Our BLOG

The Creativity Crisis

A few weeks ago, Newsweek published an article titled The Creativity Crisis. Essentially, the article discusses how 'creativity scores'? in American kids are declining. Creativity scores? Basically there is a test that can gauge creativity. Creativity is defined as 'the production of something original and useful.'? First, who knew that sort of test existed? I know that school (middle school and high school) has changed a lot since I was there '?¦ but a creativity test? Poor kids... they are graded on everything. I find it so interesting that something that is so subjective as creativity can be measured. But then again, it sort of happens every day in our business. Return on Investment (ROI) is something that we hear every day. Sure, that campaign is funny, clever and captures my attention. But how much? And if something captures my attention what does that mean for sales? How does / will  this 'creative'? impact my bottom line? Campaigns or ads cannot just look pretty for pretty's sake but they need to have a purpose, they need to resonate with the target consumer and result in some sort of measurable consumer action (i.e. awareness, consideration, purchase, loyalty, or evangelism). So a 'creativity test'? happens on regular basis in the agency world. I just wonder if testing kids may be taking things a bit far (but it has been going on for over 50 years now). Second, I wonder what my score would be'?¦ but then I sort of don't want to know. I think of myself as a somewhat creative person and I think that if I took a test that told me otherwise I might be a little bit devastated and I really don't have time for an identity crisis right now. So I asked a couple of my colleagues to share their reactions to the article ' we will be sharing their thoughts over the next couple of days.  In the meantime ' what do you think?

$25,000 Reward for Great Marketing Idea

You can do a lot of things with craigslist.org.  You can post a job, find a job, search for a missed connection, find a date. You can buy a couch, sell a couch, sell a car.  But find a social media strategy?  A viral marketing campaign?  I didn't think so either, until I stumbled across the following posting:   $25,000 Reward for Great Marketing Idea (Bedford, MA) http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/mar/1613790790.html Have you always wanted a chance to prove your business and marketing skills? We have just launched the website www.franklingoose.com and have been trying to figure out how to apply Seth Godin's viral marketing concepts to it. While the site is doing well it is not as viral as we would like it. We will give $25,000 to the person who gives us an idea we believe will make it viral. There could easily be a long term employment or contract work if you are successful. 1. The idea must be submitted by March 31st (sooner is better) 2. The first idea we like and want to use will win 3. Winning is at our discretion. If you don't trust us, don't submit your ideas. 4. The idea should be simple and generally implementable within 24 hours 5. It should be clear that it will at least double the business success by the end of June. Rules: Legally you should know that when you submit ideas that we will consider them in the public domain. Franklin Goose essentially provides 'mindful baby products'? ' think organic onsies, toy trucks made from wood, 'green'? cleaning products, etc.  As a new mom, I was excited to find this site and I did make a purchase (a travel bottle warmer '?¦ something that I think will get a lot of use in my house'?¦ err car'?¦ or rather something that I will use a lot).  As a marketer, I thought this was a great idea and a great use of social media.  I am also a little nervous that it will put us out of business'?¦ but it is still an interesting idea. But it is not really a new idea. Over the past several years, brands have been turning to consumers for all kinds of marketing ideas ' Doritos is one of many brands that pop to mind.  And more recently we have started to see brands using the channel that they want to advertise / market into to find ideas.  JetBlue's Marty St. George, SVP marketing and commercial, recently 'tested'? its potential advertising AOR's digital savvy by asking them to find him on twitter'?¦via twitter. What this tells me is that brands and companies are smart ' they are using social media and understand its power.  They are looking for marketers (individuals and agencies) that understand those channels as well.  People who understand that to effectively use social media you need to do more than just start a Facebook page or Twitter account. Franklin Goose is off to a good start. They seem to have a good presence with the mommy bloggers (I have found several blogs that have highlighted its promotions and give aways) and have a Twitter and Facebook presence but it is looking to do more.  I am excited to see what happens with their contest.  To see what kind of ideas they get.  I have reached out to them (yes, I did ask they are accepting agency submissions) and am hoping that we can share some of our ideas.

Dear Martha and Scott, Please Stop Calling Me!

