January 31, 2006
The fuzzy front end of innovation
Renee Hopkins Callahan and Gwen Ishmael have recently released a great white paper on the benefits of "staying in the box" instead of focusing on thinking "outside the box" during the fuzzy front end of innovation.
Way to go Kate!
Kate, over at My Name is Kate makes a good point in a recent post about new criticism surrounding the latest McDonald's blogging efforts.
In the grand scheme of things, the blogging community is often times too self-centered and not inclusive enough. This most recent wave of innovation - whether you call it social media, web 2.0 or whatever - will only lead to success if it appeals to mainstream audiences. If we make it too hard for people to join the community or to use the products that come out of it, we will end up as a fringe movement in the annals of innovation.
links for 2006-01-31
MALCOLM GLADWELL on profiling in the New Yorker
January 30, 2006
Strong brands are not the only key to success
"Building strong brands is the key to success, in our opinion, not better products or better people " said Laura Ries from Ries & Ries (the other Ries is Al Ries - who once wrote that "line extension has become the marketing sickness of the last decade. It seldom works." ) (via A Clear Eye - where Tom Asacker clearly disagrees with her).
She also states that: "Because in America marketing is not considered important. Management, human relations, customer service are all considered of higher importance that marketing."
Marketing may not be important in America, but to compare it as something distinct from customer service and human relations is so...well...20th century thinking and wrong. And it is equally wrong to say that brands are more important to a company's success than products and people!
Where is the customer in this whole equation? Take Harley Davidson as an example - they truly have "branded" customers as defined by the original meaning of branding. But who owns that brand? And how tightly is it integrated with the product, or with customer service people?
Thinking of marketing as another silo-ed organization is a key to failure, and those who still believe that brands can be controlled and created by marketing departments are in it for a rough ride and big disillusionment.
We are seriously overdue for a new breed of marketers to come to the foreground and eclipse this old school of marketing thinkers.
The ethical edge - a religious question?
Last night, MSNBC had a rerun of a program that originally aired last summer - called "the ethical edge." It honestly felt like being in the twilight zone when I realized that the panelists were a priest, a rabi and a professor specializing in tort reform.
Not only was a good portion of the show dedicated to workplace ethics - with none of those guys having ever worked in a mainstream workplace - but in general I wonder why MSNBC thought that a mainstream audience would find such a panel authoritative on the subject of ethics...
Carnival of Marketing roundup for week 10
While I do believe that this Carnival of Marketing is a great idea, I only got three submissions this week – so like others before me, I took the liberty of adding some editorial selections of my own.
First let’s go to reader submissions:
- Mike Sigers from Simplenomics pointed me to a post he wrote which I thought would summarize a speech by Hal Becker he attended on “success in customer service”. I guess he got so enthralled with the speech that the post turned into more of a fan pitch for Hal rather than an actual summary.
- Next up is Jack Yoest - who thinks that the world of politics could learn some lessons from the traditional marketing world - and writes a post predicting that the "new" Hillary will go the same way as the "new" coke did.
- Jim Logan has some suggestions on what to do if you realize too late that you just printed 5000 sales letters on a tiny budget - only to find a typo in it.
Now on to the editor's selection of marketing posts worth reading from this past week:
- As usual, Grant McCracken hits the nail on the head when he talks about the potential brand challenges that Apple will face by introducing Intel-based machines
- Shel Holtz contrasts two very different ways of apologizing in the blogosphere - one arguably better than the other.
- Tom Asacker rightfully disagrees with a blog post written by Laura Ries from Ries & Ries in which she says: "Building strong brands is the key to success, in our opinion, not better products or better people."
- David Wolfe has an interesting post on how an aging society is "right-minded" and what that means to marketing.
- Lastly - check out Dominic's post on return on innovation over at the Innovation Insider.
That's it for this week. Please send in your submissions - as this is a worthwhile effort!
January 29, 2006
links for 2006-01-29
Great post by Geoffrey Moore on why self-organizing systems always outdo intelligent design
January 27, 2006
Looking for more entries for this week's Carnival of Marketing
Send us your best entries by Sunday (for how this works, check here) and we will post the best of the best on Monday. Make sure to tell your all your marketing colleagues and friends.
January 26, 2006
Email and internet strengthen social bonds
According to new research released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project "The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions:" (pdf here - via Online Media Daily).
The report concludes that:
"Our evidence calls into question fears that social relationships — and community — are fading away in America. Instead of disappearing, people’s communities are transforming: The traditional human orientation to neighborhood- and village-based groups is moving towards communities that are oriented around geographically dispersed social networks. People communicate and maneuver in these networks rather than being bound up in one solidary community. Yet people’s networks continue to have substantial numbers of relatives and neighbors — the traditional bases of community — as well as friends and workmates."
And in another interesting conclusion they find that:
"Because individuals — rather than households — are separately connected, the internet and the cell phone have transformed communication from house-to-house to person-to-person. This creates a new basis for community that author Barry Wellman has called “networked individualism”: Rather than relying on a single community for social capital, individuals often must actively seek out a variety of appropriate people and resources for different situations."
It's also interesting to note "that people not only socialize online, but they also incorporate the internet into seeking information, exchanging advice, and making decisions."
People who use email to connect with they network on a weekly bases are also calling their contacts more often - so in effect the study found that email strengthens relationships, and is not just a "medium" shift for communication.
With 2,200 people interviewed and little bias towards different demographic profiles, this should settle the debate on what the Internet does to our relationships and social capital.
January 24, 2006
Should DTC drug ads be stopped?
Here is some food for thought from a site, stopsdrugads.org, that firmly believes the answer is YES. The following is a condensation of a portion of their message that deals with an aspect of drug marketing that is not too different from many tech product marketing programs : create a need or problem the customer didn't know they had, give it a unique identity, and then introduce a cure that fits the need perfectly. Which explains why such marketing efforts are frequently referred to as "snake oil marketing."
In the opinion of the people at stopdrugads.org, pharmaceutical companies and their advertising agencies strive to convince people that they are ill, and to invent new classes of illness. For example, in an article titled “The Art of Branding a Condition,” Vince Parry, a marketing executive, discusses how pharmaceutical companies are “fostering the creation of a condition and aligning it with a product.” An article in Reuters Business Insight explains that drug companies can “create new disease markets” through “the medicalization of many natural processes” which are “worthy of medical intervention.” This often involves, according to Vince Parry, “elevating the importance of an existing condition,” or “raising the level of awareness about something we don’t even know we have until we began looking at it further.”
For example, GlaxoSmithKline took the notion of shyness and turned it into “social anxiety disorder.” They hired a pr firm to help establish “social anxiety disorder” as a way of “cultivating the marketplace” even before the launch of their drug Paxil. The pr effort, which involved “aggressive media outreach,” generated “1.1 billion media impressions” in one year, and won an award from the Public Relations Society of America,. Later on, GlaxoSmithKline issued a pamphlet claiming that “Social anxiety disorder is a lot more common than you think…1 out of every 8 Americans suffers from social anxiety disorder. The good news is that it is treatable.” But after a review of the literature, prominent psychiatrists argue that fewer than 1 percent suffer from social phobia.
So where do I stand on this issue? I think the drug companies have stepped way over the line and need to be reined in. As a starting point I'd like to see a tough set of message guide lines that would put the brakes on blatant medicalization of natural processes.It takes unfair advantage of human fear about sickness, and drives people to take meds that are either unnecessary, or worse, potentially harmful.
Yahoo to use wisdom of crowds to challenge Google
According to Business Week Yahoo is betting on the wisdom of crowds in a bid to challenge search giant Google.
Summarizing Yahoo's recent acquisition binge, Ben Elgin says: "What's afoot? These deals are key building block in one of Yahoo's biggest bets. By cultivating online communities -- and encouraging people to tap into the collective knowledge of these groups -- Yahoo is hoping to change the way people find information online. Known in industry parlance as "social search," it presents a significant departure from Google's main approach, which relies on complicated mathematical models to help users find sites."
