Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Media, Marketing and 'The illusion'

Everyone searches for the truth. I remember thinking when I was a bit younger that I can’t wait for the day when everything makes complete sense. When I was a little bit older I realised that maybe I didn’t want that day to come at all because the truth in its rawness and conception is boring.

Brands have an interesting time developing this theme in their communication. Portraying the truth in their message, a promotion of honesty and transparency is not an easy task. At the best of times the truth about your brand is probably not a great proposition, nor will it help sales or grow market share. In fact, it most likely could do the opposite.

Enter the creative minds and begin ‘the illusion’ and you already have half a chance at throwing your consumers off their search for the truth.

The Simpsons are the most successful brand at achieving this illusion. We know Homer is not the best father; he actually isn’t a father at all. He is a figment of a couple of genius gentleman’s imagination from the U.S. Nonetheless our involvement and association with Homer and this brand is as real as ever. It is as real as ever because the brand is consistently and faultlessly appealing to the elements we know as truth in our lives.

To a certain degree, what we know is true are the many elements within the creations, the plethora of A grade celebrities, current social and political issues, and important figureheads of our time and yet another Rock & Roll band is making an appearance in the show. Coldplay are set to appear in The Simpsons for the 20th Anniversary edition. Ironic, considering their most famous and popular song is ‘Yellow.’

Now I’m a little older again I am starting to realise that the day may never arrive when everything makes complete sense. More often than not the truth is in our association with something- With a brand, a product, even a TV series about a yellow family. The illusion: The space between the truth and our interpretation, and this will have to suffice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Risk and the Reward

As the world evolves so too does the universe of marketing. The stories, propositions and messages always remain very similar and as the saying goes, “it’s almost impossible to have an original thought.”

What you can do is have an original execution.

This is where exploring the potential and opportunity for online and digital marketing for your brand gets exciting. It gets exciting for two reasons; the ‘risk’ and the ‘reward.’

The risk is always something to consider. This consideration is exciting, there is always the possibility that taking your brand online may not turn out exactly as planned. Brands have been considering it for a while now. Your consumers are being exposed to it more and more and increasingly it is becoming the most dominating and highly influential mediums available-Online is in line with the future.

If you are trying to sell your house and you want the most you can possible get for it, you need to expose the sale to as many potential buyers as possible. You know exactly where this is going; you know that a little 2x3m board on your front fence or a photo and a brief description in a brochure isn’t enough to achieve the results you want.

This is because of the rewards. If online marketing is executed correctly your brand will reap in the benefits of an extended market, increased traffic, ease of interaction and purchase process and capabilities to share content all the while knowing what your consumers are doing all the time.

The rewards are well worth considering. It’s now time to understand your consumers in TRUE relation to your market and this isn’t the same market you analysed last year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A small thought for big returns

Here is a thought, imagine we had the ability to attend our own funerals. Imagine yourself in the front row, listening to your friends, family and work colleagues talk and tell stories about your life.

What would you want to hear?

Are you doing everything you can to ensure these wonderful stories are told?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Don’t look for a job, create a job.

There are many people out there looking for work, they tweak their CV's, learn how to talk themselves up in a unique yet humble way and then go through the interview process, and what a tedious process that is.

One question I always ask someone that is making applications for certain jobs in a certain industry category is: “What have you done over the last 12 months that aligns your interests and passions with your future employment?” Funnily enough, this is not a question you will get asked often in an interview.

More often than not the response to this question is something on the lines of, well I have been applying for jobs, researching companies and deciding where I would like to work. They might mention that they are just about to finish or have just completed University. Hopefully, they may mention they are reading a book or two.

This is clearly missing the point. It isn’t about where you want to work, a small percentage is related to what other companies are out there in the category and it sure as hell is not about the jobs that are available in that industry (something like 67% of jobs are not advertised.)

It is however, about your devotion, passion and interest FOR the Industry. Let me draw on the great Franck Muller as an example.

This gentleman was born in Switzerland in 1958. From a very early age, he developed and nurtured a growing interest for all things mechanical. From an early age he was disassembling all the machines in his house to study how they worked. As a teenager he collected antique astrological instruments. He then joined the Geneva School of Watchmaking, graduated with flying colours and then chose a very difficult path to follow but he had enough devotion, passion and interest to create his own watchmaking company and a very successful one at that- Franck Muller. (It’s fair to say that Franck Muller has gone on to sensational influence the global watchmaking industry.)

So now, consider my before mentioned question: “What have you done over the last 12 months that aligns your interests and passions with your future employment?” Franck Muller could name a few, so many that he could launch his own company. If some of the applicants out there had half the ingredients someone like Franck had then sky is the limit.

