Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Does Pandora have it wrong? (i think so)

Pandora recently capped the amount of free usage they will allow a user to experience within a month (a measly 40 hours). As a customer using the service at work I find the new policy extremely frustrating. Although Pandora does offer the ability to buy more time ($.99 for the rest of the month), pay for a year ($36) or stop using the service until the next month begins. I feel like they are missing a serious opportunity while at the same time offending and alienating some of their best customers in the process.

Teaser time (even if it is sizable) is the way the offline economy works. If I wanted samples I would go to Costco. I'm on the web I want free. Even more perplexing is that I'm someone really interested in marketing. I often welcome the opportunity to be "intruded" on by advertisements in my day today life. Considering that Pandora keeps advertisements so unobtrusive they can be missed, why would I spend money to avoid them? Finally, why would I pay for premium service when I have a free broadcast radio (paid for by advertising) sitting on my desk?

Pandora should take advantage of their captive audience by running interruption ads 3 minutes for every hour the service is used. Not only would my exposure to the advertisers increase, but also my loyalty to the system would remain in tact. This would help Pandora in another way too. The premium service would actually create value for some consumers. Due to the current method most of my co-workers are going around the system (deleting cookies) or finding new solutions to their radio need (i.e. broadcast, CD's, and ipods).

I feel like Pandora came up with a panic solution. It looks good on its face, but they actually created a huge opportunity for a competitor to compete successfully. Myspace made similar missteps by ignoring Facebook.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review :: Creating Magic

Creating Magic is a book I would suggest for everyone from High schooler's to Grandparents. The marketing idea behind the book is leading people in such a way that they become the brand. The book is written by the Disney executive who ran Walt Disney World for several years. It includes a lot of stories and anecdotes and it probably paints Disney in a slightly better light then it might deserve... However, that's actually a good thing. Cockerell sees Disney for what it can be which is how great leaders should see an organization. He also owns up to where they were and where they are so it can't be read as pie in the sky or idealism.

The book is really about how Disney has defined 10 key components they expect leaders to exhibit (They call them GLS- Great leadership Strategies). These are skills which develop people by affording them meaning and value in simple front line jobs. However, Cockerell's writing extends to so many other applications outside of the workplace, anyone can get something out of them.

This has probably been my favorite read of the summer, partially because I read it on my own accord. I think Disney has some of the best people in the world. Every cast member I have EVER come into contact with has been a professional and exceeded the level of service I anticipated (bare in mind I had annual passes to Disneyland for 3 years in a row).

This book is pragmatic, accessible, and in a summer of great reads something that stands out from the pack.

Warning: It is what you would expect from someone who believes in their product. I have no problem with this, I wish more people believed in what they did in the same way as Cockerell the world would be a better place.

Book Review:: What Sticks

I wouldn't suggest "What Sticks" as a valuable read for everyone. To be completely honest there are people that this book would do little or no good for. It also reads somewhat like a text book, so if that isnt your style it may not be a good fit. That said "What Sticks" is a great overview of Marketing, so much so I wonder how long before it becomes the standard for Marketing 101 or 102 courses.

A while back Seth Godin wrote on his blog about how little value there was in formal education for the Marketer. After reading this book I'd have to agree (sadly) particularly as someone who has completed almost all of my lower division undergrad work on the subject. "What Sticks" is a practical guide on the importance of data in the advertising field. "What Sticks" offers legitimate mesures to show ROI improvements or lack there of. It also gives insight into where advertising and maketing money is wasted. How and why brands are miscommunicated. "What Sticks" goes to the next level in explaining how to use data to resolve these issues. In the end, "What Sticks" is about communication. In reality, all marketing is about communication and better communication should always be the goal.

So who should read "What Sticks"?
Advertisers, Marketing Managers, Sales People, Coordinators, Leaders, and any one that needs to communicate to groups large enough where it is impossible to know the whole story.
In short, it was interesting, heady, challenging, and a very good book.
(As all suggestions by Robert have been)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ads :: Our culture and messages head on

This blog is going to have a different feel than handy hour my focus here is going to be on the placement, design and scope. It's the other side of the coin. I'll focus on things like why the message was communicated effectively, where the ad was placed, and what there is to learn. Its the other side of the coin and its an opportunity to grow on that level for me.

::Up first::
"We all want to be hero's"