Category Archives: advertising

Recession or not? Who to believe (2)

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Yesterday I talked about the divergent views around whether or not Canada`s economy is in recession.

It`s made worse by campaign theatrics around who can better manager the economy, like anyone has control over the price of oil.

Consumer spending is up, employment is up. Energy sector is having a rough time.

small bizThe concern is that all this political rhetoric can have a significant impact on small business in what for many should be the best quarter of the year.

I spent 30 years in the newspaper business and weathered two recessions in that time. The first indicators of an economic downturn in both cases came in the automotive and real estate sectors. Both were major advertisers and both cut their advertising budgets by significant amounts.

The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday – ` Excluding the oil, gas and mining sectors, the economy actually grew in the second quarter, thanks to higher consumer spending on the strength of the housing market as well as a modest jump in exports, led by the automotive and energy sectors.`

So, let`s take the optimistic view for the sake of small business in this country.

Make no mistake. We are open for business.








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Where Do You Leave Your Fingerprints?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Our fingerprints are a sure-fire way to identify us. We leave them everywhere, and we never give a second thought to it when we touch something. The same holds true with our businesses. We are leaving our finger prints on so many things that to trying to figure out all the places they could be is an impossible task.

Now, of course this may not worry you in the least, but it is beginning to worry me. As a strategist who works with businesses every day, and tries to find the most optimum way to gain market reach and exposure, or consolidate branding messages, I am responsible for leaving those fingerprints as well. If you haven’t yet figured it out, the fingerprint I am talking about is digital, the amount of data that is left on the internet, where today, any smart phone or tablet can access it. Like the “footprints” that were the buzzword only a few years ago, we are leaving these digital fingerprints any time we put any type of information anywhere on the web.

My fear is not that my fingerprint is using up valuable resources that will someday in the future affect the next generations, but that we are getting to a point of what I refer to as “Communication Smudge”. Just touch the screen on your device and the amount of information that we are bombarded with becomes a blur. Getting a message out becomes increasingly difficult. How do you market your product or service electronically and actually get seen? It often reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who. Our message is like the tiny world that sits atop a dust speck on the top of a clover that Horton the Elephant finds in a field.iStock_000005044123Small

Each minute the amount of “stuff” added to the web is simply astounding, and causes the “smudge”, one message just melts into the next. A recent article posted by Neil Spencer illustrates in dramatic style what gets pumped online every minute of every day, and the finger print remains eternally. Here are some highlights:

  1. Over 204,000,000 emails
  2. 48 hours of YouTube uploads
  3. 571 new websites go online
  4. 684,000 Facebook entries
  5. 100,000 tweets.

I didn’t even mention the number of blogs, “likes” and apps that are committed to internet pipelines each minute.

Where and how it will it end? I don’t know. Your digital fingerprints are helping to clog up the system. Perhaps we will reach a point where face to face interaction will once again be the norm and business intelligence won’t come from a touch screen. Pass the Windex!




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Filed under advertising, blogging, Communications, Facebook, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, social media

Why do we hate advertising?

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Advertising has become a pariah .

Consumers will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the stuff, particularly on TV, with PVRs, online viewing options like Netflix and torrent downloads.

So where did it go wrong?

Consumers  are tired of being tricked, manipulated and treated like idiots. The advertising industry ranks somewhere between politicians and used car salesmen (with apologies to used car salesmen) in public opinion and it’s getting worse not better.

big earsPeople are better informed today, have access to unlimited information and have the ability to consult friends and even strangers about a wide range of  the products and services. Does anyone travel anymore without checking the reviews on the  airline, the hotel/resort  and the food? Would you buy a car without checking reviews online? So, when you tell me it’s new and improved I am just liable to check that out.

Chloe Della Costa, Associate Editor, iMedia Connection makes some great points in her article Why people hate the ad industry.

Chloe says advertising can still rescue its reputation and it will take a mammoth shift away from monologue to dialogue. Stop yelling at us and ask us what we think.

It’s particularly difficult this time of year with so many fighting for our consumer dollar. It’s like a siege -newspapers, magazines, flyers, TV , radios and in-mall advertising.

There is so much noise, I wonder if anyone is listening.

What do you think?

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Strange new and old products

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

I am fascinated by people who create products or services that outwardly seem to have little chance of success, but somehow rise to the occasion. Equally fascinating are the big names that launch products that seem to stray so far for the knitting that you wonder what was going through their heads.

Ben gay mistepFor instance Cosmopolitan knows something about magazines but its  yogurt lasted 18 months. Life Savers, one of the top brands in non-chocolate candy and mints, failed miserably in the soda business. Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water failed because it was missing the key ingredients of barley and yeast. Colgate  Kitchen Entrees did not exactly get taste buds tingling. Pepsi AM and  Crystal Pepsi ignored the fact that consumers expected their cola to be brown. Bic tried to expand its disposable razors and  lighters to disposable underwear?  Ben-Gay cream, great for aches and pains, tried an aspirin but  the idea of swallowing Ben-Gay was not so appealing. And there was new Coke, the Edsel and the list goes on and on. See Top 25 Biggest Product Flops of All Time .

automatic-toilet-flusher-for-catsThen there is Strange New Products and they have a whole list of stuff that is, well, strange like this Automatic Toilet Flusher for cats. Or the hairbrush for bald men.  And Bacon Shaving Cream.

We all remember strange products that took off for a while like the Pet Rock?

Consumers loved these products.
Rubik's cubeThe website 24/7 Wall St. reviewed product categories that generate widespread attention and command lasting loyalty. It then identified individual products that had the highest sales in those categories – the 10 best-selling products of all time.
Rubik’s Cube
Harry Potter book series
Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’
Mario video game franchise
‘Star Wars’ film series
Toyota Corolla
Then there are the misfits; the most unlikely to succeed like the Pet Rock.
Pet rockIn the 1970′s it was the  “perfect pet”.  No  need to be feed, water, walk or bathe. Gary Dahl, an advertising executive from California bought a bunch of stones from a builder’s supply store, packaged them in cardboard boxes with holes (so the rocks could “breathe”), and marketed them as serious “pets”.  Lorna Li lists nine other seemingly stupid ideas that made millions at 10 Stupid ideas that made millions.
Our world is changing exponentially and while services like Facebook and Twitter were inconceivable a generation ago, they are the driving force in promoting new ideas, services and products today.

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Filed under advertising, Stephen Rhodes

Word of mouth requires word of mouth

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

About a year ago I watched my 15-year-old grand-daughter text her girlfriend, who was sitting opposite on the couch. My wife thought it was a secret conversation that perhaps they didn’t want to share. But since then, some of my friends have shared similar experiences with today’s youth and I am concerned that they will lose the skill that will best elevate their careers, promote their businesses, advance their cause. Word of mouth.

Text MessagingWord of mouth is the cash cow of marketing. Yet, we seem to go to great lengths to avoid our customers. Are we afraid of what they might say? Do we lack confidence in our product or service offering?

Strange, perhaps, that social media is forcing us to acknowledge that being social is good for business. The tools are there to help build on that social interaction not create a barrier between you and your customer. And for businesses that get it, tools like Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest provide a foundation on which to build a strong business relationship that ultimately means face time and that’s where business begins.

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Filed under advertising, Communications, Facebook, LinkedIn, Marketing, Pinterest, social media, Social Networking, Stephen Rhodes, twitter