Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"iPod...Do You?"

I just returned from a weekend in LA. It's always fun to go to that fabulous West Coast entertainment mecca to see what's advertised as the latest and greatest.

Known for its entertainment glitz, I was struck by the large amount of outdoor advertising for iPods. Not only is the art phenomenal; as it sells the passion and emotion of owning the device, but it occured to me no other portable music player comes close to advertising the way Apple does for the iPod.

Most of us in marketing talk about 'blocking and tackling'; the basics involved in selling our products core virtues when we create outdoor advertising. In the iPods short life span, the famed 'white headphones' have become iconic in themselves. I find this fascinating on a couple of levels.

Apple assumes that putting an image of a body dancing, with the famed 'white headphones' automatically conveys the iPods essence. In fact, all of the walls and billboards I saw didn't even mention music, iPod features like the iTouch or even the iPhone. Each ad simply conveyed the 'freedom' of owning your own music.

Call me a gadgeteer, but I still own several early mp3 players, rio's, muvo's and early iPod shuffles. Today I listen to most of my music on my smartphone. But Apple still prevails as the #1 lifestyle music player.

Not many products can get away with the 'iPod' advertising assumption. Maybe Nike, Coke, Pepsi and a few others.

In each of those cases, the brand logo has become so deeply entrenched in our psyche that we can instantly recall the product.

What's more interesting is that compared to some of the aforementioned products, the iPod is the youngest; yet Apple's assumption is that we all do 'iPod'.

It gets me thinking about all the products I've worked for and how I collaborated with others to market and package them on television, in print and outdoor.

Never once do I believe that we would have ever said...'hey lets just put up the logo'...we were always obsessed with adding more information than just sticking to the basics.

Maybe Apple is right...less is more and just find images that sell the emotion rather than 'barking' our brands attributes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Everyone's A Star!"

If there is anything that social networking has done it's this. It makes everyone a star.

All the major television news outlets are touting 'viewer' video news, the social networks are exploding for both personal and business.

At the end of the day, the 'average' joe can become a star netting Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" in seconds.

Did you catch the first person video of the earthquake in China? Everyone in the world now has the ability to be part of the media process.

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article on a new company called Seesmic. They have created a blog plug-in that allows people to leave video comments. Now, instead of writing a can 'be' the post....simply brilliant. Be sure to sign up for the free alpha test! See it in action here!

What this fabulous innovation does is make social networking and blogging 'personal'. The internet has allowed many people to be veiled in anonymity...but the fact of the matter is...people love to hear and now SEE other peoples opinions.

I've posted alot about social networking 'trust' and 'authenticity' in the past weeks. If the saying "the eyes are the window to the soul" is really true...posting video blog comments is 'cinema verite".

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mobilenet....Live In The Palm Of Your Hand!

"Mobilenet" is now being touted as the next great technological innovation. If you're currently a smarthphone user, you're probably already living in this world to some extent.

However there are some innovations coming which are worth noting. Al Ries recently published an article in Ad Age called "Mobilenet Promises To Be The Next Big Medium".

Ries claims: "A MobiPhone with a 2D barcode scanner will enable consumers to get a wealth of information by scanning products in supermarkets, drugstores, clothing stores. "

He continues:

"It's easy to visualize what a useful device a MobiPhone could be if it is served by appropriate dot-mobi websites.
  1. Location of the nearest hotel/motel and the price of a room?
  2. Location of the nearest gas station and the price of gasoline?
  3. Location of the nearest restaurant by type and price level?
  4. What's the Parker number on that bottle of wine? (One of the many facts that might be available by simply scanning a label.)
What consumers can do with the receiving device is not the most significant aspect of the Mobilenet. More significant are the changes in structure the new medium will facilitate."

He comes to these conclusions based on this fact: "The potential Mobilenet marketplace dwarfs the internet. Last year more than 1.15 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide, compared to only 271.2 million personal computers.

In other words, more than four times as many mobile phones were bought than PCs. And, in my opinion, most consumers will find a GPS-equipped MobiPhone to be a device they can't live without. "

I've written before about how I have consolidated alot of my digital behavior onto my smartphone. I store 100's of songs on my 4 gig smartcard, use it as a photo and video camera, use the scheduler, surf the web (facebook included), listen to 1000's of streaming broadcast and internet radio stations and oh yeah...occassionally make a phone call!

The 'bar code" option is powerful. An instant scan and 'poof'' there's gratification! The key to all of this once again is battery life and screen size. Bandwidth will be less of an issue as devices go to 4G and and Wi-Fi/Wi-Max adoption. A France Telecom research team has already developed the first "m-ticketing services" and the screen shot is shown above.

All this is being supported by a massive build-out of high speed phone networks that won't even use a standard internet type connection. Sprint and Qualcomm are already using TV bandwidth to get programming to handsets.

In the last week alone, Nokia (which i'm a shareholder of) also made the statement that they are now trying to run themselves more like an 'internet' company than a 'handset manufacturer'.

Early on, ringtone sales we're driven by mobile use. Most ringtones were sold to kids who didn't own a PC. They'd use their phone as their personal computer. Now more and more business people are finding the same passion for the handheld device.

By the way...if you're a gadgeteer and have more than one iPod in your home...then you definitely need this handy little device to transfer music without a PC. MiShare allows you to send non DRM music from one ipod to another and it's only $99. Check it out here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"How Will You Spend Your Money?"

I'm a big fan of Forrester Research because they always seems to craft studies that mean something.

This latest effort "Social technology marketers bullish in face of recession" is not exception.

Josh Bernoff asks: "Assuming the economy is in a recession in the next six months, how would you change your investment in interactive marketing overall?"

Here are the results:
"Social networks will get the largest number of increases, over 40% of those using it, along with user-generated content, blogs, and that old standby, email marketing. Every single form of online marketing we surveyed had at least half the marketers increasing or maintaining their investment (online display ads fared the worst; based on this sample it could see more decreases than increases.)"

Email still fares pretty well. But here's the BEST piece of advice he offers: "Our advice to marketers, as describe in the report, is this: measure what you do, so you can justify it when the axe comes. And build assets, not campaigns, it's a better use of your money."

All too often we're focused on "campaigns" instead of "long term annuities" because of short term pressure. I wrote about a company early on called NCI Mobility.

Once again, I fall back to my take on 'what happens when the campaign is over' philosopy. NCI helps you do wireless data capture at events, sends the information back to a server in 'close' to real time and allows you te recontact event participants within 24 hours if you wish.

If you're going to spend time building an expensive marketing program do something to get the most out of it long term. If you build a great database...use it...keep it clean and develop a 'deep relationship' with your base customer.

I'm not shocked here about the increase in social network marketing either. It is a BIG buzz word as of late. My previous posts about 'trust' and 'authenticity' play right into this concept.

The biggest category for building a brand now is "user generated content". Once again, people trust the opinions of like minded people instead of some mundane advertisement forced on them.