Obama, Romney and the Truth

I find it ironic and befitting that I am writing a response to this http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/2012/02/e-marketing-and-politics-how-true-is.html post on the day after the historical 2012 Presidential Elections. This election, as well as most others before and those to come, saw lots of campaigning and lots of advertising – most of it negative – from both the Republican and Democratic parties. What I find astounding is that this election and campaign spent well over $2 billion dollars in advertising. That is an insane and unprecedented sum (side note: I believe this money could have been put to way better use)!

This election did invest a great deal of money on online advertising. Check out this article on the online advertising for this campaign: http://www.adotas.com/2012/11/the-dazzling-presidential-election-display-advertising-duel/. President Obama’s display ads were all over the web and although the number of Mitt Romney ads lagged behind Obama’s, he was still very active online as well. Both candidates had active Facebook and Twitter feeds, something very much necessary for someone running for office. What I find most interesting about this is how PR and advertising both come together to properly market each candidate. So much work goes into researching the target audience and truly getting the message out to the right ears, whether it be at rallies or through the web. I must say, working on a campaign of this scale must be truly exhilarating. I think this election was groundbreaking in the use of online ads and it’s interesting to see how things will change for the 2016 elections, as technology is always evolving.

I believe the Internet is a wonderful source that helps disseminate information. You can find Leftist articles, as well as überconservative articles with just a mouse click. The media is at our disposal and the average American is very capable of finding information and educating themselves about the candidates for office.

Twitter is very fast and powerful news source, with people posting news about candidates at incredible speeds. Last night, the system peaked at 327,452 tweets per minute (more about that: http://allthingsd.com/20121107/on-election-day-2012-twitter-kills-the-great-white-fail-whale/?refcat=news). My timeline was flushed with Obama supporters gushing in excitement and upset Romney advocates expressing their sadness. The news almost seems to come via social media, it’s not even necessary to be on cnn.com or watching NBC to be updated. I love it when I see young people being politically active and showing that we care and matter in politics.

RNC and DNC speeches, as well as debates are now watched live – either on a television screen or from a laptop or tablet. We have come a long way from the days of having to read the speech in the newspaper or having to be physically present. Now, we can read about the speech two minutes after it was said and receive live updates from (almost) any location in the world. We have the resources to educate ourselves and be involved with our nation’s history.

I still don’t think politics will invade rapidly growing sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest. I believe each party will stick to mainstream media advertising for now, but it doesn’t mean that these websites are immune to the political fever. Many memes, Instagram pictures and blogs exist about each individual candidate (did anyone miss the “Binders Full of Women” memes?!). However, the candidates have bigger fish to fry and I don’t see them setting up personal Tumblr and Pinterest accounts, even though their media camps might.

As for online truth, I think it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt. For the most part, I trust reputable news sources to disseminate accurate information and I do believe that incorrect information can and will be corrected and counter-argued, especially if it appears on a known source. During the presidential debates, almost everything each candidate said was fact-checked and I saw tons of articles commenting on the fallacies of each candidate in the aftermath of the debates. Blogs and other websites may not have the filters and fact checking devices that television networks provide, but that’s why you shouldn’t believe everything that you read and it’s important to gather news from different outlets.

It is oftentimes said that the mainstream media leans towards the Left, but there are also outlets like Fox News that are right-winged. Whether or not that it is true that there is a leftist spin on media, it is up to us to educate ourselves about everything and remain open-minded. You can belong to a particular party, but can still individually reason and avoid extremes.

Extra care should be taken with user-generated content. This content may appear very real and “legit” but is not necessarily true. People should focus on facts, political record and research. People can lie and spin information, but numbers and official documents don’t lie. As for separating the truth from the lies, it’s difficult but that’s where the individual comes in and must do their part to research. This article refers to Hurricane Sandy, but it provides an interesting look at how to separate the truth from the lies on Twitter: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-31/how-truth-and-lies-spread-on-twitter.

I, for one, am glad I no longer have to watch annoying political YouTube commercials when I am watching music videos or clips; but I truly appreciate all the hard work that goes into campaigning and am excited to see how technology evolves in the upcoming years. In the meantime, try to stay truthful!

Interesting link on the $2 billion spent on advertising: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/latest/Election-2012–the-2-billion-campaign-177405711.html.

BUYING DECISION PROCESS

Consumption process

I am currently taking a consumer behavior course and had my midterm last week and the concept of the “buying decision process” was on the exam! I love it when my classes complement each other and I learn the same concept from different angles and I can apply what I already know to learn more. In that class, the buying decision process was described in these steps:

– The realization of a need or desire for something occurs. The consumer now has a want, which is the way a consumer addresses their need in the form of a product or service.

– The consumer weighs their options and looks at various alternatives and eventually reaches a decision. When that decision has been made, an exchange occurs. An exchange is “the acting out of a decision to give something up in return for something of greater value” (Babin and Harris 5).

– Then the consumer uses and experiences the product (or service) firsthand. This product will have certain costs and benefits, which the user will realize. Costs are any negative effects that may result, while benefits are positive effects as a result of consumption. These costs and benefits are evaluated over time and help produce value. The consumer may come to realize that he or she made a good decision, or possibly a bad one.

The steps can be summarized by the image seen above.

This buying/consumption process is quite similar to the one presented by Professor Miyazaki on his blog http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/2012/10/where-is-e-marketing-in-buying-decision.html.

With the advent of the Internet and e-marketing, the consumption process has changed quite a bit! Not only do we have unprecedented access to new products and services from our very own home, but we can expedite the research and information-gathering process. Let’s dig deeper.

The emergence of e-marketing has changed the fashion industry and the way that certain stores conduct business. It is now necessary to have an online portal and online shopping is gaining more and more popularity. Here are some more advantages of online shopping: http://www.techlila.com/importance-online-shopping-business/.

No longer do people have to go out of their homes to a mall or store to buy new items, they can buy them from the comfort of their own home. The funny thing about e-marketing is that consumers are targeted from their own computers and may find things that they did not even know they wanted or needed until seeing it on the web (thanks for that e-mail Mom, now I’m buying those shoes you showed me). Certain websites such as http://www.etsy.com/ and Pinterest showcase homemade items and quirky products that users may not have even realized they would ever want or need. Additionally, these items are simply a click away from the consumer!

Ordinarily, when consumers wanted to compare and contrast different products and services, they had to visit various stores (maybe even multiple times) to make a well-informed decision. I remember buying my first digital camera and going to Best Buy to compare all cameras to see which I liked best. However, I wasn’t able to get the camera right then and there because my grandfather insisted on then driving over to Target and comparing prices. Nowadays, it is easy to find information regarding products and services online. The Internet provides a wealth of information. Moreover, users can comment and review items, so consumers can be informed about how other consumers feel about the product. For example, Nordstrom allows comments on all items of clothing. This was very convenient for me when I was buying a pair of booties last winter because I wasn’t sure about the color (I couldn’t tell how bright it was on the screen). Thanks to all the comments, I realized that one user commented how the color wasn’t as bright as it appeared on screen. This made my purchase decision that much easier.

Social media marketing can definitely be used more widely. Consumers should be able to access promotions and sales codes through Twitter and Facebook. A great way to influence the wants and needs of consumers and that portion of the consumption process is through the integration of Instagram and Pinterest. Human beings are visual people and seeing items on screen is very effective. Through Instagram, potential consumers can readily see pictures of a company’s newest items. These Instagram pictures can be simultaneously uploaded to Facebook and Twitter, so consumers can be reached on various platforms. Seeing an item may instantly spark a want.

Back to the fashion industry, it is now vital to have a web presence. Users will want to see all items offered and it is important to present them in a clear and concise manner to make online shopping as simple as possible. Stores have to remain competitive and maintain an edge so that consumers may be influenced to buy from them. This can be done through promotions and targeted marketing. I don’t think the government will track down too much on e-marketing, just as it does not regulate regular marketing and advertising so much. However, laws and regulations may arise pertaining to sensitive topics like marketing to children and marketing certain taboo items (for example: cigarettes).

