May 30, 2007
When you work on a project or in an industry for a protracted period of time, you find yourself getting comfortable. While there's nothing wrong with comfort - and its related cousin confidence - it's easy to get complacent and to make certain assumptions.
The classic lesson about assumptions - Felix Unger's remonstration "When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME" - is universally true. But how often do we take it to heart about our audience?
For example, I would make certain assumptions about the demographic of the Internet audience for broadcast media viewers. Namely, I would think they'd be on the younger side - say, in the 24-35 range mostly. I was pleasantly surprised then, to read a recent Research Brief from the Center for Media Research that told a much different story.
Notably, if you add up the figures of those 45 years of age or older, it makes up 73.58% of the audience. That's right - nearly three-fourths of those who consume network offerings online are over the age of 45.
May 29, 2007
Occasionally, I'm pleasantly surprised at some of the dividends that my blog pays. For example, at the end of last week, I was contacted by a staffer at BostonNOW, a new local paper that is edgy and is beginning to embrace social media, to see if I'd like to be interviewed as a social media expert, commenting on the use of social networks in the presidential race.
A note: I didn't use a partisan approach in the interview, nor do I intend to use this blog to discuss my political views; they are irrelevant in this forum. My goal is to assess what is being done and to what degree.
I also learned that my friend and new media colleague Doug Haslam was interviewed as well; he's got a nice entry on his blog summing up his point that candidates are not using social media to the fullest potential.
I made that point with the reporter as well, likening the candidates' treatment of MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube, etc. as media buys - they've simply ensured that they have a presence there. There's little to no conversation going on with their constituents.
In many ways, political candidates are very similar to corporations: they have a specific message that they want to push out. At rallies, stump speeches, debates and public appearances - even town hall meetings - they manage to spit out their talking points.
One of the most important points I made with the reporter was this: the candidate that learns to use social media to listen to the people is the candidate that will pull ahead. Social media works best when candidates - or companies - hear what's being said and put themselves in a place to respond accordingly. Even if they can't solve a problem or completely address a concern, the fact that they make their constituents/customers feel as if they've been heard is enough to create brand loyalty.
The other major point I made is that the presidential candidates are using social networks for a different purpose. Rather than to connect to their base, they are allowing the base to connect to each other. This is a pretty shrewd move when you think about it. Create the conditions for a social movement and you'll see a major shift begin to occur.
It's exciting to see this unfolding before us - and to wonder how much it will improve in the run-up to November of 2008. But we're far beyond where we were a short time ago in 2004.
May 24, 2007
After yesterday's big announcement, I was greeted with a number of comments, emails and tweets from a variety of people in the social media world - some of whom I've met, with whom I've corresponded and in some cases, some whom I've never heard of or heard from before.
And to all of you - if I haven't said so individually yet - allow me to simply say:
I have continued to find and I firmly believe that the positive energy that one expends in a social network is returned in multiples. My friend Greg Verdino thinks so too. (Hey wait, didn't I mention this before?) This week I have been humbled by the outpouring of support and thoughtfulness, not to mention the congratulatory messages that they've extended to both me and my future employer.
I've been writing this blog for nearly a year, and I feel that in so many ways I'm still a novice, with much still to learn. And despite knowing my subject matter, sometimes I wonder if any of the material is resonating with my readers, either on a personal level or for business practices.
For that reason, the kindness you have shown and the confidence you place in me have inspired me with even more positive feelings about my job change and my writing. Even though I'm sure there are some heavy workloads ahead, it is my hope to continue to bring you valuable insights, candid commentary, frank assessments and humor on a regular basis - all designed to further the conversation.
It's the least I can do in return for your praise and respect.
May 23, 2007
We interrupt this marketing blog to bring you a purely personal post. Well, that's not entirely true. It's a personal post with a marketing twist.
