According to a new Pew Internet study, 58% of American adults now perform online research about the products and services that they are considering purchasing.
Of course, there is nothing new about “shopping around.” I am sure we all have vivid memories of mom scouring the Wednesday newspaper ads as a prelude to her Thursday grocery shopping. And dad never bought new tires without checking the sports section of the paper for the best deals.
But this isn’t a pure swap out. First of all, consumers are still referencing newspaper and magazine and TV and radio ads. In point of fact, consumers still spend more time watching TV and listening to radio and reading newspapers and magazines than they do on the Internet.
The behavioral change I am referring to has to do with the search process. Consumers aren’t just reading ads on the Internet, they are going online to learn about the products they want, and find the best prices, and locate the most convenient stores (or buy it online) and discover what other consumers – or editors or bloggers – have to say about the product, and they even leave their own comments.
As if shopping isn’t exhausting enough in its own right, we have now added a whole new level of pre-shopping activity (double ugh).
And what this means to the companies that make products, as well as the stores that sell products, is that you better catch up quick if you hope to satisfy the needs of the next generation of shoppers. Your web site better be occupied with tons of content – product descriptions, instructions, diagrams, photos, videos, testimonials – and interactive functionality and links to social network sites and easy to use shopping carts and store locators and on and on.
Because like it or not, the line at the cash register is now preceded by a visit to your web site (assuming your site is effectively optimized to achieve top search ranking).
A 71-year-old South Carolina man used a Swiffer to fend off an intruder. He was cleaning his kitchen when a man in a ski mask tried to enter his home.
“He told me to get down and I grabbed the Swiffer, started jabbing him with it and it broke off, so I still kept on jabbing,” Philip Graham said. “I told him, ‘You get out of my house, you sorry son of a bitch, I’ll kill you.’ I kept jabbing him and he backed out and ran to the back of the house and then across behind the house.”
I’m certainly glad Philip was okay and that the intruder left the house. But what I found more interesting about this story is Proctor & Gamble sent Philip a full supply of Swiffer products after they heard the news. Then another local news story ran about the products Philip received from P&G. Way to take advantage of the opportunity P&G.
We are launching a new product that has sustainability benefits. How important will the sustainability benefits be to the media?
By Kayleigh Fitch
While the initial wave of media coverage highlighting all things green has calmed down quite a bit, there is still a significant opportunity to generate media interest for your “green” company, product or service using sustainability benefits as part of the hook. The key is to use the proper approach to ensure media will consider your company, product or service.
Consider the following when developing a news release or pitch about a green company, product or service.
1. A “green” product, service or company must be valuable in some other aspect beyond sustainability. In other words, it must first stand on its own two feet and then boast a green benefit.
For example, media will have no interest in covering a green cleaning product that doesn’t get the job done. But, a green cleaning product that is equal to or eliminates more grease and grime or leaves a shinier surface than a non-green competitor is something that will spark a lot of interest.
2. Sustainability benefits should appeal specifically to the target audience of the media outlet you are submitting press materials to. Investing just a bit of time to tailor your sustainability story can go a long way.
For example, a news release or pitch on environmentally friendly water bottles can be repurposed multiple times to appeal to sports magazines, parenting magazines, mainstream consumer media and even for trade media targeting prospective retailers.
3. The sustainability benefits you are promoting to media must be significant and clear. This goes for products/services as well as business operations.
No trade magazine will ever develop a story highlighting the sustainability of your warehouse based on a recycling bin in the break room-especially if you are supplying the bottled water to employees in the first place!
4. You must be able to back up your claims. Any responsible media outlet can and should ask for detailed information – anything from an MSDS sheet to reports on air quality, etc. – to verify the sustainability claims your company is promoting.
Need help securing media coverage for your sustainable company, product or service? Contact me at kayleigh at sweeneypr.com or 440.333.0001 ext. 105.
As a dad of three kids (no longer in their teens) and having once been a kid myself, I can honestly say that I love kids. I love babies, I love toddlers, I love youngsters, I even love teens. Kids are awesome. They are full of potential and energy and promise. They represent the best of what the world is and what it can become.
