Government Shutdown Effects, Level Money, #Duffingate Scandal, BBJ’s 40 Under 40


Top Story: Government Shutdown Trickles Down


As the government shutdown enters its 11th day, more and more consequences are seeping into our daily lives. While military death benefits have been restored and hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees have been recalled, several issues are becoming more serious. Many businesses are suffering, especially those surrounding national parks and monuments, but beyond that lies plenty more:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been forced to turn away some 200 patients for clinical trials every week. For some of these patients, these clinical trials are a last glimmer of hope of recovery.
  • Outbreak of Salmonella across 18 states due to the absence of Food and Drug Administration inspectors who secure the safety of new products entering the market. Raw chicken linked to Foster Farms in California contains several antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella and have put at least 42% of victims in the hospital.
  • Also due to the absent FDA, 90% of seafood imports are also not being inspected.
  • Farmers don’t have the basic information they need to make their business decisions. They rely on the National Agriculture Statistics Service’s reports on supply and demand, exports and prices to decide how to price crops, what to grow and when to sell them. Without current or past information (websites containing past reports are also down), we could see a major price change at our grocery stores.
  • New craft beers can’t be released. The Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, an arm of the Treasury Department, approves all new breweries, recipes and labels. With no green light from the TTB, the only beers you can look forward too are the ones that are already out.


Even the Taliban has issued a statement warning the American public to “realize that their politicians play with their destinies as well as the destinies of other oppressed nations for the sake of their personal vested interests.”


I think that this has gone too far. Both the Republicans and the Democrats must take their game of chicken elsewhere. On the national stage, neither party looks favorable in the public eye when they put the nation’s livelihood and security at stake. Let’s get it together, people.


Tool of the Week: Level Money


Admittedly, as a millennial, traditional budgeting strategies just don’t work for me. It’s difficult to pre-determine budgets for groceries, clothing, entertainment, transportation etc. when my weekly routines haven’t really become routine. Some things may stay the same, like the rent or bills, but other purchases are made under the philosophy of #YOLO (You Only Live Once).


We save on what we can, like groceries and transportation, so that we can splurge on those small luxuries, like a no-holds-barred night out or a six-pack of private reserve barrel select Woodchuck cider (which has bourbon in it. Just saying), to celebrate our youth.


Thus, mobile apps that budget according to category, like Mint, don’t work as well as they should. Enter Level Money, a new iPhone app on a mission to rethink traditional budgeting strategies to accommodate spontaneity.


“Millennials want to be able to buy that $12 beer or $4 latte, whatever makes us happy on an impulsive basis, to do the things that fulfill us,” explains co-founder Jake Fuentes. “But we need to know when we’ve hit the limit.”


Thus, the app shows you one big number – a “Money Meter” – that represents how much money you have left to spend for the day. They consider only three divisions of money:

  1. What  you make
  2. What you set aside for bills
  3. What  you save


How you spend the rest of your money is completely left up to you. They also automatically recognize gross outliers – like a plane ticket home for the holidays or a corporate catering order you’ll get reimbursed for later – as “unusual spending” to be left out of your daily totals. This saves you from those pesky alerts of “overspending”.


What do you think of this new way to budget? Do you prefer more freedom or more rigidity in your budgeting strategy?


Under the Radar: The #Duffingate Scandal


Some risks pay off, while others lead to social media scandal. Starbucks learned this the hard way this week with the release of their “duffin”, a donut-muffin hybrid made with the intention of capitalizing on the current hybrid pastry craze.


Created with a buttermilk base, hint of nutmeg, and raspberry jam complete with a trademarked name, the Starbucks duffin appeared on permanent menus in 730 UK stores. The problem? The small London bakery chain Bea’s of Bloomsbury has the same duffin, only they have been baking it for years. Due to the trademark, the original duffin bakery now found itself unable to sell their own creation.


What’s a small business to do when pitted up against the big dogs in this digital media age? Start a social media campaign, of course. Bea’s cleverly spread awareness of this situation via Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #Duffingate.


On Facebook, Bea’s posted:

I understand that Starbucks UK wants to cash in on this hybrid dessert craze—I get that. But to make a product that uniquely contains buttermilk, nutmeg, and raspberry jam, and to have the name duffin, not doughnut muffin, and to have claimed that their team of ‘bakers’ came up with it magically on their own, seems a bit odd to me, particularly when the British baking lexicon isn’t heavy on nutmeg or buttermilk. The most likely story is their marketing/sales team was like “we need to get in on this” and then told their factory supplier “this is what we want.”

It’s obvious I think to where their duffin was inspired from. They should just give credit where credit is due and not claim it for themselves.”


Hordes of people have joined the anti-Starbucks movement upon discovering the #Duffingate scandal.


Who are you rooting for?


Around the Hub: Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards

40 under 40

Last night, 451 Marketing and a whole lot of Boston businesses stepped out in style at International Place for the Boston Business Journal (BBJ)’s 40 Under 40 awards. For the past three years, the BBJ has hosted the 40 Under 40 awards to recognize and celebrate the next wave of talent and commitment (rising stars, if you will) in the Boston economy.


