Thursday, February 26, 2009

Just What The World Needs...

Most probably, the world does not need another video, whatever its content. On the other hand, your website, blog, or Facebook page may. Whatever the product or purpose behind the site, video may be better than text, colors, or static images to communicate emotion and affect.

Of course video can inform and instruct, but it can also convey what customers feel about your product. But if you make industrial solvents (or any other product not likely to be featured on Oprah). Show Customer Success. Whatever your product, customers buy it to solve a problem or obtain a benefit.

For example, your video might include engineers delighted that your ball bearings enabled then to design an engine, which powered a safer airplane. Honda’s Dream The Impossible is a current example.

Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott reports that including video content on a page tends to improve its search ranking on Google, though not on Yahoo or MSN. Moreover his research found that

"videos stand a much better chance than your text pages of being shown on the first results page."

Short form video does not have to be expensive. Some rather rough home videos, or user generated content, UGC, in current jargon, have achieved a substantial audience. If you already have too much to do, spending a few hundred to a few thousand on an experienced videographer is money well spent. If your total budget is $100, then don’t be afraid to get a basic Flip video camera and give it a try. You could also use third party content or make a video from still photos and narration.

Once you have suitable video, upload to video sharing sites such as YouTube, AOL video, Flickr, Vimeo. Video sharing sites also enable you to embed video links in rich text email. Further you can syndicate your video across multiple sharing sites through a service such as Tubemogul.

Have you budget for a director's beret?

Monday, February 16, 2009

An Unstimulating Stimulus

Congress has passed a Stimulus plan. It is supposed to revive the economy and reduce unemployment by inducing people to buy more than they otherwise would in these lean times. The plan is a mixture of tax cuts and federal spending. Together they will provide more money to many consumers.

To my knowledge no marketers were consulted in assembling the stimulus, yet getting folks to buy is what we do. As a marketing strategy this Stimulus is, at best, incomplete. There are no specific incentives for consumers or businesses to spend their additional funds. Thus some will be saved, some wasted, and the rest spent.

The cumulative effects of the Stimulus related spending, do not seem to have been rigorously modeled. The desired outcome of 3.5 million jobs "saved or created" thus seems quite arbitrary. In this respect the Stimulus resembles many marketing plans we see. That is - wishful thinking.

Interestingly saving 3.5 million jobs at cost of $787 billion is about $ 225 thousand per job. This seems no bargain, even if the Stimulus works as hoped. Considering the lack of specific incentives to increase spending, this seems optimistic.

What would marketers do? Faced with flagging demand, we might:

  • Have a sale
  • Change the business or pricing model
  • Offer incentives - buy 2 get the 3rd free
  • Provide cross promotions
  • or premiums
  • Give warranties or guarantees
  • Strive to better understand the buying and adoption process and address causes for not buying
  • Solidify and reinforce the value proposition
There are analogous features, which could be part of a stimulus package.

  • Sales tax holidays – specifically reimbursement to states, which hold sales tax holidays, for lost revenue.
  • Targeted tax credits for individuals such as for cars, homes, and investment tax credits for businesses.
  • Subsidizing mortgage interest rates to boost housing demand and liquidity.
Doubtless, you can formulate your own list. My point is that marketing oriented programs will increase demand more than doling out money and hoping or the best.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The D Word

By the time establishment economists acknowledged there was a recession, we had, according to their terms, been in one for 9 to 10 months. Nonetheless, not being in a “recession” may have made some people feel better and allow others to lie with a straight face.

For marketers and their customers, a “recession” has little to do with “two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth” or any specific formal definition. The economist’s recession is not the marketer’s and vice versa. It is a perception and more important a feeling.

The same could for the less commonly heard “depression.” Like recession, depression had its origins as a euphemism. Herbert Hoover did not like the term “panic,” which had been used to characterize earlier financial dislocations. That may have been inspired web-smithing and accurate in that panic can hardly be sustained for more than a decade as the Great Depression was.

Use what term you will, customers know what they’re experiencing. The latest (January 2009) employment report shows a loss of 598,000 jobs and that 3,200,000 jobs were lost in the last 12 months.

For most firms, this was not part of their planning assumptions. What marketing messages are we going to say to consumers and firms (including those, which used to employ some of those consumers)? In more general terms, what are we going to do for our markets, which are a lot sicker than we imagined?

Pricing does have to be realistic. Whenever I hear a supplier claim his business is recession proof I wonder how much is delusion and how much dissembling. There may be such businesses, but neither you nor I are in them. Price cutting alone won’t be enough, but be prepared for concessions.

An interesting wrinkle on this are pre-announced price freezes. Professional sports are an example. Demand is down, and not just for personal seat licenses. Demand for this years’ Superbowl tickets weakened such that in the week before the game, ticket brokers were selling some tickets at less than face value.

The response of teams such as the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox, was to announce there will be no price increases for the coming season. The market was clearly not going to support an increase, so they are trying to take credit for doing the obvious.

This is not a bad tactic, but it is not enough. Prediction: professional sports, like most other marketers will have to offer further incentives to maintain their market share. With customers feeling increasingly gloomy, we’ll need to continually reinforce how we are adding value. How do customers feel about your business or brand, such that you will not be the first one to be cut in tough times?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Short Elevator Rides

A common metaphor, or cliché, is the “elevator pitch.” It seems to mean a compelling story in 30 to 60 seconds, which conveys the essence of your product, service, mission, or goal.

The classic 30 second commercial or one page magazine ad ought to be an elevator pitch. They are forced to be brief, but often fail to engage or communicate. They commonly try to cover too many points, lack focus, and contain much that is inessential or irrelevant. Even worse, they will do all of this without ever getting to the point.

I was thus intrigued, when I chanced upon a short video by artist Matt Shlian. YouTube lists this video as 9 seconds, but we could edit out the static trailing space and it would be 7 or 8 seconds. There is no text, no color, and no audio. The I comes away knowing something of Shilan’s talents and wanting to see more. Fortunately he has other short videos on YouTube. Search on Matt Shilan if interested.

What can you get across in 8 seconds?