One last thing to note is that it is important that items and products remain of good quality! It’s oftentimes sad when you see an item that appears really nice online, but is made from a bad-quality material. Companies should remember to always have the best quality product they can offer, or their reputation may suffer (and we will read the angry comments and blog posts). The evaluation process is always done in person so it’s important that the product still be great or it will be of no value to the consumer. Creating value is at the heart of marketing and e-marketing should always be in tune with that concept.

Bibliography:

Babin, Barry, and Eric Harris. Cb. 4. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

AMAZON

Please do not compare Amazon to Walmart! I don’t recall ever having a pleasant shopping experience at Walmart, and I think the folks over at http://www.i-hate-walmart.com/, http://www.walmart-blows.com/, http://ihatewalmart.blogspot.com/ and http://walmartsucksorg.blogspot.com/ would agree with me! My experience at Amazon has always been pleasant and their customer service is always on point…and I would know because I had a lost package and they were excellent in taking care of my problem and sending over a new order right away.

All kidding and personal opinions aside, you learn something new every day! I had no clue about these new taxes on Internet purchases (oops, I’m not one of those knowledgeable consumers). Thanks to California’s lead, it looks like the days of no Internet tax are over.

Should these sales taxes be implemented, Amazon is going to have to strategize and rethink their positioning. As mentioned in the http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/2012/09/will-amazon-be-next-walmart-new-tax.html blog, what makes Amazon different right now is that they have very low prices and should people have no problem waiting for the delivery, then they are golden. With the advent of a new tax, prices will increase and Amazon will face stronger competition from brick and mortar retailers. Living in a fast-paced world where people want everything instantaneously, I think the face-to-face retailers might gain a slight advantage over Amazon if a sales tax is included.

Will Amazon go from a solely online retailer to an actual brick and mortar retailer? What makes Amazon unique is that users from any location around the world can buy and sell goods. I don’t think Amazon would ever have the same presence and business practice like that of a superstore such as Walmart, Kmart and Target because that would go against its philosophy as a brand. I think the online element is vital for Amazon, which is why they would have to reposition themselves and change their strategy should they open face-to-face locations…and I don’t believe that is going to happen. An actual location isn’t necessary in order to sell Kindles. Amazon has a loyal customer base and I think they can remain a strong competitor regardless of the tax, but they do have to be mindful about the competition. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger sounds cliché, but I think in the long run, Amazon may come out on top if they play their cards right.

I see this online sales tax being a heavier burden on small, web-based retailers rather than on Amazon. Small online retailers might find it more helpful to open a brick and mortar location as a result of the sales tax and (potentially) slowing business, but the operating costs of a store are much more expensive than that of a solely digital presence. This may not be feasible for some online businesses and may be detrimental in the long run.

I think the truly innovative small businesses will prevail in the long run, and smaller businesses can still compete with larger firms, but with facing hardships and having to work that much harder to stand out from the crowd.

This taxation shouldn’t really come as a surprise to citizens, as we are used to being taxed. I don’t think e-marketing will change much, there is still a need to target consumers. As for Amazon, I think we will be seeing a rise in the number of pick-up stations at 7-Elevens nationwide and delivery trucks. I think if they place customer service at #1 (and here’s why they should: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/customer-service-important-organization-2050.html) and start improving their same-day delivery program, then Amazon might just survive this change. Maybe they’ll even go the FedEx route and have their own delivery system one day.

And all throughout this Amazon should maintain positive PR 🙂

Blog 1

The power of social media is undeniable! In this day and age, any company without an online presence is three steps behind the competition. Twitter and Facebook have become agents of change and 24/7 communication is now possible thanks to the advent of these websites. Additionally, any business needs an online portal in order to survive.

