We all tend to have a love hate relationship with our advertising.

We know we need it. We hate spending money on it. And we love it when it works.

The money you invest in your marketing is precious. In order for you to maximize your advertising spending you need to know what worked and what didn’t. Marketing Metrics and formulas are tools that allow marketers to make better decisions about their advertising.

If you are unable to tell what leads and sales were generated with specific marketing efforts then you have no way of knowing what is working and what isn’t when it comes to your advertising.

You are not alone if you do nothing currently. A recent poll conducted by the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association among 3,500 of its members found that barely half measure their marketing efforts. Marketers who understand and use these tools will outperform those operating in the dark.

Let me say that again… Marketers who understand and use these tools will outperform those operating in the dark.

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Need a little inspiration these days to keep you working hard?

Think you can’t be successful during a down economy? These businesses made it big by doing just that.

Businesses that started in a recession:

Hyatt opened its first hotel’s doors at the Los Angeles International Airport during the Eisenhower recession, 1957 to 1958.

Burger King the company began in 1954. During the recession of 1957, the company introduced its successful signature burger — the Whopper.

Microsoft began operations in 1975 amidst the oil crisis that rocked the country into a steep economic slump.

Sports Illustrated magazine was launched on August 16, 1954, at the end of a recession

MTV Networks brought something new to the music scene when it debuted in the economic slump of 1981

The iPod was rolled out just after 9/11 on October 23, 2001 in the midst of economic uncertainty and downturn.

Source: Sarah Caron @ http://www.insidecrm.com

Want a brand new one?

Groupon a “social commerce” company that offers daily discounts online for everything from manicures to meals, has been a big hit among bargain-hungry customers.

Groupon, which was introduced in November 2008, is currently available in 26 cities, including Seattle, New York and Washington.

So far, more than one million coupons have been sold to the 1.5 million people signed up for one of Groupon’s city-specific newsletters. And the company just announced that it had raised another $135 million in venture financing.

In addition to advertising heavily when the economy is soft, what else does one need to do?

Well outside of admitting that you could use a kick you in the pants every now and then, here are 5 things to think about:

Stop Whining
Never take your eye off the ball (your customers). Value them, and make sure they know it. Right now, someone in your field is having an awesome year. Why is it not you?

Get Back to Work
A bad market is a great excuse to be lazy. Don’t get caught in the ‘nobody’s buying mentality’. Focus on the core values of your company and share these frequently with customers, and prospects, through your advertising messages.

Sharpen The Axe
The toughest times always have carried with them the greatest opportunities. It can be difficult to see opportunities while you’re being bombarded with so much negativity everywhere. Never fail to negotiate for a better price from where you are buying media space. Use the phrase, “That’s not good enough.” This has worked for me so often that I never ever accept the first proposal. I barely even look at it.

Be Innovative
Deep discounts are not the answer they can’t be counted on when times are tough to shoulder the whole load. Your advertising messages should be crafted in a more creative manner. Remember, it is the bad and mediocre who quit in tough times. That leaves only the good and the best to compete for space in a shrinking market.

Don’t Give Up
One of the first things to happen in a tough market is that the bad and mediocre players just give up. Don’t let your business relationships wonder if you are next. Work on building better relationships with your customers. Learn their birthdays, kids names and even favorite teams, etc. – I personally like doing business with my friends, they probably do as well.

A negative economy can be a crisis situation for many businesses, but it was President Kennedy who reminded the nation

“When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger while the other represents opportunity.” It means opportunity for those who are prepared to take advantage and danger for those who aren’t.

The more visible you are, the more confidant your customers and prospects become. The more they are reminded of your legitimacy and staying power, the more they’ll be inclined to believe you’ll be there for them tomorrow.

Remember too that during any period of economic downturn your best customers become someone else’s best prospects. When you stop inviting them to do business with you, a more aggressive competitor may become much more attractive.

In a bad economy, there are many opportunities to expose your business to new customers that aren’t always possible in a good economy.

For instance, during down economic times you can get better deals on advertising. I was responsible for purchasing some billboards in Kansas City for a project in 2009. What I discovered was that for half the price of the previous year I got double the boards!

Don’t be afraid to address the bad economy in your advertising either. Travelocity aired a simple commercial to announce its Silver Lining Sale. In the first three seconds, you see the words, “We know times are tight.”

Wal-Mart is running an effective ad campaign. The commercials don’t say, “Hey, come on out. We’ve got electronics, clothes, sporting goods, prescriptions and more at a low cost.” Instead, the ads focus on very specific items and how much you’ll save over a year by purchasing these items directly from Wal-Mart.

The world’s largest retailer, according to Advertising.com, posted its best sales performance in nine months, with a 5.1-percent sales gain in February 2009 as a result.

Which character will your company be? Danger or Opportunity?

When a business continues to advertise, throughout tough times, consumers see this as a sign of commitment to doing business.

And your competition most likely will cut back advertising.

It is critical to advertise in the current economic climate, to maintain long-term positive consumer perception of your brand.

Research shows companies that advertise during a recession reap the rewards long after the recession is over.

Slowing down or eliminating your advertising efforts may seem like it’s saving you money now but it will cost you more in the long run.

In a  study of U.S. recessions from 1980-1985. Out of the 600 business-to-business companies analyzed, the ones who continued to advertise during the 1981-1982 recession hit a 256-percent growth by 1985 over their competitors that eliminated or decreased spending.

American Business Press analyzed 143 companies during the economic downturn back in 1974 and 1975. Companies that advertised in those years saw the highest growth in sales and net income during the recession and the two years that followed.

It’s important to advertise during down economic times, to maintain a positive consumer perception of your brand.

Research shows companies that advertise during a recession reap the rewards long after the recession is over.

Nothing can build your business like downtimes!

“He who stops advertising to try to save money, could just as easily stop his clock to try to save time.” – Anonymous

This is such an important topic to me, advertising in down times, that I plan on addressing it many times, in many ways over the next three or four posts.

Many businesses have asked me what they should do? How much they should cut back? What should the message or offer be? On and on they seem confused about how to handle advertising in such difficult economic times.

I will keep my answer short: don’t stop, even increase your advertising.

According to Ad-ology Research nearly half of U.S. adults believe that a lack of advertising during a recession means that a business is probably experiencing difficulties and struggling. Needless to say this obviously does not inspire confidence in your products or services.

Insulting our intelligence

“I am well educated, smart and sophisticated. Much smarter than you.” – at east that what it seems like advertisers these days are trying to tell me with their ads.

Advertisers need to remember that in America today many schools teach critical thinking skills. We learn to question everything, to be skeptical because it develops our cognitive skills. So knowing this, advertisers need to realize – if you are talking down to customers they won’t react well.

Here’s one example of a TV commercial that just comes out and insults our intelligence from start to finish, even with a catchy jingle and humorous lyrics: the Free Credit Report.com spot. They say they’re “free” – it’s in their name, sing about being “free” and yet at the very end they quickly state, “offer applies with enrollment…” and in order to enroll you must use your debit/credit card. So I guess it’s not free.

FreeCreditReport.com you treat me like I am an idiot, so I choose to ignore you, forever.

Another example is Honda’s Cog TV spot, thought to be to complicated for the US market, it was never released here. Judge for yourself if this concept seems far too difficult to grasp?

We are all experts about the products we market and sell (or should be), but let’s be careful about assuming to little about our customers.

Yo, you paying attention?

Are you aware of the things you need to be focused on day to day? Or do you find yourself pulled from one project to another with barely a minute for reflection? Taking your eye off the ball?

Well you can’t lose sight of the goals, and I do hope you have some (personal and professional). In the fast pace world of advertising where customers are fickle and the rules of success change daily we need to remain locked in on the goal – always. If the goal is sell/promote X then we can’t allow our selves to get pulled into meetings for Y, and caught up in discussion around Z, it’s the quickest way to fail.  The list is long of companies who got distracted: Sony Walkman, GM, Lehaman Brothers, ENRON and even Tiger Woods.

How tuned in are you? watch this brief video, you may be surprised at the results.

Can you hear me now?

If you’re like most people you’re way to smart for advertising. You skip straight past the magazine ads, never click on ads online  and leave the room during TV commercials.

That’s at least, what most people tell themselves. But we all know this is laughably untrue even if this makes us all feel better to think so. We are exposed to almost 4000 ads a day. And unfortunately trying to tune out all of these ads and their influence in our lives may be about to get a whole lot more difficult.  Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology, has recently created a new area in the realm of advertising called nueromarketing. Lindstrom measured individuals brain activity, pupil dilation, sweat responses and flickers of the facial muscles – all of which are markers of emotion. According to him 83% of all forms of advertising principally engage only one of our senses – sight. Hearing, it seems, can be just as powerful though advertisers rarely take advantage of it.

Historically companies have relied on jingles and catchy slogans to catch our ears. What Lindtrom discovered is that the everyday sounds go largely unnoticed, a baby laughing, a steak sizzling, the crack of a baseball bat and other sounds we can’t help paying attention to. Weave this into an ad campaign and there’s a pretty good chance we will be powerless to resist it.

To figure out what sounds we like best Lindstrom played 100’s of sounds to volunteers, everything from the McDonald’s slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” to birds chirping and a cigarette being lit. One sound blew the doors off all the others, a baby giggling. Other high ranking sounds were a cell phone vibrating, ATM’s dispensing cash, and the Star Spangled Banner. These sounds already have meaning in each of our lives and thus can trigger a cascade of emotions.

Lindtrom admits to being mystified at TV ads that show a close-up of food and shots of steaks on the grill but accompany it with lame sound tracks. In addition to adding these favorable sounds to a spot he also noted that people responded better when the sound was subtle.

The next time you go to the grocery store for milk and end up with gourmet coffee beans, it may well be because you heard the sound of a coffee pot percolating.

But it’s not like you would ever admit it.

Ever just done something because, well because, it’s always been done that way?

Could there ever be a worse reason for doing something?

I hate this mentality, I think individually everyone would agree, but how come collectively we find it so hard to stop?

