Sunday, April 30, 2006

It Must be True ... it's in the IBM Report

I was truly shocked the other day to learn that there were more computer chips produced last year than grains of rice harvested. That sits up there on the Believe it Or Not list. But cap it off with the fact that the chips cost less on average than the rice.

That gives you an idea of how technology is impacting everything we do. What we're really marketing these days (unless you are selling grains of rice) apparently are computer chips. And just when we are approaching the limits for how thin a slice of silicon can be slivered, along comes nanotechnology. It appears that Moore's Law is still safe. And it appears that all of us better get better and better at marketing computer chips -- big ones and nano ones.

Where Will Your Next Big
Marketing Idea Come From?

Breakthrough thinking is a challenge. We get mired down in "the way we do things around here" and some of our toughest problems persist, starved of new ideas.

I ran into a post by Bryan Coffman with a great example of an idea generation technique similar to one we used at my agency for years, adapted from Doug Hall's Eureka Methodology. It is useful at times to look outside your organization for a stimulus that enables you to see a solution that was totally invisible to you. Using stimulus materials was a basic concept of our ideation sessions. Put two random objects on a table and use them to stir the brain cells.

The Hairpin Curve

For example, if the problem is finding ways to improve sales, the problem solver might select a concept at random like a hairpin and put that together with the problem and see what emerges as those two concepts are held together in thought.
  1. Hairpins keep hair in place. Maybe we need to put salespeople in place at key accounts.
  2. Hairpins have those little waves on one side. Why? Maybe they help hold the hair and keep the hairpin from sliding out. Maybe our sales people need three or four key holds that they can use to keep accounts.
  3. There's another type of hairpin that operates like a clothespin--squeeze one end to open the jaws and then let go so the jaws can clamp down on the hair.
On and on the ideas can flow.

The process has, according to Coffman, two side benefits:

First, the people engaging in the process use the stimulus material to force themselves to think differently about their challenge. The stimulus helps open up new domains in the solution space.

Second, along the way, we frequently experience lots of ideas that lead to nowhere. But if wecan become comfortable with that feeling, eventually we will let go of a lot of the fear and tension that inhibits creativity. That eventually sets up the environment for a creative idea to surface.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Small Ideas Bigger than Big Ideas

If you are wondering where the emerging markets lie, look no further than the one focused on small ideas -- nanotechnology.

'Nanotechnology' is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale.

It is a haven for clever marketing innovators. Business giants are looking at concepts that are built with atomic precision -- Procter & Gamble, Boeing, Merck, Kraft, Ford, the list is long and getting longer.

To gauge nanotech’s impact on global businesses and their readiness for change, Lux Research analyzed 1,331 of the world’s largest companies. These corporations put $3.2 billion into nanotech R&D in 2005 and earned $32 billion in revenues from nanotech-related products. So this is not science fiction. It is happening already and the leaders are making money.

Among Lux Research’s findings: Nanotechnology will impact different industries in radically different ways. In high-impact industries like pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and aerospace, companies like Merck and Boeing will develop wholly new product lines, find cost reduction/performance improvements on the order of 20% or more, and need to develop new processes for innovations like drug-device hybrids and roll-to-roll printable electronic devices. Even in medium-impact sectors like automotive and food, companies like Ford and Kraft are seeing large incremental improvements that will be felt at the bottom line as nanotechnology makes hybrid vehicles run longer and functional foods deliver more nutrition.

It offers better built, longer lasting, cleaner, safer, and smarter products for the home, for communications, for medicine, for transportation, for agriculture, and defense. Nanotech offers not just better products, but a vastly improved means of production. The vision extends to nanofactories that make new nanofactories at the same low cost and at the same rapid speed as they make products -- a biological capability that brings with it exponential productivity.

Companies need to start today to develop new strategies for R&D, product development, manufacturing, intellectual property management, marketing, supplier relationships. Cincom Systems has been at work developing technologies to assist nanotech businesses. When it comes to big ideas, think small.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Marketing in Times Square Gets Very Personal

When billboards begin actively interacting with passersby, you know the marketing world is beginning to understand that it is time to change the way we converse with clients.

Nationwide Insurance is the latest brand to speak to consumers through an interactive billboard located in New York's Times Square. Nike, Mountain Dew and Time Magazine launched similar campaigns in the past.

The Nationwide promotion is part of their "Life Comes At You Fast" campaign.

Heightening the contextual relevance of the interactive billboard, consumers can submit their own stories online for possible inclusion -- the chance to be a "star" in Times Square.
"How did life come fast at you? Send us your story. If it stands out, we'll
post it LIVE in Times Square. Do something that says, 'hey, world ... look at
how fast life came at me.' Like tell your husband you're pregnant."


More than 2,000 consumer moments will be broadcast on the billboard during the Nationwide campaign. A live Webcam runs on the submission site, giving participants a view of other Times Square stars. And if you really like stress, you can let the sound effects emanating from the traffic ripple from your computer speaker.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Marketing by Vision ... or by Research?

Where's your comfort level? Entrepreneurs often innovate on their gut instincts of what the market needs without ever checking what customers in that market are looking for. Research tends to lead toward incremental growth while entrepreneurs seek explosive growth. By one account only 60% of such initiatives succeed and this number has been consistent for, believe it or not, several decades.

Such new business models are not for everyone -- it calls for a high risk tolerance, exceptional creativity and comfort with the "irrational" process of new business innovation. The critical difference between successes and failures turns out to be the team leading the project.

1. The more highly creative group did more projects.

2. The more highly creative group branched the projects more frequently (redirected or significantly "morphed" them).

3. The more highly creative group was responsible for identifying concepts that, when later commercialized by the business, made far greater profits: $197.5 million, vs. $15.2 million.

Carving out successes calls for a value proposition that is distinctively unique -- in a category of its own. Being different is more important than being better. Better leads to incremental growth. Different leads to explosive growth ... if everything else also lines up.

This strategy must be right, but that's not enough.

