Thursday, May 17, 2012 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Radio Mercury Awards Announces Final Round Judging Panel
Group Represents Diverse Creative and Advertising Mix
The final round judging panel has been announced for the 21st Annual Radio Mercury Awards, which will be presented during a much-anticipated ceremony in New York City on October 2.
This year's group of top-level agency creative leaders represents radio's foremost advertising categories including Automotive, Communications, Restaurants, TV/Networks/Cable and Financial Services.
The jury, drawn together with the help of Chief Judge Bill Ludwig, Chairman and CEO, Campbell Ewald, represents small, mid-size and large advertising agencies as well as a diverse group of creative chiefs.
Listed below is the 2012 Radio Mercury Awards Final Round Judging Panel:
* Toby Barlow, Chief Creative Officer, Team Detroit (select clients include Ford, Lincoln, Sports Authority).
* Michael Canning, Executive Creative Director, Leo Burnett NY (select clients include Allstate, McDonald's, P&G).
* Christian Carl, Executive Creative Director, EURO RSCG NY (select clients include Dos Equis, Kraft, McDonald's, Volvo).
* Rob Feakins, Chief Creative Officer and President, Publicis NY (select clients include Bounty, Citi, Maytag, TGI Friday's).
* Rachel Howald, Executive Creative Director, mcgarrybowen (select clients include Anheuser-Busch inBev, Chase, Verizon).
* Aldo Quevedo, President, Chief Creative Officer, Dieste (select clients include AT&T, Chili's, Southwest).
* Chris Smith, Brand Creative Group Head, The Richards Group (select clients include Chick-fil-A, Home Depot, Motel 6,).
* Rob Strasberg, co-CEO, Chief Creative Officer, Doner (select clients include AutoTrader.com, Chrysler, Cox).
"This is a diverse and accomplished group of leading creative thinkers," noted Chief Judge Bill Ludwig. "I'm eager to gather everyone together, review, and discuss the creative work submitted into this year's competition."
"We couldn't be more excited about this year's final round judging panel," said Erica Farber, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau and Chair of the Radio Creative Fund. "This list represents the best of radio advertising, and will surely provide insights into what qualifies as the most creative and innovative work of 2012."
The 2012 Call for Entries is now open for submissions. Prizes will be awarded in the Agency Production, Radio Station Produced, Student, PSA, Spanish Language, Radio Campaign, Integrated Campaign, and Best of Show. New to this year's awards, a Radio Innovation prize will also be presented. This new award will seek out ahead-of-the-curve, groundbreaking, out-of-the-box, revolutionary radio creative work.
For more information on the Radio Mercury Awards, log on to www.radiomercuryawards.com.
||Jewelers Score a Solid Mother's Day
While the majority of jewelers say their Mother's Day sales were above or on par with last year, a number noted that the type of jewelry normally favored for the day -- personalized gemstone pieces -- weren't the top sellers this year.
Retailers say they sold more diamond fashion jewelry than anything else, producing a higher average ticket. The reports from jewelers interviewed by National Jeweler line up with predictions from the National Retail Federation, which forecasted an increase in the average amount spent on jewelry this Mother's Day.
National Jeweler publishes sales roundups during the November-December holiday season as well as for jewelry-buying occasions throughout the year. The roundups are compiled using interviews with independent retailers from five regions of the country: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, South Central and West.
Mother's Day sales were up about 20 percent at Ralph Miller Jewelers & Gallery in Erie, Pa., said owner Daniel Niebauer. He said the store experienced an increase in both number of items sold as well as the average ticket price, which this year ranged from $390 to $425.
"We weren't expecting it at all," he says.
He says customers turned away from traditional Mother's Day jewelry, such as birthstone rings, in favor of diamond earrings and pendants -- with diamonds the overall top seller -- as well as colored gemstone jewelry and sterling silver. "They just wanted to spend more," he says of his customers.
Niebauer says the store's main marketing push for the holiday took place on Twitter and Facebook, as well as other traditional advertising outside of television, which is no longer as effective in his market.
Sales of traditional Mother's Day jewelry also fell flat at Evan James Ltd. in Brattleboro, Vt., though sales were up overall as compared to last year, says owner Evan James Deutsch.
