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Let’s call the whole thing off July 31, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, digital strategy, marketing, technology, web 2.0.
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Whats wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture?

Australian music manager Glen Wheatley’s latest project Stripe is set to launch. It is a digital radio service which will have 40 stations up by Christmas playing over the 3G network to any 3G enabled phone, and 100 by the end of 2009. Those wanting to have ad-free radio on their phones will apparently part with a little less than $10 a month for the privilege.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so painfully short-sighted. All together now: the epic, epic lulz.

It betrays just how deeply bereft of real strategic insight media is – and how sorely the media industry needs fresh DNA, instead of old dudes with the same old lame ideas.

Thanks Umair. Mind you he didn’t write that about Stripe, he wrote that about a misguided Wired article where old media guy #1 was berating new media guy #2 for spending time in Second Life as it wouldn’t help him sell more Coke. The point remains though.

Let’s do the why’s together so we all take something away:

  1. Why would I pay $10 a month for radio on my phone?
  2. Particularly me who does not listen to radio at all?
  3. Why in an age of increased personalisation will I believe you can satisfy me with someone else’s taste-making?
  4. Why create a service that relies on early-adopter up-take when the early-adopters do not listen to radio or value music in pure ones-and-zeroes terms?

Now, I imagine much of the VC money has already been sunk, unfortunate for those involved. If you guys with the money could just begin to understand that broadcasting in a one-to-many model is dying and being replaced with niche-casting and many-to-many, you might have a hope of creating something with lasting value.

This last quote from Programming Director Jarrod Graetz is killer:

“A great advantage of our service is that you don’t need a new device or gadget to hear us. If you’ve got 3G coverage, you can access your favourite music and programs from your (3G) mobile phone, and of course on broadband internet. No ad breaks, less interruptions, more music. We position ourselves as “What you want on radio” because we believe Stripe delivers what Australia wants.”

The bolding is mine (the lack of vision entirely their’s). I may not need a device to hear you, but I have a device anyway, it is called an iPod. It comes with NO interruptions and ONLY my favourite music and programs. See, it doesn’t actually matter if you do serve up what I want on radio, because I don’t want radio.


Image courtesy of Dave Goodman, with thanks to compfight.

What I be is what I be July 30, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in web 2.0, work/life.
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Some things just change you

Some things just change you

I’ve had this idea for a while around customised experiences, specifically driven by the increasingly tailored existence we live in our online lives; everything we want, nothing that we don’t. This of course stems back into offline notions of luxury and living life the way you wish, but I’ve been telling a few people that, more and more, people are going to expect those tailored services in every facet of their lives because, well, once you’ve had it, there’s no going back.

There’s a natural barrier that exists when you stop dealing in ones and zeroes, so the challenge is on to find ways of delivering customised experiences on a mass scale. “Remember you’re unique,” as the saying goes. “Just like everyone else.”

This thought came to mind as I watched a TED talk, Reed Kroloff on movements in architecture and the falling cost of building stranger and stranger shapes due to the increased ability to automate the construction of materials and parts of the structure. It’s always exciting to see your own ideas echoed elsewhere in the world, and even more so to sit here connecting seemingly random dots and pieces of information into a much larger whole.

Image courtesy of pulpolux, with thanks to compfight.

Am I not your girl? July 28, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, marketing.
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...talk about wide open spaces...

In almost the only thing I do that can be classed as “fiscally responsible”, I have an ING savings account. Money goes in and it doesn’t come out for any reason (except maybe the Galapagos Islands which a friend recently suggested we visit…).

One of the things I like(d) about ING was the lack of correspondence – their involvement in my life is at exactly the level I wish it to be. They haven’t pushed for a single thing more, content to hold my money while it earns a little interest and leave me be. I thought we had an understanding.

A few days back I got hit with the “latest” issue of their newsletter called The Juice. I say “latest” because I don’t remember them ever sending me one before. There’s a brief note from Vic Wolff Executive Director, Marketing and Communications who gives me the only thing remotely interesting to me: the interest rate has gone form 6.90% or 7%. Great – if that means what I think it means, truth be told I have no idea how that impacts my savings day to day, it’s like telling a homeless person they could offset their carbon emissions by 25% if they begged on the sunny side of the street.

  • They tell me they’ve paid out $5 billion dollars in interest since starting. Not to me. So I don’t care.
  • Why using Billy Connolly in their commercials is such a good fit for their brand. I do not care.
  • A note about donating $50k to a research project to better understand the snubfin dolphin. I do not care – understand I’m all for marine conservation, I’m just a bit more concerned making some fundamental alterations to the way we live in order to make sure my kids (when I have them) can see any dolphin somewhere other than a textbook.

