Posts Tagged ‘marketing

16
May
10

Crowd Sourcing, Marketing and Music Ticket Sales – Posse.com might just work

I’m not a big fan of crowdsourcing in marketing. You might have guessed that from my coverage of the CGU Rap crowd sourcing campaign. The reason is that it’s often so poorly executed… it so often comes off as companies either (A) being lazy or (B) trying to do something that they’ve heard is hip / ‘the new thing’ without understanding the concept properly (crowd sourcing was probably one of THE marketing buzz words for 2009). There are exceptions, but they are few and far between (I liked the Smiths Chips ‘Do Us a Flavour” campaign. Although the flavours are no longer available in shops, that campaign was a provided customers a new reason for people to go out and buy not just one bags of Smiths Crisps, but 2 or 3 or 4 to sample the new flavours that Smiths had crowdsourced). 

Blaise Agüera y Arcas shows off Bing Maps and several crowdsourced features.

I need to clarify that I’m not anti-crowdsourcing in general – it is awesome for things like what Bing Maps are doing (see video above) where, for example, people are able to layer PhotoSynths of their favourite places over Bing Maps. Further, Bing is also able to pull geo-tagged images down from Flickr and stitch them together, meaning that a lot of the time, a human user doesn’t need to even create the PhotoSynth – it is automatically made by pulling down the millions of images on Twitter. See, crowd sourcing can be awesome. 

 But I digress… Posse.com is an awesome new(ish) business aiming to crowdsource sales of music tickets to fans. It mimics the role of bands’ street teams, whilst acting as a ticket selling intermediary. And I really like the idea. 

In a nutshell, the site allows users to earn a small commission upon directing a friend to buy a ticket to see a band… the people who refer buyers (called “Posse Agents”) are given a unique referral code which tracks how many people have been referred by that Agent, and the Agents are then paid the corresponding amount based on how many ticket sales they accrued. Agents may also receive certain other perks such as free CDs, VIP access to shows they sell tickets for etc. Whilst for the average user, the small amount received for referring their friends might not be worth it, you can imagine that this provides a very interesting, exciting new way for music blogs and industry influencers to earn some solid cash. This is potentially very attractive for those Influencers who are active in some of the more ‘niche’, underground genres, where they reach a large percentage of the fan base but a small percent of the overall population. This allows them to generate the sort of revenue that display advertising would never be able to replicate. 

Whilst I hesitate to call an idea as awesome as Posse ‘affiliate marketing’ (which is a dirty word if ever I heard one), that is essentially what the site is – it’s an affiliates program for the live music industry, where promotions and effectively ticket sales are crowdsourced. To the best of my knowledge, that is an original concept for live music. 

Premo's Coming to Australia... and using Posse

Premo's Coming to Australia... and using Posse

I do have one concern with Posse – it’s a business model that is easily replicated. Whilst I’m no copyright expert, I’d say there’s not sufficient IP involved in the site to prevent established ticket sellers cheaply imitating the same functionality with some quick code or the affiliate marketing software of their choice. Posse will really need to hit the ground running over the next 6 months to build a solid user base and cement itself as the originator in this area before the bigger players start to take notice, because I think it’s a concept that has the potential to become an industry standard. All the same, despite this challenge, Posse’s an inspired concept and I wish them well.

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27
Jan
10

Average amount of time spent on Social Media by Australians : Facebook stats

The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that Bebo is going to close it’s Australian offices – no surprise there really, since Bebo’s Australian user base has been rapidly shrinking… it was only a matter of time until operations in Australia became unfeasible.

The really interesting part of the article, however, was the stats included from Nielsen that a whopping 29% – almost one third – of time spent online by Australians is on Facebook. I can hear the jingle of marketing dollars being moved around as I type, diverting funding from their PPC campaigns to developing more useless Facebook apps that will create videos of your Facebook friends as dancing Easter bunnies.

Also interesting was this tidbit – “Australia now leads the world for time spent each month on social media sites (7.12 hours), ahead of Britain, Italy, North America and Japan.”

But the real lesson here: Stats are awesome!!

08
Dec
09

When consumer rights orgs get it wrong: Consumers International gets it twisted

In December 2009, Consumers International (CI) announced their annual ‘Bad Company Awards’ for 2009. Among the brands that CI deemed to label “Bad” was Microsoft, lambasted for it’s claims that Windows 7 was a greener OS. Consumers International claimed that whilst Microsoft was flogging a greener OS (which they liked), they were also trying to encourage consumers to buy new hardware / PCs (which they hated)…. and they could not have been much further from the truth.

The Simpsons is a very powerful show - this is how people still seem to see Microsoft - "Buy Him Out, Boys"

I’m all for consumer rights. I love the idea of organisations like CI or Choice Australia keeping companies honest and providing reliable, third party information for consumers. Heck, I started this blog partly because I wanted to showcase great, ethical marketing and expose shonky, dishonest marketing, so I share an end goal with these organisations to an extent. In theory, I like what Consumers International is doing. But part of the credibility of such organisations comes from giving objective, informed decisions, and in this case I don’t think either of these qualities have been displayed. They seem to either (A) have something against Microsoft or (B) just don’t understand what they are talking about in this case.

Before I look at the reasons I feel CI have totally missed the mark by including Microsoft as a “Bad” Company, I need to confirm that I am not employed by Microsoft – I am self-employed, but I am currently contracted to Microsoft to help with their technical community efforts. Further, I’m not a Microsoft fan boy… I like alot of their products, but I’ve got a Playstation aswell as my Xbox360, I have a Nokia phone, I’ve used MacOS on and off for years, I use Google for probably 50% of my search needs, and cut my teeth as a geek (in my past life) delivering open source projects in PHP for NSW state government departments. So I’m no Microsoft zealot. As such, I’m confident that the points I list below can be considered as a fairly objective criticism of CI’s “Bad Company Awards” (as they relate to Microsoft anyway).

1 – No-one I know has gone out to buy a new PC just for the Windows 7 experience – all have either bought the software from a reseller, or downloaded it and upgraded. Those that needed a new PC, bought one, but not just so they could upgrade to Windows 7.

2 – I’m no licensing expert, but I’m pretty sure an OEM (or ‘Original Equipment Manufacturer’) license probably brings in less revenue per PC for Microsoft than when someone buys Windows outright from a reseller like Harvey Norman. What does this mean? Basically that Microsoft makes less money from shipping a copy of Windows 7 on, say, a HP laptop, than they do by selling people the software alone through resellers / online…  it makes no sense for Microsoft to be trying to push people to buy new PC’s when it makes money from software, not PC hardware sales.

3 – Microsoft went to great efforts to ensure the upgrade to Windows 7 from Vista was easy. And it is easy. Ridiculously easy. Upgrading from a Vista machine to Windows 7 is something an average consumer with average computer knowledge can do themselves without needing help / tech support. Why would they Microsoft make upgrading old computers so easy if they were trying to get people to buy new PC’s.

4 – Microsoft also made sure that the large bulk of hardware and associated drivers that work with Vista will also work with Windows 7. So again, there was a consious effort on Microsoft’s behalf to make sure people did not have to buy new PC’s / hardware to enjoy Windows 7.

5 – Microsoft gave free upgrades with purchases of new Vista PC’s in the lead up to Windows 7’s launch. If you bought a new PC in the few months leading up to Windows 7 launch (in Australia, anyway) you received a free voucher for a Windows 7 upgrade. A free voucher that would make the Vista PC you just bought into a Windows 7 PC in a few months… for free. (Free also meaning there were no hardware upgrades necessary, and thus no hardware upgrade costs either.)

6 – Look at the Microsoft Press Release CI are using as proof that Microsoft is trying to encourage people to buy new hardware. At no stage does the press release say people should go and buy a new PC. In fact, at one stage, the press release says “Customers can purchase PCs with Windows 7 or software upgrades online or in-store from technology retailers”. ‘Upgrades’ being the key word there.

I could go on with more reasons, but let’s face it, CI got this one pretty wrong. Given it’s size and dominant presence in the world software industry, Microsoft presents an easy target for consumer rights group. Everyone likes to read about how “Bad” global corporations have been, so I think there’s perhaps a chance Microsoft’s inclusion in the “Bad Company Awards” is to drum up some excitement / interest. Admittedly, there have been occasions in the past where, either intentially or accidentally, Microsoft has found itself in trouble with consumer rights group, but Consumers International is far from the mark this time. I’d go as far as to say they’ve been very “Bad” themselves, since they have not shown what we need to be able to rely on from consumer rights organisations – that is, being properly informed, and impartial in their findings.

24
Nov
09

Agency side vs client side marketing : which is better?

SYNOPSIS: This is one of the longer blogs posts I’ve done, so let me break it down for you to perhaps save you some time. In the post below, I identify some factors that are important in your choice of job. I then compare these factors looking a both client side marketing and agency side marketing roles to see which is better. I throw in some jokes and make a half-arsed conclusion and bam, we got us a blog post.

———

It’s part of human nature to look at ‘what could have been’ and think that maybe we chose the wrong path in life. One of the greatest opportunities for this sort of navel-gazing is when one thinks about one’s career. Whilst perfect hindsight is probably one of the most useless gifts one can be endowed with, I can’t help but still sometimes wish I’d finished high school and done a panel beater apprenticeship instead of studying at university, because had I followed that path, I could probably own a hotrod workshop with a couple of employees building big budget custom cars all day by now… a dream job for sure.

Another question that comes up for me every now and then is that of whether I did the right thing by going client side to start my marketing career rather than agency-side. When I was but a wee lad just finished my marketing degree, I applied for the AFA Traineeship as my first fulltime role out of study. Now let me point out that the marketing degree I’d just finished was actually a Masters degree, and that I’d already completed a double degree prior to it wherein I majored in (1) Gender Studies and (2) Information Technology (weird combination, I know). Plus I’d worked part time all the way through my Masters degree in marketing roles, so I went into the ‘try-outs’ for the traineeship feeling pretty assured I was hot shit. And in all modesty, I was pretty over-qualified to be going for an AFA traineeship, so my confidence was probably somewhat warranted.

Anyway, it came time for the group assessment day for the AFA traineeships, which was the final step of the culling process for candidates, and all us eager young candidates lined up to perform our tricks like dancing monkeys for all the agency types who had assembled to pick over the young talent. The usual behaviour for group recruitment days was on display. Everyone was trying to be a ‘leader’. Everyone was trying to be creative. Everyone was trying to contribute for contributions’ sake… god help us, we cannot sit back and listen – we must speak and be seen to speak, no matter what the consequence!!! I remember one traineeship candidate was loudly rattling off names of staff from several big advertising agencies that he apparently regularly caught up with, like he was some bigtime player. I also remember thinking how unsatisfying it would be to glass him with the flimsy paper cups we were given for drinking water out of during the group exercises.

Well, the time came at the end of the day for the traineeships to be dolled out, and I was made an offer by Renard, a great agency from Sydney that I could totally have seen myself working for. Founded by Neil Fox, whom I’d spoken with numerous times throughout the group assessment day and was very impressed by, Renard was a smaller team offering a diverse role, which was right up my alley. To this day, I still feel like I shafted Neil Fox a little, as out of everyone on that day, he chose me to offer a trainseeship to, but alas things were not to be that way. I was very chuffed at my offer, until I found out what the AFA Grad traineeships actually paid – let’s just say that the amount was (A) less than half what I’d been earning whilst working client-side 20 hours a week during uni and (B) barely enough to cover living expenses. I feel the AFA really should have been more upfront with candidates about the amount to be paid, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m under no delusion that Neil Fox reads my blog, but Neil, if you do, I’m still very grateful that you offered me a job with your crew and I hope you ended up with someone awesome.

