Wednesday, 08 May 2013
Immediately after I saw Eric Schmidt's quote fluidly stream across the ticker on the bottom of CNBC - I thought - He's certainly famous and wealthy, but he's dead wrong on this one. The obvious question is clearly what could Eric Schmidt, leader of the most powerful company on the planet, be wrong about? And, was I capable of accurately understanding the totality of his statements with just a simple headline? Truth is that nothing is for certain, but even if his quote was taken out of context - it brings up a very important topic to discuss regarding the future, and our media consumption habits. So, I decided to simply take the quote at face value and address the matter at hand.
Eric Schmidt was quoted on CNBC as saying "Online video viewing will completely replace TV viewing in the near future." In what was a clear effort to transport TV advertising dollars and have them be newly applied towards digital experiences. It also made it abundantly clear, that due to his position and current thinking, that Google will be operating under this impression for the foreseeable future.
Again, clearly this was a statement geared for advertisers as it was uttered at an advertising get together. And in today's advertising landscape - things move extremely quickly. And while more traditional media's like newspapers and magazines are really starting to feel the pain - TV ad spending is still in the midst of a fairly decent ascent. His words were clearly intended to slow down that move of ad dollars being spent on TV.
Getting back to the key issue at hand.......
Why is Eric Schmidt wrong? He's wrong for a myriad of reasons, yet amazingly there's still an ounce of truth in his statement. The truth lies in the portion of the statement regarding the pipeline through which the content is being delivered - not by which utility or device the content is being viewed.
What all seems so very simple on face value becomes quite complex when one looks at the relevant research and truly understands the nations's and consumers past, present and future behaviors in this world where the rapid proliferation of technology is only superseded by the speed of light.
We have a pop culture of families, friends etc. gathering around the TV to consume various kinds of content for endless hours of entertainment. In the early years, the number of channels were limited as was the number of cable channels and assortment of TV's and peripherals. Today, there seems to be a TV and a TV channel for everything. Off the top of my head I can count five channels dedicated to food alone. Heck, it was just yesterday that I saw the news break regarding the new channel created exclusively for canines. If one thinks that we've witnessed a tremendous amount of changes in the land of the TV networks - they haven't seen anything yet.
Rome is about to fall. The question is - What represents Rome in the statement?
Again, It's an extremely fair statement to say that we've got an American culture,for the most part, built around the major TV network's programming. These TV networks have been around since the invention of the TV, and thus have created a scenario in which the networks have and continue to still yield an unprecedented amount of control. Imagine, if you're part of the younger demographic, a TV that has 3 channels and you really don't have much a choice regarding what type of programming you're going to watch. I know it's probably painful to think about living that way, but that's just the way the world was when the world was controlled by the big three TV networks. Back in those early days, consumers were clearly at the mercy of the TV networks - my how times have changed.
While there are definitely going to be continuing, seismic changes on the way to the once impervious TV network model - The TV itself will continue to reside as a centerpiece for social activity in households around the world. Until the day, much like every other industry, when the once almighty TV networks completely lose their luster - it's coming sooner than most think. And that's where the issue in his statement resides.
The key mistake, in my opinion, that Mr. Schmidt made was that he failed to differentiate between the TV networks and the TV itself as a stand alone device. This may seem like a small oversight, but in fact it's a major oversight. It just takes a few moments to look around to become aware that we're already seeing signs re: the confluence of the web and TV in the new generation of TV's and Blue-Ray players etc. These devices are beginning to integrate with on-line content companies such as Netflix, Pandora and much to Mr. Schmidt's delight - YouTube. It's literally written all over the boxes and devices themselves. So, in a sense, there will be internet content on a TV device.
The 64 million dollar question is whom will own the bandwidth that's delivering the content.
Let's try to have a wee bit of fun and do a little exercise - try to project yourselves out into the future.
The massive movie theatre complexes will have gone the same way as the once thriving independent movie theaters that populated the landscape in the 30's,40's,50's,60's and 70's. People will congregate at their own dwellings as the content will be available directly to them in their own homes - making the theatre mega-plexes as irrelevant as your once favorite eight track player.
By this point, based on the home buyers' new behavioral patterns - architects and the likes will begin to design homes with larger congregation spaces and rooms specifically designed to accommodate large groups of people for a myriad of entertainment purposes.
Now let's drift back to the present....
Let's take note of the enormous amount of research that clearly indicates the smaller the screen the less amount of time it engages the consumer. This vast amount of research pretty much assures us that consumers of all ages won't be consuming online video in the way that perhaps Mr. Schmidt is envisioning. Therefore, both now and in the future, it will still be a TV or perhaps a larger projection system that serves as the device for which the majority of media is consumed. Granted, a fair amount of content will be consumed "on the go" via an Ipad or comparable device. This will give the Google's of the world the lion's share of the ad dollars since they're directly distributing the content. However, the bulk of the content is what I'm keying in on. And, to clarify Mr Schmidt's point, it will be the TV networks, not the TV, that will all but evaporate if they don't radically change their modeling. And, honestly while that help them a great deal just based on using the most simplistic of metrics. The players that serve up the content will have to innovate to control the advertising dollars - it's their pipe. The once named SBC communications was a company that is really good at innovating in these types of scenarios
This is where the bifurcation needed to be addressed and more clearly defined by Mr. Schmidt between the actual TV as a entertainment consumption device and the TV networks that he was busy trying to take advertising dollars from.
Regardless of what's feeding the content to the TV through the current TV network structure. In my opinion, it's the network structure that Mr. Schmidt should be specifically referencing and therefore he should clarify his statements. As, both now and in the future, online video will be delivered via the TV to the population the majority of the time via a third party "pipe" owner.
Depending on who controls the bandwidth will determine who gets to decide how personal, relevant brand experiences will be inserted into the digital, video equation. And, furthermore this will determine who gets the lion's share of the advertising dollars. Again, some innovation required here.
It's sometimes amazing how a simple quote can evoke such a visceral response, but I simply felt that Mr. Schmidt was telling only part of a very complex situation and it was going unchallenged to perhaps a more granular point of view.
But, I'm not Eric Schmidt - although I'd love to have his bank account balances. Writing this piece was a sort of therapeutic effort for me. I hope that you took something positive away from reading it.
If Google starts to get into the business of owning the "pipes" and bandwidth - then they'll truly take the lion's share of advertising dollars.
To end on a note of interest, I'm writing this note while Google is trading at an all-time high - GO GOOG !!!!!!
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Hello EMF Universe,
Please complete this and also have your friends, colleagues,…etc. sign up for forum.
PLEASE TWEET IT _ RETWEET IT _ FACEBOOK IT _ And all of that other cool slang and social media to get the word out about the 2013 EMF Reseach
How are you Managing?
Experiential is gaining more and more share of the marketing department's attention and resources. We are interested in learning more about how you manage.
The EMF and George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario are conducting a survey to gain an understanding of the experiential industry and the software solutions that are helping to power it. What solutions does your organization use to manage process and streamline communications? How effect are they? How are your clients gauging success?
Please take 10 minutes to complete the survey below. The survey is 100% anonymous and the class has committed to share the results with the EMF community.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
The Thirst For Cautious Capitalism
While the world markets may be indicating that the world’s okay. As every economist stoically states on CNBC that this is the case when referring to the buoyancy of the world’s macro-economy.
The reality is that the bouancy that their referencing is the stock market, and It’s just really just one big “wall of worry”. The majority of people that have been benefiting from the current, massive move in the stock market reside in the top 5% of the population. More have undoubtedly benefited through their 401k plans, but the variance here is ridiculous - I would even go far as to say redonkulous.
Essentially, what we’ve got is a stock market that’s on government spoon-fed steroids being fueled by $85 billion a month from our adoring Federal Reserve buying the majority of the notes in the market - which will, without doubt, cause our next myriad of bubbles.
If you don’t think that this is scary - what do you think is going to to happen when the Federal Reserve states that they’re no longer going to buy any more paper, and that they’ll be selling off their assets? I wouldn’t want to get caught in that stampede as everyone heads for the exits. And when the “buoyant” stock market that is consistently referenced to as proof of the world’s economic buoyancy heads to the ocean floor - what’s your plan then?
And how are marketers supposed to be effectively allocating their clients’ resources in a landscape that’s more bloated then Barry Bond’s cheeks?
Just when the folks in charge of swaying public opinion had the populous almost convinced that there was a housing recovery taking place the most recent foreclosure start numbers are up 385% in Seattle and the rest of the numbers in the US aren’t looking much better - what a surprise - the fundamentals of a recovery aren’t really in place. This is due to the shadow inventory of housing that’s been sitting quietly because the owners are so far under water that they didn’t even want to bother listing their houses and were waiting for some kind of government program to bail out “the little guy”- I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Some families have been living in their homes rent free for over three years because the banks, believe it or not, remained greedy in their efforts to capitalize on the backend of the suffering they caused initially. 60 minutes had a brilliant piece about the mortgage business and the practice of robo-signing people’s signatures. 60 minutes went, in depth, into just one off the fictitious person’s background and noted that there were actually ten of these fake “Linda Johnsons”, and that this fictitious person didn’t just work for one company she worked at a multitude of financial institutions while signing 100% FAKE mortgage foreclosure documents.
