Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Ultrafast Release Cycles and the New Plane

In Kathy Sierra’s post, she discusses a comment her daughter made, and how it applies to release cycles and customer demands. He daughter’s comment was, “Myspace keeps doing what everyone wants, and it happens instantly. As soon as you think of something, it’s in there. It’s always evolving. It changes constantly. There’s always something new. Myspace is like a whole new plane of existence.” Kathy discusses how the inherent idea expressed in Myspace’s success is that they are so on top of new technology that they have created a cult following by innovating, and responding immediately to changing demands. Kathy looks at the problem from her perspective as a much older consumer, and asks her daughter if people get discouraged by the fact that nothing remains stable. He daughter just rolls her eyes, because in the daughter’s mind, the more change the faster, the more attractive the program. Her daughter goes on to say that even people who are dissatisfied by a particular change are not especially put off because they know that it will change soon enough again anyway. This idea relates to marketing because it explains that people want new options faster, but so what? This is a fairly obvious concept; however, the more vital aspect is what this means for the company. In my last post about Kathy’s discussion of what makes an expert I discussed her idea that companies just need to change and innovate as much as possible in order to be experts because if they just stick with what is working for them at the time they will never reach their full potential. However, this is a fairly risky strategy. But, what Kathy’s daughter brings to light is that it may not be as big of a risk as we had once thought because consumers may not punish a company for trying to stay cutting-edge and perpetually innovating. In fact, customers will probably reward it. Instead of customers focusing on what is currently wrong with whatever high tech product or service they may be using, they now appear to be focusing more on what the company has brought them in the past, and the limitless possibilities that await them in the future.
An important comment that Kathy makes about her daughters comments are that her daughter said that “Myspace keeps doing what everyone wants” and “As soon as you think of something, it’s in there.” Kathy makes the point that Myspace is in the consumer’s mind. It is no longer important to just listen to what consumers want, you have to know it intuitively. This crystal ball theory seems to imply that the employees must be consumers of the product/service themselves because otherwise they will not know what people really want and what they will and will not use.
This informs my idea of marketing because it shows that a company is allowed to make mistakes. For instance, our blog didn’t work last week. There was some sort of rogue code or a faulty template that had been implemented (certainly not by us), and yet we didn’t go elsewhere as a class. Why? Well, aside from the inconvenience, we like that fact that our blog looks cool on Blogspot, that it has a variety of fonts and colors offered. We like the ease of editing and previewing, etc. And even though our blog was down the one day we really needed it (the day a journalist came to document our class blogging project for publication) we stayed because who knows what Blogspot will come out with next? Maybe in the future we’ll be able to play videos in the background. Maybe we’ll be able to see a 3D visualization of Kelly’s discovery of radically new “urinal marketing.” Who knows?
My only critique is that Kathy seems to be discussing the demographics in terms of age the whole way through the post, and when she gets to the end, she comments “So there is a huge challenge for developers/authors/teachers like myself who are creating for people who are younger than we are.” As much as this makes sense on the surface, it doesn’t make much sense when talking about tech products/services because though teens may frequent sites like Xanga or My Space, and older people may use Blogspot, it is still the same technology and often it is the same features because the technology itself is so flexible and can be used for playing music in the background of an online diary or playing a video for a class full of students. In this sense it seems she should be focusing more on other segmentation that would require differentiation of employees in the tech industry and individual businesses.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Legislation May Cause Online Casinos to Fold

This week on Marketing Shift, John Gartner made a short posting entitled, ‘Congress Bets on Closing Casinos’. In it, he describes a piece of legislation that seeks to put stop to the hundreds of millions of dollars that flow from the 8.5 million regular online players in the U.S. through internet poker rooms and casinos daily to places like Antigua, Gibraltar, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. Gartner’s post is quite short, but it links to an article on Reuters which goes a bit more in depth.

The article explains that the bill which originated with the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, would make it illegal for an online gaming business to accept money (in the form of a credit card deposit, wire transfer or otherwise) from a resident of the United States in a state where online gaming is prohibited. The law does not outlaw horse racing or fantasy sports. The bill will soon be open for consideration on the House floor.

Online gambling has become big business, to the tune of $12 billion per year according to Reuters. Party Gaming, the corporation who controls Party Poker, went public on the London Stock Exchange for over ₤5 billion last year and over ninety percent of their revenues come from the United States.

There are some major issues involved with this that I would like to discuss. It is already illegal to participate in online gaming because it is considered a form of money laundering under the Federal Wire Act. However these entities, online poker sites in particular, have been advertising primarily during poker related television programming. They do this by promoting .net sites at which players can only wager ‘play money’. The real wagering goes on at the .com sites. The problem with this is that the .net sites incur huge losses (₤70.6 million in 2005 for Party Gaming), and the only way they generate revenue for the company is to transfer people to playing at the real money sites where the companies collect ‘rakes’ by hand in cash or ‘ring’ games and entry fees for tournaments. Most players find the quality of play on the .net sites to be poor, and become annoyed or successful and ultimately try their hand at the .com, real money versions.

It is interesting that these sites operate in a gray legal area at best but are still allowed to advertise on national television and promote their sites in various other ways. It seems as though they have found a serious hole in the legal system and are driving their armored trucks loaded with cash right through it. As of now this is draining money from the American economy in that tax revenue is lost. In addition, the revenue from poker, which is an American creation, on the internet, another U.S. innovation, goes outside our borders.

The meteoric rise of poker, including online poker, has coincided with the nationwide, highly suggestive “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” 'Only Vegas' campaign. The advertisements promote using fake identities, and show awkward situations where people describe their trip to Las Vegas, leaving out what might be inappropriate to discuss with others. Is gambling illegal? In most places. Is it immoral? By the general consensus… probably not anymore. Poker video games have been rated ‘Everyone’, meaning they are appropriate for children. In the ‘wired’ age where almost everything is convenient and instantly accessible, why should gambling be any different? If Washington were to cast down this bill and legalize online gaming in addition, it would entice businesses to move from their offshore locations into the U.S., bringing their tax revenue along with the 60% margins that the sites operate with back to U.S. soil. The United Kingdom has already done so.

There are clear taboos about online gambling. One is that they target people with a problem, just like tobacco and alcohol companies. However only one of the former is publicly persecuted. Is online poker 'Evil, harmful and addictive' like tobacco, or 'Enjoyable! (harmful and addictive)' like alcohol. My feeling is that people can squander money or place wagers plenty of ways, and in turn outlawing online gaming will not solve the problem of problem gambling. Whatever the decision, the government needs to eliminate the gray area that these websites operate in so there is some grounded legality for the matter, even if the morality remains uncertain.

My critique of this piece is that it was very short and since I am very interested in this topic it left me wanting me more information. As a result I did my own research on Sports Illustrated, Lexis Universe, and Wikipedia.

Commie Marketing Manifesto

Why is it communist? Discuss.

Advertising in Pink

“Targeting Ads to Biz Women”

March 21, 2006

The blog that I chose to write about this week was an easy selection – Toby dedicated it to me! If that isn’t inspiration to make a comment, I don’t know what is.

In Targeting Ads to Biz Women, Toby writes about Pink magazine, which is a magazine devoted to career-minded women. She specifically analyzes the publication’s advertisements and their focus on business women (or lack thereof). How fitting for a female marketing major at Bentley.

Toby declares that 80% of the ads in Pink are appropriately targeted towards career women. Some of the different approaches that the ads took towards attracting women were interesting: Price Waterhouse Coopers featured an ad showing pink shoes on the beach, along with a narrative/poem written about women and their struggles to develop successful careers while maintaining their “feminine” roots and values; New York Life’s ad displayed three colored women with an inspirational message that could have been written for men or women; Toby goes on to describe several different approaches that were taken throughout the magazine which target female executives to various degrees.

This story is marketing-related for obvious reasons. Advertisements are a key component of the 4th “Marketing P”: Promotions. A crucial part of creating a strong ad is appropriately identifying and targeting a particular segment of the market. In this case, that segment is women in the business world, which is a rather new target market for companies to reach out to.

The blog notifies readers that marketing specifically towards career-minded women could be a huge opportunity for corporations, and the blog explores possible methods of pursuing such a target. Toby leaves it up to the reader to ultimately decide which ads were effective and which weren’t, but her goal seems to be to create an awareness of the recent trend in advertising and the emphasize its importance in a world where women are making great strides in their pursuit of respect and authority within the business realm. The idea of targeting such a growing demographic in today’s society could be very profitable for companies that pursue such a strategy early on: successful business women would be more likely to purchase from companies that support their goals, mentalities, and emotions in life. Also, as women in business continue to gain power and momentum, they’ll be a demographic with growing disposable incomes – this equates to money in the pockets of those creative advertisers that can effectively target the group.

Targeting Ads to Biz Women improved my understanding of marketing by opening my eyes to the many ways career women can be approached via advertisements. Successful ads could target their femininity while concurrently portraying women as business leaders. Conversely, ads could be just as effective if they spoke to women equally as they would to men, emphasizing the idea that if women truly want equality in the workplace then they want to be treated just like men, no “if”s, “and”s or “but”s. Ads can approach women as super-hero icons, highlighting their accomplishments in family life and in business; or they can speak strictly to the career-focused part of a women in the working world, hinting at the idea that women shouldn’t be expected to maintain their traditional housewife/soccer mom identities at the same time as they make leaps and bounds in the corporate environment. The many different options available to marketers targeting business women reflect the many different “types” of women seeking successful careers. Some hold very traditional family values and would like to maintain their maternal, domestic values while earning some money in the corporate world, while others are devoted wholly to their work and to becoming prosperous, authoritative figures at the office with no desire for a husband and/or children. The majority of women probably fall somewhere in between, but the varieties of “business women” out there are as numerous as the personalities they possess.

My critique of this piece is that readers (or at least me) are left wondering which ads actually were effective and which were not. It would have required some additional research, but it would have been very interesting to know which of the ads that Toby described actually caught their readers’ attention, which ones the women actually stopped to read, which ones convinced women of a certain message or idea, and which (if any) prompted them to act on that message. Did any create additional profits for the companies they represent in the long run? Maybe it would have been nearly impossible for Toby to really gauge the success of the ads in Pink, but it still would have been interesting information if it was feasible to acquire!

"Wagging the Long Tail"

From The BrandBuilder Blog by Olivier Blanchard.

In this posting Blanchard explains Coca-Cola’s new marketing strategy and uses it as a spring board for providing his take on what makes an exceptional product. Coke is “shifting to the long tail,” as it provides a large number of low-volume, high-margin drink categories. Their marketing strategy is focused on how individual beverages fit into consumers’ lives with need states like “enjoyment today” and “feel good today” and “be well tomorrow.” Blanchard, however, believes that simple great taste is at the heart of the “Coke experience” and provides tips for companies on what we might call “How to Wag the Long Tail the Right Way.”

Here are a few core concepts from Blanchard’s “How to Wag the Long Tail the Right Way”:

  • “Drop the gimmicks.” Focus on quality. People don’t buy products because of a catchy slogan or clever packaging or because they make them feel happy or look ‘cool.’ People buy products and tell their friends about them because they are simply good products.
  • “Don’t quantify the culture, penetrate it.” Anthropology is the tool for understanding the customer and finding out what people really want, not statistics. Companies shouldn’t satisfy needs based on market research and numbers, but should really ‘get their hands dirty to find out what makes them tick.
  • “Do your research at the extreme end of the bell curve.” The “game is not about pleasing the majority of the market…It is about creating a product for a very specific core of rabid fans/customers.” Research should seek out those individuals who “live and breathe the stuff that is at the core of your product’s identity.”

Blanchard’s post is marketing related because it attempts to answer a question many marketers struggle with: “what is a quality product?” Primarily it deals with how to figure out what quality is in a product and where to look to find that information. The tips that the author provides warn marketers of the traps that are often easy to fall into such as gimmick-selling on a slogan or other company-created selling points. All of this, it seems, will produce an average product but not an exceptional and exceptionally successful one. A truly great product is based on quality as defined by the consumer.

This article informs marketing in that parts of it ‘fly in the face’ of traditional practice. It gives professionals a new way of looking at marketing strategy and product quality. Blanchard steers marketers away from “quantifying the culture” with numbers and statistical formulas that are created to come up with ‘perfect products.’ He instead urges them to see the bigger picture, understanding their true customers completely. Management usually requires numbers generated by Marketing Research to give them a sense of comfort with the viability of a product before market entry. If Blanchard’s tips are implemented they could initially cause quite a stir in a company. However if they succeed, management will see the results in hard sales figures from the dead-on product they produced for their specific audience.

Blanchard’s post improved my understanding of marketing as it gave me a new starting point for determining what customers want. Often we are taught that if something is not quantifiable, it is not as valuable as something that is. However, I have always found it difficult to forget information I have heard in a focus group, information that came straight from the mouths of the people who could be potential buyers of the product. That sort of information makes more of an impression, in my opinion, than a slew of numbers in a data sheet. This posting helped me to not discount these qualitative pieces simply because they are not as easily generalizable to a wider audience as quantitative data would be. Blanchard doesn’t seem to tell us to throw away the numbers completely, just provides us with a new starting point for research.

A few critiques of the article: we must be careful not to totally kick numbers to the curb. It is difficult to justify tactics if they do not provide adequate ROI. Marketers already have much trouble tying themselves to the bottom line. However, using Blanchard’s tips as a starting point is very valuable, as it allows us to better understand the customer and produce a quality product benefits that will hopefully speak for themselves in sales figures. Additionally, researchers must be cautious with generalizations. It is easy to feel that you understand a group of buyers and then generalize those feelings to other buyers on qualitative research. Such information should not be discounted but should be taken with a bit of caution.

Finally, the authors advice “Drop the gimmicks, focus on quality,” might not be universally applicable to products that are more central to a consumer’s image/identity. It is likely no one will look at you twice for carrying around a can of Tab, but a can of soda does not say as much about a person as the clothes they wear, for example, or the car they drive. Most people don’t buy Gucci or Prada for durability. In this case it is about the product making them “feel happy and look cool.”

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another Point for Publix

This week I decided to comment on a blog posting by a different Brains on Fire author: Jennifer Goff. In this posting, “Another Point for Publix,” Jennifer Goff comments on the new packaging designs used on Publix products. The idea for this blog posting all started because of Goff’s colleague Cathy Harrison who has been a long standing “brand advocate” for Publix, but on this particular day she was excited about Publix’s Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips and their clever new packaging design. For anyone that may not be familiar with Publix, it is a popular chain of grocery stores generally located in the South. Although “most grocery stores try to mimic big brands in their package design... Publix has created its own clean, unique packaging for their store brand.” The package on the Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips catches one’s eye because on the front of the package it says “No tip required” and then on the back there is a small paragraph “that talks about eating restaurant style without being at a restaurant.”

