Saturday, July 28, 2012

You Owe it to Yourself to Unplug Once in a While
You might want to continue the habit post-vacation. Here’s why.

I’m off to a remote corner of Western Michigan where cell phone and Internet access is sporadic at best. I can’t wait. I might read a paperback (in paper form), do some fly fishing and mountain biking in the woods and enjoy looking at my Blackberry with ZERO BARS. Out of sight out of mind = Outa Sight!

While I’m out, I recommend you take a look at Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device by Matt Richtel and Life’s Too Short for So Much E-Mail by Nick Bolton. “The lure of constant stimulation—the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates—is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interaction,” argues Richtel. According to market research firm Radicati Group, the average corporate employee gets 105 e-mails a day. How many of those are really important? Not that many, researchers say. In fact, a University of California Irvine report this year found that people who do not look at e-mail regularly at work were less stressed and more productive than others.

Our Take: Fortunately, most of us work at organizations in which our productivity and creativity is what matters most, not “face time” at our cubicles. Likewise, it’s not how quickly or how frequently you respond to e-mail, tweets and social media posts, but the quality and relevance of your responses.

Quality over quantity wins every time. Just as it has for centuries before us.

PS: Does anyone out there know how to tie a fly? Without access to eHow and YouTube, I’m starting to feel like a doofus in my oversize waders?


TAGS: Unplugged from technology,
Western Michigan, Matt Richtel, Nick Bolton, Radicati Group, University of California Irvine, eHow,  YouTube

Monday, July 23, 2012

Digital advertising and online video surge continues
Picking the right tool for the right job

Video Online

Despite an overall gloomy forecast for global advertising, GroupM estimated positive growth for digital media in its latest report released Thursday. The global media investment management firm projected that growth in measured digital media investments will rise between 16 percent and 18 percent to approximately $100 billion globally in 2012, compared with a previous 16 percent forecast. That amount accounts for about one fifth of the entire 2012 measured ad spend.
Internet advertising budgets continue to grow in every country. The GroupM report forecast a 22 percent spending uptick in 2013, as digital spending trends continue an upward trend globally, regardless of local economic conditions.

Online video watching and advertising breaks record

More than 180 million U.S. Web users viewed a record 33 billion pieces of video content--and 11 billion ads --in June, according to comScore. Driven primarily by video viewing at, Google sites ranked as the top online video content property in June with 154 million unique viewers, followed by Yahoo Sites with 51 million, with 49 million, VEVO with 46 million and Viacom Digital with 39 million. Last month, time spent watching video ads totaled 4.6 billion minutes, with BrightRoll Video Network delivering the highest duration of video ads at 805 million minutes.

Overall, video ads reached more than half (53%) of the total U.S. population an average of 68 times during the month.

Macro View

A Commerce Department report Wednesday showed builders broke ground for more new homes in June than in any month in nearly four years. Wednesday's housing report from the Commerce Department showed home construction jumped 6.9 percent from May. Because builders cut back so sharply during the downturn, "if there's an increase in the number of households of any magnitude, the homebuilders will now benefit," Daniel Alpert, managing director at Westwood Capital, an investment-banking firm told the Wall Street Journal last week.

Meanwhile, last week’s cover story in the staid Economist argues that the U.S. economy is remaking itself (see article) thanks to the private sector. “Old weaknesses are being remedied and new strengths discovered, with an agility that has much to teach stagnant Europe and dirigiste Asia.”
What’s more, last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said applications for home mortgages jumped last week on a surge in demand for refinancing as interest rates for 30-year mortgages fell to a record low. Other data in recent weeks has shown a sharp increase in signed contracts for home purchases in May, as well as rising home prices. “Housing continues to be the one sector of the U.S. economy that is outperforming expectations,” said Michael Gapen, a Barclays economist told Reuters.


Despite this morning’s sell-off in U.S. equity markets, the latest economic data confirm our economy is clearly in a slow growth mode and that won’t change much, regardless of who wins the November elections. Yes it’s going to be slow. And yes there’s going to be some growth. If you’re trying to reach your target customers, you need to be selective and online video and digital advertising absolutely have to have a place in your marketing mix—but they’re not magic silver bullets. You have to pick your spots carefully and mix video and digital into your overall tool kit.

My dad is a lot handier than I’ll ever be when it comes fixing things around the house. Sure he’d sometimes fix things that weren’t really broken, but it’s his intrepid appetite for experimentation—not a manual or eHow video--that eventually teaches him how to get the job done.

