Monday, May 24, 2010

Psychological ailments of the modern marketing professional: Which of these 6 conditions does your boss display?

By Marc Sokol

If you ever watched the TV series Monk, then you will remember a detective who never misses a clue and always solves the case because of his somewhat loveable but annoyingly obsessive-compulsive personality.
Guess what? Marketing professionals are not without a few psychological foibles of their own, and I’m about to tell you what they are….

1. OMD (Obsessive Measurement Disorder) – most prevalent among high-flying marketing professionals, these people want to measure everything! Not that any of us ever display OMD, but aren’t you glad I numbered this list of disorders?

2. OMD, Type AB – a variation of the primary disorder, but these folks try to assign everyone into some type of control group (and by the way, have you wondered if only half of you are getting the post with this particular malady included?)
3. Persona Delusion Deluxe – to hear them talk, the personas these marketing professionals have created are absolutely real. Remember, you don’t have to worry if your colleagues talk to the personas, but keep your distance when they tell you the personas have been talking back to them

4. VOS (Visionary Optimism Syndrome) – the situation may look hopeless to the rest of us, but these folks insist they see a brighter future. Admit it, when you see this behavior on a really bad day, you just wonder what they have been smoking. On the positive side (which is about all you see if you have this syndrome), these marketing professionals stay calm no matter how much chaos occurs in the workplace.

5. JTS (Job Title Schizophrenia) – not to be confused with multiple personality disorder, these executives display a chameleon like capability to be CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) one day, CCO (Chief Customer Officer) the next, and SVP of Social Media and Integrative Marketing the day after. These changes are often triggered by the latest marketing fad as reported in newspapers or the Harvard Business Review.

6. EADD (Executive Attention Deficit Disorder) - Not that anyone in your company will have this, but I have known marketing professionals to display EADD. It’s not organic, but it really is psychological. I described the root cause of it in a different post.  I’m sure the CMO of your company never displays symptoms of this, nor do the senior executives. A three-step intervention can be found here.

So what gives at your office? Can you diagnose what ails your marketing colleagues? There must be at least ten disorders that afflict marketing professionals in today’s crazy organizations, but I only shared six of them.

What disorders have you seen?

Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part of M Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Is it Spin or a Big Fat Lie?

One of the things that I’ve taken to doing recently is checking out tv shows that I hadn’t really been into before, yet had no idea what I was missing. Most recently, it’s been Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (I know, I know, where have I been, right?). Episode 18 from Season One “Chat Room” includes a plot twist with a bunch of grandmas posing as a fifteen-year-old on the internet.

That episode aired in 2000 when we were all speculative about where products came from on the internet and who sent them. You might have been more likely to be “had” ten years ago as compared to today, when internet business is the way of the world.
If your website is the biggest storefront for your business, you probably want it to be the best. It’s all fa├žade, and you can control quite a bit.
But when is the control a spin vs. a lie?

Here are some things to think about when trying to tell the difference:

• Word-smithing: Do you pick words that accurate or vague? For example, would you say you have offices, locations, or a presence? They all mean different things. An office is brick-and-mortar, but could be someone’s basement. Is presence more accurate because you know your employee works out of a coffee shop?

• Logos vs. photos: Over the past couple years, a personal rule of mine is that I rarely accept or follow requests that come from avatars or logos. If there isn’t a face behind the name, I’m skeptical. Imagine customers to be that way, they want to have a face for dealings, especially when things go wrong.

• Reputable partners: We know that when we order from, we’ll get an Amazon box delivered to us in the mail. They even claim all shipping ownership online. Yet, the sticker on the box says that the USPS delivered the package. I not only trust Amazon, but I trust the USPS.

• Working links: If the site itself doesn’t work on a regular basis, filled with broken links or pages refusing to load, customers will know you don’t have your act together. Basic website maintenance is something that’s considered table stakes for customers. If you make it hard for them to get what they need, they won’t stay and may not come back.

Think about these things when building your online presence. It is important to maintaining your brand and building loyal customers.

What other things should organizations keep in mind? Are there ways to minimize spin? Is spin ok to have?

Emily Jasper is a Corporate Marketing Manager with PDI Ninth House. In addition to marketing, Emily has sales and PR experience from previous roles. She currently writes a blog, "From the Gen Y Perspective," and can be followed on Twitter at

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Monday, May 10, 2010

8 Easy Ways to Tie Social Media into Your Tradeshows

Anyone who gets Exhibitor Magazine, has seen the retro photo that is in the back of each magazine, showing a tradeshow image from what seems like a century ago. As traditional as they are, tradeshows work because we are face-to-face with so many customers in just a few days.
But now, in today’s digital age, we are faced with new opportunities to mix tradeshows with social media to make our marketing efforts go even further.

Here are a few basic ideas on how can we tie the two mediums together to make for a more memorable experience overall:

1) Write a blog post about the event either pre-show, at-show or post-show to share your experiences and knowledge.

2) Prior to the show, monitor Twitter to see if there are any trending topics related to the event. If special event #hashtags are being used, make sure to put them in all your show-related tweets.

3) Take action photos of visitors in your booth (with their permission) and post to your Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr pages.

4) Tweet about customers you met at the show, testimonials they provided, or insight they shared.

5) Team up with other people who are tweeting about the show. Retweet topics when they are relevant to your audience. At the end of the show, thank them via Twitter.

6) Consider a contest or giveaway that ties your tradeshow into social media, such as offering Facebook fans or people who mention @yourcompany a free gift at your booth.

7) Use a Flip Video camera to gather in-booth testimonials or commentary to use on YouTube, Facebook, or your company blog. Ask customers who are featured in the video to share it with their colleagues or friends.

8) Use your tradeshow contacts as a possible way to grow your Linkedin network. Always customize your message when inviting people to join you on Linkedin, especially if you just met recently.

What other ideas have you tried or are playing with? How would you expand on these basic ideas?

Jackie Kaufenberg is the Marketing Manager for Altimate Medical Inc. in Morton, Minnesota. They manufacture standing frames for people who use wheelchairs and also have a blog for people with disabilities, and medical professionals.  You can reach her via Twitter @jkaufenberg.
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Monday, May 3, 2010

“Clothes” do not make the brand

Your brand is so much more than a logo and visuals-it’s the complete personality of a product or company. So when you’re shaping that personality, you need to bring in your creative team right from the start. Otherwise it’s like asking them to mold the character of a child who’s ready for college. At that point all they can do is dress that teenager in appropriate clothes, send it out on the market, and hope for the best. Bring your creative team in early and they can help inform strategic decisions along the way. It’s vital for a consistent and effective brand strategy.

A Client Case Study:
Case in point is Indigo Identityware—a new brand created around a revolutionary software product that manages user logons and passwords within security-sensitive environments. The main selling point is, in a nutshell, simplicity. Much simpler for the user, and simpler for the organization to implement and maintain—with significant security and cost savings, too.

The new product/brand needed to define its uniqueness in a crowded marketplace. One of the key things the design/writing team can do is to be an advocate for the external audience. It was difficult for the client to step outside the techno-speak and create messages that were easy for their customers to understand—and to address the needs of both IT professionals and the decision-makers who would make the purchase. Not an easy gap to bridge. Simplicity was the essence of their product and simplifying their message was critical. We were able to drive this point home early in the process.

Finding a name was also a significant obstacle—the client needed one that projects both innovation and security. An exciting, memorable name was needed, too. The final choice, Indigo met their goals on a number of levels. The name was easy to remember, yet had multiple layers of meaning. The underlying message is that Indigo’s behind-the-scenes sophistication simply makes life easier—an identity we then developed through all of their collateral to launch their brand.

By tackling this part of the branding process early, Indigo was able to project an image of innovation and stability that was in keeping with who they are as a company, and set the stage for aggressive market penetration. Laying this foundation—this personality—early helps companies jumpstart their entry into the marketplace with their branding solidly in place.
Join in the discussion on brand development at MN AMA’s event on May 11—Design and Creativity in Brand Development: Much More Than a Logo.

Linda Henneman is Creative Principal at ThinkDesign Group, an award-winning strategic design firm in Minneapolis, MN. Without think, it’s just design.

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