Rapid cultural shifts: Three Major Macro Trends

The New World Marketplace

By Farnaz Wallace

 Do you feel that?  It’s the ground moving beneath you.

 A rapid cultural shift has occurred over the last decade, but it’s not being addressed by businesses and leaders. For better or worse, the world of Mad Men is dead. In its place lives a world pulsing with a culturally diverse makeup of social models, relationships, businesses, and leaders.

Consider the following projections:

China will soon be the number one English speaking country in the world
The majority of the United States will soon be non-white
For every two men graduating from college, three women graduate, with better GPAs
85% of all major buying decision are made by women
The videogame industry is now bigger than professional baseball

Now more than ever, leaders and companies must find ways to stay relevant in a world that is fundamentally different from the one being taught in textbooks.

Simply put, The New World Marketplace is where people and technology come together to define a “we” that is fundamentally different in terms of race, ethnicity, cultures, archetypes, genders roles and youth mindset.  It’s a place where rapid cultural shifts are creating long-term evolutionary changes.

It is not so much that the world is changing.  The world is always changing, and trends are always a part of the inevitable evolution of business.  It is the complexity and pace of …


Attracting Non-Solicited Referrals

I was touring a 5 unit rental property that a real estate investor associate of mine had just bought. We were in the basement and I noticed the electrical was still using fuses.

I said, “Mike, it looks like you’re in need of an update to the electrical. I have a high school friend, Larry, that’s an electrician and just updated one of my buildings. He did a fantastic job and is really easy to work with.”

I connected the two of them.

About a week later, I received, in the mail, a sincerely grateful, hand written Thank You card from Larry with two $5 gift certificates to a local burger joint.

I remember how acknowledged I was by this simple gesture. And, I made a promise to myself to refer a few more people to Larry. Not for more gift certificates, but because his genuine expression of gratitude created a desire to support.

Referrals are especially important because:

1). The low cost of lead acquisition

2). The higher % of conversion

3). They anchor and reinforce positive buying emotions with the customer making the referral and take the relationship to a new level of trust

4). They are a laser accurate measure of value and customer experience.

There are two types of referrals to aspire to attract and generate. Non-solicited and solicited. They each require different strategies and approaches.


To even get to the starting line in this New Economy, it seems a flawlessly executed customer experience that …


How to Use QR Codes in Your Marketing

If haven’t already…after reading this post you should start to notice them all over.

Those little black and white checkered squares.


Technically, they’re a 2-dimension bar code, commonly referred to as QR Codes. The QR stands for “Quick Response”, and they’re quickly gaining popularity in marketing as mobile plays a bigger role in our day-to-day use of the Internet.

In fact, a study by comScore, a firm which tracks online activity, indicated that approximately 15 million people scanned QR codes in June. What’s interesting is their profile: 18-34 year-olds with household incomes of $100,000 or more.

It’s (surprisingly) easy and fast (like seconds) to create a QR Code for your business — just use a QR code creator online.   In that code, you can store a website URL, a telephone number, contact details (VCARD), an event (VEVENT), Google Maps Locations, download for a mobile app, coupons, and more.

You can then print the image on nearly any surface: promotional items, product packaging, clothing labels…really the possibilities seem to be endless.

By using a free code reader app on a smartphone, anyone can scan a QR Code and access the content you stored there.

Now your customer or prospect has access to your information from anywhere they are! Instant gratification!

The novelty of this new technology provides a compelling call to action – the curiosity and the fun of using a new app (toy).

Here are the TOP 5 promotional marketing uses …



The line of the night…

“I was riding over here in the cab trying to imagine what a bunch of bloggers networking in person would look like…”

…goes to Steve Stockman, author of the new book How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck. Steve was the keynote speaker at Swagapalooza.

Swagapalooza is an invite only event I attended recently in Chicago that organizer Alex Krupp describes as “like a book tour for physical products”. The purpose of these events is to democratize PR.

The idea was to bring together 85 of Chicago’s top bloggers to watch 9 entrepreneurs present their new products. (They’re listed below)

Only one of the products was our type of s.w.a.g. (stuff we all get). The BuzzBrush® is a clever little 2 in 1 computer cleaning tool. It combines a brush for cleaning your keyboard and a microfiber screen cleaning material for your computer screen, smart phones, and any touch-screen electronic devices.

A special shout out to the Monk Fruit people for their clever use of s.w.a.g. Monk Fruit looks like a mini water melon and has traditionally been grown in small family orchards on steep forested mountains in China. According to legend monk fruit is named after the Buddhist monks who first cultivated it nearly 800 years ago. They really anchored in their message and made it memorable by including a monk fruit replica stress ball in the Swag Bag.

The only …


February Blitz of Appreciation

It sounds cheesy (hey, I’m a Packer Fan, what did you expect), but one of the things I love about business is that it’s a team sport.

So, to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and the Super Bowl this month, what better strategy than to go big and strong while showing lots of love and appreciation…interesting combo isn’t it?

At PPS we are going to be spending the entire month showing our appreciation to the tons of friends and associates who’ve played a part in our business and our lives or both, with our February Blitz of Appreciation.

Well, during every business day in February, we’re promising to send a note of appreciation to someone who has made a difference in our lives, either personally or professionally.

And we wanted to invite (and challenge) you to join us! Here’s how it will work:

The Rules of the Game
1. For each business day (20 of them) in February you will send an UNEXPECTED note of appreciation to someone…a client, referral source, mentor, etc. Your first note of appreciation needs to be in the mail on February 1st. You are not limited to sending one note. You can also send notes on the weekend. The more you send the better the results.

