>Billboard Advertising Lessons

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It is what it is. A phrase that just makes sense. Recently, I saw it used in a static billboard (non-digital/vinyl/paper). I usually don’t like to point out faults of other campaigns or least not publicly. Everyone has to be a critic, right?

Well, I was driving on 480-east and saw this billboard with large words: “Certified Pre-Owned.” The words were crossed out with “Used” written below. So I’m thinking another car dealership billboard. No big deal. But what struck me was the difficulty in reading the corner graphics. I failed to make out the words. And no, I wasn’t driving too fast as it was morning rush hour (meaning 45 mph if I’m lucky).

I forgot about the car dealership ad until the next day when I was driving on E. 14 about to get on 77 South and there it was again! It was up-close and personal so when I saw in tiny letters, “It is what it is. NoGrapesNoNuts.com” I was shocked!! A GRAPE-NUTS billboard? I understand its a cereal with no grapes, no nuts, it is what it is. But “certified pre-owned/used?” Are they selling used cereal? Huh?

So naturally I jump on the website later that day to find this young actor introducing the history of Grape-Nuts. Its way too long to watch but for the purpose of this entry, I suffered through it. Great, it got me on a website that eventually pointed back to the cereal’s original website. Good job, sort of.

Without pointing out all the wrong and strange elements of this campaign, let’s focus on how you can avoid this train wreck (or is it appropriate to say car wreck? Haha, sorry, that was lame!)…

  1. Make sure your billboard is readable from long distances
  2. Use one theme with one focus
  3. Include big words and one call-to-action
  4. Simple graphics and fonts are better
  5. Keep the flashy toned down when using digital billboards

Let me know your thoughts on NoGrapesNoNuts.com; is it really as bad as I think? Maybe I’m not the demographic, perhaps the younger generations are the target market. Did you see the billboards around town? Send us your comments!

~ Michelle

>Keeping track of the hits

>When I first started to research blogging I was a little confused on how I would keep track of the HUGE amount of traffic coming to our blog.

I first started using FeedBurner, but was greatly disappointed because of the lack of efficiency in the program. Sure, it was easy to use but after weeks of showing not having any visitors I became a little skeptical. I continued searching for more tracking sites without any luck.

I contacted Kristi Gustafson, or as I call her the “real Carrie Bradshaw,” who runs an extremely popular blog for the Times Union in Albany, New York. She guided me to a site called StatCounter.

StatCounter.com tracks not only the number of visitors to your site, but provides you with the length of the visitor’s stay, the pages they visited and even their location. I decided to give it a try, what could it hurt?

Sorry FeedBurner, we are actually having visitors reading our blog daily. StatCounter is reliable, easy to use and my new best friend. Who would have thought you could see a map of the world with markers representing your visitors? StatCounter makes that happen. You can also see which blog topics your readers most often read and their reading pattern throughout your blog.

Go ahead bloggers, give StatCounter a try.

-Katy

>What does C.C. have to do with marketing?

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It was October 2007 and our Cleveland Indians were going up against the Boston Red Sox in the Division Series. “In C.C. we trust,” said Rob. I believed him, and so did all of Cleveland.

We put our entire faith in C.C. Sabathia to lead our Cleveland Indians into the World Series to battle the Colorado Rockies. Sadly, the Cleveland Indians fell to the Boston Red Sox in a game seven loss and went on to beat the Rockies in only four games. Although we lost, C.C. ended up winning the Cy Young Award for his 2007 pitching performance, an award honoring the best picther in the Major Leagues. Today, up against the upcoming trade deadline, the Indians traded their second ever Cy Young Award winning pitcher to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for four prospects.

Although baseball and marketing, outside of the obvious, have relatively nothing to do with each other, this trade does. How many of you would trade your best account (on paper) for four prospects?

-Katy

>Toyota’s going solar

>Toyota Motor Company announced they are planning on releasing some of their next Prius Hybrid models to include solar panels on the roof of the car. The third generation of Prius Hybrids is set to hit market next year. Click here to read the full story.

So, what does this mean for everyone else? Clearly, if automotive companies want to stay competitive in this market they need to think of the economy and the environment. The pulse of the consumers who are interested in buying cars is relatively simple: gas efficient, environmentally friendly, reliable and moderately priced. If you miss any of these factors, you can’t compete. Toyota has an upstanding reputation in each of these categories and is well-known in the industry for that leaving their competition in the dust.

-Katy

>Red, white and blue… and green?

>The green trend has entrenched the automotive, business, decorative and pretty much any other market you can think of… including fireworks? It is true. The Washington Times released an article this week entitled, Greener rockets take off, promoting how new green fireworks are in the works as an effort to have a friendlier impact on the environment.

As the article states, these fireworks are “smoke-free as well as free of potassium perchlorate, an oxidant. Perchlorate, mixed with charcoal and sulfur fuel, is responsible for speeding up the fuel-burning process and achieving the fiery effects that awe a crowd.” Click here to read the full article.

Have a safe holiday!

-Katy

>Basic telephone etiquette

>Question: Have you ever been on a phone call and wondered how to politely suggest telephone manner tips to the person on the other end?

I have. Out of a recent conversation about a phone interview gone wrong, it is obvious everyone knowing the basics of telephone etiquette is a misconception. Most of these tips I am sure you have heard before, but here are a few in case you have forgotten.

– When on the phone, smile. Callers on the other end will hear it in your voice and will most likely be more pleasant in response.

– Identify yourself. When initiating a phone call of which the recipient is not familiar with you, make sure you clearly identify yourself, what company you work for and why you are calling.

– Actively listen. Pretend you are face to face with the person on the other end. Become engaged in the conversation and ask questions if you are unsure of the answer.

