Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Twitter 10 Commandments

David Armano has published the Twitter 10 Commandments. Are you breaking any of these?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top Twitter Tools in 2009

Here is a sweet list of the top Twitter tools to look at in 2009.

Let me know if you've tried any of these out. Also, what do you think of them?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Social Media Trends for 2009

Taly Weiss and Apurba Sen have posted some social media trends to look out for in 2009 on Trendspotting.com/blog.

United Airlines Responds

I recently sent United Airlines an email requesting information about a corporate blog. I received a response at 11:54 PM EST December 24, 2008. That's right, United Airline's sent me a response on Christmas Eve. While I am thankful for a the response, the timing is a bit odd. Here is United Airlines' response:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr. Coyle,

I appreciate your request for the information regarding the blog of United Airlines.
Mr. Coyle, your complimentary comments about our magazine is especially appreciated. Please know that United does not have a blog.
Than you for your interest in United. We look forward to serving you again.

Regards,
Shailesh Singh
United Airlines Customer Relations

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Again, I'm glad to see United Airlines respond to my email. Additionally, it looks like someone actually read my email and responded accordingly. It is much better than a simple "canned" response telling me that I'm a great customer, which is what I was expecting.

Overall, I feel United Airlines could really benefit by participating in social media. It doesn't necessarily need a blog; however, it should start by listening to consumers online at a minimum. Influential blogs such as Consumerist are always posting things about the brand online. For example, Consumerist recently published a post about a man suing United Airlines over getting him drunk and causing him to beat his wife. The article has received 12,500+ views and 59 comments on Consumerist alone. I'm sure that won't bode well for United Airlines. United Airlines, are you listening?

Does anyone know if United Airlines monitors discussion about its brand online?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Salvation Army Dabbles in Social Media

'Tis the season to be "giving." The Salvation Army is now using social media to increase donations.

Now, if only the Salvation Army accepted debit cards. I always find myself walking by a Salvation Army volunteer unable to give as I primarily carry debit and credit cards only.

I'm sure Visa and MasterCard could cut a deal to lower interchange fees for the sake of giving.

Has Anyone Tried ReTweet Radar?

Steve Rubel provides some insight about ReTweet Radar. This looks like a unique tool to help assess which topics are being discussed actively on Twitter. I'll have to check this out.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Consumers Seeking More Advice on Blogs

A study by Jupiter Research on behalf of BuzzLogic found half of blog readers consider blogs useful when making purchases and more than half of this group report consulting blogs just before making a purchase.

Source: The New York Times

Still Waiting for United Airlines to Respond












Here is another letter that I submitted to United Airlines on December 22, 2008. I sent a letter to them early December, but I did not get a response.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To Whom It May Concern:

Upon returning home from New York City on Friday, November 21, 2008 (United Flight #7147) connecting in Washington DC, I decided to take a glance at the United Airlines "HEMISPHERES" magazine.
. I came across an interesting article titled,"The Business of Blogging". Overall, I thought the article made some very valid points. In fact, the author, Ethan G. Salwen recommends businesses integrate websites and blogs.

The article captivated my attention. I never thought an airline magazine could present such and interesting article. Reading up on the article peaked my interest in whether United Airlines, or it subsidiaries has a blog. I asked the flight attendant but she was unaware.

I did some basic Google searches, but I was unable to find out whether United has a blog.

Could someone at United Airlines please let me know if a corporate blog exists?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'll make sure to update everyone whether United Airlines responds this time around.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top 100 Marketers for 2008

Invesp.com highlights the top 100 Marketers for 2008.

Ford Redesigned Santa's Sled

Check this out! Ford redesigned Santa's sled.

I wonder how many miles per gallon this thing gets.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Should Companies Blog Last?

Geoff Livingston on The Buzz Bin feels that companies are failing at blogging and participating in social media. Part of the reason is due to the fact that 86% of companies cannot dedicate the effort required to publish useful content on a consistent basis.

Overall, I have to say that I agree with this. I volunteered some time to help a local dental office in my area create a blog and optimize their website for better search engine results. They now appear in among the top rankings across multiple search engines for the term "dentists in milford ohio", but they haven't updated the company blog since April 2008.

Blogging is hard. It requires work, but it is very rewarding. Additionally, it is one of the most cost effective ways to communicate with customers if a company goes about it the right way. Unfortunately, most companies do not.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Still No Response from United Airlines

I published a posting about how United Airlines talks the talk, but does not walk the walk when it comes to corporate blogging on November 26, 2008. I even sent the a quick email to someone in the company, but I have yet to get a response.

I'll cut them some slack since it's the holidays and email them again. Expect a blitz of Twitter messages about United Airlines' lack of customer service if they fail to respond by January 5, 2009.

Don't Forget the Audience

Craig Daitch at Adage stresses the importance tracking comments and trackbacks for general audiences online.

Dell tweets bring in $1 million

During the past 18 months, computer maker Dell has raked in $1 million in revenue from sale announcements made via Twitter. Twitter has yet to announce how it will monetize its service, but announcements such as Dell's might help it make the case for selling paid corporate accounts.

Source: VentureBeat

Could Twitter Dabble in Online Search?

Does Twitter have a place in online search? You could "Google" it or "Twitter" it. I brought up the possiblity of another search engine trumping Google in a posting titled, New Search Engine Popping Up in August, 2008.

Does anyone have thoughts on Twitter becoming a potential player in online search?

Vizedu Helps People Understand Social Media

Very cool site on understanding social media visually: Vizedu.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Secrets to Engaging Consumers Online

The Wall Street Journal published an article providing several tips engage consumers through social media marketing.

Key themes include:
1. Don't just talk at consumers -- work with them throughout the marketing process.
2. Give consumers a reason to participate.
3. Listen to -- and join -- the conversation outside your site.
4. Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell.
5. Don't control, let it go.
6. Find a 'marketing technopologist.'
7. Embrace experimentation.

This list is pretty strong, but I'd like to add one more. This may tie into embracing experimentation, but your company should make sure to know who is talking about them online. Identify key influencers talking positively and negatively about your brand or its products. Don't be afraid to reach out to influencers periodically.

Does anyone else have any other ideas to add to this list?

A Little Problem....

I published a post about Kmart enlisting bloggers last week. Apparently, there is a bit of a snafu surrounding Jeremiah Owyang calling out Chris Brogan. Jeremiah insinuates that Chris is not authentic in his Twitter post. Visit Technosailor.com for more details.

More Companies are Dabbling in Social Media

David Ranii at Newsobserver.com emphasizes the growing popularity of social media marketing. He points out that social-media marketing is spreading as companies including SAS, Red Hat, Blue Cross and others recognize the benefits of blogs, online video and social-networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and more.

Ranii says, "According to Forrester Research, the number of social-media "spectators" -- people who read or watch social media -- has increased from 48 percent last year to 69 percent of people who venture online."

Personally, I feel more companies will engage in social media marketing in 2009. Marketers will have to find better ways to measure the impact that social media expenditures have on sales given the current state of the economy.

What Will Social Media be Like in 2009?

Peter Kim takes a shot at making some social media predictions for 2009. Dwindling budgets will obviously cause companies to rethink their Web 2.0 strategies. Companies will need to find new ways to touch consumers online without spending a lot of dollars.
Given that, marketers will need to find better ways to measure the impact of social media in order to maximize dollars actually being spent on social media and advertising.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Scott Monty @ Ford Working Hard on the Weekends!

I sent a direct message to Scott Monty, Head of social media at Ford, around 10:45 AM on Saturday, December 13, 2008 via Twitter. Kudos to Scott Monty for replying within moments. Seriously, I don't know how he responds so quickly considering he has more than 5,900 followers.

I am glad to see him respond on Twitter very quickly. It shows that he and Ford value my input and opinions. Additionally, following up with people is offering great customer service. This clearly shows that social media = customer service. Kudos to Scott!

Kmart enlists bloggers for PR

Sears / Kmart are really starting to impress me with their social media savviness. A sponsored social networking campaign enlisting the help of six well-known bloggers is yielding big buzz for Kmart and encouraging consumers to give the retailer another look during the critical holiday season. Kmart gave each of six influential bloggers a $500 gift certificate to go on a shopping spree in the store and then blog about their shopping experiences in any way they saw fit (no censorship).

The campaign appears to have been a success. One post by Chris Brogan was typical. Under a header stating "This post is a sponsored post on behalf of Kmart via Izea. The opinions are mine," Brogan started by admitting that he hadn't "stepped foot" in Kmart since it was "merged with Sears" (acquired by Sears Holdings). He then described the fun he and his kids had browsing and picking out their items. Within the post, Brogan noted that he was surprised to see that Kmart had "upped their name brand game" and now carries high-end brands like Dyson and Craftsman. He also noted being pleasantly surprised at the savings on purchased items--not just through special holiday sales, but through the chain's everyday pricing on some items.

Sears / Kmart also have an interesting social networking community on Sk-you.com.

Do Brands Belong on Twitter?

Mashable asks whether brands should be on Twitter. I answer this with a resounding "YES"! And I'm not the only person who feels this way. In fact, Warren Sukernek replies to the posting by saying,

"There are several brands (we all have our favorites like Zappos, Comcast, HR Block) that have done a fantastic job of engaging their customers on Twitter. Furthermore, in a recent survey of 240 Twitter users on brand perception, most users (89%) agreed that brands should engage their customers on Twitter. The majority also had a better impression of brands that use Twitter for customer service (81%). And if brands were not on Twitter, the monetization opportunities would be limited to advertising and users fees. Clearly, unacceptable options for many.
So banning brands from Twitter would be a big mistake in my opinion. - Huge!"

I couldn't agree more. I feel getting companies involved helps increase the quality and credibility of conversation online; however, companies must be transparent and engaging. I do not want a brand simply posting information on Twitter. I expect to be able able ask questions and get answers!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ford uses Twitter to avert PR disaster

I referenced Ford threatening enthusiasts the other day. When Ford took legal action against a fan Web site, the controversy soon spilled over into the blogosphere as automotive bloggers wondered what Ford's cease-and-desist letter meant to their operations. Ford's head of social media was able to keep a handle on the story by using a combination of Twitter and forum posting to reveal that the site in question was being accused of selling counterfeit auto parts.

Ford sent fansite TheRangerStation.com (dedicated to lovers of their small pick-up trucks) a lawyer’s letter over copyright violations. This sent the dozens of other Ford fan sites, many of which use Ford branded names, into a tizzy over fears that they too would be asked to stop using Ford names in their URL’s and site materials. By the time the story surfaced on major car blogs like Jalopnik and Autoblog the story had been boiled down to Ford’s lawyers asking for $5,000 or the site gets shut down.

Ford’s Head of Social Media Scott Monty ( @scottmonty on Twitter) was keeping track of these developments. Monty was using Twitter to follow the brewing controversy and quickly began responding online. He was able to help Ford avert social media disaster by using Twitter effectively.

As a proud owner of two Ford vehicles, I'm glad to see Ford using social media effectively. It's seems there was quite a bit of miscommunication surrounding its request. On another note, it saddens me to see Congress deny U.S. auto manufacturers bailout funds.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More 40-Something Women Using Social Networks

Forty-something women actively are using social-networking sites, according to a survey by SheSpeaks. More than 70% of those with children ages 13 to 17 discussed products on such sites, and more than four of 10 had established personal profiles. "These women have started to use the Web and social networks in ways that mirror the rest of their lives," SheSpeaks Chief Executive Officer Aliza Freud said.

Source: eMarketer

Laid-Off Yahoo Employees Tweet on the Way Out

About 1,500 workers at Yahoo! lost their jobs as part of cost-cutting moves designed to save the portal about $400 million in annual operating expenses. Some laid-off and remaining Yahoo! workers blogged about the experience via Twitter or left comments on industry site Silicon Alley Insider.

Source: BusinessWeek

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do Consumers Trust Corporate Blogs?


A Forrester report says only 16% of corporate blog readers trust what they're reading.

Obviously, companies have to do a better a job convincing people to trust them.

Here are five ways companies may be able to make their blogs more trustworthy:

1. Find ways to get blogs to show up in search engine results. Consumers are more likely to trust content that is readily available through search engine results.

2. Connect with key influencers talking about your brand or its products. Encourage those influencers to link to your company blog.

3. Make sure your blog is relevant to your company and industry. Too often, a company will create a blog which is not relevant to its brand or products.
Wells Fargo's Guided By History blog is a great example. What does this blog have to do with business and banking?

4. Allow consumers to comment, even if they respond negatively.

5. Respond to consumer's questions quickly and truthfully.

6. Place a link to your companies blog on your homepage. I hate to pick on Wells Fargo, but it doesn't have a link to its Guided By History blog on its homepage.

Note to companies: If you do not feel your company blog is good enough for you to link to it, then why should I? (Wells Fargo - consider the link above as a favor).

7. Make contact information easily available. I don't want to spend hours searching for information to contact the company.

8. Talk about other things related to your company or industry. Discuss industry trends and important events. For instance, an automobile manufacturer could write a post requesting feedback from consumers about fuel economy.

9. Link to important news articles referencing your company blog. According to the Forrester study, 46% of people still trust newspapers. Given that, positive references about your company blog in a major newspaper is worthy of highlight.

10. Don't try to make your corporate blog too professional. By this I mean, focus on content, then design.

Feel free to comment if you have any other suggestions or concerns.

Ford Threatens Enthusiasts

Bold Moves:Ford Threatens Enthusiast Sites with Lawsuits Over Copyright Infringement.

This absolutely displeases me. I am an owner of a 2007 Ford Focus and a 2008 Ford Escape. Overall, I thought Ford was in the best position of the "Big 3" or "Big 2.5" going into bailout discussions. Ford was only seeking a credit line. Ford now goes to pull a Plaxico and shoots itself in the foot from a social media standpoint. Aggravating Ford enthusiasts and losing consumer evangelists is the last thing Ford needs at this point.

I will most likely take my business elsewhere is Ford keeps this up.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Retailers MicroBlog to Reach Customers

Retailers increasingly are using text-message alerts to keep their customers informed about sales and special events, while online retailers are using microblogging site Twitter to alert shoppers to deals. Gap, Target, Sears Holdings and Amazon.com have launched wireless-outreach programs this year.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Monday, December 08, 2008

Google Ads Point to Twitter Accounts Now

Check this out! Adwords point to Twitter accounts now.

Verizon LG Voyager


I currently have an LG Voyager through Verizon. I really love this phone, but I wish it had a password keeper (similar to Blackberry) and a Twitter application. I can access MySpace and Facebook quite easily but a Twitter shortcut would be icing on the cake.

Ten PR People to Follow on Twitter

Social Media Today provides a list of 10 PR people to follow on Twitter.

USA Today: Bad PR Gets Worse Fast in a Socially Networked, Consumer Driven Environment

Check out this article from USA Today. In a nutshell, it says that bad publicity has the propensity to spread faster through social media.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Where do you rank on Twitter?

Check out http://twitter.grader.com to find out.

Nordstrom is Following Me on Twitter, but does Nordstrom Know Why

I published a post about highlighting retailers using social media effectively on Thursday, December 4, 2008. Afterwards, I referenced the topic on Twitter shortly after.

Interestingly, one of the retailers I mentioned, Nordstrom, responded by following me on Twitter. I received the following email informing me about Nordstrom following me on Twitter.

Hi, Ronald Coyle.

