If you read my blog yesterday you would know I had some problems with an automated software and the copy that went with it.
As I’ve said numerous times, it’s not humans that have changed, it’s technology. Pre-interweb, I would have complained about my experience to staff and colleagues. But thanks to technology, I was able to complain to the world using a blog – not that the world reads my blog, but you get my drift.
There are two differences here related to technology. The first is that more people get to hear about my complaint. The second is that the company that caused the problem can learn about it too and do something to fix it.
And that folks is the single biggest benefit of social media. It is an excellent channel in which to track complaints and act on them. If that’s all you use social media for, you will be light years ahead of most, who are still trying to understand its role.
Yesterday’s post quickly tracked higher on the “viewed” scale relative to other blogs. I was out of office most of the day, so was not checking email or blog stuff. But once online I discovered Melanie from Marketo had checked me out – so to speak – on LinkedIn. And I noticed Melanie had also placed a comment on my blog that was waiting my approval.
Here it is:
Thank you very much for your feedback.
We looked into the issue and it was caused by a bug on our landing page.
It recognised you as a repeat visitor, but incorrectly asked for and tried to validate your email address.
We sincerely apologise for the frustrating experience you had.
We have the Workbook for you and will give you a call.
Best wishes, Melanie
Melanie rang me and explained the problem and asked for my address. Within a couple hours a copy of the report I couldn’t download, along with a bottle of good Aussie Shiraz, were delivered to my doorstep.
What a class act – and what a demonstration of the impact humans have on relationships and business processes. The fact is, if I hadn’t blogged about the problem, Marketo wouldn’t have known their computerised system wasn’t working, unless I called them. But as you know, nearly all companies are doing their best to avoid human contact, forcing people onto websites and DIY solutions. You rarely find telephone numbers or street addresses on websites anymore.
What Marketo demonstrated was the key to the world of marketing automation and BIG DATA – a layer of human intelligence across the software. Because if your system doesn’t have humans monitoring and analysing the real-time data, it won’t work and there’s no sense implementing the software.
As I said in my blog, Marketo is regarded as one of the best on the planet for marketing automation, so full marks to them for the dignified way they responded. And hopefully they’ll get some help with their copywriting.
I’m off for a read over a glass or two – cheers.
P.S. I just heard from the VP Marketing, Jon Miller, as well – see the “comments” on yesterday’s post.
Yesterday I received an email with the spurious subject line: Customers Have Changed – Has Your Marketing? (Why all the CAPS, I have no idea?)
I didn’t realised I’d changed, so just had to learn why – so I suppose the subject line did its job.
I was greeted by the following: “Today’s customers are more informed, more value oriented, more connected via many channels and expect higher quality service and interaction. Meaning that companies must create personalised, relevant and engaging, multi-channel experiences to reach buyers wherever they are….. The new IDC workbook Graduating from Email to Engagement, provides guidance on how to move the needle with engagement marketing.”
This is such a crock on so many levels, I had to get the workbook to read the insights on how we’ve changed and how to move my needle. WTF?
But unfortunately I couldn’t, despite Marketo being one of the most respected suppliers of automated marketing software on the planet.
Step 1 – I completed the form using the same email address that received the original message.
Step 2 – The computer page recognised me and welcomed me back. I clicked on the download button. But the computer told me to enter a valid email address. Yet the email address I entered is the one I have in my account. It is the one used to send me the email for the report and the one I have been using for about 18 years.
Within the email message there are 4 links to click to enter your details to get the workbook. I tried all four links and entered my details in each of them, but with the same result – rejection for an invalid email address. So then I entered my bride’s business email address – it was rejected as well.
Step 3 – I registered again on the site to see what would happen. They sent me this – a link to an entirely different report.
This is what happens when humans are left out of the business process. I’ll bet nobody is tracking those whom the computer rejects. I’ve heard nothing so far.
Given I’ve yet to read how customers have changed, it’s hard to comment on the “content” – let alone on how to “move my needle on engagement marketing”.
I’m fascinated to know how they would have created a “personalised, relevant and engaging, multi-channel experience to reach me wherever I was” for me yesterday. How would they have helped me when I raced into the supermarket after taking the kids to the movies, just prior to my free parking ticket running out? All I wanted was a BBQ chook, some milk and biscuits. It took me less than 5 minutes with kids in tow to walk in, grab said items and DIY check-out (well the kids did that as I don’t get it).