Is interactivity being oversold? I don’t believe so. Consumers may not always decide to voice their opinions online or peruse a website before going shopping. However, not having an online presence is more detrimental than not. What happens the one day that your loyal customer does decide to visit the company’s website instead of visiting the store? Or when a customer contacts the ‘Live Chat’ option for a customer service issue and is put on hold indefinitely? Interactivity is a powerful tool and I think all businesses would be intelligent in investing time and resources into these technologies, as they are the way of the future.

As with all things in life, actions reap positive and negative results. Check out this blog: http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/. One of the mentioned issues with online interactivity is that it is not always positive. However, learning how consumers feel about a product or issue can allow businesses to perfect their practice and improve their products and services. This same exact problem can occur with word-of-mouth communication and negativity is not exclusive to online interactivity. While the scope of online interactivity may be larger, companies always have the option to respond to negative comments and work to correct all problems quickly, more so than they would be able to do so with old-fashioned word-of-mouth complaints. Public relations departments exist and are ready to come to the rescue should there be a company fiasco or problem that needs to be addressed and fixed.

Another mentioned issue with online interactivity is that it is expensive. However, I would consider the allocation of resources into interactivity an investment. For start-up companies, it would not be too difficult to hire a PR expert to handle and coordinate all social media relations. This is a great way to kick-start business and obtain a following. For anyone who has a Facebook, chances are that you have a friend who has a jewelry business with a Facebook page, here is an example of such page: http://www.facebook.com/chic.bracelets. While the potential consumer may not buy every item posted, seeing these products keeps them aware of the brand and one day they might just catch the perfect piece that they were looking for. Another example of how this was done can be found here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220354. This is an important tool in order for a start-up business to get the momentum going. Once a company expands, interactivity and the costs associated with it should become less of a burden and more of an asset.

It would be impossible for most large companies to respond to EVERY single customer comment or question, but having an online outlet for these things can allow consumers to speak to one another and help each other out. For those that mention that with all businesses and companies having web presence, that there is more competition, I remind them that competition is what keeps our economy growing and our products and services improving.

While online interactivity is, in my opinion, not being oversold, companies should be tracking the success rate for all online interactivity. In addition, companies should not neglect the importance of brick-and-mortar locations. It is still essential to have a happy, helpful staff; as that can make all the difference for a brand’s image in the consumer’s mind. One company that does a great job with both their online presence and customer care is Nordstrom.

Nordstrom is a fashion retailer that has over 214 stores nationwide. One of the many ways in which Nordstrom has been innovative in serving their customers is through their online presence at www.Nordstrom.com and the acquired website www.hautelook.com. Nordstrom is famous for its excellent customer service, which is not to be forgotten in this high-tech day and age. They have fused their customer service with their online presence to create an unforgettable shopping experience. You can learn more about Nordstrom and how it has grown by reading this article: http://beta.fool.com/saintgermain/2012/04/18/best-way-play-luxury-goods-sector/3711/. To learn more about legendary customer service experiences at Nordstrom, and see an example of positive interactivity, check out this article: http://toddand.com/2007/02/18/legends-of-unbelievable-nordstrom-service/. Lastly, on the subject of online interactivity, have you heard of Nordstrom Silverscreen, which is an interactive media channel for video content? Yup, Nordstrom went there and found another way to connect with users. Read more about it: http://www.internetretailer.com/2005/11/02/nordstrom-takes-to-the-silver-screen.

All in all, I believe that online interactivity is vital and necessary for business. Having just the right amount of video content paired with a navigable website, plus sufficiently active but not overwhelming e-mail list, Facebook account and Twitter feed are the perfect mix for success. Consumers are eager to be heard and companies will do right by listening.

Hello world!

Hi world! What’s the deal happy meal? My name is Nicole Chivite and this is my first foray into the blogging world! While I read various blogs and have tumbled a bit, I have never really been one to post my thoughts out for the world to see. Let’s see where this takes me!

Be on the lookout for marketing-related posts in the upcoming weeks.