Laggard wants national upgrade day

So I finally made the switch to WordPress.  It has taken me a while.  Years in fact.  I can now see what all the fuss was about.  And there I was thinking I was an early adopter type…

It’s funny how you can get used to using a certain piece of technology and can in fact think that it is great, despite people telling you there’s a better toy on the market.  Indeed I have several friends with older Blackberry’s who think they are the perfect device.  I rest my case.  Of course what this shouldn’t mean is that we all switch to the latest greatest piece of technology all the time.  If we did we’d be forever having to get new phones, laptops, TVs, servers and software.  Life would be one constant upgrade.  But perhaps there should be one day each year that is designated ‘upgrade day’ when we can all switch from that clunky old Blackberry to a sleek new iPhone that has 5 minutes of battery life.  Perhaps when Obama has finished with the health system he can focus his attention on this oh so important problem.  OK maybe not.  Have a good weekend.


Enfatico is Italian for emphatic or pompous. Just over 18 months ago WPP won the contract to build a global marketing agency from scratch to service Dell and named it Enfatico. The firm was meant to bring all of Dell’s marketing, advertising and PR under one roof, cutting costs and eliminating the problems others have had when trying to offer an integrated service. It was a bold, ambitious plan. At the time WPP said Enfatico would use the model to win other clients in time. Well, at this stage Dell is the only major client Enfatico ever had (they did have one other client: Progress Software) and Enfatico itself has been rolled into Y&R. So does that mean the experiment failed? Officially Dell will deny any failure but it clearly hasn’t been a roaring success. If it had, then Dell would be one of many clients for the agency and Enfatico would be growing like a weed.

So why has Enfatico not been an emphatic success and instead been something of a pompous failure? From the start the agency had a significant problem that was meant to be its main asset – namely that it had only one client. Hiring top talent to work on just one account was always gong to be a challenge. It’s also not a great business model. After all, does a client truly want to buy 100% of the time of all the people in the firm?

The other great problem for Enfatico is that it didn’t appear to have total buy in from the client side. Rumors constantly circulated that different departments liked their old agency partners and wanted to go back to the way things were before. This makes it really tough to keep a client. Agencies and clients have to be a team, this is especially true with larger clients where there are so many moving parts.

Does all this mean the days of a single global agency are over? I very much doubt it. I think it simply means the Enfatico model didn’t work. That said, I’m sure WPP will try the model again.

Twitter’s growth isn’t being fuelled by teens

According to today’s New York Times Twitter‘s success isn’t being driven by teenagers. In fact it’s being driven by almost every other demographic. This seems surprising at one level but not at others. Teens spend more time text messaging than on sites like Twitter. Indeed teens account for only 9% of Facebook’s users according to today’s article. This shows that Twitter and Facebook are being driven by people with an income, rather than people who have an allowance. Which in turn suggests that the value of these social media properties that has been so wildly elevated, is probably justified.

The rampant success of sites like Facebook and Twitter makes me believe there may be another generation of social media sites about to truly explode. Twitter appears to be doing well in part because it enables communities to form around a person’s comments even though many of those people involved don’t know each other. Facebook is quite the reverse, deliberately so. I therefor love that places like Ning and Grouply are tapping into the intersection of these sites. Grouply, for example turns old style Yahoo! or Google Groups into vertical social networks. In other words they allow you to build a version of Facebook just for the 2000 people who love a certain obscure hobby. The cool thing is that unlike Facebook, you don’t have to know these people to join the group. In that way they are bit like Twitter where you can follow a stranger’s Tweets. I’m sure that at some point a site like Grouply will get bought by someone like Facebook or Twitter so they can open up this market to their millions of users and in the process offer advertisers another way to reach an interest group. From a PR perspective, a place like Grouply is fascinating as it also gives you a way to find some very influential communities AND to learn what their conversations are.

The end is nigh… so what s next?

So, economists seem to believe the worst of the recession is now oer in the US and that we may even see some economic growth in Q4. As we pull out of this I started to wonder what scars this recession would leave and whether it has really changed the way we do business. My observations:

1. Businesses have all learned how to cut costs. Some of have done so intelligently, others… not so much. I believe there will be a generation of businesses, post recession that struggle because they made the wrong cuts. There will be others that now realize they were wasting a fortune before the recession and will forever be leaner businesses.

2. Businesses have learned new ways of generating income. While my study is hardly scientific I believe hotels, like airlines, have started charging for more and more things AND they have raised the prices on things that were already extras. I just stayed at a hotel that wanted to charge $5 for the Snickers bar in the minibar. I suspect that price will remain long after the recession has ended.

3. Businesses have learned about the power of customer service. Actually I should say SOME businesses have leaned about the power of customer service. The ones that have will at worst survive this recession and the ones that haven’t are dying right now. Customer service is better than any new product or service. It is loyalty, feedback and free marketing. Why some businesses fear it is a mystery to me.

4. Businesses have learned who their best people are. Hiring people is relatively easy compared to letting people go. Letting good people go is especially hard. Strangely though, I’ve heard so many business leaders talk about how their business is better now that they are smaller. Hopefully, what we all learn from this is that at the heart of our businesses are some great people whose views, opinions and ambitions we need to listen to. But we mustn’t stop doing that when the recession ends.

These four lessons are the ones I’ve taken away from this recession. I’m sure other businesses will learn different ones. I’m also sure there were several lessons I missed. If you think I did miss one, please let me know. Right now is the best time to learn!