Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl

Another ESPN Regional Television owned bowl with the Title Sponsorship from Beef O'Brady's restaurant. Of Course broadcast on ESPN with TV ads and on feild signage.

Sponsorship link: http://www.stpetersburgbowl.com/sponsors_recognition.php

Results: O'Brady's home base is Tampa Floriday so there is a natural tie in with the community. Looks like most of the locations are in the southern portion of the US, college football's hot bed. Website for the bowl game is well done and also lots of info on O'Brady's website and using social media to pub the game. Good job using sponsorship to help build the brand and attracting franchisees.

Sponsorship Grade: B

What Brand are you in?

As I travel around from airport to airport you meet and see lots of interesting people. But what does an airport tell you? It should give you the feel of the brand; the city. But most fall way short of that, some are right on the brand building train and some are stumbling on it without trying. Newark and JFK fall into it just with being busy, the buzz is all over the place just like NYC. Austin TX has a local feel, live music and food that is Austin. ln Vegas the slot machines in the baggage area tell you all you need to know about Sin City. But next time you fly into Baltimore, Atlanta and Buffalo close your eyes and ask yourself what brand is being represented? I have done it and it's not easy.....

The same principals apply to a retail business, close your eyes next time you are in a McDonalds or Subway or any other retail establishment and just listen to the buzz and employees..can you tell what brand you are about to eat or drink?

What are the walls telling you?

Monday, December 20, 2010

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. R+L Carriers is the Title Sponsor of this bowl game in New Orleans. Great city to host a bowl game and will again host two games with the BCS Sugar Bowl being the "real" game. R+L Carriers is a Global Transportation Service Provider..think UPS on a commercial level.....I think?
I watched a few minutes of this game and there were more empty seats then actual people in the stadium. Game was broadcasted on ESPN so R+L had commercial spots during the game and on-field signage. And of course with all bowl sponsorships there is charity part of the sponsorship that is a feel good for the sponsor and community. Below is from the R+L website explaining what they do:

R+L Carriers is a Global Transportation Service provider designed to provide superior service at competitive pricing through safe and efficient operations and innovative thinking to the ultimate benefit of our customers and shareholders. Customer satisfaction is mandatory to ensure future success.

Official Partners Link: Not separately listed, but on bottom of website http://neworleansbowl.org/

Results: Again not sure R+L Carriers are reaching target market with this Bowl Sponsorship. But they do get there name out there in hopes of gaining brand recognition. I would imagine the lack of interest as evidence from the lack of attendance this bowl game maybe on it's way out and not sure anyone would notice.

Sponsorship Grade: D

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl

The uDrove Humanitarian Bowl is held in Boise Idaho on the Blue Turf. You maybe asking yourself...who and what is uDrove? They are the title Partner of this bowl. After visiting the uDrove website I am still not exactly sure what UDrove is, but looks like they are an app for commercial drivers to log miles and gas expenseses. Below is from the uDrove website explaining what they do:

uDrove® is a revolutionary new business and compliance management tool for the transportation industry. Using the functionality of your smart phone, uDrove replaces in-cab paperwork and delivers the data instantly to a web account – allowing you to manage your business faster, smarter and more cost effectively!

With uDrove®, you can easily track information on an iPhone®, Android™ or BlackBerry® smart phone to record driver logs, track mileage, submit fuel and business expenses, complete vehicle inspections and more.

Official Partners Link: http://www.humanitarianbowl.org/sponsors.asp

Results:Commercial drivers are a very specific niche and not sure if a bowl game on ESPN in Boise gets there brand out to there intended group. I would think most commercial drivers are doing just that....driving not watching a bowl game. But it did get me and I am sure a lot of bloggers to go to there website to see what uDrove is all about.

Sponsorship Grade: D

new QR Code for 4 Wall Marketing and Sponsorships

Breaking Down the Bowl Sponsorship Season:New Mexico Bowl

First Bowl up is the New Mexico Bowl. With Title Sponsorship from the New Mexico CVB, owned by ESPN Regional Television and of cource braodscated on ESPN. Here is a link to the list of Bowl Partners

Not sure if you sat down to watch the New Mexico bowl it would make you want to go to your computer and book a New Mexico vacation? But with commercial spots on the ESPN broadcast and on field signage maybe someone booked that trip to Sante Fa for the holidays.

Sponsorship Grade: C

Monday, December 13, 2010

President Clinton can still work a room.

Politics aside President Bill Clinton can still work a room. This past Friday the former President was at the White House to meet with President Obama. They decided to talk a stroll to the press room only to find the door to be locked! President Obama asked who had the keys and how long it would take to get the press corp to fill up the room...well it took all of 5 minutes to become standing room only.

President Clinton said he felt awkward addressing the media, that ways a great way to set expectations low and over deliver in his words and control of the room. He still has the magic and again Politics aside if he ran again I believe he could talk his way right back into the office that is oval.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Who's Using Twitter

72% of Twitter users say they post updates about their personal life, activities or interests.
62% post work-related updates.
55% use Twitter to share links to news stories.
53% use the service to retweet others’ material.
40% use the service to share photos with others, while 28% use it to share videos.
24% tweet their location.

Bob Hope Classic inks sponsor deal

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Franklin American Mortgage Co. has agreed to a three-year, $1.5 million sponsorship deal with the Bob Hope Classic, whose 52nd edition will be played Jan. 17-23.
The mortgage company based in Franklin, Tenn., first participated in the PGA tournament this year.
Franklin American will receive a variety of benefits, including pro-am playing opportunities, tickets, hospitality and signage at the event. The company will underwrite the tournament's celebrity dinner and be the official sponsor of the event's Celebrity Jam Session.

Cool site of the Day...Mad Men Yourself from AMC

Want to create your very own MadMen avatar and join the Advertising world....check out http://www.amctv.com/originals/madmen/madmenyourself/

Monday, December 6, 2010

Double dip advertising...Geico & Helzberg Diamonds

If you watched NFL football this Sunday you may have seen a Geico commercial featuring a guy who proposes to a girl who opens a jewelry box that has a Helzberg Diamonds logo on it.? Then it cuts to the lizard and old guy and they say "Oh, Helzberg, he must have saved money on his car insurance". Well I have gotten to the bottom of this "odd marriage" both companies are holdings of Berkshire Hataway...yes that little company run by Warren Buffett.

So a very interesting concept of "budding" up to save some money but at what cost to the TV networks? Not sure the networks aring the games want all these brands getting together to share air time do we...or does the NFL?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Taking Social Media to the next level...actually meeting a person?

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make with social media marketing – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – is they think it means they don’t have to talk to people. They think if they’re posting to Twitter, updating their status on Facebook or posting videos to YouTube that’s it for social media marketing. But making posts without any real connection to real people isn’t really marketing. The truth is everyone is doing that. There are 450 million people on Facebook, and while a significantly smaller number are businesses, everyone is doing the same thing. They’re all busy posting away and hoping that it will get them business. ....well lets look at taking it to the next level.

The real secret of social media marketing is that these online networking tools only allow you to get into the mind space of other people. It’s rare that somebody who follows you on a social media tool comes along and buys something. There has to be a step in the middle.......and that step is a real conversation.

