Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

User Generated Content – The Future of Media is Here

I just got an email from my aunt. The email asked me to go to YouTube and watch my young cousin’s new stop motion movie. Besides being a little too centered on violence for my taste, I think he did a pretty good job for his first film.

When I watched it, what came to my mind was that he probably had more fun and got more enjoyment out of making that video than he would have gotten from a week of watching TV. I think one of the fundamental desires of humans is the desire to be creators. It is a powerful drive that has given rise to art and empire alike. Organizations that figure out how to encourage and empower people to be creators as part of their marketing and PR will be harnessing a power much greater than the power of the best traditional marketing campaign.

3 Things I took away from Podcamp Seattle

I usually hate using terms like “take away”, but I really did take a lot away from the recent Podcamp Seattle.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with podcamps, go to http://podcamp.pbwiki.com/PodcampSeattle.Three of the things I took away are:

1. a new appreciation of tagging. All of the attendees were given small labels and a pen and were told to tag our fellow attendees. It really revealed to me the social importance of tags and tagging.

2. a renewed hope for the future of marketing. Among some of the great sessions were some really good ones on social media and marketing. Eric Weaver and Patrick Byers gave two of my favorite sessions. Eric Weaver, of Edelman Digital, spoke about the need for organizations to embrace the social media space and gave some great direction for how to start.

Patrick Byers, of Outsource Marketing, gave a presentation all about social media marketing for social good. Through great examples of people changing the world, Byers showed how doing the right thing is not only right, but a good business move as well. Check out Patrick’s slideshow here.

3. new connections with real people. Just like the real power of social technologies, the real power of Podcamp Seattle could be found in the connections that people were making with each other. To me, that is what social media is all about. I met a lot of great people who are doing great things.

Socially Responsible Marketing…Can Liquor Marketing Be Responsible?

For pretty much all of my life, liquor commercials on television have been few and far between.  I believe their was some sort of prohibition on TV ads for hard alcohol products.  I am not sure whether or not this was self-regulated or an FCC thing.  To me, the only reason to prohibit ads from being on TV is if you believed them to be socially irresponsible.  In this case, it seems that the prohibition says that there is no way to responsibly market hard alcohol on television.  I’m not sure that I agree with this.  I think that there is a way to do responsible marketing for hard alcohol products on television.  If cable TV can broadcast adult shows, why can’t the marketers of adult products advertise on those shows?  What is the taboo there?  What do you think?  

Socially Irresponsible Marketing — BMW’s new commercial stoops low.

I just saw a new BMW commercial that is, in my opinion, the epitome of irresponsible marketing. The commercial starts as a couple of depressed-looking business men wearily pedal their bicycles up hill on a gray, rainy morning. The camera then cuts to an equally depressed business man riding a dreary public bus. Jump cut to a shot of a sign from a European petrol station displaying high prices. Then, Mr. Voice Over Guy announces that “Where we come from, high fuel prices are nothing new.” Just then, a shiny new BMW passes the bikers and the bus rider who follow the car with their longing eyes while Mr. Voice Over Guy brags about the number of fuel efficient vehicles that BMW produces.

So how is this socially irresponsible? As the debate rages about energy independence and we race towards peak oil, to paint public transportation and bicycling in such a negative light is despicable. BMW could have made the same point by showing other drivers in giant SUV’s lining up at gas stations and emptying their wallets. But no, instead BMW chose to attempt to stigmatize transportation options that actually make a positive difference in our world. That, my friends, is socially irresponsible. I wish I could afford a BMW just so I could intentionally not buy one!

If you’ve seen this commercial, let me know what you think. If you haven’t seen it and you still have an opinion, let me now that, too. Am I off base?

*********** Update ***********

In response to all those who have argued that BMW, and other corporations, are not concerned and should not have to be concerned with social responsibility in marketing, I wanted to share what I just read on BMW’s corporate website:

“The BMW Group sets new standards in the automotive industry. As an international company, we here at the BMW Group feel socially and ecologically responsible for everything we do, everywhere in the world.”

This information, along with some info on some really good and responsible things that BMW is doing can be found by clicking here and then choosing “Responsibility”.

