Posts Tagged marketing
As I’ve long said, “Karma works, it just doesn’t pay on demand.” So while I am reluctant to make any demands, I am not averse to asking for you to help me find a great team, inside a great company doing epic work. A role where I can be who I am, contribute all I have and be a catalyst for exponential value creation.
So what do I want to do?
Given my inter-disciplinary background and cross-industry experience, trying to answer this question is the biggest reason I have waited until now to post this request for your help. After making the decision that I was unable to continue personally funding development on Will Someone and Alynd shortly after SxSW, I’ve been doing a lot of market research and soul searching. I’ve been reviewing where the market is headed and how that intersects with my skills, but I haven’t been able to nail it down to one particular job or even one industry. I’d even be open to moving, though that will involve a longer conversation given our strong ties here in Silicon Valley and love for my home of San Francisco.
At the moment, I’m most excited about augmented reality/vr and its potential impact on collaboration, as well as advancing how it is used in social interactions. It’s also why I am advising Spiritual VR (another combination of several of my interests and talents). But I’m equally excited about the advancements in cognitive computing, AI and more natural user interfaces. In fact, I have a few visions for products in my head that keep popping up, such as an Augmented Reality collaboration experience that integrates shared white boards, voice based AI assistance and dynamically generated action lists. (If you want to hear more, I’d be happy to share it).
What I know with certainty is that I want to join a strong team where I can hang my hat for a while instead of just passing through on assignment. I could be a team leader or a team player. I could join an existing team or help stand up a new one. I’d be open to a funded early startup, but most likely will end up at a more mature high growth organization, maybe running an innovation lab for someone in the valley? The right opportunity is most likely in the technology sector, is a strategic role and will leverage my public speaking/evangelism talents as I continue to endeavour to advance the field, help organizations transform and invent the future.
I would love to take on the role of Customer Experience Architect, which I spoke about extensively in my IBM sponsored BLAB series CXDNow this past fall and in this talk “Experience Design and Your Customer’s Journey“. There just aren’t that many job openings for such a position/role that I’ve seen. Experience Design is more common now thankfully, but I am looking at it in a much more strategic way – perhaps for a broader portfolio of products. In that I have managed several software products to launch as well as numerous digital marketing projects, it seems that product marketing may be the best focus for me but I am not limited to this direction by any means. If you know me, you know I can do pretty much anything.
Over the past 20 years I have developed quite a body of work around what I’ve called holistic business strategy. This truly defines my brand, but is not widely understood as it is more then a 30,000 foot view of the business, it is a 30,000 light year view of a company and its position in the broader market, and society, it serves. Within this space, I’ve developed personalized marketing frameworks, software and programs, particularly around engagement strategy. More recently, I’ve expanded on this with the recognition that it is a whole new school of thought I am developing – something which I now call “Ecosystem Thinking” and have previously discussed as a key aspect of “The Adaptive Economy“. It’s a combination of design thinking, systems thinking and platform strategy benefitting from network effects. This leads to some interesting senior level opportunities working with software platforms seeking to build a stronger developer and customer community.
Please Help Me Start Some Conversations
I am already talking to a few great companies about some interesting roles that fit my background very well. What I really need to do now though is start increasing the volume of conversations I am having about joining a new team. If you think you might know of the right opportunity for me (and for them), please do make the introduction. Whether it’s product marketing, social media, social business, augmented reality, innovation, developer programs or digital transformation, I’m likely interested.
In the mean time, I am still doing consulting through AdHocnium right now, if you do just need some short term assistance while I am in the midst of this search, and I still have room for one more startup to advise.
One more thing… (an acquihire?)
Part of the reason this has been so long in the making is that I know I was on the right path with Alynd and am now even learning to code so I can build one of the next components in my broader vision for the future of work. It’s hard for me to quit something so important, but financial reality is what it is. To this end, I’m also open to an acquihire with the right company so that I might contribute my time as well as all the intellectual property we’ve developed over the past three years. Given the current lack of interested in acquihire’s, this seems less likely, but I am putting it out there in case any of my Alynd/Will Someone competitors might be interested in making a compelling offer… I wrote about my perspective on this last week in my blog post “Microsoft + Linkedin: A Linkedin Killer’s View“.
Earlier this morning, my post on “The Time Has Come for Holistic Business Strategy” has finally seen the light of day, published over on my good friend and colleague Brian Solis‘ site. Each January the last few years I have promised to start writing more and getting beyond my own internal writing challenges, and each year I have failed to live up to my own personal goal. I think this year we are finally ready to change that abysmal track record.
My internal critic is often just too powerful for me to overcome. It’s silly, but I really don’t believe I can write all that well, and the process of writing/editing is very difficult for me – often times it feels too difficult and I have just given up on it. While its true that I am much more comfortable talking with people about these concepts and visions for game-changing notions, I need to get to the point where I believe deep down in my soul that I am not only a decent writer, but a damn good one.
Over on Formspring the other day, my friend Todd Jordan asked what is my biggest plan for 2011? My answer was actually magically annointed with brevity, to “change the way business leaders think about managing their organizations and enhance their ability to create value”.
Michael Porter’s publishing of this great article on “Creating Shared Value” has really inspired me to put my nose to the grindstone and invest in advancing this big idea – that we must think about not only the whole of the business, but also the whole of society and the impacts every member of the broader ecosystem has on the other players and the ecosystem itself.
Yes, there should still be competition, as there is in the natural world it helps maintain balance. But what we have found with species like the silver carp in the fresh water rivers of North America, is that the introduction of a predatory competitor that is not naturally a part of the ecosystem, has disastorous effects on the survival of everyone and the ecosystem itself. This analogy holds true when looking at the ecosystem in terms of the market. In fact, we have seen the same sorts of results in the world of Social Media, with the prevalence of douchebags having harmed the market for social media services/consulting in a very similar manner.
Metaphors aside, I am excited to think about writing more this year on Holistic Business Strategy and working on my book project where many of these ideas will reside. “Serve the Market” is the embodiment of many of these ideas and will hopefully inspire a change in the way managers not only think about marketing, but in how they approach the very nature of business itself.
To understand more of what I am talking about here, please watch this 12 minute video of a speed keynote I gave at Webcom Montreal last year that outlines some of the higher principles at play.
Every time I travel to another city for another conference, the need for deep, broad, real, systemic change in our approach to marketing becomes more and more clear. This weekend at IzeaFest was no exception. Having the IzeaFest advertisers together with their bloggers along with social media professionals, SEO experts, affiliate marketers and some big brands was a real eye opener on many levels. Mostly though, what I saw was a lot of people trying to figure out how to do the right thing and a small few who were just focused on the money.
As more people come to realize that we are all in this market WITH one another instead of AGAINST one another, the tolerance for traditional advertising, publc relations and automated customer support phone systems will eventually reach zero. We have already lost our tolerance for not being able to get an answer from the company representatives assigned with that task, how much more efficiency can be squeezed in pursuit of profits over brand prosperity?
Marketing is not real.
Its what we design to seem real, to seem believable, to create a sense of desire, to tap into a need, to increase awareness, to communicate value propositions, to drive a call to action, to create a sense of comfort and familiarity with the brand and to create a sense of urgency. But let’s be honest, its carefully crafted, tested, refined and carefully controlled as its being deployed. It’s not real, and often times, its not really nice or considerate either.
Or as David Weinberger has infamously said, “Somewhere along the way, markets, what we did WITH each other, became marketing… what we do TO one another.”
Or as the Cluetrain Manifesto so brilliantly stated “Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.” But the best ads are the ones that transcend the chains of its innately false nature, to either really be genuine or too fake it so well as to seemingly create no doubt.
There is a very serious need for us to fully return to an emphasis on markets and get away from marketing altogether. Once and for all.
But where does it begin?
I had thought this was very clear over five (5) years ago in the time leading up to the first BarCamp. Going beyond interactive marketing, required genuine ENGAGEMENT. Or as I saw so clearly at that BarCamp in the summer of 2005, participation is marketing. But it’s more then participating, it’s contributing value, it’s respecting market participants, it’s having integrity and embracing transparency.
Since then, all segments of the communications industry has struggled with defining it, as the competing qualitative and quantitative camps argue about what is really most important with it. Engagement is dialog. Engagement is empathetic. Engagement is human. Engagement is mutually beneficial. Engagement can be measured by how it feels. Engagement can be measured by how the new philosophy starts to shift the bottom line.
Serve the Market
If markets are conversations as the Cluetrain posits, then what are executives supposed to do about it? The more we converse with each other, and the more we do so openly, leaving a trail of thoughts on our experiences and insights upon which others may stumble, the greater the importance of serving the market for mutual benefit.
This realization came to me during Community 2.0 in 2006 when Craig Newmark remarked that “all organizations used to be community service organizations”. It’s what was lost as we focused on scaling our ability to create profit during the industrial era and as profit above all else was so enthusiastically pursued without concern by just a few too many ‘leaders’. Then modern marketing evolved in certain corners of the profession with the goal of separating as much money as possible from as many customers as possible.
Of course, this wasn’t everyone, its just a few bad apples, but they certainly make the rest of the barrel full look unattractive.
Over time, the focus shifted for many companies to serving the stock market and the shareholder as opposed to serving the market itself. Research shifted to finding ways to tug at heart strings and wanting to be hip with trendsetters. Market researchers put people into “fish bowls” to observe their behaviour under fake conditions measuring their responses as if they were real and pure.
In short, and putting it bluntly, the science of marketing has for too long been focused on manipulation, not value creation.
The shift away from traditional marketing is finally gaining steam as a few brave souls lift their heads from our economic situation to once again think more optimistically instead of defensively. As the pilot projects of competitors become long running programs even though we never seemingly have enough B2B case studies, the increase in activity across multiple sectors is clearly evident. It is also seemingly proof enough for many in what Geoffrey Moore would call the early majority phase of adoption in “Crossing the Chasm“.
Serving the market requires you to have real relationships with the people within that market, just as you did if you were trading in the original souqs. Your reputation both preceded and followed you… everywhere. It requires the development of trust, that only comes with time and experience and that can never be created competely in a 30 second commercial.
As social media continues to make more information visible and the increasing market transparency shows us the little man behind the grand curtain working the controls isn’t all that he claims to be, the number of organizations not operating from a place of integrity will diminish. Of course there will be those that obfuscate, that wear their masks well and that pull the wool over our collective eyes, but they will hopefully be fewer in number.
Perhaps if we are successful at getting more companies to serve the market, the end of marketing as we know it won’t be as far away as it still seems today. Or perhaps, I am just overly optimistic about the level of change we can really have on this very well entrenched industry.
Let me know what you think, share your thoughts below.
You are bidding on 2 hours of AdHocnium’s consulting services to be delivered byAdriana Lukas and Chris Heuer in London on Wednesday 13 May 2009. This is a one time only opportunity (for this moment in time 😉 This is a low cost way for a smart company to take our minds for a test drive, to see if what we know, and to improve what you are doing with social media, marketing and web strategies to make your organization more succesfull in these efforts. At present, the bidding hasn’t begun, so it is starting off at $50usd!
Why would we auction our time off instead of working hard to get our going market rate of $350 per hour for our time? While the answer is a bit complicated, its also very simple. In short, it comes down to these primary reasons.
For a long time now, I have been proselytizing the idea that companies need to stop selling and start helping people buy. This is one way in which this can be done. We advertised our rates on the AdHocnium site for this reason, and are extending the concept to see what people are willing to pay. While we limit the market for our services to a specific geography while I am traveling, reducing our ability to get top dollar perhaps, it is another chance to ‘eat our own dog food.’
The mid size businesses, or even smaller ones that are seeiking real competitive advantage and are willing to take bold risks also dont have as much money. An auction gets us in front of people who normally wouldn’t seek out our services. Of course, even if you are in a big company, and perhaps especially so if you are trying to sell the idea of social media within your organization, we can create tremendous value to help you thrive while your competitors are struggling.
