Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Timing is Everything

Well, maybe not everything, but it is a biggie.

I was out on the Mini USA site tonight looking at the Mini Cooper. My daughter is looking for a new car and this one is on the list.

As I was touring their site, it reminded me of how important timing our marketing efforts becomes.

Car companies are desperate to sell but unless you are in the market, all their TV commercials and direct mail go totally ignored. Only when we're looking to buy something do we pay attention. Timing is one of the major "customer contest" factors we must get right.

It is one of the factors that impact the response rate performance ... 2% rates are the norm because 98% of the targeted prospects are not in the market now. Does that mean we stop trying? Of course not. Marketing is a longitudinal process; not an episodic one. We need to build relationships with prospects so that when they come into the market, our brands are in the considered set.

Working the 98% of prospects who do not respond to us is the one thing most marketers fail to do. Most follow up only on the 2%. That's a waste. Work the database. Work the market. Catch prospects when they come into the market. Our experience is that this longitudinal approach moves overall response rates up to the 50% range.

Google Adsense a Cost Efficient Business Builder for Small Local Companies

Dave Lakhani has some great advice with a real example that it works ... small businesses with a limited geographic reach struggle with building business and want more traffic to their websites. They miss a powerful advertising medium

Google Adwords local allow you to choose to only display ads in a certain geographic range around your business. MOST small businesses don't need a global reach with Google adwords yet that is exactly what too many pay for then they are quick to say "adwords don't work or they are too expensive."

My wife owns two day spas in Boise, Idaho called BREATHE Wellness Spa. Her most expensive cost per click is around .10 cents, she spends less than $100 a month on Google adwords and can track typically 10X her investment per month back to Google.

Marketing Leaders Must Embrace Change

Like the laws governing the rate of acceleration of falling bodies, the dynamics of society and business affairs tend also to be subject to accelerating forces demanding ever more responsive and fast-changing, commercial organizations. If there is an essential theory that must pervade a modern organization, it is that success requires the ability to quickly master revolutionary change.

This demands the dramatic and dynamic challenge of what is often referred to as the creative destruction and the rapid rebuilding of an organization in order to improve it - and to be willing to do so repeatedly.

For organizations to consistently win over time, internal revolution (not evolution) must be driven by leaders and managers with the ideas, the heart, and the will to continuously respond to an ever-growing number of new opportunities. To stay alive, an organization must adopt life-sustaining change as its way of life. Of course, not all change is improvement, but without change an organization cannot improve itself.

Similarly, without the ability and desire to respond to new opportunities, or better still, creating products and services that create new opportunities, an organization can neither survive over time, nor thrive in its current time. There is little doubt that the revolutionary changes usually needed to properly respond to new opportunities can be painful, and risky. Nor is there little doubt that the conserving forces within an organization will tend to resist the potential pain and risk that such dramatic change demands.

Leaders Needed

In all facets of life, including business affairs, one must master change. Faced with increasingly difficult, demanding, large, and frequent mega-shifts in worldwide economies, societies, technologies, marketplaces and competitive forces, organizations need leaders and managers at every level and throughout all aspects and functions who can optimally redirect an organization's emotional and economic energies and resources.

Throughout every organization, its leaders and managers must be willing, if not eager, to repeatedly let go of the tried and true established ideas and ways of doing things and quickly adopt newer and better ones. And, its leaders and managers must be able to encourage, to guide and to help each and every member of the organization to generate the very high levels of positive energy and commitment needed to do the same. As the monkey swinging through the trees of the forest must let go of the trailing but then still supporting branch as it grasps the next branch forward, so too must all members of a modern organization be eagerly grasping upon the next great opportunity as it moves rapidly forward, and willingly letting go of the old as it progresses.

For us, today's economic life is one of constant change. And these changes, while individually often seem to happen little by little, collectively they occur at such a great rate of speed that, in very short time, very great shifts in the organization have occurred.

Sometimes before we have realized what is happening, it has already happened. If, at every level, people are not constantly noting and thinking about the possibilities latent within seemingly small changes, by the time the cumulative effect of these is realized by those at the top of an organization, it is usually too late. No organization can rely solely on leadership from the top.

Leaders and managers at every level must realize that an organization will survive and thrive only through change. No matter what its situation, an organization's managers and leaders, at every level, can improve the organization and its competitive performance only if individually and collectively they can do an ever better job of generating new ideas, instilling better values, creating more positive energy, making tough decisions, and having the courage of their commitments to implement both incremental improvements, and to also gain quantum leaps forward as well. In today's organizations, everyone must contribute to the collective knowledge for us to achieve.

Corporate Gobbledygook

From personal experience and conversations with many experts in the field, there is reasonable agreement that most corporate sales, marketing and PR lingo suffers from

"The Four Too’s."

-- Too wordy

-- Too complex

-- Too confusing

-- Too Valueless

Agree or Disagree?

Why is that?

Essentially it boils down to:

1. Trying to be all things to all people at all times

2. Not knowing you can’t be all things to all people at all times

3. Trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent, intricate and inclusive

And finally, the biggie, not understanding your customer/buyer.

For example, in a recent Yankee Group study of executives who are likely to buy enterprise software, it was discovered that large ERP vendors promoted speeds, feeds and technology innovation to their marketplace. These promotions more often than not entail lengthy and wordy descriptive obfuscations (yes, I know what it means, I’m trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent and inclusive).

But Guess What?

Buyers don’t care about that. Nope. They essentially want one thing: understanding.

Simple understanding.

Clear, short, concise messages and understanding.

Understanding of What?

Understanding them, their businesses, their processes. They don’t want or need the wordy intellectual technical features and functions tomes. Keep it simple! Less is more. They throw away all of your cutesy, excessively long-winded brochures as soon as you leave the room.

Some other findings of the study were interesting as well. Buyers would pay for

· high integrity,

· fast return on investment,

· inexpensive operation,

· easy implementation, and

· excellent service.

But how is that different from 20 years ago? And isn’t that applicable to any buyer?

Buyers Want What They Want

Buyers are pretty basic. They want what they want. Understanding and practicality.

Would You Buy From This Company?

"We provide"

· low integrity,

· no return on investment,

· expensive products,

· hard-to-implement products, and

· the world’s worst customer service.

Just a wild guess. But I’m thinking not.

So, we should be able to develop a simple message based on the above attributes that buyers are seeking … right? I mean. C’mon. Simple … right? Okay, then what about

· high value,

· low cost,

· rapid ROI,

· quick, guaranteed implementation, and

· proven customer service?

Nahhh …

Never work … not enough words.

Ohhh … since I referenced the Yankee Group study, I will point to their corporate tagline:

"Accurate. Reliable. Trusted."

Nahh …

Won’t work either. Needs more words. I guess I’ll have to pass the bad news on to them.

On Being a Simpleton

I like simple messages that give me four tools to combat the four too’s.

The Four Tools

1. What do you do?

2. How do you do it?

3. What makes you different from your competitors?

4. Why should I buy from you (value proposition)?

I know.

Too simple.

But, having recently read this message,

"We build, sell and support hypothetical superluminal quantum particle applications with ERP, CRM, BPM, MRM and PLM functionality targeted at vertical market particularities with platform-neutral ‘LMNOP" interoperability.’ "

I find I still prefer

1. What do you do?

2. How do you do it?

3. What makes you different from your competitors?

4. Why should I buy from you (value proposition)?

Thoughts to Ponder (From Really Smart People)

-- "Less is more." - Browning

-- "Simplify, simplify." - Thoreau

-- "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." - Einstein

-- "If you have to look the meaning of a word up … don’t use it." - Stephen King

-- "Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us; but simplicity and straightforwardness are. Write much as you would speak; speak as you think. Be what you say; and, within the rules of prudence, say what you are." - Alford

-- "Simplicity is the outward sign and symbol of depth of thought." – Lin Yutang

Monday, December 12, 2005

Global Branding is Now a War

Naseem Javed comments that Global Branding is Now a War.

