Category Archives: Marketing Tips

10 trends for 2013 – consumer preferences and insights for marketers

As marketers, it’s important to keep our fingers on the pulse of emerging trends.

The advertising agency J. Walter Thompson — now branding itself as the marketing communications agency, “JWT” — tracks and analyzes global consumer trends.  For the past seven years, they’ve been compiling an annual forecast of trends that makes for fascinating reading.  Here is a quick overview


JWT Intelligence publishes a blog that has many other insights and trend reports, including this on food trends:



December Content Marketing Ideas

Saturday, December 1: Have you organized your December editorial calendar?  The 12th month of the year is a fantastic time to connect with your clients and engage with your followers.

Sunday, December 2: The weekend is primetime for Facebook Page updates.  Upload your seasonal Facebook Page timeline cover today.  Try a different look each week!  Holiday versions of corporate logos are fun, too.  Ask Fletcher Prince to design these assets for you.

Monday, December 3:  Time to mail holiday cards to clients and supporters.  If you are having a special holiday invent, mail invitations now, too.  Fletcher Prince can design your company holiday cards for you.

Tuesday, December 4: Today is National Cookie Day.  Can you create a cookie with your logo?  Try it — and post the photo!

At 5 p.m., the Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit by Speaker of the House John Boehner.  Follow @USCapitol on Twitter.

Thursday, December 6: President Obama and the First Lady light the National Christmas Tree today at 5 p.m.

Friday, December 7: Inspired by all these Washington, DC Christmas trees?  Have a tree decorating party in your office today!

Saturday, December 8: Wish your followers a Happy Hanukkah!  Tonight, Hanukkah begins and is celebrated through December 16.

Sunday, December 9: The lighting of the National Menorah takes place tonight in Washington, DC.

Monday, December 10: What does your company do for good in the community?  Publicize a story about your community involvement or support of a local nonprofit organization via your blog, or even an online press release.  Send a short note and photos to your local newspaper.  Fletcher Prince can help you with public relations efforts.

If you haven’t yet started a company goodwill effort, the holiday season is a good time to start!  Consider a food drive in your office to benefit SOME (So Others Might Eat).  You can follow them on Twitter @SOME_DC

Wednesday, December 12: Today is National Poinsettia Day.  Why not gift your clients with pointsettias to show your appreciation?  Or offer them to followers as an online give-away.

Saturday, December 15: People will be tweeting about Santarchy today!  Join in the fun by posting photos of your employees in Santa hats.

Monday, December 17:  Today is a good day to upload your company’s previously recorded holiday greeting video to YouTube, and send it to clients and customers via email to your permission-based contact list.  Post it on your Facebook Page, Pinterest account, Twitter profile, and Google+ account to wish your supporters happy holidays.  Fletcher Prince can record your holiday video.

Monday, December 24: Today is Christmas Eve.  The North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks his progress each year.  Follow on Twitter through @NoradSanta.

Tuesday, December 25Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 27: Time to look back at the old year as you get ready to ring in the new! Discuss with your staff what marketing tactics worked well and what should be continued in 2013.  What were your most popular blog posts?  Which of your videos got the most views?  Talk to Fletcher Prince about developing an actionable marketing plan for 2013.

Friday, December 28:  After Christmas is a great time to blog your company annual report.  Chronicle the achievements of the past year.

Sunday, December 30:  Most people are in New Year’s resolutions mode.  Ask your Facebook Page followers about their resolutions for the new year, throwing in your industry-specific suggestions.

Monday, December 31: Today is New Year’s Eve.  Be sure to wish your clients and supporters a Happy New Year, and offer them plenty of helpful suggestions for success in 2013.  This is also a good time for brave thought-leaders to make their industry 2013 predictions.

Congratulations to all of you for a successful year, and thanks for reading our blog posts and supporting Fletcher Prince.  Happy New Year!

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Support Nonprofit Sunday at area museum gift shops, historic sites, and parks

Wait, you haven’t heard of Nonprofit Sunday? I’m sure you’ve heard of Black Friday…and Small Business Saturday…and Cyber Monday! Are you telling me you haven’t yet heard of Nonprofit Sunday?

Well, maybe that’s because I just made it up.

It’s a natural extension of the theme, though, on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Think about it. Where can you find the most unique, high quality gifts, at very good prices, in historic or aesthetically beautiful settings, and know that the money you spend is going for a good cause? At our area museums, national parks, and historic sites, of course!

Here are two nonprofit sites where you can find amazing gifts at wonderful prices — and all the proceeds go to further historic preservation and education.

The Gate House Gift Shop at Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park

6310 Georgeown Pike, McLean, VA 22101 (703) 442-5577 Hours: Wed – Sun 10 am – 5 pm

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park is a National Park and a true local treasure. All of the proceeds from sales in the shop fund quality educational programs. Shopping in the beautifully decorated Gate House Gift Shop is a real holiday experience.

Among the many terrific gifts, you will find a selection of new and antique books, farm-produced honey and preserves, exquisite soaps and bath items from France, Scandinavia, and around the world, beautiful jewelry, vintage linens in immaculate condition, wonderful children’s toys, crafts and games that don’t need batteries, a selection of unique boxes, compasses, and other items that would appeal to the man or boy in your life, as well as Christmas ornaments.

Don’t miss the special Book Sale on Saturday, December 1.

The Freeman Store and Museum

131 Church Street NE, Vienna, VA 22180 (703) 938-5187 Hours: Wed – Sun 12 Noon to 4 p.m.

This ante-bellum historic site is maintained by the Historic Society of Vienna. Shopping in the store feels like you are stepping back in time. The store sells a number of historically inspired gifts, including cast iron penny banks, as well as a wide assortment of “Made in Virginia” items, such as Graves Mountain preserves and jellies, soaps, afghans, pillows, candles, prints, and cards. You will also find a terrific variety of quality toys, puzzles, books, and candies.

On Monday, November 26, the Freeman Store will be open for additional hours for the Church Street Holiday Stroll and tree lighting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Area choral groups will perform and Santa will visit at 6:15 p.m. Santa visits the Freeman Store on Sunday, December 2 and Saturday, December 8 from 1 pm to 3 pm.

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Small Business Saturday finds in Falls Church

A couple of years ago, American Express created the promotion “Small Business Saturday” as a way to encourage consumers to frequent independently owned small businesses during the busiest holiday shopping weekend of the year.

Supporting local businesses helps you keep your community economically healthy, and sometimes you can find unique items.

This is especially true in Fletcher Prince’s diverse community in Falls Church, VA!  As we encourage you to support small businesses this weekend, check out some of our favorite small business retailers.

The holidays include lots of cooking and sweets.  Those are two good reasons to visit Aphrodite Greek Imports 5886 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church.  Among the many Greek specialty items, Aphrodite sells bulk cooking and baking spices at terrific prices, plus delicious pistachio nougat candy (similar to Torrone). A generous bag of this individually wrapped candy is about $2.50; plenty to include in stockings.  You’ll also find Turkish coffee, dried fruit and nuts, olives, an assortment of feta cheeses, phyllo pastries, delicious breads, and more.

From there, head to German Gourmet on 5838 Columbia Pike in Falls Church.  This German specialty shop sells a delightful number of must-haves for Christmas, including Advent calendars, nutcrackers, chocolates, gummy-everything, Stollen, and Lebkuchen.  The candy would be beautiful in a stocking.  If they offer it, buy the Bratwurst lunch (with Bavarian potato salad and red cabbage).  You will also find a wide variety of sausages, meats, cheeses, wine and beer.

If you’re looking for quality toys this holiday, skip the big retail chains and visit Doodlehopper 4 Kids, 228 West Broad Street (Rt. 7/Leesburg Pike), instead.  This toy store has a fabulous selection of toys, stocking stuffers, and books for children of all ages.

For antique items, including nostalgic toys, collectibles, barware, dishes, souvenirs, and Christmas ornaments, browse through the Falls Church Antique Annex, located at 250 West Broad St. (Rt. 7/Leesburg Pike), Falls Church.  The store features offerings from 20 vendors and the prices are reasonable.

The origins of Black Friday and a tale of holiday marketing

Children waiting for the Thalhimers Christmas Parade.  Photo by Bill Lane (Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center)

Reading the Examiner yesterday, I discovered some interesting facts about the origins of Black Friday.

Back in the day, department stores used to lure parents in for shopping the day after Thanksgiving by having downtown Christmas parades.  They hoped the parents who brought their children to see the parade would decide to go shopping in the stores afterwards.

