Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Where's Waldo?" - Cutting Through The Clutter

Making Sure Your Brand Stands Out From The Crowd

By David Miranda

We've all been exposed to Martin Handford's famous franchise, "Where's Waldo?" where one views a picture of countless characters in a crowded setting and the challenge is to find the stealthy bespectacled "Waldo". Depending on your visual acuity and search technique, you eventually find him. Of course, from that point of discovery thereafter, every time you view the picture, you immediately find him.

Every day consumers and brands play "Where's Waldo?" for real in the marketplace and the stakes are serious - brand recognition, sales, and market share, i.e. before someone buys your product or service they have to know about it - and find it! Sounds simple, but in a crowded and cluttered marketplace there are many "Waldos" and this is why marketing is critical.

A company cannot simply introduce a brand in a crowded landscape. It must develop a compelling and recognizable brand (Waldo); position the brand to distinguish it from the other "Waldos"; and communicate and reinforce with consumers where to find (purchase) the brand's offerings. This is a relentless pursuit since the landscape continues to change and more Waldos are putting themselves in the picture every day.

Make your Waldo obvious to consumers every day with smart marketing.

Friday, August 29, 2008

No Country For Old Marketing

If You're Pining For the "Good Ole Days", You're History In Today's Marketplace

By David Miranda

Pundits opine daily whether the country is in a recession or merely a "slowdown" as the President recently described the present economic malaise.

Whatever term one decides to use, the fact is that record foreclosures, credit card debt, trade and budget deficits, and gas prices; declining value of the dollar; 48 million uninsured citizens; soft housing market; a credit crunch and a volatile stock market set the stage make for a challenging time moving forward for marketers.

What companies will do is predictable - they will contract and adapt to survive or be added to the "endangered species list". In a slowdown or recession, there is a "culling of the herd".

In this environment, advertising and promotion will not solve their company's revenue problems. As a matter of fact, desperate measures by desperate competitors could exascerbate the problem.

This is no country for old marketing.

What to do?

  1. Don't panic.

  2. Recognize and protect your base (your most loyal and frequent customers) from being "poached" by competitors.

  3. Improve your price/value offering to consumers, i.e. adding value rather than reducing price.

  4. Manage "stratactically", i.e. although economic slowdowns are typically characterized by tactical warfare, always consider the strategic implications of your tactics. Example: reducing prices instead of adding value will have long term negative implications on revenue and margins.

  5. Be proactive, not reactive. A "me-too" tactical approach, i.e. waiting to see what the other guys are doing, can be fatal in a hyper-competitive environment.

  6. Amputate anything that is extraneous to success, i.e. products, services, people.

  7. Get back to basics.
Now get on with it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recognizing Greatness - Understanding The Creative "Bell Curve"

Most Creative Is Above Or Below Average - Demand "Great"

By David Miranda

Statistically, everything in life (and marketing) falls on some point of a bell curve, i.e. 2-3% of everything sucks, 94-96% of everything is below or above average, and 2-3% of everything is great. The challenge is demanding great and not settling for anything less.

Nobody says "keep up the fair work" to inspire anyone.

Nowhere is this truer than in marketing creativity.

In today's hard-to-reach consumer environment, the currency of the realm is ideas - ideas that differientiate one brand from all others in the hearts, minds, and ultimately the wallets of consumers - ideas that sell stuff.

What's a great idea? MasterCard's "there are some things money can't buy. For everything else there's MasterCard." This is great idea.

For years, MasterCard was a poor Number Three in marketing after American Express (Don't leave home without it) and Visa (It's everywhere you want to be). During this time, MasterCard struggled to find its brand identity that would differentiate itself. It's previous unsuccessful tage line was "MasterCard, Smart Money". Now after seeking not just another mediocre campaign, it found greatness - and great success in the "Priceless" campaign while American Express and Visa now search for new ways to counteract MasterCard's success.

There are other examples of greatness - The Chik-fil-a "Cows", Nike's "Just Do It", The Aflac "duck", and the Apple "PC vs Apple" campaign to name a few.

It's high time that advertisers demand greatness found only in that 2-3% of the creative bell curve. This means that advertisers should say no to 97% of what they are presented from agency creatives.

Say no to mediocrity, say yes to great ideas.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TIVO For The Web? Protection Against Weapons Of Distraction

Will The Web Have An Ad-Skipping, Ad-Zapping Technology?

By David Miranda

I was minding my own business (or at least I thought I was) online visiting a number of my bookmarked sites as well as a few others visited for the first time. Then it started. The relentless onslaught of advertising - banners, skycrapers, sponsored links, auto-play audio and videos (with pre and post roll ads), floating ads, pop up and pop under ads, flash ads, expanding ads, etc. etc.

Some of the videos and audio, I could not stop and they even continued to play beneath the page I was viewing. As I scrambled to find the elusive close button or my volume button, I got increasingly irritated at a combination of perceived responsible parties - the advertiser, their agency, the publisher, and the ad network. I was trying to enjoy my time online and was relentless ambushed by weapons of distraction.

Is it any wonder that click through rates for online ads is like .001%. Is the other 99.999% telling us something. The online ad industry talks about engagement and behavioral targeting to provide contextual ads to the right audience. Let's call it what it is - ambush marketing.

Will someone invent a TIVO for the Web? I'd say it's a certainty. Will consumers embrace such a service? Little doubt. What would be the impact of a Web TIVO to the medium? Devastating.

What's the solution to head this off? Online advertisers and publishers need to be an advocate for the online consumer. Eliminate things that irritate, aggravate, and annoy the consumer. Think long and hard about deploying advertising that puts the consumer on the defense trying to find the "leave me alone" or "how do I turn this damn thing off" buttons.

The options are "do the right thing" or say hello to Web TIVO.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Recognition Strengthens Relationships

Letting Customers Know You Care

While idly channel surfing recently, I chanced upon the Dr. Phil show. He was counselling a midde-aged married couple whose relationship had, obviously, become strained over the years. The wife related that she did not feel appreciated by her spouse. She was a working mom who, by her account, bore the largest share of the day-to-day domestic responsibilities. Her husband agreed with her assessment and said he was quite aware of his wife's contributions, and he countered that, not only was he the primary breadwinner, but he, over the course of the marriage, showered his wife periodically with various gifts, travel, and fine dining to show his appreciation. Still she was not happy. He could not understand why.

Dr. Phil listened intently and then presented some sage advice. He told the husband he took his spouse for granted. He opined that a healthy relationship is based on recognition - daily recognition that your spouse is your life partner. Periodic gifts, travel, and dining are no substitutes for personal recognition. "How was your day? "Take a break. You've had a rough day. I'll tend to the dishes." or just an embrace and "Have I told you I love you lately?"

It's high time that marketers had a little relationship therapy. It's called Recognition Marketing.

Marketers, too, have taken people for granted - their customers. Marketers spend a great deal of time, money, and lip service on how important their customers are; but there is a large gap between the preaching and the practice. Marketers are aware customers are important, but do they recognize their importance in thoughts and deeds?

Put your consumer hat on for a moment. When was the last time you were greeted when you entered a store, as in, "Good afternoon. Welcome to Acme, my name is Amy. If there is anyway I can be of assistance while you are here, please let me know." ? Or how about when you made a purchase, when was the last time you heard, "Thank you for shopping with us. We hope we will see you back soon."?

In this business world of sophisticated customer databases, wouldn't it be useful to recognize return customers at the point-of-sale, as in, "Mr. Smith, thank you for your continued patronage. On behalf of Acme, thank you for your business."? Or how about periodic thank you letters to frequent customers, as in, "We sincerely appreciate your business. As a token of our appreciation, please accept this coupon for 10% off your next visit."?

The result - a strategic competitive advantage over those who seek to solicit business only on price. All other things being equal, customers will respond to those that recognize their business. Recognition marketing also has P&L benefits since it cost five time more to acquire a customer than retain one.

Recognition marketing is not a program as much as it is a disciplined business philosophy. Recognize the lifetime value of your customers, give them the recognition they demand. Give your customers a big mental hug and let them know you love them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Today's Roadrunner - The Elusive Consumer

Marketing Lessons For The Marketing Wile E. Coyotes

By David Miranda

We have all enjoyed the futile exploits of Wile E. Coyote in his relentless quest to catch the elusive Roadrunner. Episode after episode, Wile E. concocts ingenious schemes which always includes gadgets from his favorite supplier, Acme, and always unsuccessful as the Roadrunner always escapes in a "beep, beep" and a cloud of dust. You must admire, however, Wile E.'s work ethic. Despite being repeatedly blown up, flattened by trucks and trains, burned to a crisp, and long swan dives into deep canyons, he always picks himself up; devises a new plan, and gets a new shipment from Acme.

Some marketers today have a great deal in common with Wile E. Coyote in their pursuit of the consumer, their version of the Roadrunner. Today's consumer is a smart and elusive prey. The Wile E. Coyote marketers devise ingenious plans to entice consumers and their Acme (media) supplies them with television, radio, print, outdoor, direct mail, the internet, and mobile to name of few. But more often than marketers would like to admit, they are less successful than anticipated. So like Wile E., they dust themselves off, look for a new agency and try again.

Wile E. Coyote marketers could use some sound marketing advice.

  • Even creative geniuses need to be reminded of the real objective-capturing the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers. Don't let a seemingly great idea distract from the real objective - getting a consumer to buy something. Sometimes marketing campaigns may win advertising awards, but fail to move the revenue needle.
  • Stop trying to come up with that one big idea that will produce spectacular results. Good marketing should build equity with consumers - engage them, create a relationship that generates lifetime value for the brand.
  • Be the consumer. Put yourself in his or her shoes. Understand their behavior, their characteristics, their perspectives. Get oneself outside the ivory tower of isolation and insulation.
  • Learn from one's mistakes and quickly. Learn from one's successes and quickly.
  • In today's diversified media landscape, extend your brand across all channels relevant to your target audience. It's about content, context, convenience, and control for the consumer.

In summary, to capture today's elusive Roadrunner consumer adapt accordingly, or prepared to hear the dreaded "beep, beep" as they disappear, not in a cloud of dust, but to smarter competitors.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Marketers - Discover Your "Sense Of Human"

Remember People Buy Your Stuff, Not Marketing "Terms"

By David Miranda

Imagine going to a dinner party at a friend's house. On arrival, you knock at the door and no one answers. You discover the door is open and you enter the foyer to see a sign that says "Please wait to be seated". You observe the hosts scurrying around the premises arranging this and that while you (and other arriving guests) are massing at the door. They see you, smile, continue their activities and you hear one say to the other "looks like a number of our target audience have arrived." Finally one of the hosts comes over and the first words out of their mouth is "how many in your party?". They seat you in the living room and then ask "can I get you anything from the bar?" and then immediately disappear while you and other guests stare at each other in utter disbelief. Have these people gone mad?

Sounds crazy, but this is the typical reception that people get in restaurants every day. It is an example of the restaurant people losing "their sense of human".

It also happens in marketing where people are seen as "targets", "prospects", "eyeballs", "impressions", "click thoughs", "Gen Xers", etc. Are these the terms that these same marketers use to describe their family, friends, neighbors, colleagues? Of course not. Ever receive a direct mail solicitation addressed to you, but with the caveat "or the existing occupant"? Makes one feel very special. Or how about........

.........."Hello, mom. As a key target audience of our family, I noticed that you did not "click through" on the email I previously forwarded to confirm our call today." or.......... "Honey, our Gen Y neighbors contacted us today in response to our direct mail solicitation for a free home-cooked dinner offer. I reminded them to present the enclosed coupon on their arrival to our home."

Marketing has de-humanized the people that they wish to "engage" to buy their stuff. Simply put, marketers have lost their "sense of human".

If airlines, for example, discovered their sense of human they would be concerned about how people were treated during the typical airport experience - from departure to arrival. Airlines, however, consider people that travel "passengers" - customers that pay various fares to get from Point A to Point B - hopefully with their luggage.

