Friday, March 30, 2012

Meet the B2B Consumer

Most B2B marketers don't think of their customers as "consumers."
But according to Tony Zambito, originator of "buyer persona" research, "there is an increasing consumerization effect happening in B2B buying."
B2B buyers no longer progress, zombie-like, through the buying cycle.
Instead, they behave like living, breathing consumers.
As proof, Zambito points to five trends:
Mapping. With so much content on the Web, B2B buyers are "mapping" the discovery process. B2B marketers who want to court them need to understand how customers are finding their way through the jungle.
Ecosystems. All B2B buyers work in corporate "ecosystems." Gone are the days when a buyer made a decision on her own. Marketers need to adapt by incorporating "ecosystem views" into their strategies and organizations.
New rules. B2B buyers are basing buying decisions on new variables, such as globalization and economic uncertainty. Marketers need a firm grasp on the "new rules of decision-making," so they can support how buyers are making decisions.
High stakes. Organizations have become risk-averse and now see buying as a high stakes game. Marketers need to understand why B2B buyers buy. That means grasping buyers' shared attitudes, goals, beliefs, perceptions and motives.
Post-purchase assurances. As the stakes increase, B2B buyers want better assurances after the purchase. Marketers need to move away from "funnel thinking" and put stronger effort into engaging customers after the sale. "Post-purchase support and talent can no longer be an afterthought," Zambito says.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mad Man: Copy Rules

I grew up in the 1950s and '60s, a few miles outside New York City.

Both good and bad ad campaigns were pervasive.

There were posters and billboards everywhere: on 
roadways, in train stations, at bus stops and on the sides of buildings.

I've forgotten all the bad campaigns, but still vividly recall the good stuff.

One of my favorites, a campaign for Levy's Jewish Rye, was cited last week by a
d man George Lois in an interview by NPR.
I was delighted to learn from the interview that Lois believes in the primacy of copy.
Even though the synergy between words and images is crucial to a good ad, the copy must come first, Lois insists, "because a line, a slogan should be famous."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Guns Don't Kill People. Associations Do.

The lonesome death of Trayvon Martin has prompted me to wonder why.

Why did George Zimmerman shoot a 17 year-old kid strolling down the road, minding his own business?

I've followed the chain of causation from that gated community in Florida back to its original link.

The chain leads to the doorsteps of a handful of pro-gun associations.

It's no secret: associations, when sufficiently funded and mobilized, are powerful packagers and pushers of legislation.

In this case, the legislation sold by those associations promotes and protects vigilantism.

I'm no "criminal coddler," but vigilantism isn't ground I can stand on, or for, or behind.

We all should tremble when the National Rifle Association, the Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights want to talk bullet points.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Controlling Drayage Costs

Blogger Valerie Hurst wrote today's guest post.  She is an account executive for Skyline Exhibits.

Tradeshow exhibitors, how many times have your show services been estimatedand all costs seem to be under controlwhen you receive the post-show service invoice, and the drayage costs shock you and throws you over your budget?

The official definition of drayage (aka, "material handling") is "the unloading of your exhibit properties; storing up to 30 days in advance of the show at a warehouse; delivering properties to the booth; the handling of empty containers to and from storage; and removing of material from the booth for reloading onto outbound carriers" (source: Freeman).

Here are my top five recommendations for controlling drayage costs:

Consolidate shipments under 200 pounds into one shipment.
There is always a minimum drayage charge for every shipment delivered to the warehouse or show site. By consolidating shipments, your charges will be based on the total shipment weight, instead of individual minimum charges. Plus, by consolidating shipments, your properties will stay together and have less chance of being misplaced!

Know the material handling rates.
Sometimes it is less expensive to ship to the warehouse, while other times it is more cost effective to ship direct to the show site. Some shows now include the cost of drayage with booth space, but usually require you to ship direct to the show site. Do your homework: review the show kit, compare freight costs and the timing of the arrival of freight, and decide what makes sense for your booth space.

Know the target dates to avoid overtime charges.
Every warehouse accepts freight between certain hours and for each show there is a warehouse deadline. If you miss this deadline, overtime charges are often 25 percent more than the standard rates. Consider shipping direct to show site if you can; or, if your shipment is small, ship to your hotel and hand-carry your items into the show. Again, the information you need is in the show kit.

Understand what is considered "special handling".
Did you know that if carpet and padding are shipped with your crated exhibit properties, that special handling charges often apply? Did you know that, if a truck requires ground unloading, or if you ship via FedEx, UPS, Airborne or DHL, these shipments are also charged at a higher rate? Understand the general contractor's definition of special handling and work with your traffic manager to ship your items, properly labeled, in the right size truck, and not mixed with loose items.

Is your move-In or move-out target date on an overtime day?
Many shows have targeted move-in and move-out dates. Perhaps your booth is scheduled to move out on a Saturday, even though the show ends at 2 pm on Friday. Review the show kit to find the person you can contact to request to have this date changed. Many times this will be allowed, but of course it depends on the size of your booth and where you are located on the show floor. It does not hurt to inquire, as it could save you money.

Photo courtesy of Tim Wilson.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why NFC is the Next Big Thing

Get set for yet another marketing revolution.

NFC will change the way customers discover your content.

NFC (the acronym for "Near Field Communication") is a form of short-range wireless that bridges the gap between the real and virtual worlds.

The technology allows anyone with an NFC-ready mobile phone or tablet to access your content by touching the device to a comparable oneor to a "smart poster."

Thanks to the manufacturers, nearly one-third of new phones are NFC-ready right now. Three years hence, all will be.

With NFC, customers will be able to touch your sales reps' and ambassadors' phones and instantly download anything you now deliver on line. Videos. PowerPoint slides. Spec sheets. White papers. Price lists. Discount coupons. You name it.

Sales rep not around? No worries. Customers can do the same thing by touching one of your smart posters.

But wait, there's more.  

Provided the nearest cash register is NFC-ready, your customers will be able to pay for your products with a touch of their phones.

The marketing revolution NFC will usher in isn't pie in the sky.

It's underway as we speak.

That's the reason CNN has labeled 2012 "the year of NFC."

Take time today to get smart about NFC, if you want to stay ahead.

Disclaimer: I'm the marketing director for ITN International, which provides NFC apps and solutions to event producers worldwide.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Writer to Remember

Walter Lord was a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson when he started to write A Night to Remember, a slim 200-page book he'd publish in 1955.

Moment-by-moment, A Night to Remember recounts the courage and craziness of the crew and passengers aboard Titanic.

I remember devouring Lord's book when I was 10.

Hundreds of thousands of other readers do, too.

From the opening sentence, the book gallops through the three-hour horror.

Imagine if Spielberg, not Cameron, had made the 1997 film, and you get a feel for A Night to Remember.

Lord's 2002 obituary in
The New York Times cited one reviewer's take on the writer's technique. He called it, "a kind of literary pointillism" so fashioned "that a vividly real impression of an event is conveyed to the reader."

The success of A Night to Remember
rave reviews, on the best-seller lists for months, a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and TV and film adaptationsallowed Lord to quit his copywriter's job for full-time authoring.

He used the same "you are there" technique to retell stories like the attack on Pearl Harbor, the battle at the Alamo, and the integration of Ole Miss.

But none of those books quite compare to his first blockbuster.

Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Officially Awesome

I am delighted to announce that I am now officially awesome.

I have attended South by Southwest.

Not since my days in the Cub Scouts have I tried so hard to earn a badge.

"South by" is, without doubt, among the rockingest events you could ask for.

Lots of people have tried to describe it, with limited success.

Now I understand why.

During my visit, I had the privilege of participating in a closed-door meeting with South by Southwest's executive director, Mike Shea.

Shea described South by Southwest as "dozens of micro events under one tent," plus dozens of micro events "outside the tent."

And not only are there dozens of out-boarding events, there's a swelling crowd of attendees refusing to pay the registration fee.

This so-called "Badgeless Movement" thinks of itself as anarchist. But in my book it's really just a collection of cheapskates.

I feel a bit sorry for them.  

Yes, they may be awesome.  

But they're not officially awesome.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Tagline is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Because they have to work in many ways, good taglines are hard to write, says Branding Strategy Insider.

But a tagline is a terrible thing to waste.

A tagline must not only convey your brand's unique value, but must do so credibly, memorably and tersely, Insider says.

The most common mistakes marketers make with taglines are:
  • Claiming something trite (for example, "excellence")
  • Saying something catchy, but without meaning
  • Communicating only the brand's product category
  • Touting a benefit any brand in the category must deliver
  • Making promises indistinguishable from competitors'
  • Using too many words
Insider cites these examples of crummy taglines:

We’re glad you’re here (City of Chicago)
We get you there (
Delta Airlines)
A good place to sit and eat (

And some good ones?  Insider cites:

Don’t leave home without it
American Express)
A diamond is forever
A mind is a terrible thing to waste (
United Negro College Fund)

What's your favorite tagline?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Does Opening Your Mouth Put You behind the Eightball?

If you can't sum up your idea in eight words, you'll find yourself behind the eightball, says executive speaking coach Allison Shapira.

Writing in 
The Boston Globe, Shapira recounts a conversation she had with a venture capitalist.

The VC told her he
cuts business people who want his attention no slack.

“Within the first eight words, I’ve decided whether or not to keep listening,” the VC said.

If the individual's "core innovation" isn't stated in her first eight words, "it’s probably not there."

The VC's take-no-prisoners rule-of-thumb points to the need for good opening lines, Shapira says.

But how do you develop one?

First, Shapira suggests, decide what you want your discussion to accomplish.  What do you want your listeners to know or do?

Next, brainstorm possible opening lines.  A good opener is simple, unusual, concrete, emotional or storylike.

Last, but not least, write down the products of your brainstorming and put the list aside for a few days, so you can consider it at liesure.

"Good openers are part preparation and part inspiration, and you need time for both," Shapira says.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Idea Killers

In the Harvard Business Review, branding bigwig David Aaker explains why business execs always seem to kill new ideas.

Execs need to shake their bleak attitudes, Aakers says.

"Biases against game changers need to be neutralized."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Open for Inspiration?

Inspiration, says The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, means "a divine influence" or "the act of drawing in."

Divine influence lies all around us, all the time. But we're not always ready to draw it in.

That's because we're so self-reliant, we don't stay open to random events.

Consider the following.

In his memoir, Chronicles, Bob Dylan recounts the days leading up to his first recording session.

The sheepish 20-year old visited the office of a Columbia Records producer, John Hammond, to sign a recording contract with the company. At the end of the meeting, Hammond handed Dylan an unpublished album by a Mississippi singer-songwriter no one had ever heard of in 1961, Robert Johnson, and Dylan took it home with him.

Dylan describes how, in the weeks that followed, the record enchanted him. "Over the next few weeks, I listened to it repeatedly, cut after cut, one song after another, sitting staring at the record player. Whenever I did, it felt like a ghost had come into the room, a fearsome apparition."

Dylan transcribed all of Johnson's lyrics and studied them for hours. "I copied Johnson's words down on scraps of paper so I could more closely examine the lyrics and patterns, the construction of his old-style lines and the free association that he used, the sparkling allegories, big-ass truths wrapped in the hard shell of nonsensical abstraction—themes that flew through the air with the greatest of ease."

Dylan realized he'd found the key to his artistry in Johnson's offbeat worldview. "I didn't have any of these dreams or thoughts but I was going to acquire them."

Dylan wonders what might have been, had Hammond not given him that record. "If I hadn't heard the Robert Johnson record when I did, there probably would have been hundreds of lines of mine that would have been shut down—that I wouldn't have felt free enough or upraised enough to write."

How about you?

Are you open for inspiration?

HISTORY BUFFS' NOTE: March 19 will mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan's first record.
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