Word of mouth is the #1 influence on business purchase decisions and is best leveraged through face-to-face marketing efforts, according to a new study of US and UK executives conducted by market research firm the Keller Fay Group and sponsored by experiential marketing agency Jack Morton Worldwide.

Word of mouth-one person sharing marketing-relevant information with another person-is far more influential for business executives than other communication channels. Fifty percent of business executives report they are highly likely to buy a product or service based on word of mouth; 49% pass on what they've heard to others. Executives report that word of mouth has more than twice the influence of advertising, direct mail or press coverage on purchase decisions.

Want to promote something? Enlist a Millennial.

Call them Gen Y or Millennials or just "people ages 13-24." Whatever the name, this group spreads the word quickly on things it likes and enjoys user-generated content, according to the "State of the Media Democracy" report commissioned by Deloitte & Touche and conducted by Harrison Group.

Ever notice how difficult it is to buy a cheap umbrella when it's already pouring out? Were you one of those poor saps trying to find a Wii the week before Christmas?

Consumer engagement is all about connecting with people in settings that allow advertising to break through.

The report -- "Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing: Targeting Children and Youth in the Digital Age" -- documents in vivid detail how major food, soft drink and fast food brands are deploying a panoply of new techniques -- including cell phones, instant messaging, video games, user-generated video, and three-dimensional virtual worlds -- to target children and adolescents, often under the radar of parents. The report also reveals a range of new digital strategies these marketers have devised for targeting multicultural youth, including African Americans and Hispanics.

Traditional theorists imagined America as a melting pot; a place where all cultures mixed and merged into one, homogenized society. But what these early theorists didn’t count on was that many people not only fight to keep aspects of their original culture, they also pass these aspects down from generation to generation and even across from culture to culture.

America is culturally complex and the way it changes is fluid and constant. Cultural barriers are breached as immigrants flow into the country. The resultant inter-mixing of customs and values transforms the landscape.

RightNow provides a strategic solution to drive superior customer experiences ...while dramatically reducing costs.

Fact: 90% of internet users and over 56% of Americans use email on a regular basis.

Are your messages relevant, delivered, opened and acted upon? This whitepaper details five new 1 to 1 rules of email marketing and covers the trends, strategies and tactics marketers need to know.

Campaigners hit the 'Send' button.

E-mail is the online tactic of choice for promotional marketers, according to a PROMO magazine survey.

The magazine found that 72.6% of respondents used e-mail marketing as part of their online efforts. Another 60.8% used e-mail newsletters.

Online/Mobile Marketing Tactics Used by US Marketers, February-March 2007 (% of respondents)

Promotional marketers said online methods were gaining popularity overall.

In preparation for the Email Insider Summit happening this week, we sent out a survey to the attendees asking about various issues facing them. While I will be presenting the details at the Summit itself, I thought I would provide some of the more interesting results here.

One of the most controversial and potentially confusing aspects of any marketing campaign is measuring the results, due in no small part to the proliferation of media and media outlets that have exponentially increased in the last 20 years.

After getting a taste of online advertising, many consumer packaged goods marketers seem to like it.

Food and beverage advertisers cut spending in nearly every major media last year - except the Internet.

This year, eMarketer estimates this category will spend $288 million advertising online, a 36.6% increase over 2006.

US Online Advertising Spending by Food and Beverage Companies, 2006-2011 (millions).

Why has Internet advertising become a meat-and-potatoes buy for food and drink marketers?

If you want to understand what the future of marketing could look like and how to be successful at it, I have found the book for you. It is PryoMarketing by Greg Stielstra. I was fortunate to be speaking at the Mountain Travel Symposium last week -- the end-of-year get-together for the ski and mountain travel industry -- and got to hear him speak. It was the first time that I have heard someone truly make sense of what is behind social or word-of- mouth marketing, and present a very practical approach to making these techniques work in the field. It was refreshing to hear this.

No surprises here -- the Association of National Advertisers has found, that marketers' main goal continues to be building and maintaining brand equity.

I'm planning my Fall back-to- school strategy and I want to stand out creatively from the clutter in the Hispanic teen market. What are some out-of-the- box or non-traditional methods that I can use?

Mobile audio is a promising opportunity that has not yet been fully exploited. That is the conclusion of a landmark study by Arbitron and Telephia that examines the evolving market for mobile audio services from the consumer point of view in terms of current usage patterns, attitudes and preferences.

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