2. The note needs to be personal, not a generic “thank you” to your entire client base (that would be cheating). Here are some of the ways you can accomplish this:
•    A handwritten note in a card, on letterhead, etc.
•    Cut out an …


The Kodak Pitch in Mad Men’s Season 1 is a masterful example

The Kodak Pitch scene in Mad Men demonstrates the power of the right message for the right market.

One of the reasons I love this business is because of the challenge it presents to communicate effectively.

To be effective, you must first understand your market.Then, you have to know the benefit(s) of the product or service you are selling.

Getting to both of these is a lot harder than you’d think.

The challenge is then how best to communicate these benefits in a way that appeals emotionally to the market you are targeting, a message to market match.

When it all comes together, there’s magic.The Kodak Pitch in Mad Men’s Season 1 is a masterful example.

MAD MEN, Season 1, Disc 4, 38:07 minutes into Episode 13, The Wheel.

THE KODAK PITCH – Don Draper, the hottest creative director on 1960’s Madison Avenue, has been challenged to “put Kodak’s projection Wheel in the future”. The scene is Don’s pitch to the executives from Kodak: Technology vs. Nostalgia. Which doyou think will make the best message to market match?

Here’s a way for you to get a complimentary copy of MAD MEN, Season 1.


AMC has announced Season 4 of Mad Men will premier on July 25th, and to celebrate the return of the best advertising show on television, PPS is giving you an opportunity to get all the previous seasons.


Free Gift to First 100 Mourners

As Thanksgiving approaches I’ve been reflecting on what I am thankful for. And, top of my list, is how grateful I am to have spent 50 years with an extraordinary individual.

My father, Dick Schmidt, died suddenly and quickly from heart failure on September 15, 2010 at the age of 76. He lived a great life, accomplished much, and left behind the legacy of many, many friendships and a close-knit family.

As we were planning his funeral I was determined that it would be more of a celebration of his life than the mourning of his death. There were a lot of tears. And also a lot of laughter…which he would have wanted.

Jokes, stories, and amusing anecdotes…more than anything, my Dad loved humor!

He owned a very successful promotional products business. I grew up in the industry and he gave me my start…at 13 years old. But that’s another story.

Every year he would buy a quantity of Pick the Pros books and distribute them to all of his friends, associates, and family. These little books had the entire NFL season by week, with all the games listed. We would use these books to pick the teams we thought would win and then wager on who would have the most wins each week.

At one point, during the tension, stress, and pain of dealing with the funeral arrangements I attempted to let off some of the pressure with my own attempt at humor.

My Mom, two sisters and I were working on the obituary. I …


Why do you get up in the morning?

I’ll tell you why I do. I get a lot of juice from helping my friends (most of my customers have grown to be friends) grow their businesses and organizations.

I love to promote. For me it is a form of sharing myself. I promote anything and everything that I have found valuable…books, programs, movies, restaurants,businesses, people, recipes, ideas, organizations…

Probably not a coincidence that I find myself in the promotional marketing field for 30+ years!

During this time I have amassed a lot of knowledge! So I get a lot of questions like :

What is the correct promotional item to use for my market?

What is more effective: giving people something that is personally valuable or giving people something that is novel, funny or memorable?
If you were going to put your brand on one item to give away to customers who do not buy from you the first time, what would you choose?

So here it is…my tricks of the trade.
The tools and step-by-step process I use to find that carrot that will get someone to take action or modify a behavior.

I am offering this to make your life easier and to make sure you get what you want – exactly how you want it:
1. Even for someone like you, who is familiar – there is really good information in each message
2. I have developed several tools that I know you will find valuable.
The Item Selection Checklist includes my entire thought process for determining that item your …


The Bingo Card Method

Just got this email from a customer:

“There are so many options out there. How do I determine the best promotion for my business?”

Dear Suzy,

I like to break these options into two general categories.Category One: Current customer promotions Category Two: New customer acquisition promotions

The best place to start is in Category One for these 3 reasons:

In making a decision to purchase, a prospect has to overcome their objections about you, your company, and your products/services.
Your current customers have already done this work.

Your current customers are much more likely to respond to your offer and purchase from you than a cold prospect will be.

More drops to your bottom line. A sale to a current customer is more profitable because your costs to acquire the business are lower.

To identify specific opportunities I recommend creating a “Bingo Card”.

In a spreadsheet (or on a sheet of paper), list your customers down the A column. Across the top row list your products or services – 1 per column.

To fill this in may require a little research.

You want go across the row of each customer and put an “X” in the cell if they are using the product or service at the top of that column.

Just start left and go to the right across each column for each customer.

Where the cell is blank, you have identified a specific opportunity for each customer!

Look at the product or service that has the most blank cells. This is the place to …


Are Sun Chips the tipping point for sustainability?

In our business we deal a lot with Unique Selling Propositions – USP’s. Not just for our own business but for our client’s businesses also. A USP is a point of differentiation. The claim of a unique,specific benefit that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer.

If you look at consumer brands, when they do a commercial, it tells a story. The moral of the story will be their USP. One example that jumps to mind is that of Subway changing its USP to “6 menu items under 5 grams of fat” and using Jared’s extreme weight loss to dramatically communicate this.

Have you seen the new Sun Chips ads?



These ads are groundbreaking for you and me and everyone else committed to sustainability.


Two main reasons:
1) Sun Chips is a high visibility consumer brand.

2) Their Unique Selling Proposition – the way they are differentiating their product from all competitors – is that their packaging is compostable.

If this campaign is a success, the dominos may begin to fall as other brands follow suit. Sun Chips is a Frito Lay Brand. When will Doritos, Fritos, and Ruffles begin using this compostable packaging?

Let me know your thoughts on this!