Push or Pull?

There are two really only two types of marketing:

inbound or outbound

push or pull

Which one do you think your consumer will respond better to?

You will be so much more successful if you can find a way to draw them to you. Attract them to your product. Be so great that they seek you out.

This goes far beyond a smart logo and a pretty print ad. This is about having a product or service that is better than your competitor.

This is about knowing who your consumers are.

This is really about having giving your consumer a better benefit.

This is about being so great that your consumers are seek you.

It is possible. It's about having a brand that serves as an attraction engine. People see themselves (who they want to be) in your product.

The foodie that wants people to know they shop at Williams Sonoma.

The accountant who sits behind a desk all day but gets his identity from the Hog he rides.

The lawyer that believes beyond the shadow of a doubt that BMW is the best car on the road.

The designer that could never consider using anything but a Mac.

Attract your consumers. Be the brand that they want to identify with. Give them a tribe to join.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

9 Ways to Tell Your Brand is Struggling.

1. You think that you are your target consumer. It happens all the time. The CEO and CMO nix an idea because it doesn’t appeal to them. Unless they fit the the demographic and psychographic profile exactly, they can’t base decisions on what they like.

2. Your touchpoints are not aligned with the market. It is very easy to spend a lot of budget and not reach the right people. If you are still using a distribution or retail network when your consumers are online, you are incurring unnecessary costs and missing big opportunities.

3. You are known by your founder, and not your product. Your founder hasn’t been with the company in 50 years. The patents and processes that he created have been outdated for decades. If the only thing you have to talk about is the past, how are your shareholders going to feel about your future? Just because your company is named after the guy that started it all, you still have to find a way to grow beyond that.

4. Your media plan stays “consistent”. Habits change. New channels open. You have to be flexible enough to be where your consumers are – and realize that it changes, often.

5. Your Brand Identity is indicative of the year you were founded. If you are still using a type treatment and mark that hint of tie-dye and bell bottoms, your consumers are not going to feel confident that you have a handle on the world they live in.

6. You can’t tell the difference between you and your competitors. You may think you know how you are better, but you can’t verbalize it. You struggle with answers about price or people or service but don’t have a clearly defined reason that explains your excellence.

7. Your product is not keeping up with the times. Turn around times, terms of service, packaging, environmental concerns and technology are all evolving. If you don’t keep up, your consumers will leave you behind.

8. You would rather broadcast to your consumes instead of conversing with them. If you are waiting until this whole ‘social media thing’ blows over you are going to be blue in the face pretty soon from holding your breath. Meanwhile your consumers are developing relationships with your competition, the ones that know who they are and what they have to offer.

9. Your consumers are aging. They discovered you when you were young and they were young. It was a match made in heaven. But now they are older and are spending less and less every year. You have to create a connection with the younger emerging demographic groups or you will lose all of your customers to attrition (aka death).

The question now is, What are you going to do about it?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Have You Ever Thought About...

I don't get any credit for finding this video. It was featured a while back by my new favorite blog, The Shortest Blog In The World, a few of the posts really made me laugh out loud.

Here is a link to her post, Have You Ever Though About How Far...

Wow - Check out this video.

I can't figure out what is more amazing to me -

the idea of still using pay phones?

sending a fax from the beach?

or that I remember these spots so well I would have sworn they were on the air just last year.

Hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

What's on Second?

For the past three years, times were good. Very good.

Businesses were successful, often in spite of themselves.

Now, not so much.

The question used to be,

where do we advertise?

Now it has to be,

Who are we talking to?

What are we saying?

The message is infinitely more important than the medium.

Who are you talking to?

What are you saying to them?

How is it different from every one else?

If you can't answer these questions in one sentence, you need to take a quick look around and figure it out. Your competition is already working on their answers.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Winning Sales Strategy?

The old adage that you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar seems pretty quaint in this day and age.

Yet there are some sales people who need to be reminded of this principal.

It seems to me that if someone is giving you less business than usual you have only a few choices on how to proceed.

Assume they are a lost customer and take them off of your mailing list

Assume that there is a problem and ignore it

Assume that they are now in a relationship with your competitor and get mad about it

Or, and I know this next one is a little crazy,


Ask them to lunch.
Ask them what has changed with their business.
Ask them what they need that you aren't providing.

Mostly, just ask.

Why would you assume and then react?

If you want to know why you are no longer getting business from them, ask them. Find out why. You might be really surprised about what you hear.

