Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Millions clamouring at the door

Every shopkeeper knows the phenomenon. Customer comes in, asks for an article you're not stocking. Ah well. Not long after that, another one. Same question. By the time the third customer comes in, you make a note.

Companies like Apple should (and probably do) thank God for the incredible amount of transparency any internet-related business model offers. Now we can track demand in more ways than you can imagine, even before the product is there. No need for expensive market testing.

Only thing needed now: marketers who heed the call. Apple ignores the masses at their peril.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Inane advertising

This is the third time I've seen this ad on the back of my favourite newspaper, The Economist, and it's starting to annoy me.

"An icon that will change the way the world views Hong Kong."

Wow, that's an eye opener! I mean, until now you wouldn't think of Hong Kong as a place full of tall glass office towers, would you?

You see this type of ads more often, but this is a particularly inane specimen. I suspect their only purpose is to reassure the developer's shareholders. At least, that's the only purpose I can think of.

You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it (revisited)

This quote, from Scott McNealy, is just a bit more than ten years old now. You'd almost call it McNealy's Law, because like Moore's and other laws of nature it doesn't show signs of losing its applicability. As is shown by this video from The Onion, a must for everyone remotely interested in internet privacy.

Marketing 3.0 - there's an app for that?

All signs are pointing in the same direction: Apple's App Store is briskly on its way to two billion downloads, Forrester has just reported that gadget craziness is going mainstream, and now even the scientists have gotten hold of the fact that there's something significant going on here.

Especially the New Scientist article, here's the link again, is worth a read. It pretty much describes what happens to you if you enter app land and start leaving browsers and the internet-as-we-know-it pretty much behind you.

And let's face it. Apps, little icons on your always-on, always-with-you smartphone that have exactly the function you want right now, one touch screen click away, are so much more convenient than firing up a browser and doing a search or accessing a website. And that is precisely how they eat into quality time you used to spend on your browser, on Google, on Yahoo or other portals, or on any of your other favourite websites.

This has enormous consequences for marketing. Life ain't easy for today's marketer, who has already had to adapt from the traditional media to search marketing, maybe just got used to it and now has to completely change over again. It's also interesting to see that no one has really figured out how to adapt to the new model yet. Display ads in apps? Forget it,it's not happening, at least not yet. Selling your products via apps? The only examples I've seen so far are clumsy attempts to mimick a magazine or catalogue, or inane little gimmicks, like having your product (which happens to be a watch) function as an on-screen clock.

The best exception I've seen so far is Nike, with the iPhit Fitness Tracker, a nifty little app that lets you track your running or other fitness exercises in combination with a sensor in your Nike running shoes.

There's no quick-and-dirty way to figure out how to let your brand enter consumers' minds via an app that really has an impact on your target group's lives. It's more like guerilla marketing: a different approach for everybody. But great riches await those who get there first.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marketing your iPhone apps

The iPhone-plus-AppStore is a brilliant and groundbreaking model for the future of mobile marketing. I've written before how effective the two work in conjunction to give users the best mobile experience by far. By getting it completely right Apple has changed the mobile landscape forever. But how effective is the AppStore as a marketing tool?

This reveal-all presentation by iPhone analytics firm PinchMedia provides an early insight in the new medium. It tells us how important it is to get yourself into at least the Top 100 at some point in time ("bunch up your publicity"); why it's generally better to choose paid-for over an advertising-supported business model; and how sticky the various categories of apps really are (you'll be amazed).

PinchMedia, we thank you. Finally the iPhone/AppStore ecosystem comes alive, supported by some proper metrics.

Why should I buy New Moon rice?

Looking at this poster I can think of three reasons:
1. It's Triple-A Premium. That sounds really, really premium.
2. I can choose from no fewer than six different packs.
3. The girl seems to like it.

So either this is the message New Moon choose to spend their advertising dollars on, or they need an advertising agency.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The wireless past

In the old days conference tables looked like this: pristine...

... and this is what I came across the other day:

Somewhere along the line things have taken a wrong turn.

Increasing loyalty doesn't need to cost anything

"Spot the differences"

Solitaire is the highest tier in Singapore Airlines' frequent flier programme. Its perks are incredibly popular. I know people who normally fly Economy (which doesn't contribute towards Solitaire qualification - you have to fly Business or First) but throughout the year carefully spend the extra money on a few Business Class flights in order to stay Solitaire. Perks are things like priority seat reservations and luggage handling, access to SIA's First Class lounges all over the world, and the prized First Class check in at Changi Airport (the Ritz Carlton among check ins).

So Singapore Airlines are a textbook example of perfect loyalty managers? Not always. In 2008, for inexplicable reasons, Singapore Airlines removed the number of membership years which until then had adorned each card. It's the easiest thing to do, and it doesn't cost the company a dime. Credit card companies have known this for a long time. It reminds people time and again of the period they've been valued customers, and it provides a subtle but continuous incentive to stay that way and increase the little magic number.

I just received my new Solitaire card, and I was pleased to see that SIA 1) hasn't thrown away the precious information of their top tier customers' seniority and 2) has put it back where it belongs - on the card.

If you want to increase customer loyalty you don't always need to throw money at it. Common sense helps too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Facebook, The Electronic Friendship Generator

Hilarious! I have nothing to add to this.

And please, PLEASE can someone make Twitter, blogging and email versions??

Starhub's Not-So-Digital-Lifestyle

Some things you just don't make up. Digital superstar Starhub sends me an email, telling me there's such a thing as a "Digital Lifestyle" and how exciting it all is. Can you spare us a few minutes to answer a survey about it?

Of course, always. I mean, I practically live the digital lifestyle, sitting behind my desk, surrounded by heaps of gadgets and emailing, blogging and twittering my little heart out. So naturally I click on the link.

Sorry, your browser is not supported. Please use Internet Explorer version 6.0 and above, or FireFox version 2.0 and above. Your current browser is Safari 528.16

So much for Starhub's version of The Digital Lifestyle. I rest my case.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

5 Reasons to pick up blogging

After a two-and-a-half-year absence, blogging is back in my life. Why now? Five very different things have conspired to my re-entry in the blogosphere. One is personal. The other four are incredibly relevant to every marketer.

1. Popular demand. Lots of people over the past years told me it was a pity I'd stopped posting. Apart from the flattering effect (which wears off pretty quickly) it built up to an increasing feeling of guilt. Contrarily to feeling flattered, guilt lingers. And it builds up over time. All it then needs is some help, which came from technology.

2. Phone cameras. Pictures help incredibly when you want to get a point across. Speaking for myself, the reverse is even true: one feels compelled to make a point when one sees the picture that goes with it. So always having a camera in your pocket has an enormous impact your ability to shape thoughts and share them with the world. Add to that the fact that a few phone makers were quick to recognize this and turned their horrible crapcams into fully-blown, usable cameras. Thank you, Nokia.

3. Online social networks. It's great to be able to stay connected and communicate with many friends and business contacts, bridging enormous distances and gaps in time. But while doing that I feel an increasing need to have an 'anchor presence' on the Web as well. A place where you put your own original content, a place where you can express ideas and thougts that are larger than bite-size. A profile page is not enough. A blog gives you all the room in the world.

44. Twitter. So now we've covered three basic human needs: a social network, the ability to communicate, and a place you can call your mental home. Anything missing? Yes, opportunity. Enter Twitter. Twitter fills the little gaps in between. What's more important, it does to blogging what the phone camera did to photography. It may not be an ideal tool but it's simple and lightweight, and you can afford to always have it on you and use it on the go. But a person cannot live by bite sized thoughts and visuals only. (At least I can't - I'm not speaking for the average politician of course.) So for me, tweeting and blogging are inseparable - one cannot live long without the other.

5. The iPhone. Or in my case, the iPod Touch. Hat off to Apple, who came up not just with a brilliant little gadget, but withba while ecosystem that put them at the nexus of all mobile developments. It's not just that we now have an elegant mobile device with a decent operating system, allowing us to do just about everything that you previously needed a laptop for. Nokia did that already, except that their OS is deeply inferior. But on top of that Apple managed to create an exosphere of developers who continuously come up with brilliant little apps for every possible need. Want to tweet? Dozens of apps are available. Want to publish to your blog? Pick and choose. Not to mention everything else under the Sun, but that's another day and another blog post. My only nags are that Apple still need to work a bit on the phone, and are still in the crapcam phase. Which is why I now carry two devices around.

So there you are. I know this is a bit if a risk. Having said what I just committed to posterity means that I now have no excuse not to blog. So be it. Meanwhile, see you on Twitter!

-- Post From My iPod