Thursday, May 31, 2007

10 Reasons PR Relationships Don't Work

Guy Kawasaki has a great post on his blog called The Top Ten Reasons Why PR Doesn't Work. Here are the top ten, but read the post to really understand them...

  1. The client doesn’t understand the publicity process.

  2. The scope of work is not detailed and agreed upon by both parties.

  3. The client has not been properly trained on how to communicate with the media.

  4. The client and the PR person or firm are not a good match.

  5. The client has not gotten results quickly enough and ends the relationship too soon.

  6. PR people don’t explain the kind of publicity placements a client will most likely receive.

  7. Clients don’t realize that what happens after you get the publicity coverage is sometimes more important than the actual placement.

  8. Clients refuse to be flexible on their story angles.

  9. Clients get upset when the media coverage is not 100% accurate or not the kind of coverage that they wanted.

  10. Clients won’t change their schedules for the media.

This particular list was put together by an agency person, so it's a bit biased as to who is to blame on things... Having said that, there may be items missing on the agency side of the blame score sheet, but there's a lot of truth in what's in here, too...

Again, read the whole post here. It's very worth it...

Agencies or Clients: Who is Worse?

The cover story of Marketing News is called "Proving Ground: Greater need for ROI calls agencies' role into question."

Fascinating statistic in it:

  • A recent study by the CMO Council showed that half of public relations and advertising firms' clients likely would switch agencies this year;
  • 54% of 350 marketers surveyed plan to drop one of their agencies this year.
  • Meanwhile, PR firms experienced the largest turnover among all types of marketing agencies in 2006, with more than 35% of marketers replacing their PR agencies last year.
The study cited "poor performance, lack of strategy and creative firepower and insufficient outcomes" as the things that made clients irate.

So whose fault is it?
  • Are agencies only interested in creating funny nonsense, so they've lost focus on the bottom line?
  • Or have clients started to treat their agencies like hourly vendors, and then wondered why they're not as connected as they were when they were treated (and paid) like partners?
  • Are agencies focused on their own bottom line more than their clients' bottom line?
  • Or do clients fail to disclose, stick to (or even have) a clear strategy and measurement plan, leaving them to judge executions based on personal preference
I've been a client for years and now I'm on the agency side, so I've seen some of both... Over the next couple days I'm going to focus separately on what makes a good client and what makes a good agency... Maybe we'll find a happy middle ground somewhere.

UPDATE: First article is up: "What Makes a Good Advertising Client."

As always, I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Romancing the Audience

What marketing best practices can we learn from a first-time author? Turns out that my sister-in-law, Michelle Willingham Leonard, is a natural at this stuff.

When Michelle signed a three-book deal with Harlequin, she knew she'd sell a bunch of copies just on Harlequin's marketing muscle. But she also knew that to move herself up over other authors, she should sell some books, too. What things is she doing that we should all remember?

  1. Make a Connection: Her first book signing ever was along with world famous author Nora Roberts. Michelle knew people were there to see Nora, but they had to stand by her table when they were in line. She told each one that she was a first-time author who was so excited to have a book in print. Suddenly the person in the line was part of her story, and they helped complete it. She sold every book.
  2. Talk, and Listen: Michelle's had a blog for some time now. She shares her successes, her personal and business stories. She invites comments, and gets a lot of them. So much of marketing is one-way, you get a lot back from listening, too.
  3. Break Down Your Audience: Michelle could have said, "Any romance novel reader in the world is my target, so I need a campaign to reach them." But she was much more realistic, sending books and simple press releases to local papers and magazines, playing up the "Local Teacher Makes Good" angle. She sent similar stuff to her alma mater, her hometown paper and other places, with "Hometown Girls Makes Good" type angles. As a result, she got feature stories in area papers. That's got to sell some books, right?
  4. Look for Unique Opportunities: When Michelle saw two copies of her book on the shelf at her local store, she asked the manager if she could sign them both and put "Autographed Copy" stickers on them. He said ok. Both books sold quickly. (And I bet the manager ordered a few more copies once he knew she was local...)
I love some of the fun, big budget ideas that the pros come up with. But marketing is so basic, right? Who cares? Why should they care? Where are they? How can I reach them? etc. etc. Kudos to Michelle for getting it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Cartoon Fun

Enjoy this all-too-true cartoon and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Credit to Tom Fishburne at Sky Deck Cartoons.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ignoring Strategy 2.0

Just read a good post over on a blog called OkDork. The post was called Top 5 Stupid Trends of Marketing 2.0, and Noah Kagen, the writer, made several good points. Ok, actually he makes one really good point and 4 sort of fun ones...

The one really important point is that Web 2.0, if you 're applying it to marketing, is just a tool. And like all good marketing tools it can be applied intelligently or it can be swung around like a monkey with a hammer.

He asks good questions like, "Do you need a blog." Everyone wants to rush to answer yes, and many more should have them than do, but everyone? Seriously?

Learn about tools, to be sure, but think about strategy first!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So what IS YouTube anyway?

YouTube continues to creak under its own weight. The Los Angeles Times has a story where people are complaining that YouTube is losing it's "real" feeling because so many videos being placed there are corporate or commercial.

"Part of the allure of YouTube is the realness of it," one person whined in the article. "[The YouTube community] is nervous that if people are being paid to do their videos, it's not real anymore."

Is YouTube a place to surf around and look for fun videos? Or is YouTube a place to host and promote money-making content... That mix is shifting...

Here's the deal folks. YouTube has a huge viewer base. YouTube offers free posting, hosting and streaming of video content. Like many things, this will start out as something individuals use, it will grow to critical mass, and corporations will begin to use it to make money. It's the natural order of things.

Does nobody else remember the early 90s when people were afraid the web was going to go corporate? It certainly did, in a big way. And many of the web's coolest things are corporate provided. (Yes, many of the web's worst things are corporate provided, too, and many, many great things come from individuals.)

YouTube is going to continue to provide a valuablel service, and continue to creak...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Buying Buzz

Well, well, well... Advertising Age is reporting new data from the folks at Nielsen. They took data from two sources and found that the greatest chance of having buzz around a new product was to have advertising support of it. Yes, advertising support.

There's a lot to be said for blogs, Facebook, Second Life and all the other forms of social media out there today. And lots of the biggest advocates are getting a lot of ink in the ether saying that advertising is either dead or irrelevant. That's a great headline, to be sure. And there are issues with advertising, no doubt... But it's still a pretty powerful tool in the toolbox when used in the right way, at the right time...

Having said that, there are countless examples of using advertising badly...

The new tools in the toolbox are very exciting. But just like I was very happy to get my fancy new RotoZip a couple years back (until I lost the darn thing... I think my mover stole it), that doesn't mean the hammer isn't still pretty effective...

Monday, May 21, 2007

All sorts of "positioning" jokes

You know I love my Nintendo Wii. I admire how fun it is to play, but I also admire the business sense of the Nintendo folks who reinvented gaming while the Xbox and Playstation crowd were just switching it to Hi-Def (and charging $599 a pop). And I admire their positioning of it and how they marketed, as you saw in my earlier post, How We Marketed the Wii.

Now Wired magazine shows how the Wii can be positioned as a valid workout. Check out this chart:

  • Instead of 30 minutes of aerobics (242 calories), play 30 minutes of Wii Boxing (250 calories).
  • Instead of 15 minutes of sex (33 calories), play 7 minutes of Wii Tennis (46 calories).
Now, the first one seems to me to be a better idea than the second one, but this is a great positioning opportunity! (Pun sort of intended...) Videogames used to be the cause of obesity and now it can be part of the solution?!? Golden...

Have you tried the Wii? I'm telling you, you start sweating when you use it... I was sore for two days after my first try...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Fun

This would be even funnier if it weren't so true... Have a great weekend.

In an earlier post, I talked about how people come to me frequently with their product ready. Sometimes even with their strategy "ready." But too often they haven't done the hard work of perfecting (or at least nearly perfecting) their product before they worry about marketing... If they did that, it would be amazing how much more effective their product would be.

Cartoon credit to Tom Fishburne and his fun website.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ads That Hook People

The age old controversy of the value of shock in advertising rages again... This is a particularly heated debate in social marketing circles, where there's a fairly large body of research that suggests shock and fear don't work. Now this new campaign out of England...

The text reads: "The average smoker needs over five thousand cigarettes a year. Get unhooked."

The question then: Will this ad campaign from the British government shock people into noticing the ad and get them to respond to the message? Reuters reports that people are certainly noticing, with 800 complaints being filed so far.

What they don't report in Reuters is how have calls to the tobacco quitline increased based on this campaign. My personal guess is that there will be an initial spike in calls that will drop off quickly, corresponding directly with the shock wearing off... And then what do you do next? The agency may win awards for it, but is it the best strategy for the short and long-term... Probably not...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Don't Email Me... You Don't Know Me That Well

I was asked to speak on a panel today to the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association, the Triangle in question being Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC. The subject was best practices in email marketing and about 70 people showed up. I think I was there to represent the skeptics, as everyone else was a devotee.

Don't get me wrong, email marketing can be a good thing. But I had three main caveats:

  1. Email marketing is best for relationships. Unless you're careful or clever, using it for customer acquisition can be brand damaging.
  2. The list is king, and a smaller real list is better than a bigger junky list. (Unless you don't agree with number one and want to be perceived as a spammer.)
  3. You're not in control. Most good campaigns are deleted by 70% of people unopened, so think long and hard about why your content matters to me and when I want to receive it, not when you want to send it. Otherwise, it's going to the trash bin.
There was about 80 minutes of detail wrapped around the details, but to me, that's the just of it. I don't mind my HoneyBaked Ham email right before Easter offering me 10% off. In that case, that's the relationship. I don't mind my daily American Advertising Federation e-update. They have news I signed up for, even if I can't read it every day... That's the relationship.

I try to do that with my company's e-newsletter. Short, monthly, filled with marketing tips. Want to get on the list? (C'mon, I know you've been wondering where you can get more email!) If so, just leave me a comment with your email address and I'll add you to it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Want a Joost Invite?

My earlier post about Joost led many to ask if I knew where to find an invitation for Joost. I am happy to provide you with a Joost invite. Just leave a comment below and I'll send you the invite (UPDATE: YOU MUST INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, or I won't know where to send it... I've received about 5 requests that I can't send to because I don't know where to send it...) Once you get your invite, enjoy.I've tried the service and I like it (nice picture and all), but honestly I don't love it. If I want to watch some random B-level programming, I'll leave my office and mindlessly surf my 500 cable channels. I did watch a pretty twisted Adult Swim episode tonight, but... Still, maybe it will evolve, or maybe I need to try it for more than 20 minutes. If you're a Joost lover, I'd love to know why...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Objectifying Men

Those wacky Aussies are up to it again. This time in ads for 7-11. The local Leo Burnett folks have decided to do "something juicy for the ladies."

So, is this good or bad? On the one hand it seems like men are the last group that you can safely disparage--either in advertising or in sitcoms (see the one with the fat, dumb husband who is married to the smart, pretty wife? Oh yeah, that's about 8 shows... No cracks about it also being the true story of my life). At the same time, these pics are pretty funny and likely to get attention so, why not...

Now, will they sell Slurpees? Not so sure about that, although they may sell male French maid outfits to woman...or, more likely, bowflexes for husbands... What do you think women? Going to rush out to the local 7-11?

Friday, May 11, 2007

What Does Separate Equal?

The trend for years in big budget marketing is to have separate agencies for creative and media buying. As budgets have grown into the tens of millions, hundreds of millions and more, I guess that came out of (perhaps long overdue) respect for the media process.

But it never made sense to me. Media buying, done right, is creative. And good creative is thinking about delivery options. Separating them can work, sure, but how many good ideas do you miss when you do that? You won't know.

The tide may be shifting, as companies like the Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble are saying in the Wall Street Journal that it's a bad idea. And when those types of mega advertisers speak, trends follow. Watch for more accounts to roll back up into one agency.

That's what I think anyway. What do you think should or will happen?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Internet's Being Joost

Over the years, you've had to learn new Internet service company names, including Firefox, Skype, ICQ (which essentially became AOL Instant Messenger). Add to that list another name: Joost.

Joost is a new service that allows you to watch TV shows over the Internet with full clarity. They've got credible deals with folks like Warner Bros. for content.

But what's interesting about all these companies (except WB of course) is that they are using the same tools to grow big. Like the Nintendo Wii posting I made earlier, they are letting customers do the work for them. (Not a surprise, as one of the founders of Joost founded Skype, too...)

And, taking a page from ICQ, they are creating fake shortages to build excitement. You can't get Joost by going to the website. You have to be invited. They make you work a bit, and create a perception of being an insider. It worked great for ICQ. I think it will work well for Joost. Expect to hear more about them in the coming months...

To learn more about Joost, watch this 3-minute CBS News clip on it:

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Online Evangelism

A few years ago, creating customer evangelists was all the buzz. If you ask me, it still is the right thing to do. Only a handful of companies actually do it, but that's another story.

Now the Washington Post reports that companies are looking to the web for a place to let their evangelists flourish.

From customized M&Ms, to placing your own Cadillac story, to My Tivo Gets Me profiles, there are good, and bad efforts out there.

One thing is for sure, this is an effort that makes a lot sense. Have you been able to do this for your company or clients? Let me know.

By the way, the Washington Post gives credit to the "Will it Blend" campaign I mentioned in one of my very first posts. It's fun though, so here it is again. This is sheer brilliance...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tivo Pushes Ads Out of the House

MediaWeek reports that "alternative out of home" media is growing rapidly, up 27 percent in 2006 to $1.69 billion.

Alternative out of home is video advertising screens, digital billboards, and "place-based" media.

I think this comes from people trying to interrupt consumers when they least expect it. With Tivo and other DVRs causing commercials to be skipped. With consumers increasingly conditioned to flip over ads in 250-page magazines, the next idea is to surprise them, with either an ad in a place they don't expect or with an ad that has video when the consumer expects a single picture.

My thoughts: This trend will continue for years, before advertisers realize they are the victims of their own success. They've saturated the market to the point where everything is being ignored.

And then what happens next? Tell me what you think... I don't think it's industry salvation, even if it works in the short term...

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Tivo has a new TV ad campaign?

The folks at Tivo have done more than anyone to neuter the 30-second TV spot. So it's a bit strange to me that they are investing $15 million in a new TV ad campaign.

They think that people aren't going to fast forward over the ads because they put the little ears from the Tivo icon on real human heads. Wow, that's soooo funny. Must've been a good solid ten minute creative brainstorming session there.

And they NY Times says they have two websites, but it's really one with two URLs going the same place. They're trying to incorporate some social media tools in it, but the whole thing seems forced and contrived to me.

To me, there's no question that Tivo has a much better product than cable company DVRs. What they need is a business model that's competitive in order to make it interesting. Not an "antenna envy" ad campaign that is very unlikely to generate envy in anyone...

Judge for yourself:

Friday, May 4, 2007

Disgustingly Great Creative

I didn't expect to see a theme develop on this blog when I started it, but it's happening on its own. I love creative that comes out of looking at simple things and twisting them...

Here's another great piece of creative, developed when someone thought really far outside the proverbial box... Blank pieces of paper were hung in Vancouver. As bugs met their demise on the sticky sections, their bodies made the Orkin logo appear... How cool is that???

The agency that gets the credit is Rethink Communications, in Canada. Apparently, they are well named...

Child See, Child Do

I love good social marketing creative. Here's another one, from Australia. (A lot of good social marketing creative comes out of Australia, perhaps because they are willing to put more extreme commercials out than American censors would allow. This one, however, is only somewhat graphic.)

This spot is unusual, in that most social marketing is issue specific (i.e., AIDS, problem gambling, smoking cessation). This one is about all the negative things children will emulate if we're not careful about being a role model. From Child Friendly, in Australia. Enjoy.

Like a lot of great creative, this is taking something that happens (usually gradually and over time), and twisting it just enough to shock us by it's accuracy. Anyone know the agency that did this campaign?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Creativity on Any Budget

The company I work for has been in business for 22+ years, yet we've never found a client with enough money to do what they want to do. Advertising is expensive. If they've got $200,000, they need $1 million. If they've got $1 million, they've got $5 million worth of needs, and so on. But these pictures here show that creativity is not a budget thing--it's a thinking thing.

Here are very creative outdoor executions on a tiny budget, a medium budget and a decent budget. The theme across all three is someone who saw things in a fresh way.

Tiny Budget: Brilliant Outdoor Medium Budget: Brilliant Outdoor
Decent Budget: Brilliant Outdoor