I recently read a joke somewhere that when it comes to email marketing, you want to be a puppy dog in a room full of llamas. Because hey, everyone loves puppies and who wants to get spit at by a llama?
In the conclusion of my recent conversation on the Jim Blasingame Show, we talk about striving for relevance and relationship-nurturing in your email marketing.
We also discuss the importance of sending content your customer is interested in, instead of always and exclusively pushing for a sale—or what Jim calls "contribute first, contact second."
Along the way, we have a few laughs about one my current favorite email marketers, weekend clothing brand Chubbies.
Let's just say I was into the "Internet of Things" before it was much of "a thing" at all.
Never mind that a survey this year finds 87% of consumers say they've never heard the term. In my 2005 book BRANDING UNBOUND, I wrote extensively about the Internet of Things (or, IoT), and such coming innovations as "smart clothes" that would one day routinely monitor heart patients and alert doctors of impending heart attacks.
And intelligent homes, buildings and stores that will react to, and even predict, your every command—setting temperatures and lighting to your liking, and offering up goods and services based on your personal preferences.
Then there was the personalized content streamed direct to your car. Designer clothes that tell the washing machine, "don't wash me, I'm dry clean only." Medicines that warn users of dangerous interactions. Cars that get "upgrades" remotely via mobile software. And frozen dinners that tell the microwave oven how to cook them to perfection.
Nest, Tesla, Pandora, Proteus Digital Health's "smart pill," the Apple Watch and the Polo Tech Shirt notwithstanding, this world of pervasively interconnected services and solutions remains in its earliest stages. And yet, as far as the brand experience goes for these companies and others, it is beginning to create meaningful differentiation that is shaping consumer expectations with each new day.
When Tesla recently faced a recall nearly 30,000 Model S cars because of overheating issues with their wall chargers, the company was able to fix the issue by simply update the software in each care remotely, eliminating the problem without owners needing to go to their dealerships. What have other car brands have to compete with that?
While not quite proactively ordering new supplies, Amazon's Dash devices, WalMart's Hiku roll out this week, and Red Tomato Pizza's refrigerator magnets mean all you have to do is push a button or swipe an empty container to have laundry detergent, groceries (or piping hot Pepperoni Pizza) heading your way, without ever having to take out your mobile phone, activate an app and enter an order.
Netflix even recently released DIY instructions for building a push button that dims your lights, orders food, silences the phone and fires up Netflix queue.
Factor in product innovations—such as the Nike+ Running System (which runners found so compelling that the brand's already enviable share of the running shoe category skyrocketed from 48% to 61% in its first 36 months); Prada's continuing refinement of retail technologies (which identify what garments you pick up and instantly showcase runway video and accessories on the nearest store display); or new Johnnie Walker bottles that let you create personalized gifting experiences, and interact with brand promotions, using your mobile phone—and it's easy to see that brands that leverage IoT technologies stand to benefit mightily while those that don't may fall evermore behind.
Yet even big winners will need to tread carefully.
LIFE AS A POP-UP AD?
Even back in 2005, I warned that interconnected everything means you can run, but never truly hide.
Or, as techno-anthropologist Howard Rheingold tells me in the book, "A world in which you are connected infinitely is a world in which you are surveilled infinitely."
Yes, online ads and street side billboards that call out to you on a first name basis, offering exactly what you're looking for—even before you realize you're looking for it—will have their place. Much of this will seem quite magical—at rightly so. But brands and media partners must be careful to resist the temptation to personalize pitches to the point of creeping consumers out.
Or putting them in danger.
One need not look beyond recent news reports on automobile software systems being hacked from afar to understand personal information is not the only thing put at potential risk in this interconnected world.
As I write in the book, as marketers (and as consumers), you and I will face decisions our predecessors could never imagine about what is acceptable—perhaps even moral—when anything and everything is possible.
As brands we exist to serve our customers and their needs, not the other way around.
Ultimately, that may mean recognizing that consumers should be able to control how "smart" they want their "smart products"—and advertising aimed at selling them those products—to be.
Perhaps they even need control over deciding which "Things" (and the associated data) that they want to be part of this "Internet of" —to better serve them, in the ways they want to be served—even if that sometimes means less, instead of more, of what we hope to sell to them. Even while making what we do sell them more profitable.
The brands that get this balance just right will not only attract consumers. They'll gain their loyalty and their trust.
Perhaps that's where the true power of the IoT is waiting to be found.
READ MORE FROM THE '2015 MOBILE MARKETING PREDICTIONS—FROM 2005' SERIES:
Can someone who has never worked in advertising really cover it?
Or is it even better that way?
In the conclusion of my recent "exit interview" with legendary New York Times ad industry columnist Stuart Elliott, we discuss what it was like to cover such a idiosyncratic industry without much first-hand experience in the business.
How did being one step removed hinder - or help?
As Elliott says goodbye to the Times, we'll get his views on that topic.
And we'll try one last time to get his predictions for what's next in the world of advertising. His response is worth noting even for those of us who do work in this crazy, wonderful industry.
You have to love this Twitter campaign from Evian - and the stats it generated, including:
• An 11X increase in Twitter followers compared to the same month last year
• 3.5X more daily mentions for the brand during the promotional period
• 2.8 million impressions and 75,000 engagements via Twitter
This is a brand with a history of creating very powerful real-world/digital experiences - representing the vanguard of what I view as one of the most important trends in social media. Social is not an end unto itself - it is a means that, when combined with physical world experiences – is far more than the sum of its parts.
Ask yourself "How is my brand capitalizing on SoLoMo (social + local + mobile)?" – before your competition starts asking the same thing.
GEN WOW readers may recall my recent interview with James McKinney, CEO of SimpleDeal - which looks to be a promising new hyper-local mobile app that connects restaurants with customers at the point of maximum interest.
Unlike apps for setting reservations, receiving daily deals, pre-ordering meals and so on, SimpleDeal acts as a kind of digital wingman, enabling passersby to point their mobile phones at a restaurant and see the menu, find out about its offerings, review any special deals and make a dining decision.
What sets SimpleDeal apart is that it's run for the restaurant. There are no Yelp-style reviews. The restaurant gets the stage, and they can use it to sell you on coming in and having a great meal - right now.
When McKinney and I spoke, SimpleApp had launched in Long Beach, CA - and he started to lay out expansion plans into Orange County. And now, the company is launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the effort. And he's framing the story as something very much in the interest of the restaurant industry - and as a kind of counterattack against the daily deals industry.
Watch the video above and take a look at the Indiegogo page. And listen the my interview with McKinney, which I'm re-posting here.
If you're like me, you'll find yourself rooting for SimpleDeal's success.
But what's your view? A tasty new app that finally puts digital technology in the hands of restaurants?
Or so ambitious, it's biting off more than it can chew?
If it's the former - here's your chance to get in on the ground floor - and help save the restaurant industry while you're at it.
INTERVIEW: JAMES MCKINNEY, CEO OF SIMPLEDEAL: A Restaurateur's Best Friend (Pt 1)
In Part 1 and Part 2 of we learned about social retailing pilots for Nanette Lepore and Bloomingdales that resulted in a 3x increase in sales.
In part three of this exclusive source interview for my book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, Tom Nicholson - the father of social retailing - talks about the dynamic of using social media to lure shoppers into stores, and then keeping them there - longer and more profitably.
One of the best signs for the future of mobile marketing comes in the fact that so many of our favorites appear on a number of other lists of GEN WOW winners for 2013 - indicating a level of integration we had not yet seen in the evolution of what is obviously the most measurable, personal and direct link to consumers ever created.
It's also worth noting that none of these have much to do with anything called "mobile advertising" of the "Oh, look, Facebook has mobile ads now" variety.
Most, in fact, involve highly engaging experiences involving games, helpful information or actual utilities.
Our purely subjective favorites of the year include:
Sure, the promotional video is going to make your skin crawl. But this branded game from Stride and W+K does seems like a fun way to have your game and chew it, too. That's because the game uses your iPhone camera to detect your mouth movements to control the onscreen hero, Ace (bonus points for including the ability to share images of your crazy jaw action to share on social media.) Let's just hope the flavor lasts long enough to win during gameplay, though. Otherwise, the whole adventure may leave a, er, bad taste in your mouth.
