Plans to launch Mobile Phone "Sommeliers" have been unveiled in Japan in an effort to guide customers through the complex maze of technology when choosing a new handset and plan. The effort would create a new breed of mobile phone experts who will need to pass exams to receive a license.
Japan is a fitting setting for these Sommeliers, being home to the most advanced mobile technology in the world, but this idea can also apply to brands in the US. With more choices in technology and more features, companies that can offer guides & services to help people learn and make more use of their products could achieve a higher level of loyalty and customer satisfaction.
The image above is of a new line of phones from Japan's Softbank & Samsung in a range of Pantone approved colors. Pantone has licensed its distinctive colors and brand perhaps too widely, but in doing so are creating more choice and options for personalization in a range of categories.
Domino's Pizza has created a new site that lets pizza lovers easily build their own pizzas in whatever strange combinations they'd like, such as 4 slices with mushrooms, 3 with pepperoni, and 1 with brie cheese, and have it delivered in less than 30 minutes for a flat rate of $10,99.
After selecting topics people can name their strange creation, adding it to a library of pizza permutations.
An interesting thing about this is that the Marketing is blurring with the Product. Domino's may not have been able to make such a custom pizza, but the marketing idea behind the effort and site was adopted by the company and became a real product service they could deliver on.
Penguine Books is launching a digital writing project called We Tell Stories in collaboration with Alternate Reality Game designers Six to Start. Penguin has challenged some of its top authors to create new forms of story designed specially for the internet -- blending traditional story-telling, Web 2.0-style mashups, interactive games and classic novels.
The project begins this month with six weekly installments, after which a seventh game that will tie all six together.
Each story is based on a classic novel and written by a different Penguin author, including Booker-shortlisted Mohsin Hamid, popular teen fiction author Kevin Brooks, prize-winning Naomi Alderman and bestselling thriller author Nicci French.
"The stories couldn't exist on paper. But it's not a gimmicky thing. We pushed our authors to look at how viewers and readers are going to view them, thinking about different points in the story, and about how the mechanism in the story is going to effect their writing." said Penguin's publisher Jeremy Ettinghausen.
At the end of the project is a prize...Penguin's complete library of 1,300 books.
Google's SVP of Product Management & Marketing Jonathan Rosenberg speaks practically about the things he learned at Google about being innovative. A lot of it can be applied to advertising agencies and our clients. Here's a summary of his principles...
Network Effect: The more you do something, the greater the value.
Example: Colleges are great because they have great professors...great students come because they have great professors...great professors come because they want to be around great students...great alumni network form out of great students and so more students come.
Example: Google users go where the information is, advertisers go where people are, we get more users beecause we have more advetisers because we can buy distribution because sites know we can monetize their content better and get more users.
Hiring Brilliant People A's hire B's...B's hire C's and so on. You can train A's to hire A's, but you can't train B's to hire anything but second rate B's or Cs, because they are threatened by A's and can't understand them anyway. Maintain a high bar. Three person teams work better, small workspaces, don't hire specialists.
Ideas Come from Anywhere Most companies say this but don't do it. They don't reward it. Have to be accepting and then implement a system to deliver against it. Trust people with everything. At Google everything we do is on our intranet. Product developent cycle is based on that openness.
Morph Ideas, Don't Kill Them The underlying technologies are changing fast. We have to constantly be revisiting ideas that did not work and reapplying.
Example: Blogs were originally about sharing information to reach niche communities, but now blog systems are the engine to publish information in Google Docs and Apps.
Example: Convergence used to be about one device magical device that does everything...that didn't happen. Convergence us really in the cloud not the device...all of your data needs to converge, devices will diverge. Different things happened from the expectations, but its the same idea.
Users Come First, Not Money Disinformation gets spread fast, but Truth travels faster. People ruthlessly punish companies that do the wrong thing, and richly reward companies that do the right thing. (Steve Jobs is about the user. iPod based on one button, instead of Sony with a hundred confusing buttons.)
Don't say to us "I Think"...Show Us Bring data we know to be true, not spun up. Two projectors in every meeting room. One for your idea or presentation, and one that shows actual source data. Argue everything based on data that everyone else in the room can argue against. Tell us with data what worked, not what you think will work.
Example: Sardine fishermen go out to sea, get fish, then sell them in the market. The first one back gets a good price at the market, the last fisherman has a catch that spoils and races back out to sea to the next town that he thinks might have enough demand to sell his fish there. Someone gave them cell phones to call ahead and find out which town needs nore fish. The fisherman does not want ot think, he wants to know.
Iterating Products Most talk about experimenting & iterating, few do it. Larry Page said to me: "When did the engineers do a better job of adding new features or doing it faster than what you put in your product plan brief and schedule?" Well never. Just get people working on a demo, see what users do and then iterate it form there.
Having Clear Vision How many people worked for a company that had a missions statement? Everyone. How many people remember their mission statement? No one.
Antibodies in Companies Try to Kill Big Ideas. Most people in a company under promise, and over deliver. That's wrong. Creates fear, complacency and rewards mediocre work. Google looks at it differently. You are only expected to achieve a mark of 60% on your Objectives, but your Objectives must be big. People may not achieve the big goal, but reward people who do reasonably well, instead of them under-performing in hopes of maybe over-delivering and ending up just being mediocre.
Accept a Smaller Piece of a Bigger Pie Writers Strike was basically about an increase in profits from 4 cents to 8 cents on DVD sales...they basically held up the world on the future of DVD royalties. But who even uses DVDs? Most people in this room are watching movies on their computer or on-demand. The writers were arguing a larger piece of a smaller pie that is turning into a crumb!
Feed the Winners, Starve the Losers Most companies have General Managers that worry about their own area not the greater good. Take a portal like Yahoo. Distribution is on the homepage for every group...Weather, Fiance site, Sports, Career, etc. A group doing poorly and failing to get users will want to push more to get more exposure on the homepage so they can get more traffic. This is the opposite of what you should do. If the Career site sucks, no one is visiting it, but the Finance site is doing great booming, steer people there. Feed the winners, starve the losers. Its the difference between a general manager oriented company and a functionally oriented one.
Avoid Hippos A hippo kills more people than any other animal. In business, hippos kill more products & ideas than anyone, A hippo is the highest paid person's opinion. Hippos say "I think..." Eric Schmidt when at SUN needed a Workstation PC to complete an idea he had...he took one off the dock and unpacked it...it had 8 "Read Me First" documents! He put it on the wall and it was the company's org chart. 8 hippos insisted they have their own document in it. If you can see a companies org chart in the box, don't buy it. Apple is an example of doing it right. Maniacal focus on the user.
Rewarding Innovation Most companies have profit sharing...HP gives 6.5% to 8.5%...everyone gets about the same. Instead, pay the people that deliver more. The best guys in an investment bank make more, shortstops on a baseball team gets more, etc. At Google the guy who made Google News has made us lots of money, millions of dollars, so we pay him millions of dollars. Life is not fair...I'm not as pretty so I got less dates...I can't shoot slam dunks so I don't get to play in the NBA. Reward innovation.
Lawyers and Bureaucrats A good one thinks through the implications of a problem in relationship to the business objectives. The bad ones are not flexible to what reality is.
Example: At toll roads like the Golden Gate Bridge...you queue, you burn gas, you thrown money in a bin...you used to have to do the same thing when you drive back. But a toll one direction is better and they changed it. Who is gonna drive around the bay the other way just to avoid a toll!?
Example: Software and downloads have an "I AGREE" form, filled with legal. Same with those long copyright & legal footers appended to the end of emails yous end from your company, it wastes bits. Lawyers insist on these things but they don't understand the online medium.
Example At Starbucks you don't have to wait for the transaction to complete if you pay with a credit card...they process it as if it is going to go through. This way the line moves faster, and the transaction is processed in the background, and there's an alert a few minutes later if there is a problem with the card. I mean what is someone gonna do!? Is someone gonna get their Tall Mocha Frappuccino and run out of the store with a visa card that does not work? Ridiculous!
Bad lawyers and manager create a constraint set that becomes the null set, and then they optimize around that...wrong rules, not applicable anymore.
Learning to Learn I can't articulate theories about economics from my college...but I did learn how to learn.
Cell Phone Disco is an experimental installation that visualizes EM fields emitted from mobile phones. When EM waves are detected it flashes some of the thousands of LEDs on the surface. The surface is also a canvas for an inkless marker, whereby moving the phone close to the cells leaves a light drawing behind. The installation makes something in our environment that is usually hidden from our senses, visible & interactive.
The click is dead...and the few people who do click on banner ads are not your best customers and do nothing for your brand.
So says new research by Starcom , Tacoda & ComScore, which calls into question click-through-rates as a primary source of accountability for Internet advertising aimed at brand building.
The Wrong People Are Clicking:
The study reveals that a very small group of consumers who are not representative of the total US online population is accountable for the vast majority of display ad click-through behavior:
"The study illustrates that heavy clickers represent just 6% of the online population yet account for 50% of all display ad clicks. While many online media companies use click-through rate as an ad negotiation currency, the study shows that heavy clickers are not representative of the general public. In fact, heavy clickers skew towards users between the ages of 25-44, households with an income under $40,000, spend less than non-clickers, and are more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career site.”
No Corrolation Between Clicks & Brand Metrics:
"Starcom data suggests no correlation between display ad clicks and brand metrics, and show no connection between measured attitude towards a brand and the number of times an ad for that brand was clicked. The research presentation suggests that when digital campaigns have a branding objective, optimizing for high click rates does not necessarily improve campaign performance.”
CTRs are the wrong measure for brand-building advertising and consideration/preference campaigns online.
Japanese art director Jun Tsuzuki run Synchronicity, an on-going project where people all over the world are asked to take a picture of what they are doing at a pre-determined moment in time.
The pictures, along with a brief explanation of the time and place they are taken, are displayed on the Synchronicity website as a portrait of the world at that exact moment. The project is simple but intriguing.
ChasNote points out a thought from Carat CEO Sarah Fay:
Sara likens marketing today to planting a tree — the beginning of a process that will grow and requires nurturing over time — rather than the old approach to marketing that, like a house, is finished and has begun its decay on its first day as a completed structure with dry paint.
What a marvelous metaphor. Brands and their marketing are not singular, linear, solid, complete, perfected objects. That's not how consumers experience them.
The Sample Lab, which opened last year in Tokyo's Iceberg Building in Harajuku, is a members-only space that invites consumers to sample and test new products.
Members pay an annual fee and gain entrance to the lab by showing a QR code stored on their mobile. The store has shelves filled with different kinds of merchandise and features a room to sit down to try out beauty products.
Many consumers are happy to pay to be the first to try out a new product, and to spread buzz. Moreover, creating a dedicated space for trying out new products makes it easier to collect feedback.
Could Ad Agencies create dedicated spaces like this for their stable of brands or use retail space as a dedicated on-going live consumer research tool or as an incubator of marketing ideas & new products?
The Paper Four project in Sweden has developed a prototype digital paper that uses embedded sensors to detect touch, and when you graze over a certain spot, it actually talks back to you via "printed speakers."
The device combines paper with "printed graphic codes and electronically conductive ink that is sensitive to pressure." This could become an practical mass use format for interactive outdoor advertising.