It is not my intention to beat up on BMW.  If it has seemed that way, that is my fault.  However, I stand by my severe disapproval of the marketing found in the commercial in question. I do hope that they continue to try to improve on their commitment to social responsibility, especially in their marketing activities. 

Non-profit Marketing and Building Your Database

Christopher Penn’s latest blog entry on the value to non-profit marketers of building your database got me thinking. I won’t regurgitate what Penn said, but I would like your feedback on it. To read his entry click here.

My initial reaction is to agree that it is very important to gain actionable information from your campaigns…email addresses, phone numbers, etc. And, I also agree that awareness raising campaigns that are only awareness raising campaigns may not be the most effective use of marketing dollars. However, where I disagree is that I don’t believe direct marketing through email is the most effective use of marketing resources either.

In my opinion, the most effective way an organization such as a non-profit can do marketing is to build real relationships. Instead of relying on one-way communication such as email or banner ads on MySpace, organizations should creatively try to engage people on a level that gets them to invest in the cause past providing an email address. How will they do this? It really depends on the cause or the organization. One-size-fits-all marketing tactics are tired. New social media technologies like Twitter allow people and organizations to make real connections that widgets don’t. Widgets may not be en vogue next year, but conversation and connection has always been around.

To do this, non-profit marketers will need to forget that their title is “marketer” and start thinking like an organizer. To think like an organizer means that marketers will need to forget the traditional marketing tools and start looking for what will get people to take ownership in the cause. This may bed slower and less sexy, but I believe the long-term results of such marketing will make the sweat investment worth it.

Let me know what you think.

Non-Profit Marketing and Social Technologies: Who’s doing it well?

I am a firm believer in the power of social technologies like blogs, podcasts, Twitter, etc., to help organizations like non-profits tell their stories to the world.  Businesses have lead the way into the world of social technologies and marketing.  Where are the non-profits?  Who is out there using these new technologies to connect with their stakeholders?  A couple of examples I know of are Epic Change and their use of Twitter, YouTube, and blogs and The Nature Conservancy‘s use of podcasting. What organizations do you know of that are using social technologies well? What seems to be working and what isn’t?

Marketing 4 Change Podcast – Episode 3: Your responses to my question about non-profit marketing.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to my blog post about non-profit marketing. This episode of the podcast features your comments and my responses.

To download this episode, right click the button below and “Save as”

The Marketing Wisdom of Kung Fu Panda

My wife just took me on a study break field trip to watch Kung Fu Panda. It is a cute movie that is definitely worth seeing. Aside from enjoying a night out with my wife, I came away with three pieces of wisdom that most definitely apply to marketing in the age of social media. If you haven’t seen the movie and are really concerned about not having the plot spoiled, stop reading now. Everyone else, read on.

1. Let go of the illusion of control.

In the movie, Po’s master, Shifu, is taught by his master, Oogway, that he must give up the “illusion of control” when it comes to the Dragon Warrior. Master Oogway might as well have been talking to the marketing departments of corporations and non-profits alike who think that they can still control the message. Just as Shifu could not control who the Dragon Warrior would be, organizations can not control the message that people hear about their organizations. Sure, they can try, but with the rise of consumer generated content and the death of mass media looming on the horizon, what’s being said about the organization will carry far more weight than what the organization is saying. The much more sustainable approach in this social media environment will be for organizations to stop trying to control the message, and instead, join the conversation in a real, honest manner.

2. Be yourself. Following what seems to work for everyone else won’t work for you.

Po, the pudgy, seemingly inept Panda, couldn’t do the most remedial of the traditional training exercises the kung fu masters could. As a result, his master thought Po could never be the Dragon Warrior…that is until he discovered what motivated Po. As it turns out, Po was motivated by food. When Shifu realized that he would have to train Po differently than the others, Po’s training took off. Like in the movie, realizing what your organization’s “motivation” is will go a long way to making your marketing more effective–not to mention more fun. Too many organizations are adept at throwing around the latest buzz words when they are discussing their marketing plans. What they seem to be unpracticed at is being honest about who they are as an organization and what they really have to say. What I would suggest to those organizations is forget who you think you should be and be yourself!

