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Travel Freedom and Today’s News Outlets…

November 16, 2021

MEASURING FREEDOM – How important is the freedom to travel? A recent Amex Trendex survey of travelers found 81% of consumers surveyed value the freedom to travel more now than they did before the pandemic. More than two-thirds (68%) say they are likely to improve their mental well-being by taking a vacation next year. As one travel agent stated, “After more than a year of travelers being grounded, my clients are really looking to knock things off their bucket lists. Trips that had no urgency before the pandemic are now more pressing.”

This research points to the growing importance of travel websites, like Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) websites. That is why joining our 9th annual DMO Website Study is even more important. “The power of this research is that we can develop longitudinal data, comparing pre-quarantine, during-quarantine, and post-quarantine data over three years and beyond” explains Dr. Nicholas Lougee, research director of the study. “Because this is a syndicated study, collecting data from various Oregon DMOs, we can also provide industry comparison data and that makes the study far more robust than an individual website study.”

HOW DO YOU GET NEWS? – Some of us remember Walter Cronkite when news came from three TV networks. No longer. Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans get news from digital devices. According to a recent PEW Study, most adults (84%) say they often or sometimes get news from a smartphone, computer or tablet, including 51% who say they do so often. When asked which of these platforms they prefer to get news on, half of Americans say they prefer a digital device, more than those who prefer TV, radio or print.

PEW RESEARCH – WHERE PEOPLE PREFER TO GET THEIR NEWS:

Marketing takeaway: If you want to generate news for your business, you need to target digital outlets. That’s one reason why our media list, which we use for our PR client work, has more than 600 on it. Need help with PR, let’s talk.

Until next time, keep shifting into high gear!

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Covid Forever, Best Social Media for Business…

November 13, 2021

COVID FOREVER? – We are now developing the survey for our 9th Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) Website study. More than 40 DMOs have participated in this study since 2012. It is modeled after a respected national study, so we can compare data. It is the largest, ongoing DMO website study in Oregon.  

The study explores (1) What website visitors think of specific destination websites, (2) What content is most valuable, (3) What would make a website more influential in generating travel to the area, and (4) Current attitudes toward travel. Attitudes toward traveling is critical and that is why we added several Covid vs. desire to travel questions in 2021.   

For 2022 we will be doing more Covid questions. Why? Because preliminary results from Study #8 show that “feeling safe” is now the most importance influence in picking a destination. Will this continue? It may. Numerous studies, reported by the New York Times, show that Covid may never go away. When The Washington Post asked Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, when the pandemic would end, she replied: “It doesn’t end. We just stop caring. Or we care a lot less.” She added, “I think for most people, it just fades into the background of their lives.” 

Do we stop caring? Do we care less? Does Covid fade into the background of travel plans? The only way to answer these critical questions is to ask people. That is why participation in our 9th DMO Website Study is so important. How much will Covid impact your destination if it never goes away? That is a question every DMO needs to know. We can help you find the answer. Sign up now. Our next study begins January 2022. 

USING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS – Our parent company, Dennett Consulting Group (DCG), helps small businesses run social media campaigns (the basic DCG program begins at just $200 a month). Because DCG manages numerous campaigns, we constantly review research to determine the best social media for business promotion. According to various studies, here are the top five social media today (and percentage of Americans that use them): 1) You Tube (81%), 2) Facebook (70%), 3) Instagram (40%), 4) Pinterest (31%), and 5) LinkedIn (25%). Here are some other PEW data points that clearly shows that you need to be very active in Facebook marketing

Seven-in-ten Facebook users say they use the site daily, including 49% who say they use the site several times a day. (These figures are statistically unchanged from those reported in PEW’s 2019 survey). Facebook has much higher numbers for income over $73,000 (70%) and college education (73%) than all other social media except for You Tube. The biggest challenge with You Tube for business marketing is the age of the user. Fully 95% of those 18 to 29 say they use You Tube; but it is lower for other age groups: 30 to 49 (91%), 50 to 64 (83%), 65 and older (49%). By comparison, Facebook users tend to deliver more prime customer age groups for business: 18 to 29 (70%), 30 to 49 (91%), 50 to 53 (81%) and 65 and older (50%).

