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Social Media – hype or value add to Marketing?

At an ANZ Marketing Forum recently, A renowned Marketing academic who delivered the key note address questioned the wisdom of Marketers being over zealous about Social media 1 He went on to warn about the dangers of blindly jumping on the Social Media band wagon.  As much as this came as a shock wave to some, to others in that audience it was a not so radical statement.

Allow me to remind that Marketing academics such as Philip Kotler propagated “Social Marketing” back in the 1970’s long before the Internet as we know of today was even invented.  (Kotler & Zoltman 1971). Kotler wrote about galvanizing “social” communities back then.

However, here lies some key differences. The “Social” medium as we refer to it today has far more greater audience reach, is more instantaneous, and popular than it ever has been. The technology available to both Marketers and consumers to engage dynamically is vastly different from any other era known to us. Tuning into the radio just this morning, I heard that with new real time bus apps bus users in Sydney will be able to use their smart phones to track how far away their next bus is. Amazing!

From a Marketers standpoint, the technology available to engage in “push” Marketing as well as to track consumer sentiment, and measure Marketing $$$ spent on “on line” has never been available like this in the past.

However, the main thrust of this blog is this:

For practicing Marketers, Social Media should not be confused with Strategy. Building Marketing Strategy involves staying true to a rigorous set of Strategic planning principles and modelling.  Social Media therefore is the tactical outcome of that strategy. Social Media is today’s new “above the line”. It is a pervasive medium used to reach the target market. In using Social Media Marketers still need to exercise good Marketing rigor of Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning as well as selecting the right Social Media “mix” to achieve maximum target audience reach.  Whilst Social Media has captured the global attention and has indeed come to the forefront of Marketing communication, it is also an unknown maze where you can squander a lot of un-accounted for Marketing $$$. So, just as much you would apply ROMI on traditional media spend (IE. TARPS, Cost Per Thousand etc.), it is imperative similar analysis like Click Through Rates (CTR), Cost Per Click (CPC), and Real Time Engagement be used in order to ensure the right social media “mix”  is selected.


Why Good Ads “Click”.

Axe Fireworks

Here are 2 of my favourite new print ads. Needless to say they featured as winners of the prestigious Caanes Lions Advertising Awards for 2012. The 2 ads are for Axe fragrance and Maxam toothpaste.

I despise adverts (Brand Managers, and Creative Directors) who do not generate a measurable ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment), by not adhering to what Marketers are taught as good Marcomms strategy and execution. I have had the good fortune of being in the company of renown Marketing academics and practitioners during my time as a Marketing student and professional. So in my opinion here’s what make these ads “click”.

Great advertising is aimed at captivating the target audience, and compelling the viewer to respond (favourably) to given stimuli. If this sounds like some deep theorem, it is exactly that. Markcomms follow the basic premise that attitudes towards Brands / Products are formed in the sub-conscious. Hence, why at a deeper level Marketers/Advertisers are compelled to study the brain and consumer psychology.

The ads discussed here constitute these essential properties in advertising:- EMOTION, a PROMISE, appeals to the TARGET CUSTOMER, states a KEY BENEFIT and/or a KEY ATTRIBUTE and highlights the product CATEGORY NEED. Effective advertising is clean, un-cluttered and delivers a “single minded” message to the intended audience, whilst creatively applying the above factors to an advert. If you cannot address the above criteria, it is prudent not to waste ad Dollars.

Maxam Civilization Rome

Poor mediocre advertising seems like more common place in the Australian ad landscape, and Management (and consumers) are entitled to demand better innovation and creativity from advertisers. The ads described here were the creative works of BBH London (Axe) and JWT China (Maxam). Other notable brands that won were – Benetton, Rayban, Amnesty International as well as Carlton beer and Volkeswagen both created in Australia.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media and Enterprise wide Collaboration has changed the Marketing landscape for good. The advent of Web 2.0 and the explosion of Social Networking has given rise to new Brand Touch Points, Idea Incubators, Social Networking, and Crowd Sourcing. Here are some mind numbing facts:-

  •   40% of social media users access social media from their mobile phones
  • 53% of active social networkers follow a brand
  • 70% of active social networkers shop online
  • Every 4 in 5 active internet user visits social networks and blogs
  • Over twice as many people aged 55+ visit social networking sites on their mobile phone than last year
  • More women view video on social networks but men watch longer
  • When compared to average internet users, active adult social networkers are 75% likely to be heavy spenders on music, 45% more likely to go on a date, 47% more likely to spend more on clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • Among Nielsen’s 10 metered markets, Australians spend most amount of time visiting social networks and blogs.

Although Social networking is not a new Mantra anymore, it is indeed a potent and effective Marketing medium that should be embraced and implemented within the B2C and Enterprise Marketing space. Social networking offers significant benefits when adopted for internal and external Marketing.

*Source: Nielsen and NM Incite.