Brilliant warriors of the entertainment industry were all fooled by not recognizing the phenomena of the upcoming technological revolution. Surprisingly, academia, along with the supporting professional services, was convinced that downloading was just for kids. Global denial and hypocrisy created this musical comedy.

Now this is a big lesson to other industries. If you are not aware of what is about to hit your industry today, it might already be too late. This is because those industries that are facing a meltdown in the delivery of goods and services have no other option but to go to war and fight to win. The older and more established the organizations, the more vulnerable they are. You should raise questions, because denials will not help. Take charge or take cover.

Friday, December 09, 2005

If, Aimee, and Me

This post was written by my colleague Steve Kayser. The story is true. The need is real. Hope is the only strategy we have.

Who is She? Who is Me?


If the expansion rate of the universe was changed by one-part in a trillion

trillion trillion trillion trillion, faster or slower …

Life on earth would not exist.

But it does.

If a measuring tape was stretched across the universe and segmented in one-inch increments (billions upon gazillions of inches) representing the force strengths of nature – (gravity, electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces) and the tape was moved one inch in either direction …

Life on earth would not exist.

But it does.

If the cosmological constant (the energy density of space), and part of Einstein’s equation of General Relativity, was not tuned to one-part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion (1053 – 10 followed by 53 zeroes) …

Life on earth would not exist.

But it does.

A Step-Ahead, A Step-Behind, A Step-Away

Life, balanced on a razor’s edge, is always a step-away from the great divide. Nonetheless, life, you, me, exist … and move on.

So does Cancer.

The cause is hidden. The effect is visible to all. – Ovid

One Million Deaths … Per Second

Each one of us has between seventy-five to one hundred trillion cells in our bodies. Approximately one million of them die every second.

Our continued existence is predicated on a complex churning of cells dividing, growing, replacing and replicating. Occasionally one of those million replications per second doesn’t go well. An error is replicated. A cell mutates. Thus begins an “uncontrolled proliferation and disorganized growth of cells,” and leads us to …

3,761 people per day that will be diagnosed as “new cases of cancer,” this year in the United States alone.

3,761 people per day.

I want to talk about just one - Aimee Dailey

Please read on …

The true meaning of life is to plant trees,
under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
– Nelson Henderson

Aimee Dailey, a former Cincom employee, lives in Middletown, Ohio. Aimee is currently diagnosed with incurable cancer, and is now on her third round of chemotherapy in the last three months.

Aimee will have to go through four or five more rounds of treatments before she will know if the chemotherapy is working. The last round of treatments didn’t work – and Aimee has been fighting Cancer for the last seven years.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.

That will be the beginning. – Louis L'Amour

What’s it like for Aimee?

Bone pain, back pain, hard to walk, muscles bind and tighten up. In Aimee’s words, “just moving is a joke sometimes”. Yet, life calls. There are still everyday duties to be performed.

Aimee is married to Bill.

They have two children; Jake is 10 years old and in the 5th grade, Eryne is 7-years-old and in the 2nd grade. Jake and Eryne have never known their mother when she didn’t have cancer. The way she is, is the way she has always been – to them

Jake wonders …

You know children are growing up when they
start asking questions that have answers. – John J. Plomp

Jake wonders and asks about going to Disney World on vacation like his friends. Aimee and Bill tell him they can’t afford it. The medical bills are crushing.

Aimee’s doctors are concerned about a newly discovered tumor close to her heart. As a result, she now has to take heart medication in addition to the 27 other medications she has to take regularly.

Do the Math

What’s the co-pay cost (the insured’s responsibility) on 27 medications?


And that’s just a tiny fraction of the medical bills.

