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Dragon Is In Orbit

Dragon Is In Orbit

SPACEX Dragon in orbit with solar arrays displayed.

iOS App Development Falls As Android Explodes. Even Windows Phone 7 Will Get More.

The shift in priority by app developers from iOS to Android is accelerating. There’s even a surge toward developing for Windows Phone 7.

That’s great news for Android phone buyers and for the MicroNok alliance.

The drop in ratio of iOS app development from 30% to only 8%, even if relative to a surge in overall app developer numbers, is dramatic.

The State Of The Apps Industry study lead by Millennial Media with Stifel Nicolaus and DIGIDAY was released in the last quarter of 2010 before the MicroNok alliance was announced and before the Android dominated Mobile World Congress in early February.

As a harbinger of the seismic shifts taking place in the mobile apps industry, the SOTI report can only be understating the points we have headlined.

How You Handle Social Media With Your Staff Will Become Key To Success With Your Customers

Marketing 101.

Please bear with me. I need to remind you of some of the accepted basics before I try to make my point.

In Marketing 101 we learn that the key to successful marketing is for a Brand to have a clear, quite distinct Positioning which expresses its Benefit, along with a unique Identity which distinguishes it from its competitors.

The Positioning must be relevant to how targets view  the category. The Benefit must be based on insights into what the targets need or want. The Identity and how it, the Benefit and the Positioning are expressed in Marketing Communications all need to work in harmony, informed by insights into how the targets consume Media.

The result is that targets should recognize how our Brand is different from competitors in our category, will see clearly how using our Brand will Benefit them and that they will remember what our Brand looks like and stands for when next they are in the market for the good or service we sell. All this is revealed to them through wisely crafted Marketing Communications efficiently transmitted to them through a cost efficient selection of Media.

Wake Up!

Some time in the near future this is going to sound delightfully quaint when a museum docent is lecturing on marketing history. Why?

We’ve Started Finding & Switching Brands Through Our Social Graph.

The most powerful marketing medium has always been Word Of Mouth (WOM). We generally distrust commissioned salesmen, in person or in the media, but we trust our friends with whom we share a vested interest in mutual safety and happiness.

Nielsen Company April 2009

(Apologies. This is blurry on the WordPress page. Click the image for a crisp view in your browser.)

Now with the social media at our disposal we can very quickly tell our friends, who tell their other friends while people we don’t know at all find our comments through a hashtag and so on and so on… Good news, or bad, it gets out there quickly and with no brakes, parachutes or warnings.

Your Customers As First Line Brand Advocates.

Your brands have always been represented by the very people you are marketing to, whether they speak well, or ill, of your brands. The difference is that now they can tell the world in 5 minutes with a couple of clicks. iWOM.

What they say gets reposted or re-tweeted and soon you have more reach and frequency than you ever imagined. All un-paid for. Earned media. You have no control over the content of those messages once they are out there, but you can build a good foundation to limit the amount of problems you could end up with.

Your Staff, Colleagues & The ‘Net Promoter Score’.

How you recruit and treat your staff and how you engage them with your brands through Internal Marketing needs to become a key part of your earned media marketing strategy. So is loosening up your company’s rules about using social media at work.

Several companies including very large and famous ones have started to use the Net Promoter Score as a measure of how the company is doing. It works like this.

A survey is done throughout the company, anonymously, and it asks only one simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” The answer is a rating on a scale from 0 to 10. There is a strong positive correlation between high NPS scores and strong company financial performance.

Giving Everyone The Means To Market Your Brands

Your own staff and colleagues can be upgraded from responding to an internal NPS questionnaire to being part of your sales and marketing team because they are people first, before they are employees and they increasingly socialise and comment online.

Treat them well, educate them honestly and transparently about your brands, give them guidance on the verbal branding  – the way your Brand speaks – and they will be able to contribute to, engage with and when necessary rebut anything they find online about your Brand. You won’t have to hire a “social media manager”, dump it on the intern or beg the CEO’s executive assistant.

The reality is, your staff and colleagues are going to do some of this anyway. Wouldn’t you be wiser to equip them properly?

There is one fundamental to all this and it comes down to your organization’s leadership and culture. Hire good people, treat them well, empower them to be Brand Advocates no matter what their job in the company, and you are off to a great start.

Treat them badly, lie to them about your brand, ignore the opportunity to make them online advocates and you deserve to suffer the consequences.

Remember, 5 minutes and couple of clicks is all it takes.

How Service Quality Can Make Or Break Your Brand With A Little Help From Social Media.

One of the last remaining weapons a brand has left to fight competitors with, is service. When there’s no real difference but the logo and the company behind it, it all comes down to how you reward or punish people for choosing you. See, I said people. Not customers, or consumers, or users, or clients. People.

People are real. They have feelings. They work hard for their money and they decide carefully how to spend it on most things. When something goes wrong with the service they paid for or the product they bought, they need help. You owe it to them.

Help does not mean waiting for half an hour in an automated call queue listening to canned muzak and being told every 30 seconds that the next available person will attend to one. Help does not mean getting through to someone in Bangalore reading from a script with no experience of the product or service and no way to solve one’s problem beyond grinding through a script. That is not Help. That is not service. That is torture.

Help is someone coming to one’s assistance who knows what one needs and can deliver on it immediately, or pretty soon thereafter. And get this, Help is part of your Brand.

If you choose the alternate path,  Torture becomes part of your brand.

The reality of managing a brand in the Social Media era is that your efforts to Help or Torture will not go unremarked upon and it is becoming easier to spread those remarks all the time.

They will appear across the Twitterverse, on YouTube, in Facebook, as Foursquare comments and in blogs and forums available everywhere. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.

So be nice. Or Fail.

If you don’t believe me, watch this:

And in case WordPress didn’t serve that to you well, search United Breaks Guitars on YouTube and follow the series.

3 iMedia keynote predictions we’ve already scored on.

In my previous post and elsewhere I credit the brilliant people I’m lucky to know and work with for my successes. That includes my recent iMedia Brand Summit  keynote which went down well with our brand marketing compatriots.

The bench-strength of the people in our social graph has been proved three times in the 2 weeks since that keynote presentation. Here they are.

Ricocheting around the web this morning (OK, evening for our friends in the Americas) is confirmation that Google, with Verizon, will launch a tablet computer to rival the iPad. Mashable covers it here http://bit.ly/aN8aeS

Two other predictions I presented at the iMedia Brand Summit have already become confirmed reality.

Second hit was the announcement that Facebook was going “loca” and that the first marketer to use their location-based promotional capabilities will be McDonalds. Mashable again: http://bit.ly/d6ORmg

My first prediction to land was when Foursquare and Jimmy Choo kicked off this announcement heralding the arrival of location-based retail promotions among the big names. Once again, read more in Mashable. http://bit.ly/cJz2uI

iMedia Brand Summit 2010 Closing Keynote Talk.

The brand marketers who attended iMedia  2010 were kind enough to vote this the best presentation of the summit. Where I ran videos in the actual presentation you will find pages with the links to the relevant videos on YouTube and, if Steve J hasn’t changed his mind and taken down the iPhone OS 4 / iAd streaming presentation, at Apple.

My thanks once again to:

Ken Mandel of Yahoo and Agatha Yap of McDonalds who recommended me to Ad Tech / iMedia ; Joe at ComScore who provided data; Tom and Jerry (seriously)of MobileNow, the iPhone, iPad & Android app developers in Shanghai for data, insights and magic; Benjamin and Christoph of Wildfire Asia WOM in Singapore and Shanghai for insights, POV and reference leads; Eddie Chau of Brandtology for the topical case study, other great charts and your vision; Josh Sklar of Heresy in Austin, Texas for your insights, the reference links and 15 years of partnership in digital.

It’s all about the Social Graph in action and you guys helped prove it through your excellent input. Again, Thank you all.

There’s a lot happening out there!

View more presentations from Innovize.

Why Marketing & Procurement Are On A Collision Course In The Web 2.0 Universe, And Beyond.

The environment for most brands is changing fast. A stream of new opportunities keeps flowing – social media, word-of-mouth & location – based mobile marketing right now – and the means to take advantage of them comes increasingly from start-ups. In this universe being entrepreneurial is key to Marketing success and a well-intentioned but misguided Procurement department can be as great a threat to brands as the competition.

Differentiation is Both Quantitative and Qualitative.

Companies have to differentiate what they produce in a relevant way. That makes them stand out against competitors and makes their brands valuable. Ad agencies often do this through distinctive creative output. When they resort to scam ads it suggests they haven’t grasped the ‘relevance’ issue. What marketing service providers must do is to price the value they add, or the savings they generate, for clients. If they don’t their service may seem generic, inviting client Procurement departments to squeeze them on price.

Most procurement methods originated to reduce production costs by managing how standardized commodities and homogeneous goods and services are bought. They are fundamentally quantitative, which leaves qualitative, ideas-based or creative services particularly vulnerable to being under-priced. Recent trends toward quantitative RFPs submitted online with no Marketing department participation and no qualitative performance measures, are clearly misguided and a cause for grave concern.

Don’t get me wrong,  Procurement management is critical for all forms of production. However, marketing services contain creative problem-solving elements – not just ad ideas – which are not homogeneous, and which even their producers struggle to value accurately. I went into this earlier in the post on Creative Services and the Vicious Cycle of Procurement.

Wisely applied, Procurement is Good.

The thing is, successful supply chain cost management is vital to business success. If a company can produce consistent, sustainable, marketable quality at a lower price than its competitors it will tend to gain market share and benefit from economies of scale, all increasing ROI. Marketing services companies need to become just as savvy about Procurement as their clients and must apply it in their own businesses too. That TBWA recently appointed a global head of Procurement makes an interesting statement. That their competitors responded with a deafening silence does too.

Where problems arise is with the “consistent” and “sustainable” aspects in that previous paragraph, especially producing the specialty services provided in marketing communications. For example, media agencies slicing income to win business volume for larger buying discounts, a process rampant for a decade, is an unsustainable “Race To The Bottom”. I wrote on this in ’03 working at Carat (Media, 23 March).

What happens is this: after winning a new piece of business with a low bid, a media agency can only afford to staff it with cheap, lower quality staff, overseen by an overstretched senior if they’re lucky. Procurement is happy but Marketing soon complain of weak advice, errors and unresponsiveness. When it comes to a head they put the media account up for pitch again. Procurement lends a hand and the account goes to the lowest bidder. Work into a lather. Rinse. Repeat. Soon nobody in Marketing has much hair left and all the media agencies are producing poor service and making no money.

What Happens When It’s A Race To The Top?

Procurement departments not used to valuing and buying marketing services often have unrealistic expectations. Network media and ad agencies with big holding company parents have helped those develop. As a result many believe that if you lean on a marketing services supplier they’ll find a way to drop their price and keep providing the service. The near sweat-shop conditions in some major agencies probably prove their point.

However, real trouble strikes when Procurement meets Entrepreneurs. The company best positioned to offer cutting edge social media and other innovative services needed for a brand, is increasingly a relatively new start-up. These new firms are staffed with very focused people with little knowledge of procurement methods, nor time to learn them while pulling 18 hour days. Critically, they have limited funds.  To survive and prosper they must build their business up to long term health as fast as possible. In pioneering fields, for start-up founders, and their angel investors, it’s really a Race To The Top.

Start-ups need business, but not on destructive terms. They realise that quickly, or die. However, as any entrepreneurial 21st Century marketer knows, you need these specialists and their new services to differentiate, defend and build your brands in these exciting but complex new arenas. Currently it’s social media, search, and location-based mobile marketing. There’ll be something more within a year.

The Procurement Curse/Benefit Analysis For Marketers.

Whether it all ends in success or tears for any given marketer depends on three main drivers:

1. the marketing company’s culture – exploratory & innovative Vs scared & defensive;

2. that company’s senior leadership & vision  – supportive Vs punitive and;

3. how well their  Procurement department is trained and for what purpose – pure cost saving Vs helping brands be as competitive as possible.

In the bigger picture this applies to dealing with long established ad and media agencies just as much as to social media engagement experts and branded app developers.

If Marketing gets only what Procurement lets them pay for, the question facing marketers has to be: “Does our Procurement department have the skills to help us buy these services successfully?”

If they do not, they will compel you to use and become, second best.