The Marketing Man Who Hates Advertising

The headline in this post comes from a comment that great client and friend of ours said about me a few years ago.

And, he’s repeated it to me on a few other occasions too.

He said, “As someone who’s been in marketing as long as you, why do you hate advertising so much?”

I answered – and continue to defend myself – that it’s not that I hate advertising, it’s just that I hate bad advertising that’s created to try extort people into believing in or buying unremarkable products and services.

It simply doesn’t work. And, it gives my profession a bad name.

Remember…if you put perfume on a pig…it’s still a pig!

The facts support my argument that there has been a crisis going on in mass media for years and most advertisers simply continue to do the same sad things over and over again.  That is, they spend too much money on TV advertising when they should invest those dollars in creating remarkable high-value products and services.

For example consider these facts*:

  • Only 14% of people trust advertising
  • Only 18% of television commercials achieve a positive return on investment
  • The average ROI is just 54 cents per every dollar spent on TV ads

Now, let’s talk about the biggest joke and general waste of advertising dollars – the Super Bowl.

Just another advertising effort that gives my profession a bad name.

I dread tomorrow listening to all of the so-called Advertising experts and pundits on the national news and talk shows discussing which ad was ‘cute and funny.”  Ugh!

For years, I’ve said that advertising on the Super Bowl is a waste of money. It still is a waste.

Back in 2008, E-Trade premiered commercials during Super Bowl XLII featuring a talking baby (the now infamous E-Trade Baby) in front of a Webcam pontificating about investing and finance in an adult voice. The campaign continued into the Super Bowl XLIII piling on with communications on other channels such Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

And, it continues to this day. Why?

It has to be because it’s ‘cute and funny‘ because it hasn’t done anything to build sales and/or turn around its stock price.

For proof, check out this screen capture I took last night comparing the Dow Jones average (blue)  vs. Schwab (green) and E-Trade (red).  Still laughing?

Now back in 2008, I predicted that the E-Trade baby would rock in advertising recall and likeability and I was proven right. The 2008 E-Trade baby Super Bowl ad campaign earned high marks of 7th most liked, 3rd and 8th most recalled.

However, after the premiere of the E-Trade Baby campaign, I cautioned clients that now that the seed is planted, the E-Trade brand needs to ‘show and tell’ how it has helped real people more effectively perform with personal investing.  They would need to show proof! And, to this day I say, “Where’s the proof?”

There is none and that’s one big reason why their stock is performing poorly vs. other averages. The E-Trade marketing folks must be getting away with this charade by saying, “But, look at our Ad recall numbers! Look at how many golfers know the word ‘shankapotomus.‘ 

To that rationale, I say, “Who cares!”

We do a ton of hospitality work. And, I bet you that we’d drive huge recall numbers by putting a dead body in the front window of any one of our restaurants with a banner stating, “People are dying to dine here!” I’d also bet that sales would rapidly fall.

There’s an old saying that, ‘The only person who likes change is a wet baby.’

I agree and also agree that the E-Trade campaign (and possibly product/service too) needs to be changed if it ever hopes to have happy investors.

Enjoy the game and make efficient use of your day today by getting a something to eat or drink or go to the bathroom during the commercial breaks.

*Source: Justin Kirby & Paul Marsden (2006).  Connected marketing.  Oxford, UK:  Butterworth-Heinemann. xix

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100 Social Media Marketing Listening Tools

My father told me many times when I was young that God game me two ears and one mouth for a reason…to listen! In my early days in marketing, while doing marketing research, I came across a great quote from Frederick the Great, “I can excuse being defeated but never being surprised.” And, I agree with him too. For, in this day and age of the Internet and social media there is so much free and easy information at your fingertips that it’s inexcusable for being surprised much less shocked about anything.

However the tough thing with information for me and so many others these days is organizing it into actionable data.

Here is a list of more than 100 listening and learning tools we’ve organized for our firm and use for reference. So much these days is made about content creation and publishing in social media – which I agree with – however, not enough effort is made about tools to speed up your research efforts with brand listening and competitive intelligence tools.

I hope this post helps you become a better marketer and feel free to use and add to the list because it’s certainly not exhaustive. And, remember one final quote:

When you take information from one competitor it’s called stealing.
When you take information from more than two competitors it’s called research.
Anonymous

Here’s our list of 100 Social Media Listening and Learning Tools

  1. 123People. 123people searches for people related information publicly available on the Internet. Through its proprietary search algorithm, 123People helps you tfind name related information consisting of images, videos, phone numbers, email addresses, social networking and Wikipedia profiles and more for free.
  2. 48ers. This free search engine searches conversations through different social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and more to uncover what people are saying about topics and brands.
  3. Addictomatic. Addictomatic searches the best LIVE sites on the web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images. Keeping up with the hottest topics.
  4. Alltop. Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop is the “online magazine rack” of the web. We love it.
  5. Alterian SM2. A business intelligence product that allows you to access customer thoughts and opinions. You can find data from social media channels to monitor your brand on blogs, message boards/forums, microblogs, wikis, video/photosharing, social networks, classified sites, and review sites.
  6. Backtype. Helps brands measure their social engagement.
  7. Bing. A free web search engine from Microsoft that finds and organizes the answers you need so you can make faster, more informed decisions.
  8. Blog Perfume. Provides WordPress users both free and paid for resources including all the useful WordPress themes, plugins, and blogging resources for pro-bloggers.
  9. BlogPulse. Free search engine for Blogs that also discovers trends on daily activity in the blogosphere
  10. BoardReader. Free search engine that allows users to search for keywords in posts and titles of online forums and search multiple message boards simultaneously.
  11. BoardTracker. Forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system, provides relevant info quickly and efficiently while ensuring you never miss an important forum thread no matter where or when it is posted.
  12. Cision (CisionPoint). CisionPoint is a PR and media solutions, technologies and services offering powered by the world’s largest media database. With CisionPoint, you get the ability to plan your campaign, connect with your audience, monitor your coverage, and analyze your results, all from one place.
  13. coComment. coComment is a service for managing, powering and researching conversations online. You can keep track of your comments across any site, share them with friends, and get notified when you get a response
  14. Commentful. A service that watches comments/follow-ups on Blog posts, Digg submissions, Flickr pictures and other types of content. Whenever there is an update, such as a new follow-up or comment, Commentful notifies you instantly.
  15. Co.mments. Co.mments helps you stay on top of the conversation by keeping you updated of new comments. Just bookmark, track and follow.
  16. Comment Sniper. Comment Sniper automatically checks leading Blogs within your industry in real-time & notifies the moment a new post has been made. This allows you to get the first mover advantage on comment posting, for more targeted Website visitors and better link popularity.
  17. Compete Site ProfileTM. Provides Website traffic history and competitive analytics; a list of available promotional codes across thousands of online retailers; and site-specific trust scores based on up-to-the-minute data from Compete and third party security services.
  18. Compete Search AnalyticsTM. Paid for platform that uses tools that help optimize search marketing campaigns, create brand awareness, drive site traffic and increase sales.
  19. Compete Referral AnalyticsTM. Paid for platform that provides powerful traffic referral and destination data that you can use to drive online marketing effectiveness.
  20. Compete Ranked ListsTM. Paid for platform that provides lists of the most popular sites across the Internet, ranked by any metric available on Compete.com.
  21. Compete BlogTM. Free access platform highlighting how people are use the Internet and where interesting, useful sites can be found.
  22. Compete Category ProfileTM. Available exclusively to Compete PRO Enterprise customers, Compete Category Profiles combine the best data in the industry with powerful exploratory and research tools that enable you to discover, take action, and measure marketing performance across the online landscape.
  23. Copernic Tracker. Copernic Tracker automatically looks for new content on Web pages, as often as you like. When a change is detected, its Website tracking software can notify you by sending an email, including a copy of the Web page with the changes highlighted, or by displaying a desktop alert.
