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Blog Pulse

Tap into what the blogosphere is saying about your brand / product by going to the Blog Pulse.

You can even graph the results to see what % of the total blogosphere is saying about a particular topic. Relating to my earlier blog on the BigAd — Look at this graph for what blogs are saying about Carlton Draught over the last 6 months.

Why don’t you go to Blogpulse and check out what consumers are really saying about your product / service?

Can I have it my way?

The world of Henry Fords “You can have any colour you like, as long as it’s black” is rapidly ending. Customisation and personalised products are becoming increasingly popular and the price premium seems to be reducing as the demand grows

Some examples?
Japanese stickers
The Japanese fad of getting 16 or so stickers printed out from a photo booth, is a popular way of personalising books, computers and other possessions.

Mobile phone and MP3 player accessories
Companies like Skin it have a dedicated business here where you can select a skin or even upload your own photos which they will produce as a sticker customised for your type of phone or MP3 player.

M&MBut larger companies are also realising the potential of personalisation such as M&M’s in the US now allow you to personalise messages and chose colours of M&M’s for special occasions.

The thing I love about personalisation is that it very easily translates into a talking point.
Talking points are then avenues for consumers to market products to other consumers ! You know the conversations .. “I want one of those,where did you get that?”.

What products do you produce, is there a clever way to offer some kind of personalisation that would generate a flow of buzz as excited consumers tell their friends?

Skin framing billboards!

A new company in the US called Lease your Body is building a business on leasing out it’s members to Advertisors willing to pay them to wear temporary tattoos.
SarahAdvertisors can browse the growing list of more than 2500 members and pay from $100 to $5,000 for 30 continuous days of advertising on one of six body parts (neck, forehead, forearm, upper arm, hand, stomach or lower back).

This comes after an online casino paid a woman $15,000 to have her face permanently tattooed with their URL.

Novel this is, and with the right person, in the right place, and with the right product this may make some sense. For most products and services, I think Advertisors would be better focusing on creating a story (consumer generated media) that consumers would voluntarily spread to their friends, who in turn may be inspired to try the product, and in turn tell their friends.

Shape fitting door !

In a world of increasing customisations, Tanaka have released an automatic door that goes beyond the standard door that opens when you set off a particular sensor. This door calculates the shape of the person or object approaching and using clever horizontal sliders, opens to the optimal shape to allow entry.

Cool this door is, but it also helps in keeping the ‘cool weather’ out, minimising dust, pollen and bugs while keeping the temporature constant on the inside.

Here is a link to a video of the door in operation, whilst it is in Japanese the video does make for interesting viewing.

The applications? Besides high tech manufacturing or Tokyo high class outlets, I imagine the door could make for an interesting entry to a Jazz bar (assuming you could have some of the panels black to look like a piano).

Sample this !

For years new products have tried to get our attention by using Sampling.

Last month I was given 3 tea bags at a Sydney train station neatly enclosed in an envelope advertising the new lipton tea favours. Train stations are not a bad way to sample in mass, particularly if your product is aimed at the mass market, however it was surprising how many of the tea bag envelopes were dumped in the bin before people had exited the station.

Why would this be?
I think in part, people are walking so fast that they don’t really know what they are being given until after they have already received it. In that case, non-tea drinkers would probably dump the sample anyway. That said, sampling at train stations is a game of numbers. For example, let’s say that 10,000 samples were given out. Lipton would have hoped that say 5,000 of the sample packets were read by the consumers, and that 3,000 made it to the place of work or home next to the hot water jug, and then perhaps 1,000 of those were consumed as a drink. Finally, the big test is how many of those who trialled enjoyed the experience of the trial pack so much that they went and purchased one of the new flavours from the grocery store.

As mass media becomes a more difficult medium to communicate new products to consumers, techniques like sampling will become a more integrated part of the marketing mix. But rather than treat the exercise as just an awareness campaign, I think product managers should be applying some basic rules to maximise the return on their expenditure.

1. Built in buzz
To increase the trial rates of the sample, it’s important to build in as much “buzz” as you can. Make sure the sample goes beyond “just try this” and try and create a “memorable experience” from the product involvement.

