Alternative marketing thinking


Archive for the category “Open Source”

Anna Hazare and lazy protests in a frictionless world.

I just signed up an Avaaz petition supporting Anna Hazare. Took me one click and a five field form. In fact my form was incomplete, saved my mobile number from getting into yet another database.

In less than 30 seconds I had posted my contribution on my wall for my friends and their networks to view and participate. Felt good that I did my bit in helping weed out corruption in India.

I am an armchair protester you see, sitting in an air conditioned room, connected to broadband wifi, clicking away. Ah my bit. The world is in safe hands.

This is not a post about us armcharists. But about how easy it is to rustle up a group these days.

I counted and then lost count of the number of groups there are on Facebook goading us to to support the noble man. My search showed me 183 pages. There were more, but I gave up. Hard work Nishad. I am sure you understand my pain. Social networks make it easy. Click on a button and you are done. No money either.

There are online petitions, Facebook apps, Twitter widgets, what-have-yous. And there are millions of us taking the easy way out. Clicking on the create a group tab on Facebook without even looking if someone else has created one. Mind you there’s a search box on top of the page. And it is easier to join a group than to make one.

Would my contribution be good enough if I didn’t create my own thing? I am a geek you see. The guy who does cool things. Clicking a button is for others.

Maybe I should have started a group that protested the formation of so many groups supporting the Lokpal movement. Would have been quicker. Damn I spent half hour writing this…


Impulse Buying Killing You? Confess At The Altar Of Spendster

A pretty edgy looking site that’s designed to become a wailing wall of sorts for people who just can’t stop spending. Share your story of impulse buying, over-spending or just plain wasting money on the stuff you don’t need. Spendster, according to the site, began as the brainchild of the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) CEO, Ted Beck to give people a safe haven—a confessional, if you will—where they can talk about what they shouldn’t have bought. Better yet, what they could have saved if that money was put to more productive use. More at

Web Comforts Those Who Lost Trust In Their Banks

If people no longer trusted their banks, why would they trust some start-up with their most private financial information? As it turns out, interest in these sites is up, not down. Burned by their banks and the stock market, people seeking help with budgeting, saving and investing are turning to sites with names like Mint, SmartyPig, Cake Financial, Wesabe and Credit Karma. Visits to online personal finance sites are up threefold over last year, said Jim Bruene, founder of the trade publisher Online Financial Innovations, and many of the sites say they have grown quickly since the crisis worsened in September. “The worse the news was, the more people started using Mint,” said Aaron Patzer, founder and chief executive of the company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif. “People realize they need to get a better handle on their money.” “It’s the wisdom of the masses,” said Michael Healy, 33, a recruiter in San Francisco who discusses investments on Cake Financial. Marc Hedlund, co-founder and chief executive of Wesabe, said: “Oftentimes you don’t want to talk about stressful financial issues with your friends. Online, you can come in an anonymous way, talk about the things you’re struggling with and get feedback.” Read more in NY Times.

What Next For Obama’s 3 Million Database?

If you were one of the 3 million who received an e-mail or text message from the president-elect right before his acceptance speech in Grant Park thanking you for your support, you know that his outreach/marketing efforts and use of that database won’t end with his election.

Barack Obama and his marketing machine achieved unprecedented success in their use of direct/database marketing for a politician.

“We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next,” the personalized message from Mr. Obama read.

As effective as the database was during the election, many direct-marketing professionals said it can be even more important during his presidency.

Read more about how Obama could use Direct Marketing, his database and social networking during his presidency, from an Adage article….

Update: The first steps in engaging with people arounbd the world has already been sown, with a Change site

Choose Your Own Ads

LinkedIn has been getting a bit of buzz these days. After having opened up its platform for their party applications like Slideshare, LinkedIn has announced a self-service advertising that gives participants of the program the ability to choose and display the kind of ads they like. Read more on the LinkedIn blog.

Rules Of Word Of Mouth. WOMMA’S Guide To Better Influencer Marketing

The Influencer marketing handbook from Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Just the tool marketing and advertising professionals need at the time when more and more brands are trying to harvest the power of word of mouth.

The book which has been in the works for the past year is an attempt at understanding, defining, implementing and measuring word of mouth marketing programs. The handbook, available online on the WOMMA site, aims to provide practitioners of word of mouth marketing with the following information:

• Definition of an influencer and influencer marketing
• Types of influencers
• Methods to engage and thank influencers
• Guidelines for influencer self-regulation
• Bibliography of influencer communication research and practice.

The handbook looks at influencers from a historic perspective and discovers that the concept has been around for decades. As early as 1955 Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz wrote about it in their book, Personal Influence (Google Books link).

Their concept, still relevant today, is that some people have a disproportionate degree of influence on others and can be effective communications channels.

The WOMMA document divides influencers into five little groups, people with formal authority, like people in government who have the authority to make and implement laws that can change things around. The second bunch of people who can exert large amount of influence are experts and academics. Members of the media, media elite as WOMMA calls them are the third set of people who wield very large influence on subject matters they write about. Cultural elite make up the next group. Celebrities, musicians, artists and others who have their universe of followers. The final group are those WOMMA calls socially connected people with large number of friends in their social circles – Mavens – as Malcolm Gladwell has categorized them in his book The Tipping Point.

In the next chapter of the guidebook, WOMMA has laid out a bunch of simple, self regulating guidelines for the practitioners of word of mouth programs. From being honest with ideas that are circulated around in word of mouth networks, to have a program that listens, to respecting the rights of influencers, to asking influencers to be transparent about the programs they participate in, building respectful relationships with influencers, providing incentives for participating in brand programs and finally to thank participants of such activities.

The handbook has a final chapter on how to work effectively with influencers. Where once again WOMMA suggest that we as marketers and advertisers need to thank and engage with key influencers from time to time.

