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For the real Steve Davis click here

February 26, 2011 1 comment

If you have ever set up a Google Alert on your own name you will know how intriguing it is to find other people with your name. It is all the more surprising if your name is a rare one. Not that I’d know about that!

Another spin-off of this shrunken, socially-networked world is that I have been engaged in Twitter conversations where people have assumed the Steve Davis they know has my twitter handle of @stevedavis. Yes, I did play along for a while and most have been good sports about it.

But what I have done now, on my website, is create a new genre of About Me page, one that involves fantasy and good ol’ Aussie larrikan behaviour, oh, and numerous personifications of Steve Davisness. Read more…

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Hung Parliaments, Branding and Special K with Forest Berries

November 11, 2010 1 comment

I went to Woolworths recently to pick up some groceries and had a marketing epiphany.

I had decided it was time to restock on some Special K with forest berries and discovered that Woolies does not stock that flavour of Special K. So, without hesitation, I put the few items already selected back on the shelf and trotted to Coles at the other end of our local shopping mall.

There was no pang of guilt or remorse in leaving Woolies behind. In fact, it was a simple decision. Neither of the lame, empty positioning statements of the two multinationals counted for anything during this decision process. All that mattered was that despite having 99% identical products on offer, I needed something in the 1% and that was a deal breaker.

I think Australia has just demonstrated the same lesson in marketing to our major political parties. Let me explain.

Supermarkets own “bland” branding

The reason Coles and Woolworths lack the diehard followers who would cross town to shop with them is that almost everything they offer is identical, it is offered in an identical way and few of us sense any value in their offerings. For example, Woolies’ Fresh Food People line, despite all the advertising, means nothing to me when I visit the store and see their bananas are all solid green or brown and bruised, or their punnets of tomatoes include some going mouldy (which happens often there and at Coles). Meanwhile, Quality food costs less at Coles is a meaningless line because the difference is typically only a few cents and Woolworths often discounts the things on my list.

So we are left with shoppers going wherever is closest or on the most convenient route for multitasking a journey. I am sure a few still follow the folly of driving to three different supermarkets chasing a few cents discount while burning more money up in their cars than they save at the till. These latter shoppers might represent radically-swinging voters.

How does this translate to political marketing? Quite directly, I believe.

Me too marketing can be a shortcut to a slow death

Despite having different advertisements, Australia’s major political parties paid the price for taking a “me too” line in the recent election campaign. Just like Coles and Woolies leave us underwhelmed when pushing Coke specials (because we know that other one will have similar offers around identical brands), so too did the parties work hard to make the same basket of goodies sound unique. Incredibly, a Liberal party pushed a Labor industrial relations policy and a Labor party sounded just like the previous Liberal government on the issue of immigration.

So, just like with supermarkets, when both party leaders sound the same, consumers can easily and lightly shift their brains into neutral or go with “the other one” if they are promising a more finely-tuned policy close to a voter’s heart with no fear that the consequences will be dire. A number of Liberal voters I have conversed with, felt safe voting Labour on the strength of the National Broadband Network because they discerned little to worry about in having the “reds” take power because they were only a “very faint red”  these days! Likewise, some Labour voters I conversed with were planning to vote Liberal after hearing the Liberal party’s Murray River policy. Again, these stripe-changing positions would be unheard of in an environment where the two parties actually stood for something different and substantial.

Parties, and marketers, do themselves a disservice when they try to be bland, one-size-fits-all options.

I can’t get passionate about either major party, nor can I get passionate about either of the large supermarket chains.

The question is, can people realistically become passionate about your company, your brand, your product, you?

What are you doing that sets you apart from the pack with an offering that is likely to resonate deeply, very deeply, with members of your target market?

What are YOUR forest berries?

Dipping toes into the social pond

Social media breakfast
Image by the tartanpodcast via Flickr

As I venture around Australia running workshops for small business people on a marketing-based approach to the social web, I have noticed a particular mindset appearing more often over the past few months. It is a mindset of guarded observation.
I think this change is worth reflecting upon.
Back in 2007 when I first drafted my Marketing 2.0 workshops, I noticed that the overwhelming majority of participants were champing at the bit to soak up the insights and swing into action. These were ordinary, everyday small business people who had been hearing about the emergence of social networking sites, particularly MySpace, YouTube and SecondLife, back then and they wanted a piece of the action.

I am not saying that all business people were thinking this way, only that the ones that were had their eyes and ears open for courses like mine. The naysayers stayed well away.

But something is changing. In my latest round of workshops, which kicked off last week, this new trend continued. A strong core of participants had their arms folded and sported very serious demeanours. They were watchful. They were carefully assessing my take on the small business value of tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and I had never felt so at ease.
This is the second wave of small business people. They have heard about the “social craze”, waited for the silly hype cycle to move on, and now they are analysing the scene for evidence of value for their businesses with the same earnest approach as that taken by those amazingly gifted CSI investigators who solve TV crimes for us each week through sober investigation.

To me, this is the smartest time for small business to move. We have witnessed the heady hits and misses of the fast, furious few and the initial, over-budgeted and variously planned executions by MBA-drenched committees in corporate world, and now we can plot a way forward, learning from the mistakes of others and testing our own hypotheses.

This wary approach has cost some people opportunities but has helped many others survive. We have seen it most recently in the take up of email a couple of decades ago, websites about a decade ago, and mobile internet more recently.
It makes sense. Until you can see value in something new, I suppose there is little inclination to proceed and much to dissuade you from venturing forth.

This was illustrated perfectly today when one of my Facebook friends, a person who is also a listener to my monthly Online Insights segment on FIVEaa, shared an anecdote about his wife.

Peter commented on Facebook:  “My wife thinks FB is not for her.. she thinks i’m a computer geek.. just cause i want mobile broadband for my laptop… but no !!!! She gets mobile broadband for her laptop.. now she wants to take it everywhere … OMG.. what’s she going to be like if she ever starts to FB. 3 months after touching a computer for first time she’s an expert.”
And so we have it. Once this social web, these networks rich with potential for contacts and commerce have been experienced and understood, it is hard to remember what life, or business, was like before this always-connected era, which is precisely why I welcome this new wave of cautious exploration. New possibilities for communication surround us but they only bring value if they help us pursue our business objectives. If we understand that, we are in for an amazing ride. If not, I think it was Seth Godin in Lynchpins who said that this “always on” world can be like crack cocaine for procrastinators.

Which reminds me, I have a radio segment to prepare …


-Steve Davis

Marketing & Communication Consultant

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what does social media mean to you?

the collective gathered at the adelaide botanical gardens today to capture some foto images…

and charlie took the opportunity to capture footage too and ask some of the members “what social media meant to them?”. some interesting responses however we all liked Rick’s “it means the world”… and we know it means the world is your oyster when you’re online too…

Adrian K Hall

Andrew Andrews

Dana Mallach

Rick Carter

Lovely arvo… we will share some of the fotos at a later date, take care xc

Crowdsourcing our daughter’s name – Steve Davis

I did have a different article drafted for my first contribution as a Social Media Butterfly. It was about effective status updates, etc, but that can wait until next time. For this introductory piece I want to invite you in to my family, in a very social media way.

– Steve Davis

The reason for this invitation is that us Social Media Butterflies should practice what we preach and a simple way to demonstrate my social media involvement is to share with you how my family has used these online social channels. In particular, in relation to naming our daughters.

If you are a parent, you will understand just how tough it can be to find a name for each child. Back in 2008, we spent countless hours going through name lists and crafting shortlists and then disqualifying names due to past associations, unfortunate initials (eg Sandy Anna Davis has the initials SAD, not really a great endowment) and tease-potential.  The difficulty was that whatever my wife supported I vetoed and vice versa.

About two months out from birth, the coin dropped. As a passionate Leonard Cohen fan, I convinced my wife to let me harvest every female name used by Leonard in his songs and poems to enable us to craft another shortlist of names, names that I was guaranteed to support. So within a few days we had a definitive list of 23 names.

