Positioning – it’s all the rage! But beware….

Product positioning is an important aspect of marketing; in today’s ever-cluttered world of marketing and advertising a product/brand must have a clear benefit or competitive position in the marketplace to successfully differentiate itself from the competition.  Even if a marketer does partake in positioning a product, it does not mean that the positioning will be successful every time. Common mistakes in positioning CAN happen.

Under-positioning is disadvantageous to a brand or product because marketers do not position it strongly enough.  They do not associate the brand/product with a clear benefit or competitive edge so that consumers know what exactly sets it apart from other competitors. Therefore, consumers may not have a strong connection with a brand and instead buy products from the competition because they don’t know what advantages it will provide them.  For example, the Flip video camera was discontinued because they did not establish a good positioning strategy against mobile video cameras that were easier to use. Consumers were not willing to buy an extra device when they already had one on their mobile phone.

Over-positioning can happen when there is too much focus on position, ultimately giving the audience a too narrow depiction of the product.  This mistake can ultimately alienate consumers from the product, creating a narrow group of customers that can actually identify with it.  If the target audience is too small it limits potential consumers of the product.

Confused positioning happens when marketers either change their position too often or has benefits that contradict each other that an audience becomes confused of what the product actually offers.

Apple is the first company that comes to mind when I consider successful positioning strategies. During Apple’s lifespan it has successfully positioned itself in the mind of consumers as the company on cutting-edge technology innovation with an ease-of-use appeal and design that is for individuals who think differently. Apple offers a sense of prestige, stature and creativity.  Companies, consumers and admirers all look to Apple for the newest and coolest products and accessories. Their products are not only visually sleek and simple, but their software also oozes the simplicity that other systems so often forget. The “Get A Mac” campaign emphasizes the creativity and well-thought-out design of Apple products. Apple differentiated itself from conservative PC brand by offering products that would enable creative individuals an outlet to get their creative juices flowing.  When I see someone that has a Mac, I assume that they are creative, liberal, innovative, and have a some-what higher amount of disposable income. Their product differentiation has been extremely successful and has given them accolades such as “the world’s most valuable company” in August and having more money than the U.S. government.

One thing is for certain: a brand must have a clear position in the marketplace to be successful. 


Skype CAN be educational!

According to an article, published by Mashable.com, Skype launched a network in March 2011 specifically for teachers called: Skype in the Classroom. The teacher network now boasts 15,000 teachers worldwide sharing/collaborating projects and video-conferencing with other classes and professionals in their prospective fields. Tony Bates, the CEO of Skype, sat down with Mashable to discuss the impact that Skype in the Classroom has on education. His positive outlook of the teaching network emphasizes the importance of a video-conferencing tool in classrooms.

The article is particularly interesting because there are many positives that can come out of the teaching network. As the article mentioned, teachers are able to collaborate on school projects and share their work with others that would normally be inaccessible.  Skype in the Classroom is invaluable because it allows students to work with others and/or have personal experiences with various teachers and professors across the globe.  Specifically advertising/marketing classes can collaborate in more specific ways with the use of Skype. The platform can also enhance students’ learning and global perspective rather than restricting them to only one regional or national perspective.

It is important for educators from the advertising/marketing world to engage their students with this type of experiential learning.  It can also help students by providing them with a mode of connecting with industry professionals that would otherwise be out of reach.  Instructors should implement these professionals into their classroom instruction whenever possible to enrich classroom learning.  Additionally, teachers in all disciplines and fields should embrace this technology and innovate new ways to use the platform for better classroom engagement. This initiative is of great significance for education overall and even more for higher education. West Virginia University’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism would benefit from outside professional and academic collaboration. Personally, I would have enjoyed my advertising and communication classes more if Skype and other engaging platforms would have been used more often.

What are advertising effects?

The three dimensions of communication effects are: cognitive, affective/attitudinal, and behavioral.  Collectively, the three dimensions emphasize the interrelationship between knowing, feeling, and doing among consumers. The first dimension – cognitive – refers to the beliefs or knowledge a consumer holds about a product or brand. Specific effects of this dimension include awareness, attention and knowledge of the particular product/brand. The second dimension – affective – refers to the way a consumer feels about a product or brand; it represents emotions or opinions. Specific effects of this dimension include liking and preference. The third dimension – behavioral – involves the intentions or actual behavior a consumer has in regard to the product or brand.  The specific effect of this dimension includes purchase.

