Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm Old Fashioned So Sue Me. But I am a Great Consumer Case Study

Most of you think Technology is about Cleverness. But it is not. It is Clever. But it preys on two Human constraints. Time and Laziness. If anyone saw the movie Wall-E, that is where we are heading. All those humans who did nothing but sit and have robots letting them rot into blobs that can't even walk let alone do things for themselves. Isn't Facebook 100% about Laziness? So I don't have to call a friend or see them in person? Isn't online shopping about Laziness so I don't have to get in my car and mingle with other people?

So Technology often is about laziness. Yes please say that again at least 217 times. It is. People will pay good money to cram more things into their days and allow them less effort in doing so.

Great Examples of Laziness Break Throughs:

Digital Phone Buttons: That rotary dial was killing me.
Digital Phone Books: I used to know about 50 people's phone numbers by heart. Now I know none.
Digital Music Collection: Because leafing through albums and then using a record player was a bummer.
Cars: Because Horses were a bitch to house and feed and ride.

But before these breakthroughs in Technology we were completely happy to walk somewhere. Or have long chats with a friend we haven't seen in quite some time.

But there are lessons learned. If you make a Great Product, offer Something Unique, or an Incredible Experience. People will do anything to patronize. We still drive long distances to see or experience, or go above and beyond to do something.

See my list of Blogs to the left, that I read by very thoughtful and insightful people? I do not have an RSS Feed or subscribe to anyone of them. I go there manually on my own, often. Because the content is compelling and exceptional.

And this might upset Marketers and Advertisers. But Great Products, Great Content, Great Experiences sell themselves. Advertising can tell people about something, but if the Product, Content, Experience sucks, it can not overcome that! But Great Products, Content, Experiences can overcome crappy Advertising or no Advertising.

I wish to give credit to @LizStrauss who during a chat last night on the Twitter said "many Brands are not sure what they sell or whom their customer is". She was correct. If you do not know what you sell you can't focus on making it best in class now can you? 

Focus not on honing your message or your branding, though this doesn't hurt. Focus on honing what you sell. The rest will take care of itself. That will condition your customers to come back. Whether it is to visit your website, read your writing, buy your product, watch your content or come to your store or restaurant. And conditioning is not about Laziness or Cleverness. Those Blogs to your left? They all conditioned me to visit on my own. And I do.

*photo credit above Walt Disney Pictures

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apple Sued for Allowing Apps to Collect Information They Shouldn't Be

LINK To Article

We all know our Government spies on us now thanks to 9/11 and the last Administration. We also are not surprised considered how slimy, shameful and deceitful the US has acted over the last 200 years. This is not a Politics blog so no need to go into the massive list. Plus if you are here most likely you completed high school. We also now are dealing with the TSA taking XRays of us to see us kind of naked now when we go take Airline Rides. Cities like New York and others have mounted cameras outside everywhere to watch our every move.

We all know Facebook exploits us buy selling every penny of data on us they can to Marketers and Brands whether we know it or not. Or tries to expose us or force us to share everything including where we are! We know that Twitter sold half the Feed to a company so they can mine it for data.

None of this surprises us. Every single entity I just named are pretty much doing these things for exploitation, profit, control, fear, nefarious reasons. And we have agreed so far or dealt with it.

But Apple? Apple has this aura of honesty about them. They don't play dirty. Even with their desire to control their platforms and devices in terms of how they are used or the programs that go on them, they have never before been accused of invading our privacy, selling our data, or doing anything offensive (to my knowledge). This is the company that allowed 45 Apps just for Fart Noises on it's phone. The company that has allowed an App that allows you to mimic snorting cocaine on it's phone. The company that has been looked at as a Rebel. Supporting subversives and those creative/artist types no one should trust!

I have two questions. Would these lawsuits damage their reputation and honor? And if they succeed what is the long term repercussions for the Mobile Device and App Industry. I am clueless if Android has the same issue. How many of these App's we get for free make their money by selling supposedly private data? Do we know?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Might Not Care About Your Brand, But You Had Better Available Via Social Media!

