Thursday, July 30, 2009


What consumers are saying about advertising today versus the ad makers

The Center for Media Research just released some findings from a new LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll conducted in June, 2009. Consumers and advertisers involved in the advertising decision making process were the participants in the study. The major finding is that there are often disparate views regarding how effective a given type of ad is. For example, about half of the advertisers polled believe ads that make people stop and think and ads that give people new information are very effective. The numbers drop to about 30% when it comes to consumers who say they feel the same.
The report goes on to say that ads that are part of a campaign show an even greater divide between advertisers and consumers (26% to 7%). Of even greater interest, 21% of advertisers say ads that reinforce a message already known are very effective compared to 10% of consumers. On the winning are ads that involve some type of humor. Some 33% of consumers and 32% say funny ads are “very effective.” The lowest consumer scores went to ads that are self-patronizing and those that they consider scary or make people feel slightly guilty.
But the biggest winners by far in this stumbling economy are those that use a “value proposition strategy.” Those would be ads promoting sales, coupons and discounts. Almost three in five (57%) of consumers say that this strategy works well. In a recent presentation I made to a chamber of commerce group in Bergen County, I emphasized the importance of value, particularly with regard to positioning a brand in today’s marketplace. It seems that I was on the right track according to this study.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Exciting New Way for Charities to Raise Funds!

I have just heard about a local charity that can offer other charities a joint way to raise funds without it costing them a penny! It involves auctioneering or raffling off a time share vacation property in the Poconos for a week worth up to $10,000. The charity making the offer has decided to share these units with other nonprofit organizations to help them out in these difficult economic times. Obviously, a lot of charities are hurting as a result of the recession. There’s also an additional element that stipulates the fellow charity can take up to 10 of these time share units.

Stay tuned for more details when the agreement becomes public.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

More of "Getting Back to Basics"

The following is an article from The Suburanite weekly newspaper covering business in greater Fort Lee, NJ. I was the guest speaker at the Great Fort Lee Chamber's annual General Membership event.

Getting back to basics

Chamber members learn value of image


The Greater Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce (GFTCC) believes many of the businesses in the area need to learn more about successful marketing and advertising techniques in order to build their company’s brand, especially in a down economy.

When they scheduled a guest speaker for their June 24 general membership luncheon, they chose Walter Guarino, president and managing partner for SGW.

“The message today is that a lot of people don’t realize how important their brand is,” said Guarino. “In fact, it’s their whole lifeline.”

Inside Villa Amalfi restaurant in Cliffside Park, Guarino, who was acknowledged by Business Week New Jersey as one of the “top ten” most influential business leaders in the state, advised GFLCC members and guests to get back to the basics.

“If you have a brand, and people think of you in such a way, have you gone out and determined how you’ve been affected by the economy?” Guarino asked. “If it has changed, your lifeline could be dead. You’re going to have to respond.”

Guarino, a 40-year resident of Fort Lee, explained that a brand has to connote value, as people are in a “value” mode today when making purchases. Using a popular discount chain store as an example, Guarino said that Wal-Mart was successful in part because it attracts a higher-level income demographic by showing brand name products in commercials.

“You can get a brand name product for less money and you want to keep that crowd after the recession is over,” Guarino explained. “Their perception is to create value with a new target audience.”

Guarino said small business owners can also create open dialogue with the local community by utilizing social networking Web sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to find out what people are saying about a company’s products and services.

But he also recommended a more traditional medium---weekly newspapers.

“Local newspapers like the Suburbanite and the Bergen News are a great medium because you get readership,” Guarino explained. “There’s more readership time spent with weeklies than any other medium. This is one of the main stages where people find out about a community.”

The luncheon also served as an award ceremony to honor local businesses. Nelson and Joanna Gutierrez from Strictly Bicycles received the Conceptual Award, Anthony and Stacy Papavasiliou from It’s Great To Me restaurant won the Merit Award and Commander Jimmy Viola from the Cairola-Barber Veteran of War Post 2342 took home the Landmark Award.

“We were delighted with the turnout for our General Membership Luncheon,” said Judy Auerbach-Adamo, executive director of the GFLCC. “Congratulations to our award winners and special thanks to Dr. Walter F. Guarino.”

Craig Weinstein, president of the GFLCC was equally moved by Guarino’s words and found his message encouraging.

“I think businesses in Fort Lee are starting to see that we are turning the corner toward economic prosperity. Dr. Guarino’s presentation lifted everyone’s spirits toward that direction,” said Weinstein. “I left the luncheon with a strong feeling that smaller, localized businesses still have a place in today’s economy.”

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Abbreviated Brand Names...a new trend?

Last week, I was asked by a CNN reporter to comment on whether the name change of the SciFi Channel to "Syfy" was the beginning of a trend toward shorter brand names. Here is how I replied:

There are many guidelines that provide a basis for what constitutes a good brand name. The most important is that it either has inherit meaning upon first seeing it or that you can infer what the brand stands for (usually by adding a constant theme and/or icon that is proprietary). Whether it is an "initialized" or "abbreviated" brand, it still must convey a thought or feeling that the person seeing it can connect with. Even better if that person has a particular need that the brand "connection" can fulfill. Now, in the case of KFC, it obviously was an established brand and the meaning was pretty clear. I believe that the reason for abbreviating the name was to not be "locked into" just a purveyor of fried chicken. The company wanted to branch out into ribs and other products such as roast chicken and the feeling was that the full name was too limiting for them to do that. It reminds me of the name change of Boston Chicken to Boston Market. The KFC brand was not so much a case as being "trendy" as is the case with Sify. Cable TV has been going this route in my opinion to be more trendy in keeping with today's IM and texting language. It's could be deemed as more modern, thus it grabs a younger person's attention. Will the trend continue? Probably. I cannot see a reason for it to stop. Yet, I would like to point out that abbreviated brands have been around forever. I go back to brands like BVDs, TWA, UPS, K-mart, the major tv networks, BP, HFC, GM and on and on. I guess you could say "Coke" could be called an abbreviated brand as well.

The main point here is that I do not think that the SciFi Channel will lost an ounce of equity by changing to Syfy. I think the name change is a reason to create new awareness to the brand. However, given their appeal to such a defined audience, I don't see many new people "entering their tent" as a result of this name change.

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