7 cool and completely random marketing-led snippets

It’s time for another collection of miniature marketing and copywriting-related snippets and random findings. 

7 random marketing-related snippets

The neuroscience numbers game

It’s disturbing to read an article in New Scientist magazine about the neuroscience community falling foul of a phenomenon that has long dogged fledgling marketers: forgetting to use big enough sample sizes, resulting in flawed findings that make no statistical sense. It’s a no-brainer – bigger sample sizes are the most obvious way to produce reliable results, especially when you’re looking at small, hard-to-detect effects.

If a brand marketer tries to tell you that you’ll soon be able to use neuroscience to identify and control consumer behaviour, for example analysing how different bits of the brain light up when we look at different products, treat it with a common sense level of scepticism. The findings just don’t add up… yet.

Radio 4 audience targeting debacle

This one has troubled me for weeks. In the summer I heard a news item on Radio 4 about how the station wanted to attract a younger audience to grow long-term market share. Which is fair enough on the surface of it. But think like a marketer and it seems crazy. Here’s why:

  • Radio 4’s current audience is mostly aged 40 plus
  • Britain’s demographic profile is about to undergo a seismic shift, with an ageing population and a growing percentage of older people
  • All R4 has to do is wait and, in a situation as rare as hens’ teeth in the marketing world, fresh listeners will eventually gravitate the station’s way of their own accord
  • Ergo, if they keep up the jolly excellent work they’ll have a constant and growing stream of new listeners coming on board perfectly naturally. Whereas if they change their format and content to attract younger listeners, audience numbers will ultimately fall

Murine? Yeuch!

OK, excessive earwax can be a pain. And I’m sure Murine, an over-the-counter product designed to get rid of it, is lovely stuff, a boon for many a blocked lughole. But I can’t help seeing the brand name as urine with an ‘M’ in front of it. Which puts me right off, and just shows you what a good idea it is to think carefully before coining a brand name.

Domino’s Pizza logic fail

You know that feeling when you look up at the stars and the sheer unbelievable, mind-blowing size of the universe makes you feel momentarily and utterly bewildered? I get much the same feeling trying to figure out what this Domino’s Pizza offer actually means: Savings of up to and over £350. Up to and over? Pardon my French, but WTF?!

At last, real Direct Marketing spotted in the wild online

It’s red of tooth and claw, the diametric opposite of fluffy, ephemeral brand advertising. I’ve been watching the digital marketing scene for many years and have often wondered why hard core direct marketing was such a  rare beast. So I’m delighted to report, to any of you who didn’t already know, that it’s alive and well, thriving in affiliate marketing territory.
I’ve been lucky enough to witness a talented digital marketer getting to grips with the discipline, which is fiercely competitive, complex and mercurial. It can also be ridiculously lucrative. And it’s all about DM. In affiliate marketing, just like classic direct marketing, you target and segment at every stage, in fine detail. Then you learn from your results, using your findings to drive better response and conversion. That’s the way to do it.

The brilliant Dark Patterns Library

A Dark Pattern is an online user interface that’s designed to trick people into doing things they don’t want, often without their knowledge. Like automatically giving you insurance when you buy a fridge, or arranging recurring charges on services. I came across one recently when signing up for an ebook creation tool for a year. The payment automatically appeared as a recurring annual payment in PayPal… which I promptly cancelled. The cheek of it!
It isn’t always consciously malicious or dishonest. It’s often down to crap design. Or a lack of insight into the regulatory and legal frameworks that sit behind marketing. Or slapdash thinking. But it’s good to be aware so you can avoid them, both as a punter and a marketer.
The Dark Patterns Library is full of examples. Brilliant. Here’s a link to DarkPatterns.org.

Are we facing the end of online anonymity?

I have never been trolled. I hope you haven’t either. It’s a despicable thing to do, but it seems it’s human nature, something more of us are happy to engage in… as long as we can do it anonymously. What happens when we’re no longer allowed to be anonymous? Apparently trolling takes a nosedive. Here’s a fascinating excerpt from a New Scientist article on the subject.

“Over the years many attempts have been made to solve or lessen the problem, with limited effect. Now, the march of technology may be about to change things. In the search for alternatives to passwords, Apple and other firms are turning to biometric technologies such as fingerprints to unlock the devices with which we access the web.
Soon, it may not be possible to go online without at least telling your device who you are. The end of anonymity on the web could be fast approaching, raising a host of questions about privacy, security and freedom. But could it also have a less anticipated effect: a new age of internet civility? If so, is the price worth paying?
Philisophers have long speculated about whether we succumb to our worst selves when our actions are separated from their consequences. In 1976 a study by psychologist Ed Diener demonstrated that trick-or-treaters whose faces were hidden by masks stole more sweets, given the opportunity.”

I can empathise. Back in summer 2012 we went to the Meadowlands festival. One day, for just an hour, we put on black morph suits, which cover your entire body including your face, and topped them off with massive neon orange afro wigs. Then took the festival by storm. I’m usually fairly reserved. But because the real me was completely invisible, I found myself tempted to do all sorts of things I’d never usually dream of. It was the weirdest experience, as shocking and unnerving as it was thrilling and funny. Give me a mask and I’m instinctively inclined to behave very badly indeed!
What do you think?

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