Archive | January 2012

Does Word of Mouth Travel Faster than a 30 Second Commerical?

Does a 30 second phone call with a friend telling of her purchase of a new car have more of an influence on you than watching a 30 second commercial of a truck riding through rough terrains?

In his article, GE Study Proves Consumers Respond More to Shared Content Than to Paid Placements , Jeff Neff supported the idea that sharing information from one person to another has more of an effect than a paid placement.  He explained the study GE conducted as a campaign which included a video entitled, “The GE Show” and how it was placed both as a paid placement and online sharing.

Many people have wondered what form of advertisements has the best outcome, but no research was ever conducted to support such claims, until now.

In this case study, GE found a surprising increase in positive attitude towards the company when information was shared from another person.  Could this be a result of trusting the person or people the information was passed down from?  If your favorite aunt, who you always looked up to, told you how great a company GE is and the outstanding services it provided, you would most likely believe her and even begin your own research on GE.  The opposite stands true if the same aunt explained a horrible encounter with the company.  Your feelings toward her would then make you support her and believe anything she admitted.

Dealing with the “brand lift,” consumers were asked, “What comes to mind when you think of General Electric (GE)?”  Jeff Neff explained “Consumers exposed via sharing were also 83% more likely to rate GE “creative” than those exposed to the content via paid advertising on Buzzfeed.”  This illustrated how a commercial or an advertisement could have catchy tagline or creative image, but hearing it from fellow consumers has more influence.

Paul Marcum, director of global digital marketing and programming at GE, recognized through the study how shared media was found to be more successful than paid, he also responded with his belief that “it’s still hard to get one without the other.”  We agree with Mr. Marcum that some form of paid media needs to be present in order to begin and continue the sharing of information among consumers.

Even when we’re meeting with a future business partner, boss, or acquaintance, we were taught how the first impression is the most important.  This holds true for the company’s paid advertisements and also customer service representatives.  The experiences of one person disagreeing with an ad campaign or having an unpleasant encounter with customer services can end up with several of his/her family members feeling the same disappointment with the company; without having to watch one television commercial or speak with an employee, simply because they heard it from someone they trusted.  That is why any company, like GE, should remain an honest and trustworthy company to avoid any negatively shared media and guarantee its customers a positive experience during the fist impression and throughout a continued relationship.

Final lesson…there’s nothing like a personal endorsement.


Macy’s Annual “Go Red” Program Starting in February!

  February-The month of love!  When most people hear of this month, their first thoughts are about Valentine’s Day, the selling of heart-shaped candy and chocolate bars.  How many people are actually thinking about their significant others’ real hearts?

Macy’s and the American Heart Association sure are!

This February, which is known as National Heart month will mark Macy’s ninth “Go Red” program working alongside the American Heart Association to promote, donate, and inspire people.  Like any good advertisement, promotion, and program, this year’s will have a bottom line of reaching out to and helping the customers.  Macy’s will incorporate several different ways it and the American Heart Association will interact and engage with customers.

Since 2004, Macy’s has raised an estimated $28 million for the American Heart Association. Holly Thomas, vice president of cause marketing-national, for Macy’s, explained its contributions are due to the fact, “We’ve been around for a long time and giving back to causes that matter to our customer are integral to how we connect with our customers. The value for us is certainly continuing that relationship with the customer.”

Holly Thomas is right! When Macy’s says it holds the relationship with its customers strongly and wants to connect with the them, Macy’s sure doesn’t hold back…just read all the different ways we, the customers, get to play our role in helping out the American Heart Association:

  • Beginning February 3rd, spokespeople including Elizabeth Banks, Star Jones and Nick Verreos will start off  the “Go Red for Women” campaign at Macy’s Herald Square.
  • During the first week, shop at Macy’s while wearing the color red and receive up to 20% off your purchase! Want to be rewarded, but didn’t wear red? Want to help out the benefit? That’s no problem for Macy’s customers because at points throughout the store you will be able to purchase a red dress lapel pin for only $2!
  • The discounts don’t stop there. Every year Macy’s has typically offered a red dress from I.N.C; however next month it will be offering three red dresses from I.N.C., Alfani and Charter Club for a discounted price.
  • Continuing into February, Macy’s will hold its Red Dress Dash, which previously raised $1 million for the American Heart Association. So ladies, get those discounted red dresses and your tennis shoes on, and be ready to promote and start your heart-healthy lifestyle.
  • For all of you technology gurus out there don’t forget to check Twitter and Facebook to see how a simple tweet or sending a virtual heart to a friend can help Macy’s donate up to $250,000!

Why should you cooperate and get involved? Don’t do it just for the cause, do it to make yourself informed and healthy! Holly Thomas explained that Macy’s involvement is also due to the research,  “One of the most prevailing things we learned is how prevalent heart disease is in women and how little they know that to be the case.  There is a huge education component to help our customers understand this disease.”

More details about the “Go Red for Women” events can be read in Patricia Odell’s article, Macy’s Expands “Go Red” Promotions in Ninth Year.

On a side note, Macy’s Inc. announced earlier this week it will be suing Martha Steward Living Omnimedia Inc. due to a violation of an exclusive deal between the two.  I wonder if this means customer’s may stop seeing her products in Macy’s, but consequently in JCPenny in the future?

Agency-Client Relationships: Fit Together and Stay Together

What is the last piece of the puzzle?

In an Advertising Age article, How to Be a Better Agency Client, various marketing professionals discussed what being a good client means to them, the qualities each client should possess, and the areas needing improvement in order to form a stronger connection between the two.  The relationship between an agency and its client is essential to upholding successful business in the world today.  It’s the qualities of each, that will complete the last piece in forming strong relations.

Prominent marketers commented on a wide range of improvements ranging from saying a simple ‘thank you’ after a well completed project to involving an agency in more aspects than clients’ advertising.

“We are going to say ‘thank you’ more often. Our work stands out in a highly competitive and marketing-sensitive category. It drives our business. We appreciate that and need to continue to reaffirm that”, explained the Chief Marketing Officer of Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, Tony Pace.

If agencies feel appreciated, they in turn will show it in the effort and work completed for such clients. Our mothers always taught us that a simple ‘thank you’ can take you a long way.  This held true in the cafeteria with the lunch ladies and will get you far in the business world too.

Concerning the involvement of one another, Martine Reardon, the Exec VP-Marketing and Advertising for Macy’s gave her resolution for the upcoming year as, “I resolve to be more thoughtful in how we communicate with and educate everyone at the start of an (marketing) effort so that we achieve the strongest and most strategic result.”

“One of the commitments I’d make to the agency is that we are open to being pushed, and I’m encouraging the team to be more open to ideas and opportunities to expand our marketing approach”, said Clark Wood, the Chief Marketing Officer for

John Costello, Chief Global Marketing-Innovation Officer for Dunkin’ Brands, brought together the majority of the marketers’ ideas when he stated, “The best way to be a better client is to be a better partner, with clear objectives, open communication, quick, thoughtful decisions and mutual respect, where you both listen to each other’s point of view.”

A few of the other good qualities included:

  • Treat my agency as a business partner.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
  • Hire the best and trust them when it comes to risks.
  • Spend time with my agency-in person!
  • Take the blame for bad direction.

All in all, the agency and client who work well with together will stay together.  No matter what field a client may be a part of, the relationship, goals, and end results are all similar.  However, what makes that piece of the puzzle fit correctly is the understanding and commitment of both parties.

Developing Your Annual Marketing Budget

As the new year begins, most companies (and certainly our clients) begin planning for the new year…. and one of the first things to be reviewed is the marketing budget.

Will it increase? Decrease? Where were the marketing dollars best spent? Are there new marketing avenues that we should invest in? How should the budget be divided among all our marketing initiatives?

Most advertising agencies would encourage a client to maintain or increase their marketing budget during an economic downturn for several reasons. However the primary reason to increase your marketing budget  is to position yourself ahead of the competition when things get better – you will have continued your marketing presence while they (the competition) has not thereby increasing your visibility and establishing your brand’s presence in the market.

How Much to Invest in Marketing?
Traditional rules project that your marketing budget should be between 1 to 10 percent of sales, or possibly more depending on several factors including:
– How established is your business? (If no one had heard of you yet, then you should probably spend more)
– What industry are you in? (Consider your marketing budget in comparison of what your competition is spending)
– How much can you really afford? (Don’t spend yourself into a hole, be selective in the initiatives you invest in… you can always change your plan throughout the year)

Realistically, your marketing budget should be affordable and reasonable to you and your company’s overall expenditures.

Where and How to Promote Your Brand Message?
The next challenge is selecting the marketing initiatives that are best for your brand message and marketing objectives. The most common marketing communications programs include: Print/Radio/TV advertising; direct mail; trade shows; and online marketing strategies.

The key to allocating your marketing communications budget is to start with thinking about exactly whom you want to reach and where (what medium) to reach them. Creating objectives for your annual marketing communications will help define your target audience and message strategy.

Some of the most cost-effective marketing tools today are online – i.e. your website and social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).

The best thing about your website is that potential customers have found you! You already have their attention and what they are seeking is additional information. It is important that you constantly improve your website, either by adding content or links or editing your services and products – it will help increase your search engine optimization (SEO) or ranking on search engines sites. Your website is also a key way to differentiate yourself from your competition by providing helpful, personal, and interesting content.

Social media is another excellent and affordable way to promote your products/services. While time intensive, you are able to reach your target audience and interact with them through blog posts, content sharing, video, etc. If you like small talk, consider Twitter. If you prefer in-depth conversations, perhaps blogging would be best. Or if you like to network, LinkedIn is a great way to reach new contacts.

No matter what social media channel you are communication through, always keep in mind the quality of what you’re writing and information you’re providing – it’s all about the conversation!

Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)
Regardless of the marketing communications program you develop, it is crucial to track the performance of your marketing efforts closely.

One way is to be vigilant in asking new customers how they found out about you. Include the question on inquiry forms from your website or ask when a person calls or walks in the door.

Consider using those GoogleAnalytics everyone was pushing you to incorporate into your website. What are they saying about your visitors? If more customers are coming to your website or reading your blog and following tweets, then keep spending your time and money on those efforts. If more of your customers are finding you from print ads or because they heard about you on the radio/TV, then spend more there and less on other mediums.

It costs less to keep an existing customer then to get a new one or try to win that customer back, so if some part of your marketing plan is not working out well… tweak it. Your ability and willingness to change directions  can be a huge competitive advantage with all the available avenues to promote your business.

Good luck with your promotions in 2012!