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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