Friday, November 14, 2008

Marketing Musings: This App is Stirred, Not Shaken

Just below I posted about Oakley’s branded surf info application for the iPhone – functional, valuable, interesting, and entertaining – all of which make it a must have branded utility for the target market.

The Quantum of Solace app on the other hand, is nothing more than some widely available movie info crammed into a simple application which has about 1.5 minutes of value to a fan. It is not viral, it is not useful, especially if you already know the plot or have seen the trailer.

What they could have done is a James Bond almanac, or a scene locator that takes you to all the real world places in the movie, or a weapon guide from every James Bond film, or any other insider content that core fans would love, and rave about. Work hard to make your marketing an interesting utility, or don’t do it at all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Marketing Musings: A New Take on the Prescription Pad: Marketing as Utility

Mass marketing still works for awareness, IF you have enough money. Obama’s 30 minute infomercial the week before the election cost in excess of $5 million, just for the airtime. If like most businesses, your market is a lot smaller than that, you need to reach out and engage this audience and “utilities” are a great way to do this. Nothing magical here, drug companies have been handing out pens and prescription pads for decades. The question is, how are you putting tools (functional, educational or entertaining) in your customer’s hands so they reach out and touch you everyday?

Oakley just released a very cool iPhone application. They are probably paying Surfline for content and offering it to surfers free. Brilliant. Simple. It is like having a billboard in front of the surf community as they check the waves from the shore, only it is interactive, you can put a new billboard up whenever you feel like it and be sure that it will be relevant to 100% of the audience.

Marketing Musings: The Marketer's Attitude

Re-posted from Seth Godin's Blog:

Traditional job requirements: show up, sober. Listen to the boss, lift heavy objects.Here's what I

I'd want if I were hiring a marketer:You're relentlessly positive. You can visualize complex projects and imagine alternative possible outcomes. It's one thing to talk about thinking outside the box, it's quite another to have a long history of doing it successfully. You can ride a unicycle, or can read ancient Greek.

Show me that you've taken on and completed audacious projects, and run them as the lead, not as a hanger on. I'm interested in whether you've become the best in the world at something, and completely unimpressed that you are good at following instructions (playing Little League baseball is worth far less than organizing a non-profit organization).

You have charisma in that you easily engage with strangers and actually enjoy selling ideas to others. You are comfortable with ambiguity, and rarely ask for detail or permission. Test, measure, repeat and go work just fine for you.You like to tell stories and you're good at it.

You're good at listening to stories, and using them to change your mind.I'd prefer to hire someone who is largely self-motivated, who finds satisfaction in reaching self-imposed goals, and is willing to regularly raise the bar on those goals.

You're intellectually restless. You care enough about new ideas to read plenty of blogs and books, and you're curious enough about your own ideas that you blog or publish your thoughts for others to react to.

You're an engaging writer and speaker and you can demonstrate how the right visuals can change your story. And you understand that the system is intertwined, that your actions have side effects and you not only care about them but work to make those side effects good ones.The cool thing about this list is that it's not dependent on what you were born with or who you know. Or how much you can lift.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Marketing Musings: Putting Yourself Out of Business

Every business shifts over time. The landscape changes, business models come and go and people do the same. The same is true for the tactics and relationships that used to be effective; they too must change or in effect, become less effective. The net result if you fail to keep pace? You don’t sound “on your game” when questioned about the best strategy for this moment in time.

There is a tried and true method to avoid this – constantly attempt to put yourself out of business. As you innovate and test and try new things you will come across new business models, new industry contacts and new perspectives on the long term.

Guess what? These are the things your prospect wants to hear about tomorrow.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Marketing Musings: A Paradigm Shift We Can All Learn From

This month Fast Company profiles the endorsement by Sierra Club (America’s oldest environmental org.) of the new Clorox (a big and historically non-green company!) brand, Green Works.

