Archive for May, 2007

Dial S for Servant of Chaos

May 31, 2007

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I’m pleased to announce you the second (and last) blogger-interviews trilogy. Unlike Star Wars, I can assure you that the second trilogy is as good as the first. The interviewee of the day is Gavin Heaton, the Servant of chaos (If I could, I would give him the award of the coolest blog name). Gavin, the floor is yours.

1/ What was your first blog post ever?

I started blogging as a way of enforcing a kind of discipline upon myself. I once wrote a lot — I have notebooks full of ideas, scribbles, poems and stories — but had stopped. And yet, the desire to write, to communicate had not wholly left me … so I began with what I was most comfortable with … a poem. My original plan was write 999 Theses … or one short idea every day for three years.

2/ What will happen with brands that are not entering the conversation?

Not all brands want or need conversation. Interestingly enough, neither do some bloggers. I am sure that there is some kind of graph available that would map the elasticity of conversation as it applies to either brand or market value on one axis and research and innovation on the other. For a brand that has a high elasticity of conversation, failure to engage your consumers in conversation can have an impact on your reputation … and eventually your sales. Technology brands fall into this category precisely because consumers expect technology companies to USE technologies to communicate. Look at your own posts on HP over the last couple of weeks … it is not like the conversation is not happening — it is simply that HP is not engaging.

I think it comes down to ethics … we hear a lot now about authenticity, but I think this is clearly a consumer-led demand for ethical behaviour. Consumers don’t mind marketing where it is handled transparently … and an ethical approach drives a deeper engagement with the brand. It builds trust. This is where conversation comes in. It opens the way for a deeper and ethical brand connection.

3/ What is the next big challenge for online media owners?

It is measurement and money. We keep trying to cobble old metrics onto new marketing channels and they simply don’t apply. The organisation that figures out how to measure the impact of online media on key business metrics will reap massive rewards.

4/ What is the next big challenge for advertisers?

Creating new models for communications. Many of us are still in love with the “big idea”. We want marketing to be easy and we want to use advertising as the primary tool to drive both sales and brand. But online channels (and yes, there are more than one) require an integrated approach and a comprehensive, network oriented strategy that builds momentum. We need to break out of the silos.

5/What is the most relevant book/article/post ever written on new marketing?

I don’t actually read many business books these days … with blogging there is a real currency of ideas available, and being rather impatient, I prefer the immediacy of blogs. I also love the way that conversations build upon ideas. One of the best examples of this in action is David Armano’s series of posts on creativity and blogging influence — especially this one

6/ What makes your blog different?

Wow, that is hard question to answer! In many ways my blog is not about me … when I first started I hid behind the name of the blog. I also used to sign off each post with the letter “S” for “servant of chaos”. I also commented on other blogs as “Servant of Chaos”. Eventually I had to emerge from the shadows … when I began contributing to Marketing Profs I had to provide Ann Handley with a photograph of myself and a brief bio. Little by little I became less self conscious about “my” blog. Does this make it different? I don’t know …

Thanks Gavin!

(illustration: the Hyperbolic blogosphere, quiet a chaos)

Return on Conversation?

May 30, 2007

There a lot of conversations (cf the viral garden and My 2 cents) going on about the ROI of conversational marketing. Even if almost everybody agrees with the fact that conversational marketing requires an appropriate metric, there are very few concrete proposals. This inspires me a few thoughts:

- We are very demanding about our media: besides watching the evolution of your sales figures or setting up an ad hoc impact study, there are no means to evaluate any kind of above the line campaign. How would you calculate the ROI of a sponsoring action? How would you evaluate the return of giving away expensive goodies to your business partners?

- Conversational marketing shouldn’t be per se considered as advertising budget: It’s symptomatic to see the definition of advertising on wikipediaAdvertising is paid and/or sometimes free communication through a medium in which the sponsor is identified and the message is controlled”. This definition doesn’t really apply for the conversation. Couldn’t we regard conversational marketing as market intelligence and customer service?