Here is a link to the handbook in full.

Moving on John Bell at the Digital Influence Mapping Project talks about the importance of word of mouth measurement in a recession.

And this study from word of moth specialists, Keller Fay group on America’s most talked about brands.

Vodafone’s Facebook Apps

Sensing that services like Twitter could start nibbling into their lucrative business Vodafone disrupts with its Connect to Friends App on Facebook (UK only for now). Using the app you can send short messages to people in your group, who also are on Vodafone using the Connect to Friends application.

New Media President. How Barack Obama Is Using Social Media To Win The White House.

It’s 3.30 am on Saturday morning, the 23rd August 2008, and millions of mobile phones across America were woken up with a TXT message from Obama campaign . Joe Biden has been chosen as running mate. For those who don’t know the background, weeks ago the Democratic nominee has promised supporters that they would be first to know who the Vice Presidential candidate. For this any interested person could register their mobile number on the campaign site.

In an anti-news-cycle strategy, designed to give the bloggers, emailers, MySpacers and FaceBookers time to get the drop on all the C-suite media companies – CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, etc.

The strategy doesn’t end there. When the Democratic convention kicks off on Monday, 25th August 2008, in Denver it will be a transforming moment in the annals of American media and technology, the moment when the new kids on the block eclipse – or at least grab equal footing – with the so-called establishment.

Call it the Obamedia Frenzy. In Denver, the hordes of media from newspaper, magazine and cable and broadcast news outlets will be competing for stories with scores of bloggers and so-called citizen journalists kitted out by digital juggernauts Google, MySpace and YouTube.

There will also be writers from two influential online news sites that did not exist four years ago, The Huffington Post and Politico – not to mention unconventional outlets like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a nightly comedy programme that has become one of the nation’s most trusted news sources.

At a time when many so-called mainstream news organisations in the US are grappling with shrinking newsrooms, shuttered news bureaus and identity crises, the disruptors and interlopers will be in plain view. Google, which owns the website as well as YouTube, has set up an 8,000 sq ft facility called The Big Tent next to the arena where most of the convention is being held.
Inside, for only $100, journalists and bloggers get free food, beer and wi-fi for four days, and has a kiosk set up for uploading videos to YouTube. Sounds neat? Sure. And let us not forget that nearly half of all video watched online in the US is seen via Google, and its market capitalisation, at $152billion, is greater than CBS, Time Warner, Walt Disney, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Viacom combined.

MySpace, which was a year-old start-up at the time of the previous convention, claims that about one in four Americans are registered users. It plans a series of events surrounding the convention, some of which will be held at MySpace Cafés where people can go online to update their sites.
Having recently built up a political “channel” on MySpace called Impact, the social network also held a contest with MSNBC to select a “citizen journalist” elected to cover the event and post to their sites. In his video entry, the winner, a 23-year-old from Michigan, joked: “I don’t know, maybe I’ll interview the janitor at the convention.”

Kidding aside, like MTV before it, MySpace (which, like this newspaper, is owned by News Corp) is determined to show that it is a potent societal as well as cultural force – Obama has almost 454,000 “friends” on MySpace, only 30,000 or so fewer than the band Coldplay, and a whole lot more than John McCain’s nearly 64,000.

Lee Brenner, MySpace’s 31-year-old producer of political programming and a former producer at CNN, said that the role of social networks and blogs during the election race is different from more traditional outlets because it is about getting users to participate. “We’re trying to democratise democracy,” he told the Times London. “We’re not trying to just give information.”

Read more in The London Times here . The New York Times talks of how the campaign is changing the face of mobile marketing. An older story in The Guardian is here . Also of interest, Stage design as propaganda tool on Adverlab.

Your Own Money Manager

Ever wanted a tool to help you manage your finances better? Here’s help. is a free web-based financial management service created by entrepreneur Aaron Patzer. Mint offers intelligent online money management with their software that brings together a users credit card, bank account and credit union data and provides up to date views about his spends. Mint also alerts a user on several accounts; like for instance when he exceeds his personal budget, when he needs to pay a bill or when his bank balance hits a low. Mint connects to more than 5000 leading financial institutions, making it an extensive database. Mint is also very simple, and needs no accounting skills on the part of the user. Making an account and aligning accounts to Mint takes less than five minutes, and after that, it’s the software that gets to work. What is also very interesting is that Mint goes beyond budget analysis. Its extensive database allows it to retrieve the best deals from everywhere. So, if a user’s bank account has a sum of money that is not earning him a considerable interest, Mint will scan through its database and suggest a high interest rate saving account from another bank. And for all this, Mint is a free service for users. Currently, revenue is expected to be generated through lead generation in which recommends financial products to its users. Mint provides account access service through a deal with Yodlee, the company known to deliver innovative financial applications to top banks.

Picture Your Own Credit Card

After bringing the Card Lab, Capital One Financial Corporation has now tied up with Flickr to bring the first ever Capital One Image Card. Customers can either choose pictures from Capital One’s gallery of images or upload one of their own. The company claims that personalization will help customers create cards that are distinctly them. Users have to follow a simple online procedure to get their own cards. Last November, Capital One launched the Capital One Card Lab which provides consumers with a new level of transparency and choice in credit cards. Customers are offered a series of interactive choices related to interest rate, annual fee and reward options, where they can click to select the combination of features that are most important to them. As choices are made, the tool narrows the options in the remaining categories, eliminating options that don’t work together. For example, consumers who are willing to pay an annual fee can earn rewards faster. So while banks are focussing on the many benefits that they think will attract customers, Capital One is probably doing something better by going on the creative track. Read what some bloggers are talking about the latest offering by Capital One here.

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