Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Forever Young

Thanks to over 100 million adult “active gamers” with an average age of 35, video sales in the U.S., an estimated $9.5 billion reported by NPD in 2007, are bigger than movie sales worldwide.

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A recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News ( written by Gregg Cebrzynski ( piqued my interest.
The piece indicated that chains in their quest to seize a larger share of the 18-to-34 year-old demographic are targeting video games for ad placements to build brand awareness and loyalty. Pizza Hut pioneered the strategy back in 2005 with a limited time promotion that achieved great success – online gamers were able to order pizza via the EverQuest II game they were playing ( Numerous chain leaders like Burger King, Sonic, Subway and McDonald’s have also jumped on the bandwagon. Some have gone to the extent to partake in advergaming, the practice of using a video game, usually in the form of a free online game to advertise a product like Taco Bell’s “Taco Fu” ( On the whole, marketing research has confirmed that gamers, especially the targeted 18-to-34 year-old crowds are responding positively to video game ad placements.

Innovative marketing strategy! However, chain marketers need to open their eyes and realize that they are reaching a broader target market. Time to debunk the myth that a majority of the gamers are 18-to-34 year-olds. Here are some quick facts:

· Entertainment Software Association reports that the gamers average age is 35, up from age 24, the number they reported back in 2002. The original gamers have been playing video games for 13 years and are maturing.

· The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is now 40 years old.

People over 50 comprise 26% of all gamers!

· One of the fastest growing groups is Moms over 45. Why? They have time on their hands, plus it has become a great way to bond with their kids. They are a major contributor to the fact that over 100 million adults are now considered active “gamers.”

Since the target audience is broader and more mature than the coveted 18-to-34 year old prospective diners, chains need to re-evaluate their messaging and product offerings to fully capitalize on the gamer community. The older, video gamers are not going to be interested in conquering other worlds, the ongoing battle between good vs. evil, etc. They are going to demand real world skill building situations. Sims a game that simulates a family’s daily living; worldwide is the leading selling PC game in history. Chain advertising messaging should mirror real world challenges. Healthier eating comes to mind. What a great opportunity to devise a game that also communicates healthier menu options like salads, vegetarian product offerings (e.g., veggie burgers) or even organic foods.

Bottomline: Gaming has expanded its demographic boundaries into the mainstream. As a result American grown-ups are staying Forever Young.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Outsourcing Makes $en$e

Outsourcing sales and marketing is a cost effective option for businesses that are on overload to implement key strategic initiatives – new product introductions, segment marketing, etc. A seasoned professional contracted from the outside has the expertise and business network to get the job done in a timely, focused manner.

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“I’m so swamped.”
“There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
“Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve been traveling like crazy and haven’t been able to get caught up.”

Do these lines sound familiar to you? Probably. Because of the demands being placed on corporate America, stress is at an all time high. Yet the result is BS, what I call “Busy Slow.” Little is getting done, long-term execution is nominal at best, and everyone appears to be on a treadmill.

Why is this happening? For starters, corporations are trained in performing financial gymnastics to make their numbers. Staffing is lean and mean. We’re being asked to do more with less, especially those of us in sales or marketing. Make two more calls per day. Identify and implement double-digit market opportunities. And while you’re at it, I need you to cut your operating budget by 25%.

Another impediment is overconnectedness, a term first coined by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times – the growing cultural obsession with being connected everywhere, all the time. This obsession started in the business world. Witness the times you’ve been on a plane when as soon as it lands, all the business people whip out their cell phones to make contact. Then witness how often those same people complain (sometimes practically boast) about the number of emails they receive in a day.

Last of all, there are the common time-wasters incurred in our day-to-day business lives. In a survey I read of the top time-wasters among executives, some of the leading responses were: a shift in priorities, a lack of priorities, ineffective delegation, lack of self-discipline and The Big Black Hole – meetings.

Let these phenomena be your window of opportunity! Change the BS from “Busy Slow” to “Busy Smart” by outsourcing to the next generation of consultants. The old school told you what to do, collected your money and half the time never followed up. You never knew whether their work was even executed. The new breed of outsourced professionals not only advises you on what to do, they work alongside you through the final execution of their efforts.

Why does outsourcing make sense?

Say you’re trying to introduce a new product to the market and you need a reliable professional to get the job done. Compared to the usual options available to you – bringing in resources from another part of your company or recruiting new talent –
outsourced professionals can offer the following:

Expertise. A seasoned professional contracted from the outside has the knowledge and experience to jump right in and make an immediate difference. New people have to be trained and the learning curve will cost you in time and resources.

A valuable industry network. Outsourced professionals have years of networking and industry affiliations under their belts. By hiring them you automatically tap into and benefit from their rich supply of resources. They are your prime connectors for expanding your business network.

Objectivity. As outsiders, outsourced professionals can be completely objective and often provide “a breath of fresh air” to a sometimes stale climate. They can stay focused on the project without getting buried in the routine of corporate culture.

Cost benefits. Think about it. Most new products take somewhere from 18 to 24 months from origin to introduction. Figure the cost of an experienced individual’s salary plus benefits to be approximately $300,000 for a two-year period. Outsourcing would reduce this cost by a minimum of 33%.

Ultimately, you have to find a solution that works best for your organization. Outsourcing isn’t the end to all means, but it is a way to eliminate the BS – and get “Busy Smart.”