MN AMA – Fall Networking Ideas

MN AMA has quite useful, entertaining, and very tasty networking events.  The latest one, beside the food and drinking tickets, had a very short presentation by Rob Dewey.  The speaker’s topic concentrated on effectiveness of business visualization.  I did not expect much I did not know (of course, the visualization is vital), but the presentation was surprisingly interesting.  And two ideas from the presentation kept me thinking for several days after the event:

  1. Rob Dewey mentioned that consultants are often hired not to generate an idea, but to promote an existing idea within the organization.  What an interesting perspective!  I guess, it makes my own struggles everywhere where I worked understandable.  People who are high enough in the organization to have a consultant budget are struggling with internal promotions…  What can be expected from an average marketer?  I was always hopeful, and some of my ideas were implemented successfully, but…  I don’t feel guilty for all ideas that I could not “sell.”  I feel so excused!  🙂
  2. The speaker also mentioned that sketches are more inviting for additional suggestions than higher quality images…  This is interesting…  If we need to showcase something and invite suggestion for improvement of a maybe half-baked idea, a sketch would be a better approach.  I will definitely remember that.

Oh, and one day I will learn to limit myself to no more than three plates of free food per networking event.

Marketing News – September 1, 2007

As usually, Marketing News was an interesting read.  Some of curious articles (from my perspective):

MySpace Your Space (page 22).

Folks, we are not alone “out there” searching for the business goal before attempting to execute the next interactive innovation.  According to Forrester, we are in a good company of CMOs and other marketing souls who have not learned to connect business goals with web innovations yet.  I can not resist from quoting this article:

From CMOs of major corporations through marketing staff at all levels, exchanges like this are typical:

CMO: “I think it’s time our company started building a community.”

Forrester: ”Why?”

CMO: “Our competitor started one.”

Forrester: “OK.  What’s you goal in starting this community?”

Long silence…

Forrester: “Are you more interested in a community for listening to what your customers are saying, or for influencing them?”

CMO: “I’m not sure.  What do you think? Oh, and our CEO is thinking of starting a blog.  What do you think of that idea?”

Forrester: “What the goal of the blog?”

More silence…

The article suggests 5 primary goals that companies successfully pursue in the social marketing world, and the recommendation is simple: “Unless you pursue social marketing with a specific goal, you will fail…. It is progress toward that goal that you should measure.” 

How easy to see!  How difficult to practice! 🙂

Open Sesame (page 5). Now Wednesdays and Thursdays are considered the best for e-mail marketing, and my beloved Tuesday is even less recommended than Friday…  eROI that provided the data discovered that most messages sent during business hours are read at 11 am and at 4 pm. 

Not surprising…  I also have been having lunches with a couple particular newsletters that come daily at exactly 11 am 🙂  What do they have for breakfast?  eMarketer and iMedia Connection are prime candidates…

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Fresh Direct – and internet-only grocer discovered that the most popular item on its web site is One-Click recipes that allow users to order delivery of all necessary ingredients of the recipe in one click.
  • Bagged greens market is growing steadily, but the customers are using the products not just to make salad.  We can probably expect more advertisement for innovative uses of bagged greens.
  • Executives are particularly attuned to word of mouth (which has twice as much influence on their decisions than advertising) and prefer to have their conversations in person. 
  • Marketing to baby-boomer-woman is becoming an interesting niche.  Check out the boomer blog – it is very useful and has some research for download that we can borrow when necessary.  I also read the book – loved it!
  • “Looking at the future of Multicultural Marketing – Traditional Direct Mail Prevails.”

Marketing News is a publication of American Marketing Association and available to members of the organization. 

MIMA salon – Designing for an Uncertain World

As usually, MIMA salon was wonderful… and tasty.  Somehow there is not enough time in the evening to talk with all acquaintances in the audience, find a person from another business unit of the same company, and get the second plate of food.  🙂

Importance of the experience… 

From the words of Steve Jobs, we could see that solution of the problem seems simple at first.  Then, developing the solution, we realize how complex it is.  However, we should not sacrifice user experience while we are dealing with complexity…

Every technological solution consists of data, logic, and user interface. 

Experience one

However, for the user, everything beside the user interface is… irrelevant.

Experience two

Sometimes, when the solutions are designed, their internal pieces, irrelevant to the user, break through to the user experience, where they are not needed and even damaging.

Experience three

The solutions should concentrate on satisfying the user need, they should be designed “from outside in.” 

