Monthly Archives: August 2008

How Many URLs?

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Forrester analyst, Jeremiah Owyang, asked the question tonight, “how many ads in an hour can you spot that don’t have a URL.”  OK, this geek is up for a good challenge – afterall, Mark is out of town, so I’m home alone.

Verdict?  In one hour I saw 36 commercials – 16 of which DID NOT have a URL in their ad.  I was surprised to see which ones did not: Revlon cosmetics, Claritin sinus medication and Bailey’s liquor, among others.  I would think that above all else, Claritin would have a URL associated with their ads.  As a drug company, wouldn’t you want to be the one to explain how your product works and possible side effects?!?  I thought that it was possible that Claritin couldn’t advertise via a website, but that’s not the case – they have claritin.com.  

On the other hand, I can’t dismiss the fact that 55% of commercials that I saw in one hour (on cable) did have an associated URL.

Interesting challenge.  I think I’m going to watch for more ads that don’t have URLs.

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Top of the Web to You!

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Hopefully by now, all of you have chosen an RSS reader – purely based on my advice, of course – and started following your web content more efficiently. 

If you still don’t know where to begin, though, finding the information you care about, may I make another suggestion?  Alltop.com is a site that acts as an content aggregator for all the news and blogs about any given topic.  Say, that your interest is in golf – golf.alltop.com has all the top stories from around the web all in one place.

Alltop is one of the latest creations by market genius, Guy Kawasaki (twitter.com/guykawasaki)…yes, he’s the one with the pink boa.  Guy was one of the original members of Apple, responsible for marketing the Machintosh in 1984.  He’s also responsible for Truemors – which I recommend adding to your bookmarks for when you need that funny, unique and down-right outlandish story to forward to your friends.

Socially Responsible Marketing

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First, let me apologize for leaving the blog unattended for a few days.  My brother came home for his last leave before he deploys to Iraq for his second tour.  Let me also digress a moment and tell you that we had one of the most awesome experiences when he arrived.  Mr. Ross Perot met us at my office and spent an hour with us in his office.  He walked us through his personal collection of paintings and memorabilia.  Many of you probably know about Mr. Perot’s involvement with the military – rescuing POWs and finding medical treatment for wounded soldiers.  His efforts are still going strong.  He is selling most of his original artwork (replacing them with prints) and putting the proceeds towards his non-profit foundation.  He is a genuine individual.  It was an absolutely amazing experience that neither of us will forget.

I’m always amazed – and touched – when people want to unselfishly give to those who are in need, those who serve or those that just need a helping hand.  Today, I received an interesting email from Ritz-Carlton Hotels announcing their “Volunteaming” offering.  If you book a meeting at The Ritz, they can help you arrange a community volunteering project for your team.  Activities range from harvesting organic crops for The Chef’s Garden, to building habitats for the animals at The Big Cat Habitat.  Volunteaming is the latest program launched by The Ritz-Carlton’s social and environmental program, Community Footprints.

This type of program is also referred to as “Cause Marketing.”  Wikipedia defines cause marketing as the “cooperative efforts of a ‘for profit’ business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.  It goes on to explain that cause marketing differs from philanthropy and corporate giving, because cause marketing is relationship-based, not donation-based.

Isn’t this the heart of social marketing?  Actually *gulp* interacting with society?  And, yes, even I will admit that not everything has to be done online. This is the real touchy-feely aspect of helping your community.

The bonafide marketing genius, Marta Kagan, found some really interesting stats about cause marketing. For instance, 87% of Americans are likely to switch brands if another product is associated with a good cause.  And, over 75% of respondents would refuse to invest in the company’s stock or refuse to work for them because of their negative responsibility practices.  

It’s worth getting the word out about your community-based projects.  More importantly, it’s worth getting your community involved in the project.  I’ll be the first to admit that my company doesn’t promote their efforts enough.  OK, time for a shameless plug…At a recent healthcare trade show, we asked participants to help paint a 6’x4′ paint-by-color painting.  Typically, you have to hire “booth babes” and give away $2 stress balls to get people to come talk to you at these shows.  But, traffic was awesome at our booth, because we offered something innovative, creative, interactive and FUN!  After the conference, the paintings were donated to Vanderbilt Medical Center.  The art program tied the conference theme to our core values – and, involved the community as a whole.

How have you used socially responsible marketing at your company?

OPP via RSS

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Are you down with OPP?  Other People’s Postings? (wow, get your mind out of the gutter)…

With the number of blogs and news sites that are out there, you may think it’s a pain to go to each website each day to check for new content.  RSS is the way to keep track of all of your favorite website updates – blogs, news wires, company press releases, custom searches…just about anything.

