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Innovation vs. Best practices in Marketing

I recently got into a conversation with a fellow marketer about why an online campaign didn’t move forward. He then explained that his client’s offline campaigns where doing good enough to try something new.

Despite the new online campaign represented (probably) less than 5% of their offline spending, the client decided to focus those resources doing what best practices of marketing spending suggest (which by the way consisted on sending trash over the mail).

“Best practices are the antithesis of innovation*”, you can’t expect to get different (or better) results if you do the same over and over again, that is Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Innovation today is what will dictate the best practices of tomorrow; innovation is what will give a head start against your competition.

Why should they try something new if what we are doing right now is proven to be successful? Well, if you don’t search for new ways to do things, your competitors will, beware if they find something before you do.

And now the question is: How is your competition innovating? Is it with new technology, new processes, new markets? How do you know when your best practices have become old practices?

So, are you following best practices or creating new ones?

To finish this post I leave you with a quote from Machiavelli’s The Prince:

“…And let it be noted that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new. This lukewarm temper arises partly from the fear of adversaries who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new, until they have seen it proved by the event. The result, however, is that whenever the enemies of change make an attack, they do so with all the zeal of partisans, while the others defend themselves so feebly as to endanger both themselves and their cause.”

What do you think?

* This blog post was inspired by a presentation by Christian Haas, a group creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, at OMMA Global San Francisco, the premiere online media, marketing, and advertising expo.

Sentiment Analysis: computers analyzing how we feel about products

Ever since social media came to the web there is more information available for companies to try to understand their customers’ reactions. Before social media, customer information existed and was used to determine emotional reactions on people, but it was never as easily available and as abundant as it is today.

Sentiment Analysis has been out there for a while trying to teach computers to extract emotional context from blogs, articles, forums (sometimes Twitter and Facebook) in order to understand good or bad biases towards particular products.

Illustration by Voris Rodriguez

But this is only one part of the deal, because once you gather the data and make a great pie chart; what do you do with that information? Companies have figured out the way to track (marketing) events with this technique to complement other analytics systems, giving them an extra insight about how people are reacting.

And yes, it is not an exact science, and there are still many questions about how representative the sample is, how correlated is the “sentiment” to a purchase decision, how opinion leaders or influencers skew the results, and even how to identify and correct for metaphors and sarcasm. Despite all these hard questions, in CRM it is always better to know some information than none.

For me it still feels a little bit like black magic especially when considering for example how many times in person-to-person communications messages are misinterpreted. How can you make a computer understand sarcasm and metaphors?

What do you think?

Note:
All this information is my personal insight taken away from the event: How Sentiment Analysis can Make Sense of Social Media (or Can it?) by the Bay Area Business Executives Group, with the following panelists:
Franco Salvetti, Microsoft Bing Search
Jochen Frey, Scout Labs
David Bean, Attensity
Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar

Haiti and the power of social media

January 18th, 2010 No comments

Donations for Red CrossIt is certain than in times of crisis we stretch our capabilities to find sources of strength where we thought we had none. This time social media and mobile devices shined as the best tool to collect donations to help Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in January, 2010.

For the few of you who didn’t see it, here is how it looked on Facebook, Twitter and other sites:

You can donate $10 to Haiti relief by texting “Haiti” to 90999.

As a result, social media helped spread the word about how to make a donation to the Red Cross, yielding a $8 million total donation in $10 increments in less than three days, coming from all corners of US. (here is a map of donations by state on mobile devices)

I see three huge reasons why this worked like magic: It’s simple, relevant and it involves emotion.

I leave this post with my most sincere empathy to the people in Haiti, wishing them a swift recovery, and thanks to the rest of the world for showing that the human spirit will prevail amidst tragedy.

Pepsi’s New Ways

January 12th, 2010 No comments

For the last two years people in the advertising industry have been forecasting a switch in marketing dollars from TV, radio and newspaper towards Internet campaigns, but the following is probably the most visible case so far.

For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not run any kind of advertisement during the Super Bowl. This represents a huge switch of around $15 million dollars in marketing spending from TV to an online campaign based on social media.

Ok, a marketing spending switch from TV to online and social media is not news, but what about costumer centric marketing communications as opposed to company/product centric? Pepsi is aiming to help people help their communities. Those individuals that register a project and receive the most votes will receive funding.

To be more specific, Pepsi’s online campaign will be powered by social media and social participation. It’s going to be about communities – online and offline – interacting to create something new.

Find more about it at: refresheverything.com

Online Trivia Showcase

September 29th, 2009 No comments

The mansionFor over eight years and counting, Cinepolis, the fifth biggest cinema theater company in the world, has been rewarding their customers with an online movie-trivia, where participants have a chance to compete for several prizes, among them a brand new car. In 2009, Cinepolis’ Challenge theme was an enchanted Mansion where Uncle Oscar hid the prizes before passing away.

Our team designed from scratch various locations inside the house to portray a dark scenario; each room hosted a different part of the trivia.

Click on the play on the video to see an animated demo of the trivia or visit the full demo site.

[FLOWPLAYER=/dextramedia/Flash/retoCinepolisDextra2.flv,460,280]
Work developed by IA Interactive and Dextra Media.
In case you get lost on the mansion, here is map of the games and places where they are located:

Living room

  • Suit of Armor (image clues)
  • Shield and weapons(hangman)
  • Canvas (doodle guess)
  • Stuffed bull head (crossword)
  • Tall clock (capture fairies)

Basement

  • Old chair (jigsaw)
  • Tools on wall (image clues)
  • Old vase (doodle guess)
  • Record player (hangman)
  • Wheelchair (image clues)

Kitchen

  • Old water dispenser (search object)
  • Condiments (image clue)
  • Cured meat (doodle guess)
  • Stove (hangman)
  • Copper vases (image clues)

Bathroom

  • Coat rack (doodle guess)
  • Toilet (labyrinth)
  • Left candle (hangman)
  • Mirror (image guess)
  • Bathtub (image guess)

Bedroom

  • Old chest (memory)
  • Left canvas (image clue)
  • Bed (Hangman)
  • Rocking chair (image clues)

Backyard

  • Lightpost (jigsaw)
  • Crow on tree (image clue)
  • Shovel (doodle guess)
  • Fountain (hangman)
  • Statue (catch objects)

Measure… measure… measure… but measure the right thing!

I flying back to San Francisco from Austin after the SEM for SMB conference and I’m thinking about how many times the word measure came up during the conference. I agree 100% with the “measuring statements” such as “you don’t get what you don’t measure” or “if you can’t measure it, better don’t do it” but what these statements assume is that you are measuring the right thing.

For example, I was really surprised when small business owners from Austin where asked the main objective of their Search Engine Campaigns. One out of eight people said “increase sales” or “increase revenue” whereas the other seven were more focused on being the number one result in Google, increase visits to the site and be found by the keywords they wanted. Yes, yes I know that some of those are good indicators, but those should not be the final variables to measure. For example:

  • What if you have 100,000 visitors per day but none of them purchased your product? Wouldn’t you rather have 100 visitors and five of them making and actual purchase? If you are selling several kinds of products then also watch for margin, you may direct demand of your product with the best margins.
  • What if you are happy because you are listed in Google with the keywords you wanted, but those keywords are seldom used by your real buyers. That would mean that despite being the number one, you are not what people are looking for; hence, you just put money and time on the garbage.

So, if you are about to start any kind of marketing campaign and you are planning how to measure it, be sure to measure what matters for you, margins, EBITDA, profit. Not only measure eyeballs on your advertisements, unless you have tons of money to throw out the window. Even if you are tracking lead-genration in your website, follow those conversions to see how many ended up in a real sale.

Have a great weekend

Negative Keywords in your Pay Per Click(PPC) SEM strategy

Pay per click (PPC) is a way to advertise your webpage through services like Google AdWords and YahooAds to reach consumer that are searching for products or services such as the ones you offer. It is also a great way to waste valuable marketing dollars if used improperly, even though search engine strive to prevent your doing so. For example, Google AdWords lets you set a daily budget, put a maximum cost per click, target your ads geographically. As if it were not enough, gives you lots of information about how the system works; however you can still manage to spend unnecessary money, most of the time without knowing so.
One of the tips for preventing this from happening is to use negative keywords when you don’t want you ad to appear or when it just doesn’t make sense. Here is an example:

– If the objective of your campaign is to sell video cards for PC then your keywords could be “video card for PC” (This is too generic by the way, but is just as an example). The problem here is that you may appear (depending on your bid for the keywords and competition) under the following search terms:
o video card for PC free
o video card for PC drivers
o sell video card for PC
o repair video card for PC
o compatibility of video card for PC
o etc..

As you may have noticed, probably none of those queries will end up as a sale of your PC cards just because the user is not looking to buy, moreover, their click on your ad will cost you some green.
To prevent this from happening, you can use negative keywords. If one of your negative keywords appears on the user’s query your ad will simply not appear. The way you set this up in your Google campaign is to use a dash “-“ before a keyword.

I recommend you to use the following keywords if the objective of your campaign is selling a product or service:
-free
-information
-“what is”
-“how to”
-definition

If the objective of your campaign is to generate leads or to get people to subscribe to a newsletter, even to drive traffic to your site, then those negative keywords should change, but I will let you guys think about it, I don’t want to ruin all the fun for you.

Latter on this blog I will write about wild cards and other search variations.

Have fun, and if you just like spending money, better buy me dinner! Google has enough already!

F.