Tag: branding

28 Jun 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?

I saw an ad that made me do a double-take the other day.

Since I work at bloomfield knoble, a premier strategic marketing and advertising agency, I’m generally not prone to paying much attention to ads or being surprised by them, but this one caught me off guard. The ad was Paul Marcarelli pitching Sprint.

The name may not mean much to you, but the face should – Marcarelli was the long-time spokesperson for Verizon and known for the catch phrase, “Can you hear me now?” I’ll be honest – the ad isn’t that great creatively, but it caught my attention because I was stunned that Verizon had let Marcarelli’s non-compete expire. I know Verizon has long since moved on from the “Can you hear me now?” slogan, but letting something go isn’t the same as letting some one take it.

It’s always a challenge identifying a face with a brand – be it celebrity or recurring spokesperson. The inherent upside is that the brand literally has a face, name and personality that immediately projects an image of a living, breathing, credible person, as opposed to a faceless corporate entity. The downside is that individuals are not as stable or as easily controllable as corporate entities. Even imaginary characters that represent the brand can create issues. Consider the image of Betty Crocker and how it has evolved over time. A portrait of Betty Crocker was first introduced in the 1930s. Since then, Betty’s image has been refined to reflect the changing image of women. Other companies use real people, a celebrity, to represent a brand. The inherent downside to using real people is that when the celebrity encounters personal problems or scandals, the brand may suffer too. The company cannot simply redraw the celebrity’s face – they must convince the public that the celebrity’s current problems do not reflect on the brand itself. Looking at you, Jared from Subway.

Thus, brands, in some cases, can be golden straightjackets. They are “golden” because they build product knowledge and profits, but they can also be “straightjackets” (limiting or restrictive) because to be valuable they must be narrowly defined. As an agency, it’s our job at bloomfield knoble to carefully evaluate the associations clients are trying to attach to their brand and consider both the upside and the potential downside with the brand elements. One of the fundamental principles of using a brand element is making sure that it is “protectable” in both a legal and competitive sense. Clearly, Verizon (or their agency) had a 5-year agreement in place, but once that expired Marcarelli was fair game.

The question to me isn’t the effectiveness of the ad, but more about the steps that agencies should take to protect any brand element they use. It’s fine to let “Can you hear me now?” expire, but don’t let Sprint take it. Just enough people will remember it and do the same thing I did – pay attention to the ad. I can’t imagine that Flo will be allowed to do an Allstate commercial anytime soon. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if a bunch of agencies are pulling out old talent contracts and hoping to avoid something like this.

In any event, the simple truth is that I stopped to watch the ad, and in an era when consumers are inundated with a ton of messages, any action that creates pause and engagement is a win, so well done Sprint.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
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Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

21 Jan 2016

The Branding Genius of Amazon Dash

First and foremost, let me make a confession: I’m pretty lazy. In fairness to me – as well as a desire to keep my job here at bloomfield knoble, I’m actually only lazy at some things – more specifically, things that I don’t consider important like: what I wear; what consumer goods I buy; consumption choices, etc. While this makes me an eternal source of frustration to my wife – it also makes me the perfect consumer for most advertising campaigns.

Agencies like bloomfield knoble work very hard to make sure that advertising campaigns capture and hold consumers through the entire sales cycle. Ads are designed to generate awareness among a relevant target audience. The message (hopefully) is engaging enough to drive action right then and there. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case, so additional efforts are used to convert the consumer into a buyer (usually incentives) and then (again, hopefully) the consumer is so thrilled with their purchase that they become loyal customers. In today’s world of social media, the really great hope is that the loyal customers also become advocates for the brand. It seems pretty straight-forward. In fact, bloomfield knoble recently completed a campaign for a brand of milk that fit this model.

Most people are aware of milk, so we didn’t have to sell the category, but we did need to promote awareness of this particular brand of milk – and the features that made it unique among other types of milk – which we did through a variety of tactical advertising. This particular milk is mostly beneficial to kids, so we targeted parents of school age children and gave a reason to believe that was relevant to their concerns. An incentive was offered on packaging to drive conversion which also drove further brand interaction to generate loyalty and advocacy at the same time. The campaign was very successful by every key performance indicator measurement that had agreed to prior to the campaign. the great part about a campaign like this is that it even worked on lazy people – like me. I pay little attention to advertising – relevant or not – and am very rarely engaged enough to take immediate action on a brand. I am, however, categorically motivated, so when we run out of milk (a dangerous situation in my household since my kid is a chocolate milk addict) I am off to the store. I have very little recall regarding brands, so instead of getting the one we always get, I just get whatever offers me the best incentive (price, gift with purchase, perceived health benefits, whatever). So in the case of the bloomfield knoble campaign, I would have been motivated by the incentive on the package and made a purchase.

