Category: Member Blog

Event Recap — Festivals Forever: How CMO’s Are Navigating Change

By Sam Olmsted Member Blog

Festivals Forever

New Orleans is known for its richness in culture, music, food, people, and, of course, festivals. Festivals combine all our city’s passions and manifest themselves as an afternoon block party, a two-week extravaganza, and everything in between. 

In our recent event, Festivals Forever: How CMO’s Are Navigation Change, we spoke with the leaders of some of New Orleans’ most well-known festivals to understand how they have adapted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our discussion was moderated by New Orleans & Company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Romig, who spoke with an impressive panel that included:

While each of these panelists works hard to put on their festivals, each festival is vastly different from the others in regards to their missions, audiences, demographics, and budgets. In a typical year, New Orleans would host over 130 festivals, bringing in over 19 million visitors and over $10 billion in direct spending in the city.

What Did New Orleans Festivals Do in 2020?

In 2020, all of these festivals were put on hold, dramatically altering the cultural and economic landscape of the city. Each festival embraced a different approach in reaction to the setback. 

Jazz Fest, the largest and longest-running of the three festivals, took the lead in their response. After canceling the festival in 2020, Jazz Fest worked with its partners, specifically WWOZ, to start a movement they called “Festing in Place.” Traditionally, the marketing behind Jazz Fest is very grassroots. Most notably, the lineup release gets shared organically across social media. Festing in Place gave Jazz Fest fans a time to celebrate by themselves alongside an entire digital community. People flocked to social media to share how, when, and in what manner they were Festing in Place, creating a format that could be followed by other festivals. “Festing in Place was obviously a huge success, emotionally more than anything,” Goldman stated. 

For Beignet Fest and other charitable festivals, their cause helped keep interest alive. Collins noted that a call-to-action corresponding with the idea of Festing in Place would allow the festival to make its grants and continue with its original mission of embracing and enhancing the lives of children with developmental delays and disabilities.

Hogs for the Cause took yet another approach. This festival is mainly driven by individual teams who spend months preparing for this event. After canceling the festival in 2020, the festival leaders wanted to remain committed to those participants, worrying that they may move on and gain other interests. Hogs for the Cause came roaring back in 2021, this time with limited capacity. Interestingly enough, the limited capacity and the city’s craving for live events meant that the festival sold out almost immediately.

How Does Festival Marketing Work in New Orleans?

Marketing for New Orleans festivals has changed over the years. With the rise of digital marketing and social media, many festival organizers are pushing their budgets online. However, our panelists recognized that you first have to understand your audience and segment your messaging based on demographics. 

When discussing Jazz Fest, Goldman mentioned that local radio is still a large driving force to get people to the event. With each station, you have to highlight different headliners in your ads to address the specific audience. For Beignet Fest, Collins noted that there are typically two audiences she speaks to — those interested in the festival and those interested in their charitable mission. Knowing where those audiences spend their time can help her direct her marketing budget to the right spaces. Finally, Hall mentions that his audiences on Facebook are different from those on Instagram, and he changes his Hogs for the Cause messaging accordingly for each platform. 

Every panelist touched on the fact that sponsors and partners are a huge part of their marketing plan. By leveraging existing relationships and partners with a shared interest, festivals are able to get their message to a much wider audience. They mentioned the importance of grassroots social media posts as a way to bring authenticity to their message and promote it even further in the digital landscape. 

When discussing how they use vendors to market the festivals, each had a different response. “Our food vendors are some of our biggest ambassadors,” said Collins. “We’ve been able to leverage larger brands. We love when our food vendors advocate for us.” Goldman noted: “Our vendors are participants. They’re a part of the festival at this point. They’ve been out there 20, 30, or 40 years. They have always been part of the branding and part of the ambassadors.” Hall added, “Our teams are our biggest ambassadors.”

Marketing Festivals After COVID-19

Moving forward, every festival organizer hopes to get back to pre-pandemic levels of participation. Despite the minor setbacks, they are energized by the continued interest in their events and the resiliency of their fans and participants. We hope to see them all at the next festival so we can continue to embrace the cultural and economic benefits of these events.

Sign up for upcoming AMA New Orleans events today!