“There’s a tool for every job, and a job for every tool,” he’d admonish me. “But don’t ever try to use that fancy new cordless drill to fix everything on your Honey-Do list.”


Digital advertising, online video, GroupM, comScore, Commerce Department, home building, Mortgage Bankers Association, Barclays, BrightRoll Video Network

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Research: B2B Marketers Not Focusing on Customer Pain Points Too much “about us," not enough WIFM

A new survey from Corporate Visions finds that four out of five (80%) B2B marketing and sales professionals think their demand generation campaigns are ineffective. Among those, content is the biggest challenge. Researchers concluded that nearly 40 percent of the 440 surveyed B2B sales and marketing pros think the single most important factor hampering their demand generation campaigns is that they aren’t “engaging” or “provocative.” Another 31 percent cite a lack of sales and marketing alignment, and 12 percent cite budget constraints. 

Perhaps more distressing was the fact that 60 percent of B2B marketing and sales professionals think their organization's demand generation campaigns focus solely on their own company's products, features, and services, rather than focusing on their customers' pain points. Not surprisingly, two-thirds (65%) of sales teams say they’re using less than one-half of the demand generation content their marketing department produces. Click to access the
complete PDF infographic.

Our take
: In this age of instant messaging, Tweeting, Yelping and Facebook and Pinterest posting, it’s never been easier to create content. But it’s also never been harder to stay relevant. Great educational content that really resonates with your qualified prospects must be thought about strategically and published purposefully within a nurturing campaign. We’ve found it takes at least 8 to 10 meaningful touches with your prospect before your message sinks you better have message point 8 at the ready before you fire off No.1. Otherwise, you’ll be chasing deadlines and an idea black-hole that results in sloppy, superficial or otherwise ineffective thought leadership marketing.

Creating great content is hard work (who knew?!?) Respect the process and your prospect will respect you.

Micro view
Business inventories are up and retail sales fell for the third straight month in June, the Commerce Department reported yesterday, but in my own neighborhood, two of the 12 houses on our street just sold—at or near asking price-- and two of my direct neighbors are undergoing MAJOR renovation projects. The noise and dust is annoying, but at least some folks are prospering and that should give all of us a lift. Chances are you're seeing the same thing in your neighborhood.

Macro view
Despite a recent run of disappointing economic data, a broad range of experts and forecasters expect the economy to improve slightly in coming months, thanks to lower oil prices and new signs of life from sectors like automobiles and housing. Tensions in the Middle East have faded and gas prices have fallen to $3.38 a gallon from above $3.90 a gallon in April, which has left more money in American consumers’ wallets and businesses’ ledgers. Experts say every penny that the price of gas falls leaves about a billion dollars in American pockets over the course of a year, economists estimate.
The lower gas prices “will take a few months to show up” in consumer spending and confidence numbers, a Macroeconomic Advisers report said recently. But, it should lead to higher sales for businesses and greater optimism among households.

Economists pointed to surging new car sales as a good economic indicator: a sign that households are confident enough to make a major purchase and that they are accessing the credit markets. It is also a boon for auto businesses — the auto industry reported a 22 percent jump in sales in June, with some carmakers reporting that revenue increased as much as 60 percent year-on-year. And the closely watched ADP monthly survey showed that private sector employers added a strong 176,000 jobs in June.

It’s going to be a bumpy ridge for a while. Stay smart and stay focused. We’ll get through the summer doldrums with plenty of momentum for the elections, Q4 earnings and some clarity political and tax-policy clarity in 2013


Corporate Visions, Commerce Department, thought leadership, content marketing, demand generation, sale versus marketing tension

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Attention Is the New Currency for Business Marketers
Mobile advertising and marketing gains adoption, share of budget. Tablet users act on ads and make purchases

Hard to believe 2012 is already half over, but the calendar doesn’t lie. It’s July 4th and on this Independence Day, let’s take a quick break from all our devices, find a comfortable hammock, beach blanket or chaise lounge and take a few moment to be thankful.

Yes, we’ve got a lot of problems at the municipal, national and global levels. But, the U.S. is still a free country. It has some of the happiest and most generous citizens in the world and a pretty good quality of life. Best of all, if you don’t like it here, you can always pack up and move somewhere else. We don’t hold our citizens hostage. We always bounce back from adversity and probably have the worst of the latest economic crisis behind us.
As you look up in the sky tonight, remember why we love pyrotechnics. It’s in our DNA. We’ve always been big, bold and loud. If the founding fathers were around today, they’d probably have signed a document called something like, “The Declaration of Go Big or Go Home.