– Practice makes (almost) perfect. It sometimes is easier to role play the phone call before you actually make it. Practicing may help avoid some stumbling blocks you weren’t initially aware of.

Open communication lines. If you have a voicemail, check it often enough that it remains empty. This will avoid callers receiving a “mailbox is full” message when trying to get in touch with you.

– The wind tunnel curse. We’ve all either been there or been on the other end. If it is windy outside and you are trying to talk on your cell phone, It is highly unlikely the person on the other end of the phone will be able to understand anything you say. Please wait until you are indoors to make a phone call.

– Common courtesy. It is true – “Please” and “thank you” go a long way.

– Umm… you know? Take note of sentence fillers you may say without realizing and make an effort to avoid them.

– Snacking prohibited. Make an effort to avoid eating or drinking while on the phone. The person on the other end will thank you.

– Always return your phone calls. “It is the right thing to do,” as my Mom (and yours) would say.

Try to keep these in mind the next time you are on the phone… after all, anytime you are on the phone you are marketing yourself. Go ahead, give yourself something to brag about.

-Katy

>Wait, that can’t be right…

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Was that really Eddie Murphy’s head on the back of a car?

Indeed it was. This past weekend on my way to Cleveland I saw a giant Eddie Murphy head on the back of a car. “Oh, I thought those were only in California!” Exclaimed my brother from the back seat of my car. Did I miss something?

It turns out as part of Eddie Murphy’s new movie, Meet Dave, there is a huge (pun intended) advertising campaign for the country to meet Murphy’s character, Dave, by driving behind his head on highways all over the country. This advertisement sure caught my attention.

It also drove me to think about the other memorable vehicles turned into advertisements throughout the years. The following are a few of the ones that stick out in my mind.

Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile has been entertaining drivers since 1936.


Red Bull started the energy drink craze in 2000 and quickly gained the attention of caffeine junkies everywhere with their assorted vehicle advertising soon after.


This Dunkin’ Donuts truck sure would make anyone want a donut with chocolate icing.


According to a Flickr user, this Budweiser car was driving up and down Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit during the 2007 Woodward Dream Cruise. Samples were given out to promote Budweiser – however, the samples were of root beer.

What will they think of next?

-Katy

>Some guys have all the luck

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And some guys have all the heart. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, stepped down today from his roles with Microsoft to concentrate on his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Microsoft has been struggling with how to compete with search engine giant, Google, and how to market Zune over Apple’s music player, the iPod.

One thing is for sure, Bill Gates will always be a staple in this industry as not only a man who had a large hand in how we operate on a daily basis – but also will be known as a man who wasn’t afraid to admit some of his products weren’t the best (Vista, anyone?).

However, no one can dispute how the third-richest man in the world stepping down off of his thrown to do charity is not a great strategy for both Microsoft and his charity.

Best of luck.

-Katy

>Helping create the next generation of business professionals

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I recently volunteered as a “marketing consultant” for the 2008 Ohio Business Week (OBW) program at Youngstown State University. This is by 5th year participating in the program that will shape the next generation of business professionals. So what is OBW?

Ohio Business Week (OBW) is a weeklong summer program that brings a diverse group of high school students and established members of the business community together to translate textbook business principles into “real world” business practices. Since 1988 OBW has given more than 5,000 high school students the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship and explore all facets of business in a way unmatched in the high school setting. By attending OBW, students emerge from OBW with the skills necessary to succeed from the classroom to the boardroom.

Ohio Business Week Foundation Founder Ron Nischwitz was former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers (’61, ’62, ’65) and the Cleveland Indians (’63) turned entrepreneur, Nischwitz understands the importance of having a fair balance of academics and athletics.

“Today’s youth tend to get caught up in the world of sports and the hype of going pro,” said Nischwitz. “Students need to understand that there is less than a one percent chance for an athlete to make it to the pros. A student is guaranteed success after highs school if they pursue higher education through hands-on learning experiences like Ohio Business Week.”

By attending programs like Ohio Business Week, students can show prospective colleges that they are serious about their education and their future. OBW is not just for business-minded students. The skills taught throughout the week can be used in any profession students choose to pursue after they graduate from college.

During OBW, students are assigned to a “company” with 10-12 other participants. Under the guidance of a loaned business executive, each company brainstorms ideas for an imaginary start-up business venture and embarks on the Emerging Entrepreneur Project (EEP). Each company elects officers; researchers and writes a business, financial and marketing plan; constructs a trade show display; creates a web page/magazine ad and radio/TV commercials.

Participants engage in interactive activities designed to teach fundamental business concepts and assist companies in completing their EEP. At the conclusion of the program educational scholarships are awarded to students who display exceptional leadership, entrepreneurship and community service.


Bruce Felber listens to company pitch

In addition to the EEP, participants attend presentations given by several business professionals. I started my involvement 5 years ago as a presenter on marketing disciplines and example of campaigns. I demonstrated through brainstorming techniques they can create a marketing and promotion plan for their products. Over the last 4 years I donated my time as a “marketing consultant” where the companies present their product or service and engage me on how to market. Many times they just need a push or challenge and other times they need to focus their tactics and campaigns.

Many loaned executives share their business expertise and build awareness about career trends and employment opportunities. Also, participants attend seminars that emphasize financial literacy, business ethics and communications. Finally, participants tour distribution and manufacturing centers to learn how raw materials are manufactured and how manufactured goods reach the marketplace.

I would encourage any parent, teacher, high school student or business executive to look into this wonderful program. Visit http://www.ohiobusinessweek.org/ for more information. I challenge my colleagues to get involved with OBW or similar programs.

Bruce

>It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a green airplane?

>Suspected to arrive to market by year’s end this green airplane, runs on electricity, seats two and can be yours for only $133,000. Will Hertz soon be in the Rent-a-Plane business? Read more about what the future holds for the aviation community.