Are You Recession Ready?

A recent report from the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index shows a continued downward trend in May and now stands at 57.2 (1985=100), down from 62.8 in April - and a 16-year low (Oct. 1992, 54.6).

"Weakening business and job conditions coupled with growing pessimism about the short-term future have further depleted consumers' confidence in the overall state of the economy, said Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. Consumers' inflation expectations, fueled by increasing prices at the pump, are now at an all-time high and are likely to rise further in the months ahead."

Check out these articles for ideas on how companies are making the best of a bad situation:
Wooing Customers in a Slowing Economy - Tips from Tourism Marketers
Empowering Employees as Customers Look to Haggle
Using Loyalty Programs to Boost Sagging Sales
Advertising Heads Online
What Tactic is Most Recession Proof?


Dare to Think Differently

One of my weekly MarketingProfs emails this week featured Dita von Teese discussing building a personal brand. Though Ms. von Teese was branding herself, her advice can just as easily be applied to any business - find a niche or an untapped corner of the market, position yourself there and work to be the best.

Says von Teese, "I think that the most important thing—and the point that a lot of people miss—is they're trying so hard to follow a formula, and to fit in to what's the right thing, and you can see it everywhere. They see success. They say, 'That's how you become successful.' But, to me, I always looked at it a different way. I wanted to fill a void, I wanted to be different. That was going to be the secret to my success. And I looked at the people that I think are very, very successful throughout history, and they all had something different, that was maybe a little bit risqué, and they were very individual. And those are the people that stand the test of time. Not just ordinary beauty, or trying to fit in. You have to have something more. And I was always willing to take a chance and believe in what I did."

For more on how Dita von Teese crafted herself in to an icon, watch the video here.


Open Mouth, Insert Foot

In the past week, a lot of controversy has surrounded Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, since master re-toucher Pascal Dangin revealed that he worked his magic on the ads.

Should an advertising campaign celebrating real women be allowed to use the same re-touching technology they are fighting against?

Originally revealed in Advertising Age, quotes from Dangin seemed to imply that the women themselves were touched up, saying 'Do you know how much retouching was on that? But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone's skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.'" Now, Dangin is recanting, saying that he only retouched the set and lighting, not the women themselves, and is in fact saying he never worked on the campaign in question - just a later Dove campaign launched in 2007.

Either way - the blow against Dove's integrity could be a tough one for consumers to swallow. I doubt they will see a major drop in sales, but there could be a decline in "brand love" for this fem-friendly brand.


The Lost Art of Letter Writing

A mini vacation and busy days at the office have been keeping me away from this blog lately, but today I am back.

And I am back to rant. Just briefly, I promise.

Maybe it's because I had a fantastically strict public relations writing professor, or maybe it's just because I read a lot, but I judge people based on their writing. Maybe more critically than I do on most other aspects of personality - and especially in business transactions, as I rarely have the occasion to meet my clients face-to-face in my current position.

Almost every day I receive emails from my clients that are not only improper business etiquette, but also flat out rude. There is something about the internet, social networking and chat rooms that has given people the impression that they no longer have to be professional in emails.

I was recently passed a client from my sales team to launch a new account. As usual, I contacted the person about setting up an initial call. I gave an explanation of services and offered a number of times I would be available to meet, within two days. This person, whom I had never met or even spoken to, responded with the following: "The sooner the better. Talk soon."

And that was all. To me, this kind of communication is just not acceptable. Just because email is fast and easy, does not mean you should not treat it as you would any other professional correspondence. Please, people, use complete sentences. Be mindful of your audience. And for God's sake, use appropriate punctuation.

In a related post on my corporate blog, I discussed a few other points of email etiquette that may be of interest.

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