Month: March 2011

Keeping things spicy

This article about the hugely successful Old Spice campaign makes the point that Proctor & Gamble wasted a lot of opportunity when they allowed a database of more than 100,000 individuals to dissipate. The author says Old Spice spent millions on a highly integrated and sophisticated programme, and then let it lapse. They have, to paraphrase the article, not gone the distance, and as a result, he says, it will cost Old Spice a lot more to re-engage those people than it would if it had stayed in touch with them. Basically, we’re talking about follow-up here. DM101. Here’s the thing though. Successful direct marketing is all about going from 0 to many and then getting all the way back to 1, and staying there … profitably. • 0 to many gets you the mass attention to provoke a response and requires mass media and mass money. • Many to 1 requires sweat, data, detail and the ability to close. It needs databases, interaction, lots of number crunching and delivery. • Staying at 1 requires …

Pleased to meet you

This really thoughtful post by Associate Professor Rob Cross of the University of Virginia on building valuable networks caught my eye today. Specifically, I was drawn to the final para: If we are circulating too much with people we have known forever or people who themselves are all spending time in the same meetings and interactions, then we are not getting the performance impact … The magic lies in the new ideas and perspectives that can come from connections into different networks. The same point applies in many ways to the networks that brands build with their customers. If they are just selling the same goods, or even new goods, to the same community, then there is no contagion – no reason for the brand to spread interest and influence beyond those who already know it. A circle can quickly become a wall. The opportunity for brands is to introduce new ideas into their networks and marketing that ‘stretch’ those who know the brand well, but also serve to introduce and absorb new followers beyond …

Follow the money

So what are the chances that Charlie Sheen’s much publicised “breakdown” is a reality-style seeding exercise? Depends how cynical you are I guess. But it is an interesting coincidence isn’t it that within just a few days the man has created a larger-than-life controversy, attracted two million people to his Twitter account and now signed to the latest version of the celebrity endorsement. That seems very organised. Serendipity? You decide. One of the key principles of direct marketing is to always work back from the result. And I think it was David Ogilvy’s mantra to say as much as you need to say in order to make the sale. Well, if the “sale” is Charlie Sheen as a wild-child pitchman on Twitter, mission accomplished. He’s said more than enough. And lawsuits and media statements guarantee there’s plenty more to come. And if the intended result was also a new sense of profile and validation for social media monetisation models, again mission accomplished. As this article points out: All the attention has brought a huge amount …

The strategy consulting dilemma

I remember having an animated discussion with the CEO of a professional services firm once about their right to take a market-leading position in problem solving. His resistance was based on the fact that, statistically, such work constituted a relatively small part of what they did, even though it was the work that the whole firm loved, and that they had built their reputation on. How can we claim for that work to exemplify what we do when it is a smaller proportion of our fees?, he asked me. Unless you want that trend to accelerate, how can you not make a stand in the market as the strategist of choice?, I replied. What do you want to be known for vs what you actually do the most. Or as Rolling Stone put it so brilliantly: Perception vs reality. This review of the state of strategy consulting suggests the dilemma was not his firm’s alone. Strategy is still the poster-activity for the smart set, but more and more firms are finding that strategy, while still …

Tea and Coke

An interesting piece on how organic beverage company Honest Tea might fare as part of the Coke empire. As is observed here, so often these brand acquisitions are a disaster. The very essence of the brands that saw them lapped up in the first place is squeezed out by multi-nationals in their hunt for a return on their investment. Unable to act as quickly as they had when they were growing on their own, and often without the inspiration and commitment of their entrepreneurial founders, the brands quickly wither. Doesn’t seem to have happened in this case. At least not yet. Powered by the massive production and marketing muscle of Coke, Honest Tea’s sales have skyrocketed. But their key challenge going forward will be to keep customers convinced that Honest Tea has not been compromised ethically; that everything the brand stands for, and believes in, the promise inherent in its name, still holds and that their new master will continue to allow them to hold and espouse their own views. Opportunities and challenges for Coke …

Reaching the social consumer

New media guru Brian Solis has filed this excellent article on what some are predicting to be branding’s next key customer: the social consumer. Based on research from attendees at The Pivot Conference, there are a number of key out-takes: Social media has a strong in-house bias and is the biggest responsibility for marketing/advertising teams. But while marketing dominates social media responsibility right now, Solis’ view is that “social media will extend the capacity of any business unit or division affected by outside behavio[u]r.” So expect to see social media making its presence felt in PR, sales, customer service, even investor relations … If Solis is right – and there’s no reason to doubt him – that means companies will need to hard-wire social media into their lead and sales generation processes and into their customer and stakeholder response systems. My view is that some functions will find this easier than others. The significant benefits of course are timeliness and efficiency. But based on research I’ve seen in the investor relations’ space for example, this …

Stars and scandals

I’m not a huge one for the ins and outs, behaviours and otherwise of the fashion world (preferring to leave such pursuits in the experienced hands of friends like Jack), but I did take some note of the recent John Galliano scandal because it highlights the risk that brands take when they associate themselves so closely with an individual who is a brand in their own right. It’s not always bad of course. Steve Jobs turned up for the iPad2 launch, and everyone took heart. The stock price even went up. And in fashion, most would agree I think that designers like Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfield have done wonders for the brands they are associated with. Galliano too up until this point. But how quickly, and dramatically, things can change. Almost every brand today it seems is just one YouTube clip away from a crisis. And when things go wrong in this kind of situation, there is fallout on three levels: the individual’s brand suffers; the employer’s brand suffers; and the halo effect that …

Cult branding: Developing a scarcity strategy

In a world dominated it seems by the push for scale and mass coverage, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the smartest thing you can do is the polar opposite: develop a deliberately limited edition brand that shuns the mainstream. I’ve written about this a number of times – here’s an example – and coined the phrase cultrepreneurs to describe those enterprising individuals who have chosen to create and market brands with cult status. As this story about Julian Van Winkle and his Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery shows, there is nothing accidental about why his aged bourbon attracts a fervent following. I really liked the owner’s description of ‘a strategy of scarcity’. Here are just some of the ways Van Winkle builds cult status: The company deliberately stymies supply in order to raise cachet and lift returns. It’s one of the great ironies of cults that, beyond what you need to be viable, sometimes the less you produce, the more you make. As Van Winkle says he could unload two or three times what …

Lessons from Wikileaks

What’s Wikileaks really selling us? Access to information we deserve to see or the chance to participate in something that piques our curiosity? How many people have actually read the Wikileaks files – and at the end of the day, does it actually matter? Is Wikileaks important for what it says, what we’re told it says or what it claims to represent? Julian Assange has done a masterful job of linking his ‘product’ to some powerful and highly emotive causes: freedom of speech; censorship; government secrets, and of course persecution of the individual by the state. Big causes; global causes; causes that attract a committed audience; causes that broaden and deepen the Wikileaks’ brand story. In the process, of course, the brand has deftly snookered the authorities. If governments don’t express outrage at what Wikileaks has done, then they may encourage other persons with access to such files to release more leaks. If they do condemn the brand’s actions, that merely strengthens Wikileaks’ brand story as the modern day Robin Hood of free speech. In …