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!



August 31, 2016

I saw this headline on a Facebook post recently and I’ve seen similar ones. Given the current polls, why would anyone think Trump could win? Before I tell you why, I want to remind you that this is a marketing, not a political, blog. I believe the election offers some great marketing lessons. So, what does Trump have going for him?

Customers do not always tell the truth. As a researcher, I believe the polling models are under-reporting Trump’s level of support. In social science it is called: Social Desirability Bias. Respondents want to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. If you are a college educated white male, a woman, a Hispanic or an African-American, are you going to tell pollster that you are supporting Trump? Especially when it seems that everyone is telling you, you would be crazy to do this? So, you lie, until you get to the voting booth. MARKETING LESSON: If you are conducting a survey it is critical that you structure questions to reduce all types of bias. That’s why firms continue to hire us even if they do their own data collection.

You are in trouble if your customers don’t like you. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 56% of Americans view Clinton unfavorably. Of course, Trump isn’t real popular either and that is the marketing takeaway. MARKETING LESSON: Many people do not have a favorite product. They have ones they avoid. They often pick the least objectionable product. That is what we are seeing in Trump vs. Clinton. Remember, it is essential that your customers respect and like you, if you want them to come back.  A variety of research tools can be used to track how you are doing with your customers. Dr. Lougee and I will be happy to share this information with you.

Journalism is entertainment. Have you ever sent a story out and you barely recognize it when it is published? The unbiased journalism model I studied at the University of Oregon is, dead. Today news is entertainment and Trump is, first and foremost, an entertainer. Seriously, if you were going to a dinner would it be more fun to sit next to Trump or Hillary? MARKETING LESSON: News is almost always slanted to the audience a media must entertain. That’s why when you send a story out, you must know who will be reading it – so you can tailor to their self-interest.

Skilled communicators create the world we perceive. Trump now has one of the best professional communications teams you can buy with pollster Kellyanne Conway and Breitbart News Chairman Stephen Bannon. These people know how to take advantages of today’s 24/7 media. They helped create the current media model. MARKETING LESSON: Most often, facts do not change a person’s personal opinion. We live in a world of perceptions – what is in it for me. That’s why retaining communication specialists are critical in shaping your brand (or candidates).

Now, Trump does have an uphill battle because of the electoral college structure. But never count out a competitor until you have a sale.



August 26, 2016

Email turns 45 this year. It remains one of the top reasons why most people use the internet. That’s why I am a big believer in having a robust email marketing effort. But the dark side of you using email to promote your business is most emails never show up in your customers’ inbox.

According to a new Return Path report,  less than 70% of emails are delivered. Reviewing the report, here’s some of the challenges your emails can encounter:

Primary Mobile Challenge for Premium Publishers (% of 300 US premium publishers)
Challenge % of Respondents Saying “Primary”
Ad blockers 49%
Quality of consumer experience 44
Quality of content/creative 42
App installations 38
Measurement deficits 31
Platform and service costs 30
Off platform monetization 30
Off network traffic/audience 27
Lagging advertising spend 27
Inadequate revenue/ROI 24
Source: AOL Platforms, August 2016

If you are looking to boost your deliverability, the report outlines the best practices for a successful email marketing effort:

Building and maintaining reputation – If you send email, you have a sender reputation, a rating that helps mailbox providers and spam filters determine whether your emails are trustworthy, safe, and wanted. Looking up your sending reputation, or Sender Score, is free at senderscore.org

Acquiring and maintaining quality subscriber data – An unclean list has severe consequences on your deliverability. Every spam trap, unknown user, and inactive account on your list can damage your reputation, your deliverability, and potentially can land you on a blacklist. Consider investing in a list validation service to ensure each address you add will maintain the quality of your list

Generating subscriber engagement – Mailbox providers like Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail, are focusing more and more on subscriber engagement in their filtering decision process. Marketers who frequently generate high positive engagement from their subscribers are more likely to reach the inbox, while marketers that generate low or negative engagement from their subscribers find their emails landing in the spam folder

Defining seed data – Information captured from high volumes of monitored email accounts (seeds) controlled by senders to sample mailbox providers’ placement decisions irrespective of user-initiated or engagement-based filtering. For new programs with little or no history of subscriber interaction, seeds can provide an accurate assessment of inbox placement

Defining Consumer Network data – Information captured from monitored email accounts controlled by real subscribers to sample user-initiated and engagement based filtering decisions by mailbox providers. Uncover behavior-based factors and thresholds that influence inbox placement at large mailbox providers, and can’t be identified by non-interactive seeds.

For more information from ReturnPath please visit here. Need help in setting up an email marketing program? Contact me for a no cost evaluation of your needs.