Archive for January, 2010

How meeting JD Salinger didn’t change my life

And what, exactly, is it that J.D. Salinger has to do with marketing communications?

Well, if you’ll remember, the opening line of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” began, “There were Ninety-seven New York advertising men in the hotel, and, the way they were monopolizing the long-distance lines…”

The death of JD Salinger earlier this week effected me profoundly.

I had met Salinger during a pivotal time in my life.  I had just finished my MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and found a wonderful job at the archaic literary agency, Harold Ober Associates.

That was in 1985, when Harold Ober was run by the grande dame , the elegant Miss Dorothy Olding.  The agency was a relic already, more like the Old Curiosity Shop than a modern literary agency.  There were still dictaphones, a telex machine, carbon paper everywhere and not a photocopier in sight.

It was that April, April 12th, to be more specific, when I had the opportunity to meet J.D. Salinger himself.  And the end of that story has something to do with me joining in with those New York advertising men who monopolize phone lines.

For the full story, well, that is something that you and I will have to discuss at lunch or over a drink some day.

You may be gone, Jerry, but your spirit is still with us.

PS — Yes, that is his real signature.

Trends in marketing, Part 2

Some more insight from our new CMO study into marketing tools and techniques.  We surveyed 130 CMOs and marketing decision makers about marketing methods, tools and techniques.  In this post and some earlier posts I have been sharing topline findings from the research.

I compare marketing last year to a deep freeze.  Budgets were frozen, projects were frozen, innovation was frozen.  Last year pretty much everyone was focused on retrenchment.  They need to justify marketing spend with quantifiable ROI, cutting out costs, re-organizing the marketing functions.

Our study shows that marketing is clearly thawing.  But it isn’t even.  Some companies have moved forward to take advantage of the situation.  And others are still in a deep freeze.  We are now seeing 2 distinct segments of marketers.  [A special acknowledgement to Frank Woei of Bellwether Interactive for uncovering this].

One segment is the “Evolvers”.  This group is maximizing the situation by seizing new opportunities.  They are prioritizing evolving their marketing to match evolving business strategies, and preparing for the economic upturn by improving their brand image and reputation.

The other segment is the “Re-organizers”  This group is still frozen in place. They are analyzing and re-evaluating everything, seeking that measurable ROI and cutting marketing costs everywhere possible.

In past recessions we have seen that some companies have a great resilience and come out relatively stronger than going into the recession.  We are now seeing evidence that the pattern is repeating in this recession.  Hyundai and Apple immediately come to mind as winners emerging in a changed marketplace.

Philip Kotler on rethinking marketing

I had a bit of insomnia last night (which is very useful when working on global projects with the need to stay in constant touch with people in The Netherlands, Israel or Korea) and came across an April 2009 presentation made by Professor Philip Kotler on “Rethinking Marketing to Compete in the Interlinked Economy”

In his presentation Philip Kotler proposes Narrative Branding a one methodology to replace brand positioning.  As the world moves beyond the single-minded 30 second TV ad, brand positioning loses effectiveness.  Kotler presents Narrative Branding as the way to reach multiple audiences and to make most effective use of all forms of media.

Here are a couple of slides from the presentation:

Phil Kotler on Reinventing Marketing

Phil Kotler on Reinventing Marketing

PKotler on Rethinking Marketing

PKotler on Reinventing Marketing

Phil Kotler on Narrative Branding

Phil Kotler on Narrative Branding

While I wasn’t at this presentation, I have read interviews in which Philip Kotler also discusses Brand Journalism, pioneered by Larry Light (CMO of McDonald’s) and Joan Kiddon as a similar approach to Narrative Branding.

You can get the whole presentation from slideshare.

Marketing trends for 2010

The marketing landscape is shifting.

The big news is the growing importance of corporate social responsibility to improve brand image. That has jumped 13% points from 19% to 32% in 2010.  While it is not a top 3 trend, it has not been stopped by last year’s economic pressures.

The growth of social media is now the #1 most important marketing trend for 2010.

That is up +6% from last year and replaces last year’s “shifting from traditional media to digital media” as the most important trend.

More to follow as we dig deeper into the data and find knowledge.

Again, thanks to Frank Woei at Bellwether Interactive for their great work fielding this study (

Major shift in CMO priorities for 2010

As I promised in early posts, the new data from our annual CMO study will be put online here before we issue our formal report.

This year the study was fielded by the good folks at Bellwether Interactive, led by Frank Woei. Last year the study was fielded by Forrester (formerly Jupiter Research).  The study is among CMOs and other marketing decision makers at corporations with revenues of $250 million or more (about 70% are over $1 billion in revenues).

The headline:

A major shift in CMO priorities for 2010.  Marketers are re-engaging with customers.  The focus on cost-cutting and ROI has given way to brand building — or rather, rebuilding after a year of neglect.

Top 3 priorities for 2010:

#1. Evolving our brand as our company’s business strategy evolves

#2. Preparing for an economic upturn

#3. Refreshing our brand’s image

Compare this to the Top 3 priorities for 2009:

#1. Achieving measurable ROI on marketing efforts

#2. Developing marketing programs that integrate online and traditional media

#3. (Tie) “Translating the customer experience across different touchpoints”  and “Cutting marketing budgets without cutting performance”

This is a very positive sign for marketing in particular, for companies that believe in marketing and for the overall economy in general.  Marketing plays a vital role in stimulating demand.  Without demand, the economy will stagnate.

Kotler & Kartajaya on Marketing 3.0

I’ll make a broad generalization.  There are two types of academics: Paradigm Shifters and Eternal Seekers.

The Paradigm Shifters are people who create a ground breaking theory and then spend the rest of their career teaching and promoting that theory — regardless of how the world changes around them.  Think of Braque, one of the originators of cubism in painting.

Eternal Seekers are the people who create a ground breaking theory and then develop an even stronger ground breaking theory.  They remain open, curious and continuously looking for a better theory as they get new data and see weaknesses in their original theory. Think of Picasso, who worked side by side with Braque and then moved into different “periods” and continued to reinvent his vision of art.

I’d put Philip Kotler into that second category, Eternal Seeker.  His is not satisfied to rest with his original models of marketing.  He has continued to innovate, rethink and evolve his theories and our understanding of how marketing actually works.

The role of Corporate Social Responsibility has been very much on Phil’s mind for several years.  (Full disclosure — I had the good fortune to work with him on a client project about the rise of socially-engaged consumers.)  It has very much influenced his thinking and rethinking of marketing.

His newest reinvention of marketing is “Marketing 3.0”, co-developed with Hermawan Kartajaya.   In the fall of 2009 Phil presented the model of Marketing 3.0 at a Kellogg school conference.  Below is the key slide summarizing Marketing 3.0 from that conference.  I’ve lifted a  this from the blog of Guy Kawasaki So full credit for this photo goes to Guy Kawasaki.

Slide on Marketing 3.0 photo by G Kawasaki

The new book Marketing 3.0 is being published  in the US this spring.  But you don’t have to wait that long to better understand the fundamental principles of Marketing 3.0. Kotler and Kartajaya.  They’ve recently published a whitepaper on the topic which you can download here: marketing_3.0 Values-Driven Marketing

Brand loyalty = Band loyalty

Last night we were down at Fontana’s on Eldridge Street to see a new band, The Hillary Step.

About three quarters through their set they made the usual plug for their next gig, the band coming up after them and a Hillary Step Fan Loyalty Program.

This is a band that rewards fans!  Get a Hillary Step Gig Card from anyone in the band.  Come to 5 shows, get your Gig Card validated at each show.  Your reward: Hillary Step will come to your home, office or any place of your choice and play a 3 song set for you.

Hillary Step Gig Card

Hillary Step Gig Card

Back of the Gig Card

If the program is successful enough, maybe they’ll start giving airline miles, too.

Marketing networking event in NYC

On Tuesday, Jan 26th, there is a networking event sponsored by the New York chapter of the American Marketing Association.

This networking is in the original forum for social media — a bar.  It’s not digital but there will be drinks.

It is at Pranna (Madison and 28th St), from 6 to 8 pm.  You can register here.

A new year, a new study of CMOs

This is the second year that we have surveyed CMOs to understand their priorities for the coming year, their opinions about the most effective ways of marketing and other issues they are facing.

The purpose of the study is to understand how marketing needs to change to meet the needs of corporations today.

The data is still being cleaned, so I don’t have any numbers to report yet.

One area that I will pay particular attention to is the integration of marketing.  Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC, has been the holy grail for a number of years.  It is difficult to achieve in part because it involves organizational structures and in part because digital technology and media are continuing to evolve.   It is like trying to hit a moving target.  Just when you think everything is integrated, something like social media comes along to shift the patterns.

Here is data from last year showing the challenges presented by internal silos at corporations.  78% of marketing decision makers agreed that “Internal silos are the biggest barrier to integrating marketing with customer experiences.”  71% agree that “Managing our brand across multiple platforms is a big challenge for my organization.”

It will be interesting to see if there has been any improvement on those measures.  Organizational barriers to integration usually do not change very quickly.  But last year may be very different.   Many companies went through reorganizations last year in response to the economic distress.

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