Monday, December 22, 2008

I would like to thank all of my clients and co-workers for the opportunity to work with them this past year. It has been an interesting year and we all know that next year will prove to be just as interesting. This will be my last post in 2008, as I will be taking some time off to enjoy the holidays with my family. I will be back on January 5th.

Like you, as I am enjoying time away from the business, I will mentally reflect on where everything stands and what I need to do more of, less of and differently next year. As you look at your business, I would like to encourage you to take the following 5 suggestions to heart:

  1. Don't Try To Be All Things To All People: When business slows, there is sometimes Boldthe tendency to try to add more offerings and come up with different revenue streams to attract more customers. Really think about how much you want to expand your offerings. It is often better to focus on what you are doing and do that at the strongest possible level with a level of customer service that exceeds your clients expectations. The shotgun approach doesn't really work that well with anything.
  2. Treat Your Key Players Like Gold: In my opinion, the strongest element in successful businesses is having the right people doing the right jobs. Right now, when you have employees that are committed to the cause, capable of strongly contributing to the effort and have a positive but realistic attitude - you need to let them know how much they mean to the organization. Don't just tell them once, but often and then show them with your actions. Give these key players bonuses, extra time off or set them up so that they can personally weather this slow down in business. If they can't make it, you can't make it.
  3. Trim The Fluff: Look for every way to trim the fat on all non-essential expenses.
  4. Resist The Urge To Trim Advertising: Recessions clearly reward the aggressive advertiser and penalize the timid one. Yes, it is true that I represent two amazing radio stations, but I strongly encourage you to take the following actions:
  • Google "Advertising In A Recession"
  • Demand creativity in your advertising
  • Only work with advertising consultants who understand business. It doesn't matter how cheap each commercial costs, if they can't help you in your business and come up with creative messages to move your potential customers to actions - then they are worthless to you.
  • Understand and measure your advertising ROI. You may have to look at your ROI in different ways. You may see an increase in profits, you may be in a mobile text marketing program where you can track the number of participants or you may need to look at how well your particular industry is doing and measure yourself against that.

5. Take a little time away from your business to work on your business.

Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Hershey's Credits Radio For Successful Sales

It's not often a big, national advertiser -- especially a packaged goods company -- specifically credits Radio for selling more of its products. But that's what Hershey's president David West did when he recently detailed his company's earnings to investors.

"We've been tactical with some advertising, much more Radio than TV, with Kit Kat and with Twizzlers and we've been feeling pretty good about the brand responses there." The candy giant says Kit Kat sales jumped 7% in the third quarter, while sales of Twizzlers were up 9%.

This summer Hershey's conducted a "Cash 4 Gas" promotion at convenience stores, giving away gas and PayDay candy bars. As well as airing traditional spots, it worked with Radio stations in 36 major markets on the promotion and contests. Hershey's spent $103 million on advertising and promotions last year, according to TNS Media, but it's funneling more cash to marketing.

West says, "For the year we expect advertising to be up about 25%." He plans to grow the marketing budget another 20% next year, telling a Deutsche Bank analyst nervous about all that spending, "Once we get to the latter part of 2009 we'll take a look at how the brands are responding."
(source: Inside Radio, 11/25/08)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

10 Things to Remember During These Trying Times

10 Things to Remember During These Trying Times

Times Are Bad? So What Are You Going to Do About It

1. Times are bad. So what? The fact is every economic downturn throws our industry on its head. If you have been in this business for a decade, you've been through bad times a few times already. It's happened before and it'll happen again. How well you do during tough times depends on how you approach overcoming them.

2. From every bad situation an opportunity appears. Many people lose their job ultimately say, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me." Why is that? Simple. Losing one's job forces a reevaluation of one's place. It affords a person the time to try something different or find something he's better suited to do. The same can be said for businesses. In the end, a business becomes better, more marketable and more competitive.

