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 wrap
August 28, 2008, 11:47 pm
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Another one of those ridiculously long days, which of course included a Marketing Week seminar promising to change my view of marketing forever.

The big revelations?

1. Many stats are misinterpreted because we don’t study consumer behaviour phenomena in a scientific manner.

[Actually this is a bit of a pet annoyance of mine…misinterpretation of stats. You can’t just observe effects, you need to look at causes! Not to mention the ‘Black Swan’ phenomena.] He looked at the double jeopardy phenomena in marketing as well as the stories behind survey answers (a customer might be 100% loyal just because they don’t buy much!).

2. Consumers don’t care about brands as much as branders do. (Aww.) In fact, they don’t really care about brands at all if push comes to shove. Loving the phrases ‘cognitive misers’ and ‘polygamous loyalty’.

Not quite related, but this quote was quite good: ‘Science progresses one retirement at a time.’

I’m not a diehard Kotler fan but the speaker Malcolm Wright had a lot of fun trying to challenge Kotler. It was very ‘forget what you know’. I wasn’t entirely convinced, because if analysing consumer behaviour was that easy to quantify and predict reliably, the world would be a VERY different place. The verdict? It won’t turn you world upside down, but it might be worth knowing about.

That wraps up my attendance at Marketing Week. Some very insightful moments and smooth running overall. Was a little confused by the maze of sponsored stalls on the way in and thought that a little more direction could have been given in general (though at least if you got lost on your way in, there was a stall with donuts and coffee in the middle). Also not entirely sure why Marketing Week is held here or why a venue was chosen that is in the [kinda ex] red light stretch…but it’s been fun.

[Further to my networking post, I did not in fact manage to catch any AMI reps – sorry.]

No response from B&T, but at last check the RSS feed is back up! Don’t care if I had anything to do anything, but thank you!

Prosumers and churnalism

I have two new words for the day:: prosumer and churnalism.

The first came from the AMI Marketing Week seminar I was at today, given by John Gamvros of OMD Fuse on the role of brands in consumer’s lives. He focussed mostly on leveraging new technologies and what implications they would have on brand-building. With more opportunities for consumers to create their own content and interact with brands, we’re morphing into a society of prosumers (producers and consumers). Key lesson:: be prepared to let go of some control, and if you’ve done your homework right you’ll have much better brand engagement.

He also showed us the video below, which paints a scary picture for the future and brought out the term ‘prosumer’ about a year ago.

I really hadn’t been thinking of social marketing interactions like that, so ‘prosumer’ may be cropping up in my posts from now on.

The second term was aired quite vehemently on the 7.30 Report tonight (and I don’t think any other channel would have dared to air the story). Ah, churnalism just describes itself so accurately. And sadly, it’s true that a lot of news stories feel like they’ve come straight from a PR department or someone elses news feed. Supposedly the phenomena comes from– well, bluntly, overworking of journalists. It’s entirely possible that this would lead to journos not having enough time and lowering their standards, bringing the standard down in general. However, I think it’s also a matter of society in general not having the time or bothering to check more than one news source, and not bringing them into line.

I’m definitely no expert in this area, so I’ll probably read up it’s origin in ‘Flat Earth News’ by Nick Davies before I start using it prolifically, after all a Guardian veteran should have a fair idea. Right?

B&T, or anybody who happens to be listening right now:: I used to be an avid follower of B&T’s news service, bringing me the latest of Australia’s advertising news…but no more!

Why? Their RSS feed isn’t working.

…and it hasn’t been for weeks now. Please B&T, fix your RSS feed, or update the link which is on your homepage. I feel like you’re not communicating with me and I don’t want it to get in the way of our relationship. 😉

It will be my experiment in social media, which just so happens to be useful. (As all effective social media should be!) Indulge me a little and post to your own blogs. Let’s see how long this takes, or if it happens at all!

Professional failure
August 26, 2008, 11:31 pm
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Start with an obscure thought…


Ah, yes, Phil Morton knows how to make a speech. His talk at the AMI Marketing Week Awards Lunch not only had what was potentially the best powerpoint I’ve seen all year, but was also a thinking kickstarter on how to go about applying for jobs in the marketing industry. (It basically comes down to doing your research and having the networks; preparation meeting opportunity.)

He made a huge point about how you sell yourself as a brand (something I’d been thinking a lot about lately, but I’ll post on that soon) and of course, your value proposition.

But I started wondering, what if you realise you’re actually not good at something you love doing?

I suppose your options are 1) try something else, 2) sink into despair and take up a Coke/coke habit or 3) suck it up, try harder, get better.

[I guess… I’m a left a little dispirited by yet another Terrible Tuesday, this one involving general cluelessness, conversation death, and stand-up comedy death. A lot of things just went wrong – which usually isn’t in itself bad, but a lot of things went wrong because I messed them up. But, you know…suck it up, try harder, get better.]

Time for a Coupland quote… ‘Even seasoned recruiters base their first impressions on the basis of fuckability. The second thing they look at is whether you’re competent, and the third thing they see is whether you’re creative in disguising your lack of competence and/or fuckability.’

More on Marketing Week after tomorrow’s seminar, and when I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep.

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…]