Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?



It happens repeatedly. Twitter competitons and naming polls are hijacked, appeals to praise a brand yield the opposite result and city bike schemes suffer theft and vandalism.

And it's all all totally predictable.

This is not with the benefit of hindsight. This happens simply because marketers and executives rarely ask the obvious question. What could possibly go wrong? No doubt because it's seen as providing problems not solutions or some similarly glib inanity.

But it's not negative thinking, It's damage limitation. There's no cost in terms of product dilution and there's everything to gain in avoiding bad publicity that is genuinely bad.

In other realms, this is caused stress-testing.  So don't ask how fabulous potential customers are going to find your latest initiative. Ask what could possibly go wrong. Because the last thing you need is more stress.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Make Marketing Legible.


Iceland have a claim worth promoting.

Although perceived as a low-end purveyor of frozen goods, they apparently produce the best mince pies in the mass market. So I have no problem with the claim, but in the West we read from left to right and horizontally. Not vertically.

What you see first is a list of their competittors. No comparison, just their names.  I take Selfridges away from this ad as much as I do Iceland.

If you look longer you might eventually discern the Iceland name, but why make it so difficult? They spent a lot of time coming up with the word puzzle, but didn't think to flip the diagram. That would leave the competitors' names written vertically and Iceland highlighted as a horizontal name.

It would be easier to read and you'd have Iceland riding high at the top of the image. Why didn't anyone pick this up? What goes on in creative sign-offs? Given the recent Dove debacles, it's increasingly hard to comprehend.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Infinite Marketing.



You can picture the scene. The creatives have been briefed to promote unlimited streaming but think that unlimited has been over used. So they opt for infinite. Because that's unlimited right?

Putting aside the mathematical issue of whether doing something infinitely has any meaning, it will be interesting to see if any customer complains that this promise should mean that they only ever have to pay for one month of data. Because it can't be used up and there's no ass-covering asterisk.

Jargon is bad enough, but if you're going to use regular words, you really should understand what they mean and what they convey. And the rule of the game is under-promise and over-deliver - not the other way round.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Make Economics Marketable.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Differentiation Is Different From Difference.

Back in 1967, Fab and Zoom were popular ice lollies. Bizarrely, Fab was originlly aimed at girls and Zoom at boys, but both were marketed in conjunction with popular TV show Thunderbirds to exploit the products' shapes and to exude the idea of play.

Fifty years on, a big push has been made to celebrate the anniversary and below you can see one of the outdoor ads that has been created. They're different. I saw one creative director tweet that they were the best outdoor ads he'd seen in years.

To which I'd respond with some pithy questioning of the state of outdoor advertising creativity.


No doubt there will be effectiveness papers claiming these did something for Fab - but that will have to be discounted by consideration of the heatwave and the fact that this was a huge increase in marketing expenditure.

Russell Davies has often written about winning the Honda business by pointing out that every car ad looked the same and being different was the way to create clear blue water between Honda and the rest. But this wasn't difference for the sake of it - it was difference that drew attention to a real differentiation.

You have to conclude that "Where There's Fab, There's Fun" doesn't really challenge Honda's "Isn't It Good When Something Just Works?" and fun certainly isn't illustrated in the ad.  It's an ad which is designed to appeal to a sense of irony rather than a sense of play. An ad that the industry might like, but that customers will ignore.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Make Marketing Stress-Tested.


Hot on the heels of Boaty McBoatface , Tay and the rest comes the latest marketing fiasco.

Joining the rush to involve their customers in their marketing, Walker's Crisps encouraged them to upload photos to appear online with their brand spokesman. A few complied, but many more uploaded images of serial killers and others who didn't really fit the brand guidelines. And, of course, there were live billboard feeds of the Twitterstream.

It happens again and again. After all this time, it's still amazing how little digital marketers seem to understand about the web.

The answer is simple. You need to stress-test all your marketing. You need to look at it with scepticism and wrack your brains for the worst case scenarios of how it might mis-fire. This doesn't happen for the simple reason that it's viewed as negativity. But unthinking team-players are still unthinking and bad ideas are still bad.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Keep Calm And Monetise.


Marketing is all about creating a sense of scarcity through functional differentiation or pricing. That gets harder in the world of abundance that characterises free or freemium business models. It gets harder still in the world of phone apps.

Calm.com had a problem. They were an early entrant into the mindfulness space. They were run by seasoned entrepreneurs. They provided their users with daily meditation guides. Daily meditation guides that too many of their users downloaded to their devices and didn't use.

Because signing up to a mindfulness app doesn't make you a practioner. And if you're not an active practitioner you're not much use as a prospect for upgrading to profitable, premium offerings.

Their solution is an elegant product hack. By making the downloads last only 24 hours, they created genuine scarcity. You no longer have a phone full of unused meditation guides, you now have one meditation guide that will disappear if you don't get serious about this mindfulness thing.

If you're not serious about meditation, this might irritate you a little, but that's presumably your default state so no problem there. But, if you're serious or want to be, it is exactly the kind of prompt that might nudge you to make the effort to practice daily. It's not a restriction,  it's an encouragment.

Soon enough, you appreciate that Calm.com are actually helping you towards your goal. By doing so, they're also helping you towards their goal. Which is one reason why they're already profitable and have multi million dollar revenues.

Marketing is about changing behaviour; changing behaviour is about creating habits; and creating habits is about interaction. And this is a simple reminder that product is the first P of marketing.