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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Maker’s Mark uses community engagement to turn the ordinary into extraordinary

October 17, 2008

Photo by DRP on Flickr

I’m a proud member of the Maker’s Mark Ambassador Program.  And as a new resident of Kentucky, its a good thing I am because they take their bourbon seriously around these parts.  In fact, I actually think love of bourbon is a requirement for living in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

But seriously, I’m happy to be a member of the Maker’s Mark Ambassador program because it is one of the sharpest relationship marketing programs out there.  First off, it’s the envy of the liquor industry.  Second, one of the perks of the program is that I get a bottle out of my very own barrel (which is pretty cool).  And third, the company has an amazing ability to treat their Ambassadors like they are part of the company with small, little perks.

I was reminded of that simple fact this week when the company posted on their Ambassador blog about an upcoming website redesign (side note: this great blog was spearheaded by Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer).   Now let’s face it.  A website redesign isn’t exactly sexy news.  In fact, most people probably wouldn’t even notice it.  But Maker’s was able to reach out to their Ambassador program and make the community feel special by giving them a peak inside.  Here is what they posted about the launch:

Just wanted to drop you a note on a cool sneak preview (sort of). Sometime between now and Monday, will look a little different. We’re launching a redesign but aren’t telling anyone but you for now. Certainly, anyone who goes there can see it, but we really want to get your feedback and let you have dibs on checking it out.

So, go to sometime over the weekend or early next week and check out the new digs. Keep in mind that moving a big ole website involves a lot of complicated technical stuff I couldn’t begin to pronounce, much less explain, so if you see the site is down or something, we’re in the middle of the move. Just be patient and come back later.

Though a simple gesture, it really says something special about Maker’s Mark.  It shows that they understand their community and more importantly they know how to talk to them.  By talking to the community in a real, authentic voice, they are able to turn the simple redesign of an ordinary website into what I perceive to be an extraordinary brand interaction.  Well done guys.

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Nintendo Wii creates one of the most brilliant pieces of digital marketing I have ever seen

September 24, 2008

Thanks to Adam Cohen, I came across one of the most brilliant pieces of digital marketing that I have seen in awhile.  The ad is for the Nintendo Wii and their latest game, Wario Land.

Creative like this is why digital is transforming our jobs as marketers and Brand Managers.  If you haven’t seen what I am talking about, go check it out now at:

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Is it good or bad to be blogging daily?

April 24, 2008

Ever since I started up Hard Knox Life, I’ve been trying to write a post every day, or at least every work day.  I haven’t quite reached that goal, having posted 38 out of 61 days so far.  But ironically I have done 61 total posts in those 61 days so at least I have that going for me.  I was feeling pretty good about that until I came across an interesting post on the Pandemic Blog about the “negative effects of daily blog posting.”  These negatives were:Daily posts mean hasty readers.

  1. Daily posts mean low quality.
  2. Daily posts mean fewer subscribers.
  3. Daily posts mean fewer comments.
  4. Daily posts mean pressure.
  5. Daily posts don’t guarantee success.

So what do you think?  Are daily posts a good thing?  Or do they cause you to read this blog less frequently and comment less often? 

Yet another area the US is falling behind in

April 18, 2008

A new global study on social media use by Universall McCann shows the US is falling behind in participation rates.  A couple of highlights directly from AdWeek:

  • A little over 60 percent of Internet users in the U.S. said they read blogs, but just 26 percent had created one, compared to over 70 percent of Internet users who blog in South Korea and China.
  • Consumers in Asian countries are also much more likely to read blogs: 92 percent of South Koreans and 90 percent read them. In China, 88 percent read blogs
  • While 30 percent said they watched video online in UM’s initial survey in September 2006, over 80 percent said they had this year.
  • Less than 30 percent of respondents said they set up a social network profile in 2006; over 60 percent did two years later.
  • Social networking is still growing worldwide, but is reaching a “saturation point” in the U.S., while countries like the Philippines, Brazil and Mexico more avidly use it.  The Philippines, Hungary, Poland and Mexico all boast participation rates over 75 percent, while just 43 percent have joined social networks in the U.S

UPDATE: I finally found the presentation for sharing since the AdWeek link is down

Conversation by Design

March 10, 2008

I just finished reading through David Armano’s presentation entitled Conversation by Design that outlines how to “create an effective + unique blog experience.”  Armano’s blog Logic+Emotion is one of my favorite daily reads and his presentation is an inspiration for all of us trying to become “conversation architects.”