Is Twitter’s Messaging Enough For Wall Street?

ALT="Twitter Wordle"Twitter, my former-fave social media app, is suffering from low mojo amongst Wall Street analysts. Since its IPO one year ago (November 2013), the honeymoon is over and tough questions are more the norm.

Twitter has had a recent spate of lackluster messaging being disseminated via tweets and blog posts versus the accustomed 1:1 analyst interview.

Message Mapping By Soulati

Perhaps Twitter should’ve engaged Soulati Media for a message mapping exercise? Hey, Twitter, it’s not too late to give me a shout!

That’s my shameless plug, and why not? Don’t forget to see my infographic on message mapping here!

Back to Twitter

Upon review of The New York Times Nov. 13, 2014, “Twitter Speaks Up With Growth Strategy Intended to Soothe Wall Street,” it seemed Twitter’s dog and pony for financial analysts had the right messages. What also seemed to be the problem was the reception of those messages.

Revenue is weak; plans to raise revenue are average; users aren’t visiting as much as prior; there is management turmoil; the future looks bleak for the company (according to the story); and, new features aren’t being launched fast enough.

In my view, Twitter really messed up by not communicating in the last 12 months about its plans to shore up the publicly traded company and keep share price growing to investor satisfaction.

Seems to be Twitter’s problem may be its messaging and its messaging delivery; that’s called public relations. When you open the doors as a public company and invite all kinds of scrutiny, investor relations is critical. [Read more…]

Confused Messages Driving Catch-22 Brand Marketing

ALT="Pink  Campbells Soup Cans, Soulati"The headlines in national newspapers and trade ‘zines are a mixed bag of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Consumers are taking the biggest hit amidst the confused clutter of brands’ messages.

Let’s take a look at several finger-in-your-eye examples and see if you agree:

Price Drop Tests Oil Drillers, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
In this front-page story, you already know the gist. If you’re like me, you’re likely ticked off about it, too. Consumers have not even realized the benefit of one week of under $3/per gallon of gasoline and the analysts that cover the oil industry are bitching. If oil being fracked in Bakken sells for less than $84/barrel, then fracking is uneconomical. What does that mean for consumers? Another squeeze in oil supplies due to the cease in fracking, the loss of jobs and a price increase.

It’s that supply and demand thing, and the consumer conundrum remains for marketers — do we continue to pinch the customer and force higher prices so we make our margins and keep stakeholders happy, or do we risk losing market share and influencing a nose dive in local economies dependent on the jobs created from oil exploration? The media love to report on oil companies emotions

Pay TV’s New Worry, “Shaving The Cord,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
Do you subscribe to a television provider where the most favorite and in-demand channels cost the most money? Is your bill for satellite or cable television in the hundreds of dollars monthly? YES! Consumers are looking elsewhere for entertainment to try to cut frivolous expenditures. and the pay-TV companies are none too happy. Upon further examination, consumers are not totally ditching pay TV, they are shaving dollars off the monthly fee and leaving the big channels.

What’s the impact? No surprise, it’s the brand marketers seeking the subscriber base to feed us advertisements on CNN, USA Network and ESPN. If the subscribers aren’t there, ad dollars disappear and BAM! pay TV just got pricier as there’s no one left to subsidize programming. And, who’s responsible for the story behind this headline? A research firm probably dueling as an industry analyst seeking buyers for reports like this.

Smile! Marketers Are Mining Selfies! Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
Ahh, the ubiquitous selfie soon to grace a Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook near you. And, if that selfie is a smiler complemented by a brand logo, then look out consumer! You’ll soon get more advertising messages from the brand that bought the image catching you in the happy moment.

Guess how? [Read more…]

Mobile Marketing And The Ubiquitous QR Code

03B33818It’s everywhere, right? The small, black, squiggly, nonsensical square that adorns objects all over, and it’s called a QR code. A few years back, these were all the rage; a trend that made first-mover marketers excited.

Today? Not so much, based on this personal mobile marketing story that happened this weekend.

I’m having shower woes; the master shower leaks, and I’m relegated to the extra basement shower which needs some TLC. At Lowes Saturday morning, I spied a really attractive end cap featuring four designs of Oxygenics shower heads.

The one I wanted had a QR code that when scanned promised:

1. See the Force (sic) spray settings in action
2. View a quick install video
3. And much more

Because the end cap wasn’t digital (the company should use Coloredge) and I couldn’t see a video in the display, I pointedly got out my QR code reader on my iPhone to immediately scan to help me make a purchase. [Read more…]

Message Mapping: 40 Reasons Why #Infographic

ALT="Message Mapping Book, Jayme Soulati,"When you hear the words, Message Mapping, what comes to mind? In my experience with executives about positioning to external audiences, messaging and the map oriented to a suite of approved messages, is not at the forefront of strategic thinking.

In my new infographic right here, I provide “40 Reasons Why You Need Message Mapping.”  See if any resonate, and then perhaps you’ll share on your blog and social channels! [Read more…]

Message Mapping The Philip Morris E-Cigarette

ALT="ecigarette"Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 5.4 million people a year worldwide, a figure that’s risen 30 percent over the last 20 years, according to Forbes, “The Future of Smoking Lies Somewhere in Here,” June 16, 2014.

Then why is Philip Morris International (PMI), the subject of the story, interested in developing a new next-gen cancer stick with all the perks and pizazz of nicotine for the addicted?

The answer is simple. Cigarettes are a lucrative business for the global giant, and in spite of the intense taxation on cigarettes the world over, PMI paid $48.8 billion of $80 billion in revenue to the tax man in 2013, smokers are eager to adopt a new, “healthier” alternative to cancer-breathing smoke sticks.

To give you more of a sense of how widespread smoking remains, 6 trillion cigarettes are sold globally each year and “Serbia and Eastern Europe nations out smoke the competition despite having tax rates over 50 percent,” according to Forbes.

PMI is spending $650 million on research to develop an electronic cigarette (and various prototypes) with a battery heater in black that looks like an old-fashioned cigarette holder. Tobacco is heated within a paper cartridge with a filter just below the burning point. The smoker gets the nicotine and flavors with “fewer harmful combustion by-products like benzene and tar.”

The Philip Morris Quandary

This Forbes story grabs you from the first paragraph. How many nonsmokers gag when confronted with the offensive exhalations from peers who smoke? And, how many smokers secretly wish there was an alternative to their bad habit and the opportunity to be welcome in public?

That puts Philip Morris International (and its industry peers) in a particularly challenging global position. Does it continue to output cancer-causing smokes to the tune of 6 trillion annually, or does it do the right thing to try to find a healthier alternative?

PMI is well on its way to the latter; however, hold your applause. In the last 10 years, 540 million people have died from cigarette smoking (do the math from the first sentence).

Still, it’s a intriguing public relations challenge with high levels of complexity. Let’s see how a PR team would craft a message map for Philip Morris and its new e-cigarette. I don’t work for any company associated with cigarettes; however, this is the recommended approach to a message mapping challenge for the global behemoth.

ALT="Message Mapping book by Soulati" E-Cigarette Message Map for Philip Morris

The first step in developing a message map for PMI about its new smokeless cigarette is to look at the categories required (there may be others):

  • Research
  • Product
  • Investment/Earnings
  • Consumers
  • Competition
  • Health
  • Industry

What we’re going to do is work backward from what’s been published in Forbes to map the messages within each of these categories. As I was reading the article, I circled the relevant facts that were obviously obtained from PMI and other industry sources and competitive data.

While the published article does not match the message map PMI would create for its e-cigarette, it’s pretty darn close. You’ll get a solid sense of why message maps are important for your own business, product or service.

What I’m doing below then, is to highlight the themes and the associated “messages” from the published article in Forbes about Philip Morris. All of these statements are taken directly from Forbes; the attribution and wording are exact and credited to Forbes. For the sake of length, I’ll only include a few in each category. Ready?

Research

  • Studies in various countries show that e-cigs have close to 100% consumer recognition among smokers and 20% to 50% have tried them at least once–but less than 10% use them regularly.
  • Filters, says Calantzopoulos, simply can’t remove the dangerous by-products of burning tobacco that cause lung cancer emphysema and heart disease.
  • PMI is conducting tests in Petri dishes and on human cells using the cutting-edge technique known as systems biology to try to assess how the new devices affect known pathways to cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

The Product

  • The first new model is an electronic device that looks like an old-fashioned cigarette holder, which heats tobacco to just below the burning point to release the nicotine and flavor of tobacco with fewer harmful combustion by-products like benzene and tar.
  • Consumers will try a thin black device that holds a paper tube, while a software-controlled, rechargeable heating element raises the temperature to almost 400 degrees, creating a vapor from the tobacco to release nicotine and flavors. The smoker exhales vapor that quickly dissipates in the air.
  • In 2002, PMI gave up on developing a safer version of the combustible cigarette.

Investment/Earnings

  • Six trillion cigarettes are sold globally each year; if PMI’s tobacco heater attracts even a 5% share, that would boost profits, already a hefty $8.6 billion, by more than $1 billion a year.
  • PMI has invested$650 million with the current expenditure ramping up past $200 million annually to try to help the world’s smokers.
  • Of PMI’s $80 billion in revenue last year, $48.8 billion went to taxing authorities.
  • PMI has doubled earnings every 10 years since Andre Calantzopoulos, CEO, joined the firm in 1985, and investors have earned 122% since the spinoff in 2008, compared with 67% for the S&P 500 index.

Consumers

  • PMI is betting that smokers prefer the taste of real tobacco.
  • PMI is trying to prove to regulators that its great new product won’t actually attract new customers.
  • Consumers buy 6 trillion cigarettes worldwide each year.
  • Serbia and Eastern European nations outsmoke the competition despite having cigarette tax rates over 50%.

Competition

  • Lorillard is all-in on e-cigarettes, having purchased Blu, now one of the largest U.S. brands, for $135 million in 2012.
  • Altria, PMI’s former U.S. parent, is test-marketing MarkTen e-cigs.
  • Reynolds American introduced Premier in 1988 but withdrew it months later after the American Medical Association urged the FDA to ban it. Reynolds tried again with Eclipse and was sued by the Vermont attorney general.

Health

  • “These products can bring the biggest single benefit in a short period of time, in terms of public health,” said Andre Calantzopoulos, PMI CEO.
  • Cigarettes smoking kills an estimated 5.4 million people a year worldwide, a figure that’s risen 30% over the past 20 years.
  • If PMI proves successful, the new products will surely save the lives of tens of thousands of their customers. But they could also make smoking less scary to those who don’t smoke, creating new nicotine addicts.
  • If the product is 80% safer and used by the 20% of U.S. adults who smoke, that’s a public health win.

Industry

  • The tobacco analyst at Wells Fargo believes consumption of e-cigs and other delivery devices deemed safer could eclipse conventional cigarettes by 2030.
  • Past president of the American Lung Association supports e-cigarettes as a way to wean smokers off their favorite smokes.
  • Anti-tobacco activist with University of California thinks the FDA should block new tobacco products until cigarette manufacturers remove traditional cigs from the market.
  • American Lung Association says,”The most heavily marketed brands by the major tobacco companies are the most heavily used ones by kids.”

The Message Map

  • I can only imagine Philip Morris International has about two dozen message maps for the categories and business units it serves.
  • In your company ensure you have one! Get the first corporate map done to help fuel your communications strategy. Not only does a message map bring clarity for the entire leadership and marketing teams, it forms the basis of factual storytelling, just like the exercise above.
  • As you grow and announce new initiatives, a message map should be the first tool developed to help map out strategy and message from the outside-in.

About the Author

This article originally appeared on Soulati.com, “Soulati-‘TUDE!” by Jayme Soulati, a message mapping master and public relations marketer.

Tips For #ReturnOnOptimism

ALT="Jayme Soulati, Mini Cooper"In the face of adversity, there is only optimism. In a survey YOU can take by Xerox called #ReturnOnOptimism, it helps you find your return on optimism score so you can work on finding and feeling optimistic in spite of world affairs.

