Tagged by: Bad Marketing

The Best Marketing & Strategy Books

Best Marketing Strategy Books

These are the Top Marketing & Strategy Books of all time.

My favorites, the ones that shaped my thinking and taught me the most. A few leadership and management books thrown in as an extra. These are the books I would recommend to someone who wants to become an awesome marketer, strategist or leader – students, product marketers and CEOs.

I would love to hear what books you think I should add to the list, please add your suggestions in the comments.

I love reading. In addition to Kindle, I have listened to probably a hundred books on  Audible.com. I stopped listening to music on my commute, instead I have had the opportunity to learn a lot from dozens of authors. I really recommend it, try Audible here, you get two books free.

These are the Top Marketing & Strategy Books of all time. My favorites, the ones that shaped my thinking and taught...

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What is Growth Hacking and What Can Good Marketers Learn from It?

Growth Hacking is Good Marketing

The latest buzz in startups is Growth Hacking. It sounds like some secret formula to grow companies to billions in valuation. But what is growth Hacking? What does it mean for marketers and for businesses? Is it Marketing 2.0 (or 3.0 or whatever version we are on +1)?

I have found the definitions by those who created the term to be inaccurate or of little value.  At first glance, it could appear that growth hacking is a marketing buzzword about marketing created by non-marketers.

After taking a closer look and reading all I could about it, I found that in trying to learn from it, a pure definition would not be as valuable as an observation of Gowth Hacking characteristics are:

  • Typically found in early stage startups – with no formal marketing teams or budget
  • Where marketing is performed by engineers or non-career marketers
  • That uses smart, cheap and unconventional methods to grow the business
  • With a strong focus on analytics, metrics, virality and scalability

Advocates of the term call out DropBox, Twitter and even Hotmail as success stories that prove the value of growth hacking. This view is somewhat misleading as there are a hundred startups following growth hacking techniques that won’t survive to their next round of financing. Which only proves there is no secret formula or buzzword that guarantees success.

The only guarantee of success is to have a great strategy, a great product, a great team, and great execution.  But let’s focus on what marketers can learn from growth hackers:

The latest buzz in startups is Growth Hacking. It sounds like some secret formula to grow companies to billions in valua...

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10 Marketing Observations from the 2014 Super Bowl Ads

Surprisingly, the Super Bowl is not the most-viewed sports event in the world. At some 150 million viewers, it represents a fraction of the estimated 720 million viewers for the FIFA World Cup final.  Despite this fact, it remains the largest advertising event in the world.

According to an informal survey we ran last week, over 60% of Super Bowl viewers claimed to watch the game just as much, or more for the ads.  Welcome to the Ad Bowl.

Why do people watch the SuperBowl

By now there are probably a couple dozen lists of top Super Bowl ads, and everyone has begun expressing their own opinions. In this post, I will share my observations on the marketing strategies of the brands and the effectiveness of their ads, as well as general advertising trends. Please add your observations in the comments section.

Surprisingly, the Super Bowl is not the most-viewed sports event in the world. At some 150 million viewers, it represent...

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Is Your Marketing Message Visual, Understandable and Effective?

Marketingspeak

Patton Oswalt, the famous comedian, has a skit where he made fun of movie titles he thought were lame like “Something’s Gotta Give” or “Audacity” because they don’t tell you what the movie is about.

He then talked about the move Texas Chainsaw Massacre and he explained how as you hear each word, an image is forming in your mid. “Texas….Chainsaw…Massacre…. sounds like a great movie! I want to go! You can see the movie in your head, for free!

How does that compare to the messages that we marketers sometimes create? let’s look at some examples:

Take a look at this copy from a Toyota print ad ‘A quantum leap in interior refinement, and the uncompromising new shape of things to come from Toyota’. A lot of words, very little meaning. I can’t see a movie, or even a picture in my head.

Or this email I recently received from Dell – the headlined read “Get end-to-end solutions that go beyond making ends meet”. Can you guess what they are talking about? The message showed a banner that read: ‘Enjoy free shipping and easy returns on Dell.com’. Then a headline promised ‘Turn big ideas into cash big flow’ .Now I was seriously confused. What movie is in your head? it went on: ‘One Place. Countless ways to better manage your business’ finances.’. Do you have a clue what is Dell trying to tell me in this email?

Patton Oswalt, the famous comedian, has a skit where he made fun of movie titles he thought were lame like "Something's...

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Content Marketing as an Antidote to Discounting

Flying back from San Francisco, I open the in-flight magazine and a half-page ad by Riedel catches my eye. Riedel a German company and one of the best known manufacturers of high quality wine glasses.

riedelad-275x300

It is a premium brand: a pair of wine glasses especially designed for Cabernet and Merlot retails for about $50. Their customers are either wine enthusiasts or people with a lot of money who don’t mind spending $25 for a wine glass.

It is a nice looking ad, but I was surprised to see the ad’s main message is an offer of  20% discount for a purchase of $100 or more. It does not seem to fit the brand. At the same time, it was not that surprising to see a discount oriented message: it is the easy answer.   ‘What should be the message? I know, let’s offer a 20% discount’

When a marketer’s creativity runs out he defaults back to price discounts.

Flying back from San Francisco, I open the in-flight magazine and a half-page ad by Riedel catches my eye. Riedel a Germ...

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A Pricing Lesson from the Concorde

Are you pricing your products right or are you leaving money on the table?

The Concorde was one of the most innovative machines ever built. The first and only supersonic commercial aircraft capable of flying at twice the speed of sound is also one of the most beautiful machines ever built. The Concorde story provides an interesting lesson on pricing.

During the first 6 years of operation, the fantastic Concorde lost money for British Airways. Losses were so bad, in 1982 BA’s boss Sir John King gave the responsibilities of the newly created Concorde division to  Captain Brian Walpole and gave him two years to turn Concorde losses into profits. If he failed, BA would terminate operations, shutting down Concorde for good.

The COncorde team decided to do some market research. They asked businessmen how much they thought a Concorde ticket cost. The answer, “Most of them didn’t know. It was their secretaries or travel companies doing the bookings. When they were asked to guess, because they were senior, very important people, they all guessed that the fare was higher. ” – explained Captain Jock Lowe, Concorde resource & Planning Manager.

This insight led to a new pricing strategy. Captain Lowe described “So very simply, we said, we’ll charge them what they think they are paying. And so we put the fares up”.  There was a discrepancy between what the company was charging and the value customers saw in the product. Have you asked your customers how valuable is your product or service to them?

Concorde ticket prices were doubled to over $7,000,  one way, in today’s prices. As a result, Concorde was repositioned to provide a super-elite class for bankers, the rich, and the famous. Concorde became the place to be seen.

Despite the high price, sales were very strong.  For one particular day, half the tickets for its first fare-paying London-New York flight were sold out in the first two hours of booking, (source).

Concorde started making money. Lots of it. “We made about $500 million pounds in net, clear profit.”. Estimates point to $50 million pounds in profit per year. That’s significant, even for a company the size of BA.

Many companies build their pricing strategies based on cost + margin. Often, there is a predetermined margin based on an overall pricing strategy or on a corporate profitability target. The story of Concorde sows us the power of market-based pricing and the importance of understanding the true value of the products and services your company offers. Do you know what is the price elasticity of your products?

Source: “Concorde, Flying Supersonic” – Smithsonian TV, 2010

Concorde photo courtesy Flickr user Howard N2GOT – Creative Commons

Are you pricing your products right or are you leaving money on the table? The Concorde was one of the most innovative m...

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Facebook Marketing – What Makes Sense?

This week Sucharita Mulpuru wrote a blog post about Facebook commerce that turned out to be quite controversial. Sucharita’s previous post on the topic was aptly named 500MM users.. so why can’t they show you the $$. A bold quote from the post “No one’s revenue will come from Facebook”, along with a recommendation to stop wasting time chasing F-shiny objects, and focus on fixing the basics (like search and ratings & reviews) which have proven results.

My thoughts are pretty aligned with Sucharita, in the sense that no one seems to be making money from Facebook other than Facebook, Zynga and a few agencies – in the gold rush the money was made selling picks and other mining tools. I see brands confused about how to even think about Facebook and chasing meaningless metrics such as number of fan “likes”. When marketing leaders share their goal for social marketing this year is to get to 100K or 1 million likes, I ask them what they will do with the customers that have liked the brand, usually resulting in blank stares and confusion.

So I want to share my humble opinion on the role of Facebook for marketers.

One of the principles I feel strongly about is that social media is only a set of tools to help you achieve business objectives. Then, let’s start with the basics and think about how can interactive marketers leverage Facebook to achieve business and marketing goals. “Social media goals” don’t count, unless they are leading indicators in the context of a broader strategy. Think about it: the main reason marketers care about Facebook for one simple reason: there are over half a billion potential customers using it every day. As I wrote in a previous post, you have to fish where the fish are – but you have to bring them home (your site) to cook them (make money). It was the same with video and other new tools available to marketers.

Sounds logical, yet, brands continue spending millions of dollars in media sending customers to Facebook. The traffic should flow the other way around.  Getting customers to respond to an ad is difficult enough to send them to a site where you have little control with the hopes they will “like” your brand and maybe someday somehow and up on your site or buying your product.