Chosen from more than 250 nominations, our very own Thomas Lee, Senior Partner here at 451 Marketing, was among the honorees recognized for his instrumental role in driving the success and innovation of our agency and the PR industry as a whole.


The Boston Business Journal partnered with Citi Performing Arts Center to sweeten the celebration with charitable giving. Each honoree was given three words in acceptance speeches for free. After that, each word represented a $25 donation to Citi Performing Arts Center, which believes that it is a right, not a privilege, for every youth to have a creative life, experience art, and express themselves creatively regardless of skill level and/or socioeconomic status.


Always eager to support a good cause, Tom began his speech:

There once was a man from Nantucket…”


As the night when on, it was increasingly evident that Boston is in very good hands. Every honoree displayed palpable passion for their work, team, families, and communities. It was truly inspirational.


What an incredible night it was. The endless bounty of food from Gourmet Caterers, wine from 90+ Cellars, and beer from Samuel Adams didn’t hurt either.


What did you think of the evening?

A PPC Do: Know Your PPC Don’ts

10 Pay Per Click Steps to Reduce Costs and Increase PPC Conversions

If you’re in the communications industry even if you’re not a search marketing pro, chances are you’ve heard the acronym PPC thrown around more than a few times. PPC, or pay-per-click, is one of the most common models of internet advertising. PPC ads are those display or banner ads you see down the side of most websites like Google and Facebook.

Like most things in life, the PPC advertising model can garner immensely successful results just as easily as it can lead to unsatisfying ones. They can provide a huge return on investment or they can quickly sap the advertising dollars while providing few results.

Beyond cultivating the best of the best PPC practices, it is also important to avoid some common mistakes. As such, we’ve compiled a list of common mistakes every PPC manager should be aware of when managing a client’s account:

1. Budget Management

Deciding how much you’re willing to spend on certain keywords isn’t always easy. If the budget is too high, clients aren’t happy; too low, the keywords may not be competitive. The goal is to find that happy medium: to make full use of the budget and have the ads displaying as long as possible. Long-tail keywords can often help in lowering the cost as they’re less competitive.

2. Bing

Everyone knows advertising on Google, but have you considered Bing? Bing is worth paying more attention to. We can move the successful ad campaigns from Google to Bing and optimize them to perform better, since the way Bing’s audience response is always different from that of Google. Hence, those poorly-performed Google ads may be successful after optimizing on Bing.

3. Keyword Match Types

There are 3 different match types (or 4 if you count Broad Match Modifier separate from Broad Match), as well as negative keywords. Carefully choosing which match types are best to use is important for finding the right balance between maximum reach and maximum efficiency.

4. Campaign Settings

Make the most of all of the targeting options at the campaign level. Make sure you are geo-targeting correctly, targeting the right language, and breaking out search and display campaigns separately.

5. Ad Group Organization

Separating different products or services into different ad groups allows their associated keywords and ads to be more relevant to each other which increases the chance that the ads will get clicked on.

 6. Keyword Considerations and AdWords Quality Score

AdWords Quality Score not only gives an insight into the likelihood of the success of ad campaigns, but also determines the pricing and placement of ads. Poor keyword relevance between ads and landing page will translate into expensive ads. Remember, it’s an inverse relationship: the lower QS, the higher bid. Be willing to make the necessary changes such as including the key terms on the landing pages, adding negatives to the account, and writing ads that are tailored to the keywords in an ad group.

7. Landing Pages

Landing page should be very specific and tailored to the PPC ad that brought people to the page. If people have to look through the website to find what they are looking for, they may just leave. You should focus landing pages on the specific product or keyword the ad is referring to and be sure to create a specific call to action.

Remember target audience when creating your landing pages. Take into consideration their level of understanding of the keywords used. Make sure to have a call to action on the pages and place trust factors/testimonials on the pages themselves.

 8. Conversion Tracking

At a bare minimum, you should be utilizing AdWords tracking as well as Bing tracking (if you’re advertising on Bing). You should also make sure the tracking is accurate. Another free tracking option is Google Analytics. It takes a little more sophistication, but easily determines Cost per Acquisition and/or ROAS goals using this.

 9. Visually Unappealing Website

Many small businesses don’t have large budgets for marketing and promotion and they typically try to pinch pennies on their website. What they may not realize is they are costing themselves a lot more money over the long term with a website that is ugly, confusing, and dysfunctional.

Small business owners should consider stretching their budgets a bit to improve their website design and marketing. Maybe that means hiring a professional website designer or maybe it means spending more time with a higher quality (and more expensive) website builder.

10. Ad Copy

The ad copy will be seen in the first place when searchers type the keywords. So it is key point whether the potential customers will visit the website or not. Good ads are attractive and convincing with a call to action, however, poorly-written ads are the killer of the campaign. As a result, how well the ads are written can be the determining factor to the general PPC marketing strategies.

With 50% of people arriving at a retailers site from paid ads more likely to buy than those who came from an organic link, PPC ads can clearly make a difference in your sales goals. What do you think of our list?