Have you ever seen or heard a really great idea and thought, "I sure wish I had thought of that"? On the flipside, have you ever seen a marketing campaign that made you think, "Wow, I am sure glad I did not think of that"? Most of us have been on both sides of the fence, and with every passing day, we all do our best to stay as close to former side -- the good idea side -- as possible.
This article will underscore various marketing approaches that are destined to fail. Out of respect for my industry colleagues, I won't go into too many specifics of a given campaign; rather, I will point out strategic shortcomings that I have noticed over and over again in various campaigns and initiatives.
Twitter is not a one-way megaphone, so don't treat it like one.
The world has gone Twitter crazy. And, true to form, most brands are one step behind early adopters. Over the last year or so, brands have been playing catch up; some brands have even caught the Twitter bug. If you don't believe me, just take a look at this list of brands using Twitter. While I am an advocate of brands effectively using Twitter when it makes sense, I would rather not see brands on Twitter at all than see them negatively disrupting a social channel -- and embarrassing themselves in the process.
For example, consider British Airways' Twitter presence. When I saw this, I thought, "What were they thinking?" Here are some of the key flaws in the company's execution:
- British Airways has been live on Twitter for months and has only updated the account seven times.
- They have 261 followers. And while I recognize many of them as marketers doing their homework, I am sure there are some loyal BA consumers there as well. So, if a consumer is following your brand, why would you not follow them back and make them feel like you care? To that end, how could you not care?
- BA's tweets -- which are Twitter updates, for the uninformed -- read like well-crafted promotional copy. But Twitter is a conversational platform. When was the last time you said, "Fly business class by 12/31 & get a complimentary companion ticket" in conversation? There is a place for one-way conversations on Twitter -- news updates, emergency warnings, etc. -- but more often than not, it is effective to have an interactive presence on Twitter.
Create buzz, but don't let the bee get away.
Many marketers spend a great deal of time talking about the sexier aspects of the advertising and marketing business. Viral campaigns, buzz marketing and "the big idea" are goals that some find more interesting than making money. I love great advertising and great ideas that generate buzz. I also love the fact that great adverting can be shared online with ease. But if you are going to create demand for something through advertising, be sure that you are able to service that demand and capitalize on it at every touchpoint.
A recent Diesel campaign provides an example of demand generated but not answered. The company launched a [warning: adult themed] video that probably made Ron Jeremy look twice. The launch was in support of Diesel's 30th anniversary, and the buzz surrounding this video was tremendous. As you can see, there was a significant spike in the number of queries for "diesel video" on Google.
What if, for example, I had heard about the Diesel video but heard no details about the content? Let's say all I knew was that Diesel had created a must-see online video. I did a search for "diesel video," and the results looked something like this:
The brand itself is not present in the organic listing, so the company obviously did not optimize the video for search. In addition, Diesel is not buying the keyword on Google in order to respond to the demand generated by the video.
Responding to demand generation from outdoor advertising can also be an effective way to generate additional interest around a campaign. For example, let's pretend it is a sunny day in New York City and we -- me and you, yeah you -- just finished Sunday brunch. We see the below outdoor ad, but due to our after-brunch haze, we only take note of the billboard's attributes. We were able to remember the medium (AstroTurf on wall) but forgot the message (tune in for Monday Night Football). I say to you, "Do you remember that green AstroTurf ad we saw? What was it for? Can you do a Google search and let me know? I'm really curious."
It should be pretty easy to find on Google, right? Actually, it was not as easy as you think. But in this case, it was not too hard to find something about the billboard.
The third result on Google links to an article about how people vandalized some of these experimental ads and how the materials were potentially hazardous. This does not necessarily shed a positive light on ESPN. You found what you were looking for on Google, but you also may have found something that ESPN would not want you to find.
In light of the fact that these billboards were experimental, it was very likely that there would be a lot of chatter about them. It would have been prudent for ESPN to harness the buzz through search. ESPN could have created a series of PPC ads targeted to all of the locations where the billboards lived. For a modest budget, ESPN could have successfully captured the demand it generated (and, in this case, detracted consumers from negative press).
Here's a sample ad that ESPN could have used:
Existing sites cannot be "SEOed." Stop trying.
Have you ever tried to build a house from the top down? Of course not. That would be silly, right?
The notion may not seem as silly when you hear, as I do, time and again, "We just finished our new site, and we need it SEOed." I don't have a screenshot for this section, as half of the websites I see do not adhere to web standards. (Examples of poor web development are not hard to find.)
A good SEO practitioner can certainly help out after a site is built. But why not employ an SEO strategist from day one in order to ensure the site is being built properly?
The "mashup" web is less about insular content beds and more about adapted content -- content that can be distributed with ease in order to get your marketing messages heard in various environments.
Next time you are working on a new site, get a good SEO consultant involved from day one. Your budget will thank you for it.
Feel free to stay at home in your walled garden -- just don't be surprised when no one shows up for the tea party.
Let's face it, websites are dead.
Did that get your attention?
