Marketing in the Making

Marketing; Thoughts and Questions

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Chalkboards and Cookies!

Well it has certainly been quite a while since I last wrote, but I have still been trying to keep up with the news!

I feel like a lot of things have happened lately. I moved to Chicago, started a full time job downtown, Mozilla decided it would begin blocking third-party cookies in the new Firefox 22 set to release in June. I’m telling you a lot! But first, I want to show you a little decoration I added to my office this past week!

photo.JPG     photo.JPG   photo.JPG

(Please excuse my poor handwriting and photography skills–I am working on them daily!)

Stick on chalkboards the size of a sheet of paper! Perfect for some quick to-do lists, notes and comments on the day! I love them! Check them out at Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store either in Brooklyn, NY or online at http://www.blueribbongeneralstore.net/ So much other fun stuff on the site too–you may get stuck on there for a while!

Woo, sorry for the tangent, just had to share that with all of you! Back to the cookies!

I understand that blocking these cookies may make users feel “more secure” when browsing the internet but at what cost? I’ll tell you. Now with Firefox blocking these cookies by default, you will not receive targeted ads. Now instead of seeing ads that may fit your needs, they will be completely random. By blocking these cookies, ad networks and the like will loose the ability to reach the appropriate audience. I personally appreciate seeing ads that fit my needs and follow my trends. I would not on the other hand appreciate seeing ads about senior living or the cool new restaurant in LA–I am not in LA and I am no where near ready to research senior living. I currently receive ads for the best way to find apartments and events around Chicago–these are a little more relevant for me.

On the other side, for the advertiser, this means that they will not be able to reach their target market as easily. Tracking clicks and impressions just became a whole lot more complicated. How do you quantify the ROI when you loose half the necessary information? How can you accurately reach consumers and understand them if you loose insight? Yes, I understand that Safari already blocks cookies, but that is Safari–who uses Safari anymore? And how likely is it that Mozilla Firefox users will go in and try to change the settings to enable cookies–its too much work!

Please take a look at this article from MediaPost about the subject for additional information.

With all of this, I am interested to see how this pans out and if anything will change. I am also excited to see how advertising will change with this new obstacle..will this lead to a more organic form of advertising that social media has already begun or perhaps more guerrilla marketing techniques? How do you think everything will pan out and change?

 

Consumer Behavior

For the longest time I have wanted to take a class on Consumer Behavior, so when I had the opportunity to sit in on a class on Behavioral Economics at Northeastern University, I jumped at the chance. During the first class I was at, we were discussing Prospect Theory where people use various heuristics to make analyzing risky choices easier. These heuristics include coding, combination, cancellation, simplification and detection. Instead of going into detail about each of them here, I recommend you look into it on Wikipedia.

As we were discussing supporting evidence for Prospect Theory such as loss aversion, the endowment effect and the status quo bias, I began thinking about the importance of recommendations. How can a recommendation decrease the degree of risk when making a choice? I have learned in the past about the importance of “organic” recommendations. For example, in a magazine, the pages which have the collections of outfits that writers picked out versus the advertisements that the brands paid big money to include in the magazine (see below image from Health Magazine). Social media has encouraged this trend of recommendations even farther through social networks and the simplicity of interacting and sharing information. Hearing a recommendation from a name you recognize and maybe respect means a lot more than an ad from a brand who you can’t match a face to. You can also see this happening when you listen to the radio and Ryan Seacrest, for example is talking about the newest Kindle and how much he likes it. Even if these people are paid to say these “opinions”, they seem realistic enough that we as consumers believe them.

Whose recommendations do you trust? Celebrities, bloggers, authors, family and/or friends? I tend to trust my family and friends a lot…especially when it comes to electronics.

Apple Marketing

Every website that I have gone onto in the past week or even two weeks has been related to Apple. First it was the new iPhone 4s and then Steve Job’s death. This is completely understandable.

The vast majority of the Facebook statuses and Tweets I have seen in these past few weeks were related to Apple in one way or another. This speaks to the impact that Apple has had on the world. Yes, Apple engineers have come up with truly innovative products which have pushed our imaginations, but at the same time, the marketing that went in to these products and this brand is unbelievable.

Apple is an incredibly recognizable brand (Top 50 in the world from BusinessWeek). Even if they are not as recognizeable as some of their competitors like IBM or Intel, they have been able to do something that no one else has in the past. They have introduced computers to the “non-techy” market. Prior to the sleek look which Apple introduced, computers were mainly associated with those who lived and breathed technology basically.

I am not very tech-savy (although I would consider myself a little better off then most), so Apple products such as the MacBook and iPod Touch (both products I own) make me feel good (and like I know a little bit about technology). Apple did an amazing job at integrating many types of people into their systems as well as showcasing that.

Their advertising became iconic. Do you remember their iPod commercials (see above)? They were huge. Then the Mac vs. PC commercials. Who has never seen one? I have to admit that part of the reason I loved those was because I love Justin Long, but they were also funny and captivating. Apple understood the importance of consistency in their advertising. They also understood their customers. They kept themes going and developed them, rather than constantly changing. They also connected to their customers.

What do you think about Apple’s marketing efforts?

Steve Jobs truly did a great job leading such an innovative company. Even with him gone, I still believe the company can continue to do great things.

Belated Anniversary

I believe this post is a bit overdue but believe it or not, I have had this blog for over a year. I seem to have missed the one-year. I want to do some reflecting…

But, first of all, I want to say thank you to all of you who take the time to read my blog.

I started out with lengthy posts which I learned from speaking to people and general blog statistics, that over about 300 words may be too long so I have been trying to cut my posts down ever since. I also learned that when you post pictures of common images like a world map or a thanksgiving turkey, it skews your blog view statistics. The images show up in Google image searches and when people click on them, I can’t tell if they are actually looking at my posts or just the image.

The next important aspect is comments. Comments mean the world to me. I love getting any and all comments and especially those from complete strangers. It means I was able to reach somebody new and encourage thought and conversation outside my circles. Going along with comments, whenever I get a new subscriber to my blog, I have a mini celebration. It means you look forward to my posts and want to be updated about whenever I post something new.

I already know a few things I need to work on for the coming year. Here are my resolutions:

1. Post more frequently (Lately I haven’t been doing the best job at posting on a consistent basis)

2. Interact with other bloggers through commenting on other blogs and referring to other blogs

3. Post more about news-worthy topics and commenting on events in the news

And last but most certainly not least, thank you again for taking the time to read my blog and comment on it. If you haven’t commented, I encourage you to do so. I would really like to hear all of your thoughts. If you have any suggestions for me as well, please don’t hesitate to tell me!

Happy Birthday!

Today was a day of birthdays. It was my brothers birthday and Mashable’s. I know what you were wondering, “what did you do for your brothers birthday?” Good question! We went to this really good barbeque place called Redbones in Somerville. It was amazing! I definitely recommend it if you are ever in the area.

Oh, was that not the question you had in mind? I guess you would rather read about Mashable (except for my brother–he was my first subscriber).

In light of Mashable’s birthday, I thought I would share some things I have noticed. For those of you who don’t know what Mashable is, it is “The Social Media Guide” and it has everything from news about technology, social media and design to jobs. In short, it is my go to website (After email, Facebook and Twitter of course). I recommend checking it out every once in a while just to stay in the loop. You can even follow it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

If you have a Twitter and follow a lot of Marketing agencies and even companies from other industries (like me), you will notice how a lot of them will post something about the same article and many times it will be from Mashable. Now, I want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with that. It just makes me realize how we are still all very new at using social media for marketing. We are filling our pages with the same information as the people down the street.

It makes sense. It is time consuming to leaf through thousands of news sites, article, images and anything else that your followers may find interesting. But in the end, leafing through all that, I believe actually pays off. The key is finding an efficient way to do that. And that is where we are today.

What do you think?

Color in Advertising

About 2 years ago, I wrote a paper for my Freshman English class about color in advertising. I think it is pretty interesting and have chosen to share a little bit of it with you. Enjoy.

The above image illustrates some emotions elicited from these colors.

When walking down the street, all the colors visible on signs and objects have a reason for being there. A sign with an advertisement about recycling or improving the planet will usually be green to elicit ideas about nature and cleanliness. Advertisements like these will either catch one’s eye or it will not. But, what is it about an advertisement that catches one’s eye? Is it merely the wording, the colors or the mixture of everything? When everything is put together, the final product will most definitely have a larger impact and be more meaningful to the consumer. However the impact of color is great, and can make the difference between a best selling product and a bankrupt company (Verlodt 2001, Connections Magazine). The impact color has on consumers’ perception of the advertisement is large enough to alter his/ her overarching opinion of the advertisement alone, and even the brand as a whole.
• A single color can cause an advertisement to change completely.
• The mood elicited by an advertisement and those present prior to the advertisement’s presentation have important impacts on ones perception of the   advertisement and brand in general.
• The colors depicted in an advertisement are intended, ideally for the target audience.
• The placement of such colors in an advertisement also makes a large difference in the impact on the consumer.

The Business of People.

What is L.L. Bean known for? Yes, they do sell outdoorsy equipment and clothing but there is something even greater. Their customer service. From grade school up until high school everybody always had those L.L. Bean backpacks with their initials on them. Every year they got a new one, and in a different color too! (These backpacks certainly last longer than one year, but everyone seemed to be getting a new ones so often.)

If you buy a product from L.L. Bean and it rips or breaks somehow they replace it and don’t make a big deal about it. Because of this strategy and their great attitudes, Business Week has awarded L.L. Bean second place in their second annual list of Customer Service Champs Other well known companies with customer service rated in the top ten include Trader Joe’s, Starbucks and JetBlue Airways.

The key thing you always learn when working in…well every type of business is “the customer is always right”. The vast majority of companies may teach this rule but few actually follow it. With out customers or clients, you would not have a company. When a customer has a good experience at a store or with a certain company, he/she is more likely to pass on the recommendation. That good recommendation may only reach a few people but as we have all seen and heard, bad news, gossip and experiences travel much faster and to even more people.
Take the United Airlines example from the summer of 2009. The airline damaged musician Dave Carroll’s guitar during transport and refused to take responsibility. Carroll took to social media to get the word out and created a video on YouTube, that went viral entitled United Breaks Guitars The airline’s lack of response and poor customer service caused more damage and money to combat the issue than a simple smile and apology would have done.

Customer service can make or break a company. We are in the business of people and so, in the end, our job is to please them.

Word of Mouth Marketing is Not Dead

The most valuable way to get the word out about your company and/or event is through word of mouth. It has been a long lasting successful tool. According to a study by Yahoo! in the end of 2010, word of mouth as a marketing tool still proves valuable in passing along that all important message about your company.
The study also pointed out that although social and new media in marketing is growing, when people are discussing the brand, they reference the company website more often than the various social media platforms. To me this makes sense, since the most concrete information needed about a company will be primarily on their website. However, social media has played a role in assisting word of mouth.

Yes, you can still turn to your friend down the street and ask about where is the best place for some clam chowder, but social media allows you to get more opinions and options. Your friend down the street only knows maybe a few places, versus asking your friends on your social media platforms through a simple tweet or status can give you back even more places to choose from. Having this ability to ask so many people so easily gives you a better chance to find what you are looking for. Why would you trust these people? Because the idea of your friends on these sites is that you have built a connection and a relationship with them that provides you with a reason to trust their recommendation.

Word of mouth marketing is what I believe, as well to be one of the most valuable marketing tools available and luckily cheapest as well. The key then is to find the right people to pass the word on to…but I will leave that up to you to discover.

Repeating Styles

Many of the clothes that my mom wore when she grew up seem to be back in style. I see them in the stores today. Even styles from my generation are beginning to repeat themselves. Leggings? I remember wearing those back in elementary school and now they are back!

How do companies view this? Does this mean that if the styles can come back in, the advertising for them can too? I don’t think so. The advertisements have to be fitting for the current culture. Even though the style is the same, that doesn’t mean that the culture is the same. With this, I want to point out that advertising has to be up to date with the current culture including everything from advertising tools to style and slang.

Are Email Forwards Passé?

Everybody in my family knows that I have a blog so I sometimes get suggestions about what to write about (which I love!). This time, it was my brother. We were talking about a recent email forward we got about good luck or something and how we thought it was pointless. He suggested that I write a post about email forwards. This got me thinking even more about email and how the whole dynamic has changed. Who uses it, how it is used and if it will still be relevant in ten years?
Plain and simple, it is another communication tool. But like everything else in this world, there is etiquette and and rules to go along with it.

Since the origins of Email in the early 1970s, things have changed. Email used to be used as a faster form of formal letter writing. Instead of snail mail taking a week to get to someone, email only took a few seconds. The formality of email has since decreased. One contributor has definitely been email forwards. No need to address anyone personally anymore. Mass emailing became OK. They got the point across. Formal emails have since basically only been used during networking and by those who have been using email from the beginning.

Allow me to return to email forwards, please. I still get the same email forwards every now and then from friends and family, but honestly, I am not a large fan. Forward introduced the idea of mass emails which has since been largely used as a marketing tool. Although we don’t forward them, we each get them. Mass emails are certainly efficient, but are they effective? What do you think?
I personally am more likely to respond to an email that says “Dear Annie” than one that says “Dear Valued Customer”. But even with that, they are more educational than interactive. Unlike email forwards which elicit an action, mass emails from companies tend to be educational.

Although email forwards have become somewhat passé in my opinion, they have developed into something more, a marketing tool.

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