So marketers need to consider this when thinking about getting people to want to buy their stuff.

Think of them as human beings. Discover your "sense of human".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Successful Powerpoints - Blurb Your Enthusiasm

In An A.D.D. World, Make Your Message Short, Sweet, and Memorable

By David Miranda

Our collective attention spans have dramatically shortened over the years and it continues to shrink. We suffer from an A.D.D. pandemic - we scan, browse, peruse, channel surf television channels, radio stations, newspapers, internet sites, magazine articles, outdoor signs, emails, voice mails, brochures, direct mail, trade show booths, business data, executive summaries - and yes, powerpoints. This is a direct result of a confluence of factors including time poverty and compression, uber-content and distribution channels, and multi-tasking.

Despite the marketplace A.D.D., many marketers feel compelled to develop painfully long and arduous powerpoint presentations that defy logic. The result? Audiences turn off and tune out long before the point is made.

In this A.D.D. world, presenters, literally, have seconds to get someone's attention and minutes to compel an audience to listen further before they mentally turn off. This said, presenters continue to make mistakes. Here are some helpful do's and don'ts for a successful powerpoint presentation - how to "blurb your enthusiasm" in the time allotted.


  • keep the powerpoint to 10 slides or less

  • have a theme

  • utilize an eye-pleasing and readable color pallette and font type/size for the presentation one that is printable in black&white as well as colr since many people like to print out presentations.

  • have a compelling title slide, i.e. a compelling title of what are you talking about and why they should listen; your name, title, and affiliation; and the date.

  • have an agenda slide which lets the audience know what to expect and in what order, i.e. history, the current landscape, trends, the business implications, the solutions, summary, contact info. In other words "tell them what you are going to tell them; then tell them; and then summarize what you told them."

  • make each slide easy to quickly peruse - utilize simple graphics when appropriate; keep copy short and sweet, use memorable "sound bites".

  • provide sources/attibutions for third party data.

  • leave time for Q&A either during of after the presentations.


  • utilize unnecessary hyperbole, self-engrandizement (greatest, best, exciting, etc.),or unsubstantiated claims.

  • use too much industry lingo. People should not need a glossary.

  • use complex charts and graphs with lots of data points, particularly on one slide.

  • employ unnecessary animation or slide "builds". It can be distracting and counter-productive.

  • "dis" the competition to make yourself look better. It generally backfires.

  • have too many bullet points on a slide

In summary, to deal with an A.D.D. audience, blurb your enthusiasm in your powerpoint.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"We've Got To Stop (Internally) Meeting Like This!"

We Are Singing Off The Same Song Sheet, But We Aren't Making "Music"

By David Miranda

The cliches' are numerous describing teamwork and collaboration, i.e. "let's all get on the same page"; "we need to sing off the same song sheet"; "we all need to be rowing in the same direction", etc. Yada yada yada.

Truth be told, most internal meetings, despite the good intentions, are a waste of time. People meet just to meet - to review the minutes of the last meeting; plod through the agenda of the current meeting; and confirming the date and time of the next meeting.

An internal meeting is nothing but corporate overhead. At you next internal meeting, look around the room. What you will see is pure cost to the enterprise. If you are going to have an internal meeting, ask yourself the question "what is the ROI on the overhead of this meeting?", i.e. "How much revenue and/or profit is going to be generated as a result of our collective time in this room?"

One might argue that some meetings are necessary to discuss operational, human resources, accounting, processes, software, etc. This is true, but shouldn't all these subjects be discussed in terms of improving the company's financial performance. Otherwise what's the point?

If you are in a meeting where there is no discussion of top or bottom line, raise your hand and ask politely, "what does this meeting have to do with the company's financial performance?"

A relevant meeting begins with a relevant objective, i.e. "We need to increase our revenue by 4%" or "reduce our costs by 5%" or "increase our market share by 1%". "That's what this meeting is for so let's start the discussion".

People are generally eager to attend and participate in meetings that are action and objective oriented- where they can see results.

They don't want just to "sing off the same song sheet", they want to make "music" - as in revenue, profits, and market share.

Are You Covering All The Media Bases With Your Brand?

The New Media Continuum - Extending The Brand Horizontally

Not long ago, the media landscape was much simpler. People woke up to the radio alarm tuned to their favorite AM/FM station; read the local newspaper; turned on the television as they sipped their morning coffee. On their way to work, they listened to the car radio including traffic reports and passed countless outdoor advertising. Sure there are still many that follow the same routine, but the media landscape has changed for many American households.

Today, people may still wake up to an alarm, not necessarily the radio. Then they might check their cell phone for calls or text messages or their Blackberry for emails. Instead of the morning newspaper, many go online to read the latest news or check email. More consumers are less likely to have home delivery of the local daily. Off to work, instead of the radio, they may be making cell calls or listening to their iPods.

And so the day goes. New media channels spawning new consumer behavior.

Of course, there is no typical consumer and no typical behavior, but make no mistake about it. The media landscape is morphing and marketers must insure brands are extended horizontally across this new landscape. The chart below reflects a sampling of the new 24/7 media world. How often does your brand touch people during a typical day?


It is important to analyze how effective your media plan is in reaching consumers across an entire day including individual day parts, particularly mobile and the Internet since these allow consumer access anytime, anywhere, anytime.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Note To Marketers - Rip Off Your Rear View Mirror!

Where You've Been Has Little To Do With Where You Need To Go

By David Miranda

Yogi Berra, Hall Of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees and guru of the spoken word, once said, "The future ain't what it used to be." This couldn't be any truer than in marketing. Just a few years ago, we had not heard of Google, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, blogs, Tivo, Apple's "i" products, etc. Today, each has had a dramatic impact on how people communicate and consume media. None of these were found in the rear view mirror.

Today too many marketers, however, still drive marketing strategy looking in this rear view mirror. The result is an accident waiting to happen and many already have littering the marketing landscape with the road kill of victims - some deceased, some fatally injured.

The list of casualties is extensive - bricks & mortar travel agents, book and music stores; newspaper classifieds; printed yellow pages; print journalism; music labels; the :30 sec ad spot, etc. etc., and there's more to come.

What are marketers to do?

First, rip off the rear view mirror. Next, pay attention to the road ahead. Next, rid yourself of superstitious marketing behavior, i.e. believing that what was successful in the past will continue to work. Finally, don't be afraid to fail trying new things. Not being afraid to fail is different from wanting to succeed.

No more rear view mirrors.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Marketing - "Don't Let School Interfere With Your Education"

Academia Has It Place, But An "Advanced Degree" of Life Experience Is More Important

By David Miranda

Imagine attending an elite music school to study piano and for four years you learn everything there is to know about the instrument - except playing it. Upon graduation, with a "piano" degree in hand, you apply to a symphony orchestra for employment as a concert pianist. Your impressive credentials get you an interview at which you are asked to play. You respond that you have never played a single note.

This, of course, is an absurd example to make a point, but the point is important to make - school is important, but experience is critical in applying the academics.

In marketing today, it is difficult to find practictioners who have not earned undergraduate or post-graduate degrees in business or marketing. The difference between those that just have jobs and those that excel at their jobs, however, can be attributed to experience - learning in real world situations - and applying that key learning in real world situations.

In marketing, there is no such thing as doing things "by the book". In fact, there is no book on how to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace. Some people might encourage others to "think outside the box", but there is no box. That's why they call it thinking.

When someone asked a great musician on the eve of his concert in New York, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" He quickly replied, "Practice, practice, practice".

Don't let school interfere with your education. "Practice, practice, practice" what you have learned - in school and in real life.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Marketing Is A Lot Like Game Shows

Jeopardy, Deal Or No Deal, The Price Is Right, Wheel Of Fortune - Sound Familiar?

By David Miranda

Marketing has a lot in common with television game shows.

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? - How many times have you asked yourself "is your boss smarter than a fifth grader?" He or she sometimes doesn't appear to have the sense of a grammar school student in coming to grips with things so obvious, a fifth grader would get it.

