Monday, July 25, 2011


You ping out a message saying what you want, vendors ping you back with an offer.
It had to happen.

They say...

'GETABL connects you live to your favorite local businesses, at the moment you are looking for something they provide.

You search for your desired product or service and local merchants are notified instantly via text. Merchants can then respond and present their best deal to you. If you like the deal sent, you can simply walk into their place of business and redeem. Its that easy!

GETABL is a patent pending social utility that unlocks real time deal seeking and assistance capabilities for c*nsumers with unprecedented customer acquisition tools for merchants.'

It seems to only work for USA at the moment. We'll be watching this space...

HT Project VRM mailing list.

See also Zaarly,
'It's a little bit eBay and a little bit Craigslist, but it's mobile, real-time, and location-based'

thanks Niko Herzeg

Friday, July 22, 2011

be reasonable, demand the impossible

I've only just ordered @LukeGWilliams book Disrupt not 30 minutes ago and already I'm getting excited just reading the preview.

'A disruptive hypothesis is an intentionally unreasonable statement...designed to upset your comfortable,
business equilibrium and bring about an accelerated change in your own thinking.

Contrast this with the more traditional definition of “hypothesis,” which is a best-guess explanation that’s based on a set of facts.'

I'm accused of being deliberately unreasonable (as in every day) and my retort is simple.
It's the method.

Be reasonable, demand the impossible!

if it ain't broke (shot by both sides again)

Last month I wrote about the disruptionistas eternal problem, being shot by both sides.

'Being the scourge of both extreme traditionalists, and also the extreme inhabitants of the social media echo-chamber means one has to beware of being shot by both sides.'

And as if by magic I stumbled on the blog of Luke Williams, Author of Disrupt (Amazon order placed, thank you) and co-founder of Frog Design.

'The attitude, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the enemy.
It’s the seemingly unbroken aspects of a situation that provide the richest opportunities for innovation. They tend to be the things we ignore, precisely because they don’t change.
It’s more effective to start by identifying something in your business that’s not necessarily a problem, in a place where others wouldn’t expect to look. In other words, think about what usually gets ignored, pay attention to what’s not obvious, and start with things that ain’t broke.'

Innovation or disruption doesn't happen with fixing things that are broken, it comes from propelling things that are already working further up the curve than is reasonable to expect.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

there’s a hole in the funnel - redux

This is a newer version on a older theme - much covered in these pages, natch - the changed buyer journey, and the death of the funnel.
This was written for the newsletter of the Australian Marketing Institute, it's coming out next week I think.


There’s a hole in the funnel

As marketers we’ve all grown up with the ‘funnel’ metaphor as a framework by which we think about a buyer journey.

Customers, or prospects, would start out at the wide end of the funnel then narrow down their potential choices til a sale pops out the other end.

While we could even argue that this metaphor has never really been that accurate, it’s certainly broken now, in the 21st century.

The major spanner in the works has been ‘c*nsumer’ empowerment, enabled by the internet.

We now have almost unprecedented ability to; research and learn about companies, products and services and then make decisions, often independently of marketing and advertising messages, and increasingly following recommendations of other people like us.

In fact, around 60% of the touchpoints we may encounter on a typical journey now come from sources other than the brand.
And a customer journey that might have taken days or weeks in the past can now happen in a matter of minutes thanks to the mobile web.

Think about your own behaviour.
Have you ever googled a restaurant review while standing outside on the pavement?
Who do you trust more?
A company’s website or customer reviews on Amazon or Trip Advisor?

This happens at a stage that McKinsey & Co - in their 2009 report The New Customer Decision Journey - called active evaluation.

When the number of brands your customer is considering actually increases when they start poking about online. This is exactly the opposite of the premise of the traditional funnel, which goes from broad to narrow.

Back to that restaurant. The one you are standing outside gets 3 stars but you discover a five star review for Luigi’s, which you never knew about but it’s just round the corner.

This is the stage when we are intent on purchasing and we are actively researching the product.

Here's where the disconnect happens as much of advertising focuses on 'awareness' and trying to get into the 'initial consideration set' then catching sales at the other end with promotions, coupons and the like.
Yet, 'when the c*nsumer reaches out during their active evaluation stage, companies are not providing the right facts and testimonials that the consumer is looking for'.

This is where having a content strategy and leveraging consumer-driven marketing comes into it's own.

Content strategy is not just about being cute with keywords and SEO, it’s also about thinking like a publisher.

Becoming the leading online authority on your category or teaching people how to make best use of your product or service.

Authentic content makes your brand findable, credible and believable during this all important active evaluation phase, where customers are won or lost.

