Friday, December 28, 2007

Recognition Marketing - What To Look Out For In 2008

Be Prepared For The New Year

By David Miranda

2008 will be an interesting year. It is a presidential election year with the most diverse slate of candidates in a generation. US. economic growth is slowing. World oil prices remain high. Toyota is expected to claim GM's long-held spot as the world's Number One automaker. The American dollar is soft against major world currencies. Credit is getting tighter after the sub-prime debacle. The Summer Olympic Games will be held in Beijing. Yes, it should be an interesting year, but there are a few areas that a marketer should pay special attention to since they will have a dynamic impact on marketing strategy moving forward. These include:

  1. The privacy issue - The assault on privacy has been both overt (opt-in/opt-out programs); covert (Patriot Act; data collection such as from cookies without the expressed prior approval of the consumer) over the past few years and criminal (ID theft, mishandled, stolen or lost consumer data occuring both in the public and private sectors. Marketing Implication: The Do-Not-Call List will be followed by Do-Not-Email, Do-Not-Mail, and Do-Not-Text lists, etc, etc.. Opt-in programs will become the norm. It will be more difficult in the future to get consumers to provide confidential information and there will be more government oversight due to consumer backlash. Search engines and other web sites will be required to get a consumer's prior approval to collect data from personal searches, browsing/surfing, etc. Bottom line: Advantage to the consumer.

  2. The copyright issue - As this article is written, there is a prolonged writer's strike that has put the brakes on many productions in Hollywood. The main sticking point? Writers want a piece of the revenue derived from new channels of distribution of their work, e.g. the internet, mobile, podcasts, etc. Video-sharing sites, like YouTube, are the targets of litigation regarding copyright infringement with the copyright owners demanding either compensation or removal of their protected material. Other owners of copyrighted material such as magazines, newspapers, book publishers, etc. are seeking financial remedies for the unauthorized use of their content by third parties. Marketing implication: The free ride is over for those financially benefitting from using unauthorized copyrighted content. It is the distributor of the content who must either pay or do without. This includes search engines, audio & video sharing sites, etc. Bottom line: Look for a change in current business models.

  3. Great ideas will cut through media clutter - Media channels have proliferated and will continue to do so as newer channels, like mobile, find their critical mass audience. Consumers, using new technology, are now determining their own individual media consumption patterns. In this world of uber-choice and uber-noise, great creativity is the key factor in cutting through the clutter. Marketing implication: Great ideas will be the most valuable marketing currency for a brand. Bottom Line: If your marketing is very, very, very good, it's not going to be good enough. It must be great, driven by world-class creativity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Media Spam - "Give A Hoot, Don't Pollute"

Stop Buying Media From "Purchasing Agents"

By David Miranda

I was watching the film, "The Family Man" the other night on NBC. Actually, I was watching ads and promos interrupted periodically by "The Family Man". I thought it was just my imagination that after, literally, every ten minutes of the film (edited for television to fit the time slot), I was exposed to roughly six ads and two promos over the course of the film. How do I know that? I decided to keep a log. It went something like this - 10 minutes of the movie-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-promo-promo-ten minutes of the movie-ad-ad-ad-promo-promo-ad-ad-ad, etc, etc.

What media planner/buyer in their right mind or advertiser in their right mind thinks that this is a smart way to engage a viewer? Sure NBC and the local affiliate got their dough, but only because the people placing the media buy and their accomplices in this stupidity, the advertiser, never thought about the viewer experience and the dilution of the message in the clutter.

This example is a great value proposition for Tivo. Is there any wonder why audiences are eroding. What person in their right mind is going to sit through six to eight ads and promos - every 10 to 12 minutes? How effective could these ads and promos be?

Here is the problem. Media planning and buying pros are negotiating "efficient" buys and networks and their affiliates are slicing the programming pie in more and more pieces to accommodate. The only people winning in this mad, mad world are the media buying people and the media properties themselves. Neither the advertiser nor the audience is well-served.

It's sheer madness and it's not just television - media pollution is everywhere.

Consumers need a "media environmental protection agency" to stop this pollution and we are almost at that point. Think Tivo, do-not-call lists, spam blockers, pop-up ad filters, iPods, etc. All are tools to help consumers "tune out and tune off" the media pollution. Is it any wonder that consumers today are harder to reach than ever before?

The solution lies in advertisers using common sense. They should not be "pied-pipered" by media planners/buyers or media companies into just getting "the most efficient media buy". How about the most effective media buy that showcases effective and compelling creative? Creative that is not shoe-horned in a media slot like sardines.

If your media planner/buyer touts the cheapness of the buy, like a purchasing agent of commodities, over the effectiveness of the buy, do yourself a favor - dump him or her. Find someone who considers the experience of your audience first.

To borrow from a wise old owl - "Give a hoot, don't pollute".

Thursday, November 8, 2007

SNL Digital Short: "The Budget Meeting"

This digital short from Saturday Night Live speaks for itself.

It is a hilarious parody of all the ridiculous meetings we've all attended at one time or another (or will continue to attend).

Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The New Caveat Emptor - Marketing On Blogs, Social Networking And User-Generated-Content Sites

Recognizing The Opportunity Is Great But So Are The Risks



We have entered a brave, new world for brands - the world of blogs, social-networking sites (MySpace, Facebook), and user-generated-content sites (YouTube). These are new, powerful channels allowing anyone and everyone to share thoughts, opinions, truths, lies, half-truths, and rumors with the world with impunity. And once it's out there, it's out there.

Recently their impact has been seen in a number of areas - politics (influencing political agendas both for and against candidates), entertainment (promoting new movie releases and exposing some anti-social behavior by Messrs. Gibson and Richards), and civil rights (videos of alledged police brutality) for example.

Some brands have announced pilots to explore these channels for marketing purposes using both overt and stealth methods. Stealth meaning sponsoring bloggers to promote their brands in the course of their blogging without the customary disclosures of being a paid spokesperson. This has been given the term - flogging.

Make no mistake about it, there is great promise to these new channels for brands, but there are also great risks and the risks must be qualified or there are immeasurable consequences - a Pandora's Box.

Here are suggestions to avoid problems when working with these new channels
  1. Brands must have absolute control over the editorial environment it chooses to be a part of. Sponsoring a channel that exercises no control over what it posts with regard to generally acceptable social behavior and good taste could result in a consumer backlash against the brand despite later apologies and cessation of the sponsorship. This is not a matter of stepping on anyone's First Amendment rights to free speech. It is a matter of being empathetic to the sensitivities of consumers.

  2. A brand deciding to use these new channels should appoint an ombudsman to oversee these channels on the brand's behalf. The role of the ombudsman is to resolve issues where the brand and the channel are in disagreement. This must be done before the fact not after "the horses are out of the barn".

  3. Insure the sponsorship of the channel is transparent for consumers with proper disclosures on the nature of the relationship.
  4. Demand measurement metrics for the investment audited by a third party.

  5. Negotiate a quick out termination clause if the brand is threatened. Don't pass GO. Don't collect $200. Get out fast.

Can these channels be an important component of a brand's marketing mix. Of course, but new channels require more oversight and scrutiny. This responsibility cannot be delegated to third parties. There is simply too much at stake.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The State Of Advertising - We Miss You Mr. Ogilvy

The "The Father Of Advertising" Would Be Appalled At The State Of His Beloved Industry

By David Miranda

David Ogilvy, considered by many to the Father Of Advertising, penned the "little red book" of advertising, "Confessions Of An Advertising Man" in 1963, yet his wisdom, insights, and advice still ring true today. Mr. Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy, Benson, and Mather, passed away in 1999 at the grand old age of 88 after a legendary career on Madison Avenue.

Here are quotes from the master:

On Advertising: "I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be."

On Advertising Effectiveness: "Ninety-nine percent of advertising doesn't sell much of anything."

On Consumers: "The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife. It is flagrantly dishonest for an advertising agent to urge consumers to buy a product which he would not allow his own wife to buy. "

On Advertising By Committees: "Committees can criticize advertisements, but they should never be allowed to create them."

On Creativity: "If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative."

On Using Judgement vs. Research: "I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination."

On Setting Goals: "Don't bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals."

On Hiring Talent: "If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants. Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine."

On Clients: "I avoid clients for whom advertising is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their advertising appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes."

Mr. Ogilvy, we'll try to do better.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Future Of Search - Local And Niche

The Next Generation Of Search Will Be More Localized And Specialized

By David Miranda

As someone once said, "the more things change, the more they remain the same" and such is the case for the burgeoning search environment.

Media uber-fragmentation has given us countless television shows, cable channels, niche magazines, radio stations, web sites, and blogs on just about every subject and interest imaginable. General interest has given way to special interest. Today's most powerful programmer is the consumer each with their own distinct media consumption pattern including the devices they choose to consumer the media on. Getting the news is no longer confined to TV, radio, or print. Watching TV is no longer confined to the TV. Listening to music is no longer confined to terrestial radio or CD's.

With this fragmentation of media and their respective audiences, marketers have been challenged to find new ways and means to reach their targeted audiences. The most popular choice has been the internet and on the internet the most popular choice has been search.

Today, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL represent over 90% of paid search revenue with Google being the 800 pound gorilla in the sector.

But things are changing in search and time will tell who will exploit this change.

The change is search becoming more locally and niche relevant for the consumer rather than the open-ended search model that dominates today's environment.

If one is searching for travel, for example, is the consumer more likely to go to Google or search Expedia, Travelocity, or Orbitz? A comparable search for "airline tickets" or "cruises" on Google and Expedia will tell the tale. Similarly, if one is searching for a Chicago DUI attorney, is the consumer more likely to go to Yahoo or search "chicago dui attorneys.com"?

Good marketing is relevant and all marketing is local. The future success of search will be premised on existing or new competitors to deliver both. Local and niche are the Achilles Heels of the big guys leaving daylight for aggressive competitors to exploit.

Doing Your Own Thing - It's A Leap Of Fate

An Open Letter To Those Who Are Contemplating Making The Jump To Control Their Own Destiny

By David Miranda

It's inevitable for those with talent and experience to ponder the possibility of "doing your own thing". It is the most exciting (and scary) consideration in anyone's life. Musings, however, are plagued with self-doubt, timing, fear of the unknown, fear of failure and on and on and on. Those with steady and fruitful employment consider the security of the steady paycheck and the natural procrastination that ensues by rationalizing that it might be better to consider it at some future date when they have more money in the bank account and more experience under their belts.

Although one should always consider the practical side of going out on your own, it is, generally, this thing called fate that is the most powerful influencer in controlling one's own destiny. Think about your own life up to this point. Chances are you are where you are because of a serendipity of people, events, circumstances and the resulting choices you made - not some master plan you developed.

There are two types of people in the world - those that just dream and those that make their dreams come true. Walt Disney, the great dream maker, once said "You can dream, create, and build the most wonderful thing in the world, but its takes people to make the dream a reality."

Take marketing, for example.

The traditional marketing model (TV, radio, print, etc) is broken and a new marketing landscape is being created before our very eyes; enabled by new techology and a myriad of marketing media and channels. Brands, both large and small, are desperately searching for new creative ways to reach a harder-to-reach audiences. In this environment, those with the talent and experience will prosper. So go prosper.

Bottom line for those considering the jump from employee to employer - do it now before you become too comfy and risk-averse. It should be noted that the older one gets, the least likely one is to do it. That's why you meet a lot of old people using language like "I was gonna" or "I should've" or "I wish I had" as they look in that rear view mirror called hindsight.

So take that leap of fate into the marketing pool of opportunity. The water's great.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Recognition Marketing Buzz Meter - Week Ending 8/12/07

The Following Are The Winners & Losers For The Past Week:

Winners

  • Tiger Woods - wins 13th Major, 4th PGA Championship
  • Hillary Clinton - widens lead on the field
  • Mitt Romney - wins Iowa Straw Poll
  • Hank Aaron - class act taped memorable congratulatory video on Barry Bond's 756th
  • Richard Branson - Virgin America begins service
  • Buick - ties perennial leader Lexus for Top Spot on J.D. Power Ratings
  • Rupert Murdoch - wins control of Dow Jones
  • Tom Glavine - class act wins 300th game playing by the rules
  • Cal Ripken & Tony Gwynn - role models inducted into Cooperstown

Losers

  • Wall Street - dealing with crisis in sub-prime mortgage market
  • Chrysler - taps former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli to lead company
  • Bush Administration - Karl Rove calls it quits
  • Wall Street Journal - Bancroft family sells out
  • Airlines - delays and lost baggage woes worsen
  • Pentagon - only administers slap on the wrist to general officers in Pat Tillman case
  • Google - less Luke Skywalker, more Darth Vader with acquisition of DoubleClick
  • Tommy Thompson - first casualty of Republican Presidential Race
  • Rudy Guiliani - Hero of 9/11 moniker wearing thin
  • Barck Obama - losing ground to the Senator from New York
  • David Beckham - the Paris Hilton of soccer?
  • China - lead painted toys, tainted pet food and toothpaste. What's next?

Online Marketing - Big Brother Or Much Ado About Nothing?

Did We Give Permission On Who's Analyzing and Profiting From Our Internet Behavior?

By David Miranda

Consumer databases have been aggregated for many years in both the private and public sectors. Historically this information has been protected from dissemination to third parties by law unless a consumer has agreed for it to be shared with others. Despite this fact, databases are collected and aggregated by firms and sold to other firms for lead generation, market research, etc. This is, of course, how mailing lists and telemarketing campaigns acquire their prospects. Here consumers have a modest defense - do-not-call and do-not-mail lists.

Today, however, there is a different, more powerful weapon to target consumers - the Internet.

Most web sites collect and aggregate information on visitors to their sites without the expressed permission of the consumer. Google, for example, collects and analyzes search behavior on millions of consumers daily. Imagine, for a moment, all the searches you have conducted on Google. Now consider all this search history on a Google server for analysis by complete strangers with little or no oversight other than the covenant by Google that it is only using the information properly, whatever that means.

Google has recently stated it keeps the information for only 18 months, but will reduce this time to 12 months. The question is why does it need to be kept for any amount of time and if it does what the purpose?

The new buzz word in online marketing today is behavioral targeting (BT). It means that information is collected and analyzed to create predictive models for targeting appropriate and relevant ads to consumers. The question is when did consumers agree to this? When did a consumer's search history or behavior become the property of Google to monetize?

I have used Google in this example, but only because they are the largest and most sophisticated and, one might argue, the most powerful. They have acquired YouTube and is in the process of acquiring DoubleClick, the largest online ad server. Why? Vertically integrating more information on consumers for monetization. The DoubleClick purchase is being scrutinized by regulatory authorities, so stay tuned.

The real issue here is consumer privacy in a generally unregulated medium. Will it take a major faux pas to awaken consumer concern and , if so, what will be the consequences on this powerful new medium?

Are we witnessing Big Brother or is this much ado about nothing? It's worth considering.

You decide.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Market Like An Insurgent Part II - Know Your Terrain

Understand The Topography And The Dynamics Affecting The Landscape

By David Miranda

Part I - Know Your Adversary, showcased the requirement to understand an adversary - who they are, their leadership, resources, organization, culture, strengths and vulnerabilities, etc. This provides a predictive indication on how they will react to market and competitive opportunities and threats, i.e. where the Achilles Heels are.