There is plenty of debate and formulas to help define this media mix – what percentage should be in the form of an incentive vs. traditional advertising, etc., but generally speaking the process is always the same and it’s a tried-and-true method to drive sales. Until now.

In case you missed it, and not sure how you could have, the Amazon Dash system contains a WiFi link and, when activated, sends an electronic order to Amazon to replace a relevant product. For consumable products that use a device such as a coffee machine or water filter, the Amazon Dash system is used as a service (known officially as the Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, or “DRS”) and is seamlessly integrated into the device. For other consumable products such as toilet paper or sport drinks, a separate external button can be used to re-order supplies.

As a consumer, I’m thrilled. I don’t ever want to worry about laundry detergent again. I can buy a washing machine that stores detergent and whatever the other stuff that goes into laundry is and once in a whenever that stuff has to be loaded time is here – boom – it’s on my doorstep. Thank you Amazon.

As an employee of an advertising agency, I’m kind of freaking out. The number of people who, like me, make decisions on purchase in-store is staggering. Even with mobile devices and coupons and social media, the majority of people who shop (especially for commodity items, like groceries) make purchasing decisions in store. We have always relied on branding elements, like recall, and incentives (like coupons) to drive purchase, but now we’re faced with the challenge of all of that going away. It used to be that brands would compete within a category – a person shopping in store would turn down the laundry aisle and then make a decision between brands – but now the battle is going to shift to an entirely new arena. Now the battle is going to be to get consumers to buy a specific type of washing machine – which has cut a business deal with a detergent brand – in order to drive purchase.

It’s not much of a stretch to think that business development managers are going to become the most important employees at a brand. The person who cuts a deal for their detergent to be carried by a new Dash-enabled washing machine is a hero. Good luck, brand managers, trying to get consumers to reprogram their washing machine to order something different.

So, what do we do? First and foremost, agencies have to start incorporating Amazon Dash as a point of difference in their pitch – get to consumers early – even if it is outside of the normal comfort zone. Conversely, if you work for a brand that isn’t going to land an Amazon Dash deal, it’s time to start extolling the evil of having decisions made for you. Next, it’s time to come up with a new model in which loyalty is defined by category – not brand – and is at the front of the sales cycle. Traditional models start with awareness – but now the first consideration is going to be a new definition of loyalty (does the consumer have an Amazon Dash device?).

I’m not trying to walk around with a sign that says, “the end of the advertising world is here” because I can’t be sure that this concept will reach market saturation, but it is Amazon – not some startup – and there are plenty of lazy people, like me, who welcome this technology. As such, we at bloomfield knoble are already pondering it, and it’s quite possible that our clients are too. Now, if I just had a button that finished my work for me . . .


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
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Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

13 Nov 2015
Google Cardboard

Behold Google Cardboard

I struggled to find time to write this blog  – not because I’m too busy at work, but because I’ve been too busy playing with Google Cardboard.

I had heard about Google Cardboard, but I’ve been more interested in Oculus Rift and similar devices and hadn’t given it much thought. Then, much to my surprise, I received a pair (set, maybe? not sure what the accepted term is just yet) courtesy of the New York Times. The pair (that’s what I’m going with) came with my subscription courtesy of GE in Sunday’s paper. Although I was surprised it was included with the paper, the box was clearly marked, so I was quickly aware of what it was. It was in its own packaging and it only took a few minutes to unfold (assemble). An instruction card directed me to download the NY Times virtual reality app (the URL is also printed on the side of the cardboard). The VR app installed quickly and then I was instructed to put my iPhone into the cardboard and enjoy.

Now, just in case you’ve never heard about it, Google Cardboard is a virtual reality (VR) platform developed by Google for use with a fold-out cardboard mount for a mobile phone. It is intended as a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in VR and VR applications.

GoogleCardboard
Jeff exploring VR with Google Cardboard

Here is my takeaway both personally and professionally. Personally, totally dig it. The device itself is, indeed, cardboard, but feels quite sturdy. I’ve used mine quite a bit and while I am generally careful with it, haven’t had any issues with it at all. I didn’t have any concerns about inserting my phone – it feels like it’s held securely – and although I need glasses to see up close, the screen seems in focus. I’m familiar with VR (I’ve written about it before), but hadn’t experienced it via my phone. The VR itself was excellent, but I recognized pretty quickly that this is because of the content. The NY Times had excellent content – both in subject matter and production – available the day I downloaded it. Their app focuses on news stories delivered via immersive video and audio. They brilliantly had a wide range of subjects which enabled me to both watch content that was relevant to me, but also waste time just checking out the different options. I also used it to view an ad – just to continue enjoying the experience.

This wasn’t just my take either – my family all found it cool as did people here at bloomfield knoble.

I think what the NY Times did was an excellent promotional use and one that could be repeated across brands and platforms, with the following challenges:

  • It worked because it was delivered to me. If I had to fill out a form or pay for it, I probably wouldn’t have messed with it. I think it’s an excellent promotional handout or direct mail device.
  • It was new to me, so I downloaded the app to play with it, but I’m not motivated to download a bunch of other apps to use it. This is actually really good news for the NY Times, because they made me loyal to their app – so anytime I want to show it off or mess around with it, I use their app.
  • It’s all about the content. The NY Times content is excellent and also being freshened. If this came with 1 piece of content, I would have tossed it once I got bored. If this were to be used for promotional purposes, it would either have to be a one-off (which is fine sometimes), or it will have to be supported by ongoing content (also fine sometimes).
  • It’s still just cardboard. I’m being pretty careful with it now, but because I have no economic value associated with it, I am going to put it in a drawer and it will get damaged or broken. It’s like the cheap pair of sunglasses – you toss those around, but are careful with the pair that cost you money.
  • I’m not trained (yet… maybe never). I’m just not sure that I need to get my news via VR. I think that this is more of a content issue, because I might train myself to check the app regularly if it’s something that is experienced much better in VR – like the Royals victory parade, for example. That would be cool. If I know once a week or so that there will be something that is entertaining – I’ll start using it more. For now, just getting news stories, no matter how well done, doesn’t motivate me to regularly check the app.

Now, having said all that, it’s still a job really well done. More than half the battle is getting people to engage with a promotion – in whatever form – and the fact that I took time to assemble the unit, download the app, use the app and then share the experience is the very definition of a successful marketing campaign. And while it sits unused on my desk, it is still on my desk and the app is on my phone.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

08 Oct 2015
Focus-Group-version-3-300x300

So did you really like our ad?

focus groupWe at bloomfield knoble are big believers in testing our creative and creative messaging. We have conducted focus groups, in-depth interviews, online panels and software to measure eye-tracking and other physiological responses. The challenge with this, or any type of testing, is to avoid testing bias and to, as much as possible, accurately record responses. As anyone who has ever been involved in testing, this is much harder than it seems. Now it turns out that there may be a way to remove bias altogether by using technology that can analyze a person’s face as they watch advertisements.

A system made by Affectiva, a start-up in Waltham, Massachusetts, can pick up on hidden emotions just by monitoring face movements. According to an article by Aviva Rutkin writing in New Scientist, Affectiva’s software first pinpoints important facial markers, such as the mouth, eyebrows and the top of the nose. then, machine-learning algorithms watch how those regions move or how the skin texture and color changes over the course of the video. These changes are broken down into discrete expressions indicating shifting emotions.

According to Affectiva’s principal scientist Daniel McDuff, the approach lets you find out what people actually think from moment to moment while the ad runs, not just what they say once it is over. “It provides a way of getting at those more genuine, spontaneous interactions,” he says. “This is their visceral response. It’s not sent through a cognitive filter where they have to evaluate how they feel.” In a study published this month, McDuff and his colleagues asked 1,223 people to give his team access to their home webcams while they watched a series of ads for sweets, pet supplies and groceries.

Before and after the ads ran, the subjects filled out online surveys about how likely they were to purchase the products shown. While they watched, the software stayed on the lookout for emotions, such as happiness, surprise or confusion. Afterwards, the researchers found that they could use the facial data to accurately predict someone’s survey results –  suggesting that they could rely on the computer’s analysis alone to know where an ad was successful. In the future, McDuff thinks the system could plug into TV services such as Netflix. “You could imagine suggesting TV programs or movies that people could watch, or ads that they find more enjoyable,” he says.

The Affectiva team has amassed a database of over three million videos of people across different ages, genders and ethnicities. McDuff says that there seem to be subtle variations in emotional responses: women tend to have more positive facial expressions than men, for example. By understanding how different groups respond, companies could put together ads that are fine-tuned for particular audiences. The data could also help advertisers to tweak their ads to tie in more closely to viewers’ emotions – for example, by putting in the name of the brand at the moment that elicits the strongest positive reaction.

Automated emotional analysis systems are promising, says Michel Wedel, who studies consumer science at the University of Maryland in College Park. They let advertisers break an ad down moment by moment to figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t. “What’s particularly powerful is that they’re unobtrusive,” he says. “They don’t rely on introspection or recollection.”


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

28 Apr 2015
Bond

Is this why people always ask me to play poker?

I’ll admit that my duties at bloomfield knoble don’t usually require me to read Evolution & Human Behavior – the official journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, but as a fan of poker, this abstract by Eugene Chan, University of Technology, Sydney, caught my eye:

Prior research has examined how sexual opposite-sex stimuli impact people’s choices and behaviors. However, it is largely unknown whether sexual same-sex stimuli also do so. This research reports an intriguing phenomenon: men who see attractive males take greater financial risks than those who do not. An evolution-based account is proffered and tested across four experiments. In evolutionary history, men have faced greater intrasexual competition in attracting women as a mating partner. Thus, when the average heterosexual man sees males who are more physically-attractive than he is, he is motivated to increase his desirability as a mating partner to women, prompting him to accrue money, and taking financial risks helps him to do so. This research concludes by discussing the implications of the present findings for men today who are constantly bombarded by not only sexual opposite but also same-sex others, such as images that are commonly used in advertising.

Fortunately, I found it while reading New Scientist – I don’t think I could add one more scientific journal to my current bloomfield knoble reading list. Basically, the study explains that in what seems to be a kind of compensating behavior, when heterosexual men see another man they perceive as being more attractive than themselves, they try to increase their wealth. They make high-risk, high-return decisions. Chan did four behavioral experiments involving 820 men and women. After being shown pictures of attractive men, the heterosexual men in the study were more likely to choose a riskier bet when given the choice than at other times, or than when shown a picture of an attractive woman.

In one experiment, some men were shown male models in Abercrombie & Fitch advertisements, while others were shown female Victoria’s Secret models. A third group were shown photographs of “average” looking people. The participants were then offered the choice of getting $100, or taking a bet where they had a 90% chance of getting nothing and a 10% chance of getting $1000. The men who saw male models were more likely to choose the risky bet than the men who were shown female models or mere mortals. And no difference was seen in the behavior of the women.

The effect was greater in participants who rated the models as “more attractive” than themselves, suggesting the risk-taking was an attempt to compensate for perceived inferiority. And there was a bigger effect when the men were in a “mating mindset,” imagining wooing a woman.

“This financial risk-taking occurs because men want to appear more desirable to women, and having more money is one way to do so,” says Chan. “Taking financial risks is one quick way to get more money, even if it might not be a sure thing.”

Bill von Hippel of the University of Queensland in Australia says the results highlight an aspect of male mating behaviour that people tend to forget. Before attracting females, the men need to compete with other males for access to them, he says. So does taking these kinds of financial risks work? “I guess the idea that money can be helpful for men who are less attractive is evident in many TV shows and movies, ” says Chan. “But yes, one can also say that taking greater financial risks can be a stupid way to go, since it might not necessarily make more money. In fact, you might lose money.”

As a member of the advertising community, the results of this are not surprising to me. When was the last time you saw someone unattractive in an ad for, well, anything? However, I will admit that I had always perceived the use of attractive models in financial marketing to be more aspirational (I want to be that guy / girl) instead of promoting risk. Financial services is a core competency for us at bloomfield knoble. Much of our work lately has been about loss mitigation (helping people avoid foreclosure, for example), so we’re actually trying to do the exact opposite of what this study says – we want people not to take risks.

This study has got me thinking about how we use visual information to relay a decrease in risk without using “fear” as is traditionally used in mitigating risk (smoking-in-bed-kills-people ads come to mind). It’s easy to forget how powerful visuals can be when developing creative when you have a specific call-to-action in mind. Chan agrees. Chan says he can imagine banks or casinos using this information to encourage riskier behavior. “But I can also see policy and government officials counteracting this with stricter regulations regarding advertising.”

So there’s nothing like the sight of a rival to embolden a man, it seems. If you want a straight man to make a riskier play in poker, you should consider getting a hot guy to sit with you. This must be why my friends always ask me to play poker.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

 

29 Sep 2014
network_theory

Why Network Theory Matters.

network_theoryWe have a great team here at bloomfield knoble. Each member of the team brings a unique perspective to the table regardless of what product or service we are offering to a client or brand. I have built personal and professional relationships with everyone here and, while I may not always agree with them, truly value their input as a variable in the decision-making process. However, the weight I give to each person’s input depends on the topic. For example, if the bloomfield knoble team is working on developing a logo for a brand, I will give more weight to the creative team than the finance team. I don’t do it to be prejudicial, it’s just how I interpret the value of comments from people I interact with.

If you think about it, you realize that you’ve been doing the same thing your entire life. You have had a series of teachers, tutors, mentors, whatever, shape the way you approach everything from solving a math problem to driving down the highway. At some point you took all of the lessons you learned and created your own identity – your own plan for solving problems and determining a course of action. You can still accept outside influence, but you’ve got a way you like to work and do things and you’re pretty sure you know what’s right for you.

At bloomfield knoble, like any agency, we’re doing our best to be an influence in the decision-making process. We work hard to generate awareness, drive engagement through education and provide a clear call-to-action (or incentive) to drive usage. It’s why there are TV ads, billboards, magazine ads, online banners and a million other messages that bombard us as consumers. What is relevant to one individual may not be relevant to someone else. The point is that advertising is trying to provide you with information (of a sort) to help you make a decision during the buying process and, ideally, it’s the product or service we’re trying to sell. Agencies work very hard to identify who you are as an individual, where you are in the buying process, and what might give you the greatest incentive to engage with our client. Agencies work very hard to build brand awareness, recognition, trust and loyalty and create a one-on-one relationship.

And here’s where it all goes out the window: welcome to network theory.

In a nutshell, network theory is finding pathways and determining the influence of those pathways. There are different types of network theory, but I’m only going to talk about social network theory. The bottom line is this: the people with whom we interact on a regular basis, and some with who we interact only sporadically, influence our beliefs, decisions and behaviors. If you want to really understand this concept, I highly recommend An Overview of Social Networks and Economic Applications by Matthew O. Jackson, written for the Handbook of Social Economics.

What does that mean to us as advertisers? It means that all the hard work we put into creating awareness, attitude and usage when building brand essence doesn’t mean squat if we can’t control the other connections that people use as part of their decision-making process. This is an impactful statement and is already changing the way every agency and brand does business, so let it sink in for a second.

Let me give you an example of network theory at work. A young couple is shopping and decide to grab a bite to eat. There are many restaurants around them, but none where the couple has eaten before. Thanks to advertising, there is some awareness of their choices. From an agency perspective, the hope is that the couple recall a particular ad or incentive tied to an ad to make a decision. Each restaurant in the area has spent money to capture attention and provide a point of difference versus the competition (come eat pizza – come eat chicken) and, ideally, the people will use their knowledge of the restaurants – provided via advertising – to make a selection. So what happens? One person pulls out a phone and opens Yelp. Now, people whom the couple have never met are influencing the decision-making process. It doesn’t matter that the brand has built a one-on-one connection via their marketing efforts; someone else – not even remotely associated with the couple – have driven the couple to (great place to eat review) or away (worst place ever review).

Understanding this process – the concept of network theory – is changing everything. It’s not just social media – it’s deeper than that. It’s understanding the core functions and concepts behind why we, as consumers, accept influence from people we don’t know. Understanding at least the idea behind network theory is the only way we as an agency can truly develop a strategy that will help clients maximize the impact that channels, like social networks, can have on brand essence. There are plenty of agencies that promote relationship management or content development, but that’s being reactive to the channel – not the underlying cause. It’s the difference between taking medicine to stop a stomach ache and understanding what is causing the stomach ache in the first place. It’s why movie trailers still feature comments from critics and it’s why TV shows now put comments collected from Twitter in their ads.

Network Theory is changing the very way agencies do business. Are you ready?


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
twitter
facebooklinkedin_25x25youtube_25X25

# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

21 Jul 2014
RWE

Why do new products fail?

RWEI’m not much on poetry. I’ve seen Dead Poets Society several times, but I don’t think that qualifies me as an expert. Nevertheless, I did know that Ralph Waldo Emerson didn’t actually say, “make a better mousetrap and the world will make a beaten path to your door.” What he actually said was, “If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.”

The concept is pretty much the same – if you have a better product, then people will want to buy it. Here’s the thing – it’s just not true. It’s not about making a better mouse trap, it’s about making a better mouse trap and having a good marketing and distribution plan!

As a full-service premier advertising agency, people often ask bloomfield knoble to help us market their product. We diligently go through our RUDE process and come up with a sound marketing and distribution plan only to be told that it’s too expensive, or not necessary, because everyone will want their product because they do it differently . . . better . . . and it’s NEW! I get why firms do it – typically 25% of all firm revenues come from products that are less than three years old. Furthermore, new products account for 33% of all growth. It is apparent that any firm that does not invest in new products will suffer in terms of both profit and growth. However, new product development entails uncertainty and even experienced marketers (like bloomfield knoble) can not completely and accurately predict the fate of products. It depends on what market a company is in, but a safe rule of thumb is that 25% of new products will fail.

Many products fail because the strategic plan by which they were introduced to the market wasn’t sufficiently well-executed. You can have a better mousetrap but fail, because you don’t actually go to market in the right way. When people come to us with their new products, they’re really saying they have something better than what’s out there in the marketplace. People believe that “better”  is a relative advantage and they’ll win in the marketplace, but it’s just not the case. Relative advantage alone will not generate adoption. A marketing strategy cannot rely solely on the inherent superiority of the product.

I’m proud to say that bloomfield knoble has been a part of quite a few product launches. I’m also a little embarrassed to say that not all of the products we helped launch were successful. I can say, with complete confidence, that it’s not because of the marketing plan. What experience has taught us is not so much “how to do it right” as much as an understanding of why new products fail:

Poor market definition or wrong target market – not everyone wants your product or service. A strategy that is too broad, or focuses on the wrong target market, is sure to fail.

Insufficient or poor market research – if you don’t understand wants or needs then there is little chance that your product will appeal to the target market.

Price set too high or too low – price too high is obvious, but a price that is too low is often misinterpreted as being of low quality.

Poor advertising placement – similar to target market – if you’re telling a story to the wrong people, then you’re missing out.

Wrong distribution strategy – it’s important to pay attention to the entire pipeline of businesses and organizations that a product travels to reach the consumer. Choose poorly and product is sure to fail.

Wrong physical placement in store – I’ve seen this one first hand – if your product isn’t in the right place, then it’s likely not to be noticed (or considered too much of an effort to find).

Poor marketing mix execution – if product, price, place and promotion do not work well together, it can undermine the entire marketing strategy.

Poor timing of launch – this really has two meanings – don’t launch something wrong time of year (ice cold soda in winter, for example) and don’t launch a product if it’s not ready for market.

Relative advantage alone will not generate adoption. A marketing strategy cannot rely solely on the inherent superiority of the product. Coming to a deep understanding of your product, and especially how customers use your product, will help bloomfield knoble help you develop the right marketing strategy.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
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# # # Who is bloomfield knoble? bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

15 Jul 2014
atreu

Diversifying a business takes as much time as launching one

In 1997 I started talking with a few like-minded people about starting a business and no longer working for someone else. We were like-minded in the belief that we could do a better job than the people we worked for in terms of managing the business and client relations, as well as producing high-quality work.

I was 31. I was a freelance writer for magazines and news periodicals, as well as managing editor for a local publishing company. I had experienced struggles and failures, but did not believe that failure was an option for me if I started a business. Looking back, I know that the guys I was talking with at the time did not believe the same thing. They just thought it was a cool idea. I was just stubborn . . . and ignorant. (Turns out that is probably a good combination.)

It is said a business start up takes between 2-5 years. From my experience and watching many, many others, I am convinced it is the better part of 5 years and then some.

From the move, The Never Ending Story
Atreyu learned the hard way after Artax drowned in the Swamp of Sadness.

We started the business as the Internet was taking hold. Websites were hand-written HTML code, load times were tough and online marketing was a very, very new concept. We struggled to develop websites for local companies and soon realized that was a bad business plan. So we diversified and developed what was just coming up everywhere – an online mall.

During the process we lost 2 of the 5 original players. Their tolerance for “working without a net” was very low. But the rest of us pressed on and discovered that applying some basic marketing ideas to our mall turned into results. We held contests, added book and music reviews. What we did not realize was that we had developed an online portal.

Not being like-minded to Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, we really did not know what we had. So after the mall/portal made us some money and got us some publicity, we started receiving calls from companies that were struggling to monetize their websites or launch websites and suddenly we turned into a Web design start up.

The portal/mall was abandoned as Amazon and other retailers became known brands and we lost traffic. We were creatives, not retailers, so we gravitated to what we knew.

Over the next 4 years we grew by adapting to change, as well as losing two more original founders but brought on a lifer with shared vision. For a time we were expert email marketers, even being the first to develop an email with embedded video for a major game retailer.

When email became spam, we moved to exploring the true needs of our clients, which was strategic marketing and execution. In this new landscape know as the booming Internet, major brands, corporations and small businesses were struggling to find success. Many wanted to abandon their traditional advertising and go with online only and other crazy ideas like that.

So we diversified yet again and began advising and developing integrated marketing and advertising concepts. We kept our head focused on the bottom line and advised others to do the same. “Don’t knee-jerk to new trends, just add them to your arsenal if they work for you,” we said.

Over time, the success our clients had experienced built up the belief that we had finally figured ourselves out – we were a full-service strategic advertising and marketing agency. Nine years later, we had it all figured out.

Not!

While the growth continued, we always faced times where change looked us in the face and we had hard decisions to make for the business. Once CMS software came online we had to adapt and accept that change. Search marketing and lead generation went through iteration after iteration. Adapt and change, recommend only what works. Mobile marketing only? No, just add to the arsenal.

The only reason bloomfield knoble has flourished for 17 years is because we diversify. Today, I believe we are at another point where diversification is necessary. We have experienced success focusing on the energy business and its unique advertising/marketing needs, as well as major brand retailers, retail foods, mortgage, finance and more.

Now, with the advent of content marketing and its impact, it has come full circle. All that we know now comes back to my roots – publishing. I find our agency now providing expertise and consulting on how to drive response and build awareness through content marketing. Well, in 1997 it was called publishing and that was my thing. Suddenly, what was a dying skill is now valued again.

The good news about this diversification is that there is no need to abandon anything we are doing now. It is just focusing on what we know. Oh, and bloomfield knoble has developed quite a track record working for local, state and Federal agencies. That is a major diversification.

Call it what you will – diversification, addition, subtraction, metamorphosis. Whatever. All I can tell you is that it takes time and the ability to adapt. Don’t be resistant to change. Don’t stand still because as businesses we are all standing in a swamp. Stop moving forward and that swamp will swallow you and everyone you are leading right to the bottom and no one will ever know you once made a difference.

 


 About The Author

clark-bachelot-headshotEric J. Hirschhorn is a principal at bloomfield knoble. For 17 years he has helped lead the agency from start up to becoming a premier, full-service agency whose clients include some of the most influential companies in America. Eric lives to spend time with his family, to work and to travel the world in search of unique fishing adventures.

Connect With Eric Hirschhorn
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# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

18 Jun 2014
market research

Marketing Research and Analysis

I can always tell when a client has read the Steve Jobs biography, because it usually generates comments like, “market research isn’t necessary” and “we should go with our gut” or my favorite, “the customer doesn’t know what they want until we give it to them.” Um, OK. First of all, Steve Jobs didn’t create things in a vacuum. He observed what existed in the marketplace and used his amazing intuition to revise products that reinvented user interface – thus generating demand. There were cell phones before Steve Jobs. There were tablets before Steve Jobs. Yes, Apple is amazing and yes, they redefine the experience for consumers, but I assure you that somewhere, once upon a time, Motorola did market research to figure out that people would pay money for a mobile phone.

Market research does matter; it is necessary. So much so, that it’s the first step in the R.U.D.E. process here at bloomfield knoble. Let’s start with the basics – marketers perform research to gain insight into the needs, desires, perceptions and preconceptions of their customers. They then use that insight to improve their decision-making and to achieve better outcomes. This is important because we (agencies and companies alike) sometimes think we know better what the public thinks or what our market is like than we actually do. One of the misconceptions about market research is that every decision requires market research. While I think that every decision requires research it doesn’t have to be full-blown market research. At bloomfield knoble, we have a research system in place that is constantly gathering information so that when we have to make decisions, that information is at our fingertips, at the right time, with the right kind of data. Occasionally, a decision needs to be made where research won’t have been done and the data won’t be available. When that happens, it’s time for market research.

I’m going to go a bit out of order from traditional thinking and skip past research methods and design (for now), because I think it’s important to understand the stages of research in order to formulate an appropriate research objective:

Stage 1 – Specify Research Objective: what are we trying to find out?

Stage 2 – Research Design: what kind of data do we need to collect?

Stage 3 – Research Methods: Usually defined by the kind of data we need to collect, but need to understand how our research method will determine our objective and vice versa.

Stage 4 – Collect Data: The actual execution of the research.

Stage 5 – Interpret Data: This is where the nerd jokes begin. On the surface, it seems obvious – what did the data say? The truth, however, is that data can be interpreted a lot of different ways (I mean a lot of different ways). If we’ve done a good job putting together the objective and the design, then the questions we want answered should be answered. However, data gathered often influences other decision making processes.

Stage 6 – Prepare Reports: Final product of the report.

Even though “reports” are the last step, to us at bloomfield knoble, they are often the first step. It is important for us to understand how our clients need to receive the information. If I had my way, I would just deliver spreadsheets with data points, but if that doesn’t help our client in their decision-making process, then the entire market research project won’t be effective or impactful to them. If a client wants to see pie charts, then we know ahead of time how to structure the research to achieve delivery the way clients expect. It’s not just about client service, it’s about recognizing that not every company approaches the decision making process the same way.


 About The Author

thomas-thompson-headshot

A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.
Connect With Thomas J Thompson
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# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.

 

 

22 May 2014
photo

Are You Ready for Your New Twitter Profile?

bloomfield knoble helps companies make the best of changes like these.
Trying to figure out how to make the best use out of new features like Twitter’s wider header image?

On Facebook, each of your friends has most likely visited your profile page once – when trying to decide to Friend you or not. If it’s an ex, the frequency is greater – obviously in an attempt to see who you’re dating now to make sure you’ve moved on and are happy hoping to God that it’s a downgrade from themselves.

On Twitter, odds are nobody but you has ever visited your profile. But nonetheless, Twitter has updated its profile page – visually and functionally. Are you ready? You have until the mandatory switchover on May 28 to update the profile header image.

One of the things we focus on at bloomfield knoble, inc. is making sure our clients are always the prettiest girl at the dance. Keeping up with changes like this is part and parcel of that job.

Here’s what’s changed and some tips on making the most out of the new changes:

  • Larger profile photos. They’re now 400 pixels by 400 pixels, the same aspect ratio as before but with larger dimensions.
  • Customizable header image. This main image spans the browser, and users are encouraged to upload a 1500 pixel by 500 pixel image. Your current header image might fit, but the bigger scale might make it look a little fuzzy. Note that there are vast differences between how the images appear on mobile devices and desktops, so check all your devices before locking in on your image.
  • Best tweets. Your tweets with the most engagement will appear in a larger text size inside your stream.
  • Pinned tweet. You can now pin one of your favorite tweets to the top of your profile page. A very Facebook move.
  • Filtered views. When visiting someone else’s profile, you can choose how to view their tweets: tweets only, tweets plus replies, or tweets with photos or videos.
  • There’s also now a Pinterest-style grid view of your followers, who you’re following, and your visual content.

This is all a move to make what you see when you log into Twitter more visually appealing. Personally, I find the larger text for more popular tweets handy, after at first being confused by it. The new aspect ratio of the profile header seems prohibitive, but with a little effort, having a picture that works in that space is fairly stunning.

To make the most of these changes, get more visual. It’s long been known that posts with images get more Retweets, and that trend is likely to continue with this more visual redesign. Users have easier access to your visual content (if they visit your profile), so keep on being visual – photos, infographics, charts, whatever helps convey your point and stands out.

Be aware that there’s also easier access for visitors to view your Favorites. How have you been using that feature? Bookmark? The equivalent of a Facebook “Like”? A way to communicate to your followers that this is worthy of attention but not worthy of a Retweet? It seems like everyone uses it differently. Now it’s easier for others to see what you’ve favorited, so be sure you’re making the best use out of the feature.

But mainly, it’s the header image. The much wider aspect ratio completely changes how your header image is presented. As you play around with it, you’ll discover that many images that look like they’d work great (and particularly those that worked before) absolutely do not. But through trial and error you’ll find the right one.

One more fairly minor, unannounced change, is that he background image that used to appear behind your newsfeed is gone. It’s still visible in areas of your profile only accessible to you, but third party users who visit your profile no longer see that image. It will probably be phased out altogether in a future update.

If you manage a page for a business, keeping up with these changes is critical. If you’re just a personal Tweeter, hopefully this information will help you engage more friends … and finally get a RT from that celebrity you’ve been @ mentioning all these years.

At bk, we’ve helped companies ranging from mom and pop shops to Fortune 10 organizations build social presences that have shaped their business and public perception. Part of that is staying on top of trends, updates and changes in the industry.


 About The Author

jeff-carrington-headshot

Thanks to the shortening of attention spans and his inability to finish a novel (phenomena that are unrelated, he assures us), Jeff Carrington has found the perfect job for himself as director of communications and social media at bloomfield knoble. When he’s not developing social strategies for clients in 140 characters or less, he’s tweeting about dive bars and dog parks, both of which he frequents with his Spitz-Terrier mix buddy, Ben, and other random humans.
Connect With Jeff Carrington
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# # #

Who is bloomfield knoble?

bloomfield knoble is a full-service, premier strategic marketing and advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. Our clients include top 50 Fortune companies and unique businesses that seek a strategic partner to empower their offerings and growth. Whether developing an integrated advertising campaign, a direct marketing tactical approach, brand framework and positioning exercise, or daily creative, technical and consulting support, bloomfield knoble provides a one-to-one approach. Call Eric Hirschhorn to learn more at 214-254-3805, or eric@bloomweb.com.