Monthly Archives: August 2006

Planetary Branding

Before I begin…let me just say this analogy is imperfect…but we’re working on it.

The planet Pluto got “demoted” this week. It’s now official. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. It’s now a “dwarf planet” or a “trans-Neptunian object”.

But, a lot of people aren’t buying that. Depending on which recent poll numbers you believe, 60 to 80% of people are saying they’ll still treat Pluto as a planet.

See, it’s been the common view that Pluto is a planet for the last 76 years. In fact, the astronomers even took what the public might think into account in the decision since we all kind of have an interest in “our” solar system. Some of the astronomers were even trying to “save Pluto”. That’s why the 12 (plus) planet model was proposed last week.

Now obviously, this is a science/astronomy issue and this isn’t the Shotgun Astronomy Blog. What’s the link with marketing?

If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you’ll know that my brand philosophy states that branding is one of the most important marketing tools, but I am adamantly opposed to the idea of “re-branding” As evidenced [here] [here] [here] [here] and [here]

Scientific classification needs aside….in essence, the IAU attempted to “re-brand” the solar system last week. Nothing has changed out in the cosmos. We’re just supposed to describe it and relate to it in a different way.

In the same way that you might be rolling your eyes at this IAU Pluto decision, consumers roll their eyes when you throw out a new logo and say “things are different, now!”.

Brands don’t change overnight. Brands are created by the consumer. They are NOT created by the company. Brands are a bottom-up proposition….not top-down. Yes, you can guide the way the brand is developed and place the necessary items in the marketing conversation to lead the development. But, a brand is truly developed with time in the consumers’ experiences with your organization.

And the longer a brand impression is in the consumers’ minds…the longer it will take to change it. The “solar system brand” will have 9 planets for as long as the public wants it to have 9. New textbooks and planetary models will slowly change the public’s perception of the brand.

The next time your company sits around a table and “votes” to change the brand…ask yourself if Pluto is a planet.


Changes in Hitland

The buzz is always about how TV and print are changing with…or are threatened by the new digital world. You hardly ever hear anything about radio dealing with the new realities.

Maybe that’s because some have already written radio’s obit and just don’t worry about it anymore.

But some still figure that radio will always be there in some form. It’s an old argument. TV didn’t kill radio. FM didn’t kill AM. Portable media didn’t kill radio. Each time, radio has adapted and pulled through the threat. But it’s different this time. This time, the radio stations are going to kill radio.

If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you know that I am an “old” radio guy. I was regularly bathed in RF radiation for about 15 years. And once you’ve been in radio, the passion never really leaves you. In fact, on 4 separate occasions in my short life, I have been “this close” to purchasing a radio station (and in one case, I actually had the capital-in-hand to do it!) My love for the medium is one reason I’m disheartened by the course that it seems to be taking.

A great discussion about the way radio is going to have to cope comes from one of my favorite radio “thinkers”, Mark Ramsey. He recently did an interview with Seth Godin (about Seth’s new book, natch) that talked about the future of radio and the dangerous ledge on which it currently stands.

If the technology develops, I say Seth’s “Scenario A” will change not only radio, but everything. However, I agree that “Scenario D” is likely to be the one to emerge.

My favorite quote from the interview is:

Well, if radio is about the “how do I leverage my FCC license” business, you’re in trouble. But if instead you say, “how do I deliver multimedia to local users wherever they are”, then you win.

This is something that all media should take to heart. The current mindset of most media is like Pizza Hut worrying about the delivery guy’s car instead of the pizza. It’s not about the delivery method. It’s all about the content.


UPDATE:: And even if you think they are a monopolistic gorilla, apparently Clear Channel is getting the message

Same Bat Time : Same Bat ?


What’s wrong with this billboard?
(Other than the fact that they make a weird couple.)

You’d think a TV station would know something about advertising. But, you’d be wrong.

Forgetting one detail makes the entire thing useless.

Maybe the dog knows what channel it’s on.


Was this the best option?

I suppose to maintain my status as a blogger, I have to weigh in on SoaP….

On Monday morning, I predict one of two reactions in the “real” world…
1) Wow. Snakes on a Plane did great at the box office. It’s due to all that blog coverage.
2) Wow. Snakes on a Plane was a flop. I guess blogs aren’t a good way to market.

The world is watching on this. Let’s hope for the sake of the integrity of the blog medium that this movie becomes the next Titanic.

But will it? The blogosphere has whipped up MSM coverage and unrealistic expectations based upon:
1) a B-movie
2) the most unpredictable and unreliable of all “hard numbers”…the weekend box office

Add to this the fact that, as most traditional companies do when dealing with the new world of social marketing, the film company has pulled away from the “blog angle” in the past few weeks and started to market the movie traditionally “just to make sure”

It’s not the product I would have hung our hat on….but you have to trust in the wisdom of crowds…or the wisdom of bloggers.

I wonder had blogs been around at the time…would we have embraced and promoted:
–pet rocks?
–the macarena?
–Billy Ray Cyrus?

[[link::Mack has 3 options on the aftermath next week]]
[[link::John hopes it flops.]]
[[link::the mothership]]


Viral Purple Cow Synergy

(inspired by the recent good-natured sparring between Hugh and Tara…. )

Life cycle of good ideas:
1) Forward thinking individual(s) come up with groundbreaking idea/theory/method/etc
2) Group that surrounds individual(s) takes idea and runs with it…improves it…communicates it.
3) Sales/marketing/ad folks take idea and corrupt it. (book may be written at this stage)
4) Original thinkers shun the idea
5) Rinse. Repeat.

History of late is full of “buzzwords” that initially were great ideas, but then were destroyed by the unwashed masses.

Watch out. The Long Tail is next.


At least the Egyptian ones were useful

So here’s the deal…I have posted my speaking demo/commercial both on Google Video and on You Tube thinking that the viral nature of the beast might result in a speaking gig somehere….or at the very least, a visit to my website.

Imagine my delight and thoughts of how the viral system works when I get a call yesterday morning…
“Saw your video on YouTube and I thought we might be able to work together”

We spoke for about 15 minutes…He seemed impressed with my credentials…He said his organization needed help with “marketing”. I asked for information about his business so I could send him a speaking proposal. He said he would send me an email with the info and a link to his website.

I get the email today.

Pyramid Scheme.

Apparently, my future lies in the world of “speaking” to people to get them to “market” the health-giving juice of this tropical plant.

Now, there are scams all over the internet. There always has been. We should all be able to retire on the Nigerian money by now.

Here’s the lesson for marketers and anyone involved in trying to make an honest buck on the internet:: As we head into this new OPEN world of “web2.0”, beware.

The innovators and early adopters who had compuserve email accounts in the early 90’s thought that email was world-changing. And it was. However, by the time the majority of people had email accounts, spam had taken hold. It made it less useful and has almost ruined the original vision.

The spammers and schemers followed us into email and they’re now following us into blogs, wikis, viral video, etc….faster than they did into email. By the time the majority of people catch up to web2.0, will the original vision we’re talking about today be distorted by the crap? Will it be as useful as we’re building it to be?

Customers. Not Patients.

As I talk to healthcare groups about the new world of healthcare marketing, I emphasize one point that’s sometimes well-received and that’s sometimes cast aside: The healthcare industry must stop thinking of terms of “patients” and need to start thinking in terms of “customers”.

These “customers” have choices: to participate in the treatment, go across the street to another healthcare provider, find alternative treatments, or not be treated at all. Healthcare marketing will influence the decision they make.

I was encouraged by this recent article in Wired magazine The article talks about a few hospitals “getting it” and taking notes from the hotel industry.

It’s a lesson that all businesses can take away. Even if you deal in a commodity that the consumer “has” to have, there’s a need for marketing. And marketing doesn’t necessarily mean more advertising and promotion. The best marketing you can do is to improve the customer experience. The dividends will come soon after that.


It’s not half

Just the other day, I was ranting about the tired old ad cliche “I know half my advertising is wasted, but I don’t know which half.”

A new book coming out next month actually says it’s 37% instead of 50%.

What Sticks looks to be a great book that will shake some long standing ad traditions in corporations. Authors Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart spent five years researching ad campaigns from 36 of the nation’s top advertisers.


Who are you marketing to?

Ah, it’s good to be the King. Or is it?

News that Burger King had a bad day on Wall Street got me thinking….What’s the relationship between marketing and Wall Street perfomance?

Crispin Porter + Bogusky have done a fabulous job with the creative side on the BK advertising. And not just the mass media ads. They have come up with some creative web memes and non-linear marketing that really has increased the TOMA for BK’s target demo.

The trouble is that there aren’t many of Burger King’s target demo working on Wall Street. “We make money the hard way…we visit Subservient Chicken” isn’t a slogan with the big brokers.

There’s a reason companies take out expensive-white-space-intense-full-page-ads in the Wall Street Journal that are full of corporate meaningless buzzwords….It’s to have TOMA with the movers and shakers on Wall Street.

“4th Quarter earnings down for InGenamon Corp, but I saw something in Tuesday’s WSJ that they’re preparing to create meaningful synergistic relationships with their core client base. I think earnings will rise for them. We’ll still recommend the buy.”

While BK’s marketing may be starting to have an effect on customers, I bet they drastically change course after this news to affect the stock. It will be a bad move in the long run.

Don’t please the stockbrokers. Please the customers. The stockbrokers will be happier in the long run.


Do you have any idea what’s going on?

It’s all big. And it’s getting bigger.

Your organization.
Your business.
Your website.
Your blog.

It’s growing. I assume that’s what you want it to do.

But with growth comes troubles. In the beginning, you had time to personally order the URL, talk to the web guy for several hours about what you wanted, and spent gads of time going through the site. In the beginning, you sat down with every new client, personally dealt with any new issues, and were still in touch with what your customers felt.

Today, you’re busy…cause it’s “big”. You’re meeting with clients, dealing with issues, etc. An issue with a client that used to mean a personal visit now gets a phone call or an email. There may be pages on the website you haven’t seen in months.

But while you come through the employee door in the back, the front customer door has a loose handle that annoys customers. There’s a redirect forward on the website that goes to a page that was deleted three months ago and leaves visitors in an online dead-end. The person who answers the phones puts people on hold for too long.

When was the last time you had an expereince with your business as a customer? I tell clients and audiences all the time that they occasionally need to do an actual physical walk-through as a customer and actually try to navigate through their website looking for something. Are there any customer barriers? If there are, get rid of them. As I have said, (even before Seth) get big, but stay small.