Wednesday, July 2, 2014


All future musing on brand, marketing to men, innovative consumer engagement can be found on STICKY VINYL PRODUCTIONS

Friday, February 19, 2010

Build a Hotel, not a HOME

Websites have been an incredible addition, and now essential part of any marketers’ handy tool belt. How exciting – a place your brand can call home. A place that people can come visit anytime of the day or day to find out about you, interact with you or just hang out with you. Its an interesting dichotomy – its your home, yet its very existence is for everyone else.

A Home is all about you. Its an extension of you and your family; your style, your approach to living. You can feel the Home bias in most brand websites. They tend to be a mix of often over-stylised facts and a huge dose of self-indulgence. They’re about as inviting for visitors to sit down and engage with as the lengthy A4, colour photocopied newsletters from close family friends that my parents receive every year at Christmas. Boring my gracious and non-judgemental parents to submission with tales of their fabulous lives My parents reach for a Panadol and glass of wine the moment that familiar handwriting arrives in the letterbox. News of the latest marriage or engagement taunt them, with only one out of the four of us having walked down the aisle, despite us all being in our late 30’s and early 40’s. Stories of fabulous holidays abroad, camping trips with the grandchildren, senior citizen surfing lessons and awards won are all highly interesting and noteworthy but collectively come across a little self-indulgent and patronising. No-one else finds your life as interesting as you do. Same with brands. We live and breathe them. They are the centre of our existence. But they are just a miniscule dot in the lives of our customers.

The answer is to change perspective around the role of your website. Its not a Home – its a hotel! Its very existence is to get visitors in, make sure they love they time with you, come back again and speak highly of you to others. A magical place that transports you beyond the ordinariness of everyday life. Who wouldn’t want that? I recently visited just such a place - The Hudson Hotel in New York. From the moment of arrival, I never wanted to leave. And have been talking about it ever since. Your website can have the same impact if you create every function and touch-point from the visitors’ perspective

First impact, first impressions count. When I first pulled up to the entrance of The Hudson, it was so hip and unlike any other hotel, I actually thought the cab driver had taken me to the wrong place. Maybe an exclusive bar or restaurant of the same name? But it was 11.45pm and I’d been travelling for 27 hours, so I figured that I may as well have my first NY cocktail before heading off in search of my bed. Going up the tiny escalator lined with Perspex walls felt like entering an exclusive world where only the cool and hip can pass. Within moments I was standing in a cavernous hall – the reception area. My first thought is “wow, this is my hotel!” Second thought “How cool is this place!” First impressions have an amazing impact on people. First impressions are based solely on what the eye can see. In the reception area, you can’t see the rooms, but you know they’re going to be heaven. Behind the room length counter is a massive arched window that lets you see out into a woodland terrace bar. Turn around and over the escalators are windows into another bar – where Perspex Kartell stools mix with burlesque velvet lounges. I want tO move in there!

For brand websites, this is a critical point. First impressions are made on everything the eye can see – and that means above the fold (the section of the website that appears on your screen – get the average dimensions). People are highly unlikely to go down the page (or anywhere else on the site) if that first impression didn’t make an impact or draw people in. One big logo or a large lifestyle image may look stunning to you, but remember, you’re looking to make that first impact with what would draw your visitors in, not what would you love to see. The space above the fold is not large, so keep that in mind when you’re working out how much space to dedicate to your logo and the navigation bar. You’ll notice the concierge desk is in full view, but usually tucked to one side. Good navigation is important, but its a means to provide a good user experience, its not going to get visitors excited about you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Re-thinking the banner ad

There is something really alluring and magnetising about a doorway. Who wasn’t on the edge of their seat as Lucy discovers the doorway at the back of a wardrobe that ends up transporting her and her siblings to a magical world called Narnia, where animals can talk and all are ruled over by the wise and benevolent lion Aslan. They had the experience of their lives. Now I’m not suggesting that every brand needs to create such an extravaganza BUT I am advocating that brands utilise the magical, uniqueness of the internet and stop thinking of the ad spots as banners or skyscrapers – instead think of them as Doorway to a really extraordinary brand experience. And only online advertising can do this for you. Not a single other advertising medium can physically transport the audience anywhere.

The rationale is simple

Online advertising, with its pop-ups, banners, video pre-rolls and skyscrapers, is not a comparable replacement for traditional brand advertising, whether its 30sec TV spot, half page newspaper ad, or radio promotion. The online ad space is too small and inadequately shaped. On top of that, extensive industry eye tracking and heat map studies consistently confirm (over and over again) that banner blindness is real. Internet users almost never look at something that looks like an advertisement, whether or not its actually an ad. The one big hope media owners are riding on is the uptake of online video ads, either as disruptions or as pre-roll to other non-advertising video content. This hope based on online video viewing and streaming growth rates that are similar to growth rates of eBay in its early years. But lets face it. An online video screen is usually anywhere between 5mm and 15mm wide. Hardly a worthy replacement for the seeing the same ad on a high resolution, 28 or 32 inch TV screen.

