Marketing

In a search for the NEW big idea

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The Room for Big Ideas is closed for installation.
Image by John Kannenberg via Flickr

In a time and age where I can chose whether to listen to a brand or to read my friend’s status update – how can a brand get my attention?
In my opinion it is all about big ideas

Isn’t the big idea dead already?

Mark Earls believes that big ideas are dead, over used, and that we should focus on small tests and campaigns. However I am talking about differnt kind of big ideas. I am not talking about a short lived one time gig. I am talking about deeply rooted concept at the heart of the brand, that affects its dealing wiht customers, the product they build, and  the way they treat their customers.

What is a big idea?

Big ideas are concepts that beyond a product or one’s daily life, that are more important than price or features. Big ideas are ones who change the way we look at life and society. Big ideas are ones that are powerful enough to make the man on the street listen to your message. A big idea is that one story that brings value to people – not only consumers.

In some cases brands are not openly stating their big idea. In some cases they don’t even realize their big idea until the community, their users, tell them it exists.

Let’s take Twitter for example. Twitter’s big idea is communication without boundaries. This idea fueled the Iranian uprise, which in turn personified this idea. As stated before, it was a false hope in my opinion. Still it was amazing to see the energy that this idea brought to the community.

Canon and HDSLR are  another example. Canon released their 5D Mark II DSLR camera with the ability to shoot HD videos. This quickly materialized to another big idea – everybody can be a filmaker – now in an affordable way.

What isn’t a big idea?

Well, the product itself. Features, without a wider context, are merely technical parameters. They don’t improve ones life. Price is not a big idea – again, unless it is in a wider context, such as in the case of HDSLR cameras.

Also, Fun is not a big idea. Fresh is not a big idea. these are just awesome keywords for a brief. “Like” competitions are definitely not a big idea. Hiring “buzzers” is many things, big idea is not one of them.

The Time is Now

Modern western society is in a unique situation. World War II ended with the good guys wining. Communism lost the battle. Most of the western world is democratic, and relatively liberal from an economic point of view. Governments are losing their position as setters of big ideas. Yes, Obama most used word was change. But at the end of the day, nations are creating less and less big ideas that affect lives.

But people are still looking for bigger than life concepts and experiences. They want to feel that they are a part of something, something bigger than day to day life. They want to be excited!

Someone will fill the void. Brands and companies are the best candidates for that. They have the incentive and money to do it.

So what’s your big idea?


Does Like Make Us Stupid?

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like
Image by debaird™ via Flickr

In a world of likes, what is the value of engagement?
Facebook made “like” easy. Just a click. No comments, no attachment, no real interaction. Just a click.
So why do we constantly value our campaigns and social activities by this low effort measurement?
It might be that we don’t have enough tools to really understand the value and quality of our social web marketing activities.
But it might be because it is easier to count likes and fans than get to the bottom of these new tools and platforms.
And maybe it’s because we are working too hard to be cool and “social” and “new” that we forget that social marketing is at the end of the day a part of digital marketing – which in turn suppose to provide clear business value.
Engagement doesn’t matter if it doesn’t grow the business. Likes are useless if they don’t help the company to grow by either lowering costs, increasing revenues, or increasing customer satisfaction.
Digital marketers have a huge responsibility – we are ahead of the curve for most of our clients. We should always remember that at the end of the day we need to justify our retainer and project fees, with proper increase in revenues – or achievement of a clear business goal.

So, what’s the business value of Like?

Affiliate Marketing, Brands and Social Media

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A lot of exciting things happened recently, and can’t wait to tell you all about it. However they affected our blog updates, and we are now getting back to speed with that too…
The incentives of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an important tool in online marketer toolbox. Companies big and small use this method to reach new audiences effectively. The principle is simple – Company A provides incentives to everyone online to promote their product. Usually a cut of the deal is paid to the affiliate. Companies such as Amazon provide dedicated links and widgets for these partners who in turn distribute them to their audience.
Besides Amazon and other well known brands, many found affiliate marketing a profitable business in other business line such as diet and nutrition and investment tools . In many cases a small operation of two to three smart people, with strong knowledge in SEO and PPC can make a lot of money in these activities.
Affiliate marketing is in many cases more a science than art. Where everything can be measured, smart affiliate marketers optimize their efforts again and again to reach the best conversion rate possible. The ability to instantly measure every activity as well as reassign resources makes it a very dynamic business.
Some in this business are using tactics that are ethically questionable such as fake blogs and spam.
Brands are interested in creating meaningful relationships with their audience, in order to make their brand affect buying decisions.
In short, while affiliate marketing is all about one night stands with customers, branding is more like a long term relationship. More

Facebook New Marketing Rules – A Cheat Sheet

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Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Facebook is slowly removing many of the elements that made it a marketer’s wet dream.

Facebook announced several major changes that affect marketers using the platform to promote their services:
1. Splitting feeds to news feed and live feed – users see, as defualt, a feed with only content and comments from their friends. Information about groups etc was moved to a separate feed.
2. Removal of app notification – Facebook apps will not be able to send notifications to users.
These changes reduce the virality of the platform in a major way.
For example, if in the past one could invite friends to become fans of a page, and his friends would have seen that he joined, now they wouldn’t see it unless they look for it. This effect was crucial for virality of fan pages and applications. The same goes for notifications.
While many users rejoice, as they see more relevant and focused information on their feed and notification tab, marketers should rethink the way they interact in Facebook.

The two most important consequences for marketers are:

1.  Advertising becomes more important in creating traffic to Facebook applications and fan pages – without virality, paid advertisement within the platform, or in other channels, is an important part of any Facebook marketing activity

2. Fan pages and apps should provide more value to users, as it will be more difficult to attract repeat visitors.

In the next part we will discuss additional changes in the platform and what are the opportunities for marketers in this area.

HTC Shows The Real Meaning of Mobile Communication

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If you follow my blog you know that I hate HTC devices with passion.
However, their latest multimillion dollars campaign is brilliant (even though I’d change the music to something more sentimental). HTC challenge is huge – they are making many phones for many carriers. As such, they need to find a way to distinguish themselves without harming the carrier brand. They chose to go with a campaign showing how significant mobile phones are in our life.
Brilliant and to the point.

Enjoy the rest of the day.

End of Faceless Brands – The Risks

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Image representing Richard Branson as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase

In my previous post we’ve discussed the challenges that brands are facing when required to interact with their consumers directly. The main point of the post is that consumers are not satisfied anymore with presenters or low level employees, and are looking for authoritative figure to represent the company.

This post generated some very interesting comments, especially in face to face meetings I recently had with CEOs of brand and service companies.
The main point raised was that relying a company value on one person is extremely dangerous, especially for the shareholders. Many mentioned the fluctuations in Apple’s share price in response to Jobs’ health as a showcase of these dangers.

Yes, star CEOs pose a challenge to  shareholders. Larry Ellisson, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and others are the real life incarnation of their companies. Without them, they will never be the same. But the fact is that the general direction of the relationship between consumers and brands is leading to an era that is  fundamentally different than what we were used to. Companies are already having hard time hiding behind PR pros and shiny logos. Customers want to talk, be heard, and in a sense have a meaningful relationship with companies they finance.  It is getting harder and harder to differentiate in products and technology. It is the feeling that matters. And if in the past the slogans and logos did all the work – now, the  social web is changing the expectation of consumers.

Brands are already part of the game – with their Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and such.

There is no escape from the demise of faceless brands. You might as well wake up and smell the coffee.

The End of Faceless Brands?

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Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase
the end of faceless brands?
Social media, sophisticated customers, and lack of control of the conversation are all pointing to the same direction – brands can’t afford to be faceless. But now they also need a soul, a spirit and a person that people can relate to.
If in the past, brands could use anonymous models, with shiny teeth and great curves, to lure eyeballs, If in the past brands could use celebrity presenters as a pillar of emotional attachment, now things are different.
You see, when brands are involved in social media tools, they are exposing themselves. They can’t afford not to be there, but their involvement make them more accessible. Their involvement in Twitter and such has one more effect – as people using Twitter in order to communicate with friends, when a brand is getting into their personal space they expect the brands to be, well, real.
But what’s real?
People are real. Individuals in the companies that are representing the values and position of the organization. But they can’t be just a front.
AT&T’s Blogger ads, explaining why iPhone customers are facing network issues, could have been great several years ago. The ad shows an AT&T blogger who explains why there are network issues. But then people realized two important things:
1. This blogger doesn’t have any authority to solve those problems. Meaning, he is nothing more that a glorified spokesperson with touch of social glare.
2. He isn’t  even employed by AT&T
Think – who is the true face of Apple? Is it the dude from “I’m a Mac” ads, or is it Steve Jobs?
Being real is tough. Really. But brands can no longer hide behind fancy ads and shiny logos. If they want to talk – they have to keep it real.

Social media, sophisticated customers, and lack of control of the conversation are all pointing to the same direction – brands can’t afford to be faceless. But now they also need a soul, a spirit and a person that people can relate to.

If in the past, brands could use anonymous models, with shiny teeth and great curves, to lure eyeballs, If in the past brands could use celebrity presenters as a pillar of emotional attachment, now things are different.

You see, when brands are involved in social media tools, they are exposing themselves. They can’t afford not to be there, but their involvement make them more accessible. Their involvement in Twitter and such has one more effect – as people using Twitter in order to communicate with friends, when a brand is getting into their personal space they expect the brands to be, well, real.

But what’s real?

People are real. Individuals in the companies that are representing the values and position of the organization. But they can’t be just a front.

AT&T’s Blogger ads, explaining why iPhone customers are facing network issues, could have been great several years ago. The ad shows an AT&T blogger who explains why there are network issues. But then people realized two important things:

1. This blogger doesn’t have any authority to solve those problems. Meaning, he is nothing more that a glorified spokesperson with touch of social glare.

2. He isn’t  even employed by AT&T

I am certain it would have worked better if C level AT&T guy had taken the stage.

Think – who is the true face of Apple? Is it the dude from “I’m a Mac” ads, or is it Steve Jobs?

Being real is tough. Really.

But brands can no longer hide behind fancy ads and shiny logos. They need a soul.

If they want to talk – they have to keep it real.

Another great post on this topic can be found here.

Jeffery Hayzlett, Kodak's CMO about Social Web and Marketing

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Eastman Kodak Company
Image via Wikipedia

Why … do I take the time to use social media like Twitter and Facebook? …. Because there is no better way to engage the various audiences that are important in my professional and personal life.

…Your involvement in social media will grow your brand, strengthen the connection between you and your company’s key audiences, and keep you aware of what’s really happening with your business. It’s well worth the time investment….

No, these are not the quotes of a social media consultant. Refreshingly, these are the words of a CMO of a well known company. More

Twitter and Brands – Once You're in, You Can't Go Out!

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Brands using Twitter should know – It is a double edge sword. Once you are in, you can’t go out.

Positive Example – Kimpton Hotel

I was very unhappy with the first night at Kimpton’s:

Picture 18.png

After this incident, I asked for the hotel’s manager address, and emailed him a complaint. Still angry, I looked for executives in Kimpton chain, and found Niki Leondakis, the hotel’s COO. The only way I could reach out to her was through a form in their site.

I hate these forms. They are not personal, and make me feel like I am in a test or something.

Quick twitter search revealed her twitter user name. So I sent a message addressed to her (@), stating that I was very unhappy with their service. Less than an hour later she replied me, followed me and sent me her contact details using direct message. From that point onward things went smoothly with the hotel staff and we reached a resolution for the weekend incident. Only later the hotel’s twitter team (yes, they have something like that) reached out.

The fact that an executive from the company was involved in resolving the situation, and that I had direct connection to her, improved my overall views on this hotel.

Another place you can’t leave

Negative Example – Roger Smith Hotel

Yes, I praised them in the past, but recently they turned bad. In the last trip I tried reaching out for them several times on Twitter without success.

Conclusions

1. Twitter can save your public image and increase customer satisfaction if used right – Niki’s Twitter responses turned me from an unsatisfied customer to a one writing this post.

2. Once your are in, you can’t go out – Roger Smith’s past twitter activity make their customer expect them to be responsive on this platform. When they stopped being responsive, they caused disappointment more than anything else, bigger than if they weren’t active at all on twitter.

What are your customer related Twitter experiences?

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Social Media Marketing: 4 Must haves for Successful Corporate Blogging

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Corporate blogging is increasingly becoming a low cost alternative to traditional marketing tools. However, many projects fail, due to lack of understanding of the medium.

What are the 4 key steps for a successful corporate blogging project? More