Most advertisers will say that the most important dimension of communication effects is the cognitive dimension because it includes the awareness and knowledge of a product or brand. One of advertising’s purposes is that it introduces products/brands to consumers so that they have awareness and knowledge of them.  Without awareness or knowledge the consumer does not know that the product/brand exists and therefore cannot make a decision in regard to the product/brand. It can be assumed that if the consumer is not aware of or does not have knowledge of the product/brand than they cannot experience the other two dimensions – affective and behavioral. Ultimately the cognitive dimension is the start of the AIDA model, without the cognitive dimension a consumer cannot make an action in regard to a product/brand.

Unaided awareness, top-of-mind awareness, aided awareness and familiarity are all types of advertising awareness. First, unaided awareness is achieved when a consumer identifies a brand/product without being prompted. Top-of-mind awareness is a subset of unaided awareness; it is achieved when a consumer identifies a brand/product before any other one. Aided awareness is achieved when a consumer can identify that they are aware of a brand/product when they are prompted. Familiarity is a subset of aided awareness.  It is achieved when a consumer not only knows or has heard about a brand, but also knows about the brand and it’s personality.  Top-of-mind awareness is particularly coveted by brands because it is the brand that first comes to a consumer’s mind. According to Kelley and Jugenheimer (2010) research has shown that a brand’s market share can be highly correlated with unaided awareness; market share leaders are often the brands that lead the category in awareness.   Therefore, top-of-mind awareness is the most important advertising effect.

Advertising’s immediate objective should never be strictly sales. Although sales are an important long-term goal, advertising should not be thought of as a means-to-an-end where sales is the only objective and once achieved there is no reason to continue. Even though a consumer purchases a product once, it does not go to say that the consumer will be a repeat purchase or that they will become an advocate for a brand.  Sales are important. However, if consumers do not continue to buy a product/brand more than once than it was a one-time affect that did not increase brand equity in the consumer’s mind. Also, it is hard to isolate advertising sales completely from other factors that could have contributed to sales. Therefore, it will be difficult to measure the effect advertising had on purchase behavior. For these reasons, advertising’s immediate objective should not be sales.  Advertising should focus on the cognitive and affective dimensions of effects rather than behavioral because the cognitive and affective dimensions will drive the behavioral dimension in the end.


Kelley, L. D., & Jugenheimer, D. W. (2010). Advertising account planning: Planning and managing an IMC campaign (2nd ed.).  Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Millennials…more selective than ever.

According to an article on AdAge.com, Ford has tapped into the mind’s of millennials on Twitter to establish key marketing tactics that will allow them to effectively engage the millennial audience. Since millennials are a coveted market audience, many brands are seeking specific techniques to sway this young generation into becoming brand consumers and enthusiasts. Ford’s marketing team delved into these young minds to uncover insights that they realize is necessary to have a meaningful brand relationship.

First, Ford illustrates that self-expression is important to the millennial generation because it allows them to customize their car – transforming it from a mere vehicle into personalized “lifestyle enhancer.” Second, Ford notes that connectivity is all the rage with this ever-connected generation. With that said, connecting the cell phone and its features to automobiles is not an option – it’s a must.  Next, they identify gamification and its increasing importance. By incorporating gaming into automobiles, it will increase the engagement of the millennial consumer.  Access to the brand is becoming an important aspect to the young generation. They want –and have even come to expect – interaction with brands.  Last, Ford emphasizes that brand as content is important to always observe; by watching what millennials do with brands, marketers can constantly educate themselves on how to best reach and engage with them.

The key marketing tips presented from Ford’s perspective of millennials can be applied to many brands seeking to enchant the highly sought-after generation. Self-expression, connectivity, gamification, access, and brand as content have become increasingly important in every aspect to the millennial consumer.

Not only automobiles can be customized, many products such as shoes or phones or computers are customizable. For example, Nike reached the young demographic many years ago when it introduced the ability to customize everything about the shoe you order on their online store.  Millennials can be described as being self-absorbed. As a millennial myself, anything we can make more personal to us will make us fonder of the product.

When it comes to connectivity, the millennial consumer is the epitome of demanding everything at their fingertips. Brands must seek ways to incorporate this connectivity at any second they can. Once a millennial loses touch with their connection, they become disengaged will all surroundings – it’s their life-support.

