Archive for the 'Marketing Communication' Category

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.

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The Back Up Phone

June 22, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

virginmobilephones

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.

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

Self-Segmentation

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

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.

campbell-0414bjpg

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.

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

yelp-blog

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.

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.

Cut-Rite

Cut-Rite

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.

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

wikipedia.org

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.

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.

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?

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.

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 »

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 »

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.

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

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.

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