Who’s in control?

First off, this is an a-political post. I have no horse in the race. I’m just looking at the marketing/media issues of this situation.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a web video circulating that uses footage from the classic 1984 Apple spot. However, in this version, Hillary Clinton takes the place of “Big Brother”. And the tagline sends people to the Obama campaign site. See the spot here…

There’s been quite a bit of speculation about if the ad came from the Barack Obama camp. It turns out the answer was “kinda” as someone who worked for an internet strategy firm hired by the Obama campaign did it on their own. (and has been fired for it)

There’s lots of big thoughts here, and I could expand on each of these points, but here are some quick ponderings…

1) Welcome to the Tipping Point for user-generated content and politics. If candidates thought that bloggers were trouble in the last election cycle, they haven’t seen anything yet. Sure, this ad was created by a “professional”, but it could have just as easily been done by anyone else. And the line between professional and homemade with viral web video is miniscule.

2) Wake up. Everyone is now able to create their own political ad (or any kind of ad, for that matter). If you have a message and an internet connection, you have the world’s attention. This has been clear for some time now, but the mainstream has just picked up on it.

3) If you think you can control your marketing mesage, you’re wrong. If two tightly controlled soundbite driven political campaigns can’t control their messaging, what makes you think you can?

4) The thing that I’ve seen no one mention about all this is the fact that Apple’s message was corrupted. I’m sure the iPod generation doesn’t really know the 1984 ad (actually, I could make the argument that not many people outside the advertising world know anything about it). But, it’s something to consider. Is someone going to re-format your focused marketing for their own purpose?

Bottom line: You no longer have dominant control over messages. The best you can hope for is to guide the conversation. If you’re just now figuring this out, you’re in trouble.

Gump Marketing

Lately, I’ve noticed lots of companies have adopted a Forrest Gump marketing philosophy.

This occurs when you’re not taking care of the marketing side of the business, but you’re still growing and opportunities are presenting themselves because of destiny and/or blind luck.

Does it work for some businesses? Yes.

Is it a sound philosophy? No.

Because while sometimes you find yourself an international ping pong champion who meets Nixon, you could just as easily be waistdeep in mud in Southeast Asia while Jenny is back in the states getting high.

You control your marketing destiny. Don’t be swayed by wherever the current takes you. Develop a marketing plan and get to the goal.

Awol. Sorry.

Posting has been light lately as I have been embroiled in several client and in-house projects. Long hours now, but two neat items on the horizon.

  • Look for a new webinar with Health Leaders Media coming up in late April.
  • I’ve been contracted to write a chapter for a book that’s coming out late this Spring.

Details on both are coming soon.

This Old Pledge Week

It’s pledge week for both my local public television stations. And frankly, it’s annoying on many levels.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like public TV. I watch both these channels quite a bit. But here’s the problem.

The shows that they air during “pledge week” are REALLY hard to find on the station during the rest of the year. The rest of the year I have to scan for something good between British non-humour and watching zebras mate. But, for now, every show is really good except when they interrupt it with pleas for money a.k.a. “gifts”.

Ahhh, but they really aren’t gifts. People are buying the CD with their $20 gift. Or you could buy the DVD with your $50 gift. Or you can get the CD, the DVD, and the limited edition hardcover commemorative book with the fold out sleeve and a compass in the stock for your $100 gift.

In reality, these gifts make the station blind to their own ruse. They see the $100 pledges come in and can promote the “fact” that people in the community support public TV. No. People in the community want to buy $100 CDs.

But what annoys me more than anything are the blatant lies. “Only you can keep this type of music on public television”…..”You’re helping to keep Elvis’ music alive with your pledge”….”You’re supporting this traditional gospel music with your donation.”

You’re not supporting anything. You’re giving money to the station who probably won’t broadcast anything like what you’re watching until the next time they need money. And I guess they do need the money. But it’s another example of a business achieving short term gains while killing their long term prospects.

What about the politically conservative little old lady who sent in 20 bucks because she wanted to “support” the gospel music of Bill Gaither? Next week, she’ll tune in and see a show that features things that are the polar opposite of her moral compass.. Or what about the die-hard Elvis fan who sent in 50 bucks to keep rock-n-roll alive (and to get the CD) and tunes in next week only to find musical choices that are anything but rock-n-roll? Are the people you’re tricking this week going to stick with you the rest of the year? Or will they be back next year?

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a tirade against public TV. It’s a tirade against ANY business (your business?) that lies/fudges/puts on a show this week to trick someone into a sale….and then scratches their head next week when their core customer base shrinks.

Are you putting on theatre this week? Are you now offering specials that are REALLY going to be hard to find the rest of the year? Do you think your business model is a success just because people are giving you money…or are they really just trying to get a “gift” that has nothing to do with your business?

Are you killing your own customer base?

You know some of this

Vizu Research in conjunction with Ad Age has done a blog readership study. Some interesting numbers, a few things you already knew, and some surprises:

–How many and how often do people read blogs?
-30.8% of blog readers read more than three blogs regularly
–and of the blogs they read most often, 68.3% of respondents said they read them daily.

–Community is a primary driver of readership within the blogosphere
-When asked how they find the blogs they read, 67.3% follow links from other blogs.
-Recommendations on blogs (22.9%) is ranked higher than finding links on search engines (19.6%) when selecting which blogs to read.

–What makes a good blog?
-43.9% of respondents said the quality of writing determines which blogs they will read regularly, and 43.6% said that topical focus is a key determinant of regular readership.
-51.5% said quality of writing helps them assess which blogs are credible and high-quality, and 38% said it was the author’s reputation that drives perceived credibility.
-Post frequency and site design are also drivers of perceived blog quality.

–What makes a blog a blog?
– 38.4% replied that expressing personal opinions is the key element in separating blogs from other online media.
-Other factors include: writing style (28.2%), editorial freedom (26.3%) and layout (25.8%).

–Why people read blogs…
-65.7% read for entertainment, and 42.5% read about Personal Interests/Hobbies.
-32.5% read for education and information.
-1 in 8 (12.3%) reported reading blogs for work or business.

–Why blogs are read for work?
-The majority of those who read blogs for work use them as a tracking tool as opposed to a research tool.
-27.3% use blogs to track specific trends or issues, while 49% of respondents said they don’t read blogs for work or business.

Find more about this study in 3/5 issue of Ad Age or read the PDF of the entire report here. Thanks to Ryan for the heads up on the report.