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Month October 2009

Incisive: Ford's Scott Monty says "social media is the cocaine of the communications industry"

Just a few days after praising Ford for its impressive social media campaign, I came across this post over on SmartBlog. It includes a video which I’ve embedded below of Scott Monty presenting at BlogWell: How Big Brands Use Social Media in Minneapolis.

Monty is Ford’s global digital and multimedia communications manager and in the video he talks about how the company is establishing authenticity, transparency and accessibility through social media.

The big takeaways are:

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Innovative: First Direct takes the lead amongst UK banks in reaching out to its customers

This morning I read this post by Chris Skinner praising First Direct for being the first UK bank to really ‘get’ social media. I was delighted to see a UK bank finally taking advantage of social media in a convincing way.

Ironically I first met Chris when we asked him to blog for SWIFT’s own social media platform: swiftcommunity.net. So, he and I both know how reticent the financial services industry can be when it comes to interacting with its customers and peers online.

Financial services – and banking in particular – remains in many ways a very old-fashioned business. Its practitioners are trained to be risk-averse, it’s part of the DNA. Indeed, as far as looking after my money and yours is concerned, we can probably agree that that’s no bad thing.

When it comes to retail banking though, customers increasingly expect to be able to have their say. Giving them the opportunity to do so, being transparent about it and – here’s the crucial bit – tackling the negative as well as the positive feedback in a public forum, would prove a fantastic brand building strategy for any bank that had the courage to do it first.

That bank is First Direct.

Head on over to the Financial Services Club Blog to read Chris’ full post.

Inapt? Printed marketing collateral in a digital age

The Wall Street Journal is carrying a story today called Marketers Still Prefer a Paper Trail about how, despite the obvious environmental impact, 62% of retail marketers said their biggest revenue generator is catalogues.

Admitedly, the B2B space that I work in is very different when it comes to promotional activities than the world of retailing but I was still amazed at some of the numbers in the article. For instance, did you know that more than 17 billion catalogues were mailed in the U.S. last year, that’s about 56 for every American?

Now, in contrast to the retailing model described in the article, I’ve always worked in a high-tech, B2B environment. As such, I regularly argue that we should be shunning printed sales collateral in favour of electronic versions. And I’d love to tell you that that was because of deeply held environmental concerns but the truth is

Insightful: Rahm Emanuel on the opportunities provided by crises

Emanuel with Barack Obama

The Schumpeter column in The Economist last week recounts how, just after Barack Obama was elected president, his incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told a conference of American captains of industry, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Quite right. It’s in a slump that innovative companies are created or come out fighting. As The Economist notes “Business is more likely to take advantage of this ‘serious crisis’ than the world’s politicians.”

Involving: Ask your customers to tell their own stories like Ford

619000-miles-and-counting-on-a-f-2563When I started this blog, I wrote about how I think good marketing has to be interactive, how you have to get your customers to feel like they are involved in your brand. Well, that’s one of the things the marketers at Ford are doing very well with their The Ford Story site. In particular, they are giving their customers the opportunity to tell their stories.

The gentleman in the photo is Dick F. Now, Dick has covered 619,000 miles in his Ford Mustang and is still going strong. “I’ve owned my 1971 Ford Mustang since it was brand new. I now have 619,484 miles on the car. Every mile and every drop of fuel has been logged. Very close to original” he says “I’ve done all of the maintenance and repairs, including engine rebuilding. I think it might make it another 300,000 or 400,000 miles, which would make it 1,000,000 miles total. We’ve always been a Ford family, and I think Ford makes the best cars.”

Inspired: Own the story like Letterman

So, you’re the CEO of a highly visible and highly successful company. Your personal reputation is almost irrevocably linked to your corporate brand. You’ve been at the top of your game for years with a loyal following of customers.

But here’s the rub: you’ve also been having sex with members of your staff for years. Worse, someone has found out and is now blackmailing you for 2 million dollars. They’re threatening not just to go public with the information but to write a screenplay about it, which they will tout around your industry and amongst your peers.

By any measure, this is something of a communications challenge. The facts are personally embarrassing but – worse- could damage the crucial rapport you have have with your customers. Perhaps you should issue a denial? Pay the man? Mitigate the story by getting your wife and friends to issue statements of support?

What do you do?

Innovative: Get ahead in advertising

0_115_175_http---offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk-news-2RB-396C5879-C71B-F1F1-0C33619A84E1120BThe evening papers in London tonight are reporting the story of David Rowe, an unemployed history graduate who spent five days walking the streets of the capital last month wearing a sandwich board. His pitch? He’d work for free for a month. After that, you could either hire or fire him.

Well, his innovative advertising idea produced exactly the  result he was looking for. In addition to widespread media coverage and about 250 enquiries, Rowe attracted the attention of JCDecaux’s managing director Spencer Berwin who literally bumped into him on Fleet Street.