Monthly Archives: March 2014

Is Push Dead?

Although the drumbeat about content marketing began a few years back, it seems to have become rather loud over the last few months.  We even see content marketing agencies and software pushing (pun intended) their products and services on a daily basis.

The image shows a technology push, mainly driv...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Content marketing is  not a particularly new phenomenon unless you consider the end of the 1890’s new.  That’s right:  as long ago as that companies were creating content they would distribute to consumers in order to give them information as opposed to selling them something.  The theory is that compelling content creates a relationship – engagement – with the consumer and that at some appropriate point the recipient will turn to your company when they’re ready to buy.

I’m a fan of content marketing.  I think most people don’t like being sold to unless they’ve put their hands in the air and said “I’m ready to buy and I need information.”  Those kind of marketing messages – TV and other ads – are push content.  As Imus used to say “I talk, you listen” except what was being said by marketers was manufactured and shoved out the door.  Content marketing is more “pull” marketing.  It’s a newer model than the old push strategy.

But is push dead?  I don’t think so.  Here is why.

The basic definition of pull marketing means that you engage consumers or prospective/current customers.  To do that you need to know something about them.  If they’ve bought, you have that information and they know a bit about you through experiences that have left lasting, positive impressions.   Hopefully you’ve dazzled them with world-class customer service (which I think is push marketing too).  If  they haven’t bought (yet), maybe you’ve been helpful to them in other ways.

The implication is that, of course, is that you need to be discoverable.  You can’t do inbound marketing if you’re invisible.  If you’re trying to give potential customers the idea that they need to engage, they need to know that they have a problem for you to solve first.  Maybe they haven’t done that – defined the problem  – so how can they be considering a solution?

That’s where push comes in.  Sure, it may be intrusive and unfashionable and ridiculed as interruption marketing.  But it has a role in the marketing mix.  Even so, we have to keep a few thoughts in mind.  We can’t spam people – drop unwanted messages on them over and over again.  People have learned to tune those messages out.  Even as we’re talking “at” them, we can try to anticipate their needs and wants even as we’re defining their problems for them.

No, push isn’t dead, but it needs to be changed to match the ways in which consumer expectations have changed.  Then again, if your marketing plan is still very much a function of last century, your revenues might be stuck there too.  Make sense?

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What Amateurs Can Teach Professionals

I saw something last evening that provides the inspiration for our Foodie Friday Fun this week.  If you’ve been reading the screed for any length of time you know that I’m a fan of Hell’s Kitchen.  The contestants are professional cooks (I hesitate to say “chef” since very few of them seem to have the qualities needed to be a team leader in the kitchen).  I believe all of them have been to culinary school but all do work in professional kitchens.  One would think that a work environment that’s filled with opportunities to do damage to one’s self would prompt a pro to make safety an intrinsic part of how they work.  As last night showed, not so much, which also prompted a business thought.

Photo: flickr user abdelazer

One of the cooks was using a mandoline to slice a potato.  As you can tell from the photo, a mandoline is a fabulous way to cut off the tip of a finger or two if you’re dumb enough to hold whatever is being sliced in your hand instead of using the guard/holder.  In a pinch you can hold the veggie against the blade with the palm of your hand pushing it down, but you never expose your finger tips to the blade just as you don’t dice with your fingers straight out.  Needless to say, the professional cook took a trip to urgent care to replace the piece of his finger.

Here is the business thought.  The cook has probably used this tool hundreds of times in just this way and without harm.  Most professionals do things over and over and at some point those things become second nature.  Unfortunately, that routine may incorporate bad habits. Amateur cooks like me have to think carefully when we use dangerous tools.  I’ll admit I think less when using a chef’s knife than when I use a mandoline, but I do pay attention in both cases since I don’t use either tool for hours at a time every day.

The same holds true with our business activities.  Reports become routine.  We do fill-in-the-blank analyses.  That’s when someone – the business! – gets badly hurt.  Business professionals need to learn from amateurs, or at least learn to approach the tasks they do daily with the same care as the person who rarely does those tasks.  Think to when you were given an assignment which involved something new.  You double and triple checked everything and were super careful.  That’s the amateur mindset.

And now it’s off to pull out my mandoline to remind me to be careful today.  Care to join me?

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Is Anyone Paying Attention?

A few things crossed my desk here at the world headquarters and they prompted today’s screed. There really isn’t much new in the data I’m about to share but when you put these things together it raises a question.

It’s no shock to anyone who is paying any attention to the way most of us consume media that there have been some pretty big changes.  The first bit of business comes from TDG’s Video Behavior in the Age of Quantum Video, an extensive analysis of US adult broadband users and their interaction with digital media:

Late Millennials (18-24 years of age) now spend more of their daily ‘TV time’ watching online sources than live broadcast/cable sources (33% versus 29% respectively). This is unique to the Late Millennial segment, as even Early Millennials (25-34s) spend significantly more daily ‘TV time’ viewing live broadcast/cable than online sources (30% and 23% respectively).

Of course, when you look at older folks (55+) those numbers are still overwhelmingly the “old” way of consuming – 61% to 4%.  However, as the older folks leave the consumption scene (a polite way of saying die off), these habits will become more pervasive.  These preferences for interacting with content via digital channels is having an effect on cable TV providers.  This from SNL Kagan:

Announced today, the U.S. multichannel segment posted its first full-year decline in subscriptions, according to SNL Kagan estimates for cable, DBS and telco offerings at the end of 2013. While seasonally driven quarterly declines have become routine for industry watchers, the annual dip illustrates longer-term downward pressure even as economic conditions gradually improve.

According to the tally for the trio of platforms, service providers collectively shed 251,000 in 2013, dipping to approximately 100 million combined subs. The industry added 40,000 video subscriptions in the fourth quarter, slightly weaker on a year-over-year basis and not enough to offset the broader downward momentum.

So the “prime” consumer marketers target – young adults who are forming their brand and consumption habits – are consuming via alternate channels and are cord cutting.  They’re also not particularly focused on the TV they are watching.  A new study from Millward Brown looked at multiscreen use while watching TV:

For US respondents:

  • 45% of daily smartphone time is spent simultaneously with TV
  • 37% of daily laptop time is spent with TV
  • 55% of daily tablet time is spent simultaneously with TV

What they also found was that 30% of simultaneous use is looking at related content (what they term meshing) and 70% of simultaneous use is looking at unrelated content (stacking).  TV is background noise.  So here is the thought.

I don’t think there is a “second screen”.  While younger people’s brains are wired a little differently with respect to multitasking, they seem to have decided that they’re going to program their own channels, access them through a different pipe, and then micro-program within the programs themselves by paying selective attention to the menu of choices they’ve created.   I realize there’s not much new in that but the pace at which it seems to be happening is new and will only accelerate as better broadband is available.

What do you think about all this?

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