Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I just received a call from the British nanny that takes care of Herschel when I am out on the road. She and Herschel just completed evening Tai Chi in the Atlanta city park adjacent to my home.

How lovely.

Herschel is a cocker spaniel I adopted from the Cocker Rescue Mission about nine years ago.

This past week, the AP released a story about a wedding event in which two dogs exchanged vows. The owners of the two dogs then had a champagne reception. The dogs probably honeymooned out in the back yard while the owners sipped the bubbly!

Next time online, check out Doggiedesigner.com. it’s one of the places to go to get the tuxedo for Spot and the “limited edition” wedding dress for Candy. Theweddingoutlet.com is where to go for the best man (dog?) and maid-of-honor bandanas and assorted dog ring pillows.

Doggie weddings are only the tip of the iceberg.

In 2007, over 72 million homes in the US own a dog and/or cat. We have more parents of pets than parents of kids!

There’s pet daycare, pet nannies, pet therapists, pet funeral homes, frozen pet yogurt, doggie biscuit bakeries, pet videos, doggie Muzak and environmentally sensitive pooper scoopers!

The US Pet Industry will top out over $41 billion this year…that is nearly double the spending 10 years ago.

Big name companies including like Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy are now offering lines of pet products ranging from dog shampoo, pet attire, and name-brand toys to gourmet treats and food. InterContinental Hotels launched Hotel Indigo that caters to dogs and their owners.

Seen any commercials, ads, websites, promotions or YouTube videos featuring pet bonding to tug at your emotional heartstrings?

Not many are out there…

Hey Fido…go fetch the stick!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Email Fix!

The Email State Center reports 83% of the marketers surveyed choose Email marketing as the most important advertising medium they plan to use in 2007. And more than 70% plan to increase their Email marketing budget in 2008.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) estimates that in 2007 U.S. marketers will spend $500 million on email marketing to generate $21.9 billion in sales, an 18.3% increase in Email marketing expenditures over 2006.

According to Jupiter research, the average American is receiving 45+ Emails a day. The average businessperson is receiving 125+ Emails a day.

The two biggest objectives for using Email marketing are customer acquisition and customer retention.


In an average day, I receive more than 200 Emails…and that’s with Apple’s latest version of screener software.

Starting last week, I decided to take back control.

In the last five days, I have contacted AT&T, Bank of America, Chase Financial, Wal*Mart, Home Depot, Newsweek, FTD, Weight Watchers, Nutrisytem, Golf Pro and told them to please take my Email address off of their list.

A number of them actually told me that it was “impossible” to do and that I should just trash the Emails when I receive them.

After receiving three duplicate Emails form a local production shop here in Atlanta called Lab 601 Digital Post the receptionist told me that “the system” hadn’t been updated and that it was actually beyond their control that I received the number that I did.

WOW…what a great avenue of customer retention!

When I first started serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia, I generated some controversy among the fellow professors when I told my students that in today’s world of brand culture and relationship marketing the old model of reach and frequency is dead.

Marketing directors, agency account executives and media planners who are out there getting their daily fix off of the Email numbers will ultimately pay the price when more of the consumer public says enough is enough. The consumer public will not hesitate to post the brands that fail at understanding “permission marketing.”

At BrandVenture, we have a wonderful resource that allows clients to target market lifestyle groups at the ZIP+6 level of household versus blanket marketing across an entire market landscape or trade area.

When a client asked me last week why even consider direct mail when Email marketing is so hot, I replied simply…the last I looked, I received a maximum of 15 items in my snail-box mail-box versus the 200+ stream of Emails on my MacBook Pro.

And because I am visual, I actually enjoyed physically touching the direct mailer, opening it up and seeing the pictures!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Cultural Outlets

This past weekend, I did a little market anthropology by visiting a couple of outlet malls. Driving north out of Atlanta, there are several large and small discount malls that I pass en route to my mountain cabin.

I remember back about 25 years ago working on a chain of outlet malls while at an agency in Tennessee. Back then outlet malls were expanding from the hinterlands to right smack in suburbia where the Jones could get the fashion name brands at true discount prices.

Times do change.

For the average middle and upper middle class American, out are the name brands and department stores and in are places like Target and Trader Joes where “you pay less and be cool.”

The cheaper Mossimo and Keanan Duffy T-shirts have replaced the pricey Ralph Lauren Polo label. And “Two Bucks Chuck,” the Trader Joes wine line makes evening dinners at home affordably chic.

So who’s out seeking Ralph, Calvin and Tommy for visual endorsement?

In many ways, outlet malls have become the gathering place of the new working class…many emerging from South-of-the-Border.

First generation Americans celebrate success and wear it proudly on their sleeves. Brand names are symbols of achievement like merit badges in the Boy Scouts.

Are savings accounts and stamp books coming back in Vogue among the established class?

Maybe so…

Gone are the days of the high fashion outlet malls, but hey… if Jorge can get a Tommy jacket for 15% less than at the suburban mall… Es un Trato! (that’s a deal!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Next Housing Boom?

Yesterday the Dow hit an all time record high of 14,087 and much of media along with the business community was surprised. After all, the media has been fixated on the demise of the mortgage industry and how bad the middle-class is reeling.

Perhaps the investment community has let wisdom and insight take hold.

Fact is that more than 97% of homeowners today are sitting on fixed rate loans and not affected by any climbing interest rates or balloon loans. And a fair share of the other 3% are qualifying and switching to a fixed interest rate that is lower than their flexible and interest-only rates.

Better yet, 71 million Millenniums (not a typo!) are moving through our high schools and colleges and entering the job market and are seeking out their place to call home sweet home.

The media doesn’t seem to want to tell that story. Nor the “head in the sand” real estate agents!

Is the 4 bedroom/3 bath/1 acre lot subdivision house the dream home of the Millenniums?

I don’t think so.

With some innovative thinking, cool design and smart marketing, there is a need surge that will drive the Dow even higher…and maybe the real estate agent will be seeking advice from the “born again” travel agent of the 1990s.

Go Wall Street!