Thursday, 28 March 2013

Taco Bell’s Internet Personality

I LOVE Taco Bell. I love them so much; I would take any opportunity to talk with people about how amazing Taco Bell is. All of their marketing efforts have worked on me, and I am a proud advocate for their brand. Which is a bit strange, considering I’ve never even eaten there.

Why all the passion?

Because Taco Bell’s Internet personality is someone I’d like to be best friends with. Sure, they’ve run the regular kinds of monetary driven promotions, donations, fundraisers so on and so forth. But it’s all the little things they do that add up to a quirky sense of humor, and a brand that isn’t afraid to have a little laugh at itself.

If you ever stumble upon Taco Bell’s Twitter or Facebook page, their online teams are often quick to respond – and respond with a bit of delightful tongue-in-cheek. Many service companies find social media hard to deal with because the nature of the forum can lead to disgruntled customers openly tarnishing your good name. Taco Bell is not immune to this, but instead of standard replies, they often respond with personalized solutions. Not only that, it’s obvious that their web team are given the authority to reply to customers with something a little unconventional.

So why is this so important in social media? For me, it’s the feeling that I am engaging with more than just a company – that there is a personality behind it all. You can find endless examples, like the one above, of Taco Bell just being a nice guy. And isn’t it much easier to engage with a ‘nice guy’ than a company that sees you as another statistic? Engagement goes both ways, and Taco Bell proves that giving a little back has huge returns.

Although some can argue this is all just a part of the marketing strategy of an emotionless company, when it comes to Social Media, the notion of ‘perception is reality’ rings true. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for other companies to take a leaf out of Taco Bell’s book, and spend some time being a ‘nice guy’ on the Internet (or at least a guy with a sense of humor).

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Block: securing the best ROI on your property

After watching ‘The Block’, a reality home renovation series on Channel Nine, I have come to the conclusion that there are many crucial factors that can affect the selling price of a property. It’s not only about how well the home is presented, (although that does feature high on directly affecting selling price), having a sound marketing strategy for the property sale is key to getting a high ROI for what is usually one’s highest valued asset.

There are many decision that need to be made when selling a property such as: when to put it on the market, which agent and real estate company to sell with, will the property be sold through an auction or a private sale, who will be the auctioneer (if the property sells at auction), your asking price, where to advertise… and the list goes on.

Although the TV show ‘The Block’ did not focus on how much time each bidder spent inspecting the property before showing up at the auction, on average, people spend more time choosing a car than they do on inspecting a property. According to the Melbourne Bank, potential buyers spend on average 45 minutes or less inspecting a property before purchasing it (that does not include the time spent researching the property market or the area). Since buyers don’t spend much time within the four walls of their potential new purchase, marketing the property before inspection is crucial.

An important part of the marketing strategy for the sale of the property is the advertising. The local newspaper, Australian real estate web sites, Asian real estate web sites, sign posting outside the property, and mail drops are some of the advertising options to choose from. These all cost money and it is best to understand what historical ROI these mediums have before making a decision.

A phone call to my local newspaper quoted me almost $1000 for a half page ad in the real estate section for one week. That seemed to me to be quite expensive for old fashion print media, especially when so many people are turning to on-line search engines for property searches. That said, understanding where your target market looks for properties is crucial when finally making the decision on how and where to advertise.

Although not all of us are talented home renovators like the contestants on ‘The Block’, highlighting your property’s desirable features as well as features that make your property unique during your marketing campaign is crucial. Perhaps a tasteful colourful painting on the living room wall, or a home smelling of freshly baked bread would be a suggestion for standing out that is achievable for everyone regardless of your renovation skills.

If you have sold a property, do you have any marketing strategies that you found useful that you are willing to share?

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Sony Xperia Z’s Missed Adventurous Market Segment

The latest smartphone hitting the Australian market is Sony’s new flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z. The company claims that the phone is waterproof and dustproof, these features can be extrapolated as making the phone ‘adventure proof’.

A phone that can be dropped in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes and still function normally would be appreciated by anyone who has had to dig deep into their pocket to replace a handset that has been ruined by exposure to water. None of the other phones dominating the smartphone market to this point can boast of being both water and dustproof (ex. Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, HCT One).

The Xperia Z is very much targeted at the upper class tertiary educated 25-40 year old who enjoys life and appreciates a quality phone camera that will capture their adventurous moments. A market segment that Sony has missed in terms of targeting are mothers of young children, who highly value anything that is electrical and waterproof.

With sons aged 2 and 3 years old, (who I collectively refer to as my ‘jungle animals’), I am constantly in the middle of daily if not hourly ‘adventure’. I have had to replace a smart phone after ‘nobody’ dropped it in the toilet recently. It’s replacement was quickly covered with a military grade, dust, water, and shock proof case. The downfall of this case is that the sound is very muffled, leading me to question why I have a phone if I struggle to use it for it’s most basic of functions: communicating on the phone.