Yes, you should also have a You Tube program. Unfortunately, many businesses simply don’t have the video making capabilities to use You Tube effectively. So, for now, make sure you need an active Facebook page and that you post to ALL THE TIME. Need help? Contact us. Let’s develop a program that will increase your exposure and business. 

GOING IT ALONE – One of the standard demographic questions asked in surveys is marital status. Why ask this question? Because it defines behavior. For example, according to current research, young adults have fewer romantic partners today. Men are now more likely than women to be unpartnered, which wasn’t the case 30 years ago. According to PEW research, unpartnered adults have lower earnings, on average, than partnered adults and are less likely to be employed or economically independent. They also have lower educational attainment and are more likely to live with their parents.

Of course, marital status and gender questions need to be structured very differently today. In fact, designing a successful survey takes more than just picking a question from online survey programs. That is why, even if we do not conduct the study, you can ask us to review your survey instrument. Once you ask a poorly designed question, you can’t take it back. 

Until next time, keep shifting into high gear!

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Flippin Failure, Research as PR, Focus Groups

November 4, 2021

SHIFTING SMALL BUSINESSES INTO HIGH GEAR WITH RESEARCH – Our blog reviews research from Dennett Consulting Group studies and others that we are confident can improve your marketing. If you have specific research questions, please let us know and Dr. Lougee will investigate them.

EYE ON THE FUTURE – Being a research savvy business doesn’t always involve original research (your own studies). Just as important is secondary research – staying aware of what is going on around you. For example, many of our clients are in the lodging/hospitality industry. I wonder how many understand the implications of Hertz ordering 100,000 Tesla cars. What are you doing to make sure your hotel/lodge/inn has charging stations in the future? With 98% of visitor traffic to Southern Oregon arriving by car (DMO Website Study), it’s time to start developing the power sources needed by your future guests. If you need help with secondary research, we have a team to help you.

BUILDING YOUR BRAND THROUGH RESEARCH – “Events create public awareness” is a core PR principle. That is why one of the benefits of doing research is releasing the results to get public recognition. Case in point: How many people know or care about a website called bankrate.com? That is why they have been using their annual “Checking Account and ATM Fee Study” to brand themselves as a leader… and it works. Their 2021 study was all over the news (I counted at least 100 stories). So, if you are going to do a study, tell people about it. We have a team experienced in developing PR stories about research.

By the way, bankrate.com’s 2021 study revealed nearly half (48%) of non-interest checking accounts are now free, the highest level since 2010. The average ATM surcharge was the second highest in the history of the survey.

A “FLIPPIN” RESEARCH FAILURE – After losing $304 million in just one quarter, Zillow announced it is closing iBuying, their program that bought, renovated, and resold homes. Called “Zillow Offers,” it bought 9,680 homes in the third quarter, but sold only 3,032. While this may not look like a research failure, it is. Big companies often have far more research information than everyday people when it comes to buying and selling things. But in real estate, that asymmetric information situation is reversed. In other words, homeowners know a lot more than Zillow. “The owners know what skeletons lie in the house and what the local market is like,” says Bill Wheaton, a housing economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The ones who self-select are people who have houses that are difficult to sell.”

THE POWER OF FOCUS GROUPS – How could Zillow have foreseen this issue? They could have used focus groups (qualitative research) to discover why people wanted to sign up for Zillow Offers, not how many would sign up (quantitative research). With Zoom savvy consumers, numerous online options, running remote focus groups is now far easier and cheaper. If you need a focus group, contact us. We can show you how to use online resources, or help you create your own in-person focus group.

Until next time, keep shifting into high gear!

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Rebranding, Data Mining, and Zoom Fatigue

October 29, 2021

SHIFTING SMALL BUSINESSES INTO HIGH GEAR – OCT 29, 2021 – This blog reviews research from Dennett Consulting Group studies and others that can improve your marketing. If you have specific research questions, please let us know and Dr. Lougee will investigate it.  

