Tag Archives: marketing

Relationship Between Design and Marketing

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I’m studying up on the automotive industry and recently came across a video interview with BMW Group’s former chief of Design. His name is Chris Bangle and I see that he’s quite a controversial figure in the automotive design world. You can view the interview for yourself if you’d like (even if you have no interest in automotive design, this one is a bit of an interesting watch).

He has some thought-provoking words on automotive design. The one that struck me most is his view of the relationship between Marketing and Design. Bangle’s gist (and this is my interpretation): you have to keep the two disciplines separate. Closer to his own words: If you want to keep the design unique and fresh, you isolate it.

He says: “The marketing guys, these guys you have to keep a little bit at bay because their first reaction is: ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no.’ You can’t create life under an atmosphere of no.”

I find fascinating this whole notion of a divide between Design and Marketing.

But, is a sharp divide between the two disciplines in the best interests of a brand?

As Brian Ling says over at his Design Sojourn blog, doesn’t Design and Marketing go hand in hand?

I say yes. The conversation needs to flow both ways. A brand lives and dies on its ability to consistently meet expectations. How can you achieve this, however, if one function is isolated from the other with little collaboration?

I value design freedom, but not if it strays away from meeting the needs of the user. That’s not to say Design is less user-focused and must be checked by Marketing… but Design and Marketing’s viewpoints may differ and those differences need to be addressed and reconciled. Each has a role in identifying unmet needs. Each has a role in interpreting how design options meet those needs and how those same options may be perceived by users.

Design and Marketing need to work together; they can’t and shouldn’t work apart. Do I believe Design should have some freedom to unearth possibilities and create life as Bangle says? Yes. But that same freedom comes with a responsibility to ensure the final art form serves the brand and its target audiences. This responsibility is best met with a closer cross-functional collaboration.

I just have to get some automotive designers and marketers together to discuss this one… and how hard could this be after all? I live in the automotive hub of Greater Detroit!

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Motivation > Innovation

I was recently seduced into reading a blog post by the second part of its title: “why only tools focus on tools.” Funny, eh? The first part of the headline? “The social media deadzone.”

The post comes from Greg Verdino, whose blog covers trends in media and marketing.

His message is familiar: when it comes to social media, first focus on strategy and your desired business outcomes; then figure out the right set of social media tools to make it all happen.

Gotcha, Greg. Thanks for the reminder.

Thanks for the reminder because it’s easy to get seduced by the next big shiny social media object out there. A new tool launches, people start talking, some early wins or successes of other businesses come to light… and then the powers that be in your organization start asking: “What are we doing about [insert shiny social media object]?”

If you’re not sure how you’d respond, then I suggest you review Greg’s thoughts on the matter. They’re spot on… and memorable.

Making mistakes is not only natural but necessary. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for this whole social media thing to shake out. We need to innovate. We need to have a sense (clear or otherwise) of where we think media and marketing might be headed next. We need to move forward because we can’t go back to the bad-old-days of spray and pray interruption advertising. But motivation matters more than innovation.

We have an obligation (to ourselves, if to nobody else) to exercise a bit of restraint when it comes to chasing shiny objects. Our current crop of objects are shiny enough and most marketers haven’t figured out how to make the most of them.

We need to stay focused on what matters for our businesses: meeting objectives and beating goals (not to mention serving customers better than ever before) by using the right combination of approaches. We need to put strategy first.

Bang your head against a wall if you haven’t gotten it yet and repeat after me: “Strategy first. Strategy first. Strategy first!”

If others around you in your organization haven’t gotten it yet, they may come across as one of those tools focused on tools.

But chances are they’re just trying to make sense of it all. After all, social media tools and applications are evolving and proliferating all around us at a dizzying pace. For those who are not living and breathing social media, Web 2.0 and the like, it’s mind-boggling. They want and need your good counsel. Consider this a big opportunity to educate and collaborate. You might just learn something that will help you assess whether the latest shiny social media object is indeed of high value to your organization.

When it comes to making sense of it all, we’re in this together. As noted, the landscape is changing so quickly that I don’t know how anyone can call themselves a social media expert or guru and not turn the reddest of reds. Yes, we can find many who have specific expertise in many different aspects of social media. But we have few absolute authorities available.

As a way to close this post, let me refer to Greg’s best line in his piece. “… motivation matters more than innovation.” I think that’s a good summation of the big idea here. We always desire to be on the cutting edge, to use the latest shiny objects and get ahead of our competitors. We must temper that desire with the eternal strategic question – why?

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Meet the Boom and Y Online, or Bust!

the_age_curveI was reading from Kenneth Gronbach’s The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm, a work in which he argues that changes in marketing and business today are based on the size of the generations we are selling to.

Based on his analysis, only the Baby Boomers and Gen Yers are attractive groups. Why? They’re huge. They represent the greatest opportunity, and they are, in their own ways, significant consuming forces. Gen Xers, he says, lack the critical mass to command marketers’ attention and dictate what will sell and not sell.

This is fascinating stuff. But what I actually found most interesting was a comment that isn’t central to the book’s thesis, though certainly is related. And that comment has to do with the place of each generation in our wired world.

The Baby Boomers, says Gronbach, are immigrants to the Web and all things digital. Generations X and Y are natives. Isn’t that a great way of explaining it?

Why is this important? Well, recognizing the importance of the Baby Boomers, one might leap to the conclusion that traditional marketing methods will remain an important part of the mix. After all, it’s the Gen Xers and Gen Yers who are into all this social media Web stuff, right? They grew up with it. They’re the naturals.

Wrong. Very wrong. The immigrants are hungry for what the natives perhaps take for granted. If you look at data over at Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion blog, you’ll see that Baby Boomers are gobbling up social media at a much faster pace than Gen Yers. See Social Networking Demographics: Boomers Jump In, Gen Y Plateaus.

Perhaps it’s because, as Gronbach says, the Baby Boomers are into anything that will make their lives easier and save them time.

Enter the wonderful Web world.

It’s almost as if the social media Web was created for Baby Boomers from the get-go. So, yes, the Baby Boomers may be immigrants, but they have quickly adapted and evolved.

And hence, how brands/organizations market to them must evolve as well. As Rubel says, there’s a misperception out there that only Generations X and Y are Web savvy and wired. This simply isn’t true. Baby Boomers are plugged in and engaged, and they’re ripe for marketing via the Web.

To win in the future, brands must have comprehensive online engagement plans or risk irrelevancy and extinction. Brands that delay much longer will face the consequences: natives won’t know them, and immigrants will forget about them.

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What is Socialnomics?

socialnomicsI had the opportunity to survey Erik Qualman’s book Socialnomics on the weekend. Overall, I liked what I saw. He presents a number of insights and observations about social media and it’s impact on our lives and, in particular, the changing relationship between marketers and consumers/buyers.

Readers who will benefit the most are those who aren’t already immersed in social media and have not yet developed a full appreciation of social media’s impact and potential to affect change.

Qualman has offered the following definition of socialnomics:

The ability of social media to generate exponential returns for individuals and businesses. A subset of this is that in the future we will no longer search for products and services, rather they will find us via social media.

See the author’s definition for yourself. While there, take a look around his social media blog.

I find the definition of socialnomics unsatisfying. To me, the term should capture the larger context within which social media is found. Generating returns may be a potential outcome of socialnomics, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go.

Socialnomics, in my mind, refers to a larger system of activities and behaviors via social media. Socialnomics might better be defined as the study or phenomenon of digital socio-economics, the intersection between economic activity and social media life.

What do you think? What does socialnomics mean to you? What thoughts does it trigger? Share your definition!

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Windows 7 Breathing New Life into Microsoft Brand

Win7_Professional_webToday is Windows 7 day, the launch of Microsoft’s latest iteration of its core operating system.

The early reviews ahead of today were glowing, and today’s feeds from various sources across the Web are following suit. People like Windows 7. Imagine that!

I suspect you’re thinking the same thing I am: Microsoft desperately needed this boost! And yes, I mean desperately.

We all remember quite well the Windows Vista debacle. We all remember the hype around its launch. But things didn’t go as planned. As it turned out, Vista had more bugs than a 100-acre ant farm. The system was so poorly received even Intel refused to install it on its machines.

Disappointed users held nothing back in their criticism of the system, which quickly elevated into a nightmare for Microsoft and substantial damage to its brand.

In sum, Microsoft couldn’t deliver on its promise with Vista. And it paid the price.

“Over the past three years, I can’t think of a product—except maybe Windows Me—that has damaged Microsoft in the way that Vista has; since Vista’s launch, Microsoft’s reputation has really taken a major hit,” said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, in an interview with eWEEK. See the full article.

But today, with the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft may have made the 180-degree turn. Yes, Microsoft has other products. But the operating system is inextricably linked to its reputation. And with the positive buzz we’re seeing so far, the near future for Microsoft looks brighter for the first time.

Based on early returns, it seems Microsoft has been able, despite obstacles, to persevere. They appear to be on the road to brand redemption, in a sense. And they didn’t do it with a US$300 million advertising campaign with Jerry Seinfeld; they did it with what appears to be a terrific product. Imagine that!

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Four Gen Y Marketing Tips from Gen BuY

bookcover_lgI haven’t had the chance to read through this piece yet, but I’m interested in taking a closer look. The book is Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail by Kit Yarrow and Jayne O’Donnell.

As the title suggests, this book offers some analysis and insight into the buying patterns of Gen Yers.

I happened to catch a glimpse at the book while at Borders. Later, I scanned the book’s Web site to learn more. The book description made me laugh:

“[the authors] argue that this complex generation can best be reached through a deep understanding of what makes them tick.”

Uh, duh! That’s not exactly marketing rocket science, is it? We’re all going for that deep understanding of our target audiences.

But this book isn’t “duh” in any way. From my scan, Gen BuY provides some meaningful insights into the psyche and social context behind what drives Gen Yers to buy. More than that, the authors provide some practical suggestions and, at the end of the book, four Gen Y marketing tips. I’m sharing them here with you.

#1. You’ve got to care. The authors say it’s important to understand Gen Yers. But that in itself is not enough. No. You need to do something else: care! To effectively reach Gen Yers, you need more than data. You need the emotion behind the data. You need to actually tap into their feelings and, get this, actually care about them!

#2. You’ve got to engage and inspire. The more creative and passionate you can be, the better. But just remember, Gen Yers don’t like to be pulled in or pushed somewhere by force. They like to feel as if they’ve discovered it all on their own. Once there, they want to participate and connect. The marketing days of only tell and sell are fading away.

#3. You’ve got to be real. Honesty, says the authors, go a long way. It’s “honesty not hype” that’s important. Gen Yers can spot a phony faster than Shakira can swing her hips. Be real, and you’ll earn Gen Yers’ respect.

#4. You’ve got to be technologically savvy. Gen Yers love tech stuff and what it enables them to do. Make sure you’re using what turns them on. In particular, they like tools that allow for immediate responsiveness and high quality engagement (strong visuals and emotions).

If you have read Gen BuY, please share your reaction. What nuggets of wisdom did you take away? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like? Hmm… maybe I should start an On Brands Book Club?

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New Ford Campaign Has Right People Talking

fordAs reported by The Associated Press, Ford plans to go out next week with a new ad campaign to rev up talk about its brand.

I really like Ford’s go-get-’em approach. “We have momentum. Let’s build on it, now!” That’s what I’m hearing.

One can’t help contrast Ford to GM here.

Look at Ford. They’re going out with ads spotlighting various features of their vehicles – capless refueling, the Sync entertainment system, built-in refrigerators (that’s a new one for me, and I’ll take one of those!) and ambient lighting. They’re talking about what makes their vehicles special.

GM, on the other hand, well, their big talk right now is all about a 60-day money back guarantee. They’re not talking about the wonders of GM vehicles.

As Laura Ries rightly points out, a money-back guarantee doesn’t exactly send the intended message. See her post GM & the Implication of the Opposite for more on this.

Look Who’s Talking
Another big… wait… huge… no, wait… gargantuan difference between Ford and GM is who’s doing the talking.

For GM, it’s their chairman, Ed Whitacre Jr. Umm, Ed who?

For Ford, it’s someone just like one of us. Word is that Ford’s new spots feature actual owners/drivers of the brand’s vehicles. Even better, the comments are completely unscripted. According to The Ford Story blog, the people featured didn’t even know Ford had anything to do with the filming or that they might be used in commercials.

You can see the Ford commercials for yourself if you’d like.

I’ve got to hand it to Ford and their social media whiz kid Scott Monty. They really get it. I mean, who would you be more influenced by: big auto executive Ed What’s-his-name or a real guy or gal, someone who seems just like you and people you know?

This is the new marketing world we’re living in. Ford appears to be in the right gear. GM seems to have stalled somewhere along the road. Those who closely follow GM’s marketing, please correct me if I’m wrong.

I’m not sure if Ford has truly arrived. The competition remains intense. The challenges have not faded away. Ford is still in a fight. But we’re seeing more and more positive signals indicating Ford is turning the corner, such as the 25 percent of Ford Flex crossover sales coming from people trading in a foreign brand.

Ford has a long way to go yet. But… and I think it’s a big but, they’ve got the right people talking.

What do you think? Do you see things as I do, or have you some other thoughts? Please weigh in. Would love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by.

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