Bowling for Business: Monday Morning Marketer

Call an audible with social media.

This column first appeared on on February 1, 2010 and in the Business Press on February 3, 2010.

I grew up in a suburb of Denver. So, I’m a die-hard Broncos’ fan. Far from fair-weather enthusiasts, my family watched NFL games no matter how poorly the home team was doing. And in the early 1970s, before the “Orange Crush” defense led us to Super Bowl XXII in 1978, our devotion was tested on pretty much a weekly basis.

This was long before John Elway arrived to change the paradigm. And, in those days, I didn’t know the difference between a touchdown and a timeout. Sitting on the couch beside my dad, feigning attention to a game I did not comprehend, I started watching the only thing I could understand…the commercials.

Even then, the advertisements and associated slogans intrigued me.

Gillette—the best a man can get.

Irish Spring—manly, yes, but I like it, too.

Alka Seltzer—Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.

Although I understand football now (sort of), apart from the two times that John Elway led the Broncos in back-to-back championships, in 1997 and 1998, I look forward to the Super Bowl each year for one reason alone: to witness the best in television advertising.

According to MSNBC, the cost of a 30-second spot for Super Bowl I in 1967 was $42,500 on CBS and $37,500 on NBC. (That’s right. The game was broadcast on two networks simultaneously). For this year’s game, CBS is asking $2.6 million for a 30-second spot.

But are the glory days of Super Bowl commercials behind us? According to the Pittsburgh, Pepsi, which has spent an estimated $254.2 million in Super Bowl ads over the past 20 years, startled the industry a few weeks ago by announcing they won’t purchase any spots for this year’s Super Bowl. Instead, the company will pour millions of dollars (pun intended) into an online project designed to reach consumers through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

This move to digital advertising is significant since PepsiCo has long been considered a marketing maverick. Do you remember the Pepsi ad made famous by Michael Jackson, whose hair caught fire during taping? How about the Diet Pepsi campaign in the 1990s starring Ray Charles? “You Got the Right One Baby, Uh-huh.” What about the Pepsi spot featuring Britney Spears before her media meltdown?

According to Forrester Research, “The recession has accelerated systemic changes in the media landscape. Audiences are fragmenting, taking more control, and seeking inexpensive or free alternatives. Combined, print and television will lose almost $17 billion in US ad spending in 2008 and 2009. Newspaper advertising is down by 29% and broadcast television is also down by 23%.”

The folks at Forrester summarized their findings relative to television advertising by saying, “This doesn’t mean TV is going away, but it will be fighting for marketing dollars on an increasingly level playing field with social and interactive tactics.”

Although your company may not have the resources to hire celebrity endorsers, you can afford to take a cue from PepsiCo and start investing in Internet marketing. One Mountain Marketing Group client recently told me that he is glad he finally got on the social media bandwagon. He says our agency’s efforts over the past four months have netted him $20,000 in new business. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No matter how small or large your advertising budget, you can’t afford to turn a blind eye to the medium that has taken our industry by storm.

For Free—

Don’t delay. Don’t even finish reading this column. Go directly to Facebook to set up a Fan Page for your business or non-profit organization. One of the compelling things about social media is that it puts multi-national corporations and Mom and Pop Stores on a level playing field. No matter who you represent, you have access to the same Facebook resources as companies with seven-figure advertising budgets.

On a Budget—

Whenever possible, invest in professional photography for posting to social media. Whether you are creating a Facebook page or uploading a headshot to Twitpic, nothing says amateur like a cheesy picture taken by a webcam. Well worth the investment, professional photography will help you put your best foot forward.

The Sky’s the Limit—

If you want to make the most of social media, hire a team to develop and manage a comprehensive campaign. Working with a professional, you should be able to see a return on your investment within three to six months. One of the benefits of social media is that built-in metrics make it easy to test and measure results. Since Google Analytics reveals click-thru rates, advertising professionals have real-time access to methods that work as well as those that miss the mark. While it’s true you might be able to sift through the data yourself, there is nothing like delegating that tedious task to someone who understands trends in technology as well as the psychographics of Internet advertising.

And if you’re not quite sure what that means, don’t worry. You can always fake it and just watch the commercials.

Until next week, I’ll be Bowling for Business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s