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Showing posts from October, 2009

The power of touch.

We’re supposed to be hurtling toward an age where all business is done through ones and zeros, with sales and service more efficiently handled online. To be sure, we see many examples where this is producing a better outcome for marketers and their customers. Witness iTunes vs. Tower Records, Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble or Expedia vs. your neighborhood travel agent. But this rush to virtual selling is not a one-size-fits-all strategy for all categories and marketers. Some recent examples illuminate our desire to see, touch and feel products, and how the best service is often carried out face to face. What got me thinking about this is Microsoft’s announcement that it is opening retail stores, with the first launching in Scottsdale and Orange County. Like Apple stores, these outlets will sell hardware and software and offer technical support for people who are proud to be a “PC.” And speaking of Apple, reports suggest that its stores generate more

Read this today while supplies last.

Advertising has long relied on the straightforward call-to-action to prompt consumers to act now. It's been a simple tactic that never required much more thought than how loud to shout or how bold to make the type. However, today's media environment challenges us to imagine new ways to invite a response from customers. Mobile, search and social media create smarter and more specific opportunities to prompt an immediate action. I began thinking about this when I saw an ad for Sony Pictures' new release, "2012." The billboard said, "Search 2012." This call-to-action is brilliant in its simplicity. It recognizes that people are increasingly dialing up brands through search, not by typing in a brand's URL. The volume of Google searches prompted by this call-to-action results in a wall of search hits that makes 2012 seem like a pop culture buzz machine. Moreover, the simple request to "search" may even inspire more curiosity about what o

Designers invade the executive suite.

Last year Advertising Age published an article I wrote about the lessons car companies can learn from the iPhone. One of the suggestions I made was to elevate designers to a greater leadership role. Two reasons why I wrote this: First, car companies are industrial design firms at their core. Second, design-led thinking is a business strategy , not simply an exercise in visual packaging. Design-led thinking forces a company to have a more intimate understanding of their customers and their interactions with the brand, and then be very reductive in creating a more valuable experience. I didn't think it would ever happen. But it has. Twice. In Detroit. Last month General Motors promoted designer Bryan Nesbitt to be General Manager of its Cadillac Division. That's unheard of. Until, of course, this week when Chrysler promoted Ralph Gilles to be President of its Dodge Car unit. This is a bold and long-overdue move. I'm eager to see what unfolds. The c