Where’s Your Buyer on This Graph?

It’s not easy to put social media users into nice and neat demographic profiles, but we’re getting smarter about it by the day.

Personally, I like to err more on the side of how people behave online and level of interaction with social media when classifying them anyway over too much of the traditional “age/race/income” classifications. I’m not sure that all 65-year-olds shy away from social media, for example. They may have a Facebook page and/or LinkedIn profile while displaying a comfort level with e-mail and using search engines.

Nonetheless, I thought this infographic from Aimia, a loyalty management company from Canada, was an interesting breakdown that offers some compelling ways to categorize people when planning social media strategy. I wouldn’t take it word for word as every brand’s audience is different, but it still may begin to paint a better picture when planning your brand’s buyer persona. Enjoy.

How Much Do Clients Care About Advertising Awards Shows?

If you’re in a position to influence agency decisions, I have a simple enough question for today.

I just want to know, once and for all, if you ever chose an advertising agency primarily because of the fact that they won creative awards.

There’s no right or wrong answer to this. Was it a:

A) Determining factor in your decision
B) Nice support point to help justify your decision
C) A total afterthought that had no bearing on your decision

I know that generally speaking, agency people value them for a variety of reasons. There’s absolutely no doubt how good it feels to win and to accept an award with your team. I know and I get it. But I’m wondering whether or not there’s a disconnect if the outside world views these shows with as much weight. Frankly, with the changing economic and media landscape (we’re awarding for TV spots above all in a world that’s shifting more to digital by the day?), I’m just not as sure as I once was. I think they like getting a plaque of the award on their wall. But how much does that really mean? I think they like telling the people above of the agency’s success, but how much do those people above really care?

Does it help indirectly with reputation building? Sure. I can see that. But I’m talking about direct impact if that’s possible.

Agency folks are welcome to answer this question similarly –

What’s the ROI of entering?
Can you measure it and draw a direct line from statues to new business or more pitch invites?

Or was that even your goal? Was internal morale building as a result of victories the primary goal instead and new business was a nice “extra”? And if you didn’t enter, why?

Ponder that and let me know your thoughts if you would. Again, there’s no wrong answer and I realize the answer can depend on different types of client personalities and values. But I’d like to hear the shared stories and views regardless. Many thanks in advance.



Do Super Bowl commercials represent what we want anymore?

The question before the Super Bowl every year seems to be “Are you watching more for the game or the commercials?” Being a person who practices the dark arts of advertising and marketing, I’ve usually been glued for the game and the commercials. Certainly not for the halftime shows.

In the agency world, being a person behind a Super Bowl spot has always been the pinnacle. The Everest. The bragging rights. The kick-butt answer to “Have I ever seen any of your work?”

But there’s something that’s been nagging at me about Super Bowl commercials: I’m feeling more nostalgic about them in the context of the world we live in today and every day. I know it’s the one moment that’s more different for the advertising world than any other moment of the year, but it feels more removed than it ever did. Here we gather around a big screen to thirst for seeing something on TV that will wow us, thrill us and get us talking the next day.

How often do we do that on other days of the year? Are we even doing it that much after the big game like we used to? In our world of smartphones, blogging, Tweeting, YouTubing, Facebooking, Linking In and so much more, how often are we feeling this passionate about TV commercials versus having conversations with others in cyberspace?

You and I both know the answer to this. The passion we feel for social media makes a Super Bowl ad look like an old man sitting on a park bench saying, “Sit down and I’ll tell you a story about the day I aired in 1993. It was during the 2nd quarter and if I remember, the Cowboys and Bills were playing that day…”

If push comes to shove, you can take away Super Bowl ads but if you take away Facebook you’ll have people marching in the streets.

Believe it or not, I’m actually not going off on a “TV is Dead” rant here. What I’m saying is there is great irony in that, on the day in which TV commercials are the star that on so many other days of the year, they’re not the star. They’re changing. Not dead, but changing. That is, for those advertisers smart enough to recognize that and do something about it in the delivery so their Super Bowl ads have greater relevance.

How can they stay relevant? To me, a Super Bowl ad in today’s era provides its money’s worth to the advertiser in how it drives the conversation online after the show. If it’s a great ad, it doesn’t just entertain and go nowhere. That’s fine and good if we’re living in 1984 and Apple is introducing the Macintosh. But we’re not. We’re watching the game with a smartphone in our hands and it’s a golden opportunity for each and every advertiser to do something about it. We’re live blogging and live texting and live posting. And live SHARING.

It’s time for Super Bowl ads to grow up.
The best of them have got to take us to a place where we’re inspired to do more than watch and have an emotional response. That’s right. Water cooler chatter is great, but it’s time to up the ante. We have to log on no later than the next day to interact with the brand as a result of the Super Bowl ad – heck, maybe we’ll even do that right after the ad appears if it’s just that awesome.

Think about it. As much as you ever did, you’re commanding the attention of a nation. You can leverage that incredible moment to direct your audience you’ve just inspired to a place online where you want them to do something. Whether it’s posting a video of their own or posting on your Facebook page or watching the other half of your Super Bowl commercial on your YouTube channel to see what happens next, it’s an action.

That’s Super Bowl Ad 2.0. Leveraging a huge opportunity to excite people beyond the 30 seconds you’re spending with them to build momentum and new relationships online, on a large scale.

That feels like a new tradition and something brands, agencies and the people at home watching can get excited about. All over again.

Will Movement Make Banks Remember, Remember the Fifth of November?

Perhaps this isn't just the stuff of movies after all.

Smaller institutions may leverage outrage behind “Occupy Wall Street” and “Bank Transfer Day” to their advantage if they know how to act instead of analyze.

You’d like to think they saw this coming. You’d like to think they wouldn’t be surprised. And at the end of the day, I’d expect the biggest banks in America, including Chicago’s, to still be standing tall. Yet the movement known as “Bank Transfer Day” is gaining momentum and it’s important for all of us to note the new speed with how audiences mobilize, no matter where we stand on the issues. For marketers of financial products and those of us who advise them, it represents an opportunity to listen to audiences and pause before considering what to do in the name of getting more money from customers without giving them something in return.

Why? Because of this writing, one person is having an impact on what 25,978 people may do toward their bank on November 5th. And that’s just today. What will that number be by November 5th?

Organized by Kristen Christian, Bank Transfer Day is imploring people to move their funds from major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions on or by November 5th. The point of doing so is to send a message to the largest banks that there are consequences for unethical business practices. Christian isn’t trying to install anarchy or any more economic instability than what’s already in place.

Rather, as she told the Village Voice and KTLA Los Angeles:

“It’s not about people taking their money and burying it under their mattress. It’s shifting the money to a company people respect the practices of. If you don’t like Wal-Mart’s practices, shop at a local grocery store instead.” 

Christian is a 27-year-old who has banked at Bank of America, both personally and professionally. But she found her breaking point when B of A charged bank fee after bank fee. When she called into the bank because the site was down, she was charged two dollars. When she took her mother to brunch, her mother wound up paying for it because Christian’s account was frozen for three days due to suspicious activity – without any communication from B of A.

Many people who bank with institutions like this have a similar customer service story to tell. The more of them there are, the easier it is for groups to mobilize.

Is there a lesson for smaller banks and others in the financial industry in positioning themselves in this “recovering” economy? Absolutely.

While credit unions are the benefactor in this case, there’s no reason why others, such as community banks, can’t also benefit as long as they don’t act oblivious to current events and remember a few key points in their positioning/re-positioning:

If you raise a fee, there could be consequences beyond a few angry letters and posts online. What Occupy Wall Street and now Bank Transfer Day are showing institutions of all sizes is that there is a very real emotional limit to bank fees.

On the basic level, there is anger and frustration, where people throw their hands up in the air and say, “This is ridiculous and stupid. But what are you going to do?” Then they ask each other what they want for dinner.

Then there’s another layer where you’re ticked off enough to withdraw your account in favor of another institution.

Well, this is actually the point beyond that. 

What we’re witnessing is a new point where people are withdrawing accounts and organizing in order to bring like-minded people with them to send a clear message. And I don’t believe it’s going to end on November 5th either.

Regardless of politics, people are making a grave mistake by marginalizing these types of movements (right and left, mind you), because in a world where it’s not about size of crowd but how well the message is distributed through channels such as social media, a great deal of impact can be made one way or another on a brand. True, the world won’t pay as much attention to a couple people with signs. But I think we can all agree Occupy Wall Street has been greater than that. 25,978 people who sign up for Bank Transfer Day via its Facebook Page is greater than that. The story has the potential to spread far beyond the physical location (if we learned nothing from the uprisings in Egypt).

To ignore that sentiment without addressing it is shockingly short-sighted, if not arrogant. It is at this moment that smaller financial marketers at the community level (banks, financial advisors) should look at themselves and say:

“We’ve got an opportunity here to be portrayed in a light apart from our much larger colleagues. They’re doing us a favor, really. Whereas we might’ve been lumped in with them at one point as ‘Financial Institutions,’ they’re the ones getting hammered in the press for what they’re doing wrong. They’re fragmenting our industry in a good way and we should take advantage of the moment to tell our own story, how different we are from them. We need to show that when people trust us with their money, we’re not going to gouge them to death with ticky-tack monthly fees, nor are we going to do things to do their account without telling them.”

I wonder how many community banks are having that conversation within their walls. Because they should. Now. People are literally taking to the streets and to the web in anger directed primarily at your competitors. And you won’t address that raw emotion because you want to stay above the fray? Because you won’t talk directly about what’s going on in a financial industry where trust is being eroded and what you want to do to fix it? Mistake. Huge mistake. Lost opportunity.

In fact, the issue doesn’t even have to be about how large or small the bank is but rather what it believes in opposition to its counterparts getting hammered in the media and conveying that differentiation clearly.

It’s possible some people who said “I’m attending” Bank Transfer Day won’t ultimately transfer funds from one bank to another. But the larger picture here is that they want to show solidarity and identification with a group against large bank brands. That matters.

It’s also possible that some people will say, “It doesn’t matter because it’s not like these banks are going to be hurting in their bottom line from this. Get real.”

That’s probably true. But I’ll go out on a limb and say any company that takes a “who cares what they think” attitude toward their own customers as long as their numbers are good won’t be doing wonders for their long-term brand perception.

What are your thoughts? Do movements like Occupy Wall Street and Bank Transfer Day change your feeling toward your financial institution? Or does it have little effect on how you view it? If you’re in the industry and feel comfortable commenting, what are your thoughts as well?