ING, know you want to have a chat with your customers, but your opening salvo was a bunch of stuff you wanted me to know about you. And I don’t care what you look like, that doesn’t get a drink bought, and it certainly doesn’t get a conversation started.

Image courtesy of refractionless, with thanks to compfight.

This is something we gotta get used to July 27, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, marketing.
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One of the best quotes I’ve heard in a while is the following (which I’ve already talked a little bit about before)

A great brand is a story that is never completely told.”

Absolutely true. 100%. The question though is this: how is your brand’s story being told? If, like me, you believe markets are conversations, then your story is being told by the people you’re selling to. This inevitably requires products and services worth talking about.

I’m seeing a lot of companies touting themselves as creators of brand strategies for their clients; this is short-term thinking at its best. Brand strategy is pointless (and by pointless I mean it does not create lasting value, those of you creating value simply for your numbers this quarter can exit stage left, you’re not needed) if you do not have anything valuable to offer.

Maybe if we as marketers got a little more brave and told our clients when they didn’t have a product worth marketing, it might raise the bar of the goods we were brought. Better yet, I want to get inside people’s businesses and help them create products and services worth talking about.

Do that and you can dole out the marketing budget into the product team’s Christmas bonuses. Smiles all around then.

Image courtesy of Steve Wampler, with thanks to compfight.

Games that never amount to more than they’re worth July 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in strategy.
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No use crying over...never mind.

Having to play catch-up on the myriad of feeds I subscribe to is occasionally a little over-whelming, as I’m sure it is for most folk. I’m increasingly spending more time on weekends catching up though rather than reading the paper, a strategy I think I’ll alter somewhat and just seek out the insight, after all, news is news, right? Unless of course it is “news“.

Reading through this piece from Seth on low-hanging fruit reminded me of a client I was with just recently. I obviously can’t talk about the particulars of their business, so we’re going to go with an analogy.

  • Mary makes a dollar on every scoop of ice-cream
  • She also makes fifty cents on every cone she sells it in.
  • Lastly, she also sells hot dogs, where she makes three dollars on each one

The ice cream and the hot dogs (note: not hot dogs) cost the same for Mary to make, so there is no important difference there. Mary’s customers are quite interesting. They live in a world where the sun is always shining, and it never gets cold, so people always want ice cream. They love their hot dogs too, but they represent just 5% of her business. Understand, Mary’s hot dogs are great, as good as any you’ll find in her neighbourhood.

What people do though is go to Joe’s for a hot dog, and they come to Mary’s shop for ice-cream afterwards.

The problem is Mary’s shop is called The Ice-Creamery, and down the other end of the street is Joe’s Snack Shop which has a sign out the front, a big picture of a hot dog. People don’t know they can get hot dogs from Mary, they got there for ice-cream.

Mary asked me to help her sell more ice cream. What I’m actually doing is helping her sell more hot dogs, and we’re doing this by simple word of mouth; turns out nobody knew Mary sold hot dogs in the first place.

I say the above to make this point: what is it you (“you” can be you as an individual, a business, whatever you like) are known for? Are there other things you do? Do you do them as well as your competitors do? Do you wish you had that extra piece of business?

Sometimes just telling them can make all the difference in the world.

Image courtesy of Caro Wallis, with thanks to compfight.

Every day is a winding road July 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing, work/life.
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So I had a point, somewhere in there I had a point, and there’s a gem of a good idea but it will take a while to deliver it a little more succinctly. But that’s OK, I don’t mind taking a little extra time being largely right.

The point is, the more interested you are in the world around you, the more likely it is you’ll share common interests with the people you meet. If your world view fails to grasp interests beyond yourself, then you had better hope you come into contact with people who are at least as interested in you as you are, or else you’re in trouble.

This is the crux of my latest online piece over at Marketing Magazine.

The conversation [focusing on an individual’s fashion] only extends to that moment, to the outfit which is noticed and commented on. The conversation about others involves the designer (say Chistopher Bailey at Burberry), their own path to where they are (working under Tom Ford at Gucci), the campaigns around the revitalisation of that brand (Kate Moss), how it ties in to classic British fashion and the campaigns hark back to great David Bailey photographs of British icons. It extends to the quintessentially British elements of fashion, the things unique to that most unique of isles.

You can’t fake genuine curiosity or interest in the world around you, and the best marketers in the coming age will be the ones that draw the parallels across industry and culture, born from their own experience being simply fascinated with the world around them.

Image courtesy of nobleIgnoble, with thanks to compfight.

If there’s somebody callin’ me on, she’s the one July 21, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in work/life.
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It’s a strange road to walk in advertising for a guy whose dad was gone 2 weeks of every month as a kid, off working with the poorest people he could find, teaching them how to farm and look after their own children Now the middle child of three sons spends part of his day figuring out how to sell confectionery to more people. Marketing can be great fun, but it is such nonsense some of the time.

I’ve just watched an amazing talk from the TED series about a photographer who found a young girl, a product of the Korean war, and gave her a new life in America. I’m not much for crying, but I have tears streaming down my face as I write this. It’s an amazing talk, and a good reminder of how far out of whack our lives can get. Please watch the below video, it is extraordinary.

Free business plan – SMS Coffee July 21, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing, work/life.
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The lines between marketing and business strategy are, in my mind at least, getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Note I am placing a premium on value over a better campaign to sell a lousy product, but that’s just me. If businesses suddenly created nothing but products worth talking about, everyone in the ad industry would need to go and find new jobs (best of luck to them).

Mmmmmm...coffee....*homer drool*

Mmmmmm...coffee....*homer drool*

Friends who know me know I am passionate about coffee. I regularly go to tastings which are held a one of my favourite cafes here in Melbourne, and while I have hauled myself back to a respectable two cups a day, I savour every minute of it and look forward to the next.

So I was thinking about how people could enjoy more coffee, more conveniently. I’m a big believer that the future isn’t online, it is mobile, a platform that encompasses everything the internet has brought to us without needing to be tied to a desk. I’m already starting to live that life, but we’re only a short way through the wealth of possibilities.

With this in mind, I want it to be easier to buy coffee. Particularly if I’m on the move, I don’t like the standing around waiting for it to be made. So here is something I think is a pretty good idea. If someone could go build it I’d really appreciate it.

  1. A coffee house does a deal with a micro-billing provider to bill people via their mobile rather than having to fork over cash (further towards a paper-less society – this is a good thing)
  2. Sarah, almost at the city train station where she will jump off, sends an SMS to the coffee house with just “1” in the message body
  3. This is received by the coffee house. Sarah’s number is in the database, 1 is her favourite, a long black.
  4. They accept the order and this pushes a message back to Sarah saying her coffee is being made
  5. Sarah’s train pulls in to the station, she gets up to the coffee shop across the road from the station, finds her coffee waiting for her and off she goes. No lines, no waiting, no fumbling for change.

We have the technology to do this, and the know-how to apply it to hundreds of other industries. Why aren’t we people? This doesn’t need a 30-second spot; it creates value and is worth talking about. And that is enough.

Image courtesy of Amit Gupta, with thanks to compfight.

It’s hard to say you love someone (and it’s hard to say you don’t) July 17, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, web 2.0, work/life.
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I am currently crunching out my latest column for Marketing Magazine’s…hmm…September issue I think, I tend to lose track. So my thoughts are preoccupied with telling the offline marketers how to get the conversation started while delivering a few home truths, we’ll see how that goes.

But I’m also grinning ear to ear as I type this, so much good work out there this morning, and rather than talk about one thing, I want to point you in a few directions.

1. Gaping Void – a recent post from Hugh Macleod which really hits home for me at the moment:

It’s good to be young and full of dreams. Dreams of one day doing something “insanely great”. Dreams of love, beauty, achievement and contribution. But understand they have a life of their own, and they’re not very good at following instructions. Love them, revere them, nurture them, respect them, but don’t ever become a slave to them. Otherwise you’ll kill them off prematurely, before they get the chance to come true.

2. My good friend Julian Cole has a social media framework which is a great piece of thinking, it should be read and pondered and then executed. No questions.

3. Lastly, because I’m in a goofy mood, XKCD. It is a regular web comic, often bizarre, rather amusing.

OK, back to the column. Happy Friday everyone, let’s go light on the marketing today and put a little bit extra into the stuff that really matters. Deal?


Is it me you’re looking for? July 17, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in industry news, web 2.0.
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Clearly it hasn’t been as long for everyone.

As Twitter‘s Chief Architect, Blaine Cook caught the brunt of the Twitter community’s frustrations over the micro-blogging service’s frequent downtime. He left the company earlier this year and has now joined Yahoo! to work on a service called FireEagle, apparently similar to Twitter but focussed on user-location.

Twitter’s issue was a popular service which struggled to scale. Yahoo! already has scale, but struggles with services that offer value. Perhaps this is a perfect fit?

(By the by, if you’re on Twitter, so am I)