Affinity marketing: Critical links for 11.21.2014

Links to critical things I read this week to help corporate pros in affinity, affiliate, and partnership marketing excel in a changing field.

Business development

## Some great stats on the importance of social selling and referrals, particularly in B2B selling from LinkedIn. Cold calling -- without any kind of intro -- has never been a steeper climb.

## Gerry Moran shares ten questions you should ask about your LinkedIn profile -- whatever your professional goals may be.

## 'Tis the season to celebrate with family, friends and business partners, so here are the 25 best bars on earth.

Leadership and career

## Harvard Business Review with sound advice on career reinvention after 50. And no matter your age, with the rapid changes in business and job instability, we will all have to reinvent ourselves somewhere on our career path.

## Having a conscientious spouse can be a positive predictor of income growth, promotions and job satisfaction.


## Facebook may be working on a LinkedIn competitor -- "Facebook at Work" -- to capture some of the lucrative B2B ad spend LinkedIn enjoys.

## These six links will tell you just how much Google knows about you.

Welcome to the tipping point: We now spend more time looking at our phone screens than our TV screens:

People with access to a smartphone or tablet now spend an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes on them each day, says digital analytics firm Flurry, putting phones ahead of televisions as time-sucks. The old first screen on average gets about 2 hours and 48 minutes of attention each day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Marketing strategy

Uber, the rideshare startup that is disrupting -- no, decimating -- the taxi business, is growing like crazy. But Uber's aggressive tactics threaten to turn public sentiment against it:

In just four years of operation, Uber has ignited a new global ride-sharing industry with the promise of transforming urban transportation and helping many people get by without owning cars.

But these days, the hot start-up is facing its toughest challenge yet — curbing its ugliest, most aggressive impulses before its win-at-all-cost culture begins to turn off investors, potential employees and the ride-hailing public at large.


The idea that a senior executive at the company thought it would be fine to publicly reveal a plan for spying makes you wonder if anything is considered off-limits at Uber — and that may be the sort of deep-seated worry that an apologetic series of tweets can’t do much to fix.

Winning with class still matters.

## We still gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving, but more and more of us are at least working out first -- a reflection of healthier lifestyles.

## Video games as spectator sport? It is growing in popularity, as gamers watch professionals play in live tournaments, on YouTube and on As more people watch the best gamers game, marketers are getting onboard with top players in partnership and sponsorship deals. Gamer Matt Haag makes $1 million per year.

Unfortunately, my Madden skills wouldn't even earn me a cup of coffee. Better stick to the day job.

Posted on November 21, 2014 .

Notes on affinity marketing, 11.14.2014

Career and leadership

## Good tips on asking follow-up questions to better understand people. Helpful in conducting interviews, but also in partnership discussions -- and any business discussion, really.

## The CEO of Grey advertising says leaders should talk less.

Business development

## According to my personal,  non-scientific estimates, 87% of salespeople believe "social selling" consists of two steps:

1. Send LinkedIn invite to potential prospect.
2. Pitch invitee 4 seconds after they accept invitation to connect.
3. Repeat pitch under person responds and/or blocks further communication.

But that's not what social selling is (supposed to be) about. Here's a list of ten social selling experts that are worth following on Twitter.

Marketing strategy

## Millennials still watch "TV" -- but they way they consume it is getting pretty damn complicated:

Unwilling — and as a recent college graduate, unable — to spring for, say, an $800 60-inch, web-enabled Sharp Aquos for his Atlanta living room, or even the $200 for a used 32-inch off Craigslist, Jonathan Ray relies on his MacBook Pro or iPhone to catch most comedies, like “Veep.” For high-production-value shows like “Game of Thrones” that cry out for a more cinematic experience, Mr. Ray cobbled together a Franken-TV out of a spare computer monitor, an old set of computer speakers and an Apple TV box. And no need for cable. To defray subscription costs, he shares Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime video and HBO Go passwords with friends. “To me, it’s a blender,” said Mr. Ray of the traditional television set. “I may need one one day; it might be nice to have one. But it’s by no means essential."

So good luck buying 30 second commercials for that.

## Papa John's launched Fritos pizza, and now Pizza Hut answers back with a huge overall of its menu with tons of new options. Seems like there's room in the quick pizza space for someone to focus on just, you know, making really good pizza?

## How Twitter parity accounts partner together to drive impressions – and hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue.

## China's "Single's Day" 11/11, where single people shop for big discounts, blows away Black Friday/Cyber Monday volume. Once again, the Chinese race ahead of us -- even in rampant consumerism!

##  Great idea: a search engine for marketing podcasts.

## Seven strategies for successful affinity marketing:

## 91% of adults in a Pew survey “agree” or “strongly agree” that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies. I expect this to become a big issue in marketing alliances in the very near future. Can partners be truly trusted with customer data?

Posted on November 14, 2014 .

Affinity marketing notes, 11.7.2014

Notes on things I read this week to help corporate pros in affinity, affiliate, and partnership marketing excel in a changing field.

Career and leadership

# The power of positive thinking may actually slow your career progress:

Research my colleagues and I have performed over the past two decades suggests that positive thinking doesn’t actually help us as much as we suppose. In fact, across dozens of peer-reviewed studies examining the effects of positive visions of the future on people pursuing various kinds of wishes — from health-related, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or recovering quickly from surgery, to the improvement of professional or academic performance (for example, mid-level managers wishing to reduce job-related stress, graduate students looking for a job, or school children seeking to get good grades) — we’ve consistently found that people who positively fantasize make either the same or less progress in achieving attainable wishes than those who don’t.

In short, if you believe a positive outcome will be reached, you have less sense of urgency to make it a reality. But I'd rather take my chances.

# Of course, if you prefer to stay on the positive track, Jeb Blount reminds us that the words we use and topics we converse about affect our mood.

# If your looking for a job, you can expect the hiring process to longer, ruder, and more intensive than ever. I will never understand this behavior. Hiring is a two-way street; you want people to be excited to join your company, and the wrong candidate this time might be right next time -- or may try to hire you! Yes, people are stretched thin, and that's part of it, but I think this is more about people being afraid to make decisions.

# Bosses want "critical thinking skills" -- but what does that mean?

Mentions of critical thinking in job postings have doubled since 2009, according to an analysis by career-search site The site, which combs job ads from several sources, found last week that more than 21,000 health-care and 6,700 management postings contained some reference to the skill.

One thought -- how about "The ability to assess and address issues and potential opportunities?"

# Author/ marketer Ryan Holiday tweets simple career advice:

"Be quiet, work hard, and stay healthy. It’s not ambition or skill that is going to set you apart but sanity."


# Business Insider shares a web site that provides scarily accurate demographic data based on your zip code. Try it out. Why yes, I do have a compact car in the driveway and spend leisure time at theme parks and working out.

# Also from Business Insider: mobile ad spending continues to grow rapidly, while other media spend remains flat:

# American Internet service is slow and expensive compared to other parts of the world, which can harm Ameican competitiveness:

America’s slow and expensive Internet is more than just an annoyance for people trying to watch “Happy Gilmore” on Netflix. Largely a consequence of monopoly providers, the sluggish service could have long-term economic consequences for American competitiveness.

Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection. In Los Angeles, New York and Washington, downloading the same movie takes 1.4 minutes for people with the fastest Internet available, and they pay $300 a month for the privilege, according to The Cost of Connectivity, a report published Thursday by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

# Podcasting is hot again -- and the reason is commuters and connected cars:

But as I talked to podcasters, they told me that the biggest reason for the podcast renaissance has nothing to do with the podcasts themselves, or the advertisers funding them.

It's actually about cars.

The secret to radio's success has always been the drive-time commuter. An estimated 44 percent of all radio listening takes place in the car, and that's the way the radio industry likes it. Car-based listeners are captive, they tune in for long stretches at a time, and they're valuable to advertisers. And drivers' dedication to the AM/FM spectrum has made radio a remarkably stable medium — even in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center and Nielsen Audio, 91 percent of Americans over age 12 listened to the radio on a weekly basis.




Connected cars are a boon for the entire streaming audio industry, but they're especially exciting for podcast makers, whose shows are perfectly suited to in-car listening. Just as TV watchers can now choose Netflix or Amazon streams over surfing channels, radio listeners will soon have a bevy of on-demand options at their disposal.

# Artificial intellegence (AI) now outperforms high school students on English exams.

AI software scored higher on the English section of Japan’s standardized college entrance test than the average Japanese high school senior, its developers said.


“The average score for the English section of the standardized entrance exam was 93.1 (out of 200), but the AI scored 95,” a spokesman for NTT Science and Core Technology Laboratory Group said. Last year the software scored 52.


