The 12 Week Rule-Know When to Expect Results from Your Media Buy

Thanks to the movie Swingers, most people know about the 3 Day Rule – when you meet someone you like, wait 3 days before calling them. Unfortunately, few people understand the 12 Week Rule in advertising – after launching a new campaign, wait at least 12 weeks before appraising its sway.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I’d like more than to promise my clients immediate results. I’m as instant gratification oriented as anybody, but I DON’T. Because the truth is it takes time for a message to penetrate the market and change consumers’ buying habits.

So a week, even two just isn’t going to cut it. You’re buying impressions, and impressions take time. In fact, the average consumer has to experience your ad at least 20 times for it to make any kind of impact. Typically, that happens after about 12 weeks. Then and only then will you start to see a difference in your profit margin. Then and only then will you be able to start evaluating the worth of the buy.

So be wary of any media buyer promising instant results. What they’re really offering is immediate padding for their own pocket books, not your company cash box.

Jaci Russo – Senior Partner
The Russo Group

Web 2.0 – The Future of the World Wide Circus

If Web 1.0 (weren’t aware such a thing existed? you’re in good company) brought the internet to the people, than Web 2.0 (still more an industry buzz word than anything else) will bring the internet to your computer.

Consider all the “Do It Yourself” tax return services this year. You can buy the software and install it on your desktop (1.0), or you can visit the company website, file your taxes, and store all your information for next season right there (2.0).

Basically, Web 2.0 will take us away from installing software on our desktops and lead us toward paying subscriptions to use centralized software available through company websites.

• Forget updating – it’s all done for you
• No more floppy discs or CDs – everything available online
• Information storage – company holds onto your data for you
• Faster – no more clunky code
• More reliable – quality maintained by company
• Fewer hassles – again, quality maintained

• Security – although protecting your information is top priority, there’s always a chance a cyber pirate will get to your information
• Sharing – eliminates the ability to share software with a friend (shame on you anyway)
• No more floppy discs – I was always rather attached to the floppy disc. It’s the only way I can say “floppy” in a business meeting and not get fired for it.

Techies who develop software are all over 2.0 because it cleans up the programming code and allows us to concentrate on core updates. It’s also much faster for our end user. Another advantage – we can get up close and personal with cyber pirates.

But you should know, the very premise of Web 2.0 is rooted in controversy. Maybe that’s because as simple as I’ve made it sound, it’s still more theory than anything else. And in the World Wide Circus, theory always makes the elephants nervous. As speed limit signs on the information superhighway become more and more “suggestions” than anything else, I guess we’re all left wondering what happens when the road ends.

John Rockweiler, Interactive Director, intrepid and amazing
The Russo Group

A Condensed History of the Great Advertising & Marketing Wars -- Part VII or Divide et impera *

Hertz vs. Avis
Coke vs. Pepsi
Apple vs. Microsoft
That cute, spiky-haired Alltel dude vs. the Cingular, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile dorks

It doesn't matter how it started. I hear tell that back in the ‘50s some CEO sloshed a very dry martini on another CEO's wife during a benefit dinner. I'd like to think that in the bowels of some dark and smoke-filled Madison Avenue agency, someone yelled, "screw 'em" and pressed the little red button; effectively launching a pre-emptive strike against a nation of fanatical car rental dealerships. Either way, a line in the sand is drawn, and it's winner take all.

Or is it?

In this polarized land of everyone loves a winner, but roots for the underdog, a very strange thing happens when the Brand-X battle lines snap to attention -- both sides seem to prevail.

Call it the tag-along-effect or compare it to the Nascar driving technique of drafting, but when one company takes the offensive and attacks the value or benefits of their competitor's product, both companies get pulled into the mass media spotlight. And, if the competitor's product is not inherently flawed (and at the highest level it usually isn't) – ka-boom – free exposure, front-of-mind name recognition and a measurable sales spike.

Sure, the company that takes the strategic initiative will ultimately gain those few precious percentage points of market share, but at what cost? Allowing the other agency to easily engineer a defensive roll-over minutes campaign? Allowing the legions of the competitor's opposing cola army (the product fans) to initiate
a flanking viral or grassroots campaign? As a passionate nation of consumers and brand loyalists (Red vs. Blue anyone?), we love to take a stand, and we'll stand on the other team's throat to let them know it.

The fact is an advertising and marketing war is an end game and a war of attrition. The only loser will be the company that literally gives up, shuts down or is purchased for a cash/stock deal and the assumption of its debt. These "wars" are really an endless series of market share battles that can easily run the course of decades.

So dear client, before you start firing your Kalashnikovs up in the air with the rallying cry of "Give me market share or give me death!" listen to your agency professionals' advice. Cold war or cola war, taking that path commands a very high price. Trust us, we've pulled many a tour of duty and have the medals to prove it.

Gary LoBue Jr / Art Director / The Russo Group
* Divide and conquer

Camera Savvy Executives

Trump does it with a comb over. The Weinstein brothers do it on the red carpet. And Steve Jobs manages it wearing an ipod. What is it? Staying poised and professional in front of the camera. And it’s harder than it looks.

There’s an art form to succeeding in front of the media, and I’m not talking about generating some sort of Academy Award performance. Here’s the thing – you don’t want to be that exec who contracts a verbal stomach flu every time a microphone is placed in front of your face. Fair or not, if during an interview an incoherent rush of nonsense jettisons out of your mouth, people will question your intelligence, know-how, professionalism, and more.

It’s true – in day-to-day business encounters, skill, confidence, and a commanding vocabulary will take you a long way, but unless you can translate that poise, unless you can present it on camera, it means nothing to the masses of people who never interact with you except through their television sets.

So it doesn’t hurt to practice, often, before an upcoming interview. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to practice for interviews yet to take place. Because they’ll happen eventually, typically in moments of crisis when rehearsal isn’t an option – you’ve simply got to produce. The future of your company depends on it.

That’s why more and more companies are investing in people like me – message trainers. We “talk coaches” will guide you through the interviewing process and help you formulate your message. We’ll conduct mock interviews on camera, helping you work out any presentation kinks. We’ll teach you what to do with your hands, where to look, how to deflect sensitive questions without sounding vague or suspicious, how to pause to provide time for thought, how to detect a reporter’s bias, and how to remain in control at all times.

If nothing else, it beats wasting hours in front of your bathroom mirror.

Amy Jones, Media Director
The Russo Group