Industry Q&A: What’s Up With B2B Marketing in Argentina?

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

Martin J. Frias
Martin J. Frias

Thanks to an introduction from the longtime agency pro and university instructor Freddy Rosales, I had the chance to meet Martin J. Frias, who filled me in. Here’s what I learned.

Ruth Stevens: How do B2B marketers in Argentina approach new customer prospecting these days?

Martin Frias: Twenty years ago, we would buy databases from trade publications and data vendors, and use them to cold call, trying to reach senior executives. The problem in those days was getting past the gatekeepers.

Stevens: What has changed since then?

Frias: Three things. First, technology. Buyers now have anonymous access to product information. Sellers — even smaller brands — are using marketing automation like InfusionSoft, Marketo, and a local provider called Doppler emBlue to conduct event-triggered campaigns. Second, inbound marketing, meaning content posted by sellers on LinkedIn and blogs. Third, a larger role for marketing, as active members of inside sales and lead qualification teams. But I must tell you, not all firms are moving toward this kind of modern marketing. Most are still doing the same old push email and events.

Stevens: So, what’s still missing?

Frias: A shared vision between sales and marketing about the entire demand generation and sales process. The two sides need to agree on what is a lead, how to define qualification, and identify the tools needed to operate — from marketing automation, to CRM, to ERP. In short, sales and marketing need to take joint responsibility for guiding the buying process.

Stevens: I am hearing that WhatsApp is a favorite tool here. Please explain.

Frias: Yes, WhatsApp offers an enterprise network tool that integrates with marketing automation, so you can manage omnichannel messaging via WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and others. But you have to be careful. It can backfire. Many business buyers consider WhatsApp an exclusively personal medium, and they resent receiving business communications through it. Also, I think businesses may worry that their targeted communications could fall into the hands of competitors, thanks to WhatsApp’s extraordinary ease of sharing.

Stevens: Are there any prospecting data sources available now?

Frias: You can buy data, or you can buy access. For example, there’s an IT community platform here with a half a million subscribers. Marketers generally don’t trust the databases that are for sale. At my agency, we use LinkedIn Sales Navigator; whereby, we can contact 5 million Argentinean professionals, mostly those in middle management. We use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index, company size, industry, and title for segmentation, and we attract the targets with content.

Stevens: Is there a professional association for B2B marketers in Argentina?

Frias: No. I wish there were. There is a post-grad program in B2B marketing offered at ITBA, one of our leading engineering schools. The tech industry is really the leader in B2B marketing here. Other key industries, like oil and gas, manufacturing, and construction, are more interested in brand positioning and awareness, and less about lead generation. So, they focus on their websites, value propositions, sales collateral, trade shows, and business events — like golf outings, and sponsoring sports events. They’re not using content, marketing automation, and lead management.

Stevens: Please tell me about yourself and how you became active in B2B marketing here in Argentina.

Frias: I started at Oracle Hyperion, heading a lead generation team in the financial services area. Then I worked at several other firms. Now, I have a 15-person agency called Pragmativa. We offer full B2B demand generation services, including website design, search marketing, display advertising, content, social media, and marketing automation. So, we’ll run a client’s prospecting, and manage their data. The one thing we don’t do, because I don’t believe in it, is cold-call telemarketing. Despite frequent requests from clients.

Stevens: Anything else you’d like to share?

Frias: Yes, I have a B2B marketing blog, in Spanish, and welcome followers.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Tips for Entering Awards: Why Earning an ECHO Means More Now

Here are a few tips for a better campaign entry into the Association of National Advertisers International ECHO Awards competition.

A lot of people don’t realize that the Association of National Advertisers International ECHO Awards competition has been around a long time a really long time like 90 years! Nearly as long as ANA itself.

But this is the first year, from call to entries (Spring 2019) to awards presentation and gala (March 2, 2020, in Orlando at the all-new ANA Masters in Data & Technology Conference), that ANA has complete stewardship of these global top awards in data-inspired marketing. ANA inherited the ECHOs from its acquisition of Data & Marketing Association last summer.