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS BETTER? – My friend Peter Sage runs a very popular daily blog https://peterwsage.blogspot.com/ on politics and current issues. In a recent post he was focusing on how all big tech companies are mining a ton of data about you (get rid of Siri), so they can target their marketing. I was wondering how many small businesses are doing the same thing, so they know more about their customers? Not many from our experience.

It doesn’t take a ton of money to do small business customer research. For example, most small businesses today have a customer email list. What they don’t have is a research effort to reach these customers, thank them for their business, and respectfully ask for information so they can serve them better. We can easily set up a email customer study. The cost? Less than you think. If you want help learning about your customers, give us a call.

META – REBRANDING AWAY FROM TROUBLE – Rebranding can be a great marketing strategy. We often help marketing firms with independent research on a brand image prior to rebranding. But as people have pointed out, Facebook’s new name Meta appears to us as an attempt to change the subject from the Facebook Papers, a leaked document trove that clearly shows that Facebook brand was harmful to many people and society.

As marketing consultant Laura Ries shared in a recent media story, the name change is like what BP did when they rebranded to “Beyond Petroleum” to escape criticism that British Petroleum was destroying the environment. “They can’t walk away from the social network with a new corporate name and talk of a future metaverse,” stated Ries. Lesson here: It is critical to do independent brand research before you take the step to change. We can help.

ZOOM FATIGUE IS REAL – Sick of Zoom meetings? Our research shows that they will be around even after Covid. However, women and newer employers are more likely to feel drained and lacking energy following a day of virtual meetings, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in August. The degree of fatigue isn’t affected by the amount of time spent in virtual meetings or the number of meetings attended.

But having one’s camera on during meetings all day—versus having it off—does make people feel tired. Researchers offer several reasons why women suffer more. Women, who tend to be judged more harshly both in terms of their behavior and their appearance than men, are likely to spend more time thinking about how they look and focusing on whether they appear attentive enough on screen. This takes up greater cognitive resources and mental energy and is more tiring. Also, the likelihood of children interrupting is greater for women than men, which can cause anxiety.

EYE ON THE FUTURE – Doing research doesn’t always involve doing original research (your own studies). Just as important is secondary research – just staying aware of what is going on around you. For example, many of our clients are in the lodging/hospitality industry. I wonder how many understand the implications to their business with the announcement that Hertz just ordered 100,000 Tesla cars, a move aimed at making sure electric vehicles will comprise more than 20% of the company’s global fleet.

So, what are you doing to make sure your hotel/lodge/inn has electric charging stations in the future? With 98% of visitor traffic to Southern Oregon being by car (stats from our current DMO website study), it’s time to start developing the power sources needed by your future guests.

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Email Tips and Planning for the Holidays…

October 14, 2021

SHIFTING SMALL BUSINESSES INTO HIGH GEAR WITH RESEARCHOCTOBER 14, 2021 – On a regular basis we are now sharing research (from our studies and others) that we are confident can improve your marketing. If you have specific research questions, please share and Dr. Lougee will look into it.   

DO YOU USE EMAIL MARKETING? – We run several email marketing programs for clients (contact us for a bid to handle your program). Therefore, we are always reviewing research that provides insights into how to improve open and click-through rates (CTR) by choosing specific days and times for sending out emails. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually the best days to send emails. As for time of day, these are key transition times:

  • 8 am is a great way to capture folks who check emails first thing in the morning.
  • 1 pm falls during/after lunch break.
  • 4 pm is when people need a pick-me-up to get through the last workday hour.
  • 6 pm falls during/after an evening commute.

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules. That is why you need to research your audience to know what works for them (we can help you with that too). Here are two respected studies that provide additional insights.

  • A study by GetResponse analyzed about 4 billion emails focused on active senders with a minimum of 1,000 contacts. From their data, Tuesday has the highest open rate and click-through rate. They also found that 1 pm is a great time to send emails, but also offered 10 am as another time slot with strong open and click rates.
  • HubSpot pulled data from 20 million emails sent over a 10-month period and found that Tuesday was the best day to send an email in terms of open rate. This was followed closely by Wednesday with Monday coming up third. HubSpot’s peak time for email opens was 11 am. The only exception is on Sundays when the peak time for open rate is 9 pm.

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR HOLIDAY TRAVEL? – According to Google sponsored research, travelers say they feel safer, with the perceived risk of taking a vacation down by 17% since January 2021. Google also reports that when it comes to holiday travel, 30% to 40% will plan trips a month or more in advance, but the majority will make plans less than a month ahead of time. And what should you be telling these future travelers? Your destination is a safe place to visit.

According to our ongoing (8 years running) DMO Website Study, a majority of potential visitors now think “feeling safe” is the number one priority in picking a destination.

Are you listening? Do you have and do you communicate your health and safety measures and contactless options? Contact is if you want some specific ideas on how to do that.

Until next time, keep shifting into high gear!

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Welcome to a new approach…

September 30, 2021

Welcome to the re-launch of our blog. We have shifted the focus from marketing to research. Why? Because in working with clients during the pandemic we’ve found that increasing your research efforts is critical for shifting your company into high gear. On a regular basis we will be sharing research (from our studies and others) that we are confident can improve your marketing. If you have specific research questions, please share and Dr. Lougee will look into it.   

IS IT TIME TO SURVEY YOUR CUSTOMERS? – As businesses begin focusing on 2022, this is a time many conduct customer studies. “If your customers reach the future before you, they will leave you behind.” Not sure where I picked up this quote, but it still holds true. Here’s are some tips on conducting customer studies.

Use your email customer list – Many businesses have e-mail lists of customers/clients, and this is a great place to start with planning for the new year. However, how you frame the survey pitch, and the design of the survey, are critical. We can handle that for you. We have a fall special (as low as $750) to serve as your research partner in these studies. Working with an outside firm gives you a big advantage – a third party (DCG Research), independent study, that has much greater credibility with stakeholders, boards, and customers.

Consider using online panels – If you want to survey the general public, explore using online panels. There are several large, reputable companies that can offer you this service. But be careful, they are not all reliable. We’ve worked with the best, so contact us and we will share this information.

Are email/online studies reliable? – Absolutely. We get asked this question often when designing online studies for our clients. Online surveys offer several advantages over phone or mail studies, lower cost being the obvious. But there are other pluses.

PEW Research conducted an excellent analysis of phone vs. online polling, since the majority of their polling is now online. We can provide you with a copy of their report, but here are a couple key takeaways that may make you more comfortable using email/online surveys.

  • When an actual person is asking questions, people are more likely to respond in a way that paints them in a positive light or avoids an uncomfortable interaction. This social dynamic is removed when people are taking surveys online. This difference, based on the method of interviewing, is known as a mode effect.
  • There is a large body of research on this topic, and it shows that mode effects are most likely to occur under only a few scenarios. If the question asks about a sensitive or potentially embarrassing topic, self-administered online surveys tend to yield data less skewed toward the answer respondents see as socially desirable than do interviewer-administered surveys. Therefore, there is compelling evidence that online polls measure attitudes with less error (e.g., less social desirability bias) than phone calls.
  • Online polls also tend to have lower levels of nonresponse (e.g., fewer “don’t know” responses) when an explicit “don’t know” or “no opinion” option is not offered.
  • Telephone survey samples often skew older respondents, while online survey samples sometimes skew younger.
  • Finally, telephone polls are one-off surveys in which a new, fresh sample is interviewed each time a poll is sent out. Online survey panels recruit a sample of the public that is willing to take different surveys. They tend to be much more willing to take longer surveys.  

WHO IS TRAVELING IN A PANDEMIC? – Many of our clients are in the travel business, so I thought this 2021 study by HealthCareInsiders.com, which focuses on Americans’ travel perceptions during the pandemic, would be valuable in planning future marketing.

