field day, take your spouse to lunch, if it can be done. No need to parachute in from the opposite coast for birthdays and anniversaries. Before you make major scheduling decisions, protect key dates. You will not have complete control over these things, but by putting them in the front of your priority list, you can oftentimes build in a quality of life that is not only acceptable but, in some cases, exceptional due to the flexibility field sales permits. Overnight travel and long local hours are not easy on anyone. There is no such thing as quality time. Quantity is all that counts. Make sure, if you must give your all for the company, nothing gets in the way of an equal commitment to your family.
FREE—“How the Best Get Better in Sales” Download it now.It’s one of the best sales meeting presentations you will ever hear.
FREELANCE to WSJ and BARRON'S (2011 Edition) Jack Falvey's latest book is now available on Kindle:
Is There Life After College 2010? Jack Falvey’s new book is now available on Kindleand on any PC from Amazon at $9.99. If you know anyone in the class of 2010, this will be a gift that will keep on giving. Read the reviews at

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Yeah, it's early....

by Karlene Lukovitz
In-stream video test program with Google exposed its skiing commercial to 7.7 million people, targeted to high-income skiers/snowboarders ages 25 to 54 in L.A., Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago and Phoenix. Forty-five percent watched the entire 30-second ad, and those who watched were found to be 33% more likely to consider Nevada as a vacation destination than those who saw other Nevada online ads. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
"When Facebook announced it was going to roll out its Places [app], that seemed like a natural fit for us," Nick Lambert tells Marketing Daily. "It's something new and 'techy' that people can have fun with, but every time someone checks in, it hits their news feed and tells all their friends that they're skiing at Sunday River." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Next up is perhaps the most critical campaign: the winter-tourism campaign to bring vacationers south. The effort comprises print, TV, out of home, and interactive elements. Print features images of visitors on beaches, rides at theme parks, boating, kayaking, and images of small towns and historic spots, matched with English and Spanish active-verb headlines like "Awaken," "Unleash," and "Embrace." ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
Beginning Dec. 2 and continuing every weekend until Christmas, Southwest Airlines and Windows will offer free holiday photos to people at 26 airports nationwide. Customers can stop by one of Santa's workshops in select Southwest Airlines airports to have their photo taken with Santa or in a holiday-themed backdrop. ...Read the whole story >>

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New Ad Campaigns

A day early due to Thanksgiving.... Here's Amy:

Canadians, stop the waste. "Like" a band by seeing them perform live. Let's launch!


1The New York Sports Club has a great sense of humor when it comes to airport security pat-downs and body scans. At least someone does. The company launched a print ad in the New York Post during the busiest travel week of the year and beyond, asking readers if airport pat-downs are the most action they're getting. If the answer is yes, we've got problems. Is that the real reason why travelers are refusing body scans? New York Sports Club wants consumers flying the friendly skies to be proud of their impending body scan or up-close-and-personal pat- down. If you're not content with either, then it's time for a gym membership. See the ad here, created by Octopus. Also check out a rejected ad from PETA, encouraging a vegan diet so airport body scans will be a thing to be proud of.

2Kent State University launched a print campaign for its WKSU Folk Festival, using the tagline, "Be Here to Hear It." The Nov. 17-20 event aimed to remind music lovers that hearing and experiencing live music trumps anything digital and downloadable. In addition to print ads, signage appeared above local Internet cafe and student lounge wall outlets where Web surfers plug in. "If your laptop dies, you can always play guitar and sing," read the sign, seen here. Five additional ads compare live music to songs heard online or via earbuds. Digital versions can't hold a candle to live performances. Headlines include: "Let your memory download the music for a change" and "Clapping your hands when you like a band is way better than clicking some Like button." See ads here, here, here, here and here, created by Marcus Thomas, Cleveland. Media buying was handled in-house.

3SELF Magazine launched a trade campaign called "iCurate My Life." Themed images, including a fit body and triple-stacked veggie burger, are juxtaposed with the magazine's core missions: "Fit is the New Fashion"; "Beauty (Inner and Outer) is the New Black"; "Health is the New Happiness" and "Food is the New Fuel." The campaign will be promoted on taxi-top billboards in New York City, and print fashion trades, like WWD. See the ads here, here, here and here, created in-house.

4BC Hydro reminds British Columbians that not wasting power is equally important as being green and conserving water. A TV spot illustrates extreme examples of waste, such as using a disposable razor once, eating one bite of an apple, leaving the water running in the kitchen sink and wrapping a sandwich in too much foil. The spot ends with a family going out and leaving a hall light on. "The most ridiculous thing about wasting power is that for some reason, we don't think it's ridiculous," says the voiceover. Well, what if I don't want a potential burglar to know that I'm not home? Solve that conundrum. Watch the ad here. DDB Vancouver created the campaign and OMD Vancouver handled the media buy.

5Random iPhone App of the week: Nike launched the Nike+ GPS App, allowing runners to visually map runs while tracking pace, distance, time and calories burned. Feedback from Paula Radcliffe and Lance Armstrong can be heard before, during and after workouts. There's a "Challenge Me" feature, pushing runners to run farther, faster, or longer than before. The app also tracks run history and wirelessly connects with to instantly save run data and share it on Twitter or Facebook. The App is available for $1.99 from the App Store.

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

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The Holiday called Christmas



'Christmas' Winning War on Christmas in Marketing Messages

But AFA Carries on Fight by Targeting Dick's Sporting Goods, as Retailer Promotes 'Holiday Shop'

NEW YORK ( -- The War on Christmas may be in its final days.

This season, merry Christmas -- not happy holidays or season's greetings -- will dominate retailer's marketing messages. There will be Christmas sales and Christmas trees and Christmas carols galore. That has the American Family Association, arguably one of the loudest voices advocating the use of Christmas in retailer's marketing messages over the past few years, predicting that its crusade could conclude in the next year or two.

Dick's Holiday Shop
Dick's Holiday Shop
Randy Sharp, director-special projects at the AFA, said that in the past five years the group has seen the percentage of retailers recognizing Christmas in their advertising rise from 20% to 80%. Just eight retailers are left on the group's list of "Companies Against Christmas."

It's also become more challenging to find a large, national retailer to single out for the group's annual boycott. This year, Dick's Sporting Goods, which boasts an online "Holiday Shop," will be the target of the boycott. The AFA is expected to send an Action Alert to its 2.3 million supporters on Friday morning. That alert will urge shoppers to boycott Dick's between now and Dec. 25. It also calls for consumers to email President-Chief Operating Officer Joseph Schmidt and then call Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hennion. The retailer declined to comment. In the past, Target, Sears, Gap Inc. and Walmart have been targets.

"We've had a complete flip," Mr. Sharp says. "The politically correct holiday verbiage is going away. Companies are getting the message."

Indeed, retailers that have found themselves the target of boycotts or media and consumer scrutiny have responded swiftly in recent years. Lowe's "Family Trees" were renamed "Christmas Trees," while Walmart's "Holiday Shop" is now a "Christmas Shop." Midway through the 2005 holiday season, Target, facing a boycott, announced its advertising messages would become more specific and include references to Christmas. And last year, Gap Inc. responded to a boycott by issuing a press release highlighting the use of the phrase "Merry Christmas" in its upcoming Old Navy ads.

Mr. Sharp stopped short of saying that he was surprised by how quickly and readily most retailers have changed their marketing. But he did point out that, especially in this type of economic environment, retailers are being careful not to alienate customers.

"Shoppers vote with their wallets every day," said Ellen Davis, a VP at the National Retail Federation. "[When it comes to boycotts,] retailers realize, 'It could just as easily have been us.'"

The NRF does not formally advise retailers on whether they should use the word Christmas, but Ms. Davis said it does provide statistics. This year's NRF/BigResearch survey found that 91% of consumers plan to celebrate Christmas, compared with 5% for Hanukkah and 2% for Kwanzaa.

