Posts Tagged ‘Return on Investment’

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Marketing Strategy: Comparethemeerkat.com

May 14, 2009

Alexander Mikhailovich Orlov was a Soviet espionage administrator, who defected to the U.S. in 1938, warned Leon Trotsky of his impending assassination (read more here). Nevertheless, for the last four months “Aleksandr Orlov” the meerkat with a Russian accent broadcasts on TV in order to reassure people that they should not get confused between the two pages; comparethemarket.com and comparethemeerkat.com. He explains that lately many people have been misspelling the words when looking for price-comparison site Compare The Market in search engines and landing on his page Compare The Meerkat when trying to find a cheap car insurance. If you have not seen the TV ad yet, please see it yourself:

I remember seeing that clip for the first time and wondering a little about its sense. However, despite some doubts the ad caught my attention as well as the attention of many others. Being curious I went to investigate a bit to find out more myself. Compare The Market is a price-comparison website, which aims to provide its customers with the most beneficial and cheapest quotes from various major organisations offering car, travel or home insurances; credit cards; mortgages; loans etc. Some examples of such organisations include The AA, HSBC, Nationwide and the Post Office. Compare The Meerkat is a site founded by the Russian meerkat entrepreneur Alexandr, who claims to be a member of the Russian aristocracy and lives in Moscow. His site provides information about various meerkats, their origins, hobbies and favourite activities. A month later another clip appears, where he claims that there is a big difference between his page, comparethemeerkat.com and the price-comparison site comparethemarket.com, by playing both jingles that sound pretty much identical.

Aleksandr Orlov's Twitter Page

Aleksandr Orlov's Twitter Page

After getting lots of positive response and people liking these adverts, Aleksander did not rest on his laurels. He created an account on social networking site Twitter gaining great response within only a few days and currently has 14,935 followers (see his page here). Hence, Aleksandr took advantage craftily of the numerous branding and social networking opportunities delivered by Twitter.

Matching his character his account provides funny and light-hearted content, which is also adding value through a personal touch to the brand itself as well as and additional level of online customer support. According to Revolutionmagazine Aleksandr even encouraged his Twitter followers to leave statements on how they like the business in order to create a testimonial area on Comparethemeerkat.com with their comments and photographs (read full story here).

Aleksandr also has created a Facebook page (here you can see his profile) with stunning 409,565 “fans” where he similarly to Twitter discusses funny stories and jokes with people who have signed up for him.

Aleksandr Orlov on Facebook

Aleksandr Orlov on Facebook

Both, Twitter and Facebook show high potential for customer interaction and also very high response rate from people involved. In marketing terms that can be seen as brand management and reputation building from a funny and relaxed perspective: people start to like Aleksandr and part of their affection will be transformed to Compare The Market eventually. Moreover, there is also a profile on YouTube (see here) where people have signed up as followers and leave comments on the videos. It seems that people are highly enthusiastic in communicating with Aleksandr. On all pages high interaction between customers and “Aleksandr” is apparent, which represents an essential element for successful social networking.

With reference to George Everett, the creator of the campaign states in Marketing Magazine:

“Facebook and Twitter are fantastic media for us as they allow us to build a conversation with consumers,’ he says. ‘People only insure their cars once a year but we will be at the front of mind.”

Only recently a new character has been introduced “Sergej” the one who is responsible for IT and seems to be an important part within Aleksandr’s company – and also gives the brand another mascot. His appearance gains greater importance and he has even received a role in the newest clip, that came out two weeks ago:

Compare The Market have created a spoof on their own name and perfectly combined online with offline efforts within their marketing concept by combining above-the-line advertisement such as print, TV and radio with below-the-line advertisement such as social networks and web pages. This shows that new media are even stronger if combined with traditional methods, if applied effectively so that one can boost the other in the most efficient way.

With reference to Marketingmagazine the responsible agency VCCP had the clear brief to boost the brand name “Compare The Market” in order to generate brand awareness and to stand out in a very crowded market. Hence, return on investment has been achieved clearly as brand recall is ensured massively – I am sure that people will definitely remember the brand, as VCCP have done a great job.

In SEO terms, which is the concept of optimising the ability of others to find your brand’s online appearance best possible when using a web search engine such as Google or Yahoo, Compare The Market have also succeeded. Having an account on the most popular social networks boosts a brand in extremely high positions on web search engines. By building brand awareness via social media, this also allows them to have a direct influence towards increasing online traffic and finally their sales.

This entire campaign is a brilliant piece achieving a viral effect that does not seem to stop spreading. Definitely an outbreak in promotion by combining online and offline efforts. It shows how successful a clear marketing strategy can be, when created properly by applying currently popular tools. They took advantage of the popularity of social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in order to build a platform for interaction with their “fans”. I am sure some people may argue whether having lots of followers supports their business, but once more I believe that awareness creation, which is achieved perfectly in this case, has a long-lasting effect that will stay in mind. And if you ever should require cheap car insurance… I am sure you will remember Aleksandr and give their page a go – if this is not successful marketing, then please tell me why!

And because its so nice…here some more of Aleksandr!

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Cardosystems – Can Cellphones Make Popcorn?

May 6, 2009

By watching TV yesterday I have discovered the show called “Rude Tube” on channel E4, which I found very amusing. Basically, Alex Zane, a British comedian,  presents the most popular viral videos that have ever been shown on the Internet. On their web page, individuals can leave comments and rate videos, but they must sign up, as only registered members are able to leave a comment. A good way for a TV channel to take advantage of the numerous opportunities delivered by the World Wide Web in order to become more interactive. E4 have also achieved great success by launching a feed on Twitter, reporting the latest news of the popular TV series “Skins” and hit 10,000 followers in one day. You can follow them as well by clicking here. Skins is a British award winning TV series that tells the life stories of a group of teenagers living in Bristol.

However, one of the clips was the one, which all of you must have seen or heard about at some point. Once more, video sharing has served as a new media tool to create awareness. The original video shows four French people having a few kernels of maize on a table, surrounded by their mobile phones. Now they make all their phones ring simultaneously, and the kernels puff into popcorn. After a while a series of other cases from  additional countries appeared to make it look like like people tested it all over the world, but watch it yourself:

This video has currently 12, 869, 303 views on video sharing site Dailymotion, since it was released online in May 2008. For those of you who do not know it yet, it was all fake. The videos were part of a guerilla marketing campaign made by the American organisation Cardosystems, who tried to promote their headphones with new Bluetooth technology. The idea behind it was to encourage people to use headphones rather than the phone itself. In an interview with CNN the CEO of Cardosystems as well as founder of the campaign, Abraham Glezerman reveals all the secrets:

What a successful campaign with a return on investment of a 100% sales increase. Even marketing strategist Seth Godin refers to that case as a “vivid” marketing story. Nevertheless, one may argue whether this kind of campaign was ethically correct or not, as people were led to the conclusion that cell phones may cause serious health damage. Are there any negative consequences when marketing chooses to go the delusional way? Ehret claims in his blog “The Marketing Spot” that he would probably avoid Cardosystems if dealing in the Bluetooth industry:“I do have a hard time believing that there was no attempt at deception on Cardo Systems’ part. If I were in the market for Bluetooth, I would probably skip Cardo.”

The videos caused both excitement and outrage. Many people really liked the content and had a laugh about it, whilst others are in serious fear what their phone could do to their health. I suppose that the way in which news and information are distributed differs from country to country and hence, the perception caused by such marketing campaigns may differ depending on the culture. In this blog one of the readers claims, that the videos have scared many people in Israel.

Here is the final clip they launched to advertise their product:

In terms of awareness creation I believe that Cardosystems have done a great job. The video spread like wildfire on the web and achieved a stunning number of views and media response. The Internet is a great tool to get information, but this case also proves once more, that people have to be more critical about what they read or see. Everyone is able to publish content, so information that appears a bit dubious should be questioned by the reader and not trusted immediately. If Cardosystems had revealed themselves from the start, the video would have never achieved such a marketing buzz as it did. I find it difficult to judge whether they acted socially irresponsible or not, as finally, we all have the freedom to choose what we believe or not, but I think I tend to the view that they have not acted unethically and therefore, not broken the “rule” of corporate social responsibility, but I am open to a discussion.

What is your view on the subject? And did you know it was fake?

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ROI for BlendTec’s “Will it Blend?” Campaign

March 13, 2009
blendtec-total-blender1

"Total Blender" by BlendTec

In one of my previous blog entries some successful viral campaigns have been discussed and readers have shown scepticism about return on investment factors. This encouraged me to investigate a little further into the ROI factors of “Will it blend?” that represents a superb campaign which prospered massively.

“Will It Blend?” started as trial viral marketing campaign consisting of a series of commercial shows demonstrating BlendTec’s product the “Total Blender”.

BlendTec founder and CEO Tom Dickson grinds an unbelievable range of items in order to demonstrate the power of his product.

The idea came from George Wright, BlendTec’s vice president of marketing, who got excited about Tom Dickinsin’s extraordinary testing methods in order to assure the quality of his products.

“…The way he tests equipment is very extreme. And he does a lot of crazy things and this blender did a lot of amazing things under this destructive testing. My first thought was, you know I would like to see that happen the next time he does it. And then I kept thinking you know what? I bet everyone else would like to see that happen too, this is amazing staff – and so we did!…” (Hear the full interview with George Wright provided by Rocky Mountain Voices here or at PodTech)

They set up an account with the popular video sharing side YouTube on the 30th of October 2006 and currently have 172 658 subscribers, 3 270 602 channel views and 83 different video clips (see here). With the slogan: “See what the Total Blender can do in the BlendTec test lab, as we ask the question, Will It Blend?” they also encourage viewers to submit ideas of what they would like to see being blend.

According to an article by Information Week, George Wright, BlendTec’s vice president of marketing said that BlendTec suffered a lack of brand awareness, even being in the business producing commercial blenders for years. Operating in the B2B sector mainly, BlendTec introduced its blenders for the B2C market, but could not afford “tens of thousands for a marketing campaign” for a traditional above-the-line advertising campaign.

Wright states in the interview with Rocky Mountain Voices that social media such as blogs and the video sharing site YouTube, combined with the technology offered his company a great opportunity for more branding.  By aligning with the right social networks and some leading blogs within five days the campaing had a massive break through.

With reference to Econsultancy BlendTec’s site traffic has increased by 650% since the videos have been introduced. Both, Information Week and Econsultancy report that BlendTect’s sales have increased five-fold over previous record revenues. Additional revenue was generated through the ad-share program with video sharing network Reever.

This campaign enabled BlendTec an incredible media outreach and PR buzz which happened through third party endorsement and was not a prescribed expensive advertisement campaign. Of course not every viewer ends up becoming a new customer, but the campaign represents a breakthrough in demographics for BlendTech’s brand awareness and image creation.

A great example for the immense power of new media and social networks. Finally, the breakthrough of this campaign required a good idea, material for about $50.- and some hours of recording and testing – nothing in comparison with the costs of normal advertising campaigns!

Tom Dickson is my homeboy

Tom Dickson is my homeboy

UPDATE:

Thanks to George Wright I am able to update this post with some further information. I have asked him about offline effort related to the online campaign, as literature strongly recommends to have a combination of both online and offline promotion. He responded that is has been primarily an online campaign with only a few exceptions when it comes to traditional marketing efforts:

  1. we included http://www.willitblend.com on our packaging of our retail products
  2. we have hosted live blending performances at trade shows and corporate events
  3. we did have a billboard that we had made that is on the side of our building… proudly showing Tom blending a rake

It may appear like little efforts, but to me these were essential steps that needed to be done. Moreover a campaign that is covered online and offline receives higher degree of credibility and potential customer may perceive it as being “in reach”.

Step one shows additional awareness creation and increases traffic to their webpage. Besides that, it connects existing customers to fans or admirers of the campaign. Happy customers can turn into brand advocates, defend the brand from negative criticism or convince sceptics with their personal experience with the brand. They encourage passion and excitement which strengthens the online campaign and spreads positive word-of-mouth.

Step two serves similar principles like step two, as individuals got the chance to be part of a live “Will it blend?” showcase, which must have generated excitement, convinced sceptics and increased the desire: I must tell this story to people I know! Seeing the performance online is already pretty impressive, now imagine the impact if all that happens right in front of you. Event if I probably would not buy one of these blenders (they are pretty costly), I would definitely tell to people that I’ve seen it happen and that all is real… Some of my friends would then pass the message to others and spread the word that they know someone who has seen it and so one… And, a few links later probably someone will then defend the “Will it blend?”  campaign online by saying: no, it’s not fake, I know someone who has seen all that happen live – it’s all true. And if it all works ideally and any of my friends who runs a bar or restaurant should require a new blender I may recommend BlendTec!

Step three is probably the least effective method for brand awareness creation. People who live close or drive by notice the billboard. Hence, awareness creation happens within a geographically restricted area. Nevertheless, the word can still be spread wider. Besides that, I see other benefits from that move. By placing a billboard on their building BlendTec’s employees may have enhanced their personal feeling of commitment and pride towards the organisation. Having happy, committed and motivated employees is a remarkable part that adds to an organisation’s competitive advantage.

The more I learnd about BlendTec’s campaing the more impressed I am from what they have achieved! A prime example of a successful viral campaign that definitely deserves to be mentioned in future viral marketing literature!

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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!