Millennials (18 to 34) are 50% more likely than Gen-Xers (35 to 54) and 15% more likely than Baby Boomers (55+ in this study) to feel comfortable traveling right now. They are even more likely to travel this winter, with 88% of Millennials comfortable traveling then.  When asked to choose which of 10 specific activities, they most look forward to resuming:

  • Millennials were most likely (19%) to cite travel, just behind being able to ditch face masks (20%).
  • Generation X tied eagerness to resume travel (17%) and family gatherings (17%), but behind masks (25%).
  • Baby boomers (55+) ranked family gatherings (20%), after the ability to stop wearing masks in public (31%). The ability to travel was 16%,

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

July 23, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

TIME TO GO NATIVE?

One of the biggest growth areas in online marketing is the use of native ads. These ads look like stories. I am sure you have seen these; I’ve included an example below. They are labeled “ads,” but they still get almost 3x the “click thru rate” compared to banner ads.

We’ve been running highly successful native campaigns for our clients for years. If you have not used them and want to test their use, we just launched a new GO NATIVE cooperative program that lets you run a 30 day campaign, targeting 10 zip codes of your choice, for as little as $420. If you are interested in more information, contact us.

THE BIG TWO

Speaking of online advertising, the majority of digital display ad  revenue goes to two companies: Facebook (42%) and Google (11%). Another 12% went to other tech companies, including Amazon; Verizon Media Group, which owns Yahoo and AOL; Twitter; and Microsoft, among others. I suspect that Facebook is now losing market share because of the July boycott and the challenge of controlling content.

THE FUTURE OF COVID-19?

Well, no one really has a crystal ball that works, that is why research is critical. As the country begins locking down again and demanding mask wearing, just wanted to remind everyone about our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World. This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making data. Email me now to learn more.

THE SHY TRUMP

I keep warning people not to take presidential polls too seriously in July. I believe that many people being asked for their opinion fall into the “shy Trump”  phenomenon: the idea that some people who support Trump will refuse to tell pollsters that they plan to vote for him, out of fear that they will be judged negatively for it. This phenomenon can happen with any poll. People have a tendency to give answers that they think will make them sound smart and culturally correct. That is why research design and analysis is so important.

Now, some researchers disagree that this “shy Trump” affect had any impacted in the 2016 election. If you are interested in a scholarly look at what happened in 2016, you can read this very detailed report. It is kind of overkill, but interesting. Click here.

CONGRESS GOES SOCIAL

The President’s use of Twitter has dramatically changed the congressional social media landscape, according to PEW Research. Compared with a similar time period in 2016, the typical member of Congress now tweets nearly twice as often, has nearly three times as many followers and receives more than six times as many retweets on an average post. On Facebook, the typical member produces 48% more posts and has increased their total number of followers by half.

THE STREAM TURNS TO A RIVER

Living in a COVID-19 world has made streaming services a major winner. According to MoffettNathanson, a market-research firm, during the second quarter of 2020 Netflix was in  73% of American homes, Amazon Prime was in roughly 51%, and Hulu was in 36%. Disney+ is now in 28% and Apple TV+ is in 7%. Interestingly, the launch of Apple’s and Disney’s services didn’t bring a noticeable drop in their rivals’ numbers. Now NBC’s Peacock has just joined the streaming team. If you have not explored marketing on streaming services, you are behind the curve.

$21,000 PER MINUTE

Ending with some fun facts. That is what Amazon spends on advertising and promotion last year, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. It’s now the top U.S. advertiser. Here are some other facts about Amazon’s dominance online. Their cloud service (Amazon Web Services) controls 40% of the market, running the backend for Netflix, Pinterest, Slack, and dozens of other services. Bank of America estimates Amazon currently has about 44% of U.S. e-commerce market share. Almost 90% of UK shoppers use Amazon. No wonder that Jeff Bezos is the richest person in America according to Forbes.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

July 13, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

BEING A BETTER ZOOMER

Video meetings have gotten to the point where almost everyone hates them. But roughly two-thirds of workers who have been working from home say they would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible when pandemic restrictions lift, according to a recent Gallup poll. So, get use to them. That’s why I thought these Zoom tips from the Walt St. Journal’s Betsy Morris needed to be shared. You can read more detailed info in the WSJ.

Don’t Be Late – Video meetings make it obvious when colleagues show up late, wasting the time of those who log in promptly. A rule of thumb: There’s no need to recap for a late arrival.