You have to either get face-to-face with prospects or at the very least get them on the phone. The big difference with social media marketing is these are not cold calls. These are people you had conversations with, they’ve gotten to know you, and now the two of you are ready to take your business relationship to the next level. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think you should start calling all your Facebook and LinkedIn connections and set up sales meetings. In fact please don’t do that. What I am saying is when you meet somebody online and they are interesting, and the two of you have an ongoing conversation online, why not take the conversation off-line?
Over the years, I’ve done this several times and the results have been phenomenal. I haven’t always known what the results were going to be, but I took the chance and talk to these people.

Once you have spoken with somebody in the real world, your online conversations take on a more personal note. They’re more likely to pay attention to what you have to say, and are more likely to send referrals your way. If things work out really well they may even become a customer.
So look for your list of connections on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Make a note of the ones you’ve had the most interesting conversations with. These are the ones you should get in touch with and continue to build a relationship with.
Lunch anyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Branding is more than a Logo

The Importance Of Branding

In a competitive market a business must have a brand to stand out. Branding is highly important whether the business operates on a small or a large scale and whether it is a retailer or operates business to business. No matter who the customer is, he has to have something to identify with and recognize.

Any branding should be chosen very carefully. It is the image with which the business is associated and needs to convey the appropriate message to the customer. A logo shouldn’t be picked at random, instead it needs to be professional and reassure the customer that the business offers quality products and services. Once chosen the logo appears on everything from packaging to websites and needs to create a feeling of trust.

Branding is a marketing and advertising tool. The business will garner attention and attract customers with a professionally designed, well thought out logo. Before deciding on the branding a business must define its aim, as well as the features and products of its services. The opinions of current customers need to be taken into account, as well as their future needs and desires. Potential clients should not be forgotten. Once settled, it is advisable to hire a designer to get a professional, polished look that will be a part of the business’s identity forever.

The defined and professionally designed brand can, and should be used everywhere and anywhere. It should be on letterheads, packaging, websites, staff uniforms and badges to name but a few. Wherever it appears it is seen by existing and potential customers, who come to recognize it and remember it. Branding extends to employees and the message they give to customers. It incorporates how a business answers the telephone and signs its e-mails. The brand is a company’s ‘voice’ and has to be consistent to build up a good relationship between the business and its customer.

It takes hard work and dedication to build up a brand, but the rewards are worth it. A customer base that trusts a business and what it stands for is priceless, as is the repeat business and the power of word of mouth. Once established, however, a business can’t afford to rest on its laurels. The brand represents quality, reliability and much more and the services or products have to live up to this reputation to survive and prosper.

The Brand Building behind Food Network

Behind the kitchens at the Food Network, they’ve been cooking up some vey savvy branding – for the Network as as well as for its individual hosts.

Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee are the two biggest brands. The way they are mareketed provides a good branding lesson: you can occupy the same positioning within a niche, yet own a distinctive brand that sets you apart.

Distinct Brands with the Same Positioning:

The positioning these two stars occupy is one of dominance in home-making convenience: swift and easy, calibre meal preparation for busy women (mostly). Yet apiece has been healthy to carve out a separate and distinct brand within that same space.

Taglines that Build Brands:

Rachel Ray’s empire is build on the foundation of her very emphatic tagline – “30 minute meals.” The study states it all. Sandra Lee’s tagline is “semi-homemade meals” – preparing meals with the aid of pre-packaged ingredients.
It is essentially the same positioning, but without the exact time period that Ray uses. The implication is the same: you’ll be healthy to prepare calibre meals at home faster.
While both have been healthy to establish an dominance position within the convenience field, interestingly, their dominance does not come from industry credentials. The sense of dominance they have been healthy to build comes from their one-of-a-kind personalities and presentation, as well as their individual stories.

They learned how to cook on their own, either because they had to (in Lee’s case) or as in Ray’s case, her mom was in the food service business, and an avid cook

Leveraging a Brand Into Multiple Products:

Both have been been healthy to leverage their brands to create and promote multiple products. Some of Lee’s branded products include: Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Desserts, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking II, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Grilling … she even ventures into Rachael Ray’s turf with Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade 20-Minute Meals.
Rachael Ray’s branded product line includes cookbooks, such as 30-Minute Meals, 30-Minute Meals 2, Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals: Cooking ‘Round the Clock,Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals for Kids: Cooking Rocks!, Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Get Real Meals: Eat Healthy Without Going to Extremes, among others.

And because both of their brands have been established in a highly scalable niche – home convenience, they have been healthy to easily grow their product lines beyond food, into the further reaches of home-making, on TV, in print, etc. (Lee actually started her brand in the home-making field and then went into food).

Finding Different Marketing Angles Within the Same NicheIn their products as well as in their shows, their distinctive personalities, look, and style etc. further differentiates their brands from one another. But the difference is built on a foundation of strong taglines that embody one-of-a-kind marketing angles within the same niche: 30 minute meals vs semi-homemade.
The lesson here is just because someone else might have established an dominance positioning in a niche you want, doesn’t mean you can’t create a different, yet successful brand within the same space.
However attempts to copy or merely imitate a brand within a niche position will not only fail, it will mark you as inauthentic. You need to be healthy to take one-of-a-kind angle so you can carve out your own space within the niche you want.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What if Starbucks.....

What if Starbucks charged a monthly fee, but you could drink all the "basic" coffee you wanted? It cost Starbucks only a few cents a cup. It might even become cheaper for them if you had your own mug up on a shelf to pull down each time you visited. Think of all the paper they would save by not giving out a paper cup with each order?

My Condolences to Traditional PR....

It is a cliché that the Internet revolutionized our lives but as far as Public Relations are concerned, this is more than true. Thanks to the Internet , in general, Social Media in particular, old-school PR is becoming history. Of course, nobody forbids you to use old PR tricks to promote a site but if you haven’t discovered yet, social media are more efficient in doing so than traditional PR approaches. In a sense, social media are the upgraded version of public relations. Welcome to PR 2.0!

When I say that social media is better than old-school PR, I really mean it. Social media excel traditional PR channels in many ways, some of which are:

1.Social Media Is Cheaper

Most, if not all of the major social media sites you can use to promote your site for free. Even those sites, which offer a paid membership aren’t very expensive and they are still many times cheaper than, for instance, publishing a paid press release in a local newspaper or paying for the hosting of a PR site of your own.

2.Social Media Allow Better Targeting

Another advantage with social media is that it allows for better targeting. For those social media sites, where you have to approve people to get access to your profile (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), you have a lot of control over who are connected with. What is more, if you join a group (or create one) in your niche, you can get even more targeted in your messages.
3.Social Media Is Fashionable
Nowadays, everybody is on social media. Even President Obama and other top politicians are on Facebook and Twitter. Many experts believe that the skillful use of Web 2.0 sites was one of the main reasons why Mr. Obama won the elections. Some like to say that social media is just a trend that will pass, which just isn’t true. Social media is much more than that and it is certainly here to stay.

