Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Little “i” That Doesn't

Regulators are nervous about advertisers who track our movements online and then deliver targeted ads. Rob Yoegel just alerted me to the privacy “i” icon that’s supposed to appear on Internet ads designed to target. The point is to make consumers aware that the Internet ads they see online are directly related to their surfing habits.

How come I’ve never noticed this little iCon in the year it’s supposedly been in use? I surf like a maniac and I’ve never noticed the “i” in the corner of any Internet ad. Ron says he hasn’t seen it anywhere either.

I thought maybe I just hadn’t noticed. So I decided to run around the New York Times website, looking for the “i”llusive. No luck.

I tripped over to Mashable, figuring if anybody had advertising it was them. Nope. I tried TMZ for a change of pace. No “eyes” there, either.

When I first learned about the “i” from Rob – I mean while I was reading his article -- I did see the “i” on one LG Smart phone ad. Sure enough, as promised, when I clicked on the “i”con I got an explanation of the privacy policy. So, yes, I found “i” once but I never found her again. Never. Not even when I went looking. That’s spooky. Did LG know – at that very moment -- that I was actually interested in finding the ‘i” and not in the smart phone ad itself? I mean, really, did they know that? A friend of mine thinks machines are already running the world. This experience makes that seem eer“i”ly possible.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Can A Sales Pitch Be A Gift?

I’m not going to tell you which company did what I’m writing about here because I actually think very highly of this enterprise. They do cutting-edge stuff in cross media marketing, their communications are first-rate, and their work looks terrific. But I think they screwed up their holiday message.

Their eCard arrived with the words “Sending you our warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful Holiday and a Happy New Year.” Right below, was a green box with the words “Click Here to find out what’s in your stocking!” Also on the elegantly simple cover page were a personalized URL link and a QR code. All the right digital pieces.

Unfortunately, when I got to the landing page, this company was offering me credits against a “new Enterprise or Premium [firm name] Web account. Also, my contact info was auto-filled with “Please sign me up for your newsletter” opted in.

Otherwise, this was a lovely piece of work that even featured a video of a warm living room with a crackling fire. Gosh, guys … couldn’t you just say “Seasons Greetings!” and be done with it?

Maybe I’m off base here. Maybe this company scored big with this Holiday Pitch. I didn’t like it much, personally, but when it comes to direct marketing, results count. So, if this was your work, set me straight. Take credit, tell me that you got a great return and call me Scrooge. I’ll take the coal in my stocking and not complain.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 360 Touchpoints of Marketing

MadMen don’t “create” marketing/advertising anymore. Marketing today is a 360 Touchpoint business, with more and more people branding themselves and creating their own marketing.

360 Touchpoint Marketing involves a host of exploding trends. Here are a few.

1. Blogging. How do a lot of young mothers make buying decisions? They read the recommendations/conversations of the “mommy bloggers” because they trust the mommy bloggers more than they trust you and me.

2. Information Marketing. If you’re in business, you’re an expert. If you’re REI, you tout excellence and daring in outdoor activities -- and you give advice.

3. Being Who Your Customers Are. How does Trader Joe’s market? They speak to those customers in a thousand intimate ways. Checkout how Trader Joe’s marketing has become the Trader Joe’s soapbox.

4. Building community. If you know about it, you write about. What the heck do we think Facebook biz pages are about anyway? To find out ask Victoria’s Secret, J.C. Penney, American Egale, Kohl’s, Forever 21, and Abercrombie and Fitch. This is where brands “share” who they are and what they know. And, if any of the folks who “like” them sniff promotion, it’s a serious stink.

5. Creating buzz … as in “let them talk” … as in McRib and McDonald’s reaction to every bit of it -- the yummy and the yucky.

6. Everything else. This changes every day, of course, but consider these already-established 360 Touchpoint Marketing efforts? Podcasting, YouTube (The Wall Street Journal says you can even sell it without doing a video), slideshare, flickr, LinkedIn, and dozens and dozens and dozens more.

7. Content Curation. To understand this new and important marketing focused on “brand as expert,” Check out Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman’s new book Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business or check out this article by Steve Rosenbaum.

Marketers are service providers, yes. But we, too, have customers and we, too, can adopt 360 Touchpoint Marketing strategies for our own businesses. What better way to demonstrate thought leadership in our field?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, December 13, 2010

Six Workhorse Print Formats Worth Suggesting (Again) To Clients

1. Postcards focused on discount-pricing are commonplace… which, in this industry, means they’re working. I’ve been receiving “coupon-ish” bi-weekly postcards from Bed, Bath and Beyond for months, like clockwork. BB&B’s version is over-sized, printed in blue ink, and looks the same every time. In general, I’m receiving postcards in every configuration from all the retailer’s in my area. The market may hit overkill on “postcards” in 2011, but so far I don’t see a slow-down. Note: The Wall Street Journal’s report on an important consumer trend – just-in-time consumption – suggests an opportunity for smart retailers who can figure out how to embrace more frequent, targeted promotions.

