Online Balance

John Wagner has an excellent post about what I have always referred to as “the happy medium”.

Sometimes it seems that the PR world has been divided into two camps. One is sold on social media and spends many waking moments talking and writing about it on blogs, podcasts and other forums. These folks go to conferences, speak at conferences, listen to conferences, then post and post and post and talk and talk and talk about what a difference social media is making. The other camp could care less.

The trouble is that neither of these camps are completely right. The world of marketing is moving toward social media….however, we’re only in the early part of the adoption curve on it. There are meaty hunks of the populace who still have no idea about this blogosphere that we’re all familiar with. All the barcamp-mashup-meshup-rss-web2.0-blogconference buzz in the entire world is not currently able to reach most of the masses.

And before you non-social media people start your victory dance….your days are numbered and the power of traditional media and marketing is diminishing daily.

Right now, the happy medium is where it’s at. As John says in his post….Blog a little and live a little.

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The Name Game

Naming a business is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. It’s second only to naming a child (Pass the salt, Veleena.)

Nine years ago, I gave my marketing practice the name, Shotgun Concepts. Sometimes people ask me what that means. (“Well, Shotgun is Norse for “Sage Marketing Wizard” and Concepts means… “)

Actually, I was dating a girl at the time and my nickname for her was “Shotgun”. Luckily, today that girl is my wife and the mother of my children. Don’t name a business after a girlfriend. You might not be so lucky.

Shotgun also fit because I have a very broad “big picture” outlook on marketing….just like a broad shotgun blast.

I’ve never liked the fact I stuck the word “Concepts” in there. I was younger and more stupid nine years ago and hadn’t fully appreciated how that word would fade into “business speak”. It could have been “The Shotgun Group” or the painfully obvious “Shotgun Marketing”. But now, “concepts” is engrained in URLs, letterhead, legal paperwork, and people’s minds. It’s too late to change.

So I was glad to see this post on Adrants today. There’s a blog movement to get the word “concept” as it’s used in the marketing/ad world (as a verb) added to the dictionary.
–to concept (knspt) – v. 1. A process whereby ideas are generated for the purpose of creatively solving a problem.

Fits perfectly.

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Another Corporate Blog Disaster

I would think after the Captain Morgan blog and similar corporate/marketing blog disasters that businesses would have learned one of the 1st rules of corporate blogging…that fictional characters CANNOT blog.

But hey, why learn from others mistakes when you can make your own?

The Pink Panther launched a “blog” this month. Surprisingly, he talks alot about insulation. (New hot tag! – )

Which reminds me of my favorite (and only) Pink Panther joke….
Q. What did the Pink Panther say when he stepped on an ant?
A. Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadaaaaaant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant…
(sing it and you’ll get it)

Afraid your organization / business will be making big corporate blog mistakes? I have a new keynote presentation thats geared to organizations/groups who don’t know much about blogging as a marketing function, but need to. It’s already tentatively booked with two groups in the coming months. Here’s the “official” description…

Corporate / Business Blogs (Marketing as Conversation)
You’ve heard of blogs and maybe you’ve even read one, but have you ever considered blogging as a part of your marketing strategy? You may not realize it, but corporate blogging is an easy way to do something that marketers have strived to do for years. Did you know that even if your company doesn’t have a blog, blogs can still influence the success or failure of your company? Are corporate blogs just the latest business trend that will soon be yesterday’s fad?
Chris Houchens will discuss how blogs can be used by an organization in either a marketing or corporate sense. His presentation will address the past, present and future trend of blogging as a marketing tool and will highlight several real world business blog successes and failures. Learn the challenges and opportunities of using a blog to promote a business and learn the dos and don’ts of the blogosphere
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If you’d like to book this presentation or would like information about any of my speaking topics, please visit my website.

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Death of TV ads

Two options for talking to the public…

1) Speak honestly to them. Sometimes they’ll be interested and listen. Sometimes they won’t and will tune you out. Not going to buy this time?….Well, maybe next time.

2) Take out a gun, point it at them and say “You’re going to listen.”.

The first option makes the customer want to have another conversation with you when it’s time to buy something.

The second doesn’t.

Philips has created a technology that could let broadcasters freeze a channel during a commercial, so viewers wouldn’t be able to avoid it. (See full story here.)

My favorite quote?

“Philips acknowledged, however, that the anti-channel changing technology might not sit well with consumers and suggested in its patent filing that consumers be allowed to avoid the feature if they paid broadcasters a fee.”

If this technology is deployed, it will work for a short while…and then the 30-second spot will fully die.

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Everything old

The old energy drinks were before their time…now they’re being marketed again.

They’re re-introducing Jolt Cola…(via AdJab)

Surge has been re-tooled as Vault.

Now if we can just get Pepsi to return my favorite discontinued drink, Josta, to store shelves, I’ll be happy. I’m having a hard time getting guarana berries to grow in KY.

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Somebody start working on this

Hey Google or Technorati…or anyone else smart enough to do it…here’s a project that you can start working on….