4.Social Media Have a Wider Reach

In comparison to traditional media, social media reaches a wider audience. Add the incredibly low costs to that and you will realize why social media is many times more efficient than traditional PR. With social media you can reach your audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (if of course, the hosting of your social media site doesn’t go down now and then).

5.Social Media Gives More Flexibility

Last, but not least, social media gives you more flexibility. If you have to broadcast an important piece of news, you just post it on your profile and the people in your network will see it right away. With traditional PR, it is not always possible to have such short reaction time and very often updates to an already prepared press release are not possible at all.
The list of advantages with social media over traditional PR could continue indefinitely but it is obvious that even to mention of a few of these advantages is enough to convince any old-school PR expert to jump on the social media wagon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eight reasons why direct mail still works

Eight reasons why direct mail still works

Multichannel marketers today tend to get caught up in the frenzy of the next greatest trend. What about Web 3.0? What's the hot social networking application? How do we make our e-mails more effective?

Sexy online strategies are and should be a big part of direct marketing. But that doesn't mean you should ignore some of the old-school tactics, like direct mail.

That's right, direct mail.

Sure, it may be true that mail pieces are much more expensive than e-mails, thanks to rising postal and paper costs. And many marketers and consumers alike often perceive direct mail to be old-fashioned and downscale.

But when used wisely and analyzed carefully, direct mail outperforms many tactics, particularly with prospects and certainly with many customer segments.

Newer technologies may excite and preoccupy the marketing team, but direct mail works.

Still not convinced direct mail should be a part of your overall contact strategy? Here are eight points that illustrate how and why direct mail remains alive and well in the 21st century.

  1. Intrusive

    Unlike your Website, direct mail is an “active” format. Customers may find their way to your site, but a catalog or a direct mail piece in their mailbox is an intrusive tap on the shoulder that online-only activities don't allow.

    While e-mail shares the intrusive nature of direct mail, e-mails can get overlooked in a crowded inbox. Plus, consumers are conditioned not to open e-mails from unknown senders for fear of viruses or other technical catastrophes. And direct mail won't get caught in a spam filter.

    When done properly, a good direct mail piece will stand out even in a crowded mailbox, grab customers' attention and incite them to act. That's the intrusive nature of direct mail that no other marketing tactic can emulate.

  2. Tactile

    There's something to be said for appealing to the senses. Direct mail delivers a tactile sensation that online activity can't.

    You can feel a mail piece in your hands. You can hear an envelope or tab tear open. You can see the images and key messages on the printed page. You might even be able to smell it! Websites and e-mail cannot compare to this experience.

    The physical nature of direct mail forces customers to take note. And if we do our jobs effectively, the piece will pique their interest and encourage them to spend more time with it.

    In bricks-and-mortar retail, the ability to touch and experience the product increases the likelihood of a sale. It's the same with direct: Even though it's not the actual product in the recipient's hands, a mail piece still activates the tactile senses.

  3. Targeted

    At its best, direct mail is targeted to the customers most likely to respond. Whether you are speaking to prospects or customers, the best way to reach a specific audience is through direct mail.

    But many marketers do not take full advantage of print's ability to target — not only with lists, but with customized messages. With simple black plate ink changes, you can tailor your direct mail creative to different lists — best customers, lapsed customers, even prospects. You can target customers based on specific activities and microsegment prospects.

    The more targeted the message and the list, the better the response. In fact, if you're not customizing your print products, you may be wasting your efforts and creating “junk mail” that won't get noticed.

  4. Varied

    While the cost of some direct mail, particularly catalogs, continues to rise because of postal increases, direct mail offers a wealth of other format options. Depending on the segment and on what you are asking the recipient to do, a postcard, self-mailer or three-dimensional package can get results much like a catalog — sometimes even greater.

    But few mailers think out of the box with format and function. Direct mail doesn't have to be solely about getting a sale.

    For instance, how are you thanking customers? One marketer sent a 3-D “thank you” mailing to its best customer segment, adding significant incremental sales without overtly promoting a sale.

    Explore the direct mail formats available to you. Work with your creative team and printer to see how you can find an innovative yet effective format. The more distinctive the format, the more it will stand out in the mail.

  5. Measurable

    One of the key reasons direct mail remains a viable channel is that you can test hypotheses and measure results. While metrics are getting better for online efforts, direct mail still reigns supreme on testing, measurement and analytics.

    Even for companies that have difficulty tracking source codes, the use of matchbacks can still help you gauge a mailing's success and analyze overall results. But with the multiple online hits and touches added to the mix, how you measure must change. The question becomes, which of those online efforts are adding incremental sales to your direct efforts? You can't measure your mail efforts in a void!

  6. Personalized

    There's no question that online technology has made amazing advances in personalization that print can't touch. But there is something magical about seeing your name in print.

    And when a name is cleverly incorporated into a mail piece, the result can be increased sales. Personalization techniques can include working the recipient's name into a headline, or calling attention to products he or she has previously purchased.

    There was a time when personalization was so expensive that it could cripple your ROI. But today's technology has made print personalization easier and more affordable.

    Check with your printer to see what new options are available. Think of personalization not just in terms of “your name here,” but also in terms of relevant and variable data.

    At a macro level you can “personalize” a cover of a catalog or an offer on an envelope, based on how a particular customer segment responds.

    Even better, integrating the online and offline world can really boost overall response. Consider those marketers who include a personal URL (PURL) printed within the piece. Not only can it increase response, it can also facilitate tracking!

  7. Integrated

    Direct mail should not be the only piece of your contact strategy. You should build your mail plan with direct mail as a component, a cog in a larger machine.

    Use e-mail to pre-announce mailings or to remind customers of an expiring offer. Push traffic to your Website for convenient ordering. Tie in social media, using your catalog to promote the online presence.

    Get creative with integration by producing an offer requiring a tweet response or that asks recipients to sign up for an offer online — anything that pushes a response, not just a purchase. Don't think of it as a “circulation” strategy but as a “contact” strategy.

    Several channels working together is powerful, and there are remarkable advantages. One channel should never replace the other — all should work together to form a unified campaign.

  8. Effective

    Direct mail works — period. A recent ExactTarget study conducted by Ball State University revealed that while e-mail plays a vital role in marketing communications, direct mail is still a dominant, prominent purchase driver for different types of customers.

    In some cases, 70% to 90% of survey respondents made a purchase based on receiving direct mail — for all age groups.

Direct mail may seem old timey, quaint or even irrelevant. But it's still an effective way to tap customers on the shoulder and push them into an activity. And while it may eventually be replaced by some newfangled technological innovation, rest assured it's not going away anytime soon.

But as the cost to produce and deliver mail increases, you can't continue mailing as usual expecting the same results. That's not going to work any more: You have to mail highly efficient, targeted and relevant messages that offer customers a true value.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Measuring the Value of an Arts Sponsorship

Sponsorship of the arts can be a valuable way for companies to engage with the public today but its value to potential sponsors is not well understood in terms of measurement. Whilst arts sponsorship is often the poor cousin to sports sponsorship in terms of dollars, it has unique features which are very attractive and cannot be achieved through sports sponsorship.