I found this blog posting especially interesting because I also noticed Publix new package design this past Christmas when I was vacationing in Florida. I distinctly remember that when my family and I reached the isle with aluminum foil, the Publix brand packaging jumped out at me. It was extremely simple and clean with a white background but it was also eye-catching and clever. The picture on the front of the rectangular box was of an aluminum foil swan. Another package had an elephant on the front also constructed out of aluminum foil. This packaging was so different that it immediately caught my attention. After seeing this package I noticed that most of the other packages in the store also had white backgrounds and clever designs. From what I have read and observed Publix seems to have a large following of brand loyal customers. Personally, whenever I visit Florida, I will not hesitate to go out of my way to shop at Publix grocery stores.

“Another Point for Publix” is clearly marketing related because it basically discusses two marketing concepts: branding and product package design. It also relates closely to the articles that we had to read for class this week. In the article, “The Voice of a New Anti-brand Generation,” Amy Dacyczyn’s newsletter The Tightwad Gazette suggests saving money by purchasing generic products instead of brand names. While reading this article, I kept thinking that if consumers started buying generic products more frequently then wouldn’t these generic products become household brand names? The innovative marketing tactics and new packaging design used by Publix appears to be just the beginning of this new trend in store brands. Store brands may soon become much more than just generic alternatives.

This story informs marketing by bringing light to a possible new trend in marketing, the branding of generic brands. With the popularity Publix has received by differentiating itself from the big brands, other grocery stores and pharmacies will most likely begin to differentiate themselves as well.

My understanding of marketing was improved by this article because it provided me with a clear connection between our readings for this week and a practical example. This blog also improved my understanding of branding by giving an example of how package design can significantly improve a brand’s image in the minds of consumers.

One critique I have of this blog is that there could have been more information about the Publix company and their new marketing strategies. In addition, Goff could have discussed more of the reasons behind Cathy’s and other customers’ brand loyalty to Publix. One reader posted a comment to this blog explaining the reason that she is personally brand loyal to Publix. She gave examples of how Publix provides the ultimate level of customer satisfaction, where the employees know her by name and the store has created a community feeling with its customers. I believe this is another important factor in why Publix has had such high levels of brand loyalty and success.

Interesting vs. Interested

In honor of my first blog comment (as those of you in class know, I’ve been quite frustrated that I have received no blog comments… until now!), I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s blog to my commenter, Mike Wagner, and write about a posting on his blog site, “Own Your Brand.” Mike is involved with a company (by involved it appears that he IS the company… telling from the website) called the White Rabbit Group that helps companies become “unstuck” in the key areas of sales, internet, branding and innovation.

Mike’s March 16th posting is titled “Want to be interesting? Start by being interested!” and he comments on his experience with brand building and his frustration with companies who perceive brand building as a simple advertising campaign. Mike describes the fact that this usually is a request to make the company appear interesting to its consumers, rather than focus on the true meaning of brand building and ownership, which Mike states is actually “about your interest in the product, the service and ultimately the human beings that become your customers. Brand owners study their customers, reflect on their business and always want to learn more.”

This blog is marketing related as it discusses brand image as well as advertising and the difference between the nature of the two and their relation to the company and the customer. Mike brought up points regarding the level of interest the customer feels a company has for the customer and its correlation to the success of a brand. Overall, Mikes discussion of brand ownership and keys to accomplishing this difficult task relate this blog entry to marketing.

In terms of informing marketing, I believe Mike packs a lot of insight into this blog entry that many marketers may find useful when attempting to build a brand themselves. Often times, as has been demonstrated by past readings (think the railway example), marketers find themselves wrapped up in trying to sell a product and a product alone and making themselves appear interesting to the consumer rather than focusing on the wants and needs of the consumer and actually being interested in understanding the dynamic of the customer. I believe this is a dynamic that is often overlooked and has most likely resulted in the demise of many brands. Mike’s also makes a point regarding the desire to always learn more about consumers and its positive relation to brand ownership. Again, I believe marketers often overlook the process of customer evolution. In order to stay in tune with the customer (especially in today’s post-modern, multicultural world), however, the brand itself must also stay on top of this customer evolution and remain interested in the consumer thus resulting in the customer finding interest in the company who understands him and the establishment of a relationship which ultimately leads to brand loyalty.

This blog greatly improved my understanding of marketing as I was able to gain a clearer perception of what building a brand entails and the work required and the ultimate relationship that is developed with the consumer. In addition, Mike comment, “gentle reader and eager brand owner – tell me: Are you genuinely interested, or are you just trying to be interesting?” further solidified in my mind the idea that marketing does require a level of sincerity and desire to meet the desires of consumers and true marketing and brand building is not a series of manipulative tactics as it can often be portrayed to be.

