Copyright © 2007 Scott Hrdlicka

Sparkplugging: Jumpstarting and Managing Brands in an Over-Proliferated Market
by Scott J. Hrdlicka

A Thesis Paper Submitted to the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science in Engineering Management

Milwaukee, Wisconsin October 2007

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Table of Contents
List of Figures................................................................................................................. v Abstract ......................................................................................................................... vi Introduction .................................................................................................................. vii Chapter 1: Branding........................................................................................................ 1 Brand Experience........................................................................................................ 3 Benefits to Brands....................................................................................................... 5 Brand Equity............................................................................................................... 6 Brand Awareness and Brand Presence..................................................................... 6 Brand Identity ............................................................................................................. 8 Brand Identity Traps................................................................................................ 8 The Brand Image Trap ............................................................................................ 9 The Brand Position Trap ....................................................................................... 10 External Perspective Trap...................................................................................... 10 Product Attribute Trap........................................................................................... 11 Line Extension.......................................................................................................... 12 The Category ................................................................................................................ 12 Defining the Brand Category..................................................................................... 16 Positioning.................................................................................................................... 19 Positioning Essentials................................................................................................ 20 Frame of Reference................................................................................................... 21 Point of Difference.................................................................................................... 21 Functional Benefits ............................................................................................... 21 Emotional Benefits................................................................................................ 22 Sustaining the Brand Position.................................................................................... 22 Positioning Strategies................................................................................................ 23 The Anti-Position.................................................................................................. 23 The “Not” Position................................................................................................ 24 The How We Got Here Trap ................................................................................. 24 Brand Names ................................................................................................................ 25 Company Names....................................................................................................... 26 Egomaniac Naming Trap....................................................................................... 26 Generic Category Name Trap................................................................................ 27 Brand and Company Name Selection ........................................................................ 28 Capital Letter ........................................................................................................ 28 Change a Generic Name into a Unique Word ........................................................ 28 Attribute Names .................................................................................................... 29 Industry Terms...................................................................................................... 29 Early in the Alphabet............................................................................................. 29 Unique Names....................................................................................................... 29 Name Trends......................................................................................................... 30 Initials................................................................................................................... 30 Appeal to the Senses ............................................................................................. 30 Short and Direct .................................................................................................... 31 Names and Line Extension........................................................................................ 31 Price ............................................................................................................................. 32

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Price Expectation and Experience ............................................................................. 34 Price and Client’s Loyalty......................................................................................... 35 Price Shoppers ...................................................................................................... 36 Price Promotion .................................................................................................... 37 Section Summary.......................................................................................................... 37 Chapter 2: Promotion.................................................................................................... 38 The Evolution of Advertising.................................................................................... 39 Advertising Cost Trends........................................................................................ 40 Consumer Perceptions of Advertising ....................................................................... 42 Advertising in an Overcrowded Disruptive Society ................................................... 43 Advertising for Brand Building and Brand Maintenance ........................................... 43 Advertising Product Introduction, Case Study: Crest WhiteStrips.......................... 46 Advertising Brand Maintenance ................................................................................ 49 Advertising Brand Image Changes and Line Extension ............................................. 51 Case study: Volvo, The ReVolvolution ................................................................. 52 Advertising and Creativity ........................................................................................ 55 Case Study: Nissan................................................................................................ 57 Creativity and Animals Ads .................................................................................. 58 Public Relations............................................................................................................ 60 Forms of Public Relations ......................................................................................... 61 The PR Hook ............................................................................................................ 62 The Pitch................................................................................................................... 62 Eight Rules of Pitching.......................................................................................... 63 Quantifying Public Relations..................................................................................... 64 Marketing Research ...................................................................................................... 66 Section Summary.......................................................................................................... 67 Chapter 3: Internet Marketing ....................................................................................... 69 Internet Marketing Advantages ................................................................................. 72 Building a Web Presence .............................................................................................. 73 Domain Names ......................................................................................................... 74 Domain Name Selection........................................................................................ 75 Website Development ............................................................................................... 75 Simplicity.............................................................................................................. 76 Design................................................................................................................... 76 Content ................................................................................................................. 78 User Involvement.................................................................................................. 79 Speed .................................................................................................................... 80 Search Engine Optimization.......................................................................................... 80 Search Results....................................................................................................... 82 The Importance of Search Engine Optimization ........................................................ 84 The History of SEO Search Engine Optimization...................................................... 85 Meta Tags ............................................................................................................. 86 Modern Search Engine Optimization......................................................................... 87 Designing a Search Engine Friendly Site................................................................... 88 Text-Based Content............................................................................................... 89 Text Links and Buttons ......................................................................................... 89

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Valid HTML ......................................................................................................... 90 Simple Page Layout .............................................................................................. 90 Fresh Content........................................................................................................ 90 Keyword Prominence............................................................................................ 90 Doorway Pages ..................................................................................................... 91 Spamming Keywords ............................................................................................ 91 Meta Tags ............................................................................................................. 91 Keywords.................................................................................................................. 91 Links......................................................................................................................... 92 Popularity ................................................................................................................. 92 Website Promotion ....................................................................................................... 93 Paid Per Click Advertising (PPC).............................................................................. 94 Research PPC Keywords....................................................................................... 96 Writing an Effective Description in a PPC Ad....................................................... 97 Pay-Per-Click and Google Adwords...................................................................... 97 Banner Ads ............................................................................................................... 98 Internet Directory Advertising................................................................................... 99 Affiliate Programs..................................................................................................... 99 Paid Affiliate Program Services........................................................................... 100 Building an In-House Affiliate Program.............................................................. 101 Shopping Engines ................................................................................................... 102 Froogle................................................................................................................ 102 Yahoo Shopping.................................................................................................. 103 BizRate/Shopzilla................................................................................................ 103 Paid Search Inclusion.............................................................................................. 104 Section Summary........................................................................................................ 105 Conclusion.................................................................................................................. 106 Executing a Sparkplugging Strategy............................................................................ 107 The Branding Phase of Sparkplugging .................................................................... 107 The Promotion Phase of Sparkplugging .................................................................. 108 The Internet Marketing Phase of Sparkplugging...................................................... 108 Glossary ..................................................................................................................... 110 Bibliography............................................................................................................... 112

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List of Figures
Figure 1.1: Brands more than a Product or Service.......................................................... 5 Figure 1.2: Order of Entry and Relative Market Share................................................... 14 Figure 2.1: Crest WhiteStrips Advertisement. ............................................................... 48 Figure 2.2: Volvo Safety Advertisement. ...................................................................... 53 Figure 2.3: “The Volvo ReVolvolution”........................................................................ 54 Figure 2.4: Nissan Toys Advertisement......................................................................... 57 Figure 2.5: Animal Advertising and the Result.............................................................. 59 Figure 3.1: Advertising and User Involvement. ............................................................. 72 Figure 3.2: Search Engine Results................................................................................. 84 Figure 3.3: Yahoo! Sponsored Search. .......................................................................... 95 Figure 3.4: Samples of Adwords in Google Search........................................................ 98

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Abstract
Sparkplugging is a process of developing and jumpstarting brands that stand out and out perform the competition. It builds focused brands and promotes these brands in ways that minimize the common costs associated with marketing. Sparkplugging draws many parallels between small and large businesses because marketers can learn from the large marketing budget mistakes of many Fortune 500 companies. Although, Sparkplugging strategy is designed for small and medium businesses, large organizations can also benefit by using a Sparkplugging strategy when launching new and emerging brands. For those looking to advertise, like Microsoft, Starbucks, and Subway, Sparkplugging will demonstrate that advertising is not the marketing activity that made these companies successful. The Sparkplugging process begins with branding, and then it takes marketers on a journey that endows brands with personality, identity, and a brand experience. In addition to the internal development a brand, Sparkplugging addresses brand development in the external environment by giving marketers strategies for positioning brands that will lead their category. After marketers Sparkplug their core brand, Sparkplugging offers the marketers a revolutionary approach to promoting their brands by using public relations and Internet marketing as alternatives to classical advertising.

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Introduction
“Operational effectiveness means you’re running the same race faster. But strategy is choosing to run a different race because it’s the one you’ve set yourself up to win.” - Michael Porter Sparkplugging is a method for jumpstarting businesses and brands in modern, over-proliferated markets. Addressing key attributes commonly missed or confused by many businesses and marketers today, Sparkplugging by design is used to get a brand started or back on track quickly. However, is not a quick fix, nor is it intended to be a quick solution. Instead, Sparkplugging is a practice, a set of marketing strategy resources, a mantra, that is not a silver-bullet solution for all businesses and brands. It is designed to help new and emerging brands with fixed budgets and often fits businesses and brands that are looking to fight complacency and to gain upon competition without always following the common laws of marketing strategy. Although this thesis is about a marketing strategy for new and emerging brands running on fixed budgets, Sparkplugging can be read from front to back; however, reading in such a manner is not its functional intent. Instead, the intent of this thesis is to provide reference to those looking to build and develop, reinvent, or change their businesses or brands. This process is typically not linear; therefore, reading this thesis front to back may not be as beneficial as the reference it can provide when building brands. Sparkplugging was designed after the realization that several organizations operating on fixed marketing budgets suffer from marketing strategy. This problem is often apparent in promotional activities performed by small businesses. The unfortunate truth about marketing is that poor marketing, in general, often spreads from the internal staff to the outside world. Businesses looking to adapt a Sparkplugging strategy should

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focus on three core areas when developing their strategy and related marketing activities for their businesses: Branding, brand promotion using advertising and public relations, and Internet marketing to jumpstart marketing. Although branding has been around for thousands of years, marketers and business people frequently misunderstand it. Today, the understanding of branding for marketing success is a must. Because of over proliferation across common marketing channels, marketers have increasingly less time to get their messages into the minds of the consumers. This over-proliferation of communication channels also reduces the probability that a prospect may retain that message because of this over-proliferation of mass advertising; a brand with laser-like focus is a must. The second section of Sparkplugging covers brand promotion using advertising and public relations. A commonplace myth in the marketing community is that advertising dollars do not work as they once did and that the results from marketing campaigns sometimes even have adverse effects on an organization or its brands. Sparkplugging covers the issue of low marketing budgets and shows alternatives to common media channels for jumpstarting a brand. Lastly, the final section covered in Sparkplugging covers Internet Marketing, and how businesses and brands can use this new medium to jumpstart their marketing strategy, while on a fixed budget. Sparkplugging offers focused direction regarding Internet marketing by offering tips on design, search engine optimization, and web promotion. This chapter stresses how essential understanding and using the Internet for competitive advantage is for a business’s survival and growth.

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Those looking to adopt a Sparkplugging marketing strategy should find that a sound marketing strategy often works worldwide and requires little change from geographic area to geographic area. Although certain geographic areas might use different products, the message or space targeted in the consumer’s mind often remains the same. Time and time again, excuses for lack of sales or effort, like “this is a different market,” and “this city needs its own identity,” are wrong: ninety-nine percent of successful marketing strategies work everywhere. Sparkplugging offers the understanding of how a good marketing strategy ultimately shakes the halls in each department in the building and the ground of the competition and creates awareness in the marketplace, eventually building a strategic harmony around the brand.

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Chapter 1: Branding
“Branding: It’s about meaning, not marketing … about deep company logic, not fancy new logos.”1 – Tom Peters Branding is probably the most essential ingredient in formulating a Sparkplugging marketing strategy. Brands influence nearly every buying decision because they create a space in the mind where the consumer can identify with an organization’s products or services. In Sparkplugging, branding is the most important phase. A common phrase in today’s culture is “brand new.” Many consumers even use the following terms to describe used products: “The car is so clean it’s almost brand new,” or, “I just bought a brand new 1985 Chevy Camaro.” Businesses now more than ever need to establish a brand identity or meaning in the mind of the consumer. As the market continues to be flooded with advertisements businesses cannot afford to lack focus when branding the organization. When the brand fails to create understanding or make a spark with the customer, the customer cannot identify with the brand and goes elsewhere. Today, it seems that organizations fail to understand the overall scope of what is changing in the market and sometimes what is going on inside their own organizations. Employees are becoming more and more disconnected because it appears top executives are confused and lacking direction. Direction from corporate leadership must be managed and distilled in all communication to and from the organization. When organizations fail to create clear, focused, and consistent communication regarding their brands, employees

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Tom Peters, 2003, Re-imagine! (London: Dorling Kindersley Publishing), p. 158.

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and prospects alike become confused and the organizations lose brand strength in the minds of consumers. This unclear vision of marketing brand strategy by marketers is often a result of poor strategic planning by executives. Such practice results in conflicting agendas and poor communication throughout the organization. When members of many executive staffs plan strategy, most of the strategy is based on lengthy descriptions of industry competition, personal interests, how to get a little extra market share here and there, or how to cut costs on current operations. Marketing strategy must be shared and understood throughout the organization by everyone from the janitor to the CEO. Each employee must embrace and understand the identity of the organization. If the employees cannot understand what a brand stands for, odds are prospective clients will not either. Brand strategies, like many marketing strategies, end up as plans that are seldom different from past failures and usually include a long list of goals and initiatives, with a full budget, fancy graphs, and lengthy and unclear, spreadsheets. Many times, organizations fail to understand and communicate with prospective clients what the brand actually offers or why it exists. Many failed brand strategies appear to rely on previous unsuccessful communication filled with jargon and unclear communication about the brand’s identity, this jargon is normally found in much of their media advertising. Organizations must strive to create an association or difference in the mind of the prospective client about what their brands really are and what they offer. Brands today need to find their point of difference and focus on that difference in all communications. When building brands, organizations must understand that no brand can truly be more than one thing in the mind of the consumer. A brand should be focused. Many brands that

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attempt to be everything to everyone become nothing to anyone.2 Those brands that try to be everything to everyone seldom lead their categories or succeed in the marketplace. Business professionals must clearly understand that, from a business perspective, a branding program, by design, should differentiate a product or service from that of the competition. Branding is not a logo, nor is it the product’s name. Branding ultimately is what the mind associates with a product or service. It takes time, research, and patience. Brands are not built to mass market a product nor to create a conglomerate of lineextended brands. Instead, they are built to associate a desired thought in the minds of the clients or prospects when they see or hear of the brand. Brand Experience Branding is the difference between selling a Rolex watch and a Timex. For example, is the Rolex of better quality? Maybe. Does it keep time better than a Timex? Probably not. Do most businesses focus branding campaigns on quality? Yes, but they should avoid focusing campaigns on quality alone. Quality does not sell products nor build brands. Quality is an expectation, yet so many organizations focus on branding efforts offering the selling proposition of better quality or better customer service.3 Many businesses look at such practices in marketing and become confused about the place for quality in marketing. It is important for marketers to create perceived quality because consumers buy what they perceive is best; however, quality should still remain an internal focus, otherwise, employees may think and start to communicate that the firm does not care about quality. Organizations should
Alan Deutchman, October 2004, “The Gonzo Way of Branding,” Fast Company, p. 93. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 3 Al Ries and Laura Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build Protect or Service into a World - Class Brand (New York, NY: HarperCollins.), p. 34.
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create a brand that makes the customer feel the value in the product or service, like a Rolex watch priced at $10,000.00 versus Timex, its competitor in time-keeping. With the Rolex, marketers make customers feel better about their timepieces. Rolex has a strong position, or spark, which is the connection made with the customer. Remember that Rolex does not sell watches: Rolex sells the experience of their brand. Simply speaking, Rolex sells more than a watch. Rolex sells the experience of being able to afford one of their watches.4 Many brands today still speak of customer service or product quality, yet few are successful in doing so.5 Brands have evolved from a want or need fulfillment to a lifestyle or experience perceived in the mind. Successful branded companies today understand there is much more for sale than what is on the surface. In today’s competitive marketplace, quality and customer service are expectations, not tiebreakers.6 Brands, such as Starbucks, offer the customer an experience. Obviously, the experience offered by Starbucks is worth more than what a quasi competitor, such as Maxwell House, can offer, and the experience is much more profitable. Brand experiences allow an organization to live with their customers, and they allow organizations to understand more about why their customers buy their products. Living with the customer allows organizations to understand how their customers use the organization’s product or service. Most brands that create memorable experiences attach many “soft attributes,” like comfort, warmth,

Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 37. Peters, p.113. 6 Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin, 2000, Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition (New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.), p. 28.
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trust, and luxury, to a product or service.7 For example, Figure 1.1 shows tangible versus what consumers are actually investing in when they choose a brand.
Company Harley Davidson Club Med Starbucks Guinness McDonalds Apple BMW Rolex Product Motorcycle Resort Coffee Beer Food Computers Cars Watch Value Proposition The ability for a professional to dress up in leather and drive through small towns making loud noise. Ability to discover or reinvent oneself. A place that is not work or home. A place for refuge. Bringing people together and telling stories. A place to get food and leave quickly. Ability to challenge modern thinking, change the world. Drive fast and be in control. Appear rich; impress those that do not know you. Experience Rebel Lifestyle Rebirth Refuge Community Fast Creativity Ultimate Driving Ultimate Luxury

Figure 1.1: Brands more than a Product or Service. SOURCE: Peters, p. 116. Benefits to Brands Building differentiated brands in today’s over-crowded market that floods consumers with thousands of disruptive messages daily is critical for non-commodity market survival. Brand names influence consumers’ behaviors either logically or illogically, for those consumers buy the same products almost all of the time based on brand awareness, even if the product is of inferior quality. In a study conducted by Wayne D. Hoyer and Steven P. Brown, respondents tasted three different brands of peanut butter. The leading brand with the highest awareness that consumers choose in the supermarket 73 percent of the time was selected inferior 70 percent of the time in blind testing.8 In the mind of the consumers, the winning brand had superior perceived quality; therefore, it won in sales. However, the superior quality product does not always win. It is the product with the superior quality perception that wins in the market. The perception of quality, service, and any other attribute of a brand equate to a brand’s equity.

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Peters, p. 114. David A. Aaker, 1996, Building Strong Brands (New York, NY: The Free Press.), p. 11.

