the grass is greener on the internet

Selling in the trenches
August 27, 2009, 10:36 pm
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Despite the cynicism I often display on this blog about AMI’s Marketing Week, you know that I love to go to these things. I didn’t have as much time this year to go to events as I would have liked, but here’s one Gen Y’s take on the conference…

Things I learnt:

I did two sessions; one on ABC’s ‘New Media Story’ (which is not likely to make one of SBS’s six billion and counting) and a marketing perspective of the opportunities for Australian businesses in China.

Honestly? You learn just as much by talking to other conference delegates as you do from the presentations.

As soon as someone mentions the word ‘networking’ at these events there’s a temptation to pitchorditch and  you can tell when you’ve been automatically assigned to the ‘useless’ pile. It can be enough to put you off your piquant lemon curd tart.

Well, either I only met great people or by the third day nobody wanted to pitch anymore, because I had some great conversations and learnt a lot about different aspects of the industry.

I confess to some minor pitching, but only in a relevant sense.

I notice that most of the people I talked to were in professional services, and most wanted to know more about new/social media. Which is a pity, because…

The sessions:

…mostly concerned marketing in a recession. There were 2 or 3 touching on new media.

The ‘ABC new media story’ was just that – a story. Good to get an overall picture of their activities on Facebook, Twitter, their own website etc. but a little lighter on rationale and strategies. Given the existing consumer base for their products, when they provide an avenue for interaction online they don’t seem to need to do much to gain user involvement.

Disturbing but popular

Disturbing but a huge social media star, with over 67,000 friends on myspace

Fun fact: The internet is the preferred source for information and opinions, but TV still reigns for news and entertainment (although the margin is decreasing).

I hear that another session went into a few further tactics for using Twitter, but generally confusion still reigned.

The session on ‘Doing business in China’ by Viveca Chan of WE marketing had a great overview of the Chinese market and communication strategies specific to Australian companies. Very interesting ride and if you can get a copy of the presentation, do.

The conference:

I hadn’t realised that the Army Reserves were involved, which explains the cavalier invitation design. The idea that marketers are leading the charge to economic recovery like Australian soldiers in World War I makes artistic sense to me.

However my impression is that the metaphor was lost on a few, and it can be a little disconcerting to be summoned for a session with a horn call, being surrounded by cammo, sandbags and guns. Just saying.

I still get confused as to why the conference is run in the middle of the red light district, but as always the running was smooth and the service excellent, so no complaints here.

Less people than last year, I think, and more young professionals.

Would like to see…

More Tweets! The #marketingweek hashtag has been getting some amusing traffic but is also showing the lack of Tweeps around here…would have loved a real-time screen for Tweets which might encourage a few more to look into it instead of just shrugging, so maybe we’ll see it next year…


If you seek AMI
June 25, 2009, 7:57 pm
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Let’s do a little word association. Just let the first responses flow.


DM –

World War I –

If you’re anything like me** your responses might be something along the lines of; ‘do you want longer lasting SEX?’, ‘direct message on Twitter’ and ‘the last scene from Gallipoli’.

Hence my confusion that AMI sent me a DM with a World War I theme.


So I opened it:

AMI letter

What they want you to see:

The heroic charge in a last-ditch battle. The potential for miraculous recovery against the odds. The triumph of those who give it all they’ve got. The Aussie battler winning out with that true-blue digger spirit. A letter to spark intrigue.

What I see:

A letter which isn’t addressed to me. Details of events I am not historically knowledgeable enough to recognise. Amazingly good handwriting. Blah blah blah. What?

What would Ogilvy say?

Where is the call to action? What kind of direct response marketer are you? I don’t even know what this is for. Change that copy now. *sounds of a red pen scratching violently*

I can accept that they still like direct mailers. I can accept that the metaphor is, on deeper contemplation, potentially inspiring for marketers in the current economic climate.

But I just can’t accept that this is the best direct mail AMI can do. If I hadn’t known about the theme of their conference (yes, it’s for a conference) already I would have been completely confused. Not every recipient is going to be a curious uni student like me with the time and inclination to write a 500 word rant discourse on the subject.

Why did they do this to themselves??

A small indication of why they chose this medium might be found in the fact that they are sponsored by AusPOST, which has been trying to push the direct mailer revival. So much so that they’ve just introduced this new form; a piece of paper that folds in half and sticks to itself, whilst remaining easy to peel but not sticky to the touch. It’s like a post-it note, but 30 years later.

This particular sample has also been sent around to businesses as an example of the new product, as I found out from the marketing manager for an international retail chain…once I’d jogged his memory by blathering on about it for several minutes.

I am guessing that this mailer was done either heavily discounted or free. The AMI may think there’s no costs…but they just spent their credibility.

I am saddened to add that it was an AMI rep that asked me, on seeing my business card, whether I work for WordPress…

I want to like you AMI, I really do. But sometimes I have difficulties taking you seriously as a professional body and I know I’m not the only one.

