Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The One Piece Of Advice You Can't Generate Leads Without

Brian Carroll recently contributed to RainToday's latest e-publication - "The One Piece Of Advice You Can't Generate Leads Without". This is a series of articles from various thought leaders in the B2B marketing industry based around the question "What is the one piece of advice you simply can't generate leads without". While I have downloaded it I haven't had much of a chance to read through it. Given the type of doc this is a quiet lunchtime read is in order.

You can download "The One Piece Of Advice You Can't Generate Leads Without" from the RainToday website.

Blame the Customers

Oil companies don't have the greatest reputation amongst consumers. With global warming on the agenda most oil companies are trying to clean up their image and remake themselves as friendly companies. But sometimes they just can't help themselves.

At present there is an inquiry being held by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into alleged anti-competitive and anti-consumer behaviour amongst the oil companies who own petrol stations here in Australia.

One thing the ACCC is interested in is the large swings that take place in the price of petrol on a weekly basis, with the price rising and falling over 10% at times. This doesn't happen overseas (as my experience in London proved - often the price would move no more than 1-2p in two weeks at most.

So what does the Managing Director of Caltex Australia(part of Texaco) say? These changes are in the consumer psyche. That is, consumers expect the changes, thus the oil companies deliver them. In other words, it is the consumers who are to blame, not the suppliers!

As Keanu has said on many an occasion, woah!

Isn't blaming your customers the last thing you want to do, at least publicly? I know that every organisation has problem clients and we complain internally about them but to publicly come out and complain shows little respect for Caltex's customers. It is as if the price fluctuations are a problem for Caltex. If this is the case why not educate customers to expect steady prices throughout the week. Wouldn't that be better than simply pointing the finger? Caltex marketing, are you listening?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Looking for new stuff to make marketing better

I love new technology, especially when it makes my life easier. I also like it when it makes marketing better. Easier is OK, but better is, well, better. I think that is part of the problem with email marketing today: the sending of a marketing email to 10,000 people on your database is too easy. As a result not enough thought is put into marketing emails at times. Seth Godin recently commented on something similar with regards to the effort put into marketing campaigns which are inexpensive.

People don't make the effort of making sure they are spot on with their cheap campaigns as they would with more expensive campaigns. But why, Seth asks, should there be any difference in the quality of campaigns?

The modern marketer is spoiled in the ways we can reach our audience and this can make us very lazy. The trick is use what we have in a smart way, not recklessly or thoughtlessly.

With the above in mind, I want to look at new technologies, ideas, etc that help to make marketing better. Some of them might make marketing easier, and that's great, but I want to look at stuff that makes things better, that helps to work smarter as marketers, and thus helps us to do our job better. This could be a new technology a start-up is developing or some new insight from academia.

So if you know of any new ideas or solutions that should be covered as part of the discussion, drop me a line at

Note: that I am trying not to fall into the trap that many do with regards to things like CRM software. CRM Software is an enabler to better customer relationships, but you need the systems, people and attitudes in place to make it successful.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Who is responsible for the lies

As marketers we have an interesting ethical tight rope to walk each and every day. On one hand we must present our employer's/client's products in the best light, focusing on the most beneficial positives. On the other hand we do have a responsibility to those which read/hear/see our marketing that what we say is honest.

But what happens when lies creep in?

Now, I am not talking about where we round up some numbers, etc. I am talking about a situation where we present information which we know is incorrect or at the very least is likely to be incorrect. Where does the buck stop?

I raise this point because at present we have a very interesting situation in Australia. The federal government and leading business groups are concerned that at the next federal election - which is due to take place in the coming months - the opposition will get in. And much of the support for the opposition party is coming as a result of industrial relations laws which the government created last year.

The opposition has, of course, said that they would repeal some of the legislation. So a marketing campaign based on an economic report, requested by the business groups and government, has been released stating what a terrible thing it would be if the opposition were allowed to have their way: lost jobs, out of control inflation, terrible things for the average punter.

But apparently, if you actually take a look at the report some of the numbers are a bit rubbery and don't take into account a number of things. The conclusions are apparently at best a guide. If you were a betting man, you would probably not put money down based on what the report says is the likely outcome. Yet there are obviously marketing people who have put together a series of crisp ads throwing around the conclusions from this report like they are facts. The average Australian whose experience of economics is what they learnt in high school is none the wiser. Someone involved in the campaign has got to have realised that what they are marketing is lies or at best answers to an entirely different question to the one they are putting at the top of their ads. But is anyone involved willing to take responsibility for this campaign and fix the problem?

Now I am using the above campaign as an example, but there are probably plenty of other examples if you take a look around you.

We should all take responsibility

It has only been in recent years that marketing has earned it stripes as a bona fide profession. This is partly because a credibility has developed around marketers. We are not shady people selling magic potions off the back of a truck, constantly moving from one town to the next.

We are, in general, professionals who well understand the various aspects of the businesses we are involved in, tapping into the financial, technical and customer sides of the business. We can be powerful people. But with power comes responsibility, which some of us forget at times.

We need to chastise those marketers who would give our profession a bad name and drag it back down with snake oil salespeople. But that means we all have a part to play. Let it be known that those who are unscrupulous are not part of our profession. Let us loudly voice our criticism of marketing campaigns which have dubious claims. We have worked too hard to let marketing return to the dark ages.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Pushing the envelope

I recently moved house and as such had to sign up with a new energy supplier. The one that was best suited to me was a new supplier I had never heard of.

Now the first piece of marketing I see from them is the letter that arrives in the mail a few days later. The envelope has in big letters:

We're excited about gas and electricity.
Even if you're not.

This is kind of a weird statement, I believe, when you are introducing yourself to a new customer. OK, great, they're passionate about what they do. I'll give them credit for that. But why mention anything about whether I am excited or not. That's not important. Are they belittling me?

Again, I think I can see what they are getting at. They know that I might not be excited but they are not saying that's OK. It is irrelevant and something they shouldn't say to a new customer who has never used your services before.

I don't know if they bothered testing this before they started using the line. Did they test it on new customers as well as existing customers? I would guess that this envelope is just their standard envelope and that the company doesn't have a different one for sending info to new customers. But I think something a little more 'warm and fuzzy' might be appropriate.

They are showing passion but it isn't quite working.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Branding: Are we being conned by capitalism?

Ross Gittins, the Sydney Morning Herald's Economics Editor normally writes about economic policies, etc but in yesterday's paper he wrote a piece - Why we put tickets on ourselves - that young people today "don't consider they're giving the brand free advertising" when wearing clothing and accessories which are heavily branded. He says that they are not interested in "what they're doing for the brand, it's what the brand's doing for them."

His conclusion to the piece is that "you have to be pretty shallow to imagine your identity and personality is something you can buy, wear or drive. A victim of materialism, in fact."

"And if such delusions prompt you to run up huge credit card debts or work long hours in a job you don't like while neglecting your family, you've been conned by capitalism," he says.

It certainly is food for thought for us marketers. While you may not agree with everything that Ross Gittins says in this piece I think it is worthwhile taking a step back from our roles, especially in B2C and look at whether we are being socially responsible. Are we acting in the best interests of society.

It is very easy to get caught up in what we do, in our KPIs, bonuses, in the success or otherwise of our businesses that we sometimes forget about the impact our marketing and products have on the end users, whether it be good or bad.

Obviously this is part of a much broader social debate around marketing which we might discuss further in the future.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Digital outlook 2007

I came across an interesting report via Robert Kawasaki's blog - "How to change the world".

How do we as producers, marketers, and advertisers interact with consumers in the 'brave, new world' that we see evolving online?

No one has the whole answer and I don't think there is a complete answer to be had as things continue to move and change so quickly. There are Youtubes and Myspaces being created every day. Some will grow to be one of the next big things and some will create seismic shifts in how we interact digitally. But this report certainly looks to provide a very useful guide for the here and now.

Avenue A. Razorfish: 2007 Digital Outlook Report