Super Bowl Advertising: What and Who Defines a Winner?

At the beginning of each year something unique occurs in the advertising world. In an era where viewers use the latest technology to block and avoid most commercials, even the most avoidant advertisement public turns in anticipation to the Super Bowl, not just for the football but for the game’s commercials. While the action on the field remains the most attractive aspect of Super Bowl Sunday, the commercial breaks enjoy an equal share of the game’s viewer attention and anticipation. With mega numbers of fans tuning into the big championship game, broadcasters command as much as $5 million dollars for a 30-second commercial time slot. Takers line up to eagerly pay the cost to entertain the fans and, hopefully, motivate them into buying their wares. Other major sporting events, such as March Madness, the World Series and the Olympics successfully gather together millions of watchers but the business of advertising for those events pales both in cost, creativity and participation in comparison to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

At the conclusion of each year’s game, while sportscasters recount the maneuvers, plays and players on the field, marketing and media pundits pour over the commercial line-up to determine which advertiser scored the most points with viewers. The competition is intense, and with the cost to play the ad game so high, failing to make a play effectively can relegate a company to bench-sitting status. What makes a successful Super Bowl commercial? Messages and approach vary widely among marketers and, while social and political slants are a regular staple, the content and purpose of the advertisement often takes a back seat to an entertainment element. Comedy generally garners the most appreciation from viewers followed by a generous emotional pulling of the heart strings. Characterizations, animation and pets tend to do very well, but dark, preachy social messaging can hit a sour note among the usually large diverse audience. So, who scored the most points and who received the most penalty yardage in 2018?

The answer is: It depends. The Dirty Dancing ad was wildly popular for its comedic entertainment but left many viewers asking, “What are they selling?” Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” spot was named most entertaining and best overall among marketing pros surveyed by Morning Consult for Ad Age’s first Super Bowl ranking, not just for its entertainment value but for brand effectiveness. For sci-fi fans, Sprint scored a touchdown for its “Evelyn” play call, and Budweiser got those among us who are suckers for an emotional play cheering for its “Stand by Me” performance on the field. Pringles advanced the variety of flavors ball for several first downs, and Danny DeVito’s portrayal of the Red M&M scored extra points. Pepsi, a long-time veteran of the Super Bowl advertising game, took fans down a Pepsi commercial memory lane, while Skittles turned the traditional Super Bowl advertising model in a whole different direction. At the final tick of the game clock, the chronology of the winners was to be determined by the various perceptions of the audience.

Ultimately, the winners in this advertising contest between the best teams in industry will be those who cross the finish line with increased sales, advanced brand recognition or a shinier corporate social reputation. Popularity and likability does not always translate into consumer action. If the intent is to motivate the fans in front of the video screens to make a purchase, studies show that Super Bowl ads, regardless of their cool factor, are very poor stimulators of consumer intent to purchase.

Past studies by Genesis Media have found that 90 percent of consumer game viewers do not buy products based on Super Bowl ads, and 75 percent fail to even remember the previous year’s game winning ads. Advertising Benchmark’s ABX copy test scores indicate the overall results for the 2017 Super Bowl commercials were nothing to brag about. In fact, using standard ad effectiveness criteria, last year’s ads were a disappointment, at best. Overall scores of the last 5 Super Bowls generally fall short of ad norms.

If generating a lasting effect was the Super Bowl advertisers‘ ultimate goal, the leader is Lexus, whose Super Bowl ad was a crossover with the forthcoming Marvel movie “Black Panther,” followed closely by Jeep. This according to ListenFirst Media, which calculated the change in the advertisers’ social media followings after the game, considering both the absolute gain and rise relative to the starting point.

Bowl game advertisers should note, the same $5 million dollar spend would have bought 576 million mobile impressions. Just saying.