Unfortunately, many arts organizations do not highlight many of these key elements when seeking sponsorship. Many of the sponsorship proposals from arts organizations are well thought out and have a good sense of style about them but there is often something missing in terms of the value proposition. The value of the arts sponsorship is not ‘consumer-centric’, instead it is focused on a sales package incentives as if they were selling to sponsors the same messages as what you would use to sell to the audience. Too much about selling a sales package and not enough about a potential sponsors marketing and corporate objectives.

The value of arts sponsorship is that it can achieve results for sponsors in ways that cannot be achieved from other forms of marketing. The best advertising, digital media or public relations campaign is often unable to achieve the same type of results. The unique aspects of arts sponsorship simply cannot be replicated with other types of marketing or sponsorship types. This is evident from a measurement perspective, especially in understanding the sponsorship ROI itself.

When looking at value arts sponsorship from a ROI perspective, the attraction of arts sponsorships is related to several key factors.

The Target Audience

Firstly, passion for arts properties is very specific to a target audience. It is highly targeted and more often than not, this particular segment of the market is a hard to reach by conventional marketing methods. The key aspect is the passion. Now with SponsorMap, we use a benchmark called the PassionIndex to measure the level of emotional engagement to properties. The stronger the passion, the higher the level of engagement.

In the example below are results taken from a national sample of adults 16+ that was representative of the the general population. What is shown is the specific analysis of the high income, female segment of the national market. This segment obviously is very appealing for many businesses that wish to build relationships with existing or prospective customers. Whether it is financial products, fashion or prestige cars, this target audience is a key market segment for many companies.

Sponsor Fit/Brand Alignment
Is the partnership between the sponsor and the arts property a good brand alignment? Does it enhance a sponsor’s brand image? This is often mentioned as a key deliverable of all types of sponsorship. It is actually something that can be fairly easily measured as it is just a matter of asking the right questions. A good quantitative survey can be used to do this.

Brand Enhancement of Sponsorship

It shows the image attributes of the sponsor and how the sponsorship is enhancing them. In this case, it is about the arts sponsor property influencing the image ratings of the brand. Ideally, we would demonstrate this with a control sample or a pre and post measurement, but this will often suffice for most sponsorship evaluations for the arts.

Sponsor Appreciation
This is a very strong feature of arts sponsorship. Sponsors of arts properties tend to rate very highly on this measure, meaning there is a strong level of overall appreciation to sponsors for their involvement. They are seen to have done the ‘good thing’ and helped something that is of importance to people. This influence is what as known as Balance Theory, it is the change in attitudes to a sponsor/brand that occurs due to the direct involvement with the property. People will adjust their attitudes to a corporation because they are perceived to have done the right thing. (Not everybody feels appreciation, some feel in more than others and some do not feel it at all.)

Sponsor Appreciation Enhances the Value of Sponsorship Itself

With arts sponsorships, this influence can deliver major dividends for sponsors and is an influence not generated from other forms of traditional marketing communications such as advertising. Hence, when measuring the value of an arts sponsorship it is essential to demonstrate the gratitude to a sponsor for their involvement as arts sponsorship perform very well on this measure. This is a unique feature that should be emphasized as the impact can be quite dramatic.

Survey methods are highly recommended to measure the contribution of an arts sponsorship. There are several reasons, namely sponsorship is about attitude and behavior change for a sponsor, without this there is no ROI. Sponsorship’s impact is only felt if it achieves a modest amount of attitude and behavioural change. Other measures are also useful, but should be viewed provides additional metrics of overall contribution. If you have them then that is terrific as they build the overall case for the value of the sponsorship overall.

It should be remembered that demonstrating the appeal of the arts sponsorship to prospective sponsors and subsequently linking it to the sponsor’s own objectives in a measurable way provides a strong case for sponsorship. Likewise, for corporations considering sponsorship of the arts, there are ways in which a well planned sponsorship can drive marketing and business results much more effectively than traditional marketing communication methods.

Overall it is the consumer-centric approaches to sponsorship that is the best way to measure value. What is important how audiences emotionally engage with a brand/property partnership in the arts. That is the foundation of the business case for arts sponsorships and the reason why it can be a power relationship building tool for any Marketing Director or CEO looking at the arts.

Toys R Us Pops Up for the Holidays

Toys R Us Pops Up for the Holidays

Some may view the latest move by Toys R Us as simply taking advantage of the 9% vacancy rate in America's shopping malls. But the chain's plan to open hundreds of "pop-up" stores in time for the holiday season could suggest a whole new way of doing business for major retailers in the future.

Its quick-service "Toys R Us Express" stores will appear in 600 locations (300 of them are already open), adding 10,000 temporary employees during the "hard eight" pre-Christmas selling season and dramatically increasing the toy chain's sales capacity from its 587 full-size stores. Toys R Us used 90 pop-ups during last year's holiday selling season.

The seasonal or campaign-related pop-up store idea is particularly attractive to brands and retailers alike.

Malls have plenty of space available that they're willing to rent on a short-term basis at low rates. If a retailer like Toys R Us can grab 4,000 square feet of space for a few months around the holidays, it could temporarily expand the retailer's presence at just the right time.

The trend towards pop-up stores has been increasing of late, as retailers look at new ways to boost store sales.

Best Buy is opening 1500-square foot locations in malls so it can sell its mobile phone line; it has plans to open as many as 1,000 of the mini-stores. Other retailers, most notably Target, have been opening pop-up stores in key locations where it lacks a bricks-and-mortar presence (such as Manhattan) to take advantage of special sales opportunities, like Target's tie-in with Liberty of London.

Pop-ups are an opportunistic way to get in front of holiday shoppers or pitch special promotions, but increasingly, they may make longer-term economic sense for retailers.

Doug Stephens, president of Retail Prophet Consulting, tells Marketing Daily that the move by Toys R Us "shows the way big retail is beginning to fragment. For 25 to 30 years, we've lived with the idea that we need toy stores that are 125,000 square feet. There is just an absolute recalibration of consumer demand happening right now."

Stephens points out that while the pop-up could present a "different brand message," big retailers will continue to try them on for size because "There's been a change in this period of consumerism, and a big-box model just isn't sustainable."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Marketing vs Advertising....Ding...Ding

Marketing and advertising are two different things. It’s common to get them confused. They are related, but there is a difference between them. Advertising is a part of marketing. It is not all of marketing. Marketing involves many different things, from research to distribution and sales. Advertising is the most expensive part of the marketing process, but it is not the entire marketing process. Look at it like it’s the final stages of marketing. You can’t advertise until you know a few very important things about your audience and your target demographic. Knowing this, there really is no reason to use the phrase “marketing vs. advertising.” There is no competition between the two.

Marketing and advertising is not just limited to brick and mortar storefronts. It applies to all aspects of e-business as well. You can’t develop a product to sell online if you don’t know what consumers want. This is why it’s very important to develop a niche for your e-business. Internet marketing shares some similarities with offline marketing. In order to be successful in either, research is required. Research is an important part of marketing. Countless dollars are spent in researching the target audience for the product that is being developed. Companies use things such as polls, surveys and focus groups to gather information on what consumers want. This is how they find a way to tailor their products to their target demographic. This, again, proves that there is no reason to use “marketing vs. advertising.”

