Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Marketers love to not know

Harry Webber wrote an interesting post on his blog discussing the cluelessness of marketers and advertisers:

"Right now the weight is on the big interactive shops like Razorfish, Sapient and Digitas to come up with the breakthroughs. Those guys believe that the tailoring of messages via computer technology to a person's interests based on past purchases or preferences is where everything is heading. Of course that all sounds very efficient and stuff. But what is also important is the manner in which a message is conveyed.

Those guys are great with technology, but in the messaging, or content as they call it...not so much. It's the same as when you meet someone with whom you share similar interests, but despite that, you never really click because you find something in that person's manner off-putting. Technology alone will never be able to adjust our sales approach and delivery to better fit with an individual or situation.

The great untapped potential lies in being able to establish electronic connections with consumers in ways that are not always based on having a huge database of past consumption habits. Which means we have to develop ways of cataloguing emotional traits and human reactions. That's when those of us who don't know nothin' will have the means at their disposal to begin to learn somthin'. I'm not holding my breath on that one."

My theory: The advertising business will separate into two, distinctive businesses:
One will be data-driven: low margins, marketing based on algorithms and data-modeling. Google/Doubleclick and aQuantive/Microsoft are well on the way to dominate that market. Agencies will become secondary, just like SEM agencies are becoming less and less important.

The other business will be experiential, conversational, participatory and people-driven. This core business model will revolve around problem solving for clients. And people.

If you're in this field, you will have to understand that it's going to be messy, chaotic and exciting. We will have to adapt in real time to changing problems, solutions and opportunities. And focus on business problems and not on media tasks.
I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Logic, not emotion

David Koopmans posted on his Facebook this thought-provoking video about the climate change and the choices we're making. It's ten minutes of real value.

Thanks to Crikey for creating this.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Are we still discussing this?

Chuq Von Rospach of Chuqui 3.0 is in deep denial when it comes to User Generated Content.

To quote him:

"It think it would be useful if we get out of the thinking that we're getting everyone involved in content creation. what we're doing is lowering the barrier of entry (cost, complexity, availability) to make it easier for more people to get involved.

I think it's also useful to separate content creation from creating an online identity. What goes on on facebook isn't necessarily content creation. Setting up a profile isn't really getting involved in content creation..."

He's right in some respect: We know the old formula that talk radio callers account for less than 1% of the overall audience.
But I feel that Chuq limits content creation to traditional content. Blogs are being created and updated by millions of people every day. More importantly, what happens on a minute by minute basis on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube or gaziilion of other platofrms, the thesis of 1% becomes irrelevant.

All the data points created by users might feel like arbitrary idea exchanges but, in time, these data points will become content in itself. Let's not forget: We're just at the beginning.

From douchebag to douchebag

Nice find by Scott Monty.

So, am I a New Media Douchebag? Sure, once in a while. But the longer I focus on Social Media the more I feel enlightened. Not more confused.

And, the search function on YouTube is horrendous. When will the Google Search Team meet with the YouTube Search Team? Yesterday would be nice.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ron Paul and Digg: Abuse or Grassroots PR?

I've downloaded the Digg Screensaver a few days ago and immediately realized something very strange: Ron Paul's name is extremely prominent on Digg. So prominent that it made me suspicious. I know that the rather obscure candidate has a loyal following and there's grassroots interest in his campaign. But does it really translate into constant mention of his activities?

Apparently, my gut feeling was right Especially the comments showcase that Paul supporters see nothing wrong with it.

Just like stuffing the ballot box, I don't think this marketing tactic is ethical. And it will hurt Digg in the longrun.

Why would I search for news on Digg when it can be hijacked by a special interest group? Digg was meant for people and not for organizations. It's going to be a tough fight for Digg to ensure that special interest group can't own the site. And Ron Paul?

I don't believe it's in his best interest to continue this way of marketing. I understand why it's done: limited funds. But it's intrusive. It's over the head. And that's the enemy of any social network. And doesn't offer you a chance to connect with voters outside of your bubble.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Voyeurism 2.0

Ask your partner or best friend to empty out their pockets and your friendship might cool off very quickly. Or just end.
Ask a stranger to empty their pockets and you just created a Flickr Group: 1,540 members so far. How about getting more personal: 'What's in your wallet' might help you. 162 members as of now.

