31 January 2010

The iPad will be an important new channel, if Media evolves

It's not a TV, nor a PC, nor a Smart Phone and nor is it a Netbook, but some off all the above at the same time.

And when Steve Jobs sunk into a couch to show-n-tell, it was also the hint of who it's being primarily targeted at - the couch surfers.

Big iPad media deals are yet to be announced. The media industry that stumbled badly on the web,  a second chance through a device that can bring to life the mobile internet. They will however need to work to adapt their products & services and experiment.

Unlike content one got through the PC, in exchange for eyeballs and email address, I'd be willing to pay for customized content I value &  primarily for the ease of access & use. Steve Woznaik navel gazes, and puts it across nicely in just 90 seconds:

I also see the iPad as an option for publishers to sell & facilitate interactive experiences. TV broadcasters tried this with interactive TV, but failed as they were attempting to change passive couch behavior. But then, to start with the iPad is targeted at the couch surfers and we'll know soon.

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22 January 2010

The IKEA Social Media Campaign. @ the heart of great strategy is simplicity.

Genghis Khan 1221, the greatest of all the Khan conquerors of Asia, Middle East, Russia and most of Europe had these words engraved on a simple stone pillar, as a sort of spiritual signpost for his followers.

"I turn to simplicity;
I turn again to purity"

Today, there is no better advice for anyone developing interactive marketing strategy enabled by complex digital channels. Let alone social media marketing.

Simplicity, as they say, is not about being simple. It's the challenge of articulating what's evolved from a creative or complex thought process to address specific objectives, in a form that's easy to comprehend, execute & measure.

Eons ago, the great Drayton Bird  related a rather damning criticism of advertising once made by a client of his. "You advertising people.... you go very deeply into the surface of things, don't you?" Perhaps, that client would today remark  brands continue to stay put on the surface of digital marketing possibilities - focused on executing broad based, digital marketing efforts, that tick the display, email, search, social media, website, Widgets, Mash Ups, A/B Testing... boxes..., but are shallow on insights and complex in execution.

Amidst this scenario, the recent IKEA Facebook campaign inspired & made me envious at the same time.

The task was to engage people in the opening of a new IKEA store, ensure the campaign can stand on it's own legs and create a ripple effect to extend the campaign beyond the borders of Malmo.

The solution to me is elegant as it's centered around a popular activity (photo tagging) on a popular social network (Facebook) to address all of the above objectives.

The campaign mechanics were simple - an account was created for the store manager, 12 photos featuring catalogues were uploaded as his album, and taggers could be keepers. This simple idea was such a hit that demand for photos grew, the pictures spread to thousands of people via profile pages, newsfeeds & links to address the second part of the brief.

Importantly, all of this was done using existing features & functions. And could still provide key metrics to measure the campaigns success: # items tagged, # participation, # Conversational threads, Conversation Valence, mentions in other social & digital channels and offline coverage of the promotional campaign.

And lastly, the freshness of the idea and it's execution made it a "social object" even for interactive marketing practitioners like myself to post about it 2 months after the campaign!

The IKEA social media campaign is beautifully summarised in this video:

IKEA's Social Media Campaign rocked it. For all those involved in making this happen, congratulations and thank you for raising the bar!
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17 January 2010

The Changing Consumer Decision Journey

In June 2009, McKinsey released survey findings of research efforts to audit purchase decisions of 20,000 customers across the US, Germany & Japan. Called “The Consumer Decision Journey” it advocated a change in how marketing should change in response to how consumers were reaching outside the funnel, changing the way they research and buy products.

The summary of the findings, with credit to McKinsey, were IMHO, as follows:
  • Increased new channels and constant barrage of advertising, had led consumers to choose few brands/category than spends would suggest.
  • When consumers are ready to start the decision process, ignited by a new need, they actively look for information rather than wait. Digital channels have primarily driven this change.
  • The funnel now is circular rather than linear

  • Being in the initial consideration set is no guarantee you will remain there. Your weakest link, is most likely to let you down and you need to have focused plays across stages of the decision journey
  • Finally, it’s not a must a marketer needs to invest at every stage of the decision journey. Insights, budgets and brand’s priorities can be used to build more focus into the investments.
In the last 6 months since the piece was published, I have constantly thought of this framework to base a few of my interactive marketing strategy recommendations. Even if we haven’t gone through the whole of the research & implications with clients, the logic resonates and sells itself very well when we explain our recommendation  – This is where you are - this is where you want to be- these are how consumer decisions are being made - this is what we recommend you do - this is how we will track impact.

And more importantly, I have kept a track of how I am making buying decisions, and it’s not far from the truth.

The Consumer Decision Journey is a fascinating piece of research finding, if you have a McKinsey Premium membership. If you don’t, you the abridged version is a great start.
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16 January 2010

BIG Consumer Brands should invest more in Interactive Marketing. Why & How?

My simplistic take without the crutches of facts, figures & charts. But when the answer is obvious, one need not be complex.

The big consumer brands have it all. They have the brand name, insights, reach, distribution, equity, pricing models, and a huge base of existing customers etc…. And they know how to leverage channels of communication to reach & influence consumers.

But consumers across segments are, and will continue to adopt digital communication channels. This will be in addition to OR in partial replacement of the channels of communication that built these brands in the first place. The big consumer brands need to tackle this challenge head- on.

To follow and engage consumers 360, brands need in-house understanding &, preferably, hands-on experience in implementing marketing solutions across digital channels and Geos. This is imperative to develop insightful agency briefs, jointly build experimental hypotheses and evaluate solutions objectively. And also build relevant measurement & analytics around these marketing solutions - to track & learn from results.

Big Consumer brand companies, the likes of Coca Cola, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson Nokia, McDonalds, Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, Colgate etc… to name a few, have the most to lose and deep pockets. Now is the opportunity to shift gears in building in-house expertise, running experiments to scale and building a base of in-house local knowledge from these focused investments.

1. Building in-house expertise (People & Automation):
Assigning these responsibilities to a Brand Manager is not the solution. This is a specialist role and may not be optimally supported by a brand manager, who has other general business responsibilities. Ideally it should be a cross brand specialist digital marketing team. It’s also imperative individuals in this team are experienced in Integrated Marketing Communications, combined with deep understanding & experience across digital channels.
Start with existing, use SAAS models, agency platforms and build internally when there is a business case for sustained use of the proposed automation.

2. Running Marketing Experiments:
Articulating the communication problem for a digital brief is just one of the tasks that should be assigned to this team. In addition to planning measurement & analytics, they should work with existing insights & agency planners to develop a series of hypotheses that can be priortised for testing & scaling.

3. In-House Knowledge Base
Results from the experiments should be crystallized and shared. The team should also take on the responsibility of inculcating the practice & accelerating digital savvy across marketing first, and the broader company soon.

This, in my opinion, is one of the key challenges for big consumer brands today. Getting it wrong soon will help them stay on this or the equivalent list in the coming years

15 January 2010

Relationship Marketing building blocks - Process & Flows, Systems & People

In my experience from consulting for various B2B clients, when auditing for improvements in clients relationship marketing practices it's key to isolate Process & Flows, Systems & People in blocks.

Process & Flows refers to the client's campaign planning process, campaign flows designed to acquire, qualify, funnel, close & nurture prospects and measurement practices. The idea will be to then develop ideal process, flows & measurements, and pare them back based on what's feasible and what's immediately required. Since they have been pared back rather than added to, it's easy to scale for complexity and integrate testing seamlessly.

Systems Audit will comprise marketing databases, marketing infrastructure, marketing automation and lead management systems at the very least. In my experience, there's very little impact a consultant can make in this area for established practices. This is best done when the Process & Flows have been streamlined and they help identify system deficiencies to build a strong case for modifications/additions. Or when organisations are setting up this practice from scratch

People Audit is designed to identify resourcing & proficiency. This is a low hanging win, usually addressed quickly through outsourcing, in-sourcing, hires, workshops & training.

Also, best to have the owner of this practice brief and then deep-dive with key stakeholders to gather requirements, before designing the ideals & recommendations for all of the above.

This is a simplistic view based on years of experience and has worked for me. I'd like to hear your views & experiences to always improve it any day.

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14 January 2010

Did Brand Management die in 2009?

I found this great post today:
What is a Brand Manager and how will he/she play a role in building the 21st century?

I'd recommend you read Ryan Jones post.
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03 January 2010

Interactive Marketing OR Digital Marketing?

I just completed a good 10 years in Interactive, starting with humble banners ads to support IBM's Network Business campaigns in the late 90's - to today working across platforms & tools to design, test & measure Digital Marketing efforts covering Campaigns, Websites, Online Display, Email, Search, Social Media & Emerging Channels.

A recent read of a post by Colin Drummond, is inspiration for this short post to clarify misconceptions around the terms, “Interactive Marketing” & “Digital Marketing”.
  • Interactive Marketing is NOT the same as Digital Marketing and not to be used interchangeably. I agree.
  •  Interactive Marketing (thanks again Colin) is two-way communication, users and creators inter-dependent, the total experience not nearly as useful, interesting or entertaining if it’s only one-way. When Interactive Marketing is executed via Digital Channels, duh! it’s Digital Marketing.

But this interactivity can and should be extended across channels.

Good Interactive planning should encompass using insights/learning to define clear end goals, flows and  interfaces to facilitate two way interactions that aid completion of these goals - channel & technology agnostic.

Needless to say, measurement of key performance metrics of this 2 way communications across the decision journey & goal completions is a given.
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