If I had more than a second to think about it, I’d be thinking about the pace of change and reactions to change. As it is, I’m busy keeping up with the changes. From email to tweets. From broadband to cloud. From the risks of recession to the risks of swine flu. I’m thinking that if I can just get around the corner there will be time to catch up. But what if there isn’t?
Last month I was invited to speak to a diverse group of professional women. I explored the idea of “women and ownership” from both a literal, economic standpoint (think: real estate), as well as experiential, personal and emotional standpoints (think: accepting opportunity and the consequences of our decisions). How, I asked the group, can we truly own our lives, embrace our choices, create opportunities and drive change? Moreover, how do we own change itself?
Dog tired the other night after what seemed like endless work-related communication clarifications, I signed off with this tweet: “Done translating for the day…surfing all these lexicons is exhausting. Desperate for the Esperanto of changing times.” Within seconds I got a message: Esperanto is now following you. I had to laugh. So here’s the translation Esperanto: I am NOT interested in Esperanto (we’ll talk about the lack of context on Twitter later). What I AM interested in is the common language of change and innovation.
This year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 in Marketing & Advertising are driving that dramatic industry change, and their mix of titles reflects the kaleidoscope of skills marketing demands: creative technologist. Tech and consumer insights director. Experience designer. Senior social media specialist.
The changes to how Twitter displays images can make your tweets stand out. Here's how to boost your engagement one image at a time.
3-D printing used to be a fixed medium. Now, graduate students have created a printer that can go back in time, make changes on the fly, and best of all, build objects in a weightless environment.
No matter how you feel about Millennials, there’s no denying that they’re changing the world as we know it.
Since Change.org began focusing on its petition tool in 2011, it has offered just two actions for supporting a cause: Create a petition; sign a petition. Now the company is expanding that list.
Our world is not what it once was: the situation is more serious, the timing is more pressing, and the fortunes to be made are more astounding.
One of the three founders of Victors & Spoils, which touts itself as the first agency built on crowdsourcing principles, is preparing to exit the firm. Claudia Batten, whose most recent title at the shop is exec VP-new business, is leaving the Boulder-based company after its sale of a majority stake to Paris-based holding company Havas. Her next move is expected to be a startup.
In the last decade, we've had two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), two automobile bankruptcies (General Motors and Chrysler) and two radically new social-media sites (Facebook and Twitter). We've had a housing crisis, a banking crisis and a dot-com bubble. Three of our four leading airlines have gone bankrupt. And the fourth one (American Airlines) is losing money. We've witnessed the incredible rise of Google and Apple. And the incredible fall of A.I.G. and Lehman Brothers. "Everything has changed" is the message marketers have been reacting to recently. And because everything has changed, marketers believe they have to change everything in their marketing programs.
Some speculated that Google Instant would drastically change the way people search by letting users see results for their queries as they typed. That shift hasn't happened yet, according to an analyst at Conductor, a company that provides search engine optimization tools to marketers. "It doesn't appear to be having a significant impact on how users search," Conductor concluded. But that's not quite what the data show.
For the first time in centuries, the role of the storefront is changing. How should companies adapt?
Last week I heard this in a meeting: "We're in the middle of tremendous change. The organization is going through the biggest transition in its history." The line is usually delivered with a mix of desperation, a touch of helplessness and an apologetic tone. The admission comes, with the predictability of a carefully timed script, as I'm trying to assess where companies are in terms of their digital marketing maturity. Just a few years ago there was a lot of brash boasting about how cutting-edge companies were, but it's been a long time since I've heard that confidence. Even former dot-com rock stars are realizing that they have a lot to learn. They know things are messed up and they think it's their fault. Somehow things have gotten fouled up in the execution machinery of their company. They're not smart enough, nimble enough or gutsy enough.
Last year, MIT professor Andrew McAfee published a landmark book on the business use and impact of social software platforms titled Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. The book is a collection of McAfee's research since the spring of 2006 when he coined the phrase Enterprise 2.0. Shorthand for enterprise social software, Enterprise 2.0 is the strategic integration of Web 2.0 technologies into an organization's intranet, extranet, and business processes. Those technologies, including wikis, blogs, prediction markets, social networks, microblogging, and RSS, have in turn been adopted by government agencies, a phenomenon that falls under the mantle of Gov 2.0. As the use of such technology has grown, Congress is now considering the risks and rewards of Web 2.0 for federal agencies.
When IBM recently polled 1500 CEOs across 60 countries, they rated creativity as the most important leadership competency. Eighty percent of the CEOs said the business environment is growing so complex that it literally demands new ways of thinking. Less than 50 percent said they believed their organizations were equipped to deal effectively with this rising complexity. But are CEOs and senior leaders really willing to make the transformational moves necessary to foster cultures of real creativity and innovation?
Repositioning your company can be an invigorating move — it's exciting to take a fresh approach and go after new opportunities. But change is also risky and over time, the momentum behind it can wane. When that happens, it's not uncommon for individuals, units, or entire organizations to default to the old strategy. If your team relapses, how can you get things back on track and people re-focused on the new direction?
We’ve heard a lot about listening over the past several years as marketers have sought to make the most of the social web. But are we really listening? Former President Calvin Coolidge once remarked that, “No one ever listened themselves out of a job.” Customer feedback today is easier than ever to come by, and experts and observers have encouraged companies to engage in a real dialogue with customers instead of just talking customers’ ears off. As Umair Haque of the Havas Media Lab wrote back in 2008, “listening beats talking.” Companies claimed to have gotten the message, unveiling elaborate listening programs, such as Starbucks’ mystarbucksidea website. More recently, the Wall Street Journal has taken note that business “are listening” to customer reviews and other feedback on sites like Yelp, City Search, and Urban Spoon.