The number of times that I have to ‘rescue’ my phone from testing the true capabilities of its protective case vary on a daily basis, but usually range within the 5-10 mark. Fish tanks, sinks and bath tubs filled with soapy water, and even sprinklers and swimming pools are potential dangers to my phone. Ideally I want to have a phone that I can use without a cover and be assured that it is going to endure a day in my household.

Had the Xperia Z been targeted to also include those caring for little ones, I’m sure that Sony’s ‘waterproof-dustproof-adventure proof’ features would have been recognized as sought after handset for this market segment.

When have you seen a product overlook a very relevant segment of a target market?

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Centenarian Oreo stays Young through Social Media Campaign

Not every brand survives 5-10 years of existence, and even fewer can brag about being a centenarian. So what’s the secret behind Oreo’s over 100 years of success? Good Marketing of course.

Recently Oreo, the delicious crunchy dark chocolate cookie whose two biscuits sandwich a disk of contrasting white ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ sweet crème, has focused on building a strong and creative social media presence.

A highly relevant advertisement on Twitter during the 30 minute blackout at the Superbowl this year has made Social Media Marketers turn to Oreo in terms of resetting the bar for social media campaigns.

Oreo has struck gold once again with their latest social media campaign. They have chosen 4 teams of ‘Super Oreo Lovers’ with mechanical backgrounds to build ‘Oreo Separator machines’. The overall goal of the Oreo Separator is to separate the cookie from the crème so that the preferred part of an Oreo cookie can be fully enjoyed. The above video is just one of the 4 inventions created for this purpose (the other three videos can be found on YouTube). This video obtained over 4 million views in less than 4 weeks, a result even better than what the Oreo marketing team could have wished for.

Oreo has managed to obtain such a high number of views on YouTube by tapping into a key insight: People have a preference between the cookie and crème, and are therefore interested in separating the cookie to isolate and eat their favorite part. In the past Oreo has used this key insight to build campaigns based around ‘how do you like to eat your Oreo?’. They have now taken this concept a step further and have asked the more mechanically inclined ‘how would you separate your Oreo?’.

Other leading brands such as Coca-Cola, Gillette, and RedBull have successfully navigated the social media domain. History has shown that to have a successful social media presence you must be able to continue to provide creative and relevant material.

I’m looking forward to see how Oreo will maintain the social media buzz around their brand for decades to come, especially now that the bar has been raised.

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Personal information. Where to from here.

The Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney was fortunate to have Jodie Sangster, CEO of the ADMA (Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising) present as part of a panel discussing the use of personal data for marketers gain.

Jodie explained that a customer’s journey starts from the minute you start talking or engaging a potential customer to the point where they are no longer your customer anymore. Between these two goal posts is the window of opportunity for your brand to impress customers and to keep them on side with your offerings.

Maintaining these two goal posts wide apart on a time line means that you are keeping your customer for as long as possible. The way to do this is by engaging with them. What better way to engage with a customer than to use the information that you have collected about them to better understand their needs and interests and then to serve them individually targeted messages?

So where does the ADMA fit into all of this? The Associations role is to work with government and business to help determine fair ground rules for customers and businesses, considering both of their interests in advertising and marketing transactions.

Jodie stated that the discussion regarding data is being pulled in three distinct directions when it comes to the use of personal information in targeted marketing communications:
  1. Businesses want to use data so that they can offer more relevant, targeted messages to customers. 
  2. The government considers the realms of personal data being used by marketers an “unmanageable” according to Jodie. There is a lack of understanding of how data is being used, and the laws that have been established to regulate privacy are struggling to keep up with technological advancements. 
  3. Then there is the consumer sitting in the middle of this rapidly developing area of privacy laws. Customers divulge their personal information for a number of reasons, and in return they want their personal data to be treated with respect. If the line of respect is crossed in terms of exploiting personal data, customers will become understandably upset.
Jodie and her colleagues at the ADMA no doubt have their job cut out for them as I can imagine that there is not a dull moment in their Sydney based office.

How has your company kept up to date with changes to the regulations concerning the use of personal information for marketing purposes?

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

John Sergeant’s take on the Magic of Marketing

I’ve crossed paths with John Sergeant on enough occasions to predict that when he opens his mouth to speak you know that you are in for a succinct slice of his wisdom delivered with humor and enough wit to make even the driest of topics interesting.

It was no surprise that John had a room full of current students, alumni, industry leaders and fellow teaching staff from the Master of Marketing Program at the University of Sydney intently listening to his panel discussion on the future of marketing last week.