- Let’s assume, we need to prove a direct return anyway: I would then use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that gained a lot of popularity the last years. Even if it doesn’t measure the impact of conversation, this metric is full of learnings for the believers in conversational marketing. In an interview to CEO forum, Fred Reichheld (Bain & Company) stated about the NPS:

(The NPS) means customer feedback measures are used to drive internal priorities just as much as traditional profit and accounting measures. That’s a major change: in information systems, in the culture and behaviours of the company, and in the skills and training front-line employees need. It also has some very strategic implications, for example in how you segment your customer base and how you invest in serving those segments. It changes the whole rhythm of your business

In another interview, Fred Reichheld gives an example of the impact on a company profits:

high scores are a strong predictor of economic success. HomeBanc, a mortgage company in Atlanta, has a whopping NPS score of 84 percent. As might be expected from this score, HomeBanc’s productivity levels average 60 percent higher than industry standards. The firm’s growth exceeded 25% each year for the past decade – more than doubling the industry rate

This makes me believe that instead of trying to measure a direct return on the conversation, we should focus on proving that sound conversational marketing has an impact on customer satisfaction and that customer satisfaction impacts companies profits.

The green match

May 29, 2007

There is a very interesting debate/discussion going on between David and Jeroen. There is a worldwide action on the msn platforms called live earth about the global warming. The climax of this action will happen on the 7th of July with a gigantic concert in 7 different cities all over the world. Belgium, like every ‘msn countries’ developed a number of pages for this occasion. Like on almost every msn page there is a showcase advertising space. David noticed an inappropriate ad (an anticontextual ad, I should say) and writes:

Is this really a green match….?
I fully follow MSN’s commitment to “green” (and the Live Earth initiative) but like the environmental crisis needs all of us to change small behaviors, I think that small contradictions like this should also be under the eco-friendly ads radar

Jeroen, manager of msn.be, reacted in the comments of David’s blog (I just present some samples of his reaction but you should read the full story)

We are not experts on the businesses of our advertisers, so it would be really hard for us to judge which companies and products should be banned or penalised. For example, did you know that the paper industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world? I happen to know this because I have been in print publishing, but lots of people wouldn’t have guessed. (…) The point is, we cannot be the judge of who is ‘fit’ to be on a green special or even MSN, because we’re not experts. (….) Apart from that I feel that the negative approach doesn’t work. NOT having an ad by someone on a page will never raise any awareness

Besides, Jeroen posted (in dutch) about this debate on his own blog and on the website molblog and asks several questions:

Can you show your citizenship by refusing some advertisers? Would it be efficient? How can you determine which advertiser is acceptable and which isn’t? Will the people notice your engagement by NOT seing the advertiser on your website? How would the advertiser react if he’s not allow to spend money on your network?

It’s a very interesting debate and I don’t have a definitive answer the the questions above. I don’t think this debate would happen around TV despite the fact that ad placement on TV can sometimes be quiet anticontextual…. and quiet non-ethical.

About advertising and ethics, also read: (Ethic)ette by Gavin Heaton.

What do you expect from a great lover?

May 29, 2007

I just stumbled upon this wonderful way to compare marketing, advertising, PR and branding. Still, it should be completed.

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I add:

- Sales: If you become my lover, you receive a second lover for free (money back guarantee!). Call now!

- Conversational marketing:  What do you expect from a great lover?

- Viral marketing: Send this video showing the great lover I am to all your friends

Found via D-ring

The skinny blonde

May 26, 2007

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There is this woman, a skinny blonde, mother of a child in the class of my son who is ignoring people like me. She doesn’t know me but must assume I’m not worthy of her conversation since I never wear a suit and I drive “only” an audi A3 (I’m just a middle class guy). Every morning, she parks her enormous SUV on the pavement obliging the kids to walk on the street. Even when we walk next to each other after we dropped our kids in the classroom, she pretends I’m not there. I don’t care that much, I’m not very into small talk but it’s not a nice sensation.

I didn’t made this blog to bitch about people. But this is the exact analogy of what I felt with the HP story. They are ignoring me and it’s somehow disturbing. OK, I’m a very modest blogger, I don’t claim to have any kind of influence (I’m just a middle class blogger). Nevertheless, I experience the fact that HP is not monitoring the blogosphere as a sign of contempt. It’s pretty new, but today I expect brands to listen and it’s an unpleasant feeling when they don’t.

Untill further notice, if I have to illustrate their brand personality, I would classify HP in the unfriendly arrogant skinny blonde category.

I don’t know anything (yet) about conversational marketing

May 25, 2007

ignorant1.jpgOf course, I understood the benefits of the conversation, I understood the value of the feedback, I understood that the conversation was not very risky and has a lot of potential benefits, I understood that the conversation monetizes itself

But there are so much things I didn’t figured out yet about conversational marketing:

- Can any brand enter conversational marketing? If I take myself as an example (I know you should never do that as a marketer), I can’t think about something to say to a household products brand or to a toilet paper brand (except maybe “be sweet”) or even clothing brands

- Should conversational marketing be part of the new marketing mix? this would mean that conversation would be managed by objectives which seems odd to me

- Is there an ideal balance between monitoring initiated conversation (monitor what is written about your brand on the participative web and join the conversation) and conversations initiated directly by the brands (ask a particular question to the surfers or invite them to join a previously defined conversation)?

- And of course, should you put a KPI in place for the conversations you have with your customers and target groups in order to evaluate the “efficiency” or the return of the conversation? If yes, which one?

I feel like I still don’t know very much about conversational marketing but Alfred North Whitehead once wrote “Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance is the death of knowledge.”

The audience is listening, HP isn’t

May 25, 2007

It took me 2 minutes to post the story of Laurent struggling with an HP keyboard and HP’s kafkaesque customer service. I was amazed to see the HP-post on the very top of the top posts of the week.

No reaction from HP so far… but a few hours after the publishing of the post, John P, a very helpful representative from Dell (!) tried to help us out and gave us some directions in the HP labyrinth. This must be superman’s Bizarro world.

Maarten was the first to blog about this oddity on Blogologie (in dutch). A few hours later, I see a pingback leading to an excellent post entitled “Dell Quells HP Hell” on Steven Phenix’ blog. The post is great and even offers us background information about John P.

So, HP is not listening while Dell learned to listen and monitor and understood that everyone is a customer. Laurent decided to buy a new laptop. It’s a Dell.

Semper Studiosus

May 24, 2007

sinhua_sexy_teacher.jpgWhen I started working at Microsoft, a year ago, I realized I NEEDED to read blogs to stay aware of what was happening on the web. Being in B2C, there were a lot of essential bloggers I never heard about… and I started to read and learn. I took a while before I decided to blog again (and, for the first time to blog about our business)

This morning, I saw a post on Ryan Karpeles’ blog with the beautiful statement : “Bloggers are some the greatest teachers in the world” I couldn’t agree more to that. I was really flattered and very surprized (and extremely thankful) to see my name in Ryan’s bloggers-teachers (beta)list.

Nevetheless, if Ryan sees me as a teacher, I would refer at him the same way. I enjoy the company of this new breed of teachers much, much more than I used to feel about my school teachers.

I borrowed the title to Cam Beck’s brother. Cam had remarkable words in the comments of Ryan’s Blog:

Ryan – I’m honored to be included in your reading list, as I’ve been an admirer of yours since CK tuned me in to your blog. I am confident that you have a bright future ahead of you, and I hope you continue blogging, no matter where life takes you, since we have at least as much to learn from you as you from us.

As my brother would say, “Semper Studiosus.”

There goes my job

May 24, 2007

It’s official, there is no more media strategist at Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions Belgium. It was a hybrid job somewhere between sales, consultancy and evangelism and it was sometimes tough to find a place between media and creative agencies who are claiming the same missions.  This was my first B2B experience in the web (after 6 years in content) and I can’t believe how much I learned.

The disappearance of the function also indicates that we will less and less explain to the advertisers why they should communicate online and how they should do it. The market gained maturity and I guess most of them know it.. We also have the chance is Belgium to have very high profiles in our sales team. My appointment as a media strategist 9 months ago pushed me to make a lot of research and eventually to blog again. Through many meetings with advertisers and agencies, many conversations, tons of questions and many objections, I gained a more holistic view on new media. Even if, the more I learn, the more I find out the complexity of the internet and the advertising equations.

So, what am I going to do now?

Something new and something very nice, still at Microsoft, combining the most interesting aspects of my media strategist function (research, customer insights, meetings with agencies and advertisers) and a more strategic dimension. I’m very excited about it, this is the start of many new learnings and actions and I’ll need the blogosphere more than ever.

CK – Psyche

May 23, 2007

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The guest of the last chapter of the blogger-interview (first) trilogy is CK, the marketing hippie. Enjoy her answers!

1/ What was your first blog post ever?

When I first started I was so terrible at it that I deleted many posts (ha!). But my first one that I kept is my blog’s mantra. Just seemed natural to me that my blog should have one and it remains among my most popular posts. It explains how my blog is driven by (1) listening, (2) involvement and (3) ideas. The full explanation is here and I follow it everyday:

2/ What is the success metric you use for your blog?

I have only one metric: relationships (NOT rankings). This metric drives the lessons, fulfillment and success I experience as a result of blogging. As I tell others, and tell them frequently, “Don’t focus on how well your blog is ranked, focus on the relationships you make through blogging. Rankings come and go, but relationships evolve into colleagues and friends (if you treat them with respect and care).”

3/ What is the next big challenge for online media owners?

Share. It’s the “Share Economy” (I explain it here) and media owners are going to need to share more of their assets (be it to entice new audience members or to encourage users to create more media from their assets, like parodies and the like). Media owners need to understand when they “let go,” or share, it is then that they are engaging and truly building bonds with their customers. Fear plays a big part here. But what, praytel, exists on the other side of fear? A bevy of opportunity.

4/ What is the next big challenge for advertisers?

Listening. They need to stop telling us what we want (yawn). They need to start listening to us tell them what we really want. Sure, it’s going to need to be a dialog, but first advertisers need to zip their lips and use their ears, not their mouths. Huge challenge but again, huge opportunity. My best advice to marketers? Listen to your markets, it’s amazing what they’ll teach you (and for free!).

5/ What is the best marketing blog in the blogosphere (except yours)?

The whole of the ‘sphere is greater than the sum of its parts…if I mention some I’ll kick myself for leaving out others. There are several on my blogroll but I add more everyday.

6/ What makes your blog different?

I cover a range of topics (e.g. strategy, tactics, social media, advertising, etc.) but will give you the words that I’ve heard from others – they find my writing smart and informative but entertaining. They feel they get to know not just best practices–but the personality behind the blog. Exactly as it should be given I’m blogging in order to share with my audience since they’re so generous to give me their time and good thoughts.

7/ Does it make a difference to be a woman?

I can’t answer this…being I’ve never been a man. I’m only afforded my (female) vantage point. I’ve certainly not been more timid than male bloggers about the subject matter I’ve posted on—and, that said, I’ve been silly, too. Actually, it’s probably because I’ve been brave + silly that readers keep coming back. You just never know what you’re gonna get on any given day (hey, the element of surprise is truly a girl’s best friend).

Thanks CK!

HP Hell

May 23, 2007

Here’s a mail I received from my colleague, friend (and soon my boss) Laurent. I hope HP is monitoring the blogosphere as efficiently as Dell does.

Computer : 2.5 years old HP Presario 2500 laptop, bought on Ebay when it was only 2y old
I bought this for my girlfriend during her maternity leave so she could stay connected, even while “emprisoned” home
I took the opportunity to initiate her to the joy of  instant Messaging and she pulled her mother and half her family – living far in the countryside – to it ;-) I also showed her how to use Ebay and she spend half my salary in baby clothes in a month

A few weeks ago, the “h” touch died. I checked the web and apparently it’s a common problem with this model (or at least, people have been vocal about the “h” touch)
But, ok, she could live wit tat, h is not tat important is it?
Yesterday night the whole keyboard stopped working. “e” gives “w”, backspace, delete and enter don’t work… She was really sad

Soooo, arriving at the office today, with all the references in my pocket, I surf to the HP website to find an after-sales/customer service number I could call to solve this asap. It’s not critical, she does not need the computer for work matters, but it has become really important in her life and I don’t want to let her without that.
Ok, number found..doh, a 0900 billed 0.74€/min…?? Ok, the computer is probably not guaranteed anymore, but still.
First call, robot voice spelling me a huuuuuuge (this is stupid by the way, who can possibly remember that?) url I could check to read about HP privacy policy, press 2 to get someone answering, wait wait wait, at least, a friendly human voice.
The guy asks for my postal code so he could give me phone numbers of companies that could repair my laptop.
I hung up the phone with 3 numbers.
1st number : number does not exist
2nd number : yess!! It rings!! Bad luck for me, that company works only in B2B
3rd number : number doesn’t exist

Hmmm, ok, I have an issue there. Back to my 0900 overtaxed number (again 2 minutes waiting time to get that humongous url spelled), press 2 to get someone answering, a lady now.
Postal code thing and she gives me a 03 phone number. I kindly ask her to give me a number close to my place (why asking for the postal code otherwise?) and she tells me that’s the only one she has (??) The number? : 03.382223366. For those of you who don’t know, Belgian phone numbers do not contain 8 digits. That’s what I told her of course. She puts me on hold “to check sir”… the line was cut after 10 minutes waiting time :-/

Back to the HP website, a bit angry and bored, I see a small link allowing to estimate what the repair price could be. If I can not get the contact of someone who can help me, maybe at least I could figure out how much it would cost. Click, click, click, my computer model? of course I have the reference, click click again : 389€ estimated repair price…but nowhere I could type what type of reparation I needed, so how can that estimation be right?

HP? Are you listening?

The free (conversation) agent

May 22, 2007

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After Mack Collier, please welcome the second guest of the Blogger-interview series: Valeria Maltoni. Like I did for Mack, I publish the answers without further comments.

1/ What was your first blog post ever?

My first post wasn’t on a blog at all. I started moderating the listserv for Fast Company magazine readers’ network in early 2000 and have sent many a blog-formatted messages to the group over the years. The first post on my own blog is dated September 1, 2006 and outlined what the blog would be about. It’s still valid today as it was then.

2/ What is the success metric you use for your blog?

Success to me means keeping your promises. When I set out to start a conversation with my blog, I promised the appointment with fresh content would be daily, except Saturdays. I have kept that promise posting twice a day only on a few occasions. Part of the promise was to connect ideas and people — and I think I continue to do that.

3/ What is the next big challenge for online media owners?

Staying fresh and relevant. And understanding that co-creation and content generation can be a company’s most valuable assets. I’m not talking about leveraging, what I’m saying is that especially online, losing a certain degree of control is good for business.

4/ What is the next big challenge for advertisers?

Finding more ways to stop interrupting and start being part of the conversation. Maybe it means sponsoring event that make sense to their brands.

5/ What is the best marketing blog in the blogosphere (except yours)?

There are so many. I think the best blogs are those that feel genuine. They reflect the imprint of the person behind the writing, the experience of the professional sharing the advice, the spirit of someone trying new things in a transparent environment.

6/ What makes your blog different?

Me. Seriously, there is a certain quality you get from reading someone’s writing and thought process in this format that you don’t usually get in other media. Less polished means also that spontaneity leads to a stronger voice. What makes a blog different than a piece of literature, especially one coming from an organization, is that usually the blog is one voice, while the brochure is the result of a committee getting their two cents in.

7/ Does it make a difference to be a woman?

Maybe less online than in the corporate world. I do not know if the way I see the world and write about it is different because I am who I am or because I am a woman. My view is shaped by experiences that are only mine. I’m a natural connector: of information, people, ideas, internal and external, marketing and communications, sales and marketing, company and customers, etc. My space is the intersection of languages, cultures, ways of learning and doing things.

Thanks, Valeria!

Don’t hesitate to use the questions on your own blog. I’m curious to read other answers.

A walk in the viral garden

May 21, 2007

 I sent out today a short interview to a handfull of major bloggers. Mack Collier was the first to reply. Here are his answers

1/ What was your first blog post ever?

A post entitled “What a Hurricane Can Teach Us About Marketing” for the blog Beyond Madison Avenue, on September 20th, 2005. I agonized over that first post for probably 4 days, but I think it was one of the best ones I’ve ever written.  I was talking about how companies were rallying to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and closed with this “Marketing professionals everywhere can learn much from the massive giving that’s coming in response to Katrina. If you have a product that people want, that they can clearly see the benefits of, and that fulfills a basic human need, it will sell itself. What ‘product’ is being sold here? Hope. We all need some of that.”


2/ What is the success metric you use for your blog?

I don’t really look at just one. I would say that I probably place the most importance on how many daily feed readers I have, then number of comments, then links, then daily traffic. I think daily traffic is very overrated, as for my blog, most of my daily traffic comes from Google referrals, and as long as my daily feed readers continues to grow, as do comments, I feel my blog is in good shape.

3/ What is the next big challenge for online media owners?

Coming to grips with the fact that it’s difficult to control distribution online, and usually makes bad business sense to try to anyway.  I think the music industry is starting to come to grips with this, as we are seeing a push to drop DRM.  For online media that’s being sold (music, movies), wider distribution almost always leads to more sales.

4/ What is the next big challenge for advertisers?

I’m interested in seeing how long it takes marketers and advertisers to shift their focus from seeing social media as a sales channel, to using the space to communicate with, and understand their customers.Right now, they are treating social media as just another one-way selling channel, I’d like to see them utilize the full potential of this space by giving their customers a voice in their marketing efforts.

5/ What is the best marketing blog in the blogosphere? (except yours)

There are so many good ones, but I tend to gravitate toward the ones like Brains on Fire, CK’s Blog, and Community Guy that focus on community-oriented marketing efforts.  But my all-time favorite one would probably be Church of the Customer, because I love Ben and Jackie’s idea of the customer evangelist, and the stories they provide of companies that are embracing and empowering their most passionate customers

6/ What makes your blog different?

I try to blog about marketing from the customer’s point of view, but in a language that companies can understand. I feel that companies and their customers are almost always speaking two different languages, which means neither group really understands or trusts the other. I focus on examples of companies that are viewing their customers as marketing partners for their messages, instead of enemies that need to be separated from their wallets! This is why I love blogging, because I believe that blogs are an amazing communication tool that can bring companies and their customers closer together. When that communication begins, both groups begin to understand and trust each other, and much more effective and efficient marketing is the resultI think most companies are intrigued by blogging and other forms of social media, but only if they can understand how they will benefit from playing a role in this space. I try to highlight these benefits.

Thanks Mack! 

Feel free, dear reader-blogger of this post, to answer those 6 questions in the comments

The f*** you-attitude in advertising

May 19, 2007

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After Jeep Compass, here’s a new communication action for a SUV that is really shocking me. This time it’s Belgian ad for Fiat Sedici. They issued a brochure taglined “Every day is 4×4″. On page 9, they seem to promote the airco (among other options) with the following message: “In a near future, the increase in our planet’s temperature will be about 1,4 to 5,8 degrees…”

This car has a CO2 emission of 174 g/km… Compared to other SUVs, it’s not that much but it’s still a lot (the Toyota Prius, a clean(er) car, has an emission of 104 g/km)

Using the global warming argument to sell SUVs… what is that supposed to mean? Is it meant to be provocative? Or would it mean that SUV drivers don’t give a damn about climate crisis? Unless they just didn’t realized what they were writing…

As written on Asia Market Research: “Based on the premise that brands can have personalities in much the same way as humans, Brand Personality describes brands in terms of human characteristics. Brand personality is seen as a valuable factor in increasing brand engagement and brand attachment, in much the same way as people relate and bind to other people. Much of the work in the area of brand personality is based on translated theories of human personality and using similar measures of personality attributes and factors.”

At first sight, Fiat Sedici isn’t a personality I want to know better.

Bring the love back: What’s next?

May 18, 2007

It’s maybe too soon to do the aftermath of the Bring the love back action but I thought that 10.000 views on dailymotion was a good opportunity to talk about this case.

I won’t make a recap of the full genesis of the project (everything is on bringtheloveback.com). Geert, who carried the project from start to end also initiated the viral aspect of the campaign. Geert received the video wednesday at 7.30 PM CET and posted it immediatly on dailymotion and the movie was embedded on the bringtheloveback blog.

The first thing we did after the posting of the video was to send a mail to a limited number of contacts (about 15) of the blogosphere. Not only class-A bloggers but only good bloggers (some of them, despite an excellent blog have an authority 1 on technorati). The rule wasn’t their power of influence but the fact we had a real relation with them (I already have had online discussion or a mail discussions with all bloggers in my list).

For that kind of action, I guess you need a little piece of luck. In my blog post, I wrote that I was hoping that David Armano (who wasn’t in our short mailing list) would like the video. David is obviously a king of monitoring and reacted immediatly in my comments, posted the video on L+E and twittered about it. This was the real start of the virality. Thanks to David, the video was taken over by major blogs like Jaffejuice, Beyond Madison Avenue, futurelab, marketingfacts, successcreeations, whatsnext, servant of chaos and many others. Other major bloggers like CK, Craphammer or Technomarketer helped us big time.

But is it really a success? For the figures, I have not enough benchmarks in B2B viral actions and, honestly, I don’t really care and I don’t believe it’s a metric of success.

I care about the many conversations that are happening on all the blogs, the friendly confrontations between the enthusiasts, the surprised ones, the sceptics and the Microsoft-haters.

I care about what will happen next: How will we (Microsoft international) build on this, change our image, fullfil the promises, continue the conversation, draw and share conclusions.

Bringthelove back is allmost a one-man project. Geert worked on this with vision, method, creativity, guts and belief and managed to transform our Microsoft Belgium positioning in a worldwide conversation on advertising and the place of Microsoft in the online advertising landscape. Thumbs up, my friend!

Conversation economy: The movie

May 16, 2007

A while ago, I had lunch with Geert, our Belgian trade marketing guru and he explained me an ambitious project he developed together with Stef Selfslagh, from Openhere: Here’s the result:

The conversation economy already had its emblematic article, it now have its viral video. I hope David Armano will like it :)

Woody and second life

May 16, 2007

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On May 15th, second life users spent 1,594.000$ in the virtual world.

The fact people spend money in a virtual world makes me think of this funny Woody Allen quote: “What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet

Marketeers next gen

May 16, 2007

The last weeks, we receive every day requests from marketing students working on a mock media plan. I wasn’t at Microsoft last year but Thierry, my manager told me it was a new phenomenon and that it was very significant.

It shows 2 things: the affinity of the young generation with internet (but that’s not a surprise) and the fact that the marketing generation that is about to arrive on the market has a strong awareness of the online advertising power (in a country where only 3% of advertising budgets are spent on the web). It’s also a message to the advertisers targeting the 18-24 who should invest a little more where their consumers are spending more than 20% of their media time.

I might be the next Miss Belgium

May 15, 2007

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I watched TV yesterday (yes, I know, it’s SO 20th century). A TV commercial explained me that I might be the next Miss Belgium and that I really should apply right now. A few minutes after, right after the 8 o’clock news, another commercial presented a solution to my mobility problem: A stairlift! Even if I can’t dunk, I play basketball. I’m a 37 year old male, reasonably healthy (still have to quit smoking) with a pretty traditional lifestyle.

Despite a very precise socio-demographic targeting opportunity and while behavioral targeting solutions are finetuned by our industry major players, we still see that kind of absurd media plans. In the case of Miss Belgium, it’s free advertising space (the broadcaster is organizer of the event) but what had the planner of the stairlift in mind?

Anyway, wish me luck for the Miss Belgium competition.

Click here and win!

May 14, 2007

Last friday, I made a presentation for the Belgian branch of a large cosmetic company. We had a little chat about the web as a contest media (and the online contests overkill). Based on this discussion, I tried to summarize this topic in 4 rules:

- Keep the marketing objectives in mind and chose a contest territory: the goal of an online contest shouldn’t be to have as much participants as possible. For instance, if the objective is branding, be sure that your contest is in line with/supports your branding campaign and be consequent with your brand territory. A good example is Carlsberg who stick to the principle of luxury prices to share with friends, from private jet to Yacht trip (I really don’t like their website though) which is quiet aligned with their offline communication.

- Price value doesn’t matter. Credibility and originality do: A few years ago, my former employer bought an email marketing company. To celebrate the acquisition, we organized a contest with a Porshe as main price. We were quiet disappointed of the results despite a heavy promotion plan (much less participants than for our weekly cinema tickets contests). We concluded that a Porshe was probably regarded as “too good to be true” by our users.

- Balance effort and (potential) reward: Some advertisers forget that the web is meant to be simple and instant.  Avoid ping pongs between web, SMS and mail and endless forms. If you want to add a viral dimension, go for it but keep it as simple as possible.

- Avoid pop-ups: Most site do not include their contest in the navigation and prefer to integrate non-permanent content through pop-ups don’t forget most browser are blocking pop-ups.

Of course, the way the contest will be promoted matters big time.


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