Tag Archives: compelling

Holiday card selection underscores the importance of segmentation

Being a strategist, writing holiday cards is always a bit more complex for me than the average person.  I am driven to sort, segment and select:

  • Finding a card with a nativity scene for your most religious Christian friends
  • Sending an image of Jolly Ole St. Nick for kids and people who celebrate Christmas in a more secular fashion
  • Ensuring Jewish friends get a blue menorah and Hanukkah greetings (usually sent early, so as not to miss the holiday altogether)
  • Thinking I might need a Kwanzaa card, or at least one with a non-Judeo-Christian message
  • Offering Peace on Earth to those who categorize themselves as spiritual more than religious
  • Avoiding wishes for a Happy Healthy New Year to those with long-term health issues
  • Compromising with snowmen, snowflakes and other winter scenes for everyone else

This year’s round of holiday greeting segmentation got me thinking.  Do most marketers make this much effort to recognize different audiences and message to their needs?  Or do they send the marketing equivalent of a card that simply reads Happy Holidays – non-offensive, but also absent any insight or deep relevance to the recipient?

May I suggest a New Year’s Resolution for most marketers out there?    Take another look at your target audience and ask:  Who are they?  What drives them?  And how does my product/service align with what’s important to them?

It just might lead to a more segmented, personalized marketing plan; one that engages and motivates your target in new and powerful ways.

— Pam Alvord, EVP, Chief Brand Strategist

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It’s Déjà vu all over again

As long as I have been in this business, I’ve heard the saying, “There are no new ideas, only old ones recycled.” I think we’re seeing that played out again with regard to test marketing. A staple of the direct marketing industry, it had fallen out of use by other marketing disciplines in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

When I started in the agency business, testing was a priority for a number of accounts that the agency handled.

I’ll throw out a few terms: “Little U.S.” and “As-It-Falls” (which one coworker thought referred to an actual market in the Midwest called “Acid Falls”). These referred to the methodologies we media folk used so that results from any test could be projected to a larger area, most often the entire U.S.

Test markets were selected based on their ability to replicate what the U.S. as a whole looked like. Additionally, they needed to be smaller in geographic scope so as to limit out-of-pocket cost. A few of the more popular test markets were Fort Wayne, Green Bay, and Tucson.

As the business moved into the ‘80s, testing seemed like an afterthought. One of the reasons may have been that the cost of production started to increase dramatically, and running expensive spots in small, inexpensive test markets may have thrown the media cost/production cost ratio out of whack. In any event, I can’t remember a single brand that I worked on during that time that did any testing.  And I find that interesting, given the primary reason for any test is to limit financial exposure.

Fast forward to the turn of the century and the spread of the Internet, and what’s back in style is the concept of testing, analyzing, and optimizing. An idea whose roots are firmly entrenched in the earlier days of advertising is making its way back in a big way. And that’s a good thing.

Testing should be an integral part of any plan. The more we learn, the better we are, and the better our clients are as a result.

The advent of the Internet has only strengthened the case for testing. As I said at the beginning, “There are no new ideas, only old ones recycled.” But a good idea always has a place.

— Dave Capano, EVP, Director of Media Services

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Office Pools – the epitome of compelling, measurable engagement

It’s been said that U.S. employers lose an estimated $1.8 billion in productivity during March Madness.  What is it about office pools that not only drives employees to spend so much time planning, watching, and discussing, but also drives employers to look the other way?

Whether it’s “March Madness,” college football bowl pools, or even the weekly football pick ’em, office pools are a compelling form of entertainment that provides an office common ground in a friendly, competitive environment.

The days of copying a sheet of paper and turning it in to the office pool manager have succumbed to the digital age.  One only has to type ”office pool” into Google to see page upon page of office pool variations with free and pay-to-play websites and software.  Many of these websites and software provide tips and post-pick analytics in real time, so that everyone can see the results and how they rank against the competition.

It’s a time when the office sports geeks and sports agnostics are on the same wavelength, as employees become more engaged with one another.  Water-cooler talk turns from gossip to last night’s upset and today’s Cinderella.

Maybe employers look the other way because it’s an easy way to improve employee morale, or maybe it’s just because they’re in on the action, too.  Regardless, it’s easy to see why something as compelling, measurable, and engaging as office pools continue in the work environment.

