This blog is a dedicated forum for the transmission of
marketing strategies, insights, and opinions that matter.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Revival of the Lowest Common Denominator

Can you guess what DHL, Travelocity, and Citi have in common? Well, as you guessed, I plan to tell you.

Besides the obvious fact that they are service providers, they have all brought back the theme of better or guaranteed service in recent campaigns as part of overall brand re-positioning.

DHL touted the fact that service is back in the shipping business. Travelocity has the 'Travelocity Guarantee' that your orders will be correct without fail, and Citi now offers a credit card that helps you to better manage your account by being able to press '0' on your telephone to speak with a real person.

These occurrences and their success are all very interesting from a strategic marketing perspective. I say this because it defies so many of the assumptions that are so frequently clung to by marketers in industry and academia.

This includes the belief that service businesses must provide a certain level of quality to stay in business, however quality may be defined: speed, personalization, reliability, etc. Many agency folk, academics in higher education, and more senior-level literature on the matter assume that this is the lowest common denominator for business survival and therefore are not uniquely viable long-term positoning strategies.

In the fact of technologically-optimized (read: computer automated) businesses and increased outsourcing, it will be interesting to see if "better service" remains viable in campaigns or actually finds itself defying textbook strategy and becoming a pillar of successful brands and their overt positioning and messaging platforms.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Signs of Change in the Traditional Publishing World

I received a notice from one of the product managers for our R&D product lines today. It was from the editors of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)reputable Technology Review (est.1899), announcing a number of MAJOR changes revolving around their print magazine and website:

1. investing a greater percentage of available resources in interactive media.....podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds, and other new technologies
>>>read: evolve or fade the traditionally tight-budgeted world of subscription publishing, a quick response is necessary since fading can happen fast.

2. drastically increasing the number of in-depth stories published online at
>>>>read: create stickiness to increase loyal customer base, particularly in the face of growing competition that threatens the TR subscriber base.

3. decreasing in the frequency of the print magazine to a biomonthly level
>>>read: give readers what they want/need - fresh content in the format that is most easily personalized and digested.

4. shifting of coverage to the impact of emerging technologies and discontinuing the coverage of business modeels and financing of new technologies
>>>>read: business model coverage is passe since new models are now birthed on a seemingly daily basis; shift coverage to an in in-the-moment, reader-centric viewpoint based on deciphering what the current and future implications are.

For those who haven't put their chips down that revolutionary change is at our doorsteps, then this is surely a sign of what is to come in the world of content.


P.S. Wonder why this matters for marketers not in the content world? The answer is simple:

(1) Because this is impacting our customers, prospects, and brand evangelists in both B2B and B2C marketing. We either grow with them and help them grow, or risk being outgrown ourselves. It ain't about us anymore.

(2) Content (increasingly long-form content) is king in the marketing world of 2006 and beyond - it is our jobs to dish it up in quantity, quality, and in a multitude of engaging/entertaining/modern ways.