If I had to critique one thing about this blog posting I would recommend that Mike also include an example on this topic regarding an actual business experience he has had and more related to brand building. Mike provided an example involving his son telling a story, however, I would have loved to learn more about his experience with this topic through a business focused example.

"So Who's The Target Really?"

John Jantsch’s blog titled “So Who's The Target Really?” discusses the idea that businesses should aim to be the target of the consumer market they are trying to sell their product or service to, as opposed to putting all of their efforts into targeting the consumers in different ways. As the author wrote, “Yes, it's true you need to find a narrow market and focus on them. However, I think that small business owners would fare much better if they realized that they could and should be the target. That's right, don't aim for a market, get a market to target you.” He argues that, with efficient and consistent marketing, you can get your target market to target you as opposed to the other way around.

He points out that many businesses change their marketing strategy so often that consumers can’t understand what they are trying to sell or communicate to their audience. Jantsch argues that the company should instead stick with one message for their marketing campaign and relentlessly market that message and eventually they will win over their consumers with their consistency. As he writes, “Stop changing what you say, what you look like, what you do - stick with something long enough, repeat it over and over until it makes you ill (or becomes a mantra) then, and only then, will your prospects target you.”

This story is marketing-related because it discusses a problem that many small businesses have. Jantsch writes about attracting consumers and also the concept of the target market, both of which are heavily related to marketing. He explains that in order to have effective marketing you have to stick with your idea or message and be persistent with that, instead of changing your message too often and losing potential consumers.

This reading informs marketing by exposing a small business problem and providing a plausible solution for it. He describes the Buddhist concept of the “monkey mind” which is “the name for that clamoring in you head that hates the silence, hates the mundane, hates to sit still”. He relates this to marketers who hate to sit still and listen to a repetitive marketing message. He informs the reader that this is not a healthy business decision because it will confuse the target consumers and will lose more of them than it will attract.

This blog improved my understanding of marketing because it informed me that, although it may seem that your method of marketing is not working, you have to give it some time in order to see the full effect of your marketing. It added to my understanding of marketing by exploring the topic of the target market and marketing message. It also provided me with a new concept, the idea of being the target as opposed to the consumers being the target.

My only critique of the blog was that it did not provide any examples. It would have been nice to read about real world examples with companies who have used this marketing method to gain market share and a good reputation. It would have made it easier to relate to the concept and would have made the article seem more trustworthy.

Tier Today, Gone Tomorrow: Navigating the aftermath of the customer revolution

The author believes that it is incredibly important for marketers to review some basic strategies and concepts in marketing. In order to help his readers do so, he began the week with a Back to Basics lesson:
The basic 101 lesson:
"Traditionally consumers' tastes and behavior were somewhat layered, tiered. Those with disposable income spent it on products that matched their buying power and budgets.”

The strategic 600 lesson:
"Indeed those tiering mechanisms alone are no longer sufficient to influence the purchasing decision. If customers care, they are willing to pay; if not, they will choose the cheapest available product, bragging about the bargain they hunted at, say, eBay, or on the internet in general. Sales decisions have become extremely bi-polar as well: very emotional, impulsive or very rational."

The author of this blog goes on to relate these lessons to a story he was told early in his career. There was a direct-marketing company that came out with a line of high-quality pots and pans, which they sold at a high price. They targeted the high-income tier that typically alligned themselves with expensive high-quality products. However, this company failed to recognize that their target audience mainly found the product to be a mere fashion accessory. Those who actually valued the quality of the product were the poor, working-class immigrants who cooked everyday. They author offers the following moral of the story:To sum up, product tiering is a smart strategy, if you are smart about how the customer is tiering your type of products.

This story is marketing-related because it reminds marketers that they need to be smarter about the manners in which they choose to both position a product and target an audience. Tiering is an excellent concept, but our fast-changing society makes the concept far more complex than it was before. The assumption that they upper-classes will be lured by high prices and high quality no longer stands. It is important to constantly reevaluate values that each target market has. It seems that they are forever changing.

This story informs marketing because it educates marketers as to how to effectively use a particular marketing strategy. Again, tiering can be a very good strategy, but only if it is used correctly. Marketing research is a must in this type of situation. Otherwise, you may find yourself pouring millions of dollars into pushing a product to a group that just isn’t interested in its features.

This improved my understanding of marketing in a very eye-opening way. At Bentley we are constantly preached to about the importance of marketing research. Seeing this lesson being applied to a situation which I could face one day was incredibly interesting. There is no point in placing emphasis on designing a particular feature of a product if that feature does not effect the decision of the target audience. This is where product design meets positioning meets promotion.

Again, the only real critique I have for this piece is that there are not enough examples. Although I found this particular example to be interesting, it would be helpful to see this lesson being applied in a few other instances. Overall, I found the piece to be very insightful.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Urinals: the new marketing medium...

On January 19th 2006, Katherine Stone wrote an article about a new marketing campaign that is very different from anything else out there. It is an “interactive” Heat Activated Urinal Billboard (HAUB). This HAUB is the newest thing that uses the recent technology of heat sensitive ink and went five steps further. The HAUB works in the following way. A man comes into the bathroom and begins to use the urinal. The heat from the urine makes the message appear. Obviously when one is urinating, it is interesting if a message appears in the urinal. After the male leaves, the automatic flusher will wipe away the message by regulating the temperature. The next man that comes into the urinal will not have any idea that there will be a message in the urinal when he urinates.
The interactive Heat Activated Urinal Billboard is “the perfect guerrilla medium,” states Stone. And it appears that is the truth. The HAUB allows for a company to get across its message in an unconventional manner. People are bombarded with marketing messages and information all the time. In order to actually get through, companies must think outside of the box. The HAUB is definitely way outside of the box. It is a marketing communications tool that allows for companies to advertise to men specifically. Additionally, the HAUB will create a buzz effect. People will begin to talk about the funny or interesting advertisement that they saw while they were in the bathroom. Word of mouth around the campaign would explode. Something that eye catching would create so much talk around it that that word of mouth would almost be as important as the campaign’s capture rate itself.
The article informs marketing in a few different ways. First of all, it is important for all marketers to stay abreast of all the current technological advances that are occurring. The heat sensitive ink was taken to the next level of usefulness through HAUB. The article helps to inform marketers about this type of technology that may be helpful for their own campaign. Secondly, the article informs marketing by expressing the different ways to go outside of the box. Marketing managers must be creative and innovative when they are thinking of ways to get their message to consumers. The more ideas and information that they can receive about other companies that have successfully created a campaign that is different from anything else will help them to continue to go outside of the box. If a marketing manager stays ignorant to ideas such as the HAUB, then they will be at a disadvantage in compared to their competitors.
My understanding of marketing was improved in regards to the ways marketers can communicate with their target market. Ideas such as the HAUB cut through the marketing noise that consumers hear all day. It grabs a person’s attention and allows the company a few seconds of a consumer’s time. That is a very important thing for a marketer. The more time you get from a consumer that is focused on your product, the more saturation you will achieve.
The article was extremely interesting. It was very unique and something that I was unaware of before I read it. Stone touched on the technology of the HAUB as well as how one specific campaign used the technology. Additionally, it went into explain the ways that it is beneficial for a marketing campaign. However, it would have been helpful to see more specific numbers on the success of the campaign. I was unclear about how they measured the success of this campaign. The article mentioned that “the interest generated by HAUB in New Zealand, did more for drink driving awareness than any other campaign of its type in the past.” However, I do not have any way to compare that to anything else. It does not say what the capture rate was or any other way that they measured the success. In order for companies to invest in an idea such as HAUB, it is extremely important to be able to way the costs and benefits. If the cost of the HAUB was extremely high monetarily, but the success rate was double that of a slightly less expensive campaign, then it would make sense to use the HAUB. However, none of those numbers were included in the article. The HAUB sounds like a great idea but it was not clear whether it was really feasible for companies.

Original article found at:

In Education, Class Matters

The article “In education, class matters” discusses the impact that social class appears to have on education. The author opens with the hypothesis that “better education” comes from better teachers and more tax money to develop school programs. However, a recent UK study found that the primary factor in how well children do in school is not what type of school they attend, but social class

The study matched almost 1 million pupils with individual postcode and exam scores at ages 11 and 15. The results reveal the fact that although students may be receiving the same education, the actual “social class” composition of the school impacted both the individual students’ success and the entire school performance more than other policy and curriculum-based factors. The author sums it up well by saying: “Put simply, the more middle-class the pupils, the better they do. The more middle-class children there are at the school, the better it does. It is proof that class still rules the classroom.”

The discussion of this study illustrates how social class, however that may be defined, still dominates over so many other factors in determining the behavior of people. The overwhelming influence of social class is important for marketers when segmenting consumers. However, I believe it also provides marketers with information beyond segmentation to communication. If students are shown to have different responses in learning to the same education curriculum, the argument can be made that they would have the same degree of varying responses to marketing communications. If students are processing the information differently in school based on their social class, it can be inferred that they would process marketing communications differently as well. This relates to the article about health care and social class, which argues that “a subculture conceptualization requires that social classes exhibit distinctive modes of thought and lifestyle” (Henry 8). This leads to the proposition that “comprehension of new health information for lower-class individuals will require messages tailored to their specific cognitive styles” (Henry 21). Overall, the findings of this study can be used to support the same may be true for education.

This blog posting and study improved by understanding of marketing because it gave some statistical significance to the fact that behavior is shaped by background and social class. At the same time, the study shed light onto the severe implications that could come from these findings if administrators were to “segment” students based on class. This could lead to a “Tiffany’s/Wal-Mart” strategy in which the upper classes receive the “better” education or additional funding, with policy makers using this research to argue that the money is wasted on lower class students since their class, not the actual education, has a bigger impact on their performance. Also, schools could look at this information from a business perspective and “fire their worst customers,” which are the lower class students since the school’s overall success was also found to be influenced heavily by the social composition of the school. Will the low income, low class students become a low priority?

It is difficult to critique this piece since most of the questions that I have concern getting more details about the study. My previous understanding of marketing and social class from out class discussion made me question some of the terms used in the study. First of all, the posting does not mention exactly what the study defined as “social class” or “social background.” Warner’s model included wealth, occupation, education, and residential location. Many more “subjective” factors can be components of social class, such as race, religion, consumption patters, and manners. For marketers to understand the significance of the findings of this study completely, the exact definition of social class, social background, middle class, and other ambiguous terms would be necessary. Also, the author does not seem to point out the implications of the fact that the study was conducted in the UK, where social class may be more “rigid” than in the US. It would be interesting to conduct this study again in the US to see if it yielded similar results.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How to be an Expert (i.e. Not Suck)

Kathy Sierra’s blog post “How to be an Expert” focuses on what separates experts from amateurs. She says, “The only thing standing between you-as-amateur and you-as-expert is dedication. All that talk about prodigies? We could all be prodigies (or nearly so) if we just put in the time and focused.” She talks about how people always relate masters of a particular skill to being naturally endowed with a predisposition toward it, but that this is not necessarily the truth. Kathy claims that concentration, desire, drive, and a willingness to improve are really the core values that one needs to excel. She extends this point when she says that the experts of fields do not practice more than others, they practice better than others. Kathy coins the phrase, “Most of us want to practice the things we're already good at, and avoid the things we suck at. We stay average or intermediate amateurs forever.” She says that many people do not want to “suck” but that many people get stuck at the satisfied amateur stage (whereby they know that they are not necessarily doing everything as efficiently or productively as they can but do not want to go through the hassle to change their practices). This is especially harmful because the closer one gets to being an “expert,” the more passion they develop about their work. Therefore, people that “suck” really don’t care at all about what they are doing, and they will not only bring themselves, but also the business down. This is related to marketing because firms that just rely on what they have done in the past and do not try to challenge themselves anymore will always stay low on the chain of powerful marketers. Therefore, companies should try to think outside their usual box and try things that they find difficult. This is a risky strategy because firms like to figure out what works for them and then just stay with it as long as the market will permit them to keep using it. However, according to Kathy Sierra, companies should keep pushing themselves to find a better way to do things.

This informed my idea of marketing because it put into clearly identifiable terms and graphics what really ends up harming firms. The mindset that settling at any point along the way will result in mediocrity (or as Kathy Sierra puts it “amateur status”) was something that had never crossed my mind. This is a really good idea to keep in your mind because a lot of people do think that natural skills and considerable amounts of practice are the vital components for success.

There are several critiques that can be made about this article. First of all, the graph is a little flawed. According to the graph, an expert will continue to reach to an infinite ability. Though this may be true on a large societal scale it is theoretically impossible on an individual basis (which is what this scale was designed to accommodate). Similarly, the “drop-out” will eventually reach a negative ability, which is indeed impossible. Also, the y-axis starts at “struggling, frustrating” and goes up to “expert, always in flow;” however, these are not opposites and the latter of the two makes little sense. Secondly, though inspirational this article tries to be so much to so many walks of industry that it is very broad and therefore, overly generalized.

Jason Dowdell of Marketing Shift

Jason Dowdell of Marketing Shift is 32 years old and is orignally from Cocoa, Florida. He worked for a range of companies from Oracle to Gucci before he became an entrpreneur. Since then he has founded numerous companies Including Cutters Choice, Inc., Engine Studio, Inc.,, and He also created Dowdell is also featured on Business Week,, and He has been designing web-based tools designed for search marketing, conversion analysis and market research since 1997, accoridng to his bio on Search Engine Guide. Currently, he acts as the CEO of, which pioneers new ways for using the internet for marketing. He currently resides in Merritt Beach, Florida with his wife and two children.

Toby Bloomberg: The Diva, The Myth, The Legend

Toby Bloomberg is the woman behind the words of the Diva Marketing Blog. She is originally from Boston, but now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Toby’s blog focuses on a fun, innovative approach to marketing concepts and customer service. She is especially interested in the integration of modern-day technologies and their implementations into the marketing world, primarily via the use of blogs. She has over 15 years of experience in marketing, and has been exposed to the field her entire life; her dad owned a marketing research company. Toby is a renowned national speaker and member of many marketing organizations, including the American Marketing Association, the Olympic Organizing Committee, SCORE, and the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association. In addition to the Diva Marketing Blog, Toby is also a published author of Marketing News and She is very well respected in the marketing industry.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Spike Jones and the Brains on Fire writers

Brains on Fire is a company, based in Greenville, South Carolina, that focuses on brand identity consulting. In the company's own words its consultants have been "naming, creating and revitalizing memorable identities that sell products, attract kindred spirits and shake-up entire industries for more than 20 years." Brains on Fire was recognized in 2005 as one of the "World's Top 100 Re-Branding Companies" by ReBrand 100. Furthermore, Brains on Fire is featured in the book Designing Brand Identity: A Complete Guide to Creating, Building and Maintaining Strong Brands- Volume 2 alongside other companies such as Mini Cooper, Fedex Kinkos, and Amazon. The Brains on Fire blog is written by five Brains on Fire consultants: Greg Cordell, Geno Church, Jennifer Goff, Robbin Phillips, and Spike Jones. I have mainly been following the posts written by Spike Jones, the Firestarter.