We don’t penalize for failure and we believe if you’re not making mistakes once in a while, you’re not trying hard enough.

Our firm has long been an advocate of the entrepreneurial spirit and we think entrepreneurship is what’s going to create jobs and drive us out of our current slump as the prospect of a safe, secure corporate or government careers becomes less and less a reality for the majority of Americans.
Are we over-stimulated or not?
While traditionally thinking has been that trying juggle too many task dilutes the quality of our thinking and our ability to concentrate fully on each task. But, now researchers say our brains can be trained like other muscles in the body to adapt and reorganize its pathways too handle the many inputs of stimulation. For more on this notion, see Jenna Wortham’s thought-provoking article in Sunday’s New York Times.

While some brains (and age-groups) seem more adaptable to digital multi-tasking than others, many think our species will continue to evolve to cope with an era of increasing and round-the-clock stimulation.
To reach this new multi-tasking consumers and clients, smart marketing—not excessive marketing--will win the way in the front door.

Mobile, mobile and more mobile
If you think you’re seeing more advertising on your mobile devices these days, you’re not alone. Researchers say mobile advertising increased 150 percent to $900 million in the first quarter of 2012 from $400 million in the year-earlier period, according to research firm IDC. Mobile now accounts for nearly 10 percent of the overall advertising pay, up from 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau last month estimated mobile ad spending worldwide in 2011 reached $5.3 billion, including $1.6 billion in the U.S. And a new study by the OPA and Frank Magid Associates found that U.S. tablet adoption has nearly tripled to 31 percent in 2012 (74 million tablet users), up from 12 percent (28 million users) in 2011 and is expected to reach 47 percent by mid 2013.

What encouraged us most about the research is that 38 percent of tablet users have made a purchase after having seen tablet advertising, buying an average of $359 in products in the past year. The research also found that 29 percent of tablet users indicated that tablet advertising drives them to research products and 23 percent have clicked on an advertisement.

Mobile marketing gains adoption

Meanwhile, according to a new StrongMail/Zoomerang survey of business leaders, only 45 percent of companies are conducting some form of mobile marketing. Mobile websites, mobile applications and QR codes seem to be the most popular forms of mobile marketing.

Researchers found that nearly half of businesses conducting mobile marketing have achieved a basic level of integration between their email and mobile programs, with top areas of focus being mobile landing pages (32%), mobile number capture at email sign-up (25%) and mobile optimized email templates (22%). Less than one third of businesses (29%) are doing more sophisticated things such as leveraging mobile response data to optimize offers in email or other channels.

According to researchers, mobile was most often used to increase sales (cited by 59 percent of respondents); to improve customer service (52%), to increase brand awareness (49%) and to acquire new customers (45%).
Nearly 40 percent cite lack of strategy as top reason for lack of adoption, followed by lack of resources (22%).
Macro View: Gains in business activity and home sales
Despite yesterday’s disappointing IMF forecast for the U.S. economy yesterday, we were encouraged by Friday’s report from the Institute of Supply Management that showed another increase in its monthly purchasing managers’ business activity barometer to 52.9 in June. Anything above 50 is considered “growth” rather than “contraction.”
Also, new homes were sold in May at the fastest pace in more than two years. The increase suggests a modest recovery is continuing in the housing market, despite a persistently lousy job market.
The Commerce Department said earlier in the week that sales of new homes increased 7.6 percent in May from April. That is the best pace since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit. What’s more, in the heavily populated Northeast, new home sales accelerated a whopping 36.7 percent over the same period.
And the National Association of Realtors last week that pending home sales climbed to the highest level since the end of a federal tax credit for first-time buyers in September 2010.


From where we sit, psychology (and uncertainty about the November elections) seems to be driving business conditions more than hard data.  As always, those who can think, act and execute before the official “All Clear” signal comes out are the ones who will continue to be ahead of the pack.
Enjoy the fireworks tonight. And when you get back to the office, remember Go Big of Go Home. That’s what our country is all about.


TAGS: Jenna Wortham, OPA, Frank Magid Associates, Go Big or Go Home, Strong Mail, Zoomerang, home sales, Fireworks, July 4, National Association of Realtors, IMF