Monday, June 29, 2009

What Will Be Your Customer's Memory Of You?

“It [the Cheshire Cat] vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.” – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

I never ask the graduates of Wizard Academy, "What could we have done differently? How might we improve?" To do so would be to ask them to search their memories for disappointing moments. These are not the images I want to cement in their minds.

Instead, I ask, "What was your favorite moment during your time with us?" This causes the students to recall each of the high-impact moments during of their time on campus and relive those moments in their mind. It doesn’t matter what they choose as their favorite, I just want to flood their minds with happy memories.
The grin will remain after the rest of it is gone.

It is important to control the Last Mental Image (LMI.) What procedures do you employ to make sure your customer has a positive LMI of their experience with you?

Today the world is forming its LMI of Michael Jackson. So far, the stories and comments have centered on his impact as a performer and his contributions to music. The foibles and flaws that interested us yesterday no longer seem important. Michael Jackson is dead and the world seems a tiny bit smaller.

(source: Roy H. Williams,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Millions Of TV Viewers Go Dark, Few Complain

Suppose someone pulled the plug and a couple of million people didn't care. That may be what the TV industry is discovering nearly a week after the U.S. broadcast industry converted from analog to digital broadcasting. Days after their analog TV signals went dark, 2.2% of U.S. households still haven't bothered to hook up to digital reception, according to estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Co.

Even more troubling, the estimates are based on households in Nielsen's national and local TV ratings panels, which means that more than 2% of Nielsen's panel is reporting zero TV usage in the days following the conversion.

The broadcast industry had expected that the vast majority of analog hold-outs would scramble to convert to digital at the 11th hour, or after their TV sets went dark, but that does not appear to be the case, as a survey of the nation's TV stations by the National Association of Broadcasters reports only "moderate" call volume from viewers to local stations seeking help of information about receiving their digital broadcast signals.

"The call volume is considerably low given that the transition impacts an estimated 14 million over-the-air households in markets with at least one station going all-digital," the NAB said in late Friday, the day analog broadcast signals ceased to transmit.

Moreover, most of the calls received by local broadcasters were among those that had already prepared for the digital transition, but simply needed assistance in scanning digital channels with their new equipment.

"A relatively small percentage of viewers so far have needed assistance given the large number of broadcast-only households affected during the today's transition," noted Jonathan Collegio, vice president for digital television at NAB. "Importantly, much of the assistance sought by viewers has been on the relatively minor issue of scanning and re-scanning converter boxes and digital TV sets."

The NAB has not released new data on the number of households that have gone dark, but the new Nielsen data suggests millions of TV viewers either don't care, or are still perplexed about how to hook up to digital broadcast despite billions of dollars invested by the broadcast TV industry and the U.S. government to help educate them.
(source:, Joe Mandese)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Establish Permanence In Changing Times

During the Great Depression, an entire entertainment genre was created by a forward-thinking advertising team. While no obvious one-stop solution exists for the current recession, marketers do have an opportunity to successfully tap into the zeitgeist.

Gone are the days of flash, glitz and punching monkeys. Consumers today value sustainability, social responsibility and fiscal prudence. If marketers can align with consumers, they can come out of the recession with a more loyal audience than they went in with.

Permanence Establishing a sense of permanence is particularly important during economic downturns. It's not a time a brand can afford to pull back on its marketing efforts, or they will lose the potential to endear valuable customers. Proctor & Gamble wrote the script during the Great Depression. P&G had a strong marketing philosophy: don't cut advertising budgets during recessions.

While many were cutting back on advertising during the Depression, P&G reinvented the wheel with its first soap story -- "Oxydol's Own Ma Perkins" radio show" -- which launched in 1933. It proved so successful that P&G doubled its marketing budget and launched 21 serial radio dramas by 1939, thus creating an entertainment institution: the Soap Opera.

Not only did P&G remain relevant during these times, but it remained a constant in consumers' lives by connecting in a unique way. It successfully engaged its core audience, allowing P&G to come out of the Depression stronger than it had started.

What message can build brand equity during this economic downturn? Economic, social, and particularly environmental responsibility. There is a call-to-action for brands to lead the charge in finding solutions for climate change. Consumers need to know their brands are working towards a common goal.

It's not an easy time for a brand; consumers are more educated and more demanding than ever. They stand behind brands that make them feel conscious and informed. A recent Havas Media study by IPSOS found that 79% of consumers said they would rather buy from companies doing their best to reduce their impact on the environment.

And 89% are likely to buy more "green" goods in the next 12 months, with a third willing to pay a premium for those goods. While it's not an easy time, the returns are high. A bond driving a customer to pay a premium for a similar good during an economic crisis is a bond worth establishing.

Resorting to sustainable claims isn't enough for a brand on its own. The Millennium Generation is particularly vigilant about weak or unfounded responsibility and sustainability claims. A Hartman study found that "consumers are thinking much more broadly than marketers about what words like 'organic', 'green' and 'sustainable' mean. They use more positive words to describe these products, like hope, connection, simple living, authenticity, and control."

The first step in establishing this "connection" and "hope" is to create an authentic story. And if you don't have a sustainable message to tell today, start establishing trust through other channels while working towards sustainability. Take MARS for example. As one of the world's largest cocoa purchasers, it is making great strides to support sustainable rainforests. But even before they had the opportunity to speak to this story, MARS had established consumer trust with transparency and a commitment to their five sustainable principals: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom.

With ad budgets tighter, how can marketers efficiently and effectively tell their sustainable story? First, don't waste dollars on deaf ears. Identify engaged and influential audiences and tell your story in credible environments. Reaching fewer passionate consumers will go further than blanketing your message across a larger, less engaged audience.

If these change agents believe in your message, they'll do the heavy lifting for you and stretch your marketing dollars. In addition, identify contextually relevant advertising opportunities and media outlets with a similar ideology to your message. You'll find the setting in which the story is told can be as important as the story itself: The medium is the message.

Modern Day Soaps
We are starting to see some great soap opera stories unfold today, from large CPG companies to small start-ups. Jeremy Moon, founder of Icebreaker, offers outdoor clothing created from sustainable materials. Moon faced a significant challenge: He needed to charge consumers a premium price for a premium fabric.

By creatively giving transparency to the source of the material -- you can see pictures of the sheep that grew your merino wool sweater and email the farmer -- Moon's message resonates with change agents. These influencers quickly turned Icebreaker from an unknown shop to the largest outdoor clothing brand in Australasia.

It's not just niche brands that are able to capitalize on sustainability and change. Even behemoths like Wal-Mart are finding sustainable stories of their own and bringing them to life through advertising. Wal-Mart recently announced an initiative to cut its supply chain's packaging by 5%.

This opens up Wal-Mart's doors to a new and influential type of consumer. What they care about is that Wal-Mart is saving millions of pounds of garbage from landfills and taking the equivalent of 213,000 trucks off the road every year. The fact that Wal-Mart stands to directly save $3.4 billion doesn't hurt its bottom line either.

In this economy consumers are feeling vulnerable. Now, more than ever, people want to feel a part of a responsible and sustainable culture, and they are spending their dollars accordingly. Go tell your story. People are listening.
Source (mediapost Colton Dirksen Wednesday, June 17, 2009)

Monday, June 15, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS Cedar Rapids / Iowa City Corridor!

Next Generation Consulting Ranks Hotspots for Young Professionals to Live and Work in the U.S.

Next Generation Consulting (NGC) announced its “Next Cities” rankings - the best places to live and work for young professionals - in three population categories. NGC tabulated the rankings after collecting and analyzing 45 measures for all U.S. cities with over 100,000 people.

NGC has studied the residential and relocation patterns of 20-40 years olds since 1998, and has developed a one-of-a-kind indexing system that evaluates a city based on the assets that are important to next gen workers.

According to NGC, the seven indexes of a “Next City” are: Earning, Learning, Vitality, Around Town, After Hours, Cost of Lifestyle, and Social Capital.

The rankings announced today are based on a city’s total score in all seven indexes.

“Simply being the cheapest place to live, or the city with the most jobs is not a long-term workforce strategy,” says NGCs founder, Rebecca Ryan. Although jobs are important, Ryan says, “The next generation is very savvy about choosing where they’ll live. They look carefully at quality of life factors like how much time they’re going to spend in traffic commuting, if they can live near a park or hike-and-bike trail, and whether a city’s downtown stays awake after five.” The Next Cities list ranks cities that are - or have the capacity to be - great places to live and work for the next generation, because they have the best overall score in the seven indexes the next gen values.

Noted economist Richard Florida underscores the large economic dividend paid to cities and regions that are talent magnets, noting in the April 2009 issue of The Atlantic that “The world’s 40 largest mega-regions, which are home to some 18% of the world’s population, produce two-thirds of global economic output and nearly nine in ten new patented innovations.”
Mighty Micros - Next Cities with Population of 100,000-200,000
1. Fort Collins, Colorado
2. Charleston, South Carolina
3. Eugene, Oregon
4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
5. Springfield, Illinois
6. Cary, North Carolina
7. Ann Arbor, Michigan
8. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
9. Pueblo, Colorado
10. Gainesville, Florida
11. Stamford, Connecticut
12. Des Moines, Iowa
13. Spokane, Washington
14. Syracuse, New York
15. Huntsville, Alabama
16. Peoria, Illinois
17. Springfield, Missouri
18. Salt Lake City, Utah
19. Richmond, Virginia
20. Hampton, Virginia

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

America Revs Up Its Do-It-Yourself Passion

While some marketers may be sick of hearing how the recession has changed the way consumers spend money, those selling do-it-yourself products have cause to rejoice: America's passion for DIY is fierce, with no sign of slowed growth.

