A lazy person’s guide to online marketing

It goes something like this:

  • Find something cool on the internet
  • Sponsor the cool thing or buy advertising space around it
  • People will instantly associate your brand with said cool thing
  • Sales will go through the roof, because your brand is instantly cool too

Sounds too good to be true. That’s because it is.

Yet, that’s exactly what Absolut Vodka have done. I like the Absolut brand. Beautiful packaging. Tasty Vodka. And usually, very decent marketing campaigns too. Dare I say it, but Absolut are one of those brands that can trascend advertising. But not this time. Check out the video below:

Sure, the Improv Everywhere is, as always, great work. You could see why Absolut might want to associate themselves with them. But their advertising? L-A-M-E spells lame. It’s lazy. And frankly, I would have expected better from a brand like Absolut. You can just imagine how the boardroom conversation went:

“So Jones, what’s cool on the internet right now?”

“Well, Mr Thomas, our studies have shown that Improv Everywhere, the flash-mobbing group, is the coolest thing.”

“What’s Flash-mobbing, Jones?”

“Doesn’t really matter, Mr. Thomas. We just know that it’s very cool right now”

“Excellent. Great work Jones! Book some banner ads or something immediately.”

Good marketing online requires a little more work. You need to create a conversation, not just plug your latest campaign.

Their ‘Absolut World’ campaign isn’t a bad one. It’s just that they’ve treated online marketing like it’s any other channel. But guess what? It isn’t.

Twitterise … Shitterise

Today I learned about Twitterise, a Twitter Marketing tool that let’s you schedule messages for future publication, for sending out press releases, or advertsing messages.

It completely misses the point.

Here’s what their website says:

Twittertise allows you to advertise on Twitter and track the success of branded communications with your customers.

Using Twittertise you can schedule your communications on Twitter and using URL tracking technology measure the effectiveness of your traffic driving techniques on the platform.

So, what’s wrong with this message? Well, let’s pull it apart, shall we:

  1. “Twittertise allows you to advertise on Twitter” – They’ve got it wrong from the first sentence. Anyone who thinks Twitter is a vehicle for advertising doesn’t get it. Advertising does not belong here.
  2. “track the success of branded communications” – This phrase just feels slimey. The reason a brand would use Twitter shouldn’t be to track success, it should be to make connections with people. And what exactly does “branded communications” mean anymore anyway.
  3. “with your customers” – Twitter is a place for humans to talk to other humans. Start thinking of Twitter as a vehicle for “customers”, and you’re bound to turn them off.

Now on to paragraph 2:

  1. “Using Twittertise you can schedule your communications on Twitter” – Scheduling communications? So Twitterise is suggesting you should send out messages when you’re not online? Which, to me, sounds like spamming.
  2. “measure the effectiveness of your traffic driving techniques” – Wrong wrong wrong! You should never be posting tweets to drive traffic. And who even talks like this?

Now don’t get me wrong here. I use Twitter to announce news and offers on my site. I’ve got Twitter search feeds set up so that I can be alerted if you’re talking about me. I’m finding it to be an incredibly cool tool to keep in touch with customers, friends, and people I admire.

I’d recommend that big brands do the same. There are definitly good reasons for joining twitter.

But like any other social media tool, the 1.0 approach doesn’t work. It’s not about spamming. It’s not about measuring and tracking. It’s certainly not about driving traffic. It’s about real, human connection. It’s about conversation, individuality, personality.

So if your brand’s Twitter feed is being driven by an automated service, and not a real person, you don’t know a thing about what marketing is about anymore.

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!

Do you use del.icio.us?


I probably spend more time on del.icio.us than any other web application. Tonight, after almost 2 years of using it, I’ve just posted my 1000th link.

Do you use del.icio.us? From the about page:

del.icio.us is a collection of favorites – yours and everyone else’s. You can use del.icio.us to:

  • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes, and more, and access them from any computer on the web.
  • Share favorites with friends, family, coworkers, and the del.icio.us community.
  • Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite — they’ve already done the work of finding it. So del.icio.us is full of bookmarks about technology, entertainment, useful information, and more. Explore and enjoy.

del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website — the primary use of del.icio.us is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On del.icio.us, you can use tags to organize and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders.

Del.icio.us truly was one of the pioneering web 2.0 apps. I use del.icio.us to save links, but it’s also a great tool to search for anything on the web. It’s simple to use but stands the test of time. It has changed my life!
Check out my 1000 links if you have the time.

Way to go, Threadless

threadless.jpgEveryone’s favourite T-Shirt store, Threadless, have announced that they’ll be opening an offline store in Chicago in September.

They will be hosting a free concert/party at Metro in Chicago on September 14th to mark the event. And, according to psfk:

The store will cover two floors; the lower level offering Threadless retail and the upstairs serving as a mixed-use gallery space for showcasing works by winning Threadless designers, as well as occassional group critiques and design lectures. Digital Bootcamp will also be offering courses on design, art and programs in-store.

This is a great move for Threadless. I was yabbering recently about Etsy, who have done a top job in building a strong community online. But by adding an offline element, they’ve further strengthened the community that they’ve built.

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.

Online communities should also be offline

A good quote I stumbled across this morning:

“An online community is no substitute for real-world interactions. In fact, the most successful online communities are the ones that throw parties, sponsor events, host get-togethers — help members meet one another face-to-face in the real world.”

Craig Newmark, founder, Craigslist interviewed by Fast Company, November 2000. (Via Make Marketing History)cupcakesetsy.gif

I think this is spot on.

Etsy.com are a terrific case of this. Etsy.com is a terrific online art and craft community. But offline, they host events, parties and workshops, attend craft fairs and even give out free cupcakes. Etsy spend a lot of time giving back to their community in the offline world, as well as online.

Does anyone else have any good examples?

UPDATED: Etsy’s own words on community (great post)