Monday, December 22, 2008

Emerging Media Trends


One of the first posts of this Blog was entitled "What I do Know." In that post I spoke vaguely of the power of web sites, social networking and blue tooth technology. At that point in time I was sure that social networking sites were the way to start a buzz and that emerging media were a trend not to be ignored. As I have progressed, studied and researched I have stumbled across facts that contradict my initial thoughts, but one thing remains true; emerging media is something that is here to stay and without proper knowledge and utilization, marketing campaigns will not be able to compete with those that effectively and efficiently make the most of this media. Further, I would like to offer my prespective on the future of emerging media.

50 years from now, instead of seeing a media mix that is primarily divided so that broadcast and print have the majority of allocation, we will see that non traditional and electronic communications will receive the majority of allocation. I believe that as consumers become more and more hurried and the world continues to speed along, traditional media will be pushed to the side, but not be trampled on and lost. Television, print and radio advertising will still be around but non traditional approaches and electronic communications will be the leader in terms of monies spent and allocated and will generate a significantly higher ROI than more traditional media.

The 2007 Marketer Profiles Yearbook reported that in terms of expenditures, traditional media has grown by a mere 0.6%, which is the smallest gain in traditional media since the 2001 recession. Additionally, P&G CEO A.G. Lafley Jr. stated that advertising spending has shifted from traditional media to spending on internet advertising, in store and trail activity. When domestic advertising spending is compared between 2005 and 2006, the percentage of gain for the internet is higher than TV or print. Even though spending is less on the Internet, the medium gained 17.3% between 2005 and 2006, cable television only gained 3.4% and local magazines only 7.9%. This trend shows that electronic communications is prevalent and through time, perhaps 50 years, will surpass over traditional media.

Fascinatingly, in this fast passed world, technology has allowed the consumer to absorb the same amount of information in 1 year that took 100 years in the 17th Century. It has become our culture to operate at an extremely face pace which ultimately will result in traditional media being pushed to the side and marketing to follow the new culture that will reflect the changing consumer.

In an article entitled “Marketing in Accelerated Culture,” Jay Patissal explains that “Agencies and marketers must develop and implement ideas for fastpace” (Pattisall, 2006). According to Pattisall, through the coming years we will see the development of marketers becoming savvy on utilizing the internet and creating quick advertisements. Broadcast and print will continue to maintain the same or slightly lower rates and it is not likely that any of the traditional media today will become overly antiquated.

References

Pattisall, J. (2006, March 21). Marketing in accelerated culture. MarketingProfs. Retrieved October 27, 2008 from http://www.marketingprofs.com/6/pattisall1.asp.

Advertising Age Data Center 2007 Marketers Profiles Yearbook. (2007, June 25). 1-104.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Search Engine Advertising

It has to be said, search engine advertising is the next big thing in emerging media. But, did you know that search engines are 15% commercial and companies such as MSN and AOL are not exactly honest about their use of “sponsored” sites throughout their search results?

Further, 70% of searchers don’t look past the first or second page of search results; this number is astonishing especially considering all the ads that are probably located within those first two pages.

When ethics are considered, I don’t find it unethical to post information that is paid as long as it is clearly identified in the search that it is in fact an ad. What’s interesting is that a simple search for travel on AOL and MSN delivered remarkably different results. Each company listed their travel service high on the first page of results and on MSN’s results page, AOL was no where to be found. This is concerning because as a consumer I want search results to contain unbiased information that yields results that I can trust and use. When I hear that companies such as the aforementioned are acting without scruples, then I begin to become concerned about the reliability of search results.

Google did score high in both the McLaughlin’s article and the National Public Radio segment. A Google search gives the consumer unbiased, honest search results with the obvious sponsored links on the top and side that are differentiated by a different color background. In fact according to McLaughlin, “Google deliver(s) exceptionally relevant matches and it’s also the best of the bunch at identifying ads” (2002). The company holds such high merit that it received two awards at “PC World’s 20th World Class Awards.” I think that companies should use Google as a model in applying ethics to search advertising.

I also think that internet search advertising will be a benefit in the long run in that it inspires competition; companies bid on how much they are willing to pay each time a consumer clicks their ad and the biggest bid gets the highest spot. Also, a plus for marketers, internet advertisers are reaching only those already interested in that they are already searching for the product or service. It has the ability to reach a highly targeted audience. Additionally, search advertising has encouraged spending by small business and it has been identified as the fastest growing medium of all time.

References

McLaughlin, L., & Spring, T. (2002). The straight story on search engines. PC World, 20, 115-122.

National Public Radio news segment. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1836736

Top 10 New Media Things to Consider in 2009


1. Make email marketing a priority


2. Explore podcasts to see how they will fit into your next campaign


3. Remain accountable for communications and utilize marketing funds wisely


4. Embrace Mobile Marketing


5. Efficiently nail down your target audience and ensure that you are utilizing the proper techniques of communication




7. Monitor Blogs for consumer feedback on your company


8. Consider Social Media but tread lightly


9. Regain the consumer’s trust


10. Become an expert on the next big thing in emerging media

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Email Marketing Should be Part of Your Next Campaign


Although many may shy from email marketing because of the fear that SPAM might ruin the company’s credibility, the fact is that email marketing is a powerful tool when used correctly and appropriately.

Email marketing can deliver sales and revenue and has the unique ability to create and form lasting relationships. According to Jenkins email marketing is an “incredibly underrated tool for building, continuing and extending a relationship with a prospect” (2008). Email marketing can be efficiently utilized in branding, communication efforts and loyalty. Email marketing can facilitate loyalty by offering enticing incentives though email and by developing that long lasting relationship with subscribers that brand managers live for.

If the aforementioned values aren’t good enough how do you feel about utilizing email to reduce cost? With the word recession on everybody’s lips, this is a sure sell especially when email marketing has the ability to be a great bargain.

Email marketing can also be very effectively used to create a viral marketing campaign. Samsung, for example used email in conjunction with podcasts and social networks to create a viral campaign that generated a 71.4% spike in applicants and 1.5 million votes were cast as a result of the campaign. How did they do it?

Samsung hosts a fresh film competition to find the next big film maker. 10 film crews are assembled and they have “one week to cast, shoot and edit a 10 minute film” (Miller, 2007). When faced with the challenge of promoting the event and spreading the word, Samsung fired up the viral campaign that delivered the results as described above. Part of the campaign involved sending 2 million emails to the target audience, and amazing results were delivered because this critical element was integrated into the campaign.

In closing, I hope I have convinced you to give email marketing another look and I encourage you to check back for my list of things to do in 2009. I guarantee email marketing will be close to the top on my list!
References

Jenkins, S. (2008, December 15). The truth (and lies) about email marketing. iMediaConnection. Retrieved December 15, 2008 from http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/21413.asp
Miller, S. (2007, July 23). Tool: viral marketing. Brandweek. 48, 28.

Web Site Design Blunders


Many argue that impeccable web site design is a strategy that should not be over looked. In this day and age of technological savvy consumer designing an effective web site is needed for businesses to put their best face forward. An article on eWeek.com by Jim Rapoza outlined what I agree are fatal mistakes of web site design. I would like to share the most salient with you and offer some of my own insight.

1. Making the consumer click 7 or 8 times just to reach the final checkout page. After the 3rd click the consumer has gone elsewhere for that same product.

2. Weird icons that hide important information. If the user can’t understand what the icon is for, then it shouldn’t be there. Especially, if that icon is hiding information that is beneficial for the consumer.

3. Pages filled with graphics that overwhelm the consumer

4. Scripting errors. There’s nothing more annoying than clicking on a link and getting an error message or a page that is no longer there. Not only does this practice alienate consumers, but it also shows that the website is not up to date.

5. Too much animation, it tends to annoy consumers

6. Inproper use an appropriate color scheme and font choice; chances are the realtor is not going to like black Chiller Font on an orange background.

7. Navigation that is not easy and effortless

8. Text that is full of grammatical errors.

9. Overcrowding: using too many links or providing too much information is not a good way to insure your consumers are going to find the information they are looking for.

10. Not providing a site specific search engine.

Finally, did you know that according to a study conducted by Consumer Web Watch, 65% of consumers will not purchase from a poorly designed web site, even if it means not purchasing their favorite brand. Additionally, nearly half of respondents stated that web site design or “design look” is the most important aspect of a site.

The moral of the story is that although many times web site design and maintenance is pushed aside, this may be one of the most important aspects of a marketing plan. Many consumers have stated that if a web site is designed poorly that will effect their decision to shop in the brick and mortar stores of those companies.


References

Rapoza, J. (2007, September). Jim Rapoza's Top Web Developer Mistakes. eWeek. Retrieved December 14, 2008 from http://etech.eweek.com/slideshow/index.php?directory=webmistakes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advergaming: to engage or not to engage


When marketing to children through the use of online games, the opportunities are endless. When looking at childhood obesity rates, marketers are faced with the moral obligation to ensure they communicate in a manner that is consistent with parents’ morals and values. Major children’s brand Nickelodeon has announced that by January 2009, their characters will only be found on products that are part of a healthy, well balanced diet. Due to societal pressure and moral obligations, marketing to children has shifted from junk food marketing to promoting “health and wellness messaging to children” (Heller, 2007). Furthermore, brands have increasingly been committed to teaching children the benefits of going outside to play rather than sitting around the house watching television or playing online.

Marketers will argue that marketing to children educates, empowers and facilitates the learning and growing process. According to Neeley marketing “can develop [children’s] critical evaluation skills, and may become more savvy consumers” (2004). Marketers have a moral obligation to recognize the learning opportunities that exist through advertising and should take care not to exploit the opportunity by imposing opinions and promoting products that are counterintuitive to growth and development.

Children are highly influenced by visual and auditory stimulus, such as animated characters in online games. Because of this it has been shown that children are more likely to recognize these characters and as such more likely to listen to their messages. Therefore, marketers have great power to influence children with these animated characters and are more likely to make these characters a main focus in online games. When used responsibly, these characters can deliver positive messages that are inline with parents’ morals and values and marketers can still promote their brand in a way that is befitting of the brand and its position.

It has become increasingly more difficult for children to make the distinction between reality and fantasy in the online environment particularly through advergames and spokes-characters. When used responsibly, marketers can use these characters and the online environment to their advantage and for the greater good of the child population.

So, now that you know some of the facts, will you engage children through advergaming?

References

Heller, &. (2007, Aug 23). Nickelodeon ends character licensing to junk food. Retrieved December 8, 2008 from http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Financial-Industry/Nickelodeon-ends-character-licensing-to-junk-food

Neeley, S., & Schumann, D. (2004). Using animated spokes-characters in advertising to young children. Journal of Advertising, 33, 7-23.

Do Marketers Create Brand Continuity Between English Sites and Hispanic Sites?

In a review of several Fortune 100 Companies, a startling revelation has taken place. It seems as those companies who have created sites in the Spanish language do not take as much care in sending the same brand messages. I was always taught that as you flip through a site you should always be aware that you are in the same sites. Many times when sites are updated or have been taken on by a different person, the site look changes and consumers are more apt to receive conflicting brand messages. This same principle should be applied when constructing a site in different languages.

For example, Disney and Walgreens both have taken the time to create sites for Hispanic consumers that are in the Spanish language. That’s great, but these sites don’t appear to offer the same promotions and they don’t have the streaming videos and animation like the English sites do. Also, it must be noted that the younger group of Hispanic American consumers prefer to be spoken to in English and they prefer a people of Latin decent for visual orientation.

An article I read stated that even though in 2000 Hispanics “represented over 50% of the U.S. population growth” (Kutchera, 2008) marketers have still not embraced the online medium as adamantly as other media. The article goes into some detail concerning options for using the online environment to market to Hispanics. It is a great read for those companies looking at more effectively marketing to the Hispanic community.

References

Kutchera, J. (2008, December 4). New targeting methods for reaching u.s. hispanics. MediaPost. Retrieved December 5, 2008 from https://webmail.us.army.mil/en/mail.html?lang=en&laurel=on&cal=1.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Black Friday: The Results Are In!

As a follow up response to my original Black Friday posting I would like to provide some interesting information on the marketing efforts of 2 super giants; Macy’s and Wal-Mart. If any of you have opted-in to Advertising Age (and I suggest if you haven’t you do as it is very informative), you have probably seen this article in your inbox; however, I am going to take a different look so please keep reading!

So my original question was, how are retailers going to manage this day of all days, the day that officially kicks off the Holiday shopping season? Both Wal-Mart and Macy’s went about their marketing in noticeably different directions. Macy’s celebrated their 150th anniversary, Martha Stewart made a cameo in the “Believe” campaign, their annual Thanksgiving Day Parade brought national coverage and “price and promotion offers” ran rampant.

In contrast, Wal-Mart concentrated on the theme “saving you money to deliver special family moments” (Young, 2008). The popular “Carol of the Bells” featuring cashiers flicking the lights above the registers in time with Christmas music was a hit again this year and of course they featured price and promotion offers just as Macy’s did.

Now what did they do online? Wal-Mart fared better than Macy’s with emerging media tactics. Wal-Mart very effectively created a buzz when they leaked their holiday catalog a week and a half early and they employed “Black Friday comparison websites and search engines” (Young, 2008) and they actively promoted Cyber Monday activity.

Macy’s employed an electronic Believe Meter on their “Believe” microsite and they had a Santa letter kit which was downloadable for free. Finally, the “Be Claus” feature allowed consumers to upload a photo and make themselves into Santa Claus.

The meat of each company’s marketing campaign lies within their mobile marketing techniques! Here’s what tops the cake! Even though my poll last week revealed that 100% of respondents would not accept mobile marketing, consumers of Wal-Mart and Macys felt exceedingly different. As Santa’s float passed observers during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade they received a text asking them whether they wanted to receive a free download.

Wal-Mart’s mobile campaign alerted consumer “with special holiday savings, instant gift ideas, recipes, product information and reviews” (Young, 208). Furthermore they could opt in by either dialing #WMT from their cell phones or visiting www.walmart.com/mobileinfo.

In conclusion, I am happy to report that brand managers and marketing personnel have begun to actively, aggressively and positively employ emerging media in a successful manner. This trend will surely continue as we maintain the sophisticated means in which we live and interact with each other. Emerging media has proved to be an exciting turn for marketers and adds a very rich new dimension to the world of marketing.


References

Young, A. (2008, December 3). Macy’s vs wal-mart: the battle for black Friday. Advertising Age.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Short Films and Streaming Media


If you don’t know yet, short films have become a marketing technique that is growing in popularity among marketers and businesses. Brands such as Nike, BMW, Mercedes and many others have produced short films in the hopes of catching the interest of members of their target market. Furthermore, the majority of products and causes stand to benefit from a short film that is well produced, thought out and one that is unique enough to start a buzz.

Enter streaming media, “a technique that allows Internet users to see and hear digitized content (i.e., sound and video) as it's being downloaded” (WVU, 2008). This tool aids short films, podcasts and marketers because instead of waiting on the antiquated technique to completely download the file (which could take hours), users can watch the video instantly; thus, eliminating frustration and delivering the instant gratification this society thrives for.

Streaming media is advantageous to marketers because the customer testimonial becomes real as consumers can listen and see what others have to say about the product. Rhodes states that streaming media “can be integrated into your website as a means to help people get over that "hump" when they haven't been able to see or touch a product” (n.d.). In a world filled with Internet and web sites, this new technology can help build trust, educate consumers and of course create a buzz.

As I have alluded to in earlier posts, creating and generating a buzz or developing a creative, innovative viral marketing campaign are key marketing strategies that should be used in our fast paced society. Streaming media and short films aid marketers in the quest of buzz building.

References

Rhodes, R. (n.d.) Sales with streaming media. Marketingprofs. Retrieved December 1, 2008 from http://www.websitemarketingplan.com/online/SalesStreaming.htm.

Streaming Media Image. (n.d.) Retrieved December 1, 2008 from http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.backstar.com/images/webcasting_onwhite.jpg&imgrefurl.

WVU. P.I. Reed School of Journalism. (2008, August 18). Lesson 6

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Black Friday is Approaching!


With Black Friday fast approaching and the economy in turmoil, what will marketers do to convince consumers that they should brave the crowds and spend their hard earned dollars on a day that historically marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season? Every retailer known to man has a sale that starts at 0 dark 30 in the morning, restaurants follow suit by opening 3 -5 hours early, signs on billboards promise the sale to beat all sales and the buzz has been building for weeks. One account of Best Buy on Black Friday placed employees at work at 2 am and shoppers in line by 3 a.m.! Even perhaps more crazy, the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, TN plans on opening up at midnight Friday morning to give shoppers the chance to save big.

Now, onto marketing communications; I received an email from Apple that proudly proclaimed that they have “Lots of gifts. 1 day not to miss.” (Apple, 2008). Wow, I truly feel compelled to get out there and see what I might be missing. Yes, that comment is dripping with sarcasm, but on a serious note, what do marketers have to do to be heard through all the clutter? Every brand out there is asking consumers to shop with them, experience their sales and tell their friends. It is so loud that the reality may be that those who whisper will be the ones who are heard

Take this for example, a brand places a bug in the ear of a consumer, that consumer tells another who tells another who tells another. As this viral marketing campaign grows wings, the word begins to spread, the brand has not spent an exorbitant amount of money, their message has been heard and their goals have been accomplished. The consumer has not had to be inundated with their advertising and subconsciously might even prefer the brand over others who have tried hard with their rhymes and slogans.

All that being said, let’s not forget about Cyber Monday! The Monday following Thanksgiving has now been taken hostage by online shopping. But alas, this conversation will have to wait for another day.

References

Apple email. (2008, November 25). Retrieved November 26, 2008 from https://webmail.us.army.mil/en/mail.html?lang=en&laurel=on&cal=1.

Black Friday Image. Retrieved November 23, 2008 from http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nataliedee.com/112307/black-friday.jpg&imgrefurl.

Wolf, A. & Smith, S. (2006, December 4). Twice on the scene: a black Friday journal. Twice. 21, 26.

Data Mining's Implications on IMC

Ethically, businesses have the obligation to inform consumers that their information will be utilized to compile databases and will be sold for the purpose of advertising and marketing. It can be argued that if a business uses the information collected to enhance the experience for the consumer then this would be valid, but they should not sell that information or trade it to build massive databases, that would be ethically wrong. For example, Harrah’s Entertainment in Las Vegas uses technology to capture information on their consumers. They then use that information to project super targeted messages to the consumer. Further, they have not contracted with any third party to sell or trade the information nor do they purchase any data from external sources.

When asked about ethics and data mining, Allen Nance, president of email marketing communications for the firm Mansell Group in Atlanta states, “what's alarming to me isn't the strategies companies are applying for their own benefit, but the large, large companies forming data alliances for someone else's benefit” (Shermach, 2006). His assertion is absolutely correct on many levels. Ethics should certainly be called into question when corporations use others for personal gain.

Another article further substantiates my claim that data mining can and many times does border the ethics line. Even though many marketers will argue the same tired argument that data mining will allow for more precise targeting, it is important to note that “the collection and analysis of consumers’ personal information from various electronic databases also raises significant privacy concerns” (Spangler, et al, 2006). The argument is not one against new technology and advances in marketing, but rather a defense of the consumer’s right to privacy. Standard operating procedures and policies should be developed and strictly implemented to ensure every consumer’s private information is guarded.


So, here’s the deal, if data mining practices are going to succeed then compromises must be made on behalf of the consumer. The reason for this is simple; if the consumer feels their privacy is being exploited on behalf of big business then they are likely to feel disdain for the brand and all extensions and products and will inevitably look to other brands to satisfy their needs and wants. A violation of consumers’ privacy should not be considered a “cost of doing business” (Spangler, et al, 2006), rather consumers’ privacy should be treated as valuable and considerations and provisions should be made to ensure that privacy is protected by all means necessary.

References

Big Brother image. Retrieved November 24, 2008 from http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://activerain.com/image_store/uploads/2/9/2/0/9/ar11816580090292.jpg&imgrefurl=http://activerain.com/blogsview/121576/Mobile

Shermach, K. (2006, August 25). Data mining; where legality and ethics rarely meet. Retrieved November 16, 2008 from http://www.technewsworld.com/story/52616.html?wlc=1226881278.

Spangler, W., Hartzel, K., Gal-OR, M. (2006, May). Exploring the privacy implications of addressable advertising and viewer profiling. Communications of the ACM. 49, 5.

Is Mobile Marketing the Next Big Thing?


Cell phones are such an intimate part of our lives that it is hard to believe that consumers will accept marketing delivered straight to their cell phone. Many people have rid themselves of home phones and land lines so as to escape that annoying telemarketer calling right as dinner is placed on the table or even worse, calling at 9 pm! Will the national do not call registry contain more cell phone numbers than land lines at some point in time? Is mobile marketing an idea that looks unstoppable on paper but once applied will fail like the Nazis on D day?

Let’s take the facts. Mobile internet usage is on the rise and over 100 million unique mobile subscribers have been logged in 2008 (Mobile Internet, 2008). It can be argued that mobile marketing will be the most efficient and effective way to talk to today’s consumer. Text messages are read on a significantly frequent basis and this medium can prove to be a personal and instant link between you and the consumer. However, not everything is bright as many consumers think that mobile marketing is a serious invasion of privacy and wouldn’t compromise. Further, SPAM could get out of hand as it did with email and this could be disastrous.

So, what are we to do? Marketers are obligated to serve as an advocate of their consumer by protecting their privacy and they must act in their brand’s best interest and explore every possible means of communicating with their target market. Many organizations stand to benefit from mobile marketing provided they act responsibly. eHarmony, Facebook, Kroger and many others have the opportunity to talk to consumers in a way that previously was unknown. Pinpointing a consumer’s location and sending messages with relevant information may be very beneficial to both the consumer and the company.

However, if companies are going to engage in this form of marketing they should ensure they set controls to protect everyone involved. Safeguarding personal information is always a must and asking consumers to opt in will help in ensuring your message is received and accepted with open “ears.” On a personal note I think that mobile marketing will be accepted in the very near future. Just as I have stated in earlier posts; people are consistently resistant to change and this may just take some extra time to absorb into the non-believers mind.

References

Mobile Internet Usage Continues to Climb (2008, November 19). Nielsen Company. Retrieved November 23, 2008 from http://www.mmaglobal.com/?q=node/7646.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where does marketing to children cross the line?


As a Mother of 2 children I have to wonder how far is too far when marketing to children is concerned. As humans I HAVE to rely on the assumption that marketers are scrupulous and are of high moral integrity; as such I WANT to believe that they will not cross the line when talking to my highly impressionable children. So, this begs the question, where is the line when marketing to children?

Now, I am a woman who is ready to embrace change and all its idiosyncrasies. I am also one to give a chance to Internet marketing (with limitations) as many are quick to question its ethicality. My parents questioned television and Nintendo and as a technologically savvy culture we have moved on from these “antiquated” devices and have embraced Xbox and DVR; are we to be as judgmental on these media as my parents were on the new media developed during my childhood?

One psychologist describes advertising to children as “narcissistic wounding” (Clay, 2000). A very harsh concept used to describe the fact that children feel inferior if they do not have the latest and greatest toy on the market. I do not feel this strong hatred as he, but I do have to question sites that clearly are looking solely at sales and profits as success and not at the well being of our future leaders. I would like to offer two sites that I believe to be ethically sound:

Nick Jr
California Strawberry Kids

My basis for this decision deals simply with content. Both Nick Jr. and California Strawberry Kids contain content that is clearly beneficial to children and helps to expand knowledge and facilitate learning. Of course, I do want to know what you think. Please share other web sites that you feel set the example in marketing to children and those you feel could use some improvement.

References

California Strawberry Kids Web Site. (n.d.) Retrieved November 17, 2008 from http://www.strawberryville.com/.

Clay, R. (2000, September 8). Advertising to children: is it ethical. Retrieved November 12, 2008 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep00/advertising.html.
Nick Jr Web Site. (n.d.) Retrieved November 17, 2008 from http://www.nickjr.com/.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Umm, You forgot a comma...


One of my biggest pet peeves is when I receive an email that has blatant grammatical errors and has utilized the English language in a manner unacceptable even of 12 year old. It really is too easy to proof read an email before sending it, running it through spell and grammar check or even asking a buddy to proof it for coherence. What makes sense to you does not always make sense to the consuming population. Further, the improper use of the apostrophe drives me crazy. I am not an English major and do not try to impersonate one, but seriously Consumers is plural and Consumer’s implies possession. However, this will have to wait for another discussion.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who feels this way. In a study or review of over 70,000 emails, formatting errors took the number one slot. Mistakes such as bad URLs, bad links and placing two @ symbols in the sender’s address bring discredit upon the originating company / brand. Consumers stand to get annoyed rather quickly when they click on a link and are routed to a “404 page not found.” Simply checking the workability of those links would save the guilty company much embarrassment. Perhaps even worse than formatting errors is when a company publishes wrong or inaccurate information and has to issue a correction. Not only does this make the company lose credibility, but creates more work, thus costing the company more, thus making for unhappy CEOs and other heads of corporations.

So, last on my soap box here perhaps happens deals more in the professional realm of sending emails, but if you intend on attaching something then make sure it gets attached. I have done this and have been so embarrassed. I mean, I looked unprofessional as I sent out a second email stating, “forgot the attachment.” In fact, a business that shall remain unnamed has done this to me several times. It’s a running club that sends monthly schedules of group runs, training and race information. On several occasions, the emails have come with no attachment with the inevitable second email arriving a few minutes and on a few occasion a few days later. Now, that’s unprofessional.

Now, that I have said my piece, I want to know what irks you. What email practices have you found to be unbefitting of a strong brand?

References
Deleted email image (n.d.) Retrieved November 15, 2008 from http://www.evula.org/infernostudios/n00bdeterrent/deleted.jpg

McCloskey, B. (2004, June 3). Email worst practices: a must read primer on bad email practices. Email Insider: MediaPost.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Get Buzzed

Buzz marketing can be described in a variety of fashions. However, I like to put it simply as getting others to talk deliberately about your brand. Buzz marketing is the art of getting consumers to spread the word, without having the scent of marketing and being saturated in spontaneity.

Buzz marketing has exploded due to increased use of the Internet, it is relatively inexpensive and it is unique. The possibilities are endless and are at the mercy of the imagination. In buzz marketing there there are a few key players that we like to refer to as the ABCs; Alphas, Bees and Consumers

The Alphas are the individuals that are enthusiastic about spreading the message, they are the “prime influencers” (IMC, 2008) of a group, the people whom others are most likely to want to emulate. “Bees are the messengers” (IMC, 2008). They are the people who are knowledge seekers, are internet savvy, text message often and include a large range of demographics. Finally, the consumer is, well, the consumer. They “follow the bee in the quest for goods and services” (IMC, 2008).

I am an example person, so a couple of the greatest buzz campaigns include Burger King’s Whopper Freak Out and Converse.

Converse mastered the art of crowdsourcing, where, put simply, consumers play the role of marketer for a nominal fee. Converse held a contest in which they asked consumers to submit a new ad for their shoe known as Chuck Taylors. Filmmakers were also asked to submit a short video for the shoe.

The response was overwhelming and the result was free advertising, because for the consumer and filmmaker just the sight of their creation on national television or in print is good enough.

Burger King’s Whopper Freak Out Campaign started a buzz and became one of the best known viral marketing campaigns. The company video taped consumers’ reactions when the cashier informed them that they had discontinued the Whopper. After a good reaction was caught on tape, the “King” came out with a Whopper on a platter. Check out the web site of countless consumers reactions. This is where the viral campaign came into play, the video started consumers talking which prompted others to view the videos and ultimately brought consumers into the fast food joint.

The conclusion, embrace viral marketing, make it an integral part of your next marketing campaign and chase a good idea down with a stiff shot of creativity.

References

IMC 619 Lesson 3. (2008, August 18). Creating Buzz, Viral Marketing, Crowdsourcing and Blogs. P.I. Reed School of Journalism.

The Whopper Freakout: Burger King’s Latest Marketing Campaign. (2007, December 13).

Blogs, Blogs and More Blogs

A Blog as defined by Wikipedia “is a Web Site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog (n.d.).

A blog in the sense of marketing communications should be seen a very useful and powerful medium in which to spread positive brand messages. There are many unofficial blogs in the blogoshpere where consumers get together and discuss what they like and dislike about different brands. Starbucks, Xbox and Apple are just a few of the many brands where consumers have expressed their opinions via the unofficial blog. The challenge for marketers is to read through these blogs, determine what information is valid and address the concerns voiced by consumers.

Another powerful blog is the official company blog. Here CEOs, members of Middle Management and other employees have the opportunity to express happenings within their company. This form of blogging can contribute to a positive work climate and consumers can “hear” first hand what the company has to say about different products and services offered.

However, my search for company blogs of my favorite brands turned into disappointment as none of these brands maintained a company blog. The fact is that blogging is “the single best way of generating sustained, quality buzz for your company” (Yoskovitz, 2008). Further, providing thoughtful content that will get people talking is the best way to ensure you have created a successful blog. My final thought on company blogs is that they must be maintained. There is arguably no better way to discredit your company that to create a blog and have no entries dated prior to 6 months ago. Consumers want real news, current content and something to talk about.

References

Blog. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog.

The Computer Demands a Blog. (2007, March 20). Retrieved November 9, 2008 from http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/032007/the-computer-demands-a-blog.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/tfd-archives/tfdarchive-

Yoslovitz, B. (2008, January 4). How to create the perfect company blog. Retrieved November 9, 2008 from http://www.instigatorblog.com/how-to-create-the-perfect-company-blog/2008/01/04/.




Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Newspaper Opportunity

I talked in my last post about the death of the newspaper, but I would like to submit that perhaps the newspaper will be kept around for days such as today when everyone wants their piece of history. Knowing that newspaper sales will probably exceed the norm on post Election Day and even more significantly, the day after a historic election, the question must be asked.


Did marketers take advantage of the increased newspaper sales?

The New York Times reported today that they printed an additional 75,000 copies and customers were in line all day to get a piece of history they can preserve for their children’s children. Newsstand managers across New York City reported that they sold out of papers by 8 and 9 a.m. Further, the New York Times sales were up 10 % today and papers across the country experienced the same increase in sales. And if this weren’t good enough; the paper also experienced 2.7 million “mobile page views” today.

So, with this extra volume on this historic day, did marketers seize this golden opportunity to express their brand messages both in the daily newspaper and online?

Unfortunately, I am in no position to answer this question, but I can make a few assumptions, educated guesses, hypothesizes; or perhaps I could just tell you what I would do.

It certainly seems that a strong brand could send some clever brand messages with the unique opportunity for these messages to be inadvertently preserved throughout time. These newspapers are being seen by significantly more consumers than usual and almost like the Super Bowl ad they should be well thought out, have a clear goal and resonate with the consumer. For an event that only comes around once every 4 years with the proven increase in sales and readership on that following morning, it is a great avenue for both print and online, for marketers to get their word out!

References

Kilgannon, C. (2008, November 5). Dead tree additions sell out, so presses roll again. The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2008 from http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/dead-tree-editions-sell-out/.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are Newspapers in Peril?



There has been talk that the paper version of the newspaper is on its way out the door and into the trash can where it will surely meet its inevitable demise.


Are newspaper sales really on the decline?


For the non-believers out there, it is true. Newspaper sales are on the decline, USA Today reported that weekly circulation fell 2.5% and Sunday circulation 3.1%.What happened to the traditionalist who enjoyed sipping hot coffee reading the funnies on Sunday morning?

I am searching for the answers to a couple questions:

1. Will the internet contribute significantly to the end of the print newspaper?
2. Will the newspaper be able to make a comeback?

Today’s "news observer" prefers reading current events as they happen on the internet and on cable TV. In today’s society filled with needs of instant gratification, the news in the local paper becomes ancient in the middle of its production. So, what’s good for newspaper companies? Their online readership is up 8%, so while the paper version of the newspaper may be on its last leg, the online newspaper web sites have begun to flourish.

I will argue that the newspaper will make a comeback and will survive the digital age. Further, Internet is not the only guilty party in the fall of the newspaper; cable TV, the behaviors of the consumer in the new era and arguably poor marketing tactics have contributed to the fall in sales and readership over the years. People who have been in the business for a while know that they are there to stay and they will inevitably pose the question, “Ask me again in 20 years” (Jacoby, 2007).

References

Lieberman, D. (2006, May 9). Newspaper sales dip but websites gain. USA Today. Retrieved October 30, 2008 from http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2006-05-08-newspaper-circulation_x.htm

Jacoby, J. (2007, October 28). Will newspapers survive? Boston Globe. Retrieved November 3, 2008 from http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/10/28/will_newspapers_survive/.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What I do know


With the introduction of widgets, BlueTooth, short films, social networking, RSS Feeds and so many more many are left to wonder what is in store for traditional media such as television, radio and print. Of the latest and greatest new media options, perhaps the most prominent are web sties and social networking sites.

Web sites are great as long as they aren’t too busy, too annoying or too loud. It is important to note that there is a defining difference between a corporate web site and a marketing web site. Corporate web sites are great for annual reports, company history and employee of the month pictures, but a marketing web site is where marketers really get to the heart of selling the brand and maintaining ROI.

Social networking is great for a variety of reasons. Finding prospective employees, spreading the word about a certain product or service or just WOM (word of mouth) social networking sites are a great tool. However, it is important to know that just spreading your business across any networking site that will have you can be detrimental to your brand. Conducting research on the available sites is beneficial because you will want to be associated with professionals. Check out LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace or Twitter.
Ensure your business is easy to find, your profile has the appropriate mix of personal and professional, and your profile drives visitors to your web site. And of course, avoid these 7 “deadly sins of social networking” as described by Advertising Age:

1. Don’t be a spammer
2. Don’t be a stranger
3. Don’t be noise
4. Don’t be lazy
5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
6. Don’t be fake
7. Don’t be selfish (Kugler, 2008).

When thinking about all this new media, the most important fact of all is that you should not be afraid to fail. Considering the amount of new media, trying and failing, refining and then trying again may very well be a new “emerging media marketing tactic.”

References

Kulger, L. (2008, September 22). Advertising Age. Make social networks work for you. 79, 35.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Little About Me







Hi, my name is Stephanie, I am the proud mother of a 2 year old daughter, a 6 month old son, I have a wonderful husband and am the owner of 2 pound puppies. I enjoy running, reading, spending time with my family and anything that involves being outside and being active. I received my BS from Wayland Baptist University in 2007 and have begun on my MS from West Virginia University. My husband also attends WVU and is looking to finish his Masters of Special Education at the end of Spring 2009.

I work for the United States Army as a flight medic. However, in the Army we are known as being masters of many vocations so I currently spend most of my days working in the capacity of the office manager for my company. Diversity could very well be my middle name as I have held many jobs in the Army, but I do look forward to finishing my service commitment and moving on to a different career field and truly testing myself (did I express that politely enough?)



I am passionate about learning and have become increasingly interested in what the internet and interactivity have in store for marketers, advertisers, businesses, brands and consumers. With your help I look forward to exploring this new technological savvy medium and the advances and perhaps downfalls it can bring to the life of a brand.
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