Monday, 29 November 2010

Art of evaluation

Seemed to have confused a couple of people with the previous post. So to explain. Too often in the communications industry we worry about intellectualising the approach rather than concentrate on the end-goal, creativity. So we often end up with intellectually consistent advertising - which doesn't work.

The analogy would be using a 10 point check list to evaluate the great works of art. You just can't imagine kids playing Top Trumps - French Renaissance 14c edition.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

How to over think your advertising

It is said that advertising is the greatest waste of human intellect, second only to chess.

Which brings neatly on to messaging architectures. What on earth are they? The output is invariably a powerpoint slide with all the messages a brand wants it customers to understand about itself or its products. The polite expression is assumptive.

It assumes consumers are interested. It sometimes assumes that consumers are so fascinated by a brand that they are happy to consume and process the messages in the order a brand wants them to do. They are like all a lot of plans, extremely seductive on paper but invariably useless when you get to implement anything. Their main purpose is to show everyone else we have thought of everything unfortunately they have a major negative effect. They encourage you to focus on the Ts & Cs, the additional points not necessarily the interesting bit.

A wise person said the job of marketing and advertising is to find something interesting about your product and then say it in an interesting way. When you invite someone round to a party. You say it is going to be brilliant we will get obscenely drunk/play whist - depending on your age. You don't send out an agenda with details of what to do with your coats and drinks when you arrive. Maybe you do. Sorry.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Lost: translation machine

I need a new client-agency translation machine, my one is broken. I keep saying earned media to a client but all they hear is free media. Sure it malfunctions the other way as well.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

What's in a name?

Next time you launch a loyalty card call it a 'don't miss out card', you might get a lot more people playing more frequently.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Last impressions count

Retailers focus on the store, the layout, display but sometimes other things define the visit more. Contrast what happens in Sainsbury's (can i pack your bags) and IKEA (your boot being too small) and M&S (5p a bag).

Most of us can afford 5p a bag but the problem is your start thinking in terms of bags. Do i need another plastic bag to perhaps i don't need that extra bag of Bruschetta. The notion of constraint is embedded in our heads by the shopping process, all because of 5p. M&S don't capture customer data at at an individual level so they probably don't understand how this impacts on purchase behaviour. Anyone know?

Other supermarkets suffer similarly. They offer a discount for buying 6 bottles of wine. Excellent. But they always run out of boxes, and carrying 6 bottles in plastic bags is not ideal, especially the Rioja covered in wire. So what do you do? Buy two bottles not six.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Animal loyalty

Loyalty by pictures; you are more likely to remember it. The goldfish really is the ultimate 'loyal because I don't have a choice' example. This could win a prize for best use of animals in marketing presentation. Boston Matrix only uses a cow, dog, wildcat so one up already.

Wonder if it transaltes internationally?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Three reasons why companies fail/succeed with social media

Big companies don't tend to get it because ...
  • it does not deliver sales tomorrow so they cant prove the business case
  • they don't have the resource or specialist skills, they are geared up to campaigning and that's they way it will continue until ...
  • agencies don't know how to charge them and make money out of it

Small companies tend to get it because ...

Lesson in here somewhere. Think like a small company if nothing else.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Got a problem you cant fix - invent a program

Spent two days in a workshop on loyalty for a client, there was lots of clever thinking, but one conclusion was there is no such thing as loyalty marketing. You either have a specific loyalty program or you just do your job properly - which means getting brand .... service ... in store experience ... smart cross selling ... CRM processes right. And in many cases if you desperately need a loyalty program it probably means you have got something wrong somewhere in your core offering. Another case of marketing covering up organisational dis-function. Remarkably common.

My other conclusion is there is an obsession with measurement and data to the point that businesses wont implement an initiative if they cant measure impact - even if they think it is right thing to do. It was an example someone cited from IKEA that got us thinking. One store manager decided not to keep a list of FAQs from customers for review. They just act immediately. So if a customer asks whether a table comes in oak as well pine, they immediately change the labelling to indicate the information. A culture of immediate response, it just isn't automated, and impossible to measure impact.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Loyalty businesses not loyalty programs

About a year ago on the blog I suggested that loyalty would be doing a big come back, and in the last year there have been numerous loyalty and CRM briefs and pitches flying around. We have been fortunate enough to get a few and win some businesses. So it looks like I was proved right. That's all I wanted to say ...

But then you start to think a bit deeper. Increasingly if a business wants a loyalty program that probably means something is broke and they are looking for a mechanic to fix loyalty. For a few businesses loyalty programs (transactional based ones) are difficult to implement. Little control over the retail environment ... very infrequent purchase behaviour in the category ... big ticket, low margin. White goods would be an example.

We should look at loyalty differently, examine businesses in sectors with relatively high levels of loyalty and work out what they do well. My 'guess' is that they have good products, strong brands, good customer service processes and policies, customer focused culture. The trouble is it is easier to create a loyalty program than fix a business. Short-termism creeps in. But perhaps we should think about creating loyalty businesses not loyalty programs.

If Easyjet thought of themselves as a loyalty business that happened to sell flights how would they behave differently ?

Its quite a good question to pose to businesses.

I am off to look at our research now, there is 1000 page doc on my desk at work, to see what businesses with great bonding and loyalty scores do so well. But if anyone has a nice neat answer that will save me a lot of reading please let us know.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

How to get site experience wrong

I have just discovered how easy it is to get a site experience, technically right, but from a consumer perspective horribly wrong. So wrong that consumers are aching to give their business to someone else even in a market where you are relatively dominant.

1. Agree your business model and purchase journey.
2. Put it on line.
3. Direct consumers through it.
4. Upsell, upgrade, ignore consumer interactions eg closing windows.
5. Continue to offer helpful reminders just in case consumers missed offer the third time.

Of course the business may argue the process works and is a source of value. They are confused, it is nothing to do with marketing or customer service more the fact they operate in a duopoly/cartel/monopolisitic competition environment and consumers have little choice.

For more detail on actual journey please go to

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Getting the budget numbers wrong

Marketing textbooks suggest lots of different ways to allocate media budget. Unfortunately people get in the way. Here is what normally happens. Budget gets assigned as a % of expected revenues. So if you are marketing lots of products and services you have assumed they all have the same scale of issues and challenges. Invariably your core product may require either less spend because it is truly established or it is so important that you have to chuck everything behind it but you cant because of how budgets are handed out. Then what else happens is parts of your product portfolio get enough money to be dangerous but not enough to sensibly achieve anything.

Here is an alternative, work out what is really important to the business like say the website or customer experience (or ideally which customers), invest in the resource to optimise the hell out of all the customer initiated touch-points. Organic search, call centre, collateral, CRM, loyalty then think how you can waste the rest of your budget. Interestingly b2b organisations tend to get this more right than consumer facing brands. Main reason is they have less money, so they don't have the get out of jail free big budget card. But also they don't have as hungry a call centre to feed.

PS don't forget to measure it.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

8 principles of b2b marketing

#1 Clearly communicate why you are here, what you do and how you add value. Cisco's POV is a good example. World would be a better place if we learnt to collaborate. A very good organising principle.

#2 To cut through the search mentality you have to be interesting, whether it be content or free stuff or sponsorship. Like Sage's sponsorship of Krypton factor. There is also a big point here about listening and relevance.

#3 Obvious. And a lot more than just social media by the way.

#4 If customers bother to contact you (and you sell expensive stuff) roll out the carpet.

#5 They expect free stuff. do it. Tools, articles, assessments. Try not to make it too thinly veiled a selling process.

#6 CRM. yes. and don't leave it to sales.

#7 Advocacy, customer forums, co-creation. Dell, BMW telematics design, Amex Open.

#8 The bit everyone struggles with. Involves everything from collateral to managing intermediary relationships.

I am composing a list of case studies if anyone has some suggestions love to hear them.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Rational ignorance

More on the economics bit - traditional not behavioural this time . When i was taught economics they defined it as the science of resource allocation. Now all the layman literature talks about incentives and how incentives drive every decision from where to live to marriage and divorce. Interestingly they say the world is a whole lot more rational than the behavioral economists would have you think.

Anyway came across this expression. Rational ignorance. I wish i had known about it before. It explains a lot of consumer purchase decisions.

At some point the cost of acquiring more information or evaluating a potential purchase, lets say a washing machine, really outweighs the incremental benefit. It is rational to live with a little ignorance beause after a certain point how wrong can you be?

Rational ignorance also explains why we like brands, they are information shortcuts, they signify quality (amongst a host of other stuff). They save us the information costs. It explains why we dont have an unerring temptation to subscribe to Which every time we want to spend more than £10.

Friday, 9 April 2010

7 B2B Social Media Tools You Haven't heard of

With the vast array of social media tools out there, it’s easy for some useful ones to get lost in the mix. Here’s a few that might be flying below the radar, but can be valuable tools for B2B marketers

Read more:

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Trends 2008

Trends 2008
OK so it is from 2008, but some still make sense (not been proved wrong yet) others dont (have been). There is some personal originality in here.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Behavioural Marketing

Customer centric marketing is just too difficult, luckily I think we can give up on it and move on to something a bit easier, behavioural marketing.

We still talk a lot about segmentation and understanding customers needs. The argument is we can group customers into like minded groups and infer likely behaviour from their profiles. Why bother? It is a lot easier to observe what they do, and offer them something on a 'people like you' basis.

What do Amazon know about us? Nothing much about us as people, why should they care. But they do know what we buy and what we have told them is in our wish list. They don't care if two book buyers have different profiles, what does interest them is that they buy the same books. Admittedly they could get a bit smarter merging profiles and behavioural data but it sounds like a lot of work for very little return. Predicting book reading interests from personal data is just too much like guess work, you will get many more misses than hits.

Behavioural marketing is easier to apply in e-commerce environments, retail and service, the likes of Amazon, BA Frequent Flyer clubs but the behavioural approach is applicable across the board. What it means is that the role of the marketer is to do stuff, give stuff away, offer help, offer services, content, whatever allows the customer to do something, interact. The marketer is searching for Behavioural clues. Consequently our job is to do something interesting to the customer rather than something that looks to sell with indecent haste. In high end business technology the things that work best are the offers of free IT reviews, on and off line. The information you get is all you need to know about a customers requirements and willingness to purchase.

The problem with the behavioural marketing approach is that as marketers we have to think about the quality of prospects and customers rather than the numbers we reach. For some this is a major cultural shift, for others it is an easier transition. Behavioural marketing is more than behavioural targeting it is effectively the fusion of digital and direct marketing. It is giving us 121 marketing but without the complexity of profiling and inferring behaviour from attitude, profile, demographics, firmographics or whatever. So what will make it really interesting is when (complimentary) businesses sharing their behavioural data becomes common place.

One day soon, what do my customers look like, may become an irrelevant question. We just won't care.

Monday, 1 March 2010

A Marketing DO list - distributed content

One thing that has changed over the last few years in marketing is an increasing need to go and do things rather than just talk about it. Unfortunately whilst small operations get this, the bigger corporations, clients and agencies alike, have not quite grasped this for a number of pretty understandable reasons. Firstly, there are internal pressures to get the strategy perfect. Secondly, how do agencies charge for earned media, which cannibalise their traditional revenues. As no one has quite mastered payment on performance, agencies will naturally do the work that feeds the children (we are getting older) and leave the other stuff to later. Thirdly, traditional media is more visible (success and failure) to the organisation so as a marketing director you focus on this stuff first. I would.

Distributed content is a classic example. We all know it is a great idea but we can spend too much time in circular strategising.

"How and where are we going to distribute content?"
"Depends on what you are saying?"
"What do we talk about it, the stuff we are marketing or something else?"
"Surely we can re-use our content?"

So here are some DO-ing guidelines.

1. Distributed content is a longer term strategy so focus on your brand, your attitude and what makes you different. Sacrifice strategy to be interesting. In other words don't bother distributing boring marketing stuff or thinly veiled advertising unless you are Apple.

2. Dedicate time and resource (that means people) to creating interesting stuff. You cant just wave goodbye to your content as it leaves the door and hope it brings the goodies back. Hire a journalist, a copy writer. Create videos. How to's. How not to's. Top 10s. My mistakes. It is entertainment.

3. Social media. Get your videos on YouTube, Blinx and other video sharing sites. Get pictures on google images and other photo sharing sites. Wikipedia, How to sites. Link it. Tag it. Start now.

4. Use links and buttons in your email to entice visitors to other destinations. You don't want to be too in the face. Be brave, link away from your site. Host third party content tools in your site if you want to be really clever and transparent.

5. Having already established links with friendly bloggers keep them informed, they are linked with each other so this can snowball really quickly.

6. Plan news releases for next 12 months. Manage your media relations. They love content if it is good. Foster relations, don't harass them ask them what they want. Try using a phone as well as email.

And if you get this half right it should improve relevance scores and traffic through organic search and .

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Rewiring business brains

Where do i save a presentation to a client on social media and CRM? Do i save it under the client name or under a discipline? Or both?

When the 4 and 5 year olds of today grow up they won't know what filing is. They may not even understand the concept of folders. That is because everything will be tagged, they will think in terms of search even now i have given up saving files in neat folders on the computer. Save it anywhere and find it again with google desktop. They will also think video. A Forrester type organisation estimate that 91% of new content in 2014 will be video. YouTube is already the world's no 2 search engine.

Increasingly we will struggle to think in linear terms, we will think more by concept association. Even now generation x, or y or is it z, reared on digital struggle to tell structured stories but what they are very good at is managing lots of different thoughts and not worrying about how everything connects. They use their right brain to make sure it feels alright rather than worrying whether something is watertight. Mr Logic has been allowed to put his feet up.

So going back to presentations and presenting information i suspect the new way to illustrate complex ideas will be increasingly be via images, video and pictures; documents will not be structured in a a linear order but the different sections will be hyperlinked. Clients may ask for a 3 minute video pitch rather than charts.

I am sure this 'rewiring' has big social and educational implications but for the moment the thought of less powerpoint is a pretty good one.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The future of CRM

Understandably businesses are increasingly obsessed with customer loyalty - both emotional and financial. Customers are harder to win over, as the mantra goes - they are in control.

So how long will it be before businesses offer customers stock to stay loyal. It is the perfect arrangement. If you like us you can be part of us, every time you buy something you get a little bit of us in return. And of course customers will be less tempted to go somewhere else because they will feel the company is 'theirs' - even if they only own 10 shares. It does not have to be tricky. Take Tesco, they could buy back stock and hand it over to customers for club card points at the year end. 'I go there so often i should have shares in the place' will be a reality.

The means of production will fall into the hands of the workers to paraphrase the German bloke - it would just be ironic that shares the symbol of capitalism will be the mechanic that makes it real.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Suicide and customer satisfaction

Sweden is the 7th happiest country in the world based on a Leicester University study, Denmark just a few miles away is no 1. But they both rank extremely highly in the international suicide rate table. For that matter where do you think Switzerland -not unassociated with suicide ranks? ... that's it, 2nd in happiness.

This research is based on a questionnaire along the lines of how happy are you (there are other more sophisticated ways of measuring happiness). But it illustrates a really important statistical point.

If you take all the unhappy people out of your happy survey or they exclude themselves by virtue of suicide then your national happiness score will increase. So any happiness survey needs to find a way of accounting for this, perhaps including their responses until they would have reach the average life expectancy, but that doesn't sound right either. Exactly the same logic illustrates why the FTSE 100 does not reflect the fortunes of the economy, it is because the companies that perform worse fall out of the index. It is called survivor bias, which takes on a whole new meaning when you relate it to happiness and suicide.

And the point. By the same logic we should not exclude customers who have moved to a competitor from our customer satisfaction scores; if we want to use customer satisfaction as an indicator of how we well we are servicing customers. The smarter way to measure this is to use a composite score underpinned by churn, customer sat, net promoter scores. Otherwise it is conceivable you would see customer sat increase side by side with customer churn.

I now have to explain to the family why i have bookmarked a couple of pages on suicide statistics.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

When choice drives women crazy - Times Online

When choice drives women crazy - Times Online

Another article highlighting the confusion created by too much consumer of choice - in this instance in technology, if you get a chance do read the 'paradox of choice'. Still think it is the best, most rigorous book on the subject.

And whilst i am on there was a feature in the daily's ridiculing labours 'minister of spin'. apparently he had circulated emails discussing 'behavioural economics', 'loss aversion' and other madcap ideas to MPs.

Not sure what to make of this. Is the take out that MPs are too thick to understand it or that that the ideas are too way out there. I suspect the problem is that it is difficult to always express new ideas on one page in 5 sentences with double spacing.

About Me

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United Kingdom
Just curious about marketing, psychology, economics, business, irrational behaviour, people, models, communications, advertising, market imperfections, b2b marketing. I work in the marketing communications industry for OgilvyOne.