Flip Video Camera - Great for Marketers

Just bought a Flip Video camera a couple days ago. Light, small, and painfully simple to use. Sure, you can't do all the fancy stuff, but it works, you can download right into your USB port with no cords.

As I was playing around with it, I thought about all the cool things you could do with this from a marketing perspective. I was not alone, Community Guy covered the same topic, and here is what Marketing Profs writer Mark said about them:
  • Media outlets: Can give readers/viewers Flips to record events from their perspective and submit their own reports
  • Jeep: Use Flips to help feed the Jeep Experience site
  • Sports teams: Allow fans to cover their team and set up a site to “air” the reports
  • Travel-related businesses: Give them away so people can document and share their experiences
  • Packaged goods brands: Ask people to create their own testimonial of their product experience
From MarketingProfs Daily Fix via Community Guy


99 Designs: Crowdsourcing that Works

So says the headline today from Web Worker Daily, and we agree. Having used 99Designs a few times, its efficient and typically can get pretty good results. We've used it for logo design and general icon and graphic design.

The Wisdom of Crowds, blah, blah, blah, crowdsourcing, blah, blah, blah...we know...but said another way, 99Designs works by simple economic and capitalism. Opening up a problem to a large group of providers allows supply and demand, and survival of the fittest to thrive. And in a lot of cases, you the buyer get pretty good work.


Predicting 2000 in 1900

Ladies Home Journal, circa 1900, and their predictions as to where we'd be by 2000.

Crazy - read on

The Physics of Marketing - Newton’s Law of Gravitation

If big brands - Coke, FedEx, Nike, etc. - are large enough entities that they have consumer "gravity"...how do little brands stand a chance of getting some of that “pull” with customers. According to davidebowman.com, proximity - the other part of Newton’s Theory.

Small companies must get close to the customer in order to stand any chance of survival. They can actually use this to thrive and exert considerable influence if properly executed.
Read more

From davidebowman.com

Nintendo Won't Cut Prices On The Wii

So you mean, if a product is truly innovative and good, it might be able to hold price? Fascinating...

Kudos Nintendo...read more.

Who risks more - entrepreneur or VC?

Who takes more risk? The venture capitalist who funds a start-up, or the entrepreneur who founds it?

Answer? The entrepreneur.

Intrigued? Read more at Hank Williams' article on Silicon Alley Insider


Still not taking social media seriously??

Can't believe that would be true...or at least I hope not...

According to a new study from the Society for New Communications Research, 72% of consumers use social media resources to research a company's reputation before making a purchase decision. Seventy-four percent of consumers report basing their decisions to do business with a company on their social media research. The study also found that 59% of those surveyed say they use social media as a place to vent their customer service frustrations. - WOMMA Word via ClickZ

And there are plenty of companies tracking online buzz...like Crawdad Technologies and new beta service Trendpedia.


Anti-Advertising Agency Participating in What It Condemns

From The Consumerist

Homeowners rejoice, a new way to better manage contractors

Ever been watching 20/20, 60 Minutes, or the local news for that matter, and you see a segment about some poor people who got royally screwed by their home contractor? Best case the contractor is incompetent, worst case its outright fraud. Either way the homeowners are out of a lot of money.

Well, now there is an answer - Buildproof - which launched today.
From their press release:

The system provides a simple-to-use solution to the financial risks and anxieties long-associated with home remodeling. Arizona is the first target market for Buildproof and the company plans to expand nationwide in the coming months.
  • Arizona homeowners experience up to $25 million in annual losses due to contractor fraud. Buildproof protects these homeowners, but also provides contractors with the ability to secure payments before, during and upon completion of the home improvement project.
  • Buildproof brings safety and stability to the $300 billion home improvement and remodeling industry by providing a “Safe House” money system. Project funds are held by an independent third-party financial institution to ensure safe handling and timely payment processing. There is no cost for homeowners to use the Buildproof system and contractors are only required to pay a small percentage of the total project cost.
  • According to the most recent study by the NACAA, home improvement is the number one most complained about industry in the U.S. Buildproof’s project management system enables homeowners and contractors to streamline communication and track project milestones.

Read their launch press release, or visit Buildproof.com.

Top 10 Most Powerful Brands

1 Google

2 General Electric

3 Microsoft

4 Coca-Cola

5 China Mobile


7 Apple

8 McDonald's

9 Nokia

10 Marlboro

Source: Millward Brown Optimor's 2008 BrandZ Rankings


Starbucks goes retro

Starbucks is using a special brown logo to evoke the chain's beginnings and restore some goodwill for the brand.

A "nostalgia" effort by Howard Schultz and the Starbucks team - what do you think?

Get Starbucks stuff

Article & image from BusinessWeek


Is there an entrepreneur gene?

VC Fred Wilson was interviewed by a reporter on Monday, on the topic of what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur. Thanks to Found/Read, here are three Q&A:

Q: What is entrepreneurship?
A: It’s the art of turning an idea into a business.

Q: Can entrepreneurship be taught/learned?
A: I don’t think so. It’s like a personality disorder. You are born with it.

Q: What do you look for in entrepreneurs?
A: First and foremost, they need to be magnets. For talent. For money. For attention. And for much more.

When someone strikes out in an entrepreneurial endeavor without really being an entrepreneur, Michael Gerber (of E-Myth fame) calls it an "entrepreneurial seizure." What do you think?

Let the airlines go out of business

Delta will start charging passengers $25 for checking a second piece of luggage starting in May, joining United and US Airways in instituting the new fee.

U.S. Airways (or as we Pittsburghers like to call it, U.S. Scare), is going to start charging people an extra $5 for an aisle or window seat. I have a question, what happens if there are no other open seats but I wanted a middle seat, do I get punished?


How f-ing stupid. So we're in a bad economy, times are tight for everyone, fuel costs are through the roof. I got it. But these guys are doing the exact OPPOSITE of what they should be doing. They should be giving consumers a break on price, not making the flying experience that much more shitty. Will this impact short-term revenues? Yes. But will it possibly increase people flying and maybe (God forbid) build some goodwill for the airline's brand and the industry? Definitely. And can they honestly say that an extra $5 on the already overpriced ticket is going to offset the hatred that will be caused? I am (make that was) a Delta fan. It costs me, my wife and 2-yr old almost $1000 to fly somewhere together. Now, because we're a traveling family (isn't that what they f-ing want?), we're going to get dinged another $50-75 at least? Idiots.

The government needs to stop bailing these airlines out. Let capitalism and the market work. Let the airlines go out of business. That is the only way to make them start listening to the consumers...hey, isn't that what the businesses and the government are supposed to do?

Delta info from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Consumerist

Common Craft - Taking the UPS Whiteboard to the masses

We first learned about these cats from Community Guy (so thank you!) - they take the UPS whiteboard idea and have made it a business. They make short videos to explain complex ideas and products, from twitter to Redfin, RSS to wikis. I'm working with several clients who could use this service. They also resell the videos, another good idea and free advertising for those whom they have made videos. This whole idea of simple drawings as a medium to effectively communicate complicated ideas is also featured in this month's Fast Company (article not online yet).

Check out Common Craft

Photo from Community Guy


If you ever wished you could have Peter Parker as a MySpace friend

Now you have your chance...
"To get the word out about its crossover event "Secret Invasion," Marvel Comics is tapping a variety of social media outlets. Efforts include a fictional MySpace profile featuring video blog posts from a teenage girl whose brother is involved in events that unfold in "Secret Invasion." Thus far, the videos have generated nearly a quarter of a million views, and the profile has attracted "friends" from demographics that Marvel rarely penetrates -- specifically 18- to 22-year-old girls."
From WOMMA Word


When to listen to your agency's crazy ideas

Interesting article today in Marketing Daily by Phyllis Dealy titled "You Say Your Agency's Annoying Like It's A Bad Thing" We've all been there, I know I have, when an agency comes up with a crazy idea that at first glance seems both insane and probably expensive, so its dismissed. But sometimes there are times when you need to trust your vendors/partners, especially if they are persistently pitching these ideas. Those times, according to the article, are:

1. Testing a mobile marketing program - OK, I can bite on this one, especially if I'm a consumer goods company, and maybe if I sell B2B depending on the situtation. It has lagged to date, but at some point US mobile use will catch up to Asia and Europe and it will become a major media vehicle.

2. Brandcasting - "The ultimate multi-channel play" according to the article, the idea is brand as channel. I think this can only work in two cases. One, you truly have an iconic brand (Apple, Harley, Nike, etc.). Two, you are completely a new company with no brand recognition and you're in effect branding the channel and then using the exhaust on this to brand your product. Both cases are rare, and everyone thinks they can be a YouTube success story which often makes you look lame, so wade into these waters carefully.