"Retailers dipped their toe into the Christmas waters again last year, and there wasn't much push back. There wasn't a huge outcry from groups offended that retailers were saying Merry Christmas," said Ms. Davis. "We see the word Christmas being used much more this year than three or four years ago. The pendulum seems to have swung back."

The "extreme backlash" to generic holiday messaging likely caught retailers off guard in years past, Ms. Davis added. Now, phrasing around the holidays is much more strategic. "At this point, it's a conscious decision. It's not just whimsical phrases being tossed around in the marketing department," she said. "These are conversations that are now probably taking place in the C-Suite."

Retailers certainly tread carefully when it comes to the subject of Christmas. Major retailers such as JCPenney and Target said they don't have formal policies on in-store greetings. And retailers ranging from Gap to Macy's and RadioShack to Sears emphasized their inclusion and respect for shoppers of different beliefs, while noting that at least some of their marketing messages include the word Christmas. RadioShack, however, still appears on the AFA's list of "Companies Against Christmas." A RadioShack spokesman declined to comment on that distinction.

Plenty view the tactics of the AFA and other groups as bullying, but Mr. Sharp rejects that. "It's not bullying, it's consumer advocacy," he said. The AFA's stance is that retailers should not profit from Christmas, if they refuse to clearly acknowledge it. "When your advertising has trees and ornaments and gift wrapping, you're advertising Christmas, so don't call it holiday," Mr. Sharp said, adding that the group is not at all offended by Happy Hanukkah messages.

AFA's Naughty or Nice List*
*Incomplete list, click here for complete list.

Companies for Christmas
Company uses term "Christmas" on a regular basis.

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Cabella's
  • JCPenney
  • Kmart
  • Kohl's
  • Lowe's
  • Macy's
  • Nordstrom
  • Petsmart
  • Sears
  • Target
  • Walmart

Companies Marginalizing Christmas
Company refers to "Christmas" infrequently or in a single advertising medium.

  • Banana Republic
  • Gap
  • Old Navy
  • Limited Brands
  • Starbucks
  • Toys R Us
  • Whole Foods
Companies Against Christmas
Company may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description.
  • Barnes & Noble
  • CVS
  • Dick's Sporting Goods
  • Office Depot
  • RadioShack
  • Staples
  • Supervalu
  • Victoria's Secret

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Last night I was cleaning out my email and found the following from

By the way, even though we are about to kick off a long Thanksgiving day weekend in the USA, I have my usual 3 updates a day scheduled for every single day this year. You can subscribe via the links on the right side of this blog, you can follow me on Twitter, you can leave a comment. But most of all, my hope and prayer for you is that you find these articles to be enriching in your world.

Selling is Not a Numbers Game
Quote of the Week: "Experience is not what happens to a man;
it is what a man does with what happens to him."
— Aldous Huxley
Publisher's Note:

Four whole days off! The wait for Wednesday afternoon is on. Some of the people in our office remind me of fifth graders in those last few moments before the recess bell rings.

Thanksgiving is an exciting Holiday. However, friends, family, football and feasting sometimes overshadow expressing our feelings of gratitude.

When you sit down for your Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful for everyone and everything that makes it possible. Look your family and friends in the eye and express to them your gratitude for sharing this wonderful time together.
This week's free download entitled You Had me at Hello is a cool audio workshop with Tim Wackel on engaging customers. You'll find a link for the download at the end of this week's newsletter.

All the best,


Selling is Not a Numbers Game
by Tim Connor
It's interesting how one little word can make a big difference. For years, sales managers and trainers have been saying that selling is a numbers game. In fact, I can still recall my first sales manager telling me over 35 years ago, "If you see enough people, you will make enough sales." I realize now that he left out one very important word. He should have said, "If you see enough qualified people, you will make enough sales."

Over the years, I've learned that it's not just the numbers, folks; it's about focusing on prospects who qualify for your product or service. I'm not suggesting that you see fewer prospects. What I am suggesting is that sooner or later, focusing on numbers alone guarantees failure. Why? Because the more people you see, the more poor prospects you see, creating more rejection. The average salesperson cannot handle the amount of rejection that results from using this approach, which is why so many salespeople become discouraged and fail—or quit.

Think about it. Suppose you see or call 25 prospects a week. You close one out of five, which means you wasted most of your time on 20 poor prospects. If you took the time spent with those 20 poor prospects and invested it in more qualified prospects, or in cultivating the five sales you made into repeat or referral business, imagine what this would do for your career.

By focusing on the right prospects, you could potentially improve your closing ratio to one-third, or even one-half. Sadly, many managers and trainers still push the notion that you can't identify poor prospects until you see or spend time with them. I don't know why they still teach this nonsense; my guess it is that they don't know how to teach more effective prospecting, so they ask you to make up for it with more sales calls.

Here's a real recipe for success: do both. See or call more prospects and make sure they are qualified before giving them too much of your time and energy. This philosophy won't win me any popularity contests with some of my fellow sales trainers, nor with a few of my clients. But it works for me, and I'm suggesting it can work for you as well.

There are plenty of sales myths out there that simply don't cut it anymore. Actually, they never did—but who was going to question them? A new sales rep? A failing sales rep? I think not! Either way, here are a few myths to ponder:
Myth: People buy from people they like.
Truth: People buy from people they trust.
Myth: People buy because of your enthusiasm.
Truth: People buy because of their enthusiasm.
Myth: People buy what they need.
Truth: People buy what they want.
As you can see, a lot of misinformation is still being perpetuated by sales trainers and managers: outdated ideas that no longer make sense in the real world of selling. But few are more damaging than the notion that you should see as many people as possible in order to make your sales numbers. Instead, focus your time and energy on getting in front of qualified prospects. Then, and only then, will your closing ratio climb to where it needs to be.

Tim Connor is CEO of, Connor Resource Group, and Peak Performance Institute. He is a world renowned speaker, trainer, and best-selling author. Connor is a results oriented business coach and consultant who helps clients improve individual and organization performance. For more information visit:

Free Download of the Week. This week's free download is the one-hour audio workshop "You Had Me at Hello" by Tim Wackel. Get it before next week's newsletter when this download will be replaced with a new one. "You Had Me at Hello"

Quote: "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." — Seneca

Try selling without a phone. Go ahead, try. I doubt you'll get far. Sales professionals use the phone to gather information, set appointments, follow-up with prospects, conduct meetings and close sales. Art Sobczak is the Grand Master of doing business by phone. His newsletter covers every phone situation you can think of. You can subscribe here.

One-liner: I accidently put my car key in my door lock and my house started. — Stephen Wright

Power up Now to Sell More in 2011! Smart Selling Tools is offering a free, eye-opening Sales Software Needs Assessment. From sales compensation and territory management tools, to proposal creation and sales reporting tools, discover a solution that will help you sell more in the coming year. It takes just eight minutes and you'll get an in-depth analysis along with personalized recommendations. Get your assessment now.

Quote: "Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action." — W.J. Cameron

Give Us Your Feedback. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. My email address is I read and respond to every email I receive. Important: Please send your email to my address rather than hitting the reply button.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karl Greenberg
The company's deal with eBay Motors comprises a nationwide, online, new-car shopping experience where people can research, find and purchase a new Kia from among its 300-plus dealers who can list their new-vehicle inventory at The online channel launched new car sales this year and says the program derives from a California-based promotion with GM last year. ...Read the whole story >>
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
"We saw numbers for the Yahoo campaign that were 20 to 30% higher than what we originally expected based on similar initiatives," says Kevin Seaman, senior marketing manager at TIAA-CREF. "This online campaign drove phone inquiries to the call center, brought existing customers online to sign in to their accounts and prospects online to create an account or call for an advice session." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Facilitated by social media that let consumers follow their whereabouts, food trucks, vans and carts -- a phenomenon confined largely to key urban areas such as Los Angeles and Manhattan a year ago -- are now proliferating around the country, spurring the appearance of food-truck districts and "rodeos," reports Technomic. One example: Washington/Oregon-based Burgerville. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
Marketing Daily asked Judah Schiller, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, a San Francisco-based consulting company dedicated to "activating companies for good," to weigh in on the state of employee ambassadorship in a post-Jet Blue era. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
As the institution begins its recruiting for students for 2011, the language, typeface and style of its manifesto will begin appearing in print, television and online advertising, Teri Thompson, VP of marketing, tells Marketing Daily. "The creative is incredibly compelling and it is completely ownable by Purdue. And there's so much opportunity to play with it that our competitors cannot." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Cost of ownership was the biggest reason respondents gave for wanting to give up wheels. Eighty percent of the Millennial respondents said ownership is unattractive because of car payments, gas, parking and maintenance. Most would drive less if alternative transportation options were available. ...Read the whole story >>

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The Trust Factor

from Mediapost:

Trust Is A Must

If advertising is created to sell a product, service or even an idea, it's helpful if the message is not only clear but also believable to the intended audience. According to a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll of 2,098 U.S. adults surveyed online in October, only one in five American adults say they trust that advertising is honest in its claims all or most of the time. Rather, a majority say they trust that advertising is sometimes honest in its claims, and just over one in ten say that they never trust that advertising is honest in its claims.

Although all adults seem somewhat unsure about the believability of advertising claims, older adults are more suspicious than younger adults. While 90% of young adults aged 18-34 say they trust that advertising is honest in its claims at least sometimes, 86% of older adults agree. Of those, 35-44 say this, as do 84% of those 45-54, and 81% of those 55 years and older. Conversely, almost one in five adults 55 and older say that they never trust that advertising is honest, compared to less than one in ten 18-34 year olds who say the same.

Trust That Advertising And Its Claims Are Honest (All U.S. adults; % of Category)



Children in HH









Has Child in HH

No Children in HH

At least sometimes (NET)










All/Most of the time (NET)










All of the time










Most of the time






























Not at all sure










Source: Harris Interactive, November 2010

When asked who they trust to ensure that advertising is honest in its claims, Americans are split as 29% say that they trust regulation by the government to ensure advertising is honest in its claims, while 23% say they trust the self-regulation by advertisers and advertising industry more. However, half of Americans say they trust neither.

Just as younger adults showed less skepticism about advertising honesty, younger adults also show more confidence in the various regulatory checks and systems. Adults aged 18-34 are more likely than those 55 and older to say both that they trust government regulation (33% vs. 26%) and advertising self-regulation (26% vs. 18%) to ensure that advertising is honest. 56% of older Americans, 55 and older, say that they trust neither the industry nor the institution to regulate advertising honesty, compared to 44% of those 35-44 and 41% of 18-34 year olds.

Americans with higher education say they trust the government to regulate advertising much more than those with less formal educations do. Almost two in five who have graduated college say that they trust government regulation, compared to 29% who have attended, but not graduated, from college, and 22% who have not attended any college.

Most Trusted To Ensure That Advertising Is Honest In Its Claims (All U.S. adults; % of Category)




Most Trusted








H.S. or less

Some college

College grad +

Regulation by the government











Self-regulation by the advertisers and the ad industry






















Source: Harris Interactive, November 2010

The report concludes by noting that it seems regardless of what principles or statutes an advertiser conforms to, it may not convince many consumers about the quality of the product or promise being promoted. However, the fact that younger Americans are less skeptical than older Americans may be a positive. It's possible that both the honesty of ad claims and the regulation of the industry are improving, yet older Americans may still be cautious, especially if they have memories from previous negative experiences.

For additional information about this Harris Poll, pleast visit here.

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