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.
Which is why there’s no way I could resist asking Rich Silverstein and other people central to its creation to appear on-camera to share insights on "The Seagate Living Logo"—the world’s first patent-pending corporate brand identity.
(See video at bottom)
NEVER THE SAME LOGO TWICE
Yes, it’s true that brand identities rendered in real time through data visualization have been around for a while now.
But the Seagate Living Logo—launched at CES last January—is the first to have a patent in play for literally taking its shape using live data feeds flowing from public data sources such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LastFM, Amazon, Getty Images and more.
The idea? To represent the integral role Seagate storage solutions play in storing 40% of the world’s data, and in enabling the data-centric business models of today’s most innovative companies.
INNOVATION IN MOTION
Throughout the last 12 months, new variants have included interactive Living Logos that respond to physical movements through Microsoft Kinect-based technology—allowing you to essentially swim amid social media posts and images.
A standalone Facebook version lets you personalize the experience using your own online images.
And another can be customized in real time using Twitter and Instagram keywords and handles, as well as your own uploaded images, for live business meetings and events.
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG (DATA)
As is typical in social media these days, reaction to the Living Logo there and elsewhere has ranged from the snarky to the sublime.
Yet regardless of where you fall on that score, the Living Logo represents a notable new entry into the annals of corporate branding.
And it seems to have sparked a trend.
Last July, Brazilian telco FS Company launched a dynamic logo that uses code and generative design to reflect the real-time activity on the company’s servers.
And a UK-based design firm called Amaze is now tracking employees’ physical movements and digital activities to drive a “human-powered” living logo using a framework that sounds a lot like Seagate’s.
Which makes sense. Given the fact that Gartner reports nearly 75% of companies plan to invest in big data solutions in the next two years, the Seagate Living Logo surely stands on the cutting edge of what is likely to become a crowded field in the years ahead.
This short video, edited by Seagate’s George Shubin, will give you the inside scoop on the Seagate Living Logo and how it came to be.
(Full disclosure: I've had creative input on the development of the Living Logo, and have worked closely with these and other people working on the project at Seagate, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Pet Gorilla and elsewhere.)
DATA IS BEAUTIFUL: THE STORY BEHIND THE SEAGATE LIVING LOGO
As the marketing world obsesses over Coca-Cola's decision to trade out its hugely popular "Open Happiness" tagline to "Taste the Feeling"(see one of 25 new spots, above), it's been fun revisiting the commotion created over some of its previous slogan changes.
Check out reaction (including my own) to "The Coke Side of Life" in Ad Age a decade ago.
Indeed, whenever Coca-Cola makes marketing changes of this magnitude, it can be a hoot to take stock of its taglines from times past. You usually find some surprises along the way.
A SIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Despite being one of the world's most successful brands, there have certainly been some oddballs in Coca-Cola's advertising oeuvre—who can resist "Enjoy a Glass of Liquid Laughter" (1911), or "Proves a Big Help to Tired Housewives" (1909)?
And then there's that golden oldie: "Coca-Cola: The Great National Temperance Beverage" (1907)—which, we're told, "has none of the ill effects or 'let down' qualities of alcoholic stimulants." Yum.
Some old taglines are just inscrutable—"Same to You" (1940) sounds as if the feeling you're tasting is indignation.
And present-day regulators might have a field day with any tagline that proclaims Coke is "Pure and Healthful" (1904), and "Adds a Refreshing Relish to Every Form of Exercise" (1906), with "The Perfect Blend of Pure Products from Nature" (1923).
To modern audiences, other tags charitably might seem like aspirational positioning in the extreme—such as, "The Ideal Beverage for Discriminating People" (1906), "The Sign of Good Taste" (1957), and "The Best Drink Anyone Can Buy" (1913).
After all, everyone knows the best drink you can buy isn't Coca-Cola. It's Coke Zero.
PAST AS PROLOGUE?
Despite so many antiquated curios from campaigns past, many Coke taglines of yesteryear would be completely at home in the digital age.
Think about it:
In an era of virtual reality, 3D printing and social media poseurs, Coke promises to bring you "The Real Thing" (1948)
Ad skipping technology? "Relax with the Pause that Refreshes" (1947)
The age of Uber and Airbnb? "Share a Coke" (2011)
Group texting, geo-fencing and flash mobs? "Meet Me at the Soda Fountain" (1930)
Personal aerial drones? "Look Up, America!" (1975)
Even online activism and crowd funding fit that all-time favorite, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" (1971).
