Uniquely HP: How to preserve the dominance of a brand

June 1, 2010

By Tom

In evaluation of the broad concept of “brand power” one can easily get lost. Companies may begin with a spark of natural intuition for customer need, and therefore invariably become a wild success. However, as companies grow and continue to innovate, intuition alone is insufficient in reaching sustainability and growth. Eventually, the needs of the customer will be ignored or lost in the wake of the firm’s overshadowing efforts to learn what the customer wants. This is a phenomena that has led to countless wasteful marketing pursuits and eventual decline of many companies, large and small alike. I suppose the most relevant example of this can be exhibited through Dell Computers and their recent sales decline in wake of a huge youthful advertising campaign that was accompanied by the release of a series of colorful laptops. While I realize that HP is nothing like Dell, I want to make sure the average consumer knows this as well.

Hewlett-Packard has sought out and achieved the solidification of the “brand power” for decades. However, in the rapidly evolving tech industry, competition is always adapting through new marketing approaches that have muffled the impact that Hewlett-Packard has previously enjoyed within its market – I want to take it back. How do I purpose my value proposition? The answer is simple yet opaque: simplicity. Read the rest of this entry »

Why gold, and does it need any marketing?

June 1, 2010

By Igor

“Mr. Gold doesn’t give more time … or second chances”

Ms. Lilly Walker (Revolver (2005), Guy Ritchie)

We are what we eat, and we eat pork bellies, live cattle, corn, coffee and sugar. We do not eat gold, and do not even burn it, like we do gas, oil or timber. And yet, we prefer a few pounds of gold to a few pounds of pork or sugar. Furthermore, this paradox does not seem too paradoxical to any of us, doesn’t it? Of all the mysteries surrounding gold, the most intriguing to me was always its special place. And after I learned a little bit of marketing, I also realized that gold’s marketing is far from obvious to me. For a while I was puzzled with my inability to utilize eating principle, and turned to history books written on the subject. Below is a resume, or as one of my compatriots, Mikhail Prokhorov, recently put it – rez-yoom.

Those of us, who believe that Richard Nixon had murdered American Dream in early 70s, might as well be right. For a fact, we know that he did demonetized gold right around that time. Read the rest of this entry »

The Death of Commoditization. The Birth of the Small Business

October 20, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

Image Source: Wired.com

Image Source: Wired.com

In today’s society, there is the belief that “free is good.” I have this belief as well, but I do think there are times when the saying isn’t always true. A situation that stands out for me is new products in the marketplace. When you see or hear about a product from a friend, in the news, or by any other means, what you’re hearing a someone’s invention. It is something they (the company) created by trying to understand their customer (often themselves) and making a product that serves their customer. That is the essence of new product development. You find a need in the market, and then you try to fill it with a product that you think the consumer would enjoy and purchase. And you, as the creator would be rewarded. In today’s society, that reward is financial, social, or some other high value asset.

Source: stock.xchang

Source: stock.xchng

So back to the inventor. This inventor has created something that they think you will like. And by buying their product, you say, “I like your product and I will support you.” What makes you decide to buy it? Maybe you tried it. Maybe a trusted friend recommended it to you. By some marketing initiative, you became aware of the product and decided that you wanted it enough to be willing to pay for it.

Source: Stock.xchng

Source: Stock.xchng

The problem with commoditization is that it drives down the quality of the product as the price drives towards zero. One example of this direct relationship between quality and price can be seen in toilet paper. Toilet paper is, in essence, free. If you wanted to, you could get toilet paper free for the rest of your life and never have to pay for it. Now I don’t know where to get reliably source of free toilet paper from, but a quick search would answer that question. The bigger point is that even in a market with free products, people pay. And people will pay a fair amount for high quality toilet paper. The point is that a commoditized product is often of poor quality, so the majority of consumers will pay for a higher quality product. You can pay with money, as in toilet paper, or with information, as in Google.

Source: stock.xchng

Source: stock.xchng

My proposal to you, the consumer, is to consider, “Why would somebody create something in a commoditized market?” Are they trying to make a quick buck? Or are they making something they believe in and think will improve your life. If you believe the reason they made the product is to make your life better, then I ask you to buy it. By buying that product, you are supporting the inventor’s dream. You are an early adopter. You buy into their dream product. The current iteration of the product may not be your dream product, but by supporting them, you give them another chance to make something better. You keep their company in the race. By selecting a commoditized version of the product, you don’t give them the chance to even try again. Aren’t we supposed to support smart risk taking? Without such, society wouldn’t grown and flourish.

An iPhone without Contracts

September 25, 2009

By joseph.young.2009


The best smartphone on the market today is the iPhone 3GS. This isn’t news. They’ve sold over 30 million iDevices (iPhone + iPod Touch). The app store has had over 1.8 billion downloads and hosts 75,000 apps. Compare these stats against the Palm Pre, Google G1 or myTouch, Blackberry Storm, or Nokia N-Series. Apple is killing it. That’s not to say that the other players aren’t working hard and may some day catch up. Just not today. But that’s another discussion.

What were here to talk about is how to get the best smartphone on the best network, today. We’ve already determined the best smartphone is the iPhone. But even if you don’t think it is, this method works for your smartphone of choice. The best carrier for coverage and download speed in San Diego is Sprint. Yes, Sprint. I thought it was Verizon too, but recent studies show that Sprint has spent a lot of money on the network and it’s starting to pay off.


How do you get iPhone on Sprint? Beyond the technical issues of CDMA vs. GSM radio frequencies, the iPhone is tied to AT&T by an exclusivity contract. We’d have to wait a year to hear if there’s the possibility of Apple’s iPhone on Sprint. And the truth is, Verizon would probably snatch up Apple before Sprint, as recent rumors have pointed to. So the solution is to get one of Sprint’s snazzy new personal Wi-Fi devices. Marketed as “MiFi 2200,” it’s a personal hotspot that goes wherever you go and gives you 831K (about 1/2 DSL or 1/3 cable internet speeds) of bandwidth in San Diego. Now get your iPhone, or better yet, iPod Touch, and connect to your MiFi and have high speed internet with you at all times. With any iDevice, you can use the Skype app and have people call you directly. Eventually, the Google Voice app will be released and you’ll be able to use your Google Voice number to call, text, and everything else you need a phone to do. But instead of paying $199 down and $75 a month for 450 minutes and 200 text messages, you pay $199 down and $60 a month for (nearly) unlimited calls, texts, emails, and webpages. Plus you’re on a faster and more reliable network. I could go on about how the MiFi would allow you to surf at the airport, in long car rides, and at any coffee shop, but Steven Levy already talks about it in this month’s issue of Wired (Oct. 2009).

Facebook is Your New Desktop

August 8, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

With the massive growth in social gaming over the past 12 months, I felt it was necessary to get some first hand experience on what makes these games so successful. Though I’m still studying the space, one takeaway from the experience was Facebook’s design to become your new desktop.

What do I mean by this? Just look at these two pictures.


The first image shows Facebook in my browser at fullscreen (F11 on Firefox and IE). This should not look surprising to anyone who has used Facebook recently to play a flashed based game. What is interesting is when you compare this image to the image of a clean install of Windows XP.


The “Start” menu in Windows is replaced by the “Applications” in Facebook. Bookmarked application buttons give you access to the Facebook apps you access often. This is a direct copy of the quick launch icons in the windows taskbar (not shown in this screenshot). On the bottom right of the Facebook window is the chat client that mimics a chat program (say MSN) in your system tray.

Facebook has taken a user interface (UI) that the majority of computer users are familiar (Windows XP), and reproduced it online. This may be due to the Microsofts investment in Facebook, or just a reflection of their chummy relationship. My opinion on Facebook’s strategy is a bit more nefarious. The end goal is to kill the heavyweight OS, and instead have users connect directly to the web when they boot up their computers and spend all their computer time in Facebook.

The Back Up Phone

June 22, 2009

by joseph.young.2009


Unsubsidized prices of Virgin Mobile phones

I recently went to Cincinnati to visit my family for vacation. While I was out there, I drove over to Paramount’s Kings Island to enjoy the roller coasters. What I didn’t expect at the park was to loose my phone on the very first ride. My iPhone. My personal assistant, phone book, calendar, and primary channel for communication.

Let’s face it, we don’t use the home phone anymore. We consider it a back-up, and only use it when we’re low on batteries, or have bad reception. The cellphone is a personal communication device that has changed society forever. And to be without yours, is a strange feeling.

But I digress. I returned from my vacation without a phone and needed a solution quickly. I had been trying to decide between the new iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre. Both phones look interesting, and could be a worthy replacement for my iPhone. But my phone would not be defeated. In checking my voicemail tonight, I received a message that my iPhone was still alive and most likely, working. They gave me a phone number to call, and I realized that I didn’t have a phone to call with.

At the end of my second quarter as a Teaching Assistant for our core marketing course, I came across a very interesting case. Virgin Mobile‘s pricing strategy was the students’ final case. Reading through the situation and the decision facing the management, it was interesting to see how carriers and customers have a combative relationship. Consumers want to leave carriers for bad service. Carriers lure consumers in with phones and hidden fees. We’ve spent so long in these contracts, that we don’t blink an eye at 2-year contracts. And here was a new player that identified the pain points for the consumer and created a plan that reduced customer acquisition costs, and protected themselves from high customer churn. This strategy ultimately proved successful for them.

Faced with a need to buy a “loner” phone tonight, I went to Target to go shopping. I was surprised to see so many players in the pay-as-you-go section of the mobile phone aisle. But I can understand why. I see this phone as a one time purchase that provides me with freedom to make calls and text messages. I’m paying $45 for a disposable phone booth that I can carry around with me. The funny part of this situation is that my 200 minutes doesn’t even exceed the 210 minute talk time of a full charge. As the price of products is driven down with innovation (technical, operational, etc.), products become commodotized and I now see this mobile phone as a thow-away product; something I would have ever considered 10 years ago.

Extending the h-index to Twitter

May 28, 2009

by startupmarketingdiva

Recently, I became a Tweeter.   Cool stuff.  And being the quintessential scientist that I am – a practitioner of the scientific method and strong inference, I like to collect and analyze data.  So, I began thinking about Twitter metrics and analytics.

Here are the basic key Twitter metrics to consider:  Number of followers, number following, number of updates, number of @replies, and number of @RT (i.e. “ReTweets”).  I found this last one to be the most intriguing especially after reading The Genius Index: One Scientist’s Crusade to Rewrite Reputation Rules in this month’s issue of Wired Magazine.  In a nutshell, this article is about Jorge Hirsch, a physicist who lives in a world defined by the “publish or perish” mantra, who decides to re-write the algorithm that defines a scientist’s reputation.  It’s not just about the journal impact factor (i.e. the caliber of journal that a scientist’s research is published in), but rather how many times a scientist’s work is cited by other researchers.  This is referred to the h-index (aka “the hirsch index” of course).

Similarly, it’s almost meaningless to note how many followers you have on Twitter.  Because, sooner or later, you’re going to get bots and spammers following you as well.  Plus, some Tweeters follow simply so that you can turn around and follow them – a kind of a diplomatic gesture, I suppose, in the Twitter world.  But, when a Tweet is ReTweeted, that’s when the signal to noise ratio increases for that particular Tweet and Tweeter.

There are groups working on a number of other metrics for Twitter – check out TwInfluence, which is a site where you can measure your influence as a Twitterer.  I don’t know the actual algorithm, but it calculates your degree of influence based on the velocity at which you acquire followers, taking into account their degree of influence, and the number of followers you accumulate over time, among many other metrics.  And, just today, I came across a search engine built especially for the social web called TOPSY (in the interest of full disclosure, one of the founders is my cousin).  It seems that TOPSY’s value is that it returns information in real time and more importantly, it filters the signal from the noise by using  reputation as a key metric.  So, for example, on Twitter, it filters the Tweets (and the links in the Tweets) that are most valuable based on the reputation of the author.  So your search returns information in the context of what people are actually talking about.

There’s a lot going on.  The dust storm is just starting and it’ll be a while before it settles.  But, like the early days of the internet, when the ‘hit counter’ ruled, similarly, in these early days of Twitter, ReTweets are a key metric to consider, or so it seems.

I’d like to hear your comments.  Yours truly – startupmarketingdiva.  Follow me on Twitter @startupmktgdiva.

Use of new media in regulated industries

May 28, 2009

by startupmarketingdiva

Since my last post on “the future of Social Media Marketing in Pharma,” I’ve seen quite a few conversations pop up around this topic and started ‘listening’ to them.  Here’s the scoop:

There’s a great blog on pharma and healthcare at Dose of Digital.  Check out some of the archived posts on the sidebar of this blog.  It’s evident that the FDA has not clearly defined the rules of engagement in the social media space for pharma and for that matter medical devices and diagnostics companies.  The same blog discusses ways to go around current FDA regulations using mobile marketing (But, I don’t think the point is to deceive customers or patients, or maybe it is? But that’s not my focus!)

Recently, Johnson & Johnson was slapped on the wrist by the FDA’s DDMAC (Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications) for overstating the efficacy of Ultram ER, a drug for chronic pain, and understating its risks in this Ultram warning letter.  In another similar situation, Shire Development Inc was reprimanded for inaccurately featuring Adderall XR Capsules on YouTube.  Essentially, the Adderall warning letter claims that the video overstated efficacy and understated the risks, thereby “misbranding” the drug.  So were both of these cases deserving of the reprimand?

Before answering that, consider the blog eye on fda and a related podcast that very succinctly discusses the need for pharma’s participation in Web 2.o, pharma’s reservation to do so, and the FDA’s point of view.  In brief,  Mark Senak of Fleishman-Hillard spoke with Dr. Jean-Ah Kang, who is the Special Assistant to DDMAC Director Tom Abrams.  Although I recommend that you listen to the podcast, the script is nicely transcribed at MM&M.  Basically, right now the FDA has no formal policy on the use of Web 2.0 social media.  The key message from Dr. Kang was:  “it’s not the medium, it’s the message.”  As long as the message is fair and balanced, it doesn’t matter what medium it is conveyed in, whether it be Twitter, YouTube, website, or other traditional medium such as print.  But even so, as a company with a drug or other product in a regulated industry, you still need to cover your a%#.  How?  Dr. Kang says:  “follow the law” by submitting two copies of the final promotional materials using the FDA form 2253 under the guidance of 21 CFR 314.81(b)(3)(i) to DDMAC.  If you think your marketing materials require advisory comments on the draft proposal, you can certainly solicit the DDMAC for assistance in advance via their CDER page.   What this does is covers you from a third party wrongly reprocessing and misrepresenting your product and brand.

Is it better to have loose guidelines than to have an exhaustive list of rules and regulations spelled out by the DDMAC?  Apparently not.  The brouhaha continues.  Just a few days ago, DDMAC issued draft guidance for industry presenting risk information in prescription drug and medical device promotion.  The guidance hardly touches on the use of social media and the Web 2.0 environment.  There seems to be an even stronger response to the lack of guidance provided in this document, especially since DDMAC reprimanded 14 companies via “Warning Letters and Untitled Letters” for using sponsored links on Google in March of this year.  The letters basically claim:  The sponsored links are misleading because they make representations and/or suggestions about the efficacy of _fill in the blank drug_, but fail to communicate any risk information associated with the use of this product. In addition, the sponsored links inadequately communicate _fill in the blank drug _indication and fail to use the required established name. So, if you want to provide input to the draft guidance document, you have 90 days to do so, or you can join the bandwagon with others already planning to!

The landscape is much more complicated than what meets the eye.  How do you formulate policy around promotional materials in a regulated industry in a medium that can be altered, such as a wiki, or that must be communicated in 140 characters or less, i.e. Twitter?  For example, is it okay to Tweet:  “Joe used Viagra and he’s never looked better.  Ask your doctor how you can too!”  And, even if you can, I wonder what the effectiveness of such new media tools will be for the companies looking to promote their regulated products?  And, even more interestingly, how will and should the combination of various marketing channels change to optimize delivery of the promotional message?

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Yours truly – startupmarketingdiva.
P.S. follow me on Twitter @startupmktgdiva


April 22, 2009

Michael Fassnacht wrote a strong piece for AdAge about the rise of self-segmentation in marketing.  His premise points to three cultural shifts that mitigate the impact of traditional consumer segmentation.  Paramount among these are that consumers are moving between segments.  And if consumers are dynamic, moving ever more easily between segments, the onus is on the brand to make itself accessible at all of the relevant possible points of discovery.  As Michael puts it:

It’s not surprising that two of the most successful product and retail companies, Apple and Amazon, are not masters of consumer segmentation but experts in building relevant products that consumers choose. Their marketing communication is segment-based but does not depend on pursuing an ever-increasing level of micro-segment-specific relevance. They are far more focused on building and communicating relevance relationships than in micro-segmenting consumers by any kind of attributes.

The rise of social networks has allowed for even greater fluidity among customer segments in both expression and discovery.  On Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I connect to different groups with different interest (multiple forms of self-expression) and in those environments I am exposed to new conversations (which leads to discovery).  Through My Family connection on Facebook, I am now exposed to my Aunt Nancy’s ardent evangelism for Harley thanks to her new motorcycle.

