Month: July 2011

Sure you’re social, but are you interesting?

http://oceanadesigns.net/envira/fireplace-surrounds/ Fans matter, but friends of fans matter more it seems when it comes to spreading the word. According to this article in FastCompany, just 16% of company messages reach users in a given week, and the solution to that is to reach the friends of fans. So while Starbucks’s 23 million fans is impressive, the bulk of the numbers are the friends of those same fans: 670 million. In other words, you can tick all the boxes in terms of traffic and friends, but the real sphere of influence is actually at the next degree of contact – and the dynamic driving that is the somewhat old-fashioned notion of talkability. You may recall, some time back, the discussion about how many degrees of separation have strength in the social universe. How far into the network of friends of friends of friends do you have to go before the signals fade along with the trust? What this piece indicates to me is that two degrees out the message can be even stronger than it was at …

Is thinking a desk job?

http://jeanninemarie-blog.com/minnesota-wedding-photography/gibbs-farm/ Over at Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni asks :Where do you do your best thinking?” For me, it depends on the problem. And what I think and even how I think about something is directed by that. Here are my seven favourite approaches: 1. Sometimes it’s sitting somewhere quietly with a pencil and paper and just writing thought sequences down until something clicks. Usually that’s about rethinking the associations. Scrabble means charades with a touch of Pixar over a business model. 2. I read avidly for the same reason. It’s all about finding different lines of logic. Disrupting. That’s really good for new products or ideas where there is no precedent or if you need to put daylight between what normally happens and what will need to happen for the brand you’re working on. Read about a completely different situation, and then apply what you got from it. To find out more about this, read The Medici Effect. 3. Other times it’s a walk – to get sensory inputs such as eye contact, noises, colour, vistas. …

The vital (and ironical) difference between brand and identity

get link Are there such things as brands in much of the Government sector? I don’t think there are. That’s a good thing. And here’s why. I believe brands fundamentally require a competitive environment in which to actually work. I’m sure there’s an economic model that explains why – I don’t know it. But the reason why and when I believe brands work best has to do with the value I think they are intended to create: to drive preference; to encourage loyalty; to lift margin; to underpin and align a competitive and commercial business model with the people who believe in and buy from that organisation. Brands have to work to help consumers to make choices. They need to stimulate recognition, preference and loyalty based on interaction and clear senses of expectation and delivery. Therefore you need to have both choice and competition available. There are of course parts of the public and local government sector that are contestable – and there the dynamics of brand work well. Equally in the NGO sector, one of the …

Announcement: Now on Facebook

In a move that may surprise some after my recent posts, I’ve decided to make a move onto Facebook by starting a Mark Di Somma, Writer page. The main reason is that, in addition to providing a place for those who prefer to go to Facebook to get their stories, some of the topics/developments that catch my eye have ongoing coverage, and I see this page as an appropriate place to carry on threads of conversation that fall between a post and a tweet. For example, I’ve just linked to a story from Fast Company that concurs with my thinking around “war of the worlds” as it applies to the consolidation of social media. I’ve also linked to another story there about the growing awareness of CSR credentials for consumers and what that might mean for brands. I hope you’ll join in.  

Volume is nothing like intensity

Speculation in recent days about what a “fan” is worth to a business is a timely reminder to separate volume from intensity. Many commentators in the social universe it seems to me remain beguiled by quantity. The more liked you are, they seem to think, the more valuable you are potentially. Not so, of course. It costs nothing to say “like”. And in many cases I would venture to add, it means nothing and adds nothing. Intensity though is quite a different metric – because it speaks to commitment and the bottom-line results of that commitment rather than just impressions. Intense fans buy the brands they feel strongly about. Money changes hands. Intensity also defies volume. If you have customers who feel intensely committed to your brand, then you can have a much smaller, much less impressive number of them. Apple doesn’t have the biggest market share in a lot of the sectors it participates in, but it has perhaps the world’s most intense fans. And if a good percentage of those committed people only …

Competition amongst brands in the social universe: is it an open and shut case?