Yet perhaps it's that texting-and-flash-mob example that hits home most. As it happens, Coke classics seem especially well suited for the mobile revolution—including (among a surprising number of others):
Whether this is all a sign of soda-pop prescience, promotional predestination or pure chance, Coca-Cola remains a venerable brand whose slogans will provide plenty for (pop-) cultural anthropologists to ponder in decades to come.
Will future advertising aficionados still find it as amusing as we do?
What do you want the world to be like when you retire? This Swedish pension firm created this interactive experience that enables you to toggle two versions of life 30 years from now to show how sustainability pays off—for the planet and your financial picture.
These intelligent digital billboards pull in data gathered from social media, traffic updates and weather information to provide tips on getting the best photos to New York City tourists and amateur photographers.
Digital signs developed with DreamWorks Animation enables shoppers at Piccadilly Circus to use their mobile phones to personalize and visualize custom scarves, and display them on a giant screen for all to see before placing a purchase.
Online media planning and optimization solutions provider Marketing Evolution developed this robot that was able to identify attendees at this year’s Association of National Advertisers conference on sight – and engage in conversation about their media plans based on their past spend.
Cult '80s film 'Never-ending Story' inspires this site, which is “powered' by dream data” from five sleeping volunteers in a very abstract effort to highlight this non-profit organization’s efforts to improve the lives of children.
Five different living billboards featured encasements with live bacteria on affixed strips to keep them in place. Over time, the bacteria fed off the environment inside the encasements, and started go grow, forming one of five unique statements to educate consumers about how to avoid becoming ill due to household bacteria. So creepy, it’s (literally) infectious.
You either love the voice that comes out of your GPS navigation device, or hate it. Either way, this app automatically switches to a child’s voice when providing turn-by-turn instructions through areas where there are likely to be kids around, in an effort to cue drivers to drive more cautiously.
It’s (almost) enough to make you love retargeting: This year, online display ads for 3M's Post-It brand sticky notes have proven just that—sticky—by enabling consumers to write themselves notes, reminders and to-do lists right inside the ad units. Through the magic of retargeting—technologies that deliver that same ad to you wherever you go around the Internets, usually to your chagrin—your virtual Post-Its re-appear everywhere you go.
This summer, Netflix came up with an innovative way to promote its 'Sense8' online series, which about eight random people who find themselves connected telepathically. It’s approach? Using brainwaves from eight viewers to create a musical symphony.
Out to demonstrate how quick and transparent its auto price evaluations are, Taiwan-based used car dealer Kagulu rolled out a truck outfitted with cameras and databases to scans cars on the streets and display its value instantly.
Call it "23AndThee": This past Earth Day, Hong Kong-based NGO Cleanup launched a billboard and bus signage campaign in an effort to get people to clean up after themselves in city known for more than its share of litter. DNA evidence on discarded chewing gum, cigarette butts and even a condom was used to by forensic scientists to predict the eye, hair and skin color, as well as the face shape, of litters – and a total of 27 different profiles were established, and then displayed for all to see. Nothing like shame—and the fear of it—to shape behavior!
Mobile is where it’s at again this year, though we quibble with its definition these days.
For instance, Facebook says nearly 80% of its ad revenue come from mobile advertising. But in our humble opinion, just because an ad is experienced on a mobile device doesn’t mean it’s “mobile.”
Small wonder then, that as in year’s past, most of our top pics for 2015 bring something more to “mobile” – by in fact, relating to place, or the specific capabilities or key functionality of the device in which they are consumed.
Here's 10 of our favorites from the year that was.
This wildly popular (and widely spoofed) holiday campaign from UK retailer John Lewis includes a mobile app featuring augmented reality that lets you point your phone toward the moon to unlock daily facts about each phase of the moon. There’s also a game in which the player has to avoid obstacles and collect power boosts to get a specific item up to the man on the moon.
Despite the fact that we're never ones to require any additional prompting to drink Coke Zero – we live on the stuff – this year’s “drinkable advertising” caught our notice. The campaign’s TV spots featured Coke Zero being poured from an onscreen bottle – before migrating to viewers’ mobile phone screens before transmogrifying into a coupon.
What’s not to love about the World Wild Life Fund’s “Last Selfie” promotion with Snapchat, which takes advantage of the fleeting, transient nature of Snapchat snaps with short ads that show just how quickly an endangered species can be wiped off the planet. Powerful, and perfect for the platform. In just its first week, consumers posted 40,000 tweets about the initiatives to 120 million timelines. And in just three days, WWF reached its fundraising target for the entire month.
This year, Guess's special mobile ad units enabled users to snap selfies and then “try on” sunglasses via augmented reality, complete with pointers on which styles work best for your face shape. The user takes or uploads a selfie, adjusts the placement, applies from a wide selection of sunglasses and can even share the image for feedback from far-flung friends via their social platforms. Add a "buy" button and this could be m-commerce magic instead of just promotion.
How do you get shoppers into store locations during the Easter season? Launch an augmented reality Egg Hunt for the chance to win store gift cards. Here’s a brick & mortar retailer (in Australia) that refused to shy away from mobile and instead embraced it to enhance the retail experience.
This summer, the online music streaming service rolled out a "Found Them First" microsite that lets users see which musicians the system knows they heard before the artists became megawatt sensations. Users can then build and share a playlist built on those early discoveries. In exchange, Spotify will offer them a new playlist with other new acts they might help “discover” as well.
MINI USA is big on short online films featuring its cars, so it made since that the brand would be among the first to take 360-degree video for a test drive. Two such films, “Backwater” and “Real Memories” are definitely worth a gander—and could mean big things for the road ahead.
Let’s face it: You’re not quite you when you’re hungry, are you? Which is why the latest installment of Snickers’ long-running "You're Not You" campaign includes a mobile app that enables consumers to create images related to their particular hunger symptoms and share them socially. The key isn’t to show off what kind of hungry you are, of course. It’s about calling out family and friends for acting “snippy,” “loopy,” “cranky,” “confused,” “spacey," or ... insert your own adjective here.
Yes, I’m still fixated on this VR initiative from Qantas, which enables you to go on a eight-minute, 360-degree virtual vacation to Hamilton Island. In fact, it was really hard to decide between this and our #1 pick this year. It is, after all, either instant justification for the VRevolution, or a sure sign of the Apocalypse. Once companies start producing VR content like this that lasts not minutes but for hours on end, the human race may just opt out of the “reality” part of the equation all together—at least when they aren’t physically going to these amazing locales.
Okay, there's rarely a moment when a large TV screen is much out of arms reach these days. So maybe this is the solution to a problem that few will ever face. But it's still hard not to dig the Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box - a pizza box that's also a movie projector. Throw in a cold one and this could be the best thing to happen to pizza since pepperoni.
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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:
Games can be good for business—even (perhaps especially) when it comes to B2B marketing.
In the second half of my recent appearance on the Jim Blasingame Show, we continue our conversation on 5 of the top forms of content marketing. Not so much about channels—blogs, shared social media platforms, email, landing pages, websites and so on—rather, what kind of content makes for, or enhances, posts in those channels.
While Part One focused on video and touched on case studies, this second half addresses infographics, webcasts and branded games.
...Wait, branded games?
A content marketing report from Hubspot earlier this year finds 64% of B2B marketers rank webinars/webcasts as the most effective kind of marketing content, followed by video at 60%. Old-school case studies are close behind, at 58%. And posts and articles that contain infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than ones without.
Indeed, while specifics (and content categorizations) vary from survey to survey, the five we discuss are at the top end of most surveys in terms of both adoption and effectiveness.
So what content type is missing in most of these studies?
Games—which are used by just 1% to 12% of B2B marketers, and don't tend to show up in even the top 20 in terms of most effective content types.
But does that mean it doesn't work? Or that it's untapped opportunity?
For his part, Jim sounds as if he might be at least a little perturbed by the whole rise of gamification in our lives—and perhaps a little skeptical about its use in B2B marketing.
But as you'll hear me tell Jim, key research on gaming among white collar workers informed an engagement with one B2B client that resulted in a branded game that was played over 1 million times, resulted in 5,000 leads, and over $1 million in direct sales in its first six months (see case study video above).
As Jim wisely points out, this is not the kind content that you should necessarily deliver directly to just any B2B prospect or client.
Indeed, as I say here, it's better that your communications should point to a game, and let interested parties come to it.
It's also important to point out that Jim's show is targeted to SMBs, which, as we discuss, would impact the types of games that are truly feasible. Think knowledge games versus full, high-concept productions.
And while I touch on it in the interview, I want to add that in my view, whether it's B2C or B2B, and whether it's large brand or small, there are three key rules of the game, so to speak:
The best games are built around, and clearly communicate, your value proposition. They are not just games for the sake of games.
Branded games are best played with others—meaning they should have built-in incentives to make the games social and viral, creating a multiplier effect in communicating your value proposition.
They should always include a call to action to continue the conversation about your offerings. Before you even start developing a game, define what it is you want your audience to do, feel or think about your brand once they play it.
So is gaming and/or gamification right for your content marketing operations—B2B or otherwise?
You won't know until you try.
But make no mistake: B2B marketers at Microsoft, Dell-SonicWALL, IBM and other brands long ago discovered that they can turn fun and games into serious profits.
Why not play with the possibilities—and see how well you score?
It’s the biggest buzzword in marketing today—but also the most over-hyped.
Indeed, for all the promise of “content marketing,” it’s not as easy as it seems. In a recent poll, a full 43% of B2B marketers, for instance, cite content marketing as an effective tactic for lead generation. But 43% also say it's also one of the most difficult.
It's also not always as effective as you might believe. According to eMarketer, developing the right content for the right audience is a major factor in why content marketing efforts fail to get desired results.
Indeed, despite today’s emphasis on all things digital, 84% of marketers develop old-school print brochures as #1 in their lead generation efforts.
Not that that's bad. Print does have a place as a delivery mechanism for some forms of content marketing—if anything, it's gained more cache in the digital age. But it's just one of many.
SO WHAT'S WORKING?
In this recent appearance on the The Jim Blasingame Show, I attempt to demystify content marketing.
Some of the other top content forms will obvious to you, others maybe less so. Either way, any conversation with Jim means you’re going to have some fun along the way.
Of course, since Jim’s show is targeted to SMBs, our conversation is focused more on marketers who hope to gain traction in the marketplace without big-brand budgets.
But as you'll hear, whether it's big brand or small, one thing is clear: For all the time and money spent developing content to draw in prospects, a growing number of marketers are realizing they most overcome one cold, hard fact: Nobody anywhere is waiting around for your content.
This audio Q&A might help you find new ways to change that.
Betabrand knows how to break news. Or at least break into it.
The San Francisco-based online clothing company has a history of newsjacking—it made a name for itself when Mark Zuckerberg met with Wall Street bankers in (what else) a hoodie. Zuckerberg's sister Randi stumbled upon Betabrand's $148 Executive Hoodie (think worsted wool) and inventories instantly sold out.
Fast forward to this week, and the small brand has made an art of fast-turn content marketing that this week included a one-take video capitalizing on reports that Silicon Valley legend HP was banning t-shirts in its engineering department to recruit some engineers of its own.
That was Monday. On Tuesday I told CEO Chris Lindland that he had a hit on his hands. By Wednesday Adweek and FastCompany had covered the video. And whether responding to it or simply the news reports, HP Human Resources felt the need to post its own video reassuring employees that the ban was just an unfounded rumor.
I talked with Chris again this morning about his amazing week—and what is says about effective content marketing in general—and powerhouse newsjacking in particular.
A year—and countless awards—after the debut of Leo Burnett's "Like A Girl" video for Procter & Gamble's Always brand, the effort is out with a new spot dealing with a lack of confidence and perceived limitations—and conquering them.
It's worth noting that the themes here, including comments from one girl about how only boys can be heroes, play well with a TV platform that's custom-made for causes like this—if CBS rises to the challenge ("Supergirl," anyone?).
The new spot includes a call to action encouraging girls to share how they're unstoppable at the Twitter hashtag #likeagirl.
And stealing a page from Dove's long-running "Campaign for Real Beauty," viewers are urged to join the effort to champion girls' confidence at always.com.
According to ADWEEK, the brand is also partnering with TED to develop confidence-inspiring content through its educational unit, TED-Ed.
I can't say this spot resonates as much as the first.
But it's got a great message that's definitely worth sharing with girls and women everywhere.