Archive for the 'Business Strategies' Category

06
Jan
14

Kmart’s Holiday Ad: Below the Belt or Missed the Boat?

Thanks to Jordan McNamara for contributing this article to The Side Note.

In a 2012 article, Advertising Age discussed Kmart’s shrinking presence in the low-cost retail field (http://bit.ly/1gc3yWF). Annual sales were down, causing Ad Age to suggest the brand had lost relevance with discount shoppers. In the realm of discount stores, Wal-Mart dominates the low-price segment and Target holds the throne for hip, so where does this leave Kmart?

Over the holidays, Kmart and parent company Sears Holdings Corp. (http://www.searsholdings.com) made a big jingle in the viral world with the release of the holiday “Show Your Joe” commercial.

Show Your Joe

Following last year’s “Ship My Pants” spot and “Big Gas Savings,” all created by agency DraftFCB, this indicates a major brand shift for the retail chain. Kmart’s Facebook page received many complaints from angry viewers, calling the ad “disgusting and not fit for family consumption” and “inappropriate for kids!!!” (https://www.facebook.com/kmart). Many customers also accused Kmart of sacrificing family values and decency in exchange for cheap laughs.
Departure from their traditional ‘baby boomer’ demographic in pursuit of younger shoppers may be exactly Kmart’s intention. According to a Forbes article from last February, Kmart is focusing on improving sales within the 18-34 year old group (http://onforb.es/1gc32bp).

However, Time reported humor is not an effective tactic for converting sales (http://ti.me/1cTMyET). Although funny spots succeed at being memorable for consumers, they do not distinguish why the brand is better or what problem the product solves. “Ship my Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” have more than 30 million views combined views on YouTube, but Forbes reported 3rd quarter sales for Kmart were still down (http://onforb.es/1cTN7hT).

The Joe Boxer commercial may be the perfect example of funny, but ineffective. With more than 17 million views on YouTube, the ad has unquestionably garnered attention. However, the spot highlights only one product line available in Kmart stores rather than the Kmart brand as a whole. Plus, it lacks differentiation—what about these specific boxers make them so great? Why are they better than others? Why should I shop at Kmart for underwear? The ad does not answer any of these questions to make the brand or product relatable to the consumer. Both earlier ads by DraftFCB mentioned above do speak to benefits Kmart offers its customers, but the most effective ads connect with consumers on a deeper, emotional level.

Due to holiday shopping, fourth quarter sales can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for retailers (http://bit.ly/1hrxzFG). With that in mind, Kmart needed a stellar season to climb out of the hole after six years of continually declining sales (http://aol.it/19XT3oU). Numbers for 2013’s fourth quarter have not been released yet, but if third quarter sales are any indication, this ad will not be enough to sway shoppers away from other discount stores.

Kmart may have some big…er, bells, but that might not have been enough to fulfill this retailer’s Christmas wishes.

Do you shop at Kmart? Tell us what you think of the Joe Boxer ad here. Is your brand in need of an overhaul? The Weise team can identify problem areas and create a strategy to give your brand a boost in our Navigator session. Contact us. 

02
Apr
13

Brand Your Company Socially and Ethically Responsible (Or Lose Consumers)

In the past few years, numerous studies have shown a significant increase in consumers that care about responsible corporate practices. A recent survey stated that over 62 percent of consumers say they genuinely care about companies’ policies more so today than 10 years ago, and four in 10 consumers say they have decided against a product or service because they didn’t agree with the company’s practices.Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 12.17.43 PM

Because of the recent added pressure on organizations, a majority of Fortune 500 companies issue a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Sustainability Report available to the public. This increased importance on corporate responsibility has also encouraged more than 8,000 businesses to sign the UN Global Compact Pledge to commit to good citizenship with regards to human rights, labor standards, environmental protection, etc.

One brand that is proactively addressing social responsibility is Visa. The organization recently created new markets in developing countries by aligning social causes with corporate strategies. Wal-Mart is also pledging to be more corporately responsible by committing to sustainability in order to save money and tighten their supply chains.

The motivation for companies to adopt a CSR can be significant. Consumers, vendors and partners are likely to avoid firms that develop unethical reputations. Additionally, companies that disregard ethical responsibilities are at a higher risk of stumbling into legal issues.

Do you think companies are responding to consumers’ demands concerning human rights, labor standards and environmental protection? Will the continued persistence of consumers forever change corporate practices? Does your company have a corporate responsibility plan? Let us know!

