Category Archives: Random Thoughts

IABC Morning Managers Meeting

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Seattle IABCI found myself staring at the Cafe Ladro, the coffee bar at the bottom of the Bellevue Expedia building at 7:00am this past Tuesday morning and asking myself a number of questions. I asked, “Why did I leave my warm bed at 6:00am to come listen to someone speak about corporate identity?  Do I really care about corporate identity as a small business?” And most importantly, “Why would I bother to read the menu, when I know the answer this early is ALWAYS a 2 shot espresso!” The answer to all of these questions was that I had been invited to attend an IABC Morning Managers Meeting on Company Culture: How to define it, defend it and liberate it. I was excited, I had the chance to listen to Kristin Graham, vice president of engagement and communications at Expedia Inc.

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to listen to Kristin Graham speak then I strongly suggest that you find her at the next KOL panel and take a seat. She is dynamic and excited about corporate culture, which is more than most professionals can say. She is also a natural public speaker who is very intelligent and sometimes gets a little over-excited: she may curse in the middle of a presentation. The latter is my personal favorite. But all of this is a reflection of how passionate she is about her work.

During her presentation she made two points that stood out to me. The first was that “the culture of an organization is embodied by the people working there.” When you are looking for a way to define the culture, you need only to look to your colleagues. This a point that many of us boutique agencies fail to grasp, and why so many of the creative agencies tend to go under or completely change after the founding partners retire or quit.   A statistic states that almost “90% (of businesses) are out of business at the end of five years.”  While this statistic applies to all business in general, it isn’t hard to imagine this happening for much the same reason across many industries- no one has defined the businesses culture. It is safe to say that any boutique agency that is interested in outliving  the senior management needs to be memorable to clients as an agency that has more than just the best people. It needs to develop a corporate identity that will not only interest future clients, but also entice and inspire new employees.

The second thing that Kristin discussed in her presentation that made me sit up and take notice was that culture is the set of behavioral patterns that is encouraged or accepted by leadership. In essence, it is what a company will hire or fire over, which means when you are defining what your corporate culture is, do not misrepresent yourself or your company.  When you begin to develop and define your company’s culture, start by asking yourself that key question.  And realize that corporate culture is something that evolves with time and it isn’t something that you always find on a poster.

In our next post we will provide some simple definitions about what corporate culture is and provide some examples of well-known cultures.

You should wait for the new iPad

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Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

While observational research should be used to help make important research observations about changes in the market it can also be used to help make informed daily decisions.

We at Newman Partnership use a lot of Apple products. We have yet to find a use for the new iPad in our daily work life, but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t found a use for it in your company. And we wanted to chance to weigh in on how this product before next month. Many people are considering buying an iPad or waiting until a new version becomes available. It is my opinion that Apple will launch a new version with possible forward facing camera within the next two months.

This is not wishful thinking but using simple observational techniques to make an informed decision.

Simply looking at the store advertising at Apple, combined with the current offers that are being emailed, one can generate a strong hypothesis about what is coming soon from Apple.

Screen image of the Nano

Image of the Nano from the Apple store in Charleston

In these images you can see how the screens in Apple’s stores show a new diagonal light reflection technique on their existing in-store marketing pieces (you can almost see it in the examples). But this reflective technique is not used on the advertising on the iPad, which would seem to be either a mistake in the marketing of Apple products or that they are awaiting releasing new marketing material until a new product was released.

Image of the iPad from the Apple store in Charleston

Newman Partnership, Ltd. isn’t trying to say that Apple’s tablet is better than other tablet products on the market, or that you shouldn’t buy an iPad if you have dire need for one. But that this is simply an example of using observational techniques in other areas of daily decision-making and how it can benefit others.

If you have other examples of observational research then I encourage you to write or post your comments here at Newman Partnership, Ltd.

Flash and HTML – Who will be using your website?

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The first time that I heard of observational research I didn’t even know it.
I was 18-years-old, driving to the ocean and listening to National Public Radio. The program was discussing a biography about Milton S. Hershey, the founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company. He would spend a few weeks a year working in a shop where Hershey chocolate was being sold. He would meet and speak with people buying products. Now it could be seen that he was just enjoying meeting people, but I like to believe that he was conducting observational research. He was watching people to see and better understand their buying habits and desires for new products.

Observational research is a social study technique of direct observation by which people or societies are observed in their natural setting. The major advantage to this type of research is that if you are clever then you can gain quick and important insight into your consumers. But one main disadvantage of this type of research is that it changes from situation to situation, and it cannot be used to study cognitive or affective variables.

However, maybe we are sometimes too quick to go out and do expensive focus groups and quantitative research when we should take a second to consider doing simple observational research. Especially, when companies are selling products that are fast moving consumer goods where consumers behaviors can be observed.

During my first-year of post-graduate classes I had a brilliant professor, Dr. Niall Caldwell, who taught marketing research at London Metropolitan University. In the third week of class he gave us a problem:
You are in charge of marketing for a small classical church in Southern Scotland. You have been given the responsibility to decide where to place a gift shop/ informational. But you have no money or time to conduct traditional market research. What is the solution to keep on time and within budget?

The answer: “Look at the carpet.” That is because the carpet will show you footfall of visitors.

Transmedia campaign concepts

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When I first began working in Europe, my first position was that of New Business Assistant at a global PR agency based in Kensington, London. One of my first projects was for a new new business pitch (as opposed to new organic) for a large alcoholic beverage conglomerate.

The problem was that one specific brand had become affectionately known as, “The wife beater of beers.” While compiling the background research for the pitch, I came across info that a sister agency had handled the advertising rise and fall of Sunny Delight.

Wanting to be an overachiever, I called up the head of new business and asked for the agencies notes and experiences. He told me that he had actually worked on this campaign, pitching and was one of the original team members.

We became friends and one day he gave me some of the most important and brilliant advice on creating new new business. He said, “When I stated off in this agency, we didn’t really have a strategy for generating new business leads or a worldwide name for ourselves yet. To get noticed, we made a list of companies that we really wanted to work with. Then we developed entire campaign ideas behind this notion and would send it to the contact with a letter stating, ‘Hey, we don’t work for you now. But this is the quality and level of creativity that you could expect from us if we did work for you.”

In that spirit of brilliance, I have created some ideas for companies that could use Transmedia marketing to audiences to generate bi- or multi-lateral communication and advertising.

Apple – “What does the Apple do for you?” concept

Concern – Apple is a market leader and an industry changer, but it has been met with a slew of bad press as of late. From how it handled the loss prototypes to recent student posting a supposed email conversation between her and Mr. Jobs.

IdeaAbove the line advertising campaign that asks the question – “What does the Apple do for you?” – This would be a 3 part advertising/response campaign – using YouTube, TV, Twitter and Facebook to promote the ad. Invite real people to respond about what Apple does for them. The second stage would be monitoring responses and messages on social networks. The third part would be to launch a response campaign, much like Old Spice, but better. Responses would be read from industry leaders and specialists in fields that people responded in, and then the professionals could provide some of their own personal insights. These would then be broadcast over YouTube, Twitter, Digg and Facebook.

Ladurée – Youth centric print campaign for London

HeavenConcern – Ladurée macaroons are some of the most expensive treats in the world, and worth every penny. A Paris based company, Ladurée has almost always focused on exclusivity, much like all the products in the Groupe Holder portfolio. But Ladurée macaroons are still not TOM (top of mind) for macaroons in the Great Britain, and especially not with young people. A key concern with most companies are how to infuse your product with your CLC (customer life cycle).

Pêché mignonIdea – An above the line print and digital advertising campaign.
Create a renewal of cool and luxury by aligning images of Ladurée with music lyrics or humor that, much like Ladurée, has stayed the test of time.  As an emotional appeals advertising concept, it should also play to humor. The transmedia aspect could include a digitally aggregated question, “What is your favorite macaroon?” Generating interactions with audiences and providing possible content for further advertising. It could also provide important material for deciding if Ladurée wanted to accept influence from audiences about what flavors to develop or bring back the following season.

Conversations with a MA Marketing Class – My take-away (part 2 of 2)

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Social Media Life - Workstation

In the spirit of what to take-away from a class, I thought that I would add what I took away from my opportunity. First, the students are smart, eager and interested in learning but students don’t just want to be spoken at, they want to be engaged. Both of my lectures began with questions, “What umbrella brands do you know?” “What individual brands do you know?” “How many of you engage in more than one type of social marketing a day?” It took a few more questions, but the students finally did begin to participate. Nothing was worse in school than sitting through an entire 60 -90 minutes of a professor going on and on about text that no one was going to remember. But once I got the class talking, we had a very interactive a lively discussion about branding and the same with working in digital marketing.

Secondly, I learned that students at University are not a connected as you would believe. At the beginning of my second  lecture I asked the students, “How many of you are using more than one social media network a daily basis?” No one raised their hand. This was a little upsetting because this is where real world experience comes into play. We can all work in a day job that we simply go to and then go home from. But if you really want to rise to the top of your peers, then you must be willing to go the extra distance. We all know this, but I think that at times it is easier for us to get stuck in a rut and forget that. We could think of a new opportunity to promote our clients better, but instead of having brainstorming seasons at the end of the day most of us would rather head-out to the pub at 5:15 pm. That isn’t how you win awards, unless you client is in InBev and you are doing some secondary/participatory market research. I know that I have been guilty of this in the past, and, in England, what I learned is that Stella Artois really is known as the ‘wife beater’ of beers.

But the most important thing that I have come to realize from my recent trip is that there are opportunities everywhere. That you never know whose help you might need in the future, and it is better to keep as many contacts as you possibly can. My second lecture was for a professor who was my advisor during my dissertation, and we never really got along. But I have since learned that if I want to find a way to conduct Market Research on Transmedia Advertising, then he will be a key player to making that happen. So much of the world is about making and keeping relationships that you obtain along the way.

I have been asked back to lecture again, so if anyone has any ideas of what to speak about then I am more than eager to hear from you.

We have a singing Tweet, thanks to Orange.co.uk

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Last week the Newman Partnership, Ltd. turned a tweet into a song using Orange’s singing tweetagrams project. This is fun little service that Orange has provided to the entire twitter community.

Social media + Brand Demonization

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

While this latest endeavor from Orange may not generate much in the way of brand loyalty of even brand awareness, it is a fun little tool. It is an indirect way to enrich the customer experience while expecting nothing in return, a gift (as Seth Godin describes it).

However, companies like Orange and other international brands must start looking at how to use Social Media more effectively.

With the ever evolving ability of globalization destroying barriers to market entry. Globalization does cause a larger amount of cannibalization in the already scarce mobile phone environment. Social media can be a way to win back and convert new mobile users to your side.

For instance, this morning we read an article stating that Orange has no Twitter presence, which is obviously not entirely accurate. But in the world of blogs and social media, it no longer matters if it’s true or not.

If enough people read a blog and believe that the author knows what he or she is talking about then they will happily jump on the band wagon and find problems with a company.

As companies to try to compete in an ever growing social network, it will become more difficult to get their messages across to their audiences. It could be in the near future that each country has it’s own successful social networks and companies will be able to target audiences using these methods.