Alternative marketing thinking


Archive for the category “Planning”

When technology fills in for human connection

Sharin visited your path, my phone alerted me the other day. For all the things Path does, this feature is a killer. In a real world context the alert could mean many things. Sharin came home. You bumped into Sharin on the street. You met Sharin for coffee. Except that you didn’t.

If you have not already, you must try Path. It’s an app for the iPhone and Android devices. Share Life says this video that advertises Path. While it does many things that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare do, there is a little bit more. A nuance that makes a new kind of connection.

While Path is the new shiny, and this story is not specifically about Path, but about technology beginning to make a human connection. Not just for the shy and the socially inept. “If I have been to sleep and don’t have at least four messages when I wake up, I feel no one loves me” said this quote from this study of 2005. The world has moved on, and for many of us checking our phone for email or SMS messages is the first thing we do when we wake up in the morning.

We are the first generation of humans touched by technology.

What started in analog with telephone answering machine has been converted into bits and bytes and is coursing the veins of the digital nervous system we call the world-wide web. Soon we will be hearing about the Internet of things, like how we did, Web 2.0 a few years ago. And as it unfolds, more things will be connected to the Internet. Objects like the streets of Tokyo or if you can call cows objects, like in this experiment in Holland where a startup, Sparked, is connecting animals to keep track of their health.

It is easy to understand how we can build bridges between objects and the Internet. Haven’t we have heard of concepts like connected refrigerators that could order for fresh stocks of milk and eggs or cars that could made SOS calls when in an emergency, since the early days of the internet? Many of these ideas are not just concepts anymore and as this video from IBM tells us there are more things connected to the internet than there are people.

However what makes my experience with Path a little different is that unlike objects that have an IP address and make dumb connections, Path can play with human emotion. What did Sharin find out about me when she dropped by my path unannounced.

There are others. Take Availabot, one of the early examples of an Internet connected object that could play with us. A USB device that would wake up when a friend of mine logged on to IM. Made me smile. Or Mingling Mii, a virtual Nintendo Wii avatar that, if connected to the internet could popup in the audience as my friends played virtual games no matter where they were.

We are going further as this breathtaking idea from Interaction Design shows us. With PillowTalk you can sleep next to your loved one even when you are far, far away. Wish I had thought of that.

As we move into a world with omnipresent Wi-Fi and 3G networks, RFID and NFC chips, QR codes and augmented reality overlays. Of connected databases that know us, our friends and our preferences better we will see more richness, more meaning being built around us. Ideas that can change our moods, play with our feelings and mind states.

The reason why this fascinates us is because we are the first generation of humans who have been touched by technology, as this baby born into a home with an iPad thought that a magazine is an iPad that does not work.


Sleuthing through the recent Facebook shutdowns

There’s been fear and loathing in social media land recently. As some of India’s most visible Facebook fan communities started to go missing. It all began early this month when the Pizza Hut India page was shut down. The news was important enough to feature in mainstream media and on digital blogs. While the Pizza Hut page came back up, two other Indian properties, FCUK India and Cadbury Bournville, went down too. Both the pages are back up after the blip. Check out this interesting inflection of the FCUK India page on Wildfire Social Media Monitoring App.

So what’s happening in social media land? Is the promise of limitless, free consumer engagement is beginning to evaporate even before we have started? What are the future challenges that brands and social media managers will have to keep in mind to ensure that their carefully built properties do not disappear?

The simple answer. Adhere to Facebook terms of service. Live by the rule book, they are straightforward, and everything will be fine. No problem.

In reality things are a bit different. Most brands want to grow their fan pages exponentially, And Pizza Hut India has had some success as this report from December points out. A good promo can do wonders to your page and your confidence, terms of service or no terms of service.

These takedowns are widespread. Allfacebook reports that there has been a slew of app take downs around the world where one of Facebook engineer tried to explain “We’ve been getting a lot of user feedback recently, spiking significantly over the past week, on the amount of application spam people are seeing in their feeds and on their walls. We turned on a new enforcement system yesterday that took user feedback much more heavily into account.”  Apologies and a form on a disabled application appeal page continued in the engineers post.

Spam and blackhat stuff aside, what can legit brands and social media companies do to avoid seeing their efforts and nascent fan pages go down? Once again, play by the rules. There’s no escaping that. Don’t misuse the “like” button, don’t try to induce fans to comment, tag or post.

If you have been managing a Facebook community, you may have received mails from Facebook staff urging you to remove apps and promotions that violate Facebook’s terms. We have received a few and  have been proactive in working to ensure compliance.

