Posts Tagged ‘brand marketing’



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.


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.


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.


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.



April 21, 2020

THIS WEEK – There is nothing like staying home to find more time to write! So, I am back after a six month break. Wow, how the world has changed. As various guidelines are released for getting the country back to work, now is the time to explore what you need to do to regain marketing strength and restore your business in a post COVID-19 world. I shared the following thoughts with my partners in my cooperative marketing program, Crater Lake Country. While they are focused on the visitor industry, they are universal.


Customers have a very short attention span. It has been 30+ days since the public has been told to “stay home, stay safe.” In marketing terms, that is a lifetime. What have you done during this period to maintain top of mind awareness; to keep current and future customers engaged? Fix it now.

STAY POSITIVE – There is plenty of negativity in the world today. You need to keep your message 100% positive by sharing public service information, good wishes for people to stay healthy, and what you and your employees are doing for the community during this difficult time.

  • Increase your use of Facebook and other organic channels (like your blog) to leverage your exposure.
  • Continue to post YouTube videos, Instagram updates, and photos and stories on social media.


It is easy to think of your website as just an online brochure. It’s not. It can be a dynamic marketing tool that can share current realities. Unfortunately, few companies use it that way.

On your website share the latest information as well as any details on what is open. Your site must continue to be a trusted source for information and travel inspiration.

PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU – HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing resource, is currently reporting data from their 70,000+ client companies to understand what people are looking for in this crisis. Their most recent update (last week) revealed that:

People are seeking out and interacting online far more today than a month ago. While this certainly reflects the moving of more transactions online, it also shows that for now, people are still looking to engage. If you have a message to share, look for websites and organic online channels to share it.


Look for partners that can help spread your message and reduce your costs. The best way to make your money go farther is to spend someone else’s money. There are plenty of cooperative campaigns and resources to help you market. Reach out now.


Yes, maintain an active email marketing program. But be careful not to sound self-serving by only dialing up deals (promotions and discounts) – an approach that may look insensitive. Instead, focus on nurturing long-term relationships. Look for ways you can help your customers today, without asking for anything in return.

Again, people want to hear from you. HubSpot data reveals that the percentage of people that open a business email (open rate) has increased. People want to stay informed, but they may not want to buy right now. You need to share positive messages that things are going to get better.


Way before COVID-19, many marketing leaders have been urging a brand message shift to customer empathy. If you are not already on the empathy bandwagon, you are late. Showing empathy and concern for your customers will be critical in a post COVID-19 world.

Need help understanding how you can make your team more empathetic? There’s plenty of help online. This story (click here: and this Tim Cook presentation (click here: are excellent introductions into the role of empathy in marketing. Watch and listen, then act.


The public will be expecting discounts. A good portion of them may be hurting financially, so they will need discounts. That said, those who discount may take longer to recoup their lost income and it might be difficult to reestablish normal rates. If possible, don’t discount basic pricing. This will lower the quality perception of your brand and make it harder to return to pre-COVID-19 rates. Instead, promote offers that seem driven by longer stays, stays on specific days, rewards to returning customers, and other discounts that do not appear to be COVID-19 related.


There will be a rush to advertise immediately to meet perceived pent up demand. Media outlets will be offering special deals. But don’t spend all your marketing dollars immediately. Develop a six-month marketing strategy.

DCG Research, which is currently conducting a DMO study, has discovered that it may take months before people feel safe again. While 3 out of 4 respondents say they are eager to travel, few plan to travel within the next 30 days because they are unsure of what they can expect.


Business as usual will not return. COVID-19 has changed the rules of customer interaction. You must demonstrate this reality when you reopen your business.

  • How are you going to change your business practices to give customers a greater sense of health security and confidence?
  • How are you going to visually demonstrate these changes? Customers will increasingly demand that they see actual physical changes reflecting your concern for their safety.


Again, business as usual will not return. Not only do you need to make sure your staff feels safe in serving the public, they need to fully understand the systems you have installed to make your customers feel safe too. Start re-training now.

Stay safe, stay home, stay positive!



April 23, 2018

Monday Morning Quarterback Marketing Digest. Each week I highlight market research that could make your marketing efforts stronger. Want to conduct your own research? Let us help.

(1) ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS? – Many of the firms I work with are in the hospitality industry and summer is their peak season. That is why I am getting more calls for my “I’ll Be Back” 90-minute customer service workshop. They find that an outsider can make training more memorable and powerful. But regardless of how you conduct it, what customer service training are you doing? Surprisingly, many businesses have no formal program. Sure, they train people to handle their jobs, but few people know the basics of customer service today. Email me ( and I will send you a quick quiz you can share with your staff to see if you have the symptoms of service decay. It is a fun quiz.

(2) WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE GONE? – It seems every day I read more about people having a tough time finding good people to hire. I also know it is hard to keep good people. One of my first clients was a small bank in Southern Oregon. I will never forget their CEO John Anhorn telling me that they “hire for attitude and train for service.” I still think this is the key to success. That’s why I found this LinkedIn article by Brigette Hyacinth, author of The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence worth a quick read.

(3) CAN YOU FIND WELL-BEING IN A TECH WORLD? – Last weekend I helped plant trees in a Rotary project for Earth Day. We had two young helpers participating (grandkids of our president). Once the planting was completed, I was amused that the highlight of the day for these two boys was playing in a giant dirt pile. Refreshing. I may be showing my age, but spending more time with your digital devices doesn’t seem to make people happier. Now, many experts say digital life will expand people’s boundaries and opportunities. But nearly a third think that people’s overall well-being will be more harmed than helped in coming years. This PEW study shares what people think of living in our tech-saturated world.

(4) WHAT TO DO IF 60 MINUTES CALLS? – Well, the first thing you do is talk to them. Allegiant Air is finding out the consequences of “stonewalling.” In my marketing book, PowerShift Marketing, I devote an entire chapter on how to handle a PR crisis. Allegiant Air, so far, is writing a new book on how NOT TO HANDLE IT. Interesting read on how not to handle the media. Email me ( and I will send you a copy of this section of my book. 

(5) ACCESS MORE INFORMATION OR MORE CONTROL? – Fake news is a real issue, since the majority of people today use social media as their number one source for news. So, do we favor protecting access to information over government restricting false news? Nearly six-in-ten Americans say the freedom of accessing information is more important than protecting us from fake news. The public does like the idea of technology companies taking action. Interesting PEW study.

Thanks again for reading my blog. Here are links that related to the information I shared:








April 2, 2018

Monday Morning Quarterback Marketing Digest. Each week I highlight market research that could make your marketing efforts stronger. Want to conduct your own research? Let us help.

IS YOUR DATA HOT? Mail Tribune Reporter Kaylee Tornay wrote an interesting story that shared a Southern Oregon view on the national Facebook data breach story. I was quoted in the story talking about the importance of market research and the role online panels can play. Click here to read the story.  If you live in Jackson County, I would like to invite you to join our online panel. Click here to learn more.

CAN YOU DEFEND YOUR BRAND? Peter Sage has a daily blog that provides his observations and commentary on American politics and culture. Peter has lots of liberal friends (and conservative enemies), but if you are a political junkie it is worth reading. A recent post pointed out the importance of understanding your brand weaknesses (problems) and how someone can attack you. While Peter was talking about political brands, the lessons apply to all business. Good marketing advice, click here to read.

WHY DO PEOPLE PICK YOUR SERVICE OR PRODUCT? One of my “PowerShift Marketing” strategies is that most people do not have a favorite product or service. They pick the least objectionable. Many businesses that dominant a segment think they are first because people love them. Truth is, they just don’t like the other guy. That is why a new business can come in and take your market. A recent study by PEW Research supports this. Again, it is a political study, but it certainly applies to business marketing too. They found that negative views of an opposing political party were a major factor in supporting another party. You don’t love your party, but it is the least objectionable. Click here to read.

YOU CAN TARGET ALMOST ANYONE. I am currently researching online marketing opportunities for several clients. It is fascinating what you can now target. Below are some of the audiences you can retarget (on mobile or desktop) from just one digital provider.

Retargeting: I talked about this last week, you target people that have visited your website in the past but have not bought your product.

Mail Retargeting: Target people based on the commercial email messages they receive – by sender domain. You can even target competitor emails to increase market share.

Look-a-Like Targeting: You build a look-a-like audience, similar the profile to the people that bought your service/product. You reach relevant users with a similar online profile based on 1st party data, their online activity and search behaviors.

Interest Targeting: Focus your ads at a specific interest: arts & entertainment, health & fitness, home & garden, just to name a few.

Purchase Receipt Targeting: You target individuals that completed a purchase or payment on your website. You can offer them new items or related products.

Ok, thanks for reading. If you have any research or marketing question, let me know and I will try and cover them in my weekly MMQB Marketing Digest posts.



March 26, 2018

Monday Morning Quarterback Marketing Digest. Each week I highlight market research that could make your marketing efforts stronger. Want to conduct your own research? Let us help.

CHANGING GENERATIONS – With kids “Marching for Our Lives” and parents and grandparents joining them this past weekend, it is interesting to look at how generations have changed in the past 50 years. PEW Research offers an interactive research look at how today’s young adults compare with their grandparents five decades ago. In my opinion, politicians are about to be blindsided by Millennials’ new social beliefs that were on display this past weekend. Click here to go the story.

DO YOU USE RETARGETING ADS? – Most marketers that use Google AdWords, use some retargeting ads – these are ads that show up on someone’s computer after they have visited your website. I think these annoying ads are a major negative marketing tools. However, if used sparingly and strategically they do have a place. Need to learn more? I think Google’s retargeting article is a good place to start. Click here to read.

WHY DO PEOPLE NOT READ YOUR ADS? – How can you make people notice your ads? When I published my PowerShift Marketing Book, I stated that “What you say, and how you say it, is more important than where you say it.” My point was that ads that are more relevant to the viewer will always have greater engagement, no matter where they appear. I ran across an article from Google’s VP of Agency and Media Solutions, Tara Walpert Levy, that spells out how the bar for relevant, attention-worthy ads is rising, along with consumer expectations. Tara’s focus is online video ads, but the lessons are relevant to all advertising. It is worth a read, click here.

WHO ARE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS TODAY? – Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation’s leading first-time home buyers. But their homeownership rate has fallen by a stunning 11.7% since the homeownership peaked in 2004. Our research review  shows three reasons: 1) Limited supply and cost of starter homes in major urban areas, 2) Lack of income growth, and 3) Lack of social desire to own a home. Here is the current Census Bureau homeownership rate by age, 2017 (and percentage point changed since 2004 peak):

Under age 25: 22.6 (-2.6)
Aged 25 to 29: 32.1 (-8.1)
Aged 30 to 34: 45.7 (-11.7)
Aged 35 to 39: 56.4 (-9.8)
Aged 40 to 44: 61.8 (-10.1)
Aged 45 to 54: 69.3 (-7.9)
Aged 55 to 64: 75.3 (-6.4)
Aged 65-plus: 78.7 (-2.4)

SURVEY FOR GOOD – Do you live in Jackson Country, Oregon? Then I would like to invite you to join our new Southern Oregon research panel. Check it out right here.



July 24, 2016

One of the marketing principles in my book POWERSHIFT MARKETING is that most people do not have a favorite product. Brand loyalty is pretty well dead especially with younger consumers. Most people today pick the least objectionable product. Think about how you watch TV. Using your remote, you click-through 200+ channels and when you find nothing you want to watch, you don’t turn off the TV. You simply select the least objectionable program.

This is very much where we are with this year’s presidential election. All polls show that the majority of Americans (59% or more) have an unfavorable view of Trump and Hillary. Even more people believe they are both untrustworthy. So, will voters just turn off the TV and not vote? I suspect that the majority of the 57.5% of eligible voters that vote (2012 data from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate) will reluctantly choose one of the two leading candidates.

Why is this important to small business marketing? Because you gain a tremendous marketing advantages if you are not the least objectionable product or service. That is why it is critical to make sure your potential customer have a favorable opinion of you. How do you do this?

Do not act like a presidential candidate. Our research and other studies we’ve reviewed show that people want to purchase products/services that are trustworthy, honest, do not over promise, and our transparent (what you see is what you get). Every month we conduct studies for our clients to make sure that these values are driving their brand.  It is unfortunately that one of the best brand marketers (Trump) and one of the worst (Hillary) have not learned more about the basics of real marketing.



August 9, 2015

Since I run a research company, I am a big fan of American Consumers Newsletter by Cheryl Russell of New Strategist Press. I’ve used Cheryl’s info often in my blogs. Her most recent newsletter had some insights into men aged 30-to-34. This is when the percentage of men who are married rises above 50 percent, according to the Census Bureau. But that’s an average.

In fact, the marital status of men depends on how much they earn, with the married share rising in lock-step with earnings. By the way, the relationship between earnings and marital status is not found for women. Here are the 2014 statistics for men aged 30 to 34 who are currently married, by earnings:

Total men 30 to 34: 50.4%
Less than $5,000: 26.3%
$5,000 to $14,999: 31.1%
$15,000 to $24,999: 37.8%
$25,000 to $39,999: 53.0%
$40,000 to $74,999: 61.2%
$75,000 to $99,999: 66.4%
$100,000 or more: 72.7%

Bottom line: Find married men, aged 30-34, and you have a darn good chance that they have a lot of disposable income, if their wife hasn’t spent it already.



March 31, 2015

Corporate cultures are interesting. When my airline (Western) merged with Delta in the 80s, I noticed a very distinct culture clash. Seldom did the boys from the South agree with the guys from the West. Today, I am seeing this same challenge play out in the beer industry.

Seven years ago two major brewing companies, Miller and Molson Coors, joined as partners to take on #1 Anheuser-Busch InBev, which then had about 49% of the market (they now have 45%.). By combining freight logistics, marketing, production and procurement the Wall St. Journal reports that they saved $1 billion in costs, driving profit increases for six years straight. Now, it is not working as well. Why?

First, the dynamic growth of craft beers (they have more than doubled their market share since 2008 from 4.2% to 9%)  is making the lack-luster taste of American beer, especially light beers, less appealing to serious beer drinkers (80% of beer is consumed by 20% of the market). Also, Mexican beers have gained a 15% share of the $14 billion import market, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.

But perhaps the biggest challenge is that Miller executives, they are called “the suits” and Molson Coors executives from Colorado, they are called “the cowboys,” just can’t seem to agree on much of anything. Right now, they can’t even agree on a CEO. It doesn’t help that they have competing beer products. If Miller Light sales go up, Coors Light sales go down. Plus, Miller and Molson Coors have no Mexican beers.

What does all this beer talk have to do with your marketing? It is a prime example that in a changing market, everyone has to be on the same page. Your marketing strategies must have universal agreement within the organizations, not just within your marketing team. Is everyone on your team rowing the boat in the same direction? Good question to ask as you look at the results of the first quarter.



December 15, 2014

I am currently developing several cooperative digital marketing campaigns for 2015. If you think you might be interested in joining one, let me know.

In reviewing a host of online media options from mobile, native, video and banner ads, I had to take a hard look at the old-fashioned banner advertisement–the oft-maligned foundation of web advertising for two decades. Is it dead? New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo recently argued that the banner ad was indeed in decline citing the growing number of publishers experimenting with things like sponsored (native) content.

But despite the banner ad’s reputation,there isn’t a ton of evidence to suggest it is actually going away. As Business Insider’s chief revenue officer Peter Spande put it: “On a percentage basis there’s a smaller portion of ad dollars going to banners this year than last, but in an overall dollar sense our banner business is growing at a hefty clip.” And the banner ad still makes up a heady third of Internet ad spending, according to the IAB.

The real drawback to banner ads: The growth of mobile. The ads simply look way too clunky on smartphones, a device where Americans are spending more time than ever.

My recommendation, keep the banner ads going, but make sure you add mobile and video ads to your media mix for 2015.



August 9, 2014

One of my major marketing cooperatives is Crater Lake Country, a destination marketing organization (DMO). I use a wide variety of online tools including Google ad words, AdBlade banner and native ads, Yahoo ads, video ads, and links on more than 40 travel websites to drive traffic.

Because I use Yahoo, with great success, I was shocked to learn about Yahoo’s dismal earnings report. I really like Yahoo’s new digital magazines. These magazines are attracting just the sort of beautiful, quality ads that CEO Marissa Mayer keeps saying she wants. You might ask why Yahoo’s homepage doesn’t look like their magazines. Good question.  

From my perspective, here’s the issue that is holding Yahoo back. Unlike Google, where a million small time advertisers can have a share of voice, Yahoo just wants the big guys – the top 200 brands – to spend more. Right now, not enough of the big dogs are interested in Yahoo’s prime real estate – its homepage.  

But as the big dogs turn their backs on Yahoo, little guys like me can find great value. I kind of hope the big dogs (and their ad agencies) keep staying away as Google increases their traffic and look. That’s the marketing lesson for today: someone else’s problem can be a big advantage for you.