Marketing & Public Relations Firm - Verasoni Worldwide

All posts tagged Branding

By: Abraham Kasbo

If the most successful brands on the planet live at the intersection of delivering consistently exceptional experiences and authenticity (the latest in industry speak – will address later), then Ireland, yes the entire country, is indeed well within great company, and from my perspective ahead of the class.  There’s no need for brand training, public relations strategies, or messaging in Ireland because on our most recent vacation to the Emerald Isle, it appeared that the entire country, from the minute we landed in Dublin to our departure from Shannon, was “on brand,” “on stage” and seemingly well prepared to orchestrate an exceptional vacation experience.

At first, I thought that there must be some centralized, formal training scheme at work because it’s impossible, or perhaps naïve to think that every Irishman and woman we encountered – from executives having dinner at the next table to pub dwellers, shop owners and keepers, to people we met on the street – and I do mean everyone we met, happened to be genuinely nice and helpful.

From pubs, restaurants, historical sites and shops, to the streets of Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork City, Killarney, Kenmare and

The Kids presenting a gift to Third Fire Officer Gerry Myers of the Cork City Fire Department

The Kids presenting a gift to Third Fire Officer Gerry Myers of the Cork City Fire Department

Bunratty, everyone – did I mention everyone?  - we met along the way was “on” the Irish brand of hospitality. Both my wife and I got the feeling that the Irish seemed to be deeply connected with and invested in not just their town and local heritage, but in other areas in Ireland.  They freely shared their experiences about other areas of Ireland complete with specific recommendations of restaurants, hidden gems, what roads to take and avoid, and so on. They also asked questions about America, New Jersey (where we live), and our work in ways that made us feel like we were engaged in a normal conversation and not a tourist transaction.  On our way to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, we got lost.  A cabbie surprised us when he pulled up while we were examining our map and said, “You seem lost, can I help you?” After a friendly chitchat, he pointed us to the right way and quietly went off into light Sunday morning traffic.  That goes a long way when you’ve already walked about 3 miles with 9-year old twins.

It got exceedingly better at the Guinness Storehouse and not just because we had the opportunity to indulge in the good stuff at the Gravity Bar. It seems to me that the Guinness Storehouse is reflective of how the well Irish tell their story to make it meaningful and connect with people. Isn’t after all the purpose of branding?  To make meaningful and lasting connections with a product or service?

Nothing could have been more surprising as what happened over the course of the next days. For the next leg of our trip, we were heading to Cork and reserved a car through Hertz. When we got to Hertz’s offices on South Circular Road, we noticed the street was closed because of a marathon route planned for that day.  Our taxi dropped us off at the intersection where we walked the rest of the way. When we arrived at Hertz, I was informed that we would have to wait another 2-3 hours for an automatic car because truck carrying automatics could not enter the street because of the marathon. The clerk offered us a manual shift BMW, and off we went. Mind you, having only driven a manual car once before, 10 years earlier on a visit to Ireland, my kids and wife were a bit nervous about my driving skills…so was I.  I must have stalled six or seven times in traffic coming out of Dublin backing up traffic several times. Embarrassed, frustrated, and at times angry at my inability to get us out of first gear, let alone Dublin, I realized what I was feeling was directly related to another deep experience. The incorrigible brand of cutthroat driving in the New York, New Jersey area, where if you don’t step on the gas within a millisecond of the light turning green, you’d be bombarded with beeps, shouts, and unpleasant gestures.  On my way out of the parking garage in Cork City I stalled on a ramp backing up business commuters two to three floors deep for about 10 minutes, seemingly forever to me. Through the stalls and back-ups, there was not one beep, not one horn, in four days of my dubious attempt to drive a manual vehicle across the Ireland from Dublin to Cork City, Cork City to Kilkenny, Kilkenny to Killarney, from Killarny to Kemare and on to Bunratty and Shannon. Not one horn or beep from my fellow drivers. The silence of those horns spoke volumes about the people in the cars.

