Managing (filtering) choices

A few years ago, Bruce Springsteen sang of the agony of too much choice — and suggested a Luddite response — in the song “57 Channels (and Nothing On).” These days, as Little Judy points out on the Media Center blog, 57 channels ain’t nuttin’. We’re drowning in choice. MySpace alone is fast approaching 57 million channels (personal websites), each one contributing some microscopic piece of data to the online mediasphere.

“There’s so much entertainment to choose from,” writes Little Judy, “that once in a while I miss the days when my viewing options were Combat!, Daktari, Gilligan’s Island and a hockey game, and I listened to music on a transistor radio.” The proliferation of online sources just adds to the muddle.

Judy goes on to ask: How do we manage all this information?

In a word: filters. We’re becoming experts at filtering out information and honing our web searches. But in so doing, are we missing out?

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Breathing life into online communications

What a big difference spending a little bit of time to truly communicate with customers can make. Seth Godin recently shared a real-world example of how lifeless much emai from a corporate service department can bel, and then shared a possible remedy to that far-too-widespread problem. It involves spending a few minutes to compose a simple note that sounds as though it comes from a human being — because it does. And that can make all the difference.

Welcome, CASE ‘Currents’ readers

If you have any thoughts about my article on new media in the latest issue of CASE Currents, feel free to share your thoughts here.

I haven’t gotten my copy of the magazine yet, but I am assured it’s on the way.

Also, once the issue is online, I will post excerpts from it here.

UMR boards the blogtrain

Readers interested in science and technology — or the latest sci-tech news from my employer, the University of Missouri-Rolla — ought to take a look at Visions, UMR’s research blog, which debuts today. While this blog is brand new, the site has been around for 2 1/2 years. It began as a quarterly webzine focusing on UMR research and student scholarship. But last fall the UMR communications and marketing staff started planning to convert Visions to a more frequently updated blog site. On the Internet, quarterly publications just don’t cut it.

So, if you want to know what’s happening in the world of UMR research, be sure to add Visions to your blogroll or RSS feeds.

Technorati tags: blogs, blogging, engineering, science, technology, research, education, higher education, University of Missouri-Rolla, UMR, University of Missouri

Ethnographic research aids strategic planning

Ethnography seems to be all the buzz in marketing these days. And maybe that’s for good reason. A recent article about ethnographic research from the American Marketing Association’s newsletter suggests that ethnography can help marketers become more strategic in their decision making.

Citing an article by Richard Durante and Michael Feehan, copresidents of Waltham, Mass.-based marketing firm Observant LLC, the AMA notes that “ethnography offers an alternative to traditional research that leverages direct observation (avoiding the capriciousness of human memory) and ensures that marketing strategies and sales messages are well-aligned, internally consistent, and capable of addressing end-audience needs.”

The authors suggest that to fully appreciate ethnography, research managers need to grasp a simple notion: “Individuals behave in response to events in their environments, including the actions of others.” Furthermore, understanding behavior requires observing it in its natural environment. “This involves asking people—in that setting—why they’re acting in a particular way, not asking them to later recall what they did, said, or thought,” the authors write. “This, in a nutshell, is ethnography.”

Full article.

The KISS rule for marketing

Remember the KISS rule? It stands for “Keep it simple, stupid,” or, more politely, “keep it short and simple” or “keep it short and sweet.” It’s a good rule to heed in all forms of communication, but it seems we marketers need to be reminded of that from time to time.

A recent survey conducted by Yankelovich Marketing points out that, if customers had their way, the KISS method would rule in marketing.

When asked how they would like to be marketed to, 43 percent of those surveyed said they preferred “marketing that is short and to the point.” That was the highest percentage response in the survey.

Next, at 33 percent, has to do with convenience (“marketing that I can choose to see when it is most convenient for me”). In third place comes “marketing that is personally communicated to me by friends or experts I trust.”

But according to Yankelovich President J. Walker Smith, too many of us have been focused on the wrong thing. We’ve been caught up in delivery methods — new media, etc. — while ignoring the importance of how we present our message, regardless of media.

“Marketers are mis-framing the debate about how to reconnect consumers,” Smith said. “This is not about new versus traditional media. New media, like digital and wireless technologies, will never solve the ongoing decline in marketing productivity. The most resistant consumers are still waiting for better marketing practices, no matter what media is thrown at them.”