3. Don't forget to have fun. I've been through enough tough times to remember that you can't get through them unless you keep some perspective. The truth is, if you're sitting around worrying about what bad thing might happen next, you're wasting energy and time. Get busy doing what you love to do.

4. Be an optimist. You know those people who walk around with a little black cloud hanging over them? It seems that bad luck always befalls them. I find that these people bring bad luck upon themselves. If you worry that the worst is going to happen to you, it usually does. I believe the opposite is equally true. I'm not a Pollyanna, but I do believe that winning only comes when you believe you're a winner.

5. If you're going through it, so are your clients. Bad times give an agency a golden opportunity to be an even greater asset to its clients. You should know what your client's challenges are during the current economic conditions and offer solutions to minimize the negative effects of those challenges. How would you feel as a client if your agency did that without being asked?

6. Don't procrastinate. I've seen too many companies try to weather the storm without making any adjustments. I can't remember any who survived. Assess your business early and often and make adjustments for today, today.

7. Get better at what you do. An agency's capabilities must continually evolve. Just because times are bad doesn't mean you should put capability growth on the shelf. Invest in your company's future. During a struggling economy, these investments can be found at bargain prices.

8. Challenge your employees. Just as your agency should make an extra effort to help clients during a challenging time, your employees can do the same for you. Don't be surprised when they take on the challenge as if they owned the agency. In a very important way, they do.

9. Relax. If you've ever played a sport, you know that your best execution happens when you're relaxed. You don't worry about making the shot when you're taking the shot. You just take the shot. If you don't play loose, you can't do your best. Tensing up usually spells defeat. Get in the game and don't look at the scoreboard.

10. Look over the horizon. What will our industry be like when we come out of this recession? Will it be stronger or weaker? Will client expectations have changed? Will your agency's abilities match what clients need? Discover the answers to these questions now and you'll know where your agency needs to be when good times return. If history is any indication, they will be here before you know it.
(source: Posted by Bart Cleveland on 12.17.08 @ 10:47 AM)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Teacher Sells Advertising On Tests

I love this creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. How can you apply this kind of thinking to your business?

(CBS) America's public schools are being sorely tested by the economic crisis, with states and cities across the nation cutting their education budgets. That's forcing teachers to come up with unusual solutions, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

At a time when there seems to be advertising everywhere perhaps we shouldn't be surprised it's come to this: San Diego teacher Tom Farber is selling advertising on the bottom of math tests.

The ads appear as lines of text - "Braces by Stephen P. Henry D.M.D.," for example.

"I think it's sad that we have come to the point where we have to do that," says Christine Rafla, one of Farber's students.

It may be just one line. But it crosses a line that surprises even the teacher.

"I would have never have done this five years ago or ten years ago," Farber says. "I wouldn't even have thought of it because there was never a necessity." But it is a necessity now, because San Diego area schools are facing a $51 million budget shortfall next year. Statewide, California schools are expecting at least $2.8 billion in cuts-and that number could grow to more than $7 billion.

At $10 dollars for a quiz, $20 for a test, and $30 for a final exam, Farber's ads don't pay for much- just the cost of printing the tests.

"I think this is one in the same time a story of American ingenuity and a story of American tragedy," says Arnold Fege of the Public Education Network.

Fege says the ads highlight a struggle teachers are facing everywhere.

School budgets nationwide are strained. Twenty-seven states have already cut their education budgets. Even in better economic times teachers have had to dip into their own pockets to keep classrooms going.

"Five, six hundred dollars buy a lot of supplies to do crafts and arts and things like that," says Joel Nydam, a teacher at Otter Lake Elementary School in Minnesota.

Countless of teachers like Nydam spend hundreds of dollars of their own money each year on classroom supplies.And those supplies are getting more expensive.

"It's hard to make the same amount go the same distance," Nydam says.

So now Nydam is one of the 5,000 teachers signed up on a Web site called "Gold Star Registry."

It's like a registry for wedding gifts. But here, here teachers can list the supplies they need and parents can make a donation.

Tom Farber has sold already most of his test page ads right through finals. "Anybody who criticizes this I challenge them to open up their wallets," he says.

In a tough economy, teachers like Farber and Nydam are offering lessons in survival, as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ways To Bounce Back Stronger From Tough Times

1. Passion And Leadership Are ImperativeA Successful Brand Needs A Strong, Visible Leader Who Oozes Belief In The Business And The Consumer Proposition. That Passion Cascades Throughout The Organization And Becomes Infectious.

2. Invest In The Brand And Be CourageousDefy Conventional Wisdom And Spend To Grow Market Share. Studies Have Repeatedly Shown That Businesses That Increased Marketing Investments During A Recession Grew Market Share, Increased Margins And Had Better Long-Term Growth Trends Than Their Competition.

3. Let Creativity FlyInnovation Through Consumer Insights And Experimentation Can Produce Breakthrough Ideas.

4. Develop Trust And ConnectivityGive Them What They Need To Be True Brand Believers -- And Loyal Forever. At Ana'S Masters Of Marketing Conference, Coca-Cola Cmo Joe Tripodi Said, "We Went To Our Core Audience, Asked Them What They Wanted, And Gave It To Them." The Result: The Immensely Successful Launch Of Coke Zero.

5. Integrate All CommunicationsReach The Consumer Base Through Multiple Avenues -- But Creatively Deliver The Same Message Across All Platforms.

6. Be AccountableCreate A Culture Of Accountability And Partner With Finance, Research And Analytics To Measure Everything You Can. Ibm'S Success Is Grounded In A Disciplined Process That Started With A Cross-Functional Marketing And Finance Team That Reviewed All Activities.

7. Invest In PeopleBuild Skills, Build Capability, Build Knowledge And Watch The Bottom Line Grow. Zappos Brings Employees To Its Las Vegas Headquarters For A Week Of Training To Ensure They Embrace The Company Culture And Philosophy.

8. Trust Your AgenciesThey Are Your Ultimate "Brand Consultants" In Forming Strategy, Developing Breakthrough Creative And Expanding Media Platforms.

9. Strengthen The Marketing Supply Chain Aggressively Pursue Efficiencies And Productivity, And Watch The Dollars Flow.

10. Be Socially ResponsibleDo The Right Thing. Your Consumers Will Notice And Reward You For Giving Back. Jim Stengel, Former P&G Global Marketing Officer, Says It Is Time For Us All To "Go Beyond Cause Marketing Or ideals-Based Branding And Have An Inspirational And Motivational Reason For Your Brand."


Friday, December 12, 2008

Cluttered Web Sites Benefit No One

Study: Cluttered Web Sites Benefit No One
by Gavin O'Malley, Yesterday, 10:14 PM

Web sites cluttered with ads hurt the publisher, the consumer, and the advertiser, according to a study from online media and technology firm Burst Media.

Put another way, ad clutter not only annoys audiences, but diminishes ad effectiveness, found the study of over 4,000 Web users administered to better understand how clutter impacts Web users' Web experience, as well as its impact on the perception of advertisers who place ads on cluttered sites.

"One of the main obstacles to getting consumers' attention online is ad clutter," said Chuck Moran, vice president of marketing for Burst Media. "It is critical for advertisers to ensure their messages are being placed in a high-quality content environment to receive the maximum exposure they deserve, and to preserve their brand's reputation."

A full 75.5% of the respondents who remain on a site they perceive to be cluttered say they pay less attention to ads appearing on its pages.

In addition, although respondents accept that advertising will appear on a Web page, for a majority--52.6%--there is low tolerance for more than two advertising units per Web page.

Nearly 30% of survey respondents immediately leave a site if they perceive it to be cluttered. Notably, women are more likely than men to abandon a site that appears cluttered--at 32.1% to 27.5%, respectively.

