Soaking Wet…

October 25, 2009

Since I started this blog, we have talked about many forms of emerging media, and even how it has affected traditional media.  These are topics that will keep changing, and the posts I’ve made over the last 9 weeks, may seem outdated in a year’s time.  That’s how fast emerging media is emerging (if you’ll pardon that uninspired phrase).

Even as a freelance marketing consultant, I am constantly reading about changes, and wonder if I’m in over my head.  It seems that every day, there has been a change in the way SEO works, mobile marketing has changed and even changes to the way traditional media is being used.  But even as a these things keep changing, one thing remains the same; companies have to adapt to the changes going on around them.  Just because something worked for you in 2009 doesn’t mean it’s going to work in 2010.  The playing field has changed, the players are different, and most importantly, the rules have changed.

No matter how much changes, there are a few constants.  You still have to have a clear, concise message, and you have to carry it out through all of your marketing communications.  This starts from the bottom up.  Every employee who comes into contact with a client or customer has to be aware of your message.  This hasn’t emerged, and it never will.  In order for your message to stay clear and concise, everyone has to be on the same page.

I originally called this “Fluid Media” because that’s how I felt about emerging media.  Like water, it was constantly moving and changing shape, but the name also applies to your marketing message.  It should flow throughout your organization, but it shouldn’t change – that’s the only difference.

I hope to continue this blog after my class wraps up.  It may have a different name, even a different URL, but like the topics we’ve examined together, it will definitely continue to evolve and grow.

Volkswagen – Genius or Dumb?

October 22, 2009

According to an article in Advertising Age, Volkswagen has decided to launch the new GTI with only  an iPhone app.  There is no correlating print or television campaign.  There are no specific social media initiatives in place above and beyond the norm.  This is it, folks; just an iPhone app.

According to Volkswagen, this is a “cost-effective way to reach the target demo”.

This is the first time a company of Volkswagen’s magnitude has relied on an iPhone app solely to market a new product.  If this doesn’t signal that we’re in the midst of a change in the way products are marketed, I don’t know what does.  Granted, this may end up working against the automaker, but at least they are willing to take the risk, and they understand the importance of emerging media as a marketing tool.

It was recently announced that Volkswagen was set to take the top spot from Toyota as the number 1 import car in America, and moves like this may signal the reason why.  As technology has evolved, so has the marketing efforts of the company.  Instead of focusing on hybrids and new technology, VW has kept producing the same Turbo Diesel cars it has been, but it has found new and exciting ways to market these cars.

In the end, it is all about making the audience believe in the product, and by reaching who they consider to be their target audience, VW may be doing just that.  If it doesn’t work, they’re not out tens of millions of dollars like they would be had they invested in an unsuccessful traditional media campaign.  Stay tuned to see what happens.

Just to clear the air…

October 16, 2009

After re-reading some of my posts, I realize I might come across as somewhat cynical about advertising and marketing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I’m actually a huge advocate for the practice, but I also believe in doing it ethically without being harassingly intrusive.

Marketing, including advertising, can be and most often is a completely ethical practice.  We get a lot of flack, and are called liars, but every profession has a few bad apples.  Just because doctors cure diseases, it doesn’t mean there are some who don’t write unnecessary prescriptions.  I’m not even going to start on the clergy, but you get my point; just because it is a respected profession doesn’t mean everyone is ethical, and vice versa.  Marketing might always make the list as one of the least trusted professions, but that doesn’t mean we’re all bad.

Every time you see a website for a non-profit or you hear a PSA for a charity, marketers did that.  Even if an admin created it, the Facebook page for your local chapter of the American Cancer Society is marketing.

There are strict rules that govern what we can and cannot say, and one thing we cannot do is lie.  Just ask Airbourne.  As a marketer, it’s not my fault if I come up with a creative way to tell you the truth.  Instead of accusing me of lying, applaud me for not boring you to death with one of those “Head On” ads.

So, if I seem cynical,; I apologize.  Just because I’m one of them doesn’t mean I’m not one of you.  I still get bombarded with messages that don’t apply to me, and I still have to watch those stupid Charmin bears with the dingleberries.  And to be honest, I get just as offended, but it doesn’t mean I think they’re lying.  They’re just not creative.

How Could I Not…

October 14, 2009

How could I not mention this?

So, I’m spending all this time talking about emerging media, and how it can be used in Integrated Marketing Communications.  One thing I haven’t talked about is how I use emerging media.  Granted, you’ve probably already figured out how I use blogging, but I’m speaking specifically of social networking.  I’ve provided links to my profiles, and how I use each of the following forms.

twitter_icon2

Twitter is my least favorite form of social networking.  I log on, usually once every other week to see what’s going on with the 4 or 5 celebrities I follow.  When I first signed up, I tweeted about what I was doing, but that only lasted a few days.

From my exposure and research, I understand why Twitter is a valuable resource for companies with large followings, but my life isn’t exciting enough to warrant an up-to-the-minute play by play.  I’m interested in seeing how Twitter plays out over the next year or so.  Short of making a few upgrades, I’m not sure if it has the staying power as some of the other social networking sites.

LinkedInIcon

LinkedIn is my second favorite social networking site, and I use it strictly for professional networking.  I am an active member of several marketing related groups, and I use it to network with my clients.  Through the site, I have uncovered several new clients, and found real-life networking events to attend.  I was fortunate enough to be able to implement LinkedIn into my last job, and we saw great results from the site.

facebook-icon copyFor me, Facebook is the mother of all social networking sites.  I spend more time on there than I do with my friends in real life.  It’s borderline pathetic.  Unlike LinkedIn, I use Facebook simply for social networking.  I have made it a point to not add current coworkers or clients.  The last thing they need to see is a picture of me wearing Aretha Franklin’s inauguration hat at a Tina Turner concert.  Since I’ve made it a point to only use Facebook for social networking, I don’t join fan pages, and I rarely join groups.

Now that you know how I use these sites, feel free to use me the way I’m using others.

Ring…Is anyone gonna answer???

October 9, 2009

Let’s continue with this mobile marketing discussion for a minute.

With all of the information cel-phone service providers have about us, you’d think it’d be easy for marketers to decide which route to go to reach the most possible people in their target audience.  Here’s where it gets tricky.  Service providers aren’t so quick to share this information because it usually comes back to bite them in the ass.

If you’re text messaging plan includes 300 messages per month, and out of nowhere you get an unwarranted text message from Victoria’s Secret about the new Angel Collection.  Your first question might be, “why are they texting me?  I just won the Mr. Nebraska Weightlifting Competition.”  But if you’re like a lot of people who might not appreciate the unwanted message, your first question might be, “How did they get my number?”  And most people presume that it comes from the service provider, and this is why they’re so sensitive about sharing demographics and behavioral statistics.

People take their frustrations with mobile marketing out on their service providers, and in an economy where competition is at an all-time high, cel-phone companies cannot afford to mess with the people willing to pay for service.

This is why most mobile campaigns have moved toward opt-in agreements.  In order to receive a message, you have to grant the advertiser permission to send you a message.  They make it simple for you to sign-up, but unsubscribing isn’t always as easy to find.  It’s only a matter of time before mobile marketing will be regulated, much like telemarketing is.  I foresee a world where they will have restriction on what time they can send messages, and how often per week, etc.  Gone will be the days when you’ll be woken up at 3:47AM just to learn that the GAP has 20% Off outerwear.

Ring…Ring…

October 6, 2009

I remember the very first cel-phone I had.  It was a Motorola Flip Phone, and it was bigger than any smartphone could imagine being.  I was 14 years old, and very involved in community theatre.  Since I couldn’t drive at the time, I used it to let my mom know what time to pick me up.  That’s all.  It had the same buttons as my cordless phone at home.  I can still remember my service plan.  I got 30 peak minutes, and 30 off-peak minutes for only 29.99/month.  If I used all of those minutes, it was only 50 cents per additional minute.  Oh yeah, I could only make calls to my 2 county region without incurring additional costs.

This was 1995.

Fast forward to 2009.

samsung-instinct-by-sprint

I now carry a Samsung Instinct, and get Unlimited Everything for $99.00/month.  From Texas, I can call my mom in West Virginia, and I don’t incur anything, except maybe some guilt for not visiting enough.

As with most other forms of advancing technology, marketers have found a way to invite themselves into almost every area of our lives.  Luckily, the only messages I receive are from companies I have chosen to receive them from.  I made the mistake of signing up for SMS alerts from Facebook, but that only lasted about 20 minutes.  Mobile marketing is a tricky subject though.  A lot of people, like myself, would feel very violated to get random messages from companies trying to sell them something…unless they really wanted it.

This is where research really pays off.  If it is a product or service someone would be interested in hearing about, they won’t feel as violated getting the message on their phone.  On the flipside, if they’re completely uninterested, watch out!!!

This post is unofficial…

October 3, 2009

As I mentioned in my last post, people are quick to blog and comment about thins they are upset about.  What I didn’t mention was the slew of blogs out there.  Thee is an unofficial blog for almost every major company.  These unofficial blogs, while they can do harm to the brand, can quite often do a lot of good.  Imagine, as a company, having to spend absolutely no money to get your name published in a favorable light, on a daily basis.  This is a reality for a lot of companies.

