A moment too late

19 December 2007

marketing viral web-20

Ever learned of something just a fraction too late behind "everyone else", causing an immediate disregard for that thing?

For me, the incident I remember most was the release of Nirvana's Nevermind album. I prided myself on knowing cool weird bands, then boom, everyone was listening to Nirvana, and I'd somehow completely missed the boat. Not wanting to be a "me too" I ended up never purchasing any Nirvana CDs ever. Of course, now I remember Kurt fondly when I hear Smells Like Teen Spirit on the oldies radio channel ("the greatest hits of the 70s, 80s and 90s, with less talk!").

I feel like something similar may be happening with Spock.com. I don't know if they've somehow suddenly infiltrated my social group, or if they just have a particularly wicked viral campaign (auto-sending invites to your whole address book, like Plaxo did once upon a time). But somehow, I've gotten a dozen invites to Spock in the past week.

I'd looked at Spock a while back. And I didn't get it.

It did not seem particularly accurate, precise or useful. And now everyone I know is inviting me to it.

And I still don't get it.

Some new services have a gentle roll-out, where you build anticipation, hoping to get invited (ie, Dopplr, GMail). Others seem to have a polarizing roll-out. You either immediately buy-in or immediately become a detractor.

I'm not sure what the difference is, really.

But you can stop inviting me to Spock.

Olympic Outrage

06 June 2007

branding marketing

It's with some humor I watch the outrage around the London 2012 Olympics logo. Back in the mid-nineties, I lived in Atlanta. They were ramping up for the Olympics they were hosting. And they came up with a "awesome" mascot which was announced with great fanfare.


Yeah, that's inspiring, patriotic, and definitely a gob of blue goo. The idea was that he could morph into lots of things. It, like the London 2012 logo, seems to have been designed to be open-ended, to encourage "participation" by us random folks or some such, so we could imaging the abstract possibilities of what the mascot/logo could possibly represent.

Logos and mascots are not necessarily group sports. "Hey honey, let's go look at the logo and imagine what it might be" is not something I say on date night. They can be witty. They can be creative. They can be unexpected. But they should probably also be straight-forward and not involve any user-serviceable parts.

The Dad Threshold

09 March 2007

economics marketing technology web-20

dad_threshold.pngToday Ning crossed the dad threshold. This is the point in time when someone like your dad might actually cross paths with the work you (or your friends) do.

Without you having to say "hey dad, look at this".

I've personally never crossed this point with my own father. He has a rough idea of what I do, in general terms, maybe, kinda, sorta. But my work has never directly impacted his life in the least.

Anyhow, I'm a listener of Neal Boortz, a syndicated libertarian radio talk-show host. I also read his daily news page. Today he announced BoortzSpace, his online community type of thing. Hosted at boortz.ning.com. This is the sort of thing my own father probably noticed and might actually participate in.

I offer congratulations to Brian "Ning" McCallister and the other guys over there at Ning for hitting the beginnings of a possible mass adoption. They've taken this Web 2.0 thing and seem to have created something broadly useful with it.

Bag of Chips

20 February 2007

marketing snack writing

erik_estrada.jpg Last night I was standing in my kitchen eating some chips straight from the bag while waiting for my wife to finish making her snack. Of course, I turn the bag around and read the backside. We do this with cereal boxes, too.

Sure, we discard the plastic tube the microwave burrito comes in before we consume it. We don't take the package of cold hot-dogs to the table to read while eating our freshly cooked wiener. But chips and cereal are routinely consumed near the original packaging.

What kind of reading material do they give us?

Well, on SunChips, they give me information that inspires me to feel good about my purchase. Wow, 30% less fat than normal chips. But wait, I've already bought the chips. I already feel good about my purchase. Now I'm just bored, and you wasted all that space convincing me to buy something I already bought. Thanks.

Cereal, on the other hand, normally includes "fun facts" or a maze or a puzzle or some other content that actually is worthwhile. Yes, I'm 33. But I still eat cereal and enjoy a good word jumble from time-to-time.

Some chips almost get it right. Any kettle chip tends to include some history about the chip company, but unfortunately, it's always in the form of an idyll Faulkner-esque story that begins with

At ChipCorp, we love chips! That's why we hand-craft ours in small batches from only the finest russet potatoes. Our spuds are hand-picked by specially-trained left-handed New Foundlanders we've imported who understand how great chips start with great potatoes. And Newfies know potatoes!

It's always the same.

Cereal boxes get it right. Chip bags gets it wrong.

But what is it?

It is simply realizing who will be examining which portions of your package throughout its life-cycle. No one looks at the backside of a bag of chips before they make their purchase. Same with cereal. Unless you're 9, and you're trying to figure out what toy comes in the box.

The same applies to everything.

You have a website? Am I downloading something? Why not give me something interesting to read while the download occurs? Not more marketing fluff, as I've already committed to the download. You've sold me already. This is your chance to entertain me. Or to inspire me. Don't bore me, and don't sell me.

