Do you manage perception or reality?

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This “Sorry” image is what you see on YouTube when you’re prevented from viewing a video because the uploader decided not to make their content available in your country.

In this case, the video was a seven minute news clip from 1970.

NINETEEN SEVENTY.

I understand how allowing a viewer in another country to see 43 year old content of historical interest would seriously undermine that organization’s ability to sell advertising, much less how it would damage their credibility in the news market.

I wonder if the decision to limit this company’s news footage to their home country was considered long and hard in policy meetings and with legal. Was much discussion dedicated to finding reasons to limit access? How about efforts to find reasons to not to?

Was the cost of making that decision higher than the cost of letting anyone in any country view the video?

It reminds me of people who put more effort into controlling the public’s perception of their company than they do into taking actions that actually impact the company’s public image. The irony is that attempts at perception control tend to damage their employer’s image more than the truth would have.

We often ask the wrong questions.

Every day that you look the other way in your business when faced with perception vs. reality issues, your business becomes less personal, easier to hate and easier to replace.

Is that really what you want?

Do you encourage your fans?

Linkin Park clearly understands their fans.

Some bands (or their “record” companies) would complain to YouTube or Flickr if a fan posted concert footage or photos. They’d ask to have them removed.

Not these guys. They post links on their official site that point to Flickr and YouTube videos taken by fans.

But it doesn’t end there.

From the LinkinPark website: “Each ticket purchased for the 2011 North American tour comes with an audio download of that night’s show.”

What are you doing to encourage your fans to become even more devoted?

Golf Boys – The PGA’s First Boy Band. Not Kidding.

Unlike Farmers Insurance, the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) hasn’t really ever come off as an organization with a sense of humor, no matter how funny some of their members might be.

While golf is full of decades-old (if not centuries-old) tradition and is traditionally thought of as a game for the well-heeled, it’s really about spending time with your friends, even when you’re playing a course that would make a good cow pasture.

Friends who golf aren’t just mostly-white, stodgy old geezers in funny-looking polyester pants.

The boy band may not have this on their agenda, I have to ask: What have you done to reach out beyond your traditional market?

PS: Farmers Insurance is donating $1000 to charity for every 100,000 views of this video.

 

Domino’s Transparent Pizza

Recently, Domino’s started a campaign that threw open the world of food photography and showed why the food you get at the restaurant rarely (never?) seems to resemble the amazing looking food you see on TV.

At http://showusyourpizza.com, they asked for their customers’ pizza photos.

In short order, they’d received 13,000 photos.

At least one showed cheese stuck to the top of the delivery pizza box (We’ve all gotten one of those).

Rather than leave it buried in the other 13,000 photos, Domino’s Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle shows the photo in a recent television ad, names the town (and thus by association, the Domino’s franchisee) and make it clear that kind of performance will not stand.

How’s that franchisee feel about his town being named on national TV? Hopefully it feels like a target on their back.

If I’m the Domino’s CEO, I don’t really care so much about how it makes the franchisee feel (and I suspect they were warned before the ad appeared). Meanwhile, I suspect a number of the Domino’s customers in that town are nodding their head as they see the commercial and thinking “Yep, that happened to me.”

Rather than pretend it didn’t happen (or spin it), he steps right out, shows the photo to the world and says (more or less) “This will not stand and we will do better.”

A great lesson for every small business owner, whether you sell pizza, knitting supplies or software: The world already knows what you screwed up. Your customers talk about it, blog about it, chat about it at the grocery store, at the water cooler and in the yard.

How you face – and fix – what you screwed up is often far more important. We have enough image control and spin in our lives. We don’t need it from the businesses we deal with.

Are you wearing Old Spice this morning?

Old spice
Creative Commons License photo credit: blvesboy

There was lots of noise this week when those clever folks managing the Old Spice social media campaign started making dozens of videos for a couple of days.

Old Spice’s team responded to Twitter posts, to Facebook posts, blogs and more, whether the posts came from celebrities or not.

The quickly made videos were funny and appeared to gag YouTube for a bit (might’ve been a coincidence). At any rate, it was a clever campaign to get some buzz about the product.

The other shoe

But did anyone buy Old Spice as a result?

Remember, that’s presumably the goal of running an advertising campaign, regardless of the media used.

What concerns me about actions like this – even though I tell you to have fun in your marketing – is that when a global company like Proctor and Gamble uses social media like this, I’m guessing that someone, somewhere wants to see ROI.