No, I dont mean that we dont have any experience and are forced to do this, but rather that we get more chances to work together, on short burstable projects. Doing this auction with Adriana Lukas is a fantastic oppotunity for me to get in front of a client together – to get to know each other better, to learn from her while helping others.
Of course, we also get another client to list in our case studies too. Naturally, the more experience we have, and the more we have doing this together, the more valuable our time becomes over the long run and the more we can charge. The more people giving us testimonials, like Kym Wong, the more you and people like you are going to be willing to trust us too. Kym told me she had a huge return on her investment of $162.50 when I offered this up in DC back in March as an experiment.
Kym’s feedback on eBay was “Got tons of actionable ideas and advice! Worth 10x the price, highly recommended”.
While my time and Adriana’s time is maxed out regularly, I always have a few hours when I am traveling to sit down with people and talk about their business and innovative ideas to help drive to the future. When I do, as was the case after my session at Next09 with a few people, I always offer up some free advice… to them as individual’s, not to their company. So if we can get paid a little something, instead of nothing for this, it creates a win-win for everyone. The reality is though, that we both spend a large percentage of our time on community works and big ideas that dont pay the bills in the short term. We simply dont invest as much time as we perhaps should selling outrselves (partially because we dont like doing that).
If we were to try to sell our time actively during my visit to London, it would take dozens of hours over several weeks. If you factor in all the time making the sale, along with the time delivering the education or training, we have to charge a lot to make a reasonable rate of pay. This auction path allows us to be more effcicient, and hopefully get a better per hour return on our time then we would if we worked hard to sell that halfd day so some of the same people who would buy it.
Is this story interesting to you? Might it be something you might try yourself as Rebecca Caroe suggested? Well, that means more people are going to hear about AdHocnium, about me, about Adriana and about others who are doing this with us. Our business model is pretty unuque too, so we get a chance to highlight the fact that we have reimagined what a gobal agency should look like, how it should operate, how we can attract the best and brightest talent and how we are leading our clients into the future. So while some may call it a stunt, it is much more (and honestly, it’s a little bit of that too).
After reading The problem with ‘conversational marketing’ I was inspired to express my views on the importance of conversation and the evolution of marketing.
Let’s be clear, the real problem with conversational marketing (other than the God awful term itself) is the ‘marketing’, not the conversation. The human problem with many traditional marketing practices is that they are exploitative in nature, selling/hyping goods and services in the market that are of dubious value, and only benefit those doing the selling. Of course this is not the case with the majority of marketing or marketers, but the extent to which a few bad intentioned actors can create a stereotype that is harmful to an entire group of people is quite stunning.
The gist of the article is correct that product and experience are the most important aspects of the business by providing goods and services to the market that create profits and satisfaction. I wrote about this after our awesome SxSW panel earlier this year in a post called The Golden Rules of Marketing. If you are more interested in the importance of great products as the first step to great marketing, listen to the podcast of the Self Replicating Awesomness session.
My problem is with the article’s dismissal of the importance of conversation over messaging to create understanding. It demonstrates how badly a few buzzword spewing charlatans can hurt the efforts towards transformation across an industry (communications in this case).
As I have demonstrated in unplanned exchanges in numerous workshops I have facilitated over the past year, it is very easy for people to mean the same thing, use different words to describe it and have an argument resulting from their different viewpoints. Conversation in this case, creates understanding, bridging cultures and differences in the use of language – something that a simple published statement or headline (aka message) can not do if no one is able to be engaged, listening and responding.
When those of us who understand what is happening say the words ‘listen and respond’, we are not limiting ourselves to the words we say back to someone after listening. We are talking about what we DO as a result of HEARING them as well as what we say. By listening, and truly hearing what is said, we are also showing that we are paying attention – it speaks volumes about the true intentions of our actions in the market place.
