Thursday, December 23, 2010

The internet is worth less

That the internet is continuing to consume more of our time and advertisers dollars is undeniable.

Earlier this year it was reported that people spend as much time on the internet, 13 hours per week, as they do watching TV. And according to Ad Age, the internet has surpassed newspapers in ad revenue.

Yet, while everyone is rushing to get their message online, there's still no clear definition of what a successful campaign looks like.

It's not eyeballs. The New York Times website is one of the most visited online, yet it's never been profitable.

It's not engagement. Millions of people have interacted with Burger King's Subservient Chicken over the years, yet they're still a distant number two to McDonald's.

Even with all it's great promise of behavioral tracking and measurability the internet is still unproven as a sales and revenue driver for advertisers. Want proof? People question the value of advertising with the smash hit Groupon, while Google is willing to offer billions to buy the service.

Yes, it will all settle down and people will find out what the internet is really worth. But right now it's only worth what advertisers are willing to pay. And according to them, it's worth less.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Invention is the mother of necessity

I never knew I needed one of these, but now I do.

True innovation does that. It creates a need where none could be expressed before. 

Early man existed just fine foraging for food and didn't need meat until fire was invented and it could be flame-broiled for deliciousness.

Business worked just fine with regular mail, until Fedex invented overnight delivery and then suddenly everything needed to be there the next day.

No one needed thousands of songs in their pocket and then Apple invented the iPod and iTunes and the music industry changed overnight.

I've used a shovel to remove snow for my past 25 years of home ownership always thinking of a better way. But, as Henry Ford is famously quoted saying, "If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." I know why snow throwers never interested me. Sure they're easier, but I still have to put on my heavy coat and boots and brave the cold.

It turns out what I really want is to remove the snow from my driveway and sidewalks from the comfort of my living room.

What do your customers and potential customers really want?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If it ain't broke, fix it anyway

I'm not one to advocate change for change's sake, but if you put your product out there thinking that it's perfect and it's always going to be perfect, it won't be long before you're in panic mode.

Examples abound of products that have launched to great fanfare, served their consumers well, and then while their corporate owners were counting their riches, a competitor swooped in with a better idea and stole market share out from under them.

Sears and K-Mart ruled retailing until, while sitting on their huge piles of cash, they were crushed by the logistical brilliance of WalMart.

Toyota was on cruise control until they decided being big was more important that being good. Now Ford and Hyundai are filling their mirrors with products that are different and better.

That's what makes Apple, Intel and recently Ford such strong brands. They embrace change, introducing new products before their old ones feel tired. Staying ahead of the market and forcing competitors to follow them.

No matter how good your product is, it can always be better. No matter how happy your customer is, she can always be happier. The trick is to find out how and deliver it before your competitors do. And you better hurry, because they're working on it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lying is a lousy marketing strategy.

When you were a kid and you did something stupid then lied about it to your parents, the lie always made it so much worse.

I think we can each remember a parent saying, "it's not (your bad act here) that has me so upset. It's that you think I'm so stupid that you thought you could get away with it by lying."

Consumers feel pretty much the same way. 

From Toyota to BP, brands that screwed up then covered up this year ended up costing themselves much more than if they had just admitted their mistakes, fixed them and moved on.

Just one of the lessons to be learned from this year in marketing.