If you stop by my desk, you'll find an assortment of fountain pens, usually kept on a pen holder or in a mahogany and glass display case that my colleagues have deemed the "pen humidor." I prefer to use fountain pens because they're distinctive, elegant and they require me to really focus on what I'm writing.
For about 2 1/2 years I've been at an award-winning traditional agency - in some ways a fountain pen of the marketing world. Staffed with incredibly intelligent and talented people with distinctive personalities, the agency has given me an opportunity to help clients address complex problems for sophisticated audiences.
But as you know, I've been writing about marketing in the social media space for the last year or so and have craved social media marketing projects at every turn. As my agency is small and focused on B2B clients, the opportunities have been limited. So I've managed to educate myself on the subject and to interact with some intelligent, creative and well-connected new media people, both online and in person.
My initial interest in the space was instigated from a keynote presentation at the 2006 Boston Ad Club symposium where I heard Joseph Jaffe speak. From then on, I had the bug, leading to an inexorable flow of RSS feeds and podcasts as well as the formation of my blog (I have still kept my other blog as a social media laboratory of sorts).
Fast forward to this March, when I heard Joseph speak at the Ad Club Symposium again, this time with C.C. Chapman in tow. I was much more prepared - so much so that C.C. and I were exchanging Twitter messages across the floor of the event. Joseph, C.C. and I connected briefly at the event, followed up with a wave of emails, tweets and phone calls, and finally came to a mutual decision:
On June 4th, I officially join the crayon team.
Dream job, indeed. I'll be working with crayon clients to help them understand new media opportunities and, with the help of the crayon creative & strategic team, to help build new marketing campaigns and social media outreach programs for some major brands.
As you can imagine, I'm incredibly excited about the opportunity - not only do I get to do what I love on a daily basis, but I get to do so with some people I really admire and respect. So now, rather than being filled with lustrous fountain pens, my pen humidor is going to look something like this: There will be a follow up post on "how social media helped me land my new job," in which I'll detail the steps that I took - some of which led to very interesting conversations, others which didn't pan out - all of which were directly linked to being part of the larger new marketing social network. It may even be something of a case study for putting social media to work as a tool in your career development.
Over the next two weeks, I'll be spending time with my family (in particular prepping for Drew's 1st birthday), accomplishing some tasks around the house, getting my home office organized and continuing to delve into this amazingly fertile and fluid world of new media.
If you haven't had a chance yet, hop on over to Technorati and check out the cool new interface. It's not drastically new, but it definitely feels more hip & modern.
When I was checking links to my blog, I noticed that the page which used to show "blogs linking to scottmonty.com" with a variety of search terms such as blog mentions, tags and keywords - now was consolidated in a single page called reactions to The Social Media Marketing Blog.
As Technorati puts it,
The world has changed. This isn't just about blogs anymore. And to be of service to you, we have changed too...[users want] the 360 degree context of the Live Web - blogs of course, but also user-generated video, photos, podcasts, music, games and more.
Hats off to Technorati for responding to change. But they way they went about it is what they really get credit for in my book: they listened to their customers. Power users and hobbyists alike, they collected feedback and incorporated it over the last 6 months in order to produce the streamlined experience they're offering today.
Technorati is an essential tool that any good social media practitioner should have at the ready. It allows you to see who is linking to your site and what they're saying about you - and now in more contexts that just blogs. A daily search of Technorati for your domain is all that it takes to keep these data on your radar. Just hop onto the site, perform a search, put those results in an RSS feed, and voila! You've got a daily update.
May 21, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, the new marketing company crayon announced a revolutionary campaign undertaken on behalf of their client, The Coca-Cola Company. It's called Virtual Thirst and it invites users to participate in the Coke experience by generating ideas for creating their own vending machines that can do absolutely anything. The winner will see their creation become reality in Second Life.
The folks at crayon have developed a number of social media components to the campaign, including concerts and gatherings at the Coca-Cola Pavillion in Second Life, YouTube videos inviting response/entry videos, the landing page and a panel of celebrity judges to choose the winner. Undoubtedly a creative campaign that is designed to spark user-generated ideas to make the Coke brand come to life. More information is available at VirtualThirst.com.
But you have to wonder when Coke's #1 competitor Pepsi launches a campaign the same month that features...ads on bus shelters? Yes, bus shelters.
It seems a step down from the uber-cool Second Life approach from crayon. Or so I thought when I read the headline. But as I got a little further into the MediaPost piece, my interest grew.
Evidently, the ads feature a technology called LumiGraphics that lights up the ad and the shelter. This is the first time LumiGraphics have been used in the United States; the ads are currently being run in Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, New York and Washington.
But what makes this illuminated outdoor ad stand apart from others is that it also brings Bluetooth technology to the mix. Passersby who are Bluetooth-enabled can download content such as a rap by New York Yankee Johnny Damon (!) or hip-hop artists, if you're a rap purist. The creative also encourages viewers to go to PepsiSmash.com for more music - a site that is driven by Yahoo! Music.
Not bad, not bad. I never was a Pepsi fan myself, except for Mountain Dew. Will this change my mind? Not likely. Will it grab some attention? Definitely. But to me, it doesn't invite the same level of participation - of conversation - that the Coke campaign does. This still smacks of one-way marketing. Which is fine, but I hope for their sake that Pepsi has a little more bubbling.
I say let the Yankees associate themselves with Pepsi. I'll stick with the Boston Red Sox and Coca-Cola, thank you very much.
It was with great interest that I noted the news that is reverberating through the Greater Boston medical device world today: two women's health companies, Hologic and Cytyc are joining forces to form the largest women's health company dedicated to diagnostics.
Hologic is known primarily for its digital mammography and bone densitometry tests, and Cytyc owns the market on new cervical cancer screening kits that surpass the standard Pap smear and can detect the human papillomavirus (HPV). Each has a number of other technologies so that together, the two entities form a formidable enterprise dedicated to the health and wellness of women.
And the connection to social media? I think it's a no-brainer, but in the world of medical devices and diagnostics, things can be a bit more complex. See if you can follow the logic with me.
It's well known that when women are concerned about a health issue - whether it's for themselves or their families - they first go to the Internet as their source of additional information and research. This approach actively gives way to online interaction with other women who have experienced or are living with a similar situation.
How ripe the opportunity then, for CytoLogic to get involved with an existing social network related to women's health - iVillage is a great starting point. It's a health portal dedicated to women's health.
The reason I'm suggesting joining an existing entity rather than creating one from scratch is twofold:
There are already a number of well-established, well populated social networks out there, and it's difficult to drive traffic to a company-hosted destination without a full set of offerings
Busy women have enough to worry about without needing to search, bookmark and follow www.MedicalDeviceCompany.com/onlinecommunity/. Let them get the information where they're already looking.
CytoLogic might look at some standard sponsorships of search ("breast cancer" for starters) and then branch out. They might look into co-hosting a blog that tracks someone's personal battle with cancer - for example, Boston's own Kelley Tuthill, a reporter for WCVB-TV, is sharing her unfolding battle with breast cancer via her employer's site. CytoLogic and iVillage could partner with them or find a high-profile celebrity who could do the same in a blog on the iVillage site.
A podcast for women and by women with cancer could be a powerful addition to the mix as well. Firsthand stories that underscore the importance of proper screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer would be a powerful motivator. Again, the company could host or sponsor such a show.
But here's where it gets tricky. Like it's oft-embattled cousin Pharma, the medical device industry stands at a prickly juncture of the healthcare chain. Technically, hospitals and physicians are the targets of marketing efforts by Hologic and Cytyc. However, I think we've seen a push into the DTC space particularly with Cytyc's ThinPrep system, in their drive to create awareness among women for cervical cancer screening.
