Saturday, March 26, 2011

Breaking the Grandma Stereotypes

My wife is a boomer.

As I read this article from Mediapost earlier this week, I nodded in agreement with what it says about her and her friends:

What TED Can Teach Us About Marketing To Women
I recently attended the annual TED Conference, which gathers attendees each year to hear cutting-edge scientists, inspiring artists, and global reformers give their own versions of the famous 18-minute "TED Talks." You have probably seen (or been sent) some TED Talks yourself; all the talks I saw will soon be available to see and share.

As I made my way home after four days of these mind-blowing presentations, I started focusing on some underlying themes. One of those themes was the portrait TED painted (through its speakers) of Baby Boomer women and the true meaning of "aspiration."

I also found myself wondering how these themes will be discussed at this year's M2W Conference on April 13-14 in Chicago. M2W may not have as many inventors at TED, but it features a lot of speakers and attendees who think about marketing to women of all ages.

What Great Boomer Women Look Like

Most of the women speakers at TED were themselves Baby Boomers, and they reflected a wide array of female accomplishment:

  • Indra Nooyi, the 55-year old chairman and CEO of Pepsico, explained Pepsi's new mission statement: "Performance with Purpose." On the "purpose" side of that equation, she told the story of the "Pepsi Refresh Project,", where millions of citizens have nominated and voted for non-profit groups to receive grants from funds that Pepsi would have otherwise spent on commercials.
  • Edith Widder, 60, a biologist, conservationist, and deep-sea explorer, told us about her decades-long fascination with bio-illuminescence, the property that lets an infinite variety of deep-sea creatures produce light. Widder's lifelong passion has changed the way we see and protect 99% of living space on earth that takes place below the ocean's surface.
  • Julie Taymor, 58 and the creator of "The Lion King," identified her own creative impulse with an experience at the edge of an active New Zealand volcano, then compared that experience to the inferno she finds herself in now as the producer of Broadway's disaster-prone "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."
  • Amina Az-Zubair, a Nigerian reformer, told her own story growing up in a more prosperous Nigeria and now delivering meaningful results as she oversees a $1 billion investment in education to improve the lives of 70 million Nigerians who live in poverty.

As these speakers rolled across my memory, I thought of the portrait they painted of what it means to be a Boomer woman in the U.S. and the world. I saw passions and qualities that we hear about from women but rarely see reflected in any advertisement. Those qualities include:

  • An entrepreneurial spirit that is about doing well by doing good
  • A reforming instinct
  • A creative passion that never gives up
  • Knowledge and wisdom that come from years of careful observation

Marketers always talk about what it presenting "aspirational" models for consumers. In the case of Boomer women, that usually means presenting them models who have no wrinkles or grey hair. Yet, the TED Talks I heard reminded me that aspiration can take many forms, and marketers who want to reach women over 50 should also recognize and celebrate the values these remarkable women exhibited: accomplishment borne from a lifelong passion, the wisdom gained from experience and a desire to make the world a better place.

If you remind Boomer women that you recognize these (among other) aspirations in them, you will make it a lot easier for them to help you achieve Pepsi's goal of performance with purpose.

Stephen Reily is Vibrant Nation's CEO, an entrepreneur, marketing expert and Flash Forward Blogger. is an online community for the fast-growing demographic of smart and successful women over 50. Reach him here.

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Labeling yourself

Before you order your next set of business cards, or update your LinkedIn profile, read this from Jim's Marketing Blog:

Visionary, thought leader, maverick or fool? You decide!

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 01:12 PM PDT

Over the past few hours alone, I have seen people using their online profiles to clearly indicate who they are.

  • One lady called herself a visionary.
  • A guy called himself a thought leader.
  • Many referred to themselves as mavericks.

In each case, what the person thought they were doing, was elevating their status. Of course, in reality they were showing the world that they know nothing about the way that true visionaries, thought leaders or mavericks work.

In my experience, the people who actually possess the rare qualities, which these ill-informed people claim to have, do not have to tell us what they are. They earn the titles, which other people then use to describe them.

  • Steve Jobs doesn’t call himself a visionary - We see it for ourselves, by what he does.
  • Seth Godin doesn’t call himself a thought leader – We see it for ourselves, by what he does.
  • Leo Laporte doesn’t call himself a maverick – We see it for ourselves, by what he does.

The bottom line: Just as trust is to be earned and not demanded, so are the rare attributes, which so many people readily claim for themselves online. People show us they are visionaries, thought leaders or mavericks by their actions – Not the labels they eagerly use in a poor attempt to impress others.

Photo: Jonny2love

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from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: If You Haven't Seen the Prospect's Website, Don't Call For a Meeting

According to a study reported in Sales and Marketing Management, 80% of salespeople -- salespeople in general-- do not check out a client's website before making a sales call. It is most important for digital advertising salespeople to know as much as possible about the client. Here's a checklist of research to conduct before your first appointment:

Review multiple pages of the client's website. Are they branding, selling online, or calling visitors to another action? Do they use rich media? Are they capturing visitors' information for database marketing?

