Monday, March 23, 2009

Twitter explained.

This video hit the bullseye. Supports my post below that Twitter is best used as a wiki -- not a public diary.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What I've learned about Twitter.

I'm approaching my one year anniversary on Twitter (@wikimurph). My first tweet? "Mountain biking in OC." For some reason I felt the world needed to know that. One year and hundreds of tweets later I've learned the true value of Twitter.

Twitter is a real time wiki. Although Google won't admit it, Twitter is a search engine, not a "poor man's email" as it was recently derided by Eric Schmidt. Twitter allows us to tap into the brainpower of people around the world, trusted advisers and total strangers alike.

Over time I noticed that I've gravitated toward people who write tweets that share knowledge ("just saw a presentation about...), tweets that pass along a provocative observation ("has anyone noticed that..."), tweets that point me toward content I might not otherwise have stumbled upon ("check out this site..."). I am following brand strategists, marketing gurus, social media wonks, designers, pop-culturists from Sydney to Sao Paolo. In turn, I have folks around the world following me, including my two teenage daughters (odd time we live in!).

I know I'll still write the occasional narcissistic tweet ("exciting dive today!"), but I've learned I have to give if I want to get. The community gets better when we share something interesting.

I'd write some more, but I'm heading out for a ride. ;)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The IDEO of marketing communications?

I’ve long been a fan of IDEO, the product innovation and design company, and have been thinking about what an advertising agency can learn from how they work. What would the “IDEO of marketing communications” look like?

I first encountered IDEO when ABC news did a story on the firm. Nightline sent a team to the Bay Area company to chronicle a condensed three-day version IDEO’s innovation process, but didn’t reveal the brief until the day before the cameras arrived. Their assignment – reinvent the grocery shopping cart.



Take a look at these videos, served up in three parts. (Disclosure: these videos are sold on abcnews.com. Although I lifted these from YouTube, I bought a copy three years ago.)

IDEO and an advertising agency are in the same business, albeit with different outputs. We both create imaginative ideas to help marketers grow. IDEO’s solutions tend to be 3-dimensional products. An agency’s end product tends to be online and on TV.

IDEO’s process is fluid, evolving to meet different engagements. But the core seems to be defined by four key principles:
  1. Inspiration by observation (more anthropological, fewer focus groups)
  2. Collaborative brainstorming (always succeeds over the lone genius)
  3. Hot teams (drawn from diverse fields to create a collision of perspectives)
  4. Rapid prototyping (enlightened trial and error, act before you’ve got all the answers)
The diversity of talent and disciplines we had at Saatchi LA helped us move toward this culture. And our “no walls” credo at Barrie D’Rozario Murphy is designed to foster this same collaboration.

So what would the “IDEO of marketing communications” look like? I have my own point of view (no silos, less hierarchy, more diverse talent, truly collaborative brainstorming, etc.), but would be more interested in learning from others.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Building iPhone apps that don't suck

I like this piece by Fast Company, "How to build an iPhone app that doesn't suck." I think we'd all agree that apps rock. But, truth be told, for every must-have app there seems to be 10 lame ones. Fast Company's slide show provides a quick guide for marketers to follow. My favorite in the list? The WebMD app. Useful content served up through a simple interface.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What's in a name?

I like what Shell is doing with its new formulation, "nitrogen enriched gasoline." Shell resisted the the temptation to make up some scientific-sounding name (such as Chevron with Techron) and instead spoke in plain simple English. Techron feels like marketing, nitrogen feels like science.

Imagine, then, the dilemma faced by the folks at Mercedes Benz when they chose a sub-branding theme for its new line of biodiesels. Mercedes BlueTEC involves a substance called AdBlue. AdBlue is urea. Here's a case where the plain simple English rule would not have worked well. Who wants to drive the urine-powered E Class?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why Skittles matters.

Skittles jumped head first into the uncharted world of social media with its new un-website.

What's an un-website you ask? Check out Skittles.com. This is wikibranding in action. Users define and create the brand's message and content. Skittles.com links to Twitter and Facebook to enable folks to tweet and friend the brand.

Why is this important? It's just a candy after all. (A very addictive one at that.) It's important because it represents a bold move by a marketer to defy the category norm and test something different.

Check out Starburst.com and you'll understand the dilemma faced by CPG brands. Why on earth would anyone need to visit starburst.com? And for the five people who do visit it, why on earth would they want to sit through a video on the history of sharing?

Skittles' new un-website has people talking, although it may only be media wonks at this point. But chatter is chatter in this world. The spammers have already hijacked the chatter, proof that it's working! (And for those in the agency world who are all-a-twitter over the fact that this site mimics that from modernista, get your head out of the agency bubble. Modernista does not own this format any more than one can lay claim to owning the idea of using music in a TV spot. This is a creative tactic available to all.)

The real test will be what Skittles does next. What will it learn from the unfiltered chatter? How will it engage and facilitate the next level of engagement? How this will inform the fundamental definition of the brand?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Want brand loyalty? Be loyal to customers.

Customer loyalty is often a one-way street. Customers patronize specific brands over time and in return get....well, nothing.

Car companies are big on loyalty marketing. But these programs often amount to nothing more than a special discount ("loyalty bonus") and sneak previews of a new model. The problem is that any buyer can negotiate a similar discount any day at any dealer.

When you think about it, Apple does little for its best customers. We stand in line like everyone else. And how about Coke and Nike and Sony? What's the benefit of staying loyal?

So this brings me to a category we love to bash -- airlines -- and offer some praise.

For example, United Airlines (disclosure: although a BD'M client, I was a "1K" customer years before) offers its frequent fliers a wide range of perks in exchange for our continued business. As a loyal customer I get to fast track through check-in and security lines. I can sit in Economy Plus and get more legroom (and not get my laptop smashed by the guy in front of me) free of charge. I receive upgrades and free tickets. My baggage fees are waived. That's real stuff that offers me economic and emotional benefits.

Very few brands offer real benefits and appreciation for our loyalty. This is a mistake, and also an opportunity in the current recession.

The best way to survive in the current climate is to get close to your best customers. They are most likely to buy and most likely to talk up the brand. They are the proverbial low hanging fruit. For example, Best Buy (another BD'M client) sent me a $50 gift card the other day in recognition of some recent purchases. What's smart about this is that I'm likely go into the store and spend more than $50.

The entire industry that sprung up around customer relationship management (or CRM) clouded a very simple premise: say thank you to people.