Never take anything for granted, especially in business. This holds true if yours is a traditional brick and mortar business or one of the many thousands of new online, digital age businesses that spring up on the Internet faster than dandelions pop up on your lawn every spring. When it comes to an Internet-based business, the one thing that everyone should have learned following the first dot.com explosion and implosion is that just because your business is on the Internet doesn’t mean that it will be a hit. Take nothing for granted and in doing so, remember that those tried and true tools that have been helping other businesses keep their doors open for years will probably be good for your Internet-based business also.
Plan for Success – Your Marketing Plan
Perhaps the best place to start in planning your successful business is with a marketing plan for your website. Building a website is only the beginning, however many business owners make the mistake of thinking that once they have a web platform up and running, the cash register starting ringing. Your website and your Internet marketing plan should be prepared pretty much at the same time if at all possible. Take some time to consider what you want to tell people about your business and organization and start putting out the message first and foremost via the name you choose, the look and the feel of your website and the content contained on it.
You online marketing plan should probably start the way any other business plan starts, with throwing a lot of ideas on the table and then evaluating them for how well they fit into the personality of your product or website, your budget, and how well they will work given your product or service.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
It can’t be emphasized enough that before you build a website, make sure that an SEO expert (search engine optimization) is part of the group helping you to build and design your site. SEO work is one of the most effective tools you can employ as part of your overall marketing plan. A website built with SEO techniques in mind will ensure that the search engines find you, actually, that your clients find you via the search engines, by using a variety of methods such as keywords, relevant optimized content, proper metadata, to name just a few.
Be Your Best Promoter
When you’re ready to launch your website into cyber space you’ll want to do so with as much fanfare as you can muster. Start your own email campaign and let everyone you know that your website just hit the waves, providing them with a link and a request that they take a look and to forward any feedback to you. Your signature on your emails as well as your business cards should always include the URL for your new website. It wouldn’t be the worst thing either to join online groups that are in your business or that provide a similar service to yours. You don’t want to misrepresent yourself on these groups or try to use them to promote your product by any disingenuous means because you will do more harm than you might ever be able to rectify if you get a bad reputation within an industry group.
Where To Spend Your Money?
Once you’ve put together your website and a marketing plan to go along with it, you might want to considered spending some of your advertising dollars on a paid search campaign for your product or service. There are many opinions out there about the viability of this type of marketing but one thing is certain, this type of marketing isn’t best for every business or product all of the time. The best known of these campaigns are pay per click and pay per call and together they account for most of the paid search campaigns on the Internet. In essence, a pay per click campaign is one in which you bid to get the highest rankings on the search engines for a particular marketing word or phrase associated with your product or service.
It is important to keep in mind that while effective, this type of marketing can be very expensive so it is definitely not to be used without proper research as to its effectiveness in promoting your particular type of product and effectiveness based on the age of your business. Many experts will say that pay per click campaigns are best for online shopping businesses, where the relationship between how much you pay for the service and how much business is being generated by the campaign is easy to monitor and evaluate. The other value of a pay per click campaign is for quickly attracting a lot of traffic to your site in order to get a buzz started about your business.
If you pool your resources together in a concerted manner and proceed with your website design and construction and marketing plan all at the same time your business stands a much greater chance of success, to say nothing of the fact that you will probably save yourself a lot of money and aggravation. Do it right the first time and you’ll be able to focus your attention on building your business, rather than constantly putting out fires in it.
My take: Truer words could never be spoken than coming up with a coherent marketing plan from the get-go is by far the best way to get your Web-based business up and running. So many people simply build a website paying no attention to how the design and content of the site will help or hurt a marketing strategy, only to have to go back to the drawing board, and the bank, to get it right.
For some people who type an awful lot, there are some small options that are available for the average keyboard that will sometimes make it easier to type, especially if someone is living or working in a low-light situation. One thing that can be done is to purchase replacement laptop keys in a different color than what was obtained before so that something out of the corner of the typist\'s eye can act as a base for where the fingers need to be placed for typing. The different colors that are commonly used are red or blue and yellow.
There are a number of great opportunities for the average individual to start up a business and see it grow, and for anyone who has found an opportunity to grow with their established business, obtaining merchant financing is certainly an option that is likely to offer a company the chance for swift expansion and the opportunity to take advantage of a project which might require some funds for things like extra employees or additional equipment. Being able to bid on a project that comes up and is a great opportunity can lead to further financial success and business growth.
Most people think of USB drives as a device that can store some files or even programs, but they also have a pretty interesting application as far as locking a computer up is concerned. For the most part there are going to be a lot of ways that data can be compromised within a machine, but one really neat way to keep it all safe is to use promotional flash drives as virtual locks for the computer. It's actually possible to lock and unlock a computer by using a USB or flash drive simply by inserting or removing the device from the computer.