Yet marketers and agencies continue to re-purpose traditional brand ads for the web display ads or video ads and then wonder why they a) get no uptake on brain equity scoring when just using online without other mediums and b) the average click through (to nothing particularly extraordinary) is extraordinarily low at 1% (and an even lower 0.15% on social networking sites).

It’s just very hard to get those small, awkward online ad spots to be a strong, stand-alone vehicle for brand messages or brand building.

There are three primary functions that people use the internet for: entertainment, information and help/guidance/transaction. People WANT to go places on the internet. They move around all the time. Use that. Don’t’ make the online ad the destination, but it the doorway into something extraordinary. Something that captures their attention or imagination (ideally leveraging one of the three primary functions that users are there for in the first place: entertainment, information, help) and persuades them to COME INSIDE. The internet is the only fully participative, discovery-based mass media that exists to date. Use this to your advantage. The more you can get people into your world, the better chance you have of connecting them to you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Technology gets personal!

It's interesting the way that the perception of technology has radically shifted. Until a few years ago, technology was the driving force behind life simplification, resource optimisation and gadgetry. We all fell in love with technology - it saved us having to queue in banks, saved us money on travel and saved us from infinite boredom with newfound access to limitless entertainment and information at our fingertips. Then, almost without us realising it, technology got a whole lot more personal and we're falling in love with it all over again. Helped along by the overwhelming influence of the rapidly evolving Generation ME, a generation that takes it for granted that the self comes first.

Living in a technology dominated world, with social lives played out in public on the internet, some could say that Generation Me has been perpetuated by social networking and digital dialogue. It certainly is a major driver, but a challenging one for brands to master on mass scale , when Attention is the economic currency and demand far outstrips supply 10,000 to 1.

Once lambasted for its de-humanising qualities, technology has almost single-handedly fostered a mass culture of electronic communications and hyper-connectedness. Yet it's the technological developments that put the individual more and more at the control panel for their lives that we're really besotted with. The difference is that instead of trying to become part of the complex set of digital conversations, these technological initiatives draw attention and are conversation starters in their own right. Lot better odds - and it doesn't have to be complex - just centred around Me.

Take Grazia's Spring/Summer 09/10 FashionWeek photowall ( Using silverlight technology, I have one view (high resolution), instantaneous access (no more than moments for upfront downloading time) to every one of the 780 outfits featured across every collection. You may say this isn't terribly Me focused? It is when I can choose to go in so close as to actually see the brandname on the side of a pair of sunglasses or the left ankle tatoo on one particular catwalk model. This is my magnifying glass to the fashion industry and I can engage as deep or as little as I like. Everything totally within my control.

XBox plays straight into the hearts and minds of Generation Me with it's soon to be released Project Natal motion controller in the XBox 360. What makes Project Natal so cool is you become the controls; an in-built camera tracks your full body movement in 3-D, while responding to commands, directions and even a shift of emotion in your voice. You can move through menus by swiping your hands back and forth. There's facial and voice recognition that will automatically recognise and remember you. Xbox has realised that I am never more interested than when everything revolves around Me.

One of the strongest symbols of Generation Me has to be the mobile phone. Life totally revolves around Me and My mobile phone. I want to know who's calling before I decide to answer, I need to be contactable (online or onphone) at anytime of the day or night and I must be able to manage my life (social and otherwise) wherever I am, at any particular moment. The basic functionality of the online mobile phone is only just starting to gear up for the Me Generation. We are already starting to see a proliferation of Me-focused apps that make the world around us, more Me-Centric. One notable example is mobile phone music recognition Apps. Love the song you're hearing in the Bar at 11pm. Need to have it now. Just point your mobile towards the speaker .... it records a segment, then tells you the name of the song and artist and gives you a link so you can download it to your mobile....immediately.

Mass marketers are just touching the tip of the iceberg of getting intune with the Me Generation; a generation that loves brands, widgets and marketing - despite all their protestations. Marketers (and agencies) are potentially becoming too single-mindedly focused on working out how to ride the wave of social networking and UGC. It must be noted that the only point of connectivity and digital dialogue for a brand, is if it shifts your bottom line. brand perception or market share. So get inside the heads of the Me Generation (and lets face it, they're anyone from 15-35yrs). Cut to the chase with these guys. Create products, technology and comms that are the antithesis of marketing. Me Gen are open to marketing, as long as it's real and comes from a place of genuine understanding of who they are and what turns them on. The key into this lucrative generation is to be totally and utterly Me-focused. It should feel like the generation themselves actually came up with the idea or the style. And technology, in whatever form, is one vehicle that they absolutely love and want to participate with.

There's never been a better time to get personal!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MATCH made

Making a connection with someone and then getting them to buy me a drink, let alone get a date is clearly no small feat, given my current single state. Can't just sit around the house and do nothing. Time to formulate a plan. Fortuitiously, I've also been mulling over a parrallel dilemna of brands coping to make connections in an increasingly complex, digitalised and fractured world... so I get to knock off two birds with one stone with this investigation.

Firstly, I need to optimise the laws of probability and go where the most lads are hanging out. It's a game of odds as there are a LOT of other single girls after a limited number of single lads. Not just any location, but one where I can actually connect or interact with potential prospects - looking from afar may get me motivated but certainly isn't going to get me a date. Brands have historically managed their matchmaking from afar, advertising on the catwalk of life, but rarely getting up close enough to be able to anything other than create Desire and Want. Great attributes but you can't cuddle them at night. Hanging out at an interactively engaged, highest traffic location is just plain common sense - fast tracking the entire matchmaking process and ultimately a lot more cost effective (than say Speed dating, singles cooking classes or Business Round Table (that helpful suggestion came from my Father)

Digital portals are the new black in media-led matchmaking - where audiences are aggregated en masse around an interactive experience and brands can reach out and touch prospects... not in a seedy way, of course.

But interactive and volume environment alone does not make matchmaking heaven. Volume connections can be made, but it takes alot of trial and error to get to the value connection. Certainly if my dabbling in online dating is anything to go by. One date involved a chap who's photo was hot, credentials impeccable and personality perfect... but reality told a different story. He lied about his entrepreneurial background, was a emergency exit light-bulb changer and one step away from penitentiary life. It's an odds game that takes a lot of patience. Brands, you go forth equally blindfolded when you let any part of your media mix be just a numbers game. Relevancy adds huge value and focus to a campaign- offline and online.

Strong relevancy connections are made in an enivronment where interests, profile or levels of engagement are most likely to correlate with yours. Now I'm no spring chicken (as pointed out by our Commercial Director the other day in a meeting), so every encounter counts (much like every ad dollar spent). The closer the alignment to me and my interests, then the higher propensity for engaging in decent conversation and maybe even the start of a little lovin'. It's basic rules of engagement.

Now having established the best volume, interactively engaged and relevancy environment. ... then it's time for the creative to do its magic . Or in my case, by putting myself in the right environment for finding love (well a date will suffice) and I've optimised the odds. Then it's up to me to Attract, turn that into potential Interest, hopefully ignite some Desire and then Activate the right chap into action. Successful matchmaking is a magical mix of both premium environment (that ticks all the boxes) and cut-through creative. One without the other doesn't do it

It's not exactly Beatles lyrics, but it works. Will keep you posted to prove it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Audience haze; offline meets online

Every marketer worth his/her salt, knows that they need a really robust behavioural and attitudinal audience segmentation to provide insight and directional influence for product development, content and marketing efforts. But with the rise and rise of digital as a credible medium in the marketing mix - a major audience haze is starting to settle over us.

What is this haze you ask? There's been not a word of it in any of the marketing press or forums. Noticed or not, it will soon become the next big topic (my first 2009 prediction) of brands, media companies and agencies alike.

Digital mdia companies are becoming increasingly competent at segmenting their audience around internet and site usage/attitude and behaviours. With worldclass tools such as Atlas and Omniture at their disposal, they'd be crazy not to be! In tandem, brands have been extremely savvy at audience insight at segmentation for years. Bringing these two audience segmentations together, are generalised linkings of consumers' offline behaviour and attitudes to their online activities. But no online media company has yet managed to articular a tight and accurate link that cross-correlates specific consumer segments offline with specific site behavioural or lifestyle segments online. Notice how everyone's talking about their own audience? And somehow loosely link it to the brands - usually by the omnipresent Demographics.

This is the audience haze - a murky no-man's land. In order to rise above this haze and gain mainstream credibility alongside TV and print, the main digital media companies need to be the star marketers. Reverse the way they do their segmentations: Lead with their advertisers' audiences and then link them into their own. Once this starts, digital can genuinely start meaning more than just clicks and CPM's. It will sit proudly along side other mediums as brand platforms and builders.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Been Busy

Sorry been so quiet - will return soon