Within the affiliate marketing and internet marketing trades, research is a must. Because the internet is evolving so rapidly, the needs and wants of people who work from home and need to make money online are changing drastically. Older methods of marketing are becoming obsolete. Newer methods are popping up frequently. Everything is getting faster and more thorough thanks to the changes in technology around us. Part of these changes comes from consumers themselves. Their behavior is the reason that marketing methods are either successes or failures. The studies done into consumers’ behaviors are all a part of the researching process.

Again, marketing vs. advertising is an unnecessary phrase. Sometimes certain methods can double as both advertising and marketing. Advertising involves presenting your product in a way that will get consumers to buy your product.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A look from the Top....Is Today’s CEO Social?

Today’s CEO is not social. So says Forrester Research’s CEO George Colony. Very few of the CEOs at top companies in the U.S. and the rest of the world have any material presence on the popular social media sites. Colony believes they should be social though, and all signs are pointing to a future filed with CEOs who can speak the language of the people — social media.

While one can only speculate about the future of CEOs and social media, there’s no question that social media plays a huge part in life and the world as we know it right now.

As younger CEOs replace older ones, news consumption habits change and social media continues its trend towards ubiquity, there’s little question that the man (or woman) at the top will need a firm grasp on social media — whether that be for recruiting, scouting, public engagement or social CRM.

The Next Generation of CEOs

When it comes to CEOs, there’s a vast disparity between the young ones heading up startups and the more seasoned CEOs running the world’s most powerful companies. That disparity is social media — the young are more versed than the old. The difference between the two groups can be attributed to different generations and different attitudes around content and information meant for the public and private domains.

No one is predicting that the venerable CEOs will be booted from their lofty perches for lack of a Twitter() account. In fact, younger CEOs with a predilection and savvy for social media may find their visibility to either be a contributing factor to their rise or a liability once they graduate to bigger, hence more vulnerable, publicly traded companies.

Let’s have a gander at some stats on the status quo. In April, Colony let it be known that most CEOs are not social. In fact, by his own research and calculations, Colony has concluded that, “None of the CEOs of Fortune Magazine’s top 100 global corporations have a social profile.”

Social media abstinence even appears to extend to CEOs of tech companies. “Eric Schmidt of Google is an infrequent Twitterer and is not a blogger; Steve Ballmer at Microsoft has no blog and no Twitter account; Michael Dell is on Twitter but is not an external blogger … Steve Jobs of Apple, and Larry Ellison of Oracle have no Twitter, Facebook(), LinkedIn(), or blog presences that we could find.”

His findings paint a bleak present tense. In the coming years, however, there will be a changing of the guard that favors social media over silence.

We Live in a Social Media World

Let us pause and reflect on the fact online users spend 22.7% of their time on social networking sites. That’s twice as much time as we spend on any other online activity. Consider where people are getting their news today. More and more, it’s not through direct sources like USA Today, The New York Times, or TV broadcasts, but through social networks.

Plus, industry is social. In the future, every company, no matter how small or how big, will be influenced and impacted by social media internally or externally. In the entertainment industry, for instance, social media has the potential to significantly bump up live television viewing audiences. Network executives such as Greg Goldman, formerly an executive director at ABC and now CCO at Philo, are nearly certain it’s happening now and will become more obvious with time.

Take what you know about the world today and then ask yourself, can a CEO remain relevant if they’re not versed in the new language of the people they serve?

SCVNGR’s youthful CEO Seth Priebatsch doesn’t believe so. The 21-year-old CEO says he’s “never lived in a world where I didn’t use social media.”

Priebatsch compares social media to cloud computing, and makes the analogy of how building applications for the cloud is a given. “It never occurred to me that you would write software to run on machines as opposed to access it through a browser. Why would you do that?”

For Priebatsch, social media is a given.

“Those companies that actively monitor, react and engage with what people are saying about them are at a huge advantage. If I’ve just launched a new feature on SCVNGR and people like it (or don’t) I know immediately. And that’s powerful. And what’s even cooler is that I can dig deeper. Someone says on Twitter: ‘Hey @SCVNGR, love the new social check-in. Way cool!’ and I can tweet back immediately ‘Thanks @user. What have you been using it for?’ And immediately get more information on how people are using SCVNGR, why they like it (or don’t) and how to make it better. That’s real power. It combines huge scale (tons of people talking) with massive granularity (ability to dig deep into one response).”

CEOs and the Future

The business leaders of tomorrow will be versed in social media, and we don’t need a crystal ball to predict how CEOs in the future will use social media. It’s the socially versed CEOs of today who help manufacture the following:

Opportunity Knocks

LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman, himself a social media advocate and user, believes that perceptions around social media being too risky for CEOs are beginning to change.

“I would predict that more and more executives will see this as an opportunity rather than a risk,” he says.

Certainly the opportunity is there. Ulman pulls from his own work at LIVESTRONG as proof of concept. “Transparency and authenticity are two important factors in our work and social media allows us to amplify both in a significant way.”

Plus, given the digital landscape of the world we live in, future CEOs using social media is practically a given.

“Those who are currently growing up using these tools and mediums will have them integrated closely with their daily lives as they begin to enter the workforce, so they will come to expect their colleagues to be engaged as well,” according to Ulman.

Colony also sees social media as a platform paved with opportunity. He believes that CEOs should be social if the CEO “has something valuable and distinctive to say,” and has “a specialized strategy for social.”

For CEOs looking to start their social path, Colony prescribes a four part methodology that involves targeting the right audience, defining a clear reason to be social, setting up social expectations, and choosing the right platform(s).

Public Engagement

Edelman Digital’s Senior VP and Director of Insights Steve Rubel also sees great opportunity for how CEOs will use social media in the future.

One opportunity lies in public engagement, or as Edelman CEO Richard Edelman calls it, “the third way.”

“Companies need to complement their usual paid and earned media strategies by embracing new, social and owned media,” Edelman argues.

Rubel believes that CEOs will drive adoption of the third way. “They [CEOs] will lower the internal barriers within the organization so that it can engage the public at every level directly in achieving shared outcomes.”

Rubel’s own personal use of social media, his day-to-day dealings with the CEOs of client companies and his astute observations of corporate and market dynamics make him an expert on the subject.

While bullish on CEOs making organizational changes to better incorporate social media, Rubel does not see reason to predict a huge uptick in social media broadcasting from the CEOs themselves. “I see CEOs more laying the groundwork in vision and process than necessarily participating actively themselves,” asserts Rubel.

Recruiting and Scouting

Talent is a commodity. Facebook, Google() and Twitter often cherry pick each others’ employees. The company with the brightest minds is the one that’s most likely to excel. As such, recruiting is key and social media gives CEOs the ability to scout out potential hires and follow what they’re posting and what others are posting about them.

In a related fashion, CEOs will scout out the competition and search for potential acquires via social media properties. Many executives have already been doing this for years. Venture capitalists like Fred Wilson, for instance, have discovered the added benefits of maintaining a professional blog.

