Nova Scotia Tourism, media adjacencies + premium positions


When I was a Media Director my job was to find cost efficient media placements as well as premium media adjacencies. For example, the last TV spot in the cluster just before the CBC National News is an affordable premium media adjacency. The last TV spot in the cluster just before the Stanley Cup Playoff is a good example of a far less affordable premium position.

The theory is that a great media position opens the mind and the heart and lets the message flows to the decision center of the brain more freely.

This 3D Lighthouse for Nova Scotia Tourism in the heart of Toronto’s financial district is a fantastic example of how a premium media position works.

  • In a sea of and the ebb and flow of cars and pedestrians this lighthouse stands out.
  • It’s eye-level and scaled to life.
  • It’s iconic.
  • But best of all - it’s parked right in front of the Royal Bank of Canada’s head office tower at Bay & Wellington here in my Toronto. The entrance of the building is behind the lighthouse.

Can you image the conversations going on between the RBC and BNS marketing departments.



116 Seconds

Because most people will spend no more time than that on your site, here’s what you can do to make every second count.

  • Add basic contact information to your home page. Don’t make me “look” for you or make me fill out a form. I haven’t used forms for years and the spam is minimal.
  • Keep your site content relevant and fresh: it’s a showcase not an archive.
  • Review your site’s traffic patterns to find out which pages are most popular and make sure that your most popular pages tell your visitors:             
    1. who you are, what you do and what your competitive advantage is,
    2. why your brand is a better choice than the competition’s, and
    3. how they can start a relationship with you.

Consider this website behavior profile based on my review of more than 50 websites:

  • About 25-50% of visitors arrived at the wrong place because they are not even close to your trading zone. They leave a few seconds after they arrive.
  • Of those who looked around, about ½ view a 2nd page.
    • So that’s about 25-37% of the initial “total page views”.
  • 25-50% are repeat visits.
    • So on new visits you’re down to about 13-25% of “total page views”.
  • About 50% of those visitors look at a 3rd page on your site.
    • So less than 10% of all visitors that viewed three pages.
  • Importantly only a small number of sites “held” readers interest for more than two minutes, and moved the retained audience to the “contact page” - typically the 5th or 6th page. Even then less than 10% of those who landed on the home page made it this far into the top sites.
  • While most sites I reviewed had more than ten pages and some had over 50, most pages simply are not viewed. "Out of sight, out of mind" seems to apply to web-sites as well.


While organic search scores can be improved with blogging, on line advertising, cross links, online PR, newsletters and social media (to help increase the marketing funnel diameter), “content” is still king.

If your website content isn’t 1st rate, your audience won’t stay long.


The man who sold hotdogs

I once knew a man who sold hotdogs. He had inherited the recipe from his parents, made each one by had and used to sell them on a busy street corner for 25¢ each. At the end of the day he took his earning home, paid his bills and reinvested the balance in his business.

Because people loved the man and his hotdogs, sales grew quickly. One day the man had saved up enough to build the restaurant of his dreams. It was located at the same corner where he sold his 1st hotdog about 20 years ago. Now the man could sell his wonderful hotdogs all day and all night long. And to ensure the old man could sell all the wonderful hotdogs he could produce he began to advertise.


All the time.

On the day the man’s son left for college, he stood in front of his beautiful restaurant and cried.

  • He cried because he was happy.
  • He cried because he was thankful for that little hotdog recipe that his parent’s had given him because it had enabled his wife and children to prosper.
  • He cried because he was so amazed at the growing line-ups that all the advertising brought to his restaurant.

One spring morning and many years later, the old man’s son returned from college and sat his father down. He explained to his father that there was a war on, that people were not spending money the way they used to, and that the recession, which was projected to follow, promised hard times for almost everyone. His son told him to stop wasting money on advertising. “No more TV, newspaper, radio or outdoor billboard ads. And no more big search lights on the roof all night long. O.K. Dad? All that’s gotta to stop.

The old man thought, “My Son must be right. He just came back from university where he studied business and economics for six years. What do I know? I’m just an old man that loves to sell hotdogs”

  • That night the searchlight was turned off.
  • The next day all advertising contracts were cancelled.

And the next week sales fell for the first time in 30 years.

