Monday, October 30, 2006

Talk to Me So I Can Talk to You

Here’s a nutty idea – listen to your consumer! But listening requires asking questions in the first place, and that could get messy. In what could be mistaken for a Mars/Venus debate, today’s most e-mailed story on has the headline: What Do Women Want? Just Ask Look a little closer and you’ll find a great article about the steps some companies are taking to tailor their offerings and marketing campaigns to the female consumer. Seems like a no-brainer to ask your customer base what they like (and dislike) about your product, but more often than not it’s Mars making assumptions about what Venus wants to buy. A smart marketer knows that success comes not from saying what you want to say but what your consumer wants to hear. There’s enough clutter in the marketplace. Make your product – and your message – relevant if you want to standout and reach your target audience.

And that this story is so popular on tells me that a lot of people find this topic interesting. I bet a lot of marketers haven’t thought of having a two-way conversation with their target audience. What do you think?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My oh my – Sports News

The two leading sports news sites, and, have taken to the “My” revolution that’s taking over the internet. (Think MySpace, MyCokeRewards, My Yahoo and the like.) Each has its own “My[insert name here]” portal to bring users/fans customized information to an online portal (ESPN) or their desktop via downloadable software (SI). I am all about getting the information I want when I want it, but these sites have taken two drastically different approaches and I already know which one I really like and which one leaves a less than favorable impression.

In the interest of full disclosure, I once worked at, back when it was called and there was a TV network to go with it. I managed the community department, handling celebrity Q&As, user feedback and the message boards.

First, let’s start with MyEspn – I think this site is a perfect example of everything that’s right with a personalized portal. It’s a website with everything I want to see right in front of me. I worry with these “My” pages that I might miss out learning something new about the world beyond my own set parameters because I’ve done too good of a filtering job. But thankfully the ESPN folks have used their good judgment and included a general headlines section. ESPN could stand to lose the video box that starts talking as soon as the page loads. Insta-sound annoys me. But I love that the process takes seconds – complete a short registration form and you’re logged in. From there it’s a few easy clicks to select which teams you want to monitor and you’re off (or on to reading, whichever you prefer).

Now, on the other hand requires you to download software to run their program. (One CD mailed to SI subscribers amazingly was not purchased on eBay recently.) I like ESPN because it gives me the information when I want it, but MySI continually sends the information to my desktop where it seems to be constantly visible. MySI’s explainer/FAQ video was a turn-off to me and prompted more unanswered questions. What does the scoreboard show during the week if I only care about NFL scores? (And why would I need an NBA scoreboard to scroll continuously during my workday? Isn’t seeing it once enough?) Why was she explaining all of this to me in a robe? The swimsuit model that led the FAQ video started off by addressing “the guys.” Um, don’t you think that excludes us female sports fans?

Here’s a story hyping’s launch. I say skip it and go for MyESPN. As much as I love for everything else, this isn’t one for their highlights reel.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Making a personal connection... one buyer at a time

Well lookie here – a cluttered marketplace reference! I’ve found Seth Godin’s blog to be enjoyable and very informative. His advocating the use of data mining to analyze other habits of a product’s target audience dovetails with my last post nicely – anyone who wants to reach my friend who limits her TV watching to Sesame Street (her activities mirrors the interests of her two kids) would be wise to look beyond basic demographic data (sex, age, marital status) for targeting her with messages and look to her behavioral patterns.

I also wanted to throw a shout out to my friend and fantasy football opponent Dan Goldgeier’s blog posting over the weekend. An ad campaign, when done effectively (in my humble opinion), can do wonders for a company, but a consumer sharing a positive retail experience with another can do so much more. I’ve heard of B to B and B to C, but why no C to C? Or is that just WOMMA?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Where Obama and Oscar come together

With my first blog posting, I feel I am setting a precedent for all future writings. So this seems like a good time to say that there will be no set formula or tone to this forum. The constant theme will be me expressing my opinions on life as a consumer in today’s cluttered world. Having worked as a publicist and marketing manager, I’ve experienced marketplace clutter first-hand from the perspective of trying to get my message across an already-crowded marketplace. But I am a consumer too and am intrigued by what hits home and what misses the mark.

In a recent IM conversation, a friend said: “If he's not on Sesame Street or in prime time, I don't know him!!!” We were talking about
Barack Obama. Not exactly a household name, but given his appearances on Oprah and as the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he hasn’t been living in obscurity either. But her comment struck a cord with me because despite the abundance of information channels available, our over-programmed lives are such that if a message isn’t placed properly, we’re likely to miss out on some useful information.

Well, if it’s so useful, why am I not finding it? Because it’s a marketer’s job to find you and move you the consumer to action, i.e. buying, voting, etc. With so information channels available to consumers, picking the right one to share an idea it’s that much tougher for marketers.

So, from here on out, I’ll be sharing my observations of what has hit home with me – the good, the bad and the ugly.