The article provides 4 tips for encouraging consumer self-segmentation [excerpted here]:

  1. Build correlation clusters between purchased products and services, and serve them up as recommendations (Amazon, Apple’s Genius feature).
  2. Offer networking opportunity based on self-acclaimed interests (Facebook, LinkedIn).
  3. Design and provide content or a deal-alert function that automatically informs consumers about something new or interesting in the “opted-in” interest domain of a consumer (Google Alert, Orbitz Fare Alert).
  4. Enable sharing of consumer-generated content or feedback in the context of your brand (BlueCross’ “Power of the Human Voice” campaign).

The lesson here: in addition to consumer segmentation, marketing departments are going to have to work extra hard to make their brands more discoverable and accessible to consumers.  Consumers’ interests are ever-changing, they have infinite choice and now they have a say in your brand.

– Forrest Wright

Why Marketeers are Excited about Twitter

April 21, 2009

by joseph.young.2009


There’s a lot of news about Twitter these days. Well, more than a lot. We’re essentially drowning on twitter now. But it still has it’s charm if you treat it the way you treat Facebook. Don’t follow everyone on the planet, only your real friends and some celebrities (web or otherwise) to spice things up.

More importantly, how can marketeers benefit from Twitter? By allowing word of mouth to happen on an amplified level. My friend recently posted this tweet [def: a message on Twitter] above and I found it very interesting. Usually, the tweets have references to @friends, but more  and more I see references to @products, @brands, or @companies. Anytime someone mentions these things, they’re engaging in word of mouth marketing. As marketeers know, this is best kind of marketing there its. Whether you’re a large company trying to create a presence or a crafts(wo)men looking for an extra source of income, more customers is always good for business.

The best part about Twitter for marketeers is the fact that her tweet was sent out to her 15 followers. So instead of using word of mouth marketing on one person, she did it to 15 people instantly.

I was interested enough and clicked the link to discover a crafty woman selling gourmet soap. Pretty cool. May order it in the future. The reason I’m more inclined to click the link is because I trust this person as a friend and assume that they wouldn’t advertise to me.  This is the power of word of mouth advertising. This is the power of Twitter to marketeers.

You can find me on Twitter @joecool79.

The Real Green Economy

April 14, 2009

Last week, MediaPost ran an article about the double-digit increase in the home gardening sector.  This is a bright spot, but not altogether unexpected given the seismic cultural shifts toward self-sufficiency, consumer basics, and spending more time at home.

What is interesting is how quickly companies are jumping on this bandwagon.  Last night, Home Depot ran a primetime, network ad that featured all of the ways in which Home Depot can help you with your gardening.  Hedgeclippers, lawnmowers, fertilizer and, of course, vegetable plants.  What struck me was how much airtime the $3.49 container of tomato plants got.  It’s obviously not their big ticket item but it does reposition Home Depot to be in the consideration set for home gardeners.


This morning, MediaPost ran an article on Campbell’s Soup.  Campbell’s is running a promotion called “Help Grow Your Own Soup” (HGYOS), with the goal of growing one billion tomatoes.  They’re doing this by making their tomato seeds available to the public through a code-redemption promotion.  They are also raising money for agricultural education and helping create five community gardens.

This is a well-planned reinforcement of Campbell’s persona as a downhome brand, one that’s nourishing and good for families.  It also squarely re-establishes itself as an essential pantry basic so parents will keep stocking their pantries with Campbell’s, even when making those tough grocery budget decisions.  Nice work staying relevant, Campbell’s.

If these initiative work as I am expecting, be on the lookout for more Green marketing initiatives around home gardening.  I’m sure Target, K-Mart and food manufacturers will continue this trend throughout the spring.

Making “Top Videos” Better

April 6, 2009

by joseph.young.2009


I was recently watching the “Top Videos” feature/widget on ESPN recently and thought 2 things. First, the widget has achieved the same functionality as watching SportsCenter on TV.

I can happily watch through it and get the same feeling as watching SportCenter on TV. A couple of stories, a commercial. They don’t make the commercials too long. Let’s hope they keep it that way.

The second thought was a feature they could use to spread the word of the product and increase usage. The “Top Videos” widget should allow people to share clips, tag clips, and make their own “Highlights” to pass to buddies. These features would introduce people to the widget, increase the return rate of readers to the ESPN website, and increases the number of high quality commercials views. As banner ads lose value, video ads that people will actually watch become the most valuable real estate on a webpage. Hulu currently charges a CPM rate of $25, which is apparantly a bargain for video commercials. A rough estimate of CPM for banner ads is $5. This means, that websites, including ESPN want to convert as much space to video ads as possible. SportsCenter has found a way to do this. But it must increase the viewership. By allowing customers to share clips and add tags, you add more value to the “Top Videos” widget and get more people using it, whether to tag, or to share clips.

One way to implement the tag features is as follows. Show the top 10 tags, and allow users to give a thumbs up or thumbs down for a clip selection. To avoid excess tags, the same section (or close proximity) should be selected 3 times before it shows up on the website to prevent clutter. And people can get “points” as they get more thumbs up rankings. This will encourage more participation for “tagger” and “rankers.”

ESPN currently has 15M viewers. If “Top Videos” is getting 10% of the viewers, that’s 1.5M viewers. If they could get that increased to 20% they could be doubling their revenue from that one widget alone.

Apple’s New Closed System

March 16, 2009

by joseph.young.2009


For all the talk about how revolutionary Apple is and how draconian Microsoft is, I find it a bit interesting that Apple has managed to turned headphones into a closed system. With their latest version of the iPod Shuffle, Apple has made headphones something that you have to buy from Apple directly, or from authorized accessory manufacturers.

The funny thing is that this isn’t the first time they’ve done this. Remember the iPhone 2.5G? When the product first came out, only iPhone or iPod headphones would work with it. The recessed outlet forced user to use Apple only headphones. Got a pair of $300 earbuds? Great! All you have to do is pick from the rapidly growing adapter market. I’m sure there’s warehouses full of these adapters today with little to no market value.

Back to the announcement of the latest iPod Shuffle. After watching the video on how to use your new Shuffle I realized that I have to memorize how to use my iPod Shuffle or be stuck with a fashionable piece of metal that I don’t know how to work. There’s a point where simplicity goes too far. I’m still not sold on the one button for my iPhone, but at least having a large touchscreen for a strong user interface. A heaphone with a ‘+’, ‘-‘, and blank button do not scream intuitive to me. More important than usability is the fact that I now have to use Apple headphones for listening to music. It’s well known that the standard headphones for iPods are not the greatest. Now I have to live with the fact that the headphones suck and I can’t use anything else. My true fear is that I’ll loose the headphones and have to pay Apple at least $29.99 just to listen to my music again. In an effort to simplify design (and reduce cost), the data connection shares the same port as the headphone jack. So every time I sync music onto the Shuffle, I run the risk of loosing my headphones. Fantastic.

Now I don’t want you leaving this post thinking that I hate Apple. That’s completely untrue. I like them. A lot. But I’m not so enamored by the Apple hype not to see a closed system when it’s staring me in the face. I just read a post stating that 3rd party headphones will require and Apple-licensed authentication chip. They obvious feel that they’re not making enough money off their users already.

What’s the future of Social Media Marketing in Pharma?

February 25, 2009

by startupmarketingdiva

There’s clearly been much written and discussed in recent months about SMM.  This new marketing option is making a big splash among marketers of consumer products in the hi-tech, food, and entertainment industries and the like.  For example, see previous blog posts on Jack In The Box by my fellow blogger Joe Young.  This is all very applicable and makes sense.  Now, coming from the pharmaceutical world, I wonder:  What role does SMM play in the pharmaceutical industry?  This industry is tightly regulated by the Food & Drug Administration.  The FDA monitors every action that a pharmaceutical company makes during the drug development process and even more so, after the drug has been launched. For example, pharmaceutical companies are required to monitor adverse effects of drugs once the drug goes on market.   From a marketing point of view, SMM would be a great tool to use in market research as well as in monitoring both positive and negative effects of pharmaceutical drugs in use.  User groups for those using a particular drug can be set up by a pharmaceutical company to bring patients together in a community and exchange information and experiences with a particular drug.  But, is this something a pharmaceutical company willing to implement?  What are the consequences of “too much information”?  What would be the ‘side effects’ of such social groups for the pharma company?  What are the pros and cons of SMM in the pharmaceutical world?  What role does the FDA play with respect to SMM?  I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences on the future of SMM in pharma….yours truly – startupmarketingdiva.

Don’t touch that Dial!

February 25, 2009

by forrestsloan

Why recap what’s perfectly stated?

“LiveScience.com reports that a new study shows that people who touch an item at a store are more likely to not only buy an item, but pay more for it.”

For more details, check out this article.

On Target

February 25, 2009

by forrestsloan

The Target commercials “Brand New Day” are spot-on when it comes to understanding the new houshold economics.

They get that every purchase is now a serious economic decision so the benefits have to be front and center.  This goes for everything, no matter how basic.  Nowadays, a $9.99 DVD purchase and a $2.99 box of microwave popcorn are a much easier sell when framed as a “night at the movies” because you’re providing consumers with a lower-cost alternative to something they already are doing or might want to do.