Wilson uses his blog to find companies to invest in and build relationships with entrepreneurs. It’s certainly no coincidence, then, that Union Square Ventures has an impressive portfolio of companies that includes Fousquare, Twitter and Tumblr().

Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

“Every CEO has a CRM dashboard right now. In the future, every CEO will have a social media dashboard,” predicts Miso CEO Somrat Niyogi.

Niyogi asserts that the social media dashboard will become a fixture inside the enterprise. “Every business unit will be using social media within the enterprise – customer support will use it to answer questions using tools like CoTweet(), sales organizations will use it to get a better read on what’s happening with their customers in real-time, marketing organizations will be using it as a new channel to connect with new or existing customers. It’s already happening right now.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Greatful Dead: Social before Social Media was cool

The Grateful Dead Archive, scheduled to open soon at the University of California at Santa Cruz, will be a mecca for academics of all stripes: from ethno­musicologists to philosophers, sociologists to historians. But the biggest beneficiaries may prove to be business scholars and management theorists, who are discovering that the Dead were visionary geniuses in the way they created “customer value,” promoted social networking, and did strategic business planning.

Fans of the Grateful Dead are big believers in serendipity. So a certain knowing approval greeted the news last year that the band would be donating its copious archive—four decades’ worth of commercial recordings and videotapes, press clippings, stage sets, business records, and a mountain of correspondence encompassing everything from elaborately decorated fan letters to a thank-you note for a fund-raising performance handwritten on White House stationery by President Barack Obama—to the University of California at Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was understood to be a fitting home not only because it exemplifies the spirit of the counterculture as much as, and perhaps even more than, Berkeley and Stanford, which also bid for the archive, but because the school’s faculty includes an ethnomusicologist and composer named Fredric Lieberman, who is prominent among a curious breed in the academy: scholars who teach and study the Grateful Dead.

It’s worth noting right up front the hurdles Dead Studies faces as a field of serious inquiry. To begin with, the news that it exists at all tends to elicit grinning disbelief; a corollary challenge is the assumptions people carry about its practitioners, such as my own expectation when arranging to visit Lieberman last year that I would encounter an amiable hippie, probably of late-Boomer vintage and wearing a thinning ponytail. Rough mental image: Wavy Gravy with a Ph.D.

Lieberman is nothing of the sort. A small man with parchment skin, wisps of white hair, and large round glasses, he could have looked more professorial only by wielding a Dunhill pipe. His interest in the Grateful Dead, he explained, had arisen largely by chance. In the 1960s, he studied under the noted ethnomusicologist Charles Seeger (father of Pete Seeger) at UCLA, and came to share his mentor’s dismay at the academy’s neglect of popular and non-Western music. Lieberman went on to teach a series of classes in American vernacular music and, though he held no particular fondness for the Grateful Dead, became one of the first academics to teach the band’s music, in the early 1970s.

In 1983, the Dead’s drummer, Mickey Hart, asked Lieberman to help catalog his vast collection of instruments. When the project developed into a larger study of world percussion, Hart invited Lieberman to join him on tour. “I thought it would be interesting to treat it as an ethnomusicological field trip,” Lieberman told me. For some years, when he wasn’t teaching he traveled with the band, introducing Hart to ethnomusicologists by day and attending shows by night. If you squinted hard during any number of the Dead’s most famous shows in the 1980s and ’90s, you might have glimpsed the unlikely spectacle of an ethnomusicologist crouching in earnest concentration behind the drummer, going about his fieldwork.

Lieberman apologized for not being able to show me the archive. The whole thing was under lock and key in a Northern California warehouse whose location was a closely held secret—a precaution against overzealous fans’ plundering a hoard that many would regard as akin to Tutankhamen’s treasure. On March 5, the New York Historical Society will open the first large-scale exhibit of material from the Dead Archive. Then, if all goes as planned, the collection will become the centerpiece of a new campus library at Santa Cruz slated to open later this year. Among other things, it is hoped that the Dead Archive will galvanize a nascent group of scholars across many disciplines who, like Lieberman, study the Grateful Dead—not just musicologists but historians, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists, and even business and management theorists. Some have risked their academic standing in the belief that the band and the larger social phenomenon that surrounds it are far more significant than is commonly understood. Lately, the world has been changing in ways that make that not so hard to believe.

One of the first academic articles on the Grateful Dead appeared in the Winter 1972 issue of the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, a periodical for medical professionals, and drew on emergency-treatment records to compare drug use at a Grateful Dead concert with that at a Led Zeppelin concert. (Verdict: Deadheads favored LSD, Zeppelin fans alcohol.) The popular association between the Dead and a drug-fueled counterculture did little to encourage respectable academic endeavor.

As the band’s following grew, the notion that it might have something to offer scholars, particularly in the social sciences, became somewhat less far-fetched, though still not without professional risk. In the late 1980s, Rebecca G. Adams, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who studies friendships formed across distances, noticed deep bonds between Deadheads. The bonds seemed to belie the idea, then popular among leading social thinkers, that communities based on common interest, whose members do not live near each other, lack emotional and moral depth—that Deadheads might belong to what sociologists call a “lifestyle enclave,” but couldn’t possibly form meaningful relationships. Adams brought a class on tour with the Dead—an opportunity, she thought, to teach classical theory while letting students study a cutting-edge contemporary community.

She became instantly famous, among a small group of scholars, and then, suddenly, among a much larger group of people. One day, without warning, Senator Robert Byrd, the histrionic and prodigiously opinionated West Virginian, gave a speech decrying what he considered an appalling decline in the standards for higher education, and cited Adams’s class as an example. Adams had unwittingly placed herself in the crosshairs of the culture wars and was beset by, among other things, an inquiry from the president of North Carolina’s state university system. Though she survived with help from her chancellor and her department head, and though the question fell squarely within her specialty, Adams was politely discouraged from pursuing her line of inquiry. “I was advised to concentrate on the more respectable areas of my research,” she told me.

Other aspects of the band nevertheless continued to invite academic examination. Musicologists showed interest, although the band’s sprawling repertoire and tendency to improvise posed a significant challenge. Lieberman says that fully absorbing the Dead’s music could take years, and he has noted its similarities with South Indian classical music, with its complex notational system and highly formalized four-hour concerts. Engineers studied the band’s sophisticated sound system, radical at the time but widely emulated today. Even legal scholars took note, some contending that the American criminal-justice system, including the courts, unfairly profiles Deadhead defendants and has, on occasion, treated fandom as evidence of mental illness.

Oddly enough, the Dead’s influence on the business world may turn out to be a significant part of its legacy. Without intending to—while intending, in fact, to do just the opposite—the band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by corporate America. One was to focus intensely on its most loyal fans. It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of the best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house. If you lived in New York and wanted to see a show in Seattle, you didn’t have to travel there to get tickets—and you could get really good tickets, without even camping out. “The Dead were masters of creating and delivering superior customer value,” Barry Barnes, a business professor at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida, told me. Treating customers well may sound like common sense. But it represented a break from the top-down ethos of many organizations in the 1960s and ’70s. Only in the 1980s, faced with competition from Japan, did American CEOs and management theorists widely adopt a customer-first orientation.

