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Brands: If You Want My Loyalty…

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

OK, I’ll try to make this rant – I mean, this post – short and sweet.  

Brands, if you want my loyalty, start using technology and stop pushing your cards on me! 

Honestly – in a world full chock full of technologies that have demonstrated capability  to make our consumer experiences better, it’s amazing to me how many times a day you can still ask me, “Do you have your <fill in the blank> card today?”, especially when my reply is often “No, sorry, I don’t.”

Please stop making me feel like I’ve failed you before I’ve even given you my order (and my money)!  You’re immediately making me feel uncomfortable, defensive, guilty, and, well… a lot less loyal.

You already use technology to record and retain plenty of information regarding me.  You already use technology to measure and analyze program results.  Now how about leveraging technology to improve the process at its most important point – interacting with your customers? 

I shouldn’t need to carry piles of plastic and paper punch cards in an already over-stuffed wallet to “prove” my loyalty.  You should be able to use technology to already know who I am, or at least provide a much more convenient, seamless way for me to identify myself.

Ever hear of the Web?  Email?  Social media?  Mobile apps?  Location based services?  Entire businesses dedicated to providing you with turn-key loyalty programs in a completely digital manner?  The list goes on and on.  You need to consider technology as a key component in every step of your program.  

Brands, it’s really not that hard.  From the customer perspective, loyalty programs should be…

…well-designed…

…intuitive…

…simple…

…seamless…

…convenient…

…rewarding…

…and…

PAPER AND PLASTIC FREE.

Anybody else out there feeling the same way?

– Jim S.

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The Rodney Dangerfield of Digital Marketing

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

What would you say to a digital marketing medium that reaches 7 out of 10 U.S. residents per month?  Has more people watching it than the number of people watching video online, having a Facebook profile, or a smart phone?  Can deliver a digital video spot resulting in twice as many impressions as Super Bowl XLIV?  Already has a proven ability to target audiences and “precision market” by demographic, geography, life pattern, and trade area?

Most marketers would drool at these prospects, but when the medium in question is digital place-based advertising, in the words of the immortal Rodney Dangerfield, it’s “No respect – no respect at all”.

Indeed, in the midst of our fascination with other platforms and tools based on social media, mobile, location based services and the like, the use of networked digital signage to broadcast place based advertising seems to hardly create a blip on the marketer’s radar screen.  Yet it’s had to imaging a medium with more proven ability and potential that creates less buzz and gets less respect.  So just what is it about this platform that makes it such an enigma?

A good part of the answer to this question was addressed at a recent Webinar from the Digital Screenmedia Association, The State of Digital Place-Based Advertising.  The panelists included Diane Williams, Senior Media Research Analyst – Arbitron; Jeremy Lockhorn VP of Emerging Media – Razorfish; and Peter Bowen CEO – SeeSaw Networks.  They presented viewpoints based on industry research, agency, and service provider perspectives. 

Williams and Bowen provided compelling research data, capabilities, and case studies for digital place-based advertising, and Lockhorn acknowledged that consumers today in the U.S. spend twice as much time outside the home as they did 30 years ago, confirming the medium as an attractive option. 

However, in the midst of their collective reasons to consider digital place-based advertising, it was Jeremy’s identification of “hurdles” to widespread adoption that caught my attention.  These included:

Fragmentation:

  • Hundreds of networks, all at different points of evolution (from nascent to mature)
  • Same inventory often available via multiple outlets
  • Inconsistent stories, audience descriptions, value propositions

Lack of ad format standardization:

  • Size, shape, bit rate, length, etc.

Questions regarding production:

  • Repurpose TV spots?
  • What about audio?
  • Localize?
  • Budget?

Of these hurdles identified by Jeremy, I believe that fragmentation represents the key obstacle facing digital place-based advertising today, and that the others (ad format standardization and production questions) are actually bi-products of this fragmentation. 

To me, the industry’s fragmentation starts with a lack of a clear identity.  This starts with several industry naming variations, including “digital place-based advertising”, “digital out of home advertising”, and others.  It continues with differing agendas among industry associations like the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA), Digital Place-bases Advertising Association (DPAA), and the DPAA’s European counterpart, the Out-of-home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB).  Finally, and perhaps most unfortunately, one of the biggest strengths of digital place-based advertising – its sheer versatility in terms of configuration, content, format, and deployment options – is the same thing that often works against it, contributing to the fragmentation that causes confusion and slows adoption among potential users. 

There is still no doubt in my mind digital place-based advertising will continue to evolve over time and become a powerful force in digital marketing.  As this evolution continues, what do you think it will take for it to “turn the corner” and finally start getting the use – and respect – that it deserves?

– Jim S.

What’s Next for the Chief Marketing Technologist?

If you have an interest in understanding how marketing can successfully harness technology in your organization, you’ll care very much about what Scott Brinker has to say.

If you haven’t heard of Scott, don’t worry – you will soon.  He is the President & CTO of a digital agency called ion interactive, and he has recently produced a great piece of work entitled “Rise of the Marketing Technologist”.  Originally presented back in April at the Search Insider Summit, and since featured in CMO.com, his message has struck a chord with many of us in the industry who want to see the powerful combination of marketing and technology reach its full potential for businesses.

Scott’s basic premise is that marketing must control its technological destiny, and that the introduction of a new role within the marketing organization – the Chief Marketing Technologist – provides a key to success.   Here is a link to his full SlideShare presentation

Rather than analyzing or critiquing his work further in this post, my intent is to amplify the message and help “get the word out” to those people and organizations that can benefit from Scott’s comprehensive approach to marketing technology.

I had the good fortune to speak with Scott last week regarding his thought process behind the creation of “Rise of the Marketing Technologist”.  It was obvious that a great deal of his motivation came from his passion for business, marketing, and technology done right. 

Just as importantly, Scott is keenly interested in soliciting feedback and inviting discussion as a way to refine this overall concept.  I had the chance to express my viewpoint that extending the idea of a Chief Marketing Technologist role to agencies can create a greater sense of expertise, trust and respect between those agencies and their clients’ IT organizations that so many times seem to be at odds. 

Scott and I talked about where we this type of approach seems to work (and not work).  While case studies and true success stories are still works in progress, Scott sees many encouraging signs of commitment, including GE CMO Beth Comstock’s recent comments at June’s Business Marketing Association (BMA) conference in Chicago, regarding GE’s efforts to “marry” marketing and IT.  On the flip side, we agree this type of approach falls short in instances where organizations elect to throw lower-level technology “doers” into the mix as opposed to C-level leaders and strategists.

Finally, we discussed the desired target audience for the “Rise of the Marketing Technologist” concept and best ways to get the message out to it.  Scott’s view is that CMOs are the target audience.  I personally think that CEOs, COOs and CIOs would also be good additions to the mix. 

As for best ways to deliver the message, Scott’s initial presentation and subsequent sharing via social media have provided a great starting point.  However, we agree that live marketing events that attract CMOs and other C-level execs can ultimately provide the biggest exposure.  As Scott points out, more opportunities to present at these types of events will likely occur as high profile case studies continue to develop. 

So what’s next for the Chief Marketing Technologist?  If you agree with the concept in principle, what do you think will be the best ways to “advance the movement”?   Who out there is willing to step up with an idea, or even better yet, a great case study?  Please be sure to provide your feedback to Scott via his Chief Marketing Technologist blog, or to me in the form of your comments below.

I’ve got a feeling we’ll be coming back to this topic soon!

– Jim S.