As a rule of thumb, marketers tend to avoid likening their products to excrement, even when its an apt comparison.
“User experience” no longer belongs just to tech companies. It now drives brand strategies all over the globe. This year, the most dynamic brands served as platforms for tangible experiences that brought their stories to life.
Some of the world’s most valuable and well-known companies share a common brand trait that has not been explored in depth. Apple, Dell, Ford, Google, Mars, Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks and Wal-Mart, to name just a few, are “founder brands.” These are brands where the founder or founding family exercises significant influence over the management of the brand and direction of the business. Davis Brand Capital identifies the qualities that define founder brands and explores some of the challenges in managing them for maximum value.
While the Penn State scandal and abdication of leadership is deplorable and unfortunately merits its sad attention, what happened at the venerable University of Virginia this spring is, in another way, astounding. It laid bare the unrelenting business assault roiling educational institutions, their custodians and their brands.
In its August issue, Vanity Fair charges Microsoft with losing its mojo, pinning much of the blame on CEO Steve Ballmer. While the article makes some useful and valid observations, it never completes the circle, relating them back fully to the larger, underlying issue that ails brand Microsoft: the company has strayed far from the management and proper deployment of its founding vision.
Marissa Mayer's move to Yahoo as CEO made me reexamine the question of personal brands. I maintain my position: they don't exist in any meaningful way. They are just (not terribly) fancy jargon for bloggers. What Mayer brings to Yahoo is not her personal brand, but the brand capital of Google.
The term "Guggenheim Effect" used to denote the positive role the brand played in Bilbao's resurgence as a destination site. It became well accepted vernacular, not only in the museum community, but among the wider community of brand and marketing experts. In recent weeks, however, the term has been re-appropriated by European media and citizens to express a much more negative and even sarcastic view of the cultural institution.
The ultimate proactivity of the Web is the semantic future of marketing. Every interaction is about data, and with enough of it, predictive analytics are possible. Is Big Data simply an idea to you - or do you have a plan to activate around information?
QR codes have become ubiquitous and so has the term digital strategy. Both are often treated by businesses as "silver bullets" without much understanding how to leverage either. QR codes, in particular, have been reduced to gadget status with little meaning but to annoy the consumer.
The ground rules for branding are rapidly evolving. Social media, content marketing, the younger generation, second screening, thought-leadership and the demographic shift are just some of the many things that are challenging brands to think differently. Creating and sustaining customer trust and loyalty is more difficult than ever before. Building relationships with consumers has never been more challenging, with so much competition for their attention. Look at the constant barrage of pop-up and video ads that flash before our eyes every time we use our phones, turn on our computers or tablets.
Today, rather than paying for a daily newspaper, most people get their news for free online and many incumbent media businesses have begun erecting paywalls for their content. Yet, as I’ve said before, paywalls aren’t generally a smart way to go. Successfully implementing a paid platform requires a smart business model, not a moral crusade.
CEO Satya Nadella rolled out a new version of Microsoft’s marketing OS yesterday, announcing in a memo that Chris Capossela is replacing the departing Tami Reller as EVP and CMO. Meanwhile, Mark Penn — the pot-stirring ex-politico who is fond of data-driven decision-making and skeptical about good old intuition — is moving up from directly overseeing advertising to the more nebulous title of EVP and chief strategy officer.
Just a few years ago, consumer packaged goods brands didn’t know what success in a new world powered by content and social media looked like—never mind how to achieve it. But the recent past has brought a slew of content marketing breakthroughs and successes for CPG brands, which in turn has led to bolder experimentation.
Building a brand is best achieved by developing a reputation in the community for having expert knowledge within your industry niche. While everyone wants to have their brand become an overnight sensation, it is important to keep in mind that becoming a leader within a niche takes time and determination.
What business are you in? It seems like a straightforward question, and one that should take no time to answer. But the truth is that most company leaders are too narrow in defining their competitive landscape or market space. They fail to see the potential for “non-traditional” competitors, and therefore often misperceive their basic business definition and future market space.
Over the past five years, General Mills has transformed its lesser-known $2-billion Convenience & Foodservice division, bringing more innovative new products to key growth channels such as convenience stores, schools, hotels, hospitals, restaurants and bakeries throughout the United States, according to the company's new case study on the division. Recently, General Mills further committed to the shift in focus by changing the division's name from Bakeries & Foodservice to its current title.
“What you don’t want is a customer walking into a store in downtown Seattle, walking into a store in the suburbs of Seattle and then going into a store in San Jose, and seeing the same store,” Sleeth explains. So how do you make the world’s largest coffee house feel like a neighborhood haunt? The answer: good design.
Top CEOs Agree: Let Customers Drive Your Business Strategy, Break Down Silos, And Be Entrepreneurial
As we travel through untrodden territories of our digital new world, the old platitude “The only constant is change” has become our new compass. New competitors – in fact new industries – surface seemingly overnight as old business models flash into obsolescence; creating predictable quarterly growth is becoming harder to navigate.
While the holiday season is undoubtedly a busy period for small business owners, it’s important to set aside time to plan your marketing strategy for the year ahead. How will you continue to maintain and grow your business in 2014? What plans do you have to keep your business on track and stay ahead of the competition?
The strategic question that drives business today is not “What else can we make?” but “What else can we do for our customers?” Customers and the market—not the factory or the product—now stand at the core of the business. This new center of gravity demands a rethink of some long-standing pillars of strategy.
To many skeptical consumers in developed markets, Brand China still means lower quality. As has been the case elsewhere in Asia, companies in China traditionally focused on asset-intensive industries and low-cost manufacturing and paid little attention to intangibles such as brands and human capital. To become major branded players away from home, Chinese companies must address their challenges in three strategic ways.
It seems we’re all racing to get more entrepreneurial. Increasing creativity and innovation is not only on the priority list for start-ups; it’s also a strategic goal for CEOs of small, medium, and large-sized companies. Despite this growing obsession, however, big companies are still not very good at it.
Marketing investments in new channels are certainly necessary, as companies learn to master omni-channel marketing. But marketers should also remember that email marketing also requires investment, as it continues to evolve. Marketers need to adapt to a new inbox in order to harness the full power of email.
Growth hacking is sexy these days: surrounded with hype but often misunderstood. Most people equate it with viral user acquisition, when virality is actually just one part of the methodology. Another big piece--which will be the focus of this post--is word of mouth.
Managers routinely claim that their strategic planning process creates large, detailed documents, but often little else. It’s as if the process serves no purpose other than to create the plan, and execution is somehow separate. An approach that we think might work better would be to treat strategy making as if it were a design process.
Shops Can Provide a Critical Objectivity That Marketers Are Incapable Of
Sales teams and marketing teams pursue a common objective: create customer value and drive company results. But sales and marketing don’t always get along. Certainly, all-out war between the two teams drains productivity.
Traditionally, SEO has focused on content, website architecture and linking. These areas of focus are still critical, but as social media gradually becomes more important for SEO, it’s also about identity, relationships and content.
Few things are more important for a leader than the ability to formulate and implement strategy. Not only is it one of the primary roles of a great leader, it is also one of the critical areas of competence that inspires and motivates people in an organization.
It’s a common question: why bother to blog (or use other forms of social media) when it’s so hard to build a following, and you may toil in obscurity for years before finding an audience?
The basic function of marketing promotion has changed. It is no longer enough to simply grab attention, you need to be able to hold attention and that’s where social strategy comes in.
Strategic decisiveness is one of the most vital success attributes for leaders in every position and every industry, but few leaders understand where it comes from or how to find more of it.
Marketers Left to Sift Through Flurry of Options as Agencies, Talent Houses, Productions Studios Look for a Piece of the Action.
Digital skills are in high demand and short supply. But first things first — how do you define a digital team when nearly everything is digital?
Ask a CEO if they want to spend a pile of money on an analysis of their company's story, and they'll probably throw you out of their office. But if you tell them that you have a powerful insight that can help them raise the prices on all of their products, they might ask you over to their house for dinner.
Data shows that consumers demand value
In the beginning, mobile advertising was all about conversions. Remember QR codes? Vouchers? What got people excited about mobile were the opportunities that didn't exist at all on desktop.
To be competitive, financial services providers must look to embrace new technologies and find innovative ways to cater to today’s connected customer.
Most corporations consist of multiple divisions, which set their own strategy (what we generally refer to as "business strategy"). But more often than not, these dvisions have very little to do with one another.
The Hidden Benefits of Social Media Marketing Why Your Strategy May Be Working Better Than You Think
If you’re feeling a bit skeptical about social media marketing and whether or not it’s worth the effort, following are some reasons why it may be working better than you realize.
J.C. Penney's disastrous 4th quarter 2012 loss of $2.51 per share, which capped off a year with a greater than 30% same-store sales decline, should have come as no surprise.
What was the purpose? What was the process? Whose ends were being served? How should we judge success? But we seldom look any deeper than first impressions, wallowing instead in a churning maelstrom of snap judgments. Should we be surprised when the general public jumps right in after us?
The most common question B-to-B marketers ask me is: “How do I use social media to get more leads?” And the answer is:...
Advertisers always knew there would come a time when budgets would need to shift to mobile to keep pace with changing consumption habits. That time is now. The mobile web is growing 14 times faster than desktop traffic, as consumers interact with apps, social network and email from a slew of smart devices.
On Wednesday, the search giant launched an application contest to let regular people from all walks of life try out the head-mounted, augmented reality "glasses." They simply have to prove they deserve it.
This week Panera Bread launched its largest campaign to date, which includes an increase in digital spending of just under 100%.
What's striking about Fast Company's 2013 list of the world's 50 most innovative companies is the relative absence of large, established firms. Instead the list is dominated by the big technology winners of the past 20 years that have built innovation into their DNA, and a lot of smaller, newer start-ups. So why doesn't innovation thrive in mature organizations?
If brands want to improve their customer perception, having a well-rounded social communications practice that serves both as a marketing outlet and as a place for consumers to solve service issues will help.
Microsoft's co-founder and current chairman Bill Gates praised the company's investments in Windows 8 and Bing, but said Microsoft is still not doing enough to innovate.
All agencies think innovation = digital. As a result, we’re not seeing genuine innovation; instead we’re seeing more interruption, in more places, on more devices. Ad agencies need to innovate, and innovate fast, but are caught in what is known as, ‘the innovator’s paradox.’
Unfortunately, a lot of dealerships subscribe to the old-school philosophy: if research starts online, consideration and choice still happen in the showroom. Clayton Stanfield, senior manager of dealer training at eBay Motors and a former dealership Internet sales manager himself, says things are changing when it comes to how dealerships are handling prospects.
A focus on customer insights is a good thing -- but when marketing organizations fail to anticipate competitors’ moves that affect customers, all the insights may be for naught? When was the last time you and your team took time to consider how your rivals operate, or might operate based on changes that you make?
Coca-Cola China's TV ad for the Hong Kong market invited viewers to use their smartphones to "chok" bottle caps flying across their TV screens. The new wrinkle is that gaming can be embedded in ads — perhaps the only hope of engaging some people's interest long enough to get a message across.
Large companies like IBM, Syngenta, Procter & Gamble, 3M, and Unilever show that innovation can be a repeatable discipline. Yet, with all of this progress it still feels like a positive surprise when you see a large company confidently approach the challenges of innovation.
Nike CEO Mark Parker On His Company's Digital Future: Body-Controlled Music, Color-Coded Heart Rates
"Nike has broken out of apparel and into tech, data, and services, which is so hard for any company to do." In the coming years, Nike will expand its footprint in the digital space, especially through partnerships like the one it struck with TechStars, to attract startups to build on the Nike+ platform.
Content marketing is a hot topic among CMOs, and I see it as one of the primary factors that can make –or break –brand authenticity in today’s marketplace.
Dozens of studies have searched in vain for the equivalent rethink of gender stereotypes in advertising. In a recent meta-analysis of 64 advertising-content studies, sexist stereotypes dominate.
Samsung yesterday announced the launch of a new Open Innovation Center in Silicon Valley that aims at connecting the conglomerate with the latest and greatest software ideas.
Is it not ironic that we call customers “targets” and seek to engineer their empathy in “war rooms?" The hostilities are endless. And it’s not enough to win. Someone must lose. Beating the competitor takes precedence over helping the customer.
Marketers in many industries have a “push-pull” problem: They spend a lot of time devising ways to pull in customers -- identifying the right buyer segments, crafting messages and making promises. But their efforts are frequently undermined by company behaviors that push customers away.
Over the next few months, all of Hearst Digital Media‘s titles are getting a new look. The new responsive design is the more obvious change. It’s an increasingly popular strategy for companies to adapt to mobile by creating websites that rearrange themselves based on the size of the screen.
With nothing more than carefully selected images and a few poignant words the mysterious man known as Steve Okyln has the fashion world chatting, clicking, gawking, laughing and fuming. Maybe if the world knew who he was people would have a place to direct their anger, but his anonymity is clearly one of his strongest weapons.
Zappos founder Tony Hsieh has added three Cs: collision, community, and co-learning. Hsieh’s big bet is that exposing his employees to serendipity--within both the office and the city--will ultimately make them smarter, happier, and more productive. That means: no hiding behind partitions.
We’re more fooled by noise than ever before, and it’s because of a nasty phenomenon called “big data.” With big data, researchers have brought cherry-picking to an industrial level. Modernity provides too many variables, but too little data per variable. So the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information.
According to 39,000 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age, drawn from the nine US Census Regions, who self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the products and services for which they are customers, the desire for real brands is driven by emotional engagement.
I think there are 3 key shifts going on and each requires a different response from innovation leaders – heck from strategists, CEOs, CIOs, CMos and just about everyone. This is urgent. First – how do we think about innovation? It’s either incremental or disruptive, right? Well, no.
While for-profit companies and governments are able to engage in “building a smarter planet” with the likes of IBM, nonprofits and the organizations that make up the social sector lack the means to engage such sophisticated talent. And yet money is not the major factor keeping the social sector from embracing the data age.
Belling says influencer marketing was critical from day one, when popchips was just a little indie brand that could. They knew they didn’t have the budget for a traditional ad campaign, so how else to get the word out? By getting as many snacks into the hands that mattered.
The New York Times is opening up its office space and expertise to media startups through timeSpace. The scheme is opening up office space at the newspaper’s headquarters at 620 8th Avenue, New York City, to provide fledgling businesses with a four-month program.
Strategy is not planning — it is the making of an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.
Somehow, almost all of these institutions have continued to attract enough students to stay in business year after year. That’s about to change, and one of the key differences in who survives won’t be the academic output of the faculty or the amenities available to students. It will be a factor seemingly unrelated to the schools’ mission: branding.
The space-based web we currently have will gradually be replaced by a time-based worldstream. It’s already happening, and it all began with the lifestream, a phenomenon that I (with Eric Freeman) predicted in the 1990s and shared in the pages of Wired almost exactly 16 years ago.
The formula is simple. It involves just three basic ingredients. And yet, year after year, so many generally decent practitioners get it so embarrassingly wrong. I am, of course, talking about what it takes to create a super Super Bowl advertisement.
In this "postdigital" era, brands must confront “a new normal and a new basis of competition, with digitalization at its core,” says Mark White, Deloitte principal and CTO. Forward-thinking organizations have to figure out how to bake in the digital forces of mobile, analytics, social and the cloud, he adds.
Clusters are a radical alternative to our traditional notion of teams. They are formed outside a company context, but are hired and paid by companies as a unit, as a permanent part of the company.
Burrito chain Chipotle is branching out and trying to become a lifestyle brand in order to beat it’s rivals. The company has launched a line of organic clothes and accessories, is hosting ‘locavore’ festivals that champion local and sustainable food choices, and backing a dark comedy video series about a PR man defending industrial farming.
Forbes lists the best Superbowl ads of all time...
Businesses often engage in an analytical and creative process to develop or review their brand positioning. Without a strong strategic foundation, however, the outcome may not be as effective.
The long delayed release is critical to BlackBerry’s attempt to re-enter the marketplace. Once the darling of company-issued smartphones, owning nearly a quarter of the marketplace in the U.S., they currently have about a 4% share.
How often do you come face-to-face with a hotel employee, fast food entrée, or piece of technology and say, “this is not quite living up to the dream?” Most of the time, we sigh and accept the perceptual gap between the brand promise and our experience.
Vine and Snapchat both use the simplest of interactions--holding your finger anywhere on the screen (which I’ll call “tap-and-hold”)--to power core functions in their interface. And in each case, that single interaction changes everything about the app.
With media consumption shifting to mobile platforms in an increasingly fragmented environment, media companies face the uncomfortable prospect of trading dollars for dimes, while marketers and agencies are challenged with greater complexity in reaching desired audiences. But what may appear as a dark cloud is actually full of silver linings, and those who get ahead of the curve in embracing this change can not only survive but thrive in the post-PC paradigm.
Design judges at the 2012 Cannes International Festival of Creativity had a "Cocoon" moment. They ran in and out of the jury room with the glee of 5-year-olds, having just gotten their hands on a magical piece of work from Serviceplan, Munich. On the surface, it was a completely blank white book. But all came to light -- literally -- when the book was exposed to the sun and its rays interacted with specially treated paper to reveal the content within.
Buffeted by declining advertising, which accounted for about 75% of their revenue historically, magazines are turning to tablet computers and digital editions to boost circulation revenue. In doing so, they are hoping to reset decades of subscription discounting so deep that a year's supply of magazines like Esquire currently costs just $8.
Following The New York Times' recent success, online paywalls (particularly the metered-access kind) have been popping up on newspaper websites across the globe. In the U.S. alone, nearly half of all newspapers now have some sort of online paywall.
As we enter 2013 and technologies and communications channels continue to evolve, it is imperative that brands embrace the new demands of today's empowered consumer -- relevant experiences at every touchpoint.
Much like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and other newsmakers before him, Lance Armstrong opted to tell his story to Oprah Winfrey. In the wake of Armstrong’s tell-all, there are three crystallized marketing insights that we can all learn from.
So what's NFC? It technically stands for Near Field Communications, and it enables mobile devices like smartphones to communicate with nearby devices and objects with a simple tap.
Clearly, brands could stand to do more to keep consumers interested; the chief reason given by people who don't engage with brands on social networks is that they only "like" brands to get a deal they're offering.
Marketers are blessed to have so much insight into their customers’ behavior and interests, and the volume of this valuable data is growing exponentially. What is clear is that CMOs are struggling to take advantage of this great blessing.
When Instagram joined Facebook last April, a race to crown a “Instagram for Video” revved into full throttle. With Instagram's $1 billion price tag fresh in their minds, investors rushed to fund or acquire a piece of what seemed to be the next step in the evolution of social media.
While the digital era has led to many difficulties, challenges and changes for the music industry, it also has opened opportunities for music fans to interact with their favorite acts in ways that were not possible before.
Nissan will dabble in automotive aromatherapy at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, launching a "brand smell" that it hopes to eventually roll out to its dealerships. Nissan describes the fragrance as "quite a modern smell — a bit Oriental."
Amazon is announcing “AutoRip,” a new service that will give anyone who has ever purchased a CD on Amazon over the past 15 years a free digital copy of that album.
While it’s unlikely that focus groups can create an innovative idea, they can help evolve one--fine-tuning how it will be embraced and determining the feature set, price point, and physical embodiment of the core idea.
As a process and a profession, marketing is increasingly under attack for not delivering business value. This perception is sometimes due to the fact that it is easy for us to become enamored with the “producing” part of marketing.
How can the banks seize on ongoing events – legal, economic, political – to energize recovery in a strict business sense and to reverse the inexorable tide of public acrimony?
Millions of otherwise tech-illiterate consumers came to know Intel through its "Intel Inside" campaign, which at the time was an incredibly novel marketing approach. Here's what you can learn from their innovative strategy.
Many times, the ability to remain silent is the best communication strength you could have. When is silence not good?
Even in the internet age, events are big, and important, business. The Aberdeen Group finds that 9 percent of an organization’s total budget is spent on events and that figure is expected to climb 20 percent over the next two years.
Imagine Walt Disney World with no entry turnstiles. Cash? Passe. Visitors would wear rubber bracelets encoded with credit card information, snapping up corn dogs and Mickey Mouse ears with a tap of the wrist. Smartphone alerts would signal when it is time to ride Space Mountain, without standing in line. Fantasyland? Hardly. It happens starting this spring.
Waste in advertising is historically endemic and significant. For example, half of all online display impressions are never viewable. Eliminating waste is a C-suite imperative in the new normal. Big data is the gas tank of the new marketing machine, and analytic systems are becoming the engine, but we're missing a few parts
A new TV network targeting millennials is coming next summer. The new channel comes from Participant Media, a producer of 'An Inconvenient Truth.' Participant Media, which finances and produces socially relevant films and documentaries, said Monday that is has acquired The Documentary Channel and entered into an agreement to buy the distribution assets of Halogen TV from The Inspiration Networks.
Regardless of industry, finding and sourcing relevant content and internal resource constraints were the top two roadblocks to successful content marketing programs.
When organizations give people a sense of meaning in their work, it's not only good for employees, but it's critical to building a healthy organization — one that is well-functioning and competitive.
Most companies are the centers of their own universes. It's a natural enough impression; after all, the products and services they offer are on their minds 24/7. The trap is in those companies deluding themselves into thinking that they are as important to their customers as they are to themselves. This is almost never the case. This delusion interferes with understanding customers and their needs, and frequently leads companies to talk to customers in ways that seem foreign or confusing.
With New Fantasyland, we seized the opportunity to bring to life some new classic stories — Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid — using innovative technology and entertainment approaches that elevate the guest experience beyond anything we’ve ever delivered.
Despite all the talk about newspapers being a dying business, plenty of them are profitable. Recent history shows that profits are hardly necessary for a sale if the buyer's motivation and the price are right.
To a certain extent—in this age of marketing ourselves, finding our niches and explaining how our distinctive personal backstories make for unique selling propositions—all our names are brand names. But some have gone above and way beyond.
Many publishers are finding clever ways to use social media to expand the reach of their ad programs or to make their paid products more appealing.
Content is all the rage these days, but it falls flat if you don’t consider one of the most important aspects of your site: navigation.
While endless bands and consumer brands of all shapes busily chase the latest glib advice on how to connect with the marketplace…and fail…this band has defied today’s Conventional Wisdom and built a reliable, sustainable, and profitable franchise.
As social newsfeeds become ever more cluttered, the attention span of the social audience is becoming shorter, prompting brands to enact new strategies to effectively engage their audiences in meaningful ways that will keep attention.
Some Brand Positioning, Huh? HSBC spent years positioning itself as the “worldwide local bank.” They did it via a campaign that featured series of similar visuals and single-word observations, which were designed to indicate that HSBC understood the subtleties of cultural differences and were fully invested in understanding multiple perspectives.
Associational thinking takes unrelated ideas and restructures them in novel ways. It's responsible for innovations from the theory of dinosaur extinction to Pinterest's groundbreaking layout. So how do you apply this principle to your business?
Lots of companies have committed, recasting stories through platforms that look more like digital magazines than traditional websites, and more. While all the attention may give it the luster of a fad today, brand content is nothing new.
What can we expect from Lacoste, the traditionally ‘preppy’ brand that arguably hit its stride in the 1980s?
Rick Marazzani believes readers should be able to share and discover e-books through their friends' personal libraries just like they do with print books. That's why he built Ownshelf. Ownshelf, a free web service that launched in beta Friday, provides readers with a cloud storage platform to share e-books with friends and family.
By putting its talks online in 2006, what was previously a members-only affair—an annual Davos-like conclave of wealthy Silicon Valley and Hollywood types—suddenly became an enormous and almost democratic cultural force, reaching millions of viewers around the world.
Most other newspapers in the country, including the New York Times and Gannett Co.'s local papers, have introduced paywalls in the past year or so, generating increased circulation revenues that offset print advertising losses. But among major newspapers, the Post has stood almost alone in its decision to keep its website free.
A larger purpose isn't just good karma. Leaders who instill their company with a greater mission have more motivated employees and more loyal customers.
What’s caused U.S. firms to lose the most shareholder value in the last 10 years? A new Booz study — actually, a repeat of one it did in 2004 — once again came up with the same result. The culprit wasn’t external shocks like the Great Recession.
NDN has grown because online publishers can’t get enough video content (and the ad dollars that come with it). The company's selling point is that it provides the platform and video content and sells the advertising at no cost to its partner publishers—while giving content creators wider distribution for their video content.
Campbell’s soup held a special place on the American dinner table for the better part of the 20th century. But in the last few years its core soup business, which accounts for half the company’s $7.7 billion in annual revenues, has faded to 46% market share from 51% in 2007, an ever smaller part of an ever smaller food category. An ill-advised move into low-sodium formulations under Morrison’s predecessor, Doug Conant, accelerated the decline.
Many CMOs seem to be struggling to gain alignment and to build consensus across their lines of business and into the board room. As a result, the C-suite can be plagued with uncertainty and misunderstanding, and CMOs are starting to worry about losing relevance. What does it take to get us all on the same page, pulling together?
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation, talks about making an impact both globally and locally, and how any company can be a better corporate citizen.
After years of ignoring it (accompanied by attendant crappy sales), Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand is reintroducing itself under a new name, the Lincoln Motor Company.
One of the hottest marketing catchphrases of 2012 is "data is the new creative." The premise is that all the creative in the world won't help you if your decisions are not data-driven.
It is a revolutionary breakthrough worthy of Willy Wonka – Cadbury has found a way to make chocolate that doesn’t melt in hot weather. The new bars of Dairy Milk stay completely solid even when exposed to temperatures of 104F for more than three hours.
News Corp. is shutting down The Daily, its ambitious daily newspaper for the tablet market, after two years.
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of baby gear and preschool toys, Fisher-Price believes that traditional branding processes no longer guarantee success. To differentiate its brands in a highly competitive industry, the company maintains a laser-like focus on creativity and innovation -- and its sphere of influence is large.
Whether it is Walmart or Metro, I have found that many of the global retailers’ expansion plans are irrelevant and hurt the bottom line. Tesco is a good example.
This month, the chief executive officers of America's biggest companies went on a media blitz to decry the uncertainty caused by the fiscal cliff. In such uncertain times, they say, they are hesitant to invest in the US economy.
2012 has been the year of growth for content marketing. Brands have begun to embrace the discipline as a vital part of their overall strategy. What was once a conversation on “why content marketing” has turned into a conversation on “how to.”
With the newsroom housed 24 floors below, the seven-year-old R&D Lab acts as a tech startup of sorts inside the New York Times Co., home of the 161-year-old, self-styled newspaper of record. With 20 staffers, the lab’s mix of crazy smart technologists, programmers, designers and business brains are charged with the Sisyphean task of developing tech innovations and new business models to help the struggling Times weather an uncertain future following five consecutive years of falling revenue and net losses totaling more than $300 million over seven years.
Twitter and Facebook usually aren’t the last click before an ecommerce buy, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t inspire or influence the purchase. Yet IBM’s Black Friday report says Twitter delivered 0 percent of referral traffic and Facebook sent just 0.68 percent.
For a few years now, Chipotle has regarded traditional marketing as largely irrelevant for its needs. But the one TV buy it made this year -- its first national TV ad, no less -- garnered more attention than most marketers dream of getting.
Just how is Apple able to perform so much better than other consumer electronics retailers and world-renowned brands? And more important, why haven’t any of them been able to duplicate Apple’s magic formula yet?
Successful social business starts with transforming your organization internally. This is often overlooked as a crucial step toward social business. Yet not only does having an internal social business system make businesses more effective at the external effort, it’s often critical for a company’s long-term social business success.
Hostess’ management never figured out how to transition its product portfolio amid a sea change in consumer tastes, to have the kind of product-line evolution that companies such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Danone all mastered.
There are many vehicles, outlets, and opportunities for great brand storytelling. To make the best use of them, companies need writers who understand narrative, style, and voice. And to do that, they need to support the good writers they employ and foster the development of good writing skills among others.
In the corporate world, the HP Way has been to sell the servers and professional services that companies need, and then to partner with big software companies like Oracle and SAP for the applications. This has left HP holding the bag with low-margin businesses.
Everyone thinks they have a digital strategy these days. But while your company may have a business or IT strategy that incorporates digital technology, an IT strategy does not equal a digital strategy. Why?
ROI needs rethinking -- not because it’s no longer effective, but because it may result in the strategic emphasis being placed potentially on the wrong kind of marketing activities.
