Friday, November 26, 2010

Santa Goes Mobile

Today is Black Friday, the day that marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Retailers will be gauging sales to see if we have turned the corner from the recession. Retailers are also on the alert. Ho, Ho, Ho; Santa is going mobile!

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Mobile marketing is on the rise thanks to more Web-enabled smartphones in the market. According to the October 2010 U.S. Mobile Briefing conducted by The Mobile Marketing Association, 59% of mobile consumers plan to use their mobile phone for holiday shopping compared to 25% in 2009. The briefing also revealed that 64% of the respondents that plan to use their phone to facilitate shopping, will check their phone before even stepping foot into a store. Asians, Hispanics and adults ages 25-34 are the three demographic groups that will use their phones the most; 13% of mobile holiday shoppers expect to use their phones to purchase or pay for their gifts.

Marketers understand the mobile channel facilitates a way to cut through the clutter. Consequently, in recognition of how consumers interact with content, they have geared up to provide an enlightened mobile experience this holiday season. Big-box, mobile commerce pioneer, Target is leading the surge. To demonstrate my point, let us get into the shoes of a typical, 25-year old Target consumer that is going to utilize their iPhone this holiday season. Yesterday, while sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, under the table they were busy checking out to prepare for today – store specific maps to better navigate the store to find Black Friday deals; searching the main Christmas category for gift ideas by age group that includes photos, ratings/reviews, availability and aisle location; managing their shopping lists. Today after sleeping in, they will wake up to a notification of Target’s daily deals complete with some scannable mobile coupons and then text their friends to exchange gift ideas. Later, they will check in from their local Starbucks in their weekly quest to become a Foursquare mayor and view Red Robin’s new YouTube video for the Gingerbread shake since there is a Red Robin across from the Target store they previously selected on their store locator. Once they arrive at the store, they will check in and be busy texting, tweeting, updating their Facebook pages, checking out Facebook Places to see the latest Gap deals, etc.

Santa, face reality, technology has taken over. You now live in the new age of social commerce. I suggest you get online to listen to all the social engagement that is influencing consumer behavior since the experts are forecasting that holiday mobile usage for 2011 will jump to 75%. I also suggest, instead of sweating over your gift lists, go down to Red Robin, purchase some gift cards to get your bonus bucks for your bucks and don’t forget to have a Gingerbread shake with your burger.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Last Thursday I wrote about America’s culinary preferences for their Thanksgiving feasts. Today I would like to address the sober topic, the number of people that are not enjoying the bounty of food in our country. According to the USDA, approximately 50 million Americans are food insecure.

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Food insecurity: The limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods for all household members. As stated above, in the USDA’s new study, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009, revealed that 50 million (16.6%) Americans are food insecure – 1 in 6 Americans. More alarming, the report indicated 1 in 4 children; 17 million in total are food insecure. In a report commissioned by Feeding America and The ConAgra Foods Foundation, Child Food Insecurity, failing to provide children with adequate nutrition not only results in health and physical developmental issues, but it impairs their cognitive learning development.

The good news – the Senate unanimously approved the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act in August which commits $4.5 billion to various child nutrition programs over the next ten years. The bad news – the bill is currently stalled in Congress. Why has the bill been stalled? Ironically, members of Congress and anti-hunger groups are protesting the funding because the Senate proposed taking money away from the future food stamps program. I apologize for being repetitive, but bottom-line, we have a hunger problem here in America, just ask the 50 million Americans that might not be enjoying turkey with stuffing, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie Thursday. Maybe Capitol Hill can find the money somewhere else.

So let us all be thankful Thursday for our good fortunes. I wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving holiday. I am off to New York to celebrate with my family, but will be back Friday with Santa Goes Mobile.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Turkey Everyone?

Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving next week. Consequently, I have been inspired to write a two part series about the holiday. Today I would like to address how marketers and trend watchers are gearing up to monitor our nation’s culinary preferences.

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For those reading my post that are hosting Thanksgiving this year, you are probably beginning to experience “what am I going to serve?” angst. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Last year in a New York Times article I read that searches for Thanksgiving recipes on Google have increased steadily over the past five years, doubling between 2007 and 2008. No surprise, people tend to wait until the last minute, thus by Wednesday there will be a surge in search volume. last year reported that by 5 p.m. 410,000 people had queried turkey recipes. According to its President, the site builds its server capacity the day before Thanksgiving to handle their hourly volume of one million page views.

Search data not only reveal Regional preferences, but also give marketers a snapshot of the cook’s age or behavior. Younger cooks tend to view "how to cook or roast a turkey" videos on YouTube (over 7,500 videos), while the exotic chefs check out recipes for turducken (a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey). May I share a few more Thanksgiving bytes:

Sweet potato casserole continues to be the most popular search nationwide – 37 out of the 50 states.

Number Two? You guessed it, string bean casserole; 605 out of every 1,000 searches.

Pies locked up the next three spots on the search list – pumpkin, pecan and apple respectively.

New Yorkers led the country in the number of searches for caterers; Oregon in the number of searches of how to make Tofurkey.

Why wait until next Wednesday? Just click on and save yourself some angst. Monday I will post part two of my Thanksgiving series, Leftovers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Three Smart LinkedIn Tips for Professionals

Commitment, commitment, commitment.

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Don’t worry this is not going to be another one of the typical social media posts written by another one of the self proclaimed, online social media gurus. Instead this is a post written by a networking junkie who has failed numerous 12 step programs. I developed my networking habit pre-Web 2.0. Thanks to LinkedIn, my habit has gotten worse.

LinkedIn is a great networking tool that supplements my classic networking modus operandi. The one common principle that pertains to whether I network online or offline, I made the commitment early on. I established a goal to be a long-term sustainable networker who values relationships. So the three smart LinkedIn tips I would like to share are: commitment, commitment, commitment.


· Once you start, stay committed.
Great networks are not built overnight.

· Once you start because you need to find a job, when you land the job, stay committed. In this turbulent economy, chances are you might get fired again, and again, and ……….

· Once you start because you are looking for a business opportunity that does not yield immediate results, stay committed. One of my best business opportunities surfaced after ten years over a cup of coffee because I was committed and remained connected to the individual who looked me in the eye and said: “You are right, I need a business plan.”

· Once you start participating in a discussion group because you read a whitepaper on How to Use LinkedIn for Business, stay committed. Maybe you will not truly engage/connect with anyone, but worse case you will learn that LinkedIn discussion groups are a great place to learn. The same applies to participating in Q&A.

· If you read a blog about how important it is to engage with people you connect with via LinkedIn, stay committed. Authentic engagement takes time to cultivate.

In closing, I have met my fair share of networkers in my lifetime, but I have only met a handful of great networkers. What makes them great? They make the commitment!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Juking the Stats

Are our social media gurus Juking the Stats?

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The expression Juking the Stats was made popular by David Simon, creator/writer of the highly successful HBO series, The Wire. Simon believes America is populated by people willing to manipulate the system, make whatever they are doing appear right to achieve their goals.

I am still learning when it comes to social media. Thanks to working with companies that are just beginning to formulate their social media movements, I have disciplined myself to research and experiment in this new media world on a regular basis. Candidly, I sometimes feel overwhelmed when I filter through all the information/data. However, I do concur with all the self-proclaimed experts (a.k.a. social media gurus) that we all need to listen first, act second. Listening equates to finding/building your community. I believe building a community requires hard work and you build an engaged community one member at a time. Others believe in loading the numbers or Juking the Stats. Let me share:

· Consultants are beginning to use third-party software to increase their client’s number of followers like uSocial for Twitter. The more followers you have, the more people instantly know what your business is about or do they? Better yet, are the followers in your target market?

· Rewarding fans for “liking” a brand on Facebook has become common practice. In my industry Einstein Bagels offered a free bagel to new fans. In three days their community exploded from 4,700 to 350,000 fans. Is this a prudent way to recruit an authentic fan base long-term? A recent ExactTarget Study on How and Why Facebook Users Interact with Brands revealed that 39% friend a brand to show support for a company; 40% do so to receive discounts or promotions; 36% to get a “freebie.”

· Be on the alert for Mommy Bloggers who have been recruited to be
Brandies and become a Facebook fan. Recently I was monitoring a pizza chain restaurant that offered fans a free gift card if 100,000 signed up by October 31st. By the middle of October, I realized they were falling short of their goal. Then I began to read on their Facebook page that people indicated that the Brand Ambassador or sent me; each new fan was welcomed. Out of curiosity I drilled down and discovered two Mommy Bloggers that posted a contest on their sites, enter to win $25 if you became a fan of the chain. Authentic? Faux? Your call.

· Beware of “Black Hats,” search engine optimization (SEO) tactics that are designed to achieve higher search rankings in an unethical manner – keyword stuffing or using hidden text or links.

Are you honestly building your social media community one member at a time or
Juking the Stats?

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Opacity prevents change.

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I love words. Consequently I have disciplined myself to utilize the dictionary whenever I come across a word with which I am unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Today, in an op-ed about the current state of affairs in America, the author wrote: “Opacity kills.” I then learned the concise definition of opacity is dullness. I immediately made the connection to two blogs I wrote about the subject of status quo;
The Waiting Place and A Lesson From Charlie Bottomline, status quo, doing the same old thing, breeds mediocrity; to me mediocrity is a form of opacity that prevents change.

Recently I received a Pitney Bowes direct mail piece for their new Mailstation 2™ digital mailing system. Made me question: 1.) Marketing is moving to Web 2.0 and utilization of social media tools. What is the market potential for their product; and B.) I hardly use snail mail anymore. Why was I included in their target market? Answer: Pitney Bowes suffers from opacity.

Don’t be the last to change with the times. Remember, opacity prevents change.