I haven’t looked into the products yet to understand the authenticity behind all of this. Clearly many loyal members are up in arms about an association with a big, bad brand name like Clorox. What did strike me is a quote from the Sierra Club CEO, Carl Pope.

He said he’d been “…pushing for a shift in mind-set…from a mandate to stop bad things…to one about making good things happen.”

Wow. Talk about opening up your mind and looking at a challenge in a new way. It struck me that many trade union leaders, had they been able to make such a shift, may be far more relevant in today’s labor market.

The full article is here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marketing Musings: Those Crazy Olympics Commercials...

Any votes for the worst commercials so far? For a few days Subway were in the lead position with this me too QSR gaming effort – if you are going to do it, don’t spend $50 bucks on the production. It is so amateur for a company with a multibillion dollar turnover.

As a quick aside, many Subway stores are introducing frozen pizza which is blasted in a high powered convection oven. No word yet on how these fit into the signature tag line, Eat Fresh…

Luckily for Subway GE has come through with an even more ridiculous production that this time, did not lack money, just imagination (which ironically forms part of their logo on many occasions.) Global warming and the energy crisis are two of the most visible issues facing humanity. Pulling from an Al Gore presentation or educating the public on wind and its viability was the way to go. Nope – the Olympics should be light hearted so let’s create an association between the first Olympics and our modern product, and make it really funny (which is course it isn’t) seemed to be the order from above.

Result = lost opportunity, waste of money and I suspect I am the only one talking about GE or the wind towers.

What else am I missing?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Marketing Musings: Why Do Rabid Fans Wear Lycra?

Have you ever noticed what rabid fans semi-serious cyclists are? Seriously, many look like they just finished a stage in the in Tour de France and its well accepted. What’s weird is you don’t see the same dedication to purity in other sports.

When was the last time you saw someone dressed in full football or baseball kit heading for a casual weekend game? I am not sure what it is but if I were in charge of apparel licensing for other sports I’d be trying to work it out!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marketing Musings: Treat Receipts

Starbucks are running a sales promotion which is not something I've seen them do before. It’s pretty smart; I guess they know people only come in once a day for a $5 Frappacino. It looks like they also know these people don’t have $10, but maybe they have $7? Will be interesting to see the results.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Random Quotes - Head for the Hills

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

T.S. Eliot

Marketing Musings: Practice What You Preach

If you are running a seminar or other event the very least you can do is remove people from your marketing list that have already registered. Getting emails saying “Hurry act now before all the seats are gone” when you have already booked and paid can be fairly weird the first time (did my booking go through?) but by the fifth email, you realize this company you are going to lean from just has no logic at all in their marketing system – you might even think about asking for your money back.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Marketing Musings: How to Annoy Your Customers

Anyone remember DVD region coding? It’s the annoying, consumer unfriendly technology that entertainment companies put in place as DVD’s proliferated. Its only purpose: stop people sharing digital media throughout the world.

This week a friend in Australia sent me a DVD with documentary he thought I’d find interesting. He paid for it, and put it in the mail. Sadly it wouldn’t play in the US thanks to the region coding which really highlighted for me how flawed these attempts at control really are. First of all they annoy consumers and secondly, they create a black market for the products. Why wouldn’t I now jump not some file sharing service to see the documentary? Because I might get sued. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

DRM sucks, is consumer unfriendly and fast looking like stupidity for any company that still considers it a viable way to control their business.

Marketing Musings: Victory in Greek

I heard Dan Weiden of Weiden + Kennedy talking about Nike and their advertising in 2008 (and beyond.) He made the comment that things have not changed that much for Nike and that Nike were still “…instilling aspirations rather than catering to consumer desires.”

Seems backward in this day of “consumer in control” but the company has never been more successful. Much of their digital work has gone to AKQA and R/GA over the years and they’ve generated some fantastic multi-channel campaigns and services. Many of these have kept Nike at the front of the pack but all this had me wondering if it is even possible to build a global brand around products today?