Register on their site if registration is available so you can see what kind of e-mails, newsletters, and coupons they send. Pay attention to their call to action: buy something, come into the store, or is it branding?

Search for the company in Google, Yahoo and Bing to see if their ad appears or if they place well in search. You'll also see how they compare to their competitors in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Download their mobile app to your smartphone or tablet if they have one.

Connect with their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace pages to observe if or how they use social media.

Research generic sites serving their business category to see if the prospect is advertising on those sites.

Being prepared for your first meeting will show the client you are a true professional and a marketing consultant, and instill confidence to do business with you.

Source: John Potter, VP/Training, Radio Advertising Bureau

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & read:

by Sarah Mahoney
With the much-ballyhooed launch of the Nintendo 3DS just days away, Best Buy, Target and GameStop are gearing up to make the most of the new game, which lets users see in 3D ... without putting on the goofy glasses. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Phillips-Van Heusen's Izod brand, as well as Honda and Verizon, are among the brands activating against the centennial of the Indianapolis 500 race on Memorial Day weekend. Izod, which is title sponsor of the Izod IndyCar Series, sponsored an event at New York's Classic Car Club of Manhattan to kick off the series, which begins this weekend with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
For the four-week promotion, Samsung's TV division is blanketing SB Nation's NCAA section and its tournament hub with banner ads, including takeovers of NCAA team pages and sponsored content related to the tournament. In addition, the companies have sponsored a "Tweetstakes," ...Read the whole story >>
Food and Beverages
by Karlene Lukovitz
Like a sprig of Douglas fir in that martini? Adventurous chefs and mixologists have been using the aromatic Douglas in meat dishes, sauces, drinks and desserts for a few years, and home chefs are now picking it up at farmers' markets -- part of a trend termed "foraging" or "wildcrafting," reports CCD. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Americans who dream about having a Porsche in their garage don't have to envision leaving it there until the weekend. That's the message of a new campaign that eschews mountain roads and high-speed driving imagery for real-life experiences. The campaign, "Engineered for Magic. Everyday," shows people doing such very unsportscar-like activities. ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
One in five U.S. consumers says a bad customer experience leads him/her to switch brands, according to a Satmetrix study. Companies can improve customer retention and acquisition by reallocating a portion of their advertising budget toward programs that improve customer experience and increase positive word of mouth. ...Read the whole story >>

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How Pepsi lost it's Fizz

This is part 2 of a series from the AdContrarian blog this week.

I am a huge pro-social media guy.

But I'm also a Big Picture/Little Details guy too.

It is stupid to stop what is working with your advertising and marketing just to jump on board the Next Big Thing.

My advice is to ADD Social Media to what you are already doing, don't swap one for the other.

Pepsi is now number 3 in soft drink sales, behind Coke and now also behind Diet Coke.

Normally it would take something like the Tylenol scare of 1982 to lose share like that.

Here's part 2 from their blog:

The Pepsi Follies

"Pepsi BashFest 3000" continues here today at Ad Contrarian world headquarters.

For over three years we have been documenting the marketing follies at PepsiCo.

On July 29, 2009, we said...

"It seems like the brand babblers have taken over at Pepsi, and they are screwing it up royally....It will take a while (like it does in all big organizations) for someone with a brain to realize what's been going on. "
Pepsi has been the world's leader in advocating and implementing new-age marketing nonsense, and is now paying the price for its foolish belief in the three-headed marketing monsters: "branding," "engagement," and "conversation." (Here's a tip for anyone left alive in the Pespi marketing department. There is one thing, and one thing only, that advertising is about -- persuasion. All the rest is word games and chit chat. Got it?) Last week it was reported that after years of fighting Coke for first place in the soft drink category, Pepsi-Cola had fallen to third place. The L.A. Tiimes called it...
"...a stunning fall from grace."
According the The Wall Street Journal...
Pepsi-Cola and Diet Pepsi saw their U.S. sales volumes in 2010 fall sharply, by 4.8% and 5.2%, respectively...
The U.S. soft drink market is about 74 billion dollars. If my math is correct, a 5% drop in Pepsi's US market share (which is about 10%) cost them well over $350 million on the Pepsi-Cola brand alone. While Coke has been wisely sponsoring American Idol for years (yeah, on that useless old dinosaur, the television) Pepsi has been suffering from the marketing version of Attention Deficit Disorder exemplified by chasing dubious social media rainbows and comical "re-branding" exercises. In (the 10am re-post) about the Pepsi Refresh Project (called Social Media's Massive Failure) I included this quote:
"We took the divergent path," explained Frank Cooper, chief consumer engagement officer for Pepsi. "We wanted to explore how a brand could be integrated into the digital space."
The alarming aspect of the above quote is not the vapidity of the cliches, it's the fact that Pepsi has someone called a "chief consumer engagement officer." You have to be seriously confused to pay someone to run around your building with a title like that. The most unsettling part of this episode is that Pepsi has been fawned over as "forward thinking" among the brand babblers and social media hustlers who have seized control of the marketing world. When Pepsi launched its Pepsi Refresh social media project last year, Time magazine had this to say:
To Pepsi, and to companies around the world, the days when mass-market media is the sole vehicle to reach an audience are officially over.
These days, viral marketing seems like a smart strategy. "This is exactly where Pepsi needs to be," says Sophie Ann Terrisse, founder and CEO of STC Associates, a brand-consulting firm. "These days, brands need to become a movement..."
To set an example of maturity and restraint, I am not going to make any "movement" jokes. Here are some excerpts from three years of posts about PepsiCo's marketing follies from the deep recesses of The Ad Contrarian archives: March 18, 2008
Pepsi Drinking The Kool-Aid
Pepsi is going all unconventional and artsy on us.