Wow, if you ever wanted to showcase your data prowess in brand engagement, then this year and all years, going forward is a most-perfect opportunity to do so. ANA’s mission is all about brands and growth. Now’s our time to show brands firsthand how data is today’s workhorse in brand engagement and can integrate, beautifully and strategically, with creative storytelling and, vitally, produce business results.

This is how you earn (and win) an ECHO, with the extended call for entries open until Aug. 30. No last chance for a summer Friday!

Tips on Prepping a Better Award Entry An ECHO or Anywhere

I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a judge and jurist on several award competitions and recently, I conferred with some of my judging colleagues of the ECHOs. Here’s a few resulting tips for a better campaign entry.

Why Enter Awards, in the First Place?

First, it helps your career to gain recognition for marketing excellence among peers, your boss, your clients … and with ANA fully vested in brands (and their ad partners), that’s a whole new layer of industry recognition. Second, by becoming part of a knowledge base of “the best of the best,” you help elevate the practice of data-inspired marketing at a moment in marketing history where data-love is in high demand.

Prep Your Entry Offline Before Entering Online

Prepping the entry offline allows more freedom to write and rewrite, spell check (yes, THAT matters), and just make sure you cover each section thoroughly. Also, if English is not your first language (this is an international competition but administered in English), consider having someone who is a native English speaker review and edit your entry. That will help make sure mistakes in language don’t affect judges’ abilities to comprehend your brilliance.

Be considerate of the way judges will be reading your entry … so do NOT write one long paragraph. Instead, break sections of explanatory copy up into smaller paragraphs and don’t be afraid to bullet copy to convey or emphasize key points.

Give Context Regarding the Problem or Opportunity That a Campaign Seeks to Solve for

Don’t assume a judge has heard of the advertiser or is familiar with its products or services selected judges may come from all over the world. Set the stage for the story you’re about to tell, so it helps put your entry in a business context.  Data-inspired campaigns rely on a data strategy. Provide key insights into a brand’s target audience and what you were trying to accomplish and how data intelligence informed the campaign.

Make sure to tie results back to campaign objectives … because if you don’t, it will leave the judges wondering if you actually achieved a meaningful outcome. Make sure you provide plenty of detail and use substantive quantitative terms that speak to engagement and business goals.

Yes, it’s okay to share campaign metrics, such as open and clickthrough rates, response rates, social amplification, participation rates, and such. But a winning campaign moves the needle on business success. So having some type of business result either actual or indexed help’s judges discern the extraordinary from the merely accomplished.

Use a Storyboard or Short Video to Sell the ‘Wow’ Factor in the Campaign

Finally, any top advertising award is going to require some type of “wow” innovative creative or use of technology, stunning results, or a new strategic approach (or rarely, all three). We’re storytellers so use a creative device in the award entry to help “sell” the campaign with a bit of wit.

Video today is wisest to use even expected but even a storyboard summarizing campaign highlights helps. This is your chance to tell the judges why you believe your efforts deserve an ECHO. What makes it so noteworthy among the hundreds of entries that this campaign commands to be recognized? Don’t just repeat your results … dig down deep to help judges your peers, and brand leaders among them really understand why a particular marketing achievement is so incredible.

Conclusion

So after this month, it’s onto judging rounds this fall and the ECHO awards presentation and celebration in winter (in Florida, thank you). For that reason alone, it’s a great year to earn you, your brand, your colleagues, and your clients an ANA ECHO.

As Amped-Up Ad, Data Privacy Laws Near, Self-Regulated Programs Matter More

As we prepare ourselves for federal (and state) legislation around privacy and advertising, it’s worth taking account of our own industry’s self-regulated programs — both those here at home and worldwide.

As we prepare ourselves for federal (and state) legislation around privacy and advertising, it’s worth taking account of our own industry’s self-regulated programs — both those here at home and worldwide.

Why? Because even in an age of regulation, self-regulation — and adherence to self-regulatory principles and ethics codes of business conduct — matter. One might argue that legal compliance in industry is good enough, but business reputations, brand equity and consumer trust are built on sterner stuff.

Having a code of conduct is exemplary in itself, but I’d like to address a vital component of such codes: enforcement.

