Archive for the ‘ marketing ’ Category

business value alignment … keeping it simple

i cant but help think about what the world might have looked like about 50 to 100 years ago.  before we had alphabet soups and tons of buzzwords.  when the world was a much simpler place.  yet a place that saw tremendous transformation. 

first commercial flight.  first radio broadcast.  why…. even first cup of instant coffee.  we went through so much change as a human race, yet were not bombarded with noise about the change.

organizations typically go through change all the time.  whether they acknowledge it or not, there is always an undercurrent of organization change and transformation.  some of course, are more pronounced or planned than others.

so, why do we generally approach this topic with a mix of trepidation and trite proclamations?  why do we start with the typical notion of “here is the change cycle… you go through denial, acceptance, … etc etc.”?

shouldnt the conversation really be about business value alignment?

in lieu of the 3 obviousideas, check out my interview on pmopodcast – the Business Value Alignment™ firm, linking Strategy | Organization | Execution


whole foods + whole lot of social-media mess

what a week it must have been for whole foods ceo john mackay and his crisis-pr team!    just a week after a major scientific report that there is really no material health difference between organic and non-organic produce. 

1.  john mckay writes a wall street journal oped on the united states healthcare debate

2. his customers, he picks the ‘wrong side’ of the debate … with a conservative-piece despite serving a largely liberal-customer base

3.  blogosphere and twittersphere explodes in rage .. with some stating that they will not shop at whole foods because of the ‘social darwinism and elitism’ reflected in john mackay’s piece

4.  traditional media picks up the story

5. is formed

6.  welcome to traditional media meeting social media in the age of the empowered customer with a keyboard @ hand …

3 obvious ideas:

a. personal ceo opinion”, really?: ironically there is no such thing as a ‘personal opinion’ for public cxo’s in an age where social media promises to enable personal expression! et tu, social media?

b. understand your customer before you communicate … because social media is the voice of many, not just marketing: you dont need to have a ph.d. in anthropology to know your customer-base, its major likes and dislikes.  if you are in a fishbowl (as they say about ceo’s), communication is hard to begin with.  your every move is being followed, interpreted and amplified.  social media just made it harder.  most companies and ‘social media experts’ belabor about why it is important for companies to market themselves through social media… conveniently forgetting that the power of social media is tilted towards the voice of many … i.e., the customers and quick-to-convert ‘former customers’!

c. b2c brands can become fragile faster than you can say “oh tweet!”:  b2c brands are built on perception.  brands take time and money to build.  like humpty-dumpty that sat on a wall and took a great fall, brands can fall quickly with the nudge of social-media ire.  and despite all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, it might not be possible to put humpty-dumpty together again.  just ask any 2 year old.  

sai at obviousideas dot com

social networking … will the pendulum swing back?

in a world where everybody seems to have something to say in the hope that everyone else is following … we are beginning to see some curbs come into play.

the pentagon reviewed social networking on computers and we see that the marines have banned social networking sites.  that is pretty reasonable given the security risks involved in publishing any-to-any information over open networks.

one person has even gone far enough to suggest that social networking is outright dangerous!

the transient nature of instant-contact and combined with the permanence of communication-records, makes for an interesting environment where folks tend to share things that they might never otherwise consider sharing.  add to that the relative comfort afforded by keyboards that seem to ‘de-personalize emotions’, you’ve got a flood of expression out on in public domain that might otherwise not escape the privacy of ones cranial confines.

makes me wonder whether the pendulum which has swung to the extreme of total openness will begin to swing back … after all, just how much of our time pie can be continue to give up to the social networking slice?  what do you think?

3 obvious ideas:

a. why: consider why you are connecting and communicating through social networking sites.  if its ‘because its the cool thing to do’, you are probably sending the wrong kinds of messages.  it helps to have a pretty solid reason to be out there.  while this might appear to go against the very grain of social networking, let us not forget that social networking on the internet is still about human-to-human contact and you dont want to be out there blabbering from a soapbox like the guys you find at trafalgar square declaring that the ‘end of the world is here’.  (i guess you could say they know ‘why’ they are there)

b. what: consider what the core essence of your message is.  whether you are posting pictures of your weekend party or random musings from the beach, dont lose sight of what the core message is.  communicating for the sake of communicating just adds more noise to the channel and makes for an overall sub-optimal experience … over the long term.

c. whom: its pretty obvious to consider whom you are trying to reach out to.  deeply divisive and polarising topics tend to attract undue interest and intense online debate.  dont forget that the ‘whom’ in this case can be pretty much anyone out there.  so dont get into an online debate or argument with a total stranger … regardless of how passionate you are about the topic.  its just not worth it.

on cloud computing … real clouds … and business value

recently a woman in iowa took a photo that sparked the push for a new cloud type.  this got me thinking about the current buzz in the enterprise technology world … cloud computing. 

