Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What is up with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)?

I've been hearing all this stuff about the growing popularity of UFC. Therefore, I decided to see for myself. I will say that I found some interesting results in my quest to see what is driving all the buzz.

The UFC is gaining in popularity. It is receiving higher ratings than the NBA. An ESPN poll on their front page, UFC 71 was the most anticipated sporting event of last weekend (Memorial Day weekend 2007), beating out NBA, NHL, and Indy 500. Also, two of its wrestlers were recently featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. Interestingly, buzz about the sport surpassed both the NFL and NBA recently. The NBA playoffs are currently in session! This makes it even more compelling.

The trend graph below depicts buzz patterns. The NFL garners a lot of discussion online due to the NFL Draft. However, buzz about UFC eclipses both the NFL and NBA as a result of being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated toward the end of May 2007.

I would like to point out that the NFL is currently in off-season. As you can see, it still receives a substantial amount of discussion by bloggers talking about the NFL Draft. The interesting finding relates to it getting more discussion in the blogosphere than the NBA. The NBA playoffs are currently underway. Also, a key reason for an increase in discussion relates to UFC getting exposure from being featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. A little publicity can sure go a long way!

Personally, I feel UFC should find ways to get its name out in mainstream media more often. Also, some of its wrestlers may want to consider creating blogs and updating them periodically. Wrestlers who blog may help create additional buzz and fan interaction. For example, Curt Schilling of Major League Baseball (MLB) has a blog at http://38pitches.com. I swear that every post Curt makes receives at least 50 comments. It is unreal!

The trend graph below shows similar results to the one above. UFC receives more buzz by consumers posting on their blogs than MLB toward the end of May 2007.

The timeline graph below shows website traffic patterns for the UFC, NFL, NASCAR, NBA and MLB according to Alexa.com. The majority of consumers are visiting the NBA.com and MLB.com. However, it is important to note that there is a recent increase in consumers visiting UFC's website around the end of May 2007. UFC's website traffic still doesn't rival NBA or MLB, which are in season. Also, web traffic for the NFL will pick up considerably once its season is under way. However, it is promising to see the popularity of UFC growing.

The UFC seems very interesting to watch. I haven't been able to watch it yet; however, I will make a valid attempt to look at it over the next few weeks. I am interested to see what other people think about the UFC in the mean time. Feel free to leave a comment telling why you are drawn to the UFC.

Disclaimer: I want to state that these findings only show the amount of discussion in the blogosphere. Discussion about the NBA, MLB and NFL may infact be higher than UFC if all available sources are reviewed (i.e. chatroom discussion, video content, podcasts, discussion forums, Usenet groups, etc...). Also, I haven't compared UFC buzz to any other MMA league (IFL, KOTC, etc.). I will see if I can provide more in-depth analysis at a later date.

You can find out more about UFC by checking out Adam Morgan's blog over at Sprawl N' Brawl.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Companies Focus on Being "Eco-Friendly"

Environmental discssion is on the rise as more consumers become concerned about the environment. It is important for marketers to know if consumers view them as an "Eco-friendly" company. Companies associated with environmental protection give consumers another reason to do business with them. The chart below provides a breakout showing companies mentioned most within "Eco-friendly" and sustainability discussion.

Wal-Mart comes up most frequently among corporations within sustainability discussion. Recent discussion regarding Wal-Mart and the environment relates to it announcing their plans of having their whole operations powered by energy from the sun and other renewable sources of power. Toyota and Lexus are the only Automotive brands mentioned within the Top 10, and are generally perceived as positive in this light.

The trend chart below shows increasing discussion about Wal-Mart's initiative to use more solar power.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Amex Promotes "The Members Project"

Here is a great idea that American Express has come up with relating to social responsibility. Cardmembers need only register on the site. They have the ability to submit an idea for a social project, such as rebuilding a school in New Orleans. The ideas are voted on by members of the site, and for each member that joins, American Express kicks in money (up to $5 million), with the winning idea getting funded! Overall, this seems like a great idea. Consumer sentiment toward the idea is extremely positive.

Here is what a few consumers have said:

"Kudos to American Express for doing something that's actually engaging, and paints the brand in a positive light. Unlike most advertisers, they actually are putting some real money behind the effort, in a way that makes sense, and certainly provides some incentive to participate." Randomcultureblog

"This morning, I received an invitation from American Express to join The Members Project. American Express cardholders get to submit service project ideas, read about other projects, and in the end, help decide where to direct a $5 million donation. I think it is a brilliant move that has great lessons for Rotary Clubs and other nonprofits. In a busy world, nonprofits work ever harder to get people involved involved with their organizations, build distinctive brand identity and get input on where they can have a real impact. How does American Express branding initiative compare to other successful nonprofit ventures? What can we learn that can help us shape our own projects and campaigns?" Innovate Rotary I highly recommend reading this blog for additional insight about American Express' "Members Project."

The graph above tells a compelling story regarding the buzz about American Express' newest cause marketing initiative. Popularity for "The Members Project" is due to the fact that consumers find the initiative interesting. Additionally, consumers like the celebrity element and the fact they can particpate by submitting their own ideas. Greg Krauska at Innovate Rotary comments on the celebrity aspect of "The Members Project" by comparing it to American Idol. He says, "And just like American Idol, there is a celebrity element to this. The 50 project finalists will be chosen by a diverse Advisory Panel, including Gabrielle Reece, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Wynton Marsalis,Geoff Canada, Ellen DeGeneres, Icon_wynton Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr.Michael Lomax. The diversity of backgrounds and professions of these panelists will make for some really interesting commentary. I can't wait!"

American Express' Members Project Buzz Trend

The project launched May 15, 2007. It will be interesting to see if additional buzz accumulates.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ray Ban "Guy Catches Glass With Face"

Here is an interesting video I found courtesy of Scott over at Blogger Says What. It is a great example of social media. It was forwarded to him from Kevin at Socially Adept. Kevin is notorious for finding cool things to blog about. I'm insanely jealous since he is the content king (just kidding)! However, I do want to know exactly what Kevin does all day to find this stuff?

Hillary Clinton Needs Your Help

Here is the latest video from Hillary Rodham-Clinton requesting voters to help her select a campaign song. I feel this illustrates the importance that social media is having on the 2008 presidential campaign.

The video posted on May 16, 2007 and there are 4,682 views and 43 comments. People commenting have mixed opinions. Some make fun of her by referencing Bill Clinton's campaign song, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow!" However, other people offer suggestions such as "Fly Like An Eagle" by Steve Miller.

I have some verbatim comments listed below:

"My Suggestion: Mr. Big - I'm Too Sexy I want you to sing this in public when you win!! LOL!! Go Hillary 2008!" crazychadd

(crazychadd - Right Said Fred sang "I'm Too Sexy," not Mr. Big).

"how about "One Love" by Mary J. Blige & Bono??" soccershorti717

"I'm a Republican and I thought this was a very cool video" EvilShogo

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Milford Dental Excellence's Blog

I've been using all of my wonderful marketing knowledge to help a local dental office, Milford Dental Excellence,improve its search engine rankings. Also, I am helping them start a blog. Feel free to take a look and provide feedback. This is my first time consulting with a small business. I'm actually helping them for free in hopes of getting some really good experience with search engine optimization (SEO) while introducing them to the world of consumer generated media (CGM)!

Milford Dental Excellence
Milford Dental Excellence Blog

I have listed current Google rankings for some of our targeted terms below:

milford dentists = # 10
milford dentist = #2
milford dentists ohio = #5

Wish me luck! Feedback is greatly appreciated!

Monday, May 14, 2007

What triggers conversation? What can you control?

It is the goal of every marketer to find out what works? Which marketing initiatives trigger consumers to use your product? What things do you as a marketer have control over? The picture above shows a variety of weapons that marketers have at their disposal. Some generate high consumer acceptance, but you as a marketer have little control over them. Complaint feeback sites, boards / forums and consumer blogs are all examples of things that put consumers in control. They may talk about your product freely and there is little that a marketer can do. However, I'm not saying that all hope is lost. Marketers do have a lot of control over their brands' website, customer service, paid search and adding a human touch.

The graph below illustrates consumers' overall level of trust. As you can see, consumers tend to trust one another. Interesting, consumers also show a high level of trust toward brand websites. This is also one of the key areas that marketers have control over. Therefore, a key component of any marketing strategy should be make sure a brand website is constantly updated with the most recent information. Additionally, a brand website may be used as a launching pad to engage and interact with current or potential customers.

Pete Blackshaw provides a great example about how Volkswagen leverages its website by allowing consumers to find what they need. Look for the post titled "Where Do You Want to Drive (On Our Brand Search Engine) Today?" You can also find it through Technorati Tags: cgm, naked, noah breyer, search, volkswagon

Monday, May 07, 2007

Employees Play Big Part in Brand Innovation

The night before the Association of National Advertisers' first Brand Innovation Forum, four marketing executives gathered; Their hosts for the evening: ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice and Advertising Age Editor Jonah Bloom and CMO Strategy Editor Jennifer Rooney. What drew Clorox VP-Marketing, Laundry and Home Care Tarang Amin, Wells Fargo Senior VP-Brand Strategy Katy Frohling, JetBlue VP-Sales and Marketing Andrea Spiegel and Home Depot Senior VP-CMO Roger Adams. The executives discussed a variety of issues about how to keep both old and new brands relevant. The executives discussed whether it's possible to get a link between marketing and brand equity; and why authenticity in brand messaging is vital. Interestingly, discussion changed to focusing on the role employees play in an organizations efforts to innovate. All four executives said their employees are a critical link to consumer understanding and, in turn, successful innovation.

Katy Frohling, senior VP-brand strategy, Wells Fargo said "our employees are called team members, and we regularly survey not only our customers but our team members on a monthly basis, because we get some amazing ideas -- what we call the "lighting ideas" -- from our front line."

I couldn't agree more with Katy. It is important to regularly survey customers and team members (i.e. employees) to get ideas. I have a few reasons listed below.

Why Survey Employees?

1. Gain significant insight - Employees are on the front line of your business everyday. They know what problems your customers are experiencing with your business. Additionally, they can provide feedback so you may help them become more productive workers.

2. Employees like to be heard - Employees like to see an employer implement some of their ideas. It makes them feel better as an employee, making them more productive and interested in improving themselves and their position within your company.

3. Boost morale - Asking your employees for feedback makes them feel important. It lets them know you care, but remember that you cannot stop there. You must review their feedback and find ways to implement their suggestions. Also, don't forget to reward employees with truly outstanding ideas and remember to thank everyone for their input.

It is very important to include employees in brand innovation. They are the heart and soul of any organization. It is important to let them voice their ideas and concerns to improve their work environment. Besides, happy employees equals happy customers.

Source: Ad Age