On June 30, Alex Bogusky went for a bike ride in the hills outside Boulder, Colo., then made his way downtown to the century-old house-cum-studio he had renovated and dubbed FearLess Cottage. Once inside, he called Miles Nadal, his boss in Toronto, and resigned. Bogusky was 46. Adweek had named him creative director of the decade, and the agency he helped build, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, was bringing in more than a billion dollars in billings. He had a dream title of his own making, chief creative insurgent, and a salary close to $2 million. Bogusky's conversation with Nadal, the owner of CP+B's parent company, MDC Partners, was followed by an e-mail. Bogusky hoped Nadal saw him "as a friend who wants to try something new." He signed it, "Love, Alex." Then Bogusky and his wife, Ana, spent much of the afternoon sitting on their porch contemplating what he had just done.
Do you work in a job that involves writing creative, managing clients, media planning and buying, or trafficking ads? Well, take a minute from your busy day to digest this news: Your job description's changed.
Evolving from the world's biggest factory to creator of the world's biggest brands is a challenge, and China continues to struggle with crafting a name for itself beyond just low-priced products.
Walk into a Barnes and Noble you can find dozen of books on innovation. There are books from teaching the ‘how to” to creative thinking”. Not many good ones simply because the subject is a moving target with rules being broken and created everyday, existing tools are getting obsolete, and best practices are often worst practices. Much that is held as common wisdom regarding how purposeful or successful innovation happened is wrong. This is not to say that all organizations are not innovative; obviously many are not thanks to our management systems and education.
Two venerable brands have recently sidelined their names in favor of initials. National Public Radio now wants to be known as "NPR" while the Young Men's Christian Association — the YMCA — has abbreviated its abbreviation to, simply, "The Y." But aren't "NPR" and "The Y" already de facto brand names?
Designing a new brand platform for a 160-year-old organization is no easy task, particularly when that organization is as diverse and well-known as the YMCA. The new brand platform involved a two-year development process that looked to reflect the character of the more than 2,600 individual "Y" organizations around the country.
Social Media started out as a bit of a novelty — a playground for the “geekerati.” But it has taken hold as a game changing force that will reshape advertising at its very core. It’s time to move past debates about traditional media co-existing with social media. Madison Avenue should see social media as a wonderful, if not disruptive, gift. It should run hard to catch up with the consumer, let go of legacy business models and build something better.
All of which raises a good question: Will the Gulf of Mexico disaster inspire innovation beyond creative protests and logo spoofs? Virgin founder Richard Branson, promoting Virgin America's new flights to Toronto, says he hopes the spill inspires at least one positive outcome: more focus on cleantech and green energy solutions.
Apple, without a doubt, is creating a massive sea change in how we interact with digital content. Note that I didn't say "the Web." This is because the millions of iPad and iPhone users spend more time within Apple's walled garden of apps rather than in a browser. However, there's a potential dark side to the millions of Apple devices being sold and it should give every marketer pause.
Only slightly older than ten years old, founded in 1998, San Francisco-based Esurance is one of the leading direct-to-consumer auto insurance companies in the U.S. and one of the better known providers of such unappealing service. Until now, Esurance had been represented by a very generic sunset logo and personalized in the form of Erin Esurance, an animated, pink-haired superhero. Earlier this month, Esurance went through a complete transformation with a new identity and national campaign titled “Techie Feely,” both created by San Francisco-based Duncan/Channon.
Repositioning is all about changing people’s minds. Changing the minds of current customers who know the brand and accept its current state is difficult. The most frequent, loyal customers are the most resistant to change – but if they’re not generating enough sales and profits to keep the business growing, they probably shouldn’t be the priority. Changing the minds of folks who have rejected the brand usually depends on the execution of the concept. So, asking consumers about the appropriateness of a brand change is generally not helpful. Instead of assessing brand fit of the new concept, evaluate its unbranded appeal – and then explore how the company might make the concept believable for its brand.
I may be looking too hard for hopeful signs but I think we may be at the threshold of a reformation in advertising, which will mean larger changes in the communications world overall. Here are two of them and why I think they’re important (and somewhat related).
As Mr. St. Angelo and several other longtime American executives tell it, a new era has arrived at Toyota. Its face is Mr. Toyoda, who this month reaches his first year as president, and by these accounts, has come to appreciate how closely Toyota flirted with disaster in the United States — and is prepared to shake things up because of it.
In the massive new Barnes & Noble superstore on Manhattan's Upper East Side, generous display space is devoted to baby blankets, Art Deco flight clocks, stationery and adult games like Risk and Stratego. The eclectic merchandise, which has nothing to do with books, may be a glimpse into the future of Barnes & Noble Inc., the nation's largest book chain. Electronic books are still in their infancy, comprising an estimated 3% to 5% of the market today. But they are fast accelerating the decline of physical books, forcing retailers, publishers, authors and agents to reinvent their business models or be painfully crippled.
In business and in life we set all kinds of goals — build a company, meet sales objectives, be a supportive manager — and then we define a strategy for achieving that goal. The goal is the destination; the strategy is our trail to get there. Only sometimes we get so absorbed in the trail — in how we're going to achieve the goal, in our method or process — that we lose sight of the destination, of where we were going in the first place. And we walk right by the opportunities that would have propelled us forward toward our planned destination.
To change an organization from within, it helps to understand four basic circulatory systems, analogous to the channels of communication in a living body.