You will create your own job through your devotion, passion, and interest FOR the industry. An occupation should be your devotion, interest and passion remunerated.

A simple and effective process

Excite – Engage- Activate

Print it out, Learn the process and implement it. It’s the most simple and effective way to achieve your desired outcome (You might even create a following)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Learn from the 'Sharpies'

For the minority of the time- Marketing is a very interesting world. It houses some great individual thinkers. Thinkers that think outside the square, thinkers that think within the square and some that create a phenomenal movement.

Over the last decade I have been admiring the development and progression of ‘Sharpie.’ The minds behind this 40 year old brand are very good. I have admired their successful attempts to align their products with a relatively untouched and impressionable market.  It may seem simple how they have gone about achieving their brand dominance but just like most things, simple only after you have learnt how to do it first.

There is too many subtleties too mention about their ingenious and infections marketing campaigns. It has multiple touch points both emotionally and physically, spans multiple platforms and incorporates a host of medias.  It is impressive to say the least.

I recommend researching the Sandford owned brand beyond their TVC’s with David Beckham. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

There is no place for 'fear' in your workplace.

One way to ensure you get the worst out of your employees is to instil them with fear: Make them fearful of their future within the company, continually make them double check their actions and cross examine their activity. Make them feel lucky that they have a job and continually mention ‘that it’s tough out there.’

‘Fear’ is the easiest, oldest and most detrimental way to manage people. It cramps the productivity of your employees and your company.

Captain Cook was a remarkable leader. From the day ‘The Endeavour’ sailed out of Port Plymouth, his job was to manage the ‘fear’. Why? Because the day that ‘fear’ slipped into the hearts and minds of his crew was the day the discovery changed course and ultimately ended.

The day your partner says to you that you are lucky to be with them is the day your relationship ends-Whether you realise it then or in the very near future.

Employees are not lucky that they have a job and businesses are not doing favours by keeping people on the payroll. If companies ever start to believe and deliver this message to their employees, they are managing and working with ‘fear’ and ultimately changing the direction of the company for the worse- Whether companies realise it now or in the very near future.

It’s in the best interests of a Company to instil confidence and hope within their employees, to continually remind them that although it’s tough out there, their efforts are not going unnoticed and that they are appreciated. The benefits will come in the near future if they keep making the most of their opportunities.

Employment is not doing someone a favour. It is giving someone an ‘opportunity’ and their job is to make the most of it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Social media rises as the need to interact online increases.

There is no doubt that the rise of online social networking and in turn the broadening online social mediascape is because of the increasing desire to know what everyone else is doing. We all want to know what everyone else is up to, where they have been, who they are in a relationship with and what are their thoughts and we want to do it regularly. It’s an emotionally fuelled pastime.

We almost need to be part of it to validate ourselves and find out what is going on in everyone else’s world. We feel the need to peruse through profiles, pages and posts and take part in what can be at times refereed to as Comparative Voyeurism. It’s what’s making social media grow and evolve into the almost infinite mediascape it is right now.

Brands are loving it, but is the audience reciprocating?

Are they networking or observing? Either way it is a form of Sociology. Furthermore it’s an adoption of modern technology to observe, participate and interact in a purely man made environment.

The ‘status updates’ and ‘tweets’ (to name a couple) that we read about are no longer relevant by the time we read them. Moods change, thoughts expire in just over a few seconds and people are now onto the next topic- But we need take part because everyone else is taking part. We are actually very emotionally involved in our day to day online social networking and therefore the advertising surrounding it has little relevance to us.

It’s the high speed online emotional evolution and what does this mean for brands?

It means be relevant, be as relevant as you possibly can-Encourage your Marketing to meet with the minds, not with the eyes

Social Media in full swing on traditional media's

I was listening to the radio the other night and the hosts were saying how Twitter have announced that celebrities need to be accepted and validated by Twitter to launch their Twitter profile if you are celebrity. This is to stop imposter celebrity accounts been set up.

I turned the radio off and checked this out on my friends Iphone. It turns out to be true.

I was watching TV the other day and the host was talking about how he had a Facebook Fan page dedicated to him. You would feel pretty good about yourself if you had a fan page dedicated to you or your brand wouldn’t you?

I turned the TV off and went to go check out if Mr Cicada had a fan page. Go on, check if your brand has one.

