Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saving is The New Message

What are financial services companies saying to customers?

ING recently launched the "We the Savers" program - a declaration of a personal financial independence. They're taking a simple, interactive and social approach to spread some thoughts on responsible saving. They're not telling us what to do as much as asking us to agree and comment.

While I applaud the effort it could do more - possibly feed our message directly to congress.

I hope this grows.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Impact of Social Media

Is it ROI or IOR?

Kyle Flaherty wrote a post about measuring Social Media the other day. I think its got the priorities straight - it's not only about the financial return of a(ny) tactic, but rather the impact on the business as a whole. For social media: Impact of Relationships.

It would be a bad for business to always pick the tactic or campaigns with the highest ROI. Why? Because measuring a purely financial outcome could result in disjointed, uncoordinated, and contradictory programs. We certainly don't let manufacturing pick their best ROI-project and sales theirs'. We might be making widgets and selling gadgets.

Key Question: As a business, why are we better off implementing this plan versus that plan?

Note: I thought ROI was invented by people trying to figure out where to invest scarce resources. I like Kyle's view better - promoting big-ROI projects got you a bonus and a better job.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Designing Social Media Monitoring

How does social media fit on a dashboard?

Instrument panels are designed to give a person the ability to understand how a system is working in an instant - no "Huh, what does that mean?" moments. In addition to functional clarity they are aligned strategically in the sense that the sum total of the information tells us how well we're proceeding toward an objective.

So, what do we do with social media?

As a 'media' we need to understand it relative to other media. If we think of media as a continuum from broadcast (in the broadest sense) to social (in the human sense) then there are two dynamics working. First, control, ownership, targeting and repetition of the message. Second, the weight given the message by the recipient. When broadcasting we have a lot of the former at the expense of influence which is eroding across tactics. When socializing we sacrifice the scalability of broadcasting for the nuance of personal conversations. I tend to think of media plans holistically as a number of working parts - almost in a top down - awareness, bottom up sense - personal recommendation.

As a tactic we need to understand how to measure it. We love to put labels on things and they have a habit of sticking well beyond their sell-by-date. For example, using 'online' and 'offline' as a means of categorizing media may be appropriate for a temporal campaign being optimized as it runs, but they do not belong in a strategic view of a business. Marketing programs should be designed to be inline with consumer expectations and resist the urge to use tactics to group things. The reason: different categories tend to grow their own measurement systems; that can't be later combined. Just consider Reach and Frequency vs. Impressions of TV and online broadcasts. Metrics should focus on their contribution to overall objective and not on the data that happens to be spun off by the tactics.
Social media is real - has been for a long time. The fact that some tactics now fit within the marketing spend is the new kid on the block. Rather than immediately carving out a place on the dashboard for this new data one should first examine how to roll it into business performance metrics - acquisition, retention and lifetime value.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book Recommendation: Back of the Napkin

Why should you read this book?

Dan Roam's "The Back of the Napkin" provides a great framework for visually presenting ideas - any idea, even if you can't draw. In fact, drawing isn't the point at all - its that the brain is hard wired to assimilate information through sight (or learning) pathways. The framework aligns questions like who, what, where and why with vehicles like portraits, charts, decision trees, and trends. To pick the right approach the SQVID is like a stereo equalizer to find the right approach.
So, the reptilian part of our brain 'gets it' faster than the 'thinking' part.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Marketing Illdefined

Why are the terms marketing and sales so confused?

I usually like Michael Gass' Fuel Lines, but this morning he has a quote that got me riled up.
“The sole purpose of Marketing is to sell more to more people, more often and for more money.”

This is from the person who brought us "New Coke", Sergio Zyman.

That sounds like the definition of sales and since Sales doesn't usually report to Marketing there must be something else going on. Sales is compensated for delivering the revenue and Marketing is responsible for greasing the wheels so to speak. How? By understanding better than anyone else how to satisfy their audience's needs.

For Marketing sales is an outcome, not an objective.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Take Two and You'll be Okay

How did Motrin get its recent headache?

This week's Warhol ad is one by Motrin, targeting mom's who carry their babies in a sling/wrap/pouch etc. thinking that these moms might need relief from pain. Specifically, the pain of carrying a baby this way. So, far so good because there might be a real need - I don't know. However, the manner and tone of the ad's execution suggests that the reasons for doing so have to do with fashion and trends and that it is a good idea 'in theory'. Hmm., not so good.

While the ads have been around for a month, the backlash reached critical mass this past weekend, particularly on Twitter . The result was a retraction of the ad as well as an apology from the maker - McNeil Consumer Products.

