Archive for the 'Misc.' Category

Death of the Handshake?

handshakeWant to know my mom’s advice on avoiding H1N1 and other sicknesses? Refuse to shake someone’s hand (or at the very least, disinfect right after). Try as I might, I simply can’t get her to understand why this might not be appropriate and may even be offensive in a business setting where we are expected to shake hands with clients, candidates and associates on a daily basis.

But it got me thinking…what if the impending H1N1 pandemic really is the death of the handshake as we know it. How will people greet each other when introduced – A wave? A wink? A thumbs up? A fist pump?  Maybe it will be common to hear people say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, but I’m now abstaining from shaking hands.”

Or perhaps nothing will need to be said at all. Maybe items like these from  IAFTAHA (the International Association for the Acceptance of Handshake Alternatives – whose mission is to “promote the acceptance of salutations sans shake”) will do  the talking for us.

All jokes aside, the inquisitive market researcher in me really wants to test it out first-hand (pun intended) and see how people react if I break the shake, but the professional in me never will. So, I turned to the most authoritative sources out there in my quest to seek an answer – twitter and facebook. I created a poll and asked my friends and followers to answer. Check out the results – they might surprise you (you can vote HERE):

flupoll

I’d personally be happy if someone said, “I’m battling a cold, so I won’t shake your hand.” And if I was the sick one, I’d provide the same courtesy.

Whether the handshake really will decline thanks to fears of catching H1N1 and the seasonal flu remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’ll keep my Purell handy.

Posted by Melissa Coyle

Do you agree with the poll results? Leave a comment and let me know!

60 seconds or less…

Breaking down hot topics in technology, media and marketing for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • File under, “Really?!”  A charity auction for an internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000. What’s worse…college grads so desperate for a job that they’ll pay five figures for one, or media companies trying to make their margins by selling internships?
  • Entrepreneurs, fear not! After meeting with more than a dozen Boston-area VCs, Tech Journal South reports that venture funds have available cash to invest, are actively looking for new deals and don’t expect the rest of the year to be as bad as the first quarter.  
  • The Wall Street Journal issues “Social Media Rules of Conduct” for its staffers. Among the rules? Editor approval is required before “friending” sources in Facebook or twitter.  Check out the entire list here.
  • What did you do by the time you were 25? Did you start a company that has generated 200 million users? Were you named one of the The World’s Most Influential People by Time Magazine? Were you ranked one of the richest people in America by Forbes, with a net worth of $1.5 billion? Had you made $240 million off of Microsoft? Well Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who turned 25 yesterday, has checked all those times of his list. I know, it hurts.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

60 seconds or less…

A new weekly feature breaking down technology, b2b and general marketing news for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • Twitter has rolled out a new update to its website that includes real-time search, trending topics and a slightly improved user interface. Will Twitter 2.0 be less buggy than the original? Magic 8 Ball says, “Reply hazy, try again.”  
  • According to a recent study, personality may be a more effective prediction tool for media usage than demographics. For instance, sarcastic folks who balk at rules are 60% more likely to be high consumers of media. Can’t wait to see those direct mail/email lists – “Sarcasm & Rule Breaker List, $425 CPM”.
  • Hot or not? Forecasts for mobile ad growth have been reduced, thanks to the current economic climate. But it’s still one of the faster growing ad segments, expected to grow 36% year over year.
  • A slew of recent surveys indicate that the slump’s not as bad as we might think in the tech sector. Among the data, Mass High Tech says 44% off the nearly 700 New England tech companies surveyed  have no plans for staffing changes (up from 35.4% in Q4).
  • First, TheFunded shook up the VC world with its blatantly honest reviews of firms. Now it’s changing the model for start-up incubators with TheFunded Founder Institute, free from on-site meetings and alternative stock compensation plans.
  • Looks like we’re safe, at least for one more Sunday. Does anyone else find it ridiculous that the Boston Globe union was so unwilling to compromise on the lifetime job guarantee issue? Talk about an antiquated mentality.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

2008: B-to-B Marketing Preview

It comes as no surprise that b-to-b marketers plan to increase their spending online and decrease print advertising in 2008. What may surprise folks, however, is that spend on direct mail and events is forecasted to rise in 2008.

We’re finding this to hold true with our own clients, too. I think this is because, in our technology-driven lives, we welcome a chance to re-connect with folks in a tangible, one-to-one way. Whereas maybe three years ago direct mail effectiveness was on the decline, folks are so overwhelmed now with email and online banter that they are starting to glaze over those and once again pay attention to what’s coming in the mail, especially if the creative is eye-catching and the offer relevant. And as great as virtual tradeshows are, you can’t beat the chance to pitch your product or service face-to-face at an event. Besides, we wouldn’t want to put the tchotchkes vendors out of business. 😉

In other forecasting news, the same study found that two-thirds of b-to-b marketers plan on increasing their overall marketing budgets – largely because they also plan on embarking on new campaigns. And, in terms of what online areas marketers will invest in, Website, Webcasts, email, search and video leads the pack. Finally, despite all of 2007’s hype around social media, only 20% of marketers are currently using it as part of their strategy and 69% are not planning to increase spend in this area.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

While everyone else in our region was busy last night with the big rivalry weekend and watching the Pats/Chargers game and the Sox/Yanks game, I was enjoying my own favorite past time…the start of awards seasons, and thus, the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year – TV premier season.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, TV is not just a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have, can’t-live-without-it passion. There is no other time I look more forward to more than when all the new shows kick off and I can finally let my everyday worries be cast aside by the drama that’s going on between Meredith and McDreamy and whether the new Gossip Girl series really will finally replace the vacant spot left in my heart when the OC went away.

The unofficial start to the fall TV season has always been the Emmy Awards, which aired last night. I watch every year, starting with the pre-show on E!, to see who’s with who, who’s wearing what, and of course, who wins. Usually, the pre-show outshines the actual show itself. But, I have to say that thanks to Ryan Seacrest, a cooler show format, the stellar nominees, the Kanye cameo, and the better-than-the-super-bowl commercials, the main event was fantastic.

I was thrilled to see the Sopranos take it for Best Drama and maybe the best character on TV right now – Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold – win Best Supporting Actor. Despite the fact that I didn’t agree with all of the winners (How can you not give James Gandolfini the Emmy…it’s Tony Soprano for god’s sake!! And as much as I adore Katherine Heigl, Chandra Wilson is by far the star of Grey’s!), the show overall was entertaining, lively, and a lot of fun to watch…more fun, I’m sure, then the Sox game. 🙂

So here’s a toast to TV…for bring sexy back to the drab awards shows and making my weekday evenings more complete. Cheers.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

BluePoint Summer Outing

Toyota is KING

There has been a new king of the auto industry crowned today, as Toyota has passed GM in sales of cars and trucks, not just in the US, but world wide. (See the story here) Spearheaded by the car-of-the-people Camry, Toyota has been inching ever close to GM’s coveted spot as the global leader in automobiles, finally passing them in 2007’s Q1 report.

I think pretty much everyone saw this coming. With GM producing lackluster car after car, designing what looked more like people transportation utensils than autos with a soul, Toyota took the “slow and steady wins the race” approach, coming out with not great, but pleasing designs, with superior quality at a great value time after time. It is only recently that GM has managed to inch back onto its wobbly two feet, importing cars from their European brands to do so.

With some of the largest branding and ad budgets of any company, the auto industry knows the importance of marketing’s impact on the bottom line. Here, we’ll take a look at a few of the brands and ads from GM and Toyota, and hopefully, figure out, at least in part, what went wrong.

Tundra vs. Silverado Winner: Tundra

The launch of Toyota’s updated Tundra line of trucks has more people than just David Ortiz smiling. Sure, any truck can drive through the mud at a construction site in their ads, but how about driving on a steel bridge right off a cliff only to brake before falling to a watery death? Or up the largest see-saw known to man? You won’t see a Silverado do that any day of the week.

Prius vs. Greenline/FlexFuel – Winner: Prius

The biggest fashion statement of the 21st century, the celebrity-driven Toyota Prius, sets the standard for eco-conscious driving in the US. The powerhouse vehicle has dominated the hybrid market for years, and has seen little competition from GM in this arena. Though Saturn has their “GreenLine” brand of hybrids, their performance doesn’t necessarily justify price, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone really knows about them, GM hasn’t put much money on their success as far as marketing goes. But who can blame them; it’s hard to compete with a car owned by Larry David.

FlexFuel, a new engine that runs on Ethanol as well as gas, is a great concept, but GM may have jumped the gun a bit on this one, as Ethanol is still nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find…time will tell, but I think they may be on to something here.

Lexus vs. Cadillac – Winner: Lexus

Both Lexus and Cadillac still have some work to do in the luxury segment. Aside from the Escalade, which seems to be popular among rappers and the country club set alike, Cadillac’s cars are not selling as great as they were right out of the gate, and the brand still lacks a “halo” vehicle or flagship luxury sedan.

Lexus, on the other hand, has taken huge strides in their latest round of product refreshes. The quality and technology are top notch, but many balked at the $100k price of a new LS (until they found out it could park itself). The company also offers hybrid models, giving the eco-wealthy a luxurious way to drive green.

Scion vs. ???? – Winner: Scion

Scion, Toyota’s decidedly young, hip, urban brand created on the cheap by the importing small, funky looking cars originally intended for Japan only has made a big impact despite only selling 3 different models. The brand has hit the mark as young people are actually buying it. The median age of a Scion driver is 39, the lowest in the industry. While Scion may still just be getting its legs in the auto industry, it is a perfect example of how important it is to “get ‘em while they’re young”. With the Scion brand sitting below Toyota and Lexus in the chain, there is a huge opportunity for them to build lasting relationships with customers, the axis of customer and brand.

GM is struggling to conjure up a vehicle or brand that resonates with young buyers. The company has small, affordable options, yes, but giving a car like the Aveo a tag line like “The Mighty Mouse of Cars” will not get you many 20 something males lining up to buy a re-badged Daewoo.

The company suffers from a crowded offering of brands, positioned too linearly. Pontiac, Saturn, Chevy and Buick all offer cars at relatively similar price points, and none of these namesakes seem to have enough prestige attached to position one above the other. Saturn’s upcoming Ion replacement, the Astra, seems like the company’s first great shot at a car for young people, and I really hope it succeeds.

Tiger Woods vs. Eddie Murphy – Winner: Eddie Murphy

Tiger Woods is an amazing athlete, and a symbol of excellence and precision, but did you watch that Eddie Murphy ad? 30 seconds of pure genius!

Toyota’s new title is well deserved, and, more importantly, a wake up call for American auto makers. While sales have been lagging for a while now, this could be considered their first real nail in the coffin.

Looking out my window right now there are 2 Toyotas, 2 Lexuses (Lexi?) and a Saab (a GM product). Proof God wanted me to write this? Yes. But also a pretty good indicator of at least the Northeast’s Toyota consumption, the highest selling region in the country for the company, and apparently, the world feels the same.

It’s time for Detroit to start giving the people what they want – better cars, better fuel economy, and if there’s a few bucks left over, hire Eddie Murphy.


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