When the man went to bed he counted and then thanked God for his blessings: especially for the return of his smart son and his amazing business acumen.


Great Service Skill Sets

Last week I went to three restaurants – one was an old haunt that my wife and I love, the other two were higher end restaurants that we had not been to before.

Because of my fascination with customer service, I found myself monitoring – and reflecting on how each establishment made me feel.

Here are some qualities that are fundamental to a great customer experience – regardless of what business you’re in.

Empathy. Great service teams sense what state their customers or prospects are in and adjust their own tone and manner to pace that of the client. Whether the vibes are positive or negative, great service teams know just what to do – because they also know how to improvise.

Enthusiasm. We all need enthusiasm to be great at customer service – especially on the days when customers aren’t so nice. Enthusiasm for what I do is my “emotional tow truck” that, with Charlie, remind me to save some of the great day energy to pull me through the tough times. Enthusiastic customer service people get the job done faster, simpler, and with a touch of class.

Responsibility. Most people who have a product or service issue to resolve REALLY DO NOT want to steal you blind. They’re looking for some fair and reasonable options to their product or service dilemma. Sending them to a different department, or to your boss invariable adds to the time and frustration they feel – and will want to take out on you.

Empower your front line to solve your customers’ problems. Period.

Objectivity. Contrary to what most of you believe, it’s not about you. You just took the call or the customer on the floor or at the counter. They are not here to talk to “you”, they are here to talk to a “brand ambassador” who can and will help them out of their dilemma. See Empathy – above and Ownership below.

Ownership. Those who see themselves as part of the “problem” – think empowered brand ambassador, not helpless Jr. customer service counter person – come up with much better, further reaching solutions. They recognize that “if I’m part of the problem, I can also be part of a better solution!”

Integrity. People with integrity ensure they understand the customer’s needs before arriving at any conclusions. They are able to explain their employer’s position objectively (rather than defensively) to help themselves and customer understand the alternate paths to realistic resolutions. That groundwork enables them to say “yes” and “no” to various options with respect and authority. Integrity “floats the boat”. Bullshit sinks it.

Adaptability. Because there are so many variables (beyond your control) that go into any given situation, most events do not play out exactly as planned. On balance and in hindsight some turn out better, some worse. And that’s why it’s called “life” – not “vacation”.

Enjoy the day and the journey wherever it takes you.


Why Effective and Efficient does not always make sense

dma response rates

Despite the perception in the marketing industry that direct mail and telemarketing are less effective than digital channels, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has found that direct mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email's average response rate of 0.12%, says Yory Wurmser, director of marketing and media insights at the DMA.

  • Depending on how one crunches the numbers, direct mail has a response rate of up to 10 to 30 times that of email — and even higher when compared to online display ads.
  • Using transactional data from Bizo and Epsilon, the DMA analyzed more than 29 billion emails and 2 billion online display impressions to track consumer actions both immediately following a click and in the days and weeks after being exposed to an online ad.
  • Overall for display, only 6% converted as a result of the immediate action of the click, Wurmser says, meaning that 94% of conversions happen at a later date — an important finding, considering that the success of display's impact is generally judged by its click-through rate.

Despite this news, Wurmser notes that in the nine years the DMA has been doing its response rate report, the rate for direct mail, while still “the better channel than any other out there right now,” has gone down 25% overall.

“Yes, there has been a reduction in the response rate level from a direct mail perspective,” he says. “But, looking at it strictly in terms of response rate, direct mail still outperforms digital.”

However, from an ROI point of view, email is more cost-effective than direct mail or telemarketing. The report found email had the highest ROI, at $28.50, compared the $7 for direct mail.

  • And because it’s more “cost-effective” most clients and agencies judge it to be the better media alternative.
  • Ironically the media is often purchased to promote brands – which technically are not “cost-effective”. Think Maserati vs. Ford.

While direct mail remains a strong medium, overall response rates are declining. My experience says the culprit is “all media”. Ostensibly we can only consume so much information before we’re full. Every year we are offered more product, service and media choices – but no one’s offered any more time.

So while the proliferation of emails and display ads makes direct mail, on a per capita basis comparison, less cluttered, the time the average person has to devote to any given medium is down.

This report overview is based on data collected through an April 2012 email survey and an analysis of transactional data provided by Bizo™ and Epsilon™.