Not everyone uses a ton of printer ink, but the majority of individuals who do have computers will also have a printer on hand to print things out on occasion. This usually means that regular purchasing of Canon ink cartridges or whatever brand of printer a person has will be necessary to facilitate printing on a regular basis. Sometimes a printer won\'t be used that often, however, and this usually means that someone will need to think about printing something on a monthly basis just to make sure the ink doesn\'t dry up and become not usable.
Many individuals who are interested in finding employment have had to suffer through issues related to poor job creation in their chosen industry and so they have started a job search in a completely new industry where growth is expected for jobs and potential advancement. One of the fastest growing industries today that has weathered the financial crisis well is that of health care and the individuals who have chosen to train in such an area have found that employment choices have been abundant within many facets of health care and especially in assistant positions in areas like dentistry.
Some type of active investment is necessary today to ensure that a person will have enough money on which to live when they are older and have retired from work. Making sure that the New Jersey asset management firm with which a person or family works has experience in many different types of investment strategies will provide the safest options for retirement funding investment. There are many different ways in which a person can make sure that their future is secure and by smart diversification, an investor will obtain the safest financial rewards for their retirement years.
A form on a website is a pretty common thing these days, but sometimes it may take some special design work to ensure that customers are being funneled the right way to a particular web form. After using a web form builder to create the form and place it on the site, it\'s a good idea to make sure that customers have visible links around the website pointing them to the page where the form was housed. In this way, a company or website designer would be able to funnel clients to a specific page so that all customer service issues went through one zone.
A funny thing happened on the road to to fame and fortune. The public decided that they would have a say in where that road would lead and just how smooth (or not) the road was going to be. The Internet has given everyone with high speed access the belief that along with access to the World Wide Web comes the possibility of becoming rich and famous from it. For some that notion has become reality. Others have discovered the cruel reality that once you out there, the public can treat you and your reputation with the utmost disdain and disregard and there’s very little you can do about it; at least at first. But you do have tools at your disposal to manage your online reputation and depending on the nature of your business, service, or organization on the Web, you best be prepared to use these tools to the best of your ability.
Online Reputation Management
Once you have any type of presence on the Web you and/or your brand can achieve a great deal of notoriety. Brand building on the Web can happen overnight with the right campaign. However, there are no guarantees and just as the Web can be a marketing miracle, it can also provide others with a vehicle to trash you with everything from misleading information to old missteps you had hoped were long-since buried. The only way to combat those who would use the Internet to hurt your reputation or that of your company or organization is with a fully engaged, on-going reputation management campaign.
At its most basic, a reputation management campaign will begin with you choosing the right name for your website, one that has to do with the name of your company or the service you are providing, and you make sure to gain access to any adult entertainment sites that could use the same name. The best way to ruin your reputation is to have your name associated with adult, carnal pleasures. You’ll also want to make sure that the name you are choosing is also available on the social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook, and if not, be sure to find out who or what has it. Nothing like finding out that your company name is the same as a Facebook account featuring drunken frat boys.
Content is King
Be sure to post fresh content about you and your business or organization as often as possible. The search engines love new content as will those that you are trying to visit your Web site. Post content on new blogs about your company whether it be product news, new employees, or an upcoming event that you would like to make public. The same goes for press releases. These news updates are a great way to keep your company or organization name in the public eye and in a positive light. Content that is upbeat and flattering about your company will also help with the commentary and feedback that you receive from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter so be ever diligent in monitoring these sites to see what people are saying about you.
What Are They Saying About Me?
There are many outlets on the Web to find out what is being said about you or your company and to see any photos or anything else being posted about you. Remember, you can’t fight what people are saying if you don’t know what they are saying so stay one step ahead. There are various sites you can use to monitor what is being said or posted about you and many of them are also free of charge. Google Alerts, Reputation.com, Rhino 360 and Technorati are some of these and they can be very valuable in helping your to manage your online reputation. Reputation.com for instance will perform an in-depth search of your company name free of charge and will also monitor your personal data on the Web and alert you whenever your search phrase is mentioned online.
Another valuable service of Reputation.com is that when you use their service you have the ability to rate any links to your name or that of your company or organization as positive, negative, or neutral. Positive links can be promoted and used for your benefit.
Technorati is unique in that it ranks various websites in different categories so you can get a better idea for how your company is doing against your competitors.
Take Control Of Your Reputation
Nothing is harder than trying to undo something that is already done, especially putting the shine back on a reputation that has been trashed all over the Web. Think trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube. So as the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense and vice-versa. Get out in front and use all the tools available to you so that you are ready to combat those that would do you and the reputation of your business or organization any harm.
