Honest People, Honest Cars

When you think of car dealerships, does this image enter your mind?

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Many people see car salesmen as pushy, untrustworthy, and just out to make a profit. Elkins Auto wants to prove to their customers that they do not fit that mold. Our mock advertising agency, JETCA, met with Jordan and Jeremiah from Elkins Auto early in the semester to discuss opportunities for a twelve-week advertising campaign. Elkins Auto is already one of the leading dealerships in the area, so they did not task us with increasing sales by a certain percentage or advertising their new inventory. Instead, they wanted our help in shifting toward a rebranding of their company. Throughout the semester, we’ve worked to find ways to set them apart from their competition and the negative stereotype that follows car dealerships.

The CommsPoint program was our primary research tool in creating this campaign. This program provides a detailed insight into the media usage of specific audiences to allow for strategic planning. The first meeting with our client gave us a start in creating their target audience.

  • Female
  • Aged 25-54
  • Education level: high school graduate and beyond
  • Employed, homemaker, or student
  • They are the main shopper
  • Have purchased an automobile longer than one year ago or have never purchased a vehicle
  • Could have children under 18 years old
  • Living in the northeast region

The program used this coding to provide specific media insights, such as consumption, channel costs, performance, and maximum reach.

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On a typical weekday, our audience is most likely to spend more than 5 hours viewing TV and browsing the Internet on a desktop computer.
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One of our chosen channels, outdoor billboards, has a cost per thousand (CPM) of $7.18.
d
Another suggestion is to create an incentive for consumers to give personal recommendations, which yield the highest performance among earned media when trying to create trust in a brand.
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Television ads can reach 96% of our target audience. Our client enjoys making videos for their YouTube account, so combining that interest with a small chunk of change could create a really great commercial that would benefit the company.

Elkins Auto has a strong social media presence on Facebook and YouTube, so we encourage them to continue utilizing and updating those accounts. We have also created a billboard design with the new slogan, “Honest People, Honest Cars,” that can be used in multiple media. We decided upon the standard vinyl billboard, because the spot would not have to be shared with any other companies or, potentially, their competitors. Jordan and Jeremiah offered an interesting idea that we have included in the campaign. In order to spread this rebranding campaign, the new slogan will be printed on custom Jeep wheel covers. The wheel covers will be placed on the Jeeps in their lot, and once bought, the new owner will drive the Jeep around to spread the word even further.

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We have chosen the tactics of customizing the message, interacting with the consumer, and sharing/passing the message. We believe that focusing on these tactics, combined with our messages of high quality and trust in the brand and strategies of re-purchasing and usage experience, will lead a successful rebranding campaign. If Elkins Auto can increase awareness of this new image, it will bring more customers into the store. Once inside, their exceptional service and quality inventory will create a loyal customer base. The small town feel of Elkins creates an avenue for loyal customers to tell their friends and family about their great experience at Elkins Auto.

Be sure to check them out when you’re in the market for a new, quality vehicle!

My Day in Ads

Do you see 10,000 advertising messages every day? The American Marketing Association says probably so, but you just don’t realize it. With the growth in technology, the average consumer can switch between screens (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, TVs, etc) up to 21 times every hour. In order to gain the necessary frequency that encourages a consumer to take action, advertisers tend to overload media with their product. If not done well, this can lead to ad burnout. Although media consumption has doubled to almost 10 hours daily in the last 70 years, consumers aren’t taking in that many more ads. Because of other distractions, viewers can avoid many ads.

This assignment asked me to be perceptive of the ads in my surroundings, so here is a summary of my day in advertising.

8:00 AM: My first alarm goes off. Not ready to leave the warmth and comfort of my bed, I decide to check my social media accounts. The first two posts in my Facebook feed are advertisements. One is a local event shared by a WVWC staff member. On campus and throughout the community, Facebook events are a cost-effective way of advertising. The information can be shared in seconds to a large group of people. The next is a sponsored ad from Cinnabon. Recipe videos make up a good 75% of my feed, so promoting their product in the form of a DIY recipe would likely gain my attention.

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Next, I visited the Facebook Marketplace, a relatively new addition to the social media platform. With this tool, advertised products can be shown to me dependent on my geographic location. I hardly ever look through the products sold on the Marketplace, but from experience with family and friends, there is a good portion of Facebook users that visit it regularly.

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10:00 AM: I head to campus for a meeting. Because of the vast amount of organizations at WVWC, walls, doors, and bulletin boards are covered in posters. The blood drive that had been shared on Facebook earlier can also been seen in print. I happened to arrive at a time when SunnyBucks was completely empty. While waiting for my meeting to start, the employee offered me a free breakfast sandwich, because she was just going to have to throw them out anyway. She did not mean for this to be a form of advertising, but offering a free sample could encourage me to visit the little campus convenience store more often. The TV was not on while I was in there, but the radio was playing; commercials were played infrequently between popular country songs, but I was able to catch an ad for the local news station.IMG-4237

A quick email check before I left presented more advertisements: the dreaded WVWC eMOs. Many people do not read any of them; some people read all of them. I am in the middle. If the subject line is interesting, I’ll check it out. Otherwise, I simply mark it as read. For anyone trying to advertise via eMO, make sure your message is something the viewer wants to hear. If not, it will just get lost in the crowd or deleted.

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11:00 AM: My meeting is over, so I walk back home for lunch. As I was leaving, I noticed something written on the sidewalk. Some organizations choose to advertise events with chalk. It is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, so one of the WVWC WE LEAD teams advocated for this issue in a way that breaks through the regular posters. Not all messages stated the issue, like this example. A thought-provoking quote can be enough to make someone stop for a few seconds and focus their attention on the message. Sidewalk chalking is one of my favorite forms of advertisement, just because it’s eye-catching and underutilized. It can be hindered by the weather, though.

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“If you can’t feed 100 people, then just feed 1.” -Mother Teresa

Staked signs along the sidewalk can also gain attention, like this one from Bobcat Entertainment, where they share their social media accounts.

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11:10 AM: I’m about 300 feet from home. Two houses on my street are up for sale. This does not pertain to me, because I’m not currently in the financial state to buy a home, but I still see these signs at least twice daily.

11:12 AM: I’m finally home and looking for food. I found a new pack of Subway coupons in the mailbox and added it to the pile I keep attached to the fridge. I love a good deal, so these advertisements definitely encourage me to spend money on food more often than I should. Other advertisements laying around my house include the weekly Upshur County Value Guide and a phone book for which I have absolutely no use.

4:00 PM: Time to start my shift at Hibbett Sports. There are a multitude of advertisements packed into that small store. Customers are offered the opportunity to join our reward program or subscribe to our mobile coupons, with information posted all around the store. Both of these are spend-money-to-save-money programs and regularly bring in loyal customers.

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Another in-store advertisement was geared toward employees, not customers. When you get a short lunch break and aren’t allowed to travel farther than Burger King, the offer of a discounted pizza delivery is pretty enticing.

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9:00 PM: My shift is over. This is probably where I experienced the most advertising. Passing at least four fast food chains with their glowing logos, meal offers, and even some “now hiring” signs, it was difficult to keep up with it all.

Considering I usually tune out most ads, this is about the amount of messages I had expected to see in a normal day. I love TV, but without cable, I missed a lot of commercials. There were many points in the day in which I forgot about the experiment, where I might have missed some other ads. Tomorrow, I will most likely go back to my ways of selective sight and hearing when it comes to the advertising around me, but those who know that I’m in their target audience will know how to reach me.

All photos except for the featured image were taken by me. ūüôā

 

NFL Ratings? Sad!

Disclaimer: this is not going to be a political post. #SorryNotSorry. This is a class assignment, so it will be focused on how recent events have affected advertising. If you want to go ahead and sneak out now, I’ll wait…

Some background information, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months. Former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, began kneeling in personal protest during the National Anthem at the team’s preseason games back in 2016. At first, he was alone in participation; other athletes would join in periodically. If you would like to review a complete timeline, click here. Recently, it has become a movement among many NFL teams, causing controversy. This is ultimately affecting network ratings and the advertisers that pay to run their ads during these games.

According to Forbes, stock shares of NFL broadcasting companies, like Fox and CBS, are down anywhere from one to eight percent. When ratings fell a year earlier, the broadcasting company had to repay the sponsors in the form of “make goods.” When Monday Night Football’s ratings dropped 15%, ESPN had to provide free advertising for sponsors. Although the sponsors were probably upset that the ratings target was not met initially, it benefits them to increase impressions and reach at no additional cost. However, these network partners are hurting because of it. If ratings continue to diminish past ten percent, companies like ESPN, NBC, and Fox could lose out on $200,000,000 in earnings. If viewership is already low, sponsors would probably find it invaluable to run their ads on these networks and choose to go elsewhere. Combined with being contractually obligated to provide free advertising to dissatisfied sponsors, these networks are being affected the most.

