Category Archives: customer relationships

Letting Megadeath Replace Killer App or There’s No Emergence without Merging

Note: There will be no mention of Dave Mustaine in the following. However, I’m digging the Sufjanness of the title.

Of late, a term from The Bubble has been rolling around in my head. Not because I’ve heard people using it, but because the behavior that it implies I’m seeing – again. That term is ‘killer app.’

Why? Probably because when folks are feeling they are in desperate times, they tend to reach for something, anything, the proverbial ‘silver bullet’, that will make everything better. And though no one is saying ‘killer app’ these days, much chatter abounds about Twitter, iPhone, Facebook, Orkut, Vimeo, et al and the various cottage industries that have sprung up around them in the form of apps for these platforms or the fact that these things can be reduced to apps that live on other platforms that can also be reduced to apps and live on these things platforms, too.

I completely get the need to have first movers and early adopters pushing the bounds of what is possible and creating buzz around “emerging” media and platforms. I am fine w/ account planners, media/marketing pontificators and prognosticators, bloggers and the ilk spending the majority of their time on Twitter talking about Twitter and the social and anthropological relevance of Twitter and the various ways one can get Twitter, use Twitter, and tweet about Twitter. I’m guilty of playing that game at times myself. I actually learn a lot from these folks – and do my best to filter out what the video link above mentions in an all too honest assessment of the environments. Bitterness, arrogance, hipster inside-edness and flaming is pretty rampant, but if you wade through it – and give as well as you take – you can see wonderful examples of many and varied best practices abound.

Anyway, the magic moving forward will be, IMHO (wait, I’ve got more than 140 characters here) – in my humble opinion – is realizing if your role is one of a zealous quest for turning over the next killer app and it’s relevancy in and of itself before it “tips”, or if you’re responsible for harnessing the disparate powers of these platforms to achieve something greater than the sum of the parts.

What I mean by that is this – IP/digital is practically ubiquitous. The infrastructure is built and it is solid. What we are seeing now are not ’emerging’ media, but new business models and communication platforms in their Gutenberg printing press stages. The winners in the new new media age will be those who can develop strategy to synthesize killer apps either as they arise or as they’re relevant. The winners will be able to decipher – i.e. have enough knowledge of IP/digital platforms – what the avant-garde of the media/marketing industry are talking about and doing and applying it to the early and late majority.

In a nutshell, those who can make the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts – and, most importantly, provide benefit to a large swath of the people that matter to them most – their customers.

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Filed under communication platforms, customer relationships, future of media, the career

Letting Respect Replace Control

What marketer isn’t tired of hearing how they no longer control their brands? They’re either tired of hearing it because they’ve bought into it in some capacity. Or they’re tired of hearing it because they stubbornly hold onto the notion that the brand is theirs and only they can define what it is and isn’t based on what they chose to say primarily through advertising.

Regardless of which end of that potential continuum one resides, I’d propose blowing up the control continuum. Instead, one should plot one’s self across a continuum of respect – as in how much respect you have for your customers.

I was toying w/ a quadrant approach vs. continuum, with control on the x and respect on the y. But thinking that through a bit further, I felt it a cop out.

I would venture to guess that the brands that reside on the most positive end of the respect continuum probably have the most loyal customers. In the final analysis – and especially in the current macro-economic environment – don’t we desire to have loyal customers? And if that is the case, if ceding control brings the ultimate result desired, plotting it is irrelevant.

Besides, we do enough over-complicating in this industry as it is. Didn’t want to muck up The Golden Rule with The Control Freak Corollary.

That said, this isn’t a pure open source advocacy to managing a brand. I do not believe UGC, crowdsourcing and their ilk replace the need for brand standards. However, I do believe the vast rabble of ‘You’, that person of the year just a couple of years ago, is continuously changing how s/he interacts w/ and what s/he expects from brands. In spite of all the philosophizing I’ve read of late about what the original intent of certain platforms were and what they should become by those in the know, and in spite of the fear of ceding control by those not in the know, that is associated w/ the increased ease of two way media (call it social if you please), people are out there using these things. Not being there is not a choice for any brand anymore. Whether we pay for it via advertising or whether we build experiences on the platforms or whether we have staff dedicated to lurk and/or engage, we’re all there. You can’t control what people talk about or where they chose to talk about it – be it in physical or digital places.

