Celebrity Hijinks

31 01 2011

I’ve spent the first part of this year discussing some of the myths in the advertising community and what has been lagging behind.

While behavioral scientists have proven that modern focus groups don’t work, many agencies shun this discovery and still rely on traditional research practices. They are missing untapped opportunity to leverage the new advances in behavioral science, which tell us that people don’t often do what they say; Even if you pay them in kind with a free cup of coffee for their time!

Over 1 trillion USD is spent each year to get people’s attention. Yet is all this attention grabbing investment grabbing the right attention?

Take for example the massive amounts of money advertisers still spend on celebrity endorsements. Ad Age ran an article last week debunking the commonly held belief that celebrity endorsements lead to advertising effectiveness. Sure if you can remember that Julianne Moore is naked in a campaign for a leading designer, that Ben Stein is the spokesperson for some startup or Scarlett Johansson is the face of a new perfume. But that doesn’t mean we will remember what the product was. Several studies have proven that this sort of approach to promoting a product doesn’t lead to the sort of effectiveness we had hoped for.

How much money does Gap spend every year for a series of celebrity endorsements.? Last I heard, Gap was having financial trouble.

The scientific explanation? We are far more likely to relate to people who look more like us than Angelina Jolie. Given the increasing skepticism in the consumer marketplace, advertisers should take notice. Consumers want authenticity. According to Martin Lindstrom, in his best selling book Buyology, “when we see celebrities, we instinctively feel that what they claim about the product is phony”. Sure, Cindy Crawford looks great at 44, but is it really because of the beauty product she is selling in those direct TV commercials, and that retouched acne that Katy Perry says she has, c’mon, does Proactive really work?

I can recall the times we’ve used some heavy hitters to promote brands, shooting commercials with Elton John, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods and other larger than life celebrities. Major brands were happy to fork over large sums of money with the assumption of major impact. Major impact perhaps, but not the sort of impact we were hoping for. In fact, sometimes it can lead to negative impact. Tiger Woods, anyone want to tell me what products he endorsed last year? How about Donald Trump? While we know the names and the faces, we tend to focused on the celebrity, distracting us from focusing on the product being endorsed.

According to a study by Ace Metrix, 2010 Celebrity Advertisements: Exposing A Myth of Advertising Effectiveness, “fewer than 12% of ads using celebrities experienced a 10% lift in advertising effectiveness”. Similar studies have been done at universities across the country, proving time and again that major investments in celebrity endorsements are not necessarily a great investment.

I want to hear from you. Tell me what you think about celebrity endorsements – Do you think they are a good use of advertising dollars?

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7 Tips For Shopping Smarter

21 12 2010

On the last days before Christmas, don’t be fooled by common tricks retailers will use to persuade you to shell out more cash than you planned this season. Here are a few tips to shop smarter.

1. Shop online or from a catalogue. Earlier this year, researchers at Caltech found that consumers would pay 41% more for items that are physically present than for the same items that are described in writing or displayed in photos. Think twice before you head to the store.

2. If you do find yourself heading to the store, don’t linger over items you desire. Several studies reveal that the more time you spend holding an object you really like, the more you will be willing to pay for it later triggering and urge to splurge.

3. Pass on the “free” samples. The malls are ripe with free samples designed to stop you in your tracks. The smell of cinnamon buns, beautifully arranged sweets, or samples of freshly brewed coffee -These are there for a reason – to ignite your senses. Aside from sight, smell is the second highest sense used to encourage purchase decisions. Taking that free item also increases impulse shopping by 64%. Think twice before you sample that coffee, better still, shop on a full stomach.
"7 Tips For Shopping Smarter"

4. Pass on the “free” champagne and chocolate.
Several studies have proven that people who take that free glass of champagne or truffle are 25% more likely to find luxury items like designer clothing, watches and higher priced bottles of wine more desirable than those who don’t take the free truffle. Luxury items like champagne and chocolate makes behaviors associated with indulgence more acceptable. Another tip: Skip the “free” valet. You will end up tipping the attendant, cancelling the free factor.

5. Stay focused and avoid distractions.
Shoppers are more likely to fork over more when their attention is diverted. The same behavior holds true whether you are shopping online or in the store. If you get distracted, your opinion of what something is worth shifts. This is known as the Distraction Principle and it is commonly used in retail environments.

6. Avoid using your credit cards and use cash instead.
Studies have proven that you will spend 32% more on items you purchase using a credit card than if you used cash. Not to mention, you will avoid paying interest on credit card purchases, saving you more in the long run.

7. Need to make a list and check it twice?
Don’t worry, stay focused with a little exercise or an extra boost of caffeine. According to Professor of neurobiology James McGaugh, University of California at Irvine, 
adrenaline is an aid for long-term memory and will help you stay focused. Exercise and caffeine will provide you with a natural boost of adrenaline that can help you stay focused this holiday season.

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Why Our Willpower Fails Us

30 11 2010

Ramit Sethi shares a great article about our willpower when it comes to our finances. A few key behavioral finance and psychological principles are addressed with helpful tips we should all consider.
Read the full article…

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The Future of Advertising: Has Madison Avenue Lost It’s Mojo?

21 11 2010

I’m reading The Future of Advertising article in FastCompany,  good stuff – but it reminds me of a constant voice in my head when I meet with my agency clients. You know, the one that screams, “Ouch, maybe that approach worked in the 90’s but does he really think this same approach is going to win the client’s business?”

The Future of Advertising

It also reminds my agency friends they need to seriously re-think the role of advertising in the new world of Web 2.0, digital being front and center, develop and demonstrate innovative use of the social map, and frankly stay in the game of constant game-changing.  Some will survive, while others are going to need to find their mojo, and not just by learning new approaches, but by redefining what it means to be in the business of advertising in the first place.

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Social Media Is Changing Online Behavior

16 06 2010

It’s no surprise to hear that social media is driving changes in online behavior.  Consumption of social media is on the rise, with more than 400 million active users on Facebook and more than 10% of all internet users using Twitter.  It’s become part of our everyday lives. “So what” – you may ask.

Well the difference is that we are seeing a shift in the way social media is used. It’s becoming a hub for information which exposes users to content they might not have seen. According to a recent research report from the Center for Media Research, “there is a growing number of people using search engines to further learn after seeing an ad on a social networking site, with many who believe social networking sites are good sources of information about companies and products.”

What this tells us is that social media influences the way people will behave online. Consumers are consuming information differently. With many firms jumping on the social media bandwagon, it is important to mange the content delivered using social media knowing that consumers will research content further using search and other online sources. With more and more consumers using social networking sites, the question for Marketers is how can they fish where the fish are and use social media to impact product awareness and purchase intent?

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Online Sales Dip

12 06 2010

Sales dip again, raising doubts on the US Recovery.  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/63d63220-7554-11df-a7e2-00144feabdc0.html

New B2B Social Media Benchmarking Study

12 05 2010

Decent findings from Business.com and ‘s latest report.

Get a free copy:  http://www.business.com/info/b2b-social-media-benchmark-study

Survey reveals E-mail & Search are the best performing marketing channels

14 04 2010

E-mail & search are the best performing marketing channels — that is according to Datran Media’s “4th Annual Marketing & Media Survey,” which surveyed more than 5,000 marketers online in December, published this week by Christopher Hosford in B2B Magazine. In fact, nearly 4 in 10 executives at Fortune 500 companies, publishing companies, and media and ad agencies revealed e-mail as the best performing digital channel and 24% singled out search. Do these channels work as well for your business?

Read the full story: http://ow.ly/1xzKd

Sheri Taylor Gilchrist is President of Gilchrist + Partners, a marketing services firm dedicated to applying behavioral and neuromarketing practices to improve the performance of marketing programs . http://www.gilchristpartners.com

Turnaround Time on Web-Based Leads Impacts Conversion

11 03 2010

Remember the days when all you had to do was respond to a web-based lead in less than 2 hours and your prospect was impressed with your turnaround time? The sales force was thrilled that the marketing department had integrated a lead capture tool that delivered leads directly to your inbox during the day. That was then, however this is the era of NOW. It’s no longer good enough to wait several hours in the current real-time marketing climate when you have literally minutes or even seconds to capitalize on a lead. A recent survey from MIT and InsideSales.com reveals that odds of qualifying web-based leads are 21 times greater if the lead is responded to in 5 minutes vs. 30 minutes. Luckily with the latest real-time software, the capability marketers need is only a click-away. Some of the latest software can capture information about your leads, including their behavior on your website, pages they’ve viewed, marketing or media that drove them there as well as any materials that may have been downloaded in one snapshot. Armed with this collective information, you can rank and profile your leads in seconds and respond in minutes. Check out Salesforce.com’s CRM tool which has been shown to improve inbound lead conversion by 400%; www.salesforce.com or products like LeadCaster, which allows you to connect with visitors while they are still on your site; www.leadcaster.com

In this highly competitive climate, it’s never too late to consider integrating a real-time data tool to improve your online lead conversion.

