Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'm Moving to My Own Blogging Site is the new home for this blog.

After more than a year enjoying Blooger/Google as my host its time to have my own site and upgrade the funtionality of my bloging system. So now I'm a Go Daddy and Typepad blogger!

I hope you will continue to keep up with my take on real life advertising and marketing issues.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New Versus Old Media Manipulation

Two closely placed stories in the Media & Marketing section of the Wall Street Journal point out the significant differences between old fashioned interrupt media and online opt-in media.

The February 15th advertising column celebrates a media scheduling innovation in which American Express ran three separate 30-second spots back to back during “60 Minutes” on CBS, “Lost” on ABC and “Law & Order on NBC.” In so doing they grabbed 90 consecutive seconds of attention from whoever was watching that commercial pod.

Radical huh?

Taking the classic TV “roadblock” (running the same spot at the same time on several stations/networks) and making it vertical gave AMEX the video equivalent of multi-page magazine spread. Net net – this breakthrough maneuver created a greater than normal shot at reaching and engaging target audiences.

That’s what it’s come to – when TV actually gets a homogeneous desirable group of viewers on one channel at one time you gotta leap all over them; at least those of them not in the bathroom, not in the kitchen or not using their Tivo.

Compare this amazing new wrinkle with the facing story on Daily Candy, a series of 11 daily, opt-in one-page newsletters aimed at fashion-forward younger women which was created by Dani Levi and sold in 2003 for 3.5 million to Bob Pittman of AOL and MTV fame. Now Bob is peddling this mini-empire as a targeted content play. It is expected to attract bids as high as $100 million.

Compare the massive run up in value of a highly targeted, vehicle where readers decide which content they want and when they want it versus the need to manipulate the biggest cumulative audiences on broadcast TV to get a little attention, awareness and recall.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Why Ad Agencies Can't Respond to John Stratton's Warning

Verizon Wireless CMO John Stratton went to Ad Age’s “Hollywood and Vine Conference and told the 400 ad agency poobahs what every client in American already knows -- the ad agency business is overwhelmingly focused on itself NOT on clients.
His eight point indictment explicitly articulated what many clients have been thinking for quite a while. His points were …

1. Your clients are absolutely in trouble and they are looking for you to save them.
2. What you've been selling for the last fifty years no longer works.
3. Major marketing money is going to be in motion in the next decade and no one really yet understands exactly where it will land, if it even will land, or if it will just disappear altogether.
4. Before they figure out where to put their money, your marketer clients will hire and fire agency after agency, seeking someone, anyone, who can tell them where they might go next.
CMO average tenure, already famously brief, will get even shorter as CEOs begin to recognize how much money they are blowing on antiquated media plans.
5. Your marketer clients are really seeking one thing and one thing only: An audience for the message they are trying to convey to the market place.
6. But your clients actually need more than just an audience. One of the consequences of the evolution of our media delivery systems over the last ten years is that the audience you do ultimately find is much less receptive to the message you're trying to send.
7. They are absolutely armed and ready to get to the content they want while avoiding the message you are trying to implant within it.
8. They need much more than an audience. They need an audience that cares about what they have to say. They need their message to be relevant to the audience they are saying it to.

Yet the real question is not whether agencies can hear the message. The real question is whether they can do anything about it. Consider these points that suggest that agencies are so far out of alignment that they will NEVER BE ABLE to answer Stratton’s clarion call.

1. Agencies have very thin subject matter expertise. They know damn little about the business and even less about the interior structures and processes of their client’s businesses. Long shut out from strategic councils and often only linked to the Marketing Communications department, they just don’t know how the client’s business works, what the levers are or how to influence the demand drivers or the dynamics of the supply chain.

2. Agencies are in their own way. Locked into bureaucratic and hidebound processes to conduct market research and produce TV commercials, they have little understanding of trade relations and even less understanding of relationship marketing techniques and the evolving new media used to communicate with a diverse, dispersed and distracted set of target audiences.

3. The holistic and integrated approach is a whole lot of bullshit. The TV and print guys rule. They give lip service to online and emerging media but they don’t get it. Adding an 800 number or a URL to an ad is still considered a slight to the creative team. The notion of sequencing, simulcasting or integrating messages or audience segments among media is a foreign idea which is perpetuated by siloed departments and competing units. Even at the holding company level, very few campaigns can bring a sophisticated, multi-channel campaign to life in a way that measurably impacts client’s business.

4. They think the whole game is the message. They don’t get the notion that advertising and marketing is about throughput – finding, engaging, qualifying and incenting likely customers to buy. If a commercial tests well or the placement gets decent ratings they are done. Bringing customers through the pipeline is outside their worldview.