Given all the problems our world faces — in teaching, technology, health care, or finance — we need many more social entrepreneurs and change makers. Progress against these problems will be intolerably slow if only 3% to 5% of world's population thinks they can solve them. We need to teach our youth that they can help people; that they can lead; that they can make lasting and important change in their communities and across the globe. Society, employers, educators, and parents need to recognize that our kids' successful personal and social development must start with a mastery of several complex skills — empathy, teamwork, leadership, and change making.
Customers may not know it, but senior executives are counting on them to help reinvent, reposition, re-ignite and regain brand relevancy. They are helping businesses and brands take swings for the fences that actually have a shot at going out of the ballpark. They are not just joining the conversation but fully taking notes, leading to action and big outcomes that are driving their businesses and brands forward. So, while Tiger and Toyota are grabbing too many recent brand headlines, three other companies are paving the way for others who want to make a serious brand-pivot.
I attend a lot of marketing conferences where I hear over-excited pitch people telling me all about The New Thing that will Change Every Paradigm Forever. So much over-enthusiasm can jade just about anyone, so it was with relief that I joined a much more sober group for their conference. I spent the last few days at the Advertising Research Federation’s (ARF) re:Think 2010 conference taking place in New York City. I found, however, that even here among the stodgiest of marketing researchers, there’s talk of … a paradigm shift.
Chinese Internet users have one less Web search option this week, but otherwise it's business as usual as the People's Republic of China uses technology and intimidation to keep citizens away from objectionable content. Following several months of strategizing and negotiations, Google finally stopped censoring its search results in China and is redirecting visitors to Google.cn to a server based in Hong Kong. There they see unfiltered results and are able to visit sites about Falun Gong, Tiananman Square, and Tibetan independence. As noble as the move might be on Google's part, it changes very little for the approximately 4 million Internet users in China who have lived with restrictions on their online and offline activities for decades.
Right out of the gate, let's assume that we all agree consumer behavior is in the throes of its biggest shift in history. And the cause is generally attributed to the Internet. While I don't disagree with this assessment, I believe there may be some misattribution when it comes to cause and effect. Did the Internet cause our consumer behavior to change? Or did it enable it to change? The distinction may seem like mere semantics, but there's a fundamental difference here.
Good friend JD Lasica asked me to answer some fantastic questions for a post he published in celebration of Engage. I poured so much of myself into the responses, that I felt it was worth sharing here with you as well. Many of the lessons and observations below are important for you as a champion, decision maker, entrepreneur, or executive. Social Media is not only changing how we communicate, we are also changing the culture of business from the outside in and from the bottom up. In doing so, businesses, of all shapes and sizes, will magnetize communities. As such, the intentional creation and crafting of a useful and meaningful culture in business will create a competitive advantage, giving people a reason to align and ultimately embody and extend your purpose and mission.
So the Dow hit a bull-market high last Wednesday and gas costs more than $3/gallon. You know what comes next, don't you? It's not a question of if but rather when we'll all be complaining about falling stocks and rising gas prices. We should be particularly aware of this inevitable reality since most of us are still smarting from the wounds we received over the past year or two. You'd think that the branding brain trusts at big financial services firms and oil companies would have gotten together and recognized these facts -- the context of reality in which their brands exist -- and modified both their business operations and marketing accordingly:
"Caution. Not all hazards are marked." I couldn't help but notice this sign on the side of a ski trail during a recent vacation in the mountains. As I slowed my descent I thought about how this sign could apply to any number of things in this crazy world. Being in the brand business, I also thought about how apt they were relative to navigating the current marketplace. It's one thing to watch as consumer attitudes shift and you alter your product or service to meet the new conditions. It's another to sense that something's on the horizon and be the first in the category to address it. The ability to do so has always separated the good brands from the best brands.
With its traditional video-rental business under assault, Blockbuster Inc. has brought in restructuring advisers, looking to buy yet more time to remake itself in the face of new rivals and technologies. In recent days, Blockbuster tapped law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges and investment bank Rothschild Inc. to look at ways to reduce its roughly $1 billion debt load and explore other strategies, such as acquisitions or partnerships, said people familiar with the matter.
With Americans tightening their belts, BMW AG is parking "the ultimate driving machine" in the garage, at least for a while. The auto maker for years has promoted the power and performance of its cars using that slogan, one of the longest-running and most well-known in the auto industry. But now the company is switching gears. On Friday, it was launching an advertising campaign that focuses on the joy the company says comes from owning its vehicles and suggests BMWs are safe for mothers and children. One print ad uses the tagline "Joy is Maternal"—a departure from past promotions that touted horsepower, handling and acceleration.
No one has seen more changes to the MTV brand than Judy McGrath. The CEO of MTV Networks started with the network in 1981 as a copywriter and eventually ascended the ranks to her current position in 2004, where she has seen many different iterations of the network and its programming even as fellow pioneering executives such as Tom Freston and Robert Pittman have come and gone. One of those changes came as recently as last week, when MTV unveiled the first major on-air update to its logo in its 28-year history. The redesign was met with mixed reaction. "I don't think what they did is wrong," George Lois, creator of the network's historic "I want my MTV" campaign, told Ad Age. "I think what they did is strategic. And it just proves to me that MTV is dead."
"To build a global medium as central to people's lives as the telephone or television ... and even more valuable." This was Steve Case's vision in the early 1990s, and everyone wanted to be a part of it. The company he founded, American Online, was one of the nation's most admired. By turning Internet access into a home utility, AOL became one of the nation's most admired brands and workplaces. It was the Google or the Facebook of its time. Then something happened.
