Just a Marketing Girl…..


The Geico app homepage

The Geico app accident helper


There is no worse feeling than KNOWING you’re about to get into a car accident, and having to make the split second decision as to where you’re going to go to cause the lease amount of damage.

Car accidents are ALWAYS a hassle, but even more so when you’re in a brand new car with no physical insurance or registration cards. As if having your airbags deploy and getting burned and bruised isn’t enough, that cold feeling of dread also came over me this Saturday night when I realized ‘I don’t have my new cards yet’.

I hit someone pretty hard Saturday night, thank good he wasn’t injured and no one else was in the car, but the true beauty of technology shone through all the dark grumbles I had. My car was new, my insurance cards with the updated info hadn’t come in yet, and I was panicking. But, never fear, my iPhone was near! In less than 5 minutes I had opened my Geico app, took and uploaded photos, contacted an agent and had my cards delivered to me digitally via email. All of this info was also linked to my claim number, so I didn’t have to answer the same questions over and over again.

THe police officer who assessed the scene even mentioned how convenient it was to have all that information at my fingertips, and it made his job easier too. The app was even able to pinpoint my location so the agent on the phone didn’t have to ‘guestimate’ my actual location when filling out the report. The app even sent that location to the roadside assistant partner to have a tow truck sent. Everything was seamless, and in a time when my head was literally spinning it was comforting to know that technology was on my side.

Now, a few days later, my arm is bruised and burned from the airbag, my neck and head are still sore, but my insurance claim, which I was expecting to be the biggest headache of all, is being handled swiftly and I can track the progress of everything on my iPhone, a convenience that’s literally, priceless.


{March 4, 2011}   LeadsCon

Since Monday of this week I’ve been in Las Vegas for the LeadsCon Conference, LeadsCon is the preeminent conference dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of those operating in the online lead generation industry. LeadsCon provides a unique and collaborative environment designed for networking and sharing. It was the first time I attended this conference with LeadFlash, the company I’ve been with for almost a year and while I met tons of clients and potential clients I left this morning with one major thing on my mind, and that is how YOUNG everyone was!

I come from a traditional advertising background, tv and radio spots, newspaper ads and magazine inserts, and my supervisors were upwards of 50 most the time (which is still young, don’t want to ruffle anyfeathers!) but I always felt like a baby when I attended client meetings and trade shows.

At LeadsCon though, I was of average age. I didn’t meet many people above 40. It made me realize that I am now in an up and coming industry, and that I have the opportunities open to me to basically learn everything I can and carve out my own specialty interest.

The Lead Generation industry faces it’s own challenges, such as privacy. Most people aren’t aware that money is made SOMEWHERE each and every time they put their name somewhere, or even just a zip code or city name. Someone, somewhere, is making money off that information and is allowed to share it with others (as long as it isnt sensitive, such as bank account or SSN) because the consumer has opted in to sharing that information. Is it a bit unethical? Sure, but someone is going to do it.

{February 21, 2011}   I’m Just Not A Tweeter…


I wish the attraction were there...

I just can’t do it. I’m a social media hog, self proclaimed. I check Facebook a few times an hour, it’s the only place I communicate with friends, invite people to events or chat with family. It’s my life. My name is Michelle, and I have a Facebook Obsession.

That’s why, when Twitter came out,  I figured I would jump right into it, great! Another outlet for my social media needs, but for some reason, years later, I couldn’t even tell you what my password is. I’ve tried to rekindle the initial attraction for my graduate course this semester and the ‘across the bar eye contact’ just isn’t there. I’ve tried everything. I’m jealous of those who tweet consistently and have followers and hashtags and re-tweets, I want to be part of that lingo! Even my fiance, who is a self proclaimed facebook hater, who doesnt agree with the life of a Facebooker (updating statuses, posting pictures everywhere) has a Twitter. He follows football players and stand up comics and he’s becoming addicted (though he’d never admit it!).

Maybe I don’t like it because I feel like the 140 character limit is too constrictive. I fear the inability to express myself in such a short quip. Or maybe because my loyalty to Facebook may go away. I joined Facebook back in the day when it was solely meant for college students, and you needed a .edu email address to sign up. Now it’s blown up and while I like it (hello? addict, remember?!) the ability users of Twitter have to constrict their ‘feeds’ to only those they want to follow and talk to could be appealing. The way retailers are using Twitter also entices me since I’m a bargain shopper by nature. I love finding a deal.

