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June 2008

May 2008

Policing Your Brand with Google Adwords

As the category leader in online overnight digital printing we are constantly being attacked with adword buys on Google that try and integrate our name,  The reason is obvious, to create the appearance that their value proposition (in most cases price) is better whenever does a natural search for our brand.  Most attacks use "come on" pricing and do more harm than good for the consumer. 

Google does not investigate or arbitrate advertisers bidding on competitor’s trademarked terms  in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada.  However, Google will monitor for trademarked terms in the ad text of competitive advertisers.  Upon receipt of a complaint form a trademark owner, they will prevent other advertisers from placing the term in their ad text.

Saturday Night Live or Dead

I watch Saturday Night Live or should I say try and watch Saturday Night Live every weekend.  Every week the show isn't funny, yet there I am again hoping that the magic that the show once captured will come back again (Usher was cool).

I guess old habits die hard.  With access to the best writers in the world and Steve Carell as a host it boggles the mind how the show cannot be funny (I'm a big "The Office" fan).    It speaks to the power of habits and some of the posts by Gord Hotchkiss on the nature of habits and strategies for breaking them. 

I think it's time to switch to MadTV.  Their music video on Obama and that's funny.

Marketing without Money

A friend with a good idea and no money asked for some thoughts on how I would market his website and cause on lowering teen gun violence.  His website is Put The Guns Down.   

Here's the advice I gave:

1. Generate Web Press Pickup - I'd get a press release out there somehow announcing the company and the website.  It will also help your inbound links.  I'd look at Free Press Release  and  for a list of sites.  While it may not create awareness, the link activity should help your site ranking.

2. Search Engine Optimization - Make sure your site is tagged and constructed using optimization best practices (matching headline, metatag, 1st sentence keywork, 3 keyword blend, outbound links on bottom of page).

3. Article Syndication - write an article on gun violence and submit it to publications as a byline or post on Associated Content   or Ezinearticles

4. Engage with bloggers - invite them into a community that you create on Ning 

5. Get an intern - All of this is hard work.  Get an intern to help.  They can also frame some communities around Facebook and MySpace .

6. Get a personal introduction to key decision makers - use your LinkedIn network to reach 5 people that you identify as being influential in the space.

Please share your thoughts.

A Tale of Two Industries

On Tuesday I had the privilege of attending a CMO summit sponsored by Spencer Stuart and Advertising Age.  Presenting were CMO's from WalMart, Capital One, Harley Davidson and Reuters/Thompson.  Panelists were asked about the challenges of being a CMO in this environment.

While their observations were not particularly surprising, (courage, brand focus, staying close to the consumer, luck), what wasn't said was.    No one spoke about the impact of marketing automation on their departments and the changing skill sets required to analyze and operationalize data.   Instead there was more of an obsession with macro trends in terms of the growing Hispanic population, retiring boomers and women in the workplace.

I get that a CMO needs to be sensitive to macro trends, but the leverage that comes from speaking to the  customer as an individual  has to outweigh generalizations about a population.  Implementing strategies that are first to market in terms of mobile platforms and forecasting have to outweigh the gains from understanding the frustrations of being a particular target. 

Maybe it is too small of an issue, but in my world, it's the issue.

Why Does My Bank Hate Me?

Every day my bank sends me an email asking if I want to borrow money.  When I stop by the branch they ask if I'd like a home equity loan.  When I go to the customer service desk they ask if I'd like a pre-approved credit card.  Since I constantly don't respond, they called asking if I'd like to borrow money with no interest for three months.  The only time they mentioned savings was in a solicitation for a variable annuity which was offered in the absence of any understanding of my personal finances.

Now call me stupid, but in business school I was taught that credit is bad and equity is good when it comes to personal finance.   I was taught that finance requires planning.  All you demonstrate is a complete disregard for me and my money.

How about this idea.  Help me save more with programs that boost my interest rate.  When you've earned my trust I'll expand my relationship and pull some of that money that's been moving to other institutions that I trust more.  From there we'll grow together, adding investment vehicles and then, and only then, will we consider some of those new fangled instruments that promise higher returns, but often prove to be illiquid such as the auction rate bonds that you sold.  Ok, skip that last point.  Let's say I'd get one of those credit cards you are begging me to take. 

If you are particularly nice to me I might actually use it.

Is Business School Good Business?

I spent the weekend at my alma mater, Binghamton University, and couldn't help but wonder if all the beer drinking was part of an avoidance strategy regarding the thousands of dollars each student incurs in tuition costs.   I've been having similar thoughts for my own children who have a choice of spending $200,000 at a private university or $60,000 at a State University.

What if the business schools have it all wrong.  If education is an investment, does the potential return warrant this kind of debt.  If I were running a business school I'd give every student the opportunity to produce earnings that pay down that debt.  With great web business development tools like SiteSell  why wouldn't a business program set up every student in their own web based business as a condition of graduation.  In the spirit of NorthEastern University and Drexel with their internship programs that all but ensure employment, each student would have the ability to immediately service the debt with a business entity that they formed.   

Students would graduate with practical knowledge of all things digital and find getting a job significantly easier.  The business curriculum would include a real world learning lab.

It's what I should have had when I graduated.  It's what my children should have when they graduate.