Reveries.com conducted a survey on the potential of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace as media for marketing activities (pdf download of survey summary results and analysis are here). The main finding seems to be that marketers are in the very early stages of truly understanding the potential of these new networks - with only 18% of the respondents calling the potential of online social networks as a medium for marketing "huge".
Other interesting tidbits from the survey include the fact that marketers see "word of mouth" as the most promising aspect of social networking sites, and that many pointed out that marketers should participate in the conversations that take place on those sites without interrupting them.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many spammers have already invaded Facebook, Myspace and other similar sites. Go check the walls of the most popular interest groups in Facebook to see for yourself - many are littered with posts that are total sales pitches or with information that is totally irrelevant to the group's conversation.
The latest issue of the Harvard Business Review has an article on how to calculate the value of customer referrals (article not online yet).
They conducted two studies - one in telecom and one in financial services. Some interesting findings from those calculations include:
- People refer way less than they say they do
- The customer referral value is higher than the customer life-cycle value
- The people with the highest customer life-cycle value are not the ones with the highest referral valueThe importance of these findings are twofold. First you need to segment your customers along the customer life-cycle value axis, but also along the customer referral value axis. That will enable you to target your incentives to groups to either increase their usage or increase their referrals, or both. Second, this research shows that customers will low customer life-cycle value can in fact have a higher value to your company through referral value than those with high customer life-cycle value.
"Too many times business owners seem to be satisfied spending their careers as managers rather than leaders. When you see real leadership in action, you're left in awe. Real leaders are active, engaged and motivating. They create an atmosphere that's electric - both fun and productive."
What should Steve do? Well, for starters, give up on trying to control everything. It's only going to keep hurting Apple, more and more, to control content and hardware and software. It's going to make them into the kind of mega-monopoly that we always, ALWAYS end up hating. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 100% of the time.
Apple should license FairPlay, or allow iPods to play PlaysForSure (ha! I love that doublespeak) music. Either one. Basically, Apple should allow other music stores to sell DRM'ed music that works on iPods and iPhones.
Why? It's simple -- then Apple could tell record companies "go fug yourself" if they don't like Apple's terms, but Apple would still have a full range of music to play on its iPods. Remember, Apple makes all its money selling the hardware, not the songs. All Apple needs to do is to make sure there is a broad range of content available for iPods, it doesn't have to sell all that content itself.
And, in fact, it hurts Apple to sell all the content itself, because it makes Apple a focus for battles between the record industry and consumers. If there were a range of stores selling iPod-compatible music, with a range of different DRM rights, then the market could decide what terms it liked best.
The iTunes store could be the white knight -- it would only sign deals with record companies willing to "give" consumers the same rights they've had for years with CDs; eg, we can do whatever we want with our music as long as we don't broadcast it or give it to others. Other music stores could sell restrictive DRM'ed music, and, well, if the record companies are right, people would go to those other stores, and we consumers would all get what we deserve.
Back in the Mad Men days, advertising agencies generally recruited out of the Ivy Leagues. Not a boon for diversity, but they did get the best people, smart, creative people who were attracted to a frequently glamorous industry that offered the possibility of serious cash. Ask any (very) senior account guy- back in the day, b-school grads all wanted to work for the agency, not client-side. These days the situation is reversed.
We are never going to be taken seriously if we don’t change this perception. If clients regard agency employees as a bunch of second-rate talents who couldn’t land a job elsewhere, they’re not going to take our opinions very seriously. Or even entertain the idea of treating us as equals, let alone experts. And while I realize that much of this is a result of most agencies being owned by publicly traded holding companies whose business models are based on getting more value from fewer people, I’m afraid the net result is just going to be fewer people, as the value of retaining an ad agency becomes less and less apparent.
First, it would require significant risk-taking. Which would include the risk of failure and the risk of getting fired (omg!). Can you and your team handle that? If not, might as well admit it and settle for good enough. But if you're settling, don't sit around wishing for results beyond what you've been getting.
Second, it would mean that every single time you set out to be remarkable, you'd have to raise the bar and start over. It's exhausting.
Third, it means that the boss and the boss's boss are unlikely to give you much cover. Are you okay with that?
"We're Number One. Everyone else is Number Two."
Terrorist groups, like any organization, need brand identities. With so many groups claiming credit for terrorist acts, and so many videotapes being put out featuring men in ski masks, it’s hard to keep track of which group committed what violent act. So terrorist organizations have logos. It recently occurred to me that someone had to actually design those logos. But how did they decide who gets to do it? Did the job go to whichever terrorist had a copy of Adobe Illustrator?
I did some research and rounded up as many logos as I could find from terrorist groups past and present. While I hate to give terrorists any more attention, I still think it’s interesting to see the various approaches they took in their logos, and wonder what considerations went into designing them. Does the logo successfully convey the organization’s message? Is it confusingly similar to another group’s logo? Does it exhibit excessive drop shadows, gradients, or use of whatever font is the Arabic equivalent of Papyrus?
Quick Disclaimer: I picked these terrorist groups from a list of designated terrorist organizations on Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia is a user-edited website, I can’t verify who decided these groups are terrorist organizations. So if it turns out one of these groups is an actual army or a legitimate non-violent organization, don’t blame me.
For those of you whom this post might offend (after all, terrorism is one of those things that most of us may have trouble trivializing), Dave (the author of the post) offers these words:
Note:This weekend, an Al Qaeda suicide bomber killed 150 people in a market north of Baghdad. Another 250 were wounded. When this news broke, I had already begun working on this blog entry, and thinking of those victims made it hard to finish. So I just want to be clear that, although this entry focuses on a relatively trivial aspect of terror organizations, it is in no way intended to make light of terrorism. The guns, the blades, the maps of Israel, and other elements in these logos do effectively communicate with painful clarity what some of these groups intend. While my overview of terrorist logos is meant half-seriously as an examination of graphic design in a place we might not think to look, I don’t want to minimize the devastation these groups have wrought.
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Get WWNG Tuesday. Morn.
We are a small company based in Canada. We do just about everything IT: proactive work (such as network maintenance), monitoring of critical systems, emergency work (IT fixes, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), new user set-ups, procurement of hardware and software (at a discount through our top vendors), consulting work (which can be anything from upgrading all 100 of your Windows computers to Macs, or something simple like what open-source software alternatives would we recommend instead of Photoshop).
We are also offering services in a new area called Green IT. It is all about transforming the way IT is used to help cut down on energy use and waste. Solutions could include datacenters with virtualized servers, remote access of datacenters (to keep the systems in a stable environment), or sending software electronically to eliminate packaging waste. We want to get more into this area!
Small to medium sized business in our city and the surrounding areas. (Note: we do provide support to branch offices of our customers across Canada.)
We seem to attract a lot of non-profit (environment, research, health) and financial/accounting clients. I believe we aimed more for non-profits when the company was first started, both because of the President’s contacts in that sector and also because they easier to access than other businesses and they have formed a tight knit community in our city. The issue with non-profits is that, because of their tight usually government-controlled budgets, we’re in a constant struggle to get paid for our extensive work.
Our clients are typically not technically-oriented. Companies are both B2B and B2C, ranging in industry from financial and accounting services to commercial real estate, health care services, non-profits, and some retail.
We’d like to aim for businesses with younger staff that understand technology and can appreciate the need for IT, as well as the critical nature of technology services in relation to their business operations. But it has proven to be hard… which leads me to…
Biggest PR/Marketing Challenge:
We charge hourly for consulting, project hours and support time; the hourly price is lower with a contract than without a contract, where we would come out and do things on a case by case basis. It’s difficult to convince SMBs that our services are worth the amount we are charging – however, to draft a legal document, they’re more than willing to a pay a top notch lawyer $500/hour. If your IT services – your computers, your printers, your network, your data – are done incorrectly, you’re out of business. Customers view IT issues as a pain (ie. my email is down again) instead of as a critical part of their business (ie. without IT, we can’t function as a company).
Customers just don’t always understand the value of IT services.
Our monthly support contract covers just about everything “IT”. Then on top of that, say you’ve signed up for a 10 hour contract for support – we don’t just send a bill at the end of the month: we send you a full report of every single minute of work that was done for your company and what was accomplished. We log every incident and track all time and documentation within our Helpdesk. And because we’re a small company at heart (growing now; we’ve doubled our size in the past 2 years), we do give great customer service – our clients know us and they know if something goes horribly wrong with their email at 3 in the morning, they can reach us with one phone call.
Main Marketing/PR Goal:
1. Help our current clients understand why our services are worth the price tag. This may be an inherent problem in the industry (it’s known that IT is on average never properly budgeted for), but EDS and other huge IT corporations don’t seem to have a problem. We want them to see us as a partner for their business, not just an “IT repair service”.
2. Bring in clients who understand the importance of IT services already, and get them to pick us above our competitors for our value-added work.
How we would like BrandingWire to help us:
I feel like we’re too entrenched in the technology/service provider perspective to understand how our clients and potential clients really see IT. Hopefully BrandingWire can help us see our company from a purely marketing perspective. Our company is great – we just need to get that idea out there to our current clients and to those that have yet to hear about us.
"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." - John Cage
In my early days as a planner, I remember reading an article by Steve Henry (then of HHCL, now at TBWA London), where he gave his opinion on strategy and effective communication.
The words that stuck with me were "what is = what was" and this simple statement has deeply affected the way that I think about brands and communications.
If we want to cut through the 3000+ messages that the average consumer is exposed to every day, we need to stand out. We need to be different. Merely adhering to the tried and (research) tested category cues won't work.
By definition, new ideas are scary. No one has done them before, so you don't have a convenient case study. Qual research is unlikely to help, as people tend to be uncomfortable about the unfamiliar.
But this is no excuse.
Be brave, be bold and find a way to help your clients be likewise.
...which, of course, is the tricky part:
"No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future." - Ian E. Wilson
"To define is to kill; to suggest is to create" - Stéphane Mallarmé
"The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar... Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen." -Aldous Huxley
One of my favourite hobby-horses, this.
