Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Influenceables Outpoint Influentials.

I've been reading Connected over the past few weeks and yesterday went to see Nicholas Kristakis talk about it. It's a sprawling discussion of how networks work coupled with some interesting insights about why they work. But for me, the most important sentence in the book is this citing of the work of Duncan Watts et al.

It turns out that influential people are not enough: the population must also contain influenceable people, and it may be that the speed and diffusion of an innovation is more dependent on the proportion and number of the latter group than the former.

The question that is the elephant in the room is what makes people influenceable. Bad marketers will, as ever, see that descriptor and imagine manipulable passivity, but I think the decision to be influenceable is a more active one, a wish to avoid defaulting to the posturing of the biggest advertisers. A wish for influence to be embodied in better information rather than persistent persuasion.

Being spreadable is good, being remarkable is essential, but knowing what makes someone influenceable is crucial. Is it case-specific or is it inherent curiosity? Are all influenceables equally influenceable or does it depend on where they lie in a specific network or indeed how many of them there are in the network?

It will be a long time before those questions are answered, but I'd hazard a guess that they are all connected to your doing something that people care about.

Timely Addendum: Hugh MacLeod reminded me via Twitter of the old Dancing Man video which has already been featured and interpreted by Mark and Faris.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Compromise On Openness.

This is the seventh slide in a deck of twenty that is posted online. It comes from an agency presentation that was made to an invited industry audience and it looks interesting. Yet, six of the slides are like this one or completely black.

Now I don't know if this was how the presentation was made, but I'm guessing that it wasn't and that this is a bit of censorship for proprietary reasons. That's fine. It's smart to keep your best slides back (as a very successful marketing speaker once told me). However, the way it's done is not. The opposite of openness is silence, not partial sharing. You're allowed to be silent.

But if you choose to share, you share it all or, at least, (via editing) give the impression that you're sharing all. If you give the impression that you're holding something back, it just comes across as a compromise.

Compromises rarely work and they will always be interpreted badly. Put up or shut up. But know that those are your smartest options.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stay Out Of the Picture.

Some time ago I wrote about what was wrong with conferences, but I've become increasingly irritated by the distracting antics of official photographers. They are constantly interrupting my attention via

1) Their insistence on taking multiple shots of what is essentially the same subject seemingly on the basis that the more attempts they make, the greater their chance of success.

2) Their exaggerated unobtrusiveness as they tip-toe into and out of the audience's view which only serves to distract even more.

3) Their belief that the event exists so that they can flaunt their brilliance by taking photographs of it.

They've always been annoying, but today with the audience actively generating and posting their own images of the event, I begin to wonder if they're actually needed. The world has changed but the convention - in every sense of that word - remains the same.

The metaphor is obvious too. If the combination of bloat, interruptiveness and ego sounds anything like your industry, change your focus.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Make Marketing Consistent.

Cusquena is very fine beer. It seems I drink quite a lot of it - either that or I don't go to the recycling plant very frequently.

Anyway, my friend Amanda told me it was the best beer in South America (she should know)and that the detail imprinted on the bottle depicts the ruins of Incan temples that can be found in Peru. They're distinctive bottles because of that.

When I first became aware of Cusquena, it was sold in cases that offered two free glasses as a promotional offer and you will be unsurprised to know that I've amassed a few. But I hadn't looked at them until recently. For a launch promotion, you'd expect something along the lines of the bottle wouldn't you? Marketing that was consistent, distinctive and reinforcing of the premium claim. But what I got was this.

The beer deserves much, much better. The phrase "play hard or go home" springs to mind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Costs Of Branding.

As I keep saying, imposed branding is only skin-deep. Your customers want to connect with your corporate DNA because that is where those buzzwords authenticity and consistency are truly proven. Or undermined.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Don't Aspire. Be Great.

This grocery store/restaurant has the right idea. Your customers don't want mission statements that aspire to greatness. They want you to be great today, tomorrow and forever.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monkey, Dolphin, Canary?

It's been perhaps a year since mobile phone company Orange allocated animal names to their various contract options. While some people were critical, others heralded their avoidance of standard descriptor language as a great piece of imaginative differentiation.

At a superficial level, for sure, Orange are in some sense "different" from the other phone companies. They have a different tone about them. But that isn't always a good thing - especially because they cannot control the dissemination and, more importantly, the context of that information.

Yesterday, that was brought into clear focus in a third-party phone store where details of the various tariffs available from different service providers were listed next to each phone.

These comparisons are never easy to dissect, but with Orange it was impossible. Viewed in black and white, Monkey, Dolphin and Canary are meaningless monikers that repel potential customers and simply emphasise how thin is the line between differentiation and alienation.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

If Your User Can't Use You, Do You Exist?

Jaron Lanier helped to invent virtual reality, played Laotion panpipes at the start of his lecture and then railed against open source ethics (that he also helped to create), the curse of free, the vapidity of web 2.0 and much else besides.

He also said:

"Software only exists in terms of user interface. Without that it can't exist."

I think that can be taken as a metaphor for almost any aspect of modern business. If what you do isn't glanceable, accessible and, to some extent, immediately usable, then can it and your business really exist?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Permission Marketing.

You can segment your target market with whatever parameters you choose, but unless you include "receptive", you're wasting your time.