Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Brian Solis on the true meaning/purpose of social media

In Ideas on September 30, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Epic post by Brian Solis, a leader in our industry. Like Chris Brogan (see below) Brian advocates, and practices, a hands on approach to social media.

Social media, true social media, goes beyond the platforms and applications. It goes beyond a mere dialogue with consumers. It’s about living a core belief in the power of a shared “revelation that we the people have a voice and through the democratization of content and ideas, we can once again unite people around common passions, inspire movement, and ignite change.”

Now ask yourself: Am I truly commited to the above statement, or am I just trying to sell one more unit of product X?

Chris Brogan on Utilizing Social Media Outposts

In Ideas on September 30, 2008 at 12:48 pm

 A real nice ‘how to’/’news you can use’ style post from Chris Brogan on utilizing social media to your benefit. I have tremendous respect for Chris because he is the antithesis of the old adage – “Those that can do, those that can’t teach.”  Chris can certainly do, but he is also a great teacher. I highly recommend following him on Twitter. There’s a reason 15,000+ already do.

Oh, and you can follow me on Twitter too!

The (Sports Marketing) World Is Flat: Ugly Stik

In Insight on September 30, 2008 at 11:01 am
Ugly Stik bends over backwards to please the die hard angler

Ugly Stik bends over backwards to please the die hard angler

Great story on Brand Channel about fishing rod manufacturer Shakespeare and their iconic Ugly Stik fishing rod. Here’s the money quote:

Essentially, this is the foundation of Ugly Stik’s success: It delivers an exceptional product, at a reasonable cost, to those who are looking for just such a product and doesn’t waste its time with those who are not. This humble strategy has made Ugly Stik the bestselling rod on the market today.

The lesson: Make an exceptional product that delivers for die hards and you can eventually become a market leader with tremendous brand loyalty.

The Physics of Marketing: Huygen’s Principle

In Insight on September 30, 2008 at 9:50 am

Take a swing over to David Bowman’s site, for his latest Physics of Marketing entry: Huygen’s Principle, and find out what a 17th century Dutch physicist has to do with Word of Mouth marketing.

City of Ember: A missed DINU opportunity

In DINU on September 29, 2008 at 9:10 am
Not a bright idea

CoE TV commercial: Not a bright idea

Late last week the marketers behind the City of Ember were pushing a commercial that featured Bill Murray, a star of the film, as a political candidate in a style very similar to traditional political ads we see today, complete with an “… and I approved this message,” ending.

I’m not familiar with the City of Ember franchise, but this ad was nothing more than an attempt at the quick laugh and in doing so they sacrificed the opportunity to build a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU). City of Ember (CoE)doesn’t have the cultural awareness of Harry Potter, so for many this ad was their first interaction with CoE. The following questions would naturally come up from watching the commercial:

Is this movie a comedy? It stars Bill Murray and the ad is a joke on current political ads.

Is this a political movie? The ad has a highly political tone.

A little investigation (thanks Wikipedia) shows CoE to be a young adult novel series of a dystopian future. That sounds really cool, and something I might take my nine-year old son to see. But why not build upon that with the ad? They’ve broken the potential magic and completely taken me out of what I imagine is a really well crafted fictional environment for the sake of a cheap laugh.

The lesson here is that you shouldn’t risk the overwhelming effort to create a fully realized fictional universe on an ad campaign. Any short-term gain is outweighed by the loss in mystery, aura and authenticity.

Tactics v. Strategy

In Insight on September 28, 2008 at 12:09 pm

The terms tactics and strategy get thrown around a lot. We heard them in the first McCain-Obama debate on Friday, and I hear them at work as we discuss what and how we are going to help our clients. Putting aside personal political feelings for a moment, I think Senator Obama was correct purely from a rhetorical standpoint when he described the surge as a tactic rather than a strategy. Let’s break this down for moment.

Just like in a marketing campaing, you have to begin with an objective:

Increase sales or eliminate hostile miliatry threat.

From that objective you develop a strategy:

Generate greater brand awareness or invade enemy country.

That strategy is supported by tactics:

Hire a high profile spokesperson or increase troop levels (the surge).


What I saw in the presidential debate is something I see in the marketing world all the time, a confusion over what is a tactic and what is a strategy.  Can a flawed strategy, supported by solid tactics produce results? Yes, but only in the short term. Can flawed tactics generate positive results for a superior stategy? No, but a strong strategy allows for course correction. Events on the ground, whether they be in battle or the marketplace will inevitably lead to changes in tactics. The key is to have a clearly defined objective and a strategy (or strategies) that directly support achieving your objective. The more precise you are about your objective and the more clearly thought out your strategies, the easier it will be to identify tactics that will lead to success.

But it bears repeating: In your tactics, your on-the-ground executions, you need to be flexible enough to read the situation as it unfolds and make decisions to adjust when and where necessary. That goes for your brand as much as it does for our country.


Update: See more on this here and here at Huffington Post.

Update 2: The strategy – tactics debate gets more play here and here from James Fallows.

Bagels, Donuts & Cupcakes

In Insight on September 25, 2008 at 9:07 am
Mmmm, donut

Mmmm, donut

Ask a person where they go for donuts and more than likely you’ll get the following answer: “Dunkin’ Donuts.” Maybe, “Krispy Kreme” (are they still around?). Ask a person where they go for bagels and more than likely you’ll get the following answer: “Oh, we have the best bagel place in out town.” And that place is invariably a local mom & pop shop that may, or may not, have great bagels, but you aren’t going to hear too many people name a chain like Einstein Bros. or Manhattan Bagels.

Why is that? Donuts and bagels seem pretty similar to me. Morning focus, good with coffee, similar ingredients and costs of production I wouls assume. I’m not as concerned about the lack of a national bagel chain, but why don’t you see more ‘artisinal’ donut shops? Yes, there are independent donut shops, but those are usually run down, highway truck stops that haven’t put an ounce of consideration into their product in 25 years. Oh, I’m sure there are exceptions out there but I think they would only serve to prove this rule. I’ve lived in a couple of different towns in various parts of the country, and while I can always find a decent independent bagel store, I rarely if ever see a quality donut shop.

When I presented this little morning food quirk to a colleague she noted that perhaps the cupcake had filled this ‘artisinal’ treat void. Ah, very insightful I thought. Yes, especially here in New York this seems to be the case. Places like Magnolia Bakery have indeed reached a level of notoriety, even to the point where there is a social networking group called Cupcakes Take the Cake.

It’s worthwhile to think about your competitors and the marketplace. Your competition isn’t always someone selling the exact same item, but rather someone selling something that fulfills the exact same consumer need.

I smell a trend: Narrative Perfume

In DINU on September 24, 2008 at 12:29 pm

As you know, I’m all about the Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe. For the most part, that includes seeing, hearing, touching and maybe tasting a brand. But not very often are the olfactory senses engaged to tell a story. Marketing opporunity? Some think so. Grant McCracken tips us of to Etat Libre D’Orange, a frangrance company that takes a different approach to perfume. I really can’t do the brand, the site or the descriptions of the scents justice, you have to check it out. They have fantastic descriptions of the perfumes that can best be described as: If Victoria’s Secrets wrote the J. Peterman Catalog.

A sampling of the names of the scents: Magnificent Secretions, Real Blonde, Hotel Slut, Anti-Hero & Praise of a Traitor.

Perfumes have always been about fantasy, but increasingly they have become about slapping a celebrities name on something manufactured in a lab in New Jersey. Etat Libre D’Orange bring the mystery back to the category in a completely unique way.

But wait, there’s more. Read the following on Andrew Sullivan’s blog today:

Endorphin branding is the use of scent as a means of imprinting a highly emotional, positive experience in tandem with a targeted signature scent, which can be reintroduced at a later time to trigger and recreate the desired response. This strategy should be implemented at political events, which are positively charged environments ripe for this type of scent branding.

This presidential election has already seen historic, innovative campaign efforts, particularly Senator Obama’s use of the Internet to raise funds and communicate his messages. A multi-faceted, scented campaign could provide the edge one of these candidates needs to help gain victory in November.

This comes from a Newsweek article highly sceptical of the concept.  I’m not so sure though. I remember when the Mirage Hotel & Casino opened in  Las Vegas. The air was infused with the smell of Pina Colada. I think using scent to tell a story, or at least to add another dimension to a story is a powerful idea. I’m sure the smell of a Nike Store or Ralph Lauren store could help tell their stories in a new manner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this.

A comment on comments

In Ideas, Insight on September 23, 2008 at 10:47 am

Marketing types, and I’ll generously include myself in this group, like to talk about ‘the conversation’ and ‘the dialogue’ between consumers and brands. I try to read a variety of marketing/branding/PR/Advertising blog and have noticed something: Many of the blogs have very few comments. Here’s a very unscientific survey – I looked at the front page of several blogs, looked at the number of posts and the total number of comments:

PSFK: Posts:36, Comments: 57 (Avg. # comments per post: 1.58)

Brand Autopsy: Posts: 30, Comments: 192 (Avg. # comments per post: 6.4)

Influential Marketing Blog: Posts 10, Comments: 36 (Avg. # comments per post: 3.6)

Murketing: Posts 15, Comments: 7 (Avg. # comments per post: .47)

Grant McCracken: Posts 14, Comments 65 (Avg. # comments per post: 4.64)

Eyecube: Posts 10, Comments 7 (Avg. # comments per post: .7)

Online Marketer Blog: Posts 5, Comments 24 (Avg. # comments per post: 4.8)

Again, this is a rather arbitrary analysis. I think all of the above are super smart people who all have a different approach and style.

Let’s take a look at the Top five blogs on the AdAge Power 150 to see what that looks like under the same litmus test:

Read the rest of this entry »

Stonehenge Mystery Solved = Stonehenge Interest Lost

In Insight on September 23, 2008 at 9:06 am
Take two monoliths and call me in the morning

Take two monoliths and call me in the morning

Sometimes science is the enemy of the marketer. Word from the UK today that scientists have ‘solved’ the mystery of Stonehenge. No, not how the huge stones got there, but why. It seems the Bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in South West Wales were thought to have healing powers. Theses were then brought to the sight of Stonehenge where they attracted pilgrims in search of cures for their ailments, as well as those who believed they could administer the healing. The scientists were also able to narrow down the dates they believe the stones were put in place.

While all this is excellent news in the field of science and history, I think it is a step in the wrong direction for those who market Stonehenge. As a consumer the mystery is gone once I read these articles.  Perhaps it will open new opportunities and a cottage industry will blossom around the idea of the medicinal power of Stonehenge.  Regardless, it’s important to understand the balance between giving your consumers all the information they want about your brand, and keeping some of the mystery as well.