October Luncheon to Feature Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

By Tristan Babin Blog

AMA’s October Luncheon, which will feature artificial intelligence in marketing, is set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 18 at Greater New Orleans (GNO) Inc. at 1100 Poydras Street in New Orleans

Elonide Semmes

The luncheon will be hosted by Right Hat founder Elonide Semmes who will discuss how artificial intelligence is transforming industry, where it can be found in business and what ethical and legal implications it may have.

Semmes founded Right Hat specifically to help companies and schools better articulate their intangible value. Where many branding agencies are hyperfocused on the design of marketing materials, she marries exceptional design with deep thinking about how buyers think. Most recently she led an 18-month initiative for the International Legal Marketing Association (LMA) on artificial intelligence. She is also a member of the LMA Hall of Fame..

Get Tickets

Tickets are $10 for members $25 for non-members and are available here. 

The New Orleans Chapter of the American Marketing Association is a professional organization run by a volunteer board that serves the local marketing community by providing educational programming, resources and networking opportunities. More information about AMA New Orleans can be found at

AMA March Luncheon to Feature Neuroscientist

By Tristan Babin Blog

Neuroscientist Ryan McGarry

Head Neuroscientist Ryan McGarry with SPARK Neuro is set to speak to marketing professionals at 11:30 a.m. at a March 21 luncheon at Fidelity Bank 1811 Metairie Avenue Metairie LA 70005.

The New Orleans chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) is sponsoring the luncheon that will be open to both members and non-members.

In addition to serving as the head neuroscientist, McGarry also serves as the vice president at SPARK Neuro; a company that uses advanced neuroscience tools to measure audience engagement. Currently, McGarry leads research studies involving biometric devices including eye tracking, facial expression recognition, Electroencephalography (EEG) measuring brain activity, Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) measuring nervous system activity, and heart rate measurement.

AMA New Orleans organizes monthly luncheons to invite speakers from around the country to educate marketing professionals on topics including: social media, customer acquisition, positioning and public relations.

Get Tickets

Tickets are $30 for non-members of AMA, $20 for members and are available on the organization’s website here.

The New Orleans Chapter of the American Marketing Association is a professional organization run by a volunteer board that serves the local marketing community by providing educational programming, resources and networking opportunities. More information about AMA New Orleans can be found at

“Know me!” —The Personalization Revolution

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

By Sandra Jordan, MNI Targeted Media

Knowing your consumers and their habits will be the key to engagement and success in 2016.

  • 56% of consumers say that the most important element of their retail experience is that the information shared with them online is relevant to what they are currently interested in or looking to buy.
  • 52% want relevant content that considers their personal taste, style, age group, or location.
  • 36% of shoppers say real-time, personalized offers on their mobile devices as they enter a store would enhance their shopping experience.

*Source: eMarketer, August 2015; eMarketer, October 2015.


Let’s Get Personal

Consumer-facing businesses are tackling the challenge of personalization. Get ahead of the competition and reach the consumers who are most likely to move your bottom line.

  • Consumer Targeting—Reach consumers who frequently shop online, based on their browsing behavior, online purchases, and shopping cart abandonment.
  • Influencer Marketing—Partner with key people who have influence over your potential consumers and who are in-market for your products.
  • Contextual Targeting—Reach customers who are visiting relevant shopping content.
  • Search and Site Retargeting—Target individuals who are constantly seeking information online.
  • In-App Targeting—Reach shoppers who are constantly glued to their devices.
  • Geo-Fencing—Serve ads to consumers who are performing searches on their mobiles in-store.

Value-Based Pricing Strategy

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

One of the main issues faced when releasing a new product or service is how much to charge. There are many different pricing strategies; however, few companies use a pricing strategy that is focused on the customer as opposed to the product or service. Value-based pricing is a pricing strategy which sets the price of the product or service on the perceived or estimated value to the customer rather than on the cost of the product, competitor prices, or historical prices.

Traditional pricing strategies do not incorporate market research to determine the optimal price for the product or service. With value-based pricing, research (typically in the form of a survey and multivariate statistical modeling) is conducted so the product or service is launched with minimal to no adverse effect on consumer perception due to incorrect pricing. Determining the optimal price for a product or service is critical to its success. Charge too much, and the product or service will not sell; charge too little, and your product or service is fixed in the market at a low level. Of the two, charging too little is by far the worst choice as raising a products’ price often proves to be extremely difficult.

