Is Your Marketing Message Visual, Understandable and Effective?


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’. 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? Continue reading “Is Your Marketing Message Visual, Understandable and Effective?”

Web and Social Media Trends for 2010

With only a few weeks left in the year, this is a good time to think about what are the top trends that will impact the Web, social media and customer engagement.I have posted this on the Corporate Social Media strategist group on Linked In, but would appreciate any comments on my blog.

These are the trends I think will be important in 2010:

1. Content is set free and is continuously evolving. What started with RSS feeds continues to accelerate. Content will increasingly be syndicated, aggregated, tagged, rated, mashed-up, re-published, filtered and transformed. Technologies like REST APIs and open ID are enabling this trend.

2. Browsers are dead. Well, not really, but a browser-PC combination is no longer the main way people experience and interact with Web content. Mobile devices, car systems and other internet-enabled devices will continue to grow in importance.

3. Social media maturity. Organizations starts to see social media as a tool that supports a strategy, a new way to engage customers, employees and partners,  one that is fundamental to any  business and that becomes an integral part of your job. Twitter plateaus, new tools emerge but there is more consolidation.

4. Semantic Web. With so much content available online, tools that help find relevant content become more important: tagging, rating, filtering, recommendations, folksonomies, semantics. The focus needs to be on simplicity.

5. Key challenges need to be solved. Openess will result in a new focus on privacy and  giving people control of what and how their information is shared. New technologies introduce new security concerns: viruses, spoofing and hacking in social networks, authentication across multiple sites (passport was not a bad idea, after all), tiny URLs make it impossible to know where you are going before you get there. At the individual level trust and authority become more important, creating an opportunity for reputation management systems, badges, and federated identity.

This is just a starting point, and of course these things won’t happen in 2010 only: they have already started and will go on for some time.

What do you think? What am i missing? I look forward to your comments…



How to Use YouTube as a Marketing Tool

Marketing You Tube

There is no question about the importance of video as a key component of a marketing strategy.  We live in the age of the video-centric Web.


There are opportunities and dangers in using YouTube as a marketing tool.  First, it is important to understand the profile of the typical YouTube visitor. By looking at the most viewed videos, I think it is safe to assume most people spending time on YouTube are teens looking for entertainment – music videos, comedy or funny videos. This is not to say that is the only demographic using it.


The opportunity is to use YouTube as a distribution mechanism to fish for customers. The danger is in using it as your video platform. Let me explain:


There are a number of problems with embedding your own YouTube videos on your own Web site: Google may insert contextual advertising about your competitors and customers can click on the video to be taken to where they can get lost watching at Coke and Mentos videos, forgetting why they went to your site in the first place. In other words, you don’t control the experience. Any medium to large company probably is going to have to manage dozens or hundreds of videos, and you need a better way to manage those videos, to understand who and how they are viewed and to connect them with other resources on your site in a synergistic way.


You can’t do this with You Tube. You probably need a video platform that provides all these capabilities. You need to own your Video experience, because Video is as important as any content on your site.  This is why we built Vignette Video Services, to help companies who want to take control of their video strategy.  


The opportunity is to use YouTube as a channel to fish for customers. The ideal scenario is the opposite as what I described above: people go from YouTube to your site. Posting your content on YouTube to make it easy for people to find will probably increase your reach and viewership. What you need to accomplish is that at the end of the video customers don’t click on the funny video that Google is promoting but on your site because they need more information or they want to learn more.


At a minimum you should promote your site’s URL at the beginning and end of your video. you may want to create a series of videos and only make the first part of the series available on YouTube, customers would have to go to your site to get the rest of the story.


It is interesting that we live in the age of the video-centric Web, yet most of the industry is still learning how to use it. This tells me Video presents an opportunity to get ahead. It is an opportunity to build a strategy that gives you a competitive advantage.


The question is – what are you doing with Video?

How often should we email our customer base?

This is a key question every large company has two answer, especially when different groups want to contact customers with messages about training, events, new products, promotions, surveys, etc.

When I was responsible for the Developer audience at Microsoft, I tried to create communication channels that would carry all these messages: the MSDN site, MSDN Flash newsletter, sub-audience specific sites, blogs, etc. But there is always a need for more formal communications that would go via email. The audience owners had to approve any communications going out or any new channels to avoid spamming customers and having a massive number of newsletters. At some point many companies have a discussion about how often they should be sending emails to their customers.

I have seen companies who have a rule about not sending broad emails to the customer base more than once a week. Some companies think it should be every two weeks or every month. Some companies have no rules and every one is free to spam everyone who has ever opted-in. Defining a fixed cadence to contact customers misses the point altogether.

The key for customer communications, either via email, RSS, twitter, fax, etc., is relevance.

Yetserday at the Omniture Summit, Forrester Analyst Emily Riley was sharing how after two years she still enjoys the weekly email newsletter sent by BabyCenter and read it thoroughly because it is relevant – it has information that is useful for her becaus eit has been targeted based on her baby’s age.

But when I get emails from a similar site (to remain unnamed) those emails are spam. My two daughters are 7 and 9, I don’t care about pretty much baby anything, the communcation is not relevant. Now, if the company had a Pre-Teen Parent newsletter, I might be interested. After all, they have my information, my permission (I haven’t opted out, my bad) and the exact age of my two daughters. Whay wouldn’t these companies continue to provide relevant information to parents as they grow? from diapers to cell phones and college.

If I am a developer heads down on a project or trying to understand a technology, I will dig every piece of relevant, useful information you send my way. If the information is useful, I will be grateful for that information even if I get an email every single day, scoring points for your brand. But if you send me information that is not targeted, relevant and useful, then every email is spam even if I only get one every leap year.

Content is King, Relevance is the Crown that makes Content the King.