Friday, January 25, 2008

Worst Pick Up Line

What were they thinking?

The history of Xerox is laid out on Laura Ries' "Origin of Brands". The print ad with the headline

This Xerox machine can't make a copy

makes me shudder. They owned the term, the category, the mind -- and lost them all.

If it can't, it must be broken.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Your Specialty is Your Brand

How do you link sales and marketing?

Offering 'wide selection, good service, and best prices' is a very common online strategy for retailers. It is also the most likely to guarantee mundane results. Everybody says it and nobody is different. Getting people to understand what it is that makes you different will help them understand why they should work/shop/visit with you. Thus, your brand is your specialty.

This is particularly true if you use search in your marketing mix. As that tactic continues to grow, both in terms of share of online spending and in absolute terms, the competition for general key words will get terribly expensive. To succeed you must focus on (and own) those ideas most closely related to what it is exactly that you do better than anyone else.

While William Bernbach of VW "Think Small" fame was referring to advertising most of the time, his quotes often reflect marketing. This one speaks volumes:
"In advertising not to be different is virtually suicidal."

If you can't find a way to differentiate yourself, then get out of business.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Wanamaker (or Leverhulme) Question

Why is half your advertising wasted?

Seth Godin has reduced the answer to four words. Who vs. how many.

Hopefully you can figure out your target market and start there. Simply put, once you've reached your target; you should stop spending - no matter how 'big' the rest of the world is.

Help the poor soul who finds his target last.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Facebook Saving Face or Egg on the Face

Did I read this right?

In a post on GigaOM written by Stacey Higginbotham about Mark Zuckerburg's appearance on 60 Minutes there's a quote that I had to read a couple of times.
“I mean, there have to be ads either way because we have to make money…We have 400 employees. We have to support all that and make a profit.”
The quote is both short-sighted and immature.

Successful businesses align their solutions with the needs of their customers. Yes, advertisers and agencies (and I work for one) are enticed by the promise of social networks; but if people aren't there in the mood to shop then no amount of advertising is going to work. (ok, you can make a branding argument if you'd like, but the metric that matters at the end is revenue.)

Facebook didn't start as means of facilitating commercial transactions; the switch to another business model will be very difficult and if successful will be for a different audience segment.

Five Nines: 99.999%

Is that level of precision good?

Well, it depends on what you're measuring. For systems like 911 it is an indicator of reliability or guaranteed up time. Even at five nines the system could be down around 5 minutes a year; still might be considered too much. It is a very expensive proposition to get this level of service - triple redundancy, remote hosting across different parts of the power grid, etc.

In marketing, particularly lead generation in competitive categories, five nines is often the level of misaligned effort. Consider the following for display ads:

Click-through Rate: 0.1% (yes that is one tenth of one percent)
Convert to Lead: 1%
Convert to Sale: 5%

So, for every 2 million impressions you get 1 sale. This makes even bargain basement networks or sites look expensive in the end. A $2 CPM equates to a $4,000 Cost per Acquisition.

Since well over 99.999% of the impressions are "wasted", what can we do?

  1. Target better - explore behavioral, geo, and related category options. But that still works on the assumption that a clear link from a click to a sale is the only thing on the path, so don't stop there.
  2. Capture intent better - the standard 'give me your name and we'll send you' info may work in the CPL-compensated world but may not be the best strategy for this category
  3. Treat it is branding - this alone is a cop out. But the impact of branding advertising on search and choice should be understood because it does help cut through the clutter of unknowns. Now it is true you end up paying twice in a sense - once for the display ad and then again for the lead from an aggregator/affiliate, but you do end up with the lead.
  4. Say it differently. Even a slight improvement in the original CTR cascades into financial metrics that would make the CFO smile. And this means understanding your audience really, really well.