Super Bowl Advertisement: Risk Versus Reward

With the price of a 30-second Super Bowl advertisement consistently on the rise, advertising for the Super Bowl has never been an easy decision for marketers. The decision has been complicated in recent years by the political and social protests that appear to have the NFL viewer interests showing a downward trend. Add the serious concern over players’ head injuries, the 2018 Super Bowl marketplace may not be the promising investment for advertisers that it once was. Considering that a 30-second ad costs upwards of $5 million for the 2018 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, the decision to spend potentially $10 million dollars for a Super Bowl campaign can be concerning to those charged with calculating the impact.

The falling ratings in NFL viewership this year can be traced, at least in part, to the League’s insistence on mixing political and social protest issues on the field of play. “ Average game viewership has fallen to 15 million this season, down from 16.5 million last year and the lowest since 2008, according to data compiled by RBC Capital Markets. Analyst Steven Cahall says, “The sustained decline is what worries investors about media’s willingness to offload the NFL’s monetization risk.”

The danger of insulting consumers isn’t limited to the team owners and league management. In the past, Bowl advertisers such as Nationwide, 84 Lumber, HomeAway and GoDaddy have been sharply criticized for  Super Bowl spots. A $5 million backfire can be particularly startling, even to a well-healed brand. The ultimate questions remains “is leaving a really good impression worth $166, 667 per second?”

A recent study, “Super Bowl Ads,” indicates that the value of Super Bowl ads can persist beyond the conclusion of the big game. The study, co-authored by Wesley Hartmann of Stanford University and Daniel Klapper of Humboldt University in Germany, shows that the benefits from Super Bowl ads actually persist beyond the game’s conclusion with increased sales during subsequent sporting events like the NCAA’s “March Madness,” NBA playoffs and MLB games. Further, the research finds that the gains in sales are much more substantial when the advertiser is the sole advertiser from its market category or niche in a particular event.

Klapper says, “As the exclusive beer advertiser in the Super Bowl for many years, Budweiser outperforms competitors for consumption during the Super Bowl. Our findings suggest that there may be value for advertisers to negotiate exclusive advertising rights within a category to generate greater long-term value and it may make sense for the telecaster to offer such exclusive rights at a higher price. However, even though Coke does not exhibit increased consumption during the week prior to the game despite years of advertising during it, Super Bowl ads do help sell Coke after the game, especially among sports fans.”

In addition, the study’s co-author added, “For some type of ads, there is a large social media multiplier by provoking interest and subsequent conversations on social media and mass media that could be independent of Super Bowl viewership. That is good news for advertisers as it suggests that our estimates are only a lower bound of the benefits of Super Bowl advertising.”

Regardless of the falling fortunes, Super Bowl LII is expected to draw more than 100 million viewers with 70 percent of the Nation’s televisions tuned to the event. Last year the game attracted 190.8 million social media interactions from Facebook and Twitter.

Check back after the Super Bowl to see which advertisements hit the mark!

Prepare to Take Advantage of Prevailing Trends in Marketing for 2018

At the beginning of each year, prognosticators and crystal ball enthusiasts practice the craft of forecasting coming trends in everything from the coming year’s sports champions to the price of all things necessary or extravagant. The field of marketing has its own bevy of practitioners providing perceived trends for the coming year.  Regardless of the direction taken to connect best with customers in 2018, the journey will be marked by continued advances in technology and shifting consumer acceptance and utilization of that technology.

Newspapers, magazines and other written media channels will continue to see significant erosion in influencing consumers in 2018. With the rapid advancement and consumer acceptance of digital communication technologies, hard copy collateral’s decline appears to be in a free-fall that will be difficult or improbable to stem.  The forecast for 2018 predicts another 6.8 percent decline for the embattled industry segment. However, the traditional print media are not the only marketing purveyors predicted to suffer set-back in the coming year.

As other social media outlets continue to experience growth in user base, Twitter was unable to advance the ball in 2017. Twitter sought to increase its number of users by increasing the popular 140-character limit to 280. It didn’t prove to be the key to differentiate itself among other social media leaders. Marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects in more than 140 characters. It is a trend of decline for Twitter that some predict will continue in 2018.

