Wednesday, 21 January 2009

10 Digital Attitudes to help your Company Survive the Recession

1)  Big Online Brand Lessons for Offline Brands

The brands that will weather the recession are online brands like Amazon, Google and Pay Pal.  Web only brands, great market share, and they know what they are doing.  They are also flexible, and do not need tonnes of bricks and mortar to do business.  Did you ever see that documentary on Amazon?  Huge warehouses... thousands of miles of conveyor belts, millions of books and almost no people.  All brands have to learn from these and become more efficient, and by efficient, I mean net driven.  A little investment today creates great efficiency and a recession proof path to market.  Not doing digital means not being flexible, efficient, modern or competitive in today’s world of marketing.  No digital front door, no digital communications and a huge limitation on the number of customers.


2)  Carrying out your own research

First class of Bus Org in 1984, and Greg O’Conner asked what the most important element of any business was.  He wrote the school books on Bus Org at the time.  No one guessed... The answer? Market research... A lesson I never forgot it... probably because I slept through the rest of the course.

Research online is more efficient than research has ever been.  But, be warned, buying software is no more likely to make you a researcher than booking a hotel room makes your chat with drink softened strangers a research focus group.  Still, I recommend buying the best software you can, not the cheapest, and make sure there’s training and support and you can save thousands on expensive market research options.  Inquisite is good but costs a bit.  Cheap/free software like surveymonkey is just too simple, and will never give you the outputs you need.  Like everything else, you gets what you pays for!  Use other software to research word of mouth online.  Quick, efficient and clean.  Net Behaviour can also help here with our funky new buzz monitor service.

3)  Added Value

More for the same money, especially when services are bundled together.  More impressions, more tracking, more reporting, more data, more customers delivered to the client.  We just have to work harder and we’ll make the same money!


4)  Inspiration and the Multi-disciplinary


Now is the time for multi-disciplinary people on the pay roll.  The set that can turn their hand to most things, but most importantly have special interests of their own, which constitutes them as experts in one or two sectors.  Someone is good at video games in the office, someone else can blog, another has a keen eye for good viral marketing executions, while someone else can get stuck in the backend of data driven systems and get outputs that are in plain English.  These are the people for today’s marketing team.  Quirky originality and talent is good.  This is the age of the nerd.


5)  Packaging and Bundling Reductions

We’re seeking to bundle our services to create efficiencies for our customer base, and think you should do the same.  Advertising, brand tracking, creative and blog monitoring with a single all-in value cost.  Also you should explore such things like content generation, customer relationship management, but above all, make sure that any mix you come up with is innovative and creative and exciting, but simple and buyable too.  Fix a price people can afford above inviting a negotiation which ever increasing costs that will make a customer nervous.  And, stick to the price.

6)  Digital Literacy


Without foreknowledge of the scale of the disasters that would hit 2009, I did loosely predict in a previous post that the digital literacy divide would grow, and today staying on the right side of that literacy equation for the modern marketer has become both an imperative for themselves and for their companies.  The most efficient way of doing things is also the best value, and computer driven solutions are 1000s of times more efficient than others... especially for advertisers.  The net is more efficient in terms of time, cost, value, flexibility, effectiveness and consequently gives better ROI.  The super Google PPC bidding system for example has revolutionised ad buying for all media in my opinion and it works because of giant computer silos munching all that valuable search/need data.  What we’ve seen from these guys is only the beginning, but understanding and learning how to get the most from Google inventions is only at the early stages too.  When you hear someone who says ‘I know a guy who knows all that stuff,’ they don’t! No one does.  It is the utterance and wishful thinking on the part of the net illiterate who wants to persuade you they are safely on the digital bandwagon.  

Indeed travelling today’s digital landscape is an ongoing battle to speak new languages and understand new concepts as you progress.  It’s an ongoing exploration of such scale it would have made the likes of Alexander the Great or Marco Polo stay at home and stare at the wall. But then again, these guys were at the forefront of the technology of their time.  Siege engines, war machines, cartography and natural science maybe, but there's a lesson there too surely.


7)  Experimental Marketing


With new challenges come new approaches.  Innovation is the cornerstone of successful marketing in 2009, and this means mixing old modes of communication, and coming up with killer ideas which explain the essence of a brand in the modern context.  (Easy to say, hard to do,  has to be done.) There is no time for new marketers to say they don’t understand the net, or don’t believe in digital, because it is just too efficient and turn-on-and-offable to ignore.  People who think this way are as inescapably on the verge of extinction as those who defended the steam engine.  Yes, other things work, and will get you there safely, but if you don’t see it, you don’t get it or don’t want to because you haven’t the time to take to understand why digital is better.  Maybe you’re afraid of going too fast? 


From a pure advertising point of view, lessons from the Walkers crisps in recent times show that this could be the most creative and exciting cross mode, including digital, marketing time this century.  I want to taste Cajun Squirrel crisps, to see if they do taste better than my flavour, New York Pastrami and Gherkin and I’ll buy a pack as a result as will about 3 million others in a similar predicament.  That's clever marketing, and who'd have though it would be for the humble bag of crisps.


8)  The Opportunity presented by Needs Must


We all must still do business despite the incessant news of doom and gloom, and we just have to be cleverer about it.  And if budgets have been cut, you still have to do something.  In fact, I’d say that those who can’t afford today’s digital solutions probably can’t afford anything... and have probably already gone bust.  But, for those who haven’t... seek and you shall find and who dares wins and other clichés. With digital comes a myriad of opportunities.  Those who were there when the dot com bubble burst and got the net bug knew there were opportunities then despite the almost total lack of business.  Things are infinitely rosier now thanks to broadband, iPhone, Social Networks and the rest of the tech developments that exponentially expand the reach of this most versatile two directional medium the world has ever seen.


9)  Cheap Luxuries Mentality brings the Masses Online in Droves


An economic truth: when times get tougher people still need to cheer themselves up with luxuries and the cheaper ones grow in popularity.  Pizzas and takeaways replace the restaurant, cans in replaces pub nights out, lipstick and knickers are sold by the truckload instead of that gúna nua. Video rentals also increase.  Well, the net has cheap or free music, video, TV, films, chat, dating, games, Skype, web text and even porn... and all-in for a single cheap monthly charge.   So, this is where your customers are going are spending more and more of their spare time and they’re likely to have much more of this too.  Net use kills time so more effectively than TV or radio, and young hardly ever buy newspapers these days. 

10)      IP Society

And best of all the Internet is a social activity. When you maybe can’t afford to be physically social, virtually social beats solo every time.  TV used to be social, but now people are watching videos in bedrooms, on DVD players, or other devices, so they’re not sitting getting embarrassed in front of their parents when something rude happens on the box in the corner. 

These days, things are much less family oriented and much more solo and this where the net comes into its own.  It’s a physically solo, virtually social networking balance which seems to satisfy the social needs of humans in this progressively solitary age.  Sitting alone at home with a can chatting or playing a game or watching videos with mates on the Internet feels much less sad and lonely than the same evening spent staring at Desperate Housewives, ER and QI. Your mates are home alone with you after all - texting, chatting and calling you for free.

And, for the business man, since your customers are online, you need to be there, or they won’t even know you exist.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Listening to the Blogosphere

Listening, I was taught as a child, is an art.  Quite strange really, for a house where all seven of us kids had something to say that was just so important we all had to say it at same time while getting steadily louder and louder until either the food was gone or someone lost their voice, or tempers frayed and it ended in chaos.  In fact, dinner in the Kelly house resembled less the orderly meal of the model of the civilized South Dublin society than the scene from a Rwandan refugee camp when the UN are flinging rations to the heaving, starving, roaring masses.

That being said... there was a lesson to be learned.  If you want to say something, find a calm quiet forum to say it, communicate it in a clear, calm, consistent manner and if it doesn’t get heard, write it down.  That’s what blogs are for.  They are for writing something down for others to read in their own time.  If readers don’t agree with what you’ve written, they can comment, again, in their own time, and you can reply in yours.  The problem with the Irish blogosphere however is that it is as crowded as the aforementioned refugee camp, and though everyone is writing it down instead of shouting, few are listening. There’s just too much noise.  The quality of what is written varies hugely too.  Few have the time to sift through the good, the bad and the ugly of the thousands of blogs out there to find the relevant and interesting discussions that they’re looking for.  RSS feeds help, but I find with these I still miss out on new blogs and relevant discussions that I haven’t got tagged for my reader.  To be frank, I think the Irish blogosphere is a lot like the Kelly Kitchen to the power of n. Some things never change.

Well, that’s not quite true...  because one doesn’t listen to the Internet, (yet).  One has to search, find and read, and this is what a lot of people do when they have an issue, like a health issue like a child with Down’s Syndrome or a pregnancy maybe.  Or otherwise if they are making a big purchase, like car insurance or a house a house move.  Or alternately if something has made them angry or emotional they may want to find other people in a similar state.  Times like these are when the blogosphere comes into its own.

But what if you are a company and you need to listen to what’s being said about you, your products or services.  Well, this is where you need help.

There are many ways of searching the net for blogs, and finding them... of course.  Everyone knows that.  But there are just a few ways of listening to what is being said on the millions of blogs that live, are born and die every day in cyberspace. 

Net Behaviour has some funky software that helps us do it for you.  We can listen for any mentions of companies or topics of interest, or people, and give reports on the level of noise, or buzz around specific topics or items of interest.  We can then take all the comments about a topic, and categories and organise them into a report for you.

So, if you’re concerned about what’s being said about your company, or a company you represent online... talk to us about helping keep things kosher blogwise.  It is important because it is so easy for a disgruntled employee, or client to mess things up for you in blogspace... or even a sly competitor for the matter.  It’s always better to keep tabs on these things especially if you are planning a clear marketing message.  The last thing you want is for banter on the blogosphere to pull the rug out from under you before you begin.  Forewarned is forearmed after all.  We can help because we know how these things work, and if we know what you want to achieve, we can ensure that if something is going on behind your blog back you’ll know about it and you’ll be able to get your message across.

Now that you’ve read my blog post and seen what I had to say, can you please pass the ketchup?   Sheesh!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Make that 26

...and Instant messaging!