My take: It seems that combating someone or something hellbent on trashing you on the Web would be a task of monumental proportions. And that being the case, perhaps depending on your budget and just how important it is to you, it might be best to employ the services of a reputation management company to ensure that you are always being portrayed in the best light possible on the Web.
There are many ways to draw your target audience to your website but perhaps none are as effective as a well developed search engine optimization marketing plan, better known in the Internet marketing industry as SEO. While other methods of attracting viewers to your website such as pay per click marketing can also help you reach your intended audience, SEO is the basis for a longer term, comprehensive Internet marketing strategy that uses several techniques and strategies to gain a foothold for your website on the most popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
The most basic aspect of any search engine optimization strategy, or any marketing strategy for that matter, is in identifying your specific target audience. Who exactly do you want to reach? This will take a little more work than you think because there are several questions involved in zeroing-in on the audience that you are trying to attract. What does your audience want? Why do they want you? Or perhaps said in another way, What needs do they have that aren’t being met presently? You’ll want to know everything you can about their age, sex, geographic location, and as noted, what the heck do they want.
A comprehensive SEO strategy will take into account every detail and nuance about your target group and proceed from there to launch a multi-faceted marketing approach to get your website high enough in search engine rankings to reach this group. One leg of the approach will be in the use and proper positioning of quality content that is relevant o your target audience. A good SEO strategy will focus specific content on a particular market segment or topic while ignoring other content that might appear to be relevant but on closer inspection, not specific/targeted closely enough to the needs of the desired audience.
The Key To Using Keywords
Keyword research is critical to any SEO strategy. The keywords being used in an SEO campaign should be specific to what your targeting audience wants, not just a regurgitation of the content that is already on a particular website. It is important to rely on the expertise of your SEO company when it comes to this because quite often, the company that did your website design might not have sufficient marketing knowledge to have advised you properly about how important your content is for search engine optimization. Therefore, much of your original content, though perhaps entertaining and pertinent, might not be useful for SEO marketing.
You’ll want to do research in order to come up with specific keywords on a particular topic and then examine the content on your website to see if the needs of your targeted audience is being addressed by your content and product offerings, or more specifically, the way in which you are marketing your products or services. You’ll want to be sure that the the most useful and relevant keywords for your specific product or service are being used in highly visible locations on your website and in the metadata associated with your site.
If you really want to produce some robust search engine results, your content really does matter so rather than just filling pages, make sure that your content is working for you. SEO experts will tell you that search engines are getting very good at better understanding end evaluating how audiences react to the content on your website via social media such as Twitter and Facebook. The other thing that a good SEO company will tell you is that content needs to have the same appeal as would a live person telling the same story. Sounds crazy and difficult, but difficult and crazy as it may seem, content that sounds like it was written by a person with a definite point of view, rather than that which can be cranked out by a machine, will help your SEO rankings.
To that end remember that fresh content is good content so to the extent possible, the best SEO campaigns will put out new content on a daily basis via blogs, press releases, new client articles posted on the website; anything that tells a search engine that you’ve updated a page. You might find that after reviewing your website your SEO company wants to completely revamp the content on almost every page, particularly the home page. This is precisely because they are acutely aware that in order to make the most of your SEO dollars, your content plays a vital role in moving you up the rankings in the search engines.
SEO is Best
Of all of the Internet marketing tools at your disposal, search engine optimization provides the basis for the most profitable way to spend your Internet advertising dollars. When other types of Internet advertising vanishes into cyberspace the minute you stop paying for it, SEO will have helped you to gain a strong foothold with your search engine rankings as well as providing an invaluable means to assist you in building your brand.
My take: It seems like these days, you have to consult with and SEO company, or make sure that an SEO expert is part of your web development team, long before you ever build a new website. You can kill two birds with one stone by making sure that every page and every bit of content is working for you once it hits the net rather than building a site and then focusing on marketing. I’m not so sure that most people are aware of this as they try to reshape existing content to fit marketing needs rather than to have addressed these marketing issues while developing content.
Once you’ve designed and built a website that you are happy with for your business or organization, now you need to get eyes on it; meaning that you want people to see it. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of websites that might be similar to yours so getting your desired audience to actually see your website can take some doing. In order to drive traffic to your website you’ll need to understand a bit about Internet marketing, or hire a company that knows about how to best get your website seen by the clients you are targeting. It will pay for you to understand all of the options your Internet marketing company will present to you so that you can make the final decision as to what makes the most sense given your advertising budget. One of the more popular types of Internet marketing is pay per click, or PPC.
There are positive and negative aspects of pay per click Internet advertising so before signing on to this type of marketing campaign be sure to understand what you’re getting into. Pay per click is a great way to get traffic to your website instantly. However, you will be paying for that traffic and the more traffic, the more you pay. In its most basic form, pay per click is something of an auction process whereby you bid for ad position on one of the search engines such as Google. Bing, or Yahoo. If you’re bid is high enough you can get the top ranking in the sponsored results of these search engines. For example, if you bid 10 cents per click on the term “mobile homes” and you bid is the highest for that term, it’s likely that you’ll show up in the top spot. But also keep in mind that you will also be charged 10 cents every time someone clicks on that ad.
Watch Your Budget
Pay per click marketing can get very expensive as the example above illustrates. It is highly recommended that you hire a firm for seo and pay per click if you are not an expert with Google Adwords. If your business activity increases due to the traffic generated by your ppc ad campaign, meaning higher sales revenue, then this type of marketing will have been well worth the expense. However, if clicks don’t turn into revenue then it is money that could have been spent elsewhere. Another thing to keep in mind regarding pay per click advertising is that the most popular marketing terms, or keywords, will always command the highest price (highest bidding for them) so you might find yourself in something of a bidding war, the results of which can be very costly and perhaps a budget breaker. It is also important to bear in mind that the more traffic you get, the more you pay. There are other Internet marketing strategies whereby your advertising costs remain the same or can actually be scaled lower the more traffic you get but this is not the case with pay per click so keep in mind that the pay per click meter will be running and costing you money.
When you employ a pay for a pay per click campaign chances are the service that you are using will use several different search engines and other partners and content networks to get your website as high in the rankings as possible. While you will certainly want your site to be top dog with Google, Yahoo, Bing, and some of the other most popular search engines, you probably don’t want your advertising dollars being spent on lesser-known and less productive search engines. This will require careful management of your pay per click campaign because your results might look great insofar as your overall ranking, but if the ads aren’t generating more business for your company, what’s the point?
Confidence In Your Product or Service
Pay per click advertising is a great way to generate traffic to your site, especially if you are supremely confident in your product, and your advertisement. As noted just because you get a top ranking doesn’t mean that your sales revenue will increase. However, if you are confident visitors will be motivated to purchase your product or service because of the quality of your sales pitch as well as what you are pitching, then it makes sense to allocate advertising dollars in pay per click marketing. It will be a small price to pay versus the sales revenue that comes from the expense.
Best Uses For PPC Advertising
Pay per click advertising should always be considered as one part of your overall Internet marketing strategy, not the only part of that strategy. It works best for several types of campaigns but not all, and your product or service will likely benefit from a pay per click campaign that is correctly utilized. You don’t want to use a saw to drive a nail through a piece of wood.
PPC advertising is a great way to generate a buzz about a new product or service that you are offering. Think short term, targeted marketing where your goal is to get as many eyes as possible to your site quickly. PPC is also smart in this regard because after the initial buzz is really buzzing, you can quickly change the focus of a PPC campaign.
Online stores are also very good candidates for PPC campaigns because to some extent you can easily monitor how and if each paid click translates into a sale. And if your business happens to be something of a niche product, the cost for you to bid for that particular keyword won’t be anywhere near as high as it would be for a much more widely used term. In these instances, pay per click could be worth every dollar spent, especially if it gets people to spend their dollars on your products or service.
My take: I know several friends that have used pay per click advertising and for many of them the revenues generated didn’t justify the expense. I think that if you are going to use a pay per click ad campaign, or any other Internet marketing strategy, you really need to take out a piece of paper and pencil and do the math and see if it is worth it.
One of the issues that might impact whether a business decides to get a regular loan from a bank, which requires a lengthy application process or a merchant cash advance, which is generally much swifter is how swiftly the payments might need to be made to pay off the loan and how this might impact the payment schedule for such monetary opportunities. One of the benefits of a merchant cash advance is that such options usually offer far less time spent applying for the money and a fairly swift deposit, although they can represent a shorter timeline regarding repayment.
The average business today has a lot of data going through it into different computers and offices and when a particular file is being utilized by a few different people, taking a ZuZu Drive to store it and synchronize the file on a regular basis is going to be one of the best ways to ensure that people aren't working on different files and trying to put them together. There are a few different options that exist for synchronizing data and often the smallest and most portable solution is going to be the easiest method available.
The wave of digital marketing has been growing like a tsunami for quite some time so it comes as no surprise to anyone in the industry that this massive wave is closing-in on the shoreline and will soon submerge everything in its path. Perhaps the analogy is too dramatic considering the deadly force horrific consequences that follow in the wake of a tsunami, and only the most bitter Luddite would ever equate digital advertising to a deadly force. However, when it comes to the way in which online marketing has been gathering steam as a means to convey information to a chosen audience, a massive, surging flow that gathers momentum by swallowing everything in its path the analogy is only a little bit of a stretch.
Print Step Aside
Online marketing started with something of a bang, even if it was just a low volume, low level blast. Advertising in the digital age has progressed as has other aspects of all-things-digital; slowly at first with some clumsy fits and starts followed by incredible innovation, maturation, and now nearly complete infiltration into every corner of our lives. From slow-speed telephone modems and hour-long downloads for everything, to now being able to download music, movies, and business documents onto everything from a PCs and laptops to iPads and smart phones – to say nothing of having the entire Library of Congress at your fingertips, the digital explosion is nothing short of historic and will the subject of history texts (or whatever kids will be learning from then) 100 years from now.
Therefore, having stated the obvious, it comes as no surprise that a recent study regarding online advertising indicates that for the first time ever, online digital advertising will overtake all print advertising in terms of dollars spent in 2012. Indeed, eMarketer, and industry analyst states that in 2012 spending in the U.S on digital advertising will increase by more than 23% to just under $40 billion, and it doesn’t look like there’s anything that will stop this wave from taking over the entire advertising industry.
If you think about it, there’s no reason why advertisers, and more to the point, the brands and organizations they represent, would not continue to invest their precious advertising budgets in the medium that the target audience is using most often. And these days the best target audience is the young demographic, all of whom are completely wired for sight and sound.
Online Is The Place To Be
Research conducted by experts in the marketing industry indicates that online advertising will continue to grow in double digits right into 2014 (provided of course that the Mayan calendar isn’t right about a fateful day in December 2012) when they expect spending in digital advertising in the U.S. to reach $52.8 billion. That figure is expected to reach $62 billion by 2016, and by that time, print advertising will see nothing but a faint image far, far ahead in the distance.
The biggest casualties of the growth in digital advertising have been more traditional media outlets such as magazines and newspapers. Spending on magazine and newspaper ads is expected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $34 billion, nothing to sneeze at but now at a level where it is looking up and not down at digital advertising revenue. These more traditional outlets will continue to find that advertising on print versions of their products will likely decline and therefore they will have to remain nimble to how and were they marshal their resources. Many of these traditional media outlets also have digital versions of their products so they would be well-served in ensuring that these products i.e. online versions of their newspapers and magazines, are appealing to advertisers and that they have the eyes and ears of the demographic being targeted by new age advertisers.
TV Still Hot
An interesting aspect of the report on digital advertising is that television advertising dollars are expected to rise at nearly the same if not more than that of online advertising and should still outpace online advertising by some $10 billion into 2016, where the total for TV ads is projected to be $72 billion. There are many reasons to believe that TV will remain a hot advertising medium for quite some time, not the least of which is that TV remains a popular electronic communication device for almost every age group and the innovations that continue to be part of new TV’s has only added to their popularity. Interactive TV and Web TV are just two of many new technological upgrades that make TV so popular.
Advertising To Remain Strong
Industry analysts see overall spending on advertising across the board growing by nearly 7% in 2012 to approximately $170 billion, and tremendous number considering the overall state of the economy and the depths of the recession that still grips so many segments of the economy. Indeed, the jobs market is still sluggish so no matter how many ads you throw at an unemployed person, chances are that he or she won’t be buying your product. However, with a presidential election coming in the fall, campaign advertising is filling-in very nicely at a time when the economy might suggest that other businesses and organizations would be keeping their powder dry.
My take: The fact that more and more advertisers are using digital media for the ad campaigns isn’t shocking considering the extent to which most people are attached to their devices. You have to fish where the fish are and that certainly seems to apply to where companies spend their advertising dollars….online!
Enhancing traffic for a business is a full time job in some circumstances and it\'s often important to make sure that any new company that is putting itself out on the web is able to enhance traffic levels naturally over time and gain a reputable following on the internet which would be enhanced through opportunities to buy traffic and cultivate a higher reputation for a website that people would want to visit. For many people who are otherwise likely to enjoy visiting a website, they will usually come back while other individuals will only be brought back if they are given an incentive.
It is interesting and somewhat ironic to note the acclaim being showered on AMC’s hit series, “Mad Men.” It’s not that the show lacks for entertainment value, quality writing or outstanding performances by the actors and actresses. The irony lies in the incredible popularity of a dramtic, made-for-TV series about a New York advertising agency set in a time when the advertising industry couldn’t more different than it is today. Granted the 1960′ advertising company backdrop for the series is simply a vehicle used to depict the shifting social and political norms of that era, still it is interesting to note that the advertising business back then looks nothing like the advertising business today; and that includes the sharkskin suits versus, well whatever the casual business person feels like wearing to work these days.
Technology Takes Over
Advertising is not unlike any other business insofar as the degree to which technology has infiltrated and influenced every function in virtually every industry. And to make an even more obvious point, the reach of new technology is by no means limited to business as one brief glance around nearly any household in the Western world will attest to how technology is changing the way we all live. In advertising of the Mad Men era, the most important part of a successful TV, radio, or print marketing campaign was the pitch line, the pitcher (actors), and getting the message out to a mass audience, which didn’t require knowledge of too many vehicles for the message.
