All posts by Jeff Larche

With a background that includes direct marketing and customer relationship management (CRM), Jeff Larche brings an unusual approach to his work. What these other two disciplines have in common is database marketing, and they continue to strongly influence his work as marketing technology leader.

A steak-scented billboard: Who ever sausage a thing?

This What’s In Store post reported on a billboard that not only visually evokes a juicy steak — it smells like one. Here’s an excerpt:

A billboard that smells as enticing as it looksCommuters [on a North Carolina highway] may find a new aroma commingling with exhaust fumes: The smell of grilled steak, coming from a billboard designed to entice shoppers by appealing to a sense other than sight … It pairs the smell with a big visual, showing a giant piece of steak and a French fry on a giant fork.

The post goes on to say that this is one of the first of its kind in the country. I was reminded by a friend this morning that the technique has definitely been enhanced by modern chemistry (by ScentAir of Charlotte, NC), but this tactic at least dates back to Wisconsin’s own Wienermobile.

For those who don’t remember it, this vehicle promoted Oscar Meyer wieners for decades, and often used the smell of cooking hotdogs to help build an audience.

… As if the vehicle’s design alone wouldn’t do the trick!

Can readers find an earlier example of out-of-home “whiff-appeal” to help sell a product?

Online surveys as brand awareness Trojan horses

Another offline marketing tactic goes online. For years, some face-to-face or phone surveys during election seasons have been used to start or intensify voter opinion. Most of us have heard of these tactics, but if you haven’t, here’s an example:

“Hello, I’m doing research on the local senatorial race. Here’s our survey question for you: If you learned that Senator Jones, who is up for reelection, regularly terrified kittens, how would that influence your vote? And here’s our follow up question: What if you learned he was even meaner to cute little puppies?”

Click to view the ad in contextOther surveys of this ilk are less nefarious, but they do have this in common: They claim to do one thing while accomplishing another. Think of them as Trojan horses, carrying awareness instead of seeking to measure it.

I thought of this technique when I saw this online ad — er — I mean, survey.

I have to say, it’s kind of brilliant.

Voice recognition was done first and best by humans

Back in 2008 I theorized that it would be just a few years before voice commands revolutionized marketing and commerce. Not necessarily for everyone, mind you, but most significantly for people who wouldn’t dream of using a keyboard, or even a smartphone!

My post, Leaping the chasm to a plugged-in construction site, predicted that voice recognition isn’t that far away, and is the only way that many professionals would benefit from the utility of digital networking and cloud computing — ranging from the “safety glasses and hard hats set,” to offshore oil technicians (were you listening BP?), and even to surgeons.

One Million Years BC was a very cheesy movie about life before history. Original voice was mostly simple words and grunts. Heavy breathing was also involved -- at least, I'm imagining, by certain audience members.
In the beginning, even before we had a written language with which to record history, our original form of communication was voice. The problem with voice, however, was that once the words were spoken, they were gone forever. HarQen was launched at a time of technology convergence, when original voice can be turned into an asset.

That was as an outsider in the digital voice space. After spending time “inside,” with my friends and co-workers at HarQen, I’m realizing that voice recognition isn’t the only way to make a big difference with these types of phone users. I’ve discovered that you can derive value simply from people talking into their phones and having these snippets turned into sharable assets.

In other words, I hadn’t considered original voice. Original voice can be thought of as voice “captured, stored and shared,” pretty much as-is.

HarQen believes The Original Voice Matters. I recently talked about their view, of how voice is the “original rich media,” at Ungeeked Elite. Here’s a post from last week, on the VoiceScreener blog, that helps to explain why the best voice recognition software still resides between our ears — and how HarQen is using voice asset management to give clients an impressive competitive advantage.

So I was wrong. But I’m even more excited now than I was then. I cannot wait to see what happens when voice asset management is commonly adopted. Although it might not be powered directly by voice recognition, there may be a plugged-in construction site after all, using speech in the way it was used in the days when the only construction sites were in barely habitable caves!

171 pros offer practical advice in Age of Conversation 3

Back in 2008 I discovered that many of my favorite authorities on social marketing had contributed to a one-of-a-kind volume: The Age of Conversation. I was glad to endorse it as a reader.

Now I’m even more excited about Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton’s latest project — as one of its 171 contributors. Age of Conversation 3 is published by the new digital publishing company Channel V Books. It’s available through all major online retailers, as a Kindle e-book, and in the ePub book format that woks with other major digital readers.

