A great example is this week’s very clever marketing campaign – a combined effort from Getty Images’ iStock online stock photo business and Twentieth Century Fox, promoting its new movie ‘Unfinished Business‘. An email was sent out to iStock members this week offering a set of free stock images (we got the email here at Explore):
In case you didn’t get the memo, you’ve got the green light to download your free #UnfinishedBusiness stock images.
Yes, they are a set of those really clichéd corporate images that come up time and time again when you go searching for that perfect photo to illustrate ‘teamwork’, ‘productivity’, or some other business concept or value you are trying to portray. The only difference is that these photos feature Vince Vaughan and the rest of the cast of a big Hollywood comedy.
While it’s clever, it works more in favour of Fox than iStock. ‘Unfinished Business’ looks like it’s poking fun at the world of business clichés and business-speak – so corporate stock photos are a perfect butt for the movie’s jokes. Still, it’s a great piece of exposure for iStock, and will probably attract a whole new bunch of members.
However, the most effective ‘making fun of yourself’ marketing effort recently has to be ‘This is a Generic Brand Video‘ from dissolve.com last year, inspired by a parody piece from Kendra East in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. In marketing, we’ve all seen these videos (and probably been responsible for making a few) – but the video is a perfect showreel for the dissolve.com’s business – selling stock video clips. In fact, links to license the clips featured in the video are conveniently included at the bottom of the page!
Photo at top used in accordance with iStock’s Editorial Use Only licence.
Something odd happened today. I received a Christmas message from a marketing agency and it caught my attention. There was nothing particularly striking about the email; the design was not overly creative– a cut out Christmas tree and simple little blinking star animation – and the message was a generic ‘wishing you and your family …’.
What stood out was the sender. I looked at the name, which was quite distinctive, and thought, ‘I’m sure I’ve been receiving emails from this guy for years, and never really paid any attention’. My email management is poor to say the least and, when I searched back in my email archive, I found a handful of emails that I hadn’t deleted from this marketing agency going back to 2007 – seven years!
I know nothing about the agency, I have no idea how I ended up on its mailing list, and for some reason I have never asked to be removed. Maybe the frequency of emails was so unobtrusive that it was easier to ignore them or, subconsciously, maybe there was some reason for me to do nothing and let the emails keep coming.
Would you class this as a successful marketing approach? There are two schools of thought on this one.
On the one hand, you could consider it a monumental waste of effort. At least seven years’ worth of e-marketing for not a single response – no emails opened or read and no click throughs from me. Sure, it’s a volume approach so the individual cost and effort is minimal. Let’s say my email address was acquired in the first place – a few cents at the most – then the ongoing cost per email sent, which again, probably amounts to just a few cents. Add it all up and, over the years, this marketing agency has probably spent just a few dollars in marketing to me. At some point though, wouldn’t you take a look at your database, and decide that after seven years of zero response, maybe it’s time to quietly delete my email address and move on?
On the other hand, you could argue that with perseverance, the marketing agency has finally achieved some cut-through, albeit in a perverse way. I’m finally taking notice! For a minimal marketing cost and effort, time and weight of numbers has worked. Who knows, after the next email I receive, maybe I’ll pick up the phone and talk to them.
The truth is, I would never use this agency, let alone talk to them. Why not? It’s lazy marketing. There is no attempt to understand what I need or if I am even the right target audience. It’s just a numbers game for the agency – there is no analysis of the success of its approach in marketing to me.
And a Christmas message? I don’t know who you are, because you have never bothered to engage with me in any meaningful way. Sure, send me through ‘useful’ advice on ‘Expanding the Reach of your Email Marketing with Social Networking’ or ‘Targeting Potential Customers for Better Marketing Results’ (I went back and read the agency’s old email subject lines) – but don’t make out we have a personal connection if you’ve never bothered to create one.
I think I am finally going to hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button.
On a brighter note, I’d like to wish all Explore Communications’ past, present and future clients and their families a very merry Christmas and happy New Year!
(Pictured above: “Patrick Stewart as Scrooge”, By Tnarik Innael, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.)
Up until last week I was running Creative Suite 6, which I had bought for $2000 in July 2012. And I know I paid that much, because I looked it up in 10 seconds on my cloud-based accounting software program, Saasu.
Adobe’s announcement in May 2013 that it was replacing CS6 with ‘Creative Cloud’ wasn’t just the nail in my coffin of obsolescence – it was my $2K boxed product rolling down the tracks through the crematorium’s furnace doors. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust …
Heavily laboured analogies aside, my investment in the Adobe CS6 boxed product was doomed the moment I paid for it. Under Adobe’s yearly release cycle, CS7 would have come out around the same time Creative Cloud was announced, and it would have been a cat and mouse game to see how long I could keep CS6 going before I’d be forced to upgrade.
So why was I so negative about Creative Cloud? Despite working in the IT industry for nearly 20 years, I’m in the generation that first bought music on vinyl. I still insist on reading novels as a book not on an e-reader, I pick up the daily newspaper from the front lawn in the morning and I don’t like the concept that you never really ‘own’ the music you buy through Apple iTunes.
The catalyst to upgrade from Adobe CS6 came when I offered to take on the design work for a client’s case studies. Presented with an Adobe InDesign template that was two versions on from my CS6 application, I realised I couldn’t resist any longer.
When I checked the Adobe subscription options, I had the pleasant surprise that my previous loyalty was recognised with the opportunity to purchase (in local currency) a 12-month subscription for just $20 a month – giving me access to Adobe’s entire Creative Suite.
I emphasised ‘entire’ for good reason. In all the years I have used Adobe design software (I still remember making the decision to switch from Quark to InDesign), Adobe Premiere had always been tantalisingly out of reach. For the limited amount of video editing I do, there was never a cost justification to upgrade the Creative Suite package to include Premiere. Instead, I’ve had to make do with dodgy video editing software I’ve taken a punt on downloading via website recommendations.
Now, for just $20 a month, I can use Premiere, and a host of other apps that I’ve never heard of before that in the past would have cost me squillions but spent most of their time gathering dust in the All Programs menu.
Apart from Premiere, the most exciting thing about Creative Cloud is that now I am connected into Adobe’s continuous upgrade cycle, and I can immediately take advantage of innovative new products. For example, I just read that notepad manufacturer Moleskine has collaborated with Adobe to launch Moleskine Smart Notebook, which connects directly to Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications.
And I no longer need to go through the ‘which version are you running’ preliminaries when sending Adobe files. The last of us CS6 luddites are being prised away from the beautifully-packaged software boxes we’ve been clinging to, limpet-like.
It shouldn’t really be a surprise to me. Just about everything else Explore Communications uses is in the cloud (like my ironic reference to Saasu above). I think the last boxed product I’m using is Microsoft Office, but it’s time will come sooner than later …
That said, I can’t see myself switching to e-books, ever.