At the end of the day, my little Facebook app on my phone is still my go-to social media outlet, I’ll never give it up. But maybe I’ll give Twitter another go…or maybe I’ll just wait until Facebook buys them out =)

{February 18, 2011}   Oh How I Love IKEA…

Hi, my name is Michelle, and I’m an IKEA-holic.

I admit, going to IKEA for me is comparable to a theme park. There are decorated rooms to see, things to touch and play with and a lines everywhere, what’s not the same?! The first time I went to an IKEA store was just a few years ago, and in those years my decorating sense has gone from ‘duhhhhhh I dunno’ to ‘Oh! An Expedit bookcase and Lack table go perfectly with my Karlstad sofa and Bjursta cabinet!’ It’s like starbucks lingo….for decor!

Porch light made out of a Ordning cutlery stand


I love that I can personalize my space with IKEA, but my world was turned over once AGAIN when I came across the Ikea Hackers blog. This blog contains hundreds of posts from people who have taken their IKEA products and customized them even further to create truly unique, one of a kind items. Some of these people are brilliant! Things I would have never thought of are suddenly the items I can’t live without.

The site is pleasing to the eye and extremely easy to navigate. Visitors can either scroll through postings in chronological order, or they can search for specific types of hacks (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom etc.) There’s even a list to the left of the page with individual IKEA product names. So if I happen to find an Expedit bookshelf on sale in the ‘as is’ section of the store that I don’t know what to do with, I can always turn it into something awesome. Like a minibar… 

Minibar made from an expedit bookshelf! Instructions found on ikeahackers.net


Which begged the question, though, why hasn’t IKEA partnered with this site yet? Some of my classmates brought up the issue of consumers who can get hurt building/using these hacks, but with simple legal speak IKEA can protect themselves against legal action should a consumer hurt themselves. So what gives?

Maybe it’s because they’re bitter they havent marketed the ideas themselves, or maybe it’s because they don’t want people using their items to create their own in the hopes that consumers continue to check the sites and stores until their ‘perfect item’ comes already pre-built or thought out. Whatever the reason, I love seeing the ingenious ways people have come up with to use their IKEA purchases, check some out for yourself! Who knows? Maybe there’s a DIY project in your future this weekend!

{February 1, 2011}   Directly Speaking…

Your name on that postcard isn't a coincidence


The direct marketing field is growing rapidly because of customization. Today’s average consumer wants everything they own, everything they do, to be a reflection of who they are. They are all unique and they want to be portrayed as such. Direct marketing gives retailers the opportunity to connect to consumers one-on-one and provide a customized service or choice, which direct and interactive marketing is perfect for. As Marakas and O’Brien have classified it, interactive marketing is “A dynamic collaborative process of creating, purchasing and improving products and services aimed at building close relationships between a business and its customers” (WVU, 2009).

Another reason direct marketing is successful is in its ability to be tracked and measured. In regards to interactive marketing, this tracking can be done in real-time with the aid of tracking pixels to calculate site hits on a website or cookies to measure the natural progression of websites visited after a consumer lands on a specific campaign page. The addition of the Internet in the recent past has made direct marketing explode, and since today’s families are busier than ever (with both husband and wife working outside the home in most cases) convenience and ease are important factors, which direct marketing provides.

I believe that the growth in this industry will continue simply because, on the retailer’s side, it’s a marketing tactic that is measureable and affordable. On the consumer’s side, it is a tactic that makes them feel more connected to the retailer due to the personalization of the ads they are seeing, whether it be their name in an email header or direct mail piece. Retailers are now able to segment their mailing lists by demographic, purchase history and brand loyalty history with the help of sophisticated database management. A consumer who has been subscribed to Cosmopolitan magazine for years may be able to be swayed into purchasing a subscription to Marie Claire magazine as well if she received a few free copies in her mailbox. Consumers will continue to get busier and busier and direct/interactive marketing will continue to provide the ease and convenience necessary for the industry to maintain the growth scale it’s already seen.

{January 24, 2011}   Don’t Track Me, Man!