These days, advertisers are competing for audience attention across a wide spectrum of vehicles, all of which require in-depth knowledge of not only the medium but also the audience using that particular medium. From laptop and desktop computers, to television, radio, smart phone, iPads, and probably a few other digital devices scheduled to hit the market tomorrow, advertisers these days have to be experts on what works on what device, and that is no easy task. Between 2010 and 2011 the number of people that became “multi-screen” consumers, meaning that they watched more than one source for their information, doubled.
Advertisers competing in today’s market have to stay on their feet like no other time in the industry because there is no guarantee that their well-orchestrated campaign will reach their intended audience when and how they planned it in the first place. The way people “get acquainted” with brands and the message being delivered by the brand is so fragmented these days that advertisers have to embrace an entirely new means of communication to make their point. The advent of social media in particular has ushered-in an era whereby the old school method of a brand directing a message at an audience no longer works and that now, finding a method and means to establish two-way communication between product and public is essential for successful brand building.
With so many messages coming at everyone all the time, advertisers are also acutely aware that having more ways to reach an intended audience could very well mean that that audience has more ways to turn you off. Indeed, the wrong message or a really bad message can spread faster than a California wildfire in August given the ways in which people communicate across a broad spectrum of media and digital devices. At the same time, the digital age can make your audience and advocacy group for your product like never before.
Word of mouth advertising has always been the best advertising for some businesses, i.e. local restaurants, and these days social media outlets have turned this age old axiom into gold for those advertisers and brands smart enough to make good use of the many facets of social media outlets. The smart guys in the Sterling Cooper advertising Agency seen on AMC every Sunday evening could never have imagined that there would be a time in their business when a brand could become a household word among multiple millions of people in a just a few days and that most of the advertising would be done by not the agency, but the general public via social media outlets like Facebook.
The advertisers that will be most successful are those that grasp the notion that in a very short time almost every area of the home or office that isn’t wired now will be. They’ll have to find new and better ways to interact with their audience through devices that will be connected to the work area in the garage, basement, workout space, just about everywhere and anywhere a new device made by the the electronics industry is attached.
At the end of the day, advertising is still all about people and the technology that is used to reach people. That is the simple version of the equation. The detailed version is that people are defined in ways ow that must include those in the entire global marketplace, which is no easy task and technology is changing faster than this writer can finish this article. So staying one step ahead of new technology and how to use it in advertising and marketing is now a job for an entirely new breed of Mad Men.
My take: New technology for advertisers would seem to be a blessing and a curse. It’s always easy when things are more simple. But like they say, ‘if it were easy, everyone would do it.’ To stay ahead of the curve in reaching today’s global audience takes a combination of skills and natural abilities that would seem to encompass many different fields of interest. Advertisers need to be technology, psychology, and artistry experts, and that is probably only the tip of the iceberg.
The last thing that any kid wants to hear about in June is back-to-school shopping; and that goes double for their parents. At this point in the year most parents are keeping their fingers crossed that little Johnnie and Jane’s report card won’t send their blood pressure soaring, that they are indeed being promoted to the next grade (though no one gets “left back” anymore) and pondering ‘what the heck are we doing with them for the summer?’ Besides, many families couldn’t even afford last year’s back-to school shopping spree so what makes advertisers think that the kids or their parents are going to be enthusiastic about Teen Vogue’s latest advertising campaign, “Back-to-School Saturday,” which they are promoting as yet another national shopping day to be “celebrated” on August 11.
Teen Vogue is being joined by a host a marketing firms, retailers, and hopefully and enthusiastic public, in turning August 11 into another national shopping day similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, for this particular day the sales, free samples, and in-store and online events will all be geared toward kids and their parents who will be shopping for their back-to-school supplies and clothing. The teen magazine has already enlisted two dozen advertisers to join them in this new promotion, all of them with business connections to retail shopping for children’s school items.
Some of the retailers that have already agreed to be part of the kiddie extravaganza are Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Express, Guess, H&M, Maybelline N.Y., Pacific Sunwear, Quicksilver, Staples and Vans. A number of Proctor & Gamble brands have also signed-on to the project those being Cover Girl, Olay, Pantene, and Tampax.
The decision makers at Teen Vogue, which is one of the many mags in the Conde Nast empire of publications, believe that the idea of a national shopping day centered around ”back-to-school” buying is not only an ideal promotion for all involved but they also think that their demographic – young teenage girls – will take to it like adults take to the Christmas shopping season, hopefully with a lot less grumpiness and a “No Fight for Parking Spots in the Mall” rule.