When the consumer research comes back against your brilliant, ground-breakingly original idea, remind the client that Heineken 'refreshes the parts' failed research.
As did the Dyson vacuum.
And the Aeron chair.
And the computer mouse.
And the Sony Walkman.
And the cash machine.
And Guinness 'Surfer'.
And Stella Artois 'Jacques de Florette'
If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words" -Cicero
Pretty fundamental, this one.
Get to know your customers, not just as demographic segments but as real people. Use your research budget to gain insight into their lives. Find out what makes them tick. Discover their fears, dreams and aspirations.
"Thanks for this. As discussed please can you reference the message hierarchy from the revised brief on the 'Revised brief (abridged)' chart and then explicitly spell out the roll [sic] for each media in terms of that hierarchy.
"I think that the key to the success of the plan is to ensure that we have executional alignment in terms of the creative messaging.
please can you make sure that the role of each media is explicitly referenced on the fusion brief in the same way. Thanks."
(Unknown - from an email)
"The best possible solutions come only from a combination of a rational analysis based on the nature of things, and imaginative reintegration of all the different items into a new pattern, using non-linear brain power." -Kenichi Ohmae, 'The Mind of the Strategist'
"Marketing is the art of associating products with ideas to bamboozle consumers. For example, a commercial in which a supermodel drinks piss from a thimble will lead ugly viewers to follow suit - which is good news for you because you've got a warehouse of thimbles and an endless supply of piss, and bad news for anyone who hoped the smoking ban might leave the nation's pubs smelling fresher. People in marketing often talk about the "personality" of a given product. A biscuit might be "reassuring and sensual"; a brand of shoe may exhibit "anarchic yet inquisitive" tendencies. Marketers have built their worldview on such thinking, despite it being precisely the sort of babble a madman might come up with following years alone in an isolated cottage, during which time he falls in love with a fork and decides the lightbulbs are conspiring against him. Sadly, the analogy ends here, for while madmen are rewarded with straitjackets and medication, marketers receive six-figure salaries and round-the-clock sexual favours from people 200 times prettier than the prettiest person you've ever seen, even fleetingly, even from afar or in a magazine".
(Courtesy of The Guardian)
"If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse." -Henry Ford
"People today are incredulous of marketing, institutions and the media. The only way to suspend disbelief, cut through skepticism and create trust is to act as a real human being and get to the truth. As the sages say: "Words that come from the heart can enter the heart."
"What the business world needs now is a return to the idea of amateur spirit. Now, it’s probably not the amateur spirit as you may think of it. The definition of amateur has evolved for the worse over the past few hundred years, coming to represent a dabbler or incompetent. The original spirit of amateur was a positive, noble tag to apply to someone (the Latin root for amateur is "amator," lover). An amateur pursuit was one you did for love, with a spirit of passion and authenticity. And it certainly didn't imply a lack of skill. Thomas Jefferson was an amateur writer and philosopher when he drafted the Declaration of Independence.
"Organizations - actually the people in them - must recapture this amateur spirit. Not because it is morally right, but because it's the only way to succeed in a world stunned by scandals and greed-is-good ideology. Ask yourself these simple questions: Do you want customers and employees to come to you first - and stay with you? Do you want them to recommend you to their friends and associates? Then you have to get them to do what? Trust you. And how do you go about doing that in a post-Enron economy? Certainly not by saying, "Trust me." That kind of talk immediately causes people to put up their defenses. Instead, you must get them to believe! Success today all boils down to belief. "Who should I believe? Who can I believe?" These are the critical questions. You must be believed to have any chance of success."
"Within the first few seconds of meeting you or being exposed to your communications, your audience will form an impression that is easily reinforced and unlikely to change. They’ll observe your mannerisms, voice, choice of words, etc. and judge whether you are worth listening to. To cut through their innate disbelief - and very short attention span -simply push past your comfort level and be authentic! Amazingly, that’s all there is to it. Simply take off your mask - your title, your expertise, your bureaucratic language and technical jargon - and connect with them with honest, simple, and engaging language. Be on the level. Be moved to candor. Tell them what you believe and what you think. Speak the unspoken."
"Listen to your innocent, inner voice. Be childlike. Speak in a language that is natural, open, and honest. Get rid of all of the hype and toss in a dash of self-deprecating humor. State what you feel in a candid and caring, yet unapologetic way. And never - never - hide anything. People will then believe that you are being straight with them (warts and all), and as a result, you’ll be worthy of their trust."
"Daniel Boorstin wrote: "The amateur is not afraid to do something for the first time." And that's the measure of great artists, great lovers, and great entrepreneurs (not to mention children). To say, "I don't know." To ask the hard question that is on your mind (in a soft way). To take risks. To be bold. To state what you are feeling, openly. To admit your weaknesses. To adopt this amateur spirit takes courage and demonstrates your love for - and connects you on an emotional level with - your audience. They’ll believe you. It will demonstrate your trust in them, and your desire to eliminate their fears and their concerns. And it will inspire them and engender trust because it rings true."
"No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. And it doesn't take a genius to tell the difference between someone who listens in order to get something, and someone who listens because she cares."