28 Oct

The problems global warming and marketing share

Our Australian Prime Minister thinks that tackling global warming head-on will cost too much. Bad for the economy. Too much money and a massive effort. He’s not sure it is really needed.

It would mean fundamental change. It would mean we would have to innovate. It would require collaboration between the Federal Government and the State Governments, business, the community in general. He believes it would hurt the economy too much. He is probably worried people will vote him out at the next election. So he does a little window dressing.

Plenty of business leaders feel the same way about marketing. It costs money. Not sure if they really need it. The team are too busy already. Getting sales, development, customer service and finance involved in marketing is too hard. It means trying things that have not been done before.

But if the world around you is changing so radically, what is the greater risk, change or no change?

11 Oct

How Microsoft will drive another major marketing change

With the vast majority of people using Microsoft Internet Explorer as their browser, any new communications features they introduce should get a marketers attention. The next version of IE, IE7 will have a signficant communications tool built in; RSS.

I’ve just read on Steve Rubel’s blog that Microsoft intend to automatically upgrade Internet Explorer 6 to 7. Here is a little bit from Steve’s blog:

The Internet Explorer upgrade includes an integrated feed reader. Yes, for many of us this is old news. We have been reading feeds for months or even years. However, do no under estimate the impact of millions of desktops worldwide getting not only a new browser, but a magical little orange button. Not everyone will click on it, but those who are curious will and then the fun starts.

As more people around the world start reading RSS feeds, big things will happen. It will force everyone to begin to integrating feed communication initiatives in their marketing and PR programs. News and blog posts are just the beginning. Couponing and all kinds of other communiques will go into feeds, as well ads and more. That little orange button might look small, but boy is it big.

Here is my take:

  • A small portion of people will start pushing the button out of curiosity. Most won’t even notice it.
  • Smart marketers/communicators are going to give people a reason to push that button and directing them to it. That’s when it gets interesting.
  1. If people are offered valuable information, they will push the orange button.
  2. If they are offered a unique, valuable special offer, they will push the orange button.
  3. If they can get something of value for free, they will push the orange button.
  4. If they find out that they can stay up to date with YouTube and MySpace, they will push the orange button.
09 Oct

How “permission marketing” got hijacked

Seth Godin published his book “Permission Marketing” in 1999 and challenged the way we think about gaining and keeping customers. In a nutshell, it argues that the traditional ways of marketing and advertising are not sustainable; we are exposed to so many messages every day (up to 3,000 a day, from magazines, televisions, radio, email, billboards, telephone, etc, etc) that we simply switch off.

90% of these messages are irrelevant to our needs or interests. We didn’t ask to be interrupted when we are watching a TV show, surf a website or flick through a magazine. We find it intrusive, anoying, boring.

So our response is to switch off. To filter out. To avoid anything that even smells like a “sales” message. The information age and technology means that we can quite literally do this: filter email, screening telephone calls and even television through services like TIVO. And if we can’t phyically switch it off, we do it mentally anyway. In essence, the power is shifting from the marketer to the consumer.

The alternative is to put the focus (and therefore money and time) into building relationships with highly targeted groups of people; anticipated, relevant and personal communication. It’s about building relationships on your customers terms, not yours.

So what happens when you ask about “permission marketing” to someone involved in marketing now?

I bet they will only talk about email. About “opt-in” lists and buttons on websites. The meaning has been hijacked by “old school” direct marketers who, under pressure from SPAM legislation, were forced to put a facility on their email or website that gives customers some legal protection against pestering.

Not because they think it is good for business, but because it is required by law.

It’s a shame, because the idea is a lot bigger than that.

03 Oct

CRM is back – this time it might deliver

Ten years ago CRM was all the buzz and was going to change the marketing landscape forever, promising a one-to-one relationship with all prospects and customers. But CRM over-promised and under-delivered.

CRM was mostly synonymous with expensive systems, even more expensive implementations and nobody to drive the beast when it was finally installed. Everyone has heard a horror story. The company I worked for in the mid-nineties employed about 120 people and spent $500k on a system that no-one used. So is it all a waste of time?

I don’t think so. The importance of one-to-one relationship building is clearly only going to increase in the information age; to build relationships we need to be more relevant, more personal, more focused.

The good news is that the choice of “CRM” software is now far greater and no longer restricted to large corporate business. It is much more affordable, flexible and user friendly.

I have recently had a play with SugarCRM, an “open source” product that’s had good reviews online and appears to bring together simplicity and functionality at a price point that is accessible to small and medium business.

PS: Maybe CRM is not the right term, maybe it should simply be Relationship Building Systems. Maybe more on that in my next post.