michael della penna

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Fly Paper Strategy

My first brand strategy was a career changer. I was at technology boutique called Welch Nehlen Groome, in Garden City, NY trying to introduce account planning to the advertising rigor. The client we were going after was ZDNet, a Ziff Davis property in the tech space. It began as a portal of all the Ziff Davis technology publications with a few interactive bells and whistles.

Our contact at ZDNet, Michael Della Penna, passed on a PowerPoint deck from a branding shop in San Francisco. The firm clearly understood branding I thought, because it had a cool name. Dog Bowl or Bath Water or some such. Once past the title page of the deck however, I noticed the group was all hat and no cattle. 80% of the paper was marko-babble. Or more specifically, brand-babble.

I don’t remember writing a deck to win the business. I remembered the brief. ZDNet had a good sense of their proof points; they were smart people, as techies often are.  They just didn’t get the poetry side of strategy – the claim side. Their brand planks were what they called the 3Cs: Content, Community and Commerce. ZDNet’s main competition at the time was C|Net, who matched up pretty well with the 3C.

The Brand Idea from the brief was “For Doers Not Browsers.” A strategic cherry and rational/emotional difference maker. We won the business and the CMO of all of Ziff companies called the paper strategy galvanizing (my word, it was a long tome ago).

I was hooked.


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Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang conducted a webinar a couple of days ago, along with Michal Della Penna of StrongMail, on social media today and tomorrow.  He made two very key important points.  Don’t market your ass off (my words) only to give your traffic over to Mark Zuckerberg.  And don’t use “engagement” as a key metric when trying to prove social media ROI to your executive committee. 

Point 1.  I’ve heard on a number of occasions, from some pretty smart, that many companies are considering reducing the scope and scale of their corporate websites in favor of bulked up their Facebook efforts.  Mistake.  Overblown company and brand websites can be a blight, but they don’t really hurt anybody.  Letting all your customers and prospects learn about your product on Fotchbook on the other hand, can dilute your control and funded sales efforts.

Point 2.  Consumer engagement, often defined on the dashboard as clicks, time on site, members, views, likes, check-ins are not sales.  Certainly they can lead to sales, but until tied to money changing hands, its engagement not a wedding ring.  It’s like dating without the you know. We all know dating leads to you know, so I’m not pooh-poohing engagement, I’m just suggesting as did Mr. Owyang that executives care about da monies.  When was the last time you read a financial article the headline for which was “Goldman’s Engagement Slid 53% In Quarter.”  Peace!

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Spotlight on Social Media was held yesterday in NYC, put on by the Participatory Marketing Network (PMN) and Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  There were a couple of important takeaways every marketer should think about. 


Search is still important, no doubt, but it’s a little 2008.  Immediacy – what’s happening now — is the rolling thunder these days, so services like Twitter and Foursquare are the rage but the marketing future is something Rapleaf’s co-founder Vivek Sodera calls “intent driven” applications. Think of a suped up Four Square To Do tab. Facebook will certainly build an intent-based app and others in the VC pipeline will emerge, but just know intent+social+search+moblie is going to pay out lotto style. 


I know, I know it’s not a word. But it’s a better word then unanonymize, which is the word that clanked like a dropped crowbar off Mr. Sodera’s tongue during his presentation.  Hee hee. That said, it’s a word that wonderfully describes what Rapleaf does. Rapleaf crawls the web and creates single records of an individual’s behaviors, activities and associations.  And surprisingly, it’s not that scary.  They do this using your email address and a cool piece of software. In email or direct parlance they append records using the social web. When I asked to be unanonymized, the Rapleaf software generated 100 of my web proclivities, the first of which was something called “Social Care” a membership I did not recall.  All the rest were spot on. 


Facebook also presented at Spotlight and mentioned its 60 million daily logins put prime time television to shame. Sean Mahoney’s case studies of marketer successes were very impressive and prove that Facebook is the “new” digital. Its targeting capabilities are phenomenal.  There are specialty ad and marketing shops opening up just to handle Facebook-enabled selling and they’re worth looking in to.  It’s a cottage industry on the way to becoming transformational.   


Other smart companies worth mentioning include Acxiom, a behemoth company that also transforms social data into social profiles (for targeted marketing), Cisco which has a neat B2B app in its NowVan program (like Kogi BBQ trucks for routers) and Air Miles a rewards program out of Canada, trying hard and having very good success. 

 Michael Della Penna of the PMN and Conversa Marketing and Neil O’Keefe of DMA deserve shout outs for empanelling a great program. Peace..it together!

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