A website is simply one part of a brand's web presence. To be blunt, I am sick of hearing about award-winning websites that cost an absurd amount of money and yield few results. It is time digital marketers begin to think in terms of their web presence, not their website. It is time digital marketers learn how to create syndicated web strategies.
Here you see the Jeep website, fully equipped with all the obligatory Flash elements.
While I am a big fan of online experiences, I am not sure that the Flash components of this site are, in fact, Jeep's strongest marketing assets. If you click on the link off of the Jeep homepage titled "Jeep Experience," you find what I feel to be the most valuable elements of Jeep's online experience: Jeep's community page.
Jeep's experience page is a hub for all of its social content on the web -- content that is spread across various properties outside of the company's own domain. At a time when consumers have a great deal of control over their online media experiences, marketers need to think past their own walled gardens. The alternative is irrelevance and obsolescence.
A disconnected nation
So, every brand needs a social network, right?
The proliferation of white-label social networks has led to some pretty outlandish, unexpected -- and sometimes useless -- branded networks. While I certainly don't think it is bad for a brand to experiment with a private social network (I have seen and am working on some very exciting ones), there are two questions that need to be answered before the experiment ensues:
- What value is the network adding?
- How interoperable can I make my network with other social networks? In other words, how easily does my network talk to Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc.? This is often a technical, legal and bureaucratic question.
I recently joined Slurpee's social network, Slurpee Nation, and I have to admit that I found it to be of little value. Still, there seem to be a few thousand people who disagree. I would be willing to bet that the creators of this network are underwhelmed by its performance, but a few thousand hand-raisers are nothing to scoff at. If Slurpee is committed to its network and its community, I have no doubt the company can find a way to provide value over time.
My main gripe with Slurpee's overarching social web presence is that the company seems to have a number of outposts, but there is nothing that connects them. Below you can see the Slurpee Nation's homepage, as well as its seemingly disconnected Facebook page.
Social media is a commitment, not a campaign.
As social media visionary (and my boss) Joe Jaffe says, "Social media is a commitment, not a campaign." I often use this saying -- and sometimes forget to give Joe credit -- as this is a notion with which many marketers cannot seem to come to terms. Every day a new branded blog, podcast or Facebook page/application (and many other vehicles) adds to the clutter on the massive grid that is the internet, making it difficult for consumers to find what they really want. The problem is that much of this new content is not fostered and cared for, and initiatives are cut off at the knees before they even have a chance to realize success. If a brand is a promise, then every consumer touchpoint is part of that promise. Unmet promises by brands are brand suicide. And brand initiatives in the social space that are ended prematurely are tantamount to a broken promise.
The British Airways Twitter campaign mentioned earlier is an example of an unmet brand promise. By no longer showing up to its own community on Twitter, British Airways is making a statement that it simply doesn't care about its consumers. It is one thing to discontinue an online branded outpost; it is an entirely different thing to simply let it rust.
Along the same lines, every branded Facebook fan page that is not kept up-to-date and every branded blog that lies dormant sends a message to the consumers who originally engaged the brand in conversation. The message sent by these brands is, "We simply don't care." Try using that as a tagline in your next 30-second spot.
When did things referred to as "viral" become a good thing?
I have heard numerous accounts of PR firms pitching videos they say are "viral." Months back, I read a blog post about an example of this type of marketing push on Lee Odden's Online Marketing Blog. Odden (and many others) were not pleased with the approach of the brand in question. Many were also not pleased with the video itself
More recently, the folks over at Videogum asked the question, "Was 2006 the golden age of viral video?" Amid the herd of marketers trying to create viral video, most are missing the point.
Take the video that Odden posted about on his blog back in February. The video is obnoxious and racist -- but there is no doubt it is an attention grabber and was passed around the web many times. The over-the-top nature of this video is so disruptive that, much like a car crash, one has little choice but to stop and see what is going on. The question is, just because something is passed around the web, does that mean it's good? Moreover, does it mean that the video is beneficial to the brand?
As much as I hate to propagate bad taste, take a look at the video mentioned above. There is no question it is viral, but ask yourself, "Is that how I want my brand represented?" With more and more marketers pushing the limits of taste for some cheap attention, thereby making consumers more and more skeptical, maybe Videogum was right -- perhaps 2006 was the height of the viral video.
The word "bad" is highly subjective. I often see campaigns that I think are bad, but I realize everyone has their own opinions. The fact is, today's marketing landscape has more ways to objectively deem elements of a campaign "good" or "bad" using analytics and other tools.
Some marketers are creating innovative initiatives and are starting to adapt to the new media landscape. Many more marketers are struggling with one vital function in modern marketing: connecting the dots. A great deal of marketers are still not paying attention to the interplay between search and outdoor, or Facebook and their own websites (to name just a few examples). Integration is the pinnacle of an effective campaign in today's marketplace. Even if some of the core ideas behind a campaign are not so good, a campaign can be saved through integration and optimization.
This article outlined a variety of marketing mistakes, but most of the mistakes were not in the ideas themselves -- the mistakes were in the execution.