Knowledge management - still an illusion
The Wall Street Journal had an article yesterday on the continued struggle that companies face with trying to pass knowledge from one worker to another (requires subscription).
The conundrum is that while people learn best from other people - a system that relies on employee word of mouth for knowledge transfer does not scale. In such a system, people only learn from those people they know, and in many cases there is just not enough opportunity for this type of knowledge transfer to occur (i.e., field repair workers, work at home folks, etc.).
Technology to help with knowledge management has had spotty track record so far - with the Wall Street journal citing an Bain study which ranked knowledge management tools near the bottom in effectiveness amongst 25 management tools.
Apparently some companies have had success with a brute force approach - by forcing people to document what they know in a central database. They claim a virtuous cycle with people contributing voluntarily once there is a critical mass of content in those knowledge repositories.
Perhaps the quote from Hadley Reynolds with the Delphi Group captures the real issue - "We don't necessarily understand enough yet about optimizing the conditions for knowledge work, even though we've been doing it for 25 years. Most organizations are still managing as if we were in the industrial era."
January 23, 2006
Top brands in the world?
Every year brandchannel.com conducts a reader survey to determine the "top brands" worldwide. Their methodology is not exactly scientific, but the results are hard to dispute. This years rankings are based on the opinions of 2,500 people from 99 countries. Here is how this group ranked the top 10 worldwide brands:
Now take a look at the top brands this group selected for Latin America
These folks clearly know how to live. Forget tech, let's have a drink!
For additional brand preferences by region, check out brandchannel.com
Light bulb metaphor
This is so cool (via Fresh Glue)
Carnival of Marketing
Next week we will be hosting the Carnival of Marketing - started by Noah Kagan - and on Monday 01/29 we will be posting the coolest posts on marketing for the week.
Please email your submissions to symbiotic [at] emergencemarketing [dot] com before Sunday!
January 20, 2006
Word of mouth marketing is not hampered by disclosure
A new study by Northeastern University and released at WOMMA's latest conference found that disclosure does not hamper word of mouth marketing (here on AdAge).
In fact the study, which included 800 word of mouth agents and the people to whom they talked up brands, found that: "More than three-quarters of respondents called the affiliation a “non-issue.”", and that "Moreover, he concluded, the rate at which messages were passed along was 70% higher when that relationship was disclosed."
if this study holds up to scrutiny, this is a pretty interesting finding. So if people know that the word of mouth message is part of an organized campaign they are more likely to pass on the message.
January 19, 2006
Ten Trends to watch in 2006 according to McKinsey
McKinsey Quarterly's Ian Davis and Elizabeth Stephenson just released a web exclusive trend article with macroeconomic factors, environmental and social issues, and business and industry developments that will shape the corporate landscape in the coming years (may require subscription).
Apparently success is not always about execution - but more about being in the right markets and geographies with the right technology. So it's more about being in the flow rather of going upstream. The key of course is to find the right currents. And, according to the authors, to predict the right currents you need to look far out into the future instead of focusing on short term changes.
The three macroeconomic trends are:
- Centers of economic activity will shift profoundly, not just globally, but also regionally.
- With a rapidly aging population in the West, public-sector activities will balloon, making productivity gains essential.
- The consumer landscape will change and expand significantly - with 1B new consumers entering the marketplace
They also list 4 Social and environmental trends:
- Technological connectivity will transform the way people live and interact - some of that is already visible
- The battlefield for talent will shift - with a big shift towards knowledge-intensive industries
- The role and behavior of big business will come under increasingly sharp scrutiny - about time
- Demand for natural resources will grow, as will the strain on the environment - think about this (heard on NPR this weekend) 1/3 of the world copper inventory is in the ground, 1/3 in use and 1/3 in landfills
And then they list 3 business and industry trends:
- New global industry structures are emerging
- Management will go from art to science
- Ubiquitous access to information is changing the economics of knowledge
Perhaps the most significant trend is the one related to shortages in natural resources and the increasing strain on the environment. Sure people will behave differently because of technology and come up with new management structures, and the worker profile will change. And while it will be fun to be an active participant in these changes, in the grand scheme of things, those changes will be incremental.
When it comes down to the environment, however, incremental changes will not be enough to result in a sustainable world for the future. What we need is the end of a "human-centric-we-are-the-end-of-evolution-and-everything-in-this-world-is-ours" attitude in exchange for a more symbiotic "world-nature-human-technology" balanced worldview. And that will not happen incrementally - it will require radical new ways of world governance and fundamental changes in people's beliefs about their place and role in nature's evolution.
January 18, 2006
Teen's bold blogs alarm area schools
Haven't posted for a while, but this story in Tuesday's Washington Post lead to some serious Googling which uncovered a fascinating study by a grad student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that blew my mind. First the gist of the Post article. Schools in the D.C. area are waking up to the fact that lots of high schoolers are sharing incredibly intimate details about themselves in blogs, and on sites like MySpace and Facebook. For instance, " Sidwell Friends School in the District recently prohibited students from using their school e-mail addresses to register for access to Facebook, a widely used networking site for college and high school students. Before the holidays, Sidwell, Georgetown Day School in the District and the Madeira School in McLean wrote to parents to warn them about use of the site, and the Barrie School, in Silver Spring, recently asked a student to leave over the misuse of a blog."
So I decided to take a closer look at Facebook and see if it really is as sinister as this article made it out to be. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my approach to search is, well, "free-form" would be a polite way to describe it. Somehow I came across a paper by PhD candidate Fred Stutzman, with the intriguing title, "Student Life on the Facebook." You can read it on his blog. or bear with me for the abridged "executive summary."
Over the course of a semester, Stutzman analyzed the behavior of UNC students in social network communities. He was particularly interested in Facebook because in a previous study he found that 88% of freshman had active Facebook accounts. His current study was based on a sample of all undergrads in the class of 2009.
First mind blowing factoid from his study: On the first day of school, 3,193 freshman had a Facebook account. That was over 85% of the entire class, and many had already been using Facebook for many months. As it turns out, the months of June and July represent the greatest months of account creation. He found that in the two days following freshman orientation, there was a 200-500% increase in daily account creation.
Second factoid (not so mind blowing): Over the course of the semester Facebook accounts grew to encompass 94% of the freshman class.
Third factoid (this is truly amazing): While the number of freshman did not grow substantially over the course of the semester, the number of friendship connections expanded at a remarkable rate. As freshman made friends over the course of the semester, their social network size grew from 144,319 to 373,651!!!
The average number of Facebook friends a freshman had on day one was 46 and at the end of the semester it was 111.
Stutzman has lots of other insights into the behavior and interests of these students, including their political orientation and their favorite books, movies and music, ranked according to their political orientation. If you want to learn more, he can be contacted at email@example.com.
Tag advertising - a new and viable tagging application?
Tagging is a very interesting emerging phenomenon, one that engenders many different applications. Some people people use tags to alert others that they have written something (Technorati tags are often being used that way), others use them like a folder organizing system to organize their saved bookmarks (i.e., Yahoo/del.icio.us), many use it to share and find web pages (i.e, del.icio.us, furl), photos (i.e., flickr), music (lastfm), videos (i.e., YouTube), or even dates (i.e., consumating), and some bloggers use it to annotate web pages for blog republishing purposes (i.e., del.icio.us). As a publisher, we are also trying to use it to help readers navigate through vast amounts of posts (i.e., Corante Marketing Hub).
Surely there are a ton of potentially useful and lucrative new usages of tagging which I am missing or which have not yet been tried. But then I came across 1000tags.com - which tries to use tagging for people to advertise their site. In their own words they are "a project that aims to put to the test in its simplest form the viability of tagging as a way to advertise, by presenting a tag cloud formed by tags added by people who try to promote a particular site or page." The way they do it is by " offering a web page where anyone can book a particular tag that will later be displayed in the main tag cloud at the 1000tags.com page, as well as allowing web site owners to add their tag - for free of course - by syndicating a small tag cloud at their pages."
Maybe I am slow - and that surely has happened before - but somehow I do not get this one. Why would I list a tag cloud on my site that has nothing to do with my site? It does not help readers, and I am not sure how it would help me as a blogger (other than perhaps increased "google juice" "if" the tag I choose becomes really popular and "if" many other bloggers list the 1000tags.com tag cloud on their site). Plus there is only one tag cloud - which right now includes poker, sex, dating, ???, BBW - not exactly things that are related to this blog - but which might arguably be of interest to some readers :)
At any rate - just for posting your opinion about them you get a free tag. So I will submit a request for my free tag, and see what happens.
links for 2006-01-18
Vonage is the largest advertiser by media value
January 17, 2006
Top 10 things reasons why nobody reads your blog
Hugh MacLeod has a great post on the top 10 reasons why nobody reads your blog.
Some of them are very true - like #9 "there is nothing in it for them (the readers)", or #5 "you have nothing to say", or #8 "the very fact that you're whining about traffic makes people not want to read your blog"...(so true!) Others are very funny - like #4 "a secret cabal of A-Listers got together and decided that you should be excluded from the conversation".
January 13, 2006
Please vote for the "Best Idea Since Sliced Bread"
A good friend of mine just told me that her idea had been chosen as one of 21 finalists out of 22,000 submissions in the national "Best Idea Since Sliced Bread" contest – which challenged people to submit ideas on how to improve the US economy. After two rounds of Internet voting, the judges will pick the winner from the top three. Best idea wins $100,000 but what’s really fantastic is a panel of experts and policy makers will work to turn the winning idea into law.
It's not just because she is my friend, but also because I kind of like the idea that I wanted to alert you to this one and ask you to go vote for the idea if you like it as well. Her idea is called "ProdiMae Efficient Access to Capital" and involves a method where small business owners get similar level of straightforward and efficient access to capital that homeowners get to mortgages. You can cast your vote here.
Look away when you think - it helps.
The study was based on 5 year old children - who were asked to answer a range of verbal and arithmetic questions of varying difficulty. Half of them were told to look away when thinking, the other half were not. The children that were asked to look away were doing so more often that the ones that were not told so (52.5 per cent of the time on average vs. 34.7 per cent) and answered more questions correctly (72.5 per cent vs. 55.9 per cent).
We have so much to learn from children...
January 12, 2006
Are Chinese Buyers really that different?
"denizens of the Middle Kingdom are profoundly Confucian. They are motivated by a religious zeal to maintain order. One one hand, Chinese are passive, willing to conform to rigid, hierarchical convention. On the other, they are boldly resolute, intent on moving up the ladder of success. This master conflict between regimentation and ambition exists in the heart of the citizens and defines the bull's eye of consumer desire."
It's a pretty interesting report, with profiles of the middle class as well as of urban buyers, and with detailed descriptions of what makes Chinese women, men and teens "tick". The report is also full of "fun facts" - like the fact that they consume 21 liters of beer in China vs. 84 liters in the US, or that 90% of Chinese own cell phones vs. 54.6% in the US.
Apparently Chinese consumers like to buy expensive, foreign brands for the outside, and local, cheap brands for the inside.
Hmmm...I know people in the Western World that are not all that dissimilar in their buying behavior.
January 11, 2006
The end of Cyberspace?
Cyberspace and virtual worlds used to be very distinct from the physical world. You had to make an effort to access cyberspace, the rules were different, and the the economies were different.
Now however, you can access cyberspace from public parks, in airports, in your car while driving, or in the air while flying to your destination. And you don't need a dedicated computer to access cyberspace anymore, your DVR is connected, your cell phone, your watch, soon your fridge, your camera, even your clothes if you want to. The economies are getting pretty intertwined as well - with millions of dollars worth of virtual world artifacts being sold on eBay and other real world markets. Real world politics has spilled over to virtual worlds. Heck - you now even have real IPO's in virtual worlds, and it looks like the legal system is starting to cross virtual boundaries as well.