3. Pushing a creative or media idea that's 'too big' 'too expensive' or has 'nothing to do with your brand' - - Again, I agree with this. Within reason, you have to let your agency do what they do best, trust them, and measure the results as best you can.

Weekly Top 10 Bestselling Entrepreneurship Books

According to Amazon.com as of 04.11.08

  1. The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich - by Timothy Ferris and Ray Porter
  2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - by Steven Covey
  3. Earth: The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming - by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn
  4. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It - by Michael E. Gerber
  5. First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently - by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
  6. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth - by T. Harv Eker
  7. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box - by Arbinger Institute and The Arbinger Institute
  8. The Leadership Challenge - by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
  9. The One Minute Manager - by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  10. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies - by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras


Weekly Top 10 Marketing Books

According to Amazon.com as of 04.10.08
  1. Guerilla Marketing, 4th edition - by Jay Conrad Levinson
  2. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable - Seth Godin
  3. Brand Gap: Expanded Edition - by Marty Neumeier
  4. Internet Riches: The Simple Money-making Secrets of Online Millionaires - by Scott Fox
  5. Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People - by Marc Gobe, Marc Gob, & Sergio Zyman
  6. Strategic Marketing Analysis, 2nd Edition - by Alexander Chernev
  7. Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition - by Jack Trout
  8. Email Marketing By the Numbers: How to Use the World's Greatest Marketing Tool to Take Any Organization to the Next Level - by Chris Baggott and Ali Sales
  9. Branded: The Buying & Selling of Teenagers - by Alissa Quart
  10. Life After the 30-Second Spot: Energize Your Brand With a Bold Mix of Alternatives to Traditional Advertising - by Joseph Jaffe

Does no one know what the definition of "marketing" is?

167 B2B marketers, 86 B2C marketers and 130 hybrid marketers answered a survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers and BtoB. Some of the findings of the study are below. As I sometimes do in email conversations...my comments below in ALL CAPS.
  • Among companies that had undergone a reorganization (some 70 percent in the past three years, according to another ANA strudy), 62 percent of the B2B marketers cited marketing communications as the primary role of marketing prior to the reorganization. TRULY AMAZING. THE WHOLE WORLD SEEMS TO CHOOSE TO DEFINE MARKETING BY ITS ORGANIZATIONAL TITLE RATHER THAN WHAT IT REALLY IS. HAS NO ONE EVER HEARD OF THE 4 P'S? DOES ANYONE KNOW WHO PHILIP KOTLER IS? THESE PEOPLE SHOULD READ KOTLER FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
  • Marcom was cited as the primary role following reorganization by 47 percent of B2B marketers. SAME COMMENT, SAME DISGUST.
  • One of the biggest shifts has been in the primacy of strategy: Only 14 percent of B2B marketers identified strategy/innovation as their primary role prior to reorganization; 24 percent said strategy/innovation was their primary role following reorganization. STILL TOO LOW, THESE RESPONDENTS DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE THERE TO DO, WHICH IS SELL MORE PRODUCTS TO MORE PEOPLE MORE OFTEN FOR MORE MONEY (TO PARAPHRASE SERGIO ZYMAN, SOMEONE ELSE I'M SURE THEY DON'T KNOW).
  • Another function seeing elevated status among marketers is directing new business development: Only 10 percent of B2B marketers said new business development was a primary goal prior to reorganization, compared with 23 percent following reorganization. RUNNING OUT OF WAYS TO VOICE THE SAME COMMENT...
  • Though B2B marketers' role has become more strategic, only 11 percent said marketing "always" makes strategic decisions in the organization; 37 percent said "most of the time." PAIN TOO GREAT...CAN'T...GO...ON...
  • That's in contrast to the 17 percent of B2C marketers who said marketing "always" makes strategic decisions, and 39 percent who said "most of the time." I WOULD VENTURE A GUESS THAT THIS IS BECAUSE B2C MARKETERS FEEL THAT THEY ARE CLOSER TO THE CONSUMER THAN IN B2B CASES, WHERE OFTEN THE SALES FUNCTION COMMANDEERS THAT ROLE.
  • Just 49 percent of B2B marketers said marketing works in partnership with the CEO "most of the time" or "always." That's in contrast to 58 percent of the B2C marketers who said so. BOTH OF THESE ARE PRETTY HIGH, WHICH GIVES ME HOPE, AND ENDS THIS POST MERCIFULLY ON A HIGH NOTE.
From MarketingCharts

Want to know where to buy ads? Ask the people!

