May 29, 2008

Sizing up Agencies: Check out the chic clothes

After yesterday's heady post on Ad guys and their socks, Shana challenged me to take on Ad women and their shoes. I'm definitely up for a dare, but...

I have a new hypothesis:  A woman's shoes say more about her agency than about her personal style

Part of an agency's culture is how it looks. From super casual to buttoned-up, from flip flops to stilettos, women take cues from their co-workers about how to dress and just what exactly will be seen as cool and compliment-able. The agency uniform may have different colors and styles, but it's still part of what defines the place...

Allow me to illustrate with these cases:

The look: Stilettos and crisp jeans
Type of agency you're likely in: These women wear their effortless style like their easy brand leadership. They're from a big name agency. Maybe the biggest one in town. They walk by a bulging awards case on the way to a white table cloth lunch on a patio. They're the agency people come to town talking about.

The look: Casual skirts, eclectic prints and modern flats
Type of agency you're likely in: These women are from an agency of specialists. Likely small and choosy. A little green, a little quirky. They eat their yogurt and soy on the patio behind their office. Clients who work with them swear by them. Most everyone else says - wait, who?

The look: Pencil skirts and pumps
Type of agency you're likely in: First up, they probably changed their shoes. These women are from a hip, urban agency. They're practical - probably came to work in walking shoes, probably have a process that "works every time."  They grab something for lunch on the run. Always have a granola bar and a slightly overripe piece of fruit on their desks, right beside three projects only half done. Clients trust their brand, but aren't always inspired by their work.

The look: Hoodies and pumas
Type of agency you're likely in: Well, first up, you're in the Midwest. This is the only place they even sell hoodies. Beyond that - you're probably at an agency that grew fast, that uses lots of young (read: cheap) talent and believes they work and play hard. Although, really, they probably scrape by on deadlines and have had quite enough of each other by the end of the day (thank you). They might split a pizza or divvy up meeting leftovers for lunch. They have a small front team and a big back office. They have lots of legends.

The look: Church clothes and practical shoes
Type of agency you're likely in: Market research. Enough said.

The look: Flowing pants and strappy sandals or knee-high boots (depending on the season)
Type of agency you're likely in: These women have a lot of corporate clients. They work in a big shop with lots of little practices. They spend a lot of time in front of people who they need to impress, but they also just spend a lot of time - long days, big commitments. They microwave calorie-controlled choices for lunch and sneak handfuls of mini reeses cups in the afternoon. They might be in a suburb and likely specialize in PR or niche advertising. People know them by their client roster.

The look: Corduroys and uggs or crocs 
Type of agency you're likely in: The local college assigned "open your own agency" as a class project. Or the freelancers are loose in the conference room.

May 28, 2008

Sizing up Ad Guys: Check out the socks

Say you're at a networking event or, worse, crammed in a packed house waiting for the local Addys to light up the night. You're likely being glad handed and checked out by any number of agency types ... from the ones you'd love to work for to the ... well, ones you'd rather avoid.

Quickly sorting out who to talk to and who to nudge out of the way to reach the buffet used to be a lot easier. Men flaunted their personality in ties, pocket squares, glasses, briefcases ... but, now that the ties have long let loose to open collars and Lasik has left most faces rimless, well... what's left?

The last vestige of male gives: the socks.

How to know what kind of Ad guy you're talking to by his socks:

  • Basic black: Chances are you're talking to the new biz guy. Used to spending his day traveling from one cliche corporate headquarters to another, he's mastered the skill of the chameleon - blending in to his environs as if he had been there all along. Save the snazzy socks for those arty guys.

    But, there's a chance, too, that you're dealing with the most treacherous kind of ad guy: the irrelevant middle manager who doesn't yet know he's irrelevant. This guy had a good year. An incredible year. A year that has made the agency loyal to him. Sadly, that year was over a decade ago. And since then, things have been ... well, slow and sometimes, frankly, embarrassing. But, like the aging athlete who once won the big game in high school, this guy still believes he's in the glory years. Align with him and take on all his gossipy baggage as your very own.

    To tell the difference between these basic blacks, check the shoes. The new biz guy's will be plain and shiny. The irrelevant middle manager, genuinely bad. Possibly even striking a jarring and unpleasant contrast to his pants.

  • Striped - horizontal: Ah, this guy. If basic black is the real sales guy, striped horizontal sees himself as the closer. He's the free-wheeling relationship guy. Probably a creative, maybe a strategist. The one who asks about your kids, knows the baseball score and is forgiven for otherwise meeting-inappropriate behavior by the mere fact that everyone loves him. Maybe a former fraternity president or the son of a preacher man, this guy has been center stage his whole life. And, he loves it. He'll be someone you want to meet, but probably won't have a chance to because he'll be busy working his contacts around the room. Hey, Tom, I haven't seen you since [insert event you totally wanted to go to]

  • Striped - vertical: Mr. Orderly. Probably has a heavily marked up to-do list in his pocket. Unless he's under 40 - then, it's probably all tucked away in a well-appointed iPhone. Unless he's wearing a tie - then it's definitely a Blackberry. Mr Orderly likely has one of two jobs - account director or information architect. Either way, he's got it together and can probably help you network your way into his agency castle ... IF You can answer the exacting questions he's chef-ed up to weed out candidates who wouldn't positively reflect on his reputation

  • Colors - bright: Media department.

  • Colors - dull: Oh, the practical creative. The guy who gets the work done. This guy is a little cynical. He's talented, but probably only really shines in one best-at niche. He's got a lot of opinions and big ideas... although, the big ideas are usually about something other than his own job, clients, life. He's great to grouse and drink with... and, could probably help you get your foot in the door, but make no mistake - he's a worker bee (who just might try to convince you he's the one "really" running the show.)

  • Argyle: Ah, prep school. These simple socks will often be paired with grungy jeans and a freshly dry-cleaned white button up. Yeah, he's a suit. A contemporary one. Who summers with his extended family in a great place on a blue lake that his dad rents out for the whole month of August. He drives an amazing car that he treats like shit. He goes about his gig with malaise. Stressed? Nah. He's the one guy who can get through the agency ringer unscathed by urgency. And, importantly, he KNOWS EVERYONE. Well, everyone worth knowing.

  • White: Who invited the production department?

  • None: Web guy! He'll still be talking about the days of playing foosball with Don Norman over beers in the main conference room on a Monday afternoon. A refugee of dot-com, he's trying to make it work in an integrated agency, but is totally jonesing for the days when geeks could be geeks and make a huge fat wad of cash doing it. Better throw in some talk of the newest grand theft auto or feed app to get the chatter flowing.

May 21, 2008

iCitizen Wrapup from Columbus


iCitizen Video from Mark Hillman on Vimeo.

Day 2 of iCitizen kicked off with a slightly homespun look at what exactly we've gotten ourselves into here!? Check out Mark's video of an apparent 'conference crasher' trying to take it all in above.

Casual chats with hosts of the social media cafe (featuring lattes and laptops loaded with dummy accounts and personal tours of all the hottest social apps) reminded us just how new all this really is: Digital-savvy marketers had been sneaking out mid-presentation during Day 1 to ask just what the presenters and audience were talking about. What is Twitter? Lemonade? Kaboodle? And, importantly, can I check my email before I go back in??

2508638766_263b52c75c_2 Over in the blogger bailiwick*, Holly, Karen, David and I were doing about what you'd expect: taking ourselves too seriously, engaging in a little snark, and representing real iCitizens amongst all the talk about people like us...

See pics from iCitizen
Read Karen's live blog
See the Twitter stream

(*gross misuse of a word for the sake of alliteration)

Onto coverage of today's presenters:

Doc Searls—Harvard Fellow at the Berkman Center, Coauthor, The Cluetrain Manifesto

Jump back 5 years. If around that time, someone had started talking about carrying all your music, pictures, and movies on a device that both fit in your pocket and worked as a cell phone, limited-use computer and general personal planner.... well, that person would probably have received a similar response to what Doc Searls got at iCitizen today: sounds intriguing, but what, what?

Doc talked about "vendor relationship manangement." It's what's needed when the "attention economy" makes a decision to act or buy and - thus - becomes the "intention economy." And, has something to do with using your data & personal and logical preferences to define rather than accommodate how you'll buy / share your information / relate to the companies you do business with. Everything from owning your own healthcare data to setting your own privacy expectations to pre-defining how much you'll pay for the exact thing that you really want.

I mentioned the response to a theoretical iPhone 5 years ago because what hangs in the balance for Doc's theory is what "thing" will make his idea concrete and easy vs. wildly theoretical and seeming like a massive-new-responsibility-and-time-investment-this-convenience-girl- wants-nothing-in-the-world-to-do-with.

Check out Andrea's coverage for more background.

Twittering:

  • Doc calls Web "the Net." Love the anachronisms when digital adopters talk 'what's coming'

  • Doc talks about approach - "we list all the things we think are true that no one's talking about" So us.

  • Key driver of open source, not just anyone can create and use, but anyone can IMPROVE IT.

  • Attention economy has evolved to intention economy on the live Web ... what you get when a customers mind is made up.

  • Attention economy until point of decision then intention economy. Using car rental as example of industry without intention.

  • What could car rental do if it knew customer intention. If it stopped "trap and hold" tactics like "car you want or similar"

  • Want to express logical and personal preferences, like no ads when calling tech support or will pay for faster service

  • Doc's point seems to be: smartest people about the right experience are your customers, not your employees or competitiros.

  • Doc pokes at a big box retailer for saying they want to "own the customer." Another term for owning humans? Slavery. Why do we talk that way? Because we're too busy talking to ourselves and not our customers.

  • Doc must be part of RenGen. So far referenced Rousseau, Whitman, Marx ... waiting for the test at this point

  • Doc unfinished biz of Cluetrain is Vendor Relationship Mgt - control by customers who are in free markets & engaging with vendors

  • VRM is not necessarily social because social makes assumption we have power in numbers. We have power as individuals, not from vendors who want to leverage our mass.

  • In identity world, cards /prices/ rels not issued to you. You issue your own card / intention / "RFP" http://snurl.com/29x75

  • Doc's VRM sounds way hard. I don't want to manage my relationship with Target or write a RFP for a blender. I don't have an acquisition dept.

  • In simplest form, Doc's ideas seem like convenience of Canada's Airmiles. www.airmiles.ca - all data in one place for one purpose / reward

  • Bigger than that Doc's approach seems so high engagement and limited in audience ... but says something will come along to make it simple

  • Kind of scares me that I can't get on board with this. Newest ideas coming from oldest guy in room. 30-somethings snarking.

Doc is joined by a panel talking about personal data portability:

Rooley Eliezerov—President and Cofounder, Gigya
Bill Washburn—Executive Director, Open ID
Kelly O'Neill—Commerce Product Marketing Director, ATG

Twittering:

  • Aside: Can I say how impressed I am by how many women are speaking at iCitizen? Largely due to Resource's leaders, but clients, too

  • Reality check from   Kelly: It's important to understand your purchase process and how much engagement / consideration / relationship it will support

  • Bill: OpenID is a movement that comes out of the idea that there's far too much pain around user name / password pairs.

  • Bill: OpenID can also potentially insure that you're not a machine / spam, creates access

  • Bill: Bigger issue than people who don't have access to the Internet is people who choose not to access. They think of it as just a big arcade. We need to build trust.

  • Doc: Any attempt to regulate things we don't understand is dangerous

  • Cool Deborah Schultz just showed up with a powerstrip and a laptop. Love the community power share.

Panel: Have Phone, Will Travel Panel
John Harrobin—SVP of Marketing and Digital Media, Verizon
Will Hodgman—CEO, M:Metrics
Riccardo Spina—Senior Director of Digital Media, Integrated Marketing, Wal-Mart

After the fact, I noticed that there had been no discussion of proximity SMS marketing among this group... would have been interesting to talk about that sort of push / experience content in terms of iCitizen engagement.

Twittering:

  • John launched cellfire. Waiting for that channel to get big. But, might not work wth expectations retail has for coupons (they assume medium impressions, low redemption ... what happens to the bottom line when coupons get convenient?)

  • Wal-Mart guy is unexpectedly chic. Great lime-rimmed glasses and matching polo. Stripey socks? Of course. (Direct tweet revealed: he's a former Resource creative director ... no wonder the on-brand gear)

  • Will says used to buy "FSIs and yidda-yadda, hooda-hooda." Reeeeeally?

  • Riccardo talking about Wal-Mart secret item holiday event. Tested before, on, after Black Friday. Clues via text.

  • Riccardo: Mobile initiative ran under radar until WSJ picked it up then a little top-down panic about what did we do?

  • Riccardo: People find what they need

  • John: Think about text messaging. You only have 160 characters. Have to triple tap to get a letter. And you have to pay for it. If you were to put that through any market research industry, they would say that would never succeed. Today our customers exchange 150 billion messages a year. People tried it and we made it addictive.

Listening to Riccardo reminds me to get back to the argument that, for retailers, you don't have to wait to adopt technology until it's ubiquitous. Tools (like RSS, text) don't have to be for EVERYONE. Rather, they cost-effectively reach people already using them and build relevancy and personalization.

Avinash Kaushik—Analytics Evangelist, Google

Avinash talked about metrics beyond / before the purchase. Calls them "microconversions" - all those valuable behaviors consumers exhibit - and that we should support and track - that aren't buying.

He's one of those presenters who makes everyone giggle and poke their neighbor and generally remember the clever phrasings as much as the content. So, if this Twittering isn't as meaty, don't count it against the presenter, attribute it to my general tendency toward shiny object syndrome.

Twittering:

  • Avinash calls online marketing faith-based behavior. Because we have all this data, but don’t understand the ‘whys’

  • Google analytics uses indexes and visual intelligence ... clarity without "thinking"

  • Online buying isn't "one night stand" - takes 3, 4, more visits to make a purchase

  • Just takes fundemental Qs to uncover insights
    • Why are you here

    • Were you able to complete task you came here to do

    • If not, why not?

  • Example: a pharma site had 90% bounce rate. The call to action and content was perfectly aimed at "buy." But the actual reason people visited was research: where is the product made, how much does it cost, etc. They bounced because they couldn't find what they wanted

  • Most decisions made by HIPPOs – highest paid person's opinion. Furthest removed from customer

  • All the tools I showed you today are free. The insignts have to come from you.

  • Personalization is identifying insights and needs among microsegments

Last panel: Who Keeps Moving the Goalpost? Identifying relevant metrics...
Dr. Robert Leone—Professor, Texas Christian University
Pete Blackshaw—CMO, Nielsen Online
Steve Kahn—VP of Internet Marketing, DSW
Paul Horstmeier—VP of HP.com, Hewlett-Packard

Twittering:

  • Paul: I've seen metrics so abused by marketers; I think we do ourselves a huge disservice

  • Surprised to hear from retailers that there are people in their organizations who should want online metrics, but don't. Isn't retail addicted to numbers of just about any kind?

  • Paul: Challenge is metrics to analytics to consulting. Translate it to something stakeholders would care about. Relevance.

  • Dr Bob: Social media is silver bullet. Something in all the metrics talk made me miss what we're shooting...

  • Dr Bob: Every media writer has a cheat sheet of bloggers they use to inform coverage. Creates echoing effect. How do all connect?

To wrapup:

Thank you to Holly, Nancy, Kelly and the whole Resource crew for doing / showing (not just telling) by including real iCitizens in the conference. For me, it was a great opportunity to be in a room with savvy marketers from truly ubiquitous consumer brands who get that this "social media" phenom has reached critical mass and is an essential part of reputation management and marketing (not just the stuff of "geeks".)

Oh, and can I say - AWESOME how many people read and recognize Advergirl. Who knew everyone from the team at Resource to an exec at Coke would haunt these pages? Love that!

Finally, in closing, I can only say one thing: let's all please come together and find examples of iCitizen impact BEYOND JEFF JARVIS! David Griner got Jarvis Bingo today when he was the first to hear the FOURTH speaker lean on the Dell Hell story.

Advergirl out.

May 20, 2008

iCitizen: Call to open your brand

I camped out on a sideline couch today at Resource Interactive's iCitizen symposium with Holly Davis and David Griner to watch the story of open brands unfold.

Nancy Kramer kicked off the day with our shared win: social media is now accepted by the C-suite.

But as the speakers and audience questions progressed, it became clear that despite support from CEOs and consumers alike, the bigger questions still remained: who to talk to, how to do it and what to expect.

Below, take a look at today’s agenda and a transcript of my live “Twitter coverage.” I’ve added in a few extra stories and comments as well.

But, first, it would be great to have all of you talk about this open imperative from the perspective of the people who live it and power it. If you’re looking for blog subjects over the next few days, I’d love it if you’d tackle one of these:

  • What brands do you find yourself routinely talking about and why?

  • How are the things you talk about online different than the things you talk about offline?

  • What are the biggest misses by companies trying out the social Web –or offending the social Web- in the last year?

  • What do you wish brands would do to engage you (whether that means use your ideas, reward you, inform you, etc.

Read more about iCitizen on the collected tweme or on the live blog.

Onto the coverage.

Opening Remarks: Nancy Kramer—CEO and Founder, Resource Interactive      

Twitter:

  • Glam president Nancy Kramer is kicking off.

  • Visualization guy is scribbling a conversation map in real time. Lots of Sharpie

  • Perfectly branded space. Every detail. Down to literally laying new carpet to match conference brand. http://tinyurl.com/6zk6y5

  • Seriously. Weird jokester guitar comedian singing 'thanks to the Internet' song. Totally need more coffee

iTalk: Kelly Mooney—President and CXO, Resource Interactive

  • Mooney asks one of the big questions we all struggle with when dissecting online trends: "how the heck did that happen?"

  • Would take 412.3 years to view all the material on YouTube. Don't give up, though, boys.

  • Thinking about idea of "share unprecendented" in the context of Jill Bolte Taylor's TED speech. Tricky. http://snurl.com/29r7i

  • Mooney calls Al Gore iCitizen. Opening the conversation. Affirms Wal-Mart for accepting criticism on environmental responsibility, too (theirs and their customers')

  • Talking about "love triangle." New relationship model with brand, community and consumers making up the points

  • Mooney says anecdotal examples are most powerful. Not sure I agree. Can quickly be written off as exceptions, "geeks," not rule

  • Ubiquitous Jaffe up next. Looking forward to hearing first hand...

Keynote: Joseph Jaffe—Author, Join the Conversation

Twitter:

  • CNN strategically uses iCitizens - not for authenticity or depth - but to get video / events / moments first.

  • Jaffe calls old way "Spray and pray" ... definitely my favorite handle for one-to-many marketing

  • "Targeted has become targeter." iCitizens capable of getting millions of impressions about your brand.

  • re: TMobile Sucks - Conversations is between 2 or more sides. W/o debate, intensity, it's just choir preaching to each other

  • Jaffe's called out Kodak's "winds of change" as listening and responding relevantly to what iCitizens say http://snurl.com/29rgr

  • Three rules = humanity, humility, & humor

  • "A lot of change in corporations is rogue today." Makes me think of Blue Shirt Nation's first server hidden under a desk.

  • Jaffe as if speaking to most agencies I've worked at says: Don't cheat in social media, you'll be found out.

  • Biggest risk we can take today is spending $4 million on a campaign no one notices

  • Retweeting @hdavis: Are you in the campaign or commitment business? Are you willing to commit to customers for life?

  • Jeff Jarvis, you're a powerhouse, but, really, the world needs some new examples already! (Seriously old Jeff Jarvis circa Dell Hell 05 was trotted out by no fewer than three presenters today!)

More stories:

  • Jaffe talked a lot about the "T-Mobile sucks" revolt. Remember the story. T-mobile claimed they own trademark on the color magenta and issued a cease & desist letter to engadget. In response, many bloggers displayed "T-mobile sucks" magenta badges. As ridiculous as the company was, Jaffe was also self aware that bloggers were essentially preaching to the choir ...saying the same messages again and again rather than creating new messages or engaging in real debate. Love the practical analysis.


Panel: And Community Makes Three

Adam Brown—Director, Digital Communications, The Coca-Cola Company
Jan Valentic—SVP of Marketing, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Stan Joosten—Innovation Manager, Holistic Consumer Communication, Procter & Gamble

Twittering:

  • Couple cool things from over the break. Jim Oswald visualizing the live conversation http://snurl.com/29rv1

  • Friend Marti teaching social tools in the social media cafe http://snurl.com/29rv9

  • Doc Searls: Any question based on fear is the wrong question.

  • Stan: When we talk open it's a mindset, but marketers want the 10 steps to do it. Really need to create mindset, not follow recipe

  • Jan / Scotts: Always been a conversation in our industry. Storytelling from individual to individual Neighbors, garden clubs, hardware store.

  • Stan: When you have a brand that has a point of view, you have to build in that there's a counter point of view. And build a conversation around that. Something that we're not very good at anticipating yet. But, it's going to happen. Have to plan for it.

  • Jan: There is going to be negative talk about your brand. It's what you do about it. Own up to it. Address it.

  • Q from audience: How are you mobilizing your staff. Adam: Step 1, get legal to sign off

  • To get our execs blogging we're talking about doing more manageable limited engagement. Two week topics that start a conversation, but set expectations that they'll be an end date

More stories:

  • Adam said that after legal signed off on getting involved in the conversation the next step was to get the executives comfortable with employees engaging social media. To do that, they started with existing, approved company spokespeople. Sounds kind of scary, right? A PR person on myspace...

    But, Adam's group went farther. Hand selected spokespeople who would both be comfortable with the medium and uniquely close to whatever culture or issues needed response. Plus, they're all getting their feet wet with their own blogs, social accounts, etc.

Marsha Collier—Author, over 15 books on eBay

Twittering:

  • Salads with flowers and Marsha Collier talking eBay... it's an iCitizen lunch

  • I'm an iCitizen and i'm not in my 20s. In fact i have a daughter in her 20s

  • For the people who read my books, i'm a gateway drug to the internet

  • I would never work for eBay because someone would tell me what i could say. It's about integrity.

  • Hard for you to hear, but not everyone is on the internet

  • Some people tweet too much. Hmmm. Feeling a hint of personal relevance

Keynote: Duncan Watts—Principal Research Scientist, Yahoo! Research

  • One in ten Americans tells the other 9 how to vote, where to eat, what to buy (Keller and Berry, 2003)

  • Wonderful American story, we have super heroes and free lunches

  • Every day every hipster has to get out of bed & decide what faded retro t-shirt to wear and most of the time no one cares. Why did hush puppies take off and other hipster picks didn't? Not simple formula of cause and effect.

  • Multiplier effect isn't one holy grail opinion leader, it's many relationships and influence-able groups

  • "Unpredictability only increasing." Some in room clearly uncomfortable. Looking for actionable advice, not worst fears!

  • Great Duncan point - measurable ROI happens way before rapid viral. Set expectations for success vs. tipping point.

  • Tsk. Tsk. Reference to Ohio "cow tipping" - doesn't match up with vibrant, cultural Columbus

  • Distracted by Jim Oswald's visualizing of conversation .. sort of cross between sharpie stenography and graffiti tagging

  • Retweeting @jaffejuice: New Yahoo research has central hypothesis: people assume more in common with their friends than actually exists...

  • Great audience Q: How will we define friend when we're connected to so many people?

  • More Yahoo development - how to differentiate types of ties on FB. Better view of relevant social networks... Overlapping networks of real friends and strangers with overlapping interests. Different relevant networks for different questions

More stories

  • The most important thing is getting extremely good at understanding what's already happening and moving resources to take advantage ... Take the Gap. Every season they put out several colors of T-Shirts. When they find out that the orange one is selling like crazy, they don't ask why orange, they move resources to quickly put out more orange.

iTalk: Steve Knox—CEO, Tremor (WOM at P&G)

Twittering:

  • Man after my own heart, reason most WOM fails is that the message isn't simple. When we talk to our friends, we want simple

  • Buzz marketing is danger zone. Office Max made 100 million elves, but same store sales dropped 7%

  • Whole industry is built backwards. Lots of people want to build you a viral video, throw them out of your office

  • If it isn't a disruptive message attached to the foundation of the brand, it's just more elves

  • All of our data about real advocacy today is face-to-face conversations, not online

  • Lots of talk of tampons

More from Steve:

What's the right message? There are two factors:

  • Advocacy: Do I care enough about your brand to talk about it?

  • Amplification: Have you made it easy for me to talk about?

#2 is where most WOM dies. Message needs to be simple. The things you talk about with your friends are always simple.

Panel: What Consumers Can Do
Sam Decker—CMO, Bazaarvoice
Tim Smith—Chief Strategy Officer, Lemonade, Inc.
Manish Chandra—CEO, Kaboodle
Adam Weinroth—Director of Product Marketing, Pluck

Twitter:

  • Manish: We measure velocity of engagement by the volume of products being added, volume recently added, & traffic back to site

  • Pluck: How many people who come to your site do something social … rate of contribution is a key metric

  • Sam: “Start metrics with the P&L, where it’s important to CEO, move out from there.” Really?

  • Tom: Lemonade users are highly sophisticated. Using stands as side business. Have high expectation, low patience.

  • Adoption has really been fast paced. Only a few years ago, I’d be in a meeting and first Q was: what is a blog??

  • Adam: Reward not just quantity but content. Elevate / spotlight their voice. 

  • Manish: Sweepstakes / campaigns incent specific behaviors vs. ongoing rewards that can become negative to site

  • Manish: Lifestyle shopping is much more discovery and emotionally oriented. Comparing handbags is much different than cameras.

iTalk: Tom Venable—EVP, InnoCentive

Twitter:

  • Innocentive clients are reaching out to creative minds to fast-track R&D and product development

  • Natural problem solvers want to create solutions. Open innovation. Awarding winning solutions. (Sample prizes: Asari X, DARP)

  • There are a finite number of resources in your company. They're smart, know your industry, but they’re finite. There are millions of other people who could help

  • Generation coming up now is going to find a way to make a living on their own terms, using the Web

  • Humana currently has a challenge out to identify ways to improve healthcare in the U.S. 2000 solvers responding

  • Other end of spectrum, statistical methods for software something-something

  • Ah ha moment is when you realize how many projects are stuck in the pipeline w/ no R&D budget to solve

Other notes:

Great examples of the Innocentive model:

  • Concrete guy solves decades old oil problem:

    20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, there was stil a lot of oil on the ocean floor. The problem was that Exxon couldn’t figure out how to separate frozen oil from water. So, they worked with Innocentive to put out an open call for a solution.

