Innovation – I heard an interesting quote today…

June 29, 2010

Henry Ford – “If I asked people what they needed they would have told me faster horses”

OK, call me slow. Everyone else has probably taken note of this quote before. Today, it hit me while I was pondering the gravity of change in and to the marketing and advertising community.

Are we solving the right problems? I question whether we are. In the advertising community I hear a lot about innovation around the dis-intermediation of the big players, like DSP capabilities. Why don’t we hear more about the efficacy and efficiency / relevance of advertising?

When you put the objective in the center of your strategy you begin to ask the right questions. Is your target customer in the center of your strategy?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!



Life, liberty and our belief in advertising

June 26, 2010

Headline – advertisements regarding restaurants, soft drinks, apparel or electronics are about 5 times more believable to consumers than political advertisements. Hmmm, watch out for the November mid-term elections!

There certainly appears to be a breach in consumer trust. Honestly, shouldn’t our political leaders be held to a higher standard than a can of soda? Really. Not that the can of soda is reputable, but we deserve the right to believe in our government. While shelf space is important to Coca Cola and Pepsi, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness “should” rank higher on the scale of believability in the minds of US consumers.

Love to hear your thoughts!


C to B Marketing

June 24, 2010

Consumer to Business - the new marketing communications modelPondering the thought this morning, I thought it a clever way to describe concepts marketers are struggling with today: consumer empowerment / consumers are in control, the need to listen to the voice of the customer, positioning in a world where consumers do much of the work for you, etc. It delivers the sense that the marketer is not the pinnacle of power they might think themselves to be. Or, maybe once were.

Yeah, yeah, the market has changed. Those changes have impacted the activity of marketers, at least successful ones, and have forever changed the relationship of businesses and their customers. Some call it social media marketing, I think it’s more aptly described as the new reality for brands and their marketers.

Is this the new marketing communications paradigm? The visual of “B2C” being flipped to a mirror vision, as the image to the left, creates a great visual for me… a guiding principle or light to the next generation of marketing.

Love to hear your thoughts!


Forrest Gump was a mass marketer

June 11, 2009

forrest-gump-chocolates“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonnaget'”. Yeah, right… in a mass marketing spray and pray world, sure!  But  Lieutenant Dan…

It’s a marketers job to figure out which chocolates taste best and then figure out how to find more of just those. Most people would think this is a great place to stop. I think we should also go and figure out how to find bigger chocolates! Forget the box Forrest, pull up a truck!

mandm-persoWouldn’t be a great world if we could each go to a Godiva store and order a box with your name on it, with just your selection of chocolates… “I’d like a box of Mark Ogne, please”. You may not know this, but did you know you can order personalized M &M’s? What a cool idea… check it out!

Online consumers are driving changes in off-line purchase behavior

March 24, 2008

“…The sluggish economy is punctuating a cultural shift enabled by wired consumers accustomed to comparing prices and bargaining online, said Nancy F. Koehn, a retail historian at the Harvard Business School… Call it the eBay phenomenon…

This quote is from an excellent article in the 3/23/08 New York Times. The author, Matt Richtell, sites quotes from spokes people and shoppers of stores including Home Depot, Ralph Lauren, Best Buy, and Circuit City. As well as analysts from Wachovia and Pacific Crest Securities.

Highlighted is the point that this is revolutionary as consumers shifted away from haggling as a method of conducting purchases back in the 1850’s. 

This is a great example of the consumer empowerment theme of this blog. In the “About” section I described it further… driven by the adoption of technology and acquisition of the “perfect knowledge” typically held by the brand marketer, consumers have turned the hand of marketing teams for leading retailers. The NYT author described it as “…Savvy consumers, empowered by the Internet and encouraged by a slowing economy…”

It’s interesting to read examples of how consumers executed two key strategies:

  1. Online research -> developing a target product selection and then research prices. These prices were then used as ammo to drive sales people on the retail floor to lower their prices.
  2. Play “good cop / bad cop” with sales people.

In the end, consumers and their changing habits have changed the course for their relationship with selected brands. In this case, lowering prices.

Love to hear your thoughts –


With every season… turn, turn, turn

March 18, 2008

A marketers’ world has typically changed with the turn of generations. However, the past 10 years have produced a chasm of change that have left many marketers reeling in their attempt to adapt.

Early on in the Internet era, people used to joke about “Internet years”, implying that time moved even faster than dog years.

The issue at hand is that online marketers built organizational structures and strategy that were built upon a premise that did not include learned marketing principle, even beyond the “dot bomb” days. Rather than focusing on targeting consumers and their needs, they focused on the optimization and development of technology or communication channels, such as email, banner ads or website.

Today, most online marketers are trying to manage systems that are not designed to address the problems of the day. The issue at hand is a massive shift in the needs and intellect of a consuming public, the developed systems view consumers as a more or less homogeneous group, leveraging the relationship with each across numerous silos. None of which can effectively leverage the learning of the other, or extend the relationship with customers beyond individual transactions.

I have to imagine that any CMO or CEO reading this blog entry would be hard pressed to support their current organizational, technology or budgetary systems as being sufficient. Hind sight is almost always 20/20. However, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that the solution be a completely disruptive innovation.

