December 16, 2016

Renowned CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite must be rolling over in his grave. Most U.S. adults (62%) now get news on social media, and 18% do so often, per a new survey by Pew Research Center. Three social media sites dominate news online.


That is why “fake news” is a major issue for marketers. It is almost impossible to control your message in social media. As I’ve stated many times, news and entertainment are now one in the same. Our Twittering President Elect has shown the power of news on social media – we do not need anyone to make sure it is true. But wait.

Finally, CNN has reported that Facebook has announced to will start applying warning labels to some “fake news” stories that users share. Articles that are known to be false — seemingly published with the intent to trick or mislead people — will be marked with what Facebook is calling a “flag.” Below the headline there will be a red label that says “disputed by 3rd Party Fact-Checkers.” Users will be able to click on a “learn why this is disputed” link to get more information.

Facebook will not be doing the fact-checking itself. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that “we do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.” So, those third parties will be fact-checking organization that have committed to the International Fact Checking Code of Principles, which was recently established by Poynter, a journalism organization. Several dozen fact-checking organizations around the world have signed on the code of principles.

Now you will still be able to post whatever you want, no matter how bogus, but now others will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share.

Hopefully, other social media companies will step up and do the same. At a recent journalism industry conference, Facebook representatives said that addressing the spread of knowingly fake stories is the #1 priority at the highest levels of the company. It is about time.



December 12, 2016

Here’s something for you to discuss with your marketing team this week: are you using the right marketing tools to reach the right market?

CASE IN POINT #1: My company runs a Destination marketing campaign effort, Crater Lake Country (CLC) (www.craterlakecountry.com). While I do not personally use a lot of social media and I really do not like to text (I was never a typist), I’ve learned that using social media and other online tools are critical to reaching a younger audience. One of the things I am most proud of is that the CLC website has a much higher percentage of younger viewers than other destination marketing organization (DMO) websites. Now, for someone who is passed official retirement age, learning new tricks isn’t easy. I spend about 20 hours a month reviewing and learning new marketing techniques. How much time are you spending on learning new things?

CASE IN POINT #2: Oregon football. The mostly successful PAC 12 football program in the past ten years lost its recruiting way because it didn’t realize how you communicate with high school teenagers. You see, teenagers are the prime market for any college team. A Portland Oregonian opinion piece by Andrew Nemec (anemec@oregonian.com) said it best: “Recruiting has never been about boosters and retirees, it’s about attracting teenagers. Oregon’s staff stuck together for 20 years, and somewhere along the way, they seemed to forget that. Taggart has a lot to prove, but he’s already showing he understands the modern recruiting battle. He’s generating buzz – one tweet at a time.”

How are you reaching the largest market in American today – Millennials?



November 13, 2016

I am not going to add to the relentless analysis of the recent election. If you love politics, read my friend Pete Sage’s political blog. It is well-written and very insightful. But I do want to cover three core marketing principles that your business can learn from Trump’s victory.

GET OUT AND MEET YOUR CUSTOMER – Most businesses today think they are listening to their customers. They tell me they monitor user review websites (Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Angie’s List, BBB, Manta, etc.) and use online surveys (Survey Monkey) to know what is going on. Big mistake, you do not know what is going on. The internet has a self-selecting bias. You are only going to hear from people who love or hate you. But what about the majority that do want to share their opinion and will simply not buy your product. Or the 20% that have no home internet access (Pew Research study)?

The Trump Marketing Lesson: On almost every measurable statistic, the economy is better than when Obama came into office in 2008. That’s a statistical fact. But Trump’s victory in Wisconsin reveals that 61% of voters said the economy was bad or “not so good.” Their vote was a rational choice. It was not a vote of deplorables. Oh, and never, never label your customers.  Bottom-line: nothing replaces getting out in the real world and asking your sales or service team for honest feedback on what customers think. Nothing replaces visiting your key customers and listening to their concerns. Do not rely on metrics only.

SELF-INTEREST IS YOUR CUSTOMERS ONLY INTEREST – All business run marketing programs because of their self-interest. They want to sell more, make more money and profits, and enjoy the rewards of their hard work. Therefore, most businesses place their self-interest over the interest of their customers. But as I have said in my book and in years of consulting, the only real interest customers have is self-interest. Trump totally understands this, perhaps because he so totally focused on marketing himself.

The Trump Marketing Lesson: If you focus on your client’s self-interests, they will overlook a lot, if they believe they are being heard. White evangelical Christians voted 81% for Trump. They simply overlooked locker room speak, playbook character flaws, numerous marriages, trophy wives, and questionable business ethics because Trump promised to lead with their self-interest in mind.

TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED – In this 24/7 digital world, your customers are overwhelmed. They long for a simpler time, where they can trust things they believed in as a child. But today we are outliving our value systems, and this makes everyone very fearful. Because of fear, your customer’s opinion of your business can change instantly based on what they hear or see. Remember, events create public opinion.

The Trump Marketing Lesson: You can’t take anything for granted in a constantly changing world. That is the essence of my PowerShift Marketing philosophy: if you are not doing something every day to move your business forward, you are moving backwards. There is no status quo. Are you a market leader and think you can rest? Forget it. Are you behind the market leader? Keep focused and work smarter.



October 18, 2016

Ok, another post on the power of email marketing. I am not talking about hounding your customers with tons of emails. I am talking about having a planned, well-executed program that only sends information to your customers THEY WANT. With that said, more and more people are viewing emails on smartphones. This requires a change in the look, tone and style of your promotional emails.

As reported by MediaPost, a new study by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) shows that email usage is up, driven primarily by consumers’ shift to mobile. The survey found that smartphones have overtaken computers for checking email. Also, email is less formal in a world of texting and emojis.

The Adobe Email Study surveyed over 1,000 white-collar Americans finding that “time spent with email is up 17% year over year. Millennials, consumers ages 18 to 34, spend the most time with email of any age group and 90% rely primarily on their smartphones to do so. Almost 50% of Millennials admitted to checking their email while still in bed in the morning.”

Workers now spend an average of 7.4 hours per weekday on email. Just over four hours are spent checking work-related email and 3.3 hours checking personal email, indicating an ‘always-on’ email culture. Here’s some more stats:

  • 30% of respondents said they see a trend toward emails getting shorter
  • 72% said they have used an emoji in a personal email
  • 69% said that texting has had at least some impact on how they communicate via email

When do they check email?

  • 69% while watching TV or a movie
  • 53% on vacation
  • 45% in the bathroom
  • 44% while on the phone
  • 17% admitted checking while driving

Bottom-line: again, email must be a part of your marketing effort. If you need help with your email program, contact me (Mark@dennettgroup.com). Our monthly programs begin at just $100 a month.



October 3, 2016

A recent story on MEDIA POST caught my eye. Smartwatches will probably sell 20 million units this year and they are expected to ship 32% annually over the next five years, according to a new report by BI Intelligence. By 2021, the number of independently smartwatches will hit 30 million. Also, more and more smartwatches can be used to pay for things. So, what is wrong with this picture? The catch is that smartwatch growth faces a number of barriers to adoption according to the MEDIA POST story:

Limited perceived value – An earlier BI Intelligence study found that 51% of consumers didn’t see the point of owning a smartwatch.

Smartwatches are not fashionable – The wrist devices are not yet an attractive accessory, like luxury traditional watches.

Who needs or wants all that data – Having employees gain access to large volumes of data is not enough to generate savings for many businesses. Hence, companies are less inclined to provide wearable devices for employees. In fact, many businesses are concerned about security. Different watches also run on different operating systems, which can cause some headaches for technical departments.

The marketing lesson here: if you are introducing a new product you need to research and understand the barriers to adoption even if sales are promising. Most firms do some new product research, but I suspect that do not do barriers to adoption research. They should.



September 23, 2016

I am constantly telling companies to be very careful about asking their marketing department, ad agency or marketing firm to conduct market research. Why? They can have a vested interest in showing you positive results. You really need a third-party working with your marketing team to develop, conduct and analysis research data. This is especially true for online analysis. Yes, Google, Facebook and Yahoo love to share their metrics, but perhaps this is because they are faking it.

CASE IN POINT: For two years, Facebook overestimated to ad agency and firms the average amount of time people spent watching Facebook videos. They finally disclosed that a key metric was accidentally artificially inflated by only including videos viewed for more than three seconds. This may have caused Facebook to overestimate average time spent watching videos by 60% to 80%. Facebook’s solution? A new name for a new metric for what was meant to be measured in the first place.

As reported by the Wall St. Journal, this “miscalculation means marketers may have misjudged the performance of their video ads as well as decisions to move budgets into Facebook, while publishers who post videos on the platform are also affected. Maybe it’s time for the internet’s so-called walled gardens to finally allow true third-party verification of their data.”

Totally agree. I think that is one reason why our research business is growing. More and more people want real data that they can count on.



September 8, 2016

I’ve been struggling for the past three weeks with upgrading my computer and changing from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Not a fun task. The learning curve hasn’t been easy. I constantly ask myself, why did Microsoft have to change a product I liked?

Then along comes Apple with their new iPhone 7 which now lacks a headphone jack. Now isn’t that super convenient for the billion people who currently own an iPhone! Don’t worry, Apple will sell you a blue tooth headset for an extra $150 to all those users that want a new phone. Or you can simply make a daily decision, “should I charge my phone or listen to music” since the same jack is used for both.

I agree with Megan McArdle, a columnist for Bloomberg View, that did an opinion piece for Ad Age: “Apple’s move represents a trivial gain for a large loss: the vital commodity that economists call option value.”

Option Value is why many businesses change a product. Basically, the idea is that a new option has value, even if you don’t want it or use it. That’s because it increases the range of possibility, and some of those possibilities may be better than your current ones. This is exactly what I find frustrating with Windows 10 and the new 2016 Office – dozens of more options (and commands) than I want or need.

As Megan McArdle points out, option value can make a big difference to businesses. Consider the disaster of New Coke. Coke developed a modern formula that did well in focus groups. So, in 1985 the company changed the formula and customers went crazy. Within months, the old formula was back as Coca-Cola Classic. And then a funny thing happened: The old formula did better than New Coke in beating Pepsi. Losing the option value of having the familiar beverage available reminded people why they had liked it — and they started using that old option more often.

McArdle believes that Apple may end up facing a similar dilemma. Even if the number of people who want to use their old wired headphones is small, there’s a risk that they are really, really attached – much more passionate about it than people who thinks it is cool to have a new, thinner, waterproof phone. If those people can’t get a headphone jack from Apple, they may decide to look for a phone that can provide it.

Marketing Bottom-line: Do not believe 100% in Option Value. You need to do research with your customers prior to making any major change to your product or service. Especially if you have brand loyalty like Coke and Apple. This goes for new websites too!