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.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Owning the NOW - The Impatient State Of America

Today's Consumer Mantra - If You Don't Want My Business, I'll Take It Elsewhere

By David Miranda

A recent AP-Ipsos Poll reinforced what we are all well aware of in our daily lives - we have become an impatient nation. The poll concludes that impatient Americans are more demanding.

  • 50% said that they refuse to return to businesses that made them wait too long

  • 60% said that they can usually wait no more than 15 minutes in line before losing their cool

  • 54% said that they can wait no longer than 5 minutes on hold before losing their patience

"If you ask the typical person, do you feel more time-poor or money-poor, the answer almost always is time-poor," says Paco Underhill, an authority on what draws and drives away shoppers.

Marketers should recognize a key lesson here - competitive advantage lies in reducing the gap between a consumer wanting and a consumer getting what, when, and where he or she wants.

Are you investing marketing dollars in attracting consumers only to have them put on hold, stand in line, search for a sales person, navigate an un-user friendly web site, etc.? Do you have a churn to competitors who are capitalizing by satisfying your impatient patrons better and quicker?

Successful marketers will be the ones who own the "NOW" with consumers by being hyper-sensitive to their valuable time.

Calling Dr. Freud: Treating Marketing Schizophrenia

The New Marketing Landscape Is Fertile Ground For The Disorder

By David Miranda

The American Heritage Dictionary defines schizophrenia as "any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances."

Marketing is supposed to be focused on conveying the best attributes of brands. Any casual observer of marketing today, however, might quickly come to the conclusion that it suffers sometimes from clinical schizophrenia. Here are few recent examples of the malady.

Ford Motor Company decided to end production of its once-popular Taurus. It created a new model, the Ford500. The 500 did not meet sales expectations, so Ford decided to rename it the Taurus. Diagnosis: delusional

In a New York Times article entitled, Makers of Sodas Try a New Pitch: They’re Healthy. Healthy soda? The article notes the frustration of Coke's Chairman Neville Isdell, that his industry is being singled out. Following Ford's lead, perhaps Coke's new tag line could be, "It's the real "healthy" thing, honest it is" Diagnosis: withdrawal from reality.

Cingular broke new ground by proclaiming in recent advertising by touting that they were not as bad as everyone else with their "Cingular has fewer dropped calls" spots. Could be the start of a new trend in advertising. How about "Applebee's - Fewer people get sick from our food" or "Hewlett-Packard - Our laptop batteries catch on fire less often." ? Diagnosis: illogical patterns of thinking.

Maybe the next marketing session should be on a psychiatrist's couch rather than a boardroom.

If you observe the disorder in others, strongly suggest they seek professional help.

Calling Dr. Freud.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Your Marketing Strategy - Will It Fly?

Apply Marketing "Aerodynamics"

By David Miranda

How many times have you heard the term "this thing won't fly" at a business meeting?

Imagine you and others have boarded a new airliner for its inaugural flight. As you enter the plane from the jetway, you are impressed with the modern look and feel. As you get settled in your seat, you are shown a video touting the features of the new plane - leather seats with ample legroom, a state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system, and large overhead storage bins. After the video, the pilot comes on to inform you of the plane's dimensions and cruising speed capabilities. The plane, the video, and the pilot's commentary prepare you for a great flight experience. As the plane pulls away from the gate, however, you look outside and, low and behold, you notice the plane has no wings. Critical omission to everyone on board. Makes everything else a little irrelevant, don't you think. Chances are everyone wants off the plane.

A similar situation occurs every day in the world of business, except it's a marketing strategy everyone's getting on board rather than a plane. Countless times, marketers pose a new marketing strategy touting the "sizzle" to those who they want "on board". More often than not, the strategy has "no wings". The "wings" are the substance of the plan - substance based on solid research and marketing science. Marketers are the aeronautical engineers of the business world. They are charged, first and foremost, that a strategy will fly, otherwise everything else, the bells and whistles, is irrelevant.

If you are asked to come on board one of these ill-conceived strategies, head for the nearest exit as fast as possible. If you are, on the other hand, asking people to get on board a strategy make sure its "air-worthy".

Have a go in the research "wind tunnel" and check the strategic "aerodynamics".

Monday, March 5, 2007

Leadership + Competency + Situation = Right Person

Recognizing It Takes The Right Person With The Right Skills For The Right Situation

By David Miranda

We have recently witnessed a rash of senior level revolving doors where high profile leaders were unceremoniously shown the door because of poor performance. Examples from both the private and public sectors include Carly Fiorina of HP, Bob Nardelli of Home Depot, Paul Pressler of The Gap, Kevin Rollins of Dell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey. By anyone's standards, each of these individuals were considered highly competent individuals, all with impressive bios. In 20/20 hindsight, they were not the right person for the right situations. Resumes and past performance were not indicators of future success in their new roles.

Although these high profile individuals get the most attention, appointing the wrong people with the right resumes without considering their competence and leadership to handle the situation at hand is pandemic in both the public and private sectors at all levels.

The common denominator of the people mentioned above was the inability to adapt to a new set of challenges. Each relied on people and methods from their previous experiences, i.e. "If it worked there and then, it will work here and now." They created an incestual, in-bred environment while their competitors found new and innovative solutions in a dynamically changing environment. Competent? Yes. Leaders? Yes. Situationally acute? No.

History has proven the point that it takes the right person at the right time doing the right things. Abraham Lincoln was the right person to lead the country during the Civil War. Martin Luther King Jr. was the right person to lead the Civil Rights Movement. Nelson Mandela was the right person to lead his country out of apartheid. Steve Jobs was the right person to reinvigorate Apple. Lee Iaccoca was the right person to lead the turnaround of Chrysler.

The common denominator of these individuals was and is their ability to recognize their respective challenges and apply their will, energy, and persuasive skills to impart dramatic and positive change to their constituents and to the world at large.

Whether you are selecting people for your small business or large multi-national, seek the best person who is best suited for the situation at hand. Look at the intangibles the person can bring to bear. As someone once said, leaders are born, not made. Real leaders have an innate ability to adapt and adjust to challenging situations. So it is important to get it right.

The right person = leadership + competence + situation.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

M.O.T.O.s - Masters Of The Obvious - A Rant

Telling Me Stuff I Already Know

By David Miranda

They seem to be everywhere. They're called Masters Of The Obvious or M.O.T.O.s for short. Chances are you had an encounter with one or more M.O.T.O.s today - or will. I had a recent M.O.T.O. encounter at a marketing meeting. The topic was the changing marketing landscape and the impact of new media channels and changing media consumption patterns for consumers.

Halfway through the meeting, the M.O.T.O. spoke up, but first how do you spot a M.O.T.O.? It's very difficult because M.O.T.O.s are masters of disguise. They actually look like normal intelligence human beings until they begin to opine on a subject - any subject - and then show themselves.

Back to the meeting, the M.O.T.O. said, "The change in the marketplace is inevitable. I predict it will continue at a rapid pace. Consumers are using the Internet dramatically more than just a short decade ago. This will have a dramatic impact on how we market to consumers, particularly the more tech-savvy. Although broadcast television, terrestial radio, and newspapers will not soon go away, they will be challenged by newer media alternatives."

Yep, this is a M.O.T.O. - a Master Of The Obvious. By the way he had charts and graphs to support his Nostradamic analysis and predictions.

How many times has each of us been a meeting or conference to be intellectually accosted by these oracles of business? Everytime is the answer.

When Albert Einstein was a student, he was asked for his home address by the teacher. Instead of immediately responding, he scuffled through his notebook for it. The other students laughed that someone did not know their address. Albert responded, "I never keep something in my head that I can find somewhere else. My brain is for original thoughts."

M.O.T.O.s of the world take heed. Have some compassion. Spare us the obvious.

Devote your life to telling us stuff we don't know.

Okay, there, I've got that off my chest.