Ad Age ran a nice piece today titled “Can Moms Save Us from the Recession?.”  It details some of the psychology behind household purchase decisions as made by today’s Mom.  Link to it here.   The parallels between these findings and the new Target ads are pretty obvious.  Nice work, Target.

Holiday Retail Fallout Part 1: “Spirit” vs. “Present”

February 25, 2009

by forrestsloan

Looks like the ghost of Christmas Present is just that, a ghost.

MediaPost ran an interesting article about the most popular search keywords this holiday.  Last year, the #1 search was “Christmas present,” with “Christmas shopping” coming in at #4.  This year, the top search was for “Santa letter,” followed by “Christmas wish list,” and “Christmas spirit.”  The words “present” and “shopping” didn’t even make it into this year’s top 10. Where did they go?

Somewhere along the line, the more genteel word “gift” has replaced “present” and “spirit” has become something you search for.

Marketers take note.  As San Francisco-based Kontera surmised (they provided the analysis for this report), we are faced with more thoughtful consumers now.  And if they’re more thoughtful in their spending, you can bet that they are seeking value and meaning in their purchases.

It’s time to adjust those marketing messages for ’09.

Using Blogs for PR

February 20, 2009

by joseph.young.2009


Businesses usually use their blogs for product announcements and company culture posts. But the power of the blog is far stronger than those uses.

Many companies can’t afford to get airtime on tv, or even print in a local newspaper. When there are things they want to say that relate to the image of their company, a blog provides a professional yet casual space to talk candidly. A current case of this in practice is the Yelp blog post in response to a aggressive article published by the the East Bay Express. What’s great about the post is the professional but personable response by the CEO, that included the link to  the slandering article. He was comfortable talking to his users, and wanted to express the opinion of Yelp in response to the article.

When writing for your company blog, don’t forget that it’s more versatile than you think. Talking about company culture and product news is great, but use it as the entire voice of your company, not just those two points.

Apple Feats

February 19, 2009

by joseph.young.2009


“Apple Feats is an achievment system for developers of iPhone and iPod Touch applications. The Apple Feats business model is a dual licensing model. Feats is distributed under the GNU public license (GPL) with a clause that allows you to buy out the GPL with a commercial license. By releasing under GPL, Feats increases its distribution and userbase size. It also creates a standard for a rewards system for iPhone/iPod Touch developers who want to reward heavy users of their applications whether they are games, entertainment, productivity, or utility apps. Licensing costs will be used to maintain website and widgets to display users accumulated ‘Feats’ along with other statistics.”

This is not a real product (today). It is an elevator pitch for a new product that would benefit the iPhone/iPod Touch development community to increase user activity while adding a reward system to heavy users. It follows the business model of MySQL which we just covered in our Tech Strategy class. If you have feedback, please leave it in the comments. Let me know your thoughts.

How Dell will Revolutionize the Mobile Industry

February 6, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

I was reading one of my preferred blogs and came across some news that Dell is trying to decide between Windows Mobile and Android for a potential mobile device.One quote that tipped me off was

“SAI also heard that the device would focus on ‘customization,’ whatever that means” – MG Siegler

“Customization” means that Dell is going to do for mobile phones what it did for the PC industry: just in time manufacturing.

The mobile industry has been making one-off designs for as long as I can remember. Though there where form factors that had lasting power, Motorola’s StarTac and Razr series, no cell phone company has standardized phone designs and operating systems. Dell will enter the mobile market with two popular form factors: candybar and slider.

The first is the candybar touchscreen. The leader in this form factor is Apple’s iPhone. It’s the gold standard that all other candybar touchscreen phones aspire to be.

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone

The other rumored form factor is the qwerty horizontal slider. Though there isn’t a design leader in this form factor, and the best one that comes to mind is the T-Mobile G1. Though it’s not a pure slider, it’s the best of the bunch.

t-mobile G1

t-mobile G1

With these two form factors, Dell will offer at least two operating systems. Windows Mobile will be targeted towards business users, and Android will be tarted towards the consumer. Dell can create a unified OS for the two operating systems so that using them can be very similar. The idea is to get customers used to the Dell smartphone. It can have the design team that worked on the Studio line of laptops work on the phone too. By knowing your form factor and your operating system, Dell can create products almost as well as a vertically integrated company (Apple).

If these initial shapes and OS’s are succesful, Dell will most likely attack all segments of the market quickly to capture as much market share as possible. They may also try to integrate Symbial s60 into their phones as well. At that point, Dell would only need to focus on hardware design and integration with a limited number of platforms. The combinations for customers is tremendous though. Three operating systems and four form factors results in 12 different devices. But from the manufacturing standpoint, it’s all the same. The only difference is the firmware you load on all the last minute with region and OS specific cables and documentation.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) Done Right: Jack in the Box

February 5, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

Watching the Jack in the Box Superbowl ad seemed regular enough. A cliffhanger ad with a website URL as the call to action. Nothing special.

But going to the website, you recognize that they’ve done something great with it. They’ve taken advantage of social media tools to make the site feel more authentic and create an experience for users. The SMM tools used on the site: Blog, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, comment boxes, video comment submissions. Quite an impressive array of SMM tools. But more interesting than the number of SMM tools used, is the fact that they’re used properly. The YouTube videos shot with a handcam effect. The tweets are timed before and after the accident to show a change in character and and explanation as to what’s happening. This campaign keeps the Jack in the Box users engaged. It also keeps Jack in the Box at the top of their minds when they’re thinking of a fast food restaurant to eat at. That’s how it really succeeds.

The goal of SMM is the same as any other marketing: get the customer to buy. It’s just a new tool in your toolbox. Only use it in certain situations.

Brands Through Time

January 5, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

In the process of my recent move, I came across some products that have survived several decades on the market. It was interesting to see these products still in the market and the changes that have occured.

The first product is Windex, a liquid based glass cleaner.

I assure you that the fluid in the right and left bottles are both Windex. Though the older formula doesn’t have the bright blue color of the new bottle, they both clean glass surfaces well. Some interesting things I noticed: The old Windex was owned by Drackett. The product was targeted at businesses, with its positioning statement reading through in the three bullet points at the bottom of the bottle. Also, the bottle lists the businesses that could benefit from the product: food service, hotels, motels, hospitals, office buildings, nursing homes, schools.

The bottle on the left shows a recent branding of the product. It’s definitely targeted at the consumer these days, and no longer a B2B product. The owner of the Windex brand is now SC Johnson, another chemical company. It’s interesting that both bottles use the word, “institutional” as a descriptor for the product. The value proposition has definitely changed, with the focus being on “streak-free” these days. Another thing to notice is how the new bottle and nozzle are better designed for ergonomics. A small change but important.

Next up, we have Cut-Rite, a wax paper product.



The older Cut-Rite box was owned by Scott, a paper company (best guess). It’s interesting to see that the price was so prominently labed on the old packaging and is non-exhistant in the current packaging. With promotions and coupon constanting change the prices of goods today, it would be hard to put a price permenantly on a product these days. Looking at the old box, you see a lot of advertisements for complementary products. A wall dispenser for your wax paper. A mug set for “soup ‘n’ beverage.” My best guess is that these were products that Scott had a partership with to collect royalties off sales. They would advertise the products, have them sold by another manufacturer, and then collect royalties off sales. I doubt they were selling the space on their box as pure advertising space.

The recent packaging for Cut-Rite shows that it is now owned by Reynolds. Instead of an easy to read price, you have an easy to scan barcode. In lieu of partner products, the box is covered with informational material on other applications for wax paper. Everyone knows that you can use wax paper to bake with, but did you know that it’s also great for reheating products and protecting kitchen services. If selling the consumer complementary products didn’t work, just get them to use up this product sooner so they have to buy more!

The biggest takeaway from these products is the idea of constantly improving, even when you’re the market leader. These objects are tools. Tools to help you clean, cook, or even protect your kitchen service. A close friend told me the other day in a conversation, “a tool can always be replaced.” And it’s true. If you don’t find ways to make yourselfe valuable, someone else will come out with something better and replace you. Never rest on your laurels.

Stumbled Upon Sites

December 16, 2008

by joseph.young.2009

I ran into a bunch of new and exciting website links. I thought I’d share them with everyone who doesn’t already have their day filled with next generation business news. Here goes…


Source: startup.partnerup.com


All about startups, entrepreneurs, and small business. All the time.


Source: truemors.com


A rumor spreading website.


Online webisodes blog. I never knew there was so much dang web content. And of good quality!


Source: vimeo.com


Conversations amongst friends. Unscripted. On tape.

I don’t have nearly the amount of time to read all this content. Anyone want to follow it and share their google reader shared items with me? Otherwise, I’m going to miss stuff on it.

Creating a Logo that Prints

December 15, 2008

by joseph.young.2009

I haven’t come across this material in any of my courses (I haven’t taken Marketing Communication with Professor Gneezy yet), but I have run into it recently when the company I work for decided it was time to rebrand. We were coming up with a new logo because the old brand looked old, too nerdy, and printed poorly. It didn’t work in a 1″ x 1″ space (which it needs to do for a lot of collateral). The intricacy of the log was lost and muddled when reduced to such a small footprint, and the coloring didn’t translate well to B&W.

While thinking about this problem, I had a tasty treat to stimulate my mind. In doing so, I came across a logo that was very well thought out. Let’s see why.

I Love Honey

I Love Honey

Pardon the quality of the photo. The macro capabilities of the iPhone suck. Regardless, beyond the Haagen-Dazs logo, there’s the new “Haagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees” or “HD <3 HB” for short (‘<3’ is a sideways heart for those who don’t know) in the top left. As a logo on the cover of cap of the sorbet, the logo doesn’t stand out as something that is that special. But look at these two additional photos.

HD <3 HB Bottom

HD <3 HB Bottom

HD <3 HB Side

HD <3 HB Side

Now that you’ve seen the cap from all three sides, something should stand out. The logo prints great in color, B&W gradient, and in B&W solid; all on a small surface. When we picked out our new logo, I tried my best to make sure that the logo would satisfy all of these conditions.

When looking to create a logo for you company, you have to always remember that it’s not just something that you enjoy looking at, but also something that can be easily placed on all the collateral your company will be handing out. Can it be printed in letterhead? On a keychain? On a t-shirt? On a 20 foot banner? If so, then you have a good logo. If not, it’s not the end of the world; it just restricts the versatility of your logo.

Did you Hulu it?

November 17, 2008

by joseph.young.2009


Source: wikipedia.org

Two things recently happened to me relating to Hulu. The first happened last night when I was talking to a classmate at Rady about the most recent episode of The Office, and a funny bit about “microgement.” The gist of the conversation went as follows:

Joseph, it sounded like Jim just messed up the line in the show.

Did you Hulu it? I think he intentionally made up the word.

Did you just call me a name?

My classmate had not heard of Hulu yet. But shortly afterwards, we were able to confirm that it was “microgement” and not “micromanagement.” But how is this different than trying to look it up you YouTube? 1. It’s legal, the show is posted by NBC, and Hulu created tools to allow sharing clips via e-mail and social networks easy. Very easy. 2. The video quality is great. I can’t emphasize this enough. What makes Hulu stand out from YouTube is that the production and video quality is high. Some people thought that YouTube meant the end of television. Partially because you could watch illegally uploaded television there, but partially because people thought that there was enough good user generate content to overwhelm network television. They were wrong. As I’ve emphasized before, it just means that crappy content goes to the wayside, and great content rises to the top. Whether it’s in games, movies, television or any other form of entertainment.

The second interesting tidbit about Hulu is that it’s on the tipping point of going huge. Becoming genericized. I’m definitely not the first person to say this. But within the span of 12 months, Hulu has gone from the top 100,000 websites in the world, to the top 400. There’s a shift in the consumer’s mindset who now considers Hulu as a network rather than a portal. You can watch what you want, when you want (some limitations), and in great quality. And all you have to do is sit through a couple of 30 second commercials.

While I’m on this topic, there are some people that are understanding how to advertise on Hulu, and other who do not quite get it yet. The one who gets it is the team running Christina Aguilera‘s advertising campaign. Tradition television take a commercial and blasts it at the consumer over and over again. We’re smarter than that (at least we think). So if you play the same commercial over and over again, I’m going to take a 30 second break between segments rather than a 2 minute break, or fastforward. Christina’s crew created 4 separate 30 second commercials that formed a single 2 minute commercial that was unique and kept me interested. I’m much less likely to go on a bio break if I know the commercial is a continuation of a whole mini-show that happens to be a commercial.

Hulu did television on the internet right. Other’s are sure to follow with competitors, or if they’re smart, partnerships with Hulu. There’s already great technology and leadership behind them. It’d only be smart to build your own site if you have deep pockets.

Play Conference and New Business

November 15, 2008

by joseph.young.2009


Source: playconference.org

Attending the Play Conference at UC Berkeley brought about a key insight about business school that ties in to the new way of thinking. Intelligence is moving away from knowledge and moving towards algorithms.

Growing up in a Google world, people learn about information via tools rather than concrete facts. A growing population thinks about intelligence as how quickly you can access data. If we can pull it from memory, retrieval time is in milliseconds. If we can’t think of an answer in memory, the growing Google thought process is to use an algorithm (proper question) to get the information we want. This pushes out our knowledge beyond what’s stored in our brain to what we can find very quickly on the internet.

The same is true for business. Instead of pure skill set that you can bring to a company, it is also about surrounding yourself and the ability to find people to complete your team. Sites such as LinkedIn allow people to have a Rolodex in their head, or computer, or phone, or on the Internet. What makes it great is that it allows you to find people beyond your knowledge base via networks. Again, we use algorithms to find the right person for the job.

Business school (especially a full time program) allows people to build their network and learn tools for enrichment. Rady has afforded me the ability to meet a top class of talent who I will tap in my future business endeavors. Beyond that, they provide me with their network so that I can hire trusted employees who will help my businesses succeed.

Creating a Brand Ecosystem

November 9, 2008

by joseph.young.2009

A brand (or business) ecosystem allows customers to live in your brand constantly transitioning from product to product or service to service, or a hybrid of the two. Here are some examples.

Microsoft Windows and Office keep your productivity in the Microsoft brand. Moving between the different applications, Word, Outlook, Excel allow you to do what you need to do everyday under the Microsoft umbrella. You’re become engrained in your workflow that requires Microsoft products indefinitely.

Google does the same thing, wrapping the majority of what you do on the internet in the Google brand. Searching is now “googling,” news is google news or google reader, workflow is moving online in google docs. You spend enough time there, and you’re living in the Google ecosystem.

Game have tried this in the past, but now they’re a larger push. I believe this is a result of general content improving on all levels, requiring people to work harder to keep their audience’s attention. One case of this is between Fable II and Fable II Pub Games. The player could play the Xbox Live Arcade game (secondary interface) before the game came out and allow them to build up a gold balance to spend in the main game (primary interface), Fable II. Another recent attempt is in Tiger Woods 09. They’re tying a cellphone game and console game to keep you thinking about golf all day long. The result of these campaigns should see increased sales over other titles. Fable II is off to a great start selling 1.32M units in just a few weeks. The affect of the new cellphone title on Tiger Woods 09 should be iteresting to watch. Last year they sold under 1M units on a single SKU with Tiger Woods 08. Let’s see if the ecosystem can get the title back over the 1M unit mark on a signle SKU like they did back in 04 and 05.

Great Social Marketing Primer

November 3, 2008

by joseph.young.2009

If you’re new to social marketing or are a veteran, this is one of the best presentations I’ve heard about the new channel for marketing. Very honest and accurate video. Professor Karsten covered this material for an entire session during Research for Marketing Decisions course, but this is a great complement.

Motion Pictures Copying Video Games

October 26, 2008

Those of us hitting our thirties and forties (men mostly) have grown up with two things: video games and motion pictures. By motion pictures I mean television and movies. And by video games, I mean the stuff on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and SNES (Super NES). Back in the SNES days, I was introduced to franchises. One that always rings fondly is the Final Fantasy Series. The great thing about a franchise is that you can do any number of storyline and characters without people ever becoming disinterested. Think of any great sports franchises. The Lakers, the Raiders, the Yankees. Any of these franchises are so powerful that they attract an increasing number of viewers (families and generations) every season (year). Video games publishers look for the same thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Presidential Brand Personalities

October 25, 2008

Advertising Age ran an interesting, albeit light, article about Obama vs. McCain as brand personalities.  I suspect that the survey itself is deeply flawed (if they provided the brands under consideration, they de facto shrank the consideration set and prejudiced the answers) but it’s still a good illustration of the brand personality concept.

How do you see Barack Obama?

Innovating in Established Markets: Candy Buckets

October 23, 2008

by joseph.young.2009

With Halloween around the corner, I thought I’d treat our readers to a new segment. I get really excited about innovation. I guess that’s why I work in the technology sector. But innovation is more than Web 2.0 and Software-as-a-Service. It’s about finding a solution to a problem, new or old. It’s always amazing to see products stand out in established markets where people believe there’s no more room for growth because one company has significant market share. It’s partially an underdog mentality, but also the belief that you can do better than what’s out there. I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways from the New Product Development course at Rady.

