Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Make Marketing Cute.

If, in the coming months, you see advertising campaigns featuring sleeping babies in various settings or pictures made out of food, you will know where they got their creative inspiration. From Mila's Daydreams above and Little Food Junction below.

They'll be "cute" and "human" but they'll only work if they're also truthful. It's that final attribute that will make them as authentic as their inspiration.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Number's Up.

This is not another post about The Old Spice campaign. But it is inspired by the seemingly ubiquitous innumeracy that has spun out of it. Specifically, there is a Nielsen figure being quoted that sales have risen by 107% in the last month. Think about that. Sales have doubled in a month. That would be extraordinary. If it were true.

But while I haven't fully confirmed it, I don't think it is true. What is much more likely to be true is that sales for the past month are 107% higher than for the equivalent month last year. That's also impressive though maybe less so if, as I pointed out in my Cadbury post, it's an increase from a deflated level. Saliently, the fact is that nobody involved with the company or the campaign has even made that claim. They know that they're playing a long game. The blogosphere, however, is less restrained and the virality of online information means that the seemingly false interpretation has spread like wildfire.

Regardless of the previous years of the repositioning and the fact that those videos were only created two weeks ago, the received wisdom will be that the combination of online video and social media doubles sales in a month. Everybody will be switching their budgets into an Old Spice style digital extravaganza because they think something has been proven.

It will take time to determine the undeniable effectiveness of the campaign and its various elements on actual sales, but it shouldn't take time for marketers to understand what basic numbers actually mean.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What Were You Thinking?

When you took interruption marketing into the street?

When you outsourced customer service to reduce costs?

When you treated new customers better than loyal ones?

When you tried to up-sell rather than attend to waiting customers?

Were you thinking about improving the customer experience or were you thinking about improving your evaluation?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Headline Marketing.

The headline says that 9 out of 10 people use social networks. The reality of the article is the claim that 90% of the over 15's who use the internet use social networks. Not quite the same thing.

The headline you’ll have seen recently says that e-books are outselling physical books on Amazon for the first time. In fact, e-books are outselling hard cover books for the first time. Paperback sales far exceed e-book sales which across the whole book sector only accounts for 3% of sales. Not quite the revolution that was suggested.

The headline is not to forget the importance of looking beneath the headline and of truly understanding the numbers. On the other hand, it also shows the importance of a headline and how easy it is to make people believe.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

All Customers Are Idiots.

All customers are unthinking idiots. Some of the time. I certainly am and you probably are too. That's agreed. Now what?

You could feel superior, treat them like unthinking fools and create awful bland marketing that ultimately doesn't work.

Or you could realise that they have better things to do than consume your marketing. You could do what marketers are meant to do. You could make them think.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Make Marketing Timely.

So the World Cup is over. It was interesting last week. This week not so much. So why do I get an email today hawking some social media monitoring analysis of international interest in the event?

Because, in an age of real-time data capture, they presumably did what they always used to do. They waited to the end of their survey to finalise their findings rather than compile it on the fly and produce an interim report that might have sufficiently piqued my interest so that I would be hungry for the final results.

The time when people would be most engaged in that data would be during the tournament or, perhaps, in the run-up to the next major one. Now we're in the land of post-mortems and looking to the next event. Interest has moved on.

Targetting's not just about who and where. When is also key. The customers' schedule trumps your production schedule. Fish when the fish are hungry.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't Create The Hype.

Today sees the launch of the "Manifesto for a Networked Nation" a government initiative designed to maximise digital inclusion by 2012. I fully endorse it.

And yet, where Finland recently declared online connectivity to be a legal right, here I'm distracted by the hype of an alleged economic saving of £22 billion.

Maybe it's my general antipathy for government marketing - how it all seem overly expensive, years behind the curve in its methodology and designed to prop up advertising agencies and management consultancies - but that sort of compulsory financial justification immediately makes me very suspicious.

I may be wrong but I see an amalgamation of savings estimates from a variety of sources (including consultancies) coupled with hints of double counting and the exclusion of incremental costs, not to mention supplier redundancies.

I accept that there are 6.4 million over-65s in the UK who have never used the internet and that an average household saving of £560 a year can be made by shopping and paying bills online. But even if one assumes that this represents 6.4 million single households with average bills (both unlikely), simple multiplication yields a maximum saving of £3.3 billion excluding ISP costs - a far cry from the £6 billion claimed because

Achieving a similar increase to over-65s’ disposable income by increasing the Basic State Pension by £10 a week — ie £520 a year — would cost around £6bn a year.

As I say, I may be wrong or ovewrly sceptical, but the lesson is a universal one. If you use numbers in your marketing, you better be able to back them up. And if you have a real purpose-idea to promote, as is unquestionably the case here, then go ahead and promote it. Don't obscure it with hype.

Self-Congratulatory Addendum: After writing this post, I read a very supportive piece in today's Times. Under the headline "There is a social and moral imperative to get people online. This is not hype. This is really happening." it referred to the £22 billion as "one of those statistics that give the project a "pie in the sky" tone." I hope it's not.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Not So Much Fun.

The VW Fun campaign won a big prize in Cannes. It's been all over YouTube and the blogosphere for months. I think I've seen all the videos. You probably have too, but over at digital buzz you can see them again and read about the recombinant frenzy that it generated.

So clearly it was a great success?

The Fun Theory was all about generating interest in Volkswagen’s Blue Motion technologies that deliver the same great car performance with reduced environmental impact.

Blue Motion? Reduced environmental impact? Really? Maybe it's just me, but that genuinely shocked me. All I took away was VW and fun. That, in itself, is no bad thing of course but if it wasn't the aim, then is it a success for VW or just for the agency?