Here’s a quote for the publication press release:

Age of Conversation 3 captures the distinct shift from social media as a hypothetical consumer loyalty tool, as it was considered only a little more than a year ago, to its current state as a staple in the modern marketing toolbox …

“We have seen an incredible shift in the role of social media over the past three years. It has moved from an outlier in the marketing mix to one of the strategic pillars of any corporate marketing or branding exercise,” said Drew McLellan.

“And it doesn’t end there,” adds Gavin Heaton. “As the many authors of this new book explain, the focus may be on conversation, but you can’t participate in a conversation from the sidelines. It’s all about participation. And this book provides you with 171 lessons in this new art”.

The genesis for the series itself has all the makings of a thrilling read: regular correspondence between people around the world; a proactive collaboration between 15 countries; and two marketing professionals who have never met each other face to face, scrambling to learn how to publish a book from the ground up.

Raising Money For Worthy Causes

This book is a good read as well. It’s also a way for its owners to do good works.

The first Age of Conversation raised nearly $15,000 for Variety, the international children’s charity. The next volume raised another $10,000 for the cause. McLellan and Heaton used a social marketing campaign tactic they called the “Conversation Bum Rush,” described in my March, 2008 post.

All profits from the sale of this volume are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a children’s charity nominated by me and a majority of the other 171 authors.

Find out more at the Age of Conversation blog. And feel free to join the Age of Conversation Facebook Fan Page.

The Authors:

Adam Joseph Priyanka Sachar Mark Earls
Cory Coley-Christakos Stefan Erschwendner Paul Hebert
Jeff De Cagna Thomas Clifford Phil Gerbyshak
Jon Burg Toby Bloomberg Shambhu Neil Vineberg
Joseph Jaffe Uwe Hook Steve Roesler
Michael E. Rubin anibal casso Steve Woodruff
Steve Sponder Becky Carroll Tim Tyler
Chris Wilson Beth Harte Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Dan Schawbel Carol Bodensteiner Trey Pennington
David Weinfeld Dan Sitter Vanessa DiMauro
Ed Brenegar David Zinger Brett T. T. Macfarlane
Efrain Mendicuti Deb Brown Brian Reich
Gaurav Mishra Dennis Deery C.B. Whittemore
Gordon Whitehead Heather Rast Cam Beck
Hajj E. Flemings Joan Endicott Cathryn Hrudicka
Jeroen Verkroost Karen D. Swim Christopher Morris
Joe Pulizzi Leah Otto Corentin Monot
Karalee Evans Leigh Durst David Berkowitz
Kevin Jessop Lesley Lambert Duane Brown
Peter Korchnak Mark Price Dustin Jacobsen
Piet Wulleman Mike Maddaloni Ernie Mosteller
Scott Townsend Nick Burcher Frank Stiefler
Steve Olenski Rich Nadworny John Rosen
Tim Jackson Suzanne Hull Len Kendall
Amber Naslund Wayne Buckhanan Mark McGuinness
Caroline Melberg Andy Drish Oleksandr Skorokhod
Claire Grinton Angela Maiers Paul Williams
Gary Cohen Armando Alves Sam Ismail
Gautam Ramdurai B.J. Smith Tamera Kremer
Eaon Pritchard Brendan Tripp Adelino de Almeida
Jacob Morgan Casey Hibbard Andy Hunter
Julian Cole Debra Helwig Anjali Ramachandran
Jye Smith Drew McLellan Craig Wilson
Karin Hermans Emily Reed David Petherick
Katie Harris Gavin Heaton Dennis Price
Mark Levy George Jenkins Doug Mitchell
Mark W. Schaefer Helge Tenno Douglas Hanna
Marshall Sponder James Stevens Ian Lurie
Ryan Hanser Jenny Meade Jeff Larche
Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher David Svet Jessica Hagy
Simon Payn Joanne Austin-Olsen Mark Avnet
Stanley Johnson Marilyn Pratt Mark Hancock
Steve Kellogg Michelle Beckham-Corbin Michelle Chmielewski
Amy Mengel Veronique Rabuteau Peter Komendowski
Andrea Vascellari Timothy L Johnson Phil Osborne
Beth Wampler Amy Jussel Rick Liebling
Eric Brody Arun Rajagopal Dr Letitia Wright
Hugh de Winton David Koopmans Aki Spicer
Jeff Wallace Don Frederiksen Charles Sipe
Katie McIntyre James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw David Reich
Lynae Johnson Jasmin Tragas Deborah Chaddock Brown
Mike O’Toole Jeanne Dininni Iqbal Mohammed
Morriss M. Partee Katie Chatfield Jeff Cutler
Pete Jones Riku Vassinen Jeff Garrison
Kevin Dugan Tiphereth Gloria Mike Sansone
Lori Magno Valerie Simon Nettie Hartsock
Mark Goren Peter Salvitti  

Voice: The original rich media

I had a fun time talking to the group this morning at UnGeeked Elite. I spoke about the power of voice asset management. If you’d like to know more, here’s a post recently on our VoiceScreener blog, by our CEO, Kelly Fitzsimmons, describing Voice as an Asset (VaaA).

I promised to post a mind map of the post-presentation discussion. Here it is (click to expand):

Also, if you want to check out that TEC video, here’s my original post about it, Jeff Han’s demonstration of multi-touch screens. I was wrong in that it’s more slanted than vertical, as I had said in the presentation. I had seen another video of him demonstrating the screen somewhere else, and that one was more vertical, and shot more at a distance.

Finally, Jonathan Brewer, (@houseofbrew) of FirstEdge Solutions had dared me to show him that super-comfortable office chair I work on. Here’s the photo I just posted of it on TweetPhoto (click to expand):

Use your smallness to out-maneuver competitors in search engines

King George II never knew what hit him. Your business can enjoy the same sneak attack advantage on search engines.

Many say our Founding Fathers won independence simply due to effective military strategy. They exploited their smallness — seemingly appearing out of nowhere and just as easily melting back into their surroundings. In this way the greatly out-gunned militia of George Washington prevailed over King George II and his army. This same approach helped the Viet Cong, keeping the Vietnam War in a stalemate until the U.S. withdrew. If you’re a small business, or a small competitor in a tough business segment, you can tear a page from these playbooks to win dominance on search engines.

But first, you need to understand which battles are worth winning. With modern search engines, the most important area to focus your efforts is backlinks. I’ve blogged before about their importance, offering seven types of backlinks to pursue.

Here are three ways to use smallness to your advantage in finding and exploiting search engine opportunities:

  1. Remind yourself that being great isn’t enough. You may build the best mousetrap ever. That doesn’t count. You have to also be strategic. In his book The Sirens Titan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. writes, “There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.” Organize your search engine strategy “along the lines of the Mafia.”
  2. In keeping with Rule #1, look for vulnerabilities. Find the unique qualities of your product or service that cannot be reproduced by your competitors. Specifically, find how these unique characteristics can induce popular sites to link to you and no one else in your industry. As an example: Your company generates electricity, and does so in a way that is unmatched, in that it leaves a significantly smaller carbon footprint. That opens the door for backlinks from “green” directories and blog sites that your competitors cannot follow you onto. Each of these placements can be a huge win for your site.
  3. Be ready to turn on a dime. It’s something that smaller, more guerrilla-style fighters can do that their slower enemies cannot. Don’t look at your larger peers and mimic the pace with which they adapt to new market conditions. Instead, push your limits, and discover just how fast you can react. Then watch them struggle to keep up.

If you apply these three rules you’ll be well on your way to search engine victory. Often, your competitors won’t even know what hit them until it’s too late!

Online eye contact triggers altruism

This week I presented my C2 training course, Web Design & Content that Delivers ROI, at Proven Direct. One technique I discussed was the uncanny ability of a type of online graphic to attract attention (as measured by eye scan heatmaps) and move people to action. A lot of ads have used this technique, either intentionally or accidentally.

The technique: Have a person in your ad look directly at the user.

One example I gave was about a coffee station at a university with an “honors system” money collection jar. When the pricing sheet on the wall included the eyes of a person looking back out at the coffee drinkers, the money collected in the jar more than doubled, compared to weeks when the photo used was of a field of flowers. The photo could include any human, as long as the gaze was straight out.

What’s more, apparently the gaze does not necessarily have to be convincingly human — instead, just human-like. The graphic you see to the right depicts an application of this is fascinating technique described in New Scientist magazine. Here’s the account, as I described it to my class:

The researchers split the group into two. Half made their choices undisturbed at a computer screen, while the others were faced with a photo of Kismet — ostensibly not part of the experiment.

The players who gazed at the cute robot gave 30 per cent more to the pot than the others. (Investigators Terry) Burnham and (Brian) Hare believe that at some subconscious level they were aware of being watched. Being seen to be generous might mean an increased chance of receiving gifts in future or less chance of punishment …

Burnham believes that even though the parts of our brain that carry out decision-making know that the robot image is just that, Kismet’s eyes trigger something more deep-seated. We can manipulate altruistic behaviour with a pair of fake eyeballs because ancient parts of our brain fail to recognise them as fake, he says.

Keep this in mind where you are seeking to design an ad or interface that you don’t want overlooked.

If you’re in the Milwaukee or Madison areas, please be sure to attend my second course, presented by C2: Web Analytics That Clients Love. It will be held in Madison on April 27, and Milwaukee on May 11. Either of these presentations is just $69, but the Milwaukee course continues its $59 Early-Bird Pricing for another 12 days.

I hope to see you there!

Search conversion lift seen from social media

On Friday I gave a presentation in Chicago, at Loyola University, on social media and compliance. We covered many topics dear to the hearts of those who participate in social media and would prefer not to go to jail due to SEC or HIIPA violations. Left to other presenters was the topic of social media’s importance in today’s marketplace.

It’s just as well that I left the topic out. Since most of the attendees were bloggers themselves (yes, more than half of them — I counted hands!), covering the importance of social media would have been preaching to the converted. But recent research, by GroupM and comScore, helps remind us all that some of the strongest reasons to engage in social media aren’t readily apparent.

The study showed that people using search engines who also use social media are “more engaged consumers” and “more likely to be looking for places to buy and brands to consider.”

The research found that consumers using social media are “1.7 times more likely to search with the intention of making a list of brands or products to consider purchasing compared to the average internet user.”
Here are more findings from the study:

  • Consumers exposed to influenced social and paid search exhibit 223% heavier search behavior than consumers exposed to paid alone
  • Fifty percent of social media-exposed searchers search daily for product terms, compared to 33% of non-exposed searchers

And finally, this is the finding that I thought was most revealing: “In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 24 times more likely to click on organic links leading to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone.”

How much do you spend on paid search ads? This finding suggests to me that whatever you invest in pay-per-click advertising, you can reduce that cost or improve its reach by combining it with a well-planned social media engagement.

Great post-presentation feedback

After the presentation I met a ton of the audience members through Twitter. This is a group who really understands how social media can extend the value of a presentation! One participant, David Kamerer, had a great suggestion for a way to improve my compliance presentation. He suggested I add some content on the CANN-SPAM email marketing law. Thanks, @DavidKamerer, and the other folks attending the talk. I had a blast!

How to get non-Twitter users to tweet

You’d think it would be impossible to get those who haven’t signed up for Twitter to get hooked on the immediacy and community of “tweeting.” You’d be wrong.

Just now I wanted to watch the statistics while I had the USA – Canada Olympic Gold Hockey Game on the television. I logged into the official Winter Olympics site. I found paydirt — and a surprising real-time Facebook status feed. You can click the image for one that’s easier to read:

What struck me about the Facebook feed is I didn’t have to log in. Since I already had Facebook loaded in another browser window, it immediately gave me the opportunity to add my own two cents to the cheering / jeering session. I didn’t, but I did find the flow of other people’s comments to be a fun addition to my solo enjoyment of the game.

I’ve written before about how Facebook is a perfect set of social media training wheels for the newbie. This is more evidence.

Tuesday’s Milwaukee Pecha Kucha Night will blow you away

Twenty slides, twenty seconds, 120 minutes of anarchy.

That’s the promise behind the upcoming Pecha Kucha event, to be held at the Sugar Maple, on the corner of Lincoln and Kinnickinnic in Milwaukee. Judging from the names I recognized among the list of presenters, this PK Night should be the best yet.

No Cover

Yep. It’s free to get in this time. And because it’s held at the Sugar Maple, there will be a huge assortment of microbrew and imported beers.

Pow? Free? Wow

That’s right. The first 20 people through the door receives a copy of Andy Nulman’s Pow!

Milwaukeans Watching a Pecha Kucha Presentation

As Always, Diverse Topics

Watch presentations that last no longer than seven minutes, on the following:

  • Green Homes
  • Coffee’s Global Impact
  • “I Don’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me”
  • Brewing Beer
  • “Novembeards”
  • The Three Brains of Humans

… And much, much more!

Presenters include James Carlson, Jim Chambers, Fred Gillich, Steve Hawthorne, Ryan Matteson, David Ravel, Winston Smith, Mike Brenner, Betty Blexrud-Strigens, and Jim Warchol.

It all starts at 8 PM this Tuesday, February 23, 2010. I’ll be there. Will you?

Pecha Kucha Milwaukee
at The Sugar Maple
441 E. Lincoln Ave.
Milwaukee, WI

As always, check in at the official Pecha Kucha Milwaukee site for updates!

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