Friday, September 30, 2005

Womma Part 2 - What I learned

My boss asked me how the conference went yesterday and I ended up spending the next 20 minutes spouting off about all sorts of stuff.

Observation #1 - The Ad Industry has a clue that something odd is going on 'round here
It's immediately apparent that the ad biz is waking up to the fact that the world has changed. My observation is that they will continue to struggle because:

  1. They are caught between clients who haven't got a clue and their own mental model of how advertising used to work (run TV ad, and repeat).
  2. They can't figure out how to get paid for coming up with ideas.

I found it really interesting that several interactive agencies have found niches within larger ad agencies, but that things aren't quite "integrated" yet.

Observation #2 - Word of Mouth only works as part of an integrated campaign
There was a lot of good debate about how to deploy WOM strategically, but in many cases it was relegated to a PR stunt, or simply a way to justify over the top creative. One of the most interesting exchanges that was a discussion about Subservient Chicken and whether or not it ultimately had an impact to Burger King.

Several presenters made the point that The Chicken campaign wasn't really effective because the brand wasn't represented and that it was really just a gimmick. Contrary to that was a comment that in the end it helped to reposition BK by continuing to layer impressions to their target audiences. (I'm paraphrasing). When I think about integrated campaigns, I'm reminded of Shrek, who is like an onion (layered).

I don't have a strong personal opinion other than to say that I though Subservient Chicken was brilliantly executed and fun, but that I have not since gone into a BK Lounge for anything other than to use the bathroom on a road trip.

Observation #3 - Insights into How to Find (and then utilize) Key Influencers
A lot of the discussion made the assumption that we knew who our key influencer are and a bigger assumption that we'd know what to do with them. Depending on your perspective, and how much Seth Godin you've read you'll either easily know the answer or you'll be 100% in the dark.

I didn't get a feel in the room for where most people sat, but did come away with some key thoughts:

  1. You can EASILY identify who your key influencers are by reviewing your incoming emails. Those who take the time to email or call you are probably high on the influencer list! Talk to them. Invite them to the party.
  2. You can easily identify key influencer by simply putting up links on your web site and in your emails that asks folks for feedback on different issues.
Once you've built a list of potential influencer, putting them to work is a great idea. Here are some starter ideas:
  1. Beta test new products
  2. Testing new ad concepts
  3. Having them develop new messaging
  4. Asking them for content (stories, photos, whatever!)
  5. And a million other things...
Observation #4 - Authenticity Rules (but is hard to do)
Ok, it's way to easy to take a shot at advertisers here... The bottom line though is that the overriding message I took away from the conference is that either you and your brand is authentic, or it's gone.

I found it amusing that so many presenters highlighted the downside of WOM (bad press, bad reviews etc...). It was almost as if the message was be authentic, stick your neck out, go for it.. But be careful because someone might not like your product. You think?

I have a pretty black and white perspective on authenticity which is either you ARE, or you AREN'T so please stop trying to fool everyone.

Step 1. Build something worth buying or using (or donating to).
Step 2. Get really excited that you accomplished Step 1 and tell everyone.
Step 3. Repeat Step 2 often and early.

Seriously though, having to define authenticity and having so many presenters talk about it means that marketers don't quite get it (actually, smart marketers get this in a big way and get to keep all the gold!).


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