Knowing the terrain (or playing field) is also critical for successful marketing insurgency. This is referred to as the business ecosystem, i.e. key players, target audiences, channels of distribution, interrelationships, pricing and cost structures, barriers to entry, seasonality, and regulatory guidelines.

Key Players - Identify and study the incumbents. (See Part I - Know Your Adversary). Typically their attention is elsewhere, i.e. dealing with bureaucracy, eyeing major competitors, becoming more risk averse, embracing the status quo. This where insurgents have a clear advantage operating stealthly under the radar screen of scrutiny.

Target Audiences - Identify who the primary, secondary, and tertiary target audiences are of the incumbents. Chances are their are pockets of underserved, undersatisfied, underappreciated consumers that are vulnerable to a better, faster, cheaper alternatives.

Channels Of Distribution - How do incumbents distribute their products/services to customers? Is there a more cost efficient and effective solution? Sam Walton, for example, determined he could offer "everyday low prices" by eliminating the middleman, the wholesale distribution channels employed for years by incumbents. He reinvented the ecosystem for retail at the expense of incumbents.

Interrelationships - Incumbents benefit by the interrelationships they have developed over time with their consumer base, vendors, media, etc. It is imperative to understand these relationships. These relationships represent a potentially powerful force that can be brought to bear on insurgents. The most obvious are trade associations funded by incumbents that lobby the consumer and trade press and the government to increase barrier to entry.

Pricing & Cost Structures - Incumbents, generally, have a major advantage over insurgents - economies of scale and financial reserves. Incumbents are wise to pick a fight they can win. A full frontal assault of an incumbent can cause devastating consequences. They can lower prices for a sustainable period or unleash a powerful counterattack to overwhelm an insurgent. Price to gain market share quickly, but not at the expense of losing money on each sale. It is not sustainable.

Barriers To Entry - The two biggest barriers to entry are sufficient capital and time. Not enough capital or too long to market are each, in themselves, problematic. Together they are fatal.

Seasonality - Study the seasonality and business cycle of the business ecosystem. Typically incumbents have a predictable behavior in their marketing plans, i.e. they are aggressive during periods of high demand and are more passive during periods of weak demand. Insurgents must be aggressive during the weak periods and not attempt to go toe-to-toe when the incumbents are "feeding".

Regulatory Guidelines - Some verticals must operate within government regulatory guidelines, i.e. telecommunications, financial services, etc. An insurgent must understand the regulatory landscape or be thwarted by incumbents.

Market Like An Insurgent Part III - Planning The Insurgency

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Video: What's Web 2.0?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Recognition Marketing Buzz Meter For Week Ending 7/27/07

A Look At The Past Week In Buzz

The following is a list of this past week's winners and losers in the weekly Recognition Marketing Buzz Meter.

Note: The order is not intended to indicate a ranking in importance.

Winners

  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - for his King Soloman handling of the Michael Vick issue
  • Atlanta Falcons Owner Arthur Blank - quality person, cool head in difficult situation
  • NBC Sports Bob Costas - great comeback to cheap shot from Barry Bonds
  • The Simpsons Movie - Homer, Bart & the family may win an Oscar
  • NBC's Campbell Brown - Leaves the Peacock Network for prime time at CNN.
  • CNN/YouTube - Democratic Presidential Debates enter new era
  • Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul - working the blogosphere to get out his message
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones - new release "Without Reservations" a must see
  • Democrat Presidentiial Candidates - kudos for agreeing to CNN/YouTube debate format
Losers
  • Michael Vick - his silence is deafening and he allowed his mother to deal with the press
  • Tour De France - the Yellow Jersey leaves race in disgrace
  • Lindsay Lohan - out of rehab, into court
  • Barry Bonds - takes cheap shot at Bob Costas calling him a little "midget. No class.
  • Alberto Gonzales - is everybody else lying?
  • Pepsico - finally comes clean (after consumer pressure) Aquafina is filtered tap water
  • Paula Zahn - out at CNN. O'Reilly too much "A Factor" in the ratings
  • Bush Administration - deaf ears to anything but "stay the course"
    Stock Market - bears were growling on Wall Street making bulls nervous

Recognition: Where's The e Pluribus Unum, Folks?

Calling Each Other Names Is Now A National Sport

By David Miranda

The only label that really counts in this country is "American". Remember our country's motto, "e pluribus unum"? It means "out of many one", not "out of many, some."

Today, it seems that name-calling is a national sport. It has created a polarized nation on many fronts. Democrats vs. Republicans. Liberals vs. Conservatives. Pro-war vs. anti-war. Pro-gay rights vs. anti gay rights. Pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion. Tree-hugging environmentalists vs. the corporate rape & pillagers. The Christian Right vs. the liberal left. Big business vs. the little guy. Even the Supreme Court has had a recent rash of 5 to 4 votes.

Watch any news program, listen to any politician or activist group, turn on talk radio, pick up a newspaper, peruse some blogs and it's relentlessly there - bitter partisanship seasoned with name calling from all sides of any issue.

If all this name calling and bickering was working, I'd say okay, but sadly all it does is create gridlock while critical problems go unresolved in the public and private sectors.

Hello out there. If everyone can just take a time out for a moment, here's a to do list we have to get done sometime soon and these things can only get done with a lot of cooperation. (Feel free to add to the list)

  • The War On Terror (or whatever the politically correct term is these days). We are losing precious lives there and forking out billions. Need some accountability here and a plan that works.
  • 45 million Americans, by last count, have no health care. Shameful.

  • an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants are in the country today and most contribute to our economy in this land built by immigrants. Remember the "Give me your tired, poor" thing on that statue in New York harbor. Seems like we need a plan here.

  • New Orleans still looks like a bomb hit all this time later. Seems a little behind schedule.

  • Lobbyists still use check-book influence on Capitol Hill. Doesn't seem right.

  • We have military veterans who can't get the care they so richly deserve.
Do we have our priorities right? No, not by a long shot.

This is a country of e pluribus unum. It's high time we celebrated our differences not be polarized by them.

If we're going call each other names - let it be "American".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ad Age Video Report - Web Audience Metrics Get More Complicated

Unique Visitors, Impressions, Page Views, Time On Site Are Just A Few Of The Ways With More To Come

By David Miranda

Ad Age digital editor, Abbey Klaassen provides a comprehensive overview on the complex and complicated world of measuring Web audiences and also what's on the horizon.

The stakes are high in the trying to determine the best metrics for both media buyers and sellers in the growing online advertising world. Unlike more mature media like TV, radio, and print, web metrics have many variables - unique visitors, impressions, page views.

Things get more complicated. Nielsen/NetRatings has recently announced another metric - total minutes. According to AdAge, for example, "the total minutes measurement upends the rankings among the largest web portals -- pushing AOL to No. 1 in a field where it is usually ranked third or lower by other major metric formats."

As some web sites, like AOL and YouTube, argue that the greater minutes to their site means more engagement, others like Google argue their aim is to reduce the amount of time users spend on their site.

How will this play out? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Recognition: The Brand Crisis In Professional Sports

Cheating And Bad Behavior Create Image Problem And Consequences For Stakeholders

By David Miranda

The NFL is in the midst of dealing with a rash of off-the-field incidents of bad behavior including the recent plight of one of its star players, Michael Vick, facing federal charges stemming from dog-fighting and cruelty to animals. The rookie NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, today, announced Vick would be restricted from the League until further investigation of the charges. The NFL is under intense pressure from fans and activists groups to act responsibly. Nike has suspended a new Michael Vick shoe launch until further notice and will wait until due process has occurred to determine the status of their endorsement deal. Vick has lost renewals of other endorsement deals including AirTran and Coca-Cola.

The NBA is dealing with the indictment of one of its senior referees, Tim Donahy, for gambling on games he officiated and being involved with members of organized crime on point- shaving. This follows many incidents of the League having to discipline players for bad behavior and the highly publicized Kobe Bryant rape trial.

Major League Baseball has tried to deal with the issue of steriods in baseball by a number of its current and former stars. At a Congressional hearing, All Star Rafael Palmeiro flatly denied use of steriods only to be tested positive some months later. Former home run champion, Mark McGwire refused at the same Congressional hearing to answer questions about past steriod use. The MLB investigation continues clouding the accomplishments of soon-to-be all time home run champion, Barry Bonds.

The Tour De France has been embarrassed, by the admission by many top former cyclists, of their use of blood doping. The fate of last year's race winner, Floyd Landis, is still being awaited.

NASCAR has had to levy suspensions and fines against racing teams for cheating.

What does this mean for the sports themselves, their fans, and sponsors? The stakes are very high. Losing fan support, losing lucrative sponsors and advertisers could have a significant impact of the fortunes of these high profile brands.

Officials of these sports are faced with King Solomon decisions in saving their respective brands. Some things they can control, i.e. levying fines, suspensions, lifetime banishment. Some things they cannot, i.e. the legal system and the court of public opinion. Sponsors will have the same decisions based on fan reaction.

This is a brand crisis of epic proportion for all stakeholders. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Recognizing A Culture Of Denial

And It's Not A River In Egypt! It's A Problem.

By David Miranda

Denial is a major impediment to positive outcomes.

It is usually accompanied by its siblings, arrogance and ignorance. It is exascerbated by power and time, i.e. the more powerful the position, the longer the denial, the greater the consequences.

A ship's captain who is in denial that he is off course, despite evidence and advice to the contrary, will get further off course over time unless making necessary course corrections.

Denial has had and continues to have its impact in a number of areas:

  • War in Iraq

  • Performance-enhancing drugs in sports

  • U.S. automobile industry

  • Immigration reform

  • Health care reform

  • Reliance of fossil fuels

  • Global warming

  • Obesity

  • Katrina victims

  • Darfur genocide

From business and government leaders, to professional athletes, to celebrities, we see and hear a constant chorus of denial. Few admit they were wrong until either the evidence is overwhelming, the consequences are dire, they are exposed on YouTube, are fired, indicted, or convicted. By then, the damage has been done.

If you are in a position of authority, recognize this. There is nothing wrong admitting that you're wrong. It is a positive, not a negative trait. A sign of strength, not weakness.

If you are wrong, admit it quickly and honestly. It's the right thing to do.

There is no denying it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Recognition Marketing Buzz Meter Week Ending 7/22/07

A Look At The Past Week In Buzz

By David Miranda

The following is a list of this past week's winners and losers in the weekly Recognition Marketing Buzz Meter.

Note: The order is not intended to indicate a ranking in importance.

Winners

  • Harry Potter - release of last book

  • J.K. Rowling - author says goodbye to Harry

  • Padriag Harrington - winner of British Open playoff almost Vandervelde'd himself

  • David Beckham - brings celebrity to U.S soccer

  • Barry Bonds - controversial but imminent all-time home run champion

  • Virgin America - opens for business in U.S.

  • Fred Thompson - unannounced candidate for President gaining ground

  • British Open - the oldest major in golf still has magic

  • PETA - the Vick indictment provides an opportunity for its cause

  • Oprah Winfrey - announces endorsement for Obama

  • Hank Aaron - all-time home run king still the king in people's hearts

  • Barack Obama - Oprah endorsement and strong fundraising gives him runway

  • Bill & Hillary Clinton - dynamic duo a force majeur to contend with

  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner - Boeing bets right and bests rival Airbus

Losers

  • Michael Vick - from NFL superstar to federal indicted co-defendant

  • Bud Selig - the silence what to do when Bonds breaks the record is deafening

  • Sen. John McCain - from front runner to underdog

  • Sen. David Vitter - another public official, another scandal, another apology

  • NFL - should federal indictments of players have the same consequences for everyone?

  • Paris Hilton - why do we bother?

  • Tour De France - Scandals have spoiled it for everyone this year.

  • Victoria Beckham - New reality show's in trouble. There's still the Spice Girls.

  • Congress - Approval rating lower than the President's. Just above Cheney.

  • Bush Administration - Approval ratings haven't bottomed out.

  • Atlanta Falcons - Great franchise and fans have to deal with the Vick situation. No win situation.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bob and Ray: Slow Talkers of America

In our fast paced, A.D.D world, this classic comedy sketch will make you cry.

SNL Skit - Steve Jobs Announces the iPhone

Apple's master marketer has done it again. This Saturday Night Live parody is worth a second look.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Press '1' To Be Ignored. Press '2' To Be Booted Out"

Please Stop Calling Customer Service for Customer Service!

By David Miranda

ABC News ran an interesting article, "Your Call Is Important To Us -- Not!" (You can check out the video piece here.) This "man bites dog" story centers around this week's announcement that Sprint has booted about 1000 of their customers for habitually complaining about their service. This is, apparently, one way to get the J.D. Power quality scores higher - boot the complainers. Sprint is not an isolated case, just the latest publicized offender.

The worst offenders, by category, according to the article, "invariably tend to be cell phone companies, cable TV companies, airlines and banks. These companies are among those that turned up in surveys by consumer and customer service consultants: AOL, Albertson's, Bank of America, Best Buy, Dell, Day's Inn, Home Depot, Sprint, Wells Fargo. "

The article notes the following:

But why do so many companies not get it?

A combination of factors, from the increasing reliance on automated phone systems to companies slashing budgets for their customer service divisions to disgruntled employees passing on their frustration, has provoked customers into voicing their complaints about the way companies treat them.

But let's give credit where credit is due and end on a positive note.

According to the article, the following companies are consistently cited for the quality of their service: Starbucks, Nordstrom, Four Seasons Hotels, Lexus, LL Bean, Chick-fil-A, Ritz Carlton, FedEx, UPS, and Cadillac.

Is it any wonder that these are some of the most respective brands in the marketplace? What do they have in common? - a culture of service and inspired leadership.

Next time you are treated badly, press "disconnect" and take your business to someone who wants it.

Photo Credit: Photodisc

Monday, July 9, 2007

"CMO's Don't Have Any Effect On A Company's Financial Performance"





Then It's Got To Be The CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, CTO

By David Miranda

An article on adage.com today titled "CMOs Rapped For Having Zero Impact On Sales", reported the following:

"A study to be published in the Journal of Marketing that covered 167 companies including Procter & Gamble, Microsoft and Apple over a five-year period concludes that CMOs on top management teams don't have any effect on a company's financial performance."

The study, "Chief Marketing Officers: A Study of their Presence in Firms' Top Management Teams," is slated for the January 2008 issue of the publication.

According the the AdAge article, "Among the companies studied, less than half, 40%, had CMOs in their top-management teams. As a comparison, 97.2% of the firms in the study had a CFO in that team."

On its release this study is destined to create considerable debate in the C-Suites of both large and small companies. It will reinforce the positions of those who believe that the marketing discipline is a necessary evil and make it more difficult for those who believe that marketing is the key driver of revenue, market share, and brand equity.

This author is frankly biased to the latter proposition. This position may be supported by in a soon-to-be-released study by Booz Allen Hamilton titled "CMO Thought Leaders: The Rise of the Strategic Marketer" based on 15 in-depth interviews with some of the marketing world's best-known CMOs. The main takeaway of the study is that measuring CMO performance based on financial performance alone is a mistake.