Forget about the clicks and check-ins so commonly associated with what many marketers call the "second screen" experience, which typically involves use of a tablet or smartphone while the user watches anything from "The Voice" to "Hoarders." Marketers are starting to use the medium with more in mind than just sparking idle talk.
Social media allow like-minded people to coalesce, and have increased the ability of companies to tap into their customers’ humanity. But there’s a twist: while companies want to use social media to tap into this and because it does a lot of their outreach for them, it also requires something more of the companies that enter the social space.
“We believe the tea category is ripe for reinvention and rapid growth. The Teavana acquisition now positions us to disrupt and lead, just as we did with espresso starting three decades ago,” Starbucks CEO
A few weeks ago, at the Fast Company offices, we convened an all-star panel of designers and design leaders to talk about the problems that they found most vexing in the past year, and what they were trying to do to solve them.
“As technology marches on, it will lead to the inevitable revolution of businesses acting in the genuine interest of their customers.”
Lately we’ve heard a chorus of skepticism regarding the importance of viewability, and some say that there is no correlation between viewability and conversion rate. In reality, there are only three reasons why one could legitimately argue that viewability doesn't matter.
In the 1980s, Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea’s octogenarian founder, started building a series of foundations to protect the business after his death and minimise its tax bills, a contentious move in egalitarian Sweden.
Ask yourself: do you know how much more valuable these customers are than others? If you could turn another 10% or 20% of your client base into loyal, enthusiastic patrons like these, do you know how much more growth that would generate?
How do you launch a brand from scratch? And how do you turn a brand around that has begun to flag? But the third and focus of this article is: How do you push a brand past a plateau?
One factor is emerging as the essential difference between the Obama and Romney campaigns on November 6: the absolute failure of Romney’s get-out-the-vote effort, which underperformed even John McCain’s lackluster 2008 turnout.
Boston.com has begun offering advertisers the chance to write their own blog posts, joining a growing list of web publishers pinning at least some of their hopes on a tactic variously known as native advertising, custom content or branded content.
In the late 1990s, digital marketing debuted to great fanfare, but it was still fundamentally about advertising to customers. But in the past several years, new social and mobile tools have upended that paradigm.
What's going to kill the TV business, or at least challenge it, isn't Apple designing the perfect remote or Microsoft designing a superior guide. It's two things.
A thoughtful identity gives a multinational disease research network a new way to communicate.
It used to be that brands and agencies would create ad campaigns, push them live, and use the resulting consumer reaction to help inform the next campaign. But with the rise of real-time data, marketers can now keep tabs on real-time consumer reaction and use that knowledge to make smarter decisions around all facets of creating, distributing and measuring brand campaigns.
In case you didn’t notice over the past several years the amount of patent battles between some pretty big brands have been waged in the courts. Samsung vs. Apple. Google vs. Facebook. And on and on and on. The folks over at visual.ly put together this handy dandy graphicso you can keep score at home.
Ahead of today's Halo 4 release The Verge has revealed that plans are underfoot at Redmond to develop a gaming tablet, the Xbox Surface. It's a seven-incher and its production has so far been kept apart from existing Xbox lines.
Companies like Google and Facebook have had access to vast amounts of data on how consumers behave on the web for years. Now you can get access to this same kind of Big Data, even if you don’t have their scale.
The power of the network effect is fading, at least in its current incarnation. Traditionally defined as a system where each new user on the network increases the value of the service for all others, a network effect often creates a winner-takes-all dynamic, ordaining one dominant company above the rest. Moreover, these companies often wield monopoly-like powers over their industries.
Companies are engaging customers every day, and pitching their wares to new prospects just as often. Why, then, is it so hard to come up with a compelling and agreed-upon “Why Us” story?
Holiday Inn is celebrating its 60th year in business by going back to its roots as an innovator in the hospitality industry. Here are the highlights.
D'Aloisio's company released a news reading app today that summarizes news articles, creating a sort of Cliff Notes for the news, for the iPhone. It'll be the second time the London-based teenager has repackaged his product, and this time he did it because he feels like the consumption of news on mobile devices hasn't been properly addressed.
We continuously hear of the ever-changing digital age and predictions now and then, of doom and gloom within the newspaper, magazine, radio and outdoor media marketplaces, among others. Forward-thinking marketers and media executives, however, continually find ways to adapt, evolve and reinvent traditional communication platforms.
"Hyperlocal" news sites that focus their coverage on small towns and city neighborhoods are reporting big traffic surges from Sandy, with local residents keen to find out about their towns' storm preparedness yesterday and about property damage and when power will be restored today, with much of it driven by search.
The key for every firm — regardless of size — is to figure out how to consistently create value in a demanding, ever-changing market. That is hard no matter what size you are, no matter what industry you're in.
What could we learn from the masters of English about great communications? Is there a set of rules we could apply?
Penguin, the most famous name in British publishing, has confirmed its merger with the German-owned Random House, creating the biggest book publisher seen, accounting for about one in four of all books sold.
For years, Microsoft sidelined itself from the world of Web standards. Internet Explorer, especially the now-despised IE6, exemplified how spurning standards held back the Web. But Microsoft has performed an about-face.
With consumers already uncomfortable about their data being collected for marketing purposes, promoting a term that sounds a lot like other industry-based labels with negative connotations has some marketers scratching their heads.
The answer to that question has dramatic consequences for low-GDP countries and small businesses everywhere. If the cost of innovation is falling, that should enable more of it from poorer countries, companies or cooperatives. If it's not, the already big and already rich will dominate innovation.
The New York Times suspended the paywall on its site and apps Sunday afternoon, as people turn to online news outlets to get more information about Hurricane Sandy. The storm is scheduled to make landfall in New Jersey Monday night.
I would argue that we have yet to see a startup nail ANY part of the video experience except for sharing. Apps in this category include Viddy, SocialCam, Klip, Chill, Vodio, and more. To me, this is classic Silicon Valley just building something they’re comfortable building: platforms, social graphs, viral hooks, blah, blah, blah.
At any given moment, Diageo has between 2.5 billion and 3 billion bottles sitting in stores around the world, acting as passive "pitchmen" for its brands. Now Diageo has found a way for the bottles to literally speak to the consumers who buy them.
Today there are more than 2,000 ways to bring more interactive and engaging Tweets to your stream –– on twitter.com, as well as Twitter for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
According to Booz & Company research, the most successful acquisitions are not for diversification. In analyzing the 2011 deals in three industries, the consulting firm found that purchases of like companies were much more likely to be winners than losers.
The potential of personalized online marketing, when done well, is enormous—and for that reason, it’s a compelling sell. The problem is, it hasn’t been done successfully thus far. And thanks to vendor hype and overpromise, just mention the word “personalization,” and most have learned to greet it with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Midwest retailer Meijer is supporting United Way literacy programs across the Midwest through a new partnership with Better World Books.
When it comes to brands and marketing, the application of story now needs to go beyond the traditional and ubiquitous tool of brand story; rather, it’s about engaging consumers in a brand’s stories and using the construct of stories and storytelling to create powerful connections.
Time had social media users high on its mind when it decided to move to responsive design. Social media now accounts for at least 12 percent of referrals to Time.com, and most people who click on Time links from Facebook, Twitter and the like are doing so on a mobile.
Why do some advertisers and agencies look at the world one silo at a time when, in fact, our media world is cross-referenced but brand messages across them are not completely integrated?
Newspapers in Brazil have uncoupled themselves from Google News, claiming that their presence on the search engine is preventing their online operations from growing. It's a pre-emptive strike on the firm, involving all 154 members of the Associacao Nacional de Journais--that's 90% of the country's circulation of dailies.
To Starbucks, baristas are not just baristas--they are ambassadors of brand, merchants of romance, disciples of delight. The company recently invested millions in a "Leadership Lab" designed to drill that message in for 9,600 store managers. So did it work?
If you’re really looking for trouble, try posting something on Facebook about your political preferences! A study from the Pew Research Center discovered the remedy for 20% of social networkers who received political puffery too frequently or political opinions antithetical to their own was – wait for it – unfriending or blocking!
Kohl’s has struggled to regain sales momentum. Total sales in the past year increased only 2.2% despite a continuing store opening program which last year increased its store base by 3.4% to 1127 units. The Kohl’s formula of beating competition on product value, combined with a powerful promotional program is not motivating the consumer anymore.
Microsoft Corp. seems to be serious about its foray into the tablet market – the software giant is planning large volume production of its first tablet computer, Surface, in the fourth quarter.
One dirty secret of web analytics is that the information we get is limited. If you want to see how someone came to your site, it's usually pretty easy. When you follow a link from Facebook to The Atlantic, a little piece of metadata hitches a ride that tells our servers. There are circumstances, however, when there is no referrer data. This means that this vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs.
After almost a decade of self-imposed corporate exile, Mr. Pittman is back in the corporate saddle and on a mission. In his new role heading Clear Channel, the MTV founder and high-profile AOL alum has a grandiose goal: to reinvent radio, a business many have left for dead.
Since 2005, micro-blogging platforms like Facebook and Twitter have changed the medium in which IBM often communicates, but the company remains committed to blogging and is an especially enthusiastic user of Tumblr, though you can find IBMers on Instagram, Pinterest and any other up-and-coming social media site.
Shoppers at the new International Finance Center Mall in Seoul can find their way around the four-story complex by approaching one of 26 information kiosks. When they do, they also are being watched. Kiosks at a Seoul mall, above, would use facial recognition software to decide what ads to present shoppers. Just above each kiosk's LCD touch screen sit two cameras and a motion detector
The sports highlight is extremely predictable by now: an amazing play, sequence or moment is replayed from one or more angles, while a news anchor or announcer recaps what happened. Sometimes the video runs along with its original play-by-play audio, or maybe with the live radio call. But, in the age of social media permeation and mobile video proliferation, this is no longer enough, according to UNITE.
From rooftop bashes and acquisition talks to staff clashes and layoffs, Hipstamatic’s founders and ex-employees describe the startup’s losing struggle to keep pace with Instagram, Facebook, and others in the white-hot photo-sharing space.
Starting in March, Wendy’s will introduce its first logo makeover since 1983. The redesign, only the fifth since Wendy’s was launched in 1969, features an updated, more prominent cameo graphic of the iconic pigtailed Wendy’s character and a sleeker, more contemporary script font.
Throughout the succinct two-year history of social television, successes and failures have taught practitioners three valuable lessons. In fact, these lessons apply to practitioners in any major medium (radio, film, television, journalism).
Why is it that some brands launch like meteors, captivating our imaginations and our wallets, only to fall spectacularly into marketing oblivion? And perhaps more importantly for marketers today: How can this fate be avoided? The answer lies in the difference between what is required to generate initial trial of a new product, versus building a relevant equity that stimulates ongoing interest and repeat business.
When asked to describe the main benefit of a diverse organization, Niloufar Molavi doesn’t mince words. “Innovation,” she says without hesitation.
Reed Elsevier is selling the 107-year-old magazine as the company refocuses on electronic data services and research offerings, the two companies said in a statement today.
So fervent is our desire for Design, we have created “Design Thinking”. And to prove its theorems, Stanford now has a D School to remind us that we can’t just create things from blue sky. From sea to shining sea, the U.S. has become obsessed with Design.
Digital accountability, a new breed of thinking challenging the historical tinkering mindset of digital marketers. Digital accountability has its roots in the simplest of principles –- digital marketing is a mature art. Like events, sponsorships, branding and advertising, digital now takes its permanent place in the marketer’s toolbox -- a defined skill with defined outcomes that eliminates mystery, and most importantly, eliminates marketing waste.
Are New Devices Adding to News Consumption? What does the growing expansion of mobile mean for news consumption overall? Are people who own mobile technology getting more news now that they have more ready access to it? Or are they merely replacing one platform with another? Here, the findings are as strong as in 2011, and in some cases even stronger, in suggesting that mobile technology is increasing news consumption.
The social media site, whose attempts at monetizing the brand are currently coming thick and fast, has launched Facebook Collections. No, not that long-awaited range of sportwear in Poke Me Blue, but a new button it's trying out in conjunction with a select bunch of retailers in the U.S.
it's inherently impossible to design a great user experience for bad content. If you're passionate about creating better user experiences, you can't help but care about delivering useful, usable, engaging content.
Clearly Defining What a Brand Stands for Provides a Competitive Edge and Leads to Increased Productivity. The heads of marketing for three of the country's best-known brands eagerly picked one another's brains about the strategies that are working and the campaigns that are resonating.
Corporate America is questioning the return on their advertising investment, and agencies continue to struggle to prove their value. There is an impatience for efficiency and effectiveness, and there are higher expectations of accountability.
A two word phrase that marketers concern themselves with all the live-long day or at least a significant part of their day: Big Data. And depending on who you listen to and/or believe either marketers are handling their new found wealth of prodigious piles of information quite well and are using insights gleaned from the data to their benefit or, quite simply they are not.
What began as a social movement serving urgent health needs for women has been hollowed out by cynical marketeering. The gradual commodification of breast cancer reflected a failure of the movement, in that it wasn't able to adapt quickly enough to fight the commercialisation of breast cancer awareness.
Relevant customer experience now involves much more than just pushing out content to available channels. It requires an understanding of how customers use these channels, identifying where opportunities lie and optimizing the experience for each channel. How can companies accomplish this?
As the digital interface continues to grow, many companies struggle to find the most effective channels in which to reach customers, and given the infinite number of connections that can be made via the Internet, the task of predicting the best course for communication seems nearly impossible; however, a new start-up has promised to do just that.
Apple's apology for the shortcomings of its Maps app demonstrates once again why its branding goes so far beyond what most marketers are willing to consider. Every CMO should take note of the power of acknowledging reality.
In a world where consumers increasingly are storming the internet with queries, downloads and page views from their mobile devices, marketers need a mobile-optimized or mobile-specific website. The question of whether or not you need to build a mobile app is a little less clear cut.
The New York Times this morning announced a new HTML5 web app for iPad, rounding out their lineup of web and tablet products for digital subscribers. The Times is soliciting feedback from its users about the app and its features, which suggests that it’s looking at this as a way to experiment with a non-native delivery method, but isn’t quite sure about how consumers will respond.
A recent IBM study of more than 1,700 CMOs stated that approximately 90% of all the real-time information being created today is unstructured data. CMOs see the data explosion as a game-changer, but continue to struggle with leveraging the data to make smarter business decisions.
It’s Advertising Week, which means it’s time for a barrage of panels full of questions like “Are banners dead?” and “Native advertising: the wave of the future?” And while some will dismiss this chattering as manufactured drama, the proliferation of these existential questions is a solid indicator that the digital publishing industry needs to change.
There’s no question about it—mobile traffic is booming as people spend more time hunched over their little screens. For magazines, it represents an opportunity to capture more readers and try to convert them to paying ones.
Large-scale data gathering and analytics are quickly becoming a new frontier of competitive differentiation. In a recent Harvard Business Review article we explore how companies require three mutually supportive capabilities to fully exploit data and analytics.
Sony dominated consumer electronics for decades, but that was a long time ago.
It is a device that three quarters of the world's inhabitants have access to, according to the World Bank, but the words to describe it and etiquette of how to use it differ starkly across cultures.
Analysis found that marketers are still posting too little on weekends and at night and when they do post, they’re way too verbose. Weekends, when brands post too little, the audience appears primed for interaction.
In just six months, Instagram use has more than septupled, growing from around 900,000 people per day to around 7.3 million, according to ComScore. The photo-sharing app’s astonishing growth underscores the growing momentum of mobile-native apps, and the potential of said apps to open wide leads over traditional websites.
News Corp. Backs Down On Anti-Google Stance, Plans Searchable Article Previews, Keeps Paywall Intact
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is planning once again to let stories from its paywalled UK newspaper The Times get indexed by the search giant Google. This reverses a two-year-old policy in which News Corp.’s UK newspaper division, News International, dramatically yanked stories from Google as it prepared a paywall to better monetize that content and do away with low-value single-story visitors from sites like Google.
What do Harvard Business Publishing and Harlequin – the publisher of a gazillion romance novels – have in common? More than you might think. I’ve blogged before about Harvard’s efforts to create a community of readers, thinkers, and kibitzers. It turns out that Harlequin has been doing the same for nearly 15 years – long before the Internet made it easy, or at least easier.
While there is a lot of Hadoopalooza in the technology press about the tools for managing big data, and they are wonderful, it's also true that they are a) widely available, and b) mostly free. Neither can be said of data scientists. Simply put, you can't do much with big data without data scientists. They are the magicians who transform an inchoate mass of bits into a fit subject for analysis.
To its groaning shelf of National Magazine Awards and bulging portfolio of stories extolling its business success, New York magazine can add one more credit: It's having its best year in a decade. Both profits and revenue are the highest they've been since financier Bruce Wasserstein bought the barely profitable publication.
That consumers are turned off by sites not optimized for smartphones isn’t news to anyone who uses the mobile Web. But marketers need more than anecdotal evidence to get their organizations to invest in the medium.
Well-defined problems lead to breakthrough solutions. When developing new products, processes, or even businesses, most companies aren't sufficiently rigorous in defining the problems they're attempting to solve and articulating why those issues are important.
Despite its growth, investors see the carmaker’s structure and the founding family’s grip on ownership as a liability. Why is a company that is widely admired for its industrial performance and well on its way to meeting lofty growth targets viewed with such scepticism?
Historically, companies have decided which markets to focus on and have allocated sales resources based on looking at past results and using gut instincts. But today, "big data" and deep analytical capabilities give sales and marketing leaders a better way to make decisions
The lifeblood of college football fandom is changing. The painted faces crammed into the student section of stadiums nationwide have turned away from newspapers and talk radio toward social media to get stats, scores and even messages from coaches and players in real time. As social media infiltrates stadiums and clubhouses, teams are scrambling on and off the field to reach students and young alumni
Publications like WIRED and Popular Science were quick out of the gate with sophisticated iPad apps, and while they did offer some compelling multimedia experiences that couldn’t be done in print, the apps lacked the ease of use that’s central to enjoying a magazine.
McDonald’s announced last week that it will start posting calories for all its food on its in-store menu boards. Starting this week, when customers walk into a McDonald’s (MCD) restaurant they will see in bright lights that a Big Mac and large fries weighs in at 1,050 calories.
Don Chadwick, whose ergonomic Aeron chair for Herman Miller has been so influential in furniture design that it has been honored with the ‘Design of the Decade’ Award and given a spot in MoMA’s permanent collection.
Google Maps Street View is fine for eyeing what a business looks like on the outside. But Google just made it much easier to open up Maps, then open up doors of select businesses to see what it looks like on the inside. Now when you open up Google Maps, you can pull out the orange Pegman and drop him on top of any of the new orange dots that will appear to take a tour inside a business.
In short, what was a tired, nearly bankrupt Macintosh company has become the leading marketer of innovation that makes our lives remarkably better. So we care – a lot – about the products Apple offers, how it sells them and how much they cost. We want to know how we can apply them to solve even more problems for ourselves, colleagues, customers and suppliers.
Martha Stewart’s remarkable career demonstrates the marketing power of a distinct personal brand, one that’s become so iconic that it has transcended all the challenges, both legal and financial, within the lifestyle guru’s business.
A mix of factors, ranging from commoditization to evaporating barriers to competition, are conspiring to push design to the fore of business thinking.
In a bold first-day speech, the BBC’s new boss says the corporation must stop thinking that online innovation means repurposing broadcast content and instead ‘create genuinely digital content for the first time’.
How much more profitable would your business be if you had, for free, access to 100 times more data about your customers? That's the question I posed to the attendees of a recent big data workshop in London, all of them senior executives. But not a single executive in this IT-savvy crowd would hazard a guess.
Publishing insiders worry that a decisive court ruling benefiting retailer Amazon.com Inc. will undermine an industry already struggling with the transition to e-books.
USA Today, with its colorful omnipresence on airport newsstands and outside the doors of hotel rooms, is showing off its new look on Friday. And the makeover for the newspaper, based just outside the Washington Beltway, comes straight from Silicon Valley.
Last week’s sweeping victory for the [Apple] in a bitter patent dispute with Samsung came exactly a year after its reins were passed from Jobs to Tim Cook – who duly used the legal victory to rally Apple’s employees and restate values such as “originality and innovation” that Jobs had epitomised. In doing so, Mr Cook illustrated how brands can try to cope with being orphaned by a founding figurehead.
The technology surrounding today’s retail landscape has changed, and with this change comes a myriad of innovative opportunities that extend beyond our conventional way of thinking. Viewing these opportunities as “distractions” rather than opportunities risks losing ground to the competition.
Did you know one comment on Forbes is worth 472 views of an article? And a +1 on Google Plus is worth 169 views, while a Share on Facebook is worth 31 views? Ken Krogue shares his analysis of the currency exchange of digital and social media.
The lifestyle retailer puts shopping for home furnishings and decor back in the real world for maximum product interaction and shared experience.
We researched a number of companies that overcame the multi-channel dilemma — systematically — by applying business discipline to the practice of customer experience in an integrated way. Here are three of their most effective strategies.
How predictable are competitive conditions in your industry? How much power does your company have to shape its underlying competitive environment? These questions are critical to strategists, since clearly the kinds of strategies that work in predictable industries are likely to be worlds apart from those geared to shaping highly volatile environments.
Stationary furniture is the largest segment within the furniture category. To continue to grow the brand needed to shift deep-rooted perceptions and convince female consumers that La-Z-Boy offers more than recliners.
Blog posts became Facebook updates and Tumblr posts, which shrunk to Tweets and finally to Instagram or Pinterest. Here's how smart brands are navigating the new visual social-media era.
Seeing things in context is one of the most important features of human intelligence, and it plays a vital role in our relationships with others, including the relationship that a customer has with a company. By focusing on deepening the context of your customer relationships, you can ensure greater customer loyalty and probably higher margins as well.
Human behavior is nuanced and complex, and no matter how robust it is, data can provide only part of the story. Desire and motivation are influenced by psychological, social, and cultural factors that require context and conversation in order to decode.
A WEEKLY trade publication covering Madison Avenue since the Hoover administration will soon introduce its most significant redesign in years, as part of efforts to further redirect its editorial focus in a digital world toward analysis from breaking news.
Selling solutions allows companies to differentiate themselves in commoditizing markets and to benefit from economies of scope across multiple profit and service capabilities. For customers, these solutions offer better value than the products and services that went before. After all, who would not prefer a "solution" to their business problems rather than simply buying services and products?
How much should you know and record about your customers? How about their businesses? What should you do with the information? How much is too much?
The Seattle-based coffee giant’s year-and-a-half-old mobile payment program may be the largest of any retailer in North America. Even before its recent $25 million investment in San Francisco mobile payments startup Square, the company had been processing a million mobile-phone transactions per week.
More than 750 garage parties for women were hosted by Harley-Davidson dealers last year. These show-and- tell outreach events have also been combined with female-friendly training and a marketing drive heavily focused on women’s empowerment.
Two years after launch, Bloomberg Sports is rapidly expanding its offering of data-driven technology tools, signaling the growing demand for advanced analytics by fans and teams alike as the digital capability to deliver such content matures.
My most important decisions are about adjusting to change. Over the last 20 years, we’ve reinvent-ed ourselves five or six times. Some were positive reinventions, some were very painful.
Forget loyalty in the body care market. Most consumers seem less interested in the name on the label than on price and attributes, per a new study on the segment by Chicago-based Mintel.
While the tangible benefits of conducting business digitally are manyfold, companies that are moving their employees online have largely ignored one of the most important factors of success: corporate culture.
This year 12% of IKEA's content for the Web, catalog and brochures were rendered virtually; that number will increase to 25% next year.
Because these outfits cater to a certain niche, they don’t have to appeal to everyone, which in turn, liberates them to take the risks that yield creative rewards.
Being relevant-at-scale helps marketers to truly benefit from a competitive advantage in the market. At the heart of being relevant-at-scale is an ongoing commitment to harnessing data and analytics. How can you be relevant to your consumers if you don’t know where to reach them and if you don’t know anything about them when you interact?
Who’s controlling your brand message? Recent high-profile Twitter blunders from Progressive Insurance and online store CelebBoutique underscore the challenges of outsourcing your voice as a brand.
"I am not here dreaming of (or worrying about) a world in which computers have displaced the printed word, and us too. I could find no one at this conference who would predict the demise of the newspaper. No one. All saw an important place for us."
In discussions with social media pioneers, it’s apparent that there are some common pitfalls that marketers make as they begin leveraging social media. As a follow-up to an earlier post regarding social media, I’ll address three common mistakes many CMOs are making.
A great new way for you and your Facebook friends to share your favorite articles.
We received a reprieve most of the time in colloquial English, but never in written English. Splitting infinitives is not just forgivable; it is, in fact, “a sacred duty.” Especially when not splitting the infinitive clouds the meaning of your communications.
Customer experience goes to the heart of everything you do--how you conduct your business, the way your people behave when they interact with customers and each other, the value you provide. You literally can't afford to ignore it, because your customers take it personally each and every time they touch your products, your services, and your support.
Pfizer, like Dove and Prudential before it, has gone topical. The pharma giant’s new corporate image effort eschews gauzy TV ads in favor of a microsite where consumers can find and share third-party information about the vicissitudes of aging.
Facebook's stock price slide has raised doubts about Mark Zuckerberg's role as CEO. Some say he should hand the reins to a more seasoned executive.
It's a paradox of the information age. The glut of information that bombards us daily too frequently obscures true insight. Intelligence should drive better innovation, but unless it is strategically collected and used, it functions like a summer beach novel — an engaging distraction.
Culture, and, by association, brand, is so important and prevalent, you could almost test it like Rorschach — Hold up a name of a company to a user and they’ll immediately know what it stands for. This association thing happens on the less positive side of the spectrum as well.
Successful innovators ask users to embrace--or at least tolerate--new values, new skills, new behaviors, new vocabularies, new ideas, new expectations, and new aspirations. They transform their customers. Successful innovators reinvent their customers as well as their businesses. Their innovations make customers better and make better customers.
Kodak's auction of intellectual property has yet to produce a sale. But it has had one unlikely result: turning the fiercest rivals in the global patent battle into potential collaborators.
Welcome to the newest retail concept in Funabashi: a shopping mall designed with the elderly in mind. Here older shoppers can access medical clinics, benefit from 5 per cent discounts on pension day, partake in any of 140 leisure activities ranging from calligraphy to hula dancing and, through the “Begins Partner” programme, find love.
In today’s rapidly transforming, consumer-empowered digital world, as a CMO, do you operate with a Silicon Valley state of mind for today’s state of business?
If there's any sign that the media ecosystem is on the verge of dramatic change, then these four digital trends bubbling to the surface are the latest proof points of that. These aren't random trends but are illustrative of tectonic shifts that will change the media business dramatically.
Marketers' Obsession With Audience Data Could Teach Media a Thing or Two. Brand marketers research their audiences exhaustively until they understand them instinctively. So it's strange to remember how magazines I've known kept their editorial and advertising sides operating not just separately, as they should, but entirely divorced from each other, with each side in near-denial of the other's existence.
A lethal combination of thrifty consumers and a commercial real estate slump have turned malls into the walking dead of retail. In 2009, General Growth Properties, one of the largest mall operators in America, filed for bankruptcy, unable to service more than $25bn in debt. The vacancy rates in regional and strip malls in the US nearly doubled between late 2007 and the middle of last year.
More than a dozen big merchants are expected to announce Wednesday their plans to jointly develop a mobile-payments network that would battle similar services from Google Inc. and other companies, people involved in the effort said.
Put simply, responsive design is the creation of a single website with a fluid proportion-based grid that automatically adapts to users’ browsers and the devices they are using. This is not a trend—it’s the future.
How do you get your message across? And via what channel? Email has long been -- and still remains -- the most effective communication mechanism, but too often the message doesn’t resonate with its recipient, usually due to poor targeting or segmentation.
It looks as if the fair-and-square-fewer-price-promotions-more-celebrity-and-any-high-tech-we-can-get approach of Mr. Johnson, ex of Apple’s retail division, isn’t quite working out the way he had planned. Which is exactly what our loyalty and engagement metrics predicted back in January.
Trapit For iPad is the latest in a wave of news-reading apps designed to make finding and reading online content on a tablet easier, more intuitive and elegant.
Every generation experiences advances in technology that change people's lives and expectations; children are almost always born into a different technological world than were their parents. This is particularly true when it comes to how they discover, consume and share content and information.
