TWO Talents : Graphic artist by day, musician by night

Chris MacCarthy started taking drum lessons at age 13, guitar lessons at 16, piano lessons at 17 and started song writing at around 16.

How long have you been playing and singing?

I performed my first original songs at high school recitals, then at cafes and bars/clubs while in college. I formed my first band at 18 while a freshman in college. It was a 3-piece with me on guitar and vocals, a bass player and drummer.

Who is your favorite group/singer?

My favorites are always changing, and there are too many to mention all of them. To name a few...Sonic Youth, Hovercraft, Viva Voce, The Frogs, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead

What famous people or venues have you played with/at?

I’ve performed in Santa Monica, San Diego, and Minneapolis. The majority of venues are in Chicago, including: Subterranean, The Beat Kitchen, and Uncommon Ground. I once performed at an event at The Hideout with Billy Corgan, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), and others.

What are your future plans, aspirations?

I’ve recently started playing with a new band, wish to continue playing shows around Chicago and I am recording a new album with them. My past solo work has been fairly mellow and soft. My latest band is fairly loud and heavy.

How can someone hear your music?

My music can be found on iTunes, amazon.com, or @ chrismaccarthy.com


TWO TIP: Best Opt-In Words

Call to action copy for opt-in e-mail should consider not using terms like "Subscribe to," or "Register for." Some readers will infer that there's a financial obligation due or a fee for service.

"Sign up for" copy is better because it's friendly without suggesting a commitment.

"Join" makes prospects feel that they are part of a group entitled to special benefits. "Exclusive Offer" subject lines should appeal to these people too.


TWO TIP: When Not To Mail

When there's a close presidential election, a national or global catastrophe — any big event or crisis — people stray from daily habits to keep up with the news. They stay glued to web news sites, TV and radio.

Direct mail and e-mail go unread as more arrive daily. After things return to normal, people eliminate clutter by throwing away unopened standard mail and purging email inboxes. Response rates suffer.

You can't predict horrible events like war or political assassinations. But you should pull the plug at the lettershop and pause e-mail tests until the crisis passes.


Find Your Marketing Edge

Why should someone choose your company over your competitors? If you answered because your company is the “Best”, can you explain why? If not, then keep reading!

Current economic conditions are causing consumers to cut their spending, which means everyday purchase decisions are highly influenced by price. This makes it difficult for businesses that offer high quality products and superior service but are not known as the “value” or “low-price leaders”.

So how do you influence new customers and increase market share when competing with the “blue light specials” and “every day low prices”? You need to strategically develop a compelling competitive differentiator, a.k.a. a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

A USP is a well defined trait that sets your company (or product) apart from your competition. This factor is crucial to your survival and placement in the market. Your competitive differentiator/USP should be a clear concise brand statement that is the essence of what you are selling. It should be integrated within everything that you do.

A good example of a company that differentiated themselves from their competitors is Domino’s Pizza. They selectively targeted a central group of customers, working parents. These moms and dads often come home late and are too mentally and physically tired to prepare a meal for their family. So Domino’s cleverly positioned their brand as the fast or free meal with this USP: "Pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it's free." They did not have to lower their price rather they focused on a consumer benefit “time” and simply offered a money-back guarantee if they failed to deliver as promised.

At The Weinstein Organization we follow these six steps to develop a USP, and determine what a particular client’s edge is in their marketplace:

1. Examine company attributes, natural resources and human personnel.

2. Identify core strengths, industry player differentiators and performance gaps.

3. Look for something that is “unique” and not easy for competitors to imitate.

4. Consider what factors would benefit and persuade a potential customer.

5. Determine how best to position advantages to obtain high perceived value.

6. Repeatedly promote and integrate into all marketing communications.

When your USP is recognizable in the marketplace and reinforced in your marketing, you will acquire a competitive differentiation that can boost your sales, re-position your brand, and enable you to dominate your market category.


Marketing Trends and Opportunities in 2011

We are now a full year into the second decade of the 21st century, and most would agree that the marketing industry—and consumer behavior—is vastly different than 10 years ago. But many of the evolutions of the last decade are now maturing, and becoming structures of the “new normal”.

Just as nobody could imagine social networking, search, and on-line media dominating the conversation, it’s hard to predict what we will be writing about 10 years from now. However, there are some things we see coming in 2011 that will affect our business and create new marketing opportunities. Here are some of the significant trends we predict will have an impact on marketing:

1. Email Marketing Goes Social

In espionage the M.O. is to always “follow the money”, but in marketing we need to “follow the audience”. According to Marketing Sherpa 90% of consumers now turn to social networks, user review sites, and on-line forums to learn more about the products and services that they are considering purchasing. That’s not a threat to marketing—it’s an implicit invitation to become a part of the conversation.

We’ve found great success in the integration of email marketing and social network sharing because it mimics the natural human behavior of word of mouth. And nothing is a better endorsement these days than Facebook’s “like” icon next to someone’s posting of an email offer they received.

2. Search, Expanded and Re-Defined

Yahoo, Google, and Bing in the US, as well as China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex, rule the world when it comes to search engines. And Search Engine Marketing is an essential part of any modern, comprehensive marketing strategy. But now Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer their own unique forms of search based on how someone uses them.

Consumers search their social networks for answers because they are viewed as trustworthy and local. More than 30% of consumers poll their Facebook friends for information on everything from clothes to cars to contractors, and typically compare this information to what they find on a search engine. You can enter a product category in the YouTube search bar and find instructional videos, commercials, and testimonials in the form of user-generated content for virtually everything. This signals that marketers need to make sure they continue promoting themselves consistently on multiple platforms. It’s not enough to make sure that your web site is optimized to rise to the first page of a Google search anymore. It’s also vital to rise to the top of peoples’ minds, and that can best be achieved with media integration.

For more traditional media like direct mail, print, TV and out-of-home, we view on-line media as reliable and effective partners in extending our clients’ presence to portals where this kind of “personal search” activity exists.

3. Personalization—The Un-Mass Marketing

One-to-one marketing has come of age, and consumers are responding. What was once the domain of Direct Mail and Email, personalization is now everywhere, and it is much more than just a matter of addressing your audience by name. Websites, social networks, and smart phones are configured to serve targeted ads based on a user’s behavior. Using information such as referring URLs, search terms, click-thrus, and geo-location marketers can offer advertising messages that are tailored to the individual.

And while this does fan the flames of privacy issues and fears that big-brother is watching, consumers by and large don’t consider relevant marketing messages to be “spam”. The key to success in personalization is in differentiating your customer as well as the product or service you are offering. Nobody wants to be thought of as part of a mass audience, so we’re using techniques that are more like the conversations between salespeople and customers in a store.

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The Marketing Industry is going through a revolution comparable to the “Creative Revolution” of the 1960s. With a plethora of new technology that opens the door to new ways of communicating, this is a very exciting time. We can only imagine what this newsletter will report on in 2021, but until then there’s lot’s of innovating to do.