A mechanic down the street has a typical marquee with movable letters. But really, what kind of useful changing sign does a mechanic need? Pretty much anything he were to write on the sign would apply to only a small percentage of the people who look at it. Special on brake jobs this week? My brakes are fine, I'll ignore that sign for a while now.

Instead he simply changes out a joke every few weeks. Never a very good joke, but everyone who rides down the street knows the current joke, will comment upon previous jokes, and generally knows about the mechanic.

For example, this week's joke, from memory, is

I hate drinking Coke while ironing. It's soda pressing.

Nope, not good at all. But I remember it. I remember where I've seen it. And it actually provides a modicum of entertainment while sitting at the stop light, and later discussing with the wife while we have a snack, standing in the kitchen.

What are you putting on the back of the bag of chips your company sells?

Retro = Quality = Brand

14 February 2007

branding marketing retro

jourdier_bottle.gifTonight, since my wife had a fever, I went wandering around the house in search of aspirin. Of course I find the huge freaking tub of ibuprofen we picked up at Target a while ago. But I'm looking for aspirin. I finally open the right cabinet and find that distinctive aspirin-bottle-shaped bottle of aspirin. While returning to her, I started thinking about the packaging of aspirin.

Aspirin is certainly a commodity. The entire contents of the bottle (250 tablets) probably cost someone a dime to manufacture in Malaysia. There's no licensing fee for the formula and it's not very exotic. At one point, you would've had to license the Aspirin trademark, but that's no longer the case. Sure, Bufferin(R) has overcome some technical issues, effectively creating a better mouse-trap. But that probably means it costs a nickel more to manufacture.

How do you differentiate your aspirin from everyone else's? By making people feel good about taking good ol' old-fashioned aspirin. Like your grandmother used to use take. Ultimately, aspirin is a pretty good pain reliever. Newer doesn't necessarily mean better. Just ask anyone who's now having to take Sudafed PE.

bronner.jpgAn adventurous aspirin marketer could go retro. The good old days remind us of hand-crafted quality. Our forefathers didn't put up with no guff or fancy crap. Back in their day, aspirin worked and was all they needed (nevermind that BC Powder upstart). Since the contents of the bottle cost a dime, spend a tad more on a bottle and labeling that reflects the good ol' days before these new-fangled pain relievers confused the scene.

grooming-lounge_1936_324373.jpegIt's worked for Doctor Bronner and their fantastic soap. It's worked for Crew and their pomades and tonics. Why not for aspirin? Tell a story of a simpler time! Pepperidge Farm remembers!

Of course, most folks would just refill the nifty bottle from the Mongo-Sized 50,000 tablet barrel they picked up at Costco.

More Meme

02 February 2007

marketing meme meta-meme photography

Well, after the illness suffered by Pete, I thought the mouthful of mouse meme might've been dealt a death blow. Or at least a feel-like-death blow.

Then came Karen Marcelo. She's a sneezer with a camera and a mission. She's also a cow-orker, a cool SRL person, and the dorkbot-sf poobah.

Picture 3.png

Click the image above to jump over to the live Flickr tag. Which, by the way, isn't picking up every tagged photo. Probably has to something to do with Yahoo! being pure evil, taking away the old skool login. Yeah, that must be it.

It's interesting to watch the meme morph. Some folks had to adjust for corded mice. Some tried a side-saddle mouthification. Pretty evenly split as to if the participant used a hand to support the mouse, or if it was completely supported using just the jaws.

Be Incomparable

31 December 2006

food marketing

chek.jpgThe other night, browsing the local Target, I came across some Archer Farms Blueberry-Pomegranate Italian Soda. My oh my, it's tasty stuff. Archer Farms is just Target's own store brand (aka "generic"). Historically, store brands have been simply cheaper knock-offs of some brand-name product. This is still quite prevalent in the cereal aisle, displaying an assortment of Wheaty Spoonfuls, Krispin' Rice, Nutty Nuggets and Apple-O's. You'd buy them to save a few bucks. Same goes with store-brand sodas, such as Dr Chek and Dr Bob.

archer.jpg Target has taken the tact of actually producing incomparable products. I look on the shelf and see a unique bottle containing, of all things, Blueberry-Pomegranate Italian Soda, I start thinking twice if I really want to pick up that case of Pepsi, or even any cola product. I don't look at the bottle, and think "well, yes, but let me get the brand-name version of Blueberry-Pomegranate soda from the Coca-Cola Corporation." I gladly spend my money on the "generic" item of something that has no mainstream equivalent.

Target has a guaranteed distribution channel. They are already considered upscale when compared to Wal-mart, which is probably selling metric tons of Sam's Choice Cola every hour to the penny-pincher. Why not innovate and try something new? Plus now, when I get the hankering for some more funky fruit soda, I have to go to Target.