Recently I've been getting almost daily calls from telemarketers offering me mainly insurance or cellphone contract upgrades. Despite asking to be removed from their lists, the calls have persisted.

There are four types of prospects for telemarketers:

1. Impressionables : People who will buy the product because they were called (and wouldn't have otherwise);

2. Customers: People who would have bought the product whether they were called or not;

3. Indifferents: People who won't buy the product whether they were called or not; and

4.  Boycotters: People who will decide NOT to buy the product BECAUSE they were called.

Out of the four types, telemarketers only gain from calling Impressionables - they waste time and money on the rest.

Unless I've specifically asked a company to call me, I'm a number 4 - a Boycotter. Unsolicited telemarketing, like all spam,  is abhorrent to me.  So not only is it a waste of time calling me, but it's actually counter-productive for the companies concerned.

However, in SA the responsibility is currently on the consumer to somehow get removed from these call lists. You're supposed to go here (DMASA website - nothing there) or here to opt out.  Unfortunately, as Andrew Rens has pointed out: Opting out of Direct Marketing in South Africa Doesn't Work.

Telemarketing is a numbers game though, so it hardly matters to the call-centre agent whether one customer is peeved about them doing their job - if they contact enough people in a day, they're sure to make a couple of sales. This is why they don't seem to respond to requests to be removed from their lists - there's no incentive for them to do so.

If telesales is not to be banned, then companies who practice it need to start responding to complaints themselves, and adapt their databases, offers, incentives and calls accordingly.

While there are many rational reasons for people to choose to buy a particular product or service, it's often our emotions and personal biases that drive us.

Below is a list of some of the more commonly debated cognitive biases that can affect people's decisions (From "Decision-Making" on Wikipedia):

  • Selective search for evidence (a.k.a. Confirmation bias in psychology) (Scott Plous, 1993) - We tend to be willing to gather facts that support certain conclusions but disregard other facts that support different conclusions
  • Premature termination of search for evidence - We tend to accept the first alternative that looks like it might work.

  • Inertia - Unwillingness to change thought patterns that we have used in the past in the face of new circumstances.

  • Selective perception - We actively screen-out information that we do not think is important.

  •  Wishful thinking or optimism bias - We tend to want to see things in a positive light and this can distort our perception and thinking.

  • Choice-supportive bias - occurs when we distort our memories of chosen and rejected options to make the chosen options seem relatively more attractive.

  • Recency - We tend to place more attention on more recent information and either ignore or forget more distant information. (See semantic priming.) The opposite effect in the first set of data or other information is termed Primacy effect (Plous, 1993).

  • Repetition bias - A willingness to believe what we have been told most often and by the greatest number of different of sources.

  • Anchoring and adjustment - Decisions are unduly influenced by initial information that shapes our view of subsequent information.

  • Group think - Peer pressure to conform to the opinions held by the group.

  • Source credibility bias - We reject something if we have a bias against the person, organization, or group to which the person belongs: We are inclined to accept a statement by someone we like. (See prejudice.)

  •  Incremental decision making and escalating commitment - We look at a decision as a small step in a process and this tends to perpetuate a series of similar decisions. This can be contrasted with zero-based decision making. (See slippery slope.)

  • Role fulfillment (Self Fulfilling Prophecy) - We conform to the decision making expectations that others have of someone in our position.

  • Underestimating uncertainty and the illusion of control - We tend to underestimate future uncertainty because we tend to believe we have more control over events than we really do. We believe we have control to minimize potential problems in our decisions.

Reading these, I realise the truth in what Bertrand Russel said: “The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd”. Decisions and beliefs are hackable.

AuthorDave Duarte
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“Mobile is going to be the next big Internet phenomenon. It holds the key to greater access for everyone - with all the benefits that entails.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of GoogleIn response to demand, enquiries, and a growing trend in every organisation, Executive Education at the GSB is introducing this new course to help you get to grips with mobile marketing and to develop a mobile communication strategy.

What is Mobile Marketing?

Mobile Marketing is the use of the mobile medium as a communications  resource between a brand and an end-user. Mobile marketing is the only personal channel enabling spontaneous, direct, interactive and/or targeted communications, any time, any place. Some examples of mobile marketing are the following:
  • To brand or sponsor  common interest or social networking communities

  • For customer acquisition  and customer retention

  • For  brand and loyalty building

  • As a sales promotion tool

  • To support product launches

  • To raise brand awareness

  • For internal communications

  • As a redemption  and rewards mechanic

  • For direct marketing

  • As an effective business to business communications vehicle

  • As an additional revenue stream o For news / information services

  • To be able to offer time / location specific offers

  • As a channel for delivering ringtones and logo's

Our Objective

Our objective is to bring you up to speed on the major trends in the new mass media of Mobile such as:

  • The move towards the mobile web

  • Mobile advertising opportunities in the new mass media called mobile

  • The shift from Internet to data usage on mobile phones

  • Communicating with consumers who want to be in control

  • The role that agencies play in the new mass media

  • Building sustainable relationships with your customers

  • How to define and use the appropriate mobile elements that suit your consumers’ profile

AuthorDave Duarte
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Blank Bottle WinesI just recieved an interesting email from the owner of Blank Bottle Wines, Pieter H. Walser, describing some of the marketing/customer-engagement tactics they've used successfully lately.

1. Mystery wine. "I sold a few thousand bottles without telling anyone what’s in the bottle. There were 10 cases up for grabs for the closest answer. Two months later I revealed what was in the bottle. 125 people wrote back with comments, guessed the cultivar, vintage etc".

My comment: Good idea, this gives people who know their wine the opportunity to show off that knowledge by correctly guessing its characteristics. It also gives people something to discuss around the wine, which (at least in my case), would make me more likely to take it along to dinner parties.

2. BLANKbottle™ Premium white released without price: “Instead of setting its price, I decided to let my loyal clients decide. I sent out 20 cases of “Moment of Silence” without payment or price, leaving it up to them to pay me what they thought its worth! Pricing suggestions reached up to R70, and most were prepared to pay around R50/bottle. As BLANKbottle™ was created to over-deliver on quality; I set the final price at R40". i.e. He crowdsourced the price:)

My Comment: Good idea, following the same principle that RadioHead successfully applied with In Rainbows. However, I think the execution was a bit half-hearted by limiting it to only 20 of his loyal customers. Perhaps Pieter should have left the price people chose to pay open to suggestion for a few more weeks, as this would have created more buzz around his product.

As with his previous wines, “Moment of Silence” leaves you in the dark about the cultivar and year of vintage. To uncover the lineage of “Moment of Silence” or any of his other wines, you need to go to his website where you will find the full story behind your BLANKbottle.

Pieter is sending me a bottle to try, I must admit that the small incentive did encourage me to write this blog post. I'm such a sucker for freebies sometimes. Aren't most bloggers?

A "meme" is a way of describing information that spreads from person to person like a virus. This concept was the subject of the second lecture I gave on the EBM course that I'm teaching at UCT.

It is theorized that the information comprising these memes influences our thoughts and behaviour to the extent that they are ultimately the transmitters of culture among people. I have found that Memetic theory can be usefully applied to helping our business strategies be understood and applied. It is also useful to understand the concept of a "meme" when structuring word-of-mouth/mouse marketing campaigns.
Memes tend to cluster, into groups of memes that are called "memeplexes" (or meme-complexes). An example of a memeplex, for example, could be a company which comprises elements such as it's brand, it's business processes, its work ethic, financial structure, and even its clothing conventions.

Just as the most successful genes in any species are those which are passed on from generation to generation without mutation, so too are the most successful memes those which are passed from person to person without being fundamentally altered.

Put simply, Success, in both the case of memes and genes, relies on replication.

Even the strongest person's genetic make-up will be diluted in the process of reproduction with another person. Strong memeplexes, on the other hand, may outlive their creators. Plato's genes, for example, have been diluted for generations; but his ideas have lived on through the ages with integrity, despite being translated into many different languages.

Existential issues aside though, successful Commerce, Leadership, Management, and Power rely on the ability of our memeplexes to be replicated successfully among key stakeholders (such as your staff, or your customers). I would suggest that you are more likely to make a real difference if people adopt memes which cause them to act in a way that enable that difference.

We need to be aware of what memes we are passing on, and ensuring that we aren't passing on memes which undermine our greater purpose (be that our Life's Purpose, or simply our company's objectives).

The online space is, of course, one of the best platforms for memeplex distribution, since it allows for easy replication of memes (be they pictures, articles, songs or software). One of the challenges for businesses operating online is to ensure that they aren't too heavily invested in ensuring that their product or service isn't copied. In many cases it makes far more sense to assume that people WILL copy your work, and to esnure that you still stand to benefit in some way from that - for example by using that as an opportunity to sell value-added services.

The video I played in class was of Dan Dennet speaking at TED about Ants, terrorism, and the awesome power of memes. In it he mentions how the germs brought by European explorers wiped out native populations who hadn't developed immunity to them. He draws a parallel with how one culture's toxic memes around (such as pr0n0gr4phy or sm0k1ng), around which cultural defense mechanisms (immunity) has been developed, can destroy other cultures. And bearing in mind that there are ideas (or memes) that people are prepared to die for, that this can cause real problems and real conflict. This will be touched on in more depth in the upcoming lectures on the effects of Globalization.

The other video that I played was of Seth Godin's talk at TED where he speaks from the marketing perspective about how "ideas that spread win". He talks about "remarkable" ideas (those ideas worth remarking about to another person) as the most successful ideas in a hyper-connected economy. This alludes to the subject of Viral Marketing.

We highlighted the importance of organizational storytelling in this context. The impact of particular stories on each of our lives may be something that we will explore in tutorials.

Issues of Morality will be dealt with in subsequent weeks, but at this stage it is important to simply acknowledge that our culture, products, and actions are imbued with ideas and stories (memes). It is also important to be aware of that much of your own behavior today may have resulted from memeplexes which you have adopted as your own in the past, when your critical defenses (or immunity) was not fully developed.

Lastly, a quote worth debating or thinking about in the context of Memetics:

"Reality is the temporary result of continuous struggles between rival gangs of programmers." — Robert Anton Wilson

AuthorDave Duarte
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There's been a lot of online buzz around the Web 2.0 segment that showed on Carte Blanche last week. I haven't been able to jump in, because I've had a week of back-to-back speaking engagements (in fact, as the segment was showing, I was participating in Talking Heads with The Heavy Chefs, and Mr. Cherry). Interestingly - I mentioned to someone that I was bleak to have missed it, and they assured me that someone would post the video online before I got home - and sure enough, Tyler had the scoop that same evening!

I think I can clear up at least a small part of the debate regarding the depth of the show, who was "chosen", and whether Web2.0 was well represented or not...

In July last year, the independent producer of the segment, Barbara Folscher, attended Nomadic Marketing at the GSB with me. About 3 months later she told me about her idea for the show, and we discussed how it could be portrayed.

In February this year, after Barbara had spent a significant time back-and-forthing around the story-line, researching, and refining the content for Carte Blanche, all the filming took place in a whirlwind 3 days.

Carte Blanch segments need to be positioned around issues of importance for ordinary South Africans. i.e. it wasn't trying to summarize what the Web 2.0 industry in South Africa is all about, but rather how is affecting people's lives.

Overall, the aim for the show was to raise Web 2.0 and the Mobile web as an emergent issue for people in SA. It was meant to give people a sense that things are changing quickly, perhaps too quickly. This was meant to be a little scary for some, and exciting for others. It was not meant to be in-depth analysis of new media in SA, but a primer to spark interest in the subject among regular viewers.

Like all good television, it also needs to be entertaining. To be entertaining around a subject which also needs alot of explaining is no mean feat. So a protagonist was needed - someone to develop the story around.

The first person I thought of was Rafiq, because he is fluent and active around the both the web and mobile web. I think he was perfect in this role, he spoke intelligently, clearly and with integrity.

Saatchi Creative Head, Allan Kent, was identified for the Ad industry commentator, but he graciously deferred the role to his CEO, Gail Curtis due to her high level vision around the subject and the industry (and the fact that she happened to be in Cape Town around the time of filming).

All the people selected to be involved in the segment needed to be in Cape Town because the actually shooting needed to happen within 3 days, and the crew needed to get between Rafiq and the other interviewees quickly.

I really enjoyed being a part of it, although I must say that being interviewed by John Webb was nerve-racking! So much to say, so little time!

Finally, here's the clip for those who missed it, courtesy of

p.s. A follow-up email I just received from Barbara tells me that Carte Blanche "have had a fantastic reaction from the viewers" about the programme:)
AuthorDave Duarte
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