Last year, exactly around this time, when we were thinking about what brand to spoof on April Fools MTV was the runner-up, but only because we thought no one would ever believe that the MTV logo would change. Ever. Now that the time of change is finally here — almost 29 years after MTV and its logo, debuted on August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., to that unmistakable guitar riff — well, not much has really changed, other than what we all already knew. MTV is not about music anymore, and its new logo dispenses with the hindering description of “Music Television.”
Quick: Name one highly creative advertiser. Bet your first choice wasn't Kraft. The company that brought the world "My bologna has a first name" and "We helped!" for Shake and Bake is unlikely to ever go down in the ad annals next to Nike or Apple. But North America's largest food company -- about to become even larger with the addition of Cadbury -- is making strides toward updating the look and tone of its advertising while keeping it as accessible as possible for consumers.
It happened last year, around the first of July. In my experience, the switch was just about that abrupt. All last spring, most senior business leaders I met shrugged off the business applicability of Web 2.0. Allowing access to social networks in the workplace was something they were willing to consider only if it was absolutely necessary to keep younger employees from complaining. Twitter? What was that? But by summer, the conversations I was having with senior executives about the use of these new technologies took on a very different tone. Recognition grew that 2.0 technologies could be used to change the way work gets done in fundamental ways. Interest in exploring these new ways of working, of sharing information, of collaborating to enhance productivity and meet business goals, was here.
Most of the marketing rules we lived by just five years ago are practically obsolete. The industry has faced more changes in the last five years than in the previous 50. Let's face it, there's no point in improving broken legacy models. Since necessity is the mother of invention, let's not waste this recession and instead use it to rethink how we go about branding in this new decade.
The car business has been notoriously slow at embracing aspects of the Internet since the beginning. Social media is no exception. In 2010, more in the industry from manufacturers down to dealers will learn to engage in social media or be left behind.
This is going to be the week of top ten lists, stunningly visual retrospectives and thoughtful analyses of the decade that is about to end. I don't need to be reminded; I was there. So were the past ten years particularly different or unique when it comes to decades? No, not in the slightest, unless you haven't lived through more than a few of them (or don't have much interest in history). It certainly was new for us, just like every second, minute, day and month might be, and we made it special by being there. But the decade measure is as arbitrary as the substance it purports to track is shockingly common.
Now that the leaves at the bottom of the old gypsy's teacup indicate that the 2008-09 recession is in reverse, it's time for us to accelerate the synergy across the disciplines of finance and marketing. Will things return to normal in 2010? If our idea of normal includes the notion that marketers manage their discipline as a cost, then no, that's no longer normal. This kind of thinking has long been in decline, and the recession has hastened its obsolescence. Especially entering a positive economic cycle in 2010, CMOs must absolutely lead their corporations in generating profit and growth. Marketing is no longer a cost center; it's a profit-and-growth center.
In the 19th and 20th centuries we made stuff: corn and steel and trucks. Now, we make protocols: sets of instructions. A software program is a protocol for organizing information. A new drug is a protocol for organizing chemicals. Wal-Mart produces protocols for moving and marketing consumer goods. Even when you are buying a car, you are mostly paying for the knowledge embedded in its design, not the metal and glass.
How designers can influence behavior—and why they should.
The economy appears to have begun recovering after the worst recession in half a century. But businesses ranging from shoemakers to financial services to luxury hotels don't expect American consumers to return to their spendthrift ways anytime soon. They see consumers emerging from the punishing downturn with a new mind-set: careful, practical, more socially conscious and embarrassed by flashy shows of wealth. Much as the 1930s shaped the spending habits of an entire generation, many companies now anticipate a shift in consumer behavior that persists even after jobs and growth get back closer to normal.
This time last year, I wrote about the 10 ways social media will change 2009, and while all predictions have materialized or are on their way, it has only become clear in recent months how significant of a change we've seen this year. 2009 will go down as the year in which the shroud of uncertainty was lifted off of social media and mainstream adoption began at the speed of light. Barack Obama's campaign proved that social media can mobilize millions into action, and Iran's election protests demonstrated its importance to the freedom of speech.
In digital media, as in fortune-telling, the future is pretty much treated as part of the present. "What is the next big thing?" is a question everyone who works with the internet asks continually. But after several years of boom, the question of what comes after social platforms is no longer so remote. Luckily, some experts just gave us answers. On Monday evening, the Said Business School in Oxford had invited some very bright and successful entrepreneurs who spoke in front of a packed alumni audience as Silicon Valley came to Oxford for the ninth year. The event was chaired by the very lively and assertive Frances Cairncross, rector of Exeter college.
Despite starting Blogger, Evan Williams rarely blogs. But yesterday, for the first time in several months, he decided to put the digital pen to the digital paper in order to lay out his thoughts for Twitter’s new Retweet functionality. It’s a great view into the mindset behind what is already becoming a controversial change. Why is there so much controversy? The answer is simple — literally. When Twitter began, you could do one thing on it: Send a blurb about what you were doing in 140 characters or less. This led to an immediate outcry from a wide range of people who thought that it was just about the dumbest service in the world. Others saw the potential behind such a simple service, precisely because it was so simple, and history has proven time and time again that sometimes simple ideas can explode into the biggest ones.
It must suck to be the middle-man today. Everywhere they turn, it’s bad news. Democratization this. Circumventing that. There was a point not that long ago that the middle-man provided great value. The record companies brought music to the masses. The media created channels for the news to get through. The Blockbusters of the world housed thousands of movies for people to rent. Telephone companies laid the lines for us to connect with one another around the world. But now these middle-men are our modern villains – using every desperate trick in the book to hold onto customers while we find creative ways to go around them, go straight to the source and sometimes just do it ourselves. There is a mass disintermediation going on and every company that occupies the mediator position is at risk. Now it’s the media, the labels and the distributors of what has become digital content, but I doubt this will be the last frontier of democratization. I’m sorry to say it, but they are bringing it on themselves. Why?