Gamification keeps the youthful consumer occupied and entertained. Brands must be able provide methods of constant engagement that keep the consumer coming back for more. Foursquare has evolved from just checking-in, to a simple game that keeps users coming back to earn and win prizes.

As mentioned before, millennials are self-absorbed; this causes them to expect access to brands on “their” time. Brands must be willing to actively engage this youth when they say it’s time. And last but not least, mining data and information from this important demographic is ever important. Learning their content sharing characteristics and expressions is a guaranteed way to always be abreast of their changing trends.

If brands can find techniques to achieve these key marketing tactics they will undoubtedly increase their brand presence with the millennial generation. In the end, the millennial generation can either make or break a brand. So brands must tread carefully.

Integrated Marketing Communications – Is it for everyone?

Integrated Marketing Communication is a marketing model that encompasses building consumer relationships with clear, consistent and impactful messages that are data-driven and consumer focused. The concept of IMC is to produce synergy among marketing efforts to influence and affect behavior in specific target audiences. There are five key features of IMC that effectively build an impactful marketing strategy.  First, all IMC efforts should be consumer focused.  Thus, marketers must acknowledge that consumers are in control and they must understand their attitudes, perceptions and behaviors. Since consumers are becoming increasingly fragmented, IMC is driven by consumer data and analysis. Secondly, all forms of potential contact must be used. Brands must be present where the consumer is; these touch points are always important, even if they are all not equally as engaging. Thirdly, all messages must be consistent and have a clear voice. This is where synergy comes into play. Uncoordinated messages will send an ambiguous message to consumers; coordinated and consistent messages will produce synergy. IMC seeks to build relationships with consumers. This fourth key feature is important because without it one may lose consumers. If you build strong relationships with consumers, the relationships will most likely last and be mutually beneficial. Last but not least, the fifth key feature of IMC is to influence and affect consumer behavior. Affecting behavior is the ultimate goal for any marketing communication strategy; if a desired behavior is not achieved, the strategy was then a failure.  Together, all five of these features produce maximum impact and synergy.

As an advertiser, it is important to embrace IMC because all communication efforts must be clear, consistent and impactful. If advertising efforts are inconsistent and unclear, messages will not be impactful. It is also important for advertisers to be individually consumer-focused rather than mass media focused so that they can segment audiences appropriately for greater engagement. It can be difficult to implement IMC without necessary diverse skills sets. It can cost additional money and human resources to effectively embrace and implement IMC; therefore, the agency must have approach IMC with an open mind.

Advertising agencies may encounter many problems that would impede their efforts of becoming a full IMC agency. First, as mentioned above, an agency may not have money resources to embrace IMC fully. Employees may not possess the skill-set or knowledge to effectively manage and implement IMC efforts. Consequently, agencies would need to resort to hiring more employees to execute IMC. An advertising agency most often will only execute a specific area of marketing communication efforts – advertising. With that said, it would be hard to implement IMC if an agency is only overseeing advertising efforts. Public relations, marketing and advertising specialists would need to be housed at the same agency to effectively coordinate all IMC efforts.

Though IMC may not be for everyone, it can certainly be said that implementing an integrated marketing communications approach to organization/company communication efforts will have a positive long-term effect – for the company and the audience.

Looking for schools that teach IMC at the master’s level? 

Consider the following:

IMC Online @ West Virginia University: http://imc.wvu.edu/

Northwestern University – Medill: http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/imc/

Loyola University: http://www.luc.edu/gsb/academics_msimc.shtml

ADV 401 Creative Portfolio

The following items were assigned in Dana Coester’s ADV 401 Creative class as individual class assignments.
In order from top-to-bottom: Personal Branding Assignment, Egypt Uprising Political Poster, Conceptual Movie Poster. 

Pictured above: Personal brand identity business card and letterhead.

Pictured above: Personal brand identity mobile application landing screen.

Pictured above: Egypt uprising political poster. Pop Art inspiration.

Pictured above: Conceptual personal movie poster.

New to the blogging community.

As my Advertising 401 Creative class draws to a close, Dana Coester (our professor) has asked us to create a portofolio for our work using a blogging website.  Since I have been tossing around the idea of making a blog (but haven’t successfully accomplished the task)….this was a good opportunity to start building my personal site!

Still deciding on themes, backgrounds, graphics & such….looking forward to see how it will all come together.

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are” — Anonymous