Archive for September, 2009

The Day Social Media Failed

September 30, 2009

I recently read a post by Shar VanBoskirk on the always very interesting Forrester blog for Interactive Marketing. In this post Shar shared her experience at the P&G social media night; an event heralded as a way of giving to a good cause and testing the value of social media to market a product namely retro Tide logoed t-shirts. Shar, an admitted social media skeptic, felt the results of the event indicated that social media is not all it’s cracked up to be as far as a marketing tool.


In some senses I totally agree. The people tirelessly pushing uninhibited social media tactics seem to be doing so because of the novelty and “unexplored territory” nature of social media…or that elite cadre of social media “guru’s”. J

But the way the event was executed illustrates some fundamental misconceptions of how to use social media as a marketing tool and here’s why;


1.      Message

The medium is not the message. If yo u’ve selected your medium before your message you’re on the path to wasting time, energy and dollars. The medium is dependent of the audience; what kind of media does our audience consume and where can we add value? If the message is lame and/or irrelevant than it does not matter how you deliver the message – it will go nowhere.

What was the message of this experiment?


Assessment of the Tide Virus

Get a Retro Tide shirt

Price = $20 a shirt

Please buy tonight to help my team win!

Benefits a good cause

Part of an experiment



For the large majority of people there isn’t much in that message that is very sticky. On an off day, I might have bought one; (can you ever have enough retro, 80’s looking brand shirts?) and I might have shared the link with my friends. But one very telling thing to notice about Shar’s report of the evening is the absence of any comment regarding how word of the event spread. It probably didn’t. Relevant messages = Viral = Word of Mouth.


2.      Audience

Equally as important as identifying a targeted message that speaks to the most relevant, profitable attributes, is identifying who in the world cares about that message. Who wants to know about your product? For whom is your product going to fill an unsatisfied need?


The truth of the matter is that there are essentially two types of people out there; those who care and those who could care less. There are groups of consumers that are subsets of those, like those who’ve cared in the past but have left the category and have now joined the ranks of those who could care less, but really it’s just those two.


Advertisements selling infant diapers to single males in their 20’s for example. The biggest factor in choosing an audience is relevance. Putting a bunch of people in a room and telling them to use their social networks to see how many shirts they can sell illustrates a core misunderstanding of marketing through social media.


Shar continued by saying;


“The big deals were relationship sales.  My team sold a lot of onesies and twosies, but what really moved our dashboard were a few 50 and 100 t-shirt sales.  And these deals were made personally through phone calls to contacts who might need matching shirts in volume for teams, schools, work groups — not through digital/online outreach.”


The success found through the phone calls had absolutely nothing to do with the medium they used to contact people – but everything to do with the fact that they actually got their message in front of people who had a need that they could fill. To that targeted group of people their message was actually relevant… and it worked. 


4 Signs of A Social Media Guru

September 24, 2009

With the growing recognition of the internet as a gamechanger to the way that marketing has been done for years, we’ve seen the emergence of “Internet Marketing Guru’s” or “Social Media Marketing Guru’s”. I don’t claim to be either. There used to be a great restaurant near my home in college called Guru’s that made a mean Cilantro Lime Pesto, good stuff…but that’s about as “Guru-ish” as I can claim to be.

But I have been in the wake of some of these guru’s. For a while there, all the clients I seemed to come across had just spent a fair chunk of change on a sincere attempt to be relevant and pursue a “new” marketing tactic only to find that the social media campaign or website they had undertaken had done nothing more than empty the piggy bank. You know if it’s happened to you.

If it hasn’t here are some tips on how to avoid it –

1.    1.    Self-proclaimed internet marketing guru’s are rarely guru’s. Particularly social media guru’s – if you are really using social media and you have       a huge following on Twitter, facebook, Linkedin, etc. and the only person talking about you – is you, something is wrong.

2.    2.    The first words out of their mouths are – “Do you Tweet?” or “Are you on facebook?”.

3.    3.     Listen for data. Not the kind of data that a salesman uses, or even data alluding to the growing number of people on social networks, but actual    ROI metrics. At a very basic level, if the word Google Analytics causes blank stares or squirming – run.

4.    4.   SEO. Unless he is specifically an SEO contractor, you can expect your internet guru to know the standard, diluted version of how to optimize      for organic search. If he isn’t an SEO specialist, and he is serious about getting you results, he will want to connect you with someone that can    make it easier for your target audience to find you.  

The most common gaping hole in the strategies that I’ve seen that incorporate social media is a lack of objective-driven strategy. The overarching strategy seems to be “Social Media is cool, so let’s use it.” You can’t substitute the medium for the message.

Just like any other medium, effective interactive marketing needs to be driven, at the minimum, by a business objective, a marketing objective, a communication strategy or messaging framework, and a conversion objective to determine ROI.

“I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted…

I just don’t know which half”

          John Wanamaker, Father of Modern Advertising

With interactive marketing this should never happen. There is really no reason to ever do anything on the internet without capturing data to determine ROI; in most cases there are free tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools that can provide you pretty powerful data. 

Million Dollar Hole in One

September 18, 2009

Jason Hargett borrowed his brother’s set of clubs…

When Drip Marketing Becomes Water Torture

September 17, 2009

When I first came across drip marketing I loved it. Customer Relationship Marketing, done right, is a value-add to the customer. You tell me things when I want to know them, or before I even knew I wanted to know them because we have a relationship and you know me. That works, that’s valuable. You keep me in the loop, the inside scoop, so I get the deals – I like that. iTunes Genius can be a good example.

But all too often what begins as a way of providing relevant and timely information morphs into incessant, annoyances and before too long they regret ever having signed up for emails and you’ve just lost an evangelist. 

Seth Godin shared a cool example over at He wrote

The friction that slows down sending email to everyone all the time is the cost of all the people you’ll lose. You might lose them because they unsubscribe, or more likely, you’ll train them to ignore you. Worse still, you might just make them annoyed enough to badmouth you. made two mistakes with their relationship with me. First, they bought the lie that opt-out is a productive strategy. They unilaterally decided that I’d be delighted to get regular emails from them, merely because I bought some shaving cream.

The second mistake? They didn’t bother to be selective about what they sent.

I’ve never purchased diapers online, since my diaper purchases predate online diaper shopping. And my hope is that I won’t be buying Depends for another fifty years or so. should know this. And yet, because it’s apparently free to email me, some lame brand manager says, “sure, do it!”

Except then I unsubscribe and an asset that is worth ten or a hundred or a thousand dollars disappears, probably forever.”

Drip Marketing done wrong becomes a bareboned version of relationship marketing and quickly loses all of its value to the customer and becomes nothing more than the easily ignored commercials on TV that everyone TiVo’s. 

When Drip Marketing Becomes Water Torture

September 10, 2009


Social Media is not the Virus

September 9, 2009

In the buzz surrounding social media today many people mistake it for the miracle marketing tool. You’ve probably heard someone tell you that all you have to do is to create a facebook page, twitter profile, or blog and you’ll inherently launch your brand to instant stardom. Overnight you’ll have followers, fans, and fame. Sales will soar, ’cause you, you’re different – you market with social media. 

In order for a virus to spread it has to be shared. Obviously, the social web from facebook to the rampant sharing tools out there makes it tremendously easy for your message to go across the world in seconds and be seen by hundreds or hundreds of thousands of people. )Think Susan Boyle)

But the medium is not the message. It won’t get shared if it offers no relevant value. You can’t create word of mouth by simply being on facebook. Seth Godin would call it being “remark-able”. Yes, social media is a great place to communicate a message and engage brand evangelists but don’t get blindsighted by the medium to realize that you still need to tell them why you’re cool. 


TV in 2010…

September 1, 2009

Slide 7 .O {color:black; font-size:149%;} a:link {color:blue !important;} a:active {color:#C0504D !important;} a:visited {color:purple !important;}

 “By 2010, we estimate, television advertising could be only 35% as effective as it was in 1990”
The McKinsey Quarterly