With thanks to The Marketoonist and others. Have a fabulous festive season and I look forward to engaging with you next year:)
Merry ho ho…
There are now two things you can bet your life will appear at this time of year.
The first is the digital reflection of what was most popular in social media. Each channel publishes their own version. Here’s a few:
And here’s the top ads from one of the trade magazines:
The second is the rush to be the first brand or “influencer” to create predictions of digital trends for the forthcoming year. Maybe we should call 2014 “The Year of The FLUENCER” given there are people now calling themselves “influencers“, “socialfluencers”, “linkfluencers” and the like?
We could create some new language – “to fluence” for example. Just don’t do it in public.
I was just reviewing the predictions I made for 2014. You can check them here. Some will still apply in 2015, but I’ll put my thinking cap on and come back to you with a few more early in the new year.
Two obvious trends will appear through simple overuse. The word “hack” when referring to so many things digital, will make its meaning confusing and possibly redundant. While the overuse of #hashtags will make them nothing but background noise as more companies use them, but less people look at them.
I’m off to do some Christmas shopping. It’s a bit late to do it online, but given the whole world is now digital, the local mall will obviously be empty and I’ll be able to easily park my car and shop leisurely.
Where’s my shopping list?
Some of you might find this a surprise given my youthful looks, but a number of my friends are what many people regard as “old”. Yes it’s true. They’re north of 30 and 40, with some even north of 50 and 60. One of my closest in London is in his 70’s – his partner is 40 years younger than he – the sly devil:)
Sadly, many of these people who have hit the half century, have been trying to get work since the GFC – that’s right. Some have been trying for more than 6 years. Despite their obvious talents and experience – which for example, come in handy when decision-making and strategic direction are needed – they are actively being ignored by the recruitment and HR industry.
The reason they are given for not getting an acknowledgement of their application, let alone an interview, is they are “too experienced“. Australia is the only country in the world in which having lots of experience and all the right qualifications, is a negative trait when looking for work.
Apparently youth and enthusiasm are better for business, than experience and knowledge. Ask any recruiter – many of them are also youthful and enthusiastic. Yet they have the task of hiring people into senior roles, the sort that require experience. It’s an ironic world isn’t it? See earlier post.
This ageism has become so rampant, the Federal Government has been forced to do something about it. They are paying employers $10,000 to hire a person aged more than 50.
And they’ve created this video and website – it’s about The Incredible Power of Oldness.
One of my favourite adages is; you should always sail with Captains who have been shipwrecked, because they know where the reefs are.
My old boss David Ogilvy advised his managers to “always hire people who are better than you” because he knew the value of experience. Though most manager’s egos won’t allow them to hire people more experienced than themselves. I know one ad agency CEO who refused to hire the right person for the job because as he told the recruiter; “he’ll want my job“. If only the shareholders knew how their money was being wasted.
On numerous occasions I’ve hired people with more experience and paid them more than me. And they’ve never failed to pay for themselves. More importantly they didn’t need training or supervision – and they fitted in fine with the rest of the staff and our clients.
If you want to rapidly grow your business, particularly a digital start-up, you’d be well-advised to leverage the incredible power of oldness, before your competitors do.
I’m off for my afternoon snooze…
I’m no grammar expert, but I do make an effort to use language that is easy-to-understand whenever I write. I figure it’s only polite to do so – it shows respect for my readers.
I also double-check everything I publish – it comes from the training I received in my management apprenticeship. There was a very good reason for this training – mistakes are costly. And my first boss educated me on how easy it is to avoid mistakes, just by taking pride in my work. Plus he added the motivation of losing my job if I stuffed up!
That doesn’t mean I get it right all the time. But I try.
Which brings me to a problem that’s occurring more and more in business – a decline in the quality of work. It’s reflected in two ways – the use of the written word and the lack of care for the quality of what’s published, or not, as the case may be.
Too many appear to rely on computers to correct errors, rather than proofread and do the quality control themselves.
The OECD International Adult Literacy Study revealed the following:
So about 82% of the population struggles to read and write competently. And every day online, we’re seeing more and more evidence of this, as well as of the zero care-factor about the accuracy and craftmanship of work.
Here are some recent examples from alleged professionals in online newspapers – most were sent to me by a sadly disappointed marketer Richard Warland. You’ll need to click on the images to view the errors of their ways.
This SMH webpage didn’t even bother to put copy into the paragraph under the headline: Window cleaners in dramatic CBD rescue. They used a strange version of computer-generated gobbledygook.
You only die twice?
In this article a man died “after being electrocuted“. Notice to the journalist – if you are electrocuted you are dead. So you cannot be electrocuted and then die afterwards. You die from electrocution.
The lost airline
And in this article the government is apparently calling for tenders to hunt for a missing airline – that’s right, a whole airline has gone missing according to this journalist.
And I just have no idea what this News Ltd journalist even means – what the hell is gradualist managerialism? And what does it have to do with cricket?
Beware rug runners
Apparently Phil Judd, the drummer from AC/DC, is in trouble for possessing a rug. And I thought his hair was natural.
Mood lighting can be fierce?
And again, according to a SMH video, the recent Sydney storms included fierce lights. You have to be careful when lights get into a dark mood.
In the last few years we’ve seen an exponential rise in the number of individuals and businesses publishing words online. Yet there has been no increase in the number of people studying Communications or Journalism at tertiary education institutions.
And you guessed it dear reader, these literate-challenged scribes are passing themselves off as “content marketing experts“. The mind boggles at the advice they provide and the content they create, if the above work from “professionals” is anything to go by?
Please note – the ability to use a keyboard and spell-checker doesn’t qualify you as a copywriter, or even a “content creator“.
Unfortunately, I fear I’m preaching to an empty church. The dumbing-down of communication and lack of pride in our work is so commonplace, people have given up trying. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.
Next thing you know, businesses will use cartoons to communicate. What’s that dear reader, you say they already use cartoons?
OMG they’re those “INFOGRAPHICS!!”
Where’s my Photoshop – I’ve got some editing to do…
The Australian is a national newspaper published by News Ltd. Last weekend, the paper’s business columnist John Durie, published his annual CEO Survey. I cannot link you to the survey as you have to be a paying subscriber – one of those little digi-difficulties:) I read the printed newspaper over a cuppa.
He interviewed 76 CEO’s of public companies in Australia. He wears one of those blue power ties and his questions included one about disruptive digital technologies.
At a quick glance, apart from a couple of television stations, there are no CEOs from advertising agencies or marketing services companies. Not one dot.com darling, digi-disrupter or BIG DATA dynamo was asked for their opinion about business.
Marketers and marketing services seem to be invisible in the world of big business. At least 90% of those interviewed have not worked in marketing. Yet we who do, believe that marketing and everything digital are the centre of the business universe.
In our world everything revolves around marketing. We believe the future belongs to the next generation of digital dudes now slashing their way through established global markets – Airbnb, Uber, Bit coin et al – creating the new sharing economy.
One of the reasons for this of course, is that we only orbit in our own small galaxies. We rarely explore the rest of the business world to learn what makes the markets go around. And despite the fact we claim responsibility for managing and building the most valuable assets companies own – their brands – marketers hardly ever become CEOs of large public companies.
You may be a successful CMO – but you still report to the CEO.
This was also brought home to me last week when I interviewed a very intelligent software programmer for my latest marketing book. Ironically he said marketers have a brand image problem. He said they have difficulty defining what they do and most people don’t understand what they do – apart from attend lots of meetings.
Here’s how he explained himself, question by question:
Q – Do they write the copy (or content as they call it these days) for the ads?
A – No
Q – Do they draw the pictures or create the graphics for the ads or websites?
A – No
Q – Do they direct or produce the videos or television commercials?
A – No
Q – Do they write code?
A – No
Q – Do they come up with the ideas?
A – No
Q – Do they invent products?
A – No
Q – Do they plan or book the media?
A – No
Q – Do the sell anything or run a sales team?
A – No
Q – Do they deal with customers?
A – No
“Then what do they do apart from pay suppliers to spend money on their behalf” he asked? He suggested marketers are highly paid clerks who use the word “strategy” a lot.
I claimed this was a tad harsh, having spent my entire career working in marketing. And I tried to protect my dignity, but it wasn’t easy – how would you answer dear reader?
An airline sales manager who I know, calls his marketing manager the Minister for Coloured Pencils. He once told me that blockbuster movies are made around the Wolves of Wall Street, not the Madmen of Madison Avenue. “The Madmen are throwbacks to another time anyway. You couldn’t imagine them existing now, but there are still packs of wolves making money and keeping the world going round” he claimed with a grin.
I’m off to a marketing meeting shortly. You know those inspiring innovation-filled passion-pits of enthusiasm and intellectual rigour. Aren’t they the reason we get up in the morning?
On second thoughts, I think I might sleep in…
This was the topic of discussion last weekend amongst some civilised adults with whom I was dining. One, a mother of three daughters, said “I don’t let them hitch-hike so why would I let them get in an Uber car. It’s run by a private company with no industry regulations. How do I know the driver is insured, has a good driving record, or has no criminal record?”
Uber, in case you live under a rock, is a disruptive car service taking on the regulated taxi industry around the world. And while I love to see disruptive technology or services – Richard Branson has built a massive business disrupting the planet – this one has touched more nerves than most.
Typical of the questions being asked by the public are:
And of course there’s the taxi industry protests around the globe:
Then this week there was the news of an alleged rape in India by an Uber driver. Now I know that ‘regulated’ taxi drivers have also committed rape, so it’s not because he was an Uber driver that he allegedly committed the crime. But the news was not good.