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Brand Equity According to David Aaker, brands typically have four major equity builders relating to a product or service in the mind of prospective or current clients: 1. 2. 3. 4. Brand Awareness Brand Loyalty Perceived Quality Brand Associations9

Brand Awareness and Brand Presence Brand awareness refers to the strength of a brand by the ability for a consumer to recall the brand name as stored in the prospect’s mind; conversely, brand presence stresses a higher level of awareness when the consumer has familiarity of a brand’s promise.10 Consumers’ minds today are filled daily with thousands of marketing messages, and brand awareness relates to how well a message is recalled and how much of the prospect’s mind is filled with that brand’s message. Not all branding messages are mass-market messages, nor should they be. Branding messages should be narrowly focused, thereby, allowing marketers to spark brand category recognition. Such focus leads to a branding advantage enhancing brand presence in the mind of the consumer.11 To create awareness and enforce brand presence, a focused niche message should target only specific groups and sectors of consumers. The first brand to come to mind when relating to a specific category of product or service is considered “top of mind” awareness.12 Top of mind awareness is the ideal position for a brand because the first to

Aaker, p. 8. Nigell Hollis, Fall 2005, “Branding Unmasked,” Marketing Research, Vol. 17 (3), p. 26. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 11 Hollis, p. 26. 12 Aaker, p. 10.
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mind is typically the first to sale; however, first to mind does not mean the only brand to sale. Brand recognition is an inferior but similar form of brand awareness that takes place in the minds of consumers. If a brand is not top of mind, consumers may still recognize the brand. Psychology has proven, that, at a minimum, the consumer will often feel more positive toward a brand if they have awareness of it because they commonly feel like they somehow have a connection with the brand.13 This type of brand recognition holds true for movies, music, products, services, similar terms, and similar products that develop into positioning and category questions in developing a brand strategy later. It is critical for organizations to understand that if a brand is not the first to mind, positive thoughts still typically occur through awareness alone; however, awareness and presence alone may not necessarily lead to a product’s sale unless the perception of the brand is that of a category leader or of perceived higher quality.14 Brand awareness and presence are triggered by thoughts or relationships that occur in the mind of consumers. Consumers typically produce positive feelings of recognized brands because the general perception by consumers is that most businesses will not spend money soliciting inferior products or services. A perception of superiority of products or services typically occurs in the mind of the consumer and is often much more than an attribute of superiority alone. Perception of superiority is more of an experience produced by the brand’s overall design, perceived quality, or leadership.15 When design is consistent and clear to consumers, they comprehend messages about a

Aaker, p.10. Aaker, p.10. 15 Al Ries and Laura Ries, 2004, The Origin Of Brands: How Product Evolution Creates Endless Possibilities for New Brands (New York, NY: HarperCollins.), p. 255.
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brand quickly. They will also typically perceive feelings of brand association just by the brand’s design.16 Clear design and consistency are ultimately important for retention purposes in brand strategy. Consumers who experience advertising often perceive any recalled marketing communication as good, even if they have little trust in advertisements.17 Brand Identity A brand’s identity, which is similar to the identity of an individual, serves the purpose of direction and giving meaning to the organization, product, or service. Brand identity also creates associations in the minds of consumers. The purpose for creating strong brand identity is to establish new relationships between prospects and brands by focusing on functional, emotional, and self-expressive benefits to which the consumer can relate. Brand identity typically follows a structure of a core identity that is a timeless essence created by the brand’s values and extends its identity and dynamically adapts to elements like texture, traits, categories, and completeness.18 Furthermore, a brand should stay focused, keeping its core purpose in mind; this core purpose should never change to aid in avoiding many brand identity traps.19 Brand Identity Traps Businesses commonly fall into one of four major traps when attempting to reinvent or create new brand identities. The four common traps are: • • The Brand Image Trap The Brand Position Trap
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Bryan LiBrandi, July/August 2005, “Use Creative Design to Build Brand Equity,” ABA Bank Marketing Vol. 37 Issue 6, p. 4. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 17 Aaker, p.11. 18 Aaker, p. 69. 19 Marty Neumeier, 2007, Zag: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands (Berkeley, CA: New Riders), p. 53.

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• •

Product Attribute Trap External Perspective Trap20

The Brand Image Trap The brand image trap is one of a consumer’s perceptions. This type of branding trap typically does not occur with an obviously troubled brand but with one that may be sustaining its growth. The core issue with the brand image trap is that it allows a prospect’s perception to dictate the identity of the brand.21 The brand identity trap typically occurs with established brands that are looking to grow and extend or to lose their category specific focus by converging or line extending.22 For example, many small organizations pitch the common communication blunder “for all your needs.” The problem with such a pitch is first that consumers and business do not buy what they need; instead, consumers typically buy what they want. If consumers purchased what they needed, Apple iPod’s would be rare.23 The second problem with such communication is that it allows the consumer to create whatever identity for that need as their perception of the brand. If a business were in the information technology services industry and offered a portfolio of services, such as printer repair, pc repair, cabling, computer networking, and phone system integration, and communicated “for all your technology needs,” the first question the consumer may ask is, “do I need, and, if so, what are all my technology needs? I just want to get my printer repaired.” Communication using the statement “for all your needs” is too ambiguous and allows the prospect to dictate what the organization does or offers. In this case, the consumer would probably tell others, “They repair

Aaker, p. 70. Aaker, p. 70. 22 Ries and Ries, 2004, The Origin of Brands, p.175. 23 Seth Godin, 2005, All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a LowTrust World. (New York, NY: Portfolio Hardcover), p. 7.
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printers,” because that was his or her need. Ultimately, such ambiguous communication from a firm allows consumers to dictate what the brand is and how others perceive it. The Brand Position Trap The second common trap businesses fall into when building a brand identity is brand positioning. Brand position traps often occur when the search for identity becomes only attempts to find a position relative to their competitors. The common symptom of businesses falling into the brand-positioning trap is found when the organization, instead of defining its identity, focuses on an advertising tag line that does not contain enough depth and character to create a brand identity.24 AVIS, for example, is number two in rent-a-cars; therefore, they claim they must “try harder,” although this AVIS campaign is a great positioning slogan that gave AVIS a way to carve some space into the mind of prospects.25 Brand positions not only have to speak of what a brand is, but also a position can also be defined by telling consumers what a brand is not. Although AVIS has achieved moderate success with this campaign, it may also communicate to some consumers a failed strategy or inferior product/service to the category leader. Consumers who identify in such a manner may ask themselves, “If they are number two, who is number one?” or “Who is it that is better since they do not lead their category? Let’s try them.” External Perspective Trap The external perspective trap occurs when organizations overlook the role of brand identity and substitute other attributes in searching for the basic brand values and purposes. The problem with overlooking core values and purposes in brand identity
Aaker, p. 71. Al Ries, and Laura Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR (New York, NY: HarperCollins.), p. 104.
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creation is the possibility for employees to adapt brand communication as they see fit. This trap often occurs when employees lack understanding of what the firm stands for and why it exists. When this trap occurs, it confuses employees and consumers alike, and they may start thinking the organization is only about increasing sales because of corporate greed.26 Product Attribute Trap This final trap is the product-attribute fixation trap, which occurs when the brand fails to differentiate between a product’s attributes. Attribute reasoning typically is based in part on the assumption that product attributes are the only relevant basis for purchasing decisions and are the true differentiators in competitive dynamics. Such beliefs often lead to less than optimal brand strategies and even to branding failures. This trap is also often a result of corporate brand research that focuses on product attributes; therefore, the research tells the marketers what they set out to prove. When research is conducted, it often must be quantified. Research typically finds attributes it can quantify when results are quantified because decisions are based on tangible logic. Research is often popular because of its simplicity and the ability to offer logical decisions; however, research also creates the following brand identity issues: • • • • Failure to differentiate. Easily duplicated. Assumption that the prospect thinks logically. Encourages line extension, by balancing brand equity.27

All issues listed simply create major issues with strategic flexibility and fail to spark the space in the mind the brand owns. When the branding follows product attributes, it limits the organization’s ability to offer new products because of the recognition of the
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Aaker, p. 72. Aaker, p. 75.

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brand based on their former research of product attributes. Such failure also inhibits the organization’s ability to offer any statements of leadership, which, in advertising, allows the messages to become lost in the clutter of advertising hyper-disruption. Line Extension Often organizations will create brand extensions based on existing successful brands; this process is called line extension. Line extension typically occurs when a firm attempts to save money by developing a new brand using the power of the existing brand name. Ultimately, line extension typically costs organizations more money in the long run because they lose focus on the brand’s identity.28 Line-extension is one of the worst decisions marketers can make when launching a brand. Line-extended brands almost never own categories or overthrow incumbents because line-extended brands are unfocused. As the brand extends the meaning, the brand means less in the consumer’s mind. Imagine a well-known dentist who decides he or she knows enough about the oral regions of the head, so he or she may as well practice brain surgery, too. Like the medical field, the mind can only relate so many things to a brand, and consumers buy from focused specialists, not generalists.

The Category
In developing a brand, it is critical for marketers to understand how the consumer’s mind works as they categorize brands and products. In general, consumers segment products into categories that they create in their minds in order to sort and understand similarities and dissimilarities between brands and their physical and

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Ries and Ries, 2004, The Origin of Brands, p. 221.

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emotional attributes. This activity essentially allows consumers to save time in understanding what a brand is or does.29 Empirical research shows that brands that are first in their category are typically those that hold the largest amount of market share because consumers build their definition of that category around that brand. When build their perceptions in this manner, the leading brand sets the rules of the category, and smart marketers can use this leadership advantage to increase barriers for competition. Interestingly, as competitors enter a category, they typically allocate shares in order of entry. For example, the fourth competitor in a given category will have the fourth most market share and the second brand in the category will hold the second most market share.30 Figure 1.2 shows a graph representing order of entry relative to market share with the first in the category, relative to itself.

Piyush Kumar, July 2005, The Impact of Cobranding on Customer Evaluation of Brand Counterextensions, “Journal of Marketing” Vol. 69, Issue 3, p. 2. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 30 Alice Tybout and Tim Calkins, 2005, Kellogg on Branding: The Marketing Faculty of The Kellogg School of Management (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), p. 74.

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Figure 1.2: Order of Entry and Relative Market Share. SOURCE: Alice Tybout and Tim Calkins, 2005, Kellogg on Branding: The Marketing Faculty of The Kellogg School of Management (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), p. 75. Although the sixth entrant to a category obtains a fair amount of market share, just below fifty-percent, the creator of the category retains much size advantage through market share, making it almost untouchable.31 Brand leaders typically outsell and outlast number two brands by a large margin.32 Brand leaders also have the option later to create their own competition in a category by using a multi-brand strategy.33 Owning and leading a category is the ultimate position and the most powerful differentiator for a brand; however, organizations that historically attempt to broaden appeal to capture additional market using line extension find their market-share diminish.34 For example, the CEO of McDonald’s claimed, “If we served beer and wine we might eventually have 100 percent of the food-service market.”35 However, when categories expand, they weaken, but when brands focus or specialize, they strengthen.
Tybout and Calkins, p. 75. Al Ries, and Jack Trout, 2001, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind (New York, NY: McGraw Hill.), p. 43. 33 Ries and Trout, p. 49. 34 Trout and Rivkin, p. 107. 35 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 56.
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For example, when McDonald’s attempted to launch “high-class fast food,” they lost considerably with the Arch Deluxe sandwich because what their brand represented in the category and in the consumer’s minds. Consumers rejected the new position because it conflicted with their existing association with the McDonald’s brand.36 Category leaders must be careful and tolerate and welcome competitors into their category. The best thing that happened to Coca-Cola was Pepsi-Cola because of the resultant public relations from their battles over the use of the “Cola,” name. These wars allowed Coca-Cola to gain mindshare from Pepsi using “Cola” which was already associated with Coke and in turn, allowed Coke to position themselves in the category they already owned as “The Real Thing.” Choice induces demand because it increases category noise levels, which increases publicity and result is increased sales in the category.37 Typically, it is wise for category leaders to promote their category even over their own brand because if they are perceived as the leader of the category, their name already means the brand in the prospect’s mind. In this case, consumers became more aware of Coke and Pepsi cola products than ever, and this recognition led to increased awareness of the cola category and increased overall cola consumption.38 Unfortunately in this case, because Coca-Cola’s slow response to category promotion and support for the cola wars, Coke’s market share lead over Pepsi diminished from 37% to 10%.39 Oftentimes, the issues that arise with category competition are because competition threatens a company’s business, reduces profits, and evens the field. Many organizations do not want a fair playing field or a fair market price; however, consumers
Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 56. Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 57. 38 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 5. 39 Mark Hughes, 2005, Buzzmarketing: get people to talk about your stuff (New York, NY: Portfolio), p.165.
37 36

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do and are aware that they benefit from such situations. Businesses cannot own an entire market unless it is a government-sanctioned monopoly; therefore, they must get used to category competition as a result. Often, when competition enters a category, the incumbent stands to win because the category is validated in the consumer’s mind as another company enters. Category expansion typically decreases the consumer’s doubt because the consumer now has a point of reference to pricing and product attributes, ultimately this allows the consumer to make an active choice. Incumbents should embrace competition and adjust their brand’s promotion to that of leadership because consumers typically purchase the category leader. Consumers often believe higher quality products will win in a competitive market; therefore brands can begin to communicate their perceived quality with such tactics. When category competition arrives, the rule is to own the category, be first to mind and promote leadership, and welcome the competition and market-share. Being first in a category causes sparking between the brand and the prospect. Leadership is not caused by attributes but perceptions of the brand in the consumer’s mind.40 Defining the Brand Category Categories give business the ability to define who, what, and where they are relative to competition. Categories can be used to position a brand relative to their competition. Categories enable brands to communicate what they are by showing by what they are not. Organizations like Dell, Tesco, and Toyota have successfully taken a common, non-differentiated product and grown their brands into corporate superpowers

40

Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 57.

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by defining their categories with better focus than their competition.41 Categories give organizations purpose and focus. A category gives a brand the ability to claim dominance based on its strategic selection. Using the size of an existing category as the basis for judgment to entry, using the size of an existing market, or selecting from historical performance and empirical data are poor marketing practices. Most often, the most provocative categories are those that may seem the most risky, and those that are not yet in existence.42 For example, the following new market categories and their respective leaders have emerged over the past few decades by creating new markets for those willing to focus and bet everything on the unknown: • • • • • • • • • The market for expensive vodka before Stolichnaya. The market for expensive cars before Mercedes-Benz. The market for home delivery pizza before Domino’s. The market for inline skates before Rollerblade. The market for online auctions before E-bay. The market for free online e-mail before Hotmail. The market for legal audio downloading before i-Tunes. The market for safe cars before Volvo. The market for the personal computer before Apple.43

Even after several years, organizations that were willing to create the market are still the market leaders, with some exceptions, such as Apple in personal computers. Regarding these exceptions, the organizations’ strategies were not the process of taking bigger share of an existing market; instead, it was taking all the share of a new undefined market. Sometimes business are created by accident, such as in the case of E-bay, which

Alan Mitchell, August 2005, “Differentiate all you want, but I’d back the basics every time,” Marketing Week (UK) Vol. 28 Issue 32, p. 28. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 42 Ries and Ries, 2004, The Origin of Brands, p. 248. 43 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 39.

41

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was originally built so that founder Pierre Omidyar’s girlfriend could support her PEZ candy container-collecting hobby on the Internet. For the most part, consumers do not really pay attention to new brands: they pay attention to new categories. When a brand is the first in the category, not only does it lead the category, but also it has the ability to write the rules and create the barriers to entry for would-be competitors.44 Categories do not need to be a complex innovation, just simple changes to the way business is already conducted. For example, • • • • Callaway created oversized golf drivers. Domino’s delivered pizza to the home in 30 minutes. Little Caesars limited staff and expense reducing cost for pizza pickup. Boston Market focused on rotisserie chicken.45

None of the organizations listed created new products; instead, they created new categories by narrowing their focus and changing an existing product. When organizations focus and become the specialist in a given category, big things happen. For instance, Starbucks focuses all their efforts on coffee and has the sales to prove it. In 2004, Starbucks had net sales of $508 million, and is predicted to continue growing for the next three years at a rate of 20-25 percent.46 Starbucks is one of the organizations that have created a spark between themselves and their prospects. Starbucks has created spark by dividing and focusing on the coffee category. Using a spark-like focus, Starbucks has even differentiated their brand from close competitors like Caribou.

Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 40. Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 39. 46 Forbes.com Inc., 2005, Starbucks Set For 20-25% EPS Growth Over Next 3 Years [Internet, WWW, Computer progam], Available: Forbes.com, 90 5th Avenue, New York, NY, 10011; ADDRESS: http://www.forbes.com/markets/economy/2005/09/01/starbucks-earnings-coffee-0901markets16.html [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
45

44

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Positioning
Positioning is the process of establishing and creating a space for a brand in the mind of the consumer. A few examples of category ownership obtained by positioning strategies are Coca-Cola with Cola, Xerox with copiers, Dell with PCs, and 7UP with uncola. Successful positioning strategies like those listed have built these businesses into category leaders. Positioning strategies create everything from new categories to new ways to reference old and dry businesses. Because category leadership is the strongest position possible when branding, organizations should always be searching for a category of their own in which they can take the leadership position. Creating or developing a new category is the easiest way to dominate a position. Winning positions are not always a possibility in existing markets and creating a new category is not always a possibility; therefore, describing what a brand is not is sometimes the best move. For example, 7UP understood they needed a new position because they were in the soft-drink category competing with colas for years, and were only minimally successful until they found a unique position relative to their competition: 7UP became the “uncola.” Uncola successfully differentiates 7UP from competitors and by doing so plants them in the uncola leadership position in the mind of consumers. Commonly, the simplest way to move a position into an existing category is to communicate to the consumer what the brand is not. In this case, 7UP was successful when communicating it was not cola. To position a brand, product, or service, organizations must find a niche and exploit any and all of their differences in order to create a new category or to position themselves relative to other leaders in that category. A brand position should also

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articulate the benefit the customer will obtain by using a brand and how using the brand is the superior choice in achieving this goal.47 It is possible to obtain a winning position in existing categories. For example, a company that has successfully created a relative position without developing a new category is Avis. Avis rent-a-car found a winning position by relatively positioning itself against the category leader Hertz with the slogan “Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder.” Positioning started mostly in advertising where in an overcrowded society a unique position in the mind helps brand recognition dramatically. Positioning, first used in advertising, typically consisted of advertising agencies or marketing professionals attempting to describe where they fit relative to any type of competition. Early positioning statements directly addressed slogans like

• “Seven-Up: the uncola.” - 7UP • “Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder.” Avis • “Tastes great, less filling.” – Miller Positioning Essentials Positioning, essentially a statement of what the product is to achieve in the mind, should entice the consumer to take action. Positioning can take place in a few ways. First, positioning builds off a frame of reference, second by creating a point of difference or differentiation, and third by sustaining a unique position in the mind of consumers. The strategies involved in completing positioning tasks include laddering, leveraging, and changing positions.

47

Tybout and Calkins, p. 11.

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Frame of Reference Brands can establish a frame of reference by claiming membership to a new or existing product category.48 Many businesses use frames of reference because framing is a simple way of educating the consumer what it is the brand offers or how it shall perform. For example, Subway positioned its brand as a healthy fast-food restaurant, allowing Subway to signal to consumers that it is quick like Mc Donald’s, but the strategy also allows Subway to later create later a point of difference in that referenced category by offering healthier fast food.49 Point of Difference Point of difference uses references to the frame created by the position created in the mind and is used to indicate how the brand is superior for a functional attribute or for emotional reasoning.50 Differentiation, another name for point of difference, ultimately is used to set a brand apart from competitors either by direct comparison or with a unique selling proposition. Differentiation results in sparking between the prospect and the brand, which is the goal of a Sparkplugging strategy. Functional Benefits Functional benefits are used in creating a point of difference from the framing that takes place in the consumer’s mind. This tactic typically uses product or service attributes. For example, in 2005, Gillette introduced the M3Power razor, which was the only battery powered wet shaver on the market. The claim from this introduction is that the client received a closer shave than from the competitor, Schick Quattro the four-blade

48 49

Tybout and Calkins, p. 14. Tybout and Calkins, p. 14. 50 Tybout and Calkins, p. 18.

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response to Gillette’s Mach 3 razor.51 Recently, Schick fired back at Gillette with the Schick Quattro Power, a “me-too” response to Gillette, the category creator and leader in powered disposable razors. Emotional Benefits Differentiation via functional benefits is typically attractive to marketers because of its ease of communication. Emotional benefits, however, attempt to create an emotional benefit or tie to using the brand. McDonald’s has differentiated successfully using emotional benefits by promoting “good-tasting” consistent fast food and cleanliness. The idea behind promoting these emotional attributes is to communicate the fun of McDonald’s.52 Others, such as Chanel’s make up for women, have used the same emotional branding techniques by positioning the classic luxury and acceptance of the “upper-class” when using their “superior” product. Sustaining the Brand Position A brand achieves the ultimate goal in positioning by achieving the leadership position in a category; however, the work is still not completed. After a brand achieves recognition as a category leader, it must continue to promote this attribute whenever possible to keep the barriers to entry in their space protected in their behalf. In recent years many category leaders have shied away from this activity. Now people assume that if a product or service is the category leader, it must be the best because everyone else is using it. The true test for a sustaining leadership position is to remove the leading brand from the selection of choice in a given environment. If the consumer leaves in search of
51 52

Tybout and Calkins, p. 18. Tybout and Calkins, p. 19.

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the brand for they are looking, then instead of purchasing a competitor, the brand has category leadership and loyalty. The strategy for category leaders is to remain consistent and to raise the barriers of entry in their category by using defense tactics like advertising and promotion of their leadership. Sparkplugging uses advertising of leadership as a brand’s defense mechanism. Positioning Strategies Positioning experts often talk of “laddering,” which is a very simple concept once the basic idea is explained. Each rung on a ladder is a place for the position the business ranks in terms of sales in the category. Positioning strategy concepts include movement on rungs of a single ladder and the creation of relative positions to other ladders or categories.53 Laddering diagrams help organizations to understand where they fit relative to their competition, and to visualize basic strategic marketing communication of where they are, and to understand what they are not. The Anti-Position The anti-position is typically held for those businesses that are not in a leadership position in their category. For example, a well-known anti-position used by Avis rental cars is “Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder.” Antipositioning campaigns have worked extremely well for Avis although prior to their positioning strategy, Avis had 13 years of losses. This positioning helped Avis define what they are to the consumer while clearly stating what they are not. The first year the campaign ran Avis turned a profit. Avis sales continued to rise until later purchased by

53

Ries and Trout, p. 32.

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ITT. After the purchase, the strategy changed as they attempted to become number one and failed.54 The “Not” Position Seven Up created a classic successful positioning strategy that simply explained why their brand was not relative to other brands in similar categories. It selected to differentiate with the term “uncola,” which earned 7UP a “not” position for the 7UP brand because they were able to position 7UP in a new category relative the their competitors by saying not what they were in the category of colas but by saying what they were not. This strategy allowed 7UP to own the position in the category of non-cola soft drinks in the mind of consumers to come first to mind whenever a consumer did not want a cola because they were the uncola. The strategy was really no more than stating what they were not; however, brand-positioning strategies tend to have the highest success when they clearly and simply define what the brands are not instead of attempting to explain what they are.55 The How We Got Here Trap Sometimes it seems that after a brand achieves even the slightest success, management and marketing forgets what made the brand successful in the first place. Many organizations fall victim to such thinking or repositioning as brand egos grow. For example, Avis fell victim shortly after they were purchased by ITT. When ITT looked at the recent successes of Avis’s legendary positioning campaign that positioned them relative to the leader Hertz, the new executives decided Avis in the number two position was unacceptable and set out to be number one. Unfortunately, Avis’ new ownership

54 55

Ries and Trout, p. 33. Ries and Trout, p. 34.

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forgot why their strategy had worked in the first place, and the repositioning failed. Another reason for the failure was that Hertz felt that Avis was not a threat when its statement focused on the No. 2 position, so Hertz left the second place company alone. When Avis executives went after the number one spot, they awakened Hertz, which already owned the mind for being number one, and Hertz quickly defended. The result is that Avis is still number two in the rent-a-car business.56

Brand Names
Would a restaurant named Gutter sell as well as a restaurant named Subway? Obviously not, and the worst part, the sales probably be based on name alone.57 People and organizations alike depend on names to identify who and what they intend to become. In business, a brand, product, company, or service’s name is one of the most difficult and important decisions executives must make. In time, brands are literally no more than a name identity in the mind of consumers; therefore, the name must stand for something worth remembering.58 In naming a brand, product, or service, marketers must find a name or word that should be open for ownership in the mind of consumers.59 Consumers often forget general names that already represent something in their minds. Organizations need to define their category and position with the name they select. For example, Kleenex owns tissue for a few reasons. First, Kleenex was the first brand name in a new category of disposable tissue. This category creation gave Kleenex an advantage of first to come to mind awareness and with the strong brand relationships

56 57

Ries and Trout, p. 35. Ries and Trout, p. 71. 58 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 44. 59 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 44.

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they created between the Kleenex name, and the new category, Kleenex owned the word and the category in the minds of the consumers; the positioning was organic because they created the category. This strategy quickly informed the consumer of the new category and leadership position, and shortly thereafter, consumers began calling the category by the leading company’s name. Pass the Kleenex or pass the disposable tissue? Company Names Selecting the best possible company name is important for the success of an organization. Commonly, organizations fall into two traps when creating the corporate name: the egomaniac name trap and the generic category name trap. Company names, like brand names, are critical for business success. For example, when citizens enter polls to vote, many select on name recognition alone. This selection process is truly no different than when a consumer selects an organization.60 The critical task of selecting the perfect name often fails because businesses try too hard and often end up choosing jargon-based names that confuse instead of those that create perceptions in the mind of prospects. Egomaniac Naming Trap When organizations look for names, often they begin searching for ways to make them look and feel superior. This naming trap typically occurs because of a lack of creativity or a feeling that quality or leadership is somehow expressed through words like “professional, quality, superior, or international.” The problem with these egocentric names is that they are hardly believed by consumers and tend to blend in because of wide

Harry Beckwith, 2000, The Invisible Touch: The four keys to modern marketing (New York, NY: Warner Books.), p. 113.

60

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spread usage. Many of the names found in corporate bankruptcy notices are those of selfexpressed named superiority.61 Generic Category Name Trap Historically, many firms have named their organizations after a generic category. A short list of those which have been successful with generic names include • • • • • • • NBC – National Broadcasting Company American Standard Standard Oil IBM – International Business Machines Standard Register Company General Electric General Foods62

The success of the generic named organizations listed is caused by their category leadership, not their generic category names. They did not create a spark between their name and potential prospects, but their names worked and made them exceptions that prove the rule. Because they were first in their respective categories, they were first to mind in assisting the handicap created by their names. In addition to their leadership, many organizations used such generic terms like “national, international, standard, and general” to downplay smaller regional competitors. The generic extension on the name helped to differentiate these organizations from their competition. In today’s markets, naming method does not work like it once did because there too many choices for consumer, and category specialists get the vote of confidence when consumers are in doubt.63 The issue with generic terms today is that with so many choices, brands, and organizations using names like “general, standard, national, and international,” they are
61 62

Beckwith, p. 119. Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 61. 63 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 62.

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ignored, because they no longer add value to the offering. They no longer create the spark they once did, jumpstarting the consumers’ actions to buy or learn about the product or service. For example, a Midwestern computer networking company, the LAN Installation Company, had slight success until they decided to change the name to Geek Squad. The name change to Geek Squad did far more than replace a generic sounding name: it gave the company purpose. The organization was now seen as fun. As a result, the former LAN Installation Company went from 2 percent market share to 30 percent market share.64 The reason for such success after the name change is that the name was the first step in the customer experience. After the organization stated the position in the mind as a fun, talented company, it became talk worthy by customers. Brand and Company Name Selection Many successful organizations have used the following steps to create powerful business names. Capital Letter When companies name themselves using lowercase letters, news reporters do not know how to start a sentence with the company name. Starting with a lower case letter also makes it difficult to find the company name in blocks of text.65 If it is desirable to start a name with a lowercase letter in a business name try to use a capital letter at least as the second letter in the name to help break apart the text. Change a Generic Name into a Unique Word When Lexus executives used a play on the word “luxury,” they were able to play off the sound and feelings one assumes with the generic. Intel also successfully used a
Peters, p. 121. Guy Kawasaki, 2004, The Art of the Start: The Time-tested Battle-hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything (New York, NY: Portfolio.), p. 36.
65 64

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similar strategy when they used a play on the generic word Intelligent.66 The closer the name fits to the category or experience, the better it reinforces the utility of the name. Attribute Names Staples used an attribute name to effectively communicate that they sell office supplies.67 When the name communicates what the company offers, the mind of the prospect is instantly able to relate, and the consumer has a better chance of recalling the company when looking for their offering. Attribute names can also aid brands in category recognition or assist consumers in the mental brand to category mapping. Industry Terms Blockbuster Video successfully selected this naming strategy by utilizing the word blockbuster, which is a word that is commonly used in the movie industry.68 Early in the Alphabet Although this tactic has arguably lost significance because of Internet searches, this tactic remains the ultimate in the yellow pages or any type of directory listings. Companies that select names beginning in the first third of the alphabet benefit in directory listings because they typically appear on the first page. Businesses should remember that many consumers only call the first three numbers in a category when they use the phone book.69 Unique Names Unique names stand out to consumers who, on average, spend nine times as much of their time watching TV or listening to the radio than they do reading any form of

66 67

Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 65 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 66. 68 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 65. 69 Kawasaki, 2004, p. 35.

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print.70 When a name sounds unique, many consumers subconsciously feel it is worth recalling. When names, such as Linux and Unix, sound alike, consumers cannot differentiate whom the message is about or worse, they assume the products are the same.71 Name Trends Several organizations that started in the late nineties used .com after their names. This naming convention was great at first, because the .com at the end of their name placed them placed into a desirable category. This naming worked well for many firms until many of the major .com companies failed. Later, when consumers heard .com on a name, they assumed the organization was destined for failure.72 Initials Typically, if consumers reference a company by their initials, it means that the other words in the name were not important enough to remember or that the name is too long. Initials can also make a company sound generic because acronyms or initials may not have any significance to the brand or the category. Appeal to the Senses A strong name that appeals to as many senses as possible creates an instant relation in the prospects mind. When names appeal to the senses, consumers know more than the name of the product: they feel it.73

70 71

Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 63. Kawasaki, 2004, p. 36. 72 Kawasaki, 2004. p. 36. 73 Beckwith, p. 114.

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Short and Direct Consumers often find a way to shorten any name. For example, when consumers shortened Federal Express to FedEx, Federal Express later officially changed its name. When names are too long, they are difficult to remember. Keep the name short, and it will be more likely to be remembered.74 Names and Line Extension Over 90 percent of new products found in United States’ supermarkets are line extensions.75 Line extensions are products or services that share a common name attempting to use the strength of one of their brands to carry others. Organizations of all sizes tend to loose focus typically after their first success in building a name for themselves. Line extensions rarely create enough spark to survive. Line extensions frequently create temptation for marketers looking for a quick sales increase along with the cost savings associated with building a brand. This incorrect rationale typically occurs because marketers tell themselves that the consumer can identify with the name already or that the brand can be further extended to grow into new markets quickly. Others have argued successful line extensions at the following organizations: • • • GE has multiple businesses and extended their name. Wal-Mart sells a lot of different products.76 Mitsubishi has over 16 brands.77 If brands are successful with line extensions and in some cases lead their categories, why is line extension bad? It does not create a strong enough spark between

74 75

Beckwith, p. 124. Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 49. 76 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 215. 77 Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 46.

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the brand and the consumer to jumpstart an action because the spark is often sent in more than one direction. When a spark is sent in more than one direction, the ends of the spark lose power. The strongest spark is focused. As a brand loses focus, it loses what the name means in the mind of the consumer. When brands lose their focus, their sales and profits often fall. In comparing the top 100 brands in Japan and the United States, the top three Japanese brand names manufacture over 32 brands. In Japan, the first mega-brand is Mitsubishi with 16 brands, Matsushita with 8 brands, and Mitsui with 8 brands. Sales figures between the United States and Japan ring in close with the U.S. at $3.2 trillion and Japan at $2.6 trillion. The difference in brand extensions does not truly exist in sales volume. The difference in line extensions is in the profitability. One average between all top 100 brands in each country the United States averaged profit at 6.2 percent of sales and Japan at only 0.8 percent of sales.78

Price
“Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.” – David Ogilvy Pricing in marketing strategy frightens many of the most elite strategists. This fear of pricing is common because of the fear that prices will become the focus of the differentiating message, and the brand will loose its uniqueness.79 Price itself communicates almost everything about a product or service, yet most businesses refuse to discuss price in their marketing strategy. Several businesses today believe that price must be as low as possible to represent “value” to the customer; yet lean margins kill almost every business except for Wal-Mart. Aggressive pricing often is a trap in which the value represented by the price itself begins to carry the connotation of “discount”. Price
78 79

Ries and Ries, 2002, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 47. Trout and Rivkin, p. 45.

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strategy is directly responsible for brand growth or demise. Price often tells the prospect a story and can silently tell the consumer more about the product or service than years of publicity or advertising campaigns can tell them. It most cases, for services and products alike, most consumers assume the higher the price, the higher the quality.80 When consumers see product in stores with a high price tag relative to similar products, they often assume the higher price is for a reason. Their perceptions may change, but ultimately, most consumers feel a better product commands a higher price. Consumers often justify higher prices when they compare similar products. Commonly, a brand leader or product of superior quality product commands a higher price. Price communicates several attributes, including image, experience, prestige, and venue; however, when used correctly, price can be the ultimate tactic in communicating quality perceptions. To use price for advantage in marketing strategy, marketers must typically throwaway most economic reasoning, especially when they are looking to command or decipher what the market may bear. Marketers must forget what the existing market bears and create their own markets and categories. The price of a product or service can ultimately change consumer expectations, how they perceive a brand, and, ultimately, their overall experiences. Consumers typically appreciate low prices because a low price may be all the consumer can afford; however, many consumers find ways to afford a higher priced product if they perceive the added value. Although consumers welcome savings and value, then they tend not to then appreciate the quality of a product. They assume if a product is discounted or low

80

Beckwith, p. 84.

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priced, then the product or service “could be better.” Businesses should be aware of what their pricing communicates to consumers about their products and services.81 Price Expectation and Experience A flaw commonly found in marketing books today is the term “price resistance” Many marketing books discuss price resistance only as a barrier to entry. Alternatively, price resistance can also be an opportunity to entry. Businesses today must understand that a high price for a product says the product is worth the additional money.82 In several circumstances, a great deal of the population does not want to look frugal, and many consumers like to look just the opposite. For example, in taverns some specialty taverns carry rather exotic drinks and liquors from all over the world. When dining with friends or family, many consumers like to show their great taste through product cost alone. Imagine a bar that offers both $10.00 bottles of beer and $3.00 bottles. If a person were trying to make an impression, the $10.00 bottle appears much more impressive to the guests. The problem is does a $10.00 bottle of beer taste $7.00 better than a $3.00 bottle? Probably not. How many times are drinks purchased in this manner, and everyone gathers around asking to taste the high priced product? How often do consumers naturally respond with “Wow, that’s good” or “Impressive. I’ve never had a $10.00 bottle of beer before”? How many consumers would respond the same with the $3.00 beer? Would the beer taste as good knowing it’s a $3.00 beer? Most likely, the response would be less than impressive. Many people might not have any interest in a common $3.00 beer because almost anybody can afford one. Additionally, some consumers may feel that a beer only slightly higher priced, for example, at $4.00, may be superior based on price alone.

81 82

Beckwith, p. 79. Trout and Rivkin, p. 55.

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Price creates expectation of a product or service in the mind of the consumer. The consumer sees an outlandish price and assumes there must be a reason to command such a high price, and if they have extra money, the product might be worth trying. High prices do a great deal more than tell a customer the product or service is better. They also tempt consumers into trying the product or service.83 When consumers are not technically informed of a product or service and its quality, typically, that with the highest price commands the highest expectation from the consumer and represents the most value to the consumer. Most consumers are very poor judges of quality and base their expectations solely on other cues, such as price. The most obvious attribute to many consumers is price.84 Price and Client’s Loyalty Price influences the type of consumers the products and services will attract. Discount prices obviously attract discount shoppers. High prices typically attract customers looking for more than a product or service. This type of customer typically is buying into an experience. Discount shoppers come and go to the next bargain on the market and leave brands often without question. Customers that alternatively purchase higher priced products and services find perceived value in the offering. This type of customer typically does not fall under temptation to leave for another brand, for they are buying more than a product or service: they buy into the culture. This connection is where a brand’s spark actually gives motivation to users of that product. If all attributes are the same, the higher price would make no sense, and a customer, not getting the desired spark from a brand, would save his or her money.

83 84

Beckwith, p. 80. Beckwith, p. 82.

