Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

Real Omni-Channel Customer Experience

We consumers are living in truly omni-channel environment. We live in app economy. We don´t just want things fast, we want them now. This a real user journey from this new brave world:

  1. I realize that I don´t have any food in the fridge. This might pose a problem to my survival. I am too lazy to walk to smaller store so I decide to buy online.
  2. Because I am also a cheapskate, my online store of choice is Giant Online.
  3. The experience starts by not remembering your password. After resetting your password, you are finally into system.
  4. Giant Online has a great system called Shopping list. It enables you to put items you buy frequently to “shopping list” so it would be faster to buy your items. Expect when it is not.
  5. You cannot just import your shopping list to the cart, but you have to check every single item one-by-one.
  6. After you have put those products in the really innovative product feature kicks in. The products that are not currently available will disappear. So you have to start checking what items are actually missing from your shopping list.
  7. Because I buy lots of fruits and vegetables, Giant recognizes those as individual items. So if I put Avocado from US to shopping list and they do not have those exact fruits they will disappear from my shopping cart. The system is not smart enough to recommend avocadoes from New Zealand (or vice versa). The system does not also learn in any way of my purchase history. So then again I need to spend another 10 minutes by putting the missing items manually.
  8. Because I have used this store for long I have also realized certain quirks of it (like the one above). Sometimes you don´t find products with search and you have to go to specific category to go them through. Sometimes you can find certain products only through search. The time it has took me to master this online shopping platform could have been used to learn a new language.
  9. Finally you seem to have everything on your cart so it is time to check out.
  10. Expect the system tries to sell me something totally unnecessary. This time they offer me a funky green saucepan. Great deal, expect I don´t have any need for that product. Naturally these upselling offers are totally random and not connected to what I am normally purchasing.giantpromotion
  11. I select the option that if I miss any items they would be replaced automatically if there is a substitute item and they would not call me. Usually these calls are only about that the item is missing and there is no replacement. No idea to call if there are no solutions to missing items.
  12. I check out from the store. Great, it only took 20 minutes. My nearest store is five minutes walk so I probably would have already done this faster in there. But at least I didn´t need to stand up from my computer. Wait a minute; I did it on my stand-up desk at work. So at least I burned some calories.
  13. Ok of I go or so I think.
  14. Because I selected to pay with credit card, I have to do some extra security confirmation through SMS. So I have to check a code from my phone and type it into the system.
  15. Ok, not that hard, the card is valid. I will get e-mail confirmation of my order. By this point I have already utilized desktop, mobile and received e-mail during this shopping journey. And this for the quite mundane order of cabbage and yoghurt.
  16. My earliest time slot I could get the order was two days away. So eventually I had to go to nearby store to get some emergency stuff because otherwise I would have died of hunger meanwhile. So already this process has took an hour. Smooth…
  17. Day before the shipment, they call me (although I explicitly forbid them of calling). Well they call me anyway and say that certain items are missing and there are no replacements. Thank you for the information.
  18. The big day is here; I finally get my food delivery. Expect the delivery time frame is four hours from 9AM to 1PM, so I have to stay home and wait for that delivery. Luckily NBA playoffs are on so these four hours are not total waste of time. Way to go Boston!
  19. Little bit before 1PM the delivery is there. I check the order list and naturally some additional items are missing. I call Giant and they promise to reimburse (which they always do, just an additional phone call to do)
  20. I put the stuff into fridge taking around 10 minutes.
  21. Mission accomplished. I can´t wait to do this again in couple of days.

So to conclude, making things easier and digital meant the following:

  • Over 20 steps for a very simple process: select your food, buy your food, store your food
  • 5 hours total for making, managing and waiting the order
  • Using laptop for the order, doing two phone calls, receiving one SMS and one e-mail. So truly omni-channel experience!

So why do I still subject myself to this torture?

Answer: laziness.

I cannot be bothered to walk to the store because I am lazy bastard. I cannot be bothered to change to Redmart, because I am not convinced it would be any better. I have already registered to one service and cannot be bothered with my passwords. Laziness trumps loyalty.

Quite often companies do not actually need to make things easier or cheaper, they just need to give you the illusion that they provide easier and cheaper solution.

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Bots and The Rise of Conversational Commerce

Messaging is the new browser and bots are the websites.
Mike Roberts, Kik Head of Messaging and Bot Experience

Bots have been all the rage last weeks. Whether it has been the NSFW Microsoft bot (not only racist, but also encouraging pot smoking in front of cops) or the ability to build chatbots on top of FB messengers.

Why sudden interest in bots?

They are not really a new phenomenon. Eliza was already created in 60s (test it here) and Siri has also been around for a while (test it in your phone). The main reason for the chatbots to gain importance especially now is because of the changed digital landscape. For majority of users, messenger is their digital starting point. Users don´t want to use messaging over Internet, they want to access their Internet to from their messenger. Therefore ability to help, serve and sell to users within messenger is paramount. Short text message (or emoji) is the default way of communicating, should it be also the way to communicate with the brands?

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.” 
Chris Messina

We are still having long way for the bot economy and below are the core things to fix before chatbots will evolve from novelty to actual user behavior:

1. The bots need to understand normal talk
“They aren’t taking natural language; they are taking menu names,”
Bruce Wilcox,the author of Rose, the winner of the most recent Loebner annual chatbot competition.

Many of the recent Facebook bots are still quite clunky in terms of discussion. People are more casual when they are thinking that they are conversing with real person. The challenge is for the robot to be casual but at the same time providing the transactional value. Current examples have not been particularly promising as they are either pushing you products in unnatural way or trying to be funny but not providing any value:
poncho

2. The bots need to become more predictive and fast
Going back and forth with your bot to order a pizza is tedious process. Getting weather details in an hour is just ridiculous. They need to become way more intuitive to use to really rival Google for getting your fast answers. The novelty factor will wear off quickly. If bots are not able to give you solutions fast, they will not be used.

3. Bots are not a destination but a way to enhance the existing discussion
E.g. instead of going to separate weather bot, you should get the weather details when you are chatting with your friend and need that info. Mark Zuckerberg raved about bots as replacements for apps, but with the current experience, it is actually just easier to go to that weather app and get your answer. Ideal situation would be that your messenger would recognize opportunities for commercial interaction from your discussions, but how to build that experience so that it is not creepy?

We are living in the early days of conversational commerce. Using messenger for repeated purchases (like pizza delivery) seems like a no-brainer, but will people actually start browsing products within messenger and asking help from the chatbot?

That depends on the user experience. If AI behind the chatbot actually would know your taste and it would be effective and enjoyable to chat with, messenger economy could become true game changer. Opportunity and potential demand is there, but building a good recommendation engine alone is difficult not to mention that you have to add enjoyable interaction with a robot on top of that. And the core question is, will people want to interact with bots?

Time will tell.

One thing is for certain. Bots will not kill the web, but they will permanently alter it.

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The Guide To Predicting The Future

“Two decades is a sweet spot for prognosticators of radical change: near enough to be attention-grabbing and relevant, yet far enough to make it possible to suppose that a string breakthroughs, currently only vaguely imaginable, might be then have occurred. ..
Twenty years may also be close to typical duration remaining of a forecaster´s career, bounding the reputational risk of a bold prediction”
-Nick Bostrom (Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers and Strategies)
 
Not unlike other fields, advertising industry is full of bold predictions. Majority of them are completely off-the-mark. Predictions seldom come with accountability. The temptation to come with sexy soundbite lures you more than truly thinking about potential outcomes (or actually predicting the future). It is better to have a bold opinion than to be right:
 
“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today. ”
Evan Esar

I have read in multiple sources that this year will be the year of VR. This is a great example of Amara´s law, overestimating nascent but highly visible technology on short run:

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

VR is currently at the sweet spot of being obscure enough that making predictions about it can raise eyebrows (no one should not be shocked anymore that future is mobile for example). On the other hand, there are enough tangible examples of it so people can understand it. The innovations that will truly revolutionize advertising are harder to grasp at this moment or have not even been developed yet. When they will truly happen, they are too obvious then to catch the headlines.

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Major Keys to Success from Snapchat (that probably only work for Snapchat)

majorkey

Snapchat has surprised me. I mislabeled the platform way back as just a method to share nude selfies (although there is definitely a market for that). They are more popular than ever, valuation is through the roof and they are totally altering the way how millennials communicate and consume content.

As a company they have been really refreshing and bold on their approach in their business. Take the following lessons with a grain of salt, as they might not be right for you:

1.Ask for (too) much
Google made advertising accessible for pretty much anyone and Facebook followed a suit. Snapchat has taken totally different angle. Its ads are expensive, so essentially available to only big advertisers (even though they have reduced their prices). For example branded custom lens costs 450,000 USD. Almost half a million of branded puking rainbow! We will talk about puking rainbows later. They also provide sparsely data about the ad performance and target audience (which might improve in the future). Essentially Snapchat is expensive because it can be expensive. What they offer is that you can be part of the party if you pay the premium. If you don´t, you will be left out. The choice is yours.

Major key to success: Set your price high, as it is easier to go down than to go up.

2. Don´t try to attract everyone
Snapchat is not for the old people; expect if you are Dj Khaled. We will talk about him later.

“I’ll be honest, I had no idea what they were talking about half the time”
– David Gaines about Snapchat training sessions (Chief Planning Officer, Maxus Global)

If you are CMO, it is likely that you are not on Snapchat. Or if you are, you don´t understand anything that is happening there. However, your kids or younger colleagues probably are and that gives you signal that your brand should probably do something there. Snapchat is the ultimate access to one of the hardest target audiences in the world: teens.

If you are not teen, the interface of Snapchat looks messy, complicated and hard-to-use. Essentially they defy all the traditional belief of user design and the users love it. Rest of us don´t understand it but that does not matter. The enigma of Snapchat has probably added to its lure. You cannot compare it to any other app. That is also the reason why they can ask premium. There is no alternative for Snapchat.

Major key to success: If your competition is selling oranges, start selling apples.

3. Embrace the irrational
If you are snapchatting like boss, you have way too much time in your hands. What the success of Snapchat has showed, teens and millennials have lots of time in their hands. And although you are complaining how busy you are, in reality you have too much time in your hands.

The biggest star of Snapchat is Dj Khaled, who has six million followers. He is something like a Paulo Coelho for millennials and his stories are celebrated throughout the Internet. His days “walking on the journey to the path of more success” are filled with eating, drinking Ciroc, jet skiing and sharing his wisdom through major keys (for example key to success is to have lots of pillows).

Whereas Facebook is introducing utility (ordering Uber etc.) to Messenger, the hit function of Snapchat is filter that makes you puking rainbows. The success of Snapchat has prompted Facebook to acquire Masquerade. Its hit function is the ability to switch selfies. And yes, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat back in the day with three billion. Everyone thought Snapchat was crazy to decline the offer. Now they are valued for 16 billion.

pukingrainbows

Although Internet has transformed our life in many ways, you should never underestimate the irrational and random aspect of life. Our attention span is short and that short span is increasingly filled with puking rainbows and major keys to success.

Major key to success: People will favor mindless entertainment against thoughtful utility. Always.

Could you apply some of these lessons in your own business? Maybe, if you are attracting millennials. The challenge with certain successful businesses (that Snapchat is not yet even is, only with high valuation) is that their competitive advantage is hard to be duplicated. Truly phenomenal firms go against the grain and pretty much ignore what other competitors are doing.

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What Deadpool Teaches You About Branding?

deadpoolemoji

I finally saw Deadpool last week and it is definitely a contender for the best movie of this year. Where I actively avoid mainstream movie theatres (especially in Singapore, where the selection is even narrower. Luckily we have Projector), it was like a breath of fresh air to watch something totally politically incorrect on big screen. And I am not the only one enjoying it, Deadpool is becoming the third biggest superhero movie of all-time.

1.Don´t listen to focus groups
There is a lie, damn lie and then your target audience analyzing your ads in focus groups. Deadpool is the kind of movie that would not ever get a green light in focus group. There is senseless violence, infantile humor and jabs and insults to everything that is sacred. The hero is flawed and does not even want to be hero. Not surprisingly, despite the strong hype movie was not exactly going anywhere:

We developed the script six years ago, wrote this fantastic script, it leaked online, Deadpool fans went nuts for it, so the studio granted us a small amount of money to make test footage. This test footage that we shot then sat on the shelf for four years, as it does, they didn’t do anything with it, then just a little under two years ago it leaked, accidentally, onto the internet.
Ryan Reynolds (in Jimmy Fallon)

Deadpool would not have happened if there had not been groundswell to get the film released. Ryan Reynolds continues:

“Here’s the thing, the fans freaked out and overwhelmed Fox, and Fox basically had to greenlight the movie. The problem is the footage was owned by Fox so it was kind of illegal … I know that one of us did it.”

If you truly believe in your product, sometimes you have to bend the rules (or even ignore them) a little bit.

2.Embrace the constraints
Fox tried to do pretty much everything to not get the movie released, e.g. cutting the budget on the last minute:

“We had to carve something like $7-8 million out of the budget in a 48-hour window. And we, as a group, just put our heads together, got creative, and said ‘How do we cut what is essentially nine pages out of a 110 page script?’”
Rhett Reese (writer)

But when there is a will, there is a way. Deadpool is not about the special effects. It is about the attitude. If you have the attitude, that can shine through but if you are only about who is having the biggest explosions, that kind of cut would be fatal.

3.Ride the trend…but in opposite direction
People start to get bored of superhero movies. They still are going to see them, because essentially you don´t have a choice, as they are everywhere. Everyone knows the formula and every superhero comes from the same mold. When someone breaks the pattern, it will definitely get noticed. That is why it is important to know your competition, so you can do exactly the opposite than them.

4.Be top-of-mind
The marketing campaign for Deadpool is a perfect example of a great integrated campaign. Top-of-mind is ensured with heavy use of traditional channels.

deadpooloooh

In digital you are really starting to have fun. Like with Deadpool emojis or a Tinder profile:

deadpooltinder

5.Keep it real
Traditionally having a R-rated film is a deathblow to a film. Deadpool has gone against all the conventional Hollywood wisdom, mainly because the makers had a strong belief to the film.

So that´s all. If you have not seen Deadpool, go see it now.

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Facebook Canvas 101

There has been lots of talk about the new ad format for Facebook, so to save your time, here is all you need to know about it:

What is Facebook Canvas?
Canvas is an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products (according to Facebook)

So what does that really mean?
Essentially it is expandable Facebook ad with interactive features. It uses the same technology as Instant Articles, so you could almost call them Instant ads. The main benefit is that they load faster than mobile web in general, up to 10x faster.
fb-canvas

What are the features?
Currently you can add following features to your Canvas:

  • Button
  • Carousel
  • Photo
  • Text Block
  • Video
  • Product Set

What brands will benefit from it?
Not surprisingly many of the first examples have been popular culture properties (movies, TV shows) with a lot of interactive elements.
minions

The real opportunity is in my opinion with product catalogues. Swiping set of different product is intuitive and also gets you closer to actually buying of the product. Good example is Verizon´s Holidone-campaign, which was one of the first uses of Facebook canvas (done by R/GA New York):
holidone

I have seen these already before?
This ad format was previously available to only selected premium advertisers, but it is now opened for every one.

How I can do one?
You can do one by utilizing the Facebook self-service tool. There are easy step-by-step tutorials on how to do them. Technically it is easy, but of course making something cut-through requires lot of craft and innovation.

Is it a game-changer?
On a surface it is just a new ad format. However with more room to play in Facebook (and keeping in mind its massive reach in majority of countries), you should seriously consider do you need to create separate mobile campaign pages. Or maybe it is just better to create interactive experiences where people already are? Clicking to go to a site is just an artifact of the previous generation of Internet. Also whereas social posts are more about branding, with Canvas you can actually create a more utility to your ad unit (like finding your nearest Wendy´s):
wendys

Will we see a sudden surge of crappy canvas ads?
There are definitely early mover advantages reaped out of Canvas. When format gets more common, it will require more finesse and craft to catch the attention. As with other Facebook advertising, the news feed should not favor ads which are not liked:
 “If an ad doesn’t perform well, News Feed doesn’t show it to many people. And the advertiser gets a lot of feedback very early on.”
-Chris Cox, Facebook Chief Product Officer

What have been the best executions in Facebook Canvas thus far?

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Case Nikon Singapore: How to Keep Beating Your Opponent

Many of you might have heard about Nikon Singapore´s photo competition screw-up. They awarded clearly photoshopped photo and apparently a stolen idea. While it is not the biggest failure of the world, it is slightly embarrassing. It would probably be forgotten quite soon, but their biggest competitor Canon does not want us to forget:

Canon Canada

Quite seldom social competition in Singapore catches the attention in Canada

As we can see, the post has gotten over 11k likes and 7k shares. That is quite great number for a Facebook post and a great indicator that people love when brands are bold and have balls.