Is it too expensive? Do you have to run 250 digital services in parallel, each reaching different niches? How many staff does that require versus the staff required to build amazing 30 second TV spots in the ‘90’s? Nike has authenticity which is the critical building block for any sustainable business. I’d love a crystal ball to see what their marketing will look like in 2015.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Marketing Musings: Publishers Must Rebuild or Perish

I saw a good post from Barry Chu recently that outlines the modern advertising value chain and zeroes in on why Google and Facebook will continue to dominate. The post covers a topic near and dear to my heart – making sense of the marketing ecosystem. I agreed with most of what Barry said but one area could do with expansion – that is, the whole concept of what it means to be a publisher in 2008. Guns and Ammo magazine is used as an example but let’s face it, any attempt to aggregate an audience around a topic that is collated and edited and pushed to an audience is more or less finished, especially in terms of advertising dollars.

Everything “publishers” build going forward needs to be consumer driven, or initiated, or pulled. Barry hinted at this when he spoke of enhancing the knowledge around “intent” of a consumer. I believe in this to an extent but ultimately I think services need to be architected this way from the start. Publishers who lack this knowledge of intent need to rebuild a service the new way then kill off their old offering, not tweak the old version.

So my test for a modern “publisher” is:
  1. Does the service put the user in charge of the interaction, on their terms?
  2. Is a value exchange with the user inherent in the service?
  3. When customers are using the service, does the publisher absolutely understand the intention of their attention?
  4. As a result of the service, does the publisher learn more about the customer (i.e if they sell them a ring tone or article covering global warming, they really don’t. The point is, such a transaction is not a value exchange and the publisher can’t claim this consumer is a targetable entity going forward.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Marketing Musings: Things to Know About Marketing

Seth Godin just re-published his list of things “he knows for sure” about marketing…my 9 favorites are:

  1. Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.
  2. Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.
  3. Products that are remarkable get talked about.
  4. Marketing is the way your people answer the phone, the typesetting on your bills and your returns policy.
  5. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want.
  6. Traditional ways of interrupting consumers (TV ads, trade show booths, junk mail) are losing their cost-effectiveness. At the same time, new ways of spreading ideas (blogs, permission-based RSS information, consumer fan clubs) are quickly proving how well they work.
  7. Living and breathing an authentic story is the best way to survive in an conversation-rich world.
  8. Marketing is not an emergency. It’s a planned, thoughtful exercise that started a long time ago and doesn’t end until you’re done.
  9. You can game the social media in the short run, but not for long.
Here is the full list:

Marketing Musing: Coldplay on the Future

Everyone knows that music as a business is not only in decline, but also a big mess. I saw this in Billboard Magazine and loved Chris Martin’s light hearted evaluation of the situation:

“Being on a label at the moment is like living in your grandparents’ house,” he says. “Everyone knows they need to move out, and they will eventually, but we kind of like our grandmother…”

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Marketing Musings: Avoiding the Passion Pop Gulf

This post from Seth Godin caught my eye as it captures perfectly the conundrum at Gap, the retailer that’s been struggling for years to get out of the “Gulf.”

Can you be remain authentic and ever scale say nationwide, or globally? Nike has done a good job, serving the truly dedicated through NikeID while increasing their mass market share. Are there other good examples of this?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Marketing Musings: What's the Intention of Attention?

Way back in April 07 I talked about being authentic; drawing inspiration from Naomi Klein (who ironically has a great message for marketers) I argue that without a firm commitment to solve real customer problems your marketing is reduced to attempts (often sad) at drawing attention to your products or services. Seth Godin lives and breathes this stuff and true to form, gives his thoughts and views on marketing and authenticity his own “Purple Cow” treatment – meaning he differentiates his message through his Purple Cow metaphor and rises above the noise.

Sadly, at times I still feel like a dog chasing its tail when I try to think through marketing in 2008. A few things we know for sure:
  • If you are not solving problems, if you are not authentic, you are already way behind the 8 ball.
  • You have to bake your genuine solution to real problems into your offering from day one, with all the marketing help there from the start, or else.
  • Social Internet services like Facebook, Bebo, MySpace continue to draw in more people.
  • Getting noticed on-line is not that difficult but if there is no genuine follow-through, all you have is a nice chart to frame.
  • You can still reach people via TV (Obama says you can’t expect to ever be President without the TV budget) but it is far too expensive and mass market for most business owners.
  • Other methods of advertising are flat, if not in decline, and response rates are appalling.

So where to from here, how do I stop chasing my tail and get on with business? I was at a conference last week where one of the speakers stated “ need to understand the intention of the attention.” When you think about it, this is an ultra-simple sniff test for any marketing you do from this day forward. Why is the audience attracted to this video clip or reading this email, or listening to this radio ad or chatting on-line for example?

The rush to carve off ad dollars for digital has resulted in a lot of misses – that’s to be expected in the early days but companies should not be repeating these mistakes. Let’s try to guess the intention of some popular 2008 activities:

  • Chatting on IM with friends – communicate, catch-up, laugh, cry and have fun.
  • Reading emails using Gmail - communicate, catch-up, laugh, cry and have fun.
  • Checking a YouTube video a classmate told you about – laugh, cry, learn and have fun.
  • Looking at a friend’s weekend party pics on Facebook - communicate, catch-up, laugh, cry and have fun.

The public are not listening anymore; they are doing fun things they enjoy on-line. So that’s the test: Is the intention of my audience aligning with my goals as a marketer, on-line or otherwise?

Given most of the traditional ad mediums are very hard to measure accurately, what’s a marketer to do? Go fully on-line and seek out relevant communities for your offering right? Well to complicate matters a little more, the majority of people are still off-line (i.e the real world) 18 hours a day although this is blurred by Blackberrys, iPhones, phone calls, text message and mobile web pages. Bear in mind how this might affect intention.

If your offering is not differentiated and you’re battling others in a commodity business then your only option is to outspend – the race to the bottom. As Naomi Klein asked:

…do you have a “communications problem” or a “reality problem?”

Seek out and spend, but only on those platforms and services that pass the intention test. Anything else is a waste of your hard earned money.

But I sell blenders, show me my audience?

Yes Blendtec’s audience is mass market, but their product differentiation is the star of the show in this example. They are perhaps the best example of innovation before marketing – after all, their marketing is simply turning on their machine and making a video of it.

From Inc. Magazine: “In one memorable spot, he takes an iPhone, throws it in his blender, and watches approvingly as it disappears in a puff of black smoke. The catchphrase "Yes, it blends!" then appears on the screen. Since the video series debuted on YouTube, retail sales of the company's blenders have grown fivefold, to an estimated $10 million, up from $2 million in 2006. The original run of five videos cost only $50 to produce and has been viewed more than 35 million times on YouTube.”

Steve Jobs says Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. I say, “Be an Authentic Problem Solver, and Understand the Intention of the Attention.”

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Marketing Musings: Don't Be a Wooden Waiter

Note to servers all over America. Leave me alone.

Back when tipping was actually optional hospitality staff had to work as hard as possible to maximize their income. The problem today is that tips are expected and let’s face it, most people tip almost 20% regardless of how the service actually was.

So you are going to get the 20%, all you have to do is be nice. Stay out of the way, don’t interrupt every 8 minutes – we really are OK and if the food does happen to suck, we’ll let you know. Be there when we are looking around, and make it personal. Check on our meals for sure and remember who ordered what.

While I am whining, what ever happened to leaving plates on the table until everyone has finished eating? I’ve been at more than a few places where I am the only one still eating and my friends are being offered a dessert menu.

Truth is I don’t blame you I blame the person who owns the restaurant. They should be focusing on the customer experience and stopping you (called training!) from asking canned questions that no diner every seriously answers. You know them -“are we doing OK here?” … “Sure, thanks (go away, I just lost my train of thought because of you) – sound familiar?

Starting today, throw out the very notion of what you think it means to serve and be attentive. The owner might even notice; even if she doesn’t, someone will, and you’ll be soon on your way.

Marketing Musings: Jobs on Life

Still one of the best speeches I have ever heard - life is short. Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Marketing Musings: No More Wrap Parties?

Since Facebook opened up its platform to third party developers over 16000 apps have been thrust upon the membership. A whole new industry sprang up not just in the development of the apps, but also the marketing and optimization of them, many of which are already marketing initiatives in themselves. The old advertising model ADIA (Attention Interest Desire Action) is still very much in play:

Get a Facebook user’s attention and interest, build enough desire to actually interact with your service then, have them take action, preferably in the form of inviting other friends.

What is a little crazy (as in good crazy) is just how measurable this medium has become. Many months ago I wrote that there was nowhere to hide in this new world of marketing. Everything is measurable to the nth degree and clients are increasingly understanding this, and therefore not only demanding the statistics but of course, asking why they are not higher/lower/declining/inclining etc etc.

That an electronic medium is more measurable is not exactly CNN material. What is interesting is that the entire planning/creative/production model is history. It is being replaced with a series of planning / creative/ production cycles that are constantly repeated throughout the initiative’s life. In other words, you no longer spend 6 months planning and designing a campaign which is then thrust upon the world in “set and forget” mode (with results possibly dissected a few months later); today you get what you can out there and using real time numbers you review, tweak, alter, update, enhance “on the fly” so that your actions of the past 24 hours are potentially altering your prospect’s behavior in real time.

This new world is labor intensive for the folks working on "the campaign” and certainly not news to Google advertisers – after all, they have been able to change their text based ads on the fly for years – but this “on the flyism” has infiltrated all aspects of on-line marketing and has been exposed so granularly by the massive Facebook user base and the ability to see how in real time, changes to these apps can dramatically affect your end goal.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Marketing Musings: One Extra Long Period of Silence and a Nice Coffee Please!

In case you have not seen the news, Howard Schultz is back to save Starbucks. One of the words I keep hearing him use is “romance.” When I think of coffee and romance together I get a mental image of a quite, little coffee store with an unassuming little man in a white coat serving me the perfect espresso.

I was sitting in a Starbucks the other day trying to have a quick meeting with a business colleague and the noise was almost deafening – “non-fat, extra hot double tall latte” a barista would yell followed by “Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino with a triple shot and light ice” topped off by a double rendition of “Honey Latte, light whip, extra honey with a triple shot”…..arrrrghhhhh

If Mr Schultz is hell bent on using the Burger King (have it your way!) USP as his platform for growth fine (well not really, but that is another post) – but stop talking about romance. All the shouting and pandering is as far from romance as Saw III is to Gone with the Wind.

Do you think of romance when you walk into Starbucks today?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Marketing Musings: Ticking Your Way to Millions

Back in Week 48 I talked about the power of systems and how simple checklists for each and every task in your business can help tremendously with the entire service or product delivery process. This month in Fast Company Magazine, the authors of Made to Stick highlight some amazing benefits of a simple checklist - here's an excerpt:

The holy grail of checklists may be the one created by Dr. Peter Pronovost of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Intensive-care units (ICUs) often use intravenous lines to deliver medication, and these lines can become infected, causing nasty health complications. Pronovost, frustrated by these preventable events, compiled a five-step checklist.

The checklist contained straightforward advice: Doctors should wash their hands before inserting an IV, a patient's skin should be cleaned with antiseptic at the point of insertion, and so forth. There was no new science and nothing controversial--only the results were surprising.

When Michigan ICUs put the checklist into practice over a period of 18 months, line infections were virtually eliminated, saving the hospitals an estimated $175 million, because they no longer had to treat the associated complications. Oh, and it saved about 1,500 lives.

