Just my look at the world. Focus on social, mobile, search and often, other things.
I had the pleasure of working with Kevin Chan, and know the team at BloomReach really well. They are a terrific fit and I wish them all the very best of success!
CEO Kevin Chan and CTO Dennis Maskevich Bring Ad Technology Expertise to Big Data Marketing Leader Download image BloomReach. (PRNewsFoto/BloomReach) MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – BloomReach, creators of the first big-data marketing applications, today announced the acqui-hiring…
My wife has an analog habit that she never wants to break. You see, she likes to get the Sunday New York Times and read it. You know, ink on paper. I suspect that the real thing is Sunday mornings are just about the only time that is remotely quiet in our house, and the newspaper makes a wonderful companion to hot french press coffee. The ritual of the Sunday paper is awesome.
And here I am – Mr. ADHD and Mr. Digital – I like it when things are flashy and blinky. I like the internet. I like the busy, I like the constant, I like the now. The newspaper, well that was printed last night, and honestly by the time it hits our doorstep, it is old news. But there is one thing that draws me to the Sunday paper, especially the NYT, and it is the ads. Print ads are wonderful. They are sensuous, even the all text ones, they are stately, they are composed. And they draw me in and capture me in a way that the digital advertisements that surround the rest of my life never do.
Perhaps it is because for the advertiser, the printed page really is a blank canvas. There are no limitations to what you can express other than maximum size and minimum legibility. In the digital world, there are limitations like text character limits, image size limits, file size limits. It seems to me, as a marketer, that print is like the luxury form of marketing.
But as a consumer, the print advertising, although wonderfully delicious to behold, is hardly relevant to me. Unlike the web, where everyone rushes to make the right impression on me at the right time, print has no idea who the f*@# I am. And to some extent, I hate that. For the magazines that I subscribe to (Inc., Fact Company) I am starting to resent the intrusion of ads that aren’t relevant to me. These publications know where I live. They know how long I have lived there. They know how I engage with them digitally. They have an enormous trove of online and offline information about me. I would suspect that only my iPhone, in-car GPS, and debit cards know more about me. So why don’t these publishers leverage what they know about me an make their advertising programmatic. As online publishers know, programmatic buying can improve yields on pageviews. Perhaps print players could keep some spots available for personalized ads. I know that I did some very sophisticated print of demand stuff for direct mail 10 years ago – could it be time for large scale print operations to move away from a 100% premium (and potentially irrelevant) ad model to a mix of premium and ads printed just for me? After all, the newspaper delivery gets the paper to my house, I invited it there. What advertiser wouldn’t to be part of that platform and provide me with relevant advertising in its most luxurious form. Ad think of the ad sales opportunities – print, digital and personal – all in one.
Could this be the thing to make print relevant? Is relevant advertising an opportunity for success?
It is Amazon 4Q earnings day. Normally this is a day of both joy and despair. The e-commerce community revels in the sheer scale of Amazon’s revenues, thinking that they can capture some fraction of that. Amazon is ongoing proof that e-commerce is a rocketship. At the same time, there is despair because at the bottom line of the earnings report, there is marvelously little left over. Profits, when there are any, are minuscule.
But Amazon, when it’s results come today, will surely show that it won the holiday. Amazon is simply killing it in e-commerce. The world’s e-commerce poster children, like Fab.com, and Wayfair, and One Kings Lane, in aggregate, do less annually than Amazon does monthly. (In 2011, Amazon did something like $4b in sales a month. Good luck catching that any time soon.)
The question remains, however, is why anybody else even tries? Amazon has nailed the logistics of e-commerce. They have nailed the essence of customer service. They have nailed the ease of payment thing. They offer added services that make it hard to want to shop other places (Prime, Video, Music).
So, why do we even try to compete?
The answer is really simple. Amazon sucks at telling stories. When you buy a suit, you want to see how you might look. When you buy a couch, you want to imagine how your room will look. When you buy a toy, you want to see the wonder in your kids eyes. In its essence, Amazon has come as close as anyone to perfecting the transaction engine. And Amazon is great for making refinements to your purchase process. You can find alternatives to what you want to buy, or options, or what have you. But Amazon is simply too big to endorse. And unless the shopper is really a buyer (namely, someone who is in the transaction zone rather than the discovery zone), Amazon is a hugely overwhelming place with no sense of context.
Amazon has everything, so they have no idea what you want.
That is why the rest of us try. That is why the rest of us can make more profit on a dollar of revenue. Because we share the human element of story and context that allows us to help you discover what you want. Shopping – the discovery part – is fun and social and engaging and somehow elemental to our societal experience. After all, here in America, we’ve built thousands of shopping malls to give us the opportunity to shop socially and collaboratively. Window displays work because they help discover. Glossy print ads create desire. Believe me, I am not bullish on the prospects for most real-world retailers, and while I am an Amazon fan, Amazon does retail a disservice because of it’s mastery of the narrow end of the funnel.
Shopping and selling are fun. There is joy in the discovery of the right sweater for you. There is little joy in deciding amongst 25 versions of a yellow sweater from 60 different sellers. Customers want to have romance, and curation, and serendipity and joy in their purchase experience. And those things don’t have to happen in a store. They can happen on your website. They can happen in your e-mails. They can happen in your display advertising.
Don’t chase Amazon at its strengths. You will never be able to do Amazon Prime. Attack it at its weakest point – the essential human activity of storytelling.
My last post on sales, Selling to the C, was by far and away the biggest success this blog has had to date. It has driven more traffic and been shared more times than any other post in the many year history of this blog, and that is quite gratifying. So I have decided to turn this into a series (and I am threatening to turn this into a book for 2013…stay tuned). So let’s imagine that you’ve done all of the things that you need to do to get the meeting with the C. You’ve provided value, you’ve created relevance, etc. Then you’ve given the presentation of your career..It was relevant, personalized and on point. But still, the C-level executive says NO. There are four basic reasons – Time, Money, Value, Competitor. Let’s dive into WHY:
The primary message here is to get feedback and be ready to respond. Create better value through knowledge (and potentially cost) and drive depth of relationship through knowledge transfer and social engagement. Saying NO is hard for C’s to do. They WANT to says yes. I have found the the C-level is always focused on opportunity and what happens next. Take advantage of that. If they aren’t ready, bide your time wisely. If they say no because of cost, create more value. If they say no because they chose someone else, then stay in place. Create value and they will says yes.