This thought-provoking Fast Company post calls into question something that I think most of us hadn’t even bothered to question – and that is whether in fact social media sites compete with one another. Google’s Eric Schmidt has argued for some time that this is not a zero-sum competition and that Google does not actively compete with other social networks, saying that everyone benefits when people spend more time online. As the article observes: “Social networks often confine user data to their websites, forcing users to stay within their ecosystem … Google, on the other hand, seems intent on exploiting its newfound popularity to force rivals into more open data policies.” The article goes on to reference Google’s Chief Economist admitting that their products want to push Google’s open standards on competitors. My sense is though that you always need to approach the concept of competition with an open mind. And that’s because while brands may not wish to, or expect to, compete in some ways with one another, the element of competition, and therefore …

Nudging: making the most of the power of suggestion

We’re much more susceptible to the power of suggestion than many of us might like to think – at least that was my take-out from more reading from Time: this time on how brands use buying suggestions to entice us to buy more than we might otherwise. The article quotes John T. Gourville, a Harvard Business School professor of marketing who specialises in studying pricing strategies. Consumers, he says, tend to follow the suggestions listed in brochures or store aisles, so people tend to buy the amount, or buy in increments, that are advertised. If they see five for $5 or 10 for $5, they buy five or ten, regardless of the fact that they normally buy three. And that, as the article points out, is the key strategy here: to get consumers buying more than they would if there was no sale. It seems we respond positively too to the suggestion of limitation – imposing a limit of two per customer or six per customer incentivises people to buy right up to that limit. …

A brand that discounts or a discount brand?

This article in Time on how to get the most out of Apple is a reminder that there is a noticeable difference psychologically between a brand that discounts (even if it’s only occasionally) and a discount brand. Apple does discount – but for selected parts of its range or for specific reasons: change-over on a model, for example. The most important thing is that they don’t give that impression. Apple’s approach is to treat price as a reliable indicator of value. By not overtly or uniformly discounting, they maintain the value of the brand by making products that excite customers and they continue to charge for them at that level of value until there is a good reason not to do so. In other words, Apple’s ethos is never discount an Apple product while people are most excited about it – no matter whether that is days or years after it was first released. But while Apple have worked hard to position themselves as a full-price, full value brand, that’s not always the case. As …

Positioning your brand through memories

I think it’s healthy for there to be a direct relationship between memory and frequency for a brand. The more often a customer comes into contact with your brand, the more consistent the memory needs to be. That’s because brands that frequently interact with their customers have the power of habit on their side. In fact, when someone is buying from you frequently, the memory itself needs to focus on regularity: greeting customers by name; being easy to find; recognising what they like and maybe working with that; introducing suggestions that fit with what they’re looking for. The memories are smaller in their impact and their “experience” factor, but their frequency makes the effect powerfully cumulative. By contrast, when your customers only interact with you occasionally, then the memory needs to be stronger and much more enduring. It literally needs to “last” until the next time a customer needs to buy because there isn’t the same front-of-mind of course – which means less consistent awareness and less reminders. It’s easy for customers to decide to …

We need to talk

What have you got to say for yourself? We were talking about this today as we discussed how and when a brand should best take a stand. Go hard or go soft? Soft. Taking a stand this way is about clearly and simply stating the things that you cherish and value as a brand, in such a way that consumers have clear line of sight between what you say, what you offer, how you act and what you value. It’s positive. It’s connective. It’s constructive. It’s honest. It shows the strengths of your beliefs. Specifically, it explains your worldview. We do this because … Or we don’t do this because … It’s not emphatically saying we’re right or wrong. It puts opinions on the record and asks the consumer to sign up if they want to. It proves consistency. Hard. What polarising brands do. They set out to set up sides and they do that by deliberately upsetting people, by getting under people’s skin, by provoking the response they want. Often they court publicity by …