3. Their is no secret ingredient.

Po finally became the Dragon Warrior when he realized that the dragon scroll held no secret and that being himself was enough. What, you ask, is the secret ingredient organizations seek after? Well, I’m glad you asked. I know I’ll get into some trouble for attacking this sacred cow, but, in my opinion, organizations spend way to much energy and effort thinking and talking about “brand.” “Brand” is a metaphysical construct that is increasingly loosing its relevance. I say good riddance to “brand.” The idea of forgetting about “brand” is almost directly related to letting go of the illusion of control. However, forgetting about “brand” goes a step further. Forgetting about “brand” means that an organization realizes that who they are perceived as varies from person to person and can change with each interaction they have with someone. Forgetting about “brand” can only happen when organizations start to realize that they themselves are citizens of the world that are on a level playing field with their customers/constituents. Forgetting about “brand” means organizations must come down from their ivory towers. To do this, they have to stop “communicating” and start “conversing” with their markets and constituencies. They must do so in a human voice, and, more importantly, they must listen.

The power of suggestion in social media marketing: here is what I suggest.

Below you will find a suggestion that I made for a Father’s Day gift on the website ThisNext.com. I just found the site because of a contest to give away a Vespa. However, I am intrigued by the possibility user-generated marketing in this way. It took me a second to decide what I would recommend via this site, but I finally came up with what you see below.
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Charitable Gift Giving | Donate a Goat to Heifer International

Want a great Father’s Day gift? Purchase a goat through Heifer International and help provide nutrition for a family that desperately needs it. What better way to celebrate someone who provided for your lazy ass for so long than by providing for a deserving family in your Dad’s name? It’s a great way to make up for those seven years you spent in college drinking away his hard-earned money. I promise that he will love it! (via Heifer International)

Delta Skelter — Delta Airlines shows us how to NOT join the conversation.

Ok…Let me start by saying that I am currently 120 pages into Joseph Jaffe’s book Join the Conversation. I am trying frantically to finish it tonight (I’m a horribly slow reader) for my paper that is due on Monday morning. I highly recommend the book to anyone looking to help their organization remain relevant in a networked world.

With that being said, I have spent the last day wondering what exactly Joseph Jaffe’s Twitter avatar meant.
delta airlines, bad customer service
From the start, though, I knew it wasn’t good news for Delta. This intrigued me as I have already booked a flight on Delta for next Thursday. I am flying to Seattle with my wife to look for a house there. I am excited about the trip, but pretty skittish about the flight, now. When I finally got a chance to check out Jaffe’s blog, I found out what the avatar was about. I suggest giving it a read.

As illuminating as the post is about the failures of Delta’s customer service, the mistake that jumped out at me the most was the way Delta chose to respond to the blog post. Here is Delta’s comment:

Hi Joseph,

It’s Katie from the Delta Blog. My apologies for your experience.

You may have noticed when checking out our site that our Customer Care department has recently attempted to outline the most efficient processes to help resolve our customers travel complaints.

Nancy wrote one post on this topic a few weeks ago that comes to mind (it responds from a Delta perspective to an article by Joe Brancatelli at Portfolio):
http://blog.delta.com/2008/05/19/ten-tips-for-resolving-a-travel-complaint/

As she outlined, the first step is to email our Customer Care department so that they can address your situation and make it right:
http://www.delta.com/emailus/servlet/EmailUs?cmd=go

I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you have any suggestions for future posts on this topic or others?
http://blog.delta.com/contact-us/

Best, 
Katie

That, in my mind, is the perfect example of how to NOT join the conversation.  To scold a customer for not following Delta’s preferred channels, no matter how cordially, is one thing, but did she not realize she was scolding Jaffe in front of the world?  What would have been wrong with engaging the conversation in a real way?  How about addressing the issue right there on the blog for all of the readers to see?  Is transparency too much to ask for from corporations?  

Someone might say that too much transparency would lead to people trying to “game” the system to get free flights.  In that case, I would say the real problem is Delta’s service.  Fix service issues and you will have no reason to give away flights.  Be honest and transparent when things do go wrong, and you will get PR and marketing that you just can’t buy.

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UPDATE

Here is another example of how command and control in communications is viewed by customers in a networked world (example via Twitter):