Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sometimes Its Just Better to Start Again

You know what annoys me? Those jigsaw puzzles that have pieces that are all the same size and shape. You know…the ones that I never quite know if a piece is in the right place. Sure it interlocks with, and is generally similar in color or texture to the adjacent pieces, but then halfway through putting the thing together I realize it’s not even close to beingpuzzle piece in the right place.

You know what else annoys me? When I take an idea and add what I think are complimentary pieces to it…only to find that 75% of the way through, a bunch of those pieces don’t quite fit where they are; if they fit at all.

With a puzzle you’ve got the picture on the front of the box to tell you what the picture should look like. You’re able to remove the offending pieces, put them where they need to be, and continue.

When it comes to a marketing effort, campaign, or organizational change things are a bit more difficult. You don’t have that picture on the box to tell you how everything should look at the end. In many ways that’s a good thing. It leaves lots of room for creativity, but at some point you may find that a piece that once looked like it fit perfectly when viewed up close, doesn’t look quite right when you step back and take a look at the whole picture.

So when you find yourself in this position, looking down at a nearly finished creation and realizing that it doesn’t look quite right, what do you do? Do you try to find and remove or modify the parts that are skewing the rest of the picture, or do you take the whole thing apart and go back to square one; the basic purpose, focus, and reason for the project in the first place. Redefine your goal and refocus your attention on what you want as an end result and rebuild.

I think most times starting again from that first creative spark is easier, more productive, and leads to a better end result than struggling to locate and fix the piece that doesn't quite fit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Little Things

What makes a successful socially driven marketing campaign? Is it the fact that you have a blog, a spokester, or videos on YouTube?


Anybody can do that, all it takes is a suitable Wordpress theme, a camera, and somebody to stand in front of it. What makes a successful campaign is what’s contained within the structure that a blog, YouTube, and the myriad other web tools that exist offer to the campaign.


These things are merely a container, and if you aren’t paying attention to what’s inside the container your going to get a mouthful of something that doesn’t quite taste like lemonade.

Its all about the little things, the things that create the tone, the atmosphere, and the voice you are aiming for.

As an example, take a look at Resource 1 Credit Union’s MyLifeMyMoney minisite. There’s been lots of talk about how it’s a blatant rip-off of Currency Marketing’s Young and Free product (recently launched by Resource 1’s neighbor TDECU). First let me say kudos to R1 for doing something most credit unions would be terrified of. Copycatting aside, it is still a gutsy move for any credit union.

On the site, the first thing that caught my eye was a bright green box on an otherwise gray site. In this box is a welcome message. See if you can spot what is wrong with this message:

Welcome to the MyLifeMyMoney website! MyLifeMyMoney is the perfect package of financial tools and products for adults ages 18-34, aka Generation Y. Surf around, check it out, and see why MyLifeMyMoney is the perfect way to bank for your generation.

The problem with this message isn’t grammar, length, or even the odd age range. The problem is the word “your”.

This campaign is an effort to connect with the Gen-Y crowd. One of the important things to keep in mind when dealing with Gen-Y is that they look for something that is “Theirs” or “ours”, something that isn’t handed down from a gray-haired banker trying to get their cash.

The words “your generation” say to me “hey we’re old, but we made this thing hoping you young whipper-snappers will open an account”. To really engage a Gen-Y demographic with a campaign like this it needs to feel like “we made this for us, this is our site, our blog, our product.”

Even if it happens subconsciously, this small piece of wording can undermine the entire effort, put potential Gen-Yers off, and portray an image contrary to what you're going for.

Its all about the small stuff, the tiny details, the words contained within the structure of a “web 2.0” marketing campaign.

So, to all you credit unions looking to start a Y&F style campaign, just because it’s yellow, doesn’t mean its lemonade.

P.S. Resource one, if you’re reading this, please lose the autoplaying video that pops up every time I visit the MLMM site. It’s not cool, its not helpful, its annoying. Thanks.