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Marketing & PR

Talking to your customers

October 12, 2004
Markets are conversations… continued
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Products & Services • Brand blogs • Marketing & PR 
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Sean Callahan writes about blogs and the conversations they enable at BtoB Magazine. My favourite bit:

“My interest in blogs in general flows out of my perception that society has become massively connected,” said Simon Phipps, Sun Microsystems’ chief technology evangelist, who has three blogs himself. “I agree with `The Cluetrain Manifesto’: Markets have become conversations.”

The implication is that markets, prior to the rise of the Internet, were essentially monologues. Today, with the rise of technology in general and the Internet in particular, markets are increasingly becoming dialogues, and blogs represent a perfect example of the trend.

via Steve Rubel

October 11, 2004
Age of sledgehammer advertising
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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A great article by Mark Gimein in the New York Metro about struggling advertising industry:

Just as years ago advertisers realized that banging audiences over and over with a catchy tagline, ad agencies are currently overwhelmed with the suspicion that the language of contemporary ads - the catchy tagline, the celebrity put in a funny situation, the twist ending, even the TV commercial itself - doesn’t work like it used to.

Shock, horror.

via Brand Autopsy

October 07, 2004
Ad blogs or invasion of advertising blogs…
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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Adland decided to list 70 odd links in a new blooming niche of advertising blogs. These are not blogs advertising anything but dedicated to advertising, PR, branding and snarking the ad blogs. These are the ones that got awarded a Gold Star:
Influx insights
Creative Generalist
The Media Drop
Speak up

October 04, 2004
Bowling for internet
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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Doc Searls unearths some stuff he has written in pre-blog era.

Marketing communications used to be like bowling: the idea was to hit distant targets by rolling things out at them. You knew you wouldn’t knock them all down every time, but with some skill you could hit most of them, especially if you put some kind of spin into your delivery.

But every marcom alley was still a one-way street. It was not the pins’ job to roll the ball back at the bowler. Well, the Internet puts an end to this game. The Internet is what Howard Rheingold calls a “many-to-many” medium. On the Internet, everybody gets to go bowling. The targets of marcom’s missiles are finally in a position to roll some messages of their own. But chances are, they won’t be interested in rolling them back at marcom. They’ll go straight after the parts of companies that are used to having marcom do their pitching for them. They’ll send emails to top executives. They’ll post notes in engineering newsgroups. They’ll root out the facts behind marcom’s well-crafted claims.

Now marcom needs to play a new game - one based on the interactive and (soon to be) ubiquitous nature of Internet connections.

September 28, 2004
Business blog we love: Cracked Cauldron Spillings
Jackie Danicki • Products & Services • Brand blogs • Marketing & PR 
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It’s all about our hungry customers, says the mastermind behind Cracked Cauldron Spillings, a bakery that a mother-daughter team is breaking their backs to open in Oklahoma in five weeks. And they are using a blog to tell the story of where they are, how they got there, and where they are going.

It makes for fascinating, affinity-building reading. Stuffed full of great content, with stories of sourcing cheese from a local dairy farmer, naming their sourdough starters and the difficulties of funding a new business, the CCS blog is an addictive read. In fact, these two are canny enough to understand precisely the importance of storytelling

September 27, 2004
Rules of engagement
Jackie Danicki • Marketing & PR 
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Alan Moore of SMLXL reports from the Disruptive Technologies session at the Forecast 2005 conference that the resolve presented to the group was:

Emerging technologies will completely break down the last vestiges of mass media and mass marketing.


The issue is now, it’s not tomorrow, or next year. The issue is how then do you spend your marketing budget, how do you reach your customers, how do you differentiate in a crowded marketspace? How do you create pull to your brand?

For the answer, click here

“Stop selling, start giving”
Jackie Danicki • Marketing & PR 
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Thanks to Monica White for passing along Chris Cardell‘s email newsletter, in which he reveals some lessons learnt:

The first is that in business, as in life, giving is a great experience. The second was that most businesses wait until a client or customer gives them money before they start adding value to that customer’s life. Now I say ‘Why wait’. Start adding value now and believe me, the customers will come to you.