On our stroll to dinner in Cork City, we misread the map and got lost. As we walked, we saw a couple of firefighters in front of the firehouse and asked them to set us straight. That’s when we met Gerry Myers, Third Fire Officer of the Cork City Fire Department and his colleague.  We ended up chatting with them about the States and our itinerary in Ireland. They recommended areas of Ireland to consider visiting “next time” and then pleasantly surprised us by offering to drive us to a restaurant they recommended as having better food and prices than the one we selected. The kids were obviously elated to find themselves in an official fire department vehicle!  The next day, we went back to the firehouse where the kids presented Officer Myers a gift of an American Silver Dollar and Mr. Myers reciprocated with pencils and fire department pins, and more importantly, an unforgettable experience.

There’s the Disney Experience and then there’s the Irish Experience. The former is precise, systematic and formal business process. The Irish Experience, is organic, credible and engrossing. The business community should take notice of keen lessons to be learned from the Irish Experience. In an era where authenticity is a hot topic, Ireland transcends authenticity – which in many ways is an overused and hackneyed industry mubo-jumbo.   its incredible natural beauty aside, Ireland seems to tap deeply into its most precious resource.  By harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of its people and how they represent their country, Ireland’s brand as experienced by us and other visitors stands strong and credible. After all,  authenticity is perceived but credibility is earned. For Ireland, it’s well earned.

Abraham Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide. Follow him @akasbo.

Several weeks ago I posted about the comeback of the American consumer and its impact on the financial services market. Since then, I’ve engaged in the same discussion with healthcare device makers and distributors who are also wondering how a stronger consumer will impact their business.

The obvious reality is that every sector in the United States ought to be positioning itself in light of strong consumer sentiment and data.  Let me quickly set the table by restating a few key points from my previous post about market conditions and business climate that are relevant across industries, but are certainly applicable to healthcare equipment makers, manufacturers, and distributors:

  • The stock market is at or near an all time high
  • The business media seems to be whistling a happy tune about the comeback of the American Consumer
  • Earlier this year, according to Macys’, Target and Gap reported sales that topped sales estimates in January, 2013
  • This past February, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment climbed to 76.3 from 73.8 in January
  • Ernst & Young cited stronger global markets and calls the US markets “very positive” in its most recent forecast.
  • With property values rising and the job market strengthening, Americans seem to be poised for an uptick in wealth

So, what does the comeback of the American consumer mean to Healthcare consumption? From 10,000 feet, two things: 1) The American healthcare consumer will have more money and more confidence to spend it and 2) that confidence and willingness to spend will be tempered by impact on the collective psyche still felt from the 2008 market crash.

Who will benefit from this consumer wealth effect?  Consumer medical specialties, like dentists and cosmetic dentists, plastic and cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists, fertility specialists, bariatric surgeons, and those companies who are selling to them, as well as hospitals and surgi-centers who will deliver care in these service lines. We believe that other specialty areas will also see benefits such as certain areas of orthopedics, We see a healthy return of discretionary income spending in the aforementioned areas. At a recent meeting of Plastic Surgeons in New York City, a Baltimore based doctor said: “we’re seeing people coming off the street and dropping a $1,000 to $1,500 on procedures, and that hasn’t happened in a long time.”  As I write, there’s a strong bi-partisan push in the senate to repeal the medical device tax. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I am a device manufacturer or distributor. Just as a reminder, the 2.3% excise tax is on the gross sales price of taxable medical devices. Regardless of whether the medical device tax is repealed or not, companies who better position themselves in this climate relative to the American consumer, will have a whopping advantage over those who don’t.

