Monday, August 21, 2006

CMA Blog Moves to New Branded Site

That’s right. Thanks to the creative folks at Twist Image, CMA now has its very own branded blog-site. Canadian Marketing Blog. In addition to regular contributors, visitors with marketing on their minds are encouraged to submit posts. Look for “Submit a new post” towards the bottom of each page -and alongside the side-bar on the left side of the pages. If your submission meets CMA’s blogging policy, it will be posted. Comments are welcome and moderated btw.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Open Source

I once thought I had online marketing licked. I then got involved with groups such as the Digital Marketing Council and humility kicked in. Then came reality to this young jedi: "Much work you still have to do yes" (He says in a poor Master Yoda voiceover).

During the past few years, I've learned from wonderful people on the agency side, client side or no side who gave me their advice on many issues. Be it blogging/podcasting, website usability, online advertising, viral marketing, online conversion, technology or general marketing. (And this is only a sample for the sake of brevity.)

This in turn allowed me to become more informed about online marketing but also more effective in my job and career development. Candidly, I wonder why I didn't bother getting more involved sooner.

The reason I love online marketing? It's one of the purest forms of the 'open source' concept I've seen. Most people are willing to help others learn with no costs or strings attached.

Don't believe me? Get involved with the CMA or any organization. Be it CaseCamp, BarCamp, AIMS, whatever. The subsequent results will speak for themselves.

Friday, August 18, 2006

PVR vs. Live Sports…..

I have owned a personal video recorder or PVR at home for a few years now. Originally I thought I'd check out this new technology and see what it was all about. A few months into having one I realized I was highly addicted and could not live without this box for the rest of existence. I found I was watching the same amount of TV, but because I could fast-forward through the ads I was spending less time on my couch. A 120 minute TV episode could be watched in 80 minutes or less. Usually I could watch a show in 33% less time.

TV advertisements quickly became a thing of the past for me.

The smart Media executives in this country realized a while ago that this technology would change the way people watch TV forever. We would all record our shows and watch when we wanted to, not when the networks wanted us to. This is now a reality for us PVR owners. We are now used to seeing more product placement within shows as a result.

Perhaps there was one exception? Some of these executives assumed that sports would be the one thing that people would want to watch live because that's when sports are most exciting. Therefore those media outlets that have access to live sports (whether they own the teams or own the rights to broadcast those games) would be able to charge the most for advertising. I watch quite a few sports throughout the year like hockey, baseball and some golf. I really thought these executives might be right. I like watching sports live, not recorded.

Now I'm not so sure.

Usually professional sports games last about 3 hours (baseball, hockey, football, basketball etc). I am now recording the games and watch them from the beginning about an hour into the show. That way I can watch the whole game but can still fast forward through all the ads and watch live for the last 20 minutes or so.

Even my favorite live sports have become victims of the great PVR. I've heard rumors that the future is "this recorded broadcast you are watching on your PVR is brought to you by…."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Not So Golden Arches Anymore

Ok, I'll admit it. When I was a child I loved heading over to Micky D's for a Happy Meal so I could get a toy and enjoy those oh-so-lovely french fries.

Times have changed and the Golden Arches have lost their luster. Perhaps the increase in child obesity is one reason. Another one may be movies that brought light to the risks of fast food.

It's probably as fun being Ronald McDonald now as it was being the Marlboro Man back in the day. McDonald's is now under the microscope much like cigarette companies were a few years (and lawsuits) ago. This obviously includes their marketing as well.

That's why the recent "Hummer of a Summer" promotion between McDonald's and Hummer has got me perplexed. It's got all the signs of a marketing and PR nightmare.

After enough visits, kids can collect up to 8 different toy Hummers. Environmentalists and critics alike are having a field day with the promotion. (As pointed out by an accordian player I know, check out the parody site that links from the Sierra Club website.)

As noted in the NY Times, in a written statement the CMO of McDonald's said that the promotion was intended to bring "the fun and excitement of Hummer vehicles to McDonald's youngest guests".

Is that the fun and excitement of promoting a military-type vehicle, costing a monthly mortgage payment to fill-up while contributing to the further pollution of the environment?

Sorry but the clown is capable of doing much better.

If not India, where?

Flipping through August 7th Business Week magazine I was stopped by the headline “Call Center? That’s so 2004.”

The article detailed the fact that as international outsourcers (particularly in India) get more sophisticated at taking over outsourced work from the west, they are finding that the “lowest end” of the business – call centres – just does not pay anymore. Apparently Indian outsourcers are beginning to turn down call centre contracts. (The article was interesting in its detailing of the difficulties encountered by offshore call centres.)

This made me think. The national Do Not Call List (DNCL) is around the corner. I think that it will inevitably have an effect on the outbound prospect telemarketing habits of Canadian organizations. I think that some organizations are likely to re-jig their telemarketing mix away from prospecting, to focus more on existing customers (who are exempt from the national DNCL requirements). Even before reading the Business Week article I was wondering if such a shift would result in an increase in the prevalence and size of in-house call centres in Canada. Add the point that the article is making – that North American companies are potentially going to find it more difficult, or at least more expensive, to outsource call centre work – now I might place even more money on the potential that in the next little while we are going to see an increase in in-house telemarketing by Canadian organizations.

What do you think?

Relevant to the question is a Contact Centre Canada study done in April 2006 titled “Customer Contact Centres in Canada: the Impact of Offshoring, Technology and Regulation on Human Resources”. Contact Centre Canada is the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Sector Council focused on the HR challenges affecting the contact centre sector. Interestingly, their study predicted that offshoring will increase over the next five years…

Monday, August 14, 2006

Marketing to the Luxury Customer

We can spend a lot of money - the coveted luxury customer. I actually think there are plenty of us around out there who consume or use something that is considered to be of ‘luxury’. With me, it’s my car. Nothing too fancy, but it would be considered a luxury vehicle none-the-less. So much that the dealer has invested time and money communicating to me that my car is associated with status. I receive a quarterly magazine that talks about vacations to exotic places, upscale watches, gourmet food (I never read it), I get fancy wine and cheese invites to preview the next newest model (haven’t been to one), email communications, you get the picture.

So what’s the beef? I have never had to schedule an appointment at the dealer for anything other than an oil change – until last week, and after owning my car for 3 years. My radio signal is weak. The great sounding stereo is an important feature of my car, to me. So at my scheduled appointment, instead of welcoming me as the luxury customer that I am, I hear “Since it appears to be working now, there is nothing we can do. We have guidelines and can’t run a diagnostic test.” When I balked, “Can’t you see if there is a loose wire or something”… I was given the very poor analogy “ You wouldn’t change a light bulb if it is working, only if it were flickering and could not be tightened ….and you will have to come-in when the problem is noticeable.” (Actually, if I had flickering issues, I would quickly change a bulb). The fact that my complaint was not taken at face value, ie, don’t waste my time lady, was upsetting.

You see, what’s happened here is I love my car. I have a problem with it and want it solved. I want to continue to love my car. I need re-inforcement to do so. All the messaging in the world telling me how valued I am goes out the window when actions do not support the messaging. Businesses need to align their values to all operating units – not just the communications department.

It just so happens, CMA will be presenting a Live Case Study (in-situ) on marketing to the luxury customer in the months ahead. Perhaps I should send my dealer an invitation!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

CFOs are from Mars CMOs are from Venus

I recently attended a great presentation by Roger Martin, Dean and Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto – I’m an alumni) entitled “Creating a Conducive Context for Creativity”.

Don’t let the title fool you - it was/is a brilliant and succinct distillation of Martin’s insights into one aspect of why organizations often fail at innovation – the roles that people play and the mental frameworks that they bring with them when evaluating ideas.

According to Martin, this “fundamental tension” can be bifurcated into two camps - those who seek reliability versus those who seek validity. The resolution, anchored in the world of design, is first of all recognizing these perspectives, and then migrating from a traditional firm’s mental framework to one more like a design firm.

It’s all explained in a brief six page PowerPoint and understood by watching Martin’s presentation, links to both of which can be found at the bottom of this page on the Rotman site.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Integrated Marketing Programs - Are They Stacking Up?

Worth looking at – and while not ‘surprising’ news - the ANA (Association of National Advertisers - U.S.) issued a release in June on results of a survey fielded in May/Jun 06 around integrated marketing programs. Wasn’t able to access all the results, but these points may be consistent with the Canadian mindset:

  • 67% of marketers develop integrated marketing programs across most of their brands - only 33% say they are very happy with their efforts.
  • Most marketers (72%) feel the development of the “Big”creative idea that can be leveraged across all marketing channels is the most important contribution an agency can make toward an integrated marketing campaign.
  • Almost 50 percent of marketers want their agencies to be media neutral when developing an integrated marketing program.

    More points in the release.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Snakes in a Campaign

Personally, one of the marketing channels (is it a channel?) or types that I find the most interesting is viral marketing. I would guess that coming up with a good viral campaign would be challenging, a bit hit and miss. On the other hand, sometimes even without trying, a campaign can turn viral.

Always watching for effective examples, I found a great one yesterday. Or it found me. On my way home from work I got a call on my cell phone. The caller ID said the call was from my boyfriend. When I answered, it was Samuel L. Jackson, calling me by name, referencing some of my personal traits - including the fact that I work in public affairs and drive a junky car – and telling me to take my “boyfriend Aaron”, and go see his movie. It was hilarious.

And proof of effectiveness, when I got home, I went online and have already sent it to 5 other people.

I sent it to some co-workers (who Samuel instructed to “take your co-worker Elizabeth and go see my movie”) who instantly asked about the implications of relevant telemarketing regulations. (It is the way we think around here!) How do you get on their internal do not call list? What about calling hour restrictions?

The effective thing about the campaign is that the call is not originating from the movie studio or a marketing company, but from your friend. If I call-traced the call I received, it would send me back to my boyfriend’s number. So I guess it would be his internal do not contact list that would be relevant here… And there were some other relevant features built right into the campaign’s programming. You are only allowed to send a call between 8am and 10pm of the area code being called (which worked – it would not let us call our summer student’s Vancouver cell phone before 8am Vancouver time). And playing around on the site, we determined that it will not call the same number twice.

So far this is my favourite viral campaign I have come across. And when my boyfriend saw a TV ad for the movie last night (mmm integration) and mused “you know this movie looks like could be good” I knew that the campaign had been successful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Plagiarism (College or Corporate style)

I recall in my graduate days when writing a research paper the very stringent rules the university had regarding sourcing of work and references.

Now crediting of sources applies not only in academia but to copy, creative, design and other marketing elements as well. Full disclosure is not just some trendy expression.

Beyond the moral or legal issues, if you try to take credit for the work of others you risk getting roasted badly. Check out this site (flagged by the folks at 37 Signals) where some major clothing retailers appear to get 3rd degree burns.

Whether the aforementioned blog is legit is not my call. What is worth noting is the same Internet used by lazy students to plagiarize now serves to not only discredit them but others for trademark or copyright transgressions as well.

One of my past employers outsourced for original website content. We had a terrific editor who noticed inconsistencies in the writing style by the content provider. The content was cut and pasted into Google. The 'original content' showed up verbatim on a dozen different sites. We had grounds to terminate for breach of contract and also avoided a major bullet.

Could it be possible the pendulum has swung in the other direction? 'Not likely' according to some of my old profs. Nevertheless, whether you are a freshman or a marketer, the risk of public humilation just isn't worth it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

AIMS - 10 Years Later

The Association of Internet Marketing & Sales is recognizing its 10 year anniversary. And they are in the midst of a revitalization with the help of a new General Manager, Kathryn Lagden and ambitious plans moving forward.

To mark the occasion, AIMS has invited Shel Holz to headline a September 20 event. (I have to confess of not knowing who Shel is – but it seems everyone who touches online does!!)

AIMS is affiliated with CMA so we couldn’t be more pleased with this new energy. And with approx. 5000 members who are now following the CMA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, and synergy with CMA and in particular, its Digital Marketing Council, marketers will become the real beneficiaries.

Oh, and yes – they have recently come out with their own blog. Wouldn’t it make sense if we can get some cross pollination going?

Happy Anniversary AIMS.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Long Tail vs. Pareto Principle Face Off

For all you fans/readers out there of Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson's popular new book "The Long Tail" make sure and take note of the back-and-forth debate going on after Lee Gomes's recent Wall St. Journal article questioning a) Anderson's facts and b) the entire proposition that something new is going on here.

Gomes highlights in his article for example that Anderson admitted in an email "misses won't outsell hits for at least another decade" at two of his biggest case studies, Netflix and Amazon - yet there is no mention of this qualifier in the book.

Hmmm. Is the Long Tail over-estimated in the short term and under-estimated in the long term? Read Anderson's rebuttal(s) which now dominate his site and decide for yourself.

Lego Reaches-Out to Online Community

Yet another online community, albeit small, has helped to contribute to product enhancement – this time Lego. Lego, armed with some former adversaries (hackers) and enthusiasts that had formed an online support network – advised Lego on ways to enhance its buildable, programmable robot.

Another testimonial, really, of how through the online community, interest groups are being leveraged to further a company’s products and/or services.

Full article in the Toronto Star.