Amazing right? Simple right? The same Dr Provonost goes on to say:

People fear checklists because they see them as dehumanizing. Maybe that's because people associate them with the exhaustive lists that let random teenagers successfully run fast-food chains. They think if something is simple enough to be broken down into discrete steps, a monkey can do it. Well, if that's true, grab a pilot's checklist, and try your luck with a 767.

Then warns:

Even if you're sold on the value, beware checklist creep. A checklist doesn't mean huge binders full of obsessive and likely counterproductive ISO 9000-style process documentation. As Pronovost says, "One mistake I've seen in health care is that people will produce these 200-page process guidelines that nobody ever reads." You're not trying to create a high-resolution photograph of the status quo. In fact, if the status quo worked perfectly, you wouldn't need a checklist, you'd need a bonus.

Checklists simply make big screwups less likely. "We wanted people to standardize on the mission-critical elements--the areas where we have the strongest evidence," Pronovost says. "And these things that are mission critical, we've got to do them every time."

Where could your business benefit from a checklist?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Marketing Musings: Apples 5-Star Retailing

Ron Johnson, the Senior VP of retail sales at Apple, recently talked to Associated Press about retail strategy. The strategy draws heavily from the workbook of luxury retail but also from other areas.

Key elements include the elimination of checkout stations which has created a less sales-oriented feeling (and counter-intuitively boosted sales), the introduction of the concierge service, and the store design, based on a library format, which aims to makes people feel like they belong.

“We try to pattern the feeling to a five-star hotel. It’s not about selling. It’s about creating a place where you belong.” — Ron Johnson

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Marketing Musings: United, It's The Service Stupid

What are United Airlines missing these days? Nah, I don’t mean seats that actually have cushioning, food that you can eat (in First Class) or flights that are not cancelled, I am talking about hospitality. The raw basics of dealing with paying customers in a way that has proven over time to attract, retain and generally delight them. Now an enterprise as large as United is always going to make mistakes and have things just go plain wrong, but the way they deal with these problems has descended to a point where it is barely recognizable as customer service.
Turning again to Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table, he gives us “Five A’s for Effectively Addressing Mistakes”. Let’s take a look:
  • Awareness – Many mistakes go unaddressed because no one is even aware they have happened. If you’re not aware, you’re nowhere.
  • Acknowledgement – “Our server had an accident, and we are going to prepare a new plate for you as quickly as possible:
  • Apology – “I am sorry this happened to you.” Alibis are not one fo the Five A’s. It is not appropriate or useful to make excuses (“We’re short staffed.”)
  • Action – “Please enjoy this for now. We’ll have your fresh order out in just a few minutes.” Say what you are going to do to make amends and follow through.
  • Additional Generosity – “Unless the mistake has something to do with slow timing, I would have my staff send out something additional…Some more serious mistakes warrant a complimentary dish or meal.

Now let’s run United “customer service” through the Five A’s:

  • Awareness – with fewer staff and an attitude of “you get what you pay for” most staff are not actively seeking to fulfill on a promise of hospitality. Doing the minimum has become the norm which means there are very few opportunities even discovered to delight customers.
  • Acknowledgement – following on from awareness, you can’t acknowledge what you don’t know about.
  • Apology – whilst canned apologies are the norm, excuses are rife. There is a reason behind everything but it is never a personal apology that customers receive.
  • Action – without any provisions, coupons for discounts on food, beverage or flights, or other “we messed up “ rewards United staff are simply not empowered to take any action. A broken seat? Sorry, there are no other spare seats and nothing else we can do for you.
  • Additional Generosity – unless it’s due to United overbooking a flight, I have not seen an act of outbound generosity in many years.
But United are still recovering from bankruptcy I hear you say…that is true and the organization itself is undergoing a massive shift. But when it is all said and done, customer service is what keeps people coming back and United need to hire a VP from Danny Meyer’s restaurant group before it’s all too late...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Marketing Musings: Setting the Table

