Monday, August 28, 2006

Being a hero at Dell?

Just back from a very relaxing week, I wanted to give you a quick heads-up on this interesting "Dark Days at Dell" Business Week article. It reinforces our analysis that something geared reverse to customer satisfaction was happening, infringing many Marketing 2.0 basic rules. Refer to Marketing 2.0 mistakes: Dell and AOL in turmoil and Don't you ever get Dell'd! chapter 2 if you missed the previous posts about it.

One major statement from Dell's CEO Kevin Rollins gave me the clue I was looking for: "Being a hero at Dell means saving money." did he say to Business Week back in 2003. If that is all it takes to be a hero and if this is the critical mission coming from your CEO, you bet customer satisfaction can only go South. Despite spending $115M to improve customer service, you can read further details in the article, nothing to me will really change at Dell before a probable new CEO states: "Being a hero at Dell means overwhelming customers expectations."

After all, one of the main ingredient in Michael Dell's original recipe for success was about highly considering customers and their desire for PCs, providing valuable guidance and relevant customized offers vs competition always considering PC buyers as dummies with over priced and over featured packages.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Take care of Marketing 2.0 for a week

Fellow marketers, I'll be away from computers and the Internet for a week and I will be taking no marketing books with me - yes I can leave without it ;-)

So I'm leaving this blog for you to take care of Marketing 2.0 while I'm enjoying some sun in the real world. I'm sure this week will look a lot like the previous ones, populated with delightful news that you can echo here. Feel free to post your comments, I'll react upon my return.

Have fun.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Marketing 2.0 mistakes: Dell and AOL in turmoil

I could not resist to highlight the Dell exploding batteries sequel. As probably most of you could not miss, Dell has decided to recall 4.1 Millions of its products, at Sony's expense though. As we discussed here previously, the consequences of such a flaw could be devastating. Imagine a poor Dell customer working on a plane...

Such things are of course scary, but what did scare me as a marketer, was the way Dell initially ignored it from a Marketing 2.0 perspective. They finally posted something very "corporate" about it on July 13, see here. While they were launching a corporate blog Direct2Dell, to supposedly let directly their customers discuss their product experience, Dell demonstrated how not genuine consumer generated content can ruin a reputation and in the end generate more negative buzz than if nothing had been attempted. You'll see, if you follow the Direct2Dell link, that now this flaming battery episode is all over their corporate blog (we are mid August!).

This could not happen at a worse time for Dell, which reputation and stock is under pressure as highlights eWeek. As Dell Q2 results just have been released, reported by AP as "Dell Posts Disappointing 2Q Amid Probe", let's see how this computer giant can overcome this difficult time. To be continued...

Another poor hero of our Marketing 2.0 series is AOL - read here. I'm not chasing bad news, believe me, but AOL just happen to make another giant step in making sure their customers will walk away: their research division revealed a list of about 658,000 users and the Web searches they made. USA Today is asking today :"Could the end be near for America Online?", and this is only the start of a new negative buzz.

Well fellow marketers, let's hope there's a way out of ignoring Marketing 2.0 or Marketing 2.0 beginners mistakes. After all, this is part of our job as well. And don't take me wrong, I wish Dell and AOL to recover quickly.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Web 2.0 brands: half U.S. Top 10 fastest growing web brands

Back in Paris, I'm writing this new post from the just released Windows Live Writer, beta version, released on Sunday by Microsoft. Though I'm blogging on blogger, I'm able to retrieve posts and create draft and hopefully publish - I'll discover this in a minute when I'll hit the Publish button ;-)

I wanted to share with you that Nielsen//NetRatings just issued this very interesting press release on 08/10, stating that "user-generated content sites (platforms for photo sharing, video sharing and blogging) drives half of U.S. Top 10 fastest growing brands". The basis for Nielsen to rank them is based on the unique audience growth Year-over-Year. The lucky winners are ImageShack,, Flickr, MySpace, and Wikipedia.

Of course it means a lot in terms of eye balls but also in terms of stickiness - read the press release for details about average spent time per person.

The consequences for us marketers is first and foremost an additional evidence that Marketing 2.0 is on its way big time. But it also has a huge impact on our decision about our budget spend. forecasts that US Online Social Network Ad Spending will surge from $280M in 2006 to $1,860M in 2010. When we know that online advertising represents an average of 26% of our total marketing spend, it also implies massive changes in our marketing mix in the future.

Finally, we should realize that none of these Web 2.0 brands existed a few months ago and they now challenge solid incumbents. Remain to be seen how they will monetize these extremely rapid growing audiences. But didn't we have similar questions about a rising star: Google?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Marketing 2.0: giving up control to gain control ?

Fellow Marketers, I'm taking a break in South of France in a very nice region close to Toulouse. If you've never been here, I encourage you to plan for a trip here: great landscape, great people, and great food. Plan for it, trust me! As a matter of fact, I won't be blogging that much this week.

Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you some news on the advertising front: McKinsey Study Predicts Continuing Decline in TV Selling Power. In a nutshell, we have to face the continuing declining of buying power of this traditional way of advertising combined with the rising influence of empowered consumers expressing their relationship with your brand, live. At the same time, this report highlights that our real ad spending on prime-time broadcast TV has increased over the last decade by about 40% even as viewers have dropped almost 50%.

The natural reaction to this would be for us to shift budget to on-line marketing techniques, right? In fact given the budget size to shift, we would not have enough on-line ad space to buy. This is an additional sign that Marketing 2.0 is underway. CMO's should rather look for ways to engage with customers in a transparent dialogue with their brand and co-market with them. Same old, same old for those of you who are familiar with Marketing 2.0 by now. Take a look at what Customer Interaction Management (CIM) and Customer Information Hub (CIH) can do for your salesforce, it's a good lead for your spending shift.

Take a look at this article as well about How the Open Source Revolution Impacts Your Brands if you have some time. The conclusion about controlling the marketing message is litterally the question we're debating about here: "The No. 1 lesson of the Internet," says Jeff Jarvis, "whether you're Howard Dean or a media company or a marketer, is that you have to give up control to gain control." The "How" is at the core of what Marketing 2.0 is about and should define.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

AOL: free might be the answer to avoid getting Dell'd

Another big brand is jumping in the Free is good for our marketing syndrome. Time Warner (TWX) just announced yesterday that AOL will offer its e-mail and web services for free. The goal is to move heavily to a pure advertising revenue and stop the subscribers churn: they've been loosing 30% of their 26.7 million U.S. customers from Sept 2002, now down to 18.6 million. AOL expects to save more than $1B in marketing costs by the end of 2007 in doing so, placing their bet on the recent surge of advertising revenue - 40% up in one year to $449M. AOL is also risking its dial-up subscribers business, representing 80% of their income, which was $2B in the last quarter alone.

What are they doing to retain these customers?
Given the impressive churn rate AOL is suffering, I asked myself if AOL was not getting Dell'd as well. Not to mention of course that dial-up Internet access is not geared to expand in the future but they offer high-speed access.
Well, you know me by now, me writing this post is a strong indication that the answer is probably close to a YES. Here is an interesting experience of Vinny trying to cancel his AOL dial-up account. Do yourself a favor and have a good smile on your face, listen to Vinny's recorded phone conversation with the AOL representative when trying to cancel. It is just amazing. The Consumerist then posted the apparently real AOL retention manual, a strong indication that what Vinnie recorded is not at all isolated. And of course bloggers started to buzz about it.

What is AOL answer to this negative buzz: FREE. We will give you more for free so you don't go away or even better, you'll subscribe to AOL as your boradband ISP.
Once the Internet king and now stumbling, AOL is to me a very good candidate to get Dell'd. I'd be curious to read about your Get Dell'd brand candidate list and stories about it. Feel free to post it here.