Sunday, November 16, 2008 & modern online marketing

As the calendar flipped over to November 5, a new website emerged, I was one of many marketers drooling at the seamless transition of to the new presidential site. ClickZ questions whether this is a government site or whether it is a marketing site? Both. And isn't that wonderful!

Marketers' niche is rooted in the belief that strong communication can build relationships and meet goals (campaign goals, or in this case, a country's goal to rebuild itself). Effective, proactive, integrated marketing efforts of the Obama campaign have resulted in the connection with and motivation of a base supporters that respond to this multi-platform approach of communication (tv ads, email marketing, snail mail, guerilla, branded attire, social media, micro site fundraising, etc.) As the campaign closes and the transition team plans for Obama being in the White House as of early January, one wonders, what will come of this user generated content and database Obama's team has collected?

Effective database marketing once Obama is in office could be an effective way to continue to motivate the masses on a perceived one-to-one basis. Example: during the campaign, as we neared closer to 11/4, the personalized emails "dear jennifer" I received from Obama and his staffers somehow helped increase my connection with the candidate. It is the same vein as receiving an autograph personalized to you from a celebrity or as a child getting a note from Santa, "Wow, someone that important will write to ME?". It is a basic tactic, but could be a powerful tool once Obama is president.

Consider his database that has been collected through marketing efforts. He has full names, mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numberes, and perhaps has gathered information on the types of issues that resonate with you as a supporter. Perhaps on my file, at some point while registering on site it tracked that I was very interested in eco-related issues. How powerful if within his first month in office I receive customized email blasts that say, 'Hi Jennifer. I know you're passionated about the environment. Alternative energy is one of my top priorities as well. Click here to learn more about ideas we have to help solve our energy crisis.'

Further more, Obama's database can be utilized to motivate the masses that went door-to-door encouraing people to early vote, or the thousands of folks who assisted with polling or telemarketing campaigns. This base of volunteers currently are experiencing a void with the campaign being wrapped up, and Obama has an opportunity to pull the country together as a whole and focus energy on all of us working together through volunteerism to make it a better place.

Universal healthcare can't happen in a siloh. Efforts to help the homeless can't be achieved by a few volunteers. Database marketing combined with a motivated base can help Obama lead this country to accomplish great things and once again bring about a culture of togetherness and volunteerism. Being a communty organizer and an effective communicator is what this country needs to heal.

What a 'goosepimply' time to be alive in a country that is on the brink of being turned around... into something once again as Americans we can be proud of again.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Marketing headlines in a 'Debbie Downer' economy

Although Albuquerque as a whole has been buffered by the economic crisis to a great degree, local murmurs of cut-backs and lay-offs are increasing. Within my own network, over the past few weeks I learned of a minimum 5% cut-back on IT spending by the State. Lionsgate films has nearly backed out of moving production facilities to Rio Rancho. Multiple local papers are subtly pushing out long-term staffers. Even the Rail Runner train that will connect Albuquerque and Santa Fe is struggling due to its funding being contingent upon retail sales being slow (they receive a % of the retail tax revenue). Times are tough.

Over the past few weeks I was engrossed in the election and fell behind on my RSS feeds. While combing through media articles in mass quantities I realized nearly every post was negative. List below summarizes headlines from recent media / marketing news stories:
* Walt Disney's profit fell 13% in the fiscal fourth quarter as it braced for what it expects to be a tough year ahead for all its businesses.
* Luxury sales dropped 20% in October from a year earlier, according to data from MasterCard.
* Rodale, the publisher of Men's Health, Prevention and Runner's World, is cutting 111 jobs as ad sales continue to decline.
* Most of the largest newspapers saw a decline in print circulation in the six months through September.
* New York Times said it will consider cutting its dividend. The company also reported a 51% decline in third-quarter net income.
* Paramount Pictures' decision to delay two big holiday films could be an early sign of Hollywood's retrenchment amid the economic crisis.
* Sumner Redstone's National Amusements is in talks with lenders, suggesting the holding company is still grappling with financial issues.
* Tesla Motors is cutting staff and delaying the introduction of its second battery-powered vehicle, the Model S, until 2011.
* Investor AB net loss widened to $1.2 billion for its third quarter as weaker equity markets pressured the value of its holdings.
* Booksellers are rushing to push financial advice titles, as worries mount over the crisis in global markets.
* The New York Times finalized plans to shut down the Web site of the International Herald Tribune. Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle and Cleveland Plain Dealer announced staff cuts.

So who does well in today's economy?
* Inexpensive alchol: U.S. consumers are buying more wine in the $9 to $12 price bracket — with sales in this range up more than 12% from last year, according to Nielsen.
* Fatty foods (source)
* Utility companies & oil industry
* Video games (at-home entertainment for families): Key growth engines will include online and wireless games, new-generation consoles and the burgeoning in-game advertising business (source).
* Netflix has maintained relative stability in lieu of market volatility
* Shoping comparrison search engines
* Universities - surplus of jobless professionals using time period to go back to school
* Online Courses
* Prescription drugs: less jobs = less healthcare = full price meds... Come on O'Bama, fix everything for us :-)

FlickR: The modern emoticon

Not to get all 'Zarathustra' on you, but word on the street is 'blogs are dead'. At least according to Paul Boutin's recent article in Wired Magazine. Boutin contends that Twitter, FlickR and Facebook are in, and blogs are 'so 2004'. Sounds like something a spawn of Meal Girls and WoW would suggest?

So where does this leave the average business or entity with an online presence? Confused, I'm sure.

FlickR just celebrated the inclusion of the 3 billionth image uploaded to its 4-year-old site. Their platform is engaging, and it is no wonder they have experienced such exponential growth (perhaps one of the only growth areas in Yahoo's portfolio of investments).

Over the past year, I've started to appreciate the value of FlickR as a social and cultural tool. With a museum client of ours, we became aware of the utilization of FlickR as a tool to develop more engaging exhibits. A specific example at a national level is the Library of Congress' FlickR site. They've uploaded their photography archive online and encourage people to 'tag' images with their own comments and memories of that moment in time. Although many of the anecdotes are intriguing, other comments are reminiscent of a transcript of Beavis and Butthead (moderators are needed - badly).

We're also seeing integration of FlickR with map tools like Google Maps to bring historical moments to life w/ a geographical reference point. Later in '09 I look forward to sharing more information on a specific website project that will accomplish this in a very engaging manner.

I suppose the bottom line is, FlickR - you might be the 'it' kid in school at the moment, but what does this mean in context with how people are evolving and adapting to the Internet culture?

Are web enthusiasts getting more expressive or getting dumber? Has the blogging form of narcissistic rants evolved into truncated blogging on Twitter in conjunction with including an image to express oneself in as few words as possible? Is FlickR the sophisticate's emoticon?

As likely suggested by my often incorrect grammar and misspellings, the art and desire for eloquent writing as a form of expression might be behind us and the current replacement is fragmented through several different sites/platforms focused on imagery, video, short-handed mobile blogging, and social networking. Will an ultimate tool or site be developed in the near future that takes all these ways to express oneself and funnels them down?