Bold brands are cheeky, even frivolous. When their opponent (read: other brand) fails, they attack viciously. Business is about winning and losing and if you can help your rival brand lose even more go for more blows. There is three great lessons here to keep in mind when you thinking of competing with your archenemy:

  1. Admit your own mistakes fast and forget them even faster.
  2. However well on your opponent’s mistakes and rub it in their face. Do it as fast as possible.
  3. …but do it with tongue-in-cheek. It is ok to be evil if you smile at the same time.

Some people and brands need to have an enemy to get the best out of them.

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Content is Nothing Without Context

In a recent study with Lóreal and Google, where they tested typical ad, tutorial and testimonial, there were some interesting results. First the typical ad had the best view-through-rate but was not necessarily driving action so much.

viewthroughrate

What really struck me on the study were the following points:

 

1) If you are interrupted, you want to be interrupted with something that looks good.

Pre-rolls have been around for a while so people are expecting to see ads when they are checking YouTube. It is almost like an ad break, but apparently slightly more annoying.

 

2) Women are actively looking for the tutorials, not ads

Especially this is true to the millennials, they are used to less ad-looking content production. If you are interrupted with tutorial when you want to watch a tutorial, not surprisingly you are not necessarily watching it through.

 

3) Younger audience appreciates the more “real” approach and it drives more action

 youngeraudience

action

This pretty much highlights the point I have been going through for a while. Brands need to have their ad and content game in check. Creating great content is not supplementing the hard-working ads. And vice-versa: hard-working ad is quite seldom great content. What works as a pre-roll does not necessarily work in another formats.

Content production is totally meaningless if you do not think the context where you are showing it.

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Finnair Stopover Cock-Up

Finnair has a stopover concept in collaboration with VisitFinland.com. In principle it is a great idea to encourage people to come to visit Finland while they are flying Finnar to other destinations. Main emphasis in the term “in principle”.

As I am traveling to Copenhagen this spring, I thought it would be awesome opportunity to utilize tise stopover concept. Expect the booking system does not work. I have tried to do a booking with different browsers, different computers but essentially it always comes back to the starting point. I doubt that tourists are willing to go through too many hoops to be able to come visit Finland. I at least have some vested interest to go the extra mile. Moment-of-truth for your brand is always.

bookingform

That’s not all. Below there is aggregator of #visitfinland-hashtag. Some of the updates are dubious to say at least (like the one in right) and give totally different “feel” to Finnair:visitfinlandfail2

Currently there is no hardcore porn aggregated to the site like last weekend, but I still suppose that having #visitfinland combined with #ihaveburningpussy in your brand´s webpage is not necessarily the right brand association you want have:

visitfinlandfail

Or maybe it is and this is just a smart viral stunt to lure more sex tourists to Finland?

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Farts, Apple Watch, Racial Tensions: This Is What People Read in 2015

Another year is nearing its end. This year the most popular posts ranged from flatulent humor to Apple watch (and everything in between).

I had time to post a little bit less than on previous year, but readership remained stable and some surprises in the most read post list as well. You never know yourself what post will tickle your reader´s fancy.

This year I read lots of interesting books, saw some interesting movies and had some interesting debates. However, despite the Apple Watch, the year seemed a little bit boring from advertising and technology point of view.

I think it will be calm before storm, and next year will be humongous (both in macro and micro –level).

Or it is just the same old shit, you never know.

Most read posts 2016

  1. Ideas are like farts
  2. Why Apple Watch is Crucial For The Future of Apple
  3. Anatomy of An Insight: #Joulurauhaa
  4. Rethink Your Marketing Research
  5. Forget The Apple Watch This Is The Only Wearable That Truly Matters
  6. 5 Ways To Make Your YouTube Pre-Rolls Kick Ass
  7. Agencies Are Slow
  8. Digital Pre-Testing: Harmful Waste Of Money
  9. Just Say The Obvious, But Do It With Flair
  10. Anatomy of Insight: Straight Outta Somewhere

This will be my last post for the year.

I will be returning, whether you want it or not, in 2016.

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