My phone has been ringing off the hook. Some pretty powerful and famous people want to talk to me ' I have gotten calls from President Obama, Bill Clinton, and Curt Schilling to name a few. I should be flattered, I should feel important but instead I am annoyed and angry. It is too much.  All of these calls are related to the election for the Massachusetts Senate seat. And I am constantly bombarded by one candidate or the other. Yesterday in an hour and half (from 4:00-5:30PM) I got 5 different calls from either Martha Coakley or Scott Brown's campaign. That's a call just about every 20 minutes. While the phone was ringing I was watching TV ' there was a commercial for either Martha or Scott every break. During one break there were 4 in a row ' ugh. I understand the importance of the upcoming election and I get that it is a surprisingly competitive race but seriously enough is enough. This morning the phone started ringing AGAIN.  I found myself begging (seriously begging) them to stop calling me. I am not sure this is the response they were hoping for.  But I don't think that I am the only one who is having this reaction. Marketing is supposed to persuade, to create a positive experience, to connect a brand to an individual, and in an ideal scenario educate the consumer. And I wonder if there was a little bit less marketing from either Coakley or Brown if their marketing efforts would be more effective. They have certainly done a good job surrounding their consumers, Massachusetts voters, with their messages but like I said, it is too much. To be truly effective, brands not only need to find the right message but they also have to find the right frequency to deliver that message. Because if the frequency is too high, that message is lost and becomes white noise, and if it is too low, then it may never be heard at all. According to industry standards, in order to increase base level brand awareness, an effective frequency of messaging is 4-6x. Attention Martha and Scott - that's per campaign... not every hour! Finding that right balance between the message and the frequency of which it is delivered is a definite challenge and is something that AMP is constantly measuring and assessing for our clients based on their objectives. I am not sure if either Martha or Scott found that balance but I guess we will find out on election day.

The Next Wave of User Generated Content?

In July, Japanese band sour released a new video for its song 'Hibi no Neiro'? (Tone of Everyday). As of today, the video has received over 1.6 million hits on YouTube and even for those of us that don't understand Japanese it is something that you must see. The video was directed by Masashi Kawamur, Hal Kirkland, Magico Nakamura, and Masayoshi Nakamura and by (and of) the band's fans only using their webcams. Clearly there was a script or set of guidelines for the fans to follow, which allowed the band to maintain control over the finished product but still allowed fans to participate and experience the band in a new and exciting way. Is this the next wave of user generated content? Could be'?¦ it seems to have worked for reality TV (i.e. The Hills, The City, etc) and it is a way for brands to maintain their integrity and essence while still inviting consumers participate in creating a brand experience. What do you think? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfBlUQguvyw&fmt=18

Getting to Know Consumers

As part of the Consumer Insights team, I field a lot of very specific and sometimes obscure questions. Ranging from 'how many 18 year old college students that live on campus are interested in renting furniture?'? to 'how many moms between the ages of 28 to 35 read newspapers?'? to 'what are the hotspots for tween boys?'? Surprisingly, I usually have, or can dig up, the answers to most of these questions. Not surprisingly, those answers don't always get our clients what they are looking for. So I always strive to provide more. Most clients start off thinking that they need facts about a given consumer segment: demographic information: age, household income, education level, etc and quantifiable behaviors: favorite websites, discretionary spending, number of times they go out to eat, etc. While this type of information is very important, it does not provide the complete picture of who that consumer is and what will motivate them to buy products or services. Think about it, I am 5'7'?, a college graduate and I eat out about once a week. What does that tell you about me? It gives you some idea as to where to put messages, but there is little to go on to establish a relationship. As you know at AMP, our mission is to create brand experiences that become part of consumers' live experiences. We believe that in order to do that we really need to get to know consumers. To truly connect with consumers, as a brand, you need to understand what they think, feel, and believe. To get to that level of understanding the AMP Consumer Insights team leverages some creative and non-traditional research methodologies. For example, we recently did some work for a footwear company that was looking to launch a new line of shoes. We intercepted consumers on their turf (in this case skate parks) and held discussion groups in their homes. We even bought shoes off their feet. These methodologies combined to give us a view of how these consumers play, how they live and how they really use a product (sneakers in this case). It provided the color that was lacking from the black and white facts. Our client not only went on to use this information to develop a new product line but also used it to determine how to connect with those consumers, and ultimately how to launch that line. Consumer demographics and quantifiable behaviors are very important but they only tell half the story. We strive to tell the full story by integrating ourselves into consumers' lives. If you are having trouble with figuring out your consumer's story, let me know. We would love to tell you how we would go about learning more and adding color via a creative and effective research plan. I can be reached at amarsh@ampagency.com

Avoiding the Professional Respondent and Getting a Glimpse at a Consumer's Real World

The other night I was watching some late night TV and I saw a commercial for a Big Spot Surveys promoting its website bigspot.com. While it is not the best commercial - it is not funny, not really visually interesting, nor is it especially well done - it got me thinking. Market research has really become big business ' from a consumer point of view. Having spent the majority of my career in the research business, I am very much aware of the professional focus group respondent and professional survey takers but I think that this Big Spot commercial really hammered home the point that participating in research has truly become a job for some people ' especially given the current economic climate. So what does this mean? It means that there are consumers who have become extremely savvy when it comes to research. They know what to say to get chosen to participate in the research, they understand what different brands are looking for, and they are looking to please the researchers so that they could get more 'work.'? All of this added up could mean that brands who take the right steps and conduct research might not be getting the answers that they are looking for. They might be getting a glossy, half version of what consumers really think and believe. The trouble is that many of the 'powers that be'? that require the numbers and stats, need to see respondents on the other side of the glass. So how do you get to that real answer? There are a couple of different ways. One way is to employ a more rigorous screening process to make sure that the consumers that participate are not the professional ones. Another way is to mix up the research methodologies that you use to get to the answers. For example, combine a more traditional online survey with a non-traditional research methodology such as an ethnographic study or observational research. Combining traditional and non-traditional research methodologies - benefits brands in two ways ' they can satisfy the higher ups and they can potentially uncover insights they haven't seen before. Non-traditional research can give you a glimpse into the consumer's real world. It allows you to get to know consumers without them knowing you are trying to get to know them. Today's consumers are savvy. They understand all our 'marketing'? tricks. They are onto us. And when it comes to research they have started to play our game. Some of them are playing better than us. As marketers and researchers we need to work harder to understand what they think, feel and believe. We need to dig deeper and find new ways to get into their world so we can find our answers and insights. We need to get a little bit more creative.

Tweeting DURING Labor?!

I just learned that the wife of Twitter CEO, Evan Williams (@ev's wife @sara), has been tweeting during her labor. Her tweets followed her from when her water broke to when she was admitted to the hospital to when she asked for the epidural. As the CEO's wife, I guess this sort of thing is expected. But as an expectant mom I sort of think that I am going to have other things on my mind when I go into labor. But I don't use Twitter ' I have an account and I even have some followers but I have yet to Tweet or Re-Tweet. What differs between @sara and me is that Twitter has very much become part of her life and her lifestyle. So for her tweeting during labor may not be that big of a deal and it is probably a natural thing for her to do. Or maybe this is her way of helping her husband to generate some big PR.

Fun Facts

Every month we survey The Pulse, our network of high school and college students.This month we had over 80 responses. Here is what we learned: Samples, Samples and more Samples Just about a quarter (24%) of the Millennials we surveyed have received a free sample in the last 6 months. Product samples ranged from tampons to shampoo to energy drinks. An overwhelming 60% of respondents tried the sample and another 15% stated that they plan to try it. Whether or not that trial leads to purchase is still a question that we are trying to uncover, we weren't able to get a conclusive answer this time around, but our hunch is that it depends on the product category (yes, we know that is a cop out, which is why we are still trying figure out a better answer). Oh and one more thing... most respondents remember getting their free sample in the mail (see chart below). But that could mean a couple of different things. For example, did they request the sample to be sent to them online? This is yet another thing that we are planning to dive deeper into. Mobile Coupons and Cell Phone Purchases As Steve McCall talked about in his post on Monday, mobile shopping is a trend that we have been tracking. We wanted to learn a little bit more about what the digital natives (i.e. high school and college students) think about this trend. When it comes to mobile coupons awareness levels are low. Just 14% of respondents stated that they had actually heard of mobile coupons and of that group only 9% stated that they have used a mobile coupon. With added support from large retailers, we believe that these numbers will grow. Right now it is still a tactic that is very much in its infancy but one we will continue to watch. When it comes to mobile purchases, the numbers are slightly higher. 15% of respondents stated that they have used their cell phone handsets to make a purchase. As seen in the chart below ringtones top the list, but interestingly clothes come in second. As comfort levels increase, we expect larger and more frequent purchases to be made with cell phones. We survey our Pulse Network every month. Let us know if you have any questions you want us to ask, and we'll be certain to field them.

Influences on Purchase Decisions

Understanding the impact of different marketing tactics is critical ' especially today. ROI is something that we talk about daily. However, determining exactly what that impact is, or defining ROI can be a bit of a grey area. For example, take a look at the following chart. We asked consumers how frequently different tactics impact their purchase decision. Over 80% stated that coupons and sampling influence their purchase decisions. These numbers are self-reported behaviors ' not actual behaviors. Put differently, these numbers do not correlate with industry benchmarks for things like coupon redemption rates, which ranged between 2.6% and 1.82% in 2007 according to CMS, a promotional logistics company. But isn't it important to know that consumers believe these tactics influence their purchase decisions? We think so, what do you think?

    Related Posts