March Gladness: 5 Ideas You Can't Hate

 There's a lot of hate going around. Bryan Curtis of has been running a “tournament” to determine “the most hated college basketball player of the last 30 years” -- which, albeit amusing, nonetheless celebrates negative sentiment. Then there’s a new app called Hater that allows users to flag what annoys them, a conspicuous dig at Facebook’s relatively gleeful Like button. 

So I say enough with all this hate. In the role of happy contrarian, I offer you instead the highlights of five enlightening conversations with some positively profound people. Those folks called to my attention five timely ideas that marketers are or should be evaluating if not implementing with gusto. Think of them, if you will, as your preparation for March Gladness.

Rapid experimentation: not every shot goes in



I don’t know about you, but stories of innovation -- especially at big companies -- make me happy. This one comes from Intuit, which has built a culture of innovation around the notion of “rapid experimentation.” The idea, according to Kaaren Hanson, VP of design innovation at Intuit, is to give employees the freedom to try new things, to succeed or fail quickly by “falling in love with the problem, not the solution.” 

Sponsored content: the Cinderella story

The importance of creating and sharing high-quality content should not be a new notion for any marketer. What it is new according to Steve Rubel, chief content strategist for Edelman, is the fact that “sponsored content is poised to become a significant, possibly even a major new advertising format.” For marketers, this opens the door to a collaborative approach with media organizations shifting the emphasis from ad placement to content dissemination.

Mobile ads: turns out they’re winners

If you’ve ever pulled out your smartphone to solve a debate, you know first hand that “facts trumps opinion.” To resolve the debate about the effectiveness of mobile advertising, Professor Miklos Sarvary, faculty director, media program at Columbia Business School, conducted a three-year study finding “that mobile display ads seem to influence many stages of the decision funnel.” Sarvary also found that mobile ads work best for utilitarian and high-involvement products, but not so well for the hedonic variety.

Big data: scoring big

With big data getting big headlines it is hard sometimes to separate the hope from the hype. Professor and author David Rogers did just that in his presentation at the recent Brite 13 Conference. Rogers noted how IBM’s Watson, once famous for playing Jeopardy, is now assisting doctors around the world with cancer diagnosis. Reports Rogers: “truly successful leaders will see data not just as a tool to assist decision-making, but as a core strategic asset."

Emotional branding: winning in overtime

With so much talk of big data, it would be easy to lose touch with the irrational beings that are in fact your customers. This is not the case with San Diego-based Jack in the Box, which is on an 18-year run with its humorous Jack’s Back campaign. Reports Terri Funk Graham, their long-time CMO, “what drove the campaign to continue to last is that we tapped into the emotional branding side.”

Final Note: One paragraph can hardly due justice to each of the complex notions described here. For my  interviews with Hanson, Rubel, Sarvary, Rogers and Graham, be sure to visit The Drew Blog.


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