The Big Boys

are seeing the value of Social Media:

Starbucks, Microsoft Target Social Media

Starbucks, the U.S. coffee house chain, and Microsoft, the IT giant, are both seeking to utilize a number of social media tools to connect with consumers and gain an insight into the preferences of their customers.

A recent study by the Altimeter Group argued that Starbucks and Dell were among the brands from Interbrand’s Top 100 global rankings that are making the best use of social media at present.

Earlier this month, an analysis of the online “buzz” received by this same group of brands found that Google, Microsoft and Apple generated the highest levels of electronic word-of-mouth in September.

Starbucks has sought to develop a wide range of initiatives, working across a number of different portals, as it seeks to take advantage of the opportunities provided by this emerging channel.

These have included establishing its own service, MyStarBucksIdeas — allowing web users and its staff to make suggestions to the company — and running a Free Pastry Day and ice cream giveaway on Facebook.

Indeed, the Seattle-based firm’s page on Facebook is among the most popular on the social network, with more than 4.5 million “fans” at present.

Chris Bruzzo, vice president of brand, content and online at Starbucks, said that adapting to the demands of these types of service required moving beyond traditional conceptions of marketing.

“If you approach it as a marketing channel you can only go so far,” argued Bruzzo, one of six specialist members of staff at the coffee house chain. “If you approach it as a customer relationship and as a multi-faceted human connection between Starbucks and customers, then we can have more than a conversation about products — it can be a customer-insight channel and we can learn things from them.”

Microsoft employed a mixture of blogs and social media properties to promote the launch of Bing, its re-branded “decision engine”, in June.

Research carried out by the company revealed that as many as 5% of consumers discovered information about the introduction of Bing through these sorts of sites. Each week, it also adds a new question to Twitter, and gives away a free T-shirt to every member of the social messaging utility who responds with the appropriate “hashtag” before their reply.

Overall, Microsoft operates 50 accounts on the popular microblogging service, both official and unofficial, as well as 20 pages on Facebook for its various products.

Gayle Troberman, Microsoft’s general manager of advertising and customer engagement, said social media offers a “deep, highly engaged audience who actively wants to hear your message.”

With regard to strategy, there are certain key areas to focus on, she continued, including honesty and authenticity, as well as attempting to respond to users as quickly as possible.

“There’s sort of a new reality in advertising that we pay attention to. In the social sphere, the immediacy of reaction and response is different,” said Troberman. “You see when you put yourself out there in the media, or free media, sphere, it’s not just about what you’re saying, it’s about what people are seeing and what they say in response.”

As such, interaction is an essential ingredient to successfully communicating via these tools, separating them from most forms of traditional media.

“Social media really has its own rules. Done well, it’s not just pushing messages, it’s listening…It’s reminded us that we need to listen more than shout,” said Troberman. “You can reach people pretty effectively when they’ve chosen to follow you on things such as Twitter.”

Mobile Social Media
About 65 million of Facebook’s 300 million members are mobile users. Eight months ago, it was 20 million. Of MySpace’s estimated 125 million members worldwide, about 25 million use mobile devices. A year ago, it was 6 million.

A significant slice of the growth is taking place in urban settings and developing countries, among young people who cannot afford PCs.

An interesting video on social network stats and the social media revolution can be found here. Watch it in HD.

(Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer and USA Today; additional content by RAB staff and World Advertising Research Center staff, 10/21/09)


The Word VALUE

from Mediapost:

Faux Frugality: Are Consumers Really Any Different?
Sarah Mahoney, Oct 23, 2009 04:48 PM

food shopping

While much has been made of America’s newfound thriftiness, a new study suggests that shoppers are less focused on price than most marketers think.

“Marketers are very focused on the word value, but have very little sense of what that actually means to consumers,” says Jarrett Paschel, VP at The Hartman Group, tells Marketing Daily. “Everyone assumes it must be something about the way consumers are trying to save money. But that doesn’t mean we’ve entered a new era of frugality.”

As part of its study, “The New Value Paradigm: Theatrics of Thrift,” the Bellevue, Wash.-based market research company asked consumers to rank 25 different statements about grocery store products. “It works well/tastes good,” came in No. 1, he says, followed by concerns about waste, such as “Will this product actually be consumed in its entirety by my family?” “Price only came in at No. 6,” he says.

For example, one of the items that ranked poorly in its research was a Costco multipack of chips. “While everyone said their family ate the BBQ and other flavors, no one ate the blue cheese or ranch. Although the price was very low, consumers saw it as having a poor value.”

That means marketers have to take a closer look at consumers who say they are more than willing to trade down, but don’t actually do so. “We found they are even willing to pay a little more for a product they believe they will use fully,” adds SVP Michelle Barry. “Waste is something they see as costly.”