Many Pharma companies are hesitant to get involved with social media for very practical purposes: primarily legal concerns that their product being mentioned, discussed and reviewed by the public in a hosted or sponsored environment might be construed as something that the company supports. You can only imagine the lawsuits that might result.
But medical device companies are a breed of a different sort. Even though patients can ask a doctor for a drug by name, they're not likely to as for a particular mammography device nor a cervical cancer screening kit. The point is they'd be seeking care and the salesforce will be there to supply the healthcare system with the demand that will have been generated.
Let's face it: in healthcare, there are no simple answers to social media programs. Each company, each product, each disease deserves its own analysis and understanding. But the forward-thinking companies will embrace new media as an opportunity to help tell their story and, more importantly, to help women get the medical care they need.
May 19, 2007
I'm usually not one for crowing about my own abilities, but I've come to realize that in social media, if you don't speak up, you're apt to be ignored. Unless you raise your hand and join in the conversation, there's enough going on online that you stand the risk of being missed (or ignored).
To wit, I'm taking a page from Sherlock Holmes:
"I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers."
Today, I discovered that I made it to #144 - that's right a gross - on the Power 150 Top Marketing Blogs list, a global ranking of top English-language marketing blogs. Not that it's a completely scientific analysis of the space; but it is at least a comparative ranking of where marketing blogs rank with respect to each other.
The reason I'm making such a big deal out of this is because exactly 8 weeks ago, I finally switched to my own domain name - but it was not without consequences. I lost all of my Technorati links and rankings and knew it was going to be a slog to regain them.
I realized that the only way that I'd get back in the game was to get noticed. I contacted Todd And, the keeper of the Power 150 list, to let him know that my blog existed. He put in through the And-0-meter and I debuted at #240 on April 3. Admittedly, this was below the fold and in the Honorable Mention category, which was respectable, but certainly shy of my goal of being in the top 150.
I began commenting on a variety of blogs, plus my Twitter network began driving traffic to my site and providing links. I joined 2K bloggers and was invited to participate in an ebook. All of this, plus contextual links that fellow bloggers shot my way based on the content I created, lead to where I am today.
That's a long way of saying I couldn't have done this alone. I have personally witnessed the true power of a social network by its collegiality and cooperation to encourage all its members to improve. I'm perpetually amazed, encouraged and humbled by the willingness of my new media colleagues - many of whom I've never met in person - to go the distance to help out a fellow marketer.
As Mr. Holmes said, "I am lost without my Boswell."
May 18, 2007
Greg Verdino just posted a great blog entry about the consolidation that have been taking place in the online advertising space. Of recent interest:
Microsoft buys aQuantive for $6 billion on 5/18
WPP Group buys 24/7 RealMedia for $649 million on 5/17
Yahoo buys Right Media for $680 million on 4/30
Google buys DoubleClick for $3.1 billion
I left a long comment on his blog that can be summed up with a couple of questions that marketers might want to ask themselves:
If this results in lower ad buys or agency services (unlikely), that might be a positive to shareholders; customers might not benefit, as the realist in me thinks that marketers would simply pad their P&L with wider margins rather than pass along the savings.
If we see a more intelligent approach to online marketing and a more comprehensive and unified method of ad creation, behavioral targeting and measurement of results we could expect a much more tightly controlled and better understood ROI, not to mention an audience that receives marketing it truly cares about.
All in all, it's a troubling trend that leaves more decisions in fewer hands. If we were to play out this trend to the extreme, we'd be left with a monolith of a media company (or perhaps a small handful) that controls everything. Scary.
To hammer the point home, you might want to check out a video that I posted on this blog last September that predicts the future of online media. While it doesn't call into account the activity of the ad agencies, it's very eerie, as it predicts the same sort of impact on the world as the latest activities.
As you probably know, I'm a fan of Twitter. I was skeptical at first, but I've found it incredibly useful and versatile as I've continued using it. I think I've been a member of the Twitterati for over 2 months now.
But it's days like Wednesday that really make me want to rethink my stance. Twitter had some serious issues that pretty much crippled it for the entire day. This was directly following a day of spotty service while I was on the road. It was frustrating, to say the least.
One competitor to Twitter, Jaiku, is continuing to attract a lot of attention. Evidently, there has been a wave of registrations as a direct result of yeseterday's Twitter-outage. Even TechCrunch has made the leap and has let its readers know.
This gets right at the heart of an important issue for all new media / Web 2.0 / whatever-you-want-to-call-them companies. They need to really ensure that they've got their technology figured out, because their audience will leave them for a competing application or service because of poor uptime. An entity such as Second Life is probably given a little more slack, simply because there are few virtual reality worlds that compare.
But Twitter can be replicated. There are a number of upstarts out there doing so. And it's fairly easy to drag your network along with you to another provider. Good marketers will try a variety of online communities and social networks and should be properly prepared for a mass shifting, should it occur.
Note to Twitter: please get your act together. You're really great when you work well. But if I have to see that cat much longer, I'll make sure he and the Bloglines plumber start hanging out.
May 16, 2007
This has to be one of the funniest videos I've placed on this blog. Usually I keep this kind of fun reserved for Friday, but by then it'll be everywhere, as it totally skewers the advertising world. Let's start the weekend a little early!
The video, called The Break Up, is about the end of a relationship - in this case the relationship between an advertiser and a consumer. Things have changed, but Advertising is still the same unidirectional self-absorbed jerk. Consumer isn't pleased, as she wants genuine love, affection and conversation.
Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions initiated this project and has a blog running called Bring the Love Back to promote the process and ideas, and both the marketing manager and the agency are contributing to it. It's genius.
May 14, 2007
Last November, at the inaugural meeting of the Boston branch of the Social Media Club, I had the pleasure of meeting David Meerman Scott, whose blog I had been following for quite some time. I knew of him primarily because of his amazing results he achieved with his e-book The New Rules of PR, and had an occasion to introduce myself and tell him a little about my blogging efforts.
When I was checking my links to my blog last week, I was pleased to discover that I made the very impressive list of individuals who Scott acknowledges in his book. If you only buy the book, you'll have spent your time well; if you check out even a handful of the blogs below, you'll be rewarded.
May 13, 2007
Last week at Symphony Hall in Boston, there was an unusual occurrence that disrupted opening night of the Boston Pops. Screams emanated from the balcony. Conductor Keith Lockhart stopped the orchestra. All eyes turned back toward the noise.
What caused such a furor at the Pops – an American institution that has been around for more than 125 years and is the mainstay of the Fourth of July celebrations on the Esplanade – to disrupt a typically fun and genteel concert?
Apparently, one concertgoer (I’ll refrain from calling him a patron, as that’s a term reserved for the Boston Symphony Orchestra) was talking during the performance and someone behind him asked him to quiet down. He continued yapping during the second piece and was asked again. When he was asked yet again - third time’s a charm – he turned around and smacked the guy who was requesting a little silence. It quickly got out of hand, security was summoned and the two were ejected, torn clothing and all.
While this is a rare occurrence - the managing director of the BSO says there’s been only one similar such happening in his 10 years at the helm – my first thought was: “If this had to happen at Symphony Hall, you’d expect it with the Pops and not with the BSO.”
You see, the difference between the Boston Pops and the Boston Symphony Orchestra is a fairly well-defined one in the city. The BSO is the traditional, staid juggernaut whose September through April season ticket holders include third and fourth generation Brahmins, the well-heeled families from the Social Register. The Pops is more of the “peoples’ orchestra” that plays a combination of light classical, show tunes and contemporary music from May to July. But even though the Pops’ audience is less polished, it was still shocking to hear that a fight broke out.
And here’s what you’ve been waiting for: the connection with social media.
It got me to thinking about how online communities and social networks are self-policing, to the point where you hardly ever hear of something untoward happening. Occasionally, there are scathing comments and even personal threats made (viz. the Kathy Sierra incident), but by and large, it’s pretty calm. But if you’re part of a discussion group, forum, online community, blog, virtual world or any other social network, if you stick around long enough, you’ll see the uglier side of human nature.
When marketers consider joining a social network – particularly on behalf of their company or product – they need to fully understand what they’re getting into. Are they entering a Symphony Hall, with its hallowed history and unspoken rules? They should be well aware of the etiquette before entering. The nuance here is that they need to understand if the space has a Pops season and a Symphony season. As you can see from above, it makes a huge difference.
And while it may be tempting for marketers to research a social network by quizzing others or making a quick observance, it’s my belief that the only way to truly understand the quirks, secret handshakes, courtesies and taboos of each community is to be a part of it as an individual first. Live it. Breathe it. Experiment in it.
I recommend that you spend a minimum of 6-8 weeks as part of a group before taking any action. Just observe and research and see how others act. Then try commenting and interacting.
Then and only then, if you’re still convinced that it’s the right place for your brand, will you be ready to launch a well-informed initiative in a social network.
May 11, 2007
You know, one of the things that I like about new media and social networks is how it's really easy to become part of a community. Even for those who are just starting out, all you need to do is raise your hand and ask a question and someone - and often many people - will reach out and help you.
It's not often that we find ourselves in such a situation. Sure, we've got family and friends who we know we can count on. But think about it for a moment: how often do you find yourself in a room full of strangers who make you feel like you belong and are willing to go the distance for you?
To me, that is one of the true strengths of social media. Which is why it's so important for organizations to remember that you just can't fake it with social media. True connections with your customers, prospects and others happen over time and because you're really part of a community. You're not afforded that special treatment when you just drop in.
Here's an example of a small community that defends one of its own:
Please click here to see the video if you're using a feedreader.
May 10, 2007
I'm just getting caught up with a huge backlog podcasts. I hate to delete anything, lest I risk missing something truly remarkable. In this case, I found episode #29 of the HBR IdeaCast, in which Paul Hemp reviewed the Breakthrough Ideas of 2007
Accidental Influentials Malcolm Gladwell's key tenet of The Tipping Point is that social epidemics are driven by the actions of a tiny minority of special individuals who are unusually informed, persuasive and well-connected. New research by Duncan Watkins at Columbia University shows that influentials primarily have an impact only on the small number of people they have interaction with. His premise is:
If the network permits the idea to spread, anyone can start it. Forest fire analogy: size of it has little to do with the size of the spark that started it, and lots to do with the state of the forest.
Conclusion for marketers: identifying the supposed influentials may be a misdirected task, and instead they should focus on helping the large number of ordinary folks to reach out and influence others just like them.
If you haven't listened to the HBR IdeaCast yet, it's worth 10 or 15 minutes of your time. Of course, it's a clever plug for the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review, but the conversations are always intriguing and thoughtful.
May 8, 2007
Further evidence that NBC is embracing new media: at yesterday's IAB conference, NBC Universal announced that they are standardizing the length of advertising in short form video to 15-second spots.
According to the MediaPost article, currently there is no set standard for pre-roll advertising, but one-third of the pre-roll ads for 2- to 5-minute videos are 30-second spots. Excuse me? What genius was initially put in charge of that initiative?
In the brave new world of digital marketing and new media you don't simply take an ad format from another channel and slap it on short video. It's akin to the rise of television some 60 years ago, when the network bigwigs were simply calling television "radio with pictures." But was more than an incremental change; television completely changed the way the world consumed entertainment.
And until now, NBC has exhibited parallel thinking to the radio/TV revolution: short-form video is nothing more than television on the Web and subsequently, it deserves the same kind of advertising. Just slap an existing 30-second spot - which in itself ignores the fact that it's failing miserably in its native television environment - onto a video that can be as short as 2 minutes in length.
You've got to give credit to NBC for changing the game, albeit incrementally. But let's just say there's a lack of common sense in the industry - not only regarding the 30-second spot, but with respect to most of social media. According to Peter Naylor, SVP for Digital Media Sales at NBCU, "We did some research with our users," he says. "Short-form clips deserve short-form ads."
Genius. I wonder how much money you spent to figure that one out, Einstein.
May 3, 2007
This week, the screen and stage lost a humble and down-to-earth friend in Tom Poston. As I was thinking about a Friday Fun Video, I came across this clip called "George's Dream" from Newhart in which Poston, playing George the handyman, imagines himself having pancakes.
Newhart asked why he was dreaming about pancakes, when you can do anything you like in a dream. George responded, "I like this."
Thinking about how this applies to marketing for a moment, it's extremely easy to remain loyal to a particular tactic, channel, or approach. Have you ever tried to sell a client on a fresh new approach, only do be greeted with their version of "I like this" - WADITWA (we always did it this way).
It's tempting to read the same blogs, trade publications and opinion pieces all them time. But I find my mind instantly broadened when I try a fresh approach to a problem, read a blog or visit a Web site that I haven't read before. Pancakes are great, but sometimes it's nice to try something new - and surprise your constituency in the process, as George does at the end of the video.
May 2, 2007
We've all had our own Starbucks experience, right? Whether it's standing behind someone who orders the most outrageous drink there is ("half-skim, half half & half, half decaf mochachinolattechai with just a dusting of nutmeg and cane sugar") or putting up with the nearly $5 a cup price in order to have access to WiFi in a comfy chair. Name your Kafkaesque moment. I'm sure you can work Starbucks into it.
Recently John Moore Brand Autopsy wrote a manifesto (with help from readers) called What Must Starbucks Do? I was in Phoenix at the time this was released, spending time with my wife's family for Easter.
To set the stage, you should know that one of the things I inadvertently gave up at the end of Lent was Internet access, as my mother-in-law doesn't even have dial-up at her house. So I did what any new media junkie would do - I made the excuse that I needed "outside coffee" and got an hour at the local Starbucks.
When I arrived in the parking lot, something struck me about this store in North Phoenix. As someone who frequents Dunkin Donuts more often than Starbucks, at first I didn't notice it. But as I watched the flow of traffic, I realized something: this Starbucks had a drive-through.
Uh-oh. A drive-through. That's the hallmark of assembly-line commoditization. And even though there's probably a Starbucks slated to open in my living room next year, I think going for ubiquity with a drive-though is a mistake.
Considering that Starbucks was founded on the premise of giving the customer more than just coffee - giving them the Starbucks experience - it's a fairly alarming development. Those grab-and-go customers out in their cars won't be soaking up the jazz, browsing the java accessories, or watching the barista do his thing. There'll be no sense of shared community that one gets (or is supposed to get) by heading into the store.
No sirree. Because in this case, Starbucks traded experience for convenience. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with convenience. But it's what everyone is trying to offer these days and it's not a differentiating factor for a brand.
It's telling, then, that Moore's manifesto mentioned that Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz is similarly troubled:
In an alarming internal memo made public, Howard expressed his concern that Starbucks is in danger of losing its soul, its uniqueness—its remarkability.
Any brands - whether they are coffee houses, watches, automobiles, toothpastes, mobile phones, enterprise software or professional services - need to evolve to stay relevant. But the ones that will succeed are the ones that are relevant while being unique.
What's Starbucks' ultimate recipe for success? According to a number of comments in the manifesto, the central ingredient is simple: make great tasting coffee. It's that simple. Make it more flavorful and more robust than any other coffee house.
The lesson here extends to any branding effort. It's easy to evolve with your customer base, but don't do so at the expense of your product. Always remember what got you where you are in the first place and redouble your efforts to maintain that excellence.
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at ScottMonty.com and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on business, technology, communications, marketing and the vast changes in the industry that impact leadership. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.