This year, Lexus was pushing the limits again - just in time for this year's big SI Swimsuit Issue. There was that 3D projection mapping experience on an LA Hotel a while back. And last October, the brand brought a print ad to life with the help of a handy iPad. This time out, Lexus went a bit simpler, keying into QR codes - the scanning of which reveals models hidden in SI print ads for the new IS. And as you'll see in our list of Top 10 Best in in Digital Out-of-Home 2013, it was also just the opening act in an integrated camapaign that included Sport Illustrated's first-ever 3D projection mapping experience on the facade at Caesar's Las Vegas (the development of which comes from Go2 Productions, the same team that worked on our 3D projection experience for a recent client event featuring a private concert by TRAIN).
Okay, not technically mobile marketing, but print in the service of mobile. Here, NIVEA has found a way to let you keep enjoying those summer rays - without having to worry about your mobile phone going dead. This print ad from GiovanniDraftFCB in Brazil is just the latest example of print meeting digital for some very cool results (see recent Fanta-flavored, iPod-amping print ads for a few more).
As an Apple devotee, it pains me to say that Samsung's marketing in the mobile wars is increasingly impressive (and scathing) - especially the ads mocking iPhone fans waiting in long lines for the next iPhone. And in 2013, this effort from BBDO New Zealand raises the bar. Galaxy fans could skip ahead by tweeting. Brilliant. And you won't believe the results.
What JJ Abrams did for "Star Trek" and "Mission Impossible" with the ActionFX app, Disney's doing with its treasure trove of characters via its new Infinity Action! app. As a tie-in with its new Infinity game, this app allows you to create short videos using a host of popular Disney characters and 30 different animations and props, that they can then share on their soc-nets. Kids (and a fair number of parents) are certain to love this - and it's a great way to turn advertising into a participatory experience.
It's looking like Chipotle has scored big with a new mobile campaign centered on YouTube video and mobile game. As Venture Beat reports, Chipotle and Moonbot Studios produced an animated film and mobile game as part of its overall "Food with Integrity" campaign. Here's the thing: As a branding initiative, it's generating boffo results. In its first two weeks, the YouTube video saw 6.5 million views. And within four days of the mobile game's release on the App Store, it was downloaded 250,000 times, making it the top 15 free iOS apps in the U.S.
What are the Geico lizard or old Mayhem going to make of this? More importantly, what might they do with it? An insurance company called RSA in the Middle East has created an interactive print ad that enables readers to ask for a quote, no mobile phone or other consumer device required, though the quote comes back via the reader's mobile phone (which obviously provides the brand with contact information it could use for follow up communications). As part of the brand's "Easy as Ever" promise, the medium is quite literally the message - an innovative "wow" moment that directly delivers on the brand's positioning.
Paintlist is bringing new color to your playlist. The app, launched by Dutch Boy Paints, uses songs stored on your phone or the phone's microphone to identify a song, and then analyzes it to suggest several color palettes based on things like tempo and beat. As you might expect, fast, upbeat music favored by many millennials results in recommendations for vibrant colors - and slow, dramatic music results in more muted tones.
It might be the ultimate ice cream topping: This augmented reality concerto lasts just long enough for the ice cream to soften up just right. A very nice branding moment for connecting with certain customer segments.
In fact, the whole package-top motif took off big time this year. In one GEN WOW-winning effort from Domino's Japan, an iPhone app featuring a hugely popular, yet completely make-believe, virtual music star named Hatsune Miku, enables you to point your phone at a pizza box and enjoy a special, augmented reality performance from Miku.
Call it Father's Day, come early. This device, synced to Mom's belly, is sure to result in a powerful moment for Dad. And it's a blockbuster way to cement the Huggies brand into these new parents' minds. Maybe every expectant father should do this.
We've lost count of how many of our lists include this GEN WOW winner from a New Zealand-based pizza chain called Hell Pizza. its very cool augmented reality game continues the package-top trend this year, and pits pizza fans against (what else) zombies straight from, well, Hell. Righteous.
Call it text books by texting. This year, DDB Manila and telecom company Smart Communications won the Mobile Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival with an effort that seems like the perfect mix of cause + commerce.
Agree with our list? What made yours? Share - and let's discuss what it all means as we look ahead to 2014 and beyond.