They're introducing a new beverage called Tava with websites, music downloads, "brand experiences"... In other words, the the full pantheon of over-priced, under-performing ..."non-traditional" marketing gimmicks.

They'll be giving free samples to employees of Apple, Google and MTV. Dude, how cool is that? But wait, there's more. They'll also be giving it away at the -- are you ready -- Sundance Film Festival! Oh my God! Mega-double-extra-wicked cool!

Pepsi's agencies are making marketing mistake number one. They're marketing to themselves.
October 24, 2008
Friday Filler
Pepsi is spending 1.2 billion (yeah, with a b) behind a "rebranding" over 3 years. The first move is the introduction of new logos. If the rest of the "rebranding" is as shitty as this, it's gonna be a long 3 years.
March 2, 2009
The Two Elements Of Advertising

The advertising composed of only two elements: ads and bullshit.

If you would like a nice, close-up look at bullshit, I recommend this video. It is part of a presentation made a few weeks ago about the "new" package for Tropicana orange juice (a PepsiCo product) by its designer, Peter Arnell.

The new package was yanked after about a half hour because it was such a piece of crap and provoked a firestorm of criticism and customer unhappiness.

Going back a few weeks, before the firestorm, and looking at the pretentious bullshit that was being served up is very entertaining and satisfying.

Whenever some designer starts out with, "We started on a journey..." as if he was climbing the fucking Himalayas instead of playing with crayons, you know there's some massive bullshit heading your way...
March 11, 2009
What About The Research?
Last week I wrote about the Tropicana package massacre.

The question I would love to have the answer to is this: What about the research?

I've been around Pepsi people (the owners of Tropicana) and their kind, and I can assure you they don't wipe themselves without first researching which hand consumers prefer.

Somewhere, I guarantee you, there is a very big deck that demonstrates conclusively that the (failed) Tropicana package was a dream come true...

...I'd love to see that Tropicana research deck. I'll bet it's a classic.
July 29, 2009
Championship Brand Tinkering
There are many flavors of baloney floating around the ad world these days. There's "digital" baloney, there's "conversation" and "engagement" baloney, but the biggest, most pervasive, and most dangerous form of baloney is still "branding" baloney...

...It looks to me like Pepsi-Cola Co. are becoming the all-time champion brand tinkerers.
August 03, 2009
Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss
One of the very charming aspects of Web Maniac Disease (WMD) is the callow belief in the virtue of all things digital. For...a good laugh... read the article about the BlogHer convention in Chicago from last week's Ad Age... My favorite quote from the piece:
Asked how PepsiCo, which appeared to be the biggest sponsor of BlogHer activities, would be measuring its success, Global Chief Marketing Officer Jill Beraud, said: "We believe it's the way of communicating in the future, so this is not a short-term ROI ... this is really an investment in our brands and understanding our consumers."
Oh. It's about branding! Well, you Pepsi guys ought to know.
December 07, 2009
The 2009 Bully Award Winner Is...
The 2009 Bully Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advertising and Marketing Bullshit -- the Turd d'Or -- goes to the "Breathtaking" Pepsi design document.

Several months ago, when this document became public, I got a nice chuckle out of it...

Recently, in reviewing the nominees for the Bully Awards, I had the opportunity to take a closer look at it.

With the perspective that a few months affords, I have a new appreciation for the document. Not as an article of business communication, but as an artifact of an industry so totally engulfed in madness that this piece of lunacy may very well live on as the marketing icon of our era.
June 15, 2010
Pepsi Proves You Can Give Away Money

I know I'm like totally old school and out of it and a big old dinosaur, but I thought marketing was supposed to be about selling stuff. Silly me.

So wasn't I all red-in-the-face and feeling like a dork when I read an interview in BrandWeek with Pepsi's marketing director. The interview was about their much ballyhooed "Refresh Project" -- which, in my churlish opinion is a big cynical gimmick to get some marketing leverage by giving away 20 million dollars to people with nice ideas.

Now, before you go calling me an ogre, I am all in favor of giving money to help people and communities. I even do a fair bit of it myself.

The difference between Pepsi and me, however, is that I don't go around beating my chest about it. I do it because I think it's the right thing to do.

...Call me cynical, but to me altruism loses its luster when it seeks bouquets.

