Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ERA is more than a baseball statistic

Las Vegas; Land of Convention Money

Only in Las Vegas: The Okies who crossed the country during the dust bowl referred to California as the “Land of milk and honey.” It is no secret that Las Vegas had the highest latest real estate runup before the mortgage fiasco began and therefore has had the biggest drop in home “values.” As Francis Albert Sinatra once said, “The higher the top, the longer the drop.” Las Vegas was a late entrant into the Ponzi scheme of the housing market. California real estate had been ridiculous for decades and as prices became more ridiculous, people moved farther toward cheaper housing and found Las Vegas. But just as every Ponzi scheme ends leaving those who invested at the end of the wave broke and disheartened, so did it happen in Las Vegas.

With the crash of the housing market and the nationwide recession, visitor counts were down, hence less sales tax was paid. The local and state government that became flush with real estate taxes suddenly finds itself in a crisis mode. The one saving grace is that group of people who the Hotel and Casino moguls love to hate – conventioneers. As the myth goes, they are tight with their money, unless they’re on an expense account, don’t gamble and don’t tip. But ah, how Las Vegas loves its conventioneers when gambling visitor volume is down.

One day bloggers, the next day media buyers: We covered the Blogworld Expo over the weekend and wrote our story about it (see above). Today we attended the Electronic Retailing Association’s (ERA) annual convention held at the Paris Las Vegas, and our impression was oui, oui! The conventioneers at Blogworld Expo were a pretty grubby sort with beards, long hair, and a pretty scraggly appearance. And why not? Do you think radio show hosts dress up for work? Blogging is done in the privacy of one’s own computer. Ah, but those ERA guys and gals were dressed to the nines. I saw more three piece suits than at a funeral. The presenters were people who handle products – designing, creating, private labeling, shipping, doing radio nad TV spots, infomercials, blogvertising, and every form of media and advertising to get a manufacturer’s idea or product to consumers. There were companies who tracked sales, arranged for payments, provided credit card sales terminals, and prospecting for customers. There was an Asian pavilion complete with dancers that you’d expect to see in Chinatown, a company from Mexico that could provide their own health products or personally label your own. We tried to select a handful of the more unique offerings and highlight them.

Most Unique Product Award (Call me sometime): It is true that many competing media companies offering similar services showed at the conference, but tucked away in the corner was a one-of-a-kind service that caught our eye. The theory behind 1-800-DIAL800 is that clients have worked hard creating their product, secured a great media buy, and selected a marketing program. That should mean sitting back and waiting for the profits to roll in, right? Not according to the “Dial800” guys. Their theory is that when a marketer thinks he’s finished, he’s only ¾ done. “There is still budgeted money left on the table.” says their CEO. Their service can provide vanity telephone numbers that are easy to remember, call tracking, lead tracking, demographic tracking, postcard response, and a host of other post-marketing services. It must be working. They’ve stood the test of time, providing services for 20 years. It is impolite to leave your elbows on the table, and according to the Dial800 folks, it is downright sad to leave advertising budget money there. For more information go to www.dial800.com.

Most Unique Product Award (I write the songs): When you wake up in the morning with your hair down in your eyes nad you say “hi,” what do you hear? Dress and head for work and what do you hear? Up on the elevator what do you hear? Watch an infomercial or TV show and what do you hear? In all likelihood, the answer to all the above questions is Mike Licari. Mike is a four-time Emmy Award winning composer and producer – although we’re sure that our award will be held in higher esteem than a mere Emmy. For more than a quarter century Mike has scored hundreds of infomercials and thousands of music cues for major television shows. His music cues can introduce products of health, beauty, sports, fitness, housewares, tools, finance, and dozens more categories. We were drawn to the Infomercial-Music booth because it was the only one of its kind at the ERA show and Mike just seemed so down home. We could just picture him in his Southern California studio on a cool winter night, wearing a sweater with patched elbows, knocking out a few new tunes on the piano. More information can be found at http://informercial-music.com.

Bundling the Money: Some direct response marketers, or DRs as they are called in the trade use special vendors for different facets of their business. Powerpay Direct bundles services to offer a one-stop shop. This company eliminates gateways for easier payment processing, offer capital to grow a business with longer terms than traditional sources, provides a Paylink automatic cash management system, and minimizes processing fees. But perhaps the most revolutionary component of their services is that they make available a vehicle that accepts not only credit cards but checks for instant purchases. This e-check online payment is cutting edge in the industry with a 48-hour money access. More information at www.powerpaydirect.biz.

Making AIG look like a piker; and with no bailouts: The Thayne Direct company is impressive by its sheer global presence. The Canadian company provides direct response marketing in over 100 countries! They market in North, Central and South America, Europe, the UK, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Perhaps some of the Wall Street companies that are struggling with their worldwide market can take a lesson from this company whose distribution platform spans 45 countries nad trading partners cover more than 100 countries. The message here goes beyond the ERA conference and Thayne Direct, Inc. Perhaps the powers that be in DC need to come to the ERA convention to see how things are done without bailouts. Since Thayne is a Canadian company, maybe they know more about globalization. More Thayneformation can be found at www.thayne.ca.

First kill all the lawyers: That quote from Shakespeare is often used to denigrate the legal profession. What is rarely quoted is the beginning that states that to create chaos, first kill all the lawyers. Thus it is actually positive. Dealing with international companies such as those represented at ERA whose products are vast and services more so, and whose clients are almost beyond comprehension, laws and regulations are paramount. Venable LLP offers a legal team to deal with the establishment and enforcement of intellectual property rights, compliance, and making sound legal business decisions. Perhaps they should be a runner up for the “Most Unique Product” award. Venable provides attorneys for federal and state regulated legal and marketing issues and can provide informal dispute resolution. No lawyer jokes today. You hate them until you need them. If you need them you can find them at www.venable.com.

A little blogging music Maestro... “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Dr. Forgot

Read me also at http://vegasnews.squarespace.com/dr-forgot-andrew-r-nixon/

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