Archive for November, 2008

The Future (Forward) Is Now

Some of the best and brightest from the worlds of technology, higher education, sports and entertainment and venture capital are gathered today at Future Forward ’08 retreat at the Henderson House in scenic Weston, Mass. The conversations, predictions, admissions and humor shared by the 100+ “forward-thinkers” is equal parts compelling, insightful, informative and believe it or not, uplifting.

Here are a few tidbits gleaned from the panel discussions:

Future of social networking – the questions were asked on this topic included – is it a generational phenomenon? Will today’s power users stick to it, or is this a kid phenomenon? Will they outgrow it?

Stephen Vinter of Google: “I think we tell our kids that the world will be more collaborative, and then chide them for playing on Facebook. This is the first instantiation of how people interact. The Internet’s impact on the election was groundbreaking and social networks are the first generation of that. It will explode and permeate a far greater world than the walled gardens we see now. It is not about age.”

Jennifer Chayes of Microsoft: “Our studies show that interactions that teenagers have in the real world are being replicated in the virtual worlds. We are seeing the new online social behavior replace old behaviors in the real world. The Web has become the new mall. I don’t see it changing. Social networks will evolve with kids. As they get older, the size of their social networks might get smaller but will get stronger. They will not abandon it when they get out of school and get a real job.”

Social Media – can it be monetized?

Lauren Bigelow of WeeWorld (full disclosure – BluePoint client): “The younger set networks more visually through avatars and they want more than the text of Facebook. There is a generational difference of teens vs. other demographics. Youths are very focused on the brand, clothes, etc. that define them. They are willing to experiment through visual objects. The monetization aspects are very real in the virtual world.”

“No question it can be monetized.” – Microsoft’s Chayes.

East Coast trends – what is happening here?

Scott Kirsner, the East coast: after dominating in the enterprise and telco spaces for the past few decades is starting to ‘get it’ in terms of consumer and SMB markets – witness Carbonite and Constant Contact.

Marketing – what matters most? what matters now?

Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot: “Your next marketing hire should be half ‘old school’ marketer and half content creators.”

Bill Lucchini of Intuit: “Your marketing people better have a clue about what your product does.”

Mobile advertising market – John Landry of Lead Dog Ventures: ”Mobile advertising… the two words are scary when put together.”

VC investment trends – David Friend of Carbonite : “The VCs are starting to see the advantages of investing in a company with a recurring revenue streams. But here on the East coast, they are not going to invest in a consumer oriented company that has not proven itself.”

Branding/naming – David Friend, when asked if he concerned that George Lucas might sue him for using the name Carbonite. “I hope he does. The publicity would be awesome.

Off the Wagon. The Social Media Bandwagon, that is.

Today’s iMedia Connection featured a great contributed piece called “Six Stupid Marketing Mistakes.” The article made many interesting points, but there is one over arching theme that really applies to B2B marketers: Too often, companies try to jump on the bandwagon and execute marketing efforts without really thinking about if it’s the right thing to do. This is especially true in today’s “We’re (fill in the blank) 2.0! It’s gotta be interactive! Let’s start a social network! There is no such thing as oversharing!” world. But in reality, marketers need to know when to embrace a trend, and when to not get on the wagon at all.

The Facebooks and Twitters of the world weren’t started with us in mind, but they’ve quickly evolved to be a powerful marketing tool – for some. But just because these tools work for one brand, doesn’t mean they are appropriate for yours. And if you are going to use them, use them the way there were meant to be used!

For example, there are a lot of brands using Twitter as a communication vehicle (don’t believe me? Just check out this far from complete list!). This can be an effective tool, but when used the correctly. Some brands set up Twitter accounts months ago, and have not made a single update since. Or tweat about irrelevant subjects not related to their brand or their space. Or when they do, only broadcast one-way messages like “We just launched anew website.” Imagine the negative impact this might have on a brand’s reputation!

