owen at owengreaves dot com

Advertising

Brands Built Without Advertising

Brands built without advertising, it sounds impossible right? I can’t imagine anyone saying you should never advertise, and when is not a good time to advertise? It’s a mystery for sure, but there are some huge brands out there that indeed did not advertise, and you know them very well. What a concept, that’s like saying, let’s give everything away and we will make money. Well, that is true also, competing with major companies by giving away core product and services is hard to walk away from, it’s even harder to compete against FREE.

But I’m not interested in talking about free, I want to talk about free from advertising, as in not advertising and still making billions. Imagine that, no advertising and creating a huge cash machine at the same time. How you ask, that’s the 64 million dollar question isn’t it? I mean, if you knew the answer, if we all knew the answer, we would have these mass fortunes ourselves. It’s not as simple as not advertising, but it’s close, it’s called Word Of Mouth, sound familiar? We practice it everyday on Social Networks.

Have you heard of Wayne Gould? He is the creator of Sudoku, the secret of Sudoku’s success was this, he offered the Times an endless supply of puzzles at no cost, there’s that FREE again. He offered the free puzzles with one request, that the times put a tiny credit on each puzzle, his website URL. Mr. Gould never purchased any advertising, it was a barter of sorts. The rest as you know it, is history.

Imagine this, you can’t just walk in a buy this car, you are selected. That’s right, no matter how much money you have or the position you hold will get you in the door. This brand has yet to purchase advertising, not one dime. Why? Because their customers are their marketing. They rely on word of mouth, special events and Social Media. The car? Ferrari.

With over 90 Billion in sales, this company has yet to purchase advertising, and you most likely are a card holder. COSTCO. Imagine gaining 66 million members that pay $55 or more for the privilege to shop, access to the COSTCO buying power is at your finger tips too.

This next one surprised me, The Body Shop. You’ve seen these stores everywhere, in every mall, and they don’t buy advertising. With no marketing department, they relied on one thing, a clearly stated purpose that the public could align their values to, not too mention word of mouth. With over 2,500 stores in over 60 markets worldwide, the business model seems to be working. I love this quote, I grabbed it off the Body Shop website:

“The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.”
-Dame Anita Roddick. Human Rights Activist. Founder of The Body Shop.

As crazy as it sounds, using FREE and Word Of Mouth can build a massive brand, maybe even an incredible way of life for you and the many being served by your business. It’s all possible, it also comes with a price tag called work, lot’s of it. In building anything there is always some level of risk, but these are examples of how a simple idea can lead to something far bigger than you ever dreamed of.

You don’t have to build a business of this magnitude, but you can build a legacy that provides a modest living. What’s your dream dynasty, what does it stand for and against?

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The Future Of Business – What Could The Hardcore Hockey Fan Tell You?

Abbotsford Heat

I know the question is odd when talking about the future of business, but I ask you to play along. Let’s see where I take you : )

If you were hired by your local hockey team (In my case, the Abbotsford Heat) to market the club in the digital realm, what might be there first question out of your mouth? No it’s not how much do I make. If the resources were in place, funding and say personnel, what would you ask?

Lets consider that all the questions are not dumb questions, no matter how obvious they might be, what would you ask?

I would most likely ask what the current cost is for customer acquisition, there is a cost with online marketing, so what is it?

Knowing that number would tell you at least two things, what they have been doing and, what they aren’t doing, that is provided you understand some simple marketing metrics and the overall understanding of what the strategy be.

You might even ask where the marketing dollars have been spent, like Google Ad Words and so on. Make a list. But there are two more important issues or questions I would be asking. Because frankly, I don’t care where the money is spent unless I know the answer to one primary question, and if I don’t get that answer, we are going to get it through some due diligence.

My first question is more about what the hardcore hockey fan wants, do the fans want free tickets to games, food or beer, or would they want dedicated, intimate free time with their favorite Player / Coach/ or even Executive?

It’s an Access over Ownership question, if we don’t know the answer, we better find out, and fast, because everything else that follows will be based on that data. I’m certain the average fan will pay the ticket price, but how much would they pay to have one-on-one time with their favorite hockey player? Maybe over a nice meal, I mean dedicated time, an intimate time to just be. What would you pay for that? A better question to ask yourself would be, would we be willing to give that access away for FREE?

You see, it’s easy to sell tickets, it’s even easier to sell club merchandise, but give the hardcore hockey fan access, and you have something really exciting.

The digital strategy will be built around what the hardcore fan really wants, and I’m willing to bet access is the secret sauce to your marketing efforts. The future of business as I have researched it, over the next 3 – 5 years will be Access over Ownership. Fill that need, and your hockey club will have a whole new set of marketing tactics to play with, a new view of the community, and a great way to Connect With Fans. Add that with a Reason To Buy, and you have a thing called revenue. (CWF + RTB = $$$$)

There are many, many more questions to ask, and this is a very low level, very loose post, but I’m flying at 50,000 feet and blue skying it.

If you knew access was the key, what other great ideas come to mind? Share them here in the comments, it would be great fun.

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Businesses Need To Grow Up!

I don’t get all in a flap very often but, while driving into Vancouver one morning I was listening to CBC Radio, I’m not sure who the host was but it was during Rick Cluff’s time slot. The interview was with the Executive Director of the Coquitlam Chamber of Commerce, the discussion was about all the construction parallel to United Blvd. How the new Port Mann Bridge and the freeway construction was hurting business on the boulevard. Now I’m not sure what prompted the host of the show to suggest this but it got me, he asked the Executive Director of the Chamber if the government was going to bail these businesses out or help them out in some way. Say WHAT!

Why is it that everyone believes the government should give people money when most of the businesses could have done something to at least minimize the damage. Hell, I’m certain these businesses in question knew for months if not years this construction was coming, that it was going to happen. The perception now is that they did nothing to prepare, they figured we’ll wait and see how it goes, and if it doesn’t go well, we will put pressure on the government to give us money. I can with all certainty tell you that the future of business will not tolerate this model, in fact, this entitlement thinking will keep our country broke and even bankrupt if allowed to continue.

I would love to know what crazy ideas came to the table behind the closed doors of these businesses, to help get through the next 12 weeks, how many ideas were shutdown and squashed due to fear. There is a huge Casino on this boulevard, the Red Robinson Theatre too. There is much that could be done to partner all these businesses with their hands out, they could work together, now there’s a concept. I’m willing to bet my lunch money The Red Robinson Theatre¬† & The Casino will do just fine, why, people will do anything, go anywhere to feed the need of entertainment and gambling. If that’s the case, then these businesses on United Boulevard should work together to strategize how to work through the next 12 weeks, the big anchors could lead the way.

As you can see, my perception of this dilemma, this was a marketing agencies wet dream, the opportunity is/was huge, but did anyone approach this group of businesses. I suspect not, to my knowledge there has been absolutely no marketing to my neighbourhood, I haven’t seen, heard a Radio or TV ad, not a Tweet about anything to entice me to shop United Boulevard. With all that is availabe to these businesses to market themselves during this construction, I have yet to find any ads in traditional media let alone digital, no crazy awesome deals to make me venture into the construction soup. Maybe I’m not looking in the right place, maybe I don’t care, or maybe they haven’t reached out to make me care.

I shared this story with a group of marketers, the look on their faces was enough for me. So is construction an excuse, is it really the root problem. Or is being prepared the real issue at hand, if you have read this blog regularly, you would know that the future of business has the upper hand. The problem isn’t construction, it isn’t the business, it is however, the owners of those businesses, how they think, and it possibly reveals a lack of foresight. I would like to give the business owners the benefit of the doubt, but, in times like this, businesses need to grow up!

I know, I’m ranting a bit, but this is a great case study don’t you think? So how could these business help themselves, what would you do if you had the opportunity to help these businesses? What crazy marketing ideas would you bring to the table? Would you let road construction be the reason the doors closed your business?

Do Ad Agencies Think You're Stupid?

I haven’t had my morning coffee yet so I’m still a bit punchie. Last night while relaxing with the Mrs., I saw a commercial on the Idiot Box that got me to wondering, do ad agencies really think we’re this stupid? They must, just look at some of the commercials being aired, and it’s not any one product or market, there is at least one or two ads that run in all product lines that make you scratch your head and wonder, who the hell they are talking to.

I won’t name the company but, you’ll figure it out quickly I’m sure. A girl is standing in the middle of the road, there are hundreds of frogs (toads) all over the road, the girl picks one up and kisses it on the beek and VOILA! The frog (toad) becomes a handsome dude on a horse, he jumps off the horse, looks at the girl, looks at the car, he runs to the car and drives off!

Now, does that ad make you want to run out buy that car? Was the commercial maybe even man bashing a little? I mean really, am I supossed to be so stupid that kind of ad is going to motivate me to buy a car? At the risk of sounding like a sexist, obviously the ad was designed for women, it smacks of all kinds under current issues in my head. This is one of many reasons why I don’t watch TV much, bad programming first and then crappy commercials that companies spend thousands of dollars if not millions, to insult people.

It disgusts me that companies think these ads are clever, hell even the financial world (Wall Street) obviously thinks the general public are the dumbest creatures on the planet! But that’s another story. These ads, most of them, don’t speak to me nor do they reflect that they are trying to solve a problem of some kind, they are trying to be Witty, Smart, Clever and maybe even subliminal. But…..the hell!

Is it me or am I that stupid? There, I’ve opened up the barn door for you to leave a rude comment or two, am I alone….hello?

I worked in Radio & Television for 15 years, I know they think your stupid, I once did too, but times have changed and you & I have the power back in our hands once again. We are the people formerly known as consumers, so ad agencies, creative departments, stop talking to us (me) like I’m stupid!

Do you think Ad Agencies think you are stupid?

Attention Bloggers & Marketers

The Internets future is of great interest to me, I study some of the worlds smartest technology people because they see things differently than the rest of us. The Futurists are an interesting lot, they even cause me to chuckle now and then, but we need them because it forces us to look outside the box. I share and talk about the possibilities technology can bring, I care very much how it impacts society and our economy’s, plus I love looking into the future.

So I ask you Bloggers & Marketer’s, have you stopped to consider what and how the new economy is going to work, what it might look like, and how it will impact how you Blog and Market? Do you know what the New Economy is? There is and will be a New Economy, it will be The Data Economy, the New Content Economy. We will connect data to data, line to line, not web-page to web-page, this economy will set the table for a revolutionary way of doing business on the Internet. Google is ensuring this will happen, everything will be mobile and on the cloud.

We are entering a time where Command & Control will become Coordinate & Cultivate, where domination is out – and Collaboration is in. Where the current economic egoism no longer works, because now we are all connected, it breeds mediocrity. Mediocrity is what we have / had under the control model. We need to build an Ecosystem, where we freely, openly share & collaborate, with the right blend of sharing rather than piracy. Collaboration is and will be required to build in this new economy.

An entirely new way of thinking comes from being connected, Trust is the Key, Trust is the new currency. This trust will be developed over time, it will make or break organizations and indivduals with large followings and high levels of influence, but this trust won’t come easy. Advertising in the connected world has to be radically different, otherwise it will keep declining. We can no longer market on the Internet by yelling. Marketing needs to hit the RESET button and figure out how to function in the new economy.

Content today is copied, you download a PDF, an MP3 and what have you, it’s a copy. The Internet is a giant copy machine, if you disconnect the copy function, you disconnect the listening function. The fight to keep control of copies is a losing battle on this network, but how do we get the money from a network that can copy everything for free? We need to sell things that can’t be copied, the conversation is the sell. We need to sell things around the content, the packaging, the experience. Money is moving from the selling of copies, to selling the experience. After all, your Brand will be judged by that experience, if it’s bad, you will be out of business sooner than later. You can see the landscape is changing, the end of control is taking shape everywhere.

Social Media is a very human driven practice, it can’t be done with a single person, it just doesn’t scale well that way. Gary Vaynerchuk has shown us how hard it is to keep up and stay on top of all that is data, he won’t be able to sustain the demand on his time and become ineffective.

It’s important to state that Social Media is not about technology, it’s about a culture change, a paradigm shift, we have to get better at believing in the impossible.

We need to think about how we Blog & Market, re-write the books on how it’s done, because what we are doing is a diminishing return. What kind of experience do people have when they come to your Blog, and what kind of emotions are engaged when they see and hear your marketing messages? The power is now in the hands of the people formerly known as consumers, how will you engage them?

You’ve heard this message before a million times, you probably preached it over and over, but the real question is, are you one of the change agents helping shape this new economy? Have you studied what’s to come, do you know and see the indicators? The New Economy views content first as a service, then an experience – and only then (maybe) a product.

I know my voice gets lost in the noise, that’s OK. I know the Internet is a big place, and a very large network that dissects, crosses over and loops back, and some how we are supposed to find what we are looking for. Companies like Google are trying to filter the content and help us all get exactly what we want. But that my friends, is whole nother story. Filtering and curation are the keys to the next phase, and eventually we’ll find ourselves dealing with smart noise.

Are you paying attention, what do you see?