Earn the right – the success formula for brands

Lately there has been a lot of conversation around the term Free and how this can be a beneficial model for success. I have been following some discussion in this from Seth Godin, Chris Anderson and Kevin Kelly among others. Definitely worth reading about and baking into the equation. Now reading the latest on this I found the following statement –

“the most powerful brands are the ones that earn the right to a transaction” (full article here)

If there ever was truth, this is it. I am working on a piece on the subject so will come back to this. Wanted to share this brilliant phrase. Thanks to the gurus for their genius.

Tv and the Web. Correction – Web and the TV.

So how do your spend your time after work/kids/etc? Watch TV? or surf? or multitask? At our home there is always an laptop present in our coach. Now there are some interesting stat out there on this –

More than three-quarters of the US adult Internet users surveyed by Harris Interactive in February 2008 went online while watching TV. More than one-third of the respondents to the survey, which was sponsored by blinkx, said they did so “always” or “often.”

internet usage while tv watching

Some consumers are not multitasking. They are just watching less TV. More than one-third of respondents to a July 2007 TNSAOLGoogle survey said that increased Internet use was a reason why they watched less TV. However, only 9% said they watched more TV shows or other video content online.

reasons why people watch less tv

Note that this is US stat only but I am sure it is similar on this site of the water. Read the full article here.

Excellent opportunity for some smart multichannel marketing, right. Yes one would think so, but it seem that many are missing the boat here.

Just take a look at this years Super Bowl as an example. Lots of spending, some good stuff produced for TV, and almost no integration? Not true for all, of course (the beaver thing as example), but most did not have an message to continue online, not even an clear url (interesting article here). Now, due to the surfing behavior many got some good stat anyway. And of course YouTube helped. But the transparency and the opportunity to build more was lost. Why is this? It is beyond me… Spend a large amount on some good exposure and do not use it to its full extent.

There are may more exemples here but still… why? We have stats, we have success cases, we have ROI…

May reasons – I think the now old thinking of “online as an afterthought” is very prevalent and still the major reason, especially for the bigger corps. Even is transparency and multichannel was in the mix I do think that they are still missing the boat. So what to do?

A few humble suggestions – start with integration of campaign, all channels, define purpose and goals for each and cross link. What is the goal, what should the outcome be, relevance, niche, time? Most likely forget the campaign site, think one experience for the user. Use current stat and behaviors of your target – social?. With a clear picture make the most of each channel while still thinking seamless integration. Making the consumer a part of the experience should be high prio. Don’t forget the long tail, how long will this live and how can that be used most effectively. Have a complete road map and time line. Measure everything with relation to goals. Follow up on all and analyze based on set criteria. Success!

In short – provide a seamless experience that offers relevance to your consumer.

A Valuable Blog

 Wal-Mart Check Out Blog

Coming back to the subject of companies need to be both smart and humble to open up to their customers. Dare to have an open discussion and let them have a chance to feedback. Now a big brand has joined the race – the ever so closed Wal-Mart. This is big for a such a giant company, 5,000 stores, 1.2 million workers and annual sales of nearly $400 billion. Ok, so the corporate blog are not new as we know, but this is somewhat different – Check Out (checkoutblog.com) as it is called, is not relying on the traditional “management” level for the stories, it is written by a small staff (experts at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club) of bloggers which is then commented by the consumer – here is the cool part – (largely) unedited. Now this is both gutsy and brilliant. The largest tailer/e-tailer has understood the opportunity.

“Wal-Mart says the Web site helps buyers solicit quick feedback from consumers on the merchandise”

“We are real people, and that gets lost in the to and fro of business”,
“It puts real personality out there in a real conversation.” – Nick Agarwal, a Wal-Mart communications official.

A few quotes form an article from a newtimes.com on the subject (above) and also a outcast from the About section (below)

This is a blog, simply, about a team of experts at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club who have really cool jobs working with gadgets, games, sustainability and more. Even better, these jobs are centered around helping people save money and live better.

Finally, in terms of blogging, we like the advice Robert Scoble gave back in 2003 when he wrote his version of a “Corporate Weblog Manifesto.”

Strongly believe that is will be more and more common as we catch up to full web 2.0 transparency. Now this will open doors and is defiantly a case to run with when convincing… Will benefit both sides as well – Wal-Mart get good feedback on their stock of product and the consumer get valuable reviews/comments while shopping and get the chance to comment. Once this take off this need to be managed in a smart way, lets hope they stay on track with the potential of the information. Now while on that subject, another good example of using customer feedback to you advantage is Circuit City which has a very good integration of review content.

Will now enjoy following this as we go along.

What listening can(should) do…

Admiration to companies that listen to their customers/users and make the experience (web site, service, product) better based on this. It takes a smart and humble company… but all should. It is only logical, right? This is what the evolution of the web is… communication both ways. And then reaction to make the experience/service/product better.

Found two cases – two completely different markets and purposes and methods – on the use of such tactics – form Get Elastic and Creuna (sorry this one is only in Swedish for now).

Get Elastic Outtake:

Customer Feedback Inspires Eddie Bauer Redesignby Linda Bustos
Eddie Bauer recently revamped its online store design using customer feedback. At first glance, it’s hard to see much difference other than the doesn’t look like much has really changed. But when you look under the hood, you find Eddie Bauer’s packed its new site with plenty of Web 2.0 to improve usability and customer satisfaction.

Before

Old Eddie Bauer Design

After

New Eddie Bauer Design

And the product presentation – brilliant in name and function…

Eddie Bauer calls this “virtually picking up” an item, and “putting it down” to continue browsing that category.

After

 

Virtual Pick Up

Before

Old Product Page Layout

The favorite – a consumer friendly shopping bag with great options and cross-selling.

Eddie Bauer’s “Add to Shopping Bag” confirmation gives full details of which item, size and color was added, the price, availability (in stock), cross-sells and links to check out, “>continue shopping or add a gift box. Trust me, I’ve looked at hundreds of “add to cart” confirmation methods, and I really dig this one.

Add to Shopping Bag

The revamped cart page has larger product thumbnails, tax and shipping calculations and holds items in your cart for weeks, so if you abandon your cart, you don’t have to start over (a.k.a. “persistent shopping cart”.)

Shopping Bag Layout

Must say, one of the best e-shop i have use… Feels like they have thought of everything… forgot, their customers did 😉

Check out the site here – www.eddiebauer.com

Creuna Outtake:

Stockholm stad remake

Offentligt i världsklass

Creuna och Stockholms stad har ett strategiskt partnerskap kring Stockholm Webb, som innefattar den stadsgemensamma intranätslösningen och www.stockholm.se. Creuna har arbetat med Stockholms stad sedan 2005 med koncept och interaktionsdesign för båda webbplatserna, användarstudier, fokusgrupper, webbutveckling, integration, redaktörsutbildningar, funktionell och teknisk förvaltning samt tekniska förstudier inför satsningen på e-tjänster för medborgarna.
Stockholm.se
Beta-version av nya stockholm.se växer fram successivt under våren. Under tiden den nya sajten tar sin fulla skepnad finns gamla stockholm.se kvar. Med den öppna utvecklingsprocessen ges chansen att involvera stockholmarna i slutresultatet.

Creuna har arbetat fram koncept, interaktionsdesign och form och gör även utvecklingen. För att skapa förutsättningar för kommande e-tjänster till medborgarna används den senaste tekniken och funktionaliteten inom området. Nya stockholm.se följer WAI och Vervas riktlinjer för tillgänglighet.

Utvecklingen av nya stockholm.se sker med starkt fokus på medborgarna. Fokusgrupper har genomförts på ett tidigt stadium för att utforma interaktionsdesign och struktur.

Webbplatsen utvecklas i en öppen utvecklingsmiljö med en beta-version där medborgarna ges möjlighet att spela en viktig roll i utformningen. Kommunikationen sker via utvecklingsbloggen för Stockholm.se.

Here we have a very interesting way of developing a new site with the help of the users/citizence. For a public service site such for Stockholm city this is defiantly the way to go – get the users/citiceze involved in the process and make them feel as a contributing part of the project. Benificial for both parties and seriously good for the bottom line. If managed right you will end up with a great site.

Stockholm stad entery page

While the new site is under construction the old one lives but with clear CTA to take part int the development of the new.

Stockholm stad dev main page

The main page of the developing site. Here you get info on what this all is about with some nice animation. Your are encouraged to click around (the site in development) and enticed to take part in the development thought the blog. It also shows in percentage how far the project is as well which is a nice feature.

Stockholm stad dev blog

And the blog page or conversation page as they call this. Here one can follow the story, get more info, vote and take part. The posts generally asks the user to comment and give feedback.

This is a great example on how to make a new site with user input through the whole process. Again the way to do it… Great show Creuna. If you live in Stockholm and know Swedish check this out and take part…

As you see some great effects of customer/user feedback. Now let us all be wise and adapt…

Marketing in a recession?

Ok, we might be heading for a slow down of the economy… maybe even a recession… not so severe I would say but anyway… this is good! If you keep your head cold and push online. “As the old saying goes, with each challenge comes opportunity”. First to get cut, as we all know, the marketing budget. Not so smart, it is now time to shout louder (of course with budget in mind). Found this article on the subject – worth while reading.

Your reputation on the line – AdSocialization

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook and its struggle to make money. This new ad model they are working on is interesting to say the least – endorsing something you have an interest in (based on a profile) without your opt in and sold to your friends/connections to benefit a brand for free – can anyone see a problem(s) with this? We know that Facebook owns anything that is on its network and eventually will use it to make some money… one can argue if that is OK or not, but agreed when signing on… is this way of using your relationships and reputation right? Not so much according to me… See it like this – we now see how powerful consumer recommendations and reviews are online (take a look at Amazon or any smart business selling something) – essentially eWOM – it is growing rapidly and the validity of the information is weighting in heavily on both consumers and business. As it should and has for century’s before the web. Potential gold mine here for a business, if daring enough (give away some control)… You know, when researching something, and you are making that decision on going with brand/product x or y, those reviews get really important. Not so surprising that Facebook jumped on this, since they have quite a bit of interesting info on there users… I see the selling/usage of user stats and slightly agree. The application think is great and powerful. But what is not cool is the model which makes you the sponsor/promoter of a brand/product to friends without having a say. This is misuse of personal info. And will be negative for both all… read this article and make up you own mind – Is Your Reputation Worth $15 Billion?

At the end of the the day – what is the purpose of the social network? Connect with friends, make new friends, share common interest, having some fun right? Believe that most of the info/interests/behavior you share on these networks are mostly personal and for fun (not so much anchored in reality all the time. Many are also made up). And intended to be…
So here lies the dilemma to make some profits form advertising – user are not interested/open to brands and much of the user behavior/stats are most likely misleading. Of course there are quite a bit one can do to go around this and make it work. Just need to think what can I add to the experience… How will this benefit and be worthwhile for the user…

Conclusion – let the user use the mediums as intended and just add to the experience.

Placeboing a.k.a marketing

Something interesting form marketing guru Godin

The placebo effect is not just for sick people anymore.

Why do some ideas have more currency than others? Because we believe they should. When Chris Anderson or Malcolm Gladwell writes about something, it’s a better idea because they wrote about it.

Even as your culture of ideas and marketing enters its longtail, open-source, low-barrier, everyone-has-a-blog era of mass publication, we still need filters. Would your iPod sound as sweet if everyone else had a Rio? Would your Manolo Blahniks be as cool if everyone else were wearing Keds?

Arthur Anderson audited thousands of companies, and those audits gave us confidence in those companies, made them appear more solid, which, not surprisingly, made them more solid. Then, post Enron, the placebo effect disappeared. Same companies, same auditors, but suddenly those companies appeared LESS solid, which made them less solid.

The magic of the placebo effect lies in the fact that you can’t do it to yourself. You need an accomplice. Someone in authority who will voluntarily tell you a story.

That’s what marketers do. We have the  “placebo affect.” (* The knack for creating placebos.) Of course, we need to persuade ourselves that it’s morally and ethically and financially okay to participate in something as unmeasurable as the placebo effect. The effect is controversial and it goes largely unspoken. Very rarely do we come to meetings and say, “well, here’s our cool new PBX for Fortune 1000 companies. It’s exactly the same as the last model, except the phones are designed by frog design so they’re cooler and more approachable and people are more likely to invest a few minutes in learning how to use them, so customer satisfaction will go up and we’ll sell more, even though it’s precisely the same technology we were selling yesterday.”

Very rarely do vodka marketers tell the truth and say, “here’s our new vodka, which we buy in bulk from the same distillery that produces vodka for $8 a bottle. Ours is going to cost $35 a bottle and come in a really, really nice bottle and our ads will persuade laddies that this will help them in the dating department… nudge, nudge, know what I mean, nudge, nudge…”

It would be surprising to meet a monk or a talmudic scholar or a minister who would say, “yes, we burn the incense or turn down the lights or ring these bells or light these candles as a way of creating a room where people are more likely to believe in their prayers,” but of course that’s exactly what they’re doing. (and you know what? there’s nothing wrong with that.)

It’s easier to get people to come to a meeting about clock speed and warranty failure analysis than it is to have a session about storytelling.

We don’t like to admit that we tell stories, that we’re in the placebo business. Instead, we tell ourselves about features and benefits as a way to rationalize our desire to to help our customers by allowing them to lie to themselves.

The design of your blog or your package or your outfit is nothing but an affect designed to create the placebo effect. The sound Dasani water makes when you open the bottle is more of the same. It’s all storytelling. It’s all lies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In fact, your marketplace insists on it.