Turn on the Camera – Avatars and stock photos are no longer acceptable. Increasingly those who use avatars are known as “lurkers.”

Sit Still – Don’t pace. Colleagues stop listening because they’re watching you. If you need to change location, don’t just grab the laptop, and go, making everybody else feel like they’re on a wild amusement ride. Turn off the video momentarily so you don’t make everyone dizzy.

No Eating – Don’t eat on a video call—and especially don’t eat chips. “The crunchy crunch of chips is just gross. Stop it!” says Samantha Castro, director of video production at the digital platform InspireHUB.

Get Good at Interrupting – Asking permission to talk via chat or raising your hand is awkward. Those moves make it impossible to achieve what’s becoming the ultimate video chat: when everybody in attendance forgets they’re meeting remotely.

Close the Door – Turn off your phone. Stop notifications and Twitter alerts. Arrange for family (and pets) to stay out of the way.

Don’t Multitask – Asks everybody to close all other windows on their screens so they can be fully present.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TECH DEVICE?

Speaking of living in a COVID-19 World, what tech gadget is most important to you? A recent Deloitte Study reveals the smartphone is the winner. It has grown in importance from 6% in 2010 to 36% in 2019. They are even more popular with Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X, with more than 40% of those consumers ranking them as their most preferred device. Second place, flat-panel TV. Several devices, the basic mobile phone, portable music players, non-flat-panel TVs, and the DVR, disappeared from the top 10 list.

In 2010, desktop and laptop computers ranked first and second, respectively, in terms of perceived value. While both experienced a significant decline, 13% of consumers still rated them as their most valued devices in 2019. Laptops still ranked third overall (tied with desktops), according to the Digital Media Trends Survey.

Why is all this important to you as a marketer? You must make sure your website and marketing look good and functions well on smartphones.

BETTER, BUT NOT GREAT

Watched the PBS TV series “The Vote,” which was a fascinating look at the history of women earning the right to vote. That’s why I thought this Pew Research Study was interesting.

Today, only about half of Americans think women voting was a milestone, but a majority believe that the country hasn’t gone far enough. Among those who think we need to do more, 77% point to sexual harassment as a major obstacle. Fewer, but still majorities, point to women not having the same legal rights as men (67%), different societal expectations for men and women (66%) and not enough women in positions of power (64%) as major obstacles to gender equality. Women are more likely than men to see each of these as a major obstacle.

Marketing Takeaway: Women are not equal to men and you need to make sure you are aware of this with images and copy in your marketing materials. For example, are you showing mostly men only photos in your marketing?

PLANNING YOUR FUTURE

When can schools safely reopen? When will the economy really start recovering? And when will you next eat in a restaurant, go to a movie, watch pro sports, or hang out at a friend’s house? All of these are, in fact, versions of the same question: When will the United States finally start to get the coronavirus under control?

And the answer appears to be not any time soon. That’s why we are have launched our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World.” This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making data. Email me now to learn more.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

July 7, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your post 4th of July week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

FINDING A NEW PATH

As I mentioned in my last blog post, there has never been a more important time for customer research. You can’t afford to guess about the future. You need hard data. That’s why we have now launched our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World.” This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making customer data. Email me now to learn more about this super low-cost research.

CAN A VIRTUAL CONFERENCE WORK?

As reported by the New York Times (NYT), many believe that the recent Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference was a bellwether for the future of online event as the coronavirus pandemic makes physical conferences impossible. NYT reported that most attendees said they missed the serendipitous social interactions of in-person conferences, but many praised the sharp production and easier access of this year’s event, which was streamed free for eligible participants. Making things free helps. With a hefty price tag, $1,599 last year, plus travel costs making it free made the event more accessible to programmers overseas and those with tighter budgets. Some said the format was less hectic and noted that one-on-one sessions were more productive because they were able to reach an Apple employee who could help them work out a specific problem or concern.

IS POSITIONING TRICKY?

