June 2010

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Hubspot, in Boston, is a company  doing a very nice job marketing itself.  Their logo is pretty poor and they probably invented using the word “so” to start every sentence, but I used their free website grader a long time ago and it proved their digital marketing chops.  Some of Hubspot’s overzealousness about traditional is a bit grating but, hey, they’re selling.

 So (hee hee), Dan Zarella a real social dork (as he likes to say) put on a webinar yesterday highlighting some best practices of Facebook marketing and they were quite well done.  Dan is a social scientist, which means he really parses the data, so his insights are real.  Here is a topline:

– People have profiles, brands have pages. (Thought I’d start easy.)

– Facebook is not about making new friends, it’s about improving relationships with existing friends.

– On Facebook you are a performer – and being judged.

– Help your users look cool.

– Let your users perform in a brand-relevant way and you win!

– Women have 55% more posts on their walls than do men.

– Pages with lots of marketing buzz words don’t have as many friends, e.g., leverage, productivity, etc.

– Facebook users like food.  And they talk about it.

– Most “liked” activities: movies, books, music, TV show, television.

– Least “liked” activities: real estate, auto dealers, religion, dogs,

– Be entertaining — lay off marketing stuff.

– Social proof is big.  Lots of friends, likes, tweets, vitality wins over the opposite.

– Posts with the word “video” in them are shared more on Facebook than Twitter. Way more.

– Posts with digits (numbers) in them index high for sharing.

– Sex indexes highest for sharing. Positivity, learning, sharing, work, media and constructive are words and ideas also highly shared.

– Least shared idea: negativity.

– Write plainly and simply.  Don’t use lots of adjectives and adverbs.

– 51% of companies block Facebook.

Good stuff Dan. Peace!

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In the advertising and marketing business, digital is its own channel.  Rare is the vendor that provides a truly integrated single source worldview of a brand. A really smart person once said to an important client “campaigns are overrated” which stuck me with a ferocity that shook my world, but he was right.  A campaign, when well-defined and well-equipped is a powerful selling mechanism.  It’s what people talk about. But translating campaigns across silos is not easy.  Heck, anyone who has ever worked at an ad agency knows campaigns don’t always transfer across media.  A great design-driven print campaign may not work well in radio or a murderously effective TV campaign may not work as out of home.  It’s tah-woooh.  And those silos are under one roof.    

Competing Market Forces

A bunch of hearty souls are trying to bring online and offline selling under one roof.  Yet a greater number of very skilled entrepreneurs are out there selling against the one roof approach — creating even greater and greater specialization.  A friend at CatalystSF told me that there are over 200 social media agencies in the New York area alone.  So what do you do about these two competing forces — the shops who want more pie and are trying to integrate and the shops selling best of breed, stand alone digital marketing specialties?  Well the planner in me usually starts problem solving by “following the money.”  In the case of integrated vs. stand alone I say “follow the strategy.”  

If you find a potential partner with a sense of business strategy that transcends tactical discussions, listen. Business strategy first. Marketing strategy second. Message strategy third and tactical fourth.  I don’t care if its RGA or TBWA. Peace it up! 

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I follow lots of people but a couple of my favorites are Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and Noah Brier. Charlene is just smart. She has morphed from a tech analyst to a social media expert to a management consultant, all within 3 years.  She’s a media darling who reinvents herself almost annually. Jeremiah Owyang, who works with Charlene at the Altimeter Group is also another schmarty pants.  He loves grids and quadrants, he loves to write, share and listen – and he loves to use technology.  Analytical with a capital A.

Peter Kim is cut from the same cloth as Charlene and Jeremiah (all three are Forrester Research alums) but landed at the Dachis Group – a company filled with doers.  Dachis will crack the code on bringing Web 2.0 to the enterprise and make a banana boat of bucks doing so. Peter likes to mix it up a bit.  A proud man.  Then there’s Noah Brier — chief strategist at the Barbarian Group.  Like a racehorse in the paddock who you know will win the Derby someday, he’s exciting to watch.  The beauty about Noah is you just don’t know what’s next. He’s random, brilliant, a doer and he loves bounding about in that paddock.

I wish these four blogged every day.  If they would just give me a 100-150 words (no more Jeremiah), I’d be satisfied and so, so nourished. Please hit those keys.  Peace!

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Clearly, innovation is always in.  Perhaps the bigger question is whether innovation should be pursued inside the company or out.  It’s happening both ways.  Innovation is big, big business. Ad agencies, digital shops and marketing companies have Chief Innovation Officers.  Lots of money is spent in internal innovation departments and outsourced innovation companies…and the crowdsourcing phenomenon is contributing.   Pepsi outsources its innovations and it has done remarkably well with it.

Innovation is the result of hard work and serendipity. I am of the mind that it’s most likely to occur from people doing not people sitting around thinking.  The famous story of the 3M’s Post-It note resulting from a lab spill comes to mind.

The answer to the in or out question is a little bit of both, but working together.    Inside to set the product or service stage and context — and outside for the random, unfettered thinking and consumer insights of trained selling and marketing minds.  Peace!