Silicon Alley Insider had a post today about Hilary Clinton's online plea to raise money for her do-or-die Pennsylvania primary campaign. She did it in an interesting way, she built a widget that asked the people (novel idea) where she should buy ads, and also solicited donations. I actually think this is a very smart, albeit woefully late, idea. I think with all the distrust, frustration and overall disgust with both sides of the campaign finance issue, putting more voice in the hands of the people is a good thing. Not to mention, its just plain good marketing, especially in this day and age. Had she been this innovative and, dare I say, truly democratic, she might not be in the hole she's in currently.

Another interesting site to give people more of a voice this election season with their political advertising is Pixelection. You buy pixel ads, like the Million Dollar Homepage, but the difference is you buy an ad to promote your candidate or cause, and 20% of the proceeds go to that campaign.

From Silicon Alley Insider


Spending on Chotchkes Hits Record High

Marketing Daily reports that industry revenues for "advertising specialties" reached $19.6 billion in 2007, up 5.4% from 2006 and a new record. What is a little crazy is that the spending was 83% greater than radio advertising, 73% greater than Internet display ads and nearly five times larger than outdoor advertising for the same period.

Some may call them advertising specialties, some may call them promotional products, I call them chotchkes. They are items and incentives branded with a company logo or marketing message. I typically am not a huge fan of these types of items, mostly because they typically are wastes of money. That's not to say all promotional items are a waste, but what I think many people fail to look at is whether the items they want to give away accomplish a business/marketing goal.

Think of it this way. You're basically giving $1 bills away each time you hand something out, so shouldn't you be thinking about whether that item has the potential to get you $2 in return? The answer is yes.

So when I'm looking at promotional items, I look at two criteria. One, does the item itself, both what it is and its quality, match your company's brand? Two, does the item have lasting value. In other words, is it something that the recipient will use, will it last, will they see the logo (this is an advertising medium after all, by the way).

For example, I have a client with an online service for homeowners and contractors (Buildproof). When we exhibit at events, we have three promotional items: branded carpenter pencils, coffee mugs, and stickers. The pencils make sense for the brand (home remodeling & construction), and the target audience will use them (exposure). The mugs, same thing, nice coffee mugs will sit on people's desks or work areas, making a mini-billboard for the company. The stickers, stickers are, in my opinion, maybe the best chotchke around. You stick that somewhere (in this case on your bumper, which many contractors do), and you have a nearly permanent billboard for your company.

Here are two short lists of the good and the bad promotional items in my mind:

  • Flash drive (decent but expensive, and don't expect anyone to look at the files you load on it)
  • Candy or most anything edible (unless its your own product)
  • Stress balls
  • Bottled water
  • Puzzles
  • Stuffed animals

From Nina M. Lentini, Marketing Daily and The Advertisinmg Specialty Institute; Image from OneStopPromos


Slow economy? Cut marketing...big surprise...not.

"Big marketers are cutting back overall budgets this year, but not not online spending, which is being largely left intact or getting a small increase in 2008.

Total budgets down: 60% of large companies had either cut or are planning to cut marketing budgets 2008, the survey says, compared to 29% of midsized marketers and only 13% of small ones. Only 16% of big marketers said they were increasing budgets, and 19% reported no change.

Online budgets flat, or up slightly: 38% said they planned to increase online spending, while 45% said online spending would stay the same in 2008. Only 17% said they expected to reduce online marketing, compared to 36% for offline media."

This is always the case, cut marketing to save costs, right? Wrong. This idea is based on an incomplete definition of marketing that causes an incorrect assumption. Most companies believe marketing is advertising, promotion, PR, collateral, logos, etc. (who here hasn't had to shoehorn your marketing budget into the bean counter's "A&P" line item?). One SUBSET of marketing is all of those things, but how soon we forget that there are 3 other "P's" to the marketing equation - Product, Price and Place.

Marketing is identifying a need in the marketplace and fulfilling that need, profitably. It is reading the market, translating those needs into products, building demand for the products, and then getting the product in their hands. So...doesn't it stand to reason that in a down economy, with people having less money and more anxiety, that companies should be embracing those new market requirements and finding a way to still serve their consumers? Doing so, of course, makes the companies money as well as keeps the economy moving.

In other words, shouldn't these companies be spending MORE on marketing in a down economy?

Now, the upside of the stats above is that they're not cutting back where they can measure, i.e. online. So this is good news overall. The ability to measure marketing online is one of the ways we can fight the knee-jerk reaction to cut "marketing."

From Silicon Alley Insider