online marketing psychology

February 22, 2011

Passion for Music, Aliens and Direct Mail

I just finished a guide that Derek Sivers wrote to help muscians market their music. But it is a lot more than that.

This free ebook feels more like a lessons learned from his musical career, business and life.

And because I know most of you will never click, download AND read it, I have copied an awesome story from it. So if you like music and marketing, enjoy!


Back in 1997, when “The X Files” was still on the air, a friend of mine who called himself Captain T put out a record called US Aliens that was all about conspiracy theories, Area 51, alien cover-ups,and the Incredible Hulk. It was intentionally funny, but he would stay in character and play it straight: a guy who was trying to tell the world, through music, about the aliens and conspiracies. He wanted to send his album to college radio stations, but couldn’t afford to hire a real radio promoter. When we decided to do it ourselves, I was about to do things in a very normal way, but I thought I should take my own advice, and make his marketing an extension of his art, his image, his message.

(Also, I was thinking about that kid in the college radio station that gets 20 CDs a day, all exactly the same, in boring envelopes. I wanted to make his week.)

So - we bought 500 black envelopes, 500 sheets of brown oatmeal paper, 500 alien head stickers,and the best part : 500 huge stickers that said “CONFIDENTIAL MAIL - DO NOT OPEN FOR ANY REASON”.

We did a mail-merge to the 500 program directors at 500 college radio stations, so that each one got a personalized letter that said this:
Dear __name__, 
You don’t know me, but I live in the bushes behind your station.
I have been here for 12 years and your station has saved my life many times over.
The music that you play has kept me going through my darkest of days and for this I owe you everything.
In this spirit, I must tell you that a man named Captain T found me in the gutter yesterday, and he taught me about what is really going on with the government and what really happened down there in Area 51. This man has a message that you have to get out to the world, because people need to know the TRUTH! 
Man in the bushes, looking through your window right now

We took each letter out to the backyard and literally rubbed it in dirt, crumpled it into a little tiny ball, then flattened it out a little bit, put the CD inside, sealed it into a black envelope, put the alien head sticker on it, covered it with the huge sticker that said “CONFIDENTIAL MAIL - DO NOT OPEN FOR ANY REASON”, and mailed them out to each station.

We laughed for hours while doing it.

Now, imagine you're that kid working at the radio station, getting 20 CDs a day with normal boring packages, saying “Please play my record!” Then you get this scary black mess of a package that says “DO NOT OPEN”, and when opened is covered in dirt and says, “You don’t know me, but I live in the bushes behind your station.

375 of the radio stations played it.

Every now and then, my friend Captain T gets approached by someone that used to work at a college radio station back in 1997. They tell him they still remember it, because it was the coolest package they ever got.


As I said above, more of these gems can be found in the ebook by Derek Sivers.

February 15, 2011

The absolute marketing ground work

Imagine a really well-run startup that has all aspects of operations completely buttoned down: HR policies in place, great sales model, thoroughly thought-through marketing plan, great interview processes, outstanding catered food, 30" monitors for all the programmers, top tier VCs on the board.
But it is heading straight off a cliff.
That doesn't seem right I hear you think.

The story above is part of a guide for startups which analyses what is more important for the success of a startup: team, product or market.

In this area everybody has an opinion and many will tell you you  need a good combination of the three parts to strike gold.

But in the post above, Marc Andreessen picks market as the most important factor. He feels the main reason why many companies, wíth great teams or products, fail, is because they lack product/market fit. Coming from the guy behind the Mosaic browser, Netscape and Ning, it is worth examining a bit closer:
In a great market - a market with lots of real potential customers - the market pulls product out of the startup.
It is the absolute marketing ground work: making sure people need and want it.

When the product is done you can market it as one thing. But if you don't deliver on the promises, customers will feel tricked. And that isn't really a long term strategy.

A solution can only be found by redoing the product, tailoring it in a way that ensures a better fit with the market. So as long as there is money to burn, there is time to fix it.

This makes me think of Twitter (in which Andreessen is an investor in). It is popular, has a great team but what is its market? It is a complicated question that may even be hard for Twitter itself. Who are their real potential and paying customers?

Full article can be found on his blog.

February 11, 2011

The Direct Response Approach to Brand Building

Interesting article over at Kissmetrics' blog: Eight Lessons for Online Marketing Success I Learned From Direct-Response Advertising.
Starting off with a quote from Raymond Rubicam:
The only purpose of advertising is to sell. It has no other justification worth mentioning.
He is very right, and this principle can seldom be repeated too often. Many marketers are unduly concerned with ‘building brand recognition’, ‘increasing customer awareness’, ‘leveraging social media’ and all these other fancy marketing techniques. But what is the point of these things if they don’t measurably lead to more sales?
Of course, brand recognition, customer awareness, social media and the like can all be used to increase sales—and significantly at that. But very often, marketers have no clear strategy as to how they should use these tools to bring in more money. Sometimes they don’t even consider the question; they just ‘know’ they should be doing these things…because everyone else is, so it must be important, right?
Add to that that brand building targets non or light users, while the real value is in existing customers.

This duality of advertising for brand building and sales purposes is something I find really fascinating.

This part touches on something essential: advertising should tie to sales, but not necessarily directly.

For more interesting lessons from direct advertising, read more at their blog.

February 3, 2011

Cheap Campaign Optimization with Google Insights

By reading Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik, I've become a lot smarter about nailing the essence of websites and how to successfully measure that. I'm only halfway through, but already found a lot of gems. Like these examples. Both use the search data that are available in tools like Google Insights for Search. it allows you to optimise both offline and online campaigns!

Movie marketing
Marketers used geographic interest analysis to determine the optimal marketing strategy for a Brad Pitt movie, first for the offline ads by city and state and then how to geographically best target online users across the world. It was a simple matter of recognizing where interest was highest and promoting the new movie more heavily in those areas.
Another  nice illustration:
It may worry me as the brand manager of Pampers that the top related search for my category is cloth diapers, a product that I do not sell. Combine that with the fact that five of the ten fastest-rising searches are all related to price (cheapest, coupons), and it is enough to give me an ulcer. But now I am more informed, and I can adjust my marketing strategies to emphasize affordability or offer strategic couponing without cannibalizing my bottom line. Consumer interest is clear; now I have to react.
When I'm completely through I'll probably have a lot more ideas about it. But for now, more info on the book can be found here.