Tuesday Night Marketing News


Financial Services
by Aaron Baar
“This is the financial version of the Tylenol poisonings,” says BrandKeys’ Robert Passikoff. “The trust is going to come from the ways companies like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are behaving, putting customers ahead of absolute profitability.” … Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Edmunds’ Jesse Toprak says consumers are also holding off. “The indirect impact is psychological, where consumers–even those with the ability to purchase–are postponing because the market is so mixed up. They don’t want to spend what they don’t have. Now we will see the ownership cycle getting longer.” … Read the whole story > >
by Laurie Sullivan
Cisco’s Ken Wirt calls the Digital Cribs marketing promotion “aspirational”–an outreach to show how people who are passionate about technology use networking and electronic devices in their homes. “If this is what we’re promoting, we have to walk the talk,” he says. … Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
The retailer says it intends to focus on enhancing customers’ shopping experience, improve its in-stock position on key items and advertised products, upgrade its signage and visual merchandising, and finalize the rollout of its “Simple to Shop” program in home entertainment. … Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
“For Walmart’s identity, these bags make perfect sense–they are a great value, and they fit right in with the store’s image of not wasting money,” says Erin Read Ruddick, client services director for Creating Results. “Not wasting things is just good Yankee thrift, and it goes to the core of the chain’s identity.” … Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
“We started with Disney a few years ago when we became a partner of Disney Land,” says Honda’s Tom Peyton. “That gave us inroads to talk on other projects.” He said that, while other Honda vehicles get spotlighted in “HS3,” “it is primarily about Odyssey. We’re trying to reach families; these are the right households for us to talk to.” … Read the whole story > >

Microsoft ups the ante

From Fortune Mag:

Microsoft sweetens pay-to-search deal

By Yi-Wyn Yen

It’s been four months since Microsoft introduced its cashback rebate scheme that pays people to use its Internet search service. But Microsoft continues to fall behind Google in search.

On Wednesday, Microsoft (MSFT) plans to unveil a new rewards program to get more consumers searching on the company’s Live Search engine. While a company spokesperson would not discuss details of the latest rewards gimmick, a Microsoft executive says the promotion is designed to generate user loyalty and more searches on Live.

The program gives consumers a discount every time they use Live Search to find and buy a product like a digital camera. The company is banking that as more people spend time on Live, the more advertisers will promote their products, and Microsoft will grab a bigger piece of the paid search market.

So far, cashback does not appear to be helping the company’s search efforts. For the seventh straight month, Google (GOOG) widened the gap with Live Search. The search king extended its lead to 63% in August while Microsoft dropped to 8.3%, according to comScore’s latest monthly report for U.S. traffic. For the first two months of the third quarter, Live Search has lost 14.4% of its traffic from year-ago levels.

A Microsoft executive says comScore’s figures do not accurately reflect how well the cashback program is doing. “Those numbers don’t seem right to me. We just had our highest month ever [for unique visitors in August],” says Brad Goldberg, Microsoft’s general manager for search. “There is always going to be volatility with monthly metrics. Cashback is a long-term bet.”

ComScore’s numbers represent total market share. While Microsoft is steadily losing search traffic share, Live Search continues to gain more users as more people search. Goldberg says the company is pleased with cashback’s progress though he would not reveal the number of transactions made or how many people that have enrolled in the program.

The cashback promotion is part of Microsoft’s broader goal to combat Google’s ever-growing share of the online ad market. The program marks Microsoft’s first major initiative to grow search traffic since the company ended talks with Yahoo (YHOO), the No. 2 search engine that owns roughly a fifth of the U.S. search market.

Goldberg hints that the company plans to offer consumers even more savings leading up to the holiday season. “We look at traffic, different tactics, and ways of execution… and we’ve learned that the higher the rebate [we offer], the better,” Goldberg says. “I’m not joking. EBay’s a good example. They have a relatively high rebate level in the 20%-30% range and they had a big increase in traffic as a result.”

