Wondering Out Loud

Congress to turn down the volume on television commercials

Time to vent.

Congress is set to pass a bill that will mandate volume maximums for television commercials. The new CALM Act (Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation) has already passed the Senate and should clear the House later this week.

Like most, I’m annoyed by the increase in volume that occurs when commercials interrupt programming, but is it really necessary to pass a law to regulate it? It seems to me there are far bigger problems Congress should be addressing than a minor annoyance that can be eliminated by proper use of the remote control.

I guess you can tell I think this is a silly bill and a complete waste of time, but in reading the article in today’s Wall Street Journal Online I did get a chuckle from this quote from FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard:

“Isn’t it the most annoying thing in the whole world?” says FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard. “It drives my husband crazy—I mean he already hates TV, and he’s like, ‘Why is the TV so loud?'”

Did anyone else think immediately of the 1983 movie Valley Girl?

Thanks for listening. I feel better now.


December 1, 2010 Posted by | Marketing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traditional v. Social: It isn’t either/or

A couple of posts ago I discussed bringing traditional and social media tactics together in marketing campaigns. I was prompted to broach the subject for a few reasons. First, I’ve been marrying traditional and social to drive sales leads for a number of years all while being told – here’s the second reason – that social media and marketing do not mix. The third reason came as a result of several discussions I’ve had with local agencies and their concern that social business will take revenue away from traditional. They are looking at it as an either/or proposition. Big mistake.

As I’ve said before…social media is simply a toolbox filled with lots of wonderful gadgets that will help your customer communicate effectively with their market. As with traditional tactics, they are to be deployed as part of a strategy that is designed to meet a set of objectives. Nothing more, nothing less.

Rather than looking at traditional v. social as an either/or proposition, consider how social tactics will complement your marketing activities. Here’s a case in point.

In October of 2008, I executed a marketing campaign designed to drive leads from small and mid-sized food and beverage manufacturers. To drive registrations we used a combination of direct mail, email and telemarketing. For the event we streamed live video via ooVoo and bounced it through ustream.tv. A pretty good mix, if I do say so myself. I didn’t stop there, however. We took the social one step more by focusing the discussion on how SME food and beverage companies can maintain high standards of quality and keep their margins – not an easy task. We also discussed strategies SME’s can put in place to assure survival in the event of a product recall – an even more difficult task.

A traditional webcast would have focused on a couple of issues and then presented a demonstration showing how our software  overcomes such challenges. A traditional webcast would have attracted 15-20 prospects, ours resulted in 50 new sales leads.

Done properly, traditional + social is a marriage made in marketing heaven.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , | 1 Comment

Traditional + Social: The new media mix

On January 8th I posted an entry, A social media question worth pondering, that touched on the subject of traditional media v. social media. Rather than pitting one against the other, which others have done, I want to explore how the two can work together to achieve your marketing objectives.

A former boss of mine once said, “All advertising works.” I believed it then and I believe it now. When used properly, all advertising will do the job it’s intended to do. Too often, however, marketers get stuck in the rut of seeing every challenge as a nail and, therefore employ their favorite hammer to drive the nail home.

Case in point: a former business partner is so deeply wedded to the tactical trifecta of direct mail-telemarketing-email that they won’t consider doing anything else. Hammer and nail.

But the world has changed and most buyers ignore claims of “world-class”, “industry leading”, “best of breed”, and all the other marketing speak associated with high-priced products and services. Buyers have become more savvy and educated and, believe it or not, want to know they can trust their vendors to deliver what they say they can.

In 10 years of marketing enterprise software to the SME manufacturing space, I’ve seen buyer’s primary concern move from functional (how well does the software fit my needs) to credible (does the vendor understand my needs and my industry). The change was a natural evolution in an industry where the products – ERP for manufacturers – are perceived to have been commoditized. When all products are the same, buyers start differentiating on a different level.

This is where the marriage of traditional and social media happens. Traditional media whether print, direct mail, email, etc. is where you make the claims. Social media gives you a forum for substantiating them.

In the old days, SoftBrands claimed to have expertise in the food and beverage manufacturing space. To substantiate the claim we used customer testimonials and this webcast as proof points (I’m the cute one on the right). If you don’t want to watch both videos – and I don’t know why you wouldn’t – I’ll give you the key points.

The testimonial is pretty standard fare until the COO says the final decision was based on…”The people”. Other software packages could do the job, but the people SoftBrands brought to the table gave the customer more confidence. The webcast is a break from tradition in that we don’t talk features and functionality of the software, rather we spend the time talking about the issues SME food and beverage manufacturers face everyday. By showcasing the subject matter experts within SoftBrands viewers concluded that the products developed by people with deep industry knowledge would fit their needs. The event generated almost 50 qualified sales leads. The video was directly responsible for one new customer who, after seeing what their competitor was doing with the software, eliminated all competition from the sales cycle.

Traditional media, fact sheets, brochures, print ads, whitepapers, and so on are still important – and will continue to be so – but they can only carry you so far in today’s buying environment. More than ever, but not as much as it will be, the most important marketing tools are the voices of your people and your customers. They are the ones who prove your claims of being “world-class”, “industry leading” and “best off breed.” It’s the real people behind your products and services that your prospects need to connect with, so put them out there now and let the connecting begin.

January 15, 2010 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rupert Murdoch says “Pay up”

I tweeted about this earlier today and I think it deserves a blog post.

Rupert Murdoch – media mogul to the extreme – announced a plan to charge for all on line content. I asked in my tweet is he gutsy or nutsy. The pay for play train of web-based news has long left the station and Murdoch plans to hit the breaks and throw it in reverse. The man hasn’t gotten where he is by not taking risks, but this is going way out on a limb.

Imagine how different things would be if traditional media had embraced the Internet from the outset. They could have charged for content from the start, but their late entry – out of arrogance, ignorance, or some combination of the two – rendered paid subscriptions all but impossible. The Wall Street Journal is an obvious exception, but it is also a dramatically different publication. And so here we are with News Corppreparing to remake the model by adding a field for your credit card at the entry gate to the rest of its on line publications.

How this will play out is not known, but here are a few possibilities:

1. Ka-Boom.Murdoch’s plan blows up in his face with nobody – but family and friends – paying the bucks to see his content. It probably won’t take long for a complete failure to become apparent. When the gates go up and registrations don’t materialize he will see the folly in his plan and abandon it.

2.Cha-Ching. Murdoch becomes a multi-multi-billionaire when paying customers appear in huge numbers and, because of this success, he is able to raise the ad rates.

3. So-So. There is money coming in, but some sites are performing better than others so Murdoch offers bundles, twofers and other promotions to keep his plan alive.

4. Bandwagon. Like an airline raising and lowering rates, it doesn’t take long for the competition to follow suit. I just might happen that other news outlets join Murdoch and begin charging for their content. It would take a coordinated effort to make it fly, but think about the pressure it would put on consumers when their access to free news and information goes away.

At this early stage – without knowing what Murdoch’s model looks like – my money is on So-So. If he really wants to build a paid subscription base, Murdoch will have to go beyond the news and offer value added content that people are willing to pay for. Weekly live chats with news makers and anchors might be one that people are willing to pay for.

Whatever the outcome, Murdoch is forcing the hand of both the industry and the market and the result will likely set the model for web-based delivery of news and information for the foreseeable future.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Journalism | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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