Read what a member of the Consumer Intelligence Mystery Shopping Community had to say about supermarkets MyConsumerIntel – community for mystery shoppers,your opinions!.
First published in Direct Marketing International, 29th Jan 2009 http://dmionline.net/blog/2010/01/29/into-the-future/
During a recent visit to Hungary, I got a brief glimpse of the future and it made me think. It ought to make you think, too.
I recall a James Bond film from a few years ago in which our philandering hero had a BMW that he could control remotely from his phone. He was able to drive with the aid of cameras and steer as well. Naturally, he was also able to fire heat-seeking missiles, but that goes without saying.
While in Budapest, one of my fellow speakers was telling me how he could ‘talk to his BMW’, which was parked snugly, outside his house, 8,000 miles away. He could tell where it was, what the tyre pressures were and a lot of other information. He could also set the car so that it would not exceed a speed limit or allow itself to be driven into certain areas.
It reminded me of a feature I had seen on US TV about a car thief who was caught by OnStar; the owner had let the police remotely stop his car. The system was touted as a major step forward in crime fighting.
Serendipitously for you, dear reader, I was also reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (this has saved you from a much more boring article I was writing). The book has a chapter talking about how our personalities are like Jekyll and Hyde. The suggestion he puts forward is that there is 200 per cent uplift in accidents when teens drive with two other teens in the car. There are similar statistics for choice of music and other distractions.
His solution? Predict the behaviour and train the car to intervene. So, when rap music is played above a certain level and speed exceeds 65mph on the motorway, have the station switch to classical music and the speed limiter kick in.
It must have felt like rocket science when he wrote it. Now it’s do-able.
So what’s stopping us?
Where norms collide
Perhaps part of the answer comes from another part of Ariely’s book, where he talks about when ‘market norms’ and ‘social norms’ collide. The best way to describe this is, if I were lucky enough to be invited to your house for dinner and, at the end insisted that I paid, that would be uncomfortable. A market norm (paying for dinner) and a social norm (having someone over for dinner) would have collided. Alternatively, if I brought a nice bottle of wine, that would be sort of expected.
While contemplating this thesis, I was approached by someone who wanted me to invest in a social networking project where consumers were paid to promote things to their friends. In principle, this is a really good idea; it gets the message out there fast and uses all that’s good about social media.
But the problem is it crosses a line. Let’s say I recommended that you buy a BMW in this article. I’m not, but let’s just say that. If, later, you found out I was being paid by BMW to make that recommendation, you might feel I had taken advantage of my prestigious position on this penultimate page in DMI to flog you something.
Once a line is crossed from social norms to market norms, it’s almost impossible for the relationship to go back. You can read Ariely’s book yourself to discover the science behind my argument. The issue that this causes for us pariahs of the market is that we want to find a way to use this social environment for our benefit.
Often, the most we can hope for is that social media will not treat us too badly; reputational damage limitation is a major job by itself: I have just allocated a member of our team to scour the Internet at least once a day to see what is being said about our key customers and us. At least that way we know!
Social media is the big thing at the moment; there is no question about that, whether at the US DMA annual trade show or online. Every connected DMer is trying to say they have it taped.
The truth is they do not.
Social media has the power to intrude in a way that the market has never intruded. It can be a power for good and a power for bad. If you don’t do it right, it will turn and bite you so hard it might kill you. In Hungary, they talked about the Internet user having turned from a subservient dog into a freelancing cat.
I’d say it’s more like a tiger, lovely to look at, great to stroke, but you would think long and hard before you let it come to sleep on your bed at night.
Taming the Internet Tiger has become a huge challenge; it must be done right or not at all. For my money it’s the big marketing challenge of 2010.
A few months ago I wrote about how the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
And then I realised that the problem is worse than I thought.
My basic thesis is this: digital (direct) marketing is now run by the IT department and not by the marketers. The result: marketing is getting worse, not better.
A case in point is some recent research I have been doing into Salesforce.com and the force.com cloud computing community. I must have typed my information into their website ten times over the last week. So far, I have had one email from them and no other follow-up.
If the company that makes sales CRM software can’t use it to funnel me into some form of suspect/prospect/customer funnel, then what chance for the rest of us?
But now I want to turn this around a little bit. You see, the problem (or is it the opportunity?) is not with the IT department. It’s with us. We just don’t know what we’re talking about. Probably because we have allowed power to be devolved to the IT department; maybe because it’s all so complicated and we do woolly creative things – because that’s who we are.