But, I can guarantee you that you will never know if you don't ask.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner

Brand Buzz: FriendFeed

Tune in every Monday at 5:20pm on KPEL (www.kpel1051.com) for another weekly edition of Brand Buzz.

Today's topic is FriendFeed.

Each week Brand Buzz explores different applications that make up the social media network.

Today we are going to look at a tool that might make your participation a little bit easier.

FriendFeed provides a number of ways to engage and converse.

You can automatically update Flickr, Twitter and YouTube.

Sharing items of interest to you just got a whole lot easier.

Tune in to KPEL at FM 105.1 or online www.kpel1051.com at 5:20 to learn more and to be a part of the conversation.

Please join our Facebook page at
Or you can follow us on Twitter at

Please let us know what you think. Feel free to call or send your questions and we will answer live on the air.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

The Impact of a Guitar

By now, you have probably heard about United Airlines smashing Dave Carroll's guitar. And then, when United did nothing to rectify the situation, Dave wrote a song and release a video on YouTube chronicling his woes.

With close to 4 million hits and hundreds of blogs and articles relaying the details of this situation, the story has been studied from all angles.

I wondered about the impact.

Does it really matter to a huge global corporation that a Canadian singer songwriter was mad at them and made a music video about it?

Well, when you read the following article by Chris Ayers, you realize just how impactful one man and his guitar can be.

by Chris Ayres
"Meanwhile, within four days of the song going online, the gathering thunderclouds of bad PR caused United Airlines’ stock price to suffer a mid-flight stall, and it plunged by 10 per cent, costing shareholders $180 million. Which, incidentally, would have bought Carroll more than 51,000 replacement guitars."

We write a lot about the power of a brand and the need to monitor your reputation online. United has 180,000,000 reasons to change how they respond to these situations and develop a better plan for next time.

What do you think? How could United have responded better?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

PS - If you read all the way to the bottom of Chris' article, you will find an interesting tidbit about a local Lafayette, LA story...on the website of a UK newspaper. The Internet unites us all.

Which Cow Do You Prefer?

Branding is about an emotional connection that a consumer has with a product that drives them to prefer it.

The word "brand" is derived from an old English word that meant "burning stick", enabling owners of livestock to use an image to signify their ownership of the herd.

This distinctive mark on the cow differentiated it from other herders and identified them as coming from a certain breeder, the area where they grazed, and therefore a perception about the quality of the meat.

For example, the cows from the lower valley ate the greenest grass which had the most nutrients and produced the most tender meat.

As people tried the cows from a specific herd and found it more tasty, then the word would spread through the countryside that a certain herder's cows were better than others. That reputation would allow for all of the cows with that particular brand on them to fetch a higher price at market.

Compare that to the products of today and think of shirts with an alligator on the left chest or jeans with a red tag on the back pocket. The perception by consumers is these products by Lacoste and Levi are better and therefore they can demand a premium price at the register.

Their brand brings them value.

Do your consumers perceive that your product is better? Do they think that your products graze in the valley and have the most nutrients?

What can you do to differentiate your product and make it better than the competition?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Do You Budget For Outcomes?

There appears to be a trend in corporate America, and it started even before the recession knocked on our doors.

In one meeting on the 9th floor of corporate headquarters, someone in accounting decides what the marketing budget will be for FYnow. Then, up on the 14th floor, in the sales department, the goals for the next year are set.

So a memo arrives on the desk of the Marketing Director with a budget determined by one department and a sales goal determined by another, and now a plan has to be created.

I'm sure it sounds crazy, but wouldn't it make more sense to actually budget for your outcome. Set the sales goal and then decide how much it will take to reach that goal.

First determine what you want to accomplish.

Then decide on the who.

Next determine the how.

How much should be last. Obviously it might have to be adjusted. But, wouldn't it be great to adjust it with the outcome in mind?

To start with the budget already decided and then try to figure out how to accomplish the goals is really the same as beating your head against the wall. Except at least with the wall you might actually start to make a dent in it.

Do you budget for outcomes?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Why Do Consumers Pick Your Product? Is It Your Product?

Do you really know what makes your product great?

Before you start listing a series of features that read exactly like the ad of your competitor, let me stop you.

Dig deep.

Think hard.

Please tell me what makes your product better than theirs.

Please tell me what your product can do for your consumer that your competitor can't.

