‘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.

VW Keeps Spending on Ads, Which Helps its Market Share.

Posted by truecreek on May 4, 2009 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY

Car advertisers that maintain their ad spending can rev up market share in down times, gaining an edge to exploit in a recovery.

Sure, the auto industry is in the doldrums. Car sales through April this year are down 37%, to about 3 million vehicles from 4.8 million through April last year, according to Autodata’s latest sales report out Friday.

But while some brands all but stopped spending on marketing, others kept or increased their budgets, particularly for new or improved models. Among those for whom that paid off:

Kia Motors increased U.S. ad spending 43% in 2008 vs. 2007, according to ad tracker TNS Media Intelligence. Its U.S. market share is up from 1.9% at the end of 2007 to 3.1% through April of this year, according to Autodata.

Mercedes-Benz raised ad spending 39.8% in 2008 vs. 2007. Its U.S. market share is up from 1.6% at the end of 2007 to 1.8% through April this year.

Volkswagen raised ad spending 45.7% in 2008 vs. 2007. Its U.S. market share is up from 1.4% at the end of 2007 to 1.9% through April of this year.

VW’s U.S. marketing chief, Tim Ellis, says that despite the tough sales year, 2009 ad expenditures will be held even with 2008.

“When we invest in marketing, things happen,” says Ellis. “We think it’s important to stick to our roots and stick to our value message. We’re getting a higher percentage of the dwindling marketplace. And when this crazy situation comes straight side up again, we’ll be positioned to increase our share even further.”

How Your Value Message Can Be Heard Above the Din.

Posted by truecreek on April 6, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

By  Beth Snyder Bulik

YORK, Pa.   (AdAge.com) — Consumers don’t have to look far these days for a deal; it seems marketers everywhere are pitching discounts, bargains and value.

istock_000003049742smallWalmart allows consumers to save money and live better. Microsoft reminds that PCs are cheaper than Macs and just as good. JCPenney promises the trifecta of value: style, quality and price. Kia Motors says it has features competitors can’t beat at a price they can’t match. Pillsbury Grands biscuits are only 25¢ a serving. Subway and Quiznos are duking it out by the dollar with $5 foot-longs and $4 torpedos, respectively.

As ’90s infomercial guru Susan Powter might say, “Stop the insanity.” On its face, the rationale behind value-based advertising seems to make sense. It’s a recession, and consumers are watching what they spend. But assuming everyone really is only out for the best deal during this recession, at what point does it all become one big blur? That is, if everything is a value, then what’s the value of being a value?

“When everyone is offering 10% off or 25% off or 50% off, what’s the point of difference?” said David Murphy, co-president and director of brand innovation at Barrie D’Rozario Murphy, Minneapolis. “A lot of the noise you’re hearing now is price noise. … Value in the traditional definition is getting more for less money or getting something for nothing. But value has an emotional quality, too, where I feel smart or I feel reassured or I feel in control by buying this product.”

He pointed to Hyundai, Target and Kodak as recent examples of brand marketing that tap that deeper kind of value. The Hyundai Assurance program reassures by taking the risk of job loss off the table, while Target harked back to simpler times with its fall campaign tagged “A new day. New ways to save.” And Kodak offers consumer-smart and less-wasteful picture printing with its newly launched “Print and Prosper” campaign.

“We’re promoting the value of saving people money. That gets to the trust of Kodak,” said Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Hayzlett of the work created by Deutsch, New York. “It’s not a pricing model; this is a value model. … Kodak wants you to take more pictures, have more memories and more Kodak moments. We don’t want you to have to worry about whether you can afford to print those moments and memories out.”

Even the word value can raise consumer suspicions, no matter a marketer’s good intent. “‘Value’ is the most overused and least believed statement in branding,” said Kevin Joy, VP at BrandProtect. “It’s OK to want to be perceived as providing value, but just keep it out of the slogans, please.”

And Now, Another Opinion. Americans Spend Eight Hours a Day on Screens.

Posted by truecreek on March 28, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment

Adult Americans spend an average of more than eight hours a day in front of screens — televisions, computer monitors, cellphones or other devices, according to a new study.

The study also found that live television in the home continues to attract the greatest amount of viewing time with the average American spending slightly more than five hours a day in front of the tube.

The figure drops to 210 minutes a day of average TV viewing time among 18-24 year olds but rises to 420 minutes a day among those aged 65 and older.

The “Video Consumer Mapping” study was conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design (CMD) and Sequent Partners for the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence (CRE).

For the year-long study, observers recorded the exposure of 350 subjects to four categories of screens: traditional television, computers, mobile devices and other screens such as store displays, movie screens and even GPS navigation units.

The study found the average amount of screen time for all age groups was “strikingly similar” at more than eight-and-a-half hours although the type of devices and duration used by the respective groups throughout the day varied.

