Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Marketing Challenges as Inefficiencies. AKA: Bullpoop Removal.

Just for ships and giggles, let's try to categorize marketing challenges as inefficiencies.

Not the most exciting thing you can imagine right now?  OK, how about this: what [naughty word describing the manure of male cattle] would you get rid of to make working in marketing communications more fun and less arduous?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Get a Database and Get in the Game!

With the advent of cheaper computing and sharper tactics, CRM has risen from the ashes of the promises it made in the 1990s.  While many marketers once associated CRM with meager results and NASA-level costs, the approach's full capabilities have come to the fore, with companies such as Amazon and Tesco serving as glittering examples of success.

And therein lies the problem: fledgling CRM marketers look at these paragons of customer focus and throw their hands up.  These marketers feel frustrated because their own systems, data, content, personnel or management can't live up to the very best the industry has to offer.

Well, quit feeling sorry for yourself and try anyway.  Here's how.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Is Disney the World's Best Marketing Organization?

The more I watch the Disney Channel (don't judge; my kids are animals and need distraction so they don't hatch their plans of global domination), the more I respect Disney as a marketing organization.

Mobile?  They got it.  Social?  Please.  Adver-gaming?  Sport, they pretty much invented it.

No, what really blows my mind is how they manage to integrate everything.

Disney keeps most of its clips under lock and key, so let me share a recent bit of adver-torial from the channel.  China Anne McClain, star of the Disney Channel show "Ant Farm" travels to Disneyland with her real-life family.  After riding Space Mountain and the like, China and a Disney Channel host visit Downtown Disney, a shopping and entertainment complex attached to Disneyland.  Among other things, China and her host peruse Mickey Mouse t-shirts at a clothing boutique there.

As Jon Stewart might say, "see what they did there?"

Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Talk Smack to Your Clients

If you want to make French toast, you need to break eggs, right?  And, no, don't bring that Egg Beaters crap around me.

Begone, impostor!

Similarly, if you want to improve your client's marketing communication, you need to find out a way to suggest, ever-so-delicately, that their current program has, how shall I say it?  Well, that it needs...um, well, let me allow someone else to say it for me:

Thanks, Stewie

How do you criticize a client's program without calling his or her baby ugly?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Advertising and other Disasters

I nearly spit out my coffee when I got eMarketer's daily newsletter this morning.  I read this newsletter every morning because, more often than not, it has at least one insightful article about marketing tactics.  (You can send me a check, @GeoffRamsey).

That said, I turned up an eyebrow at this headline: "Case Study: With Spotify Playlist, Carnival Engages a Millennial Audience."  I have few doubts about the power of music marketing; I have many doubts about the technology-savvy Millennials' ability to ignore Carnival's more prominent appearances in the media.

Business Insider reminds us of some recent Carnival Cruise memories that probably won't make the brochure:

  • The Carnival Triumph, the infamous "poop cruise" in which the ship lost power leaving only a few toilets operable
  • The Costa Concordia, a Carnival-operated ship that ran aground off the cost of Italy, leaving 32 passengers dead
  • The 2010 incident aboard the Carnival Splendor, another generator failure that spurred from a fire (the US Navy had to deliver supplies to the ship)
So, while Carnival considered the Spotify promotion a success, having created 450 solid leads, it stands to reason that the cruise line might want to think more broadly about how to address their issues in marketing.

More to the point, how can marketing communications help rebuild a brand after a disaster?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giving the Devil his Due

Sometimes you just gotta take your hat off to a smart gimmick, even if you really, REALLY hate the folks who did it.  Witness:

Fox News does something smart.  There, I said it.

When Lyle Overbay homered over this sign in the fifth inning last Saturday (with three generations of Rothfelds in attendance), I finally noticed this sign and its genius.

For those of you not attuned to baseball's terms of art, "power" refers to what Mr. Overbay did--hitting the ball over the fence.  Thus, when the ball cleared this sign (and in turn made its way into untold highlight shows), it made a nice impression on the viewer-- Fox News = Power.

It doesn't matter that Fox has had this sign up for at least a year, judging from a recent Yankees Classics rebroadcast I saw from last year.  I also recognize that other marketers have done this before.  The Gap placed signs in--you guessed it--the gaps in left center and right center field at both Candlestick Park and AT&T Stadium.  I just give kudos to Fox News for being clever.

Now, if they were only half so clever in their analysis of national politics...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Can You Tape a Penny to a Website?

For all the jokes about Al Gore's inventing the Internet, I think we can all agree on who invested interactivity.

Lester Wunderman.

Wait, who?  You mean not Tim Berners-Lee?  Not William Gibson?  Not DARPA?

If the name Lester Wunderman seems unfamiliar to you, you probably know his best-known creation if you ever owned a record player:

Grand Funk Railroad.  Cool.

Yes, one of the founding fathers of direct marketing also invented interactivity way back in the mid-1960s.

OK, Wunderman really invented what direct marketers call an "involvement device."  Simply put, asking consumers to take an additional, essentially meaningless step, actually increased the response to the ads for Columbia House.  That is, an ad that asked consumers to tape a penny to the reply form actually got more new subscribers than a similar ad without the penny request.

I could go on to discuss why this phenomenon works (sometimes, at any rate).  However, I think we should discuss instead whether the involvement device has an analog in the digital world.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Presentation Layer is Branding for the Connected World

In my previous two posts, I discussed the limitations of using branding as the primary focus of marketing communications.  In short, the branding focus often ignores the cornucopia of information available about a brand and, perhaps more alarmingly, assumes that consumers want to engage with brands and not with content or functionality.

Before finding the solution to this problem, let's talk about something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike marketing communications, application development.  Developers create applications to help people or machines create specific tasks, such as analyzing financial trends or keeping you from drunk-dialing ex-girlfriends.

While application development takes many forms, they all have some key similarities, such as the use of a presentation layer.  The presentation layer is the part of the program that users see and interact with; the heavy-duty number crunching happens below the surface.  In all consumer-oriented applications, the thousands or millions of lines of code remain invisible.

This opacity does not mean, however, that the presentation layer does not play an important role.  The presentation layer determines how the user understands and relates to the application.  If gives him or her a concrete sense of what the application does.

By now, you should realize that, in fact, application development is at least somewhat like marketing communications.  In fact, I'll argue that presentation layer should serve as the basis for how branding works best in our connected world.