Friday, May 18, 2012

Size may not matter, but positioning does.

It's Friday. The weekend lies ahead. So I figured I'd share a video that provides a public service to all those single people out there.

Who knew there was such a thing as a socially responsible condom company? But there you have it.

Bravo, Sir Richard's. Bravo.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Five ways to make twitter work for you

I'll admit it. I've kinda gotten into this twitter thing. I'm no Rainn Wilson, but I have over 400 followers. I follow a few hundred interesting people. I also participate in a couple of tweet chats a week on branding and innovation.

It's been about a year and here's what I've learned works when it comes to building a community and even attracting business on Twitter.

1. Give
This is open source communication. You only get something of value from Twitter when you give something of value first. Give your knowledge away. Give your opinions. Give your experience. Give your advice. At 140 characters, it's not too big a burden to give what you can.

2. Accept
Take what others are willing to give. Read the articles they share. View their videos. Listen to their advice. There's a lot to learn from these short bursts of communications if you're willing to listen.

3. Ask
Have a question on a project? Need to find an expert on thermodynamics? Want a recommendation for a great restaurant in Kuala Lumpur? No matter what you need to know, there's probably someone in your network who either has the answer or is connected to someone who does.

4. Share
Share articles. Retweet interesting tweets. Post the occasional photo. Don't be afraid to share some things that aren't strictly business. Your followers want to know the person behind the avatar.

5. Thank
Take a moment to thank those who retweet your content, those who answer your questions, those who follow you and those who you follow. Do it publicly so everyone knows who's adding value to the community.

Twitter isn't a silver bullet to help you build your business, but it's a great place to learn, connect and share ideas with people who you may never otherwise interact with. It makes the world smaller and more efficient. And sometimes, as is the case with @Rainnwilson's tweets, it's good for a laugh.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why Facebook ads don't work for GM

Yesterday, the world's second largest car company decided Facebook ads weren't effective while the world's most profitable auto maker said they were.

What's going on here?

Facebook isn't working for General Motors because their marketing strategy doesn't align with the platform. There's no logical connection between their off-line marketing and the on-line social network.

Ford, on the other hand, uses Facebook, among other things, to extend the conversation created by their "Swap Your Ride" campaign.

GM cutting Facebook ad dollars makes sense given that their strategy doesn't align well with the platform. 

Just because Facebook is big, just because it's in the news, just because it works for Ford, doesn't mean it's right for GM.

That's the sign of a professional marketer. They let the strategy drive the tactics, not the other way around.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dishing without commercials

Last week Dish Network added Auto Hop to it's Hopper DVR. With one click, viewers can automatically skip commercials on prime time shows they've recorded from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

Those who hate commercials (most of America) think this is a good thing. Those who understand that nothing in life is free (about 10 people) wonder who's going to pay for commercial-free entertainment.

We all know the old model for TV unsustainable. Yes, advertisers are expected to spend upwards of $70 billion this year on commercial time across all broadcast and cable platforms. Yet for the most part ads are seen as an annoyance by viewers and with today's technology they're very easy to avoid.

Programming that doesn't have to be watched in real time, which is just about everything except live sports, can be found on Netflix, Hulu Plus and other distribution platforms without commercials days or at worst weeks after their initial air dates. Current DVR technology allows anyone to zoom through spots in seconds. Does anyone doubt that it won't be long until auto skipping is common on all DVRs and all channels?

Neither the networks nor production companies are looking forward to this future. Advertising has been a consistent and very profitable source of revenue for both.

Advertisers, though they grumble about the cost, love all the attention their products get when they interrupt your favorite show and won't be happy to see this model disappear either.

So what's the alternative? Pay-per-view programming where you get nicked a couple of bucks an episode or $20 a season for shows like Mad Men, Two and a Half Men or 60 Minutes? While that might have incredible social benefits by lowering the amount of TV watched in most households, it wouldn't make anyone happy.

The networks lose revenue, production companies lose funding, advertisers lose their biggest platform to make people aware of their products, and viewers have to think about whether what they're watching is actually worth their time and money.

Ultimately, what may happen is that the networks themselves may become obsolete. They served a purpose providing a way to bring shows and advertisers together. Their programming and development staffs nurtured shows like Cheers and Seinfeld that needed time to find their voice and grow and audience. But in today's world of infinite choice and non-stop channel surfing, people create their own "networks" choosing which shows to watch and when to watch them.

Given the incredible data gathering capabilities of cable and mobile devices, fewer and more relevant ads could be inserted at fewer points in the programs. This should in theory cut down on waste and make each ad unit more valuable.

Blowing up a 64 year old industry and starting over is never easy, but in the case of network television and advertising industries it's going to happen. The only question is who's going to do it? Those who control the system now or an outside player who isn't encumbered by billions of dollars of infrastructure and decades of organizational inertia.

My guess is the latter.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Advocates do it for love, not money

You can't have a conversation about marketing these days without someone bringing up the need to create "Brand Advocates."

As the term suggests advocates are people who are not employed by your company yet talk positively about your brand in conversations with their friends either in person or online in fora like blogging, Facebook, Linked In and Twitter.

Advocates are a wonderful asset. The perceived third-party nature of their endorsements enhances the credibility of their reviews and recommendations, making them more effective than traditional marketing tactics. We all have friends who tell us how great their iPhones are, how much they love their Ford, how easy it is to use TurboTax, etc. As marketers we all know how valuable advocates can be.

The question is, "how do you create brand advocates?"

It's simple really: create a product, service, or experience worth talking about. That's it.

Solve a problem in a remarkable way. Create a polarizing design. Offer service that goes above and beyond anyone's expectations. Those are a few of the paths to creating customers who not only use your products, but are happy tell the world about them.

You don't create brand advocates by paying "influencers," offering rebates, or other marketing incentives.

If you have to pay people to say nice things about your product, they're not advocates, they're whores.