You Had Me at “Marketing Trends”

The headline called out to me:

The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014

As I eagerly consumed the short summary of the article to find out what the almighty Forbes has deemed important for the coming year, I hesitated with anticipation and excitement, holding on to the moment as if climbing click by click to the top of the roller coaster, building the suspense to the soaring thrill I was about to find, I then clicked.

I scanned quickly, as consumers do, searching through the perfectly coded header tags with the titled numbers to find what I was looking for.

Where was it? Had I missed it?

I scanned again, only to be disappointed that they tricked me, they were going to make me work for my fulfillment.

Damn you Forbes, you know what I want…

…yet you hold out on me, mocking me. We both know I need it. You, after all, were the ones who got me hooked in the first place.

Years ago you showed me a glimpse, told me it would be fine, it would be right, and it would be the next big thing.

You sold me on it. You got me all hyped up about it, you PROMISED, and then it failed. It never delivered.

Next year, you said, wait for it. It’s coming …. so here we are, several years later, on the precipice of 2014, and your list is out. Where is it?

Will it be on page 2? Will it?

My hand started trembling as I hovered over the link to page 2, you evil genius, pushing me further into the depths of desire and cravings.

You made me this way Forbes!

But as if to ease my jonesing, you kept it right there, calming me in an instant with your #5

… yes, 2014 and mobile. Ahhhhhh, relief.

2014 would be the year of mobile. This time for real … with content.

read the full blog post from Forbes here

 

Posted in Content Marketing, Customer Behavior, Email Marketing, marketing strategy, Marketing Technology, Mobile Marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Targeted with Facebook Ads

bad facebook ad targeting

What does Facebook Advertising tell you?

I’m here on Facebook this evening because … because that’s what I do to relax, get ideas, spy on people, and keep from eating ice cream indiscriminately. Most of the time I completely ignore the ads, but when I’m waiting out the time to go to bed (so I don’t look like a wuss going to bed super early, but don’t get involved in anything to let the second wind kick in), I let my eye wander over the ads and stop on their way to checking out who’s online right now.

I’m reminded I’m not too worried about Big Data, or folks digging through and making appropriate connections of all the information they collect and secretly legally or illegally sort through.

What Facebook Thinks I Need Today

Tonight’s stunning combo of ads, supposedly targeted to me by marketers who think they know what they’re doing and submitting ads to Facebook’s demographic-based algorithm, programmed by nerds who likely rarely, if ever, interact with any human being or understand critical thinking and actual analysis of human behavior, was particularly amusing in the story it told through the series of ads.

Uh, excuse me Mr. Zuckerberg, your programmers are dorks.

… and I don’t mean that in the kind, supportive way in that they are cool nerds who follow Dr. Who. I mean, get your team together and hire someone who can teach them what real live human beings are.

The first one was ominous, Facing cancer with you, it said. Oh, how friendly and supportive, once you get past the terrifying notion that while hanging out on Facebook someone, somewhere decided it might be a nice idea to raise the scare of the big C when you don’t have it. Do they know something I don’t know? Am I at an age and demographic profile when damn, this chick should have abnormal cells growing with abandon in her system. And the picture has these 12 faces of supposed specialists staring you down, as if to say, we know something you don’t know. Damn, that wasn’t a nice way to spend the moment. How’s about we just X that one out, and for giggles, lets say it was offensive in our reason. Yeah, that’ll show them.

But right under it were shopping ads. Hey, why not, if you’re in denial, go buy something, get something pretty for yourself, and of course, let’s not forget the shoes. We know you like shoes, and they’re always distracting. Summer shoes, too. They remind of of the beach, which brings me back to summer, which brings me to sun, which brings me back to thinking about those cancer docs staring at me sternly. Ok, we’ll X out the shoe ad, too.  Oh, look, the next one is a face cream, to help get rid of all the damage I’ve already done, and since I’m CLEARLY not dealing with what Facebook thinks is obviously a massive melanoma somewhere hidden because I’ve been so careless over the course of my life, I might as well just take a baby step and buy a good repairing moisturizer.

If I continue on, it sends me over to ancestry.com. Probably to make me look at death certificates that they’ve already combed of my relatives, and are just waiting to point out that they’ve all died of cancer of some sort probably, despite there being more than a couple who lived to ungodly ages as if in defiance of their personalities that would have stacked the odds against of them ever becoming parents at all.

The whole column of ads really should have ended with a picture of Grumpy Cat. That would have been appropriate!

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What is Marketing?

What is Marketing?

I get asked that a lot, and being this close to it, it becomes difficult to explain. Each time I’m asked and about to answer I am reminded of my mean nerdy high school chemistry teacher who always responded (and snorted at the same time), “Well, what ISN’T chemistry?” I remember rolling my eyes and resisting the urge to get suspended for an outburst at disgust and frustration with the woman, so I try never to utter such an annoying line when someone asks ME what my life’s work is all about. (No, I’m not going soft, she really WAS a mean nerd and it doesn’t put us on similar footing!)

Continue reading

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Big Data’s Weakest Link

When Big Data Backfires: Garbage in, Garbage out

This is the year of big data, right?

Not unlike the use of “aspirational” imagery in fashion magazines making us feel less than, so goes the blubbering on about how big data is changing the world and if you’re not on the bandwagon you’re probably too far behind to ever catch up.

They tell us the story of Target and how they knew a young customer was pregnant before she even did. They tell us the story of how the ultimate big box retailer moves inventory from store to store daily to meet demands of different markets.

Some is real, some is not, just like the Photoshopped models in the fashion magazines. The real ones are unhealthy, the faked ones are pretending to play catch up in a race that doesn’t exist.

Know thy audience, and think. Count with me, how many times have I said this? How many more will I have to? How many more JC Penney fiascoes where they took data and thought they had a good way to use it, only to trash the brand beyond recognition?

A typo thwarted tracking in a government system. A slight lapse in communication and sharing of data didn’t connect the dots. Get data wrong and people get hurt. Get data right and people get hurt.

Data is a tool to help towards understanding. If you don’t have the team to think you shouldn’t use it, because it will backfire.

Think of data as a big gun. It can protect you. It can save you. But it can misfire. And the recoil can sting.

Posted in Content Marketing, Customer Behavior, Email Marketing, General Business Strategy, marketing strategy, Marketing Technology, The Current Economic Shopper | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Being a Marketer

No nursery rhyme today.

Today’s “lesson” will be more direct.

  • No image to promote sharing or to grab your attention.
  • No keywords or tags to catch you in search.
  • Barely a category assignment in the blog (and that’s because I just can’t bring myself to leave something loose, outside of a bucket).

It’s a strange week. Busy, happy, sad, demoralizing, confusing … the world around us sometimes makes us want to become workaholics, but then a call comes and interrupts the moment.

For me the call came from a former colleague, one who chose to stay in the agency world working side by side with marketers. Me, I had chosen to go back to client-side. I have my explanation as to why that sounds nice and happy, but underneath it I realize it’s because I was really starting to dislike marketers.

I’m a marketer.

It’s what I do, it’s who I am. My former colleague is a marketer. It’s what he does, it’s who he is. I will always take calls from him because we have lived through a lot, and still don’t think for a split second that we know what we’re doing … it’s always about learning. The conversations, brainstorming, problem solving discussions our calls bring are refreshing and thrilling, and remind me why I love this profession, this calling so. It’s a distraction from reading the crap that other “marketers” dump out there daily. (I’ve all but given up on Twitter because I too often find myself saying I hate marketers.)

It’s why I do the Nursery Rhymes for Marketers. I want to remind people why they do this, what they do when they market, and what goes into it, or rather, what SHOULD go into it. Too often it doesn’t. Too often it’s a fall back with people who try to coast through and push responsibilities for research on to other departments within agencies, or on to automated results, or following templates for repeatable programs as if people, consumers, audiences don’t change.

So as an intermission to the Nursery Rhymes I give you the master of them all, a few select quotes from David Olgilvy, who after all these years, still remains the final word in what we, as marketers, should strive for,  who we should be, what we represent. He’s never been about following 7 steps, or 3 ways to get rich.

Sit back, enjoy, and for the love of all that you give a crap about … learn.

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.     ~David Ogilvy

Once upon a time I was riding on the top of a First Avenue bus, when I heard a mythical housewife say to another, “Molly, my dear, I would have bought that new brand of toilet soap if only they hadn’t set the body copy in ten point Garamond.” Don’t you believe it. What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.     ~David Ogilvy

Readers travel so fast they don’t stop to decipher the meaning of obscure headlines.     ~David Ogilvy

Set exorbitant standards, and give your people hell when they don’t live up to them. There is nothing so demoralizing as a boss who tolerates second rate work.    ~David Ogilvy

Supposing you’ve got an acute appendicitis. You’ve got to be operated on tonight. Would you like to have a surgeon who’s read some books of anatomy and knows how to do that operation — or would you prefer to have a surgeon who refused to read all books about anatomy and relied on his own instinct? ~David Ogilvy

The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.    ~David Ogilvy

The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.     ~David Ogilvy

We exist to build the business of our clients. The recommendations we make to them should be the recommendations we would make if we owned their companies, without regard to our own short-term interest. This earns their respect, which is the greatest asset we can have.     ~David Ogilvy

And one final word from me … stop letting your creative directors lead strategy. Creative Directors are awesome, talented artists.  I say this with awe, respect, and a tinge of jealousy … by the nature of a creative, they are not the best to determine the mindset and thought processes of any group of people, aka an audience. Their thinking is just plain different, off the rails, outside the lines. Again, I say this with respect and jealousy. Let them be who they are as their minds soar and talent flow. Don’t “make” them do the strategy. It’s a conflict of interest. Let the strategy inspire them.

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Deadlines and Inspiration

deadlines as inspirationHark! Hark! The marketer barked,
The catalog drops in a week.
The copy’s in shambles
The cover’s a gamble
But without it we’ll be up a creek.

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Nursery Rhymes remind us of a time in our life when stories taught us basic lessons and helped us learn more conceptual ideas. Unlike the Victorian Cautionary Tales, Nursery Rhymes didn’t scare us, they guided us in nurturing ways to listen, learn and absorb. They were our first exposure to content marketing, using stories to teach, without pressure.Sometimes we need to remember the basics, and smile as we do so.
Posted in Content Marketing, General Business Strategy, marketing strategy, Marketing Technology, Nursery Rhymes for Marketers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Penney for your thoughts?

JC Penney CEO ClearanceWell it’s about time.

This is why people lose faith in leadership and corporate America. Sure, there’s no question there are smart people in those offices who have friends and advisers to enable them to skip out on paying taxes or even protecting their employees. No one doubts that, hell, we all suffer from them having that. But the type of leadership that is on display at some of the largest corporations in this country is the very reason THAT type of businessman was not elected the leader of the country. (Ok, that and a few other reasons.)

Ron Johnson was never qualified to lead JC Penney. The world knew that. The employees knew that. Their customers knew that. Only the egos of leadership didn’t know it. And then when they did, they made excuses, laid blame, and tried to cover it up.

(Don’t even get me started on the division they pretended to ignite over Ellen DeGeneres being the spokesperson. That was a divisive diversion that was never legitimate. If she were not fully accepted by the very public she was promoting to she would not be nearly as successful as she is. HER brand is authentic, what JC Penney set her up for was not. They should be branded for the bigotry they pretended existed to deliberately use perceived hatred and discrimination to cover their own faults.)

JC Penney was one of THE most beloved and respected brands by it’s customers in the history of brands. Surprisingly it consistently made it to the top of favorites lists and of success lists.

So what the hell, let’s change all that in one fell swoop.

That idea never should have made it out of the drawing room, and neither should it’s then architects of the plans. But they did. And were paid handsomely for it.

It’s sad, really. But a heartwarming sign that at the mention of the departure their star began to rise again. No more will they push the wrong products down their customers’ throats. No longer will they retrain their customers how to shop the right way. No longer will the Apple-approach work in the mid-market.

I’ve gone over this again and again, there is a reason Apple has a huge success rate, and it’s due entirely to the egos of their customers matching the ego of the corporation they lay down their sacrifices for. JC Penney is not Apple, and their customers are not the hypnotoid, shiny-object craving followers.

JC Penney’s customers are the dream of any marketer. They are honest, authentic, predictable, loyal, and full of integrity. They are the soul of what our country stands for.

Ron Johnson is the opposite of that. Whoever allowed him to stay as long as he did should be forced out. Those who questioned him should be brought back.

It is the first rule of marketing, it is the first rule of business, it is the first rule of anything you ever do, be it writing or singing, schooling or sport.

Know. Thy. Audience.

Posted in Baby Boomers, Customer Behavior, General Business Strategy, marketing strategy, The Current Economic Shopper | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rock-a-Bye Facebook

Facebook is making more changes again.
Rock a Bye FacebookWhen the feeds change,
you’ll be posting in vain.
When your updates don’t show,
you’ll be sh!t-out-of-luck
And you’ll have to decide
to cough up a buck.

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Nursery Rhymes remind us of a time in our life when stories taught us basic lessons and helped us learn more conceptual ideas. Unlike the Victorian Cautionary Tales, Nursery Rhymes didn’t scare us, they guided us in nurturing ways to listen, learn and absorb. They were our first exposure to content marketing, using stories to teach, without pressure.Sometimes we need to remember the basics, and smile as we do so.
Posted in General Business Strategy, marketing strategy, Marketing Technology, Nursery Rhymes for Marketers, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment