5 Marketing Lessons from HBO’s Silicon Valley

(Warning: Spoilers)

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HBO’s Silicon Valley is a hilarious hit show that may, or may not, represent the real Silicon Valley. It just grabbed 11 nominations for the upcoming Emmy awards. It is no doubt great TV, however, within the show, there are real marketing lessons.

1) Be customer-centric not product-centric

Many innovators believe their products will sell themselves. A “build it and they will come” mind set. Most of the time this is not true.

Pied Piper created revolutionary compression software. However, it’s incredibly complex, hard to integrate, and all the work is behind the scenes and not visible to the consumer (Gourville, 2006).

2) Have Vision

Every company needs to be able to explain their product effectively and efficiently. It is important to provide an easily understood picture of your brand and demonstrate value to the customer (Gupta, 2014).

Throughout the series Pied Piper and Hoolie have trouble articulating the product to anyone who is not an engineer. They don’t have a good vision for the product they want to create, just the technical background specs.

3) Have a targeted marketing strategy

Michael Porter defines strategy as: “the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities.” A good strategic position meets the needs of a targeted group of people.

Pied Piper doesn’t have a specific type of product offering, or demographic to sell to. Richard wants to serve all the needs of everyone. This is too broad, and is ultimately unsuccessful. Many of the problems they face with launching their company could be fixed with a targeted strategy (Porter, 1996).

4) Listen to Market Research

Unbiased, thorough, and strategic market research can help a firm segment their potential customers, and tailor their products to customer needs to create value (Dolan & John, 2015).

Pied Piper and Hoolie constantly believe their products are perfect. All of their market research (the little they do) tells them their products are too complicated, not user friendly, or not working properly, yet they don’t listen. Pied Piper sends their beta to only engineers, who love it, but the first few end customers that try it, are turned off.

5) Don’t Cheat

Just don’t.

 

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Work Cited:

Dolan, R., & John, L. (2015). Marketing Intelligence. Harvard Business Publishing.

Gourville, J. (2006). Note of Innovation Diffusion: Rogers’ Five Factors. Harvard Business School, 2.

Gupta, S. (2014). Creating Customer Value. Harvard Business Publishing.

Porter, M. (1996). What Is Strategy. Harvard Business Review.

 

FLASH! PETA SHUTS DOWN POKEMON GO EVENTS IN PORTLAND, OREGON!

Pokemon Go BallThe controversial organization, PETA (Protection for Equivalent Theoretical Animals), has managed to rally citizen support to protest and block several Pokémon Go events scheduled in Portland, Oregon, on the basis that monsters qualify as “theoretical animals” and that Seekers, in pursuit of points, status and otherwise basic irrational and illogical storytelling opportunities, will resort to irrational, illogical and virtual fantasy activities as they prey on innocent virtual creatures unable to defend themselves.

LET OUR POKEMON GO GO!   jail pokemon

Signs of Pokémon Go monsters contained in squalid cages and fed items with virtually no substance are popping up everywhere. Worse, in a demonstration of how low seekers will fall, “monster-fights” reminiscent of the dog fights that got old basketball players almost arrested have been seen in the back alleys of one of America’s greatest cities.  The conditions are perceived as horrible, with poor monsters gripping bars and crying out for their families.  In a worst-case situation, a baby monster was separated from its mother before it could flee its hunters.

pokemon#2Other groups attempting to capitalize on the event have even started a “slave labor” camp for captured monsters, selling them on Craig’s List for virtual bucks.  Enslaved monsters are expected to ensure harsh working conditions while captors and seekers seduced into this unsavory world go out in pursuit of even more monsters.  It’s an awful situation as wild and carefree monsters are struck down in the middle of their natural habitat, with little time to defend themselves from the “slaying ball” that is used to swipe them away.  As one concerned citizen reported, Pokémon Go monsters are even starting to show up in  historically human red light districts.  Poor PokemonRepublicans across the country are in an uproar as questions of equality for animals and citizens’ concern for these imaginary creatures takes priority over what they have long considered to be a more important agenda while Democrats are looking to expand universal health care programs to include Pokemom Go Monster Dads, Moms and kids alike.