The post’s author sees the biggest proof of the failure of conversational marketing in a 2007 study from 9 months prior to their post:
According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, Dell was at the bottom of the pack in 2007 and actually lost 5 percentage points from the previous year
The author is correct in noting that it is much more difficult to provide a product that meets the market’s needs/expectations then it is to talk with them. Duh! The point isn’t so much that they are talking together, but what they do as a result. To expect conversations between representatives of a company and the market to turn around the culture and operational systems of that company within a matter of hours or days is of course impractical. These things take time. We are all human, people misunderstand, and of course, people make new mistakes which need to be understood and corrected all the time.
The article goes on to further state:
As such, companies should invest first and foremost in making sure that they do a good job of providing consumers with the products and services they want and need.
But of course, in order to understand what products they want, the companies need to listen to them FIRST, deliver the goods, listen to them again, change, deliver the goods again with improvements and so on. This quote shows how backwards the thinking is – companies need to do more up front to understand the needs of the market (traditionally thought of as research, which is of course a form of a conversation) before they invest in producing the goods.
The post goes on to say:
I would also point out what may seem counterintuitive to conversationalists – the fact that sometimes silence is the best indicator of consumer satisfaction.
Apparently, the author – Drama 2.0 – hasn’t read one of Kathy Sierra’s best blog posts called Be Brave or Go Home, which explains why customer silence is not golden if your company lives in the zone of mediocrity. Nor have they read Ken Blanchards book called Raving Fans, nor do they understand the importance and impact of Word of Mouth.
The thing is, that if I buy a computer from Dell (and I am a Mac guy, so the chances are slim), I hope I don’t have to talk to Richard Binhammer about a problem, but he hopes I talk to him about how much I love it. Either way, because I know that they are listening, as humans do to one another, I know that he will help to fix any problems. I know that their intentions are to serve us with better products and that sometimes shit happens. If the intention is made clear that they are not a faceless corporation here to take my money and harm me by selling me bad products/services, I would rather buy from them then anyone else.
This is our philosophy at The Conversation Group, and the main purpose we came together as an agency – to help more companies embrace the spirit of conversation with markets and to move beyond marketing by discovering, engaging and serving their markets in a more respectful and effective way.
Thanks to Rebecca Caroe from Creative Agency Secrets who pointed out this article called The problem with ‘conversational marketing’. (disclosure: two of the subjects of that post, Richard Binhammer and Shel Israel are friends) This is something I was writing about last summer in the post entitled, Stop the Insanity, Don’t Call it Conversational Marketing, and more recently in response to a Doc Searls post (keep getting better Doc, we’re with you) called Clues vs. Trains.
The discussion around social media at this point in time is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the breadth and depth of change that is being created in organizations of all sizes around the world. While some like Steve Rubel will argue that this emphasis is a passing fad and social media is merely another channel that will be thought of eventually as media, I disagree. By looking at this era in such a short sighted way, you miss what Doc Searls talks about as the ‘greater significance ’ of this transformative technology.
I contend that the rise of Social Media is the catalyst that will ultimately transform our world of work, our economy and our entire society. It will propel us to evolve from being industrial organizations, focused on increasing throughput and efficiencies of production processes to becoming social organizations, with a true emphasis on people over processes and technologies. Surely, Steve and others who feel the same way are right in thinking that the technologies will one day be thought of as simple tools (like pencils are today). You would also be right to assume that one day, the newness of what makes this different will be worn down to the point that we refer to a lot of what is happening more broadly as simply media.
However, to de-emphasize it at this time destroys the all important context that contains the most valuable and nutritious part of the signal we are trying to send around the world. That it is time for us to return to being social with one another, to look at other people (especially those who are different from us) as our ‘friends’ and to really think about how our decisions and actions can positively or negatively affect other people. In short, our organizations and the way we operate them need to become more socially oriented, truly engaged in the market conversation.
In a recent discussion with my Social Media Playbook co-author Brian Solis , we started to bring together all these points that we have been discussing with others for the past two years. Social Media is not just about how an enterprise does its marketing, but how all the people in the enterprise talks with its market.
Yes there is an internal employee to external stakeholder communications path, but there is also a collaboration element added to this – a social sense of working together for common goals. To be really successful however requires more then proficiency with this one aspect of managing your organization. It also requires you to develop deeper expertise with your communications and collaborations process between employees; between employees and partners; and even in some cases between external stakeholders and other external stakeholders.
This includes marketing, customer support, product development, research, partner relationships, internal collaboration, information technology, and even facilities. There is no aspect of your organization that will go untouched. This is not some pie in the sky vision of a far off utopian future, this is what many people/consumers are clamoring for. Tired of being sold to ant talked at, advertising is less effective then ever before and efforts are underway to turn CRM upside down in favor of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) .
This is not to say that we are supposed to turn away from profitability, far from it. By increasing the efficiency of market interactions, there is a greater chance for profitability; for good companies to become great companies; and for bad companies to just die off. Companies need to be profitable in order to grow and flourish and continue to do good for the world – as the saying goes, you are either thriving or dying and seldom if ever just stagnant. The difference between where we are today and where we will be tomorrow can be summed up as reasonable profitability with market cultivating behaviour as opposed to exploitative profitability and predatory behaviour.
While today you can gain a competitive advantage through the proper applications of Social Media, tomorrow it will be the price of admission for every market. So the question we are trying to help you answer with The Social Media Playbook is not how do I use Social Media for Marketing or Public Relations, but rather how do you transform your company into a social organization.
To this end, I see the potential for a new position in many larger organizations – for someone to wear the hat of the Chief Social Officer. While this responsibility could be held in any of the existing C-Suite titles, in larger organizations I believe it is necessary to have one person overseeing these efforts. Their needs to be someone with the authority, leadership, vision and yes, power, in order to effect change of this magnitude, as Michael Dell did over the past several years.
Why do we need a Chief Social Officer? Because embracing social media is embracing change management; changing the way teams collaborate; improving our relationships with customers; affecting our interaction with partners; overseeing customer support; empowering sales people to be purchase support; altering our product innovation and creation processes; and ultimately, bringing us out of the industrial age, beyond the information age and into a new age of enlightenment. It requires us to break down, once and for all, the silo walls that separate groups, the moats that have created fiefdoms of power and the interpersonal bullshit that prevents us from seeing that we all want what’s best, even if we have different ideas of how to do it.
In a recent McKinsey report, they talked about The Evolving role of the CMO , and the increased demands (related to these responsibilities) being put upon the position. I believe, as the report suggested, that the CMO should be the voice of the customer across the organization. The CMO/CEO and Chief Social Officer can and should co-exist and work together to bring about organizational transformation.
This is a new world of work, where knowledge, applied with compassion, creates a sustainable economy and a more peaceful world by transforming the very heart of business.
What are you doing to make your organization more social? How are you “being the change you want to see most in the world?”
Our panel at last week’s SxSW Interactive conference was by far the best panel I have ever had the pleasure to join. Self Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing included Deb Schultz, Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt, Hugh Macleod and David Parmet who are each absolutely brilliant in their own way, and some of my favorite peers in this field. You really should listen to the audio (where is it?) and I really should do a better recap post then just linking to the Google Search Results, but a few things have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days I wanted to share with you now.
First, several people are attributing to me something I quoted from the CEO of iProspect, Fredrick Marckini, who said “The brands with the best storytellers win.” I wish I could take credit for that awesome insight, but Fredrick deserves the credit. More people should set the story straight when they are standing on the shoulders of our peers – it is a shame so many seemingly smart people quietly sit by and take credit for the work of others, but that is a separate story.
Most importantly, there are three major thoughts about marketing that I have been thinking about deeply that I want to share with you now. The first is my definition of marketing, the second is about marketing’s place in the product lifecycle and the third is about marketings interaction with markets.
- Marketing is the work we do to match a company’s product or service with the people or companies who will get the most value and/or satisfaction from it.
- The best marketing is done during the product development process, where the needs and desires of those who will use the product or service are considered and designed into the product or service with an understanding of the broader marketplace in which they will be sold. You can’t easily market a product that was not well made, but the iPhone sells itself.
- Marketing is not the transactional process with which it has become associated despite its close proximity. If markets are indeed conversations, then marketing is a series of conversations intended to serve the better interests of the market. (David Weinberger has famously said ‘somewhere along the way marketing became what we did TO people’)
Of course, all of this is moot if you don’t remember and live the original golden rule DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. In short, don’t sell people crap, don’t try to pretend that people need your crap and don’t, by any means, try to pretend your crap is not crap – because everyone knows crap when they smell it.
So this is my first draft to attempt to redefine how we think of marketing, or rather how marketing is perceived and presented. What do you think the new golden rules of marketing should be?
Chris Heuer is leading a workshop at the Customer Service is the New Marketing conference on February 4, 2008.
During lunch Chris will join several others (including good friends Jeremiah Owyang and Deborah Schultz) leading workshops on how companies can build closer relationships with their customers. Chris’ workshop focuses on how to move beyond the transaction to satisfaction – using knowledge to empower customers and turning customer support from a cost into an investment across the customer experience lifecycle. Chris will discuss his methodology for marketing after the sale – how to better educate customers so they get the most enjoyment and satisfaction from a company’s products or services.
This morning at the Search Insider Summit I heard a phrase a few times that struck me as odd – the first 2 times, I missed it, the 3rd time I caught it and the 4th time I GOT IT. And what I got worries me. In fact, talking about this briefly with Bill Flitter and Lee Odden, some of my concerns were alleviated, but my broader concern for this approach, and specifically the intention behind it, remains.
Specifically the issue is that I am afraid some Search Marketers are using this technique of integrating search into display ads and broader marketing activities (such as on product packaging) merely to seize a greater portion of the overall advertising spending. Certainly, I am not arguing with the effectiveness of search marketing over traditional advertising, but I am pointing out that an emphasis on using one form of marketing/advertising to drive people through another point of advertising rather than direct to the marketer has all sorts of upside for those taking the dollars and potentially circumspect value for those spending the dollars.
Let me illustrate through one case study which was mentioned regarding Hellman’s mayonaise and the “Real Foods” campaign. I think it was an excellent campaign executed with good intentions in conjunction with Yahoo. They have connected it with some smart social media content, using a blog and community site around the concept of “In Search of Real Foods” and connecting it with a contest to award travel to some cool restaurants around the country. Really, really great integrated campaign – an exemplary case study displaying the sort of holistic strategy that I would recommend to my clients.
Yahoo! is clearly providing real value here, but the side effects are interesting to note. Look at the search results on Yahoo! and on Google and on MSN Live for “Real Food”. Of course, the increase in awareness on the idea of searching for the term ‘real food’ is increasing the overall search volume around this term – meaning sites like AOL, Amazon, Target and even an “Amazing New Health Drink” are buying the term – naturally, the Hellman’s competitor Kraft Foods is also buying this term. So the use of this strategy, while implemented well on Yahoo! is requiring Hellman’s to spend a lot more money across all of the search engines to maintain a number one result. Of course, this is already happening to a degree in regards to the brand and product names, but this angle has me questioning the broader impact this strategy across the entire marketing communications mix.
Perhaps what this approach is really doing is merely ensuring the value of the display ads is being driven through a measurable funnel, and the cost of being able to make the conversion of interest to intention to transaction is a worthwhile allocation (or reallocation) of dollars. Perhaps this is just the natural consequence of “owning a part of the language” for mind share. There are clear parallels here to the rise in importance of tagging relative to search, but perhaps we have just not seen tag based marketing mature to the point of encountering this issue widely yet.
It clearly costs more money to use display ads to drive more people through search marketing. The question to be determined is whether the intentions behind advocating for this strategic approach is driven by the virtuous idea of increasing effectiveness and the efficient use of dollars, or is it just a greedy land grab trying to increase the overall dollars captured by search marketing? Perhaps it is both…
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