there is scarcely a corner in the tech world where you dont find a vendor with ‘cloud’ hastily scribbled into the storefront in fresh chalk … hoping to attract your attention and wallet-share.  then there are those that sprouted into business under the promise of a new cloud. 

soon enough, there came many different types of cloud … from private-clouds, to iron-clouds, to personal-clouds … the list goes on.  coming up with new tech cloud types and sub-types seems to be as easy as spotting clouds in the sky. or, so it seems.

except that new cloud types are not named as commonly as we see in the tech world.  the last time a major cloud type was named was 1951.  and despite all the very different types of clouds we might come upon, there are not as many new ‘types’ declared as commonly as the tech world …

this brings me to my staple diet of …

3 obvious ideas:

a. create value hand-in-hand with conveying it: it is imperative that the technology world create new value before going about creating new types and sub-types to convey value.  a new cloud type hasnt been declared since 1951.  maybe, just maybe if there was a market for these we would have had a 1000 more types …

b. buzzwords + flavors deprecate IT value: business decision makers and buyers tend to gloss over when they see freshly scribbled chalkmarks carrying the latest buzzwords .. why dont we do a better job of quantifying real measurable business value with the same gusto with which we create new buzzwords?

c. appreciating nature: i like the idea of the cloud apprecation society.  maybe, just occassionally, we should all step away from the keyboards and clouds to step out in the real world … and spot some real clouds.  maybe, just maybe, we might actually find a real new cloud category … like the lady from iowa.

an american auto revolution … the need to put customers 1st

what a year it has been for american auto majors.  pundits have written about it six ways to sunday … and yet, i find something obviously absent in the dialog.  the customer.

we hear about restructuring plans, debt refinancing, labor negotiation, de-merger dynamics, green technology and other paths to promising breakthroughs.  but pray, where is the focus on the customer?!

3 obviousideas

i. wish vs. want: focus on building a brand that “people wish they could have”, not one that you hope “people will want” or “need”.  so, a chevy ’64 impala is not the same as an ’09 impala.  same for the chevy camaro.  classic examples of cars that ‘people wished they could have’ becoming ‘cars that the company wished people would want’.

ii. brand identity: focus on a product mix where all products are strongly aligned with the brand identity and help reinforce it.  so, a chevy corvette and a chevy aveo should never again have the same badge.   how about being careful about brand extensions and not trying to be ‘everything to everyone’?

iii. points-of-experience:  focus on the entire customer experience around the brand, from prospecting to post-sales service and support.  so, never again should a customer walk away from a dealership ‘feeling ripped off’.  how about more clarity and courtesy at the points-of-experience?  i think the new volkswagen cc ad promising carefree maintenance a-la bmw is a step in the right direction.

what do you think?

conveying ur msg … the kurt busch way!

the victory lap that kurt busch did after winning the kobalt 500 yesterday was something nascar fans (and others) will be talking for a long time.  contrary to tradition, kurt went around the track in reverse!

miller lite must have been double happy … with the victory and the image of their logo going around the race track in a completely unconventional manner

3 obviousideas:

a.  it aint over till the fast car goes in reverse.  reserve the unexpected for the final flourish … and your messages will stick.

b. break the rules, but stick to the road.  lets make sure our messages are in synch with the overall brand and identity.  break the rules within that … so you dont end up confusing your customer.

c. … i dont have a 3rd point to make … so, will you remember this unexpected finish?  oh, well … i tried!

what say ye marketing mavens?

brand a city … and get burdened? the saga of las vegas

a few hours ago, forbes reported that las vegas is america’s ’emptiest’ city.  what a sad state of affairs for a few blocks of glitz and glamour that calls itself las vegas.  a success story of branding an entire city.  “thank you” everyone said, the rebranding helped attract tourists and business visitors in the early part of the 21st century {seems so long ago now!}

fast forward to 2009.  a now bailed-out bank’s decision to proceed with their pre-bailout plans to host an event in sin city attracted much ire, and counter ire.  a far cry from the days what happens in vegas, stays herewas celebrated , which spawned off the more popular tag line ‘what happens in vegas, stays in vegas‘ …

looks like the brand has come back to bite the city.  maybe a lesser tag line might not have created such an aversion to bailed out banks sending their employees off to the middle of the desert.

maybe, just maybe, its safer to enjoy a timeless brand like san franscisco, paris or new york.  cities without provocative tag lines that seem oh so well out of place today.  i guess, that is what happens when you gamble with a tag line.  sometimes, the house too loses.  too bad in this case it is all of them!

what do you think?  what can charlotte (an up and coming city) and others learn from this?

(just watching a re-rerun of frasier (episode: ‘frasier-lite’ 2004) where frasier is enticed to over-eat just prior to an obesity-awareness weight loss competition so that he and his team can win a trip to vegas.  why, the tag line is even misquoted as ‘what happens in vegas, stays in vegas’ … because the original line coined by r&r partners is ‘what happens here, stays here’)