Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Listening And Learning?

Three marketing tenets and three quotes from a New York Times article.

1) The customer/user is the raison d'etre of any business.

“Whenever we innovate and create great new experiences and new features, if they are not well understood at the outset, one thing we need to do is give people an opportunity to interact with them,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, a vice president at Facebook. “After a while, they fall in love with them.”

2) The customer/user dislikes and avoids marketing interruptions.

Facebook executives say the people who are complaining are a marginal minority. With time, Facebook says, users will accept Beacon, which Facebook views as an extension of the type of book and movie recommendations that members routinely volunteer on their profile pages.

3) The customer/user decides what is right for them.

Late yesterday the company made an important change, saying that it would not send messages about users’ Internet activities without getting explicit approval each time.

The Web 2.0 Business Conundrum.

1) Founders have a cheap, clever idea.

2) People use the idea because it meets a need, is free and uninterrupted.

3) Founders focus on serving their growing audience better.

4) Moneymen swarm around.

5) Founders claim that business model will emerge.

6) Sales organisations flock to the idea in order to exploit it for their ends.

7) Founders decide that advertising must be the business model.

8) Users begin to resent changes and fail to provide revenue.

9) Founders realise traditional tactics don't apply in a disrupted world.

10) ?????

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Whose Bag Is It Anyway?

Last weekend, Sainsbury's supermarkets gave away the reusable bags they normally charge for in the hope of encouraging customers to reduce their use of plastic bags. Today, I noticed a woman using them to carry her shopping from one of their rivals.

I wondered how many other shoppers noticed and thought better of Sainsbury's as a result? I wondered if the rival's staff noticed and thought about doing something similarly positive? Coincidentally, (courtesy of today's passiveaggressivenotes), I wonder why anyone would think this would be an appropriate response and why it's the stance being taken in so many industries?

Addendum: To clarify - do you see a customer advertising the competition or do you see a customer?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Obligatory Facebook Post.

Facebook digitised college connectivity
Acquired lots of users
Collected lots and lots of data
Extended its reach
Became a media darling
Opened up its API
Overdid its applications
Knows it's at a crossroads.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who Judges Perfection?

Heston Blumenthal is a remarkable chef whose cooking will be sampled by some readers in the near future. Mixing physics and chemistry with a search for the absolute perfect ingredients, his is cooking that most would not bother to try at home but as one critic wrote "it's always fun to see someone do something better than anyone else in the world".

Interesting distinction there - he searches for absolute perfection but the critic perceives it in relative terms. True creative brilliance involves a search for perfection, but the consumer is more concerned with you delivering something that is markedly better than the alternatives. They don't want "good enough" but equally they (and I) probably wouldn't recognise real perfection either.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Short-Cut, Not Short Circuit.

Continuing with my theme of facilitating short-cuts as a route to better usability and improved customer experience, it's crucial to ensure that the short-cut in question is actually a short-cut for your users. is a very useful facility that reduces unwieldy url's to a manageable length. That is great when you're sending them in SMS form, but it doesn't facilitate comprehension as you can see here.

The predominance of emboldened tiny urls in an article about podcasts is certainly a short-cut for the techie writer in terms of printspace. However, from the reader's perspective, having one's scanning eyes drawn to indecipherable urls does nothing positive.

The only short-cut this facilitates is that of the reader to the next article.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

For The Love Of Cod.

Say fish and chips and people generally think cod and chips. But cod has been scarce in the seas lately and catches have been restricted by EU quotas. So what do you do if you're a fish and chip shop and the majority of your customers automatically ask for cod and chips?

Well, contrary to my previous advice, you short-circuit their psychological short-cut; take cod off the menu on "No-cod Wednesdays"; and make them focus on the alternatives. Partly a green initiative, but certainly smart marketing for a business that has its own Long Tail.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Media Douchebags.

(via zeroinfluencer)

Try Before You Buy Marketing.

The advent of file-sharing and broadband has created an environment in which potential customers are fully exposed to media products before they make a purchase decision.

The disruption this has caused to those businesses is well-documented, but outside of that arena the mindset is also now pervasive and your marketing approach must acknowledge that. If you wouldn't buy your product/service, there's really no point trying to get others to do so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interruption Management.

Here's an interesting study that suggests that people who use IM and other communication tools are not less productive than others and believe that they suffer from fewer interruptions.

In other words, if you keep people in the loop on a constant basis, rather than with intermittent communication, they have a fuller idea of who and what you are and life is easier.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cosh Or Cosset: Marketing's ADHD Prescription.

The inestimable Lauren commented on the last post that Corporate Dex-Amphetamine was inevitable. In fact, it's here already. Our perceived ad attention deficit disorder is being tackled by programmes that offer free or cut-price content/services in exchange for compulsory exposure to advertising messages.

But in a month when the efficacy of Ritalin has been questioned, it's worth considering whether a course of action/medication that seeks to counter the effects of glitzy, superficial additives/messages is the way to go.

It's not just that advertising can be ignored due to technology, the fact that it can is leading to mental conditioning that means enforced advertising may not be absorbed.

So, as with ADHD, it's surely better to feed people the right "additives". The marketing equivalent of a healthier diet that allows them to grow stronger and energised, rather than distracted and hyperactive.

(Image courtesy of getthejob)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why Won't They Listen To You?

Last night. A gathering of PR practitioners seeking to understand how social media impacted their business. They wanted to access bloggers on behalf of their clients. Some of the bloggers present objected to being spammed. The celebrated anti-spam reactions of Tom Coates and Kevin Anderson were inevitably cited and short-hand terms like Cluetrain and conversation were bandied about.

As someone who stands on both sides of the divide, I thought this remark by one of the PR people summed up the source of the miscomprehension.

"But if I can't send you an email, how can I talk to you?"

In the past, clients expected PR to give them coverage - that's no longer good enough. If you want to have a conversation with a commercial undercurrent, it would help if you think about the nature of conversations that you enjoy and try to replicate them. The technology has changed but the issue remains the same. You're trying to gain interest rather than attention. Attention is dead - it's interruptive. Any unwanted interruption of my or your time is unwelcome

My opinion on "conversation" has been recorded here but the analogy for me is obvious. If you're in a bar chatting with a group of friends or colleagues, it is entirely possible for a complete stranger to interpose into that conversation and be welcomed. But if they wander over unannounced and say let me tell you about this thing that is wonderful regardless of what you're talking about, the reaction they get will be very different.

A remark from someone with whom you've developed a rapport and mutual respect over a period of time (be that by participating on their blog or by sponsoring an online community as per Chris Locke's post-cluetrain suggestion) is part of a conversation. An unsolicited email is the equivalent of the bar-room bore.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Satisfaction Quantified?

Satsifaction surveys exist to measure our relative pleasure or displeasure on some sort of sliding scale. So why would the options on a customer survey change from question to question and why would they place acceptable ahead of adequate in the scale of options?

Perhaps because it was a survey of customer care in a state-run hospital and unwell patients might not notice that marking down actually improved the rating.

Never believe research results if you haven't seen how they were collected. In the private sector, at least, you won't succeed by deluding yourself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How Do People Count?

My recent labelling post caused quite a debate and got me thinking about dieting and whether people focus on what's good for them or count up the bad things they can get away with eating each day.

I don't know tha answer, but it suggests to me that you really need to know how the people in your marketplace are thinking. Are they focussing on what's good for them i.e. quality or do they know that their choices aren't the best but they figure they can get away with a certain consumption level without having a negative outcome?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Getting Here From There.

I'm repeatedly frustrated by the lack, paucity or complexity of travel directions on business websites. There are lots of new aids (like map programs) to help with this but still people get it wrong. They assume you know the area, they assume they know where you're coming from and sometimes they assume you will so want to come that you'll work it out for yourself.

It takes brains to do it this well. (via Ruby)

And doesn't their effort make you think that the shop is worth your effort?

Monday, November 12, 2007

All The News That Fits.

Courtesy of visiting friends, I'm belatedly aware of the New York Times redesign. They've reduced the width (by 1.5 inches) to standard tabloid size while maintaining the broadsheet height. It's a very odd shape.

I imagine they assumed that going tabloid would implicitly diminish their stature and reduce their differentiation from existing city rivals the Post and the News. But that's nonsense. The size of the paper is predominantly a usability issue, it is the design and content that differentiates the consumption experience.

Seems to me, they're stuck in the mindset of how newspaper professionals view newspapers and not that of how their readers view them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Customer Facing Stuff.

Funny and creative in and of itself, but check out (via Iain) the imitations it's spawned and you might glean some ideas about the best way to deal with unusual customers and the impressions those strategies leave.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Reverse Marketing Engines.

Audiences at conferences are amazed by insights that seemed obvious years ago; the digital life remains a mystery to many and buzzwords and received wisdom continues to be spouted and not questioned.

So, in spite of the demographic realities, the considerable doubts about the longevity of brand loyalty and the radical changes to daily life that digital technology has wreaked, businesses still repeat the mantra of attracting youth, capturing new users and moulding technology to their traditional way of doing business. Changing marketing thinking in the corporate world is clearly akin to turning round an oil tanker.

When they act like they understand that it's the quality of your target customers not their age that matters; when they realise that existing customers are the key to retention and capture of new customers; and when they shape their business to reflect the realities of the digital lifestyle, then the oil tanker will, at least, have stopped.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facilitate Short-Cuts And Satisfaction Soars.

We've all had the experience I had today. That of repeating a reference number to a series of people on the end of the phone who apparently need that information before they can put you through to the next person who will put you through to the next person who finally inputs the reference into the system in order to look at what you might be calling about.

It's crazy - the reference number is designed to be a short-cut to a solution and yet the system is not designed to facilitate that short-cut. Ensuring that your infrastructure and staff facilitate those short cuts is the key to great customer service, to excellent usability and to good marketing because it eliminates frustrations and delays and gets the customer where they want to be as quickly as possible.

And as Mike Kruzeniski highlights, it doesn't even have to involve people.

All you have to do is make the label the button.

Simple, isn't it? But just think how many metaphorical labels your customer has to read or fill-in before you press their buttons.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Modern Mundanist.

At last - for those of you who weren't there and those of you who were - Dave has tied together most of his slides from Interesting 2007 with a better audio track than I've previously heard.

Enjoy a masterful performance.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Exceedingly Deceptive Labelling?

Food companies are increasingly required to detail the amounts of fat, salt etc that their products contain so that we can work out which ones are, for example, low-fat (i.e. less than 5% fat). If we are quite numerate that is.

At a recent client meeting, I noticed that this carton had seemingly facilitated that calculation by providing a breakdown of both the weight of the individual constituents and a percentage figure. But look closer.

The percentage figure relates not to the number listed above it but to recommended total daily intake - a calculation one is less likely to be contemplating. Crunch the numbers and you see that the cakes comprise 42% sugar and 15% fat (not the 15% and 7%) you might have assumed.

Is this deliberate misrepresentation from Mr.Kipling or just accidentally misleading design? Who knows? But the marketing lesson is obvious, you can't fool all the people all of the time, so don't try. (Also see Seth today).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Christmas Is Coming.

So here's something to consider buying for the men in your life.

Gifts that keep on giving.

Marketing that simplifies a technical benefit via metaphor (and pillows).

Durex Performa condoms contain benzocaine (a mild anaesthetic), which helps men last longer in bed. To highlight this product benefit we distributed limited edition pillowcases alongside performa condoms at New Zealand’s biggest annual sex expo, Erotica increasing sales by 28%. The pillowcases proved such a hit with the guys that hundreds more were printed and sold in D.vice sex stores as a continuation of the promotion.

Via adsneeze.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Eyes Of The Media Literate.

We all know the ad, but a schools TV documentary entitled Advertising Uncut featured a number of voxpop reactions to it. Most notable for me was the comment from the viewers that they were surprised that real balls had been used. The assumption of this generation (late teens, early 20s) and maybe others is that effects are CGI.

So maybe the spectacular is unspectacular (but still beautiful or inspiring); perceived authenticity is limited to the simplest things; and aspiring movie directors won't get their high-concept storyboards approved?