GETTING EVEN

As the Pokémon Go phenomenon has exponentially accelerated in the last few days, pokemon fieldreports of Seekers getting creamed is also increasing, to include (most recently) a group in Salem, Oregon that found themselves standing in the middle of Liberty Street in the front of the firehouse, trying to climb up the fireman’s pole in search of an evasive and illusive creature.  Seems that Seekers may not be using a lot “upstairs” as they look for PokeStops and through Lures out to grab yet another poor, defenseless monster.  But, the monsters are starting to get creative and gang up on Seekers.

In yet another unreported incident, four ridiculously cute monsters threw their own “lure” out to catch a few unsuspecting Seekers.  Using the guise of a broken paw, one monster lay await in a green circle as the Seekers approached.  Just as the swipe of the ball was about to happen, three other monsters ran out and jumped on top of the Seekers, scaring the bejeezus out of them, causing them to lose their phone and of course, their corresponding identity. (Anyone looking for a Samsung XII should call the local authorities).   It’s only a matter of time before massive uprisings between man and beast lead us all to lock ourselves in our shelters and wait to see who wins.

RELEASE OUR POKEMON GO!

PETA, founded by M.N Sterious, an 84 year old member of the Portland community, is dedicated to the protection of virtual reality of any form.  M.N. Sterious planned and coordinated the Portland Pokémon Go blockade using age-old wisdom combined with helpful hints from Google search engine.  Demands for a release of all caged Pokémon Go monsters must be met before the blockades are removed.   As in all things fantastical, the PETA group has staged a virtual hunger strike with hopes to gain attention of those who are oblivious to this ridiculous condition.   It certainly grasped this author’s attention!

For more information on PETA, look no further.  You won’t find anything anyway.  Meanwhile, stay OFF THE STREETS, OUT OF TREES, AWAY FROM FIREHOUSES…oh yeah – all that advice assumes people are using their heads when playing this game.  That’s where we went wrong!

Good Marketing Blogging: Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is an online marketing firm that helps firms optimize, track, and analyze their digital marketing campaigns. They also run a helpful, insightful, and popular blog covering digital marketing topics. In learning about successful digital marketing the Kissmetrics blog has been a treasure-trove of information.

I’m going to analyze one blog post that stuck out to me: How Brands Can Take Advantage of Snapchat (infographic).

The post is written by Zach Bulygo (@zachcb1), the blog manager for Kissmetrics. This blog post is a very good example of a basic informational post. Writing about the basics of a topic can be difficult, especially for someone who knows a lot about how it works. Zach combines helpful text with an excellent infographic.

The Text:

Zach starts off by defining the audience that snapchat advertising is useful for: young adults 18-24. He also lays out some basic statistics about why Snapchat is a viable digital marketing medium, and should be part of any social media portfolio. Zach also sums up an important point to end the text:

quotescover-JPG-77

 

The Infographic: 

The infographic steals the show. As a visual learner, it was pleasing, helpful, and entertaining. The infographic relays demographic information already discussed in the text, and adds more data. It gives examples of successful implementations of Snapchat from major companies such as Acura and Taco Bell. Thirdly, it gives the readers some examples of Snapchat uses: Contests, New Product Sneak Peaks, and targeted videos, among more. Finally, it sums it up with the best practices a company should undertake when starting a brand communication on Snapchat.

Critique:

My one critique of the blog post is that the infographic felt buried. It was at the bottom of the post and I had to scroll down to find it. The infographic is visually appealing and interesting. As a frequent blog reader, it is possible that I could have missed it, because the extra step of scrolling through the post is one I often don’t take. Luckily this time I did however, because I was impressed with the visual representation of the blog.

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Chasing My Dreams, Realizing My Power

3

“Why are your knees covered in mud and your heels bloody?”

“Why are you in grad school?”

“Why would you try to do that?”

“Why?”

Hi. My name is Lauren and awkward social interactions are my specialty. Like, even more so than Dory from Finding Nemo. You know, that fish who forgets she is talking to you mid sentence? Loses her family because she forgets she even has one? Yeah, even more awkward than THAT fish.

(case and point: comparing myself to an animated fish – and meaning it. Publically.)

The above questions are just some of the brutally honest questions I have been asked in the last three months. No, I’m not recently pregnant, married, or attempting to get to Rio in 2016 for the speed walking competition, either. All I am doing is working towards my MBA at Willamette University, while working full time, and training for my first half marathon.