In the circles that count, it’s clear that Chipotle is regarded as a major innovator, attracting what all major innovators attract: copycatting. So it’s no coincidence that after a couple of years of crazy growth from Chipotle, Taco Bell feels it has to step up its game. Thus, this summer the country’s leading quasi-Mexican fast-food chain has rolled out its new Cantina Bell line of upscale menu items.
In the early 2000s Aetna was struggling mightily on all fronts. While on the surface revenues remained strong, its rapport with customers and physicians was rapidly eroding, and its reputation was being bludgeoned by lawsuits and a national backlash against health maintenance organizations and managed care (which Aetna had championed). To boot, the company was losing roughly $1 million a day, thanks to cumbersome processes and enormous overhead, as well as unwise acquisitions. Many of the problems Aetna faced were attributed to its culture.
Lots of sporting events are used to promote brands. The Olympics, perhaps, more than most. So it's no surprise that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is hard at work to ensure that brands that are not “official sponsors” of the games do not gain financially
search engine and e-mail referrals are more than holding their own against social media sites when it comes to generating sales in the second quarter of 2012. Social media sites only contributed to 2.85 percent of online shopping traffic in the second quarter.
If we want to successfully navigate this new world, spark economic resurgence and close the gaps in equity that threaten stability, we need new thinking, new partners--we need to elevate a new paradigm of power. We need leaders who understand local nuances and global interdependence. We need decisions to be predicated on sustainability not opportunism. We need leadership that leverages power for collective empowerment. I see a solution in women.
Pulse, the popular news reading app for iOS and Android, is finally available on the web. The service, which launched two years ago and now has over 15 million users, only focused on mobile platforms until now.
In business, a dull existence means a weak brand. If you want some people to love you, you’ve got to accept that others may hate you. With your company clamoring for new customers and more business, it takes a certain amount of nerve to deliberately ignore people that many within your organization might consider prospects.
The $25 million funding and sales deal announced late yesterday between mobile payments startup Square and coffee giant Starbucks is big, but it is only the tip of the iceberg for what the implications will be for Square and for mobile payments in general.
With such high stakes, brands should assess their fit with the Olympic Games before jumping into the arena. Not all players are a perfect match. Brands that are compatible with the Games, in both product offering and Ideal, can expect greater impact on their equity.
With London 2012 come three, totally minimal olympic sites that leverage rapid development to celebrate this fleeting worldwide event. They’re the collective antithesis to nbcolympics.com, covering granular information with an unfettered layout devoid of audio clips, listicles and even ads. They’re also a sign of current web technologies.
Nielsen’s been fairly busy attempting to connect the dots between TV and online advertising. Today, the research firm is announcing Nielsen Online Audience Segments—TV Viewing, a program that’s designed to let a brand target online consumers based on their television and Web-viewing habits.
Turner Broadcasting said today that it acquired Bleacher Report to broaden the scope of sports coverage it can offer advertisers as well as bolster its scale, which has significantly decreased in recent months.
The use of apps as a way to gain an advantage over others is clearest in categories where there is already significant competition for consumer attention, including quick-service restaurants, banking, hospitality, fashion and beauty.
Any group that manages a celebrity brand must focus on the authenticity and aspirational aspects that connect with their audience. Violate that, and the brand and the brand’s value can be significantly devalued.
Is it possible for the world’s largest companies to incorporate sustainability and responsible business into their DNA? Or is a large corporation inherently more concerned with profit than people?
There are common themes underlying the three major players struggles with how to grow revenue, particularly mobile revenue, while their web traffic is declining as a percentage of the total. They are all in a life or death fight, both with each other, but more importantly with the emerging mobile ecosystem, largely dominated by Apple.
The emergence of online platforms is bringing a wave of disruptive innovations to traditional education. From 40,000 person classes that you can take from anywhere to Twitter-moderated discussion forums with trending hashtags, technology is fundamentally changing the way we learn today.
"Boar's Head is pretty much everywhere," said Mitchell Sejzer, who works in the deli at a Sunset Foods store in the affluent Chicago suburb of Highland Park, noting that the brand accounts for about 75% of the store's deli counter selection. So just how did this brand -- which is oddly named after a swine's head -- get to the top?
With ever-increasing YouTube lunch breaks and Vimeo dinner dates, online video is becoming a constant companion--one that every brand is rushing to take advantage of. Follow these five tips so you don't turn off would-be viewers.
The domestic diva, Martha Stewart, is watching her media conglomerate do not so good things. It just reported plunging sales and a second quarter operating loss of $2.9 million. Publishing and broadcast units reported losses, down 16%. Ad pages are evaporating for most titles. Wherever did all those loyal fans go?
Nobody can deny that the ledgers at NBC are looking mighty nice as of now, yet while the TV performance data has been easily accessible and widely disseminated since Monday, one crucial element appears to be missing: just how are NBC's digital audience numbers are shaping up?
Autistic children with limited verbal skills are often taught how to communicate and make choices using pictures. Drawing on her experience as a behavioral therapist in college, Adriana Herrera realized that key design principles from her work with Autistic children could also be applied to the website she founded.
Canadian publication Maclean’s this week announced a study from the Advertising Research Foundation in New York City. The article states the respected Foundation recently tested a “blank” ad on Facebook whose click-thru rate performed only .01% less well than regular Facebook ads.
A survey conducted by Women’s Marketing Inc. published new findings that shed light on social media marketing and women. We’ve pulled three important lessons from the data, which will help businesses to refine their marketing tactics, especially as they pertain to the female demographic.
To make it easier for New Yorkers to commute and keep them posted on scheduled maintenance and delays, Google is adding information about service alerts that occur throughout the city’s 468 subway stations labeled on Google Maps.
Apps may already track your workouts, your finances, and your temperature preferences, but until now they’ve largely overlooked the most telling data feed of all: your location. Saga, which is launching on Tuesday, uses your phone’s GPS, Wi-Fi capabilities, and accelerometer to track every move you make
Sophisticated sales organizations now have the ability to combine, sift, and sort vast troves of data to develop highly efficient strategies for selling into micromarkets. While B2C companies have become adept at mining the petabytes of transactional and other purchasing data that consumers generate as they interact online, B2B sales organizations have only recently begun to use big data to inform overall strategy and tailor sales pitches for specific customers in real time. Yet the payoff is huge.
Today, companies are starting new entrepreneurship initiatives because they need fuel for innovation, desire top talent and need to sustain a competitive advantage. Smart companies are catering to entrepreneurs, allowing workers to pitch their ideas, and even funding them. They are holding entrepreneurship contests, investing in startups and bringing on entrepreneurs in residence (EIR). In the war for talent and innovation, companies have to think entrepreneurially in order to survive and thrive.
Those "Will It Blend?" videos of some guy throwing an iPhone in a blender and the instantly viral Shakeweight ads have millions and millions of views. Your company's new "viral" spot has 500. Here's what separates great branded video content from the flops.
Microsoft is reimagining its entire business model, and they’ve laid out the details for anyone to inspect. You just have to read between the boilerplate sections in the company's most recent 10-K.
The next great quest in applied science: the assembly of a unified health database, a “big data” project that would collect in one searchable repository all the parameters that measure or could conceivably reflect human well-being.
As part of its sponsorship of Team USA for the Olympic Games, AT&T is launching a campaign to bring several of these stories to life via short films and its social networking channels. The effort, called “My Journey,” will feature 30-second teasers during the primetime broadcasts of the London Olympic Games, but the extended stories will live online.
A milestone reached as the world of old media continues its push in a digital direction: the storied, pink-sheeted daily newspaper the Financial Times, read by 2.1 million readers daily, today said digital subscribers now outnumber those in print, and that digital revenues now account for half of all sales in the FT Group.
Companies tend to repeat what has worked for them in the past. In our research on the telecom industry, for example, we found that the great majority of the executives we surveyed preferred internal development to external sourcing when they needed to develop differentiated products and services. We get similar results in other industries, though the preferred growth mode may differ.
Venture capitalists exhibit some strange behaviors, but none is more bizarre than the near-inevitable scheming to remove a company's founder-CEO. Odder still is that these plans are often hatched just as the company begins to really perform.
A 2012 Road King Classic in all its spaghetti-piped splendor lists for $19,599—and that becomes a hard sell when the economy goes soft. But a bigger challenge lay not with the bike or its price, but the ever-changing image of the rider. As the ads here show, the ability to shift gears quickly can apply to the marketing just as much as the motorcycle.
“What’s becoming clear is that in order to stay relevant and remain competitive in today’s uber-digital and social world, the CIO and the CMO must work together. Today and in the future you’ll see this connection grow tighter than ever before,” said Jeff Schick, VP, Social Software.
This year, more than 4.9 billion people (including 211 million Americans) are expected to tune into the games. The IOC is anticipating a record-breaking “Socialympics,” and with all the feel-good stories, athlete spokespeople and corporate sponsorships surrounding the games, it’s hard to imagine it any other way.
The projected growth of data from all kinds of sources is staggering—to the point where some worry that in the foreseeable future our digital systems of storage and dissemination will not be able to keep up with the simple act of finding places to keep the data and move it around to all those who are interested in it. How could Big Data be significant? A 2011 industry report by global management consulting firm McKinsey argued that five new kinds of value might come from abundant data.
Co-design from business to product design solutions is seen as a potential new avenue for breakthrough innovation in design. Co-design is when firms and non-design users jointly design offerings. Examples range from surgical tools and sport equipment to Lego elements and software.
In the race to find culpability, what doesn't get talked about is the very climate that creates the conditions for people to behave badly and feel perfectly justified in their behavior. It is, in fact, the very same thing that creates an environment and provides the fuel for people to conversely do great, generous and far-reaching things. It boils down to cultural permission.
Our future is as much threatened by the lack of imaginative connection making as it is from a dearth of engineers or mathematicians. Here are practical lessons from 35 years of writing poetry that can help individuals and teams deliver more innovative products, processes and services.
Speed is killing our decisions. The crush of technology forces us to snap react. We blink, when we should think. E-mail, social media, and 24-hour news are relentless. Our time cycle gets faster every day. Yet as our decision-making accelerates, long-term strategy becomes even more crucial. Those of us who find time to step back and think about the big picture, even for a few minutes, have a major advantage. If every one else moves too quickly, we can win by going slow.
Most national brands are strategically positioned at the national Web level with strong awareness and branding, but these companies often lack insight into how their brands are represented at this level. Their local presence becomes clear when you conduct local searches on national brands using the “Local Web Test.”
"We don't have any interest in being the biggest," said the senior VP-marketing and product management at Caribou. "We don't want to be in every aisle of the grocery chains in America. We'd rather be great at what we do." But Caribou, despite an acceptance of its stature as a smaller chain, hasn't sat idly by.
Technology has simplified communications for most businesses, but the increased use of conference calls, video conferencing, and instant messaging has created a new list of off-putting behaviors that could land your business in an awkward situation. Here is a list of some pet peeves and how to avoid them.
With more companies preferring an open space layout, this has led to rising complaints of office noise and the lack of privacy for informal chats. Software company Autodesk has come up with a solution that tackles the issues.
I don’t blame you if your first reaction after reading the headline is to say, “Only 2?” There are probably dozens of significant leadership lessons to be drawn from the JPMorgan Chase debacle. But it’s unlikely I will live long enough to write such a comprehensive piece – so we’ll go for the Big 2.
The hierarchy of customer interaction methods starts with face-to-face, followed by websites, channel partners, call centers, traditional media, advisory groups and finally, social media. That won’t be the case in a few years. According to an IBM survey of 1,709 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries, social media will leap to the number-two spot while traditional media plunges to the bottom within the next three-to-five years.
J.C. Penney's "Fair and Square Everyday Low Pricing Strategy" is not as successful as new CEO Ron Johnson expected. During its first quarter under the new pricing strategy, same store sales dropped by 18.9%, store visits decreased by 10%, and the average spend was down by 5%. As a result, the retailer lost $163 million (compared to earning $64 million in the first quarter of 2011) and suspended its quarterly dividend. J.C. Penny's stock, which bounced above $43 per share after CEO Ron Johnson enthusiastically announced the new pricing strategy in January, now trades below $30.
House Beautiful is letting users post photos from its print edition directly to Pinterest using smartphone apps, the latest effort by a magazine to make print more interactive.
It’s become practically mandatory that brands incorporate social media into their business strategy, causing retailers to compete for popularity in stores and on the Internet, too. Campalyst has provided this infographic, which covers the largest Internet retailers in the U.S., and their presence on the five key social networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest.
Patagonia has long been a sustainability leader, and pokes its competitors in the eye with programs, from asking consumers to buy less to working with fisheries to the preservation of salmon populations while rolling out new snacks. Now the outdoor clothing and gear company is pushing supply chain transparency to a new level.
We sat down with Julia Fitzgerald, Chief Digital Officer, Fitness, Sporting Goods & Toys at Sears Holdings and Gilad de Vries from best of breed content discovery platform, Outbrain.
For some companies, one Page might not be enough. For example, if a restaurant chain prides itself on local ingredients or a business seeks to cultivate a strong community around each brick-and-mortar outlet, it might make sense to have a Brand Page for each location. But then again, does a brand really want to divvy up its audience and dilute it among several similar pages?
Publishers are bleeding themselves dry, giving up the very customer data that hold the promise of their continued relevance in the digital age. They struggle to monetize online users, as the dimes from digital will never replace the analog dollars they no longer receive from print. They see social sharing as a way to drive page views on their traffic-starved websites. But many of these social-sharing tools are data vampires.
If customers suspect you’re using their data in less-than-desirable ways, they may lash out and possibly stop using your product. What’s a data-driven business owner to do?
Online, men are shopping more and at rates higher than before, according to an iProspect study of men with a household income of $100,000 plus.
As the marketplace undergoes a rapid transformation, it’s forcing leading brands to rethink everything—from where and how they compete to what capabilities they will need to thrive in this new world order. The fast-changing world of consumer products is at the confluence of a number of significant trends.
The strategy address recently delivered by the corporation's new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, earned press coverage that verged on mocking, with The Wall Street Journal noting that the brand's "once-sterling cachet has deteriorated," and The New York Times going further, placing Sony in "a fight for its life," and accusing it of "an astonishing lack of ideas." Both observations are correct, but they only hint at the underlying question: why is the strategy that once served Sony so well now failing so badly?
Design has finally become democratized, and we marketers find ourselves with new standards to meet in this new “era of design.” To illustrate, Apple, the epitome of a design-led organization, now has a market capitalization of $570 billion, larger than the GDP of Switzerland. Its revenue is double Microsoft’s, a similar type of technology organization but one not truly led by design.
All kinds of media companies are trying to crack the social TV code -- and those that produce live sports are no exception. The traditional TV platform will persist at least as well in sports as in any other genre, Mr. Bowman suggested. "People will always watch sports on the largest screen they can find," he said. The second screen is just complementing viewers' traditional experience.
Social media is important. CMOs get it. There are plenty of articles that detail how important social media is and many others talking about how unprepared CMOs are to handle it. However, few articles focus on the gap – the space between knowing social media is important and being able to successfully leverage it.
Roger McNamee, the managing director and co-founder of venture capital firm Elevation Partners, has a theory about how Apple became the biggest U.S. technology growth story of all time: “The thing that made Apple successful was betting against the web,” he said.
Innovation is the name of the game in many industries, certainly in all of those that we recruit for. Innovation fosters new products, new categories and new consumerism -- which leads to what we are all in business for: to make money.
The future of media on mobile devices isn't with applications but with the Web. For publishers whose businesses evolved during the long day of print newspapers and magazines, the expansion of the Internet was tremendously disorienting. The Internet taught readers they might read stories whenever they liked without charge, and it offered companies more efficient ways to advertise. Both parties spent less.
'The Guardian' huffed and puffed and made one of the year's best ads. Did it sell papers? Newspapers aren't known for their compelling self-promotion. Yet in the grip of their existential crisis, that's what they need—a riveting argument for their own value, evolution and place in the cultural conversation. In late February, London ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty delivered just that for The Guardian.
Popular game Draw Something is now rolling out a new type of ad model–instead of seeing traditional banner ads, users will be actually drawing the ads, as the new model integrates ads into the game in the form of branded word choices.
Most of the luster of the company is gone and recent reports worry me and I wonder if the company can reverse its course and will survive. Essentially I ask myself if Sears is a dynamic merchandising company or an albatross in the making.
When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion last month, it raised a lot of questions about which buzzed-about start-ups might be on track for similar success. The start-up scene is flooded with apps and services that are attracting users and backing from investors. But it can be hard to work out which companies are worthy of the kind of attention Instagram was receiving when Facebook came calling.
Today’s marketers are under-utilizing the large amounts of personal data their customers are sharing publicly every day, according to Adobe’s senior manager of social-media products, Chad Warren. By looking at their customers’ activity not just on social networks but all over the web, brands can potentially engage with them in ways that are much more meaningful.
According to Pied Piper's yearly Prospect Satisfaction Index for the U.S. motorcycle business, Harley-Davidson is number one at retail. In the study, conducted between July 2011 and April 2012 using 1,653 hired “mystery shoppers,” BMW and Ducati finished in a tie for second, followed by Triumph and the Victory and Indian brands from Polaris Industries, in a three-way tie for fourth.
A fascinating trend is consuming Silicon Valley and beginning to eat away at rest of the world: the radical simplification of everything. Want to spot the next great technology or business opportunity? Just look for any market that lacks a minimally complex solution to a sufficiently large problem.
What do you get when you combine a photo-sharing mobile platform like Instagram with more geo-location awareness and a Reddit-style voting system for stories breaking all over the world? Answer: Signal, the app citizen journalism may well have been been waiting for.
A couple of years ago, Yvon Chouinard—founder of the outdoor-clothing brand Patagonia—gave a talk at a sustainable-fisheries conference in Vancouver. He'd been invited to speak in recognition of Patagonia's longtime commitment to environmental issues and its reputation as a company that manages to churn out profit while minimizing ecological impact. Chouinard delivered his spiel, but he came away frustrated by the surprising ignorance of his audience.
Beth Comstock is the chief marketing officer at General Electric-–a company that no one would accuse of having a free-wheeling or laissez-faire culture. Yet Comstock, along with GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt and fellow senior executives, have embraced the fact that the challenges they face—in areas from healthcare to energy to transportation—are too ‘wicked’ to be solved by GE alone.
In adjusting its style guide to use calendar days instead of “yesterday,” “today,” or “tomorrow,” the Globe is trying to adapt to the pace of online news.
What no one seems to do is go back and ask: Why did Kodak make the poor strategic decisions they made? In 1993 they brought in from the outside a technology expert to be CEO. George Fisher was believed to be almost as good as Jack Welch or Lou Gerstner. Great CEO, people buried in the hierarchy who had all sorts of good ideas, and still poor strategic decisions. Why?
Dolby Laboratories, Inc and CIM announced a 20-year agreement to name the Dolby Theatre™ — the iconic theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center® and home of the Academy Awards since 2002– a showcase of technology innovation.
We like to think of habits as traits that can't be changed, but it turns out that habits are malleable and knowing how to change them has profound implications, not just at the personal level, but also for companies and governments.
There’s a new search program at Google, but one without a magic algorithm. This program lets you search inside yourself so you can find, well, yourself. Cleverly titled “Search Inside Yourself,” it’s a free course Google provides employees that is designed to teach emotional intelligence through meditation, a practical real-world meditation you take with you wherever you go.
Take a look at the first-class section on any airplane today; it’s full of corporate leaders lugging around Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, searching for insights they can use to make their companies as successful as Apple.
From Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal’s former CEO. In talking about digital video, he said: “Our challenge with all these ventures is to effectively monetize them so that we do not end up trading analog dollars for digital pennies.”
NPR is taking another stab at creating new programming, but the approach looks quite different. What’s different this time? The network seems to be taking a page from agile software development, the philosophy that products should be released early and iterated often.
Stanford University might have been the cradle for a hundred Silicon Valley startups and the hothouse for some of its greatest technical innovations, but the Singularity University is an institution that has been made in the valley's own image: highly networked, fuelled by a cocktail of philanthro-capitalism and endowed with an almost mystical sense of its own destiny.
If you have a Facebook page, you likely know how important it is to get likes and comments. Without those, your EdgeRank suffers, and your posts are seen by fewer fans in the future. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind as you determine how best to engage your Facebook customers.
The publishing industry has a problem. The old guard haven't innovated. And neither their business models nor their products embrace the digital books revolution.
With an estimated $2.1 trillion in spending power, moms influence 85% of all purchase decisions and buy nearly everything for everybody. What’s more, we now know that moms are even better shoppers than might be perceived in the marketplace due in large part to neurological research that didn’t exist until recently.
At one time or another all great leaders experience something so big and so impactful it literally changes the landscape – it’s what I call a “Game Changer.” A game changer is that ah-ha moment where you see something others don’t. It’s the transformational magic that takes organizations from a slow idle to redline.
On the heels of acquiring sales data analytics company Varicent last week, Big Blue is making another buy in the data space today— Vivisimo. Vivisimo provides enterprises with search software that helps organizations access and analyze big data across the enterprise.
Innovative digital journalism played a starring role in the wake of a massive document release during an inquiry into British media ethics. Three major news organizations sifted through the information and collaboratively covered the investigation stemming from British journalism’s biggest scandal in recent memory.
Amidst falling sales, a revolving door of chief executives, countless attempts to be cool with “The King,” and even a fresh rift with pop diva, Mary J. Blige, we’re told in the latest Burger King ad campaign that “Exciting things are happening at Burger King.” Oh really?
You'll see Flyknit on the feet of olympic marathoners this year. This limited-edition collection shows the real-world application of Nike's newfangled technology. The limited-edition HTM is intended for the rest of us: plain old sneaker geeks.
The New York Times company's latest quarterly numbers contain a rich trove of data regarding the health of the digital news industry. Today, we'll focus on the transition from traditional advertising to paywall strategies being implemented across the world. Paywalls appear as a credible way to offset – alas too partially – the declining revenue from print operations.
Recently, PSFK launched our inaugural print magazine: the first offline publication that we hope to release every quarter. Some reasoning why a new media entity like PSFK.com decided to trial the analog.
Intense competition drives the U.S. wireless industry. When one looks at major market indicators, competition is the reason why we lead the world in efficiency and value for consumers. These indicators include capital expenditures and network investments; infrastructure deployments; subscriber levels; subscriber growth; continued evolution of operating system choices; and application development.
Consumers today can no longer rely on a few trusted editorial sources to filter the noise and deliver the most important news and information. Instead, consumers must make sense of the vast amount of information that reaches them daily and constantly make decisions about what to take seriously and what to ignore. Increasingly, they are turning to Social Curation
Avon remains slow to catch up to the Internet, a platform that is increasingly important for hooking new consumers on brands. The New York-based beauty company has dabbled with iPhone and Android apps for smaller brands like Mark and has developed e-catalogs, but sales representatives say it isn't doing enough to help them win customers through new tools like social media, smartphones and tablets.
It can be a bit comical when tech companies inch their way into media. They usually do so after decrying ad models and living off venture capital. But everyone grows up, even tech platforms. Tumblr is the latest tech service to travel this road, announcing that it would allow advertisers to buy a “Radar” placement on the dashboard where Tumblr users aggregate their feeds.
Two-thirds of advertising spending is brand advertising, but online only one quarter is. In fact, if brand advertising dollars moved online in the same proportion that sales advertising has, it would almost exactly close the famous gap between time spent online and ad dollars spent online.
UK-based Black+Blum’s Eau Good water bottle embraces the centuries-old use of active charcoal to make every day tap water taste better.
Every day, more and more brands are creating compelling, original content, and the medium of choice for these initiatives is Web video. The latest example is Ford Motor Company’s collaboration with eco-focused media company SHFT.com, “The Big SHFT: 10 Innovators Changing Our World”, a documentary series profiling industry professionals who are trying to transform their industries with eco-friendly sustainability solutions.
Best Buy should use Dunn’s departure as an opportunity to rethink how it sells gadgets. In particular, it’s time to abandon the idea of endless selection. If Best Buy wants to survive, it’s got to replace its hulking, teeming stores with smaller, less crowded, more intimate spaces.
More than ever, people are using Twitter, Facebook and other social media sources to learn about what’s happening in the world as traditional news outlets become increasingly less relevant to the digital generation.
Just a few months after the Nest’s introduction, it’s clear that Fadell and his new company also took another Apple lesson to heart: the constant need for tiny tweaks that are laser focused on making the user’s life easier. And also: the need to introduce big changes to the consumer slowly, over time. By looking at how Nest’s second-generation thermostat has evolved, we can see those two crucial ideals at work.
Call it a strategic inflection point for these companies, a common trend in the Valley, where scrappy startups are always a threat to stagnant corporations--not so much because of some new piece of technology but because of the disruptive idea behind it.
IBM has partnered with Honda and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to develop a pilot project that will allow electric vehicles to communicate with the power grid, receiving and responding to charge instructions based on the grid and the vehicle’s battery level.
Bringing Ms. Minaj on board to pinch-hit for Pepsi is clearly a strategic move, and a reaction to the drop that Pepsi took this year in the marketplace. The results of 2012’s Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Index reveal that both Pepsi and Diet Pepsi fell flat this year, trailing Coke and Diet Coke for the first time in years. Loyalty is, alas, not a forever thing if you don’t know how best to engage your audience.
Nearly three quarters (72%) of adults are quite attached to following local news and information, and local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need. In fact, local news enthusiasts are substantially more wedded to their local newspapers than others.
It’s a new era where consumers will punish a company for taking a wrong stand, but also for taking no stands at all. In these volatile times, brands actually should become more willing to take a stand.
Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life.
Why do human beings collaborate? Ever since Darwin, biologists have been vexed by the question, because in evolutionary terms, self-less behavior makes no sense. We would expect altruists who act contrary to their own interest to be systematically eliminated from the species.
With the recent software available to allow easy creation of interactive books and with the race to bring these products to market, there seems to be a more and more dilution of quality and a loss for the meaning of interactivity. When publishers create new eBook titles or convert a traditional printed book to a digital interactive eBook, they often miss the added value this new medium can provide.
Two out of every three adults who are online use social media. That’s amazing. It truly is. Wonder how many are still out there who still think social media is just a fad?
Paul Matsen can only shake his head when he reads yet another study about marketers failing to measure the impact of their work, especially in today’s bottom-line-driven environment. As chief marketing officer at Cleveland Clinic, a highly rated non-profit academic medical center, Matsen says measurement is as critical to marketing success as understanding consumer insights, developing strategy, and evaluating creative.
A Rose-Gold Alloy Mostly Made of Copper Wouldn't Smell As Sweet Coming From Anywhere But Tiffany's. Press releases trumpeting Tiffany’s posh “new jeweler’s metal,” coined and trademarked Rubedo (Latin for “red”), continues unabated. But many specialists have taken umbrage with both the “new” and the “metal” portions of Tiffany’s claim.
One of the first clues to Tumblr's future as a business came in February with the launch of "highlighted posts," which allow Tumblr users to pay $1 to gain more visibility for their work. In 2010, Tumblr CEO David Karp told the Los Angeles Times that the thought of ads "turns our stomachs." But can it be a business without them?
While so many eyes have been on magazine and newspaper media and their desperate embrace of mobile technology, one of the most interesting sectors of old media on new platforms is the comics. Long before Apple instituted its newsstand, for instance, DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse and others like powerhouse distributor Comixology were demonstrating how mobile or tablet apps could make superb periodical merchandising machine and reader/library.
There's a lot of speculation today about why Facebook would spend $1 billion to acquire the uber-hip photo-sharing app Instagram. To some, it seems obvious; to others, it's the biggest sign yet of a growing Web bubble. To me, it just raises question after question, and the biggest one is "why." What does Facebook gain from buying Instagram?
In an era when entire companies and long-time brands are disappearing, why do Americans trust certain brands and not others? What is trust?
There are legitimate reasons why naming companies is a bit more challenging than it used to be. Marketers must contend with instant backlash from critics on social media and the global reality that one phrase in English might take on a completely different meaning overseas (see Kraft). And they must ensure the moniker is not already trademarked.
For my daughter, and my assistant, and other people I know in their 20s and 30s, using social media is part of their native language. They built websites in college (or even high school); they explore and evolve their use of facebook and/or twitter and/or Pinterest and/or iGoogle as easily as they change clothes.
Math nerds and historians, it’s time to get excited. Minds of Modern Mathematics, a new iPad app released Thursday by IBM, presents an interactive timeline of the history of mathematics and its impact on society from 1000 to 1960. The app is based on an original, 50-foot-long “Men of Modern Mathematics” installation created in 1964 by Charles and Ray Eames. Minds of Modern Mathematics users can view a digitized version of the original infographic as well as browse through an interactive timeline with more than 500 biographies, math milestones and images of relevant artifacts.
Hidden Valley Foods has improved its ranch dressing to be thicker and creamier in hopes to appeal to younger consumers. The company is labeling the dressing as ‘The New Ketchup’ and is calling it the ‘Hidden Valley for Everything’ that be used as a topping or a dip.
Integrating design into your company involves more than just hiring superstar designers. It takes a long-term commitment and developing a culture that brings everyone up to speed.
There's two weeks left until Ad Age Digital 2012, where six promising startups will fast-pitch Anheuser Busch-InBev execs for the chance to work on one of two iconic brands: Budweiser and Bud Light.
Siri is about to get one-upped by Google. The company on Wednesday unveiled a long-rumored concept called "Project Glass," which takes all the functionality of a smartphone and places it into a wearable device that resembles eyeglasses. The see-through lens could display everything from text messages to maps to reminders.
Following a sales increase of 26 percent in 2011, and 20 percent in 2010, this is a far cry for a company that considered pulling out of the U.S. market in the early 1990’s, when sales plummeted to 40,000 vehicles. The company plans to deliver double-digit growth this year and next, CMO Tim Mahoney told me, terming it “Quality growth”, meaning it has to be profitable and sustainable. That should put VW comfortably over the 400,000 vehicles mark.
The gadgets of your smart home now come with software updates. Nest Labs today released the equivalent of version 2.0 software for its smart thermostat available for the Web, iOS or Android. The software tweaks for the $249 Learning Thermostat are designed to help people better understand how thermostat changes affect energy usage.
When PSFK asked if they were concerned about how the next generation of car-buyers are reportedly disinterested in ownership, the Rolls-Royce team spoke about how buying a car is about the owner rewarding themselves. The team described how a billionaire in India in his 20s has a check list of all the good things in life and Rolls Royce is part of it.
Nike is milking its moment in the sports world spotlight, with fans and football players alike buzzing about its new National Football League uniforms. Between the heavily-hyped unveiling ceremony in Brooklyn, the massive pop-up shop in Manhattan showcasing the new look, and the big anticipation of the draft April 26, it looks like Nike is barreling into its five-year NFL contract just fine. And outgoing Reebok’s fan jerseys are finding their way into bargain bins.
When Longreads, the acclaimed source for exceptional long form journalism and short fiction, launched its spinoff service Travelreads in late March, it went from being a Twitter feed and blog favored by the literati to an appealing springboard for brands wanting to reach engaged consumers through content. Sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, Travelreads curates compelling in-depth stories about far-flung places--perfect plane fare.
Remember Next Issue Media, the “Hulu for Digital Magazines” consortium made up of the biggest names in publishing? It has finally delivered something worth talking about: Call it Netflix for Magazines. The pitch is simple and intuitive: All the magazines you want, delivered digitally to your tablet, for a flat fee of either $10 or $15 a month.
Sports apparel giant Under Armour is taking its message across the pond. On Monday, the apparel company owned by billionaire Kevin Plank announced it was hiring former Adidas executive Karl-Heinz Maurath to run its international business.
How does a multi-national mega-brand, responsible for crafting a consistent image all over the globe, manage to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of hot-button cultural and political issues in the places where it does business?
Spotify and Hulu are among the companies that have taken advantage of the Facebook Timeline format to create long histories despite their relative youth. It’s an accessible form of brand content, but what happens when the novelty wears off?
It’s not uncommon for hotels to extend frequent customers the courtesy of a late check-out option, but Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide recently announced an initiative that takes that premise even further. Now available to top-tier members of the company’s loyalty program, Your24 is a new service that lets guests choose their own check-in and check-out times.
The forthcoming Facebook IPO, set for May, will be one of the greatest events in recent tech memory. It’s an irrefutable indicator of how far social networking has come and where it’s going. But what does this mean for the workplace? Is enterprise social networking, the so-called Facebook-like model at work, starting to take off as well or is it still in its infancy?
The era of social media is bringing more transparency to ski resorts' daily snow reports, with skiers and riders using smartphone apps, websites, tweets and video to spread the word in real time, particularly if traditional reports are off. And the industry itself has been quick to embrace social media to get the word out
Marketers overwhelmingly recognize that leveraging massive data sets can help them improve business, but most feel they lack the tools to mine customer insights adequately, according to a study from marketing technology company DataXu Inc.
While Apple and Google are busy getting bad press for their privacy issues, labor practices and general big-evil-company wrongdoings, Microsoft has done some brand regeneration, making it look like the hippest tech company on the block these days.
What may be as out-of-date today is the fast-growing, feisty, focused, powerhouse’s core name. The .com part went out-of-fashion with the implosion of a bubble more than a decade ago, and as was made resoundingly clear last week, the San Francisco-based global entity is about a lot more than sales force automation. In fact, that is no longer the core focus. I spent a day at Cloudforce Expo Worldtour in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The company updates were significant.
When an aircraft crashes, investigators are able to retrieve useful information about what went wrong from the flight data recorder, more commonly known as the black box. (The data recorder itself is actually not black, not until it’s retrieved from charred remains.) Statistically speaking, plane crashes are rare occurrences compared to car crashes, so why not install a black box for cars?
Auto makers are deeply concerned that Millennials don’t care about vehicles nearly as much as they do about the next iPhone. So the companies have become decidedly more intent on roping in these car-reluctant twenty-somethings. That’s one big reason why, for instance, Ford has decided to set up shop, literally, in Silicon Valley, and why General Motors has turned for marketing advice to MTV.
Emirates is launching a campaign aimed at evolving the airline from a travel brand to a global lifestyle brand. With the tagline “Hello Tomorrow,” the creative seeks to paint the Dubai-based airline as an “enabler of global connectivity and meaningful experiences,” according to the company.
When Best Buy Co. (BBY) said yesterday it was closing 50 big stores and opening 100 smaller ones, the world’s largest electronics retailer was adjusting to reality: The era of big-box retail dominance is coming to an end. The new mantra is small box.
Best Buy is on the same track that two former train wrecks were on, CompUSA and Circuit City. Today, Best Buy reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of $1.7 billion and announced it is closing 50 stores. The basic pattern that CompUSA (closed brick-and-mortar stores in 2007) and Circuit City (closed stores in 2008) followed was: first select stores were closed, then more were closed, then all stores were shuttered or sold off.
You might not be willing to fork over a monthly subscription fee to read some of your favorite news sites, but would you answer a survey question? That’s what Google and a handful of well-known online publishers are aiming to find out.
What ideas are you building your company on? It’s an important question for all organizations, and some companies are responding with innovative and inspiring answers. Ideas shape our thinking, animate our endeavors, and serve as the foundation upon which we scale our institutions and companies.
Human nature: our curiosity can often be provoked when a conference is prefaced by NDAs that prevent participants from sharing the discussion externally. The net-net? That “next big thing” appears to be for brands to use ‘social’ more strategically, connecting with and engaging their customers more holistically to drive business growth.
When marketing is in alignment with the business, you are more likely to travel in the same direction. Alignment and accountability are the first steps every aspiring marketing organization must take to improve its performance management and measurement.
Companies are learning to turn Big Data into Big Dollars. How are they doing it? With the help of data scientists, a new generation of business leaders who understand that today, data drives revenue.
Brand architecture often comes down to an evaluation of tradeoffs. In my experience, there’s rarely a cost-free benefit or a no-foul cost. That’s why I have found the concept of brand value so helpful. It focuses on the net effect of an initiative -- are the benefits worth more than the costs of getting those benefits or are cost-saving initiatives doing more harm than good?
Google is marching steadily towards Larry Page’s reported goal of a “single, unified, ‘beautiful’ product, across everything.” It started last year, as redesigns came to all of Google’s big products, Search, Maps, Translate, Reader, Gmail, YouTube, etc, etc. A black navbar appeared, which Google later announced it was removing, only to then reverse course and keep it. And then, earlier this month, it announced Google Play.
Enter Red Tomato Pizza, a single wood-fired joint in Dubai, UAE, and their disruptive new model for easy ordering: The idea is nothing short of brilliant.
The innovation game is changing. Delivering great products is no longer sufficient for success. And as the Fire's limited memory, ho-hum processor, and and lack of camera demonstrate, great products may not even be necessary. Rather, what matters is delivering great solutions.
Yesterday, it was official: Wendy's has usurped Burger King as America's second largest burger chain. It finished 2011 with more U.S. revenue, despite operating 1,300 fewer stores. The news, though largely expected -- The Wall Street Journal anticipated the "palace coup" back in December -- is a milestone in the history of fast food.
If your brand isn’t on Pinterest, you could be missing out on a growing stream of potential customers.
While Board of Directors, CEOs, and CFOs these days are demanding proof that marketing dollars work, a new study reveals that 57% of CMOs are simply going with their gut feeling when setting marketing budgets, without any consideration for Return On Investment analysis.
Pinterest has rolled out its first significant makeover since gaining popular attention in a move that sees it streamline the look of profile pages on the service.
Nike has opened the world’s first NikeFuel Station at the Boxpark in Shoreditch, London. The retail space breaks new boundaries in digital displays and design, aiming to appeal to today’s digitally-enabled athlete.
The role of business linguist for the CMO is probably one of the more challenging aspects of the job. Translating marketing value and priority to other areas of the corporate enterprise, if done ineffectively or ignored, can lead to disaster.
It’s hard to ignore Pinterest‘s explosive growth over the past year. In a very short period of time, the social network has gone from relative obscurity to a top 100 site, with 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors. But how many referrals does Pinterest generate?
Encyclopaedia Britannica will stop publishing print editions and go digital-only — a huge step for the encyclopedia which has been in print since 1768. The sales of Britannica print editions has been on the decline since 1990, when 120,000 32-volume sets were sold.
In an interview with Hunch co-founder and investor Chris Dixon at SXSW today, it was remarkable how often the conversation hit upon ways that Pinterest bucked Silicon Valley’s conventional wisdom. And yet these days, the visual social curation service is one of the fastest growing and most influential of start-ups.
Playing a kind of “smartball” on brand teams today means insisting that digital players be leveraged against a larger strategy. In short, that a brand’s playbook is not a story of technological possibilities, but a diagram of brand profitability.
The most recent commercial for the BMW i3 and i8 concept cars is a great example of something enlightened marketers have known for years: emotion is the key driver behind purchasing decisions. Yet, today, most businesspeople still follow the old adage, “Emotions and business don’t mix,” relying on rational data to drive decisions instead.
Today at SXSW, Marvel announced a partnership with Autonomy’s Aurasma platform to lets users watch video trailers of books they see in stores, as well as 3D animation, recaps, and other augmented reality extras by holding their phones up to comics.
Buying someone a drink in person is a nice gesture, but buying someone a drink via Twitter is, well, not something you do often. Online networking app Tweet-A-Beer hopes to change that and make paying for other Twitter users’ drinks more of a habit.
In what may be the most overdue brand extension in history, Kraft is using the 100-year-old Planters name to speed growth of its mature grocery business.
In most well-meaning organizations, once important information comes to light, it cannot be ignored, no matter what level of an organization is affected.
A CFO won't make decisions without reliable metrics based on time-tested performance indicators. So why do so many sane, rational marketers think they'll get a pass when it comes to social media?
Brands are spending a great deal of time and energy investing in platforms to get likes or pluses, and not really being social at all.
Brands have historically paid for media to deliver their messages. But now, those brands are becoming the media, attracting their own audiences. And not just within social networks, but through their own online publications. This new strategy is known as content marketing, and it has been embraced by leading brands like American Express, IBM, and General Mills, with more joining the ranks every day.
Have you heard of Pinterest? It’s a (relatively) new social site where users share — or “pin” – visual content. Brands such as GE, HGTV and Martha Stewart Living have made deft use of Pinterest already. As a marketer, you should be too.
The Power of Habit, by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, examines habits good and bad. Duhigg talks us through four companies that found success by swapping business-as-usual routines with smarter habits.
Best Practices: From First To Worst - Continental In A Post United World, Lessons In Next Gen Custom
Despite the numerous attempts by CEO Jeff Smisek to gloss over the issue with increasingly slicked up, feel good, on board welcome ads, Continental’s customer satisfaction numbers have reached the abyss of United’s. While United Holdings may tout their most admired status in the airline industry by Fortune, the award is measured by corporate executives, airline executives, boards of directors and industry analysts
I have been exploring the importance of brand meaning. My basic premise is that the brands which people find to be different in a good way are the ones they will be willing to pay a price premium for. But as I have explored this topic, I have come to realize that there are some very distinct layers of meaning (how a brand is perceived) and brand marketers need to work differently to motivate people within each level.
"Experience" is the marketing buzzword of our time. It seems like every week someone is extolling the vast untapped potential of experience to move your customers: Starcom recently created a Chief Experience Officer position; SMG Global CEO Laura Desmond has called experience the "future of advertising," and Starbucks is revitalizating through a focus on moments of "human connection."
If you pay attention to advertising, you may have seen some charming, pencil-figured ads entitled “Good to Know” about managing your privacy options. After midnight, Google will start linking your data across all of Google’s products.
When you get into work on Monday you’ll find that the Continental Airlines brand has vanished for good. That’s when the airline and United, the 4th and 3rd largest carriers respectively, will adopt a single passenger reservation system.
Facebook brand timelines went live this morning, and though we've known about these for a while, some of the executions are pretty impressive, including founding documents, early advertising, memos, news clips and photos. It's as if dozens of little corporate museums just launched on Facebook.
If there’s one thing Burstein has learned over the years of producing the arts and culture radio show Studio 360, it’s that telling stories is the best way to learn about empathy. So now she tells of four qualities she believes help us all when looking to embrace our own creativity
FastCompany recently released its list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies. Many of the names on the list come as no surprise, especially the top three (Apple, Facebook, and Google). But what caught my attention was the diversity of companies and industries represented.
Back in November, Square told us that 20,000 merchants had signed up for Card Case, and four months later that number has more than doubled to over 40,000 businesses using the loyalty and mobile wallet platform.
As the volume of data skyrockets, it's useful to step back and consider the different types of data, where they come from and how they can be used most effectively. Unique and highly focused data can be used as a signal booster for more effective intent-based targeting.
Pinterest hasn’t just become a significant source of referral traffic for retailers; it’s also becoming a top traffic driver for women’s lifestyle, home decor and cooking magazines, some of which are seeing bigger referral numbers from the image-collecting service than from major portals like Facebook and Yahoo.
As both an avid golf fan and a curious marketer, I’ve noticed a renewed enthusiasm for the premier professional ladies golf tour, the LPGA. To learn more about the LPGA’s turnaround, I had a conversation with the organization’s CMO, Jon Podany.
why is it that consumers are still paying through the nose for e-book titles that ought to cost a fraction of the price charged for the used hardcover version?
If you’re tired of seeing the same news as everyone else, The Washington Post is now experimenting with personalized headlines. That experiment is called Personal Post, and it’s available at personal.washingtonpost.com, where you’ll see a river of content that you can customize.
According to a survey by Symantec, enterprises officially understand that “application culture” isn’t going away, and in order to succeed they need to be competitive both online and in the App Store. Both the iPhone and Android have significantly altered a phone’s function, making it a productivity tool, as opposed to a simple mode of communication. Currently, 71 percent of enterprises are either looking to, or are actively deploying their own mobile applications.
None of us would agree to play a card game with cards missing from the deck. We would know that the odds of winning would be significantly diminished. Yet surprisingly, many marketers are willing to implement marketing programs sans analytics.
"People are 'Fancy-ing' what they like, forming communities around these products or experiences, and now we allow merchants and brands to come in and fill that interest and demand in real-time, which no one is doing," says founder Joseph Einhorn.
A Bloomberg report this weekend pointed out that Gap, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and GameStop have all opened and closed shops on Facebook within the past year — undermining expectations that the social network will become a major revenue driver for retailers over the next decade.
What do superheroes ride? Unless they're from a Japanese Manga comic, it would probably be an American motorcycle brand. Harley-Davidson, to be specific. The Milwaukee-based, all-American bike maker has signed a pact with the iconic American comic book and production company Marvel
People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.
Network effects are an economic principle that suggests certain goods and services experience increasing returns to scale. That means the more users a particular product or service has, the more valuable the product becomes and the more rapidly its overall value increases.
Microsoft and Apple should hate one another right now. I mean, really hate each other. After decades of domination, Microsoft has watched their rival move from death’s door to become the most valuable company in the world
A strong culture is important, and for all the reasons Parr mentions: employee engagement, alignment, motivation, focus, and brand burnishing. But is it the most important element of company success, as the more ferocious of the culture warriors assert?
The trends that are rocking B2C companies are just as relevant to the B2B world: multiplying customer touch points, changing customer behaviors, massive floods of big data. And like their B2C counterparts, B2B companies need to put the customer at the center of everything they do.
Tucked in an area north of Cincinnati is an office-warehouse building that looks like a movie set. It contains fully functional mockups of two homes (one upper-middle class, one lower-income) complete with kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. It has two mock grocery stores and a virtual-reality lab where you can fly over store shelves. This is the Beckett Ridge Innovation Center, or BRIC, in P&G parlance. And P&G, whose innovation record has come under growing scrutiny, hopes it can deliver.
While some may pronounce that Facebook is all the social we’d ever need, users clearly haven’t gotten the memo. Instead, users are rapidly adopting new interest-based social networks such as Pinterest, Instagram, Thumb, Foodspotting, and even the very new Fitocracy.
Is now a good time to have a Jerry Maguire moment? To refresh your memory, the story goes when a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent with the only athlete who stays with him. We say people matter, do we mean it?
Jeremy Levine, who led Bessemer's investment, tells us about all the ways Pinterest can make money, why it's not thinking about that right now, and why the company is more like Google than you might imagine.
People seem really intent these days on fusing television with the Internet. On one level this makes no sense. Television technology works just fine and we all understand how to use it. We’re also in the midst of a golden age when it comes to programming; I can’t remember another time when there were this many good shows on. Also, television advertising rates are enormous compared to the Internet. There are people on YouTube who have more subscribers than top network sitcoms have viewers, yet they earn a minuscule fraction of the revenue. Television, as an industry, is strong. So there is the scent of blood in the water, and out of the resulting frenzy a few lessons have appeared. Here are four of them.
NBC Universal's broadcasts of the Olympics from London this summer will be filled with the usual athletic contests: synchronized swimming, basketball and canoe sprinting, among others. Behind the scenes, however, NBC will engage in a different sort of game: tablet counting. Mindful that audiences are no longer relying solely on TV to get all their video content, NBC Universal will use the Olympics to set up a system that purports to count viewers across all the different ways they now watch their shows.
The future of shopping means every garment--and shopping experience--can be customized to fit both your body and your thirst for discovery.
Facebook, KickStarter, Kiva, Twitter, and other companies thriving in the social era are operating by the rules of the Social Era. They get it. They live it. And to them, it's ridiculously obvious. But too many major companies — Bank of America, Sony, Gap, Yahoo, Nokia — that need to get it, don't.
The 54th Annual Grammy Awards was a huge hit across social, digital and broadcast platforms. Excitement for the return of Adele, as well as the tribute to the late Whitney Houston kept viewers engaged online and off. CBS reported that 39.9 million viewers tuned in to Sunday’s award show, the second-largest Grammy audience ever and the best ratings since 1984.
What do you get when you cross Walmart with Mother Teresa? Who would be the Square Deal candidate in 2012? And how in the world do you compare--and rank--such dynamic, eclectic businesses as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google?
ON a Sunday in early December, Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor of The Washington Post, summoned some of the newspaper’s most celebrated journalists to a lunch at his home, a red brick arts-and-crafts style in the suburb of Bethesda, Md. The Post faces the same problems as other daily newspapers, whose revenues have sunk as the Web and the tough economy have sapped advertising. But in some ways, its situation is even more daunting.
It’s no mystery that the area with the most important long-term implications for an organization is recruiting and staffing employees. One of the biggest and oldest problems for companies revolves around acquiring a talented and creative team — and digital gives the old, traditional methods a new spin.
Even if you haven’t ever visited popular visual bookmarking site Pinterest, you might recognize its design elements — which have been popping up everywhere since the startup burst onto the mainstream scene in 2011. The site doesn’t use traditional web building blocks.
The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom announced this week that it would accept freedom of information (FOI) requests (used by the public and media to ask for access to government documents) via Twitter after launching its own account. The social network could possibly become a new tool for legal and government institutions who choose to join.
Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use Pinterest to communicate through vibrant images and share their personal interests.
Darling social media site Pinterest is taking heat after being revealed to have made a practice of embedding tracking code into links users post on their “boards” to generate revenue.
We spoke with Colin Westcott-Pitt, VP Marketing, Dos Equis, Amstel Light, Newcastle Brown Ale at Heineken USA, about what’s keeping the Most Interesting Man in the World campaign successful. Delivering consumer craving content and utilizing Facebook as both a research tool and a marketing channel is making Dos Equis a category leader.
As part of its promise last year to improve the nutritional quality of the food it sells, Walmart said on Tuesday that it had devised standards to determine what is healthy and would label the foods that meet those standards. A new label with the words Great for You will appear on Walmart's Great Value and Marketside food items this spring.
The thermostat business is getting ugly. I understand that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Late last year Tony Fadell, the guy who created the iPod at Apple, launched Nest, a new company that aims to reinvent household devices. Nest’s first product is a beautiful, easy-to-use, $249 “learning thermostat.” It launched to rave reviews, and sold out instantly. In retrospect it’s clear why Honeywell put on a full-court press to show me all the ways its thermostat was superior to the Nest.
Ah, the complex olfactory bouquet of the urban bus shelter! Trying to identify individual odors within such dense scent tapestries can be difficult, and most disturbing! That's not the case, however, at some locations in British cities like London and Manchester, where McCain Foods is installing 3-D ad panels that emit the aroma of freshly baked potatoes at the push of a button.
Jacq and I just watched Adele Live At The Royal Albert Hall (amazon affiliate link), and though every song was just wonderfully done, I found myself fascinated by what Adele was doing in between each song. Because even though most people would be interested in hearing her belt out her amazing repertoire of hits, what I took away from the performance was Adele’s real magical ability: the ability to resonate with her audience.
Tom Brady and Eli Manning will square off this Super Bowl Sunday as the two quarterbacks tasked with leading their teams to a championship. Brady and Manning both possess many leadership and athletic qualities that have led them to the top of their sport and to this game. However, one of the primary skills of each of these quarterbacks is an in-depth knowledge of his teammates, and in particular the receivers who are supposed to be on the other end of the quarterback’s passes. That knowledge allows these two elite quarterbacks to play at the highest level and make the people around them better, which is an essential leadership skill in football or business.
Most every company says it values its customers, and hates to 'walk away' from them. Leaders are called on to make tough decisions they believe are in the best interests of their companies. And sometimes, these decisions advantage some customers at the expense of others. That doesn't make them bad decisions, just risky ones. But leaders of some of our greatest brands act like they have forgotten (or never knew) what every junior brand manager surely knows --- to test potentially risky messages and find ways to mitigate their negative impact. Instead, senior leaders are acting like bulls in a china shop, awkwardly and prematurely broadcasting their strategic decisions in ways that destroy their company's (and their own) reputation and value.
Trying to figure out what’s on sale when and then waiting for the next sale to buy particular items can be frustrating to consumers so J.C. Penney Co. — in its first major overhaul of its retail arm since former Apple exec Ron Johnson took over as CEO in November — is attempting to make things much easier. The company this week announced that its stores are doing away with having seven kazillion different items on different sales simultaneously and just “marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40% so shoppers will no longer have to wait for a sale to get the lowest prices in its stores.” The move comes as jcpenney, as the chain rebranded itself at the 2011 Oscars, is re-rebranding with a new logo — following the previous year's rebrand at the 2010 Oscars (check out the logo progression below). What was that about trying to avoid consumer confusion?
The opposite of trading up is not trading down. In fact, there is no opposite of trading up; shopping behavior is more nuanced than that. When shopping hit the skids after the financial crisis, there was a lot of talk about a new normal of frugality, as if the only thing possible after a decade-plus of trading up was a generation to come of nothing but trading down. It’s clear now that those prognostications were flawed, not to mention overly pessimistic.
Remember all that talk before the holidays about the blissful union between brick-and-mortar retailers and mobile users? Retailers seemed to have accepted that many of their customers shop with smartphones in hand — and retailers even appeared to be embracing it. A Deloitte consultant who follows these things, Kasey Lobaugh, told Internet Retailer that retailers: "... need to invest in providing customer connectivity in the store, including in-store Wi-Fi, ... building functionality that best serves the customer at the 'point of need' and thinking about the capabilities that align with the customer's location and context, as the customer may be in the store with a smartphone in hand or in a variety of other locations and scenarios." Indeed, Macy's, Sears, and Nordstrom boasted about their in-store free Wi-Fi. Personally, I realized this meant I no longer had to chase after the Home Depot staff whose "Ask Me" shirts always seem to be disappearing just around the far end of the aisle. I could now ask my iPhone.
The brand new Land Rover Range Rover Evoque started 2012 off right – with a prestigious North American Truck of the Year win at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. This topped off a terrific 2011 for the Tata Motors-owned brand, with Land Rover sales up an impressive 19.6% to 38,099 in a new car market that grew by 10.6%. The success of this off-road brand is in stark contrast to its former competitor, GM’s Hummer, which logged no new sales last year and like so many Hollywood marriages, failed to survive to the 10-year anniversary it would have celebrated this year. As you may recall, on February 24, 2010, eight months into its post-bankruptcy life, and nearly eight years after debuting the H2, GM officially announced they would begin the wind-down process for the Hummer brand. The last Hummer rolled off the Shreveport production line in 2010. So how did these two brands with arguably analogous products end up with such different fortunes?
Shortly after taking the top job at J.C. Penney Co. last fall, Chief Executive Ron Johnson signed up for the company's email alerts. He was shocked by what landed in his inbox. The former Apple Inc. retail executive was deluged by sales announcements, sometimes two a day. He and his team counted 590 separate sales last year. They didn't bring in shoppers—Mr. Johnson's team found the average customer purchased only four times a year—but they did crush prices. Alarmingly, he learned nearly three-quarters of Penney's products sold at discounts of 50% or more. Three months into the job, J.C. Penney Chief Executive Ron Johnson is planning a far-reaching but risky overhaul of the department store format.
Senior management teams set the course for their organizations and are often the leaders who first recognize when big change is needed. These teams are also often made up of people with drastically different styles, personalities, and visions. Bringing these voices into alignment around key goals and opportunities is the essential first step toward accelerating strategic results for the organization.
Esquire magazine, a monument to male vitality, seemed about to keel over in 2009. Famous for laying down a much-followed literary track with an article in 1966 by Gay Talese titled “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” the magazine found itself gasping for breath and fighting for survival. Amid the plague that hit the magazine industry back then, Esquire was worse off than most. Beaten up by a crop of lad magazines like Maxim, then hammered by the flight of advertisers and readers to the Web, Esquire suffered a 24.3 percent loss in advertising pages compared with 2008, which was almost as bad, by the way. A Web site for investors, 24/7 Wall Street, predicted in 2009 that Esquire would be one of “Twelve Major Brands that Will Disappear” the following year.
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who made the BlackBerry a leading business tool but then presided over its precipitous decline, said they would step down on Monday as co-chairmen and co-chief executives of Research in Motion. The two men, in developing the innovative device that was the first to reliably deliver e-mail over airwaves, turned a tiny Canadian company into a global electronics giant. But they are stepping aside after disappointing investors and leaving customers wondering whether RIM still has the ability to compete, and perhaps even survive, in the rapidly changing markets for smartphones and tablet computers.
The strategic choices we make every day are determined by the “strategic narratives” we tell ourselves. We face a challenge and we don’t ask, “What does Porter’s Five Forces tell me to think about?” or “What does Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation model tell me to do?” No, we ask ourselves, “What does this remind me of?”
In the 20th century, a select group of leaders — General Motor's Alfred Sloan, HP's David Packard and Bill Hewlett, and GE's Jack Welch — set the standard for the way corporations are run. In the 21st century only IBM's Sam Palmisano has done so. When Palmisano retired this month, the media chronicled his success by focusing on IBM's 21% annual growth in earnings per share and its increase in market capitalization to $218 billion. But IBM hasn't flourished because it kowtows to Wall Street. In fact, five years after Palmisano took over, IBM stock was stuck where it had been when his tenure began.
It’s an age-old question that small businesses and corporations alike seem to be divided on at the start of each year and beyond. When business is slow, is it better to market your business more using every marketing and social media tool available or taper off until the economy picks up? Or in some cases, just stop marketing altogether?
The acquisition of Twitter by Google is the ultimate strategic buyout. We know that Twitter turned down a $10 billion buyout offer from Google sometime in early 2011. There have also been other overtures made over the past several years by Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Surprisingly, Twitter is still independent. Why hasn’t Google paid up with all of that cash on its balance sheet? How could Twitter turn down $10 billion when the company isn’t worth anywhere near that based on earnings or even projected earnings (1999 style)?
The differences between social media influencers and the online strategies of other groups are so marked that it is worth asking the question what do social media influencers do that the rest of us don’t? What can we learn from these differences?
It takes years to build a good reputation, but seconds to damage it beyond repair, as executives at companies from Dell to Domino’s certainly have found out. This was a sentiment echoed by executives at the Senior Corporate Communication Management Conference in New York when discussing social media and corporate reputation and how to embrace the new reality of immediate communications.
Everyone wants their own mobile application. In the last year, I have heard this consistently. In fact, mobile analytics firm Distimo claims 91 of the top 100 brands have their own mobile app (up from 51 just 18 months ago). On the surface this sounds great, right? I can use my big brand name to get people to install my application, and then I can market to them via the palm of their hand whenever I want. If you're a big brand, I have no doubt you will get a ton of downloads. But downloads are a vanity metric; they don't measure success.
There's an interesting question on Quora right now: If you had to pick between an amazing product designer or an amazing engineer to build a new company around, which would you pick and why? This question reflects a painful problem that is common at both small startups and large corporate organizations. Far too often, teams focus on execution before defining the product opportunity and unique value proposition. The result is a familiar set of symptoms including scope creep, missed deadlines, overspent budgets, frustrated teams and, ultimately, confused users. The root cause of these symptoms is the fact that execution focuses on the how and what of a product. But in a world where consumers are inundated with choices, products that want to be noticed and adopted must be rooted in the why.
So was the Gap's logo debacle really a debacle, or was it a clever sleight of hand? In response to my post last week, some of you said: wait a second — what if this was a genius move by the Gap, garnering a boatload attention with minimum effort?
"Everybody lives by selling something," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, author of "Treasure Island." Agents, CMOs and deal makers will always get starry-eyed by the big names of "celebrity" because brands love endorsements, and consumers buy into "celebrity." Questions remain, however, as to whether the international obloquy related to the Tiger Woods crisis dealt a devastating blow to celebrity endorsement. In light of the risks, is the celebrity endorsement deal still worth it?
What does winning look like at your organization? Defining success may sound simple, but few strategic plans come to grips with this question. Instead, management teams fall back on broad-brushed vision statements. "To be the best ... the biggest ... the leading ..." that lack the specificity employees need to implement the strategy or provide the benchmarks that leaders can use to measure progress. Should growth strategies be visionary? Certainly. But they should also be concrete. That's what Plan to Win is all about.
In 2009 Katie O'Brien was looking for an agency partner to help her launch a major digital effort. The global digital marketing manager at Ben & Jerry's issued a brief to a traditional digital shop and a traditional PR agency, Edelman. The plans they brought back were, in Ms. O'Brien's own words, "night and day." The biggest difference, she said, was that one understood social media better than the other -- and it wasn't the digital agency.
Business strategists who analyze Sir Richard Branson's methodology for opening new businesses might think it consists of "Throw it against the wall and see what sticks." They might be right. Branson, the iconoclastic founder of Virgin, a name that represents almost anything you can imagine these days, continues to confound business media, impress investors, and delight consumers with one unusually innovative, breakthrough idea after another. In addition to launching a new media brand, the aptly-named Maverick, exclusively for the iPad, Branson and Co. have been busy on the branding front across a staggering 360-plus companies. Virgin, as ever, is spreading its wings with some novel brand exercises.
Mark Anderson, the high-tech industry’s most accurate prognosticator, foresees an economic landscape still under the stress of too much liquidity — and decision makers still in denial.
If there's one thing Joel Ewanick has made clear since joining General Motors Co. three months ago, it's that he doesn't let grass grow under his feet. And the company's VP-marketing isn't slowing down anytime soon: In a wide-ranging interview with Ad Age today, Mr. Ewanick let drop that the automaker will return to the Super Bowl in 2011; that an ad campaign will break next month for Chevy Camaro; and that there's a new tagline coming for Cadillac, "The new standard for the world."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cannot seem to find the right fit when it comes to selling clothing. By quietly ousting its U.S. division apparel chief last week, the world's largest retailer acknowledged that its clothing strategy has been a dud. Again. Over the past decade, Wal-Mart has veered from one approach to clothing to another. The discount giant has even tried to emulate rival Target Corp. by stocking its own lines of trendy outfits. At other times the Bentonville, Ark., retailer has placed its bets on bulk packs of everyday wear, like tube socks and T-shirts. "Wal-Mart has suffered from not knowing who they want to be," said Allen Questrom, the former chief executive of J.C. Penney Co. who recently left Wal-Mart's board. "They're either trying to be too fashionable or too basic."
Allstate Insurance is running a campaign in which the threats of trees falling on cars, teens nicking car bumpers, and pets trashing upholstery are portrayed by a character named "Mayhem." I think it's scary good advertising. The actor, Dean Winters, is wonderfully smarmy. He was hilariously memorable as Tina Fey's self-adoring idiot ex-boyfriend on "30 Rock," and in these spots he cheerfully promises mayhem on dark roads and in crowded parking lots. He's perfect because he's sinister in the same way that stripes threaten to clash with plaid. I get the point but I'm not scared. Which is why the critics' complaints that the spots resort to fear mongering are plain wrong. Mayhem's mischief is an expression of reality; fate (or chance) is capricious, and that's why there's such a thing as insurance in the first place. So these ads manage to tell the truth, which is 1) an immense accomplishment for the category, and 2) directionally illustrative of what other advertisers should do.
No one is an expert, and it is only through a multidisciplinary process that it all comes together; materials, process and design. There must be a meaningful confluence of the elements otherwise it will be like sticking wood laminate on a laptop to make it more valuable. Furthermore, this requires stepping away from the computer and getting reacquainted with materials and processes. Indeed this is quite a hat tip to the old school craftsman approach to design.
Shopping giant Amazon bought online auction phenomenon Woot today, and given the relative sizes of the companies, it can only be a move made with long-term Amazon strategy in mind. Earlier this afternoon we wrote about the deal as a victory for freaks and a marriage of light- and heavy-weight supply chains, but there's something else going on here, too. Woot is bringing real-time social shopping to Amazon.
When it comes to social media for business, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. But to ensure results, you must align it with your overall business objectives and avoid falling for “shiny new objects” simply because they are trendy or hyped. For example, a new business or “first mover” may want to focus on establishing thought leadership, while a more mature business should aim for customer support. In all cases, creating a product that actually solves problems for customers, present and future, should be every business’s top priority — and you should be using social media to help you figure out what that product is. Below, we’ll take a closer look at how each department can blend traditional and social media to drive business goals and collaborate on a seamless customer experience.
An annual orgasm of self-love -- remember, the awards aren't voted by clients or consumers -- suggests to me that the advertising industry is still unable to talk to itself about what's happening. Creative ain't what it used to be. Actually, it never was. For the entirety of human history, advertising was a vehicle to get people to buy things. Creativity was important as long as it was applied to this goal; even corporate ads from the late 1800s had a direct link to a sales strategy.
Customers are fickle. Just when you think you’re in a steady relationship … their eyes are drawn to a more attractive suitor. We spend so much of our time time trying to make and keep our customers happy that we may forget others—the competition—are trying to make them happier. Blasted competition!
When Landon Donovan scored a winning goal yesterday in overtime, he put the U.S. World Cup team at the top of its group for the first time since 1930. And people who never cared about soccer were suddenly talking about it everywhere in the media. Some of them might even start watching World Cup 2010. To the soccer newbie, the World Cup might seem like just a bunch of guys running and kicking the ball, but watch a few matches, and you’ll see the mindset and behaviors required to win. And you might actually learn a little about business, too.
The public image of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, has suffered in the wake of the credit crunch with a famous article in Rolling Stone magazine describing the organisation as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. BP is widely perceived to have compounded the damage done to its image by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico through a poor public relations and crisis management strategy in its aftermath. What affects reputations in turn affects brands. It is too soon to say how badly the Goldman Sachs and BP brands will be affected but it seems certain that they will be. And what all of these examples highlight is how hard it is to manage reputations.
One of the most sought after answers in Social Media is whether or not engagement in social networks such as Twitter or Facebook directly correlates to customer acquisition, retention, and advocacy. Before we can earn customers however, we have to recognize that at any given time, they are also prospects. And, prospects require information and confidence in order to make decisions, in your favor of course. The answer to our question lies in social engagement.
Solid brand equity that’s carefully built up over years or even decades is, of course, the commodity that every upstart hopes it will one day have. Chances are you still recognize legendary brand names such as Paine Webber or AlliedSignal. The chances are even better that you recall brand names like Handi Wrap from its having been in your own kitchen drawer. Now, I have a question: How can you build brand equity as strong and durable as that enjoyed by these names? Here’s one way: You could just buy it.
In retail, success comes with a curse. A long line of retailers have been tempted into rapid store growth to maximize sales, only to hit a wall and need to shrink. Starbucks may be the best example. It likely set a record for the fastest long-term expansion of any big retailer. Morgan Stanley's John Glass says Starbucks added U.S. stores at an annual 27% rate from 1995 to 2005, reaching almost 12,000. That is even faster than the 17% rate of McDonald's from 1965 to 1975.
As Nike's top marketer, Trevor Edwards, VP-global brand and category management, has helped the world's leading footwear and apparel company grow its market-share lead by becoming possibly the world's most accomplished digital marketer.
Newell Rubbermaid Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Ted Woehrle admits it wasn't always easy going from a world of big budgets at his alma mater, Procter & Gamble Co., to a world of smaller brands with smaller budgets at Newell Rubbermaid in 2007. Nearly three years in, Mr. Woehrle discusses how he's beaten the two-year CMO curse, how he's helped build a marketing culture at a product-focused company and why he's willing to wait for social-media programs to develop organically without big-budget pushes.
All of these are disconnected events; a Polaroid snapshot of our psychology at a single moment in time. Some of these memes are ephemeral. Others may be lasting. However, our success as marketers increasingly hinges on having a deep, real-time understanding of our networked environment and how these themes can impact our programs. Enter situational awareness--an essential skill every CMO-level executive and his staff must build and evolve.
We've all heard the saying, "Don't call us, we'll call you." Normally, it's reserved for that scene in a movie where someone in a position of power is giving the blow-off move to a salesman, interviewee, or otherwise faceless subordinate. These days, brands and marketers are hearing the phrase more and more from disenchanted and disinterested teens. More than other demographics, teens are all too ready to give marketers the brush-off. So how do brands and marketers avoid falling victim to this dismissal from such a powerful target group?
The upfront market, the annual mating dance in which ad buyers and major broadcast networks haggle over ad time for the new TV season, is heating up, and could be sold out in a matter of weeks, ad buyers and marketers say. It's a major reversal from last year when talks dragged on through much of the summer in a harsh economic climate.
With the meaning of a brand wide open to public interpretation and prone to hyperbole and misconception, corporate managers must thread a thicket of sticky challenges to successfully communicate brand mission, values and philosophy. Moreover, as brands become the publishers of their own unfolding stories, they need intelligent editors who can provide stakeholders with a stream of high-value content that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, and that is honestly empathetic. Anything less will not suffice in a world where consumers can simply click away or spin around and mount a web-wide counter-attack on brands that refuse to walk their talk.
Social Media marketing is not new nor is it widely established or even understood. However in 2010, it will completely transform the way businesses attract customers and the way consumers find the businesses and services that matter to them. And like that, an overnight landmark, which really is over a decade in the making, will challenge business owners, more so than today, as they now compete for the future, right now. Social Networks are no longer the playgrounds we once perceived. The simple truth is this; social networking is not for just for kids or people with too much free time on their hands.
f the new Apple iPad is for multitaskers, then Amazon.com's Kindle is for die-hard readers, and that's OK with Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. Speaking at Amazon's annual shareholder meeting Tuesday in downtown Seattle, Bezos acknowledged nine out of 10 households don't necessarily do a lot of serious reading. Still, he said the Kindle can compete with the iPad by focusing on die-hard readers, just as heavy-duty cameras remain relevant despite the spread of camera phones.
Twitter has banned third party ad networks like Ad.ly, Sponsored Tweets and MyLikes. Like the multilevel marketer who used the pretence of friendship as a recruiting tool, these ad services are all about monetizing personal relationships. Each third party ad network offers a different spin on the same basic business model: you sign up as a sponsored tweeter, and based on the number of people who follow you, you are assigned a price for referring to various advertisers in your tweets. You select from a list of advertisers, and then tweet a link to that advertiser's product, either using your own text or a message that is provided by the advertiser. Your followers click the link, and you get paid.
We've all been there. It's that dreaded moment of truth when you realize that having The Talk, The Big Conversation, perhaps even The Great Ultimatum, is inescapable. It could involve your child, your spouse, your subordinate or your colleague. But in every case, it only arrives when it's too late to pretend that the conflicts aren't there or don't really matter. If you're in marketing, that moment often means getting to the bottom of differences that, in so many companies, force your own professional efforts out of phase with those of sales. And in a dicey economy, when doing more with less has become a mantra, alignment between the two functions has now become a core survival strategy.
Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers' names and other personal details, despite promises they don't share such information without consent. The practice, which most of the companies defended, sends user names or ID numbers tied to personal profiles being viewed when users click on ads. After questions were raised by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook and MySpace moved to make changes. By Thursday morning Facebook had rewritten some of the offending computer code
Henkel Corp. is launching a national campaign for its Loctite product line of adhesives and sealants. The campaign -- the first-ever Loctite brand effort -- is designed to build awareness for the brand, although it is a widely used product in U.S. households. Via the Milwaukee, Wis. office of Cramer-Krasselt, the effort comprises TV, print, out-of-home, a new site and point-of-sale materials. Two TV spots show how the adhesive brand that can do everything from fixing toys to patching boats is the same one used by professionals. Print and out-of-home ads visually contrast the uses of the product in split-screen style between home uses and professional, high-profile uses such as race cars and space vehicles. One ad shows a space shuttle on one side with a high-heeled shoe on the other. Others show planes vs. Porsches and a Formula One racer opposite a coffee mug.
Rather than seek increased revenues and profits by expanding products and markets, companies should follow a seven-step strategy for achieving more with less.
Comparing Starbucks and McDonald's may not seem to make sense at first, but the two chains actually have a lot in common--namely, they both promise quickie and easy food and beverages on the go, and both companies have recently ramped up sustainability efforts. In the new book The HIP Investor, author R. Paul Herman attempts to compare the two mega-chains. Below, we do the same.
Pam Kufahl, CI’s editor, and I spoke after Malcolm Gladwell delivered the keynote at the recent IHRSA convention and trade show. Gladwell had called for a revolution in the fitness industry through a “re-branding” of exercise. In order to reach the 84% of the adult U.S. population which does not belong to a fitness facility, Gladwell argued, exercise must be made relevant and exciting to them. As I thought about the point, it became clear to me the fitness club industry needed more than simply a new label or marketing program. Fitness club operators must think differently about their business. They must come up with new and different answers to some fundamental questions.
Social media is reinventing marketing, communications, and the dissemination of information. While businesses now have access to these rich channels, the true promise of social media lies in the direct connections between people who represent companies and the people who define markets of interest. Today, many businesses approach this with the establishment of social media guidelines and policies. This is indeed an important step, and not one worth economizing. But it’s also not enough. I highly recommend establishing official procedures that remind representatives of the importance and privilege of engagement.
A great deal of my community has given up on large organizations, stating that the “true” innovation is now happening at start-ups. What that story misses is that many of the “free agents” we see around us as consultants, and so on are actually part of a larger enterprise, albeit in a loose relationship. Larger organizations will survive if only because of the human need to be apart of something larger and the efficiencies of those ecosystems.
The older I get, the more I become convinced that the average person in our "sound byte society" has the attention span of a gnat. Worse, I fear that in making this assertion, I may be describing myself. I've traditionally been a bit of a cynic for the latest fads. My elders drilled it into me that you "stick with something that works." Yet despite being the immediate past president of the Marketing Research Association (MRA) and a staunch advocate of classical marketing research methodologies, I'm actually starting to buy into some of the "buzz du jour" about social media as a viable tool for measuring fan sentiment.
If you are in the "consumer durables" market, you already know that it's a label that doesn't make much sense to Gen Y. For Gen Yers, the consumer durables equation seems to look like this: Product Lifespan = Adopted + Adapted + Left Behind for the Next Version
General Motors Co. removed a recently named marketing chief Wednesday and replaced her with an executive known in the car industry for a clever campaign that helped Hyundai Motor Co. bolster its U.S. sales. The move reflects the urgency Chairman and Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. places on winning customers and increasing sales in the critical U.S. market. Since becoming chairman last summer, Mr. Whitacre has made it no secret that he expects GM to gain share in the U.S. market, and sees raising sales as critical to its turnaround.
Originally established by the Texas Legislature as the Texas State Cancer Hospital and the Division of Cancer Research in 1941, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center — named after Houston cotton merchant Monroe D. Anderson whose philanthropic foundation made great contributions to the center early on — is today one of the leading cancer research and treatment facilities in the world. Up to 2009, it has been as ranked No. 1 in cancer care in the “America’s Best Hospitals” survey published by U.S. News & World Report in six of the past eight years. Employing more than 17,000 people, MD Anderson treated over 96,000 patients in 2009. A new identity, introduced yesterday, aims to visualize the center’s mission, “to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation and the world.”
"Not all recalls are equal, and in this case, McNeil was proactive, instituting the recall before anyone got hurt," he says. "And the very fact that they are doing it is likely to generate a 'yes, they are the brand that is doing the right thing at the right time' response." When the company announced the voluntary recall, it made a point of saying that there was little possibility of the products causing any harm or untoward side effects to people using them. "This recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse medical events."
While non-profits may not allocate extra funds to stakeholders, charitable organizations still have a bottom line — to spread their message and accomplish their mission. To do this, strategic planning, which includes digital outreach, is involved. That’s why a growing number of non-profits are using social media to draw attention to their goals.
After less than two years, Richard Gerstein, senior-VP marketing of Sears Holdings, has resigned. Mr. Gerstein joined the company in July 2007 as CMO of Sears, ascending to the top marketing slot in August 2008, following the departure of Maureen McGuire. He is the second top marketer to leave since Edward Lampert took control of the company five years ago.
I want to talk about your marketing mind, and why it’s important. I just saw a really decent ad placement for Field Notes, a little writing pad that looks like everyone’s favorite Moleskine products. It was on my Twitterific for iPad app, up at the top. I liked the look of the ad. I liked the tag line they used. I clicked through and checked out the site and found that it was themed really nicely, and that it compelled me to want to buy some.
Spend a few days around the world stopping over in Shenzen, Shanghai, Mumbai and Seoul and you know what’s really happening out there. Companies are getting desperate and now reaching out to suppliers and customers for ideas. Some even go to the extreme of sourcing ideas from the everyone - the crowd. There’s this naive belief that the crowd is smarter than individual. This is a dangerous theory. Engaging suppliers, advanced users and front-end employees are good practices, but not letting them do your job.
With two weeks to go before the British general election, the media seems to have gone politically bonkers. You can’t turn a page or switch on the TV without an immediate update on the upcoming election. Marketers are not exempt from all this either. We suddenly seem obsessed with the different marketing strategies being applied by the three major political parties. The Lib Dems have gone guerrilla. Labour is relying on user-generated content. And the Tories are using traditional, above-the-line media.
I was in a Barnes & Noble store recently and noticed a shelf area called “Trends in Business.” On it was one book after the other touting the virtues of social media for marketing purposes. What concerned me was that most of the titles related directly to tools. At least six of them were about Facebook, another six about Twitter, two were focused on blogging, there was one about YouTube, and so on. This was evidence of a focus that, to me, is unhealthy. Consumers are putting much more emphasis on the “how” and less on the “why” … tactics before strategy. I think that is a mistake. It’s classic putting the cart before the horse. Unless you understand why you’re doing something, it makes little sense to learn how.
With their ability to cheaply reach eyeballs, online ad networks have commanded more money and attention from marketers in the past few years, thus edging out content sites in the conversation for ad dollars. A recent study, however, claims content is back. A survey of agencies and marketers revealed that 52% of them plan to spend more on content sites this year, whereas only 35% said they were likely to increase budgets for ad networks. As examples of content destinations, the study cited ESPN and WebMD.
Marketers have always sought that secret sauce, the data that gives them an edge over their competition. And online, where data is generated faster than anyone can make sense of it, that arms race has taken on an extreme dimension.
Strategy used to be about protecting your existing competitive advantage. Today, it's about finding the next advantage. Strategy starts to decay the moment it's created. That's why corporations must develop strategies that address tomorrow's business realities. Strategic actions that companies take belong in one of three boxes.
OK, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something that might not make sense at first: the most important outcome of successful web analytics (or SEO effort or landing page testing, etc.) is not a better web site. The most important outcome is a better, more functional company.
Joel Ewanick became VP marketing, Nissan Division, on March 22. Literally. Ewanick, who replaces Christian Meunier (tapped as president, Nissan Brazil) went right to work, attending agency strategy sessions and dealer meetings. The former VP marketing at Hyundai Motor American since early 2007 now orchestrates the whole marching band, from marketing communications to incentives to pricing and product management.
While Twitter’s growth is apparently stalling, Facebook goes from strength to strength and is now, arguably, the world’s largest digital media ‘owner’ other than Google. Its audience is now a very international one, with 70% of users being outside of the US, and its largest audiences are in countries as varied as the UK, Indonesia and Turkey. With this massive growth has come massive opportunities; not just for Facebook but for brands too. But it has also brought challenges, including one that is cropping up more and more frequently – how should multinational companies manage their Facebook profiles? Globally? Locally? Or, dare I say it, somewhere in between: glocally? For brands with a presence in multiple markets, understanding how best to manage their resources to best provide users with relevant content and ensure the highest possible chance of success in the social marketing efforts, this is a challenge that deserves attention.
As in-store marketing grows in importance and marketers focus more at winning over consumers at the shelf, one discipline is seeing its star rise: design. No less a giant than Procter & Gamble Co. has incorporated design into its comprehensive brand-building function under the group headed by Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard. After initially carving design shops out of its new "Brand Agency Leader" model for managing and paying marketing-services shops, P&G now increasingly includes them in the system, in which lead creative agencies essentially function as general contractors over other marketing services shops.
Today, everything is social -– social commerce, social business, social CRM. The list goes on and on. But are consumer technologies like Twitter and Facebook strategic for implementing a social media business strategy? Can you measure the investment? What are the best options for getting tangible value? Once you remove the shiny wrapper, there is an incredible amount of depth and value in using social technologies as a way to reach your customers. However, I personally find the word “social” to be a poor descriptor. Terms like community or collaboration tend to be more meaningful. Here are some ways that businesses and tap into the power of online community.
Much has been written about how savvy search marketers can exploit the long tail in both organic SEO and for paid search campaigns. The formal definition of the long tail refers to the statistical property that a larger share of population rests within the “tail” of a probability distribution than the “head.”
UAL Corp.'s United Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. have resumed discussions of a potential merger that would create a global behemoth, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday. The talks are the latest in a decade long dance between the two big airlines and have recently heated up after months of off-and-on conversation, these people said. The talks aren't that far along and could falter again, these people said.
Some ideas are a banquet. They go on and on, and invite us to consider what they really mean for hours or days - or sometimes much much longer. Then there are the flashes of insight. The quick sparks that we immediately react to and understand when we hear or see or touch them. These are the types of ideas I wish I could find and share more often. Ideas that inspire in a moment. Starting a movement, for most people, is much more complicated than just having an idea. If you happen to work in a place where this is part of your goal, your questions are often about stakeholders and messages and creating something "viral." We are all seeking the formula that turns that idea into a movement.
Successful business people are always looking for their next rock star employee. The question is where do you find them? The good news is that the latest LinkedIn stats – 60 million professional profiles spanning 200 countries – would indicate this is a good place to look. Many of us already have a LinkedIn account, and if you don’t, LinkedIn is free and easy to maneuver. The trick is incorporating some strategies (habits, if you will) into using LinkedIn.
Advertising, PR, and marketing agencies are rapidly waking up to the fact that they can no longer be competitive without including social and emerging media in the work they propose to clients. But in many, if not most, agencies, social media is suffering from Slide 29 Syndrome. That's when an account exec calls the digital gurus and says something like this: "For the past few weeks, we've been working on an RFP that we need to send to the client tomorrow. Please add some social media recommendations to the deck and get it us by COB today." They say that because they think social media is Twitter and Facebook and that you pretty much just need to throw up a page so you can broadcast your press releases and announcements.
Content doesn’t make something viral; people are the primary source of powering social objects across the attention nodes that connect the human network. Despite what appears commonsensical, we’re surprised when our brainchild doesn’t attract the views, attention, and circulation we believe it deserves. The reality of social media is this, in the attention economy, information isn’t randomly discovered and broadly disseminated. It is strategically positioned to either appear when someone searches for a related keyword or it’s presented to someone manually and deliberately.
It’s worth revisiting and re-crafting this refrain today — in a marketing arena in which the whole world’s gone topsy-turvy. As Social Media has blown up the silos between Advertising, Corp Comms, Direct Marketing, Public Relations, Customer Service, and even Information Technology, it’s easy to get caught up in the tools and techniques rather than focus on the sea change underlying this new madness. What’s this Social Media stuff really all about? It’s about the people.
Geico outguns it by more than double when it comes to auto insurance ad spending. Progressive outspends it by nearly 40%. And Allstate matches its outlays on auto-insurance ads. Yet State Farm -- the country's leading auto insurer -- gained market share last year despite raising its rates and dwelling as a distant third in ad spending in the category. When rival Allstate raised rates, its policy sales declined, but after State Farm did the same, its share actually advanced due to a small increase (less than 1%) in policies sold during a down market.
Simply put, if marketers are counting on their agencies to lead them into a world of changing consumer behaviors and media habits, they should think again. As digital-marketing channels multiply, agencies are struggling to figure out their own businesses, and a recent Forrester study suggests that marketers may need to force their agencies to evolve rather than wait for them to do it themselves. Ad Age got a peek at the 16-page study, called "The Future of Agency Relationships," for which Forrester spent nearly four months interviewing agency and marketing executives.
The announcement that Tiger Woods would finally begin his 2010 PGA season with an appearance at the Masters Tournament didn't surprise me. My belief has always been that he would step forward to rebuild his brand. The love of the game, if not the love of the fame, is just too important to him. This announcement, along with the continuous bad news about Toyota and other long-standing brands under duress did, however, get me thinking about how much harder it is to transition and reposition a brand in the digital world than it was in pre-Internet days. With information about everything from culture to commerce immediately accessible and sharable on social media, no topic is immune to scrutiny or commentary. This has marketing folks asking some very good questions about strategies for working through both planned and unavoidable changes in brand status.
Pricing is one of the most powerful--yet underutilized--strategies available to businesses. A McKinsey & Company study of the Global 1200 found that if companies increased prices by just 1%, and demand remained constant, on average operating profits would increase by 11%. Using a 1% increase in price, some companies would see even more growth in percentage of profit: Sears, 155%; McKesson, 100%, Tyson, 81%, Land O'Lakes, 58%, Whirlpool, 35%. Just as important, price is a key attribute that consumers consider before making a purchase.
I hadn’t seen my artist friend in nearly a year, nor was I even sure he was still painting. But there I was the other day, standing with him in his art studio, chatting about the new things he wanted me to add to his web site. Suddenly he led me to one large 80” x 64” canvas of swirling brush strokes that is his style. “This one is for you,” he announced, “for all the help you’ve given me with the web site.”
