Business Inspiration for the New Year

January 5, 2009

As I was catching up on my RSS reading, two posts by Seth Godin and Fred Wilson really caught my attention as inspiration for the New Year.

In the first, Seth Godin posed the question, “Do ads work?” In particular, Seth is asking about digital ads where he feels the mindset of marketers should be “We have an unlimited budget for ads that work.”  In his own words:

Digital ads are different (or they should be). You should know cost per click and revenue per click and be able to make a smart guess about lifetime value of a click. And if that’s positive, buy, buy, buy.  And if you don’t know those things, why are you buying digital ads?

Seth goes on to give the example of Amazon during the Dot Com boom of the late ’90’s.  He says that during this time, the mantra at Amazon was $33. “They would buy unlimited ads, of any kind, as long as they generated new customers for $33 or less each.” Was $33 too high of a number to be sustainable?  Possibly.  But their internal ROI showed that $33 was the magic number and there was unlimited money to buy ads under that figure.

In other words, don’t use the excuse that you don’t have the budget.

Any idea that you have proven will build your sales and share should be invested in…and it should be invested in at the expense of ads that aren’t proven.

In the second thought-provoking post, Fred Wilson talked about creating a great business team in “Putting the Band Back Together.” Fred has noticed that as times get tough, many successful serial entrepreneurs are rejoining people they have worked with in the past.  Or as he puts it, “they are getting the band back together for awhile.”  Fred sees this as an encouraging sign because:

Teams that have worked together successfully before know the strengths and weaknesses of each other and they know how to get along, make hard decisions, and move the ball forward each and every day.

I think this is a brilliant insight and one that most businesses don’t think about often enough.  Think about your own brand team at work.  How long has the most junior person been on the team?  Or how long have the most senior members worked together?  What about your agency?  Have the same people been on the account as long as the Brand Manager or Marketing Director?  I’d be willing to bet that there has been considerable change over on both sides.

I think more brands need to follow the advice of Fred and “get the band back together.” 

If you have a successful brand and agency team, then practice continuity and keep them working together.

Business is a game of teamwork and it takes time to develop good working relationships.  In sports, All Star games are boring because the best players don’t practice together every day.  So when you throw them together, they don’t know how to work together.  Just look at what happened to the USA “Dream Team” in 2002 – 2004 when we lost to teams that had played together for years.

The same thing might be happening to your brand when you change the players every year.

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Weekly Round-Up: 8-19-08

August 19, 2008

Another crazy week of travels, this time to Cincinnati for house-hunting and some really interesting digital meetings/trainings.  In the meantime, here is what caught my eyes the past couple of days:

  • CPG Brands Better Buy Paid Search– Yahoo and Mediavest just released a study that said “brands generated an average 160% increase in unaided awareness by being present in standard sponsored-text search results compared with when consumers weren’t exposed to their search ads.”  This backs up results released by Google a couple of weeks ago as well.
  • Map of Pop vs Soda vs Coke in US – This is one of the coolest graphics I have seen in awhile.  As a “pop” guy living in the heart of “Coke” country, this just fascinates me.  What can I say, I’m a nerd.
  • Techno/Marketer: The Face of Facebook e-book– Matt Dickman of Fleishman-Hillard provides this simple “snapshot of what the real face of Facebook looks like on a Global and US level.”  A perfect, quick read for marketers and Brand Managers.
  • Web Strategy by Jeremiah: The Evolution of Brands on Twitter– Jeremiah Owyang is consistently one of the most rel event and interesting reads on-line for marketers.  He does it again with this easy walk-through of how a brand should wade in the waters of Twitter.
  • David Armano: The Micro-Site Isn’t Dead (It’s Just Not Useful) – A must read for every Brand Manager and marketer, especially since this is coming from an agency guy who works for a company designing a lot of micro-sites for brands (including P&G brands).

Weekly Round-Up: 8-13-08

August 13, 2008

It’s been a busy couple of days here and due to get even busier with some visitors in town from Cincinnati and a weekend getaway to Dallas with Cindy after that.  In case i don’t get a chance to post with all of that, here is some great posts to keep you busy:

  • Coca-Cola’s Conversations Blog – In Mack Collier’s Company Blog Checkup this week, he rated Coke’s effort the best one yet in his ongoing blog series.  Their effort is an interesting twist, as the blog author is Phil Mooney, who describes himself as “the historian/archivist for The Coca-Cola Company for the last 30 years.”  Given the popularity of Coke memorabilia, this is a great way to tap into an existing community and provide an authentic voice within.
  • Guy Kawasaki: “The Art of Visual Thinking” –   Picture 17.jpgGuy does it again with a stellar post on how the best ideas should be simple… so simple that they can be drawn on a napkin.  For instance, the image at right describes the basic idea of Southwest Airlines.  No fancy buzzwords, no financial charts and no SWAT analysis.  Just a simple idea, brilliantly brought to life with pen and paper.  Can the idea behind your brand be this simple?
  • Shiv Singh: Avenue A / Razorfish introduces AdLife – I am really intrigued by this new offering (done in partnership with Pluck), which Shiv says “will inject social media features like customer comments and user-generated content into digital advertisements such as banner ads or microsites.”
  • Ryan Jones: Interview with CEO of Dynamic Logic – Fellow P&G Marketer Ryan Jones provides a great interview with Nick Nyhan, the CEO of Dynamic Logic, on everything to brand ideals to social media measurement. 
  • TechCrunch: ToAnswer is Twitter Meets Yahoo Answers – One of the best ways to use Twitter is to ask your network random questions / recommendations.  Fred Wilson of a VC is particularly fond of asking these Twuestions as he calls them.  Now a new site lets you see all the questions being asked across the Twittersphere.  Pretty cool stuff.

Weekly Round-Up: 5-23-08

May 23, 2008

Been slammed in meetings all week but wanted to share the following links that caught my attention.  Have a great long weekend!

Weekly Round-Up: 5-15-08

May 15, 2008

This week I am headed back to Cincinnati to serve my Best Man duties at the wedding of one of my great friends.  All will be quiet on the blogging front while I am away but here are a few links to leave you with that have got me thinking lately:

  • AttentionMax “Why Passion Matters” – I just love this statement: “passion is not something that can be bought, outsourced or faked.”  When I think about people I want on my team, passion is #1.  You can train someone to be a great marketer…you can’t train passion though.  I’ll take the bet that the person passionate about their job and life in general will beat experience or a “pedigree” any day.
  • Copyblogger “Are You Talkin’ To My Generation” – A great look at how to think about talking and getting in the minds of different generations.
  • Lightheavyweight “What is Strategy?” -Simple thoughts but very needed.  Too many brands try to be everything to everyone.  Strategy needs to be simple, narrow and focused.
  • Godin “We Specialize in Everything” – I missed this post until I caught a mention of it on m-cause.  I love this quote “When choice is limited, I want a generalist. When selection is difficult, a jack of all trades is just fine.  But whenever possible, please bring me a brilliant specialist.”  There is something to be said about finding yourself a niche and doing it better than anyone else.
  • The Gen Y Guide to Web 2.0 Work – This is brilliant…even more so for the fact she created a killer presentation on her Nintendo DS!
  • Digital Nomads and The New Workforce – Great post and something I want to write about more later.  In today’s world, great talent can work anywhere.  Companies need to start embracing this and thinking about a world where their best people might not need to live in the home office.  Save on relocation money and let them live/work where they want.  Doing so opens up endless opportunities to attract amazing talent.
  • Viral Garden “Social Media: Where Have We Been, Where are We Going?” – Great summary post.  I’m actually thinking of putting together a presentation along these lines to educate my fellow Brand Managers about the Social Media space along with successes and failures.  If helpful, I’ll post here for all to see.
  • Techno/Marketer “Developing Personas for Marketing Strategy” – This is one of the best summaries on the concepts of personas that I have ever read.  At P&G we talk about personas as our WHO, attaching a name to a Prime Prospect that is our target market.  Great, great summary of how to develop a WHO for your person.  When I consult, I am shocked at how many brands and businesses havent taken this step.  You can’t create a marketing plan without developing a robust WHO…it’s that simple.

Weekly Round-Up: 5-2-2008

May 2, 2008

Busy week and slow posting but here are some blog postings that caught my eye:

Weekly Round-Up 4-26-2008

April 26, 2008

The best from the blogosphere this week: