Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Blowing Up Retail....The Tipping Point Has Come & Gone

BBC.com

 4.5 MIN. READ:

The Jetsons’ flying car I’ve been waiting for since 1962 has arrived (click to watch the video!), but I still can’t try on clothes virtually in every store I go into. Where’s the retail tech revolution we were promised!?! AI, VR, holographics. I want it NOW!


Today’s bricks and mortar (B&M) retail environment is pretty boring, if not depressing. Stores have been turned into warehouses to ensure your choices are in stock within driving distance (exploiting Amazon’s ‘last mile’ barrier). I couldn’t squeeze through the rolling racks in the men’s section at Sears recently. Even my corner convenience store is offering ‘order online and pick up in store’ and Amazon, Google Shopping and Ali Babba are continuing to gradually suck the lifeblood out of everyone’s best efforts at eCommerce. (At Canada’s Hudson Bay department store the clerks now encourage you to go online and buy an item for 40% less, then give them the code and they simply bag it and hand it over. It’s all about changing mindsets and habits and moving volume.)

Stores are closing at a rapid pace and the majority of openings are focused on wealthy neighbourhoods. Openings that are getting a lot of coverage are either ‘Pure Play’ going offline, like Amazon’s GO locations, or ‘Own Brand’ stores, a trend that started with Apple Stores in 2001, spread to Tesla, Nike and many other brands, now including the very successful Lindt Chocolate stores staffed by Brand Momentum in malls across Canada. Recently BMI began rolling out RBH’s IQOS demonstration shops in Toronto and Vancouver to introduce a new way of inhaling no smoke while consuming a cigarette replacement. Pop-up Shops are cute, but hardly the immersive high tech experience we were promised some years ago. Sure, like the Jetsons’ flying car, tech takes times to catch up with our imaginations, but the reality is that, like the music industry waking up one morning to find their office doors locked by the bankruptcy lawyers, retail disruption has come and gone.

We don’t talk about it much, but Capitalism is retail’s biggest problem. As Richard D. Wolff of Democracy at Work likes to say, when Capitalism does what it’s designed to do (continually make more profit through growth and/or cost cutting), ultimately it kills itself. Think about it. Every corporation traded on the global gambling pool that is the stock market must grow by 10%+ per year, or the wealthy stop buying its stock. To grow, Boards of Directors have to either cut wages or ship the jobs overseas, thus gradually cutting the spending power of the entire population to the point where they cannot afford the corporation’s products, or they have to leverage mergers and acquisitions. The latter tactic is inevitably leading to relatively few global corporations and tons of start-ups vying to get bought up by the mega-corps.

When corporations become global powerhouses, they have the power to make the rules, nationally, regionally and globally (humans are both greedy and opportunistic at heart, and the least ethical are most driven to become rich or politicians). There is no other way for a capitalist corporation to go, other than to grow to the point that it eventually exploits everything it can out of the masses to increase revenue and profit.

Which are today’s fastest growing corporations that have unprecedented daily interactions with average people? Amazon, Google and Ali Babba. Interestingly, growth has replaced profit as their primary goal. They don’t even try to make a profit, they just reinvest in growth every year and investors seem happy to keep buying their stock. The unprecedented advantage these firms have over B&M retailers is data – every single time we use Google, or buy from Amazon, they are learning more about us. Over time they are getting smarter and smarter about how to leverage that information to create more compelling (addictive) interactions. This is a tool that no amount of incentivization around “Please go to our website and fill out a survey for a chance to win!” is going to bring to the B&M retail chains.

Meanwhile, the Long Tail (thousands of new products from new and existing manufacturers) is sucking sales volume from long established bulwarks of Branding at P&G, Kimberly Clark, Reckitt Benckiser and the rest and we’re seeing the first declines in performance for many brands in North America in decades. No wonder that these firms are rushing to get listed at the top of Amazon’s Subscription service -- if they can get into the “First Basket” of regular monthly grocery orders, up to 80% of those reordered products will never change if the concept of monthly deliveries manages to gain real traction. (And why wouldn’t it? Once you ‘get’ that it is easier and cheaper for Amazon to send you all that regular stuff, it means less tedious shopping and more time for more exciting stuff.)


So where am I going with this? Amazon and Google, unfettered by the need to worry about making a profit, are free to just keep growing, exploiting every niche opportunity and disrupting as they go, wiping out retailers as they do so. Like Walmart and their ‘big box’ brethren who wiped out the retailers on Main Street and are now shutting stores if the jobless, destitute people in an area cannot afford to shop there, the Amazon and Google behemoths will continue to roll relentlessly forward, opening their own stores or acquiring the chains they bankrupt, leaving big box centers scattered among the most densely populated areas and upscale shopping centers in the wealthiest neighbourhoods.

 

So what really is next for B&M retail?

Retail technology is where I’m putting my money. To enhance the in-store shopping experience chains are going to have to double down on exciting technological gadgetry and anything else that enhances Shopper Engagement. The staff are going to have to whip up mocaccinos and give foot massages [I’m joking, they’re going to have to be super knowledgeable, impeccable and more like your bestie (best friend) than ever before]. Staffing and training firms like Brand Momentum, who find and manage the best candidates to be Brand Ambassadors for in store experiences, are going to do well.

 

The Future of Retail:

In B&M chains big data and RFID (radio frequency identification) is going to have to get so refined by AI (artificial intelligence) and VR (virtual reality) that as you walk past what looks like an inanimate mannequin it will turn out to be a hologram OF YOU with the latest fashions of the type of stuff you bought IN THAT SEASON THE YEAR BEFORE morphing over it, reading your eyes to see which outfit most appeals to you, while (in a voice most appropriate for your sexual orientation) it negotiates in real time with you to find a price point you’ll say yes to and the transaction will happen automatically. The items on the shelf will then glow and ping on the shelf nearby while your smartwatch guides you towards them and then directs you to the fitting rooms -- if you feel the need to check the fit (eventually won’t because the invisible laser scanner will have determined your precise current shape and offered you the exactly correct size of each item).

I just made all of that last part up.

But it’s all still going to happen, just not soon, and it won't be the 'magic sauce' that will rescue B&M chains from Amazon-induced bankruptcy. ;-)

•••

Kevin is a Concept Inventor: innovative business-building concepts and breakthrough solutions. Want more of his insights and how they can help your marketing efforts? Book a conversation with him today: KevinLenard@Gmail.com


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Branding Is Being Made Irrelevant By Amazon and Google


4 MIN. READ

Back in 2007 I had a moment. Not a senior moment, but a career-changing insight into a prejudice I'd long held as a 'push marketer':

Hair-netted seniors giving out samples is the lowest form of marketing. NOT!