Nordstrom (nordstrom) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Nordstrom's profile here:

http://twitter.com/nordstrom

You may follow Nordstrom as well by clicking on the "follow" button.

Best,
Twitter

Now don't get me wrong, I'm flattered Nordstrom has an interest in me, but does Nordstrom know why? I don't think so. I've never shopped at a Nordstrom. I may, but I haven't yet. I'm not even sure where there is a Nordstrom in the greater Cincinnati area.

A brand should not be following me just for the sake of following me. Nordstrom should try to find out more about me as a person. What are my need and wants? What would make want to become a Nordstrom customer? Why should I become a Nordstrom customer?

I initially criticized Nordstrom for not having a blog and using social media ineffectively. I'm glad to see the brand on Twitter, but simply following me isn't using social media effectively. I don't need an email from Twitter telling me that Nordstrom is following me. I need Nordstrom to do some homework, find out more about me and contact me on its own. Sure Nordstrom knows I have a Twitter account now, but I doubt it knows about this blog.

So here I am Nordstrom. What do you want to know about me? Additionally, why should I shop at Nordstrom? I'm waiting.

Can Social Media Improve Sales?

Effective social media monitoring and participation can improve sales according to this this article.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

8 Essential Free Social Media Monitoring Tools

MarketingPilgrem provides a list of 8 free social media monitoring toos.

Google Trends is pretty sweet! I'll have to try some of the others. Have you tried any of these? What do you think of them?

McDonald's To Introduce McBambi For a Limited Time



I'm sure this is a rumor but...uh...yeah...I think I'm going to stick with my Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and McRib sandwiches.


Source: Braintwinkey.blogspot.com

How Far Are We From Visiting CyberMalls?

Companies must learn to create virtual retail environments where consumers can shop, meet, talk and exchange information. Unfortunately, I'm not sure too many retailers "get it" when it comes to social media though.

I took a brief look at various retailers websites to see who is using social media effectively. Wal-Mart and KMART / Sears are doing a decent job while Macy*s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, JC Penney and Kohl's have a ways to go.

Store / Use Social Media (Yes/No)

Macy*s (No)
Bloomingdales (No)
Wal-Mart (Yes) http://checkoutblog.com/
KMART/Sears (Yes) http://www.sk-you.com/
Nordstrom (No)
JC Penney (No)
Kohl's (No)


Adam Weinroth on Gourmet Retailer provides more information on how retailers can benefit from social media.

Do you know of any companies using social media effectively? I'd love to get your see your comments.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

How Big Companies Utilize Social Media

Here is a follow-up to Peter Kim's: A List of Social Media Examples.

DSWMG.com provides several examples of how big companies utilize social media.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Making Social Media Work for You

Social marketing isn't simply a matter of establishing a presence with a blog, social-network profile or Twitter account. Blogger Amber Naslund explains that a coordinated effort is needed, in terms of competitive intelligence and customer service.

You can read more about this on MarketingProfs/DailyFix.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Twitter passes on Facebook offer

Facebook offered a rumored $500 million in stock (based on its $15 billion valuation) to acquire Twitter, reports Kara Swisher of All Things Digital. No one went on the record to discuss the deal, but sources indicate Twitter felt it was undervalued in the deal -- especially considering the high valuation the deal put on Facebook. From the standpoint of Facebook, the acquisition of SMS-based Twitter meant taking on potentially high messaging fees from mobile providers.

You can read more about this on Allthings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

United Airlines Talks the Talk, but does not Walk the Walk When It Comes to Corporate Blogging

Upon returning home from New York City on Friday, November 21, 2008 (United Flight #7147) connecting in Washington DC, I decided to take a glance at the United Airlines "HEMISPHERES" magazine.
. I came across an interesting article titled,
"The Business of Blogging". Overall, I thought the article made some very valid points. In fact, the author, Ethan G. Salwen recommends businesses integrate websites and blogs. This can be done by simply adding a "Blog" link to a main site or homepage.

The article captivated my attention. I never thought an airline magazine could present such and interesting article. Reading up on the article peaked my interest in whether United Airlines, or it subsidiaries has a blog. I asked the flight attendant but she was unaware. Additionally, I wanted to find out if any other airlines have corporate blogs.

I spent some time over the past week trying to see which airlines implement social media effectively. I reviewed results through Google.com, visited company websites and checked other blogs citing examples of companies using social media effectively. My results are posted below.

Airline / Blog (Yes /No) / Link to Blog on Homepage?

Southwest / Yes / Yes
Delta / Yes / Yes
JetBlue / Yes / Yes
United / No / No
US Airways / No / No

Overall, I'm really surprised to see that United Airlines and US Airways do not have a corporate blog (or at least a corporate blog which is easy to find). It shocks me to see a company support the importance of business blogging in a company sponsored magazine yet not participate itself in such a social phenomena.

As I mentioned, I feel the content in the current issue of HEMISPHERES magazine is very relevant, especially to business people and marketers. United Airlines simply needs to monitor content more closely to make sure it aligns with its business polices and goals. It does not make a lot of sense to allow an article stressing the importance of business blogging to be published in its company sponsored magazine while the brand itself doesn't blog.

I plan to contact United Airlines to clarify whether they indeed have a corporate blog and whether a link can be provided. I will keep everyone updated on my findings.

You may visit Peter Kim's site for a list of companies using social media.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's Victory Speech Receives Millions of Views



President-elect Barack Obama's victory speech has been uploaded more than 500 times and viewed more than 7 million times on the web in the last 48 hours, according to web analytics firm Visible Measures.

The viral video view growth of Obama’s victory speech has been gathering momentum since Wednesday, November 5, 2008. Visible Meaures' discovery process revealed that the speech had seen more than 620,000 views from 100 placements by 11:00 am ET yesterday. By 5:30 pm, the view count had shot up to more than 2.2 million from 160 different placements. At the 11:30PM ET, almost exactly 24 hours after the speech occurred, the number of placements had grown to 200, generating close to 5 million views.





You can read more about the popularity of Obama's victory speech on Visible Measures.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Starbucks Is the Only Non-News Company on the Top 100 Twitterholics List

Starbucks is the only non-news company on the top 100 Twitterholics list (Twitterholics!) You can see how Starbucks utilizes Twitter by visiting Starbucks Twitters .

Top 100 Twitterholics!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New Study Says 93% of Americans Consult Colleagues Before Buying

Advertising Age reports that reaching consumers at work could be next great frontier.

While I do feel Americans consult colleagues before buying, I'm not sure the percentage is as high as 93%. Additionally, what exactly are Americans consulting colleagues for? For instance, I find myself consulting with other people before buying technology devices (e.g. new cell phone, new media device, etc...). Occasionally, I'll seek advice regarding the best restaurant to visit over the weekend. I did seek other's opinions about presidential candidates, but I combined those opinions with my own research. I find myself taking a similar approach looking into company's products and services. I'll ask friends and colleagues for their opinions on a brand or product, research it further on my own and make my own decision.

Who do you ask and how do you ultimately decide what to buy?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Are Small Businesses Owners Concerned about Getting Credit?

Many small business owners are starting to voice concerns over their ability to get money from banks to fund their businesses in the current credit crunch. A rise is online buzz among small business owners complaining about difficulties getting credit exemplifies this growing concern.


Only 29% of Journalists Read Five or More Blogs

I came across an interesting finding from Steve Rubel while surfing Twitter. He links to an article on Social Media Today stating that only 29% of journalists read five or more blogs to keep up with their specific topics and issues. The positive side of this is that 75% read one blog or more. One year ago, about 26% read 5 or more blogs.

The posting on Social Media Today concludes by saying, "newspapers are still a key source of news for them (so will all those newspapers-are-dead promoters stop making it seem worse than it is?), and a large number of them are big on Electronic News Kits." There may be some validity to this. I don't feel newspapers are dead. Instead, I see blogs and newspapers living symbiotically. Newspapers and other sources (e.g. RSS feeds, other blog sources, board discussion, inside information) are key sources of information for many bloggers. Likewise, more journalists are starting to keep up with blogs to help develop their stories.

Bloggers and journalists may not realize it, but they need each other to survive this day in age.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Scion Teams with Kongregate to Teach Players to Become Developers

Advertising Age reports on Scion working with the gamer site Kongregate. Scion has agreed to sponsor Kongregate's new "Labs" section to help newbie and aspiring game developers create their own video game.

"Scion's key demographic is men 18-24, and that's exactly what we are, so we started talking," said Lee Uniake, Kongregate's chief revenue officer. "Individuality and creativity are outgrowths of the core brand attributes of Scion.

Overall, I like Scion's marketing strategy here as it understands its core demographic. Additionally, Scion knows how to reach out to potential customers.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

McDonald's is Affected by the Credit Crisis

Advertising Age reports that McDonald's is being affected by the current credit crunch. McDonald's planned coffee rollout is being hit by banking crisis that is restricting loan capital. Overall, tightening credit conditions are affecting consumers as well as corporations and businesses.

How is the credit crunch affecting your company?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tiger Woods Walks on Water

I came across an interesting post at Micropersuasion.com. A fan posted on YouTube that it's possible for Woods to hit a golf ball in Tiger Woods 08 while walking on water. In return, EA sports capitalizes on the "glitch" by showing how its actually done. Simultaneously, it promotes Tiger Woods 09.



Let me know what you think about this video.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sony Looks to 'LittleBigPlanet' Start to Boost Console Sales


Advertising Age posts an article about Sony betting on the popularity of 'LittleBigPlanet' star, Sackboy, to boost its console sales. Sony plans to put a big marketing push behind Sackboy. Sony is partnering with retailers to offer two presale-only, downloadable Sackboy characters from a couple of Sony's other popular first-party games: Kratos from "God of War" and Nariko from "Heavenly Sword." Sony also plans to create about 1,000 "LittleBig billboards."

Analysts seem to think Sackboy has a good shot at lifting PS3. According to NPD Group, through June, PS3 -- which got a later start than chief rival Xbox 360 -- had sold 4.9 million units vs. Xbox 360's 10.5 million and Wii's 10.9 million since their introductions.

Nintendo uses a similar approach building a variety of their consoles around Mario-based games. And this is a great approach since Nintendo is perceived by consumers to produce less "hardcore" games (e.g. not as much blood and guts). In fact, games like Wii Fit and Super Smash Brothers Brawl have helped increase Wii sales. Also, Microsoft has does a good job promoting its Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles around the Halo series, but I think Halo reaches out to the gaming audience the Xbox 360 is targeting.

Sony PS3 attracts a different type of gamer; It attracts more of the hardcore gamer. Games such as Call of Duty 4, Metal Gear Solid 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and Warhawk are some of the more popular games on the PS3. Sony also has the market cornered with its support of Blu-Ray.

I haven't played Little Big Planet, but it doesn't appear to be a "hardcore" game from what I can see. Sony may need to re-position the PS3 altogether if it wants to use a similar approach to Nintendo and put most of its marketing support behind a specific character or game, especially one that may not be of interest to its "hardcore" audience.

Feel free to leave comments if you have any experiences playing Little Big Planet or other games.


Source: AdAge

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New Search Engine Popping Up

I came across two new search engines, http://www.cuil.com and http://www.viewzi.com. Cuil is a little more text driven while Viewzi returns more visual results. Some consumers posting on an article at Ad Age debate whether Viewzi could eventually replace Google.

I checked out Viewzi on my on own to see how it works. I found the search engine to be counter intuitive at first; however, I think it may catch on eventually. I don't think Viewzi will be the search engine to knock off Google. First, I don't think the name is as catchy as Google. Can you imagine people saying, "I'm going to Viewzi this." Google is synonymous with the word search online. Any search engine looking to pass Google will have to become a household name.

I feel the next tool to pass Google will have to be a hybrid between Yahoo, Google and major blog search engines and social media sites. Competitors looking to pass Google will need to put more into innovation and search capabilities. Additionally, they will need to incorporate social media attributes (e.g. creating online social communities and building out blog search tools).

Source: http://adage.com/digitalnext/article?article_id=130111

Friday, July 18, 2008

Batman Gets Most Buzz Online



The trend graph to the left shows Batman(Christian Bale) getting the most buzz followed by Joker (Heath Ledger) and Two Face (Aaron Eckhart).

The Joker played by Heath Ledger received most of its buzz when actor Heath Ledger died on January 22, 2008.

Los Angeles Sparks Use Interactive Ads

Seeking new ticket buyers, the Los Angeles Sparks women's pro basketball team recently tried a new ad play: A TV commercial during which viewers could press a button on their remote to get a team brochure. I wouldn't be surprised to see more advertisers start using creative ideas to get capture the attention of television viewers.

Source: http://m.usatoday.com/BETTER/detail.jsp?key=865848

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympic Coke Cans










I really like Coca-Cola's new 2008 Beijing Olympic cans! I think the vibrant colors and interesting font really helps the cans stand out. How does everyone else feel about Coke's new cans?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sears Holdings Reports $56 Million Loss

The parent company of Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kmart reported a $56 million loss for the quarter ended May 3 on Thursday May 29, 2008. Natalie Zmuda at Ad Age says,

"During the quarter, sales at Sears' domestic stores open at least a year slumped 9.8%, while same-store sales dropped 7.1% at Kmart. Same-store sales declined across most of its major categories domestically, including the apparel, home appliance and lawn and garden segments. The company said weakness at its stores reflects the impact of rising gas and food prices on its consumers, as well as the weak housing market."

Overall, I agree with Zmuda's assessment. However, there are a few things that Sears can do to improve its sales during a slow economy. For starters, it needs to focus on improving employee moral and the customer experience at some locations.

I took a part-time job at a local Sears automotive center last summer but found employee moral to be rather low. Employee moral was lower than I expected, especially compared to other retailers that I've worked for.

Sears needs to focus on improving the customer experience. Very rarely due I encounter a Sears employee full of knowledge and helpfulness. Again, I think focusing on employee moral may help improve the customer experience.

These are just a few of my opinions. Obviously, my expereiences with Sears pertain largely to locations in Southwest Ohio. Nonetheless, a $56 million loss indicates that my experiences may have contributed to Sears' poor quarterly results. Hopefully Sears will get things turned around.

A key problem for Sears is that it doesn't position itself from competition. Is it a low-cost leader? No, that would go to Wal-Mart. Does Sears offer the highest quality products? Sears may offer the highest quality products, but it doesn't relay that via its marketing campaigns. I think of JC Penney's, Macy*s and Nordstrom when it comes to offering quality products. Does Sears offer the best service? Again, it may offer great service, but Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom are more known for their outstanding service.

Sears offers great products (e.g. Craftsman tools and Diehard batteries) but needs to find its market niche and exploit it. Hopefully it will.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Coors Speeding Competitors



Advertising Age reports that Coors' four largest brands are all growing quicker than competitors. However, Budweiser is receiving the most online buzz within the blogosphere as a result of its Super Bowl advertising.



I'm not sure if Coors partakes in any social media activities, however, it may want to rethink its strategy. Improving its presence will only help strengthen its position. Additionally, it can use CGM (Consumer Generated Media) to help bolster its partnership with the NFL as Coors is the official sponsor. Unfortunately, many consumers may not be aware especially with Budweiser garnering so much buzz around the Super Bowl.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coke Looks to Bring Home the Gold Medal

Coke is set to launch an Olympic blitz campaign according to Ad Age. The campaign includes Multilingual Containers, Athlete Vignettes, Online Contests, Music Project.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Have Your Realized Twitter's Potential?

Here are a "free" few tools I've come across to help find what you're looking for on Twitter.

http://www.tweetscan.com/ - Tweetscan allows users to search for Twitter results via queries. This is a great way to follow topics of interest.

http://www.twist.flaptor.com/ - Twist.flaptor.com allows users to see Trends in Twitter.

http://www.xefer.com/twitter - Allows users to follow follow tweets (people using Twitter).

Feel free to ping me if you have any questions regarding these tools.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Marketing During a Recession

Advertising Age posted an article regarding consumers' spending habits during a down economy. The author, Eric Spahr, encourages brands to continue to do several things, as the economy heads into a recession. Those things include the following:

1. Observe consumers' behavior
2. Understand the new competitive set
3. Find out emotions behind consumers' behaviors
4. Continue to build brand equity

Consumers will make decisions about which brands they will remain loyal to. Some consumers may give up their Starbucks coffee every morning while others may forgo using their summer vacations. Given this, the current state of the economy will mean that marketers will have to do a better job rewarding loyal consumers.

A recession should not be viewed as a inconvenience or a roadblock in a marketers way. Good marketers will seize the opportunity to be creative and find new ways to reach out to consumers. Now is the time for marketers to find creative ways to reach out to consumers (e.g. social media) and build consumer loyalty.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Online Consumers Speak Negatively about the Economy

I've been monitoring online buzz about the economy over the past few months and I've found some interesting results. I will start of by showing a trend of economy discussion online from October 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008.

Economy Discussion Trend














Discussion about the economy is trending upwards. Recent spikes in buzz are largely caused by consumers discussing bank mergers and their opinions of the economy. Below is a key highlighting several call-outs on the trend line.

Key Events Creating Buzz:
A. 10/29/07 - Merrill Lynch reports $7.9 billion write-down.
Merrill Lynch’s CEO, Stan O’Neal and Citi’s CEO, Charles Prince resign.
B. 12/6/07 – Consumers discuss President Bush’s mortgage plan.
C. 1/7/08: Bears Stearns’ CEO James Cayne resigns
D. 1/13/2008 – Consumers discuss the BoA Countrywide merger.
E. 1/21/2008 - 1/22/08: U.S. Federal Reserve announces surprise 0.75% rate cut; DJIA loses 400 points as global markets name the day, “Black Monday.”
F. JP Morgan buys Bear Stearns for $2 a share

Additionally, I have been tracking sentiment among consumers talking about the economy online in two month intervals since October 2007. More consumers have a mixed / negative outlook on the economy from December 1 – March 31, 2008 compared to the October 1 – November 30, 2007. An increase in negative buzz results from consumers expressing their concerns about the U.S. economy potentially going into a recession from December 1 through January 31, 2008. However, negative buzz February 1 through March 31, 2008 emanates from consumers discussing potential fraud and ethics violations associated with the subprime debacle.














Listed below are a few sample verbatim to support my most recent findings. Consumers speculating about whether fraud played a role in the subprime meltdown express their discontent online.

“[Big News: Subprime Lenders Get Big Accounting Break At Sec]… I thinks that's important news, or exists there another thread on it. FFS, they will just be allowed to hide it all. “
Housepricecrash.co.uk, 2008-02-01


“Blaming all this on the gov is a good start, Grizz. But it seems all the congress wants to do his slap down the lenders, even though they were the ones who encouraged this practice. The left wanted low income folks; ie people who can't afford a house to have a really really big one. They caused the problem, now all they want to to is fleece the mortgage companies and responsible borrowers for doing want was expected from them. Blaming all this on Bush is inaccurate, but typical. I do not blame it ALL on the government, because crooks and con men will always find a way. Your weak attempt to whitewash this administration in particular and the general anti-regulation enforcement tilt of Republicans in general just doesn't wash. Government regulations exist because of those who would take advantage of people in just about any situation, whether it be the food on your table, drugs in your medicine cabinet, or a virtually incomprehensive mortgage instrument. Point of fact, the regulators, if they existed at all, were asleep at the switch on the sub-prime mess and the bankers were no less culpable with their bottomless greed”
Democracyforums.com, 2008-02-27


“I'm would never vote for McCain, I would rather write-in a vote for Minny Mouse (which is what I am leaning towards at this point). But I still have a hard time accepting that me, the tax payer, has to be part of the solution that was the sub-prime mortgage scandal. The companies that profited off of these actions should be the ones to bail the people out. Why do I have to be the one to fix others financial mistakes ? Next thing you know we will have to bail out folks who take super high interest credit cards because they did not read the small print. People should have some sort of responsibility for their actions and should not be bailed out by the rest of us who are able to make smarter decisions when it comes to our finances.”
Forums.nasioc.com, 2008-03-10


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes:
1. Buzz volume is depicted as a percentage of 433,173,653 total messages by day occurring between October 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008
2. Information about “Black Monday” 2008 can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Monday_(January_2008)
3. Given time constraints (e.g. work, life in general), I was only able to sample a 100 random messages about the economy per time frame. Therefore, I would not consider these findings to be statistically significant, but more directional.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Marketers Buying Ads for Packaged Goods

Advertising Age reports package-goods marketers still spending big on media. At least some things never change!

I'm LinkedIn, Are you?



I recently joined LinkedIn. You can see my profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/7/bb1/752. Also, please let me know if you are a member of LinkedIn. I am interested in learning about other peoples' experiences using LinkedIn.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Remembering Pepsi

Advertising Age reports on Pepsi's new marketing campaign to promote recycling. It is called, "Have we met before."

"Our goal is to reenergize consumers about recycling," said Nicole Bradley, a Pepsi spokeswoman. "We've learned that most people will recycle when they remember, so we thought the 'Have we met before?' program [would be] a great way to remind people about the positive impact of recycling."

Overall, I think this campaign is a great idea. However, I'm skeptical whether consumers will notice initially. The print looks rather small on the side of the can. Additionally, any call outs below a Pepsi-related product (e.g. Pepsi can) in a traditional advertisement may be overlooked.

Personally, I would recommend Pepsi to set up a special website like they did with their MLB (Major League Baseball) sponsorship. Pepsi listed a website on the side of each can which directed consumers to www.pepsiclutch.mlb.com via a tie in with MLB. However, the print was very small as I just recently noticed to website on the side of the can. Hopefully, Pepsi will take a similar approach with its new campaign to encourage recycling.

Pepsi could list interesting information regarding recycling and packaging information on such a dedicated website. It would be a great resource for consumers interested in finding out information about Pepsi's stance on environmental issues.

Google Maps Features YouTube

Google maps are starting to incorporate YouTube. This should make search for places more interesting. I wonder what will video will show up if I look-up my local dentists.


















You can read more about this new feature at Mashable, a social networking news site.

Coke Zero Buzz Trending Downward Despite NCAA Marketing Push

Overall, online buzz about Coke Zero is trending downwards despite a strong marketing push during the 2007-08 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. It will be interesting to see how Coca-Cola's financials look after this quarter given the huge marketing-related expenses allocated toward Coke Zero.

Coke Zero Online buzz January 1 - April 10, 2008

Twitter Without the Jargon

I came across an interesting video on YouTube demonstrating how to utilize Twitter in everyday normal life. Overall, I think the video highlights some of Twitter's strengths. However, I feel Twitter can be improved if people can go beyond simply anwering, "What are you doing?" Consumers need to be able to state what they are doing, discuss how they feel and provide opinions. For instance, someone watching a movie could Twitter, "I am watching a great movie and I highly recommend others to check it out!" Additionally, I'd like to be able to state what I plan to do in the future (both short term and long term). Twitter has all the right ingredients to become something big. However, it still has a ways to go.