If they don’t, then we’ll have a global corporation (and their ad agency, potentially) pronouncing that “social media doesnt work” to anyone who will listen.

Bottom line: They want to see Old Spice fly off the shelves.

Will P&G be able to tie increased sales (over what period) to this campaign and ONLY this campaign?

I just don’t know, but I doubt it.

Unlike the Will-It-Blend campaign, which demonstrated the toughness of Blendtec’s blenders (essential for the market they serve), this campaign only shows that P&G’s marketing firm is smart, clever and fast on their feet – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However…It doesn’t prove they know how to sell deodorant, body wash etc.

Don’t fall into that trap, no matter how clever you are.

REQUIRE that your marketing campaigns return a trackable ROI, no matter what the media.

Update: This morning’s article in Fast Company (online, of course) discusses a little of the behind-the-scenes for these videos as well as addressing the question I discussed here today – translating all of this into sales:

One of the questions that keeps coming up is people saying, “Ok, this is great, but will it make me buy more Old Spice?” If you look at the comments that are publicly saying, “I’m going to go and try Old Spice after this, I’m going to wear more Old Spice,” the groundswell of people saying that they are going to consume more Old Spice, I don’t know whether that is true or not, if people are actually going to go to the pharmacy and buy Old Spice, but I bet a whole load of them are going to go into the aisle and take the top off an Old Spice and smell it.

Update: Mashable comes up with some hard numbers related to the videos…but no sales info.

I’m still following this. We’ll see if they have devised a means of bringing this home to the cash register.

What’s Your Swagger Wagon?

Nothing could be better than a mom and dad rappin’, right?

Ok, maybe there are things better. Still, today’s guest post is this awesome, fun video from Toyota which has managed to get 3.8 million views as of mid-June 2010.

The point? To have a little fun with your marketing – while still getting your point across. Toyota stays on message for the Sienna product, rap or not.

PS: Yes, I meant to post this for Father’s Day.

Baiting the hook with opera

Note the sign at the end of the video: “Ves como te gusta la opera?”, which translated roughly means “See how you like opera?”

Point being – how many of those shoppers had ever been to the opera? And how many *more* will consider it after that performance?

Brilliant, guerrilla marketing. Just flippin’ brilliant.

Before you think “I could never do that”…start planning how you could turn your business into performance art, some how, some way.

When the stream in your backyard doesn’t have any fish, fish where the fish are.

Where black people and white people buy furniture

We’ve talked about having fun with your marketing, not just for entertainment but because you’ll stand out from all the stodgy, boring stuff out there

These guys stepped out there and set quite an example. Do you think they generated conversation in their market?

Are you having fun yet? I’d like to hear how you bring fun into your marketing.

Being unsociable is a poor choice for the SEC

Night Train
Creative Commons License photo credit: dickuhne

Yesterday’s heads up from Mashable about the Southeast Conference’s (SEC) proposed new media policy had the social media world (among others) buzzing in a hurry.

The bottom line? No social media usage will be allowed at SEC sporting events.

What exactly does this mean?

It means no Tweeting from the stadium to your buddy 1500 miles away just to annoy him (even more) about missing the game due to an out of town meeting.

It means no Posterous live blogging from your phone by email.

It means no bouncing, fuzzy YouTube video of your team’s band playing your favorite song (see below), no LSU dance team shots on Flickr ( not even to your daughter who is trying out next year) and absolutely, certainly no pics or video of the Texas Luvs on your Flickr page or photoblog when UT visits your SEC school.

We just talked about the SEC and their new network on ESPN last week, using them to illustrate a lesson for competitive strategy, so it’s interesting to compare that to this because they’re both about competition.

“Protecting the brand”

The spokesperson will talk about how they’re protecting their brand and that their TV network has exclusivity and so on.

And I can understand that. Really, I can. And I understand what happens if you don’t protect and defend your trademarks.

But it’s still a bad idea because it doesn’t build the brand. It doesn’t build fans. It doesn’t engage your fans.

Instead, it ticks them off.

Some would say that the SEC is protecting their members’ brand, but they are already well in control of that.

Don’t believe me? Just try putting a Gator, “‘Bama”, the LSU Tiger or a Razorback on anything for retail sale without an explicit license to do so.

Some would say that social media will cause TV coverage to “leak” viewers (and thus money due to ad buys, etc). While I disagree, it’s easy to see how the SEC would view that as diluting their brand if they approach this from the wrong angle.

