Google tells amazingly human stories – how can you not relate to this?

It started with Parisian Love:

And Google does it again with Letters to Sophie:

Wonderful stories of humanity, connection and how technology enriches our lives. Wonderful stories, Wonderful branding, Wonderful behavioral understanding.  Love it!

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The most underutilized space in email marketing is…

…if you are having trouble reading the rest of this post click here… 


You know this line. It’s the one atop most emails you receive from marketers and the one you certainly always glance over.

The purpose is understandable right? We want to make sure the message is delivered and viewed, but is it possible that this tactic is actually more than just creating underutilized space? Is it actually hurting email performance?

Here’s why. Consider what content is viewable in the email inbox:  

1)      An Email Subject line and

2)     A preview of the lead email copy

Both messages are critical in generating interest and clicks. So, why do we waste such valuable lead email copy on a non-essential message? Couldn’t “If you are having trouble viewing this message” be just as effective elsewhere?

As a parallel, consider paid search. Every bit of space in paid search is used to provide a relevant and persuadable message, and we would never waste any of it….right?

Is your prospect’s inbox too dissimilar from paid search space? In both arenas customers are seeking relevant messages delivered to solve a need. Both are highly competitive , full of clutter and need to be relevant and intriguing to perform!  

So, why do we waste such valuable real estate in our email marketing? Let’s make sure the preview of our email copy is working towards the performance goal!

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Merril Lynch pushing the boundaries of its media mix

A couple of days ago AdAge published an article titled: “Merril Lynch Evolves Brand Platform — and the Media Mix Behind It”

The article discusses Merril Lynch’s move toward new media opportunities in an attempt to reach it’s financial customer in new ways and strengthen it’s position as a leader in the advisor-advisee relationship. Here’s an excerpt:

“Along with Merrill’s new brand platform, its media strategy is evolving as well. The old days of two major anthemic campaigns per year, weighted heavily to TV and print are over, Ms. Khoury said, Under this umbrella, Merrill will do more sponsorships, events and media partnerships, such as buying the branded spot above the CNBC news ticker, Major League Baseball sponsorships, an iPad app for its own Advisor Magazine and co-created sponsored content in Forbes magazine.

In the next two to three months, Merrill will also launch its first YouTube channel, with its own webcasts and panel discussions with experts on subjects such as retirement.”

Setting aside my impressions of Merril Lynch itself or of the banking industry as a whole, it is exciting stuff to see a company like this, with its size and long-standing traditions, starting to push the boundaries of its media and brand content strategy. It speaks to me of the kind of change that companies are starting to embrace – providing value and branded service where their customers seek it most via mediums that are have roots in interactivity.
There is so much opportunity for growth in these new media areas, especially in the Financial Services industry. What we have to do now is continue to learn how to track and measure these interactions and support these “experiments” with real-time results and ROI.

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10 reasons why Marketing Communications people are so diverse

We are…

Ethnographers…because we observe and record community dynamics
Anthropologists…because we seek footprints leftover that tell of past behavior and predict future
Analysts…because we crunch crunch numbers and connect the dots
Miners…because we dig deeply to uncover important resources and find precious insights
Oraters…because we speak persuasively
Artists…because we create
Scientists…because we measure, combine and grow
Art Historians…because we want to understand how art elicites emotions
Servers…because we preempt customer needs
Politicians…because we stand for a public promise

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The smartest person in the world can’t sell a duffle bag

Stopped into a Chicago department store tonight looking for an overnight duffel that would be lightweight and easy to travel.

Down on the basement level tucked in a quiet corner is where the various sets of plastic, tweed and nylon travel sets and wheeled luggage pieces were to be found. After a couple of minutes a nice enough seeming fellow came up and said he’d be right there.

After circling the wares a couple of times the gentleman, who I was certain was just happy he had someone to talk to, finally came over. I told him what I was looking for and he showed me a couple of options. Then, catching me a little offguard, he started picking up other pieces that were not duffle bags and began describing them in great detail. He pointed to Hamilton’s unique double zipper locks and TUMI’s twice-stitched super-light nylon. Neither of which I cared much about, but I listened on hoping he’d get back to the point.

Right on track came a schpeel about worldwide differences in a airplane carry-on requirements and a quick lesson of which brand extensions were owned by TUMI, Swiss Army and the like. I smiled and nodded, I couldn’t figure out if I was annoyed or intrigued to learn about these things I didn’t know. It was clear the associate was very knowledgeable about the requirements of world travel and limited edition designs, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that he hadn’t listened at all to what I was looking for. This guy might be the world’s leading expert in luggage, but he wasn’t focused on what mattered to me. So, i came up with an excuse and slipped away out of the store.

There, in action, was an example of a simple fact: Knowledge does not lead to Salesmanship.  

Knowing a lot of “stuff” is critical, but it’s all pointless (and sometimes harmful) if it takes your focus off what your subject is looking for. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling advertising, pencils, or luggage sets, it’s all the same.

We all like to share our achievements or expertise. But the next time you want to talk features, awards or patents, remember the luggage salesman and the double-lock zipper. First, we all have to listen, to size up the audience’s needs and ask questions. Then, after our audience is fully engaged, we can show off how much we know about the world’s best bag. And the audience will actually be listening.

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On Social, your business is a service business…no matter what you sell

No matter if you sell insurance policies, ice cream cones or widgets, if your business expects to succeed in Social Media I believe it must not only think like a service business…it must actually serve.

