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Monthly Archives: March 2011

When do we start getting paid?

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Think about some of the services and products you will use over a lifetime.  Isn’t there a way to reach out to a company and make a deal early on and say, if you’ll give me a deal, I’ll be your customer for life?  Maybe Geico could buy my first car, and I will use them as my insurer for life.  That would be 50+ years of car insurance at $1,400/year = $70,000 in exchange for a $19,000 Ford Focus.  And, they would never have to advertise to me again.  Or, how about a cell phone company, just send me the latest technology device every two years and give me unlimited service in exchange for a lifetime contract of $75/month.  That’s got to net some good return for them, right?

We have been promised free stuff for years in exchange for our marketing soul.  Cable television, internet connectivity, cell phones, computers… all were to be free, if I would just allow marketers complete disclosure on my demographic makeup and buying behavior in exchange.  So, maybe I have to be exposed to some targeted advertising, big deal I’m exposed to such a high level now, what’s a little more dedicated sales content heading my way.  Just give me the free stuff, and maybe start paying me along the way if I can get some of my friends and cyber connections to buy stuff too.

I keep waiting for the offers.  I’m prepared to allow deep reflections into my very marketing-affected soul.  There are so many choices for every category of product theses days, I’d just as soon have my decisions made for me even if through over saturation from some brand marketers efforts.  Just pay me direct and bypass the media and agencies.  For a thousand bucks today, I will only eat Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal for life.

For now I have only found small victories of free product or content.  Long ago I discovered free phone information service, 1-800-FREE-411, all I have to do is listen to a 15 second ad and then I get the phone number I am looking for.  Now Google and Microsoft compete for the free 411 service.  So, I can call 800-GOOG-411 or 800-CALL-411 instead of searching google on my iPhone.
This year, I was also able to follow the NCAA tournament and watch any game live on my iPhone via a CBS March Madness app… for free!  I did have to watch something about Buick before getting linked to the game telecast.  Not a big deal, Buick has some sexier looking cars these days, too bad they get city mileage under 19 mpg, or maybe I’d even consider one. The app got rave reviews.

So, when do I start getting paid for unadulterated access to my purchasing power?  Wake up advertisers, bypass the middleman and just pay us a little upfront fee and you’ll be our favorite brand because at the end of the day, McDonald’s or Wendy’s, Target or Wal-Mart, Coke or Pepsi, Bud or Miller, Raisin Bran or Lucky Charms… I’m not sure we really care.


Who are these people?

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About six months ago I began to investigate what methodologies entertainment venues and sports teams were using to capture fan data in order to utilize the very literal data base that was sitting right there in the seats of every game, concert or event.

As a former promoter for Feld Entertainment (, I knew that Ticketmaster was capturing significant purchaser data that the promoter could utilize and they even offered a CRM program to manage leads, but that still was not providing a complete data base of who was in attendance. My interest was sparked by a friend who had launched a text marketing platform, called Izigg, that enabled users to very cheaply initiate text marketing campaigns to customers and/or leads ( The main draw was that they had acquired the five digit text code of 90210, presumably one of the most memorable five digits that would help text campaigns gain more transactions.

Many moons ago, I had used a very simplistic method to gain the names and contact information of the fan base of a minor league hockey team I was managing. In one of our early and near sell out games of over 16,000 fans, we put a piece of paper and a golf score card pencil under every single seat in the arena. After the first period the announcer told fans to stay in their seats for a special promotion. Then he instructed them to reach under their seats for the piece of paper and write their name, address and phone number and make it into a paper airplane. We had a Continental Airlines logo placed at center ice and instructed everyone to fly their plane to the ice and not look back to keep from getting hit by all the flying airplanes from above. The closest to land at the logo would receive two tickets anywhere Continental Airlines flies right there at the game. After the 1-2-3 count off, the paper came tumbling down in waves as everyone was encouraged to keep it coming and get it over the glass. We had a winner and nobody got their eye poked and then the maintenance crew came out on the ice with large brooms and rolling trash bins to pick up all the paper entries. They dumped all the paper into the ticket sales office and I was able to tell the whole sales team… now you have your leads, go sell mini-season, pick four and single game tickets because every one of the 15,000+ entries had been to a sold out exciting game. We did that promotion three more times that first season and the success of that tactic helped us lead the league in attendance and even out-sell the local NBA team in our first year.

So surely, I thought, with new technology promoters must be easily capturing a significant percentage of their audience data. With the simple airplane story, I went to New York and met with Madison Square Garden, Momentum Worldwide and the NHL to see what they were doing and if text marketing was already the great panacea of fan data capture. Much to my surprise, things just weren’t working out that way. The feedback I got was that the percentage of capture was actually very small for text promotions and even for frequent user clubs, social media forums and other new technology platforms. While there were significant advances in CRM programs, data capture from purchase transactions and connections created by social forums, the industry still had not seemed to crack the code for high percentage audience data capture.

Perhaps some of the lack of return may be as simple as a qualitative issue. Some of the promotions and offers simply were not very compelling. I mean, a text promotion for a t-shirt is not exactly as compelling as two round trip tickets anywhere the airline flies. And, sending the promotional messages around the video boards or via the PA announcer may not be the best way to highlight the offer. It made me wonder, is anyone taking this seriously enough? My goal would be to know every single person in the arena personally… no, really. You have to ask yourself, who are these people? And then figure out how to get over 90% of them to tell you and with a little detail.

A few teams that did come up in my meetings were the Los Angeles Lakers ( and the Pittsburgh Penguins ( who were well-known for successfully utilizing new media platforms to engage with fans and get to know them (and capture their data.) Interestingly, both are frequent sell-outs who actually need additional ways to create new revenue channels.

I think a goal of all brands would be to get know who these people are that we call customers. With that simple goal, the mining, analytics, offers, advertising and marketing efforts can exponentially affect sales. And if I were a sports team not having much success with text promotions… it may be time to start throwing paper airplanes. Anybody have any other ideas?

Some relevant links:

Other good Integrated Marketing Communications blogs: