Tag Archives: social media

Make it a sweet ’16

On the runThis January we reflected on some of the work we have been doing lately and how clients are evolving.  While marketing has become so much more complex, mainly due to the many trends we have posted about here, we also see the net effect as working to make 2016 a “sweet” year for the industry.   You can help make this the Year of the Superhero Marketer by keeping these points in mind:

  • DISRUPTION GOES MAINSTREAM.  Our last post dealt with this topic and was one of our most popular.  It reminded us that back in the day (Mad Men era) and even up to a few years ago, clients were not up for rocking the boat in any way.  This was especially true in large corporations, where playing it safe meant you kept your job. The ethics of the newer generations (Millennials +), mobile workforce, and the power of social media have changed the fear of creativity and innovation.  Heck, it’s ALL disruptive now, with the new popularity of digital detox camps being proof of that (“Leave your cell:  bring your bottle”).  Today, the Big Boys want to show how nimble and with-it they are, and many of their employees are secretly hoping to be fired so they can launch a start-up.
  • SMARTER CLIENTS.  Some of the old-timers decry that marketing was a lot more fun when clients weren’t so in-the-know.  We disagree, as it’s more enjoyable to play tennis with someone who plays better or at least at the same level as you.  A client who is already up on strategic and media tactics that work is one you can take to a whole new level without stomach-churning stops & starts. Turning your client into a thought partner is what it’s about today.
  • INFLUENCING vs. PUSHING.  We have bloggers to thank for helping raise the consumer message bar.  You can’t just dump rubbish on these folks. These arbiters of good (or bad) taste help keep marketers on course by immediately exposing phony pitches, tepid tones and other marketing sins.  Influencing may take longer, but once is sticks, it lasts.
  • MAKE METRICS MATTER.  Perhaps nothing brings more fear to a marketer’s heart than measuring and evaluating programs.  We’ve frequently posted about the importance of metrics, but it wasn’t always easy to measure success in traditional advertising.  Former boss David Ogilvy was just one of the ad gurus credited with saying:  “Half the money spent on advertising is wasted.  We just don’t know which half”.  Again, digital media to the rescue, with myriad ways to check, in real time who reads your stuff, who likes it, who buys it.  If you’re a weak marketer, this  allows you to change a campaign’s direction before disaster strikes.  Think about that benefit alone:  you get to keep the client!

 

 

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Post Modern: the new architecture of retail

No longer enough to have bricks & mortar
No longer enough to have impressive bricks & mortar

We hear the description “Post Modern” increasingly in industry chats today, especially from some of our colleagues emerging from the recent National Grocers Assn. Show in Las Vegas.

We’re not talking about the lauded design styles of masters such as Philip Johnson or Michael Graves, but of the new structural elements of shopping behavior.   In short, the Post Modern approach is the new architecture of retail, and marketers need to adapt to it…or start to crumble.

Kantar Retail details this trend in their “Retailing 2020” report, an excellent overview of some of the topics we have addressed in these posts as well, such as channel blurring, segmentation,  customer profiling, and others.

The report’s premise is that the Post-Modern period (which we are entering now) decries the end of Supercenter Era.  Hypermarts and big boxes will give way to “small, urban, ―alternative retail formats, as well as reliance on multi-format portfolios to capture future growth.”

Comparisons are made to Europe, where real estate is through the roof, chains are fewer and competition fierce, forcing retailers to be efficient and effective.  Private brands, direct to consumer advertising and more robust marketing are some of their strategies for survival.

We recently caught up with busy retail-wonk, Kantar EVP David Marcotte, who launched our fascinating discourse with the revelation:  “When clients ask me to show them who’s doing the best job in retailing today, I send them to Mexico.”

He went on to explain that Mexico has embraced the latest in digital with innovative design to deliver the experience their rising-income customers want.  (This merits its separate post:  stay tuned!)  Actually, emerging markets such as all the BRICs (Brazil, Russian, India, China and now, of course, Mexico) essentially leapfrogged to digital over the last few years from their Cro Magnon-era phone services.

Our discussion evolved into some of the key buzzwords that marketers should be familiar with in today’s Post-Modern retail architecture, such as:

  • data architecture, the art of proper intel mining skills; not just collecting it, but creating a compelling and engaging story that links the data sources.  In fact, we believe that having a compelling story to tell  customers is going to be the hallmark of successful businesses.
  • footprint no longer means the spot where the store stands, but the overall influence it has.  In fact, it may mean no store at all, or comprise multi-footprints, including digital,  etc.
  • transparency.  Shoppers are gaining (and now expecting) much greater access to the entire supply chain by following products from your plant to their place.   The good news is that info can mean higher efficiencies for manufacturers, but also result in consumers clamoring for removals of things they don’t like (i.e. the recent Subway ingredient incident )
  • wall-less retailing provides seamless channel transition and thus delightful shopping experience for the customer:  it looks like one big room full of good stuff!