It’s quite interesting how when I’m watching TV and listening to the Radio (traditional media's) online social media is still in full swing. Radio and TV are a free media that is covered by the selling of ‘space’ in the form of advertisements. From an advertising perscpective 'online' is a very dangerous competitor so much so that its ironically getting a helping hand from the traditional media's by plugging it so frequently. -Keep your friends close and your enemies closer I suppose.

p.s. I hope the brands that were advertising on these stations were also running a social media campaign as well or they just got seriously stung.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Excuse me, but how do you assess the health of your brand?

I was asked at an informal meeting last week just how can the health of our brand be assessed? Great question, I was glad they were interested in such climates as these.

This is something that I always ask a brand or business and more often than not they reply with conversation about products, P&L, tracking, share, activity and overheads etc. Not bad, but they are all looking at their brand from the inside out. I suggest looking from the outside in.

A great way to consider the health assessment of your brand is not so much how healthy it is, but how strong is its immunity and tolerance? Brands are often seen as living, breathing and functioning organisms so let’s assess them accordingly. Just like the health of humans, where it’s not about your strengths but more about how strong your weaknesses are. The humans that are continually getting sick are the ones that have a low tolerance and weak immune system. Therefore the ‘healthiest’ ones are the ones with the greatest tolerance.

Brands are exactly the same!

Brands are getting sick and losing market share, some are falling all together because they have low tolerance especially in a volatile market. This can be because of any number of things but quite often it’s because the brand didn’t focus on strengthening their weaknesses.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Think like your perfect consumer

Prescript: Oliviero Toscani is worth ‘googling’ if you don’t know of him already.

Some Advertisers search for the ‘creative’ in everything. Elongate and lengthen an element of the brand and its message and then play with that.

It can be great entertainment and it may build a sensational story that consumers love but how effective and simple is it?

An example of this is ‘humour.’ It does work well but there other genres of entertainment that could work just as effectively if not more than humour and all its brothers and sisters i.e. Sarcasm..

Most times advertisers are always looking for the ‘funny’ in the brand or the 'creative' in the message that they have to ‘think outside the square’ when they should be ‘thinking like their perfect consumer’ Most times advertisers are playing off their ideas and concepts against each other. Most times the results don’t matter because the idea is so great. This often loses the audience and in turn they often just don’t get it.

I cannot count how many times I have witnessed perfect target audiences watch an advertisement in all its forms and heard them say I don’t get it?, what does that have to do with ‘brand’? or ‘that is just silly!" (Not in those words.)

Advertising and art are too very different things. If you have a great idea, be disciplined and save it for a short film festival, a public installation, a canvas, a book or website.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to change the world around you…

In the late 1990’s there was a gentleman named Christopher who lived on a street off a little street that had no name. Everyday, he would walk down his street, then through the little street with no name to get to work.

It annoyed him how this street had no name. He researched the street directory, he asked shop owners, spoke with locals and approached the council. The street was known as ‘the street with no name.’ The council was not willing to do anything and no one seemed to care.

After much thought over many months he spoke with a friend of his that worked in sheet metal. He asked him to make a sign that looked quite similar to that of others in the area. He then proceeded to thump the newly made sign with a hammer and mullet until it was unrecognisable.

Christopher then went to the local council and said that this battered sign had fallen off the wall of the corner shop, he gave the location and mentioned that the sign once read ‘Christopher’s little St’ and that it should be remade and reinstalled.

It was four days later when the new authentic “Christopher’s little street’ was reinstalled and it was on this day that Christopher then contacted the street directory company to alert them of the fact that he was in ‘Christopher’s little St’ and it did not seem to be in the directory. He was told that occasionally this happened and that a surveyor will venture down to the location to gather details for the next edition of the directory.

This is all history now and it’s documented in every edition of the street directory.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Complexity through simplicity

The mobile phone was a huge development, but the first mobile phones where very large and would usually sit in your car while you were mobile. It certainly could not be put in your pocket but at least you could be contacted if you weren’t at your office. It’s fair to say one communication process could last a few days.

Computers changed everything. Funnily enough though, at their onset they were only seriously adopted in the late eighties and early nineties. There was still a cloud of mystery surrounding them well into the mid nineties and companies were not sure if this was the way business was going. They needed more convincing. Well, it was always going this way and this was only the beginning.

When the World Wide Web came around it really shook things up, businesses where either in or out. Some businesses where at the forefront of this movement others just had their head in the sand and thought the storm would pass. (Coincidently some companies are still around others no longer exist)

How could business be opened and closed online? Surely this could not be done via the internet.

We have almost done a complete revolution, the web has been reinvented and conversely the way you do business has changed forever. The way your consumers interact with your brand is like nothing we have ever seen before. With the rise of a new networked economy, social media and a multitude of communication platforms available to touch your consumers. Your consumers know just as much about your brand as you do.

