Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Foundation for the Mid South to Launch Online Campaign Recognizing Community Do-Gooders

Local Non-Profit Organization Recognizes Outstanding Work Throughout Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi

Thursday, August 19th at 2:00pm at Old State Capitol (100 North Blvd. at River Road – Baton Rouge, LA), the Foundation for the Mid South will launch an innovative program to highlight good deeds in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The program, Foundation for the Mid South Do-Gooders, was established to give Mid-Southerners the voice to decide how to fund and what to fund in up to $300,000 of grants within their communities and states. 

Since 1990, Foundation for the Mid South has worked to improve lives in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. In this time, it has been instrumental in leveraging over $750 million to increase social and economic opportunity in the Mid South. Foundation for the Mid South has provided grants, technical assistance and professional development; incubated new ideas and leadership; and funded research to advance the region. 

“As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we want to highlight the great work that is making a difference in our communities,” explains Dr. Ivye L. Allen, President of Foundation for the Mid South. “Foundation for the Mid South Do-Gooders is our opportunity to recognize those whom are devoted to improving the lives of people in our region.”

Beginning August 17th, Foundation for the Mid South Do-Gooders is an on-line campaign inviting the public to visit a new, interactive website and nominate organizations and individuals, contributing to or supporting great deeds within their communities.  Nominations will be accepted until September 17 and will be categorized by Foundation for the Mid South’s four priority areas: health and wellness, education, wealth building and community development. A complete list of rules can be found at www.fndmidsouth.org on and after August 17th. 

“The people of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are extremely generous and innovative,” says Chris Crothers, Communications Director of Foundation for the Mid South.   “By launching the Foundation for the Mid South Do-Gooders campaign, we are celebrating this spirit and showcasing those making a real difference in their communities.” 

No good deed is too big or too small to be considered for the Foundation for the Mid South Do-Gooders campaign. For more information, call 601.863.0483 or visit fndmidsouth.org. Refreshments will be served directly following the press event. 

About Foundation for the Mid South

The Foundation for the Mid South is a regional foundation dedicated to improving lives by expanding knowledge in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Foundation seeks to increase opportunity for residents and communities by supporting and strengthening the knowledge and skills of organizations and individuals working to bring about change. The Foundation supports efforts that ensure high-quality education; promote physical and mental health; build financial security; and enable communities to grow and prosper. For more information about the Foundation for the Mid South, visit fndmidsouth.org.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The "Brown" Age

By: Michael Steele, President and CEO 
Advantage Communications, Inc.

It’s no secret that the U.S. minority population has steadily increased over the last several years. Nor is it a surprise that minorities are projected to become the majority by 2042, with the nation projected to be 53 percent minority in 2050, according to a 2008 U.S. Census Bureau press release. The real surprise, however, is that the innovative marketing and communications industry has not quite grasped the implications of this forecast. According to an Advertising Age 2009 White Paper entitled, “New U.S. Census to Reveal Major Shift: No More Joe Consumer”, “the message to marketers is clear: No single demographic, or even handful of demographics, neatly defines the nation. There is no such thing as “the American consumer”. 

It is even more important - now than ever - to understand that a new paradigm is upon us and its name is “market segmentation”. As one of the fastest-growing, multi-cultural, advertising, marketing and public relations agencies located in the mid-south, Advantage Communications, Inc. has not only accepted but whole-heartedly embraced this paradigm. Our expertise has been built on our efficiencies to generate buzz, alter attitudes and perceptions and drive consumers to action specifically in diverse markets. This is the environment in which we live and to effectively communicate, we must first understand this new America. 

To this end, here are just a few things we KNOW:

  • The idea that “one message for all” will suffice is no longer the case. Consumers want to feel as though messages are targeted directly to them to satisfy their needs, address their concerns, fill a personal void, or the like. 
  • Minority populations (especially African American, Asian and Hispanic) have a higher propensity to consume messages that are disseminated through targeted outlets or those designed to address the nuances of these cultures. 
  • The use of culturally-relevant images, language and other concepts is well-received among minorities as they are perceived as being “personable”, realistic or easily relatable. 
  • Appealing to cultural nuances, social norms and lifestyle situations is essential in penetrating the inner thoughts and emotions of minority consumers. 
  • Advertising recall is often higher among minorities than their non-minority counterparts when skewed to their cultural nuances. 
  • As it pertains to African Americans, they are more responsive to messages delivered by models and spokesperson that look like them. 

So what exactly is the term “market segmentation”? Although it may not be defined in commonly-utilized reference tools, the concept is simple. Market segmentation is first recognizing the multiple segments within the marketplace and then tailoring messages to fit identified needs.

Make no mistake about it… There are several companies and businesses that do understand the need for targeted marketing and many of their efforts have proven successful. Such large restaurant chains as McDonald’s and Burger King have demonstrated their capabilities to tailor messages to target audiences while also appealing to the general market. According to a November 2009 article in Advertising Age entitled, “Ethnic Insights Form Foundations of McDonald’s Marketing,” McDonald’s marketing strategy is framed by its knowledge of ethnic markets. Neil Golden, CMO of McDonald’s USA, states, “Ethnic segments are leading lifestyle trends.” The article goes on to explain that not only is the ethnic segment a trendsetter, but also largely comprises of McDonald’s total customer base. Approximately 40% of McDonald’s customers are of Hispanic, Asian and African American descent.

Other large corporations, such as The Coca-Cola Company, the company wherein I worked more than 15 years as a marketing executive, has also embraced the idea of market segmentation. With its commitment to providing quality beverage services to all consumers, The Coca-Cola Company understands that in order to encourage consumption of its products, it must spark interest within the consumer. This interest is sparked through the message delivery – hence the need to tailor the message specifically to the audience in which it will be received.

I believe the key to market segmentation is understanding your target audience. We live in a world where trends are here today and gone tomorrow. It is essential to understand the demographics and psychographics of those whom we seek to target. It’s almost impossible to address a need if we do not first know what it is. To this end, I continually encourage my associates of Advantage Communications, Inc. to conduct extensive research on industry trends, competitive advantages, population data, etc. Additionally, we are no strangers to referring to targeted publications such as Diversity, Inc., Target Market News, Multicultural Marketing News and Black Enterprise Magazine for the latest news and trends within our multi-faced marketplace.

In pressing forward to the new era of marketing i.e., “The Brown Age”, I encourage my fellow communications professionals to adapt to their environments. Although efficiently and effectively tapping into diverse markets may seem tedious at surface view, it is a step in the direction toward innovation. And as smart marketers, isn’t this a step we’re ready to take?