04
Mar
13

Top 10 Things We Learned at the IFA Conference (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our Top 10 list, we shared franchise industry insights Tracy and I learned at the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2013 conference in Las Vegas. Today, we are rounding out our list with the marketing takeaways.

Kate Upton says that Carl's Jr. sandwich is spicyOne of the strategic marketing concepts that we thought was astute came from Andrew Pudzer, CEO of CKE Restaurants, describing the Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s ‘Young Hungry Guys’ target market. Andrew discussed at great length the Aspirational target market vs. Direct target market. This has manifested itself into a regular SuperBowl ad with some of the ‘it’ girls of the day. Last year’s ad was one of the most talked about after the big game and featured Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton. You might think we mentioned this to give us a reason to feature Kate Upton in our blog, you might be right.

Here are the five marketing takeaways from IFA 2013:

1. 25 – 29% of ALL Internet traffic comes from a mobile device. The percentage is continually increasing. Businesses that choose to ignore creating a mobile optimized site or developing a mobile app are going to be in trouble. Consider this: if you gave a bad experience to 1 out of 4 prospects, would you fix the problem?

2.  SEO Killer: less than 1% of franchise business listings are accurate in the top three search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo). It may be as simple as inconsistencies across business locations. I searched “UPS Store” and found these four results on the first page:

        • theupsstore.com                       –>  Thornton, CO
        • theupsstorelocal.com/2579      –>   Denver, CO (7th & Broadway)
        • shipgeorgetown.com                –>  Georgetown, TX
        • fsups.net                                  –>  Tallahassee, FL

3.  The overwhelming majority of franchisors we’ve met do not have the patience for social media. They keep talking about wanting some old school reactions instead of engagement, sharing or interactions. This attitude must change or Millennials will focus on brands that understand.A lack of consistency with the URLs means a more generic search like “package shipping” won’t include UPS Store locations. In fact, the search returned a US Post Office, 2 FedEX office locations and 1 DHL location.

Equally important point, do not hire interns or entry level newbies to “do” your social media. Being a digital native does not make someone a social media expert or marketer.

4. Google is working with the IFA to make Google more franchise-friendly. This is a important development for concepts that are not brick and mortar.

5. We’ve heard of success across different franchise systems using a retargeting program. Retargeting keeps track of people who visit your site and displays your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online. Every time your prospect sees your ad as it follow them, your brand gains traction and more recognition. This Kate Upton Carl's Jr.has resulted in higher click-through rates and increased conversions.

All interesting stuff you say, but we know you want more Kate Upton. OK, we get it.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

25
Feb
13

Top 10 Things We Learned at the IFA Conference (Part 1)

Seven inches of snow greeted the Weise Communications team upon landing in Denver from the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2013 conference in Las Vegas. Paris Hilton AdThe conference was full of highlights, including:

CEO of CKE Restaurants, Andrew Puzder explaining how Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s bucked the trend of targeting mom’s with children for a fast food restaurant and changing to a ‘Young Hungry Guys’ target which led to the infamous Paris Hilton commercial and unprecedented revenue increases.

A lasting, and to many frustating experience, was the image is the ½ mile long line of people queuing up to attend the speech given by former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Her speech and the following Q&A were fantastic. She received multiple standing ovations from this friendly audience.

The four-day conference didn’t disappoint. After panels, concurrent sessions, roundtables and a host of meetings, we are going to break-up the top ten takeaways Tracy and I collected at the conference. Today, the first 5 takeaways deal with macro trends and issues that are franchise business specific. In part 2, we will reveal our marketing takeaways.

1. In 2012, there was optimism that economy is turning and that financing for franchisors and potential franchisees was beginning to loosen. That optimism has continued despite the November election eliminating the chance of a lower corporate tax rate.

2. Speaking of the elections, instead of focusing on electing business-friendly government officials, the election has provided certainty how the country will be governed. We are already seeing the impact of higher taxes, burdensome regulations and costly entitlement programs. The franchising industry response needs to be: adapt, figure out how to work the rules and grow business.

