Archive for January, 2012

Delicate Dialogue

DATE: January 6th, 2012

I just have to get this off my chest.

Terry O’Reilly’s new CBC show, Under the Influence, is tagged as the delicate dialogue between the customer and the company. It’s very fashionable. In the age of social media, consumers can, without a question, influence products.

But let’s remember the power of marketing to influence.

Steve Jobs used this mantra: “How does the consumer know what they want unless we tell them?”

Today’s marketers must walk the delicate balance of dialogue and decision. Even in today’s social media biased environment, the spreadsheet tells the story. Romney, who placed almost last in social media dialogue, won the Iowa primary. While a lot of people showed their support through quick and easy social media apps — the people who got in their car, drove to the polling station and actually voted made the decision. A surprising one if pollsters were counting on a parallel between social media and actions.

Today’s creative marketer must integrate the learning, listening to the dialogue and believing the spreadsheets. In the end, we need to sell our product or service.

Happy New Year

DATE: January 2nd, 2012

At the dawn of 2012, we shake off the sweet memories of chocolate and Christmas pudding, New Year’s Eve fireworks, wine and food and family… and get back to work.

I made Jello with raspberries for Christmas dinner. I wanted to see the sticky sweet redness melt into mouth watering turkey and merge with rich turkey gravy. Because it reminded me of Christmas at my grandma’s house.

So I have had my moment to look back…

It’s time to move foreward…

On January 2, 2012 the economy continues to stutter. Europe’s struggle throws a shadow on Canadian confidence. Americans are tentatively hopeful that the housing market has hit the lowest ebb and that the 2% increase of the past months is a sign of a turn around. Almost 7 million people activated smart phones and tablets over the holidays. More than $35 billion was purchased on-line. Markets continue to believe that the future in on-line and digital.

Barefoot is investing in technology and talent.

But we are not stopping there… we believe that the future of marketing is:

1. Relevance

2. Agility

3. Imagination

Forever Lazy eclipsed the Snuggie this year. Next year, the  cozy fleece lounge wear will be a hilarious video and somewhat embarrassing memory. And something else will find its way to the shopping channel.

If you are building a serious business, your product/service must be relevant. Your marketing must be relevant. The digital world, here to stay, has had its fling with Angry Bird — and there will be another Diversion for game addicts to use as an amusing time waster. But long term, business growth comes from your ability to be relevant in product and in pitch. I have many opportunities to engage in conversations about new business ideas. Too often, the entrepreneur¬† has not thought about relevance.

About a decade ago, my brother (a voice actor) did the voice over for a commercial for a canned tuna salad product. The commercial was cool and caught the attention of many people. The produce seemed to be relevant in a time pressed society. But the product tasted horrible. The ad got people to the store, but it was a one off. This Christmas, we were able to double and triple the web traffic for a client by advertising. Yet the overall sales did not increase as much as we hoped. The offer was relevant enough to draw potential customers. We now have to study the web site, the product mix and the overall product quality to understand why sales only increased marginally.

I get hundreds of emails. I actively follow Twitter. I browse Facebook. I read blogs. I am online between 6 and 12 hours a day (maybe more, but that’s just pathetic). I am becoming more and more impatient with irrelevant messages.

In the 90’s, marketers were agog with CRM (Customer Relationship Marketing). The rise of Direct Response allowed for personalization through digital print. We have even greater knowledge and flexibility for personalization today — but we are wasting our efforts by sending out “blasts” instead of personalized versions of our messaging. Relevance will lead to engaged customers. That means you need to understand what the customer wants. Talk to them. Engage them. Listen to them. Begin to think about your marketing in an integrated fashion.

In today’s digital market we need to be AGILE. But as RIM found, some things don’t turn around on a dime. Product needs time to be developed, designed and produced. Agility requires integrated tactics that embrace the whole corporation. Clever, agile marketers understand the influence of each product line and message. They understand the benefit of a strong brand and are able to introduce each product, service and concept to the audience within the strength of that brand.

And they have to do it fast.

Agile marketers take the time to test and analyze. Focus group information is vital — but testing customer response by real time reports will tell you a lot more. What the customer/donor says isn’t always what the customer/donor does. Testing and analyzing may be tedious and old school — but it will help you build agility into your game.

We idealize imagination. We talk about Steve Jobs as if he was a guru of imagination. But he really his brilliance was his gut inspired instinct. He understood the power of design and marketing and positioned his product boldly. I want to be careful how we idealize imagination. Imagination starts with a goal. Brilliant minds understand where they want to go and have a pretty good idea of how to get there. They they apply imagination to their knowledge to reach their goal.

Today’s environment is intriguingly void of imagination. When my boys were teenagers, they regularly hosted LAN parties. Back in those days, it meant that they had to network a whole bunch of different computers — by hard wiring them together. The lack of consistent protocols meant that it would take hours before they were up and running. Today — they just play in an interactive web environment. They can have the same group experience with absolutely no effort. Their teenage experience prepared them for careers in IT — because they imagined a roomful of friends all playing the same game, they found a way to work around the challenges. They had a goal, they understood the rudiments of the system — then, by applying imagination, they were able to do it.

Relevance, agility and imagination are critical.

Yes, our world is changing. It is faster, bigger and more connected.

My New Years Resolution?

To learn, to listen, to watch, to understand … and to apply new ideas with relevance, agility and imagination.