With more platforms incorporating big data capabilities within platform infrastructure, marketers will tap into the myriad of consumer data points in order to remain competitive. In addition, consumers are expected to continue embracing interfaces that require little or no physical inputs, such as the smart speaker.  People are interacting with these devices as part of their daily lives, using voice commands and listening to the results.  Thus, there is a substantial opportunity for marketers to communicate with them in a different way.

Additional marketing tactics predicted to be winners in 2018 include:

Influencer Marketing.  Influencer marketing is expected to remain a useful strategy. With nearly 95 percent of marketers touting it a successful strategy in 2017, brands are expected to continue utilizing influencers to connect with their customers through social media.

Apps.  The future of apps remains bright. A prediction for 2018 suggests strong growth in app utilization and capitalization.

Live Events.  Nearly 66 percent of marketers say that they will increase their participation in hosting live events in 2018. Live event hosting remains a reliable and highly effective marketing channel.

Social Media.  “Social media has undoubtedly become a critical platform for marketers,” said E.J. McGowan, vice president and managing director of Campaigner. According to a digital marketing forecast survey by Campaigner, 73 percent of digital marketers believe it was a top strategy in 2017. Using video to carry more of the message through social media is forecast to rise in the coming year. “In their easily digestible format, videos serve as an excellent way to convey a brand’s message in a creative and interactive way,” says E.J. McGowan. “As a result, social networks and other media have made it easier for individuals to consume and broadcast video. As video continues to grow at a prodigious pace, marketers must learn to adopt this disruptive technology or risk falling behind to competition.”

Augmented Reality.  Ground gains are anticipated in the utilization of augmented-reality (AR) content. As new devices like iPhone 8 and iPhone X populate and go mainstream, brands will begin to increase their exposure through AR-branded content.

In-Car Advertising.  As driverless cars begin to arrive on the roads of America in greater numbers, in-car advertising may be the new frontier in advertising.

The best marketers may be those who effectively blend multiple digital channels to engage with their customers. The trend in social media integration is to combine marketing strategies to impact a broader audience.  “The most crucial integration this year, however, is social media and email,” said McGowan. “When leveraged correctly, social media and email marketing can have a synergistic relationship for brands, with social media driving email subscriptions and emails bringing more followers to social channels. Marketers should coordinate the timing and content of posts and emails, and ensure congruent messages are being sent across all channels. Marketers can leverage these social networking sites in 2018 by crafting media campaigns that highlight the strengths of each site,” continued McGowan. “For instance, video may fare very well on Facebook; however, marketers should pivot back to text content when launching campaigns on LinkedIn.”

“While some industries have embraced the paradigm shift in how they reach, engage, and mobilize new customers, I predict that we will see even more attention and focus being placed on getting the marketing mix correct,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO& Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions. “The buzz word used to be ‘contextual’ but we reached that stage when consumers adopted smart devices.  ‘Relevance’ is going to be the buzz word for 2018.”

How are your strategies stacking up in the New Year!?

Hobart Mayfield Launches Ecommerce Store

Any fan of high school, college or professional football is well-aware of the concern many players, coaches and owners have about the rate of head and brain injuries suffered by players across all levels of the sport. Head injuries and concussions caused by contact sports are a growing epidemic, particularly among young athletes. If left unprotected, concussions can result in long-term brain damage and may even be fatal. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that concussions have doubled in the last 10 years and The American Academy of Pediatrics has revealed a two-fold increase of emergency room visits for concussions in kid’s ages 8 to 13 years old. Concussions have also risen 200 percent among teens ages 14 to 19 in the last decade.

As school athletic programs and league rules committees scramble for ways to mitigate these injuries, one innovative early stage company, Hobart Mayfield, is applying science to finding a better way for players to avoid serious head injuries. Their innovative solution is S. A. F. E. Clip, an energy absorbing connector located at connection points where the facemask attaches to the helmet. By absorbing forces of a direct impact on the face mask, S.A.F.E. Clip demonstrated a reduction in force of 24% and 28% for translational acceleration and rotational acceleration, respectively compared to the standard face mask clips.