It found that people aged 45 to 54 averaged the most daily screen time at just over nine-and-a-half hours.

The study did not include anyone under the age of 18.

Among other finds:

— computer video consumption tends to be quite small with an average time of just over two minutes a day.

— Adults spend an average of 6.5 minutes a day with videogame consoles with the number rising to 26 minutes a day among those aged 18-24

— Adults spend an average 142 minutes a day in front of computer screens

— Adults spend an average 20 minutes a day engaged with mobile devices with the highest usage — 43 minutes a day — among the 18-24 age group

“What differentiates this study from all other attempts to measure video exposure at the consumer level is its scale, the range of media covered and the fact that it is focused on consumers first and the media second,” said Mike Bloxham, director of insight and research for Ball State’s CMD.

“It’s not a study about TV or the Web or any other medium — it’s about how, where, how often and for how long consumers are exposed to all media.”

Ad Recession Brings on the Belly Fat.

Posted by truecreek on March 10, 2009 under More Dam News | Read the First Comment


Sites Stop Fighting Those Ubiquitous Direct-Response Ads as Publishers Reluctant to Forego Revenue

by Michael Learmonth

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — The recession is having a slimming-down effect on media businesses, but it’s feeding the proliferation of pot bellies and muffin tops across the web.

The belly-fat ads may be unappealing and jarring on some of the higher-end sites that are running them, but they work, and can bring more revenue than a display ad sold on a cost-per-thousand-viewers basis.

The ubiquitous “belly fat” ads, placed by numerous direct-response marketers, including some of the web’s shadiest advertisers, are finding welcome homes across the web as publishers grow more reluctant to leave any available ad budgets on the table, even those attached to unappealing ads.

These ads, which typically link to sites with names such as Becky’s Weight Loss or Helen’s Weight Loss, often use the same exact creative — a before-and-after photo of a woman’s belly — and tout some secret to getting rid of a gut. Users, of course, have to click on the ad to find out more.

Online advertising start-up Rubicon Project estimates that different versions of the “belly fat” ads are now being served by half the ad networks in the U.S., sometimes accounting for as much as 30% of an ad network’s total revenue.

It’s all part of a larger shift toward direct-response advertising as brand dollars become harder to come by. The belly-fat ads may be unappealing and jarring on some of the higher-end sites that are running them, such as MSNBC.com, but they work, and can bring more revenue than a display ad sold on a cost-per-thousand-viewers basis.

“Ultimately, the economy is what it is, and ad networks are finding that it is easier for them to get direct-response ads right now than it is to get brand dollars,” said Rubicon VP J.T. Batson.

But here’s the bigger problem: The process of blocking belly-fat ads for publishers that don’t want them is proving particularly difficult for ad networks. The creative gets placed by numerous corporations using different tags, URLs and toll-free numbers, making them hard to track and stop automatically.

And when ad networks have unsold inventory, they’ll often tap another ad network to fill it, giving belly-fat ads another side door onto websites that might not want them.

New Jersey-based ad network AdBlade is placing some belly-fat ads, including smaller placements on MSNBC, but CEO Ash Nashed said he turns away about 60% of the belly-fat ads out there, including those with forced upsells in the fine print and those where a person doesn’t answer the toll-free number. “They do perform well; a lot of people click on those ads, quite frankly,” he said.

And it’s not just belly fat. Direct-response ads of all kinds, such as those for lowering bills, avoiding computer viruses and checking credit scores, are flooding into unsold ad inventory. Windows that open underneath a page — the so-called pop-unders of the late ’90s — are making a comeback, and ad execs say they’re seeing more in-text ads from the likes of Vibrant Media and Kontera as publishers attempt to squeeze incremental dollars from each page.

“It signifies a shortage of alternatives and a hunger for revenue,” said Andy Atherton, chief operating officer of Brand.net. “This isn’t a new issue, but in this climate it’s harder to say no to any ad if there is money attached to it.”

In their quest for hard-to-find ad dollars, publishers are paying more attention to their international traffic, which many used to ignore. A typical U.S. web property gets 30% of its traffic from overseas, but it’s difficult to sell ads against those visitors without doing a deal with an ad network based in, say, Germany, to sell to a much smaller German audience, or working with companies such as Adconion or AdGent 007, which can serve international ads to those visitors.

A Very Brief Creative Brief.

Posted by truecreek on February 10, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Here’s a good start for your next creative brief.

Background/Overview:  Why are we advertising?

Target audience:  Who are we talking to?

Target audience:  What do they currently think?

What is the objective, the purpose of the ad?

What do we want to say?

What distinguishes us from the competition?

What are the supporting rational and emotional ‘reasons to believe?

What type of relationship do we have with our customers, stated in human terms?

What have we done in the past that has been the most productive?

What do we need and when do we need it?