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Sheri Taylor Gilchrist is President of  Gilchrist + Partners,  dedicated to applying behavioral and neuromarketing practices to improve the performance of marketing programs . http://www.gilchristpartners.com

Keep Your Digital Marketing Current

18 01 2010

Interesting article in Chief Marketer today- four tips to keep your digital marketing initiatives on the right track. Read more…

Sheri Taylor Gilchrist is President of Gilchrist + Partners, a marketing services firm dedicated to applying behavioral and neuromarketing practices to improve the performance of marketing programs. http://www.gilchristpartners.com

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CEOs Aggressively Use Social Media for Business

22 12 2009

A recent study conducted by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth found that social media usage by companies on the Inc. 500 has grown in the past year, with 91 percent of companies reporting that they use at least one social media tool.*

Many corporate executives are using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as a means of doing anything they can to grow faster and keep up with the latest trends. However, they will need to carefully consider how best to use these new tools and not just add them to the toolbox. Seth Godin, bestselling author and leading blogger, argues the need for firms to strike a balance between using social media as a way of keeping up in today’s marketplace and using it for innovation.

Analysts suggest that social media is now considered to be an innovative tool that provides competitive advantage.

Do you agree? Tell me how you think social media can provide a competitive advantage for business.

* Read the full article about the UMass study in Inc. Magazine here…

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Will Social Media Replace Email?

21 10 2009

Many research firms are starting to think so and the media has caught wind of this. The Wall Street Journal recently published a story with a headline that reads, The End of the Email Era citing, “it’s reign as king of communication is over”.

A recent survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa concludes that “social media won’t kill the medium, but it will definitely affect it”. I’m not so sure. Send me your comments and tell me if you think social media will replace email. You can read more about the research here and the full story from WSJ here.

Sheri Taylor Gilchrist is President of Gilchrist + Partners, a marketing services firm dedicated to applying behavioral and neuromarketing practices to improve the performance of marketing programs. http://www.gilchristpartners.com

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A World Without Borders

14 10 2009

The role of offline and online worlds is quickly disappearing. The proliferation of technology and business gives us access to information that is only a search away. What will the world look like in 25 years time?

Jeffrey Sachs recently spoke at The World Business Forum in NYC last week, telling the audience that the expanding population, the impact of climate change, and a growing water shortage will likely lead to declines in economic growth.

What will this mean for US business? Will business need to be more innovative, more efficient or more collaborative? I think we will need to be all of these, and probably more. How can we maintain competitive advantage when the world as we know it is changing?

We all talk about social media, online collaboration and innovation- but that’s just the beginning.

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Build Customer Share In A Down Economy

22 09 2009

Given the growing skepticism that an economic recovery is close at hand, for business, that skepticism breeds uncertainty and uncertainty breeds paralysis.

This classic knee jerk reaction does not necessarily mean survival. It’s important to remember that we’ve been through many lean years before and there will be many more to come. And those firms that survived considered their investment decisions carefully.

For example, one of my insurance clients took a direction not many are taking. They are investing in digital solutions that consider their online customers. While most firms have the misperception that online customer experiences do not necessarily impact business, others realize that online customers are an important revenue stream for recurring business. According to a Forrester Research e-Commerce Forecast, “online shoppers are less sensitive to adverse economic conditions than the average US consumer“. This means it is important for firms to not take the online experience for granted.

For firms that recognize this, they are building Customer Experience Management [CEM] capabilities. They are taking a proactive approach to recognizing customer value by investing in resources and tools that create more positive online experiences. While there are many barriers for improving online customer experiences, there are things firms can do NOW to get on the right track.

For example:
• Organizations can make an effort to understand the current customer experience online. You’d be surprised how many executives take this for granted. According to a recent study by BusinessWeek, executives think that customers are less likely to be bothered by online problems, or believe that online problems have a negative impact for the firm.* While executives say that it’s important to maintain an online customer base, they also are allowing improvement projects to take a back seat during the recession. This type of shortsighted thinking puts a firm at risk. Today’s online customers are more in control, leading the charge and influencing their peers about their experiences with your brand.

Organizations that make an effort to understand and resolve the online experience are likely to lead the path of survival.

*Source BusinessWeek Research Services

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Sheri Taylor Gilchrist is President of Gilchrist + Partners, a marketing services firm dedicated to applying behavioral and neuromarketing practices to improve the performance of marketing programs. http://www.gilchristpartners.com
If you’d like to follow me on twitter, connect to my feed here.

Factor Online Behavior To Improve Conversion

16 09 2009

Are you factoring the online activity of your leads before you rank and contact them?

A recent lead generation campaign we ran for a well-known insurance firm found that tracking and analyzing the online behavior of visitors on the corporate website significantly impacts the quality of a lead and the conversion rate to sale.

By adding this step into the lead generation process, the sales force had more information about the prospect and could develop a better target profile in order tailor the conversation. That’s before the selling even began.

During the first 3 weeks of the campaign, conversion rates improved by 77% for those leads that had been tagged and tracked prior to the first email or phone call.

Whether your firm is responding to a request for more information or simply following up to an email, 9 out of 10 times, your prospect has exhibited some sort of online behavior before they contact you.

Sheri Taylor Gilchrist is President of Gilchrist + Partners, a Boston-based marketing services firm dedicated to applying behavioral and neuromarketing practices to improve the performance of marketing programs. http://www.gilchristpartners.com

Forget Scarlett O'Hara, Marketers Should Be Thinking About Retaining Customers

21 11 2008

I just came back from lunch with a friend and we discussed the state of the economy and the toll it’s taking on business and consumer spending. It seems that the more people I talk to, the more they are willing to share their concerns about the economy and how it has impacted their own personal buying patterns. It is almost as if, sharing their stories and dealing with the economic climate head on, has become the “in” thing to do.

Look around the lunchroom in your office. How many employees are brown bagging it to work and discussing that kitchen renovation they put on hold? Yet if you ask them what items that have not cut out, they might tell you that they are still keeping their monthly spa treatment, the regular night out with the girls or little Jack’s trip to soccer camp.  I read this as an ideal opportunity for firms to reach out to their customer base and speak to them directly. Since “openly sharing” has become more status quo, now is the time to capitalize on your customer’s willingness to engage with you and talk directly about how you can be part of a solution. This applies to both the consumer and business audiences.

But this approach doesn’t seem to be happening and I’m wondering what is going on. Whether media plans couldn’t be changed or the marketing departments are hoping no one will notice, I keep seeing marketing messages asking customers to buy more, get another new credit card, upgrade your cable service, travel to a trade conference, and the best one yet, buy and trade stocks online, it’s a commercial of a baby trading online, having fun ! Are you joking? It’s a creative and funny ad, but highly irrelevant. Unless the baby throwing up is a metaphor for the market declines.

It’s as if some of these marketers have not been on planet earth the last 3 months and have forgotten about reality. So the question is this: Are some of these marketers pulling a Scarlett O’Hara? It’s the “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow” approach.

I wanted to test this Scarlet O’Hara hypothesis and so I called my investment firm, they tried to sell me more mutual funds. I called my credit card company and they offered me more credit. Isn’t this the formula that got us into this mess in the first place?

Next time you fast forward your DVR to watch your show, take a closer look at the ads. Millions of dollars are still being spent on placing these high-priced ads with the completely wrong message. I’m here to tell you, Mr. Marketer, you missed the boat. I’m not saying every Marketer is off base here, of course not! But for those of you that haven’t already done so, now is the time to think candidly about your marketing plan and definitely put your retention radar on high alert!


Can hunger affect our financial decision-making?

28 02 2011

It is a commonly held belief that the hungrier an animal becomes, the more risks it will take in its quest for food. The same is said about our own animal instincts kicking in when we are hungry. How often have you given in to eating fast food because you were too hungry to spend the time to prepare a healthy meal?
Now new research shows that the same animal instincts are carried into our financial decision-making. Several experiments performed at University College in London show that participants who gambled on an empty stomach were more likely to make riskier bets than those who gambled on a full stomach.
That got me thinking about how much money I spend at the grocery store when I shop on an empty stomach. I end up buying food items I would never dream of buying. Did I really need the pre-made sushi or the big box of bite-size brownies? We’ve all heard the saying “never shop on an empty stomach”, but it really is true. Americans spend on average 15% more at the grocery store when shopping “hungry”. Our hunger leads us to impulse-buying and makes it hard to resist temptations. So the next time you need to shop, make sure you eat first.

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