Fact of the matter is, it *strengthens* their brand by being everywhere, increasing the ability of fans to become rabid fans by consuming even more information about their team. For rabid fans, its one more way to attempt to satisfy their need for info.

A reader over at Examiner.com hit the nail on the head, noting “This is another case of big business not “getting it”. This reminds me of when the sports venues freaked out about televising sports events because they thought no one would come to the stadiums any more.” (the rest of the comment can be found at the Examiner.com link).

529,000

If I’m SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, I don’t want to find 529 Google hits on “LSU band neck site:youtube.com“, as I found today.

I want to find 52900 or 529,000.

If I stumble across a YouTube video of rural village kids in Ghana calling the Hogs, I’m not furiously dialing the YouTube CEO to complain, instead I’m thrilled that our fans are so rabid that they are spreading the word – even in Africa. I might even have someone dig around and find similar things to show off to the press and fans.

If I’m the SEC commissioner, I want the entire South er no, I mean Nation planet to eat, drink and sleep my conference’s sports.

I want to walk into a street cafe in Paris and hear someone talking about last weekend’s Georgia-Florida game – with a French accent.

I want people clinging to SEC football and basketball long before they start clinging to guns or religion.

And as a little side benefit, I want the other conferences to go to sleep at night dreaming they could do what my conference does.

Jealousy

When we went over the story about the new SEC/ESPN network last week, it was clear that other conferences are ticked off. Even Notre Dame seems torqued, perhaps because they’ve enjoyed that level of exclusivity for years.

The rest of the gang? They wish they had the same “problem” that the SEC has.

Now imagine that you’re the Big12 or PAC-10 commissioner.

First thing you do the day that the SEC announces that wacked-out social media policy?

Fly in GaryVee, call a press conference and have Gary announce a new Big12 social media contest, website, program and what not. We’re gonna show the best ones at halftime and on tv so you can enjoy them as you munch on a big bag of Doritos. Maybe you even come up with a way to get the crowd fired up during the game with crowd-created videos – even those made earlier in the game.

Use your imagination. Remember our “go after their strength” discussion.

Think long term

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with this is the long-term damage that this could cause to SEC schools.

If I’m the guy looking for endowment money or selling season tickets, the last thing I want to hear about is a stadium cop tossing a fan out of a game because they are filming a jerky, not-exactly-1080p high-def video of the Razorback cheerleaders on their iPhone.

If you do that today, that fan will remember that for the rest of their lives.

It is entirely possible that their memory will likely be strongest when you call to ask for endowment/scholarship money, season ticket renewal or when their kid starts talking about going to your school.

A prime example: Former Arkansas athletic director Broyles made numerous and valuable contributions to the rise of Arkansas sports during his accomplished tenure.

Despite that, you don’t have to look far among Arkansas alumni to find someone who vividly remembers the student body being yanked around by Broyles during the last 30 years. Some still stew about it after 2 decades.

So when you find that SEC school’s potential booster and you ask them to help out your school, what kind of memory do you want them to have?

A Frank Broyles moment? A stadium cop moment? Probably not.

Engage and Enable

The SEC should be encouraging discussion and interaction about SEC sports.

They should be engaging new fans and enabling their fervor to grow, rather than finding a new way to tick off an entire generation of college students – the same folks that your successor will be looking at for high $ donors 20-30 years from now.

UPDATE: Seems the SEC has been a tad surprised by the substantial negative reaction to their proposed social media policy. As a result, they’ve relaxed things a bit (Twitter and the like are OK now), but video is still off the table.

Something special in the air

I have to say that I never expected a country-western song to be a guest post, but it is what it is.

For the rest of the story about how United Airlines baggage handlers trashed Dave Carroll’s guitar and more importantly, their customer service and management mistakes afterwards, drop over to FastCompany.com.

4.5 million views later, it’s more than the old saw that customers who have a bad experience tell 10 people. Nowadays, they can tell everyone, everywhere.

If your service isn’t what it should be, don’t be surprised if you end up going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Of course, that assumes that you care in the first place.

PS: Play close attention to the winner in this deal: Taylor Guitars.

Update: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer covers the story.

Update: United Breaks Guitars – Song 2

Update: A video that was supposedly made by the Mrs. Irlweg referred to in both songs. I don’t know if it’s really her or not. If it is, not a wise move IMO.