About 52% of respondents have a less favorable opinion of an advertiser when their advertising appears on a Web page they perceive as cluttered. About 56% of women claim that clutter negatively impacts their opinion of an advertiser, versus 48.3% of men.

The survey also found that ad clutter's negative impact on respondents' opinions increases with age. Less than half (46.8%) of respondents ages 18-24 were impacted negatively by clutter, whereas more than 63.% of respondents 55 and older were unfavorably impacted.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

News Program Ads Don't Always Stick

According to consumer research from Experian Simmons, reported by Marketing Charts, only 28% of the audience of an average news program gets valuable information about products and services advertised there, making news venues less effective at conveying ad messages than all forms of media combined.

Advertising Effectiveness By Media Type
Get valuable information:
26% of News Media Viewers, 38% of All Media Viewers

Get high quality products and services:
33% of News Media Viewers, 42% of All Media Viewers
More likely to purchase advertised products:
21% of News Media Viewers, 33% of All Media Viewers
Source: Experian MME study, 2008 (extrapolated % values)

The latest Simmons Multimedia Engagement Study finds that consumers are less likely to purchase products and services they see advertised on news media, and are less apt to say products and services advertised on news media are high quality.

The MME defines and examines five key dimensions of engagement and examines how each plays an important role not only in how media connects with its audience. The five dimensions of engagement as reported by Experian are:
* Inspirational: Consumers are inspired by message and have an emotional connection to it
* Trustworthy: Consumers trust a particular program, magazine or website and believe it is telling the truth without sensationalizing
* Life Enhancing: Consumers feel they are learning about new things and places from a particular program, magazine or website, helping to make better life decisions
* Social Interaction: Fodder for conversations with friends and family.
* Personal Timeout: Provide an escape for consumers, who like to relax and unwind while reading or watching them

Americans gave news media highest marks for Social Interaction, indicating that they regularly talk with friends and family about things they see on news programs or read about in news magazines or on online news sites.

In addition, news media get high scores for Trust, meaning that while other research has shown Americans don't necessarily trust "the media" at-large, consumers believe that the news they personally consume provides them with accurate and trustworthy information, Experian Simmons said.

News magazines rate higher for Trust than online and TV news, but news websites are considered more Life Enhancing.

And, among the TV and magazine news properties evaluated, Experian Simmons found that the most talked about news property is The Drudge Report, followed by:
* The New York Times
* Countdown with Keith Olbermann
* The O'Reilly Factor
* The Wall Street Journal

Of the same 48 news properties, Google News was the least likely to generate any type of social interaction. Next to last was MSNBC's Morning Joe, followed by:
* Yahoo News
* CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

According to the study, Trust and Social Interaction don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. The most-talked-about Drudge Report scored 12% above average for Social Interaction and ranked #1 in that dimension, while scoring 10% below average for Trust, for which it ranked #46.

News media gets the lowest overall scores in the Personal Timeout dimension. When Americans want to escape, the last place they'll turn it to the news, says the report. But, TV programs that regularly feature news satire are less engaging than real news except when it comes to the Personal Timeout dimension.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How Many Sales Staff Do You Have?

It is time to review budgets, and many business are (or should be) taking a long hard look at each line item. Over the past couple of weeks I have been asked by more than one of my clients if there is a ratio for the proper number of sales people you have on your staff to total staff?

Yes, there is a proper ratio and I am going to help you calculate it. But first, take a moment and think about your business. How many sales people do you have compared to your total number of employees?

If your answer was anything other than 100%, then you may want to examine the culture of your business. I would argue that both in good time and bad (especially bad), you need to have everyone on board with the concept that everyone sells.

Now, not everyone will be responsible for the day to day calls to current and prospective clients. However, everyone is responsible for spreading the word about your business. The person who answers your phone, HUGE salesperson! Your accounting staff will take calls from they handle them can sometimes make the difference of whether they continue to be your client or if they look to someone else. Even your staff that are out of the public eye are salespeople. They should be tasked with the responsibility of telling people they know about what a great place they work at and what they individually do to contribute to making it a great place.