As I have evangelized many times - before someone buys anything, they have to want it first. That's what marketing does - getting consumers (and clients) to want your stuff more than your competitors. It is simply foolish not to have a competent CMO in the C-Suite if the CEO is not someone like a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Richard Branson or someone else who understands the critical role of marketing in the short and long success of a company.

For the 60% of the companies in the CMO study who do not have a CMO in the C-Suite, wake up. In a world where preference is perishable and insurgent competitors are "at the gate", not having a CMO in the boardroom is like not having a doctor in the operating room.

Your critical patient (the company) won't be saved by analyzing charts and monitors.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Marketers - Exploit The Powerful Winds Of Change

Marketers Must "Plot Their Own Course" And Not Sail In The "Me Too" Regatta

By David Miranda

The 32nd America's Cup has just concluded in Valencia, Spain. Swiss-defender Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand to retain the Cup. How did they do it? Strong leadership, teamwork, state-of-the art design and technology were obvious, but watching the races it was also clear that the winning boat understood it had to relentlessly find "clean wind" - wind unfettered by its competitor. If you could find this wind and position your boat between it and your competitor, success was at hand.

Today's marketplace is a sea of challenge where the winds of change are constantly in flux, yet many marketers choose to sail in the diminishing winds of the status quo in the "me too" regatta. Instead of seeking their own "clear winds" to success, they watch the other "boats" to determine when to tack and jibe.

The marketplace is not about competing with other "boats". It is about competing with yourselves, against the elements - determining your own course for success instead of following the course taken by others.

See where the powerful winds of change are blowing and set your sails accordingly.

It's clean air.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Read This And Reap

Calling It The Way She Sees It - And She Calls It Right

By David Miranda

I just finished reading Julie Roehm's article, Signs Its Time To Fire Your CMO, and I highly recommend that all marketers (and non-marketers) do the same.

What companies, large and small, need to understand is that great marketing is done by those who challenge the comfort zone of the status quo; those that market like insurgents rather than incumbents; those who understand that there is a significant difference between those wanting to succeed and those not being afraid to fail.

Julie refers to The Coca-Cola Company's former CMO, the legendary Sergio Zyman. He was and remains a marketing insurgent. Now a successful consultant and author, Sergio's nickname, during his tenures at Coke, by friends and foes alike, as the Ayacola for his brash, yet innovative marketing prowess. Take a read of his first book, "The End Of Marketing As We Know It". His mantra was and is that "marketing is about selling more stuff, to more people, more often to make more money." On his watch as CMO, The Coca-Cola Company generated record sales and profits. Coke has changed marketing executives several times since his departure, but has not been able to achieve the same level of success.

Perhaps the Board of The Coca-Cola Company (and others) should read Julie's article. Perhaps they could learn a thing or two.

Borrowing from Coke's old tag line - Julie's "the real thing".

Keep it real. Thanks, Julie!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bob Dylan - "The Times They Are A Changing" But It's Not Easy Going

Gandhi Didn't Expect Hugs And Kisses, Neither Should You

By David Miranda

To those of you that aspire to change the status quo, and you know who you are, don't be discouraged when you face the head wind of resistance. Nothing worthwhile comes without passion, sacrifice and perseverance. You have two choices in life - give in to the pressure of the status quo or fight for what you believe in. We just witnessed a remarkable political season where "change" was the mantra of both campaigns.

Too often, however, people relent. They say to themselves "what's the point?. I am just one person up against insurmountable odds. Why should I bother? Who really cares?"

To those that seek change but feel little support or encouragement from others, I say keep the faith and persist. No one said change was easy.

Gandhi once said, "First they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; and then you win".

If you want to be an agent of change, ignore the ignoring, shun the laughter, fight the good fight and winning will be your redemption.

History has celebrated agents of change, the real visionaries- Abraham Lincoln, Mohatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Charles Lindbergh to name a few. All were the subjects of severe ridicule, and each rose above the criticism to forever change our lives. We just witnessed the election of a new member of this elite club - President-Elect Barack Obama. Whatever your political persuasion, it is clear we live in transformational times requiring transformational leadership.

The business lessons we can learn from these agents of change are simple - speak up, speak out, and speak with passion in the face of powerful dissent.

No one said change was easy, but it is inevitable.

Don't be a shrinking violet when change is required.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Customer Should Be The Boss

Our Org Charts Are All Wrong

By David Miranda

First let me share a recent personal experience to set the stage.

I am a long time customer of Home Depot. I am fairly ignorant in the home improvement area and the orange-aproned sales associates at Home Depot have been the friendly and helpful people to make sure I purchased the right tools and products for the right job. That is until recently. In recent trips to Home Depot, I have found the level of service (and friendliness) lacking. The other day I searched the aisles for someone to help me select window shades. Finally when I did find someone, this person said it was not his department, got on a walkie-talkie, and told me to wait in Aisle 18. After waiting for some time, a gentleman with a surly attitude arrived only to make it clear in his tone that he was doing me a favor since I must have interrupted whatever else he was doing. I left the store and went to ACE Hardware where, by the way, the people were obviously happy I was there, particularly after I told them about my Home Depot experience. This is the same Home Depot that compensated its former CEO Bob Nardelli with a $250 million exit package. (I still love Home Depot, but they need to get the train back on the right track.)

The people who pay for all of a company's overhead (and hefty executive compensation packages) are customers, yet they're not shown on any company's org chart. Go figure!

As a matter of fact, the org charts of companies are upside down. The customer should be at the top, followed by the front line employees, then management, then executives, then the board, then the shareholders. Everybody in the organzation reports to the customer. Makes perfect sense - and good business. A company can always find new board members, executives, management and employees and not miss a beat - but lose customers and the consequences are dire. Just ask the shareholders of GM, Ford, Dell, Gateway, The Gap, Home Depot and others whose once-strong customer base has eroded.

This customer erosion does not happen overnight. It happens over time like a small leak in a dam that eventually weakens the entire structure with catastrophic consequences much like my Home Depot experience.

Imagine now if these companies had understood the importance of turning their org charts upside down treating every customer as they would if your boss was at the counter, on the phone, or on the web site. Imagine the level of service your boss would be given.

When was the last time you received treatment from a company like you were the boss? Chances are rarely if ever?

It's high time marketers spoke up in the boardroom about the importance of the front line experience for customers because all the great marketing in the world will not solve this problem, but turning the org chart upside down with regard to who is really important will.

Flip that chart!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Marketers - "Still Crazy After All These Years"

Why Do We Continue To Do Nutty Things?

By David Miranda

In the 1990 comedy, "Crazy People", Dudley Moore played a Madison Avenue advertising executive who had a mental breakdown. Before he was committed he developed new "let's be honest with consumers" campaigns for a number of clients including Jaguar, United Airlines, Metamucil, and AT&T. I am not able to publish all of the hilarious ads in the film, but the one created for AT&T will give you a hint.

"You may think phone service stinks since deregulation, but don't mess with us, because we're all you've got. In fact, if we fold, you'll have no damn phones. AT&T - we're tired of taking your crap! "

Today, the craziness continues, albeit in different forms. Here are some examples.

Cingular is now "the new AT&T". I am still confused why the name change. Better service? Better deals? Different positioning? Different strategy? Nope. Looks like all that's changed is the logo. Crazy!

The Coca-Cola Company created Coke Zero that has zero calories. I thought Diet Coke was Coke with zero calories. Crazy!

The Ford Motor Company retired the Taurus model and created the Ford Five Hundred . The Five Hundred has had disappointing sales and Ford has now decided to rename it the Taurus. Crazy!

Major corporations continue to pay exhorbitant marketing fees for the naming rights to sports venues. Some examples include Philips Arena (Atlanta) $160 million, FedEx Field (Raljon, MD) $205 million, and American Airlines Center (Dallas) $195 million. Do these investments really pay off? That's a lot of electronics, overnight deliveries, and airline tickets to justify. Crazy!