Pepsi is brazenly using their "Refresh" project for the purpose of buying their way into social media stardom and "creating buzz on social networks." Double yuk...

The thing that interested me most about the interview was that it focused on the marketing effectiveness of the campaign without once mentioning the word "sales."
"The success has been overwhelming. We have more than doubled our Facebook fans since we started the campaign. We have more than 24,000 Twitter fans"
Now here's the thing. If you're going to give away 20 million dollars to help people and communities, then god bless you...

On the other hand, if you're doing it to promote sales, then don't pretend you're Mother Teresa.

And if you're just doing it to attract Facebook friends and Twitter followers, then you're seriously demented.

This is probably the most expensive social media effort ever. I'm very curious to know what effect it will have on sales. So far all it's proven to me is that if you want to give away money, you can.
Yeah, the success was "overwhelming." I wonder what universe she is living in? I wonder how many Facebook fans it takes to cover a loss of 350 million dollars? It was just a few months ago that the Pepsi marketing team was taking self-congratulatory victory laps at digital marketing whack-a-thons. Having once worked on the Pepsi business, I would like to give these people a little advice: Stay as far away as you possibly can from the next bottlers' convention.

Photo from:

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Dumping the Egg Basket

I would never, ever advise someone to abandon what has made them successful in their advertising and marketing and jump on the social media bandwagon.

I have told many they should do both.

Only, yes only if what they have been doing previously has not been working, would I ever tell them to stop it and do something else, social media or otherwise.

Unfortunately, I never got a chance to talk to the marketing folks at Pepsi.

This is from the Ad Contrarian Blog.

I'll have more at 2pm this afternoon

Social Media's Massive Failure

For several years there has been consensus among a very vocal and highly placed group of marketing executives and commentators that fundamental changes have taken place in our culture and in technology which render traditional modes of marketing communication no longer relevant or effective.

The thinking behind the hypothesis goes like this:

  • Marketing is a "conversation."
  • People are no longer willing to accept the "interruption" model of advertising.
  • The objective of marketing communication is for a brand to create "engagement" with consumers.
  • Traditional forms of advertising do not create engagement and have substantially outlived their usefulness.
  • The Internet has created an environment in which consumer control of his/her purchasing behavior is unprecedented.
  • Consumers are quickly moving away from brands that are obviously out to sell them something in favor of brands that seek to engage with them and have conversations.
  • Social media represents the most effective medium for engaging with consumers and having these conversations.
Among mainstream brands that have adopted this new marketing paradigm, none has been more zealous than Pepsi-Cola. Last year, Pepsi substantially abandoned its long-standing commitment to traditional advertising in favor of social media. It canceled its annual Super Bowl advertising. It diverted tens of millions of dollars from traditional advertising to create the "Pepsi Refresh Project." Pepsi Refresh was an online social media initiative in which Pepsi gave out 20 million dollars. They also spent many millions more in support of this initiative. I am pretty certain Refresh is the largest social media initiative ever undertaken. Never before, to my knowledge, has a brand taken so much of its traditional advertising money and energy and re-directed it into social media. Most major brands have some kind of social media program. But never before, to my knowledge, has a major consumer brand made a social media program the centerpiece of its advertising and marketing.
"We took the divergent path," explained Frank Cooper, chief consumer engagement officer for Pepsi. "We wanted to explore how a brand could be integrated into the digital space."
The idea behind the program was that you, the consumer, got to engage with Pepsi by voting for the "Refresh" projects you deemed most worthy. There were also other opportunities to engage through an enormous online effort -- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, website, blogs. Millions of dollars were also spent in what might be called "traditional advertising in support of social media." Skeptics (such as yours truly) have been eagerly awaiting a report card on this initiative as it is the first real test case for a major brand implementing a massive transfer of marketing resources from traditional advertising to social media. The results are now in. It has been a disaster.
  • Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pepsi-Cola and Diet Pepsi had each lost about 5% of their market share in the past year.
  • If my calculations are correct, for the Pepsi-Cola brand alone this represents a loss of over $350 million. For both brands, the loss is probably something in the neighborhood of 400 million to half-a-billion dollars.
  • For the first time ever Pepsi-Cola has dropped from its traditional position as the number two soft drink in America to number three (behind Diet Coke.)
  • In 2010, Pepsi's market share erosion accelerated by 8 times compared to the previous year.
The Refresh Project accomplished everything a social media program is expected to: Over 80 million votes were registered; almost 3.5 million "likes" on the Pepsi Facebook page; almost 60,000 Twitter followers. The only thing it failed to do was sell Pepsi. It achieved all the false goals and failed to achieve the only legitimate one. In reaction to this disaster, Massimo d'Amore, chief executive of PepsiCo Beverages Americas had this to say...
"When my ancestors went from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, they blew up the place, so that's what we are doing."
He also said...
"We need television to make the big, bold statement...
Social media has taken a huge hit. Only zealots and fools will continue to bow down to the gods of social media.

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What Were You Doing in 2008?

That you can apply to 2011?

This weeks sales tip have been published on this site before. I kicked off Collective Wisdom in 2005 with occasional updates, and a few years later decided it was important to have a plan and get focused.

Now I update this site 3 to 4 times a day, 7 days a week. Over 8,000 visits are logged every month by folks like you.

This was originally published in the summer of 2008:

If you're going to sell more every year, you need to get better every year. Let's look at this a different way. If what you are currently doing would produce the results you are looking for, the results should have already shown up.

So what skills should you focus on improving? Start by honestly answering a few of these questions:

-- How much preparation are you putting into each call?
-- Are the questions you ask thought-provoking or mind-numbing?
-- Do your ideas have value for the prospect or do you find yourself just pitching the "latest" widget from the factory?
-- When was the last time you got feedback on your presentation skills?
-- What are the top three obstacles prospects throw at you?
-- How do you clearly and concisely address these obstacles?
-- What are you doing every week to help build better relationships?

It takes courage to admit you could be a better sales rep and confidence to believe you can change. It takes nothing to create excuses.

There is an abundance of sales books, tele-seminars, podcasts, webinars, and sales training programs available today. What are you waiting for?

Source: RAB/Sales trainer/consultant Tim Wackel (, 2008)

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karl Greenberg
Census Bureau director Robert Groves says this local data, free to advertisers, will be a valuable tool for targeted marketing. "If I were an advertiser, I'd study patterns in geographic areas and use those data to target messages and in-language media buys for areas with large non-English speaking populations." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
A significant exception within the generally rising tech company rankings was Nokia, which lost $9.9 billion in value (to $9.7 billion), and dropped from 21st to 94th place. 'The rise of the technology brands has been expected for some time, although Nokia's fall shows that it is tough to stay at the forefront of such a dynamic industry," observes Brand Finance CEO David Haigh. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
To celebrate this week's World Water Day, it's partnered with to create a Facebook game, asking users to unlock water from the Levi's WaterTank, to support's projects worldwide. Players win gallons of H20 by pledging to wash jeans less, take shorter showers and adopt better laundry habits. ...Read the whole story >>
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
According to Mintel's data, 39% of female investors say their primary source of investment ideas are their investment advisors, compared to only about a quarter (27%) of males. Women are also slightly more likely to solicit ideas from friends and family members (29% of females vs. 22% of males). ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Social commerce is a symbiotic activity between platforms like Facebook and Twitter and traditional and mobile e-commerce. The question for marketers is how many eggs to put in the Facebook basket. WebMediaBrands' SocialTimes Pro studied the matter. ...Read the whole story >>
by Les Luchter
IBM has launched a campaign for what it calls "Smarter Commerce," described as a "new category" addressing "the spectrum of enterprise commerce activities -- new ways to buy, sell and secure greater customer loyalty in the era of mobile and social networks." ...Read the whole story >>
Powersports Industry Groups Donate To Japan Effort

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Retail Remedy's

If you are new to retail, then you better listen up.

There are what my Dad called merchants holidays that you need to plan for every year.

We've already passed Valentines Day, Easter and Mother's Day are just around the corner, but you still have time to plan for Father's Day and Graduations.

CE Dealers Prepare for 'Dads and Grads' Sales Events

After a long, hard winter across the country, consumers will be moving into the mid-year months looking to shake their cabin fever and to loosen up their purse strings. Consumer electronics retailers, along with the distributors and buying groups that serve them, believe the "Dads and Grads" buying season, which extends for nearly seven weeks from early May through Fathers' Day, will be one target of that pent-up desire to spend.

Both online and brick-and-mortar dealers see this period as nearly as important a retail event as the Christmas sales season. More important, though, is that the dads and grads season brings with it bigger profit margins than Black Friday and extended holiday sales. "Margins tend to hold pretty steady for this event," said Jeff Davis, senior vice president of sales for D&H Distributing.

Even though price promotion is part and parcel of the dads-and-grads selling landscape, it's nothing on the level of a Black Friday, retailers said.

"At year's end, many manufacturers are offering discounts on their products as they prepare to stop production on the older products. They usually reveal the next year's lineup at CES in January," said Bernard Luthi, vice president of marketing, web management and customer service for Newegg. "By the time Fathers' Day and graduations come around, we are selling brand-new items that have just hit the market."

Another big difference is that the dads and grads sales period is based on specific products that are aimed at a particular audience. That allows retailers to promote higher-margin items without having to slash prices.

"The intensity of promotion, amount of lowball pricing and discounting for the period doesn't come close to what's seen during Q4 for year-end holiday buying," said Bill Stewart, president and CEO of Petra Industries.

Petra's marketing efforts in promoting dads and grads products to its dealer base begin about six weeks prior to the season. Some of the categories Petra focuses for Fathers' Day are cellular, computers, home theater, metal detectors, fish finders, optics, photo, video, GPS and tools. For grads, the distributor focuses on accessories for iPad, iPhone, iPod, laptops, tablets, e-readers and gaming, as well as headphones and photo/video. Industry insiders predict that this dads-and-grads season will be healthy for retailers. The main focus, said D&H's Davis, will be on mobile products, a category that's been hot with the targeted demographic. "A smartphone, a new notebook, MP3 player, or anything that allows you to access content," he said, adding that tablets will be a white-hot commodity.