Here's a $20 bottle of soap. Functionally identical to a $3 bottle, so what's the $17 for? Let's assume the people buying it aren't stupid. What are they paying $17 for? A story. A feeling. A souvenir of a shopping expedition or perhaps just a little bit of joy in the shower every morning. Let's dissect.
The idea of branded utility is nothing new. In fact, it’s an idea that has cycled in and out of popular conversations for almost a decade, and yet there is still debate on exactly what it means and whether or not brands can truly provide branded utility in a way that makes a relevant connection to the brand.
Walmart has decided that national brands are still important -- even ones with relatively small shares that it used to think didn't. The world's-biggest retailer had embarked on an ambitious program to winnow brand assortment in an effort to reduce inventory, improve margins and, it said, offer the consumer a better shopping experience. But realizing the culling actually "aggravated" consumers, it's now restocking hundreds of brands and products eliminated or curtailed months ago and taking a new look at other categories where it has streamlined assortment.
A lot of people are excited about social media and think it could have a hugely positive impact on their brand, their marketing and communications, the insight they get, the way in which they deal with customer service and many other benefits it can bring to an organisation and to the way it interacts with and engages customers. They are right to be excited, the opportunities are great but brands should not hide from the fact that getting an engaging social media presence takes proper thought, some effort and may take time to embed.
Until the late 1980s, you could clearly see the difference between the business and public sectors. Business was fast-moving, productive, and focused exclusively on profits. The public sector (government, nonprofits, foundations) was slow and unresponsive but full of people who cared about the world and its people. With the emergence of the citizen sector, all that has changed.
So, how was your week? Mine's been interesting. In case you haven't heard, I interviewed Twitter CEO Evan Williams at the keynote at this year's South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference on Monday in Austin, Texas. In short, the Twitterati in the audience thought our hour-long chat was about as interesting as watching a pair of grandmothers play Canasta. I'll be the first to admit to being a bit green as an interviewer, and entirely new to SXSW. Maybe, in hindsight, I should have monitored Twitter on my laptop from the stage so I could have adjusted our conversation... especially in front of a raucous audience not known for leniency. In any case, I apologize to the SXSW community that our conversation didn't live up to the significant pre-event hype. But let's get beyond the hype.
How do you talk about your business's strategy so that your employees get it? Well, you've probably heard the phrase "Keep it simple, stupid." And often the subtext of that is: "Keep it simple, because your people are stupid." But the point of simplicity isn't to dumb things down. You're not trying to solve a comprehension problem. You're trying to solve a problem called decision paralysis.
While I have spent some time pondering social media in 2006, this topic is getting dear to my heart again. Partially because – here at Futurelab - there has been a marked increase in the number of requests from large organisations to help develop a “social media strategy”. This is often accompanied by the words Facebook, Twitter, buzz and monetization. My usual one-line response to these queries is that developing a strategy for social media, is about as useful as developing of a strategy for a fax machine.
The internet has changed the way we do research. Sure it's cheap and fast, but is the ability to get instant data actually making executives smarter about market opportunities? Not always. In too many companies, online research creates an illusion of rigor while actually sowing confusion about market truths, leading executives -- in particular CEOs and CMOs -- to miss the big picture and waste opportunities right under their noses.
Allergan and Medicis Pharmaceutical are the Coke and Pepsi of vanity medicine. Allergan makes Botox Cosmetic, the well-known injectable anti-wrinkle treatment. Medicis markets Dysport, a competing anti-wrinkle shot, in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration has approved both drugs to smooth skin furrows between the eyebrows. And now Medicis has introduced a new marketing campaign that pits Dysport directly against Botox, essentially issuing a Pepsi challenge for the wrinkle wars. The campaign is even called the Dysport challenge.
Increasingly turbulent labor negotiations are threatening to knock U.S. airlines off their recovery course just as the battered industry starts to emerge from a deep recession. Airlines slashed pay and benefits over the past decade, often during stays in bankruptcy court. Now, their restive workers are pressing for wage increases, in some cases by double-digit percentages.
Judging from its branding and the griping of its competitors, Apple customers are hip, aware, and enlightened, yet its shareholders recently defeated resolutions to make the company more environmentally responsible and affirmed instead their uncool unconcern about anything other than profits. There isn't just a disconnect here, but an entirely topsy-turvy arrangement.
Organizations love data: numbers, reports, trend lines, graphs, spreadsheets — the more the better. And, as a result, many organizations have a substantial internal factory that churns out data on a regular basis, as well as external resources on call that produce data for onetime studies and questions. But what's the evidence (or dare I say "the data") that all of this data is worth the cost and indeed leads to better business decisions? Is some amount of data collection unnecessary, perhaps even damaging by creating complexity and confusion?
Corporate America is emerging from the worst downturn since the Great Depression smaller and thriftier. To survive, companies have laid off millions of workers, closed hundreds of factories and vacated acres of office space. Like those who grew up in the Depression and still reuse sheets of aluminum foil, the experience has left them financially conservative and wary of risk. The road to recovery will likely be marked by slow and steady acceleration, rather than speed. Some companies will see opportunities to amass undervalued assets or steal customers. But it is unclear if their efforts will create enough new jobs to spark broader economic growth
As we make our way through the challenges of the global economic crisis, high-impact performers are in demand. I'm speaking here of the indispensible workers who are willing to do what it takes to help the company succeed even in the most difficult of times. Those who pick up the slack when the organization is forced to cut back; those whose ideas save time, money, and effort; those with a positive outlook who help keep the organization moving forward.
I hate the word "buzz," especially when it's being stoked by a calculated PR push, so I'm going to start using a new word, "puzz" (publicity + buzz) to describe that phenomenon. The last couple weeks have seen a lot of puzz about Foursquare, a very interesting, cutting-edge social media application that combines digital, mobile distribution of data with the real-world physical locations of its users. Basically, it's a social network site that tells your friends where you are. This is a very cool idea, bringing online social media -- previously restricted to the infinite, abstract Internet -- into the limited, concrete geography of the real world. The latest Foursquare puzz has it partnering with IGN Entertainment's AskMen.com site, for a deal that will distribute content about local travel and entertainment from the AskMen A. List newsletter to Foursquare users, complementing the highly targeted local social focus of the latter.
I spoke recently with Walter Kiechel about his new book, The Lords of Strategy, which describes the rise of the large strategy consulting firms — BCG, McKinsey, and Bain — as well as the business school professors who contributed conceptual frameworks and pragmatic insights to the strategy revolution. Kiechel, a former Managing Editor at Fortune magazine, was the Editorial Director of Harvard Business Publishing from 1998 to 2002.
Coca-Cola Co.'s deal Thursday to acquire the bulk of its largest bottler is likely to spell major changes in the way beverages reach stores and consumers in the U.S. Coke shares slipped 4% to $53.12 in 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange following the company's announcement that it will acquire Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.'s North American operations, representing about 75% of the volume of Coke products sold in the U.S. and all of its Canadian volume. At the same time, CCE will expand its European operations, acquiring Coke's bottling units in Norway and Sweden, and later possibly its 83% stake in its large German bottling operations.
Nike recently released their “Corporate Responsibility Report FY07-09” and I was so impressed by it, I just had to share my thoughts about it. Many of you know how big of a Nike fan I am, so it’s probably not surprising that the report resonated so strongly with me. But actually, I don’t think my positive brand bias has much to do with my reaction to the report. After all, I take a very skeptical stance when it comes to corporate social responsibility because many companies’ CSR efforts lack integrity the way their brand efforts do – they emphasize the saying vs. the doing.
Ever wonder what is really behind this thing we call "identity? " It's one of those words that attracts a variety of meanings, ranging from a company's name and logo, to its business definition (Fuji: We're a digital imaging company), to its image in the marketplace, to its values.
The New York Times brings this story of an economist who has been predicting - disconcertingly accurately - the medals tally for the last few Olympics. Daniel Johnson - the economist in question - is currently in the news for his predictions for the current Winter Olympics. The strange thing about Daniel's predictions is not that they have a record of 94% accuracy with actual medal counts. It is his methology. Rather than basing his predictions on individual athletes, the events or even any knowledge of sport, he bases them on something far more removed.
Coca-Cola Co. agreed to buy the bulk of its largest bottler, the company announced Thursday morning. Under the terms of the deal, Coke would give up its 34% stake in Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., worth $3.4 billion, and assume $8.88 billion in debt. In a separate deal, Coca-Cola will sell its own Norwegian and Swedish bottling operations to Coca-Cola Enterprises for $822 million. CCE has an option to buy Coca-Cola's 83% stake in its German bottling operations. "We have a strong and unrelenting belief in our unique and thriving global bottling system. Our new North American structure will create an unparalleled combination of businesses," Coca-Cola Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent said in a statement.
For almost two years, "Paranormal Activity" quietly maintained modern-day cult movie status, traveling from film festivals to the occasional midnight screening in a college town for anyone who wanted to see -- and scream at -- the ultralow-budget horror thriller. But after Paramount Pictures picked up the $15,000 film from corporate sibling DreamWorks last summer, it was time to redefine what "cult" could mean in the digital age of 2009. Paramount teamed with Eventful, a user-generated event marketing site, for a first-of-its-kind "Demand It" campaign in which movie fans could "demand" the movie come to their hometown. If the film got 1 million demands, Paramount promised, the studio would roll out the film nationwide to all the markets that asked for it. The studio reached that lofty goal in less than a week.
After months of public acrimony, Burger King appears to be letting franchisees have it their way. The chain will raise the price of its $1 double cheeseburger, and is working to resolve pending litigation related to a proposed advertising increase. Burger King has been embroiled in two lawsuits with franchisees, one relating to whether the company can set prices -- stemming from the cheeseburger promotion -- and another pertaining to the chain's right to divert rebates from soft-drink companies to boost advertising spending.
The raucous, party-hardy image of rum is not for the rum distillers of Puerto Rico. They are taking another tack in a campaign that is now under way. The campaign, which carries the theme “A reflection of who you are,” has a tone that is intended to be more sophisticated and upscale. The ads are aimed at younger urban professionals who look forward to other parts of the day besides happy hour.
Has Redbox just put itself into a wooden box? The DVD-kiosk chain's agreement with Warner Bros. means Redbox customers won't be able to rent new Warner DVDs until 28 days after their release. That may make sourcing its movies easier. But it also may shorten the Coinstar unit's life expectancy.
We all know the statistic and scratch our heads: The average tenure of a CMO is around two years or less. Why? Usually it takes that long to fully understand the intricacies and true insights of most industries, companies and brands. Repeating an action over and over again anticipating a different outcome is a humorous definition of insanity. So are CEOs and boards insane?
Advertising agency of the future sounds a bit like horse drawn carriage of the future. I’m not saying for certain that there won’t be agencies in the future, only that the future doesn’t necessarily need agencies. Just like the future doesn’t need printed news but it needs journalism; the future needs commercial communications, but who creates them, the agency or the brand or someone else, is unwritten. And though the future of the agency is unwritten, I have real doubts that agencies will survive or should survive.
Social media has matured to the point where marketers are no longer asking whether it should be part of their marketing mix but how and where they should participate. A clear strategy for the channel is now necessary. “The low cost of social media can lull marketers into improvising solutions,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the Insight Brief “Five Reasons Why Marketers Need to Have a Social Media Strategy.” “But taking account of the time spent debating, formulating, managing and executing social media campaigns—not to mention creating content—makes it clear that money is at stake and a well-thought-out plan is needed,” Mr. Verna said.
For those of you who have been following Wikimedia's open strategy initiative on this blog, you'll know that one of the goals of the work has been to strengthen the health of the Wikipedia community of contributors who create and use its online encyclopedias. In a healthy community, contributors feel a sense of affiliation and social bonding, they come from diverse backgrounds and expertise areas required to accomplish the project's expansive work, remain open to differences of perspective and able to resolve disputes respectfully. "Community health" is a hot topic among participants engaged in developing the Wikimedia strategy, both within the broader Wikimedia community and outside it.
Facebook's and AOL's instant-messaging systems now can link together. It's a step forward--but one that also shows how backward Net communications are today. "AIM has teamed up with Facebook, and now you can chat with your Facebook friends--right from AIM!" gushes the AIM beta download site. "After you sign into AIM, click the 'Facebook Connect' button at the top of your buddy list to set up Facebook chat. When you are done your Facebook friends will be added to your buddy list. You can now chat with your friends who are using the Facebook site!" Maybe I should be happier about this than I am. I can't begrudge Facebook's effort to enrich its members communications' options through its 2008 launch of instant messaging, but I also can't help feeling this is a case of a new-era Internet company making the same missteps as its dot-com 1.0 predecessors.
Strong soda sales in developing economies such as Brazil and India pushed Coca-Cola Co.'s fourth-quarter profit up 55%, but tepid consumer spending continued to pressure its business in North America. The company's earnings reflect a trend reported by other consumer-product makers in recent weeks: Consumer spending has generally bounced back in fast-growing markets in Asia and Latin America, but has yet to make a comeback in the U.S.
If you're a marketer who has steered clear of Twitter, your (non)strategy may be paying off! It's possible that this Twitter thing may just take care of itself. In the middle of last year, Twitter's growth slowed from 7.8 million new users a month to 6.2 million, according to a recent study from RJ Metrics. That report also found that only 17 percent of Twitter users updated their accounts in December -- an all-time low. An earlier study by the Nielsen Co. revealed 60 percent of Twitter users do not return from one month to the next. Taking that into account, it's tempting to conclude that Twitter is following in the footsteps of another social-media ghost town, Second Life.
Several years ago, my colleague Dave Ulrich and I looked at how leaders build value by building employee confidence in the future. Our findings bear revisiting as companies begin to emerge after the devastation of the last 18 months and work to create new value.
Does $3 million for one 30-second spot sound like a lot of money to promote your brand during this year’s Super Bowl? Well, if you cram two of your products into one ad, like Diamond Foods is planning, then it’s only $1.5 million per brand.
There’s been a fair amount of coverage recently about the ins and outs, good and evil, usefulness and rudeness of customer rating and reviews sites. No matter how you feel about these social recommendation sites, if you own a small business of any kind, it’s time to get serious about figuring out and playing the game.
Agencies and clients alike often talk about “viral marketing” as if it’s something we choose to create. We describe viral as if it’s an inherent quality we can design into our campaigns, or a deliberate strategy we can execute on. But for the handful of “viral campaigns” that explode into cultural phenomena each year, hundreds of other efforts have little or no impact at all. In spite of this, we often continue to insist that we know how to “make things viral,” while also reassuring ourselves that some efforts “just catch on better than others.” Unless we want to spend another year burning time and resources in the pursuit of that belief, it’s time to accept a difficult truth: viral isn’t a quality that we, as marketers, have the power to bestow. In fact, viral isn’t an inherent trait that advertising can have at all. Viral isn’t what a marketing campaign is, but how that campaign spreads. And when a campaign does achieve viral propagation, it’s not simply a function of what we do as designers and planners. Instead, it’s a function of deliberate choices that each consumer makes about what is worth sharing and why.
We’ve all experienced it. Perhaps you’ve even felt it yourself. You learn of a new marketing tactic – and you just gotta have it… you gotta do it. Your factory needs to be on Facebook. Your team needs to tweet. Alas, sometimes love can be blinding. While your passion may be genuine, there are two things you could be forgetting…
It seems like everything I read about the reduction in price of Superbowl Ads blames the economy. But, could it be there is something bigger going on here? As we move from an economy based on scarcity (Superbowl ads are the very definition of a scarce commodity) to one based on abundance there other ways to have a more powerful and long lasting relationship at a reduced cost emerge.
When our clients ask me whether an in-language Internet program is necessary to the success of their Spanish-language advertising campaign, I ask them if their marketing goals long- or short-term. If a client's goal is short-term testing of a product or service, an in-language Internet program is nice to have but not necessary, but if a client has long-term marketing goals that aim to build loyalty among Spanish-speaking consumers, then an active digital campaign is essential.
Foreign car makers are marketing their vehicles more aggressively in the U.S., and are making the Super Bowl a high-profile part of their strategies for wresting market share from American rivals. On Feb. 7, tens of millions of football fans will see about a half-dozen auto commercials from at least four overseas manufacturers flicker across their TV screens during the big game. Last year, three auto makers, advertised on the Super Bowl broadcast.
The New York Times will begin charging for online access to its website by 2011, reversing the prevailing policy among general news brands to give away their best work for free. The publisher of the International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe and the namesake daily newspaper will adopt a metered model, similar to a system used by the Financial Times, that will offer a set number of articles for free monthly and begin charging readers after they exceed the limit.
By almost any measure, Google is an extraordinary success -- except when it comes to traditional media. After launching ambitious plays to digitize the radio and print businesses in recent years, the search giant eventually bailed on them. Now, several media executives are wondering about the company’s long-term commitment to its fledgling Google TV business. “I think 2010 is a make-or-break year for Google TV,” said Tracey Scheppach, senior vp/director of video innovation for SMG. “A lot of people are wondering what role it will ultimately play for Google -- big, small or not at all.”
Right before the holidays, MarketingSherpa released its “2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report.” The report indicated that “improving brand or product reputation” and “increasing brand or product awareness” did not rank highly in the list of social media objectives targeted and measured by U.S. marketers. This confirms my own findings that companies are overlooking the importance of using social media tools for strategic, proactive brand-building.
What Makes Your Advocates Feel Like Rockstars? Lavishing them with freebies? Flying them all over the country? Throwing monthly parties for them? Maybe for a while. But not only is that not sustainable, it’s not good business, either. So here are some simple ways to engage with your fans and make them feel like the rockstars that they are.
A recent Business Week article, “Zappos Retails its Culture” offered a tantalizing proposition. After all, if an entrepreneur creates a successful business, why not sell the concept to other entrepreneurs interested in starting up new ventures? So thought Tony Hsieh, Zappos Chief Executive. So, beginning last summer, Zappos began offering two day seminars at $4,000 a pop to share the successful Internet retailer’s recipe for recreating “the essence of its corporate culture”. Now, there are plans to offer these seminars once per quarter in 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.
Ford is first off the blocks in 2010 with its clinching of both car and truck of the year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The company won top honors for its hybrid Fusion and Transit Connect wagon. This year, Ford launches two critical vehicles that articulate in sheet metal CEO Alan Mulally's "One Ford" strategy of developing global automobiles, rather than distinct cars and trucks for distinct markets. On Monday, Ford did a live chat from Detroit with Jim Farley, group VP of marketing at the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker. He fielded questions about how the company will use social media and the company's One Ford plan, and of course, the vehicles. He said the key to Ford's One Ford idea is, at its simplest, one car across the world.
Though Google’s social strategy has been catch-up at best to date, the company does have a master plan — at least according to engineering director David Glazer, whom I spoke with last week at Google HQ. He said across a variety of products, Google wants to make it valuable and easy to harness social information. In 2010, Google plans to expose and elicit more of the social network built into the tools that many of us already use — Gmail, Google Talk, etc. If you use Google products, the company already knows who your most important contacts are, what your core interests are, and where your default locations are. Glazer said to expect many product and feature launches that start to connect that information in useful ways.
Keeping quiet works when operating elite hedge funds, but it's usually not a great strategy when running a retailer. For the past six months, Sears Holdings Corp. has been operating an online marketplace that allows third-party vendors to sell goods on its Web site. But few consumers knew about it. Sears waited until Thursday to unveil "Marketplace at Sears.com," disclosing that its Web site carries more than 10 million products, including furniture, art, cosmetics, appliances, sporting goods and shoes. Perhaps Sears could learn a lesson from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which at the start of this decade also shunned the spotlight, but changed its strategy after too much bad publicity. Now, Wal-Mart goes out of its way to be heard, even as it spends relatively little on advertising.
I think you’ll probably agree that a lot of our current marketing theory is based upon the almost invisible assumption that thought precedes action. This made sense in an era when marketing was limited to generating thoughts, but when we can build digital and physical experiences, thought is often a barrier to action. Things are often more complicated to explain than they are to do, and thinking about something too much is often paralysing.
Still struggling after its worst recession in generations, Japan announced a long-term growth strategy Wednesday that seeks to tap into the dynamism of its Asian neighbors, create millions of jobs in new industries and fuel economic expansion of at least 2 percent a year over the next decade.
As a relatively subdued last-minute rush brought pre-Christmas shopping to a close, retailers were hoping to entice procrastinating consumers to keep on buying through the holiday and after. More retailers planned Internet sales on Christmas Day this year in an attempt to cash in on the growth of e-commerce, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster holiday shopping season. Shoppers and stores have engaged in a tug-of-war this year, as consumers postponed shopping in hopes of deep discounts and retailers tried to preserve their profit margins, offering limited deals designed to drive traffic into stores.
They used to be polar opposites. One was the epitome of 20th century business; the other, the textbook example of a better kind of business. By mass-producing, mass-marketing, and relentlessly hard-selling sugar water to kids and the poor, Coca-Cola rose to global prominence and market dominance: thin, artificial value had little better example. But Google's rise was powered by exactly the opposite: building a more meaningful media marketplace, that created authentic value for all. That was yesterday. Today, Google is the new Coke.
Target Corp., the retailer expanding in U.S. cities, opened so-called pop-up stores in three urban centers to generate holiday-season sales and publicity. The second-biggest U.S. discount chain is running Target To-Gos in New York, San Francisco and Washington today through Dec. 13. The temporary stores offer 50 products, including 99- cent Christmas tree ornaments, Sony Corp.’s PSP Go handheld video-game player for $249.99 and pieces from Target’s Rodarte fashion line that won’t be available nationwide until Dec. 20.
Until now, executives have focused on two forms of strategic advantage: structural and capability-based. The Big Shift challenges both. It undermines traditional approaches to structural advantage by systematically reducing barriers to entry and movement. Static capabilities are also increasingly vulnerable - they represent knowledge stocks that depreciate at an accelerating rate. Unless they are rapidly refreshed by knowledge flows, these capabilities rapidly lose their power to differentiate. The findings from our recently released 2009 Shift Index provide graphic evidence on these points. Our analysis shows a sustained and significant deterioration in ROA for all public companies in the US since 1965 - ROA declined by over 75% during this period.
Fast Company reports that a new book by Warren Berger, Glimmer, poses that basic design strategies can be adapted to everyday issues – at global, social, business and even personal levels. The book’s title captures that moment when one arrives at a new solution to an old problem, and strives to learn how designers solve everyday problems and create alternative solutions.
All the incessant chanting of new media's Greek chorus notwithstanding, 2009 revealed two emergent facts about the promise of social media: first, it's not really "social," and second, "media" is its least important quality. Instead, the opportunities it presents arise from what goes into it, and what comes out of it. Ignoring these inputs and outputs are its downside, too.
Microsoft Windows 7's launch video was a viral smash. And while some believed it was because people thought "HostingYourParty" was a riotously bad -- Microsoft is enjoying the last laugh. Still, despite the negative attention directed at the instructional video, which was intended for people hosting Windows 7 "house parties," the tech giant managed to reach a lot of consumers. In fact, from Oct. 22-29, more than 800,000 people attended more than 10,000 parties in 12 countries hosted by Windows 7.
General business strategy dictates that there are two ways a business responds to a dramatic downturn in consumer spending. They cut costs and/or discount heavily to drive traffic and lure beaten consumers out of their malaise. Both approaches are easy levers to pull because they have a salient short-term impact. The rub lies in not knowing what the long-term impact of these short-term decisions will be. While the long-term implications of cost-cutting is an article in itself, today many retailers find that their most immediate issue is working their way back out of discount-driven brand-price erosion.
Collaborative design methods play a key role in aligning team members towards a shared and strategic project vision. In this article we describe how user stories stimulate and facilitate discussion and decision making with clients in the development of a User Experience Strategy. In our context (the development of online projects) the User Experience Strategy becomes an ‘in principle agreement’ on the shape of the project (what), its purpose (why), and provides potential implementation strategies (how). It takes into account all perspectives (e.g business, technical, marketing, brand) but privileges the intended user experience.
Get a bunch of longtime chief marketing officers in a room and you'll hear one thing for certain: lots and lots of questions about staying power. The Association of National Advertisers CMO Roundtable this past weekend was no exception. The group, comprised of Best Buy's Barry Judge, General Mills' Mark Addicks, Con Agra's Joan Chow and Fidelity Investment's Jim Speros, underscored the importance of transparency, relationship building and making sure you're right for the job in the first place.
A group of 1,200 marketing and advertising executives at the 99th annual conference of the Association of National Advertisers in Phoenix are anxious about the economy--but many see opportunity as they look toward 2010. Executives from Walmart ( WMT - news - people ), McDonald's ( MCD - news - people ) and MillerCoors on Friday spoke about how their companies, which sell "value" products, have profited from the recession and changes in their businesses. The takeaway message from these executives: Don't be too distracted by fads and trends--stay focused on customers and the brand basics.
Every day, there's a barrage of numbers from ComScore, Forrester and others that quantifies our enthusiasm for consuming all things digital. But we're in danger of overlooking three Nielsen metrics that are downright frightening and point to a staggering digital attention deficit. The first: The average American visited 87 domains in September. The second: He or she browsed 2,645 web pages that month. And the third: All of 57 seconds is the average time he or she spent per page.
When Angie Vieira Barocas joined Six Flags nearly four years ago, her challenge was to rebuild the brand with a new team, stimulate renewed excitement and drive attendance. Of course, when she joined Six Flags in January 2006, the company, which that year shifted its corporate headquarters from Oklahoma to New York under new ownership by parent Six Flags Inc., hadn't yet filed for bankruptcy. When it did so this past June, saddled with more than $2 billion in debt that it was unable to refinance, Ms. Vieira Barocas' job took on new complexity.
There's constant pressure in business to make things as efficient as possible. In every project, the fat is trimmed, the edges are sanded, and the processes are streamlined. It’s how you bring scale to ideas. It’s how you improve margins over time. But far too often, the uniqueness of an idea gets lost in all the efficiency. I was reminded of this recently when evaluating a couple different bottle designs. One was incredibly unique and differentiated, but inefficient all the way through the supply chain to the retail shelf. Another was über-efficient, but, not surprisingly, too close to the rest of the category.
Apple, once untouchable in terms of marketing, has gotten a little roughed up lately. For much of the decade, Apple got away with bashing longtime adversary Microsoft without repercussions. Apple also dominated the MP3 player category without a serious rival. But now, as Microsoft has reinvigorated its marketing and it navigates into the phone handset category, suddenly everyone is bashing Apple.
Think about all the brands you interacted with today. Nearly everything you have done so far today involved a brand, was enabled by a brand or was accompanied by a brand. These interactions are just one of many touchpoints with a specific brand. Touchpoints, or touches for short, work in a way similar to that of how blood flows through our bodies. Your heart pumps blood through your body, providing it with the oxygen and nutrients it needs, but the heart alone isn’t solely responsible for enabling a steady, healthy heartbeat. Every vein, artery and vessel has an impact on your heartbeat. No matter how small a constricted vein may be, it has an impact on the flow of blood.
Have you noticed that most conversations about branding inevitably include references to Harley-Davidson and Apple? Sprinkle in mentions of Coke, Facebook, and Zappos, and you get the context of every agency pitch for more spending on brand engagement, loyalty, or whatever else these examples might suggest. I suggest you ban these references from your next conversation. Forget about them altogether.
The important question during a downturn is not whether or not the economy will recover -- it will; it always does. What's important to ask is whether your company will be in position to surge as the economy begins to grow. To a large degree, the level of your success will depend on your marketing efforts and capabilities -- what you have done during the downturn and what you put in place now to win business during the recovery. You will need to make strategic decisions about choosing new media, entering new markets, and positioning products.
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.
Last Sunday’s New York Times included a piece, “At MoMA, ‘Permanent’ Learns to Be Flexible.” It outlined how the museum’s new chief curator of painting and sculpture, Ann Temkin, is challenging the rules of museum display. In the piece, I found some instructive parallels for struggling retailers. If the idea of retailers learning from museums sounds familiar, it may be because earlier this year I wrote a post recommending that retailers follow in the footsteps of three museums’ attempts to reinvigorate visitor and donor interest. I believe retailers and museums experience some of the challenges:
As Coco Chanel once remarked, "Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury." These words ring true in today's lackluster global luxury market and business environment. As we shift from recession into recovery mode, it is important for marketers to take a step back and evaluate what worked and what failed for luxury marketers during this economic crisis. With recognized brands, such as Versace, shuttering stores around the world, LVMH sales plummeting 20% in the first half of the year and the luxury car market struggling to stay above water, branding and how we build and communicate luxury brands, will become even more relevant as we move into 2010 and beyond.
