Posts Tagged ‘David Meerman Scott’

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CWS – say no to dirt!

April 18, 2009

cws-logoViral marketing, as already discussed in previous blog entries enjoys increased popularity and respect amongst marketers. Various campaigns have emerged out of nowhere and pleased online users with creative, funny and somehow unique content. One of them came from the German organisation “Complete Washroom Soulutions” CWS two years ago in 2007 and is, in my opinion, well worthy to be mentioned.

CWS chose the way of celebrity endorsement. They enlisted supermodel and actress Milla Jovovich for their video promotion to add a little bit of style, coolness and sex appeal. The scene shows her in a posh nightclub in a toilet stall, kneeing on the floor and preparing to snort a line of the drug cocaine from a toilet seat. Unfortunately for her, the toilet seat’s automated sanitary mechanism gets activated and the seat starts to rotate in order to clean itself. Milla keeps trying to get her nose full, but she is too slow and her initial shocked face reveals a massive scream that makes the other ladies who are in the bathroom wonder… the viewer is left a few seconds and then the message “say no to dirt” appears. But see it yourself, if you have not seen it yet.

Not only a very appropriate slogan for a toilet solutions maker, but also a great way to highlight a situation that is a well known problem for many bars and clubs. They advertise their product by offering a solution to a common “problem” (a clean seat for everyone at any time) and also make a statement about drug abuse. In my view they can be given some credit for a small contribution of corporate social responsibility. With 1,091,485 views on social networking site Youtube there must have been certain success through awareness creation and increased web traffic for CWS. “Online you are what you publish” (says David Meerman Scott). In that context, CWS achieved to create a fresh and modern image for themselves with that particular clip. Moreover, raised public awareness of a B2B brand can influence some kind of a pull effect, which generates demand from the end-user up the supply chain. Whilst some may argue its actual value to the company, I think that having your brand name out there is certainly a positive aspect that can have a variety of effects. Brand awareness creation, which involves brand recall and brand recognition, supports strategic brand management when building name recognition for your organisation, service or product.

There may be a connection between an earlier anti-drug campaign that is shown on video sharing site Dailymotion. Unfortunately, I struggle to find any closer information about that one, but here is the video. (I’ll have to warn you, it is certainly not a nice scene to watch and blood is involved… so children under 16 should probably not watch it)

The CWS video promotion is considered as excellent by various experts such as David Meerman-Scott or Marketingprofs, because it shows that really every brand can go viral, no matter whether B2B or B2C as well as no matter what product type. Even a product that may be rather considered as “boring” and “unexciting” such as a toilet can create buzz and become memorable through its marketing. It does not always need to be a highly fancy consumer product, but the way it is presented must be somehow special. Granfield from Marketingmag reports that brand advertisement can become remarkable by telling a story (if you have a few spare minutes, read his article: “How to get the world’s attention without being remarkable” here, I think it is brilliant!) This matches with what I referred to in one of my previous blog entries: create content that engages and excites your target audience. Nevertheless, the product or service must be of a certain value and quality – marketing can do lots, but it’s certainly no magician that turns “rubbish” into profit. Well… it actually did work with some brands, but that is my personal opinion and I do not want to cause any offence by mentioning names. 😉

In the end viral marketing could be referred to as “online gossip”. As long as you create something that makes people pass it on, remember and discuss it you have definitely secured “your foot in the door”. People love stories, otherwise things like books, TV and cinemas would not really work. I am sure nearly every one of us is guilty of having been involved in some form of “gossip”. Now, just apply the gossip to marketing, think how you can make the people you want to get interested in your story and get started!

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First Direct – A Fully Customer-Oriented Business Model

April 1, 2009

First Direct, one of Britain’s fastest growing banks, operate solely on a digital and phone basis (no branches) have managed to create a very impressive business model making use of new media and new technologies.

logo first direct

logo first direct

In banking, with reference to a Mintel report, there is a tendency towards customised and simplified business transactions, First Direct appears to be a simple and transparent service provider with a focus on its customers and with customer driven operations. It ticks all the boxes, of how a successful organisation should operate. Through brand differentiation, and as all their services are entirely built around customer needs. they have created something their customers can identify with. Marketing Strategist David Meerman Scott would approve of this, as he stresses the importance of creating content that solves people’s problems, rather than trying to promote the brand.

He states: You must unlearn the use of gobbledygook about your products and services. Instead start from the problems and needs of your buyer personas. (Read the full article here)

First Direct won several awards related to their operations such as: “Carbon Trust Standard” (They were the first bank to receive the Carbon Trust Standard award. More info), “Institute of Customer Services (ICS) Satisfaction Award“, “DADI podcast award” and many more. Not only that these awards improve First Direct’s brand reputation, but they certainly led also to positive publicity and word-of-mouth.

There are a two aspects I would like to consider a bit closer that give insight into First Direct’s business excellence.

Online / Telephone Banking

The benefit of operating online or via call centres is that every customer contact data is recorded and helps to develop a customer profile. This increases the quality of service as every employee servicing a customer has a wide range of technology available that provides full information about the person during the contact and thus, allows the  best possible service performance. Hence, there is opportunity for perfectly tailored database marketing to the customers. Moreover First Direct can make use of these data to learn more about their customers, make decisions about target markets for specific campaigns (customer segmentation), evaluate and compare customer values and finally, provide specialised offers for customers. Database marketing is invaluable, as it allows First Direct to create exceptionally tailored offers and services in a market based upon trust and confidence.

Telephone and Online banking can be perceived as a move towards a greener economy that supports the carbon footprint reduction. Having branches all over the country is related to high maintenance costs. In the case of First Direct these costs are limited to two headquarters and therefore the funds can be invested in consistent improvement of services, quality and technology. Besides,without the overhead of managing and maintaining branches First Direct are able to channel more resources into web development.

Interaction

First Direct make perfect use of their web page, a very fresh, creative and interactive offering – atypical for a bank in my opinion. The webpage provides podcasts with recent queries, concerns and expert information about interesting issues for their consumers (check it out). Moreover, one can find useful information about how to save energy at home. One podcast by “Energy Doctor” Mark London from “Energy Saving Trust“gives specific advice for energy savings in every household, by visiting a customer’s house (listen to the advice here). Not only are they are anxious to keep their own carbon footprint low, they also motivate their customers to take part as well as promote and encourage them to turn off the function of receiving paper bank statements in order to support their campaign “virtual forrest“. First Direct claim to plant one tree per 20 customers who switch onto paper-free transactions and let people vote where the tree should be planted. Another interesting approach is that they provide a section called “enthuse” with video clips of customers, who tell you their personal experiences with the bank and the reason why they are satisfied. These people can be seen as so called “brand advocates”, as they promote the bank by spreading their favourable perceptions and thereby generate greater brand awareness. It’s more credibe when someone like you and me gives you advice, rather than a brand trying to promote itself. This is supported by several consumer behaviour studies which identified higher confidence from consumers in personal recommendations amongst acquaintances than in advertisements.

These examples show how much more one can do with the help of new media tools, and how much more a customer may expect from a simple bank website. And as their side wouldn’t be already much more advanced that the ones from other banks, First Direct have only recently introduced a new tool: the little black book. This serves in form of a social network that is based on recommendations from First Direct customers to First Direct customers, where they can exchange information about travel, restaurants, bars, shops, services, money-saving tips etc. A great idea considering that a third of First Direct’s customers join via recommendations from existing customers, as stated in Chris Laweer’s article on FutureLab. First Direct state:

As first direct customers, you’ll know by now that we’re not like other banks. We tend to do things a little differently. We know you appreciate that – and that’s precisely why we wanted to create the Little Black Book.

Or rather, why we want you to create it. Because the Little Black Book isn’t just another review site. It’s more of a unique source of inspiration – a collection of interesting recommendations made by people like you for people like you that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else but here. And it’s exclusively for first direct customers.

A very smart move to engage with their customers! Not only did they build a social network for and with their customers, but also they gain further insight into interests and specific data about their customer. This in turn, will allow First Direct to create even better and more tailored offers for their customers. Imagine Mr X will show as being very proactive and keeps posting reviews of British heritage tours he’s made. First Direct needs some sort of reward for this customer. That they can tailor an offer, fully based on personal interests, in Mr X’s case probably a short trip to a place of interest – or even better, one that matches his interests, but it is not recorded that he has been there yet!

It appears that First Direct spends more time and effort in getting to know their customers in order to provide them with the expected services and added value. In essence, it excites me to think how great marketing opportunities must arise from all the customer data First Direct has access to. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone who is banking with them, and have no personal experience, so I cannot add any personal judgement. However, my impression stays the same. First Direct have created a very impressive business model, that seems to be a cutting-edge example for the creative and successfully implemented use of technology and new media means!

In that context, based on another statement from David Meerman Scott that says:“You must unlearn the idea that “leads” are the only way to measure your marketing efforts. Instead, consider how you are engaging your buyers and building a position as a trusted resource”, he may compliment First Direct’s efforts once more, as that is exactly what they are doing.

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How to Succeed with Viral Marketing?

March 5, 2009

As already discussed in my previous article viral marketing can be beneficial for large organisations such as Cadbury’s or Nike and also for individuals like the inspirational comedian Judson Laipply or small businesses like BlendTec “will it blend?” on the B2C level.

All of those “brands” have something in common: they succeeded in putting an excellent idea into practice. Viral marketing has the power to spreads a message like a biological virus by taking advantage of existing resources and thus keeping the delivery costs at a minimal level. Due to the population’s terrific rate of internet adoption, billions of individuals all over the planet are within reach by only the click of a button – a speed that cannot be topped by any other communication means.

Now, what is the key to success then?

Key to Glory

Key to Success

Three and a half years ago successful entrepreneur Seth Godin discussed factors in his blog that make an idea viral. He concludes that the visual effect is a key element of a message and also highlights the importance of creating ideas that catch people’s interest, make them excited and wanting to tell others – ideally, forwarding the message to all they know. Marketing speaker David Meerman Scott highlights the importance of creating content that is important to the target audience, exclusive and solving the customer’s problems, rather than promoting a brand’s strengths or features. Basically, the principle is quiet simple. Ask yourself, what sort of story would motivate you to tell it to as many people you know? Reviewing additional academic literature, my conclusion about factors that increase the success of a viral message could be as follows:

  • Decide which objective should be fulfilled (image improvement, brand awareness, greater market share, sales increase, etc.) Even though that may be considered as an old-fashioned view – the application of the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) approach can serve as a useful guideline.
  • Identify target segments, research their interests, latest online trends and networks they are actively involved.
  • Create something outstanding, unique and special
  • Be creative and surprise your audience
  • By telling some kind of story, that will give you the opportunity to continue with your next campaign (given the condition that the previous one was well received)
  • Identify online opinion leaders that are relevant to your campaign and make them give you feedback, generate their interest (brand representatives, opinion leaders or even, get your friends involved and excited – as soon you can infuse someone with your excitement, half of the job is done)
  • Spread your message amongst strategically selected networks by applying appropriate tools
  • Support your campaign by credible facts
  • Try and involve your advocates into NPD
  • Don’t try to control the effect – you can’t
  • Be prepared for the unforeseen!

Same as word-of-mouth viral efforts are not “a sure bet”. There is no guarantee that by getting all mentioned factors above right it will help to get an idea accepted by the target audience, but it certainly assists by getting closer to the campaigns’ objectives.

What about return on investment?

ROI factors for viral campaigns are not easily assessable. Well-placed campaigns that are calculated and provocative can unleash a wave of long-lasting buzz. Viral Marketing is great tool with the side effect of digital word-of-mouth information distribution. Launched successfully, a viral campaign has the ability to improve brand awareness, image creation, corporate identity creation, web presence, etc. In addition, there is the opportunity for an immediate linkage to the corporate web page and all that can also lead to increased sales.

Increased Sales

Increased Sales

I can identify two major types of viral marketing campaigns; the intended and the unintended one. Given the rising popularity of viral marketing and the immense amount of creativity out there it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate whether it was a tactical move with commercial objectives or not. Moreover there are the intended campaigns that are tailored to look like non corporate ones with the aim to get some buzz. Nevertheless, once such information is revealed negative publicity is not far, because people feel punked. But bear in mind: negative publicity may also be a strategy for media coverage!