Here’s how healthcare device companies and distributors can better position themselves in light of the coming wealth effect:

1. Down-line Education – Three pronged approach: 1) Get out in front of the market by arming your buyers with the information they need to make an informed buying decision for your products. Include information on what the wealth effect could mean for both their business and patients.  It is likely that they themselves are feeling the wealth effect personally. Of course, buying certain equipment will put your buyers in a better position to serve the needs of their patients who will now feel more comfortable in spending discretionary dollars on healthcare services. 2) Consumer down-line education through web and digital strategies will provide fertile ground to drive consumer education and show buyers your commitment to their success.  3) Peer-to-Peer education for buyers of healthcare devices and products. Down-line education must have a strong digital component, especially with the rise of mobile and the coming of Google Glass, which will once again revolutionize mobile. [A quick aside: I was one of the privileged few to recently accompany a Google employee on a Google Glasses tour and indeed healthcare must be prepared for the coming revolution, but that's a post for another day.]

2. Brand Like You Mean It – This is a great time to get back into the market with a healthy respect for your customers. Communicate with them on a level that they come to expect and specifically communicate value.  Your visuals must be stunning, your value lasting.  Now, I have been on the record and continue to be by saying that branding is “not what you do,” it’s a “result of what you do.” For those companies who have been lacking in promoting their products and services to exceed market expectations, the time to start building a foundation for your brand has never been better than right now. This is especially true now because some of your competitors will inevitably continue to rely on the same strategies, thinking the same old ways, or their size, or whatever will produce results in this environment. Good, let them. For companies who consider themselves brand leaders in their space, don’t rest on your brand laurels, because your customers will now need more information to make buying decisions, and have more access to information about your products and your competitors’.

3. Mobile & Digital Will Drive Marketing Strategy Linkedin just surpassed 1 million doctors and nurses worldwide. Our own proprietary research shows that as of January 27, 2013, there were 500,000 people who have identified themselves in the United States as “dentists” on Facebook and 33,000 in the same category on Linkedin. There were 2,918 people who identified themselves as “general dentists” on Linkedin. Combine that with Healthcare topics being the most consumer-searched subject online in the United States, and you now have an idea of how important the digital environment is to your business. Educating the consumer and the market about the value of your products in the digital world is crucial to building consumer awareness and driving demand to your customers (doctors, dentists, hospitals, surgi-centers, clinics). Web and digital content must meet the expectations of the market, and if it doesn’t your company risks brand erosion. Positioning your products juxtaposed against value – remember, your customers and the consumer is once bitten and twice shy by now – will go a long way to making the case for your products. Your digital reputation and your customers’ must be spotless, because it is your reputation. So, move away from creating social pages and posting to meaningful digital strategies. Location strategies relative to how you sell should play a critical part. For example: if you’re selling an intra-oral camera, or gastric sleeves, you may want to share with your customers who else the in the area is using your technology via a mobile map application.  The very least you ought to do is mobilize your websites to make it easier for your sales force and your clients to access your products and services.

4.  Be a Category Creator – In Why It Pays to Be a Category Creator (Harvard Business Review, March 2013), the authors found that “category creators experience much faster growth and receive much higher valuations than companies bringing only incremental innovations to market.” Researchers found that category creators, while only 13% of the companies studied, accounted for 74% of the group’s growth. Consider the dental industry’s fore into sleep medicine. It was a blue ocean strategy, which opened up a new market for dentists and provided patients with yet different way to utilize and view their dentist. Whatever category you choose to create, and at the risk of overstating the obvious here, it has to be both ethical and make sense for the patient. So, be creative, you may surprise yourself.

It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare. Being nimble and entrepreneurial and taking advantage of selling into the current climate no matter size of your company is a virtue and highly accretive to growth in this environment.  So, jump right in, the water is fine.

Abe Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide
Follow @akasbo or

At the time of the writing of this post, the stock market is near an all time high and the business media seems to be whistling aAbe Kasbo happy tune about the comeback of the American Consumer. Earlier this year, according to Macys’, Target and the Gap reported sales that topped sales estimates in January, 2013. This past February, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment climbed to 76.3 from 73.8 in January. Ernst & Young cited stronger global markets and calls the US markets “very positive” in its most recent forecast.

With rising property values and the job market strengthening, Americans seem poised for an uptick in wealth. In normal times, a wealth-effect makes things interesting for financial services firms. It gets more interesting when we couple it with the JOBS Act, which will provide hedge funds and other financial service firms the ability to market and in the process giving investors greater transparency. This will thrust more managers into the public and media spotlights, raising awareness of their firms and products. Public spotlight will also make it easier for investors to compare managers and options within their global investment strategies, heightening the competition for investment dollars between mutual fund families, private equity firms and hedge funds – including fund of funds.

While The JOBS Act is creating an unprecedented environment for hedge funds to market themselves, we believe there will be an indirect impact on related financial services industries like Mutual Fund Families, Wealth Advisory Firms, and perhaps even banks because the JOBS Act thrusts hedge funds into a more open market where they may have to compete with each other and other investment vehicles outside their class.  Whether you’re a hedge fund, Fund Family, or wealth management firm, you may already know that institutional, accredited and non-accredited investors remain cautious because lessons from 2008 continue to loom large in the collective psyche. Those firms who understand how to develop effective strategies, and not simply employ marketing communications tactics and ride the American consumer comeback, will surely come out ahead.

Below are six ideas to help your firm navigate the tricky intersection of the JOBS Act and the American Consumer Comeback.

1. Brand Wisely Not Quickly – Financial services firms will now be enticed and encouraged to “brand your firm.” Keep in mind that savvy marketers understand that branding is a combination of “what you do” from a marketing communications perspective, how you perform, how you treat clients and a multitude of other variables that translates into how clients feel about you…this only happens over time. So “branding your firm” is not a product that you can or should purchase as a “branding program”. Branding is a multivariate process, but only those who understand this point will truly be on the way to effectively branding their firms and separating themselves from the competition. Keep in mind that it took decades for Vanguard, Blackrock, Fidelity, TRowe Price, The Man Group and others to become a brand. So, the time is now to build your brand’s foundation through strategies rather than tactics. As for hedge fund of funds, “Niche oriented hedge fund of funds that differentiate themselves by either focusing on a specific strategy, region, fund structure or investor type [and] …those fund of funds that can clearly articulate their differential advantage will be able to not only grow their assets, but command premium fees,” said veteran hedge fund marketer Don Steinbrugge of Agecroft Partners in his January 2013’s Post on

2. Be Ready To Compete Publicly and Transparently – Work from the digital world backward and understand that your web reputation is largely your reputation. So ensuring that your website speaks to the breadth and depth of the aspirations of your clientele and that your website is mobile ready is paramount to the success of your marketing efforts. Your collateral, key marketing messages, media and conference appearances, sales presentations, your website and social media platforms must be integrated. We would argue that outperforming your competitors is no longer based upon your market returns; it’s also based on how you are perceived in the marketplace, which has a direct impact on growth and asset under management.  Certainly in the case of hedge funds, as the qualified investor pool grows, the more attention the media will pay to the industry, the more questions people will have. Consider Timothy Spangler‘s latest column on entitled The Simple Truth About Hedge Funds. The column attempts to introduce hedge funds to the general public by casting light on some of the perceptions or ideas that the public may have about the industry. It’s a natural cycle, as the media focuses more on hedge funds, hedge funds will have to provide answers – publicly in the media and in conferences – and privately as more potential investors are subjected to the same media messaging.

 3. Be a Category Creator – In Why It Pays to Be a Category Creator (Harvard Business Review, March 2013), the authors found that “category creators experience much faster growth and receive much higher valuations than companies bringing only incremental innovations to market.” Researchers found that category creators, while only 13% of the companies studied, accounted for 74% of the group’s growth. Think of Bank of America’s highly successful breakthrough “Keep the Change Program” campaign. E*Trade and Raymond James, both of which are attempting to re-categorize their market based on the new investor and consumer realities. While there are plenty of reasons to discount this approach if you are a hedge fund, private equity or wealth management firm, consider that Fidelity recently went to market with “Get More Out of Your Investment,” where the investor can earn “up to a $2,500 deposit bonus when you open up and fund a Fidelity IRA or brokerage account or add to an existing one.” So, be creative, you may surprise yourself.

