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Archive for October, 2011

Here’s a question that’s been nagging me for a while:

Is it high-risk behavior to routinely use social media to let the world know where you are?

Consider this quick case study, then tell me if it makes you think twice about tweeting, posting and checking in your whereabouts. If it doesn’t, I’d like to know why.

4:27 p.m.     Prospective criminal — let’s call him PC (in this case, it’s me) — logs in to HootSuite.

4:28 p.m.     PC spots the following tweet from a male avatar — let’s call him IY:  “I’m at Sunrise Inn (street address, city name).” The tweet includes a foursquare URL. HootSuite shows that IY published the tweet 27 minutes ago.

4:29 p.m.     PC studies IY’s Twitter profile and notes that IY lives in a U.S. city and describes himself as a consultant and best-selling author.

4:30 p.m.     Sensing an opportunity, PC checks the online White Pages. He finds addresses for two individuals by the same name, IY, one of which has the middle initial F.

4:32 p.m.     PC checks LinkedIn and finds one profile for a man named IY. No middle initial indicated.

4:33 p.m.     PC scrolls the LinkedIn profile and finds that IY is president of his own company. The company name is a three-letter acronym: IFY, Inc. PC is fairly certain that it’s IFY who is visiting the Sunrise Inn.

4:35 p.m.     PC returns to the online White Pages to pinpoint IFY’s street address.

4:37 p.m.     PC checks MapQuest to discover that, assuming IFY is still at the Sunrise Inn, he’s more than 55 miles, or a little more than an hour, from home. Even if IFY left the Sunrise Inn just prior to tweeting, he’s very likely 30 minutes or more from home.

As a member of IFY’s online community, what can I do with the news that he’s at a hotel (or a movie theater, or a restaurant) in a certain city at a certain time? Not much. This sort of social media update is of little information, conversation or entertainment value.

But what if I really am a prospective criminal, and I’ve got burglary, vandalism or another form of mayhem in mind? Maybe this sort of tweet is my opportunity to act. To strike.

I’m probably a fuddy duddy when it comes to “here’s where I am, here’s what I’m doing” information sharing. But it seems to me that if we want to keep our loved ones and homes safe and secure, we’re OK sharing who we are, what we think, what we know, etc. But where we are? That’s information best left unpublished.

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What do you think? See any cause for concern in the IFY behavior described above? I’m eager to be educated if I’m missing the point on “here’s where I am, here’s what I’m doing” social media updates. Please enlighten me with comments below.

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Takeda's Dr. Gout

He plays a doctor on TV.

Imagine you’re chief marketing officer for a global pharmaceutical company. To reach potential customers in the United States, you decide to spend significant amounts of your budget on prime-time TV ads during the Major League Baseball playoffs.

You create a 30-second spot, featuring a serious-looking male doctor in wire-rim glasses and a white lab coat. Strangely enough, the good doctor (who also narrates your ad) never once mentions your brand or product. Only at the very end, for a second or two, does your company’s name appear in a subtle line of superimposed type: “Presented by (company name).”

You call this brand advertising?


Beyond Branding. Inviting Engagement.

Perhaps not. At least not in the traditional sense.

But that’s OK. Because you could call it branded content.

The scenario described above is not fictitious. It’s an actual ad from Japanese drug firm Takeda Pharmaceuticals. A campaign that chooses to be less about conventional branding and more about inviting engagement. Takeda uses a fairly traditional (and not inexpensive) marketing channel not to push a product brand name or to hype trial, but instead to focus primarily on consumer education.

Specifically, their ad promises that by visiting www.goutinfo.com, consumers will find information on how to better understand, manage and consult with their doctors about gout, a painful condition caused by excessive amounts of uric acid.

Sure enough, visitors to the microsite get just that. In addition to the TV ad itself, the site features a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand collection of educational content, starting with the site’s main header: “Important Information to Help You Manage Your Gout.” Site copy speaks in straightforward language about gout, excess uric acid, and the potential harmful effects of both. It offers tips on managing gout, both its occasional flare-ups and chronic challenges. Management strategies highlighted include not only drug treatments, but lifestyle and diet tips, as well.

Takeda's goutinfo.com microsite, which includes 30-second TV ad plus plenty of content.

Consumers can print a “conversation card” to help make their next meeting with a doctor more productive. At a few points in the microsite — where you can “Sign up to stay informed,” and “learn more” about treatments for long-term gout management — visitors are invited to www.goutsmart.com, where a drug named Uloric is first introduced into the experience.  


Marketing Content: It’s Not an Oxymoron

I don’t pretend to fully understand the dark arts of pharmaceutical advertising (e.g.,”See our add in Golf Digest”?). I also don’t have metrics to know whether Takeda’s gout campaign is generating big results, in terms of Uloric awareness and prescriptions.

But as an interested observer, I applaud the example Takeda is setting here. The focus on informing vs. pure promotion. Especially because on the night I noticed Takeda’s ad, I saw another which prominently showcased a drug company’s name and logo, and repeated (no, belabored) their product name no fewer than 10 times.

Sometimes people who believe passionately in content marketing all but reject other, more traditional tactics — direct mail, telemarketing, print and TV advertising. Others — me among them — believe that often it’s the integration of traditional tactics and content strategy that makes for the most successful marketing.

As Takeda demonstrates, just because you’re running a TV ad — even in prime time — it’s not mandatory that you focus solely on your brand or product. You can advertise a value-adding experience. Promote a content asset. Blend traditional and content marketing in smart and effective ways.

In other words, you can turn content marketing inside out. Or, more accurately, dare to stray from traditional marketing by approaching content marketing in reverse.

You can dare to try marketing content.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Takeda is the first drug company to focus on consumer education with its marketing. But see if you agree the TV spot and microsite are remarkably soft-sell and content-centric. Meanwhile, what about you and your company? Would you dare run such a content-focused ad in prime time? Would your leadership approve? Maybe you think what Takeda is doing is a mistake, a missed opportunity. Comments and discussion, as always, encouraged and appreciated.

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Factor in both works and words, and no executive in U.S. history lived as notable and quotable a career as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who died this week at age 56.

As well-earned tributes flow, along with “best of” articles on Jobs’ contributions to computing, connectivity, media and management, what might content marketers infer from 10 of Jobs’ most quoted observations on business, innovation and life?

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
Even the most prolific and accomplished content marketers will make mistakes now and then. Typos and bad line breaks creep into blog posts. Links are occasionally broken. That e-book we thought would light up the landing page proves woefully short on wattage.

Harvesting marketing inspiration from the words of Steve Jobs

We sweat the details and fret the mistakes — or at least we should. But ideally it’s the commitment to envision, then publish, that next added-value content asset, and then the next one, that overrides the occasional glitch in the minds of our communities. 

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
If content marketing were a race, tortoises would have the edge. Focus and consistency over time. Being multi-channel and integrated vs. going for the one blockbuster downloadable asset. More about regular blogging than writing a best seller. Continuously measuring, rethinking, improving.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Listening is valuable and important. It should be part of content strategy. But the big wins and wows tend to come when marketers say: “We know this category. We understand these people, their businesses, their dreams and pain points. There’s an opportunity to change the game here. To create something they’ll find uniquely valuable.” That asset, that idea, doesn’t necessarily appear fully formed in customer surveys or sentiment analyses. More often is shows up while you’re singing in the shower, or riding the bus home from work.

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have… It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
Except in rare cases, there won’t be the money, staff or time to plan and execute exactly what we’d draw up on the white board. So you look at your budget, and all those tactics you’ve been investing in for years, and ask yourself: Can we start by shifting 20, 25 even 30 percent of our budget from what has been to what could be? If we always do what we’ve always done will we always get what we’ve always gotten? And then you identify a core team of passionistas — internal stakeholders or external partners — and start talking strategy, personas, channels and KPIs.  

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
And don’t waste time repurposing someone else’s content. Guest bloggers are great. Curating to help your audience stay abreast and make sense of relevant news and information is smart. But too many would-be content marketers assume the quick and cheap path is to slap their logo on a collection of previously published work, or rely on a content farm churning out articles for a nameless, faceless reader.

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”
Sometimes it’s the tweet you dare not to send, or the “viral” video you choose not to post, that sustains the integrity of your content strategy. Or that skimpy blog post you elect to hold for further development, even though it’s Friday and the planning calendar says it’s time to keep cadence. If you’ve thought hard about your brand’s personality and value proposition, and have a clear vision for the audience personas that matter most to your business, way more often than not you’ll make the right call.

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
When it’s all said and done, do you want to have bested the direct mail control by half a percentage point? Found a clever way to put one over on those search-engine swifties over at Google? Or do you want to have attracted and engaged a business-critical audience — prospects, customers, employees, dealers, you choose — in ways no brand has dared try, much less accomplished?

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”
Imagine if every B-to-B marketer went to work looking to put a ding in their industry, never mind the universe. Can’t do it, you say? Easy for Steve Jobs, selling those cool consumer technologies. My product’s a commodity. I’ve got no say in R&D. There’s not enough budget. And besides, customers only care about price. Tell it to Rick Short. He’s making a ding over at Indium. His product? Something that operates deep and unappreciated inside all those devices Jobs and Apple are renowned for: Solder.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently…”
Paul Gillin dares to declare that big ideas don’t have ROI, and he’s probably pretty much right. Sadly, most big content strategies don’t come gift wrapped in a spreadsheet of predictable lead volumes and revenue numbers. But what you know in your head, and your gut, tells you there’s this opportunity to do something special. And you know you can measure, course correct and evolve as you go. Planned smartly, executed well, it stands to reason ROI will come. But to get there, you might have to challenge yourself, your boss, your team, your clients, to see things differently.

Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”
Likewise, if you keep putting relevant, value-adding content out in the market. Via your online channels, within social media, through your sales force, in your advertising and direct marketing. Exposed to great content consistently, over time, customers and potential customers will open their minds, hearts, browsers and office doors. Invite them to do that, and their wallets will open, too.

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From an early Mac Plus owner, a movie buff and a content marketer, thanks, Steve Jobs, and the employees of Apple and Pixar, for your leadership, products and ideas.

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What about you? As a marketer, as a business person, what inspiration do you take from the works and words of Steve Jobs? Comments welcome.

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