With that, feel free to join us in some compelling, measurable engagement by participating in the 2010 Kilgannon College Bowl Pool.  It’s free to play, and you could win a gift card.

— Gary Sayers, VP, Account Director

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Compelling Business Tactic or Religious Fanatic?

As a native Atlantan, I had the fortunate experience of learning how to drive in our fair city. Anyone who prepares to battle the weekday rush hour, Atlanta Police Department, or Sunday traffic could understand how getting behind the wheel, at any age, can be considered a triumphant occasion. But this past Sunday afternoon, as I was stuck in a line of an automotive exodus leaving church in the heart of Buckhead, I encountered a particularly amusing observation, which for the moment relieved me of my temporary road rage. I witnessed a pedestrian cursing the fact that Chick-fil-A was closed on Sunday.  I found this consumer’s epic FAIL quite humorous.

But I could relate. All too often I have woken up on a Sunday morning with a craving for Chick-fil-A; a craving that seems to be so much stronger on Sunday than any other day of the week. And I know I’m not the only one. In fact, when asked about craving Chick-fil-A on a Sunday, I received the following responses:


“Their morning biscuits would be wonderful on the drive to Sunday school!”

“It’s like every Sunday is when I want it and then I suddenly sadly remember it’s Sunday….my poor tummy.”

We believe that great communication is the only way to engage our audience with our brand. We assume, incorrectly, that the only means to have a brand name “top-of-mind” is with the aided awareness of great marketing. Not in the case of Chick-fil-A. It could be argued that closing on one of the busiest days of the week would be a devastating blow to their business, but a February 2010 report indicates that “Chick-fil-A generated more than $3.2 billion dollars in sales in 2009, and the chain has enjoyed sales gains for 42 consecutive years.” It seems that Truett Cathy, creator of Chick-fil-A Restaurants, was making more than a religious decision.

But one could argue that Truett was a marketing genius. By craving Chick-fil-A more when it is closed, a consumer is already engaged with the brand – and Chick-fil-A isn’t spending a dime to have the brand be top-of-mind. It is the classic “want what you can’t have.” But loyal customers are engaged with the brand, even when it’s unavailable. And isn’t that, ultimately, the goal to obtain brand-loyal customers?

Think about it next time you are craving Waffle Fries on Sunday. In the meantime, what do you do to engage your audience, outside of traditional or digital communication?

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive

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Compelling is a matter of respect. Advertisers should show some of it.

Ever gone out to dinner with someone who constantly cuts you off to talk about themselves? Ever work next to someone who bores you with what they did over the weekend while you’re trying to work? Or maybe you have a mother-in-law who continuously explains to you how things are supposed to be done while you’re trying to finish your chores. You probably get the feeling these people don’t really care what you think. And you’d most likely be right.

So why do advertisers interrupt and bore their audience with monotonous, dumbed-down messages? Some advertisers think the public is an idiot and they’re hopeless. Some are simply testing only for brand recall and a few copy points and feel this works for them. And most likely they don’t see it as their responsibility to entertain you.

I’d like to propose that it is an advertiser’s responsibility to provide a well-crafted, compelling message that not only informs but also entertains. There is enough visual and aural pollution in the world already. Walk down a commercial street and you’re most likely looking at ugly signs, litter, billboards and transit advertising, and listening to noisy cars, buses, and music coming from storefronts. The world is a very tough place to win attention. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=56750

Back in 1970, in a famous book, sociologist Alvin Toffler warned of information overload (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_shock). Today, there is a lot more media in our lives, and the pace of change is rapid. Messages need to do more than break through clutter; they must stand out in a torrent of media, much of which is actually designed to be engaging.

So how can a brand compete? Two ways. With big, targeted, and expensive media buys. Or with smart, engaging content that people actually want to see. It’s obvious that there is a responsible choice here.

— Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Copywriter

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Notes from school: Your ad here.

I’m not sure whether this classifies as breakthrough media or just a bad idea, but a school district in Salem, MA will soon be putting ads on the back of written communications sent home from schools. Notices, reminders, and permission slips will feature business card-size ads – ten per sheet. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given the state of the economy. And for education systems that are already underfunded, some are taking matters into their own hands.