  24. Cotweet. CoTweet is a comprehensive Web-based social media engagement, management and reporting solution that helps companies of all sizes engage, track and analyze conversations about their brands across the most popular and influential social communities today, Twitter and Facebook.
  25. Crimson Hexigon. A social media monitoring and analysis service that helps uncover consumer opinions and insights about brands, products, industry, competitors and more.
  26. Crowdbooster. Provides online influence analytics that aren’t based on numbers connected to your business and your social media strategies: impressions, total reach, engagement, and more. Also includes tools and recommendations needed to take action and improve each one of these metrics.
  27. Delicious. Delicious is a Social Bookmarking service, which means you can save all your bookmarks online, share them with other people, and see what other people are bookmarking. It also means that you can see the most popular bookmarks being saved right now across many areas of interest. In addition, the search and tagging tools help you keep track of your entire bookmark collection.
  28. Delver. Delver is an intelligent social search engine that enables you to find, experience and benefit from the wealth of information created and referenced by your social world. The search engine allows you to discover and benefit from the collective wisdom of your friends, friends of friends, and people whose knowledge and value you admire. People around you are increasingly creating and sharing useful content online through: blogs, videos, reviews, articles, websites, music… and the list is only growing.
  29. Digg. Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the Web. Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by its community. They provide tools for the community to discover content, discuss the topics that they’re passionate about, connect with like-minded people, and make new friends.
  30. Empire Avenue – The ‘Social Stock Market.” Empire Avenue is a social networking game that allows you to connect with individuals based on “value relationships”. It’s a great way to get your brand in front of new, engaged audiences and connect with relevant customers in a fun environment across 150+ countries.
  31. Facebook Search. A useful search tool for the Facebook social network powered by the Facebook Open Graph API and returns data that is publicly available. Users can search across posts, photos, people, pages, groups and events without the need to login or have a Facebook account.
  32. FeedCompare. A tool to compare the numbers of subscribers to a Blog with other Blogs. This feed comparison application lets you compare up to four feeds at a time and presents the results with a nice flash chart interface. You can also do comparisons based upon different periods of time. Free service for comparing Feedburner feed subscribers.
  33. Feedky. A tool that constantly scans popular video networks like YouTube, DailyMotion, Metacafe, Vpod, Google Video, Flickr, etc. looking for the new videos matching the tags you enter as interests.
  34. FourWhere. Helps you find comments, tips for venues left by Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp users. FourWhere automatically retrieves and aggregates user comments and visualizes them on the map.
  35. Google Alerts. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
  36. Google Blogsearch. Google Blogsearch a useful search tool that focuses specifically on finding and returning information from millions of feed-enabled Blogs.
  37. Google Insights. Compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.
  38. Google News. Google News is an automated news aggregator provided by Google Inc. The service covers news articles appearing within the past 30 days on various news Websites.
  39. Google Reader. Google Reader lets you subscribe to your favorite Websites so new content comes to you when it’s posted. Reader keeps track of which things you’ve read so that you only see unread items when you come back.
  40. Google Realtime Search. Abandoned recently – allowed users to get information from social networks, and most notably Twitter, as soon as it happened. Looks like it may re-appear with Google+.
  41. Google Trends. Compare the world’s interest in your favorite topics. Enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most.
  42. Google Video (Advanced Search). Allows you to easily search for a video by narrowing down your selections through the specification of a language, duration length, date, quality, domain, etc.
  43. HootSuite. Hootsuite is a Website and online brand management service, which publishes to Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace, and WordPress. Also features custom analytics, team collaboration, and the ability to schedule messages in advance across all social media platforms.
  44. HowSociable. HowSociable provides a simple way for you to begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social web.
  45. IceRocket. IceRocket is an Internet search engine which specializes in real-time search. The IceRocket site is a free resource for people looking to monitor their brand, it is ad supported.
  46. Keotag. Site that allows you to enter a subject and search various social media sites for what’s being said about that subject in real time.
  47. Klout. Klout compiles engagement and activity levels for brands in social media, and then assigns each user a Klout score on a scale from 1 to 100. Scoring available for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare.
  48. Looxii. Social Media tracking tool for small to medium businesses: Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, Forums, Identica and YouTube.
  49. MentionMap. A visualizer tool that lets you assess the most influential Twitter users in various sectors.
  50. Metacafe. The first and only entertainment destination solely dedicated to showcasing the best short-form videos from the world of Movies, Video Games, TV, Music and Sports – programmed for today’s young male Entertainment Drivers.
  51. MonitorThis. A search engine tool that allows you to search for new entries in 25 different search engines.
  52. Monitter. A real time search tool that helps you monitor a set of keywords on Twitter. You can narrow a search to a particular geographic location, allowing you to find out what’s going on in a particular part of the world. Let’s you monitor Twitter for keywords, phrases and topics being discussed online at a glance (We still prefer Hootsuite).
  53. MyTweeple. Checks out your Twitter account and analyzes who is following you back — a good way to monitor reciprocal relationships.
  54. Northern Light Search. Providing strategic research portals, business research content, and search technology to global enterprises since 1996.
  55. Omgili. A (Oh My God I Love It) forum search engine that lets you find communities, message boards, discussion threads about any topic.
  56. OpenBook. Lets you do a live-search of Facebook member status updates in real-time by searching people’s Facebook posts. The results are from public status updates where the Facebook member has their settings public.
  57. Page2RSS. A service that helps you monitor Websites that do not publish feeds. It will check Web pages for updates and deliver them to your favorite RSS reader.
  58. PeerIndex – Track you online influence with an array of influence metrics on your various social networks. Easily connect your profiles and pages and PeerIndex analyzes them for activity, audience, and authority. This is a great option to help you discover authorities and opinion makers around a particular topic.
  59. Plancast. Discover events your contacts plan to attend as well as other cool events coming up in your area through signing in via your Facebook or Twitter account.
  60. Pleegs. A free search engine that uses 16 other search engines to give you the most up-to-date information about anything you desire. Pleegs allows you to track a product, link, brand or name and gives you the option to receive new information by RSS, email, or directly on your blog with a widget.
  61. PostRank. A platform that tracks where and how users engage, and what they pay attention to — in real-time. PostRank gathers where and when stories generate comments, bookmarks, tweets, and other forms of interaction from a host of social hubs. Lets you uncover your influencers, identify which social networks give you the greatest traction and benchmark yourself against the competitors
  62. Pulse of the Tweeters. A service that uses data mining and sentiment analysis to mine millions of tweets and find the most influential people on Twitter around your cause or sector.
  63. Quantcast. A free direct audience measurement for all Website owners including traffic, demographics, business, lifestyle, interests and more. Audience targeting for buyers and sellers of digital media also available to reach millions of new prospects just like your best customers (Quantcast Lookalikes).
  64. Quarkbase. A tool that scours the Internet and pulls together a report for you about any Website.  Learn about the social popularity of a site, how often it’s getting bookmarked, who’s Twittering it, who’s Digging it and so on.
  65. Radian6. A complete platform to listen, measure and engage with your customers across the entire social web. Platforms start at $600.
  66. SamePoint. Enables clients to effectively integrate social media into their business processes.
  67. Scout Labs. A web-based application that finds ‘signals’ in the noise to help your team build better products and stronger customer relationships.
  68. Seesmic. A suite of social media management and collaboration tools that provide businesses and individuals with everything they need to build their brands online.
  69. Sideline. A Yahoo! service that lets you create and group custom queries by topics of interest.
  70. Sitemeter. A comprehensive real time website tracking and counter tools give you instant access to vital information and data about your site’s audience interests.
  71. SiteTrail. A comprehensive website analysis platform for breaking social media and technology news on the Web.
  72. SocialMention. Provides a picture of how terms get used, tracking strength (brand mentions), sentiment (positive/negative tweets), passion (percentage of people discussing your brand), and reach (range of influence).
  73. Socialoyster. A tool that lets you share your online social activities with friends. This site offers three features, the Oysterpass, the Social Search Engine, and the Oysterline, that let users showcase their activities and interests.
  74. Spy. Empowers users to listen in on any social media conversations of interest, without having to take part of it or showing that he is listening at all.
  75. Technorati. Technorati Authority measures a site’s standing & influence in the blogosphere.
  76. Touchgraph. Use this free Java app to explore the connections between related websites.
  77. Track. A little-known Twitter feature that lets you track keywords and have them sent directly to your mobile phone as soon as they’re posted.
  78. Trackur. Trackur allows you to monitor your reputation, your news mentions, your PR campaigns, your employees, or your competition.
  79. Trendpedia. A multi-lingual social media monitoring and research tool provides insights into what the world is saying about your brand.
  80. Trendrr. Digital and social media business intelligence platform.
  81. TruCast. A social intelligence software solution that transforms masses of unstructured social media.
  82. Twazzup A dashboard program that monitors Twitter and will let you know whenever your keywords are mentioned in a Tweet.
  83. Tweetbeep. An online reputation management device that keeps track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates.
  84. Tweetburner. Allows you to track statistics on the links you share with Tweetburner, like on Twitter and Friendfeed.
  85. Tweetdeck. Connects you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc., and allows you to customize your Twitter with columns, groups, saved searches and automatic updates.
  86. Twendz. A Twitter-mining Web app that uses the power of Twitter Search, highlighting conversations that lead trends, conversation topics and points of view.
  87. Twilert. Sends you emails when it sees keywords on Twitter that you specify.
  88. Twitter Advanced Search. Isolates Tweets about a targeted sector. Look for keywords, search by location, date or with other filters.
  89. Twitterfall. Helps you to keep up on conversations about an event, or an online chat, using hashtags. You can use its geolocation panel to see discussions in a geographic area.
  90. Twitter Grader. A free tool from HubSpot that allows you to check the power of your Twitter profile compared to millions of other users that have been graded.
  91. Twitter Search. Allows you to check what is being said on Twitter about your brand/business.
  92. Twitscoop. Lets you search and follow what’s buzzing on Twitter in real time.
  93. Twingly. A Blog search engine featuring a SPAM-free, faceted, social search for the global blogosphere.
  94. UsernameCheck. A simple service that will let you find out where your username is registered in an instant.
  95. Video Alerts. A service that allows you to get an email notification when new videos are uploaded to YouTube, on whatever topic you choose.
  96. Viral Heat. The first measurement platform that’s social. Subscribers share a collection of profiles and charts ranging from your favorite brands, products, or topics so you can glean important insights in real-time.
  97. WatchThatPage. Enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and the service will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you.
  98. Website Grader. Website Grader is a free SEO tool from HubSpot that measures the marketing effectiveness of a Website. It provides basic advice on how the Website can be improved from a marketing perspective.
  99. Wikipedia. A free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation providing community-edited information.
  100. WhosTalkin. A social media search tool that allows users to search for and join in on conversations surrounding the topics that they care about most.
  101. Yahoo! News. Yahoo! News is an Internet-based news aggregator provided by Yahoo! It features Top Stories, U.S. National, World, Business, Entertainment, Science, Health, Weather, Most Popular, News Photos, Op/Ed, and Local news.
  102. Yahoo Pipes. A powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. Simple commands can be combined together to create output that meets your needs.
  103. Yotify. A free, personal Web scout service that enables you to track anything on the Internet, enlists your friends to help, and reports back only what you want to know.
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How Losing Money Can Increase Your Sales