Barry believes that while consumers are managing their economic anxieties with the pretense of saving at supermarkets, by using shopping lists and coupons, the actual amount they are spending on groceries, and the items they purchase, aren’t all that different than what they tossed into their baskets before the slump started.

As a result, while marketers all around them are predicting that these sweeping changes will stick, “we think, in terms of food, that consumers will come out of this recession with little in the way of changed habits,” she says.

Certainly, families are spending a bit less, but often in ways that are not related to the recession. A big example, says Paschel, is the sharp decline in bottled water purchases. “It’s not that shoppers see the product as overpriced. They say they are no longer buying it because they see it as unnecessary, and out of fashion, neither of which are related to the economy.”

The company’s research also revealed consumer fatigue about all things economic. “They don’t want to hear any more that companies understand how worried they are, and that they’ll lower prices,” he adds. “What they are responding very well to are marketing efforts that surprise and delight them,” he says.

One example, he says, is the “Feel Good Ripple” created by Servus, a Canadian credit union. The bank recently gave away $200,000 to customers in $10 increments, with the admonition that the money had to be used to make someone else feel good. At the same time, it launched a contest, in which people could share their “Feel Good” stories and win prize money for their charities.

Another example is the way Burger King introduced its Apple Fries, by delivering samples to bloggers. “So many other companies would have sent a coupon,” Barry says. “But smart marketers are looking for unusual promotions to spark excitement, and really evangelize people.”

The Value of a Customer

from Art:

This Week’s Tip:
Preventing Huge Losses


While sharing some customer service horror stories,
a seminar attendee told me he quit using a certain
airline because he had an encounter with a rude
telephone rep. He spent about $50,000 a year
with the airline. Fifty grand. Gone. One bad
call. Wow.

Perhaps you’ve experienced the sting of having
a valuable customer of yours jumping ship. You
can’t do much about it once it has happened.
Oh, sure, you can call and grovel … asking for
another chance, but we know that does little good.
The damage didn’t occur overnight. It festered over
time. Best case, after the fact, we can learn from
our mistakes to prevent it from happening again.

The best route is Preventive Customering.
That’s simply paying attention to your customers …
performing routine maintenance so they don’t pack
up and leave when you least expect it.

And it really is simple and fundamental. But
sometimes those are the things that fall by the
wayside, just like in other types of relationships.

When other sales reps call your customers, you
want the customers to say what you might have
heard before when prospecting: “I’m satisfied
with (your company).” Here are some incredibly
simple, but time-tested truths to help
keep customers.

Go out of your way to leave an indelible
pleasing memory after the first sale. Underpromise
and overdeliver when it comes to delivery times.
Throw in something free as a welcome gift. Mail a
handwritten thank you note. Call after the order
has been delivered with additional useful information.
Reinforce their wise buying decision.

The bottom line is the bottom line. There’s a lot
to be said for building relationships on a personal
level, but the best way to become truly indispensable
is to be an integral part of their business. The more
you know about them, the better-equipped you are to make
profit-building recommendations. If you’re looked at
as a sales-boosting consultant as opposed to a
salesperson, customers will never consider listening
to the overtures of competitors attempting to stick
their foot in the door with promises of lower prices.

Don’t call to “just touch base,” to “check in,” or,
“to just stay in touch to see if they need anything.”
Customers could potentially view these reactive,
no-substance contacts as a nuisance. Make it policy
that every time you call you have a value-added reason
for doing so. Answer this question: What information
can you call with that would cause the customer to
say they were better off after taking your call
than they were before it? Any kind of industry or
product news they might find interesting, notification
of sales or promotions, or ideas you feel they could
use are all value-added reasons for calling. Come
up with your own.

This is so incredibly simple, yet it’s rarely used
by companies. What you might think is a great benefit
of doing business with your company could be meaningless
to your customer; they might buy for a totally
unrelated reason. My dry cleaner might like to believe
she gets my business because she does superb work and
has competitive prices; I use her because she calls
me by name when I walk in the door. She has never asked.

Ask your customers, “Pat, I want to make sure we continue
providing you what you want. What is it you like best about
doing business with us? What else would you like to

With new customers, at appropriate points during calls
(such as the end), ask innocuous questions about their
plans for the weekend, or for the summer. Listen
carefully to the answers, and react accordingly,
sharing of yourself as well. If they mention they’re
going to curl up in a beach chair with a good book,
find out more about what they like to read, and what else,
if anything they do at the beach. Again, common sense
stuff, but this works. One word of caution: I’ve seen
reps who were everyone’s best buddy, but rarely sold
anything. Likeable, yes. But also very easy to get
rid of by customers, and reluctant to directly ask for
business, fearful of being too “pushy.” Build
relationships, sure … in the context of business.

You don’t need to call every week, indeed you shouldn’t,
if you don’t have a valid reason for doing so.
However, in between your calls, stay in touch in other
ways. I’ve received postcards from sales reps’ personal
vacations. Well-read reps clip industry-specific
articles from any and every appropriate source and photocopy
and send them to customers with a note attached.
Send a fax to customers with confidential news of an
upcoming sale. E-mail them. Advertisers call this
strategy getting your piece of “mindshare,” meaning
they’ll think of you if they have a need before your
next contact, or when a competitor comes courting.

Some sales reps are passionate about chasing the
business, but lose interest once the relationship
has begun. You need to be committed to the relationship,
and be fanatical about service. Otherwise, nothing
else matters.

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action
without vision just passes the time. Vision with
action can change the world.”
Joel Arthur Barker

Continue having your best week ever!


Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Martha and others:

by Karlene Lukovitz
Stewart will “raise awareness of the brand’s promise and commitment to 100% real chocolate” and cocoa sustainability efforts with a segment on her Dec. 9 show “telling the Dove Chocolate bean-to-bar story.” Viewers will be informed about the Mars Center for Cocoa Science and Dove’s Center of Excellence. … Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The winning team will install the new gizmo in a Ford Fiesta for what Ford has dubbed the “American Journey 2.0,” a group expedition to test and show off their efforts at the 2010 Maker Faire, the world’s largest do-it-yourself convention held next spring. … Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
A spokesperson says Chrysler’s market research suggests there’s broad interest in the product, “but particularly for families who will use this during trips around town of 30-minutes or less, when they normally wouldn’t bother with a DVD,” she says. “We expect minivan, truck and crossover vehicle buyers to be most interested.” … Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
“When people pulled back last year, they realized that more important than the gift are the connections, and they are spending more time with friends and family,” says Deloitte’s Stacy Janiak. “… Consumers may be using holiday time to replenish items they’ve held off buying for some time.” … Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
A dedicated site proclaims itself to be the “best place to find last-minute costume ideas.” Buttons on the site offer suggestions to create nine costumes such as The Quiznos Toaster, a Toasty Torpedo sandwich or a hillbilly character from one of the company’s recent ads. … Read the whole story > >
by David Goetzl
Procter & Gamble indicated Thursday that it will boost marketing spending over the next year as it introduces a run of new and refashioned brands. The world’s largest advertiser said it plans to increase product “innovations” by 30% this year — with the bulk coming in the back half. … Read the whole story > >

Sears Offers Free Credit Scores To Cardholders

Denial is not..

just a river. From Marketing Profs:

No Escapin’ This

Ask 100 people for their opinion of social-media tools like Twitter and you’ll likely get 100 different responses—ranging from extreme enthusiasm to extreme derision. However you feel about social media, here is one simple fact: Even if you’re a naysayer who considers these tools inane and a waste of time, a large number of your most influential customers do not. And that means you must at least monitor the conversation for possible signs of trouble.

In a Premium article at MarketingProfs, Mack Collier outlines five such tools you simply cannot ignore. They include Google Sidewiki, a new add-on for Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. Once installed, it can open a side panel where visitors are able to read other visitors’ feedback—and leave their own—on any page at any website.

“Every webpage now can be commented on,” explains Collier. “Every. Single. One. Potentially, your competitor could comment on your company’s website criticizing your products and services. So can your customers. Did you launch a blog and turn off comments? Now your readers can still comment ‘on’ your blog.”

In other words, you can no longer control the conversation, even on your own homepage—because for those with the Sidewiki tool, every site is a social-media site.

Cold & Flu Season Marketing

From Drew:

Confused stock boy…or brilliant product placement?

by Drew McLellan

Picture 11

So simple…and yet so smart.

Check out where BBDO got grocery stores to stock Campbell Soup’s Chicken Noodle soup.

Sometimes you don’t have to spend millions on a campaign. You just have to ask a different question.

In this case:

“Would you be willing to stock some soup in your cold meds aisle?”

Smart, smart, smart.


How will this change your activity?

• 48% of sales people never follow up with their prospects.
• 25% of sales people make a second contact with their prospect and then they stop.
• 12% of sales people make three contacts with their prospect and then they stop.
• Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts with their prospects.

• 2% of sales are made on the first contact with a prospect.
• 3% of sales are made on the second contact with a prospect.
• 5% of sales are made on the third contact with a prospect.
• 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact with a prospect.
• 80% of sales are made between the fifth and twelfth contact with a prospect.