Archive for the 'Marketing Strategy' Category

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.

FacebookDesktop

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.

xpDesktop

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.

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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.

Making “Top Videos” Better

April 6, 2009

by joseph.young.2009

top-videos

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

ipodshuffle_original

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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 »

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 »

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 »

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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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