Consumers Have Taken Over the Buying Process. Get Used to It.

Robert Davis, VP Digital Marketing. VP, Digital Marketing at PJA Advertising + Marketing in Cambridge and San Francisco. Marketer, gardener, student of culture and history.

You know what? The impulse buy is pretty much extinct because consumers are more engaged in the buying process than ever before. Whether it’s a watch, tablet, or million-dollar business software solution, they want to know what they’re getting into. But even though they’re informed, these engaged buyers still have emotions. They aren’t buying solely […]

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You know what? The impulse buy is pretty much extinct because consumers are more engaged in the buying process than ever before. Whether it’s a watch, tablet, or million-dollar business software solution, they want to know what they’re getting into. But even though they’re informed, these engaged buyers still have emotions. They aren’t buying solely based on specs. Or reputation. Read Buying Isn’t What It Used To Be to find out why people who engage buy the way they do – and why your marketing efforts might not be meeting their expectations.

Cucumis Sativus: The Best Midnight Snack

Todd Buckholt, Jr. Copywriter. He’s caught a home run ball at a Major League Baseball game. He’s been stuck upside down on an amusement park ride. One time, he ate five hot dogs in two minutes. He’s not the most interesting man in the world, but it’s his job to convince you he is.

The next time you’re rummaging through the kitchen with a late night hankering, avoid the cupcakes and cheese puffs. Instead, grab a cucumber. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Conquistador, Duke, Victory, or Blitz. A Pioneer, Kirby, Slicemaster, or one of the hundreds of other options. You can’t go wrong with any of them. These […]

The next time you’re rummaging through the kitchen with a late night hankering, avoid the cupcakes and cheese puffs. Instead, grab a cucumber. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Conquistador, Duke, Victory, or Blitz. A Pioneer, Kirby, Slicemaster, or one of the hundreds of other options. You can’t go wrong with any of them.

These delicious fruits are loaded with so many health benefits that doctors should start writing prescriptions for them. And yes, I called them fruits. While you may think they’re vegetables, cukes are actually fruits because they develop from flowers and have enclosed seeds.

Cucumbers are a very good source of potassium, 95% water, and are packed with just about every vitamin the body needs in a single day. They also contain three compounds that are strongly connected to cancer research. And most importantly, cucumbers have enough natural sugar and electrolytes to help prevent hangovers after a long night at the bar.

So if you’re looking to incorporate more cukes into your daily diet or want a new dish that’ll liven up the dinner table, here are a few of my favorite cucumber-based recipes. And if you’re someone that doesn’t like cucumbers, maybe these tasty treats will convince you to give them another shot.

 

Cucumber Mint Soup

Cucumber Ice Cream

Crisp Cucumber Salsa

cucumber-slices

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    Overturning Conventional Wisdom: Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping

    Hugh Kennedy, Partner, EVP Planning, Healthcare Practice Lead. Hugh joined PJA in 1992 and still loves coming to work. He also writes The Secret Life of the Life Scientist, a blog about marketing to those who discover. Hugh has three Swiss Mountain Dogs, two children, and one husband.

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    Andrew Davis made his mark as the Chief Strategy Officer at Tippingpoint Labs, followed by his best-selling book Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships. The author and marketing speaker spoke to The Unconventionals about the power of overturning conventional wisdom in retail. The Unconventionals: Where are you seeing conventional business norms being overturned these days? […]

    Andrew Davis made his mark as the Chief Strategy Officer at Tippingpoint Labs, followed by his best-selling book Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships. The author and marketing speaker spoke to The Unconventionals about the power of overturning conventional wisdom in retail.

    The Unconventionals: Where are you seeing conventional business norms being overturned these days?

    Andrew Davis: A lot is going on in retail. Ling’s Cars completely bucks the traditional wisdom that you need a slick website that appeals to certain design standards to win. It looks like a Japanese gaming site that hasn’t been updated since 1997. When you think about it, conventional design standards ultimately create undifferentiated designs. You go to every car brand website and they’re exactly the same. Online shopping is grid shopping because that’s what we believe users are enticed by – and we want to make it as fast as possible to buy and go. Ling’s Cars is such a departure from that. You’ve got to figure out how it works to find the car you need.

    The Unconventionals: It is a crazy site, complete with karaoke and strolling chickens on the screen. Why do you think her model works?

    Andrew Davis: On some level she’s captured the idea of hedonic decline, which is that the wanting is better than the having. A Dutch psychologist found that survey subjects were 8 times happier planning their vacation than actually on vacation. On Ling’s site, it seems that the more anticipation of the rental you create the happier the user is. They’re on a journey and have found something uniquely enticing that they’re willing to explore. Maybe they come back, in part, because they’re happier with the purchase process.

    The Unconventionals: Any other examples in retail?

    Andrew Davis: There’s also Trunk Club , which sends you clothing selections in a box. You send the box back with what you didn’t like and your feedback on it, then your Trunk Club stylist sends back a refined trunk based on that input. So what Trunk Club turns on its head is the wisdom that a retail experience has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It becomes more of a perpetual cycle.

    The Unconventionals: And you’ve remained loyal to this model?

    Andrew Davis: Well, I’ve spent $9,000 on clothing in the past three years, which is more than I spent in the ten years before that. But I feel more confident, and I now request things from Sarah, my stylist, when I have a particular need. (I also think my wife is secretly jealous of Sarah. That’s got to be proof the service is working.)

     

    Enjoy the Third Season of PJA’s award winning radio show, The Unconventionals here.

    And don’t forget to keep up with Andrew on Twitter.

    The Notebook: One Copywriter’s Romance With Ideas

    Lauren Bell, Associate Creative Director.The former child star of a Heinz Ketchup commercial, Lauren got her first job in advertising before she could shake her speech impediment. Today, she continues to be heckled for her Chicago accent whenever it pops up (sodas up?) at PJA. When she’s not thinking about ads, Skittles, or her five house rabbits, Lauren’s got her mind on her United miles (and her United miles on her mind.)

    Imagine a body of water in the morning. The surface like glass. Not a boat in sight. Most people would look at this body of water and say, “It looks so calm, so peaceful.” But I would look at this body of water and say, “I wonder how many dead bodies are in there!” I’m […]

    Imagine a body of water in the morning. The surface like glass. Not a boat in sight. Most people would look at this body of water and say, “It looks so calm, so peaceful.” But I would look at this body of water and say, “I wonder how many dead bodies are in there!”

    I’m not demented. At least not in the clinical sense. I’m what my mom calls, “different,” what society calls “weird,” and what PJA diplomatically calls “unconventional.” Whatever I am, I am also inarguably forgetful. Which is why I document random, fleeting thoughts like this one in a notebook that I have so creatively named: “The Notebook.”

    No, not the Ryan Gosling one. “The Notebook” I speak of is unremarkable by all outward appearances: a blue, spiral-bound journal purchased from The Paper Source in 2008. Its well-loved, makeup-smeared pages contain mostly humorous, sometimes solemn scribbles documenting whatever I find noteworthy in everyday life — hilarious exchanges, random observations, universal truths, and one-of-a-kind moments.

    Like the time I visited my grandma during Christmas 2013. The nursing home was playing holiday music over the stereo, and the elderly residents had gathered in the lobby to listen. “Jingle Bells” had just ended, and there was a brief moment of silence as we waited for the next song to begin. And then, Track #2 came on: “Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer.” The nurses stopped everything. We all looked at one another. And everyone burst into uncontrollable laughter. It was one of those perfect life moments you could not make up if you tried.

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    “The Notebook” contains shorter accounts as well. I’ve documented how getting a pickle from the pickle jar is often a team effort. (I need my husband’s strength to open the jar, and he needs my little hand to reach the bottom.) I’ve noted that animal crackers are, in fact, cookies. I’ve wondered where those “Made in China” stickers come from. And I’ve observed that when adults cannot think of anything else to say to someone else’s child, they invariably resort to complimenting their clothing. (Hate to break it to you, little ones, but your light-up shoes are not that cool.)

    I’ve recorded ridiculous sound bytes, too. Like the time my friend told a story about when he was “in downtown Europe.” Or the time a 30-year old tough-guy bragged, “As soon as I move out of my ma’s house, I’m getting a wolf.” The time my husband jokingly called our Internet bandwidth “bandgirth.” And the night I confused “breaking the seal” with “opening the floodgates.”

    I’ve wondered if toes leave unique prints like fingers do. If cats have belly buttons. If “bells” are the only things that can “toll.” If “hot” is the only thing that can be “piping.” And if fish pee. I’ve recounted the torture of living in the apartment below a heavy-footed sasquatch. The joy of applying your eyeliner perfectly symmetrically on the first try. And the tragicomedy of dropping the remote control on your face.

