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Posts from the ‘Advertising’ Category


RFPs: The Biggest Scam in Business

RFPs and Search Marketing Firms

Killing The Golden Golden Goose

Killing The Golden Golden Goose

If you’ve ever been in the agency or firm world, then you’ve heard of them. RFPs (Request for Proposal). And, chances are, you’ve participated in one, answered one, and, god forbid, crafted one. I consider them to be the “Goose that Laid the Golden Egg” for companies; they keep on giving and giving. Endlessly.

The premise of the RFP:

1) You get an RFP from a prospective client. A business-orientated tome full of hypothetical questions.

2) The business requests you answer a complete litany and barrage of questions as to how you would go about marketing and strategizing for (hypothetically, of course):

a. A particular line of products the company is thinking about launching
b. The company itself (my personal favorite).
c. Analyzing their current marketing strategy, and what your company would do to improve upon it

3) After spending considerable, and exhausting hours, delving in your own company’s products and services, you send it back to the prospective client in the hopes they will choose you to implement the marketing strategy you put together.

Why the RFP Must be Banished

The three points above are overly-simplified. The questions in these RFPs are very specific to the given client requesting it, and ask for data that takes a good bit of research to speak intelligently to. For example (completely fictitious question):

“We are thinking of offering consumers in Region Z our Blue Widget product, previously unavailable to them. What types of demographics are most apt to purchase our product? What type of marketing strategy is needed to make this effort profitable and capture the demographic?”

That’s just ONE question. There are likely to be several questions that go that in-depth. Right there we’re talking numerous hours of research to find out about the primary demographic that would most likely purchase the widget. Add on top of that the hours it’s going to take to craft a specific marketing strategy to sell a blue widget. Ridiculous.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that all of this is FREE OF CHARGE? That’s right, it’s free. It’s for the opportunity to put YOUR OWN PLAN OF ACTION into action. Brilliant. So, let me get this straight: I get to waste dozens and dozens of man-hours and create a hypothetical marketing strategy, all for the opportunity to put my own plan into action? Awesome.

What happens if they decide to go with another RFP from another business? Well, you’re SOL. All that research and data and strategy wasted. Not so. Nothing is stopping the requesting company from integrating your ideas into the RFP they chose. Not a thing. Moreover, the requesting company might choose not to pick anyone at all. They might just withdraw all offers and sit on it.

Right. This company just swindled (yes, that’s what they did), in some cases, $20,000+ of free research and strategy, for nothing but the promise of opportunity.

How To Stop The RFP Madness:

Businesses should simply refuse to participate in the process. Send it back with a big “NO THANKS” stapled to the front of RFP. If more businesses decided to spend the time and man-hours working on actual clients, they’d be more profitable. It might even send the message that the “free lunch” is over. Or secondarily, just bullshit the answers. Have fun with it. Get Socratic with it. Answer their questions with more questions.

If these companies weren’t getting anything valuable from it, then they’d stop sending them. They’d actually have to meet with a company, face to face, and discuss actual issues that need actual resolutions. And, they might actually have to pay to have that research done. Weird.

I, for one, am saying no to the RFP.


Three Reasons MySpace Ad Platform Will Fail Too

MySpace Launches Another Social Networking Ad Platform

In case you didn’t know, MySpace launched their DIY (Do It Yourself) ad platform.  Check out this CNET article for the details. And, in the event you don’t like to read, here’s a condensed screenshot:

Three Reasons MySpace’s New Ad Platform is Going to Fail:

1) Like FaceBook, the MySpace ROI Will Be Dismal:

The ROI (Return on Investment) will not be there. Advertisers are going to kick in a lot of money and get very little out of it.  Why?  Two considerations to take into account:

2) Targeting the Pre-Pubescent and Immature (a.k.a. No Money of Their Own)

MySpace, ideally, should be used for advertisers shooting for 13-21.  That’s right, you’re targeting the pre-pubescent and the immature.  They have very little money of their own to spend. And, that’s ok.  That’s your niche. They also have a very high degree of “banner blindness”, that is, they’ve trained themselves to ignore ads and focus on content which matters to them.

a) The MySpace Layout:

The MySpace layout is a complete cluster.  It’s completely scrambled eggs.  Users are lucky to distinguish between important things on the page, let alone advertising.  They might switch over to a “new” layout like FaceBook, where it shapes and prunes the ads from the FaceBook content, but only until advertisers start to complain about their ROI on these ads. And, even then, it won’t be enough to bring the advertisers back.

3) ROI on Social Networking is a Myth

I asked the question, “how many SEMs and Web Marketers will be using the new MySpace Ad Platform? Why or Why Not?” I got some great answers from CommunityMGR (a.k.a. James Wong).

And, I couldn’t agree more with CommunityMGR: if you’re a corporation looking to use social media, then you should be using social media/social networking sites for BRAND MANAGEMENT and sculpting BRAND REPUTATION.  And, as James points out, that is the true ROI: keeping your brand image and reputation exactly as you need it to be with consumers.  There’s no price you can pay for that, and in the long run that’s truly an ROI multiplier.

So, before you dive head first into these ad programs offered by your “favorite” social networks, ask yourself what it is that you really want to accomplish.  Because if you really want ROI, then you should look elsewhere.


New Microsoft Marketing Campaign: Another Failure

Hey, What’s The Deal With Microsoft?

Microsoft and Jerry Seinfeld

That’s right, Microsoft has enlisted the help of Jerry Seinfeld for it’s next round of Ad campaigns against their arch-nemesis Apple. Check the details of this new alliance at WSJ, some good information here.

Why The Microsoft Marketing Team Needs To Be Shot

Nothing says 90’s relevance like Jerry Seinfeld. Instead rebranding themselves as forward-thinking and futuristic, they have relegated themselves back to 90’s when Microsoft was king and Apple had yet to break through with the iPod. The days of yore.

Of course Seinfeld is going to be just one of the many celebrities promoting Microsoft, but if this is any indication of where this $300 million dollar campaign is headed, then Microsoft is about to piss away a fortune and end up in worse shape than they already are.

This is a stroke of less brilliance and more trying to capture a middle-aged/Boomer market that has drifted to Apple in the past 5 years.

Why It’s Going To Fail (Just Like Everything Microsoft Does Lately)

There’s no innovation whatsoever. They’ve always been a johnny-come-lately (i.e. search engine algorithms, AdCenter, Live Maps, etc.) , and they will always be. They are continually five or more years behind the curve on just about everything they do, outside of their Office Suite. (Which, by the way, is quite possibly the only thing Microsoft does well)

Microsoft reads the focus group reports, crunches the numbers, and come up with a strategy on that. They are always, always aiming for the where bar is TODAY not where they want the bar to be TOMORROW. That’s the problem. Apple has the market cornered on the “satirical” ads between the two, and to green-light this marketing strategy, is just another example of today-thinking, not tomorrow-thinking.

Perhaps Microsoft should actually build themselves a “Wall” before they completely throw their money and their brand “Out the Window”.

Update: 9/8/2008

Here’s the first of the Seinfeld/Gates/Microsoft Ads: (Note: Wow. Not Great)

Even Bigger Update: 9/18/2008

Microsoft announces the end of the Gates/Seinfeld Ads. When I’m right, I’m right. Check out this ValleyWag Article.


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