I haven't joined. Yet. But I joined other networks that support the overall trend of voyeurism 2.0:

1. Find out about my professional experience.
2. Find out more about myself on Facebook
3. Read my daily thoughts and observations on Twitter
4. Look at my real estate on Zillow (Well, maybe not)

What drives Voyeurism 2.0? Is it our way of understanding and advancing the massive community that is the Internet and all the information that is accessible. Do we need to be feel grounded more connected because we sometimes feel like the online relationships are not real enough. Not deep enough for our brain that was wired millions of years ago?
The dream of a global village was never real. We're advancing to a global metropolis. And we want to be important, feel part of that metropolis. 'Here's my life.' 'Here's my house, my friends, my connections, my taste in music, movies and books.'

It might be our way to connect to a largely uncaring world and say: 'Here I am. Notice me. Connect with me. Become part of my world.' Isn't that what voyeurism is about?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Broken promises?

Quoting Anthony Parker, CMO at Kimberly-Clark, in the WSJ:

"You have to go back to the simple point that a brand is a promise and the product is a delivery of that promise. If you make that promise and deliver it better than the competition, you'll build brand equity. I believe brands are more salient today to consumers than they ever have been -- they are a simplifying mechanism in a world where there are many more options. Private label is declining in some categories. My belief is where brands are weak, the people who are stewarding those brands aren't spending as much on communication. Therefore they're not telling consumers about the promise of the brand."

How do we define brand as a promise? A brand promising something on product or service? Sure, that's a good start. It implies some form of honesty. But is it a good conversation starter?

Not really. Unless you're interested in conversations focusing on broken promises. If you promise a good running shoe for a decent price, people might buy it but they won't talk about it unless you exceeded the basic brand promise.

In a perfect world, brands would only be about promises. We wouldn't need brands to express ourselves, our self-realization wouldn't be achieved through work and we wouldn't need to spice up our existence with Britney news and reality shows. In a perfect world, a water brand would tell me their product benefits and that's about it.

Since we don't live in a perfect world, brands are more than just plain promises.

Brands are meaning machines.
Every part of our life has been commoditized: Dating, Sex, Conceiving, Parenting, Gardening, Spirituality, Life. We tend to complain about outsourcing but we tend to outsource on a daily basis: Scrapbooks, Diaries, Music Collections. Everything is stored on outsourced networks. Nothing is in-house. In addition, our entertainment and information resources have been commoditized as well.

This commodization of life has elevated brands to personal expressions and symbols of meaning. (Let's not forget: Greenpeace is a brand as well.) Those symbols are typically logos or product images, or better: shared cultural associations. In the old days, those cultural associations ended in your personal Cul-de-sac. Social Media allows us to change, re-engineer, reconfigure these associations.

Brands today have to have meaning to stand out the from tangibles jungle. If a brand stands for something we believe in, it becomes part of our niche culture, part of us and our memories. Good brands add this value to your life.

Great brands take this a step further: They let people in and create a collaborative brand. Brands and people as partners in the brand development and advancement process. Now, that sounds like a perfect world to me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What will I say to her when she grows up?

We're not engineers. We won't be able to solve our reliance on fossil fuels.
We're not scientists. We won't solve the global cancer problem.
We're just marketers. But we still have a huge responsibility:

When my girl grows up, will she look me in the eye and ask "What did you do to make this world a better place?" I hope I was able to provide her a good childhood, education and wrap her with love. But, will I be able to say more:

Did I help move marketing away from advertising to conversations?
Did I help change brands perception of advertising away from getting attention to paying attention?
Did I add value and experiences to people's life?

Marketers face a huge challenge. Are you ready for it? Are you ready to answer her question?

Monday, October 22, 2007

The future of marketing

When I was a kid, marketing meant the farmers market: Stalls, vendors, smells, discussions, conversations. Nobody tried to convince you of anything, you browsed, you tasted and when you liked something you started a conversation.