Direct marketers! Our lack of knowledge of what this stuff is, this digital stuff, is probably the greatest crime/opportunity on the planet.
For me, there is one company which is getting scarily close to providing us with the right tools and platform for the future: Facebook.
But if you don’t have a Facebook account . . . if you haven’t looked into Facebook advertising . . . if you didn’t follow F8 (if you don’t know what F8 is) . . . if you didn’t know that Facebook gets more traffic than Google . . . if you don’t understand the consequence of that last sentence . . . then you are part of the problem.
If we don’t or can’t understand the technology, where it is going and what it means, then we have virtually no chance. We might as well step aside and let those who can, do!
As direct marketers, I challenge you to tell me I am wrong, show me how you get it, give me a case of one direct marketer who truly gets it . . . because I don’t see any case studies, anywhere, of anyone doing anything remotely 2.0 and making it work.
And I don’t mean Dell selling a couple of PCs on Twitter.
(First published in Direct Marketing International http://dmionline.net/blog/2010/04/20/the-importance-of-words/).
One of the things that drives me crazy about DM is that still today, after all these years of change, people think the M stands for Mail.
This relentless holding on to a past that has only a small, but significant part to play in the future, is holding an entire industry back.
But before I go ahead and throw my toys completely out of the pram I would like to show you how a quick walk down marketing’s memory line can be useful.
If you read Herschell’s column in this magazine you will find it filled with interesting copy advice. Like me, you may be tempted to dismiss it on occasions, because it can seem anchored in a past that is all about copywriting for letters.
But it isn’t, it’s as relevant now as ever.
You see, when Herschell or other copy geniuses write about the copy that goes on an envelope, you simply need to replace the word envelope with “Google adwords ad”.
It seems clear to me that not enough people come even remotely close to doing that. You only have to read the copy of the ads you see on Google to know that. Very few of them have been written, very few of them are tested.
In one of my business we do adwords advertising to encourage people to join up as mystery shoppers. To do this I have tested a number of different treatments of the incentive to Mystery shop. We have projects that pay from £5.00 to £5.00 with the most popular projects paying around £25.00.
There are three things I test. First the amount of the incentive. I have tested £50.00, £40.00, £35.00, £30.00, £25.00 and £20.00 as an incentive. Guess which one wins? The £25.00 one. It out pulls £50.00 by a factor of nearly 50%.
Then I do a strange test. I test the amount with and without the pence. So £25.00 and £25. In some cases for some adds the £25.00 works better and in other cases the £25 works better. I don’t try to overanalyze why that is, but I do keep testing to make sure the answer is right.
Finally I test the positioning of the incentive within the creative. Should it be the first thing that you see or the last thing that you see “£25 to Mystery Shop” or “Mystery Shop £25”. Again, the results vary depending on a number of other factors. It is not safe to say that one treatment works best, but you can target the different treatments, to get the best possible results.
So when Herschell and other copywriters talk about the importance of words and order and testing I buy it and I but it big.
We have also tested different treatments of our landing page for the ads. At the moment our control page breaks every single rule in the book. It starts with a warning that there is a Scam around trying to get people to pay money to become a mystery shopper. It works 100% better than not having the Sam Alert in there.
To my mind what the DM (Marketing) community needs to do is wake up to the fact that a lot of what we need to do is not some new-fangled tech-speak, but just the rigorous application of lessons already learned.
It really irritates me to listen to some agency guru on a platform trying to talk about how clever they are but just applying new fangled jargon to stuff.
More worryingly, it irritates me that many of these people spent so much time in pursuit of the new that they don’t spend any time to learn from and reflect on the past. Because there is a wealth of lessons already learned that could really jump-start their campaign.
But all of that does not irritate me as much as Direct Mailer’s clinging to the past. I see it within DMA’s that still have Mailing councils and Data Councils and List Councils and throw a bone to the New Media Council. Meanwhile Internet trade Bodies are rife. The Internet is Direct Marketing.
You see it at DM trade shows that still talk about the movement of physical stuff when new trade shows like TFM and Internet World have sprung up.
You also see it in this new attempt to classify Direct Marketing as Digital Marketing. The problem is not in the word, it is in the fact that as soon as you shorten it to DM, people assume it’s Direct Mail. And that makes my blood boil.
Personally I love direct mail. I think it has an important place as part of the marketing mix. But it is as important to DM now as “New Media” was 15 years ago. Which is not very. In fact, I think we should change the title of Direct Mail and Inserts and other such tools to “Old Media”. At least then, we can give it it’s reverence and learn from its important contribution to our future.