Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Forrester study, free down load from Omniture

Here´s the blurb. . .
"Forrester’s Independent Research Report on “The Marketing Technology Backbone” is very relevant in today’s online environment stating that marketers are struggling to measure new consumer behaviors, integrate interactive marketing channels/applications, and are pressured to measure and improve marketing ROI."
Sound familiar?
Forrester is a one of the leading tech research companies and their stuff is always worth a read, especially if it´s a freebie!. If you work on an IT, tech, telcom or cel brand, get to know Forrester. Your clients probably already do, so it would make good sense to catch up. If they don´t, well they might appreciate the tip.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is Blogging Killing Planning?

Last week there was a very good debate on Adliterate about the state of Planning. As you can see there were over 80 comments on the subject which has to be some sort of record for a planning blog.
This topic first came up in an email from Grey planning chief John Lowery, who raised his concerns about the potentially corrosive nature of blogging, where he says:
"One thing I noticed as I hyperleapt from one planning blog to another was an almost total lack of quantification of anything anyone said, at all. To that extent I thought perhaps one could make a case that blogging is killing planning, or at least planning as I know it. The publication of baseless pontification has, it seems, been democratised and offered up as a glamorous new role-model to a whole generation of 'planners' who wouldn't know what a tracking study questionnaire (not to mention an awareness index) was if it bit them in their left hemisphere".
John Grant responded:

"I once interviewed a planner from Grey who had taken 18 months to prove to a P&G team that fragrances were bought for other reasons than functional benefits. Is that the sort of thing he has in mind? Isn't the main reason planners should blog is that if they didn't they simply wouldn't 'get' where culture is and where it is going?"
If you have a few minutes, read the whole debate. As always there are good points made from both sides.
I think it is great that discussions of this calibre can take place almost spontaneously over a blog, with leading thinkers involved, rather than waiting for an APG conference or something, for these views to get an airing.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Web Trends 2007
A very nice
piece of work from Information Architects. In their words . . .
"Before looking into who will make headlines next year let’s see what made websites successful in 2006. In short: Marketing, Content, Usability, Design and Behavior are the main factors that make a website work."
(These would also be good Frameworks to use when exploring and researching the health and strength of Internet brands, or any website for that matter: Presence; Content; Usability; Design and Behavior - shared vales - ethics)
Internet Marketing
is a combination of Presence (how well is it pushed? How known is it?) and Self Dynamic (how well does it market itself as a product?).

Interactive Content is a combination of Constructively (is the content/service productively usable? Are the texts authentic? Do they incite to write? Are they leading to positive action?) and Uniqueness (are they genuine? Are they special?)
Usability is a combination of Structure/IA (Are the contents organized in an understandable way? Where am I? Where can I go?) and the organisation of the User Interface (Do I understand where is what and why? Do I understand how it works? Does it do what I expect it to do?)
Web Design is a combination of Typography (Is the text easy to read? Is the typography web adequate?) and Attention to detail (does the website care about the little things? Is it characteristic and delicate or just bold?)
Online Behavior is a combination of Interactive Ethics (do the authors/owners have a positive open-minded attitude? Do they follow the basic rules of good manners?) and Democracy (Are they working towards a democratic open web or do they work only for their own pocket?)

These guys are no light weight buzz word merchants, they really know their stuff. If you are interested in Internet and Interactive development, spend some time on their site. I learned a lot there. Thank you BTW sign up for the threebillion daily e-mail, they always have great links to really good planning related info.
Brand Health . . . .
Brand > Consumer Relationships.

Alfredo Mancera of Lab sent me this article from CoreBrand, as an example of the basics of brand management and brand building in todays world. Problem is most of them are ignored and not measured or tracked. Failing brands (especially in service categories) are normally pretty easy to spot.

In his article Patrick Ohlin of CoreBrand (no relation to OneBrand) suggests five best practices for a better customer experience, and ten warning signs of failing brands.

(This article is copyright 2007

Five steps for brand and customer experience improvement. To help attract and retain best customers, CoreBrand offers five key steps that lead to a better-managed brand:

1. Customers return to companies they understand and trust. Be honest, recognise past problems, and articulate what you are doing to fix them.

2. Revisit your company's core identity, values and principles
Are your people and processes supporting these? If not, find out why. Think about how you gain or lose value through different types of customer experience, and map out a picture of the current state. Identify the key behaviours that impact your brand's performance.

3. When you know where the problems are... run a cost/benefit analysis to determine the magnitude and value of the changes needed.

4. Consider how you measure satisfaction.
Fast-paced industries, such as technology, may measure satisfaction more frequently while slower, more traditional industries might use quarterly touchpoint research to remain responsive.

5. Evaluate and quantify progress against goals at planned intervals
Use tracking studies to maintain your focus on customers and provide a regular basis for realignment. Online questionnaires, direct mail surveys, and paid user research can all be effective ways to collect this kind of data.

The golden rule
Finally, CoreBrand warns, companies must remember why customers matter so much. The brand is a total reflection of not only the company but also of the experiences of its customers. Without customers, brands lose meaning.
But customer experiences are a constantly changing reflection of brand strategy and how effectively it is delivered, and this has become even more complex with the steady maturation of the internet.

Brand deterioration alert
At the same time, the problem of a deteriorating brand can be side-stepped if you know what to look for. The solution, Ohlin says, is a customer-focused approach that realigns what the company says with what it actually does. The most common warning signs of brand deterioration include:

1. Low customer satisfaction and retention, as evidenced by low repeat business and high churn rates. Consider market research to identify causal links and define the priorities for improvement.
2. Flat or falling market share. Evaluate competitors and potential substitutes against your brand criteria and market dynamics.
3. Poor internal communications. Evaluate strategy, organisational structure, bottlenecks, breakdowns and competing interests.
4. Low advertising and marketing spend compared to your competitors.
Evaluate your marketing channels and their effectiveness.
5. Inconsistent brand messages or themes in different places and channels. Evaluate your brand positioning and execution.
6. Influx of new or out-of-category competitors and messages.
Identify your top 2 or 3 points of differentiation and press them home every single day.
7. High customer service costs compared to industry standards.
8. High ratio of ad-hoc to planned communications. Evaluate your communications strategy. An audit may help you to identify opportunities to standardise and automate communications.
9. Decentralised, or non-performance based workforce and low employee morale.
10. A risk-averse company culture develops.

iPhone Buzz

Steve Jobs' keynote speach from Macworld Expo 2007 here.

Sure looks nifty, but not cheap.

Just for fun . . . .

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nice stuff from Office M
ax . . . . . and Sharpie
Over Christmas Office Max had dancing elves and other interesting, fun stuff to play with, that got about a bazillion hits so you must have seen it. It´s too late to link it now. Like the Christmas tree lights and decorations it´s been stored away for next year. Meanwhile, it´s back to "A relentless focus on you". Sounds a bit ominous. I think the head client must have sent off a quick e-mail to the Interactive creatives, at 8:00 AM on the first of January, along the lines of - "OK YOU GUYS, YOU´VE HAD YOUR FUN. NOW, LET´S GET BACK TO THE RELENTLESS FOCUS PLEASE."
Rather nostalgically I went to Office Max yesterday and bought a 2007 agenda, a telephone directory and a couple of Mini
Sharpie pens. . . .

(Great little pens by the way)

As you can see, Sharpie has not lost its fun side, or its focus on consumer culture (Resolutions) and being part of peoples lives.
Nice one Sharpie, see you soon!
See you next Christmas Office Max, when you get your sense of humor back. Unless of course, you have a fun offer on those Mini Sharpies!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Visualization Methods. . . there are more than you might think.
Let´s be honest, most planning and research presentations never get far beyond bar charts, pie charts, never ending bullet points and maybe some stock pictures of "consumers" and bits of clip art. So here is a Periodic Table of Visualization Methods from Process Visualization, posted by Influx and (To see the interactive version go straight here). They are grouped by:
  • Data Visualization
  • Information Visualization
  • Concept Visualization
  • Strategy Visualization
  • Metaphor Visualization and something called
  • Compound Visualization
I counted a total of 108 possibilities. Worth a look, especially those under Concept, Strategy and Metaphor.

Bienvenidos . . . . . y mucha suerte.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Blogging so far. . .
Not as hard as I thought it would be, but not as easy either.
It´s quite easy to post links to interesting blogs, ideas and tools you come across. But not as easy to develop immediate insights and comments, on a regular basis.
So, perhaps it´s better to be a filter for interesting information and ideas that planners and brand strategists can use to improve their skills and new thinking on the brands they work on and let the good stuff and the bad stuff speak for itself.