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Marketing is about crowd building. Have you ever walked in a city, seen a long line of people and wondered what they are waiting for? Or seen 20 people on the street staring into a store window at a TV?  Crowds have a gravitational pull. When searching YouTube for an unfamiliar music artist, do you watch the video with 256,000 views or 2,600 views? Which food truck line to you get on, the long one or the short one?

The key marketing and branding question is “How do you build a crowd?” How do you surround yourself with appeal and activity that feeds interest – that beckons?

Start with focus. Don’t try to be too much.  When you do something, do it well. And do it differently. Be the exception not a rule.  Be clear in your value. Be easy to understand. Be easy to share. And always compel.  Most people like crowds. We are gregarious by nature.

Make sure your marketing and branding move customers closer to a crowd.

Peace.

 

 

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Brand planning is not just about words on a paper. Colors on a palette. Planks and buckets and values. Or even taglines…and I’m a big fan of taglines. (If you’re spending marketing dollars which don’t prove your tagline, you’re “off piste,” as I like to meme.)

Brand strategy is integral to marketing. As such, all brand planners are marketers. As marketers we need to be look beyond the dashboard. Look at what’s next. The earth is not flat.

My night job is to wake up with new product ideas. Ideas that deliver on the brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks).  If in consumables, I’m dreaming about making packaging more planet friendly.  I was watching a YouTube video yesterday about shampoo bars that sell sans plastic bottle and cap.  Come se Genius??

The growth of innovation labs, incubators and new product teams is a big thing today. In my humble if jaded opinion, no one is better able to crack an innovation opportunity than a brand planner – the person responsible for the care and feeding of the brand claim.

Peace.

 

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I Googled “whatstheidea+google trivestiture” to see when I predicted Google would be split into 3 companies. Seems it was February 2010. According to yesterday’s news, “right pew wrong church.” Google is being reorganized — deconstructed into parts ,actually — but it won’t be at the hands of the gub-ment. It’s Google itself that will separate the company.

Alphabet will be launched as a brand new holding company. Google will continue on with search, YouTube, Android and apps (and Chrome?), all reporting to Alphabet. And smaller unique businesses such as Nest, Fiber, Google Ventures and Google X will stand alone – also reporting to Alphabet.

So divestiture is happening, just not as I predicted it. My trivestiture thought was all about monopoly breaking. This move is about business and accountability.

It doesn’t mean Google still can’t be broken apart, it just makes it a little less likely.

Nice move Messrs. Brin and Page.

I was wrong. Happy to admit it. Tear a stripe of my uniform. And ahead we shall march.

Peace.

 

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I wrote earlier in the week about ad tracking application iSpot and how it will help marketers with Twitch Point Planning. Twitch Point Planning being a new transmedia planning tool that takes advantage of the twitchy behaviors consumers exhibit in today’s device-friendly, social media world.

Here’s an example of a twitch the Geico Insurance and The Martin Agency may or may not have designed into the famous Hump Day TV spots.  Lots of people like the Hump Day spots — the boisterous, roaming camel asking “Guess what day it is?”  This spot from the campaign has over 19M views on YouTube.  Do you know what day these spots are shared the most?  Wednesday.

ispot

Do consumers buy more Geico insurance on Wednesday? Maybe a bit more because the brand is top-of-mind, but my guess is this effort was not that strategic. Not strategic like Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day or BOGO (buy one get one) on a restaurant’s slowest day of the week.

The metrics, however, do show twitching behavior can be manipulated. And that’s the key learning. Find an on-brand idea that gets shared on a particular day of the week, and you have a new tool in the social arsenal. There are lots of twitchable opportunities for brands – they just have to have a goal and think like consumers. Peace!

 

 

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I dig Scott Monty, yet I don’t really know him. Well I know him in a half-duplex sort of way.  I’ve seen him on YouTube.  He came out of the ad business, he’d contributed to Ford’s turnaround – a brand I’ve railed about and at different points lauded, and he has really done stuff — not just talked about stuff.  He got Ford CEO Alan Mulally not only to recognize the power of social, but to fund and personally participate in it.  

Mr. Monty’s first blog post, near as I can tell, was in Sept of 2006. He’s very prolific – running his fingers, if you will.  Mr. Monty posts a lot and shares a lot. His blog also contains what might be a new feature — I’m not sure – called “This Week in Social Media,” which is something a number of media socialist do.  Readers of WhatsTheIdea? know I refer to this as “Pasting.” Pasting other peoples’ links.  Pasters who do so while providing analysis are moving the ball ahead. Much love. Pasters who simply aggregate OPC (other peoples’ content) are moving laterally.  Most Pasters enjoy routing topics with numbers in them, e.g., “7 critical rules”, or “5 habits of…”

Mr. Monty is no Paster, he’s a Poster. He loves original content and has built businesses and his personal brand providing original ideas and content.  We loves us some Posters.  Stay original Mr. Monty. Peace

 

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Stuart Elliott did a great and interesting article in The New York Times today on Nike. He points out the difficulty they’re having staying more relevant in the footwear category. The oft-quoted Allan Adamson of Landor, a NY brand consultancy, suggested “The bigger the brand, the harder it is to stay trendy and current. It’s hard to be cutting edge when you are established.”  And Davide Grasso, VP for global brand management at Nike added “As we continue to grow in size, it’s important we stay connected. If you take away the toys and the noise, it’s all about having a relationship.”

What both of the gentlemen are not talking about is the brand itself.  Mr. Adamson wants Nike to stay trendy. A tight brand plan would have the company create what is trendy. And Mr. Grasso talks about the consumer relationship. Every pizza parlor, dentist and global marketer cares about the relationship.  This is a tactic.

Red Bull’s sponsorship of Felix Baumgartner parachuting from space is lauded for its 33.5 million YouTube views.  Not many talk about the brand strategy of exhilaration – the demonstration of exhilaration – that will live long after click counts.

Nike is a not a string of marketing tactics and ads delivered by Wieden +Kennedy; it’s a brand continuing to carve out a place in consumers’ minds. And closets.  Every brand needs a brand plan (one claim, three support planks). Without a plan we deliver and are interviewed about tactics. Yawn. Peace.  

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This Saturday will mark the third year I’ve volunteered at the Long Island Cask Ale Festival hosted by the Blue Point Brewing Company and put on by Starfish Junction Productions.  I know, I know…dirty job, but someone has to do it.  Each year the weather is great, the brew terrific and the people and vibe — best of all.  This, my friends, is part of the Craft Economy.  It didn’t start with ETSY, but Etsy amplified it  The fun thing about the craft economy is that it’s really only a part of an economy, because its more about doing things yourself than paying others. And the work product is better.

So watching a plumbing video on YouTube to assist in changing your P trap is part of the craft economy. Cooking dinner with natural or at least unprocessed ingredients is craft.  Making beer at home or with a craft beer club, another example.  It’s about doing things for yourself and others (giving a neighbor some homemade spaghetti sauce, for instance) that take time, care and require some learning. Some experimenting.  Smelling the roses along the way.

Now you are not going to see me knitting anytime soon, and I’m still going to buy Levi’s button down jeans, but working with my hands and brain and not sending my hard earned to China or Omaha is where my head is.  Saving the planet along the way by not purchasing packaging and other non-sustainables doesn’t hurt. 

So as I volunteer and savor the occasional quaff at the Cask Ale festival this weekend and talk among fellow beer lovers and makers, I’ll be immersed in the craft economy. I will be among friends. (Oh, and the sour pickle guy will be there too. Yay.) Peace!

 

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I’d like to advance a hypothesis. Working in the educational development space as I am, I often wonder about creating learning environments (K-12 in particular) that are more conducive to student engagement and lesson retention.  The latest theory – and there are many – is that “student-centered, teacher-facilitated” is the winning approach.   In the vein of the Khan Academy (a kind of a YouTube for lessons) what if for low performing urban kids, the videos were offered in the patois of the street – complete with appropriate urban music beds?  Perhaps a naughty word once in a while for emphasis.

The culture of learning has always been so counter to some kids.  Why not wean those with difficulty learning into more conventional environments by using the familiar?  Get these students attention, win them over through exploration and context, then begin to slowly exfiltrate them towards more mainstream teaching. If teaching is to be student-centered, needn’t we meet students of all kinds half way, yo? 

Silly perhaps. Probably been tried in real life, with a smidgen of success.  But I bet a Khan Academy-like video might do it.  Brand planners understand the importance of “feeling” the audience. Is it time for eduators to do the same?

 Peace!

PS.  The views here expressed are not the views of Teq, Inc.  They are simply the thoughts and crumbs of a marketing blogger with his head above the clouds.

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 One of the fastest growing content areas on YouTube (data source: me) is healthcare channels. Hospitals and health systems are uploading talking head videos at an amazing rate. One large nationally recognized hospital recently uploaded 25 videos by lunchtime.  YouTube has a way to go in perfecting its channel tools but visitors can search by clinical area, date added, most viewed, and top rated.

Healthcare provider companies are not known for their marketing expertise — they are too busy saving lives — but the move into YouTube is a smart one.  Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a family member with a health problem? The quality of these videos is quite good, albeit a bit over-polished.  If you remove the occasional singing video encouraging employees to wash their hands, you’re left with a body of work where humans talk to humans in understandable English, removing the magic.

Personally, I find the videos that don’t feel too scripted the best. Two docs at Memorial Sloan Kettering were talking on camera, sans make-up, and it felt very different from the norm, very real. The hospital has a reputation for clinical coolness and this video worked to change my attitude.

The ROI problems is this — these videos cost a good deal of money to produce and some get 28 views while others get 28,000 views.  As these channels grow in search sophistication and the video producers evolve, we are going to see some serious, serious advances traffic. This is big, important business. Peace! 

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Bullets vs. Tweets.

Which is more powerful the bullet or the Tweet?  I’m not likely to keep my ass down if someone is firing off a Tweet at me, but one can safely say the Arab Spring and its Gandhi-esque approach to changing the world is way more a function of Tweets than bullets. That’s power.

As we get nearer to UN Resolution 194 on a Palestinian State I’m very nervous about bullets.  Very.  The Arab Spring uprisings have, for the most part, been internecine struggles.  But the Palestinians and the Israelis are anything but.  Leading up to the U.N. vote on the Sept 23rd, the world will be watching.   And this is no platitude or verisimilitude, the world will be watching.  Thanks to Twitter and Twitpics and YouTube. 

If there is bloodshed over the resolution it will be front page news and winners and losers. And certainly lots of spin.  If there is no bloodshed, just civil disobedience and true debate, there will only be winners.  It will provide new steps toward real compromise. 

Gandhi didn’t need Twitter…but had he a smarty and some agile thumbs, independence in India may have taken months. Peace!

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