We think the problem arises when you don’t respond.

The Facebook platform has been written to record every action that a person makes on a page. Dig around the code and even you will know who commented, who posted, who shared something on any page. So it is easy for Facebook to track admins and what they do, the promos and apps they post etc. And if they find an offending app or promotion on a page they write to the specific admin who posted it.  Now this could be the reason why some pages are being taken down and others narrowly missing the cut. The admin who posted the app or the violating promo has moved on and is still the page admin, or has not checked his Facebook designated mail in time. Our experience is that Facebook does warn offending admins and if they respond and take necessary action then the page stays on. Simple.

So going forward. Stay within the limits of what Facebook allows. Ensure that the admins you have on the page are people who are actively managing the page. And three, and this is a tricky one. If you are an admin look thru every one of your Facebook mails, yes, you get a lot many of them from your friends, fans and the community. Read through them, lest one of them happens to be a mail that warns you about an offending item and the future of your million fan social media community.

100 Year Working Lives

Picked up verbatim from Russel Davies’ blog where he writes under 5thing. I’ve just written something about this for Wired. Don’t think I thought of it as concisely as ‘100 Year Career’ though. Lifetimes are being extended, retirement’s being pushed back. Many of us will have working lives of 100 years +. How do you prepare for that? Or even think about it? I started thinking about it when I was wondering whether to take a new job. With a working life that could easily last another 40 years, probably longer than any of the industries I currently know anything about, what should I be doing next? My answer – learning – more learning about people and organisations. Because they, at least aren’t going away. All those people thinking about jobs now, I’m tempted to say, do what you need to do now, because you’ve got plenty of time. The complete post is about other things aswell

Planning Movies

One of the key areas of study for any good planner is in the area of the human condition. And the one place where many planning pros go to understand this is to the movies. So here are two movies that every self respecting planner should watch. Sideways & Together.

13 Skills Of The Pr Pro Of The Future

1. Create integrated marketing and communications strategy
2. Deploy live ‘listening posts’ online and offline
3. Design and deploy an advanced search engine optimization program
4. Plan and run a new media relations program inclusive of head-of-the-tail and long tail “media”
5. Identify & engage with influencers online and offline
6. Manage communities
7. Integrate new technologies into their own lives
8. Model measurement and performance metrics including new “engagement” metrics
9. Run quick pilot programs and evaluate on-the-fly
10. Train staff and clients continuously
11. Participate in conversations, not just ‘messaging’
12. Create and execute content strategy including video programming (hifi and lowfi)
13. Use digital crisis management
From the Digital Influence blog.

Going Mad With Multiscreens

It’s a known fact that a large part of our lives now revolve around interacting with some screen or the other. From the original idiot box to the third screen of our mobile phone, we are armed and ready to receive communication of any kind, any time of the day and night. New York Times recently held a panel discussion with some of the brightest creators of new media, Benjamin Palmer of Barbarian Group, Lard Bastholm of AKQA, Robert Rassmussen RG/A, all moderated by Jack Hilt. Here are some quotes we picked up from the chat…

On the proliferation of screens
• What the proliferation of screens has done is give a zillion creators the power to publish.
• When the TV networks held the reins for content, all advertising had to do was buy into the public consciousness of entertainment, which was television
• (You can’t just advertise just anything anymore) with the internet, consumers have become smarter.
• Most media, like television, used to be a kind of flow. You’d sit down, you’d turn it on and you’d watch. The reason advertising is completely broken is, that flow doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no prime time.
• (On the Internet) brands have become transparent, and that’s changed the tone of advertising. Now you have to try to be more authentic — even if it’s just authentically acknowledging that what you’re doing is advertising.
• So advertising is by necessity a fractured narrative. We have a story we want to tell, and we use different media channels and different touch points to tell it.

On customer being in control
• It used to be that companies would commission a study at great expense to find out what people thought about their product. Now you just go online and find out. It’s really scary at first. You realize there’s a whole dialogue going on outside your brand, and you can’t control it.
• (When customers talk online) The feedback you get, is so much richer and more immediate than what we used to get.
• That’s scary because of the instantaneousness of it. I mean, people will call you on things in a heartbeat.
(Editor’s note, politicians and the government in Mumbai were at the receiving end of this new phenomena after the terror strikes in Mumbai; email, social networking sites and mobile phones became the centre of a movement that brought some 20,000 people together to a peace march at the Gateway of India. Read the tiny post that started it all)

On marketers trying to adapt
• We used to joke that advertising was “lying for a living.” We got away with that back then. We can’t anymore. And now, if we get caught in a lie, we’re in trouble.

