Thursday, August 28, 2008

The times they are a-changin' (again)

My bookmark bar keeps changing. I now have a totally different bookmark bar to the one I had even a month ago.

BBC, SMH, ABC, etc – gone to the sidelines. Even the weather’s been bumped from prime position.

New diggs on the block; Google Reader, facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, Diigo, Addict-o-matic (heard about this via the amazing Gavin Heaton).

What’s changed?

I can now get micro-relevant content. Me-centric information. Katie-focussed bites.

I can subscribe to feeds and sites that tell me what’s happening in my world, in words, sounds and images that have personal meaning. And for the first time, today I checked facebook before I checked the weather.

Yep. The world’s changing (again).

But the changes we’re seeing with Web 2.0 (and beyond) are different: subtle at times, penny dropping at others, but without shadow of a doubt, different.


For sure, Web 2.0 is sparking change at a mass social/community level. But – and this is what’s different – it’s sparking change in a personally noticeable and shout-worthy way at the individual level too.

Exciting stuff. This, indeed, is a new age of conversation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Porcupine books (ouch!)

I call them Porcupine books because they have lots of pages I’ve tagged with little post-its and they kind of remind me of a porcupine’s quills.

It’s a simple and effective rating system: the more quills (tags), the more useful or interesting the read.

Anyway, I thought I’d start sharing my Porcupine book list. Today’s pick is one of my all time top-rating Porcupines.

Title: The Brand Innovation Manifesto

Author: John Grant

ISBN: 0470027517

Source: My very clever friend David, from The Red Brick Road, told me about it.

Nutshell: Best brand read for a long, long time: it fundamentally changed the way I think about brands and branding. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Does it have to be so freaking boring?

I went to two presentations this week: one was about the Consumer of The Future and the other was about Greenwashing. I find both to be fascinating topics.

A number of speakers presented at each session, but two really stood out.

The first was Mel Silva, from Google Financial Services, at the Consumer of The Future session.  Mel gave a cracking presentation: very engaging, perfectly paced, and (thus) ultimately useful.

Different story for the presentations at the Greenwashing session. To my disappointment, the presentations were excruciatingly boring in a collapse on the floor, very dramatic, “I can’t bear another minute of this” kind of way a bit dull. While I desperately wanted to listen, and desperately tried to listen, I just couldn’t get my brain to engage. Instead, I spent the hour (one of the longest I can remember) thinking about other things entirely.  I don’t even know what the speakers said. Aaarrggghhh.

I wonder how much this happens in research debriefs? Slide after slide of insight and stats that clients want to know about, need to know about, but can’t get interested about. Because of the way it’s presented (Zebra presentations excluded of course!).

Come on research land. We have interesting (fascinating!) stories to tell. Let’s not let ourselves down with boring presentations. Think of ways to spiff them up (and I don’t mean Powerpoint clipart).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Band-aid Qualitative Research

A quick read. Fast turnaround. Need a topline by Wednesday.

I haven’t quantified this trend, but based on our sample of one (Zebra!), there seem to be a lot more of these types of projects around.

I put it down to two key reasons:

1. The nature of our clients’ subject matter (Web 4.0 anyone?). On this front, it’s all about faster, more efficient, leaner…

2. The seeming trend to forgo strategy research upfront. Invariably, this means a lot more last minute jitters and what is, essentially, band-aid research.

Well, you shouldn’t have been running on the asphalt. Research could have told you where the grass was greener in the first place.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The social media marketing front(ier)

I went to a fantastic session this morning put on by AIMIA, all about social media marketing (SMM): great speakers, great content and a lot of food for thought.

I thought Julian raised a very interesting point in his presentation: there’s a lot more to SMM than just starting a conversation. You have to hang in there to develop the relationship. Be there for the long run. Listen and respond. Give a little of yourself. Add value.

Of course, this isn’t a SMM issue per se. Regardless of the technology they use, some brands seem to be more genuinely interested and concerned and open to what their customers say – ready to respond and adapt accordingly – than others. All things being equal, I’d bet the former would have a much more successful SMM experience than the latter.

But what’s a ‘more successful’ SMM experience? What should we be measuring here? 

As always, it depends on the marketing objectives. But here’s the exciting bit: in this dynamic, unbridled space, the marketing objectives themselves need to shift, considerably, from how we’ve defined them in the past. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The more you know

The more you know about something, the more you realise that you don't really know very much about it at all. Relatively speaking.

This is a gem that’s held true for my whole learning life. It’s a concept I love, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

It means there’s always more to learn: a lovely thing for a qualitative researcher. On the other hand, it’s not quite so lovely for arriving at conclusions. 

Further research is (always) warranted...