4. Marketing Is Here To Stay – Everyone will be marketing, it’s a matter of how you define it and make it work for your firm. For hedge funds and private equity firms for example, your digital reputation must be spotless because you may or may not have a front facing advertising campaign. Though, if you appear on CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg or speak at a conference and happen to catch an eye of an investor, be assured that it is highly likely, if not a certainty, that they will visit your website and Google your firm and you personally to learn more; this behavior works across the board from institutional to individual investors. Capitalizing on traditional media through digital redistribution of print, video and audio is one way of doing it. So are your integrated digital strategies in order? If not, take a look at PIMCO (yes the link to PIMCO’s twitter feed is intentional) as a best practices model.

5. Reposition for ValueE*Trade is doing it, so is Raymond James. Both firms seem to have understood that even with an anticipated wealth effect looming, the individual investor, and we would argue institutional and the accredited investor, are all demanding value. In their recent advertising campaigns both firms are appealing to the value-based investor suggestion that the firms will “keep less” and so “you, the investor will keep more.” We believe that the experience of the recent downturn continues to drive investor behavior from institutions to individuals. Just because the JOBS Act has opened the door, it does not mean that investors will be lining-up at it ready to do business. Investors will ask more questions and demand more clarity. Your firm’s value statement should be at the core of your marketing strategies.

6. Media: Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile – While the traditional media still has its lure providing a valuable platforms for financial services firms, the move to digital and self-owned media creation and distribution is the way of today and the future. Investors will seek information on their time and at their pace, something television and newspapers – at least in their current form – are not able to do yet.  Also note that stories on the web, positive and negative, can go viral quickly, affecting your firm’s reputation as is the case with the New York Times most recent story about LPL Financial. In this new normal of mobile media world, firms who strategically position themselves for this reality and execute against it will outpace those who don’t.

Abe Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide a fiercely independent marketing and public relations firm in Montclair, NJ.



For distributors and manufacturers, the dental market is now moving faster than ever before and with a greater emphasis on efficiency and market penetration. It’s perhaps the understatement of the decade to say that companies are now trying to position themselves in this seemingly hyper competitive space in order to better gain market share in an industry that’s forecasted to deliver about $70 billion in sales in 2013.

However, the unfathomable speed that is moving technology and media is creating a dangerous intersection for CEOs and CMOs who may be left feeling like they are drinking from a fire hydrant when it comes to marketing communications; so are now seeking more clarity on the subject than ever before. Strategic integrated marketing decisions in this space, and acting on them or not, will obviously affect brands and sales outcomes, but only if one can sufficiently separate the hype from the realities.

Below is our take on some of the realities and what dental companies and distributors can expect in 2013 in the marketing communications space. Here are our predictions for the New Year!


Companies Will Be More Mobile or Will Lag Behind

According to Hubspot, in 2012 more people bought more smartphones than PC’s. Fifty-percent of US adults own a smartphone or tablet and 66% get the news on those devices.  In the second half of 2012, tablets outsold PCs.  By the end of 2013, we predict mobile will play a more strategic role with companies in the dental space, including the adoption of mobile branded content platforms, mobile ads and location based marketing.  Naturally, dentists have already moved in that direction, as their behavior typically follows the consumer market.

We believe the strong attachment to mobile devices will mean that those companies who move in a measured and meaningful way will also position themselves to own the mobile device behavior of their clients and salesforce.


Editorial Branded Content Will Prevail

Research tells us that branded editorial not only drives organic search to your website, but also influences the reader.  Editorial content must be married with a mobile and social distribution to your company’s relevant network. Everything else is simply fluff.  So companies will seek to better align their mobile and content strategies to keep their products more in reach and top of mind.

We’re never wild about business terminology, but we just came across one that fits this prediction: “Newsjacking”!  Simply put, brands and companies must generate their own news and become their own publishers.  Sales professionals and dentists are a smart bunch, so companies who position their content in a way that they can be perceived as a resource will win over time.  Last but not least, companies will create once and publish everywhere!


More Digital Bounce to Engagement, Branding & Sales

According to a 2012 study cited by Hubspot, one-third of CMOs say more than half of their budgets have shifted from traditional to digital marketing in the past year, yet the same study showed companies with 50+ employees spend almost 20% of their marketing budgets on tradeshows.  Where’s the intersection?  Companies in the dental space will begin to integrate digital strategies into their tradeshow presence to carry relationships formed at tradeshows well beyond that event.  Companies will go beyond email, to engagement on social and through peer-to-peer activities and brand story telling via mobile microsites. Companies who engage in this space will also see more earned media as a result of organic search.


Company Website Shall Be Responsive or Be Gone

Since all data is pointing towards the supremacy of mobile search going forward, dental companies who are seeking a competitive position in the digital space – and who isn’t? – will make their websites responsive. Since mobile devices vary in screen sizes, users will grow increasingly frustrated in viewing a traditional website on a mobile device, and if the experience is frustrating, research tell us that they will find an alternative in about 4 seconds.


Move to Big Data in Dental

Companies will look for strategic edges through integration of big data. Companies in the dental space will demand more access to fragmented data either to help access a market or make better decisions on how to drive sales.


Social Media Will Break Out of Its Silo

Brands will understand that likes and followers mean very little unless they are engaged. Companies in the space will capture mindshare by recognizing that will no longer place their brands in social media silos but develop a more integrated approach to telling their stories and engaging their audience. Companies in the dental space will use social media to drive inbound marketing strategies and not simply for branding purposes.  Mobile will drive access, meaningful content and the platforms will drive engagement.  Social media will evolve in the space to serve as a key platforms for brand KOLs and media engagement.


Advertising Still Useful, Not Dead, Monetize to Digital

The era of branded print and digital advertising is over in our opinion, but that doesn’t mean that the medium is dead. In fact brand print and digital advertising can be quite useful if integrated with their digital cohorts.  Successful companies in the space will drive print to web, drive print to social, and drive print to mobile and more.  The integration will deliver more data to help CEOs and CMOs make better decisions as they look for growth in 2013.

Finally, No doubt technology will continue to transform how brands communicate their value proposition in 2013 and beyond. It’s important to note that, regardless of technology, the basics of integrated marketing communications strategies still apply. That’s one prediction that we know will last through 2013 and beyond.

Abe Kasbo is the CEO of Verasoni Worldwide a fiercely independent marketing and public relations firm located in Montclair, NJ. Follow the company here: @twitter or facebook.



Did you know that The New York Times is in the wine business? The Washington Post got into what was perceived to be the power broker business? Until of course someone shed some light on that “business” line. And CNBC is all about not upsetting business by making sure that their programming and prodigious prognosticators move markets ever upward either through sheer will, if not fast talk. Market is up, everyone is happier than a bee on caffeine. Yeah, in a downmarket, the talking heads look like they want to take their ball and go home. Bummer…These guys are the Big & Bad, these are icons of journalism.

So what does this all mean? For one thing, it confirms that content is king, I will explain the what and why later in this piece. Yes, The New York Times has to capitalize on its database to drive more dollars to the bottom line – so, let’s start a wine club! The Washington Post watched it’s circulation drop, so selling access to powerful Washingtonians seemed logical and highly accretive to the bottom line. It makes perfect sense…until it doesn’t.

Core business is critical in journalism – not earth shattering news I am sure. Let’s get serious for a minute about this and ask a critical question, What is the state of journalism as it relates to advertisers? The reason why I am using the word Journalism and not media or some other word is intentional. And while experts in suits are screaming at the demise of “traditional media” – meaning newspapers, television, radio – I submit that they are wrong, dead wrong. Why? Content IS king. The proof is Wikileaks. I mean, if these folks don’t wake up and find out that true, inspired, untarnished journalism sells, they will continue to find other ways of keeping their business relevant, like selling spirits and driving people to Twitter or asking people to pay for their “content.” The world of journalism, has actually become even more serious and competitive, but our Bigs are still asleep at the printing press or the remote control.

When the few who were calling the coming crash in between 2003-2008, the mainstream business media, including CNBC’s fell silent.  No one wanted to ruin the party.  You mean people would not have wanted to get another perspective from someone who doesn’t talk very fast and perhaps doesn’t wear a tie? Check out Jon Stewart’s – all too late I might add, but someone had to do it – undressing of Cramer on the subject…

Julian Assange and Wikileaks are hot topics these days.  From my perspective, for the wrong reasons. Governments rail against Wikileaks as they try to cover information otherwise not easily attainable by the public. The public’s apparent appetite for the information on Wikileaks has been, and I suspect will continue to be insatiable. So when Wikileaks puts out an alert, The New York Times actually promotes the content on Wikileaks and distributes it on its website and in print. While this is part in parcel with the mission of Wikileaks, The New York Times should have identified a business opportunity, one that allows it to be the trusted source for relevant content. Advertisers want and need sticky content. Wouldn’t it be better if the Grey Lady played in the same game as Wikileaks? I am taking The Times at task here, but many fine newspapers and television stations across the United States and world suffer from the same crippling disease. Yes, people are interested in this stuff, highly interested. And if you report on what Wikileaks did, I would rather visit Wikileaks, the source. Our journalists should be the source.

By many, Assange is viewed as a modern day Robin Hood, by others as spoiler and traitor.  The global media titans ought view him as an innovator and disrupter and quickly learn from him.  Wikileaks is clearly a game changer, and has quickly become a global brand, and a trusted source to boot.  Every time a whistle-blower chooses Wikileaks over “trusted” journalistic icons should make people who care deeply about these institutions mad as hell because he/she did not or could not use the traditional route to get the word out.  Content lost!  No, I am mistaken, not content lost! Judging by how many people hit Wikileaks’ servers, relevant content lost and therefore dollars lost!

Which begs another question: does anyone still care about the traditional route?

That’s a topic to chew on another time.

By: Abe Kasbo

So headlines scream, “How to Cut Through the Clutter,” or “How to Stand Out in A Crowded Market!” and my favorite that went something like “Delivering Your Brand Proposition In Seconds.”

I think we all agree that standing out is critical to any business. However, in this market for now and the foreseeable future, standing out is a fraction of the many variables that allow businesses to gain mind-share.  Think iPad.

The iPad as a product cuts through the clutter all by itself – it does help that it was first to market. It is supported by simple, yet powerful, advertising and marketing strategy. Apple’s public relations staff are its users, nothing better.  Moreover, being a product built by a very emotionally appealing brand doesn’t hurt.  The iPad’s success, is necessarily built on the past success of Apple’s other breakthrough products like the iPhone, which built its success on the back of the IPod which built its success on the back of….and I go on…

The iPad’s breakthrough lies in the trust that Apple has earned. That is the breakthrough, not the cool TV ads or home page takeover.  In large part, Apple’s trust breakthrough is why Apple continues to deliver “breakthrough” products, while its competition fumbles its way to market.  And that took years if not decades to build.

For the week of March 7, 2011, Verasoni’s Ahha Insights research on how hospitals use Facebook to market their brand and expand their mission was most read on  Many thanks to the readers and your feedback in discussing social media for hospitals.

As technology continues to grow and the internet becomes a more common platform for business (believe it or not, many businesses still haven’t harnessed the internet), the amount of money spent on online ads has become, as you can imagine, fairly substantial. Although online advertising can be a more efficient way to target certain demographics than traditional media outlets, this does not always lead to greater results. According to a new study from MIT Sloan School of Management, the same search, and other technology, that has enabled advertisers to target particular audiences, such as men between 25 and 35 who work on Mac computers, is also creating greater online competition for the same audience, thus reducing profitability of advertising on any targeted web site.

If you think about it, this all makes all the sense in the world. And it isn’t enough that many online advertisers have only themselves to blame for fragmenting their own markets by hopping from one sexy technology or site to another, but now there is evidence that there is a finite amount of scree-estate available to compete for the attention of the viewer.

MarketingVox data suggest that the study’s findings take on greater relevance as vertical and hyper vertical ad networks continue to grow. Adify’s Vertical Gauge for Q3, brand advertising CPMs for various verticals continue to rebound from early 2009. Also, food CPMs are up 91% from last quarter and Real Estate CPMs are up 17%. As far as vertical brand advertising, both automotive and healthy living and lifestyle verticals contracted substantially.

Clearly this article suggests to advertisers and consumers alike that targeted ad dollars don’t necessarily create more efficacy or revenue, in fact, evidence, in this case, shows more targeted ad dollars are less profitable. It is critical that advertisers note the importance of integrated marketing strategies in their marketing communications campaigns…more to come.

By Abe Kasbo and Kim Reydel

Social media was a huge buzz word in 2009 and the hype will undoubtedly spill over into 2010.  Without a question, social media is now the new mass media (television still dominates…for now), and while businesses are still scrambling to figure out how to maximize their investment, social media delivered the following important points to the market:

1. Aggregation

2. Segmentation

3. Revelancy

As companies continue to embrace social media to grow their businesses, expand their brand footprint, and utilize the medium for PR purposes, some are still struggling to optimize social media to its full potential. According to the Social Media and Online PR Report, 86% of companies plan to more money on social media in 2010. Conversely, 54% of those surveyed say the biggest barrier to better social media engagement is a lack of resources. So, although many are plugged in to various social networking outlets, about half of them see a hurdle in using the tools to their full capacity. In addition 60% of companies say that they have gained “some benefit but nothing concrete” from using social networking. Let’s be honest, when using a tool to grow your business it’s crucial to see the results and reap the benefits. Until you know how to properly engage in social media, it’s not an essential tool for your business.

According to a survey by Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia in the B2B world 11% of respondents were heavily involved in social media while 23% were not involved and 65% experimented only. In the retail business 10% of respondents were heavily involved, 27% not involved, and 63% of retail respondents only experimented with social media. Like any other business strategy you must follow through with a plan, and a short presence on facebook is sure to generate zero business for any company. The concept of social media may have been an experiment, but building your company’s presence on a social network is a business strategy that requires a commitment and understanding of the platform. The majority of companies agree that major benefits of social media include; increased brand awareness, customer engagement, communication with key influencers, and better brand reputation. Additionally 54% of supply side respondents say their clients are incorporating video and video sharing in their use of social media. It’s superb that so many companies have hopped on the social media bandwagon but truth be told, it might as well be obsolete unless you are using it as a tool to engage your audience.

So, although statistics show that companies know how to use social media, there is a lack of understanding when it comes to the value of engagement. In other words, any company has the ability to create a fan page on facebook and populate the group, but often times it stops here. Companies have to keep in mind that those who join your network on twitter or facebook or linkedin are looking for something and it’s your responsibility to give it to them. The social networking platform allows you to offer coupons, contests, news, videos, promotions etc to ENGAGE your audience. It’s important to bring people together via your social network but it’s crucial to keep your site functional and relevant. As another year is about to begin, let’s make a resolution to remember to engage engage engage!

Now you can listen to us on our new web radio show “Hey Marketing Genius!” You can listen by clicking here

Today’s show discusses branding. Our guest is Erik Kent, President of