"There will be a real clamoring for tablet consumption. There will still be a netbook category, but manufacturers seem to have pulled back a bit from it so they're kind of hard to get now, and when we get them, they go right back out. What we'll find is that will be at the lower end ($199 to $249) and tablets will pick up at a little higher price range -- ($399 to $599) and notebooks will come in above that.

Retailers also predict strong E-reader sales and, for those that carry a broader assortment of goods, on non-electronics associated with summertime activities like grilling, travel and outdoors recreation.

Despite a decrease in sales, TVs will also play a role in dads-and-grads sales. Sharp declines in pricing will enable specialty retailers like Audiotronics in Roanoke, Va., to promote sets in the 22-to-42-inch range at prices from $250 to $300. Specials like that get plenty of feet through the doors.

"Last year, we were pretty successful with a 32-inch with an iPod dock on it," said Matt Hartberger, Audiotronics' corporate vice president, adding that he expects earbuds, headphones, computer speakers and portable navigation to also do well. "That seemed to hit a hot spot."

Audiotronics also capitalizes on strong car stereo sales mid-year. Tastes, though, have shifted from the big-boom systems to connectivity solutions for iPods, iPhones and other products that allow for hands-free operation. Not only does Audiotronics make original product sales, it adds margin-rich installation services.

"What happens is that moms and dads come in looking, and if they elect to buy, we find out the car they have and sell them the proper equipment and the installation, and they make the install appointment right before or after graduation," Hartberger said.

Adiotronics also expands its promotions beyond the confines of its stores, setting up booths at car, boat and motorcycle shows. Those generate as much interest for home theater for car stereo and mobile electronics. "People say, 'I never knew you did that.' It helps get us in the public eye on a face-to-face basis and tell our story," he said.

Audiotronics will also be starting a TV campaign that focuses on solutions and experience instead of price. As part of the dads-and-grads and summer sales events, car stereo and portables will be featured in the style of commercials where people are paired through a checklist of personality traits. "It will basically be a way of matching products and needs with a salesperson in our stores," Hartberger said.

Like other savvy retailers, Audiotronics promotes its events with email blasts and social media. "We'll put up a YouTube video that's tied to Facebook, and we can easily get a thousand hits on something really neat, like a Bluetooth kit that allows people to do everything in a car by voice," Hartberger said. "That gets the interest level up, and then when they get into the store, you give them the full story. We have over 2,000 followers already, which is great for a community our size."

This season, dealers will rely more heavily on social media than they did throughout 2010. "Some of the most effective retail/e-tail tactics we have seen have been private sales and exclusive discounts for 'following' or 'liking' a business, sneak peeks into upcoming sales, content downloads and giveaways," said Petra's Stewart.

Newegg's Luthi said social media is a crucial part of the company's outreach, citing in-depth user reviews posted by a knowledgeable customer base as a major benefit.

"Our Twitter and Facebook followers are often the first to see some of the best deals we have to offer," he said. "Our community creates detailed guides on how to do almost anything with the products available on Newegg, from building an affordable computer to converting your home to solar power."

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New Ad Campaigns

Our weekly Amy update:

Cement trucks, FedEx food trucks and sickly sweet parade floats. Let's launch!

1ESPN launched "Opening Day," a TV spot celebrating the most wonderful time of the year: baseball season. I'm still a long-suffering Mets fan, but I know I'm not alone. Kevin Costner narrates the countdown to MLB's first game of the season, taking place March 31. "It's more presidential than president's day," says Costner, while past and current presidents throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Chase Utley drives past Phillie fanantics as he enters Citzens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. My favorite scene came from San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson, who delivers a scorching fastball engulfed in flames. See the ad here, created by Wieden+Kennedy New York.

2Muscle Milk launched two outrageous TV ads starring Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers as guests on the fictitious "You, Your Awesome Body, and You, Show." The men learn how to cope with their spectacular bodies and attention from women, thanks to a crazy host who believes that drinking Muscle Milk, like the pair of highly conditioned athletes do, puts him on their playing level. A female doctor once asked Braun to strip for an eye exam, and the host relates to this odd request by lifting his shirt to reveal his average-looking chest. Watch it here. Matthews has large, NFL biceps. The host warns him that pairing Muscle Milk with big biceps makes women "wanna play on you, like a jungle gym." See it here. The spots are running on ESPN, ESPN2, Fuel, Fuse, G4 and MTV2. Pereira & O'Dell created the campaign, directed by Jim Hosking and edited by Arcade Edit.

