A CROCODILE FOR BILLY?

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In his speech to the Financial Services Forum dinner in December Nigel Gilbert the outgoing Chief Marketing Officer of LloydsTSB talked about the role of marketing and the consumer in banking. He also talked about an initiative that LloydsTSB ran last year called “A Crocodile for Billy”. This is a book / ebook about saving and spending for parents to use with young kids.

His themes about the role of marketing and brands in financial services echo my own thoughts around the rights and responsibilities of marketing departments. I outlined some of these in my Battle of the Big Thinking presentation: Escaping The Matrix. Undoubtedly there is a massive need for more human understanding in business with its overfocus with quantitative analysis and comfort with people who are technically gifted but less comfortable with vision and working in our very human and emotional world.

When operating well marketing should be the “heart of an organisation” – and I mean that not to indicate its position but to capture its unique added value. Businesses and brands, the great ones anyway, are full of heart, vision, ambition and human understanding. They are often driven by a passionate leader who captures the heads and hearts of employees and customers alike. Marketing and the brands they develop have the ability to inspire and energise even when a charismatic founder or CEO isn’t available.

And there is something here that is at the core of why our big banks are not great businesses or brands. They have little heart, vision, ambition or human understanding. They can’t understand why people are appalled at billions sitting in bonus pools after the past two years of bailouts. They don’t have a vision for the role that banks and financial institutions need to play in our society. A senior executive at LloydsTSB recently said to me that their vision was “to become the UKs most recommended bank”. If that is the extent of their collective vision for a business that has been given near monopoly share levels and billions in state money (your money, my money) then my vote would be to break it up – they don’t deserve to exist with that little ambition or understanding of their responsibilities in society.

And Crocodile of Billy is a neat example of the practical impact of this lack of vision and “head beneath the parapet” attitude that most of our banks are operating in currently. Its cute, I like it, I’d like to get a copy (although I can’t see how? You can’t buy it anywhere?), and I’d like to read it to Luca and Daniel. There is no doubt that we need desperately need more financial education in our society. But Crocodile for Billy is a tiny, albeit positive, effort in this regard. Why doesn’t the financial services industry realise that they have a massive responsibility and the resources to fill this gap? They could work together, invest the hundreds of millions needed and ensure that every child gets the information they need to make informed decisions in their financial choices.

That would be a vision. That would be added value. That could be transformative to our view of financial services brands. Until they realise that we demand more as their customers and as members of our society, especially in the light of the last two years, financial brands will remain in the gutter, actively distrusted and disliked.

Get involved in the debate – comment below. Do you work for LloydsTSB or another UK bank – are you brave enough to share your view?

Happy New Year! I hope 2010 brings you all that you need.

Justin

Email me: justin@basini.com
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THE NEW LANDSCAPE OF BRANDS

A quick post to share a presentation that I put together for the UK Marketing team for Carlsberg. An old friend of mine (Ian Hannaford @ihannaford) is now a Marketing Manager at Carlsberg and he kindly extended an invitation to talk through some thoughts on brands and marketing with the team.

It was great to meet the team and I really enjoyed the session. Some really interesting ideas surfaced which provoked lots of discussion. I learnt alot about Carlsberg including the fact that it is run as a trust contributing to Danish projects and the top board is scientists and artists. How differentiated is that?

I was impressed that the team was open to hearing ideas and thoughts from other marketers and categories – I wish all teams were as open. Thanks also go to the Director of Brands Paul Davies for allowing me a slot at his meeting.

Do you want me come to your team meeting and provoke some thinking and discussion? Email me – I might just take you up on the offer!

As ever – if you have any thoughts, disagreements, energy and passion to share about brands and marketing then please comment below or drop me an email.

Update on Battle of the Big Thinking (for those that have been following my frustrations on Twitter) – I finally have a stable draft of the presentation. If you are attending see you there and if you aren’t you will be able to take part because I’m going to extend an invitation for you to join the debate!

Hope you are having a great day!

Justin

Email me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
Read my blog: http://www.blog.basini.com/
Follow me: www.twitter.com/justinbasini

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The different role of social networks Facebook v. Twitter

You can now listen to this blog as a slidecast going through the model and data. Click play below. Or you can just read the text below.

There’s been a lot written recently on some of the changes which Facebook have introduced to try and stave off the threat from Twitter. We all know that Facebook tried to buy Twitter in November last year and were rejected – so we know that Facebook is interested in micro-blogging and are pushing their status updates functionality.

