Cash for Clunkers Off to a Great Start. Better Get Moving.

Posted by truecreek on July 30, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment

Cash for Clunkers racks up 22,782 trade-ins and $95.9 million so far

by Chris Shunk on Jul 30th 2009 at 4:29PM

When the government’s Cash for Clunkers program returned 4,026 orders on its first full day of availability, some were surprised by the speed with which the sales booster took off. After only five days, the program seems to have picked up steam rather than lost it: 22,782 trade-ins have funneled through dealer lots in the 3-4 days since Monday when the program began. So far, dealers have requested $95.9 million in reimbursement money from the government, or about 10% of the funds that were supposed to keep the program running into November. The cars.gov website currently shows $75 million left for CAT3 trucks and $779 million out of $1 billion for everything else.

So far, the average rebate value is reportedly $4,209, which means most customers are eligible for the $4,500 voucher that requires a new vehicle purchase with a 10+ mpg improvement verses the model being traded in. Tuesday was the busiest day so far, with $51 million worth of reimbursements filed by dealers, and there were $27 million filed on Wednesday.

The National Automotive Dealers Association says the program will likely run out of money well before the November deadline. If C4C continues at its current pace, the program could end as early as September. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, some 23,000 dealers have submitted registrations and 19,328 have been approved.

The First Heineken Store is Opened.

Posted by truecreek on July 29, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

You just have to love Scandinavian design.

From Popsop:

Heineken company an the Dutch design studio Tjep have opened in the centre of Amsterdam the first branded Heineken store.

It is divided into 4 sections: the fashion store with the branded designer clothes, state-of-the-art beer shop with a “Fridge” exposition, small recording studio for young talanted musicians, and a travel section where Heineken fans can give the tickets for branded sponsored events.

The general idea of the interior design is to express coolness and freshness which light Heineken beer brings to drinkers.

Heineken Bottles

Heineken Store

What Will This Recession Teach Us?

Posted by truecreek on under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

The Great Depression, by far the biggest economic downturn of the 21st century, taught an entire generation of Americans a horrible, yet valuable lesson.  After Black Tuesday, when the stock market totally collapsed, life for many of these people would never be the same.

Jobs were gone overnight.  Banks failed. Entire industries were devastated.   Commodity prices plunged, taking with them so many family farms.  Tent cities sprung up all around our nation.   Life had never been harder.

As a nation, the shock to our collective system was so severe that our grandfathers and grandmothers became cynics. No one trusted the banking system.  People started hoarding cash, hiding it anywhere they could.  We became a nation of savers, simply because we didn’t want to expose our families to a repeat of the disaster.

And they never forgot.

The same shift in our financial psychology is happening again. After seeing their collective portfolios dive 40 to 50%, people are now on the sidelines, watching the market, willing to accept next to nothing in return simply because they are afraid to lose even more.

Savings rates have increased by ten fold, according to some statistics.  Six fold at the very least.   Consumer’s behavior has changed and in my opinion, for good.

My clients are seeing this firsthand.  We are too.  Financial conservation is back in vogue.  The average homeowner is doing everything they can to clean up their household balance sheets.  This popular frugality has permeated virtually all segments of our population, from the poor to the very wealthy.

And we are learning a lesson we will never forget.  Just like they did back in the 1930s.

For those who think that we will bounce right back to the ways we did things before this hard recession started, think again.  We are witnessing a sea change in the way the consumer deals with the economic realities at hand.

I find it very hard to believe that those lessons will be quickly forgotten.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Posted by truecreek on July 21, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

As advertisers, we are all aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter of the multitude of messages we are receiving daily from those companies that want to share their wares with us.

Cinema AdvertisingSo many in fact that it has become extremely difficult for an advertiser’s message to stand out from the pack.  Add in the prospect of the increasing use of DVR’s and other time shifting technologies and you have a real advertising challenge on your hands.

There is however, one advertising tactic that is gaining greater acceptance. That tactic is cinema advertising.

In “The Arbitron Cinema Advertising Study”, the evidence is very clear:  consumers are showing increasing acceptance of movie theater advertising. Younger viewers and those who frequent movies now see the on-screen commercials “as part of the entertainment experience.”

What a wonderful treat.  We finally have “a willing and attentive audience.”

According to the study, more than 45% of the respondents had gone to the movies at least once, with 60% of those watching the commercials prior to the start of the movie.  It was also determined that the perception of the method of advertising is positive, with over 63% stating that they “did not mind the advertisements they put on before the movie begins” with the younger audience being even more receptive.

So, give cinema advertising a try.  Better yet, just give us a call and we’ll get things moving.

Out of Bounds.

Posted by truecreek on July 20, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Seth tells it like it is.

By Seth Godin.

Sometimes people push back on posts of mine they don’t like by telling me I’m out of bounds. Somehow, they say, I’ve crossed the boundary of what I’m allowed to write about. They are angry that I’m now writing about something outside my defined area.

I’m usually taken aback by this, because I didn’t realize I’d actually agreed to any boundaries.

dont do it!Brands run into this all the time. Consumers give them boundaries. Nike isn’t allowed to make a computer, for example (unless they partner with Apple). It turns out, though, that marketers decide to believe in these boundaries a lot more than consumers do.

A beautifully made product or service (one that we agree with) gets a lot of slack, regardless of its source. Virgin is a great example of this. Branson can market cola and airplanes with the same brand, largely because we like what he makes. In Korea, there are a few massive brands that are ‘allowed’ to market anything they like, from dishwashers to cars. Google is allowed to market the very cool new Squares, of course.

The real problem is that when marketers believe they are going out of bounds, the work they do tends to be lousy. Starbucks attempt at chocolate, for example, wasn’t as good at being chocolate as their coffee is at being coffee.I think that’s because the marketers at Starbucks feel they have permission to care about coffee, but chocolate is merely an extension, an additional profit center, not a passion.

I’m not arguing for carte blanche craziness with your brand. American Express can do travelers checks and credit cards and could have done PayPal… but no, they probably shouldn’t launch a line of whiskey any time soon. I am, however, arguing that once you have permission to talk to someone, finding new products or services for them is a smart way to grow.

What to do with Special Requests.

Posted by truecreek on under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By Seth Godin.

The bike shop is busy in June. If you bring your bike in for a tune up, it will cost $39 and take a week.

A week!

What if someone says, “I have a bike trip coming up in three days, can you do it by then?”

At most bike shops, the answer is a shrug, followed by, “I’m sorry, we’re swamped.”

The problem with telling people to go away is that they go away. And the problem with treating all customers the same is that customers aren’t the same. They’re different and they demand to be treated (and are often willing to pay) differently.

So, why not smile and say, “Oh, wow, that’s a rush. We can do it, but it’s expensive. It’ll cost you $90. I know that’s a lot, but there you go.”

Outcome: Maybe they’ll still leave. But maybe they’ll happily pay you for the privilege of doing business with you. Why should this be your choice, not theirs?

If you do tax accounting for mid-size businesses, why not offer a special last-minute service? A service in which you process shoeboxes filled with unsorted papers? A service that costs less but happens during your slow season?

There are two really good reasons to turn down special requests:

1. Because you’re marketing yourself as extremely busy and perfectly willing to turn down good work.

2. Because you want to market yourself as someone who is a rigid artist, a stick in the mud or a crotchety perfectionist. This works great for pizza places.

Facts Always Win, Right?

Posted by truecreek on under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By Seth Godin.

If you’re selling a business to business service and you can prove that it’s better, that it delivers more value, that it’s cheaper or more durable or more efficient, shouldn’t that mean you will close every sale?

Even hard-headed business people end up buying the thing they want, not the thing they necessarily need.

The real danger of relying on facts to make your sale, though, is that when the facts are no longer on your side, you’re toast. The low-cost supplier gets hooked on the easy sales that come from acting like a commodity, and if that changes, you’ve got little room to maneuver.

Great brands and projects are built on real value and a real advantage, but great marketers use this as a supporting column, not the entire foundation. Instead, they build a story on top of their head start. They focus on relationships and worldviews and interactions, and use the boost from their initial head start to build competitive insulation.

MTV Nets Touts Shorter Web Video Ads.

Posted by truecreek on July 16, 2009 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

By Mike Shields

MTV Networks believes it has found a better answer for short form online video advertising than the much-derided 30-second pre-roll: a very short video spot (five seconds long) accompanied by a corresponding, though slightly-delayed display ad.

The company on Wednesday (July 15) announced the results of an elaborate study on online video advertising called Project Inform—one that sought to find a better ad standard for the burgeoning medium which combined brand effectiveness with user-tolerance. The extensive project, conceived as far back as early 2008, was conducted in partnership with with the researcher InsightExpress and employed the services of the Web video technology firm Panache.

Starting with over 20 possibilities, by early 2009 year MTVN says it had boiled its list of potential video ad formats to three, including the classic pre-roll. The others included a unit called the Lower 1/3 Product Suite—which combines a five second pre-roll with a transparent flash ads that takes over a the bottom third of a users video screen only after ten seconds of content has streamed, and a newer unit dubbed The Sideloader Product Suite—which also utilizes a five-second spot and a delayed animated display ad appearing on the side of the video player.