3I'm thrilled the mini giraffe came back, along with the Russian mogul in "Gym," an ad for DIRECTV. "Opulence," the first ad starring the mogul and mini giraffe, launched last August. See it here. The latest ad launched last Wednesday, starring actor Timothy V. Murphy as the wealthy Russian who's unafraid to spend money on pointless objects, like a gold treadmill for his mini-giraffe or a machine that works his biceps while he sits and relaxes. Fans of the TV show "Criminal Minds" will recognize Murphy as IRA hottie Ian Doyle, whose latest appearance coincided with the ad's launch. I wonder if the DirecTV ad ran during Murphy's "Criminal Minds" episode? Watch the ad here, created by Grey New York.

4The Truth anti-tobacco campaign asks viewers "Why Do They Make Tobacco Taste Sweet?" in its latest TV ad featuring former smokers riding a candy-themed float. "Unsweetened Candy" shows six real people suffering from tobacco-related disabilities singing and waving to pedestrians on a parade float driving through Hollywood. The ad illustrates the fact that smoking not only kills, but also leaves survivors with debilitating physical disabilities. In addition, the spot informs viewers that tobacco companies "can't sell candy-flavored cigarettes anymore, but they still sell other tobacco products in over 45 candy flavors." See the ad here. Arnold Worldwide created the ad, produced by Harvest Films and directed by Baker Smith.

5Kelliher Samets Volk launched two TV ads for the Vermont Department of Health. Always go with your gut feeling. The ads target teens in an effort to prevent them from even starting to smoke. Teenagers play the role of lungs, a brain and stomach. Brain grows bored hanging around playing darts with his organ pals, so he decides to smoke, causing stomach to throw up his taco dinner. Watch "Taco" here. Brain lights up again in "Pickles," causing lungs to smell like an ashtray and stomach to smell like an ashtray and pickles. Go figure. See it here.

6Nokia launched a global TV campaign for its Nokia E7 device that defines success as something that doesn't need to take place at a desk. One woman conducts her daily work on a boat, while a man uses his phone to get coordinates to climb a mountain and leave a message in a bottle. "Success has friends not contacts... Success is what you make of it," says copy in the ad, seen here. Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam created the campaign.

7A man grows multiple heads in "Tree," the latest spot for Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The spot shows the Tab's ease of use and compact size, making it easy to carry around. The spot launched during SXSWi and was conveniently timed to debut right around the Apple's release of the iPad 2. The ad is running on ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, MTV, and CNN. Watch the ad here, created by VIA.

8 Keeping with the SXSWi theme, FedEx turned its delivery truck into a food truck there, feeding attendees while illustrating its international shipping capabilities. I love everything about this initiative... especially the food. Every day, a different international meal was delivered, in packaging designed to mimic FedEx boxes. Napkins and cups also touted FedEx capabilities like its Print & Go service. See the truck and food here and here, created by BBDO New York.

9Smart Canada created a clever campaign to illustrate its smart fortwo coupe's smallest turning radius. The company placed decals of the car on cement trucks. Each rotation of the cement drums equated one rotation of the smart fortwo coupe. Pretty neat stuff. The branded trucks drove along construction sites and passed through high-trafficked areas of the city. See pictures of a truck here and here, created by Proximity Canada and BBDO Toronto.

10Random iPhone App of the week: Interested in barefoot running but not sure where to begin? Merrell wants to ease you into minimalist running with a free app that educates users on taking the plunge, along with promoting the brand's barefoot running shoes. The app gives runners tips on proper running form, body alignment and barefoot walking, apparently the easiest way to begin using minimalist running shoes. The application also hosts a Merrell Barefoot iTunes mix, based on the 180 beat-per-minute rhythm of a natural running stride. I can't wait to see what songs match running strides. Download it in the App Store.

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

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Finding the Good Ones

This sales tip from my archives is from 2008:

If you are in sales, hopefully, you have seen a buying funnel. The concept is that you reach out to lots of people and the best ones will make it all the way through the bottom of the funnel and be a paying customer.

I was offered a sales position in the financial world a few years ago. Boy, were they organized! Tuesday's and Friday's were phone days. Spend the entire day, going through a "qualified" database of prospects to set up 15 appointments a week.

What impressed me most was the way they established routines that worked. Yet what I did not like was the number of calls they made to find 15 people who would give them a face to face appointment.

I learned a couple lessons from that meeting:

  1. Develop a routine, a schedule of when you are going to do what.
  2. The better you can qualify your prospects before you call, the less calls you need to make to get the appointments.
Jill Konrath is the author of Selling to Big Companies and recently wrote this story:

Why Promiscuous Prospecting Doesn't Work

by Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies

"How many prospecting calls did you make last week?" That's the first thing my sales manager asked me every single Monday morning. I dreaded those meetings because they put me in a no-win position.

I hated to lie, but if I told the truth I'd get in big trouble. My numbers were significantly and consistently below the sacrosanct corporate standards which were established to help us be more successful.

Behind these expectations was the pervasive belief that the more calls you make, the more sales you'll get. Selling was simply a numbers game and I was clearly failing to do my job.

Yet month after month, despite my abysmal prospecting statistics, I outperformed and outsold my colleagues. This paradox confounded me. My manager was stymied as well since it was went against everything he'd been taught. But he didn't stop too long to examine what was happening. Instead, he pushed me out the door to make more calls.

