Category Archives: Brand Management

Social for Business

Sam Decker of BazaarVoice has posted a cogent, well-supported argument on the business benefits of social applications.  Many of the themes will be familiar to readers of this blog, including the substantial cross-functional reduction of Friction that can take place when you have this kind of data, and some of the cultural issues surrounding adoption of the data-driven culture.

Here’s what I don’t get though.  Many of these goals could be accomplished though customer service analysis and other data the company already has.  In fact, you could argue in many cases, the data you get from internal sources would be better since you could work some of the bias out of it and correlate with actual behavior.

Continue reading Social for Business

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Free Mulch

So this over 50 foot long,  Y-shaped branch falls on our house and blows a hole through the roof (click pictures to enlarge).

Bottom of branch

For those of you not familiar with summer in Florida, this is a bigger deal than you might think.  First off, it rains hard almost every day.  A hole in your roof is a serious problem in terms of the potential for a lot of interior water damage.

Continue reading Free Mulch

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Social TV

I’ve spoken in the past about our local CBS affiliate WTSP-10 and their Moms Tampa Bay effort as a great example of “old media” that gets Social and has created something quite powerful using that ‘ol stick of theirs.

WTSP’s 6 PM newscast now features “news pics” sent in by viewers in almost every show.  They headline the story, run through the video they have, and on the way out, the anchor says,

“Here’s some pictures of the scene sent in by our viewers”.

Nice effort to be more interactive.  If I was going to Optimize it, I’d like to see it a bit more personalization, which increases the prep time, of course.  But it would be nice to hear the anchor say “Jody in Seminole sent us this picture” or something similar. 

Continue reading Social TV

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Peak Engagement (Band 5)

Optimizing Individual Communications

Where the Band 4 Optimization optimizes general communications like newsletters, the Band 5 Optimization is all about hyper-targeted communications to individuals.  We’re talking mostly about special circumstance stuff here, more exotic ideas that may actually fall outside what you might traditionally think of as “Marketing”.

If Band 4 is the “Air Cover“, Band 5 is Special Ops (see Band Model).

In Band 5, you basically have algorithms of various kinds that are “sniffing” the databases looking for special situations that have exceedingly high ROMI.  Often, these ideas deal in one way or another with high value customers that appear to be dis-Engaging; many of these scenarios related to Marketing, Service, or Product in one way or another.

Continue reading Peak Engagement (Band 5)

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Push, then Pull

To summarize, there are significant forces in play that require Marketing folks to realize that optimizing Marketing goes far beyond media, message, response, and all the traditional MarCom stuff. 

To take advantage of these changes, there has to be a Strategic admission that Sales, Marketing, and Service are all parts of a customer-centric whole.  Interactivity forces this on you; it’s a Relationship Marketing environment.

CMO’s have an opportunity to step up and take control of this situation.  If they don’t, the job of integrating these disciplines will be handed to a Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer, or some other needless C-Level fabrication.  And that’s not really going to work, it’s a partial solution.

For those of you with Brand as your current primary focus, it should be easy to make the argument about why this integration matters and why you should be in charge of it.   If you don’t do something about really integrating all the customer facing disciplines, examples abound of the Brand damage that can occur

No amount of “Advertising” can fix Brand rot, you have to get to the Root Cause, which is probably cross-functional in nature.  It really doesn’t make sense to ignore excellence in execution and then react to the problems caused when you can discover, address, and fix these issues before they happen.

Here are some ideas to think about on the Tactical side:

1.  Don’t use Mass Media to try and build / close Relationships; that’s a waste of time.  Use Mass Media for what it’s very efficient at – creating Awareness and Intent.  The first step of the 2-step, it’s the Push part.  If Push sounds like it’s intrusive, remember people expect Push from Mass Media to begin with.  You have the proper context; that’s why Mass Media can be effective for Push.

Use unique taglines and phrases in the execution, knowing a search on the web is a high probability next step.  Google just released a study on what this looks like for newspapers, complete with a neat PDF diagram (see page 2).  Make sure the web team is prepped for the Mass Media, that they have optimized the unique taglines and phrases for Search, both Paid and Organic.

2.  Make sure the copy directly implies you are open for the Brand Promise to be tested in an interactive environment, where Brand Proof will take place.  This will usually be the web, but it could be a call center or other venue.  Invite those with Intent to convert this Intent to Desire through Interaction with you; this is Pull. 

Focus on driving curiosity and peaking Interest rather than selling, e.g. “Want to Know More?  Here’s our web site…”

3.  Pull is self-service, it’s about proper execution – consistency with the Mass message, ease of use, transparent, Relationship building.  Potential customer is now driving, you are awaiting response.  Answer the questions raised by the Brand Promise (on a web site or in the call center), allow them to be tested. 

Don’t simply repeat the Promise – that job has already been done, it’s a waste of time, it’s redundant, not respectful. 

Instead, fully and completely Expose the Brand Promise, let it stand for testimony.  Allow Brand Proof to take place.  This is not the time to be Intrusive; that’s out of context.  Make it easy for the prospect to feed back the experience, and be ready for the dialogue.  Relationship Marketing is an Exchange, a dance, two-way, back and forth.

React and Respond.  Be “Social”, if you want to call it that.

This portion of the program – which might consist of many different campaigns driving traffic into it – is where failure most often occurs, and where you get into this whole “customer is in control” thing. 

Like that’s a negative?  What they are in control of is their own process, and what’s the matter with that?  It’s enabling, empowering for the customer; it builds the Relationship.  Hopefully, what you have done here is given control; as opposed to having it taken from you.  There is a very big difference between the two.

If the customer has to “take control”, you’re doing something wrong.  You have broken processes, you have cross-functional chaos, you’re not enabling a dialog.  Or you’ve inflated promises, created false expectations, at worst, told half-truths.  You’re creating frustration.

That’s when customers feel like they have to take control from you.

That covers the Tactics for Aquisition (AIDA), I’ll tackle Retention (S) in the next post.  As always, Comments on are appreciated.

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The Desire in Desirability

So, what have we got with this Desirability thing?  Let’s start with a Strategic View, and then get down to the Tactical “what it means to me at work” stuff.

Going back to the classic AIDAS (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action, Satisfaction) Psychological model of buying behavior, I think what we are seeing is a gradual acceptance by traditional Brand Marketers that:

1.  The actual definition of “Brand” is changing
2.  A media type is best optimized for a specific AIDAS job

1.  Brand is traditionally a premium strategy – I convince you to pay more for essentially the same goods because they have this “Brand”.  But there is increasingly an experiential component required of Brands, a “proof” of sorts that affirms the Brand Promise / Premium.  These proofs often reach deep into areas outside what most people think of as “MarCom”. 

So now you’re talking about package and product design (Usability), you’re talking about Service, you’re talking about Customer Experience.  All of this together is now Brand. 

Brand is both Promise and Payoff.

2.  This means Brand folks now effectively have a two-step to execute: they can create a Brand Image / Promise – Attention and Interest – with the Mass media, but actual Payoff / Action requires an “affirmation” of Brand Promise.  These affirmations now take place largely through web research and interactivity. 

In other words, with the consumer knowing they have easy access to tons of fact and opinion on a product through the web, they’re probably not going to make it to the Desire phase without doing a few minutes of research first.

These Affirmations create Desirability, which leads to Action.

Put simply, Mass media can no longer drive people through the entire AIDAS cycle.  It loses them at Interest, where the web largely takes over the role of creating Desire.

This is the hard linkage between Engagement and Desirability.  Engagement is a measure of Desirability, of the Brand to “pull” people into the Desire phase of AIDAS from the Interest phase and through to taking Action.  You can “push” people into Awareness and even Interest, but you have to “pull” people into Desire and Action.  A two-step, as it’s known in direct. 

The qualifier and the closer, the front-end and the back-end.

