Saturday, 6 September 2008
Email from: Get to the bleedin’ obvious: Marketing-to-Marketing (MarketingDuffers) [mailto:ThinkingFromTheYear2000@marketingduffers.spamsender.com]
Subject line: More thoughts about blogs that sound good on the surface but are actually completely useless in practice
Is this the end of the beginning of the end of blogs that aren't as good as they should be? We've swallowed some tips from a company even more famous than us for stating the bleedin’ obvious. What do they think makes for a good B2B blog?
Don’t write a crap blog. “I try to write a blog that isn’t totally blatently wrong, boring, repetitive or boring.”
A blog isn’t a press release. “I also learnt last week that a camel isn’t the same as a bathtub. Groovy.”
Don't think about the audience. “Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it? But why think about the audience when you're really only writing for people like you.”
The bleed!n obv!ous: it’s good to write something good.
Next week: What to do when hoardes of people unsubscribe, or die, from your pointless email blasts
What is it about marketing (and online B2B marketing in particular) that leads people to dress inane drivel up as thought leadership?
...and then there are the steam ship companies, whose posters really sell the dream - maybe they are more like the journalists and commentators who promote the Cloud Computing vision, because (as a concept at least) it is easy to understand.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Smurfs may be great gardeners, but they'll never make it in marketing: they've bought into the message that you need to differentiate yourself, when all that's doing is qualifying them out of potential deals. Poor old smurfs...
I'm worried that too many people (me included, too often) put too much faith in the 'differentiate or die' message. A quick google search shows that over 50,000 pages are making that point (and, having obviously just visited all of those, I can faithfully report that they all support my argument...)
Let's say there are lots of companies acknowledging a need for your kind of solution (some in the sweet spot where you really do have better features than the competition) - but there are three big names always getting on the shortlist for the RFP.
Now, do you really need marketing to differentiate yourself from the big three? Or is the issue actually that people see you as too different already (or don't see you at all)?
There's a strong argument that marketing up to the point of the RFP should be all about 'me too' - we have a great client list (like them), we have delivered great results (like them), we have features x,y,z (like them)...
The chances are that one of them is already helping the prospect to shape their RFP (or at least, knowledge of what one of them can do is) - so the only thing you're going to acheive with differentiation is to discount yourself from the deal.
Of course, if the competition is bigger than you, then you will need one kind of differentiation - nothing to do with what you say, but all to do with how/where you say it. They'll own various saturated marketing channels (think AdWords for one! Tradeshows/exhibitions for two...) - but it's your opportunity to get smart and targeted with your direct communications to really deliver that 'me too' message in a way that gets 'me too' onto the shortlist...
Of course, once you're on that shortlist and having your sales meetings - that's the time to really stick it to the competition (and your sales team need all the support they can get to highlight the places where your product/service differentiators meet the pain points of the prospect).
But start the differentiation too soon and you'll end up needing to create a whole new market before anyone will buy from you (which is a great challenge to have, if you're up for the fight!).
So, anyway, have you spotted the 5 differences in the smurf picture? Go here to see if you got it right!
Saturday, 2 August 2008
So what would this vacuum be called? 'I forgot' is the best answer so far.
And are you a 'thought leader' or an 'I forgot'?
Everything starts right with thought leadership programmes - 'we want to have something interesting to say to clients and prospects, ideally something that stands us apart from the competition'.
If only it stopped there as well. But too often, after this great start, people put the 'stand apart from the competition' before the 'interesting to clients and prospects' - which typically means taking an even more tangential/futuristic view on a subject. And so the thought leading position gets farther and farther away from where the majority of clients/prospects are fighting their day to day battles (and spending the majority of their budgets).
We did some research recently with people making buying decisions worth millions of pounds - and found that the people taking the decisions weren't necessarily in the c-suite, but departmental heads/programme directors - people with day jobs too big to worry about what might be possible in the future and all too concerned with what's happening today.
So maybe the really innovative thinking would be to stick to what worries these decision-makers - stories about what's going right and wrong, implementation pot-holes, war stories...
It suddenly makes the 'I forgot' position a whole lot more attractive.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
The government is after suggestions of better ways to use and communicate public information. Basically, ideas for mash-ups using a whole range of new data that's being made public.
So you can see on a map which streets have most car crime, and decide not to park there.
Or you could see what time the next train is leaving with highly sensitive MI5 dossiers left on the seats.
Or look up to see which pensioners are getting the most money each week so you know to concentrate your favours on them.
[potentially these last two wouldn't be possible with the current data on offer. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time...]
I guess it's a nice touch, having us do their work for them, but wonder if it's going about things the wrong way round? They're asking people for suggestions of answers, rather than finding a clever way to uncover needs that people have. Which comes back to the whole Henry Ford "If I asked what people wanted, they'd have asked for a faster horse" point - perhaps it'd be more interesting to see some really innovative way of understanding the kinds of needs that citizens have and then publishing these before asking for random ideas.
As you would expect, the site is coming up with a range of ideas (some apparently too humorous to publish) - take a look at the 'latest ideas' section. Ideas currently range from the pointlessly bandwagony (Showing which constituencies in the UK are greenest) to the unintelligible (Ranking of Correlations between Geographically distributed Temporal datasets) to the encouragement of mob violence (Show on a map where people under anti-social behavioural orders live) [sorry - that's another one that doesn't exist in reality...]
Anyway, it's a neat idea but I'm not sure they've quite got their heads around the idea of customer collaboration and probably not gathering the best feedback possible - anyone seen any better schemes they should be learning from in the private sector?
And, since they won't let you post ridiculous ideas on their site, anyone have any they'd like to share?
Here's a starter: hoodie resource page - somewhere that shows empty buildings and wasteland areas with a rating for proximity to off licence and distance from police stations...
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Interesting article in the Telegraph talks about how the "Facebook and MySpace generation 'cannot form relationships'". According to a psychiatrist:
"People used to the quick pace of online social networking may soon find the real world boring and unstimulating, potentially leading to more extreme behaviour to get that sense."
But isn't the bigger issue that we need to take social networking more seriously than claiming it's not part of 'the real world'? These are real people, sitting at their computers, really doing things (like typing).
It's the attitude that this isn't 'real' that stops people from properly investing in social media - suggesting that it doesn't have a comparable value to 'real world' networking.
Wonder if they'll be thinking the same way in 8 years time when all software is delivered online - and researched, trialled and purchased online without the need for any 'real world' engagement at all...
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Thursday, 26 June 2008
So, is blogging 'hot'? (see below)
Possibly, but what seems even 'hotter' are rap-based cultural references, cos marketing is baddasss. Innit.
But gosh, that would suggest that rap based cultural references are just a fad – which they definitely are NOT. It’s time for companies of all kinds to look at their rap-based cultural references, to sharpen their usage and demand measurable results… there’s no point being down with the kids if you can’t measure the return on every centimeter you are down.
Lena West ran a Social Media Lab at the forum, with some of her views on getting results in social media being covered in this Q&A. But some of it may need translating...
Blogs and social networking are still very "hot." Gosh, I don't like saying that because it makes anything new media related sound like a fad - which it decidedly is NOT.
Online communities and engagement are emerging areas for brand investment. Companies that are active in social media are finally getting the blogosphere memo that it's not just about being part of the community and listening, but facilitating dialogue as well. It's not enough to attend the party, you need to be P. Diddy and HOST the party.
So, are you ready to be P.Diddy and HOST the party? (for those who need the explanation, P.Diddy is lead member of a popular beat combo, renowned for hosting fabulous Edwardian-themed parties [the tea cakes are to die for].) Or maybe we're reaching saturation point with the different communities springing up everywhere, and people need to start being the interesting, witty guest - not just a silent part of the community, but not necessarily hosting it either.
Every party has a stand-out guest who has all the interesting stories and great contacts - with a bit of effort, B2B organisations probably already have the content and it's time to start sharing... Paul Dunay has an excellent post that starts to point at this direction - being the star that brings other parties to life with distributed content...
Having said that, Lena's views on what (and when) to consider starting/expanding a social media initiative are well worth a read...
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
What's that? Sounds like the distant scraping of a barrel... Facebook and Visa try to monetise Facebook
They see small businesses benefiting in two ways - firstly by joining a network to connect and learn from other people in similar situations, and secondly with $100 advertising credits to promote their services to Facebook users.
Only time will tell whether this is enough to persuade Visa's target businesses to take the plunge and start a more structured facebook approach.
Monday, 16 June 2008
Hewlett-Packard said Tuesday it will acquire computa services firm EDS fo` $25 per share, or $13.9 billion, in a deal intended ta boost HP's services revenue . Drop it like its hot.
On Monday night, HP had confirmed tizzle tha two companies were in raps , spendin' news reports brotha in tha day.
The deal will create a cracka services giant intended ta rival IBM in tha market fo` serv'n business customa . Ill slap tha taste out yo mouf.
At tha end of 2007, HP n EDS had a collective services revenue of more thizzay $38 billion n 210,000 employees, doing business in mizzy tizzy 80 countries, HP said n' shit.
HP said it wiznill establish a new business group, called EDS--an HP company, whizzich wizzy be heezeequartered at EDS's exist'n executive offices in Plano, Texas yaba daba dizzle. EDS will continue ta be led by EDS Chairman, President n Chief Executive Playa Ronald A . Im a bad boy wit a lotta hos.
In 2000, HP was in raps ta acquire PricewaterhouseCoopa . Chill as I take you on a trip. The controvizzles acquisition was tha fizzay big move by then-CEO Carly Fiorina fo gettin yo pimp on. But a signifizzles earn'n shortfall in tha fall of 2000, along wit signifizzle doggy stylin' on Wizzle Street, prompted HP ta drop tha idea.
"We're chillin' tha playbook we K-N-to-tha-izzow how ta run very well," Hurd told analysts weed-smokin' tha conference call Tuesday morn'n. "We kizzy how ta git signifizzles leverage out of our scale . Throw yo guns in the air. We spizzay doublizzle thousands of hours on tha due diligence n plann'n , betta check yo self. This thing (EDS) is very attractive. We didn't bakes in a lot of revenue synergies, but they is there."
HP Chief Technology Brotha Shane Robison said in an interview thizzat this doesn't represent a shizzay in strategy n thizzay HP will continue ta invest organically with the gangsta shit that keeps ya hangin.
Thursday, 12 June 2008
First pick I'm already in love with - http://www.qik.com/ streams video live from your mobile phone to the internet. So this post will constantly update with my latest videos (or, if you're extra lucky, with live video as I film it...).
Anyone have any suggestions for next week's tool??
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
You can tell I was already impressed, but when Steve Jobs got up and presented to the world it just got better.
The moment at 1.18 should really go down in history. This is where Steve announces another feature (like the flagship 3G) that should probably have been there from the start: 'flush headphone jack'. Watch the video and listen to the roar of the audience when he says those magic words.... say them yourselves.... 'flush headphone jack'... it's practically poetry.
Maybe this is the future. Maybe we can all just go and turn the most minor features into key selling points. 'AJAX compatible' 'JTEE compliant'...
Apple clearly know their onions (oh dear) and have decided that people don't care about video calling (no front camera) or indeed sharing photos (no picture messaging or upgraded camera) but what they want is speed (3G) and openness (flush headphone jack in the same way as it's been opened up to 3rd party apps). Out of interest, Gizmodo has a longer list of what it won't do.
It's all well and good but I think I'll stick with my Nokia e90. At worst I can use it as a brick to fight off crowds of admirers with without fear of scratching the screen.
Say it one last time...
...flush headphone jack.
Take IBM for example. Ever wondered what solutions big blue actually offers for the kids on the street? Take a look here.
Turns out they don't really 'integrate hardware, software, business consulting and IT services into business solutions to meet your goals. IBM also has strong alliances with partners to deliver business solutions.'
Here's the truth*:
IBM integrates hardware, software, business consult'n n IT services into business solutions ta mizzle yo goals. IBM also has strong alliances wit partna ta deliva business solutions in tha mutha f***n club.
And here's what they do for the telecommunications industry (actually, its Telecommunicizzles):
Our view now pass the glock Anotha dogg house production.: Telecom service provida that is strong collaborizzles can outperform they competizzles by mobbin' innovative services thiznat build loyalty among high-value playa. Read our latest accomplishment:
IBM wins Systems Integrator Bizzy Practices Award fo` business process redesign at T-Cizzom Croatia
So what have we learnt? Easy: turn to IBM next time you need to build loyalty among high-value playas.
Or visit http://www.gizoogle.com/ to see what your company is really saying...
* For a given, hoodie, version of truth
Thursday, 29 May 2008
EDS has created a lot of buzz (albeit not as much as its acquisition by HP) with its new Shell contract - where EDS will taking the lead outsourcing role managing two other key suppliers (AT&T and T-Systems).
For all the background, take a look at computer weekly - http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2008/04/09/230199/shell-offers-lessons-on-outsourcing-contracts.htm
Time to see all those people who predicted the death of outsourcing contracts on this scale rushing to praise the 'new' model? Maybe, maybe not.
Ann All at ITBusinessEdge has brought together some interesting comments on the deal - particularly one from her interview with Ovum Research Director John Madden:
"Certainly for EDS, and for some other outsourcers out there, they’d like to see more deals like this. It allows them to show their expertise in managing complex contracts, and it’s another source of revenue for them. I think the success of a global vendor like Shell is going to be important to the overall service integrator trend and help determine whether it’s going to get some traction with some other large global clients."
From a marketing hoodie standpoint, it looks like another bandwagon in the offing. EDS have put themselves in a great position - working with an innovator like Shell to try and prove the case for this kind of contract. And maybe there won't be hundreds more of these contracts - but what great potenial for some hard-hitting positioning: "if we can manage a contract like this, imagine what we could do for you?"... And although EDS have taken a lead, the market's still wide open - it just needs an innovative approach to getting the message across...
...on which note, let me introduce a group of hoodied-up dancers who have used their skills to visualise what a new outsourcing proposition might look like through the medium of dance. And spot the bit 54 seconds in where they page homage to HP's acquisition of EDS - it's a classic!
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
What's that? You'd appreciate a deeper explanation? You think that this first post should really be more introspective, more questioning of the rationale behind this foray into the blogosphere? Well, if you insist...
We want to provide a more oblique view; to ask ourselves what people in the real world would think of all the things we get up to in the quest to sell IT and services, and maybe look with a more sceptical eye on all the latest and greatest fads.