Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Conversation PR People Should Not Miss

Markets are conversations between humans. That's where context plays its crucial role.

So often, conversations that are run through the corporate-filter lose their genuiness. As customers we are alert for the moose poop. We see adjectives as red flags. We see jargon as bluffing. Instead, talk to me in a clear English sentence and talk to me about something that interests me. Or, you know what? I'm busy. Goodbye.

-- Amazon’s website is a conversation about books and movies.
-- Linux is a conversation about making a better operating system.
-- This blog is a conversation about the role of context in marketing.

Contextual PR is not about news releases or staged news conferences … it is about real and meaningful conversations with journalists … such relationships then lead to meaningful news coverage.

Sure we need to provide information about the products ... about the company behind the products ... about the leaders behind the company.

But if we stop there, we have missed the opportunity to engage in the conversations that are happening in the marketplace.

The conversations are going on in the marketplace, whether or not we engage is the only question. Far too many companies fail to engage.
Engaging in the Conversation

Consider for a moment the conversation that Steve Kayser, PR Director at Cincom Systems, has started.

It is a conversation about children.

Specifically, those caught in the recent tsunami.

It is a conversation happening through Cincom client, Christian Childrens Fund and how they are providing help and hope to The Tsunami Generation.

It is one of many similar conversations that Steve initiates in Cincom’s twice-a-month eNewsletter called Expert Access.

It is a conversation that should make all PR people in the world proud and inspired at what they can do – reaching out far beyond the products they promote, to the very root of humanity.

I encourage you all to read Expert Access if you want to learn how PR can enable contextually relevant conversations that collectively become the marketplace.

What did this conversation with humanity do for Cincom? First, it discharged part of the company's responsibility to be helpful to people. But it has also returned a closer bond between Cincom and its client -- Christian Childrens Fund. See what CCF's vice president, Betty Ford, wrote to Cincom:

"Just wonderfully awesome - a work of art!!! Congratulations, we are so very proud and I'm sending this link to the entire Marketing and Donor Services team and then sending it out world wide. Thank you so much for all you have done to help us. Thank you again for being such an outstanding partner with CCF. We appreciate every thing you do for us. After this one is published, how about coming back in six months and we can do another one on the long term interventions that we are working on now. I think people would like to hear about how the money was spent.Looking forward to your "next" article. Take care, Betty Forbes, CCF Vice President."

Now, that's a nice conversation!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Split Second Relevance Decisions

Brain clutter requires us to get products and messages relevant

Our brains are filled with so much clutter that we have learned how to sort things in nanosecond time frames. According to neuromarketing expert, David Wolfe, you have less than a second for a customer’s brain to sort out if your message is personally relevant. After that split second passes, you have either engaged or missed. As a direct marketer, I could drag out case after case where clever creative that ignored how the brain is searching for message relevance has failed to get responses. It is just one of the reasons that most marketing messages delivered across most media are doing well to get better than a 2% response rate.

Here's how one marketer is fighting to stay contextually relevant ...

Even the best have to stay relevant to their customers. The April issue of MONEY Magazine went on newsstands March 21. What’s special about that? MONEY, with 7.4 million readers, is the nation’s biggest and oldest personal finance magazine. Relevance drove the editors to make radical changes to their product. Managing Editor Eric Schurenberg: “Times have changed. Our readers no longer saw money as an end in itself, but rather as a means to a better life. We had to stay connected with them.” One more vote for contextual marketing.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Ride the Cluetrain Again

I still feel a bit lazy ... been working 'extreme hours' lately as we head into the final days of launching a global website for Cincom -- ultimately in 8 languages: English, Queen's English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese and Russian.

So if you are looking for my current thoughts, check out "Ride the Cluetrain Again" at Kanban Marketing, my other blogsite. I discuss my recent aha from re-reading The Cluetrain Manifesto. It should get your blood a flowin' and your mind a thinkin' about how we can all make marketing better than it is today. Turns out that Cluetrain had a lot of the answeres back in 1999.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Is it Okay to Steal from Your Daughter?

Okay, so I'm stealing from my daughter.

Sometimes you have to steal from the best. Courtney has started up her own blog ... mostly, she says, to force herself out of her comfort zone as a graphic designer and to do some writing. Actually, back as early as junior high she could sit down and write a poem about life, or about her sister in not much more than 15-minutes. But along the way, graphics took the lead. So I'm glad to see her experimenting with writing again.

My theft from her is your gain. Her post last week was about psychologist and market researcher Clotaire Rapaille. Strange that I didn't know of him because he worked on P&G's Folgers Coffee brand 20 years ago, about the same time my agency was also working on Folgers. He has some interesting concepts about decoding customer experiences with brands. Take a look at Courtney's blog called The Wolf Project and read more about Rapaille. It will force you to think more emotionally about your brand.

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