Wheel of Fortune - Some marketers rely on a "spin of the wheel" to determine a brand's latest direction rather than the practice of best marketing practices. They can't seem to solve the "puzzle" so they relent and say "I'll spin again, Alex".

Deal Or No Deal - Some marketers simply cannot make a decision. They study, they research, they analyze, they re-analyze while the opportunities pass them by.

The Price Is Right - Marketers sometimes forget that it is the consumer who is the ultimate arbitor of price. It doesn't matter what the "suggested retail price" is, it only matters if it is the price that people are willing to pay.

Jeopardy - Can't push that "answer button" for consumers faster than your competitors? Can't provide the right "solutions" for consumers? You lose.

The final Jeopardy answer is "Profits".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"We're A (Expletive Deleted) Law Firm That Sells Stuff"

Lawyers - Should They Keep You Or Get You Out Of Trouble?

By David Miranda

I was speaking with a frustrated senior marketing executive friend of mine whose employer will go unnamed for this article. Asked the source of his frustration, he vented "we are a (expletive deleted) law firm that sells stuff."

After working long and arduous hours on coming up with his brand's new marketing campaign, he was required to have legal sign off on it. He said he submitted the campaign to the legal department and it was returned, weeks later, with red lines, comments in margins, scratch outs, line throughs, Post-It tabs, etc. Notes included "we can't say that", "we can't do this", "we think it would be better if this were added" etc.

Hence, the love/hate relationship between the legal and marketing departments that goes on day in and day out in the corporate world and the key question - Should a lawyer's role in marketing be to keep you out of trouble or get you out of trouble? There is no black or white answer, but there is common ground to be sought.

Lawyers should be imbedded and involved in the marketing process from the beginning. Does this require marketing-savvy lawyers or legal-savvy marketers? The answer is both.

But let's be clear. Marketers should not try to write "legal" copy and lawyers should not attempt to be marketing copywriters. Collaboration is the key to success. In marketing, there is a direct correlation between the amount of hyperbole in the campaign and the amount of "mouse print" disclaimer required by risk-averse legal counsel. For the consumer, the more mouse print disclaimer, the greater the need to take pause, as in, caveat emptor or "read the fine print".

The key objective for marketers should be to create a simple and compelling offer that is clearly stated and understood by the intended audience, i.e. does "free" mean "free" or have we gotten to the unfortnate position to a Clintonian parsing of "it depends what "is" is."

Don't be a "law firm that sells stuff". Be a great brand that says what it means and means what it says in layman's terms - not legalese.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Helpful Hints For A Successful Elevator Pitch

Imagine Pitching To Your Oldest Living Relative

Mark Twain once said, "The more you explain it, the more I don't understand it."

I recently attended a marketing industry event attended by many new business entrants who were busy networking and touting their company's offerings to anyone who would listen. I had the opportunity to chat with a number of these companies and was on the receiving end of countless elevator pitches. Although I listened attentively to each pitch, I comprehended only about 1 in 10.

What was the problem with the other 9? It didn't matter to these people that "I got it". They were speaking "at me" not "to me". They used jargon I didn't understand and examples I could not relate to. Like Mr. Twain, the more they explained, the worse it got.

Here are some helpful hints on a successful elevator pitch:

  1. Imagine you are speaking to your oldest living relative. If they get it, anyone can.

  2. Qualify your audience before you begin, i.e. background, current knowledge of topic, etc. and customize your story accordingly.

  3. Tell a good story - why you matter in the big scheme of things compared to everybody else.

  4. Speak conversationally and speak slow.

  5. Avoid hyperbole and unsupported claims, i.e "we are the greatest, most innovative, etc.

  6. Minimize industry jargon

  7. Don't bash the competition

  8. Don't use a powerpoint unless requested.

  9. Take and ask questions - do they get it?

  10. Always follow up
Good pitching!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thinking Outside What Box?

Today There Is No Status Quo

By David Miranda

It's high time we "86ed" the concept of "thinking outside the box", the "box". of course, referring to the status quo. Today in marketing, there is no status quo and, therefore, no "box" to "think out of".