So, I was intrigued when I read the Adweek headline: Teens Deliver Brand WOM.
Of course I hate the idea that our industry is actually stalking teens to determine their “purchasing” and “communication” habits. But we are a capitalist society, so what’re you gonna do?
But what really got my attention, what really took me by surprise, was what this study found:
Despite teens’ immersion in the Internet, the report says the vast majority of their word of mouth takes place either face-to-face (75 percent) or by phone (10 percent). Just 13 percent occurs online.
Wow. I am shocked. I am surrounded by teen nieces (no nephews) who appear to forever be on their phones calling, texting and checking Facebook (none of them tweet), and like most adults I figured that’s all they were doing. Turns out I was wrong. Turns out my perception about social networking and today’s teens was faulty. And I am happy to get hung up – or out – on this one.
As Lady GaGa says in the last line of Telephone:
We’re sorry, We’re sorry,
the number you have reached is not in service at this time
Please check the number, or try your call again.
We recently started using social media to help achieve our marketing goals. Can you please provide some easy tips for increasing followers on our Facebook page, Twitter page and blog.
By Jennifer Manocchio
If I had to give one good piece of advice when it comes to increasing social media followers, it would be content, content and more content. The most effective way to increase followers is to ensure you are providing compelling and useful content to your audience.
Once you feel your content is where it needs to be, there are many strategies you can implement to increase followers. The ideas below are focused on quick and simple strategies that don’t require you to be a technology whiz.
Link your other social media sites – Twitter account, blog, LinkedIn account and video channel – to your Facebook fan page.
Include your Facebook (Twitter and blog ) address on all email signatures, literature, advertising, news releases, conference presentations, business cards, etc.
Distribute literature/fliers/promotional products at retail locations, trade shows/conferences with your Facebook (Twitter and blog) address.
Include a call to action to join your Facebook fan page on all email communication. Tell recipients about your fan page and encourage them to join. Provide them with a description of the page and an incentive (e.g., free white paper, free promotional item, contest) to join.
Integrate a “Facebook comment feature” into your web site. As users comment on items, that activity is pushed out into their stream (profile wall and their friends’ News Feeds), which creates valuable viral visibility for your fan page. For information on adding the comment box to your FBML page/app, see these pages: http://developers.facebook.com/search?q=Fb:comments_%28XFBML%29.
Facebook videos now include a feature that lets you become a fan of a Facebook Page while watching the video. The power of this feature cannot be understated as a video which includes a call to action, is much more valuable than a video by itself. If you want to drive new fans to your Facebook Page, this feature combined with high quality content is priceless. At the end of each video, prompt the viewer to become a fan and explain to them how to mouse over the top of the video.
Link your other social media sites – Facebook page, blog, LinkedIn account and video channel – to your Twitter account.
Start using hashtags in your tweets, preceding key words for conferences, events, products, people, etc. This will enable people to find your tweets on this topic when searching Twitter.
Retweet interesting posts on Twitter so that others are more likely to do that for you. Having other people retweet your posts is a great way to promote your Twitter page.
The easiest way to get followers is to actually follow others. You can use twitter search (and tags) to find people with similar interests. You can also keep following your followers’ followers and friends. Usually people that you follow will actually follow you back. This works instantly if you want to build followers in a matter of days. (WARNING: Beware of a twitter ban if you follow way too many in a matter of hours.)
Truly follow the top twitter users and watch what they tweet. Pay attention to the type of content they send out and how they address their audiences.
Reply to/get involved in #hash tag memes. search.twitter.com lists the hot ‘trending topics. Look for the #hash topics and jump in on the conversation (see #2 for links to #hash instructions).
Track your results. TwitterCounter will show you how many new users you’re adding per day and Qwitter will email you when someone unfollows you after a tweet.
Link your other social media sites – Facebook page, Twitter account , LinkedIn account and video channel – to your blog site.
Content plays a major role in getting blog readers. Your content must be interesting, informative, focus, and helpful. It must also be frequent or at least predictably regular.
Comment on relevant topics on other blogs with your own, distinctive view. You will get traffic from the other blog sites to visit your site.
Routinely visit select industry message boards and make quality posts that cover the same/related topics and put a link in your signature.
Bookmark posts in Digg and Stumble Upon among others.
Just this week I received a Pottery Barn catalog with a nice fall décor on the cover. As I flipped through the catalog, I was surprised to see Halloween decorations because it wasn’t something I expected from Pottery Barn. But that wasn’t what got me so fired up.
As I continued to flip through the pages, gasp, I saw Christmas decorations. Yes… Christmas decorations in September! How sickening. I just got our fall decorations out of the attic.
And Pottery Barn isn’t the only retailer trying to push Christmas. Toys R Us just released it’s “hot toy list” on Tuesday for the holiday season. This just sickens me. In fact, last year I started a Facebook page called “It’s Too Early For Christmas”. I thought seeing Santa in the mall before Thanksgiving was crazy, but Christmas in September is ludicrous.
Take a stand! Join the Facebook page and voice your opinion.
It’s late (approaching midnight), it’s Tuesday (a school night), and mom is standing outside the Game Stop store with her 12-year-old son to drop $60 on Halo Reach, a new video game that is rated “M” for mature audiences.
If that doesn’t say I love you, what does?
Man, when I was a kid… never mind, I really don’t want to go there. Nor do I wish to disparage the video gaming industry, nor do I wish to give parents a bad rap for spoiling their kids.
But it did make me wonder about the changing role of marketing in the new dynamic of the “family” of the 21st century. Let’s face it, the shame and disgrace of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirth came and went about two decades ago.
Kids are growing up today in a multitude of family configurations that defy description or understanding, let alone the type of stereotyping that marketing relies on to sell ideas and products.
Try telling a kid today that “this ain’t your grandma’s car.” First of all, which grandma are you talking about, my mom’s mom or my step-mom’s mom or my dad’s mom or my step-dad’s mom or my new step-dad’s dad’s second wife? Secondly, one grandma is still in her 40s and has a kid that is younger than me, while my other five grandmas are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Thirdly, two of my grandmas live in Ohio, one lives in Las Vegas, one lives in Florida and the other one is constantly on the move.
I don’t think there are enough psychologists or researchers to keep up with this situation. But as my dad used to say (I only had one dad), “If there’s money to be made, someone will figure out a way.”
I received a solicitation from Sky Radio promoting advertising for in-flight radio. How effective is in-flight radio and magazine advertising? See the email solicitation below.
I’m contacting you on behalf of Sky Radio to see if you would be interested in participating in our upcoming edition of “The Innovators”.
This special series spotlights innovative companies and is a cost effective way to enlighten millions of business travelers about your company. Our production team will produce a radio interview to broadcast on our business talk channels on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways as well as a TV commercial to air on the CNN Airport Network.
By Jim Sweeney
In-flight magazines are a viable outlet to reach various audiences, as are the in-flight radio and TV programs, but it is a crapshoot at best. For $3,000, you may reach one potential customer or none or 10; on any given day it is anyone’s guess.
Do any of your customers/prospects travel on Delta, American or US Airways? Will they hear your ad when it runs?
The most recent study I possess is from Arbitron (2006) confirming that in-flight radio has value as it reaches its audiences when they are not distracted by other outlets. However, as you know, this is no longer a valid point as many passengers now travel with smart phones and laptops. Also, there is no sure way to target a specific audience. Nonetheless, the report is worth reviewing.
If an organization plans to advertise, it needs to first identify its target audiences and then identify the media that most effectively reach them. There are a lot of ways to spend (and waste) money… a strategic marketing plan that commits to specific objectives and target audiences will help you identify if in-flight magazines or radio will help you achieve your objectives and reach your target audiences.
While I don’t have one of my own, I have heard or seen many uses for the Apple iPad besides the obvious. Just a few weeks ago, I was in a meeting and one of the attendees came with his iPad rather than a pen and paper. Also, I heard parents using it as a glorified “fun pad” to keep kids occupied on long flights or road trips.
But the most interesting of all comes from my husband (a Marine captain) who is currently in Afghanistan’s “wild west”.
Every day we either get attack helicopters or fighter jets to support our Marines if they get in trouble. These guys are constantly over head helping us out with the fighting or providing observation.
We also have 2-3 different maps of the area that we are in, and the pilots have to have these maps up in the cockpit too. Plus they have to have maps of pretty much everywhere between where they take off from up to where they will be doing their missions, so they could potentially have a lot of maps up there that they have to fumble through.
I would say upwards of 10-15 different maps at any given time. Anyhow we had fighter jets up yesterday evening, and instead of having all of these different maps, the pilot had every map conceivable on an iPad. Now that is really cool. I am sure it streamlined the process for him.
Apparently, our military isn’t the only one using the iPad. The UK is also using the iPad to train soldiers. According to an article on RedmondPie.com, “Early reports indicate that this experiment (using iPads for military training) so far has been successful in accelerating their (soldiers’) learning, thanks largely to the natural interactive experience which is said to have been responsible for this.”
We have invested in getting media coverage, but how can we leverage it to ensure we are getting the best possible return on our publicity investment?
By Jim Sweeney
Truly effective marketing is both inbound and outbound in nature (despite what many self-anointed inbound marketing gurus will tell you). Publicity is an excellent example.
For the sake of discussion, let’s say you just launched a new product and through a variety of tactics (news release distribution, media follow up, product review and testing, editor and blogger meetings/interviews, video-sharing, etc.) have attained a volume of print and broadcast media coverage, as well as online media and blog coverage.
The goal of this coverage was to create awareness in the marketplace, engage prospective customers and influentials, initiate conversations, promote trial and drive traffic – either to purchase the product or learn more about it.
So how can you use this traditional and online media and blog coverage to support those goals? Let’s start in the most obvious place, on your website. Assuming you have a media center or news page on your site (if not, create one), you want to post all of your original press materials, including news releases, backgrounders, photos, videos, etc. on this page for both the media and prospective customers to find. Likewise, you want to use your media and blog coverage (either the highlights or the sheer volume of it) to provide visitors with additional, objective resource materials to review.
You also want to tap into social media using blogs, social networks, video networks, forums, etc. – to get your content distributed across networks where it can be discussed and draw additional prospective customers to your site.
Quality media coverage, determined by the value of the content and the value of the media outlet, can also be used to instantaneously upgrade your street credibility. A timely story in The Wall Street Journal, a product review on Good Morning America, a cover story in Wired Magazine… what you do with that coverage is limited only by your imagination (and copyright laws), as witnessed by this Costco promotion.
The secret to extracting the most value from media coverage involves taking a more balanced approach to your marketing. Don’t think about publicity in isolation; think about it in a broader, more integrated context that includes a variety of outbound and inbound strategies.
Need help launching a media or blogger campaign or want to merchandise your coverage, contact me at jim at sweeneypr.com or 400.333.0001.
You can even get crystal eyeliner too! A company called “Carlashes” is now selling eyelashes for your car for $24.99 and eyeliner for $19.99.
According to the Carlashes website, “Carlashes is a new automotive aftermarket brand created to allow cars to be personalized with a feminine touch.” The company was formed in January 2010 and is based in Park City, Utah.
As crazy and ridiculous as this sounds, the company is getting major attention from national new outlets like CNN to blogs around the world. While a unique product like this will get the media and bloggers’ attention, it doesn’t mean people are rushing to the website to order the product. I predict this will soon be a figment of our imagination.
Referred to as the “age of youth,” it was a time when more than 70 million teenagers and young adults rebelled against the conservative establishment (a.k.a. the man). It was a time of making love, protesting war, taking drugs, playing rock music and tuning out. It was a time of dramatic change, with war protests and racial riots and student shootings.
But after about a decade of revolution, sometime in the mid-70s, after the break-up of the Beatles and the end of the war, something unexpected happened. Suddenly the older generation (a.k.a. the establishment) started to come around, trading in their Brooks Brother polyester suits for blue jeans and t-shirts… smoking their children’s dope… and letting it all hang out. And that my friend was the beginning of the end.
There is no better buzzkill for a youth movement than to have the older generation join the parade.
A new report from Pew Research reports that U.S. Internet users aged 50 and over have dramatically increased their use of social networking services over the past year. According to the data, 42 percent of users in that age group make use of services such as Facebook and Twitter, compared with 22 percent that claimed to do so in April 2009. Among that group, users aged 65 and over demonstrated the most significant growth, with twice as many using social networks in 2010 than in 2009.
In the words of Paul Anka:
And now, the end is near
and so I face the final curtain…
Once upon a time in America… consumers were so appreciative of the their new possessions they actually protected them from wear and tear. Who doesn’t have at least one old aunt or grandmother who wrapped her new davenport (a.k.a. sofa) in plastic to preserve its life?
Welcome to the double-dip recession of 2010. Someday our children’s children may look back at this time and recall how consumers were so pressed for cash and credit they actually… rode their bikes to work instead of their cars just to save on gas… clipped coupons before going to the grocery store… compared prices before buying… made sacrifices just to make their house payments… exercised to avoid doctor bills… robbed banks because the unemployment well finally ran dry.
For the record, I am rooting for a recovery in the economy, and I am pretty sure that a lot of other people are as well. Unfortunately, there appears to be a lot of writing on the wall resulting from a lack of leadership and a greed-centered business ethic that is global in proportion. I am very hopeful, though not entirely confident that the American will – the will of the people – can triumph as it has so many times in the past. Unfortunately those who are unaffected (the haves) don’t seem to care, those who are most affected (the have nots) are almost entirely dependent on a bankrupt government, and those in the middle are struggling to survive.
This is not a pretty scenario, but not one without hope. What’s the old American adage? When the going gets tough the tough get going. Well, I’m not sure what the plan is and I am not sure who I am following, but I am ready to get going.
At the end of the day, I’d rather sit on a plastic-covered couch than the space on the floor where the repossessed sofa used to be.
I saw competitive product reviews posted online and I’m fairly confident it was the competitor posting and not a real consumer. Are there any regulations against this type of activity?
By Jennifer Manocchio
There most certainly are FTC guidelines for this type of deceptive activity.
Late last year, the FTC updated its guidelines for how advertisers/marketers need to avoid deceptive advertising (including online), and the FTC is cracking down on offenders. According to the principles of truth in advertising, the director of the FTC’s division of advertising practices, said in a statement “Advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers.”
These guidelines not only include posting deceptive product reviews, but also bloggers not disclosing if they were paid to post the review or were provided a free product sample. See the post “The Impact FTC Guidelines Have on Blogger Relations” for more information on complying with the FTC when it comes to blogs and bloggers.
If you suspect your competitors are partaking in this activity, send the posts to the FTC to investigate.
This is also a good opportunity to take a look at your internal protocol for responding to blogs, message boards, media stories, tweets, etc. about your company and its products or services. As a best practice, if you are responding on behalf of your company to an online review or comment, clearly disclose your connection with the company. This will not only give you credibility with your target audiences, it will ensure you are following government guidelines.
I was a bit perplexed when my old college roomy sent me an email today with the subject line “90210” and told me her co-worker came in with a shirt that said “Donna Martin Graduates”. It was just so out of context for me, but then hours of watching 9021o in our dorm rooms came rushing back.
Apparently, die-hard 90210 fans have been waiting for this day – September 2, 2010 or 9/02/10 – to happen for two decades. Fans are dressing up as their favorite character and hosting parties. Even Larry King is getting in on the action and hosting a party for the town of Beverly Hills!
I certainly watched my fair share of the show thanks to my college roomy. I think the three years we lived together it was always on in the background.
While I will not be dressing up tonight as Brenda Walsh or watching anything else than Hurricane Earl coverage as it brushes southeastern N.C., it was fun to reminisce about favorite episodes and escape reality for a few minutes.