Random thoughts

“Candid Call Centre” raises the questions: what is connecting and what is conversation?

Angel Chen has started a call centre where people can call in and discuss issues of importance to them — the kind of serious, economy, type stuff that we have become familiar with in blogs and tweets and forums. It’s an 1-888 number that people from all over North America can, and apparently do, call to discuss in a conversation with other people, live, in real-time, their opinions on stuff. I think this is brilliant. But more than that, it makes me wonder whether the explosion of opinion that the digital world has fostered, has anything to do with honesty, connectivity or conversation.

While I write this, or any blog, or any tweet or any comment on any forum, I am alone, expressing my viewpoint with no fear of actually being confronted by another opinion. Sure, I expect some response, in some cases a lot of response. But it’s not the same as the reaction that occurs when I say something to somebody live, especially in person, but also very much on the phone.

There’s something about the raw reality of being interrupted that makes conversation entirely different from anything that happens online. Even messaging is entirely different. It’s more immediate than blogging or commenting, or even tweeting, but I can still ignore the comments that I want to ignore. I don’t have to truly face the question: how am I going to respond here and now; what am I going to do if I am entirely wrong and the other person catches me out? (online I simply write off their critical comments as coming from misunderstanding my point, or I make a feeble attempt to explain my position and then become bored and do something else.

This is not conversation. This is not connecting. I’m not sure what it is, and I obviously can’t condemn it too strongly by way of this blog. But I can raise the point and in doing so, express my admiration for Angel. For the past few years social heroes have by definition had to make change through the power of the internet and social media. But, Angel shows that this has been short-sighted, and because of it I think we have lost the real meaning of conversation.

I would say get involved, call the Candid Call Centre and have a conversation, but I don’t know the number…the Star in their coverage of Angel and her breakthrough contribution, did not publish the number. Which is as telling as anything else…if it had been a website, you can bet they would have published the URL.


Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Luxury Marketing: How to Sell Ham at $500/kg ($225/lb). Twenty Seven Times More Expensive than Loblaws

Easy. The same way you would any other grocery product: list three or four functional benefits and put it on sale.

So, here’s a sign from Pusateri’s in Yorkville. Notice that the ham promises that it is rich in Proteans  (oops, sorry, Proteins), Calcium, Phospherous, Iron and Vitamins B1 and B12.  Considering that Loblaws was offering (March 27 flyer) San Daniele prosciutto silver, deli sliced for  $1.79/100g or $17.90/kg, the Pusetteri’s ham should contain around 27 times as much Protein, iron, calcium, vitamins, etc. Or no rational person would pay the equivalent of $50 per gram for something that cannot be snorted no matter how hard and fast you chopped it.

But, of course, no rational person would pay this, so Pusateris has DISCOUNTED the stuff. For a limited time (presumably limited to this life-time) you can buy the ham not for $500/kg, but for $440/kg a savings of $60/kg.

Pusateris Super Discount on Prosciuto

Managed to fight the crowds to get a clear shot of this in-store merchandising device. Note that there is no mention of better taste, cleaner pigs, or any unrational reason to pay a premium of 2700% for prosciutto.

Who says the stupid rich aren’t suckers for a good deal. But, as any retailer knows, they should have included this in the weekly flyer.

Filed under: Are they stupid or just mean: design idiocy in action, Behavioral Economics, , , , , , , ,

Surely We’ve Figured Social Media Out by Now

I have just returned from a really serious, important Branding Roundtable. The smartest branders (or, as the English roundtablers called them, Marketeers) discussed hospitality marketing in the most serious, sometimes academic terms (it was, after all, hosted at Cornell University, by the Center for Hospitality Research). We learned many things, and we taught many things. All in all, time very well spent.

But, this is the second year in a row I have attended this, and I have attended myriad similar conferences and round tables and symposia in this and other categories, in the US< Canada and  other countries, over the past four years. maybe five. And there is one constant. One conversation that has not changed in content, tone, volume, intensity, or anything. And that is: Social Media and “we know this is changing the world, but we don’t understand it and how to do it.” Every time, every where, we hear the same mantra: we don’t understand Social Media but it is very important and we need to understand it. A subtext: we need to use it more, but not like everybody else is using it. we need to be “strategic” (unlike everybody else). And yet, when asked what being strategic means, we hear , “we don’t understand it yet….”

Okay. I get it. But I don’t.

"According to a research done by AAL, there are a billion social media experts on the internet. Do you know what do they do on a daily basis? After “interviewing” more than 20 (actually none) experts, this is what I found out."
This comes from a brilliant blog by Aaron Lee -- click on the image to link to her post.

We do understand it. Many companies are strategic. Many companies do utilize the various SM options tactically to generate sales. Many companies think of Twitter as a wonderful way of finding our what people are thinking about them; spreading news, etc.

So, let’s all make a deal: we will never say the following words in our out loud voice: “we don’t understand social media.” Let’s also make a pact to stop saying that everybody else is not using Social Media strategically. If we think this, then we’re not paying attention to what other companies are doing!

On another, but similar point, we can now stop patronizing youth. We say — and I am referring to “marketeers” — that we need to get a a handle on “young people” who have grown up completely digitally and live completely differently from anything we have experienced. And we need to listen to them about their “new world,” etc. Yes, people growing up these days used technology forma younger age than people growing up before them. But, and they will be the first to agree (I know, I personally called every young person and asked them) that this digital difference does not define them. They do not spend all their waking moments doing incomprehensible “digitalism’ on Facebook and

Twitter. They do “digitalistic” things, like texting, when they are with friends or in class. But, they also talk to friends in person, go to movies, watch TV, read books (okay, okay, they do it on ipads, except they don’t really if you look at the penetration of digital readers compared to the total number of people who read). They laugh, cry and wonder about the world around them. they have no greater comprehension of the qwerty keyboard than anybody else; and their thumbs are still roughly the same size as anybody else’s in spite of texting on tiny keyboards. They don’t really expect everything to happen instantly, even if some things, like texting somebody, can indeed happen quickly. They shop. They buy stuff that makes them happy and they buy stuff that they hate and that they think is crap and return it to the store. They listen to their friends’ advice on what to buy and then make their own decisions. They are exposed to advertising and remember clever tag lines and jingles (yes, jingles!).  They also smoke, drink and do drugs, which is about as analog as you can get!

Mostly, they are tired of being patronized by a generation of marketeers that has too much time on its collective hands!

One final plea: please don’t turn “today’s patronized youth” into a sociological/marketing insight.

There…now you know. And if you are seriously interested in who does this right, look at stores like Canadian Tire or their sister brand Sport Check.

Filed under: Are they stupid or just mean: design idiocy in action, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Is Behavioral Economics Really a Game Changer for Marketers?

Much has been written, and said, lately about the impact of behavioral economics on marketing. Some pay no attention to it, some fear it and some adapt it to their own particular cause. But, in reality, does behavioral economics really change anything?

Read more about this at the CMA Blog. Click here (or anywhere, actually)

Filed under: Behavioral Economics, , , , , , , , , ,

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