Funnily enough, there is a similar ‘mood’ surrounding this movement as there was when the internet first came around. Businesses are either in or they are out. Adopt or put your head in the sand and wait for the storm to pass- It’s not going to pass, it’s only getting heavier.

Think about the progression of mobile phones to computers, the internet, hotmail, messenger chat, SMS and then MMS, blogs, forums and second life, then the rise of Myspace (bands, too many to mention built their empire on Myspace alone) the development and the cross adoption of Facebook and now the almighty and mysterious Twitter.

It’s all complexity through simplicity. The way we communicate is complex. We are getting more complex because the conversation has changed and is forever changing- This also means we are searching for a simple method, a simple execution.

Your consumers are talking about you right now through these modern channels, if you don’t answer the phone, they are checking you out online, and then will read and write blogs about you, see if you have a Facebook group and if your active on Twitter.

You have two choices; join them or watch them interact with your competitors.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Simple is the new genius.

Marketing, first and foremost is an ‘Understanding.’

Seeking to understand your brand, listen to your audience and put a stethoscope to your market is in essence at the core of what marketing is about. From here you can create Art or you can employ Science. Either way it requires an understanding of your brand in your market.

Some products/services need the art of marketing and some need the science of marketing. They all need ‘understanding’ through listening. These days listening has never been so important and with the unstoppable growth of social media and the world wide web marketers should all have their ears to the keyboard.

So rather then attempting to be creatively ingenious and firing your message way over your audiences head- stop to ‘understand’ your audience, brand and your market. Eliminating the want to be so out there creative or analytically anal about measurement and theories is what’s making a successful marketer today.

Listen before you speak.

Simple is the new genius.

Thinking about it...

I was reminded the other week by my Mother, that when I was a lot younger I had explained to her that I always felt as if I was watching myself live. My Mother triggered memories of me playing sport, when I was at school and my reasonably small stint at university and how I always felt as if I were on the sidelines, in the lecture theatre and classrooms sitting along side myself. Odd, I know but that is just the way I went about my life, as an acute observer of not only others, but myself as well.

I find the small things the most interesting about people that have left amazing legacies. Let’s face it, it is all about our legacy and how we leave it. Yes, living in the moment is very important, but trying to make this moment and the sequences of moments the follow, live forever in the hearts and minds of people around you is by far more important- Hence, it’s all about your Legacy.

I love the idea of a small and unknown gentleman working in a patent office (without promotion until he mastered the machines) in Switzerland in the very early 1900’s. How, he still had the tenacity to consider some of the biggest thoughts that had ever occurred to man. How, although his few applications for a teaching position were refused and he failed entrance examines, he went on to change the world.

I love the idea of the hardest working and most exhibited artist in the early 1900’s wasn’t even accepted as a great artist in his own country until he was nearly half a century old. By then he had already changed the art world. I love the irony of how ‘The Scream’ is his most famous work.

I could go on…

I remember a very successful lady once said when I asked her what she often thinks about on a day to day basis.
“I envisage I am someone that I hold in very high regard and I am watching myself. I then make up a conversation this person would have about me and I listen very carefully” she said.

I liked this idea, it made me feel like she was always trying to impress herself, grow the concept and push the boundaries of her own reality.
Deep, but it is interesting to consider our own cognitive science, how our own thought processes can be our secret disadvantage or advantage.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Work on achievement not activity.

"I’m so busy." "I can't believe its Friday tomorrow and half the year has already gone."

People are constantly getting stuck, they get stuck doing what they are doing. They get busy getting busy. Living turns into existing, existing to surviving and then you live from pay cycle to pay cycle and monitor your activity in between.

The better you get, the easier things should get. This makes sense doesn’t it?
This is the case for all companies too, not just humans- We learn, we commit and we should acquire.

Eating is nowhere near as hard as when I first attempted it many decades ago and I no longer fall off my bike in the rare case I go for a ride.

The interesting thing is more often than not it’s the complete opposite. The better we get, the busier we get. This is because we continually focus on activity and forget about achievement. Achievement in the broader scheme of things is guiding you towards accomplishment.

How many people can look back to the last few months (let alone the last few years) and feel a great sense of accomplishment?

The irony of all this is we think that activity is what gets results- most companies believe this as well and will have some form of measuring your activity in your workplace. Fact is that activity will cost a company money and achievement will make a company money.

Work on achievement not activity.

Activity gets you stuck. Achievement sets you free.