The point of this story is that the main deciding factor for me as to whether I went client side or agency side was the dollah bills. Materialistic, I know. Which brings me to the point of this blog post, and the first major difference between client side and agency side work – the cheddar…

MONEY

I’m using the ‘Great Australian Paycheck’ reports from seek.com here as a yardstick. I know it’s not a perfect measure, but I don’t think that anyone can deny that (at least in the more junior ranks) agency staff are severely underpaid. Sure, the argument is that agency types have the payoff of work that is stimulating and fulfilling, but money in my pocket so I can go on an interstate holiday and eat out once in a while is also kinda fulfilling and stimulating too. Anyway, lets look at the figures…

salary report advertising  salary report client side

Salary brackets for agency side (top) vs client side (bottom) in Australia

Long story short, there’s alot more opportunity to earn $80k plus in client side marketing based on the above (then there’s the bonuses too!)

WINNER: Client-side by a mile. Plus, when you break down agency work on a ‘per hour’ basis, the pay is even worse because the hours are longer. Which brings me to my second point…

THE HOURS

Besides being a film featuring one of the worst things to come out of Australia, The Hours are a major consideration for anyone in determining which career path they choose. If I were an investment banker doing 18 hour days, I’m still going quite happily get probably less than 4 hours sleep per night because I know I’ve got my mattress and pillows stuffed with hundred dollar bills and probably have Moet in the cistern in my toilet. Not so for young’uns at an agency. Being young and poorly paid at an agency isn’t an excuse to not work long hours. But you should want to work those long hours because it’s really interesting, fulfilling work (see point 1 above).

Being a junior marketer working client side on the other hand, is cushy… working 9-6, with maybe a really late night pushing that out to 7pm. Ooh, I’m gonna be tired in the morning!!

WINNER: Client side

CAREER PORTABILITY

Even when I’m not looking for work, I keep an eye on job listings to monitor what’s happening in the market, what companies are hiring what sort of staff etc. The number of ads I see for roles in agencies where they stipulate “Must have agency experience” is flabbergastingly high. Entry to agencies is hard for us client side marketers, no matter how good we are. The number of client side marketing roles that stipulate “Would suit someone from either an agency or client-side background” is equally flabbergasting – it seems it’s a one way road. Agency folk can quite easily make the switch to client-side, but it’s much harder for us client-side marketers to make the switch to the agency side of things were we so inclined.

WINNER: Agency-side, without a doubt

STRATEGY VS TACTICS

No marketer wants to be the ‘tactics guy’ – everyone wants to be the ‘strategy guy’. Strategy guys are the shot callers who drive off in their BMW M3’s after work. Tactics guys are the shit kickers who take the bus. Tactics guys get brought in on projects when they’re already half over and all the big decision have been made. Tactics guys get to ‘execute’. Tactics guys certainly don’t get the kudos they probably deserve. Whilst a lot of ad agency types will likely refute this, agency-side work is ‘tactics guys’ work. Before you scream blue murder, let me say I know many agencies advise clients on strategy – I know this. But my take on things is that the beauty of being a client side marketer is that you get to build a strong expertise in your market, in your customers, in your products. Thus your role is, almost by definiton, a strategic one, and your industry / market expertise should be something that I think alot of agencies would struggle to reproduce. If a marketing manager doesn’t know their market and their audience, and are thus unable to set strategy accordingly, I’d say they are under-qualified for the job.

WINNER: Client-side, but there’s certainly a grey space. As I said, the beauty of being a client side marketer is that you get to deep dive into a product or a market or a particular audience and be an expert on that. As such, it is the client-side marketer who should be setting the high level strategy, as they have that depth of understanding. Unless, of course, the agency you use has highly specialised research or knowledge in your area…

KNOWLEDGE SHARING / KEEPING UP TO DATE

Client side marketers are usually boring. Not only are we boring, but we share boring information. I follow a good mix of both agency types and client side types on twitter – the best, most useful, most interesting information comes, almost without exception, from the agency types. They just seem to have their fingers more on the pulse. Agency side folks are cutting edge.

