December 23, 2008

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Ten Things NOT to Do in 2009 Don’t Panic. The earth will keep spinning on its axis and marketers of all stripes will need to communicate and persuade customers and prospects. Focus on the meat-and-potatoes issues in your business. Invest extra time and energy to find new ways to conceive, craft and transmit messages that better differentiate and more clearly communicate the value and the urgency of your brand. Don’t Get Distracted. The economy is in a free fall. Most of us hope Obama knows more than we do. We pray that he and all those new appointees have a really good plan. He might. But whatever he’s got won’t make things better on January 22nd. So focus on the stuff you can affect. Ignore things you have no control over. We all have to assume an AA mentality by grasping the notion that most things are out of our control so we have to use our time and energy wisely to impact the handful of things we actually can exert control over; mostly ourselves. Take a short term focus. Cover each month’s bills. Take one step forward after the next. Try to ignore the daily doomsday screeching and then endless warnings that the sky is falling down. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow. Great relationships are forged in adversity. Now is the time to stick close to your clients and your people. Mine and harness the energy, the goodwill, the advocacy, the insights and the and ideas that often go uncollected or unexploited during the normal course of business. Invest in each other. Hold up your value proposition to a 360 SWOT analysis. Find new and better ways to reach out your customers. Don’t Ignore Your Network. Social networking demonstrates that we are linked together. We are navigating this life together. So leverage your connections. Reach out to others. Ask questions, share ideas and share resources. The whole is stronger than the sum of the parts, so leverage the whole. Remember that the value of a network expands exponentially with use. An unused network degrades rapidly. Don’t Bring Coupons to a Party. Social media is evolving, emerging and morphing everyday. You wouldn’t come to a party at my house and pass out coupons. We’d think you were rude and gross. Facebook, MySpace and others are the digital online equivalents of that party. Understand the milieu and enter cautiously recognizing that the brand is NOT in control, consumers are. Take your cues from them and respect their sensibilities. Don’t Stop Experimenting. We are in the “wild west” phase of social, mobile and online video media. There are no ideas that are too crazy especially since our technologists are inventing, extending and mashing up new things daily. The recession makes these platforms and the creative content to fuel them affordable and measurable. So get below your competitor’s radar and play around with images, messages and media. Who knows maybe your nutty idea will become the new “best practices”? Don’t Ignore Mobile Media. The new generation of Blackberries and the iPhone are important steps on the evolutionary path toward a single multi-purpose device that combines, integrates, synchronizes and aggregates computers, the Internet, telephony, credit and debit cards, digital photography, Swiss Army knives and who knows what else. And while it might take a few years for the number of daily users to reach hundreds of millions, this phenomenon will be upon us before you can say “Tim Berners Lee.” That means now is the time to get familiar with mobile media. Begin thinking about the idea of constant access to the Net and constant consumer motion and communication. This development will forever change they way we stimulate brand awareness, preference and purchase and change shopping expectations and behavior in ways we can’t yet predict.. Don’t Write Off Direct Marketing. When marketing money gets tight, bean counters rule. Direct marketing continues to enjoy great public acceptance, strong ROI, measurability and an under-exposed degree of creativity and inventiveness. Direct mail, DRTV, telemarketing and other DM tactics are proven result-getters which can be pulsed or turned off and on at will. Expect smart marketers to default to direct marketing and look for smart DM players to do well in hard times. Don’t Forget to Measure What Matters. Most marketing is assessed two ways. We measure effectiveness in returning profitable business results and we count efficiency in terms of the value received compared to the cost, usually expressed in some form of ROI calculation. There are millions of other distracting and partially relevant things...
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Living Out Loud: Thoughts on Social Network Marketing Participating in social networks means living out loud. Posting and sharing information, ideas and images that heretofore wasn’t public has become the new favorite past time for hundreds of millions of people. Facebook, MySpace and others have taken every-so-often relationships and brought them to the forefront. Large numbers of people play around on these sites as a daily goof-off default mechanism. So now rather than hearing from that college buddy, a guy you worked with 5 years ago or your third cousin one or twice a year, you get daily updates on their mood, their activities or their opinions often illustrated with photos or videos. It redefines the notion of friendship and often produces way too much information. Depending on your demographic and how you were raised, telling all can be as natural as breathing or can require a massive change in mindset or sensibility. If you take the daily postings seriously you might get the idea that our millennial generation has become Star Trek’s - Borg – a single, global, all-encompassing organism composed of individual units connected to and controlled by a central brain. The combination of active participation and bemused voyeurism is fuelling continued growth not only among established networks, but is driving the development of new networks and new applications. Facebook has 200 million users and MySpace has 126 million. Blogging sites (Wordpress and Blogger) each attract more than 100 million users and Windows Live, Flickr, Yahoo Geocities and Hi5 all attract more than 50 million users each in the November 2008 ComScore analysis.. Membership in social networks has more than doubled in just three years according to the The 2008 Digital Future Project at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC. Fifty-four percent of members log in daily and 55% say they feel as strongly about online communities as they do about physical communities. Seven out of ten claim membership is “important” to them and is a vehicle for participating in social causes. The explosive growth of social networks has put social media on marketers’ 2009 agenda. Not only do social networks offer a new and potentially efficient media, they also offer the prospect for reaching consumers when they are in the mood for information, sharing, new ideas and interaction. Ideally social network marketing is not intrusive. Messages can be targeted to discrete opt-in audiences in ways that stimulate interaction, two-way communication, loyalty and purchase. So it’s not surprising that more than half of marketers in a survey of the Junta42 community plan to create more content and use more social media this year. All kinds of gurus are offering tips, guides and insights into these emerging channels. For a basic primer, check out Mark Dykeman’s Social Destinations of the Web. Here are a few things to help you separate the fantasy surrounding social networks from the reality evolving in front of our eyes. Be Where You Are Expected to Be. Customers expect the brands they care about to have an 800 number, a branded URL, a website and a page on their favorite network. If you aspire to customer intimacy, you need to be where your customers and prospects are and where they expect to find you. Louis Gray says to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed and YuTube are essential starting places. Think About Segmentation. It’s a fair bet that the 15-year-old nephew who “friended” me experiences Facebook much differently than I do. He and his pals have an entirely different sensibility about posting personal information and about what feels right in terms of sharing. Similarly there are probably few marketers that want to simultaneously reach me and him and even those few who might probably don’t want to speak to us in the same voice. It’s not yet clear what data is being collected or used to cue creative executions or suggest targeting, but one size will NOT fit all. Pictures Matter. Social networks have empowered everyone to become a photographer, director and editor. The traffic in images is incredible. Every amateur shutterbug now has an audience. Many of the most successful viral elements have been visuals so as you contemplate a branded message or a lead generation campaign or a product promotion ask yourself if you can communicate the message visually. Consider Context. If you understand how and why people use social media, your positioning and messaging will be much more effective. Social networks are not appointment media. They are frequently used either as default or escapist media that fill time and divert attention...

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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