A friend of mine just lent me a booked called Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. Danny is a successful restaurateur/entrepreneur in New York City who has been in business since the 80’s and now has over 10 highly successful hospitality businesses. What I liked best about Setting the Table was Danny’s approach to customer service – no excuses are tolerated for service that is not first class. In Week 39 I asked if it were possible to systematize employee behavior. Danny has moved on from this – the system is the culture in his group and through proper training, every employee understands what they need to do. This excerpt from the book illustrates the somewhat empowered environment and how at the same time, the business is present for every customer:

“Hospitality cannot flow from a monologue. I instruct my staff members to figure out whatever it takes to make guest feel and understand that we are in their corner. I don’t tell staff precisely what to do or say in every scenario, though I do have some pet peeves that I don’t ever want to hear in our dining rooms. I cringe when a waiter asks, “How is everything?” That’s an empty question that will get an empty response. Also, I can’t stand the use of we to mean you, as in “How are we doing so far?” I abhor the question, “Are you still working on the lamb?” If the guest has been working on the lamb, it probably wasn’t very tender or very good in the first place. And if a guest says “Thank you” for something, the waiter should not answer, “No problem.” Since when is it necessary to deny that delivering excellent service is a “problem”? A genuine “You’re welcome” is always the appropriate response.”

Setting the Table, Danny Meyer.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Marketing Musings: Is the Tipping Point Toast?

Finding your audience in this fragmented media environment driving you crazy? You just have to find influencers right? Wrong… according to an Aussie researcher now working at Yahoo. Definitely an interesting position in this “Tipping Point” focused world.

Here is an excerpt:

Gladwell's book laid out many other factors that can "tip" a trend. He described other influential types: Mavens, who love to collect information and help others make decisions, and suave Salesmen of ideas. In order to spread, an idea or product had to be "sticky," and appear in a fertile social context. But as The Tipping Point climbed the charts, marketers fixated on Gladwell's Law of the Few, his suggestion that rare, highly connected people shape the world. For anyone involved in pitchmanship, it was an electrifying notion, one that took a highly complex phenomenon--the spread of memes through society--and made it simple. Reach the gatekeepers, and you reach the world.

Marketers seized on Malcolm Gladwell's "Law of the Few," his suggestion That rare, highly connected people shape the world. But Watts, for one, didn't think the gatekeeper model was true. It certainly didn't match what he'd found studying networks. So he decided to test it in the real world by remounting the Milgram experiment on a massive scale. In 2001, Watts used a Web site to recruit about 61,000 people, then asked them to ferry messages to 18 targets worldwide. Sure enough, he found that Milgram was right: The average length of the chain was roughly six links. But when he examined these pathways, he found that "hubs"--highly connected people--weren't crucial. Sure, they existed. But only 5% of the email messages passed through one of these superconnectors. The rest of the messages moved through society in much more democratic paths, zipping from one weakly connected individual to another, until they arrived at the target.

The full Fast Company article is here.

Marketing Musings: It's the Details!

Do the details really matter? Throughout the Weekly Program I have repeated just how important attention to detail is and why you must constantly revisit, refine and communicate. But why you ask? Instinctively we all like a clean environment, courteous staff and prompt service but is that the real reason to put so much effort into the “details”?

Last night I read one of the most profound statements I have seen in years. The author is Dr Paddi Lund and the book is called “The Absolutely Critical Non-Essentials”. Paddi captures the “details” dilemma in just 18 amazing words….

“Customers judge your expertise in areas they do not understand by your excellence in areas which they do”.


You mean all this time I have been focusing ALL of my effort on being a mechanic /baker/ electrician/ accountant (the list goes on!) my customers have been judging me by the sign hanging out front, the quality of the coffee I serve them, the waiting room magazines, the oil stained carpet (this list also goes on!)?

In a word, Yep. Revisit Week 42. I’ve called it “not falling at the last hurdle” but from here out think of all these things as Critical Non-Essentials.