3. In a panel discussion featuring Shelly Sun of BrightStar Tariq Farid, CEO Edible Arrangements and Steve Greenbaum, CEO PostNet there was an exchange about indicators of when to make changes to the franchise business model. Tariq said all franchise systems will eventually have to change. Steve provided us with key indicators on when to consider making changes. They included:

  • When your customers’ needs have changed
  • When technology has evolved past your business
  • When there is over-saturation in the marketplace
  • When there is an absence of differentiation with your business and the marketplace
  • When year over year sales are flat or declining

4. There was a lot of discussion about paying referrals to franchisees to gain new franchise sales leads. There are two legal concerns that need to be considered:

  • If a franchisor pays too much for a referral, they are exposing themselves to a potential liability. The franchisee could be considered a broker and be exposed to licensing issues
  • The franchisee could be held to the same financial disclosure requirements as the FDD

5. Operation Enduring Freedom and the VetFran Program has been a raving success. The stated goals were to recruit and hire 75,000 veterans to careers in franchising by the end of 2014. IFA President Steve Caldeira gave an update during his State of Franchising address: 64,880 veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors have started careers in franchising.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

Be on the lookout for our top five marketing takeaways from 2013 International Franchise Association Conference.

 

12
Feb
13

More than Social Media: Marketing to Millennials

Millennials: They are mobileWhile attending an emergency preparedness workshop last week, there was a robust discussion regarding the role of social media in an emergency. There were two groups of people that discounted social media.

  • First, there were those people that reside in rural areas. They argued that cellular coverage was spotty, 3G and 4G networks virtually non-existent. They needed a more reliable communication method in an emergency.
  • Second, was a distinct generational gap – the Baby Boomers in the room (born before 1964) were unanimous in denouncing the importance of social media.

Interestingly, there was a group of Millennials (born after 1984) in the workshop who were unanimous in stating the power of social media. Full disclosure: I am in Generation X (1965-1984), and in this workshop the Gen Xers were divided about the importance of social media.

The generational gap became an interesting discussion among the small group of marketing professionals. The following are the differences I see in marketing to Boomers v. Millennials.

Category

Baby Boomers

Millennials

Advertising Method Unwelcomed Interruption Engagement
Advertising Content Features and Benefits Sincere Authenticity
Desired Response Reaction Share/Interaction
Desired Result Repeat Users Engaged Participants
Expectations Big Promises Personal Gestures
Marketing Success Consumer Co-creator
Never Return Broken Promise Corporate Shill


Marketers have figured out how to position their products and services to the Baby Boomers. However, for many, it is a new frontier in marketing to Millennials. Here are a few tips:

  • Tablets are currency to the MillennialsCompanies must develop a participation strategy in order to engage Millennials. This is not a quick fix; patience, consistency and long-term commitment are key factors to success.
  • Companies must provide a way to make Millennials look good to their peers. All you need to do is look at the way Apple markets products. The white earbuds of an iPod became an iconic symbol. If you had the earbuds, you were identified as part of the inner circle.
  • Millennials strongly desire to be part of the solution supporting a greater cause. They favor employers who actively support charitable organizations and they purchase products and services from companies that are active with altruistic endeavors.
  • Mobile presence is no longer negotiable if you are targeting Millennials. It is not just access by smartphone; they are also using tablets and gaining knowledge about your company through mobile apps.

All in all, if you want success in marketing to Millennials, you should seriously consider utilizing these four tips. Even better, when combining these tips with a reward program that provides genuine value as compensation for loyalty, you have a winning formula. Because what Millennial doesn’t like ‘free’ compensation.

Let us know your thoughts on marketing to Millennials. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

06
Feb
13

“2013 Health Care Advertising: Looking for Answers”

Here is a preview of my featured article,”2013 Health Care Advertising: Looking for Answers, seen in the February issue of The Review.

To read the entire article, click here.

With the future of health care evolving, consumer behavior and attitudes must be examined. Weise Communications Co-founder and President Tracy Weise offers her top five suggestions for health care advertising and consumer engagement for 2013.

1.            Create Medical Communities through Social Media

Hospitals and health care systems can optimize outreach to educate consumers by moving beyond corporate websites and creating a strong social media presence via social media sites, blogs, referrals and webinars.

2.             Increase Engagement with Mobile Media

As more consumers utilize their smart phones and tablets for Web browsing, medical apps will allow consumers to order medication, set appointments, learn about health initiatives and obtain the contact information of health care institutions.

3.            Take a Broad Approach to Community Wellness

Online and offline advertising communication messages featuring, “well care” not just “sick care” will motivate consumers to take control of their own health in order to decrease hospital readmissions.

4.            Be Keenly Aware of the Competition

In order to prevent patients from traveling far and wide seeking optimal doctors and ideal medical costs, health care advertising can lesson competition for the health care consumer by creating specific and consistent messages to target audiences.

5.            Show Sensitivity for Consumer Anxiety Through Proactive, Targeted Communications

Health care institutions can ease consumer fears of the changing health marketplace by emphasizing positive messages about health care changes, providing dedication to community health, and advocating for the most profitable health care institutional services.

 




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