Author: Mark Di Somma

Headgames

I love this observation by Jay Deragon about the Social Learning Curve: “All things social are creating a herd of copycats following practices, methods and behavio[u]r created by the frenzy of learning something new …” To what end? is the inevitable question. Once learned, something is no longer new. In fact, it retains distinctive value only whilst the numbers of people who have access to that knowledge remains small. And yet, thanks to all things social, the chances of that happening are becoming less and less. And the pressures to democratise what one knows are also increasing. So everyone feels a pressure to learn, and many brands feel a pressure to share, but once accessed by many people, learning retains diminishing competitive advantage. It quite literally devolves to common knowledge. It becomes how ‘everyone’ does things, what ‘everyone’ agrees on, the way ‘everyone’ sees the world. Soon, what was new is basis. The tipping point for example. Once breakthrough. Now mainstream. Knowledge commoditises. I happen to really like Collins’ book ‘Good to Great’, but if …

When was the last time you actually changed your mind?

The hardest thing a brand can do is convince – to go against what people already believe and to ask them to believe something different. Actually, that’s not just true for brands, it’s applicable to anything or anyone. In the scheme of natural human interactions, conversion is relatively rare. To succeed at convincing, you need to overcome all the natural resistance that comes with encountering something new. Essentially, you need to break down all the inclination that has already amassed for an idea or a storyline. You need to destroy the loyalty that already exists for what people have and replace its equity. That’s amazingly difficult. As Seth Godin once observed, “If the story of your marketing requires the prospect to abandon a previously believed story, you have a lot of work to do.” Redirection is simpler. You change soaps. You change airlines. You change shirt brands. Particularly if soap, airlines and shirt brands don’t mean that much to you. Changing from a brand that says and does one thing to another brand that seems …

An option or a choice?

Just getting a presence in most markets can be hard work. One of my friends is finding that in the beverages game – a longer runway than he and his partners expected, and a lot more patience required as well. Long days, he says, having to justify every metre of shelf space you’re allocated. Same with being a speaker or a consultant. But doing all the work to get on the map just elevates you to the status of another option. That’s not the same as being a choice. Options form part of the line-up for how customers decide. Choices are a conscious decision in themselves. Option means you’re available, you’re on the list, in the books. You’re a speculation. Choice makes you an active decision, one part of yes/no, either/or. You’re known, you’re quantified, you’re considered. Now if you’re in the business of selling variety – like supermarkets, book stores, speakers’ bureaux, search engines – options fill out the stock book. They reflect well on you because they prove that you can tap the …

A brand strategy blog

Upheavals: A blog for people who love branding

Welcome to my blog. Here you’ll find my observations, perspectives, questions, ideas, new thoughts and models for brands. I focus on the changes and developments in business and brands that catch my eye (and perhaps will catch yours) – things I read, things I observe, stuff I theorise about, attitudes that frustrate me, and conversations I have in passing about market changes and their implications. If you’re a brand owner or a marketer, responsible for retaining the value and competitiveness of your brands in our rapidly shifting and increasingly social world, please take a look, add a comment, make contact … Cheers.

Conversation vs recommendation

Nice piece from Neil Glassman draws a distinction that I think has escaped many of us between conversation and recommendation. As the author himself says, he thought of social media as a platform to directly scale up word of mouth (WOM) marketing. But the synergy that looks so obvious doesn’t happen. In fact, says Glassman, compared to the effectiveness of what takes place offline, surprisingly little WOM is generated on social media. My sense is that while there is plenty of talk being pushed into the media, that content is then not, for the most part, being transmitted-on (or more specifically picked up) in the way that it is when WOM is in full flight. Glassman himself hints at why. People, he says, participate in social media to interact with friends and like-minded strangers about things that interest them. Social media marketers, on the other hand, engage with their customers hoping to encourage them to spread the word. The first interaction pivots on “us” – about the things that “we” share, which means ownership exists. …

Becoming a cultrepreneur: the first 3 secrets

I coined the term ‘cultrepreneur’ some years back to describe enterprising business people who consciously set about developing brands that are anti-scale, hard to find and fervently followed – cults. A number of people have asked me how you go about building a cult brand. So here’s my first three secrets: 1. Make something amazing, and then make it unavailable. Alright, not completely unavailable. But part of the secret of growing a cult brand is to grow the legend, and part of growing the legend is to cultivate a myth of short supply. With a cult brand, you always want to be making just under the market demand. Enough to cover costs obviously, but too little for everyone to be able to get hold of it easily. The thought of missing out intensifies the pleasure of getting and the desire to procure. 2. Nail the long tail. Cult brands appeal to those who think they know better about a particular subject, and who want more than what is widely available. The secret is in the …

The alternative to free

Regular readers will know that I have a major problem with the free model. To me, it’s misleading – and the reason why is that it’s based on a false premise: that if you offer goods for free, people will be in time upgrade to the paid model. I see why people are tempted to go down this track. It’s easy to see free as a simple way to open the jaws of the funnel. Free gets you awareness and therefore volume, the thinking goes. And there is an implication given by some that you can then trust the conversion process to secure enough sales off that added volume to make the give-away worth it. Easy too to believe, as you look around the social media environment, that with so many people giving away so much, you have little choice but to do the same. The problem with this reasoning as I see it is that free is not a generator. On the contrary, it is a competitor. And the reason is that giving so …

Paying less and less, getting less and less

The response by airlines to customers’ demands for lower and lower fares has been to do exactly that, lower seat costs, but at the same time to strip more and more of what is included in the fare out of the price. This process – referred to by Time as “the unbundled skies” – points to a business model that I see becoming more prevalent, and not just in the heavens, as price-sensitive brands lower entry points in order to get customers to commit, and then use “upgrades” to restore margin and, according to the article, add another 50% or so to the real price. Pay less, get less. Want more? Pay more. Ryanair have even suggested, somewhat controversially, that “more” could include access to the toilet. In fact, according to one consultant quoted, there are up to 35 add-ons available when you fly, ranging from baggage and food fees to flight-delay insurance and keeping the middle seat empty. You literally get what you pay for. This seems like an expedient answer to customers’ demands …