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Archive for January 2010

At Issue } essential reading

Is Your Brand a Beacon or a Spotlight?

Rose Cameron
Jan 12, 2010

In the midst of every marketing meeting, there comes that point where the entire room leans forward in their seats. The tension heightens. There's an almost palpable sense of voyeurism; everyone strains toward the reveal of that titillating morsel that represents insider access. And the question is asked: "So, what's the consumer insight?" The strategist slowly rises and says, "We always knew that the consumers say this, but did you know that they really do this?" Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's shock and awe time. As a planner at heart, that's my bread and butter. What this very authentic example of consumer-insight fetishism raises is the question of what to do when your brand represents one thing but consumers are searching for another. Said differently, what can be done when your brand marketing becomes more about reflecting the reality of your consumers and less about your brand's aspirational identity? To keep your unique brand-driven narrative alive and prevent it from turning into a slow-moving episode of "60 Minutes," there are a few things that I believe every marketer should strive to do.

Why Good Spreadsheets Make Bad Strategies

Roger Martin
Jan 12, 2010

We live in a world obsessed with science, preoccupied with predictability and control, and enraptured with quantitative analysis. Economic forecasters crank out precision predictions of economic growth with their massive econometric models. CEOs give to-the-penny guidance to capital markets on next quarter's predicted earnings. We live by adages like: "Show me the numbers" and truisms such as "If you can't measure it, it doesn't count." What has this obsession gotten us? The economists have gotten it consistently wrong.

UBS Lays Out Employee Ethics Code

Katrina Bart
Jan 12, 2010

UBS AG Tuesday issued an employee code explicitly banning staff from helping clients cheat on their taxes, as part of the Swiss bank's effort to restore its reputation after a messy U.S. probe into hidden offshore accounts. "We do not provide assistance to clients or colleagues in acts aimed at deceiving tax authorities," according to the code, which is prefaced with remarks from UBS Chairman Kaspar Villiger and Chief Executive Oswald Grübel. The code, which also addresses issues such as financial crime, competition, confidentiality and diversity, is meant as a response to wrongdoing in UBS's U.S. offshore arm, which has since been shuttered.

On a Scale of 1 to 10, How Weird Are You?

Adam Bryant
Jan 11, 2010

This interview with Tony Hsieh, the chief executive of Zappos.com, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant. Q. What are some of the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned? A. After college, a roommate and I started a company called LinkExchange in 1996, and it grew to about 100 or so people, and then we ended up selling the company to Microsoft in 1998. From the outside, it looked like it was a great acquisition, $265 million, but most people don’t know the real reason why we ended up selling the company.

What to Take Away From CES

Chris Dannen
Jan 11, 2010

Sometimes it takes a million square feet of gizmos to understand where humanity is headed. After all the pageantry and pixels, here's what the world learned about tech in 2010.

How the AOL-Time Warner Merger Went So Wrong

Tim Arango
Jan 11, 2010

A decade ago, America Online merged with Time Warner in a deal valued at a stunning $350 billion. It was then, and is now, the largest merger in American business history. The Internet, it was believed, was soon to vaporize mainstream media business models on the spot. America Online’s frothy stock price made it worth twice as much as Time Warner’s with less than half the cash flow.

Virgin Prepares for UK Banking Push

Sharlene Goff
Jan 10, 2010

Sir Richard Branson has begun his assault on the financial industry with the purchase on Friday of a little-known private bank as a launchpad for a fully fledged business. Virgin Money, the personal finance arm of Sir Richard’s company, is buying Somerset-based Church House Trust, which has 3,000 customers and no branches, for £12.3m.

Multicultural Critical Theory. At B-School?

Lane Wallace
Jan 10, 2010

A decade ago, Roger Martin, the new dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, had an epiphany. The leadership at his son’s elementary school had asked him to meet with its retiring principal to figure out how it could replicate her success. He discovered that the principal thrived by thinking through clashing priorities and potential options, rather than hewing to any pre-planned strategy — the same approach taken by the managing partner of a successful international law firm in town. “The ‘Eureka’ moment was when I could draw a data point between a hotshot, investment bank-oriented star lawyer and an elementary school principal,” Mr. Martin recalls. “I thought: ‘Holy smokes. In completely different situations, these people are thinking in very similar ways, and there may be something special about this pattern of thinking.’ ”

Location-Based Apps Hold Promise For Big Marketers

Ian Schafer
Jan 9, 2010

By now many marketers have probably played around Foursquare or Gowalla or know someone who has. For the uninitiated, these are location-based mobile applications that allow people to "check in" from stadiums, bars and bookstores and compete for "mayorship," collect badges and share tips. They are practical, addicting and lots of fun. Users of these services number in the hundreds of thousands today. That's small by national advertiser standards, but it's significant for many local advertisers, which are offering discounts to frequent visitors and offers to people who are physically nearby. This is a trend in local marketing worth noting because it promises to give national advertisers the opportunity to conjure up or attach to an emotion among smaller niche groups.

The Business of Social Media: B2B and B2C Engagement by the Numbers

Brian Solis
Jan 8, 2010

I spend a great deal of time working within the B2B sector, among other things, and social media is a growing and or pervasive program within a comprehensive, integrated communications and service strategy. In almost every scenario I’ve encountered, executives, marcom and service executives, and brand managers have generally assumed that social and interactive activities and programming were ideally best suited for consumer applications. However, as we recently explored, in Social Media, it’s not just business, it’s business-to-business.

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