On a sunny day in June 2006, David McDonough, chief executive of Trustmark Insurance, was roaming Chicago's Navy Pier, talking to strangers. "We needed to understand what made people tick," says McDonough of the exercise, which was part of a two-day workshop designed to get his executive team to look beyond actuarial tables and stimulate thinking about the company's future.
The recession has battered some of the nation's biggest companies. Even so, top marketing executives believe social media and behavioral targeting technologies will help them boost business as the economy stabilizes and consumer sentiment improves. A cautiously optimistic group of marketing executives from big companies, including Bank of America, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Mercedes-Benz USA and Xerox, gathered in Palm Beach, Fla., at the Fifth annual Forbes CMO Summit late last week. There they discussed ways they can rebuild trust and boost sales at their companies as the economy stabilizes.
The future of news is entrepreneurial. There’s a lot in that statement. It says: The future of news is not institutional… The news of tomorrow has yet to be built…. The structure – the ecosystem – of news will not be dominated by a few corporations but likely will be made up of networks of many startups performing specialized functions based on the opportunities they see in the market…. Who does journalism, why and how will change…. The skills of journalists will change (to include business)…. We don’t yet know what the market will demand and support from journalism…. News will look disordered and messy…. There will be more failures than successes in the immediate future of news….
There is a lot of hype surrounding the real-time web, and much of the feeding frenzy reminds me of the RSS space four years ago — though there is a lot of potential, there is also a lot of noise. How do you navigate through it all and which developments should you be paying attention to? What are the emerging trends for companies and entrepreneurs to watch for? Here are four real-time web trends that I’m tracking.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a radically changed internet five years from now: dominated by Chinese-language and social media content, delivered over super-fast bandwidth in real time. Figuring out how to rank real-time social content is "the great challenge of the age," Schmidt said in an interview in front of thousands of CIOs and IT Directors at last week's Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Orlando 2009. Gartner is the largest and most respected analyst firm in the world and much of what Schmidt said in his 45 minute interview was directed specifically at business leaders, but we've excerpted 6 minutes that we believe is of interest to anyone who's touched by the web.
We believe marketing communications are already being forced to become increasingly agile, particularly for more youth-oriented brands. In such a fast-paced and dynamic media environment, relevance is increasingly determined in the moment. Recency matters. Audience and attention are fleeting. Fame spikes -- even for the famous. For brands to achieve and maintain fame in this context, communications for certain types of them must make a dramatic shift from highly polished epic launches to a continuous and diverse stream of messaging and content designed to ride hyper-current cultural trends, consumer attitudes and competitive maneuvering. The performance of this diverse activity is continuously monitored and optimized like a portfolio of stocks -- kill the under-performers and reinvest in the ones showing returns. However, this "continuous beta" mentality is a big leap from 18-month planning cycles and dogmatic, rigid testing protocols, despite its more real-time and real-world feedback.
In the 11 years since the dot-com darling went public, the e-commerce world grew up -- but eBay looked stuck in its 1.0 past. Unlike Zappos, which built a name using customer service as marketing, and Amazon, where shoppers can log on and find virtually anything at a clear, set price, eBay didn't control the fulfillment chain. That often leaves its customer service, a component key to branding, at the mercy of its sellers. Moreover, it was riddled with auctions, a type of transaction that has garnered less and less interest from the mainstream consumers who account for much of the $130 billion in annual online-shopping sales.
Every traditional marketing campaign is a customer purchase, that is no revelation: ROI and CPC, CPM, CPA are all standards. But I suggest there is something wrong with that mindset. In fact, with the uncertainty of the future of media, everything might be wrong with that mindset.
Google Wave is a new communication tool that the search giant bills as "what email would look like if it were invented today." While the plan to modernize email is laudable and ambitious, Google Wave's whiz-bang features can feel confusing and chaotic to new users. However, if regular people can make the leap that Wave does from email's message-based system to conversations as co-editing a single document, Wave could revolutionize the way we communicate and collaborate online.
It is well know that Keynesianism deals with flow variables, looking to current income or GDP, current consumption, current savings and current investment. Income and interest rates are largely the adjusting variables. The presumption is that we want to maximize consumption subject to various restraints because that maximizes utility. Stock variables like wealth and total debt are out of the loop and are not really considered. That is why Keynesian economists are so willing to run big current deficits to stimulate the economy and hopefully increase GDP and consumption, even though it means incurring more public debt, and why they do not worry about the consequences of that debt. Keynesians, of course, have their critics, me included, but our criticisms have obviously been less than effective.
Chili's Grill & Bar, battered by the recession and a crowd of rivals, is trying to remake its image by revamping some of its most-popular menu items and reviving an old ad campaign. The moves are part of a strategy shift at the chain, a unit of Brinker International Inc. that has posted declining same-store sales for the past four quarters. Like a lot of restaurants during boom times, Chili's grew by opening new outlets, but the recession has forced it to reconsider its formula.