    An Illinois chemists from the concrete industry saw the problem and quickly scribbled an idea on the back of a napkin. He sent that scan in with a half-page write up about a certain kind of oscillator working at s certain speed and solved the problem Exxon had been wrestling with for 20 years. Their engineers had a conference call with the chemist to discuss and "you could hear the collective duh!"
  • Hippie keeps $100 million of product on the market

    Another client needed to replace an art restoration chemical that was being phased out by EPA. They couldn't find a solution internally and were about to pull $100 million of product to stay in compliance.

    They farmed the problem out over the same network and a 20 year old chemist who used tie die t-shirts at the kitchen table with his mother applied that their color preserving solution to the art restoration chemical and saved the product. 

One thing I love about how Tom described "how to make it work." You have to change your perceived career role / value from problem solver to solution finder.

May 16, 2008

PRSA Followup

I still had a few questions to answer from the PRSA event. So, belatedly, here we go:

Q: How does a trackback work and is it annoying to other bloggers?

I answered this Q for one of my offline friends this week, too. Great example of a simple concept way over complicated by technology and specialists.

It's just a notice that someone is linking to or referencing one of your posts.

It's also called a linkback.

Short story: At the end of most posts on Wordpress and SixApart, there's a link called Trackback. If you click it, it gives you a special address. If you take that address and enter it on one of your own posts (there's a special field in the software) it pings the original post's server and the author gets an email that someone is referencing their post.

Basically a digital nod. One I believe is universally appreciated.

Q: What blogs and books do I read to stay on top of trends?

Well, I should say that 'staying on top of trends' is a pretty relative term these days. But, to stay somewhat aware of the cool stuff in my tiny area of addiction/interest, here are my top picks:

Blogs:

  • Adaptive Path
  • Advertising Age - CMO Strategy
  • Andrea Hill
  • B&A
  • Bokardo
  • ChangeThis Newsletter
  • Chief Marketer
  • Church of the Customer
  • Compete
  • Cowshed Productions
  • eBusiness.org
  • Emergence Marketing
  • Groundswell
  • Hill | Holliday
  • Hitwise Intelligence
  • Horse Pig Cow
  • How Advertising Spoiled Me
  • I Believe in Advertising
  • indexed
  • Jeremiah Owyang
  • Jeremiah Owyang
  • Joe Niedecken
  • Kelly Mooney
  • Logic+Emotion
  • Lynetter's Online Dev Slides
  • Marketing Profs Daily Fix
  • Media Buyer Planner
  • Noah Brier
  • Own Your Identity
  • Paul Isakson
  • Pleasure and Pain
  • SAW a good idea
  • StickyFigure
  • The Brand Builder
  • Todd And
  • Tom Fishburne: Brand Camp
  • Trendwatching
  • Books:

    Andy Beal: Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online

    Patricia Martin: Rengen: The Rise of the Cultural Consumer - and What It Means to Your Business

    Joseph Jaffe: Join the Conversation: How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialogue, and Partnership

    Rohit Bhargava: Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back

    Kelly Mooney: The Open Brand: When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World

    Charlene Li: Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

    Mark Penn: Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes

       

    Q: Two questions condensed to one - how can I connect with doctors and moms online?

    Honestly, I have no idea. I think the advice I gave in person was with docs it's probably a closed community of your most passionate users; for moms, it's probably real moms already in your organization, already talking online.

    But, for more on-target advice, a few experts from my extended network:

    Pierce Mattie PR talks about Pitching Mommie Bloggers

    Consultant Bill Ives talks about physicians and social media

    Q: How do I avoid a 1000 new friends?

    First, can I say - nice problem to have! If you start out in social media and garner 1000 quick followers, you're doing something right.

    But, to handle it, it's a matter of managing your pipe. Do you want strangers to be able to 'be-friend' you in every medium? Or will you limit, say, FB to people you know in the flesh and LI to interested onlookers and professional contacts?

    Also, boil up your communications. That's a big "why" social media was created. People are increasingly exhausted and overwhelmed by 1:1 email. Social media starts to solve that problem by letting us broadcast content to entire networks. And, pick up or ignore what we want.

    So, if you're getting a lot of input, answer general topics via social media rather than returning a slew of emails. Use the tools to manage communications within the time / interest you have rather than letting them push you around.

    Q: How do you pull together the group of brand enthusiasts to talk about your brand? It might seem easy to just contact those that are blogging about your brand but would that seem less "real"... recruited/corporate? Is it better to recruit from an existing list of folks that interact with your brand?

    Short answer: There are a few companies that will do this for you. Set up and recruit to a closed community for ~$250k. But, I say if the Zappos CEO can stop for coffee with customers, we can probably be a little more organic than writing a check.

    If it were me, I'd leverage my customer service data. People who email in. Good or bad. Especially problem solvers (I saw this was broken / here's how I'd fix it). If they took enough time to track down your email form, they're probably an engaged shopper (one way or the other).  (P.S. All the more reason to bury your contact info, uh, Amazon :)

    Q: How do you initially prioritize and engage the customer? A traditional focus group? How do you find and engage these customers?

    Part of this question is answered in the above. But, there's also an element of segmentation here. How do you prioritize your customer types? I think that question gets kicked back to the statistics gurus, but is informed by social media. Yes, you want to know that your customer is x years old, watches these three television programs and has z number of kids. But, you also want to know what they do online. How they interact. What types of tools they use. How many people they talk to in a week. That will help you find the groups that CAN be targeted by WOM or social media marketing.

    As for how you engage them, that's the toughest part. And it's different for every brand. The trick is to figure out what they'll want to participate in and deliver it. With a little luck, you can find an insight in the above (like the Mini example) that will help inform that.

    Q: What are your thoughts about second life? The success of it seems limited to the academic arena.

    At the conference, Billy Fischer asked how we know what the next big trend in social media will be. Truth is, unfortunately, we don't.

    The best we can do is pay attention to what the leaders in the last new thing are trying or what big groups of previously unengaged people are engaging in and ... well, guess. Second LIfe - in my opinion - is the ultimate example of a bad guess. 

    A super high engagement  "game" in a medium (Web) that traditionally inspires skimming and scanning ... eh, I was suspect from the beginning, but I understand why brands rushed in. Initial trial (signups) was high. Although actual adoption was low. And the environment itself gave agencies the chance to strut great new creative and strategy skills. 

    All that said, I think some brands made it work. Like Case Western. Recreating their campus in the medium and making it accessible to members and nonmembers alike.

    Q: How do you have time for all this?

    According to my co-workers, it's the time I save by not having babies, car pool or other offspring-related stress.

    April 25, 2008

    Groundswell. A book about a movement.

    Cover2 I almost don't want to tell you about this book.

    I laughed. I dog-eared a ridiculous number of pages. I found cause to clamor for a notebook to jot, nay, furiously scribble down an idea. I'm already retelling the stories.

    It's almost too good to share.

    I should back up...

    In general, I think good marketers come from two basic camps. Statistics and experience. Or, how we can model and measure likely success vs. how we can learn from what's worked and hasn't worked in the past. Heady or intuitive.

    Groundswell author's Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff are from Forrester Research. So, it was no surprise that they could write analytics well. Could  lay out an infinitely logical and actionable model for how to  do social media with your customer audience.

    What was a surprise is what amazing storytellers they are and how willing they were to bluntly - sometimes harshly - tell it like it is.

    Li and Bernoff start of by setting aside particular technologies and diving deep into the ways social media has changed us. Increasingly, they argue, we get what we need (news, reviews, shopping, etc.) from other people rather than from traditional institutions (like business or media).

    Then, they systematically answer the questions a lot of digital immigrants ask in the meetings we've all sat in (over and over and over again):

    • How does it work?
    • Why do people spend their time on this?
    • How is this going to impact - threaten / totally screw up / help - my business?

    But, the best part is the back 2/3s of the book where Li and Bernoff dig into various strategies to tap into the groundswell with stories about the success and failure of brands brave enough to give it a try.

    Some of them are parts of the story I never knew. Like the Mini marketing that we hold up all the time as so savvy and talky and in-the-tent started by listening to the (later named) groundswell online. Or how the awkwardness of the internal conversation become part of the impetus of P&G's broadly cited Beingagirl.com

    And some reveal surprising results. Like how Blendtec's funny 'will it blend' videos (crunching up iPods and other odd things) popped sales of the absurdly expensive kitchen device 20%. Or just how much of Ernst & Young's recruiting is powered by Facebook.

    And some were simply inspiring. Like the oft-told story of Best Buy's Blue Shirt Nation (btw - next time I talk about my home agency, let's remember - it's not self serving, I'm just an Orange Shirt) or the all-too-human ways execs at Avenue A / Razorfish connect with employees.

    Every story is accompanied by the business plan behind it. Why it worked. What the ROI was. How to know if it's right for your audience.

    You can probably guess which parts I dog-eared.

    March 31, 2008

    The Open Brand

    With Adver-boyfriend off following his favorite NCAA team around the country this weekend, I had time to catch up on three industry books that have been tempting me from the bedside table. This week, I'll share perspectives on each of those, starting with:

    41nlbv5bu8l_ss500_
    By Kelly Mooney and Nita Rollins
    Home agency: Resource Interactive











    There are two schools of thought on the role of the 'expert' in consulting industries like ours: (1) it's our job to be the smartest guy in the room on our 'best at' subject or (2) it's our job to make our client feel like the smartest guy in the room.

    Mooney/Rollins definitely fall in the latter. They've built a book that converges all the big ideas and groundswell of momentum around the social Web into a simple story on impact and action.

    Kind of a Daring Book for Girls for CMOs

    I say 'built a book' because it's the structure that agency wonks will be attracted to. A visual approach to the ideas and concepts we talk about every day (Come on, who among us hasn't taken a little real-work inspiration from one of Armano's quick sketches of clarity?), repeatable cases and solid frameworks.

    For clients and newbies, it's all content.

    A few of the ideas that got me scribbling notes in the margin:

    After outlining the pitfalls of business-as-usual in a new medium, Mooney/Rollins lay out a New Relationship framework in simple Venn diagram fashion. The center is passion, overlapped on three sides by consumers, community and brand.

    I love the idea that passion is the shared quality - the opportunity to build engagement (with people, with networks, with employees).
    At brunch this weekend, we were talking about the phenom coup Resource's PR team pulled off: Four paragraphs about The Open Brand in this month's cover story of Fast Company. When a friend - who, I should preface, knows everything about a million things I know nothing about - asked me what Fast Company is? And, to try to describe it now ... is, stalling. But, you probably remember when it launched, in the heydey of dot.com, when we were all rethinking work and what it means to find both delight and challenge in what we do every day, and essentially finding passion in work. I like to think that ethic has found its resurgence in the social Web.

    The Open Brand also has a great information graphic on the motivations of iCitizenry, plotted on a continuum of everyday to elite:

    • 74% are motivated by competence: "I can" (use Web tools for fun, learning and efficiency)
    • 16% by collectivism: "I connect" (connect and share with people who have similar interests)
    • 7% by culture change: "I am" (effect change that improves companies, products or the experience of others)
    • 3% by celebrity: "I matter" (seek recognition or some degree of fame)

    In a conversation (darn, I used THAT word) that has largely been shaped by the 1% Rule and other outcome-based frameworks, it's interesting to turn to the why instead of the what.

    I digress. The framework is followed by a hall-of-fame of sorts of some of the loudest voices on the Web - from Kos to the diva of Amazon.com product reviews.

    Someone I follow on Twitter - maybe Jaffe - asked (more eloquently than I am recreating here) is the Web creating more amateur professionals or is it simply giving us access to more true professionals. It's an interesting question for ad bloggers, but in the largest context of the social Web, it has another dimension: are there new 'careers,' new needs for voices and approaches (like the mega reviewers) that have essentially become the foundation of everything else?

    That said, I think for most marketers, the challenge isn't in understanding the outlyers. They're relatively easy to learn about with various social aggregating tools and their own self promotion. Your agency can attack those (with some degree of grace or lumbering) the way they could any other opinion leader. The challenge is understanding the common person. What the key profiles of social behavior are and how those cross-index beyond age ... with a wider swath of loyalty and offline behavior.

    I'm guessing the ethnographers at Resource save that level of detail for folks willing to spend a little more than $16.95...

    March 19, 2008

    It should always be...

    This EASY to use a press room:

    Picture_2The media room for Andy Beal's Radically Transparent offers enough content to power six news articles, four custom reviews, a buying decision and an ongoing relationship.

    All in one place. All super easy to navigate.


