Thursday, June 30, 2011

More Signs That "Listening," Personalization, and Customer Collaboration Are the “It” Trends

• Google News now features automatic personalization. “Last summer we redesigned Google News with new personalization features that let you tell us which subjects and sources you’d like to see more or less often. Starting today -- if you’re logged in -- you may also find stories based on articles you’ve clicked on before.”

• Wrangler asked its customers to design the next pair of jeans. “They have incredible ideas about what they want their jeans to look like and how they want them to function. Now, the ability to collaborate with consumers is at an all-time high, thanks to the ever-growing digital and social space. We thought this was the perfect time to put the design process directly into consumers’ hands.” From PromoMagazine.

Musicians are cashing in on consumers’ demand for immediacy and participation. Coca-Cola hosted a 24-hour live session to write and produce an original song from Maroon 5, created while fans watched and interacted with band members.

Malcolm Faulds pointed out in AdAgeCMO Strategy, “With a few candid words, the right highly connected consumer can get people all over the web stampeding to buy products.” Faulds’ company. BzzAgent, recently did an in-depth study of so-called “brand advocates” and tells marketers five ways to reach this influential group:

• get the products in their hands;
• display your stuff on; brand advocates go there to check out product reviews and stay on top of what’s new;
• feed brand advocates a steady steam of fun stuff to engage with and share with colleagues;
• be genuine and never manipulate, but engage with advocates on social networks;
• honor your brand advocates by featuring them on Twitter, Facebook, in ads, and elsewhere.

A Mashable article by Leyl Master Black in early June agrees that customers should be rewarded for their loyalty. Black suggests offering Facebook fans exclusive discounts, coupons, and content; tying charitable donations to the growth of the fan base; responding to each and every comment or listening in other innovative ways; and recognizing individual fans.

• In his May 26 blog post, Jacob Morgan, principal at Chess Media Group, writes, “Collaborating with customers isn’t about sending them offers, news, information, or messages. Collaborating is about putting the customer at the center of how your organization conducts business, it’s about integrating the voice of the customer … This is far more powerful than simply using social tools and technologies to get your message across … So when you say you want to collaborate with your customers, do you really mean that, or are you really talking about ways to use social channels to spread a message?”

Inviting and encouraging commentary on social media may be a good first step in collaboration. A June 27 article at Marketing Vox reports that The Rockville Central blog abandoned its website and began posting on Facebook, instead. The result? More readers began interacting with the stories through comments and “likes.” Facebook posts that promoted Rockville Central stores are netting about 2,000 “impressions” each, per month.

The Washington Post covered the blog-to-Facebook story also. The Post interviewed Reggie Bradford, chief executive of Vitrue, a social-marketing software firm whose job it is to place a value on social pages. Viture released research that attempted to place a media value of $3.60 per “like” on individual Facebook connections. The Post article also cited findings from a Fortune 100 companies study by Adgregate Markets. Of the Fortune 100 companies surveyed, 68 percent said they're experiencing shrinkage in unique visits to their website, with an average drop of 23 percent. Out of 44 of those companies sampled, 40 percent found that they had higher traffic volumes to their Facebook page, according to this Retail Online Integration wrap-up of the study.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Are Marketers Struggling? Just LOOK at What We’re Facing.

Barbara Pellow, group director, InfoTrends, presented at Printing Impressions’ webinar, Web-to-Finish. The focus was on web-to-print and web-to-finish capabilities that make a lot of sense in the push to increase efficiency, innovate, stay competitive, reduce cost, and maintain quality.

Barbara presented an intriguing list of “then” and “now” comparisons to describe the reality of the new economy – all of which are driving the production process. Here’s what Barbara described.

• From supply economics to demand economics

• From “make-then-sell” to “sell-then-make”

• From production-centric to customer-centric manufacturing

• From manual to automated

• From analog to digital

• From single media to cross-media

• From wired to wireless

• From fast to immediate

• From experience-based to best practices

• From intuitive to fact-based

• From reactive/adaptive to proactive

• From ad-hoc (job focus) to systematic (process focus)

• From creative to innovative

If Barb has any of this right – and I’m convinced she does – that’s why marketers are struggling mightily with “keeping up.”

Webinars like this one sponsored by Xerox and moderated by Barb and Bryan Yeager from InfoTrends, along with John Davila from Kaye-Smith, are vital to easing the job.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

If You’re Making a Video, Don’t Hire Just Any Writer. Here’s What You Need Instead.

In putting the August issue of DMAW's Marketing AdVents together, I received an awesome article from Bob James, the Mighty Copywriter.

Bob put together a seriously good wrap-up of what’s going on in the direct marketing copywriting business. He talked to a number of colleagues who described how the profession has changed and the sorts of new projects copywriters are undertaking.

In reading Bob’s piece, I noticed that more than a few of the folks he talked to said they were writing fewer direct mail letters and more video scripts. I was surprised.

I have great respect for my fellow copywriters. Intuitively, though, it seems to be that, in the same way copywriting is a specialty, so is video scripting.

For years, direct marketing copywriters have been saying that “not just anyone” can write direct mail. It’s a special type of writing. I know that’s true. Not all journalists can be feature writers; not all authors can write poetry; not all business writers can be technical writers; certainly not all writers can be editors; and not all copywriters can be scriptwriters.

So, in putting this blog post together, I talked to short-film maker and corporate video consultant, Deryck White (DCW Concepts.) “Can somebody simply switch from copywriting to scriptwriting?” I asked.

“There's no reason a copywriter can't write for video,” Deryck says, “but scriptwriting is a beast of a different nature and writers should be aware of the special considerations inherent in this type of work – and it is work.”

Deryck clarified the differences of which writers should be most aware.

1. Good scriptwriters think visually first, verbally second. Effective copywriters do the opposite.

2. A copywriter spends hours polishing the narrative and picking over colorful words that will speak to the reader. A video/film scriptwriter is crafting a message that will be funneled through one other person – an actor or voiceover narrator, for example – before it reaches the viewer. In short, words that read well on the printed page may translate less well when delivered in speech.

3. Writing low-cost is an art. The story a video/film scriptwriter can afford to tell is limited by what the client can afford – in dollars-- to show on screen. Copywriters are constrained by length too, of course, but the “cost-per-word” calculation in video and film is far higher.

4. A video/film scriptwriter often must write for non-professionals not quite able to deliver the words as written or conceived. These intermediaries (actors, staff) will stand between the writer’s words and the viewer's eye, so the scriptwriter must be able to write for them, too.

5. Scriptwriting has to take into account the capabilities of the performers and also be adaptable to acting/directing/shooting dynamics.

6. Scriptwriters must work with a range of professionals with whom they may be unfamiliar: the director, the actor, the producer, and the film editor. This may be a team of creatives with whom most copywriters have never collaborated.

So, write on, everybody. But write right!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Too Exciting To Stand It!

Boxpark is a first-of-its-kind “pop-up” mall in an industrial section of London. Boxpark will feature 60 small “by invitation only” retailers.

Watch this video and be enchanted by the concept, the vision, the execution, the portability, the "now" way of coming (and going).

Sometimes change really is a charmer.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sure You Can Market But Can You Measure Everything and Report Back?

A Webinar in May sponsored by Forbes Insights addressed how top marketers are using online data analytics (for example, IBM’s “coremetrics”) to navigate these changing times.

The after-Webinar Q&A with panelists Yuchun Lee and Christiaan Rizy disclosed the panelists endorsement of two marketing essentials: measurability and reportability.

Q. Is database decision-making adversely affecting marketing?

A. Data and results have always ultimately driven marketing; and, yes, ROI surrounding customer acquisition, retention, and marketability is primarily a numbers priority. But todays’ data-driven marketing is not equivalent to black box marketing, where you set it and forget it. Forward-thinking marketers are adopting a suite of marketing technologies that can collect, measure and evaluate all marketing channels. This suite can look at customer service behavior, social media, behavior, email, advertising, affiliate channels, display advertising – the whole operation. Those who adopt this comprehensive approach are on the cutting-edge. Survey results of top marketers show adopters of comprehensive measurement also are three times as likely to review campaign results in real time and four times as likely to adjust the campaign in real time.

Q How does a new company decide how to invest marketing dollars?

A. You’ll always need to do brand marketing. The point is to make sure you’re measuring the success of your brand marketing and awareness-raising activities, too. As you collect and measure behavior data, you can fine-tune the branding effort as well.

While, measurement is key to instilling a data-driven structure, it’s just as important to present information that’s easily consumable by upper levels of management. For instance, tools like dashboards, exportable Excel based documents, and so on ensure that data from the analysts is always accessible by the decision-makers.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Revivals You Never Thought of, Retreads You Never Imagined, Marketing and Biz Opps Galore

A whole world of talent, commerce, and life/biz innovation is sprouting. For example:

The trend to non-digital. Type-ins in Brooklyn.

An App for that. Skouting or real-time, in-time meetchas.

Art from the heart. The brukup revival.

The new lemonade stand. Coolhaus, the hot new Taco truck in L.A.

Bootstrap experts. "Ampros" (amateur professionals) find a million ways to share they know. YouTube is the medium.

Recycle next door. Krrb has great appeal for renting, trading, and donating “stuff” locally.

TIP: TrendCentral delivers a daily check in for what’s happening at the root level.

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