A final thought on this reverts back to our premise of Post Modernism in relation to architecture:  that it  stemmed from the perceived limitati0ns of the Modern Movement that preceded it.  Folks felt that  buildings had become too stark and functional, and did not meet the human need for comfort and beauty.  It’s the same with shopping.

Mad over metrics, or looking for stuff where the light is better

English: John Wanamaker
Smarter than Don Draper?

Consider this statement from a renowned retailer:

“…Another experience that goes largely in ordinary advertising is the waste of money.  There have been many calculations concerning the vast sums of money expended upon advertising in this country.  I do not recall what their magnitude is, but the figures compiled by observers are really astounding.   I think if we could manage to analyze that expenditure…we would find that a vast percentage of it, probably one-half, is entirely wasted…”
 

Was this WalMart’s lament at the last shareholder meeting?  Or,  perhaps JCP’s excuse for its continuing doldrums?  Neither, dear reader.  It was part of an industry speech by none other than John Wanamaker (pictured left), founder of the late, great Wanamaker’s department store, in…1898.

100+ years later, the issue still hounds marketers, albeit pared to the more sound-bitey:  “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” 

When Wanamaker wailed about advertising, the term “marketing metrics” was unheard of.   There was no TV, of course, and “social networking” meant getting together for tea with your neighbor.

Even more than half a century later, in the 1960s (the Mad Men days) there were only three TV networks and three national news magazines to consider.  With limited venues and a high captive audience, advertising was, as a “Don Draper” type quipped: “like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Those halcyon days are now clearly over, as expanded communication venues and, especially, social media, provide an audience of mega-millions.  Expectations are high:  there are so many more fish to shoot!

However, this has created a climate where marketers wish to quantify everything.  How many Followers, Pokes, or Likes did we get today?  How many unique viewers visited the site?  For how long were they engaged?  What was the conversion rate of the ad?  There is barely a company today not pondering their metrics, or, how to measure the effectiveness of their PR, advertising, social media, and myriad other marketing activities.

There is even a new crop of “consultants to consultants” looking to advise agencies how to win big by “generating metric reports that dazzle!”, or by offering “100 Ways to Keep Clients Happy and Budgets Intact” (without having to bribe them with booze, drugs, or game tickets, we assume…)

One such group recently advised to be careful how we use nouns vs. verbs in our metrics reports, as they can dramatically “affect the effect.”  No wonder self-professed “AdHo” George Parker, a veteran of the already-waning Mad Men era in the 70s, says we’ve all gone mad over metrics.

He claims we often measure things without considering what it is, exactly, we are looking for.   And if we were to find it, what does it all mean?  He clarifies:  “It’s like a guy losing his car keys in the garage but going into the living room to look for them because the light is better there.”

This “looking for stuff where the light is better” trend rings true.  Truth is, marketing programs should be measured, but not all marketers should or know how to do the math. (Actually, the only old math they need to memorize is:  REACH + FREQUENCY = IMPACT.  It still holds true today.)

Never having made it to Statistics 101 in college, they certainly don’t have time to deal with it now.  They just want a good story to sell.  “Put up a realistic number that makes us look good”  they beg, preparing the slides for the upcoming stockholders meeting.

On the other side, we have recently slogged through an extensive (and expensive) report by a respected university. It contained complex, multi-page regression analyses to help justify the client’s advertising campaign. (People, it’s just advertising!)

Of course, there’s no harm in searching for brightness where the light is dim.  If, say, your post-campaign survey reveals 40% of consumers “seldom” buy your product and 20% “sometimes” do, then you can probably safely say 60% are “frequent purchasers.”  We used to call this a minor statistical enhancement.  Now, it’s metrics.

In summary, good advertising is part science, part art, and lots faith.  There are things that we can’t put an immediate number to, but we just know are right.

They sound and feel right, and we get the right reaction to it.  That’s the emotion “metric” the best ad-makers have always gone for.

John Wanamaker knew that, and that’s why, grumbling, he kept up his ad spending to build one of the most successful retail chains in the world.

Social media awakens sleeping giant

"Independency or death." Despiction ...
“Independency or death.” Despiction of the declaration of the Brazilian independence by Prince Pedro (later Emperor Pedro I) on 7 September 1822. Oil on Canvas painting by Pedro Américo (1888). (credit: Wikipedia)

“Mas, se ergues da justiça a clava forte/Verás que um filho teu não foge à luta/ Nem teme, quem te adora, a própria morte…”

♠  ♠  ♠  ♠  ♠ 
(excerpt from Brazil’s national anthem, written c. 1880s, Verse 2, roughly translated from Portuguese:  “If the strong arm of justice raises up, you will see your adoring son will not flee the fight nor fear death.”)

This was the week that may have changed Brazil.  We’re not talking about how they beat Mexico at the stadium, although that’s big stuff (if you care about soccer).

We’re talking of the huge public demonstrations simultaneously mobilizing every major city in the vast country.  This we should care about.

If you follow global news you know it all started with a student-driven protest about the increased bus and metro fares in the major cities, but soon escalated to cries about the exhorbitant World Cup and Olympics infrastructure expenses while schools and hospitals crumble.  The people took to the streets, proudly singing their national anthem (see above), using the greatest tool of democracy:  protest.

But this is not the typical student protest:  they’ve had plenty of those before.  We’re talking about estimated millions of young and old, rich or poor, taking to the streets.  As with the Arab Spring,  this movement (now dubbed the “Tropical Spring”) could not have happened without social media.

It’s the perfect cocktail for today’s world:  social unrest + social media = new society.  Yet lest we believe this unrest is new, let’s take a look at the old.

Beyond the specific complaints of the people now, this week reflects the symptom of a greater and older malaise.  This general dissatisfaction can belie the blindness when faced with Brazil’s famed “Four Bs”:   beaches, bikinis, beer, and barbecue.

Beyond the “fab four”, this Brazilian malaise — a general feeling things are not quite right — has been an underlying sentiment as far back as we can recall.  We remember because some of us actually grew up there.

This was Brazil pre-democracy, a country where benign yet brazen dictators ruled and where popular singers were exiled for defamatory lyrics; a place where someone you knew would just simply disappear one day, never to be heard from again, and where you tripped daily over crumbling mosaic sidewalks.

The bureaucracy was stupefying.  If you wanted anything done in the public sector, you paid someone else lots to do it.  You also paid some poor peon peanuts to hold your place in line at the bank because it might take all day to cash your paycheck.

(Actually, it took two peons:  one to hold your place and the other to run up to your office to tell you when your turn was close.  So…how many Brazilians does it take to screw in a light bulb?)

Yet we kept our mouths shut.  Ah, Brazil…love it or leave it.  Some of us did.

Today’s Brazil is a different place, with educated and progressive leaders, economic growth, and expanding natural resources making it “The Miracle” once again.  Formerly low-heeled friends now own three cars:  the American dream!   It should all work very nicely, and the people (and a peaceful people, too!) should be happy…but apparently not.

As of this post, the people of Brazil just got their low bus fares back.  Emboldened, they will ask for other things,  and they will keep on demanding.

Today, the sleeping giant is up and boarding the bus.

Related articles:

FIVE FOLLIES vs. FACTS

Folly is for clowns, not marketers
Folly is for clowns, not marketers

Our count-down series continues!  We found that folks just love lists.  Our blog stats show that the “listy” posts are the best read by far.  It just goes to prove that long-winded explanations of things just doesn’t cut it today.

Having been raised with advertising guru David Ogilvy’s 1980s “long copy sells” adage,  now we learn that the leading Generation Yer marketing guru blogger Seth (it’s OK, check out the competition at: www.sethgoding.typepad.com) favors short & sweet…and bulleted.  So here we go….

 After the amazing 10 MARKETING MISTAKES (post 8/23), followed by our surprising SEVEN STEPS TO SUCCESS (9/12), we will now address some major follies…in no particular order of foolishness:

  • FOLLY:  After we manufacture our widget, we will put together the marketing plan.”

FACT:  Perhaps that’s the most common mistake marketers make.  Always think of the cement company’s dictum: find a need, then fill it.  If there is no need for your product, no amount of marketing will help you sell it.

  • FOLLY:  “My nephew can do it for cheap.”

FACT:  This is a common approach in family companies trying to keep the lid on costs.  Unless your newphew is an EXPERT on brochures, web sites, category management, what have you, let a professional do it.  Unprofessional results, especially in graphics and image, are immediately and permanently apparent.

  • FOLLY:  “If we give it away for free, then who’ll buy it?”

FACT:  My mother often used this old adage about girls who live with their boyfriends before marriage:  “Why would he buy the cow if he can get the milk for free?”.  While this might be the case with lust,  it’s apparently not so with marketing.   It has been proven that most of the time, if you give a customer/client  something smallish but useful, at no obligation, they’ll come back.   This has been particularly so with web business-to-business, such as white papers, trend reports, guide books, even opinions, that you can download for nothing. 

Afterward, of course, you are invited to join the organization or pay for an annual subscription, etc.  By that time you are typically hooked on the stuff or at least feeling guilty, so you bite… If no one signs up or buys what you are offering, at least you know the product is no good right away.

  • FOLLY:  “If we had a larger budget, we would have gotten better results.”

FACT:  This is the plague of big companies with lots of money to waste.  We have seen more useless stuff come out of those with endless resources than from companies that actually have to use imagination and moxey to get their message across.  The smaller companies are typically better at measuring results also, which is what it’s all about.

  • FOLLY:  “We want everyone Twittering about us!”

FACT:  This is a new one since the explosion of social media.   We find many marketers today want the full plate of media options just so they can be on-trend.  At a recent trade show (posts 10/2 and 10/7) we learned that some produce companies were asking folks to follow them on Twitter.  When we asked them “Why?”, they couldn’t respond strategically.  Perhaps they think people are dying to read about what their melons are up to at any time of the day…

Folks, please have a good strategy before you adopt every new trend.  Even Mylie Cyrus knew when to give up Twitter.

NEXT MONTH, TO FOLLOW OUR OWN ADVICE:  THREE FREE IDEAS!