Leslie May featured in new book about Entrepreneurial Women

Along with Oprah, Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray and Lillian Vernon, Leslie May, founder of Pawsible Marketing, is included as a contributor and highlighted in a new book, Entrepreneurial Women: New Management and Leadership Models, available on Amazon and Google Books.

In the chapter, 'You Are What You Brand,' author Louise Kelly reviews the history of personal and individual branding beginning with Lillian Vernon in the 1950's, through Oprah and Martha Stewart today, and explores the downside of creating a personal brand with the individual as the 'face' and the name of the brand.

Kelly highlights Leslie May as the creator of a brand that is positioned as an extension of the individual, rather than the individual herself, and why this positioning will help the company evolve and grow beyond the individual.

Entrepreneurial Women: New Management and Leadership Models explores how women everywhere are empowering themselves socially and economically through entrepreneurship and business ownership. The work draws on empirical studies, data sets, case studies, and descriptions of career trajectories to portray the realities of women entrepreneurs today.

Author Dr. Louise Kelly is a professor of Strategy at the School of Management at Alliant International University in San Diego, California. She has a PhD in Strategic Management from Concordia University, Montreal. She specializes in international strategic entrepreneurship research- looking at top management team leadership, from a social networks perspective,

Read more excerpts from the book.


Does shock advertising/marketing work?

Individuals are bombarded by advertising and marketing messages on a daily basis.

How many? If you Google the question you get a wide variety of answers with the most prolific information indicating individuals are exposed to anywhere from 247 to 3000 ads (via TV, websites, the Internet, radio, paper media and more). My estimate is more in the 250-500 range.

With all this bombardment, it's difficult to stand out in a sea of ads and get noticed by prospective and current customers.

This is why shocking advertisements have become 'popular.' Their aim is to "deliberately, rather than inadvertently, startle(s) and offend(s) its audience by violating norms for social values and personal ideals," according to Darren W. Dahl, et. al in a report from 2003 entitled "Does It Pay to Shock? Reactions to Shocking and Nonshocking Advertising Content among University Students."

Shock advertising may seem like it has it's advantages. It can be done with a lower budget, helping a company garner more attention per dollar spent. It can increase the chances of going viral on social media. And can be stickier to those targeted.

But the downside or disadvantages of shock advertising includes a high amount of creativity to pull off a successful shock campaign that may take a lot of targeted marketing research to estimate if the creative accomplishes the goal. And, if not done correctly, it can damage a brand if the ad 'crosses the line,' sometimes even to the point of inviting legal and regulatory issues.

Shock advertising may be effective and possibly lead to increased brand awareness and sales, but it may also be so negative with some consumers, that it creates a negative impression toward the brand.

In addition shock advertising is and has become 'ubiquitous,' losing it's 'shock' value and going out of favor by those who have become 'shell shocked,' leading to ineffectiveness, and potentially creating a negative impact, as well.

To understand how advertising works you have to understand that individuals react to advertisements from many perspectives, leaving their 'take away' varied in many ways.

The principle measure of ads and marketing communications is the recall of the commercial content. To make an ad effective individuals need to remember the brand as well as the product/service advertised.

If individuals feel anger, their anger may overshadow their memory of the ad message. If the ad is overly sexual for those that are offended by sexual content, the memory recall of the product/service may wane. If the ad isn't memorable at all, then the product and service will not be recalled. You see where this is going.

Matching the emotion of the ad to the specific target individual's potential emotional response to the ad is the key to memory recall and consequently allowing the individual to remember the product and/or service.

One of the biggest risks a firm takes in using shock advertising is that it can alienate its consumers and create a negative image in the minds of consumers. Studies have shown that consumers are less likely to buy products from a brand who uses offensive advertisements if similar products are available from a firm who does not make use of this type of advertising (An & Kim, 2006). 

What one person sees as offensive, another may find funny. Take the GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial for example. While the rescue and pet related community online (primarily baby boomers) was very offended and up in arms over the ad, many of the Gen Y, Gen X generation individuals I talked with who don't frequent the dog loving community online (but are dog and pet lovers) thought the ad was funny and meant to be a parody. Which is what I believe GoDaddy intended it to be.

These individuals also said to me that the ad didn't influence whether they would purchase the service providers products or services. Why is that?

These younger individuals have grown up on shock advertising. Nothing is surprising them anymore. Whereas the 'baby boomer' generation didn't really have shock advertising come into their lives until the 90's. So shock advertising may still be 'shocking' to them.

Is this a generational 'thing?'

