The anatomy of a great april fools promotion

Did you know that the word gullible is not in the dictionary? Bah, dum, bum, crash.  Thank you very much.  I’ll be here all week.  Don’t forget to tip the waitresses. I knew it was going to be one of those days when my 7 year old started the day with her own April fools joke.  I hope that she sticks with her strength which is sales rather than marketing.  Her delivery was good but her creative strategy was flawed. After about the 10th fairly obvious gag campaign of the day, I started to think about what makes a truly great April Fools promotion (I’m not calling them jokes as they are often well planned online marketing campaigns)?  Here is my list: Consistency with brand – The best ones are “on brand” making them truly believable. Good enough – Some of the promotions are just too “over the top”.  Think about the Google CADIE application listed on their homepage.  Not only did it stick out like a sore thumb but it was just too clever even for Google. Easy to share – It is simple for the person getting “conned” (I believe the technical term here is sucker) to forward it quickly before he/she has time to realize it is bogus. Has a great payoff when forwarded – The person who forwards it will suffer great humiliation from friends and coworkers when the obvious hoax is discover.  This also gives the embarrassed a strong incentive to try to “get” someone else (think viral spread). Mainstream media picks it up – You get bonus points if the media first report it as real news but in the end, this is a PR/viral marketing exercise so any mainstream coverage is a big win. Just think of it as a viral campaign with a twist.  More than just getting a simple laugh, you need to make sure the forwarder also feels the pain. Did I miss any other obvious...

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Freemium Followup: Interesting Presentation

I found this presentation on Web 2.0 business models on Slideshare. It is jammed with great models and...

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Are you an accountable marketer?

I think marketing people get a bad rap and often think that accountability is the root cause.  Too often we use words like “brand building” to mask the fact that we can’t connect some of our activities with tangible results. Here are some questions to assess how accountable you are as a marketer. Do you do everything you can to track the results of a program (ie coded URLs, special offers, etc)? Do you freely admit when a program was a complete bust even if all the data is not in? Do you create a back of the envelope estimate for the campaign before you start with the creative? Have you sensitivity tested your campaign assumptions based on past program results? Do you ruthlessly remove the worst performing programs from your budget each year? Are you always looking for something that can outperform your tried and true programs? Is your CFO an ally? Does your CEO offer you more budget if you can find positive ROI programs? Do you favor effective over creative? Do you have a bias toward measurable programs? Did I miss any others? Let me...

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Freemium: Something for nothing

As I saw firsthand at SXSW last week, many companies are still trying to figure how to make money in a market where online customers expect to get everything for free.  Here are a couple of interesting points from a keynote featuring Guy Kawasaki and Chris Anderson (author of the book “the Long Tail”). Question: How has the economic crisis changed things for online businesses? Two years ago companies were operating in a monetary and non-monetary economy The business model went something like this: raise money, sell company, if not try Google Adsense Today: need you a freemium business model right out of the gate The magic number they cited was 5% of users need to upgrade to a premium service for a business to be viable. I can’t recall if  a source was identified for the number. To be honest, this felt a little high to me.  In a previous life marketing downloadable shareware software that had a premium upgrade path, we had very profitable products if we could get 1% of the users to upgrade.  The challenges back then (as they are today) were getting enough users to install the free version and creating a strong enough value proposition for upgrading.  In the end, we keep coming back to the basic needs of a large customer base and strong revenue model,...

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My week in social media and beyond

Busy week so I didn’t have time for any opinion pieces.  Here are some highlights from the week and what is on my mind. WebInno21 – Amazingly this was my first time at the event.  I’ve signed up before but each time it just never happened.  If you in are in Boston, it is a must.  Almost 500 entrepreneurs and service providers filled the room.  Unlike other “networking events”, this one was packed with people actually trying to build stuff and change the world. Adroit Interactive –  They received the most votes from the crowd at WebInno.  I really like the idea of dynamically driven ads, but I am also wary of any business working on a CPM basis when the aftermarket prices for online ads are under $1 these days. BravoCart – I am sucker for boring (sorry guys but shopping carts are not sexy) technologies that make a big difference.  I know, I know, shopping carts are so 1998 but I would bet these guys have the most success of the the main dishes at Webinno.  In the end, their core customers will “get it” and the ROI will be easier to demonstrate. Dropcard – I handed one guy my business card and he immediately typed it into his iPhone.  It wasn’t until I returned to my office the next day that I discovered he had sent me an electronic business card.  Pretty cool. Dapper – Adriot’s competitor in the dynamic ad market gets bonus points.  I was among the compulsive tweeters at WebInno and Dapper smartly responded to one of my tweets.  They are now on my radar.  I guess social media really does work. I am off to SXSW (that is South by Southwest for the rest of us) next week.  I should have lots of tasty morsels to blog about. Stay...

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