"I think that dog just doesn't hunt anymore," he says. "(It's) a different world now."
He said while foot traffic was down, those who came into the store were spending more, forgoing sterling silver and mother's birthstone rings for diamond fashion jewelry in the $200 to $500 range.
Deutsch says his traffic pattern also was different this year, with more shoppers coming in on Thursday and Friday to buy Mother's Day presents, as opposed to Saturday and Sunday (the store was open Sunday to accommodate last-minute shoppers.)
At DeNatale Jewelers in New York City, Jim DeNatale says his Mother's Day sales were on par with last year. "I didn’t see much improvement," he says.
They sold gold Rembrandt charms as well as two gemstone rings from vendor Color Story.
"It met our expectations," he says of Mother's Day sales, noting that the holiday has not been a prolific one for his Wall Street-area store for a couple of years.
A clearance sale designed to move dated merchandise buoyed Mother's Day sales for Goodman & Sons Jewelers in Hampton and Williamsburg, Va., says Stuart Goodman.
Store management drafted a plan for a Mother's Day clearance sale during their annual planning session, allocating marketing dollars toward radio, 6,000 direct-mail postcards and a small amount of cable and print. He says they also advertised the sale on the store's Facebook page.
"It looked like that paid off. We did really well," he says, noting that he was pleasantly surprised by the numbers the sale generated in a year when sales are down.
In addition to the mix of product included in the clearance sale, Goodman says Pandora was a strong seller for Mother's Day, noting that he has swapped out aged Pandora merchandise for new as part of the company's stock-balancing program this year.
Cammie McCloud of Gause & Sons Jewelers, with two stores in Ocala, Fla., also reported an increase in Mother's Day sales. Sales were up at the company's mall location due to an increase in foot traffic, while revenues increased at their downtown store because of more big-ticket buys.
"We're starting to see an increase in real estate (activity)," she says, noting that home sales and construction are on the rise. "We're definitely seeing a turnaround, which is good."
Diamond hoops and studs were strong sellers for Mother's Day, as was Scott Kay sterling silver jewelry. The store also sold a few ladies; Rolex watches.
McCloud says some of the higher-end items sold were combination Mother's Day and anniversary gifts, leading customers to spend more than they would on a Mother's Day present alone.
Like a number of other retailers, Gene Gragg, owner of Metal Works Fine Jewelry Inc. in Yorktown, Ind., didn't see customers rushing to pick up traditional Mother's Day rings and pendants.
He says he sold mostly earrings in both gold and sterling silver that were priced at $400 and under. How many of them were gifts meant for moms on their dedicated day is unclear.
"Sales were good, but I'm not sure how much I can attribute to Mother's Day," he says.
He added that he didn't have any expectations about sales levels around the holiday. "The economy is still not great around here. I was sort of prepared for the worst. I guess it was surprising a bit that it was as good as it was," he says.
Gragg says he also sold pieces from bead line Reflections, though he sees interest in bead jewelry waning.
He recently spotted an advertisement for sterling silver-plated beads from a mint that produces and sells "collectibles," such as coins, dolls, sculptures and jewelry. "To me, that's the beginning of the end. That trend is on its way out," he says. "It's going to dilute the brand so much that nobody's going to sell any of them."
Mother's Day was "no great shakes," for Jill Garfinkle at Garfinkles Fine Jewelry in Highland Park, Ill., who says the holiday fell short of expectations.
"We had business but I don't think it was for Mother's Day," she says.
The one vendor that did perform well for Mother's Day was personalized jewelry designer Heather Moore.
"It wasn't terrible. I thought it would be better," Garfield says. "I don't know what to expect anymore."
"It was crazy," says Kelly Newton, owner of Newton's Jewelers in Fort Smith, Ark. "The last three weeks have been crazy, to be honest, just nuts."
Newton said he's had to add staff members, especially on weekends, to handle the volume of people coming into the store. While much of the traffic can be attributed to a spring bridal promotion, he says many also were shopping for mom.
Price points at the store ranged from $350 to a few thousand, Newton says, not including a Rolex sale. Many shoppers opted for white gold pieces, and cases for the jeweler's sterling silver lines, Alwand Vahan and Thistle & Bee, "were nearly emptied," he says.