Yesterday I took a sledge hammer the size of Mt. McKinley and crushed the view being pushed that we all want to talk with you the Brand via Social Media and bring you into our busy lives every day. LINK

Now that your feelings have been hurt, and the CEO just called you into his office because he smells a bunch of BS oozing from your last presentation, wipe your tears. All is not lost.There are some simple reasons to have a Social Media Strategy and be out there via Social. Here are some good reasons:

1] Listening - This is free intelligence on what people are saying about you, your industry, and your competitors. No need to pay a company to do research or create focus groups. Think of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs etc as one big focus group. People will be much more unbiased and willing to tell the truth. Mine this data and use it to improve your products, get pricing feedback, ideas for what the market is seeking. This is critical because your competition is doing this!

2] Conversations - Stop viewing conversations 1 on 1. You need to climb a ladder, take an elevator to the top floor and look down. Even if the people talking with you pop in and out, some not seen back for days, weeks, months, everything aggregated together is one big running dialogue. This is completely tied to my first point above. You can do two things. Let your customers drive the dialogue and see where it is going in a nice feedback loop, or you can drive it. Say you never knew tons of people wished your product had an offering in a new color or there is a problem with packaging. You can get direct feedback as well as gauge the level of importance. Or you can ask the questions and get their instant feedback.

3] Customer Service - This one is a double edged sword. Are people seeking to connect via Social because your traditional customer service sucks? Aka Comcast Cares? Where most people rot on hold, wait for days for email returns, or can't figure out your FAQ page? This makes Social a Bandaid. But hey better to help 3% of your customers via Social than Zero via the traditional channels right? I don't like this one bit. Fix your business model. But this could become a shift in the right direction.

Craft a strategy. Figure out how this can work. Chis Baccus (@cbaccus) who is Executive Director of Digital and Social Media at ATT has set up their Facebook Fan Page for this with each post for help being answered by someone in customer service. It isn't perfect and only helps a small portion of their customers but it works. It can be complicated handling all the requests because it can not be automated, people want people, but plenty of technologies and Agencies exist that can help you with solutions for your type of business.

So maybe most people do not want to engage with you via Social on your terms. But they do, and they will on their terms. You should be there waiting for them. Whether they chime in with a kudos, or a complaint. Or maybe today they wish to discuss something, but won't be back for 3 months. It is a public and human face. And if you do a good job it can improve the view of your company in public and personal perception.

Because what happens if you are not there, when this bratty customer decides they need to vent, whine, or complain? They will vent, whine, and complain even louder! And what happens if this customer of unflagging devotion wants to sing your praise from the highest social media mountain in the land and you are not there? They will feel a void. That you don't care. Plus how can you turn down free intelligence, feedback, and an opportunity to engage with a customer when they decide to initiate it?

Monday, December 27, 2010

I just don't care about your Brand, your Company, or your Product

Seriously. Why should I engage with you via Social Media? I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. It keeps me up to date with some of my favorite musical artists and DJ's and some of my Social Communities. I chat on Twitter for Business Networking purposes with many of my connections turning into true friendships even over long distances. It is a place for discovery. For insight. And now many of my Facebook friends (real life friends) are migrating to Twitter which I am excited about.

I only have so much time in the day. I will allocate 10 mins a day for Brands. I have 5,000 Brands and Businesses that want to talk to me. You want to engage with me? Well those Social Networks, Mashables, and Social Media Rockstars that tell you everyone wants to talk with you are lying our their ass. They care about only one thing and trust me that is not you or your Brand. It's their bank account.

What makes you special?

Chances are you are not special. Chances are you are like every other Brand out there. If I want to engage with you its on my terms not yours. My conditions and circumstances. Can't I already call you 24/7, go to your website, show up at your store or business and talk with your employees anytime I want? Can't I engage with you by watching your TV commercials, seeing your Billboards, reading your Print Ads? Can't I turn off Ad Blocker Plus on my browser if I want to see your digital ads? Don't I already get emails from you because I signed up but now never open them because I get 500 a day?

What makes you special?

You already reach me in more places than I want to be reached. Why should I want to engage with you via Social Media? I know you are there. Trust me. We all know you are there. But sorry I don't need to talk to my Trash Bags, my Kitchen Appliances, my Beer, my Hamburger today. I am busy. What makes you so special that I should allow you into my busy life on the same terms of my best friend, my sister, my girlfriend, or my favorite DJ or Band?

I either already think you are special. And all of us have favorites. But if you are already my favorite I am already a brand ambassador. I am already telling friends via Social and Offline about you. I am already buying your product or patronizing your business because you are a favorite. Even if I don't engage with you via Social Media. And I would probably talk with you via Social but is it adding sales? Probably not. You already have mine cornered!

For the rest of you. Make yourself special. Show me why I should engage with you via Social Media. If you can't. Leave me alone. I bet we all feel this way. We all have MAYBE time for 10 or 20 Brands in our life via Social Media in terms of consistent participation and communication, out of the 1,000's that want my attention. Good luck making that list. Do you know how many Brands want my attention right now? Everyone in my local yellow pages. Every Brand I see on a TV commercial. Every Brand I see on the billboards when I drive by.

I wish to state this post is only focused on the false snake oil being pushed by many Social Media Talking Heads, Mashables, and the Facebooks that we wish to engage with a ton of Brands 24/7 in a non-stop conversation making them a part of our lives via Social. My next post will cover why it's good to be there and accessible should someone wish to connect for whatever reason. 

Make yourself special. Show me you are special. 
Don't you wish you were special? Do you know how?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

We will return after Christmas. Until then have a very safe and healthy Holiday Weekend!

And while I know this blog is not in the Top 100 for Readership, for those of you who have suffered through my rants I am humbly grateful and hope you sometimes have laughed and even once or twice found some insight!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Use Advertising to Create Hatred for Your Brand

This is a really easy how too Blog Post. This will enable you to take people who have a positive image of your Brand or Product and turn that slowly into simmering hatred and loathing. It's really easy. Follow these simple steps and you are on your way to success!

Step One: Create your really freaking cool commercial.

Step Two: Pick a really F*$%ing Annoying Soundtrack that destroys the really freaking cool commercial.

Step Three: Hire a really horrible media planner.

When picking a Soundtrack you have two simple choices:

Choose something cutesy but that over time with so many repetitive showings makes you throw your remote at the TV, to scream in panic and run out of the room, or vow never to buy that Brand products ever again. Normally the problem here lies in the really bad media planning more so than the song. Remember it's cutesy so we don't hate it at first!

Apple does a great job here by stealing the Key Board Cat Song. It's cute when the Cat Plays the Piano. It was ok the first time I saw the commercial. Now I just want to smash every IPad I see when this comes on. It's the repetitive nature like the sound of a dentist drill to me now.

Your second choice is to choose a really freaking derivative pop band that is a current pop culture darling. One that steals their music from great bands of yesterday and add their catching annoying song to your really freaking cool commercial. Then make sure this commercial is so over bought by crappy media planning that you will see it several times every half hour. Sometimes twice in the same commercial break.

I once owned a Honda Civic. Now not only do I hate Honda I try to run Civics off the road because of this loathsome Vampire Weekend song that rips off the early 70's Kinks so bad they should owe the Kinks royalties.

And you are done. You have successfully turned lovers into haters. And not just any haters. Haters that will go to great lengths to trash your brand via Social Media, in person Word of Mouth, even possibly paying for sky writers at the beach in the summer to slam your great Product and Brand over crappy sound tracks and media planning! Something to be said for the old school original jingle writer I must say! And again if this commercial wasn't on 3,000 times a day it wouldn't be half as bad.

*my apologies to people who love Keyboard Cat, Apple, and Honda. If you own Vampire Weekend I read their Rollingstone Interview. Cool guys but sorry I am a music snob and hate pop music. For reference check out the Kink's 1970 Album LINK

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beating Social Influence to Death!

Klout has been in the news, and many, too many Bloggers have been hammering on Social Influence Currency and how Businesses are going to basically discriminate against people with low scores. I know this benefits many talking heads and many of the businesses like Klout trying to become the default tool to see who to treat special.