While shopping for halloween costumes, I came across the candy buckets that kids usually tote around to each house, holding their treasures. Growing up, these things were pretty basic. An orange plastic bowl with a black strap. I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone improved upon the old design. The pain with the old products were their lack of sturdiness, as well as the difficulty in emptying out the candy at the end of the night. The solution? A more durable bucket with an upsidedown hing to pour the candy out the bottom. Brilliant! The photos below show a new Elmo candy bucket that conveniently opens at the bottom.

Happy Halloween!

SuperSaiYoung@flickrSource: SuperSaiYoung@flickr


Source: SuperSaiYoung@flickr

The Smear Campaign… Between Apple and Microsoft

October 20, 2008

by joecool79

If you haven’t seen the newest Apple commercials, you should take a look. The tired method of comparing a Mac to a PC is getting a bit dirty. Apple’s recent campaigns have been a direct attack on Microsoft. In response, Microsoft created a campaign to illustrate that PC users are not just old, stoggie ment in tan coats. And I think they did a good job of it. They such a good job, that Steve had to come back and swing low.

I’m not siding with either camp, mind you. But the fact that Apple’s taking a direct jab at Microsoft for spending money on advertising is a bit hypocritical. Apple has been using TV commercials to promote their products and services for years, and spending tons of money doing so. Watching game 7 of the ALCS, I was bombarded with commercials for the MLB app for the iPhone/iPod touch. I doubt that ad time is cheap, and with all the problems with MobileMe, maybe the company that should be spending less money on advertising and more money on bug fixing is Apple. I only say this because recent reports of Windows Vista indicate that it’s closer to what Microsoft original promised, rather than the half-baked OS that came out initially.

Video Games as Advertising Channels is Here

October 16, 2008

With the election less than 3 weeks away, the media blitz to create political awareness and convincing is in full swing. Traditionally this is through print, radio, television. You know, the traditional mediums. In 2004, advertising on the web was the hot thing. Howard Dean’s grassroots campaign saw plenty of banner ads. But that was 2004. What’s happening in 2008?

Read the rest of this entry »

HP as a Jump-Start for Start-ups

September 24, 2008

For the last year, Hewlett-Packard has been fleshing out its brand with its “What do you have to say?” campaign. So far it has positioned HP’s hardware as tools for self-expression. Competitively, this encroaches on Apple’s position in the personal computer space and elicits comparisons. Not a bad move to be the PC option in the same consideration set as Apple. But I’m not sold yet. I’d like to see what the ROI was on those gorgeous Gwen Stefani ads. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Atari will Succeed

September 19, 2008

Source: lastshepard.wordpress.com

Reading about the Phil Harrison interview yesterday, anyone in the game industry would see Atari‘s forward thinking strategy. The focus of the company moving forward will be based on digital distribution and new media (Facebook, iPhone, etc). Contrast this with the strategy of Gamestop and parts of EA, and you can tell why this is forward thinking.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wall Street and your 2009 marketing strategy

September 18, 2008

Based on current Wall Street and general economic trends, many of us will need to take a closer look at the business strategies we developed or re-confirmed this year. What potential risks have we overlooked?

In business, strategy must address any change in trends that affects our industry. The more significant the trend, the more urgent is the need for our attention and action. The new trends today for many industries are contraction and fear.

First, the fear.

This is America. We’re a nation of doers and we always work through our challenges, sometimes on sheer determination alone. Way back in 1776 Read the rest of this entry »

Android = Windows 3.1; Apple Inc. = Apple Computer Inc.

September 16, 2008

For those who haven’t already realized it yet, Android will be the next Windows 3.1. Aka, the dominant operating system on a platform (mobile). People are claiming that the OS X iPhone will be the next major OS for mobile because the iPhone/iPod touch have such great user experiences now. The only problem is that Steve will have the same problem now that he had back in 1991, Mac OS 7 was build for a closed system where Apple controlled both the hardware and software. This created a great user experience, but your audience was reduced because of the system was cost prohibitive for many customers, and because they were forced to live in the Apple ecosystem. Sounds pretty familiar to today eh? (iPod/iTunes/MobileMe/etc). It’s a great strategy if you can control the market. In the iPod case, it’ll be very difficult to dethrown the MP3 player.

But in the mobile space, Google’s Android will take the crown of leading mobile OS. Read the rest of this entry »

Content is King Regardless of Medium

September 16, 2008

If you ever follow the video game industry, there’s a saying going around these days, “Content is King.” For the past 10 years, technology has been what drives the games industry. The reach to get the most realistic environment for your story became what drove the industry. Nowadays we’re close enough. There are still those going for the last 10%. But on has given up goals oon graphics in one iteration to focus more on content. That company is Nintendo. They reduced their R&D on technology and cranked it way up on interactivity. The result is the Wii. And by the way they’re printing money these days, I think they made the right choice.

So going back to the original topic where “Content is King.” The realization is that games need great design and gameplay over great graphics. Read the rest of this entry »

TechCrunch50 – Differentiation in the DemoPit

September 13, 2008
Natalie Terashima o.b.o. FiveSprockets)

TC50 DemoPit (photo credit: Natalie Terashima o.b.o. FiveSprockets)

They billed it as the Sundance of tech conferences and they didn’t disappoint.  At least twice during TechCrunch50, I thought to myself, “Wow.  I just witnessed history being made.” (That distinction goes toSwype and tonchidot which, I swear, was straight out of Minority Report.)

But for those tech companies that weren’t showcased on stage like the chosen 50 and instead had to pay to exhibit, it was a much bigger challenge getting their voices heard.  Read the rest of this entry »

Why the iPhone/iPod Touch will Succeed as a Gaming Platform

September 10, 2008

Most readers by now have read or heard about the new iPod Nano 4G and the iPod Touch 2D. It’s kind of hard to miss with the blogosphere buzzing like a bee waiting for Queen Bee Steve Jobs to announce what product you will want next and how it will revolutionize your life. The latest announcement has a strong push on games and the touch platform as a serious contender for a gaming platform. But they aren’t the first cellphone manufacturer to try and create a gaming platform for the cellphone. And they definitely won’t be the last. So why will Apple succeed where others have failed?

Read the rest of this entry »

Network Marketing as a Business

August 29, 2008

In the past year, I have been invited and attended two network marketing events. For those unfamiliar with network marketing, it is often referred to as a “pyramid scheme” or “multi-level marketing.” Most recently, I heard it described as “empire building.” Regardless of what you call it, here are the things I’ve identified from it (having not read the full Wiki entry):

1. It’s purported as a way to gain financial independence.

2. It’s usually put on by older people who have been in the business for a long time and have now achieved a high level within the network.

3. There are more and more people showing up to these events since the economy is in a downturn.

4. It’s often described as, “work when you want, where you want.”

I’m not going to go into the process of elaborating on any of these topics, or disputing them. What I would like to talk about is how it plays on a type of marketing which is now becoming a very hot topic, word of mouth (WOM) marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft’s new brand character is…a middle-aged guy from the 90’s?

August 22, 2008

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a $300 million dollar Windows advertising campaign intended to boost the brand perception of its beleaguered Vista operating system.  This is surely counterprogramming to Apple’s highly successful Mac vs. PC ads which feature John Hodgman as the frumpy, stuffy, middle-aged personification of PC (i.e. Microsoft and Windows).

Their new brand ambassador in this campaign?  Jerry Seinfeld.  Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in a Name?

August 21, 2008

Recently, I was helping a friend try to figure out a name for a mobile software start—up. The field’s so crowded with ventures now that it’s not easy to pick a name that hasn’t already been taken. And it’s even harder to avoid names that are too techy, too cutesy, too clunky or just too, well, plain. The only thing we were certain of was not taking a regular word and starting it with the letter “i.”

After umpteen passes with random imagination we decided to take a different approach. Rather than just brainstorm names, we would first identify the qualities we thought would constitute a good name so we had something against which to judge our ideas. Here’s what we came up with:

FLEXIBLE — A word with multiple meanings and interpretations. Better yet — a word that can be used as a verb or a noun. Not only does this open up more possibilities for your marketing communications, it gives your design team a lot more options. At one point we had gone down the road of fly—fishing imagery (tangential, yes, but we still think it’s cool) and words like “fly,” “lure,” and “catch” all fit this bill.

EVOCATIVE — You want a name that conjures up interesting imagery. Imagery that will be powerful in telling your story and conveying your brand image. Words attached to common metaphors (like “window,” “door,” “sky”) are also more apt to translate internationally. But beware: you also want to conjure up the right imagery. One name that we came up with was quickly squashed by the graphic designer because the first thing it made her think of was the creature in Alien. Not so friendly. Google got this one right with the name of their new mobile platform, Android, even if it is a bit scary. Flickr got it right too. And Richard Branson really got it right with Virgin.

WE LIKE TO SAY IT — Maybe it’s hard to quantify this, but we all know it when we hear it. There are onomatopoeic words like “sizzle.” Words with hard sounds like “hatch” and “jot.” And just plain goofy words that are fun to say like “Google,” “Zoho” and “Twitter.”

AVAILABLE DOMAIN & DEFENSIBLE — a minor detail (heh)

We never did come up with a name. I think the lawyers are duking it out over a bunch of second string ideas. Turned out the one we liked most were too polarizing. But, we still think these are useful guidelines for those of you undertaking the Sisyphean task of naming your start—up. Good luck.

New Product Development Spotlight

August 18, 2008

This is not a regular segment, but there is a company who’s products are standing out to me. A company that’s using empathetic design or the groundswell to lead their product development cycle.


They have products that really show they understand the customer’s perspective. Whether it’s a washable mouse (with great marketing story), or a zip-up mousepad, or a USB hub with a clip, all the products show thought as to how they’re used in the real-world, and how they’re solving problems that people have with these products, or the modifications they make themselves.

Great Job Belkin!

Differentiation in Airlines

August 18, 2008

I think a lot of airlines are in the old world thinking that their service is flying people from one place to another. They believe that what people are paying for now is an airplane taxi. And for some that is true. They will  go for the lowest price as a differentiator to show that they can get you from point to point the cheapest. The flight may not always be on time; and they might not have the most amenities, but they are cheap, and they’ll get you there, as long as you’re flexible.

Then there are those that realize that flight is now thought of as pure transportation. Read the rest of this entry »

Now Rocking My Phone

August 12, 2008

by atremble

Last month Pandora launched an iPhone application that has revolutionized a corner of my world. The service is already the 4th most popular application on the phone (first in music) and it drove a record 3.3 million songs streamed in one weekend to iPhone listeners alone. Yet it has no ads. Given that Pandora’s revenue model depends on clever advertising with high CPMs, how can Pandora afford the royalties and bandwidth? One explanation is to view the launch as a massive—and massively successful—marketing expense until the user base can be monetized.

It’s not yet clear how Pandora and Apple plan to do this. Read the rest of this entry »

Sales & Marketing…can’t have one without the other. Part I.

July 28, 2008

We all know that Marketing is the center of the business universe. But, sometimes, to be successful in our trade we have to set aside our own egos for a few seconds and stroke someone else’s, like Sales, for example. Sales’ folks would argue that they’re second to none because without them there would be no revenue stream and hence no business. True. And thus, we could argue to eternity which function supersedes the other in importance. Now, let’s pause for a moment and re–think our role as marketers. From personal experience, working at a start–up with very limited resources, I’ve come to realize that it’s a commensal relationship. Sales and Marketing are like, as the song goes “love and marriage…like a horse and carriage…can’t have one without the other…”

In recent months, I’ve spent considerable time working on my product line. Read the rest of this entry »

Mom was right. Listen before you speak.

July 27, 2008

I came across the following post on Ad Age, Digital Next:

“Old habits die hard. While consumers are out there spending countless hours on social networks, file sharing applications, chat, community sites, buying stuff, selling stuff and using multiple devices, some of us tradigital old fogies are still reaching for our beloved toolbox of the past in the hopes of getting their attention…Little did we know that the real action happens in the comments. Have we thought about talking back to people or are we really just interested in telling our stories?”

I think this is a great question to ask — and one that should be taken a step further. Why are companies so much more interested in talking, rather than listening?

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Is our brain like a muscle?

July 22, 2008

Check out this recent post by Prof. Amir on Scientific American Mind:

The human mind is a remarkable device. Nevertheless, it is not without limits. Recently, a growing body of research has focused on a particular mental limitation, which has to do with our ability to use a mental trait known as executive function. When you focus on a specific task for an extended period of time or choose to eat a salad instead of a piece of cake, you are flexing your executive function muscles. Both thought processes require conscious effort-you have to resist the temptation to let your mind wander or to indulge in the sweet dessert. It turns out, however, that use of executive function—a talent we all rely on throughout the day—draws upon a single resource of limited capacity in the brain….

Here is a link to the rest:http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=tough-choices-how-making

I’ve got the Product Marketing Manager job, now what?

July 21, 2008

by startupmarketingdiva

Congratulations. You’ve just finished B-school, and have successfully transitioned “from the bench to business” with your new job as Product Marketing Manager / Product Manager. You’re going to be overseeing the development and launch of product or service X at this start-up you’ve joined. It’s your second day at work (because the first day was taken up with HR) and you’re about to go into your first meeting with your new boss. What do you do? What do you need from her to get you off and running in the right direction? Read on.

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Productivity Tools and how they can help you in your [marketing] profession

July 15, 2008

In the recent months, I’ve been on the road for business quite a bit. I’ve discovered, with a little help from a few friends, some great websites and resources to help me survive my busy schedule and the demands of my new profession. I want to share those findings with you now.

While I love technology, I’m not a technorati for the sake of being one. The tools I adopt have to serve a particular need in my life at that moment. .. Read the rest of this entry »

Product Marketing Management

July 9, 2008

Many people would argue that titles don’t really matter. Perhaps. But, if they do matter, what do they mean? Transitioning into my new career as a “Marketing Professional,” I needed to first decode the numerous marketing titles I came across on various job websites to clearly understand the job function, before applying to a particular job. When I began to understand the role of a Product Marketing Manager, I knew I had found my calling for the time being.

Being a PMM in a small company is like being an entrepreneur with funding already secured. It’s akin to the next step in the “Lab-to-Market” course which occurs after you’ve pitched your idea to investors and secured funding — the phase where you get to move your idea from the concept phase into the development phase and then launch it into the marketplace. The only difference is that it’s not your idea that you get to develop and take to market. But, if you’re looking to take your own idea to market one day, experience as a Product Marketing Manager in a start-up company is probably the best preparation for future success.

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Revenue Models for Online Entities – Strategy vs. Exit

July 9, 2008

by radymarketingon

A critical issue for Internet startups is how to turn the cool idea into revenue. Acknowledging that in the past this was less of a concerns, here is an entrepreneur who discusses this issue in an interesting way as they pertain to his venture ( blog post ).

The bottom line, whether you plan an early exit or not, the revenue model should be an integral part of the strategy!

3C, Slogans and Wal-Mart

June 25, 2008

Wal-Mart’s has been using and investing marketing dollars in their “Always low prices” slogan for over 19 years which resulted in a strong recognition in consumers — over 60% in a survey recognized the slogan as Wal-Mart’s. But in 2006-2007 Wal-Mart had some changes in their 3C namely:

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Research Corner – The Power of an Apology

June 5, 2008

We’ve all been there. That frustrating moment in which we find out that the contract for our cellular phone is not as straightforward as we believed it to be, or that the warranty for our laptop covers everything, except for the one single problem we are having with it. These kinds of frustrations and disappointments have become an integral part of consumers’ lives, and may take the form ineffective customer support, long lines, mouse print in contracts, etc. Bottom line is that such ‘treatment’ on the part of marketers is likely to affect the way consumers behave.

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Benchmarking from the Back of an Envelope

June 5, 2008

Knowing what your competitors spend on marketing can be immensely valuable. As a challenger brand against a major incumbent, for example, or as a market leader entering a new region, your competitors’ marketing budgets often define your strategy. They inform how much you spend, what you spend it on, and where you spend it. Remember that marketing is an operating expense. Too much kills profit yet too little kills businesses. This post explains a back-of-the-envelope approach to rapidly estimate how much your competitors spend on marketing.

The goal of this analysis is to isolate marketing from SG&A using a series of four estimates, then use heuristics—guides for speculation—to refine your numbers. Start by pulling 10Ks for your public competitors. If the major players in your industry are not public companies, pick several nearest neighbors and I’ll provide guidance for adjustments later on. From the income statement, record three key figures: revenue, SG&A, and advertising spending (usually tucked away in notes, but required in the 10K).

Starting with revenue, base your first estimate on common-sized analysis. The Global 1000 spend an average of 6% of their revenue on marketing. My experience in technology is that this figure ranges from 4 to 7%. Knowing your own firm’s common-sized marketing budget will inform you as to where in this range your competitors are most likely to fall. There are other simple heuristics to consider as well. Consumer-focused industries tend to spend more on marketing and less on sales. Larger companies achieve economies of scale that smaller (and many private) companies cannot, therefore often spending less on marketing as a percent of revenue. Finally, current marketing activities like sustained national advertising can inflate budgets and distort single-year comparisons.

Your second estimate is marketing as a multiple of advertising. In technology, my experience is that marketing budgets are usually 3 to 5 times advertising. Again, scale can increase this multiple (advertising becomes less costly) and a consumer focus can lower it (a greater portion of marketing goes to conventional advertising). Competitors focused on emerging markets, where advertising is cheaper, can also afford to spend proportionally less.

Your third estimate is an application of your company’s ratios to your competitors. What would they be spending if their common-sized marketing ratio and advertising multiple were equivalent to yours? How do their heuristics of scale, sales composition, and geography compare with yours?

The fourth and final estimate is built from industry research. Analysts often estimate total marketing spend across industries and you can break this up by company market share or share of voice. Media clearinghouses often calculate ad spending by segment and this can be used for proportional budget estimates between firms or in relation to public data. Use industry research of this type to ground your assumptions.

Finally, be cautious with your sources. Asian accounting standards often include R&D with SG&A, which confounds this approach. Reported advertising figures are rarely pure and may include other activities such as direct marketing. Knowing your industry and its dominant forms of marketing will sharpen your results.

The estimates above will provide a range of values for each company in your analysis. Collectively applied, heuristics such as the examples I provided are sufficient to indicate where in the range each of your competitors’ actual spending is most likely to fall. The goal isn’t perfect accuracy, but a sound approach that will quickly get you in the right ballpark for insightful decisions. A little digging and informed judgment will help you deliver.

How is the making of an American Idol like the marketing of a new venture?

May 27, 2008

Allow me to make the bold claim that the two are more alike than you think, and that making the comparison may be useful in fleshing out the principles of good marketing, that is, marketing that works.

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Marketing yourself…

May 25, 2008

This blog entry is here to remind everybody that marketing isn’t just for marketing professionals. Like negotiating, it’s something that everyone does in their life and what it takes to be successful at it pretty much comes down to creativity, preparation and practice. However, I think it’s easy to forget how the basics of marketing apply to real life situations. Since several of us are out looking for jobs (full-time or internships), I thought I would comment on how marketing yourself for a new job fits into the 3C’s & 4P’s framework and, over the next few weeks I’ll go into more detail in each category and how you can develop a strategy to make yourself stand apart from the competition.

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A New Chapter for Apple?

May 21, 2008

The Apple brand is going to have to start telling a new story soon.

In the 1980s, Apple launched their “1984” ad. They were not just introducing the new Mac brand with this campaign, but also a new product category — the personal computer. Apple portrayed their product launch as something groundbreaking, revolutionary and — at least metaphorically — heroic. The words: “…why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” The pictures: a female athlete hurls a sledgehammer and destroys the image of Big Brother. In filmmaking, this storyline falls under the superhero genre. Someone or something comes along to overcome incredible odds and save us. That’s what Apple promised and that’s what Apple did.

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The Top Five Marketing Insights I Got From B-School

May 20, 2008

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my business school experience was like drinking from a fire hose. I was exposed to so many theories, concepts and studies that I had a hard time keeping them all straight for exams, much less applying them months or years later. I despaired at my inability to judge which piece of recommended reading or which hallway aside would someday prove to be the difference between bountiful success and tragic failure. I wanted the quick and dirty solutions that I knew came with study, experience and adversity. I wanted shortcuts. I didn’t get them.

What I did get was a job marketing video games. It’s a dream job, since I’m getting paid to work in an industry I diligently supported for years. What I’ve learned in the last year or so that I’ve been at it is that I actually did get a lot of great information in and out of class. The basics were right on the money — the three C’s and the four P’s and CRM and ROI are all terms and concepts I use every day. And don’t even get me started on the web marketing acronyms — SEO and PV and PPC, RON and ROS. It makes my eyes hurt sometimes. Beyond the fundamentals and the industry specific details, though, there were little peripheral pieces of information I picked up that have come in extremely handy. I’d like to share a few of them here in the hope that they may benefit others.

1) Be The Champion

This one seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve found it’s critical to be very clear about why my products rule to internal and external stakeholders. I’m responsible for two games in our corporate portfolio. One is a dependable earner with a rich tradition in our company and in the industry. It’s also got a very small marketing budget. The other is the new hotness, a sexy property that is instantly identifiable and has loads of potential. It has a ‘AAA’ marketing budget. Every day I have to justify why the first product deserves more love, money and attention and the second product deserves the love, money and attention it’s got.

2) Memorize Your Briefs

When I’m pitching a concept for a new promotion or for a piece of marketing collateral (like a commercial or a magazine ad), I always write a creative brief. I make sure that it’s extremely detailed and explains the purpose I hope to accomplish or the message I’m trying to communicate. I provide reference material, comparisons and even write out an example or two that I think would be worth exploring.

Long story short: Nobody will read your briefs. Not the ad agency you’re paying millions, not the lawyers who need to protect you from liability, not the business owners who share your fiscal responsibility. A good boss might read them and provide feedback, but don’t count on it. Just memorize them. Memorize them down to the last detail. When you’re in a meeting and nobody has read your briefs, the faster you can bring them up to speed on your brilliant ideas and keep everyone on task, the more likely you’ll be to get a result that you’re happy with.

3) Know Your Customer Inside & Out

On any given day I’m not just positioning games and services for consumers in the marketplace, I’m also interacting with multiple functions inside the business. I need to remember that the legal department has a different set of needs than the website group, and that the database team isn’t interested in the same details as business development. Find out the needs of the different functional groups in your organization as quickly as you can. I’m constantly changing the focus of my message depending on the audience. I find it’s the fastest way to get my initiatives implemented.

4) Branding Is Not Marketing

Marketing is when I push a message out to consumers. PR is when someone else tells you that message. Advertising is when the message gets repeated over and over again through multiple channels. Branding is when consumers come to me and ask me about my message. Guess which one I’m most interested in?

And my personal favorite…

5) Simple Stuff Works

When in doubt, go with something simple. Every industry has a list of best practices in marketing. Learn yours, and don’t be afraid to use them. There’s always a chance after work to brainstorm blue-sky, brilliant solutions that have a lot of moving parts, but when time is tight it’s good to know what works. Like blogs and lists, for example. Those work every time.

Microsoft Embraces Micro Segmentation, Acquires Yadata and Leaps Ahead In Behavioral Targeting

May 19, 2008

Market Strategy

During Q4 2007, a couple of fellow students and I had the opportunity to put a market strategy together for a small Israeli market data technology start-up. We took a look at micro segmentation, behavioral targeting and cross-platform advertising campaigns.


YaData develops unique algorithms and rankings systems to help the market research neophytes, and time-starved VPs, uncover customer potential. The YaData software carefully sifts through vast quantities of data, culling groups that would otherwise fall prey to poorly targeted ad campaigns, or misaligned products that fail to satisfy needs. With more identifiable segments, everyone wins. Consumers receive more tailored campaigns for goods that are a better match to their needs, and goods are refined to meet more granular needs.

Micro Segments

The secret sauce in the YaData development lies in the ability to accurately identify smaller (micro) market segments within vast customer data sets. These are often difficult to identify, overlooked, and more difficult to reach. However, the pursuit has merit. As Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point and Blink, recently lectured: “In marketing, its the move from the search for universals to the understanding of variability”. Through embrace of this philosophy to recognize consumer delight as unique, we realize the need for micro segmentation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Movin’ On Up—From Labs To Offices

May 16, 2008

Welcome to my little corner of the Rady Marketing Blog. There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs out in cyberspace on marketing. So, how will my posts be any different and of interest to you?

Well, prior to becoming what I now call myself — a “marketing professional,” I was a scientist at the bench in a laboratory of a pharmaceutical company. I knew very little about marketing. My perception of marketing was that it was a ‘fluff’ job. After my first course in marketing — Introductory Marketing for MBA’s — I was sold on the topic and decided to focus on marketing as a future career goal. Nearing graduation and in search of a job in a marketing capacity, I searched the web to better understand my options and how my current skill set would best fit in within a particular marketing role, especially at a start-up. I was not able to find any particular blog with such a focus.

Read the rest of this entry »

Harnessing the Wisdom of Customers: Free Social Networking Tool Brings Companies Closer to Their Consumers

May 15, 2008

Connecting with Customers Quickly and Cheaply:
MBA students learn a few core marketing concepts over and over: First, we learn that customers are key to the development of any sound marketing strategy. Second, we learn the value of listening to customers and the wisdom of crowds. We also learn that the mere act of responding to a customer often increases loyalty. Unfortunately, maintating an ongoing customer dialogue can be both costly and time intensive. Social networking utilities are increasingly being used as a quicker and cheaper alternative to close the feedback loop. Read the rest of this entry »

Official launch!

May 5, 2008

If you are reading this — this may actually work! If you would like to contibute a post to our blog, please send me an email with the topic you would like to write about.

Welcome to the Rady Marketing Blog!

April 29, 2008

The Rady Marketing Blog is the communication medium for those of the Rady community that are interested in or are working in the area of marketing. It serves both as a direct communication tool and as a knowledge repository for marketing topics ranging from theory, through classroom, to the way things are actually done in the field. Students, Alumni, Faculty, and friends of the Rady School of Management are invited to read, write, and comment.

If you would like to contribute a post to our blog, please send me an email with the topic you would like to write about.


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