Newton said a few mothers came in to select their own gifts, but the majority of shoppers were husbands and children. He said he believes this Mother's Day trumped last year's but notes that "May is always a big month for us."
Business was slow to pick up at Cunningham Jewelers in Tulsa, Okla., says owner Vicki Cunningham, but customers did begin filtering into the shop on Saturday.
"It wasn't as busy as it usually is," she says.
Cunningham carries Pandora beads, which she says were a major draw for husbands and children. A few pairs of diamond studs were purchased, as well as silver pieces and some white gold jewelry.
The average price point ranged between $100 and $150, Cunningham says, and less than $100 for Pandora beads.
Sales went "very well" at Hart Jewelers in Grants Pass, Ore., says owner Tom Hart, who said Saturday was the busiest day.
"We sold a little bit of everything," the jeweler says. "Diamond earrings, gemstone rings -- there was no one category that stood out."
Hart says the store had a successful diamond bracelet sale on Friday, and sold sterling silver pieces earlier in the week. When it comes to gold, he says customers generally pick white gold over yellow, but he caters to an older clientele, "so there were still customers preferring yellow gold."
With an average sale of $600, Hart says this Mother's Day is comparable to last year.
Cheryl Burchell, goldsmith and owner of Cheryl Burchell Goldsmiths in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, says she "really didn't have a Mother’s Day this year" at her store, but offered insight on the lack of customers.
"We've created in this country a feeling that a traditional jewelry store that's here to service and take care of its customers is expensive," she said, "so everyone goes to department stores, the mall, T.J. Maxx, and they buy there. Even though I have the same earrings or diamond necklaces at affordable prices, the perception is that the traditional store costs more."
Burchell, whose store specializes in custom pieces, says many consumers in her area buy their jewelry at Costco or Kroger Co.-owner Fred Meyer Jewelers, which is located in one of the city's grocery stores.
"The guys are already there shopping, so they just stop at that jewelry store," she says.
Despite the slow weekend, Burchell says January and February were better than December, and Valentine's Day was successful. She says once customers come into her store, they see the difference between independent retailers and big-box chain stores.
"It's laid out nice, there's not a gazillion pieces sitting in a case; there's presentation to it," she says.
(Source: National Jeweler, 05/15/12)
||Solar Installers Offer Deals, Gaining Converts
Jay Nuzzi, a New Jersey state trooper, had put off installing solar panels on his home here for years, deterred by the $70,000 it could cost. Then on a trip to Home Depot, he stumbled across a booth for Roof Diagnostics, which offered him a solar system at a price he couldn't refuse: free.
Mr. Nuzzi had to sign a 20-year contract to buy electricity generated by the roof panels, which he would not own. But the rates were well below what he was paying to the local utility. "It's no cost to the homeowner -- how do you turn it down?" Mr. Nuzzi said on a recent overcast morning as a crew attached 41 shiny black modules to his roof. "It was a no-brainer."
Similar deals are being struck with tens of thousands of homeowners and businesses across the country. Installers, often working through big-box chains like Home Depot or Lowe's, are taking advantage of hefty tax breaks, creative financing techniques and a glut of cheap, Chinese-made panels to make solar power accessible to the mass market for the first time. The number of residential and commercial installations more than doubled over the last two years to 213,957, according to Greentech Media, a research firm.
Major players in the installation business, like SolarCity, Sunrun and Sungevity, are thriving even as the other side of the industry -- solar module makers -- has been squeezed to the breaking point by fierce competition from Chinese manufacturers. In a case to be decided later this month, a coalition of solar manufacturers has asked the United States government to impose steep duties on the imports, arguing that the Chinese companies are violating international trade rules.
"You hear a lot of the gloom and doom about the industry and, you know, 'The manufacturers are losing jobs, they're shutting down,' but if you look at where the actual money is in these systems and where the jobs are, it's really in the installation," said Lynn Jurich, Sunrun's president.
