I'm Off on a 7 Months Journey in Asia and Australia.

I have been MIA in the last months, and I apologize for that. I've been focusing on working and preparing a trip to South East Asia and Australia.

For all my ozzie readers out there, I would love to go for a couple beers with you guys. I'll be landing in Sydney on January 11th, 2010. I know it's still in a while...


Selling Features vs Selling Benefits

Nowadays, companies have learnt to sell benefits as opposed to features. The automaker industry being the exception.

The idea emerged back in the days when Nestle launched instant coffee. They were originally advertising the fact that it takes less time to make coffee when using instant coffee, which did not work.
From then on they re-thought their strategy and decided to focus on the benefits, not the features. They then advertised it this way:

"instant coffee gives you more time to _______."

At the time, women where the primary buyers in a household and they were sold and finding more time to iron, cook or care for their husband.

It's out of date, I know. Yet it teaches us a valuable lesson that marketing today is not selling a product but rather a solution to a problem.

The Paradox of Choice

This topic was inspired by a discussion we had in Professor Ken Wong's class on March 26th, 2009.

As marketers we are always pushed to offer more and more, hoping that one of the myriads of product variations will satisfy each customer.

As an advocate of simplicity, I will highlight why giving too much choice can hurt a company:

  1. Post Purchase Reinforcement -- most of us will go out there after buying a product and find others who bought the same one to reassure ourselves in our decision. The more choice is offered the harder for a consumer to do so and hence the harder it is to keep him happy. That's the big issue telecommunication companies are facing today in Canada!

  2. It's expensive to offer a lot of choice (inventory, R&D, employee training)

Therefore the best solution is to build businesses that only serve very niche demands and in turn offer no choice to their clients... just what they came in for. That creates happy customers through post purchase reinformcent and drastically reduces those expensive costs associated with offereing choice.

A.D.D. Brand Messaging

The best advice advertisers will give you is to include no more and no less than one message per ad. Not two. One.

Our attention spans have significantly lowered over the years since more and more advertisers compete for our attention. Moreover, we live in a world where Millenials have learnt to multi-task, feed on bits and bytes which leads to significantly shorter attention span (ADD).
See the trend?

  • Twitter -- express your thoughts in 140 characters or less.

  • Facebook -- ligitimized the one-sentence "wall" messages. No need to write long emails or send postcards anymore.

  • No more word-cluttered magazine ads.

  • Successful blogs like Zac's Pigs dont Fly have short and to-the-point posts

Gen Y Will Change Today's Agency

Today, agencies are hired by companies' marketing departement to advertise -- that's it.

What will happen when Generation Yers will run agencies in a few years?

Here is my take on it:
Increasingly, agencies will have to interact with customers and create a 2-way conversation not good old stuff-it-down-their-throat advertising.
A cartoon that has gone around marketing blogs for a while puts it best:

The New Agency
Let ad agencies play a major part in understanding the customer and having a constructive say in R&D. Agencies will clearly have an interactive element to all their campaigns to help give a face to each company. This dimension will give more responsibility to the agency and force it to really understand who they are dealing with before executing any campaigns.

So what's new? Ad agencies will be responsible for understanding the customer, not the external market research firm. Moreover they will have a seat at the R&D table.

Ken Wong and Travels

I wish you all a great year 2009!

I've been MIA in the last little while. I came back from France where I had a good dose of internet detox which allowed me recharge my batteries and spend a lot of time snowboarding. HEAVEN.

Ken Wong

This semester I am lucky to have the best and the greatest marketing mond I could have hoped for: Ken Wong. This guy is a guru and I'm honored to be one of his students. Looking forward to that 3-hour evening class every Wednesday night! Inspiration for some of the content of the blog in the next 4 months will definitly come from those power-hours.

Next Year

I have made the decision to travel for 10 months next year in both Asia and Australia. I will announce the creation of a new blog on the topic soon. How I'm gonna go about financing and planning this trip will be packed in that blog, so stay tuned. It will be be more personal than this one has been.

Happy Holidays and Thank You

Morzine, France
Tomorrow I'm going back to my hometown to snowboard.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and do take valuable time for yourself.

On my part, I got some thinking to do for the year ahead. A couple new ideas for this blog are in order.

Thanks to everyone for following this blog. You've been great. Really.

I found some great pictures of Morzine/Avoriaz on Stubbornella Flickr account. Maybe that will be enough to convince you to come meet me on the hills next year. If you're around do email me.

Photo 1
Photo 2

What's Your Social Currency?

Courtesy of xav

Gen Y is hungry for it. It comes in all shapes and forms and it's really hard to pin-point.

A touching picture? (BBC's Day in Picture)
An hilarious video? (SNL's best or SXEPhil)
An amazing service? (Pandora-Internet Radio)
A boss you can be proud of? (Richard Branson)
An incredibly inspiring lifestyle? (Tim Ferris)
A personal touch? (responding to each meaningful blog comment or email)

In the end it's about creating a relationship, something I'd want to share with friends.
How do you make a first time visitor come back? How do you turn a first-time buyer into a loyal customer? It's about consistency, being remarkable, being unique and building trust.

So what's your social currency?

I Hate Them But Still Use Them: Credit Cards.

Here is a case that my friend Patrick Byers would have probably loved to cover in The Responsible Marketing Blog. It's so irresponsible.

The Case
Keep in mind this is just one of thousands of cases of credit card companies exploiting students on university and college campuses. More importantly this is a case of a credit card company hiding behind a marketing firm to do the dirty work.

Lawyers from The Ohio State University Moritz College filed a suite in September 2007 against Campus Dimensions Inc. for:

  • Failing to clearly state the conditions of an offer.
  • Using bait advertising.
  • Using "free" without clearly setting forth all terms and obligations of the offer.
  • Notifying prospective consumers about a prize or something of value without disclosing any and all conditions necessary to get it.
The reason for such a complaint is that the marketing agency representing a credit card company posted fliers saying "Free Sandwich and Drink" with no further indication that students would have to register for a credit card in order to get what was promised.

This story came to light because 3rd years students and a law professor investigated the company's actions on campus for a full year. Thank you!

My Case
I obtained one of my credit cards the same way: at a campus event where they were giving away a free "Queen's Unviersity" tee-shirt to everyone registering for a credit card which had a beautiful picture of my university on it. Who wouldn't want one?!
In this case, I was a first year student, and they blatantly exploited my feeling of patriotism and belonging towards my university.

My Big Question
Even though I consider myself very aware of misleading marketing tactics, I fell for it. How the hell can a 20-something student sitting behind a plastic folding-table bait me to sign-up for a credit card?
When last year I spent a year in Belgium I couldn't get one since they needed a year's worth of spending history. And I could only get one in a bank. That makes more sense doesn't it?

Those lax financial laws in North America are killing a society... and it started last year with the financial credit crisis.


Google and the Future of Business in the 21st Century: Google 411.

The first reason I write this post to let you all know that you do not need to pay another dime for 411 services. Google has been working on a better version of that service and it's available to everyone in North America for FREE!

Here is the number and their website: 1800 GOOGL-411 (18004664411) and http://www.google.com/goog411/

Check it out and try it because the service is incredible and does not make any use advertising to finance it.

Google and the Future of Business

I think Google is a great example on how to do business in this century. They offer better services than their competitors but more importantly, they offer them for free.

It's a great way to get everyone on your side and inflate your stock price! If I love you, I'll go out of my way to give you business.

Who can hate --even a large corporation -- that gives back so much in forms of services, not money?

What are your thoughts on Google and their future?

Mobile Marketing - Ford Ka is Pushing the Envelope!

I've spent quite some time lately understanding mobile marketing.
Given the novelty factor, many companies have failed in the early years and today it seems to mature and some companies are truly harnessing the powers and creativity that this medium can offer advertisers.

Go Find It
Ford Ka's 3D mobile marketing efforts stand out. The campaign was launched by Wunderman to announce the release of their new eco-friendly Ford Ka in London, England. The campaign targets young adults and consists of placing Code Stickers in bars, clubs, colleges and on the street. When people aim at the stickers with their phone a floating Ford Ka appears on screen along with a URL: GoFindIt.net.

How is that for catching your attention!

Now, the million dollar question for marketers is how to get your hands on innovative technologies like those? Integrate a R&D department in your agency?
.......did I just spoil a secret?

Thanks to Rick Mathieson and his blog.

Sharing and Protecting Your Ideas

Courtesy of bartendermagic_com

Generation Yers,

Many of us have lots of ideas.
Many ideas don't stick for long.
And out of those that do only a small fraction actually become reality.

So what do you do with your ideas?
In my case, I write them down on one of my digital Post-it notes and the best ones make it to a Word document. It is important to be methodical and to write them down every time. The quality of all the ideas I've got give me peace of mind for the future because many can be turned into businesses with less than $10,000 in starting capital.

On the other hand, I've made the point a few weeks ago to share all those ideas that I know I will not pursue, on this blog. Seth Godin's latest post tackles this concept of selling vs sharing ideas. So I encourage everyone to share their ideas.

My Idea on Idea Protection
Here is a trick my brother taught me to protect your ideas for less than $5. It can make a very strong case against someone who stole it.

Write down you idea on paper and make sure to include as many details as possible. Mail it to yourself, preferably as Priority Courrier (signature required upon delivery). Now your idea is safely enclosed in an official dated package.

If Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss did just that when they sued Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing the source code, they would have made a much stronger case against the giant social networking site.

Youtube Adsense Ads -- How Not to Use Them.

There is a new movie coming out on December 12th called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The ad agency doing their advertising didn't get the memo on how to integrate Youtube Adsense Video with their viral material.

Clearly they spoiled the 2 minute video with the ad on the side. It defies the purpose of attempting to spread viral material. Doesn't it? Click here, and see for yourself.

Shock Tactics in Advertising -- Russian Real Estate

Thanks to my fellow Canadian marketer, Jane, for pointing this one out in Dear Jane Sample.

To follow up on my previous post on shock tactics, here is an example of shock tactics being used outside of the realm of the public awareness.

Domu.ru (translated verison), a Russian online real estate service provider, is definitely getting attention and brand awareness because of these ads.

But is brand awareness more valuable than positive brand image?
Is quality more important than quantity? in this specific case?

The service offer and the aesthetics of the site are positive enough to potentially overcome the association I make between their brand and the half-relevant commercials.

This is a twist on old marketing. A high-risk marketing initiative in North America yet something that might work in Russia. Only time will tell.

What do you think?

My 2 Cents on Mobile Marketing -- Let Me Unsubscribe

Courtesy of geekologie.com

3 Reasons why mobile marketing companies should give me the option to unsubscribe
at the end of every promotional SMS.
  • You will make sure that I want to hear what you're ready to feed me
  • It's a good way to rate the success of a mobile marketing campaign
  • Being respectful will go a long way in preserving a positive brand image

My pick of successful mobile marketing and branding campaigns
  • McDonald SMS Lounge allows registrants to receive free offers on their phone -- Objective and nature of the content is exposed clearly.
  • Lonely Planet's iPhone application -- improved brand equity and free visibility with branded application.
  • Ciba Vision Turkey POP SMS coupons -- Eco-friendly alternative to reach out to youths.
A big thank you to Graham Brown, co-founder of Mobile Youth, for naming me one of the top 20 youth marketing bloggers. If you want your daily dose of quality news and insight on the subject go check them out; they've been around since 2001 for a reason.