Turns out they're the highest form. To secure my then wife's job, I took up the challenge of explaining to CIM's CEO and senior team (Consumer Impact Marketing, now part of Mosaic) why they were on the leading edge of a growth business and why they should elevate LAUNCH!, their 'trinkets & trash' department (my ex's description) that produced branded merchandise for contests and giveaways, up to become the strategic and creative lead for their experiential marketing division (LAUNCH! grew steadily to become and remain a powerhouse in Canada). In the process I became a convert to the inestimable value of connecting humans to brands through one on one conversations.

Back then it was exactly ten years since the release of the most momentous new insight into the marketing industry, and perhaps the entire human species, since the Internet was switched on in 1989: The Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1997). That simple understanding, that after 50 years of consumerism, people had shifted to wanting great experiences much more than they wanted stuff, SHOULD have led to billions of dollars of television spending being shifted into Experiential Marketing – but our human weakness for ‘shiny & new’ distracted us with digital, social and blockchain. (Whatever that is, but hey! Don Tapscott makes a lot of money peddling ‘shiny & new’ to the gullible masses!)

To be fair, probably the single biggest barrier to XM winning the largest slice of the media mix pie that it deserves was CPM. Cost per thousand impressions was such an integral and bedrock measure in the business that comparing pennies to hundreds of dollars was just too shocking a shift, especially with the arrival of the Procurement Department. Still, Admiral Grace Hopper got it right in noting:

Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, 'We've always done it this way.'


Branding is something that we’ve “always done this way” for 100 years, so why is it beginning to fade? Because people, especially young people, just don’t care as much about symbols of status today the way people did after the end of the second of two world wars. Back then the Developed World was transforming as Capitalism drove higher incomes and empowered Consumerism (“Keeping up with the Joneses”). People had increasing disposable income and tourism was in its infancy.

Young people today grew up in relative wealth and even the poorest kids, with easy credit for mom and dad, have had a lot of ‘branded stuff’ growing up and many ‘caught the travel bug’ with family trips to Florida or Cancun. Consumerism is no longer something to aspire to, in fact, if you want to rebel against mom and dad’s values, you are likely to reject Consumerism and embrace ‘Doing Good’ experiences, quitting your new job to build housing in the developing world.

Plane travel and all-inclusive vacations are now so commonplace that thousands of weddings now
take place on Caribbean beaches with the entire group of family and friends in attendance, forgoing wedding gifts in lieu of covering travel costs. Now THAT is a big change versus a few decades ago and reflects the trend toward experiences over stuff. In fact, when couples have already filled their condos with trendy, reasonably-priced stuff from stores like TJ Max, Marshall’s, Home Sense/Winners and Ross Dress for Less, the old idea of the ‘gift registry’ for a set of fine china and silverware has greatly eroded the significance of branding, cheapening all of the brands sold in those outlets immeasurably. I can’t give away my recently departed aunt’s set of fine china.

First the generic ‘own label’ brands at all the major grocery and pharmacy chains (and eventually generic stores like Canada’s “No Frills”) chipped away at the perceived value of brands in consumers’ minds, then the big box wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club took the process a step further. Today’s young people have grown up consuming no-brand products and are well educated in the “same as branded” generic reality.

“The Extermination of Branding”?


‘Disruption’ is what is going to kill off the now age-old business of branding. The new way to carve out niches for growth is to go after any way of doing things that is “the way it has always been done,” and Google and Amazon have virtually unlimited resources and the constant pressure of the gambling pool for the global rich that we call the stock market. Grow at a minimum of 10% per year or see your stock price slide. In fact, grow at MORE than 10% (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.) and you don’t even have to turn a profit!

What these firms are doing RELENTLESSLY is searching for the next business model that they can infect and then hollow out. The opportunity they see with branding is ripe. All the money that marketers invest in building brands is money that Amazon and Google can discount and offer consumers the same for much less. Google is undermining Amazon with algorithms that search the marketplace and offer the same or better prices than Amazon’s. Amazon is using their algorithms to figure out what we need before we need it, essentially undermining Google by preempting search.

Who loses?


Brands that relied on advertising and the consumers’ perceived value of premium branding. If I can ask Amazon’s Echo (“Alexa”) or Google’s Home for double A batteries and I’m offered their own label brand for much less than Eveready or Duracell, with the reassurance from the device that theirs is equal in quality, my new ‘relationship’ with a trusted source of stuff, information and ‘advice.’ If I’m a manufacturer supplying these new online retail powerhouses with a growing supply of generic soap or batteries AND my stockholders are demanding ever more cost cutting…

Who gets fired first?


The Marketing Department. When the manufacturers develop new flavours or products and Amazon or Google can announce the news directly to the family without interrupting their shows or games or conversations, who gets fired next? The advertising industry.

Who wins?


The agencies who put young Brand Ambassadors out into the streets and at events and hair-netted seniors giving out samples in big box stores: Experiential Marketing. And it is these same agencies who should be leading the way to invent and maintain the most impactful ways to engage and maintain relationships with influencers WITHOUT destroying their credibility by paying them for positive mentions.

Watch this 25 min. talk by Scott Galloway on the looming axing of CMO’s and their teams: How Amazon is Dismantling Retail

•••

Kevin is a Concept Inventor: innovative business-building concepts and breakthrough solutions. Want more of his insights and how they can help your marketing efforts? Book a conversation with him today. Some topics you might be intrigued by:

  1. Credibility is Critical to ‘Influencer Marketing,’ yet it DIES When We Pay Influencers.” Are you a guilty party?
  2. “The Death of the Ad Agency Model was Instigated in 1992, Giving Birth to What?” – A template for a new MarCom Agency business model
  3. “If It’s Now All About 1-on-1 Engagement, Why Isn’t 80% of Your Media Budget in X?” – “The Experience Economy,” came out in 1997. We just got distracted by ‘shiny and new,’ but shouldn’t experiential marketing be getting a bigger slice of the pie?
  4. “Bubbles Burst, Always” – The US economy is set to explode very soon, have you and your company prepared for the inevitable crash?
  5. “The Diversity We Cannot Name” – It’s the odd characters who sometimes have the most to offer. I explain who they are and how to get the most out of them.

Contact: Kevin.Lenard@Gmail.com

Monday, 17 April 2017

"Influencer Marketing"! Why Do We Work SO Hard at Killing the Goose?

3.5 MIN. READ: Why is it so hard for we humans to do the smart thing, instead of doing what we've always done?

You know what got us really excited about the ads we made back in the 90's? People talking about them 'around the water cooler.' In other words we hoped for 'earned media,' better known as 'positive PR,' or even 'personal recommendations.' We were arrogant enough to think that if our ads were impactful enough, buyers of the product we advertised would 'spread their influence' and we'd see increased share of market. Sadly we weren't wrong, but the effect wasn't caused by our brilliance, most of the time, but rather simply by the social oddities of human nature: the more we see a brand, the more likely we are to buy it.

The single most significant change that the Internet has had upon marketing is what? Not digital ads. Not 'big data' (oh, that's huge, but it is an incremental change that became exponential). Not ads on mobile phones or geo-targeting (although it will eventually help bring us to the Holy Grail of marketing, more on this in a bit). The biggest thing underlies all the "SHINY & NEW" labels that the marketing journalists have come up with: instant, free and broadly distributed personal recommendations. The labels we've churned through of late with breathless hyperbole:

Social Marketing • Content Marketing • Influencer Marketing


Think about it. These are all the same thing and used to be called PR, also known as 'earned media,' whether the medium is a TV breakfast show or a popular blogger's site or feed.

Not just because I had my own agency on the beach in Cancun for many years I like the PESO model I came across recently:

Some versions of this model put the “Content” category title over different things, but I see Content as being in the dead center as, for the consumer of the content, the line between professionally produced and broadcast content (‘Paid,’ ‘Earned’ and ‘Owned’), versus unpaid amateurs' posts/tweets/feeds (‘Shared’) has become immaterial. It’s all just information and/or entertainment to the average sales prospect. I’ve added the split between ‘Push Efforts’ that the Brand can control and ‘Pull Results’ that they can’t, recognizing that there is some cross-over, like the brand’s Facebook fan page and Twitter account.

Now the author of this example of the PESO model put ‘Influencer Engagement’ between ‘Earned’ and ‘Social,’ which puts it squarely (excuse the visual pun) in the ‘Pull Results’ region. What happens when, especially in Canada where we don’t yet have a law like the US has implemented that requires all brand advocates to declare if/what they’ve been compensated for their endorsement, the Brand pays people to say good things about their product? That is in NO WAY either ‘Earned’ or ‘Shared’ (found/discovered) ‘Pull Results,’ these are clearly ‘Paid’ and ‘Owned’ (especially if directed/scripted) ‘Push Efforts.’

At Bruinco's recent BConExpo content-related conference in Toronto a panel discussion was featured titled “Standing Out in a Sea of Influencers,” moderated by Bree Rody-Mantha. The panelists recounted their recent efforts in the realm of influencers and what struck me was the fact that, for an admittedly low-engagement product like Honey Nut cheerios, Emma Eriksson of General Mills Canada had merely paid some online celebrities for a testimonial in what was an advertorial. I couldn’t resist opening my big mouth to highlight the distinct difference between the ‘Push Efforts’ of General Mills and the largely ‘Pull Results’ of Budweiser, recounted by Andrew Oosterhuis of Labatt Breweries of Canada. (Serena Tam of Clorox Canada described efforts that fell somewhat more in the middle of push and pull for Brita Water Filters.)

The concern that I raised then, and continue to be somewhat apoplectic about, is that the moment marketers PAY influencers/advocates for positive reviews, they destroy the credibility of these folks. Why am I giving Labatt a pass when they sought out the right kind of influencer based upon their followers, their demographics, psychographics and style and then gave them tickets and travel expenses to music festivals and the like, only requesting that they drink Bud and mention their consumption? Because there is a fundamental difference between being paid to be positive about a product you may not even like and being ‘placed’ in a consumption environment you very much enjoy.

The best experiential engagements between brands and consumers are the ones in which the brand fits naturally and relevantly. When people get free shampoos with scalp massages and hair styling afterwards out in the middle of a downtown square or market, it may be weird, but it is free and fun and earns a bunch of media coverage and social shares. When Frank’s Red Hot sauce puts on a rib eating contest at a music festival or foodie convention, the same thing happens. If the experience is fun, interesting, entertaining and might help improve my 'social capital' I just might post a photo of it on social media. If it gets me REALLY engaged or really enjoying the product, I just might blog or tweet about it, VOLUNTARILY.
Brand Momentum Event
Sadly, when General Mills tries to co-opt the plight of the imperiled honey bees by giving out wild flower seeds to every customer at the checkout of a grocery store to help promote a better urban environment for bees (a noble cause), the customers ask “Why would I want more bees in my backyard? I’m scared of bees!” and the clerk comments “Yeah, most people feel that way, but we were told to offer a packet to every customer.” Now I can imagine a bunch of creative and strategically sound ideas to turn this challenge around for Honey Nut Cheerios, but the sad fact is that this knee-jerk tendency our industry has of seizing every new opportunity for garnering genuine ‘Push Results’ and going back to the ‘Push Efforts’ we are most familiar with simply destroys the value and potential of new tools for brands to forge truly authentic and enduring human connections.

What is what I call 'The Holy Grail of Marketing'? Fully addressable advertising wherein we see only ads for products we're interested in, when we are interested, with zero repetition. Once we get there, marketers won't have to push so much as they'll find their ideal buyers organically and naturally. Customers will 'pull' ads they want and will be happy to watch them, as long as they feel that marketing efforts are relevant and credible.

•••

Kevin is an inventor. An inventor of concepts and breakthrough solutions. Want more of his insights and how they can help your marketing efforts? Book a conversation with him today. Some topics you might engage him about:
  1. Bubbles Burst, Always” – the US economy is set to explode very soon, have you and your company prepared for the inevitable crash?
  2. The Workplace Diversity that We Never Talk About” – a look back at the evolution of human behaviour and how we’re missing opportunities to work together more effectively and honestly.
  3. The Death of the Ad Agency Model was Instigated in 1992, Giving Birth to What?” – Consider a new MarCom Agency business model.
  4. It’s the Brand Experience, Stupid!” – today’s focus on ‘one-on-one engagement’ was initiated in 1997 in “The Experience Economy” and it will eventually grab the biggest slice of the media pie, we just got distracted by ‘shiny and new’ for the past 20 years.
Contact: Kevin.Lenard@Gmail.com

Friday, 7 April 2017

Pepsi Demonstrates Why In-House Creative Departments Can't Work

6 MIN. READ   Yeah, that Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad SUCKED. That’s what you get when you bring creative in-house, Pepsi. It’s inevitable because that formula simply cannot work, for reasons I’ll explain.

 

The Extermination of the Client Service Buffer 

Yay! Now our Brand Managers can talk directly to the Creatives and eliminate that useless function of Account Managers!” What the clients don’t get is that these ‘handlers’ played a far more important role than they could grasp. Those so-called ‘suits’ and ‘bag carriers’ were:
  • A shoulder to cry on.
  • Buffers against criticism.
  • Cheerleaders and pep-talkers.
  • Strategic guides.
  • Punching bags.
  • Project Managers.
  • The ‘warm-up band.’
  • The ones who demanded that more than one concept got presented.
  • Time-buyers.
  • Negotiators.
  • Sources of inspiration.
Without them the creatives have nowhere to hide to lick their wounds, or create. Good luck with that.

 

It's Been Attempted Before -- Never Successfully

My worst experience in agency work ever was with CIL Paints here in Toronto. Worst EVER (and I spent 6 years in Cancun selling agency services to entitled and astonishingly arrogant third generation children of Mexico's 1% families). CIL is basically a chemical company. Its ranks are filled with chemical engineers and chemists. Guess what their favorite task at work is? Getting the chance to "input on creative." Believe it or not, every new packaging design and advertisement concept gets circulated to a bunch of these folks and each one is empowered to 'comment.' Ever wonder why paint can labels look so entirely uninspired? That's why.

To demonstrate just how 'creative' the folks at CIL are, back in the late 80's they decided all this baloney of putting up with creative prima donnas from agencies and their snooty attitude towards the nay-saying from the CIL battery of 'clients' was to create their own in-house 'agency.' Wasn't too long before every single new designer, copywriter and art director ran out the doors screaming, so they went back to farming the work out, but as of a few years back they were still circulating all the proposals for internal 'input' and getting sad design as a result.

 

In-House Content Creation Client-Side

So what's the newest trend in this decade? In-house content creation. Why farm it out when you can just hire a bunch of low-cost copywriters and have them crank out posts and tweets day in and day out. Back in 2014 Pepsi did this with the high-minded idea, apparently generated by the visionary Brad Jakeman, that they could create marketing efforts that were more like Red Bull's, who has an in-house agency. Sadly there seems to be a fundamental difference between the work that Red Bull Creative cranks out and that of Pepsi's 'Creators League Studio.'

 

“The Creators League Studio”

Really? I'm pretty sure that name illustrates just what's wrong with the underlying concept for this corporate department, and that it starts with Brad Jakeman. While Red Bull started out as an unknown little brand that HAD to 'find its wings' before it could fly and has a strong, young, disruptive internal ethic, Pepsi’s marketing team is a department within a global corporate giant, a department led by an (apparently) cantankerous, late-career wannabe visionary trying to emulate the breakout star in his category. Pepsi is trying too hard, and it shows up in this sad ad (but then Jakeman is in the unenviable position of having to be Trump-like in an effort to look like a hero to his CEO and board and thus defer his inevitable firing for as long as possible).

 

Self-Love Feels SO Good!

I can tell you what comes out of a team who only works on a single brand and has a name like “The Creators League,” they believe in the power of their own snake oil. And how can they not? They have only each other and a single brand to focus on every day. A HUGE element of what empowers the creativity in any agency is the fact (downplayed to the clients) that everyone gets exposed to multiple brands and categories every day. Yes, Pepsi may have a wide lineup of brands that includes Dorritos with its success at UGC, but I’d bet that the people who worked on this Kendall Jenner ad focus on nothing but Pepsi 24/7.

 

Drinking the Corporate Koolaid

The other major psychological barrier any in-house department faces is the internal Koolaid. To get anything improved you have to first get senior management to buy into the concept first. I’d make another bet that whatever the insights were that led to this naïve piece, they were heavily referenced with management repeatedly leading up to the development of the concept and, given the constraint of buying into the insight, the final concept was a foregone conclusion. Using an external agency means working with a group that is immersed in a deep soup of diverse new insights every day and they are constantly holding their ideas up to the filter of what is happening all around them.

 

Comfort vs. Healthy Self-Doubt

Agencies have one powerful motivator going for them: the door. It will hit them in the ass as they get directed out if their work isn’t hitting the mark, not so for an internal team. The Creators League are full-time Pepsi employees with stock options and pensions, protected in a way any real agency team is not. They may get very excited over the thrill of concocting and producing a big new TV spot, but the nagging discomfort that lives in the back of the minds of experienced agency folks is something I’m certain The Creators League was free of, as was demonstrated by a press release that went out when the spot aired that rings just a bit smug, supremely confident that they have it all figured out and have hit the nail on the head:

Pepsi Press Release: April 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ 

Throughout 2017, Pepsi® is celebrating life's "Live For Now" moments. Moments when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back. "Jump In," a short film that depicts these moments and stars Kendall Jenner, captures the spirit and actions of those people that jump in to every moment. It features multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive.

The "Jump In" Pepsi Moments film takes a more progressive approach to truly reflect today's generation and what living for now looks like. Kendall is the latest in an impactful line-up of global icons to work with Pepsi and she exemplifies owning "Live For Now" moments. 

The commercial features music from a voice of today's generation, the artist behind "Lions"- Skip Marley (Island Records). 

The creative, which will be seen globally across TV and digital, was produced by PepsiCo's in-house content creation arm, Creators League Studio. It showcases elements of the Pepsi disruptive design program that combines icons with expressive typography to capture the moments that ignite action. Moments iconography will be across packaging, out of home and in-store for the full Pepsi trademark of blue, black and silver offerings.

 

Swimming in a Sea of Nay-Sayers

I predict that we are going to see clients learning that truly strategically creative brains are rare and thrive only in an atmosphere free of corporate nay-sayers. I’ve worked with them for several decades, day in, day out, and I can attest to the fact that they need special handling if you want to get the most out of them. Even housed in separate, trendy, ‘creative’ spaces, if their salary depends upon them getting approval on their concepts from the same execs responsible for signing their paychecks, three things are going to happen:
  1. We’re going to see a bunch of really bad ideas being foisted upon us, just like this Pepsi ad.
  2. A lot of really great strategically creative people are going to quit working for these in-house ‘agencies’ (a misnomer, so ‘studio’ is indeed more appropriate) in frustration.
  3. The people who continue to work for them will prove to be tradespeople, not the deeply strategic and brilliantly creative artists that every brand needs to generate really breakthrough ideas. 
The reality is that the old agency model worked for many good reasons, but was killed off by Capitalism: the demand by shareholders who control gradually larger and larger, and therefore more influential, global marketers all demanding 10% growth per year. This happens, in part, through cutting costs by forcing all the profit, and therefore the high salaries the really genius people command, out of the agencies.

The downward cycle of cost cutting forced upon the agencies pushed those who really are strategic and creative geniuses out of the business. The clients then began complaining about the decline in creativity (not clear if they noticed the lack of strategic thinking…) that their cost-cutting efforts had precipitated. I find it sadly ironic that their solution is now to try to create their own agencies in-house, but what essential, fundamental element is missing from their new model?  See "Client Service" in the first point above.
•••
Kevin is an inventor. An inventor of concepts and breakthrough solutions. Want more of his insights and how they can help your marketing efforts? Book a conversation with him today. Some topics you might engage him about:
  1. “Bubbles Burst, Always” – The US economy is set to explode very soon, have you and your company prepared for the inevitable crash?
  2. “The Diversity that Cannot be Named” – A look back at the evolution of human behaviour and how we’re missing opportunities to work together more effectively and honestly.
  3. “The Death of the Ad Agency Model was Instigated in 1992, Giving Birth to What?” – A new MarCom Agency business model for your consideration.
  4. “It’s the Brand Experience, Stupid!” – Today’s focus on ‘one-on-one engagement’ was initiated in 1997 in “The Experience Economy” and it will eventually grab the biggest slice of the media pie, we just got distracted by ‘shiny and new’ for the past 20 years.
 Contact: Kevin.Lenard@Gmail.com

Monday, 13 February 2017

2017: The Year The Ad Agency Died

3 MIN. READ   

 

The ad agency business model has been on life support since the mid-90's when Procurement torpedoed it by forcing the media departments out. Profitability has been gradually bleeding out ever since due to the on-boarding of 'new capabilities' (increasing overhead) and ever more billing model changes (slashing profit further) foisted upon the industry by the demand for 10% annual growth by client shareholders.

 

Long live the lean and agile MarCom Agency Model: an eclectic squad of proven strategic/creative thinkers who outsource the varied capabilities needed for any given client project, incentivized by a commission 'bump' on for sales that exceed an agreed target.

 

The Marketing Industry is at a tipping point:
  1. Consumers have been demanding something that traditional marketers have been VERY reluctant to give them: a return to the kind of marketing that simply works best, a return to human nature. And our fellow humans have never stopped begging for this since day one.
  2. The strategic future of the Marketing Industry was laid out 20 years ago. It was exactly what consumers wanted, but most marketers have spent the intervening two decades distracted by 'shiny and new' instead of heeding the simple message...it's The Experience Economy, stupid! (Pine & Gilmore, 1997)
  3. The new Social Media (the first electronic 'social medium' was the home phone) have led to a breakthrough in what has always been marketing’s ‘holy grail’ — a shift in focus from ‘push’ efforts to ‘pull’ results. People love the latter....the former not so much.
  4. A ton of successful new business models emerged from 'push-pull disruption,' but not at the traditional ad agencies. Sadly they've just continued plodding and have grown into ever larger dinosaurs. (Like newspapers, they were built on a platform that has gone extinct and their business model of 'we do it all in-house' has led them to grow far too large to adapt to the new climate.)
  5. There has never been a more urgent need to bridge 'The Traditional Sales-Marketing Divide' in order to leverage the increase in efficiency and effectiveness that comes with better aligned Sales and Marketing efforts, but few CEOs have proven sufficiently visionary to mandate it. 
  6. P&G, arguably the marketer with the single most influence on ad agencies globally, has just announced that they will further 'squeeze' agency contracts in 2017 to eliminate any 'wiggle room' with regard to extracting revenue by 'cost-plus-ing' items under the table. Along with impetuous decisions at the top in the US that will likely spark the next Great Depression that the US credit bubbles are setting the world up for, this will very likely be the year that the first major global agency goes bankrupt. More will surely follow, likely preceded by media firms.
(What gets forgotten in the shareholder-driven push for 10% annual growth is that if any business cannot make really substantial profit, the best and brightest will not work in it, shifting their career choices to less 'regulated' sectors like, say, inventing the derivative market in financial services.)

Ad Age, in this May 2016 article, sort of spoke to what the new business model for marketing 'partners' might look like, but they didn't really spell it out, since it's tough to sink the boat when you're in it. Ad Age depends on a good will from their dinosaur agency clients and isn't about to eat crackers in bed, but the answer is in this article if you ignore most of what the dinosaur agency execs are saying.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
Source: Upton Sinclair from ‘I, Candidate for Governor and How I Got Licked,’ 1933

The new "MarCom Agency" business model is simple:

  1. Divest of ALL those in-house capabilities other than superb thinking (including data analysis), project management and human resource recruitment and outsource as required (including creative)
  2. Insist on a bonus for higher-than-expected sales (it was the agency's IP that drove the volume!)
  3. Remind the client that the smartest, most agile minds WILL NOT thrive inside a client office (a hypercritical environment by nature) AND that they need to be incentivized with high pay (higher hourly fees)
  4. Focus on superb brand experiences (one-on-one engagement) as the primary in-going strategy
  5. Bring media planning and placement BACK in-house (there's virtually no ATL anymore)
  6. Collaborate with clients -- but be a true 'one stop shop' to reduce their current time spent coordinating with a dozen different agencies for content, social, shopper, experiential, digital, media, promo, etc.
  7. Keep the teams lean and adaptable.  

Essentially: break up the old network model and create fluid, lean and adaptable teams who work on different brands as demand rises and falls.

•••

'The Future of Marketing Experience' is a 1 hour long interactive discussion designed for marketing decision-makers that I can do for you and your marketing and sales team, and even your agency!   While I was consulting with Brand Momentum I adapted my original content for their unique business model, but the message is relevant to the marketing industry as a whole and can be customized for your vertical.  Book a slot today to get a very different perspective on where marketing budgets need to shift next: KevinLenard@Gmail.com


Slide #7 from "The Future of Marketing Experience":

Friday, 6 January 2017

Why "Casual" Clothing (Not "Business Casual") is Hurting Your Performance at Work

What NOT to wear:
How exactly did "Business Casual" turn into "Anything Goes"?
The ‘New Normal’ is a deeply problematic aspect of human nature. It is our innate tendency, born of ego and tribalism, to quickly adapt culturally to whatever circumstance we find ourselves in AND feel genuinely ‘offended’ when anyone challenges our assumptions about what we believe to be our ‘new normal.’ However humans also have a bunch of other innate, instinctive, hard-wired reactions we cannot ‘wish away,’ like the reality that what we are dressed in actually effects our performance — studies prove that wearing a lab coat makes people more effective at work.

Attractive people get better jobs and higher salaries because our brains are hard-wired to want to have them around us (i.e. in our ‘tribe’ of fellow workers) because their appearance instinctively conveys superior health/genes/survival. Similarly we don’t want to be surrounded (trigger warning for Social Justice Warriors!) by people who do not convey superior health: those who are too thin or fat, look sick, act anti-socially, etc. As humans we have a vast array of inherent, uncontrollable reactions to other humans and what we see in casual dress in the office is not simply a ‘trend,’ but tribalism, the desire for everyone to dress in a similar fashion and a STRONG desire to dress like the most successful people out there, most of whom no longer wear suits.

I’m an old fart and wear a jacket and tie every day to an ad agency bereft of these ancient symbols of professionalism. Since I began doing so 4 months ago there has been a gradual shift in the office, with the senior guys beginning to wear suits without ties some days and the younger guys sporting the occasional jacket. We humans react to our tribal norms unconsciously, and seeing others wearing symbols of professionalism cause us to desire to step up and want to also look more professional. It’s not ‘stifling creativity,’ it’s a demonstration of a willingness to ‘represent’ that we recognize what we are being asked to do in this place we call an office is quite different from what is expected of us outside of the office.

Humans function on the basis of cultural ‘signals’ to each other, and formal dress is just such a signal, hence the reason that we feel very different walking into a formal wedding or gala ball than we do walking into a basement house party. Get a clue and emulate not those very rare entrepreneurs or rap stars, but the professional businessperson you wish to be.

Hey, don't listen to me!  Listen to this Shark Tank business mogul:

http://www.inc.com/barbara-corcoran/barbara-corcoran-2-things-that-matter-most-in-business.html?cid=rw0089

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

It's Tough To Sink The Boat When You're In It...2017 Could Be Traumatic For Agencies

8 MIN. READ  It's difficult to witness the tortured musings and machinations of my colleagues labouring within the now defunct ad agency business model. They pay their house, car and private school payments from the meager and ever diminishing proceeds from it, so how can they approach the issue of shooting the aged Triple Crown winning horse with the broken leg and decide upon the only humane solution with emotional detachment? They have to put it out of its misery, but doing so heralds the reality of financial hardship, uncertainty and change -- and there's nothing most humans hate more than change.  Sadly their salary depends upon them not understanding the solution.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
Upton Sinclair from ‘I, Candidate for Governor and How I Got Licked,’ 1933

Having read so many new articles on this topic recently, it feels mean spirited to point out that the ad agency model that industry insiders are discussing a repair for is not unlike the newspaper business model today. Both were born in a bygone age wherein the fundamentals were vastly different and they then lived in symbiosis for 200+ years, creation of advertising campaigns paying the salaries of the agencies' staff and the ad placements paying that of the newspapers. It's clear today to see that no matter what the newspapers attempt to do in terms of shifting to an online business model, most of them will go belly up because there is simply no longer any need to maintain several teams of journalists with slightly different political bents in every city of the world, printing news stories on paper and hand delivering them door to door. The newspaper biz is vastly overstaffed for today's swiftly evaporating demand. The 300+ year old daily newspaper business model is well and truly dead (The Daily Courant was first published in London on March 11, 1702).

My Year One in the ad agency business was 1986 (coincidentally the world's first agency, William Taylor, was formed in 1786) at McCann Erickson in Toronto. Profitability was in the low 20's% to 30+% range at 17.5% commission. We 'gave away' ideas that turned brands into global profit machines just for the pleasure of working in a creative business. We began doing the same with strategic thinking that put these brands on steroids through the 80's and 90's. For a decent salary and reasonable profit margin we were largely responsible for the concepts that our clients continue to make billions in profit from. We were tickled pink to help out and hand over our IP, never tying compensation to results for fear our steady, and healthy, salaries might be cut.

Procurement Broke the Model

Those same clients, especially as more and more went public and were merged and went global (under the steady pressure of the inane stock market demand for 10% minimum growth per year or we'll divest in your firm and go elsewhere), brought in Procurement and set about dismantling the 200 year old ad agency business model, gutting it swiftly in the mid 90's by surgically removing our media departments. The rest is history with regard to profitability (skim off the cream...).

With the end of profit came the exodus of the brilliant and aggressive 'young turks' who powered the best of what we did. The best and brightest no longer saw the agencies as lucrative enough and, having been weaned on 'Wall Street' and 'Gordon Gekko', stated their careers in finance and used their creativity to invent the derivatives market and high risk mortgages. We all know how THAT went -- and all those derivatives are still out there, waiting to be 'repackaged' and snuck back into the market.

Businesses, Even Agencies, Are Powered by Incentivization

What every client, from Brand Management to Procurement to the C-Suite need to recognize is that, just like their firm has to make a decent return to continue to be able to produce a quality product, so do the 'idea people' who generate strategically creative concepts to super-charge their marketing efforts. Without an incentive above and beyond a 'decent salary', the talented strategic and creative people will not be working at the agencies, they'll follow the money elsewhere. Well then clients should simply bring the agency people in house! Often what humans forget is that humans are complicated.

Every single effort to bring other humans who are by nature highly creative into the hierarchy of a client's office has demonstrated that these types of personalities die in captivity. It has never worked and never will, like trying to get a group of Finance Directors to generate a new Snap Chat gimmick, creative people are simply birds of different feathers and don't work well ensconced in a milieu that is steeped in minimizing risk by analyzing everything. The insides of a manufacturing firm, by its nature, is filled with people who are empowered to say no, while creatives need "YES! Try something new and risky and 'out there'!".

Now we have all of these "Grand Hotels" (to quote Eoghan Nolan, his article on this topic linked here), these "dinosaurs", fat with 'new capability' departments that are underutilized, yet need to be paid for. Yes, some clients still like the notion of having all those capabilities under one roof, but the reality is that this business model is flawed. If asked how to strategically design a business model to provide MarCom services given today's modern reality, no one would design a 'department store model' wherein the highest spending shoppers only use ALL of the departments occasionally, leaving the full-time employees in many of these departments to do 'busy work' in return for a weekly salary.

The Problem Cannot be Fixed From the Inside

So if the business model is fundamentally broken, inappropriately designed for this day and age, the solution cannot lie in the dinosaurs getting together to negotiate how to eat less of the plant foliage that the climate is gradually reducing the quantity and quality of. The dinosaurs, faced with a changing climate, were too big to survive in the new environment. Only the small, lean and adaptable survived, and in our human environment, I'd add that only the wise, experienced, clever and creative will survive, based upon a model that is best suited to today's climate.

"Flavour of the Moment" Marketing

There is no such thing as "Fill In The Blank Marketing." There never was. The past 20 years have seen an extended Snake Oil Hustle, constantly moving the goal posts to keep the clients frantically running down the playing field with bags of money that Procurement (and each clients' shareholders) have been cutting larger and larger drainage holes in, steadily decreasing the formerly bloated TV-based budgets that were never rooted in demonstrable ROI in the first place (why do Superbowl ads REALLY cost what they do?).

All we witnessed for the past two decades were evolving tactics, not any fundamental change to how marketing is accomplished. We've seen new agencies pop up constantly who claim to specialize in:
  • "Experiential Marketing" (enhanced product demos/sampling),
  • "Digital Marketing" (ads placed on websites),
  • "Virtual Marketing" (product placement in virtual games/experiences like the long-forgotten 'Second Life'),
  • "Location-Based Marketing" (coupons delivered via GPS location),
  • "Mobile Marketing" (ads on smartphones),
  • "Social Marketing" (contests promoted on Internet-based communication software),
  • "Big Data Analysis Marketing" (consumer research data in much bigger data bases on ever more behavioural actions),
  • Now we have "Content Marketing" (enhanced public relations via Internet-based communication software).
Makes me shake my head in amazement thinking back to all the hyperbole we've all had to wade through since the mid 90's. All of the above examples of "Fill in the Blank Marketing" have been proven to simply be new tactics unworthy of their initial breathlessly enthusiastic hype.

It's ALL 'Content Marketing'

Yet ALL marketing communication has always been "Content Marketing" -- the difference was that the content of the past wasn't all that relevant, valued, authentic, one-on-one or custom-tailored. Once we moved away from benefit-based communication to emotional and insight-based content after McCann Erickson's "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" spot in 1971, the content became highly vulnerable to shrugs of indifference. Some folks got the joke or insight others didn't, yet we only produced one ad and ran it endlessly to everyone. What the new consumer-demanded, Internet-empowered shift from 'push efforts' to 'pull efforts' has led to is merely a move from an above-the-line media-weighted focus, to a PR, one-on-one, experiential strategic platform. The latter is what consumers actually wanted all along, versus what marketers want them to want.

The Solution

The ad agency business model solution today is to become as entrepreneurial and 'start up' in nature as all of the new departments or divisions that the clients are developing (in-house content creation, VC-like innovation labs, etc.). Agencies have to push back on clients to be paid a decent, profitable compensation (certainly more than is currently the norm, which P&G's Pritchard has acknowledged, but done little to address it, saying, bizarrely: "...the focus of his talk (was) on 'Raising the Creative Bar.' But he said it's time to lower pressure on agencies – which has included P&G cutting its agency and production fees the past two years by $570 million to $1.4 billion."

Um....cutting the agencies' spend by ANOTHER 25% somehow helps them feel less pressure?). The agencies have to ensure that they're managed by wise, mature, hands-on 'sages' who know what mistakes not to make and who can get the job done in a fraction of the time that it takes the underpaid recent grads who staff most of the agencies today. And this new agency business model will need to make do with a skeleton staff, zero in-house capabilities (outside of strategy, data analysis, project management and great HR), and a ton of eager freelance suppliers to be brought in for a gig as needed. They also need to bring media planning and buying back in house -- the new media mix has killed the old media firms and they must die along with the other dinosaurs. But most importantly...

Why Bother? 

Because the 'big ideas' that the agencies generate are the IP that makes the clients the really big bucks. This fact is born out by all the start-ups created and run by smart, creative people of every age today (meaning there are still a lot of old farts in successful agencies). When the concept leads to incremental sales volume, the agency earns a decent commission. A few points on a billion dollars isn't chump change -- it's worth working for nothing more than a decent salary on a day-to-day basis if once in a while you get a big cheque!

This is the single biggest issue that no client really wants to acknowledge and have been sweeping aside forever -- the MarCom campaigns are what create brands and global success, not R&D, great flavours, distribution, brand management, pricing, packaging, shelf presence, merchandising, etc. Yes all of that is essential, but at the end of the day, it's the magic of the marketing communication and insights that drive the big wins, and the creators of the MarCom have always been paid peanuts and never reap the breakout rewards that their strategic-creative ideation brought to the party. If their client-approved efforts fall flat, okay, they only get their salaries, but if the brand does better than similar efforts have empowered before....

The Really Terrible News...

None of this is good news, however, for the five global holding companies that own all the dinosaurs. When the next global crash hits (and it cannot NOT hit as the US is in perilous financial shape and is about to ignite a people's revolution with the toxic tax cuts for the rich that Trump and his team of Pence-led deplorables are about to enact, the net effect of which will be to bankrupt the American government -- lower taxes = lower revenue to pay back an already mindboggling debt load carried both by the government and households and the ensuing negligible global confidence in the US dollar), I would not want to be holding a lot of stock in those five holding companies.

The ensuing bankruptcies of thousands of global agency offices is going to flood the market with desperate, experienced agency people with nowhere to take their skills other than back into the market, forming tens of thousands of new, lean, agile and adaptable agencies with no in-house capabilities and a willingness to work for nothing more than a bare minimum salary and commission on incremental sales (if that).  The revolution is coming whether we start it now, willingly, or not. End of rant. ;-) #BigIdeas2017

• • •
The Future of Marketing Experience
I have a 60 minute interactive discussion to share with you and your team that many Canadian industry execs have had their minds opened by.  I adapted my original material to Brand Momentum's unique business model while I was consulting with them, but the content is relevant to the marketing industry as a whole and the presentation can be customized for any vertical.



Contact me to book an hour for The Future of Marketing Experience (presentation takes about 30 mins plus another 30 mins of discussion). KevinLenard@Gmail.com

Slide #7 from The Future of Marketing Experience:


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Looking Back at Predictions for 2016 -- Certainly 'Big Data' Has Gotten Far Too Much Attention!

In looking back on Kimberly A. Whitler's Forbes article from November of 2015 titled "CEOs, CMOs, And Executive Recruiters Make Predictions For Marketing Leaders in 2016" I commented:

Interesting list. Lots of crossover with out much ‘distilling’ of what the key points/themes and insights might be. I agree with most, a couple that I cannot. An ‘Executive Summary’ in just four points:

Big Data’ Analysis & Leveraging

Has to be faster, more relevant to specific brand issues, implemented on a target by target basis in ways that are meaningful to them. (Just because something is relatively new, like the accessibility of ‘big data’ recently, does not make it scary or ‘THE LATEST NEW THING’ for business people to freak out about, any more that ‘social’ deserved this type of attention for the past decade.) Due to SEO the industry now has the capability to generate relevant mathematical algorithms to effectively extract actionable insights from the newly available data. The current hyperventilating in the marketing industry’s media has to be taken down several notches.

CMO as Manager of Change, Transparency & Conversation

This has always has been the case as CMOs are closer to the day-to-day, ever-evolving lives of the consumer than any other department is, but CEOs need to empower the CMO (or CSO, Chief Strategy Officer) to take on this role as the leader within the C-Suite since only through the mandate

Thursday, 17 December 2015

2016: The Year The "Social Marketing" Bubble Finally Burst


Between Xmas and New Years of 2006-2007  I stood in a small village's market square in central Guatemala watching the real deal:  a guy standing on a soap box in the midst of a crowd of indigenous people holding up a small bottle of oil, extolling it's magical healing powers (and swallowing some to demonstrate how easily it went down).


Watching him and the enthralled crowd as he worked them up to the point that they started digging in their distinctly striped pants pockets for change, I felt nothing but admiration for a vanishing skill (outside of the Shopping Channel).  I had the privilege of witnessing one of the last of the Snake Oil salesmen plying his craft.


Here before me was a real marketer (in an actual market, no less!) who, like the last of the Carney Barkers, could stand up in front of a crowd, 'balls to the wall,' and shamelessly bilk them of their money for something that had no value in terms of what his claims were (outside likely being an excellent enema agent if injected into the actual origin of his bovine excreta...).   Well, not entirely true....the 'medicinal value' he was providing was in bringing hope and entertainment into the lives of remote mountain villagers devoid of much in the way of theatrics.  But upon getting back to Canada a week later, I realized I was mistaken:

Snake Oil Salespeople are very much alive and well in our industry!

My career as a consultant working out how to leverage Marketing Disruption to shift the efforts of national advertisers from 'product marketing' to 'experience marketing' began right then.  (A keynote I created shortly thereafter on 'Shopper Marketing' has been presented to thousands of marketers across North America by Jason Dubroy, turning him into a 'Shopper Marketing Czar'!)

I saw where the media dollars SHOULD be going -- into an effective, but infrequently invested-in medium with astounding ROI  (be forewarned, the 'CPM' will get you thrown out of the CFO's office) -- and I wrote my first keynote on the subject of Conquering Marketing Disruption.   The focus, unsurprisingly, dear reader, was to steer marketers away from the distraction of seductive, but inappropriate media for 'push marketing,' to a much more strategically sound, mixed-media strategy that would see them winning, not losing, the profitable ROI game in this red haze of technological advancement we're living through.   

You've been had, Marketers.  Seriously abused.   Bamboozled.

If you control the marketing budget for a major brand, well, now you have to decide on either the humiliation of the facts coming out at trial, or just keeping quiet about it.  ;-)

Use it or lose it.

The marketing industry was facing a major problem in the mid-2000's that 'got taken care of,' at least temporarily.  Their huge media ATL (that's 'above the line' for the Millennials, meaning:  TV, Radio, Print and Outdoor, versus promotional, PR/CRM, or sales-related efforts) budgets were hemorrhaging into digital (where there was little effectively targeted inventory to buy) and brand managers around the world were dealing with 'use it or lose it' -- spend  up to your previous 'Super Bowl levels,' or see the budgets cut drastically.  Agencies, on both sides of the now divorced (due to the advent of the "Procurement Department" and hence only marginally profitable, also exacerbated by the advent of the dreaded RFP -- see: "Procurement Department" immediately above) creative and media divisions, were being further fractured as they had to cut staff who, with nowhere else to go, started up thousands of new boutique agencies and offered "Will Work For Food."

With the realization that ATL advertising had never actually had any demonstrable ROI and believing that all this new digital stuff apparently was soon going to have SIGNIFICANT, PROVABLE ROI (but wasn't quite fully baked at that moment...), the burning question for marketers was:

Where can we spend all this money we used devote to TV ad placements?!?

Well.  There are many clever, creative people in the ad world.  In the mid to late 2000's some of them were mature and hungry, some were young and hungry, but they all had to make a buck and there were suddenly less bucks to be had beating the dying horse of 'push' advertising on ATL media (unless you still had a job working on the 'too-big-to-change-80-years-of-status-quo' clients at the dinosaur agencies).

There was something new, confusing and mysterious out there, however, and unlike trying to master how digital media is placed, tracked and evaluated, these new 'social media' were pretty easy to figure out how to mess around with.  'Social media optimization' (SMO, akin to it's sister, SEO) soon got a much sexier name: "Social Marketing," and the gold rush was ON!  Virtually overnight "Social Marketing Experts" and agencies materialized by the hundreds ready to capitalize on 'pushing' ads into a space normally reserved for friends and relatives.

I don't blame the marketing masses for jumping on the first exciting new band wagon to pull into town.  The Snake Oil Salespeople were offering to make sense of a confusing barrage of emerging new media and take the pressure off brand management (and many of them are my friends and colleagues, so I'm jousting with no ill will, per se...).  One of the adages of Jon Jerde, the architect of the world's most stunning shopping plazas, made perfect sense:

"People go where people are." 

...and now they're all on social media!

So if lots of people were suddenly spending a lot of time on these new 'social media,' then marketers should be there to interact with them!  The fundamental strategic flaw in this inclination was that all social media are essentially the same as the telephone, and the last time we tried marketing on that medium it turned out to be rather poorly received.  ;-)  Don't get me wrong, telemarketing works for

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Employee 'Disengagement' (Tweeting, FB, gaming, etc.) Costs $500 bn/yr.

Please go to this link for the full article by the authors at Officevibe.

















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