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Mission Control is a well-produced 76 second video by PepsiCo’s Gatorade ‘splaining how Gatorade marketing monitors the web for comments, chatter and potential product improvements. The “war room” at mission control is filled with AT&T NOC (network operations center) -like people in front of multiple monitors — their fingers on the pulse of Gatorade enthusiasts.  Looks like they are a busy bunch.

Interspersed with the mission control pictures are great shots of Kobe, Serena, etc., helping viewers work up a sweat…which is what Gatorade is and should always be about.

Right now this vid is kind of inside baseball for the marketing, advertising and social community – plus I think it’s being used in and around Cannes to round up votes. It’s a great spend, by Gatorade as they “set the stage for digital leadership.” I’ve written before that every large corporation in America will have a social media dept. and I believe it.  Smart senior agency people have nodded in agreement yet told me that the truly creative ideas and productions that hit wire/less will still come from agencies.  That, too, I believe.

After a while though, after all marketers have jumped on this listening bandwagon and consumers are conditioned to provide product input, message input and marketing input, it will begin to dull the strategic senses. It will turn the world into a place filled with screen-scratching marketing interns, when what we really want to do is listen to the influential “Posters.” (Google whatstheidea+posters.)

 

Let’s watch out for that monster that we are creating. Peace!

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Back in the day, the only companies that could afford to amass and parse vast amounts of customer information – large enough to do trending and prediction – were the really big dogs.  Data and the money that purchased that data were power.  Today, not so much.  Today, if you want to open a pizza parlor in NYC, it’s not just about walking the streets, counting competitors and feeder locations (tall apartments, schools, nightclubs).  Today, there are free online tools. And more coming.   

American Express Open.com

American Express has helped democratize information by creating Open.com, a small business repository of data, skills refinement, community and tools which let small businesses make smarter decisions. If not now, in the future, these tools will include access to marketing data like Nielsen and MRI, so that if the pizza parlor start-up wants to know which zip codes in NYC index the highest for pizza consumption. Boom. Or he/she wanted to know what time of day those sales are most robust or weeks of the year? Boom. Might that pizza start-up want to know who serves the best pizza in that zip code according to pizza eaters? Boom. Or what are they saying about that pizza on their smart phones and tweets (Clean bathrooms, near the subway, dollar slices?). Boom.

Today, smart companies like America Express and its Open.com and Booming programs are doing for small business what ERP did for larges businesses 15 years ago.  And there will be a wave of new cottage industries popping up to serve small business customers. ‘cause that’s what happens in a democracy. Peace!

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A View From HR

Paul Gumbinner, a NYC recruiter, writes the great blog entitled View From Madison Avenue. He published a piece yesterday suggesting job seekers should never take career advice from parents or friends; the best advice comes people who study companies and “employee fit” for a living.  Brilliant counsel.

As a brand planner, one trick I use to understand the market place I’m working in is to interview senior competing HR people in that category.  As Mr. Gumbinner I’m sure will attest, this technique generates lots of qualitative data about the market, the people, competitive set and chatter on the street. An HR person who interviews scores of mid-level and senior people a week in, say, the enterprise software business, tends to know who’s hot and what’s hot. You planners out there should try it. Nice shortcut. Peace!

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Lionel Messi

Will there be fewer heroes in the world because of social media?  I wonder.  Lionel Messi is a futbol hero — in Argentina and to futbolers around the world.  Back in the day (before YouTube and social) Messi would have been known to the world via a few video clips seen on TV, a couple of really positive well-told stories in Sports Illustrated, some bedroom posters and live game broadcasts and interviews. Heroes were made and packaged more easily then.

But today, no one of note makes it under the radar.  One bad decision at a nightclub, one oafish treatment of a fan, an out of context insensitive remark and the luster is off.  It is human nature to have heroes — be they in sports, politics, music or religion. We need heroes.  They give us hope and aspiration. But jealousy and officiousness are also human behaviors and social media is filled with people so inclined.  Besmirchers. And all it takes is a few besmirchers to start a hero’s downfall.

The good news is we are open to more global heroes than ever before because of the Web (I can’t wait to watch Messi play) and that’s good. The web needs to be a bit kinder and gentler, though, when it comes to comments and posts. The mission of the Web is to disseminate the truth, but for the good of the planet. Let’s dis the negative petty stuff. We need an emoticon to protest the negative stuff.  Somehow 🙁 doesn’t quite make it. Peace!

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I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that about 90% of the workers in advertising and marketing are consumed by tactics. “I want a new website.  We need an acquisition program. Our sales force is up 8% year over year.  The innovation team is cranking out some really great ideas.”

We build things, we buy things, we read, write and communicate.  We hire and manage, then count the metrics and the change. But are these efforts always undertaken towards a strategic purpose?  More often than not the answer is “no.” 

Every company needs to have a strategic mission. A brand strategy. And it needs key operating principles: Brand planks. Every employee at the company needs to know the mission and the planks. Go out today and ask a worker what their company strategy is, and with the possible exception of Zappos you are likely to hear “make money” or “be more profitable.” Then probe “What are your company’s three key operating principles?” and you’ll get that look dogs give you when you put the ball behind your back. Try it. Peace!  

 

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