Warlords of Draenor Cinematic and interactive marketing

Before we get to some thoughts, give this a watch:

Admittedly, as a hardcore World of Warcraft nerd, this made me happy. For those who are not fans, I won’t bore you with the interesting plot twists from that universe (or multi-verse, technically).

What I do suggest you think about is this: that cinematic (as with many of Blizzard’s cinema tics over the years) was just as compelling and well-produced as any motion picture studio trailer.

As marketers, we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on broadcast media, on one-way “conversations”. This is partly because many marketers grew up in a non-interactive environment, and partly because one-way media is easier to manage and much easier to scale.

The landscape has changed, however, and will continue to change under our feet if we don’t adapt. World of Warcraft is a decade-old example of mass interactive media as over 100 million people have played it, including some of the biggest name celebrities in the world.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Games like Ingress are bringing players into the real world, visiting locations around them as our smartphones become our portals to the game world while we navigate the physical world.

Something to think about: if you were going to go all-in on a massive media buy, you might want to look at having a game built for you. As long as you hired the right developers and designers to create a game people actually wanted to play, your media buy might become a franchise of its own.

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At a very high level


There are over 400 messages in my LinkedIn inbox that are unread. A good quarter of them are solicitations for feedback about someone’s project, someone’s book, someone’s this or that. (I will eventually get to those messages, just not soon) Almost all of those solicitations ask for feedback “at a very high level”.

That’s such an interesting ask, such an interesting request. What exactly does “at a very high level” mean to you? To me, it means something stripped of all of its tactics and execution details, all of its campaign strategy, and left only with a little bit of grand strategy and overall perception.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you had a web page that you were working on. What kinds of feedback might you receive?

Lowest Level of Feedback

I’d move the red button 14 pixels down and change the phone number to be (XXX) XXX-XXXX format. That should help conversion by a couple of percentage points.

Low Level of Feedback

The red button needs to be moved, and the format of the phone number standardized. Conversion should increase by about 2%.

Moderate Level of Feedback

The page layout needs to be improved. Clean things up and standardize them and conversion should increase a little.

High Level of Feedback

The website isn’t working as well as it could be. It’s messy. Clean it up and conversion should increase.

Very High Level of Feedback

The website probably isn’t going to do what you intend it to do.

As you work your way up from tactics to strategy to grand strategy, details get lost, little details that can point you in the right direction. The most valuable marketer on your team is going to be the marketer who can operate at a very high level (so as to be efficient and focus on the most dire problems), but when everyone else is stuck and there’s a burning problem, that marketer can jump from very high level to very low level. Such a marketer can then find the problem, fix it, and resume their high level work.

That’s what I hope you aspire to be as a marketer, and one of the reasons why, even at senior levels and in strategic roles, you still need to polish and perfect your marketing skills (particularly in the areas of creativity and technology). You should have an operational understanding of what’s going on so that you can lend fast, insightful assistance at every level of your organization.

What do you think? What’s your take?

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How much does brand name matter to SEO and marketing?

These guys will be fighting an uphill branding battle

I was asked recently, “how much does name matter when it comes to setting up a new company? Is it more important to have a distinguishable brand, or more important to be found in generic search?”

This is an excellent and more complex question then you might first think. Being known for something is important; when you’re tackling a space which is very crowded with generics and commodities, having a distinguishable brand matters a great deal. Ideally, the brand is something that is not already in heavy use in the space. Ideally, the brand is also easy to spell and passes the Siri/Google now text where you read out the brand name and domain name to a computer and see if it gets the website address correct. An easy to pronounce, easy to spell brand name is an easy to share brand name.

Naming a company after a generic category would mean that you might capture some portion of generic search about it, but you’re better off creating product pages that are appropriately tagged and structured for a generic search while working to make a distinguishable and distinct brand.

Let’s say you own a coffee shop. You might attempt to create a coffee shop named Boston Coffee Company, on the assumption that people searching for coffee at Boston would find it. However, since Google has given more prominence to existing brands there is a good chance that you would lose what little search ranking you’d get to companies like the Boston Bean Company.

Rather than challenge at a company brand level, you might be better off creating a distinct brand-name for your coffee shop, but have individual coffees that are reflective of the geography and the market you intend to take. You could have, for example, the Jamaica Plain coffee, the Roxbury espresso, is the Newton cappuccino, the Dorchester doppio. This will accomplish your goal of geographically named/obviously named products and services for the purposes of search, while still retaining a sense of individual identity.

A real-life example of this? Look at the brand name of the bread in the photo above. Are you likely to forget it? It’s also easy to find in search, and the domain name is easy to find and share via word of mouth.

Remember also that one of the key drivers of search is inbound links. One of the key drivers of inbound links is public relations work, building word of mouth and endorsement through third parties and media outlets. A clever, fun, easy to pronounce brand name that’s unique will likely be better remembered and linked in stories about you.

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