As Uber is a global brand, disrupting taxi services around the world, the fall-out in one country can have serious ramifications in other markets. That’s the nature of the connected world. And it’s usually the negative news that travels fast. You won’t see a headline like this for example: “Uber driver delivers passenger as planned, without any problems“.
I used Uber when it first arrived in Australia. An American friend of mine introduced me to it. Even better, he sent me home ofter a few bevvies in an Uber car on his account. The car was clean. The driver spoke English as a first language, which is rare in the taxi industry. And he didn’t need to know where to go, because his GPS told him.
I’ve been in taxis where even the use of a GPS was a challenge. The driver couldn’t spell, struggled to comprehend (let alone speak) basic English, so entering a street address was nigh impossible. I had to direct the driver to the destination in between him answering at least 2 different mobile phones in his native tongue.
Uber is here to stay, but it will have to be incredibly transparent and not combative when questioned about its practices.The best thing it could do is run some mass media advertising to sell its message. It certainly can’t rely on people reading a few FAQs to solve its image and consumer confidence problem.
Airbnb is another disrupter facing similar difficulties. Councils have strict rules on short term holiday rentals and then there’s the issues of insurance, hygiene, privacy, noise, neighbours, theft, etc. They are investing more than most in lawyers to fight their cause and build their brand.
Who knows what will happen if Airbnb hooks up with Tinder, so to speak – the mind boggles? Though Loveroom is working on it.
Yet even in a regulated industry like accommodation, there are still scam artists. I had a relative who owned a holiday apartment in Queensland. He used a local real estate agent to manage the lettings. As nobody had rented it for a while he stayed for a couple weeks.
While talking with his neighbour he discovered it had been rented regularly for many months, but the real estate agent was ripping off all the money and not telling my relative.
We all hate red tape, but regulations are usually designed to protect the majority, define what’s legally acceptable and to clarify expectations. They are the first crutch humans lean on to argue a point when pushed out of their comfort zone.
And so it has been with the taxi industry. The industry is a monopoly of sorts and provides a barely acceptable standard of service as a result. In fact, it was the poor standard of the taxi industry that gave rise to Uber.
Customers are sick and tired of delays, dirty taxis, drivers who cannot speak the language or know where they’re going. So when they find a driver who is polite, has a clean cab, can speak English and enjoys their work, they cut a deal with them and call the driver directly on their mobile, rather than via the regulated booking system.
It’s why so many people use their own registered ‘drivers’ to pick them up at airports, home or whenever they need a lift. So the taxi industry really cannot blame Uber for existing – they built the foundations for its success and eventual acceptance. But it will be a rough ride for a while.
Gotta go to a meeting, but it’s changeover time for taxis and nearly Christmas so there’s no chance I’ll find a cab. Where’s that Uber App?
Yesterday I was on a flying cattle truck – or should I say flying kangaroo truck – between Sydney and Melbourne.
As I settled my chin on my knees, I did a bit of work then decided to read the airline magazine, as it was reasonably fresh and generally uncreased or smudged. I find these supposed upmarket magazines fascinating – as much for the ads as the “content“.
There were 30 pages of ads before the Table of Contents – 30 pages. Just a note to the digi-kids – magazines, newspapers and books have always called it “Content” and have listed said “Content” in an easy-to-use reference table. “Content” is not a digital invention. In fact in luxury publications, the ads are a valuable part of the content, while the editorial “content” isn’t always worth consuming.
There were another 9 pages of ads until the first column of editorial – and it was by the CEO of the airline, so a tad uninspiring. I kept flicking, seeking something to read, when I saw an Ole Lynggaard ad – those in the know will understand what that did to my heart rate.
Eventually the ad below took my eye for two reasons. The first was I had never heard of the brand, so my curiosity was tweaked. The second was because as I didn’t know the brand, I wondered where the retreat was located. Alas the ad did not inform me. The content lacked the appropriate information.
Given I am flying in a plane and don’t have access to the internet to “go online” and do the hard yards myself, you’d think the ad would provide some information about the retreat. Is it one retreat, or are there many? More importantly where are they located – In NSW, Victoria, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska??
Do I drive or fly there? Will I need a passport? The hero shot suggests I need to wear a suit to lunch in Summer. A suit! That’s the last thing I’d want to wear on a relaxing Summer retreat – but that’s just me. I don’t even own a tie.
The support images show an aerial view of a “retreat”. The obligatory massage shot, some food or a poultice remedy (I’m not sure) and a person using glassware in a pool – rather dangerous. So I have no idea if it’s for me.
But the first line of copy identifies the target audience – parents. So it is people like me. I have two kids on their 8 week school holidays at the moment. The content even refers to the busy time of Summer holidays. But then it moves into a parallel universe – what parents can afford to take time away from their kids during the school holidays? Who will mind the kids? The “retreat” is obviously not for kids – so how do I take time out for myself? Does the retreat provide some sort of kid-friendly lock-up?
The reason the ad lacks information, probably has to do with some brand guidelines saying that useful information should be avoided at all costs – just use imagery and puffery. It’s very common in upmarket hospitality advertising.
To appease my curiosity and to help me write this post, I did check out the website link on the ad. There’s a few retreats, hence the plural in the name. Most are in Queensland, but one is in the Hunter Valley. I’ve been going to the Hunter for weekends for 30 years – originally pre-kids, now only with kids. I once owned a share in a holiday cottage there, have made wine in 6 separate vintages, had golf weekends and more – but I’ve never heard of Spicers, so am curious.
There isn’t a map on the website, but there is an address. Entering the address in whereis.com reveals the location – next to the Singleton Military Area.
Hmmm I think I might retreat from going there for a weekend – kids or no kids. Maybe that’s why the ad didn’t include the appropriate content in the first place?
Like most in our industry I’ve won a bunch of awards and I’ve also been Chairman of Judges, as well as a judged numerous award competitions – both marketing and advertising.
In some ways, awards aren’t difficult to win. I remember one agency was famous for the amount they scored each year. The reason was simple – they submitted more entries to each award competition than any other agency. They had a specific line entry in their budget expenses for award entries. In one year I was Chairing, they submitted one third of all entries and there were almost 200 entries!
The best work in the market doesn’t always win an award – only the best work in the entries submitted. Because many marketers don’t enter award competitions. Hence the cliche “awards are just a function of entries”. The law of averages says, more award entries you submit, the more awards you’re likely to win.
So make a cuppa and enjoy Jerry Seinfeld’s 5 minute speech when accepting a Clio Award – it’s not only spot-on but funny too. I wonder if it will win a comedy industry award?
A friend of mine sent me an assignment from a digital marketing course she recently completed. Interestingly I wrote and revised the original course some years ago.
In a nutshell, the students were asked to get 1,000 test drives for a new model car ($50,000) with an online budget of $500,000. The budget could only be spent online and the campaign has to last 12 months.
As well as the number of test drives, the measurement criteria includes “social buzz“. Yes it’s true. The assessors want to measure the amount of social buzz around people attending the test drive of a car.
Now I’m not sure about your social life dear reader, but when your livelihood depends on selling cars, what the occasional tweet says about test driving one, is probably not one of the key drivers (exclude the pun) you use for getting leads or sales.
Of course if the typical post says “please call me on this number as I have $50,000 to spend and want to test drive your new model car” then by all means such social posts are worthy of tracking.
Too often in our education courses the assignments don’t represent reality, yet this is the ‘learning’ that’s taken into the workplace. This is one of those cases in point, as it represents utopia when it comes to marketing budgets.
Anyone who has worked in automotive marketing know the flaws in this assignment:
The simple answer to the assignment is to run a bunch of mass media ads saying “get $250 free when you test drive this new car”. They would easily get the 1,000 test drives (though probably not many sales), but the objective of test drives will be achieved.
The most profitable way to get the test drives is to mail/email/phone current customers and invite them to a test drive event. These customers could be incentivised to bring colleagues/friends along. The more friends the more chances of a reward. And of course the car maker could also promote it on their social sites and encourage attendees to do the same.
If a national automotive brand cannot get 1,000 current customers and prospects along to a test drive by simply contacting their existing customer base, they won’t stay in business very long. Mercedes used to fill the Convention Centre with thousands of customers for their new car launches, just using mail and telephone.
Small data rules OK…
An agency I ran created Toyota’s customer contact programme. Bob Miller, Toyota’s Marketing Director at the time, called it his secret weapon in getting Toyota to the No.1 brand in Australia. Using data (mostly small to medium, not very big data) we generated qualified leads for the dealers. The dealers sent cheques to Bob for the privilege of getting these leads. (well they were sent to head office to participate in the programme)
And those same dealers will still pay for a qualified lead today, but I can guarantee they won’t pay for social buzz. That’s not to say marketers should not use social media to promote events, competitions or other incentives to encourage test drives. There are obvious benefits to using social media if what can be shared is worth sharing.
But to restrict a car launch to digital channels only, is a fast lane to failure. Always use personal channels first, supported by the other channels – both analogue and digital.
Just ask any car salesperson. Once you get a prospect in the car for a test drive it’s hard for the prospect to say ‘no’. The conversion rates are close to 70%. The salespeople don’t care how they get the test drives, just as long as they get them.
I’m off to test drive a new office chair – watch this space for the Instagram shot, Facebook and Twitter post, Vine video, Snapchat image, blog and publication on LinkedIn. I’m sure the salespeople are anxiously scanning their iThingos in anticipation. #testdriveofficechair