Wednesday, April 15, 2009

sink or miss the boat?

Choosing marketing strategies is a tough call -- especially entry level activities. For instance, the pioneers who advertised in TV made decisions that changed the way they did business. We hear of the successes...
Like Kellogg's whose story is popping up all over the place right now. They increased their advertising dollars during the 30's and experienced exponential growth. ... but what about the thousands of companies that went bankrupt?
Revenue growth is a complex art...
Academics Peter Dickson and Joseph Giglierano suggest businesses are concerned about two kinds of failure:
“sinking the boat”: making a bad decision at a key time that sinks the company.
“missing the boat”: simply ignoring opportunity or taking too long to adopt.
When is the right time to make a bold business decision: Kraft launched Miracle Whip in 1933. Hardly the right time considering the economic climate.
Ford launched the Edsel in the 50's -- at the height of commercial success. Thousands of case studies have focused on the stunning failure of the Edsel -- the wrong car at the wrong time.
Audience affinity for your product -- whether an actual physical product, service or compassionate opportunity -- is critical.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Web 2.0

I think this means the new environment of social networks... but I've always been slightly suspect of these kind of terms. I believe I can safely say that I have never asked a client what their web 2.0 strategy was (but I'm flexible).
But I read about it all the time.
Social networks, blogs, micro-blogs, SMS, forums, chats.... and the list of on-line opportunities goes on.
We have so many ways of engaging technology.
But are these rabbit trails leading away from our core strategy?
I'm going out on a limb here and suggesting that the key to web 2.0 is not understanding web -- but understanding your customers, your product and your business proposition.
I have a new stove. it has about 23 buttons on the front. Some of them I get... like "light" and "bake." But the Sabbath Delay feature? Not so much. I have figured out how to put food in the morning and have it bake miraculously when I am at work -- but I have to follow 2 pages of instructions.
My point?
I am vastly underusing my stove.
I would argue that many companies are vastly underusing technology or using random features without developing a measurable strategy.
There are some barriers to using it well:
1. Using multiple aspects of digital communication is time consuming.
2. Multiple channels without strong focus fragments your message.
3. Lack of a clear understanding of overall marketing goals, making it difficult to set tracking parameters.
4. Too much information muddying the waters and distracting from core goals.
So we're mid-stream in web 2.0 (whatever that means).... how has it changed the way we do business?

Monday, April 13, 2009


Cynthia Edwards, copywriter at Razorfish Global Email Solutions group had some interesting insights into retail ecommunication from non-profit sites.
She points out that retailers may be missing opportunities that non-profits have already figured out.
Many charities have developed great engagement tools online - especially for information because transferring information on-line is inexpensive (especially if your on-line tools are well-developed), timely and engaging.
Engaging donors early -- World Wildlife Fund does this really well -- and keeping the information up-to-date and interesting helps build long term relationships.
World Vision, well known for aggressive marketing strategies, is good about welcome messages, thank yous and quick notes in response to donor's emails. They excel in communicating their core message -- especially in early interactions.
Use moments of interactions wisely, building relationship -- not just passing through information. There's nothing as impersonal as a "personalized" form eletter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

all that glitters is not gold

Just received this announcement: "Finding the gold in on-line fund raising."
Is there growth in on-line?
Is there opportunity in on-line?
But don't get fooled into thinking that you can leave your fund raising or marketing brain behind in the quest for gold -- you'll be disappointed.
Stick to the basics... even on-line:
1. Brand differentiation: make sure your brand messages are strong, consistent and resonate with your customer/donor.
2. Product and pricing: understand that you have a product and it can be named. This is easy for organizations and companies that produce stuff (cars, widgets, food, houses...) but for companies and organizations that sell services and social services, it becomes more complex.
3. On top of selling a product, you sell value (that's called brand). This value sets you apart.
4. Speak clearly, directly and identify any action clients, customers or donors need to take.
5. Resist the temptation to use your web site for organizational natter -- the full web site needs to be written in client/customer/donor focused language.
The future is in digital applications. Mobile, web, social media -- the lines will continue to blur until we live in a ubiquitous smart phone. But principals of marketing and relationship building don't evaporate with a change of venue.
Remember.... all that glitters is not gold.

Friday, April 3, 2009

8 tracks vs the i-pod

Successful communication means understanding the core values of your audience. Sometimes, when we are communicating to people who are in a same demographic that expresses their core values in ways divergent to our paradigm we run the risk of misunderstanding their core values.
Gen Y, people who Between 14 years old and 32, (or there abouts)are a unique generation.... well, maybe not as different as we thought, it turns out. According to Dr. Jennifer Deal they score the same on career engagement, have no trouble focusing on a task for more than 10 minutes and have similar on-line capacities as their older siblings and parents.
They do, though, have a different perspective on how they engage in their world. The Wall Street Journal's research suggests that 50% of university and college graduates consider self-employment more secure than a company job. Very likely due to the changing times: stable, traditional companies of their parents are laying off. Gall-up discovered that about 60% of high school students look forward to starting their own companies. Not that surprising either. They are better educated, encouraged to innovate and reinforced by their parents and teachers.
GenYers' tell us that their most important personal values are authenticity, altruism and community. While their core belief is in themselves, they are looking for things to believe in and support.
We have to be careful that we don't judge other generations by things we don't understand. We need to talk to them, listen to their answers and track their behaviours.
Some of the differences are cultural. I remember the six months 8 tracks were the musical medium of choice (OK, I'm very, very old). When Sweet Cherry Wine boomed from the speakers my parents were aghast. That's my job as a child, to make them aghast.
GenYer's may be using ipods, smart phones and Facebook, but don't be fooled into thinking that they do not hold similar values to past generations.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

mega trends

"Irrelevancy is where most brands linger before they die."
This is from a white paper presented by Hiebing -- a brand development agency.
Remember Eaton's.... one of Canada's top retailer plunged into irrelevancy by misunderstanding its inherent consumer brand value.
To get you thinking about brand, here are the top 8 mega trends identified in the white paper:
High-Low consumerism: consumer choice - they will spend unlikely dollars on something they believe is valuable and go economical on something they don't. It's the consumer's choice.
Individualism: in the digital economy this is even more pronounced: what I want, when I want it and in the way I want it.
Choice overload: BUT they need help in choosing, because, in today's economy and info overload -- it's just hard to choose.
Hiving: mom or dad, maybe both parents, but the family is the family and we are protecting our unit. Dad's are spending a lot more time with their kids.
Gender complexity: Men are into decorating and fashion and women are into business. Family chores are shared. Who would have thunk it.
New 20 is 30: people are pushing back on starting families and settling into careers. There are more options and 20 year olds are using them -- oh, and living at home.
Geek is Chic: Bill Gates is a fashion statement. Nerds rule. Big Bang Theory is the ultimate geek show and successful.
Retirement Defied: The 60+ generation is no longer looking to find a way to the ocean. They want to stay in the boardroom -- or at least be gainfully employed. And it's not about money.
More than ever the boomers are really afraid of growing old -- General Electric just announced a foray into health care. They're watching the mega trends.
So how does that translate into our advertising?