Perhaps the newspaper business can reposition itself as a coupon distributor and news provider. I know that various publications are doing providing these services, but they aren’t marketing themselves this way.

I recall in the hay-day of the paper business, the Sunday paper was stuffed with coupons, both local and national. Perhaps it’s time for a comeback. Read this:

Consumers Using More Coupons

Seven in ten consumers (72%) use more coupons now than six months ago, some three-quarters of them (equating to about half of all consumers) ascribe the increased use to the troubled economy, according to a recent study by Prospectiv, writes Brandweek (via Retailer Daily).

About 8 in 10 (81%) of the 1,386 consumers surveyed say they use coupons for grocery items. About half (51%) of those polled said their main coupon sources were newspapers and magazines.

The preferred method for receiving coupons in the future are as follows:

  • 39% say direct mail.
  • 26% say email (direct or via newsletters).
  • 16% say websites.
  • 14% say newspapers.

Among other findings:

  • 80% of consumers say they would likely increase coupon use if coupons were tailored to their interests and delivered online.
  • 87% say they are more likely to shop at a retailer that offers coupons.
  • 47% say print and online coupons are equally convenient.
  • 9% say online coupons are the most convenient.

SalesDog Sunday Tip 10

We have come to the end of our series from

Communicating a Price Increase
Mark Hunter on Price Objections

No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. So how do you tell your customers that prices are going up?

Even the most sales savvy among us have had to fight back the nerves that arise when we’re about to tell a customer about a price increase. It never makes for an easy conversation. When relaying a price increase in a business-to-business environment, remember that your customers have probably had the same discussion with their own customers. A company exists only as long as it earns a profit and it can only do that if it delivers a quality product or service at the right price. The key to any conversation about raising prices is emphasizing that the increase will ensure product quality.

To prepare your strategy for announcing a price increase, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does the customer take your product/service and add a standard percentage increase in price when selling to their customers? Continue

Planning for 2009

Here’s one man’s opinion on how you should plan your marketing for next year.

That one man is Drew McLellan.

The Marketing Minute

Where should you spend your marketing budget in ’09?

Posted: 30 Aug 2008 06:30 AM CDT

19143945 I will write more about this in the weeks ahead, but for now, I want you to think about this blend of truths:

  • It sure feels like we’re in a recession, even if we aren’t calling it that
  • Retaining the customers you already have becomes a key strategy in these economic times
  • Branding becomes even more critical as companies fight to retain the business they have
  • Odds are, you are not the employee who delivers (or not) on that brand promise
  • Word of Mouth/Buzz plays a larger role in consumer choice both as money gets tight and as consumers get weary of traditional push media

So add all of those up….and answer the question — where should you concentrate a good chunk of your marketing budget for ’09?

Stumped? Come on over to Efrain Mendicuti’s blog The Daily Stuff and the Not So and check out my guest post on where I think you should be allocating marketing dollars next year.

Olive Garden & The Playmate

Not all endorsements are welcome according to this recent story from

When You’re Here, You’re Family —
But What About a Playboy Model?

Olive Garden Has Mixed Feelings
About Its Biggest Celebrity Fan

Kendra Wilkinson, a Playboy cover model, television star and one of Hugh Hefner’s three live-in girlfriends, professes deep love for the Olive Garden Italian restaurant chain.

The feeling isn’t mutual.

[Kendra Wilkinson]

To the consternation of Olive Garden’s marketers, who have spent millions crafting the franchise’s family-friendly image, the 23-year-old adult-entertainment star and aspiring real-estate mogul repeatedly uses her spotlight to rave about its midprice eateries. Ms. Wilkinson hoists Olive Garden doggie bags in the air and extols its chicken parmigiana. She once scandalized European diners by declaring the Olive Garden preferable to any restaurants in Italy.

Ms. Wilkinson, whose tan skin and blonde-white hair project classic California, isn’t on the payroll. She is a rogue brand ambassador: a celebrity who is genuinely, publicly devoted to a product or service, even if he or she doesn’t quite embody the values that the brand’s managers may be trying to convey.

Executives at Olive Garden declined to discuss the uninvited spokesmodel. One official says the company has tried to walk a fine line with its response, maintaining the chain’s wholesome image without alienating potential customers. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this…because it is a complicated issue for the brand,” says Michele Kay, executive vice president of WPP Group’s Grey advertising firm, which handles the Olive Garden account.

Ms. Wilkinson says that when she started praising the restaurant on television and on her very popular MySpace page, it never crossed her mind what the folks at Olive Garden might think. “I don’t speak about it to get paid for it,” she says. “I speak about it because I love it. I understand they’re a family restaurant, but I think it can’t hurt them to have a little spice.”

Backfired Endorsements

As media outlets fragment and the advertising landscape grows cluttered, companies are increasingly realizing the value of a popular star’s sincere — and unpaid — endorsement of a product. In 2003, Thai Union Frozen PCL’s Chicken of the Sea capitalized on a big pop-culture moment by inviting singer Jessica Simpson to visit their offices. Ms. Simpson had just made headlines for wondering aloud, on national television, whether the canned product contained chicken or tuna.

But unsolicited endorsements can backfire, particularly when the star is controversial. In 2006, the hip-hop community was publicly embracing an array of luxury brands, rapping about Courvoisier cognac, wearing Tommy Hilfiger clothing and driving Cadillac Escalades. In the summer of 2006, the Economist quoted an executive at Champagne Louis Roederer’s Cristal saying, “We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

The rapper Jay-Z called the comment racist and instigated an embarrassing boycott. Since then, other companies beset with unplanned, and perhaps undesirable, endorsements have reacted with a careful mix of distance and passivity.

“The question is: ‘Do you have to love someone who loves you?'” says Dave Balter, founder and chief executive of BzzAgent, a Boston-based word-of-mouth media company. The answer is a squishy yes and no. “The worst thing to do is turn off someone who is that passionate about you,” says Mr. Balter. “A brand doesn’t have to actively embrace someone like Kendra, but they should certainly be willing to accept the fact that she’s willing to tell the world how much she loves them.”

Starbucks Corp. has a policy of remaining mum when celebrities turn up with its familiar coffee cups on the pages of tabloid magazines. The company is just as quiet when popular actress Reese Witherspoon or troubled pop star Britney Spears is photographed with its product.

Politicians eager to protect their candidacies have faced a similar dilemma. In the 2008 election cycle, unsought endorsers have swarmed the presidential candidates. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton earned the support of O.J. Simpson. Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama had to disavow a song released by the rapper Ludacris in late July that praised the candidate and bashed Sen. Clinton. On July 29, pop icon Phil Spector, about to face retrial for charges related to the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, wore a “Barack Obama Rocks” pin to a court hearing in Los Angeles.

Yet Sen. Obama has also benefited incalculably from an array of celebrity endorsements, including those of Oprah Winfrey, Scarlett Johansson and Black Eyed Peas’ frontman

“This is the double-edged sword of brand advocacy,” says Pete Blackshaw, executive vice president of Nielsen Online Strategic Services and author of a book about brand ambassadors. “Generally speaking, brands benefit from unprompted advocacy, but every once in awhile, there will be surprises. It’s very difficult to manage.”

Earlier this year, buoyed by her starring role on “The Girls Next Door,” a highly rated reality show that follows the lives of Mr. Hefner’s girlfriends, Ms. Wilkinson launched a modeling competition for attractive Olive Garden waitresses. The prize: a nude Playboy pictorial. Ms. Wilkinson took the contestants’ photographs herself.

“Our position is that our team members as private citizens have freedom to participate,” says Olive Garden spokesman Mara Frazier. “While we’re not endorsing the initiative, we’re not making choices for our employees.” Olive Garden is a unit of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc., which also owns the Red Lobster seafood chain.

Playboy has made similar mischief before, running contests for such groups as employees of Wal-Mart and McDonald’s and students from Ivy League schools. But Ms. Wilkinson’s affection for Olive Garden comes from a deeper place.

‘My Soul Food’

The San Diego native says she made frequent trips to the restaurant during her childhood, developing a taste for the artichoke dip and the all-you-can-eat salad and breadsticks. She calls it “my soul food.”

“I love the Olive Garden so much because I grew up going there,” she says. “That used to be the place we would go for Mother’s Day, for birthdays. My grandpa just died, and right after his funeral, we went to the Olive Garden.”

During a recent tour of Italy, Ms. Wilkinson, followed by “The Girls Next Door” cameras, was asked how that country’s finest cuisine compares with her favorite restaurant’s.

“It doesn’t,” she declared, flustering some of her dining companions. Ms. Wilkinson now says she meant to say that the food is on par — but what’s missing is the sentimental attachment she has to the Olive Garden.


I’ve heard salespeople shoot themselves in the foot by uttering the wrong combination of words.

Check this out from the Selling to Big Companies Blog:

In Sales, Words Really Matter

Picky, picky, picky. I’ve been accused about being a bit obsessive about what sellers say. But from my perspective, it makes all the difference in the world.

Sellers get deleted everyday when the leave messages that include phrases such as: “We offer a full range of services” or “Our company specializes in…”

And the worst thing is, they don’t even know it. They just blindly keep calling and calling, leaving the same sales-derailing words that literally keep them from attaining “knock your socks off” success.

Historysign_2 If you’d like to see how changing just a few words can radically impact results, check out Historia de un Letrero (The Story of the Sign).

This exceptional 4-minute film by Alonso Alvarez Bareda is the winner of the Cannes 2008 – Short Film Online Competition. With the stroke of a pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man.

Make sure you watch it till the end to discover just how much words matter!

Many thanks to Matt Donnelly of the Business Appraisal Institute for sharing this film with me.

Political Marketing

Some thoughts from Laura Ries:

Now the Race is On


This Presidential race has stacked up to be a true test of branding might.

McCain/Maverick vs. Obama/Change.

Both parties have found their footing and have refocused their campaigns and their message. It will be a true test of two brands that are now totally focused.

What each has to do now is dig in deep on their position, their word and their message.

The Democrats put on an excellent convention that stayed on-message and on-course. As the party out of power in DC, they have a tremendous advantage in being able to claim change as their theme. The power of one word, one sign, one message was evident at the convention this week. The Clinton’s were not easily beat, but with one word (Change) a relatively unknown guy took them down.

What the Republicans need to do most at their convention next week is to showcase one word, one sign, one look. It is not about being better than the Democrats (nobody could put on a better show than Obama did Thursday night) it is about being different in a clear and focused way.

The difficulity in politics is that you need 51% of the vote to win, trying to appeal too broadly is a temptation. But in the end, the winner is the candidate that can attach himself or herself to a powerful idea in the mind.

My biggest concern for McCain is this: What will the signs say and will they all be the same. If McCain nails that, then this could be a race to remember and he might even win.

On Line Magazine

Have you ever seen an on-line only magazine?

Greetings to all NSAEN Readers!
It is that time of the month again and we hope you will enjoy reading our new on-line issue
We would love to get your feedback!
Have a great holiday weekend.

Sassy B Worldwide Productions, Inc.
Beatrice H. Davis
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