As with most things in life, the 80/20 rule is a good approach to leading change. Start with the areas of your business that are most valuable from the perspective of the end recipient, the prospect or customer. Decompose your processes and high-value communication threads, across communication channels, and find the appropriate opportunities to continue a dialog. The solution doesn’t need to be end-to-end, especially from the beginning. Focus on the areas that are high-value and build your approach over time.

In the end, the leading issue to solve is strategic approach. Most companies have an organizational investment in channel based communications, while the solution lies in consumer based needs – acquisition, retention/up-sell.

I’d love to hear your thoughts –


Are the problems we face really that new?

March 17, 2008

consumer behaviorI once met an old man who was the first grocery store owner to use shopping carts, in what is now a rather large metropolitan market. This conversation has stuck in my mind for many years because this person was a true revolutionary.

Today, we take his dilemma for granted, but in that time shoppers were accustomed to handing a list to a shopkeeper and for that person to collect the items. From the moment in time where he brought shopping carts in to the store and opened up the aisles for others to browse in, he both opened up a whole new chapter in consumer oriented marketing and he had to figure out how to entice his shoppers to do what might have been considered work for others to do. It was a huge hurdle to overcome.

In many regards, he faced more difficult problems than what we faced in the genesis of online retail adoption and development of marketing principles. He didn’t have to figure out how to get consumers to use a virtual shopping cart rather than a physical one, he had to figure out how to get consumers to actually learn to shop.

It’s precisely these types of stories we need to remember when we feel we don’t have guiding innovators, or that we have insurmountable problems. In fact, many of the principles we use today in online marketing are directly parallel to what these same retail grocers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers faced well over 60 years ago: how do we differentiate a product, who is the target audience, and how do we affect or aid in the transition of consumer behavior?

I’d love to hear your thoughts –


The changing consumer -> the adoption of technology -> the changing role of a marketer

March 11, 2008

consumer marketing evolutionRecently I read that a kid entering middle school today has been subject to more information than a scholar of the late 19th century. Information and commercial communications are bombarding consumers at an unheard of rate, and it’s only escalating.

The adoption of technology, specifically the Internet, has empowered consumers who are now able to amass the “perfect knowledge” previously thought to be held by brand marketers. In the past, these marketers would gather this information and then sift it through their “brand filter” to distill the appropriate message, shining a kind light on their offering for their target audience. Today, these same consumers have access to the “unfiltered” information and a marketers job is forever changed.

Consumers now have the ability to transcend traditional boundaries of geography, time, and communication channel to gather their own impression of a marketers offering. This empowerment has increased their savvy, creating less patient consumers who simply expect more from their trusted brands.

This consumer transition can be viewed as a parallel relationship between the adoption of technology and both the increase of visitor knowledge and the inpatients it has rendered to consumers. Through this transition, consumer reaction to and consumption of traditional communications has dropped. The really unfortunate thing is that marketers have reacted to this by doing more of what was becoming less efficient, trying to beat their message into the minds of their target audience. In turn, this increase in the communications drum beat is further deafening the ear of consumers. Making the whole issue even worse.

I’d love to hear your thoughts –


Customer voice… or is it a scream?

March 11, 2008

Social marketing, customer voiceMuch has been written about the groundswell of participation in social commerce initiatives. This technology has become a new channel of communication for many organizations, providing a great way for their consumers to contribute content for their peers consideration and a great way for marketers to hear how well they’re doing in their relationship with their customers.

I have to ask the question… is this really what consumers see this functionality as? I don’t think so. My belief is that consumer participation in social commerce initiatives is more an indicator of their core need to see relevant content. They feel so strongly about this need that they’re willing to write the damn content themselves.

Years ago the web promised to be the relevant content that consumers were going to flock towards, yet to this point, most of the relevant content on the web has either been delivered via a self described need on the part of the consumer (i.e. search engines – enter a keyword, get relevant content), or consumer generated content (i.e. social commerce or networks). So, where have the marketers been in this equation? On the commerce, customer voice

Regardless of whether or not my point is accurate, the cat is out of the bag. Consumers have a ton of control over the success of marketing initiatives and marketers are left trying to figure out strategy in a new world of consumer empowerment.

Love to hear your thoughts –


Personalization versus Targeting

March 10, 2008

website personalization, dynamic targeting

I’ve read articles and blog replies where others try to distinguish between the terms personalization and targeting, referring to personalization as one-to-one and targeting as one-to-many. As a person who has actually created terms and pioneered strategy in this marketplace, I see the two as more or less synonymous with far fewer distinguishing dimensions than others see.

While trying to create a communications strategy for Kefta’s multi-channel personalization solutions, we determined early on that we wanted to distance ourselves from the failed software based personalization solutions of the late ’90s. They were an expensive, IT driven failure. The key failure was that they were too “heavy” a solution to ever get off of the ground. From a marketing strategy perspective, they were a failure because they relied upon users to self express differences before they could start targeting content, and they simply served a different message, as if that was supposed to be better than the original message.

Targeting became a term that was descriptive yet avoided a reference to the prior perceived failures of what was called personalization in the late ’90s. Using this learning as a guidepost, we landed on “dynamic targeting”. Prior to our use of this term, little was used with reference to targeting and no one in the online marketing space had ever used the combined term “dynamic targeting”.

Today, few people use the term personalization as a description of a type of technology. It’s more frequently used as describing a type of experience, leveraging the term personal. Beyond that, personalization has been a dead term and trying to describe it beyond it’s prior history is futile.

Love to hear your thoughts –


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