Justin Summerville, the President and CEO of Hobart Mayfield, is an entrepreneur who follows Thomas Edison’s mantra, “there is a better way, find it.” And he and his team found a better way. They are partnering with schools to customize and fit student helmets with the impact absorbing clips. Justin says, “Because we believe that every athlete deserves the opportunity to succeed and be protected from unnecessary head injuries, we have spearheaded a program that will help provide our product to athletes all around the country.”

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) recently partnered with Hobart Mayfield to design and develop a new website to showcase the S.A.F.E. Clip and its many benefits to athletes of all ages.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the folks at Hobart Mayfield,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO, of Junction. “We are passionate about working with start-up companies who believe not just in the power of the technology, in this case the S. A.F.E. Clip, but also in their ability to generate a positive impact for players of all ages. We look forward to watching this company impact this industry in a big way!”

For more information on Hobary Mayfield, visit


Julie Cropp Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner, Junction Creative, participated in Atlanta Business X’s Radio Show “Tuesdays with Corey.” Gareleck shared insights from her days as a waitress in Gettysburg, PA to her current position as the CEO of her Atlanta based firm.  Corey Rieck, President and Founder of The Long Term Care Planning Group, sponsors the show each month, highlighting women entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives.

When asked about her experience growing up in a family business, Gareleck shared that her goal was to become a reporter like Barbara Walters.  Unbeknownst to her, the passion she held for people and helping people drove her to launch Junction Creative, a hybrid between a traditional consulting firm and an advertising agency, melding intellectual insights with creative execution.  To listen to her journey, forward to 30 minutes into the full interview.

“I greatly appreciate being included as a member of this panel alongside Barb Giamanco, Barbara LoRusso, Corey Rieck, and the team at Atlanta Business Radio X,” comments Gareleck.  “The collective knowledge sitting around the table made for a great conversation about some of the critical elements for success in business.”

Click here to listen to the entire show!

More information on each panelist is below:

Corey Rieck is the President and Founder of The Long Term Care Planning Group, a firm that specializes in delivering Long Term Care education and coverage to companies, high net worth individuals and large organizations. Since 2001, Corey has devoted his career to Long Term Care as a result of multiple personal experiences.  A neutral provider of Long Term Care Solutions since 2001, Corey brings a unique and comprehensive consultative perspective to this issue.  Since 2003, part of his commitment to the Long Term Care Industry includes his having trained over 3,500 advisors from San Francisco to Wall Street on how to properly position Long Term Care to clients through the CLTC organization.

Corey hosts a weekly show call “Tuesdays with Corey” on Atlanta Business Radio.

Barb Giamanco heads up Social Centered Selling. She’s the co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media and authored the Harvard Business Review article Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy.

With a successful C-level background in Sales, Technology and Leadership Development, Barb capped her corporate career at Microsoft, where she led sales teams and coached executives. Through the years she has sold $1B in sales.

Barb is consistently recognized as a Top Sales and Business Blogger, a Top 25 Influential Leader in Sales, a Top 25 Sales Influencer on Twitter and one of Top Sales World’s Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers for the 3rd year in a row. And recently, Barb was named one of the Top 65 Business Influencers among other leaders such as Ariana Huffington, Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg.

Connect with Barb on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Barbara LoRusso is the Director of Client Development for LoRusso Law Firm, an Atlanta-based civil litigation firm opened by her husband, Lance LoRusso, almost 10 years ago. Prior to this, Barbara was doing consulting and research work for a non-profit trade association here in Atlanta for almost 20 years. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from University of Georgia and went to Emory as an undergraduate.

Barbara has been an active volunteer with charitable organizations and currently serves on the board of SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center in Marietta.

Connect with Barbara on LinkedIn.

Julie Cropp Gareleck

Born into an entrepreneurial family, Julie Gareleck was convinced that business was not her passion and that becoming a reporter was more intriguing. At the age of 21, Julie punched her international card, in Paris, working for Angela de Bona, the top PR Agent, representing the top fashion photographers in the world. A venture to Philadelphia after Paris directed Julie to work for a leading entrepreneurship institute.

In a few short years, she was recruited to join a venture capital organization, focused on early stage companies in Technology, Biotechnology, among other industries, as its Executive Director. Julie earned her place in the Board Room at the age of 25.

