Friday, February 17, 2006


Blogging silence for the next week

I am taking a long-awaited vacation next week, the first time I've been away from the office and without a laptop for about three years. I'm sure I'll have plenty to blog about when I'm back. It seems my best thinking always happens when I have fewer distractions (makes sense), but also have little means to record such ideas - such as on a run or in the shower. Not sure I'll keep a notebook with me next to the pool, but we'll see...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Small acorns grow into big trees

I just love the concept behind this great post by Brand Builder. Not only does he offer great, tactical advice that we can all start using today, but he's not trying to change the world all at once. That's daunting, and never leads to action or success. Instead, he's asking that we change the world of one customer at a time.

That...we can do.

Worth a read.


Perfect products, no research costs

If you haven't seen it already, check out Video Bomb. User-generated content and user-driven preferences creates the ultimate targeted user experience.

How many companies and brands spend millions of dollars trying to figure out exactly what consumers want? And along walks a series of Web 2.0 services that give consumers 100% control over what content they see, resulting in a service that's completely targeted.

In all seriousness, there's some pretty funny stuff here. Check out the top-rated videos on the right-hand side.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Staying focused

It's a simple question, but so important. Every day we have a thousand things to do. Fire drills, distractions, way too many priorities. But staying focused on the 1-2 most important things will almost always move you ahead faster than the many little things that often feel easier to accomplish.

Happy Friday!

(Thanks, Brand Autopsy.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Building blocks for effective loyalty marketing

I've been thinking a lot lately about loyalty marketing, and what makes for a successful loyalty marketing strategy. I think a lot of it boils down to product & customer insight.

You can’t have loyal customers without a great product. If your product doesn’t connect with your target customers, the best loyalty campaigns in the world won’t be able to make the same kind of emotional connection.

Great marketing makes great products look even better, attract more customers, establish more wallet and mindshare. Your marketing should serve to communicate a brand promise that your product was built to fulfill. Great marketing can’t save bad products.

And if you already have a great product, that means you’ve somehow managed to understand and react to a core customer need or desire. It means you’ve done your homework, you understand your customers better than they do, you know where the puck will be before it gets there. This isn’t just about asking prospective customers what they want. It’s understanding what they need and want – both today and tomorrow. There’s a big difference.

Good brands and companies are marketing-centric, in that the above two vital elements (good product and customer insight) don’t emerge independently from a product development and research team. The marketing plan starts with the consumer, then the product, then the marketing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


It's about the customer, not the channel

I’m writing this from about 34,000 feet above Iowa, heading back to Seattle from the iMedia Brand Summit in Florida. As usual, it was a fantastic conference. You can read more about what happened and what was said here, including a Q&A from a familiar round head.

I wanted to comment on a phrase I heard a few times throughout the conference, particularly by those promoting the mobile marketing opportunity. Mobile marketing, for the blissfully uninitiated, is the use of handheld and otherwise mobile channels for marketing – things like cell phones, Blackberry’s, PDAs, even iPods. The phrase used so often this past week was “triple play”, meant to represent 1) traditional media (TV, radio, print, outdoor, etc.), 2) online media (primarily the Internet and email), and 3) mobile media (defined above).

I get the definition, but still believe strongly that we’re doing ourselves and consumers a disservice when we define our marketing strategies based on channels. Twenty years ago, there was no true Internet. Ten years ago, I guess, we started making double plays. Now, we’re into triple plays. So what happens when a fourth significant marketing channel develops? Is that a quadruple play? (How many blades does that razor have, exactly?)

Smart brands and smart marketers know that a channel-based marketing focus misses the mark. Marketing doesn’t start with channels, it starts with a customer. It starts with his needs, her desires, his and her daily lives and how we are making it better, easier.

Yes, we are likely trying to reach them through some type of channel marketing strategy. But don’t think for a minute that consumers break their daily media consumption habits into channels. They don’t think in terms of “now is my 20 minutes of online channel time, then I’ll pay attention to my offline channels, then I’ll be on my cell phone. Hey, that’s a triple play!”

If the phrase “triple play” helps more marketers discover mobile devices as another means of reaching an increasingly decentralized consumer, that’s fine. But let’s not forget that people make purchase decisions much the same way as they always have. Based on need, emotional connection, relevance, instinct and impulse. These drivers transcend channels.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I want funny with my football

I lost at least twice yesterday. My Seahawks didn't play the way that got them this far, and lost to a superior and deserving Steelers team. I lost a full $6 dollars in the marketer's points pool here at the iMedia Brand Summit. And to make it all worse, I somehow ended up coming home with a Terrible Towel.