In fact, it may not even be the most important aspect of success. Speed to market is essential for radical innovators. And execution is the real graveyard for most failures. The company where I work has had its share of great successes. But the failures tend to occur because the team was wrong and because the team failed to understand how to maximize the great idea.

The unique value proposition must be built on real value for the marketplace. But the stream of activities to deliver the value to the market is the chopping block. The first 90 days of a launch are most critical. Know exactly what you must do to deliver value to early adopters in this time frame. Break down the natural barriers between marketing and salespeople, between company and channel partners, between sellers and buyers. The biggest cause for 90-day failure is a failure to communicate and align resources to effectively deliver value through the network.

So. Be different. Be focused on the value proposition. Be first. Be aligned. Move fast.

Making 6 Figures is Just a Game

Linden Labs' Second Life, is an online game that demonstrates clearly how this new market is exploding. Remember my previous post about user-generated content as one of the attributes of Web 2.0 businesses?

Second Life is a privately-owned, subscription-based massively-multiplayer online real-life game (MMORLG) created in 2003 by San Francisco-based Linden Lab. Founded by former RealNetworks CTO Philip Rosedale, Second Life gives its users (referred to as "residents") tools to add to and edit its world and participate in its economy. The majority of the content in the Second Life world is resident-created. Linden Lab actively promotes the concept that residents retain the intellectual property rights to objects they create (although they are required to offer Linden Lab an open license to it

In Second Life, there isn't actually anything in particular to do -- it's an unscripted game. That means new players can get lost in the confusion. Because there's no central plot, users have to create things to do, which has opened the platform up to commerce.

But here's the incredible thing. Second Life is creating a marketplace where players buy stuff to play with. Linden dollars, as the game's currency is called, trade at 300 to one U.S. dollar, and users are encouraged to use them to make things. You can buy property and build a home or a store, but you can also use the technology to customize the things you make, be it a storefront, furniture or clothing, which gives people the opportunity to cash in on their creativity.

Some of the more successful virtual businesses (Second Life has over 170,000 players) earn six figures or more and are now hiring real-world executives to manage explosive growth.

How fun is that?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Celebs Must Love Marketing ... I mean LOVE!

Did you ever wonder what it costs to get a celeb on your marketing payroll?

Adrants and Adweek have listed the Top Ten Deals. Here you can marvel how a single celeb can, in one day, make more money than you will see in your entire life.

1. Catherine Zeta-Jones, T-Mobile: $20 million
2. Angelina Jolie, St. John: $12+ million
3. Nicole Kidman, Chanel No. 5: $12 million
4. Jessica Simpson, Guthy-Renker: $7.5 million
5. Gwyneth Paltrow, EsteLauder: $6+ million
6. Charlize Theron, Dior: $6 million
7. Julia Roberts, Gianfranco: $5 million
8. Brad Pitt, Heineken: $4 million
9. Scarlett Johansson, L'Oreal: $4 million
10. Penelope Cruz, L'Oreal: $4 million

For those who wish to wallow in the industry's obsession with celebrity, AdWeek will have a full report on Monday

Marketing and the Online Customer Experience

Let's assume that people who visit our websites from search are mission-driven. If their mission is not accomplished, and accomplished quickly, visitors will seek an alternative, and these metrics may turn out to be a red herring.

We cannot put up eBarriers to enabling visitors to accomplish their missions. Instead, get them as fast as possible to relevant information. Most sites I visit do not do this for me. I sit there and scratch my head: what were they thinking when they designed this page? Surely not me. Do you get the same experience?

You click on an article in your Google search, or on a Google Ad ... do you get to the information you expected to get, or are you treated to a salespitch, or are you dumped on the Home Page with no idea how to get to the information you were looking for? Let's Keep It Simple. Give them what they want and then motivate them to go where you want them to go ... not the other way around.

Is Marketing Worthy? Is Sales Worthy?

There's a natural rivalry between marketing and sales, but both silos are (or ought to be) doing the same thing. Marketing might be a bit more focused on a consistent brand message and sales might be more focused on engaging specific prospects. But neither can succeed without the other. Too many in one of the silos want to take all the credit for successes and point at the other silo when there are failures. Better, by far, to go the whole journey together.

A few statistics:

The average tenure for a CMO is just 23 months according to the CMO Council.

The collateral produced by marketing almost never gets used in the field ... 50% to 80% according to the American Marketing Association is wasted and the figure is up to 90% wasted according to Frost & Sullivan.

The typical sales rep spends 40% of his or her time customizing or reworking brochures and presentations but most reps are not trained to do this well.

The ideal brand message has four components:
  1. What we do
  2. How we provide value
  3. How we do this uniquely
  4. Evidence to support the claim

This brand message should be delivered with clarity, with consistency across all touchpoints, and with relevance to deliver compelling motivation. And yet, according to the CMO Council, 75% of marketers indicate their companies cannot achieve this requirement.

What must change to improve the effectiveness of marketing messaging that is delivered in the field?

Start with a discovery session to learn what content and messaging that reps will actually use. Make sure everyone on the team knows exactly how your company provides value to customers ... value that customers will actually find valuable. Get this down to the elevator speech that everyone can buy into. Then make it easy to modify this messaging in the field while adhering to brand consistency. Make it easier for sales agents to get at the best matrix of content assets for use in a particular sales situation.

If we do this well, it will dramatically reduce the time that reps need to spend getting ready to engage and expand the time they spend in front of prospects. The content will get better, will get used. The value proposition will convince prospects they need to do business with you.

Or, we can all keep doing this the same as we are doing it today ... and have 50 - 90% of the effort wasted.

Sun Microsystem -- A Marketing Death Star

As you may have read, the CEO of Sun after serving as CEO for 22 years has just passed the baton to a new CEO.

The media hint that Scott McNealy did so because the company is mired in debt and has had no profit since 2002.

The new CEO Jonathon Schwarz had this comment:

Schwartz said Sun will spend the next 90 days assessing various aspects of its business and finding ways to become more efficient, and he hinted that some of the company's less-profitable units or products would be redirected or eliminated. He said his vision for running the company would not be dramatically different from McNealy's, saying that the company plans to continue to invest in research and development and "intercepting demand" for the huge growth of computing.

Pay special attention to "some of the company's less-profitable units or products would be redirected or eliminated." That's the hardest, but most essential profit management task a CEO has ... resources must be directed to create unique value for customers. Where you cannot create such unique value, get the hook!

Java software was created by Sun Microsystems, and it’s likely that Java will eventually be seen for what it really is -- an inferior application development environment that takes more engineers to do the same task and more time to do the same task than Smalltalk. Java might be McNealy's ultimate legacy but it will be one that sooner or later goes down in flames as new and better object-oriented technologies come along. Until then, IS department managers would be smart to take another look at Smalltalk -- less errors, faster time to profit, less cost for engineering.

Jini is Sun's relatively new software that enables devices to configure themselves into a network, with minimal fuss by the people using the gadgets. Instead, Jini-enabled devices automatically send out signals telling the network that they contain Jini software (a process called automatic polling), and perform various tasks with little additional human intervention. This one has some potential for delivering unique value -- but get off the Java train as fast as you can and get more work done for less investment.

Marketing Metrics: Hide or Seek

Jeanne Jennings at ClickZ wrote this morning about predicting marketing results. Her comments reminded me of how difficult it is to get marketing managers to go out on the limb and post expectations and anticipated metrics before a campaign is launched. To me it was just a built-in part of the process, but in 20 years of working with many different clients at big companies and small, I could count on one hand the number of times a campaign was launched with measurable goals.

Jeanne lists the following reasons:


  1. Some feel if the projections aren't met it reflects poorly on their abilities as a marketer.
  2. Others even fear they'll lose their job if they put an estimate of response on paper, then don't meet it.
  3. Some have trouble with the assumptive aspect of projections; they aren't comfortable "guestimating" figures they don't have.
  4. Many cite lack of time as a reason for not projecting, as in "I don't have time to do projections, I just have to get these e-mails out." The problem is activity doesn't always translate in productivity; a comparable or higher response rate may be achievable with fewer e-mails or fewer hours.
  5. Then there are folks who have a more creative, qualitative focus; they shy away from anything having to do with spreadsheets and numbers.
  6. Another big reason for not doing projections is there's no tracking or reporting of actual results by e-mail campaign, so you won't ever really be able to tie projections back to reality with 100 percent certainty.
Now, I certainly don't want to incriminate anyone, but if any of these six rationalizations are floating around at your shop, make a resolution to stomp them out as fast as possible. Without measurable objectives, you can never get better.

Look for industry benchmarks. Look for case histories. Look at the end results that are needed to achieve desired revenue goals. Jeanne suggests Clickz Stats. You can also find some good stats at Larry Chase's site. Reports you can purchase are available at the Direct Marketing Association site and MarketingSherpa site.

At least make the next campaign a starting point ... make your best assumptions as to the metrics you can achieve. Then run the campaign and report back the findings. These findings become your benchmark.

The next campaign should be aimed at improving these results -- dramatically. I say dramatically because bigger measurable goals will cause you to think through the kinds of changes that will move you from safe harbor into uncharted territory. Learn from this -- you might back off some of the changes or you might institute new changes. Keep measuring and keep learning and keep improving.

A Fast Primer on Marketing Touchpoints

Our portfolio of marketing touchpoint opportunities is expanding rapidly so it's smart to keep a few basics in mind as we tool down the road:

WEBINARS
A webinar does not need to be expensive -- 2 to 3K should be plenty.
Ideally, customers should be the guest speakers -- they can validate the value message as well as make it compelling through their first hand knowledge.
These should be regular and frequent
They should be recorded and made available on your website.
Follow up with each registrant within 72 hours.

GOOGLE AdWords
Regarding Keywords - all ways choose these from a user perspective.
These words are frequently far less expensive than industry "buzz-words" or technogibberish.
Don't just drive people to your homepage. The magic is in the landing page.

NEWSLETTERS
Should be content based and establish an onging relationship with customers/prospects.
The goal should be to help the readers do their job better.
Recommended frequency is once per month.
Build and use the user database and continuously validate the database.
There should be a call to action.

BLOGS
Must be kept fresh.
Tendency is for BLOGs to get stale.

WHITEPAPERS
Over 90% of technology buyers say this is their preferred offer.
However, they are inundated with whitepaper offers.
Use only if they are truely good.

POD CASTS
Great for 3 minute messages.
Great for collecting data on users.

WEBSITE
This must be a marketing platform not a product platform.
Should generate decent leads by tracking downloads.
Websites should feature continuous surveys.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Free iPod Marketing Offers
Give Way to Brighter Ideas

Last Wednesday, I offered up that marketing must come up with a new magical sword -- at least periodically -- to keep itself fresh and inviting.

Today The EMail Insider gave proof positive of what I was saying:

While it is certain that improved spam filtering has had a significant impact, I think the real culprit is the incentive marketing industry itself. It has gone to the well too many times with creative that is boring, repetitive, and out of date. Zero money has been spent in increasing consumer confidence in the programs. In the end, the industry has suffered from a lack of vision, leadership, or imagination.

A review of subject lines and creative over the last few years reveals an industry that has coasted for too long, letting its offers, programs, and incentives to
grow stale. A lack of self-policing has also taken its toll. In 2004, we reported on incentive offer opt-ins from companies such as the now defunct Synergy Six, from which we began to receive pornography offers. And we demonstrated that a single signup on American-Giveaways generated thousands of spam e-mails from hundreds of companies. Rather than face these problems head-on and clean house, many incentive marketers have gone on with business as usual until the golden goose was dead.

What prompted this was The eMail Insider's tracking of Experian's outbound promotional email versus site visits for MetaRewards ... the two curves went in opposite directions somewhere around the start of the year and were not returning to a positive reading.

So can we learn from someone else's mistakes or do we have to burn our own fingers before we learn?

I know where I work, we've relied on whitepapers and free iPods for at least a year, and the ROI has been diminishing. So we are now exploring totally different strategies and offers. It's hard work, but as "they" say, someone has to do it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Word of Mouth Marketing at P&G

Connecting with Connectors is New CRM Strategy

Peppers and Rogers' latest newsletter offers keen insights into word of mouth marketing ... they present concepts from P&G, Mercedes and Starbucks:

An excerpt on the P&G portion:
Procter & Gamble has invested in word-of-mouth activities designed to connect with consumers on a more personal level. "Advocacy occurs in one-to-one conversations, not online," said Steve Knox, CEO of Procter & Gamble's word-of-mouth marketing division, Tremor. He pointed to the need to identify and get close to "connectors," people with strong social networks who are likely to evangelize (or badmouth) products and services. "They can advocate in any direction, so we want to get as close as we can."

Knox believes in predictive models to make sure the right messages get to the connectors. Because in many cases, the message these customers want to hear is different from the message they share with friends. For example, consumers were interested in seeing Dawn dish soap's new brand message in ads -- that the soap goes directly on the sponge. But they tell their friends that their kids like it so much they want to help wash dishes.

It is an oft repeated theme here ... but for all the money spent on CRM technology, it still comes down to effective and innovative strategy to make the technology work. CRM was thought to be a magic elixer, but the failures to gain performance improvements still calls for rolling up the sleeve and doing the hard work of connecting with customers.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

User Generated Media Ideal Marketing Strategy

While user-generated media are a hotspot for online advertising reaching younger audiences, technology buyers and influencers are also a concentrated market that uses RSS media.

The explosion continues. User-generated media (a fancy term for blogs and online games) have proven a spectacular way to talk with the 18-34 crowd. That stands to reason. As MTV influence wanes, the new media offer high contextual relevance ... great targeting for an audience that has never been easy to reach before.

An "old" technology world of marketing ...

Years ago we were going after this audience for our client Pringles ... before MTV and the Internet ... and teen boys was an especially tough group to talk with. We resorted to billboard posters that we had hanging is high school hallways. For Hawaiian Punch, we got sampling in school cafeterias by demonstrating to managers of school lunch programs that they could make increased revenue by offering Hawaiian Punch to the students. This was all hard work. The task is much easier with blogs and online games -- natural hangouts for teens.

But now I work in the B2B world, marketing software to technology buyers.

Again, the new media come to the rescue. The tech world is always an early adopter of technology and they gravitated to RSS and blog technology very early. I can still remember Jim Robertson pitching this as a marketing path five years ago -- long before RSS and blogs were what they are today. That's because Jim (being a techie who programs in and promotes Smalltalk as the ideal programming environment that beats the socks off Java in performance), Jim saw the potential the second the RSS protocols were in place. Before that he was a great proponent of Wiki technology (long before Wikipedia hit its current popularity).

If you are aiming at a B2B audience or if you are aiming at a youth audience, you absolutely need online advertising to extend into the user-generated media world.

Mobile Phone Customer Churn
A Huge Marketing Problem

According to a recent Forrester report release, nearly 98 million US households will have a mobile phone by 2010. That's the good news for mobile phone carriers.

The bad news is bad indeed -- 24% of US mobile subscribers switched providers between 2004 and 2005, and another 16% plan to switch in the next two years.

Number portability, commoditized mobile offerings, and lifestyle-based service providers will continue to create churn, going forward.

The likelihood that these lost customers will return is very low ... at least until they have made the rounds between providers and learned that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. So that means for this industry, marketing costs will be astronomical.

Wouldn't it be a better investment to focus on retention instead of acquisition.

Get to know each customer and help that customer maximize use of the phone to meet the customer's individual needs. Communicate around the issues that the customer has indicated are most important -- not price but service. Most mobile phone users I know use only a small percentage of the features available to them ... either don't know how or don't care to use them. Either problem is an opportunity to a truly customer-centric marketing organization.

This is a lesson all of us who sell complex products or services could learn from the mobile phone industry so we don't some day find ourselves in the same boat.

Friday, April 14, 2006

My 7 Golden Rules for Marketing on the Phone

I am not talking about cold calling on the phone. What a waste. The federal government did us all a favor by taking such interruptive calls into our homes away from our marketing mix. Now we can stay riveted on calling as part of a coordinated lead generation process. It is not episodic, but instead is cleverly integrated into an overall process of helping customers make better buying decisions.

My First Golden Rule: Do No Cold Calling.

Call into carefully segmented target audiences, based on contextually relevant information -- a reasonable reason to make the call. This is not a numbers game; it is a a ratios discipline.

My Second Golden Rule: Plan Ahead How You Will be of Assistance.

Before you make the call, know exactly what you want to achieve and how you will help the person on the other end of the line. What will that person do differently or better as a result of your call?

My Third Golden Rule: Establish the Reason for the Call.

Your opening sentence should briefly tell what the call is about and how you are providing value to the listener. "Thanks for visiting our booth at the recent trade show ... I am following up on your interest in improving operational efficiency ... I have a few ideas to share with you.

My Fourth Golden Rule: Be Courteous.

Is this a good time for us to talk? Yes: thank you. Maybe: I will keep this brief. No: When would you prefer that I call back?

My Fifth Golden Rule: Ask and Listen.

Successful telemarketing reps ask and listen and then respond to the customer's needs. Picture what the person is saying to you ... make it visual in your head so you can see her needs ... repeat key comments or words. Close your eyes so you can see the situation.

My Sixth Golden Rule: Respond with Contextually Relevant Assistance.

You have an objective in mind and you must achieve your objective. But you must do it in such a way that you are helping. Use emotional cues to drive toward customer value. Confirm if you are on base and if not, get back on base. Be helpful. Be helpful. Be helpful.

My Seventh Golden Rule: Always Get at Least One New Piece of Information.

The call is just one part of an overall lead generation program. It is important to build your company's knowledge about the prospect. You should have a list of criteria that you want to eventually learn about the prospect so you can customize responses. If you need the mailing address, ask to mail something to the prospect. If you need the email address, ask to email something to the prospect. If you need the names of other people at the same company, ask to send them something.

Defining Web 2.0: People-Built Marketing

Dion Hinchcliffe wrote an excellent piece on what Web 2.0 has evolved to ... so let me add his key attributes to the article I wrote two days ago.

First off, he says that Web 2.0 is all about people. Well, that's just too high level to be useful -- everything pretty near is about people. But after this over-simplification, he gets at these five key concepts that reveal more what Web 2.0 is all about:

- The Web and all its connected devices as one global platform of reusable services and data

- Data consumption and remixing from all sources, particularly user generated data

- Continuous and seamless update of software and data, often very rapidly

- Rich and interactive user interfaces

- Architecture of participation that encourages user contribution

At the high level, yes, it is all about people but it is more specifically about people who are engaging with an online activity together ... and typically they engage by contributing content or data that adds the consumate value to the business model. User-generated content is virtually free, current, relevant, involving. The Web 2.0 businesses are discovering how to monetize user-generated content. That's my high level definition of Web 2.0.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Marketing Must Offer a New Sword

The gaming community offers an insight into value propositioning: Gamers often create avatars or game tools such as a “magic sword.” These magic swords can be sold on eBay so they have monetary value. But once everyone has a magic sword, the value of the sword drops precipitously. So it is with a marketing or branding model that has become common … we have to shift and offer a new sword or we will fall on our own swords.

Fast Tour of Web 2.0 Marketing Models

Web 2.0 businesses are fundamentally different. Web 2.0 businesses are delivering software as a service and using the Internet as a platform. A common attribute of all successful Web 2.0 businesses is that sharing control creates value for the producer.

These businesses include the biggest most well-known companies and then some new, smaller ones are springing up everyday.

Google is the leading Linux application built on top of the Internet …
eBay has 800,000 people making a living selling things
Mapquest is now the premier way to go from here to there.
Craig’sList took the classified ads from newspapers … now the #7 top site in the world with just 18 employees
Yahoo is the ultimate content aggregator
Amazon has 10 million user reviews
Del.icio.us shares bookmarks and creates an enormous community
iTunes is the new way to get your music
YouTube shares video
FlickeR public hosting of photos … can select photos that match a color wheel so they fit in with a graphic design
Wikipedia … now the ultimate version of an encyclopedia
Connotea is like a public library of science

Marketing on Blogs and Podcasts Up Dramatically

A recent analysis by PQ Media shows that 2005 advertising on user generated media (blogs, podcasts and wikis) at $20.4 million has leaped over 198% compared to 2004. A lot of this went to traditional blogs and to Web 2.0 businesses such as FlickR, MySpace, FaceBook because advertisers continue to chase the elusive 18-34 audience. Some percentage went to what I call serious B2B blogs that are fast emerging as viable business models.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mozilla Wins 10 Million Users with Free Marketing

Use Open Source to Build a Community that Markets Your Product

In the 18 months since Mozilla released its open-source Firefox browser, more than 150 million users have downloaded it.

That's a pretty good performance for a nonprofit foundation that has virtually no marketing staff. The secret behind the success is SpreadFirefox.com, a Mozilla website where users post ideas for marketing schemes and volunteers put the most popular ideas into action. Don't laugh: The site has more than 160,000 members, and Mozilla claims it has lured 10 million users away from other browsers.

This is a powerful example of how community can build business.

Marketing to Create Communities

Creating communities can drive marketing to a higher level of success.

The biggest shift caused by the Web is not the technology that people use to gain access to information. It is not even the content (although you know I am a huge believer in creating contextually relevant content). The biggest shift is one that is underway right now -- using the Internet to create communities who share common interests. It is the interactivity of the Web that is changing the landscape for what marketing can be and must be.

One way you can begin forming this community is by offering blogs built around topics that are of interest to your prospects and customers. The blog (or even a wiki) enable the back and forth communication that is essential to community development. Purposely plan your blog to encourage customer-generated content ... give them a spotlight and a moment of fame ... allow them to take ownership of your blog ... give them the resource to talk about what is important to them and for other readers to communicate with one another.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Marketing is All About Content --
The Rediscovered Marketing Resource

Putting my personal filter on what I've heard today at the eContent Conference.

Content is what brings us closer to our prospects and customers. But the content must be perceived of as valuable and the concept of what is value-added content is changing like a twisting river. Your target audience has no trouble locating content. It is everywhere. What they have trouble getting is the sense of what all the content is saying and how to make it actionable for themselves. That leads to my first big ah-ha: making intelligence of all the content is what people will pay for. As thought leaders in our various industries, we must be the people who put the puzzle together. Do it right and fame and fortune is yours.

Another eureka? Bring your prospective and current customers into the game with you. Encourage them to develop content. Do it the way FlickR did ... users post their own photos at FlickR. Other examples: MySpace, Linkedin, FaceBook and YouTube. Transfer this concept into your own marketing model.

It takes a new skill. You need to convince people to do what you want them to do and have fun while they're doing it. Content must cut through the attention deficit that plagues most of us. Help your targets to feel like valued friends instead of targets. When they share content development with you, they begin to relate with you. They make a decision to participate. How you reward them deserves careful consideration -- perhaps it is just a moment in the sun, a chance to be in the spotlight, the opportunity for fame. Your website, your eNewsletter, your corporate blog, your enterprise wiki -- all represent opportunities to bond with your customers.

Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

I am in Scottsdale at the 7th annual eContent Conference. I'm here mainly because of my conviction that content is driving marketing and we all must get better at creating and distributing content in all sorts of media if we are to be successful in the emerging world. Tim O'Reilly just finished a talk on Web.2.0. Why should we listen to him? Simple. He gets it. In fact, he was the person who coined the phrase "open source" and most recently coined the term "Web 2.0."

A big concept he spoke about is what he calls "assymetric competition."

This is when your world seems to be marching in the right direction and a new competitor comes out of left field with a completely different business model and overnight takes your business into obscurity. Think what Microsoft did to the encyclopedia business. Think how Craig's List destroyed the classified advertising business upon which most daily newspapers had feasted for years. When you have been effectively destroyed by an Internet-based business that makes money by giving stuff away free, that's when you really know what Web 2.0 means!

Office Politics Can Destroy Good Marketing

PR student Ashley has dug up a good discussion on office politics at Forward Blog. We all fight the situation. Sometimes we are even part of the situation. I keep in mind the adage that politics always trumps strategy -- always. That said, there are ways to make a bad situation better.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Marketing Principles Will Guide Us in the
Customer Communications Revolution

Customers and Technology Changing the Rules

We must stop the madness, folks.

Here's one pathway to sanity

Just as all entrepreneurial success is gained through the understanding and the following of right principles, and not rules, so too is success gained only by marketing and sales organizations which understand and follow faithfully proper principles.

In the words of Robert McKee, a rule states 'you must do it this way." A principle states 'this works, and works well - and has done so through all remembered time."

This difference is so critical that we must adhere to principles when developing marketing ideas, and not to rules.

Every artistic master gained mastery of the form of that art through a thorough understanding and a disciplined following of time proven principles. Marketing and sales organizations must also actively engage in study and apply thorough thought and persistently rigorous and disciplined practice and execution. This is the only means to gain the necessary knowledge needed to consistently win highly profitable business in today's intensively competitive world.

Why this preamble?

Because the world of marketing is changing so fast and so radically, that only principles can sustain us through the revolution.

We now live in a world where technology is expanding perhaps even faster than Moore's Law.

We cannot hold back technology's impact on marketing, on advertising, on public relations. If it is technologically possible, it will happen. Period.

AT&T cannot coerce us to pay $2.00 a minute for a transatlantic phone call when you can use Skype with computer-to-computer phone calls at $0.02 a minute. Blockbuster cannot stop NetFlix. In this world, we no longer need cable companies to send us programming. RFID is creating smart shelves that can tell monitors if you pick up a product and put it back down. The 3 billion paper coupons printed and distributed by a patchwork quilt of distribution media will fall to electronic coupons that are self-selected by consumers with very high redemption rates compared to the current 98% waste. There's 400 iPods sold every minute and along with cell phones, we are moving from mass media to slivercasting enabled by such innovations as TiVo, SqueezeBox, SlingBox and all sorts of boxes that give individuals the power to download entertainment without advertising.

Time is running out on old, unaccountable and inefficient and unwelcome advertising.

But marketing principles can carry us through the revolution -- targeting, relevance, clarity, creative ideas and cross-media consistency. What we need to do is to apply the solid principles to the targeted, addressable, personally relevant messaging and distribution over new media and embracing accountable measurement. It will be an exciting future.

Google Earth -- A Virtual Map Marketing Machine

Well, if you have not yet already gone to Google Earth or its counterparts on other search engines, you probably will be doing it soon. The Today Show just did a story on it and that puts Earth in a much higher level of visibility.

Katie Curic showed how a real estate agent is using Google Earth to zoom in from a far off view of the earth spinning on its axis to a closeup, 3-D view of a neighborhood in Chicago where she is "showing" a home for sale to a client sitting with her -- in her office, far from the home site. She, of course, also discussed the potential invasion of privacy that such virtual mapping services pose for all of us as the search engine cameras catch real people walking on real streets (perhaps where that person should not be, completely blowing a white lie told to his wife).

I recently used Google Earth to find our two dogs who escaped from my mother-in-law's kitchen door. A view of her house revealed a series of streets on the other side of a wooded area. I could see from the aerial view of the neighborhood that these streets were a short distance from the home "as the crow flies" (or as the doggies run). For us, it was a circuitous 4-mile drive to get to these streets. When we got there, sure enough we found Cinder and Clover.

I also use Google Earth to find offices near the Cincom Systems World Headquarters, where I work as the manager for Direct Marketing and Internet Services

But the real bonanza is for marketing managers who want to run local marketing campaigns. Sitting behind your desk you can zoom in on targeted neighborhoods and map out where you want to drop your marketing flyers or door knob hangers ... or you can easily spot potential retail partners who serve the same neighborhood ... or you can survey the natural market area for a hospital to get a visual understanding of the residents who might be patients. This tool is limited only by your imagination.

I will be checking Phoenix and Scottdale on Google Earth ... to get a feeling for the location of my hotel where I will be staying next week and getting a fix on the nearest golf courses and restaurants.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Network TV Spins Content into Multiple Media

Can Marketers Take a Cue from TV Content Producers?

MediaPost writer Cory Treffiletti has an intriguing article in which he points out that already we see that shows like "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" have emerged as cross-platform brands.

"Lost" is the best example, when we consider that the show airs on network
TV but is also available on iTunes, it's begun to spin out a series of books
featuring additional characters from the plane crash that aren't featured in the
show, and there's a magazine for those rabid fans of the show such as myself.


This clearly shows that content is more important than even the network brands that are spawning the shows. It also underlines the need for more content producers who can take a basic premise such as a TV screenplay and turn it into magazines, websites, blogs, books, newsletters. We will need to innovate new ways to monetize all this content that are acceptable to the content consumers ... but the trend is clear.

How is all this relevant to marketing?

Business organizations are also churning out content, and we should take a cue from the TV networks. How can we repurpose the content our organizations create? How can we take a sales training presentation into a whitepaper into a webinar into a newsletter into a blog into a promotional microsite into a seminar into a speaking engagement into a feature article in the business media into an appearance on The Today Show? All to grow the companies that we work for. Content in the future will be the "killer ap" that smart marketers must master.

How Many Blogs Really Matter?

Currently, 1.3 million feeds in the Bloglines database have at least one subscriber on Bloglines, one of the major RSS Aggregators ... and the one I most often use myself to track other blogs that I read regularly.

According to Jim Lanzone, Senior Vice President of Search Properties at Ask Jeeves, there are 36,000 blogs that "really matter" since they have 20+ subscribers. That means only a small percentage of blogs have enough relevant material to gather a community around them.

The thing that is generally useful from Lanzone's analysis is that subscriptions for blog feeds through Bloglines gives us a relative understanding of the blog world:

Level 1 -- 36,000 blogs that are serious enough to garner 20 subscribers.
Level 2 -- 14,363 blogs that have +50 subscribers
Level 3 -- 437 blogs that have +1,000 subscribers
Level 4 -- 60 blogs that have +5,000 subscribers
Level 5 -- only one blog with +50,000 subscribers

The lonely most popular blog? Slashdot.

