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July 2007

Words That Work - It's not What You Say, It's What People Hear

Great! book by Dr. Frank Luntz on the use and meaning of language.  In his new book WORDS THAT WORK: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT'S WHAT PEOPLE HEAR, Dr. Luntz describes how he uses language to motive consumers to act and believe.  His work helped put Ross Perot on the map when he ran for President and defined the Republican party during the Reagan and Bush 1 years.

I loved this book for many reasons.  Dr. Luntz confirms many of the things I've learned interpreting focus groups for the past 20 years.  I, like Dr. Luntz, believe there is no better research vehicle than focus groups for understanding how to create emotional resonance with the consumer that actually causes someone to act.  He describes ten rules of effective language (use small words, use short sentences, credibility is as important as philosophy, consistency, novelty/newness, sound and texture matter, speak aspirationally, visualize, ask a question, provide context and explain relevance) that I have found equally powerful when I draft product concepts for consumer appraisal and when writing a persuasive direct mail letter.

I also appreciate his simple explanation that the purpose of marketing is to convince people to visualize themselves using your product or service.  Ii could go on and on quoting from this wonderful book. 

Rarely do business books serve as a must have  reference for marketers.  This is one of the great marketing books of all time.  Buy it read it and refer to it any time you communicate with your customers.

Why Blog

Fred Wilson had a great line in his blog regarding why someone should blog.  Simply the purpose of blogging is to make friends and influence people.  I'm going to try and meet that standard.

Mad Men from AMC

Once in a while a television program captures the spirit of the advertising business.  Until now there have been two views of advertising.  The idealized one led by Darren Stevens on Bewitched and the more recent "Thirty Something" that tracked the difficulties Michael and Elliot had in pleasing clients, their families and themselves.

All of these shows have been surpassed by the premiere of Mad Men on AMC.  The show depicts the good, the bad and the ugly of the hey day of advertising.  The show reflects a time when women were secretaries and their to "please" the boss, lunch meant three martinis and clients...they are pretty much the same.  The show is a travel back in time that anyone in marketing or advertising shouldn't miss.

Persistent Web Applications

Keep your eyes on Google.  A story by Miguel Helft and Stephen Labaton in today's NY Times describes Google's bid to purchase wireless spectrum.  Their vision is to allow consumers to buy a wireless phone independent of the network it runs on.  Just like a consumer isn't asked how they will use a TV before they purchase it, Google feels the cell phone industry should behave the same way.  The play here is to let the consumer choose Google software on the phone that enhances functionality and reduces cost through the placement of Google Adwords. 

You can see the Google strategy emerging.  They extend the Google advertising model across every platform - PDA, phone and computer.  With Google Gears they further emulate the computer software model by offering seamless offline and online functionality (think Gmail behaving like Outlook).  Add to the mix advertising models across the Internet, newspaper, television (Dish auction deal), radio and Internet.  Integrate all of the information in Google analytics giving advertisers the ultimate ROI analysis tool.  The information Google collects on you further customizes the experience creating more consumer value than any other platform.

Google's platforms are open while old world company platforms like Verizon and AT&T are closed.  The world belongs to Google, and with this approach, I think it should.

Definition of Web 2.0

It's hard to get your arms around the quickly evolving language of the Internet.  Eric Reyes has a great article in the May/June 2007 issue of Revenue Magazine that does a good job of defining Web 2.0.  He quotes Tim O'Reilly, the person that coined 2.0.

"Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform."

The article goes on to define the key phrases associated with Web 2.0:

Ajax - Programming language that allows you to refresh a part of a web page instead of the entire page.
Mashup - When the functionality of two web pages combine into one experience.
Mobile Web - Accessing the Internet from any mobile device.
Podcast - An audio file that mimics a radio broadcast and is made available over the web.
RSS Feed - Internet content you can subscribe to and that is "pushed" to your computer.
Social Bookmarking - The storage of your favorite sites on the web in a place where others can access them when looking for similar experiences or content.
User-generated content - Content created or influenced by visitors to a web site.
Web 2.0 - An Internet experience that is collaborative or interactive.
Widget - A program within a program such as a box that contains a weather report.
Wiki - A site where visitors can edit and add content.

Just when you get this language down, along comes Web 3.0 where the web uses artificial intelligence to adapt the experience to you.  Instead of search you will find.  I hope so, because finding out what all this means is a full time job.  I'm sure by the time you read this we'll be up to 4.0.

Elvis is the King

When traveling on business you get to visit cities that wouldn't always be included on your list of vacation hot spots.  This week I was in


and instead of kicking myself for failing to visit


, I decided to pay the "king" a visit.

With expectations of Polyester, bad gift shops, poorly crafted exhibits and the song "Love Me Tender" in my ear, I made my way to the


visitor center which is across the street from Graceland.  You buy your ticket and enter a shuttle bus that takes you to the mansion.  You are given headphones and a device that lets you take a self guided tour through the grounds.

With low expectations in hand, I began my journey through the land of Elvis.   The first three stops are the living room, dining room and kitchen.  Nothing extraordinary.  From there you move to the basement recreation areas and start to experience the times he lived in, and his transformation to stardom.

You begin to feel that what you are seeing is a bit more profound than what you expected. 


is a time capsule of life in the 50's and early 60's.  The birth of Rock and Roll.  The evolution of television from black and white to color and satellite.   Eight track tape players giving way to cassettes and compact disks.

You are sent back in time to a place when rock and roll was being discovered.  He was one of the first to have television and movies turn him into a legend.  You have to be impressed as you walk down a long hall filled with gold and platinum records.  Testament to his staying power are the many sales awards he received in the past several years.  The tour of his home ends at the family grave site and a tasteful tribute to his life.

If the records don't get you, then Elvis's car museum will.  The cars represent the height of the American auto industry with chrome covered fenders and big powerful engines.  What I'd give to drive any one of them. 

Elvis the brand lives on today as strong as it did forty years ago.  It's a testament to the man and his music.  I  listened to the CD of his greatest hits all the way home.

Bermuda on My Mind

My recent trip to Bermuda exceeded all expectations.  The island was filled with beautiful beaches, romantic restaurants and many places to explore.  The island's citizens are gracious and go out of there way to make you feel welcome.  I can't remember that last time someone came up to me and thanked me for traveling to their Island.  My wife and I got so comfortable that we even started taking the interconnected bus and ferry system around the island.  All of this only 1.5 hours from New York.  The island was modern, clean, and wonderful.

I was surprised to learn that Bermuda is seeing an uptick in visitors after many years of decline.  How could a wonderland this close to home not be flooded with visitors from the East.  I think the Bermuda department of tourism should take a hard look at their marketing programs and try to understand why it doesn't capture the spirit of the Island. 

Marketing Department Organizational Structure

Putting together an organization structure for a B to B marketing organization is tricky.  There are basically three fundamental choices:

- Organize by goal - Acquisition, Retention, Winback with a manager assigned to each area.  It offers clear accountability and metric ownership.
- Organize by task - Direct Marketing, Events, Public Relations, Advertising - This allows for the creation of subject matter experts that then apply their expertise to the development of programs that meet acquisition, retention and winback goals.
- Create a Hybrid - Marketing Planning/Analytics, Project Leaders, Discipline Leaders

I've tried all and continue to believe in the hybrid approach.  It's easy enough to create a plan that creates certain assumptions regarding the contribution marketing is going to make to revenue and softer measures such as awareness. 

What is difficult is staying current with the subject matter expertise required in Online Marketing, Google's Latest Acquisition,, and the ability to use each of these platforms and media venues to achieve the goals of the organization.

I'd suggest looking at the marketing staff as holders of project capacity.  The goal of the marketing leader is to work with the planner/analyst to implement design a plan.  Each member of the marketing team is responsible for a discipline and a set of projects that they suggest based on their expertise and capacity.  The department acts as a matrixed team since most initiatives require an integrated approach.

Nissan Altima Problems and Complaints

Nissan  should re-evaluate the way they deal with customer complaints regarding the Nissan Altima.  Regardless of a warranty, there are certain things a product should not do.  Cars are personal and building a car that rusts even for an owner that baby's his car is unacceptable.  My Nissan Altima only 14,000 miles in 3 years.

I called the dealer who told me that since it is 2 months past my 3 year warranty, and even though the rust obviously occurred during the warranty period, the only thing they could do would apply for a goodwill repair, but I would have to take the car to the dealer to be inspected.  I took time off from work, drove to my dealer, and without even inspecting the car (which tells me that this is a common problem), the paperwork was completed.  The next day I got a call telling me that it was turned down, but I can appeal via the Nissan 800#.

Nissan Customer support informed me that the wheels have protective covers (formerly known as hubcaps) and that they should not rust.  Since I park at a train station filled with 2004 Nissan Altima's (for some reason Altima is the third best selling car on Long Island), I noticed that the "protective covers" do not protect the wheels on anyones car.  I calmly explained that each "cover" is not solid, but has triangular cut outs where the rust forms.   

They told me that a regional manager will call.  No one called.

The car business is competitive and up to now I was so thrilled with Nissan that I was going to buy a Nissan Murano in December and a Nissan Sentra for my son. 

The marketing lesson.  According to the book "Ultimate Question", every customer in the bottom 2 boxes on a 10 point user satisfaction scale will result in 7 lost sales.  All I can say about Nissan and the complaints I've made against the Nissan Altima is that I hope they sell 7 less 2007 Nissan Altima's this year.

The Challenges of Marketing Measurement and ROI

Every B to B marketer is asked to measure ROI against contribution (revenue after costs of goods).  While the desire is simple enough there are many complexities that confound the process.  I had to list them out for "Deliver" Magazine and thought I'd share.

Measuring Multiple Forms of Response
- 800# Inbound
-Outbound calling
- Trade Show Visits
- Adword/Banner Clicks
- Organic Traffic
- Direct to site traffic

Measurement Tools
- Telephone Tracking Systems and 800# assignment
- CRM systems to link media to contact
- Jump page management systems

Need to integrate Multiple Data Sources
- Front End Marketing
- Back end user level revenue

Comprehensive Integrated Reporting
- All Channel costs, response metrics and revenue in one report
- Monthly tracking of revenue to demonstrate lifetime value\

Quantification of Secondary Benefits
- PR generated links that drive organic search rankings
- Awareness that drives interest and boosts response rates