Thursday, November 29, 2007

100 Blog Posts!!!

...and all I got was this stinking badge! I'll be choosing my top 10 favorite blog posts from the past 5 years.

Dunkin Brands: Help Wanted - Conversational Marketing Visionary

In July 2006 I covered the Dunkin' Brands and Foghound search for a unified digital marketing strategy:

It used to be all about "Time to make the donuts", 31 flavors, and great sandwiches, but this week the Dunkin' Brands announced their search for an agency that could bring a unified digital front to their campaigns spanning breakfast, lunch and dessert.

This new "agency campaign" is headed up by the Foghound Corporation and Lois Kelly, best known for her book, Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Conversational Marketing. Kelly mentions the need for a leading agency with experience in big retail brands and the ability to handle strategy, creative work, and also back-end operations including e-commerce engines, analytics, and databases. So for all those shops that would love a little donut hole morsel, better get your thinking caps on and setup your own campaign to generate some buzz to grab the attention of Foghound and Dunkin' Brands.

In February 2007, they announced they had chosen Studiocom Interactive based on the following:

"Our experience in engaging younger consumers with brands online, and our ideas for positioning Dunkin' with its present and future customers was, in the end, the determining factor in their decision," noted Studiocom President, Carlos Pimenta.

So I decided to do some more research and check up on Carlos and Dunkin to see how they were doing. With an acquisition in 2005 by Bain Capital Partners and a plan to add 1,000 new Dunkin Donuts locations and 600 Baskin Robbins, I can see why they want to create better conversations with a younger audience. As the current generation graduates from college and goes onto their first career, makes their first investment or continues onto grad school; there is a need to be filled and that need is fresh, young entrepreneurs who want their own Dunkin brand franchise!

So how has the new agency been doing, let's look at how they are crafting their conversations online. Here is a video ad that is on Youtube. It doesn't look as if it was placed there by Dunkin or Studiocom, but it's kind of funny:

Next, they have launched a new website called My Iced Coffee that allows travelers to plan road trips and map its stores along the way in all 33 states where it has shops. Dunkin' partnered with online mapping company MapQuest to power the site, which also features trip-planning advice and instant-win games with prizes of $100 gas cards, JetBlue airline tickets, and global-positioning systems. Uhm ... yeah. I visited the site and there aren't any entries for Iced Coffee tales. The site is designed in Flash 9, which is slow on my home computer and they lost my attention after 35 seconds. Even better is when you do a search for "iced coffee" you don't get anything near Dunkin Donuts, but do you know who you do get???
Onto Facebook. I found a profile for Dunkin Donuts and some groups. These are the loyal youngens you need! Get in there and start cultivating the conversation, listen to them, engage them, put your marketing budget to good use. I'm interested in seeing what else they have up their sleeve for 2007-08, but it's late and we don't have Dunkin Donuts in San Diego so I can stay up all night. Line up them donut holes and make sure you're leveraging everything online has to offer.

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Top Model: Missing the Offline to Online Conversation Continuum

So I must confess that I'm an avid fan of the DVR box as it allows my wife and I the ability to watch the shows we oh-so-love, well most of the shows she loves and they kind of grow on you. We're watching America's Next Top Model on the CW and I'm wondering what they are doing to leverage the online channel during season to bring that watcher/viewer relationship to another level. So I do a search for "top model" and what do you know, they are number 1 in Google organic search results. So then I click through to their microsite, which ends up being just a directory within the overall site architecture. Strategic move? Could be, why not create a more engaging environment with its own URL? You can brand the heck out of it with the CW brand. Sure it creates more content under the CW domain and it increases links pointing into the CW domain thereby increasing link popularity, yadda yadda. Okay so maybe they did it the right way, but I was looking for something that was as innovative as the show's title tries to be by bringing America the next top model.

The "directory" provides users with many options like photos, videos, a forum, a lounge to chat with each other, blogs for users and even shows featured members based on the most profile views. Something any typical community-based website does these days. Then if you do a little more research you find out that in the Pre-Launch marketing, America's Next Top Model lets you personalize a message from Tyra Banks to one of your friends. It's kind of like a Mad Libs for voicemail. The campaign leverages the Varitalk technology. I've seen this done before with 50 Cent and Sprite. But, I had to create one and send it to the wife! We'll see what she says.

So what could they have done better?
So here's some free advice to the CW crew ... It's great that you are creating a community around the show online. Truly a good use of the standard social media tools like forums, commenting, profiles, messaging, blogs, videos, etc. Yet, the community is lacking the authenticity of the viewer's relationship with the show itself and the models that they feel they most identify with. That's the key. Each girl/guy watching may in some way identify with the struggles/successes/failures that each of the models are dealing with on a daily basis as portrayed by the show. So why not leverage that "authentic connection" and continue it past the 60 minute episodes and into your online community. Why wouldn't each of the models have their own space to blog on? They all seem to be sitting there enough, laying around, drinking, smoking, drawing, reading; give them a place to connect with their true fans. Each of the models is creating their initial fan base through each episode, but it stops there and it's only once a week. The CW is missing an opportunity and whether they know it or not, it could provide a better integrated online/offline experience for their viewers. Come on CW, work it!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Social Media Marketing ... Still No Love

I was reading Laurel's blog about the post she saw on BizReport about a study done by Coremetrics where they surveyed a series of companies to get their take on a breakdown of their marketing budget and where social media fell. I decided to check the post out for myself.

"78% of the marketing professionals stated that social media marketing was a way of getting an edge on their competitors"

An edge on their competitors and only 7.7% of their budget was going this direction. They say the waters are uncharted, they say it's because there's no way to measure the ROI; all valid points I guess. It comes down to what you are trying to "communicate" with the end consumer. Do you actually have a value proposition? Do you even have a great product? There are a lot of good products out there dipping their toes in the social media space and then complaining they don't have the tools to measure their return. Maybe it's not the best reason to invest in something because you think it gives you a competitive edge in your quadrant study. Here's my recommendations to the companies that are standing on the edge trying to figure out this how social media thing that's really been happening since the dawn of forums, chat rooms, bullet boards, etc:

1. Be authentic
2. Have a great product
3. Have a plan of action that includes metrics and how you are going to measure them
4. Tag everything, data is your friend
5. Know your audience, find out where they are 24 hours a day, what devices they use
6. Don't be afraid to test for 30 days and know where your money's going
7. Monitor, Optimize and Increase your touch points
8. At the end of the day, have fun doing it!

Planning is nothing without execution.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Future of Advertising Agencies

There's a great discussion going on over at about the future of advertising agencies and the shift from traditional to interactive to digital.

What does LaundryMEDIA mean?

I wanted to bring to light where LaundryMEDIA came from. I started it back in 1997 when I was attending Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Right the get-go I knew that going through the graphic design courses at a "conceptual" art school wasn't going to provide me with the skillset I needed to get a job out of school. So I skipped classes during the week and started LaundryMEDIA, my own web design business. I did have a shillset at the time that included Quark, Adobe Pagemaker, Freehand and a Photoshop-like software (don't remember). I had designed logos, brochures for plays in highschool, my own aggressive inline skating magazine called DailyWorx that was local to the South Jersey/Philadelphia area. I started this with my good buddy Jimmy Shuda, who now is an acclaimed skater. Here he is on video and a link with more information if you are into skating.

I bought A LOT of books on website usability, designing for the web, typography, design books featuring firms that were Swiss, German, British, Asian and lots of books on the California surf/skate design scene. I was picking and choosing what I liked and trying to decide where my own style fit in. I was laying my path. The idea of sorting through ideas, tossing the ones I didn't like aside and mashing up the ones I liked and bundling them into each and every design led me to the word "laundry." At the time I was getting heavy into Flash. I remember at the time while everyone was trying to figure out the Adobe suite in college, I was teaching myself Flash and teaching our professor during classes. You can see my college portfolio here.

So LaundryMEDIA's formula looks like this: "laundry" + New Media + problem solving + sorting + sifting + mashing + multimedia + simplicity. As I grew into more of a marketing point of view I was able to look at campaigns, projects and microsites from all angles from UI design to marketing to programming to web standards to traditional business to strategy, making me quite the hybrid talent as the time. Now a new evolution...

I'm not big into dreams, but I thought what LaundryMEDIA could mean for me now. I found this:

"Dreaming that you are sorting the laundry indicates that you are trying to understand your own feelings and sorting your attitudes."

If we insert "Media" I would say that this is my feelings/attitude towards what is happening in Media from Marketing to Creative to Business to Strategy. I like that; purpose.

I'll not only be posting here a lot now, but you can find me over at where I am a founding Gooru for this new online marketing community.