So You Wanna Know About eMarketing?

I have just finished writing my latest eBook, “So You Wanna Know About eMarketing?”. Having a little experience now with writing books, conventional or eBooks, I know this means that I’m about two thirds of the way through the process: one third = research, one third = writing, one third = corrections and rewrites. So I’m not sure I’ll get it posted this side of Christmas. I’ve also committed to writing an article based on the book for Market Leader and that has to be ready for January. This may all get in the way of my planned, long vacation.

Blog posts are much easier so I thought I’d give you a précis of the new eBook just to keep you going. It covers 3 topics:-

What is eMarketing and why is it different?
How to develop an eMarketing strategy
How do eMarketing Agencies work – who (if anybody) should be your lead agency?

In order to get to a definition of eMarketing I marry a definition of marketing (the process of adding value to get people to pay more for your stuff) and a perspective on digital.

In defining digital I stress that it is much more than a ‘New Media’. This is typical old school thinking of the sort that treated the challenge of creating ads for the new media of television in the 1960’s as ‘radio ads with pictures’.

Digital (effectively the internet) is not one thing, it is several – a distribution channel, a communication tool, a medium, a forum, an aggregation mechanism. It is effectively a highly social exchange where everyone transacts with everyone (not just business with customers) and the currency can be shared ideas, attention, information not just money.

So, if marketing is about adding value by business for people, and digital is an exchange where value is created and shared by everyone with everyone then eMarketing is:-

The process of optimizing value for all parties in the digital world.

eMarketers are different because digital is very different in many ways. I go into quite a bit of detail on this but the summary is:-

Users are more impatient and promiscuous, and much more functionally oriented. Technology is central. Creativity, strategy and tactics are merged in a more complex world of options. Everything behavioural can be, and is, measured. This creates a very different mindset especially because it is so quick and easy to experiment. It is a fundamentally social world where it pays, literally, to treat people with respect, the way you’d like to be treated. You do indeed require permission to market.

When it comes to developing an eMarketing strategy I pose 6 questions (because I have always seen strategy as the search for answers to questions e.g. what is my market, who are my competitors and customers, what are my core competencies?). Not sure how much sense this will make without the full explanation but here they are:-

  1. What are you trying to achieve in terms of value exchange and with whom? (If an ecommerce business – what is your business model?)
  2. What is this worth to you and how will you measure it?
  3. What is your programme to experiment, optimize and learn – how much budget do you need to keep back for this?
  4. Have you included technical in the team?
  5. Have you considered all the options (tools, tactics, channels) to give the best chance of ‘creative strategy’
  6. How will you manage the learning loop and deliver innovation?

I also highlight 4 key reflexes you need when developing an eMarketing strategy:-

Functionality – slippery, impatient customers demands things that deliver and digital competitive advantage is much more weighted to this.
Content – most of the time, what people want delivered is great content e.g. information, advice, tools and entertainment. No-one is going to go on to the internet just to see your great brand web site unless it delivers functionality and content.
Search – eMarketers spend a lot of time on this because if you can’t be found you’re wasting your money.
Buzz – momentum, the sense that a brand is the coming thing, has always been vital to successful brands. Apple have it, Microsoft don’t. Toyota has it, Ford don’t. You’re either hot or you’re not. In digital this kind of buzz is vital and consequently innovation (based on experimentation and increasingly collaboration) is the sine qua non of digital.

Finally I argue that there should be no such thing as a ‘lead agency’, only a lead client. So unless one’s need is purely digital – and it rarely is – I do not try to argue that an eMarketing agency should be your lead agency.  What I do argue strongly is that:-

eMarketing should always be at the top table.
eMarketing should be separate from, not subsumed by, your Ad Agency (even if they are owned by the same group).

My defense of these statements is based on two things.

  1. The nature of digital requires it to be addressed right upfront and to be part of developing the marketing strategy rather than an after thought.
  2. The way digital agencies work mean that they have a unique perspective to offer and they cannot be ‘mixed in’ with, or report to, other types of agencies.

So there you have it in less than 900 words (the full version is 15,000 – bet you can’t wait).

Any comments gratefully received but not too many otherwise I’ll never get it finished!

A Repositioning of Green Cars

Following Stame’s rather pathetic post on hydrogen powered cars and his claim that he is about to buy a Porsche (rubbish – he can’t afford a Skoda) I share a recent article from Mckinsey. In it they suggest that a bit of market segmentation could give a boost to sales of electric cars. A typical piece of McKinsey analysis reveals that different types of driving needs gives the opportunity to develop and position different kinds of electric cars. I fully approve of the use of market segmentation to reveal innovation opportunities. I am a real fan of segmentation and have always argued that it is a key reflex of a good marketer. Only by slicing and dicing the market in a different way according to different circumstances (who, what, why, when, where) can brands spot new ways to add value. But sadly this McKinsey work misses the point.

Firstly, most people are not in a position to operate a portfolio of cars. One car needs to be able to perform several functions and to be able to do so cost effectively. It must be an economical and practical car about town, a decent long distance ride, and a fair sized people carrier for when you need to cart of few mates or kids around. As the second highest capital investment that most people make, it must also hold its value well – something of a concern I suspect for the new alternative fuel or hybrid cars.

Secondly, cars are a big badge. Your choice of wheels makes a significant statement about you. Even people (and it is a small minority if you discount the liars) who say they really don’t care about cars still want a car that says they don’t care but they’re not stupid or poor either, so they buy an Audi. The Toyota Prius, which is frankly a bit of a con as a save the planet- mobile, has achieved its success because, thanks to the likes of Leonardo de Caprio, it gives you a great big Green Badge, a statement of moral superiority, albeit a misguided one. Whether you like it or not, and most do, the choice of car says a lot about a person.

I do think that the hydrogen fuelled car is probably the future, and I suspect other radical breakthroughs are around the corner. 95% of the energy a car produces is used to transport the car, not the passengers. The single biggest difference we can make to fuel economy is to light-weight cars which modern materials now allow us to do. But rather than a lightweight, hydrogen-powered Honda, I’ll wait for the Mercedes, the Porsche, the Audi or even the Renault – because they are brands that make the right statement (for me).

As a footnote, check out Rory Sutherland on A really funny, clever talk where he makes the point that if the ‘greens’ want everyone to stop driving SUV’s they must ensure that every convicted paedophile is required to drive a Porsche Cayenne!

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