Monthly Archives: October 2013

Planners Make Ugly Slides

I won´t deny it, in most things I am a straight ridah.

However there is one common characteristic, I share with all the wack planners around the world. I do really ugly slides. That is why I have condensed my presentations nowadays mostly to one-sentence blank slides (so-called power-slides).
This cheat sheet from Julian Cole comes definitely in handy for me (download here with a tweet):

If you want to see some of my ugly presentations, click here.

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How Teens Abandoned Facebook and Other Lies You Can Find From Research

First of all, I recommend everyone to read “Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us”, a brilliant book by David H. Freedman. It showcases that painstakingly big portion of scientific research is completely faulty. The book did not address the subject of marketing research, but as the situation was quite bad with scientific research, I would say that nearly all of the marketing research is somewhat inferior. That does not mean it is not useful, but you should always take it with grain of salt.

I was reminded of this when there were lots of shares in social media about research on how Facebook is not the most important social network for teens. The news coverage it got made me sad and angry because of three things. First of all, that study was conducted to 802 teens (there are 20+ million teens in US). Second, it was focus group, not assessing the real behavior online. Third, it was mainly a study about privacy, which might also skew the answers to certain direction (like the previous study about social media effect on teen purchasing patterns). If you look at cold facts, not feelings coming out from the focus groups, the truth is different:

Numbers trump feelings
The so-called popular network Twitter has 24% penetration in teen audience, while Facebook has 94%. That gives a clear signal about reality: Facebook is “only” over 3.5 times bigger than the “most-liked” social network. You rather have actual reach than likes. When you are crafting your next campaign for teens, I would still concentrate on Facebook to get that actual reach. Instagram (owned by Facebook, which is good to remember) or Twitter might be good for more engagement, but by the time of writing, something new is probably surpassing them as the social network of choice for teens.

Do not replace your common sense with research
Main takeaway from the research was that teens do not find Facebook cool anymore. That is hardly surprising and you do not really need research to get that insight. Why would teens even find it cool? Their parents are using Facebook, for god´s sake. There will be always a demand for that “new thing” amongst teens (whether SnapChat or twerking). That “new thing” enables teens to differentiate from adults and hopefully shock parents as well. When Twitter becomes popular enough, teens will “abandon” it as well. That “abandonment” does not mean that Twitter would be irrelevant. On the contrary, that might mean it is just big enough to make business sense for the target audience.

This rant is not really about the teens fleeing away from Facebook (which they actually do, to some extent). It is about that I am totally sick and tired of sloppily executed research and lazy misinterpretation of that research. You run into these bullshit stats taken out of their context everyday, whether you are reading blogs, industry press or just browsing the latest deck from the research agency. When these stats get passed on in social media without any deeper thought, I sincerely hope that people are just too lazy to check details of the research. Other alternative is that marketing people are just too stupid. Hopefully not.

Especially we, as planners, should take a stand and always dig deeper to the research and be the devil´s advocate when it comes to research. Find the occasional nuggets and gems between the lines and rip the other pieces of the research apart.

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Build Your Brand on the Myth, Not Facts

I always use Moleskine notebook.

And yes I know it is quite silly. I know that Hemingway, Picasso or Van Gogh never used Moleskines, per se. Yes, they used some kind of notebooks back in the day, but not any particular brand. Moleskine just started to do notebooks “inspired” by those old notebooks in 1997. I found it out a while after I had filled my first couple of Moleskines with my brilliant ideas (emphasis mine). Of course, I had envisioned myself scribbling concepts like Hemingway wrote his punctuated prose. Finding out the truth did not stop me from buying Moleskine though. The notebooks were ok enough and it still send my aspiration message to others. Good story is interesting than boring truth.

Some brands should be built on myths not facts.

Notebooks were totally low interest category when Moleskine arrived. Which does not really make sense, because you produce high interest content in your notebook. It is disrespectful for your ideas to go on cheapskate notebook or back of a printed A4. There was opportunity to bring new product there to celebrate the creativity of the people (or their perceived creativity) and make some money at the same time.

Also as our life becomes increasingly more filled with digital devices, people have the desire to do & have something tangible. The rise of Moleskine has actually happened almost parallel to digitalization: starting from dotcom boom, to Web2.0 and the current mobile revolution.

If your product is good enough (if Moleskine product would be really inferior, no one would use it, no matter the story), your audience is not really searching for performance. You are searching for the inspiring story and a product which makes you feel good about yourself.

I have had numerous discussions with clients, who have also Moleskines. Usually being the party pooper planner I tell the real story of the brand. That has not been a reason to stop using Moleskine for anyone. We rather believe in a good story than in the reality. Having a Moleskine showcases certain desired attitude. It also shows that you are still falling prey to marketing communications. I find it as a very comforting thought: there is still need for our line of industry. People still need interesting stories to justify their consumption.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Never Say No to Panda

Damn I am getting old, I am not up-to-date with all the different memes at the moment. I also have totally missed this advertising hit from 2010 as well.

Panda Cheese commercials are classic marketing. TV spots build around dramatizing the tagline. Simple approach: Just hammering home that you should never say no to panda. What makes these spots modern marketing is the craft and flair of them. Without the product tagline these would still be entertaining content and not out of place in sites like 9GAG or Reddit.

There is not really any major consumer insight here. If you don´t count that people like to laugh and it is disturbingly funny to see cute animal like Panda behaving like bully and terrorizing people. Too often planners spend time on inventing pseudo-insights like “Eating cheese makes you reminisce and you are actually eating your childhood memories” instead of being truly helpful. Cheese is cheese, make it fun and make sure your brand is remembered. Our field of work is not rocket science, simple is effective. Effective is beautiful.

Different approach and great idea trumps half-boiled consumer insight any day.

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