**Hopefully for you this is not the case, but for argumentative purposes I request that you degrade yourself a little.

The Roundup 1#
June 23, 2009, 4:17 pm
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Sometimes there’s just too much silly stuff to write about.

The smoking grenade– wait, no, the ticking gun

Was very amused to read Mike Rann’s take on the Utegate scandal – way to demonstrate how to take down members of the opposing party *properly*. There are some occasions when ‘in a good way’ just doesn’t cut it.

I hear bets are now being taken by the conspiracy theorists – was it Costello? Could it have been Rudd?

But he must have been an excellent journo before politics (and with an argumentative tongue like that you can see why he made it in politics). There’s only sentence where the metaphor didn’t quite get there: ‘A smoking gun is much more damaging than a hand grenade that goes off while you’re still holding it.’

No, I think a grenade does a fair bit of damage if you’re holding it when it explodes…

Real time, real news?

If one does want to keep up with such scandals as they occur, one should keep a window open with Collecta (beta).

This search engine does hashtags, tweets, blog comments – pretty much anything the major search engines don’t catch. You can start and pause searches, which will keep trawling the web for the most up-to-date content containing your keywords.

Expect that this will be VERY useful for reputation management for big brands.

Expanding your domain…or shrinking it?

There’s mixed news on the domain registration front, with proposed changes to be discussed this week.

The good is that there will be character support for the non-english alphabet; hello China.

The bad, for companies at least, is the addition of registration for top-level domains. BRW suggests that the new urls will allow brands to let their country domain registrations lapse and allow smaller country-based businesses to take the url. Have they not seen how aggressively big business protects its brand names? There’s enough fuss made over trying to acquire .net versions of brand names and country domains to prevent confusion – this is just another address that they will scramble to protect.

Cook me up something new

Apparently Masterchef is making all the other stations jealous. It’s the fact that it’s a reality TV show which actually feels real, combined with an increase in home cooking and stirred with love and ads for an hour every night.

Nine and Seven are trying to prove that their milkshakes bring more of the boys to the yard… with more features on home chefs pitting themselves against ‘real’ chefs (some of the concepts resurrected from the cutting room floor). Yawn. Too many cooks. Give me something different!

A piece of history on a piece of history

Will write more on this later, but I just received, of all things, a direct mailer from the Australian Marketing Institute.

There are two things which irritate me about the AMI’s brand; that they sound like the organisation that runs the nasal therapy ads, and the fact that they seem to be absolutely resisting social media. (In their latest conference they’ve included one keynote speaker on new media strategies for a big brand… and they’re listed last.)

Ironically then, the letter has a historical theme. I will critique it in the next couple of days…

Networking in the naughties
August 17, 2008, 11:47 am
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Networking. It’s one of those horrible buzzwords that is bandied about as another miracle business solution that will change your life as you know it. But I think that increasingly it is going back to the original meaning of the word, taken from the IT world.

Now don’t get me wrong; even from my limited business experience I can see that having a wide array of business contacts is extremely powerful. Having spent some time in Singapore, where the limited space means that ‘everyone knows everyone’, I’ve seen some amazing things happen just by the strength of those contacts and nothing else.

However, business networking is becoming comparable to its computer compatriot; impersonal, and capability-oriented. Have you ever been at a networking function and felt like everyone is immediately trying to estimate your value? What are your uses? What are your specifications like? Where can they fit you within the other devices in their network?

Nowhere is this more evident than at a ‘networking speed dating’ event. Apart from just having a ridiculously clumsy title, these events mean that interactions are pared down to name and the dubious subject of ‘so, what do you do?’. Actually remembering who you met? It can come down to looking at what order the business cards are in. When the novelty of these kind of events wears off, are they really exercises in greater productivity or just of little use?

Call me Asian, but I really believe you need to build relationships and not networks, and that takes time. Not just this, but don’t just network for the sake of networking – spend more time talking to people you’re actually interested in. They’re more likely to be the people you would want to work with and the resulting partnerships will be better.

With greater and greater emphasis being placed on networking, I wonder if it will go the same way as advertising. After all, networking is a bit like direct marketing for your personal brand – and with more events, more clutter, is it just going to get far too difficult to differentiate? You might have an important business title (product quality) and a memorable business card (company brochure) but unless you can present your value proposition in a new and creative way your target market won’t remember you the moment they take their eyes off you. The ‘Death of Networking’, perhaps? After all…they’ve probably seen 300 people today.

[What got me thinking about networking is the Australian Marketing Institute’s upcoming Marketing Week (“Forget what you know.” <– I see the point, but am still a little worried by this). Apart from a good opportunity to network within the industry I’ll be hoping to pin down an AMI rep and see what they think of Marketing magazine’s criticism that the professional body isn’t giving its members the support that they need…]