Tag Archives: John Ely Blog

March (Marketing) Maddness

MM

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!


It’s not Christmas until I hear Linus…

Linus Christmas

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!


Way to Stuffed for the Black Friday Fight!

vwlbt001

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!


Sure Signs that the Apocalypse is upon Us

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!!


This is how Elections Should Work…

OK, after the first Presidential debate, and especially after last night’s “Bicker-fest”, I have come up with a better way to choose the leader of the free world (however, I do admit I had to look away a few times last night and watch “American Dad”, just to regain some of my sanity).

If I were King of the World – This is how it would work:

  1. The parties select their candidates…nothing changes here  except, there are no campaigns, no commercials, no signs, etc.  Each candidate writes his or her plan and registered party members READ them to form their views and ideas for leadership on categories such as the economy, foreign relations, social programs, energy, land management, homeland defense, and many others.
  2. These registered party members then cast their votes for the party’s representative, based solely on the qualifications, background and plans written by the candidates.
  3. The chosen candidates from each party then fully write their plan for the next six (6) years in office. That’s it, no re-election you get ONE six-year stint to make a difference.
  4. These plans contain all the necessary information a voter would need to make a decision. Background, qualifications, who their cabinet members would be and their qualifications; along with the full six-year plan on how they will lead this once great country.
  5. Registered voters would be able to read these plans up to six months before the election and the plans would be available in a variety of formats, print, online, audio for those who cannot see.  One caveat, if you can see and can’t read….tough shit – you have no right or the proper background to vote in a leader that you and I share.
  6. On voting day you prove your registration and cast your vote.

Gone are the negative arguments, misinformation and spins that further divide an already divisive country. Gone are the massive media buys that do NOTHING for the economy. In their place are ads for products and services that re-stimulate our economy. Gone are the wasted signs, posters, placards that clutter my neighborhood and yours. Gone are the votes based on fear, humiliation and plain misinformation.

This content is solely a product of the BrandedBlogger and I approve this message!


Trade Show Time…Again!

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!


Social Marketing….not what you expect!

Hello all,

Well today’s rant is about social media and all the marketing hype, energy, time and money (yes, money….it’s not free) being spent on it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge fan of connecting with customers, prospects, investors and employees, but I’m not ready to bet  the entire farm on SM….even as 2013 budget season approaches.

Why, you ask, does a marketing person question social media in the middle of the frenzy?  Here’s why.  We (my firm) have not employed any type of social media to our marketing mix and what was the result??? We’ve doubled in size during the most turbulent economic time since the 30’s. How did we accomplish this?  Product, Service, PERSONAL Relationships…that’s it.

First, if your product or service sucks….you will fail. Hands down, consumers are savvy enough to not get taken twice; and most not even once. I don’t care how many Twitter followers you have, how many Facebook likes or how high your Penguin (Google) analytic rankings; if your product stinks, so will your sales.

Next, if you rely on interactive means to communicate solely with customers, you really only have a virtual relationship at best. Maybe we’re unique in the B2B world selling expensive power systems, but I cannot sell one product without at least one (usually many) face to face interactions. I wouldn’t purchase a mission-critical component for my company without thoroughly knowing who I’m buying from. I am, and all of our sales persons are, on planes…a lot!

Finally, if you can’t back what you sell…that’s right – you fail. Again, customers want to know you have their back. If a unit of mine needs service, I send a technician right away. Not a video of how to troubleshoot your own system…a real, live person trained for the job. Sensitive? Yes, one system can produce over 250,000 amps of current. That’s enough to burn through the steel supports of the Empire State Building in less than a second. Imagine what that does to a human body. You really want your facility manager poking around in there??

The rub – So much attention is focused on connecting virtually with people that I feel that the biggest “P” (product) is being short-changed. I see 1000 articles on social media to every one about product alpha or beta testing, voice of the customer or innovation discovery. SM has a place, even in my upcoming marketing year. I’m just not ready to rely on it totally; it will be used as a tool, not the crux of my strategy!!


B2B Woes…

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!


The Great Re-Depression

I was listening to the radio and heard mention that the recent recession ended in 2009. This is the typical sugar-coated White House version of reality, but it really ticked me off!  I’ll believe the recession is over when unemployment is under 5%, GDP exceeds debt and my house is worth more than it was in early 2006!!  I’m thinkin’ that’s probably 4-5 years away at best!

If you look at it from the typical American’s viewpoint, you can’t help notice that this will be a 10-year minimum crisis. Most middle-class citizens are heavily invested in their homes, and many of us made the mistake of treating them like living, breathing 401ks…investing most of our earnings into the home we live in and banking on the year-over-year returns.

This all got me thinking, and got me pissed at the same time. I’ve been looking for inspiration for a new book and I think I’ve got it. My contention is that the recession is not over, it didn’t start in 2006 and in fact America has been in steady (sometimes steep) decline since JFK was shot on Dealey Plaza. Think about it…we were crowned the world’s super power in 1945-6. Our economy blasted off and remained the global leader until the early 60s. Since then we’ve:

  • Fought and lost the most unpopular war in the last 1000 years
  • Eroded our manufacturing base starting with the Automobile and continuing with the Steel, Consumer Goods and Technology industries.
  • Let our nation’s  infrastructure (once the envy of the world) go to shit. Take a look around at our bridges, roads, power plants, etc. – it’s downright scary!
  • Enacted so many social entitlement programs that we’ve become a nation of takers. Nearly 50% of Americans are on some government assistance program. If you’re bad at math, that means those of us who are not, are supporting ourselves and the at least one other citizen.
  • Finally, we’ve become such politically-correct pussies that when we do notice all the above our first notion isn’t to raise holy Hell until the problem is fixed…no, we concern ourselves with which special-interest group will be offended by our frank words, and how we will protect ourselves in what has become a litigious America.

Yes, I’m pissed and you should be too! When will I start writing?  About 20 minutes ago!


Another New Year…

OK, here we are again at the beginning of another new year. Every 12 months it’s the same for me, I make some resolutions…some are kept; some are not (OK, most are not!). But this year is different! Yes, I hear you pessimists in the background mumbling about the same lame excuse and justification…but really, 2012 is different.

How so? I’m making an entire list of resolutions…here we go!

  1. I will update my blog regularly. I now have a book out there and people may actually want to read periodic ramblings from my demented brain.
  2. I will get back in the gym. Actually, never left of my own accord; surgery last October put me down for a few months.
  3. I will read a book a week. Not all that hard unless my ADHD is kickin’ in.
  4. I will keep my email inbox clean. Nothing pisses me off more than 200 emails left unread in my inbox. But of course my procrastination leads to the overflow…which in turn pisses me off even more!
  5. I will tweet. ’nuff said.
  6. I will live within my budget. Fat chance, but I’m putting it in writing anyway.
  7. I will cleanse my Facebook friends list, and put more thought into who I let in.
  8. I will drive my econobox car more and leave the Earth-destroying SUV in the garage (notice I’m not selling the damn thing…baby steps)
  9. I will read my daily message from a spiritual source. No clever line here…still wary of personal Armageddon.
  10. I will begin another book. It’s long overdue.

So, there we have it, not one but 10 full resolutions. My goal is to stick to as many as possible – how’s that for non-committal?

Have a happy, safe and productive 2012…we’ll see you back here soon!

J