Not even a FULL Marathon; just a half! 13.1 miles of constant motion; during which all I will be uttering in-between gasps for air is I-havent-been-fit-since-I-was-16-years-old-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking.

This is my story. Well, one of my stories. This is my story right now – as it is happening in real time – all of the mucky, defeated, determined, yes I just shit my pants a little on that last run parts of it.

If you’re on board for the honest and gritty truth of trying to do something you once was impossible, stick around. This is the story of my journey to finishing this half marathon and documenting the experiment for my Marketing class. This is the first in  a series of posts chronicling, through various digital marketing methods, my trek to the half marathon.

It’s bound to get interesting. Some people argue that is already has!

My current goal is to finish the Disneyland Half Marathon on September 4th, 2016 in under three hours.  While dressed das a fish that has a terrible short -term memory, but damn is she committed! Just. Keep. Swimming. Lauren.

Current Stats:

Motivation for my last training run:  the sheer curiosity of if my body can stay in motion for two hours straight.

Length of last training run: 2 hours 18 minutes

Song that got me through my last training run: Donald Trump, by Mac Miller

Longest continuous distance ran (to date): 4 miles

Days to Disneyland Half Marathon: 50

Socially Sorted: Hints, tips and techniques to help WIN this DMC

And we’re off!  The 2016 Willamette MBA Pro DMC (Digital Marketing Challenge) is underway with fierce competition that spans the valley and teams dedicated to becoming #1.  But, how will they do this? Read on to find out, especially if you are interested in having your post solicit others to do your work for you (after all, aren’t we earning MBAs to figure out how to optimize resources?).

Capture blog 3

Donna Moritz gives MBA Candidates a plethora of suggestions and strategies that are worth a try.  @SociallySorted, who herself has 33.2K (yes, read that THOUSAND!) Followers and 48.2K (DITTO!) Tweets, offers seven real-world and timely (in light of our Marketing Class Professor’s content) techniques for driving your market strategy directly into the line of your customer or potential reader’s eyes.

If you are a visual person (which a lot of us are), consider theCapture blog2 first tip to pin tweets to Twitter profiles.  Imagine getting twice the amount of eyes on your words with a few quick steps! Building on this strategy, a second tip is to create and post some amazingly interesting image that people just can’t resist.  Images that capture the imagination, take us to our Avatar or Pokemon Go sites are sure to encourage repeat tweets and pins.  As with other sections of this blog, @SociallySorted provides options on accomplishing this (check it out!).  One really cool aspect of these options is the brief discussion of tools that can help make pinning and tweeting even easier (Shutterstock Editor or Relay, as examples). Donna’s fifth suggestion (GOTCHA! yes, this is written out of order) expounds on optimizing images or blogs for links or posts to Facebook, again with a few options. Option 6 provides similar advice for Instagram.  Apokemon cagen interesting experience was we were writing this blog:  in an attempt to make this blog relevant and timely, thought we would inject images of the latest Pokemon Go craze to support our attempts at satire.  So, astutely, we entered “Pokemon Cages” in the search line on Google, which gave us animated images of Pokemon with Nicholas Cage’s face on them.  So, if using any of these image-based recommendations, use caution.

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MBA Candidates world around should take heed of Donna’s third tip: post your blog to your business page! In our class last night, one of our team members is a Willamette U employee and she encouraged us to use our Willamette U MBA page!  What an awesome idea that confirms Donna’s recommendation! (Have you done this yet?)  Of course, from here, it’s easy to leap to LinkedIn, Facebook and other popular sites.

For all the YouTube crazies out there, @SociallySorted includes recommendations for a short video or Facebook Live (and all this time I thought those folks were fictional!).  Too cool for those of us who still remember Super 8! (Okay, how many of you reading this know – or remember – Super 8?)  And last but not least, Suggestion Seven explain
s how to set up Twitter Cards, complete with examples of the process to help even the most luddite of us perform this task.

Donna’s siCapture pic 7te is easy and quick to read, contains a zillion (yes, I counted them – an even, round ZILLION) links and helpful step-by-step details for improving your chances of winning this competition.   Digging in, she encourages folks to use and share site content, which just made us appreciate this content further. So much for the Endowment Effect.

