Sean McGinnis turned me on to this post on what’s missing with metrics – the lack of solid targets that make the metrics useful. It talks about how so much time goes into designing the metrics and pulling the data but very little in setting the targets themselves. Bob Champagne presents a framework for target setting: making them real, relevant and robust. Relevant comes up a lot in marketing and content these days. Seems obvious but I think we sometimes lose sight of what relevant is. Perhaps this subject isn’t particularly sexy, but it’s part of the foundation of a good marketing program. Otherwise how can you effectively measure performance? The old ways of guessing are long gone.

Speaking of metrics, the online data collection industry is several billion dollars and it’s probably no secret to you that your every move online is being tracked, parsed and traded. Multiple cookies and tracking software designed to understand what motivates you and what matters in order to serve up a more ‘relevant’ experience make it hard to remain anonymous. If you’ve not read about just how much company’s know about you then read this post on data mining. Once you get past the fact there privacy is not possible in the digital age (short of going back to a pure analog lifestyle), this provides a good primer on the methods and how your data is used.

College is big business and fiercely competitive. But colleges need to innovate to remain relevant in the face of all the educational tools freely awaiting those with an internet connection. And how can they capture the hearts and minds of students who are increasing going in debt for an education that provides little guarantees of a job other than a slight advantage over someone with just a high school education? Textbooks are often obsolete by the time they hit the first classroom. I found this take on how the principles Starbucks uses to create their stores and customer experience can be applied to reimagining the college campus. Particularly customizing the experience just as you order your latte. This article centers around redesigning the learning environment at Miami-Dade College but is something college administrators should pay attention to.

It used to be that private label brands were the ugly step-child of the dominant brands, trading only on price with little value in their image. But as companies have recognized how profitable a private label brand can be, they become more and more sophisticated borrowing many of the tactics from the big brands. All is not lost, however, on the big brands as you’ll discover in this article. The recession has attracted many to the private brands to save money, but those brands that have earned the trust and loyalty attract people back. Darwin would like this – it’s survival of the fittest in the brand world. And do I need to say relevant again? Yes, part of brand fitness is remaining relevant.

I just started reading Olivier Blanchard’s Social Media ROI and four chapters in already feel it’s a must read for anyone working in marketing today, and will post a review once I’m done. He knows how to get right into the meat of what’s not working and what to do about it. So that’s why I also think this is worth your time today – his thoughts on how journalism is suffering as media outlets focus more on content strategy than solid editorial. Especially as budgets are slashed as they struggle to reimagine their business models. To illustrate the problem, he dissects a recent CBS news article on radiation sickness and I think you’ll quickly see what’s been lost in the process. While he provides several examples, this line summed it up for me:

“Even if it doesn’t prove fatal,” it “often proves deadly.”

There’s definitely the opportunity to rediscover good journalism and master the art of providing valuable content to your readers. Which CBS certainly failed to do. Ouch. Read this as a really good example of how not to execute your content strategy.

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