The organizers of the mid-summer shopping spree say that this promotion is a real opportunity for everyone involved because this demographic looks at shopping for back-to- school supplies, clothing, and electronics as one of the major shopping times of the year. However no one has organized it on a much larger scale, and certainly not with all the fanfare that Teen Vogue is preparing to kick-off the inauguration of what they believe will become an American shopping tradition. For most American families with school age children the back to school season is a somewhat random, sporadic event with parents and kids stretching out their purchases over about 8-12 weeks and fitting it in between summer recreation, vacation, and anything but thinking about school. In fact, parents tend to put off shopping for their kid’s school needs almost as much as their kids put off doing their homework and school projects.
Organizers of this event say that while shopping for back-to-school supplies is spread out through the summer, most buying does indeed take place in the second and third week of August. Therefore they chose Saturday, August 11 as the day to launch, “Get, ready, get set, get shopping!”
The retailers who will participate in the event say that they will use the date to promote their own specials, discounts, one-day sales, and other such promotions, much as they might for Black Friday, which unofficially kicks-off the Christmas shopping season. For instance, Staples has already said that for Back-To-School Saturday they will offer a “Back-To-School” savings pass, which will cost shoppers a mere $10 and will offer them 15% off all of their schools supplies for the rest of the school shopping season.
One retailer that seems particularly excited about the first annual event notes that his company finds that consumers are becoming more and more excited about what he calls, “event-based” shopping and this event certainly falls into that category. He was more than happy to be part of Teen Vogue’s school shopping campaign and expects that his products (sunglasses specifically designed for teens) will do well in the promotion.
Of course Teen Vogue is hoping to make hay from their promotion, and who can blame them. Advertisers with the magazine are being offered an opportunity to be part of Back-To-School Saturday if they agree to increase their business with the magazine, whether that is in print or digital marketing of some sort. Teen Vogue says that it will spend thousands of dollars promoting the event and that they will use their experience with other such promotions such as “Teen Vogue Fashion University” as a template for advertising, promoting and running their latest marketing campaign. At the end of the day, everyone involved in the project is hoping that “Back-To-School Saturday” becomes a permanent shopping day on the American retail calendar.
My take: Like so many other things I hear about I can’t help thinking, “why didn’t someone come up with this sooner?” It sounds like a great idea and as long as the timing is right I can’t see how anyone involved stands to lose at all. Pulling resources together to focus shopper’s attention on a special day for products that you know they have to buy sometime before Labor Day sounds like a great idea.
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A favorite uncle of mine always used to say to me, “Hey, you for real or you for fake.” I’m not sure what he was driving at but I guess it had something to do with him telling me to be real, and not to be a phony as I was growing up. Ah, the wisdom of wise old uncle with bad English. Uncle Tony’s famous line definitely applies to any number of ads that we see on television or in print where the model looks way, way too perfect. And now, with everyone being as deft with Photo Shop as they are with a knife and fork, we can rest assured that real people don’t really look like that and these advertising models are indeed, “for fake.” And the degree to which a model is “touched-up” for a particular ad might actually matter.
Last year the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau declared that the a particular Cover Girl advertisement featuring Taylor Swift was not truthful or accurate because of the excessive airbrushing that went into giving her luxurious lashes that were seen in the ad but that no one will ever get from their product. While execs in the fashion and cosmetics industry will argue that a little touching up is SOP with the models used in their advertisements, others note that you can’t enhance a picture being used to sell a product if the picture is a false representation of what that product will do for the consumer. The company was smart enough to pull the ad before it came under greater scrutiny.
However, that has not kept the entire advertising industry from being put under the spotlight regarding the practice of enhancing images way beyond what logic and common sense might otherwise dictate. The regulators are now much more aware of this practice and they are now hot on the trail of the worst offenders due to more and more product claims, manipulated media images, more scrutiny from industry reporters and analysts, all of which are only too happy to be the first to break a story about any impropriety they uncover, and more and more political fallout because of what some say is deceptive advertising.
The crackdown on these phony ads hasn’t been as well-received as many might have thought with the common sentiment being something to the effect, ‘No kidding. What took you so long to catch on. It’s been ticking us off for years,’ or some variations on that theme. And its not just in the U.S. where the inherent beauty of advertising beauties is being called into question . British lawmakers have rejected the use of airbrushing as misleading in many celebrity cosmetic ads while this past March Israel became the first country to pass a law banning the practice all together.
Such drastic measures would never happen in the U.S. given the rules and guidelines governing the advertising industry. However, fashion and industry executives are also in the public relations business so they will be sure to pay careful mind to public opinion regarding product claims, and deceptive portraits depicting their products or risk the backlash that could very well follow.
Those that work in the fashion and cosmetic industry note that photographers have long used lighting techniques, hair enhancements of every sort possible, and other photographer sharpie insider tricks to make a photo shoot, and especially the subject of the shoot, that much more visually appealing. However, with Photo Shop and much more sophisticated programs like it now available to even the most novice adman, the touch-ups can be turned into complete recreations, and nothing close to reality. Therein lies the problem that advertisers and the companies that they represent have to very mindful of as they move forward with the new tools at their disposal.
However, this is a battle that some in the business will relish and others will decide that it isn’t the one that they choose to fight, depending on who is lined-up against them. The American Medical Association has suggested to the advertising industry that they consult with regarding limiting unrealistic depictions of models that are the AMA says have been linked to mental and eating disorders among younger, vulnerable teens.
My take: It comes as no surprise that the advertising industry does the same thing as every other industry out there, which is to use every tool at its disposal to do their job. However, when they cross the line into deceptive business practices do believe that they need to be reminded that they have gone too far and it seems like that is the case now with them coming under the watchful eye of the regulators.
In an attempt to rescue itself from financial collapse the execs at JC Penny launched an advertising campaign back in February that they hoped would help to reverse the fortunes of the ailing retail giant. Their idea: simple pricing across the board. The heads of JC Penny believed that one of the ways in which to bring consumers back to their stores was to simplify things by discounting everything once and eliminating all of the multiple sales conducted during the course of the year, which they felt, were annoying and confusing to consumers. The sales would go and along with them all of the costs associated with advertising these events such as fliers, coupons, radio and TV spots, and new media advertising specifically geared to store sales.
The results have been, well, in a word, horrible. Sales at JC Penny were off by more than 20% in their stores during the first quarter of 2012, compared to Q1 2011, while foot traffic in their stores is also off by more than 10%. And that’s hardly the worst of it. In the first quarter of 2011, JCPenny stores earned $64 million. In the first quarter of this year they lost $163 million. Hardly the results that the ailing retail giant was hoping for.
Advertising industry experts say that Penny’s plan was ill-conceived from the start because rather than attracting customers, their fair and simple pricing strategy actually kept them away. This is because of what has come to be known in the industry as shroud pricing, or in simple terms, hidden pricing. So why you ask would consumers be annoyed by a major retailer removing the shroud and making shopping a much less complicated process? Well, that’s a little complicated, but it has to do with the way American consumers have be conditioned to shop.
A savvy shopper, and these days who can afford not to be a savvy shopper, understands that behind every price tag there is another layer of costs that only show up once you buy the item. The consumer product most often used to illustrate the point is a printer. You may very well get a great deal on a new printer, but the printer is only a small part of the cost of printing. The real cost comes when you have to purchase ink for the printer, which is quite expensive and almost impossible to comparison shop due to the inexact nature of the ink products being used in different machines. Therein lies the shrouded price of buying a printer.
It’s not like consumers like or appreciate the notion of shrouded or hidden costs, its just that we’ve been conditioned to dig through them to find what we believe are bargains or paths to cheaper prices for the items that we are looking for. It’s the “thrill of the hunt” where JC Penny’s advertising and marketing campaign missed the point. For one thing, by educating consumers as to the bottom line, bare bones price of their products, they went ahead and armed American shoppers with the information that they would need to find bargains in other retail stores.
Industry experts in marketing and consumer behavior say that this shrouding pricing is the only way for retailers to make profit while at the same time playing up to and into a shopping game that consumers are only to happy to play. In fact, most relish the idea of finding the very best deal on an item on their own, rather than walking into one store that claims to have the lowest prices right from the start. One of the biggest mistakes JC Penny made in their marketing strategy according to insiders is in telling the public, in essence, that you will only get the lowest rock-bottom price from a retail store when they have a sale. Consumers responded by waiting until the other stores had a sale and then shopped there instead of at their nearest JC Penny store.
The other aspect of Penny’s pricing plan that perhaps they didn’t think through as carefully as they might have is that some people don’t mind spending more money in order to save themselves some time. For instance, there are some shoppers that will drive to five different gas stations in order to save 5 cents per gallon. Others don’t mind paying 10 cents more per gallon to go to one particular station close to their house, which by the way, also pumps the gas for you. By not fully comprehending or appreciating that fact, JC Penny gave up quite a bit of revenue that they might have earned from shoppers that would have gladly paid an additional $10 or $20 for a particular item because it was there and available at the time they happened to be shopping at JC Penny, rather than foregoing that item in the hopes of finding it at a better price at another store.
At the end of the day, JC Penny now has a huge problem on its hands because its not going to be easy for them to to return “shrouded pricing” to their stores and the present pricing model they are using is driving them into financial ruins.
My take: It is indeed a shame that this is the reality of shopping but not being a shopper I don’t really understand it all that much. I do shop based on price most of the time but there are certainly times when out of convenience I will pay a little more for certain items. I would’ve thought that JC Penny and their marketing executives would be fairly well educated about all of these issues and the possible problems with their new marketing plan long before deciding to go down a one-way bridge to nowhere.
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