As Barnes and other scholars note, the musicians who constituted the Dead were anything but naive about their business. They incorporated early on, and established a board of directors (with a rotating CEO position) consisting of the band, road crew, and other members of the Dead organization. They founded a profitable merchandising division and, peace and love notwithstanding, did not hesitate to sue those who violated their copyrights. But they weren’t greedy, and they adapted well. They famously permitted fans to tape their shows, ceding a major revenue source in potential record sales. According to Barnes, the decision was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets. The Dead became one of the most profitable bands of all time.

It’s precisely this flexibility that Barnes believes holds the greatest lessons for business—he calls it “strategic improvisation.” It isn’t hard to spot a few of its recent applications. Giving something away and earning money on the periphery is the same idea proffered by Wired editor Chris Anderson in his recent best-selling book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Voluntarily or otherwise, it is becoming the blueprint for more and more companies doing business on the Internet. Today, everybody is intensely interested in understanding how communities form across distances, because that’s what happens online. Far from being a subject of controversy, Rebecca Adams’s next book on Deadhead sociology has publishers lining up.

Much of the talk about “Internet business models” presupposes that they are blindingly new and different. But the connection between the Internet and the Dead’s business model was made 15 years ago by the band’s lyricist, John Perry Barlow, who became an Internet guru. Writing in Wired in 1994, Barlow posited that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.” As Barlow explained to me: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back then—the important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.” The Dead thrived for decades, in good times and bad. In a recession, Barnes says, strategic improvisation is more important then ever. “If you’re going to survive this economic downturn, you better be able to turn on a dime,” he says. “The Dead were exemplars.” It can be only a matter of time until Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead or some similar title is flying off the shelves of airport bookstores everywhere.

Recently, Barnes has been lecturing to business leaders about strategic improvisation. He’s been a big hit. “People are just so tired of hearing about GE and Southwest Airlines,” he admits. “They get really excited to hear about the Grateful Dead.”

Until now, scholars who studied the Dead were limited to what was available in the public domain. Barnes sought access to internal documents more than a decade ago and was turned down. When the Dead Archive opens, he and others expect to gain many new insights, because they’ll finally be able to draw on primary source material—and there’s plenty. For years, unbeknownst to just about everyone, the band’s longtime office manager obsessively stashed away everything that came into her office. The possibilities seem manifold. “From the economics folks to the anthropologists,” Barlow says, “increasing numbers of people are going to make a pilgrimage to the archive to see how this all came together.”

When a famous author or statesman donates his papers to history, the task of studying and making sense of them usually falls to some obvious discipline. That’s not quite the case here. Even with the recent renaissance, Dead scholars are few. The bulk of the expertise lies outside the academy, with ordinary Deadheads. So Santa Cruz library officials have devised a novel approach (some would call it strategic improvisation) to curating the collection. They intend to post as much of it as possible online in the hope that Deadheads—zealous social networkers that they are—will contribute their knowledge, and perhaps material of their own, to help build up the record. With the culture wars of the 1960s finally beginning to subside, the possibility for sober reflection on a charged era is more feasible than it once was. Today, the Dead are more attraction than liability. The library will seek to become a haven for the study of pop culture since the 1960s, with the Dead Archive anchoring its collection.

“Revolutionaries get vilified, and then, once they get older, they just become cute,” says Steve Gimbel, who is a philosophy professor at Gettysburg College and edited the recent collection The Grateful Dead and Philosophy. “Think of Oscar Wilde. Once they’re not dangerous anymore, it’s okay to discuss them in serious ways.”

By Joshua Green

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pirelli and F1 ink 3 yr global Sponsorship deal

Pirelli will be the exclusive tire supplier to the Formula One World Championship under a three-year agreement beginning in 2011.

The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile); the race teams, represented by FOTA (the Formula One Teams Association); and Formula One’s organizing body, represented by FOM (Formula One Management) “have chosen Pirelli as their exclusive supplier based on the specific proposals from the Italian company to guarantee technical and operational stability to the competitors,” according to senior executives at the tire maker.

The global visibility guaranteed through extensive media interest in Formula One, together with dynamic plans to leverage Pirelli’s involvement in an activity central to the company’s core business, represents a unique opportunity for the brand to maximize its return on investment,” they say.

The new contract ensures that Pirelli will provide the racing teams with six different types of tires for the season: four slicks, with different compounds for various types of dry surfaces; one rain tire for heavy rain; and one intermediate tire for damp conditions or light rain.

“The current economic climate has led to a realistic and collaborative approach with all the teams, ensuring that manufacturing and logistical costs are shared fairly,” company officials note.

“Pirelli’s return to Formula One also has a firm eye on the future, with full collaboration with all teams,” they say. “Research into innovative new tire developments is a vital part of this exciting program.”

The company plans to make a significant investment in publicizing its Formula One involvement, especially in the emerging markets of Latin America, the Middle East and Asia- Pacific.

“Consequently,” company executives point out, “Formula One will become a vital calling card for the Pirelli brand, helping its commercial and industrial expansion without disrupting the company’s long-term financial strategy.”

Pirelli – which supplied tires for the GP3 Championship this year – will also be providing racing rubber for the GP2 Championship starting in 2011.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Quote of the Week

" In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers."

-Quote from the book: The World According to Mister Rogers

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Case study: TurboTax experts take over Twitter

Tax software maker TurboTax has a unique problem. Their customers find them incredibly useful. But for a very short period every year. The company has gotten used to the seasonal nature of its business, but this year, they took that approach to Twitter.

By ramping up their staffing efforts on Twitter — and bringing some much needed expertise to the space, they happened on something great for business: an excellent customer retention program.

Chelsea Marti (@TTaxChels on Twitter), TurboTax' Social Media Manager, explained the company's approach at TWTRCON in New York this week.

The company wanted to scale its Twitter effort to help customers with their taxes during tax season. To do so, they follow the approach of Intuit's founder, Scott Cook. Cook created the concept of "follow me home" by literally hanging around Staples stores in the beginning of Intuit's history until someone bought his product. He'd then go home with them to see how simple (or difficult) the install process was for them. Says Marti:

"Getting that close to the customer, he was able to make better products year over year."

That philosophy has been ingrained in Intuit employees. And according to Marti, TurboTax has taken the same approach to its Twitter strategy:

"We've basically lived the dream of our CEO and founder Scott Cook."

The company's approach to Twitter has grown in importance and size over the last year. TurboTax now has over 20 million customers. And those customers are greatly interested in the company every year in the lead up to April 15th. Says Marti:

"We have a short period of time to get those customers the help that they need."

TurboTax' seasonal business is both a strength and a weakness. On Twitter, the company has the chance to own the users who are interested in and commenting on their taxes. But that means devoted resources to the endeavor. And until this year, TurboTax wasn't able to do that.

Before this tax season, the company had two people in corporate communications and marketing on Twitter. This year they launched TeamTurboTax. The feed went live in February, at the beginning of tax season and upscaled the company's Twitter efforts from two employees to 40 staffing the feed. They had a live community team — including experts — and scaled the idea of helping customers.

"During tax season, we see a running stream of our keyword," says Marti. "Two people handling that is not the best situation for a customer."