WINNER: Agency-side

COOL FACTOR

Whilst on the topic of who’s boring / interesting, another factor that probably has a large bearing on where we choose to work is the ‘cool factor’ of the job you do. No one wants to be meeting people at parties and telling them “I build relationships with a select group of IT influencers who perform a variety of activities pro bono which helps deliver support and product information to Microsoft’s IT Pro and Developer customers” (that’s my current job I just described, by the way, although lately I’ve taken to telling people I’m a famous rapper and/or streetfighter. Not that I’m ashamed of my job, it’s just that it takes a certain type of person to appreciate what I do, and they’re usually the ones playing D&D and drinking tang in the corner). Working at an agency gets you street cred. It gets you props at parties. I’m pretty sure it’d get you chicks / guys. Everyone wants to be cool.

mad-men-2

WINNER: Agency side again has it in spades.

drumroll please….

CONCLUSION

Lets take a look at the results to see once and for all who’s better client side or agency side marketers:

VARIABLE Client Side Agency Side
Money WIN
Hours WIN  
Career Portability WIN
Strategy v Tactics WIN
Knowledge Sharing WIN
Cool Factor   WIN

Oooh how convenient, a draw…

15
Apr
09

Using Facebook Connect for demographic targeting: HerHotSpot.com marketing case study

Checking through my feeds this afternoon, I came across this press release about HerHotSpot.com and their use of Facebook Connect. HerHotSpot is a social networking site specifically for women – in the words of the site’s founder:

Whilst HerHotSpot.com is an interesting enough concept in itself, there are 2 other equally interesting issues covered in the press release:

1 – Since implementing Facebook Connect, the site has seen signups increase by more than 300 percent and average page views have nearly doubled. I’ve always said that Facebook Connect was a good traffic magnifier, this is proof.

2 – More interesting though is the Facebook Connect-only policy (i.e. using Connect as the sole vehicle to prevent access to males). I see alot of people using Facebook Connect as a way to attract more unique visitors to their site and to encourage repeat visits from existing users, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it used to preclude people of a certain gender from visiting a site. Furthermore, this is also the first time I’ve ever seen a site use Connect as it’s only means of verification – not only does HerHotSpot.com prohibit men from entering, but it prohibits non-Facebookers aswell.

At first glance, this is a curious strategy (erecting barriers and limiting how many people can use their service) but the payoff is that the site will get users of the service that are of a very specific demographic – women (obviously) who are at least internet savvy, are already on Facebook and probably aged in their teens to late twenties / early thirties (although the age demographic is debatable). This makes the site very attractive to advertisers – if my target audience was sociable, connected 16-29 year old women, I’d love to be able to sponsor articles / advertise / participate in the site. As such, HerHotSpot should have no problem making the site a profitable venture.

Mind you, there’s no provision stopping us fellas from simply setting up a facebook account that lists us as a female to gain access, but why would you…. it’s just be a bunch of chatter about boys and lipstick (that’s sarcasm right there, FYI).

20
Jan
09

There’s a right way and a wrong way to go ‘viral’… here’s the wrong way

LANGUAGE WARNING: If you’re offended by a word that has four letters and is often used as a shortened version of ‘Richard’, don’t read on 🙂

Anyway, I have a new viral video mantra for y’all that I think should be an industry standard –”Don’t be a dick”. It isn’t hard (pun sort of intended). Treating your audience with respect is probably the most important thing you can do as a marketer. So many campaigns end up with companies / agencies being dicks to their customers. Conversation and substance are the name of the game in this new marketing world that we live in, yet  cheap tricks pulled in order to ‘go viral’ continue to pop up and (A) sully the name of marketers everywhere and (B) make Internet users more cynical by the day.

I’m sure everyone has seen by now the numerous articles about the fake tattoo video submitted for the Island Reef Dream Job campaign  (one of the original stories here, one of the revelations it was a fake is here). Sure, it’s given the Island Reef campaign a massive boost in publicity all over the world. But it’s also left a sour taste in the  mouth of many who were paying attention. When you’re trying to lure people back to Australia for tourism, but your campaign is revealed to be at least in part smoke and mirrors, it reduces how effectively your message comes across. There is no question about this.

Now, again today we have the ‘real life Cinderella’ story that SMH ran yesterday which has also been proven to be a fake. It’s actually a ‘viral’ campaign for a fashion retailer that I haven’t been able to find the name of yet (and major publications seem to be putting a blanket ban on even mentioning the name – here’s another tip, making a monkey out of report/s with fake press releases will piss off the media). Anyway, back to the Conderella story…the video is below if you’re interested.

Viral tripe

Faking video can be good creative. The Marc Ecko ‘Still Free‘ campaign involving footage of Air Force One getting tagged up was a pretty good example of this, where they did something so ridiculously crazy that you could only be left asking “Damn, did they really do that?” (I never actually saw confirmation either way if the video was real or not). The video engaged with social issues that Marc, his target audience and his brand hold near and dear, and sparked controversy and speculation, which it was designed to do so. It was not designed to deceive people, but to spark a dialogue and point people to a microsite. It was transparent in trying to do this.

Mark Ecko – Still Free

The line is to be drawn when you deliberately try to deceive your audience, with no real intention to cause dialogue, but simply to deceive in order to create traffic. This is no different to spamming. In fact, it is probably getting closer to phishing than spamming, as it is deliberately misleading and getting viewers to engage with video / messages they wouldn’t otherwise if they knew it was not genuine. Sneakiness in this regard always come back to bite you on the butt and can actually be quite annoying to the people who see your campaign… monitoring twitter, I found quite a few negative comments about the campaign. So if you’re going to ‘make a viral video’ as part of your next campaign (hmmm), do marketers the world over a favour, and don’t be a dick… respect your audience.

EDIT – 21/01/09: Today, the second video was released, featuring smug actress acting like no wrongdoing has occurred. There’s a much better account of this whole shebang in some of the posts over at Mumbrella… all I can say is it sucks that this campaign is proceeding and that I will never buy anything from Witchery man, or hire Naked as a strategy firm (if you want to know more about Naked, they have a blog here). Crap job all around.

UPDATE 5th Feb 2009 – Mumbrella, always on top of these things, discusses how the overall effect of the campaign makes it a failure at http://mumbrella.com.au/2009/02/05/exclusive-despite-nakeds-survey-their-witchery-campaign-was-a-social-media-failure/#comment-685

15
Jan
09

Hubspot’s Social Media Marketing Madness

I came across this on the HubSpot marketing blog, and couldn’t help but laugh but also feel kinda defensive. It’s hard to not read too much into the way each character is drawn – I’d consider myself a ‘marketer’, and I also blog about marketing, so does that make me a pretty blonde chick or a sleezy looking suit? 🙂 Maybe I should start tweeting about pocasters that talk about marketing bloggers so I look like an Apple user.

Anyway, this cartoon is topical, as there’s a seemingly endless volume of noise out there around marketing, social media etc. It’s getting harder and harder to find those gems that deliver real value and don’t give you 90% filler to make more ad revenue / increase page rank. So moving forward, I’m going to be doing a series of ‘RECOMMENDED’ tagged posts on this blog, giving props to marketers who are doing their thing and who are providing genuinely useful content to the marketing community. I’m also toying with the idea of a series of “NOT RECOMMENDED” tagged posts (I’ll obviously come up with a catchier tag than that), where I flame people who are just adding to the noise. But that will in all likelihood be hurtful, so I’ll let the crowd decide… feel free to let me know if you’d like to see a “NOT RECOMMENDED” tag by filling in the comments section below.

Nice work, as always, Hubspot – you get the first of my “RECOMMENDED” posts for a whole lot of reasons (see below for a few). If anyone wants to see more from Hubspot (who are probably one of the best organisations I’ve come across for driving online community / knowledge sharing for marketers), check out the following:

The HubSpot blog

The Facebook group

The LinkedIn group (17,000 members can’t be wrong)

Mike Volpe’s Twitter account

Hubspot.tv (I’m slowly giving up on reading blogs… I’m finding podcasts are a much better way to keep in touch with what’s happening, and this is a podcast definitely worth checking out)

Twitter Grader (yeh, they built Twitter Grader…. and website grader….and Press Release grader.)




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