5. They measure the wrong things. Clients want to know what they got for their marketing spending. If they spend $10 they want to know if they got $100 in business in return. Agencies don’t have access to the data or expertise to count and measure the impact of their work. Instead, agencies want to talk ratings and recall scores. But don’t ask about the efficiency of their processes or how much it costs to create an ad with 30 words of copy and a photo.

6. They can’t make money any other way. Agencies are locked into production processes, project management procedures and cost elements that prevent them from changing. Having been hammered into commodity pricing and benchmarked to death during 3 years of recession, agencies can’t afford to find or hire the new expertise they need to survive. The people who run agencies still think they are living in the Oglivy and Bernback era. In fact most of them came up during that period and have been befuddled ever since. And frankly the kind of people they need would never be caught dead working in a traditional ad agency where a few egos rule the roost, where there is zero training or career development, where technology is several generations back and where there are few players with advanced degrees or specialized skills.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blow Up Your Own Marketing Plans!

Marketing exists to identify, speak to, connect with and prepare prospects to buy. Everything a marketing department does -- from creating the logo and the brand promise to the ads, e-mails, collateral and t-shirts is designed to achieve this goal. Yet too often marketers fall in love with the marketing programs and under deliver qualified sales leads .

Why ? Two good reasons.

First many marketers don’t have the data to see what is going on. They are devoted to their newsletters, their webcasts, their roadshows or their white papers which they fought tooth and nail to create, fund and coordinate internally. They don’t have access to the sales pipeline or don’t carefully mine the CRM system to see what is working and what is not.

In some cases they measure satisfaction with the tools but don’t measure how these tools drive prospects through the pipeline. They know which webcast was liked the best, but they don’t know how many of the webcast viewers turned into closed deals or when.

Consider the example of a marketing team that built an information portal aimed at their target prospects. They assumed that there was a hunger for information about their sector and they figured that if their brand provided this information, prospects would be more open to buying from them.

Over 2 years they invested time, people and cash heavily in collecting, editing and displaying every bit of content they could find. They built a huge content archive and a database of 200,000 names and invited them by e-mail to visit the portal every month. In a year they delivered 2.4 million targeted impressions beckoning prospects to drink from their font of information.

Recently someone crunched the numbers. In 2005 less than 2000 of the 200,000 came to portal and read something. Fewer than 200 came back 3 times or more. And nobody knows if any of the 2000 were customers, were promising prospects or had anything to do with the organization’s salespeople. Now there’s anxiety in marketingland and the team is reluctant to change or abandon the portal they fought so hard to create and maintain.

Second, it is so hard to get anything done in a large corporation and the emotional investment is so great that marketers become prisoners of their programs. Getting an idea through a matrixed bureaucracy requires enormous effort, time, adrenaline, patience and political finesse. Nobody whose been through the process is about to blow up their end product and head back into the fray willingly.

A different team of marketers developed a sophisticated scoring system to filter, rank and interact with web visitors. They developed a credible marketing program and drove 60,000 leads into their pipeline based on the scoring model. They presented these results to the board and everyone got a bonus.

Then someone began to go through the numbers. Half of all the leads that were identified by the scoring model turned to dust in the tele-qualification process. Another 15 percent turned to dust early in the first real interaction with salespeople. The program was onto something but it was far less effective than advertised upward. Nobody was willing to spill the beans or jeopardize their new-found status and few were willing to re-jigger the model which they'd touted so heavily.

Yet if marketers are going to successfully fight for more resources and fight for greater visibility in the corporate decision -making process, continuous process improvement has to be their mantra. Marketers have to become more mercenary in assessing and editing the programs and ideas they bring forward.

It’s about the end result. It’s not about how cleaver, elegant or unusual the marketing tactic is. And with the growing use of CRM and automated marketing services, it is becoming easier and easier to understand and measure throughput.

A relevant metaphor is Ariel Sharon, the comatose Israeli prime minister, known for quickly abandoning tactics in service to a larger strategy. Sharon never fell in love with the trees but he consistently focused on the forest.

He built and then dismantled settlements, invaded and then withdrew from Lebanon, swung far right then zigzagged back to the center each time dumping programs he himself constructed and advocated. And while the jury of history is still out, most Israelis believe he has advanced their cause and protected their security better than anyone.

In a measured universe, marketers have to keep their eye on the ultimate measurement – closed deals. They must track their contributions against that metric. The most successful marketers will be the ones who keep their eyes firmly on the sales prize and regularly blow up their own tactics.
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