So I can’t wait to read how I’ve changed and how the new Amazo Marketing with EXTRA Wonderfulness, will enhance my multi-channel customer experience. I got so excited I almost choked on the chook leg in anticipation.
But now we come to the real issue in the email. The illiteracy of the message. This is what happens when the wrong people write the copy. And it seems illiteracy is one of the trends you can guarantee with today’s “content marketers”.
So I asked John Hancock to assess it, as I didn’t know what it meant. Hancock is the best in the business of copywriting – www.thecopymentor.com
The copy, though only a couple of sentences, is a hotch-potch of past tense passive verbs, irrelevant buzzwords and incorrect grammar. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level indicates you’d almost need a PhD to comprehend it easily.
You can read Hancock’s assessment and rewrite here – Marketo rewrite. He demonstrates how the copy should have been written to be easily understood by the reader.
And as for the following paragraph where suggestions are made about moving the needle, Hancock says: “Moving the needle has been my goal in life since I got my first car. Although, to be completely honest about it, hot-rodders and bikies really want to “bury the needle” — in the red zone of the tachometer or in the dust at the bottom of the speedometer. This is, of course, a totally analogue metaphor. Analogue instruments have dial faces with needle pointers. Digital instruments just have numbers. I’m sure it’s a “dashboard” image — referring to the phony analogue dials on digital dashboards.”
And then there is the headline of the workbook, as displayed on the screen image – How To Engage With Today’s New Buyer. Is it a book about teenagers with credit cards and pocket money? After all, they are the only ones who are new to buying?
Like I said, a crock on sooo many levels. As my kids would say in today’s vernacular, “an epic fail” as far as my “engagement” was concerned. Let’s hope their social media tracking is working and a human gets in touch with me so I can download the workbook.
I also hope they realise the reality of modern marketing – customers haven’t changed. Only technology has changed. Customers want things to be easy to use. They want simple language that is easy to understand. And they definitely don’t want to spend their waking moments wondering how they can have multi-channel engagement experiences with brands.
About 6 years ago I joined the NOSO Project. It was a social media network for people who didn’t want to be involved in social media. It was an arts project based in NY.
I was member number 411. Members organised real social functions in the physical world for nobody to attend. I think it eventually folded through lack of content, which I guess means it was a success?! But here is a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2yfDlUKYxc
At around the same time I was persuaded to become involved as a founder of an online social network for digital marketers. At least my gray hair counted for something. My gut feel at the time was to avoid it, but I trusted my friend’s judgement.
My main concern was why have a social network (it was really business network, but social sounds cooler) for people with limited talent. That is, a network for people who only know something about digital channels. I was told not to worry as the people behind it were digital geniuses who had made a fortune selling their digital businesses.
When people make a fortune selling their businesses in a rising market to unsuspecting investors who want to jump into the market, you know to be careful of the businesses.
The site encouraged postings to educate members through articles, links and the like. As you can guess, it turned into a self-promotion free-for-all. Opinions more than information. Very anti-social really.
One person who sold his digital art studio, sorry agency, for over $1 million posted that he taught in seminars: “…a brand is just a logo taken to the next level…” Yes folks, true. And the digi-kids who also wanted to start a business and sell it to someone for over $1 million, lapped it up.
Despite my protestings, there was no marketing plan for the business – “it’s digital it will sell itself online”. Eventually spam overtook the site and the hassle of sorting the good stuff from the social-wind became too difficult.
It died a slow death and the site now lingers in cyber-space gathering digi-cobwebs and the odd bit of affiliate revenue from advertisers. www.gooruze.com It’s a shame as I’m sure the intent was good.
Think about it though – a digital social network run by digital marketers for digital marketers, is an EPIC FAIL. (gotta luv a buzzword). That has to tell you something doesn’t it??
Most digital agencies have grown on the back of clients throwing buckets of money at the agencies to build the client’s digital assets – websites, ads, social sites, viral campaigns, etc. But once the assets are built and the cashflow slows down, the lifeblood of the agencies ebbs away.
Unfortunately, the agencies have grown soft around the middle and in some cases up top – as they’ve not had to work for a living. They are metaphorical muffin-tops. Their clients built their businesses for them. When economic times change for the worse and the budgets disappear, the people running the digi-businesses aren’t skilled enough to keep growing them, because that wasn’t the skill-set they needed to do the job previously.
That’s not to say there aren’t some very talented people in the industry, but the old adage, “good times breed bad habits” is now coming to the fore in the digital world, as questions are being asked about the “value” being provided by alleged digi-experts. A very influential CEO told me yesterday about how many fellow CEOs want to withdraw from social media bcause of the lack of positive ROI.
But they can’t withdraw, they need a presence as customers will give them one. After all, the best use of social media for businesses is as a complaint channel.
It’s defining the investment in the social presence that their digi-experts are unable to help them with, as they haven’t a clue either. Their digi-strength has been spending money, not accounting for the spend.
Starting and running any business, let alone an online business is not easy. It needs marketing skills, not binary ones, among other things.
As I’ve said before, if it was that easy we’d all just start a digital agency. Now there’s an idea…
I’ve been meaning to analyse this for a while, since I saw a jar of “Organic” honey in our cupboard.
When I was a youngster, an elderly uncle who resided at Trunkey Creek near Bathurst, would visit a couple of times a year with a 5 gallon tin of natural honey from his hives. It was the closest thing to getting your honey straight from a wild hive in a gum tree.
The stuff was wonderful and lasted months. Although as we’d near the end of the tin, the honey would sometimes turn to candy, so we’d put the tin in a tub of hot water to “melt” the honey for easy use.
Now if ever there was a product that was naturally “organic” it is honey. As far as I know, only bees produce honey. Mankind hasn’t yet invented machines to create artificial honey?
So how can honey be differentiated on labels as either “natural” or “organic”? It’s even certified.
It’s times like this you wonder who is stranger? The marketers who decided to promote organic honey, as against natural honey, or the punters who pay a premium for the organic stuff?
I was curious as to what defines organic honey. Apparently the hives have to be made from natural materials. There can be artificial elements within the structures of man-made hives. The bees diet needs to be organic. This is where the issue gets a bit buzzy, sorry fuzzy. As a beekeeper, how do you ensure your bees only visit natural, pesticide-free flowers?
According to Capilano – an Australian honey brand – to be officially certified organic, hives must be made from organic materials and only exposed to organic environments and beekeeping techniques in the preparation of the honey. Sites have to be regularly audited to meet a rigorous checklist of requirements to reach certification, including not being within a 5km radius of all normal farms & agricultural land that don’t use organic methods.
It seems a lot of work to create a product that looks, smells and tastes the same as the natural product. And it’s not like a marketer is competing with artificial honey substitutes. Sure there are different flavours according to the flowers from which the bees get their pollen, but all honey is natural.
There’s honey and there’s honey. Well there is unless you live in France, or your bees live near industrial estates, rubbush tips or residential areas.
It was reported last year that “a cluster of bee hives in northeastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers who now believe residue from containers of M&M’s candy processed at a nearby bio-gas plant is the cause.”
Interesting that one of the most artificially created sweet treats is ruining the most naturally created sweet treat. But maybe there is an opportunity here?
There are herb-infused and other flavour-infused honeys. But why not coloured honey for kids? Make honey fun – add colour to a honey sandwich on white bread?
Or maybe vitamin honey for those oldies with no teeth? A spoonful of honey with a cuppa and you get your vitamin fix. Something’s coming to mind – a tune. Just a spoonful of honey makes the medicine go down – where have I heard that before?
After all, they’ve added vitamins to water, so why not to honey?
Have to go now – I’m off to find some pristine bushland to stake out my hives. That’s of course if there’s any left after the coal-seam gas land grab.
I wonder of there’s a market for coal-flavoured honey?
A Creative Director I worked with in the days before the interweb used to get his kicks by destroying the confidence of account managers. His idea of fun was to get his secretary to retype the staff telephone list without the account manager’s name or number on it. He would then put the new list announcing the staff update, on the account manager’s chair when they were in a meeting or at lunch.
When the account manager returned to their desk, they would assume they had been fired and come rushing to me very distressed, to see if they were still employed. The hours I spent cajouling young executives as a result could fill a book, or blog?
I was reminded of this by twins I know, who just turned 21. They are very active on Facebook, so much so that I hope potential employers never view their pages. They are testosterone-filled, football loving single males, if you get my drift?