Throughout this past recession, I’ve been amazed by the amount of off base brand advertising telling me how much I’ll save by buying their product.

Telegram 1 – People are more interested in ways to make or avoid losing money than saving money.

A window replacement ad that proclaims, “Stop losing over $1,000 dollars a year with your old single pane windows,” will always outsell an ad that states, “Save $3.00 dollars a day in reduced energy consumption.”

It’s a big reason why buy one/get one offers work so well. People interpret the gain as a benefit – not the savings.

Interestingly, another insightful key to prove this theory is to conduct a Google search to determine popularity and interest.

When you do a Google search on the terms ‘make money’ (web – 931mm/892mm images) vs. ‘save money’ (web – 533mm/images – 436mm images) making money beats saving money by a 2 to 1 margin!

Also, keep in mind that losing money is more closely related to making money than saving money.  And, because losing money is more painful than saving money, promoting how people can avoid losing money will always outperform a savings claim.

Telegram 2 – All things being equal, people will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure.

Here’s proof.

I’m offering to flip a coin and have you call it heads or tails (equal odds) and promise to give you $1 million dollars if you win, but if you lose you have to pay me $100,000.  Will you take me up on it?  99% of average people (not multimillionaires) would not.  Why?  Because it’s so painful to LOSE $100,000.

OK. How about instead of 1,000,000 vs. $100,000 what about a bet on:
$100,000 vs. $10,000 (uh, no) or…
$10,000 vs. $1,000 (hmmm..no) or…
$1,000 vs. $100 (hmmm, OK) or…
$100 vs. 10 (Sure) or…
$10 vs. 1 ? ABSOLUTELY!

Same odds, same ratio but varying levels of pain!

The key is to test your customer’s levels of perceived and actual levels of pain and loss.

When you understand this simple exercise you cannot lose!

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Super Bowl Ads Are a Waste of Money

As a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I certainly was disappointed with my team losing Super Bowl XLV.

However, I was more disgusted as a marketing professional when I viewed the number of lousy television commercials. What a waste of money, time and space.

When you consider the average Super Bowl commercial placement cost over $2 million and another high six figures to produce the spot (net about a $3 million investment per spot) do you really think that the majority of these so-called top brand marketers effectively took advantage of the highest rated Super Bowl ever?

Talk about opportunity lost!

Nielsen reported that Super Bowl XLV was the most viewed television show in history with a record breaking audience of 162.9 million viewers!  And, for the life of me, I cannot understand how some of these ads were approved to run.

Where’s the exciting new news? Where’s the compelling reason to buy? Where’s the interesting campaign launch? Where’s the accountability? Where’s another ETrade Baby Campaign for other products?

For me, I don’t buy into the argument about the “view buzz” metrics on YouTube. If brands think that “bigger is always better” and marketing is all about awareness and buzz, they’re way off track.

You want the awareness and buzz about your product or service to be about people having conversations such as, “Hey, did you try X? It sounds like an awesome product…let’s check it out!” I’d bet there weren’t many (if any) conversations like this happening during the big game.

Hey, I could put a dead body in the window of a restaurant and drive buzz and awareness, but I don’t think you’d want to eat there!

I can’t recall one ad that has or will influence me to inquire about, buy or refer their product. Not a one…can you?

And, if I hear one more person say that an ad is ‘cute’ or ‘funny’ without remembering the brand name I swear I’m going to choke on my Terrible Towel…much like my beloved Steelers did!

P.S.: Having said all I want to say about the total lack of accountability, campaignability and creativity (I subscribe to the old adage…’it’s only creative if it sells’) in this year’s Super Bowl commercials, I am looking forward to seeing where the Chrysler 200 heads with it’s Imported from Detroit effort. I am interested and hopeful it helps drive them business. It seems like an interesting platform to work from. But, what do I know, it ranked low on USA Today’s Ad Meter. Go figure.

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How To Profitably Raise Your Prices

In your price increase or decrease discussions always remember this old marketing truism, “Price is only an issue in the absence of value!”

In these tough economic times (and even in good times) so many of us are afraid to raise prices primarily because we know in our hearts that we’re not offering a clear value and unique experience.

If you want to profitably increase your sales, you can start by offering some WOW and then make sure enough people hear, understand and can easily act on your offer!

No matter what times we live in, people do spend money.  Sure, shoppers may be a bit more wary and discriminating during down-times, but when you offer true, visible, demonstrative and meaningful value, you can make more money and be more profitable selling your products and services at higher prices.

Pricing is a skill and an art that requires some planning and testing. You might gain some short-term market share and sales with discounts, but it could take you years to gain back your competitive positioning. And, if you are a luxury brand you could lose your brand identity while competing on low prices and turn your brand into a commodity.

I’m certainly not a fan of taking advantage of customers with higher non-justified pricing, but there are win-win ways to build profits for companies and build customer satisfaction at the same time.

Here are just some of the ways you can increase your pricing. Some good…some not so good.

Change package/serving size. CPGs do this a lot by reducing the package size a bit and related price, but your cost per ounce and/or pound increases.  How does that make you feel when you discover you’re paying more for less?

