Friday, October 31, 2008

the engaging 'brand'

Not turned out that bad for Russell Brand.
DVD rentals site reports that Russell Brand's stand-up DVD rentals have increased by 133% during the kerfuffle over the Andrew Sachs answering machine prank.

"He's controversial, always on the edge offending others".

Of course he is. That's what he does and thats why we love him.
Even Andrew Sachs was not that bothered, a bit miffed but an apology in quiet and a couple of beers would have done the trick.

Read this sum up by Paul Carr which nails it.
'In Russell Brand’s defence, the Mail on Sunday can go fuck itself. And so can the Daily Mail.'

Lessons to learn...
To paraphrase of a couple of Seth-isms;

The opposite of 'great' is not 'very bad'.
Its average.
Average is boring
Average is invisible.
If it's average it's never going to work
Because no-one will notice it.
And no-one will talk about it.
Ideas that spread win
And Ideas that spread are the ideas that go to the edge.

Everywhere, the forces for mediocrity align.
Jonathan, if your listening...resist!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

cluetrain manifesto: 10 years on...

Cluetrain Review
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: web 2.0 cluetrain)

I mentioned Permission Marketing's (nearly) 10 year anniversary a couple of posts ago.
It sits alongside the Cluetrain Manifesto, another 10 year old, as among the most important things written on marketing in recent times.

thanks to Neil for finding and Micheal Specht for making this snapshot version.

Sony-Ericsson W595 halloween 'viral'

Nice little viral-type thingy promoting the Sony-Ericsson W595 which enables uploading video direct to youtube.

The piece was created by Brando-digital, who have recently been joined by David Cushman as Director of Social Media.

Play with it here.

I have a question over what happens to the data I give afterwards, though?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'my inbox' article for marketing direct magazine

Here's the 'my inbox' piece I've written for Marketing Direct magazine. Not sure when it's being published - couple of weeks I suppose - so treat this as a sneak preview.

It still amazes me how so few companies go anywhere close to doing email marketing properly.
Seth Godin said in Permission Marketing (nearly 10 years ago now, yikes!) – [email ie permission marketing ] ‘…is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.’
The key words there are ‘personal’ and ‘relevant’ .
The success of any direct marketing is directly proportionate to the level of personalisation and relevance – to me, me, me – of the content, and the level of permission I have granted to the brand.
Miss that out and I’ll most likely ignore it.

With that in mind, my losers of the month are Oasis.
Somewhere back in 1998 I must have signed up for some mailing list or other. I have not heard a dickybird since, until now when they have something new to punt.
Oasis’ PR must have hired some multi channel bright spark who thinks it’s a good idea to bombard unsuspecting punters with tour dates and release news down the phone and email with annoying frequency and at silly times of the day. I was woken up by a text message about the album release at 5am the other day and now seem to get emails about world tours every day. Despite unsubscribing the message has not got through.
Just because you have my details doesn’t mean I want to hear about every thing you are doing.
If you are playing in Guildford or Basingstoke maybe. You know where I live, after all?
Personal. Relevant.

Why persist with one-way, broadcast tactics? I’ve volunteered information and given you permission to contact me when you might have something of interest to talk to me about. I probably have a purchase history.
With Mamas and Papas I do.
In fact I just spent 2 grand on furniture with them about two weeks ago!
So their one-size-fits-all 30% off furniture in November shot was particularly annoying.
A personalised, relevant communication would have recognized that and give me an offer on some other product.

Good job I’m not a vegetarian or the the massive side of roast beef oozing pink juices featured on my Waitrose promo email might have offended. They have never asked me of course.
At least the info overload is kept to a minimum,
Though I don’t get the offer. ‘If you don’t enjoy one of our products we’ll refund or replace’ – except this doesn’t apply to their online shopping service partner Ocado – I’m already confused so they have lost me.
When I attempt an order I’m told that the ‘Waitrose Deliver’ service is not available in my postcode area.
Might have been a better idea to check that out before sending me the email.

I used to love the emails from a couple of years back.
Seasonal themes, cool graphics and edgy humour made them stand out form the usual boring travel industry stuff .
The format has gone a bit dull but there’s still a bit of personality.
The usual ‘ If you cannot view this email line click here..’ is replaced with ‘Gone a bit Picasso? See it clearly here’
OK, the content is not that personal or relevant but the little bit of human-ness allows them to get away with it.

I’ve crowd-sourced a contribution from Sally, one of our Account Directors on Dorothy Perkins ‘whole-site-in-an-email’ newsletter
featuring fairly unauthentic editorial supposedly written by celeb fashion ‘guru’ Gok Wan.
Sally says ‘the content is up to date, nicely written and not overly sales-y. It’s nice, clean and simply laid-out – very readable. did this format first but it works well . As long as it’s not too frequent, I don’t mind receiving this, and it’s a great way to harness ‘immediate’ shopping, i.e. click through and buy something online now.
I also like that the overall hierarchy puts fashion tips above the 50% off offer. Not sure about the Gok Wan content but that’s probably just me!’