I would love to see a blog search that goes beyond ranking just by incoming links but as an algorithm with different weights for updated entries, incoming links, and RSS subscribers.

Or maybe…is there enough out there already to do a mashup?

I don’t have the technical skills to do it…so I’m giving the idea for free. Just give me a nod when you launch…(and index me, of course).

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Slam Dunk

It’s always interesting to know how consumers actually use your product. The more you know about the use, the better you can market it.

A great example is when Avon found out people were using Skin-So-Soft as an insect repellent. They changed the marketing to match how the consumers were using it.

Nabisco has announced that the shape of Oreos will change for 6 weeks this summer. They will become oblong “Oreo Dunkers” with messages written on them like “Dunk Me” and “Milk’s Favorite Cookie”. The dunkers will also have lines showing levels of “dry,” “soaked,” and “soggy.”

Apart from my questions of why Oreos would pull such a really bad branding move….My big question is: Who actually eats Oreos this way? I’ve never dunked a cookie…and I’ve never seen anyone in real life eat an Oreo this way. Maybe I’m just sheltered and out of the mainstream (wouldn’t be the 1st time).

But I think it’s something else. Nearly every Oreo ad has someone dunking the cookie in a glass of milk. I think Oreo dunking is a public lie, something that everyone believes, but still isn’t true. And maybe Nabisco has fallen prey to its own ad message.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Do you dunk?

Update: Apparently, I was wrong. The comments on this post reflect a bunch of dunkers.

However, from the larger P.O.V. of brand strategy…I still think it’s risky to change one of the Oreo brand hallmarks (the shape) for a stunt.

The New Business Strategy Model

Dmitry Linkov is a consultant and entrepreneur in Moscow and has been a friend of the Shotgun Marketing Blog for several months as a reader and commenter. Dmitry is currently working on a project and is soliciting ideas and quotes on the topic of the current state / evolution of Business Strategy.

Of course, anytime I can contribute information that will be published in Russian, I’m in. Here are my thoughts to his query…

We are currently at the beginning of a dramatic shift in the way that business strategy will be crafted. In the past and to a large part today, businesses have developed strategies that relied upon controlling a one-way message that went out to the market.

Today, we find that the message is starting to become two-way and multi-dimensional. Many messages about a company don’t even include the business as a participant. As the 1st Thesis of the Cluetrain states, “Markets are Conversations”.

As a part of a sound business strategy, corporations must learn to guide (not dictate) how these conversations are developed. They must be observant and reactive (or proactive) to what marketing messages are generated about them through channels such as consumer generated content, blogs, and other aspects of the new social model of the Internet. The challenge in business strategy in the next 10 years will be the switch from the old guard to this new model.

That’s my 2 cents. Maybe you agree or have a different idea. Please visit Dmitry and contribute. He’s also going to organize all the info he collects and post it (in English!) on his blog.

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Blogs as a Marketing Research Tool

Alex asks the following question in the comments of my recent marketing research post….

“I know it’s not hugely scientific, but I’m sure with a little imagination a decent blog could provide businesses with very useful focus group style feedback.Comments from existing customers, passing traffic, a few people you direct to the site could all prove to be valuable.Is this plausible or is online research always a little dubious?”

I think it’s important to note the distinction between feedback and research. Feedback is fabulous. Businesses can gain a lot by just listening to customers. (But, you wonder why so many don’t.) I think feedback can come from anyone and everyone including your acquaintances, customers, and even your blog readers. Research, on the other hand, should be done with blind, random samples that take out most, if not all, of the factors that could taint the results – the essential feature in providing the custom assignment help. Feedback is something you can say and carry around in your head. Research is hard numbers on paper that you can use to prove points and make decisions.

Using online methods to do marketing research has a few problems….

1) You automatically have limited your sample to customers who not only have computer access, but are also computer literate/savvy enough to take part. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably pretty savvy, but when I speak to groups, I still have to explain to intelligent successful businesspeople what a blog is. I have a friend who calls me all the time to explain to her how to insert a column in MS Excel. In many ways, we’re still on the left side of the adoption curve.

2) The audience you’re gathering feedback from is an important factor. For example. a software company developing a new program is likely to prompt more blog feedback than an auto manufacturer developing a new line of pickup trucks.

3) One of the problems with feedback from blogs is that a vocal minority could override the opinions of the majority. There are great masses of people scanning blogs everyday, but how many comments/trackbacks are there? Even the A-listers don’t have very many comments/trackbacks as a percentage of the actual traffic. When you rely on blog feedback, you’ve silenced a large majority of your readers.

In addition, the “blog as a focus group” model breaks some of the basic rules of focus groups. It’s not random…the participants are self-selecting themselves and already have a positive bias to you. And technically, you’re moderating the group by posting topics and leading them. It would be like the manager of a Pizza Hut grabbing customers as they walked in the restaurant to do a focus group about why people like pizza.

Is all online marketing research dubious? It depends. It depends both on the audience you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to find out. If both those things fit into an online model, I think you’re fine. But the largest factor in any marketing research project, online or real world, is the methodology. Research HAS to be designed well with qualified random samples.

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