Bulk/Bundle/Combo pricing/Price a la carte. Pricing your goods or services a la carte is a good way to increase prices and then show some extra value when a customer chooses to buy in bulk (think cable companies, McDonald’s combo meals, ride all day packages at amusement parks).

Raise grandfathered prices. You can rationalize a price increase message to your ‘pioneer’ customers because ‘costs do go up,’ but if/when you do raise prices on these folks, you need to recognize your customer’s loyalty with a little extra added value to soften the blow.

Raise prices for new customers. A much easier way to raise prices instead of a general price increase across the board.

Schedule a price increase. This helps prepare your customers and carefully inform them of the reasons why you’re increasing their cost of doing business with you.

Offer performance based guarantees. Providing performance based assurances on your higher priced products is a great way to justify higher priced goods and services.

Add a little extra value. Again, adding a little extra makes your offering a little bit better and helps people more easily digest price increases.

Be different – be unique. The very best way to sell your offerings at a higher price. In fact, add a guarantee and a little extra value and you’ll become a much admired and desired triple threat.

You can be a unique necessity or discretionary product or service too – it is profitably achievable.  When you strive to be the Apple, Disney, BMW of your industry you’ll be able to command your price and see your profits soar.

I guarantee it!

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How to Improve Your Email Marketing Results

Email keeps rocking on as the killer app in online marketing (per DMA email’s ROI is over $40 to $1), and I continue to  be amazed that most brands don’t take the time to refine and improve their email marketing efforts. So many of us are far too quick to move on to the next new marketing tool without striving to flawlessly execute email marketing.

What a waste.

Forrester reported in a recent survey, that just 7% of American consumers believe the emails they get blasted with, are important or relevant.

With the ton of consumer data most brands have at their disposal, it’s a simple case of lazy marketing.

As this MarketingSherpa chart shows, there are many easy ways to improve your email marketing open and click-through rates.

For example, at a minimum brands could  testing subject lines, offers or calls to action, send time or day of week, copy and layout, landing pages and from lines, hyperlink quantity, placement and more.

The kicker is you got to do it…you got to “bring it.”

As the chart points out, over 50% of the surveyed brands have yet to take advantage of these easy ways to improve their performance.

In addition, you need to “bucket” your email addresses into databases of similar behaviors and/or event-based activities such as:

  • Life changes (e.g., new home buyer, new mother etc. )
  • Brand activities and interactions (e.g., purchase or complaint etc.)
  • Industry/environmental shifts (e.g., interest rate changes, price shifts etc.,)

Then, you move from this simple exercise to a “next best action” tactic whereby based on a customer’s previous interaction (e.g., purchase), your marketing follow-up message is related (e.g., promote service guarantee, insurance etc.,)

With any new effort, it’s wise to walk before you run with new activities you’re not accustomed to doing.

For example, one of our restaurant clients does a ton of wine tastings, so we simply started with separating our “wine enthusiasts” into a separate database and emailed wine event information only to them. Then, we only sent reminders to those who opened the initial email invitation and significantly increased open rates, click through rates, reduced opt-outs and event attendance.

Before you move on to the next new shiny tool in your marketing toolbox, make sure you can truly hammer out great email campaigns. You need to realize that you never quite arrive in this business, you got to keep striving, keep testing, keep doing – net…keep on keeping on.

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Trusted Word of Mouth Packs 50X More Punch

…than lower level recommendations and these trusted sources are typically friends or family members., reports McKinsey.

Three key telegrams from McKinsey’s word of mouth report are that WOM recommendations drive 20% to 50% of all purchases; influentials  make up about 9% of the population and drive about 3X more WOM; and, the payout of pursuing WOM excellence is enormous, delivering a huge competitive edge over other strategies such as advertising which is a distant second!

Now, I’m sure you believe WOM is a powerful tool, but these staggering numbers should put your marketing team on high alert to devise a strong WOM marketing system.

To help you along, check out McKinsey’s Word of Mouth report here: McKinsey_Word_of_Mouth. And, check out more about WOM from WARC.

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How Do You Wow

In 20 days at noon, on July 2, 182½ days of the year will have elapsed and 182½ will remain before Jan 1, 2011.

Now is a great time to take a hard look at your marketing systems to see what’s working, what’s not working, what needs to be improved and what needs to scrapped.

That’s exactly what my team and I are doing.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve picked up a few significant pieces of business (believe me, I’m not complaining – we’re blessed) that have required us to more carefully analyze our systems and processes, clients, staffing, quality of work and more.

One of the “more” things we’re reviewing is what has led to our success and how we can refine our systems to not only do a better job for our brand, but also a better job for our clients.

It’s so easy to get caught up in busy work and daily tasks thinking you’re accomplishing things, but at the end of the day you find yourself majoring in minor things without focusing on game changing work along with better planning and performance based processes. Bottom line – you need to block out your time with high value activities!

Our fixed costs, staff and management hierarchy are low, small and flat by design, but with this sudden influx of new business we’re still working hard to clean up our act before considering adding new staff, equipment and even more business.

Here’s a list of our 20 questions to improve our business focus. The list is not necessarily in order and/or exhaustive, but all apply to People, Resources, Innovation, Marketing, Operations and Finance:

  1. How can we improve upon keeping our promises
  2. How do we make our company a more fun and enjoyable place to work
  3. How can we attract high quality people who are proud to work with us
  4. Does everyone have the tools and experience they need to be successful
  5. How do we make our unique selling proposition more unique, meaningful and easier to demonstrate and communicate
  6. How can we reduce costs without impacting our performance
  7. What kinds of clients/industries should we target
  8. What clients should we keep
  9. What clients should we fire
  10. What should be on our “to don’t” list
  11. What are the three key things we can do to improve our client’s business
  12. How can we speed up our efforts to quickly build our client’s business
  13. How can we more effectively surprise and delight our clients
  14. How do we create happier clients willing to provide glowing testimonials
  15. What products and services should we stop offering and/or improve upon
  16. What new products and services (or enhancements) should we be offering
  17. How can we improve cash flow, collections and profitablity
  18. What processes can we automate and systematize to improve performance
  19. How can we better measure every sales action, marketing channel and map every touch point to determine our cost per lead, sales potential and length to close
  20. What are we missing or failing to do with regard to people, resources, innovation, marketing, operations or finance to more profitably build a better business for ourselves and for our clients – what’s holding us back

So there you go – 20 questions to ask yourself over 20 days – one a day!

However, throughout your 20 day journey, here’s the thing to keep in mind.

Net – the big question we’re working on if you boil all 20 questions down into one is simply, “HOW DO WE WOW!”

We’re working on it and know it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but how do you wow?

I’m interested in knowing.

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Guilty on All Three Counts

NERD ALERT!

This chart shows that nearly 30% of U.S. consumers use their cell phones and/or computers at the same time they watch TV.

And, I have to say that I’m guilty on all three counts and possibly four, because I can hold a conversation at the same time – at least I think so – but, don’t ask my wife!

The integration of marketing messages across platforms is becoming more critical by the minute – as well as the ability for Brand’s to create clear, easy to understand and remarkably meaningful communications.

Keep this chart in mind the next time you try to pack 60 seconds of vanilla milkshake copy into a 30 second television commercial!

Source: Experian Simmons DataStream 4.13.10

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Email Marketing to Double by 2014

Forrester says that by 2014 (see Advertising Age article), you and most of your customers are going to get over 9,000 email marketing messages a year which is about 25 messages per person per day or two times what you both got last year!

And, email marketing spending will increase to $2 billion in 2004 – about 2X what was spent last year!

So, what’s all this mean for marketers like you and how can you overcome your customer’s email irritation and overload?

Here are three ways to immediately improve your email marketing:

  1. Integrate email marketing with social media communications since most young adults (18-24 year-olds) prefer it over email; over 20% of adults prefer it too
  2. Segment email databases into smaller/tighter unique groups and send relevant, timely messages
  3. Be religious about testing your email campaigns and work to improve your creative executions and copy writing

Good luck!

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