Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No Secrets In Marketing.

Jeffre nicely skewers a domain name seller for being so transparent in their upselling motivation that they inadvertantly announce it in their url.

This doesn't just apply to the online world of course. Everything you do is noticed somewhere by someone and, if it's noteworthy, it will be repeated. All the more reason to ensure it's noteworthy for positive reasons.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Innocent AGM.

On Saturday, I attended Innocent's first AGM. One of their founders told me that the key to success is making a good product. I, of course, agree that it's that simple (and that difficult). They also have insightful labelling.

It was nine years ago today that they sold their first smoothie. Today they sell more than 100 million. No wonder everybody talks about them.

Friday, April 25, 2008

6 Marketing Lessons From The Chat Room.

(click here to enlarge...... the picture).

Many of the key innovations of the online world have been led by the adult industry, so naturally my first reaction on seeing this image (courtesy of Marcus) was to consider the numerous marketing insights it provides.

1) Scarcity Of Attention - traditionally the scarcity has come from the potential customer, but here we see the provider rationing her attention and thus stimulating a huge pent-up demand.

2) Trading Up - traditionally it's been felt that you have to provide your customer with an enthusiastic greeting and rewarding experience in order to increase their expenditure, but here we see the indifference strategy forcing customers to the paid rooms.

3) Power Naps - human capital is your key resource in this ultra-competitive world, but here we see what happens when you don't ensure your staff are well rested. Providing sleeping facilities at the office is not the answer.

4) Free Is The New Pricing - some would have you believe that the future lies in giving away your offering and reaping the benefit via ancillary services, but here we see the provider reminding us that you really do get what you pay for.

5) Markets Are Conversations - traditionally it has been felt that conversation is two way, but here we see that in a modern one to one business model, the provision of the mechanism is enough. Guest 705 is quite happy to do it alone.

6) Visual Literacy - traditionally marketing messages were direct, unimaginative and assumed nothing of the intelligence of the customer, but here we see a provider fully confident that we will recognise this as the homage to the Comcast guy that it is.

I'm sure there are many others - feel free to add them in the comments.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Who's Your Client?

Hidden in the interview with the founder of mobile advertising network Admob was the revelation that banner ads get better click-through rates than simple text ads, but that some operators worry about them interfering with the UI and thus the user experience.

It's the age-old marketing problem. Balancing the needs of your clients against the needs of their customers. Never doubt that erring on the side of the latter is the way to go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Keeping It Real.

Speaking of the logo that artists designed for his new album, Nick Cave makes an interesting observation.

“The wires are telling you: somebody built this thing. It's the same reason we tend to use the first or second take of a song rather than the third or fourth. They may not be perfect, but they capture some sort of essence.”

Would your customers recognise your product/service as being made by someone, but not "perfected" to the point of sanitisation?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Twitter Spam.

In my usual early acquirer fashion, I started using Twitter a long time and have delighted in receiving classic tweets such as "Pardon me boy is this the Heathrow Express?", "Gazing at the ocean. Looking for a kettle", and the classic "Riding the Tube like a mofo."

The stress was very much on the ambient intimacy that Lisa Reichelt identified. The reaction was one of delight, wry amusement or an excuse to grab a coffee/beer. But now, hot on the heels of the rise of the verbose super users, we're inevitably getting the guides to corporate tweeting.

Tara produced a comprehensive one yesterday, but I fear that a lack of restraint on the part of companies who read her words will ruin the delight of Twitter and backfire on them. The technology is only the medium and any company using it cannot afford to forget that Twitter is something more than that to its users and no doubt a different thing to each of them.

The strength of Twitter is its "one to many" messaging ability, but from a marketing perspective the "many" have to want the message and even if thye agree to follow (i.e receive messages from) a company, there is an implicit level of incoming traffic that they will not tolerate. The marketing danger here is that the combination of the ease of sending the short message form and the flow/stream aesthetic of Twitter will lead to abuse of that permission. Because of the limited size of the Twitter page, such behaviours will quickly become spam of the worst kind.

The smart strategy is far less complex. I want companies to have a Twitter account where I can reach them and, to their credit, some companies are already doing that. If I have an issue with a company, I want to be able to pull a very quick reaction from them. In an age of web 2.0 information overload, I don't want to be bombarded by them with unrequested offers and items they think might amuse me.

When we market our company's products/services, we have to remember that part of the job is to to be the individual's advocate. It's all too easy to serve the company's needs and forget about the customer. By way of example, I hope that Tara forgives me for pointing out the unfortunate coincidence of events that occurred today.

No sooner had I read something in her guide that worried me

Rickrolls or other fun internet games - this shows you are a bunch of fun and has people trying to do the same for you. Spreading as many internet memes as possible is good.

than I checked my Twitter and read her tweet with which I was in total agreement.

We've all done it. The customer is not different to you and me. They are you and me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Intangible Social Objects.

Continuing my recent thought that a social object used to faciliatate interest in one's product/service doesn't actually have to be an object, I even wonder if it has to be something with which the customer directly engages at all. Maybe it could be something that happens to the customer. The advantage with this type of social object is that the business can exercise significant influence on it. Some thinking aloud follows.

Behaviour as social object - people talk about the fact that your business walks the walk and that you consitently do what you claim you do.

Etiquette as social object - people like to belong and will talk about a place, be it real or virtual, be it club, society or user group, where everyone implicitly acknowledges a certain way of doing things.

Interaction as social object - people notice when you make it easy for them to do what they want to do. They talk about it and usage spreads.

Service as social object - people talk about little else. Get it wrong or get it right, you know that people will talk about this.

In a web 2.0 world, they could otherwise be known as authenticity, community, usability and customer-centricity. The commonality here? Good old differentiation. Not the faux differentiation of much advertising, but a real distance of difference separating you from the all too often mediocre norm. There's nothing like that to get people talking.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Strangers On A Train 4.

Four advertising folk discussing their just completed pitch meeting with an insurance client. Since you weren't there, I was obliged to take notes on your behalf. Key takeaways include

"It's all guff on charts until you put it in an ad."

"Forget the offer that gets you in the door, it's all about moving the brand."

"I'm not sure why I needed to be there."

"Me too, but I guess it gives the impression of commitment."

No, they never mentioned customers. Not once.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome To The Involvement Economy.

Today, in respect of my recent post, I was told that the original concept behind the Nokia stores had been to create a "retail cathedral". While that is ironic both because of what Eric Raymond wrote and because I'd question the desirability of customer worship alone, it is undeniable that they have succeeded. They have a cathedral while the Apple store is a bazaar filled with people doing things.

The question, of course, is how could Nokia get people doing something (other than perfunctorily fiddling with inert handsets) and thereby staying longer and becoming more engaged. There are many possibilities. Perhaps customers could be helped and encouraged to customise their phones in some way. Or there could be other free services, either directly related to the phones (in the form of game or ringtone downloads) or something along the branded utility lines of perhaps a free fast recharging service or something much more left-field as with the Diesel Playhouse that Faris highlighted the other day.

I'm sure readers smarter than I could come up with many more ideas for Nokia, but, in fact, they did already try to do that. The photo above was taken on the top floor and reminded me of the fabulous Nokia-sponsoredRegent Street Christmas lights which display passer-bys were meant to be able to adjust. I deliberately say "meant to" because, even though I knew about the idea (and most foot traffic didn't have that advantage), I couldn't work out how to do it in December when I passed the site of what was to become the store. Maybe it was just my stupidity, but I couldn't become involved and I never saw anybody else do so.

And it is customer involvement that should be the aim. It's not enough to aim for experiential because that can all too easily be a passive interaction. It's arguably not even enough to aim for engagement because that has implications about on whose terms the engagement is occurring. No, what you should be aiming for are situations in which you facilitate the active involvement of your users (and potential users) in something they wish to do and through which facilitation you can enhance their opinion of you and, in an ideal world, their opinion of your product/service too.

As Peak Attention approaches, I think it's time to start thinking about the Involvement Economy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Top 5 Made-Up Words Of Web 2.0.

David Armano has been gaining a lot of traction with his tongue in cheek guide to the invented words of Web 3.0 but, in similar vein, let's not forget the invented words of Web 2.0.


It's a metaphor folks. It doesn't mean that your customers want a conversation with you. They generally want a quiet life without unwanted noise from you. They want the ability to interact with you on their terms, they want you to listen and, most crucially, they now have the ability to have a conversation about you when you screw up. Your focus should be on listening and not screwing up rather than having a conversation.


It's a bunch of people folks. As Clay Shirky has indicated, Web 2.0 means they can come together very quickly to form a group that might oppose something, but they're yet to come together to pursue a positive. Crucially, they can quickly disperse and, as Bob Putnam points out, there's not much community feeling out there. Your focus should be on serving individual customers rather than trying to create a false and inevitably fragile group.


It's a one night stand folks. People want interaction on their terms. They don't want them foisted on them via your latest CRM initiative. They want a harem - a group of individuals that are happy to meet their specific needs whenever they call on them while turning a blind eye to their promiscuity. Your focus should be on ensuring that every time they encounter you, it's a wholly positive, time-efficient and memorable experience. If it is, they may want to repeat the liaison.


It's attention-seeking behaviour folks. Ease of expression and creativity is great but it runs up against everyone's scarcity of attention. Fail fast, fail early is a fine philosophy, but only if you learn from the failures and do so increasingly early. Your focus should be on giving people content they want, when they want it and realise that as soon as you don't, they'll move on and remember your content as being irritating multi-media spam in their noise-filled lives.


It's totally subjective folks. But, if you can fake it, you've got it made. Trouble is, you'll get caught out if you try to do that. People don't like lies and pretension in their life, they're attuned to detecting it and will certainly not tolerate it if it's connected to relieving them of their money. Your focus should be on standing for something, behaving consistently in relation to that stand and trusting people's ability to spot that you're doing that.

The point of course is not that Web 2.0 is bogus but that these words are wrongly defined in alleged received wisdom. What Web 2.0 allows and indeed demands of businesses is a return to genuine old-fashioned customer centricity and greatly increased agility of response and attitude. The underlying world hasn't changed and the meaning of these words similarly hasn't changed. Nonsense flows from businesses seeking to monetise them. Profit will flow from really understanding them.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

There's Only One Job Title.

Talking about craiglist's founder Craig Newmark, Robert Scoble gets it very wrong. He's not being self-deprecating, he's acknowledging that everybody is a "customer service rep". It's those people who don't realise this simple reality that cause all the problems.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nudge, Nudge. Wink, Wink. Say No More. Please.

Humour can be a great route to engagement, but I thought we all knew from personal experience that if the joke has to be explained to you, then the impact is greatly diminished. It's either a bad joke or it's been badly told. Or both.

The parentheses above left me dumbfounded. Not only did it bring to mind memories of excrutiatingly unfunny speakers/party bores, it also managed to be sleazy rather than risque. If you're that unconfident about getting your idea across, tinkering at the edges will simply make things worse. Far better to go back to the drawing-board and craft it properly. If you have to explain it, rewrite it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Streets Of London.

Two leading tech businesses.
Two flagship stores separated by the width of Regent Street.
Two retail experiences separated by a chasm.

This is the new Nokia store at 4 p.m. today. A stylish place but few customers, no buzz and inevitably bored staff. A sterile environment.

Literally across the street is the Apple store. A similar design aesthetic but, as ever, full of people either using it as an internet cafe or buying stuff from constantly engaged staff. An active environment.

The design and ethos of both stores urges you to interact with the products. Indeed, the Nokia store explicitly exhorts you to "discover" more about each phone. But clearly, there's a difference between the two.

Each phone says "No SIM card inserted". We all understand why and I'm not saying Nokia are doing anything wrong, it's just that the nature of their product hamstrings them when it comes to customer trial so they surely have to do something more to facilitate that discovery. Both companies have commendably strived to make these stores remarkable and they both are. But these are the very different impressions they leave.

The Nokia store is a gallery.
The Apple store is alive.
The Nokia store staff are tech sellers.
The Apple store staff are tech users.
The Nokia store is a place where you browse.
The Apple store is a place where you use.
The Nokia store is about surface.
The Apple store is about corporate DNA.

Monday, April 07, 2008

How To Be Noticed.

Many marketers would have you believe that it's all about building a brand image by messaging and clever tactics, but really it's what you do that is much more important.

I've previously highlighted No Impact Man's decision "to live in the heart of New York City while causing no net environmental impact." It has gained a lot of mainstream publicity and media coverage for sure, but the family are not celebrities and are seen as just regular customers in their local coffee shop. Except that they're not.

The woman behind the counter said to Michelle, "I just want you to know that you and your husband really make me think. I've joined an environmental group because of you and this week we're starting to compost." This woman, by the way, doesn't know about the semi-famous No Impact project. She just sees Michelle and I coming in most days, refusing to use disposable products.

People don't need to know your whole carefully-crafted marketing story. If it's encapsulated in what you do, they'll get the message.

Addendum: Perhaps this is an example of behaviour as social object.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Real Difference?

Talking of different, I'm still bemused by Becks Vier and their "different by choice" campaign. They may well be, but the only objective attribute they mention is the 4% alcohol strength which, of course, is also enshrined in their name.

As a drinker of bottled Becks (5%), that strikes me as a claim to Vier being a weaker beer while the question of taste which is what they're really wanting to emphasise is lost in the shuffle. Yet again, we see how difficult it is to get two ideas across simultaneously.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry.

When David Ogilvy said "If you can't make a lady laugh, you certainly can't make her buy", I'm not sure this is what he had in mind.

But, amidst a sea of "Creating World Class Solutions" and "Your Growth Is Our Business" banners at the trade show that I briefly endured the other day, it was this one for a tiny accounting business that was catching a lot of eyes (and causing women to laugh) .

Now you can debate whether the impression it gives is the one you would want from your accountant, but that actually has more to do with you than them. Your worldview is beyond their control but, in a truly commoditised service business, they've shown themselves to be different and human.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Flaky Thinking.

Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate
Tastes like chocolate you'd brush to the floor.

Joss Stone features in the latest version of the classic Flake ad. She's there no doubt to modernise the feel, but the women who brought it to my attention had noticed something else.

At the end of the piece, she brushes away the chocolate crumbs and with it all the sensuality. Because, as my friends said, they would never brush the chocolate away, they'd eat every piece flake by flake. Here it just ends up on the floor.

Along with its effectiveness.