Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’



August 19, 2015

The core philosophy of my book, Powershift Marketing, is that you don’t need to accept change, you need to embrace it. As I quote Futurist Faith Popcorn in my book, “If the public reaches the future before you do, they will leave you behind.” I am constantly encouraging people to be head of their business curve. The recent story in the Wall St. Journal about onetime music giant Columbia House filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy is a case in point.

Founded in 1955 as a division of CBS Inc., it offered stacks of music CDs and then movie DVDs for as little as a penny. But Columbia House ended that music CD business in 2010, ten years after the market for CDs peaked at $13 billion in 2000. It was just a 1.85 million market in 2014. DVD sales have also dropped – 50% since 2006. Columbia House joins other CD retailers that have closed down or sought bankruptcy protection over the past decade, including Tower Records, Sam Goody and Musicland in 2006, Circuit City in 2008 and Virgin Megastore US in 2009.

The sad thing is it was a self-inflicted wound. “The thing I remember most is their unwillingness to change with the times,” said Mark Rubenstein, a former art director at Columbia House. “The writing was on the wall,” he said. “They either didn’t see the writing or didn’t want to read it.”

At this week’s marketing meeting take sometime to ask everyone: what future trends could help or hinder our business?



August 11, 2015

I’ve commented on this before, but television remains one of the last “mass media” options out there for firms that want to reach a wide variety of people. Unfortunately, the old world of a few popular shows having giant ratings is gone forever. FOX network was beaming because they got 24 million to watch their Presidential Debate. So why, when you have 350 million potential viewers, is reaching 7% of the audience considered something to crow about? Well, it is because there are simply too many choices out there to get high ratings.

At the Television Critics Association’s summer meeting, John Landgraf, the CEO of FX networks, confessed that he long ago lost the ability to keep track of every TV series.  “You take a fixed audience and divide it by 400-plus shows, it stands to reason their ratings will go down,” he said.

Meanwhile, viewers’ access to programs has extended from the night a given episode is introduced to potentially any time after that, thanks to video-on-demand and digital platforms spreading out each series’ audience over days and even months.

You’re seeing a transformation in the mode that people are using to access television,” Landgraf added. With increasing viewership on apps or subscription video on-demand it really is requiring a new approach to using TV. Just some more marketing food for thought.



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.



December 11, 2014

I work primarily in rural Oregon. Most of my clients are in small towns outside of major metro areas like Portland. I am usual working hard to find more local customers for them. It is no secret that the recovery has not moved to small towns and businesses outside of metropolitan America.

Here are the research numbers behind the small market challenge: Between 2012 and 2013, the number of adults aged 16 or older in non-metropolitan areas declined, perhaps for the first time ever, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

According to the American Consumers Newsletter, this loss is the result of two trends: a decline in the rate of natural population increase in non-metro areas (births minus deaths) and a decline in net migration (people moving in minus people moving out), which has been negative since 2010.

Why are people moving out of non-metro areas? Probably to find a job. According to the researchers, “non-metro employment growth slowed in 2011 and fell to zero or slightly below thereafter.”

So creating more jobs is not only the key to small town America improving, it is also the key in finding more people that can afford your goods and services. 



November 26, 2014

HAVE YOU MISSED ME? – I’ve been taking a break from my weekly blog since August. I’ve been filling my time with a wonderful birthday trip with friends to France for a barge trip of the canals, welcoming a new granddaughter, and completing several major research projects. But I am now back.

One of the hot topics right now in Southern Oregon is if Crater Lake should raise their entrance fees by 150%. Is this a marketing issue? Yes, if higher fees reduce your customer base. For many people, charging $25 to go to a fabulous National Park might sound reasonable.

But remember, if you’re a typical worker, you probably didn’t get a raise this year. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans say no one in their household received a raise or promotion in the past 12 months, according to the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2014 American Values Survey.

It’s worse than that, however. American workers have been treading water not only for the past 12 months, but for the past ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median weekly earnings of men and women with full-time wage and salary jobs have been stagnant for at least a decade.  Here are the inflation adjusted numbers from an American Consumers Newsletter report:

Men’s median weekly earnings: 2014: $880, 2004: $894
Women’s median weekly earnings: 2014: $722, 2004: $720

So, before you raise your prices Crater Lake National Park, remember, most of your customer have not had a raise in ten years! It is generally a good idea for your customers to have a raise before you take one.



March 6, 2014

I was reading an editorial in the Medford Mail Tribune about how the Oregon economy is improving, but not fast enough to provide relief to most of us living in smaller towns. The Tribune was making the case that real growth comes from a game-changer, something that really makes a fundamental difference in the economy. As the editorial stated, “Oregon can either wait for that external force to appear or it can be proactive.”

I think this is great marketing advice too. Going back to a popular theme in my book, because we are so busy working “in our business,” we simply don’t take the time to be proactive, to work “on our business.” How do you find your game-changer, something that will make a fundamental difference in your business? It takes a personal commitment to listen more to your customers and your team, then embrace new, perhaps risky, ideas. As the editorial concluded, “Perhaps the best game-changer would be a business plan that currently resides in someone’s head or garage.”

So, make a commitment to find your game-changer. Most of us just don’t take the time to find them in someone’s head, but they are out there!



February 7, 2014

I recently had a discussion with a client about measuring print ad results. I’ve always loved the old adage50% of advertising is wasted, but no one knows what 50%.”  The client is now using ad specific URLs in each print ad, so they can track what ad has the best click-thru rate. Ten years ago, when I first used this technique, I thought this was a great idea. Now, it is going to give you some questionable data.

Why? Because research that my firm has conducted, supported by various national studies, shows that most people who respond to print ads by going online, use a search engine to find the company. In fact, our studies show that you can take the Google Analytics figure for referrals from a specific print URL and multiply it by 3 and you will have a better reflection of your true response from a print ad.

Now let’s talk about the power of an impression. Counting total impressions is important because it will give you your CPM cost (the ad cost per thousand views or Cost Per Impression, the online advertising cost per thousand views). CPM, as I outline in my book, will tell you how “efficient” your media buy is. But today you need to move beyond simply counting impressions. Consumers are in control. They move constantly from one media choice to another, bombarded constantly by ad messages. And yes, they tune out most of it.

If you are going to get real value out of an impression, you need to make one. That means being unexpected, creative and media savvy. Another great topic for your marketing staff meeting.