Recently one of them changed his status to engaged. I was a tad miffed as he hadn’t rung me to tell me the good news. So I rang him. He pleaded ‘not guilty’ and anxiously exclaimed that his girlfriend had used his password to access his account. She changed his marital status and sent herself loads of loving messages (from his account) about their engagement and his undying love for her.
Turns out she was the jealous type and was using his social pages to warn off potential threats to her claim on him from eligible single women. She then changed his password so he couldn’t access his own account. Despite this they are still together, so maybe it is meant to be?
I mention this because I’m completely over Twitter. My account has been hacked so much – and I’ve changed my password umpteen times – that I no longer care. I don’t look at my Twitter feed. My posts to it are automatic from my blog, so I don’t need to view the account. When I last looked, at least 80% of the messages were from Asian hackers posting in non-English languages. They’ve never officially ‘followed me”. They just hacked my account.
Last year the hackers posted messages from it. I took hours to work out how to fix it myself – and then it started all over again a few days later. I don’t have time to keep monitoring and fixing it. So I’ve given up. Anyone who follows me will still get my blog Tweets. But I have no desire to waste my time sorting through the spam feeds. Besides, if I really want to know something about a subject, I’ll use search engines – Twitter is not really the first place I’d research content.
This is one of the problems of the interweb – everything is DIY. You cannot talk with humans anymore, only email a ‘no-reply’ address and hope for a response. You spend hours trying to sort things out for yourself, via random search queries, in the vain hope the first page results will provide an easy-to-understand answer.
Maybe there’s a business opportunity for Twitter or other social media sites – a call centre staffed with geeks who you can speak with to solve your IT problems. This used to be called ‘customer service’ before the interweb, maybe it can come back in fashion?
Social media truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTdGNGCKpag
All the talk lately about blue ties caused a sudden memory recall last night. When I was running the Ogilvy & Mather Direct office in Sydney we were a bit of a lightening rod for all manner of entrepreneurs, as we were the biggest DM agency in town. We’d used that old skill called ‘content marketing’ to build our profile – publishing newsletters, case studies and opinions and were regularly featured in trade media.
On this particular day I had an apppointment in my diary that my PA had set-up. It was a new business meeting at our office with a man who had an idea and was looking for a JV partner. I hadn’t spoken to him, as I trusted my PA’s instincts.
My Creative Director and I were called to reception to meet this entrepreneur. As you know, first impressions usually count and this one was not really adding up. But we invited him into our Board room. He took the seat nearest the door with his back to the door. We sat opposite.
He was dressed in clothes that hadn’t been ironed – and they were meant to be. Nothing matched and he had a large blue tie, with an oversize knot and no top button on his shirt. Peering from beneath his collar were some interesting tattoos. There were also some on his fingers and upon closer inspection on his wrists and I suspect the rest of his body as well.
But these were not ordinary tattoos, like the alleged fashion statements of today. No folks, these were tattoos gained while one is incarcerated at Her Majesty’s leisure in a maximum security prison.
So it was with nervous discomfort that my CD and I sat listening to our guest. He had a big idea, though probably not one that my old boss David Ogilvy of ‘big ideas’ fame, would have approved.
He started to explain that he’d had time to think recently while he’d been ‘detained’ and he had a way to make lots of money with us. At this point my wily CD feigned a sudden urge to go to the loo and ran from the room, never to return. So I was stuck with the entrepreneur between the door and me, which made it difficult for me to end the meeting quickly. I had to hear him out.
His big idea was simple. A bunch of people would get on the phones and using the White Pages would call people at their homes. These um ‘telemarketers’ would pretend they were conducting a survey and ask people questions about different topics like holidays, cigarette brands, cars and stuff they used or liked.
The unsuspecting punters would be told their answers were confidential, but in fact they would be entered into a personalised database. Once we had built up a list of thousands of names we could sell the list to companies who sold products linked to the data.
This was a BIG DATA idea – unfortunately it was also illegal – ironically this was something lost on my new friend. He kept insisting it was legitimate and all we had to do was chip in the money to fund the telemarketers and then sell the lists. We could go 50:50 on the profits as it was his big idea. He also had some mates who could make the calls – I dared not ask.
Eventually I agreed we’d consider it and get back to him, as it was the only way to ensure my safe passage from the room. And of course I never did get back to him, but was a tad nervous getting into my car in the underground car park late at night for the next month.
This reminded me of some of the BIG DATA DEALS being spruiked around the planet at the moment. All manner of software solutions and experts to help you use your data to get your customers to engage with you more. Why is it that nobody wants to sell anything in the digital world? All they want to do is get engaged, or measure sentiment, or increase “Likes”?
The fact I’m struggling with, is that most organisations don’t even have functional, current databases, let alone relational databases that may reveal insights about customer purchasing habits. In my polling of seminar audiences of marketing executives and business owners, less than 10% are satisfied with their current databases, or the information they glean from them.
They don’t have time for small data, let alone BIG DATA.
I’m off to fix some data problems for our industry associations. I’ve received about 7 pieces of mail over the last 10 days promoting events that feature presentations on BIG DATA. They are obviously having problems with their small data, as I know I don’t cross-dress and I haven’t changed my name to Monique. So for the umpteenth time Ms Monique Auld and Ms Malcolm Auld, will return to sender with the correct details and see what happens.
It really is surprising how many marketers forget, it’s the small data stuff that does the BIG DAMAGE to your brand.
In case you don’t live in Oz, there has been a sad political soap opera this week involving our PM and men in blue ties. It started with a pre-recorded (no media allowed) PowerPoint presentation by the PM (that’s a lot of P’s) to an audience of her female supporters. The session was recorded, edited and then distributed to the media. In her delivery the PM attacked men in blue ties. Then ‘coincidentally” the next day a digital image of an (completely offensive) alleged menu from a Liberal party fundraiser appeared (3 months after it had been created). Joh Bjelke Petersen called this tactic “feeding the chooks…” – and journalists and politicians pecked each other to death over the story.
The media frenzy over the alleged menu was a reflection of the declining professionalism in publishing since the interweb became such a powerful channel. The reporting was more demonstrative of the amateurs who publish online, than the publishing industry that employs trained journalists who supposedly investigate the facts before publishing. Just because an image of the alleged menu was tweeted, journalists and the general populace believed it to be true. Nobody checked if the menu was printed en masse and distributed, or why it was suddenly being leaked 3 months after it had been created. The ‘investigation’ was left out of the process of investigative journalism.
And now the truth has emerged. The alleged menu was never distributed, it was just an appalling bad-taste joke that was photographed and posted to a social media site. So now the whole sorry saga can hopefully be removed from the journalistic dining table, so to speak and we can get on with things economic.
Which brings me again to blue ties. I don’t own a tie. Well I did buy one a few years ago because a bunch of horse racing types wouldn’t let me watch equine run around a paddock without one. So I put it on to get into the track, then took it off to stay and watch. I’m not sure where it is now?
In one moment of genius though, our PM has saved a rapidly declining niche industry – the necktie industry. Particularly the blue necktie industry. If you believe the letters to the editors and talkback radio, thousands are going to buy blue neckties to wear on polling day in September. What a boost for the local economy at a time when so many are struggling. Just like those umbrella salespeople who suddenly appear on the sidewalk when it starts raining, I suspect we’re going to see a surge in random necktie salespeople on our sidewalks. If you Google ‘men in blue ties’, you’ll see that support groups are emerging.
I’ve never understood the purpose of the tie – how does it help one do their work? Does it help you think more strategically? I noticed the world’s richect bloke – Bill Gates – didn’t wear one when interviewed in Oz last week. He succeeded without a necktie, so why don’t we do as he does? Although I did find a grainy shot taken of Bill who felt obliged to wear a tie when meeting another bloke who likes to wear blue ties – see below.
Ties demonstrate that most men are either colour blind, or have no fashion sense. And this was reinforced yesterday by the said bloke (above), who was on his own campaign trail wearing a blue tie. Kev said his wife or daughter pick and pack his ties for him as he has no fashion sense – sounds like he lives a nice throwback to the 1950’s. I wonder if they get his pipe and slippers too? Careful, he could be called the “M” word.
But I digress. I think the PM may be onto something here. She could make a weekly statement (there’s 14 more weeks until the election) about “men in <insert clothing item>” and help revive struggling businesses. What a boon for the economy. For example, “Beware men in G-strings…” could revitalise the male G-string category. Or what about the old stubbies, how many men wear those now? “I declare men in stubbies….” the PM could announce, and before you know it the Parliament would be full of blokes wearing that Ozzie icon. Though probably not in Winter.
