guy with mobile phone

"You can catch more flies with honey than you can swat with a sharp stick."

In this analogy, the flies are your customers--very hard to catch-- and the product or service you offer is the honey. The question is: Are your offerings wonderfully irresistible? How can you make them so?

Quality is important, but in the current marketplace it is more important to know precisely what matters most to your customer. A "total quality" product may not be affordable; your customers may be happy with a lot less. Of course, customer service is a key, but that is no different than what your competitors are offering. What makes products and services truly irresistible is a unique differentiation-- something that the customer can't get anywhere else. For example, there is a self-serve gas station where the manager will pump your gas for you at the self-serve price. Now that's honey.

The sharp stick of Top Marketing Concept #1 is direct mail or email facilitated by database marketing. People will invest a lot in this form of advertising because they believe that sending a message by mail or email into homes or businesses insures that it will be noticed and read. Not so. You see, even with a pointed stick you can still miss your target. You need a swatter, a broader instrument. Some experts call that "integrated direct marketing" and they define such an effort as comprising print advertising in appropriate trade or niche publications, an 800 number, some telemarketing or personal selling efforts, perhaps some billboards or www banners, plus direct mail.

We recommend complementing your direct mail/email with other media. This builds your image and reinforces your message, and it is the interplay among various media that increases your direct mail/email response to way over the 2% which is the industry average for mailings that are not supported by any other media or efforts.

But first, start with the honey. Because you can point and swat all you want, but without honey, you may never catch the busy things.

To achieve share of mind in the midst of media clutter and busy lifestyles, every ad or promotional piece must grab attention and be remembered. How? Claiming even a tiny territory in the average person's mind is the military equivalent of establishing a U.S. outpost in enemy territory.

Luckily, there are certain tricks of the marketing trade related to the human love of word play. From the simple rhyme or alliteration to the more complex forms such as acronyms and onomatopes--words that suggest the sound associated with their meaning such as buzz or gag-- nearly all people enjoy alphabetic acrobatics.

The made-up word is one trick that can provoke attention and memorability. An example of a coined company name is Kodak. Kodak’s founder, George Eastman, set the following criteria for his trademark before inventing it: 1. a short word that meant nothing, 2. that could not be easily misspelled, and 3. that had strong aural impact. Today, Kodak is still a premier name in its field.*

Of course, made-up names need not be meaningless. New words range in familiarity from their suggestive natures to actual use of known words. Kleenex is associated with the word clean which suggests what to do with the product. Minutemaid combines two familiar words and suggests the length of time needed to prepare the product.

Any made up-word can be memorable if set to music, as proven by supercalifragilisticexpeali- docious. But not every company utilizes radio or TV to take advantage of the benefits offered through musical jingles. Be advised, though, that these benefits are so invaluable that you should consider a jingle for your firm videoor webpage.

Not every situation lends itself to word invention, but before formally introducing your new venture or promotion, ask yourself or your marketing consultant: Could this product or event gain notoriety by naming it with a new word? Would an imaginative name help to differentiate it and sell it?

*From The Name's The Thing by Henri Carmasson, AMACOM. 1988.

©2001. DAY Communications/fastzone.com. All rights reserved.

steer

Profit By An Image Upgrade!

You know your products or services are unique-- and better than the competition's. But how can you convey that to today's sophisticated consumers and prospects in today's saturated marketplace? One way is to add a service mark (SM) to your company, name or service, or to update your product's trademark (TM).

A TM is a word, symbol, design or any combination of those elements, a slogan or even a distinctive sound which identifies and distinguishes your goods from those of other firms. When it identifies a service it is called a service mark. TM's and SM's not only differentiate products or services, they promote and sell them. They provoke thought, evoke a mental image, or insure memorability through rhyme, alliteration, symbols or pictures, which helps to increase sales or billings. One of the deans of advertising, David Ogilvy, considered a product's brand mark-- the symbol, color or design aspect of its trademark to be a first-class ticket through life.

"Just do it", "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand",  "Membership has its privileges"....A Quaker man, a girl with an umbrella and box of salt, Aunt Jemimah...You know the companies, and their trademarks make you feel good about their products and services.

