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Monthly Archives: February 2010


Okay...It's Finally 2010...Now What?

Posted on February 25, 2010 by dmorgan

Unfortunately last year many business’s pulled back on their marketing and advertising efforts. “Well, something had to give”, a business owner told me. Unfortunately, marketing initiatives may have been the last thing he wanted to pull in a bad economy. Study after study has shown that during down times, the companies that continued marketing came back to “the black” quicker and stronger than those who pulled the blanket over their heads and waited for the storm to pass. However, money is money….and when you don’t have it….or want to keep what you have as much as possible, you try to focus on the most effective method for creating 'awareness' without breaking the bank. Many of our clients are saying their objective this year is to create awareness of their company and product and grow the business.

“All I need is a new brochure!” my business friend cries. But that approach is tactical. A new web site, a couple of print pieces, maybe a new logo—those are only tactics that need to be driven by a strategy—a marketing plan—and that plan HAS to be driven by brand. Without brand strategy, his brochure is just a waste of a good tree.

It’s all about the brand. At Force 5, we believe that to increase awareness and business, it’s essential to establish a powerful and consistent brand image.

So why is brand development so important, and why now? Brand development is an investment - a proven investment. A good brand sets you apart from the crowd. Your brand is your evidence of distinction, what makes you different and unique from your competitors. Without distinction, you’re just another vendor, brand X. Without distinction, you could be just a commodity. And we all know how commodities are traded—price-the lowest price. When price is the only measurement of value of your company or product-you lose. If you are fighting in the trenches with only the lowest price, you are fighting everyone in the marketplace. And in today’s economy, when everyone is looking to get back on track—the low price game is being played hard.

However, when you have distinction, a proven and defensible brand, you rise above the fray. You can command higher prices, you are a leader.

A good brand means equity –true value to the company. There are examples of proven brand equity on a national and local scale. Coca Cola is ranked number one on Interbrands top 100 global brands of 2009, a spot they've held for nine consecutive years, and their brand alone accounts for 51% of the company's stock market value. That’s millions and millions of dollars. What would it cost you to buy the name Coca Cola—not the plants, not the product—just the name??…That’s brand equity.

Your brand differentiation carries more weight today than ever before.

Fortunately, no matter how young or old your business is, you can still bring your brand to life. You can help an existing brand evolve or you can develop strategies to re-establish your brand.

At Force 5, we ask our clients—Who are you, What do you do, and Why does it matter? On the surface, these are easy questions, but sometimes tough to answer…

Our brand discovery process, called “Soul Searching,” provides the perfect insight into a company’s distinction. When we facilitate a session, we recruit the CEO, VP marketing, marketing managers, sales managers, folks from operations and sales people with the clear pulse on the buyer. We spend hours in a process of distilling information. From simple facts, to identifying unique value propositions, we build in a delivery mechanism by empowerment and incentives like training, technology or new customer service guidelines to assure that the newly created brand distinction is delivered constantly and consistently. The outcome is the foundation for the new or revisited brand strategy and a crystal clear and memorable internal and external brand communication. Why involve the CEO? Because brand development is not a marketing initiative, it is a corporate initiative. It must start at the top, and permeate from the President down to each and every worker. When everyone has shared in the authorship of your brand’s unique distinction, then it becomes the foundation of all production, marketing and sales initiatives.

So, It’s 2010---What’s your brand?


Adobe's Flash In The Pan?

Posted on February 15, 2010 by nmcelwrath

Adobe's Flash has had a successful run the past few years. While the latest usage statistics show a slight decline, it still employs an impressive 95.89% browser install base as of Jan, 2010.

Some concerns have been raised lately with Apple's decision not to include Flash support in it's newly announced iPad (which runs a modified version of the iPhone OS). It's been known that Apple's iPhone does not support Flash. Apple blames Adobe's buggy implementation of the Flash plugin as one of many reasons, causing poor battery life, security holes, application crashes, etc. While this is nothing new, the spotlight has again been focused on the lack of Flash on the iPhone OS.

Other reasons for Apple skipping Flash support that I think are much more important are HTML5 and the open standard of SVG.

One of the many critiques of Flash is that it is not an open standard. Many, including myself, believe closed platforms tend to stifle innovation and prohibit standard adoption - this, coming from a Flash developer. Also, the Flash plugin has long been sub par in performance on the Macintosh platform - but Adobe is finally taking small steps to remedy these issues. Is it too late?

In order for the web to move forward with a common standard and new innovative tools at hand for developers to use to create the next big thing, we NEED open standards. Period.

Adobe has an opportunity here to develop an HTML5 and SVG authoring tool, waiting to supplant Flash when it does eventually fade away along with proprietary video codecs and browser plugins.

As for myself, I welcome new venues and technologies to learn, as long as they allow for innovation, freedom and creativity in not only the resulted medium, but development as well. The next few years will be the litmus test for Flash in whether it has a place on the web or not. I believe strongly that openness on the web is the future and if a proprietary plugin expects to make the cut, some changes need to be made.

Robert Scoble has a good analogy:

Let’s go back a few years to when Firefox was just coming on the scene. Remember that? I remember that it didn’t work with a ton of websites. Things like banks, e-commerce sites, and others. Why not? Because those sites were coded specifically for the dominant Internet Explorer back then.

Some people thought Firefox was going to fail because of these broken links. Just like Adobe is trying to say that Apple’s iPad is going to fail because of its own set of broken links.

But just a few years later and have you seen a site that doesn’t work on Firefox? I haven’t.

What happened? Firefox FORCED developers to get on board with the standards-based web.

The same thing is happening now, based on my talks with developers: they are not including Flash in their future web plans any longer.

Adobe's CTO, Kevin Lynch tackles this very topic in his blog post.

Admittedly, I would be sad to see Flash go. I love the control you have over your assets. As of right now, there really is no open alternative to that kind of control. jQuery and other JS libraries are just not there yet - but there is much promise. Combine jQuery with HTML5, SVG and time - you just may have a Flash killer.


Top 5 marketing waves you should ride in 2010

Posted on February 8, 2010 by force5

If you’re a marketer in any capacity and you’re reading this post then I’m 99.9% sure you’ve also read about, or thought about, or discussed some sort of Top 10 list – goals, trends, etc. – for marketing in 2010.  Around the New Year this topic is often fodder for bloggers, trade publications, and the like.  Now that the dust is beginning to settle, and we’re approaching mid February, I’d like to throw my weight around regarding this matter. 

So, in the spirit of Force 5, (which we all know – as indicated by the Beaufort Wind Force Scale – is also a wind speed of 17 to 21 knots and considered most favorable by avid sailors) I’d like to talk about the Top 5 marketing waves you should ride in 2010. 

  1. Social Media:  Don’t ignore it – embrace it – because it’s here to stay.  Consider last nights’ Super Bowl as evidence.  The game is no longer just a three hour advertising window.  Jon Swallen of TNS Media Intelligence states, “It’s now a 3 to 5 week advertising event, with brands focusing on the period leading up to the game, and the period after to do social media marketing.”  Even if you’re not a fan of Denny’s screaming chickens, consider this – in a poll conducted online this month by Harris Interactive “nearly half (48%) of online US adults who watch Super Bowl ads say they will somewhat likely discuss the ads on a social networking site.”  Regardless of scale, and if you haven’t already, you must figure out how to incorporate social media into your marketing mix.   
  2. Mobile:  We talk about it often in our shop – the idea that mobile marketing is about to blow up (in a very good way).  I completely agree with Joe Marchese, President of SocialVibe, when he says, “Mobile will be huge, especially if marketers can build digital campaigns with mobile extensions.  Phones are smarter, networks are faster, and open development is leading to faster innovation.”  Together, these inconceivable truths will prove blissful to direct marketers who have been optimistically yearning for this day to come.  Imagine what lies ahead with geo-targeted marketing now upon us.  Read what else Joe had to say.
  3. Customized/Exclusive Content:  See Mobile (above).  Exclusive offers and customized content, all at your finger tips!  But remember, customization and exclusivity can also be delivered via other channels.  It’s all about using everything in your marketing tool box to make your customers feel special.     
  4. Integration:  Denny’s Super Bowl ads aimed to drive people online to their website, then Facebook.  This is one example of how traditional, outbound marketing tactics can be integrated with inbound tactics (web/SEO, social media) for a greater ROI.  The down economy has forced marketers to be more creative with budgets, but in hindsight it’s also made us better marketers.  So, integrate your campaigns – if you’re not sure how, askCheck out Denny’s efforts.
  5. Measurement/Analytics:  See Integration (above).  If you’re executing integrated campaigns – and you should – then you’ll need to be able to measure them as well.  The catch phrase more and more marketers are becoming familiar with is cross-channel analytics.  Those who can navigate this analytical approach will come out on top – big time.   

Over the next several months, I will report back with updates, findings, and such about the 5 waves we should all be riding.  So if you’re interested, stay tuned and happy sailing.  `J