I remember well the Brooke Shields Calvin Klein ad in the mid '90's. Showcasing a very young girl in a sexually suggestive ad was deemed 'blasphemous' by some. What individuals saw as shocking in the 90's would not even phase most people today.

Shock advertising really began with the fashion industry, utilizing sexual connotations within their ads to get attention. Soon advertisers saw that shocking individuals garnered more attention leading other industries to follow, including Volvo with their controversial crash ads, to several charitable organizations utilizing shocking images of AIDS patients, starving children and abused animals to get attention and consequently more donations.

Now shock advertising is nearly everywhere from BuzzFeed's 'shocking' attention getting headlines for mundane articles, to pet related websites geared toward the younger generations utilizing teaser and shock headlines to garner more traffic.

This movement is one reason that Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy have made their way to the rainbow bridge when taken over by I-5 Publishing, and have now gone the way of the new Catster and Dogster (more on that in a later post).

But the real question is does shock advertising/marketing work? Does it sell more product and services?

Advertisers, marketers, professors, university students and the media have debated that question for years. And as far as I know there are no scientific studies to say that they work or don't work.

Here is my advice if you are thinking of utilizing a little shock advertising and marketing for your pet business:

The one and only thing to really consider is your brand. Do you want your brand to be shocking, controversial, and potentially risk a negative connotation? Some pet businesses do and utilize shock advertising. But if you want to have a well-respected, well made product, provide the ultimate in customer service and showcase your brand as such, then shock advertising is probably not for your business.

The current demographic that purchases the most pet products and services (baby boomers) likes warm and fuzzy, they like funny with 'taste,' they like cute. However that will change with the move to millennials and the Gen Y & Z generations. You will have to utilize more attention-getting advertising and marketing tactics to stand out from the crowd. Remember, they have seen a lot of 'shocking' things, much more at their age than baby boomers.

But the key will be how to garner their attention without creating a negative connotation to your brand. Creativity will be key.

For more information about how you can be more effective with your advertising and marketing, email us to schedule a time for a free 30 minutes consultation.

Journal of Advertising Research
Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 
Business Perspectives

Photos courtesy of Leslie May (her Gracie is always shocked by something, usually a squirrel.)


UPDATE: GoDaddy and Anheuser-Busch to feature puppies in ads during Super Bowl XLIX

UPDATE 1-27-2015: As we predicted, you will notice that the YouTube GoDaddy ad referenced below is now set to private.

Within just hours of this posting the online dog loving community took to social media in an uproar over the message of the new GoDaddy ad. If you didn't see the video you can see it below.

It's obvious that GoDaddy really missed the mark with this ad creating a media backlash that consequently gave them a lot of publicity. GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving said in a tweet today...

Thank you @animalrescuers for the candid feedback. What should have been a fun and funny ad clearly missed the mark and we will not air it. — Blake Irving (@Blakei) January 27, 2015

Two big questions: Was this stunt planned by GoDaddy and will this fiasco hurt their business or help it.

UPDATE 1-28-2015: In the shadow of the GoDaddy backlash, this morning A-B Budweiser released their new puppy themed Super Bowl commercial that will air during the Sunday broadcast.



Puppies sell, so it seems there will be no shortage of utilizing pets to sell products and services during the Super Bowl. GoDaddy, previously known for their risque ads featuring Danica Patrick, will be striving to appeal to a broader audience by featuring puppy, Buddy.

In December, GoDaddy held a social media contest to name the puppy, which was selected and announced the day the commercial was shot in December. The company officially named the puppy Buddy as the company's "chief companion officer" and has given Buddy his own office — with couch and doggy door — at the company's Scottsdale, Arizona headquarters.

According to USAToday, GoDaddy's chief marketing officer, Barb Rechterman, vows that the 30-second ad has a serious twist that goes well beyond a cute puppy finding its way home. "We know that puppies hit an emotional chord with people," says Rechterman. She also notes, "Puppies garner more news media coverage. And we want to get the spot watched."

But the end of the commercial will surprise you as GoDaddy targets small online businesses, and may strike a negative cord among dog lovers, rescue volunteers and the plethora of online dog lovers who consistently discourage individuals from selling/buying puppies online. Will the GoDaddy puppy commercial backfire?

Another prolific Super Bowl advertiser Anheuser-Busch, known for their consistent, adorable, 'tug at the heart strings' commercials featuring their Clydesdales and dogs, may strike a friendlier cord with dog lovers.

While the commercial hasn't been released, and won't be until the big event this Sunday, A-B has been offering teaser gifs and photos. The Budweiser ad, “Lost Dog,” will feature the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales and their favorite companion. In the spot, the Budweiser Clydesdales will tell an emotional story and help a puppy who has lost his way learn the true meaning of friendship. "We've turned to animals in our ads because they help universalize our storytelling," says Brian Perkins, vice president, Budweiser. "To us, it's less about puppies specifically, and more about how the Budweiser Clydesdales and their friend, the puppy, help us tell a story around (the) quality (of) our beer."

Here is a small sneak peak:

Super Bowl ads in 2015 will cost approximately $4.5M for a 30-sec spot, up $500K from 2014.

Sources: USAToday Anheuser-Busch Time AdWeek


More big changes coming to Facebook that will affect your pet business marketing.

On Friday, Facebook dropped a bit of a bombshell for Facebook Fan Page marketers when they announced that beginning in January 2015, people will see less organic promotional posts within their news feeds from Facebook fan pages that they have liked.

These posts will primarily be:

- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
Samples of these types of posts they cited include:

Facebook explained their reasoning for reducing the number of promotional posts from fan pages in an individuals news feed this way...'As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.'

What does this mean for your pet business?

It means that increasingly Facebook is reducing how much of the content you post on your Facebook fan page in the news feeds of those that have liked your page; first with their algorithm changes in recent months, and now with this new change coming in January.

Without a big ad budget for Facebook advertising, it's clear to me that Facebook is becoming less and less a way to reach, engage, promote and market to your pet business current and prospective customers and am encouraging all of my clients to continue to work with their Facebook page, but to also begin strengthening their other social media outlets in the wake of this announcement.


A little known Instagram trick that will drive traffic to your pet business website.

If you use Instagram to help market your pet business, you are probably aware that when you post there isn't an option to add a click-able link in your Instagram post that could potential drive traffic to your website and potentially increase sales.

But one thing you can do to help drive more traffic and utilize Instagram further as the wonderful potential marketing tactic is to do what Mashable has been doing for several months with good results.

Every time you post on Instagram, add a message to your post to remind individuals to click the link in your profile for more information. Then customize the link in your profile to a tiny url (utilizing Bit.ly or your own tinyurl) to drive traffic to specific related information on your website or blog.

You can see an example from Mashable here:

It seems that Mashable is seeing a good amount of increased traffic to their site through this method. And, it could be a great marketing idea for your pet business as well.


Why, now more than ever, pet businesses should conduct market research

No matter how wonderful you think your pet business product or service is, the most important questions you need to ask are does your market want it and are they willing to buy it?

As we've discussed before, pet business marketing doesn't start with a great idea for a product or service, it starts with the consumer. If your target pet business market doesn't want or need your product, then you have no market and your business is doomed to fail.

Market research is important for every pet business, and should not be a marketing activity you do only once. Market research should be an ongoing and important part of your marketing efforts.

Successful businesses conduct research on a regular basis to keep up with market trends, to maintain a competitive edge, to understand the growing wants and needs of their prospective customer, keep focused on how they market their pet business, reduce risk, help them be more cost effective in their marketing tactics, understand their competition, and more.

Whether you are just starting your pet business, redirecting your pet business, or expanding your pet business, market research is imperative in helping you understand your market and increase sales.

What types of the information can you garner, and should obtain, from a market research project?

Let's explore....

Market research can be divided into two types - Quantitative research and Qualitative research. Although, making in-roads into market research is a third category of  'Observation'.

Quantitative research is all about hard facts, including market share, potential market numbers, demographic data and more.

Qualitative research is about exploring why people do what they do, garnering opinions, exploring ideas and issues, understanding likes/dislikes, etc.

Observation research is about gathering and tracking data including website visits, social media likes, click throughs and more, and understanding who is interested in your pet business product/service.

Within these types of market research are two very important aspects of information you need to obtain:

Demographics - Understanding who your prospective customer is, their likes and dislikes, how old they are, what income and educational level they obtained, gender, their lifestyle, and more can provide you with valuable information about how you can actively satisfy and target your intended market.

Psychographic information - Pschographics include the study of opinions, lifestyle, personality, values, interests and more. This type of information can help you understand a prospective or current customer's purchasing habits and trends, shopping preferences, lifestyle choices and more....all helping you specifically target and speak directly to individuals who are most likely to purchase your pet business product/service.

As Baby Boomers (the generation who created our booming pet industry) age, and other generations become the new pet business market, we see demographic information becoming less and less important to pet business marketing efforts; and see psychographic and observational information as key information to help pet businesses create marketing tactics to specifically target the new pet business prospective customer and increase sales.

To learn more about how your pet business can utilize market research to more effectively market and sell your products and/or services, contact Pawsible Marketing today for a free 30 minutes consultation.

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