Have you ever been to a Middle East Bazaar? You can offer the best price and profit but if you don't engage in a conversation, the merchant will refuse to sell since you didn't regard him as an equal. Sure, the merchant wants to make a sale. But he gets out of bed in the morning because of the interaction between him and the customer.

The gist of Conversational Marketing is to re-discover this old idea of marketing. In order to do that, we need to value the conversation as high as the customer does. The conversation has to be the center piece of our marketing. And, we need to be equals. What does that mean?

We need to be able to say no. Just like the customer says no to us all the time. The consumer might be in control. But we need to find a way to say no to customers. If we say no to certain customers, we will elevate our brand. Because we don't try to just get the sale. We want to be part of the conversation. And some customers shouldn't be part of it. Just like some people shouldn't participate in certain conversations. Keeping these people out might be the hardest part of your conversational marketing plan. But it also might be the one with the highest ROI. And the toughest pushback from the brand organization.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Henry Jenkins and Reefer Madness

Went to Barnes & Noble this morning to purchase Convergence Culture from Henry Jenkins. (See this post to understand why I dragged my family to a bookstore on Sunday morning.)

I looked everywhere for the book: Business, Management, Advertising, Culture. Until I finally had to ask the cashier and she pointed me to the Cultural Studies bookshelf. What I saw was 'Reefer Madness', 'The best shrooms experiences' and other books about hallucinatory drugs and out of body experiences. Apparently, Barnes & Noble had problems categorizing 'Convergence Culture' and placed it under 'Cultural Studies'.

It shows how important categories are for human behavior. Categories help you digest information better and easier. And they have a lot of disadvantages: They put you in boxed you don't belong in and when you're on the fringe of a category you might consider not even existing.

On another note, Joseph Jaffe bumrushed the Amazon charts today with his newest book 'Join the Conversation'. Very cool insider event and I was impressed by ooVoo, the video conferencing and messaging platform.
Now, that's conversational marketing.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Information R/evolution

This brilliant video by Kansas State University Anthopology Professor Michael Wesch, titled "Information R/evolution" explores the dramatic changes the Internet had on our ability to find, create and share information. It reminded me of my college time when I had to spend hours in the library trying to locate information. I got used to the lightning fast changes in information technology that I completely pushed these memories aside.

This video shows me again why I'm so excited to live in these times of community building, connection development and reorganization of information.

Michael Wesch also created "The Machine is Us/ing Is" which I posted earlier and below again. No other video you'll see this weekend will be as impactful as these two masterpieces.

Thanks to Ed Lee.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blog + Widget = Blidget

If you have a blog and want to offer your content as a blidget, you should try out the product from Widgetbox. I was able to convert my blog into a blidget in a few minutes. The interface is very clean and you can read the blog well.
A very nice idea and a good package for blogger. I embedded my blog on Facebook and you can check it out here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Here come the big guns

WSJ reports about Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay Inc., and his interest in participatory media:

"People who grew rich in the Internet age believe that the best media opportunities involve new ways to attract millions of users at low cost, with only light guidance from a small team at headquarters. Their reasoning deserves a close look.

The obvious champions of this approach are upstarts like Google Inc. founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Google's $192 billion market capitalization is public. Facebook's negotiations to sell a stake at what might be a $15 billion valuation are being chattered about constantly. In those cases, the sheer size of those new-media fortunes comes across as a triumphant roar.

Mr. Omidyar is no shouter. At age 40, he has been retired from day-to-day duties at eBay for years, though he remains chairman of the online auction company. He lives in Henderson, Nev., where taxes are lower. We've chatted intermittently since 1998, and it's always mind-stretching. Mr. Omidyar may be a low-key engineer, but he likes to defy tradition if he sees a compelling opportunity.

In recent interviews, Mr. Omidyar and his new investment chief, Matt Bannick, explained why they want to build "participatory media" companies, in which vast numbers of ordinary citizens call the shots. To them, that's the future of media, even if it won't always be profitable."

Who and what Omidyar is targeting remains unclear. But it's very clear that the big investors are waking up to the opportunities in participatory media. We've not seen many innovative ventures or niche agencies that focus on conversational marketing alone. I'm sure plans are in the making and there will be major shift in focus from Web 2.0 to Participatory Marketing. It's about time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Your self-image

As a kid, whenever there was a lot to carry (supermarket bags, trash, bottles to the recycling bin) I liked to carry all bags at once, instead of running back and forth, and my mother always commented: "Lazy people carry themselves to death, hard workers run themselves to death."

Decades later, whenever I come back from Whole Foods or other stores I still try to carry all bags (even 20) at once. What does this mean? What does it say about my character?

My mother thought I was lazy. (I still don't know if she was serious.) My wife thinks I'm crazy. And for me it's just the most efficient way to deal with certain tasks.
Lazy? No.
Crazy? Sure
Efficient? Oh yeah!

Obviously, image is a double-edged sword: How do you see yourself? And how are you perceived by everybody else? You might think of yourself as a deep thinker while others regard you as a superficial blow-hard. Or in your mind you're team player while others think you are just about individual achievements.

How do social networks change our image? Are you the same person on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, private message boards, etc.? Are you trying to be somebody else or just being the best you can be? Would non-virtual friends perceive you as the same person on social networks? Or would they be astonished about this 'other side' of you?

We've obviously come a long way since the first personals when everybody loved walks on the beach and a perfect evening was a glass of wine and a good book. But how close are we to our self-image and perceived image? Blogs seem to be the closest to reality. You might fool me with a few posts but scanning hundred posts will give me a good idea of the real you. Much, much harder with Facebook.
Facebook still seems to be close to the good old personals. Yes, there's much more detailed information and details about your private life/preferences but it doesn't reflect that much on your image and character. You can still be the guy in the bar flashing fancy business cards and claiming to be the master of the universe, while in reality you're a lonely soul try to connecting with the outside world.

Social Networks are in their infancy. Facebook is bit more grown-up than MySpace but the real you is not showing up at Facebook. Yet. It will take years of social networking for us to grow up on and with these networks. Currently, we build connections. In the future we will build friendships. Will it be on Facebook, niche networks, private networks? Time will tell.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The New Advertising Outlet: Your Life

We've read this story many times before: Brand not happy with traditional advertising, moving money into digital marketing and social media. But I was surprised about the bluntness of Trevor Edwards, Nike's corporate VP for Global Brand and Category Management, as quoted in yesterday's NY Times story:

“We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,” Mr. Edwards says he tells many media executives. “We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.”

I'm sure yesterday's morning coffee didn't taste that good for publishing executives after reading this sharp comment.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The sagging middle

Wall Street Journal featured a story 10/11/07 titled 'Why Job Market is sagging in the middle' Subscription required):

"As Harvard economists Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin put it recently, "U.S. employment has been polarizing into high-wage and low-wage jobs at the expense of traditional middle-class jobs."

Here's the hypothesis evolving among these and other academics. Technology and globalization are boosting demand for the most-educated workers, those prized for abstract or conceptual skills. Top hedge-fund managers aren't being replaced by computers; they're harnessing them, to their great profit.

By contrast, technology and globalization are eroding demand for workers who do routine tasks in factories and offices, many of whom are high-school or even college grads. The voice-mail system does away with switchboard operators; back-office software eliminates bookkeepers; robots replace assembly-line workers. Or the work is shipped overseas to a foreign factory or an office linked to the U.S. by fiber-optic cables.

But technology and globalization are not eroding demand for personal-service workers. Those tasks can't be done by computer or shipped offshore. The services have to be delivered here in the U.S. -- and in person -- either by natives or by immigrants.

Indeed, as the folks at the top make more money, more of them want nannies, gardeners, personal trainers and gourmet chefs. These workers are indirect beneficiaries of the upward flow of wealth.Their wages have been rising while those of midlevel factory and office workers, though still higher than those of many service employees, are stagnating."

We see this trend everywhere in society and even more pronounced in advertising, media and consumer demands.

The sagging middle is the nowhere land. Is the place you never want to be.
Some advertising agencies will succeed if they serve the low-end of the marketing spectrum, the advertising optimization industry: SEM, SEO, algorithm-based marketing, auction-based buying etc. Others will succeed because they create remarkable experiences, conversational opportunities for people to tell stories about their beloved brands, create innovative and deep connection with people.
Everything in between will fade away.

The market for mediocrity is disappearing. Quickly.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's not the technology, stupid

Great presentation by Henry Jenkins. Especially fascinating since he's the only self-described egghead at the forum.

His main proposition: This is not a technology revolution, it's a cultural revolution.

The majority haven't understood this. They are still hoping for another dot-com bust and that everything will be back to normal again at one point. They understand that it's going to be harder and harder to break through the clutter but they still don't believe that the participatory culture is here to stay.

Web 2.0 might be a real misnomer since we put the focus on digital marketing. This lets 'traditional marketing' off the hook and let them continue what doesn't work anymore and push the new cultural movement to the fringes.

I had to leave early to catch my plane and ordered his book 'Convergence Culture' in the cab. Can't wait for more insights from Henry Jenkins.

My favorite line: “Any network that can be used to share cat pictures can be used to bring down a government.”

More quotes below:

- Web 2.0 is fandom without the stigma.
- What is 2.0? You make all the content, they keep all the revenue
- Cellphone is the new Swiss Army Knife
- Convergence is not about technology, it's about culture.
- The culture is shaped top-down by brands and bottom up by teenagers in their bedroom. And that's what he calls convergence culture.
- And the sweet spot where both cultures meet is participatory culture:

1. Low barriers for engagement
2. Strong support for sharing creations with others
3. Informal membership
4. Members believe their contributions matter
5. Care about others' opinions of self and work

- New consumers are migratory, showing a declining loyalty to networks or media.
- Social Media is appreciative: People appreciate brands/products and spread the word. In addition, and maybe more important, the additional media you earn with social media appreciates the value of your product/brand.

- It's no longer about impressions, it's about expressions.
- If the work of old consumers was once silent and invisible, the New Consumers are now noisy and public.
- If old consumers were seen as compliant, the new Consumers are resistant , taking media in their own hands.

Off to LA.

Time is now

The first morning keynote at the Forrester Consumer Forum featured Josh Bernoff, VP at Forrester Research, gave brands an accessible road map to break into the Social Networking space and he reminded them that the time is now to make practical use these social technologies.
Instead of focusing on technologies, brands need to focus on objectives to be successful and get the buy-in from senior executives.

He introduced 5 key objectives:


Learning from what customers are saying by developing sounding boards for researching decisions (Communispace/Think Passenger, Market Tools)

Monitor buzz to measure ongoing trends and perceptions (Brand monitoring – Nielsen Buzz Metrics, etc.)


Two-way conversation, not just shouting
Let fans spread message more easily (Social Networks)
Communicate continually and monitor responses (Blogs)

Helping your customers to recruit others

Energizing with ratings and reviews
Use customer opinions to boost sales - Ratings and reviews (Bazaarvoice, etc.)
Designate lead customers to energize others - Brand ambassador programs


Enabling your customers to support each other
Enable customers to solve each others’ problems (Support Forum)
Enable customers to build solutions together (Wikis)


Involving customers in your product development
Harvest customer ideas in a public setting - Idea community (
Cultivate dedicated idea generating community - Private community

He also recommended to calculate the ROI of Conversational Marketing. This would change the perception of SN initiatives within organizations and allows for bigger budgets

He emphasized that diving into social media initiatives will change your company:

Customer feedback in all your processes
Much faster development cycles
Frequent trial balloons
Faster, smaller failures
Internal boundaries break down

And, as a last carrot for the brand managers in the audience:
If you tap into the power of SN, you will get more powerful within your organization.

Can you see brand managers developing SN initiatives this weekend?
I do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Trends in Consumer Usage of Social Networking Sites

comScore's Chairman and Co-founder, Gian Fulgoni, presented findings (just focused on Social Networking sites, not blogs or sites with social networking capabilities:

- 1996 two-thirds of the world's online population was in the US. Now, the US accounts for 23% of Worldwide users.
- Social Networking Sites are exploding but multimedia sites are growing faster
- In the Asia Pacific region, SN sites are growing at a rate that is almost three times the category's growth in North America:
- Latin America is the most engaged region, followed by North America
- Globally, Windows Live Spaces is the most visited SN site (only 7% Us)
- Orkut is the most engaged site(550 million hours monthly)
- Total Time Spent on SN sites from US visitors: 223 million hours, Facebook 173 million hours
- Growth of SN sites (US) in the last 12 months: Facebook 128%, MySpace 23%
- The # of exclusive MySpace users has dropped, the number of exclusive Facebook users has increased and users visiting both sites have increased as well. There's a migration from MySpace to Facebook.
- 31% of all MySpace visitors are heavy users, Facebook 38%
- The heavy users account for 85% of minutes spent on these sites: If you deliver ads on SN sites, you will get a high delivery rate of your ads to the heavy users. Marketers have to look closely at frequency caps.
- 6 times more ads are being delivered by MySpace. Per visit you'll see 2.3 times more ads on MySpace.
- Apparently, CPM's on Facebook are much higher than MySpace rates.
- Users receptive to advertising from certain verticals: Music/Movie/Entertainment 68%, Consumer Electronics 54%, Automotive 42%, OTC Medication 26%.

It's pretty clear that certain verticals should stay away from advertising on SN sites unless they stay away from advertising on the site and offer valuable experiences to potential customers.
SN sites and mobile marketing face the same issue: If you just advertise, you will fail. You have to engage in a conversation. That's the only reason why people go to the sites, isn't it?

The future of PR

Richard Edelman at the Forrester's Consumer Forum 2007:

"Move away from master of impression to master of reality."

He quoted Thomas Friedman: "Companies that get their how's wrong won't be able to clean up their mess. to keep your promises, build turst, collaborate, lead."

"Media has to move away from walled garden to sole source to convene and aggregate."

"We have to move away from influence to conversation. From Pyramid of Inlfuence to Sphere of Cross-Information."

-The new role of PR:

1) Convergence around big ideas
- Moving from corporate philantrophy to 'Green is Green'.
- Partnering with Civil Societies
- Addressing social cocerns

2) Listening to new voices
- Consumer Feedback
- Convening Stakeholders
- Empowering employees (Very interesting to see surveys showing that employees of companies are very trusted by people, not the CEO - a discrepancy of more than 30%)
- Engaging local customers

3) Pubic Advocacy
- Creating credible sources of information
- Evolving role of the CEO
- Issues Management

He sees PR as the engine of interactivity: PR should be aspire to be a conversational collaborator.

Edelman had its share of mistakes and mishaps in the social networking area but his perspective was more forward-thinking and innovative than the majority of agency executives.

He ended with the quote: "Know who you are." And you can only know who you are if you listen to people and understand how they see you.


Charlene Li just presented at the Forrester's Consumer Forum 2007. Titled 'Your customers are revolting', Charlene discussed how to better strategize in the social networking environment and ways to better connect with social netwroking participants.

She discussed her upcoming book Groundswell and her definition of the title:
"Groundswell – a spontaneous movement of people connecting, using online tools, taking charge of their own experience, and getting what they need – information, support, ideas, products, and bargaining power – from each other."

If you want to be successful in the era of Groundswell, she and her co-author Josh Bernoff created an actionable framework called POST:

P = profile (what are your customers doing in the groundswell?)
O = objectives (what are you trying to accomplish?)
S = strategy (how are you trying to change your relationship with customers?)
T = technology (what social technologies will you use?)

Most brands skip the first three steps and immediately focus on Technology.

Point well taken. It takes a lot of restraint not to focus on the coolness and newness of innovative communication platforms, instead focusing on the people and how they currently interact with and discuss your brand on social platforms.

To give a better framework for more relevant interactions with people, Charlene introduced the Ladder of Participation - People on social platforms display different degrees of participation:

- Creators (They have something important to share - Bloggers)
- Critics (The Tripadvisors and Amazon reviewers of the world)
- Collectors (People that organize information - The Wikipedia editors)
- Joiners (The people that join MySpace and Facebook because their friends are there)
- Spectators (They don't join the conversation - just come by and visit once in a while)
- Inactives - They might have broadband and are tech optimists but they have no interest. Yet. They can join at any moment.

