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You can support a worthy nonprofit and get your running in through the streets of Atlanta at the same time.  Route 2 Change is a duathlon scheduled for Saturday, October 12 at the World Congress Center.


The event, co-chaired by Stephanie Blank and Lovette Russell is a USAT sanctioned race, but certainly suitable for all participation levels.  Route 2 Change benefits our client, youthSpark, who leads the prevention of exploitation and trafficking of minors.

Click here to sign-up or get further details. 




Fake reviews are nothing new.  We personally know a marketing director who thought it was great sport to create contrived reviews of his company.  He thought he was beating the system and he certainly wasn’t the only one.  The New York Times cited a study indicating 10 to 15 percent of online reviews are not legit.

Well, the Times is reporting that fakers in New York are now subject to legal consequences.   Nineteen companies have been fined more than $350,000.  The deceptive reviews posted on prominent sites, including Yahoo, Google and Yelp.


Yet, the largest consequence may not be a fine.  Those who practice the art of staged or fake reviews risk their entire brand goodwill.  Ask stockholders or employees associated with Arthur Andersen or Enron.  Brand trust is hard earned and easily lost.  Sometimes forever.

They noted marketing consultant Olivia Roat wrote an article titled “All About Fake Online Reviews: The Problem of Separating Fact from Fiction.” In the article she stresses she found “fake reviews greatly disconcerting.”

Today it will be announced her company will pay a $43,000 fine for writing fake reviews for 30 clients.  Great marketing, eh?  Consider more work on delivering in an authentic way and less on how to “fake it.”


If you take the time to send email to someone, this is not the way to respond.
Especially if you are asking for information or action to be taken.

“This mailbox is exclusively used to distribute outgoing email. Unfortunately, email sent to this mailbox will not be reviewed or responded to. If you are attempting to contact  Customer Support, please visit our support site locate at”‘

Um, Wells Fargo. You, in fact contacted me. What is unfortunate is I’m sharing this as a poor example of customer engagement.  If it was worth sending, it was worth having an employee manage responses.  Finish the drill, Wells Fargo.

A truism of branding – just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you necessarily should do it.
Meaning, you can extend your brand way beyond what it stands for or what makes it valuable to consumers.

Conversely, just because you are not comfortable with a media – specifically social media – doesn’t mean your company should not use it.

In a conversation with a friend who heads an interactive agency, he agreed that the hardest sell is a company CEO who doesn’t understand social media or believes it can be handled by some “interns.” We agreed such businesses are never successful at social media. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. To their detriment.

Because of the amount of time spent on the Internet and the sheer numbers on a computer or digital device daily, it simply is a foundational media.

According to eMarketer, adults now spend more time with digital daily (just over 5 hours) versus television (4 and 1/2 hours).  In case you are trying to figure out how that adds up in a day, here’s how.  Over 50% are using a digital device while watching television.  And, this increases to  74% for smart phone users.   Televison viewing is not declining, it has held stead over the past four years.  Clearly, though, multi-tasking is happening at home, just as it does for many at work.

Do you get regular emails from Linkedin announcing this person has “added new skills?”images

Come on, don’t you have just a tinge of envy that somehow you are not keeping up with skills development like your friends?

Personally, I think some new skill categories should be added … maybe a few more creative ones.
Like, “adept at dodging deadlines” or “great storyteller” … or simply, “sarcasm.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 8.52.48 PMGRM spent some time at the lake this summer. But we weren’t sipping on lemonade. We were hard at work on a branding research assignment, partnering with Resource Branding & Design on a new advertising campaign for Reynolds Plantation.

Reynolds is recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the top 12 private golf communities in the US. New owner MetLife and new development company Daniel Corp. are looking for a new campaign that accurately reflects the future direction of this upscale Georgia community. GRM’s initial role was to develop a brand strategy in advance of new creative work. We conducted qualitative research to solve perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle – how to position this active, successful community to a new generation of buyers. Stay tuned… the proof is in the work. A peek behind the curtain suggests good stuff coming soon!