A couple weeks back I saw an online ad for Sierra Mist Natural, curious to learn more about the new drink I clicked on the ad, which took me to Sierra Mist’s Facebook page. Not only was this not the experience I was expecting, I was unable to learn more about the product, learn what makes it natural (is it using Stevia for sweetening, natural flavors or something else?) and landed on a Facebook page where a couple customers had quite negative comments on the product.

To sort through all the confusion it could be useful to think about Facebook as four discrete opportunities:

1. Encouraging fans to advocate your brand on Facebook

This is the most basic, but also the most powerful Facebook tactic so far and it’s free. I have blogged about this extensively. People trust recommendations from their friends. Chances are their friends are on Facebook too.

 If your brand has 50,000 fans (Sorry Facebook, “likes” does not work as well), and if you can get one of every five to tell their friends how much they like your brand, you would have 10,000 people advocating personally to an about 1.3 million potential customers about your brand. 1.3 million customers you probably can’t reach through your traditional marketing efforts. Your customers can advocate on Facebook without even having to “like” your brand. You don’t even need a brand page on Facebook – customers can advocate directly from your website.

2. Your brand’s presence on Facebook (brand page) and “Likes” associated with it

Most brand pages on Facebook are quite boring and expose visitors to customer service issues or provide irrelevant information to customers. It’s time to get creative and map a proper brand experience on Facebook. The possibilities are endless, but don’t create siloed microsites or just copy your website in the Facebook iFrame.  Do something useful like providing reviews, Q&A, links to your site and resources that will engage customers in a social context. There are so many things a brand can do here that it would be impossible for me to provide best practices, so I won’t try. This is an area where a good agency can help.

3. Facebook commerce

To clarify, with F-Commerce I mean not only adding your product catalog to your Facebook page but actually enabling transactions within it: you can complete an order without ever leaving Facebook. I think it makes sense for a few select use cases: buying tractors on Farmville, buying a song using iTunes credits, etc.  However, I am really skeptical this will be mainstream – ever. For a couple of reasons:

  • Leaving Facebook to complete the transaction on the brand’s main site is easy. It takes seconds and can be completely transparent for the user.
  • The user experience will probably be better on the main site. Brands have invested millions on content management systems, search capabilities, interactive features, social capabilities and other elements that give customers a better on-site experience than what is possible on Facebook.
  • Many consumers probably consider most brand sites to be more secure and reliable than Facebook. With the news about Facebook security and privacy issues I guess people would rather share their credit card number with an established business than with a social network that has no good track of protecting personal information.

Alvendia (now 8thBridge) shared the total sales on Facebook across all the brands they serve peaked at $100K in December. That’s less than $3 million per month, a number that is largely insignificant for their client base. Brands should still make their product catalogs available on Facebook to encourage advocacy and sharing, with an easy link to the product page on the main site.

4. Advertising on Facebook

In the end, Facebook is not a social company – it’s a media company that makes money by selling advertising. Advertising on Facebook should be evaluated like you would consider advertising on any other media outlet: based on audience profiles, advertising formats, targetability and ultimately, click-through rate. I am not an expert, but it is common knowledge that CTRs for Facebook are pretty low compared to industry averages. Maybe because when customers are in “social mode” they are not so interested in ads. The risk is that customers start mentally ignoring the ad space on the right most like most of us ignore banner ads on most web sites.

Then again, for the right reasons, with the right strategy, advertising on Facebook may be the right thing to do. Back in 2004, I was one of the first to advertise on Facebook when we were promoting the Imagine Cup. That particular campaign yielded decent results.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you start with your business goals in mind (and not with “let’s do something on Facebook”) then go on to evaluate the four ways you can leverage Facebook for your business in the context of a customer experience journey, Facebook can be a really powerful tool that produces top-notch results.

 

This week Sucharita Mulpuru wrote a blog post about Facebook commerce that turned out to be quite controversial. Suchari...

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Green builders don’t act so green

Eco Smart enegry smart homes

 

 This is a transcript from an email tip I sent to the Consumerist 

We built a new home in Texas about two years ago. The builder told us it was an “Eco smart” house and that it was  “Green Built TX” certified.  They had yard signs and brochures to explain how green the builder is. We were shocked to find out most of the light bulbs in out house were incandescent.  Isn’t replacing bulbs with CFLs the simplest, most basic way to save energy?

 Our bathrooms, for example, have a lighting fixture with six lights, which means every minute the light is on, those six lights are consuming 360 watts. I replaced all six lights with 9w CFLs, now consuming 54 watts total – almost 7 times less energy. The CFL light bulbs are only about $1.50 at Home Depot or WalMart, I am sure the builder can get a better deal. I had to replace over 70 light bulbs in our house (picture of old light bulbs attached). I probably spent $150 total, a number that is absolutely insignificant relative the price we paid for the house.  

The kitchen area, for example has 4 light bulbs, all controlled by a single switch, consuming 240 watts instead of 52 watts now with 13w CFLs. Every home in the neighborhood has an outdoor light outside of the garage with an average of three 60-watt light bulbs that are usually left on overnight. That’s 18,000 watts consumed for every 100 homes. All night long. Just for outdoor lights.
 
What is worse, is that we threw away over 70 perfectly good incandescent light bulbs that I paid for (when I bought the house), which are by now in some landfill. In addition, I had to go through the inconvenience of buying and replacing 70 light bulbs, not including some I have not been able to change because they are too high and I cannot reach them with a normal sized ladder.
 
I called the builder, who told me the “certification” does not require all light bulbs to be CFL, just a certain percentage. The builder probably installs enough CFLs to meet the minimum requirement to be certified.
 

Lightbulbs

  

Selling “green” homes with incandescent light bulbs is deceptive and misleading. Building new homes that consume so much additional electricity to save $100 is absolutely irresponsible in this age. At the very least I would have liked to have the option to pay $100 for the upgrade, which would save thousands of dollars over a few years in energy cost and is the right thing to do.
 
I suggest selling new homes with incandescent light bulbs should be illegal.
 
My other idea is to offer homes with solar-powered A/C units. After all, most of the time you need the A/C running in Texas there is plenty of sun shining. It would be much more affordable than full solar systems which require many more panels plus a battery…but that’s a subject for another post. Maybe.
 

   This is a transcript from an email tip I sent to the Consumerist  We built a new home in Texas about two years ago. T...

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Bad Marketing: Magazine Subscription Renewals

I am a loyal subscriber of Business Week. I have been reading it since I was a teenager – back in the 80s. (Late eighties). When I moved to Redmond, I extended my subscription via a third party. I started receiving two issues of Business Week in the mail every Monday. Guess their computer system is not smart enough to know if it is the same name and the same address, it is probably a duplicate or a renewal.

I called customer service to try to correct the problem, which did not happen. A few weeks later my old subscription was running out and I started getting calls at home (with telemarketer precision – at dinner time) to ask me to renew. I told them I had already renewed, but they did not listen.

This week I got a letter in the mail with the words “Important Tax information – open immediately” – no logo, plain envelope. I was suspicious, yet intrigued, so I opened it to find a “third notice – please renew your Business Week subscription”.

Now I was mad. Not only they deceiving me into opening their envelopes with cheap tactics, the message I got was “You must renew your subscription, this is the third time we ask you, are you not understanding?” Sure, the fine print read “your subscription may qualify as a tax deduction” – but that is just annoyingly bad marketing.

I have received other deceitful offers – like the subscription requests that look like an invoice, hoping another decision maker in the household (A wife, for example, but I am trying to be politically correct) opens the mail, assumes the other person has already made the commitment, and mails a check for a few dollars. That’s the kind of world we live in, too bad. But that is not the kind of tactics one expects from Business Week

I am a loyal subscriber of Business Week. I have been reading it since I was a teenager – back in the 80s. (Late eightie...

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Bad Marketing: Credit Cards and Respecting Your Customers

I am an American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum member, which means I spend way too much time on planes and a considerable amount of money on American Airlines. In the last six months, I have received a few dozen pieces of mail from this company, which tells me I am a valued customer since they call me Platinum. I am also a shareholder. That’s why every time I get one of those pieces in the mail with messages like “Important information for you” or “Time sensitive material” I have an expectation of what will be inside the envelope.

Every time I open it, I have the same experience: they are trying to sell me the Citi Aadvantage credit card. I already have a Citicard, I don’t need another one, even with the promise for 10,000 miles. I have seen the ads in every issue of American Way, I saw the banner ads, I got your promotional emails. STOP! It is getting to the point where AA is destroying the trust in their communications. Soon I will ignore any envelope I get from them, which will be headed straight for the shredder.

 Speaking of the shredder, on which I got a good deal at Target, it is a device that I don’t want. A shredder is a purchase that I was forced to make because of the hundreds of credit card offers we get in the mail every year. Credit card companies should pay for it. Just to point that American Airlines is not the only bad marketer. I sometimes get two credit card offers from the same company on the same day!! (and I don’t think my credit is even that good). Why can’t credit card marketers be more creative??

I am an American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum member, which means I spend way too much time on planes and a considerable...

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