But the combination of street closures and influx of cars caused such traffic problems, the local police started calling this day “Black Friday.”  And the name stuck.

Now retailers call it “Black Friday” because this is usually the weekend they begin turning a profit — or move into the “black.”  Retailers bring in an average of 40% of their revenues between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When my sister and I were young children, we got to ride the toy train in the Thalhimers Toy Parade because my mom worked in the special events office for the Richmond, VA department store and helped plan the Christmas parade (see video below).

She was also the first “Snow Bear.”  I still remember wondering where my mom was in that big suit as she handed out lollipops to children in the department store.  Here’s a nostalgic video peek at Snow Bear.

And here is my mom’s recollection of what it was like to work for one of the city’s largest department stores during the holidays, and be the first “Snow Bear.”


November Engagement and Marketing Opportunities

Mark these events in your marketing calendar this month…

Friday, November 2: Digital Capital Week features free presentations now through November 9.  Follow @DCWEEK on Twitter and use hashtag #dcweek.

Sunday, November 4: Remind your followers that daylight savings time ends today; set clocks back one hour and check your smoke detectors.

Monday, November 5:  Time to start planning for the holidays!  Contact Fletcher Prince before Thanksgiving to design your company’s holiday card, and to schedule production of your holiday greeting video.

Tuesday, November 6: Today is Election Day!  Who will be our President?  Tie news developments into the conversation of the day.  May the best candidate win!

Friday, November 9: Foto Week DC kicks off today and runs through November 19.  Check out the seminars and exhibitions that will be offered around town this week.   Follow @FotoWeekDC on Twitter and use hashtag #fotoweekdc.

Sunday, November 11: Happy Birthday to Fletcher Prince client Mary-Jane Atwater of Atwater Communications!

Monday, November 12: It’s Veteran’s Day, and a Federal  holiday, so people will be online in increased numbers during business hours.  Say thank you with a military discount or a freebie to area vets.

Tuesday, November 13: Best wishes for a blessed and happy Diwali!

Thursday, November 15: The Washington PR Woman of the Year Award Luncheon takes place today.  The three honorees are all amazing women of accomplishment.  If this is an audience you want to reach, the sponsorship deal offered by Washington Women in Public Relations is one of the best marketing offers available from a local communications organization.  Follow @WWPR on Twitter and use hashtag #WOY12.

Monday, November 19: Happy Birthday to Fletcher Prince buddy Sabrina Kidwai!

In the season of Thanksgiving, tell your customers and clients how thankful you are for their support.  Ask Fletcher Prince to help you record a Thanksgiving video message and email it to your permission-based list.  Collect donations at your place of business for area food banks.

Wednesday, November 21: Today is World Hello Day.  The idea is you are supposed to say hello to ten people today and spread the idea of world peace.  Sounds good to me!

Thursday, November 22: Happy Thanksgiving!  Suspend your marketing messages online and wish your supporters a happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 23: Today is Black Friday, a huge volume shopping day.  Create special offers and promotions for your Facebook Page and Twitter followers.

At 7 pm, visit Old Town Alexandria, Virginia for the annual Tree Lighting in Market Square on King Street.  There will be free seasonal entertainment, too.

Saturday, November 24: Today is Small Business Saturday, a day set aside for consumers to frequent small businesses in their holiday shopping.

Monday, November 26: Today is “Cyber Monday” known for increased online sales and e-commerce.  Make sure your e-commerce websites can handle the online traffic today and dedicate a staff person to staffing your Facebook Page and Twitter account all day long for complaints or issues. Use the hashtag #CyberMonday.

Tuesday, November 27:  Happy Birthday to Fletcher Prince buddy Ann Bevans-Selig!

The latest social media statistics

A national survey of 1,005 adults by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in August 2012 found that

  • 66% use Facebook
  • 20% use LinkedIn
  • 16% use Twitter
  • 12% use Pinterest
  • 12% use Instagram
  • 5% use Tumblr

Read the results here

$10B PR industry is thriving, according to the Holmes Report

The Holmes Report has released its ranking of the top 250 public relations firms, worldwide, in order of fee income.  Here are some findings from the report.

Edelman, Weber-Shandwick and Fleishman Hillard are the top three public relations firms in the world.  All three are based in the U.S.  Edelman has more than 4,000 employees!

Nearly half of the firms on the list (45%) enjoyed double digit percentage growth in fees from 2010 to 2011.  Only 8% posted losses, and most were minor.  Five firms had triple digit percentage growth.  The PR firm with the greatest growth was Fortune PR in Indonesia with 314% growth.

Here’s what some DC-area headquartered PR firms raked in (ranking in parentheses)

  • APCO Worldwide (16)  $120,701,000
  • Levick Strategic Communications (99) $12,459,523
  • Widmeyer (118) $10,600,000
  • Spectrum Science (172) $5,800,000
  • Gibraltar Communications (182) $4,918,650

Authenticity marketing and how it can work for your brand

I have been thinking lately about how brands are using social media and advertising appeals that revolve around how authentic, true, and personal they are.

As we s-l-o-w-l-y recover from the economic recession, consumers are definitely less trustful of individuals and institutions, such as universities, banks, and political leaders.

With scandals, crises, and ever increasing amounts of counterfeit products on the market, you can’t blame people for being wary.

The Edelman Trust Barometer measures people’s level of trust in business, government, and other institutions.  2012 saw sharp drops in trust.  The credibility of CEOs fell 12 points.

On the other hand, people thought the information they discovered in search engine results and found in traditional media, such as newspapers, was the most trustworthy information of all.

I see growing consumer preferences for authenticity played out in all kinds of ways.  To name a few,

  • The trend of featuring  local, fresh ingredients on restaurant menus.
  • The broadcast predominance of reality television and news programs.
  • The tremendous popularity of social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest.

Even Oprah decided to go natural in her hairstyle and show her “real” hair on the cover of her September 2012 issue of her magazine, and the move made news and drew positive Facebook comments from her fans.

Clearly, people are drawn to brands they perceive as real and authentic.  So, how you can you deliver the real while communicating the key messages associated with your brand?

Here are my suggestions:

  • Create content that will be found in search engines.  So, you may want to scale back your efforts on Twitter and Facebook updates, and devote more resources to producing content that will be discovered in organic search engine results: blog posts, website pages, YouTube videos, and digital images.
  • Use real stories and examples in your advertising.
  • Emphasize testimonials on your website and marketing materials.  Use photos to put faces to your testimonials.
  • Tell your story online with YouTube and blog posts, which come across as most authentic.  Feature (brief) videos with executives and staff members.  Demonstrate your products and services on YouTube.  Showcase your expertise (but in a visual way).
  • Take photos and share them frequently: on your website, on your blog, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.

All of these tactics depend on one premise, however: that your business or organization is scrupulous in its operation and practices, as these methods will heighten your visibility.

Watch this Forbes  video that demonstrates how an executive used the attribute of authenticity to build trust in his brand’s products.

How have you enhanced the authenticity of brand in your public relations and marketing efforts?

Market it like Mae West

“It’s not what I do, but the way I do it. It’s not what I say, but the way I say it.”  — Mae West

Mae West knew how to use what she had to maximum advantage

Let’s talk about some Mae West marketing :)  When you compare Mae West with any other person, they have the same basic elements in common, more or less.

But Mae West became a star because she understood how people consumed those assets, and she knew how to play them up to her best advantage.  She made minor adjustments that paid off tremendous dividends.  That’s what made her a star.

Think about the companies and organizations that attract attention.  They may have the same assets as others.  But the difference is: they know how to work it.  And that pays off for them.

Everyday, I see organizations and companies with great assets: blogs, videos, websites, advertisements.  And they have often invested significant resources in producing them.  But they miss out on communications opportunities, because they may not fully understand how these assets are consumed, or how to make them more searchable.  Or, they have failed to brand them.

At Fletcher Prince, we help businesses, associations, and nonprofits start from scratch with website projects, email marketing campaigns, and social media endeavors.  But we also enjoy helping clients better understand how to take what they have and work it!

Starting with an audit of your resources — or looking at just one element, such as your YouTube Channel or Facebook Page — we can tell you how to make that communications vehicle work harder for you — with adjustments in branding, optimization, and organization.  Makeover services, if you will.

If you already have a social media program, or other communications program in place, talk to us about how we can help you improve it.

As Mae West would say, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”


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