ROI and 2.0 don’t mix

I have to say, I agree with DJ Francis. The whole, “What’s the ROI of web 2.0 / Social media?” debate is a pointless one.

My two cents on the issue:

The ROI is in the learning – You’ll gain a whole chuck of return from the learning that you get from just being involved in social media. Return on Investment doesn’t always have to be a financial return on investment.

Marketing is no longer linear – It’s unconventional. You don’t just plug in a strategy and get results anymore. You list. You respond. You make mistakes. You learn. You try again. You keep trying.

Marketing, like it or not, can’t always be measured in a spreadsheet. It’s serendipitous. That’s not a bad thing.

You don’t need a strategy document to listen to your customers – At the end of the day, all of this social media stuff is just a vehicle hear what your customers are really thinking. And if that’s not part of your plan, you’re in trouble.

Social Media keeps you ahead of the game – The innovators didn’t wait around to see if their social media campaign delivered ROI. And as a result, they’re already ahead of the game. Take a brand like @Zappos. They’ve expermented succesfully with social media tools such as Twitter. And now they’re two steps ahead of everyone else.

Who says 1.0 tactics are working, anyway? – Before we start going after social media, let’s not forget that the traditional marketing approach isn’t exactly working its socks off. Does anyone think that Coca Cola actually generate ROI with a new bottle shape or any other futile marketing exercise?

It’s free! – You don’t even need to spend money on this. Just time.

So the question should no longer be, “Is it worth getting involved in Social Media”. The questions is, can you afford not to?

Where do you find the best online marketing blog posts for 2007?

Techipedia, that’s where.

Tamar Weinberg has put together a phenomenal list of over 250 blog posts from 2007, covering everything you need to know about marketing online. Blogging, social networking, viral strategies, social media – you name it.

Here it is – Truly a great list that will have you reading for hours.

2007 has been rather quiet here at my blog, and posting has been scarce. It’s been a busy year for me, changing jobs (on 2 occasions), getting married, buying a house and starting a business. Not sure if 2008 will be any calmer, but I hope to blog more in the new year. Thanks for reading!

Radiohead does honesty pricing

radiohead.jpgRadiohead are the latest to jump onto the concept of honesty pricing, something that I talked about a little while ago.

Their new album, In Rainbows, is bound to be a big seller. But not for the record companies. The band are selling it through their website for any price you like.

That’s right … You can buy their new album for any price you specify. It’s a strategy that will create massive word-of-mouth, while giving back to their fans. Almost everyone who even remotely likes the band will consider buying the album. And it might even turn a few 20 cent cheapskates into loyal Radiohead converts.

The other wonderful thing is that when you visit the site, it isn’t immediately clear that the chooser chooses the price. That is, you need to delve deeper into the site to find this out. Which makes it secretive. A discovery. Which in turn fuels the viral-ness (if there is such a word) of the exercise.
This, in my opinion, is a beautiful piece of marketing.

Facebook Tip#2 :: Listen

Facebook is the new and hip social media tool right now, just like blogs were before it.

But the rules of Facebook and blogging are the same – With social media, you need to listen before you talk. So before you commit to doing anything on Facebook – be it a group or application – you need to do some listening.

So start by doing a search for your brand on Facebook, just as you would a Technorati or Google search to see if anyone has been blogging about you? What do you find?

If you’re an evil company, like Exxon, you’ll find a lot of “Boycott Exxon Mobil” groups. If you’re a good company, like say, Cooper’s Beer, then you’ll find a real community of Coopers addicts.

It’s the same rules as Blogging 101, except that it’s another place online where you need to have your ear to the ground.

Second step is to engage in the conversation. If your customers know that you’re listening, and are prepared to take heed of what they have to say, you’re well on your way to knowing how to ride the choppy seas of Facebook and new marketing in general.

wispa.gif A good example of a big company that has listened to their customers on facebook is Cadbury. After seeing the petitions of thousands of Facebooks users to bring back their Wispa bar, they have done just that. I’m with Shel – I think that this is a very smart move by Cadbury. They have listened to their customers and responded accordingly (And have had a lot of positive press coverage as a result).

Sound familiar?

Modern Marketing Wrap-Up

Every now and then, I like to summarise what my key thoughts are marketing. Or, at least jot down a whole heap of big picture ideas about the world, and their implications on marketing.

So here goes for July 2007:

1. Green Marketing is a necessity.

  • The way that we’re living now is simply unsustainable. There will need to be some massive changes culturally, and a huge challenge for designers, marketers, people – all of us.
  • But Green Marketing has just begun. The Green tipping point has not yet arrived (I was wrong). Despite a huge amount of progress in 2007, Green marketing is still in it’s infancy.
  • Companies that have solid green marketing strategies in place are very much in the minority.
  • Business should be going green because it is the right thing to do. But also because it’s such a big opportunity.
  • And, hey, isn’t it a nice thought that we can use our skills for good rather than evil?

2. We’re moving away from a globalised marketing world. People were buying cheap, mass produced and mass marketed products, but that’s changing. Why?

  • Local is the key word – We’re moving back to see a return to localised production, reduced food miles, and avoiding excessive transportation (of products and ourselves).
  • Having said that, tiny business can promote themselves and sell over the world – known as the Global Microbrand – which means it is a great time for small businesses to thrive.
  • The Longtail – The internet brings with it unlimited distribution, so we’re not limited to the top-selling items anymore. Which leads to greater individualised tastes, the rise of niche markets and the ‘boutique generation‘.
  • The large corporations have a bad reputation – Consumers are preferring something produced locally than in a sweatshop in Asia.