The most effective social media strategies (three named here were presented at last year’s Social Media conference – Benjamin Moore, Intuit, Coca-Cola) involve some sort of service, embedded within the company’s big idea and communicated with the brand’s voice.

Benjamin Moore’s social strategy is a good example. The big brand idea is “bringing the colors of life, to life” (or so I’m paraphrasing) and the social extension is all about helping you do that through expert community advice and help.

Social can be thought of as just “cool stuff” and a way to get “free plays” of TV spots (and for some that may work), but I think it really is best utilized when thought of holistically as part of a marketing mix – the part that directly serves a benefit to your customer.

Agree, disagree?

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Groupon online sentiment goes on I.R.

Groupon entered TV’s biggest game as one of the most loved and pristine internet companies in recent memory…

And like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Groupon might be walking off the field on Sunday feeling a little bruised….

Social conversation monitoring pre and post Super Bowl suggests that the brand left the game licking its wounds, while its more than 100+ million viewers left feeling a little perplexed and a little more fumed.  Following the showing of a couple irreverant spots,  Groupon’s brand sentiment in online conversations dropped by 27% pre-post game (based on third party semantic analysis of consumer chatter 1/10 – 2/9).

If looking for a causal relationship, chatter specifically mentioning Groupon’s Super Bowl commericals had sentiment levels of 47% negative and only 27% positive  – the first time I’ve ever seen a major advertiser receive mostly negative feedback from a major advertising initiative.

As always, a silver lining exists; bad publicity and all, the amount of conversations about Groupon online are up over 200% in the few days following the game. If that was all part of the plan, then it was a ballsy move. But the good money is betting on the fact that this was a huge F$*% up. 100+ million eyeballs and not a single one of those people walked away feeling better about Groupon, or becoming aware that Groupon is actually quite a charitable organization.  Most just thought it was rude.

Wow Groupon and Crispin….if you’re tracking mentions online like I am then you’ve already seen this closing statement on twitter –

(Groupon) “What were they thinking?!?”

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Motorola Moves Forward by Looking Back on 1984

The tables are turning for Tablets…

Or at least that’s what the Motorola Xoom hopes for. Last night the new tablet launched with a commercial that seemed ripped out of the 1984 Apple playbook. Xoom’s spot was a modern imitation of the revolutionary Macintosh commercial.

And I thought it was wonderfully done. It had subtle and not so subtle cues referencing a world run by Apple (Flipping the page on 1984 at the beginning and brainwashing with white headphones). 

It was entertaining, emotionally charged, very well cast, and the message came across loud and clear. 

See it here:

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Have you outgrown the magic in what you make?

Great marketing let’s people in on the magic that goes into everything we make, even the small things, though we ourselves fail to see it anymore. That’s the power of marketing.

Said more elequently, “Our job is to bring the dead facts to life.” Bill Bernbach knew it more than 50 years ago, and he had a knack for saying extremely smart things.        

So, how do we identify meaningful facts, and if they were buried where did they go?  

Often times the problem isn’t whether or not the idea still sparkles, but that we the marketer have outgrown its luster.  

We get bored with things we experience everyday. We think an idea has been played out or that people won’t care anymore. So we look beyond the simple, yet powerful, ideas that are so inherently related to the magic of our business.  

Look closely at your business. What do you do 1000 times a day (like second nature) that an outsider would find fascinating?

Go uncover that story and give it a new shine. Put some magic back into what you do.

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Is Facebook charitable? It sure is giving more and more measurement to the people!

The easy version of social media measurement looks like the new Facebook Insights – offering “democratized” Facebook post and content measurement for all business users to test and learn.

The hard version would look something like me…two months ago I was sitting at my desk crunching numbers and graphing late into the night. We were in a pitch and I was trying to help a potential new business client better understand the “spreadability” of their Facebook content.

Through a painstaking task of analyzing fan interactions in every piece of content they had ever posted (question, comment, image, video and others) we were able to gain insight into the most effective brand-generated communication and implications for future product launch. Then we were able to model that data to project how those interactions would spread – demonstrating the power of Facebook’s ripple effect.

While we were very proud of the metrics we created to measure and predict social media activity, the team was equally uncertain. Would clients buy into our approach? It had few benchmarks and no depth of history to compare cases.

Well, uncertain no more! Facebook Insights has established what looks to be the first per-post metrics for social marketing measurement! And it’s giving it to the people.

This morning I noticed on my family’s restaurant business page a couple of new numbers beneath our latest post. A closer look found these numbers to be one traditional marketing metric – Impressions – and one digital metric – Engagements (called feedback) – newly implemented by Facebook. Would you agree that the implications of these numbers are many!?

Marketers can now see immediately how many “impressions” each post gained as well as the percent of those impressions that garnered a comment or like. Obvious test and learn implications are apparent, but now also it is easier to compare Facebook in context of an of an overall brand campaign when calculating audience reach.

Here is a screen grab of what I saw this morning:

One concern is that it is currently unclear exactly how Facebook is defining an “impression” and if they are unique or duplicated. I wonder if we will ever get to the point where measures are so precise we can know if content was actually read and by whom. 

With these big new updates I’m surprised to find little chatter about this in the industry right now as this will absolutely have major implications for facebook marketing. For advertisers in specific it will offer more credibility as we recommend social ideas and tactics with a “spread” factor.

And, always a bonus, we gain back time as we can invest more time into implications and less on counting posts. Build a simple/smart dashboard from the measurements Facebook provides and voila. Awesome! Continue reading

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