Big corporations like Google, U.S. Bancorp, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch see the potential for steady profits in rooftop solar projects and have been supplying the capital to help cover the upfront costs, which typically run $30,000 or more for a single-family home. The investors say they believe the returns, generally 7 to 13 percent, are relatively safe because the solar providers generally sign up only homeowners and businesses with solid credit. In addition, installers say that people tend to pay their electric bills even when facing other financial problems.
"We have customers that are foreclosed," said Lyndon Rive, chief executive of SolarCity, one of the largest installers. "They're still paying their electric bill so they still pay us."
The company has raised more than $1.4 billion to finance its projects and is so confident in its future that it is planning an initial public offering of its stock. The company has declined to comment on the stock offering.
Industry executives even predict that solar leases could one day be bundled and sold as securities like mortgages and other loans.
Some analysts caution that despite all the activity, the sector still faces hurdles, like the high costs of bringing in new customers and getting financing. "It's not clear to me that anyone yet has cracked the code of scaling the business massively," said Dickon Pinner, co-author of a recent McKinsey report on the industry.
Solar customers can finance their systems in a variety of ways. Businesses often purchase them outright so that they can reap the savings and take advantage of tax incentives and depreciation.
But homeowners are increasingly choosing to avoid the upfront costs. In California, the country's largest market, more than 70 percent of residential customers putting in solar this year have opted to sign a lease or power purchase agreement with someone else owning the systems, according to PV Solar Report.
The structure of the deals varies by company and state, but the overall approach is generally the same: Customers agree to pay a fixed monthly charge or rate for all the solar power produced, and the companies that finance the systems pay for the installation and take the value of any tax breaks or renewable energy credits for which the customer would ordinarily be eligible. Some companies concentrate on financing and use local contractors for sales and installation, while others do everything themselves.
Through such arrangements, industry executives say, customers can lower their power bills, escape the uncertainty of fluctuating energy costs, and avoid the complex bureaucracy of federal and local credits, rebates, grants and tax breaks.
However, the approach does not work everywhere. Thus far, installation companies have been most active in states where the price of electricity from the utility is high and there are robust incentives, like California, Hawaii and much of the Northeast.
And the transactions are not without risks for both sides. If the systems do not produce the promised electricity, the agreements often require the companies to reimburse customers for what they have to buy from their utility instead. Customers are committed to a long-term contract, raising complications if they sell the house or want to get out of the deal.
Another concern is the trade case, brought by a group of manufacturers who say they cannot compete against Chinese companies able to cut their prices below their costs because of unfair subsidies from their government. The Chinese companies aim to monopolize the market and then raise prices, American manufacturers say.
"The game is simply rigged, plain and on its face," said Ben Santarris, a spokesman for SolarWorld Industries America, which originally filed the trade complaint and makes panels in Oregon.
The Commerce Department has already imposed modest tariffs on Chinese-made silicon cells based on a preliminary finding of improper subsidies. Today, the department is scheduled to announce its determination of whether the Chinese companies engaged in dumping, or selling products below fair value, which could lead to steeper duties.
Those on the installation side of the business say that cheap imports benefit consumers, and they have urged the government not to penalize the Chinese manufacturers.
For now, those cheap panels are helping to keep business brisk for installers large and small across the country.
"We have our suppliers calling and dropping their prices on a daily basis to move inventory. That works in our favor," said Heshy Katz, president of Green Power Developers, an installer in New Jersey. "We can offer our clients an installation at 30, 40 percent less than two years ago."
Roof Diagnostics hired almost 50 new employees in March and April, said Kelcy Pegler Jr., who started the solar division at his father's New Jersey-based company about four years ago and has expanded to Massachusetts and New York.
"We turned a roofing company that did solar into a solar company that does roofing in support of solar," he said. "We're really a solar company now."
(Source: The New York Times, 05/09/12)
Daily Sales Tip: Manage Your Time
Take five minutes each day to plan your next day. Also, take ten minutes each Friday to plan your next week.
Make it a point to know where your meetings are each day, and plan to visit nearby prospects before and after your meeting. This will also allow you to have all your meetings in one area on the same day. Having a day planner, and using some kind of application on your phone, will help you with these tasks.
Remember time is money. If you're wasting your time, it's your income that's wasting away.
Source: Sales coach/author Ryan C. Lowe