They're watching you....for now, anyway

Mozilla has offered the US Federal Trade Commision a proposal for a mechanism that would enable Firefox and other browsers to keep their users from having their web surfing tracked. Currently, web sites can place tracking pixels on their pages that allow them to continuously track the other sites a consumer visits throughout a specified period of time. Analyzing this information gives marketers a better sense on where to spend their ad dollars, as targeted advertising yields a much higher ROI than simply placing ads everywhere, not to mention budgeting dollars can be spread much thinner by knowing exactly which web sites to advertise on to resonate the highest with your targeted demographic group.

Sounds ok, in theory. Truth is that many consumers feel that their web browsing history and patterns are private, and they don’t want that information being stores anywhere, regardless of whether its encoded or not. And this happens to EVERYONE. Don’t think that just because you delete your browsing history or clear your history that you’ve somehow ‘screwed’ the marketers and trackers our of your information. The average Internet user knows little to nothing about cookies, tracking pixels or clearing their cache. Some find it to be just a coincidence, or maybe they don’t notice at all, that after they purchase something online at Victoria’s Secret that the web banner ads on almost every site they visit for the next few days are for Newport news, Banana Republic or Coupons.com. All those marketers target the same market. They KNOW you just purchased something on Victoria’s Secret site and they know that the pattern of your web browsing usually begins with a visit to your email box, followed by scanning over some news source websites, then maybe there’s some celebrity gossip sites visited in between checking bank account balances and clicking through Facebook. Now does it sound creepy? It’s for this reason that you can visit cnn.com on one laptop and see a Foot Locker banner ad and have someone else visit cnn.com at the same time next to you and see a Sephora ad.

Alex Fowler, Mozilla’s global privacy and public policy leader, said that with this new mechanism, a browser would alert a Web site during basic communications that use the Web’s HTTP that the consumer does not want to be tracked.  In essence, this could create a ‘Do Not Track’ list, similar to the telecommunications industry’s ‘Do Not Call List’, which we are all familiar with. The hard part will be to get Web Sites to cooperate.

Would you participate in this technology if it were to become available? Why or why not?

For additional info and to see where this information has come from please visit http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20029284-264.html?tag=topTechContentWrap;editorPicks

{January 17, 2011}   Buh-Bye Traditional Media?

Can they live in harmony?

Ever since we came into ‘the digital age’ a lot of concern has been raised about what will happen to ‘traditional media’, especially newspapers. Will they go away forever, replaced by computers and banner ads and e-readers? Possibly. Should they, though, is another question entirely. As is, is there a way to prevent them from disappearing? The answer to that one, in my opinion, is absolutely.

While it may seem easy to decide that print will vanish in the next hundred years based on the upward trend of e-readers and the overwhelmingly large percentage of people who advance with technology, I am inclined to take the position that print will never completely go away. We seem to focus our opinions based on those we have contact with, who are usually within our own income bracket, however there are far more people who do not have access to technology, than those who do. In a survey of more than 100,000 people in more than 50,000 households across the U.S. done by Pew Research Center, 40 percent reported no broadband or high-speed access to the Internet, while 30 percent said they have no Internet access at all. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, only 63% of American’s had access to broadband internet in 2009. While that figure grew from 4% in August of 2000, the percentage of people who owned a computer remained steady at 61% from October of 2003 to October 2009. Of the percentage without internet, 38% of rural households reasoning was that they don’t need it/are not interested while 37% of urban households also cited that as the reason they don’t utilize the internet. So while technology in the form of accessible internet is available, it does not necessarily mean that it is being utilized. There will always be a segment of the population that cannot afford all that goes into utilizing technology for reading, as 27% of urban households cited cost as a reason as compared to 22% of rural households citing cost. A good example of this can be seen with the Apple iPad. Sure, it is a great device, however many were under the impression when it was first released that the cost of the device was all they’d pay to utilize it, which isn’t the case. Consumers must also pay for data plans, have wi-fi to access the internet and money for apps. The overall cost of the technology didn’t stop with the purchase of the device.

I don’t believe that traditional print media will ever be erased completely but I do believe that even traditional media will eventually take a turn and focus on social media. According to Chris Tolles of Topix, an online news community, “The technology business teaches you that nothing ever goes away completely. Mainframes, FORTRAN, and paper all survive, despite PCs, Java, and the paperless office. What’s really changing is the role of content itself. Online, it’s participation that becomes the product, with the content merely an ingredient of the real product. And print becomes a great vehicle to promote that new, experiential online product”. Traditional media will always have a place in the marketing mix because it is a great supplement to the interactive media space.

et cetera