Monthly Archives: August 2012

Good Results

There’s an expression one hears in sports sometimes that a final score is a good result.  It doesn’t pertain to your team winning (which I guess is always a good result).  Instead, it means that the outcome of the match is in line with the way the game was played. The team that dominated the game won even if it was a sloppy match or something unusual like an own goal kept it closer than it should have been.  Ugly play didn’t get in the way of the outcome.  You hear the expression in boxing too.  It means that there was no lucky one-punch knockout or the fight was stopped by a cut on the person who was winning.  The “right” guy won.

I had the same thought when the whole controversy about Jordyn Wieber happened during the Olympics.  Even though she finished fourth during the qualifying round she couldn’t compete for the all-around gymnastics gold because international rules only allow two competitors per country in the finals.  This was seen as a bad result – she played well and yet she wasn’t allowed to continue (one could ask why no one complained about the rules in advance of the Games when the US had such a deep squad but hindsight is always perfect…).

Maybe it’s the notion of fairness that’s inherent in thinking something is a good result.  That’s certainly part of it but I think it’s a bit of a misplaced focus too.  There’s a golf expression – “it’s not how, it’s how many.”  That means it doesn’t matter if you hit a soaring perfect shot to 3 feet or if you skull it along the ground to the same place.  All that matters is the final score.  As Bobby Orr said, forget about style; worry about results.  Here’s the thing: business outcomes often aren’t fair.  Idiot self-promoters get great jobs and smart, quiet people languish.   There’s a lot of focus in business on style, on “how” instead of “how many.”  Are those a “good result?”

We might ask ourselves how many good people or excellent opportunities are we overlooking because they don’t fit into our idea of perfect.  Winning ugly is still winning, right?

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Looking For An Untapped Market?

Have you ever taken an online survey? Many of them begin with some sort of demographic screening (after they ask you if you work for a research or marketing company). I always shake my head when I get tossed out of the survey (“Thank you but we are looking for respondents with other characteristics”) after I give my age. Once one is over 50, we disappear to most marketers and that’s dumb.

My thinking is confirmed by a study from the Nielsen folks called “The Most Valuable Generation.”  You can register and get the report here.  Some of the findings about we Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are that we account for:

There are a number of other findings about our brand loyalty (same as other age groups), online shopping (we do a LOT of it), social media use (a bit behind but catching up fast) and premium travel (we’re 80% of it).  The reason I’m bringing all this up is the head-shaking number:


That’s the percentage of CPG advertising that’s geared to Boomers (who buy 50% of the product).  It’s a huge opportunity for someone.  As an article on the report summed up nicely:

Boomers are the most valuable generation in the history of marketing and they are too valuable to ignore, concludes the report. The numbers on Boomers are big, and they add up to something that is very compelling.

So if you’re a marketer, are you going to listen to the facts and take advantage of an opportunity or are you going to let some bad targeting habits continue?  Your call!

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Racing To The Bottom

I was speaking with Don Antonio this morning.

English: digital hub Català: digital hub

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s a media maven who’s an incredible resource to me both personally and professionally. We were chatting, as we do from time to time, about the state of affairs in digital media and the topic of pricing came up. One needn’t think very long about how buyers and sellers interact before the realization that there’s a horrible misalignment of goals out there.  No, after 30+ years in the media business I’m not shocked that agencies want to buy things less expensively while sellers want to grow their revenues and maintain “rate card integrity.”  But it feels different now – let me explain.

It’s always been about the client – the advertiser – and getting results.  The problem now is that there’s no reasoning with a machine.  Real time buying, trading desks, and other “innovations” just push down CPM’s (which is why a lot of premium sites won’t deal in this space).  Meanwhile, a well thought out integrated promotion can’t get sold and activated because it doesn’t fit any models.  Many newer buyers (and sellers) learn  the tools but don’t understand the business.

Another thing.  comScore in particular (they sell the software) and others in general are making a big thing about not counting digital ad exposures unless there’s proof the ad was in a visible part of the page.  Nice idea – why pay for an ad that the user never saw even if it was displayed.  The problem for me is this – no other medium is doing that.  Oh sure – TV and radio can prove an ad ran – now let’s see the proof that even though the set was on someone was in the room and paying attention.  Magazines do research this but I’m not sure it’s used in rate negotiation.

We’re racing to the bottom, as The Don put it.  We use tools that drive down CPM’s and we impose delivery standards that make us work harder than any other medium to get paid.  I know – complaining isn’t a pretty way to start the week, but what are we thinking?  Your thoughts?

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Your Name Here

Let’s end the week with some Foodie Friday Fun on beverages.

A logo used, and trademarked, by PepsiCo for M...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might have seen an announcement that Mountain Dew was adding another product. They added something called Johnson City Gold, which is a malt-flavored addition (Olde English for the younger set?) to the line. However, according to Food Business News the Johnson City Gold product name may be short-lived. As part of the test market introduction, the company is running a contest to establish a new brand name. Sound familiar?

It should. There was another contest recently called “Dub The Dew” which elicited such fine names for a new green apple-flavored soda as “Diabeetus,” “Gushing Granny,” and “Moist Nugget.”  This is what can go very wrong in these days of a marketing department of millions.  A noted hacker group hijacked the contest (with pretty hilarious results) and Pepsi, to their credit, admitted in a tweet that “Dub the Dew definitely lost to The Internet“.  Ya think?

I admire the Pepsi folks for letting their customer at Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen (the local guys who actually ran the contest) give it a try.  I’m also a big fan of a well-executed practical joke.  This wasn’t the first time an internet-based naming program had gone terribly wrong.  It probably won’t be the last.  There’s a lot of good sentiment in wanting to listen to your customers, but remember that your customers in this case are a younger demographic, just the sort that thinks the creation of a new internet meme is way better than the creation of a new brand.

Maybe the promotion succeeded – after all, I’m writing about it as have many others.  Is any PR good PR?  Maybe so in this case – it’s all pretty harmless fun.  But it might be neither fun nor harmless the next time, and thinking about that balance between welcoming the crowd into the conversation and controlling the message is an important part of marketing these days.

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Johnny Carson turned around his TV career with a show called Who Do You Trust.

Johnny Carson

Ultimately, I think marketers can do the same for their many of their campaigns by asking exactly the same question as if they were their consumer targets.  Whom do they trust?  The answer is “not you” until you’ve earned it, and the places and ways to do that are, increasingly, via social media of some sort.  After all, eMarketer “forecasts that Facebook will have nearly 826 million users around the world this year, up from 650.7 million in 2011.”   Furthermore, a survey of US adults conducted by found that 84% of respondents felt that brands needed to prove themselves trustworthy before they would interact with them or other information sources. The study found that there were 10 primary trust “elements,” or cues, that brands must establish in order to engender trust, including accuracy, expertise and transparency.  eMarketer again:

In a social media context, customers wanted to see that brands had a significant number of positive reviews, and that they didn’t go out of their way to hide the negative ones. The survey found that 41% of respondents said the ability to see reviews on social networks added to their feeling of trust in a brand. Reviews played a bigger role in cultivating trust than seeing that friends had “liked” or recommended a brand, or that the brand had accumulated a large tally of “likes.”

Friends trust their friends or friends of friends or entities that are human, particularly when they’re in review mode.  Corporeal things, not corporate things, if you will, until those corporate things have a human face. Earlier this week I’ve written about how brands need to stop behaving like brands as well as how a cup of soup had a ton of marketing value while some marketing expenses fell flat.  While I hadn’t really planned out a theme week here on the screed, maybe a reminder each day that we need to speak to our audience transparently, honestly, and in a human voice isn’t a bad thing.  What do you think?

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The ROI On A Cup Of Soup

According to what I can find in their public reporting,

Panera Bread

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Panera Bread spent somewhere north of $33 million on marketing last year.  Their financial results are impressive and they get good ROI on that investment.  I’m willing to bet, however, that the best marketing return they’re going to get this year is on a cup of clam chowder and a box of cookies. You might have heard about this story, but if you haven’t, this AdWeek article sums it up nicely.  A dying grandmother wants some Panera Clam Chowder on a day when the local store doesn’t make it.  A grandson calls to ask them to help.  A smart, responsive, caring manager immediately says yes and when the kid shows up to get it, gives him a box of cookies for grandma to go along with the soup.

It being the age of social, the grandson shares the story on his Facebook page.  Half a million “likes” and 22,000 comments later, that cup of clam chowder bought Panera more goodwill and positive marketing than most of the cash it spent.  Let’s think about what went right and why.

  • Someone answered the phone.  Sounds like a small thing but how many companies do these days?
  • Someone made a decision.  Not “I’m not authorized to do that” or “I need to ask corporate”.  Someone decided to do the right thing and was empowered to make the decision stick.
  • Someone went beyond what they were asked – cookies too!
  • A brand behaved like a person!  The kid didn’t call Sue, the manager.  He called Panera which Sue represented.  The wholly human way in which she responded was perfect.
  • Panera didn’t tell the story – the kid did.  Panera didn’t manufacture anything (except the chowder and cookies).  This resonates because it’s real.

The best marketing these days tends to be just like this – treating your customers well and letting them tell the story for you.  Yelp, Trip Advisor, and other review sites are all about this, and their comments often get ported to other social sites (the usual suspects).  More time on service training and less on trying to create viral media might just get you to the same destination.

Did you see the story?  What do you think?

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Do Less, Be More Productive

Every manager I know – heck, every business I know – is having to do more with less.

English: Productivity comparison for the membe...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fewer resources.  Fewer people.  Hopefully not fewer consultants!  That means that every person on staff needs to be more productive.  Productivity is one of those tricky numbers – it’s a ratio of output to input – that seems more attuned to an industrial age than to a time when the world is moving to an information-based economy.  Still, one thing I speak with clients about all the time are results – key performance indicators, things we can measure to gauge our progress.  Sometimes I even get paid based on those productivity measures so I’m very focused on improving them.

One thing I’ve found is that we sometimes confuse putting out more with making more value.  I think many of the technological innovations which we enjoy these days were originally designed to help improve our ability to be productive.  In fact in many ways I think they had the opposite effect.  We’ve become tools of our tools.  For example many years ago when I began in business I was very careful about how I wrote each and every document because someone would have to type that document and if we needed to make changes we had to retype the entire thing.  Once word processing became the norm it was very easy to make revisions. In theory we could put out the document more rapidly since changing a word didn’t mean retyping everything.  The reality is that we spent a lot more time focusing on formatting – how the document appeared – and making little changes – a word here and there – because we could.  We didn’t think through what we were saying before we started to write.  I’m not sure we became all that more productive.

Email is another tool that should make us productive but has the opposite effect in many cases.  It’s easy to add recipients to a chain and everyone seems to want to weigh in.  What could be a 5 minute hallway conversation turns into an 8 hour chain of notes.  We’re less productive.

I advocate doing less to be more productive.  Send less email (but have more face to face conversations).  Don’t respond to every note unless it’s directed to you.  Don’t multitask – finish one thing before starting another.  Trust your staff and delegate.  Spend more time on the 20% that produces real value and less time on the other 80%. Maybe even pretend that a lot of the “productivity tools” don’t exist. What are your productivity secrets?

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