    This FUN to watch a branded video:

    Picture_3AKQA and Cake really fundamentally get it. It being social media and brands. You have to be able to take liberties - with yourself, your culture and your customers. You have to be able to delight and entertain and be completely different than a 30 second spot.

    Little escapes the snark of this video from Pot Noodle. A piece that 200,000 people have already watched this month.


    This PERSONAL to watch a recruitment video:

    Picture_4 When Molly posted this video on Twitter, I had to ask her if it was sanctioned or organic ... the very simple delivery is so brimming with personality and conversation that I couldn't imagine it making it through any agency's self-marketing process.

    But, somehow it did.

    And, the simplicity of it - from an agency that COULD do anything - might just make it even more compelling.


    This SIMPLE to share information:

    Picture_201Speaking of Twitter, I've been logged on for the past two days reading some of your favorite bloggers cover Ad Age's Digital Marketing summit in real time.

    The posts include verbatims, analysis and a little argument. It's addictive.


    This OPTIMISTIC to profile an audience:

    Rengen_cover_final_2 After it sat for months on my teetering bedside stack of good intentions, I've finally picked up RenGen and dug in. Definitely my favorite industry book of this year... as much for its optimism as its smarts and illustrative examples.

    Martin connects the dots from our creative and intellectual selves to a theory of renaissance that will define a generation.

    March 11, 2008

    Interactive Toolkit for Account Executives

    Process_2

    Sometimes the most difficult part of the process is knowing where to start and how to add value.

    Today's worksheet for AEs getting started in the interactive space details each of the major steps in the development process and easy ways to over-deliver and add real value at every step of the way.

    Want more? Download yesterday's worksheet on the key components of a Web site with smart questions to ask even your toughest clients.

    March 10, 2008

    Interactive for AEs

    Components

    As traditional agencies stretch farther and farther into the interactive space, long-time print, branding and broadcast AEs are being inundated with demands to basically speak a new language. They're at once floundering for the right answers -- heck, even the right question -- with clients and trying to deliver on the been-there-done-that demands of designers and programmers back at the agency.

    Since I haven't yet run into a boot camp for teaching interactive to AEs, I thought I'd gather my notes and try to help:

    Today: Overview of the key components of a basic site and smart questions to ask along the way

    Tomorrow: Topline development process and ways for an AE to add value at each step

    If you're just getting started selling & managing online (or remember when you were) and have questions or horror stories, please share them in the comments - together we can build other content and tools that might be needed ...


    January 20, 2008

    "I don't have to grow up" - gen

    For every thoughtful discussion I've had about the cultural consumer, the green citizen, the attention economy, I've had a party / conversation / meeting completely derailed by a group of mainstream 30-somethings playing or talking-about-playing video games. Even as I type this, my copy of RenGen is sitting under my PS3 controller on the coffee table.

    We - the fabled, if aging GenXers - are a damn playful bunch. Our marathons are as likely to be a Saturday of Project Runway reruns as 20-sweaty miles across the city. We've passed on scrapbooks for passing around digital cameras packed with thousands of hammed-up snaps. We can cook but would rather collect memories of childhood munchies - from an EasyBake oven to the Snoopy Sno Cone machine complete with grape syrup.

    So, if I can put down my classic wooden yo-yo for just a minute, I'd like to congratulate three advertisers for really getting the spirit of grown-up play:

    #1 Dominos pizza for the inventiveness of friends
    #2 Toyota Tacoma for the joy of the game
    #3 Tostitos for the creativity in every roll of duct tape (and best random :5 seconds of moose)

    Here are the smile-out-loud spots:

    January 05, 2008

    Marketing Ourselves

    The City of Los Angeles has a 100-person department dedicated solely to dealing with the remains of people who die alone. Investigators who dig through over-stuffed dressers, side tables full of prescription bottles, stacks of junk mail ... all to try to find someone who might care that you are no longer ... well, home alone.

    Which brings me to: Marketing Yourself for Marriage.

    First the self help books. You too can find a man.

    Then interview shows got in the game. Most recently, it was Stacy London making-over a guest's online dating profile. Why did you show yourself riding a horse? Do you really want to just share laughs or do you want to find a husband?

    But, dammit, this month's issue of Chief Marketer may take it a step too far ... Chain Letters for Lovers.

    Clients of  “Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School" author Rachel Greenwald send pitch letters to friends and family asking them to refer a 'blind date.'

    In the example shared, a 50 year-old woman sent out 100 cards around Arbor Day, a holiday not traditionally associated with greeting cards. Each letter offered to plant a tree in Israel in the name of anyone who sent her a potential blind date.

    Why is Chief Marketer covering this? The woman in question garnered a 12% response rate - there's never been a direct mail metric that enviable!

    If fellow feminists are already choking on this, um, advice, I leave you with this last blow: Greenwald advocates that women set aside 10% of their annual salaries to market themselves to potential husbands.

    Not to get out of character here, but: holy crap.

    Read the full article


    January 03, 2008

    Consumer insight from the manager of the neighborhood Blockbuster

    As the writer's strike drags on, the crowds at Blockbuster have shifted from their usual pockets around the just-released romantic comedy to loitering around the TV racks. Looking to pick up a new show. To find the House or Lost they may have missed when their DVRs were ... well, not barren wastelands of Ugly Betty reruns.

    While ringing up my four episodes of Heros, the local manager started yapping about how popular the TV DVDs had  been in recent months - not just for the writer's strikes, but because many of his customers were opting to wait for the full season discs rather than deal with the suspense of waiting from week to week. They don't like the emotional implications of having to wait to find out what happens.

    When we talk about how technology has evolved the culture - making us more demanding, more impatient, shorter-tempered - it's easiest to point to the obvious incarnations. The 3-second rule on the Web, toes tapping in 3-person deep lines at Target, etc.

    But, this observation rang as particularly interesting to me - the idea that the Now Culture has touched even our ability to appreciate traditional creative devices. Suspense is no longer exciting, it's unnecessarily delaying gratification. We're reading the last page of Harry Potter halfway through the first chapter. And, watching an entire season of serial programming in one marathon sitting.

    From an advertising standpoint, it may mean that more easily resolved programs like House or Law and Order may be the best venues to communicate with passionate fans during the original broadcast. Or, that cliffhanger spots with a CTA to visit the Web site will become every more effective. And, it definitely means that I'll be chatting up more store managers to find out what weird things we're all up to out in the world...

    December 05, 2007

    2008 Holiday Gift Cards

    First, the gift card version of the 'How Many Jelly Beans' jar:

    How many different gift cards does Giant Eagle currently carry?

    (Answer at the end of the post)

    Even those of us not in the Big-Bird-Gift-Cards-for-Gas program have likely noticed the gift card gauntlet retailers are up against this year. The challenge: Personalize the ultimate impersonal gift. And, get the card-buying masses to wrap up yours.

    Category leaders like Starbucks have enabled full personalization and design of their cards online - to the delight of caffeine-addled art directors the world over.

    Borders, Circuit City and others are offering a simplified approach to personal design with a single photo upload. Home Depot's cards double as a CD of How-to tips for the DIYer on your list. And, the Big Boxes are going after the little box with entire catalogs of just-right-for-you card decor, from Barbie to the nearly-old-fashioned spotted dog.

    If the personalization isn't enough to woo you, there's always old-fashioned bribery. LL Bean will give you a free tote for giving a card, Circuit City will reward buyers with an instant-win card to try your luck at a big holiday surprise for yourself, and most of the restaurants are trading 'cash back' cards for gift card sales.

    But, all that said, there are two programs that I think are stand-outs this year.

    First up, the Sears card. I was already doting over the nostalgia of the Wish Book when I saw these two winning cards: A water-paint gift card that lets the giver or getter paint the scene (just don't drop it in the snow) and a sticker-book kit that lets buyers deck out their cards. Great extensions of the childlike fun of the season and the nostalgia of family holidays.

    8f93_1_2 A885_1_2

    Second, the Bob Evans gift card tin. Your choice of several snowy Bob Evans cards fit neatly in this cute brand tin. Considering that 88% of us (according to NRF) will buy at least two gift cards this year, the tin seems like a great add-on for the gift-giver - a place to store all their plastic cash without stretching out their wallets or pockets with the temporary cards.

    Tinslider

    Answer: Giant Eagle carries 275 different gift cards.

    December 03, 2007

    Decision time again for multi-channel retailers: Where do you want shoppers to go?

    Lots of news for multi-channel retailers out this quarter. JCP.com launched a 'know before you go' campaign that directly speaks to online pre-shoppers. Brookstone launched a true virtual store online - one with all of the sense of discovery and maddening inconvenience of a real-live shopping trip.

    Barnes and Noble launched a site intended to bring the local store experience online, while Whole Foods finally got in the Web experience game with a holiday planning site aimed at sending you in-store, list in-hand.

    And, new research out claims that one in three Americans will shop more online this holiday season (over last) even as they indite online retailers for shoddy customer experiences. Cyber Monday sales alone were up 21% off the same day last year.

    It seems that we're reaching another key critical decision time for retailers.

    What do you want your brand experience to be tied to? Your flawed local store or your impersonal national warehouse? What does ideal convenience really look like for today's shopper?

    The options are much broader than the current big three:

    • Buy online
    • Pre-order online, buy in-store
    • Browse online, buy in-store

    One of my favorite options re-invigorates high-touch service and another turns shopping on its head...

    • Neighborhood store: One of my most-despised words in the press right now is 'the new urbanism.' Essentially, walkable amenities moved to the traditionally housing-rich suburbs. The ethic behind it is one of neighborhood-ism. Of being part of something 'smaller' with access to all the conveniences of 'bigger.' That same ethic could create a resurgence of personal deliveries. Customers check product availability online. If the product is at their local store, they can choose to an open time for a same-day local delivery to their home or office. Trust me, if the Mentos intern can do it, so can Best Buy.
    • Virtual-real store: I'm sure you've seen this concept store created by IconNicholson. It's this incredible 'social retailing' concept that's a combination physical dressing room with online social tools that enable idea sharing, remote recommendations and more.
    • Remote personal shopper: 66 percent of shoppers said they would be more willing to buy online if every purchase was guaranteed. So thinking about the concept of guaranteed, what if we brought the trusted recommendation of a favorite sales associate online. Higher-end brands, like Nordstrom, could offer a free (likely even a paid) consultation with a sales associate. The associate would profile the customer, understand their preferences, shop the store with them. Then, via IM or phone, that associate could make Web-purchasing recommendations to the customer over time - becoming a virtual private shopper and an essential guarantee of satisfaction.

    There are hundreds or permutations ... but the core question is: Do you want your customers to interact with your brand in a vacuum? Or will you leverage the local store for all it's worth...

    November 28, 2007

    Some major record labels make 40% of their revenue from ringtones

    Wow, right?

    I was listening to a story about hip-hop artist T-Pain last night and was reminded of just how important it is to think about 'marketing' - not just advertising - at this planning time of year. The trends that we use to shape brand experiences have powerful impacts on all sorts of larger marketing questions - from product development to operational planning.

    Consider this incredible example about how shifts in audience behavior wildly changed the business sources for the Zomba record label:

    • Artist T-Pain has a signature vocal style that has played a defining role in hip-hop and R&B music this year
    • Four of his singles are in the Billboard's Top 10
    • He owns up to 1/3 of the popular playlists on some R&B stations

    But here's where it gets interesting for marketers:

    • His top single has had 1.5 million digital downloads at $.99/each
    • BUT - that same single has had 3 MILLION ringtone downloads at $2.50 - $3/each

    Record execs call ringtones a personalization product. And, it's interesting, in an era when boom boxes and big stereos have been replaced with earbuds, maybe your ringing pocket is the last bastion of showing off your style through your favorite band...

    Not to show my radical uncoolness at the end of a hip-hop post, but, as the aging rocker said, Times, they are a changin' (,marketers).

    November 14, 2007

    No one reads copy

    Before America's ad writers go on strike from this Web site, I should probably say that I'm kidding about no one reading copy, but, check out this game changing stat of the moment:

    8 in 10 Internet users also do some offline activity while online

    They shift focus, blur focus, multitask.

    Their attention is widely divided from Ugly Betty to the latest Jodi Picoult pageturner to your client's Web site.

    Seeing the big numbers is great reminder of just how important the experience is online. Of how important it is to concept the visit upfront, long before copy is written or a pixel is placed.

    Check out the details on eMarketer:

    Emarketer

    October 27, 2007

    Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0

    Ok, smart people. I need your help. I'm gathering all my samples and bookmarks for a brown bag lunch chat re: what makes a Web site 2.0?

    First, in deference, I must say, I do get the 'real' definition. At least as far as you can 'get' a highly contested definition of a very smooshy topic. 

    But, still, I want to take to farther. To play with how the technologies and ideas impact what consumers demand from sites. So, here are my 9 principles. Each with an example of a Web 1.0 counterpart, a Web 2.0 in the raw and a Web 2.0 by a retail brand.

    Take a look. Question me. Fight me. I'm intrigued enough to get this right.