You can't just depend on the people with "Sales" on their business card to get the word out about what you do. Everyone who is a part of the organization should be proud enough to shout it from the rooftops, tell everyone why they love it, what you do and what makes you special.

For fun, ask your team how many sales people you have.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Banks Put Value On Marketing Component

Bankers Put Value On Marketing Component
by Aaron Baar, Yesterday, 6:18 PM

Banks continue to see marketing as an important part of doing business, even as they face tough economic conditions.

According to the American Bankers Association's 22nd annual bank marketing survey, non-salary marketing expenditures exceeded $10 billion for 2007, down only 1.6% from 2006. Marketing was a key part of a bank's business picture in 2008 and will continue to be one in 2009, Maggie Kelly, the ABA's vice president of marketing, tells Marketing Daily.

"The marketing survey results confirm what we suspected: that in today's challenging and even more competitive banking environment, marketing remains one of the most valuable contributors to a bank's bottom line," Kelly says.

However, they may take a slightly different approach in their messaging. "What we're hearing is that it's back to basics: retaining your customers, customer acquisition and increasing deposits," Kelly says. "They're [also] doing more with less. The bank marketers going forward are not going to have growing budgets."

Advertising (which includes direct marketing) was the preferred bank marketing method during 2007, accounting for slightly more than half (58%) of overall marketing expenses. However, with tighter budgets and more ways to reach customers, they are employing more techniques such as social media and mobile banking, Kelly says.

Indeed, the survey showed that nearly every bank (99%) had a Web presence, with more than two-thirds of them conducting some form of online marketing. Rich media (audio and video) and business-related blogs were favored as Internet marketing methods, and will continue to be important moving forward.

Public relations were the second-largest marketing expenditure after advertising, according to the survey. Community relations, such as donations and contributions to local group, accounted for more than half of those expenditures. "All the banks are reaching out to their communities," Kelly says. "Small banks have always been doing it. The larger banks are focusing on their local neighborhoods."

One in three banks said deposit growth will be their biggest marketing challenge over the next year. Less than a quarter (23%) cited competition as a challenge, and only 22% cited the economy. As a result, banks will be gearing their messages to address those challenges, Kelly says.

"Banks will continue to put out a message of safety and soundness of their investments," Kelly says. "Recognizing there's going to be a decline for loans, banks are going to be providing more of a service to customers on saving strategies and financial education."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

5 Tipson How to Start Filing Taxes Correctly

1. Consult a tax advisor, even if you are a start-up. A professional can save you both money and valuable time and keep you from running afoul of the Internal Revenue Service.

2. Pay estimated federal and state taxes four times a year. Your tax advisor can help you determine how much to set aside ahead of time for each payment.

3. Keep good records of both income and expenses. Save all receipts.

4. Ask your tax advisor about special deductions you can take as a small-business owner—such as allowances for health insurance, long-term care insurance, or self-employment tax.

5. Schedule a “tax tune-up” at least once a year. Update your tax advisor on your situation and your goals and get his or her advice on planning your tax strategy for the coming year.

(source: Score,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Non Traditional Ideas For Bank Marketing

Some interesting, non traditional, ways to market a bank.

TD Bank Is 'At Your Convenience' Through January

In its ongoing effort to continue rebranding after absorbing Commerce Bank, TD Bank looks to bring its "convenience" positioning to life through a series of guerrilla marketing events through January.

"What we tried to do is replicate the surprise and delight tactics that happen within each TD Bank store," says Greg Siano, executive vice president of media services at Tierney Communications, the agency that developed the campaign. Commerce Bank (the predecessor of TD Bank) was known for its customer amenities, such as being open seven days a week, extended lobby hours, free coin-counting machines and treats for kids and dogs.

As part of the promotion, the bank is running an "At Your Convenience" sweepstakes, with prizes such as a personal chef, housecleaner or chauffeur-driven limo to and from work for a week. The company is also conducting "Random Acts of Convenience" in its markets along the Eastern seaboard. Among the acts: handing out free cups of coffee in the morning and TD-branded umbrellas on rainy days. The bank has also partnered with several local dry cleaners and restaurants to offer free pizza delivery and dry cleaning to random customers. For the holiday season, the bank will offer free gift-wrapping, shopping advice and TD-branded shopping bags at local malls. "We tried to explore things that were convenient," Siano tells Marketing Daily, of the promotion. "We're doing anything that makes people's lives more convenient."

In addition, in partnership with Yahoo Shopping, the bank created an online gift-finder that helps people identify and find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. The site, which went live earlier this week, asks a series of questions about the recipient (such as age, gender and interests) before giving gift advice. The gift finder will be promoted primarily online, Siano says.

One does not have to be a TD Bank customer to receive the random acts of convenience. In fact, the bank is counting on reaching potential customers, Siano says.

TD Banknorth purchased Commerce Bank earlier this year. The merged company has been reintroducing itself as TD Bank through television ads featuring Commerce Bank spokespeople Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. The company is using the tagline "America's Most Convenient Bank." Other branding initiatives include blanketing train stations in Philadelphia and New York with advertising, as well as newspaper ads touting the in-bank conveniences. The company has more than 1,000 branches along the Eastern seaboard, with a footprint extending from Maine to Florida.

(source: Aaron Baar, November 28, 2008)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Initial Spending Stronger Than Expected Over Black Friday Weekend

While it's a little too early for full-fledged yodeling, early surveys of retailers show that shoppers were out in force last weekend, and spending more than many had predicted as they trolled for holiday bargains.

The National Retail Federation's 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey--which measured Friday and Saturday, and used estimates for Sunday--indicates that some 172 million Americans shopped in stores and Web sites over Thanksgiving weekend, an increase from last year's 147 million. NRF estimates they spent an average of $372.57--a 7.2% jump from the $347.55 spent last year, with total spending projected at $41 billion.

"Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season's hottest items, helped drive shopping all weekend," the trade group says in its release. "Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it is encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again."

By day measurement, the NRF says one big change is the sharp increase in the number of people who didn't wait for Black Friday and took to the mall even before their turkey and pumpkin pie was fully digested. Some 16.2 million people shopped on Thursday, an increase of 48% from last year. Black Friday lived up to its reputation, with 73.6 million people shopping. Just over 23% were at stores by 5 a.m., while 57.6% punched in by 9. About 56.9 million people shopped on Saturday, an increase from 48.3 million last year. NRF estimated that another 26.2 million people planned to shop on Sunday.

By channel, the trade group says 54.7% visited discount stores, 43% shopped at traditional department stores, and about a third checked out specialty stores, including clothing and electronics stores, (36.0%) and shopped online (34.0%). And by category, spending was typical, except for a 10% decline in the use of gift cards.

ShopperTrak RCT, a Chicago-based company that tracks retail results, also saw encouraging levels of spending--reporting a 3% gain from last year, with Black Friday sales totaling $10.6 billion. Spending was strongest in the South, at 3.4%--followed by the Midwest, up 3%, the West, up 2.7%, and the Northeast, up 2.6%.

Forecasters, however, are reluctant to read too much into these early results. For one thing, ShopperTrak executives point out, a later-than-usual Thanksgiving means that consumers have just 27 days to shop this year, compared to 32 last year. And, perhaps because of intense consumer anxiety about the economy, many in this weekend's crowd were actually closer to finishing their shopping, not starting.

The NRF, still predicting a total increase of just 2% for the season, says Americans have completed slightly more shopping than they had one year ago (39.3% vs. 36.4%), "indicating that traffic and sales over the next several weeks will moderate."

(source: Sarah Mahoney, Sunday, Nov 30, 2008,