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Showing posts from June, 2011

The Reset of the Agency Model

Ad agencies are always telling clients they need to be customer centric. The paradox is that agencies, for the most part, are still structured and positioned by line of channels/capabilities. We have digital, traditional “creative”, experiential “event”, social media, PR, mobile agencies and more. Though I understand the need for channel expertise, I wonder if this model makes sense anymore. In today’s connected society, customers experience the brand across multiple screens and platforms, sometimes at the same time. To be customer-centric, agencies should position their services in the same way. In other words, agencies should focus on brand experience rather than channel or capability expertise. This means the end of the channel line: digital agencies are becoming “creative” agencies while “creative” agencies are becoming digital.

They say that if the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems are going to look like nails. Positioning the agency by channel “tool” not only create…

Local is Love

The economic recession has reset Americans’ values system. American culture has shifted from individualistic to community-minded. No longer is the emphasis solely on individual success. The recession has strengthened bonds among people living in the same neighborhoods, sharing the same hardships, and struggling to make ends meet. The recession has created unity and collaboration not seen since the Great Depression. Americans know that only by uniting can they survive and get back on track. Local has become beautiful.

To protect the community, people are living, shopping and investing locally. The housing crisis has trapped Americans in their neighborhoods. They can no longer afford to move out given job losses and decreases in home values. The economy has pushed Americans to collaborate. The new mantra in the neighborhood has become more in line with “help me, help you” to quote Tom Cruise in “Jerry McGuire”. In developing countries with high levels of inequality, this social dynami…

What is your “Like” currency policy?

“Like” is becoming the new trust currency. Publishing companies such as The New York Times and CNN are already using it to recommend and distribute content. NGOs, in partnership with sponsors, are leveraging “Like” for donations. For instance, if a NGO gets 100,000 “Likes” for a cause, the sponsor will kick in $100K. So, why not use “Like” to determine the price of digital goods?

To see how this might work, let’s use a publishing company for online books as an example. The publisher decides to use “Like” to help determine the price of its online books. “Like” will function as a floating currency on which the price is based on supply and demand. The more “Likes”, the lower the price. The publisher will need to establish a price base and ceiling in order to not lose money and remain competitive. In addition, they will need to determine the exchange rate of “Likes” to actual dollars. This exchange rate will need to be fair and transparent, so customers know what to expect for their “…

The Digital Dilemma, Paid vs. Earned Media

In real life you cannot buy trust, you need to earn it. The digital society is no different. Web authority comes through consistently delivering value that’s true to your story and to customers’ needs. This is how your site gets links and followers. You just cannot buy your way into an organic ranking on the first page of Google search results. You need to earn it. In America post-financial crisis, people are looking for brands that are kind, friendly and generally social responsible. They respect brands that serve their communities. That is the real deal. They reject brands that are trying to buy their trust only through advertising. Businesses need to align their marketing dollars with customers’ values. They need to shift their digital approach from buying to earning. This means less “online advertising” (e.g., display banners/SEM) and more partnerships, community outreach and great content.

Small businesses know that the key to success is not advertising. It is consistently …

The New Trust Currency

In an open society, trust is everything. The more consumers trust your brand, the more they are likely to recommend and buy it. Trust can take many shapes and forms on the web. Brands can demonstrate that they are trusted through consumer ratings, comments, awards, research or expert endorsements. A new form of trust is the display of public interfaces. In other words, showing pics of friends who “like” the brand or content. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, these pics of your friends’ “like” might become the new trust currency.

Displaying public interfaces has at least two advantages for brands: 1) establishing trust through associations and 2) providing a sense of belonging.

1) Brands are associations of consumers’ beliefs. Consumers buy brands that provide emotional reinforcement, especially pride in who they are and what they do according to Dan Hill’s research published in “Emotionomics”. Since “friends” are part of who we are, displaying their pics and “like” will help t…

The New Shift: From Marcom to Markops

The new digital landscape is changing the role of marketing communications (marcom). The old model of marcom working in silos, separate from operations, is not longer sustainable. Social platforms and new technology are blurring the line between marcom and operations. Businesses that do a better job integrating these functions are more likely to succeed in this new environment. We can see great examples in customer-centric companies such as Zappos, Southwest, P&G and Apple. These companies connect marcom with customer service (e.g., Zappos & Southwest) and with operations/product development (e.g., P&G and Apple). We are likely to see the role of marketing operations increasing in relevance in today’s business world.

Marketing communications has traditionally been in the back seat of the corporate world. Tenures for CMOs tend to be short, with a limited seat at the table. They have been focused for the most part on communications. Finance and operations have traditional…

The American Brand Awakening

America is not the same. The economic recession has profoundly changed peoples’ values systems in this country. Facing adversity, Americans have decided to take back control of their lives. The millennium generation, aged 18-29, experienced a 37% unemployment rate in 2010 according to Pew Research Center. This generation is leading the pack, driving shifts in how Americans think about business, technology and community. They have started their owned ventures with a different set of values from Wall Street. Their new set of values has also made companies reconsider the way they market to consumers.

Yesterday, I went to a conference featuring fellow Medill alumnus John Gerzema, author of “Spend Shift”. John conducted research across the country to understand the impact of the economic recession on peoples’ lives and on their buying behavior. Gerzema findings challenge the media’s presentation of public sentiment as depressed and pessimistic. Instead, he argues that the recession has s…