This prompted me to think a little more deeply about the differences between Twitter and Facebook in terms of type of network built and communications employed. This leads me to believe that Twitter and Facebook (in their current forms) occupy different spaces and can co-exist quite happily.

The following diagram illustrates some of the differences between the major social networks in my mind based on the intimacy, time, numbers and purpose of relationships in a person’s life.

At the core of of our relationship map are deep, loving relationships with close family. Then comes our relationships with wider family and friends. After this are community relationships and relationships with our colleagues. Then we get into the areas where social networks have really had a major impact: previous or infrequent friends and contacts and even people we will never meet in the real world.

Facebook is perfectly positioned to fill the needs of interest and connectedness with a wider circle of friends we used to know or don’t see frequently. Of course it still has relevance for closer relationships but the new thing it adds is an unrivalled ability to stay in touch with a wider group of people that you have probably known in the real world. It’s optimised for this purpose through features such as approval of friends, having “on platform” media rich options (photos, videos etc), allowing detailed status updates.

Twitter is different to Facebook because it extends the social networking phenomenon into a new territory of those that you probably don’t know or haven’t known in the real world and is optimised for fast communications. It fulfils the need of curiosity on a broader scale – following famous people, or thought leaders, or organisations is interesting and engaging. In Twitter you can follow anyone and anyone can follow you – no need for approvals. Because of this there is no real responsibility to your network of followers – as I have put it before Twitter is take it or leave it communication. Of course many of us (including me, @justinbasini!) try to share interesting updates but there is no expectation which there is more of in Facebook.

LinkedIn is a good example of a vertically focused social network focused on business contacts. It bridges between work relationships past and present, together with people you want to build relationships with in the real world for business or career success.

I think the usage numbers bear out the fact that Facebook and Twitter are used to serve different needs:

Time spent per user on Facebook is much longer than Twitter but Twitter has many more visits per month. This fits with a usage pattern that is less involved and more frequent. I also think the average number of connections is interesting. On average Facebook users have 130 friends. Social theory holds that groups of 100 to 150 are the most relationships that one individual can meaningfully hold. I suspect that this will grow as we get more comfortable with technology based contact but I don’t think this average will ever be 1000s.

Now clearly at the moment the number of Twitter followers on average is low at around 20. But what I think is interesting is that if you take the top 10% of Twitter users (who we could call the early adopters and might be indicative of future usage) their number of followers on average is 483 and it is increasing fast. I think the average number of followers on Twitter could well be 1000s in the future. This definitely means it will be a different sort of network to that which one has on Facebook and potentially very exciting since you could use it to get an insight into many more different people around the world.

As always PLEASE feel free to comment with your views and share with others who you think might find this blog interesting. Oh and please follow me on Twitter (@justinbasini).

Yours

Justin

justin@basini.com
http://www.basini.com/
justinbasini.blogspot.com
www.twitter.com/justinbasini

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This blog has just been listed on Alltop

Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

I am proud to say that this blog has just been selected for listing on Alltop. If you don’t know about Alltop it is a very cool blog/content aggregation tool which you can use to set up your “own magazine”. I use it alot to go through lots of blogs quickly on the subjects that interest me such as branding, marketing, banking, starting up a business and leadership. You can also do fun stuff like share your selections with friends – you can see my Alltop page here.

You can find my blog under Marketing (click or search for marketing on Alltop front page) and I am the last blog (right at the bottom) – well you have to start somewhere!

Hope you continue to enjoy my blogs and using Alltop.

Thanks to the team at Alltop for reviewing my blog and selecting it for listing.

Next challenge is to get Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) to retweet one of my blogs!

Yours

Justin

justin@basini.com
http://www.basini.com/
justinbasini.blogspot.com
www.twitter.com/justinbasini

Did you know you can sign up for updates from Justin Basini? Click here.

5 Reasons why Twitter is the next evolution in the democratisation of communication

As many of my friends and family will attest I am a dedicated supporter and active user of Twitter. If I needed any more excuses to use my Blackberry, Twitter has given them to me. Lots has been written about the Twitter phenomenon but I wanted to share why I think Twitter has a really good chance to be a communication channel of long-standing and power.

1. Twitter is the first “feed” of interesting Internet information and opinion that can be accessed with no technical expertise at all. Since using Twitter I am now learning and consuming much more insight from the web. Blogs, articles, comments, stats have all opened up to me since using Twitter. Following a Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) or a Mashable (@mashable) (even if you follow no one else) is a brilliant source of some of the best the web can offer. Add in a Jonty Fisher (@jontyfisher) or a Dan Schawbel (@danschawbel) and you are building a pretty powerful set of insight about marketing and branding (my field). I don’t think I am a Luddite but I could never really get RSS feeds and such like to really work – Twitter users aggregate, edit, filter and share better than any technology.

2. Twitter is entirely non-hierarchical and democratic. Everyone is open to everyone (you can limit updates to only those that you select but not many people do this). I’ve had tweets replied to from Lily Allen (@lilyroseallen) and even got a reply from the great Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki). To give you an example last week I was watching BBC Breakfast News watching a really good segment by Ray Snoddy (@raymondsnoddy) on media and advertising. I idly (and somewhat cheekily) tweeted that Ray looked like he was wearing a wig. Within a few hours the tweet had reached him and I had a good humoured reply from the great man. This form of communication is powerful – I don’t need to search for his email address – or write him a letter – I am in touch with him because of the network in which we particpate. This democratisation of communication can be a powerful way to open up those in power whatever field they are in.

3. Twitter can give you insight into the lives of others. For example I follow my local MP and now the Minister for Transport Sadiq Khan (@sadiqkhan). Sadiq is a great example of a politician that is using Twitter to inform the man on the street (i.e. me) about what he is doing and the things he thinks are important. Throughout all this furore over MPs expenses and trust I’ve been really heartened to see Sadiq tweeting about what he thinks and sharing what he is doing. He works really hard (and seemingly all the time at this event or another) and I’m glad that I know this – it builds my trust in him.

4. Twitter can give many moments of pleasure connecting with real world friends across the world. When I first heard of Twitter I thought that knowing that Jon was eating a sandwich in Montreal would be an irrelevance and a waste of time. But actually now that I use Twitter one of the most powerful emotional benefits is knowing that my friend Tobias (@implant_direct) is enjoying a party in Zurich or Tom Farrand (@tomfarrand) has just had a great time kite surfing on the South Coast. These are vicarious moments of joy through Twitter that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

5. Twitter is take it or leave it communication. Lastly one of best things about Twitter, different from almost all other modes of communication, is that Twitter can be picked up or put down at will. A tweet, a direct message or a reply doesn’t need to be responded to instantaneously but it can be. That’s one of the best things about the channel – its so flexible. If you don’t want to tweet for a few days no one is going to accuse you of ignoring their voicemail, email or letter.

Twitter adds a lot to my life and I think it is a powerful new form of communication that has a lot of potential. So if you are a confirmed member of the Twit-sphere good for you; and if you are thinking of taking the plunge go for it.

As always please feel free to comment, share, RT, agree or disagree. Also follow me on twitter!

All the best,

Justin

www.basini.com
justinbasini.blogspot.com
www.twitter.com/justinbasini

How far will the internet change our world?

Whilst thinking about marketing and trends in search I came across a couple of videos that really interested me and made me stop.

The question is often asked how fast does the world change and especially for some of the more “out there” prognostications (such as virtual experiences and worlds, the rise of robots, “Minority report” style advertising etc) – when will these things become reality? I often think that it is easy Tomorrow’s World style to shoot fast and loose on future predictions i.e. a 1970s TW promising we would all be driving around in flying cars by 2000.

I found a video on YouTube which is really worth watching. It outlines a view of the future that is very challenging and thought provoking. I have often thought that virtual worlds will become at least as powerful especially for the young as real world experiences and potentially much safer at least from a physical perspective, if not emotional/mental.

The imagining of how the consolidation of power in Google and Amazon is challenging. My only critiscism of this video is its somewhat US centricity (despite the strange “world” accent of the narrator). The rise of Indian and Chinese content providers and networks will undoubtedly move our worldview from an anglo-saxon one over the next 20 years. And that is probably no bad thing.

Anyway have a watch:

Now if you have spent 5 mins watching this video then you have reached the end 1 minute where the more “out there” claims are made. Are these claims TW style over the top or realistic. Well watch the following video:

And reflect that this was 16 years ago in 1993. All the change of email, internet, mobile, facebook, amazon, google, twitter, cloud computing etc all in an incredibly short time period.

Now think about the first video and 16 years away from now is 2025 – maybe the claims aren’t such fantasy? How does that you make you feel?

Makes me feel a mix of hopeful, excited and terrified!

Comments welcome as always!

Justin
www.basini.com

www.twitter.com/justinbasini
justinbasini.blogspot.com