2. Specialty self-mailer “newspapers,” packed with information and printed on inexpensive stock and exemplified by – but never surpassed by -- Trader Joe’s The Fearless Flyer. TJ’s describes this fun read as a cross between Consumer Reports and Mad Magazine. I’ve never signed up, but I still receive their annual Thanksgiving issue, which uses humor, great copywriting, and information to persuade shopping at their store. The product isn’t personalized at all, but compared to the full-color circulars other food stores use, this one stands apart because it demonstrates how well TJ understands their pan-generation, no-frills, loyal shoppers.

3. Classic fundraising appeals. Apparently, the white-wove, #10 letter format remains a workhorse for a host of nonprofit organizations. From those same mailers, however – particularly targeted to previous donors – come the periodic, extravagant lumpy-mail offer stuffed with premiums. I’ve seen no slack in fundraising direct mail. Quite the contrary, this season my mailbox has attracted more appeals than ever.

4. “Catalogs” in fresh shapes and configurations -- thinner, and more targeted. Read more about catalog trends in TDN’s November 11 post.

5. Commercial direct mail targeted with different offers to different groups. Paul Bobnak wrote a piece for Target Marketing about the evolution of credit card offers via mail. In analyzing a series of credit offers that went out this fall, Bobnak noted the trend to targeted appeals, including women business owners and seniors.

6. Your favorite mailing plus QR Codes. Okay, this is a new twist on an old response vehicle, but QR could add a little drama to an old appeal. Mobile billings are expected to touch $4.1 billion this year, up 24 percent from last, according to Juniper Research, the UK-based telecom and mobile analyst firm, with total turnover expected to hit $12 billion by 2015.

--scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Database Will Become Something Else Altogether. But What?

Multics released the first commercial relational database management system in 1976. Soon thereafter, in the 1980s, direct marketers moved to computerize and warehouse names and addresses. Zoom forward to today. Databases have become the fundament of direct marketing, customer relationship management, and a lot of other core business initiatives. The question is: Where is this evolution going?

In particular, I'm thinking of Facebook, which is becoming an Internet of its own [or even the Internet itself, some argue], with vast quantities of personal information databased in one location. With the addition of Facebook business pages where folks actually shop from within Facebook, this "FB universe" takes on a whole new dimension of control [and, reportedly, profitability].

Should FB begin to thoroughly monetize it's database by selling its data warehouse [and how can it possibly resist the temptation?] consisting of trillions of terabytes of information (names, email addresses, photos, educational background, connections, shopping and Internet habits, photos, videos, birth dates and records of children's growth and activities, from over 500 million subscribers internationally, as of this hour) how will external databases compete? Despite a firestorm of warnings about what not to do on Facebook and the fact that we sign away our rights to everything we post there, the user base keeps growing. So ...What will happen to databases as we currently know and love them?

It's a huge question. And only imaginings of the Brave New World variety can intuit the possibilities. As I work on the April "Lists and Databases" issue of DMAW's Marketing AdVents, I wonder how many years into the future this vital element that has driven direct marketing for three decades will remain as we have come to know and love it.

Thoughts anyone?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hoku: The Masters of Electronic Bait and Switch

I got an email this morning from Hoku Unlimited in Van Nuys, CA. As an editor in the direct marketing industry, I receive all sorts of industry-related “information.” This one looked legit. It listed three questions [with partial answers] that a marketer should ask a potential list vendor. The info looked on target. Links proliferated. Links to the “full article;” links to “here;” and links to “list vendor check.”

All of the links went the same place: Nowhere.

What was the point? To get me to provide my name, email, phone, company, and a comment.

Who Is Hoku Unlimited? Nobody knows.

What am I giving Hoku? Exactly what they gave me: NOTHING.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Call It “Brands That Share.”™ Chris Brogan and Pawan Deshpande Totally Get It.

A couple of weeks ago, the AMA sponsored a webcast featuring Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, and Pawan Deshpande, CEO of HiveFire.

Titled Content Curation Is The Secret To Becoming A Thought Leader, the webcast shed light on an evolving and still fluid conversation about content marketing and content curation.

Before I present the outline of Chris and Pawan’s comments, here’s an important point. This webcast and a host of blog posts and books over the last couple of years – the number of which is growing rapidly – are exposing a new marketing initiative that will evolve into “Brands That Share.”™ I’ll be blogging about this a lot in the months ahead, but – in short – I believe that businesses large and small will move to distinguish themselves from competitors by shifting from “Brands That Promise” [traditional marketing] to “Brands That Share" [evolved marketing].

Here’s what Chris and Pawan had to say about the role of content in establishing “thought-leadership” and becoming Brands That Share®.

What Is the Role of Thought Leadership?

• influencing a SPECIFIC audience

• talking about information both INSIDE and OUTSIDE your own company. Note: If you’re only talking, you’re not a thought leader. You must also understand what are others saying.

What Are the Five Stages of the “Thought Leadership Cycle”?

• Topic identification and positioning
- follow the topic in general
- bring in 3rd party case studies and research to bear
- develop your own content, either original or extrapolated or triangulated from others’ content (for example, this blog post)
- communicate outwards about other organizations and what they are doing right

• Research – see what others are saying

• Production – producing original content (blogging, video, social media, etc.)

• Repurposing – organizing and structuring content, repurposing 3rd party content as well

• Distribution – delivering the information through appropriate channels

The Evolving Role of Content Marketing

• Marketers are struggling with providing content. They are called upon to publish white papers, blog posts, enewsletters, website content, etc. As technology evolves, marketers need to be on even more channels. Thus, the explosion of content marketing.

• Vicious cycle: more and more content demand, more and more time and resources committed to content development, more and more content created, more and more competition, more and more content created to meet more and more content demand ... etc.

• Information consumers have too many choices, so trust becomes a key factor in choosing content. For example, consumers go to Google for information because they trust that Google will produce the top 10 choices in their query. Consumers also trust Word of Mouth (in particular, a friend), so they also have begun to shift to the social channels for finding information.

• Consumers put trust in various channels, depending on the need: (Google for empirical information; The New York Times, for example, as an established, reliable source; social media for the “inside scoop.”

• Trust Development: Find the good stuff where it lies and share it, even if it’s competitors’ information.

The Blog Is Fundamental To A Thought-Leadership Strategy

• Do you have a blog? This is how webcast participants responded to that query (a “real time” survey):

-16% yes, and I’m happy with it
-30% yes, but not happy with it (amazing; 3 in 10 are not happy with their blog!)
-35% no, but are considering
-18% no, don’t know where to start

• 70 million blogs had already been tracked by technorati in 2007; the blogosphere is adding 120,000 blogs per day

How do you measure corporate blog performance? It depends.

• Brogan: Do not measure by the number of comments, or the number of hits or views. Rather, how many of your next-action steps have been taken? (e.g., how many ebooks have been ordered, how many items downloaded, etc.)

• Deshpande: the number of views is irrelevant; only “next-action” counts. Also, lead generation may not be your goal. Verne Global [see case in point, below] doesn’t even have a lead capture system; their goal is being in front of their audience every day (credibility and influence).

What Does Content Curation Involve?

• Creates “actionable” content through aggregating and gathering (curation) plus distilling
• Pulls sources from inside and outside the vertical market
• Boiling down and sharing thoughts
• More than a news resource, curators provide an original, innovative perspective around issues
Curators become a trusted, go-to source
• You create a community to which people come to meet other people. Curating content is a great way to build a roster of content that will attract people.

Content Curation As A Thought-Leadership Strategy

Cases in Point:

Huffington Post and Arianna Huffington: thought leadership as a content curator, sharing insights and her own perspectives, publishing her own original content, also sharing different points of view

Verne Global: How does “expertise” relate to an increases in business? This company established themselves as a thought-leader in a specific green space.

• They set up a site called “green data center news”
- original blog content
- pulling in outside resources, too

• They receive queries and also "inbound PR" (that is, interest from major media outlets for opinion and industry thought leadership.

• They have experienced growth in lead generation and customer interest.

• They have saved $100,000 in traditional marketing expertise.

Questions To Ask About Your Role As A Content Marketer

1. Is your brand or industry focused on a particular issue and does your company have an innovative perspective on this?

2. Do your prospects already conduct extensive research in order to perform?

3. Do you already monitor a variety of sources?

4. How does this activity tie into your marketing plan

5. How might I do content curation with limited staff?

Deshpande: It's time consuming, but with automation it can be done -- automatic identification, organization, sharing of content.
Brogan: Sometimes it can be done by hand, using Google reader, but you must bring it all in; headlines become very important here for sorting. Note: Chris subscribes to 700 blogs.
Brogan: It's a dedicated process. For me, it's a two-way street with one-hour of connecting with people to develop traction and acceptance; it's also a half-hour every day to create my own material.

6. What are the legal considerations in curating content?
• Curate content but never pirate contact
• Attribute sources

7. How Might B2B marketers deal with content curation?
• The buy-in process is different for B2B. With B2B, you need to connect with and convince multiple people in a single customer-setting, so you need more content, more variety of content, more reasons, more data, etc.
• The B2B process is more complex so all the touchpoints need to be addressed, which makes curation a natural fit.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo with gratitude to and admiration for Chris Brogan and Pawan Deshpande.