Happy New Year from New York City!
Last week temperatures went from icy cold winds to balmy Spring weather.
Regardless of the temperatures, people from the suburbs and foreign lands packed the city sidewalks. New Yorkers can spot them instantly since they slowly walk in crowds carrying oversized shopping bags filled with holiday treasures.
Table of Contents | Volume 11, Issue 1
By contrast, city dwellers speed through the gaps between people heads down so those in their way move aside. They’re like the rats that scoot from one side of the electrified subway tracks to the other.
Regardless of your perspective on masking, the dense crowds at major shopping magnets like Macy’s in Herald Square force even the mask-adverse among us to cover up to avoid the current illness trifecta.
After his first-holiday family gathering since 2019, one of my friends learned that despite testing negative for COVID using rapid home tests you can still catch and spread the flu that the more effective public testing sites can detect.
As New Year celebrations approached, more vendors appeared along the major sidewalks selling brightly colored 2023 glasses and colorful noisemakers.
While New York City may be one of the priciest places to live in the world, it offers one of the cheapest New Year’s celebrations. You can stand in Times Square to watch the ball drop for free. Unless you have connections, you need to arrive early and wait until the last minutes of the year to see the multifaceted crystal ball slowly glide down into 2023.
Regulated by city zoning rules, buildings facing Times Square must strut eye-catching billboards. I’m sure that for New Year’s Eve when every media company and smartphone-carrying visitors are filming them, the cost of placing an ad on these signs increases.
As a lifelong New Yorker, I spent one New Year’s eve in Times Square. This was before 9/11 so there were fewer restrictions and less police presence. My friends and I arrived late to minimize our time in the cold. So we were back behind what is now the TKTS triangle, near the R subway stop.
Ice-cold, we watched the ball drop then turned around to see the tops of the fireworks in Central Park. I remember people spraying cheap champagne and the overcrowded subway home.
When I worked for Bertelsmann, I used an office with a great view of Times Square. During January, translucent squares of confetti the size of post-it notes continued to float across the tops of the nearby buildings.
These days, my husband and I stay home for New Year’s Eve. He heads over to Whole Foods where there’s still a butcher to buy lamb chops or steaks. Instead of champagne, we usually opt for his signature cosmos.
To watch the Times Square ball fall, we tune into the local cable station, NY1, since they traditionally stop their commentary for 10 minutes before and after the ball drops. This gives the camera operators free rein to choose the best shots. They focus on people dancing and kissing, telling human stories that make the moment memorable.
This year’s studio commentator summarized the last few years well:
- In 2021, everyone was ready to kick 2020 to the curb;
- In 2022, everyone had high hopes for the coming year, and
- 2023 can be a perfectly average year making everyone happy.
Actionable Marketing Lesson
Understand the calendar that your offering, both products and services, follows. This is especially true if your products don’t follow the regular January to December year.
Many companies run on different years depending on when they were started. In my experience, European and Japanese companies end their fiscal years in March. In the US, many retailers run on a February to January year, so that post-Christmas returns can be matched against their inventory prices.
The early Times Square partygoers get highly visual swag in the form of Mad Hatter hats. For the past few years, Planet Fitness has provided these souvenirs.
Beyond supplying these hats, I bet that Planet Fitness pays an additional fee to be the premier supplier. From a marketing perspective, it’s a great investment.
Because the hats promote getting in shape, a top New Year’s Resolution for many.
As a marketer, I know that January 1st is the green light day for the increase in gym and diet program prices. So I scout out the best end-of-year deals and join on December 31st. In terms of exercising, the distance to the gym is an important factor for me. It’s amazing how much an extra few blocks can deflate your motivation.
Actionable Marketing Tips:
- Plan your product and service offering based on the timing of usages, like gym and diet offerings.
- Create pricing and sales to coordinate with this seasonality. This also applies to your content creation and distribution. Don’t create brand-new content, rather spiff up existing content to make it look fresh.
- Offer Get-A-Friend (GAF) promotions to encourage existing customers to bring in new buyers at a lower cost. To entice the existing customer, it helps to offer them something special.