Wait, I know you are going to say "quality". Even though you are probably right and your product is of a better quality than every one else, please realize that you aren't the only one in your space that thinks their product is the best quality around.

Do you have a point of operational excellence?

Are you better than the other products?

Do you have a unique selling point?

This is marketing 101 but it can be a challenge. It requires a long look in the mirror and some pretty deep digging.

But it's worth spending the time to think about it.

If there is something about your product that makes it superior to the competition, then the real fun begins. How do you position it? How do you explain this point of excellence in a way that will cause your target audience to react? How do you change the conversation?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Brand Buzz: Web 2.0

Tune in every Monday at 5:20pm on KPEL for another weekly edition of Brand Buzz.

Today's topic is Web 2.0, also known as "the social web".

Each week Brand Buzz explores different applications that make up the social media network.

Today we are going to take a step back and look at the big picture of the social web.

Why are people engaging online in this new way?

How does this affect your website?

Can your company continue to have a static website that is really nothing more than a brochure online? No. So, what next?

Your consumers want to be able to have a conversation with you and your products. They want to be engaged with the brand. They want to wear the merch and declare their membership in the tribe.

Do you make that possible? Or does your presence on the internet, or lack of presence discourage that?

Tune in to KPEL at FM 105.1 or online www.kpel1051.com at 5:20 to be a part of the conversation.

Please join our Facebook page at
Or you can follow us on Twitter at

Please let us know what you think.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Why Do Consumers Pick Your Product? Is It Your People?

Branding, at it's core, is the emotional connection that consumers have with a product.

Often, managers think that a customer's connection with a company or product is due to the people at the company.


Do you really think that an employee, any employee, is so irreplaceable that the only reason that your customers buy from you is because of said employee.

Unless the customer is related to the employee, it is highly unlikely.

Don't get me wrong. I think some employees are fantastic. They truly embrace the corporate culture and support the mission of the company in all that they do.

Some employees do a great job of reinforcing the position of the brand.

But, make no mistake about it, even the most incredible employee on the planet won't create brand advocates with an inferior product.

They pick you because they believe that your product is the best. That doesn't come from their interaction with just one touchpoint, like an employee. That belief in the brand becomes entrenched when it is supported through all touchpoints.

So how do you communicate your brand to your consumers? As great as your employees may be, they are not the end all be all of your brand. What else will you do today to tell the story of your brand? How will you connect on an emotional level with your consumers to change the conversation?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Why Do Consumers Pick Your Product? Is it Your Price?

A key component of branding is to establish value in the mind of the consumer.

When a customer has a gut reaction to and a strong feeling towards a product then price is a secondary consideration. Sometimes price isn't even a consideration at all.

Why then, would your company position your product as a commodity and get into a price fight with your competition?

Do you want to target the type of consumer that is going to drive across town to your competition to save a $1 (transactional) or do you want the type of consumer that will always buy from you without even considering your competition, no matter how low they go (relational)?

Ask Best Buy which consumer they prefer.

A few years ago, Best Buy and Circuit City were in a knock down drag out fight to determine who would be the THE consumer electronics store of choice. Throughout history, there have been companies waging a war like this - Mac vs PC, Nike vs Reebok, Coke vs Pepsi.

Unlike those companies, Best Buy didn't outspend the competition in an attempt to buy the attention of the most consumers. Quite the opposite. They put together a plan to reach less people.

What?! Less people, you might ask.


Fewer, but better consumers.

See, what Best Buy did was analyze their current consumers and determine which ones were transactional and which ones were relational. The relational customers provided more profit with less hassle.

The transactional consumers were easily identified. They were the consumers who shopped with coupons and would often make a purchase only to return it because they found one less expensive some where else. The transactional consumers were purged from the database. No more email or direct mail for them.

In addition, the arrangement of the store was changed and the training of the salespeople was modified. The goal was to improve the experience for the relational shopper thereby improving the engagement.

It worked. Best Buy's sales increased and more importantly so did their profit.

And I'm sure you know what happened to Circuit City.

So, do you want to position your company in a price war? Do you want to go after the transactional consumer?

What can you change to better target the relational consumer and stop making it all about the price? How can you change the conversation to focus on value?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Why Do Consumers Pick Your Product? Is It Your Customer Service

A major component of branding is consumer engagement. How you engage your customer goes a long way to determining how they feel about you.

When asked, most companies state 'customer service' as one the ways that they engage their customers, strengthen their brand and stand out against their competition.

When asked to define it, they describe customer service as a friendly smile and an offer to help. Customer Service, to them, is represented by general civility and friendliness.


It seems like being polite should be the bare minimum of the human existence.

Customer Service, if executed in an extraordinary manner can provide a point of operational excellence.

The following customer service points should be a part of your organization:

1 - Be Your Consumer - Put yourself in their shoes. Approach your company from the outside and think about how your customers interact with your company. Is it easy? Is it pleasant? Does the process encourage someone to be a customer or make them want to run away?

2 - Be Prompt - Answer your phone calls and emails promptly. The more frustrated the customer, the faster your response needs to be.

3 - Be Generous With Information - Every question that a customer might have should be answered in an easy to find place on the website and through whomever (or whatever automated attendant) answers the phone.

4 - Be Equal - Treat every consumer as if they are the most important customer. The customer who makes a small purchase today could be the largest single buyer tomorrow.

5 - Be Empathetic - Assume that your consumer has a very valid reason to be upset. Listen to them completely and then discuss how you can be of assistance.

6 - Be Memorable - Give a part of the experience that is unexpected and will give your customer a reason to speak well of you.

7 - Be Empowering - Employees want to be great. Give them the discretion to make decisions that will benefit the company and they customer.

8 - Be Curious - Ask your customer questions. Find out everything you can about who they are and what they are looking for. You will find out if you are providing or if your competitors are.

9 - Be Fun - No one wants to do business with a company that isn't fun. Find a way to be fun and more importantly make it fun for your customer.

10 - Be Extraordinary - How can you go above and beyond the call of duty? How can you exceed their expectations? What can you do that will give them something to go away talking about?

CNNMoney.com reports on 6 companies that have made outstanding customer service a part of their mission:

Nurse Next Door, Vancouver BC

Genesis 10, New York, NY

HyperFit USA, Ann Arbor, MI

John Robert's Spa, Cleveland, OH

SimplySoles, Washington, DC

Threadless, Chicago, IL

There are a few things that you have to make sure to avoid.

1 - Don't break your promise - If you tell your customer that you will get an answer to them today, be sure to do it. Tomorrow will be too late.

2 - Don't hide behind technology - Be accessible. If you only provide a website and voicemail for customers to relate to, how can they engage?

3 - Don't be frustrating - If you use complicated terminology or even worse use "policy" as a defense mechanism then your customers will be very angry with you and your company.

4 - Don't forget your manners - Be a good listener. Don't interrupt. Say please and thank you. A little bit of kindness goes a long way to making someone feel better.

If you really want to claim Customer Service as a way to stand out in the crowd, you will have to make that service extraordinary.

What can you do to go above and beyond the call of duty?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

10 Principles of Good Design

In honor of Walter Landor's birthday, today, we profile another German designer who contributed so much to our field.

Dieter Rams was a German industrial designer born in 1932. His 10 principles of good design are still true to this day:

  • Good design is innovative
  • Good design makes a product useful
  • Good design is aesthetic
  • Good design helps us to understand a product
  • Good design is unobtrusive
  • Good design is honest
  • Good design is durable
  • Good design is consequent to the last detail
  • Good design is concerned with the environment
  • Good design is as little design as possible

Rams once explained his design approach in the phrase "Weniger, aber besser" which freely translates as "Less, but better." Many of his designs — coffee makers, calculators, radios, audio/visual equipment, consumer appliances and office products — have found a permanent home at many museums over the world, including MoMA in New York.

It is great to see the tenets of our industry still hold true today.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Brand Buzz: Whrrl

Building a brand is all about points of engagement. Finding those places where your consumers can be a part of your tribe. Where they can be a part of the experience.
Whrrl (www.whrrl.com) provides just that opportunity.
As we will talk about during Brand Buzz on KPEL today at 5:20pm (listen online at www.kpel1051.com), Whrrl is an application that provides for people to tell the same story through photos and comments, each from their own perspective.
It's a collaboration tool.
We participated in the first Whrrl use in the state of Louisiana during Festival International in April. It was a great story and you can click here to see how it all began.
To view the Festival story on Whrrl, click here.
For more information on Whrrl, you can find a white paper entitled Whrrl 101 by clicking here.
Let us know if you have used Whrrl before. What did you think? How can it benefit your industry or business?
Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Companies Make Products but Consumers Buy Brands.

Happy Birthday, Walter Landor, who would have been 96 on July 9.

He was a brand design legend and the founder of Landor Associates.

As Wikipedia explains, Walter Landor was a pioneer in the field of branding and consumer research. Landor Associates, the company he founded with his wife in 1941, has brand consulting and design offices all over the world today. His work included brands like Del Monte, Marlboro. Fujifilm,Tab. and Bank of America. He also designed the corporate identities for many airlines, including Alitalia, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Singapore Airlines.

Max Factor famously stated "In the factory we make cosmetics, and in the store we sell hope."

When it comes to branding, the quote could be "Companies make products, but consumers buy brands."

Happy Birthday Walter. Thank you for the gift you gave to our industry.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Do You Want a Sustainable Competitive Advantage?

According to Arie de Gues, “Your ability to learn faster than your competition is your only sustainable competitive advantage.”

Now, to be honest, I am not even sure who Arie de Gues is, but I am thinking he is some sort of a genius. The problem is, far too many fail to heed his advice – regardless of whether they are new to the industry or seasoned professionals.

At our agency, continued education is not only essential, but also required – and no, this does not mean attending night classes at your local community college.

What I am referring to is taking on the responsibility of bettering yourself, whenever and wherever possible. This could mean performing research on market trends, or simply paying attention to the world around you. The biggest mistake anyone can make, is assuming they already have all the answers. If you ever start to feel this way, just take a look up in the rear view mirror and you’ll see your competition quickly approaching.

And make no mistake - there is competition everywhere, whether it comes in the form of another company within your category, or from a fellow employee who wants the corner office at the end of the hall. In the end, the only way to keep your edge is to keep your brain sharp.

Unlike other industries, advertising does not require licensing and continuing education credits, although it could easily be argued that this would not always be a bad idea. That being said, we must take these endeavors upon ourselves, even when it is not required.

Fortunately, all you need for this to happen is an internet connection, a cup of coffee and an inkling of ambition to keep you inspired and moving forward. Ok, the coffee is optional, but ambition is not.

You have to want to be better, want to improve and want to grow. Otherwise, you end up falling behind. This alone can hurt your career, but more importantly, it can hurt your client’s success – something I take very seriously.

One thing you should absolutely not do is learn at your client's expense. Instead, I recommend practicing on yourself, your company, or a pro-bono client. While fake it till you make it practices may have been okay for wanting to be cool in high school, it isn't a good idea when your client is investing millions of dollars for an ROI that increases revenue.

When I speak to recent graduates, I tell them that their formal education is just the first step in a process, a process that goes far beyond what you can get from a book. It has to do with real world experience that hopefully drives you to want more. Without this drive, you will soon find that you are either stuck in a holding pattern, or unable to even leave the ground.

To be successful in today’s world, you have to do more and be more, and most importantly, you have to want it more than anyone else.

Jaci Russo

Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

The Russo Group

Does Social Media Matter?

It is almost impossible to open a magazine or watch the news without hearing about Social Media and how it is helping, or hurting, business today.

What can social media do for you and more importantly why should you care?

Well to answer that question properly, we first have to discuss branding, as it pertains to business – not cattle. To understand what a brand is, we have to realize what it is not.

A brand is not a company.

A brand is not a logo.

A brand is not a product.

Quite simply, a brand is a person’s emotional response to a product. It’s the product’s reputation in the heart and mind of the consumer.

Why is branding so important? When consumers are making decisions about a purchase, they can be overwhelmed by too many choices, with no differentiation between products, and have to rely on their feeling about a company when making a selection.

Their gut feeling is shaped by the promise that a company has made and the expectation that the consumer has about the experience. When the expectation is met or exceeded, then trust will be formed. Trust promotes loyalty and loyalty leads to advocacy.

So, what is your brand?

You have to start with Focus – define the one differentiating and powerfully compelling quality that makes your brand razor sharp.

Next is Connection – connect with your audience by establishing your voice and defining your message.

Now you have to tie it together with Harmony – unify your brand by developing branded touchpoints that work to establish trust.

The ultimate goal is to change the conversation to make an emotional connection that will drive consumers to choose you.

Companies used to have only traditional media to broadcast their message. Now you don’t have to just broadcast it anymore.

With social media you can have a conversation, create a connection, develop a relationship, form a tribe, most importantly, you can build a brand.

Maybe you think that your consumers aren’t on the Internet? According to Inc. Magazine, January 2009, “In 2008, 90% of purchases were made after research online.”

So, when your consumers are researching an upcoming purchase, what will they find when they Google your name? You should find out.

Keep your ear to the ground, proverbially speaking, and listen for your name and your competitors through the use of Alerts. Utilize an RSS reader to subscribe to industry blogs and stay up to date.

Engage with your consumers in the places where they spend their time – Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Plaxo and so many more. Learn to speak their language and have conversations with them.

You can recruit new employees and use social media to get to know more about them, what they are doing and who they are doing it with before you ever have the first interview.

Social media is revolutionizing business the same way that the invention of the television changed advertising.

What will you do with these new tools today?

Jaci Russo

Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

The Russo Group

Brand Buzz: Craig's List

Tune in to Brand Buzz every Monday at 5:20pm on KPEL 105.1 or online at www.kpel1051.com.

We discuss branding and best uses of social media tactics.

Branding is one of the most misunderstood terms in marketing.

A brand is not a logo.

A brand is not a business card.

A brand is not a company.

A brand is not a product.

Because humans are emotional, a brand is how the consumer connects with a company or product.

Social media applications are great tools to market a company or product because you can connect with a consumer on an emotional level. Truly engage with them.

Each week we discuss a different application and dive into how a business can best use that application.

We have prepared a white paper that reviews Craig's List and aggregated a few articles that dive further into how to use it best.

Please let us know if you have any questions or if there are specific topics that you want us to feature.

Thanks for listening.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

Are You Ignoring 1/4 of Your Potential Consumers?

Do you know your target audience?

Not just the demographic profile but the psychographic profile as well?

Focusing on consumer insight is an important first step in branding. Once you have figured out what you are saying, you really need to identify to whom you will say it.

Your current consumers. Your lost consumers. The consumers that aren't aware of you yet.

Who are they? What makes them tick?

Have you asked them yet?

A great article in Ad Age, "Millennials Are Evolving; Are You Keeping Up?" (reg. req.), recently discussed this very topic. MeganMeagher, a 25 year old Account Planner for Taxi in New York, analyzes her generation from a first hand perspective.

She realizes that there are very few companies that are actually targeting Gen Yers with their marketing. Even fewer are doing it well.

Millennials should not be ignored. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they will be the largest segment of the population in 2015.

So, what are Millennials looking for in a job, in a product, in a country?

New York Magazine, "Class of '09", decided to ask them directly and were surprised by the answers. As Gen Yers prepare to enter the workforce with personal and national debt at an all time high, it was refreshing to hear that the people surveyed weren't bitter but actually optimistic about the future.

How can you better target Gen Yers? Unless you sell memberships in AARP, you need to focus on this segment of the population. Don't ignore 1/4 of your potential consumers. Find out what appeals to them.

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist

photo credit: genystartup.com

Is Free a Strategy?

In May, I posted a blog called "To Be Free or To Be Premium, That is The Question". I wrote about the new book that Chris Anderson,Wired Editor-in-Chief, has written, called Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business.The blogs' main point being that a premium product can always command a premium price. You don't have to give it away.

There has been quite a bit of discussion around the book and where the business models should be heading.

Malcolm Gladwell's column in the July 6th issue of The New Yorker is titled "Priced To Sell" and reviews Anderson's book.

The article is a great read and does a very thorough job of dissecting the book and drawing the line from Anderson's theories to what is happening today with content providers - be it newspapers (NYTimes does not charge for content, Wall Street Journal has a million paid subscribers) or television (broadcast networks are struggling with only advertisers to pay the bills, yet cable networks offer specialty content at a premium price).

Now, Seth Godin has jumped into the conversation with a blog post entitled, "Malcolm Is Wrong". Godin's blog asserts that Free is where we are headed and there is nothing anyone can do about it so jump on board.

Mark Cuban has weighed into the discussion and thinks there is a big difference between "Free vs Freely Distributed".

You can take a look at the whole "Free Debate" on Squidoo and add your two cents (pun intended) to the discussion.

I am going to have to side with Malcolm Gladwell on this.

Free is not where we are headed.

Really, it seems pretty ironic that Free costs $17.81 on Amazon. Wouldn't it make more sense to support the theory of the book by giving it away as an e-book?

After reading all of the comments, and there have been plenty, I am sticking with my original point which is that a premium product can command a premium price. If you give it away, or discount it too deeply, it will lose brand equity in the hearts and minds of consumers.

But, what say you? Is the future going to be free?

Jaci Russo
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist