Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Facebook Experience?

This Facebook spoof encompasses a useful lesson. If you bother truly to visualise your customers' experience and do so in as exaggerated way as you dare, you may get a feel for what you could be doing wrong.

Friday, December 28, 2007

If You Don't Care, Why Should They?

My one prediction of 2008 is that Juno will be in your top ten list of best movies, so imagine my exasperation when the first TV spot I saw was in the middle of sports programming.

What made someone think that the mindset of the audience for live horse-racing would chime with that for a sharp youth-oriented movie that's garnering awards wherever it goes?

I know media buying is replete with deals, but the thinking here can only be that of relatively cheap TV exposure and that is box-ticking of the worst sort. If you can't afford more relevant spots, then spend the money in another way rather than do something that shows disdain for the audience and, even worse, disdain for what you're marketing.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Rigidity Of The Geeks.

Over the past few days, the blogosphere has largely reverted to its primordial incarnation as the playground of the geeks. There have been interesting debate and wonderful acts of humanity not to mention all manner of prescriptive projections of future human behaviour (predicated upon technology of course).

However, my ultimate take-away has been a reminder of the rigidity of geek thinking. Perhaps it’s down to their technical detail-orientation, but it’s remarkable to see the virulent reaction of a geek to another person’s argument if it doesn’t correlate exactly with their own worldview.

As we move toward marketing 2.0 or the new marketing, the lesson, of course, is that despite their volume, the geeks are not the majority. There’s a lot of inspiration to be gleaned and ideas to be considered, but it’s not the early adopters who ultimately shape the future. It’s the people who use stuff who do that.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sprouts As Social Objects.

Ask people to name their most hated vegetable and it's generally agreed that the answer will be sprouts, yet annual sprout sales in the UK are worth £35m. That's allegedly 47,000,000 units of distress purchase and judging by the supermarket tonight, most of them are bought this week.

It's not the season of masochism, so why the paradoxical behaviour? Because people have bought a story that convinces them that sprouts say Christmas like no other vegetable. Because people can joke about them and because people see other people doing it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Where else in the world would an atheist comedian and the head of an international religion overlap in a radio show, chat without interruption from the host and be recorded on webcam? The BBC can still be remarkable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gorilla Update.

Campaign magazine's 2007 round-up awards campaign of the year to the Gorilla and reports 9% year on year increase in weekly sales - (in October I assume) though as I said before the June 2006 weekly sales were down 25% due to the salmonella scare.

The same magazine also brings home to me how many smart people I've got to know this year and credits many of them with both great blogs and actual work too. Trebles all round!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Something From My Comments.

Lazy blogging I know, but I wanted to share comments I contributed to two interesting debates on other blogs recently.

Marketing isn't any harder than it used to be - it's just that people forgot that it centres upon product development and meeting customer needs and instead got obsessed with pretty words like branding which is all too often skin-deep rather than a reflection of the DNA of a business. No marketing isn't harder, but getting away with sub-standard behaviour very definitely is. (Collaborate Marketing)

It’s a myth that most categories are commodified - a myth perpetrated by arty agencies who want to pad their book rather than be a little dull and focus on product attributes. (The Kaiser Edition)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fourth Wall Marketing.

Watching the magnificent Tinariwen the other night, I realised that
here were visually spectacular and musically dynamic performers having a real problem in breaking the fourth wall between stage and audience.

This was largely because they are a group of Touareg bedouins from Mali who collectively speak very little english. They had a few stock phrases and meant them sincerely but inevitably it wasn't continuous, it wasn't a real connection.

The breakthrough came when the previously seated drummer walked to the edge of the stage both to play and encourage a typically passive white european audience. The wall was well and truly broken, but it reminded me that you have to very actively make the connection with your audience even if they've already given you permission to excite them.

Think of your marketing efforts in terms of performance and audience and you'll quickly see the tactics that will fall flat and you will save yourself a lot of wasted effort.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cadbury Gorillas In Our Midst.

Cadbury Schweppes raised forecasts for its confectionery business, saying that revenue at the division would increase more than 6 per cent this year. In some circles this is already being attributed to the gorilla ad. Well let's just think about some other contributory factors.

Sales of Wispa have grown from zero to 20 million since October.

Trident and Stride gum have gained a 35% US market share.

The summer of 2007 was much cooler than 2006.

The proof of the ad's effectiveness will lie in the performance of sales of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate and that has not yet been itemised anywhere that I have seen. And when they are, we must remember to factor in the inevitable rebound that would have occurred following the rectifying of the summer salmonella incident which led to a 25% slump in sales in June. The relevant comparison for effectiveness purposes will be the sales trend before that slump.

None of this is to say that the ad hasn't been highly effective as well as popular. it's just a reminder that the measurement of any marketing ROI must be done rigorously or we're just deluding ourselves.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Secondary Segmentation.

In our commodified world there are huge numbers of product categories that the majority of people consume. If you're competing in those markets, it makes little sense to focus on the traditional socio-demographic divisions. That's what everybody does.

You have a great number of potential customers out there so why not choose your own demographic within that mass market and speak to them about your product. Focus on what they do beyond being consumers within your product category. For example - most people drink beer, so focus on gardeners who drink. That way you can generate small but deeper engagements, lengthening attentions spans and true loyalty.

And you don't have to limit yourself to just one of these secondary segments - you can approach as many as you like via a variety of messaging that is linked by a consistent tone of voice. Become niche marketers of a commodity category and you are assured of talking to potential customers. If you just pursue a niche market, there may not be any customers in it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Swimming Against The Current.

All the people at my local gym would say they go there to improve their health. But they all do so in different ways and the most intriguing group to me is the non-athletic ones who believe they are undertaking an exercise regime. In fact, they stand around in the pool declaring that swimming is the only exercise their doctor will allow them to do, before slouching off to the jacuzzi or sauna. Actual exercise undertaken - minimal.

While debating the value of focus groups in the comments of Northern Planner's excellent series of practical advice, he raised a great point about the importance of paying attention to what people don't say as much as what they do say. Thus when people say they go to the gym regularly, they are not actually saying that they exercise.

Everyone can hear what is being said and see what is being done, but the interesting stuff is always found in the spaces between the assumptions.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Keep It Simple.

Riders for Health is a charity that ensures healthcare workers can reach African villages on a regular basis by supplying them with motorcycles and pick-ups and, crucially, ensuring that they work. According to the article I read, they do this by operating,

a system of preventive maintenance that would shame any British rail operator. Spark plugs are changed before they stop sparking. Cylinders are re-bored before they seize up. Money permitting, vehicles are replaced before they break down unexpectedly, and no health worker climbs onto his or her motorbike without giving it a once-over worthy of an airline pilot. This means ambulances work, travelling clinics travel, and every community health nurse with “outreach” responsibilities for rural villages has a sturdy Japanese motorbike to take them there.

In other words, they focus on the true customer needs (in Gambia, for example, 60% of healthcare is delivered to patients rather than vice versa), anticipate problems rather than react to them and see flashy gestures as the waste of time and resources they really are.

Back in Bansang, the health ministry’s Toyota Hilux pick-up operates from a vehicle depot strewn with the rusting, overgrown legacy of a decade of costly and ultimately doomed initiatives: 21 Land Rovers and Land Cruisers emblazoned with grand aims and proud sponsors’ logos (the “BUPA Kadang Heath Services Rapid Response Vehicle”; a six-vehicle fleet for the “Elimination of Neonatal Tetanus in Africa by the Year 1995”), all kneeling in the dirt on tyreless rims, all useless. One Land Rover has a pumpkin growing from its bonnet. The Hilux, by contrast, has 222,183km on its clock and every prospect of accumulating more.

By doing so, they make themselves appear all the more impressive.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Having already told you about the magnificence of Ellen Page, I make no apologies for repeating the message. Last night, I got the chance to see a screening of her latest movie Juno which, I believe, opens tomorrow in NY and LA and around the world early next year. My review is as follows - go see it.

The production notes point out that the movie is ultimately about relationships between people who would not normally meet or who indeed might be isolated from each other by prejudice and status. The parallels with the connectivity of the online world are obvious and coincidentally (or not) the screenwriter Diablo Cody is herself a blogger.

That may explain why the script is so sharp, tight and funny - so much so that you miss some jokes because of the unsubsiding laughter from the previous line. Juno is one of the best movies you will see all year.

See! I do like some things. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

London Calling.

Anyone considering visiting London will no doubt be fascinated to know that "45,460 litres of urine is at risk of ending up in the city's streets and alleyways through irresponsible and anti-social behaviour."

Their proposed solution? "Sat-Lav" - an SMS service for which you pay a subsidised 25p to receive a text that tells you the nearest location with opening times.

Yet another example of the public sector acting without thinking and presuming behaviours that have no correlation with reality. There's no mention of co-ordinating times and locations, so you're quite likely to be sent information of a closed convenience and there's no thought given to changing attitudes - just an assumption that people will use the service.

But hey, it's got a cute name and justifies a council-sponsored "innovation" competition, so that's alright then.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Can Advertising Save Web 2.0?

The viability of the online advertising model (i.e. non search-based) upon which so many 2.0 companies are relying on has always worried me. But I had no data to back this up. However, Danah Boyd has come to the rescue with this post that highlights this research.

It confirms that my habit of never having clicked on an online ad is very much the majority behaviour and Danah makes an interesting moral point about online advertisers potentially being seen as exploitative of the less well-off. I wonder too if this will affect them in the eyes of offline consumers who will not want to be associated with "down-market" brands?

More than that, while I'm not expecting the demise of Facebook, it is interesting to parse these findings with Danah's earlier report about the class differentials between MySpace and Facebook users. Might that not suggest that Facebook's audience are much more likely to be among the non-clicking majority? If it does, then their revenue estimates might be under threat.

Some will rightly retort that onlne advertising can be used for brand-buidling rather than click-through, but that too has yet to be proven and surely falls prey to the avoidance culture that effects all advertising (as eye-tracking evidence is beginning to show). Interesting times.