Category Archives: Advertising

Twitter for all

I attended Marketing Week Live last week (26/06/2013).

The first presentation was by a man who works for Twitter.

He was a big fan of Twitter.

Engage this.

Content that.

You name it, he had a cliché for it.

One of his big success stories was that of Oreo.

During the Superbowl 2012 was a power cut.

As you’d expect, the lights went out.

Being night-time, it was dark.

Within half an hour Oreo had tweeted:

“You can still dunk in the dark” – accompanied by a picture of an Oreo cookie in the dark.

Very good, they managed to turn that around quite quickly.

To date it has had more than 15,000 retweets and so is officially a success story.

Is it going to help them sell more Oreo cookies? You be the judge.

At the end of the sales pitch talk was a short Q&A session.

One plucky audience member asked this:

You have spoken about how big brands have used Twitter to successfully market themselves…

Can it work for a small company? Something like a local concrete laying company?

After stringing some words together in no discernible order the man from Twitter concluded by sitting firmly on the fence.

In effect, he tried his best to not say “no”.

So in effect, he was saying “yes”.

There’s a challenge for you.

Market a local concrete company on Twitter.

Ok, so there will probably be a smart-arse who makes something go viral – like a blog about strange things you can do with concrete.

But that isn’t going to sell the stuff, it will just make teenagers laugh.

And it can only be done once, it’s not an industry changer.

So there is the problem with social media marketing.

It can and does work from time to time.

But there is a majority group of marketeers who are too obsessed with it.

They feel that it is simply ridiculous to think that it won’t work in some scenarios.

This attitude rubs off on many businesses who begin to question whether they should have a Twitter account.

The man from Twitter did nothing to fix this problem.

He knew that Twitter is perhaps not the tool of choice for a local concrete company.

But he couldn’t bring himself to admit it.

Sometimes it’s ok to say ‘no, it probably won’t work’.

Sometimes you have to admit, Twitter is not for all.

How to get people to queue

People don’t queue at bars.

They linger.

The bar becomes a flat structure where the only way to signal your turn is to make eye contact with the bar tender.

When the bar is busy, this tactic can prove to be thirsty work.

People with large personalities tend to get served quicker than those who are less imposing.

Despite the injustice of the whole system, people will not form a conventional queue.

So, if this was a marketing problem here is the brief:

How do you stop punters either A. leaving or B. fighting each other as a result of the frustration that comes from trying to get a drink at a busy bar?

The obvious route to go down would be to increase the speed at which you serve drinks.

Although this could help, you are putting yourself into a game that you cannot control.

If the bar gets especially busy you may become overwhelmed and end up missing someone out.

Or what if the beer runs out and you need to change the barrel?

Counting the change that the local who lives next door gives you is an unforeseen burdon.

You see, the speed at which people are served once the bar tender gets to them is not the problem.

So to answer the brief we need to find the real problem.

If people end up leaving or fighting the biggest effect to the bar owner will be loss of revenue.

All of the time your customers spend leaving and fighting is time that they cannot spend giving you money in exchange for drinks.

That is where the genius of a beer festival I attended last week comes in.

Each stall selling beer would not accept cash.

Instead, thirsty punters were required to purchase beer tokens at a separate kiosk.

People don’t queue at bars, but they do at a kiosk.

This meant that an orderly queue was formed at the kiosk whilst each bar could concentrate on serving drinks only.

The beer festival answered the true brief.

How do you continue to take money in exchange for drinks during periods of extreme busyness at a drinking establishment?

The owners of the beer festival spotted the true problem and then they played a game in which they could control the odds and win.

That is creativity.

Turning a problem into a solution.

Getting drunk people to form an orderly queue to give you money.

Brand share vs. market growth in e-commerce

There are two types of advertising that a brand can do:

Brand share or market growth.

If you are the market leader you will often want to do market growth advertising.

Ie. your aim is to grow the size of your market.

If you are not the market leader you will want to do brand share advertising.

Ie. growing your share of the market that already exists.

To carry out a market growth strategy when you are not the market leader can be a fruitless exercise.

To prove why, let’s for the sake of argument say that Coca-Cola has 75% share of the cola market whilst Pepsi controls the remaining 25%.

Market growth vs brand share

This is why it would be a silly idea for Pepsi to focus on a market growth strategy:

Market growth advertising

The grey area represents how the market has grown (the circle is now bigger) after a market growth advertising strategy.

Although Pepsi has gained some new customers and grown as a result (light-grey), Coca-Cola has grown by three times the amount (dark-grey).

The correct approach for Pepsi to take is to practice brand share marketing:

Brand share marketing strategy

Using a brand share strategy, Pepsi is able to take customers away from Coca-Cola – not only do they gain ground but their competition loses some share.

To be a non-market leader and to grow the market is to hand new customers to your market leading rivals and can be the precursor to downfall.

That is why kitchen towel advertisers don’t convince you that you need kitchen towel, they instead tell you why their brand of kitchen towel is much more absorbant than any other brands available.

Using this thinking in e-commerce

This style of thinking doesn’t (or shouldn’t) just apply to advertising, it should be used in other forms of marketing.

An e-commerce website should not be solely focussed on convincing its visitors that they need to buy its product.

It should instead be telling its visitors why they should buy the product from them instead of their rivals. Their rival will often be the likes of Amazon and Ebay – both have market leading credentials.

If a small e-commerce website does a fantastic job of providing exciting information about a product but does not do a good job of giving reasons to buy from them instead of their rivals it is too easy for the customer to default to the market leader to fulfil the purchase.

Reasons can include:

  • Price
  • Security
  • Speed of service
  • Quality of service
  • Familiarity

The trick of the small e-commerce site is to convince the website visitor that what they offer is better than their (often bigger) rivals.

The small e-commerce website must identify a game that their market leading rival is not playing and then win that game.

If you are too good at getting people interested in buying the product (market growth) but are not very good at selling yourself as the place to buy (brand share) you will be handing customers to your rivals.

Sadly, much of the battle is lost on price when it comes to e-commerce, but customers can be swayed.

A good brand share strategy should focus on shouting about simple promises that can be kept.

Customers should understand that you guarantee next day delivery.

They should understand that you are officially endorsed by the product maker to supply their best products.

Amazon makes it hard for customers to speak to a real person: you can guarantee that it is very easy to speak to a real person.

The brand share strategy that you offer depends on who you are.

The important thing is that you put most of your energy into telling people reasons to buy from you instead of your rivals.

Take from the e-commerce market that already exists, don’t get hung up on growing it.

In Out

Last week (29/05/2012), SEOmoz rebranded to Moz.

The change was announced using one of the things that made the brand so successful in the first place: a blog post.

The headline news of the post is that Moz is pinning its hopes on ‘inbound marketing’ as opposed to ‘interruption marketing’.

Accompanying the piece is this ‘infographic':

Interruption and Inbound Marketing

Here are a few points of interest:

  • Moz has a vested interest in the successful uptake of ‘inbound marketing’ because its new analytics package will allow you to measure it.
  • ‘Inbound’ is “powered by creativity, talent, & effort” – Are advertising and other ‘interruption’ techniques not?
  • TV, radio and print ads are “responsible for <10% of clicks on the web” – hardly a KPI for offline advertising success.
  • The whole thing is suspiciously thin on the ground in terms of success metrics – which types of marketing brings results?
  • Interruption (the word) is inherently negative.

Considering these points, the graphic above begins to resemble a piece of (not very creative) propaganda.

I am all for the progression of the online marketing industry but not at the expense of other types of marketing.

To automatically dismiss advertising and other forms of ‘interruption’ marketing is to miss a trick.

Then there is the issue of ‘inbound’.

Here is some gumpf from a Moz video about what they do:

“It’s connecting and being responsive on social media and knowing how those interactions pay off…

…and it’s knowing when and where customers are talking about your brand so you can engage them in meaningful conversations.

Moz analytics makes it possible to measure and improve all of your inbound marketing efforts on one platform.”

Phew, I bet all brands have been waiting for a way to engage their customers in meaningful conversations.

Who cares about selling them stuff and providing customer care when you can have a meaningful chat with them?

I’ve lost count of the times I have said “why isn’t there a platform that makes it possible to measure and improve my inbound marketing efforts?”

Despite including ‘transparency’ as one of its ‘core values’, I’d argue that Moz’s use of indulgent language is exactly the opposite of transparent.

Moz certainly offers one of the best resources for online marketers but its leaning towards unproven trends is worrying.

Can you imagine selling ‘inbound marketing’ to your clients? For now, I will continue to work in online marketing.

Everton and Liverpool

Everton and Liverpool are two football teams based in Liverpool.

As you can imagine, the rivalry is fierce.

Blue vs. red.

One side of the city vs. the other side.

But there is one place where one of the clubs has used creativity to become the clear victor.

Everton decided to open a new club store in one of the city’s premiere shopping centres.

The club had to choose a name for the store.

They already had The Everton Store at their stadium.

So they decided to change the name of their original stadium store to Everton One.

Making the new store Everton Two.

Nothing particularly clever in that.

Until you consider what the shopping centre is called.

Liverpool One.

So the address on every piece of advertising is:

Everton Two, Liverpool One.


NB: For this an similar stories I recommend you have a read of

Companies in orbit

Bob Hoffman, AKA the Ad Contrarian wrote a storming piece this week about how stupid people in business can’t do too much harm.

That’s because the companies that they work for have already achieved orbit.

That could be the reason why rash, social media driven decisions, no matter how misguided tend not to destroy companies completely.

Take PepsiCo for example.

In 2010 they launched the Pepsi Refresh Project that saw them divert most of their Pepsi advertising budget towards social media, most notably at the expense of their Super Bowl ad spot.

The project was an unrivalled failure and was clearly the product of a stupid person.

Despite losing some ground (-5% market share), things aren’t too bad for PepsiCo, they are still selling pop.

Despite making a decision that would have killed a lesser brand, consumers are on the whole oblivious to any change.

That’s because PepsiCo is in orbit.

As Hoffman explains:

“With enough energy, a satellite will escape the gravitational pull of earth and will achieve orbit. Once it achieves orbit, it operates on its own. It will circle under its own power for years. And the only way to knock it down is to get in its way.”

Businesses are the same.

PepsiCo and the brand Pepsi has so much history, so much advertising success and the weight of so many customers that they have achieved orbit.

PepsiCo has broken free from the gravitational pull of the world and has been orbiting for a long time.

It would take something catastrophic to take it down.

The governments of the world banning brown fizzy drinks would probably do some damage.

A stupid marketing executive isn’t that powerful though.

They can redirect the entire marketing budget to social media for a year and not worry too much about destroying the company.

So next time you see a big company do something rash, don’t just assume that it is a good idea because a big company ‘wouldn’t just do something stupid without having good research’.

Chances are it is a bad idea, just not bad enough to knock them out of orbit.

Nothing is new

Everything creative you think of has been done before.

Stop fighting it, you won’t win.

Someone better than you did it first.

And then someone else did it again.

You are just repeating the cycle.

No matter how hard you try, nothing you do will be new.

Although this sounds like a desperate situation, it really isn’t.

Dave Trott champions predatory thinking.

Predatory thinking is about changing your perspective on a problem and only solving the part that you need to in order to reach your goal.

In practice, this means beating your competition instead of achieving perfection.

Trott tells the story of two men walking through the jungle being stalked by a tiger.

One of the men laces up a running shoe whilst the other scoffs: “you will never outrun a tiger”.

To which the other man replies; “I don’t need to, I just need to outrun you”.

The goal is to not get eaten.

Beat your competition and you achieve your goal.

And so back to creating something new.

To create something genuinely new is perfection.

It is hard and in most cases impossible – like outrunning a tiger in the jungle.

But why even bother?

True creativity is taking something that exists and showing it to a new audience.

To the new audience the thing will be new.

You know it isn’t, but they don’t.

One of the best examples of this is in music.

Pendulum is an Australian dance / rock music act.

They used to make run of the mill dance music.

To a seasoned dance fan’s ear the music was the same old thing they had heard before.

The true creativity of a band like Pendulum was to go chasing the affections of rock music fans.

They appeared in Kerrang magazine and played at rock festivals.

To rock fans, Pendulum’s music was absolutely new.

Yet the music isn’t new, the fans are.

But the fans don’t know that.

The band gets hailed as trailblazers by one camp and copy cats by another.

But at the end of the day they achieve their aim: sell lots of CDs.

Nothing is new, but your audience doesn’t know that.

Hash Tag New A-Class

There is a new advertising campaign that is blighting my prime-time TV viewing at the moment.


The campaign is advertising the new Mercedes A-Class.

Weighing in at an on-the-road price of £18,970.00 the advert poses this opportunity: “you drive the story”.

That’s nice, although I am a little unsure what the story is.

The advert on television features rapper-turned-actor, Kano along with some brooding, spy-drama music and lots of suggested peril and antiheroism.

It is all rather exciting, intriguing and appealing to young people.

My question is; why?

All of the research suggests that the new car market, particularly in the Mercedes price range is dominated by people who are old enough to have worked for longer than 5 years and saved enough money to survive 2.4 children and the property ladder.

As the fantastic Bob Hoffman points out: “Half of all consumer spending is done by people over 50″.

Which begs the question; why is Mercedes wasting time creating a Twitter (hash tag) friendly advertising campaign for a product that is only attainable in any real volume to a much older market?

This, to me, is proof that even the large companies can make massive mistakes.

It is easy to assume that a company as well known as Mercedes knows exactly what it is doing.

The facts seem to point in the other direction.

As Dave Trott said in a talk I saw him do, it is wrong to write off an advertising campaign because ‘I don’t like it’. I don’t like the Go Compare opera-buffoon adverts, but I accept that they are extremely effective.

So, in the case of the garish Mercedes A-Class campaign I won’t say I don’t like it (I don’t), instead I will say that it is ineffective and destined to fail.