A recession seems like a funny time to move your product mix upscale, but Kimberly-Clark Corp. has been doing just that of late, focusing more on premium and super-premium offerings and brands such as Cottonelle, Viva and Huggies Pure and Natural, while watching distribution of its Scott value brand shrink. It's a bold strategy to zag upscale as most of the market, including archrival Procter & Gamble Co., have been zigging more toward value products and private-label sales have been rising.
If you run a business or are in charge of marketing one, you know that your Web site is often the first interaction a potential customer has with your brand. For many of today's businesses, particularly those in the digital media and technology space, Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) have become the primary point of customer interaction. With online experiences contributing so heavily to how people feel about brands, an effective union of user experience design and brand strategy has become critical to sustaining business success.
Victors & Spoils launched today, touting itself as the “world’s first creative (ad) agency built on crowdsourcing principles.” The agency’s crowdsourced approach stems from identifying the need for companies, brands and agencies to be radically transparent, to address the consumer’s demand to be more involved and from a growing cost consciousness regarding clients’ budgets. Recognizing that the crowdsourcing paradigm can feel a bit unruly for most clients, Victors & Spoils will face the daunting challenge of identifying an array of possible crowdsourced solutions and keeping them on-strategy for their clients.
Innovation is the lifeblood of consumer product companies. It has pushed design to higher levels and resulted in making life better, more convenient, safer; it continually adds value to products. Without it, brands max out the sales potential of existing products. They risk becoming stale and passé over time. Unless innovative products are constantly in the pipeline, brands run the risk of being upstaged by competitors, as well. However, there are times when the push for constant innovation can lead consumer product companies astray. Some well-planned, well-executed ideas have been a bust in spite of, or rather because of the fact they represented some kind of innovation.
Microsoft Corporation regularly asks PC users for feedback about its products. But after the debacle with Vista, the operating system nobody liked, the company and its advertising agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, realized that the concept of consumers as an intrinsic part of the development process could be an effective selling point for the Vista replacement, Windows 7. And so was born a campaign, getting under way on Thursday in six countries, carrying the theme “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea.”
For most retail stores, staying in business for only a few days would be considered a major flop. But a growing number of merchants are opening shops and abruptly shutting them down soon after -- on purpose. These quickie retail operations -- known as pop-ups -- are showing up throughout Southern California and around the nation, filling in the gaps at recession-battered shopping centers for a fraction of the regular rents. Once limited to seasonal shops and dusty liquidation centers, pop-up stores are now being opened by some of the nation's biggest retailers.
Following the upheaval in the financial services sector, many marketers have forfeited breakthrough communications in favor of safety and stability. Who can blame them? With the market down significantly from its 2007 highs, an estimated $1 trillion+ in motion, and nearly every conventional wisdom about investing thrown into question, marketers are understandably concerned that their existing strategies and tools won't be enough to meet the demands of today's rapidly evolving marketplace. In addition, key success factors are not getting the attention they deserve -- ideas that may ultimately prove as important for a financial services company's marketing effectiveness as cash is to the balance sheet. Here are 10 tips marketers should stock up on.
The basic elements of a brand's visual language--type, color, photographic/illustration style and layout also establish a filter for making decisions on how to best "speak" from the heart. If all the basics are in sync, it will make choices like story, set design, talent, wardrobe, physical space, dialog and tone of voice easy to make.
It's an increasingly common dilemma for CMOs with brands in the middle or top end of the market. Should you tackle the threat head-on and reduce existing prices on your premium brand, knowing it will reduce profits and potentially damage brand equity? Or should you maintain prices, hope for better times to return, and in the meantime lose sales from customers and support from your CEO? With both of these alternatives often proving equally unpalatable, many marketers have decided on a third option: launching a fighter brand.
Achieving and sustaining top ranking visibility for your brand on important organic terms is increasingly getting tougher. This is because natural text listings no longer rule on the search result page. There are many other elements that appear sometimes ahead of or intertwined with the natural results, including local listings with a map, shopping listings, latest news, top blogs, images, videos and even book reviews can appear. Google calls these mixed result types Universal search; others call it blended search. These other elements can push what were once top performing organic listings into second or third page positions.
From Domino’s sandwich launch and in-your-face ad campaign to Quiznos attacking at every price point, Subway has had more than its share of competition this year. However, the chain continues to see gains on top of the double-digit growth it experienced last year. Sales may be coming in $5 as a time, but that’s the way Subway wants it. The $5 footlong has given the chain a weapon to battle the recession—one that competitors continue to search for an answer to combat. CEO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust Jeff Moody sat down with Brandweek to discuss the competition, the economy and the chain’s plans for future growth.
Duane Reade this week introduced an exclusive line of food and beverage products dubbed DR Delish. The line currently includes 25 products, such as baked potato crisps and raisin oatmeal cookies. The drugstore chain, which has 256 locations in metropolitan New York, expects the total number of offerings to grow to 100 or more by Christmas. The move is part of Duane Reade’s overall strategy to spruce up its image. The 50-year-old drugstore chain recently debuted an outdoor campaign, via privately held agency DeVito/Verdi, with the tagline: “Your City. Your Drugstore.” To date, Duane Reade has either “completely rebuilt or remodeled” 30 of its 256 locations—to include pre-packaged foods like sandwiches and salads, and more improvements are coming, said acting chief marketing officer Joe Jackman. Although bold, marketing strides like these are contemporizing and keeping the Duane Reade brand top-of-mind among consumers, and so far, the feedback has been positive, Jackman told Brandweek.
I've been thinking a lot about poop lately, and not just because I have two young kids. In particular, I've been pondering that clichéd philosophical question: If a bear poops in the woods and nobody's around, does it still stink? Recently, DoSomething.org hosted what I'd normally consider a successful party. The event raised half a million dollars. We honored five amazing youths for doing amazing things, from building an orphanage in Nepal to registering thousands of new voters. Our red carpet at Harlem's Apollo Theater was packed with celebs, and performers including Boys Like Girls and Akon -- who crowdsurfed -- rocked the place. The 1,600 people there were floored. But did anybody else smell what we were cooking? Nope.
Toyota Motor Corp. is preparing a $1 billion marketing blitz to juice U.S. sales in the fourth quarter and plans to expand its line of gas-electric hybrid models under the Prius name, people briefed on the plans said. The strategy, aimed at revitalizing its key North American operations, was laid out by Toyota President Akio Toyoda and his top U.S. lieutenants at a meeting in Las Vegas with the company's U.S. dealers. The world's largest auto maker needs to turn around its North American business after acknowledging it expects to report a loss in its current fiscal year, which would be its second annual deficit in a row. Toyota executives vowed to go "pedal to the metal" in the fourth quarter, using financial strength to drive sales as the U.S. economy appears to be recovering, these people said.
Publishing “top 10″ lists is unfortunately a staple of modern journalism. But alas, writers must drive readers’ eyeballs, even when discussing serious topics like the government. And so we find a new list that mixes Web 2.0 with the government: “Top 10 agencies with the most Facebook fans.” For the record, this list is topped by the White House with 327,592 fans, followed by the Marine Corps, Army, CDC, State Department, NASA, NASA JPL, Library of Congress, Air Force, and Environmental Protection Agency. Congratulations to all these hard-working agencies. But what exactly are we celebrating here?
If you haven't heard, the Crocs brand is in deep trouble. This is a brand that seemed headed for extinction, but like their namesake, have proven that with the help of a little strategic naming they are a brand that can endure the toughest of times. Recent "business improvements" have given Crocs a chance to actually pull itself into the black by 2010.
Are you more loyal to brands than you were 10 years ago? Are there any businesses that provide such a great product or service that you would never price-shop, and you'll declare your brand loyalty across your social networks? My guess is that you and your customers are much less loyal than you were in the '90s.
March Madness lasts only three weeks, but Metric Madness goes on all year long. What is Metric Madness? It's the notion you can run anything by the numbers, and it's become the hottest concept in business today.
Study everything the iPod's rivals did. Then do the exact opposite.
How Big Blue is forging cutting-edge partnerships around the world.
The phrase "As seen on TV" might bring to mind Snuggie, ShamWow and PedEgg but probably not a venerable American brand that invites you to share the most important moments of your life. Yet for Kodak, direct-response TV has become an effective and preferred way to reach consumers in the year and a half that the company has used it.
Street fashion designer Rick Klotz has announced that he's going to forsake any brand logos or names on his Freshjive products next year. Is it an anti-branding move, or something more? I say something more.
In 2005 Fortune magazine published a piece by Adam Lashinsky called Burning Sensation, which described the threat craigslist posed to newspapers. But it didn’t ignore the threat that other tech companies posed to craigslist: “Even as Craigslist flexes its considerable muscles, the disruptor is facing the challenge of disruption… eBay has started Kijiji, a classified business for non-U.S. markets that can only be described as Craigslist-like. Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen is behind a company called Ning, whose software includes an application called Anytown Marketplace that can build online classified sites. The biggest threat, as usual, is Google. It has introduced Google Base, where users can upload anything — e.g., “49ers tickets for sale” — into its searchable database… Google’s technological prowess — and money — mean it can add features in weeks that Craigslist has contemplated for years.” Three years later the story was still the same.
According to David Aaker, today's CMO may wear up to five potential hats: facilitator, consultant, service provider, strategic partner, strategic captain. "The CMO and the central marketing group can assume a spectrum of roles," says Aaker, author of Spanning Silos: The New CMO Imperative. "The roles of the CMO can and often will vary with the activity and the silo, and additionally, will evolve over time."
InterContinental Hotels Group earlier this summer announced the opening of its 1,000th relaunched Holiday Inn hotel: the Holiday Inn Express New York Times Square. The opening was part of an overall $1 billion relaunch of more than 3,200 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels worldwide, as well as the opening of another 1,050 hotels featuring the new branding over the next few years, with the completion of the global relaunch set for 2010.
Green consumers are more concerned about saving money than saving the planet, according to new research from advertising agency the Shelton Group. The study found that while 59 percent of green consumers identify the economy as their top concern in making purchases, a mere 8 percent consider the environment.
On Monday, Sept. 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers imploded, the world tilted and all the Fiji Artesian water came tumbling off the table, crashing along with the stock market. Suddenly the conspicuous consumer became the conspicuous coupon clipper. Bad if you own a Hummer dealership. Good if you own a real value proposition.
When A.G. Lafley was named CEO of Procter & Gamble during the summer of 2000, the task of turning the organization around looked overwhelming. The price of a share in the consumer packaged goods giant had declined by nearly 55% in just two months. The company was missing revenue and profit targets as it learned to grapple with the Internet and new global competitors. To remain the world's preeminent maker of useful stuff for the house, P&G needed to make a lot of changes very quickly. Lafley saw design as being central to P&G's transformation. Design promised to unleash the creativity of the organization and find new ways to unlock value that a marketing-driven company might not have discovered.
I was talking with a few executives from one of the biggest technology companies in Europe, and they were explaining how their hands were tied in moving forward on the internet. They were doing the best they could under the circumstances, of course, but there were units in their organization that needed to be protected, prices that needed to be supported, sacred cows that couldn't be touched. After all, they argued, how could they wipe out their current business just to succeed online?
As a company, Whole Foods has impressively embraced social media more than most, gathering over 1.2 million followers on Twitter and 123,000 fans on Facebook in the process. While it is easy to understand why a relatively young company or one started by a tech-savvy founder would so completely embrace social media communication tools, it is quite a bit more remarkable for an almost 30 year old established brick and mortar company with roughly 50,000 employees and over 270 stores worldwide to have done so.
Yahoo! may have thrown in the towel on the business of searching for information online. But the company is doubling down on a technology where it already has the lead over search king Google: in free e-mail service offered over the Web.
Deciding whether to adopt a customer-centric orientation is a significant decision for organizations, not to be made casually. It results in debates defining customer centricity, often with the question, "How customer-centric do we need to be?" Inevitably, it means organizing around the customer and the further proliferation of the types of marketing needed to do so effectively. The many companies that have embraced a customer-centric orientation have experienced some real and often unexpected challenges. At the center of these challenges is the role of the chief marketing officer -- the person who needs to deliver thought leadership, lead the strategy debate and reorganization, and then integrate the various marketing types into a company-wide, customer-centric orientation.
Up until a year ago, innovation was the toast of the business world. Companies around the world were investing heavily in design, launching new products, and even building virtual retail stores in Second Life. Then the financial crisis erupted, destroying shareholder value, corporate budgets, and family income alike. In the wake of that disaster, it's entirely legitimate to wonder: is innovation relevant anymore?
In a way we are all virtual stock holders in Twitter. We all have a vested interest in its success. Facebook is soon to monopolize the social stream to the same extent that Google has done with search. That is not good for anyone, including Facebook. I have had many discussions with people in recent weeks about the face-off between Twitter and Facebook and also about the high probability of Twitter cutting a deal with Google. When I was asked by Erick Schonfeld at the Real Tiime Stream Crunchup (Video) event about my opinion on Twitter giving Google their firehose feed, I responded that they could do that if they don’t plan to sell their company in the future.
Quick explanation for those not familiar with Facebook Connect. It is a service developed by Facebook that lets Facebook users login into partner sites using their Facebook account and share information with Facebook friends. Basically, a single sign-on authentication solution that websites can use instead of relying on building it for themselves.
Picture this: it's the year 2062 and Mark Zuckerberg, having recently celebrated his 78th birthday, is still, against all odds, running Facebook. The once-invincible social-networking behemoth has seen better days, and financially it's coasting on fumes -- Facebook's 38th round of venture-capital funding is about to run dry -- but no matter. Zuckerberg's still large and in charge, even as competitors eat away at his market share. The problem, of course, is that he never took TCOL -- total consciousness osmotic lifestreaming -- seriously, and now upstarts are using the device-free technology to run circles around Facebook.
It goes without fail, whenever a new product is released from a Gen Y "it" company, my phone rings off the hook. So why are people calling a financial guy when a new product is released? Because these "it" companies market so well that the consumer wants to be an owner ... of the company.
In June, revenues for Marilyn Schlossbach and Scott Szegeski's four New Jersey restaurants shrank by 40% from a year ago. The recession was partly to blame, but so was another culprit: rain.
Beleaguered insurer AIG is renaming its property-casualty and general insurance business "Chartis," which it derived from the Greek word for map. It is giving Chartis a compass logo, which AIG, which began the rebranding effort last month, hopes will represent the franchise's approach to "navigating changing marketplaces and complex risks worldwide."
"I promise." It's a simple statement. One uttered by children trying to convince their parents that they will be good, by husband and wife on their wedding day (and every week on trash day). A promise builds a strong emotional connection between two people. They are simple words, but when spoken from the heart (and delivered on), they form the foundation for meaningful relationships--and consumer experiences.
In an era when marketing strategies seem more complicated than ever before, author Jonathan Cahill is selling simplicity. And he backs it up with 115 case studies. Prior to opening his own London firm, Spring Marketing Innovation and Research, Cahill spent 30 years as an ad man with major agencies in the UK and Italy. His recently published book is entitled "Igniting the Brand: Strategies That Have Shot Brands to Success." And one of his conclusions is that marketers and their agencies are trying so hard to devise strategies that they often look right past simple truths.
I am an early adopter of social media and set up my listening post 5 years ago to scan for people, trends, and ideas related to social media and nonprofits. Listening and engaging with people has been critical to any success I’ve achieved as a social media practitioner – whether I’m blogging or fundraising for Cambodian children. For the past five years, I’ve been teaching social media workshops for nonprofits and lately doing deeper dives on the techniques of listening both for nonprofits and in my role as Visiting Scholar in Residence at the Packard Foundation. This is a four-part series about listening for nonprofit organizations summarizes the insights I’ve learned about listening.
India's Tata Group has made innovation part of its DNA, setting up a way for handling new ideas and making creative thinking a performance criterion.
Put down your guard. It’s about people, not logos. These are the two primary tenets of effective social media. In practice, executing on them requires that you communicate with your customers and prospects across a variety of social media outposts, with significant frequency.
With market uncertainty, rampant budget cutting and corporate retrenching, it's safe to say most businesses are content to lay low, stick with the status quo, and go with what they know works. Bold initiatives? Let's save 'em for when the going's really good. Once things turn around, we'll turn our brains back on. Till then, automatic pilot is just fine, thank you very much. Once our balance sheets return to black, that's when we'll once again let our freak flag fly. In other words, most companies are going to be content to focus on tactics aimed at defending market share. Nonsense. Now is the THE perfect time for big ideas.
Barack Obama’s ubiquitous appearances as professor-in-chief, preacher-in-chief, father-in-chief, may turn out to be the most salient feature of his presidency.
General Motors’ new advertising and marketing czar is Bob Lutz, who until April of this year headed global product development. According to CEO Fritz Henderson: “Bob’s responsibilities beyond creative design will include brands, marketing, advertising and communications.” (I can visualize Bob at his first meeting with one of GM’s agencies: “I’m not a marketing expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”)
Historically, marketing has been departmentalized in corporations and positioned as a college major. With the advent of social media and our current economic situation, marketing has become a topic that everyone should—and can—care about and have expertise in. Now anyone with an Internet connection and some ambition can develop their own marketing platform, which can be harnessed for both career and financial success.
Community marketing strategies are now common. Years of research have demonstrated that transforming customers into community members yields higher repeat purchase, greater loyalty and stronger brand advocacy. This, in turn, creates a virtuous cycle of greater brand authenticity, increased marketing efficiency and the ability to reinvest marketing dollars in building the community.
Knob Creek bourbon has announced that it may run out of stock yet this summer, and that thirsty customers will have to wait until the next batch arrives on store shelves in November. I think this is brilliant, old-school marketing. One of the most important brand attributes of successful products and services is success; consumers want to know that other consumers want stuff, and sales is a qualifier that goes far beyond conversation as proof of that interest.
Facebook continues to make a series of evolutionary moves in recent months, rather than react to the news, let’s take a holistic look at where the company is headed. I’ve given my perspective to SFGate, now but want to dive into details here. I’ll give my perspective, but as we’ve seen time and time before, the real value is the collective contributions in the comments.
Sure, 2009 has been tough so far, with most trend lines pointing way, way down. But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Here at Ad Age, we decided to find some media properties that are actually moving the needle northward this year to see what's working in these difficult times. So what is working? First up, great, must-have editorial and entertainment is a common thread. Know your audience. Help marketers tailor ads for that audience. And constantly revamp a trusted brand to stay relevant and indispensable. Easy, right?
When it comes to this recession, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says it best: "Maybe we should think of today as normal ... as opposed [to] today as the tough times, and yesterday as normal." The pre-2007 economy is gone for years, and some elements might be gone for good. And that means that marketers must adapt to four new, here-to-stay realities.
General Motors Co. doesn't appear to be learning from its mistakes: The trimmed-down, "new" GM still looks a lot like the old one, with too many vehicle brands and too many overlapping U.S. models.
There are as many opinions about what got us into economic trouble as there are pundits in the world. Most blame the economic debacle on Wall Street, poor regulatory oversight or aggressive no-money-down mortgage lenders. However, what remains overlooked in the financial blame game is not a particular of "who," but "what."
Having powered its way to the top in U.S. retailing, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has struggled to extend its dominance across the globe. But the world's largest retailer is learning in Brazil and elsewhere that the most successful ideas don't necessarily flow from its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. That has it tailoring inventories and stores to local tastes -- and exporting ideas and products pioneered outside the U.S.
Only two companies, Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser, have figured out how to communicate the importance of brand to the bottom line in their annual reports, according to a survey of these documents from major marketers. The lesson: If marketers want to win the battle for company resources, they must work harder to promote their contribution to the bottom line in annual reports, according to a new global survey by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in the U.K.
Can Chinese companies capitalize on the global recession to better establish and develop their brands overseas? Many Chinese companies will likely invest in American companies (or brands) given the massive decline in asset values in the United States and Europe. But what do we mean when we say "better establish and develop" brands? We are asking whether Chinese corporations have intentions to promote their own brands in foreign markets. And whether any are in a position to compete at a price premium directly against established brands in Europe, America and Japan.
Media companies know that they’re not the only voices in the auditorium –the audience now talks back. They create media, content, and share it directly with each other on social sites —now brands, like Warner seek to embrace them closer. Rather than allow this inevitable social interaction on social networks like MySpace, they want to take it back by launching their own social features.
A company has multiple constituencies when it offers the same product to different market segments. Why is this an important discipline in Marketing? Often times, your direct buyer is not the most important influencer. Children, doctors, relatives and social referential leaders often assume major positions in the purchasing decision. As a result, it is important to understand these indirect customers and influencers and integrate this understanding into marketing strategy.
In a world where the real social media players count their subscribers in the tens or hundreds of millions, Friendfeed hardly moves the needle. Mired at a million or so unique visitors a month and facing the likelihood of being crushed to a fine powder when Google Wave hits the streets, Friendfeed's investors and managers decided to take the first convenient off ramp when Facebook came a-calling. By now you've probably heard the specifics, since practically anyone with a keyboard has been breathlessly tapping away since the deal was made public late Monday: $50 million, most of which will be paid in Facebook stock. A nice payday for Friendfeed's small team (and most likely a relief to the company's investors, who must have known Friendfeed wasn't going anywhere as a solo act). But not a vast sum of money for a company that pays a million dollars a month just the keep the lights on. So why all the attention?
Logos can bring a business glory (Nike) or shame (Tropicana). That's why, before attempting to design a logo for your company or product, you need a clear understanding of exactly what the logo should convey. What is your story? Your selling point, brand attitude, competitive edge, and place in your industry? Do you want to fit in with the market, or do you want to set yourself apart?
Is a college education really like a string quartet? Back in 1966, that was the assertion of economists William Bowen, later president of Princeton, and William Baumol. In a seminal study, Bowen and Baumol used the analogy to show why universities can't easily improve efficiency.
What makes a sports dynasty? How do some teams, like the New England Patriots and Duke basketball, succeed season after season, occasionally failing, but regrouping right away? In business, what enables P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, Toyota and others to stay great while others fall to upstarts?
Starbucks' iconoclastic founder has gone through a reeducation in the rigors of running a more typical company. That doesn't mean he has to like it.
Paragon of Rust Belt manufacturing and an icon since World War II, Zippo wears its American-ness on its sleeve. So does its VP-sales and marketing, Mark Paup, who has spent his entire 15-year career at Zippo and now leads all sales, marketing, design and product development for the Bradford, Pa.-based company. A smoker who rides a Soft Tail Nightrain Harley, you could say Mr. Paup, 44, fits the psychographic of the Zippo consumer.
Are you building a business? Or are you building a brand? Silly questions, you might be thinking. Naturally, you are trying to do both. But that might be a mistake. What's good for the business is not necessarily good for the brand. And vice versa.
Take a deep breath, and repeat after me: "My [business model, product, business unit, brand, offering] has a finite life. I'm going to make that life as happy and productive as possible, but I also have to think about what's next."
If you are involved in creating digital strategy or working with social media from a professional point of view, you are bound to hear the word “influence” bandied about. Maybe you have been asked to work up an influencer outreach program for a new product. Perhaps you are thinking about commissioning an influencer engagement strategy to help you tap into the pot of gold that the social graph represents. Whatever your reasons, consider this first …
Conventional wisdom would have us believe that in a world where Wikipedia is the first port of call for millions of people, an encyclopaedia, such as Britannica, should no longer exist: There is nothing "Blue Ocean" about leather bound books. As far as its competitive position is concerned, it could not be worse: why pay for information when the same information is available for free?
New media creates a blizzard of tactical opportunities for marketers, and many of them cost nothing but time, which means you don't need as much approval and support to launch them. As a result, marketers are like kids at Rita's candy shoppe, gazing at all the pretty opportunities.
Conventional wisdom says that to be successful, our ideas—be they designs, strategies, products, performances, or services—must be concrete, complete, and certain. And when it comes to managing a company big or small, we need organizations to be highly ordered, with a strong and well-defined structure. But what if that’s wrong?
I’m guessing that most of you have already seen this deck that made its way around the Interwebs yesterday but if not, it’s definitely worth a read. It’s another example of why Netflix is so successful – because they haven’t left culture to chance. Additionally it’s also a great example of a favourite theme of mine – operations as marketing. This presentation is catnip for investors because it points to an extremely well run company and a management team who are focused on the right things.
I have always had a deep respect for and synergistic relationship with marketing. I understand the importance of strategic positioning and believe good design is informed design. I love diving deep into the customer demographic, walking a mile in the prospective buyer's shoes, and listening intently to the salesperson's insight. But there is one thing that I find to be not only a waste of time but a buzzkill to the creative process: the focus group.
I got a recommendation from someone to read Martin Lindstrom's book, "Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy." It describes the new neuromarketing sciences exploring how the brain's physical reaction to our thoughts, sensory stimulation or even rituals can evoke brand loyalty or apathy. According to Lindstrom, this new understanding of the biology behind our unconscious mind's ability to make "decisions" faster than our conscious mind represents a "historic meeting between science and marketing. A union of apparent opposites."
The explosion in new media channels, and the increasing ease with which consumers can react to, create content about, and generally discuss brands is challenging even the best marketers. How do you manage your brand in such a chaotic consumer empowered world and ensure that consumers understand your brand equity?
Companies from Boeing to Sepracor are retaining innovation consultants to get a head start on economic recovery
Experts predict a surge in the men's grooming market -- just as they've been doing for the past decade. The men's grooming market is only about one-fifth the size of the women's market, according to Euromonitor. But if the men's market is so dramatically underdeveloped, why has the oft- predicted explosion failed to materialize? Why is it so hard for men's grooming brands to catch a man?
Greetings from the wonderful, if rather wet, city of Shanghai. About seven years ago I signed on with a big multi-national to train its marketing teams here in China. To be honest, when I started running the program I had little idea what to expect. Now, however, many years later, China exerts a strong pull over me.
We live in a conversation driven world. Even if your brand is not an active user of social media, your customers and potential customers are. This is revolutionizing the way brands have to think about themselves and how they choose to compete. In a conversation driven world, the real threat is not conversation itself, but commoditization. Unless customers have reason to talk, they won't. And a brand that generates little or no conversation will be killed by one that does.
In 1999, Whirlpool's (WHR) then-Chief Executive David R. Whitwam set a goal: He wanted the leading maker of big-ticket appliances to be No. 1 in innovation as well. Whitwam's pronouncement kicked off a flurry of ideas. Not all of them were sensible. "There were some wacky ones—bicycles, tennis shoes," recalls Moises Norena, director of global innovation. Whirlpool needed a system to evaluate and screen ideas, advancing promising concepts and culling out those that were better forgotten.
With the recent spate of companies such as United Airways, Domino’s Pizza and Habitat UK, being hit by negative publicity online, one could be forgiven for thinking that social media can be used as a cure-all for such issues. But in fact, social media will only ever be a band-aid for such problems, unless it’s tied into fundamental changes in the way such companies operate.
Its relatively easy with all the tools and metrics available in today's marketing landscape to find yourself lost in the shuffle. Many marketers lose sight of their goals and find it hard to craft strategies that will actually produce results. Even experienced marketers resort to "wait and see" approaches when trying to jumpstart a campaign and then wonder why they are falling short.
"It seems like there is always another social network to join or another tool I'm supposed to learn. How can I keep up?" At every talk I give, somebody asks this question. Here's the answer: you can't.
Umair Haque yet again demonstrates thinking that's pushing the envelope with regards to strategy and economy. Umair's presentation centers around the problem with corporations that generate value by exploiting resources in an unsustainable manner.
If six months from now, "GM ads look the same as they did six months ago," said Bob Lutz, "then somebody really needs to ask, 'Why is Lutz here?'" The 77-year-old vice chairman and chief marketer of General Motors wants to "recapture the attention of the American public" and to achieve that, he told Automotive News, he's looking toward more product-driven advertising in which designers will have a greater hand, and he will rely more on PR and viral marketing.
Quick-serves fight in a hypercompetitive environment. Brands duke it out with surprising new products which seem like punches coming out of nowhere and low blows of heavy discounts or free giveaways—not to mention the pot shots lobbed between dueling sassy advertising campaigns.
Marketing researchers of note, Forrester Research and McKinsey & Company, recently conducted studies on the nature of consumerism today. Their results are important because they point to a shift away from the classic “consumer purchasing funnel.”
A number of dim bulbers emailed me this week to complain that it was dumb for spokesceleb Mike Rowe to add the phrase "why not?" to the end of Ford's tagline "why Ford, why now" in a new TV commercial. I actually don't like the "why now" part.
When it comes building a strong brand that matters to consumers, differentiation is a key in separating your offerings from competitors. But what if you don’t have any competitors? Does brand differentiation matter then?
If your company wants to know the philosophical basis of social media, many resources indicate it rests in the notion that consumers grew tired of advertising and marketing messages all day, every day. They turned to the Internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the access and technology barriers to entry conveniently dropped. There, they found like-minded others to share recommendations and information with.
After months in development, the new product is ready for worldwide launch. The product manager tells the creative team to use a picture of a globe. "But our brand is about what we do for people. Our brand guidelines specify images of humanity," the designer pleads. "I don't care. Use the globe," the product manager demands. Unfortunately, there's always the need to balance business objectives with branding goals. Says the VP of Global Branding for a major commercial information data base company, "It's not that product managers ignore branding. They don't understand how to leverage it."
Yahoo's long nightmare is over, having finally offloaded its search business to Microsoft after years of rumors, negotiations and reversals. Now all it has to do is figure out what comes next. A new era at Yahoo began the minute CEO Carol Bartz signed the paperwork turning over the right to conduct searches on Yahoo's huge network of Web sites to Microsoft in exchange for 88 percent of the revenue generated by Microsoft's Bing. Now Yahoo is first and foremost a media company, in the business of attracting as many people to its properties as possible in hopes of selling lucrative ad deals on those pages.
The global recession has turned cash-hungry Western companies into takeover targets for Chinese marketers, and foreign countries into tempting new markets for Chinese brands and retail stores. Chinese companies haven't been hit to the same extent by the economic crisis as those in the U.S. and other major countries.
Microsoft Corp.'s deal to join forces with Yahoo Inc. in the Internet search and advertising businesses could create a counterweight to the online muscle of Google Inc. It may also help Steve Ballmer end the worst slump in his career at the helm of Microsoft.
Microsoft and Google's increasingly captivating competitive dance took another turn on July 29 with the announcement of a search partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo. The deal could create a viable competitor to Google--or even more enticingly build very different kinds of growth businesses.
I just re-read The Economist's "Future Tense: The Global CMO" survey from late last year. And I'm not encouraged that there's even a future for the job description. The report reflected results from a survey of 250+ senior marketing execs around the world, so it's far more of a snapshot of the present than an insight into what the future might reveal. EIU.com normally studies countries and other substantive subjects; this report was sponsored by Google, which has an obvious interest in what CMOs think they're supposed to be doing.
During the early 1980s, American Express created a marketing campaign to help restore the Statue of Liberty. A penny for each use of the American Express card and a dollar for each new card issued were given to the Statue of Liberty Restoration program. In just four months, $2 million was raised and transaction activity increased by 28% -- proving that doing good could also be good for business.
Once upon a time, there was a talented young girl in PR called Vanessa. Vanessa rocked PR: she wrote like a pro, could spin fabulous yarns and had relationships with masses of journalists and media outlets around the land. And then something scary happened... A big, bad monster called Social Media came to town.
Radio companies, like all media companies, are under more pressure than ever to prove their medium's value to marketers. But when three brands opened up their strategies to radio executives at the Advertising Research Foundation's Audio Council in New York, the industry got an insightful look as to what else marketers are looking for from radio.
Late last week, Starbucks opened a new coffeehouse. Considering they have around 15,000 outlets, this might not seem like news. But there's a wrinkle: the new coffeehouse is called 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea, and is an attempt by SBUX to create a distinct, bespoke, of-the-neighborhood coffeehouse.
Successful businesses are always making choices and sacrifices, strategically looking as to how they are going to prioritize their resources, including human capital, budgets, and, of course, time. As the world around them adapts, so too do they need to make changes internally to respond, or to predict where trends are going – and if they guess right, the business could catapult ahead of less-agile competition.
Those who are seeking social media careers need to remember that social media technologies are secondary to meeting business and customer needs. I’ve been interviewing social media strategists at corporations or their bosses for my upcoming report on social skills needed in brands. I also get emails from hiring managers who are trying to hire folks to develop strategy and manage ongoing social programs at large brands. Lastly, I’ve spoken to social media recruiters who have a very hard time finding qualified candidates. One theme comes across many of these conversations: many candidates are incorrectly positioning themselves.
General Motors' new advertising and marketing czar is Bob Lutz, who until April of this year headed global product development. According to CEO Fritz Henderson: "Bob's responsibilities beyond creative design will include brands, marketing, advertising and communications." (I can visualize Bob at his first meeting with one of GM's agencies: "I'm not a marketing expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.")
Private equity players and corporate buyers are betting they can breathe new life into old brands. In recent months dealmakers have been scooping up once-mighty companies and business units. On July 16 private equity firm Golden Gate Capital Partners paid $286 million for defunct retailer Eddie Bauer.
A recent Nielsen study revealed that people most trust what their friends say about stuff, and that they trust generic online consumer opinions as much as they do branded communications. I think this has more to do with the contextual reality of the expectations than it does with any inherent trustworthiness in a particular communications medium (or lack thereof).
Two items in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye today. Both show us the American corporation as it struggles to divine the mysteries of American culture.
A new role is gaining prominence in the C-suite, as companies increasingly are hiring chief commercial officers to oversee sales, marketing and innovation. That's the finding detailed in a new white paper from executive-search firm Heidrick & Struggles. According to the firm, 56 companies appointed CCOs in 2008, up from just five in 2001. And already in the first half of this year, 36 companies have appointed CCOs.
I just published a post on Triple Pundit that fleshes out the market-facing aspects of a model I’ve been working on with The FairRidge Group. Called the Sustainability Management Maturity Model (SM3), it’s a tool to help businesses assess their readiness to address business sustainability challenges and opportunities. The internal management components were outlined last month on Triple Pundit – Strategy, Organization, Process, Measurement and People – which all relate to an inside-out perspective of the business.
Who is Claude VonStroke? Is Dan Deacon familiar? Perhaps you have heard of Amanda Palmer? Or Erol Alkan? If you are a serious fan of independent music it's likely one or more of these names rings a bell. What might be surprising is the extent to which these four -- and many dozens of independent musicians like them -- can teach both scrappy startup brands and major CPG players how to most effectively make social media work.
One of the most common reason stated by small businesses for not embracing social networking is that they can’t measure or, worse yet, don’t believe there is any solid return on the investment of participation. I get emails almost daily from frustrated marketers who want to dive more fully into social networking, but can’t convince the boss that it’s worth it.
Apple, Louis Vuitton, and SAP represent three very different sectors. But all share one thing in common: Their brands and products were shaped in part by designer and innovation strategist Hartmut Esslinger.
In nearly every conference room across the business landscape it's inevitable that at some point the phrase "social media" enters the discussion. Marketers, PR and salespeople are among the first to engage in the discussions, trying to figure how networks can be leveraged to sell more stuff. But I'd like to propose another way to approach the topic. What if we looked at "social media" as a design problem?
A wise Rabbi once said, "If I am I because you are you. And you are you because I am I. Then I am not I and you are not you." We are not separate. We define each other. We are fronts and backs of each other." In order to describe a particular brand -- what it is -- you must describe its behavior -- what it does. And to describe what it does, you must describe it in relationship to its audience and its audience's behavior (customers, fans, members, et al). Which means that a brand is one, interdependent system of behavior, and not a separate thing.
The Chipotle restaurant chain just announced that it will sponsor free screenings of the newly released documentary film, Food Inc. Kudos to them. There is something very authentic about allowing your brand to become vulnerable in this way. By inviting its customers to see the ugly truth, Chiptole is walking its talk of a responsible and healthy food movement.
Your users, employees, consumers and donors are obsessed with data now. Are you helping them solve their knowledge problem? Years ago, I had an automatic transmission car with a tachometer. Why I needed to know my RPMs when I couldn't do a thing about it is beyond me.
It can enhance both partners—or put a dent in one. Make sure you pick a partner that's a good fit with your company's products, values, and image.
Gene Munster, the analyst with Piper Jaffray, put a report out Thursday looking at the finances of YouTube, and he makes a suggestion that I haven’t seen before: Google should charge a “nominal fee” to people to upload videos to YouTube if the video isn’t appropriate for advertising.
Time and time again I see the discussion about free content, free services, free products, and how they’re going to liberate/destroy/change the current economy, especially when it comes to the Internet. Often, one important point is neglected. When it comes to free, it’s not the price that’s crucial.
Budgets continue to be slashed. Brands are disappearing. Media is getting more fragmented. The only thing getting bigger is our federal deficit. So as a marketer, how do you capitalize on a world that is getting smaller in so many respects?
With all the news coverage today on financial mismanagement, I can tell you from first-hand experience about a company that continues to prosper amid all the chaos. And I think it is worth trying to understand why.
With Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) growing increasingly more popular as Fortune 500 companies "go green" and try to be socially responsible, advertisers and marketers should be aware that the "framing" or presentation of the cause is critical to consumers. People are more willing to purchase products and support causes that have an immediate or short-term benefit to a non-profit than a future or long-term benefit.
In these difficult economic times, chief marketing officers seeking to help their companies grow revenue and remain viable in an unstable market need to pull out all the stops. One often overlooked and underused yet highly effective tool is brand licensing. Brand licensing can help provide some real financial relief during tough times and help marketers replenish and energize their brands, positioning them for even greater success when the economic engine starts whirring again and we start using the word "upturn" instead of "downturn."
Things are changing at a pill-popping rate in today's marketplace. Marketing messages are mushrooming (try saying that three times fast) and people's preferences are changing rapidly, which turns today's peacock into tomorrow's feather duster. And that's really why branding is today's most powerful business concept.
Sailboat races almost always start into the wind. Much like a business strategy, boats are forced to pick a side or stay close to the center of the course by tacking back and forth since it is impossible to sail directly into the wind. The first leg of the race is critical since it quickly separates the good boats from the weaker ones.
Designers at all levels of experience could probably list hundreds of opinions about what makes design successful. After two decades of designing and leading numerous design teams I have quite a few myself. But I've filtered them down to seven core perspectives I like to call ASTRO Theory.
Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, is on the top of my to-read list. Based on BusinessWeek’s review, it sounds like a provocative read about the how economy and technology have evolved the concept of Free.
I spent many years of my career in the hospitality business and the first rule of thumb when dealing with customers was, “if a guest had a positive experience, they’ll tell 3 people and if they had a negative experience, they’ll tell 10.” That same idea holds true in the new media world, except the numbers have grown exponentially. Instead of it being 3 people – it’s 3,000, or instead of 10 – it’s perhaps 100,000. The numbers aren’t meant to scare you. But what should you do when something goes wrong?
The announcement of Google's Chrome OS plan puts an exclamation point on the challenge faced by Microsoft, but actually doesn't really change the core threat to Microsoft. In short, Google is aiming to render desktop software irrelevant. To thwart them, Microsoft needs Windows to do things that a browser can't--or do the same things significantly better.
Engagement is the buzzword of choice when social media experts get together to pontificate. And while I agree that engagement, and ultimately action, is the payoff of social media, few social media experts talk about how it’s really created. Engagement is not really created by being a nice, genuine, caring and attentive sort of chap on twitter. It’s hard to create much momentum in any kind of social network without some of those qualities, but true engagement, engagement that leads to customers and partners, is created with content. Or, perhaps more accurately, engagement is created with engaging content.
As Twitter moves into the business mainstream -- nearing some 35 million unique global visitors, according to ComScore -- it's increasingly clear that one community has yet to fully embrace the social-networking tool du jour: agencies.
A paper recently published in the Journal of Marketing reassesses the conventional wisdom that women are more loyal customers than men. In fact, the study finds, women are more loyal than men to individual service providers, like hairdressers. But men exhibit more loyalty to groups and companies, like barbershops.
The basic concept of some products predicts failure. Not because they don’t work, but because they don’t make sense. Consider Mennen’s vitamin E deodorant. That’s right, you sprayed a vitamin under your arm. It doesn’t make sense unless you want the healthiest, best-fed armpits in the nation. It quickly failed.
Recent news stories about Social Media being bigger than email as well as the recent beta release of Google Wave have made marketers rethink their email strategies, but should we really be moving our email efforts to social media? And if not, should they be kept apart, or can they truly work in unison?
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.
In a previous era, all the talk was of strategy, strategy, strategy. More recently, it's been innovation, innovation, innovation. As design thinking seems poised to sweep away some of today's celebrated innovation practices, we must be wondering what new provocation is on the horizon. Relax, I'm not planning to conjure one up.
Essentially, experts are purporting the use of new tools and not necessarily connecting businesses to their customers and influencers where and how they congregate and interact.
I’m sure you’ve heard the definition of madness: Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. But have you heard of the "First Rule of Holes?” When you’re in one, stop digging! I see it all the time. Organizations are lost, but they’re making really good time. Ask yourself, and really think about it: Is my organization producing the growth in customers, members, revenues, donations, profits, etc. that it is designed to produce? Like it or not your answer has to be “yes,” because the design determines the results.
Clay taught me a good lesson about making things happen with your brand. Envision the events that might happen to a brand (shelf space at Walmart, an appearance on Oprah, a bestseller, worldwide recognition, a new edition, worldwide rights, chosen by the Queen, whatever) as a series of dominoes.
Marketing is war my friends. By now most of you have figured that out. And most of you are familiar with Marketing Warfare, a book I wrote with my former partner Al Ries on the strategy and tactics that can and should be implemented on the front lines of marketing. With help from Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz we concluded many things about the battlefield marketers face. Today on Branding Strategy Insider, I offer a brief re-cap on some of the greater points as you head into the fray...
During periods of relative economic stability, innovation and branding work well together. Powerful brands help companies bring innovation to the market by providing a low-risk "guarantee" for brand loyalists to adopt the new thing. Innovation returns the favor by enhancing brand appeal. In normal times, this equation works well, with incremental innovation inside a brand's well-defined identity creating steady and profitable growth. But the partnership can be an uneasy one, and it is especially uneasy during periods of market transformation, when investing in new brands or sub-brands can be perceived as too risky. The difficult choices imposed by hard times force managers to confront the challenge of "brand stretch" more acutely.
Times are tough. People are hurting. Your mission to help people is critically important. But please don't confuse "mission" with "strategy."
Ask any businessperson what marketing is about and they’ll answer with clichés about satisfying customer needs or “world class” service. Eventually they’ll get around to the 4 Ps, advertising, USPs, viral and social marketing, and a plethora of brand distinctions like: brand promise, brand identity, brand image, brand religion, brand essence, brand personality, and on and on.
I miss the good ol' days of global brand strategy. It used to be so simple: Develop a single, absolute definition of your brand, then produce content -- mostly TV spots and print -- that was generic enough for local voice-over talent to translate, perhaps augmented with an image or two for local color. What was important was that those absolutes of brand were constant; the delivery component was tactical. "Think global, act local" was the mantra we stole from the world's do-gooders in the 1970s, and it was supposed to save money on production costs while ensuring consistent delivery of our messaging.
No project is conceived in a vacuum, no decision in isolation and no negotiation with a clean sheet of paper.
Social media is everywhere and for a lot of businesses they approach it likes it’s the magic wand that’s going to be the savior to their business. When you begin to talk to them, usually the conversation starts like this. “Can you help us with that Twitter thing and that Facebook thing, not to mention it’s vital if you can produce for us one of those viral videos. Second, this has to help our business look hip and cool and last but not least, we don’t have the time to really be involved in any conversations.” The other component that comes out in this conversation isn’t just what they want, but also what they don’t want. I’m still amazed when I hear the fear factor about the potential of negative comments being made about their brand or products. Which I wonder, if it’s really fear about negativity or it’s fear of being in a conversational space and having to deal with negative feedback.
Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit has acquired local online media companies Patch Media Corp. and Going Inc. as part of a broader strategy to build the company's position in the relatively fast-growing local online advertising market. The acquisitions come as Time Warner moves to split off AOL into an independent company and AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong, who joined the company in April, is working on putting together a new structure and strategy, in which local content is one major push.
How the term “trial balloon” originated: The Montgolfiere brothers came up with a design for the hot air balloon but wanted to make sure it would really work before getting in one themselves. So they first released several unmanned trial hot air balloons. Then they sent up several farm animals to make sure the air at higher levels was safe to breathe. After that, they tried a manned expedition.
Here are two things I struggle to reconcile: The belief in the power of “relationship” or “community” marketing as something that demands more than just an online message board … and … the hesitancy to do something about it without a demonstrated immediate (or at least near-term) return.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has been talking a lot over the past two weeks about Yahoo and how it competes against Google and Microsoft. Each time she does, I feel like she’s digging the hole even deeper for Yahoo’s prospects in search. Rather than communicate a clear search strategy — which you’d better have if you’re in a war against Google and Microsoft — she resonates mixed messages that Yahoo can ill afford to send.
Sometimes, if not most times, the best solution is also the simplest one. Why develop a complex device to connect two irregularly sized shapes when a bit of sellotape will do? Why ask people a series of complex questions about improving your product when what you really want to know is “how could we do things better”? And why provide complex levels of interactivity and engagement on your website when all you want is to get a few conversations going?
Social media and the explosion of (potential) digital destinations has bubbled up the question about content.
From ready-to-eat meals to eco-friendly offerings, food retailers are finding more ways to distinguish themselves and win customers
There is Ally Bank: “A better kind of bank.” And A.I.U.: “A unique franchise.” And — really — Redneck Bank: “Where bankin’s funner!” All are new names and new slogans for old companies with big worries and, in some cases, even bigger image problems.
As the recession keeps depressing, luxury brands are experiencing a wake-up call from this nasty cycle and from chastened luxury buyers.
How many "reward cards" do you have, or loyalty programs do you participate in? When I think of a typical day, I can't think of a commercial transaction that doesn't come with a clerk or cashier who asks, "are you a member in our blah blah blah program?" Books. Office supplies. Gas. Pizza. Grocery.
Recently, at a conference reception (think wine and cubes of cheese), a well-known and influential member of the academic community said to me: "Design strategy is far too important to be left to designers." What a pile of crap, I think. I am pissed, but in a moment of cowardice, I sip my wine, chew my pepper jack, and slink off to lighter conversation. If only I were able to channel Clint Eastwood at will.
I’ve noticed more and more folks taking shots at the value of social media. For example there’s Beware of Social Media Marketing Myths from Gene Marks in Business Week. It’s a natural evolution, I suppose, since social media has pretty much been hyped as the way to riches, better looks, and total self-actualization. I mean, this weekend my local paper had articles on twitter in three different sections, including sports. I get it, I’m tired of the hype too.
Like every other category, the beverage market has been pounded by the recession, with 2008 marking its first volume decline on record as consumers buy fewer bottled beverages. Still, thousands of products continue to launch each year, making it one of the most competitive categories around. Backed by smart marketing strategies, some drink brands are breaking away from the crowd and amassing loyal consumer bases.
Some time ago, I was flicking through a copy of ‘People’ magazine, when I beheld something on its pages that caused me to just about fall off my chair. An ad promoting a TV series about Elvis, which was to run on CBS, was the source of my surprise. “The King is Hear…”, proclaimed, typographically, what turned out to be the first part of this innovative notice. On turning to the next page of the magazine, sure enough, I did hear the King. Elvis was singing from the pages and a voiceover was promoting the series. If you managed to see this copy of the magazine, I’m quite sure you’d have found the advertisement as unforgettable as I did.
Undeterred by recession or getting into a retail business with which it has little experience, Procter & Gamble Co. is buying the Art of Shaving, seller of pricey men's shaving products at upscale shopping malls.
The only difference between an audience and a community is which direction the chairs are pointing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When we say community and we mean our selling demographic, that’s not the same thing. When we say community and we mean audience to absorb our message, that’s not the same thing. It’s important to understand this.
I'm calling out British marketers today. They have a lot to learn about the importance of provenance, heritage and history.
When I want to solve a problem or come up with a creative idea, I usually sit down and think about it. This could be the wrong strategy, according to University of British Columbia psychology professor Kalina Christoff. The UBC prof is an expert in the unlikely subject of daydreaming, and has released findings that our brains are MORE activated than normal when we let them wander.
Coors Light has enjoyed fourteen consecutive quarters of sales growth but back in 2003 that brand was tanking. What turned it around so dramatically? On the surface it appeared to be a simple new marketing strategy focused on the refreshing nature of cold beer. But what really drove the success was a disciplined approach to the management of creative ideas and insights inside the company.
Last week a friend of mine invited me for a libation at a recently opened restaurant bar. "Where is it, exactly?" I asked. "It's right behind 'X' (a restaurant with a bar), he replied. "You know, across from 'Y' (another restaurant with a bar). If you walk out the back door of 'Z' (another restaurant with a bar) you'll be facing it." I found it.
Marketing is facing its first real existential crisis, as pressure builds on CMOs to achieve what many are referring to as "the same impact for 60% of the dollars." That's why now's the time for CMOs to adopt and apply to their marketing operations the 7-S Framework, an analytical tool that's been successfully used by hundreds of corporations.
A decade ago the ability to generate ideas for businesses was a terrific and unique offering, and often a good business. Many companies and consultants were conducting workshops aimed at coming up with ideas, hundreds of ideas, and getting paid handsomely to do it. Today, it seems most of the businesses I deal with have more than enough ideas, it's determining the right ones to invest time and energy into that is the trick.
Perceived quality is a brand association that is elevated to the status of a brand asset for several reasons.
I recently received this email from Brandy Amidon, the Princess of Particulars and CPA at Brains on Fire, yesterday.
What are the strategies we can use to deal with unrelenting transparency? Fight it. Accept it. Deceive it.
Marketing tells a story that spreads. Sales overcomes the natural resistance to say yes.
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.
Most appeals to donate blood treat the subject as if it was a matter of life and death -- and, often, to be sure, it is. But a new campaign is taking a different tack, on the theory that a light-hearted approach may attract more donors.
Earlier this week SeaWorld invited me out for a press event for the opening of their newest roller-coaster, the Manta. Usually, these things involve doing something that would theoretically be fun if it wasn’t for the fact that you have to spend the entire time being pitched.
Design thinking is currently an "It" concept, the topic of countless books and blogs and conference panels. While it can mean a lot of different things to different people, for me, design thinking is a methodology, a tool, a killer app, and a problem-solving protocol to be used on virtually any problem. It can be equally effective in designing a new product or creating a new brand, to envisioning a new approach to health care or to reinventing city management. Mayor Daley in Chicago, where I live, is a pretty effective design thinker. That's right, Mayor Daley.
That's the sentiment expressed by Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, in an interview in The New York Times this past weekend. Despite that fact that I write business books, I happen to strongly agree with him.
There was a time when having a dotcom was absolutely key to your brand, and once you had one, it was the URL you pointed everyone to in all of your marketing. But with the emergence of the social web, and opportunities to engage with fans elsewhere, is that really the right strategy – or even a requirement at all?
It's one thing to debate the potential power of social media marketing to influence product sales but quite another to watch a social media project actually create a popular new product. In his keynote address at last week's Interactive Advertising Bureau's Social Media Conference, Forrester Research's Josh Bernoff explained how Del Monte Foods did that very thing in just six weeks.
Facebook and Twitter have helped make social networking a household word. Now they need to make money. Efforts to monetize the popular Internet services are increasingly a priority within the two companies.
Lies. Exaggerations. Facts and figures thrown around based on popularity and something called "mental math" Welcome to Branding 101, courtesy of Professor Donald Trump.
Today, everyone knows we have to be smarter about how we spend marketing dollars regardless of whether we're increasing, decreasing or holding steady. But with an ever-changing media landscape and our country in an economic slump, the question becomes: is now the time to focus on short-term success, or do we wait patiently with a long-term vision in place?
Josh Bernoff is vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research and co-author of the book "Groundswell." Keynoting the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Social Media Conference this week, he discussed how major marketers such as Procter & Gamble are using social media in increasingly potent ways. With the social-community effort detailed in this video, P&G significantly increased sales of its feminine-care products.
Unlike the ironic sentiment often expressed when quoting (or, as in this case, vitiating) Shakespeare's Richard III, I am not suggesting that attention is unimportant. I am, however, suggesting that businesses obsession with attention is misplaced, at best. And the fact that major industries have evolved to feed this obsession, simply adds to the problem.
Cisco, Corning, IBM, Intel, and Schwab have weathered worse economic storms. Five strategies to come out of this one even stronger.
How much would you pay to read this page? At about 2,000 of the roughly 50,000 printed words in a typical copy of the Financial Times, it should in theory be worth about 4 per cent of the newspaper's cover price - 10 US cents, 17½ euro cents or eight pence. To readers particularly interested in the subject, perhaps, it may be worth more. To others, though no journalist would like to admit as much, it will be worth nothing. Similar questions are being asked with growing urgency in boardrooms across the news industry and the wider media sector, as stalling economies challenge the foundation on which most content owners' digital strategies have been built.
There’s been a lot of discussion about elevating corporate responsibility to become a strategic driver of your business. Most companies would like to benefit from their ethical efforts in the form of increased customer attraction and loyalty, yet few have figured out how to do it successfully. When marketing and PR are relied on, it can often backfire in accusations of greenwashing. The secret is to apply brand-strategy principles to build your ethical reputation.
I am constantly asked for "strategies/'secrets' for surviving the recession." I try to appear wise and informed—and parade original, sophisticated thoughts. But if you want to know what's going through my head, read the list below:
It appears that something interesting has happened with the growth of social media. There was a time when media experts talked about mass fragmentation with audiences splintering into tiny interest groups that consumed media in unique ways. The proliferation of cable channels, digital radio stations and websites suggested this would be the way of the future. The assumption was that people would come together a few times of the year for big events like The Oscars or The Superbowl. This was before social networks, now we are all in these loosely affiliated networks. On Twitter, we have followers we've never met and in many cases have never heard of.
Too many companies are approaching social media as a tool to generate buzz, instead of as a way to connect with their customers.
Last October, Gartner unveiled a study that stated that by 2010, 60 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies with a web site will be involved in some form of online community that is utilized for customer relationship purposes. What the research also goes on to state is that 50 percent of those that set out and establish or become involved in these communities will fail in their efforts. That's about 300 Fortune 1000 companies that will fail at social media: a striking number, especially in light of recent economic pitfalls.
Joe Rospars, the man behind President Barack Obama's new-media effort during his election, said the campaign didn't win because it used the latest technology. Rather, its secret was a holistic approach -- one easily copied by regular marketers -- that integrated digital tools into the overall strategy.
Is "Blue Ocean Strategy" obsolete? No. Instead, its lessons need to be reinterpreted in relation to new economic realities. It offers many useful insights, whether a category is ripe for transformation or not.
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.
My latest Adweek column is up and it's already getting its fair share of comments - with some particularly negative ones leveled at me. The piece is about where I think "social" media really fits and why - based on this assessment - I think it's a flawed strategy to charge a digital or PR agency with the AOR responsibilities associated with this imperative.
Every day I get a call or an email from a company - often a household brand - that wants to do something fast, cheap, measurable, and blockbusting in social media. I tell them: you need to KISS - keep it strategic silly! They want to employ Twitter, or do blogger outreach, or set up a Facebook page. Those are tactics. What they need is strategy. Otherwise, they'll just waste time and money.
Suddenly, the wind is at Ford's back. Maybe it's the rising quality of its cars. Maybe it's the halo surrounding Ford for passing up federal funds being devoured by its Detroit rivals. Or it could simply be Ford's focus on building image in its marketing while others flog incentives. But for whatever reason, America seems to have decided that Ford is a better idea after all.
Countless brands are doing great things with Twitter, but most fall into one of two categories with their approach. I'll call them "organic" and "deliberate." Both can work wonderfully well, depending on your overall marketing strategy and where Twitter fits into it. Here are two companies, each with a fiercely loyal customer base, that take a vastly different approach to using Twitter to promote their brands.
Sip. Slurp. Repeat. That sums up the business plan at Campbell Soup (CPB) before Douglas Conant took over as CEO eight years ago this month. It was the same old company doing much of the same old stuff it had been doing since it was founded in 1869. It had no clear direction. No red-hot brands. Its innovation cupboard was bare. Conant went to work.