In some cases, these companies even go as far to contribute information to the authors, just to make sure they are giving readers correct information.  This usually happens with an understanding that the company won’t interject if  something is published that may not be so favorable.  If you believe the old adage, “no press is bad press”, then this may just be the best thing to happen to marketing budgets since the invention of…well, the internet.

Every cellular service provider, car company, IT provider, and even Google have unofficial blogs.  All of these vary in content, quality and tone, but the one thing they don’t differ in is free publicity.  It may not be the exact positioning strategy the company is looking for, but it is getting the brand’s name out there.

I wish someone would start an unofficial blog about my freelance services.  Hell, I’d even pay for it, but I guess that defeats the purpose.

My Favorite Drug Dealer…

September 29, 2009

Starbucks Gossip is an unofficial blog with the tagline, “America’s Favorite Drug Dealer”.  I won’t speak for all of America, but it is most certainly my drug dealer of choice.  Actually, it’s my only drug dealer, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’ve never really been a fan of unofficial company blogs, but I have always been a fan of coffee – Starbucks being my favorite.  When I stumbled on this blog, I was surprised by the amount of negative posts relating to the company.  It has a fairly active community of followers, which isn’t surprising, considering Starbucks is one of the most recognized brands in the world.  Granted, I have had a bad experience or 2 at Starbucks, but I’m not going to go as far as slamming it online in an unofficial blog.

My problem with these types of blogs is that people seems to be quicker to share a bad experience than a good one.  You rarely read about the time Jon Doe got excellent customer service at the Sheboigan Mall Starbucks, but as soon as he has to wait 5 minutes for an iced tea, he’s on his iPhone telling the world about it.  I challenge everybody out there who likes to share their bad experiences to share the good.  If you get so worked up about something, you feel the need to blog about it; do the same thing when you feel passionate about something.  Use emerging media and social networking fairly – good, bad and indifferent.  The only way companies can improve is to know what they’re doing right and wrong .

The End of an Era…

September 25, 2009

A client of mine just called to ask if I could reserve space in a local newspaper and design an ad for an upcoming event.  To be honest, this knocked me for a little loop.  It has been almost a year since I have called a newspaper advertising salesperson to reserve space and negotiate a rate.  While I recommended otherwise, it is ultimately his money (hence, his decision) to use newspaper advertising to promote this event.  Based on his target audience, I would utilize a combo of direct mail and social networking, but he could not be convinced otherwise.

This got me thinking, “have I gotten to a point where newspaper advertising seems so dated that I don’t consider it as a viable media vehicle?”

I’d like to think the answer is “no”, but my own subconscious reaction was so unexpected.  Magazines seem appropriate, but newspapers struck me as a foreign concept.  When I look at papers, such as Rocky Mountain News and New York Sun, I have to imagine a lot of people felt the same way I did.  Naysayers used to complain that advertising was killing newspapers, but obviously, a lack of it was what killed those papers.  With more people turning to the internet to get their news, it made more sense for advertisers to put their money where their audience was.  I bet those naysayers feel like jackasses now.

Anyway, I felt like I couldn’t blog about emerging media without mentioning how this type of media might be killing traditional media.  In 50 years, will we be calling television, print and outdoor “Former Media”, or is this emerging thing just a fad?  I know how I feel, but what do you think?

Hello, MAC, are you in there?

September 23, 2009

You have just watched a video for the MAC Cosmetics Hello Kitty Collection.

Confused?

I’m sure you thought you were watching a music video directed by someone with with an Alice in Wonderland fetish during an acid flashback.  I have to admit, at first, I did too.

MAC Cosmetics is recognized as a fashion forward cosmetics company, and they are constantly releasing new collections in correlation with the hottest trends.  Some collections are even designed by some of fashions hottest designer, such as Heatherette.  They are definitely not your mother’s Estee Lauder.

What’s most interesting about this video, is that unlike most marketing videos, you see absolutely no placement of the MAC name or logo.  They spent a huge chunk of change to rely on product placement (and I use this term very lightly) to get the point across.  All of the models are dolled up in colors from the collection, but if you didn’t know what you were watching, there’s no way you would every know that.  The only thing you would walk away from this video with, is a sense that Hello Kitty just joined the ranks of Heidi Fleiss, and is working as a high-priced S&M call girl in West Hollywood.

There are millions of ways to be creative with a 5 minute marketing video, and several companies have done just that, but what do you stand to gain from marketing a brand with absolutely no tie-in to the product or brand identifiers available.  If anything, someone searching for Hello Kitty on the internet may just be in for the surprise of their life, and walk away with a bad taste in their mouth for both Hello Kitty and MAC…if they ever find out what it is.