Imagine an advertising world where ... spending on interactive, one-to-one advertising formats surpasses traditional, one-to-many advertising vehicles, and a significant share of ad space is sold through auctions and exchanges. Advertisers know who viewed and acted on an ad, and pay based on real impact rather than estimated “impressions.” Consumers self-select which ads they watch and share preferred ads with peers. User-generated advertising is as prevalent (and appealing) as agency-created spots. Based on IBM global surveys there are four change drivers shifting control within the ad industry:
Google has launched Project 10^100 (pronounced "Project 10 to the 100th"), a call for ideas that it has hopes for. The Mountain View, Calif. company has compiled a list of "16 big ideas," each inspired by numerous individual submissions from a call for action last fall. Project 10^100 aims to find the best ideas that could change the world most, in hopes of helping as many people as possible. In that call for change, thousands of people from more than 170 countries submitted more than 150,000 ideas, from general investment suggestions to specific implementation proposals. Google will fund up to five ideas, investing a total of $10 million. "Each project won't necessarily get $2 million, as one winning idea might warrant $3 million and another $1 million," according to a Google spokesperson.
Non as in non-profit. The first issue is the way you describe yourself. I know what you’re not but what are you? Did you start or join this non-profit because of the non part? I doubt it. It's because you want to make change. The way the world is just isn't right or good enough for you... there's an emergency or an injustice or an opportunity and you want to make change. These organizations exist solely to make change. That's why you joined, isn't it? The problem facing your group, ironically, is the resistance to the very thing you are setting out to do. Non-profits, in my experience, abhor change.
No doubt, a bad economy sucks. A bad economy is tough on a company's bottom line and even tougher on those individuals that have to struggle to make ends meet. But when it comes to the design profession, I would argue otherwise. Not because the industry is immune from a bad economy--far from it--but because negative economic conditions are often a catalyst for change. It also forces designers to create with more care.
Ten years ago the chairman of MIT's Media Lab, Nicholas Negroponte, commented that any company that describes itself as an "agency" is doomed. He's right. Agencies -- as middlemen between media owners and brand owners -- are today merely commoditized suppliers and not the creative business partners our predecessors once were. Agencies, simply, are not as important as we used to be.
Practically the only thing guaranteed that social media will kill is your free time. Maybe it will kill your real-world social life too, but that's only if you choose to have an intimate relationship with your computer, at the pure neglect of the world outdoors. While it's popular and tempting to say that social media is poised to eliminate core business elements, such as marketing, public relations, or advertising, the truth is that the latest Web tools are simply infrastructure, to be used well. More traditional departments in business, and the third party vendors who provide their services, will need to adapt to a changing world, but they aren't going anywhere.
Dear Old People Who Run the World, My generation would like to break up with you. Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.
For most of us, the shape of a 2-liter bottle is something we take for granted. For Hendrik Steckhan, head of carbonated soft-drink brands for Coca-Cola North America, the shape is a problem. Coca-Cola should not be in the same 2-liter bottle as every other brand, he said. “When you think about this, it just doesn’t make sense,” Steckhan said. Faced with a nagging decline in North American sales, Atlanta-based Coke and its bottlers are turning to packaging as a key way to set their products apart and try to generate fresh appeal.
It would be profoundly reassuring to view the current economic crisis as simply another rough spell that we need to get through. Unfortunately, though, today’s mix of urgency, high stakes, and uncertainty will continue as the norm even after the recession ends. Economies cannot erect a firewall against intensifying global competition, energy constraints, climate change, and political instability. The immediate crisis—which we will get through, with the help of policy makers’ expert technical adjustments—merely sets the stage for a sustained or even permanent crisis of serious and unfamiliar challenges.
Creating an enduring brand is a huge challenge in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace. It’s similar to raising a child: it requires focused attention, intuition, and a lot of patience. It also requires a desire to change and adapt. Our natural instinct, however, is to shelter our brands, like our children, from the knocks and bumps that come in life. We want to keep our arms around them, keep them safe and under our control.
One of the biggest challenges in today’s marketplace is the ability to notice change, because we all like to mentally grasp for security and predictability. We resist changing the way we look at the world. But we must, because every new marketplace change and exchange creates some kind of cultural change, which in turn creates more marketplace change and exchange. Most importantly, it creates a change in customer expectations.
No, it is NOT. I've made this argument before, but as I watch even more organizations, and entire industries, drown in their own irrelevance - Six Flags being the most notable, recent causality - I feel compelled to say it again. A brand is not a promise; it's an expectation. "But 'promise' is just a word, a definition." Hardly. It's your world view. It conditions your sensibilities and behavior. It represents a much simpler, outdated marketplace model, not today's complex, rapidly changing environment. And it's killing you.
I'm a rebel at heart. As a rule, I distrust authority, and there are far too many examples of otherwise well-intentioned people, either individually or as groups, who get into power, and then deliver some of the worst horrors of history. So I wonder if we're trading the authority of one-way media for the tyranny of the crowd.
Today's marketplace challenges are not driven simply by the global recession and its affect on people's perception of "value." This new, new economy has been building for the past ten years. Evolving marketplace conditions have created a very particular consumer mindset; one which most marketers are woefully unprepared to deal with. Make no mistake; the economy is not the problem. It has simply exposed the problem, like melting snow exposes the mud beneath. Here are the five conditions that have inured today's consumer and confounded scores of organizations:
Modern Public Relations was born in the early 1900s, although history traces the its roots and origins of practice back to the 17th century. Two years ago, the press release celebrated its 100-year anniversary. While the communications industry has iterated with every new technological advancement over the last century, including broadcast mediums and Web 1.0, none however, have forced complete transparency prior to the proliferation of the Read/Write Web aka The Social Web aka Web 2.0.
Our friend Peggy Ann Salz over at M Search Groove mentioned the diminshing utility of using demographics in marketing segmentation and targeting. I wanted to return to this topic, and argue loud and clear, that the evidence is overwhelming, that we (marketing professional) have experienced in the past few years a total shift where customer demographics have gone from utility to futility. Yes, futility. They are now counter-productive. You, reading this blog, need to start to remove all references to demographics in all of your company marketing.