The bottom line is that many marketers treat social media as a short-term campaign, but it should be thought of as a long-term commitment and a business strategy. If you’re building your own network, it better be adding value and offer something that the big guys don’t. If you’re using Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or others as a marketing tool, make sure you’re using them for the right reason, in the right way and talking to the right audience.

Brand marketing and power of aspirational messaging

(Photo credit: Flickr DJBrianE)

As a marketer, I have been watching the development and execution of Obama marketing campaign with awe. This presidential campaign was the first in my memory to be marketed as if it were a corporate brand. Everything from the backdrops on stage to the well-chosen typeface on the signs held by fans has been just right. The use of the Obama logo was also powerful. In fact I didn’t realize I had been seeing a logo, until I saw it spray-painted on someone’s lawn with no supporting text, and immediately knew its meaning.

Another key to the success of this campaign, as a brand, was their aspirational messaging. The Obama campaign sold hope and change, not a man or a simple solution. They aimed to inspire others to look higher and dream big. The sign I saw held by supporters most frequently read “Change we can believe in”, with a subtle “Obama 08” at the bottom.

It’s often hard to build aspiration into a marketing campaign, and we can often get lazy and just settle for “motivational” or “actionable”. This success story, while perhaps not directly applicable to your work, should motivate you to get back to basics. What are you marketing, what is the value? Is there value? What does your brand aspire to be or to provide? How can you communicate that effectively? Does the name you just chose for your client’s new company really aspire to something? Can you back that up?

I have to admit, in full disclosure, that my interest in the Obama campaign reaches far beyond marketing. To me, this election represents a shift in the American psyche; it represents new opportunities for my husband, and his family in Haiti. Most of all, it represents an America that I’ve always hoped was possible for my 6-month-old daughter. My vote was for her.

— Posted by Liz Moise

The Time (To Get To Work) Is Now!

No matter how you voted, no matter what you thought of Obama and McCain’s campaign strategies and tactics, no matter the color of your skin or your state and no matter how you are feeling this morning about whether “your guy” won or lost, you have to feel energized, excited and blessed about being part of history last night. Not since 9/11 have we witnessed such patriotism and pride among our people.

Here’s hoping for a few things.

1) That race relations can take a quantum leap forward under the Obama administration.
2) That the leaders – and the common men and women – of this country can be galvanized and that America once again find its sense of urgency to win and regain and retain its position of global leadership.
3) That the engine that drives not only the U.S. economy, but the entire world will get a boost, not for a few hours or days but for the foreseeable future.
4) That the sense of fear, uncertainty and doubt – and paralysis –that has gripped this great nation the past few months will be swept away by this New Day in America.

There’s no doubt that many serious social, political and economic challenges remain, but if last night’s election tells us anything, with a lot of faith, commitment and hard work they can be overcome. Onward!

Presidential Nominees Evolve from Individuals into Brands

Election Day Countdown: 0.

Like many of you out there, I am excited to find out who the next President of the United States will be. It has been a long and interesting road since both Barack Obama and John McCain declared they would be running for office this year. As a young voter it has been interesting to see how both candidates have run their campaigns because voters are no longer just voting for an individual, but rather for their favorite brand.

As funny as it sounds, Obama vs. McCain can now be compared to other brand battles like Coca Cola vs. Pepsi or Microsoft vs. Apple. Ask anyone you know whether they prefer a Big Mac from McDonalds or a Whopper from Burger King and in most cases the responder will fervently tell you which brand they prefer and why.

It’s uncanny to preference of politicians isn’t it?

To further prove my point, in a recent Advertising Age article, Team Obama was selected as “Marketer of the Year,” by a group of CMOs at the Association of National Advertisers. Team Obama beat out big brands such as Apple, Coors, Nike and yes, even John McCain made the list (barely).

In years to come, will future marketing students be reading case studies on how Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election through a viral-social networking-grass roots campaign?

I guess we will find out in a few hours!

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