Some 67 million Americans now change their own motor oil, 58 million are growing at least some of their food, and 36 million women are coloring their own hair, according to a new report from Packaged Facts, based on Experian Simmons National Consumer Study data. Overall, a whopping 56 percent of American shoppers are dabbling now in some level of DIY.

It's not all about the recession, and Packaged Facts predicts the trend will continue, even once the economy rediscovers its mojo. "The DIY movement is related to aspects of consumer psychology that extend beyond pure economics," it says -- adding that in some segments, demographic factors also play a major role.

For example, while 70 million people prepared their own tax refunds using software this year, it forecasts that through 2013, that number will grow 13 percent, fueled by the eldest Gen Y workers just entering the workforce. And it anticipates that the number of women using at-home hair coloring will increase 10 percent to total 40 million between 2008 and 2013, fueled by increases in multicultural women, who are more likely to experiment with home hair colors.

The number of automotive DIYers is expected to grow even faster, adding 16 percent by 2013. Drivers, eager to keep old cars on the road longer, say they are doing more and more repairs themselves, explaining sales increases at chains like AutoZone. "DIYers in the automotive sector make up 30 percent of the adult population but 40 percent of all adults planning to buy a car in the next six months and 37 percent of those planning to buy a domestic make," the report says.

Predicting growth in home DIY projects is still tricky, based on the weak real-estate market. But the vast majority of homeowners do at least some chores themselves -- only 18 percent rely exclusively on outside professionals to get the work done: The report finds that 101 million adults in 46 million households have been involved in some home improvement project during the past 12 months.

Some, however, are much more hands-on. Extreme DIYers are the single largest segment of the home-improver population-- 64 million people, or 52 percent of home improvers and 29 percent of the adult population; they also tend to be less affluent. Moderate DIYers, however, are more likely to make more than $100,000, and spend more time shopping for their DIY purchases.(Source: Marketing Daily, 06/01/09)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Questions To Ask When Evaluating Online Media

With companies allocating more of their marketing budgets to online media, it's important to know what to look for and ask about when working with new-media companies.

Alignment with your goals, audience, reach: these criteria apply across all media buys. However, other issues are specific to the online world: online metrics, conversion accountability, reputation of Web sites and more.

Below is a list of questions to ask when evaluating online media.

Is the media opportunity aligned with your marketing objectives?
It might seem obvious, but it's worth answering. Is your objective to generate leads? Promote your brand in new markets? Position your company in a leadership role? We know, it's all of the above. But some online media are better suited to gaining and raising brand exposure, others for lead generation. The best offer a combination of each.

What audience will you reach?
Before committing to any online media, ask for a profile of the audience you will reach. For example, with general search engines, the audience is the entire world, because everyone uses them, so funneling out only your specific niche becomes a challenge that you need take into account. On the other hand, there are many effective online media options that focus only on specific industries or target audiences.If you're advertising on a Web site, ask for information about its site traffic, demographic data, the number of visitors per month as well as if they have a third-party audit statement of qualified traffic. Look for growth trends on those sites where you are considering promoting your business.

Which metrics matter?
One of the great advantages of online media (other than the fact that your customers and prospects are online) is its reporting capabilities. Page views, impressions, opens, clicks, click-through rates, conversions -- there are many metrics. In the end, it's the conversions that equal leads, and the impressions that equal brand exposure.

How is lead capture performed?
Online media that offers comprehensive marketing programs and delivers leads to you with full contact information is what you want. If you are using keyword search ads or e-newsletter ads, you're likely driving prospects to a landing page on your Web site where you should have lead-capture mechanisms, such as white paper or Webinar offers. More important than who's responsible for lead capture is to make sure that you have a way to convert visitors and viewers into leads. Plan for this in any online media campaign. If your media program offers a lead conversion capability, you won't have to devote as many resources to landing pages and other lead-capture mechanisms.

How, when and for how long will your message be delivered to your audience?
How your message will be delivered depends more on the type of marketing program you choose, such as e-newsletters, banner ads, online catalogs, and e-mail campaigns. Push marketing, where you proactively reach out to prospects, is done, for example, through e-newsletter sponsorships.

You can also get a high frequency rate if the e-newsletters are issued on a regular basis, keeping you in front of your target audience on a consistent basis. Pull marketing opportunities are when you can connect with customers and prospects when they are actively searching for solutions like yours.

A searchable online catalog or presence in an industrial directory online provides presence 24/7.Ensure that your online marketing program provides a customized fit for your needs. Ask about the ability to choose your target audience, review online metrics, details about conversion accountability, possible campaign timing options, as well as the flexibility to adjust your program options and messaging when necessary.
(source:, Angela Hribar)