For those of you who are simply admiring all the chaos the competitive classes in this competition have created, one of the coolest things about Donna’s 7 Ways to Effortlessly Drive More Blog Readers with Visuals site is how encouraging it is: these tips lead you to believe even YOU can do this!

We were sure fooled into believing it!

So, have fun, check out the links, let us know your thoughts and read on for the next adventures in the 2016 WUDMC!

How to answer trolls when they’re just worried about their loved one.

There are unique challenges to marketing in health care. As a hospital, you aren’t selling a product, and many of your services are not based on traditional notions of demand. Social media marketing in health care is frequently focused on community education and outreach, which makes negative comments extra jarring. A comment about somebody’s son waiting in an emergency room for nine hours stands out starkly against a cheerful post of recommendations for managing your sodium intake this holiday season.

Ragan, a respected voice in health care PR, communications, and marketing gives some great basic tips for responding to negative comments here, but is that enough? Negative testimony speaks loudly against a service experience that many people already resent. Marketing professionals in health care have the opportunity to continue to educate—there’s a reason you may have to wait in the emergency room—as well as use the feedback to inform patient satisfaction initiatives. Indeed, some negative feedback must be addressed, to prevent a snowballing blow to community health. Visible negative comments can lead community members to delay care, or avoid trips to the hospital, which undermines the benefit of having locally available care options.

The complete guide to optimizing the content marketing lifecycle

Content Marketing has become critical for marketers. Learn how to optimize the Content Marketing Lifecycle to make your content marketing successful.

Content Marketing has become critical for marketers. Learn how to optimize the Content Marketing Lifecycle to make your content marketing successful.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: blog.scoop.it

At times process can be more important than content, however when it comes to marketing, the process of the lifecycle speaks volumes as a hot subject amongst influencers in the marketing space.

Amazon: Signaling You to Buy No Matter What the Price

imgresFor over twenty years Amazon has been losing money on every transaction but winning in volume.  The now $100 billion E-commerce giant has eliminated the list price.  For individuals not familiar with the marketing and the signaling theory let me explain.  Amazon signals to the consumer that the item is on sale because the list price is depicted as what the item should sell for in an ideal market.

READ: Amazon Is Quietly Eliminating List Prices

Let’s say you need to get a new Iphone 6 case.  After a couple minutes
searching on line you spot a Crushed Damson Purple / Pink Otterbox Defender Series 6 case with a list price of $47.76 using Amazon Prime but wait, hold on,  just for you …it is now selling for $39.77.  You think to yourself hold on I need to logon to my Amazon Prime account right now and capture this deal before it goes away.  Deep breath you captured the deal and it will be on your doorstep in a day thanks to Amazon Prime.

So what happened, well your primordial brain sensed prey in the form of a deal, your adrenaline started pumping because you are on a proverbial hunt. This is when your rational brain kicked in asking the question “Hey is this a good deal?”  Now your primordial brain trying to appease the rational side of your mind says “ hey dummy chill out we just saved $7.99  from the list price. We got a killer deal!  High Fives all around!”

Now is as good a time to bore you with the details of the Signaling Theory.
In the context of marketing the seller has full knowledge of the total cost
of the item, the quality, the breadth of similar items and the market price
that consumers are willing to pay.  The consumer meanwhile has few resources to compare the item to and in most cases revert to user reviews that have been cultivated by the merchandiser. Information asymmetry occurs where one side as all the information and the other side has little to none.

Back to the iPhone case, Amazon has all the information of what it costs to
buy the purple Otterbox Defender 6 case from the manufacturer. Amazon has calculated the administrative, holding and shipping costs down to the penny. They have metrics to determine product quality and demand for this and all similar iPhone 6 cases, so they know what is hot and what is not down to the tenth of a percentage point (or more).

But what do you know, well, let’s see you can see the list price and the
quoted price on Amazon’s website. You know that users like the product and that you can get it in 24hours if you buy it now.  More importantly, you know that you got a fabulous deal,  a savings of $7.99 is real money.  But did you save money, well that is another question?  It is a relative
question with a nebulous answer.  Yes, you saved money from an artificially high list price, remember Amazon and OtterBox are in the business to make money.  But did you get a good deal? Well, this is where Signalling theory comes into play because Amazon has signaled that you are getting a great deal, and you have accepted the signal without question.

So why does Amazon want to change business as usual,  well to be honest
because we have now been so conditioned to buy almost everything from Amazon that they don’t need to signal that you are getting a good deal anymore? In fact,  Amazon has collected so many data points from you that they know what you buy when you buy it, the frequency that you need it, who you are sending it to, what colors you prefer and the urgency in which you need it.

Like Pavlov’s dog, they have you trained and can predict what shipments to direct to their local distribution centers even before you click send on
your order. Because they have taken all the guessing out of this process,
there can fix the price on the optimal value proposition for the consumer
and Amazon.  To some, this is a thing of beauty but to some, it is very
scary, almost Orwellian.  Rest assured big brother Amazon knows if you have been naughty or nice and will be shipping your Purple iPhone 6 case to you even before you … oh wait the delivery guys here with an Amazon box.   I wonder what it is?

Thoughts On Microsoft’s “Bae” Invite

Microsoft

Read about the Bae invite to get lit with lots of dranks here. 

Why is it so hard for the middle-aged to look hip and cool?  How many middle age men get ridiculed for being out of “vogue” and most middle-aged women are labeled Volvo driving soccer moms. Yes, it is true most of us have lost the battle with gravity, and any free time we may have after work and family obligations is not focused on discovering the latest trends in fashion or music. Heck,  I proudly admit that I buy shoes based on comfort over style or brand recognition, but does that make me a fuddy-duddy?

Why should I care?   I am okay with being a middle-aged man; I believe that the gray hair in my beard is just wisdom exiting my body, while the aches and scars I have accumulated during my youth provide a natural segue into a great story.   Shouldn’t an amazing company like Microsoft be comfortable with being middle aged?  I mean they had a spectacular youthful run in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the 00’s MSFT expanded into new markets during their early twenties and emerged in the next decade as a community leader and technology integrator. Microsoft mainstreamed personal computing, reimagined work productivity and transformed how the world communicates. Yes, there were some missteps, and more than once youthful exuberance got them in trouble but they are still synonymous with technological innovation and value creation. Not a bad pedigree for a middle company,

Sure they aren’t as shiny as Google or Facebook, but why should Microsoft a storied brand succumb to a disingenuine recruitment tactic?  I find it hard to believe that Microsoft recruitment tactic is to convince young developers that they are hip and cool?  Don’t they know that their recent recruitment effort was like a 45year old balding male divorcee trying to pick up a sorority girl as the trendiest Manhattan bar?  Didn’t someone say hey wait a minute, this is not befitting of our brand image?

When I think of Microsoft’s brand image, I think of integration, consistency, and global interoperability.  These are not expressions of youth but years of hard work, technological leadership, and innovation.  Microsoft should wear the badge of middle age with pride;  Microsoft is the elder statesmen in the technology world, the mentor to fledgling startups dreaming of achieving a fraction of the success that Microsoft has achieved.

As I have said before, I don’t pretend to be hip and cool, and I could care less if I am perceived that way. I believe my value to the younger generation is my experience, my ability to put their life into perspective and the vast network of resources that I can engage if required.

Microsoft has the same ability only exponentially bigger.  So why are they pandering to millennials with incomprehensible slang?  The only explanation that I can come up with is that they are insecure about their brand’s patina?  Unfortunately, they are not comfortable with their wrinkled skin and what’s even worse, this recruitment effort was like a Middle Aged woman getting a facelift to turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately, the result in every case no matter how good the plastic surgeon is a plastic façade that scares young people away instead of bringing them closer.  

So my advice to Microsoft is to be yourself, engage developers with a vision, test their skills with a real world coding challenges and engage them with a story that captures their imagination. Use your resources to shape their impression, if you want to be hip and cool, enlist a genuine millennial superstar to host a charity concert, have a celebrity chef cater the event but most importantly showcase why Microsoft is a technological giant in the land of start-up pipsqueaks.

Please , for god sakes don’t die your mustache, squeeze into a pair of leather pants and hit on sorority girls. That is totally gross and more importantly not in line with your professional brand image.