But TM's and SM's are not just for megacompanies. They're for any business seeking to win more business. Why not update your product's label with a new brand mark? Or, if you offer a line of services, consider giving them promotional names to enhance their appeal.

If yours is a service firm, boost your image with a slogan that shows up on your stationery, capabilities brochure, ads and specialty items. It's a good way to let people know you're growing, changing and innovating. Call us today for creative assistance with an image upgrade.

Little known facts about trademark registration

Federal registration is not necessary for trademark protection, but does provide the right to sue in Federal court for infringements. Many trademarks currently in use are simply protected by state and common law. We do, however, recommend a simple trademark search before publishing or applying a mark, even if registration seems unnecessary.

Before November 16, 1995, a trademark owner could file an application for a Federal registration only if the mark was in use on goods which were shipped or sold, or on services that were rendered, in commerce which could be controlled by Congress. After that date, the law changed, and intent to use is now the requirement for registering a trademark.

Prior to registration, many trademark owners use a TM or SM symbol to indicate a claim of ownership, even if no Federal trademark application is pending. The fee is approximately $300 for each class of goods or services for which application is made, plus legal services fees to verify the originality of the mark.

Please call on us for assistance with a trademark or service mark or for referrals to trademark attorneys.

©2001. DAY Communications/fastzone.com. All rights reserved.

concerned

"A pessimistic outlook can be more damaging to your company than faltering demand for your product of service." - Anon.

"Be aware that research has shown that companies that continue to advertise in adverse economic times will gain market share. Why? Simply put, it's because your competitors are sitting idly waiting for the market to turn around, while you're aggressively pursuing business!" - the Strategic Planning Institute of Cambridge, Mass., "Profit Impact of Marketing Strategy" Study.

"With talk of recession, budget deficits, ... and uncertainty with respect to interest rates, it is important to develop contingency marketing plans. No one knows which economic scenario will develop, but with the bottom line at stake, it is crucial to be prepared to adjust operations for the greatest possible profits...IN ANY EVENT!" - Avraham Shama

Avraham Shama in his book, Marketing In A Slow-Growth Economy, suggests these activities may help marketing managers:
    1.    Study how inflation affects the target consumers. Different targets are affected differently. Thus, various degrees of modifying the marketing mix are called for.
    2.    Keep costs down but don't lower prices, since consumers will relate this to low quality--which could result in decreased demand.
    3.    Institute a flexible price policy; frequent adjustment of prices may be important. An examination of the cost and price structure for consumer goods every 90 days is wise. Maintain competitive pricing. Emphasize profit margins, not sales volume.

The buzz words to use in advertising messages are: VALUE, ECONOMIZE, SALE, FUNCTIONAL.

star ideas

Here are some idea starters to help you revive your business.

Send a survey to customers and employees. If possible, send the sales team out to get the score on your business performance. Find out what customers value most.

Ask yourself: "What is the news about our product?" People want to know the news.

Create news by devising a new application. Brainstorm the possibilities with us.

Discover the online implications for your industry; do online research to see what your competitors are up to.

Do reverse brainstorming. Make a list of negative attributes to serve as a basis for discussing improvements.

Think of your offering as the profits it offers the customer's business. Sell it as such.

Adopt a new service mark or slogan. Then make sure everyone knows it.

Introduce a contest. People love getting something for nothing. Have a drawing and then add the names submitted to beef up your database.


Remember how to REAP rewards:
Respect your clients. Customers today are better educated and more demanding. Stop seeing prospects as targets, and consider how you might best engage them. Your aim is to connect. One message probably isn’t enough. Respect differences.

Explore media opportunities or find an agency that is enthusiastic about doing so. The proliferation of media can be viewed by marketers either as an overwhelming maze or an exciting challenge. Choose the latter. Seek out new ways to advertise. Consider sponsoring a special event, advertising on video games or bus wraps, or participating in a trade show or convention of a group you are not familiar with. And what about SMS (short “text” messages) among staff, along with every other internet and telecommunications advance, to stay on top of your marketing mission?

Audit your marketing program– A marketing audit will enable you to: 1. Evaluate your current situation; 2. Identify marketing opportunities 3. List some marketing objectives, leading you to: 4. Outline strategies and action plans, and 5. Develop budget estimates. Those five items comprise a one-year marketing plan. See The Zer0-based Marketing Audit.

Provoke people, but in good ways. To stand out, don’t forget what people respond to: rhyme, alliteration, musical jingles, colors, and of course, your genuine concern. Pique their curiosity, evoke emotion, but DON’T manipulate. Remember, respect!

serving a product

A renowned theatrical producer, David Belasco, created a maxim when he said, "If you can't write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea." That insight applies to advertising strategy. If you can't state yours in seven words or less, you don't have one that will work.

What is an advertising strategy? Why must it be brief? Who should devise it? How often should it be changed? Good questions!

An advertising strategy is a premise that makes a promise. The premise is a succinct answer to the question, "What business are we in?" It is stated as a benefit or problem solution, that is, as a promise, to your customers and prospects.

For example, the business of a beauty salon is to offer services that help to groom its customers so they will look their best and feel better about themselves, which helps them to be more successful. A shortened version of that mission might be: Quality salon services to help people look beautiful, feel great and get ahead.

Since happy, successful people usually have an air of vivacity, we can abbreviate the strategy to seven words: Quality salon services to give people pizzazz. The strategy is now a simple message which will serve as the foundation of the salon's advertising program. Interestingly, it can also be recast as a name for the business, PIZZAZZ! Or, if the business already has a name, PIZZAZZ FOR YOU! might be used as a service mark.

An advertising strategy is a core concept. It must be focused because the marketplace is deluged with signs and advertisements and there is only a moment to grab attention. It must not be simply a list of attributes; people want to know--"What's in it for me?" Only a premise with a promise has the power to drive your marketing plan and direct your creative strategy.

Do it yourself?

As to the question of who should formulate the strategy, it may be possible to devise your company core concept in-house. In the same way, lots of people dye their own hair at home in the kitchen-- but it's safer to go to a professional. A limp strategy is worse than having orange hair.

An advertising agency will:

  1. Assist you to define your marketing challenge
  2. Find the drama in your product or service and translate that to a meaningful benefit
  3. Analyze your target market and secondary markets
  4. Thoroughly study your competition
  5. Develop a strategy that will position your product or service to break through media clutter, be perceived in a memorable way, and generate sales.


The "big idea" which all creative people strive for depends on the advertising strategy to be kindled. A good agency will tailor ads to embody the strategy. We'll insure that all aspects of your advertising program dovetail into a premise with a promise.

Finally, when is it time to change your strategy? September is a good month to review your advertising program as you set a new budget for the coming year and devise new plans. As well, there's no time like the present. Call us to discuss whether it's time to change your strategy or to discover how to get more mileage out of your present one.

©2014. DAY Communications. All rights reserved.

woman taking a quiz

Circle one:

T F 1. The focus group is a respectable research method for collecting input to guide product or marketing decisions.

T F 2. A good way to grab attention in advertising is through alphabetic acrobatics.

T F 3. In 2000 the definition of marketing changed.

T F 4. Couponing is a helpful gimmick for increasing sales.

T F 5. The four components of marketing are: Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

Answers:

1 - False. Since a typical focus group has eight to 10 members and normally four groups are polled on a given topic, the total sample is 32 to 40 people. It is too small to offer stable results, and it is not representative of any particular segment. Dominant voices can affect the group, and the moderator's ability can temper the responses. Focus groups can be helpful to explore a topic, get some suggestions or provoke opinions, or they can be used to pick up the language of consumer behavior.

- from The Marketing Revolution by Kevin Clancy and Robert Shulman

2 - True. Alphabetic Acrobatics, that is, "playing on words" --is! Other techniques of "stopping power" include:

- Open minded narrative (picture or thought) in which the resolution is not presented
- Ironic twists on ordinary behavior
- Incongruity of visual elements and/or words by unusual juxtaposition of elements
- Exaggeration
- Simplification
- Shocking visual or headline
- Participation visuals (tests, games)

- from The Young and Rubicam Traveling Creative Workshop

3 - False. It was in 2004 that the American Marketing Association issued a new definition of marketing... "Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders." Not all marketers like this definition, but –simply put– it underscores that “Marketing is everyone’s job.”

4 - False. There is no evidence that couponing increases sales in the long run. Any sort of discounting tends to educate customers to buy only when they can get a deal. A "sale" says to your prospect that your regular prices are too high. Like so many other areas of life (spending money, taking drugs, having sex) the long-term effects of your actions are often the opposite of the the short-term effects. Why is it so hard to comprehend that marketing effects take place over an extended period of time?

- from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

5 - Traditionally True, but one marketing maven says its four components are: Advertising, Promotion, Publicity, and Contesting. He defines advertising as the purchase of exposure in mass media, promotion as an event requiring attendance or some form of participation by those invited, publicity as free media coverage, and contesting as a promotion that creates excitement for your entire marketing program. Everyone wants to get something for nothing, so contests are a fabulous lure.

- from Creating Demand by Richard Ott

shopper

"A bridge over troubled waters is better than burning your bridges after you've crossed them."

Companies tend to stop advertising in times of economic downturn or at a point when it just doesn't seem like the program is working. The troubled waters could be a recession or they could represent a time of year when people don't buy as much of what you sell. But at those times, what will happen if you drop your advertising? Will people forget you? Will someone steal your customers? Possibly.

Picture this: You have built a bridge, that is, a communication link to your customers. You have built up a certain amount of awareness. If you stop advertising, that will be lost. You will lose your investment. As one marketing guru has put it, "The bond of communication is too precious to break capriciously." Remember, it does take time for a program to show results. So be consistent in your efforts; regard them as an investment and be committed.

You need one bridge or program to reach, retain and cross-sell customers, and another to reach prospects. Often, people think of advertising only as a way to reach prospects, and that is unwise. In today's marketplace, retaining your customer base is a key to survival. To retain customers, do simple things like reinforcing purchase decisions with a "thank you" or with an elaborate brochure that celebrates the benefits of the purchase.

We usually court the customer with a brilliant website and gorgeous printed materials to sell the product, but once it's sold, we think all is well. However, that may be the very time when the customer begins to doubt his decision especially on large ticket items. At this point he needs a congratulations or other positive reinforcement. That will assure positive word-of-mouth advertising.

To get new customers, you need a creative advertising program which features a simple message touting customer benefits, not product attributes. Remember, a benefit is what a product or service attribute does for the customer. Make that clear to capture their attention and awareness. Then repeat the strategic yet simple message with as much frequency as your budget will allow.

©2014. DAY Communications/fastzone.com. All rights reserved.

lady seeking ideas

Despite continual change, some things remain true:

ADVERTISING
The foundation for a successful ad campaign is still adequate research and analysis. Because of all the new media, messages and companies, careful research is essential before brainstorming for creative insight. Otherwise, imitation could occur.

MARKETING
A message that explains and promotes a company’s offerings in a focused, fresh way is crucial, but no message can help a product or service that needs to be improved or updated. The “4 Ps of Marketing” still apply: Number 1 is the Product/service, and Promotion still is the last P. To help you think about your products and services, download DAY Communications' free marketing worksheets.

MEDIA PLANNING
The internet is not replacing the print media, but has affected the function of print. A brief print message that points to a lengthier message on a website may be a good use of print. Reinforcing your message to your target audiences through a variety of media is still the best approach.

YOUR WEBSITE
Keeping a website up to date, attractive to Search Engines, and pertinent to customer’s interests, is common sense. Using common sense is important in an age of rapid change, but informing your sense of what is commonly true could require a lot of google-ing or bing-ing.

GRAPHIC DESIGN
The principles of graphic design generally still apply, but not wholly. For example, should a designer should use muted and unusual colors when marketing to more intelligent people? Are bright colors for the less educated? The experts of the last century said so, but one marketing guru, Tom Peters, has stated that the Internet has made necessary the use of bright colors.

DAY Communications is committed to your success in TODAY's marketplace.

bus advertising and much more

How will you invest in your business in the coming year? Which options will you pursue in your quest for growth and a profit? As you lay plans for 200?, we encourage you to budget a tax deductible 5%-7% of your gross sales or billings to advertise. This amount is usually considered a minimum. In a competitive marketplace, it's a necessary operating expense-- NOT an option, even in times of economic recession.

Generally, a greater market share, faster growing markets, new products or services, or higher quality products necessitate spending more than the minimum budget amount to get results. Companies may spend as much as 20% of gross sales or more to launch a new product or service.

A frequently asked question is: "Should I figure my percentage based on last year's gross sales or on what I think this year's will be?" The answer to that question matters a great deal less than HOW you spend it.

Don't invest in short-lived programs or schemes which equate to junk bonds. To maximize your investment, let us help you set a definite figure itemized in an annual plan.

Once we understand your goals and objectives, we can recommend a realistic outlay for advertising in support of their attainment. And we'll develop concepts and programs that will add excitement to your day-in-day-out road to achievement.

Also, by involving us in your annual business plan, you can trust us to evaluate the proposals of all media salespeople over the course of the year. By referring them to us, you will save time and aggravation.

By the way, don't think of advertising only as newspaper, radio or www banners. E-letters, annual reports, capabilities or product brochures, and even instruction booklets can be used as promotional literature to sell your firm to prospects and build its image with customers to encourage repeat business. We can assist you with the range of collateral pieces-- (our jargon for) items which extend your advertising message or explain your firm or products to the public. We can produce such literature in print, for broadcast or on the Internet. Let's make plans.

Most of us who make a living tethered to a computer understand the concept of verbal-visual composing. We call it "adding eye-candy" to the text. But on a higher level where advertising and marketing campaigns are devised for Fortune 100 or Inc. 5000 clients, the process takes on a high-stakes urgency to employ methods that produce Results.

So, it's good to know that the ivory-tower set is at work to explore and teach verbal-visual composing. In Envisioning Collaboration, Dr. Geoffrey A. Cross places a gigantic magnifying glass over an unnamed ad agency in the throes of developing a media campaign for an important prospect. He joins the team as an observer and researcher in an "ethnographic" approach. This type of "real-world" exploration will be helpful in teaching students how to benefit employers in search of better marketing mousetraps.

As well, the book is helpful for ad agencies and the academic community. Each group will gain a finer appreciation for the other by learning more about how its polar opposite approaches the topic, and will learn insights to apply to work projects. Perhaps it will open some doors for a fraternal order where ad people provide war stories for professors to debrief, and bring about some needed camaraderie.

Cross, a specialist in Collaborative Business Communication at the University of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.), sets forth to evaluate and build on theories that have been developed by fellow academics on how writers and commercial artists can best interface for successful creative work.

As software and website resources make it easier and faster to combine verbal and visual content, and as visual content takes the lead in guiding viewers and readers, those involved in procuring "share of mind" for companies whose public-enemy-number-one is the information glut, need the best training and insights possible.

Artists and writers understand the trends, so in collaborating, their private spheres are not as guarded as in the past.

Creative people deserve respect!

Too many variables influence the process of developing an ad message. Good grief, we ad people must thoroughly study and understand the effects of current challenges on our customer's industry, how to differentiate the customer's offerings, what the mix of media AND messages ought to be to reach and capture the right audiences, and how to pitch to all those people with a view to their psychographics and demographics, as we take advantage of the latest tools and techniques for creative work, with the goal of achieving the edge. It's a lot to do.

The staff at the agency under Dr. Cross's scrutiny was in the process of doing all those things. With the "creative brief" in mind, the creative people went to work to come up with concepts that would develop into comprehensive layouts to show the prospect.

Although the creative process is ephemeral in nature, Dr. Cross does expose its chimeric underbelly. At the end of the book, one feels his good, long, hard look at creativity-in-motion provides a reality check for us creative types before we start on the next big project.

Verbal-visual composing relies on inspiration and brainstorming, yet there are tips and tricks and boundaries that can be set so that inventive minds do not spin without weaving, and so that results can be successfully applied to the key media.

This study revealed the importance of personal selling within a planned environment, and had a happy ending: the special reward of customer loyalty and appreciation for hard work.

I recommend this book to agencies and creative people seeking to hone the skills and processes that shape their ad campaigns. Although the creative process normally moves at warp speed, some reflection on how it works or is derailed can only help to guide it.

Envisioning Collaboration: Group Verbal-Visual Composing in a System of Creativity, by Geoffrey A. Cross. Published by Baywood Publishing Co., Amityville, NY, 2011.