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The New York Times cites a variety of reasons for low ratings, not just controversial views on the protests. A survey stated that overall, only three percent of the respondents said they watched the NFL less because of the protests. Actually, that same survey showed 27% of fans tuning in more than they had previously. So why are the ratings still dropping? If you were to turn the average eight percent drop into people (about 1,400,000), it’s highly unlikely that it stems from one reason. Here are a few, reasonable theories:

Expanding cable packages – as cable companies try to gain more customers, they include more channels in their packages. If a cable customer can flip between five different games instead of two, viewership for those games will decrease.

Avoiding cable packages – personally, I don’t have cable. As a college student trying to pull away from needing financial assistance from my parents, I didn’t deem it a necessity (Mom still pays for my Internet though, thx Mom). Between streaming sites, I’m able to watch almost everything I enjoy at a fraction of the cost. Many people feel the same way and are dropping their cable plans altogether.

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Time – Some people choose to DVR the game because they’re unable to watch it live, affecting viewership. Smartphones also allow us to watch highlights on the go. Jobs, families, and other obligations affect viewers’ ability to sit and watch the game in real-time.

Other events – this year’s presidential race was on almost every major network at all times. This is a theory because ratings seemed to improve post-election. More recently, Hurricane Irma greatly affected NFL ratings. The devastating hurricane hit the US during week one of this year’s season, dropping ratings by 12%. Between loss of power in the affected areas and viewers watching news coverage everywhere else, hardly anyone cared about football.

Network reach – if one didn’t look into the details, it would seem that week two ratings dropped 15%. However, this year, one game had only been shown on one network (NFL Network) instead of two (including CBS, which has a larger reach) the previous year. Factoring in that detail, week two ratings only fell by four percent.

Lack of interest – maybe your favorite player retired or was suspended; you’re disappointed in your team’s performance. Whatever the reason, there are many people losing interest in the game.

One thing is clear: overall, NFL ratings are dropping. It is difficult to say exactly why, but it has an effect on the advertising industry. Last year, the NFL Commissioner considered cutting the length and amount of ads played during games to improve ratings. Because it may no longer be beneficial to advertise during games, advertisers need to get creative. Can they still make money from TV ads? Would mobile or internet ads reach more people? Changing times call for changing media.

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Featured image source

It’s Not About Us

Monday’s Advertising and PR class was not the traditional lecture. While the professor brings a wealth of knowledge, it’s always nice to listen to the insights of other professionals. Mike Arbogast, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of InnerAction Media, kindly joined our class to share his wisdom. Located in Morgantown, WV, InnerAction Media is an advertising and digital marketing agency that brings ideas to life. Video production, website design, and inbound marketing strategies are a few of the services offered by this agency. Because of their success, they are a HubSpot Certified Agency Partner at the Gold level (see link for more information). While Mr. Arbogast only briefly spoke about himself, he used that as a nice segue into his presentation.

“It’s not about us.”

That quote is the first thing viewers see when they travel to the “About” section of InnerAction Media’s well-designed website. This is because marketing should be about the customer, their needs, and what services can be provided to them. This basically comes down to problem-solving. Companies partner with an agency to help them make more money, bring in more customers, save them some time, or provide some other kind of support.

Mr. Arbogast brought a problem of his own for the class to solve. In his own teaching method, he split the class in half and gave us each a piece of paper with a very detailed picture on it (see example below). The pictures had to be put in sequential order, but no one was allowed to look at others’ pictures. First, my group split into segments; there were about six of us that had an elephant included in our pictures. Then, we worked to put ourselves in order. The others in my group had done the same, describing their pictures as best as they could to each other. About 10 minutes later, we had successfully put ourselves into the correct order.

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(Photo taken from Facebook Live video of the class)

What was the point of this exercise, though? Some students threw out, “teamwork, communication, differing perspectives,” etc. Another point brought up by one of my team members is that as a marketer, you sometimes have to be able to describe your vision, or the client’s vision, without an actual picture. These are all good take-aways from the exercise, but what Mr. Arbogast was trying to get us to understand was keeping our own attention to detail while seeing the bigger picture. Each piece of the sequence, no matter how much it didn’t make sense on its own, was vital to the final goal.

Throughout the rest of the semester, we will be working in teams, acting as an ad agency for a client. Most of the people on my team are majoring in marketing, but I am not. Although my career interest is not in marketing, I now know how they could be an asset to me in the future. Good marketers can increase revenue and leads for companies. Even though we don’t know who our client is for the class project, we will each bring our individuality to the team and work to create the bigger picture.

References

https://www.inneractionmedia.com/

Featured image: https://www.inneractionmedia.com/

Are We There Yet? The Consumer Purchase Decision Journey

Have you ever thought about the process individuals go through when buying a product? It usually starts with a trigger: you wake up to find that you’ve ran out of toothpaste, you’re craving some midnight fast food, or something else that makes you consider running to the store; but do you take the time to realize the journey on which you’re embarking?

The Consumer Decision Journey is a four step process…

  1. Initial Consideration Set: where the consumer thinks of a set of brands based on his/her awareness.
  2. Active Evaluation: where the consumer weighs the pros and cons of each brand and narrows down the options.
  3. Moment of purchase: where the consumer finally chooses the brand he/she wants.
  4. Post-purchase Experience: where the consumer considers his/her experience with the chosen brand. If it was enjoyable, the consumer might enter the “Loyalty Loop” and continue to buy that product. If not, he/she will start the journey over again next time.

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For me, I am most interested in the second phase, active evaluation, simply because I spend a lot of time here. I consider myself to be a very indecisive person, and I think that stems from the amount of time I spend weighing all of my options. Some examples…

Books: I use textbook comparison websites to show all of my options at once. Then, the shipping costs come into play (would it be more beneficial to pay more and get free shipping? etc., etc.). This is why I never have my textbooks until the third week of class. Clothes: I always head straight to the clearance racks, because I love a good bargain. I will search every article of clothing on the rack, take the time to try things on, and try to imagine scenarios in which I would need a new semi-formal dress. Groceries: do I go to Kroger and buy their brand so I can use my reward card or go to Walmart and buy name-brand items and hopefully get something back on my Savings Catcher app?

Because I’m not the type of person that’s loyal to any particular brand, I don’t mind taking the time to weigh all of my choices. On my journey, I’ll book a room and spend a few nights at the Active Evaluation Station.

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Before it was the Consumer Purchase Decision Journey, it was the AIDA model. This stands for “Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.” However, this model is somewhat obsolete now because of the rise in technology. Marketers and consumers are now able to interact with each other from both ends instead of the one-way communication from the past. This is where media planning comes in. In this digital age, how marketers utilize media can make or break them. Because people may start their journey at different points, it’s vital for marketers to ensure they’re using the right strategies at each step. Knowing the best way to reach the consumer provides a good start. Consumers that need a product will respond better to TV ads than they would if it were on a website. Further, consumers that are already loyal to a product prefer social media ads (since they likely follow this brand) over displays (Batra, 2016). Proper media planning requires knowledge of the Consumer Purchase Decision Journey.

Social-Media-Icons

While we’re still somewhat on the topic of media and technology, let’s discuss how the AIDA model moved to this new journey. As more advertising outlets came about, marketers were able to establish a better connection to their audience. The AIDA model works as a funnel, where you have more people in the “awareness” stage and they trickle down until a few actually consume the product in the “action” stage. It was extremely important to reach the people in the lower funnel, and this was done through sending emails or coupons to those in the desire and action stages.

Now, however, technology allows for increased and faster communication. Potential consumers can read online reviews before buying a product, search for better deals while they’re in the store, and even order items with one click. Brands can reach audiences of all ages; one popular way is through Twitter. Brands utilize current events, slang terms, and “roasting” their competitors online to gain followers.

With these changes, every individual’s journey can be unique. While your journey might take 30 minutes, mine could take 3 days; you might get sucked into the loyalty loop, but my experience with the product wasn’t enough to keep me coming back. Next time you’re triggered to purchase something, buckle up and see where the journey takes you.

References

Batra, R., & Keller, K. L. (2016). Integrating Marketing Communications: New Findings, New Lessons, and New Ideas. Journal of Marketing,80(6), 122-145. doi:10.1509/jm.15.0419

Featured image: http://www.businessinsider.com/subaru-dog-tested-campaign-2014-1

McKinsey Model: https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2015/10/12/marketers-need-to-drastically-rethink-the-customer-decision-journey/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

Aida Model: http://www.bluemagnetinteractive.com/blog/2017/01/31/connecting-with-guests-during-acquisition/

Social media icons: http://www.reactivegraphics.co.uk/instagram-update/