That is a sentiment I can definitely agree with - wholeheartedly. Giving is the new marketing. More:

The irony is that if there is a secret to your success it is to stop worrying about your success and start thinking about the success of your customers and potential customers. Pay attention to their problems, their needs. Go out of your way to make their lives easier, to put a bit of joy into their lives. Will the occasional one still treat you badly? Sure but who cares. The majority will be simply stunned by the way you are so different from the masses.

Chris, you should be blogging this stuff. 

September 26, 2004
Doc Searls hates branding
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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Doc Searls takes on branding

I hate the term branding. Same with consumer, audience and market when it’s modified by target.

He explains his statements further:

And yeah, I do believe that branding matters, only so far as being clear and consistent about your name (or your product’s name) and what it means. After that, marketing needs to be about conversations and relationships (which is what markets are all about). I have lots of ideas about how to do that, but none of them involve leveraging anything from traditional marketing.

Indeed. And he certainly is not alone.

September 25, 2004
Good advice
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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Someone send an email to Seth Godin asking for advice about how to spread the news of his business that he is being build from the ground up. Since I know what that’s like I was good to hear this:

Most successes (in books, music, movies, politics, non-profits, etc.) don’t come from where the established wisdom tells us they’re going to come from. No one bet on Phish or Boing Boing or Google or Dan Brown.

Yes, it looks like the big guys (McKinsey, Steven King, General Foods) always manage to win, but what’s really happening is that the big guys slowly fade away and the real growth comes from where no one expected it.

In a world where things are viral, you’re more likely to succeed with passive networking (strangers recommending you) than the old school active kind. In other words, make great stuff, do your homework, build your audience and when you’ve got something worth talking about, people will talk about it.

September 23, 2004
Study claims $50 billion Ad dollars wasted
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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Adrants reports on a recent review by Advertising Research Foundation’s of dozens of cross media studies to have been mis-spent on advertising.

There’s a headline in there somewhere. “Get Wasted. Waste Your Client’s Ad Budget.”

That $50 billion figure represent 18.8 percent of the total $266 billion U.S. ad spend as estimated by Universal McCann. The ARF says the two biggest causes of wasted media spend are ads carrying the “wrong” message and buys being made with “wrong” timing. ARF suggest after recovering from “morning after” syndrome, you walk right up to your creative director and account director and say, “Dammit, we need to test this creative before it runs!” Yes. Test. What a novel concept.

To test or to engage. That is the question.

Update: SMLXL’s Alan Moore has more good stuff on this.

September 18, 2004
Why do we hate marketing so much?
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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It is entirely consistent that the birth (and subsequent rapid growth) of the digital age should give rise to big, towering arguments about the law of Copyright and whether or not such a concept could, should or will survive this new technological frontier.

As a lawyer, I have been presented with many arguments against the entire concept of Copyright as a legal and enforceable principle. Some of these arguments have a sounder basis than others. But, of all the views I have encountered, few strike me as strange and ill-thought out as this one:

If I go up to Jack Valenti or Dan Glickman and ask them if I have the right to copy this DVD, they’ll say no. I can show them the receipt and they’ll still say no. If they really want to insist that I don’t have any right to make a copy, even after I explain the physics of the situation to them, then I really ought to ask them for my money back.

Now that I think about it, this could explain why I don’t have a DVD player at home and have never owned a single DVD. Ever. It could also be that I’m just cheap. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because my inner physicist is subconciously offended by any business model that is in conflict with the fundamental laws of the universe…

If the author’s “inner physicist” is offended by business models which run contrary to the laws of the universe then I suggest that his “inner physicist” needs to get out a bit more.

Business models (like the concept of copyright itself) are an abstraction but there is nothing wrong with laws (or models) based on abstractions. Indeed, our entire tradition of law is based on expository abstraction. Companies are merely notional and entirely artificial. You cannot touch them, feel them or sense them. Yet they have a legal personality that enables them to do business. Likewise the law of contract itself is an abstraction and entirely open to endless re-working and manipulation. Contractual obligations need only be certain and made in consideration of reciprocal obligations but I do not recall reading anything about the laws of the universe being involved.

We know that some animals devour their young. Presumably that is a law of the universe.

I do think that the recording industry, in particular, has responded to the digital age with a huge degree of ineptitude. I think (indeed, I expect) that they will have to radically re-define their business models in order to adapt and survive. But the laws of the universe have nothing to do with it. 

September 09, 2004
PR gone bad
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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brian d foy just wanted to review some new software I wrote to the company’s marketing address asking them for an evaluation license. It’s one of the perks of writing about software. I get an email back asking for more information about me, and the marketing person wants to set up a meeting with the CEO so I can ask questions.

But after a frustrating and pointless conversation with the PR person:

Then I realize that she really knows nothing, and that she probably doesn’t even work for the company. She says “we” in an odd, insincere way. She’s an outsourced public relations person. I’ve dealt with this situation a lot. She probably runs her own boutique public relations shop, so at the same time that she’s supposed to be selling the product to me, she’s trying to retain her position of authority as the owner of a company.

And the rousing finale:

Eventually I just hang up on her. For a couple minutes I ponder if I should hate this company too, and that’s not what a real public relations person wants anyone to think after a meeting.

Now, I realise that the episode was just PR done badly and one should not judge the entire industry by it. The incident does highlight that the industry uses standard practices that inevitably leads to a gaping void between the company’s ‘message’ and its hired messangers and its audience and customers. So, as Steve Rubel sums it up:

Another day, another victim.

September 03, 2004
John Battelle on upside down advertising
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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A fascinating article by John Battelle on ‘sell side’ advertising. Well worth a read. Seth Godin has a good summary:

Imagine online ads that carry money and rules with them. If you’re a blogger or web publisher or even someone sending out email, and you fit the rules for a given ad, you can publish it. Every time you do, you get paid.

The ads deplete the money in their account and then vanish. If the ads are working, the advertiser refills them. If publishers find that readers like them, they publish them more often.

It’s upside down because control is now flipped from advertiser to publisher/reader.

The concept sounds very appealing indeed and I will comment on it later.

August 25, 2004
Rude marketing deserves a rude response
Perry de Havilland • Marketing & PR 
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There are many annoying things about computing but one of those things that is most likely to reduce me to screaming at the monitor and firing up Google to hunt down the home addresses of certain programmers is rude software.

Yahoo is a particular offender.  Download and install their Yahoo Instant Messenger (or better yet, do not) and you get, unasked for, an icon in the taskbar and two more in Internet Explorer, all without so much as a ‘by your leave’.  Install the whole suite of Yahoo products and you get even more.  This is ‘interruption marketing’ and contravenes the cardinal rule of ‘do not piss off the customer’.  If I wanted the frigging icons taking up my screen real estate, I would have damn well asked for them.  So if you find that as intolerable as I do, download Trillian and use Yahoo Instant Messenger’s services without actually having to sully your machine with Yahoo Instant Messenger.  Hey Yahoo, my response to you trying to shove your products in front of me? Let’s try “Screw you, I am going to use your more congenial competitor”.  I am willing to pay to be treated more to my liking.

August 21, 2004
Truth in Public Relations
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR 
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Uninstalled reveals that the September issue of Maxim magazine includes a short feature on When PR Goes Wrong.

The centrepiece of this feature is the complete text of a letter to editor Alex Strauss, sent by a certain New York PR agency on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution. Here’s the key section of the letter in question:

“Now that baseball season is in full swing, it is the perfect time to inform your readers about this exciting exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution. If there has ever been a museum exhibition to highlight in [TRASHY MEN’S PUBLICATION], Baseball As America is it. Please let me know if I can provide any additional information or visuals.”

The Maxim article includes the name of the agency… I guess we’ll just have to wait for the September issue.

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