19 04 2010

Due to increased traffic, I’ve migrated to a hosted wordpress setup. You can now read me at: www.marketingtoculture.com. I thank you for paying attention to what I have to say. I hope you can join me in my new home.



Love is everything.

4 04 2010

The other day I was sitting on a patio at a local coffee joint and watching people walk by (in a totally non-creepy way!). It was the first day of spring in Toronto, love seemed to be in the air (this won’t get any cheesier I promise) and I couldn’t help but wonder what made relationships tick.  At that very instant, I was struck by a profile on tribe.net. This was the profile of “Love is Everything“. I was amazed at how many friends Frank (the dude behind the profile) had – over 14,000! As I spent some time going through his page on Tribe I realized some critical things –

a. Frank figured out what his brand stands for, but he didn’t stop at that. Most importantly, he found a way to translate his brand promise into a cause worth pursuing.

b. Frank is truly authentic! He solely focuses on advancing his message through posts that add value to the community. He does this by giving his community content that furthers the cause.

c. Frank isn’t obsessed with himself. In fact, he hardly talks about himself on his profile.

In today’s digital economy, companies absolutely need to engage and involve their customer communities if they want to regain their business. Unfortunately, just having a great brand and brand promise is not sufficient.

A few days ago, John Bell blogged on the “Utility Brief”. I’d like to leave you with a quote from his article. Hopefully you’ll ponder over this post and share your thoughts.

“Today, consumers want their brands to deliver more value through utility, entertainment or information (the latter two are really just forms of utility). They want high quality products and services but expect brands to go beyond that to keep them as customers or to at least earn their advocacy.”

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HULU, News Corp – You must’ve missed that class in brand management, eh?

31 03 2010

One of the first lessons I learnt in branding was that if you start selling a product at a certain price, you can always move to a price lower but never higher. Why is that you ask? Well, it’s a simple concept – consumers tend to develop a certain perception of quality for a product or service based on the price they paid for it. Once this perception is established in a consumer’s mind, it’s extremely difficult to change it for the better. Easy to change it for the worse though.

So what are the Marketing geniouses at Hulu and News Corp thinking? First, they offer their product for free and then, expect consumers (who’ve had free access all this while) to suddenly be willing to pay for the same content?! That’s absolutely absurd. I would understand if these companies were at least thinking of offering some premium content or add-ons for paying customers (you know… the “Freemium” model). That may possibly work, some day. For now though, I’m confident that this path that they’re choosing to take, will not lead to profitville.


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Personal Empowerment and Community Building through Social Media

23 03 2010

Source: Flickr: Franco Folini "Graffiti on a truck: renuer"

Throughout history, the development of technology has always sparked counter-cultural movements that have looked to subvert popular culture and societal norms.

Many of these movements were inspired by the situationist movement of the 1960s. However, all these movements did have 2 common underlying motives. They all looked to improve personal empowerment and encouraged the building and growth of communities.

One such movement led to the use of print media to create the “Whole Earth Catalog“. This catalog promoted openness, user-generated content (yes!..back in the late 60s) and stood for the democratization of information and collective consciousness. Out of this catalog was born a message board called Whole Earth Lectronic Link (WELL) in 1985. This online message board looked to again subvert culture by attempting to use technological tools (initially built for societal control) to bring about Personal Empowerment and a sense of community. Of course, I don’t need to remind you that the same underlying motives form the foundation of Social Media and the web 2.0 world as we know it.

I therefore strongly feel the success of innovation in the Social Media world will be heavily dependent on whether or not newer ideas take the fulfillment of these very motives/ideals a step further. Yes, I know there are many other factors that will influence success, but I believe that these cultural motives are critical to laying a foundation that can withstand growth.

I think a good example is Foursquare (and of course other similar location based services) because it looks to improve personal empowerment by giving businesses the ability to better cater to their customers’ needs. Are there other examples of innovation in social media that adhere to these two principles? Your input will make this post and my follow-up a lot more interesting.

References: www.virtualcampfire.org

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Apple fu*ks innovation

5 03 2010

Credit: Dimitri Castrique

I’m upset about Apple suing HTC.


1. Apple is a company built on the very foundation of the remix – need I remind everyone of how the first mac OS was built or where the design ideas for the ipods came from.

2. You cannot be allowed to patent an experience or the way we interact with a certain product. That is what prevents technology from moving ahead. I don’t know how such patents might work in Canada but my gut tells me that you can’t patent such experiences in Canada. Imagine a world where “the mouse” was patented and only XYZ company could use them! Makes no sense.

3. Apple’s roots lie heavily entrenched in punk culture. Through the years they’ve done such an amazing job of building brand equity and creating brand evangelists that they don’t seem to be afraid anymore. I personally do not think the culture of Apple’s target audience goes well with the concept of lawsuits or excessive patenting. Somehow the carry over equity is so heavy that small deviations from that culture (in the form of this lawsuit for example) won’t really affect Apple. So unfortunately it looks like they’re going to continue doing what they do. It’s up to us as consumers of Apple products to put our foot down and make them listen. Apple really doesn’t have a strong ethical background, do they?

Social Media Measurements: A shift in culture?

2 03 2010

House of Tweets, Source: How MPs use Twitter (Globe and Mail)

I blogged a couple weeks ago about the need for a cultural shift before people start accepting various metrics for social media measurement. Well, it seems like that shift has already begun. Here’s an article from the Globe that talks about how MPs in Canada are using twitter to propagate their messages and engage in conversations with their followers. It’s interesting to notice that the analysis in this article was done by looking at a free tool called “Twitalyzer”. Metrics such as “Clout”, “Influence” and “Generosity” were taking seriously in this analysis. This is great news for all us social media geeks and junkies. This is only a sign of great things to come.


Focus Groups Suck!

21 02 2010

Source: Wall Street Journal via Good: Campbell's Soup redesigns a label using "neuromarketing" techniques.

Here’s Campbell’s new packaging…its apparently designed using biometrics.

Let me guess, this was tested through a focus group…maybe a bunch of them over a span of 2 to 8 weeks. While I’m not refuting any of the concepts or the science behind the design of this package, I do strongly feel that many marketing organizations don’t always get it.

If Campbell’s invests the same amount of money in reaching out to their consumers through online communities, they might actually see a much higher ROI and maybe even grab some new customers along the way.

Yes, it is about creating an emotional connection with consumers and yes, packaging is important. However, it’s important only to the extent that it properly conveys the brand’s position and is easily identifyable on the shelf. Beyond that, brand’s are just wasting their time and money.