Also, I think Twitter needs to find a way to allow companies to utilize its tool. As a marketer, Twitter would be a great tool to inform potential customers about new products and services being developed and/or offered. I would love to Twitter information about my companies products and services knowing thousands of followers could view them. The presidential candidate John McCain currently utilizes Twitter. I can envision a day when marketers will be able to as well.

Anyways, you can follow me at Twitter by searching for rcoyle85 at Twitter. Also, please let me know if you use Twitter now or plan to use it in the future.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

FriendFolio Makes Facebook More Interesting

Check out FriendFolio. This will make Facebook more interesting.

You can read more about FriendFolio at Mashable, a social networking news site.

McDonald's Tries to Lure Fashion Crowd

Ad Age reports that McDonald's is trying to lure a couture crowd. Apparently, McDonald's feels that fashion freaks and fastfood-goers have a lot in common. They both look for great deals. McDonald's hopes to attract new crowds with discount offerings, value pricing and lighter fare menus.

Personally, I feel the idea may work in select markets (i.e. New York City, Los Angeles among other significant metropolitan areas). However, I don't think it will be easy to attract the fashion crowd in more suburban and country areas. Additionally, McDonald's should think about doing some joint marketing with brands like Macy*s, Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue to reach out to the fashion crowd. Furthermore, sponsoring fashion events or shows like "What Not to Wear" may help McDonald's reach out to the couture crowd that is always looking for great products at the right prices.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Scribd Becomes the YouTube for Documents

This is an interesting post about Scribd that was featured on Mashable, a social networking news site.

Let me know what you think!

Connecting withYouth on Social Media Sites



As most marketers know, connecting with the youth of today is a daunting task. And while it seems that we were all teenagers yesterday, we just don't seem to "get it." Anyways, my lil' brother is a member of a band called Shooting for O'rian and they have done a good job marketing themselves, at least for a small band. They have only been in existence for several months now, but have more than 900 friends on Myspace. Overall, I am very impressed with how they are getting their name out. Additionally, they are able to reach out to many people in their age groups (i.e. teens and young adults). Therefore, it got me thinking. How can a small band get this but not corporate America? Well, I have been doing some thinking lately and I've compiled a list of several things that my lil' brothers band does right which corporate America does not.

1. Shooting for O'rian offers free downloads. I would almost recommend any company looking to connect with youth via a social media outlet (i.e. Livejournal, Xanga, Myspace, etc...) to offer some type of free, perhaps downloadable, content. This approach may be very effective for gaming companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony.

2. Be original. My lil' brothers band can play cover songs. For example, they played Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" at a recent concert, however, you won't see them put it on Myspace to simply make a name for themselves. I requested my brother to put that song on their Myspace profile for people to listen but he told me that his band wants to be known more the the music that they create themselves. The lesson learned is that anybody can re-hash the same old stuff. Be original!

3. Companies need to do a better job differentiating themselves. What is the real difference between Burger King and McDonalds? I don't know either. Now Taco Bell has clearly differentiated itself by getting consumers to "Think Outside the Bun." Additionally, co-sponsoring events such as X-games with Mountain Dew has clearly been a win-win.

4. Use social media venues to solicit user-generated content such as videos, screen shots and testimonials. Additionally, submit ideas (i.e. create polls on various topics of youth interest) in which younger consumers may be able to provide input. For example, a company could partner with Myspace to create a poll asking youthful consumers which attributes or rewards they like with a particular product or brand.

5. There are a lot of bands trying get ahead in the world. And they are using Myspace to promote themselves. Additionally, these bands are playing in small venues on over the weekends and participating in every "Battle of the Band" contest available. Companies looking to reach youth may want to look into sponsoring some of these "Battle of the Band" events. Unfortunately, I would not suggest sponsoring a band outright though, espcially since the small bands may be seen as "sellouts," thus reducing their credibility and costing a company more money in the long run.

Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments regarding some of my suggestions about ways to reach young consumers. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sony Bravia Paint Commercial

Below is the actual Sony Bravia Paint commercial along with some follow-up information. Personally, I think this commercial is pretty cool. Let me know what you think.



Sony Turns Back the Clock

AdAge.com writes about Sony Re-running vintage ads to promote recycling of its products. Stuart Redsun, senior VP-corporate marketing, showed mock-up TV ads at a press meeting today to emphasize that Sony is "recycling our old commercials to remind you to recycle your old electronics."

Sony is working with Waste Management's WM Recycle America on its goal to set up e-waste recycling points within 20 miles of the majority of U.S. consumers. So far they have around 100 drop-off points, and should have at least one in each state by the end of the year, a Sony spokesman said.

Sony first launched its green initiative last August, and the company said it has resulted in 1,000 tons of recycled electronic waste. Beyond the green push, Sony plans to continue with an umbrella effort, which also began last summer, that unites its products by touting their high-definition DNA (thus the campaign's name, "HDNA"). The push was the first to employ Sony's internally named "silver bullet" marketing plan.

Unfortunately, Sony is unclear of the impact that this campaign will have on its sales.

Overall, I think Sony should be congratulated for green initiatives. However, I think this idea may have more of an impact on Sony's sales if Sony takes action on three things.

First, I would allow consumers to drop off non-Sony products. I feel allowing consumers to drop off non-Sony products will help Sony reach out to consumers who are currently using other brands while encouraging them to look to Sony. Second, I would offer a discount or rebate on a comparable Sony product. For example, a customer who drops off a Sony PS2 or Xbox 360 could be given a coupon for 5% off the total price of a PS3. Third, I would work with vendors to have drop-off locations in-store. I don't know to many consumers who will drive 20+ miles to a drop-off location when fuel is $3.00+ per gallon. Setting up drop-off locations with vendors may help bring customers to stores where they hopefully purchase a Sony product.

Again, I think Sony is on the right track. I'm merely offering a few suggestions to help its green initiatives translate to sales.

These are just some of my ideas. Feel free to let me know if you have any others.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Twitter Appears on CSI

I was surprised to see Twitter featured in as a product placement on last nights episode of CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), titled "Goodbye and Good Luck."

You can find out more about the show by visiting its
website.

McSkillet Buzz Rises Due to National Sample Giveaway


Advertising Age posted an article about McDonald's giving away breakfast burritos February 26, 2008. McDonald's is planning to give away more than 2 million McSkillet burritos the today (February 28, 2008) and tomorrow as part of a national sampling event.

I was not aware, but apparently McDonalds took a similar approach offering "Free Coffee Mondays" to get consumers to taste its coffee in the past. Therefore, I wouldn't be surprised to see McDonald's take this approach moving forward. It is definitely "out of the box" thinking.

"Sampling is critical to any marketplace," said McDonald's spokeswoman Shanelle Armstrong, who said the McSkillet burrito, which launched last November, has "performed well" and that the giveaway isn't a reflection on its performance. "Ultimately we want to get our product in our customer's hands, and we're committed to doing that like never before."

In a study the chain commissioned from Kelton Research, McDonald's reports that about 48% of Americans grab breakfast on the go at least once a week. This particular finding is very interesting and I would have to say that I am probably one of those the 48% of Americans who eat breakfast on the go at least once a week. Therefore, it does make sense that McDonald's would give away McSkillet burritos, especially if it wants to increase traffic to its restaurants in the mornings.

I went and got a large French Vanilla coffee and "free" McSkillet burrito this morning. Overall, I was very pleased with the McSkillet burrito. However, I would recommend that McDonald's should introduce some alternative meat selections. Unfortunately, I'm not a huge fan of sausage. I'm much more of a bacon person myself. Nonetheless, I finished my McSkillet burrito. All I can say is, "Watch out Taco Bell!" I was very pleased with the spiciness and flavor of the burrito. Additionally, I'm glad McDonald's didn't go cheap using only green bell peppers. There were plenty of red bell pepper chunks in my McSkillet burrito.