Marketing strategy

# Kraft rejects 75-85% of its digital ad impressions due to quality concerns:

The massive number reveals that talk of digital advertising supply-chain corruption is indeed leading to action among top brands. Kraft, one of Ad Age's 100 leading national advertisers, spent $35.9 million on digital advertising in 2013, according to Ad Age Datacenter.

"That 75% to 85% is either deemed to be fraudulent, unsafe or non-viewable or unknown," Ms. Fleischer, the company's director of data, content and media, said, referring to the rejected impressions. "Think about what this means for us as an industry. When we're rejecting 75% to 85% of the impressions available, that's a problem."

# CVS took a stand against cigarettes, banning them from their stores, and said goodbye to a $2B  item. The company was rewarded with a 9.7% increase in revenues this quarter.

# James Buckhouse says it is time to ditch the elevator pitch and challenges us to tell our brand story in just four words.

Business development

# Tips from Social Media Examiner on building a quality network on LinkedIn. One tip is to think before you except every invite, to be strategic about who you connect with. I'm really bad at that -- I'll connect with anyone who asks -- but also readily ignore anyone who instantly pitches me (which is far too many, unfortunately).

# An interesting look at the different skill sets needed for sales vs. business development, from the ad agency perspective.



Posted on November 7, 2014 .

Notes on affinity marketing, 10.31.2014

Notes on things I read this week to help corporate pros in affinity, affiliate, and partnership marketing excel in a changing field.

Oreo markets at rocket speed -- but are sales moving with the same velocity?

Ever since it’s ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ tweet during the Super Bowl blackout of 2013, Oreo has received high praise for its ability to capitalize on cultural events and create buzz. Call it newsjacking, call it real-time marketing, call it cultural marketing … but can you call it effective? Fast Company wonders:

Since Oreo embraced culture, the brand's annual sales growth is up from the low double digits to more than 20%. But analysts attribute that to its expansion into emerging markets in Asia. It's very hard to prove that new-media campaigns increase sales.
And what did this do for cookie sales? Mondelēz does not yet know. Bonin Bough's tactics may well be revolutionary, and they certainly give Oreo the sheen of a vital brand. But in other ways his efforts really show that there is nothing new under the marketing sun. Real-time marketing is another gun in the corporate arsenal, and like all the others, it's damn hard to tell if it ever hits the mark.

Oreo owns this tactic, for sure. But it seems like they have to commit an awful lot of resources to speed and creativity for something that provides a murky ROI.

The Dark side of content marketing

Content marketing to a partner’s audience or customer base is a key part of many affiliate relationships. But wtihout a clear strategy and understanding of a partner’s audience, content marketing can be not just ineffective, but damaging to your brand. Amongst other scary facts, marketingprofs shares that 74% of site visitors get frustrated when content is irrelevant to them.

Congressman wants to regulate loyalty programs

Seems like loyalty programs, particularly in travel, are getting a lot of grief lately. Terms change on a whim (rarely for the customer's benefit) and now a Florida congressman wants them investigated:

But it just so happens that Grayson is a member of Congress. And as such, he can ask the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General to investigate airline loyalty programs.
That’s exactly what Grayson, a Democrat, did this summer, and now an audit is underway. It will take about a year for the inspector general to determine whether airline loyalty program practices are unfair and deceptive. But when the dust settles, the DOT might be closer to cracking down on one of America’s favorite addictions: collecting points and miles.
Public opinion on the issue is split. While some frustrated passengers side with the congressman, others vehemently disagree that the government ought to get involved in regulating their points and miles. A new survey by market research firm Colloquy reflects this deep division. It found that 54 percent of U.S. loyalty-program members are “unhappy” with their reward options. Also, 48 percent say that they’ve been “frustrated” by the reward redemption process.

Others argue that reward programs, particularly with the airlines, are used to treat the most profitable customers much better than others. Well, of course they do. There's nothing wrong with catering to your most profitable customers. If the government wants to review loyalty programs because they may use shifty tactics to change rewards, then fine. But the argument that loyalty programs create an unfair divide amongst customers is ridiculous. 



Posted on October 31, 2014 .

Ten rules for building strong partnership marketing relationships

Here's the good news: it's pretty straightforward to stand out as a good marketing partner. Here's the bad news: You have to be well-organized, dilligent, and consciencious. Also: It's hard work.

All I can write is what I know, what's worked for me. I'm definitely not good at doing all these things all the time and I fail regularly. As do the many excellent people I work with, which is why being forgiving is critical trait for success.