Experience four

What a great and understandable concept!  At the same time, this concept is so difficult to promote in corporate setting… 

Some of the examples used to illustrate the concept were very thought-provoking.  Listen to the podcast, it worth it.  For most of us, the presentation did not convey anything new, it just emphasized the known truths, the truths that are so difficult to explain to others, promote, and implement.   Oh, we are still at the stage of adding features… 🙂

Examples:

  • iPod – less features than previous MP3 player, but gives users all they need and becomes wildly successful
  • VCR – too complex to use all features – most are not necessary
  • Microsoft – Office 2003 – many features; Office 2007 – less features and more user-friendly
  • Adaptive Path a unique approach to creation of a medical device…

MN AMA – Rebranding the Bachman’s Experience

Flower gift

This was one of the most entertaining and also inspiring events offered by the local chapter of AMA.  Mr. Bachman talked about brand evolution of a well-established family business (Bachman’s), which he understands better then anybody else could.  His passion for the business and honest answers to the audience’s questions made the presentation even more memorable.

At one point of continuous flat sales at Bachman’s, the situation could no longer be blamed on economy or any other outside influences.  Dissatisfied, Bachman’s decided to take a look inside and evaluate the brand.  A consulting firm was hired to do research with hope to determine areas of improvements. 

One of the most interesting research approaches: the party exercise.  
After visiting competitors and Bachman’s stores over some period of time, several alpha females (women who have tendency to dominate focus groups), were gathered together to describe six parties.  What if Mr. and Mrs. Pottery Barn had a party?  What kind of house would it be? Who would come?  What would they do?  What would they drink?  What cars would they drive?

The women described six possible parties (including Bachman’s and competitors) in intricate details.  For example, 1-800-Flowers  for some reason was not the favorite.  The party crowd was much less sophisticated than in other examples, and guests drove old cheaper cars.  Bachman’s party was nice.  The guests arrived in Cadillacs and Lincolns…, but it was over before 11.  🙂  From the brand perspective, Bachman’s still was good.  But it was not “fun.”

Flowers
After the research, the company determined that it was not in the flowers business; it was in the ambiance business.  The brand needed modernizing.

Two personas were distilled from the research:

Rose – over 50, traditional
Colleen – 30 – 40 years old, who loved what is new and considered Bachman’s “her mom’s store…”

The company changed product, packaging, merchandising, and advertising to appeal not only to Rose, but also to Colleen. 

Some of the changes:
• Improvement of style of fresh arrangements
• Addition of a girlfriend’s gifts with “Wink” section for Colleen’s needs
• Greater selection of unique items

Change in advertisement – get noticed! 
Bachman’s have utilized very innovative campaigns that are routinely picked up by the local media, used digital billboards and Internet promotions.  Interesting: Internet advertising is not effective, but the SEO is considered the most promising tool.  Bachman’s are currently working on improving their web site in SEO area.  Hopefully, home page title tags will be changed soon 🙂  The company estimates that about half of people who call to buy a flower arrangement are looking at the web site while on the phone.

Mr. Bachman invited the presentation attendees to a tour of internal areas of the business.  What a fascinating experience!  We saw designers who’s only responsibility is to create beautiful flower bouquets, we saw how flowers arrive, and we shivered walking through the refrigerated area where delicate blooms are preserved while they are processed. 

Considering that most of the audience was a mix of Roses and Colleens, we wished we could spend the rest of the day mesmerized by beauty of the flower shop.  🙂

Each of us went home (actually drove to the job) with a mum plant courtesy of Mr. Bachman.  Thank you very much!

BtoB Magazine – August 13, 2007

Very insightful information!

Stark contrast in use of new media between b-to-b, b-to-c companies (page 1).  B-to-b marketers paying more attention to the new media than I honestly thought… Curious – marketers still use the e-mail for demand generation… though I read many opinions that it is more of a retention, lead nurturing, and up-sell channel…  B-to-c marketers are happier with social networks than b-to-b marketers (understandable).  Measuring of the new media effectiveness for b-to-b – downloads of white papers  🙂

Weight of the words (page 16).  Even if any of us could find an ocean of information about SEO and SEM in our own heads, there is always something to gain from a new article.  Some of useful suggestions:

  • placing branded words into their own buckets (they convert better)
  • creating classification of keywords that that mirrors buying cycle
  • and the most straightforward that is so difficult to implement – clearly defining goals for each step of the buying cycle. 

The magazine has descriptions of several wonderful integrated (presumably) campaigns.  Great case studies for ideas to take to the office on Monday 🙂

Other interesting tidbits: