communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.


ON randomness

I am again speaking at Marketing Arena in less than three days. And, as always, I am paired up with a bunch of creative people which lessens my chances of ever making an impression.

So this year (suspense!!) .... I am going with the same recipe: logical deductions from existing data. Which usually gets me in the exact same place as last year - someone from the jury stands up and says, yeah but somebody is already doing this. [Of course, the assumption behind the thinking there is that we will come up with fully genius, completely innovative stuff :D which is always enough to freeze your brain for almost two weeks before the actual event...]
but this year I think I might have something good... and I have also thought of a smart way to present it and am also leveraging the risk of someone saying, yeah been there done that, by actually making it clear that some really smart people are doing that already. It's on using randomness in marketing.

Stay tuned for presentation on the blog but also, you might want to come by because it will be fun :D


On political communication in Romania

I am having loads of fun these days having stumbled on a couple of heated debates between people involved in working on political communication online. Most of them always track back to the Obama campaign in explaining why they are suggesting so many "innovative" tools to their respective candidates.
I remain puzzled for mainly two reasons:
1. It was my understanding that the major success for Obama via social/online media was NOT awareness but money - as it is normal online, where contributions are made via online payment tools, can be more easily tracked and more easily followed-up on. Plus awareness in a U.S. campaign is mainly achieved through canvassing and public shows as the nation is more of a "let's go and see the man" than a "let's watch TV and see the man" type. So, when using online Obama was less about awareness and trust and more about money.
[think about it, why bother with all those great speeches if online had been his main focus?:D]
2. It was also my understanding that online was used to obtain more specific information on undecided households and their direct permission to receive canvassing teams to get them to switch.

So basically, Obama did not use online for awareness but rather for persuasion, leads and closing. Weirdly enough (wink wink) this is exactly what online is good for.

So, what puzzles me is this:
- in Romania elections are swayed by semi urban and rural people who are less likely to miss elections because of bad weather [or good weather driving them to the closest mountain resort.]
- in Romania there is no system of online contributions for campaigns and payment tools are still primitive and more likely to be available to a small urban high education crowd
- in Romania there is no system of mapping undecided households based on IP or google maps or anything like that
- in Romania, by all logical deduction, Internet users are either:
a) smart enough to know better - forum goers, site readers and blogs and the such
b) stupid enough to not know better - forum trolls, social network afficionados and the such
c) young enough to not be able to (pay, vote) - social networks, video sharing sites etc
d) young enough to not care (ab politics, ab voting) - idem

So why are we constantly referencing Obama as a case study? We are unable to get people to contribute, we are unable to get their info to map out the country, we are unable to track their progress from undecided to voters, we are unable to make them care. The latter obviously has nothing to do with the tools of Internet but rather with the fact that online is a great "de-frauder" - meaning a medium where frauds are easily spotted and crucified. But the former are, I think, facts.

Somehow, I feel online is once more being used for insane "viral" tactics like attack TVCs which cannot be aired, games, pointless social media accounts. For the sake of this country, though, I hope people will not give their vote based on fun-ness.

Again the thrills of Marketing Arena

Remember last year? Marketing Arena and how you did help but we did not win because someone had an idea involving a hole? I mean come ooon!

Here I am again, again having to speak at MA and again, not really brimming with ideas. I thought of something and then realized the only reason I was thinking about it was that I had seen it done.
Plus, the organizers are asking me to write something worth placing in a banner [of course if you take the view that banners suck, then I don't have to try really hard... but I, unfortunately, believe that banners, when well made, work]
So now I have two challenges: make a presentation that will impress the audience AAAND get clicks...

bof. help. seriously

Performance based agency remuneration

"WTF?" you ask yourself.
Well, it's something ad agencies have been dreading for a long time and which is slowly but indomitably creeping its way up into our lives. And the ultimate proof of this "nemesis" is the jaw-dropping question I got from a client in a pitch. He asked me straight out "if you fuck up majorly, how much would you be willing to pay for it?"... fun, huh?
I initially thought, is he seriously asking me how much? Maybe he means will we feel bad? Are we willing to gather and take some criticism in a workshop? But no, the question he was asking me referred specifically to amounts of money we would be willing to pay back based on a clear evaluation of the damage our actions might create.
Agencies are not used to this. Actually we are seldom used to being evaluated on results alone - sales results that is. We like to make evaluation a combo of brand index, agency relationship, sales, reputation etc etc. Eventually, results, financial, hard-core are not really a major part of the evaluation process. And, get this, agencies only do evaluations to get bonuses. NOT to get penalized.
But with the crisis and with measurable Internet, the game is changing. Once you can evaluate your objectives clearly and numerically, you can also evaluate the cost per new customer and the money you are losing your client. So, by all accounts the client should be entitled to ask you to pay up.
And obviously there is the other view: you did do work. You do have to pay the people who did the work. You have to maintain revenue. Even if you screwed up, some work was put in the process, so its really confusing. Should you have done this work for free? If you make a sweater and nobody likes it, should you not pay the people who made the wool and the needles and who chose the pattern?

What would you have said, if someone has asked you "if you screw up my project, how much are you willing to pay me back?"