Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sharing The Sharing Economy.

In anticipation of an imminent IPO and with an eye on the myriad regulatory threats to its original business model, Airbnb have announced Trips. Guests will now be offered guided tours by local hosts.

You can argue that these will be personalised, authentic and non-corporate versions of existing tours that might expose the guest to the benefits of truly local knowledge. I wouldn't be surprised if that's how the management rationalised this brand extension. But, as an outsider, it also looks like they think package tours will paradoxically appeal to independent travellers and that's just odd.

I'm not saying they won't be popular. I'm also sure there will be regulatory issues (tour guides in many countries are required to be licensed) but I'm not sure that Airbnb have put themselves in their users' shoes.

Have they asked what could our users do with what we offer or have they asked what can we offer our users? They are very different questions and, I imagine, existing hosts who've already been doing this as an adjunct to their hosting might not be pleased to give up a share of that income. That's not what they understood by the sharing economy, but it is what the platforms mean.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What Marketers Should Know About Filter Bubbles.

Filter bubbles work via confirmation bias. People construct them to reinforce their worldview. It's far from clear that demolishing filter bubbles will lead to people changing their worldview. Biases abide.

Friday, November 11, 2016

That Kodak Momentum.

Kodak has become the poster-child for bad incumbent management. We all know the story. They controlled 90% of the film and camera market in the mid-1970s but were ultimately "disrupted" by eight people working at a start-up called Instagram.

Of course, that's nonsense if only because it overlooks the thousands of people involved in the creation of phone and internet infrastructure without which Instagram has no business and the fact that Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975.

As for disruption, Clay Christensen puts an interesting slant on the received wisdom and points out that Kodak invested $8billion trying to get digital photography right. Yes, there were mis-steps like the focus on cameras, but to criticise Kodak management alone is to forget that the market has to be ready for an innovation.

What job does photgraphy do for the person in the street? It's not an easy question to answer. A repository of memory perhaps? In the days before digital, you took your photos, you had the film developed and you looked at your disappointing results. Once. Maybe twice. And then they resided in a drawer - as they still do today. Not doing their job. Or any job for that matter.

At some point in the past, Kodak got closer to the truth when they started to offer double prints for the price of one. The examination ritual continued to be played out, but the user also had the opportunity to give/mail a print or two to a loved one.

In doing so, he or she was able to tell the recipient that they were thinking of them and this was what they'de been doing even though they didn't have the time or inclination to write them a letter. Analog Facebook was born.

Many years later, new technology allowed the job to be done seamlessly and unthinkingly and Kodak's goose was cooked. The job to be done had been distilled and the identified user need could be addressed. That's the real lesson. And the fact that I used the word unthinkingly makes me wonder if that might mean the seeds of its disruption is already built in to the latest solution. Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Really Identifying User Needs.

I recently learned that Evian's target audience is a group labelled "Leaders in Life".  This information emerged from a presentation that was ostensibly an attempt to justify their sponsorship of Wimbledon but, at heart, was yet another bizarre attempt by marketers to suggest that a disparate group of people has a similar outlook.

The idea that people's physical and mental attributes determine their behaviour is a short-cut to oblivion as millennialism has shown. Anyone who thinks that a group of minimally 1.5 billion humans is likely to behave and think the same is seriously deluded.

It's an approach that originates with the marketer and their products and services when what is needed is an approach that is more thoughtful and customer-centric. One that focusses on user need rather than tries to create user wants.

Clay Christensen is best known for his somewhat misunderstood disruption theory of innovation, but  he's also developed a very interesting critique of marketing's demographic segmentation obsession. In it, he convincingly argues that life creates a series of moments in time when you need to hire a product or service to get a specific job done.

Marketers have to identify what that job is; shape their product or service to fulfil that job seamlessly; and communicate that fact so that when the job has to be done, it is their product or service which immediately comes to the customer's mind.

Everything flows from the user need.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Marketing Poll.

I understand the sentiment. The election is important and there will be a flood of dreadful blogposts and promotional articles that draw false lessons from it. But, I couldn't disagree more.

The election is exactly the sort of case study from which we should be drawing marketing lessons because it addresses a huge and engaged audience. Lessons about strategy and tactics, lessons about communication and calls to action, and lessons about infrastructure and earned versus paid media.

Because it's not some silly meme or the latest new shiny thing but a significant decision about which so many people rightly care.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Marketing Communication Matters.

It's 2016 and still you get stuff like this.

Do I click OK to agree with the question or do I click cancel because that's what I wanted to do?

Or do I lose the will to live?

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Make Marketing Longer.

Les Binet and Peter Field delivered the latest raft of their advertising effectiveness research yesterday. It was especially interesting because their analysis increasingly covers the digital age and begins to slay some of the myths about changing media behaviour.

Key takeaways included.

Short-termism in marketing is undermining effectiveness - it boosts ROI but not profit growth. This ties in with their existing thesis that brand-building campaigns generate longer terms sales growth where activation campaigns might cause short term sales spikes but spikes that dissipate quickly as they target the low-hanging fruit of customers who are already about to buy.

The optimal split of marketing expenditure should be 60% brand building and 40% short-term activation.  Current activation rates of 47% are clearly sub-optimal, so it's  interesting thtat Unilever CEO has banned quarterly reporting for marketing effectiveness because he rightly sees that the best marketing doesn't operate on a quarterly schedule.

Television is key to successful marketing campaigns and increases a campaign's effectiveness by 40%. This again relates to their original thesis - video is repeatedly shown to be the most effective medium for stimulating an emotional response and it is emotional response that builds brands. As a side-note, it was also suggested that marketers need to be aware of which media are better at brand-building and therefore should not be used in activation mode.

ROMI (return on marketing investment) is a misguided focus. It can be increased simply by reducing budgets, but since promotions reduce margins, overall profitability can fall. As Peter Field said real-time marketing is all too often deal-time marketing and that just reinforces the importance for marketers to be numerate and to know their way round an income statement.

I'm still a little wary that their data-set is derived solely from IPA effectiveness award papers and I'm not clear how closely the validity of those individual papers is scrutinised. But the rigour of the analysis is praiseworthy and its lessons should be acted on by more marketers than currently seems to be the case.