Spike Jones, a Texan, graduated from Baylor University with degrees in both Environmental Studies and Journalism. After working as a copywriter for companies such as BMW Manufacturing, he is currently a "New Business Hound" for Brains on Fire, mainly working with potential new clients. In addition, Jones has a 90lb. chocolate lab named Mud that is also featured on the Brains on Fire website as part of the clan.

Michelle Miller

When I first read Michelle Miller's biography, I got a little nervous as one of her first sentences stated, "a classical musician by training." My panic ceased, however, as I continued to read and learned that Miller holds degrees in both education and business administration. Past places of employment include Diapers Unlimited delivery service, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Sirius Satellite Radio, as well as her own PR firm of 7 years located in New York. Miller is currently a partner in Wizard of Ads, a source of private consulting, speaking, teaching, and publishing of advertisements for companies. "She maintains a powerful roster of dynamic small businesses across North America, and is an international speaker and teacher on the topic of marketing to women." In addition, Miller has also published a book titled, "The Natural Advantages for Women," which presents the idea that women are "hardwired for personal greatness." Sounds good to me!

Who is Olivier Blanchard?

Olivier Blanchard, author of the BrandBuilder blog, is the founder of BrandBuilder, Inc., a Greenville, SC based marketing consultancy firm that specializes in brand development, customer experience design, marcom and copywriting. These interests are reflected in his blog which often attempts to shed light on the complicated interactions between customers and brands. Blanchard’s postings are down-to-earth and witty and often incorporate hints of his life outside of his profession. In his spare time, Blanchard is a competitive triathlete and photography artist. Photography is more than a passion for Blanchard who is also the co-founder and managing partner of F360 Photo+Design, a visual design studio serving clients including Velo News, Gucci, Hincapie Sportswear and Carolina Triathlon. Blanchard is a frequent contributor to the well-respected Corante Marketing Hub and has received degrees from both the International School of Brussels and South Carolina’s Furman University.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

About John Jantsch

John Jantsch is the author of the Duct Tape Marketing Blog. His blog has been chosen as one of “Forbes Favorite for small business”. He has been awarded "Best Small Business Marketing Blog" by Marketing Sherpa. Jantsch resides in Kansas City, Missouri. He has written a book titled “Duct Tape Marketing - the Only Small Business Marketing Tool You Need”, which is due out this fall. He also conducts marketing workshops for companies such as “Hewlett Packard, American Marketing Association, Small Business Administration, Kauffman Foundation, Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, Associated Builders and Contractors, and National Association of the Remodeling Industry.”

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Kathy Sierra: The Woman, The Programmer, The Legend

Kathy Sierra is the main blogger on Creating Passionate Users, which has let her explore meta-cognition (i.e. how the brain works and how to exploit it for learning and memory) and its relationship to marketing. This study has produced blogs on such topics as why having fun matters, why it’s better not to look for “areas of improvement” on each performance evaluation, and why being an individual contributor preferred over being a “manager.” She is an expert on several software programs such as Java, and has written many tutorial books. These endeavors have earned her the Amazon Top Ten Editors Choice Award for 2003 and 2004. Since then, Kathy Sierra has founded (one of the largest community web sites in the world ). Kathy Sierra’s latest activity is as a master trainer for Sun Microsystems (teaching Java programmers how to program better and with the newest technologies and co-collaborating on the First Head series for John O’Reilly. Her interests include skiing, dunning, horseback riding, and DDR.

B2B Blogger Exposed!!

David Jung is 39 years old is lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a one-man marketing department for a small industrial manufacturing company (with a larger Japanese parent) that sells specialized test equipment to major companies across North America and the world. He started out at Rutgers University as a Mechanical Engineering student, was hired as a salesperson, and a few years later added marketing to his roles. He completed an MBA program at GVSU with a certificate in e-commerce. Finally, he shed the sales task and was promoted to Marketing Manager.

His job is primarily in the tactical execution of marketing, such as advertising, website, catalogs, trade shows, and sales support. He started B2Blog to give himself a place to react to the challenges of marketing in the internet era and the dramatic changes taking place.

David has this message for the class:

“It’s interesting to see your class blogging. I started blogging and reading blogs while I was taking MBA classes. It was surprising how often I wanted to cite blogs as sources in the papers I was writing for my e-commerce and marketing classes. I thing your professor is smart to get you interested in marketing blogs because it is the best way to stay on top of such a dynamic field.”