On staying informed
• Most people no longer “watch the news.” Every morning I (Lars Bastholm) check the latest headlines on the BBC’s Web site. There’s a Danish newspaper that I check out every day, because that’s where I’m from, and then I look at The New York Times. I get a Twitter feed from CNN as well.

On how media can go with the flow
• The problem with established news shows is that they’re trying to be everything for everybody.
• Maybe the newscaster could begin with a Twitter feed where she’s talking about what she’s actually doing during the day – eg, newscaster talking openheartedly about what she experienced the second after she’s done with the interview.
• There is an interesting contrast between this fixed 6:30 p.m. news show and this idea of the fragmented narrative throughout the day.

On advertising money machines like the Superbowl
• The Super Bowl has become an advertising event. Everybody watches and talks about the ads.
• No one is saying that a Super Bowl spot won’t work. As a way to launch the conversation, why not? But you have to have lots of digital follow-up planned ahead of time.
• You can make revenue off multiple streams of content. If you’re giving somebody two minutes or three minutes of content, they’re probably willing to accept a brief ad.

On the future
• Clients are not saying, “Make us ads” or “Make us Web sites,” they’re saying, “Create interaction between our brand and our customers.” That’s our job now.
Read the whole round table here…

Brand New Religion

Graeme Douglas is a planner at WK London. Last year he came into prominence for a paper he wrote for IPA. Read his views on how brands can learn from faith based religion and grow their powers. Read the full essay.

Addicted To Spending

Another seminal piece from Umair Haque, director of Havas Media Lab puts the blame squarely on mankind’s addiction to anything cheap and not just oil. He believes that the real costs of the consumption economy, i.e. pollution, community fragmentation, and abusive labour standards have not really been factored in. More here.

Planners Vs Creatives, Round 2

Who makes better planners, planners or creative people? That was the debate at IPA a few weeks ago, where planner David Golding and creative David Trott slugged it out. The verdict? “Planning + Creative = Good. Planning > Creative = Bad”. Read a wonderfully written post by Rory Sutherland on the Campaign Magazine blog.

Marketing in a recession. Another pov.

A few weeks ago we carried David Notolli’s piece on what brands can do in a recession. Here’s a more, in-depth view from research agency Millward Brown.

The Conclusion. During recessions, consumers and marketers alike must make the best of a bad situation. Not every brand will cut spending, but many of those that do will find themselves at a dis-advantage when the recession ends. Marketers need to make the most of every dollar spent in support of their brands if they hope to maintain strong consumer relationships. Those that succeed should then be well positioned to take advantage of weaker competition when the good times return.

The key to success during a downturn is maintaining focus. Keep your wits about you and focus on four things: your competition, your brand, your customers, and your communication. If you have a strong, successful brand, focus on what has worked for you so far. If your brand is in a relatively weak position, focus on systematically exploiting what strengths you have while addressing your weaknesses.

Concentrate on your core brands and products. Just like what David wrote, brand needs to support their core proposition and emphasize its value. Strong brands can support a price premium. Consu-mers have clear and strong associations with these brands and know what makes them desirable. Focus your marketing effort on reinforcing what made your brand successful in the first place.

Don’t cut quality. As the pressure to find cost savings increases, companies may be tempted to cut back on the quality of their products or services.

Think internal branding and morale. The motivation level of employees is critical to a company’s success, particularly in service industries. Therefore, workers need to be convinced of the merits of their brand and reassured that their jobs are safe. Use internal communication to remind your staff that they make a difference.

Focus on Your Customers. Keep in touch. Whether the category is B2C or B2B, a brand’s biggest asset during a recession is its existing customer base.

Focus on Your Communication. Review your budget allocations. Your customers are looking to maximize their value for money. You should do the same. Think about the relative cost and effectiveness of the available media channels. You may conclude that you can’t afford to completely pass on TV, but you can extend your TV investment in less expensive media like print, radio and outdoor advertising.

Make your creative work harder. In any communication channel, the best way to leverage your spend is to put it behind high-quality creative. A meta-analysis of econometric sales modeling published in Admap (February 2006) found creative to be the biggest potential multiplier of profit (other than market size). Across a wide variety of categories, brands, and channels, Paul Dyson and Karl Weaver found that creative had five times as much impact on profit as did budget allocation.

Download the story. Here.

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