December 23, 2005
Gone skiing - Happy Holidays!!!!
Happy Holidays to all of you!
I may or may not post some stuff next week...but will be back after the New Year for sure!
December 21, 2005
Another win for "the voice of reason"...
Nature Magazine reports - Evolution wins in Pennsylvania trial (ok, that was yesterday - I never claimed this was a news site!)...
I especially like the fact that the judge not only dismissed the case - but that he called the efforts to promote Intelligent Design "breathtaking inanity" and that he "went on to state that intelligent design was clearly religious and indubitably not science." (from the Science article) He also concluded that the religious nature of ID would be readily apparent to a child!
Now let's see what pat robertson has to say about this one...(remember when the voters tossed out the school board that approved this nonsense in the first place he said "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin..." - I still cannot believe that one...)
All that being said - I wish someone would publish a research paper analyzing how this pile of nonsense ever made it to the forefront of public debate so quickly. In my opinion this is another great example of how marketers might have a few things to learn from the world of politics.
December 20, 2005
Ads talk back...
The bubble project is a pretty interesting one. People put empty bubbles on public display advertising - which encourages others to fill them out - click here for the bubble project manifesto. The filled out bubbles are then photographed and displayed on the bubble project's web site. Next year there are also plans to have them published in a book.
I am not sure that I would call this an open dialog with the advertisers, but it does make for some interesting results.
(via Church of the customer)
December 19, 2005
What companies do with your personal data should be your business!
Today I received a letter from ABN AMRO Mortgage Group Inc. saying:
"We are writing you to let you know that a computer tape containing information about you and your mortgage account with ABN AMRO has been lost while being transported by DHL courier service to a credit reporting company."
They did offer me 90 days of free credit service monitoring with Truecredit, a TransUnion service - but that web site seems to be down.
To me, this is truly worrisome. I wish the government would implement stricter rules on privacy and on who controls what happens to our personal data. By signing a mortgage with ABN AMRO or any other provider, I should not automatically sign away my rights to what happens to my personal information. Why is it that ABN can chose to ship my personal information on a tape via DHL to a third party? If indeed the sharing is needed to enable the commerce to function, why are they not forced to use dedicated money transport vehicles and services - which they use to transport their own stuff? But more importantly - why cannot I have a say in this?
Advertising that will not be shown in America
Trust is eroding everywhere...
So it's not just in the US that we have eroding trust in all our institutions - big business, courts, government, etc. According to a newly released study by the World Economic Forum the problem is worldwide - except for Russia (via: Marketing Technology). Some of the main findings from the study include:
- Public trust levels in national governments, the United Nations and global companies are now at their lowest since tracking began in January 2001
- Since 2004, trust in government has declined by statistically significant margins in 12 of the 16 countries for which tracking is available. The Russian government is the only exception, enjoying continuously increasing trust from its citizens since 2001
- The United Nations, while continuing to receive higher trust levels than other institutions, has experienced a significant decline in trust from 2004 levels in 12 of 17 tracking countries, suggesting an impact from the scandal over the Oil for Food Program
- Public trust in companies has also eroded over the last two years. After recovering trust in 2004 to pre-Enron levels, trust has since declined for both large national companies and for global companies. Trust in global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began
- NGOs remain the leaders in trust, but they also have to contend with decline. In 10 of 17 countries for which data is available, trust in NGOs has fallen since 2004, in some cases sharply (e.g., Brazil, India and South Korea)
The study goes on to says - when it comes to trusting one's government:
"Trust in government has fallen the most in Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Spain, followed closely by Argentina and the United States. The case of Nigeria is also noteworthy, where trust in the national government fell by thirteen points while trust in all other institutions rose. Even in countries such as Great Britain and India, where trust remains positive, it has suffered its biggest fall since tracking began in 2001. Only in Italy, Indonesia and France has trust in the national government held steady, although polling was completed prior to the recent riots across France."
December 16, 2005
Word of mouth marketing - potential pitfalls
The Onion had a great spoof on paid-for word of mouth marketing that highlights some of the pitfalls of the practice.
And of course, the ever vigilant word of mouth marketing association has a response to the issues surrounding stealth word-of-mouth campaigns raised in the spoof.
December 15, 2005
Marketing to people that are skeptical of advertising, media savvy and have ADD...
Now there is an opening sentence that got my attention. I found it in a recent Knowledge at Wharton newsletter - which actually started as follows:
"How do you market to an audience that is skeptical of traditional advertising, very media savvy, and possessed of short attention spans? And how do you turn a product that is highly dependent on seasonal sales into a product of choice year-round?"
That summarizes the fundamental problem which most marketers are facing today - and except for the seasonal part - that is true for both B2C and B2B companies (and to a certain extend for C2C commerce as well - i.e., eBay, Craig's list, etc.).
While the article focuses primarily on teens, the lessons learned are true for any segment:
- speak their language (don't have 20 year olds write ad copy for aging boomers - even if you have pictures of older people)
- identify their latest trends
- find the optimal ways to target them
Some of the conclusions are a bit more puzzling to me - like:
"Teens are an enormously important segment because they are disproportionately powerful in terms of being trend setters and early adopters"
...huh...I thought the percentage of early adopters was the same - regardless of age group. Maybe I need to go back and revisit my copy of Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers...
They also talk about real life experiences and best practices from a set of panelists who participated in one of their recent conferences, some of which are quite interesting - like this one from Doritos (Frito Lays):
"When an advertisement that featured male teens looking up girls' skirts proved offensive, it was pulled the first day. "We really thought this was the way to talk to 19-year-old boys, but the problem was that we focused on 4% of the population and basically offended" the other 96%, she said (the product manager at Frito Lay that is)"
...aha...so 4% of teenage boys actually like looking up girls' skirts - fascinating, don't you think?
The article closes with a quote from the CEO at Hershey: "realize that neither brands nor leaders are industry neutral. Brands either create energy with consumers or they sap energy; leaders do likewise."
I buy the leader piece of that statement - but have you ever seen a brand that saps energy?
December 14, 2005
Ford reverses it's decision...and will continue to advertise in gay magazines!
Ok...so maybe I will not feel so bad about driving a Ford after all - as they got the message - and reversed their decision not to cave in to religious extremists who wanted them not to advertise in Gay Magazines...
Religious boycotts (and many others) do not have real economic impact...they're just noise!
Ford - great move!
Should you care about influentials?
Piaras Kelly argues that Dell should not care about Jeff Jarvis on his blog today. And he goes on to say that what's really important is not what a few key influentials are saying but what the masses are saying.
Having thought about this topic and having written about quite a bit (here and here), I agree with Piaras - but the lesson learned from the Dell saga is that by not responding they let this whole issue fester beyond control and to the point where people who had been happy with them in the past - like Shel Israel, or myself - to no longer buy Dells and switch brands. Plus, if a newbie is searching for reviews on Dell, I am sure that the results are full of negative publicity.
I think that they could have avoided much of that by being better listeners and by being more responsive.
Strong statements about marketing by Larry Weber
(cross-posted on the Corante Marketing Hub)
- If your sites don't have a social interface, you're going to lose the leadership position in what you do.
- Whenever a business category gets messed up, we get a C title. Now marketing is so messed up, we've got CMOs.
I am not sure about the cause and effect, but based on many discussions with marketers and people who consult with marketers we've had - marketing is truly in "death valley" at this point - somewhere between the old models and the new emerging models.
December 12, 2005
More on why people do not care about your business - but how they care about themselves in your presence!
Tom Asacker wrote and published a visual illumination (85 page pdf) on how to connect your brands to your customers' lives. He starts his posts today with the following words of wisdom, which should give you an indication of what to expect:
"It doesn't matter what people think about you or your business. What matters is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions while in your presence."
I also love it when he says "branding is a journey - not a destination"!
Tom - thanks for a great presentation![Technorati Tags: marketing branding brands buying behavior]
BlogBridge reader came out with some cool new features
BlogBridge (an open source project that I have been involved with) came out with some cool new features - the most important one for me being the "reading lists".
As you may have noticed, many sites have started putting out OPML reading lists that contain various RSS feeds. Take for example the Corante Marketing Hub (if you did not know this - I am a partner at Corante). As one of the subscribe options we put out an OPML reading list that enables readers to subscribe to all the RSS feeds that make up the hub. The only thing I have to do with Blogbridge to subscribe to those is to set up a guide with that reading list. Another nice feature is that I can instruct BlogBridge to automatically update the list if Corante changes it's reading list. So let's say that Corante adds another blogger to their marketing hub, I will automatically be subscribed to that one as well.
John Tropea over at Library Clips has a great review of the new feature set as well.
If you have not tried out BlogBridge, and you are an RSS junkie like me (now subscribing to over 500 feeds), you should try it out soon! I know I am involved and so probably biased - but it is an open source project and I don't make money saying this! I would have never been able to stay up with the amount of information that I subscribe to without it, and I probably would have never found some of the interesting pieces of content and fascinating bloggers that I found with it.
December 10, 2005
A must read...
I have always been a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, one of the grandmasters of American letters, and I too am glad that he broke his promise and wrote one more book - A Man Without A Country (that's how I feel sometimes - as do many expats).
I know I would not do it justice if I were to try to summarize/review what is in this collection of mini-memoirs - but I wanted to quote a few passages to give you a taste of what to expect:
"But I am now eighty-two. Thanks a lot, you dirty rats. The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon."
Or when he writes:
" I apologize to all of you who are the same age as my grandchildren...They like you, are being royally shafted and lied to by our Baby Boomer corporations and government."
"Albert Einstein and Mark Twain gave up on the human race at the end of their lives...Like my distinct betters Einstein and Twain, I now give up on people too..."
Not all is dark in this most recent book - every now and again you can still see signs of the all too typical Vonnegut humor.
[Technorati Tags: kurt vonnegut]
December 9, 2005
Big business - people don't trust you!
The NYT today reports on recent polls and surveys from Roper, Harris, and the Pew Research Center to find that nobody here (US) trusts any of their institutions anymore - not their companies , not their government, not their courts, not their media, and not their unions.
Check out the numbers in the chart - it's somewhat frightening.
Animosity toward big company executives is especially rampant - with 72% of those being polled in Roper poll feeling that "wrongdoing was widespread in industry" - up from 66% last year.
One of the many reasons listed in the article is "Technology has given the angry voices a more public outlet. The blogosphere is rife with postings castigating Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and other big companies, citing everything from unfair labor practices to dangerous smokestack emissions." - hmmm, isn't that mixing up cause and effect?
Wouldn't it have more to do with the fact that people increasingly feel lied to - both by the companies they buy from and by the government they "elected"? And that excesses in both corporate and government behavior are slowly eroding the middle class - which not only made this country so powerful - but which leads to an unhealthy polarization of everything?
People don't care about your product!
That's right - did you get that? Let me say it one more time - your customers could care less about your "product" or your company- they only care about themselves!
Unfortunately there are very few marketers that get that. They worry about the relationship between their customers and their company or their products. And they focus on just that - not realizing that what really counts is how customers feel about themselves when purchasing or using your product or frequenting your company's premise.
Tom Asacker gets it (if you have not read his book - do so soon) - and in a great post today brings up a few new examples to make his point - a woman not switching from Starbucks because she fears she would be missed, and of course the classic one, Harley Davidson selling esteem and not motorcycles. I mean, how many brands do you know that people are willing to permanently "brand" (i.e., tattoo) on their body without being forced or paid to do so? They don't do that because they feel good about the product or the company - they do it because they feel good about themselves when using the product.
And that's not just true for consumer goods - but also for B2B products!
I like the way the Italians think...
Just heard on the BBC - the Italians are considering taxing porn by 20% and channel that money to families who need help with babysitting...
December 8, 2005
[rant] Ford caves in to religious right - and I thought marketing boycotts did not work!
I just heard this on NPR, and now read it on CMO Magazine's blog:
"Ford has announced that its Jaguar and Land Rover brands will no longer advertise in gay publications, by which they meant The Advocate and Out and Curve but which I always think means GQ or Men’s Health. This announcement came not long after the company had a sit down with members of the American Family Association (Motto: “America’s Foremost Right Wing Busybodies) which had called and then suspended a boycott of the car maker because of such ads and charitable works that it deemed a threat to heterosexuality."
(also here in Washington Post)
Well - I sure hope for Ford that all those religious nuts will be buying Fords, because with two of them in my driveway, I will never buy one again!
Isn't there enough evidence that boycotts rarely have a real economic impact?
Update - 12/08 [newrant] I will be doing a lot of my Christmas shopping at Target this year. Not because I am a regular customer - in fact I rarely set foot in the store - but because they are one of the only chains that did not cave in to another boycott to restore Christmas by those same religious extremists that pushed Ford to stop advertising in Gay mags - they actually want stores to use "merry christmas" in their advertising - ironic, if you ask me! (here for business week article, here, and here for int'l perspective) [/newrant]
links for 2005-12-08
Interesting article on illusions and a specific test on optical illusion
Tom Peters & Warren Bennis on Leadership
December 7, 2005
Interesting advertising technique...
This week I was talking with a friend of mine, who had just arrived in San Francisco and who was walking downtown when he interrupted our phone conversation to tell me how he had just seen a car running by with a Starbucks cup on the roof - and how he could not believe how that that thing was staying up there.
Whatever it takes to get people's attention...
December 6, 2005
The problems of managing people in teams
In it's latest issue, Fortune Magazine has an article where they review Brooks' 30 year old law:
"Adding people to a late software project makes it later."
And how that law really applies to all industries.
In the interview, and when talking about why the law applies across industries, Frank Brooks goes on to say:
"Brooks' law depends heavily on the amount of information that has to be communicated. So the argument is that if you add people to a project that you already know is late, which means you're at least in the middle of the project, you have to repartition the work. That's a job in itself: Just deciding who is going to do what means that instead of having the thing divided into the units you had it divided into, you have to divide it into more units. Sometimes that can be done by subdividing the existing units, but sometimes you have to move boundaries. That's a lot of work. The next thing is, you have to train the new people. Who can train them? Only the old people. So they quit working and go to training. And the new people are green and have to get up to speed. So there's a period where they're unproductive, and there's a period when they are less productive. And there's a period when they inject errors into the process. Then there are just more people to communicate to."
That is why if you can get some sort of collaborative tool adopted, you should push for it. If the whole project's history is in one place, and accessible by new team members, you will cut down dramatically on getting that person up to speed and also on using other team member's time to make that happen.
5 tips for managing creativity from Disney...
The Wall Street Journal yesterday had an article (requires subscription) on Disney's new CEO, Robert Iger. In a sidebar, they list his 5 tips for managing creativity:
- Don't take a hierarchical approach
- Don't create an approval process that's unduly rigorous
- Be careful not to water down or lose people's passion
- Let those directly in charge make decisions
- Put the spotlight on the company, not the individual
I am sure they meant innovation rather creativity...but one way or the other - great advice!
Going public in virtual world...
Mark Wallace talks about an interesting emergent economic behavior on the Massively Multiplayer Online Game EVE (via Terra Nova) - where an entity went public and raised $8,100 on eBay. Mark does a great job at explaining what the environmental conditions were to make that happen.
December 5, 2005
Firms of edearment returns surpass "good to great" companies
Firms of endearment challenge Milton Friedman's premise that companies only have one social responsibility - maximizing shareholder return. Firms of endearment do not favor any particular stakeholder, but rather treat all 5 stakeholders on the same footing - employees, customers, suppliers, society and shareholders. David believes that firms of endearment are forerunners of a new business model - one that could very well change capitalism at its core.
And how are the firms of endearment doing compared to the S&P 500 or good-to-great companies? Check for yourself...
links for 2005-12-05
web 2.0 sources of error
December 4, 2005
Are you buzzword compliant?
Creating passionate users has a great post on web 2.0 related buzzwords...and as usual, mixed in with some great illustrations.
Kathy Sierra's (the author of the post) recommendation? Rewrite the buzzwords into content that keeps it focused on what it means to the user...
December 3, 2005
links for 2005-12-03
Funny cartoon on project management
December 2, 2005
Self-organizing teams at Merill Lynch!
Following up on yesterday's posts on the worker of the future and the comment that Graham Hill left there on whether we may finally be witnessing the end of hierarchies, I ran across this article at PSFK (via Johniie Moore) - talking about financial advisors at Merill Lynch who are being asked to self-organize themselves into team of 2-4 people to better handle customer service - which is of course a very tacit interaction-based job.
If they can do it, then others should not be too far away...
links for 2005-12-02
Contributor announcing the Corante Hubs
December 1, 2005
Are we moving towards an era of IT artisanry?
Steve Duncan over at "A Visit To Lornitropia" talks about the ease of use of setting up your own IT infrastructure and ponders whether renegade IT is the wave of the future...
I do happen to agree that there is somewhat of a trend here. Increasingly, and especially in smaller startups, but also in bigger companies, I have noticed employees using their own laptops, their own PDA's/cell and other tools. From there to have individuals buy or rent their own applications is not too far off. In fact, we already saw some of that happen when I was with eRoom (a collaboration applications vendor). While our solution was not quite bought by individuals, but by teams of people, by the time the CIO's office of one of the major 5 consulting/accounting firms (that's how many there were then, ok!) decided to standardize on eRoom, they already had 8,000 users that had bypassed IT.
Maybe it is a trend back towards artisanry - knowledge workers (or tacit workers as McKinsey calls them) coming to work with their own tools!
The shifting workforce and its new opportunities
The latest issue of McKinsey Quarterly has an article on the "The next revolution in interactions" (here - requires subscription). In it they describe the changing nature of the worker and explore what it will take to improve productivity in the future - both from an organizational point of view as well as from a technology deployment standpoint.
They separate the workforce into three categories:
- transformational workers (miners, farmers, manufacturing workers) - who either extract raw materials or transform them. They made up a majority of the workers at the turn of the last century. By the turn of the 21st century they only made up 15% of the workforce in the US
- transactional workers - those are the people whose jobs involve routine transactional interactions. They include not just clerical and accounting jobs, but also IT specialists, auditors, biochemists, etc. Their jobs are very much rules-based and in many cases have been automated or outsourced. At the turn of century they still made up about 44% of the workforce.
- tacit workers - those are workers whose jobs involve complex interactions - those involving ambiguity and requiring high levels of judgment. They are not rules-based and cannot easily be automated or outsourced. At the turn of the century they made up 41% of the jobs, but had been growing 2.5 times faster than the transactional jobs and 3 times faster than employment in in the entire national economy.
So put another way, 70% of all the jobs created between 1998 and 2004 were tacit jobs that require judgment and experience! And their pay is 55-75% higher than that of transactional and transformational workers. And as mentioned before, the main reason the balance has been tipping is that all other jobs can easily be automated or outsourced.
Of course, those companies that can make this tacit workforce more productive will gain a key competitive advantage - one, which according to the article, will potentially be long term one, as the solutions to make this happen will be difficult to duplicate and best practices will be hard to transfer from one company to the next.
The article continues by saying that the first change that companies need to do to increase tacit worker productivity is to rethink their organizational structures:>
"There is no road map to show them how to do so. Over time, innovations and experiments to raise the productivity of tacit employees (for instance, by helping them collaborate more effectively inside and outside their companies) and innovations involving loosely coupled teams will suggest new organizational structures."
Does that finally mean the end of hierarchical pyramids and the emergence of new models of governance and management? I sure hope so...
Technology is the other place where companies will have to look to improve productivity of the tacit worker. Here again, the authors of the article rightfully warn that:
"First, the way companies deploy technology to improve the performance of the tacit workforce is very different from the way they have used it to streamline transactions or improve manufacturing. Machines can't recognize uncodified patterns, solve novel problems, or sense emotional responses and react appropriately; that is, they can't substitute for tacit labor as they did for transactional labor. Instead machines will have to make tacit employees better at their jobs by complementing and extending their tacit capabilities and activities."
They identify three areas where technology can be deployed - those technologies that eliminate or reduce the low value transactional interactions which the tacit workers perform, those technologies that help them make better decisions, and those technologies that will extend the reach of their tacit interactions, both inside and outside the company (loosely coupled collaborative tools).
Very interesting times we live in... And to me, it's fascinating to see how all this loss of jobs to automation and outsourcing is actually resulting in new jobs that pay 55-75% more and in new long term corporate competitive advantages that have not been seen in decades!
If only the government could realize the importance of schooling and education in this country, I would feel good about the future.
links for 2005-12-01
Funny story about Skype usage on airplanes