But working in this space over time, I've seen that if you can be consistent -- not perfect -- in these areas, you'll be more successful than not. You'll also attract better people and companies to partner with.

Do what you say
Don't say you're doing to do something by a certain time and then not do it. Don't offer up a communication component in your partner program and then leave it out when it comes time to execute. Do what you say and say what you do.

This is really about organization, not honesty. Most people are honest in their dealings. But you need to keep track of your commitments and then execute.

If you're going to miss a deadline (as we all do from time to time) send up a flare in advance. Let your partner know the miss is coming, and reach out share the date and time when you will deliver on your commitment. You'll be forgiven fare more often than not.

Underpromise and overdeliver
Exceed expectations in unanticipated ways. Leave yourself some wiggle room to overperform. Deliver ahead of schedule, or offer some extra value that maybe you didn't put on the table as part of the core negotiation.

Give more than people expect and you'll get more back than you expect. Very simple.

Hand-write thank you notes
This is a trick I learned from a former boss. No one does this anymore, because it's a pain. You need stamps, thank you cards, a decent pen, and penmanship that doesn't resemble hieroglyphics. So much easier to dash off an email -- which is why everyone sends the email.

I'm not always great about doing this, but when I do, it always has a positive effect. Try it five times and see what happens.

I'm an introvert at times, which is unique amongst many of my peers in partnership marketing. It also gives me an advantage. Because I'm not trying to dominate the conversation, I'm more inclined to hear what the other person says.

So just stop talking for two seconds. Ask good questions and hear the replies. You will craft a better partnership program and build more trust when you really hear what the other person is saying. They will see it in your actions, which will better align to their needs and goals. Listening pays off.

Understand your partner's business
Many of our best marketing partners could easily step in and pitch our business to someone else. They've internalized what PODS is about and align our business needs to their program.

Listening to your marketing partner is critical here, but so is a little research on your part. The internet is your friend. Read the partner's web content. What is their USP? Read customer reviews. Understand who else plays in their space.

In some ways, you're acting as an ad agency for your partner by providing them with marketing opportunities. Know their business and you will serve it better. Much better.

Understand what you accelerate
The only reason to enter a marketing partnership is to either accelerate or deliver more efficiently business growth and/or customer value. What are you bringing to the table that creates velocity for your partner? Why aren't they just doing it on their own? Think this through and be able to articulate it clearly and simply.

Jointly define success
You've put a new deal in place. You have your marketing plan and your action plan and you're ready to run. Where's the finish line? And is your partner's finish line in the same place as yours? How will you measure pace along the way to know if things are going well? Jointly agree on a set of metrics -- revenue, service level markers, lead conversion, whatever -- that sets a common and objective definition of success.

Say yes
Be open to new ideas and alternate ways of doing things. The best way to say yes and to be open to trying new things is to minimize risk -- the risk of wasting money, yes, but also wasting time. Develop a simple-to-implement testing framework that lets you address a subset of customers and see if it works. Your testing framework should let you ramp up and ramp down quickly. Sometimes we say no because doing a program seems like a ton of work and the return is uncertain. You can miss big opportunities that way, however. So set up your nimble marketing lab and always have petri dishes with interesting things growing in them. Some will grow bold and bright. Some you'll just toss in the trash. But you'll never blow up the whole building if you have your lab set up and experiment correctly.

Say no
Sometimes it's just wrong for your customers, for your partenrship strategy and capabilities, or for your company. And then you need to politely say no and move on. But in order to differentiate between what belongs in the testing lab and what belongs in someone else's lab, you must have a deep understanding of your customers, partnership strategy and program capabilities. Being able to say no quickly is a gift -- to yourself, your team and also to the other party, who, when you say no for the right reasons, will be given time and energy to work on something that will be more successful.

Be forgiving. Sometimes.
People make mistakes. They screw up. I do it daily. So forgive occasional transgressions and just move forward. Forgiving comes with caveats, however. Don't forgive patterns of mistakes -- the same issues over and over. And don't forgive bad or subversive behavior.

If you do forgive people for the same issues over and over, or tolerate unseemly behavior, then you get what you deserve: misery and a big drain on your time and energy. Know the difference between when to forgive and when to simply move on. When it's time to move on, do so without drama. You're not trying to win over someone else, you're trying to protect your time and energy.

Building great partnership marketing relationships isn't complicated. But it does take organization, strategy, and consistency. Start there and you'll have a strong foundation for your programs.

Posted on September 5, 2014 .