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/.
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