But … tiny fractions make all the difference.

Tiny fractions enable life on this planet to exist.

Tiny fractions can also mean choosing between medication, food or Christmas gifts.

Between health, hope and happiness.

And Now, It’s Christmas

Aimee has been in the hospital for the last two Christmas’s. Her Christmas wish? Simple, really: To do it up well for her children, Jake and Eyrne. To make this Christmas especially memorable.

If, Aimee, and Me

We’ve talked about “If”.

We’ve talked about Aimee.

Who is the “Me”?


You are me.

I am me.

We are all me.

A Helping Hand

So if you can, please, please lend a helping hand.

What would help Aimee most?

Money. Money for medical expenses, utilities, car repairs, basic needs and … CHRISTMAS gifts.

How can you help?

You can donate electronically at “Helping Hand” The Aimee Dailey Contribution Fund is set up at US Bank. You can go to any US Bank nationwide and give to the “Aimee Dailey Contribution Fund.”

Contact US Bank at:

US Bank
4401 Roosevelt Blvd
Middletown, OH 45044
(513) 422-6344

Please make checks payable to: Aimee Dailey Contribution Fund.

If you want to help locally please contact Stephanie Henry at or call her at 513-612-2546

If you want to send Aimee a note please click on the “Helping Hand” link.

Stephanie Henry at or call her at 513-612-2546

The Dead Old World and
The Brave New World

More validation to the message we preach here at Context Rules Marketing: This time it is from Kevin Clancy, author of Counterintuitive Marketing, as reported in CMO Magazine.

"Every place you look in marketing today, you see more failure than success. Marketing Management Analytics recently reported that for every $100 invested in advertising for a specific product, the return is only $58. Customer satisfaction across a broad range of industries is only 74%. The fact is: Failure is rampant."

A $100 Investment to Get Back $58?

You can get more of Kevin's point of view in CMO's webcast series on innovative influencers.

We have been reporting on similar dismal statistics for a decade. But the tree falls in the forest silently. The Dead Old World plods on without realizing it has no pulse. Where are the CMOs who have the courage to see the truth? Where are the professional marketers who are ready to enter The Brave New World?

What does that Brave New World look like?

It looks upside down to most traditional marketers.

Instead of hawking products, we need to build relationships. Today, the second a prospect identifies himself by requesting a free whitepaper or entering a sweepstakes, the traditional marketer launches an arsenal to sell that prospect a product. The communications become all about how wonderful this product is and how great the company is.

This is rubbish.

The customer will have no more of it.

The customer is looking for people who understand his problem, his pain. We need to talk about that pain with the customer and demonstrate that we understand his business and what he's trying to do. Earn the right to continue the dialogue. Instead of pitching your product, you get into his context and teach him new ways to accomplish his goals. Then you can help him purchase.

Can you see where helping a customer purchase is different than selling something to the customer?

The dialogue is completely different. It is upside down from today. But why hold on to "today." The facts have already told you "today" is a failed strategy.

I call it "contextual marketing" but whatever you want to call it ... we all need to build a relationship with the customer, we all need to earn the right to remain in the dialogue, we all must help the customer buy, we all must focus on the buying cycle instead of the selling cycle.

If not, we are doomed to repeat failure until the CEO cuts our budget from under us.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is Google Stealing Copyrighted Content?

That is apparently the claim made by the European Publishers Council. They believe Google steals their content and to make the injustice complete, they believe Google then sells advertising that runs alongside the stolen content and is guilty of grand larceny. And they have launched lawsuits to back their claim.

Funny, however, the publishers should be thanking Google for sending traffic to their content. That’s because all Google does is index Web and Blog pages and enables us to search it out easier than hunting in the haystack for the golden needle. Google does not reveal the copyrighted content, but instead provides links so that those of interested will go to the site and read the article.

If we cannot all see the wisdom of this, no wonder we can’t agree on the best way to fight terrorism or to end poverty.

Vismayo to You

Writer and teacher Jeff Davis uses the Sanskrit word "vismayo" -- a word that apparently means "being open to wonder and amazement." To understanding your customers isn't only smart marketing -- it's a big exhilarating adventure, full of wonder and amazement.

That's the nature of the adventure when you leap off the corporate-centric barge and start swiming in the icy cold water of contextual communications. Every stroke up stream is exhilarating and rewarding because it puts you on a path your competition most probably cannot even understand.

It's like talking Sanskrit to them.

They just want to tell prospects as fast as possible why their product is so wonderful. They don't want to take the time to give the whole subject meaning that will then enable the customer to make a purchase decision with more confidence.

Go for the vismayo!

Hey, You Left Your Starbucks on the Roof

I admit I would have fallen for it. More than once I've pulled out of the garage with my coffee sitting on the roof of my car, only to hear it plunk to the street when I hit the curb. But this guy got out of his driveway and out on the expressway with a cup of Starbucks still sitting on his car roof!

Yep, it's just one more clever viral marketing maneuver. This time it was masterminded by Starbucks in San Francisco as reported in Adrants. So next time you see a drink on the car, think twice before you act like a Good Samaritan to lean out your window and warn the driver he forgot his coffee on the roof.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A New Reality in Shopping

On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), it was fascinating watching some of the more technically astute shoppers walking the aisles looking for bargains. They were using the Web while they were in the bricks & mortar stores, checking who had the best deals in real time via their smart-phones. It's no longer online or offline. It's both--and that's a new reality.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Branding – Now that’s What I’m Talkin’ ‘bout!

KFC (that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken, for those of us who knew the brand before fried foods became a curse word) has revamped itself. According to Hub Magazine, KFC management took the brand back to its roots to help reverse a long and serious decline in revenue. Back to its roots meant regaining context with its core customers … people who wear their opinions on their sleeves and have bumper stickers on their cars and are pro NRA. Fried chicken is a meal straight from the ole South. In addition to a new message strategy, KFC also focused its menu on Southern fixings – candied yams, seasoned collard greens and sweet potato pie.

What I admire about this marketing shift is the courage it took to focus on a specific target audience profile and not to try and serve up chicken for the masses. Good marketing has to speak to the individual and do it within the context in which that individual lives. Most marketers strive for mass market share and dilute their messages and products so they appeal to everyone.

This is what I call “lowest common denominator” marketing. Say something that is so broad that it is true for everyone and not true for anyone.

The real gratification for KFC might be that they know they had this courage to do what their best customers wanted. It does not hurt that year over year sales have been growing since the transformation.

Are boxes friends or enemies?

Some boxes – the ones that become paradigms for how we get work done efficiently – these are good boxes. But even these can become traps to fend off innovation. So we always say “let’s think outside the box.”

But Dr. Peter Suedfeld, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, has completed research that puts people into a box of sorts – a dark room with no outside stimuli. And the people in the experiment exhibited increased creativity. He says “to the extent that a box keeps the outside world away, it may be better to think inside a box.”

That runs counter to the method used so successfully by Doug Hall at his Eureka Ranch. Doug can point to thousands of new products that resulted from Eureka experiences where teams are exposed to novel stimuli that spark new ideas. In large part, his process works because of his brilliant leadership in the sessions … but his use of stimulus exercises in a team setting is more than successful.

At my former promotion agency, we had a sustaining partnership with Doug Hall -- one that led to many successful joint projects. I have participated in many Eureka brainstorming sessions and know his method works. And while you're at it you have fun shooting your cohorts with nurf balls and eating like a king. Really First Class Brainstorming!

It might be interesting to have Suedfeld and Hall in a dark room and then in the think tank at Eureka Ranch to see which method results in more innovation. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Back From Vacation ... Time to Post Again

I need to put my training wheels back on and get to posting ... had a lot of thoughts while I've been away and want to share them in the coming weeks.

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