Self-Regulated programs
Transparency & Accountability in Advertising Self-Regulation Matter Greatly. | Credit: Chet Dalzell

Credibility in Codes Requires Peer Review & Accountability

Behind the scenes, every day, there are dozens of professionals in our field who serve — as volunteers and as paid professionals — to monitor the ethical practice of advertisers, who devise and update the codes we adhere to, who educate companies that proactively reach out to them, who work with companies and brands that go astray to resolution, and who enforce and refer non-compliant companies to government agencies, when necessary.

They may take complaints directly from consumers, competitors and industry observers. They may employ technologies and their own eyes and ears to monitor the marketplace. They may meet regularly as volunteers as a jury to deliberate on any need for corrective action. And, usually, they have a “contact us, before we contact you” operations effect: brands and businesses can proactively ask ethics programs questions about the “right” way (by the consumer) to execute a marketing practice, so it doesn’t prompt a formal query after a mistake is made after the fact.

Importantly, credibility depends, too, on reporting publicly on outcomes — potentially to “name and shame,” but most often to work cooperatively with businesses and to serve as an industry education vehicle in the reporting of correction and the resolution process. Generally, “punitive” is when a non-cooperative company is referred to a government agency for further action. Government agencies, for their part, tend to wholeheartedly welcome any effective effort to keep the marketplace aligned with the consumer. It helps when brands and consumer interests are in sync.

Accountability Programs Deserve Our Industry’s Expertise & Ongoing Financial Support

All told, these important players in our field serve us well, even as we face what might be referred to as co-regulation (government regulation on top of self-regulation). While any potential business mishap — for example, in the handling of consumer data or the questionable content of an ad — has its own set of facts and ramifications, a demonstration of good-faith efforts to adhere to ethical business practices might be seen as a mitigating factor, even as a brand finds itself needing to take a corrective action.

Agility, flexibility and responsiveness … these are all attributes of successful self-regulation — as well as successful accountability. Effective self-regulation serves to keep pace with innovations in our field, and “point the way” for other companies, as issues arise. (The rigidity of laws rarely can accommodate such innovations.)

While industry professionals may serve as volunteers on juries and review panels — it can be fascinating to serve on such panels — there is almost always an infrastructure of programs and staffs underpinning self-regulation success. Trade associations may finance some of these efforts with membership dollars — but usually businesses can lend their own resources directly, too. It’s great to have a seat at the table.

Marketing Ethics & Self-Regulation Programs — A Partial Listing

In all likelihood, there are potentially many more codes of conduct — particularly in vertical fields (pharma, travel, non-profit, retail, etc.) — but here is a brief listing of advertising-related codes and programs that may be helpful to catalog, bookmark, research and support, with some of which I’ve had the honor to be associated:

Please feel free to use the Comments section to suggest others. And thank you to every volunteer and staff person who serves or has served in an industry accountability capacity. It makes a world of difference, with marketplace trust of advertising and advertisers being the ultimate goal.

The State of B2B Marketing in India

This fall, I enjoyed a few months of teaching at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, and learning much about Indian business and life. To get some insight into what’s going on in B2B marketing here, I tapped the brain of Sudhi Seshadri, dean and professor of marketing at MYRA School of Business, who’s been teaching B2B marketing for decades, and knows the territory. I posed six questions to him.

A conversation with Sudhi Seshari about the state of B2B marketing in India.
Sudhi Seshadri, dean and professor of marketing, MYRA School of Business, Mysore, India. | Credit: Ruth Stevens

This fall, I enjoyed a few months of teaching at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, and learning much about Indian business and life. To get some insight into what’s going on in B2B marketing here, I tapped the brain of Sudhi Seshadri, who is dean and professor of marketing at MYRA School of Business in nearby Mysore, and has a PhD from Penn State. Sudhi has been teaching B2B marketing for decades, and knows the territory. I posed six questions to him.

1. I’m told that B2B marketing is still relatively nascent in India. How would you characterize the state of B2B Marketing here?

A bit of recent history is a good place to start. Prior to the ‘90s, Indian business was severely constrained, and B2B marketing didn’t really exist. Two waves of liberalization in ‘91 and ‘96 brought immense change. Firms were free to compete, but still they didn’t evolve much beyond hierarchical conglomerates.

With the early 2000s came a new national Competition Act in 2002, along with rapid globalization and demands from a growing middle class. The Indian economy has been fast restructuring, and market forces are changing interorganizational relationships.

So, whereas B2B marketing in the West is well over a century old, in India it has really come into practice in earnest only in the last decade and a half. So B2B marketing is a young field, but one that is at an inflexion point.

2. In the U.S., marketers perennially state that their top objective is delivering leads — lead quality and lead quantity. How do Indian B2B marketers see their top objective?

Lead delivery and “feeding the funnel” are right up there. But often lead management is in the domain of sales management, rather than a marketing function.

Since markets are “thinner” here, and fewer purchasing organizations are market driven, the top issue for B2B marketing is business development through value creation. The marketing organization focuses on developing customized offerings while trying to reduce the cost to serve. Think of it like the Toyota / Lexus model. You develop separate offerings for different buyer segments. Lead delivery follows from this, but is very different for each segment.

3. Much of B2B communication has gone digital in recent years. Are you seeing the same shift in India? What seems to be working best?

Interestingly, the term “digital marketing” is commonly used in India to mean e-commerce or, in B2B’s case, e-procurement. This channel is likely to continue to grow, as exchanges multiply, regulations relax, and SMEs enter the formal sector in larger numbers.

But I think what you’re really asking about is what we usually call multi-channel marketing. The short answer is that it’s not living up to its potential. A scientific approach would try to optimize by looking at elasticities for each and divvy up the tasks among hybrid digital channels. However, we are long way from that in India.

But it will come, especially as the experimentation going on in B2C pays off and catches the attention of business marketers.

4. Are trade shows and conferences still an important part of the marketing mix?

Yes, they are. The simple economics of trade shows and events such as conferences for lead generation in early funnel stages are unmatched. The relationship building advantages are also significant.

We know that most international marketing is B2B, whatever the countries involved. India also uses B2B marketing in building exports, and these sorts of interpersonal, traditional approaches allow foreign buyers to develop trust in unique ways.

In the software industry, where marketing is directed in a large part to a developer or collaborator community, the importance of conferences cannot be understated. All the major software platforms have long been using conference-type events in their marketing mix.

5. Ironically, much of the data used by U.S. B2B marketers for prospecting and current customer marketing is generated by researchers in India. How are Indian B2B marketers using data themselves?

Prospecting from data provided by list vendors is widespread. Eventually, this will move from simple screening rules to predictive modelling.  Furthermore, the growing service-oriented industry in data analytics and marketing decision science is now spilling over to Indian customers. Rapid growth of data driven business models in India is further fueling this emerging trend.

6. What are the particular sales and marketing challenges faced by the Indian B2B community?

Let me highlight three.

As a longtime educator, I might be biased. But I think the first problem is that too few talented and trained professionals are entering the B2B marketing community. Marketing education in India is almost entirely about consumer, directed at the FMCG sector. Most MBA programs do not teach B2B, or do not have the right sequence of courses. Therefore, all the learning is done on the job, and the important B2B frameworks are not widely known and understood.

Second, integration of marketing and sales in B2B has been difficult, both at the conceptual and at the practice level. This is not entirely the fault of the B2B practitioner community. It is only recently that purchasing and sales literatures are coming together and evolving joint marketing frameworks. This lack of perspective has historically kept marketing artificially distant from sales or purchasing functions.

Third, we need collaboration between education and practice, to support centers of excellence similar to Penn State’s Institute for Studies of Business Markets, to develop research and case materials in India. The financial contribution of B2B marketing has yet to be fully recognized at the CXO table. In short, we still need to make the business case for B2B marketing in India.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Are You Ready for GDPR, Europe’s Upcoming Data Privacy Requirements?

Privacy is probably one of the least appealing topics in marketing. But this one’s a doozy. On May 25, 2018, any company that is not compliance with the European Union’s new opt-in regulations is at risk of a fine of up to 20 million euros, or 4 percent of their global topline revenue.