The typical NASCAR car displays hundreds of sponsor logos, some the size of a business cards. With these cars doing laps at nearly 200 mph do race fans (the intended audience) in person or on TV really notice them? Crazy!

Craziness? I will leave the final determination to the Board Of Directors and shareholders of companies based on the return on these marketing investments.

Unless that is a crazy idea!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Think In The Third Person, Communicate In The Second Person, Lead In The First Person

Getting Thinking, Communicating, And Leading In The Right Order

By David Miranda

Business is not about you or me, it's about them - those people who buy stuff, also known as consumers. More often than not, marketers get this wrong. There tends to be too much first person opinion in the boardroom as in "I like or don't like this or that".

When this happens the wrong master is served.

Frankly, it doesn't matter one iota whether a marketing executive likes or dislikes something. The true master to be served is the consumer; unless, however, the marketing executive is going to going to buy all the stuff the company wants to sell.

When a marketing executive uses his or her titled authority to impart their own first person opinions on decisions, it is ego-centric, assuming that this person speaks for consumers. This is dangerous and fatalistic, yet it happens over and over again with the same dire results.

Marketing executives should keep their personal bias in check and think in the third person, i.e "what would consumers want?" and this thinking should be supported with empirical evidence - good research with compelling and unique insights.

Although they should think in the third person, marketers should communicate calls to action in the second person, as in MacDonalds' "You Deserve A Break Today", Allstate's " You're In Good Hands With Allstate", or Nike's "Just Do It". Here the company or brand is speaking directly to the consumer in a personal one-to-one dialogue. This is preferable to marketing messages where brands speak to consumers in the first person, as in Delta Airlines old tag line "We Love To Fly And It Shows" touting themselves versus what they can offer the consumer. The Delta tag line could have been tweaked "We Love To Fly. Let Us Show You."

Thinking in the third person and communicating in the second person requires leading in the first person as in "I want our marketing to help sell more stuff to more people more often to make more money".

So next time you are in a marketing meeting - think in the third person, communicate in the second person and lead in the first person.

"They" would appreciate it. "You" would benefit from it. "I" believe it will help.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Get Out Of The Ivory Tower Every Now And Then

Experience The Customer Experience

By David Miranda

In his best seller, In Search Of Excellence, author Tom Peters talked about "management by walking around" referring to managers who got out there on the front lines to get a first hand look at what was going on in their companies - with managers, employees, and customers.

Interesting concept!

Today, it seems we could use a refresher course, particularly in the marketing arena. Let's call it "marketing by walking around". More often than not, marketers (and their agencies) are insulated and isolated from the reality of the marketplace. Marketing campaigns often create a vastly different expectation from the actual consumer experience. In addition, if more marketers got out of the office, they could experience the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the considerable sums of money they are investing in a plethora of media channels.

Marketers need to temper the second and third hand feedback they receive with first hand personal observations.

Get behind the counter, get out in the stores, walk the showroom, take some customer calls and emails, and visit the competition. Encourage your colleagues and agencies to do the same. Get out and see for yourself what's really happening - first hand knowledge that is unbiased, unspun, and unfiltered.

The personal knowledge marketers will gain from these excursions is invaluable.

Marketing by walking around - these are important steps to marketing success.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Recognition Of The Real Heroes

To Those Who Serve And Who Have Served, I Pay Homage

By David Miranda

Today is Memorial Day.

To many Americans it is a long weekend, the unofficial beginning of the summer season - the weekend of the Indianapolis 500, the Coca-Cola 600, backyard BBQ's, picnics, outdoor concerts, and a plethora of sales at everything from malls to car dealerships. It is classic Americana.

Memorial Day is really about heroes, those men and women who serve and have served in the defence of their country. Far too many never came back to enjoy the freedom we take for granted today. Today they rest in hallowed ground like Arlington National Cemetery where over 250,000 are buried from conflicts including the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Many heroes from these and other conflicts have come back with the emotional and physical scars of their brave and selfless service. Then there are the heroic families - the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins who will never share lives that were either ended all too soon or were forever changed by the ravages of battle.

The country can never repay these heroes for their sacrifice, but we can honor their service.

On this Memorial Day and the other 364 days of each year, we can recognize and pay homage to their legacy to the rest of us - our freedom - not just with flags and parades, but in our hearts.

God bless them and their families and God bless America!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Consumer Privacy - The Elephant In The Room

How A Consumer Backlash Could Change The Landscape

By David Miranda

Both the public and private sectors have an insatiable appetite for intelligence. Insightful intelligence provides the owner of the intelligence with a strategic (and tactical) competitive advantage, i.e. the better the intelligence, the lower the risks, the better the plan, and the better chance for positive outcomes.

Here lies the ongoing dilemma. At what point does collecting intelligence step over the line - the line of invading someone's privacy? At what point is the end not justified by the means?

We are witnessing this conflict today, both in the public and private sectors.

After 9/11, the government passed The Patriot Act that has expanded the power of government agencies to initiate wiretaps, peruse emails, and analyze internet behavior with the cooperation of telecommunications companies, search engines, and social networking sites. All in the name of national security. The debate over privacy and the government's right to know to protect the country continues.

In the private sector, companies collect intimate personal information on their customers for their own purposes as well as for renting and selling to third parties. Some companies like Equifax and Hyperion collect consumer information from many sources and sell this information to third parties like credit card and mortgage companies. There are numerous web sites that collect consumer information for sale to other consumers as well.

Most, if not all, web sites collect and aggregate information on visitors and can track their visits and navigation using what is known as "cookies" which are loaded onto the visitor's computer indefinitely unless removed or blocked by the user. Google, among others, collects information on the searches people conduct; the web sites they visit and targets paid advertising based on a consumer's imputed keywords. Google is not a search engine or a media company - it is an intelligence-gathering company and it is attracting the attention of regulatory groups.

Those in the marketing arena need to take heed. A consumer backlash could dramatically alter the business landscape. They are already beginning to "techno-barricade" themselves from unsolicited commercial messages. Over 150 million people, for example, have registered with the government's "Do Not Call List". They are rebuking spam, both on their computers and mobile devices. They are concerned about the ever-growing problem of ID theft. There have been countless cases in both the public and private sectors of lost computers and hacking into supposedly secure consumer databases containing sensitive data on millions of consumers.

All this has caused a ground swell of consumer concern over privacy protection. A consumer backlash means the potential for government intervention and the federal government is already dealing with the scope of The Patriot Act.

What is a responsble company to do in these circumstances?

The answer is be pre-emptive. Proactively communicate with both potential and existing customers that their privacy is your top priority - and mean it. Do not wait until there is a fiduciary breach and it makes the evening news or 60 Minutes.

The consumer privacy elephant is in the room and it's time to offer it a seat at the table.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Hark, I Hear The Cannon Roar!"

On Today's Marketing "Stage", Surprises Can Happen - And Will!

By David Miranda

Marketing today is full of surprises and the great marketers will adapt and succeed.

It reminds me of a joke I heard recently.

"Five-year-old Johnny came home from school one day with a note pinned to his shirt. His mother removed the note, which was from his teacher, informing her that Johnny had been chosen to be in the school's upcoming holiday play just one month away. The note said that Johnny would have one spoken line in the play and encouraged his mother to have him memorize the line. Johnny's line was 'Hark, I hear the cannon roar'. Johnny's mom was, of course, delighted and began immediately to rehearse the line with her son. Each day after school, Johnny's mom would have him repeat the line over and over again until it became second nature to him. She was confident Johnny would do brilliantly. On the night of the play, Johnny's parents and family were in the filled auditorium. Finally the moment came and the cannon on stage fired with a huge bang. Johnny shouted, 'What the hell was that?' "

There are a lot of marketing "Johnnies" (and "JoAnnes") out there. They prepare and plan for performances on the marketing "stage", confident that their preparation and planning will lead to success - and then the "cannon roars" - and it's dramatically different than they expected, i.e. "what the hell was that?" The "that" is the unexpected - the market shifted this way; competitors did this instead of that; the budget was cut; etc. etc.