To the extend that computers have a "role" in virtual words - which they do - that seems like a pretty strong symbiotic relation between humans and machines - perhaps a stronger one than the one that exists between humans and nature.
According to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang from the Institute for the Future, it also means the end of cyberspace. As a matter of fact he thinks that the idea has gained enough popularity to support a standalone blog - called the end of cyberspace - which sounds like an interesting new voice to watch in the future.
links for 2006-01-11
Guy Kawasaki's blog post on the 9thruths of innovation
Great blog post on the biggest innovation lies - goes well with Guy Kawasaki's innovation thruths
January 10, 2006
The future of the global workspace
McKinsey Quarterly has a interesting interview with Jeffrey Joerres, the CEO of Manpower on the future of the global workforce (requires subscription).
With $15B in revenue and employing some 2M workers worldwide (72 countries), ManPower has an interesting perspective on a global workforce dominated by older and more expensive workers in Europe and North America, and rapid growth making it difficult to attract and retain enough qualified workers in China, India and much of the developing world.
Here are some of the more interesting highlights from the interview:
- In their top 10 global clients - 10-25% of the workers are "nonregular", flexible staff (US average according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics is 3%)
- The main reason for having nonregular workers is not cost saving, but an inability for companies to move fast enough by themselves
- The lifecycle of "hot jobs" has shortened dramatically - making the need for continuous retraining immensely important
- Most companies are still doing a poor job at retraining workers
- Older workers are more interested in part-time jobs than full-time temporary jobs (project based work) - which is a challenge as most companies need the latter
- He interchanges "employee engagement" with "employer branding" - which sounds so...industrial revolution-like...(my comment in italic)
Jeff Joerres further states that temporary work has increasingly become a strategic concern - and that companies can no longer afford to only pay attention to the top 10% of their organization. They need instead to focus on overall workforce optimization.
Of course, and after the 2001 downturn, companies and investors have grown accustomed to what he calls "leaned out" organizations, where companies stretched the limits of their workers and saw that they could do more with less. He thinks that companies will never go back to the old ways and just expect more from their workers.
But is this truly a sustainable situation? Or will there be a backlash at some point? Or will new forms of organizations emerge in the future?
Don't you think that organizational innovation could lead to new breakthrough's that would eclipse what is possible with a "more of the same company-branding workforce-optimization" type of strategy? I sure hope so.
links for 2006-01-10
Interesting scientific paper about the possible "panspermia" phenomenon
Movie clips of a speech given by Michael Crichton on Complexity at a Smitsonian event
January 6, 2006
links for 2006-01-06
Smithsonian Magazine article on the wrong usage of animal metaphors in corporate life - very funny
January 5, 2006
Barbie part of transgender movement??
According to a recent ABC News report, some other extremist religious group now thinks that Barbie is being influenced by the "transgender movement", and that this "bisexuality gender confusion is very dangerous" (via Agenda Inc.)
Now give me a break - as of Christmas when I last saw Barbie's in toy stores, there was no confusion to me.
What I really wonder is how people can give money to organizations that then spend it on chasing transgender doll manufacturers (Mattel), gay loving car manufacturers (Ford) and holiday embracing retailers (Target). Aren't those donors expecting other things from their charities, like maybe helping those in need? I wonder how the accountability works in those organizations?
links for 2006-01-05
Cool article on learning theory
Cool review of this sexist ad by Jaguar
How to build PowerPoint prezos according to Guy Kawasaki
New record price for a 30 second ad spot on network television - intriguing
January 4, 2006
Building emergent business models
As I am working through my (huge) pile of books to read I hit another good one last night. It is "The birth of the Chaordic Age" by Dee Hock. Not exactly a new one, but I never claimed this site to be a news site or a recent book review site...
