just a tweet

It should be obvious to anyone by now, but real time publishing is powerful. It can also be dangerously chaotic and unreliable. There’s a wonderful example of it today with the @AP twitter hack. A single tweet made the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge 140 points.

Incidents like this along with the recent Reddit witchhunts in the Boston bombings will cripple the development of new media journalism. There are archaic methods of checks and balance in traditional journalism, but how do you implement something like that across the crowd? And if you could, does it defeat the instantaneous nature of it? It’s a question I don’t have an answer for. Do you?

btw. The tweet should have been an obvious fake from the beginning because hackers don’t use AP Style. Mental Floss has a nice breakdown of that here.

AP twitter hack

oreo was not a slam dunk

From the moment the power went out in the Superdome and Oreo pulled off the social media coup of the Super Bowl Big Game, I knew there would be ad nauseum analysis of it. (pun intended)

And sure enough, over the past two days, it seems that’s all the monday morning advertising quarterbacks can talk about.

While I salute the on-your-feet fast thinking of the Oreo team, I don’t buy it. (Literally. I don’t buy Oreos.) As with all social media flameup darlings that are latched onto by the social media gurus, one essential question is always missed.

Did it sell more cookies?

If it didn’t, it was a marketing failure.

On the flip side of the Oreo phenomenon, everyone (me too) hated the GoDaddy commercials (as always). But GoDaddy had the biggest sales day in the history of the company on the Monday after the Super Bowl.

As I’ve said before, elitist marketing thinking never works with the masses.

one thing I hate about the Internet

Actually, there are many things I hate about Internet culture. Nearly all of them involve the way the web highlights and hastens the ignorance and decline of modern culture.

However, one in particular gets me everytime and a great case study to showcase my consternation just occurred. The very funny @badbanana just tweeted “Seventy percent chance Zooey Deschanel has a pet owl.”

In the @replies and in the comments where he feeds into Facebook, there were several retweets and likes. But there were also a few people who tweeted/commented “Who is Zooey Deschanel?”

I’m not mocking people for their lack of knowledge of Zooey Deschanel. If they’re that sheltered from modern culture, good for them.

BUT… In the time it took to type “Who is Zooey Deschanel?” into the Facebook or Twitter box, you could have typed the same phrase into something called Google (or even Bing!) and it would have told you who Zooey Deschanel was. There would have been pictures and links and videos and you would have become a minor expert about Zooey Deschanel.

But no. You took that time to shout your ignorance from the highest rooftops.

And I can’t figure out why.

And yes, I’m a grouchy old man. Get off my lawn.

(And before someone gets smart in the comments: Zooey Deschanel)

the popcorn button

Nearly every microwave you see has a “popcorn button”.

Nearly every package of microwave popcorn has a warning, “DO NOT USE THE POPCORN BUTTON”.

It’s an impasse.

popcorn buttonThe microwave has a sensor that monitors the moisture and other factors inside the microwave to tell it to shutdown when it senses that the popcorn is done. Meanwhile, the popcorn manufacturers don’t want you to rely on that automation and want you to use your own ears to monitor when the popping slows.

It seems both parties are trying to give you a decent serving of popcorn. (Actually if you want good popcorn, you use something like this.)

I’m sure both parties think they’re serving their customer. In reality, they are each looking out for their own interests and seeing the process from their own worldview. In the process, they’re confusing the real end user of both products.

Seth Godin had a great insight in Purple Cow about an innovation in paint cans from Dutch Boy … “People don’t buy paint, they buy painted walls.

And in this case, people don’t buy popcorn bags and microwaves. They buy corn that has been popped.

Are you looking at your business from your own perspective? Are you battling with an external force that has influence on the final marketing outcome? Instead of an impasse that the end user finds confusing or ridiculous, why not change something? Stalemates get stale.

kentucky kicks a**

One of the very first blog posts I published in 2005 was a repurposing of an op-ed article I wrote for the Courier-Journal about the failure of the Unbridled Spirit “rebranding” of Kentucky. I’ve used that story many many times since then. It’s featured prominently in Brand Zeitgeist. I use it in my marketing keynotes when I speak about branding. Because I’m from the Bluegrass State, it’s one of my favorite ways to talk about misconceptions on brand strategy.

branding keynote speechAfter seven years of lackluster response to Unbridled Spirit, someone decided to do something about it. A group calling themselves Kentucky for Kentucky has taken the task of reimagining the branding of the state commonwealth.

They’ve replaced “Unbridled Spirit” with “Kentucky kicks a**” (no asterisks) complete with a YouTube video that’s gone viral and related merchandise.

Their campaign, which is only a few weeks old, has already outpaced the real campaign run by the Kentucky Department of Tourism in Facebook likes, video views, etc. It made a big jump when it picked up national exposure in the USA Today this week.

Many have faulted the state tourism department spokesman for their response, but I can see the point of the tourism bureaucrats trying to distance themselves from this homegrown branding effort because of the vulgarity of it. It plays well with certain demos, but will turn off others which is a death knell for tourism.

While I’ve gone on record against vulgarity, I do like the fact that this campaign does something right. It has emotion. It has personality. Instead of trying to cram a corporate brand message down someone’s throat, it takes the brand equity that is there and translates it into something people want to share and experience. State leaders should take a lesson of how to properly translate a brand message into something people want to share.

(btw. KY does kick a**.)

best of 2012

Another year has come and gone. As I do every year … [2005] [2006] [2007] [2008] [2009] [2010] [2011] … I present what were the biggest hits of 2012 on the blog for you to revisit if you’re a regular or discover if you are a new reader:

  • For raw numbers of traffic / visitors, it seems appropriate that AAA Marketing ranked first.
  • My recent diatribe on evolving holiday traditions also did well according to the reliable folks at Google Analytics.
  • One of my favorite posts from the past year dealt with the one essential rule for planning a great event.
  • I hate strongly dislike JC Penney. They continue to fail further since I wrote that post in June.
  • Kotex and social media are like peas and carrots.
  • Probably one of the best things I’ve ever written deals with brand leadership. Great brands are built by people.

I’ve been meaning to write a short post about this, but here’s a good a place as any… For the past seven years, I have tried to maintain a laser focus on this blog. I tried to just write about marketing topics with very little tangent material. Frankly, I’ve beat most of the traditional marketing stuff to death and the world doesn’t need more blog posts on how to do social media. In the past few months, there’s been a slight shift in the focus of this blog. That shift will continue and may grow in the future. There will still be the old media, marketing, branding, etc posts, but there will also be some other stuff too.

As always, thanks for reading this stuff, no matter what I output. I truly thank you for being a reader of the Shotgun Marketing Blog my blog. I hope to continue to provide you with useful and entertaining content in 2013. Don’t miss any of upcoming posts by either subscribing to the RSS feed (through a reader or by email) or following me on Twitter or on Facebook.

death of the daily

Almost two years ago, I wrote a scathing review of the new iPad only newspaper “The Daily”. Today, News Corp announced they’re closing down the Daily.

While I’ll stick with much of my initial critique of why it ultimately failed, there’s a simple distilled reason of its failure. A digital newspaper failed for the same reason that traditional newspapers are failing. It’s not about the platform, whether that be an iPad or newsprint. It’s about the content and the audience (and the revenue model)

tradition

freedom from wantI am a staunch traditionalist.

There’s a reason things have been done the same way for a long time. It’s because those things work. Ain’t broke, don’t fix.

Every year around this time, magazines and TV shows start to wear on my traditionalist vein.

“New and exciting recipes for Thanksgiving” is the call of the headline. The magazine’s test kitchen or the celebrity chefs are rolling out alternatives as they reinvent the traditional bird and sides.

And I ask why.

How often does the average American roast an entire turkey EXCEPT in November or December? Do people not crave the holiday feast since it’s such a rarity? People cook this meal so infrequently that there’s a hotline to help them with questions.

And yet, turn on the TV or open the magazine to find someone telling you that you should prepare “Fruit-Loop encrusted turkey drumsticks for a new and exciting taste”. “Forget the whole bird and impress your guests with roadside turkey sliders with a Sriracha cranberry sauce!”

Even as I write this, my wife is planning to abandon a traditional pumpkin pie for something called Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie which sounds like a November mashup concert between Queen and AC/DC. Doesn’t bother me though as I deem any sort of pumpkin pie as a cooled jiggly inedible jack-o-lantern leftover. That recipe came straight out of the pages of this month’s Southern Living magazine. Southern Living used to be a good barometer of the traditional South, but now has been taken over by hipster editors and writers who overly rely on tales of grits and football to fake true Southern credentials.

It’s not just food. “Traditions” are now created to sell things like Elf on the Shelf. The masses are hooked into a faux tradition that was only conjured in 2005 to sell a book. The value of holiday traditions have been replaced with marauding crowds and the economic effects of Black Friday.

Change is inevitable. We wouldn’t pick out the stuff on a Thanksgiving table even 100 years ago and certainly not the original feast with Squanto and Company. Change will happen to us like frogs in the boiling pot. One day, there will be questions of why more people don’t eat the traditional Fruit-Loop encrusted turkey drumsticks anymore. The folks who ask that question will be accused of being square and out of touch.

Who’s responsible? As with most things, I blame the media. The media’s daily job is to convince millions of people to abandon what they know from experience to be true/right only to be replaced with an idea created by a few fresh-out-of-college 20-somethings looking for a hip story or trend.

So I ask you to join the rebellion this year. This Thanksgiving and Christmas, try something truly daring and off the wall. Ignore the hipster media kids. Do everything that way it would have been done in your childhood. Tell your friends to have a Merry Christmas.

Tradition is the new black.

shutdown

I can tell there’s been a new training program shift for B2B cold call telemarketers. They’re now all asking the same self-deflating question to me.

TYPICAL CALL

ME: Hello.

TM: Are you the person in the business responsible for buying snow blowers?! I’m selling snow blowers  Your business needs one now! (plus 30-45 seconds more of non-paused script which, frankly, I don’t have the energy to re-create here in this fictional exchange.)

ME: We’re not interested, thanks.

TM: Can I ask why not?

ME: It doesn’t snow here.

TM: Oh.

The sales seminar down at the airport Marriott would advise you to ask questions to overcome objections which I assume is where this question is coming from.

But the reality is that, in sales, you should never allow the opportunity to paint yourself into a corner. The same advice applies if you are an actual floor painter.

(Full disclosure: It actually does snow here.)