Marketing Lesson of The Week
► Resolutions 2023
For many people, the new year means changing their life for the better. This tradition dates back to the Romans who made promises to their god, Janus. It’s our personal Cinderella moment when we imagine our lives the way we dream it would be.
We make these promises to ourselves thinking that our hopes will pull our actions forward. But alas they don’t. Having tried many diets in my early 20s, I can tell you that it takes more than fitting into one glamorous outfit. It requires small changes over time.
My friend and colleague, Joe Pulizzi, is a big fan of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He believes in a singular focus for each year. This approach is rooted in a conversation between Warren Buffet and Bill Gates who both use the same word, FOCUS.
Covey coined the term “abundant mindset”.
Here’s a summary of his 7 Habits:
- Be Proactive: Choose to be responsible for your actions and the course of your life.
- Begin with the end in mind. Decide what you want to do with your life and what you want to achieve.
- Put first things first. Manage your time based on what’s important for you personally.
- Think win-win. Take a collaborative approach to any situation.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Start by taking the time to truly listen to others before jumping in to get your point across.
- Synergize. Effective teamwork yields better results through collaboration.
- Sharpen the saw. Create a strong balance between your work and lifestyle since you are the most important possession you have. (BTW, President Lincoln believed this as well.)
For your resolutions to work, set yourself up to succeed over time, not just for January. Many surveys reveal disappointing results below 50% for keeping resolutions over time.
At a minimum:
- Select and define your resolution well to accomplish it over time and
- Have a plan to accomplish not only your goal but to make doing so easy.
For another approach, James Clear believes in breaking your resolutions into Atomic Habits. (BTW, his book, Atomic Habits. organizes his thoughts on the topic.)
According to research by Duke University, habits account for 40% of daily activity.
Clear outlines 5 steps to make habits stick rather than forcing yourself to resolution perfection. The great part of Clear’s steps is that you can apply them to your work and everyday routines to help improve your success rate. (Clear-Habit Guide)
- Start with an extremely small habit. Beginning with smaller habits helps overcome inertia and reduces the sense of being overwhelmed. Clear quotes Leo Babauta: “Make it so easy you can’t say no.”
- Increase your habit slowly. Modify your habits in slow increments over time. As a result, your improvement increases at a pace you can maintain and stick to. Clear calls this “The Power of Tiny Gains.”
- Chunk your habits so they take bite-size amounts of time to accomplish. Then do all of the small chunks over the course of each day.
- Get back on track doing your routine when you miss a day. Return to your activity as soon as possible to prevent time from building up without doing your habit.It’s like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break The Chain.” The big difference is that Seinfeld keeps a calendar and marks each action with a big, black X every time he completes it. Take a page from Seinfeld and track your actions on a paper or board so your progress is visible over time.
- Create a sustainable pace. Don’t set an arbitrary date for your resolution success since it’s just a number on a calendar. Instead, build your ability to make the habit part of your daily activity. Clear’s illustration puts this objective in an easy-to-understand context.
- Determine the most important focus for your marketing this year. Then, concentrate on the activities that will help you to achieve this objective. Trying to accomplish multiple objectives splinters your focus and limited willpower. As a result, you don’t accomplish your goals.
► How To Create A Piece Of Annual Content
Consistency helps build brand awareness.
Applied to content marketing, this translates to creating a special piece of content that your business or organization is known for.
Starting as a PR approach to attract attention to little-known Lake Superior State University (LSSU), the late Public Relations Director Rabe released the school’s first tongue-in-cheek “Banished Words List” in 1976.
Its goal was to safeguard against misused, overused and useless English words. Due to its media success, this PR piece is repeated every year.
Based on a list of 1,500 recommendations contributed from all over the world, the “2023 Banished Words List” top 10 items are:
- GOAT (stands for “Greatest Of All Time”.)
- Inflection point
- Quiet quitting (was another runner-up for the 2022 word of the year. It means doing only the bare minimum of work tasks.)
- Gaslighting (was Merriam Webster’s word of 2022. It is “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.”)
- Moving forward
- Does that make sense?
- It is what it is
Actionable Marketing Tips
- Have someone edit your content and other information to ensure that your English (or another language) usage is up-to-date. BTW, Ann Handley joined the word fun with her list of 2023 words versus 2022 words.
- Fill your editorial calendar by creating fun, easy-to-create and repeat content options related to specific holidays and marketing events.
Marketing Reads To Start 2023
This is considered the gold standard for getting organized. (GTD for short.)
April Dunford – Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It
Dunford has achieved marketing stardom by transforming Trout and Ries’s classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, into an actionable plan that every marketer can use regardless of their business type. Read this gem to help your organization to break through the content clutter and thrive.
A detailed explanation of how habits are formed and change our lives.
The Stanford University habit expert shows how to use his breakthrough method for building habits quickly and easily. Tiny Habits helps you to increase your productivity by using positive emotions to make your life happier and healthier.
Based on Clear’s blog and weekly newsletter, this book provides easy-to-follow processes for building useful habits over time. In Clear’s words, “goals are about the results you want to achieve.”
Andy Crestodina – Content Chemistry-6th Edition: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing (A Practical Guide to Digital Marketing Strategy, SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, & Analytics)
Crestodina has created the most practical book on digital marketing according to expert Jay Baer. Crestodina walks you through how to create amazing marketing that continues to build your business over time.
Unlike other marketing authors, Crestodina quietly updates this book with new editions over time. It’s what Ryan Holiday calls a perennial bestseller. BTW, Crestodina practices what he preaches. He and his 50+ team have grown an awarding winning agency based on his teachings.
Ann Handley – Everybody Writes: Your New and Improved Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content 2nd Edition
Want to know how to write so that your audience pays attention and consumes your content? Then Handley’s Second Edition of Everybody Writes is a must-read!
If it was up to me, I’d make this book a must-read for every high school and college student so they learned how to write. Handley’s humor and writing make this textbook in disguise a must-read for everybody as the title states.
Compare the second edition of this book to the first edition to see how a writing smartie like Handley continues to improve her writing! Even better, by reading this book, you can too!
Nancy Harhut – Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses
Harhut’s Using Behavior Science in Marketing is one of the best marketing books of 2022. It condenses the classic underpinnings of marketing, direct marketing and digital marketing. Beyond the basics this book covers, it provides common mistakes to avoid and key takeaways as well as downloadable checklists.
When I was in business school, I thought that my required consumer behavior course was the biggest waste of time, at least until I started practicing marketing. Then I learned that it is the most critical aspect of marketing success.
Attention Marketing practitioners, professors and students–this book should be on your MUST-READ List.
Joe Pulizzi – Content Inc.: Completely Updated and Expanded Second Edition: Start a Content-First Business, Build a Massive Audience and Become Radically Successful (with Little to No Money)
Joe Pulizzi spills the step-by-step beans on how to create and nurture a content-based business to achieve financial success. The Second Edition of this bestselling book Includes the inside scoop on how Pulizzi sold Content Marketing Institute for 8 figures.
David Meerman Scott – The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Content Marketing, Podcasting, Social Media, AI, Live Video, and Newsjacking to Reach Buyers Directly (8th Edition)
Ever since the first edition of this international bestseller appeared, Scott has coined new terms like “newsjacking” and been on event coordinators’ shortlist for speakers. I was fortunate to be in one of those early audiences as press for ClickZ. (In fact, I still have a bound galley for the first edition!)
This marketing classic should be required reading not only for marketers but also for other members of the c-suite so they can understand how marketing adds real value to a business.
Brooke B. Sellas – Conversations That Connect: How to Connect, Converse, and Convert Through Social Media Listening and Social-Led Customer Care
Unlike the other books on this list, this book focuses on teaching social media practitioners, marketers, analysts and management how to use social media to drive customer acquisition and retention through the use of social media listening. It focuses on the one-two punch of content marketing to answer every customer question combined with social customer service.
Additionally, Sellas’s book is a guide for authors who choose to self-publish. Unlike many self-published books, Sellas includes every element of book publishing that many other authors either don’t know about or neglect to add. (Often elements like an index require hiring an outside expert.)
Plan Ahead: Mark Your Calendar
► Digital Book World – January 16-18 in New York City
The annual gathering of the publishing industry returns to New York City after six years.
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