Q2 Value Graph

Calculating the optimal price point is a science. According to a McKinsey & Company analysis of the typical S&P 1500 company, a price rise of 1%, if volumes remain stable, can lead to a profit increase of 8%. However, the opposite also stands true, a price of 1% less than the optimal price can lead to a loss of 8% of its potential profit. Changes in variable costs such as lower material cost and labor do not impact profit margins nearly as much as having correct pricing. While some companies believe that a lower price will lead to increased sales volumes, this rarely happens. In the same McKinsey & Company analysis, volumes have to rise by almost 19% to offset a 5% price cut.

So how do we determine the value of a product or service to consumers to determine the optimal price? There are several methodologies that may be employed on their own or in conjunction with others. One of the classic approaches is using the Van Westendorp method with a Revenue Forecast Extension. The method asks consumers a series of questions relating to their purchasing intent based on price. Next, a range of acceptable prices and an optimum price point based on an analysis of price and value ratings obtained from consumers is calculated. The Revenue Forecast Extension is then used to determine the optimal price taking purchase intent into account.

Another approach used is the Discrete Choice Model. Consumers are asked to choose between two or more hypothetical products or services at different price levels. The resulting model includes a simplified description of reality that provides a better understanding of how consumers make their choice. A well-constructed model allows for multiple scenarios within the model and can optimize price and brand position. With Discrete Choice, a company can project their potential market share among key competitors.

A newer methodology is Maximum Difference (Maxdiff). Maxdiff uses customer trade off rather than usual rating scales responses. Consumers identify the best and worst choice from a variety of groupings of three or more products or services at different prices. The order of questions is randomized and price levels are randomly assigned. A discrete choice model and a simulator are developed. Modification of price within the simulator allows the client to quickly identify what happens to demand as price increases or decreases.

The application of Monte Carlo Simulation to pricing takes in to account the customer’s price value perception, product, variable fixed costs, and market size. Several levels of price are tested for a given product. The resulting analysis shows the penetration of the product or service at each price point. Typically the model output is presented in an Excel spreadsheet. The key benefit of this approach is that it allows the client to run multiple “what if” scenarios by changing the parameters in the worksheet.

There are various methods to determine the optimal price for a product or service based on the perceived or estimated value to the customer. A value-based pricing strategy allows companies to launch new products and services with reduced risk and confidence that the success will not be hindered by sub-optimal pricing.


Xavier Alvarez is a Project Analyst at Q2 Insights, a market research consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans.

Identifying Restaurant Choice Decision Drivers Using Research

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

When making a restaurant choice what is often first discussed is the proximity of the restaurant, the time available to dine (a quick bite to eat or a leisurely meal) and the type of cuisine desired. However, there are many other critical drivers of restaurant choice that are at work in our minds though not often discussed with our dining companions. These elements may be summed to the way a restaurant makes us feel. People don’t usually discuss how a restaurant makes them feel when making a restaurant choice. These feelings tend to be subliminal, though they are critical. How a restaurant “presents itself” overall tends to have a huge impact on choice.

Restaurateurs often engage researchers to identify what attracts guests to their restaurant, what they need to keep doing or do more of to keep guest coming back, and what changes they need to make to attract more guests. Too often the research conducted focuses on the obvious, such as the menu, and it fails to uncover all the critical elements of the restaurant experience that drive restaurant choice. (Menu optimization is, of course, critical to any restaurant … but that’s a topic for another blog post.) Restaurant choice is not just about the menu, but the way the restaurant makes people feel.

Any researcher specializing in restaurants worth her salt will delve deeply into understanding not just the rational and oft discussed drivers of behavior, but the emotional drivers of behavior. As we delve into understanding behavioral drivers of restaurant choice we must also consider the atmosphere, the servers, the interactions, operations, environmental factors and other factors.

Let’s delve more deeply, beyond menu selection and flavor or quantity of food, into two of the several key attributes to consider when generating insights about the drivers of restaurant choice.


Consumers are not particularly adept at describing a restaurant atmosphere. To crack this nut, it is useful to employ projective techniques to uncover both the rational and emotional elements of atmosphere. Some restaurants are sophisticated and exciting, some are a comfortable hole in the wall and are the best kept secret in town, some are edgy, hip and cool. In addition to what might be visually apparent, some restaurants might make some feel like they are “snuggled up in a comfy quilt” while others might make them feel “rushed, unimportant, and just a number.”

It is important to describe the restaurant atmosphere and it is crucial to marry a thorough understanding of atmosphere to other critical factors such as:

  • The personality characteristics of those who are most likely to be attracted to the restaurant
  • The place and time of the person, couple or group making the decision (e.g. a midday work lunch or just completing a 30 mile morning bike ride)
  • Whether the restaurant lends itself to planned or spur of the moment dining


Most of us know that how we are treated from the time we walk in the door to the time we walk out the door can make or break a dining experience. But what are the underlying emotional drivers that affect the service experience? Often, during qualitative depth interviews with restaurant guests, examples of not feeling welcomed, not feeling appreciated, and to some extent being ignored or forgotten are shared both when researchers probe directly as well as spontaneously when guests answer seemingly unrelated questions. Some restaurants leave guests feeling they are “one in the herd” while others leave guests feeling “they are happy to see me” or even “part of the family.” How one feels they are served is woven through the entire dining experience and affects restaurant choice.

It is important to cross-examine these feelings and needs with factors such as:

  • Guest profiles
  • The frequency with which guests visit the restaurant
  • Needs states addressed by the restaurant

There are many drivers of restaurant choice beyond the assumed menu selection and food flavor, portion, and value that is often associated with it. Proximity of the restaurant, the time available to dine (a quick bite to eat or a leisurely meal) and the type of cuisine desired are obvious drivers, but a strong undercurrent of emotional drivers often trump the rational drivers and should be explored thoroughly to understand their impact on choice.

Kirsty Nunez is founder and President of Q2 Insights. Lori Enfield is Senior Market Research Project Manager at Q2 Insights. Q2 Insights, Inc., is a market research consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans.

How To Know An Insight When You See One

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

The term “insights” is an oft-bandied-about term in marketing circles. As often as the term is used, it is clear that not everyone understands the difference between an insight, a research finding, a data point, and an opinion.

In the world of market research, an insight is something that was not previously articulated or understood by the brand. A rich insight is something that pushes the brand forward in a unique way. An insight is typically a discovered fact about the market that when leveraged will ultimately generate additional or increased profits. Most of the time insights are ancillary to the answers clients desire but are always well received.

Insights come about in a few ways. Qualitatively, they are borne of listening, really listening to customers. Alternatively, it is that ah ha moment that occurs after pushing for greater and greater depth of understanding. Quantitatively, insights might be the result of multivariate statistical modeling that allows the researcher to view patterns of data in different ways. It is often the case that insights occur when we consider data (qualitative and / or quantitative) holistically rather than looking at individual variables.

Regardless of how insights come about, they are often (but not always) unique to brand need states, customer motivations, or unspoken brand truths. Insights must be believable, actionable, and have practical applications. Rich insights are critical to the development of value propositions, brand positioning, and brand strategies and they often form the basis marketing communications.

An insight is not a data point, a personal opinion, or an answer to a research objective.

Not so long ago we conducted an advertising pre-test of a series of television commercials that were designed to curb drunk driving among young males. We tested advertisements that were generally very successful in their shock value but did not seem to have the desired outcome of causing the viewer to consider changing their attitude and behavior. During the course of this evaluation we discovered that what the target audience really cared about was how much of a hassle it is to get a DUI, which involves traffic court, fines, and community service. Ah ha! We reported a series of insights around this finding along with the general study findings about the advertisements tested, and conclusions and recommendations. The following year the anti-DUI campaign focused on the sentiments these young men had about DUIs, thus becoming more relatable and therefore more likely to cause the target audience to consider changing their attitudes and behaviors.

Data-based findings, whether from qualitative or quantitative data, answer clients’ questions. The value add comes from gleaning those little gold nuggets we call insights from the research and is why it is important to dig deep for rich insights. Identifying insights as opposed to a finding or data point or personal opinion is tough. But those who do become masters.

Kirsty Nunez is founder and President of Q2 Insights, Inc., a market research consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans

Aligning Big Data with Market Research

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

Data are constantly generated by multitudes of systems and processes around us. Every digital process and social media exchange contributes to Big Data. Systems, sensors, and mobile devices transmit data that are compiled as Big Data. These data are used by some to describe and predict human behavior and interactions. Big Data is also used for tracking and extraction of meaning.

Researchers often strive to answer five basic questions. Some refer to these as the “Five W’s:” Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Traditionally, market researchers employ methodologies to answer all five questions.

Four components of the Five W’s are provided by structured Big Data and other data sources.

  • The who question identifies the various players in a problem or solution.
  • The what question tries to ascertain what consumers are buying, trends, and services used.
  • The when question considers various time based events and activities such as when customers are buying products or services, e.g. day part, date range, or life stage, etc.
  • The where question addresses geographic and/or logistical aspects of a solution.

Big Data allows market researchers to answer some questions without interviewing or surveying existing and potential customers. However, with the advent of Big Data and sophisticated data mining techniques there is no need to create data if the data already exists. Of course, traditional methodologies such as surveys still need to be employed when there isn’t a data set for every question or set of questions. Also, market research methodologies are still required to tackle the most important question of the Five W’s – the Why. Knowing why our customers and clients choose to behave the way they do is highly critical to being able to tailor our products and services to them.

Why is the why question the most important and hardest to discern? Simply put, humans are inconsistent, impulsive, dynamic, and subtle. Emotional, rational, and irrational drivers of behavior cannot be explained by Big Data and analytics. Additionally, as Big Data becomes more and more prevalent and accessible, the number of questions pertaining to customers’ emotional, psychological, and irrational motivations will increase. Answering the why question is most effectively achieved by the integration of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies with qualitative being used to answer the why question and quantitative being used to verify and quantify the findings.

Qualitative methods used to answer the why may include focus groups, in-depth interviews, observation (ethnography), social networks, and guided online chats. Applied appropriately, these methods will result in a collection of textual, visual and oral data that will need to be analyzed through textual analysis. This qualitative analysis provides insight into customers’ attitudes, behaviors, and their thought processes.

While Big Data is sometimes touted as the magic bullet to address all market research questions, it is not the answer to all questions and insights to be obtained. Big Data has its place in the array of market research methodologies and is an ever growing presence. Before Big Data, primary research conducted by market researchers focused on what was happening. Now with that requirement increasingly solved by Big Data, market researchers can focus on why there are deviations from trends. Nothing beats knowing why people make the choices they do. Big Data finds the patterns, market researchers test the hypotheses.

Xavier Alvarez is a Project Analyst at Q2 Insights, a market research consulting firm with offices in New Orleans and San Diego. He can be reached at (985) 867-9494 or

Considering Making the Switch from Agency to In-House?

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

Determining the next move in your career path is a tough decision especially when changing from agency to in-house communications. While yes it is all PR and based on the same principles, strategies and tactics the daily work style, skill set and environment can be drastically different.

Often times the attraction to an agency is the multiple clients, the variety of industries, the camaraderie of other communications professionals and even the swank office. Agency PR pros are talking to media daily and don’t typically have politics to deal with since they don’t directly work for the companies they represent.

If you are considering leaving time sheets in the past, for stability, security and routine make sure the switch it is a fit for you and an answer to what you are trying to leave behind. The pros of working in-house does typically include better health benefits, more opportunity for advancement and fewer barriers to implement new PR programs.

“In-house, you are constantly building off of the previous work you have done, have a far deeper level of exposure, a greater variety of tasks and a more vested personal interested in the success of the organization,” says to Tim Whitman, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Application Security, Inc.

But also think of the negatives of in-house communications such as a supervisor who is not really sure what it is that you do, fewer tools to help do your job and the lack of working in a communications team for idea exchanges.

PR pros that come from agency background are sometimes better prepared to make the transition to an in-house practitioner. “I gained experience/exposure by working on multiple accounts, on multiple account teams, reporting to multiple managers, all with tight deadlines,” says Mark LoCastro, Public Relations Manager. “The skills I’ve acquired at an agency are invaluable for my in-house role.”

When considering making the switch from agency to in-house communications contemplate the following:

  • Have an understanding if the company you are considering joining a good fit, not only from a business prospective and what you want to be doing, but organizationally as well.
  • Analyze if the company personality matches yours.
  • Interview your potential colleagues as much as they are interviewing you.
  • At an agency you do not get to choose the clients you work on so switching in-house offers that unique opportunity. Be sure the company mission and subject matter interest you.
  • Know what your upward mobility opportunities look like.

“I encourage people to move in-house, provided the environment is one they have reason to believe will engage their energy and their intellect,” says Joshua M. Peck, Senior Manager, Duane Morris LLP. “I believe that working with one company deepens one’s relationship with the work and makes one more effective to develop and shape messaging.”

This article originally appeared on
Read more: Considering Making the Switch from Agency to In-House? | PRBreakfastClub

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