Now when it comes to marketing blogs ... there are nearly 28,000 blogs that concentrate on marketing. The leading contenders tend to be focused on new job offerings ... are we all looking for new jobs? Out of a universe of 1.3 million blog feeds tracked by Bloglines, only 2484 are talking about marketing management. It seems then, to me, that marketers are missing the blog boat.

If you're curious, the blog you are now reading is among what Lanzone calls the blogs that "really matter." Thanks to all of you who subscribe to my blog via Bloglines.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Subject Line Writing for Successful Marketing

Here's a good tip for you for creating effective subject lines, and it's backed by facts.

We did an A/B test of two different subject lines for a document composition whitepaper offer:

“Why Document Composition is Mission–Critical”

It received 7 clicks. Our privacy policy got more downloads. Re-writing the subject line as a list:

"Document Composition -- 8 Principles of Success"


It received 128 downloads.

Lists always seem to outperform other types of offers. Perhaps because we are all looking for the silver bullet ... if I can just master these 8 things, I will be successful ... whereas the more strategic subhead makes it feel like heavy duty lifting. So appeal to human nature ... give them the Easy Button.

Killing Marketing Campaigns Before their Time

Anne Holland (if you don't know her, you should ... she's the brilliance behind MarketingSherpa) has a great story in this week's newsletter.

Seems she was presenting a great case study at a conference. After the talk, a gentleman introduced himself to her as the manager of the project she had just raved about. Then comes the sad part of the story ... the project that worked so well was cancelled. Not because it failed to get results but because the CEO just didn't like it.

My last post was about how politics trumps strategy, everytime.

We all experience it. We get tired of a campaign way before the audience is tired of it.

Anne cites three reasons this happens:

#1. Boredom -- the marketing department is bored of the creative, the offer, whatever. They figure (often without any evidence) the marketplace must be bored too. Anyway, newer is always better, right?

#2. Ego/Salary justification -- a new marketer, agency, or president has come on board and they want to put their personal stamp on the campaign.

#3. Politics -- power has changed hands somewhere internally and whoever now has it wants to pull a few strings or make changes for pet projects/pet peeves, regardless of how it affects marketing results.

If you yourself are guilty of this ... smack yourself alongside the head.

If others are doing it to your programs ... stop and figure out how to win the murderers over to your way of thinking instead of rolling over. Make the facts work for you.

The Elevator Speech

Nick Rice posted a link to my site, so curiosity got me and I went to his blog: Strategic Design. It's a good one and worth you taking a view.

I liked his very simple approach to writing an elevator speech. We all struggle with this one. Most marketing writers craft elevator speeches as written documents instead of intentional conversation. Nick's approach pushes you into something that feels easier to say when you are talking with someone who wants to know what your company does.

His approach ... fill in the blanks in the sentence below:

You know how some (target audience) experience (problem), which means that (outcome of problem)? Well, what we can do is (solution); and the benefit of that is (benefit). Would you like to know more?

Segmentation Marketing Begins with Customer

We all like to cut up the market based on criteria that are important to us. Most of us can't help ourselves. We look at the world from our own perspective. We have it all figured out. We know what our customers want because we know what we want. Only one problem: Too often we are wrong. The result: we segment the market incorrectly. Well, maybe not incorrectly ... but we sure can sub-optimize the opportunity.

Inward thinking blinds us to what is really important. This prevents us from seeing nuances that can make segmentation work for us better. We need a dose of humility. A dose of facts will help, too. What segments will enable us to market more effectively? Start with fewer segments and learn which ones hold greatest opportunity ... then subdivide them further. What are your early adopters like and how are they different from late adopters? How are multi-product customers different from single-product customers? What are senior executives looking for that staff may not see as significant? Segmenting should yield vital new thinking that can make you a more effective solutions marketer.

Look for the nuances and emotions instead of the blatantly obvious factors. Search for the otherwise invisible and then you may well have a competitive pitch to mine a segment.

Marketing Challenge ... Win Ten Grand

O’Keeffe & Company is running the “Tech PR Idol Challenge.” Contestants will be presented with a sample business/marketing challenge, and will write a public relations plan to address the challenge. Finalists will present and defend their plan to a panel of public relations executives. The winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000. Open to college seniors through senior executives, the submission will be judged on criteria including: Strategy, creativity, logic and format, and thoroughness. Submissions are due on or before 5:00 p.m. EST, May 8, 2006. Details and entry forms are available on their website.

Marketing Getting Smarter About Analytics

I think it's really good news!

There's nothing like facts to override opinions.

Nearly 90% of respondents plan on using more Web analytics tools in 2006. This according to Forrester's Customer Experience Peer Research Panel.

It seems that marketers are finally starting to realize there's gold in those click streams and shopping carts. There are plenty of great tools, even free ones. We use Webtrends and it gives us visibility into what our customers are reading (and not reading) ... analytics has been at the base of our last two website overhauls.

A key observation is that everytime we place what I call "early stage content" on the site, it gets good traction. Early stage content is stuff we write about customer pains and issues rather than about our products. Prospects who are in the early stage of investigating software solutions want to get a better handle on the problems. Once they are confident of their position, they move up the buying cycle and start looking at product content. So our next web improvement that we are now working on is focused on content useful to early stage prospects.

Value Based Prospect Relationship Marketing

If you want a Prospect Relationship Marketing program to work, first step is to envision the win. Then backtrack through your organization and map all the steps and people who touch the that win that you can so clearly see. Everyone in that stream is either a propellent or a detractor. Politics will weigh heavily and unless you are very strong willed in developing a PRM process, get ready for disappointment ... in most organizations politics trumps strategy, everytime.

So evaluate that stream of people touching your PRM and determine where politics is most likely to sink the system. Then work on overcoming this internal drag by getting more people on board. Isolate the doomsayers and foot draggers. Work on them to figure out what their motives are and then help them see where the PRM will actually help them win.

A PRM program needs a voice at the C-level. It needs a core team to work through the issues from a variety of viewpoints. This team should then be empowered to transform the company so it is focused around bringing in more "new name" accounts (don't forget to maintain a high focus on current customers while you concentrate on growing new accounts).

Determine the metrics that will indicate the process is working or not working. Put the various metrics into a top-down scale, the most important measures at the top of the list.

Look outside for best practices ... but don't force these into your organization. Your company is unique and what works for someone else likely must be altered to fit your situation.

Do your homework. Talk to enough people who are in your prospect class so that you know what it is that they value most. This input should not be limited to things you discover during sales calls -- a sales call is a negotiatory process and you won't always hear the truth from the prospect. Get real and objective input.

Then look back at the stream of people and steps in your existing prospect development process and improve it so that it delivers value at each step. Stay focused on how you can deliver true and appreciated value to each prospect, at each stage of their buying process.

Just these few simple steps will vastly improve your Prospect Relationship Marketing Program. Best of luck!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Blind Luck Contextual Marketing


On the one hand, I commend Chevrolet for running ads where the message is somewhat relevant to the target audience.

Chevy Tahoe has been running two print ads in the wedding and travel sections of several daily newspapers. Presumably, they want to sell a Tahoe to newly weds ... the ad copy tells a story of a newly wed couple who found each other not by using a Computerized Dating Service but who fell in love over a mutual interest in Active Fuel Management. The wedded couple of course took their honeymoon in a Tahoe and we learn how the Tahoe makes life easy for the couple. Pretty funny stuf. The ads ran in the Seattle Post-Times, Modesto Bee, Sacramento Bee, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Daily News, New York Post, Philadelphia Inquirerand Houston Chronicle, to name a few.

It is in the end a rather clumsy approach to focus a mass medium with a niche message. This could have been so much more effective if they used direct mail to place the Tahoe story in the hands of newly weds, put flyers at tuxedo rental shops and with wedding photographers ... and tied it in with a sweepstakes to win a new Tahoe or a first anniversary vacation.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Google Pontiac" -- GM Marketing
Promotes Online Search

Look out J.D. Power, there's a new kid on the block.

Television ads often generate increased Internet search activity by increasing brand awareness or sparking curiosity. But a recent GM Television spot issignificant because it ends with an unusual call to action and a visual of an actual Google screenshot with Pontiac typed in the search box.


"Don't take our word for it, Google 'Pontiac' to find out!"
It's perhaps the most open attempt by a marketer to leverage TV with search marketing.

Another implication according to MediaPost is that GM marketing recognizes the tremendous authority and trust consumers have in the Google brand.

It's almost as if Google is moving into the territory of J.D. Power & Associates as the barometer-of-choice for customer satisfaction.

GM sales and marketing chief Mark LaNeve said in a recent Business Week article by David Kiley: "We're touting Google, frankly, because it stands for credibility and consumer empowerment, and we like the association." We don't exactly how many car shoppers turn to Google versus J.D. Power, or even Consumer Reports, but this will be an important trend to watch.

GM is acknowledging that consumers do their investigation online before they go to the showroom and take the bold step of encouraging and educating car shoppers to supplement their car research with Internet search.

You can see the commercial at YouTube.

Contextual Online Ad Rates Stabilizing

More and more advertising money enters the search arena every day.

With the increase in advertising, the most recent edition of Fathom Online Keyword Price Index indicates that overall prices in the online keyword auction have stabilized, helped by increases in the inventory of keywords and phrases. The report found that in December 2005 KPI averages eased, dropping two percent to $1.43 from $1.46 in November. In Q4 2005, the overall average price of keywords stayed virtually flat ending one cent lower from the September KPI of $1.44.

Prices since December 2004 have dropped 16% from a high of $1.70.

The market for contextually relevant marketing messages will grow because it brings efficiency, despite a rampant issue with click fraud. Some reports indicate click fraud might represent as much as 40% of all clicks.

Marketing Should Promote Values
Over Features, Benefits and Price

Gaining a better understanding of the “other person” is now one of the essential tasks of marketing. Yes, you might respond, this has been true forever. Nothing new in this demand. But there is a new emphasis on taking this knowledge to a level beyond demographic segmentation. Now we have to get at the values and interests that cause individual prospects and customers to make decisions.

Traditional marketing centered on various product features and generally describing benefits to those features, and to emphasize that such features and benefits at the price quoted are a "good buy" or a "better buy" than the competitors offer. Such a marketing approach is, of course, provider focused and not prospect centered. So, it is a weak, and usually unsuccessful, form of marketing in today’s markets.

A marketing strategy built on selling features / benefits / price does not get at the value customers seek. Traditional benefits leaves the customer to sort out from competing messages those that promise to deliver value, as determined by the target.
The prospect is also asked to decide which potential provider may be the best choice without adequately without discussing the potential values offered. Such marketing is usually sub-optimized.

From my point of view marketing should present a story around the values its products uphold and deliver.

Remember how GM successfully launched the Saturn auto with scenes of assembly line workers professing how they cared about what they were building. This value story went directly at the rest of the market that was focused on features and price.

Another example is the series of S. C. Johnson commercials for products such as Windex window cleaner, Pledge furniture polish, Raid insect control, Ziploc resealable plastic bags. The commercials feature the CEO talking about their pledge to provide real value because they are “a family company.” They humanized the company and made us trust them.

Wendy’s Dave Thomas did the same with commercials showing Dave enjoying talking about his burgers.
These companies were getting at value instead of features.

Corporate blogs are a great medium to convey corporate values.

In a blog, company executives and employees can talk about what values they represent. They don’t do this by screaming out “look how trustworthy we are” or such other blatant claims. Instead, they simply present how they think … what they care about comes across in their individual stories.

Hopefully, this is what the customers and prospects for Cincom Systems (where I work) absorb when they visit our “Simplicity” blog. Many of our really smart and caring people write about simplifying business complexity and growing business faster. By sharing their insights freely they provide readers with a huge value without asking for anything in return.

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