Three thoughts:
  1. Why the backlash? My sense is that the ad makes a 'loser' out of the very target market they wanted to reach. This violates rule #1: Never treat the intended audience with disdain. I'll give the makers of the ad the benefit of the doubt and think their intent was to use a bit of humor, but that is a very high-risk strategy.
  2. The role of social media, already being debated with a question about a groundswell of the many versus the Twitterverse of a few, is no longer an 'if' question. The discussion should use the Big Seed vs. Tipping Point ideas as a starting point on understanding influence better.
  3. The business school cases are probably already in draft mode. McNeil was considered a model of responsiveness when Tylenol was tampered with in '82 resulting in 30+ million bottles removed from the shelf. The causes are by no means equal, but the way the two issues were handled 25 years apart ought to make for some interesting discussion over the role and evolution of communication.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Curated Content and Brand Heritage

How does one manage consumer generated content?

In an interview with eMarketer, Jack Meyer talks about striking the balance between brand-control and brand-hijacking. He suggests that content should be treated as submissions to a juried art exhibit - a group of experts and trusted advisers select the pieces that are put on exhibit.

For this strategy to work one must be sure of the objective and intent of the brand and select elements that reflect the essence and not the trappings of the brand. As in the art world, there will be good exhibits and the not-so-good menagerie of the unrelated. The curator of a major exhibit or a museum has an important and unseen job in selecting the appropriate objects; the best have a strong vision and a sense of purpose.

Brands embarking on a consumer generated content strategy need to choose the curator first in order to establish the theme. And since we're talking about brand heritage, this shouldn't be the intern.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Ultimate Question

How would we market if there were no media?

With all due respect to Fred Reichheld and recommendations; the real challenge today is how to market under the presumption that a) media is loosing its effectiveness, b) web sites are no longer attractive destinations, and c) cocoon spinning is the new past time?

Taking a long term view, it may be that what need you solve and what you stand for become more important than products, messages, offers and other tactics. It seems that neither direct response nor broadcast branding are appropriate. I'm reluctant to go down the 'grassroots', 'movement' or 'groundswell' paths because they conjure up a different set of images -- but there's something there to consider.

So, designing marketing programs starts with some soul searching of what is, exactly, that we do? It isn't the "we're in the transportation as opposed to train business" (apologies to Ted Levitt's 'Marketing Myopia'); it has to be more personal than that.

The Acid Test for Social Media

How do you know if you should 'do' social media?

Had the opportunity to meet and chat with Trey Reeme at SWOMFest. He works for a credit union and a recent post of his succinctly answered the question:

"If you’re not first doing something compelling in the real world, don’t bother getting into social media."

TDECU's "Young and Free Texas" project is a prime example of doing something both useful and compelling. And guess what, it's not about a product or even a brand - its about supporting an audience at its core, emotional level.

As the economy shifts from consumption-centric to something else (and I'm not sure what yet), the focus of marketing should be on understanding what the long term benefit of the relationship is. For some products, e.g. cars, electronic retailers, etc. - the answer might just well be that there isn't a real reason. Companies that can't answer 'what benefit do we deliver and what are we known for' are likely to be roadside litter. >

Friday, November 07, 2008

Complex Moving Parts

What has social media done to marketing?

On one hand it has created an extremely complex and daunting set of relationships and touch points out of a variety of technologies. On the other hand, when it all comes together it runs very smoothly -- like this 1850's Tobias watch.

Designing marketing programs today requires using a wide variety of tools, all in sync with another to achieve a measurable objective.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Social Media as Predictor

How well does social media predict things?

The day before the election Jeremiah Owyang published a wealth of stats on the Obama and McCain supporters, friends, and fans use of social media. The bottom line was at least a 3:1 advantage in favor of Obama. As we now know the election was much closer: a six (6) point spread between the two candidates, 52-46.

Funny thing - that difference is roughly the same as the point spread between Democrats and Republicans that have a social network profile: 30% to 23% (based on 5,000 registered voters 18+).

So there is clearly a difference between having social network profiles and using social media. The comments and links in the original post to other analyses support the point that engagement is higher, e.g. the Kiva numbers. What we don't know is that elusive thing called "intent" or "purpose."

I wonder if it comes down to a society vs. individual question: We're all in this together vs. I'm going alone and don't need much help. If so, we need to figure out how that relates to marketing.

Monday, November 03, 2008

SWOMFest Summary

What was the key take away from a word-of-mouth conference?

Had the privilege to attend SWOMFest 1.0 last week in Austin - a gathering on 'word-of-mouth'. For an excellent recap of the events see Spike Jones' blog at Brains-on-Fire.

My take: word-of-mouth is an outcome, not an intention. You have succeeded when positive word-of-mouth occurs.

To succeed you must satisfy several criteria:
  1. Know what you're doing and why: Purpose
  2. Communicate through vehicles that tug at peoples' emotions: Stories
  3. Recognize that things change in ways you can't predict: Adaptation

As Trey Reeme of Young&Free Texas said: be the mouthpiece, not the mouth.