Archive for December 2008

Creativity and new media

December 23, 2008

Perhaps in no other area of marketing than new media is the proper use of creativity more important. Why? One of the things we’ve learned this term is the power that new media has to engage and provide a deeper connection with the intended audience. However, attention is fleeting for those marketers who don’t understand how to incorporate creativity effectively in new media. Each form of new media has its own criteria for creative. From short films to blogs, the right balance of creativity is key.

Take a look at the Cnet blog on this topic: http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-6114391-7.html In the article, it notes that creativity is really the key to developing a winning message. This means that although marketers are presented with powerful tools with new media, it’s only really effective if marketers know how to use that tool effectively. Creativity is further explored here, at http://www.nmc.org/vodcast/why-creativity-matters.  In this blog, Dr. Larry Johnson, CEO of The New Media Consortium, ruminates on why it’s so critical to develop content with a keen eye towards creativity in his thoughts on virtual world ‘Second Life’. While it’s not a direct parallel to new media, Second Life is a form of social networking. It’s a good example of how new media is influencing our lives in multiple ways, from work to leisure.

Social networking & jobs

December 22, 2008

Thanks to the rise of new media, sending out resumes via email is now like cold-calling. This is something that’s hit very close to home this term, as my company teeters on bankruptcy. When things started to go bad back in September, I updated my resume and send out, literally, 39 copies in response to job adverts online. I got one response. Keep in mind, I have 12 years of solid experience at some of the world’s largest and most prestigious asset management firms. It’s just that finance has been hit tremendously hard in this economy–and because of the sheer volume of people looking for work it’s “who you know”, not “what you know” right now.

And that’s where social networking comes in–and I’ve certainly paid the price for not getting more involved with social networking. When people think of social networking things like Facebook or Myspace come to mind. But for professionals, sites like LinkedIn can prove a valuable resource for networking and finding employment opportunities. I found an article that talks about how social networking among professionals fosters a sense of community, and lets people with like-minded interests connect and form groups. http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2008_10_24/caredit.a0800156 The article is geared towards science professionals, but the lesson applies across industries. Participating in online networks through sites like LinkedIn helps you stay in touch with former associates, that may pass along job leads or recommend you for specific jobs. Ignoring the power of social networking is foolhardy today–and I really didn’t realize how much of an impact it can make.

Social networking is

Advergaming

December 22, 2008

Growing up I played a lot of video games. This was back in the 1980s, before video games took on a level of realism that’s simply stunning today. I remember playing the games, which seem basic from a graphics perspective but were quite cutting edge then, and getting so involved in them. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of my future career in marketing, but I remember thinking that the games would be so much more realistic if they had real-life icons in them, like a McDonalds or Sears or something real.

Fast forward to today, and sure enough advergaming is really mainstream. The games of today are peppered with ads that are so well placed and integrated, they serve to pull us into the fantasy world that video games create, only to make them more realistic. These are cost effective and powerful ways to reach specific audiences, and its unobtrusive. Again, following the theme of blurring that marketing line, advergaming is the epitome of entertainment advertising.

There’s a good advergaming blog that I stumbled upon, http://advergamingtoday.blogspot.com/. The blog’s author captures why advergaming is so effective:

What truly makes advergames a unique new medium is their ability for consumers to interact with the products in a fun and engaging manner. The internet and video games capture a tremendous amount of attention from today’s youth, and not using these to their fullest extent would be a waste. Advergames are quite different from traditional media and even product placement because of the interactive quality”

Interactivity–your audience is already engaged when playing a video game. They are already tuning out other distractions. Their minds go into a place that’s not bound by realism. It’s really akin to hypnosis, where you can get so engrossed in the game you lose track of time. Ask an online Madden player if they’ve ever spent an entire afternoon playing Madden 08, and totally lost track of time. In that mental state, those ads really do resonate. And the best part–the consumer actually wants those ads put in the game. It’s win-win for the consumer and the advertiser.

Youth marketing to children

December 22, 2008

We covered marketing to children through emerging media, and it’s definitely a topic that generates controversy. Having a two month old son has certainly changed my perspective on this topic, because before I really didn’t see the harm in marketing products that I considered to be benign (like cereals, or toys) to children. After all, business is business and companies depend on sales to survive. But now I see it a little differently. Companies have the power to do such enormous good through marketing, if they are in a business that does help children as well as produce enough profits that it can survive.

That’s why I chose Lego as an ideal company that does both. Surf www.lego.com, and you’ll see what I mean. There’s so much fun content there for children–and it also stimulates their creativity. What’s the harm in that? Nothing, in mu view, except the broader picture of what marketing to children in a capitalistic society brings: children that have a desire for products. This topic was very well covered in an article through Newsvine: http://nearing.newsvine.com/_news/2008/12/04/2178047-psychologists-challenge-ethics-of-marketing-to-children. Child psychologists fear that marketing to children produces children that have a growing, insatiable desire for consumer goods. This is certainly a valid concern–but isn’t it a byproduct of capitalism? Adults have an insatiable desire for consumer goods. It’s the society that we’ve created, and we need to live with the consequences.

What does that mean for marketers and the boundaries when it comes to children? Where is the real boundary?

Company blogs

December 22, 2008

One of my favorite company blogs is Nuts About Southwest: http://www.blogsouthwest.com/. Southwest really knows what it’s doing when it comes to blogging. Take a look at the site and click some of the links. You’ve got images, company personnel postings, passenger postings, videos–it’s literally a hub if information about Southwest. One of the best things the blog does is that it sets the tone of the airline–it’s not stuffy, but friendly, customer-centric and fun.

The Southwest blog enhances the company’s image and promotes community and interactive exchanges between customers and employees. Again, to repeat on a point I’ve made throughout my postings, the line between marketing and communication/entertainment is blurred expertly.

Look at all the links to social media as well, along the blog’s footer. From there, you can link to the Southwest YouTube site, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Southwest is maximizing the use of new media, by connecting their communication portals and providing easy access to all through their blog. The content is fresh, entertaining and informative. What more could you want from a company blog?

Podcasting

December 22, 2008

Podcasting is another powerful new media tool that we covered this term, and it’s something I’ve been trying to integrate into my current job. One of my company’s core markets is the academic library system. To reach the buying audience, a growing number of our competitors are introducing podcasts as a way of communicating new product releases, build recognition and generally integrate their company into the daily or weekly working life of the reference librarian (the buyer).

Podcasts are very popular in education aside from marketing purposes, and that makes it a great tool to reach this market. Teachers and students can use podcasts to share information, or download a lesson if a student is absent from a class. Because the medium is used to provide information in this manner, students and professors are used to receiving information through podcasts. This familiarity makes them more likely to influence that audience, provided that the podcasts are well planned. On that note, take a look at this synopsis of how to create a truly effective podcast: http://podcastingscout.com/

The overall message is that really effective podcasts are brief and to the point, yet informational and engaging. The better podcasts make use of bullet points, short sentence paragraphs that highlight key messages, use supporting images and get to the point quickly. In addition, you need to keep the audience engaged. One of the things I’ve taken from our class this semester is that the fundamentals of successful marketing–engaging, relevant content–are just as important in new media, whether it’s podcasts, blogs, short films, or social networking. Yet with new media, the consumer’s attention span is short, so marketers don’t get second chances to connect with their audience.

Multicultural marketing & ethics

December 21, 2008

One of the more interesting topics we covered this term dealt with new media marketing to multicultural groups, and the ethical questions that arise. It’s an interesting and timely topic, as the demographics in the U.S. are changing. One of the statistics cited in our discussions noted that the growth of ethnic groups in the U.S. is impressive, and that during this century today’s minorities will be come the majority, as white European immigration declines.

What’s really interesting to me is how these different cultural groups bring their own influences and biases towards products and how they receive marketing. Take, for example, the Hispanic population. They are typically brand loyal, and for those that strongly identify with their Hispanic origin they are more likely to buy from Hispanic vendors. What does that mean for marketers? It means that companies need to take a serious interest in the Hispanic and other cultures because these groups are looking for “real connections”, not quasi-marketing that looks Hispanic.

I’ve seen this influence where I live. There’s an new mall, called Plaza Fiesta, which has been created to appeal specifically to the Hispanic community–http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2008/06/16/story5.html. The mall does, however, also need to draw in other ethnic groups and has numerous “mainstream” retail chains, like Bass Outlets, Ralph Lauren and Rack Room Shoes. It’s truly a multicultural mall, with a central focus on the Hispanic community. 20 or even 10 years ago you’d have never thought such a mall could exist in South Carolina.