And when 'two thirds of the influence is from consumer driven touchpoints — word of mouth, talking to friends and family, searching on the internet’, what have you got to say that is worth spreading?

Ask yourself what you are doing to support the whole buyer journey.
Where are the opportunities to amplify the voice of the customer?
Can you create those opportunities?
Which are the touch-points of most influence?
Is your biggest issue simply awareness or is it churn?
Added value experiences for customers are no longer just a nice-to-have. Customers are demanding them. Or else voting with their feet.

So, it's official - there's a hole in the funnel.
People no longer make buying decisions in a linear way.
People turn to peers, friends, and other users for advice above other media.
The potential number of choices increases in active evaluation.
The more reasons (value) you can give customers to stick or prospects to switch, you win.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Here's something I've written for the Digital Pigeon newsletter. It comes out later this week but I thought I'd give a sneak preview here first....


Facebook lessons from the Situationist international

In his 1967 work La Société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) leading Situationist, Guy Debord documented his theory of The Spectacle.

In it, he argued, that through mass media, television, hollywood and emerging technologies, capitalism - perpetrator of The Spectacle - was controlling the conditions of human existence.

In effect, the world we see is not the real world but a world we have been conditioned to see, via an onslaught of images.

The Spectacle's audience simply observe the ‘show’ – ie life - as passive spectators, consumers if you like, without actually participating or experiencing it.

Debord saw the only outcome as Alienation.
The Spectacle made us all spectators. Manipulated into substituting material things for authentic experiences and separated from each other.
Passively consuming the image, the spectacle, together but ultimately isolated from everybody and everything.

Debord and his fellow Situationists felt that "if we can explain how the nightmare works, everyone will wake up!"

However, for the lumpen proletariat to wake up they would need to be active participants in the process.

To that end, a tactic of the Situationist International was the construction of situations.

A constructed situation being a ‘moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and game of events.’

Ironically, as marketers, as ones who in the past have actively perpetrated the Spectacle, through branding and advertising, there are some learnings from the construction of situations we can apply to marketing in the age of social technologies and connectedness.

As a footnote, Debord et al would doubtless be perplexed by the voluntary reification, or self-commoditisation afforded to individuals by Facebook, but that’s another discussion…

A situation is designed to be lived by its participants
It’s not just ambience, it’s an integrated ensemble of behavior.

In regard to Facebook fan pages or any type of community building effort it’s important to note that simply amassing vast numbers of fans or followers (ie buying likes) has little or no value.
It’s also important to remember that the destination in Facebook is not the page but the news feed. This is where content (or objects, to use Facebook parlance) is experienced.

An Object is more likely to show up in your News Feed if
you and people you know have been interacting with it or it’s creator, recently.

So social context and quality of interactions are the most important factors for Facebook engagement.

I repeat: social context and quality of interactions.

To describe our lesson in achieving this comes I’m paraphrasing notes on the construction of situations first described in issue one of Situationist International from 1958.

Situations require:

1. A temporary director or orchestrator.
The orchestrator is responsible for coordinating the basic elements necessary in the construction of the situation, and for conducting certain interventions.

In Facebook these are the page admins.
The interventions are simple. Leave no comment unanswered, leave no contribution unthanked and use every opportunity to connect the participants, or constituents with each other.

2. Direct agents
The direct agents living the situation, who have taken part in creating the collective project and worked on the practical composition of the

The reason that 90% of social media marketing efforts fail is down to one simple factor.

Marketers and their agencies are married to the notion of the Spectacle.
Otherwise known as launch-and-leave, the defining trait of advertising.

To grow a community, to grow participation the community needs to be constantly fed, prodded, poked, questioned, invited to participate.
There is nothing ingenuine or inauthentic in using direct agents to agitate.

In fact it’s the opposite.
Why should your customers want to get involved and support a situation that the brand and it’s agencies can’t be bothered to live in?

3. Passive spectators
Passive spectators who have not participated in the constructive work, BUT whom can/should be forced into action.

You should be familiar with Nielsen’s Law of Participation Inequality.
Also known as the 90-9-1 rule.

In any online community:
90% of the community will be passive. They will simply watch, spectate and will not contribute.
They are also known a ‘lurkers’.
In many cases they may not even be fans, particularly if you have employed some sort of bribery tactic to attract ‘likes’.

9% will comment, share and edit/remix/modify content.
Likewise these advocates should be welcomed as direct agents (2)

1% will be the power creators (they will create original content, blog posts, videos etc) – these creators should be developed to become orchestrators (1) wherever possible.

In reference to the earlier statement that simply amassing vast numbers of fans or followers (ie buying likes) has little or no value, the objective of amassing fans is to grow the 9% and the 1%. The bigger the pie then the bigger those slices will be.
We’re wired as humans to follow what looks like a good idea.
Good ideas are more often than not those which everyone seems to be doing.
In marketing terms this is the antithesis of spectacle.

There is no situationist art or situationist music or situationist marketing, but only a situationist use of these mediums.
In this case, can using social technologies as a platform for connectedness and value create situations?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

in the ghetto

A genuine question for ad agency types.

When is a producer not a producer?
When is a planner not a planner?
When is an art director not an art director?

When they are a digital producer/planner/art director, of course.

Look at the credits on any campaign/project on one of the industry blogs.
There will be a Producer listed and an interactive Producer.
A Planner and a digital Planner, perhaps.

While of course the skill sets are different.
A TV producer and a web producer do different things.
An insight planner is different from a crm planner or a social connections planner.

By that rationale of labelling should we then have interruption planners and interactive planners?
If we have one we must have the other.
Instead we just seem to have the other.

My irk is that the digital is invariably other.
By labelling it digital it's somehow SEPARATE from 'proper' planning.
It becomes secondary by it's otherness.
It's down the totem pole.
It's the little brother or sister.
The add-on after the real planning.
The nice-to-have.
'Lets get the basics right first then do some social'.

This is not a pop at the traditionalists per se.
It's the digitalists that are as much the problem, by revelling in their otherness.

My fellow digerati, honestly, until we figure this out we'll always be in the ghetto.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the boy with the thorn in his side

One little cultural quirk (I'm reluctant to label it a phenomenon) that's dying out with the uptake of smartphones and the querty keyboard is the art of predictive text poetry.
A friend of mine used to be a practitioner, his process involved writing the original poem with pencil and paper then rewriting it using an old school mobile phone, and accepting whatever the phone decided the words were.

If you've got an old phone kicking about give it a try.
A common predictive replacement would be the one where home is interpreted as good.
'I can never go good now' etc

My equivalent now is to stick itunes on shuffle and allow serendipity to take it's course.
My fellow innovationistas, I'm convinced there's some correlation between brain activity and itunes shuffle.

Like his Mozz-ness was reading my mind...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

wheel of concept

Although this tool has only come to light this week, I am absolutely of the view that certain media agencies have had secret access for the last couple of years - it's the only way to explain the box-of-frogs-chuck-enough-shit-at-the-wall-and-some-of-it-is-bound-to-stick idea generation process that they seem to adhere to.

Go on, you want to...

R.A.V.E ON or how to do content strategy like it's the NEW rock'n'roll

Here’s some thoughts for the front end on engagement, types of content, and frequency.
This is not exhaustive by any means but this is the bare bones of what we need to be planning.
I'm using this as a base and building upon it.

This is a cut-down version of a forthcoming e-book Eaon’s Law of Engagement on Social Platforms
Working title: RAVE ON.

R – Relevance
The content and message must be relevant to the recipient around what matters to them.
One part of Seth's Permission triple.
Features and benefits may or may not be relevant, a story and shared worldview will almost always be relevant.
Find the story.

A – Authenticity
People are screaming out for some genuine authenticity, not karaoke-culture bullshit.
People are not stupid, they smell phoneyness a long way off.
Keep it real.

V – Value
Creativity is the process of bringing new ideas into existence that have value.(thx Sir Ken Robinson)
How do we make our constituents smarter, fitter, better connected? (thx @umairh)
See also Eaon's (appropriated) Theory of Value.
Give me some substance.

E – Easy
If we want people to interact make it as easy as possible.
Attention is our biggest cost. If it’s too hard to figure out what to do no-one will do it.
True story.

It never stops, we can’t ever take our foot off the gas.
Life happens 24-7-365.
Volume is key. Quality is even key-er.
90% of everything else is shit.

Attention in social media is transient and fleeting.
Strategising for outcomes from one tweet or post is a one way ticket to palooka-ville (it has worked but there's a huge chunk of good fortune when that happens - it's not the rule)
And always ON-POINT. Never compromise our point of view on the world.
We need to work out who’s in and who’s out.


1 – Who?
Nobodies are the new somebodies – we have no idea of the sphere of influence of individuals (thx @guykawasaki)
Treat everyone as VIPs.
Every passive fan converted to active is a win.
We are banking karma for later, every somebody was a nobody once.

2 – When?
Cultivate the relationships, even when it seems like there’s no immediate value (see point 1 bullet 3)
Leave no comment unanswered...
Leave no kind word unthanked...

3 – Speed?
People are used to crummy mediocrity from brands.
Just by being fast to respond we have a point of difference.
Speed doesn't kill, lack of speed kills.
Get on one, matey.

Types of content...

1 – WHAT? - Use every piece of media available.
Facebook – the currency of Facebook is pictures and video, these get the most comments and likes.
Facebook – invite contribution, ask the community to help compile lists (team of the week, best bits of movie dialogue etc etc) etc
Twitter – the currency of Twitter is links – Build the brand with context by pointing them at the right stuff that matters (thx @guykawasaki, again)


People are not stupid – they know what beer/toilet paper/tuna is.
Sell them WHY we do what we do, NOT WHAT WE DO.
The market for something to believe in is infinite (thx @gapingvoid)

Your thoughts, comments and criticisms would be appreciated.

Overall foresight and inspiration Jonathan MacDonald - the Communication Ideal - thanks.

the irefutable law of disruptive innovation

Optimisation improves the performance of existing products, services and structures along the lines of improvements that the mainstream will value.

Disruptive innovation, however, will more often than not often have characteristics that staus quo may not want, probably won't like or even be prepared to accept. In the beginning.

Eventually you win.

Ghandi image courtesy of

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

brand activation lessons from the first 30 seconds of Anarchy in the UK

00.00 - 00.05

Within the first few seconds of Anarchy in the UK we are irrefutably embedded in the present.
There are only 3 time frames. The past, the present and the future.

This opening statement clearly positions the work in the here and now.
This is not retro or futuristic, this is now-ism.

The most important thing is working out what’s important.
The important work is the work being done right now.

Already I'm starting to get what this is about.
As Pete Townsend famously said 'This is actually happening'.

OK, let's go...

00.06 - 00.21
I am an Antichrist…
I am an Anarchist…

Start delivering the key idea right from the off.

To this day this is still arguably the most powerful couplet EVER delivered in a pop song. A nation of 12 year old kids, with the bed covers pulled over their heads listening to John Peel, confronted with this opening statement, were captivated from the beginning.

A bold statement of purpose - an IDEA.
This wasn't about product features or benefits.
This wasn't 'I am a different kind of pop singer from the ones you may be used to'

It was about IMPACT.

An ORIGINAL story.

The words Anarchist and Antichrist had never appeared in a pop song before...EVER.
Never mind within the the first 20 seconds.

And already the brand story is POLARISING.
By this stage you are either IN or OUT.

00.21 - 00.30
Don't know what I want but I know how to get it
I wanna destroy passerby

Now comes the activation part.
We know now what we are supposed to DO.

The enemy has been identified.
The passer by. The passive consumer.

Within 30 seconds we know WHERE we are in space and time, WHY we are here and WHAT we are supposed to do.

Anarchy in the UK is a proposition, an IDEA we are invited to participate in.
There's bias for action.

It's uncertain - we don't know what we want - but that's what makes it interesting.
The sense of possibility.
This is working without a map. An experiment.
Testing a hypothesis, responding to change as it happens.

And the next day, at school, a quick look around the playground and YOU KNOW JUST BY LOOKING who else had the same moment, under their own duvet, with their own radio, the previous night.

30 seconds of noise on a tinny transistor radio that changed everything.

That's the power of an IDEA.

Monday, July 04, 2011

what's in a name?

What's in a name? In many cases, particularly for the small biz, a memorable brand name can be one of your biggest assets.

If there's not much money around to spend on marketing then an instantly memorable, repeatable and google-able name can have a disproportionate effect to findability.

An unique ownable brand name can often allow you to own the search results.
It's also unlikely that potential customers will confuse you for someone else.
This is what I sometimes call Echo-and-the-Bunnymen syndrome.

The person in the van in front of me in this pic has taken some of this on board, I guess, but has stumbled on one key factor.
If I don't know how to pronounce the name it makes it a helluva lot harder to remember or repeat.
I don't know whether this is some esoteric Francaise-ism (pron: ee-strays) or if he/she's asking us not to stress (pron: why-stress?) about our waterproofing situation.

Either way, I'm not sure if I'll remember him/her when I need my waterproofing and coating (whatever that is...but that's another topic).

window display of the week

I was tempted to title this post Society of The Spectacle but I'll save that for another time.
Here's the window display from EyeGallery on Toorak Road.

There's two main reasons why this is great.
1. The Optitians convention is to talk about two-for-one frames, free sight tests or designers - features, service or price etc.
Instead EyeGallery talk about the other things, the things a customer actually cares about.

- Sunglasses are for looking cool
- Regular specs are for looking smart.

2. You know exactly what EyeGallery are about AS A BRAND by the display.
- They poke fun at Margaret Thatcher and George W Bush, whereas they think Marylin Monroe, Twiggy, Bob Marley and Jim Morrison (out of shot, sorry) are cool.
- The Warhol-esque imagery style also adds to the cool factor.
- And Uncle Bert is obviously cool and smart.