Face-to-Face Marketing… still one of the best marketing tactics

I recently received a notice that stated the following “The Government of Canada Exhibitions Program has had a successful run showcasing the Government of Canada’s programs and services across Canada. With Canadians turning more and more to the Internet to find information about government programs and services, the time has come to discontinue our coordination of this program.”

In other words the government has decided that since Canadians are turning to the web for information there is no need to send people out into the community to talk to Canadians face to face. What short-sighted thinking! I am also willing to wager that the bureaucrats and/or politicians who made this decision don’t have a clear understanding of marketing. You would think that the government which has become so impersonal and irrelevant to many Canadians would want to be out there talking to their constituents face-to-face rather than sending them to a web site. What about those who don’t surf the web but who do attend local exhibitions on a loyal basis every year?

Can you imagine advising a politician that he/she does not have to “press the flesh” and participate in events where they meet with their constituents face-to-face because everything about them is on their website? And of course, now politicians have twitter, facebook and other interactive tools to get feedback from their constituents so why bother going to events? He or she would probably tell you to “take a hike”. But those same politicians who cancel face-to -face programs like the Government of Canada Exhibitions Program are doing something that they would never do to themselves.

It is extremely unfortunate that the government is not taking an integrated marketing communications approach. We live in a multi-channel world and different audiences need different communication strategies. Frankly, there are those who believe that traditional approaches like face-to-face marketing have to be “ditched” or “discarded” because social media and digital engagement and websites are the only ways to communicate with Canadians. It’s not either / or. It’s the art of the sum of the parts working together that gets results.

With respect to face –to-face marketing, there is a myth that the medium is retiring and we are moving on to bigger and better things. Face-to-face marketing actually includes everything from live events, seminars, workshops, outdoor events, trade shows, and conferences. The younger group, known as generation Y, or those born between the 80’s and early 90’s, highly depend on technology not only for work, but for personal relationships as well. The rise in people’s need for technology to function has led others to believe that meeting with people face-to-face is not necessary anymore and has become a “fossilized tactic”. So what is the point in wasting money to meet with people face to face if it is an out-dated tactic?

The point is that meeting face-to-face is absolutely effective and vital to building strong relationships with your audiences. People who are wrapped up in the virtual world still have a strong desire for personal relationships, which is what they falsely try to attain through technology. All relationships are the same, whether it be a work related relationship or a personal relationship, they all need to make that face-to-face connection. By using technology you may lose that relationship.

People have bought into this myth that face-to-face interaction is no longer important and have begun adapting to technological alternatives. But, face-to-face marketing has, and always will be effective; it is a strategy that best fits public sector and non-profit organizations that tend to work with a limited budget that need to influence key stakeholders and opinion makers.

Whatever the rationale behind a face-to-face marketing effort, one of the underlying benefits is that the event itself is as much a part of the message as the content. There are times when technology just doesn’t do the job and face-to-face marketing is required. What can face-to-face marketing offer a marketer?

  • It provides you with the opportunity to meet with key stakeholders and very targeted populations;
  • It is most appropriate when some form of personal intervention or interaction is required to deliver detailed information, address barriers and concerns, build trust and gain commitment; •
  • It is an excellent way to compile data and build a community;
  • It provides fast and flexible solutions in a changing environment; and,
  • It is a proven process to speed up the decision-making / behaviour change process.

Face-to-face marketing can begin a lasting relationship between the target audience(s)/key stakeholders and an organization using the simplest and oldest method of communication – one person speaking to another. Events and exhibits and educational tactics like workshops and seminars should be considered as part of the face-to-face strategy.

Let me know what you think


Junk food producers funding healthy living campaigns

I have been a strong supporter of the private sector being involved with health programs for many years. Our group at Health Canada was involved in developing more than 300 public-private partnerships including ones for tobacco, alcohol and drugs, impaired driving, active living, healthy eating, diabetes prevention, healthy pregnancy, SIDS, children and seniors programs, injury prevention, West Nile virus, organ and tissue donation.  As I point out in an  article in Social Marketing Quarterly there needs to be some criteria and some common sense in engaging with the private sector, especially in the health field.

So I recently read about a partnership in Great Britain that made me wonder if the new British government have sold out to the private sector and has really hurt the credibility of private/public partnerships.

Food marketers in the U.K. are being asked to step up efforts to educate the public about healthy eating, after the new British government is cutting its $120 million Change4Life anti-obesity marketing campaign. In return the government will not impose new restrictions on food marketing.

The move is part of a wider plan for marketing cutbacks of up to 50% by the cash-strapped U.K. government, which is currently the biggest-spending advertiser in the U.K., ahead of Procter & Gamble.

Agencies are reeling from the dramatic budget cut, but marketers welcome the opportunity to take a bigger role in the debate, and are also relishing the government’s promise–in return for their help–not to increase regulation of food and drink marketing. The Conservative Party’s health secretary, Andrew Lansley, has ditched the three-year; $120 million budget set aside by his Labour predecessor and urged a “new approach to public health.”

“I will now be pressing [the commercial sector] to provide actual funding behind the campaign, and they need to do more,” he said. “If we are to reverse the trends in obesity, the commercial sector needs to change their business practices, including how they promote their brands and product reformulation.”

The Business4Life initiative brings together marketers including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Mars, Nestle, Pepsi Co, Tesco, Cadbury and Unilever and claims on its website that the group will offer the equivalent of $300 million worth of expertise to encourage better diets and more exercise.

“Business is ready to play its part,” said the group’s leader, Ian Barber. “We welcome being seen as part of the solution rather than being constantly castigated as being part of the problem. We are more likely to get the right results if we have a positive role than if we are constantly having mud chucked at us.”

“We have to make Change4Life less a government campaign, more a social movement,” said Lansley. “Less paid for by government, more backed by business. Less about costly advertising, more about supporting family and individual responses.”

Marketers and media owners see Lansley’s decision as a reprieve from moves to instigate a pre-9 p.m. ban on TV advertising of food that is high in fat, salt and sugar, which would have threatened more than $400 million a year in advertising revenue, according to government regulator Ofcom. Source

The reaction has been quite critical:

In their latest attempt to stem the tide of British obesity, the national government is asking junk food producers to fund healthy living campaigns in return for a promise to not slap any taxes on fatty, sugary, salty, processed foods .And in keeping with this new style of governance, the Prime Minister will also be asking London’s crack and crystal meth dealers to fund the nation’s “Say No to Drugs” programs in return for repealing the nation’s drug laws. They may also looking into new funding arrangements with the tobacco industry, industrial polluters union #666 and NAMBLA.So, why would junk food producers want to fund successful anti-obesity / healthy living programs? Answer: they wouldn’t. But, they probably won’t mind spending a few million on ineffective programs if it means they can continue making billions selling crap food to the British public. Source

In the Daily Mail a very interesting piece by Sophie Borland and Nick McDermott

And for all those non-Brits out there, don’t think that your government wouldn’t sell you out just as quick. Major food firms will be asked to fund healthy living campaigns but controversially in return will not face a clampdown on fatty, sugary and salty meals, the health secretary said yesterday.

Manufacturers of some of Britain’s most well-known soft drinks, chocolates and snacks will be asked to pay for public advertising campaigns. And in exchange, Andrew Lansley will not pass any new laws on foods which are deemed to be unhealthy.

He told a conference for public health doctors he wanted to free food and drink firms from the ‘burden of regulation’  and would invite them to take on a greater role in public health.Mr Lansley said Government programmes cannot force people to make healthy choices, adding that individuals must take more responsibility for their choices.

‘It’s not about good food or bad food because that way, you just close companies out. It’s actually about a good diet or bad diet, good exercise or lack of exercise, it’s about people having a responsibility,’ he said.

He added it’s ‘perfectly possible to eat a bag of crisps, to eat a Mars bar, to drink a carbonated soft drink’ as long as it is in moderation.

But health campaigners immediately condemned the Government’s decision to go cap in hand to companies such as Cadbury, Mars and Coca-Cola in a bid to motivate people to follow better diets and take more exercise.

Tam Fry, board member of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘It sees them as nothing other than a bare-faced request for cash from a rich food and drink industry to bail out a cash-starved Department of Health campaign.

‘The quid pro quo is that the department gives industry an assurance that there will be no regulation or legislation over its activities. Source

Betty McBride, director of policy and communications at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘We wait with bated breath for the fast food merchants, chocolate bar makers and fizzy drink vendors to beat a path to the public health door. ‘Meanwhile, parents and children continue to be faced with the bewildering kaleidoscope of confusing food labels and pre-watershed junk food adverts.’ Source


In an article Children are Obese due to Overfeeding Not Lack of Exercise Scientists found that lack of exercise is not to blame for increased levels of childhood obesity. A new report suggests that physical inactivity appears to be the result of fatness, not its cause. Researchers now believe that overfeeding by parents and children eating more junk food is the root cause of weight gain. The report also said targeting nutrition rather than exercise was the best way to help obese children lose weight Source

Over at ParticipACTION the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in Canada. We find that Coca-Cola Canada has pledged $5 million to support Sogo Active , a national program that challenges Canadian youth aged 13-19 to get active and overcome the physical inactivity crisis. Source. Also check out

Here is the latest press release from Participaction and Coca Cola.

August 12, 2010   |   By Kristin Laird

Coca-Cola Canada and ParticipAction are challenging Canadian youth to get physical and motivate others with the latest phase of its Sogo Active national physical activity program.This year’s initiative includes the “Can You Fill These Shoes?” contest. Teens can register online at SogoActive.com to create their own challenges and encourage friends to join.The 90 teens with the most recruits will receive a prize and the chance to become a Sogo Active Ambassador, for which they’ll receive $5,000 to put towards their education, a $500 grant to support physical activity in their community, Adidas gear, and a Sport Chek gift card.The goal is to have teens increase their physical activity levels by joining national or local challenges or by creating their own and involving their friends, explained Kelly Murumets, president and CEO of ParticipAction.”Sogo Active is encouraging and supporting youth to inspire each other to take responsibility for their own health and find new reasons and new opportunities to be active,” she said.Since launching two years ago, nearly 13,000 youth and 1,300 host communities have joined Sogo Active. As part of the program, Coca-Cola invited 1,000 members to carry the Olympic torch earlier this year.

“The first phase was to marry together the strengths of the respective organizations, and to market physical activity to make it look cool to the teen demographic,” said Amy Laski, spokesperson, Coca-Cola Canada.”We’re not experts in physical activity, but we’ve brought our marketing expertise to help the program,” she said.Some may consider the partnership an odd match considering some Coke products are loaded with sugar. But ParticipAction’s Murumets says Coca-Cola is “an absolutely amazing partner.””They’re aware of the image they have and have been responsible in the way we’ve set up Sogo,” she said. “Whenever we have an event we always serve the healthiest Coca-Cola product… And  [The partnership] is with the company and not a particular brand.

Concerned Children’s Advertisers (CCA), whose activities include nationally televised Public Service Announcements and curricula for children in kindergarten to grade eight, as well as tips and tools for parents and community workers has a campaign  in the area of healthy living and healthy eating . Their messages include the importance of balancing food and activity and encouraging kids to “eat smart and move more. “To extend the campaign they also develop and produce comprehensive educational programs for children in kindergarten to grade eight. Long Live Kids teaches kids to “eat smart, move more and be media wise,” to create a healthy, balanced lifestyle.But when you look at their partners  you find MacDonalds, Hershey’s, Nestles and Pepsi Co,

White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity to the President. The report included recommendations in a few key areas:

  1. Empowering parents and caregivers with simpler, more actionable messages about nutritional choices based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans; improved labels on food and menus that provide clear information to help make healthy choices for children; reduced marketing of unhealthy products to children; and improved health care services, including BMI measurement for all children.
  2. Providing healthy food in schools.
  3. Improving access to healthy, affordable food, by eliminating “food deserts”.
  4. Getting children more physically active.

The report also reports that in 2006, $1,600,000,000.00 were spent on food ads aimed at youngsters. The majority of products were unhealthy. In response, the Council of Better Business Bureaus established the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative , a self-regulatory industry body. By 2009, 3 years later, no substantial changes in marketing to kids were noticed. Read: miserable failure.

InOut of Balance,” , Consumers Union and CPEHN looked at data from Advertising Age to analyze the amount of money spent on the unending barrage of food brand advertising. The groups found that food, beverage, candy and restaurant advertising hit $11.26 billion in 2004, compared to a mere $9.55 million to advertise the Five a Day campaign, which promotes eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The ad budget for the top-spending fast food restaurants alone came in at $2.3 billion, roughly 240 times greater than the communications budget for the 5 A Day campaigns combined. The advertising budget for Snickers, a single brand of candy, is nearly eight times greater than the advertising budget for the entire 5 A Day California and federal programs.

Michelle Obama’s childhood anti-obesity campaign got a big boost when a coalition of major food manufacturers, including Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Kraft Foods and Pepsi Co vowed to introduce healthier food options, and cut down calories in existing products.

Some believe that the hidden motive here is to convince government to back off and not regulate the industry,” said Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. ” Source

To summarize I strongly support partnerships between government Non Profit agencies and the private sector, but there has to be limits to these partnerships and frankly a little bit of common-sense, having producers of candies, chocolate and soda pop is not an ideal partner for those involved in the Obesity battle especially when their ultimate objective is not to be regulated by government.

I would love to hear what you think.


Postscript June 22 2012


ParticipACTION partnership with Coke draws critics

Sogo Active Youth Ambassadors are shown getting active at Queen's Park in Toronto, Tuesday, June 28, 2011. (MARKETWIRE PHOTO / Coca-Cola Canada)
Sogo Active Youth Ambassadors are shown getting active at Queen's Park in Toronto, Tuesday, June 28, 2011. (MARKETWIRE PHOTO / Coca-Cola Canada)

Sogo Active Youth Ambassadors are shown getting active at Queen’s Park in Toronto, Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

One of Canada’s most famous fitness enthusiasts is speaking out against a partnership between ParticipACTION—the national non-profit organization that promotes healthy living and physical activity—and Coca-Cola.

The two partnered to create SOGO Active, a national physical activity program designed for youth.The campaign asks young Canadians to pledge to complete a challenge involving physical activity online, and complete the challenge.

Hal Johnson, longtime host of ParticipACTION’s Body Break public service announcements, criticized the partnership in a tweet on Friday.Reports indicate the deal between ParticipACTION and the world’s most popular soft drink manufacturer is worth $5 million over five years.

“I am disappointed that ParticipACTION has partnered with Coke, it doesn’t fit no matter how much money they are getting,” read the tweet.And Johnson is not the only person critical of the pairing. Ottawa University professor and obesity expert Yoni Freedhoff sounded off on the partnership on his blog, Weighty Matters.

Freedhoff slammed the way Coca-Cola was described by ParticipACTION President Kelly Murumet.In the past, Murumet has called Coca-Cola “a responsible, effective partner.”

In the end, the partnership between the two will not improve the health of Canada’s youth, wrote Freedhoff.

Health Canada estimates that in the last 25 years, childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled. Studies have shown a link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity.

To help children maintain a healthy body weight, the Canada Food Guide recommends limiting the amount of sweetened drinks consumed by children.

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20120622/participaction-partnership-with-coke-draws-critics-120622/#commentSection#ixzz1yYZPcCj5



Some top 10’s for marketers which should be of interest to you. The first are the top 10 technological advances marketers can’t live without and the other is 10 must-do marketing tips for 2010.

Michael Porter, the Harvard Business School professor and economic theorist, calls innovation “the central issue in economic prosperity.” In the midst of the economic morass , these are some of the year’s best innovations in media and marketing — some that look to have lasting influence, others that could even prove to be real game changers for digital media, in-store marketers, the TV networks, even architects of political campaigns

According to the Association of National Advertisers here are the 10 technological advances marketers can’t live without.

Social media has brought the conversations that consumers were having online, giving marketers the chance to monitor, further and contribute to them in real-time.

Search engine optimization is one of the most important and cost-effective ways to attract customers on the internet. Research has found that almost two-thirds of the time, people look only at the first page of their search results. They rarely make it beyond the first 10, and virtually never beyond the initial 30 results.

Behavioural targeting allows ads to be more relevant, valuable and thus persuasive to the consumer. This has given the marketing industry an unprecedented level of precision.

The arrival of video on demand and sites like YouTube  signalled a huge change in the industry. People started looking to the web for entertainment, and advertisers redirected dollars to take advantage of the growing world of online video. MOBILE: This burgeoning platform is seeing a meteoric rise thanks to the proliferation of cellphones, smartphones and tablet computers.

Online ads originally mimicked those in traditional media, where marketers paid for the amount of exposure gained.

As DVRs made their way into consumers’ lives; many industry pundits mourned the end of the 30-second spot and wondered how advertisers would fare now that people could skip through their commercials. The answer was not just to formulate ads that worked in fast-forward, but to introduce interactive TV ads that worked within and in tandem with regular programming.

More than $70 billion is spent each year on TV advertising. With such a large amount of funds devoted to commercials, the industry began calling for a better way to assess whether they were getting their money’s worth. Where, on one hand, the digital realm was providing precise statistics on an ad’s effectiveness, TV ratings were still based on the average of all commercials airing with a program. The industry is now starting to see a potential pathway, as a test conducted by Nielsen shows that the move toward brand-specific commercial ratings is clear.

According to eMarketer, the mobile advertising industry is expected to be worth more than $1.56 billion by 2013. This burgeoning platform is seeing a meteoric rise thanks to the proliferation of cell phones, smartphones and tablet computers. Apple’s iPhone and iPad specifically have brought the mobile arena to the forefront, as consumers increasingly look to their phones to aid in more aspects of their lives.

Marketing-mix modeling provided researchers and analysts the opportunity to think more precisely about integrated marketing. Technologists found ways to create highly productive media-decision models by weaving together analyses of consumer sensitivity to a company (or brand’s) media platforms. This tool gave media planners the opportunity to increase the effectiveness of an integrated marketing plan while reducing overall costs. Modeling has become more difficult with newer forms of media; the management process for conceptualizing integrated media plans remains the same. This is expected to improve as marketers and agencies better assess consumer sensitivity to digital media platforms.

Since 1970, advertisers, agencies and TV networks used the ISCI commercial coding system to identify TV commercials. To help bring a higher level of accuracy to the coding process and consistency to advertisement identification, as well as enable the industry for digital convergence, a new identification system was created. It has since been dubbed the “UPC code of the advertising industry.” Ad-ID helped transform the marketing industry for the digital revolution.

Ivana Taylors CEO of Third Force, has come up with her top 10 marketing tips for 2010

1. Get on Your Soapbox:
A solid brand position is rooted in a passionate commitment to the customer.  What do you believe about your industry, product or service?  What possibilities are you creating for your customer?  What’s your customer’s burning issue and in what ways does your company solve it.

2. Update Your Site and Start a blog: If it’s been more than three years since you’ve updated your site – it’s time to take a fresh look.  Have you started a blog?  These days, web sites and blogs are almost interchangeable.  They can be hosted for free and often come with free high-end design templates that only require you to write content.  Look at your web site and blog as free or low-cost advertising to your prospects and customers.  Use the blog to tell them about the latest new products or services

3. Create a social media policy: Social media is not a fad any more.  It’s time to stop experimenting and start managing your social media strategy.  Create a policy around social media, even if you’re only a one-person operation.  Your social media policy should include your objectives for each site and any rules you have around posts, articles, pictures, etc.  Creating this policy will eliminate employee confusion, problems and PR and potential digital reputation management nightmares.

4. Build and Combine Lists:
You probably have some kind of customer list (or three) lying around.  This is the year to combine these names into a single customer list.

5. Market Directly: Why spend thousands of dollars on advertising that you can’t control?  If you know where you customers live, you can reach out to them personally and directly.  You’ll find your marketing spending power double or triple by simply diverting your advertising dollars to direct marketing.

6. Do Videos
: If you have a product or service that shines in demo mode, then videos are an ideal and cost-effective marketing tool for you.  Open a corporate YouTube account and upload demos and live presentations for your prospects to find and customers to access.

7. Productize Your Services:
It’s much easier to understand and purchase something that looks like a product.   Turn your service into a product by giving it a name, describing your process as a specification and then charging a flat rate instead of by the hour

8. Mobile Marketing: Globally twice as many people use text messaging than e-mail.  Chances are your customers interact more with their PDA than they do with their computer.  Mobile Marketing Programs allow your customer to opt-in and request certain kinds of messages and updates from you.

9. Referral system: Stop treating referrals like a happy accident.  Run a referral program that includes regular meetings with people who agree to enthusiastically refer you.   Put your focus on attracting “Centers of Influence” and “trusted advisors” who will refer you to their clients and customers.

10. Focus on Ideal Customers
: Decide to only work with profitable customers.

Hope you find these useful.

If you have any other top 10 marketing lists, please let me know.