Business goes mobile – 170 of the top 198 communication service providers world wide have selected IBM

By the end of next year (2013), the number of mobile internet users will exceed desk top internet users. When I was attached to the mobile telephony team at Ericsson some years ago, we all dreamed of this milestone happening one day, and indeed the time is nigh. IBM is in the forefront of many technologies and not surprisingly “More than 100m hand sets shipped this year contained IBM technology”. The power of mobile telephony is simply amazing. Varying industries from Retail, Health care, Banking, Insurance, and even Government is now deploying (killer apps) for Mobile Commerce, Customer Interaction, Location Based Services, Asset Management, and not the least Collaboration & Social Networking.

Dare to be different

A couple of months ago, I earned myself a well deserved break. And in my various escapades, I stumbled across some very interesting places, people, and products. There was a lone Flautist perched on a tree playing to guests at a remote village restaurant in Sri Lanka. My son and I climbed Sigiriya rock (A world heritage site) where a Sinhalese king built a fortress (swimming pool and palace included) on top of this gigantic rock. We stayed at a very unique hotel called Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana Sri Lanka, which is built smack dab in the middle of a forest and is positioned as the ultimate Eco-tourist destination. I also visited some interesting places in Singapore, including the risque and upmarket Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store.
All of the above stories including A&F’s “Shirtless greeters” are brilliant examples of product differentiation. These are products that succeeded in creating a favourable Brand Attitude in my select list. In the modern break neck world of Social Media and mass proliferation, the one thing Marketers would be smart in doing is to create a solid product/brand differentiation. Product/brand differentiation is a key element in building the brand strategy, and makes a brand stand out from its competitors. Essentially, what this means is to create a unique set of product or brand attributes that positions a company’s product or service in a uniquely different manner in the consumers mind. This is compared against the competitors product attributes. This can be measurements through Brand Attribute tests. By creating unique attributes products/brands will lend towards a more favourable position during the consumers decision making process. Product / Brand differentiation can be a direct tangible benefit such as Product innovation – Patek Phillipe, Toyota Prius Hybrid, Apple ipad, Price – Bunnings hardware or more sublime as in a Marcomms campaign – IBM “Smarter Planet”, Nike “Just do it”.

Collaborative Learning Social Media style

I was having a discussion with a client the other day. The issues / pain points raised by him was so much within my domain, I was so glad the conversation was happening. Not so long ago, as students we worked in collaborative groups and shared learning material in a physical environment. IE. met at places, exchanged reams of paper, hefty books, print outs etc. This was all good and essential social habits. After all, nothing can replace one on one human interaction. The closest we got to a virtual environment however, was uploading assessment material / answer sheets into an Intranet team room for markings.

Conventional team rooms still exists in most organizations. The person I was speaking with was the Head of IT in a major educational institution. His dilemma was that students and academics don’t collaborate effectively enough through its present systems. This was a truly engaging conversation, as it gave me the opportunity to introduce to him IBM’s Connections software. IBM Connections is a Social Business Collaborative tool like no other. I can say this with great confidence as I have used several similar tools. IBM Connections provides an expansive array of collaborative methods such as File sharing, Blogging, Communities, Wikis, Activities, Profiles, Forums, Tags etc which makes it like no other similar solution available in the market today. I guess this is why premier market intelligence firms Gartner, IDC and Forrester have all named IBM Connections the market leading B2B Social Business software tool.

In the past teaming and group activity was built around documents. I explained to the client that the world of collaboration is about being people centric and not document centric. He got this very quickly and went away with a different point of view about Social Business and how this can be applied to a collaborative learning environment.

The Digital Transformation is here.

This is me having received the IBM Digital Eminence award from Jason Laufer and Andrew Stevens (GM IBM ANZ). All awards bring a special feeling and I thank Jason and the team that nominated me for the recognition. So, thats enough about awards. after all awards are only a reminder that you now need to set new goals.

This new recognition at IBM is the perfect setting for me to expand a bit on what is shaping the new era of Marketing strategy and communications. It is widely accepted that, the IT industry progresses in cycles of 10 years. Hence, we have now entered what is known as the 5th era of IT transformation, now known as the Digital era. AKA the era of “Social”. In B2C we call this “Social Media” and in B2B we call this “Social Business”. “Social” has brought about enormous challenges and opportunities to traditional Marketing.

The explosion of Face Book, Linked In, Twitter and Utube among other Web 2.0 technologies has challenged the traditional mind set of every organization on the planet. How organizations and indeed Marketers have responded to this is both encouraging and in many cases disappointing. If Face book is likened to the 3rd largest country in the world (700 m users) and Smart phones have out paced PC’s in gross sales, then surely the Marketing game has changed.

I am at a privileged position to blog on this topic as I do this for a living at IBM. So, it is with great delight I will blog in the next few days, weeks or God only knows how long about Digital Marketing, Collaboration, RSS feeds, Communities, Tags, Widgets, Portals etc.