Marketers today must be agile and resourceful to succeed in a marketplace with rapid shifts and turns. Surprises happen and the distinction between strategy and tactics has blurred. We live in a new world of "stratactical marketing". This is a world where strategy and tactics must be developed and executed simultaneously.

Don't be surprised - be prepared.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Don't Be An Idea Elitist!

Great Ideas Can Come From Anyone, From Anywhere, At Anytime

By David Miranda

Two brothers named Wright who had a small bicycle shop in the American Midwest had an idea that man could soar the skies in powered flight. Sheer madness!

Two college dropouts, a Mr. Gates and a Mr. Allen, thought that personal computers might be popular one day and maybe they would need an operating system. Ridiculous!

A young man in the San Francisco area wanted to find some Pez dispensers from other enthusiasts to complete his collection. He created eBay because he thought there may be others who felt the same way. Poppycock!

Where do great ideas come from? From anywhere, anyone, anytime.

Unfortunately in the marketing arena, we forget this. Marketers become idea elitists, i.e. thinking that great ideas come from ad agencies, marketing gurus, people with Ivy League credentials, high I.Q's, people with experience in the field, people with track records, and the like. Balderdash!

Great ideas come from people who recognize a better solution and possess the passion, fortitude, and conviction to shepherd their ideas to fruition. Marketing executives must be able to encourage, recognize, and nuture creative thinking both in their own organization and from agencies and consultants. The next great idea could come from the most unlikely source - a receptionist, intern, customer, client, mother-in-law, etc.

Don't be an idea elitist. Keep your eyes and ears open. Observe, listen, and query.

Who knows, the next person you meet, could be a future Orville Wright or Bill Gates.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Stay The Course" Has Given "Stay The Course" A Bad Name

It Used To Be A Rallying Cry, Now It's Become A Cry For Help

By David Miranda

The declarative statement "stay the course" has always been associated with a forceful and confident leader - a rallying cry to the "troops". Today, however, the phrase has become a sound bite by executives who use it as a substitute for a relevant strategy. In this case "stay the course" translates into arrogance, stupidity or a little of both. Arrogance and stupidity, the offspring of ego, are the enemies of positive outcomes.

Historical and current examples abound, including two of significance.

The Captain of the ill-fated Titanic was well aware of the threat of icebergs in the North Atlantic. Yet, in attempting to set a speed record on the ship's maiden voyage, he ordered the ship to "stay the course" and proceed at full speed on a moonless night.

Today, "stay the course" is associated with the Administration's Iraq strategy. Despite the fact that the majority of Americans are demanding a different course of action; despite that fact that the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group recommended a different course of action; despite the fact that the Democrat-controlled Congress want a different course of action - the President's mantra was "stay the course". The President has since "retired" the phrase.

The lessons here are clear. Different and changing circumstances demand a different course of action to achieve a positive outcome. Leaders cannot simply "will" success and hope is not a strategy.

Such is the case in marketing. If something is not working, find a better solution and find it fast.

Oh yeah, for those of you that are using "stay the course" as a rallying cry in lieu of a better solution, cease and desist.

You are giving the term a bad name.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Marketing "Tango" - Good Dancers Make Their Partner Look Good

The Difference Between Seller-Centric And Buyer-Centric Marketing

By David Miranda

In order to for someone to buy something, they first have to want it. That's what marketing does - getting someone to want what you are selling. That said, why do marketers continue to get it wrong more often than not? They are seller-centric rather than buyer-centric.

Here's a recent example.

I was invited to attend a series of marketing presentations by a company that had put out an RFP (Request For Proposal) to a short list of five ad agencies. Each was given 30 minutes to present their case for getting the business. Only one agency had it right.

Four of the agencies took most of their allotted 30 minutes talking about themselves, i.e. "we've been in business for X number of years"; "this is a list of our clients"; "these are samples of some of our work", "this is how we work" etc. etc. etc. What each of these firms failed to understand is that the company wanted to hire an agency that helped them sell stuff, i.e. "enough about yourself, what are you going to do for me?" Their presentations were "seller-centric" not "buyer-centric".

The successful agency spent the majority of its time talking about the company and communicating how and why hiring them would help them "sell more stuff". This agency was buyer-centric. Buyer-centric means putting yourself in the shoes of the buyer. Buyers don't care about you, they care about themselves and whether you can help them achieve their own objectives - plain and simple. If you think that an impressive presentation of your credentials will do it, you are dead wrong. Your credentials may have gotten you "an invitation to the dance", but when the music starts, it's time to dance not just telling people you are a good dancer.

When the music started, the four unsuccessful agencies sat this one out.

Remember it's not about you. It's takes two to do the marketing "tango". Let the client lead.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Avoid The Fate Of The Milkman - A Marketing Lesson

Consumers Are Embracing New Ways To Consume



Many years ago, unless you owned a cow, the only way one could buy milk was through the reliable milkman. If you were tracking milk sales, you just added up all the milk sold by the nation's milkmen. Over the years, if you were a milk delivery company, you may have become alarmed as milk sales, as measured by the milkman channel, began to dramatically erode year after year. As a milk delivery company, you may have been forced to lay off milkmen. You might have come to the conclusion that milk was rapidly becoming unpopular with the American consumer. It may have indicated its high time to get out of the milk production business.

We all know this is not what happened. The milkman distribution channel was to milk what the airplane was to the train. Milk, simply found different and better distribution channels - the corner convenience store, grocery chains, gas stations, WalMart, etc. In fact, there is more milk sold today than ever before. Great for milk, bad for milkmen.

The same can be said today in a number of industries. Take, movies, for example, were once only distributed at studio-owned single screen theaters. Enter the multi-plex, VCR, DVR, CD player, Blockbuster, Netflix, the Internet, HBO, and mobile devices. The single screen, studio-owned theater is long gone but the distribution of movie content today continues to expand exponentially across many platforms.

Another example is travel. Not long ago if you wanted to book travel you would call your local travel agent. Now travel agents are going the way of the milkman with more and more consumers utilizing the Internet. More travel is sold today than ever before, but less and less through travel agents.

There are many more examples of businesses and institutions vulnerable to the fate of the milkman including classified ads, yellow pages, journalism, politics, retailing, and real estate just to name a few.

Here is the lesson learned - avoid the fate of the milkman with your brand. Marketing and distribution channels are morphing as are media consumption patterns among consumers. Marketers must understand the need to extend their brands to emerging media and channels or suffer the fate of the milkman.

Friday, April 6, 2007

In Advertising, If The Ad Doesn't Work, Change The Ad

Don't Throw Good Money At Ads That Don't Produce

By David Miranda

Year after year, when consumers are asked to rank the best Super Bowl ads of all time, they put the Mean Joe Green Coke commercial at the top of the list. (View ad) We've all seen it countless times.

Few people are aware, however, that this beloved commercial only ran one time. Yes, just once. Why? Well, according to Sergio Zyman, who was Coke's SVP of Marketing who both approved and pulled the ad, it did not produce results. It did not sell more Coke.

There is a lesson to be learned here. More often than not, advertising that does not produce continues to be funded by brands in hopes, it seems, that it eventually will. The rationale is "we've spent all this money on creative and media, so we have to see this through."

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Do you keep frequenting the same restaurant if the food and service is bad? Do you keep investing in stocks that don't generate returns? Do you keep pouring water in a bucket that has a hole in it? Of course not. Then why continue to run advertising that doesn't produce?