O, and let me remind you that this is completely illegal, and now all of these foreclosures that were robo-signed are all sitting in a state of limbo because there’s several class action lawsuits. This may have been one of the only times in American history to not pay your bills on time and you’d have actually benefitted from it.
Talk about a world being turned on it’s axis and coming to rest upside down. Full scale capitalism has finally run completely amuck.
it’s clearly time to turn the page into a new age of cautious capitalism.
It’s time to get things placed back where they belong so that the world can actually begin a healing process instead of people continually causing the festering of the old wounds that still remain from the age of “capitalism gone wild”. Then, in the world of advertising, things will slowly revert back to their normal levels, and if everyone works synergistically then we just might get markets back to being truly buoyant. Then, the term “buoyancy” will actually be more than just a word - at that very important moment in time it will again have meaning of extreme import.
Granted, I’m fully aware that I’m only lightly touching on one slice of the glutenous, capitalistic pie here, but it’s the one slice that really eviscerated the majority of the wealth around the globe - trillions upon trillions of dollars simply vanished.
Lightly touching on these macro economic conditions is extremely important to the advertising industry because it has EVERYTHING to do with the mindset of the consumer, and as marketers - we need to know where the consumers’ heads are.
If the entire population went from feeling safe and secure to scared and alone then that affords marketers the opportunity to understand what emotional, experiential platforms that they should be building on to truly connect with consumers and have their messages resonate with their intended audiences. Through all of this, the speed of the proliferation of technologies hasn’t slowed a bit. So, agencies should know where and how the consumers are consuming their media.
More than likely, consumers will still be consuming media in the form of “media snacks” which is extremely important to understand because their habits guide our tactical executions of our core creative ideas.
I’ve attempted to set the stage a little to show how imperative it is, and that it’s truly time to approach the world through the lenses of cautious capitalism.
What’s cautious capitalism you ask? It’s running an enterprise with a bit of in-trepidation , and in a way that allows you to earn money without making other enterprise owners, at the local level or any other level, upset with your business practices.
Nobody should find their businesses in the category of too big to fail. Nor should any regulatory body allow that to happen.
Cautious capitalism will allow a more diverse set of people to prosper instead of an elite few that caused the nuclear, capitalistic meltdown that we all just went through. This is true for every vertical. Which, when you really think about it - it’s really exciting. Even at the conceptual stage to think of a world that isn’t overrun by behemoth companies, but has an abundance of slightly more eclectic companies that meet the needs of all consumers- not just having everything homogenized down to the lowest common denominator.
Cautious Capitalism will create a world of companies that certainly don’t subscribe to the notion that one size fits all.
We’ll feel more balanced and whole as humans, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll get this ship moving back in the right direction.
Monday, 18 March 2013
Experience As The Salient Differentiator
There are and have been some great, and extremely smart people in the experience marketing space for some time now. My good friend that sadly passed away, David Wolfe, was a genius in this space. Also, it would be completely irresponsible of me to not point out the revolutionary and evolutionary work that Pine and Gillmore have done and are continuing to do in the space. They put out their book “The Experience Economy” which feels like it’s been out since around the time the earth was cooling - the exact release date escapes me.
Suffice it to say that the above mentioned individuals are among many true pioneers in the space. They’re not individuals that have been hyped up by holding companies promoting their books and their own businesses in kind - they actually have things that are intelligent to say. Their reputations stand solidly on their body of work in an experience marketing space that, at the time they started, wasn’t even being recognized.
I recently wrote an article entitled, “Playing The Touchpoint's Like a Concert Pianist”, which was meant to briefly drive home the point that each part of the consumers’ experience is just as important as the next. To a consumer, each and every individual interaction with a brand is interpreted as one seamless experience. Consumers don’t differentiate an interaction with the guy/gal driving the brand’s truck and/or the 100 million dollar advertising spend intended to guide their perception of the brand.
To the consumer, every interaction they have with a brand, falls along the same their same experience continuum.
Smart brands focus on all of the potential points of interaction (touch points) so that they can align their brand’s reality with the perception that consumers have in their head. Brands can absolutely do this extremely effectively. It’s not as if brands are all busy just arranging deck chairs on the Titanic and hoping that you’ll choose them - they are very actively campaigning for your discretionary dollars!
Which brings me to another piece that I recently wrote that was entitled, “ One Hundred Percent Commoditization Resistant”. This piece was purposed to dive head first into the stark reality, like it or not, everything essentially becomes commoditized. And, like it or not again, the only thing that can’t be commoditized is thought. Thought, of course, is at the genesis of all experiences. It’s the creativity that oozes out of this essential thought that helps serve as the guiding hand that creates and subsequently constructs the experiences that a brand puts out there to exquisitely and accurately represent themselves.
It goes without saying that there are different modalities of experience. However, I’m mainly focusing in on the experiences that brands spend their money on. These are the experiences that, if successful, perfectly craft the notion of their brand’s essence, and more importantly strum the correct strings in your internal, emotional guitar to drive you to purchase the goods or services that any particular brand is offering for sale.
More and more these days, given the fact that everything is essentially commoditized, the experience the brands put forth is what essentially serves as the salient differentiator between brand A and brand B - assuming that both brands are equally valued.
So the question then becomes how does a brand focus it’s efforts to ensure that they put forth a compelling, authentic, meaningful and relevant brand experience that’s going to appeal to you more than the competitions’ experience marketing efforts?
As more and more brands focus on experience marketing - they’ve begun to work from the shelf outwards. In doing so they start by thinking about the point of purchase and work themselves all the way out to the beginning of the day when a consumer’s alarm clock goes off and their eyes open to fearlessly attack the day as they did the last.
As a marketer, developing the sustainable IP that comprises these experiences is absolutely the best job in the world. This position transcends creative - it transcends strategy - it transcends everything because it resides in a realm of reality that doesn’t differentiate between any of these. It resides in the mind of the consumer. Hopefully, we’ll see more agencies creating positions that bring in people that first and foremost understand the consumer from a behavioral POV, and also have the talent to transcend all of these once separated skill sets.
If all of this begins to happen then it will allow agencies and brands to be able to create 100% compelling, 100% yessable experiences that leave the consumers awe struck, buying your brand, and anxiously awaiting the next experience that’s headed in their direction. And, that after all, is what it’s all about!
Monday, 11 March 2013
One Hundred Percent Commoditization Resistant
In a world in which the most innovative developments immediately get cloned in China within 3 days. Then they wind up on global store shelves within a week or so - it’s extremely difficult to find something that can’t be commoditized and wind up a victim of this awful process.
There are certainly many pros and cons that have come into play with the world that’s becoming completely immersed with the notion of globalization. New laws and regulations that have been put into place to make it easier for legitimate businesses to prosper globally have also, unwittingly, opened up the freeways for counterfeiters, con-men and your garden variety criminals. But, even the before mentioned can only create secondary markets for and from things that are tangible goods and services that are essentially commodities.
It seems that the only defensibility in today’s “speed of light” world is something that appears at the the Genesis of every earth-shaking creation, at the beginning of every game changing innovation and certainly at the nexus of everything worthy of being deemed great or even good for that matter.
Can you start to smell what I’m cooking up yet?
And the answer to the question is? What is the one thing that can’t be commoditized? What can always serve as a salient differentiator between two competitors?
The answer is great thought, creativity and every other superfluously brilliant things that are born and erupt out of the human brain. However, an idea is everything and an idea is nothing. If brilliance isn’t properly activated then it isn’t worth the sheet of paper that the brilliant ideas and concepts are printed on.
However, if activated properly, they will keep an enterprise so far ahead of others that they won’t even be able to see the competition in their rear view mirror.
Can you think of something else that can’t be commoditized? If so - let me hear from you!
Monday, 11 March 2013
The Absolute, Definitive Guide To Wasting Billions Of Clients’ Advertising Dollars
Erik Hauser 3.11.13
*Picture This* You’ve worked extremely hard to strike up a relationship with a key player on the brand side that just happens to control the brand’s 500 million media and advertising spend. You’ve also worked extremely hard to get short-listed for the soon to be issued RFP. With a few chips falling in the right direction - along comes THE Big WIN - making you a rain-making darling of the agency for at least a couple of days.
That’s, unfortunately the majority of the time, where the good news for the both parties usually ends. Trust me, I just spent a week judging the final round of the Effies and I’ve never seen 80-100 million dollars vanish without seeing any real impact on the brand’s business or the work product that the vast sum of money produced. And we’re dealing with the supposed “best of” scenario.
I’m well aware that I’m playing the part of the salmon - swimming against the main stream’s current here.