But then another coin dropped. This list was just begging to be turned into a poll. So, in quick time, our yet-to-be-named daughter had a WordPress blog and a poll thanks, ironically, to a free online service called Poll Daddy. And thus, babydavisblog.wordpress.com was born.

This experiment of asking friends and family to vote on their preference from the list of 23 names seemed to capture most people’s imaginations. Within hours we had a raft of votes and by Alexandra’s birth exactly 1,000 votes had been cast.

We don’t really have 1,000 people in our circle of friends and family. What happened was that I shared the story with journalists I knew, in particular, Samela Harris from the Advertiser and Keith Conlon and Tony Pilkington from FIVEaa.

Furthermore, as a member of the official, worldwide, Leonard Cohen forum, I was able to share the story and poll link among people who got excited by the idea of influencing someone’s name through such a novel device. From a marketing practitioner’s point-of-view, this extra push given to the event was crucial because it was not just enough to have a novel idea, we had to be proactive about sharing it with interested people; target markets if you like. As I observe some social media “specialists”, I worry that they sell these social channels as the answer to all life’s problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. You still need to be strategic. But I digress.

Upon reflection, the name poll was tremendous idea. It will give Alexandra a very special story about her beginnings to share with friends. Secondly, friends and family became more engaged in the journey towards birth. And, finally, it might one day lay the foundation for Leonard posing with the little girl whose name was chosen from a poll of names from his works. Well, maybe not the latter, but it is nice to dream. (Hint hint to the PR community – photo op just begging for Nov 18, 2010).

As I write, daughter number two is on her way, due late July. We have  another naming poll underway and you are invited to vote. The theme this time is wine and wineries because that is mum’s industry. And again, there are 23 names to choose from. So, here is my reaching out to kindred spirits to ask them to become engaged and involved. Will you vote? Visit babydavisblog.wordpress.com. Remember, we need to reach 1,000 votes to keep things even and save us from pre-birth blog envy 20 years from now.

PS In a further geeky development, during the first birth, I used my mobile to send Facebook updates which were broadcast via an RSS feed to appear on the Baby Davis Blog. This year, Baby Davis Blog has a Twitter account, so updates from mobile to website will take place via the Twittersphere this time round. If there were to be a third child, I am guessing some form of augmented reality technology would be around to transfer the updates or, horror of horrors, streaming, 3D video. On second thoughts, I think we’ll stop at Twitter!

– Steve Davis

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we start the collective…

Social [Media] Butterflies has been created as a professional, non-competitive collective. its founder, Charlie Helen of Charlie Design, firmly believes that customers and clients align with particular personalities in social media and therefore each “butterfly” will have a role, place, skill and focus to share. Butterflies who will contribute don’t all have a business in social media though…  however each has a unique voice, passion and strength. Social [Media] Butterflies are from fields such as “life commentators”, youth, brand, employee, music, business, and news.

At the time of writing there are no professional groups for social media “professionals” in Adelaide. Some international groups have formed though and we do have the #socadl presence (#socadl is for anyone interested in social media). That said, many groups form and then fail due to competitiveness, lack of leadership and/or purpose. Im hoping all #adelaide ones thrive and prosper!!

The Social [Media] Butterflies collective will be used to showcase talent, provide a networking stream, commentary and avenue for professionals to hone their craft. The philosophy remains : to help people. experiment. have fun. demonstrate. raise awareness.

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#twandup10 wrap up? lets continue…

what a mad mashup of tweets. fast paced, hecklers competing, competitors heckling, jokes and gags galore. no one knew where to look first. we had crashing broadbands, slow refreshes, and twits not catching on til voting time. a timeline that was delayed by two minutes and extended by twenty for voting. who would have thought it possible.

adelaide went silent for a loong time after it ended. most were exhausted. and rightly so. as far as an experiment goes, it was certainly that.

ready for #twandup10.2?

we are. next monday – same time – no rules. this time we’ll supply the topics openly and let you just run free. enjoy!!

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