The smart guys at Contrast came by the office to talk about their thesis of abandoning conventions. It's the intent of changing what we expect when we use something. Obvious things like the design of a cell phone or subtle things like the design of a door knob. There are terrific benefits to successfully coming up with a solution that invents and leverages a new convention.
“We thought we’d update the logo a little.” “It’s not a new tagline. It’s just a catchy phrase that we are using instead of the tagline.” “We thought the icon would make a great decorative element.” “We are thinking about creating a new name for the organization.” “We developed a new product so we created a new brand for it.” “We created a different tagline for each audience. Pretty clever, huh?” “We were getting so tired of the old logo.” “It’s more fun to present the brand in a wide variety of colors.” “There was no room for the icon so we left it off.” “This is a funky stylized version of the logo targeted at younger audiences.” What is it about marketers that cause them to want to create something new all of the time?
We're all acutely aware that the Internet and the recession are ravaging the newspaper business and raising the possibility of its extinction. But meanwhile a much bigger industry, the $4 trillion U.S. retailing business, is also being radically reshaped by the Web and the economic downturn. It's happening far more subtly, but the ultimate impact will be just as profound, both for retailers and for the manufacturers that sell through them.
In professional industrial design, designs aren't really for the designers. They aren't even for the clients. They're for the end-users. I believe we get the best results when we "design from the first-person perspective" and really immerse ourselves in the user experience. When we understand the touch points the user identifies with, the needs that drive them, and the benefits they seek, we can create designs people crave. The more we're able to focus on the user, the more we're create deep emotional connections.
No project, no brand, no company exists in a vacuum. You make bets about external forces when you build something.
The alcoholic beverage category may suffer an economic hangover, according to new research released today by the Nielsen Company at the Nielsen's Consumer 360 Conference. While consumers aren't necessarily going on the wagon, their consumption habits have changed significantly. With 56 percent of consumers dining in and 37 percent frequenting bars and clubs less often, buyers of alcoholic beverages now have an increased focus on value and price.
If you hear someone talking about "open source," it's quite possible that this isn't what they mean. One major soft drink company, for example, was talking about turning their brand open source. Pretty unlikely. Do you think that they meant allowing anyone to use their brand in any way they chose on a share and share alike basis? As change swirls around, the terms matter.
The world of communication and product delivery is changing as the Web evolves and new services are introduced, enabling us to gain faster access to information, download richer media more quickly, and rapidly voice our opinions and feedback near and far in a wide variety of methods, including text, voice, video and imagery. As customers become more savvy and in tune with these new tools, we are also expecting those offering products and services to adapt, and as such, I thought it made sense to put forth what I believe are key tenets of a new consumer manifesto for today's real-time world.
Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so.
Last year marked several significant transitions for Seattle-based Starbucks. Howard Schultz returned to the role of chief executive officer, the company shuffled its leadership team, closed stores, introduced new products and shifted its focus from opening new stores to maintaining quality and customer loyalty. Though Starbucks was already in transition before the economic slump worsened, the recession intensified the need for corporate changes. Starbucks is an image company, one in which words matter. In 2009, executives described the coffee giant using a different set of terms than they used in 2007. The word clouds below show us how different.
There's a mindset out there that believes everything we are going through is just a temporary blip; a freak shower that will go away and be replaced by sunshine. The idea that normality will soon return is a pervasive storyline that you hear repeated over again in our media. There's simply no alternative expectation of a future other than a return to normality. What happens if instead of waiting for normality to return, we are lurching forward towards a new normal that looks nothing like the old one?
If it ain't broke, you can still make it better. How empathy helped a well-run disability insurance claims office do even better.
Considering the sophistication of humans as mammals, it is still interesting how we are doomed to repeat the same behavioral patterns as our primate ancestors, even when is comes to social media.
The advertising industry needs to do a better job of advertising itself, speakers and attendees at the 2009 American Association of Advertising Agencies leadership conference here said. On Tuesday, the association’s president and chief executive, Nancy Hill, announced the group would now go by the name 4A’s, since the “American” was too limited (advertisers do business internationally), as was “Advertising Agencies” (firms now offer public relations services as well). The name was not the only thing Ms. Hill wanted to change. With clients cutting budgets and the federal government considering stricter regulation of advertising, the industry needed an improved image, she said in a speech Tuesday.
Procter & Gamble Co. is giving its beauty and grooming division a dramatic makeover. As sales falter in its $27.8 billion global division, P&G plans to restructure the unit to make a greater play for men and could develop new products for high-end retailers, salons and spas, according to an internal company memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
About two weeks ago, Alexander Van Elsas had an interesting post where he asked several questions about the current state of web applications. If everything becomes open and connected, what will happen to the big destinations? Why is the web rapidly evolving into uncountable databases with connections, instead of one database where everything connects? If all services and destinations become open, then what is the point in being a destination site in the first place? Why are we creating webs within webs, instead of one network that connects it all? After thinking for a little bit, I realized that these questions are far from answered, and the answers are going to get harder to find.
I've been excited lately to see that the idea of crowdsourcing has caused such a stir. You know a paradigm is about to shift when lines start getting drawn in the sand. When I was writing about co-creation in Beyond the Brand back in 2003 I couldn’t even imagine how the open source movement would radically change so many businesses.