Yes. Once you learn what your customers think via research, making sure they know where you stand is called positioning – staking out a unique selling propositions (USPs) that will increase your business and keep you in step with your customers. It is not easy and presidential election speeches over the 4th of July provide a case study on positioning.  Now, with four months to go, no poll can tell you who will win the presidential election. But research can tell you the mood of the voter (customer) at this point of time.

PEW research reveals Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As we face a pandemic, an economic recession, and protests about police violence and racial justice, only 12% say they are satisfied with the way things are going. The majority, 71%, think the country is going in the wrong direction. But what direction should we be going?

If you listened to President’s Trump 4th of July speeches, while praising peaceful protestors he believes that people think the country is going in the wrong direction because of “the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.” Polls that revealed that 26 million people protested the death of George Floyd (CBS Sunday Morning), his position is that these people our misguided and they want to destroy our history, our cultural icons, our societal privileges, and only Trump has the strengthen to stop these attackers.

On the other hand, the Biden camp, reviewing the same research, decided to position Biden as someone that believes the country is going in the wrong direction because we have not lived up to the promise of our founders. “Our country was founded on an idea: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ We’ve never lived up to it. Jefferson himself didn’t. He held slaves. Women were excluded. But once proposed, it was an idea that couldn’t be restrained. We have a chance to live up to the words that founded this nation.”

What positioning is correct? Only time will tell. But the marketing lesson is clear: you have to listen to your customer, then stake out a position, a brand, and execute a marketing strategy that supports it.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

June 26, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts as COVID-19 makes a dramatic return (30,000 cases a day). As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

FINDING YOUR PATH

Let’s open up. Let’s get back to normal. Wow, 30,000 cases a day, let’s lockdown, again. What is a business owner to do? There has never been a more important time for customer research. You can’t afford to guess about the future. You need hard data. That’s why we are developing a series of short, industry specific, surveys so you can find out what your customers are thinking about coming back to your business. Each of our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” surveys are focused on a specific segment: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list we can provide you with decision making data.

We plan to launch these surveys in July. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR FREE BETA TEST, JUST EMAIL ME NOW.

IT’S NOT GOING TO BE EASY

One of the reasons we are launching our ““Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” study is that the marketing landscape has never been more challenging. This is readily evident looking at national TV spots. Sad piano music is out, and turning on the lights is in. Clydesdales gallop, and bars with neon “Open” signs are featured in Budweiser’s newest ad. It concludes, “Buds are back.” Of course, Texas just closed bars again. “The phase we’re in now is a phase of euphoria,” as Bud’s chief marketing officer stated. “People who are tired of being locked down see an opportunity to resume elements of normal life.” But is that still true? The unity that largely marked the early stage of the pandemic has given way to divisions around numerous issues. Janet Balis of Ernst & Young, believes that “brands need to be even more careful than at the beginning of the crisis.” And that is why being a part of our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World study may be one key to your survival.

GOOGLE TAKES A HIT

If you think you can resume your social media marketing, as usual, think again. Major advertisers are cutting back. That’s one reason Google’s U.S. ad revenue will decline this year. Their money-printing machine, overall ad revenue, has seen double-digit growth in its two-decade existence, except for the 2008-09 financial crisis. What’s different this time? Many consumers are cutting and shifting their use of social media. Why? That is one of the questions we are asking in our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” survey.

PAYING FOR CONVENIENCE

Thousands of small businesses use the payment service Square for credit cards. That’s why this news item caught my eye. The company is now holding back up to 30% of the money they collect. Square, which is led by the Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, says the reserves are meant to protect consumers who may ask for refunds. Don’t believe Jack. My bet is that they are shielding their own struggling bottom line. So that begs a question. Are U.S. businesses going to join the worldwide trend of charging for credit? Having recently returned from Australia/New Zealand, if you use a credit card down under, you pay extra for it.

Why should struggling small businesses, who are being forced to use credit cards more in coronavirus protection protocol, pay banks and others (like Square) for your convenience? Will customers accept this extra charge? That is one of the questions we ask on our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” survey.

Bottom Line: Knowing what your customers think about living and working in a post Covid world is critical to your long-term survival. Email me now to learn more about our survey.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.