Analysts say that Microsoft needs more advertisers to join the cashback program to attract more consumers searching on Live. Cashback has enrolled than 700 merchants, including eBay (EBAY), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and Overstock.com (OSTK).

“Our assessment is that MSFT is gaining supply side traction with advertisers and if that remains sustainable, they should eventually gain traction with end users (traffic) as well,” writes Sandeep Aggarwal, a senior Internet analyst with Collins Stewart, in an e-mail to Fortune.

Microsoft, with its deep pockets, may be committed to cashback for the long haul, but industry observers say the company needs to produce results soon.

Search marketers put a January expiration date on Live’s cashback program. “The whole value of cashback is tied to the retail season,” says John Tawadros, the chief operating officer of search marketing firm iProspect. “I would think advertisers are thinking about it now and looking at adopting cashback to differentiate themselves with the competition. After the holiday season would be a perfect time to assess if this has taken off or not.”

Give it Away

About 9 months ago, we did a “meat” remote broadcast at Kroger with one of my radio stations, WXKE.

It worked, Saturday around lunch time, shoppers followed their noses to where we were cooking steaks and handing out samples and coupons. Is there a way to give samples away in your business (count it as part of your marketing), that will translate into sales?

Read more from Brandweek:

Study: Sampling Works

Sept 29, 2008

-By Kenneth Hein

Want to get someone to buy your product? Then give them one for free. While this might sound counter-intuitive, a new survey from Arbitron found sampling works.

More than one-third (35%) of customers who tried a sample bought the product during the same shopping trip, per the poll of 1,857 respondents conducted earlier this year via the phone. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed reported they would buy a product again after trying it.

Sampling, which reaches 70 million consumers every quarter, “is both effective in making new customers aware of products, while also establishing a firmer identity with those consumers who have considered the product before,” said Carol Edwards, svp of sales at Arbitron’s out-of-home media department, in a statement.

The survey divvied up consumers into three segments: acquisitions (those new to the product), conversions (those willing to buy it after sampling it) and retentions (those who had previously purchased the product).

Eighty-five percent of retentions who sampled a product said they would purchase it again compared to 60% of conversions. Almost half (47%) said they would now look to purchase it.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents received a free sample in the past three months. Of that group, 64% said they accepted the sample.

Perhaps the most surprising finding: Nearly a quarter of those polled (24%) said they bought the product they sampled instead of the item they initially set out to purchase.

Why Suze Orman has a Milk Mustache

Despite all the news about Main Street vs. Wall Street and the economic woes created by sub-prime lending, etc… I have some news about how consumers are stretching their paychecks and how food marketers are reaching out to them.

This story originally came from the Wall Street Journal:

Food companies hope to capitalize on the slumping economy by steering consumers to cheaper, high-margin products.

On Monday, Kellogg Co. is beginning a new advertising push for staple cereals such as Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies, while Campbell Soup Co. is about to launch a multimedia campaign to trumpet its condensed soups as a bargain buy. Kraft Foods Inc. has begun advertising its Kool-Aid powdered beverages on national radio for the first time in 11 years.

Campbell and cheese giant Kraft are also teaming up to promote meals of soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches. Kraft’s Web site will add recipes for cheap sandwiches and suggest Campbell soups to pair them with.

On Nov. 2, newspapers nationwide will carry coupon inserts pitching Campbell soups and sandwiches made with Kraft Singles cheese as the “wallet-friendly meal your family will love.”

It is a big shift for food makers. For several years they have tried to increase their profit margins by promoting higher-priced “premium” brands such as Campbell’s Pepperidge Farm cookies and Kraft’s Wheat Thins crackers.

But lower-priced “value” products can also have wide margins because they’re cheaper to make. “Food companies will be careful to shift consumers to products that are still high margin,” says Robert Moskow, an analyst with Credit Suisse. “Powdered Kool-Aid beverages are one of the most profitable food products in history.”

Also Monday, the milk industry will begin running ads touting milk as a bargain. Financial guru Suze Orman will don the familiar milk mustache in a print ad that reads: “Even at today’s prices, a glass of milk only costs about a quarter. …” The ad is a big departure from prior “Got Milk” campaigns that focused on the nutritional value of milk.

The milk industry plans to spend just under $1 million on the Suze Orman ads.

ConAgra Foods Inc. is rolling out a line of single-serve frozen dinners priced at $1.50 each and embarking on a word-of-mouth campaign through PTA meetings and church groups. “So good for so little” goes the slogan planned for part of an ad campaign.

ConAgra’s new Banquet dinners – called Banquet Select Recipes – will be priced 41 cents higher than the company’s existing Banquet line, giving them a higher profit margin, says Joe Bybel, vice president of strategy at ConAgra. “It’s good for ConAgra but also a good value for consumers.”

Companies’ “value” pitch is, in part, a defensive move against private-label food makers that could steal market share with their cheaper goods. But it’s also a response to how consumers have changed their behavior as the U.S. economy has soured. Consumers worried about jobs, 401(k)s, gasoline prices and winter heating bills are eating less often at restaurants and making fewer supermarket trips to stock up on groceries.

Food companies themselves have contributed to the pressure on consumers by raising prices on a host of items – ranging from bread to meat to cereal – in response to rising commodity costs. Prices for food for the home rose 7.5 percent at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate in the first eight months of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some consumers are holding off trading down out of concern that lower-priced products are less nutritious. “I’m noticing the higher prices and I’m feeling it, but I want my kids to eat well, so I’m still buying organic,” says Becky Jeffers, a 36-year-old yoga therapist and single mother of two who was shopping at a Lake Forest, Ill., Jewel-Osco last week.

Food makers have also been substituting cheaper ingredients and shrinking package sizes for products ranging from cereal to ice cream. While some companies expect their cost inflation to moderate as prices of some commodities fall, they don’t expect inflation to drop to its levels in past years.

In any case, the companies won’t be able to raise prices indefinitely, says Frank Luby, a partner at Simon-Kucher & Partners, a marketing and strategy firm specializing in pricing. “I don’t think food companies have reached a breaking point yet, but they ought to be worried that they’re getting close.”

High food prices have driven some consumers to trade down to supermarkets’ private-label products, particularly in milk, cheese and canned tomatoes. The growth of private-label market share accelerated in the 12 weeks ended Sept. 6, with private-label items in 89 of 105 categories posting gains, compared with 80 in the prior 12-week period, according to a Credit Suisse report.

Food companies continue to tout their high-end offerings, and not all plan to push cheaper goods harder. Spokesmen for ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co. and Sara Lee Corp., maker of Jimmy Dean sausage and Ball Park hot dogs, say their brands have always stood for good value.

ConAgra, of Omaha, Neb., hasn’t advertised its 55-year-old Banquet frozen dinners in more than a decade. Until now, the company’s premium line of frozen dinners, Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers, which are double the price of Banquet meals, have gotten more marketing support. But the new Banquet Select Recipes, in varieties including chicken parmesan and home-style pot roast, will be supported by radio spots with country singer Lee Ann Womack.

TV ads show a family eating dinner. When the mom tells the dad that each meal costs $1.50, he looks so shocked that she splashes him with a glass of water.

ConAgra’s word-of-mouth effort will enlist hundreds of mothers to provide money-saving tips and free product samples at PTA meetings and church groups across the country. The moms will be paid in Banquet product coupons, the company said.

Kellogg will begin airing TV ads for its Frosted Mini-Wheats, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes brands, hailing them as affordable breakfast choices. The Battle Creek, Mich., company is also working on search-engine optimization so that when consumers type “cereal” plus “deals” or “value” into an Internet search engine, Kellogg’s Web site will pop up.

In mid-October, Campbell Soup will launch TV, radio, print and Internet ads touting its condensed soups as cheap eats, a departure from last year’s ads, which played up the soups’ quality.

Chief Executive Douglas Conant told investors recently that “we clearly recognize there’s a value proposition there and we’re going to exploit it.”

One print ad shows a lineup of five condensed soups, including chicken noodle and minestrone, calling it the “original dollar menu.” Another ad says, “To save you money, we left one ingredient out (we figured you have plenty of water at home).”

In supermarket aisles, Campbell has begun separating higher-priced, ready-to-serve soups from cheaper condensed soups. “It’s important for consumers to see value in our category,” says Colin Watts, vice president and general manager of Campbell’s U.S. soup business.

Mr. Watts says that after Campbell noticed that consumers were making fewer grocery visits, it began offering 10 cans of condensed soup for $10 at some stores. The company’s Web site offers recipes for meals that use the company’s condensed soups and Swanson broths and cost less than $10 to make.

Kraft’s Web site shows visitors how one bag of groceries filled with Kraft products can be stretched to make five dinners. And a 15-second TV commercial for Kool-Aid shows that four pitchers of Kool-Aid cost the same as a two-liter bottle of soda. At the end, a voice-over says, “Kool-Aid: delivering more smiles per gallon.”

Top 250 Blog Postings on Marketing

Seth Godin recently pointed me to this list:

Top 250 Blog Posts – Advertising, Marketing, Media & PR

This is very much a work-in-progress with lots of tweaking still to do, including additions to the list. But it’s a start and will, hopefully, turn out to be of interest and use to the general reader of advertising, marketing, media & PR (with some of the posts covering niche topics, as well).

(Related post: Top 100 Blogs – Advertising, Marketing, Media & PR)

Marketing / branding – general (50)

Digital Marketing (35)

Social Media (45)

Blogging – general (25)

Blogging – copywriting (20)

PR (20)

Creative / Design (20)

Customers / consumer insight (10)

SEO / Search / PPC (25)

Put an End to Premature Presentations

Art Sobczak with some excellent advice I try and follow:

This Week’s Tip:
How to Listen for, and React to
“Problem Trigger” Words


Quiz time. Here’s a situation. Think of
the very next thing to leave your mouth
in response:

On a call with a prospect, someone who
has contacted you after visiting your
website says, “Our issue is that we need

And then let’s assume she mentions a
problem that your product or service
helps solve.

Ok. Did you respond with something like,
“Oh, well let me tell you how we can
fix that.”?

If you did, BZZZZZ, wrong!

That would be pitching, in a non-sports
sense, as opposed to finding out exactly
WHY she said what she did. And that will
give you the reasons why they will buy
from you. Plus, then they are selling
themselves, which is much better than
you trying to sell them.

Too often sales reps hear what I call
“problem trigger words” and then begin
puking out a presentation.

These words are signs that your prospect/
customer has, or perceives, a problem.
They might not explain it fully without
your prompting.

Listen for,

“We need to …”

“We’re thinking about…”

“We’re considering…”

“We’re noticing…”

“The challenge is…”

“We’re planning on…”

“The problem is…”

These are all invitations for you to zero
in on these areas to root out the specific
reasons they will buy from you.

For example,

“Tell me more about that…”

“Let’s discuss that a little more…”

“What do you think is causing that?”

“What other effects is that having?”

And of course you want to quantify their
pain or problem whenever you can:

“How long has that been going on?”

“How often does that happen?”

“What is that costing you?”

The keys to success here?

1. Listen as if your livelihood depended on
grasping every word that comes from your

2. Take notes and write down the SPECIFIC
terminology they use, so you can repeat it
back to them in your questioning, and
eventual recommendation.

3. Do NOT jump in with your recommendation
until you have fully developed an understanding
of their issue. Which also carries the benefit
of them thinking more about the problem,
therefore making them more receptive to your

For a great resource on other powerful questions
to ask, in another of my Audio Seminars for the
Platinum members of my Telesales Success Inner
I interviewed Jim Meisenheimer who shared
his “12 Best Questions to ask Prospects and

You can hear an excerpt from that program with one
of the 12 questions, and see more about that Audio
Seminar, including how you can listen to it within
minutes by going to http://www.BusinessByPhone.com/12Best.htm

Have your best week ever!