    1. FROM FINDING INFORMATION TO MAKING CONNECTIONS1

    2. FROM DIRECTED BEHAVIOR TO FINDING BY BROWSING
    2

    3. FROM ANSWERS TO CONNECTING TO SUPPORT
    3_2

    4. FROM VALUE PROPOSITIONS TO SIMPLE VALUE
    4

    5. FROM READING TO WRITING
    5

    6. FROM ACCESSIBLE TO PERSONAL
    6

    7. FROM EXPERT VOICE TO PEER CREDIBILITY
    7

    8. FROM YOU TO ME
    8

    9. FROM CONTENT TO MULTIMEDIA
    9

    October 03, 2007

    BN.com: Are we ready for the local bookstore to relocate online?

    Bn

    Although I remain a devotee of Powells.com and my actual neighborhood bookstore, the AP's reveal of this curious statement by Marie Toulantis, CEO of bn.com intrigued me enough to go check out the site's makeover.

    "We wanted our site to have more motion, more content and more interactivity, and to have more of a sense of community."

    More motion? Is that what America is clamoring for online? Not ease of use, smarter interactions, more relevant experiences. Ok, well, motion it is. A dizzying amount of it thanks to my super speedy connection + a wealth of rollovers.

    Anyway, I get the challenge BN.com and so many other ecomm and multichannel retailers are up against: Consumer behavior in online shopping today is not yet a “browsing” activity – it is more directed than in-store shopping (Marketing Sherpa, 2006)

    • In-store Perception: Shopping at the mall is fun – whether I buy something or not (social)
    • Online Perception: I go online to buy something particular (task)

    BN.com is fighting hard to change this behavior and not only create browsing online, but to leverage the entire community bookstore experience:

    • The site offers one-of-a-kind highlights, including "One on One" podcasts and a "See Inside" program that allow readers to browse through an interactive version of a book.
    • "Live at Barnes & Noble" allows online visitors to view webcasts of readings at member stores if they cannot physically be there. Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report”, Alice Sebold and Richard Russo are all said to make scheduled appearances in the near future.
    • The premiere spotlights an interview with Philip Roth and a review of his new novel, "Exit Ghost," by the president of the National Book Critics Circle, John Freeman.

    In the past five years, the bookseller’s online sales have doubled. For a retail force like BN, that number is likely a disappointment.

    The question remains - is the timing right to bring retail community online (when community-community online is still struggling for wholesale adoption)? Some would definitely say yes - the 30-somethings and the Gen Y-ers and Millennials behind them are as likely to hit the bookstore online as offline. I like this POV from Penn's MicroTrends (yes, the book I made fun of - what can I say? I actuallly love it)

    "In part, it's the aging of the 30-somethings, who were the first generation to be reared on computers. Whereas 'entertainment' to their parents meant buying a ticket to a show, play, movie or ball game and watching the story unfold, this generation is more comfortable with entertainment that involves clicks, controllers and interactive narrative"

    September 21, 2007

    Excellent Week for Men on the Web: Stella and Guinness launch

    Guinness While I personally get what Agency Tart is saying about the new Guinness experience site, I've got to step back and think about the target ... which is decidedly not me.

    It's a weird technology trick. Looks doable and cool. PLUS, there's a back story worthy of A&E and you can make your own movie without leaving your couch (or wherever you and your computer may be)

    So, yeah, DIY showmanship - very manly beer drinking stuff.  And probably an ideal app for the audience.

    Stella Elsewhere on the Web, Stella continues to one up Guinness when it comes to relevant, long-lasting, experience marketing. Guinness hung a sign in every bar. Stella put a glass in every hand. Guinness created a cool microsite. Stella revamped their main site to be a sticky, fully engaging, multimedia video game of an experience. Oh, and they told their entire brand story in the context of some of the best gaming graphics on the Web.

    So what if I don't get it...

    September 14, 2007

    'Older people are sticky'

    Forget bacn, microtrends, twittering and the other trial phrases of the moment, this article-opener from the New York Times has to be the newest addition to our shared vernacular:

    "New Social Sites Cater to People of a Certain Age"

    Older people are sticky.

    That is the latest view from Silicon Valley. Technology investors and entrepreneurs, long obsessed with connecting to teenagers and 20-somethings, are starting a host of new social networking sites aimed at baby boomers and graying computer users.

    Read full article


    September 12, 2007

    Ideas for a greener agency

    Digging Grey's challenge to agencies to green up.

    One idea from a local ACD: Ditch all the blackboards, foam core, etc., and create a cool, sustainable magnetic or clip board that showcases ads without the waste.

    Green_it_forward

    September 09, 2007

    Why blogs? Ask, Stella Artois

    Full disclosure: I recently received a press kit from Stella Artois about the upcoming unveiling of their cinematic Web site ‘La Bouteille':

    E93a39a44cc4_2

    I’m super excited about this for two reasons:

    As a blogger: A cinematic Web site? I love to play with shiny new Web things. Of course, I’m going to go check out the launch later this month and if it’s even mildly engaging, chatter about it like crazy in this space.

    As a marketer / advertiser: I love to see traditional marketing organizations and agencies really “getting” what bloggers can bring to the table. Yeah, sure, Sony and BK have been doing it forever, but broader strategic adoption seemed to be stalled until this year.

    Apropos of budgeting season, I’ll write a full business case for investing in blogging next month, but, until then, here are my top 5:

    1. SEO: There is no cheaper, faster way to get solid organic search engine optimization than riding the coattails of the mega-servers at the top of the blogging service pyramid.

    2. Low-hanging fruit: So, you want to talk to the advertising reporter at the New York Times. It will cost you and he’s got a lot of heavy hitters on his tail - but, yeah, you can do that.

      Or, you can invest half the money and talk to a couple of hundred bloggers – who by-and-large are pre-disposed to early adoption, curiosity about new products and general buzziness.

    3. Share of voice: You’ve likely seen this Yahoo! Pyramid, representing "phases of value creation" at Yahoo! Groups as outlined a year ago by the company's head of technology development.

      Yahoo_pyramid Short-story: A very few people online are creating content. A larger number are aggregating it into ‘did you see’ posts. And the rest are, well, checking it out.

      Pair that with the recent report about the number of technology reporters who CITE BLOGGERS AS SOURCES. Not as man-on-the-street interviews, but as credible industry sources. It’s 67% of technology reporters. 67%.

      And, you start to see what we’re looking at: A small, vocal group of ProAms has been awarded a lot of authority – through Web behavior, RSS feeds, media attention and SEO - with little more than an interest in publishing.

    4. On-demand delivery: Why wait for someone to find your Web site or read a review about your new product? Talk them into signing up for your feed once and deliver the content wherever they dine on feeds.

    5. Changes in consumer behavior: Online ‘pre-shopping’ behavior and the emerging credibility and impact of user-generated consumer reviews has changed the offline game. Having people – real people, like bloggers, commenters, etc. – talk about your product / service / etc. has become hugely important as consumers go online in droves to ‘try on’ brands before going offline to buy.

    August 19, 2007

    A whole world of people just like me

    Interweb

    I was chatting (actually speaking out loud) with a fellow blogger last week about the nature of blog buzz - consummate early adopters, the entire lot of us, long bored with old web innovations like rss and del.icio.us and digg, even though they're absurdly cutting edge to many of our less-enchanted contemporaries. So, we hype Second Life and Jaiku and Twitter and Steamy and Flock. And, if our earnestness reaches critical mass, industry pubs pick up our buzz, translate it to "practical" (if sometimes tone deaf) marketing knowledge and main stream press occasionally follow the lead and ... well, really, what's it all matter, when more than half the agency types I know haven't even found ProAm content intriguing enough to read A blog yet, much less open a reader, try out new 2.0 toys, etc.

    Anyway, I mention all this apropos of an intriguing conversation that I had with my agency's CCO last week. He suggested that as we age, our use of the Internet becomes more practical and less (my word) social.

    If we marry that with two other trends, we start to see how age-old generational profiles establish themselves online...

    • Trend1: Facebook: The 18-24 year old set increasingly relies on Facebook for a wide-range of human communication - from networking / establishing social connections to routine updates and communication to the flock (the replacement to email)
    • Trend 2: Facilitated Creativity: Online and offline, partially homemade, scrapbooky, Home Depot-enabled projects hold sway. The middle-aged, middle class stretches its creative spirit with a little help from less-than-raw ingredients

    Offline, call it, cliques and parenthood and curmudgeony behavior

    Online, it lives as:

    • Explorers: Curious seekers of new ideas, widgets that make life more fun, and friends. They are multi-media sharers of their life stories. At once trusting and cynical, they're hoping that fun is fulfilling or security isn't so safe.
    • Inspiration seekers: Their dreams have become inconvenient, with so much else to do in a day. But they still long for play - for the feeling of being engaged and passionate and accomplished at things small enough to control and big enough for (subtle) bragging rights. They have self doubt, but, not so much that they won't try their hand at a little memory building - especially with a friendly boost.
    • And, personal experts:  After a life time of trial, they get it. What works for them, what doesn't. What they care about, what's just noise. They're looking for practical answers, easy ways to see the news that matters to them, their loved ones' photos, the address to a place they trust. They want convenience, not experience.

    August 11, 2007

    Robed metro launches category

    BodygroomRemember that snarky Norelco site ShaveEverywhere.com that launched last year? Well, the results are in. And, they reveal well more than an optical inch':

    The big number: 60% of Bodygroom buyers say they learned about the product via ShaveEverywhere.com

    Wait, it gets better. According to The New York Times, the category was largely built by the buzzy little site:

    • [Prior to the launch] the idea of a product specifically made for below-the-neck shaving barely existed.
    • Today, the Bodygroom is one of at least four products in what’s seen as a distinct and fast-growing category; nearly 250,000 body-hair trimmers have been bought in the United States in the last year.

    At a $40 unit price, that's a $10 million category launched with stock images of peaches & carrots and bleeps!


    In other shaving news, you've got to check out the career advice from Bern on Barbasol.com's overhaul. This well-spoken hand puppet definitely knows the inside scoop...

    (Click the 'How to live the Ultra Successful Life' button)

    Barbasol_2

    August 08, 2007

    The elevation of creativity

    Michaels3beading Michaels2gluegun Michaels1scrapbook_2

    Since I'm not a speedy aggregator, you've probably already seen these ads for Michaels by The Richards Group. Nonetheless, there are two advertising trends here that I'm really excited about:

    • The personalization of demographics: Increasingly, I get the sense that agencies are investing in creating identities for niche audiences - building out the story of one person - her wants and dreams and fears - to best create advertising that really speaks to emotional drivers.
    • The elevation of creativity: Whether it started in advertising or advertising is merely following, I appreciate the increased value placed on personal creativity - on the validation of that fundamental emotional desire to create and share...

    August 07, 2007

    Oh, splendid, I was wondering how I'd become irrelevant...

    ... or otherwise displaced.

    Apparently post-factory worker, post-knowledge worker, Digitas is planning to offshore the whole personalization of advertising business...

    The plan is to build a global digital ad network that uses offshore labor to create thousands of versions of ads. Then, using data about consumers and computer algorithms, the network will decide which advertising message to show at which moment to every person who turns on a computer, cellphone or — eventually — a television. Read the article.
    And, here we'll be with our college degrees and pithy headlines and clever storyboards trying to get real jobs. I blame Armano. Yeah, yeah, I know he's moved on to Critical Mass, but, come on, this has him written all over it... Logic + Emotion. Riiiiiight. We should have known to get suspicious when he started using the P-word.

    Time to get serious about the 401ks, friends.

    August 02, 2007

    Web design ROI

    It's annual planning time again in client-agency world. A magical time of year when we examine all the possibilities, compare them to the budget of time / people / and money and proceed to wildly whack away at the dream.

    It was in the midst of this cacophony of contentious meetings, PPT slides and bound reams of review books that a favorite AE of mine came to me with this question:

    Last year, we recommended that the client redesign their consumer products site, but traffic still hasn't increased. What now...

    So, we figured out "what now."

    But, if we could go back a year, I'd rather ask the question: what metrics should be on the table to define the ROI of a Web site redesign?

    Traffic - in my opinion - doesn't even make the list. That's a metric of SEO or advertising or marketing... not really design. Design's* role is being more effective with people who land at the site - not getting them there.

    *I'm assuming design = usability design, copy, art direction and programming

    Here are my top picks for metrics for your next annual plan:

    Websiteroi

    June 30, 2007

    Does your CD do banners?

    Yet another highly-questionably-designed survey has revealed this counter-intuitive truth:

    Although seven of ten men 18-34 are going online more than ever before, they consider television a better advertising medium

    Surely, there are lots of rational arguments to be made - about in-stream behaviors, history of ROI, quality of experience, etc.

    But, I wonder if our industry - far beyond the media buying department - plays a self-perpetuating role in the success of broadcast vs. Internet advertising. One where our very best creative minds & most inventive strategists are at work pushing the bounds of aging mediums while interns and newbies churn out banners and boxes for the Web.

    How different would Internet advertising look if our industry awarded the talent and prestige to it that it's long given the :30-second spot.

    I doubt it would look much like a banner or a box...

    June 14, 2007

    Where are all the women?

    Istock_000001084797xsmall Meet Jenny.

    She's 39, married. Has a 12 year-old daughter. She lives in the suburbs of a medium-sized city and commutes 25 minutes to the call center she works in. She went to college for a few years, but never graduated. She and her husband bought their house together almost 10 years ago. They make $48,000 annually and spend $1200 of it on fun gadgets and technology. They go on a week-long vacation every summer. Jenny makes weekly and seasonal purchases for herself, her daughter and her husband. She's the primary shopper and controller of the family checkbook.
    She likes to read best sellers. Is close with her sister. Has a few friends, but would like to have more. She goes to church on Sundays and watches TV at night. She wishes she had more free time.

    Jenny is America's average consumer.

    Here, my fellow advertisers, is why I bring this up:

    I was recently at a download session for a new business pitch. The potential client invited four agencies to learn about their marketing & business environment, customers and history.

    My boss, our CCO and I attended, along with 2 or 3 heavy hitters from each of the other agencies.

    The client brought a variety of brand managers from their side. And, I couldn't help but quickly notice something:

    In the room overall:

    11 men, 5 women.

    From the agencies: 

    9 men, 1 woman (me.)

    I've* actually noticed this in a number of pitch processes and I'm always struck by the fact that there are so few women at the senior, strategic level of advertising. Despite the fact that the majority of consumer purchases are made by women** and - to all appearances - the plurality of corporate marketers are women.

    So, here are my questions to the community:

    1. Do you think there's any understanding of the customer lost / simplified / overlooked by such a low representation of the primary buying gender in top-level advertising? (Or: Could it lead to a more accurate portrayal by avoiding the "focus group of one" phenomena?)
    2. Do you think there is a new business strategic advantage for an agency that does have women in leadership?
    3. Where do all the women go? The entry level positions in advertising seem to be flooded with them ... but, they rarely make it to the executive suite.

    *The agency I work for has a number of women who attend most pitches - one of our VPs, two of our management supervisors, our director of account planning and our online media planner are frequently involved in new business

    **I assume that the "80% of consumer purchases are made by women" statistic that is so often referenced is inaccurate for one key reason: it's reflective of a 100 year period. Many decades of which, women didn't work in any notable numbers & thus would naturally be the runners of all household errands. Nonetheless, there is much evidence to indicate that purchasing is heavily weighted toward women consumers - as both end purchasers and gatekeepers.


    November 16, 2006

    Thoughtless gifts still in style

    Hot off presses from the 21st Anniversary Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends, commissioned by Deloitte & Touche: Gift cards are expected to continue to be the top gift purchase in 2006.

    • 66% of consumers planning to buy them - roughly the same as in 2006.
    • But, this year holiday shoppers are planning on buying more of them: an average of 4.6 gift cards (up from 3.9 in 2005).

    Synching up with the general feeling of denial and isolation popular with family holidays, the increased giving does not meet increased wishing:

    • Only 35% of giftees would rather get a gift card than, well, a gift.

    Still, some making their lists and checking them twice are bucking the "happy holidays, do your own shopping" trend.

    • 22% say they don't like to give gift cards because they're too impersonal.

    And, while some might consider that a nice dose of good-old-fashioned thoughtfulness, D&T flags it as a potential opportunity for retailers to market and sell gift cards to those who remain reluctant to buy them. So, get to it, advertisers - let's get the gifts out of gift giving this year!

    August 18, 2006

    Meijer Creates Demand Surge with Text

    192870339_a540959fa1_o

    I've come to enjoy my cell phone relationship with advertisers. Either I am merely lucky or text marketers really have a true dedication to "opt in," an ethic spammers have long since slewn in the email world. Showtime texts me when the new season of my favorite show kicks off; my credit card company reminds me a payment date is approaching; it's all good.

    But, check out this latest campaign by Meijer - they're offering text addicts a 5-hour head start on slurping up the last of today's gas prices. Piloted in Indianapolis, Meijer simply notifies registered shoppers of approaching price hikes.

    It's an interesting campaign. And, I'm not convinced that Meijer is the appropriate credible source for a campaign like this. After all, they have a vested interest in both the price and the volume. As all retailers live day-to-day on the latest traffic and basket numbers, I can understand the impetuous to create the demand. And, of course, to exploit the American need to always get a better deal than his neighbor...

    Next, I'm looking for "full service small talk alerts" - weather, gas prices and a local sports score all in one message.

    Found by Richard Masoner on Flickr

    June 04, 2006

    Brawny Academy: Retro TV online

    Brawny

    After much buzz about Lifetime’s Perfectmatch.com show last week, I thought we’d pretty well soiled our advertising selves in the retro world of brand-sponsored TV, but it looks like this is just the beginning of our return to a campy TV world where everything really can be made with Campbell’s Soup…

    Next stop: Brawny Academy

    Working with veteran reality show producers the Feists and Biscuit's Tim Godsall, Fallon is about to launch an 8-episode online TV serial called “Brawny Academy.” In the show, under-performing hubbies have been recruited for a retraining experience that looks like something between Survivor and the early seasons of The Real World.

    The trailer includes some fun clips:

    • Sloppy men living with actual pigs
    • See-what-women-go-through races, forcing the men into high heels to push baby carriages, clean windows, etc.
    • Attempts to school the eight in the “masculine” arts – like an ax tossing lesson where all miss the target
    • And, genuinely horrible dancing

    Overall, it appears to be a laugh or SCREAM proposition, heralding back to the original days of brand TV and wallowing in the social stigmas of the time. High heels and baby carriages? What a conceit. Try long hours and getting the pizza boxes out to the trash.

    (Oh, but I'm not saying I won't watch it. TV I can watch at the office. Come on, you got me.)

    Submitted by: Mr. Lance Dooley

    June 02, 2006

    Maybe it is a conversation afterall ...

    Very interesting news from the Pew Internet & American Life Project:

    "35% of all Internet users have posted one or more of four types of content to the internet: having one's own blog; having one's own webpage; working on a blog or webpage for work or a group; or sharing self-created content such as a story, artwork, or video."

    The numbers are even higher when you limit to homes with broadband (42%) or adults under 30 (51%).

    The stories about the 1% rule really had me worried about the future of user-generated content on the Web, but this research definitely hints at a larger conversation going on out there... (well, right here really)

    ClickZ story
    PDF Report

    Found at: Emergence Marketing

    May 26, 2006

    Treasure Hunters: "Cheap is good"

    I'm just heading out of that age group plagued by competitive consumption - first house, best job, nicest car, trendiest furniture... sometime in the early 30s, people fall out: the ones who were leading the packs of their college friends (and thus will likely have to do so forever) all the way down to those that just blew it and are done trying (that's me!).

    So, I'm having a hard time seeing this growing consumer trend that's been hitting the news all over: treasure hunters.

    I love this phrase in BCG's paper:

    Today everybody loves a bargain, and people boast about the low prices they pay. You feel smart to spend the smallest amount you can, no matter how wealthy you are. It used to be that the janitor would drive an old Cadillac to show he had class. Now the Mercedes-Benz driver shops at Target to show she has smarts.

    And, this is the telling stat: Aldi - the world's leading hard-discount retailer for food and household goods is the third most respected brand in its German homeland - right behind Siemans and BMW.

    I think Target is in a pretty close respect parallel in this country. But, if the trend continues, I could see a Big Lots - morally unambiguous, unlike a Walmart - really taking a leap in brand awareness and aspiration.

    A couple of other motivators and drivers:

    • Nearly two out of five shoppers (39.4%) said they "save a lot in some places and splurge in others".
    • 71% said "it makes me happy" when they purchase an item because it's good value for money. More than half (59%) said "it's exciting" and the 51% said "it feels like I'm on a treasure hunt";
    • Most consumers (92.3%) said they tell people about their successes - and how much they paid - when they get a great deal on something special to wear or for their home;      
    • Almost three-quarters (73.3%) of Americans said they had purchased an item that they didn't need at the time, simply because it was good value for money;      
    • Three-quarters (75.1%) said they believe "cheap is good" in some categories.
    • Almost two-thirds (64%) of Americans said there are more places now than there were five years ago to find real value for money when shopping;
    • 73.1% of Americans identified themselves as "savvy shoppers".

    Read the studies:
    Cheap is Good
    Treasure Hunt

    May 21, 2006

    Fast Company: Turning around JWT

    Dear reader, here's something infinitely better than the blog you're reading now. I started out wanting to hate Ryan and Montague and ready to sue on behalf of Hildie Neuman, but in the end, it was inspiring or scary or maybe both.

    Rehab: An advertising love story

    (Funny, sounds like the name of an Augusten Burroughs' book)

    (If have a love-hate or a hate-hate relationship with your boss, it really might be worth picking up a copy of the magazine this month - the picture of Ryan is horrific. I cannot look away.)

    Preaching to the unconverted

    Zzzzzz7654190

    "A brand cannot blog - only people can."

    Totally obvious observation by Collective Conversation, right? Except it's the single biggest barrier to really leveraging blogs (or wikis or social networks or ...) in advertising. Our agencies and our clients are so used to the neatly tied-up package, the perfectly executed "brand voice," the controlled environment, that they can't see the tremendous opportunity to exploit the real voices of consumers who use the brand. Who don't even care about the word brand, but who know what stores / products / places they love and where they have to go every week. Who have implicit credibility and an inexhaustible ability to talk about their passions.

    Look at the way we execute "word of mouth" campaigns. We hire BzzAgent to launch co-opted "consumers" into the marketplace. Look at our testimonial campaigns - all executed on TV or radio, after careful editing. Successful advertising? Yes. All it could be? Not even close.

    I was reminded the other day just how quickly everything we talk about in blog world has really happened. Reminded when one of the smartest marketers I know asked me what IMDB is ... and, then what a wiki is.

    Of course, every technology isn't right for every client, but there are opportunities being left on the table for lack of guts and knowledge. Fast Company offers a nice piece this month on the next wave of social networks. And, there's lot we all know that somehow has to seed the next wave of annual reviews, advertising budgets and media plans ... how to get there?

    May 03, 2006

    Customer experience - in a tube

    An unlikely set of marketing and advertising trends seem to be crescendoing together - brand experiences growing ever-more personal and in-media product placements (which I consider at the opposite end of the spectrum from a personal experience) growing ever-more-ubiquitous.

    At this odd intersection of the personal pitch and the celebrity endorsement, I expect testimonials and personal product stories to become more and more effective. Not just for Men's Warehouse anymore, these personal stories are a quick path to credibility. And, big brands are already collecting.

    Bryan over at Room 116 found this testimonial booth (a la NPR's StoryCorps) in Rockefellar Center. With a pretty interface and a scripted recording scheme, Jet Blue collected flyers' favorite moments (and likely some pretty rough b-roll, too). Pretty smart strategy ... had to be The Ad Store, I think. Anybody know?

    Dscf1365 Dscf1365crop Dscf1368

    April 11, 2006

    A call to agency HR departments, managing supervisors, creative directors, et al.

    Interesting factoid from Human Resources Executive magazine (I have a client in that industry) -

    Seventy-seven percent of companies said they do not have enough successors to their current senior-level managers already working in their organizations, according to a survey of 168 HR managers at U.S. companies.

    Dear agencies,

    Although career newbies are certainly cheaper, more pliable and generally easier to deal with, it's worthwhile to balance the hiring with cantankerous vets who are capable of strategy, pitching and, what the heck, the occasional tantrum about remembering the fundamentals.

    Yes, yes, I know you're going to mentor and train the newbies. When there's time. Very soon, really. Well, after this project or pitch or quarter. But, soon, really.

    But until then, there's still that one thing we've learned from the now long-past dot-com era: a bunch of 20-somethings are rarely the ideal business owners. Or, perhaps more relevantly stated, if your direct reports don't include at least one person who can do your job, how the heck are you ever going to retire / move on / move up / get the heck out of there?

    Much love,

    Advergirl

    (Primary research source: Right Management Consultants, Philadelphia)

    April 07, 2006

    Testing commercial EFFECTIVENESS

    Commercial_crunch796261gif

    Interesting news from the Wall Street Journal - USA Network is working with Starcom on a five day test of substantially shorter commerical breaks - to see how people respond to a less cluttered advertising environment.

    A typical commercial break is two to four minutes. (The chart above shows that for the average hour of programming, users see 15 minutes of commercials.)

    One USA program will feature a commercial break that runs just one minute - AllState and Walgreen bought the two 30-second spots.

    (In all this talk about the death of the 30-second spot, I haven't heard anyone talking about how a change in direction by the networks could results in a huge drop in supply, skyrocketing of costs, etc.)

    The test is focused on how (lack of) clutter effects message recall. But, surely, there must also be some interest in interaction by DVR users. Is the one minute break not worth the aggravation of fast forwarding, only to go past the program start, rewinding, whoops - missed it again...

    Found at: Brandflakes for Breakfast (the best named ad blog out there)

    April 04, 2006

    Now that you've bought the Heavenly Bed, what's next?

    Maybe product placements really are the way to go. Craftsman and Sam's Club make it work on prime time. Every hotel from Westin to Holiday Inn wants you to leave with everything from their linens to their fixtures (will we be buying the ugly hotel wall prints soon?)

    And, now NBC is reselling all the cool wardrobe and props seen on their shows.

    A company called Delivery Agent partnered with NBC to let shoppers find TV-worthy fashions and furnishings by  by episode, character, set, category, or designer. I guess I can't quibble too much - after all, I'd much rather buy Grace's pants than the Holiday Inn's shower head.

    Picture_12_1

    Found at Room 116

    America loves silliness

    AdAge published IAG Research's March Ad Ratings today. Leaders in likeability included the sad Pedigree "Max needs a good home" spot and M. Night Shyamalan's American Express oddness.

    But, the most recalled list looked very different - the Windex birds tricking a homeowner into running into his own clean glass window; Jay Mohr's talent negotiations for the Diet Pepsi can; and Comcast's high speed phobic turtles.

    The most memorable stories this month are definitely unlikely, funny ones. I'm not sure what this proves. Except possibly that America prefers silliness. And, talking animals. Still, it's an interesting list to take a look at.

    MONTH'S TOP 10 MOST-LIKED, MOST-RECALLED NEW TV SPOTS

    Need a login? Foiling your fellow marketers with fake names and email addresses no longer fun? Try bugmenot for a quick login.

    March 29, 2006

    Dr. Pepper publicity ploy?

    Adage_pepperYou may have already seen the "shelved" Dr. Pepper spots on AdAge.com today. Story is that the soda marketers finished the $5 million spots with  WPP Group before deciding to start over with Y & R.

    So, why are they online? Generally when a client nixes a spot, the explicit direction is don't associate this with our brand. Not, skip the media buy, but buzz it around the Internet.

    Are marketers increasingly hoping they become the next big viral? Maybe playing on the success of some big word-of-mouse winners?

    [W+K London says that their "Choir" ad for Honda Civic has been downloaded 3,000,000 times in a month since launch and that the iPod version of the spot has got into the Top 50 chart on iTunes. "The microsite had a record 679,000 unique visitors during the same reporting period. This led to Honda's highest level of test drive bookings ever."]

    I'm wondering how long until our broadcast group is developing Internet-only spots, outtakes, etc.
     
    Thanks to Ian for the find and the question...

    Continuous partial attention

    We advertising types tend to be mobile peoople - jumping clients, jobs, even cities. And, with each jump comes the constant undercurrent of negotiating the de facto rules of the situation. The dress code says x, but people really wear y. The business hours are 8 - 5, but it's a career killer to leave before 7. And, then there's availability...

    The mobile world has made negotiating the issue of "availability" even more insistent. You can check email 24-hours a day and some people would suggest that you should. You can interuppt an evening with your loved ones to take six phone calls from coworkers or you can turn off the phone after 7. What to do ...

    Collective Conversation found this great article called "(Some) Attention Must Be Paid!" from Newsweek,

    "A live BlackBerry or even a switched-on mobile phone is an admission that your commitment to your current activity is as fickle as Renée Zellweger's wedding vows. Your world turns into a never-ending cocktail party where you're always looking over your virtual shoulder for a better conversation partner. The anxiety is contagious: anyone who winds up talking to a person infected with CPA (continuous partial attention) feels like he or she is accepting an Oscar, and at any moment the music might stop the speech."

    "Constantly being accessible makes you inaccessible."

    Makes you want to lose your cell phone for a while, huh?

    March 28, 2006

    Instant photo marketing

    Picture_marketingGreat gadget marketing!

    Use this instant Polaroid camera to create personalized branded experiences.

    1. Take a pic of a willing consumer.
    2. Camera prints a ticket with a unique URL.
    3. Consumer goes to URL to see pic in fun branded environment.
    4. If your luck holds, they pass it on to friends to ooooh and aaaah over.

    Check out the site
    .

    Found at: MIT Advertising Lab

    March 23, 2006

    Smart is the new dumb

    Adage

    Just a little jab at my more accomplished colleagues - a new study covered in AdAge found that MBAs may be a liability for successful marketing. It compared underperforming brands to outperforming brands and found tons of MBAs holed up in the underperforming bunkers.

    Sure, the methodology sounds pretty dicey, but, it's fun water cooler conversation anyway.

    Need a login, try bugmenot.

    Oh, and MBA or not - if you're a PR or retail ad guru and live in Columbus or would be willing to move to the little city, track me down to talk about some new opportunities.

    The Financial Impact of Blogs

    I've been a little behind on catching up on all my favorite blogs lately - so, forgive the repetition if this is old news, but I've seen a number of hits on my traffic reports this week from Google Finance. Seems that the BETA engine thinks blogs are an important driver of corporate reputation - the same page that includes topline financials and management bios also includes a snapshot of the latest blog coverage of the brand.

    March 13, 2006

    Hill | Holiday: Abandonning the corporate Web site for a blog.

    Check out this great find from AdPulp:

    Hill / Holiday has replaced their corporate Web site with a Flash banner and a blog. What's more, it looks like not all the contributors are staffers. I haven't read enough to be 100% sure yet, but I think I love it -

    About the blog:
    Yep, we've read all the headlines, digested all the stats. The foundations of mid-20th century marketing are eroding all around us. So what are we going to do about it? Discuss.
    http://www.hhcc.com/

    March 08, 2006

    Average Internet viewing overtakes TV watching

    Check out this article from the BBC -

    UK media consumers are changing their diets:

    Each year, they spend:

    41 days online
              vs.
    37 days watching TV

    If anyone knows of a similar US-based study, I'd love to see it. For now, though, it looks like marketers should be worrying less about Tivo and worrying more about reaching consumers on their monitors.

    Edelman's Blogging Blunder or Bloggers Edelman Blunder?

    Hmm, what does it mean when your boss sends you (a known blogger) an article that includes the phrase "most of us know bloggers need to be watched"?

    Not much of a conspiracy it turns out - just another great story about what happens when BDAs (big dumb agencies) and even bigger clients (Wal-Mart in this case) rush into word-of-mouse media with all the customization and audience awareness of a big clunky direct mail campaign.

    This time - Edelman PR gurus appealed to blogger egos with an offer of exclusive access to PR-generated "news stories" about Wal-Mart.

    Interestingly, the Motley Fool criticizes bloggers for the ethical lapse of just repeating the company line verbatim and - in doing so - dinging their own credibility. And, the New York Times questions why bloggers didn't cite the source in their praise of Wal-Mart.

    These PR tactics may make the hiring companyies look sneaky and under-handed, but the media is holding bloggers accountable, too. Turns out playing online in your jammies requires social responsibility.

    In other blogging faux pas news - Bob Lutz of GM is being criticized on the Web for calling for customer feedback and then not responding to it.

    No question - it's hard to do everything right in this new customer-focused conversation marketing.

    Question: We've seen a number of these heavy handed blog strategies go bad lately. Do agencies who blog (like the fabulous Hill & Knowlton writers) have a better pulse on bloggers than agencies who just stick to their clunky Flash Web sites?

    What do you think?

    February 20, 2006

    We still don't care if you smile.

    A couple of parallel thoughts here...all toward authentic, effective, storytelling marketing.

    Track 1. Arnold Worldwide has retained BzzAgent for a Hershey word-of-mouth marketing campaign. BzzAgent reps 130,000 consumers who trade their product evangelism for cash, product samples or coupons. These co-opted consumers are lurking in the refrigerated meat section of the grocery extolling sausages and infiltrating the family BBQ with tasty free samples.

    Track 2. Creating Passionate Users blogger makes a good point about refreshing testimonials. That in the changing "empowered consumer" environment, the truly effective compliment can't be about how great your company is, but about how the user is happier / healthier / more successful / etc. The testifier has to tell her story, not ours.

    Track 3. In a brief conversation with Northlich's Brian Newberry, he asked me, how long have people been talking about word of mouth? His answer: For decades. It's not a new idea (it's just more top-of-mind than usual). In fact, the influencer marketing department in his agency has been doing just that for P&G for years - getting influencers (doctors, pharmacists, people with large social networks) to learn about a product so that they are empowered to pass that information on.

    Track 4. As companies and brands get bigger and more remote, their social role is deteriorating. They've lost the story of their inception, the come-from-behind accomplishment of a crack IT team who worked long nights to discover something that changed the way someone worked, the people who bought in on day one and still call it the best place they ever worked, the investor who made a leap of faith, the unique way ideas are still generating, etc…

    We’ve lost that personification, that human element or storytelling that made brands and companies passionate – someone’s dream – not just a big, blank-faced behemoth. Some are trying to get back to those storytelling roots – a big departure for our marketer clients who are used to extolling product virtues and writing case studies.

    All this, I think, is to this question – assuming that successful marketing is becoming more social, more personal, higher touch, can we buy and sell that (as marketers / advertisers)? And, if we can, can the buyers live out the promise of the advertising in the more authentic way that today’s higher visibility requires?

    Will the growing transperancy created by the Internet, by compliance regulations, etc., etc., force marketers to get closer to the front lines of their business? Or, are we just repackaging the flawed message that the cashiers at McDonalds really love to see us smile?

    February 19, 2006

    What are you thinking about today?

    Ten years after its mind-changing launch, Fast Company is celebrating its anniversary with new ideas on who and what will shape our lives in the next ten years. Even as many have started to doubt the value of a publication that embraces the passion in work and scoffs at the popularly held belief that we should build a barrier between the office and rest-of-life, I think it’s an evolving and invaluable refuge for optimistic people who believe that work should be fun, can be meaningful and is as much a part of our “real” lives as the hours of television and tons of Doritos we consume after 5.

    A few excerpts from this month’s Fast Company – the people who will change how we work and live over the next 50 years –

    From Fast Talk: What’s the biggest change facing business in the next 10 years:

    "During my research for Bait and Switch, I was told again and again that the basis of hiring is not your skills or experience, but how likable you are. The rationale is that you have to be a 'team player' and conform, in great detail, down to the shape of your lapel pin. In what kind of team does everyone have to be the same?

    There seems to be a growing culture of incompetence where who knows whom and who likes whom weigh more than getting the job done."

    >>Barbara Ehrenreich, Writer


    "When people are in front of a screen, they can either lean back or lean forward. You have to engage consumers emotionally, tell them a story, so they lean in and get involved. That's the challenge for business going forward. Steve Jobs understands that any MP3 player does what the iPod does. But he has made his products irresistible. You're engaged, so it doesn't matter that the batteries still don't work."

    >>Kevin Roberts, Worldwide CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi


    "The Web creates transparency, which will make competition tougher and in turn, business better. When a company messes up, it will be very visible…
    There will be a profound change in psychology as people realize how much power they hold. Empowered people are going to begin to realize this. When they walk into a Wal-Mart, they're going to want to know how a product was made and under what conditions. They will assume they have the right to ask because they can do so on the Web."

    >>Esther Dyson, Editor, Release 1.0 (for CNet Networks)


    "…you have to assume everything is an open book. You better not have anything going on that if it were known, we'd be ashamed of. When there are fewer secrets, there is greater motivation to do the right thing.

    I think this is part of a larger trend, toward business having a greater responsibility in society than just maximizing profits. Customers want that, employees want that, and shareholders want that: They want businesses to be good citizens.
    "

    >>John Mackey, Chairman, CEO, and cofounder, Whole Foods Market Inc.

    http://www.fastcompany.com/subscr/103/fast-talk.html


    From Demographics: The population Hourglass

    And, on the topic of demographics, Andrew Zolli takes us into the demographic shifts that will “will upend our political, economic, and technological priorities and redefine our markets” in the next 10 years.

    Check out these topline notes for us Xers:

    "This great boomer tri-furcation will in turn create a paradox for the gen-Xers coming up behind them. Some Xers will find themselves in the midst of an enormous job boom created by the vacating boomers, who will leave open far more jobs than there are qualified Xers to fill them. (And there will be much rejoicing.) At the same time, some Xers will find themselves trapped behind a new glass ceiling--the boomer "ass ceiling" if you will--blocked from their next career step because an all-too-healthy or all-too-indebted precursor just can't or won't retire.

    Making all of this intergenerational jockeying even more complex, the millennials will soon begin showing up in the workforce en masse, carting along a heady mix of ravenous careerism, natural social networking and IT skills, a thirst for learning, and a rather presumptuous expectation of direct contact with senior management. How this perky generation, which is more like the boomers than any generation in between, will get along with the perennially annoyed Xers will be the fodder for beloved sitcoms in 2013. "

    And, yet another warning to product planners and markets about the dominance of women in the marketplace:

    "Women's economic achievement is already seeding the clouds for a deluge of distaff marketing and product development. According to the National Association of Realtors, the percentage of single female home buyers in the past 20 years has nearly doubled, placing them second only to married couples. And the number of women buying high-end consumer electronics like plasma televisions is growing faster than the number of men (a reality yet to sink in at the big-box stores)."

    http://www.fastcompany.com/subscr/103/open_essay-demographics.html

    February 14, 2006

    Eight Warnings for an Ad Exec

    Below are ten very salient warnings from Verizon CMO John Stratton at a recent Madison & Vine conference.  I’m posting these apropos of a brief chat I had with a colleague about making WOM a commodity.

    [See coverage of Buzz Marketing in AdAge and longer-form New York Times story ]

    Seems that both topics hit on the most challenging issue we’re facing as messaging gets more personal: how to do it authentically? How to get people at the C-level to start thinking about ways to be so responsive that they earn ambassadors. Not buy them. How to get agencies telling real stories, engaging in new types of interactions and actively figuring out how new communications work – rather than just retrofitting old ideas into new technologies.

    It’s possible that what we’re watching isn’t an evolution of technology. It’s an evolution of culture. And, it’s going to take much more than what we’re currently doing to be advocates of our clients in this emerging landscape.

    Onto Stratton’s warnings:

    1. Your clients are absolutely in trouble and they are looking for you to save them.
    2. What you’ve been selling for the last 50 years no longer works.
    3. Major marketing money is going to be in motion in the next decade and no one really yet understands exactly where it will land, if it even will land, or if it will just disappear all together.
    4. Before they figure out where to put their money, your marketer clients will hire and fire agency after agency, seeking someone, anyone , who can tell them where they might go next.
    5. CMO average tenure, already famously brief, will get even shorter as CEOs begin to recognize how much money they are blowing on antiquated media plans.
    6. Your marketer clients are really seeking one thing and one thing only: an audience for the message they are trying to convey to the marketplace.
    7. But your clients actually need more than just an audience. One of the consequences of evolution of our media-delivery systems over the last 10 years is that the audience you do ultimately find is much less receptive to the message you’re trying to send. They are absolutely armed and ready to get to the content they want while avoiding the message you are trying to implant within it.
    8. They need much more than an audience. They need an audience that cares about what they have to say. They need their message to be relevant to the audience they are saying it to.

    He noted that his office currently spends more than $1 billion a year for advertising on "overvalued, inefficient, rapidly eroding mass-market advertising platforms that continue to underdeliver," and that like many other major marketers, he is "not happy" with that situation.   -AdAge.

    February 13, 2006

    Fundemental changes in our business

    A few salient points from a very interesting post by Chris Perry on Morph, the online home of The Media Center Conversation. A few points that you could say could also be the mission of this blog...

    We need to make sure our colleagues aren't sitting comfortably at their desks thinking what they did even six months ago is adequate to handle business today. If we don't push our industries, and our people, to evolve with the times the relevance of our methods and trust in our counsel will evaporate overnight.

    ....

    Beyond experimentation with new platforms, more fundamental questions should be addressed in short order, like: Is emerging media an add-on program element or a fundamental component influencing your program strategy? Are you listening to the market and adapting your communications to become part of the conversation? Or are you even looking in the right places to understand where your message may be heard? These are now elementary considerations with much more to explore.

    Full article

    Starbucks: leave room for media?

    Influx lists some interesting highlights from Ken Lombard, Starbuck's head of entertainment, on their venture in the music and media space.

    • 100,000 employees and 10,500 stores serve as a distribution point for music
    • Starbucks signs deals to develop exclusive content for its customer
    • 35 million customers visit an average of 18 times per month
    • 307% increase in CD sales in 2005
    • Sell 20 titles at a time- want to provide consumers with an edited selection
    • The company plans to move into movies and has just signed a deal with Lion's Gate for promotion

    Read the full post.

    February 10, 2006

    Which trend will win - measureless marketing or scented checkbooks?

    BtoB reports a "renewed investment in intellectual capital and less of an obsession with return on investment" as a major marketing trend in 2006.

    The emerging trend was uncovered at the Business Marketing Association’s What to Expect in 2006 event Wednesday in New York. Panelists indicted the rear-view mirror approach of ROI and demanded a refocus on creativity and big ideas.

    Needless to say no clients nor their business-minded bosses were present.

    In other news, a UK agency called Brand Sense is out to build banking one sniff at a time.

    Their approach relies on Mr. Science statistics - 83% of all commercial communications are visual when 75% of our emotions are influenced by what we smell, and there’s a 65% chance our mood will change when we hear a new sound.

    Big fans of the Singapore Airlines patented flight attendant smell (er, perfume), their current project will use smell to calm consumer nerves. At an unnamed bank, Brand Sense will alter the environment of long waiting lines by creating a positive fragrance that will emphasize the bank's brand positioning of "personable, proper, fresh and new".

    The scary part - the scent will be sprayed in the banks and on the stationery - including checkbooks! Nothing like having your plumber think you squirted a little perfume before you slipped him a check for unclogging the commode.

    February 08, 2006

    But what if advertising doesn't die?

    While many commentators are busily proclaiming the death of traditional advertising, a few Net-savvy types are figuring out how to bring the flexibility, trackability and speed of online formats into the real world.

    Wired covers three approaching trends.

    My favorite is custom-tailored commercials - a single metafile working with special routers that can deliver custom creative by neighborhood and even take commands from clients - allowing them to quickly swap offers and creative in real time to respond to market trends.

    Read the article.
    PDF

    DVR views count toward ABC ad pricing

    “[F]or the media agencies to come to the TV networks and tell us they want to give us zero credit for TV viewing via DVRs is not a tenable position. It is unreasonable, unfair and unjust. It is just not a responsible way to approach this issue.”

    ::ABC sales president Mike Shaw

    Looks like December's Nielsen decision to issue three sets of TV ratings measurement is quickly translating into a dollar war.

    The December change accounted for DVR behavior for the first time, measuring viewership by live, live plus same day and live plus 7 days. Although network execs have already held press conferences explaining the upside of recorded reviewing, media buyers understandably don't want to buy time blocks likely to die by the fast forward button. In fact, several media agencies, including Magna Global USA and Carat, have publicly taken the position that live ratings should be the basis for ad-pricing negotiations.

    Interestingly, it may really be technology itself that's allowing this debate. Consumers (also known as people) have been recording and fast forwarding for years. DVR technology is just trackable whereas the old VHS was a invisible to the Nielsen.

    Media Week article

    February 07, 2006

    Changes afoot in logo universe

    Web20logos748593Stabilo Boss' personal collection of web 2.0 logos. Nice look at changes in trends - hardly a swoosh among them.

    February 06, 2006

    Anti-advergames

    Header

    I’m not sure what’s more interesting about this new anti-advergame – the idea that ad placements in video games and out-and-out branded games are so pervasive that there might be a backlash OR that a creator of advergames has actually created this game as some sort of upping the ante in viral marketing …

    …either way, looks fun. Who hasn’t been annoyed by disaffected Kinkos counter jockeys? (the embodiment of the challenge of creating a credible brand in advertising when the customer experience is delivered almost exclusively by people who earn less than $10/hour and are none too happy with their career options.)
     

    Disaffected! - a videogame parody of the Kinko’s copy store, a source of frustration from its patrons. Disaffected! puts the player in the role of employees forced to service customers under the particular incompetences common to a Kinko’s store. From a new series of persuasive games we call anti- advergames.

    Disaffected! gives the player the chance to step into the demotivated position of real FedEx Kinkos employees. Feel the indifference of these purple-shirted malcontents first-hand, and consider the possible reasons behind their malaise -- is it mere incompetence? Managerial affliction? Unseen but serious labor issues?

     

    State of the Blogosphere

    "It is literally impossible to read everything that is relevant to an issue or subject, and a new challenge has presented itself - how to make sense out of this monstrous conversation, and how to find the most interesting and authoritative information out there."

    David Sifry, founder and CEO of Technorati,
    on his State of the Blogosphere

     

    Highlights:

    • We are currently seeing about 30,000 - 40,000 new weblogs being created each day, depending on the day.
    • Compared to the past, this is well over double the rate of change in October, when there were about 15,000 new weblogs created each day.
    • The remarkable growth over the past 3 months can be attributed to the increase in new, mainstream services such as MSN Spaces, and in increases of use of services like Blogger, AOL Journals, and LiveJournal. In addition, services outside the United States have been taking off, including a number of media sites promoting blogging, such as Le Monde in France.
    • Part of the growth of new weblogs created each day is due to an increase in spam blogs - fake blogs that are created by robots in order to foster link farms, attempted search engine optimization, or drive traffic through to advertising or affiliate sites.
    • On average, Technorati is tracking about 500,000 posts per day, which is about 5.8 posts per second. In October 2004, we were seeing about 400,000 posts per day.

    This is Part 1 and 2 of an ongoing series ... keep an eye on his site for updates...

    February 03, 2006

    A rolling trend?

    Hubcap advertising in Dallas and Houston. Hubcaps (sold, I believe, on taxi fleets here) are stationary - no worries about what your creative looks like upside down.
    Article

    Adfleethubcaps

    311xinlinegallery

    Who do we trust now?

    The latest Edelman Trust Barometer ranked “someone like me” as the most credible source of information about commercial organizations.  "Someone like me" has risen to surpass doctors and academic experts for the first time. In the USA alone, trust in "a person like me" increased from 20% in 2003 to 68% in 2006.

    [You won’t be surprised to know that I’m wondering if the democratization of media – including blogs – in fueling this trend.]

    Respondents also consider rank-and-file employees more credible corporate spokespersons than CEOs (42% in 2006, compared to 28% in 2003).

    Other key findings:

    • Microsoft Corporation is the most trusted global company, followed by iconic companies in their home markets, including Toyota in Japan, Haier in China, Samsung in South Korea, and Petrobras in Brazil.
    • Opinion leaders in Europe apply a significant "trust discount" for major US brands, such as:
    • Coca-Cola (US = 65% vs. Europe = 41%);
    • McDonalds (51% vs. 30%);
    • P&G (70% vs. 44%);
    • UPS (84% vs. 53%).
    • Companies in the technology and retail sectors are the most trusted, while energy and media-entertainment are the least-trusted industries. Pharmaceutical concerns face considerable skepticism in the US and Germany, while financial firms fare much better in the US and Asia than in Europe.      
    • Television is the big loser in media trustworthiness. When asked where they turn first for trustworthy information, 29% of respondents in the US still cite TV first, down from 39% three years ago. The internet is now cited by 19%, up from 10% in 2003. The same trend is evident in the UK, where television has declined from 42% to 33% as respondents' first choice, while the internet has risen from 5% to 15%.      
    • Newspapers show rankings essentially unchanged in most markets, at approximately 20% across the board.
    • Articles in business magazines are the most credible source of information about a company (US = 66%, Canada = 53%, Brazil = 75%, and Europe = 60%), followed closely by friends and family, which has grown very strongly in the US (2003 was 35% vs. 2006 at 58%), and in Brazil (2004 was 66% vs. 2006 at 73%), and in Canada (2005 was 43% vs. 2006 at 58%).      
    • Trust has important bottom-line consequences. In most markets, more than 80% say they would refuse to buy goods or services from a company they do not trust, and more than 70% will "criticize them to people they know", with one-third sharing their opinions and experiences of a distrusted company on the web.

    February 02, 2006

    RSS: Yes, now

    For most agencies and clients, email marketing still has a strong hold on interactive communications. In many cases RSS (which some of us rely on daily ... um, hourly) hasn't even really hit the radar.

    With email marketing maturing and declining quickly, many savvy marketers are looking to RSS as the next logical opt in communication - and, as a huge proponent, I want to help get the word out.

    Here's a great new article on the subject, chock full of plenty of plain-spoken rationale to start to move clients toward adoption. And, below is a super quick primer on just what we're talking about -

    Email Morphs Into A Feed: The Progression from Email to RSS Content Distribution & Marketing

    RSS [Real Simple Syndication] lets users (also known as people) choose what content they want and where they want to get it. They can look at information when they have the time or desire to do so, rather than planning to get back to yet another message in their crowded inbox.

    The most ubiquitous users of RSS are bloggers. But, RSS – or the ability to subscribe to content – can been enabled on most any database-driven Web property.

    There are generally three ways to read RSS-enabled content

    • Visit the web page
    • Use an online new aggregator [Users simply create an account, and then start subscribing to feeds. They can come back to that single portal page at any time and see all the latest updates on the sites they subscribe to]
    • Download a reader. [Users also have the option to download a news aggregator, an RSS reader, that delivers the content right to their desktop or inbox. Newsgator, for example, is a popular RSS, which runs in Microsoft Outlook.]

    And, with the correct administration, RSS can also be set up to power email – enabling users to subscribe to email updates daily, weekly or monthly.               

    Many cell phone companies, free email providers and others are also starting to integrate RSS readers in their products.

    If you haven't already, click through and read the article.

    February 01, 2006

    Do it yourself advertising

    Spotrunnerlogo_1For the client who believes in less, Nick Grouf and David Waxman, founders of PeoplePC and Firefly, have just introduced Spotrunner - a virtual vanity press for low rent TV spots.

    Do-it-themselves advertisers pick from 1,000 generic modules of pre-existing, professionally shot spots that cost as little as $350 to lease. They add their own title cards and/or voiceovers and taglines.

    It’s not just account execs and creatives out on the street, though. Spotrunner lets users take over the media department, too, with a detailed media schedule featuring  à la carte prices that’s as user-friendly as ordering an item from an Internet retailer. Bravo in Berkeley, Calif. between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. will cost you a whopping $5. Want to advertise pizza delivery on ESPN when the local team is playing? That will run you $88—the profit on, say, 30 large pies?