When John addressed the questions of what do Marketers do, he didn’t hesitate for a minute to think about his response. He said, “Marketers produce an intangible good. It’s magic. A Marketer’s job is to infiltrate the magic into the business in a way that makes it relevant to individuals”.

When asked ‘How do you understand the magic that marketers do?’, John responded, “you have to start by getting out of the mental habit of referring to human beings as consumers. Habits of speech become habits of mind. Continually referring to people as consumers is a habit of marketers that stands in the way of delivering empathy”.

John even delivered a potentially lucrative offer to his future 2013 students. Students that catch him referring to people as ‘consumers’, will be paid 5$ out of John’s hard earned cash in return for his sinful referral.

It’s easy to forget that our business is about adding the magic and not simply dealing with the numbers that present themselves as a result of the data explosion. What is important, however, is to understand the insights that the data offer us, turn those insights into a very fine magic powder and then sprinkle that magic powder over the business. And that’s what Marketing is all about, according to John.

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Digital Marketing: Understanding where your target audience is on-line

James Butcher, Group Sales Manager at Microsoft Media Networks shared his wisdom on digital marketing at an event hosted by the University of Sydney’s Master of Marketing program last week.

When James started working in on-line marketing 8 years back facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest didn’t exist. Running on-line campaigns was a simple task of creating a presence on Google’s ‘Search’.

How things have changed
With the predicted shift of tablet devices becoming the primary household computer based device by 2015, James believes that on-line marketing will gain in importance as more people will be able to connect to the internet easier.

According to James, on-line marketing is now all about tapping into the passion points of your target audience so that you can better understand your customer’s internet comings and goings. The ultimate goal is to create advertising touch points for your product or service to parallel their on-line locations.

For example, if an Axe/ Lynx deodorant (Unilever product) digital marketing campaign was created for a target audience of males aged 25-30 years old, digital Marketers must understand what interests they are likely to have and what other media they are tracking on-line in the day. In the morning while eating breakfast, where are they reading the news? During lunch, are they check the footy scores on-line? In the late afternoon do they use the internet to quickly catch up on celebrity gossip? How much disposable income do they have, does this affect how much time they spend on-line? Are they city dwellers? Have they previously engaged with the brand?

There has been an enormous shift in on-line marketing recently. I’m keen to see what the digital marketing space will look like in 5 years’ time.

How has your company shifted its on-line presence in the past 3 years to adjust to more tech savvy customers?

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Samsung Galaxy S3? Apple iPhone 5? Sony Xperia Z? Or Nothing

It is time for a new smart phone. My iPhone 3 has been losing one function at a time due to wear and tear. Last week I realised that I could no longer turn off the phone, two nights ago the volume control stopped working. I thought that buying a new phone would be a fun and easy activity.

A visit to the local Westfield to check out smart phones left me overwhelmed. With 40 phones to choose from and just an hour up my sleeve to choose the right phone, a quick decision was necessary. For me, a phone is not just a piece of plastic/metal with a fancy screen and some buttons on the side. A phone isn’t just a purchase, but rather more like an adoption. The phone that I choose would be another member of my family…. it would follow me around for most of the day, live in my handbag, have a safety case, be invited to all family events, take pictures of my family, video birthdays and graduations, text my friends, call my parents. A phone is my ‘digital’ best friend.

So after chatting with the smart phone expert at one of the leading mobile phone shops, I decided that I just wasn’t ready to buy. There was too much choice. I needed to go home and do a little bit more research and figure out what were the most important features for me. Did I want to just purchase the new iPhone 5 and then realise that the Samsung Galaxy S3’s camera was better, or would the Sony Xperia Z suit my needs because it’s waterproof and that would surely protect my phone if one day the kids were to decide to put the phone in the fish tank, or worse, the toilet?

This scenario isn’t uncommon. When customers are presented with too many choices, a phenomenon called ‘choice paralysis’ occurs. It can be easier to make no choice than to make a choice that you will regret post purchase. Studies have shown that people are attracted to variety, but find it easier to choose a product and complete the purchase when there are a smaller number of choices available. Post purchase regret is also less of a factor when the amount of choice is less.

So what’s the perfect amount of choice? 2-3 items, or 9-10 items, or somewhere in between? Does it vary for the type of product? Marketers must determine how to frame products to make customers feel that they have been offered enough variety but not too much choice to make a customer second guess their purchase.

I still haven’t decided which phone to buy but I have narrowed the possible 40 phones down to two finalists. I no longer feel as overwhelmed with choice because I have taken the time to research my decision. This luxury of product research does not occur for all the products that I buy, but for this purchase I wanted to get it right.

When did you feel like you were overloaded with choice and decided to walk away from a purchase rather than have post purchase regret?

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School