According to recent surveys, 1.8 billion loyalty-program memberships exist in the United States. The average household participates in 14.1 of these programs. Yet, more than half of these memberships are inactive, meaning the customer has stopped paying attention to the program, and possibly the brand itself.

A thought to consider? Loyalty is a company or brand COST of doing business, not an elective on the part of your customer. From our viewpoint, companies build products, programs and service deliveries that create loyalty. In turn, the customers who are most delighted become Zealots.

loyalty-cards1In traditional marketing parlance, loyalty is earned by the customer. The customers who buy your product or service most often are rewarded with discounts of some kind.

In our world of Zealotry Marketing, loyalty is demonstrated and earned by the business. The result is customers who are passionate about your business and who willingly exhibit zealotry actions. The reward is not loyalty. The reward is customers singing your praises – in reviews, in social media, in referral and in return sales.


Customer -> repeated purchase -> receives discount or rebate

Zealotry Marketing:

Marketing focused on the right targets and messaging -> Business delivers experience -> customers are delighted -> the customer rewards the business through zealotry actions

Brands are profoundly vulnerable to social media. Loyalties can shift fast, as communities rally behind or against brands. Brands must be monitoring, influencing and promoting themselves in social forums, including your own company’s Twitter or Facebook pages, etc. to ensure that social channels help, and not hurt.

rebranding-seoOutgrown the old marketing materials? Business changing course? We hear you. And your stalled brand is GRM’s sweet spot. We have a history (and a good one, if we do say so ourselves) of restaging brands to be able to better compete, not just today, but in the future.

We’re excited to take on a new client – the American Salvage Pool Association.

Sound familiar? Probably not. Unless you’re not in the insurance or auto after-market business, that is. Stay tuned. Our aim is to present the passion and integrity of this group in a contemporary and competitive way. The ASPA has a good story. We relish the opportunity to help them share it in new and relevant ways.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 2.41.28 PMA recent survey by the Hub Magazine notes that Starbucks’ “social responsibility” more favorably impacts their customer loyalty than other category leader brands: Amazon, Apple, Target, Proctor & Gamble and L.L. Bean. Only Patagonia, Whole Foods and Trader Joes matched Starbucks in having more favorable than combined “unfavorable and not a factor” votes.

How has Starbucks has turned social responsibility to a positive brand advantage when many other category leaders have not? A few intriguing conclusions:

One – their stance on social responsibility impacts the less frequent customers. Many responded they are occasional customers and are not necessarily a fan of Starbucks coffee.

Two – they have made their story very visible throughout their store.

Three – many customers admit that they feel better about paying a “premium” for a product that employs fair trade practices.

We know from countless research that consumers want to identify with a brand beyond the rational product benefits. A big part of brand value is what they do to be a good community “steward.” Starbucks clearly has the game plan down in this area.

goods-60-rewards-pop_5728Earlier this year, Marriott International, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood and Delta – among others – effectively devalued their customer loyalty programs. They now require more points, and sometimes more cash, in order to obtain a reward room.

As a result, customers have reacted negatively. Surprised?

Consumers view loyalty rewards as ‘bought’ or ‘earned.’ Certainly, not a reward. And, companies are increasingly analyzing the return on such programs and determining the investment is not there. So, they reduce the benefits and their customers become more disenfranchised. Exactly the opposite reaction desired of a ‘reward.’

Zealotry Marketing flips the concept of loyalty. Instead of discounts or rewards following frequent purchases, consider the benefits of engaging the consumer in more collaborative, meaningful and personalized ways that enrich their experience and deepen their understanding of your brand. Examples? Tastings; behind the scenes tours; exclusive seminars/discussions; advance previews; sampling; private communities.

Savvy media types have long understood the value of “advance staging” – of cultivating a smaller, but fervent group to ‘leak news’ and be positive ‘plants in the audience.’

Delight your Zealots in advance, instead of trying to buy their continued loyalty. The investment is less and the return is greater.

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