09 Nov

“unsubscribe” – when we hit the “off” switch

119709197585381818tzeeniewheenie_power_on_off_switch_red_2svghi.pngI just read a blog post by a well respected author making a couple of good points about email marketing and the importance of the subject line and signature.

Good information, but the post was 1,400 words long without sub-headings. So I thought I post a comment, generally supportive but making a point about the importance of being brief in email marketing and effective use of headings.

But I didn’t. I unsubscribed. Does that make sense, or was that the right thing to do? Probably not. He made a good point after all and I should have given him the feedback he deserved. Fact is, I don’t always do what is logical and right. Nor do our customers.

02 Nov

Age of Conversation 2 – The Rising Water Level of B2B Marketing

Where we had 100 people collaborating on the first book, “The Age of Conversation”, the sequel, “The Age of Conversation – Why don’t they get it?” involved 237 people from around the world. My contribution this time around is called: “The rising water level of B2B Marketing”, looking at how B2B marketers will have to change to adept to a new environment.

The topics people have written on are broad ranging, so there is a nice mix.

  • Manifestos
  • Keeping Secrets in the Age of Conversation
  • Moving from Conversation to Action?
  • The Accidental Marketer
  • A New Brand of Creative
  • My Marketing Tragedy
  • Business Model Evolution
  • Life in the Conversation Lane

I’ve chosen Business Model Evolution; here is a short bit of the intro:aoc2cover1.jpg

In B2B, there is more often than not a lot of careful evaluation before any purchase decision is made. After all, a bad decision could potentially harm your career, or cost you your job. You look for recommendations through personal networks and word of mouth. Now, through social media, there is a network at your fingertips that is easier to access, and more powerful than anything you’ve ever seen. Suddenly, as a buyer you have more knowledge, more choice, more power and higher expectations.

All the proceeds are going to the Children’s charity, Variety. If that alone is not enough reason to buy a book, consider this:

The 237 people who have participated are all passionate about the changing face of marketing. Some of these people are now recognised by the wider business community as experts in the rapidly evolving field of digital marketing/pr, social media, whatever tag you like to use. Some are not, but maybe they should be.

So what do you get for your money?

For $US 12.50 you can buy the e-book here.

For US$ 19.95 you buy the soft cover here, or the pretty hardcover for US$29,95 here.

A great effort again by Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton for organising this. An enormous effort for charity.

Check out the list of contributors:

Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Chris Brown, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Schawbel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Dave Davison, David Armano, David Berkowitz, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G. Kofi Annan, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne & Todd Cabral, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, John Herrington, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kristin Gorski, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw and James G. Lindberg, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tim Brunelle, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

08 Oct

How much do you focus on competitors?

It’s an interesting question. After all, our customers see us both and make their decisions accordingly. But where do you stop? How much information is enough, and how much is too much? It’s quite easy to get a bit obsessive about competitors. If a competitor has a feature, you need it too. If the competitor enters a new market, you need to be there too. If they re-brand, we need to re-brand. If they drop their price, so should we.

Of course it is important to understand your competitors. After all, customers see you in this context and make their choices accordingly. You can’t position your brand or solution in a vacuum; you position your brand in relative terms to others.

On the other hand, there are some real risks in putting too much focus on it.

Time – you have only a limited amount of time which needs to be divvied up between a broad range of marketing/business activity. If you spend most of it analysing others, you won’t get much done.

Focus – you could end up following your competitors instead of leading the market, becoming a me-too provider and loosing the reason why people chose you in the first place.

Confidence – your customers don’t just buy features, facts and figures. They buy on trust and you are an advisor to them. If your head is full of reasons why your competitors could be better, you’ll lack conviction and confidence and people will pick up on that.

So what’s the right balance?

That depends on how competitive your market is, but the first rule is to track and review with a purpose. If your purpose is to ensure your product/service development is in tune with market developments, do a quarterly review of your competitors offering and vital business stats.

If your purpose is to sell more effectively, focus on the information that is most important to your customers. Stuff that is either important to position your brand, or make to the sale. For your main competitors, write down the key reasons why your customers choose you over them, so you have a clear picture how you are positioned against each one. Equally, write down three arguments they use against you, and have a solid response. Not having to think about it when a customer asks you is in itself a pretty powerful statement.

In the end, competitors will always have features you don’t have, but how often is that feature making or breaking the sale?

And how many brands do you know (and use) with products and services that may not be the best or the most complete, but you choose them anyway?

06 Sep

Accident or marketing strategy?

Google’s Chrome browser needs more polish – BizTech – Technology – theage.com.au
“The browser was released this week after Google accidentally sent a comic book explaining Chrome’s features to a blogger a day early.”

Really? accidentally? Some online marketing strategist would see “leaking” a release to a blogger as the most effective way to ensure that the rest of the blogosphere would jump on board. Instantly reaching a hard core of “amplifiers” who like nothing more than a scoop. I’m a little surprised that this journalist didn’t consider this scenario to be honest.
By the way, how smart is it to use a comic to explain utterly boring and dry stuff like Multi Process Architecture? How is that for an alternative to a press release and a brochure?chrome.JPG

01 Aug

Marketing peril – drawing conclusions based on your own bias

We’re all prone to it.
I give you an example; there is clear evidence that people are moving from watching television to spending more time online. No argument there. But then I read a post by Seth Godin yesterday, in which he drew a really tricky conclusion from this fact. His post essentially suggests that the enormous amount of work that has gone into building Wikipedia’s is the result of people switching off their television sets, in favour of contributing to worthwhile endeavours such as Wikipedia.

He said: “All those hours, all that work. Where did the time and effort come from?”

Here is my issue:

This thinking presumes that spending more time online changes people’s behaviour from entertainment seekers to contributors to worthwhile intellectual activity.

I think that the vast majority of people who used to watch Baywatch or cop shows now watch Youtube and play Warcraft or play a quiz on Facebook. Not contribute to Wikipedia.

The reason I raise this point is that I believe that Seth Godin fell prey to a fundamental marketing trap: he drew a conclusion about the world based on his own bias. Seth doesn’t watch TV. I actually believe that if there had been no TV he would probably have spent his nights reading books or writing another one. But that’s not what the majority of people would necessarily do.

Largely, people watch (or watched) television to be entertained. I’d argue that they now substitute watching TV by going online to be entertained. That’s not black and white of course; there will be people who have actually changed their behaviour and now contribute to Wikipedia or another worthwhile exchange of ideas. But in general terms, the internet has simply provided a richer, more diverse and more interactive substitute for television.

For me, it reminds me of the fact that it is easy to draw conclusions about people, their preferences and their behaviours based on your own bias, and the slippery slope it takes you on. Timely reminder for me, as I work to understand a new set of customers in my new role with Aconex.
PS:I’m not having a go at Seth here. His contribution to clear marketing thinking is second to none and I recommend anyone to read his blog/books.

13 Jun

Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer blogs

Ok, I admit it. I was flattered when Julian Cole listed my blog as one of the Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneers blogs. A lot of entries I don’t recognise, but Servant of Chaos, Brand DNA and Better Communication Results have been setting the standard for some time.

So why does it matter, beyond making me feel good?

It’s great to see someone make the effort and look around in his own backyard. We’re probably all passionate about the opportunities today’s web offers to share ideas and collaborate.

I’d like to see more Australian organisations get involved and take advantage of the fantastic opportunities today’s web offers.

To spread the word, we need to connect in the “real” world as much as online

The thing is that to spread the word to the people who are not participating, we often need to go”offline”, because that’s where the audience is. They’re conversations over a coffee, or a presentation, or articles in the print media or other traditional media.
that top 50 list of people are probably all doing exactly that. And that’s why local is important.  We need to be on the ground, face to face or in the local media as much as online. So that’s the other reason I’m excited about this list. Thanks Julian.

See the full list here and check out some great blogs.

19 May

How web 2.0/social media is offering opportunities to B2B marketers

I subscribe to few newsletters these days, instead preferring RSS feeds, but the “Modern B2B Marketing” newsletter from Marketo is one that I like. Probably due to the easy lay out and great content. So the e-newsletter is not dead yet.

The discussion about social media/web 2.0 (I wish there was better terminology for this) tends to centre around consumer marketing, so this headline about B2B marketing got my attention.

It features Laura Ramos, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research (interviewed by Jon Miller from Marketo) who provides an interesting insight into how changes in the media environment (i.e. the fragmentation of media and the fact that we are all getting overloaded with communications) is starting to make B2B marketers look at other avenues beyond the traditional outbound marketing activities.

Engaging customers and prospects who are activly looking around for solutions to their problems with information and interaction that is relevant and valuable, seems to be a no-brainer. But how many organisations invest in this “pull” activity? With web 2.0/social media still in its infancy (especially in B2B marketing) there is a real opportunity to differentiate for those who take the lead.

Laura also offers specific examples of B2B marketers successfully using Web 2.0 tactics like rich media, blogging, RSS, and social networks. I’m not a great podcast consumer (because I’m impatient and want to scan for the good bits), but this was time well invested. Have a listen to this short, (10 minute?) podcast.
Using Digital, Web 2.0 Tactics to Boost B2B Marketing Results (Podcast)

07 Apr

“The Age of Conversation” mark II: Why don’t people get it?

Writing a book with 103 people from all over the world is a pretty interesting thing to do. That was “The Age of Conversation” and I enjoyed participating last year with my contributing chapter, “The voice of the CEO”.

Drew and Gavin (who had the idea, edited and co-authored the book) put an enormous amount of work into that project but that clearly didn’t scare them off; they are now coordinating the next edition, “The Age of Conversation: Why don’t people get it?”

Again, the book is created online, from start to finish. Again, all the proceeds go to charity. Again, the authors come from all corners of the world, but this time there are not 103, but 276, including me.

Some of the authors are people who have already gained a lot recognition for their work, some are lesser known online authors. The fact is, with that many different voices, it is bound to be worth the investment.

One area of improvement in this edition is that the book is now structured into topic-specific sections:

  • Manifestos – Declarations, up front, on the Age of  Conversation and why don’t people ‘get it’
  • Keeping Secrets in the Age of Conversation – With  everyone talking so much, why do we need secrets and what is the role of privacy?
  • Moving from Conversation to Action – The practical steps that businesses and brands can take  to move from conversation to something more valuable to their business
  • The Accidental Marketer – What is the attraction of marketing and are there company’s or brands that happen into marketing success?
  • A New Brand of Creative – With the changes in the way  that people communicate and collaborate online, marketing and advertising  companies are needing to reach out and work with a new type of creative team.  What do these “creatives” look like and what are the challenges that they face?
  • My Marketing Tragedy – covering projects that have failed and what was learnt from the failure?
  • Business Model Evolution – Just as the markets and  people are changing, so too are the business models around both clients and  agencies – this chapter will explore the implications of the new business model
  • Life in the Conversation Lane – Bringing it all back to  the individual and  how is life in a digitally connected, social world impacting us all?

Get to know the authors!

Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Beeker Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

04 Apr

Gordon Ramsay’s Marketing Nightmare

Gordon RamsayNot sure if you watch Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare, (or if it is broadcast in your part of the world) but I’m a little hooked.  There is plenty not to like about the show, in particular his tendency to humiliate people to get a point across. What there is to like is that every episode is a marketing and branding case study.

Every episode starts with an audit – he assesses the look of the place as he walks in and sits down, reviews the menu and has a meal in the place. He reviews the service and the management.

Nine times out of ten the mistakes are the same.

The quality of food is often poor; no care, no passion. There is no positioning; the menu is confused or bland. The service delivery is chaotic. But one thing stands out: they see the world through their own rather than their customers’ eyes. They live in a vacuum.

The next thing he does is walk the local streets. He checks out the competition, looking for a niche, chats to people in the street to find out what the restaurants’ brand reputation is. He talks to local suppliers and generally gets a feel for the specific environment he is in.

So he looks at the restaurant through the eyes of the customers.  Brand: “The company seen through the eyes of the customer”. Mostly, he comes back with an idea of how to position the restaurant; a signature dish or direction  for the menu that will uniquely position the restaurant. Because he knows his environment he positions away from competitors and ensures that the positioning is relevant to the target market: If he is on the coast it’s about fresh fish, if it is in the heart of the US it is about steak.

He does a local launch promotion with only one purpose; generate word of mouth. He doesn’t start promoting before the house is (more or less) in order though. Now I’ve never eaten in Gordon’s restaurant and although it makes great television, I don’t like his style. But he truly understands marketing and branding.