Monthly Archives: October 2010

The “Green” spin comes to your bathroom

I heard an interesting story yesterday on the radio about Kimberly-Clark’s Scott brand going more “green.” The toilet paper industry is a $9 billion industry, but innovation has been limited to 2 or 3 ply, “softer” paper and cuddly puppies and bears telling us why their preferred choices should be our #1 toilet paper.

However this week Scott has found a way of making sustainability and green a center piece of their product development and marketing efforts – the tubeless toilet paper!  According to Scott every year there are:

  • 17 million toilet paper tubes created
  • Accounting for 160 million pounds of trash
  • All that trash placed end to end would reach the moon and back…twice

That is a lot of trash! Granted, what Scott does not provide is how much money they will be saving by not having to source, produce or purchase the cardboard tubes. Assuming this has not drastically impacted their manufacturing process, they will reap some financial gains through the savings and have gained some priceless marketing buzz by being more “green.”

Lesson learned – marketers should always find a way to latch on to macro level themes that can be adopted for your marketing and business efforts.

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The Walkman retires at 30

Sony has finally retired the venerable Walkman. What a long and memorable trip it has been for what has become an iconic image of the 1980s and a device that has revolutionized music, technology and our lives. Today we get our music via our laptops, smartphones, tables, sunglasses and various versions of MP3 players – you can get an MP3 player for less than $30 at CVS now! With music moving wholeheartedly into the digital age, is it any surprise that getting our music on tapes is no longer a viable business model?

With this retirement ceremony, we should reflect on all that the Walkman has done. For those of you old enough, do you remember how we listened to our music prior to the Walkman? I sort of remember…first it was not portable, unless you consider a boom box as portable. It certainly was not personal, the aforementioned boom box was not intended to keep the music personal and private! Or we could listen in our cars or at home on our refrigerator sized stereo. The main form factors were either the vinyl record or the tape…some tried the 8 tracks.

When Sony came out with the Walkman they were introducing a new product category, and while we could not imagine not having portable music, at the time represented a leap of faith that the device would sell. Did it ever. The notion of portable entertainment was revolutionized by the Walkman. Sony taught us that we could have our music and radio with us at all times, as long as we had fresh batteries we could always put our headphones on and “tune” out the world and enjoy our entertainment. What can be delivered and transported in one’s device has only expanded – who would have thought 10 years ago you could have an app that would monitor your personal training regiment?

Today we all expect to be able to carry our entertainment in a portable device, we have Sony and the Walkman to thank for starting this revolution. Happy retirement!

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Marketing humor from Dilbert

Sometimes humor hurts….

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Social marketing strategy…don’t forget the press releases!

Marketing via Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Communities, MySpace, Second Life, YouTube, iTunes, Slideshare….etc etc…the list goes on of social media outlets that we are told we must be involved in if we are in the marketing game. But what about the old press release? Does that communication piece no longer matter?

In the “old” days that was a wonderful way of communicating with the market, sending signals to your customers, prospects, influencers, competitors, partners and any one else who had a wire service. One would have to fax documents, ensure we ended the release with ### and write the reverse triangle…this all seems so dated so 20th century in the days of RSS feeds, social tagging, email, twitter, facebook, Linkedin and the myriad of other social media distribution tools.  However, the press release remains a powerful distribution tool for companies to get their message out.

The press release should be an integral part of your social media strategy.

  1. Press releases continue to be a practical method to get news out to the market – with both domestic and international reach. Granted there remains a cost to leverage Press services, but the reach they provide remains wide ranging and a good ROI.
  2. The press release is a powerful tool to help your SEO – as long as you properly hyperlink the release. Have a boiler plate – include the url to your site – why? Once the press release goes out the search engines will recognize the links back to your site…helping your search results.
  3. The press release allows you to give readers a reason to come to your site or blog, think about the traffic you can push back to your social media hubs – the web site and blog – by simple sending out a press release.
  4. Press releases remain a powerful tool to educate your market of important business news: financial information, mergers, acquisitions and new customer acquisition to name a few. Coupled with the array of social marketing tools you have a powerful arsenal of channels to distribute your business message.

So when you get all jazzed up about a new blog, using Twitter, posting on Facebook…do not forget about the old reliable press release to get your news out to the market.

It will help your social marketing efforts as well!

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Facebook’s biggest fear – privacy

Yes yes yes, I know I posted earlier that Privacy is dead…but it can still damage or even take down your business if not handled properly. Which is what we are seeing in the most recent privacy snafu from Facebook. Of course the social media giant is distancing themselves by blaming third party apps for the abuse of their users’ data – games like Farmville are supposedly pulling data from the users and re-purposing it for other business goals.

Not really a surprise. Let’s face it, the underlying value of these social networks and games is to be able to better construct a profile of users – there habits, interests and potential for spending money. As a marketer, one is always trying to better understand the end customer so we can ensure the right product gets to them at the exact right time when they are ready to make a purchase. Social media has given us another channel from which we can derive this information. Facebook knows this, as do their app developers.

The question becomes, when does that invisible line get crossed? Is it taboo to allow firms to purchase and build a profile of users based on their leveraging habits of social media tools? Should their be a disclaimer on everything we do on line? (btw I do not aggregate or even look at the profile information of those that read my blog!) Or should we, as cyber users, take it for granted that our information is being used somewhere and somehow to build our profiles…and we will be receiving better targeted and on message marketing and promotional materials?

In the non cyber world we are all accustom and aware that our names are on “lists” that can be bought and sold – you signed up for a catalog from JCrew…guess what? Brooks Brothers, the Gap, and other clothing retailers just purchased your address and you will be receiving their nice catalog in the mail. We have grown accustom to this in the real world….we better get accustom to it in cyber space as well. Does not mean we have to like it, there should always be simple opt out options from email, but we are already in that world.

Get used to but check your Facebook privacy settings as well!

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Online communities, necessary but better metrics needed to measure success

One topic I found interesting at JiveWorld10 was all the discussions and presentations about communities.  Companies from RIM to Charles Schwab gave some great examples of how they were leveraging Jive Software to develop and manage their communities. However, what was interesting was the fact many of the discussions revolved around the total number of community members and the raw overall growth of the community. Too often what was showcased was the eyeballs that the community had captured. Smelled too much like 1999 when we would hear companies tell us (when I was at Forrester Research) of how many eyeballs they had hitting their web site, how they were growing at such a pace and that they would reach a critical mass of eyeballs…but what did that really mean?

Does it matter if your community has thousands of members, but what are they doing with their community? Similar to the late 1990s this smells like a land grab strategy – go out and grab the eyeballs and then figure out what to do with them. This did not work in the late 90s and it certainly will not work in today’s business. More than ever our cyber attention span is pulled thinner and thinner. At the same time, joining communities and other cyber groups are easier and easier, one or two mouse clicks and voila you are now part of ABC community or XYZ network. You will get push emails or text messages on a regular basis and what will you do? Most likely ignore them. So what does that mean for the company looking to leverage that community?

So we need to measure and highlight better measures for the success and value of a community. Could you leverage financial ratio type measures? Why not? No one looks simply at overall revenue when looking at a company’s finances, that would not give a good overview of the health of a business…I am sure I would have great revenues if I gave everyone a brand new dollar bill for $0.50 back in return, too bad my margins and business would not be so healthy. Ratios like inventory turns or ROI or ROA to measure the health of our business – why not have similar ratios to the health of our communities?

A ratio of unique comments over total members – your community might only have 70 members but have a high rate of comments and discussions. Or percent of members that are active – who have start a conversation or commented over a certain time span. Potentially member click through per postings.

Bottom line, if you are a community manager think about how to  better measure the success and impact of your community. Simple membership numbers is akin to only looking at a company’s revenue figure, does not tell you the true health and success of your organization.

Remember – revenue is vanity, profit is sanity. Determine how that works for your community

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Social media – put different tools in different buckets

I was following a Twitter discussion tonight – #techchat run by MarketingProfs.  What was interesting was the discussion hinged around what social tools are most leveraged – twitter, facebook, linkedin, slideshare to name a few. What struck me was we need to take a more refined look at these tools. What do I mean by this?

Web sites, Slide Share and Blogs – they are the content buckets. They are the tools that will hold and generate the heavy amounts of content the real meat of your social marketing.These are the destinations for potential visitors to come and have a chance to engage at a deep level with our organization.

Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin – they are the hooks. While the last two sites can clearly contain more content than Twitter but they should all be viewed as hooks, with a little bit of content as the bait to pull visitors back to the heavier content tools mentioned above. Clearly you will need to have unique content to act as the bait to be leveraged via these social tools, but again they needed to be seen as attracting the visitor back to the content buckets.

I realize this is not rocket science, but too often I listen to social media talk where we mix all of these tools into the same discussion rather than thinking which are our hooks and which are our destinations. When putting together your social marketing plan make sure you think about how to use the hooks to get visitors back to your content hubs.

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