By now, most everyone is aware of United Airlines mistreatment of Dr. David Dao, who was bloodied and dragged off of a flight by O’Hare International Airport security for refusing to heed airline employee orders to give up his seat. Having taken last week off, your Friday Forecasters are admittedly late to the arrival gate on this topic, which has been steady fodder for pundits, late night comics, and outraged social media warriors. While the incident was indeed shocking, and will no doubt be the subject of armchair quarterbacking in marketing and public relations classes for many years to come, we believe the depth of animus it has ignited is rooted in a deeper truth. United’s actions and the buffoonish response of its CEO Oscar Munoz, have exposed a raw nerve the public has suspected for some time: that airlines such as United really don’t give a sh*t about us.
For many years, direct response advertising has offered consumers two primary ways of reaching out to marketers: the telephone and the web. Now a third, exciting avenue has emerged: text. Why do we think this is such a compelling opportunity?
The world of marketing and advertising is vast, but our slice of that universe is actually quite finite. It is the world of direct marketing whose roots lie in direct response television, but which is now engulfed in an Omnichannel reality that includes, but is not limited to: broadcast, digital, mobile, social, print, and brick and mortar retail. Many of us have grown up together – some might say grown old together – and travelled the world, in what has been and remains a truly tribal experience. Conventional wisdom asserts that the average professional will have seven different careers across the span of their working life; yet, in the case of our clan, while individuals may reinvent themselves, they rarely leave the fold. Why?
Photo Credit: IHA
As we roamed the cavernous halls of this year’s International Home + Housewares Show which wrapped up this week at Chicago’s McCormick Place, and stood among the colorful and distinct booth and displays, we wondered: what makes a great tagline? A tagline, after all, can help advance positioning and create competitive differentiation. At its best use, it is highly memorable and helps reaffirm positive feelings for a brand, product, or service. In fact, this year’s theme for the show – which acted as a kind of tagline was – “It’s smart.” This was in keeping with the emphasis on innovations for the smart home, which uses technology such as smartphone apps and voice commands to run everything from lights and locks to indoor and outdoor appliances for the sake of convenience and efficiency.
Television campaigns have long featured recurring characters, conventions and taglines. The reason is simple: in a world of infinite media clutter these devices help commercials rise to the top of the heap, arrest attention, and, when executed with the greatest deftness, entertain – all while advancing a brand and its message. From the ubiquity of Progressive Insurance’s Flo to the Chick-fil-A cows to the Energizer Bunny, today’s TV advertising landscape is riddled with examples of such repetition. How successful such customs are may very well be eye-of-the-beholder stuff, but in water cooler conversations that occur both literally and virtually, it is apparent that some are beloved, while others are loathed. This observation has led your Friday Forecast bloggers to ask: Why is this so? What makes some campaigns work and others send you scrambling for the mute button… if not the bathroom? Let’s take a closer look at two campaigns, one that we believe achieves this with the greatest poise and another; well, not so much.
In just six weeks, fitness direct marketer OYO Fitness – short for On Your Own Fitness – raised over $659,000 on Kickstarter, making it the second most successful fitness product in the history of the crowdfunding site. The success is a testimony to the product’s innovation and certainly the campaign itself, but it also speaks to the evolution of Kickstarter in general. Back in 2011, co-author Rick Petry (who, in the spirit of full disclosure also consults for the company) wrote a column in Electronic Retailer magazine entitled, “The New Mothers of Invention.” As he observed way back then, the site was used more commonly to fund endeavors “on the margins of commerciality – say a band’s new album or an unfinished documentary film...” In fact, at that time, Kickstarter specifically spelled out on its site that it was not intended for “As Seen On TV Products” owing, presumably, to their unabashed commerciality. How times have changed. Today Kickstarter has morphed into a marketplace and the ultimate consumer testing ground where the public gets to vote with their wallet as to whether or not they want to back and provide part of the economic engine that helps bring cool and innovative new products and product concepts to market.
According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the seminal marketing treatise, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, there is one weapon of influence that works in every culture and in every corner of the globe. What is it you may wonder? Reciprocity.
Like the proverbial cobbler’s children with no shoes, too many businesses in the direct marketing business have no business doing their own marketing. It’s a strange paradox: companies that do a brilliant job of elevating the campaigns of others, often fail to buoy their own prospects. They are guilty of the 7 Deadly Sins of B2B Marketing, which undermine their ambitions at every turn. To understand how these worst practices can work against a company, let’s be clear about what the purpose of B2B marketing is: to initiate a conversation. Assuming we have agreement on that matter then, let’s examine this blight in more detail and what one can do to remedy it.
“Fake news” is a term batted around on a daily basis in and on what is – purportedly – “the news.” According to a report released last year by the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of American adults access news on social media, and an astounding 66 percent of Facebook users turn to the popular platform for their news. Yet who among us hasn’t fallen for the fake obituary post or wondered whether that privacy warning to Facebook cut and pasted by one of their friends is an act worth repeating or evidence of that friend’s gullibility?
This week our Friday Forecast appears on Tuesday so that we can dive into the water cooler talk du jour: the annual battle for supremacy known as the Super Bowl and its attendant commercial advertising.
Politics took center stage this year, yet amid our national disunity, the focus was on themes of inclusion, diversity, and commonality. These motifs were delivered with a range of approaches that varied from broad humor to thought provoking poignancy. From immigration to pot legalization, gender politics to religious differences, the full gamut of our political zeitgeist was on display. And yet for all of it, nothing was overtly controversial, mirroring halftime entertainer Lady Gaga’s decision to play it down the middle. While some might consider the approach largely bland or uninspired, we would argue that it was just the kind of feel good balm this country needed as it took a break from ceaseless infighting to gather together and applaud what has become the quintessential American unofficial holiday and celebration (smarting Falcon fans aside).
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The so-called anchor store, which has been a mainstay of shopping malls across America since the centers first made their appearance in the mid-1950s, is in serious jeopardy. Although brick and mortar retails sales still eclipse ecommerce by a wide margin, the lion’s share of growth in retail sales is occurring online:
- According to eMarketer, domestic sales for 2016 are forecasted at nearly $5 trillion. However, retail ecommerce accounted for just 8.7% of total retail spending.
- However, while year-to-year retail growth was pegged at 3.3%, year-to-year ecommerce growth was 14% according to a forecast from Kiplinger.
While ecommerce continues its inexorable march to a bigger bite of the overall retail pie, department stores have been taking it on the chin. While Macy’s is currently the fifth largest ecommerce retailer with $4.8 billion in online sales, the department store chain recently announced the closure of 68 stores by mid-year with plans to close 30 more over the next few years. Those closures represent a loss of approximately 10,000 jobs.
Welcome to the First - Friday Forecast
Direct marketing veterans Colleen Ferrier and Rick Petry have teamed up and will be providing a weekly insight each Friday here on the ERA blog. Together, we’ll examine a current trend and discuss its potential implications for society and the marketing community. We know you are busy, so we will offer succinct, topical insights that can be read in four minutes or less.
First up: ARE ‘ALTERNATIVE FACTS’ AN EXTREME FORM OF SALES PUFFERY?