Hmm, maybe “Men in flannelette shirts…” would be more appropriate for Winter. We could revitalise “Bogan Style” – with blue ties! Lowes would have a field day. This is big folks. The PM just has to make an announcement and get it tweeted. Journalists will migrate the announcement to the broadcast media, where most people still get their news. A frenzy will ensue and sales will increase.
I’m off to find some shekels to buy shares in Lowes – could be a nice little earner. Better get dressed though. Do I need to wear a tie?
Happy Friday and avagoodweegend…
At The Marketing Job Interview
One day a man tried to get a job as a Marketing Manager at a blue-chip packaged goods company. He passed every interview with flying colours. At the final interview, the Global Head of Strategic Marketing and Customer Engagement told him that his constant blinking would bother customers.
“Not a problem. I can fix that with some Aspirin. I’ll just take some and will be better in a second.”
So, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out condom after condom until he finds the Aspirin. He takes it and his blinking goes away.
The Global Head of Strategic Marketing and Customer Engagement says “We don’t approve of womanising at the office. We’re a politically correct company you know.”
The bloke shakes his head and says “No you misunderstand! Have you ever tried to ask a pharmacist for aspirin while your winking?”
Work vs Prison:
IN PRISON… you spend the majority of your time in an 8X10 cell.
AT WORK… you spend the majority of your time in a 6X8 cubicle.
IN PRISON… you get three meals a day.
AT WORK… you only get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it.
IN PRISON… you get time off for good behavior.
AT WORK… you get more work for good behavior.
IN PRISON… the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you.
AT WORK… you must carry around a security card and open all the doors for yourself.
IN PRISON… you can watch TV and play games.
AT WORK… you get fired for watching TV and playing games.
IN PRISON… you get your own toilet.
AT WORK… you have to share with some idiot who pees on the seat.
IN PRISON…they allow your family and friends to visit.
AT WORK…you can’t even speak to your family.
IN PRISON… all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required
AT WORK… you get to pay all the expenses to go to work and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.
IN PRISON… you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out.
AT WORK… you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.
IN PRISON… you must deal with sadistic wardens.
AT WORK… they are called managers.
The Requirements of This Job
Employer: “In this job we need someone who is responsible.”
Applicant: “I’m the one you want. On my last job, every time an advertising campaign didn’t work, they said I was responsible.”
In the beginning was the Plan.
And then came the Assumptions.
And the Assumptions were without form.
And the Plan was without substance.
And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.
And they spoke among themselves, saying,
“It is a crock of sh*t, and it stinks.”
And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said,
“It is a pail of dung, and we can’t live with the smell.
And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying,
“It is the container of the excrements, and it is very strong,
such that none may abide by it.”
And the Mangers went unto their Directors, saying,
“It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength.”
And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying to one another,
“It promotes growth, and it is very powerful.”
And the Vice Presidents went to the President, saying unto him,
“This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the company
with very powerful effects.”
And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good.
And the Plan became Policy and was briefed to the advertising agency.
And that is how sh*t happens.
There are a couple of careers I’ve always thought fascinating. A disaster estimator for example. Within minutes of a disaster occuring these people have the ability to estimate the exact number of people who have been injured or killed – despite not even being at the disaster location. Amazing stuff. These numbers are then published globally on news television, in print and online. What a skill to have and you don’t have to worry about your job at night, unless of course you live in a disaster zone – like Canberra for example. (sorry no more political commentary).
Another career that excites me is ‘futurist’. You predict the future, get published and by the time the future is here, everyone has forgotten what you predicted. In most cases it doesn’t really matter. But future forecasting is essential for planning our communities, government (politics again, sorry) and other decision-making stuff. I’m thinking of becoming a futurist. For example I predict the marketing industry will continue to breed opinionators who use sweeping generalisations to validate their hyperbole. But that was a gimmee – anyone could predict that.
So it was with enthusiasm that I started to read in the Harvard Business Review “A futurist looks at the future”. (I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be looking at the past – maybe a copy editor would be an easier job?).
The article was about digital marketing, as against analogue marketing. Let’s take a peek at the first prediction:
Prediction 1 – paraphrased: By 2020, most interruptive marketing will be gone. Instead, marketing will be personalized, customized, and adapted to what I have expressed as my wishes or opt-ins — which essentially means that advertising becomes content. (there’s that ‘content’ word again)
Using my pastist powers (as against futurist powers) I recall similar statements in the 1980’s. I probably made some myself as an apprentice futurist. Remember the 1980’s? The era of BIG SHOULDER PADS and BIG DATA. That’s right folks – marketing discussions were all about how marketers would handle the massive volumes of data being created by computerised databases. “Data is king” screamed the trade press – and it’s taking over marketing.
Futurists predicted that every marketing message in the future was going to be customised or personalised, possibly even pasteurised? BIG DATA was so happening, that in 1988 I opened Australia’s first database consultancy within a direct marketing agency – Ogilvy DataConsult. (well it was a database consultancy, hence the name).
But back to interruptive marketing. Do you think there is a parallel universe out there in which digi-people live? The reason I say this is because the interweb is probably the most disruptive/interruptive media channel ever invented. Just a minute, an email has arrived. Now where was I? Oops sorry, a text message is nagging me on my mobile. Sh*t these bloody pop-up ads keep appearing from a website I have open in the background.
You get the picture?
You cannot open a newspaper site without automatic video streaming of advertisements. You have to click the damn things to stop them playing. You have to opt-out to read the news. Then there are those damn pop-up and pop-under ads that appear and force you to click on them so you can continue to read. Apparently, so I’m told, this was invented by the adult industry – like most of the technical developments on the interweb.
Or what about the banner ads that flash, animate and move around distracting your eye from its main task? As humans we have trained ourselves to effectively ignore these ads – the term is banner blocking. We’ve being doing the same with editorial/advertisements on printed pages for decades.
And try working on your email without the constant stream of new messages arriving. Hands-up who would like more email interrupting their day? Have you opened a web page on your mobile lately? More often than not an advertisement interrupts your viewing. You have to click the damn thing to get rid of it. But woe the poor sod whose digits aren’t delicate, or who doesn’t have their reading glasses with them. They try to click the micro-box to close the ad, but instead open it and have to go through the hassle of closing the damn thing. It can be very frustrating, this interruption to your day.
Even YouTube now interrupts your viewing with ads you have to watch before you can watch your chosen video.
And then of course there’s that wonderful new buzzword, remarketing, where ‘customised’ ads follow you all over the interweb, based on your previous behaviour. A Marketing Director friend of mine (who is around 60 years young) was looking on a number of websites for a baby gift for a niece. She likes a bargain, so looked at a few sites over 24 hours. Thanks to the wonders of automated marketing, for the following six weeks she was interrupted on most sites she visited with advertisements for strollers, prams, designer nappies and other such completely irrelevant products.
Another mate of mine cannot understand why he keeps getting ads for single girls on his Facebook page?? I go to a gym (yes I do…) at a local RSL club. I don’t do anything else at the club, never spend a cent in there. Yet they regularly interrupt my day with text messages for my chance to win $$$ or to come watch the rugby league on the BIG SCREEN. Gotta luv that automated marketing.
Yes, you can create your own inbound news feeds, but even these need to be funded by advertising. It is human nature to learn through discovery. It’s why so few people create tailored news streams and RSS feeds. They like to go to a site and explore what’s there. It’s part of the enjoyment of the process. Like turning pages in a newspaper or magazine. You don’t know what’s on the next page, which is why you turn. It’s in our DNA.
There is a simple reason for lots of this digi-confusion. Many of our digi-futurists only started their marketing lives after the first dot.con. They’re still marketing toddlers in the scheme of things. They assume the only marketing world is the online world. They’ve never worked in “traditional” media. Because something is new to them, they believe it is new to the world. They don’t study history, or realise that while technology changes, humans don’t.
People buy things emotionally and justify them rationally – regardless of the technology that delivers the marketing message. It has and always will be.
As Margaret Thatcher (politics again) famously said: “there’s one thing wrong with socialism – you eventually run out of other people’s money”.
And so it is with the interweb. As long as digi-businesses continue to be created that require advertising revenue to fund the sites, (because the punters don’t value the content enough to pay for it), then interruptive advertising will live on. It has to, or the sites will close.
There are two other reasons it will continue. Firstly there aren’t too many marketers who want to run ads that don’t get seen. And secondly, not many marketers worry if the ads work or not, they just want to make sure they are seen to be advertising.
I also predict not everyone will agree with me:)