Warning: This is not a segementation technique because these degrees of participation change from brand to brand, from interest to interest. You might be a critic on Amazon reviewing marketing books but a spectator on Facebook while being a creator on your own blog.

According to Charlene, by understanding how your customers utilize social platforms and embracing their needs and desires, you will turn the current customer revolt into reformation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What's your digital identity?

Fred Cavazza listed on this graphic all the platforms that Web 2.0 offers to express yourself. The quadrants give you an opportunity to explore what you're focusing on:
Is it more about expression or profession? How about hobby and knowledge?
Your digital footprint gives you an idea about your digital identity. I wonder if your digital identity is in line with your real life identity.

In my case, my digital identity reflects 50% of my real life. My life as a husband and father is completely missing from my digital footprint.
What about you?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Production. Not perfection.

Good read from Financial Times about Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.

His pure focus on the user experience is laudable and some of his bonmots are even better:

- Listen to what users want. Try to make the site faster and better.
- No meetings, ever. "I find them stupefying and useless."

And my favorite: Put speed over perfection: "Get something out there. Do it, even if it isn't perfect."

I've heard that before.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ready. Fire. Aim.

Just scanned Michael Schrage's 'Serious Play' and was delighted by his approach to innovation. As quoted by Tom Peters, his principal axiom:

"You can't be a serious innovator unless you are ready and able to play. 'Serious play' is not an oxymoron; it is the essence of innovation." And, in turn, the heart of his serious play is ... fast prototyping: "Effective prototyping may be the most valuable core competence an innovative organization can hope to have." His (Schrage's) intriguing connection, which makes all the sense in the world to me, is that true innovation comes not from the idea per se, though it guides the work, but from the "reaction to the prototype." In fact, in a surprising number of cases (the majority?) the collective responses to a host of fast prototypes reshape the original idea beyond recognition—or lead one down an entirely new path."

This approach needs to be adopted by advertisers. This doesn't mean we need to jump on every fad and experiment with it. But we should invest in Emerging Media, gather quick learnings and reinvest in altered emerging media opportunities.
If you strategize for too long, wait around until competitors are dominating the field by deploying their prototype learnings, you'll be quickly irrelevant.

We live in fast times and new to adopt faster:
"The secret of fast progress is inefficiency, fast and furious and numerous failures."—Kevin Kelly, founding editor, Wired

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Transactions vs actions

Everybody is talking about Conversational Marketing. Not many brands have done anything about it.


Marketing values transactions. They are the holy grail of each marketing plan. How many products are you going to sell because of your marketing? What's the ROI of each marketing tactic? Business Schools train future marketers to focus on transactions.

In the last few years we've started to learn that relevant engagement can be as valuable as transactions. Engagement allows for a more holistic understanding of actions people take. Relevant engagement is as valuable as transactions because engagement allows for influencing others.

Conversational Marketing in itself might not be the easiest sell to clients. Relevant engagement is the first step to a real conversational campaign.

Clearly, there's always a place for transactional marketing. Doubleclick/Google and aQuantive/Microsoft point into the future of advertising based on algorithms.
But the other half of the marketing pie will be reserved for conversational marketing. We just have to understand that this form of marketing can't be bought. It has to be earned.

The human condition

At heart, humans are communicative. And lonely. We try to escape our loneliness by communicating. With friends. Strangers. Our own mind.

Traveling by yourself on a redeye is a very lonely experience. It almost feels like going to prison: You're being searched by strangers, your food options are limited to pizza (see above) and the rest of the time you dream about escaping this lunacy.

10 years ago we had a phone to connect with people while traveling. We wrote postcards. Now, we have Twitter, IM, Email, SMS, Video Messages, etc. to stay connected.

When I flew last night, I started a little photo diary of my travel experience. Just a few shots with a word/line. The iPhone makes it so easy to take a quick shot and email it out.
It made me feel less alienated and better connected to my home. As an individual you have to find the best ways to connect with your friends and family. I'm not a phone person, rather have a real 1-on-1 conversation. Or a quick email. Call me weird.

Brands have to understand better how people want to connect with them. There are multitudes of channels to start a conversation. Some work for you, some work for me. A good mix of planned connections will ensure that conversations will begin.

Remember: Humans are communicative. And lonely.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The title intrigued me

How come 'The Three Signs of a Miserable Job' is not No.1 on the bestseller list? Every study shows that the majority of people are miserable in their job. are they exaggerating or rather numbing themselves with Danny Bonaduce clips?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Conversations happen with or without you

Humans are communicative, generous and lonely. That hasn't changed in 4,000,000 years, since our brains were wired.

Many people have conversations about your brand. You can be involved. Or stay on the sidelines.

Conversations are at the heart of marketing. How can you get to know your customers if you don't have conversations? This can be done in person, on social networks, through sophisticated email campaigns.

Imagine launching a new car. The old way of marketing to people would mean mass reach for 3 months and then hoping for the best. Creative wouldn't change because you made the decision to launch the car in a certain way more than 6 months ago.
Now, imagine launching a car, listening to the conversation for a few weeks and then completely adjusting your campaign, based on these conversations?

Customers will understand, appreciate your reaction and this could be the start of a beautiful relationship. What are you waiting for?

Monday, October 1, 2007

The key to Emerging Media

Many brands ask themselves: Shall I utilize Emergine Media to communicate my message? Shall I put some money into Second Life, Widgets, Mobile? How about ipTV, Twitter, In-Game Advertising?

Surprisingly, there's an answer to each of these questions: If it's relevant and early in the game, go for it.

Let me explain: Relevance should be self-explanatory. In today's world of gazillion media options, numerous ways to block marketing messages and the semi-attentive consumer, advertising only works when it's relevant and significant for people.

Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz ads work for you when you're in the market for a luxury car.
They might work ok if you're in the market for a car but can't afford a luxury car. Yet.
They don't work if you just bought a car two months ago.
That is true for TV, Print, Display Ads, Emerging Media.

I'm not here to say that mass reach is dead. But it's on life support. And the prognosis is not good. I'd give it a few more years in ICU until mass reach will expire. At one point, companies will not waste 90% of their budget on people that don't care about a vertical at that point. I'm never in the market for Budweiser beer, PizzaHut or McDonalds. And still, I just saw at least 5 commercials for these products while watching the NFL. Wasted money.

The chances are low I will ever download a McDonald's widget, visit the Pizzahut island on Second Life (is there one?) or click on a mobile ad from Budweiser. Even if I would, nothing could change my opinion about their brands and products. No matter what you do with your marketing dollars, I won't care.

So, Emerging Media in itself will not save your brand, improve brand perception or increase purchase consideration. Relevancy has to be coupled with early adoption of that specific Emerging Media tactic:

- CTR for the first flash banners was around 10%. Today, you're lucky if your campaign's CTR is above 0.3%.
- Video CTR's are through the roof now. Talk to me again in 2010. 0.3% might sound like a big success.
- Widgets are the keyword of 2007. As I wrote before, the window of opportunity is closing fast. Building a widget in 2006, gave you the opportunity to wow people, utilize their passion to spread the word and enjoy an outstanding ROI. Or, as some would call it, ROE - Return on Engagement. Today, you will have problems cutting through the clutter.
- Second Life: Almost 6 months ago, Second Life was the talk of the town and hyped on the front page of Business Week. Today, Second Life is mostly associated with demise. (Read my take on it. There's a lot of life left in Metaverses, once marketers understand them and don't apply first life marketing techniques to this new channel.)

Emerging Media is about early adoption. The first companies in Second Life got free PR, a lot of goodwill from SL'ers and outsiders and an immense ROI/ROE. Not happening anymore.
Building a valuable tool in the mobile world offered the same benefits in early 2007. You won't get the same performance data in 2008.

When Emerging Media turns into Traditional Media, it's only about significance and relevancy. It can happen very fast (Widgets) or very slow (Mobile). But once it happens, your benefits are fairly limited.

I have three words for you if you want to stay ahead in the Emerging Media game: Experiment, experiment, experiment.

Brands have to understand that more than 50% of your experimentation will not result in a huge success. Some of your experiments will be utter failures. But when you combine relevance and early adoption of emerging media, you have the chance for ROI/ROE you never dreamt of. Just ask Doritos. Dove. Or Burger King.