And that is OK. I can respect that.

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Filed under communication platforms, customer relationships, push vs. pull

Jeff Tweedy, Marketing Genius

No, I do not own a Volkswagen nor do I intend to buy one – yet. So this post will not discuss the use of Sky Blue Sky as a soundtrack for VW spots, nor be a diatribe against Jeff Tweedy as a sell out (dude, it’s Jeff-freakin-Tweedy in his prime, not Iggy & The Stooges or Led Zep pushing Cadillacs, The Who pushing everything – I’m assuming to pay for Pete Townsend’s legal fees as it pertains to that little kiddy porn incident from a couple years ago, or the vast amounts of relatively indie artists looking to make a buck from their relatively radio unfriendly music – wait, perhaps that’s Tweedy’s angle here). Anyway…

I’m going to reach back about a dozen years to the stellar sophomore effort of Wilco (so good they don’t even have a sophomore slump, though they did have to get the rest of that Tupelo out in the first one before they could become the innovators that they are) that put them on the map – Being There – and specifically the song “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)”. As I dwelt on the lyrics a bit, I took away a conversation that a Brand and a Customer might have in this digital age of two way media…

(Brand to Customer in a patronizing voice): I know, we don’t talk much but you’re such a good talker. I know we should take a walk, but you’re such a fast walker.

(Customer to Brand in an exasperated, frustrated voice): I know where I’ll be tonight, alright. Outta mind, outta sight.

(Brand to Customer, removed from high horse): Well, OK, I know you don’t love me but you still been thinking of me. Well, alright, I know you probably hate me, but that’s OK with me.

(Customer to Brand, becoming dismissive now): Outta mind, outta sight. Outta mind, outta sight. You don’t see me now. You don’t want to anyhow.

(Customer to Brand, threatening): Look out here I come again and I’m bringing my friends. I said look out here I come again and I’m bringing my friends.

(Brand to Customer, defeated and repentant): OK, alright. OK, alright. I know where I’ll be tonight, alright. Outta mind, outta site. I know you don’t love me. I know you don’t love me anymore.

It’s obviously “Wishful Thinking” in this day and age if brands feel they can act like “The Late Greats” and not be left realizing they may be “Too Far Apart” from their customers, and singing a new tune – “Say You Miss Me”.

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Filed under customer relationships, music, random play all

Perception = Reality

I have always been a believer in the concept of perception is reality. Perhaps it comes from a career in advertising where one is either told directly that is the case, or it becomes obvious that manipulating perceptions successfully is the end game.

I’ve come to another conclusion as to why the algebra behind Perception = Reality remains relevant, perhaps why it’s stronger than ever – people as producers or editors.

The speed and reach of the telephone game in a digital age can call attention to a single person’s perception that is easily and quickly picked up by a blogger who not only posts that person’s perception but also sees a story inside a story and adds their perception which starts a separate string off of the original story which gets linked to based on that blogger’s network and perhaps a few more stories within stories generated based on those folks perceptions are begun which can then be picked up by a more traditional media outlet with a more traditional definition of “reach” and “critical mass” and perhaps in a week, perhaps in a day there’s a good amount of people reached and people talking in a number of different industries about a number of different topics and it all began with one person’s perception. Welcome to your reality.

If you believe that your brand is in the hands of your customers, then you believe that their perception is going to create your reality. Even if you still feel like you and only you truly own your brand, why would you be investing in advertising? Aren’t you trying to define perceptions that will lead to a reality of increased business?

The thing is there is a critical mass of people who aren’t passively accepting your ownership of your brand anymore. They aren’t internalizing your messages. They’re talking about them – about your brand – deciding your reality based on their shared perceptions.

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Filed under advertising effectiveness, communication platforms, customer relationships, the career