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Archive for January, 2011

The Medium and the Message in the Social Media Revolution

People continually ask how Micro-Scripts– the telling of a compelling story in about a sentence or less–fit in with the social media revolution? The answer is simple and if you’re a marketer, is ignored at your company’s peril.

Micro-Scripts don’t replace social media or any media. They’re not media. They are the message. The media is the pipe. Social media is an empty pipe when it comes to marketing– without a message about the difference you stand for that’s singular, unique and important. A crystal clear notion of what sets you apart.  Social media, Internet chatter and Youtube video views count as talk traffic. But a million page views can add up to not one extra sale, without a difference I can remember that’s a reason to buy. Finding and expressing that difference every day is the marketer’s and a CEO’s number 1 responsibility. Otherwise, like my boss at Ted Bates once said:” You can put a dancing bear in a pink tutu on the roof of your house, and the whole town will come out to watch. But no one is going to buy your house.”

A selling idea is and has always been the only idea whose time has come in the world of marketing. When you have one, social media can definitely help it get there faster.

Micro-Poem on a Plane

I was sitting next to a lovely elderly lady on the plan back from San Antonio. We started talking about Micro-Scripts. She said, you can do these in poems, too. Here’s the smallest poem ever written. It’s by Ogden Nash. Entitled, “On Fleas.” Here’s the poem:

Adam,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Had ’em.

I guess that says it all.   B

Eternal Marketing Battle–Real Gold vs. Fool’s Gold

The most famous of marketing adages: “I know I’m wasting half my ad budget. I just don’t know which half” has been attributed to about a dozen famous marketers since the last century. But its sardonic pith if anything is more relevant today. And judging by the ads we see and the frenzy over social media– the ratio is getting worse. Social networking promoted as though it were an end in itself is the biggest current vein of marketing fool’s gold. Focus on social media or any media out of all proportion to one’s message, is, well, out of proportion. It’ll be rectified soon enough because of the no-longer secret that there is no discernible ROI in having a massive Tupperware party, but not bringing the Tupperware. But a lot of budgets and careers will be wasted in the meantime. The power of an idea whose time has come will still vanquish anything in its path for those who still understand the common sense of the matter. A marketer’s #1, #2 and #3 job is to find the difference that makes the difference– the singular value that makes you the first choice everyday in your category. Without that, the mechanics of media alone are like an engine without gasoline. Won’t go anywhere.

The great advantage and great brands will go to the difference-makers. Always has, always will.

Social Media Reality 101: If You’re Not Differentiating, You’re Not Marketing.

A self described “social media heretic” told me furtively, for he did not dare to be overheard on the Internet: “So many marketers are desperate for answers these days, wondering where to focus. And the social media marketing people are basically telling them that Social Media is the focus, the marketing goal itself. It’s free and it goes to 100 Million people from your iPad! Just “join the conversation” do SEO (search engine optimization), keep on tweeting and soon you’ll be picked up everywhere!”

I’m going to say what he wanted to: If you’re investing in social media for marketing, but you are neglecting to differentiate yourself–not showing instantly and obviously why someone needs YOU vs.  twenty competitors, you might as well be chasing fool’s gold. A social media strategy alone is not a differentiation strategy, not a business strategy, a marketing, or a set-yourself-apart strategy. It’s a media strategy. A media strategy without a message is like bringing a Vuvuzela to a World Cup game. You’ll be loud but you won’t stand out much.

Many of those who make a living selling Social Media to business people say they do pay heed to the idea side of Marketing. They’ll remind you to have “killer content,” of course. Most famously, “Just make it remarkable. Now let’s get back to our blogs.” Finding and expressing your big difference is treated like an afterthought, when it should be the marketers #1 priority, always.

So remember that social media is called “media” because that’s what it is. It’s not your message. Though it’s amazing and revolutionary, it’s still just another pipe like TV. Unless you put a unique, important selling idea through the pipe, the media can’t deliver any ROI. It only can if you make an offer to do something no one else does. Give me a 5 word idea like “The Blanket that has Sleeves.” Or, The only shoes that breathe. Give it to me so I can remember and repeat it, and it goes top of mind when I have a need. Focus your energy on that, as you conduct your social media, and you’ll be holding real gold. Truer today than ever.

The grown-ups know this (P&G only spends about 5% on Social Marketing) do this (made from sugar so it tastes like sugar) and will whip your butt in the marketplace if you don’t. Differentiate before you talk or you’re wasting everyone’s time. Marketing is an eternal battle between fool’s gold and real gold. Now here’s the eternal truth: Only Differentiating along with your Social Media broadcasting, will get you to the real stuff.

My 2 Cents on “Fourbucks:” Starbucks logo change

When Starbucks (aka Fourbucks) changes their logo, the brand world treats it like celebrity magazines treat Lindsay Lohan’s latest court date. Big news. See Makeover for a Mermaid today in the Times. I will tell you that in spite of the expert/guru talk about all the reasons the change (dropping the name Starbucks and “allowing the mermaid to come out of the circle”) is brilliant for the brand, it won’t sell a single additional cup of coffee. Not one.

The real strategic reason was buried in the comments by their CEO who said: “the company is thinking beyond coffee.” There you have it. Howard Schultz has decided that if the company is going to sell frozen turkey dinners, or golf equipment, it can’t say “coffee” any more.

This type of literal corporate thinking is classic brand extension foolishness and will cause Jack Trout and Al Ries to roll over in their graves–and they’re not even dead yet! When the Starbucks brand thinks it no longer ought to stand for coffee–look out.

KFC is one of your more famous examples. They wanted their customers to suddenly forget what the FC meant, and think they might someday get garden salads, pizza and god knows what else at their favorite chicken joint. But rarely can happen that way. By the time your brand is that big, famous and beloved, it belongs to your customers and resides in their heads, not yours. And they don’t like change. KFC has retreated to some extent to its brand reality–THE CHICKEN PLACE–the brand they created and gave to the world. They’re not going to spend another billion dollars changing their signage back from KFC. But it says “Kentucky Fried Chicken” on every associate’s cap and uniform shirt.

Anyway– for years, if you went to any marketing conference, 50% of the speakers talked about two golden brands ad nauseum: Starbucks and Nike. They stopped fawning over Starbucks when their  star faded quite suddenly in the last few years. Turns out they weren’t the all knowing brand geniuses after all. What they mainly did was create a great, distinctive product at the right time, then they just showed up–on every other street corner in America. Didn’t need to advertise or even have a tagline in those days. Now they do. So what brand strategy have they unveiled? Now that they have competition from everyone from McDonalds to 7-11, it seems like “coffee” no longer needs to be on the logo. We can all wonder where the Starbucks wunderkinds will guide the brand now.