I wish I could say they are the first public service that has done this, but others have been implementing similar tactics for some time. Take the Georgia Department of Transportation, for instance. Its Highway Emergency Response Operator (H.E.R.O.) trucks, uniforms, and signs have been sporting State Farm logos for over a year now. The sponsorship brings $1.7 million per year for the next three years to the D.O.T. To citizens, this smacks of a government sellout. To the government agency fighting budget deficits, it’s another revenue stream. To the advertiser, it’s a savvy business decision (and a pretty smart one, I might add).

As a parent, I was a bit miffed at the notion of using children as advertising mules and turning personal moments of communication into opportunities to sell tires or spa treatments. Somehow when the D.O.T. aligns with an insurance company, it makes perfect sense, but when we’re talking about our schools, it just seems wrong. I know, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to debate such things. Public institutions would stay independent of businesses. But I also know that times have changed, and money is tight.

Setting my personal feelings aside, I also have to wonder if this is even a good idea for the advertisers in this scenario. For $300, you can have the opportunity to promote your company among nine other companies, thereby transforming your child’s permission slip into one of those ad shoppers you get in the mail every week. I don’t know about anybody else, but I throw those things away most of the time without looking at them.

Will the ad even be seen amongst the clutter contained on a letter-size sheet of paper? Will the ad be a boon to your business, or will it have a negative impact on people’s perceptions of it? One may never know until the damage is done.

Maybe if the ads and advertisers have some tie to education, and there were some incentives, like discounts on school-related stuff, it would make the whole situation palatable as well as useful to its recipients. At least it would make more sense to me.

Whether these efforts are an effective and compelling way of engaging a consumer or a complete disaster is yet to be seen. Only time will tell. In the meantime, school administrators are still developing guidelines for this program. They are planning to test it in the elementary schools first and then eventually roll it out system wide, if all goes well.

What do you think? Would you give the program an A for effort or an F for going too far?

— Kurt Miller, Associate Creative Director


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How engagement can fall short

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone; the world is changing. People are receiving up-to-the-minute information as news is happening, rather than wait for the 6 o’clock news. News stations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) report updates on their websites, and Facebook and Twitter posts have become the definition of “current” events. As technology continues to develop, advertising, too, must learn to reach audiences in new, compelling, and engaging ways.

The digital age is upon us, and with it comes more ways to reach audiences than ever before.  Today, audiences are targeted through social media sites, online banners, search engine optimization, and limited online TV commercials. Even though advertisers have many more venues to reach new customers than ever before, it’s a stretch for some of these media to have a discernable impact. But I came across one such campaign that was so compelling, I had to share it with everyone I could.

This campaign was intriguing, interactive, and engaging enough that I wanted to continue “playing” with it long after my first video finished. But after five minutes, could you tell me what the brand was? You may recognize the product and what it can do, but do you know the brand? (The answer is Tipp-Ex, a brand of correction fluid, owned by BIC, better known in Europe). While the concept of this campaign is incredibly strong, the execution fell just a bit short of turning an engaged audience into a new supply of consumers. And, after all, isn’t the end goal of advertising to sell products?

Here are three steps that Tipp-Ex missed that could have turned the compelling, engaging campaign into one with positive, measurable results:

  1. Continue using the product. Clearly, there are many videos that Tipp-Ex produced for this campaign. Allowing me to “use” the product in order to create a new blank would have had me interacting with the product directly. Repetition would have made me recall the brand next time I’m ordering supplies.
  2. A link to the website. There are more than 6.8 million views (at the time of this posting) to this video, but not a single clickable link to their site. Can you imagine what 6.8 million views would have looked like had they been allowed to visit a microsite or landing page? Then, Tipp-Ex would have had a targeted, active audience on THEIR site, and not just some YouTube link.
  3. A call to action. While I enjoyed interacting with the videos of this campaign, once I was done, I was done. The campaign did not provide an opportunity for me to further my involvement with the brand by offering a call to action. A simple coupon (on this yet-to-be-executed website) that could be printed and taken into any office supply retailer to be redeemed will have me asking for this brand by name next time I’m in need of correction tape.

With these three additional executions to the concept, uninterested Web surfers could have become interactive and engaged audiences and converted into measurable consumers, and perhaps loyal brand stewards.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive


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