A transition to Atlanta over 12 years ago enabled Julie to take her strategy experience and work as a senior strategist for interactive advertising agencies. It was here that Julie realized there was a gap between business-based strategy and what was defined as strategy at agencies. Junction Creative Solutions was born out of the need for strategies that intersect key business segments and the need for a firm that can manage the implementation. For over 8 years, Junction has worked with nearly 225 companies, helping do just that.

Julie has created an environment that empowers her team and her clients to be the very best they can be, and success follows naturally. She has earned the respect of her peers not just for her shining personality, but for her authenticity, integrity, and drive as a business leader. Her portfolio includes measurable integrated strategies for prominent brands across various industries, including Yahoo!, Mailboxes Etc., National City Corporation (PNC Bank), GE Energy, Mohawk Industries, Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (SWM), and Alcatel-Lucent. Early stage companies in the portfolio include AcuteCare Telemedicine, 85 Broads, Intelaplay, Competitive Sports Analysis, XIOSS, Infinite Resource Solutions, Guardian Watch, Pro Diligence, Cost Management Group, the National Tennis Foundation, Saffire Vapor, among others.

Julie established the JXN Executive Roundtable in 2012 as a resource for entrepreneurs, senior executives, and marketing leaders to share industry experiences and insights. She remains actively involved in industry organizations often participating as an expert panelist or guest speaker.

Follow Junction Creative on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Atop the List of the Most Monumental Failures

The event wasn’t really anything new. Like the occurrence of hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, wild fires and other major natural calamities, data breaches come around from time to time almost as naturally and expected as Mother Nature’s furious punishments.  Differentiated from one another by a numeric sliding scale that measure their severity and the totality of their mayhem on the populace, natural disasters are recognized as unavoidable as they routinely play havoc on populations all around the world.

Data breaches, while unfortunately common in today’s data driven world of commerce and social interaction, can be defended against by pre-breach, cybersecurity deployments that may lessen their impact or result in their total avoidance. Breaches of consumer’s private information are not yet measured by a numeric scale of severity, but the latest data breach at Equifax just may have raised the upper limits of the damage impact bar.

The recent Equifax incident resulted in the privacy of 143 million customers being violated, but the total impact may be much larger and may initiate additional unintended disclosures of financial information by hackers for some time to come. The domino effect may continue for years given that the most noted information stolen was customer’s social security identification numbers. With this one number, bad actors are capable of unlocking and laying bare all there is to know of an individual’s identity. Unlike credit card information, Social Security numbers are for life.

Surprisingly this was the third time Equifax had been hacked this year. To not learn from the previous experiences and enact additional safe guards to avoid additional breaches is a failure of leadership and culture as much as a failure of network security. “Equifax sits on the crown jewels of what we consider personally identifying information,” says Jason Glassberg, cofounder of the corporate security and penetration testing firm Casaba Security. “You’d think a company like that, guarding what they’re guarding, would have a heightened sense of awareness and that clearly was not the case.” Equifax has provided a website where customers can find out if they are impacted by the breach but has no intention on notifying consumers if they are impacted. The company will provide affected consumers with the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier for a period of one year.

With more than 2,200 data breaches occurring so far this year alone, companies need to step-up their preparations for responding to an inevitable breach.  To effectively secure personal information and networks, company leaders need to understand that that privacy and security are coequals. Applying concepts of basic cyber hygiene and realizing that cyber security is an integral part of the company’s overall operations is essential.

Prior to retiring, Richard Smith, CEO of Equifax said, “Equifax will not be defined by this incident, but rather, how we respond.” The comment was seen as wishful thinking at best. Equifax will most assuredly be defined by this breach and the disparate response to it for decades to come. Being at the top of the most memorable list is not a good or profitable place to be when it is the list of the most monumental failures. After two decades and millions of dollars spent on cybersecurity the saga of failure and the effects on consumer’s privacy is bound to continue. Maintaining the status quo is clearly not an option.

Are you prepared for your next cybersecurity failure?

Award Winning Strategic Agency Committed to Creating High Impact Solutions

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), a hybrid between a traditional consulting firm and a creative agency, is often labeled as just a “creative shop” or a “marketing agency.”  Junction was founded on the premise that there is a fundamental juncture between strategy and the execution whether in operations, sales, marketing, technology.  Assisting clients in meeting growth goals is a core competency at Junction.

“Providing strategic leadership to companies wanting to grow their business is our primary focus. Many of our clients are looking to build their performance to support a divestiture or increase revenue.  Our team of experience strategists and execution team remain focused on achieving our clients’ goals and objectives.”

Traditionally, firms focus on strategy or execution, rarely both.  “Because we offer both strategy and execution, we can qualify and quantify our results.  It’s a challenge to meet and exceed expectations but certainly a challenge that we are familiar with,” says Gareleck. Junction reports a significant growth in its portfolio of strategy clients.

In 8 years, Junction has worked with more than 225 brands, 100 of which are in the Fortune 1000, across industry vertical.  Armed with knowledge and data, Junction affirms that 2018-2019 will mark a period of reinvestment in strategy as economics and politics affect the business climate.  “As we work with clients on managing growth and implementing growth strategies, we also see others primarily focused on the execution.  I remember seeing these trends in 2008 so it’s critical to be prepared for any potential changes that stall or stop growth,” Gareleck comments.

For more information on how Junction can provide impact for your business, contact us at or visit the website.

Did Trends Become Reality in 2017?

Just as the green leaves of summer begin to turn color and fall from the trees, predictors of the coming year’s trends offer their insights as to how the most successful, leading companies will achieve their sales objectives in the months ahead.  Last year, Forbes cited important trends in business for 2017.   As we quickly approach the end of 2017, we wanted to see how those trend predictions materialized this year.

Reality: Subject Matter Experts Become the New Rainmakers

Once upon a time there were three sales approaches. The order taker, who called to fill a customer’s needs, the pitchman who focused efforts on remunerating product or service features and benefits to bag and ring-up the sale and the consultative sales person, the subject matter expert (SME), who approached the sale by utilizing advanced business experience and knowledge to close a deal.  Today executive B2B leadership is looking for folks that can provide experience and valuable insights to move their businesses forward.  While the days of sales representatives calling on the C-Level to get a meeting still has its venues, the future of sales lies with the SME Rainmakers.

In Process: Crowdfunding Validates New Products

The prediction that crowdfunding would replace venture capitalist (VC) in 2017, while gaining on more traditional sources of financing, appears to be encountering the learning curve.  Indiegogo CEO, David Mandelbrot says, “We’ve very focused on educating both entrepreneurs and backers of those campaigns. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s also very new.”  Early analysis of crowd funding indicates a growing popularity among real estate investors and those entrepreneurs seeking to secure asset-backed loans from accredited investors and for supplementary capital for ventures that have been successful in raising funds from traditional VCs.  While crowdfunding has become popular with start-up entrepreneurs, it doesn’t necessarily validate the success of a new product.

Reality: Sales & Content Marketing Fully Integrated

“More than just a buzzword, content marketing has become one of the most powerful tools for attracting targeted customers, building loyalty, and driving profitability,” says Veronica Stoddart, the principal of VS Content Strategies. “If done right and properly integrated within a brand, content marketing will benefit a cross-section of departments, including marketing, sales, public relations, and even customer relations.” The predictor’s crystal ball clearly scored on this one.   The emergence of this digital economy, content has become a clear driver in the sales process.

Reality: Video Becomes Essential 

The combined top three social media networks, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube are producing 22 billion video views every day. Marketers can no longer ignore video. Video is becoming the method in which to distribute content that will resonate with a broad base of audiences.

In Process: New Collaboration Rethinking Email

Despite all the new emerging digital marketing tools, email remains a persistent survivor. While popular tools like Slack are becoming more common in the workplace, email remains to be an important communication tool.

Reality: Brick and Mortar Loses Retail Stores

We have experienced major retailers closing stores and retooling location strategy in response to consumers’ increase use of online sellers.  Those retail companies that understand the importance of customer experience will continue to excel. Brick and mortar retailers must find ways to be relevant to its customers and continue to evolve the in-store experience.

Reality: Subject Matter Experts Get Sales Support

With the push for content, thought leadership, and marketing tools, organizations are embracing a new way to structure sales and marketing departments. Silos have existed between the two.  In today’s fast-paced digital environment, integration is critical.  Subject matter experts bring knowledge and expertise that can inform sales opportunities.

In Process: Narrow Segments Capture Attention

Understanding your customer segment is critical in communicating a marketing/sales message. However, spreading the message too thin isn’t being effective. “It’s less about narrowing the focus of segments but rather focusing on those segments that are actively making purchase decisions.  The overall effectiveness of this strategy will improve, says Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO Junction Creative Solutions.” 

In Process: Recurring Revenue

Companies will continue to shift from single, up-front payments for products to recurring revenue for a service.  In B2B and B2C, the goal is to engage a customer on a regular basis, with an ongoing need for goods or services.

Gareleck comments, “This is always going to be a conversation about value.  I don’t see the entire marketplace moving to retainer relationships as a portion of businesses are still looking for the cheapest option available or the most cost effective.”

In Process: Millennials Groomed for Leadership

Ian Altman, a B2B Integrity-based sales and growth expert predicted, “Just like past generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives. Top performing companies will work to magnify their strengths and build systems to compensate for their perceived deficiencies.”

Organizations often lack the middle-management layer that trained young leadership to rise and grow within the organization. While Millennials are going to become 50% of the work-force in the next few years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are prepared for leadership roles.

It’s clear that there is accuracy with trends and predictions.  Some of these areas are evolving while others have reached mass adoption. It will be interested to see what forecasters predict for 2018!

Is It Getting Too Complicated with Four Generations Comingling at the Water Cooler?

In the most recent years, marketers and employers have been attempting a multitude of strategies to figure out who Millennials really are and what their expectations about life, job and product are. For those who are still struggling to understand Millennials, and the most effective means to connect with them, Generation Z has reached the workforce.

While some marketers can at least claim a little success in cracking the millennial code, others have just given up and returned to re-focus on what worked to attract consumers in the past. Employers who have tried everything from ping pong tables, paid-time off for advocating for social justice issues and work from home models in order to attract, inspire and retain effective millennial employees are still evaluating the totality of their experiences. Are we now supposed to scrap everything and retool corporate strategies for the new generation?

Generation Z consists of those born in 1996 or later. They make up 25.9% of the United States population and are expected to contribute $44 billion to the American economy. By 2020, they will account for one-third of the U.S. population. The most tech savvy and information consuming generation in history, Generation “Z’ers” tend to be less focused on a single thought but are demonstrating an amazing ability to multitask and a lack of patience with a single subject; bad news for War and Peace sized novel writers and good news for publishers of an abbreviated Readers Digest.

This generation has grown up accustomed to the fast paced development of technology. They are perpetual in their use of smart, digital devices and spend less time watching TV than their forbearers. “We are the first true digital natives,” said Hannah Payne, an 18-year-old U.C.L.A. student and lifestyle blogger. “I can almost simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on Instagram and talk on the phone, all from the user-friendly interface of my iPhone. Generation Z takes in information instantaneously, and loses interest just as fast.”  As result, marketers are experiencing a massive shift in advertising methods and content messaging in order to successfully connect with generation Z’s shifting values. “When it doesn’t get there that fast they think something’s wrong,” said Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young. “They expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.”

Gen Z-ers have digitally honed social insights but are more socially diverse and conscious. They are more likely to appreciate the face to face relationships than their predecessors. Wanting to do great work for an employer, they are predicted to be willing to invest years in a job that propels them forward to achieving their personal self-development. Many are shunning traditional routes to higher education opting instead for online education while they practice making a living.  According to Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel, “the newly developing high tech and highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.” Generation Z desires more independent work environments with nearly 75% of Gen Z teens espousing an ultimate goal to start their own business. “Kids are witnessing start-up companies make it big instantly via social media,” said Andrew Schoonover, a 15-year-old in Olathe, Kan. “We do not want to work at a local fast-food joint for a summer job. We want to make our own business because we see the lucky few who make it big.”

But with all the hype and predictions of generational differences is the next mega market group really all that different from their parents and grandparents?

When developing a strategy to segment any market we must realize that no one generation does a market segment make. Each generation, while differing in the methods of making connections, will invent many new insights and social behaviors but also retain important aspects of connectivity from their predecessors. Generation X, Millennials, Z’ers and Baby Boomers are all occupying the same marketplace and sharing the same water cooler conversations at work.  It will require marketers and employers to maintain due vigilance as each generation continues to morph into the multitude of individuals they want to become.  How are you adapting your organization to accommodate 4 generations?

As Summer Heats Up, Airline Brands are Taking Heat from Customers

The spring buds had barely broken into leaf when United Airlines (UA) set into motion what is becoming a summer of brand destroying idiocies. The airline industry, not always praised for their customer centric approach to operations management, decided moving a few of their employees to another location was more important than several passengers who had paid for their passage and were boarded and preparing for departure. The flight was scheduled to depart O’Hare International Airport in Chicago for Louisville, Ky., at 5:40 p.m. but hundreds of other passengers were delayed two hours while UA flight attendants and crew members summoned some strong arms of the private law and forcibly assaulted and dragged an offending passenger off the plane.

Later into the season an IT outage at British Airways (BA) caused thousands of flights to be cancelled impacting more than 75,000 customers travel plans. Glitches and Murphy’s Law has been known to throw an unintended wrench into even the most well-executed software program before, but BA’s poor communication and resulting response was so inept that many passengers have vowed to boycott the airline.

Carmen Courchesne, a 74-year-old passenger was supposed to be flying from Massachusetts to Florida with help from JetBlue’s (JB) wheelchair assistance program when something went wrong at Logan International Airport. The grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was left unattended at a gate in Boston for several hours before her family, who were waiting at the airport in Florida, became concerned and sought her whereabouts. Turned out many hours later she was still sitting, abandoned and unattended at Logan Airport.

These and numerous other industry-actors customer relations missteps has made the summer of 2017 a time of mind-blowing, brand busting odyssey. And if the actual incidences where not sufficient enough to anger and alienate their customers and severely injure their brand’s value, the reaction from the airlines employees and management in response to the problems left nothing on the table to cast doubt on where these airlines position their customers in their operations hierarchy. Initially, UA responded to their passenger assault by attempting to explain why overbooking flights and reallocating human resources topped passenger service when it came to the company’s bottom line. BA’s response gave a; so what, these things happen, we’ll do better next time public impression. JB’s seaming flippant response to botching their passengers with disability customer service did very little to appease the concerns for the family of the disabled grandmother, much less add value to the company’s brand or reputation.

Customers have long been told that they’re never wrong, that customer sovereignty trumps all things when it comes to making connections with a responsible marketer, even when a consumers behavior spills out of the envelop of common decency. In reality, “Customers are not always right, but they are always the customer”.

Is it possible that the answer to theses errant reactions lies at the foot of another business management mantra, “What gets measured gets done”? In today’s high-tech, data harvesting, benchmarking, number crunching world, it is becoming clear to airline consumers that airline employees’ performance evaluation matrix does not include so much of a bullet when it comes to the art and science of customer centricity. Either that, or a whole lot of company associates failed to get the memo.

Regardless of the specific reasons, the summer of the “War on the passengers” is an indication of a systematic problem, perpetuated and promoted by those at the very top of the corporate labor chain. Expectations and examples all start at the top and at the top of every subsequent management level. It then matriculates down to where the end user meets with the company’s product or service. And while no associate can completely be held accountable for the poor and despicable actions of a few consumers, each of us who make our life’s work from connecting with consumers must put the misbehavior in perspective and context of the whole of the experience. A company’s brand value and each of our personal values are ultimately on the line and on display for all to see.