None of this means Mass media is dead, or Web media is better, or Social Media Rules, or any of that. What it means is you can waste a lot of Marketing budget saying the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong time.  More about that when we talk about Tactics.  It also means MarCom folks should think about becoming true Marketing folks if they want to succeed in the long run.

If you’d like to read detailed background on the Brand / Media idea above, see Online, the Web Site is the Ad.   More background on the proper (Strategic) role of Marketing in the Integrated Interactive business model is found at CMOs: Strategic Seat = Chief Customer Officer.

What do you think?  Is this model of Media and Behavior making sense to you?  Anything broken?

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Want Engagement? Get Desirability

Forrester’s Marketing Forum this year covered Engagement, but not the kind of Engagement so often discussed in web analytics. 

Nope, Engagement from a Marketing perspective, you know, surprise and delight leads to better customer experiences leads to better customer retention and higher profits.

The presentation came complete with some nifty offline Engagement examples, e.g. the more a patient is Engaged in their healthcare the better the result.  The improved results came from, get this, “improving doctor usability”.  And yes, there was a test on this business optimization effort with tangible results generated.

You can get a good feel for where this conversation is headed from Jeremiah Owyang’s blog by listening to the 2 Forrester keynotes, each about an hour long.  For those short on time, pick one, depending on your interest:

Strategic Level: platforms, frameworks, etc. from Brian Haven

Tactical Level: examples, “how to” etc. from Kerry Bodine

No time for a video? 

For a bulleted list of the key points you need to understand in order to optimize your Marketing model, see the “Five Fundamentals of Integrated Marketing” ClickZ article here.

I’ll have more to say on why these ideas are so important in the next couple of days.  For now, I will leave you with this:

If the customer is taking control, it’s only because you’re using the wrong Marketing model, maybe one like this one.  No customer wants to have to “take control” in the first place. 

The more Engaging you are, the less old-school “pray and spray” Marketing  – online or offline – you should have to do. 

That’s the whole point of Engagement.

Comments on the videos or article?  Anything ring a bell for you?

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*** Print Outperforms Digital

If you are interested in some of the broader Marketing issues that have come up in this romp through Display Advertising in Social Media, the Wharton School recently published a couple of pieces.

This first one talks about the Engagement Value of snail mail versus e-mail.  Some of the interesting quotes:

“In marketing [terms], email is transactional; paper is relational.”

“It seems like a person sending a written note vs. a person sending email is investing more of himself or herself in that communication. It takes more effort to write a letter, and people often equate effort with how much a person cares.” 

In other words, an electronic relationship requires very little investment on either side, so the level of Emotional Impact it creates versus print is lower.  I have seen this in action, for example, using post cards to re-activate (sorry, re-Engage) lapsed online customers. 

Here’s a link to the article: ‘Dead Tree’ Medium No Longer: For Many Marketers, Print Outperforms Digital

Related to my examples of Social Media that Works, and especially the Moms Tampa Bay project, we have an article on mixing and balancing professional with amateur content and the Trust issues there. 

Couple of quotes:

“Some things that look amateur are professional and vice versa. You never really know what’s going on. And it’s hard to track these things down without cross checking. The digital environment is putting an enormous responsibility on the consumer.”

“It’s amusing that two of the examples the Newsweek article cites as examples of the ‘revenge of the experts’ — Mahalo and — are what I would call amateur sites. They don’t use professional journalists or researchers; they use knowledgeable enthusiasts to serve as human filters. The fact that those human filters get paid doesn’t change anything. What makes someone an amateur isn’t the absence of money; it’s the absence of traditional credentials.”

Here’s a link to the article: Experts versus Amateurs: A Tug of War over the Future of Media

Have a good weekend!

PM Update:

See also User Generated Magazines and The Future of Advertising for additional thoughts in these areas.

P.S.  Speaking of offline verus online Relationships, Engagement, and Trust, if you’re going to the Toronto eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, I’ll be teaching the WAA BaseCamp session Monday and speaking on Tuesday – see ya there.