Then what is an advertiser to do? Here are few suggestions.

  1. Admit, that despite the best of planning, creativity, and intentions, sometimes things don't work.
  2. Change the ad.
  3. Get all the contributors together - research, brand managers, agency execs - and do a CSI-worthy post mortem. How did we miss the mark? Do we tweak or go back to the drawing boards?
  4. Get new creative out there
  5. Brush yourself off and get back in the game.
  6. If it works, spend more media on it. If it doesn't, well, you know what to do.

Advertising that doesn't work should be euthanized not put on life support. The health of the brand is at stake.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Blogging, Vlogging, and Flogging - Communitizing The World

The New Global Digital "Soap Box" - Power To The People

By David Miranda

The famous Robert Bulwer-Lytton quote, "The pen is mightier that the sword" needs to be updated for today's digital world. With all due respect to the author, how about "the internet is mightier than the pen which is mightier than the sword."?

From cave drawings, to drumbeats, to smoke signals, to stone tablets, to papyrus, to sheepskins, to the printing press, to the telegraph, to radio, to motion pictures, to television -the human race has relentless sought a better means of communications. Today, the internet has provided connected citizens of the world with the greatest soap box in the history of mankind.

We are blogging our opinions, perspectives and rants. We are vlogging (video blogs) content starring everyone including friends, family, business colleagues, celebrities, pets, politicians, and cartoon characters. We are flogging (overtly and covertly) products, services, and ourselves for fame and fortune. In short, we are "communitizing" the world with both the interesting and the inane.

It would be fascinating to have had the internet in the time of Shakespeare, Aristotle, Napoleon, or Sigmund Freud. Imagine what the names might have been for their respective blogs, i.e. "Bard For Life"; "It's Greek To Me"; "The French Connection", or "Sex And The Cityfolk".

There is little doubt that the next Shakespeare, Aristotle, Napoleon, or Freud is currently posting articles somewhere in the world as we speak. It could be you.

The opportunity is there. The time is now. Blog, vlog, and flog away.

The world is waiting to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Content Noshing - New Marketing In Bits And Bytes

Smaller Portions Needed For Media "Snacking" By A.D.D. Consumers

By David Miranda

Pop culture is consumed today in smaller and smaller "portions" by multi-tasking consumers. They scan print, channel surf the TV and radio, browse the Internet, and sample short videos. They live in a world of sound bites and video clips. In short, consumers have made the "noshing" of content the rule rather than the exception. Sure we still read books and in-depth articles; sit through a movie, sitcom, drama, reality program, sporting event, news program, concert, or Broadway play; but we are spending more and more time media "noshing".

It is this pop culture "noshing" that is driving marketers mad. All these eyeballs represent an exploitable marketing opportunity, but how to exploit it is the big challenge. To date, marketers have tried, in vain, to use old methods to exploit new opportunities.

Take the :30 second ad, once the gold standard of advertising. It was appropriate when content consumption was the hour or half-hour program, but what happens when the programming or content is only one to two minutes, such as the case on YouTube? Do we expect consumers to watch a :30 second ad before or after a one to two minute video? Would you watch a half hour commercial before or after a half hour program on television? Doubt it.

As consumers have embraced media consumption in smaller portions, marketers must adapt with smaller ad portions, as well. Marketers must learn to engage the A.D.D. consumer. Why say in 30 seconds what you can say in 5? Of course, there will be a period of trial and error, but one thing is certain.

Pop culture content noshing is here to stay. Get used to it.

Put out a new media menu with smaller portions.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"Field Of Dreams" Marketing - Build It And They Will Come - NOT!

Hope Is Not A Strategy

By David Miranda

In the classic film, "Field Of Dreams" Kevin Costner's character heard a voice summoning him to "build it and they will come". The "it", of course, was a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. The final scene was a dramatic aerial shot of serpentine car headlights as far as the eye could see heading to the field. Hope springs eternal.

In real life, however, hope is not enough. Today businesses build products and offer new services with the hope that customers will come and buy. Hope, however, is not a strategy and, more importantly, without a strategy there is no hope. Sounds reasonable, but, more often that not, schizophrenic marketers still rely on hope when they are strategically bankrupt.

Need some examples? Consider these.

Delta Airlines attempted to launch a discount airline, Song. It brought together really smart people; invested really big dollars; and "hoped" that they had a winner. Not? The music ended and Song was no more.

Speaking of Field Of Dreams, every year, smart people in Hollywood, backed by big money premiere box office flops that leave movie goers wondering "what were they thinking?" Didn't anyone in this "Emperor's New Clothes" scenario say "this is a stinker"? There are too many "stinkers" to name here, but I'm sure you've been the victim of a few. The backers "hoped" they'd be blockbusters.

In the annals of the cola wars, Pepsi marketing executives once "hoped" that the market was ready and eager for Pepsi Clear - Pepsi, just without the color. Go figure. Smart people, big money, clear failure. By the way, Coca-Cola countered with Tab Clear. Same result.

The new AT&T has recently announced that Cingular, the nation's leading mobile phone company, will change it name to AT&T abandoning the Cingular brand. This decision was made even though AT&T once had its own mobile phone offering that suffered from poor customer service, low customer retention and its ultimate demise. They "hope" for better results this time. Smart people, big money, smart decision? The new AT&T hopes for the best.

Before smart people like yourself put big money behind a big dream, first make sure you have a solid strategic foundation.

If you are hearing voices, take this advice.

Before you start "clearing the cornfield", have a clear strategy.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Revenue - Still The Only Way To Keep Score

The Only Statistic That Counts For Marketers Is Money

By David Miranda

A client, who had just been appointed the new senior marketing executive of a mid-sized company, asked me to attend an internal marketing meeting where the results of a recently completed marketing campaign would be presented. The meeting was scheduled for one hour including four presenters each representing a specific discipline. The first presenter, representing the interactive component, paged through an impressive powerpoint including various charts and graphs. As the last slide appeared, he summarized as follows:

"We generated a lot of eyeballs with this campaign, but we are disappointed with the number of impressions and although the click through rate is quite high considering the overall site traffic and limited number of page views; we are happy with the response rates that have contributed to our conversion rate exceeding our campaign targets. Any questions?"
All eyes focused on my client, their new boss. After a pregnant pause, he asked, "How much revenue did this initiative contribute to our fourth quarter results? Isn't that what's really important?" "Yes sir, it is, but I'm not sure I can answer that question.", was the response. No sooner had the boss asked his question, the other presenters quickly reviewed their own presentations in anticipation of the same question. They were right, although no one could answer to the boss' satisfaction. I could tell he wanted to make a point and he did. He concluded the meeting with sound advice, "we are here to make money and money is how we keep score. From now on, let me know what the score is."

In marketing, we have devised many performance metrics, particularly in recent years. There are the eyeballs, impressions, site traffic, unique visitors, and page views. Then there are the "rates", as in click through, click-to-call, conversion, response, and recall to name a few. Too many times, marketers like to demonstrate their professional acuity with lingo-laced jibberish. The only metric that counts, however, is revenue, money, moolah.

Straight talk must be the official language of the marketing department regardless of the individual specialty. Does the advertising, promotions, direct mail, or interactive initiatives contribute to the brand's revenue objectives? If so, how much? If not, why? Impressions, eyeballs, etc. are irrelevant if revenue targets are not achieved. If your hometown team played an important game, what is the first question you ask? Of course, "What was the score?" If the person you asked said "we completed 10 of 20 passes and rushed for 230 yards"; you would say, "who cares about passing and rushing, what was the score? Did we win or not?"

Revenue is the only statistic that matters in marketing. It's the only way to keep score on who wins and who loses.