Make sure you buy your FastPass early

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Josh has announced the dates for this year’s BlogOrlando: September 25th – 27th. Registration will be happening soon. Having attended last year’s version this is one I’m looking forward to quite a bit, especially since this year Josh says there’s some even cooler stuff going on down there. Reconnecting with the people I saw last year and meeting new folks is also going to be the big plus from this. More details, as he says, to come.

Marketing News You Need: 7/7/08

We all want to hang with the cool kids

Alan Wolk (Tangerine Toad to you and me) has a great piece up at Adweek about what consumers – particularly those that are super media-savvy – really think about brands and advertising. He has some interesting observations about the usage of social media tools, but the real meat of the piece comes when he makes the observation that people are naturally more inclined to be “friends” on social networks with bigger brands.

While I think he’s dead on in saying there only a dozen or so such “prom king” brands, as he calls them, I think there are a lot of things going on here.

First, as he alludes to but never outright says, most of these top-tier brands are aspirational even more than they’re functional. Like he says at the end, Starbucks is likely to evoke a much more passionate outpouring than Maxwell House. The one is a lifestyle that we want to, whether we can afford it or not, associate ourselves with. The second does the job of jolting us out of our sleepy stupor but it isn’t very sexy about it.

Second, these are the brands that have the ad budgets to position themselves as winners in the minds of the consumers. So they’re always there, top of everyone’s mind, something that has a tremendous impact on how they’re perceived. After all, if they have that much money to be spending on ads they must be doing well, which leads to the assumption that they must be popular, which leads to the assumption that they must be good and therefore I must need that brand in my shopping cart/life.

Since, as I continue to maintain, each movie is a brand in and of itself, this sort of lesson is important for studios to pay attention to. Is No Country For Old Men better than Iron Man? An argument could certainly be made for that position, though the number of people friending Iron Man on Facebook almost certainly dwarfed those who added NCFOM’s “Coin Toss” widget to their profiles. There’s a bigger group of people who wanted to associate themselves with the Iron Man brand than NCFOM.

But therein lies the trick. Not every brand *needs* to be a “prom king.” And not only that tier should enter the social media waters. It’s all about activating the key audience, a group large enough to make the movie being marketed profitable and worth the financial risk. That’s why social networking and other online efforts can’t just be “build ‘em and leave ‘em” programs. Studios and other marketers need to be engaging with fans on the profile pages and building relationships.

It’s those relationships, which have the added benefit of often resulting in secondary evangelism by the engaged consumer, that will make or break a brand, whatever tier it might fall into.

Multi-platform campaign more effective for converting customers

According to new research from Integrated Media Measurement shows customer conversion rates can be increased by running multi-platform campaigns.

The rates of customer purchase more than doubled, for instance, when ads on any other platform were added to television spots. The coupling with TV is important since TV brings the reach and other platforms bring the targeting.

It’s maintenance that’s key

The main take-away from this Businessweek story on the various options when it comes to online communities is that there absolutely needs to be someone at the company that built it or is sponsoring it who is responsible for maintaining it. They need to get involved, get engaged and get real with the people who are there.

More than that, even, is that they need to come with a goal in mind. Too often efforts like these are undertaken without anyone in the company asking “Why?” It’s the answer to that question that will guide the company’s involvement and give the members of the community – whether it’s an existing one that the company sponsors in some way or one that’s built from scratch – some feeling of their being a point to their being there.

Cable channels advance in upfronts

This is an interesting development to watch if it becomes a trend: Cable networks are seeing the upfront dollars they’re getting grow while broadcast networks see their dollars stagnate. That’s largely due to the closing gap in the number of viewers, with cable’s programming attracting more of the audience and ratings at the broadcast networks slipping fast.

The hidden costs of widgets

An interesting thing to keep in mind when developing a widget strategy, but something that certainly shouldn’t keep you from executing it, is the fact that some developers charge each time it’s added by someone. But that doesn’t trump the notion, related in the article, that the key value in widgets is that it brings the website to the audience where they are instead of forcing them to come to the site.

Get them talking

Jackie Huba has a round of stats for you regarding word-of-mouth marketing and its effectiveness. Specifically she reinforces the point that it’s the person doing the WOMing that we trust, not the communications channel they do it over.

See your ad at the mall

Considering how important mall advertising seems to be for studios – the current releases are usually plastered all over my local one and I’m guessing it’s like that all over – this study on the reach of mall ads should be interesting. Nielsen numbers show 47 percent of shoppers see the ads, according to the study. The “information about sale items” the study cites as being welcome may not be super-relevant to movies, especially since few theaters are still attached to malls, but it’s still something that could be utilized for home video releases to promote sales at stores there.

Are you listening?

The key takeaway, I think, from the research from ExpoTV about online reputation management is that 89 percent of customers said they felt more loyal to retailer brands that they thought were listening to what was being said online. That’s transferable to just about any industry, I’d bet.

Be afraid

The FCC is looking to get into the regulation of product placement. While this seems to be focuses on the television industry for now there’s no way it ends there, so studios and advertisers should keep an eye on this.

“…mostly invisible…”

Steve Hall becomes my personal hero for this post that calls bullshit on the sudden upsurge in posts from Social Media All-Stars about how FriendFeed was gaining traction so much faster than Twitter.

While his comments are dead-on in most regards, his scenario of what would happen should “the @aol.com or @hotmail types decid(e) to hop on Twitter” may be the funniest thing I’ve read all day.