Monday, April 27, 2009

Remember When Your Parents Yelled At You?

people yelling I was reading the blog Dan Pankraz vs. Youth and the post Start Whispers … never Yell. In the post his 25yo cousin says of brands “Whisper don’t yell at me…if you whisper, i’m more likely to listen to what you’re saying and tell my mates”. Dan goes on to note that “the more intimate gestures we provide to youth via a ‘whisper’ the more likely they are to listen”.

It reminded me of a meeting I was in the other day. There were 6 of us and one of the people at the meeting was one of those people who seemed to just command respect in the conversation because when he spoke we all listened and no one jumped in before he was finished. Why?

Because he whispered.

We’ll he didn't exactly whisper whisper but he spoke really softly. He certainly didn’t yell. It seemed to me that he was deliberately speaking quietly so that people would listen.

Some people are just quietly spoken, never wanting to be in the spotlight, but there are others who use it as an effective tool to make themselves heard. Sounds like a contradiction right? Speak quietly so that you are heard!

What can actually happen when someone, in a conversation, speaks quietly, is that others have to stop an listen otherwise they may miss something important and it may be hard to continue the conversation.

It means that the others have to slow their thoughts down (instead of rapidly thinking about what they can say next) and it means the speaker can command respect and make sure their point is made. The flip side is that if they spoke really loudly, aggressively and never let you finish your points then you would get the impression that they didn’t really care what you had to say and they didn't really want to have a proper conversation with you.

It reminds me of one of Hugh MacLeod’s ( cartoons which reads “if you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch ifyoutalkedtopeople-thumbyou in the face”.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents yelled at you? Well, because you didn’t have the guts to punch them in the face you next option was to not really listen. Instead you just nodded begrudgingly and waited for them to finish. You didn’t really take in anything that they were saying (which probably explains why I was in trouble half of the time).

Are brands really that different especially when a lot of us talk about having conversations with the market?

Think about it. Does the brand you work for feel as though you are yelling at people all the time? Maybe not as extreme as yelling but does your brand just broadcast at people? If so, chances are, just like when you were a little kid, your customers are not listening.

Are there brands that you feel yell at you all the time and could take a softer approach to get your attention?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oyster’s Favourite Blogs

I thought I would share with you the blogs that I currently have under my “Favourites” folder in Google Reader.

If I am strapped for time then these blogs always get read first. No offence to any of the other great blogs I read but you can’t all be favourites (so please try harder). If you don’t already read these blogs then I highly recommend them. The blogs are in alphabetical order so I am not playing any favourites – besides, asking me to put them in favourite order would be like asking a father to pick which one of his kids he likes better (we all know that Dad’s like the eldest the best).


A Digital Perspective (Jye Smith) Got to meet Jye when catching up with Julian Cole for a beer one day when I was visiting Sydney. Jye’s posts are always interesting and sometimes slightly controversial (I like that though). I like Jye cause he said my jokes are funny. He also ran an interview of me on his post here.


Acidlabs (Stephen Collins) Canberra (and even Tuggeranong) based so he gets points. Started the Social Media Breakfasts in Canberra but gets testy if you turn up without RSVPing :) Stephen doesn’t mind being forceful when writing his posts which usually gets some feathers ruffled.


Adspace Pioneers (Julian Cole) Met Jules for the first time a few months ago when visiting Sydney. Gave my blog a kick start when he listed it on a “new blogs to read” post on his blog when I first started. I returned the favour by sticking up for him on YouTube when some clowns took offence to his Samboy entry.


Another Advertising Wanker (Nathan Bush) Despite being a Raiders fan I still like him. His blog and mine are fairly similar in that we don’t always write about the current popular topic but instead relate our own day-to-day experiences. Haven’t had a beer with him yet but not keen to go to Brisbane because XXXX beer stinks. Come to Canberra Nathan!


Brand DNA (Stan Lee) I always liked Stan’s articles in Marketing Magazine and his blog is short, sharp and interesting (definitely not the “sermon from the mount” style that a lot of blogs deliver). I think he is a Scouser (but don’t hold that against him).


Canadian University Marketing (Morgan Coudray) Morgan is a bit like Nathan Bush and myself in that he often writes interesting posts that aren’t always about the current popular topic but instead relate his own day-to-day experiences. His blogs often make me leave a comment (which I believe should be a goal of most blogs).


Consumer Psychologist (Adam Ferrier) Adam’s take on marketing is grounded in psychology and I always like blogs that can comment on current issues while linking them back to theory. I almost met him when in Melbourne last time but the timing was out – it was a shame because he strikes me as the sort of bloke that you could have some really interesting conversations with. Keep your phone on Adam …


Current Issues in Marketing (Josh Strawczynski) One of the first blogs I started reading. Invited me to be a guest commentator on this Red Bull Post. Has been very quiet of late … Josh, come on mate, don’t make me move you out of my Favourites folder.


Marketing Today, Monash University Australia (Peter Wagstaff) A podcast rather than a blog but Wags is the man I credit for inspiring me to blog, particularly one of my most popular posts – the one that got listed as a finalist in the Moggies.I now provide semi-regular social media reports for the podcast.


Pigs Don’t Fly (Zac Martin) Has the honour of being the first person to leave a comment on my blog. Since then I have become an avid reader of his blog which is typically youthful and irreverent.  He was kind enough to write a post about what brands can learn about my entry into blogging (which was very humbling).


Servant of Chaos (Gavin Heaton) Is it just me or does Gavin Heaton feel like the “Dad” of Aussie Blogging? (no offence Gavin, it’s a compliment). A wise head among young and enthusiastic bloggers? His posts are wide and varied but always provide great detail and thinking where applicable.


The Zeitgeists (Kate Kendall) Online editor of and recently asked me to participate in the first “Moment with Marketers” interview. Didn’t get a chance to catch up with her when in Melbourne last time but is on my list for coffee for my next visit.


Zakazukha Zoo (Matt Granfield) Once described me as his favourite Canberra blogger (awww shucks). Always writes posts that seem to have a deeper level to them than most – might be because he works in a social media marketing agency. As per Nathan Bush, I haven’t had a beer with Matt yet but not keen to go to Brisbane because XXXX beer stinks. Come to Canberra Matt (bring Nathan)!

The thing that struck me about this list is it is almost exclusively Australian (except for one blog). I wondered why this was and I think it is because the Aussie blogging community has been very supportive and encouraging since I joined its ranks late last year. Often they are only too willing to lend a hand, some advice or encouragement. I wonder if this is because we don’t really have too many bloggers in Australia that are “too big for their boots”?

For example, I sent an email to a very prominent American blogger asking for a favour, and I regularly leave comments on his blog (so it is not like he wouldn't have seen my name before), but I never even got the courtesy of a response (negative or positive). Anytime I email or Tweet any of the people in the list above I always get a response. Now I am loyal to their blogs.

To a certain extent I think that social media should be used to meet people and it is certainly a pleasant result of starting to blog as I didn’t really think far enough ahead to think that I might meet so many new and interesting people in the marketing profession. It also seems that once I meet people (and spend a little time with them) then I take a keener interest in their blogs – not sure why this is. Maybe the Adam Ferrier can dissect that for us.

If you to have a blog or two that you really like, and it isn’t listed above, then please make sure ou let us know about it by leaving a comment.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Real Reason You Got Sucked In To Buying Bottled Water

This week, 60 minutes claimed that all of us that have bought bottled water have been conned. Charles Wooley said “I don't know it might be just a matter of perception but the heart of the whole argument is a public belief that somehow or other bottled water is purer and somehow safer than this water I just poured from a tap.”

Charles continued “Jon Dee, founder of the environmental campaign group Planet Ark, believes we've fallen for one of the biggest marketing scams of all time.” with Jon adding “The simple fact is we've been conned by the bottled water industry and they're laughing all the way to the bank.”

What a load of rubbish! Here’s why …

Often I leave comments on people’s blogs which try to take conversations bake to some basic marketing theory. Theory that as far as I know has never been disproved. It is important that we often re-set to some of this theory because they are the absolute building blocks of the marketing profession. One of my favourites is value.

The 60 minutes story took the basic and ignorant line that anyone who buys bottled water is doing so because they believe the value in drinking bottled water, over tap water, lies in the claims made about bottled water being better for you. bottled water

Marketing is about exchanging value and the value in this exchange, for the majority of us, does not lie in receiving the claimed health benefits of bottled water. The value lies in the convenience of obtaining bottled water.

Most of you would know about the 4 P’s of the marketing mix – Product, Price, Place, Promotion – if you don’t, Google it.

Now, before I get into this please note that I know the 4 P’s never work in isolation however the story basically pushed the line that the main reason we buy bottled water is because the product and the promotion are what sucks us in. In fact, it is the opposite.

The least important element of the marketing mix when selling bottled is Promotion. Closely followed by the Product (enhanced/purified water). More important are the Place and Price elements.

That’s why we don’t actually see that much advertising for bottled water. It’s because the manufacturers know that they should be concentrating their marketing dollars on the Place and Promotion elements.

Question: Would you buy a bottle of water for 50c - $1 if you knew it was just tap water? I would, because it is convenient and I see value in not having to carry my own water bottle with me everywhere I go and trying to find a tap to fill it up from. For the record, I always drink tap water if it is easily accessible and that is why the Place element is also more important than the Product and Promotion elements.

However, I know a sample size of 1 is dangerous so I would like you to take 2 secs and let me know on the poll on the left hand side which of the 4 P’s is most important to you when you buy bottled water.

Cartoon courtesy of - The Far Left Side by Mike "nature boy" Stanfill

For free: a multi-media course on blogging

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drink Drivers – Blame Advertising

60 Minutes ran a story a few weeks ago titled “Killer at the Wheel”. It was a story on drink drivers and how it has ripped apart families in a heart beat because some moron was drink driving. You can see the whole story by clicking on the link below (not sure why I couldn’t embed the video but it just wouldn’t work).

It hit me pretty hard, being a new dad of a 4 month old boy, and I found myself fighting back a few tears as I wondered what it would be like for a drunk driver to take him from us. I even have a lump in my throat and watery eyes as I write this now.

The story talked about how the law is too soft. While I agree that the law is too soft I also think advertising is to blame. Lately there has been a significant move away from shock tactics in campaigns against drink driving. An example can be seen in this ad.

This ad is not shocking. Sure it might be emotional but it is not shocking. This ad tells me that if I drink and drive and kill a child then I will at least get to spend the rest of my life with my family and lead a pretty normal life (albeit with guilt). It is just not a strong enough message.

If you saw the story on 60 Minutes, or watched the story above, then you probably felt sick listening to the mother talking about how she held her daughter’s decapitated head in her hands after a drunk driver hit them head on. Just stop for a second and imagine what that would actually be like.

It made me feel sick to my stomach. This is the feeling drink driving ads should be aiming for. And I think advertising companies should take the high ground and insist on stronger messages.