According to Marti, they've now utlized those customers and the conversations they're having online:

"Our overarching theme on Twitter is that it's a persuasion engine that lets us keep customers."

TurboTax has found that on Twitter customers can help each other. Corporate communications became the hub that farms out questions to the appropriate spokes. They company also uses cotweet to fetter out all the incoming customers.

Now if a customer has a complaint or a problem, it is assigned to the right person. As their Twitter feed bio reads, "TeamTurboTax is who you ask when you have tax, tech or TurboTax questions!"

And as the 2010 tax season progressed, the company realized people were using the feed differently than they expected. Mostly twitterers were coming to ask TurboTax personal tax issues.

"We set out thinking we'd have more technical questions," says Marti. "But we found out quickly we were getting tax questions."

The company had employed tax experts for their effort. They enabled them to find a buddy, train a buddy, or recruit a buddy. That effort added 10 to 12 people to the team. Says Marti:

"For us, Twitter was a great way to help customers, but it wasn't the be all and end all. What really made it for us was the expertise that people brought to Twitter."

Marti acknowledged if the feed had been staffed by herself and corporate communications alone, it would have been far less effective. With experts on deck, the response time was fast. It took an average of four minutes for TurboTax to get back to Twitter questions.

At least half of the people who came to the feed were about to finish a return. The company also found that most of the people seeking out tax help from TurboTax turned out to be existing customers. And they found those customers were 71% more likely to recommend TurboTax because of their interactions with the company on Twitter.

In the end, TurboTax' expanded efforts on Twitter became a great customer retention program. Says Marti:

"Everyone knows it's less expesnive to keep a customer than create a new one."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FIFA Playing Hard Ball with Ambush Marketing at World Cup

Beer company employs ambush marketing at World Cup Soccer 2010

Sports sponsorships usually come out to be huge. Companies pay millions upon millions of dollars to advertise their brands at major sports tournaments. They cut out expensive deals with an exclusive tag to go around with – all done in a bid to be the only brand of a certain category in sponsoring a major event. This phenomenon is highly evident at the FIFA World Cup where certain brands such as McDonald's and Budweiser pay top dollars to the governing body of soccer in order to win the right of becoming the main sponsors for the event. This concept was shaken up recently when a story came to the fore that a Dutch Beer company allegedly engaged in ambush marketing. The interesting part of news is that it is wrong to partake in ambush marketing when corporate sponsorship deals are in place. So can one assume that advertising has gone out of hand?

This interesting case of the supposed ambush marketing related to a recent first round game between the Netherlands and Denmark in a South Africa 2010 match. FIFA claims that a Dutch beer company named Bavaria handed out hundreds of tight fitting orange dresses to female fans before the game and asked them to wear them during the match. According to various allegations, the company also hired 36 beautiful women to wear the dresses during the match to cheer for the Dutch team. According to FIFA, the beer company knew about these women who were sitting near the pitch who received a lot of camera attention which helped in promoting the beer. FIFA spokesman Nicholas Maingot said, “What seems to have happened is that there was a clear ambush marketing activity by a Dutch brewery company”. He further said, “What we are doing actually at the moment is that we are looking into all available legal remedies against this brewery”.

What FIFA failed to understand was that if the company's intention was to bring awareness to their brand, then they succeeded in a big way. Most people apart from die-hard Dutch beer fans would have known that this stunt was done by the beer company. Others would have thought that the ladies were just a bunch of pretty ladies all sitting together in orange. But by ejecting the women from the stadium and making a fuss about it, FIFA actually gave this company the media attention that it wanted. The news was sprayed all across newspapers and online news agencies with the company's name and they probably got the boost they had planned for from the beginning. It seems to be a brilliant marketing strategy for the company, they knew the women would get media attention and they also knew that they might be thrown out of the match. It all planned out well for the company in the end.

Even if this is not what happened and it was simply a case of ejecting paying fans who wore orange, then the question comes back to the fact that has FIFA's corporate sponsorship strategy has gone out of hand. They police the sponsorship deals and its implementation is so stringently monitored that if anyone else wants to try and make a few dollars from the tournament, FIFA comes down hard on them. Over the years, it seems that sponsorship deals have been getting out of hand with the bank Santander recently insuring Alonso's thumbs for 10 million Euros in F1.

An article online explores the affects of corporate sponsorships as they are taking place now. “Sports sponsorship is now a highly developed communications tool with much of the spending being focused on sports events”. In this arena the protection of brands and sponsorship deals has gone a bit loopy. Since it is such a big business and so much money is pumped, FIFA’s organising body feels they have to protect their main sponsors from any sabotage by any other company.

This story may not have a happy ending for Bravia - the beer company - because FIFA is working with the South African police to try and gather enough evidence to prosecute the company. If they did, FIFA may make it very clear to all other companies out there that want to engage in ambush marketing to rethink on this strategy. If we did look at the footage of those ladies in the crowd, it seemed a little strange that 30 beautiful women just happened to be sitting together in the crowd all apparently friends with not a hair out of place and all made up to look their best. If even one of them had been dressed differently or worn a different costume, maybe the entire plan would have looked a little believable. But then again, football fans are known to dress up in the strangest outfits for most matches. The Dutch female fans will be closely scrutinised in the upcoming matches and if they don’t want to be arrested, they should definitely wear a different colour.

Monday, June 14, 2010

NHL ad sponsorship revenue up 66% this year

NHL ad sponsorship revenue up 66% this season and Merchandise sales rise 22 pct for playoffs.

Record viewer numbers during the Chicago Blackhawks' run to the Stanley Cup title helped fuel a 66% rise in National Hockey League advertising and sponsorship revenue, a top league executive said.

The Blackhawks' series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers garnered the highest television ratings in the United States in 36 years.

"It was a great Stanley Cup run, really across every possible metric .... Our fans are consuming more hockey," NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said in a telephone interview on Monday.

The league said its annual growth rate for advertising and sponsorship revenue, which includes sales for NHL.com and NHL Network, has been close to 66% for three consecutive years.

Merchandise sales for the entire playoffs were up 22% and the number of unique visitors on the NHL.com website rose 17 percent for the playoffs after a 29 percent gain during the regular season.

"Going into the playoffs, if you would have said we would lose Crosby and Ovechkin fairly early in the playoffs ... you'd be hard pressed to think you'd end up having one of the best Stanley Cup finals in 36 years," he added, referring to the upsets of teams on which all-stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin play.

Some analysts have pointed to struggles in the NHL's U.S. southeastern and southwest markets -- including the Phoenix Coyotes' bankruptcy -- as clouding the league's prospects outside its traditional markets in Canada and the Northeast and Midwest United States.

However, Collins said a renaissance in markets such as Los Angeles and a new crop of younger stars are helping the North American sports league.

He said the North American sports advertising market seems to have recovered and is starting to heat up. "That bodes well for us going into next year," Collins said.

The NHL is expanding the number of events on its calendar, including plans for two outdoor hockey games next season, as well as a season-launching event in Toronto, he said.

It also will continue its push in new technologies such as a mobile application with Verizon Wireless that was launched late in the season.