Eventually, someone had to step forward - in a friendly manner - to help advance the industry and act as an advocate for both sides. This isn’t about playing the blame game - it’s just about addressing some of the issues that plague both sides.
Many agencies do a wonderful job properly allocating their clients money and produce wonderful IMC programs. However, if given a long enough leash - certain agencies can become seemingly endless value traps of fees, surcharges, change orders and money pits for their clients that perhaps aren’t properly prepared to handle their own vast sums of money that they put forth to spend for their advertising efforts.
It somewhat pains me to be the one to say all of this, being that I’m in the business and all, but it’s painfully true. And furthermore, I’m not saying anything that’s unknown - it’s just taboo to speak about.
There are many reasons for writing this quasi-satirical piece. One of the major reasons is an attempt to hopefully start a very important, transparent, long overdue, conversational dialogue between agencies and clients.
Of all things, most importantly, it’s a valiant attempt at trying to raise the level of transparency that exists, or doesn’t exist, inside of the agency and brand relationship. This subject matter falls along the same strain of DNA of the article that I just saw where the headline focused on the CMO’s extreme displeasure with their ad agency’s compensation structure, and for that matter, all agencies’ compensation structures. There was a general disdain and thought that brands weren’t getting what they paid for.
This particular piece isn’t intended to delve into that particular issue because I firmly believe that agencies need to be properly compensated for the tremendous amount of quality work that they do on behalf of their clients. And, furthermore, it’s always tough when you see clients trying to take more money off of the table when great agencies, these days, are truly acting as legitimate business partners.
Agencies, in this day and age, are not just groups of people that put together their clients’ mediocre external marketing initiatives - they’re smart all-around business thinkers that sometimes even create the products or services that they then construct the external marketing campaign for.
So, how do agencies waste tons of clients’ money without providing any intrinsic value for their clients? OMG - where should I start? Let’s take a look and in the process of looking quickly write the definitive guide to wasting billions of brands’ dollars. Let’s journey beyond the obvious things that are stated above. Everyone knows about those, let’s try to seriously figure out the unexpected - the things that would go unnoticed by most.
Agencies have a systemic problem in optimizing their clients’ advertising, marketing and innovation budgets because of the fear that whatever they present will simply be killed. Their fear is that clients will simply crush their ideas and go on with business as usual - without any willingness to make the bold moves that their agencies are trying to get them to make. The bold things that the the brand was talking about when thy issued the RFP.
So, you’ve got all of these extremely bright people at the agencies thinking ahead of the curve, sometimes, without a peer counterpart on the brand side that can truly understand some of their bigger, better and stronger, more fully integrated IMC campaigns that the agencies are lobbying for. This is really where the issues begin.
So, what happens next?
It’s actually quite easy. The client side representative feels that if they drift away from their brand’s norm that they could perhaps lose their job. It’s the ole’ ,“Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM.” So, more times than not, the clients take absolutely brilliant creative campaigns and water them down until they feel like the final product isn’t going to rock the boat. This may make everyone feel better that they’re not deviating from the norm. However, they’re sure as hell not going to meet the desired results or even come close to surpassing their brand’s marketing objectives.
Now, you may be thinking that I’m making much ado about nothing. This may not seem so bad at face value, but agencies are in the business of selling their time. And, since the agencies have poured their long, passionate hours into campaigns that are designed to have an effect on the brand’s intended audiences. When the brand balks - all of those thousands of hours wind up being a waste of money because all that great conceptualization and thought winds up lining everyone’s trash cans.
End result? Tens of thousands of dollars are wasted because of lack of clarification that was discussed when things commenced.
What can be done to radically increase the efficiency of any brand’s marketing spend?
Generally speaking, firstly, brands need to create a center for brand excellence inside of their existing structure. This center should have a representative from each important part of the enterprise and these people should serve as the outward facing element of the brand that are interacting with the agencies. It may seem obvious, or perhaps impossible to some. But, how can a brand or any large enterprise not afford to build a center for excellence considering the amount of money that is currently being wasted? Building an interface that syncs with your agency or agencies will allow everyone to work more efficiently to achieve the brand’s objectives.
The title of this article was really just a play on words. The onus of controlling and optimizing the advertising spend truly lies on the shoulders of both the brands and the agencies. And, if the agency is less than honorable, the people that have been formally trained inside of the brands’ centers of excellence will be able to spot it early on and put an immediate end to it - saving a tremendous amount of time and money.
And, trust me on this one, the agencies will very much appreciate having a client that understands the big thinking that comes out of their doors. Currently, if you were to take a poll of agencies anonymously - they’d tell you that their counterpart at the brand side doesn’t really seem to understand their long term vision. Great agencies bring it to the attention of the higher ups, lesser agencies exploit it and sell through ridiculous ideas that simply allow them to bill a ridiculous amount of hours. But, in great quantum physics fashion - it’s the brand’s responsibility to balance their check books accordingly and not just partake in a bunch of marketing tactics because everyone else is doing it. They must hold their agencies accountable. If this starts happening then I’m sure that you’ll see a lot of things come up for bid.
Properly training everyone on both sides benefits everyone - period.
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Playing The TouchPoints Like a Concert Pianist
You’re not the only one looking at the calendar and thinking OMG it’s March. It’s because you’ve been busy keeping up with work, with relationships and perhaps with the kids. Can you only imagine trying to market something to just yourself with your somewhat insane schedule? It would be really tough wouldn’t it? Now take that thought and project it across the rest of the consumer base. That’s right, with everyone’s life being filled to the brim - they have very little time for anything that they don’t really want to participate it?
Now, try a little exercise, don’t think about the year as a whole, but rather think of it in terms of your typical, daily routine. Think about the time during the day when things are extremely frenetic and the other times when you actually have a few moments to catch your breath until you’re on to your next daily adventure.
Your days aren’t so dissimilar to those of the people that you’re trying to reach effectively on behalf of your clients on a day to day basis. Once you can begin to see the similarities and differences between yourself and the various kinds of intended audiences that your clients are trying to reach - you’ll be able to hone in on each individuals “consumer journey”. Effectively understanding what their day looks like and where would be your best opportunity to reach them.
For example, if you’re a middle aged woman with a couple of children then you’ll obviously find it easier to relate to someone that’s living in similar circumstances. You’ll also be able to spot the now seemingly vast, obvious differences between your day and the day of someone that’s across the spectrum like a single, 30’s something male. The value in little exercises like this is that they allow you to fully understand others’ days from lights on to lights off and greatly help you find the appropriate times and situations where and when you should be providing brand experiences. Based on where and when each individual audience will be most receptive to receiving your message. And, as we all know, these wheres and when vary greatly, but if you keep your mind sharp and limber than you’ll be able to construct magnificent IMC plans that afford you the opportunity of timing things as best as you can.
The real point imbedded underneath all of this fun is being able to understand how to effectively harness the power of each consumer touchpoint. Dare I say that one day you’ll be great enough to be able to play the touch points as great as a concert pianist tickles the ivories on their baby grand.
These types of things are fun to do, and once you get started seeing the world through all the various lenses of each particular segment then you can really have some fun by using the same techniques with your children and start to see the world as a child again.
And who doesn’t want to be a kid again? As a matter of fact, I always thought it was funny that we all seem to be in a hurry just so that we can act like kids again.
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Through the Lens Of The Consumer All The Way Down The Check-Out Line
Recently I put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard and composed a piece called lights on: lights off. This piece briefly discussed the absolute need to understand consumers from the moment they wake to the moment that they lay their heads on their comfortable pillows. This point regarding the need to fully understand consumers can’t be stated enough as it’s THE cornerstone of what we, as marketers, do. Without this knowledge - we are simply taking our clients money and flushing it down the toilet - that’s another piece that I’m writing entitled “ The Definitive Guide To Wasting Your Clients’ money.” That should be a hoot - you’ll be able to read it soon.
In any case, when we truly understand each consumers daily actions then, and only then, are we able to reach them with positive brand experiences when they’ll be most receptive to participating at whatever modality they so choose. It’s for us to be able to create a brilliant top-line strategy and an array of accompanying tactics that are 100% germane to the top-line strategy.
Inside of our understandings of the consumers sits a keen knowledge regarding each particular audience at key points of time throughout the day. In some cases, this will turn into the foundation for a brand’s strategy - just by itself. It’s very dependent on which part of the globe that one’s work is being done in. When I was doing some top-line, experiential strategy work for a major Soda manufacturer in the APAC region we, based upon our deep understanding of the local consumer base, decided that we were going to take over ownership of a particular hour. The hour wasn’t chosen at random, but it was selected because it was the hour that the audience consumed their after school snack. We knew this, of course, because we knew our intended audiences schedule from all of our insights. In this case, insights led immediately to action.
So, knowing everything about your intended audience can actually help you immediately land on a simple yet brilliant top-line strategy. In this particular example, we only conducted activities during one hour - the hour that we decided that we were a big enough brand to take ownership of. We had specials at the POS for the various retailers, we ran live brand experiences during this time and introduced coupons that were valid during our selected time frame. All of these clever tactics had been derived directly from our top-line strategy. It was perceived as a very smart campaign because of how bold of a move it was for a brand to essentially stake their claim by taking ownership an entire hour of the day.
Eventually, we shut out all of the competitive soda brands during this key time frame during the day of our intended audience. And, it was just the beginning as once we got a foothold - we kept adding tactics that delivered on the strategy.
The point of all of this can be drawn back to the very title of the article - We should always be looking through the lens of the consumer all the way down the check-out line. Indeed, this is really what it’s all about. Next time you complete an entire IMC program for a client - take a moment to dee if your thinking is 100% defensible by overlaying your marketing tactics with the average day of one of the members of your intended audience.
Monday, 25 February 2013
Consumer Behavior : A Cashless to Card-less to Key-chain Economy
While some consumers are still taking up the argument if the penny should still exist. They may want to expand their focus of their discussion because if they’ve noticed - ALL the cash is disappearing. No longer do most of us carry along torn and tattered 1,5,10 and 20 dollar bills or heavy pocketfuls of change. In perhaps the quickest evolution in consumer behavioral history - we’ve seen an entire shift of consumers getting so comfortable with technology (mainly due to convenience) so as to allow their bank information to freely flow from a small device on their keychain. Security Schmecurity!
It goes without saying that I love technology and that I’m always an early adopter of new technologies. There are many things that come into play when I decide to adopt new technologies - at the front of this list is always security. So, when it comes to putting, storing or giving financial information to people or leaving this information in places where’s it’s easy for even a new born hacker to get - I pause - then upon further thought I come to a screeching halt.
I often write articles about the seismic shifting, technological landscape. And as quickly as the rest of the technology sector is moving - NOTHING comes even close to outpacing this particular sector. Why? Primarily because the human condition dictates that we’re lazy. Secondarily, it’s a c3 marketplace - so those that master convenience, control and choice will grab marketshare all day everyday. As it just so happens it’s this particular technology that I happen to consciously not be moving ahead of the masses. No early adoption for me because I don’t particularly care for the ridiculous risk profile.
Having had many financial service institutions as clients over the years - I know that their chief concern is losing or compromising consumer data. Nobody wants to be the one on the front page admitting a breach. And, if you’ve been following this particular issue regarding enterprises’ security getting breached. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that there is a new trend in how a company divulges to the public that their information has been compromised. They wait several weeks to make any sort of vague announcement in the hopes that the news will be seen as yesterday’s news so that, by default, they won’t wind up on anything ahead of page 4. It’s been a subtle PR strategical move that I particularly find shameful.
In any case, the latest and the greatest news is that you’ve got the ability to wave an extremely small device and pay for all of your goods and services. Clearly, this is more convenient than having to fumble through paper and metal currency or, for that matter, even easier than having to hand someone a credit card and have to verify the purchase by signing your name on the dotted line - how draconian?!
Honestly, this new transactional, speed of light money space scares me. It scares me because everything intended to be a convenience can easily be exploited to attain your coveted, financial information. Granted this new technology is extremely disruptive to the current model and therefore appealing to many. It’s also certainly shaken up the way that consumers behave when it comes to paying for goods and services. What’s so surprising is that for a nation that was in no rush to conduct financial transactions over the internet due to safety concerns - they don’t seem to grasp the gravity of the situation as they’re lining up for this new technology. And truth be told, you’re much safer conducting a financial transaction on-line than you are dangling their digital bank account numbers on the end of their keychain.
Can we fully embrace this new technology at a time when financial data is being stolen at an alarming rate, and when it’s taken - the financial institutions aren’t as forthcoming as they should by alerting their customers in a timely fashion?
Now, there is always the defensible position that Visa and MasterCard etc will reimburse a consumer for any losses, but there are other major considerations beyond the simple “loss factor” that a consumer must consider.
Some of the major things that should concern people are the very simple fact that our brains are hardwired and have been for so long re: certain things - for something to come along and immediately disrupt this “old normal”can cause gargantuan problems! Especially if, like most humans, there are some very minor impulse control issues which, because of the new disruptive technology, now become much larger problems due to the velocity of the transactions.
There’s an analogy that can be made here to the seismic shifting mobile telecom space regarding the style of the communications. Now, all of a sudden with the new,disruptive technologies - new issues are rearing their heads. We went from taking lots of thoughtful time composing letters to acting on impulsive emotions that would have traditionally fallen by the wayside. The result, in the new mobile space, results in text messages being sent into the ethos without the sender really thinking through all of the ramifications. It took some time for us to re-hardwire our brains to the “new normal” of communications. I bet that everyone on this planet wishes they had a hundred or so text messages back that they sent.
What was the issue there? People didn’t go through the traditional, normal, hard-wired, process of taking the time to properly craft their message(s) and then having even more time to reflect on the content of the message rationally decide to send the letter.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. When everything surrounding the new technology comes to light then consumers will be able to make informed, intelligent decisions. Until that point, I can say that this is one of the very few technologies that I will not be jumping on board with because the risk profile is simply too high for my risk appetite.
For those of you with higher risk appetites - Bon Appetite!
Monday, 25 February 2013
HBR’s Look Ahead : Big Data Transforming The Art Of Persuasion (Blog)
I’m an avid reader of the Harvard Business Review. At first, I used to just buy it before international lights so that the people in the first class cabin would further try to untangle the mystery that is Erik.:) Ya’ see, they’d normally have asked me if I was in a band so with the introduction of the HBR, it would throw them for a total loop. It would drastically shorten the time between sitting down and asking the question, “ So, what do you do for a living.?” It was something that emerged pretty early on in my flying days so I decided that I’d have a little fun with it. I mean - why not? And for those of you that travel alto and strike up conversations with those sitting next to you - you meet some pretty interesting cats. I’ve met everyone along the spectrum including Nobel Prize winners, McKinsey winners all the way to the average Joe. I can honestly say that my travel conversations have been some of the most intellectually stimulating conversations that I’ve had. Heck, I had a 9 hour flight next to a world-class doctor that specialized in auto-immune disorders and we spent al 9 hours trying to figure out which set of diagnostics that I should go through next to try to figure out exactly what I’m dealing with.
OK - enough rambling......Now - let’s head back to this month’s HBR. Get ready for the catch phrase for 2013 and I’m sure beyond. The term I’m referencing is “Big-Data”. It’s the term affectionately given to the terabytes of data and information that all of the companies have on each one of us based on all of their tracking mechanisms that they’ve put into place. And since we spend a lot of time on our digital devices - the term data clearly wasn’t enough so they landed on the term “Big Data” - since they know just about as much about us as our significant others and family.
The Issue spends a huge allotment of it’s pages digging into the subject of big data when all of a sudden it takes a petty big freaking U-turn.
On page 77 in this month’s HBR there is an article entitled Advertising’s New Medium : The Human Experience.
After I finally got done cleaning my hot tea off of my table, computer screen and the magazine itself - I commenced reading the half drenched pages of the article.
Obviously it resonates with me as it will with the majority of you because it’s something that we’ve as practitioner’s been participating for quite some time.
I think what I found most interesting, and at the same time not-unexpected, is how the “big agency” writer re-brands the simplicity of the human experience. There’s a lot of coining catchy phrases in this article when it comes to the describing the process of integrating our programs into consumers every day life. Nothing against big agencies - I promise - they just have a history of rebranding things so that they sound like something else. The pinnacle of which was the attempted re-branding of the actual word brands into Love marks. And, not only were brands no longer brands - brands themselves, exclaimed the author, were dead! It seemed quite ironic since the gentlemen speaking was in the brand business, but perhaps it was just me. I remember sitting through that presentation (2004ish) thinking, “It can’t just be me thinking this, and this gentlemen is going to great lengths just to sell his latest book.
In any case, circling back to the recent edition of the HBR. The author breaks things into two categories. These categories are advertising requirements and examples of the these stated requirements. This is where is gets a bit kitchy. The requirements that must be met are, follow me here, “Public Spheres, Social Spheres, Tribal Spheres, and Psychological Spheres.” I’m not going to really do a deep dive into the article because regardless of how human experience is approached - the important thing is that human experience is being approached. More important than that - it’s being talked about in the Mecca of smart magazines, and this one just happens to have the title - Advertising That Works - How Big Data is transforming the art of persuasion. I’d say that it’s a great achievement.
So, when we take a few moments to reflect on things - we’ll chalk this one up as a VERY big win for the advancement of what we do for a living. We should all be grinning from ear to ear knowing that what we do for a living is now getting serious ink in very serious, intellectual magazines - that - and that alone - is a HUGE W on my scoreboard.
So, as we continue to work on the human experience and integrating our messages seamlessly into their lives - we should feel extremely confident knowing that the profession is heading in our direction.