August 31, 2006
links for 2006-08-31
Ugly web sites do work
Interesting article on how robots create wire ready stories based on financial data
August 30, 2006
Another interesting use of YouTube - whistleblowing
Here is a whistle-blower describing serious safety and security problems with coast guard ships...
It really sucks...
Funny advertising clip using a suicide scene to advertise powerful sucking power :)
Adoption is always slower than you think...
According to a recent report from emarketer reported in Dead 2.0, only 2% of US employees subscribe to RSS feeds. 88% do not even know what it means! Other stats show that only 13% have a good idea of what podcasting is. You can actually see the bell curve of adoption at work, with 12% of people still not knowing what spam is (via Business 2.0).
The RSS numbers also jibe with the numbers mentioned by Martin Nisenholtz from the New York Times in another Business 2.0 article (not online yet). RSS feeds at the NYT only generate 12.2 million pageviews out of a US total of 295 million.
August 29, 2006
What happens when you "manipulate" buzz
Pete Blackshaw over at CGM picks up on a post by the Freakonomics guys in which they argue that the fact that there was such a discrepancy between the pre-release Internet buzz for the movie "Snakes on a Plane," and the actual success of the movie at the box office, may be attributed to "manufactured buzz."
One conclusion which Steven Levitt at Freakonomics comes to when answering the question "what does or does not make Internet buzz translate into commercial success" is "One reasonable answer to that question may be that when the buzz is faked/manufactured, commercial success will not follow."
Whether intentional or not, "manufactured buzz," along with other viral "gaming-the-system" marketing strategies are just another threat to the future credibility of word of mouth marketing - another one being the lack of disclosure policy which some companies refuse to endorse.
August 28, 2006
CMO tenure keeps going down...
According to Spencer Stuart (via Brand Republic), the average CMO tenure keeps going down. A painful side effect is that marketing agencies have to defend their business sooner as well.
The changes are not that dramatic - with the new average tenure for CMO's being 23.2 months in 2006, down from 23.5 months in 2005 and 23.6 months in 2004.
The whole shortening in tenure is likely due to a combination of things: the fundamentals of marketing going through a dramatic shift - leaving many CMO's who are not permanent students of the industry in the dust - and the accountability of the CMO on the executive team being miss-aligned with what their real role should be.
Why wisdom of crowds does not always work
The most current issue of the Harvard Business Review has an interesting article in which they marry the wisdom of crowds "theory" with the Condorcet jury theorem - which was developed by a Frenchman in 1785 (requires subscription).
To understand how the theorem works, imagine that a number of people are answering the same question and that there are two possible answers - one correct and one incorrect. Assuming that the chances that an individual will answer correctly is more than 50%, the theorem proves that the probability that a majority of the group will answer correctly increases towards 100% as the group size increases.
That explains why the wisdom of crowds works well for consumer product testing, or to predict well documented political races. It also explains why it failed in other areas, like predicting whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. With little information available, individuals had a higher likelihood of picking the wrong answer, making the chance that a majority would predict correctly close to 0% as the size of the group increased.
links for 2006-08-28
Blog post on marketing's identity crisis
August 27, 2006
Check out what you can do with 101 bottles of diet coke and 500+ mentos
This is a really cool video with two guys putting on a fantastic show with only Mentos and Diet Coke.
August 25, 2006
links for 2006-08-25
funny article on the negative effects of laptops in bed...
cheap virtual computing at Amazon - a dream CMGI CEO David Wetherell talked about 6 years ago
August 23, 2006
T-Mobile is the next worst practice
When I saw the efforts of this T-Mobile user on the Church of the Customer blog I could so relate to it... I am a big T-Mobile user and when I thought about upgrading my BlackBerry the last time around they told me that it came with a $150 mail-in rebate - which swayed me into signing up with them again for a year and get the latest gadget.
Well months later (I still cannot figure out why they cannot speed up the rebate process) I get a notice saying that my phone did not qualify for that rebate...and that I am welcome to call them to discuss that issue.
Seriously now, who has the time to do this...and while spending $175/mo with them for a few years, wouldn't you think that they should call me to discuss this miss-understanding?
Oh well, only a few months left and then....goodbye T-Mobile!
links for 2006-08-23
I had no idea that Alexa was this innacurate...
August 22, 2006
links for 2006-08-22
Requesting the process for becoming an illegal alien
August 21, 2006
BlogBridge Library - a cool way to manage libaries of important content
As part of a potential client project, I finally got a chance to take a real close look at the BlogBridge Library (disclosure - I am an advisor to this open source project).
It is a very cool and powerful application, which enables you to create and manage a central library of feeds, blogs, reading lists, podcasts and more. Different sub-sections of the library can be managed by different people, and with full opml support, it is really easy for you to share the library or parts of the library with other people in your team or company.
The BlogBridge Library can be installed behind your firewall and while it will work with any RSS reader, there are additional features within BlogBridge (my favorite) that will enable you to manage your library straight from within the reader instead of having to go through the web UI.
One obvious application is for Marketing teams and their PR agencies to coordinate rapidly changing lists of social media movers and shakers in their space.
links for 2006-08-21
Web 2.0 automatic BS generator
great list of things to help diagnose entrepreneuritis
August 19, 2006
Prevent further "participation gap" between have's and have not's
DOPA, or the "Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006", would limit access from public places to all sorts of social networking and social media sites by minors, including libraries and schools. If you have not heard of DOPA - check out this excellent article about this horrible piece of legislation at the MIT Technology Review.
Once you've read it, you will probably want to sign this petition to stop those morons from continuing to screw with this new digital medium which many legislators do not understand and most likely fear.
August 18, 2006
Is there no arbitrage in online retail?
Since I bought the camera a few years back Canon came out with new models that seem to deal with the issues I was having with my early digital SLR - especially those related to focus and sharpness. Switching brands isn't really an option, as I have generally been happy with my EOS cameras and assembled 4 different lenses for it so far.
Instead of fixing my existing camera (which one day started to develop a dark band on the bottom of my pictures - indicating some sort of miss-alignment of the mirror system as far as I can tell) - I decided to look at the alternative of buying the new 30D.
My surprise came when I started looking for the best price for the 30D. If you look around you can see prices as low as $639 for the body without shipping charges. When you look at 3rd party sellers on Amazon.com or if you check eBay, prices do not seem to go below $1,000 for a new Canon 30D body.
Is there no arbitrage in online retail? Or am I missing something? Could someone actually make $500 per camera by buying and reselling online?
It is not a business I want to get in, but unless I am missing something (which I often do), then the theory that online retail, with all of its online-transaction "data exhaust," would "even out" the power balance between buyers and sellers does not hold true...
What is it that I am overlooking??
links for 2006-08-18
Open source collaboration/project management program
August 17, 2006
Another bad interrupt marketing example...
AdAge reports that some marketing dinosaur has found another 100 square feet of "wasted" ad space in supermarkets - the conveyor belts at the check-out lines! Worse - he is holding a patent on the damn interrupt marketing technique and besides selling ad space, he is also offering advertisers a "chance" to shut out competitors for the modest price of $182,800 for 55 stores!
Hey - why stop there? Why not advertise on the check-out clerk's forehead? Or at the very least on their clothes.
Like Adrants says - soon we'll have grocery baggers and check-out clerks flooding our hospitals for dizziness and our mental institutions for insanity! And what about the consumers?
Isn't interrupt marketing dead? Maybe it's time to start a wiki with the worst interrupt marketers around.
77% of online shoppers read consumer reviews...
According to a new studies released by Jupiter Research, "77 percent of online shoppers use consumer generated product reviews/ratings and those who find them useful are more loyal to stores with reviews/ratings featured." Other research reveals that "consumers who post feedback on forums, positive or negative, spend 22 percent more online than do consumers who have not posted on forums." And somewhat surprisingly, "90 percent of large companies believe that consumer recommendations are important in influencing other consumers' purchase decisions."
The issue for many companies is how to consistently track consumer generated reviews and incorporate that voice of the customer component into their product innovation processes. There are literally hundreds of sites where people leave their feedback. Amazon provides product-specific searchable consumer generated reviews, but many other popular online stores, like NewEgg do not enable that level of searchability.
(Via Customer Listening Blog)
August 16, 2006
Emergence Marketing's Official Sauce...
Order while quantities last!
Advertisers on social networking sites
I think brands will have to go beyond a conversation - though that's a good start - they have to be willing to develop and maintain a relationship/friendship with their customers over the long-term. And I think companies are looking at these sites all wrong. Advertisers, marketers, product-makers are trying to figure out how to exploit and use all the people on these sites - when they should be studying what these folks are doing and try to figure out how they can help these social sites be better for their users. Not more cluttered with their ads. If your product and brand don't really fit in - stay out. Know your customer and respect your customer - that's it.
At the risk of being repetitive - marketing is not about interrupting or intercepting people, it's about assisting them!
August 15, 2006
The role of customer feedback in innovation
Over at the Fast Company blogjam, Dave Pollard looks at whether great product innovation really starts with the customer - and describes the whole issue as a chicken or egg question.
Involving the customer in product innovation is not an either or proposition - it is something that should always be done - but done in the right context. And when listening to customers companies need to realize that their mileage will vary depending on the type of product or the phase within the product life cycle.
In some product categories, people could care less about the products or the companies that manufacture them - making customer feedback useless at the least, or potentially dangerous if given too much weight.
Newer products that are still primarily appealing to innovators and early adopters have a different problem with potentially similar consequences. Assuming the product is successful, customers probably care about the product in this case. But their ability to innovate ahead of what is available will likely be several steps behind the ability of the team that came up with the innovation - and giving too much weight to customer feedback may limit the future product potential and give the competition an opportunity to catch up and out-innovate the incumbent.
Then you have more mature product categories where people care - probably the area that yields the most valuable customer feedback. Except that here too you have to be careful about how much weight you are giving to that customer feedback. If your goal is to grow your product revenue by 80% in the future, then you have to realize that "all" current customers only make up a fraction of your future customer base. Attaching too much weight to their feedback may eliminate a large number of future customers that do not share their profile. And according to Harvard Prof. Clayton Christensen's disruptive innovation theory, your trajectory of product improvement will eventually cross the mainstream trajectory of customer need - limiting your potential future customer base, and opening yourself up for a disruptive innovation.
All that being said, and according to MIT Professor Eric Von Hippel, in some fields there are a small number of "lead users" who invent new products out of necessity and who can be an important source of new product concepts. The kind of customer listening that is required in this case is very different from what most people think of when talking about customer involvement in product innovation!
August 10, 2006
An interesting corporate blogging case study
Marketing Sherpa has an interesting corporate blog case study - showing that launching corporate blogs and the like may not always be the right thing to do...
August 9, 2006
The revenge of the longtail...
This is a great video from YouTube explaining what happened to popular media and marketing...(via Chris Baggot)
August 8, 2006
Are we really building what we "are"?
Check out the similarities between these two pictures...do you believe that this indicative of the fact that we build what we are as suggested on the Value Network mailing list?
links for 2006-08-08
self-running slideshow with 1400 web2.0 companies
August 7, 2006
End-user vs. author tagging...
If those services use tags to add information related to the "aboutness" of the posts or blogs, then they should allow tagging by everyone - much as Flickr. And they should also allow users to suggest "related" tags.
When using a service like Technorati to alert people about stuff you wrote, the current setup works. Once you start using it to search for stuff, the limitations of having author-only tags and (I assume) system-only "related tags" become somewhat obvious.
Are You in Marketing Death Valley?
Have you been in marketing for awhile? Were you trained in marketing? If so, chances are that you’ve been wondering what happened to the “traditional” marketing rules (if there ever was such a thing) - and what replaced them.
There is no question that tectonic shifts have redefined the fundamentals of marketing as we knew it – leaving many marketers feeling like they are in the midst of crossing the equivalent of “Marketing Death Valley.”
At the very least – take a look at one of the fundamental concepts of marketing - the 4P’s of the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion). In the early 90's Prof Robert F. Lauterborn suggested that the 4 P’s should be replaced with the 4C’s (Consumer needs, consumer Cost, Convenience to buy, and Communications). Either way, do you believe that those are still useful as fundamental concepts for defining the marketing mix? How much can you tweak "price" in your marketing mix if some of your competitors came out with free products? What can you do about "place," now that it has become mostly ubiquitous and almost free? And how much should you spend on "promotion," when the new marketing scarcity is "customer attention" instead of shelf space, and where "findability" is the new name of the game? Sure, in some spaces you can still gain some differentiation by changing some aspects of the "product" mix - but most of those are very short-lived differentiations.
In a series of posts during the next couple of months we will be looking at what happened to the traditional rules of marketing – and try to understand what the new fundamentals are. Feel free to join this conversation and help us to make this series of posts worthwhile.
August 6, 2006
Cool Sunday paper ad insert
OfficeMax had an eye-catching ad insert in the Sunday paper today. It consists of a big brown bag that says "15% off You Can Fit in this Bag!"
...off course, some restrictions apply...
[shameless self-promotion] Emergence Marketing part of best marketing and best word of mouth marketing blogs!
Besides our continued presence in the The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs for 15 weeks in row, Emergence Marketing has now also been included in Buzz Canuck's Top 11 word of mouth marketing blogs.
Thank you Mack from Viral Garden, and thank you Sean from Buzz Canuck - it's an honor to be included in both your lists!
August 5, 2006
links for 2006-08-05
Too funny - a service that can schedule calls to your cell in order to avoid socially awkward situations
Great article from the economist
August 4, 2006
links for 2006-08-04
Wharton study that reveals that you can recover from broken down trust
August 3, 2006
You cannot outsource innovation to your users!
Kathy Sierra over at Creating Passionate Users has a great post on why you cannot count on customers/users to innovate for you.
Quoting from her post, she says:
In this Web 2.0-ish world we're supposed to be all about the users being in control. Where the "community" drives the product. But the user community can't create art. (And I use "art" with a lowercase "a" as in software, books, just about anything we might design and craft.) That's up to us...
Our users will tell us where the pain is. Our users will drive incremental improvements. But the user community can't do the revolutionary innovation for us. That's up to us.
Of course you need to listen to your customers, and of course the customer is in control of many things that used to be controlled by the companies marketing their products and services - i.e., information about the product or service that levels/changes the balance of power in buying situations.
But that does not mean that your customers are in control of designing your next breakthrough innovation! It will never happen...and those companies that try to "outsource" their product innovation to their customers will inevitably condemn themselves to a slow dead by innovation monotony and product insipidness.
In an interview with Peter Drucker many years ago in Context Magazine - Drucker adds a few reasons why you cannot or should not outsource your product innovation to your customers:
- 99.9% of your customers couldn’t care less about your product or service.
- 70% of the people or organizations that should be your customers are not yet (and therefore by letting the existing customers dictate what your next generation product should be - you might very well never be able to meet the needs of those 70% who will make up your needed growth)
- customers never buy what we sell
Where will your killer competition come from?
It is a fairly well documented fact that some breakthrough innovations come from spaces that are not originally considered to be competitive. Nevertheless, it is still fun to witness one of those shifts firsthand.
If you have done any traveling in densely populated areas lately you may have witnessed a few of them. Have you noticed how fewer people seem to be wearing wristwatches - especially young people? Where did the competition come from? Cell phones...A quick online check indeed validates that the worldwide market for wristwatches is down by 10-18%.
So what else is happening? Are there fewer people carrying laptops in favor of web-enabled cell phones with email capability? Are more people using their phone to take snapshots instead of compact cameras? A quick online check does not offer any validation of these trends yet - if indeed they are real trends. But could the cell phone disrupt the wristwatch industry, the laptop market and the digital camera space?
Do you know if your industry may be under siege by stealth competition like this? Are you even looking outside your space?
August 1, 2006
Mastering the new marketing practices
One of the great sessions at last month's CMO summit, which was organized by Corante and the Center on Global Brand Leadership, was moderated by Johh Hagel. While the session has been summarized in a variety of places, John now summarized his points on his own blog. At the risk of being somewhat repetitive I will summarize/paraphrase the post here as it has a ton of great insight...
So where does John think marketing is going?
For starters, he thinks that the current shift in the economics of business will force major changes in marketing. With attention being the new scarcity and customer acquisition and retention costs being on the rise - business will have to start focusing on economies of scope instead of economies of scale. In customer relationships it will come down to getting the largest share of wallet of any single customer rather than a fix share of wallet across a large number of customers. This whole trend is reinforced by the fact that the cost of interaction and the ability for customers to find information about vendors and products is steadily declining as well.
According to John, this all leads to the need for fundamental changes in the areas of marketing strategy, branding and performance metrics.
In the area of marketing strategy, we need to move from the 3I's (intercept, Inhibit, isolate) to the 3A's (attract, assist, and affiliate). Another way of looking at it is that we have to move from a "one to one" marketing to a "many to one" marketing mindset.
From a brand promise point of view - we need to move from a "buy this product because I am great" mindset to one closer to "buy this product because I know you and you can trust that I will configure it properly for you."
As for the new metrics, try these on for a change: average life time value of the customer (customer service execs - are you listening!), 80/20 segmentation of customers based on profitability, ROA (return on attention), ROI (return on information).
And so what are vendors doing?
As John says, they are...well...acting like vendors!
In response to attention being the new scarcity - they are bombarding us with intrusive ads on animals, in urinals, in the sky, and with other desperate moves to "grab" our attention. John has it right when he says "Rather than just focusing on how to get attention, vendors might also want to consider how they can help their customers receive attention that is important to them and not just from the vendor, but from others that matter to the customers."
And as is typical with any new wave of tools, they are also jumping on the new social media technology bandwagon - deploying blogs, communities, wikis and other network-enabled marketing tools without really asking themselves how this will help the customer, or how "it will increase return of information for customers."
John finishes his article with some recommended actions for CMO's to take: affiliate with partners to create more useful solutions for your best customers, change organizational roles so execs are in charge of the total customer experience, and adopt performance metrics that measure and reward the increase of the lifetime value of the customer.
As usual - a post chock-full of great insights for marketers.