The Super Bowl is the holy grail of marketing and advertising you say? I say no! This time of year we get to witness the Super Bowl, Daytona 500 and the World Cup (by US standards) and then some. The NCAA basketball tournament has morphed into a marketers dream over the last 25 years or so.
It used to be like most sporting events, just that; a college b-ball tourney that basketball fans tuned into. Today, March Madness has become a plethora of advertising, new product releases and awareness campaigns reaching all types of demographics. The typical person tuning in may have a college team they support, but most I suppose, wouldn’t know the difference between a Jayhawk and a Chicken McNugget.
So, you college basketball purist are out of luck; the NCAA tourney will never be what it was back in the 70s, 80s or even 90s! This year’s event will be chalked full of ads, apps and other marketing media including the Quicken Loans/Yahoo Sports/Warren Buffet impossible chance at $1B. Marketers know when and where you pay attention…and March Madness is a gold mine!
Maybe it’s because I felt like Charlie Brown when I was a kid, unpopular and doomed for failure at every turn, but I have always considered “Peanuts” my favorite comic strip. I felt a kinship to Charlie Brown in all of his escapades….from kicking a football to having an empty mailbox on Valentine’s Day. Move forward 40 or so years and I still smile when I see Snoopy, Lucy or any of the gang on a greeting card or even in Met Life commercial. So, it’s no wonder what my very favorite holiday special is – A Charlie Brown Christmas!
I watched last night, just like virtually every Christmas season for the past 45 years. The special was Charles M. Schultz’s first and most primitive animated project, but in my book the best of them all (sorry Rudolph and Frosty!). The essence is of Charlie Brown’s disdain for the commercialization of Christmas, a theme as salient today as it was in 1965 when it aired for the first time. I’m not overly religious, but I get a lump in my throat when Linus takes to the stage during the kid’s chaotic play rehearsal to explain to Charlie Brown, the true meaning of Christmas.
Today, I’m sure the political correctness police would shutter at Linus’ dissertation, but the years have given the Peanuts gang a reprieve; and I for one am very grateful!
I’ve been watching closely the battleground for the Black Friday shoppers this year and as in years past, the tactics blend into the days before and weeks after the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year we saw the inception of “Gray” Thursday (when I was a kid we called it Thanksgiving Day). Wal-Mart seemed particularly savvy with the timing of the deals starting that evening and breaking them into segments for the following Black Friday. Some doors opened at Midnight, but deals were offered at 6am, 8am and 10 am based on the product family.
This is a pretty cool move by Wal-mart, because the items I seemed to gravitate towards were being offered at their lowest prices later in the day. Do they have a bead on the American male shopper? Maybe so. I’m sure a great deal of data was behind the deal timing, and no one has more shopper data than Wal-Mart. They must have deciphered the fact that I was so full of turkey and mashed potatoes that there was no way I’m getting in line at midnight, or 6 am for that matter. Getting to the store at 10am for certain deals almost got me off the couch!
Still this year I did most of my shopping online…long before today’s Cyber Monday; I received emails from the places I most shop online at, offering deals long before today. but I will still be lurking on the Internet today to see what deals might be out there. If they’re smart, we’ll see treadmills and gym memberships go on sale today!
Well I got the news last week and it wasn’t good…Hostess, the bakers of such iconic treats like, Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding-Dongs, Fruit Pies, etc. is gone for good. The management blamed the unions, the unions blamed the management and the approximately 18,000 employees are out jobs just a week before Thanksgiving.
I know from running businesses that’s it’s tough, but in today’s economy it becomes almost impossible to maintain a company without compromises on both sides…which were not evident in this case.
Some savvy company, or group of companies will certainly gobble up (shameless TG reference, sorry) one or more of the brands. But I can’t help thinking this is just the beginning of a long line of once iconic brands going by the wasteside. If Hostess, a brand that rang strongest through the Great Depression and was a staple for me, my parents and their parents can disappear; who’s next?
I know the Mayan calendar says the world is ending on December 22 of this year; I don’t know how much stock I put in that, but just to be safe, I’m not starting my Christmas shopping until the 23rd!!
Here we go again – ready to hit the road for another trade show; probably my last major one of the year. As always, we will get to the convention center thinking that we have crossed all our “T’s” and dotted every “I”, but alas something will go wrong…it always does!
I love the atmosphere at the shows, the over-the-top booths, sideshows and bustling sales people eager to make a mark. There is so much energy, hype, marketing power, etc. Being a marketing geek, I feel I’m in my element. However, the planning, the preparation, the standing up for 10-12 hours at a time and the travel all take a toll on me. Even more so lately.
I’m heading down Sunday for Orlando and Solar Power International 2012 (booth 3586 if you’re in the neighborhood), and I can assure you that while in the midst of the frenzy, while dining late with co-workers and customers and especially when we’ve torn down and are basking in the achievements of the week…I’ll feel fine!
I’m speaking at a local event this week and it has forced me to research my chosen topic, even though I have spent the last 20 years in the industry. B2B marketing is a special animal and anyone that has engaged in it will tell you it’s a much more difficult and complex type of marketing than the more traditional B2C.
I belong to gr0ups and associations that tailor to marketers, but we B2B folks seem to be the ones swept into the corner…that is until we’re needed to land a multi-billion dollar sale! See, B2B marketers typically work with larger product scopes or even project-based sales. These types of sales can take months or years to complete (In that time a consumer product could run its entire life-cycle!) and demand that we “cater” to a variety of targets and decision makers. My contention is that B2B marketers don’t sell a prospect but rather entice those prospects to “commit” to a channel partner or particular rep. Our job as B2B marketers is to position ourselves as the spouse and not this week’s date!
I’m amazed at all the research around B2B that simply reinforces the fact that it is more challenging, without any roadmaps drawn for success. I’ll focus this week on both I think; we need to understand the differences between the two, but we also need to concoct some recipes for achievement!
I’ve been anxious this past week and I’m just starting to define why. Leading up to Christmas (like, two months prior!) I’m consumed with what to get everyone on my list. I’m canvassing the Internet and the local stores doing research on everything from a laser parking assistant (trust me, it’s a real product) to the cleverest Hallmark card I can find. All of this frantic activity stops on the morning of the 25th. Even with all the moaning and griping I do about shopping, I find that I miss the hustle of it all after the holiday.
I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering the blues here; retailers must be going insane. After the rush to return the ugly sweaters and the imitation iPods, there’s not a lot of activity until we all go looking for Valentines’ cards, jewlery and over-priced chocolates. What is the solution? I’m not sure, but what if we developed (and marketed) gifts that have some immediate recurring revenue? The Wii and Blu-Ray players are a start, but even then the initial gift usually comes with a bevy of games and asssorted DVDs.
Retailers and e-tailers need to be thinking about how to bring those shoppers back shortly after the holidays; maybe it’s holding customer events in the store (e-vents online) that begin to build a community among the shoppers. Gaming contests, chefs teaching us how to properly use those new Ginsu knives or a class on getting the most out of our iPads. As marketers, we must keep the momentum going after the holidays or we’ll all be singing the blues this winter.