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Too Engaged to Pay Attention?

So we take the report on Natural Born Clickers and the results of our Lab Store AdSense Optimization and what do we have?

I’m thinking about a basic model for understanding the potential effectiveness of online advertising based on Engagement.  Basically:

The more Engaged a person is with the task at hand, the less Attention they have for out-of-context advertising.

The gross amount of Attention available on the web is finite.  That means if you pay Attention to one thing, you have to ignore something else.  This creates Attention winners and Attention losers.  In general, for any space available for advertising, in-context wins and out-of-context loses.  That’s Relevance, right?   Therefore, out-of-context ads should be much less effective than in-context ads.

So, for example, if the task is Research, and a person is using a Search Engine, the PPC ads focused on the Research topic are highly relevant and Attention gets paid to them.  Also, in the same Research mode, if a person is searching or participating in a Chat Board focused on the topic, display ads focused on the Research topic are viewed as highly relevant and Attention gets paid to them.

However, if the task is (for example) interacting with a social media account, then very little Attention is available for advertising – PPC or otherwise – because all other advertising would be out of context with the task, except ads directly related to the task, such as for widgets or tools.  This effect would generally explain the concept of Banner Blindess, since most display advertising is completely out-of-context.  People just learn to ignore it.

Not breakthrough thinking in Consumer Behavior or Psychology but for Online Advertising it might be, considering the number of business models nowadays that plan for “advertising” to be the revenue stream.  In fact, it’s quite possible that the more Engaging they make these social apps, the less effective the Advertising will be.

It’s about the limited amount of Attention any one person can have.

When ads are in context, you get an effect much more like that of Fashion or Hot-Rod Magazines, where the ads are part of the content, they are part of the Engagement and so get Attention.  Out of context, much less Attention, if any.  Not part of the content, screened out.

For the same ad, PPC or Display.  In other words, it’s not the delivery method that matters, it’s the context and available Attention.  PPC ads by their very nature just happen to have the context problem solved.

For example, a TV ad running in the middle of a favorite TV show is much more effective on an individual than the same TV ad that plays in the background while someone is Engaged with a project on the computer.  Same ad, different context.

Now, here’s the thing.  This idea makes a lot of sense.  Can we expect anyone with scale to test it, prove it empirically?  I dunno, because an awful lot of business models will get completely hammered if it is true.

The test would be pretty simple:

1.  Define Engagement – really not too hard for this, it’s how many “actions” take place per unit of time.  Seems to me this would capture the whole Attention thing; if you are busy taking actions, that’s where your Attention is. 

2.  Run both in-context and out-of-context ads during the measurement period.  Display or PPC.

3. a.  Measure clicks and conversion, if that is your game
    b.  Measure Awareness and Intent, if that is your game

4.  Compare results

Does anybody think that out-of-context advertising would win, or at least match in effectiveness?

If there is a difference, what does it mean for biz models relying on out-of-context impressions?  What can they do to correct this problem?

The next post in this series is here.

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Interview-Podcast w/ Jim Novo

Friend and fellow blogger Alan Rimm-Kaufman spent some of his valuable time asking my opinion on various online marketing issues in a far-ranging interview and podcast.

We met in person for the first time doing a presentation together at the DMA show in Chicago this fall, and because he used to work at Crutchfield – a truly customer-driven remote retailer – we share some experiences and beliefs.

For those of you who might be wondering where a lot of the Marketing Productivity ideas I post here come from, this interview-podcast is probably a pretty good backgrounder.  We talk about a lot of stuff, including:

Monetizing customer experience

Importance of Control Groups / Source Attribution

Multichannel Marketing Strategy

LifeCycle Contact Strategy versus Calendar-based

Retail Business Models / Lab Store

Search box or not? / Serendipity

How to tell if online customers are really engaged – without web analytics

Here’s another link to the Interview-Podcast.  Enjoy! 

That was lots of fun, thanks Allen!

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