Monday, August 29, 2011

Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing, (also Influence Marketing) is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole.

It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

Influencers may be potential buyers themselves, or they may be third parties. These third parties exist either in the supply chain (retailers, manufacturers, etc.) or may be so-called value-added influencers (such as journalists, academics, industry analysts, professional advisers, and so on)

Ad of the Day: Troy Aikman for Reliant Energy - Edible Shade

Friday, August 26, 2011

Like us on facebook or else...Really?

Not sure this is the best way to go about gaining 'Fans' on facebook.
Lids is a hat and apparel retailer who is looking to increase their following on facebook. If they don't reach 20,000 followers they are going to shut down the facebook page.....why exactly would they do this? So what you are telling your followers previous to the attempt of secure 20,000 followers is you don't really care about them; right?

Companies really need to understand its not about the number of 'Likes' it's what you do with the ones you have. And if Lids falls two short of reaching 20,000 by the deadline are they really going to shutout 19,998 people from viewing their products?

Good try Lids but you may want to rethink this idea in a hurry...Sept 1 is right around the corner.

Calling all LIDS fans! We need your help to reach 200,000 fans on Facebook by September 1, or the LIDS Facebook page will be taken down! That's right! No more special offers! No more sneak peeks! No more giveaways! All you have to do is become a fan of LIDS and invite as many of your friends as possible to do the same! Let's make this happen! Join the LIDS family by clicking 'LIKE' now!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coca-Cola 125th Anniversary creative designs

As Coca-Cola marks its 125th year in business, celebratory can designs seem to be popping up all over the place. In addition to the new Diet Coke look rolling out in September, design firms around the world have been creating packaging for the flagship beverage, as well. Check out 16 different twists on Coke's 125th anniversary...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Marketers Can Learn From the Great Wiener War

In a legal skirmish befitting the dog days of summer, Sara Lee Corp. and Kraft Foods are battling in a Chicago federal court over alleged false advertising claims each says the other made during their heated hot-dog brand battle in 2009.

The Great Weiner War is generating plenty of headlines -- and a bunful of puns -- reaffirming America's fascination with encased meat. But what lessons, if any, does this latest ad claim battle hold for marketers? And what precedents might be set by the trial, which is not expected to wrap up for a couple weeks? Ad Age sought answers from legal experts:

First some basics, like what's the beef?
Sara Lee filed suit against Kraft in early 2009, taking issue with Oscar Mayer brand ads promoting the hot dogs as "100% pure beef." Sara Lee says this is not true because the dogs contain "chemical and other non-beef contents." Oscar Mayer also ran ads promoting its dogs as being the best according to a national taste test. But Sara Lee says the test was flawed because the ad copy insinuated Oscar Mayer beat Sara Lee's entire Ball Park hot-dog line, when only a couple different competing hot-dog varieties were tested.

What does Kraft say?
The company says that "pure beef" is commonly accepted to mean the dogs don't contain other meats, such as turkey or poultry, and that the designation does not prohibit the use of other ingredients such as curing agents. So Kraft filed a counter suit, taking issue with Sara Lee proclaiming Ball Park dogs as "America's Best Beef Franks" based on an award from Chefs Best, an independent food-judging organization. Kraft says Sara Lee falsely claimed that the entire Ball Park line won the awards, when only three specific products did.

Are any of those ads still running?
The wiener war has pretty much subsided as both companies are running more positive messages touting all-natural dogs.

Then what's the point of going to court?
"There may be some plan or intention to re-institute the advertising at a future date," said David Balser, a lawyer with McKenna Long & Aldridge, who works on ad cases. Also "both sides might legitimately feel that the other competitor crossed the line and want to draw a line in the sand to let the other competitor know that they intend to require veracity in the advertisements." The companies also want monetary damages. And it should be noted that the food giants are still battling for wiener superiority, with Ball Park holding the top spot with almost 20% market share and $343.2 million in sales and Oscar Mayer second with nearly 17% share and $284.3 million in sales in the year ending April 17, according to SymphonyIRI, which does not measure Walmart.

Doesn't the ad industry self-regulate these kinds of claims?

Yes, the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division rules on roughly 200 disputes each year, and division director Andrea Levine said "if they had brought that case here, it would have been decided like two and a half years ago. Self-regulation is so much faster." But the NAD doesn't have power to levy punitive fines or issue injunctive relief; it can only recommend that claims in question be modified or discontinued. If companies don't comply, the NAD refers the case to a federal agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission.

Are more advertisers going after each other?

Experts say yes. And more marketers are opting for a noisy court battle over the relatively peaceful self-regulation process. "Back in the day, courts were very reluctant [to get involved] because there was a buyer's beware kind of attitude," said Randall Miller, a partner with Arnold & Porter LLP's McLean, Va., office, who represents plaintiffs and defendants in false-advertising lawsuits. But courts have grown more comfortable intervening, he added. "You typically would advise clients that it's really hard to get a temporary restraining order, courts don't like to do it," he said. "Nowadays I think you could advise clients, 'Hey we have a shot.'"

So how should marketers protect themselves?
The Kraft-Sara Lee fight spotlights another trend: More companies that face suits are filing countersuits. Advertisers need to "be monitoring their advertising competitors and knowing exactly what claims they are making and knowing what are the weak points and what are the things that are most attackable, because you might decide that they are breaking the rules enough that you want to sue them," Mr. Miller said. "But you certainly want to be in a position to respond if they sue you." He went so far as to suggest that big marketers dedicate full-time staff to monitor "every specimen of advertising" from competitors.

Is there anything unique about the Kraft-Sara Lee case?

Experts say the dispute resembles other cases, including many settled by the National Advertising Division. What is different is that the case has proceeded this far; most are resolved during the injunctive phase, said Linda Goldstein, a leading ad industry lawyer with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. "Very, very few of these cases actually go to trial" she said. "But when they do, they will often address core issues that are significant for most advertisers."

So what possible precedents might be set?

The judge could provide more clarity on how taste tests can be used and operated. Sara Lee alleges Kraft's taste test was invalid because "contrary to accepted standards, these tests asked respondents to taste 'naked' boiled hot dogs that were presented on paper plates without condiments." Said Ms. Goldstein: "It's an interesting case in terms of what's been called 'testing under conditions of consumer relevance.' The issue here being most consumers would eat their hot dog with some condiment. Is it a fatal flaw to test a product without offering those condiments?"


A New Model for Business: The Museum

At first blush, the consumer appeal of a business like Groupon seems pretty obvious. The popular deal-of-the-day Internet start-up sells vouchers to restaurants, spas, and other local businesses at major markdowns--and who wouldn't want to score a 100-dollar sports massage for 50 bucks?

"In general we understand the role and appreciate that an expert who functions as our decision-making proxy makes for a much better museum-going experience"

But Harvard Business School's Ray Weaver says that what Groupon is up to is much more sophisticated than just offering 50 percent-off coupons. Groupon, along with companies like Apple, Facebook, and Progressive Insurance, is a leading example of firms that are thinking about customers in a new way—much like how a museum curator orchestrates the experience of patrons. Weaver, an assistant professor in the Marketing Unitat HBS, believes that part of Groupon's success is borne of the careful way the company presents wares to its customers: providing a very limited amount of choices at a time, along with a brief, engaging description of each offering.

To that end, Weaver is exploring the idea that many consumer-centric web-based businesses would benefit from acting more like museum curators.

"Many museums have enormous collections, so the possibilities are nearly endless," he says. "And most museum patrons don't know anywhere nearly enough to make these decisions on their own, and even if they were armed with some relevant information, most don't have the time or inclination to pore over it. So while we sometimes think that particular curators have missed the mark, in general we understand the role and appreciate that an expert who functions as our decision-making proxy makes for a much better museum-going experience."

Weaver argues that web-based businesses would benefit from such expert curators. On the web, options for products, services, and information are virtually endless, too. It's daunting for customers, and there's an increasing body of academic research showing that the public responds positively to limited choices. (For instance, a recent paper demonstrated that smaller menus are generally preferable to big ones.

But like museums, these businesses must go beyond simply limiting choices, Weaver says. They must present their wares in such a way that the consumer understands and appreciates the limitations.

"Curators don't just put the stuff out there. They make choices about which pieces to put next to other pieces, and put little plaques next to them explaining why you should care," he explains. "They educate their 'customers' about what they're looking at. And that is the missed opportunity in many for-profit businesses today."

Product curation, by necessity, requires talent and care. "Most consumers bristle at constraints on choice or heavy-handed guidance about what they should want, even though (ironically) they value it when it's disguised or otherwise presented in a nonthreatening way," he says.

Weaver lists Facebook, Apple, and Progressive Insurance as other examples of successful curators. In the case of Facebook, he argues that the social media giant is wildly successful in part because it exacts precision over how users display their content—a welcome change over the Wild West of the World Wide Web.

"Of course it's true that Facebook became popular because it's really good at helping friends connect," Weaver says. "But I think a big chunk of the value of Facebook has little to do with social media, but instead flows from the control that Facebook exerts over the environment. In many ways Facebook is taking over big chunks of what we used to do using more open technologies: web search, content consumption, even e-mail. Increasingly, Facebook is valuable to many people because it represents a more orderly alternative to the web. It's a controlled environment, a structured environment. It sets the rules."

Apple, meanwhile, has made an art form out of curation, not only by limiting its product line but also by providing quick, clear explanations--starting with the way the company names its products. Consumers who visit Sony or Dell in search of a new laptop may be confused by the bevy of choices and model numbers like "XPS 15x" and "VPCSB190X." But at Apple, they have only two aptly named laptop choices: the MacBook Air, which is lightweight and geared toward consumers, and the MacBook Pro, which is targeted toward heavy-duty users. Apple's phone and tablet choices are limited to the iPhone and the iPad. Making such pro-consumer choices may be why Apple, according to recent media reports, has more money in its coffers than the US Treasury.

As for Progressive Insurance, Weaver lauds the company's decision to provide a comparison-shopping application on its home page, so that consumers can compare Progressive's quotes with estimated quotes from competitors. In doing so, Progressive informs some customers that Progressive's product may not be the best choice for them. Indeed, curators run the risk that customers will exploit the curated information, only to buy from a competitor in the end. But Weaver stresses/argues that the reward outweighs the risk in the form of goodwill, and that good curation requires honesty.

"I think a big chunk of the value of Facebook has little to do with social media, but instead flows from the control that Facebook exerts over the environment"

"Progressive provides a trust-based service," he says. "A big part of what you're buying, a fair and expeditious claims process, is something you might never use. And it is very difficult to evaluate in advance. Because of this, Progressive benefits a lot more from its curation—showing competitors' prices—than would a company whose products and services are easier to evaluate. Call it enlightened self-interest. I don't think we can expect manufacturers and retailers to change in ways that will harm profits, even if it benefits customers. But most consumers are happy to pay a fair or even premium price for products and services that really suit them. If companies are smart about this, the increases in profits from new and more satisfied customers can more than offset losses from helping some customers realize their best fit is elsewhere."

The best salespeople in brick-and-mortar shops are natural curators (and docents), guiding customers toward the wares that best suit their needs, and away from the wares that don't. But on the web, customers depend on community review sites like where anyone with an Internet connection can post an opinion of or a story about any given product or service. Customers often find honesty in such crowd-sourced reviews, but they'll rarely find the expertise of an in-house curator.

"The informed opinion of one expert who is motivated by a legitimate interest in assisting customers is often superior to the collective reviews of dozens or more user-customers," he says.

Just as a modern art museum is clearly a modern art museum, so should a firm be clear about what it does and doesn't offer.

"Occasionally an organization does a great job of articulating what it does and whom it's good for, and has the courage to acknowledge explicitly the kinds of customers who might genuinely be better off elsewhere," he says. "This combination is rare but very powerful: an acknowledgment that we can't be all things to all people; a clear and unapologetic vision for and articulation of what we do stand for that dictates business practices throughout the organization; and a genuine interest in helping potential customers figure out if what we're selling is right for them.

"When you experience this as a customer, the benefits can be huge, and it can create fierce loyalty and lots of value all around."

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Stiller Foundation:

Ben Stiller's new foundation, which aims to support children around the globe through educational initiatives, had to have a catchy name. And, as he explains in this video, he came up with one that was just right.

So, takes you to the (real) Stiller Foundation Facebook page. The launch of The Stiller Foundation continues Stiller's efforts to build schools for kids in impoverished areas

Monday, August 1, 2011

Establish Your Brand

A brand is more than a logo, symbol, slogan or color combo (though all of these elements can help communicate your message). Think of it as a pledge: This is what customers can consistently expect from my company and its products or services.
4 easy questions to define your brand
Given its weightiness, defining your brand isn’t a speedy exercise. At the very least, you’ll need to determine:
  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What product benefits and features are you offering?
  • What qualities do you want customers and prospects to associate with your company?
  • How do customers, prospects and employees already perceive your company?
Once you figure out exactly what you’d like people to think about when they see your company’s name, run the positioning by some of your loyal customers.
Based on their own experiences with the company, would they agree the branding is on target? From there it’s important to maintain the consistency of the brand in every interaction you have with clients, from customer service to marketing communications.

Top 5 benefits of direct mail marketing
So you’ve established what you stand for, but how do you spread the word? Anyone who’s used direct mail can tell you that it’s a powerful way to deliver a message right to your customers’ doors — and bring more business through your own.
Direct mail helps strengthen your brand by keeping it visible and generating response from customers. It lets you literally put your brand in the hands of your customers, prospects and others in their households — something that can’t be said for many mediums.
Consider that it’s also:
  • Targeted. Mail lets you selectively target people most likely to respond.
  • Personal. You can address your customers by name, speak to them individually and appeal to their interests.
  • Flexible. From letters to brochures, there is a wide variety of inexpensive formats you can use for your direct mail campaign.
  • Measurable. Mail is one of the few mediums that let you track the success of your campaign. It’s as simple as counting the inquiries you received or the number of coupons redeemed. By tracking and analyzing your results, you’ll see what’s working and can make adjustments to future mailings if needed.
  • Easy. You don’t need a big budget to advertise with the mail. With a computer, some desktop publishing software and a little know-how, you can create your own professional-looking direct mail piece.
Remember, by creating a strong brand — and reinforcing that message — you can win customer loyalty, project credibility and increase the open rate of your direct mail pieces.

Jell-O Pudding's NYC Billboard Is Powered by Twitter

Here's a cool thing—a Twitter-powered billboard from Jell-O Pudding. It's essentially an outdoor version of the Jell-O Pudding Face website we wrote about earlier, which monitors the mood of the world based on the number of smiley- and sad-face emoticons posted to Twitter. (Whenever overall 'smileyness' dips below 50 %, the brand gives out coupons to the randomly downcast.) The billboard, from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, went up on Thursday and sits at the corner of West Broadway and Grand in New York City. Interesting to see an out-of-home ad responding in real time to the social Web.

Source: AdWeek