We'll, I'm recommending everyone I know to at least give the McSkillet burrito a try. It may not be for everyone, but overall I think it is pretty good. I'd give it an "A.

Below is trend chart showing buzz for the McSkillet. As you can see, online discussion on blogs about the McSkillet burrito is really taking off as a result of being given away for free. Buzz in this chart does not include posts on message boards or Usenet groups.














Let me know if you have any questions about my experiences trying the McSkillet burrito or questions about my brief data analysis.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

LifeLock Part Deux

I came across some interesting information about a lawsuit against LifeLock at Advertising Age. It caught my attention for several reasons. First, I am a LifeLock customer. Second, I wrote about a positive experience that I had with LifeLock at the end of January, 2008.

Overall, the lawsuit really comes down to Experian complaining about the integrity of LifeLock's fraud-alert system. An Experian spokesperson, Donald Girard, said, "They [fraud alerts] are intended to be used when [consumers] are fearful of becoming a victim of fraud, not as part of a service that puts your file in a perpetual state of alert. That's not the way fraud alerts were intended." Additionally, Girard says "Telling consumers that fraud alerts will make them immune from identity fraud is not only incorrect, but misleading."

Unfortunately, I disagree with several of Girard's comments. First, as a consumer, I feel much safer knowing my credit account has a block on it. I have worked for several credit card agencies and I can tell you that it is a nightmare to have to fix a problem on a credit report once it is on there. Second, I don't remember LifeLock ever saying that its fraud alerts make consumers immune from identity fraud. If that was the case, then why would LifeLock offer a $1 million service guarantee.

I am very much aware that LifeLock doesn't make me immune from identity fraud. However, it is more convenient. It's better than the alternative. I guess Experian wants me to go through its horrendous VRU (Voice Response Unit) every 90 days on my own to place a block on my credit report. Additionally, I'll have to call Trans Union and Equifax. However, that would be very absurd and time consuming in my opinion. Personally, I feel Experian has some alternative motives for bringing this lawsuit to fruition.

On another note though, I sent nice email to LifeLock's marketing department (marketing@lifelock.com) on January 29, 2008. The email read:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Ronald Coyle. My wife and I recently signed up for LifeLock and we are glad we did. In fact, I wrote about LifeLock on my marketing blog, http://conceptsmarketing.blogspot.com/. You may read it by simply clicking on the link. Additionally, I provide some useful data regarding identity theft buzz trends and LifeLock discussion within the blogosphere. You may find the datat useful.

Feel free to send a return email or call me at 513-293-5963 if you have any questions or concerns about anything written on my blog or my experiences with LifeLock.

Ronald Coyle
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Unfortunately, I am sad to say that I haven't heard back from LifeLock. I was expectting some type of acknowledgement that my email was received. However, this wasn't the case. I called one of their representatives on February 27, 2008. And I must say that he was very professional. I gave him the URL to my blog along with some contact information. Hopefully, I will hear from LifeLock in the near future.

I think one thing that really irritates consumers online is companies that fail to respond. And by this, I mean companies failing to respond by communicating or failing to provide products and services which meet the needs of consumers. I thought that I offered a few valid suggestions in my previous post and I look forward to seeing how LifeLock feels about some of them.

Does anyone feel that I am out of context by wanting to get a response from LifeLock? Feel free to leave a comment about this. I am eager to see what everyone has to say.

The graph below highlights identity fraud trends in the Blogosphere. However, it does not show the amount of discussion on discussion forums or Usenet Groups.













Thanks for reading my blog!

Coca-Cola Backing Green Marketing Push


Advertising Age reports Coca-Cola's intent to latch onto sustainability marketing. And I think Coca-Cola's new format of promotion is a great idea. However, I wonder how effective Coca-Cola will utilize its new platform. It's one thing to make promises about backing sustainability efforts and another actually support them.

Overall, I think Coca-Cola will really have to beef up its corporate communication processes. Coca-Cola could do this in several ways. It could set up a corporate blog highlighting its efforts, utilize online video by showing action in local communities or reach out to influencers talking about the environment. There are thousands of environmentally conscious consumers blogging about the environment. For instance, Gristmill is an excellent blog to read if you want to learn more about the environment. And Coca-Cola should make it a priority to reach out to influential bloggers. Additionally, I think Coca-Cola could really benefit by using a grassroots approach to generate positive WOM (Word of Mouth). For example, Coca-Cola should do more to promote recycling at a local level. I'm always reading about great things that companies do, however, rarely am I able to partake in such a initiatives.

I would like to see for myself what Coca-Cola has planned and not just read about it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gap's Many Sounds

Clothing retailer Gap is partnering with partnering with San Francisco creative development and production company, Rehab, to create a series of songs based on specific colors. The partnership is the result of Gap's intention to launch its new spring campaign, "Color Redefined." You may find more information about Gap's new prgram Soundofcolor.com.

Overall, I think this should be really successful. However, I wonder if Gap will role out something similar for Old Navy. It seems like Gap Inc. could do something similar as both Gap and Old Navy have somewhat similar demographics in terms of people who visit their websites. This is according to Quantcast.com.

Gap Website Demographics

Old Navy Website Demographics

Both brands over-index on females, ages 25-34, visiting their websites. However, Gap.com appears to be frequented more often by Asians, while Old Navy.com is visited more by African Americans and Hispanics. Therefore, it may be important for Gap Inc. to make sure its music selection is appropriate for its targeted online consumers.



Source: Advertising Age.

Monday, February 04, 2008

FedEx Pigeons Fall Short According to Yahoo

Yahoo.com ranks Audi - "The Godfather" as the number Super Bowl commercial.



And while I liked Audi - "The Godfather," I feel that feel FedEx's Pigeon commercial was even better.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Target Shuns Bloggers

I just came across an article at the New York Times about Target telling a blogger to go away.

The author, Michael Barbaro, opens the article by saying, "Target to the blogosphere: you’re irrelevant." Apparently, Target conveyed a negative messages to ShapingYouth.org, a blog about the impact of marketing on children earlier this month. The blog’s founder, Amy Jussel, called Target, complaining about a new advertising campaign that depicted a woman splayed across a big target pattern — the retailer’s emblem — with the bull’s-eye at her crotch.

Target offered an e-mail response:
“Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,” a public relations person wrote to ShapingYouth.

“This practice,” the public relations person added, “is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest,” as Target refers to its shoppers.

The buzz graph below highlights recent buzz patterns for Target, Wal-Mart and Sears. Overall, buzz for all three retailers is trending down over the past two months or so. Target does have a slight increase in buzz around the end of January 2008 which may be associated with the New Times article about it telling a blogger that they are not important.














Unfortunately, I will have to disagree with Target, which may not feel that bloggers are important. The blogosphere is becoming an highly resourceful place where consumers go to find information about companies, products and services. Also, many consumers seek advice and recommendations from other consumers online before purchasing products from some companies. Target may want to "re-think" its position regarding the importance of bloggers. Personally, I feel Target may be better off it bloggers are speaking positively about its brand, especially those who shop at Target.

Skyfire Mobile Browser

The new Skyfire Mobile Browser may be of interest to those using internet on their mobile devices.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Subway Referee Commercial



This commercial is so great! Subway should have saved this one for the Super Bowl. This commercial posted to YouTube on January 12, 2007 and has 82 comments. Interestingly, most of the comments about this commercial have been posted in the past month. I wonder if that may be due to the amount of negative buzz surrounding the officiating of the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts. The San Diego Chargers had to beat the Indianapolis and the referees in that game.

YouTube Stats:
Video Posted: January 12, 2007
# of Views: 102,316
Favorited: 663 times
Rating (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

Video data collected on Wednesday, January 30, 2008.

Marketers Can Learn from Bill Belichick

Josephy Frydl at Advertising Age feels that marketers can learn from Bill Belichick by following three principles which have helped lead him to three Super Bowl victories thus far. And those three principles are Discipline, Imagination and Respect.

Now I'm not a New England Patriots fan, but I do think there is some truth behind what Frydl believes. Frydl says, "Most marketers always punt the ball away on the fourth down -- even in the face of analysis that says going for it makes more sense." And sometimes you should go for it, especially if your already past the 50-yard line.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

LifeLock Comes to the Rescue


My wife and I recently received calls and letters regarding accounts that we have not requested to be opened. Fortunately, we have been signed up with a company called LifeLock which protects our identity. Overall, I would have to say the LifeLock has been a blessing in disguise and I highly encourage others use its services, or those offered by a similar company.

I am happy to say that the applications for credit did not go through, so being pro-active about protecting our identity has definitely paid off thus far. There are a lot of people who do not take measures to protect themselves until after they are victims of fraud and identity theft.

I do have three items of advice for consumers looking to protect their identities:

1. Check your credit reports at least once every 90 days. The three main credit bureaus are Experian, Trans Union and Equifax.
2. File a police report as soon as you find out you may be a victim of fraud and/or identity theft.
3. Closely monitor your credit reports.

Now this is a marketing blog. And I'm sure everyone has seen the commercials featuring the social security number of LifeLock's CEO, Todd Davis. Indeed, those are somewhat memorable. Personally, I find LifeLock's commercials easy to understand and quick to the point. The message is simple: Get LifeLock to protect your identity.

And while I speak highly of LifeLock's television commercials, PR strategy (i.e being featured on the NBC News Today Show and its services, I feel LifeLock could truly benefit from a really good social media campaign. I have several suggestions which LifeLock may want to consider if they want to improve customer service and awareness.

First, LifeLock should take advantage of social media by setting up a corporate blog covering issues and topics relevant to identity theft. Many consumers are constantly seeking information about identity theft and how to prevent it. A corporate blog would provide an excellent platform for LifeLock to communicate with consumers online.

Second, the CEO, Todd Davis, could post quarterly infomercials on its website and video content sites such as YouTube to get information out to consumers. Many CEO's are finding YouTube to be the ultimate place to reach out to consumers.

Third, LifeLock really needs to incorporate a good "Live Chat" function on its website. It may already have "Live Chat" features in place, but they are hard to find. A "Live Chat" feature should be readily visible. An alternative to providing a link may be to have customer service representatives (CSR's) monitor consumers visiting LifeLock's website. The CSR's could initiate discussion by having a "Live Chat" dialogue box pop-up on a consumers computer if they have been on LifeLock's site for an extended period of time. Some financial institutions currently do this. Bank of America comes to mind in this instance.

Below is a graph highlight discussion about Fraud, Identity Theft and LifeLock over the past 2 months. As you can see, discussion about Fraud and Identity Theft on consumers blogs is on the rise.



Note: The trend graph does not include discussion about Fraud and Identity Theft on discussion boards or Usenet Groups.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Financial Crisis Means Banks Must Communicate Better

I came across an interesting post at Advertising Age titled, "How Banks Can Boost Image in Chaotic Times."

In a nutshell, the article states that financial instutions will have to take bold actions that exceed expectations, communicate effectivley and be managed efficiently. Additionally, banks will have to find new ways to add value during these difficult times.

I feel the author, Tom Agan, is correct in his assessment that banks will have to communicate more effectively. In fact, banks that communicate effectively should be able to ride out the current crisis affecting our financial markets. However, banks that fail to communicate effectively will only find themselves in more trouble.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Top Ten NFL Teams Discussed Online in 2007 --- Just-in-Time for the Super Bowl

Below is a list of the top 10 Most-Discussed NFL Teams in 2007. Key drivers of each teams' discussion are provided.

Team
Top Discussion Drivers of 2007

1. New England Patriots
Spying scandal, undefeated regular season

2. Dallas Cowboys
NFL Network coverage of Dallas Cowboys vs.Green Bay Packers game on 11/29/2007, Terrell Owens blaming QB Tony Romo's girlfriend Jessica Simpson for loss

3. Chicago Bears
Defeated in Super Bowl XLI by the Indianapolis Colts

4. Miami Dolphins
1-15 record in 2007, played in Wembley Stadium in the UK on 10/28/2007

5. Indianapolis Colts
Champions of Super Bowl XLI, lost to the New England Patriots in Week 9

6. Washington Redskins
Murder of player Sean Taylor

7. Green Bay Packers
NFL Network coverage of Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers game on 11/29/2007

8. Pittsburgh Steelers
Player Anthony Smith guarantees a win against |the New England Patriots

9. Atlanta Falcons
Michael Vick's legal problems with dog fighting, coach Bobby Petrino leaving

10. Cleveland Brown
A surprisingly successful season for the Browns

Source: Nielsen Online

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pepsi Going Silent for the Super Bowl



Nationwide Insurance released information about its Super Bowl commercial featuring Kevin Federline early last year. And that commercial was considered very successful. It looks like Pepsi will be taking a similar approach.

Personally, I like the concept of Pepsi running a silent ad but I do not feel releasing information early is a good idea simply because Pepsi loses the element of surprise. I understand that Nationwide Insurance capitalized on releasing early previews about its Super Bowl commercial last year but running a silent ad successfully requires a different approach. It requires the silent approach.

Source:AOL

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Breaking Apple News: Ultra-Portable Details


Blog.wired.com reports that an Apple insider that the company's new ultraportable, expected to be seen in public for the first time tomorrow, has an extremely thin profile and is shaped like a teardrop when closed — thicker at the top behind the screen, tapering at the bottom behind the keyboard.

Personally, I do not own any Apple/Mac products but everyone I know (i.e. co-workers and my little brother) says they are really good. I will definitely look into a Mac when I purchase my next computer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pepsi Partners with Amazon for Biggest Promo Ever

Pepsi Stuff and Amazon are partnering by debuting a new promo at the SuperBowl. It is supposedly Pepsi Stuff’s biggest promo ever. Additionally, it looks like Sony is joining in on the party. Krisen Nicole at Mashable, a social networking news site, says, "It sounds like a good way to help substantiate the suffering music industry, especially as so many aspects of the old media model find that giving away the content for free could also help bring in the advertising dollars. While mp3s may not go this particular route in the next few months, this promotional deal is important for Amazon as it brings a great deal of attention to the recently launched mp3 store, which is already battling iTunes in a price war."

Overall, I think it is pretty "cool" to see Sony, Pepsi and Amazon working together, but only time will tell. Pepsi may actually benefit the most by receiving an increase in online buzz as a result of being brought up with Sony and Amazon (see buzz graph below).

Victoria's Secret Will Run a Super Bowl Ad

The fact that Victoria's Secret will run a Super Bowl Ad will only mean good things for football fans. Really, I'm glad to see Victoria's Secret get back in the big game! Also, I'm glad to see Victoria's Secret going beyond simply running a Super Bowl commercial.

To coincide with the Super Bowl push, Victoria's Secret has also shifted the release of its "What Is Sexy?" list, which used to come out in May. Now the 3-year-old list will be revealed on the eve of the Super Bowl at a party in Scottsdale, Ariz. A one-hour E! special is also slated to run Feb. 9. The special, which will be hosted by Ms. Lima, will feature the "What Is Sexy?" list, as well as video from the Super Bowl party.

Overall, I like Victoria Secret's marketing iniatives, however, I will be interested to see if they are targeting a particular demograpic. Viewing Victoria Secret's website data via
Quantcast reveals that women of Hispanic and Asian backgrounds tend to visit its website more than Caucasion and African American women. Therefore, any online component of Victoria Secret's marketing initiatives should target both Hispanic and Asian women.