All this happened a long time ago when I first started selling. Sometimes I'm amazed at how little has changed.

I was working late in my office one night last year when the phone rang. When I answered, the voice on the other end of the line stammered, totally surprised to find me at my desk. He'd just read my article on voicemails and was checking to see if the phone number in the sample message was really mine. (It was!)

We got to talking about prospecting. He told me that he made 300+ phone calls a day. At first I thought he'd misspoken. No one could possibly make that many calls every single day. But when I double-checked with him, he reiterated that he called 300 prospects each day of the week.

Actually he was quite proud of this achievement. When he first got this job, he was in a large class of new hires. Now he was the only one left. No one else was "tough enough" to keep dialing despite the never-ending rejection.

I wasn't quite so impressed. I told him I thought it was insane and that his company needed to rethink their sales process.

Promiscuous prospecting does NOT work. It never has and it never will. Follow these guidelines to get out of the "More is Better" trap which is absolutely ineffective for selling to big companies in today's marketplace.

To be successful in corporate sales be more selective. Calling indiscriminately on every prospective buyer is a total waste of your time.

Some firms are significantly more likely to buy your products or services than others since your offering has a greater impact on their business than others.

Figure out what it is. Perhaps professional services firms benefit most. Maybe you do best with rapidly growing companies. Possibly your best prospects are going through mergers.

Identify companies that meet your best client profile and then pursue business with them. Target those firms where you have the highest likelihood of success and forget calling everyone else.

If you want to work with large corporations, don't ever wing it. To get your foot in the door, it's essential to research the organization.

Corporate decision makers expect you to have a general understanding of their business. They expect you to be up-to-date on trends in their industry and knowledgeable about how other firms are addressing the critical challenges relevant to your offering.

Figure out ahead of time what you're going to say if you get voicemail or if you talk to a real person. Determine how you'll address the common obstacles you invariably encounter. Practice saying these things.

Under the pressure of an actual conversation with a prospective client, I can assure you that you'll sound like a blathering idiot unless you're fully prepared.

In my opinion, the biggest error with the "make more calls" theory is the assumption that your sales approach is perfect. If it really was, every time you connect with a decision maker should yield an appointment.

Since that doesn't happen, it's imperative to analyze the multiple variables that influence your success. As such, you might want to evaluate if you've targeted the right companies or identified the appropriate decision makers.

Take a look at what you're saying in your voicemails, written correspondence or phone conversations. If you're not getting in, experiment with different approaches.

If you encounter objections and obstacles when you do connect with a decision maker, consider what you might be doing to create them. In my experience, nearly all of them can be eliminated upfront by changing your approach.

Now back for a final moment to my own story. Unlike the seller who made 300 calls per day, I focused on finding those opportunities where I had a better chance of getting in.

I was intent on learning what it took capture a decision maker's interest and gain an appointment. Everything was examined through the eyes and ears of my prospects.

This approach required me to continually change what I did. It required me to invest hours in preparation. I viewed it all as a grand experiment. Effectiveness was what counted, not numbers.

As I said earlier, being a promiscuous prospector doesn't work. You have to get smart about it. When you start out, you'll make more calls because you're new at it and making more than your share of mistakes.

Focus on learning. It's the only way you'll ever get yourself out of the numbers game.

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies and founder of the Sales Shebang, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. Visit her web site at

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karlene Lukovitz
The challenge, brand- and marketing-wise, is maintaining that "hungry guy" image while providing healthier choices desirable to this core customer base that may also attract customers who may have shied away from the chains based on that same indulgent menu perception. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
"Facebook and Twitter audiences report themselves to be frequent recommenders in every category we look at," says Keller Fay's Brad Fay. "We find that people 13 to 69 who are Twitter audiences offer 100 weekly brand mentions -- they are very engaged in brands -- versus 65 for the general public. " But he added that traditional media also offers strong social value. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
During the streamed news conference, Doug misbehaves, suggests that he's only doing this because he got a free car from Ford, flirts openly with one of the reporters, whom he calls "pretty pants" and generally causes high anxiety among the faux Fords, who wring their hands as Doug is off on a couch with pretty pants, trying to get her to go for drinks. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
The average revenue per smartphone user is $86, compared with $55 for the typical wireless customer. Additionally, smartphone sales, as a percentage of revenue, doubled from 19% in 2009 to 38% in 2010, for carriers with more than $5 billion, according to the survey, which covered all major U.S. and Canadian carriers. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
In response to last year's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and growing concerns about ocean sustainability, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance is launching Gulf Wild, a branding effort that will attach a unique tag to the gill of every fish its members catch. ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
The basics are regular posts, trustworthy brand news, new product information, contests and special offers. However, brands that can also deliver either a sense of fun, variety, innovation, interactivity or community will stand out from other pages and see a stronger brand response, according to Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
NPD's assessment is that the calorie-count posting that will be federally required for all chains with 20 or more units effective in this year's second half most likely won't have much of a long-term impact on ordering habits. ...Read the whole story >>

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