    I know what you’re thinking: “Sooooo … when does Ryan Gosling come in?” Point is, “The Notebook” is far more important than a pretty face; it’s about ideas. Some creatives get theirs in the shower, or in bed, or in the car. Tina Fey once revealed that she got a line for “30 Rock” from her daughter. (“I want to go to there!”) And for me, “The Notebook,” this pu-pu platter of potential thought starters might come in handy on uninspired days when ideas aren’t streaming on-demand. At best, one of these random notes might spawn a deliriously successful advertising campaign that will make one of our clients millions of dollars and Facebook friends. At the very least, they’ll cheer me up on a dreary day, reminding me of the whimsy, the absurdity, and the extraordinary wonder there is to experience in everyday, ordinary life — no Ryan Gosling necessary. (Just kidding. Ryan, call me.)

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      Avoiding Digital Marketing Whammies: What We Can Learn From a Popular Game Show

      Kevin Duggan, Assistant Media Planner. Kevin is an Assistant Media Planner at PJA, stuck somewhere between dipping his toes in and diving head first into the world of media. In his spare time he can be found “sampling” local craft beers, quoting outdated 90’s comedies, and arguing with total strangers about the pros and cons of the Patriots using more man to man coverage on third downs this season. He enjoys big dogs, the smell of freshly cut grass, and deep conversation.

      Digital advertising is in a state of flux.  Traditional metrics of success are quickly being deemed obsolete, and everyone is scrambling to identify the new best way to measure ROI.  With all of the factors that ultimately come into play when devising a successful digital campaign, determining what truly matters can seem impossible.  So how […]

      Digital advertising is in a state of flux.  Traditional metrics of success are quickly being deemed obsolete, and everyone is scrambling to identify the new best way to measure ROI.  With all of the factors that ultimately come into play when devising a successful digital campaign, determining what truly matters can seem impossible.  So how can digital advertisers avoid this cloud of confusion and bring their clients measurable returns with minimum spends?  Is there a formula for what really works?  Are there patterns we aren’t seeing?

      Before I go any further, let me introduce you to one of my favorite obscure “15 minutes of fame” figures, Michael Larson.  In 1984, Mr. Larson was a participant on the popular game show, “Press Your Luck.”  If you are unfamiliar with the show, contestants take turns pressing a button that stops a randomly rotating board of various prizes, while trying to avoid the “whammies” on the board that end your turn.  But here’s the twist: everybody, besides Mr. Larson, was missing a vital piece of information.  The board wasn’t random at all.

      Now, apart from being a sociopathic, egomaniacal, out-of-work, former ice cream truck driver, Michael Larson was also a bit of a savant.  During countless hours of watching the show amidst a lengthy unemployment streak, Larson noticed that there were two spots on the board where the whammies never appeared.  From there, he was able to identify the five different patterns that the board always followed.  After being selected to appear on the show, Larson’s task was simple (aside from trying to appear innocent and “lucky”); identify which pattern the board was following, and press the button when it was on one of the spots where there definitely was not going to be a whammy.  Michael Larson did this, and he did it well.  By the end of the episode, Larson had racked up $110,237, obliterating the show’s previous record for winnings.  Did Michael Larson cheat?  Not according to the network executives responsible for paying him his prize money.  Did Michael Larson create an unfair advantage for himself?  Absolutely.

      So why am I telling you this?  Because digital advertisers can learn a valuable lesson from Michael Larson.  Just because nobody has figured out what works, doesn’t mean there isn’t a formula for it.  It just means you might have to dig deeper and spend a little bit more time looking for it.  Between tangible metrics like click through rates, time on site, page visits, conversions, etc., and immeasurable ones such as brand awareness, customer loyalty, public perception and purchasing behaviors; somewhere there is an answer to the age-old question of “what works?”

      Now, I am not claiming to have the answer to this question.  But, I am claiming that somewhere out there the answer exists.  Digital advertisers should start to think beyond the traditional measures of success and identify what is really affecting their target’s decision to buy their product.  What if a company only looks to upgrade their software at the beginning of a fiscal year?  What if a competitor just released a similar product that might be cutting into your share of voice?  The list of “what ifs” goes on and on.

      One way to identify these “what ifs” is by having advertisers working more closely with the client’s sales department to make connections between ad dollars and profits.  I have a friend who works as a financial analyst, and he put it simply.  “I don’t care how many people ‘like’ our Facebook post.  I care about what our profits were as a result of that post.”  I imagine that most salespeople feel the same way.  By developing an open and transparent relationship between advertising and sales, it becomes easier to identify what is working, what isn’t, and what needs to be done to make it work.

      So I put it to you, digital “gurus” and “rock stars.”  Go beyond the traditional metrics of success and bring a true return to your clients.  Dig beneath the surface of clicks and bounce rates, and get to the bottom of the question we are all trying to answer: what works?

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