I'm having a hard time keeping a straight face as I read some of the latest commentary on the utility and measurement of social media. It's not that the folks doing the commenting aren't really smart and well-intentioned. Rather, it's just that I can't help but be reminded of participants at a UFO conference, presenting detailed analyses of smudged photos and heartfelt abductee testimonies. The sincerity of evangelists doesn't make their conclusions any more true, or believable.
For the past five years, "we" in search have been fighting "them" at the ad agencies for that slowly shifting piece of the overall marketing pie. In large part, we've been talking past each other the same way that jocks and geeks do in high school. As long as the jocks continued to win the affections of the pretty girl with the big marketing budget, the geeks were marginalized, making them an angry, depressed bunch. Well, you know what? Times have changed, and we've won.
The emerging war we’re seeing now is over change. I’m not talking about the post-9/11 resurgence of debate over Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations - though that’s certainly a front in this war. Instead, I’m talking about the clash over change within civilizations, the attempt by some to forestall its inevitability, and their attacks on those who enable, predict, and embrace change as if any of those actions cause change. It’s actually rather fatuous to set up a dispute between those who want and don’t want change, those who think change is good or bad. Change is inexorable. The question is not what you think about it but what you do about it.
Leading chocolate company Cadbury made a pretty amazing announcement last week. By this summer all the cocoa beans and sugar in its chocolate will be fair trade. Yup, that's right. Not a fair trade "ghetto" variant that raises questions about the rest of the range. The whole bloody lot.
A broad series of changes at Starbucks Corp., from instant coffee to new menu boards that leave off drink prices, show how the company is adjusting its upscale formula to the economic downturn.
Over the past few days, Facebook users have been gradually upgraded to a new layout for the fast-growing social network site. The company’s goals are twofold: First, simplify and expand the tools to manage the ever-increasing volume of friends’ messages, links, photos and videos. Second, experiment with new forms of advertising. The overwhelming reaction from users is, “Ugh, you changed it!”
Travel agents... gone. Stock brokers... gone. Real estate brokers... in trouble. Photographer's agents, too. Literary agents? The problem with being a helpful, efficient but largely anonymous middleman is pretty obvious. Someone can come along who is cheaper, faster and more efficient. And that someone might be the customer aided by a computer.
It's a big deal when a major corporation pledges to cut its carbon footprint--every detail of energy and transportation use needs to be taken into account--and it's an even bigger deal when a company as large as Microsoft says that it will reduce its carbon footprint by 30% compared to 2007 levels in the next three years. The company hasn't provided details on its 2007 carbon emissions, but it's safe to assume that Microsoft will be making some serious changes.
When industry norms start to die, people panic. It's difficult to change when you think that you must change everything in order to succeed. Changing everything is too difficult. Consider for a minute the pivot points available to you:
People are scared. Have you finally figured that out? They want to make sure that their marketplace decisions are "good" ones; that they'll receive "value" for their exchange of precious time and money. So how do you help them do that? The first step is to think and feel what your audience is feeling.
As Twitter quickly becomes a household name, some are finding uses for the microblogging tool that go beyond work and play. One of of the most thoughtful we’ve seen is Twipple - twittering + random acts of kindness.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s incoming president, Akio Toyoda, has a sobering message for the giant company founded by his grandfather: It has gotten too fancy for its own good. On Monday, three top executives who helped lead Toyota the past four years announced their retirement. The departures clear the way for Mr. Toyoda's planned makeover of the world's biggest auto maker.
Getting good at change is becoming one of the most important competitive advantages for a company. What you need to understand is that companies don't change -- people change. That said, if you can learn how to get good at change, you will be indispensable to your company. Employers need to find people who can navigate changes, acquisitions, new bosses and layoffs within their teams. Are there ways to get better at change? Absolutely.
The Postal Service has withstood challenges from the telegraph and telephone. It has adapted to stagecoaches, railroads, airplanes and other innovations that quickened the pace of American life; however, the economic crunch and digital mail may be forcing the postal service to change its operations.
After 162 years, the New England Confectionery Co. wants to be more than your Valentine.
PepsiCo today announced which ads will be running during the Super Bowl, sort of. The No. 2 cola giant has readied work for Pepsi, Pepsi Max, SoBe Lifewater and G (formerly Gatorade). However, it is hedging its bets as to which creative to run. Instead it is waiting to see which brands are getting the most buzz on the Internet, according to Massimo d’Amore, CEO, PepsiCo Americas Beverages.
Ikea's got Obama fever. Taking example from other large brands—including Ben & Jerry's and Hewlett-Packard—the Swedish home products retailer today kicked off an out-of-home ad campaign called "Embrace Change '09" that honors President-elect Barack Obama.
Most American consumers are simply too young to remember the Great Depression, and for a quarter century they've lived without extended economic hardship, becoming ever more acquisitive in a world of instant gratification and easy credit. The circumstances of the current recession are unprecedented in the history of modern consumerism. Factor in the loss of confidence in financial institutions and an investing world where even the very rich can be wiped out through Ponzi schemes, and you have consumers who are reconsidering long-held spending habits.
A recession is a hangover from excessive spending. Combine that with the November 2008 elections, which signified that most Americans crave big change, and it's a perfect time for non-traditional marketing people to make their moves.
IBM has created a list of five innovations that will change the way we all live over the next five years.
In the wake of Obama’s victory, we must rise together and manifest a cultural shift.
In a way, there’s something kind of cool about a company that changes its logo every decade or so: Each new logo is like a cultural milestone - a snapshot if you will, of that decade’s graphic flavor, and how tastes change over time. But I guess once you get past the cool time capsule thing, you kind of have to wonder: Has each change in logo actually resulted in some kind of benefit for the Pepsi Cola company?a