As many of you know, Dee Hock was the founder of VISA - one of the largest companies in the world. The interesting part about VISA is that it is one of the few large-scale commercial entities where the organizational infrastructure is not based on a command and control hierarchy, but rather on a true emergent self-organizing infrastructure. When Hock realized that none of the traditional company models could handle such a massively complex and distributed business model he focused instead on building a DNA for the new company, based on purpose and principles, rather than building a command and control infrastructure with all of its associated rules and regulations. The results - a huge company that emerged from chaos in less than 2 decades to become one of the most successful self-organizing companies in the world.
It is interesting to see what questions drove him throughout his career and ultimately led to the creation of VISA:
- Why are institutions everywhere, whether political, commercial, or social, increasingly unable to manage their affairs?
- Why are individuals, everywhere, increasingly in conflict with and alienated from the institutions of which they are part?
- Why are society and the biosphere increasingly in disarray?
It's also interesting to read him say that: "...the need to harbor the Four Beasts that inevitably devour their keeper, Ego, Envy, Avarice and Ambition, and of a great bargain, trading Ego for humility, Envy for equanimity, Avarice for time, and Ambition for liberty..."
Maybe that is the way to ensure that marketing is not just another department (or worse - a set of departments) in a company - but rather a way of doing business, a way to behave in the marketplace. Instead of creating organizational structures with hierarchies, goals, rules and regulations we could focus instead on developing marketing DNA that can spread throughout the whole organization and become part of the company's fabric. On a certain level, Ritz was able to do that with their "every employee can spend up to $2,000 to fix any customer problem" principle. That's not a rule which gets enforced, and it's not a goal that gets measured (other than maybe to track potential abuse) - it's really a "behavioral" DNA strand that gets injected throughout the company. We could expand on that and come up with "listening" DNA strands, "innovation" DNA strands, or "branding" DNA strands.
Heck - why stop with marketing? Why not "financial" DNA strands, or a "governance" DNA strands?
January 3, 2006
Quantifiable marketing measurements can be a double edged sword
I think that everyone will agree that marketing is most effective when it is fully connected and integrated with every aspect of a company’s behavior in the marketplace. For example – marketing cannot succeed if it is disconnected from customer service, nor can it achieve its goals if it is disconnected from sales, or from product development, etc.
So, not only do we need to break down the silos that exist within marketing departments – but if we really want to ensure success – we also need to break down those silos that exist between marketing and the rest of the company’s operations.
While counter-intuitive at first, the increasing trend for companies to hold marketing departments accountable for ROI’s and other quantitative program measurements can potentially have very negative effects – not only on marketing integration, but on its overall potential for success.
When people are made accountable for programs that can be measured, two things tend happen. First they will dump or under-fund projects that cannot easily be measured – the “soft stuff”. Second, and based on our predominantly western “atomic” worldview – causing us to always want to break down processes into their tiniest core elements – most people will split up marketing into the smallest subsets that can still be measured and goaled – thus creating worse silos than we used to have in the first place.
The problem with dumping or under-funding the soft stuff is twofold. First off, some of those activities are actually real high value activities or even “must have” activities, even though they are hard to measure. Think of reaching the influentials, or the connectors in your markets, and other thought leadership programs. If you do it right they will not only form a social network system that will serve as an amplifier for any good message in your marketplace, they will also serve as a dampening system for negative messages that invariably will emerge from time to time. That is invaluable – yet most companies will only pay lip service to thought leadership – as it cannot be measured. The second problem with under-funding the soft stuff is that you risk killing off all innovations and the much needed continuous learning that you should be expecting from your marketing department.
The second side effect of relying too hard on quantifiable measurements in marketing – that of increasing silos – is easily proven by looking at some recently announced marketing conference programs. Take for example the upcoming conference on marketing from the IIR – it has 7 tracks! And if you’ve been in the trenches, you have probably experienced the silo madness firsthand.
So all in all – and while there is no question in my mind that marketing should be held accountable with quantifiable goals – I also think that companies that rely too much on quantitative measurements for their marketing programs – and especially those that are too granular in their measurement – are potentially doing themselves a disservice.
Marketing has to include the “soft stuff” and it cannot be siloed. It needs to be fully integrated with all market-related business processes!