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High Tech Marketing

22 Jul

I’m currently reading Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore.  It’s a great book that’s stood the test of time.  Definitely a must read for anybody interested in the fields of technology and marketing.  I found this awesome little nugget in the Foreword:

This is what we mean when we talk about “owning a market.”  Customer do not like to be “owned,” if that implies lack of choice or freedom.  The open systems movement in high tech is a clear example of that.  But they do like to be “owned” if what that means is a vendor taking ongoing responsibility for the success of their joint ventures.  Ownership in this sense means abiding commitment and a strong sense of mutuality in the development of the marketplace.  When customers encounter this kind of ownership, they tend to become fanatically loyal to their supplier, which in turn builds a stable economic base for profitability and growth.

Can anyone say Apple?  Fantastic read so far.  I’m less than fifty pages in and have already stumbled upon more than my share of nuggets like this one.

Wisdom-packed books like this one seriously rock.  Post the ones you’ve found in the comments.

There’s an app for that…

15 Jul

This is something that popped into my mind yesterday while driving around Calgary.

Tell me, how many times you’ve been in this situation, say on a road trip or even in your own city, where you just want to know where the nearest Tim Horton’s is (replace with Starbucks if you prefer specialty coffee or don’t live in Canada) so you can get your caffeine fix and continue on your way.  I would venture to say that we’ve all been there at least once.  It can be a frustrating ordeal when we have to leave our normal environment.

An iPhone app from Tim Horton’s could solve this problem.  Instead of spelunking around in Google Maps, all you have to is tap the Tim Horton’s icon.  Directions will appear on screen to guide you from your current location to the restaurant.

Now that solves our problem but, it’s kind of simplistic.  Not really worth the hassle if you’ve already got Google maps.

So let’s crank things up a notch: what if you could order your Extra-Frappo-Mocha-no-fat-a-chino w/ Hazelnut from your handheld.  When you arrive at the store it would be ready and waiting.  Also, if you’re ordering from your iPhone, you don’t have to fumble around for change because the app could be tied to your account or credit card.  All you have to do is show the cashier your iPhone.  It’s that easy.  You’ll be back on the road in no time.

Edit:  Erm, apparently Tim Horton’s is one step ahead of me.  There’s a reason they’re one of the top brands in Canada!  Check out TimmyMe for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.  Now we just need the mobile-enabled ordering to make this app truly extraordinary.  An Extra Large Double Double and a Toasted Blueberry Bagel (plain cream cheese) to go please!

Starbucks has a similar app and one that lets you use your phone to pay in select locations.  Now they need to roll it out across the continent and put the two apps together and they could put a dent in those morning line-ups.

Old Spice Changes the Game

14 Jul

By now you’ve probably seen the @OldSpice campaign that has taken the Internet by storm and put advertisers on notice.  From Yahoo! Answers to Reddit to Facebook, Old Spice is reaching their target group by engaging in a new way.  This is potentially game-changing for many reasons, let’s look at a few below:

1.  Videos are shot in one or two takes and released the same day because you have to keep up with a real-time stream. Old Spice released one or two clips every hour – pretty impressive when you consider the production values.  If you’re organized to do it, you can react quickly to take advantage of changes in the external environment.  Can you imagine if Axe had been able to mobilize a response, in real-time, to the Old Spice man?

2.  Clients will have to give up some control.  Putting something online requires a willingness to let it evolve and change.  You simply don’t have time to go through the bureaucratic chain to approve every little detail.  Agencies and their clients need to put their brand in capable hands and trust them to do amazing things.

3.  Targeting influentials, as a stand-alone strategy, isn’t enough.  Influentials can get you started but the real gems of the Old Spice campaign came from the contributions of regular people.  Did you know that one couple is now engaged as a result of Old Spice?  Respond to your customers.  Give them a memorable experience that can be shared for years to come.

Imagine an introspective Don Draper, reminiscing about his childhood in a smoke filled room while sipping a bourbon.  Or the Geico lizard fielding questions about (insert bizarre topic from left field).  What if the characters of Toy Story had appeared on a Youtube talkshow prior to the movie’s release?  The Woot monkey running tech support for a day?  That annoying Fountain Tire guy on a cross-country roadtrip, talking to real customers.  It doesn’t even require a full-day assault.  A seemingly out-of-the-blue video response to a well thought out forum post from the GM of the Calgary Flames would certainly get people talking.  Campaigns that surprise and delight customers are a surefire way to build brand equity.

Other creatives are going to respond to OldSpice.  Their clients will demand it.  In the next few months I expect we’ll see a few copycats but also marketers that took the idea and made it their own –  in a way that fits their strategy.  I eagerly await the latter.

An Idea for Blizzard (Starcraft 2)

8 Jul

Hey all!  As promised, I will be focusing more on extraordinary marketing ideas for the next little while and we’ll see how that works out.  If people continue to enjoy it (traffic the last couple days of days has blown me away) then I’ll keep the idea mill churning away.  Make sure to take a second and leave a comment if this is the kind of thing you want to see more of.

Today’s marketing idea is simple.  It’s a nice change from the more complicated Molson campaign I recommended the other day.  The reason why it’s so simple is because it uses digital tools to reach a large audience.  Technology continues to connect people in new and surprising ways.

It’s also personally relevant.  I’ve enjoyed the games Blizzard produces and their uncompromising attention to detail for many years.  Real Time Strategy has such  elaborate, intricate gameplay and I feel that it often gets overlooked in this age of First Person Shooters and twitch gaming.  Starcraft 2 has the potential to reverse this trend.

If I were in the shoes of a top dog at Activision Blizzard…with an awesome product about to be released, legions of loyal fans who also happen to be extremely tech savvy and a blockbuster franchise…well, I would be looking into purchasing one of Twitter’s new Promoted Trends for the launch of Starcraft 2 (set for July 27).

I’ve blogged previously concerning the incredible opportunity Promoted Trends provide for marketers and advertisers.  The value of this new medium is twofold:

1.  It encourages users to chime in and join the conversation.  Anyone who’s been to an awkward dinner party can relate, sometimes just getting a conversation started is a chore.  Once started, however, conversation tends to be self-fueling.  Promoted Trends on Twitter incorporate a promoted tweet that starts the party.  Like the first brave soul on the dance floor, they set the tone.  Next comes a waterfall of thoughts, opinions and shared experiences where everybody gets a turn in the spotlight.

2.  Promoted Trends encourage authentic communication.  When somebody tweets their undying love for Starcraft 2, you know that there is actually a person out there who loves Starcraft 2 and wanted to share that with the world.  This sounds obvious but it isn’t always true.  So it stands out amongst the advertising hubris.  For example, television commercials are notorious for rousing suspicion with too-good-to-be-true claims.  Corporate websites that highlight customer feedback face a similar problem – what’s to stop them from picking only the best comments?  Worse still, they could edit the results to make themselves look better or falsify the information entirely.  Twitter, on the other hand, shows everything.  Good or bad, it all gets lumped into the same conversation.  This way you know that guy who loves Starcraft 2 is genuine.

Hopefully we see Starcraft 2 promoted as a trend on release day if not shortly after.  It would be an extraordinary way to spread word to the masses.  Sure, it might trend either way but Blizzard would be better off being proactive as trending topics can be wildly unpredictable.

You have a passionate fanbase Blizzard; give them a forum in which they can share their passion and they will gladly go to work for you.  Others will see these actions and will want to be part of it as well.

Brave New World

4 Jul

You would have to be blind to miss it but marketing is in the midst of a revolution.  Social media and technology are disrupting all the old norms.  The times they are (oh so rapidly) changing.

Even so, it seems that some marketers are stuck holding on to the past, afraid to let go of the safety rail.  Maybe a few are riding it out before they cash in their chips because the notion of having to relearn everything is scary but what about those of us who are left?  If everybody is online and is able to find what they need, do we even need marketers anymore?  This is the type of question we absolutely have to be asking.

Still others are so impatient to usher in a new era that they don’t see the cliff on the horizon, working diligently to push things forward – up and onwards, always grow.  Bubbles?  They’ll never hurt us!  But really, how does your Facebook page increase sales?

New mediums to reach the customer are exciting and have profound implications for the relationships we have with brands but that’s no reason to lose your head.  Think about what you want to accomplish first.  Like anything else, social media is a tool – formidable when used properly, harmful if not.

And yes – we still need marketers.  In fact we need true marketers more than ever.  As an industry, we now have a remarkable capability to form meaningful relationships with our customers.  Two-way dialogue is finally possible.  We have the ability to foster and lead communities of incredible devotees; our customers can express their individuality and entrepreneurs can succeed despite geographic boundaries.

So here’s some advice from a plugged-in (traditionally hard to reach) Generation Y individual to future-proof your marketing:

  • Solve your customer’s problems.  Surprise them with how far you will go to serve their needs.  Be unabashedly steadfast in this regard.  Get out of the ‘quarterly reporting’ mindset and step away from your own challenges and problems for a minute to think about helping other people – or even better, the world.
    Make people’s lives easier – not more complicated.  Do it because you can.  Do it because it’s fun.  Do it because it’s the right thing.  Do it because you’ll be rewarded by fanatically loyal followers.
  • Treat your customers as though they were valued partners.
    Newsflash: They are.  This reaches even further than simply treating your current customers right – you need to regard everybody you deal with as deserving dignity and respect.  Approaching people like humans will go a long ways towards building brand equity and establishing trust.
    And if you don’t believe it, remember that your non-customers have a voice online too.
  • Remember the golden rule.  Put yourself in the shoes of your customer; how would you react to obnoxious advertising?  Always add value.  Always.
  • Value privacy, especially as it becomes more accepted not to.  In the long run, your customers will thank you and you will stand out for it.
  • Remember the front page of the Wall Street Journal test from your school days.  Perhaps a new name would be appropriate for our modern age: The “plastered on every billboard, tweeted around the world and shouted from the mountain tops” test.  If you are considering doing anyhing that you don’t want the world to know about, don’t.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things but know why you’re doing it (learning can be a good reason).  Novelty for its own sake is not a sustainable long term strategy.
  • Find a niche.  Social media is like your brand growing up and going to college.  It’s a brand (no pun intended) new experience for everybody involved.  Find that safe haven where you can be comfortable among peers.  One example on my mind as of late is pro-gaming (you might laugh, but this is a real phenomenon and is rapidly growing in North America).  The popular Real Time Strategy game Starcraft 2 is not even released yet and commentators like HDStarcraft, Day9 and Husky are building a community with hundreds of thousands of followers.  This is for a game that is still in beta.
    Imagine what they will do when this game is released.  Now imagine what they could do with the support of the right organization and what their followers could do for you.
  • Think BIG.  Why limit yourself with opportunities everywhere?
  • Always do your best to connect and inspire people.  Be a good leader for your community and strengthen it by building bonds that last.  Don’t sell out for a short term gain because trust lost is near-impossible to gain back.

Keynote vs Powerpoint

26 Jun

Keynote vs PPT
Presentation applications are the most important item in your productivity suite. After all, this is what you will use to showcase yourself, your company and your brand to potential clients, investors, etc. The choices made for internal use can have an impact on company culture as well. Despite the importance of this decision, many jump straight to Powerpoint, without properly considering their options.

Stand Out

Making a presentation with Keynote makes you stand out. It shows you went the extra mile instead of reaching for the easiest solution. Do you really want to blend in with the crowd? Or would you prefer your boss, co-workers and clients recognize you for being unafraid to take risks, a true individual.

Use Video

Remember when the only option for capturing quality video was to have an expensive, dedicated device the size of Russia? It was either that or the crappy 30 second captures made with your digital camera.

Video has come a long way; nowadays you can record beautiful HD video with compact, inexpensive devices such as the Flip, or even with your iPhone! With a plethora of capture devices, there should be no excuse not to use video whenever you get a chance.

Keynote plays nice with your video files. A really great way to add some polish to a presentation is to use video in the background. Fade out the opacity and place your text or images on top. Go for a minimalist look. The examples below can get you started but use your own creativity as well.


A lot of people avoid animation altogether; why not just chop off a finger? Unfortunately animating slide transitions in Powerpoint is like pulling your hair out – one piece at a time. It’s a real pain. Doing anything or special just isn’t worth the time. In Keynote, it couldn’t be easier! Let’s look at the options:

First of all, you’ve got slide transitions. These include the 3d animations that we all recognize instantly as the hallmark of a Steve Jobs presentation. Think doorway, page flip and cube. A word of caution, however – use these sparingly. Nothing screams amateur like a presentation where every slide uses 3d animation. Use them for effect only when appropriate.

Next, we have build in/outs. Here you’ll find the standard fade, swipe, typewriter, etc. You’ll find these easier to work with in Keynote than in Powerpoint. Open the inspector, select the appropriate tab and you’re off to the races. Click more options if you want to control the timing or order of events.

Finally, magic move. This is a killer feature for Keynote. Put a bunch of objects on a slide; then put the same objects on your next slide. For a transition, select “magic move”. The items will automatically animate to their new position. You can do a lot of slick things with this. Here is the Apple training video, make sure to watch to the very end for some very cool (but professional) effects.

Sure it might be a little extra work, especially the first time, but you’ll get better as you go and it will only make you a more versatile person – more likely to get the client, job, promotion, etc. So go the extra mile and add some WOW to your next presentation.

Standing out? WOWing the client? Now that’s Extraordinary Marketing! Let me know how it goes in the comments.

An update concerning accessibility.  If you’re worried about displaying your Keynote presentation on a PC, export it as a Quicktime movie.  You can click through it like a regular presentation, view it full screen, and run it on any computer whether they have presentation software or not!


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