Tag Archives: Marketing

March (Marketing) Maddness

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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!


Way to Stuffed for the Black Friday Fight!

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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.

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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!


Back in the Fold

OK, it’s been a while since we visited each other here. My excuse – well, I’ve been traveling the world promoting solar power and all its virtues!  My new “day” job has me hopping all over the country and SE Asia and we’re doing some wonderful things.

Now, my background for those who don’t know me personally (and what a shame if you don’t!) is not only marketing, but electronics technology also. Most notably, working within the photovoltaic industry. “Photo – Vol – what” ? I hear you say? It’s not as geeky as it sounds. Photo = light, like what comes from the sun. Voltaic = Volts or electricity. So, sun-generated electricity…see, that wasn’t so hard. We’ve been bringing clean power to villages in Malaysia and some Government installations around the globe. Much more to do and many more places for me to see; but I promise to keep you in the loop!

Anyway, that along with my new book collaboration – The Good Book of Business, has been keeping me quite busy.  I’ll be writing more about the GBOB as the weeks progress and we get closer to publishing the book (very soon, I promise!). OK, out for now…the sun’s shining somewhere!


March Mad Money!

I did some quick calculating and the end number was astounding…wait for it – ’til the end of this piece. We marketers dream about the day when we will commission the Holy Grail of commercials…the Super Bowl spot. However, a little digging finds another event that far eclipses the NFL’s championship game.

The Super Bowl ads ran about twice the rate compared to the NCAA tourney this year – $3M per 30 seconds as opposed to $1.5M for March Madness; however the concentration and shear number of games lends to a much bigger jackpot. The NCAA tourney games run at a rate of 33% advertising. Every one minute of commercials buys you – the viewer, two minutes of basketball action.

Multiply the per-minute cost ($3M) by the number of games (67) and the number of commercial minutes per game (40 – very conservative!) and you get – $ 8,040,000,000! Yeah that’s eight billion…with a “B”! By comparison the Super Bowl brings in around $300M. Madness alright…Mad Money!


After Christmas Blues…

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.