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Price Shoppers Price shoppers are typically difficult to obtain for marketers today. The sad truth about this type of client is that they are the most difficult to obtain and the easiest to lose. This type of customer will research everything from production cost to delivery cost and will haggle until they pay no more than cost for a particular product or service. Price shoppers do not typically refer additional clients to a business, and if they do, they expect the same bargain they received, thereby, resulting in loss for an organization. Typically price shoppers perceive nothing more than face value of an item because they are buying a price and not a brand or experience. Price shoppers typically buy only one thing, the item’s price. They are generally not interested in a long-term relationship with an organization, nor are they interested in the true quality of a product or service.85 Most likely if a lower priced alternative to Wal-Mart were to arrive on the market with better pricing, even most of Wal-Mart’s best price shopping clients would leave. For every Wal-Mart that succeeds in the market, another hundred have failed using discount pricing strategies usually because their customers are not loyal to a brand but to a price tag. Price shoppers are typically very poor judges of quality; if they were good judges, they would not be shopping on price alone. Businesses should avoid targeting only price shoppers because they represent no more than minor cash flow to an organization, based on low profit margins required to attract such consumers.86 Typically, this type of client is the first to complain of a product or service for which they paid little, ultimately costing the organization further.

85 86

Beckwith, p. 85. Beckwith, p. 85.

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Price Promotion Many organizations fall into a trap when attempting to over-expand. When many brands begin to take off, marketers begin to line extend and forget what made them successful. In attempting to gain new clients, marketers often discount the existing product or service. The problems with such tactics are twofold. First, in discounting existing products and services, customers will assume extra margin exists and the product is not worth the original price. The second issue arises from price discounting is that consumers are led to believe the product or service is overpriced when it is not available at a discount price.87

Section Summary
In summary, the selection of brand categories, names, positions, and pricing are crucial for brand success in developing the brand’s personality and identity. When Sparkplugging a brand, marketers should pay careful attention during the planning and the branding process to ensure consistency across all attributes of a brand’s dynamic mental linkages. After a firm defines the brand’s identity, the time comes to promote and take the brand to market. Promotion of today’s new brands is rapidly changing and shifting because of the over-proliferation in common media. The role of advertising and public relations are also changing. Sparkplugging to jumpstart growth of a business or a brand is difficult in today’s market; therefore, leveraging brand communication through a combination of advertising, public relations, and the Internet will be essential for brand growth in the future.

87

Beckwith, p. 87.

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Chapter 2: Promotion
Advertising’s role in marketing strategy is undergoing a major revolution. Advertising has evolved from the ultimate means of introducing new brands to a function of sustaining a brand’s leadership position. The market today has become overcrowded with the increase in the number of disruptive messages, thus, over-saturating the minds of consumers. As a countermeasure, many consumers have subconsciously built up defense mechanisms to avoid advertising’s disruptions; some consumers even subconsciously block out entire advertisements, while others are now skipping 92% of television commercials.88 With this over-saturation of advertisements, consumers have lost trust in the messages told by markets. Many consumers today perceive advertising as one-sided or self-fulfilling.89 Advertising once had the ability to sparkplug or jump-start brands; now advertising’s role has shifted to that of brand maintenance. Few brands introduced in recent years have achieved above-average returns or growth from advertising alone. Small and medium enterprises have fallen victim to advertising agencies that use old promotion tactics often found in large enterprises like Crest and Volvo. These agencies still try to use advertising as a primary source to introduce and build their brands. Today, firms looking to sparkplug their brands must understand one simple rule for advertising: if large enterprises are doing something with their promotion, it is usually the wrong thing for a business that hopes to sparkplug its brand. When Sparkplugging, marketers should not attempt to act like large enterprises in their marketing messages or ever claim that they want to market like them. An animal that is much smaller than an 800-pound gorilla but acts like one will be destroyed in minutes in the jungle, no matter
88 89

Neumeier, p. 22. Neumeier, p. 21.

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its orientation. Brands must focus on what they are and what they wish to become, not pretend to be something they are not. The Evolution of Advertising Shortly after World War II, mass media advertising became the preferred channel for building and introducing brands in corporate America. Much of this popularity traces back to the introduction and popularity of television that exploded disruptive messages across the country. Television enabled businesses to advertise and introduce their brands quickly. When firms used the mass channels, the results were phenomenal. The advertising usually created more revenue, an asset that could grow the brand rapidly. In that period, almost all a company had to do to create some demand for the new product or service was to run an ad on television. The reasons for such success via mass media advertising were twofold. First, there were fewer programs and channels, and consumers were not flooded as heavily with advertisements for new products. Advertisements were a valid way for consumers to become aware of new brands. The second reason was that of the power of messages told by advertisers was strong. They requested consumers to take action. The best brands told compelling stories and asked for a call to action.90 By the early 1970s, the per capita expenditure on advertising was $110.00; today the per capita expenditure is up to $865.00.91 Such an influx of disruptive messaging has flooded the traditional communication media and reduced the effectiveness of advertising media, such as television, print, and radio, all of which became the staple media for almost all growing brands. Beside the common mass medium channels, today there are

90 91

Godin, 2005, All Marketers are Liars, p. 19. Al Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 6.

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also other alternative media, such as the Internet, which is rapidly changing advertising’s role in marketing strategies. In the aftermath of World War II, advertising entered its second era, which focused on product attributes. In this era, companies essentially needed only to “build the better mousetrap” and have some funding to back it. If the product appeared better or improved when compared to its competition the product it sold. At this time, there were fewer ads, which meant message retention overall was higher. The third era of advertising occurred in the 1960s when it entered the image era, which dealt with product or corporate reputation and less on the product itself. Today, advertising is in the fourth phase, the positioning and category era. Organizations need to create unique positions in the mind of the prospect because of over-communication and noise in the common existing markets.92 Advertising Cost Trends As of 2005, businesses in America spent over $230 billion on advertising.93 The cost of mass media advertising appears to be immune from typical price decreases. As the amount of exposure for an advertisement has decreased in the past few years, the rates have continued to increase. For example, in 1972 a thirty-second Super Bowl commercial sold for $86,000 and reached 56,640,000 consumers equating to a cost of $1.52 per thousand. Today, the same ad costs $2,100,000 and reaches 88,465,000 consumers, at a cost of $23.74 per thousand. In addition, the raw advertising costs of production for a typical thirty-second TV advertisement costs around $343,000.94

92 93

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 110. Hughes, p.121. 94 Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 8.

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The unfortunate news for new brands and businesses is that, today, consumers are flooded with disruptive messages and the costs to send these messages are growing. For example, in 1997 advertising expenditures were up 7 percent from 1996, in 1998 up 8 percent, and in 1999 up 10 percent. In 2002, U.S advertising expenditures exceeded $244 billion a year, almost catching the U.S defense budget in 2000 at $291 billion.95 This annual advertising spending at $244 billion translates to $2.37 per person every day, most of which is television advertising with a cost about $10 per thousand, or one cent per person. The average consumer is exposed to 237 advertisements daily.96 With such disruption to normal daily life, most consumers have trained themselves to subconsciously ignore most traditional advertising. Advertisements that consumers retain today remain commonly un-trusted. The content of the advertisements consumers see and hear are a reflection of the lack of buzz about a product; therefore, commercials are used to tell the new products’ stories.97 Although advertising prices are on the rise, so is the amount of advertising from business. In 2005, businesses were expected to spend $279 billion, up 5.7 percent from 2004.98 Businesses are cluttering traditional media in any effort to be found in the overdisruptive market. Fundamentally, marketing strategies must change for new and emerging brands because consumers are finding new ways to avoid advertisements all together.

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 8. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 9. 97 Godin, 2005, p. 20. 98 Daniel Gross, August 2005, Birth of a salesman, Fortune Magazine, Vol. 152, No. 3, p. 40. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
96

95

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Consumer Perceptions of Advertising One of the main issues with advertising today is that advertising itself lacks credibility. 99 Consumers often view advertisements as one-sided self-fulfilling messages attempting to fool them into a purchase. Before advertising flooded all mediums, people used to read advertisements and discuss the brands with enthusiasm. Advertisements were the way consumers were educated about new brands.100 Times have changed, and with the average consumer unable to process all new communications from organizations, many consumers subconsciously block out almost all advertising. Over-saturation has hit almost every mass medium in today’s market. Old media like TV, radio, and print have increased their advertising saturation because of their decrease in popularity caused by the Internet. In doing so, media like TV, radio, and print have increased advertising so greatly that some programs are almost all advertising. It is estimated that 25% of all TV time is ad-related. Furthermore, most television shows get one-tenth the ratings they did in the 1970.101 Advertisements today fill TV programs, video games, and movies with ads or product placements in television programs, video games, and movies, using product placements that function as indirect advertisements. In modern times, advertising has become more disruptive than ever. Because of this disruption, consumers are finding any way possible to avoid such messages. For example, with the Internet, advertising new programs called “pop-up” blockers are available for every web browser as a free download. Some advertisers have even gone to the point of hijacking consumers’ PCs with spyware, small modules that track what advertisements web browsers view and their responses to the advertisement.
99

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 45. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 11. 101 Hughes, p. 120.
100

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Advertising in an Overcrowded Disruptive Society Although almost all of America’s 15,000 advertising agencies are still committed to growing brands and businesses through disruptive advertising, almost all successful new businesses used little to no advertising in developing their brands. Even more shocking than the fact that almost all new successful brands have not used extensive advertising budgets in growing their brands is the fact that most advertising agencies do not advertise. Instead, they have become obsessed with building ad campaigns that will generate huge amounts of publicity for their firms, a venture that, in turn, helps them to grow their own identities. In a major market like Chicago, no advertising agencies pay for any full color or even quarter page directory ads.102 Conversely, compared to the computer section several advertisements can be found.103 Advertising agencies do not advertise because they know what they sell is no longer effective, nor is it often worth the money spent. The age-old saying from CEOs was one that the CEO wondered what half of their advertising was wasted. Now, many executives are starting to wonder if not all of it is wasted.104 In a recent study performed on executives by the American Advertising Federation, only 6.8 percent of companies were very satisfied with their advertising efforts.105 Advertising for Brand Building and Brand Maintenance Many marketing professionals confuse brand building with brand maintenance. Brand building is a task of creating buzz for an organization in order to develop a trustworthy story the prospect believes and retells about a brand. With the exception of
SBC Yellow Pages, 2005, Chicago: Since 1886 (Chicago, IL: R.H. Donnelley Publishing & Advertising of Illinois Partnership.), p. 25. 103 SBC Yellow Pages, p. 339. 104 Trout and Rivkin, p. 39. 105 Trout and Rivkin, p. 39.
102

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few companies and markets, many marketers today are beginning to use only publicity to introduce their new brands. Brand maintenance is about protecting the position of leadership by increasing the barriers of entry. When a brand has achieved leadership by utilizing techniques of brand focus and growth communication via public relations, advertising category leadership is typically advisable. A short list of organizations that have grown enormously without advertising in their early stages include Microsoft, Subway, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart.106 Although these organizations now advertise, they do so as a brand maintenance function because their brand positions have become that of the category leader, which is one exception and a valid reason to advertise. Advertising increases the barriers of entry to competitors in the same or similar category. Organizations should consider advertising like a country’s defense budget that allocates resources into the program for the brand’s protection. Using advertising for brands should be used only to protect an organization from losing market share, not to gain market share by extending the name across categories. Advertising is the best defensive attack by category leaders because it raises the barriers of entry for competitors in their category. Although publicity today has the best potential for business and brand growth, eventually there is not much new to talk about. At this point, the advertising engine starts to churn. Advertising and publicity have separate but equal functions today; however, organizations must understand when to use each of these functions. The general rule today is first publicity and then advertising.107 Advertising today is solely for category leaders. Advertising leadership should be used to defend the leaders’ positions and to increase the barriers of entry into their

106 107

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 14. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 18.

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categories. Advertising should be reserved for category leaders because it is expensive. For example, Super Bowl ads today start around $2 million, but without category leadership, an organization is forced to focus advertising on product attributes only. Advertising category leadership should be bold because the leadership statement of leadership is one that creates assumptions by consumers. When the consumer makes assumptions of product superiority because of perceived leadership, this perception ultimately induces favorable feelings toward the brand by the consumer. The following are examples of category leaders advertising leadership: • • • • • • “Heinz, America’s favorite ketchup” – Heinz “So easy to use no wonder it’s #1” – America Online “Budweiser, king of beers” – Anheuser-Busch “Coca-Cola, the real thing” – Coca Cola “Visa, it’s everywhere you want to be” – Visa “Goodyear, #1 in tires” – Goodyear108

The reasoning behind advertising leadership is that almost everyone shares the perception that a superior product will succeed in the marketplace. When consumers see a leader, they assume most individuals want the best product; therefore, the leader must be the best choice. Another assumption that validates advertising leadership is that many consumers believe that an organization will not advertise a substandard product. If the product is #1, it must be the best. When category leaders fail to use leadership as the primary attribute in advertising, success of a campaign often diminishes. Typically, this failure is caused by the market research conducted by the organizations. This research usually provides the firm with the following results: • • • •
108

Customers do not buy a brand only because it is the leader. Customers are not loyal to a brand and can be persuaded by price. Customers want the same products but bigger, better, faster, and cheaper. Customers want more features; show them the benefits of the features.
Ries and Ries, 2002, 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 19.

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What typically happens after such research is that advertising departments compile all this data and find that the customer said “They do not buy only because a product is a leader,” so they focus advertising efforts on product attributes instead of category leadership. The practice of using a firm’s examination of sales data or consumer behavior instead of the marketing research often leads to the advertising of category leadership. Watching and living with consumers typically contradicts communication tactics recommended by market research. When researchers observe consumer behavior and ask customers why they purchase a particular product, although it may cost more or be positioned next to a generic or store brands, the common response is, “Because it’s better.”109 Leadership creates expectations in the mind of consumers. Advertisers today must understand that leadership is an attribute that tells more than sales figures to consumers. It tells them a story that the product is superior. Advertising Product Introduction, Case Study: Crest WhiteStrips In 2001, Proctor & Gamble, the creators of Crest toothpaste, decided to introduce a new product, Crest WhiteStrips, to the market using mass media advertising. The campaign budget of $90 million, was all for use in traditional mass media disruptive advertising. P&G reserved $40 million for TV and print advertising alone.110 WhiteStrips to date has achieved moderate success according to IRI sales reports from March 18, 2005: with $49 million in sales in 2004 (not including Wal-Mart).111 In developing WhiteStrips, Crest made two major mistakes. The first mistake was that the Crest line extended the Crest toothpaste brand name. At this point, the strength in the

109 110

Ries and Ries, 2002, 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, p. 21. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 112. 111 Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 112.

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Crest toothpaste name diminished because the name Crest has another category of product using its brand name. Second, Proctor & Gamble relied heavily on classical advertising. For the same $90 million at $44 per unit; they could have sent 2,045,454 sample packages to every news reporter in the United States and created nationwide trusted product buzz almost overnight.112 After all, most consumers do not trust what they read in advertisements, because they often feel advertising is one-sided.113 If a product is worth talking about, consumers usually feel it is worth trying. Many of the advertisements used in the campaign for WhiteStrips offered no true reason to try the new product. Instead, Crest relied on advertising with celebrity endorsement to introduce the brand and to create trust commonly found when using publicity.

112 113

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 112. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 11.

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Figure 2.1: Crest WhiteStrips Advertisement. SOURCE: Ad Flip LLC, 2005, Crest WhiteStrips Advertisement [Internet, WWW, Computer program], ADDRESS: www.adflip.com [Accessed: 7 October 2005]. In launching its campaign, Crest spent a lot on advertising and focused little effort on public relations. Doing so has cost the organization ownership in whitening products. Instead of introducing the brand with PR, Crest introduced it with advertising that created

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a buzz for whitening products as a whole, thereby, benefiting the whitening product category with their $90 million in advertising that started in 2002. The Chicago Tribune reported that sales of products with “whitening” in the name jumped 22 percent to $570.3 million, in the year 2002. On average, the brands that failed to jump on the whitening curve all together saw their sales drop 10.5 percent to $780.1 million.114 Looking at sales data across the category, it appears Crest and their $90 million dollar budget did not effectively introduce the brand Crest WhiteStrips; instead, Crest shook the industry with buzz about teeth whitening and promoted this new category. The growth of the new whitening category has created financial gain for P&G; however, it has also attracted many “me too” competitors. The pharmaceutical company, Pfizer Inc., recently introduced Trident White gum that also claims to whiten teeth. P&G recently teamed up with Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. to produce confectionery products with oral-care benefits. In summary, P&G achieved fair sales success with their advertising and category creation with the WhiteStrips product; however, because they used advertising as the product introduction medium, they created more buzz about the whitening category in general. The advertising funds did more for the whitening category than it did for the Crest product. Advertising Brand Maintenance Of the 15,000+ advertising firms in the United States, almost all will tell businesses the only way to build a brand is through advertising; however, these claims
WOAI, 2002, Teeth whiteners cleaning up in oral-care business [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: WOAI, 1031 Navarro Street, San Antonio Texas, 78205; ADDRESS: http://www.woai.com/guides/beauty/story.aspx?content_id=82A5A0A0-51D2-45A4-ADC03AADA1E2EAC9 [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
114

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could not be further from the truth. With Sparkplugging, advertising is not about building brands, and alone, it is not about creating spark. The era of brand building and creating spark with advertising alone is over. Advertising today is about maintaining the brand’s position and mind share. Advertising is not a shortcut; it is for brand maintenance after a brand achieves category leadership. Advertising’s role is now to continue what public relations campaigns started. It should deliver the same messages delivered by the public relations campaign. Advertising should reinforce all the ideas and concepts from the public relations campaign and maintain the consistency of the message. When the publicity about a brand is over, the strategy should shift from public relations to advertising.115 When brands grow up, there is simply not much for consumers to talk about. At this point, the consumers are already aware so the publicity engine takes a back seat to advertising. Mature brands, like Coke, cannot run any more publicity campaigns about their innovation of cola. Everyone knows Coke invented cola; however, Coke should remind consumers and advertise, as they have in the past by stating their leadership, that they are “the real thing.” The real thing reminds consumers that Coca-Cola is the leader and that they invented cola; therefore, it must be the best. When leadership is communicated consumers are reminded that everything else is an imitation of CocaCola.116 Reminding, educating, deepening, and protecting are reasons to advertise an existing brand. Advertising reinforces leadership in the category and reminds the consumer why the brand is the leader. Advertising can also work to generate buzz among

115 116

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 197. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 203.

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leaders again. It is proven, especially with higher priced items, that consumers who already own a product will pay more attention to the ad if they already own the product.117 Leadership is the most important of attributes because consumers know that a superior product will lead or win in the marketplace. Leadership enforces creditability.118 Beyond leadership, the attributes used in adverting must stay consistent with previous perceptions of the brand developed from public relations, reassuring the prospect of what they know and believe. Consumers, like everyone else, do not like being wrong. Advertising new attributes of a brand will dilute the brand and subsequently tell the consumers their initial perceptions of the brand were wrong. Consumers do not like being told they are wrong. Advertising Brand Image Changes and Line Extension Unfortunately, when brands mature from the brand building using public relations to advertising, many organizations forget what got them there. More times than not, an organization will begin to look at the strength of a brand and decide to broaden the scope or extend the line. In a perfect world, this move would be the perfect reward to a brand for succeeding. Unfortunately, advertising does not have the power to change minds or can it change brands. Judging the strength of a brand name is within the position in the mind of the prospect. Advertising cannot replace an existing perception with a new perception. Advertising can only support the existing position in the mind of the consumer. Advertising can deepen the perception, not broaden perception.119

Emanuel Rosen, 2002, The anatomy of Buzz: How To Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing (New York, NY: Doubleday), p. 208. 118 Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 202. 119 Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 200.

117

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A short list of those that have line extended or attempted to change brand image with advertising include the following: • • • • • • • • • • • • • Nike shoes, Nike Golf Clubs. Nike shoes, Nike Hockey Skates. Nike shoes, Nike clothing. Country Crock butter, Country Crock instant potatoes Chevrolet Cars, Chevrolet Small Cars “Chevrolet Chevette” Chevrolet Cars, Chevrolet Geo Metro Heinz ketchup, Heinz salsa Oldsmobile, “It’s not your fathers Oldsmobile” IBM Mainframes, IBM PC’s IBM PC’s, IBM PC Jr. Mercedes Benz luxury sedans, Mercedes Benz Sports Cars Xerox Copiers, Xerox Mainframe computers Volvo safe family sedans, Volvo Sports Cars “The ReVolvolution”120

Case study: Volvo, The ReVolvolution In the case of Volvo, its previous public relations and advertising campaigns (see figure 2.4) promoted safety. Safety was the attribute Volvo owned in the mind of the consumer, and the company was highly successful promoting this attribute. However, after all the public relations and supporting advertising from Volvo on safety, which they owned in the mind of the consumer, the company’s marketers changed their minds and started the Volvo ReVolvolution. Many brands fall into this trap. Instead of reinforcing what the brand stands for, several organizations start looking around for new, fresh ideas. These organizations either internally develop what they wish they could have been, a new creative idea the advertising agency, or the organization features just another poor CEO trying to make a name for himself/herself. For example, Volvo owned the word and categories of “automobile safety.” Figure 2.2 below promotes this idea, and was moderately successful.
120

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 216.

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Figure 2.2: Volvo Safety Advertisement. SOURCE: Ad Flip LLC, 2005, Volvo Safety Advertisement [Internet, WWW, Computer program], ADDRESS: www.adflip.com [Accessed: 7 October 2005]. In the early 2000’s Volvo decided they want to make sports cars. At this time, Volvo shifted their brand identity from safety to sports cars as displayed to the ad in figure 2.3 “The Volvo ReVolvolution”.

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Figure 2.3: “The Volvo ReVolvolution”. SOURCE: Ad Flip LLC, 2005, The Volvo ReVolvolution [Internet, WWW, Computer program], ADDRESS: www.adflip.com [Accessed: 7 October 2005]. Safety and sports cars do not go together, and the Volvo name in the mind of the prospect now has been diluted to the point where it means almost nothing. Volvo decided

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to advertise polar opposites and almost destroyed its safety identity.121 If a consumer were to ask any insurance agent if he know of any safe family vehicles created on the notion that “a 247 horsepower turbocharged engine that can get four hearts racing as easily as one,” he would laugh. How has such a change affected Volvo’s sales? Consider the market for those people who shop for safe vehicles (think of the five million soccer moms in the market) and those shopping for sports cars. With annual sales in America just over 100,000 vehicles a year in 2001, Volvo would have been best advertising safety to the five million soccer moms. Looking for a modest 10 percent saturation in this category, Volvo would have achieved five times the sales. Sales into this category may be much easier as Volvo already owns the safety position in the prospects’ minds. Instead of trying to change minds of consumers into believing that it was now sporty and fast, Volvo should have maintained its spark with safety. Starting mid-2005, Volvo shifted its advertising and positioning back to safety, validating that no amount of advertising can change the mind of prospects and that organizations should stay in the same position.122 Advertising and Creativity Several advertisements created today are often ineffective because understanding what the advertisement is attempting to sell is difficult to understand.123 Advertising agencies have evolved since the 1950s when they were effective because there was much less noise and consumers perceived truth in advertising. In the 1960s advertising continued its successes with the use and development of the unique selling proposition by an advertising agency chairman named Rosser Reeves. Reeves defined the unique selling proposition into three parts:
121 122

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising p. 198. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising p. 201. 123 Trout and Rivkin, p. 37.

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1. Advertisements should make a proposition to the consumer. It should not only be words, images, or self-promotion, it should communicate to the reader “Hey, buy this product and you will get this specific benefit.” 2. The proposition must be a different than what the competition is offering, or different than anything the competition has the ability to offer. The proposition should be a unique trait, claim, or attribute of the brand. This claim should be unique from all others in the category’s advertising. 3. It must be so strong that it can pull the target market to the product.124 Presently, most advertising firms refuse to use what has worked in the past because they feel campaigns of the past often lacked creative expression or were too aggressive and intrusive. A problem is that advertising today has become too creative and fails to inform the prospect and fails to ask for the prospect’s action. Many marketers are afraid to ask for action in their advertising and have instead used creativity in their advertising. The problem with this behavior is that it often seems to make the advertising itself famous instead of the brand.125 In modern times, many marketers are using advertising as entertainment in an attempt to fool consumers into watching their ads. Marketers now do this because they know many consumers feel advertising is just something they must put up with in order to view their favorite shows or read their favorite articles, and this method if successful will keep the consumer watching instead walking away.126 Advertising agencies know consumers feel this way so advertising has evolved into creative entertainment to appear as less of a disruption. Several firms every year have great entertainment advertising; however, creative advertising does not offer unique selling propositions and, thus, often fails to increase or maintain sales. The problem with creative or entertainment-based advertising is that while consumers are entertained, the advertising itself does not

124 125

Trout and Rivkin, p. 12. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 27. 126 Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 24.

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increase sales, nor do consumers typically recall the brand message of the advertisement because their minds are busy being entertained and not being sold on a product or asked to take action. Case Study: Nissan In 1996 Nissan launched a creative advertising campaign, later called by Ad week as “the most talked about ad campaign in 1996,” Adage’s “The Best Award,” Time magazine’s “#1 commercial of the year,” and Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Best Commercial.” It even ranked in Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 50 Commercials.” 127 The Nissan toys commercials featured dogs, dolls, and a smiling Japanese man with a tagline at the end, "Enjoy the Ride." One commercial had an action figure pick up his Barbie look-alike date in a toy car while playing Van Halen's "You Really Got Me." This ad campaign cost Nissan about $330 million.128

Figure 2.4: Nissan Toys Advertisement.
SOURCE: Forbes.com, 2001, Speed Bump [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: Forbes.com, 90 5th Avenue, New York, NY, 10011; ADDRESS: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2001/0430/113.html [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. Nissan North America, 2005, Nissan Corporate: Heritage [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: Nissan North America, 333 Commerce St., Nashville, TN, 37201-1800; ADDRESS: http://www.nissannews.com/corporate/heritage/nissan_heritage.shtml [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 128 Forbes.com, 2001, Speed Bump [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: Forbes.com, th 90 5 Avenue, New York, NY, 10011; ADDRESS: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2001/0430/113.html [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
127

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With credentials and awards supporting the creativity of campaign from Time Magazine and Ad week, the ad, however, failed to sell any Nissans. The same year the ad ran, Toyota’s sales increased by 7 percent; Honda by 6 percent; and the industry average sales growth were up by 3 percent. Alternatively, with such a highly publicized campaign, Nissan was down by 3 percent.129 Shortly after the ads began their run, Nissan’s sales declined despite the mass success of the commercials popularity. That same year, Nissan posted a $518 million loss in North America for its fiscal year, which ended in March 1998. By 1998, the dealerships finally had enough and wanted to see the actual vehicles return to the forefront of the company’s advertising. The campaign ended in 1998 with much rejoicing from frustrated dealerships. At this point, Nissan had also fired the ad agency.130 Later, when confronting members from the advertising agency, which still received recognition for creative excellence in advertising, the agency responded with “We don’t design the cars.” By this time, Nissan USA cut 450 white-collar jobs, or 18 percent of their white-collar workforce. Practically forced out the door, Nissan’s president left for another opportunity.131 Creativity and Animals Ads A new creative trend in advertising is to include animals in advertisements. The logic is that people like animals; therefore, cute and funny animals must help get the consumers’ attention. Figure 2.5 shows a short list of animals in advertising and the results of the attention.

129 130

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 27. Forbes.com, 2001. 131 Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 27.

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Company Taco Bell Energizer Pets.com Budweiser Geico Coca-Cola

Animal Chihuahua Bunny Dog Sock Puppet Frog Gecko Polar Bear

Result Chihuahua breed popular Energizer Bunny became famous Famous Sock Puppet Frog Famous Famous Gecko Polar Bears “Cute”

Figure 2.5: Animal Advertising and the Result. In Sparkplugging a brand, the function of advertising is to reinforce or maintain the existing perceptions in the prospects’ minds.132 No level of creativity can work as well as raw facts offering a consumer a true reason to buy. For example, review the slogan used by Tylenol: “Tylenol is the pain reliever hospitals use most.” Most consumers believe that Tylenol must be better because hospitals use it most. This ad is not creative nor does it feature cute, funny animals; however, it is effective because it boldly states the leadership Tylenol owns in the pain reliever category.133 As a result, Tylenol continues to sustain leadership in the pain reliever category. Creative advertising tends to sell the prospect on the organization’s advertising versus the product or brand. For example, years ago Coca-Cola placed an advertisement with polar bears around the holidays. The result? Consumers loved the ad, but it didn’t sell any more Coca-Cola. Creative advertising is expensive from a design standpoint and more often than not does not pay for itself in sales revenue. When Sparkplugging a brand, advertising is and should be reserved for those maintaining leadership in a category and not for those trying to become category leaders. No matter how enjoyable, entertaining, creative, funny, or clever the ad, the message typically is lost when advertisements become too creative, cute, or entertaining.

132 133

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 204. Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 204.

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True advertising value is brand retention. Consumers have difficulty retaining the message of an ad when advertising becomes to creative because the creativity drowns the selling proposition. An effective Sparkplugging advertisement it must be direct and creditable, not creative and passive-aggressive.134

Public Relations
In many organizations, the public relations team takes a backseat to the driving force of the advertising department. Such a structure for Sparkplugging brands is problematic because public relations departments are those that should be in the driver’s seat of brand building and creating awareness. Public relations, unlike advertising, are typically viewed by consumers as a trustworthy source of information because consumers often view advertisements as one-sided. The public relations function today is to build a brand’s awareness through relevant, non-disruptive channels, like word of mouth and other story telling means across news media and the Internet.135 When marketers started researching the power of public relations, they began by looking at how consumers communicated about products or services. They found that when consumers shared their stories, these stories would help the consumer reinforce the brand’s association in the consumer’s mind. 136 Consumers speak about the product or service from their points of view, and when these stories are shared, they carry emotion, use of the product or service, and creditability. Sparkplugging uses public relations for brand introduction and brand building because consumer channels using word of mouth

Ries and Ries, 2002, The Fall of Advertising, p. 30. Richard Laermer, 2003, Full Frontal PR: Getting People Talking About Your Business, Your Product, or You (New York, NY: Bloomberg Press.), p. 211. 136 Iris Mohr, and Larry Chiagouris, July/August 2005, “Get the Word Out,” Marketing Management Vol. 14 Issue 4, p. 52. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
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are more trusted and can spread faster on a much lower budget than conventional advertising. Many executives today still choose advertising as a quick effort to introduce or build brand awareness; however, surveys performed by the American Advertising Federation show that only 6.8 percent of these executives were satisfied with their advertising efforts.137 Considering advertising is changing, many executives are electing to use public relations to introduce new brands. Several organizations have introduced and built their brands, products, and services primarily with public relations. A short list of some of these firms includes Microsoft, Ikea, and Starbucks. It can be said that the birth of the Internet is killing the disruptive advertising media, such as television, radio, and print. Today, what is commonly known as word-ofmouth or buzz travels worldwide in seconds through the Internet. The Internet has connected consumers, allowing them to share their opinions, which are accessible to anyone in seconds. Unlike advertising, public relations have adapted to the changes in technology; however, in the case of public relations, technology has enhanced the need for publicity when building and communicating brands. Advertising once drove the public relations cart. Today, public relations are changing advertising with live online news reporting, blogs, and pod casts. Forms of Public Relations Publicity campaigns appear in several forms, including word-of-mouth, analyst meetings, product or beta testing, crisis management, special events, wire services, interviews, media tours, press releases, surveys, and press conferences. In addition to all the forms listed, there are specific tactics marketers can use to land or increase exposure.
137

Trout and Rivkin, p. 39.

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These include exclusivity, embargos, and information leaks. It is common for marketers to integrate several of these tactics into successful publicity strategies. The PR Hook After a firm chooses the media for its publicity campaign, the next challenge is creating interest in the organization’s story. To peak the interest of consumers and journalists, organizations must have a clear and catchy story hook. In short, hooks are simply the shortest reason why a journalist or consumer should pay attention to the message in the first place. They can be compared to the subject line of an email because their time for acceptance is short. When crafting a compelling hook, organizations can use several tactics from looking at their own previous releases to scoping out their competition. Understanding what the competition is doing does not mean an organization must understand every move a competitor is making. Instead, it is often more valuable to know what they are doing wrong.138 Other times, organizations can look inside their organization for bad news or problems. Even bad news can make a great story for awareness if it’s presented properly. Journalists are often highly attracted to stories that have a clear problem that needs to be resolved.139 The Pitch When pitching a story, the first step is to make initial contact with an email, letter, or phone call in attempt to contact the journalist. Public relations communications are similar to sales because the business must sell the journalist on why the story is newsworthy. The job of public relations is purely to sell the journalist on why the story is
138 139

Laermer, p. 78. Laermer, p. 78.

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worth telling and to get the greatest amount of exposure for their story. Understanding the background of the journalists, topics they cover, and how to approach them is the first step in the story pitching process. After completing the research of finding out all background information about the journalist, including their interests, the organization must have a clear and solid pitch to sell.140 The task of public relations is to develop a compelling story, one that people want to share, one that is uniquely consistent and can capture the imagination of an audience. Public relations stories should be consistent and simple and fulfill some want that is satisfied by the organization’s product or service. The stories should fulfill this want in an exceptional way that entices consumers to want to share the story. Public relations commonly open more room for exaggeration by consumers. The benefit is that consumers take ownership when they retell the story. Stories marketers manifest and deliver through publicity channels are commonly more trusted than advertising.141 As brands develop and take on a leadership positions, it is important to control more details in storytelling. Spelling out all details for established brands when possible is important to maintaining the brand’s image. Eight Rules of Pitching • Do not bribe journalists. To get media coverage, a business should not have to, nor should they, bribe a journalist. They should not send thank you gifts or cards to the journalists for covering their stories. When a journalist writes a story, they are doing their jobs and the story is their obligation when reporting on the news.142 Find a unique spin. Reporters are paid to report news; however, most want new and unique stories to print. Some publications will only take the story if they are
140

John Guinlven, July 2005, “PR Professional, Not Telemarketer, The Do’s and don’ts of pitching,” Public Relations Tactics Vol. 12, Issue 7, p. 6. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 141 Godin, 2005, p. 79. 142 Laermer, p. 116.

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the first to feature it. If a similar story appeared in another publication, find a different way to twist the story. Few journalists are interested in old news.143 • Always on record. When a business does not want something printed, they should not say it at all. Many people like to attempt to strengthen their relationship with journalists by adding information off the record. The problem is that this “off the record” information is often found printed later. This is because journalists do not have to honor “off the record” statements. The job of the journalist is to report news.144 Watch the length of the pitch. Many business professionals write in letter format. Although the pitch may look good in a lengthy letter, it is often better to respect the journalist’s time with communication that is direct and to the point.145 Direct communication also helps to reduce errors. Like advertising, have a call to action. Similar to news headlines, or advertisements, marketers should have a call to action or a reason for a journalist to take interest in what the story is about. The subject line is the perfect place for calling the journalist to action.146 Next question. Terrell Owens has not had much success with this and neither do marketers. When businesses reply with “No Comment” or “I don’t know” this type of reply appears incriminating. Business professionals and marketers are better to reply with comments like, “Let me check on that,” or “I’m not sure, I’ll get back to you.”147 Remove techno jargon and buzzwords. Industry-specific terms and buzzwords will send the average reader into OZ. Even the New York Times is written at a comprehension level for an eleven year old reader. Keep the message simple so everyone can understand the proposition.148 Respect the time and pressure on a journalist. Many journalists are under extreme time constraints. Phone calls should be quick and acknowledge the time pressure journalists are under. The better a marketer takes care of a journalist, the better the journalist will take care of the marketer.149

Quantifying Public Relations Like any marketing function, businesses like to know what amount of the funding going into a program is producing results. In the public relations sector, measuring

Laermer, p. 119. Laermer, p. 121. 145 Guinlven, p. 6. 146 Margo Mateas, July 2005, “Advice on Pitching and working with the media.” Public Relations Tactics Vol. 12, Issue 7, p. 7. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 147 Laermer, p. 121. 148 Laermer, p. 123. 149 Guinlven, p. 6.
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common results can be somewhat difficult. Public relations take much more time than advertising to produce results, and with public relations, results simply do not happen overnight. Publicity messages are for long term and introductive communications, not as a quick marketing fix.150 Businesses running publicity campaigns must first educate the organization that the publicity campaign is fundamentally different than advertising. To begin quantifying any publicity campaign’s success or failure, organizations, in developing their programs, should set objectives that correlate to their corporate objectives.151 When the objectives for a publicity program are clear, organizations can use the following measurements to better gauge the success of their programs: • • • • • • The number of stories appearing in key publications. The number of people that attend a special event. Number of press releases appearing in online media. The increase in web traffic, quantified by linking sources in reporting. The money saved compared to an advertising campaign with similar exposure. Number overall number of consumers exposed to the brand by the program.152

Overall, public relations offer an alternative to disruptive business communication and bring much flexibility to an organization’s communication strategies. Today, as other media, such as conventional advertising, have become evermore saturated, publicity offers organizations a solid foundation on which to build brands or a valid support integrated into their advertising campaigns. When Sparkplugging, marketers should not

Laermer, p. 210. Kerry Martinek, July 2005, “Safeguarding your PR measurement budget: How to effectively show value,” Public Relations Tactics Vol. 12, Issue 7, p. 20. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 152 John Pilmar, July 2005, “Small business? How to measure for success,” Public Relations Tactics Vol. 12, p. 23. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
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become over involved in quantifiable metrics either, using methods of measurement, or of market research. Instead they should understand proper usage of both options.

Marketing Research
With thousands of marketing research firms in the United States. Marketing research as a practice has been well accepted for years, however widely accepted marketing research is one of the weakest tools a Sparkplugging brand can use when exploring the new brand or market. In Sparkplugging, the fundamental problem with marketing research is that observation alone affects behavior of people. The Hawthorne plant studies first proved this idea by proving that the changing of light intensity alone affected worker productivity because the workers felt the attention paid to them. When organizations use direct surveys and focus groups the results are weak, at best, for a few reasons. First, when clients feel like guests, they are not likely to insult a brand; therefore, they will commonly give an average rating at worst. Secondly, when prospects are directly surveyed, employees are aware and their behaviors change, thereby affecting the overall customer experience. For this reason, direct surveying often produces worthless results. Both parties are aware of the research and their behavior changes.153 Written surveys tend to produce misleading data because most written surveys contain hypothetical questions. Such hypothetical questions are those that also contain hypothetical time and money. This research commonly produces results about what consumers may do with hypothetical time and money, but it has little to do with how consumers will spend in reality.

153

Beckwith, p. 7.

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The second issue with written surveys is that they often contain “Would you like” questions. The common “Would you like” questions usually deal with highly innovative products that the subject does not understand and produce two typical results. The first common result in this case takes place when the subjects have no idea what the idea is, much less whether or not they would like it. Many consumers have limited imaginations; therefore, survey results on innovative products or services are typically misleading because most responders answer with “no,” and “no” is not a very meaningful answer.154 The second reason surveys of this type produce misleading data is that the more innovative the idea, the more uncomfortable the respondent will feel. Most people resist change, and because they resist change, they will often resist the idea.155 Did any consumers know they wanted an iPod before the product was released? Finally, researchers often tend to find what they are looking for, no matter of the method or sample. When research has a predisposition or is looking for particular information, it is often found because researchers lose their ability to see other information from the research, especially information that could contradict or draw other conclusions. Research simply confirms most biases and convictions hiding the truth.156 Research often supports average ideas and stops great ideas. The more rejection from research, often, the more potential success for the idea.157

Section Summary
Sparkplugging a new brand on a limited budget is a difficult task. Many large firms fail with huge budgets, so the odds are against sparkpluggers. Marketers and

154 155

Beckwith, p. 10. Beckwith, p. 11. 156 Beckwith, p. 8. 157 Beckwith, p. 11.

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business professionals Sparkplugging brands must keep focus on their category and remain consistent in introducing the new brand. Public relations are a great tool to tell a story that can travel at the speed of light in modern times via media like the Internet. In developing the promotion strategy while Sparkplugging, it is important to remember that the return on investment when funds are allocated using advertising versus public relations. The next section, Internet marketing, introduces a set of best practices and the relevancy of the Internet when building, promoting, and Sparkplugging a brand. The Internet offers great opportunity for brands looking to jumpstart their existence and almost immediately allows small firms with fixed budgets global visibility. When Sparkplugging, the Internet, like most media when Sparkplugging, takes laser focus and introduces risks; however, the Internet can be the best friend of a new brand when executed correctly.

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Chapter 3: Internet Marketing
The birth of the Internet in the early 1990s has fundamentally changed the way all businesses compete. The Internet is now creating a paradigm shift in advertising for businesses and their brands.158 The Internet has empowered consumers with mass amounts of information at near the speed of light, and at the same time cluttered their worlds with more disruptive marketing. Research varies today, but it is estimated that the average consumer is exposed to between 1,500 and 3,000 marketing messages a day among billboards, telemarketers, TV, radio, and the Internet.159 With the proliferation of disruptive advertising and the influence of the Internet, marketers are now using both offensive and defensive tactics to increase consumer talk time of their brands.160 Today seventy-five percent of all Americans have access to the Internet, and because of this access, the Internet is rapidly becoming the media of choice for both advertising agencies and entrepreneurs.161 Of this seventy-five percent of Americans with access to the Internet, 92.7 percent cite the Internet as their primary source for information on items they plan to purchase, 87 percent have made or have plans to use the Internet to complete their purchases, and 73 percent say that Internet forums and messages boards influence their buying decisions.162

Gross, p. 40 Mitch Meyerson, 2005, Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars (Chicago, IL: Kaplan Publishing.), p. 35. 160 Mohr and Chiagouris, p. 51. 161 Joseph Jaffe, 2005, Life after the 30-Second Spot: Energize Your Brand with a Bold Mix of Alternatives to Traditional Advertising (Hoboken, NJ : John Wiley and Sons, Inc.), p. 110. 162 Todd Horne, October 2005, “Internet appeal offers new sales avenue,” Aftermarket Business, Vol. 115, Issue 10, p. 11. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
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In the new market or age of the Internet, the number one reason consumers go online is to obtain information.163 Juniper Media Matrix, an Internet research company, found that 28 percent of consumers go to a search engine and type the product’s name as a search query when they are looking to purchase a product online.164 Marketers today must embrace this “search” reasoning when developing market strategy for the World Wide Web. Because web search gains exposure, marketers need to understand that web searchers are not random visitors, and that they are often actively seeking a specific product or service.165 Sparkplugging embraces the Internet as a medium to introduce and grow new brands. Businesses and marketers alike must obtain an Internet presence if they want to compete for any sustainable future. The Internet has grown beyond a source for information and become a source for mass commerce. Large and small organizations can benefit from Internet marketing with even the most basic presence. For example, MSN now reaches more people on a daily basis than the top U.S. newspapers combined, and iVillage.com reaches 14,819,000 more people than Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines.166 Additionally, according to searchenginewatch.com among the major search engines, Internet users perform about 213 million searches daily. Of this 213 million, 91 million are with Google, while Yahoo and MSN are in second and third places with 60 and 28 million daily searches respectively.167 With the growth in the ability to reach the masses,
Meyerson, p. 23. Shari Thurow, 2003, Search Engine Visibility (Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.), p. 10. 165 Thurow, p. 10. 166 Jaffe, p. 112. 167 ClickZ, 2006, Searches Per Day [Internet, WWW, Computer Program], Available: ClickZ, Incisive Media Plc., 270 Lafayette Street, Ste. 700, New York, NY, 10012; ADDRESS: http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2156461 [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
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businesses and marketers are now looking to the Internet as a valid form of advertising. In 2000, Internet-based companies accounted for 69 percent of web marketing; however, in a study conducted by Forrester Research, the results predicted that traditional business advertisers would account for 84 percent of web advertising by year-end 2005.168 Part of the reason the Internet is growing faster than any other medium is the interactivity it offers the prospect. Businesses today must understand and embrace this fact and use the interaction the Internet offers to their advantage. As seen in figure 3.1, radio only has sound, print has only sight, television combines sound and sight; however, the fourth medium, the Internet, interactivity with both sight and sound.

Fiona Ross, May 2001, “Make the most of Web Marketing,” Ziff Davis Smart Business Vol. 14, Issue 5, p. 64. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.

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Figure 3.1: Advertising and User Involvement. SOURCE: Jaffe, p.119. Internet Marketing Advantages There are key strategic advantages to those who embrace the new world of Internet marketing, but those who fail to adapt remove themselves from the opportunity of a hypercompetive-growing mass marketplace. Industries that have not yet begun their adoption of Internet marketing have the most to gain, for many businesses fear this new way of strategic marketing. Like the idea of market positioning, to be first in the mind in a new category, an organization that is first to market or to the Internet has the best chance of winning the mind of the customer in that category. This rule has fallen true with current brands like Dell, Amazon, and iTunes. What is known about these category leaders, other than that they were first in their respective category? Of these Internet giants, none of them

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developed a new or revolutionary product or service; instead they only changed the experience or delivery with soft changes to an existing category. Dell, Amazon, and iTunes all found a new medium to execute their marketing and business strategies. The Internet allowed these firms to grow quickly while their competition ignored it. At present, several markets are being “Amazon’ed” because their leadership wants to run the organization the way they did in the 1980s. Many business owners cite their reasons as something along the lines “because that is how we do business.” Fortunately, many businesses that buy into that type of thinking today are not performing well and will most likely not sustain growth. Conventional thinking has changed with the introduction of the Internet. For example, look at the book market: “Why would someone buy a book on the Internet when they can’t even sample it?” or “Nobody would ever purchase an automobile on the Internet because it cannot be test-driven.” It’s safe to say that when an organization’s marketing is stuck in the past, often their profitability is also a thing of the past. The Internet has opened the world up to a new information sharing market where consumers are typically educated and know what they want. Business, especially small to medium or new businesses and those Sparkplugging, must start acting on the opportunity of the Internet and stop competing like they did in the 1980s and capitalize on the opportunity of the Internet before their competition does.

Building a Web Presence
Sparkplugging a company or brand on the Internet does not mean an organization must instantly list all of its products online with a full service e-commerce shopping cart, nor must they accept credit card payment for sales of their widgets. What an organization

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must understand is the opportunity the Internet brings to its business. For example, if an organization manufactures large bottling machines, maybe having a web presence stating, “Hey we're out here, and yes we do that,” is enough; alternatively, maybe it’s not. What an organization must first find out is how its prospects are looking for their type of products online; if they can reinvent a business process in this example, maybe they should pursue selling spare parts online. Consumers today can almost find information about anything on the web, even with the most obscure businesses or products. If the business is unique, the site will take less effort in keyword research and optimization because the category is less populated with competition. Markets must consider several factors in choosing to expand their business to the Internet. The four main considerations in developing an online presence include domain names, site development, online branding, and site promotion. Domain Names Web presence starts with a domain name, also known as a URL or Universal Resource Locator. Many domain names are as simple as www.companyname.com; others are much more complex, placing keywords in the domain name as a form of site optimization or positioning. Many small to medium enterprises today find that their companies’ names may already be taken when searching for a domain name so they must search for an alternative domain name. There are several domain name registrars that are helpful in searching for a domain name on the web. Domain name registrars hold a domain name that can be used for a variable amount of time for a fee. Common domain registrars include www.godaddy.com, www.register.com, and www.networksoluitons.com. Most registrars are pretty much the same; however, some

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differentiate by offering lower prices while others attempt other value add-ons; however, almost any registrar will get the job done. Many registrars also suggest some alternate names if the specific name an organization is being searched for is taken. Domain Name Selection Some search engine marketers select domain names as a way to add keywords to a site. For example, many search engine marketers feel that typing a keyword like “ford” into a search engine, the URL containing the word “ford” is likely to list before any others. The idea or methodology of placing keywords in a domain name or URL is not proven to increase site or page relevancy to a search. Many marketers become frustrated when they find their company name is taken and fail to realize that many people searching the web use search engines instead of directly typing in a URL when they are browsing the web. If a company name is taken, businesses should start to look for keywords or search engine input of their offering. For example, a computer networking service company in Chicago, IL, may use a domain name “computernetworkingchicago.com”. The reason using a domain name like this example versus a derivative of the company name is that the website will now have a URL keyword advantage that may place better in search results for the keywords “computer”, “networking,” and “Chicago.” Other than using keywords in URLs, the other advantage of a descriptive domain name is that it explains the service performs. Website Development Because the web is constantly evolving, so should an organization's website be evolving as well. The Internet contains much duplicate content, and search engines like Google are starting to reward webmasters for fresh unique content. A good practice for

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businesses is to add roughly one page of fresh content per day.169 It can be said that customers used to judge an organization’s health by the size or upkeep of their building. Now the same can be said about an organization’s website; however, most customers never see an organization’s physical building. There are five basic concepts that help in developing an online web marketing presence: simplicity, design, content, user involvement, and speed. Simplicity Websites should be simple; they should have clear text, relevant graphics, and a clean layout. Research shows that when consumers are presented with too much choice, they become confused and leave a website.170 Furthermore, research has also found that the convenience or simplicity of a website directly affects the prospect’s purchasing amounts and duration of time viewing the site.171 Therefore, each page should be simple and targeted toward one topic. Such spark-like focus on a specific topic may later increase a site’s relevancy on a specific subject, thereby, increasing its ability to drive specific qualified traffic from search engines naturally. Design Websites should not be about showing pictures of an organization’s building, flashy graphics, or animations, because websites are about content. The content of a website is what search engines match to search engine queries. With this in mind, organizations should minimize excessive use of flash animation, buttons, music, and images from the

Tara Calishain, and Rael Dornfest, 2003, Google Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools (Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly.), p. 420. 170 Meyerson, p. 27. 171 Wen-Jungl Chen, September 2005, “The Impact of Web Site Image and Consumer Personality on Consumer Behavior,” International Journal of Management, Vol. 22, Issue 3, p. 490. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.

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existing website. Over-animated or graphical sites often frustrate users, harm basic site navigation, impair the chances for a site to be indexed by search engines, and cause the site to load slower. Additionally, when websites contain too many images, they often load slowly, and the over-usage of images can confuse users because their eyes cannot find a clear landing point on the page.172 This does not mean that an organization cannot have a great looking site; however, this point is to emphasize that unless the organization requires such features, remaining simple for the sake of usability and speed is often better. Marketers to understand that a site should not have a lot of animation for the sake of speed and usability, but the site must appear professional and clean. Designers and marketers must find a balance for the sake of users and search engines; this balance consists of content and art. Because many consumers judge a site within the first three seconds of opening it, the balance between design and content is critical.173 Pages should be simple, focused, clean, and easy to navigate for users. When site designers fail to please users, the users often become confused and leave the site. Most sites do not benefit from animation, and if the site must contain many graphics or images, they should be relevant. Alternate text tags should be used to describe the pictures incase they do not appear in a browser, thereby, helping the user with site search optimization and site usability. Marketers and designers should also keep away from a home page landing that offers a designer’s dream “animated intro page” because web surfers want information quickly, and this type of page typically contains little to no

Lisa Spinelli, October 2005, “Effective Web sites proving a valuable marketing tool,” Accounting Today, Vol. 19, Issue 18, p. 23. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 173 Meyerson, p. 26.

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content for search engines to read.174 Another factor regarding images is that marketers must understand that graphics and images increase page load times, and web surfers typically demand website speed.175 When images are used, the pictures should also be optimized to reduce file sizes in order to keep the site’s pages loading quickly. Content The Internet is built of text and links. The reason most users visit a website is to read the content; therefore, marketers should be aware that content is the critical mass for a website and later search engine optimization. To interact with the user, websites should focus on unique, fresh, and deliberate content. A website should have compelling, fresh, and interesting content. The content should give the visitor a reason to want to bookmark the website.176 A website’s pages should contain specialized targeted content, on a per page basis. It also is advisable to have a page per subject or a page per product. Content is the most important component to any website because it tells the user an idea of what the organization or brand does, and it gives search engines a way to match web surfers’ searches to a site. Search engines work by indexing and storing a site’s content; later they match this text with the text they have stored in their database. They then match relevancy of content amongst other things to product search results. In writing website content, marketers should be aware that they need to use clear statements with the same keywords that a customer may use to find the organization,
Chris Pearse, April/May 2003, “Web Marketing - - The Basics,” Engineering Management, Vol. 13 Issue 2, p10. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 175 Hillary Bressler, September 2001, “Make Your Web Marketing Click,” Credit Union Management Vol. 24, Issue 9, p. 56. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 176 Diane Anderson, Summer 2005, “The Customer Connection: Understanding how to appeal to your niche audience with both substance and style is important if you want to be a successful affiliate site,” Revenue The Performance Marketing Standard Vol. 2, p. 84. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
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product, service, or brand. Businesses should avoid long paragraphs and break down information into snippets on all pages. It is recommended that the maximum size of a paragraph should not be greater than three sentences for a standard webpage. Every page on the site should only have one subject except for the homepage. The more focused a site, the better the page will rank in the search engines because of the extreme relevance of the content. Marketers should also not substitute graphics for heading tags because text in all headings is readable by a search engine where text in an image is not. In the case of sites or businesses selling products on the web, marketers must understand the natural impatience of web surfers. If a site is attempting to sell a product to a prospect via the web, all information regarding that product should be listed on the product page. When web surfers are required to skip around to other pages for details, they are prone to leave the site.177 User Involvement Many sites are quite successful at attracting new prospects, and they may even have great design and content; however, they fail to get the consumer involved. Unlike many forms of marketing, websites have the power to interact with each prospect on an individual basis. Research has found that there is a direct correlation between a user’s involvement and his or her intent to purchase.178 Organizations should allow consumers to sign up for a newsletter, enter a contest, review a page or product, or join a newsgroup. Any way an organization can find to get the prospect involved is a way for the marketer to stay in the mind of the prospect, for involvement helps to keep users coming back to a

Jim Rapoza, February 2005, “Good Web design pays dividends,” EWeek, Vol. 22, Issue 9, p. 54. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 178 Chen, Wen-Jungl, p. 491.

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site. Online marketing should be “give-and-take”; the site should give something away in turn for the customer’s business.179 Speed Many web designers feel, and for good reason, that speed is the most important attribute of a website. Statistically, a site response that takes greater than three to four seconds loses roughly 10 percent of web surfers and roughly an additional 10 percent per second after that.180 To make sure a site loads fast, it is important to review the site’s design. Ways to keep pages loading quickly include reducing image file sizes, reducing unnecessary animation, and limiting use of sound unless absolutely necessary.

Search Engine Optimization
A few fundamental inputs are required for a user to search the Internet. Understanding these terms, differences, and ideas are the premise for search engine optimization, which became almost an $8 billion dollar business by 2005, up 15 percent from 2004.181 How and when a company is found in search engine results is determined by many variables, including the amount of traffic the site receives, content to search relevancy, keyword density, keyword prominence, link popularity, and topic focus on a certain product or service. For marketers, search engine placement in the top five results is almost as important as being in the top three listings for a relevant category in a Yellow Pages directory. Often, if a business is not in the top five search results they are out of luck when it comes to attracting customers via search results.182 Where a business falls in search results can also create a lot of perceptions in the mind of the consumer, including
179 180

Meyerson, p. 27. Calishain and Dornfest, p. 413. 181 Gross, p. 40. 182 Jaffe, p. 236.

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those of category or brand leadership. There are three fundamental ways of finding an organization on the Internet. The first method is to type in the site URL into a web browser like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox, or Apple’s Safari. The second is to use a web directory like Yahoo. The third is to use a search engine like Google. There are basically two types of search engines found on the Internet today. The first type started by listing websites in directories so people could find a site on a topic for which they were looking even if they did not know the site’s name. This solution is called a directory. Directories on the web were organized much like a phone book’s Yellow Pages. An example of a popular web directory is Yahoo! found at www.yahoo.com. This solution still works; however, it has become more difficult to maintain because directories are human reviewed and the information on the web is fast growing. For this reason, search engine software was initially developed to crawl, index, and rank search queries on the web automatically. The second type of search engines use software called spiders, which essentially treat the Internet like a very large database. The spiders, or crawlers, bounce around the Internet following links, ultimately placing their content in the search engine’s database. The spiders read and index text while crawling the web, and this text is used to generate results for terms entered into a search engine. The goal is to get a spider to the site as often as the content changes. If a spider recognizes that content frequently changes, it is more likely to update its index of the site more often. Some marketers believe they can tell a spider how often to index a site or particular page using a Meta-Revisit tag. The truth is that no programmer can force a spider to do anything; frankly, spiders typically

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ignore this tag.183 A spider works by starting at a site that was recently linked by a popular site or submitted for indexing. As the spider works its way around the Internet following links it collects information about each site it visits. When the spider has enough information about a site, it is then able to offer information about the site in search results. Most search results are based on content relevance, keywords, popularity, and inbound links to a given site. The goal for marketers is to have their site appear in the top of search engine results or rankings; therefore, search engine optimization is the craft of tuning a site to obtain more visibility by search engines. At present, two major competitors, Yahoo and Google, handle most web searches. Although MSN is truly attempting to break into the market with MSN Live, it is still significantly behind in the daily number of searches. Understanding the roles both major search engines play in marketing is critical for a successful Internet marketing strategy. Search Results After a user types a search query into a search engine the search engine will output matching or relevant websites to the user. This listing of results is pulled from the database of indexed, or snapshot, content from the spider’s last crawl of the web. The results are derived from the keywords that were indexed from the site’s content. The search engine then matches the content of the query to its database. After content is matched, the search engine evaluates additional information about each matching site, such as page ranking, links and site popularity, the density of the matching content, and the prominence of the matching content. Search results and the order by which they are ranked vary from search engine to
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Thurow, p. 80.

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search engine because many search engines have their own algorithm for displaying matching results. What a user finds on the first page of results on Google may not match what is found on Yahoo or MSN. The results in a search may also be different for several other factors, such as the geography of the user searching. The results may also depend on which server the search is queried to, for most search engines consist of thousands of servers and different databases of information. Because of these factors, search optimization firms cannot guarantee placement in results; they can only increase the probability of a site having prominence in search results.184 Search engine results can be confusing for many web surfers because search engines display advertising or paid results along with natural results on a single page. The figures below show each area or results in the common search engines, Google, Yahoo, and MSN.

184

Thurow p. 228.

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Figure 3.2: Search Engine Results. SOURCE: Google Inc., 2005, Polycom IP500 – Google Search – [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA, 94043; ADDRESS: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Polycom+IP500&btnG=Search [Accessed: 7 October 2004]. The Importance of Search Engine Optimization Search is one of the best ways for prospects to find a business of which they are unaware. Because prospects searching the web are already actively looking for specific products and services, search is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to a new business.185 A consumer searching for specific keywords also means that they are searching for something highly targeted and are most likely more motivated to buy and a
Yahoo! Inc., 2007, Key Statistics [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: Yahoo! Inc., 701 First Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA, 94089; ADDRESS: http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/srch/keystats.php [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student’s possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
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standard web surfer following links from one site to another. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not an add-on for a website, nor is it something that can be added to a poorly developed site. SEO focuses on achieving above average results in natural search results found in common search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Natural search refers to search engine results that appear without payment from an organization. SEO or search engine optimization has been the talk of marketers for some time because many feel that conventional methods of advertising like TV, radio, and print are loosing their effectiveness. When a website is search engine optimized, the site has the ability to attract naturally millions of visitors, depending on search criteria and demand. SEO primarily deals with a website’s content and code and how the spiders or software that indexes the web used by search engines will index and rank a particular website. The History of SEO Search Engine Optimization Historically, to have a poorly designed website with irrelevant content appear prominent in search engine rankings was possible. Unfortunately, oftentimes a truly relevant site did not appear in search results because unethical webmasters and marketers took the best positions. A marketer’s or Webmaster’s intentional attempt to trick a search engine into ranking an irrelevant site is commonly considered search engine spamming, or SPAM. The cause of many of the search engine’s spam problems was inexperience and new technology used by search engine designers. In the period from 1993 to about 2000, the Internet grew at such a rapid rate that it was often difficult for search engines to keep up with indexing of existing web pages, much less factor and calculate the true relevancy

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of a particular search topic. In the early days of search engines, many search engines like hotbot.com relied on a site’s meta tags, which are tags manually entered by the programmer. Because the tags could be modified, they often fell victim to spamming. Meta Tags In an age in which search engines were not intelligent enough to understand what a site was about by only indexing its content, they relied heavily on Meta tags. Meta tags were designed to give a search engine a general description of the page's theme or content. The problem with Meta tags was that programmers could write in any terms they wanted, leaving the search engine at the mercy of the keyword or content suggestion by the programmer. Eventually web designers found ways of overloading the frequency of keywords in Meta tags to make a page look relevant to a search topic, when, indeed, it was not. As Meta tags were losing creditability, search engine designers had to find a way to again best index the content of the Internet. The next idea was to use existing Meta tags but to check for overloading of keywords. For a while, this method seemed to work because several search engines were able to calculate frequency of keywords and detect spamming. As search engines became more intelligent, they started looking at both the content of a page and its Meta tags to check the consistency and relevancy of the page. Again, this practice was ruined for most by the unethical practices of other marketers and webmasters. Knowing the practices of search engines, web developers, looking at such algorithms, decided they could hide keywords in the background of sites or create what is called a “doorway page” that flashed up momentarily before the real site is loaded. Sometimes doorway pages were even used to even display a different page to the search

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engine, again to gain search position by spamming. Modern Search Engine Optimization There are several reasons for the build of today’s search engines, many of which result from mistakes in the past and the past inabilities for the common web surfer to find relevant information. Today organizations like Google, Yahoo, and MSN fight the daily clutter, or as Google would say the “evil” practices of many marketers and webmasters. The goal for search engine designers today is to create the most accurate index of the Internet’s content based on the site’s relevancy, popularity, and content. Today each search engine company approaches SEO a little different; however, fundamentally, they are somewhat the same in their approach by targeting Google, the leader in search engine traffic. This approach is why many highly ranking sites rank well across all search engines. The primary weight for ranking results is no longer on meta tags but on criteria like keyword frequency, site or page popularity, page name, number of pages linking to the site, or overall site traffic. There are several tactical approaches that can be taken in today’s search engine optimization. A list of key factors include • • • • • • • Site content (uniqueness) Meta tags Keyword Density Keyword prominence Number of inbound links Site to topic popularity Keywords in the URL i.e. http://www.searchengineoptimization.com/seo A well-built, search-optimized website typically will target one or several different search engines by site design. Because each search engine weighs ranking factors differently, both organizations and site builders must understand where their prospective customers search for products or the services that the products have to offer. Because of

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overall popularity, many marketers choose to target Google’s search engine specifically because of its raw popularity amongst web surfers. Designing a Search Engine Friendly Site Search-optimized web design is somewhat different from what most individuals view as common, or artsy, web design. In the past few years, several developers have focused much of their development around programs like Macromedia’s Flash and JavaScript because these programs help a site look nice. Although tools like these are beneficial and do help the appearance of a site, they have some major drawbacks because search engines often cannot index the content embedded in using these programming and development languages. Web developers and marketers alike should realize that if the site does not contain useful content. People and search engines will not read it. If the site does not contain text, the search engine has no way to match the site to search queries. When search engines have nothing with which to match the query to site, they do not list the site. Oftentimes, the better a website appears graphically, the more unfriendly it is for search engines to read. Although graphic artists can control the way text looks using graphics, search engines cannot see what a picture says or see what the picture looks like. Telling a search engine what is displayed in a picture is performed through image alt tags; however, the search engine cannot be certain of the image. Therefore, the alt text scores lower than plain text. The same rules also apply to links because search engines cannot read a graphic button other than its alt tag. Many developers do as they are told, and marketing often tells them to make the site more graphically appealing and to animate it. Marketers need to realize the true value

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in a site is the content or the written copy on the site. Designers and markets alike should understand the balance between website graphic usability and content readable by the search engines. Key Practices of SEO Web Design When developing a search optimized website, developers and marketers alike must be on the same page. Modern search optimization has several commonly accepted practices. Alternatively, there are also several practices that can damper the optimization of a site. Commonly search optimization practices include nine key factors all addressing, copy, links, and images. Text-Based Content If the text copy on a site is not keyed as text, the spider or bot cannot read it: therefore, a site should contain as much relevant text and content as possible and do not use pictures with text because search engines cannot read a word embedded in a picture. They can only read the alt tag, which is scored lower than pure text. If images are a must, always use alt tags to describe the picture to the search engine in order to help with website’s usability.186 Text Links and Buttons Button animation should be completed in a style sheet using CSS. Often many developers choose to use JavaScript or Flash for unique button animation or to control the look of fonts across browsers because with such practices, search engines have difficulty following links inside Flash and JavaScript code. Alternatively, text links carry much value to a search engine and are easy for the spider to read.187

186 187

Thurow, p. 98. Thurow, p. 104.

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Valid HTML It is important for all sites to follow the standards and to use HTML code, not only for support across browsers and platforms but also to make it easy for the spiders to read the site. Designers should be careful not to use HTML hacks to modify layout results because they may confuse the spider and impair its ability to index the site. Developers should validate their HTML using web based HTML validation tools. Code validation tools are available online at: http://validator.w3.org/ Simple Page Layout Not all browsers or computers are created equally; therefore, it is important for designers to keep the layout simple while supporting lower resolutions of older platforms. Fresh Content Content is critical to keep users and spiders visiting a site. Webmasters should keep their keywords dense, relevant, and prominent because content is what is matched by the search engine to produce search results. To figure a page’s keyword density, simply divide the keyword or keyword phrase by the total number of words on the page.188 Keyword Prominence Title and heading tags serve two core purposes. First, heading and title tags are a good place for a page’s keywords because they are prominent and weighted heavily by search engines. To further a site’s heading and title tag optimization, make sure these words are prominent and appear at the beginning of the paragraph in bold, italic, and underline if possible. Do not just repeat the keyword; find ways to use it in ways people may search in search engines. The second core purpose for title and heading tags are that search engines, such as
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Thurow, p. 85.

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Google, commonly use these tags when listing results to a search query. Descriptive tags that communicate what the page is about will help to gain clicks from search results in search engines. Many marketers forget that search optimization is not only about listing in search results; it is also about getting people to click on the listing in the search results. Doorway Pages Do not use doorway pages, gateway pages, or hallway pages.189 Because people used these types of pages to redirect web surfers and most importantly crawlers, most crawlers will leave the site when they see this type of activity.190 Spamming Keywords Keyword spamming includes attempting to hide keywords or links in the background or in small text. Keyword spamming can also include abnormal levels of keyword frequency on the page or in tags. Keyword spamming can cause a site to be removed from a search engine’s index.191 Meta Tags Meta tags are often no longer used by most search engines for keywords or exclusively for page relevance. Instead, webmasters should save their time and write more content. If Meta tags are used, they should only give a basic description of what the page is about. Webmasters should use focused titles that resemble the content. Keywords Selecting and determining what keywords to use on a specific site or page can be a difficult task for marketers and webmasters. In the beginning the process of keyword selection, marketers must get inside the minds of the prospects. When marketers start to
189 190

Thurow, p. 227. Calishain and Dornfest, p. 420. 191 Thurow, p. 223.

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think how the prospects will search for their offering or the offering from competitors, they can start to develop keywords and phrases searchers may use. After a preliminary list of keywords and phrases are generated, there are some helpful tools for keyword analysis and research, such as the Overture Keyword Selector Tool found at: http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/ and the Google Adwords selection tool found at: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Keyword selection tools are useful when marketers are stuck, or if they are looking to expand their reach using search marketing. When performing keyword research, it is in the best interest of marketers to find what consumers are looking for when they are looking for a specific product or service instead of blindly picking their own keywords or phrases.192 Links Links serve many purposes, including directing users and spiders to a website; however, not all links are created equally. Some inbound links can actually hurt a site. Typically links that are inbound to a site cannot, so to speak, hurt the way the site is ranked in search engines. Linking to “link farms” or “bad neighborhoods” can adversely affect a website’s rankings. Webmasters should be careful when linking to other sites because their reputation and relevancy to the page to which they are linking can adversely affect the linking site. Popularity Site popularity is typically calculated by search engines using the number of visitors, click through percentages, and inbound links to a site. Site popularity is factored
Gerry McGoldrick, July 2003, “Searching for the Right Key Words,” Pharmaceutical Executive, Vol. 23, Issue 7, p. 107. A copy of this article is in the student's possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.
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into search engine algorithms because it is assumed that people will not link to or visit substandard websites. Popularity can be easily verified when searching for a specific keyword and finding that the top rankings are less keyword dense or prominent than their competitors although they still rank above more keyword rich sites.

Website Promotion
The web is growing every day, and consumers have more options than ever to find a competitor. Sparkplugging businesses promoting a site should look into all options because often natural search engine optimization alone is not enough. In formulating a web promotion strategy, marketers should factor and complement their current marketing positioning. Web promotion should extend past the Internet or website and back into the basic corporate communication. Furthermore, often forgotten key practices for a website’s promotion include listing the website in the yellow pages, on business cards, stationary, and in any advertising or public relations. The website should be a living part of the organization and should reflect its marketing.193 On the web, there are several avenues for promotion beyond natural search engine optimization, including pay per click advertising, banner ads, directories, affiliate programs, shopping engines, and paid search inclusion. With all these options available to marketers and with the click through rates of banner rates at only 0.4 percent, Internet marketing is moving to qualified search and search engine placement as the primary source of web marketing.194

193 194

Meyerson, p. 23. Ross, p. 64.

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Paid Per Click Advertising (PPC) With the growth and popularity of search engine marketing, businesses have also found great success by also using PPC campaigns to drive qualified leads to an organization's site. Pay-per-click allows organizations to bid on keyword search terms for placement in the search engine results. The results on pay per click vary on each search engine; however, they are usually visible with controlled descriptions from the bidder. PPC advertising began in 1998 with goto.com, which was then Overture.com, and is now Yahoo Sponsored Search. In the market today, there are over five hundred companies offering pay-per-click advertising solutions, leaving marketers a lot of choice in forming their pay per click strategy. The two primary players in this market today are Yahoo with Yahoo Sponsored Search and Google with Adwords. 195 Pay-per-click advertising works by directing relevant traffic to a site based off keywords a company bids on. Pay-per-click advertisements vary in placement, depending on the search engine. Some search engines place their pay-per-click advertisements closely to natural search results, but others, like Google and Yahoo display them slightly above search results and in the right navigation of their search engine under a heading stating “Sponsored Links.” The position of a pay-per-click ad varies depending on a couple factors: the amount paid for the ad and, in Google’s case, ad relevancy and how often the ad is clicked. Every time a web user clicks on an ad, the company is charged the rate they bid on the keyword that displayed in the advertisement. Pay-per-click ads are used for site traffic and are paid on visits, not on converted sales. It is important for marketers to understand these fees when tracking performance of their advertisements. Pay-per-click advertising is also convenient because markets can set a budget, and when
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Meyerson, p. 148.

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that budget is hit for a given period, the advertising will stop until funds are replenished or until that period expires. Many organizations set daily or monthly budgets in which the search placement tool will balance the ad flow over a selected period of time.

Figure 3.3: Yahoo! Sponsored Search. SOURCE: Yahoo! Inc., 2007, +markit, inc. Yahoo! Search Results – [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: Yahoo! Inc., 701 First Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA, 94089; ADDRESS: http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=UTF-8&p=%2Bmarkit%2C+inc. [Accessed: 21 July 2007]. Contrary to popular belief, pay-per-click advertising is cost effective. For example if an organization pays $0.10 per click through and the typical ad conversion rate is 1%, then for every $10.00 that is spent on PPC, a sale is converted. Now if the organization earns more than $10.00 profit from the sale, the ads are considered financially successful. Organizations must also take into effect the gained visibility in search engines, and the gained brand awareness of the other 99% of unconverted sales. Of this 99%, if 3% return to the site anytime to make a purchase, again the organization gains from PPC

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advertising. Another way in which an organization may gain but is commonly overlooked by advertisers is called a "life long customer." An organization should also weigh how much an average customer spends in his or her lifetime and look at addressing customer loyalty in order to maintain the relationship of this newly gained customer. Research PPC Keywords Understanding what terms the customer uses in looking for a particular product or service is fundamentally the most important step with Internet marketing. Organizations need to research and understand what keywords they want to own in order to attract business on the Internet. Many organizations bid on part numbers or very specific services, while other bid on their competitors’ products or services. The more specific the keyword, the better the chance for conversion; however, at times it may be best to go for more general keywords in order to attract attention or awareness to a site. Overture has a great tool to get an understanding of what consumers are searching along with derivative keyword data that are only one month behind. This keyword selection tool is found at http://inventory.overture.com. With a large budget, an organization should start with broad keywords in order to expand across the Internet. After traffic goals are reached, an organization should filter out specific keywords that are less successful and begin to optimize the funding on more successful keywords. A common mistake for first time bidders is overbidding on keywords: they should start low and work higher after verifying placement at a given rate. Much of the cost optimization regarding pay-per-click advertising is trial and error and should eventually paint a picture of what the competition is bidding for the same keywords and phrases. Another key strategy is to supplement natural search optimization,

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even when a keyword has top placement, in order to maximize exposure. Repetition is important in advertising. Often the more frequently the organization shows, the betterperceived product or creditability. Writing an Effective Description in a PPC Ad Web marketing takes advertising “back to basics” because all ads need to have a unique call to action. Ads should have good descriptions and give the prospect a reason to click on the ad and ultimately take action. Because most PPC offerings allow the marketer to control the content, the content should be keep it short and to the point. Like common Sparkplugging methods in promotion, pay-per-click search marketing should not be about creativity. Because pay-per-click search marketing is limited to text, businesses must think in the mindset of the searcher themselves. This type of shopper has a very literal mindset rather than the abstract mindset of other media viewers.196 When writing pay-per-click ads, businesses should not use any creative copy; however, they should reaffirm the search term to show relevance of the search in order to increase click through percentages. Pay-per-click ads should have relevant landing pages, which are the pages the user is taken to when clicking on the ad. The more specific or relevant the landing pages for a particular ad, the better the conversion for that advertisement.197 Pay-Per-Click and Google Adwords Google’s Adwords work much differently than natural Google optimization does because marketers pay for placement in search results. Adwords allow marketers to target any keyword or phrase and display their content-controlled ad in the right hand

196 197

Jaffe, p. 234. Jaffe, p. 233.