European UnionPrivacy is probably one of the least appealing topics in marketing. But this one’s a doozy. On May 25, 2018, any company that is not compliance with the European Union’s new opt-in regulations is at risk of a fine of up to 20 million euros, or 4 percent of their global topline revenue. Yipes! Most B2B marketers have customers worldwide. The General Data Protection Regulation is something we cannot ignore.

The interesting thing about this new regulation is, it’s not about marketing per se. They are not just focused on prospecting, like the CAN-SPAM and Do Not Call regulations in the U.S. It’s about consumer control of their data, and their comfort that it’s being protected.

Linnette J. Attai, whose consultancy PlayWell, LLC, specializes in compliance, explains that the consumer is the data “subject,” and the firm with whom he does business is the data “controller.” The controller decides how the data will be used and protected, and may be supported by a “processor,” like an agency or data services provider. The controller must be able to demonstrate that the subject has agreed to the controller’s data usage and storage plans.

The data elements likely to be at issue include a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social media, medical information, or a computer IP address.

As business sellers, we may be in somewhat better shape than our consumer marketing counterparts. First of all, an existing business relationship implies consent on the part of the customer. Furthermore, the reg requires businesses to buy only from firms who are compliant. So your existing customers are probably already hounding you to amend their contracts to include GDPR language, says Attai. And if a new contact at the existing account gets involved in the relationship, they may be covered under your existing contracts. Or you could provide the required notices, ask that person to check a box on an online form, and be done with it.

But for a “net new” account, it’s murkier. In the course of business with a new customer — for example, in your contract — you need to gather their agreement as to how you will use their information. But apparently it does not always mean that you must get GDPR compliance in advance to make cold contact with prospects. Most EU prospecting data—email and direct mail lists—already include opt-in permissions. Look for prospecting data that was opted in under GDPR specifications.

GDPR also specifies various technical elements, like security levels, auditability, cross-border data transfer, and procedures for reporting data breaches. B2B firms are going to need help determining how to comply.

One helpful resource is Pauline Murphy, managing director of 1 Stop Data Limited, in the UK. She specializes in B2B prospecting, and operates a multi-language call center in Ireland that calls into the EU and the Middle East. Alongside lead generation and data hygiene calling, she offers GDPR compliance services. Seems like a nifty solution to me, since you get both a demonstrable compliance along with an extra marketing touch, plus a chance to update your customer records and add new contact names.

So, what should we all be doing? That’s the funny thing. Since the regs are new, no one is entirely sure what exactly needs to be done. But most experts advise that you take steps, and don’t dawdle. If the regulators want to make an example of a company next May, let’s not let it be yours. Get started with http://www.eugdpr.org/ and https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr/.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

The State of B-to-B Marketing in Asia: Moving Toward Digital 

A standout in the B-to-B marketing field is David Ketchum, CEO of the demand generation agency Current Asia, and author of “Big M, little m Marketing: New Strategies for a New Asia.” David also serves as chairman of the Digital + Direct Marketing Association of Hong Kong. He kindly agreed to answer some questions based on his perspective on B-to-B developments in Asia.

David Ketchum, CEO of Current Asia
David Ketchum, CEO of Current Asia

While teaching in Hong Kong for the semester, I’ve had the chance to meet some very interesting people. A standout in the B-to-B marketing field is David Ketchum, CEO of the demand generation agency Current Asia, and author of “Big M, little m Marketing: New Strategies for a New Asia.” David also serves as chairman of the Digital + Direct Marketing Association of Hong Kong. He kindly agreed to answer some questions based on his perspective on B-to-B developments in Asia.

1. What’s the State of B-to-B Marketing in Asia These Days? 

Ketchum: B-to-B in Asia today has two contradictory dynamics in play. On the one hand, markets are driven by the deal. Whether it’s commodity supplies sourced from low-cost production countries, or professional services delivered from gleaming downtown office towers, price factors into every decision. Multiple quotes are required, often accompanied by time-consuming negotiation. That’s good governance, but it lengthens and complicates sales. The trend is accelerated by Web-based platforms, like Alibaba.com, that give buyers increased price transparency, while creating further opportunities for sellers to bid for contracts.

On the other hand, B-to-B in Asia operates within a strong tradition of family and government business relationships. These may not be considered modern and are certainly not western. But they still govern many markets and business interactions. These relationships are not necessarily corrupt, but they are often not transparent, and can involve multiple elements and interactions that make it difficult to understand the financial specifics clearly. For example, the sales arm of a property conglomerate may sell machinery to a factory that is both a tenant on their land, and a partially-owned subsidiary.

And keep in mind that Asia is not a monolith, and there’s little cross-border consistency. For example, B-to-B in China is influenced by government policy and macroeconomic factors. In Taiwan and South Korea, the environment is more liberal and western-minded. Hong Kong and Singapore have relatively small local economies, but serve as massive, influential hubs. Japan has a large self-contained market with its own complexities, in addition to being a major exporter.

2. What Are the Particular Sales and Marketing Challenges Faced by Asian B-to-B Companies? 

Ketchum: One headache for B-to-B companies in Asia can be the lack of scale. The headline numbers for regional economic growth, infrastructure development and transactions are large in the aggregate, but made up of many small deals. It takes time to find, negotiate and service many accounts. That puts pressure on margins.

In China, the potential addressable market is enormous, but current PRC (People’s Republic of China) policy promotes sales between PRC businesses, and that can diminish the opportunity for multinationals and exporters.

The many languages and legal structures across the region make it difficult to get cross-border synergies. Finally, the lack of transparency I mentioned can be a challenge. Many deals happen without an RFP, and if you are not personally connected, you risk missing opportunities.

Privacy or Trade Barrier? Searching for a New ‘Safe Harbor’

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that the European Union-United States “Safe Harbor” Agreement, which allowed collection of E.U. citizen data by U.S. entities because the two governments had analogous levels of privacy protection, is no longer valid.

First, there is no legal advice in this blog post (there never is) … just a little bit of reporting.

The Court of Justice of the European Union on October 6 ruled that the European Union-United States “Safe Harbor” Agreement, operating since 2000, was no longer valid. The “Safe Harbor” had enabled cross-border data flows regarding EU citizens to the United States because the U.S. was deemed to have inadequate privacy protections under the EU Data Protection Directive of 1995 (which took effect in 1998). The “Safe Harbor” provided needed protection cover. That is no longer the case.

In its decision, the Court also ruled that individual data protection authorities in 28 EU member states have new powers to deem any cross-border data transfer mechanism as non-EU regulation compliant — even if the European Commission may feel otherwise.

According to a recent Webinar (October 9), the nullification of the Safe Harbor affects more than 4,000 U.S. companies alone that have relied on it. While the Court reportedly wants data to continue to flow between the world’s two largest markets, it sees an immediate need for a new level set of privacy protection in the United States, and is committed to providing guidance as soon as possible as to how such protections can be afforded and data flows and data processing reinstated. The rub is not with U.S. companies per se – the trouble originates with U.S. government surveillance and law enforcement agencies in the wake of Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations.

As one Professor wrote:
The Court reiterates even more clearly that mass surveillance is inherently a problem, regardless of the safeguards in place to limit its abuse. Indeed, as noted already, the Court ruled that mass surveillance of the content of communications breaches the essence of the right to privacy and so cannot be justified at all. (Surveillance of content which is targeted on suspected criminal activities or security threats is clearly justifiable, however).
—A
rs Technica, Oct. 15, 2015

In the wake of the decision, privacy advocates reportedly have given three months for a new U.S. and EU “Safe Harbor 2.0” agreement. Otherwise, they will seek coordinated action by EU data protection commissioners against individual companies operating under the previous Safe Harbor, which again is immediately invalid. Alternatively, businesses are left to model contract clauses or binding agreements with national data protection authorities — not challenged by the court’s decision — to maintain (where present) or reinstate (where newly concluded) personal data flows outside the EU. Risk assessors must be busy.

U.S. and European governments have been working on a new Safe Harbor 2.0 for at least two years, according to Andrea Glorioso, counselor, digital economy/cyber, Delegation of the European Union to the United States. No one is certain when such a revised Safe Harbor agreement may be finalized, but, given the ramifications of the EU court’s decision, it’s in no one’s interest to let this carry on for long.

And a little bit of opinion: Mass surveillance by government and law enforcement — to combat crime and terrorism, for example — and responsible data collection and use by the private sector in the pursuit of economic growth are not the same subject, and should not be linked. Let’s hope a new Safe Harbor will differentiate the two — and not just for Europeans. It’s not as if American citizens are free from worry about what European governments may be up to, and that’s a concern that extends inside our own borders, too.

Irrational Customers and 2013’s Tip Top Marketing Campaign

Exhale, just landed from a jam-packed Direct Marketing Association DMA13 conference … You have to hand it to New Zealanders. For two years’ running, that nation’s marketing practitioners have nailed a Diamond ECHO from the Direct Marketing Association’s International ECHO Awards, which were presented last week during DMA13, the association’s annual conference in Chicago.

Exhale, just landed from a jam-packed Direct Marketing Association DMA13 conference

New Zealanders are Diamond
You have to hand it to New Zealanders. For two years’ running, that nation’s marketing practitioners have nailed a Diamond ECHO from the Direct Marketing Association’s International ECHO Awards, which were presented last week during DMA13, the association’s annual conference in Chicago.

This year’s top data-driven marketing campaign in the world was for ice cream maker Tip Top (Fonterra Brands Ltd), in a campaign created by Colenso BBDO/Proximity New Zealand called “Feel Tip Top.” According to the ECHO Award entry:

A 75-year-old local ice cream brand in New Zealand aimed to regain relevance and brand momentum using customer experience. New Zealanders flocked to Facebook for the opportunity to nominate friends, family members or colleagues to receive a personally addressed, hand-delivered ice cream. By encouraging folks to ‘feel tip-top’ and indulge in a sweet treat and fond memory with friends, Tip Top highlighted new flavors and sub-brands, exceeded its nomination goal by more than fifteen-fold, and turned around a 17.6 percent decline into 16.7 percent growth across all categories.

I guess I ought to “like” Tip Top on Facebook.

Solidifying DMA’s Books
During the Annual Business Meeting of the association, it was announced that DMA has streamlined and simplified its annual dues structure into six tiers—from less than $800 on the low end (startups, consultants and the like) up to $75,000 for US and global direct marketing leaders. DMA generated $22.5 million in revenue last year, compared to $20.7 million in expenses.

While at the Annual Business Meeting, President & CEO Linda Woolley spoke to the recently approved Strategic Plan of the association, where she reported advocacy, networking and compliance services are the three areas of focus for association activity in the year ahead. DMA recently (in late May) launched a DMA Litigation Center, which will look to help businesses cope with privacy litigation, and to fight patent abuse, among other legal issues. Outgoing DMA Chairman Matt Blumberg, CEO & chairman of ReturnPath, also announced that the new DMA Chairman for 2013-2015 (a two-year term) is Alliant President & CEO JoAnne Monfradi Dunn (congratulations to my client), who told members she plans to serve as an ambassador between DMA’s management and its members.

(Ir)rational Consumers
Dan Ariely, in a keynote session sponsored by The Wilde Agency, gave case after case where consumers were seen to act irrationally, and that marketers can influence outcomes (and response) markedly by designing and testing creative offers and incentives. One of my favorites was the offer by The Economist (I’m an avid reader) where potential subscribers were offered $125 for the print magazine, and $59 for an online-only magazine, and the online-only offer won. But when a third option was added—$125 for both the print & online magazine—that option was the clear winner.

When an insurance company wanted to sell life insurance policies, and try to convince persons to upgrade, it tried repeatedly to sell in copy the benefits of more coverage—but with little access. When it decided to include a chart that clearly showed the higher amounts of coverage available—that the consumer was foregoing at his or her existing amount of coverage—well, it resulted in a 500 percent lift. My takeaways: always test, find a clever way to visualize data and offers, and always expect the irrational as much as the rational. “Standards Economics are not the same as Behavioral Economics,” he said. Indeed.

Well, that was just from two page of notes from the conference—I’m still dissecting a dozen more sessions. I have to say, this was the first conference in many years where I was accompanied by a “newbie,” a practitioner on the brand side making her first DMA appearance. She had a lot to complain about—there were way too many great sessions on offer at the same time, and we tag-teamed a bit to cover them simultaneously where we could. I think next year, she’ll be bringing some of her colleagues.

Mark your calendar for San Diego for the last week of October 2014.

Don’t Talk to Me. I’m in ‘Stealth Mode.’

I recently returned from a two-week trek in Nepal. While we spent most of our time in the remote Upper Mustang region of the country, cut off from electricity, clean water and the Internet, I did spend several days in Kathmandu. And I left with a few wonderful marketing lessons—some good and some not so good. Hopefully you’ll be able to recognize and leverage the good ones 

I recently returned from a two-week trek in Nepal. While we spent most of our time in the remote Upper Mustang region of the country, cut off from electricity, clean water and the Internet (everyone should experience this “get-away-from-it-all” experience!), I did spend several days in Kathmandu. And I left with a few wonderful marketing lessons—some good and some not so good. Hopefully you’ll be able to recognize and leverage the good ones.

Appeal to All the Senses
Even though the streets were filled with vendors hawking identical wares, each seemed to find a unique way to position their product to try and attract tourists. “Dear Human, Just feel me,” begged one handwritten sign clipped to a collection of knitted scarves. Naturally I stopped and reached out to stroke their silken fibers, only to be accosted by the shopkeeper who tried to lure me inside to see the hundreds of other choices he had to offer.

Is That USDA Endorsed?
As we strolled down one alleyway, we passed several shops where owners were cutting meat … on a table … in the open … next to every car, motorcycle, rickshaw or pedestrian who passed by within inches. Since we knew they weren’t dicing up cattle, we assumed it might be goat. But since it wasn’t labeled, we had no idea. All we knew is we were instant vegetarians.

The Only Sign That Mattered
The Nepalese drink a lot of tea, and I did come to enjoy Marsala Milky Tea, so I’m not complaining. But while wandering the streets one day, we came across a very small illy sign on the window of a restaurant that was closed. Peering inside we saw a glorious site—an Italian espresso machine! I just about wept out loud. We quickly noted that they opened at 7am and set our alarm clocks accordingly, racing to the door to taste that first sip of café latte heaven, and we were not disappointed. After returning home, I quickly visited the illy website, posted on their Facebook page and became a huge fan. I now know what I’ll be asking Santa for this year.

Penguins Unite!
Two days after our illy sighting, we discovered the hotel next to ours also boasted an illy sign. (Although it was so small we had missed it, despite passing by the hotel at least two dozen times!) We rallied a few other trekkers to join us for our morning habit and we entered The Royal Penguin Restaurant. After placing our order we noticed a multi-page, spiral-bound tent card on the table with the headline “Staff sociability.” Curious, the copy read as follows (this is verbatim):

We launched a new service in our restaurant. You can choose the intensity of staff communication.

The options are:

  1. High sociability—the staff will be delighted to maintain a conversation on any topic, to make a joke or to share some interesting news with you.
  2. Medium sociability—the staff will be happy to discuss any details of your order or answer your questions without raising any other subjects.
  3. ‘Stealth mode’—the staff will provide brief answers in a friendly manner, but will never speak to you first.

To make the service work, you will have to choose the option from this banner.

I kid you not.

Then, you can flip over the various pages to select your sociability mode, and place the tent card where the server can see it. Being Smart Alec’s, we chose ‘High Staff Sociability’ and placed it prominently on our table, anxiously awaiting the outcome.

About five minutes later, the server, a local girl of about 25, arrived with our coffee drinks and carefully placed them in front of each of us. We smiled at her gratefully and looked at her with a smile to indicate our willingness to engage in a conversation. She said nothing.

“We’d like to hear a joke,” someone prompted.

She stared at us, clearly not understanding.

We pointed to the sociability tent card and gleefully pointed out our desire to engage in “High Staff Sociability.” She shook her head, not comprehending what we were saying or doing, shrugged and moved on to the next table.

Disappointed, we returned to our lattes. Clearly this was an interesting sales and marketing ploy gone completely awry.

The only good thing to come out of my marketing observations in Kathmandu is the tent card, now prominently displayed on my desk. Too bad my staff can’t seem to follow the guidelines either, as my ‘Stealth Mode’ has been repeatedly ignored. Damn penguins.