Then, from January through April of this year MTVN began testing the three placements on its collection of sites, from MTV.com to ComedyCentral.com to CMT.com, using 50 million streams worth of ad inventory for three different advertisers, including a studio, a packaged goods brand, and a grocery brand. The results indicated that while pre-rolls faired OK, the “Lower 1/3” scored best when it came to classic branding metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent.

That approach was crucial, according to Nada Stirratt, MTV Networks’ executive vp of Digital Advertising—who told Mediaweek that Project Inform was specifically designed to study the power of brand advertising—and not direct response advertising—in Web video. Yet it also had to yield actionable data. “The premise was to find out what do you need to activate a consumer response to a marketer’s message,” she said.

And MTV deliberately zeroed in on short form video and casual games—content types that continue to explode in user popularity but have often fallen short when it comes to monetization. “Everybody talks about long form,” Stirratt said. “That was our bias – ‘how do we make these [shorter] experiences work for advertisers?’ The goal was to find the perfect balance between an ad unit that is effective in moving the needle and an ad unit that is likeable.”

Why do people like the “Lower 1/3” unit?  It’s hard to say definitively, but Stirratt’s theorized that it has something to do with the lag between the short five second pre-roll and the display unit, which comes 10-seconds later, when “you already have a favorable impression of a brand, and people are really engrossed in content. And they are still able to interact if they want.”

MTVN’s goal with Project Inform in some ways mirrors the research work being done by Publicis VivaKi and a host of prominent partners on The Pool —which is also aimed at establishing a better industry standard for Web video. But MTVN has declined to participate in The Pool, instead pushing forward in search of its own answer, one that Stirratt believes is desperately needed.

“Obviously we need agencies and clients on board [creating original online video ads],” she said. “The win for the industry is when people start creating things for this medium instead of for other media.”

Buying a Schedule on TV is Cheaper Than You Think.

Posted by truecreek on under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

Retro TV CommercialIt was just a matter of time.  Back in the day, a rep could easily count on three or four local auto dealers to make his/her budget.  No more.  The media gravy train at the local auto dealer has stopped. Now the real cold calling begins.

Bloomberg:   U.S. TV broadcasters, struggling to replace a 20 percent drop in automotive advertising revenue, are turning to pawn shops, plastic surgeons and other nontraditional sources to fill airtime.

Local station owners like Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. and Gray Television Inc., whose revenue dropped after bankrupt General Motors Corp. and local dealers slashed marketing, are selling mortgage brokers and even landscapers on the notion that TV is affordable.

Across the U.S., the price of an average 30-second local TV commercial tumbled as much as 20 percent last year from 2007, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising, a New York- based trade organization. Auto ad revenue at local stations, down a fifth in 2008 from the year before, plunged another 52 percent in the first quarter, the TV Bureau said.

“A lot of local retailers, like the portrait shop or the pet store, haven’t advertised on TV before because they think they can’t afford it,” said Robert Prather, president of Atlanta-based Gray. “We’re out just beating bushes that we should have been doing a long time ago.”

A half-hour of prime-time TV typically contains 22 minutes of programming and eight minutes of ads, two of which are for local commercials, according to the Television Bureau. Rates depend on how many viewers are watching.

The price of an average 30-second ad placed on a local TV station last year ranged from $6.66 per 1,000 viewer homes in the early morning to $27.29 in prime time, according to the TV Bureau. Prime hours, when stations usually have their largest audience, are generally 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. In 2007, the same rates were $8.09 and $34.12, the bureau said.

“One of the pitches made by stations is that it’s cheaper than you think, particularly if you were looking at prices from a year ago,” Gary Belis, a spokesman for the New York-based TV Bureau, said in an interview.

Nexstar, which said auto ad sales dropped about 40 percent in the March quarter, has sold airtime to pawn shops and mortgage businesses in the Northeast and to ranches in the West, Chief Executive Officer Perry Sook said in an interview.

“The greatest opportunity in all of our markets is local businesses not currently doing business with our TV stations,” said Sook, whose Irving, Texas-based company operates or provides services to 63 stations in markets including Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Jacksonville, Florida.

Nexstar’s new-to-TV advertisers include Snare & Associates Mortgage Services LLC in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.

“I started a new business and needed to get my face out there,” Chief Executive Officer Anthony Snare said in an interview. “It worked.”

Snare said he bought packages of 30-second spots from Nexstar at $1,000 to $4,000 a month.

Gray, whose 36 stations in markets including Madison, Wisconsin, and Augusta, Georgia, received 19 percent of ad revenue from automakers and dealers last year, is now booking ads from landscapers and plastic surgeons for the first time, said Prather. He declined to predict how much Gray would make this year from first-time TV advertisers.

The new ad sources aren’t likely to entirely replace the decline in auto revenue, analysts and TV executives said.

“The big issue is that it takes 10 or 12 small ones to make up for some of the big car dealers we’ve had in the past,” Prather said.

George’s Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.

Posted by truecreek on July 8, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Read the First Comment

Though thiswashington post is not based on advertising and marketing, I thought that since there  seems to be a groundswell of comments these days about the lack of civility in our society, it might just be prudent to do a little research on the topic.

Apparently, George Washington took some time early on to write a set of rules, based on a similar set from the Jesuits.

What you see within the rules as you read them is quite unique:  a focus on others.

Please take a moment to read them.

We all could use a reminder.

http://www.foundationsmag.com/civility.html

‘Let Me Tell You a Story’

Posted by truecreek on July 1, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By Carmine Gallo

It’s the best way to grab potential customers’ attention and warm them to your pitch. Here are some tips:

During a business trip in Reno, Mario Moretti Polegato took a walk in the Nevada desert. His feet began to hurt in his rubber-soled shoes, so he took out a pocket knife and cut holes in the soles for ventilation. When he returned to his home in Italy, he manufactured a special insole that lets perspiration out without letting water in. Polegato is now the chairman of the Geox shoe company. Polegato recounted that story in a recent interview in The New York Times. The same story is told on the Geox Web site, along with a photo of Polegato and the shoes he cut holes in during that fateful walk.

Most business communication is dry, writes David Meerman Scott in his new book, World Wide Rave. “People love to share stories. When someone says: ‘Let me tell you a story…’ you’re interested, right? When someone says: ‘Let me tell you about my company’s product&’ is your reaction the same? It doesn’t sound like a way you want to spend your valuable time, does it? Stories are exciting.” Tell more stories to create excitement. Consider employing the following tips in your next business presentation:

iStock_000006643045SmallTell stories about yourself. Stories can be incorporated into almost any business communication—blogs, Web sites, and especially face-to-face presentations where you have the best opportunity to make a strong emotional connection with your audience. In September 2007, Brad Nierenberg, CEO of RedPeg Marketing in Alexandria, Va., pitched a project to Gaylord National, a massive new resort outside Washington, D.C. He, along with several other members of the team, competed for the account to publicize the hotel’s hiring event the following year.

Nierenberg told me the team members told stories about themselves in the first slides of the pitch, connecting those stories to the roles each would play on the account. For example, the account lead showed a photo of herself as a young cheerleader and discussed how her role is to lead with precision and to keep spirits high. Nierenberg brought a picture of himself as a 6-year old in a cowboy outfit. As the “sheriff” in town, he might not be on the account every day, but he would be available to make sure “all was right in the town of Gaylord.” Nierenberg knew the stories were making on impact on his audience from the smiles on their faces. “They couldn’t wait for the next story,” he said. The attendees even asked for copies of the photos to show the other decision makers. RedPeg won the account.

Tell someone else’s story. “In a mental world, it is ideas that shape behavior, and it is the transformational leader’s job to package the right kind of ideas into a story and to effectively communicate it to the organization,” according to Charles S. Jacobs in Management Rewired. Note that Jacobs doesn’t say that a leader’s job is to tell his story. Personal stories work best in some cases, but not all. Sometimes your clients’ stories are more relevant than your own. For example, Eastcastle Place is an independent living complex for seniors in Milwaukee, Wis. Chicago-based Celtic Marketing, Eastcastles’ advertising agency, decided to use storytelling in its 2008-09 marketing plan. According to Celtic President Marlene Byrne, research demonstrated that seniors were interested in independent living but feared making the move. They assumed the transition would be stressful financially and emotionally. “We felt the best way to show them that moving doesn’t have to be overwhelming was to share stories of Eastcastle residents who already made the move and were happy they did.” Stories of real residents (along with their photographs) appeared in direct mail and public advertising.

The purpose of the Eastcastle ads are not to make a sale over the phone but to inspire prospects to visit the community. More often than not, a story doesn’t make the sale. Stories open the door, making a prospect more receptive to the message. Although I’ve never owned a pair of Geox shoes, on my next visit to Nordstrom, I will probably look at a pair and think about the guy who poked holes in shoes in the Nevada desert.

If you want to connect with your audience, inspire them, and motivate them to action, start telling stories.