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navigation of the search results. (See figure 3.4.) Adwords ads also have the ability to become syndicated to other Google featured sites when their click-through-rates achieve certain percentages relative to competitors. Syndication for Adwords ads can be both good and bad, depending on the product, service, call to action, or the type of sites on which the ad is syndicated. Google allows this feature to be turned off and on. Businesses should be careful in allowing their paid inclusion ads to syndicate to related pages, for several sites are now being built just to sell Adwords ads as their source of revenue.

Figure 3.4: Samples of Adwords in Google Search. SOURCE: Google Search Results. Modified by the author. Banner Ads Advertising first started on the web by use of banner ads, which were designed to be shown to users while they surfed websites. Banner ads were so popular and profitable for advertisers early in the days of the Internet that whole business models were developed just to sell banner advertising on the web. The idea of the banner ad, which is similar to a billboard, allowed the advertiser to pay a specific rate for a number of ad appearances; however, as time went on many

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advertisers learned that many people viewing or even clicking on the ads were not converting to sales as they expected. Internet Directory Advertising Directory sites have become very common on the Internet. Some sites charge for inclusion to their directories, and others do not. The benefit of listing with a directory is that many directories have many frequent users, and being listed for general search visibility and relevant linking is helpful. Additionally, if the directory is frequently spidered by search engines and is considered to be a quality link by a specific search engine, it can have a positive effect on the natural search optimization for the site. Common directories many successful sites list their business in include • Yahoo Directory - http://dir.yahoo.com • ODP - Open Directory Project www.dmoz.org • Google Directory - http://directory.google.com Webmasters should be careful to select the proper and best fitting category for the site, and they should submit only once. Improper categories or category spamming will prevent a site from being listed in a directory. Affiliate Programs Affiliate programs, or “associate programs,” essentially are reseller channels that refer traffic to a business where the affiliate is paid for converted sales. 198Affiliate programs are a great way to increase relevant traffic to a website, promoting sales instead of traffic like pay-per-click. An affiliate program by design is in place to link relevant visitors from one site that may not sell a specific product to a site that does and earn the webmaster a commission by doing so. Affiliate programs are especially rewarding when Sparkplugging brands because they only pay when a sale or specific action is taken.
198

Meyerson, p. 182.

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There are two common types affiliate programs. The first is an outsourced service and the second option is for an organization to build their own. Paid Affiliate Program Services Paid affiliate program services pay a referrer for a click through that results in a sale or specific action. The delivery of the referral is commonly produced through either e-mail or website links. Affiliate programs pay the referrer a commission for a clickthrough that results in a sale. Common commissions range from five percent to fifty percent of the sale. Most often, the better the compensation, the more likely a company or service will want to join the affiliate program. Some of the more established outsourced affiliate programs on the web include Commission Junction and Performics. Most brands that sparkplug do not use either of these services because they typically only take on clients that spent in excess of $10,000 a month. Typically, paid affiliate services are a great way to increase sales of an organization’s product or service. When using a paid service, more often than not, the seller and the service will have the same interest, which is converted sales, and will help position products in the best areas on the web for sales conversion. Affiliate programs can, however, become impractical if an organization sells in a very niche market where they cannot meet a minimum requirement of sales volume or if they cannot afford the commissions, such as commodities which may only be a starting margin of less than five percent. In addition to paying for a sale conversion, some services will charge a small rate for each click through and a premium rate for a converted sale. The difficulty with such services is that often an organization does not receive high quality links, thus resulting in

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more traffic to a site but not as great as a sales conversion ratio. The other downfall is that the organization is left paying for traffic instead of converted sales. Paying for click through when building an affiliate program often defeats the purpose of the affiliate program that is focused on sales. Building an In-House Affiliate Program Building an in-house affiliate program takes quite a bit of planning and programming; however, when completed, if executed well, the program can create a great level of return for an organization. In-house affiliate programs are typically the best option for brands looking to sparkplug. Building an in-house affiliate program must first start with the design of a business concept. The organization must ask itself what is it willing to pay for commission and what is the incentive for someone to join the program. Finally, if the organization is designing an in-house program, it is possible to pay a higher commission because the middle-man is removed from the equation. Additionally considerations must be factored like the cost of development or third party software. Competing with common paid affiliate programs is often difficult, for businesses must find affiliate partner organizations on their own. To overcome this difficulty, inhouse affiliate programs must confirm to two things. First, they must be easy to implement for the webmaster of a given site, allowing them administrative functions, such as reporting and pay scheduling. The second factor is that the program must pay to its advantage for the inconvenience of not using the major brand. If the organization is large, the organization can limit the number of affiliates that will be setup, thereby, giving them advantage and higher returns on the program as the program gains exclusivity. Sometimes organizations can setup win-win affiliate programs by promoting

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one another for similar products that each do not offer. An organization that offers an affiliate program should clearly display the affiliate program’s offering on the homepage of the site. Additionally, user account setup should be automated to allow a user of interest to join quickly with very few hang-ups. Other than a link from the homepage, the offering to join as an affiliate should be offered to customers, vendors, and indirect competitors of those organizations that understand and can promote the program best. Affiliate programs are also a great way for Sparkplugging advertisements before taking them to a larger medium like Yahoo or Google. A small business can use an affiliate program to test the conversion on several different advertisements, and once the test is completed and if any of the ads are performing at a rate that can be afforded by a larger scale, the company can select that ad and run it larger scale.199 Shopping Engines Shopping engines are websites that are dedicated to the listing and review of online merchants. For almost all online stores, it is critical to have placement in at least one shopping engine. Shopping engines help sites gain exposure, and they often enable merchants to compete on pricing for a product. The most popular shopping engines include Froogle, Yahoo Shopping, and BizRate/Shopzilla. Froogle Froogle is Google’s free shopping service. Found at www.froogle.com, it competes against Yahoo’s pay for inclusion shopping product, Yahoo Shopping. Marketers have a definite advantage in listing products in Froogle because there is no fee for inclusion. Basically, there are two ways to list products in Froogle. The first is to have a well-built
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and popular site that Google indexes frequently. The second option is to create a merchant store using Google Base and upload a product database according to its specification. When products are uploaded in the Google Base merchant center, the merchant has the ability to control what products are listed and control of the frequency of how often both products and prices are updated. Another major advantage to Froogle is that the popularity and trust in the Google brand continues to grow. Since the beginning, and it is said never to change, Google has kept advertising revenue and natural search separate, thus, creating creditability for its customers. Additionally, Google and Froogle’s interface is simple to use because it is designed to load quickly. Yahoo Shopping Yahoo Shopping, found at http://shopping.yahoo.com/, is Yahoo’s online shopping engine. Yahoo shopping is unique because it first lists advertisements from the Yahoo search-marketing engine and then the product listings that are fed into the Yahoo Shopping engine. Unlike Froogle, marketers must pay for inclusion to the Yahoo Shopping engine on a pay per click through basis. In addition to listing products and pricing, Yahoo also provides users with peer-reviewed merchant ratings as a value added service. BizRate/Shopzilla BizRate, found at www.bizrate.com, is one of the most popular shopping engines on the web. Shopzilla, a shopping service founded in 1996, operates BizRate.200 BizRate

BizRate, Inc., 2007, About BizRate – Building the Best Shopping Search Engine Online with ShopRank [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: BizRate, Inc., 12200 W Olympic Blvd, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA, 90064; ADDRESS: http://www.bizrate.com/content/about.html [Accessed: 18

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offers shopping review services for almost any product category found online. Like Yahoo Shopping, BizRate charges a fee per click through for all items listed in their shopping directory. An advantage BizRate has over other shopping engines lies within its popularity and ability to leverage product and store review with all listings. Paid Search Inclusion Some search engines allow webmasters to pay to have their sites indexed. Paid search inclusion can be beneficial for sites with rapidly changing content, new sites that are not yet frequently indexed, and sites that are not very popular. Some drawbacks to paid inclusion are the search engine does not guarantee premium placement in that search engine. Another drawback of this type of service is that some search engines charge additional fees when a listing is clicked through in the search results.201 Paid search inclusion is offered by a few search engines, including the following: • • • • • Inktomi - $39 first URL $25 each additional URL AltaVista - $78 first URL, 2-10th URL $58 each, 11+ $38 each additional URL Fast / Lycos - $18 annual first URL, $12 annually each additional URL Teoma / Askjeeves - $30 first URL, $18 each additional URL202 Yahoo - $49 first URL, $29 2-10th URL, $10 each additional URL. Plus .15 to .30 per click through fee.203

Like most other paid marketing programs, paid inclusion may have its fit for a specific business. Marketers should note that before starting a paid inclusion program,

February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student’s possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 201 Thurson, p. 159. 202 NetMechanic, Inc., 2003, Paid Inclusion Tips [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: NetMechanic, Inc., Suite 500, 2100 10th Street, Plano, TX, 75074; ADDRESS: http://www.virtuallyignorant.com/paidinclusiontips.htm [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student’s possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu. 203 Yahoo! Inc., 2007, Paid Inclusion from Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) – Search Submit Express – Pricing [Internet, WWW, Computer program], Available: Yahoo! Inc., 701 First Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA, 94089; ADDRESS: http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/srchsb/sse_pr.php [Accessed: 18 February 2007]. A copy of this article is in the student’s possession and may be consulted by contacting the student at hrdlicks@msoe.edu.

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they should address all natural search and web design in order to get the best results in the engine after the paid inclusion provider indexes it. Indexing a non-search optimized site will likely produce below average returns.

Section Summary
The Internet is changing the way new brands and smaller firms are able to compete with those that have larger budgets. Like all areas of Sparkplugging strategy, when marketers use a laser-like focus, the results are the best. Integration of consistent and clear site development, along with fresh content that is readable by search engines will get marketers on track. It is also important to integrate the areas of Internet advertising in order to increase exposure while naturally building the online presence of the brand.

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Conclusion
Developing and managing brands in an over proliferated market is a difficult task even for marketers with the largest of budgets. Today, the way that smaller firms with small budgets should build, manage, and promote their brands has changed because the mass media are rapidly evolving into new media, such as the Internet. Beginning with the brand building phase, it is essential that marketers look to Sparkplugging to remain focused while defining what their brands are and are not. Later, in promoting the developed brand, Sparkplugging marketers should understand the differences between advertising and public relations and how their new and emerging brands can maximize exposure. When brands that are Sparkplugging execute and manage their promotion strategy, they can gain exposure like large brands have with little to no cost. As the brand grows and evolves, the marketer must understand how the brand moves through the promotion lifecycle as defined herein. Lastly, when marketers are looking to gain exposure quickly, they should be aware of and understand the opportunities the Internet offers to their brand. The Internet is rapidly changing all mass media and the way businesses compete. Businesses can gain mass exposure either by optimizing their websites for natural search optimization or by jumpstarting their products by using some of the cost effective advertising methods offered like, Google Adwords. It is important that small to medium enterprises note the mistakes by large businesses discussed herein when developing and promoting their brands. To aid those companies with new and emerging brands, an outline is provided to develop and execute a sparkplugging strategy.

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Executing a Sparkplugging Strategy
Sparkplugging has three core phases: branding, promotion, and Internet marketing. Sparkplugging is designed for small to medium sized businesses that often do not have large budgets. The following checklist is provided to keep sparkpluggers on track when developing their brands. The Branding Phase of Sparkplugging 1. Develop the brand experience. a. Think of the existing or new brand in terms of the customer’s experience. b. Decide how should the brand make the customer feel. c. Ask questions, such as: “How do we want the customer to feel when they purchase or use the product?” d. Remember experience can be an alternative attribute similar to that of Rolex in which part of the product experience is having enough money to own one. 2. Develop the brand’s personality. a. Control personality factors of the brand, and use attributes like attitude, culture, and temperament. b. Use personal attributes that the customer can relate to. 3. Define the category. a. The best strategy is to create a unique category so the rules can be governed by the brand. b. A new category does not need to be revolutionary. Instead, it can be something simple, like changing the attributes of an existing category. c. Category difference is a great way to instantly differentiate and control perceptions in the mind of the consumer. d. If it is not possible to develop a new category, the brand should use one of positioning strategies outlined in this work. 4. Name the brand. a. A name can create assumptions and can be the first way of communicating about the brand. b. Do not use egocentric names, such as professional or international. c. Do not use generic names, like general or national. d. Start the name with a capital letter so it looks correct in print. e. If possible, take a generic industry term and modify it. f. Start the name early in the alphabet this helps with directory listings. g. Avoid trendy names like .com or 2000. h. Keep the name short. If the name is too long consumers will find a way to shorten it. 5. Set the price.

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a. Think about how price will create expectations and be part of the product experience. b. Think about price promotion strategy and how that will influence the way people will buy and what they are willing to pay for the product or service. The Promotion Phase of Sparkplugging 1. Create a story. a. Find industry specific media. b. Develop a story about the brand. c. Tell a story worth sharing with others. Ideally, it should be a story that will spread across social networks. d. Remember: messages conveyed through public relations are commonly more trusted than advertisements. 2. Pitch the story. a. Find journalists who have interest in the brand. Some journalists specialize in specific categories; therefore, find as many category specific specialists as possible. b. If the story is not exactly new, find a new way to tell it. If the story will go out to several media, make sure to give each journalist a unique spin on the story. c. Pitching is like selling: keep the pitch short and simple. d. Have a call to action. Find a way to get the target audience to respond. 3. Use advertising as a defense budget or to control perceptions. a. Sometimes advertising is needed to reinforce public relations. Especially if the PR message is getting out of control. b. Advertise once the brand has category leadership and advertise this leadership. (Everyone likes an underdog but they seldom buy.) c. When advertising, have a call to action. Ask for the sale. Creative adverting will get people to talk, but it usually does not get them to buy. 4. Beware of marketing research. a. Marketing research is often costly in time and money, and usually it produces only the results of finding what marketers were already looking for. b. Because surveys usually consist of hypothetical questions using hypothetical time and money, they do not always produce relevant data. c. Market research is time consuming and can delay product or service launches. Instead of researching hypothetical time and money, find a way to micro-market the product and see if it works. The Internet Marketing Phase of Sparkplugging 1. Build a brand specific website. c. Keep the site focused on the brand. d. Select a domain name that is easy or that is specific to the offering.

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e. Design the site to be simple, fast, and clean. f. Get the user involved in the site. The more interaction the better because the probability of conversion increases with user interaction. 2. Search Engine Optimize (SEO) the website. a. Research the competition to find when it appears in search engines and for what keywords and phrases. b. Look at competitors’ websites and look at their sites’ keyword density and prominence. c. Go to a search engine and type in “link:www.markit-inc.com (substitute markit-inc.com with the competitors domain name) The results will show who is linking to their site. If possible, get similar links and from better and more relevant sources. d. Keep fresh content on the site. (Ideally about 1 page of new content a day) e. Have unique content. Sites that have similar content tend not to do as well as sites with unique content in search engines. f. Do not waste time on meta-tags. Meta-tags are no longer weighed with importance by most search engines. Instead, spend the time that would be used on meta-tags on the content. g. Get inbound text links from relevant sources. Make sure the text links are keyword rich. 3. Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising to jumpstart the site. a. If a site is new, use a service like Google Adwords to get the site displaying in search engines. b. Start low on pay-per-click keyword bids and work increase to get better placement. This pay strategy helps to avoid over-bidding on keywords. c. Even when the site does well naturally in search engines, keep the payper-click campaign for additional repetition.

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Glossary
Banner Ad – advertisements that are commonly found on websites that contain images or flash animation. This type of advertisement is similar to a print advertisement. Domain names – names used to identify a website on the Internet. Domain names use a Universal Resource Locator (URL) format. For example: http://www.markit-inc.com in this case “markit-inc” is the domain name. Domain Registrar – an organization that allows people and businesses to register a domain name. Domains are typically registered by prepaying for a variable number of years. Most organizations register a domain name for at least one year with an option to renew. Doorway Pages – pages used on websites by developers to redirect search spiders to an alternative site that is typically used to SPAM keywords. E-Commerce – otherwise known as electronic commerce, e-commerce is a way to reference a way of conducting sales or products or service via the Internet. Flash animation – animation commonly found on websites to display picture slide shows, animated graphics, or website components. HTML – Hypertext Markup Language, a language used by web developers to markup text for the use in websites. Keyword – a specific word a webmaster or marketer wishes to match with a search query. For example, a widget manufacturer may want to focus on the keyword “widgets.” Keyword density – how frequent a keyword appears in text on a website. For example: a web page with 100 total words that has a specific keyword appearing 10 times would have a keyword density of 10%. Keyword prominence – how noticeable is the keyword on a given page. If a webpage has a keyword in specific areas like the page title or header and is again found early in text the keyword is considered to have prominence. Links – are used to direct a web surfer to another website. Links can appear in image format where users are directed by clicking on an image or they can appear in text format where users are directed by clicking on text that is usually underlined or highlighted. Meta-Revisit Tag – was initially designed to instruct the search engine when revisit the site. For example, a tag instructing a search engine to return in 30 days would read as follows: <meta name=”revisit-after” content=”30 days” /> Meta-Revisit tags are typically ignored by search engines.204 Meta-Tag – a tag that was commonly used in the early stages of the Internet as a way for webmasters to inform search engines about a site’s content. PPC (Pay-per-click) – a type of Internet advertising that allows marketers to bid on advertisement placement for specific keywords. When an advertisement is clicked by a
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web surfer the company advertising is billed by the ad service at the rate they bided for a keyword. Search Engine – a service where through which Internet users can search for products or services using keywords and phrases. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – a practice that allows marketers and webmasters to research keywords and phrases used by consumers and optimize their websites’ contents amongst other attributes in order to attract the highest number of relevant search inquiries. Sparkplugging – a strategy for building and promoting brands with a small budget, using branding, public relations, and Internet marketing strategy to minimize the amount of paid advertising when building and developing the brand. Spam – a practice of taking extreme measures to rank highly in search results. Practices are usually found as over usage of keywords, scripting, or use of doorway pages.205 Spider – software used by search engines to index websites on the Internet.206 URL (Universal Resource Locator) – addresses referring to a location on the Internet. All document and images on the Internet have a unique URL.207 For example http://www.markit-inc.com Webmaster – someone that manages a website’s content. Tasks can include programming, writing copy, uploading documents, website promotion, and modifying images.

205 206

Thurow, p. 259. Thurow, p. 259. 207 Thurow, p. 260.

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