As marketers we must always be looking at the data from new directions, looking beyond the obvious, or the usual stats and information, otherwise we might end up being Sony – having the personal music player market cornered, and never seeing Apple and the iPod coming. There are so many examples of doing things just because they have always been done that way, and never realizing the obvious…that it was a stupid way to be doing things. Innovators break the rules, look outside the box, and push the envelope.

Here are a few examples for you:

1. Just go for it…

“As the sun fell behind the hills on the west side of Little Rock last Thursday evening, the Pulaski Academy Bruins and the visiting Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs scattered around the field and stretched before their high school football game. Apple-cheeked cheerleaders alternated between practicing their routines and checking their backlog of texts as the P.A. blasted the predictable medley of psych-up songs. Conventional stuff, in other words.

Then the game started.

On the first possession Pulaski marched steadily downfield until it faced fourth-and-four at the Mustangs’ 14-yard line. The Bruins went for it and converted. A few plays later, thanks to a penalty, they faced fourth-and-goal from the 23. Again they went for it, this time unsuccessfully. By the end of the first quarter, Pulaski hadn’t punted or attempted a field goal on any of its four fourth downs—unsurprising when you consider that its roster lists neither a punter nor a kicker.

Pulaski fans are accustomed to such play. Most enjoy the show, shake their heads and refer to the coach, Kevin Kelley, as a “mad scientist.” But really, the coach isn’t mad at all; his decisions are rooted not in whimsy or eccentricity but in cold, rational numbers. Ask him to defend his methods, and he revs up his Dell laptop and refers to his statistics.

Pulaski hasn’t punted since 2007 (when it did so as a gesture of sportsmanship in a lopsided game), and here’s why: “The average punt in high school nets you 30 yards, but we convert around half our fourth downs, so it doesn’t make sense to give up the ball,” Kelley says. “Besides, if your offense knows it has four downs instead of three, it totally changes the game. I don’t believe in punting and really can’t ever see doing it again.”

He means ever. Consider the most extreme scenario, say, fourth-and-long near your own end zone. According to Kelley’s data (much of which came from a documentary he saw), when a team punts from that deep, the opponents will take possession inside the 40-yard line and will then score a touchdown 77% of the time. If they recover on downs inside the 10, they’ll score a touchdown 92% of the time. “So [forsaking] a punt, you give your offense a chance to stay on the field. And if you miss, the odds of the other team scoring only increase 15 percent. It’s like someone said, ‘[Punting] is what you do on fourth down,’ and everyone did it without asking why.”

The onside kicks? According to Kelley’s figures, after a kickoff the receiving team, on average, takes over at its own 33-yard line. After a failed onside kick the team assumes possession at its 48. Through the years Pulaski has recovered about a quarter of its onside kicks. “So you’re giving up 15 yards for a one-in-four chance to get the ball back,” says Kelley. “I’ll take that every time!” Why not attempt to return punts? “Especially in high school, where the punts don’t go so far,” he says, “it’s not worth the risk of fumbling or a penalty.”

Much of Kelley’s analysis has support among number crunchers. In 2005 David Romer, a prominent Cal economist, published a study that argued that over the course of the three NFL seasons he studied there had been 1,068 fourth-down situations in which teams, mathematically, would have been better off going for it. In all but 109 cases the teams either kicked or punted.

Which is to say that most football coaches aren’t simply averse to risk—no shock, there—but that they make choices at odds with statistical probability, akin to blackjack players standing on 11. The explanation: Subject as they are to scrutiny, coaches have incentive to err on the side of conservatism. No coach gets fired or ripped on talk radio for punting on fourth-and-four. Most do when they go for it and fail.”

Sports Illustrated, September 21, 2009 – A coach’s case for kicking conventional wisdom to the curb by L. JON WERTHEIM

2. Not a bad call…

“The fallout from Bill Belichick’s ill-fated decision to go for a first down on fourth-and-two at his own 28 with a six-point lead late in New England’s 35–34 loss to the Colts proves one thing: The moneyball mentality hasn’t yet made it to the gridiron. Belichick was widely pilloried for the call. The reaction of NBC’s Rodney Harrison, a former Patriot, was typical; it was “the worst decision” he’d ever seen.

But what do the numbers say? Within two hours of the end of the game, the New York Times website had a post from Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats, who calculated that the Pats had a 70% chance of winning by punting and a 79% chance of winning by going for it. If the math of a Navy pilot turned blogger seems fuzzy, consider that the next morning the Times had a pair of professional computer-programming number crunchers run the data, and they came to the same conclusion: Belichick made the right call.

He’s long run up against the Old Guard mentality that prefers custom to empirical data. “To me, it’s a shame they didn’t get it,” says Kelley, “because now it means coaches will be less likely to make that call—the right call—in the future.”

Sports Illustrated, November 23, 2009 – The math supports Belichick’s ploy

3. How David Beats Goliath.

This is a story by Malcolm Gladwell, author of BLINK, THE TIPPING POINT, & OUTLIERS. It’s possibly one of the best written articles I have ever read, it’s loaded with examples:

Read the whole article here.

Tomorrow make a resolution to think different, just practice doing it, I promise you will see a difference.

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