As expected, the large screening room from which we watched the game last night got decidedly quieter during the commercials. And although I didn't see any all-time greats, there was some great work that got the audience buzzing. As it has for years now, humor got the best response.

Bud Light ads could be counted on for a good laugh. Fed Ex, although a bit violent, was also a hit. CareerBuilder knows that chimps are always funny after a few beers. And did anybody else see the "Girls Jumping on Trampolines" analogy in the Whopperette's spot from Burger King?

The spots that seemed to go flat were those that, though well produced, seemed to take themselves a little too seriously. Cadillac, for instance, took way too long to deliver a message, and was way too serious for an audience already into the game and well into their drinking. The Ford Hybrid spot was good, but a little sappy. And I agree with Bob Garfield, the Toyota spot was a little insulting.

There were some well-executed spots that didn't go for humor. Dove, for example generated a lot of pre-game buzz with a great spot about natural beauty. The ESPN Mobile spot wasn't meant to be funny, but was perfect for their target audience of sports fans (and the cinematography, all shot without special effects, was also impressive).

But when I watch the Super Bowl, I'm in the mood for fun. I want to laugh. There's a place for serious, and there's a place for a belly-connection with customers. The Super Bowl is for proving you have a sense of humor.

It's one of the last truly mass-market opportunities left on television. And given the context of the event, and how people watch it, advertisers (and their agencies) are best served by serving funny with my football.

If you missed any (or, gasp, all) of the game yesterday, click here to review the ads.

Friday, February 03, 2006


How would you spend $3 million this Sunday?

Can't wait for Sunday. Should be a great matchup of commercials. I mean, football. Well, both really...

I'll be watching from the iMedia Brand Summit in Florida, where almost 500 marketers will be watching together in a ballroom equipped with several big-screen TVs. Should be interesting, my guess is that most folks will talk through the game, but go silent during the commercials.

Speaking of the commercials, one of my favorite Super Sunday ads from the past several years is still Terry Tate, Office Linebacker from Reebok.

See this and other classic Super Bowl ads here...

Go Seahawks!

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Setting the mood...

Good story in Newsweek about the critical role of music in helping to market TV shows.

But it's not just TV shows, is it? The music playing at your favorite story in the mall helps "set the mood" for buying more shirts and skirts. Music at the supermarket is nice and slow, to help you walk more slowly through the aisles and buy more groceries.

And it's not just music. Numerous environmental factors influence how people perceive your products, your business and your brands - both online and offline.

How are you creating an environment that's more conducive to customer action? That's consistent with your brand image? That reinforces your core brand message and promise?

Also, Great sidebar video story as well on John Williams re-scoring the NBC News theme music. I love John Williams' stuff, and am glad I finally found somewhere to download a copy of the "Meet the Press" theme music. Inspiring!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Death by risk-aversion

Don't be afraid to take risks. That's very often easier said than done, especially when you're working with established and successful businesses and brands that were built based on tried-and-true practices.

But the world changes. Your customers change. Your competitors change (or new competitors emerge). If you're sticking with what's always worked, from a product or a marketing sense, you'll soon find yourself behind the curve (and likely behind your competitors).

Fighting risk aversion can be one of the biggest challenges for any company, big or small. It can also be frightening for an individual swimming upstream against the norm.

But it's a fight worth fighting. Take strength from and leverage with colleagues the success of others who have successfully fought risk aversion, and hence have introduced breakthrough products or marketing ideas that previously had been though to be crazy.


Thousands of little Circuits...

I've spoken recently with marketing executives and agencies who can't see that press and blogs are basically the same. Yes, your contact who writes for the Circuits section of the New York Times probably has a higher readership than most blogs. But that's an extreme example, and ignores the fact that for every Circuits section there are literally hundreds of well-written blogs out there with good readership.

Are you taking blogs seriously? Are you regularly monitoring what is said about your company, your brands, your executives on other blogs? When you or your PR agency publishes a set of coverage for a product launch, or for your brand during a period of time, do they include blog coverage as well?

To many old-school marketing and PR types, blogs are still mysterious and still scary. But they need not be either. Treat them as another of the growing voices available to publishers (professional and citizen) and to media consumers who are actively listening to commentary about your brands. Then figure out how you can reactively and proactively harness this powerful new channel to your advantage.

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