Even though it’s about time to start planning for summer vacations, before you do, consider forecasting your business advertising budget for 2024. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, companies should be spending seven to eight percent of their gross revenue for marketing and advertising. There are different rules that have been thrown around throughout the years, but generally it’s believed spending less than five percent won’t get the results that successful companies earn.

In my years in the industry, I found a lot of the companies that I have worked with spend less than that. Whether that’s a good choice or not, depends on the results they receive. I witnessed a lot of meetings when I was at advertising agencies where my bosses were trying to convince clients to spend more on advertising than they were. The clients would usually find a reason not to increase their budgets, so we’d spend a lot of time as media buyers working on how to get the most out of the budgets we were given.

Let’s take a look at a successful fast food chain, McDonald’s. According to a NY Times article, McDonald’s had revenue of $23 billion in 2021. Online research shows they spent anywhere from $409 million to $459 (statista.com) million on advertising in that same year. So, that’s about two percent of their gross revenue, based on these numbers. Note, however, that sometimes numbers can be inflated on reports. They can still give you a snapshot into what is happening though. Also, according to some, the percentage of advertising expenditure is different across various industries.

The best advice would be to take a look at your business numbers.

•What was your 2022 Gross Revenue?____________

•What was your 2022 Advertising Expenditure?__________

•What was your 2022 Percent of Advertising Expenses against Gross Revenue?____________

Look at a few of the years previous to last years. How did your advertising spending influence sales? Try to find out what your competitors are spending on advertising and what their gross revenue is. What is the average Advertising Expenditure percentage in your industry and market?

Based on these findings, what should your projected advertising expenditure be for 2024 based on your estimated earnings? __________

We can look at the best way to allocate those dollars in a future post.


Happy Memorial Day And Who Joins the Military?

Each year on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is celebrated in America. It is meant as a time to recognize U.S. Military personnel who died serving the country. The day’s beginnings started after the Civil War and became a federal holiday in 1971. Most people consider it the first day of the summer season.  Source: History.com, April 20, 2023

In years past when fashion trends were held to a higher standard than the relaxed atmosphere of today, it also meant storing winter clothes and refreshing closets with summer items, like summer whites. But, don’t mistake Memorial Day with Labor Day when that day marked the official end of wearing white.

What Motivates A Person To Join The Military?

A National Interest article nationalinterest.org dated March 19, 2021, reported on the top five reasons people join the military based on a RAND Corporation survey from 2018. Surveying 81 Army soldiers, they found 46 percent joined for occupational choices, meaning most were concerned about work. It appeared that medics were the ones who found the job to be a calling. Their research showed the top five motivating factors were:

  • Adventure and Travel
  • Benefits
  • Job Stability and Pay
  • Getting Away From Bad Environments
  • Job Training

Summer Fashion

So, is the don’t wear white after Labor Day still a rule in fashion? Pretty much no in the anything goes fashion season we’ve been in. According to an article in community made.com, dated September 1, 2022, celebrities started challenging the rule by wearing white any time of year. Of course, depending on where you live, it might not make sense to walk around the remnants of muddy snow in white sneakers.

Finally, to help you get ready for summer, here is an article from lifetimeorganizing.com that gives you planning ideas on how to get your closet ready for the Summer season. The examples are for a woman’s wardrobe but men can apply the same principles.

Happy Memorial Day!


What is Amazon AWS?

Well, to be honest, I’m still not exactly sure what Amazon AWS is. I understand it is a cloud based product but how does that help marketers? I think it might have ad tracking capabilities, but it seems it may be for more tech savvy people, like IT professionals. I don’t know. That’s why I’ve considered taking their six-hour free training course to find out. If you’re wondering too, here’s a link to their course. 

Link to free course

It seems that the FreeWheel media buyer product for TV and Video planning uses Amazon SageMaker “to predict advertising inventory for digital video and linear TV months in advance for billions of ad-serving records per day.” If you’re a standard marketer or media planner, then, you may not need to know all of this. However, if you like to stay educated, it probably doesn’t hurt to learn.


Who’s Watching What

So with all the online streaming options now available, are you watching what everyone else is viewing online? Are your customers watching these shows too?

Here are the top programs based on the total number of minutes viewed, according to Nielsen streaming content ratings, streamed for the week of April 3, 2023.

Rank Provider Program

1 Netflix The Night Agent

2 Netflix Love is Blind

3 Disney+ The Mandalorian

4 Netflix Beef

5 Netflix Murder Mystery 2

6 Disney+ Bluey

7 HBO Max South Park

8 Netflix Cocomelon

9 Netflix/Paramount NCIS

10 Apple TV+ Ted Lasso


A Better Way To Track Media Viewers

Hopefully, measuring video ad exposure and impressions will be a little more reliable now because Nielsen, the long-time leader in TV and radio ad measurement, is now offering ratings across the way consumers currently view media. They are now able, after some waiting time and red-tape, to show how your ads perform on linear TV (standard live Television commercial breaks), connected TV or CTV (ads played while streaming on connected TV), computer and mobile.

Their most recent offering is called Nielsen One Ads. The system measures media consumption by real people-and is validated. So, hopefully for you and your brands, a lot less guessing on what ads are getting the most attention and are working for you.

Let’s look at this year’s Super Bowl and how it was watched. Standard linear TV, which has been measured by Nielsen for years and that advertisers hold ratings accountability for, had a 61% viewership. Out-of-home (meaning they watched it at a party or bar) was 22%, Smart TV (or CTV connected TV) was used by 8% and Internet-connected devices (or CTV) had a viewership of 7%. Standard TV viewing decreased by 13% from the year before, and Smart TV and Internet-connected devices increased by more than 50%. Out-of-home was flat from the year prior.

So, it seems this measurement system by Nielsen will help advertisers get a better picture of how things look. So how much does all this cost? Well, subscriptions reach into the thousands. For now, you can always ask your media sales rep if they have access to the Nielsen One Ads rating system.


Happy Easter Week

If you ever thought it would be fun to travel to a significant place for Easter, here are some ideas.

If you happen to be in Jerusalem or decide to travel there, they have two “World’s Most Impressive Easter Services” according to an April 15, 2017 mentalfloss.com article. One of them is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is where Jesus was crucified. The other is at the Garden Tomb, considered to be the tomb of Jesus.

Then there’s Lourdes France, known for its healing presence after a young girl named Bernadette reported she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, according to a March 16, 2014 article in express.co.uk. Every day at 8:45 p.m. people march through the grounds with torches. For Easter, they have Mass at Basilica of St Pius X. They offer dips in baths free of charge which are filled with water from the area. 

The same article lists Patmos, Greece as the place most believe St. John had visions of Christ and wrote the book of Revelations. They have Easter events at the Monastery of St. John.

Still more, the express article states that Rome is popular for Easter for their displays of color and events with the Pope leading the procession.

Most likely, however, you are here in the states. The mental floss article lists the Lincoln Memorial Sunrise service in Washington, D.C. as one of the “12 Most Impressive Easter Services.”

The more realistic option is to make a virtual visit to some of the more grand displays. According to a vogue.com article from April 11, 2020, when the pandemic was raging, this was most people’s only option. Depending on your persuasion, you can virtually attend Easter Mass with Pope Francis or tune into Joel Osteen’s megachurch service.

Then again, there’s always your local church where you probably know a few of your neighbors, or if not check out one that interests you. Happy Easter.


Last Day For Easter Effort

Just in case you missed the earlier posts. Today is the deadline for our See’s Candy Campaign effort for Easter. 
It’s a win-win. We’ve set up an online See’s Candy campaign to earn money to purchase candy and baskets for needy kids at Easter. The win for you is by purchasing See’s candy for all your friends and clients–you get the picture–you help us earn dollars for the outreach.

So here goes. Here’s the link. Click here. When you order online the delivery goes directly to you or your friend. Please help by forwarding this blog post to anyone you think might be interested. We have a deadline of today, March 24. A Big Thank You for your support. We hope you will have a wonderful Easter season.


Easter is April 9

So, Easter will be here before you know it and so that you don’t wait until the last minute, here’s an encouragement to order gifts for Easter for your clients and friends and family. We’re working with See’s Candy again this Easter to give kids Easter boxes filled with treats.

It’s a win-win. We’ve set up an online See’s Candy campaign to earn money to purchase candy and boxes for the kids. The win for you is by purchasing See’s candy for all your friends and family, co-workers, bosses, church friends, neighbors–you get the picture–you help us earn dollars for the outreach.

So here goes. Here’s the link. Click here. When you order online the delivery goes directly to you. Please help by forwarding this post to anyone you think might be interested. We have a deadline of March 24. A Big Thank You for your support. We hope you will have a wonderful Easter season.

So why do we like See’s Candy? See’s started in California in 1921 and is still going strong today. Their motto is Quality Without Compromise so they gotta be doing something right.

What is ChatGPT and Why You Should Care, Or Not

With so many emails from media insiders coming into my inbox about ChatGpt, I had to ask myself What is ChatGPT and Why Should I or You Care, Or Not? 

Mostly I’ve been ignoring the articles because, honestly anything that has to do with Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially the Artificial part, makes me cringe. I know I’m risking sounding too old school, but I admit I am old school. It just seems like one more thing that I have to know about in my busy day of just trying to get through the to-do list.

So, if you are sort of wondering what it is, but are too busy just doing your job, I thought I’d do the research for you. That way, the next time you’re at a networking thing you won’t have to pretend to know. And, well, maybe you do already know and I’m being repetitive or taking too long to catch on–but well, like I said, I try to ignore artificial things in general. I’d rather have live plants than fake plants–you get the idea.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica, Britannica.com, ChatGPT is software, “that allows a user to ask it questions using conversational, or natural, language. It was released on November 30, 2022, by the American company OpenAI.” 

According to the reference source, academics, journalists and other people were worried that it would be hard to tell the difference between human writing and ChatGPT writing. The software was launched with an offer for a free account and helps with writing essays and tests. According to Britannica, it is not always accurate and many professors are concerned students will use it as a way to cheat on homework and exams. It appears, according to some articles, that this is already happening.

Online creators are using the software to automatically write emails on Microsoft, Salesforce and TikTok. I guess with all the focus on social media and getting your word out, it would help to cut down on the work involved with creating content. But, I ask, don’t we already have enough content out there and is this just another way to spam our inboxes? 

Like I said, I’m not a big advocate on anything artificial. I’d rather have the genuine article and that includes talking to a real live human being. This might be another step into the Star Wars, Star Trek future some are trying to create, but is this the right or wrong direction? What do you think?

Are you looking for a business credit card? I’ve been using Capital One since pretty much the start of my business. I get rewards points which come in handy at Christmas and other holidays. Check it out here.


Should your business start a frequent shopper loyalty program?

OK, So it’s confession time. How many of you have used a frequent shopper card this past week? Nowadays it’s pretty easy. Just plug in your phone number at the grocery, or while buying another latte you show your app or punch card to get the next one free. Is it worth the trouble to start one for your business?

According to a January 3, 2023 article on explodingtopics.com , the “average American consumer belongs to 16.7 customer loyalty programs.”

It further explains that the rewards plans most used are “credit cards, high-frequency retail, mid-frequency retail, travel and dining.” 

The report mentions the programs used often are because consumers want to “maximize points earnings.” It seems points are “effective in driving customers toward spending on brands,” and people with more money use these rewards cards more. The stated blog post says that 62% of consumers spend more money on their choice places after signing up for a paid loyalty program.

So, it sounds like a good idea to start one.

Further according to a Forbes post “It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.” You probably already see this pattern playing out in your business. So it would make sense to encourage new customers to become repeat customers.

In a Mention Me’s 2021 Customer Advocacy Report, it states that 40% of customers are likely to buy again from brands that reward loyalty.

The businesses that offer rewards for frequent purchases are encouraging customers to repeatedly buy.

Rewards benefits can improve customer retention, and gain loyal customers while building strong relationships with them. They can also increase customer satisfaction, make you stand out from your competitors and build more revenue.

As explained in an Accenture post, customers spend on average about 12% to 18% more when engaged with these programs.

From these articles it sounds like a loyalty points program might be the way to go, but don’t make the reward level too high or difficult to achieve, and start giving rewards right away to encourage visits. A good example of this is a recent campaign with Einstein Bagels for their Shmear Society Rewards program. New loyalty members receive a free bagel and smear just for signing up.

To get started with your new rewards program, you’ll need to spend some time doing research, or hire a person to help you get started. There are many software platforms to consider.

From Fit Small Business the best small business loyalty program software programs are LoyaltyLion, TapMango, Yotpo, Annex Cloud, Zinrelo and Smile.io.

Other websites mention Salesforce Experience Cloud, Kangaroo, Tango Card, Preferred Patron Loyalty, Glue, Jay and FiveStars. Since there are a plethora of platforms, spend time asking some of your business contacts what they use if they have a program in place. 

It appears most big businesses build their own platforms. For example, Starbucks recently launched Starbucks Odyssey in September 2022. In a TechCrunch.com post they say it’s their “first foray into building with web3 technology.”

If you don’t have a lot of time or money to get going on a program, you can always start with a printed punch card. You’ll find a lot of small coffee shops using this type.

The following are some good examples of loyalty programs in place. You could model yours based on ones that are working and recognizable. You might have your own opinions based on your personal preferences so this is not an all inclusive list, just some suggested examples. These were pulled from Businessinsider.com and Emarsys.com

Amazon Rewards Visa card (Free) Sign up and get approved for a credit card to use the Amazon loyalty program. Shoppers get 3% or 5% back on every dollar spent on Amazon and Whole Foods Market.

Barnes & Noble B&N Rewards (Free) You get stamps every time you shop, one stamp for every $10. Ten stamps earns a $5 reward.

Baskin Robbins (Free)Upon sign up members receive a free scoop of ice cream on their birthday. They also send offers and updates.

Bloomingdale’s The Loyalist program (Free) Earn a point for every dollar spent. They offer free shipping every day. They have exclusive offers and you can earn triple points on personal days. If you have a Bloomingdale’s credit card you get triple points. Use points for gift cards.There are extra points for achieving a higher level.

CVS ExtraCare (Free) The program rewards customers with ExtraBucks to pay for their next shopping trip.

Dick’s Sporting Goods (Free) The ScoreCard gives 1 point for every dollar spent. When you reach 300 Points you get a $10 Reward. If you spend more or have a credit card, you go up a tier.

Disney (Various levels of fixed annual fees) Magic Keys is a tiered, card-based loyalty program to encourage repeat visits.

DSW VIP (Free)This is a points based loyalty program that gives members 1 point for every $1 spent, and $5 reward for every $100 spent. You also get $5 off for your birthday, free shipping on every purchase, and more points for donating nearly new shoes to someone in need. They have three tiers with more offers the more is spent.

Ikea Family (Free) They offer free in-store coffee and tea to members, savings on delivery, 5% back on some in-store items, members-only offers, surprise rewards, free workshops and more.

Kohl’s Rewards (Free) Members receive a free birthday gift and 5% rewards on every purchase, every day. Rewards are issued each month.

Lancome Elite Rewards (Free) You earn points for dollars spent and receive a birthday gift. Connecting on social media and giving them information about yourself gives you more points. They have different tiers based on how many points are earned.

Michael Kors KORSVIP (Free) They have a tiered loyalty program where members earn points, free standard shipping, including surprise gifts, private events, and special services. According to some, their gifts are generous. The higher the level, the more you get.

Nordstrom Nordy Club (Free) Earn one point for every dollar spent at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack and TrunkClub. Points can be cashed for store credit. Nordstrom credit card holders earn points two times faster. You also get “Insider Access” to stuff like style workshops, curb side pick-up.

Office Depot Rewards (Free) You get 2% back in rewards, members-only savings, $2 back in recycling and $2 back for reviews.

PetSmart (Free)Members receive points for every $1 spent in store and online, a surprise on the pet’s birthday, plus points are earned for grooming, training, donating to their charity and purchases.

Reebok Unlocked (Free) Gives 15% off on their welcome offer, free shipping, returns and exchanges on all orders, $10 off a purchase on your birthday and exclusive offers.

REI Co-Op program (Pay $30 once and receive membership for a lifetime) They have a no questions asked return policy even without a receipt because purchases are logged through membership. Members get 10% back on purchases, members-only specials, access to the REI community with classes, events and REI Adventures. They also have REI Garage sale events.

Sears Shop Your Way (Free) Members get coupons, 1% cash back in points for every $1 spent and surprise points offers.

Sephora Beauty Insider Program (Free) Earn one point for every dollar spent and you can also earn products and sets. In addition they have access to beauty classes, seasonal promos, and curated sets. They have three credit cards for more exclusive perks.

Starbucks (Free) They suggest using their app to maximize benefits. Every day there are bonus stars to elect to participate in. You get one star for every dollar that can be used to pay for items and sometimes you get free refills and other perks.

Target REDcard (Free to sign up) It takes a little extra time to set up but worth it if you shop here often. You sign up for their credit, debit or Reloadable card to save 5% on every purchase. You get free shipping for online orders and an additional 30 days for returns with no annual fee.

Tarte Cosmetics Tarte Rewards (Free) Members earn ten points for every $1 spent and can redeem points for exclusive offers.

Williams Sonoma The Key (Free) Members get 2% back in rewards, members-only offers, and early access. The membership is good for all of their brands including 3% back on Pottery Barn, West Elm and Mark and Graham.

Walgreens MyWalgreens (Free) Loyalists get automatic sale prices, 1% cash rewards per $1 spent, 5% earning on Walgreens branded products, only for you deals and more. If you sign up for their credit card you get even more rewards.

Ulta’s Ultimate Rewards (Free) Earn a point for each dollar spent, two points with the Ultimate Rewards Credit Card. Some select products earn even more awards. There’s also a gift on the member’s birthday and more points earnings in birthday month. Higher spending levels unlock more rewards.

Keep looking at how other marketers are doing things right here. More research. Get started today to earn more loyalty with your customers.