Not long ago, the media status quo was comprised and dominated by three major broadcast networks; terrestial radio; local newspapers; magazines; direct mail; telemarketing; point-of-sale, and billboards. This was "the box".

In a relatively short period of time, we have witnessed, not an evolution, but a revolution in the seemingly limitless permutations and combinations of media that has enabled anyone and everyone to determine their own media consumption patterns, i.e. where they get their news, entertainment, sports, business information. In short how they choose to interact with the rest of the world. If you want to reach new or existing customers, ambush marketing won't work. They will TIVO, pop-up ad filter, spam filter, Do Not Call and Do Not Mail list you with a check mark, a mouse click, or a TV remote. Knock, knock. Nobody's home.

Broadcast television has seen the successful entry of Fox with the most successful broadcast program of all time, American Idol, not to mention Fox's success in major sports programming. Cable and satellite companies have increased the number of channels delivered from three to hundreds, not to mention video on demand. Craig's List have wrestled classified ad business from newspapers. Google and others have invented a better search mousetrap that the Yellow Pages. eBay has digitized the yard sale to worldwide proportions. The mobile device has allowed consumers to talk, search, text, take pictures and movies, and email 24/7. Blogs, social networking sites, and the YouTubes of the world have enabled consumers to instantly "communitize" with just a few friends or with the rest of the world. New technology has enabled anyone to be anything from a movie maker to a journalist to a business mogul all with only a computer, some software, a high-speed connection, and their imagination - and with wi-fi, from anywhere and anytime.

In other words, the "box" has been boxed and put away in the attic of history.

Success today and for the future will require marketers to zero-base their thinking. Newspapers and magazines, for example, need to understand that they are in the news and information business, not the paper printing business to keep and build their audience (and advertising base). Movie studios are in the entertainment business, not in the business of producing content just for movie theaters or DVD. Music labels are not in the producing CD business; they are in the finding and development of talent business and finding an audience who wants to buy it business however they want to consume it.

Marketers are in the "getting more people to buy more products and services more often to make more money" business, not the campaign creation and execution business. The latter is simply a means to the end.

What business are you really in? Who are your current and prospective customers? How do they want to be communicated to? interacted with?

The time has passed to play with boxes.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Market Like An Insurgent Part I - "Know Your Adversary"

Be An Expert On Your Adversary

By David Miranda

To succeed as a marketing insurgent, you must first have a thorough understanding of your adversary which includes their leadership, command and organizational structure, culture, resources (both those deployed and in reserve), strategy and tactics (past and current), strengths and vulnerabilities, constraints, and their business cycle behavior.

Leadership - This is the brains of the enterprise. An insurgent needs to know who these people are and what makes them tick. Is the leadership aggressive or risk averse? Are they riding a wave of confidence or are they under fire? Are they dismissive of threats or vigilant?

Command & Organizational Structure - Does the adversary have a cumbersome bureacracy of many decision-making layers or are decisions delegated to empowered front liners?

Culture - Does the adversary encourage new ideas and innovation or do they embrace the status quo?

Resources - What is the level and quality of resources deployed to run the business? Does the adversary have significant resources in reserve to mount a counter-attack or survive a siege?

Strategy & Tactics - How does the adversary "play the game"? Study their strategy and seek out the pockets of opportunity. Observe their tactics to determine how they deal with changing market conditions and competitive threats.

Strengths and Vulnerabilities - An insurgent cannot go toe to toe with an adversary strengths. This will just deplete precious resources that a strong adversary can overcome with superior resources. Look for the Achilles Heal instead to exploit.

Constraints - What restrictions does the adversary have that constrains their performance? For example is the exploitable too small, too local, or too costly to pursue?

Business Cycle Behavior - What is the adversary business cycle? Where are the peaks and troughs of their business? How do they behave during these periods of high and low demand? Do they cut advertising during slow periods and spend more during peake periods or vice versa?
Coming Next - Market Like An Insurgent Part II - "Know The Terrain".