RSS is Really Simple Syndication.  You need an RSS reader in order to compile all of your feeds.  I happen to use Google Reader, but there are several out there.  RSS helps me follow 17 analyst and AR blogs, 14 marketing blogs, 2 friend blogs and 2 news wires each day.  Think of it as the way for you to create your own daily newspaper.  Your reader will have any new postings that come across these sites, and, most importantly, I don’t have to enter 35 different URLs everyday!

Once you choose a reader, all you have to do is click on the lovely orange RSS logo (cue Vanna White…please see above) that you’ll find on most sites on the web.

In the words of the infamous Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  There’s a ton of cool ideas posted online everday, if you blink, you may miss them!

Oh, Look! She Started Blogging!

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My boyfriend’s 12-year old started a blog this month.  She’s still getting used to it, so right now it mainly consists of what book she is reading and what she had for dinner last night.  It’s really a way for her and her friends to keep in contact – I enjoy reading the comments more than her entries, sometimes.

So, it got me thinking.  Here are some startling statistics for you:

  • Facebook has 90 million active users, more than 75% log in each day and (in 2007) 22% of them were under 18
  • MySpace, according to analyst Jeremiah Owyang, has 110 million active users, 15% of which are under 18
  • In July, WordPress said that 257,163 blogs were created to bring them to a total of 1,102,039 active blogs
  • As of January 2008, Twitter had over 700,000 users – as of today, they have 2,419,242 twitterers

The interesting thing is that the majority of Facebook and Myspace users are over 18!  The other thing you should note is how quickly these communities are growing…and obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list!  This isn’t just a “kid” thing.  But, the digital generation is growing and kids find it second nature to share over the web. 

Aw, look honey…she got her first comment!  Go get the video camera, quick!

Who Are Your Best Customers?

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In 2004, Best Buy received a lot of buzz for exposing its customer segmentation guidelines.  CEO, Brad Anderson, said he wanted to get rid of “devil” customers, approximately 20% of Best Buy’s 500 million customers each year.  These customers were seen as unprofitable – “loading up on the store’s loss leaders and discounted merchandise.”  Best Buy’s “angel and devil” strategy was quickly re-branded as its “Customer-Centricity” model  – sounds much better, don’t you think? – aimed at five specific customer segments.

Best Buy, however, isn’t the only retailer to categorize their customers by profit levels – just one of the only ones to expose it publicly.  One of the common tools to do this categorization is the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) model.  According to Wikipedia, CLV takes into account the “present value of future cash flows attributed to the customer relationship.”  But can this same tool be used for online merchants?

Last year, we used the CLV methodology to look at customers for a popular online subscription-based merchant.  The findings were the about the same – approximately 13% of subscribers accounted for 50% of all profits; and about 21% of subscribers were not profitable.  But, before you dismiss the 21% of customers as “devils”, think of this:

These “non-profitable” customers:

  • Were most “involved” with the website.  They logged on more often and took advantage of more features on the website.
  • Had the second-longest subscriber length
  • Had the highest amount of activity for the subscription service
  • Were more likely to be recruited online

And the “angel” customers?

  • Engaged in the service the least – in this case, they rented merchandise less (if at all)
  • Were the least involved with the website
  • Were more likely to subscribe via a brick-and-mortar store

The “angel” customers were basically those that forgot they even had a membership.  You’ve done that, haven’t you?  Signed up for a gym or tanning membership, and never (or rarely) used it?

And, the non-profitable customers were those that we had hoped to attract in the first place.  They were actively involved with the service – of course, that also meant more shipping costs, more help desk calls, more broken merchandise – all of which led to their non-profitable status.

We need the “angel” customers – they account for 50% of our profits, but how do you attract people that are basically blind to the charge hitting their credit card each month?  You can’t make service improvements or add more web widgets – they rarely log into the website.

Using Customer Lifetime Value methodology to rank customers of subscription-based services can be misleading.  Each business needs to take a close look at their customer segments compared with their business model.  Don’t assume that your “angels” are your best customers.  You may need to re-think your pricing model – I know, you’re probably laughing, thinking “we’re here to make money.”  Yes, but it’s very risky business model to rely on people who have no loyalty to your product or service.

Do you know who your best customers are?

U Report, U Decide

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I’m a sucker for iPhone apps.  I’ve waited for months for the much-awaited Apps Store on iTunes.  (Of course, I’m not even close to iJustine – with 5, yes FIVE, pages of iPhone applications.)

Now Fox News has the UReport application.  UReport allows people to submit pictures and video directly to Fox News.  If chosen, your submission could be featured online or during the broadcast.

Although the application only allows for one-way communication, good for Fox News for embracing the social media trend.  However, does this mean that they now need to change their tagline from “We Report, You Decide” to “You Report, We Decide”??