With tough economic times ahead, it’s more important than ever to nurture loyalty; and make you’re your marketing work as hard as possible. By keeping the focus on being personal and relevant , rewarding those customers who are paying attention – they’ve given permission – and delivering the kind of content , offers and products (!) that reflect their lifestyle, circumstances and interests you are in with a chance.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

10 questions towards a new creative brief....

I'm trying to develop a Creative Brief template, if you have a minute.
In a non-advertising context where we are looking to create content (or to facilitate the creation of content by others) and utility; what does the brief look like?

Here's where i'm at - suggestions, modifications, critisisms all welcome.

Position in 8 words…
In a nutshell, what do we want to do?

The Brand

What does it look like? How does it feel?
What do people actually say/think about it?

Who are the community we are looking to serve?

Who are we talking with?
What level of permission do we have with them?

But who are they really?

How do they think? What music do they like? Who are their friends?
Where do they play? etc

Why should I believe you?
What backs this up? Prove it. What de we rally know..facts?

Call to action?

What do we want the community to do as a result of engaging with this?

What is the background or context?


Are there specific media we need to address?

What data do we want to ask for?

How do we measure?
What will success look like?
What do we want people to think as a result of participating?

Thanks to @deirdre for pointing me to this conversation around branded utility from 2006...


I just recieved a free copy of Seth Godin's new book 'Tribes', released in the uk Nov 6th I think.

Everyone who pre-ordered has been sent a free extra copy - the idea being that you pass on your paid for copy to someone else. Ideally someone who needs to read it.

Plenty of references to core Seth themes -'ideas that spread, win' - 'average is invisible' - this time though it feels more like a personal development book than straight up marketing.

We're used to Seth coining a new phrase with each book (permission marketing, purple cow etc) - this time it's 'sheepwalker' - a follower/defender of the status quo. Quality.

'[many people spend all day]...trying to prevent their organisations from from being devoured by the forces of the new. It must be wearing them out. Defending mediocrity is exhausting'

Thursday, October 23, 2008

how to do search #124

very clever, creative and funny.
thanks to big picture advertising

Sunday, October 19, 2008

are rewards the new 'free'?...

I must admit this slipped past my radar until recently.
Nectar, the UK supermarket loyalty card sceme, now gives you music 'free' as rewards.
Perks are the new free...or what trendwatching call perkonomics

'A new breed of perks and privileges, added to brands' regular offerings, is satisfying consumers’ ever-growing desire for novel forms of status and/or convenience, across all industries. The benefits for brands are equally promising: from escaping commoditization, to showing empathy in turbulent times.'

For certain artists and genres the 'perk' model suits better than the 'free' model of radiohead, prince et al.
The music is free but manages to retain it's 'value' in what could be described as a slightly jaded market of free everything (ie free just means 'worthless').
And i'm still trying to work out where this sits in Chris Andersons 'four kinds of free'.

For added value, fans who downloaded Dido's free track ‘Look No Further’ are entered into a prize draw to win a VIP trip with 4 nights accomm to a playback of her new album in NYC.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

think tank #2

Just in case i forget, this will be up there with my potential nominations for think tank next month.

sample from intro (and it's mostly all caps! - beware...)



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

think tank - post of the month

The first Think Tank (a bit of background here) post of the month, initiated by Neil at Only dead Fish is Gestures and Communication from Chroma. Congrats.

'Thinking about media, social media and the decline of Grand Gestures in this way, it occurred to me that as the small gestures multiply, and the Grand Gestures wane (either by sheer media fragmentation that will render it harder to achieve, or by people just ignoring Grand Gestures all together), what will the communications model look like? What, if anything, will replace the Grand Gestures?'

Friday, October 10, 2008

They just didn't think it through #147


the lotus economy

In simple terms, the thing I love most about all this interwebs business is nothing to do with technology or marketing or any of that stuff.

It's the connectivity and the discovery that fascinates me.

A random tweet by J_Mac pointing to this site by Unfrozen mind revealed an alladin's cave of ideas on creativity and innovation.

here's a sample from one of their 'vision' pieces 'The lotus economy'.

'This transition from economic value to economic creativity marks a paradigm shift from the “Box-Economy”, measured by the optimisation of moving boxes, thinking in boxes, putting people in boxes and exchanging boxes, to the “Lotus-Economy”, measured by personal transformation, creativity and innovation. It has manifested itself as a shift from an economy based on producing and buying things to an economy in which the primary unit of exchange is “meaning” where organisations become hothouses for ideas and the revolution of the human spirit.'

There was a joke when I was at art school between the graphic designers (them) and paineters and sculptors (us).
The designers would mock ' heh, you won't see many job ads saying 'sculptors wanted' when we walk out of here...'

I'm joining up dots with this, A Whole New Mind, buddhist economics etc.
Anything else?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

pretty vacant

Oh dear.
Can't resist quoting J Rotten's old adversary, J Strummer esq:

'he who f*cks nuns, will later join the church..'
Death or Glory, 1979

life instructions #3

from Girl Anachronism via brand dna


I read something the other day, can't remember the exact quote but it concerned the early days of Amazon when they were struggling to turn any profits.
The head Amazon fella gathered the the team and advised; 'Lets not be scared of what the competition does, lets be scared of what our customers do - because that's who we have a relationship with'.

In hard times being customer-centric is more important than ever.

The supermarket we love to hate,, are being customer-centric and pro-active in helping their customers save a few quid off their shopping.
When shopping online you are given the chance to quickly and easily compare cheaper alternatives to the item you've selected.

Of course, it's win-win for Tesco as the cheaper alternative will often be their own brand.

It's not a big idea, it's a small one - every little helps though (is that Tesco or Asda - I can never remember)

Friday, October 03, 2008

get tossed

Get tossed by strongman legend Geoff Capes, nice little promo for social local business directory thing ratedpeople.

done by nonesenselondon

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Here's something I wrote for the company blog.
Again, the normal swashbuckling randomness has been streamlined a bit.
Re: 'weiji' - i've always known that to describe a person from Scotland's second city (after Aberdeen), but there you go...

"Beat the downturn with Digital.

Apparently, the Chinese have a ‘word ‘ (it’s two symbols, actually) for crisis.
‘weiji’ translated means “danger and opportunity’.
It’s not true actually but let’s not let minor quibbles get in the way of a good opening line.

As we enter deeper into tough financial times companies instinctive reaction is to pull back from experimentation and innovation and shore up on the tried and tested.
Playing it safe until we ride out the storm.

That seems a bit too risky to me.
Why? Because that’s what all the competition will be doing too.
And you will still be in there amongst the clutter and noise.

Maybe not all though? Perhaps some of the competition are embracing the ‘weiji’.

Now , more than ever, is the time to be looking at fully engaging in a meaningful dialogue and relationship with your customers (and employees).
And there’s ways to do this with digital.

Use Existing Platforms
Video platforms such as You Tube, photo hosting on Flickr and various blogging software platforms are all there waiting for your content.
The sharing nature of these platforms means that – if your content is engaging and compelling enough – the audience will spread it for you.

Join the conversation
Your customers and employees are worried about how the economic downturn is going to affect them.
And they are already talking about it, online, amongst themselves.
Writing your own blog, and contributing to others is a way to establish and maintain open channel of communication between you and your customers .
Be authentic, transparent - and most importantly, human - and you’ll reap the benefits long after this recession has gone.
A simple Google Alert can keep you in the loop as to where your company is being spoken about online, and you can be ready to respond.

Try different stuff
Jumping from campaign to campaign, promotion to promotion is time consuming and costly for you; and confusing for the customer. OK, there are spikes around TV or banner campaigns but what happens in between?
It all goes dark.
Is a 0.1% click through really worth the bother?

Brand ‘awareness’ is no longer a valid or useful measurement.
Branding happens through the actual behaviors of your business, and how you involve people in that experience.

Look at ways to make the experience ubiquitous - spread across as many touch points as possible.
Think about where your audience is and go and meet them there.
With something interesting, useful and engaging, of course. Not just ads.
Now, more than ever they are tuning out from advertising messages.

The nature of the web allows you to solicit feedback from your audience and keep tickling, squeezing and tweaking your content to keep it relevant.

Think about utility

Instead of interrupting people while they are trying to do something else, as most advertising does, think about to be useful in people’s lives. What are the tools or activities your brand can facilitate that can make a difference in your customers lives?

What do we mean when we say ‘customer service’?

Serve your customers. Be there with a human voice when they need you.
Neilsen and Edelman research suggests that upwards of 70% of people trust recommendations from their peers far above advertising, when considering products or services.
Think about your top 20% of your customers. What kind of ways can you serve them that will encourage them to promote your products and services to their friends, colleagues and family?

Look to the web for insights.

Social Networks can be rich vein of insight for what your customers are actually saying and thinking, right now. Watch, listen and act.

Embrace the ‘weiji’ - the opportunity. Take this chance to make a meaningful connection with your customers.

It could be the start of a life-long romance.

Eaon Pritchard, Head of Digital.

Customer service?
Call me anytime: 079 7901 6084
Or drop me a line: epritchard AT"