2. Pick the right audience
Not all samples are tea-bags, and depending on the sample costs you can get better value by giving samples to the target demographic. Even within a train station, product samples can be directed to the target demographic. Japan railway stations regularly hand out tissue packs complete with advertising and most are directed at either male or female depending on the advertisement on the tissue pack. If the product sample is of reasonable cost, make sure you spend time up front identifying the best people who should be given the opportunity to benefit from participation in the trial.

3. Test the Sample
Before organising 1000 samples, organise 3 different samples and get 10 made up. Test these to determine which one works best. You may need to do this a few times, but it’s guaranteed to improve your percentages!

4. Pass it on
If possible, provide an easy way for people who try the product to promote the experience to their network of friends and colleagues. A positive trial experience can be multiplied 10 times if the person who samples the product can relieve the product association by telling friends and colleagues with his or her own story. This is called “Consumer Generated Media” and can be a powerful way to expand the reach of any sampling program.

5. Collect Consumer Insight.
If you are going to the trouble of handing out your samples, make sure there is a way to collect consumer feedback from the trial. This can be done using the sample fulfillment agency by ensuring that comments and experiences are recorded. In addition, you should always provide an easy way for consumers to provide comments on what they liked or how the product could be improved either through a call centre, website or paper form.

6. Measurement of the program.
Great sampling programs have a way of tracking the trial to purchase percentages. The local bakery always samples one of their new breads on the front counter. By measuring the sales of that particular variety during the day it is sampled provides an ROI model for the sampling. Another techniques is to include a
“where did you hear about us” question on signing up for a product or service.

I would welcome any other experiences with sampling or ideas on making it work.

Purple Cows are for real!

Many of you would have heard of or even read Seth Godin’s excellent book, Purple Cow. The book articulates in an inspiring and easy to read style the challenge facing the modern marketeer .. that of trying to create something that is truely remarkable in a world where products for the masses are pretty much saturated!
As Seth says “Cows, after you’ve seen one, or two, or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though…now that would be something.” Companies need to take more risks, create something remarkable that a few people care about, and make it easy for them to tell their friends. The basic concepts in Purple cow can be summarised in these 5 points.

Sell what people are buying
Focus on the early adopters and sneezers
Make it remarkable enough for them to pay attention
Make it easy for them to spread
Let it work its own way to the mass market.

Purple Cow !So, it’s hardly surprising that the Golden Palace casino has taken Seth literally. In what could be described as guerilla marketing, the Golden Palace casino has taken to spraying cows with their logo, obviously hoping to attract the attention of passing cars and the media as part of a publicity stunt.

I guess it worked, as I am writing about it!

Advert-a-Mat !

IntelliMatAs the price for LCD and Plasma screens continues to fall, marketeers are begining to use them to communicate to consumers at or close to the point of purchase.

From a subtle “Would you like fries with that?” message at consumer facing side of the checkout, to more main stream advertorials describing functional uses for products, marketeers are using them as new ways to communicate to consumers.
Now, thanks to the Egg Factory, they are being used as floor mats !

Here’s how they describe it …

IntelliMat is the next step in floor advertising and messaging. It involves using an electronic display, with image quality similar to that of a flat screen monitor, in combination with a floor mat to display a dynamic message to individuals walking over and/or using the mat. The mat is portable and is capable of being placed throughout stores, professional buildings, and large public areas. In addition, the mat can be updated and changed, via the Internet, from a remote location.

The IntelliMat™ has the potential to be a powerful marketing tool and has the capabilities to provide numerous functions. In addition to displaying floor advertising, the electronic display housed within the floor mat can be used to give directions or instructions, as well as provide a unique aesthetic. Further, IntelliMat has the potential to be interactive with the consumer.

Not sure that I can dance on my toes fast enough to interact with a floor mat, but it certainly makes for an interesting new way to intergrate a communication message close to the point of purchase!

If you are going to think Big, do it right !

In contrast to my recent post about the small Blowfly brewery, Carlton United Breweries (Fosters) have created a big advertisement that is continuing it’s current theme of recognizing that consumers are wise to the same old ads.

Whilst this ad would have cost a packet, it did get many things right.
Firstly, it plays to an educated audience that recognises that beer is beer. Secondly, the ad is entertaining and draws on inner male passions by combining the themes of a ‘Brave Heart meets Lord of the Rings’ style cinematography that will appeal to most of the Australian beer drinker audience.

Whilst the ad will no doubt be shown on television, Fosters have created a specific ‘Big Ad’ website for the ad to assist with it’s obvious viral charm.

So the message here is this, If you are going to spend big money on advertising, make sure that your message can be heard above the constant marketing flow of demands for attention!

Boutique Branding

As our supermarket shelves become more and more full of home brands (generics), the desire to be different or unique is creating a whole new trend in boutique branding.
Blowfly Brew
Boutique and Brands is almost an oxymoron because once the lifecycle of a product gets to a stage where the product is mainstream, the brand is no longer boutique.
Small to medium sized businesses with boutique rands often utilise viral or buzz marketing and execute them with far more success than big corporations.

So how can you create a boutique brand in today’s world?
One way is the ask your target audience to get involved with your product before you start, and that’s exactly what the Blowfly beer company did in a process they call “Open source beer making”. They collaborated with the online community to design and create a new beer. Here’s how they describe it …

We’re the lunatics from Brewtopia. Backed by one of the best up and coming breweries in the Australia, in 2002 we created a beer built on a concept we called Viral Equity – thousands of people across 20 countries helping us make a brand new beer over the internet. Crazy? Yes. Doomed to fail? Yes. But it didn’t….

With only the use of word of mouth marketing, they had developed a unique brand and following before they had even made their first bottle of beer.
The beauty of this company is that they created an audience during the whole product evolution process. They will even customise the label If you would like to here more about their story listen to The Gadget Show #19 where their CEO Liam Mulhall is interviewed.

I wish them every success!

So what are the key elements for building a Boutique brand? I can list a few, and would welcome any additional suggestions.
1. Involving your consumers in the product
2. Creating a reason for them to spread the message about your product
3. Offering some form of product distinction / uniqueness to your product

On Pack .. the untapped communication medium

As the rise and rise of Generic brands begin to dominate our grocery isles, it is any wonder Branded manufacturers are wondering what they can do to convince their consumers of the additional value in branded products. Whilst key product positioning within the supermarket shelves is a success factor in consumer propensity to purchase, consumers are becoming smarter and want to know the value of a brand before paying a premium to the generic.

I think many are failing to effectively utilise the one piece of real estate that they have the most control over. Product packaging can be used to effectively communicate to consumers, but too often is it only used for “Best ever”, “Now with the next best thing ingredient” or even “Look, we are now worth paying that bit extra for!”

Here are some new and emerging trends
1. Unique code identifiers.
Products can now be manufactured with a unique product id so that every individual product sku has it’s own identifier. This can be used for promotions that link the opportunity to enter with actual purchase. Usually on the inside of the label, the unique id can then be keyed into a website enabling additional brand communication. Alternatively the unique id can be sms’d to a special number.

2. Product usage tips
Many products can take advantage of the packaging to educate consumers in product usage. Recipes, Training tips are good examples. What you can’t fit into a the package can be used to provide a short explanation and a link to a website for a longer description.
Often individual usage tips could be placed on different varieties enabling greater education across the product range.

3. Functional Claims
Too often brands have lost the ability to communicate the basic USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of their product and the package is an all important way to do this.
99% Fat Free, Low GI, Omega 3, Gluten free and other functional claims have gained popularity recently. I think as consumers seek out products with certain claims, manufacturers could do a lot to enhance their products by helping consumers identify products within a certain function.

4. Augmented Reality Marketing
Augmented RealityNow for something on the new frontiers .. and that is the idea that you could embed special descriptions onto a package that when an camera is placed over the descriptor, a 3D image of the brand or claim stands out from the package .. think of the Princess Leia recorded message being displayed from R2D2. Augmented Reality overlays information within an environment to enhance a person or group’s capabilities to act in an environment. Data, text, images, sound & video. I had an opportunity to view an Augmented Reality demo at a conference recently. Certainly gives you perhaps the final reason to upgrade your phone to one that has an on board camera.