Color talks

Your company colors communicate. Ideally, they add suggestive and symbolic connotations to your name and logo, accentuate them, and make them more perceptible, easier to identify. Ideally, they evoke a positive response and feeling in your customers and prospects. How are your colors performing?

We all instinctively recognize that colors symbolize concepts, and even the least artistically inclined among us would know not to use bright red on a nursing home letterhead or light blue for a trial attorney. But how does one determine the right colors for a new company or for a firm seeking to update its image? How will you determine the best selection of colors for your firm brochure? Consult with us. We'll help you be original without straying from the ground rules of good taste.

Times change. Architectural styles evolve, fashions are updated, and so are the colors of business. Rapid technological change and the trend of our society toward a service economy have made fresh colors and new color combinations the rule rather than the exception, because they have the power to tell the story.

Also, colors can help you achieve various communications objectives. For example, dull colors help to reduce tension. Add gray to a vivid color to get a dull one. Or, keep that vivid color if you want people to pay attention.

Want to show you are unique? Use an eccentric color like fuchsia, or introduce an unusual color combination such as burgundy with peach rather than gray or navy as is usually seen.

The ink companies always keep pace with the times by creating new colors for graphic designers. The Internet boasts thousands of colors! We're sure there’s a new color especially for your firm.

Of course, changing colors will affect nearly all the items which identify your firm to its publics. However, as with all professional advertising, it is a justifiable operating expense, and an investment which may spur new inquiries and growth. Contact us to profit by new colors.

Have you ever studied your own buying habits? You would find that quite a number of your purchases are made on impulse, probably many because of a persuasive radio commercial. Relative to TV, newspapers and magazines, the elapsed time between exposure and the day's largest purchase is shortest with radio.

Moreover, according to an industry study, radio reaches PRIMARY CONSUMER TARGET GROUPS such as:

  • Full-time working women
  • Professional managerial men, and
  • Households with above-average income.

Radio goes with us anywhere, and generally costs less per thousand than other media. It is very effective in targeting distinct groups of consumers, and offers immense potential for creative, emotional and persuasive messages. No wonder many businesses with limited advertising budgets DO RADIO!

Here are some ideas to help you get the most from your radio buy:

  1. The first few seconds of the ad must get the listener to pay attention; the next 5-10 seconds are the most important part of the commercial.
  2. Humor and drama can be very effective in retaining the listener's attention.
  3. The most creative and successful radio marketing strategies often involve barter. For example, a station may offer a grocery free advertising in exchange for donating a shopping spree for listeners who call in at the right time, or correctly answer a question. It is estimated that such promotions can yield two to three times the exposure of simple radio spots.
  4. Reaching specific niches such as women 18-34 or African Americans or teens is facilitated by station formats.
  5. Advertising spots during and adjacent to weather forecasts can be effective for some products because of the impact of weather patterns on consumer behavior.

Before you buy radio, contact us for an unbiased opinion of the station's reach, and assistance with effective scheduling and production.

vanilla ice cream

Why not rather be passionate?

It's always disturbing when I'm relaxing at night to see a TV commercial for Wix or another such competitor to DAY Communications' wonderful services. It's painful because— what can they offer that I can't? Nothing! You just get an interface rather than a real face (consultation), a template rather than a custom design, and  "wal-mart" server solutions rather than intelligent hosting with custom features.

What do "free" websites offer? They'll give you a cookie-cutter "professional web presence" with "high-quality designs," a little SEO, wording to start you out based on your industry, and a CMS (content management system) that lets you add images and content easily, for ONLY $9.99/month (or $19.99 or $29.99 if you what more bells and whistles), or if only for personal use, it's perhaps $4.99/month after a brief free trial.

Add e-commerce for an additional $4.99/month and you get nothing but PayPal functionality, a free add-on for any website, or for $19.99/month (additional to your base fee) you get the CMS with order and inventory management, etc. For more money, you can feature more products and get more GBs for loading content and getting more traffic. pistachio and chocolate ice cream on sugar cone

Compare that to a BlogEngine or Office365 website solution, which are DAY Communications' out-of-the-box solutions for people who want an instant web app. For my custom design fee plus reasonable hosting fees you can have branded email and a CMS that is MUCH more sophisticated and flexible. There is no comparison between Office 365 and WordPress. And BlogEngine permits addition of custom AND plugin functionality.

Add PayPal for free, or let us help you find an ecommerce solution that complements your site.

How do you add up your cost in time and aggravation, or business lost because of wording that really does not explain your services? You will spend far less with me and you'll get a Pistachio Cherry or Chocolate Marble CMS.

DAY also provides custom design and set up for multiple blogs, various apps, and websites with full ASP.NET functionality. If any of your web information needs to convert to print, no matter what format, we can do that as well.

PHOTO CREDITS: Vanilla - Jeff Prieb, sxc.hu | Pistachio-Chocolate - Becco Eliacik, sxc.hu

newspaper

How to predict the future!

by Anne Yeiser

What is your method for analyzing the need for new products and services? When it's impossible to survey every potential customer, how do you make your public relations and marketing decisions?

Trend Watching by John E. Merriam and Joel Makower gives a technique for research and prognostication through simple counting and measuring of stories in the news media. Why would this method provide insight for market analysis?

The media create trends, say Merriam and Makower, which steer the economy and society. Basically, media messages (we're speaking here of news, not ads) exert influence on the public mind, leading to later action. In our time, "Nothing really happens unless the media cover it." And the amount of coverage is an indicator of trends.

This does not mean that journalists are the chief movers and shakers of society, since what they report is what is happening and what people want to know. Events, developments and concerns are the stuff of news flows, and by finding patterns in these flows, you are using information about information to keep pace in an age of rapid change.

Trend watching is how John Naisbitt formulated his predictions in Megatrends. It is being practiced by major corporations in order to see where society is heading and better meet market demand. "It is not a public affairs operation; it is an attempt to understand social change and to find useful answers for the operations team." If they do it and make millions, why not you?

What is trend watching?

To be a trend watcher, you need to read or watch news media, count issues and events, record them for later examination, and use that data to formulate predictions about what may happen over the next one to five years.

Trend watching is not market research, which gathers data on what groups of people are thinking, but it is a support for this function.

Trend watchers recognize that in this Information Age, the key to business profits is knowing how to find, acquire, use and sell information. The successful entrepreneur must be able to discern how bits of information are related, and sort through the "noise" of the glut of messages to retrieve meaningful data.

It is important for trend watchers to look at the news flow on national and local levels, and to review a variety of media, including newspapers, news magazines, TV news shows, specialty publications, and trend-setting media such as The New England Journal of Medicine or Science Magazine.

The exact mix of these depends upon your objective in trend watching, but it shouldn't be necessary to scan more than three newspapers (perhaps one national), several general or specialized magazines and two TV programs. Through setting up a simple system, scanning rather than reading, and, if possible, utilizing employees to help with the project, your trend watching will not take up an excessive amount of time.

The first step is to determine what you want to know. For example, if you are a builder, you need to track information in the areas of construction costs, finance, zoning and housing styles, among others. Don't let your list of categories be longer than 50 items, including both major titles and subheads.

Next, select the publications and programs that bring you stories on your topics of interest. Merriam and Makower describe a system for counting and calculating media exposures, and you may wish to purchase their book for the instructions. Basically, the count consists in adding the numbers by issue and by medium over a given period of time, which also entails measuring the amount of time or space each news item receives, converting them to percentages, deriving percentages for each medium, and crunching (making a single index of) the numbers.

You are then in a position to analyze and predict trends which may affect your business. Remember, a key to success is linking causes and effects among seemingly unrelated matters.

As the authors point out, we are all trend watchers on an unsophisticated level. By infusing our day-to-day watching with some rigor, we can sort through all the "noise" and glean messages to help steer the future. Large and small firms have used trend watching to find new products or new markets, gauge public relations, judge the competition, and detect dangerous market conditions. By trend watching, you keep score of what the public is learning, what it wants to know and what it chooses to ignore.

Merriam and Makower stress that we need to do this to cope with the massive changes and uncertainty that characterize our era. A lack of vision and an inability to plan may translate to a failure to compete.

[Note, although this book was published before the impact of the Internet, its insights are valid. Trend watchers of today must also add websites to their list of media to scan.]

Reprinted by permission of publisher from TREND WATCHING, by John E. Merriam and Joel Makower ©1986 AMACOM, a division of American Management Association, New York. All rights reserved.