Blog Archives

50 Things You Don’t Need in 2014

As 2013 draws to a close, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some well-loved things that suddenly find themselves obsolete in our fast-changing world.

I can’t pretend this is a comprehensive list of all-things-obsolete, but coming up with fifty was far easier than I first expected!

What did I miss?

Free video webinar: B2B Buyer Engagement Through New Technology

BrightTALK WebinarYesterday I joined B2B Marketing’s Joel Harrison and co-founder of BrightTALK, Charlie Blackburn, in their London studio to talk about the challenge of securing buyer engagement through new technology channels.

If you missed the live broadcast, the webinar recording is now available to view at:

I’d love to hear your feedback. And yes, I really do need a haircut.

Killed by Tech

Eric Qualman writes some good books. His latest is out now and he’s plugging it, as ever, with a video that I know you’ll enjoy.

But, before you watch, have a think about some of the things that have been killed off by technology in the last 20 years.

Now watch the video and see a few more you didn’t think of.

New video site: Technology Marketing in Mind

I was recently filmed for a new marketing industry initiative aimed to help technology marketers hear from their peers about critical issues facing our sector. The new Technology Marketing in Mind site is launched today at It’s a project by Marketing Options International, an agency I’ve not dealt with previously, but they were a lot of fun to work with on this project.

If you spot me in the videos, let me know what you think. You may find what I say more intelligible if you turn on YouTube’s stunningly accurate closed captioning beta feature:


There’s more to life than consumerist fulfilment

Rioters in London

I don’t recognise the British towns and cities being beamed into my living room on rolling TV news bulletins and websites. As I type, the violence and criminality sweeping densely-populated parts of England is continuing this evening. It’s deeply saddening to see parts of our small island being torn apart by mindless thugs. Technology, most notably Twitter and BlackBerry Messager (BBM), has been widely criticised as having helped fuel the riots. That technology acts as a facilitator is not in doubt, but it is wrong to label these tools as the cause of the continued unrest.

What started out as a peaceful protest about the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham has rapidly morphed into a wholly different problem, coordinated by disaffected youths engaging in the communal release of the anger and resentment they feel at their life circumstances. Our consumerist society lies at the heart of the problem; when there’s always something bigger, better, and shinier, some find it difficult to find contentment in the here-and-now. Today’s Guardian newspaper captures the root problem succinctly:

The riots are a product of the lives which the rioters choose or feel constrained to live. Blaming the riots on individual wickedness, conspiracies or on government spending cuts is too glib for such complex issues, though they cannot be dismissed altogether even so. Both conspiracy and deprivation are part of the complex and grim story, as is the cult of violence, especially guns, and a rage against exclusion from consumerist fulfilment.

There’s so much more to life than simply chasing your next material possession. We live in an extraordinary world, with knowledge and opportunities that our forefathers couldn’t even have imagined. Our natural world is filled with enough wonders and riches to fill a lifetime of curiosity. While I sit and ponder this evening why so many Brits have chosen to express themselves through violence and criminality, I hope that all of us who deplore their actions will also take a moment to be thankful for the remarkable  world in which we live and contented in the knowledge that there’s more to life than consumerist fulfilment.

Mark Ritson is wrong: social media is for people and brands

imageAssociate Professor of Marketing, Mark Ritson, believes that “social media is for people, not brands” as explained in his latest weekly column for Marketing Week.

I think he may be starting to lose the plot.

Ritson begins his argument by showing that five of Britain’s biggest brands, including retailer Morrisons and banking giant Barclays, don’t use Twitter at all. He goes on to show that some big brands like BP, Vodafone and BT have fewer followers than tweets. To argue that a channel like Twitter is not suitable for brand marketing just because not everyone uses it, or worse some use it inappropriately, is absurd. On that basis, TV advertising would be unsuitable for brands, as would almost every other communications channel we exploit.

The article goes on to outline “The Peter Andre Factor” which Mark Ritson believes demonstrates social media’s unsuitability for most brands. Peter Andre, the former pop start and reality TV contestant, has over half a million followers on Twitter, more than five times the followers of Britain’s biggest brands combined. This, Ritson posits, is compelling proof that social media only works on a person-to-person basis.

There are several flaws in Ritson’s logic. Firstly, to limit any analysis of social media to one channel, Twitter, is to ignore the rich diversity of thriving channels that colour the social networking landscape. Twitter is, by design, not a social network, it’s a publishing platform that allows you to share and find up-to-the-minute information. Conversely, Facebook, and its army of imitators, is a social network designed to facilitate conversational, engaging interactions, with people and organisations that you choose to follow. The two provide a very different service, appeal to different people, albeit with lots of overlap, and can contribute to brand goals in diverse ways.

Secondly, to argue that social media  “has limited potential for a very small proportion of brands” seems short-sighted at best. Don’t get me wrong, there are some brands for whom an entry into social media would be highly inappropriate, even damaging, but there are many more brands that could benefit greatly from making themselves more accessible to their users and being part of the conversation.

Where Mark Ritson and I can agree is that social media does not work “when cold, hard, lifeless organisations start trying to spark interactive social media conversations.” Perhaps that’s why you can in fact already find some small parts of Barclays bank on Twitter; if the heaving mass that is Barclays Bank were to try to represent itself through a single online Twitter identity, failure would be a near certainty. It’s hugely important that marketers think carefully about whether it is their brand or a person who represents the brand that should host any online conversation. Either approach can work, but smart marketers know that it’s the brand, its values and purpose which should ultimately determine how it presents itself in any chosen marketing channel.

It’s right too that we should all try to “get this social media into perspective”. Too many brands have fallen for its shiny new allure, creating unnecessary and sometimes unwanted online presences that do nothing for the intended audience. I agree that the social media crowd can, at times, be its own worst enemy, with exaggerated efficiency claims and unswerving bias to immature and unproven marketing techniques. If I get one more call from a self-professed Trust-me-I'm-a-Social-media-Expert-badge“Social Media Expert/Guru”, I won’t be responsible for the consequences. No-one is an expert here, we’re all learning as quickly as we can. But, to suggest that we should automatically classify social media as an insignificant tool with limited potential for most brands seems stunningly myopic and ignorant.

Technology has handed control over to the consumers of our brands. They are now part of the conversation and if they choose to speak to us we have to be prepared to speak back. Our days of purely shouting at them when we choose (advertising) are over. This is a box that, once opened, can never be closed, and marketers for every brand have a responsibility to critically assess new channels and determine how their business goals can be met using every tool at their disposal. We ignore social media and the societal changes it will bring about at our peril.

[update: Marketing Week article now available online]

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