This sponsored post is really intriguing because optimism is a trend right now. Have you noticed that everywhere you read, another story is being written on the topic? What Xerox has done is create a website, with a neat and graphically pleasing quiz to score your optimistic emotions. I’m generally optimistic; however, everyone needs a push now and again. (I share personal tips on how I get through negative vibes below.) Once you find your score, you can stick around the site and find tips and resources the experts suggest on bettering your emotional quotient. It’s pretty cool.

The differentiator for this story, though, is that you can take the quiz to see just how optimistic you are at work. Maybe you need to do a bit of work on boosting the happy vibes?

Read on and see what I did to get through a very trying time… [Read more…]

Celebrating Digital Birthdays With Milaap #Milaap4Hope

ALT="Screen Shot, Milaap"Have you ever participated in a microloan program? It’s the coolest way to give back, pay it forward, and help boost the businesses of micro farmers and business people in all corners of the globe. I for one have been a longstanding Kiva.org supporter and have gifted loans to friends who in turn loan money to the folks in South America, Asia, the Balkans, Africa, India, and many other regions. That’s why I was glad to learn about Milaap and how it is celebrating its fourth birthday TODAY on an impressive global scale. Having just learned about Milaap myself, this infographic below may be the best and most efficient method to inform you. Here’s the scoop from the news release recently issued: On June 16, 2014, its fourth anniversary, Milaap invites change agents from around the world to join in a global, round-the-clock online conversation on sustainable giving using #Milaap4Hope. This unique 24-hour event will be hosted across three countries and a range of social networks, beginning at 6:30 am IST on June 16, 2014 (9 pm EDT on June 15, 2014). To learn more about and participate in this unique online event, please visit http://blog.milaap.org/digitalbirthday. [Read more…]

Should Bloggers Write With Key Words?

ALT="confidence thermometer, Jayme Soulati"Back in the day on Spin Sucks, I wrote a piece about authenticity and my fear that analytics would rule the word (that was “world” but that works better!). Alas, my fears are now reality.

Bloggers who want to get anywhere online need to write with key words handy. It’s what my colleague and digital marketing partner Jon Buscall of Jontus Media dictates every day.

In fact, he’s been lecturing me that I don’t blog with key words enough. My writings are what strike me. I’m writing for my peers. Indeed. [Read more…]

Tap Small Business Resources To Improve Success

ALT="Work In Progress, Jayme Soulati"A long time ago, I had an idea for a small-business website. It would be oriented to the backbone of the business, the inside. Much like a blog’s backend, a business has one, too. It’s the toughest thing about being an entrepreneur; yet, it’s the most important.

By now, I’ve been out of the actual formal workforce longer than I’ve been employed inside a company. That trend is happening more and more with the onset of more small businesses vying for self-employment and successful companies. How you ensure that success depends greatly on the resources you tap for the how-to knowledge you need.

I’m going to share a few of those resources in this sponsored post for Cox Blue. It has published a bevy of small-business essentials to keep your SMB growing. I hadn’t known how in-depth Cox Media Group was with its helpfulness for SMBs until I started perusing its site and blog.  Its website functions much like a walking encyclopedia of business resources. You can access any of those right here at Cox Blue. [Read more…]

Upscale Toto Toilets Seeking Comfort-Loving American Consumers

ALT: "Toilet-Jayme-Soulati"

How about a multitasking toilet, Toto?

Ever remodeled a bathroom and had to select from the wide varieties of commodes? I have done several bathrooms in my time, and ensuring you get a workhorse for less money and fewest gallons per flush is daunting, especially when you look at the price tag.

I looked at the Japanese Toto toilets advertised regularly in the magazines I read; however, the cost for a really neat heated seat with little water usage was nearly the price of the bathroom remodel itself. Instead, I settled for a custom-color Kohler with a self-closing lid so it doesn’t slam.

Toto Toilets Are Smart

Toto toilets are so upscale that few Americans have ever used one. Japan is finally ready to take on the American Standard U.S. market with its smart toilets. Apparently, Toto wants to be like Apple. No one knew they needed an iPhone until Apple came along and made phones smart. Same goes for toilets, according to Toto’s chief executive, Mr. Yoshiaki Fujimori.

In a Wall Street Journal story May 27, 2014, Smart Toilets Arrive in U.S., Fujimori said,”Industry presents iPhone–industry presents shower toilet.” [Read more…]