Thursday, January 31, 2008

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Pie

I had lunch today with the president of a leading graphic design firm and the AVP of communications and marketing for a prestigious state university.  Three fairly well educated and deeply experienced pros.  Captains of industry as it were... all at the top of our games.

Anyway, somewhere between lunch and the bill we got around to talking about multichannel marketing and social media and search engine optimization and the like.  And suddenly the conversation took a bad turn.  Suddenly we were all angry about the fact that the burdens (or responsibilities) of marketing departments have grown tenfold over the past decade, while budgets have remained woefully small (and in many cases have been cut).

As a result, the marketing pie is getting sliced and diced into increasingly smaller pieces.  And to what end?  The marketing departments on the corporate and institutional side suffer.  The agencies and affiliate vendors suffer.  And more important, the corporations and institutions suffer.

After all these years, you would think things might change.  But all too often, marketing is the last consideration and the first dispensable budget item.

Wake up people of Earth.  Marketing is the cornerstone - if not the foundation - of the most successful organizations in the world.  You know, WalMart, Google, Best Buy, Starbucks, Harley Davidson.

Addition by subtraction is rarely a good idea.  And in the case of marketing it is a bad idea. Increase the size of the pie before the effects of starvation set in.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hump Day

In my vigilant drive to keep up with new communications technology, I came across an AdWeek article last evening about Vidigreet.  Video greeting cards.  Apparently they already are or soon will be all the rage.  

In an attempt to create a  hybrid between YouTube and Egreetings, they created a cheese and sleaze version of the 70s classic "The Groove Tube."

My personal favorite: you can send a video card to the girl or guy you've been wanting to ask out on a date.  As you watch a dog hump a living room chair, the voiceover asks if you want to hook up.

Thank God for Al Gore.

Happy Hump Day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Green about the Gills

If Oprah says "go green!", then what is a person supposed to do?  We go green. In fact, we are going so green so fast that for the most part we don't even know what we are doing.  Survey after survey confirms two very interesting and conflicting findings:

1.  Consumers are going green.
2.  Consumers have no idea what "green" means.

And it's not just the term green; most consumers can not distinguish between environmentally friendly, environmentally safe, eco, natural and sustainable (among 20 other triggers that indicate a product is good for humans and the environment).  And it is not their fault.

This may come as a shock, but consumers are being mislead by a whole lot of people - like manufacturers and retailers and marketers and industry analysts and associations and the media.  But it is not their fault either.

At the end of the day (and it pains me to even think this, as I am a "less is more" kind of guy when it comes to the government), the federal government really needs to step up to the plate soon on the issue of "green." 

The EPA's DfE program is nice, as are all the other industry  "certification" and "seal" programs designed to help manufacturers and consumers and all the groups in between.  But none of it has any real value.  Until the federal government, using scientific support, establishes truly meaningful guidelines, we all may as well be playing lawn darts in the dark. 

But is that really likely to happen?  (uh, no) Consider that the U.S. FDA refuses to even attempt to define "natural," citing limited resources and lack of consumer interest as primary excuses.

Truth is, we better all buy flashlights so we can see where the Jarts are coming from.  If we are counting on the government to solve this, then we will only be disappointed.  Which brings us back to the manufacturers and the marketers and the analysts and the industry associations and the watchdog groups and the media and the consumers.

If consumers - first individually and then collectively - begin demanding (with their wallets) that manufacturers be clearer and more explicit with their green promises, the dominoes will begin to fall in a logical sequence.  And since the media in general are already growing weary and wary of green claims, they will be more than happy to encourage consumers and report exclusively on manufacturers with a real story to tell (one that is backed up with scientific evidence).  

In the meantime, the idea of going "green" is a good one.  Even if Al Gore is wrong...  Even if the climate change is only temporary or isn't caused by a dirty environment... It can not hurt to heave a healthier, less toxic planet.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Big Idea #1

My father always told me that if I didn't have anything good to say, it was best not to say anything at all.

Thanks dad!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

We come in peace


Tired of all the mindless drivel about "Web 2.0" and "marketing in the 21st century" and the vital importance of "social media" and "online PR" and blah, blah, blah, blah blah?  Tired of being talked down to by invisible blog thugs?

Me too. 

Prepare to be TINGed with simple speak about big ideas.

Tune in tomorrow for a blast of fresh air.