Here are 8 people to check out with their Klout Scores compared to mine. These people all have bigger networks than me. They all have real friends where they live, I think (seriously I do not all mine are in NYC (like @cmonstah),West Coast, elsewhere. Not where I am because I live in the Forest with Coyotes and Wild Turkey's as I transition back East after 17 years in LA) My Facebook network has a lot of people who are very influential in the West Coast and some in NYC for Fashion, Music, Art, etc. But my Facebook profile is 100% private, so Klout has no idea who my friends are aside from Twitter. Maybe I have been more selective in whom I connect with on Twitter? Whenever I run my Social Influence it often pitiful compared to most. Except for Klout! But the other 8 people here get paid to give talks at conferences and at businesses, paid to travel, have very impressive positions at the businesses they work at or run, they do Podcasts, have influential blogs, write books, etc.

Maybe I have a self deprecating view of myself. I will say I seriously value my Twitter network. I do value Quality over Quantity. But this still does not make sense. That the Palms in Vegas would rank me equal or above these Rock Stars?! Bad Marketing Decision if this is based on Klout!

BTW I seriously recommend following all the folks listed here from my Twitter network. They truly bring great value and insight. Plus now they are now famous! Contact me if you want their autographs for just a small fee of course!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is Facebook Waning? Is Social Losing its Luster?

In November I blogged that Facebook has experienced a 22% drop in time spent per active user per day on the network since April 2010 from 55mins to 43mins. Of course Facebook to hide this fact switched from stating 55mins on their Stats Page to 700Billion minutes per month hoping no one would do the math and all of us would just say OOOH....AHHHHH!

Now comes this totally unrelated article from CNet in my email that further backs this theory of less network usage. I am not sure the reason, whether it's privacy, fatigue, people aren't as enamored with sharing as they had been?

In April 2010 Facebook claimed 3bil photos uploaded each month. Now per this article to sound better, they use the 100mil photos per day! At the time they claimed 400mil active monthly users. Now they claim 540mil. See where I am heading?  

Per user number of photos uploaded to Facebook has dropped 26% since April 2010! Now it's down from a whopping 7.5 to only 5.5 Photos Per Month Per Active User. Yawn!

Why is this? Is this the beginning of a slide? A fall? Is Social Media losing it's luster and hype? Twitter has had an explosion in accounts but not users per month which has been flat for the last year at around 25mil in the US. Where are the people migrating to online or offline? This is important to find out for Investors, for Marketers, for Brands, for VC's, and for anyone looking to start a business in the Social Media Technology space. 

Social is a HUGE space. Are we re-fragmenting moving to other Social Networks and Technologies? Or moving more of our time to non-Social Media?

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Visa and the why the Facebook Business Model Will Fail

Big news this week. Visa jumps into the LBS world for deals. See article from Media Post:

I blogged back in May that if Facebook charged $3/month, got just 200mil to pony up they would instantly have $7.2bil in revenues, rank 314 on the Fortune 500, could shut out all marketing efforts, forget Brands, forget Advertising, make the network 100% private and focus just on reinvesting in a killer Communications Platform that could compete with anyone. Now this failure is GLARING!

Visa has something Facebook doesn't. Everyone has Visa Credit and Debit Cards. In fact I am sure this far surpasses how many people use Facebook more than once per week (my guess is Facebook has about 300mil users who log in more than once per week). They also have something Facebook and FourSquare and everyone else lacks....CUSTOMERS!

Facebook, Foursquare, etc basically have to cold call and pitch their LBS services. I bet the GAP Deals effort for Facebook took 2-3 months of effort, and I still suspect Facebook paid for the cost of the promotion. Visa just has to include a sales pitch for their LBS services in their monthly bills to its customers. Imagine in every credit card statement a flier on how their LBS works shows up? That every bill sent to a business that uses Visa for Transactions gets the same?

Now lets look at the ammo! Visa Ranks 326 on the Fortune 500 with almost $7bil in revenues. More key is they made $2.3Bil in profits last year! Their profits was over 1.5x Facebook's revenues. These guys can torch everyone in LBS with really only Mastercard possibly competing.

When went IPO the reason I said they would fail is not because people wouldn't buy Pet Food online, it was because Walmart can step in and crush them instantly. My money is on Visa.

I will leave you with this thought. What do you view the value of Facebook now if Deals and Places are dead? People want deals. We don't give a flying pig about sharing that info with our friends on Social Networks. We only do that because we get forced too!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Funk..err I mean Blog Phenomena

This isn't a strategy post. Or a rant against Facebook. Or even me going off the board with some bizarre topic like Ice Fishing. It is a statement on today's social and professional communication infrastructure, possibly a threat to Colleges and Universities, and possibly a threat to this planet Earth. Yes a threat to this planet. Yes....I am talking about Blogs. You might want to sit down before reading the rest of this post. Sitting? Now please remain calm.

Blogs have become in my opinion the forefront in academic and social collusion and mind control. If you look at the black board behind me you will see the dots connected. It is definitely a Steve Jobs - Barack Obama - Lindsay Lohan - Josef Stalin Conspiracy of the highest order. Blogs. You read them. You write them. But now can you give them up? Could you ever go cold turkey? NO! You are hooked! 

How else can you get to know someone whom you admire in all sorts of industries or places in life. Everyone has a Blog. From simple to elaborate. Like Venus Fly Traps still and poised to trap you! You the one who said they would never be trapped in a bad relationship, yet you can not stop Blogging! Or reading Blogs. Or tweeting about Blogs.

I myself don't have enough time to read all the Blogs I want to read. I can't even keep up with the list on the left. There are about 20 other Blogs worth being listed. At least. And over 100 on a second list. I need more space on this Blog to list the Blogs I read. I need more time to read the Blogs I love and comment and get Livefyre Points. If all the cool people on Earth all Blogged time would stand still! News and Media would collapse. Universities would crumble. The Earth would shatter under the weight of all this Blogging.

What a better way to get educated and learn by connecting with the best and the brightest. And they are all Blogging. I bet even Bono blogs. And no Blog is too big or too small. Or too warm or too cold. Or too firm or too soft. Well sometimes too firm. They are portals into the soul, heart, and mind of an individual. And since we all know how sick and twisted humans are we feed on their passions, their anger, their knowledge, their fears, and their loves....gorging on what they offer...until we either consume them completely...or get consumed ourselves.

Blogs. The Blog Phenomena

Monday, December 13, 2010

For Digital You Have To Be Crafty..Yes Crafty! Word

The biggest challenge in the Ad Industry is getting your advertising message watched, read, or listened to by your target demographic, in a manner that allows them to focus solely on it. 

We all know this is a pipe dream for most Media Platforms. Your ad is either grouped with others, or in a place that it competes with other sensory distractions. There are still a few select places you can guarantee your message gets through such as inside Subway Cars. And the best campaign content will fail if the right people do not see it.

When it comes to Digital it is even more complex. FireFox has a big chunk of the Browser Market. Two popular Ad On's block most digital ads (Ad Blocker Plus) and ad networks (No Scripts). One thing I take offense at is that 'Creatives' in Advertising are only the people making Commercials, Graphics, Digital Content. Yes they are Creative. Just like those who dream up the big picture campaign, there are those Creatives that work in Strategy which is our focus.

How do you reach the ever more elusive target?

Kudos to YFrog! 

A devoted fan of one of my clients, posted this picture up on Twitter, and we like to share these photos with their Twitter followers. And low and behold the new Fockers Movie ad made it past both Ad Blocker Plus and No Scripts. This works. It took some creativity. It was simple. It's guaranteed to be seen. If YFrog wanted to (if they are not already), it could analyze the public network info for each Twitter user to make an educated guess at what demographic most likely will click through any photos they post to ensure relevance of the Ad to the Viewer.

If you are wondering the photo is for the seasonal treat called the Snowflake BOO-Yah!! Its Two Oven Warm Snickerdoodle Cookies with fresh creamy handmade EggNogg w/Bourbon + Toffee Ice Cream. Both 100% all natural, no preservatives, locally handmade in Los Angeles.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This Commercial is the BOMB!

This seriously is one of my five favorites out now. I also loved the previous Kia Soul and the one for the Sorrento with the Sock Monkey Rave.

But this also gives a great case study in Advertising especially for Automotive. Where our secret Alien Underground Pre-Invasion Intelligence Headquarters is located, one of the biggest Kia Dealerships is based. I see Soul's around town, but normally the driver is over 50 and smoking a cigarette. Don't know why but I have seen more than 3! I rarely see anyone this commercial's demographic is aimed at. My point being it doesn't matter how you portray an automobile in Advertising. The minute they hit the street they are what they are. In this case I see a smallish boxy vehicle not that much bigger than the old Suzuki Samauri's but hard top. With older almost retired smokers driving them.

But damn I love this commercial and will watch Kia commercial's over and over again. Whether or not the fact I would not buy a Kia nowadays means it's wasted Ad Spend each time I am counted in the numbers they pay for is something to ponder. This is something I rail against often and I am definitely not in their demographic for this car. Or maybe in 10 years it will have planted the seed when their cars improve in the way Hyundai's have. Out of the blue the Sonata is nicest looking family four door sedan out there from the far east.

For a great blog dedicated to covering Automotive Advertising: Chris Baccus' - The Automotive Marketing Blog

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Behind the Glamour of the Chief Alien

I get this all the time, especially when I meet someone and we exchange cards.

"What is it like to be Chief Alien? It is something I have always dreamed of but knew the chances were such a long shot I completely blocked even a thought of it from my mind. But since You are a Chief Alien, I just gotta know. What's it like? C'mon I am dying to know?

And you all were thinking how awesome this life could be for you. Well it's not all glamour, free space daiquiri's, and all the best party invites (though there is plenty of that). Real work goes on behind the scenes. Work over stale cups of day old coffee, and work hours way into the night. In fact to prove it......

After a long nights sleep in my Atmospheric Conditioning Pod, I wake to this:

A spattering of Trade News Emails.

The dashes are all the commentors via LiveFyre from Spin Sucks and check it out: I got 1 LiveFyre point! Totally rocking those LiveFyre points! When someone Like's your comment you get a point. Grow Blog and Creativity Unbound blogs are also pretty solid places you can earn these valuable points. I heard one day there will be a catalog with valuable prizes you can buy with them including diamonds, cars, and trips to Europe (editors note: this last part has not be confirmed and thus must be deemed highly unlikely)

One new out of way left field Twitter follower (maybe they want marketing help?! But I am a big bacon fan...sigh) 

Two yellow highlighted work related emails, yes BOO-Yahs!! are part of my daily work life.

And of course the X showcases the daily email from Hong Kong to discuss the electronic bank transfer of $50mil to the US for a generous commission to me. In which I always respond "Send it in small bills to a secret location and its a deal". I get so little spam but this Mr. Lee is a shifty fellow.

So there you go. No emails from world famous SuperStar DJ's (they call me directly), no invites from Buffet to Davos (was told next year...maybe) or my agent trying to get me onto Celebrity Alien Rehab (more likely) or the Amazing Echelon Class Space Cruiser Race (less likely), not even a new Daiquiri recipe! I swear sometimes really big incredible awesome stuff goes on, but the life of Chief Alien is not as Glamorous as you all might think. 

So maybe that job you have now is sounding really freaking AWESOME now!

PS: Dear Email Marketer try making your way through to me via this inbox!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Privacy, no not the Facebook kind

Matthew Dowd of the National Journal wrote an excellent piece on Wiki-Leaks which takes a very nice perspective on Privacy when it comes to Journalists, the US Government, and the US People.

I recently guest blogged on Spin Sucks where I felt new tools and networks coming out will give us more control regarding how we distribute content and communicate, including who gets to see this content and communication. One response to my post was that everything is public on the internet. But really that is untrue. Business's like Google might know all the websites we visit and see into so much of our lives, the only reason we use them is based on trust. We have a right to privacy. Just because some of our communication technologies lack privacy doesn't mean we don't want it. Remember smoke signals? I am sure they had secret codes to not everyone could read them?

So the article by Mr. Dowd cuts to the heart of Privacy. Wouldn't transparency be more acceptable if everyone including businesses had to behave this way? In NY State we just blocked Natural Gas drilling because the companies refuse to say what chemicals are being used. NY Times LINK Meanwhile Pennsylvania is experiencing water pollution from the gas drilling. Why are they allowed Privacy and I am not? If I could monitor everything Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg did, sat in on their private strategy meetings, always knew the truth behind their actions, I would trust more, even if I did not agree with them.

Is this any different for our relationship with our Governmental bodies?