3. Word of Mouth Marketing has always been good. These days it’s a whole lot better.

  • Traditional advertising doesn’t work like it used to. Nowadays people are better at avoiding it than ever before.
  • So we have to go back to Word of Mouth – recommendations from our friends and colleagues. It has always been way more powerful than advertising.
  • The internet speeds up the Word of Mouth process exponentially. Look at the current growth of social media (like Facebook for example). So if you can turn your customers into passionate fans of your brand, you’ll receive plenty of positive Word of Mouth.
  • Honest, authentic and socially responsible brands are the only ones that can win. It’s just too easy for us to spread negative word of mouth about unethical brands.
  • The bottom line: You can’t create a word of mouth marketing campaign unless you are word-of-mouth worthy.

4. Web 2.0 and the internet has changed the marketing game.

  • Marketing is longer one way, and a ‘broadcast marketing’ mentality is no longer working.
  • It’s now about having a conversation, whether on blogs, social networks, virtual worlds or even offline.
  • Consumers are so much more connected than ever before. Which means that top-down, dumbed-down marketing doesn’t really cut it. We need to be having two-way conversations with our customers. Or they’ll go elsewhere.
  • And we need to be developing communities with our customers.
  • Even better, why not co-create? It’s no longer just about listening and talking to your customers. Why not get them involved in creating and promoting your brand (take a look at what the Threadless guys are doing, or even Nikon’s recent efforts).
  • The rules change every week – This week it’s Facebook, next week it could be something else. But web 2.0 isn’t really about the newest website, it’s about connecting people. That’s where the true value of the internet lies.

5. At the end of the day, it’s just about being a ‘Nice Guy’

  • Big or Small, the businesses that are going to do well are those that act nice – ie socially, environmentally and ethically responsible.
  • Mass marketing forgot about the human voice. We’d much prefer to deal with humans than corporations, so brands that act human have a huge head-start.
  • Likewise, businesses that are always ‘Marketing’ are like people who always talk about themselves. Pretty Dull.
  • Is your brand a Nice Guy? If you met your brand at a party, what would you think of them?

6. ALL of these thoughts are inter-realated

  • A groundswell of people will connect, online and offline, and be part.
  • They will be using the web, and spreading ideas via word of mouth.
  • We will all be working together to move towards a sustainable existence.
  • Marketers can continue to be part of the problem, or they can be part of the solution.
  • So the future for marketing is to be honest, decent, transparent, and human.

7. What better time has there been to be involved marketing!

I’m serious about this last point. Who would have thought that an industry like marketing might just have a positive influence on the world?

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and comments about all this, as well as some ideas of your own. Don’t be shy – leave me a comment.

Friends with Facebook

There’s no doubt hottest thing online right now is Facebook. As I type, I’m sure that someone is either inviting you to join Facebook, adding you as their friend, poking you or writing on your wall.

For those who haven’t heard about Facebook, I’m willing to bet that you will have by next week. It’s the latest social networking phenomenon. What started as a website for American College students has now become the next big thing. This month, the number of Facebook users reached 30 million :: and that’s users who are visiting the site at least once a month.

What makes Facebook so addictive, and so viral, is that it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends, work colleagues and anyone else you know. God knows what it has done for workplace productivity, but if you want to connect with your mates and reconnect with old ones, Facebook is the place.

When someone says 30 million users, you can smell the marketers that are trying to cash in on the opportunity. Of course they are. But traditional marketing, via ‘banner advertising’, won’t work here – Valleywag has reported that Facebook is very poor performing, based on click through rates.

I’m not surprised. After all, Facebook is about the connections of friends. And when friends are connecting with friends, they’re not in a frame of mind to be advertised to.

In fact, an application like Facebook proves exactly what The Cluetrain Manifesto promised – that the internet isn’t another marketing channel, but a place for global conversation to thrive. Friends are connecting with friends on Facebook, and everywhere you go you can see that the human voice is alive and well.

So can Facebook be used as a marketing opportunity? And how does one tap into it?

I have a few ideas on the subject, which I’ll talk to you about soon.

PS – Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, is 23! Check him out here at the recent Keynote address that he did. Utterly inspiring and (for a 30 year old like me) totally depressing all at the same time.

Be Genuine

Today’s post is ripped completely from Brand Autopsy. It’s a quote by longtail extraordinaire Chris Anderson about being genuine:

“Genuine is an e-mail from a person rather than a company. If the lead singer of some band that I like sends out an e-mail to those of us who have registered our interest, that’s authentic in a way that a record label sending out an e-mail wouldn’t be. If the lead singer responds to his e-mail, that’s even better. A MySpace page is more authentic than a billboard. A blog is more authentic than a press release. It’s all about having a human voice and re-personalizing the connections.”

“The key is in catalyzing word of mouth. If consumers don’t trust institutions and do trust individuals, if they don’t want to be marketed at and do want to be influenced by their peers, how can marketers influence those influencers, those alpha peers? Some companies have done lots of experiments in this. There are fake blogs and fake viral videos and fake buzz marketing. It sometimes works, but if you’re busted, it turns into a PR nightmare.”

There’s nothing really new or surprising here. But from time to time, it’s nice to hear someone reiterate these thoughts.

Thanks John. And Chris. Quote via Deliver Magazine.