The Challenge of Marketing Live Christmas Trees

If you are someone who celebrates Christmas, then decorating a tree is likely a regular part of your celebratory routine. For many, tree decoration is the final stage of a potentially lengthy process requiring the identification, possible cutting down, transporting and, finally, mounting of a chosen tree. For some, this process takes several hours, involves significant travel and requires a lot of money before the purchaser sees the tree standing in their home. Yet, millions of people around the world look forward to undertaking this task. Millions of others, however, consider the acquisition of a live Christmas tree to be pure drudgery and look to get in the Christmas spirit in ways requiring a lot less effort.

As with any industry, the live Christmas tree business has learned that if there are unsatisfied customers, then competitors will enter the market. In this case, competition comes from artificial tree suppliers, who offer a simpler solution. Their message has been highly successful, and today, in the U.S., artificial trees account for over 80% of all household Christmas trees.

To combat heavy competition, the live tree industry is using marketing to fight back. As described in this Chicago Tribune story, the live tree industry, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has created a “Keep It Real” campaign to promote the value of purchasing live trees. Promotional assistance provided by an industry trade group, National Christmas Tree Association, includes a video used to bolster live tree marketers’ social media content as well as posters and window stickers for in-store display.

It should be noted, the increased emphasis on promotion does not address the significant differences in purchase expense and setup time between live trees and artificial ones. So, the primary focus of this promotional push is to tug on emotional heartstrings by emphasizing family, tradition and support local businesses.

Image by USDAgov

Coming Soon to Your Favorite American Sports Team – Ads on Uniforms

Ads Are Coming to More Sports' Teams UniformsTo the rest of the world, it must seem strange that America’s four major professional sport leagues – Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) – do not allow corporations to place sponsorship promotions on players’ uniform. In nearly every other professional sports league around the world, uniforms are ladened with advertisements. Ads can even be found in other U.S. professional sports including NASCAR, professional golf (PGA and LPGA) and Major League Soccer. But not in the four major U.S. sports leagues.

The reason major U.S. sports teams have not accepted promotional message on their uniforms is not entirely clear, though there are several reasonable arguments against it. First, sports purest point to ads leading to questions about the integrity of the game. They believe the money spent by advertisers would not just be for promoting their product but would allow them to influence the teams wearing their ads. Second, advertisers whose logo is not on uniforms but who sponsor games by showing television advertisement during games may get upset. They may not like a close-up television image of a player being celebrated for a great play only to see the player has the advertiser’s competitor on their jersey. Finally, players (and their sports agents) may have reservations with the ads on their jersey if they have endorsement deals with competitive products.

Despite these potential conflicts, it seems the major U.S. sports leagues are now willing to reconsider their ban on uniform ads. According to this story by National Public Radio (NPR), the NBA will be the first of the major leagues to allow teams to place sponsors’ logos on their uniforms. Expect the other major sport to follow the NBA’s lead on this issue. Also, expect that over time, just as NASCAR is loaded with advertisers, the number of ads placed on professional athletes’ uniforms will only grow.

For the sports franchise that makes deals with advertisers, this may turn out to be a highly profitable advertising outlet. It will also be something that some fans, players, agents and advertisers will not like.

Image by kaex0r

Search Engine Marketers Are Feeling a Google Change – Maybe

Search Engine Marketers Are Sensing Big Change in Google RankingsThroughout, we make mention of marketing’s pivotal role in the introduction of new products, such as highly innovative new technologies. It is also important to note that the introduction of innovative products also has ramifications for marketing jobs. In general, when new a technology are introduced marketing employees in existing industries affected by the innovation can expect one of two outcomes: 1) the innovation forces marketers in existing roles to adapt by undertaking new learning or potentially face the unemployment line; or 2) the innovation creates entirely new marketing jobs that did not previously exist.

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Facebook’s Challenge to Google Ad Dominance

If your website is advertising-supported, this story from Business Insider is a must-read. It reports on Facebook’s challenge to Google’s ad delivery network. While much of what is discussed here is technical, the idea that Facebook has figured out a way to compete with Google for ad dollars is certainly intriguing.

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The Temptation to Be Highly Creative Can Get Marketers into Trouble

As we point out in our Promotion Decisions tutorial, a sizeable hurdle marketers face when promoting their products is the need to be heard above the “noise” created by competitors. Because customers constantly are bombarded with promotional messages, marketers often seek ways to stand out so those in the target market will pay attention. There are several options for doing this. One is to increase the frequency of advertising in hopes repetitiveness will eventually get customers to pay attention. Or in the case of sales promotion, placing a product display in an area of a retail store that customers cannot avoid.

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The Challenge of Measuring Who is Watching Television

The Issues With Researching Television ViewingThe general belief among many is that television advertising is losing significant ground to other forms of advertising, such as digital ad options. In large part, this view is assumed based on the proliferation of TV program viewing options (e.g., on tablets, on DVR, on content services such as Netflix). Yet, even though viewing options are becoming much more fragmented, in reality, television advertising remains an attractive choice for many advertisers and still garners over 38% of all global ad spending.

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There Are No Shortcuts to Running an Efficient AdWords Campaign

Last September we noted how ad blocking technology is complicating online advertising. However, despite issues with ad blockers, online advertising remains a huge business and thousands of marketers continue to consider this a critical component of their overall promotional strategy.

When advertising online, marketers primarily have two options for placing ads. First they can manage advertising placement themselves by negotiating directly with specific websites. For instance, a clothing retailer could make a deal with a fashion magazine website and agree to pay the website for displaying their ad. To get the ad to appear, the website will insert computer code that loads the ad from some other location managed by the retailer.

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Mobile Technology is Helping to Rewrite the Rules of Customer Delivery

Amazon Expands to the Door DeliveryFor many years, product delivery was considered a relatively unexciting part of retailing. Marketers working in the retail industry often gave short shrift to delivering orders to their customers, preferring to focus their efforts on more exciting decisions, such as store design, product selection and promotion.

But in today’s retail environment, where competition can be brutal and profit margins thin, enhancing product delivery is now being viewed as a critical strategic decision.  And at the forefront of changing how customers obtain products is Amazon.

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Loose Lips May Have Sunk Amazon’s Retail Surprise

Rumors of Amazon StoresWhen it comes to keeping secrets, there is a great old saying: “Loose lips sink ships.” This saying was originally developed during World War II by the U.S. War Advertising Council to warn people not to speak about the movement of naval vessels for fear the enemy would find out. In the marketing world, executives often invoke this phrase in staff meetings to stress the importance of keeping quiet about upcoming marketing plans.

Indeed the key concern when an executive announces a “loose lips” directive is so that competitors will not learn about strategic plans before these are implemented. If they do, the marketer’s element of surprise is lost and so too may be their marketing advantage. Consequently, depending on the importance of the plan, if a company discovers an employee has discussed the plan outside the marketing department’s inner circle, the employee could face tough justice including possibly losing their job.

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Important Marketing Trends of 2015 That Will Likely Be Big News in 2016

As we did in the final days of 2014, we again take a look back over this year’s posts we tagged as Marketing Trends and suggest what topics may continue to be important in 2016. Here are a few of our favorite trends and some of the comments we made about these.

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