Were Your Holidays A Little Different?

Were your holidays a little different this past year?  No, I’m not referring to the horrific and tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown or closer to home, the West Webster Fire Department ambush.  Although I did think of the victims’ families and my heart still aches for what they’ve had to endure.

I noticed something different this past year and I’m wondering if it was just my family or if you experienced it too.  This was the first year we didn’t receive a “year in review” newsletter with one of our holiday cards.

I believe it’s due to the proliferation of Facebook.  Most people are on Facebook (over 1 billion people worldwide) and are likely connected to the majority of the people on their holiday card list.  As long as you share content on a somewhat regular basis, most people have a pretty good idea of your significant events and milestones from the past year.

Family Newsletter 2012

The other thing I noticed was a lack of Lexus commercials this year.  It’s been a staple of television advertising for the past several holiday seasons.  Perhaps I simply wasn’t watching the right networks at the right time.  But I did see plenty of automobile ads, just not for Lexus.  Perhaps they read my blog post from last year and had second thoughts about investing in that campaign once again?  Then again, probably not.  😉

How were your holidays?  Did you notice anything different?

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How Well Do You Know Your Customer?

If I had $1 for every business owner who thought he/she knew their customers very well, I’d be wealthy and retired at this point.  The sad reality is, most businesses think they know their customer, but their perception is almost always inaccurate (and sometimes by quite a bit).

I once worked with an established retail business in Rochester, NY that sold men’s fine clothing.  They were convinced their clientele were, on average, “male, 50 years or older, from the eastern suburbs, wealthy and watched prestigious networks on television like CNN.”  While that seemed plausible, I still conducted market research analysis with two main goals.  The first was to verify their customers’ demographics and the second was to research the media consumption of the actual demographic.

When the data was tabulated, it showed their customer base to be much younger and less affluent than they thought.  As a result, different television networks were a better fit.  Imagine their shock when I demonstrated how their advertising would be more effective (and cost-effective) on MTV instead of CNN!

Since seeing is not always believing, the client wanted to stick with the media plan involving CNN.  I was able to convince them to incorporate MTV into the plan as a trial, and suggested they simply ask customers if and where they saw their television commercial and keep a manual tabulation next to the cash register.  At the end of one month, MTV had a 3x advantage over CNN.

Seeing that MTV was significantly less expensive than CNN at the time, by concentrating on the proper network for their customer base, they could cut their ad spend, double their advertising frequency and triple (at minimum) their impact.  Now that’s what I call bang for the advertiser’s buck!

If you own a business, how well do you think you know your customer? If you haven’t conducted market research recently, I’d suggest there are many things you could learn.

Did You Get a Lexus for Christmas?

Did you get a Lexus for Christmas?  You know, the beautiful luxury car, complete with the bow on top and the little jingle playing faintly in the background.  Me neither!  Do you know anyone who has received a new luxury car in such a way?  Me neither!

Advertisements serve multiple purposes, including brand awareness and brand envy to name a few.  While their commercials are likely a pipe dream for 99% of the population, they are memorable.  In fact, throughout the month of December, it’s difficult to watch any television channel without coming across one of their ads.  Chances are, you’ve seen one or more of the variations.

But maybe their purpose isn’t to cause you to run out and purchase one for your loved one without their input on model, style, color and without their knowledge.  Then, you somehow arrange for it to magically appear in your driveway with a big red bow on top that’s the size of a golf cart while you creatively surprise the recipient.  Perhaps Lexus is thinking more strategically and more long-term than that.

Quick! Can you recall the last commercial you watched for Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Jaguar, BMW or Infiniti?  I’m sure you’ve seen them, but they’re likely more of your “typical car ad” than something as unique as Lexus’ approach.  When it’s not unique (even if slightly more practical), it often gets lost in the clutter.  So if/when you’re in the enviable position of being able to purchase a new luxury automobile, which brand might you think of first?  Which brand will create as much joy?  Which one would be seen as a priceless gift?

As unrealistic as their ads might seem at first for the majority of viewers, I’m guessing they’re actually quite effective in the long-term for creating brand awareness and brand envy.

What other television commercials do you recall from this past holiday season?  What made them stand out?