Monday, December 22, 2008

Shoe Thrown At Bush Sells Like Crazy

Wow, a marketing technique that got right past me: Get a reporter to throw something (how about a shoe) at an international leader (especially a very unpopular one like George Bush). Result? 300,000 orders for that type of shoe within a week of the attack. 4 times the amount of orders for the shoe since 1999.

Without the internet, it's just news. Without social media, it's a slow build. Put them together and it's an international phenom.

Hmmm. I guess Nike will need to rethink sponsoring athletes. Would it be a conflict of interest for reporters to wear logos like NASCAR drivers? Ok, maybe I've taken this a little too far... or have I?

Marketing is no longer in the marketer's control.

Remember that.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dell makes $1 million from its Tweets

$1 million sounds like a lot but in comparison to Dell's annual sales it's not very much at all. Even so, it does show that as Twitter continues to become more and more popular with the mainstream, opportunities for businesses to monetize Twitter will also grow.

So put on your brainstorming cap, sharpen your pencil and figure out how to make your own million using Twitter.

Keep on Twittering,


Monday, December 15, 2008

Build a Ballpark and Your City Will Grow

I've always been a skeptic of the saying "build it and they will come" from the movie, "Field of Dreams." But it seems I may need to rethink things in light of new research from Wharton real estate professor Albert Saiz and Gerald A. Carlino of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

They found that "American cities with consumer leisure opportunities that appealed to visitors were also able to attract additional new residents over the course of the 1990s, the decade they examined. On average, cities offering more leisure advantages -- like an attractive waterfront or museums -- gained an additional 2% in population over less attractive counterparts during this 10-year period; some "beautiful cities" like Boston and New York that didn't have the ability to add housing to meet increased demand instead saw a sharp increase in housing prices and rents."

Sounds like Richard Florida, author of the book, "The Rise of the Creative Class" just got some additional validation.

One caveat, though. The last time a civic improvement trend occurred was from the 1890's to the 1920's. The trend ended when it ran into the Great Depression. Will the trend of new ballparks and river walks end with the current recession? Maybe I won't have to rethink things after all.

In the end, cities with strong positive brands are the ones that will be best positioned for growth.

Be strong,


Friday, December 12, 2008

Brands on Twitter... ban or embrace?

First, let me say that "I Love Mashable." OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way on with the blog post.

Social media is about conversations. As the title of Robert Scoble's book, "Naked Conversations" implies, transparency is a key to the effectiveness of social media. This article from Mashable makes the argument that people have relationships with people therefore brand only twitter sites are just plain wrong.

I agree and disagree. I agree that having a human face to a brand makes a brand more real. However, I also believe you can have a relationship with a brand. See the New Coke story for example. Taste didn't matter, the relationship with what came to be known as classic Coke was so strong that Coke killed the better tasting product. Twitter brand sites need to be careful though. Cold, marketspeak on Twitter is just plain wrong. I don't say ban it, but just know you won't be successful if you don't have real conversations.

Be real,


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Branding Is About Better Decision Making

From conversations I've had recently, I've come to the conclusion that most people still believe that managing a business is very different than branding and marketing a business.

I disagree vehemently to this way of thinking. Management and Marketing are in a real way the same thing.

To manage a business you have to understand it. You have to organize it and make sure each piece is doing what it needs to do to reach goals that accomplish the company's mission.

On the other hand, to discover a company's brand you have to find the intersection of what prospects, customers, management, employees, alliances, vendors and all the other audiences want from or value in the company.

So if you first take the time to discover your brand, you'll be able to more clearly make decisions regarding how to organize your business correctly, which people to hire, what processes to put in place, which technology to purchase, what vendors to work with, etc., etc... and you'll also be a more efficient and effective marketer because you'll be focused on communicating what you do best that the customer values most.

To build a better business that can meet the current economic challenges start with your brand.

Stay Focused,


How Sam Zell Killed The Tribune Co.

Article from Forbes on how Sam Zell saved and then killed the Tribune Co.

It goes to show that knowing how to run one type of business doesn't always translate to being able to run all types of businesses. Zell treated the Tribune Co. like his real estate development business and loaded on debt. We all know the result that was announced yesterday - bankruptcy.

The lesson - know your business and be smart with your money. Zell thought he could buy the Tribune leveraged to the hilt, then sell the Cubs and pay down his debt. It may have worked, but he he couldn't sell it in time. Are you listening GM, Ford and Chrysler?

Be Wise,


Monday, December 08, 2008

Does Brainstorming Help Innovation Occur?

Interesting article that concludes that individual "aha" moments come from group efforts. The article also finds that brainstorming is a waste, but more "systematic inventive thinking" produces more innovations.

Even so, I still like the brainstorming process when it's focused. One of my favorite quotes is "don't let the facts get in the way of a great idea." Don't get me wrong. I'm a research guy, but there are times when "gut" wins out. For me, this is one of those gut things.

Be an innovator,


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cisco wants to be a Leadership Consulting Firm?

Read this article in Fast Company today.

Cisco's business model is fascinating. From what I can tell they have created these groups and councils that will have the authority to make decisions about new products, services, businesses, etc. without having to get approval from the c-suite. It has worked so far, especially in speed to market with new products. They also have expanded their definition of who they are (which in the long run may or may not be a good thing) to more consulting oriented offerings that connect more to their business model than to their technology offerings. Can the firm known for offering the plumbing supplies of the internet add leadership/management consulting to the mix successfully? I'm not so sure. IBM did a pretty good job at this but in the end they transitioned to become more consultant than technology producer. Time will tell. Having $26 billion to play with doesn't hurt their chances... or does it?



Monday, December 01, 2008

Lay-a-way for a New Generation

Saw this from DirectDispatch that Lay-a-ways are back in vogue now that credit is crunched.

I think lay-a-ways fit both today's economy and today's dominant generation. If hype is out and genuineness and authenticity are in, Lay-a-ways making a comeback just makes sense. It's a way to get what you want in a more "real" way than sliding plastic. But from a branding perspective, a lot of negative brand equity has to be cleared away to make lay-a-ways cool. Do you think the current economic pressures people are feeling are enough to overcome the stigma? I'm not so sure.

Be real,


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Start Where You Are

"Don't let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."
- Richard L. Evans

If you are not a world beater right now, today, don't worry about it.

Take the time to assess yourself and your organization. Answer the following questions:
- What's going well, what isn't, why?
- What would things look like if they were exactly the way you want?
- What needs to change to make it that way?
- Who are the key people to making those changes?
- Are the key roles filled with the right people?
- What needs to happen first, second, third...?
- How can we chart our progress?

Now, just do it!

In other words,

1. Start where you are,
2. Know where you want to go,
3. Get a map (develop a plan) that shows how to get there and
4. Take the first step from where you are to where you want to go.

Be Wise,


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Train to Nowheresville

Still on my quote kick. Here are some of my thoughts on this one:
"You've got to think about 'big things' while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction."
--Alvin Toffler, renowned futurist and author of "Future Shock" and "The Third Wave"

Ever get caught up in what appears to be the mundane, every day "stuff"? You feel like a "damsel in distress," tied to the railroad tracks just moments from being run over by the express train to "Nowheresville." You feel like you just can't ever seem to get past the urgent to get to the important. This quote explains why. If you don't take the time to think about how the small things you do are taking you to or away from accomplishing the big things (your vision, purpose, mission, goals) then each day you are leaving it to chance that you are moving in the right direction.

So how do you stay focused on the big picture when there are so many fires to put out on a daily (hourly) basis? There really is only one way to do it -- set aside time to think about the big picture and how it relates to your daily activities. It's that simple and that hard. If you find you just can't discipline yourself to do it then I suggest you find a business coach that can help. Many of my clients have said that they just needed someone outside of their company to hold them accountable as well as to bounce big picture ideas off of. Of course, all the big picture planning sessions in the world come to nothing without connecting it to what needs to be done on a daily basis.

Be Wise,


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rene Descartes and Learning for the Future

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."
- Rene Descartes (1596-1650), "Discours de la Methode"

Ok, I promise this is the last time I'll use this quote... today. But I hope you agree that it's had a lot to say. This time I want to focus on what I believe is the real power of this statement.

Where most people see problems as...problems, Descartes sees problems as opportunities to learn in order to solve future problems. Taking a future perspective when solving every day problems allows you to create value that doesn't exist when you're just "putting out fires."

It's actually very difficult (a problem in itself) to create value without having problems to solve. So the next time you're confronted with an irate client, a prospect who just keeps putting you off or a supplier who forgot to deliver your order, just smile knowing you've been given a great opportunity to improve your organization and yourself.

Be Wise,


Rene Descartes and Learning that Sticks

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."
- Rene Descartes (1596-1650), "Discours de la Methode"

In my last post I mentioned that I should do several posts from this quote. Here's part II. In the last one I focused on building a "learning organization." This time I want to focus on "individual learning."

Many organizations focus on episodic training sessions to teach people the skills they need to do their job. Some go further and provide seminars to increase an employee’s enthusiasm and motivation. But again, it's done in an episodic somewhat disconnected manner.

Studies have shown that a person will retain, at most, about 10% to 20% of the content of a two hour training session or seminar. Add a consulting piece and that number increases to 30% to 35%. But add a coaching and/or a mentoring program and that number can go as high as 80%!!!

So make sure that you look at the big picture first, and then connect the pieces. Your organization's leaders and managers should make sure that team members understand the context of any training and that the training fits the context (that is the strategy and culture) of your organization. Then coach and mentor your people to use that training to solve the real problems they face and move the organization closer to it's Vision (it's preferred future state).

Be Wise,


Rene Descartes knew the key to building a Learning Organization

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems."
- Rene Descartes (1596-1650), "Discours de la Methode"

This short quote has so much meat that I may need two or three posts to give all my thoughts on it.

But let's start with what I think is essential for any organization -- to (as Peter Senge of MIT would say) become a "learning organization." In most organizations learning is done on an individual basis, either through continuing education or by on-the-job experiences. However, a huge opportunity is missed when what an individual, or a team, learns is not shared with others in similar roles.

In order to share learning, opportunities to "download" this knowledge must be created. Most think first of technology like databases and contact management software. These can be very useful, but the place to start is by identifying the situations where learning is taking place and then finding ways to compile this learning (debriefings, group meetings, questionnaires, maybe even something as simple as creating a list of people with expertise in certain areas for others in the organization to go to with their questions).

In the end, the more efficient an organization is at sharing knowledge the stronger it will be.

Be Wise,


Monday, November 24, 2008

Identity and Corporate Strategy

Interesting research from HBS via Booz's Strategy + Business.

This somewhat validates what I do for a living. I help corporate leaders use their brand to make decisions about all facets of their organizations... including technology. In other words your identity (your brand) is the source of energy from which everything else flows in your organization. It doesn't mean you stay static, it means you stay true to your purpose while always looking for ways to better fulfill that purpose.

Sometimes I really like reading research.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Crisis + Creativity = Opportunity?

Interesting article from Wharton about folks who are making it happen in spite of everything. Proving that innovation, creativity and common sense can still succeed. Got the itch to start something? There shouldn't be much competition for a while.

Go for it!


Television vs. Multimedia i-Mac

Are we nearing the end of the stand alone TV? Do I hear the crash of technologies merging?Mama Shelter, a Parisian hotel has rid itself of the one trick pony television and replaced it with multimedia i-macs. Hint to all my friends, I want one for Christmas.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Social graphs one up traditional segmentation studies

Excerpt: "It may well be that direct communication between people is a better indicator of deep similarity than any demographic or geographic attributes," wrote the authors, then-NYU grad student Shawndra Hill (now a professor at Wharton), NYU professor Foster Provost and Chris Volinsky, a researcher at AT&T Labs.

Read the rest of the article:

Go social media! Yeah value creation!


Transparency and Trust

Excellent article in Fast Company magazine on building trust through transparency.

In a related thought, have you ever read David Maister's book, The Trusted Advisor? In it he shares what he calls the Trust Equation. I've made a slight adjustment but the equation is basically that Trust equals Credibility plus Reliability plus Emotional Connection divided by the level of Self-Orientation.

In the past the focus has been on Credibility and Reliability but today's emphasis on Transparency shifts the focus to Emotional Connection and more importantly level of Self-Orientation, which indirectly affects Emotional Connection. As humans, we will always have some level of self-orientation but when we listen to our customer and act in an honest and open way, the customer will often give us a break for having a little self-interest.

Read the article and then fill in your trust equation in regard to a specific customer, friend, or family member.

Would being a little more transparent create a lot more trust in that relationship?

Be trustworthy,


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Markers of the Next Generation

Below is an excerpt from today's Monday Morning Memo from Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads, that should be the guiding principles for all communications over the next 30-40 years:

"Ten years ago when Locke, Searls and Weinberger published the 95 theses of their prescient Cluetrain Manifesto, they listed thesis number 4 as: 'Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.' Then, in thesis 22 we read, 'Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.'

There they are; the markers of the next generation: 'Uncontrived, straight talk, a genuine point of view.' Another way of saying this is 'unfiltered blurting of your truest feelings.' "

Use this to build rock solid relationships that will lead to success and prosperity.

Be real,


Friday, November 14, 2008

How to get advertisers for your blog

My new hero, Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV (passionate champion of doing what you love), had this little gem of advice on his website:

As usual I really need to take this advice (no ads on my blog...yet). Do you?


Life is about...

This quote is a paragraph in a letter from a friend who decided it was his duty to go to Iraq to help both Americans and Iraqis. He is a very rare type of person who sees beyond the obvious.

“Our culture says life is about 'power (control), position (titles), wealth (false security) and fame (false sense of self-worth)' but in truth, life is about 'character (courage, transparency, etc.), relationship (to love & trust), vision (to do good) and leadership (influence)'. These truths resonate with most folks quickly because 'power, position, wealth & fame' squeeze us all out. They are competitive. 'Character, relationship, vision and leadership' are not competitive. We can spend our whole life growing in these areas. Inwardly we all admire and desire these priorities.”
-- James C. Anderson, MD (written while stationed in Anbar province, Iraq)

So what is your life about? I'm asking myself the same question.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Designing offices for the four work modes can boost productivity by more than 20 per cent

When I read this article in the Financial Times, I found it interesting that Gensler, the international architecture and interior design firm, has identified 4 work modes that more or less correlate with the 4 basic personality types. Hmmm. I like it - that is, I like the concept, not necessarily the way Edelman PR has implemented it in their London offices. I'm not much into "lights decorated with small paper drawings of Japanese erotica." That goes more to values than personality, I guess.

If education were this flexible in its approach would we see a 20% boost in learning?! In most of education, business and in life things end up being about understanding yourself, understanding others and then adapting to communicate in the way the other person (or organization) can best understand. This doesn't mean you shouldn't want to have a consistent brand. It just means you need to tailor how you communicate your brand's one thing to your different audience segments. From the personality side, one of my favorite books in this area is The Platinum Rule by Tony Alessandra. He says that it's not the Golden Rule that says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" that builds productive relationships but the Platinum Rule that states, "Do unto others as they would have done unto them." Another book from more of the brand side of the equation is The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore who look at the 4 realms of Experience. Adapting-to-connect works in relationships and in the type of environment you provide in the workplace as well.

What should change at your office?


Friday, November 07, 2008

The next 5000 days of the Web: One Machine - We are the ONE

A talk by Kevin Kelly, a futurist of the highest degree, recently caught my attention. He talks of what the next 5000 days of the web will bring. My view of the implications, if Mr. Kelly is correct, are both exciting and disturbing. From one perspective, the world and every person in it will be like a part of a huge parallel computer. Progress... positive change would be instantaneous continuously. However, without a clear set of global values, the opposite could also be true. The concept of marketing would truly be holistic. Everyone would be forced to live their brand because there would be no where to hide the "truth" about you, your organization, your product/service. Complete transparency. So what I preach to my clients today about defining their one thing and let everything they do internally and externally flow from that may not be a bad idea.

Take a look, think about it and let me know what you're thinking. You might as well, I'll know everything about you in 5000 days.

My head hurts thinking about it. I'm getting some Tylenol.

Stay focused,


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Inbound Marketing Summit with Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott

Mark Campanale with Triumverate Environmental (check out his blog ) recently attended the Inbound Marketing Summit. While there he posted some comments about how great it was. I trust Mark so I went to the Inbound Marketing Summit website and watched several videos of the various presentations. Wow, this is good stuff. There is so much to get out of these presentations. Business owners, marketing professionals... everybody needs to understand what Albert Einstein put so well, "We can't solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Watch and learn.
(Seth Godin) or

(David Meerman Scott) or

So, did you learn anything?


In Light of Yesterday's Elections a Couple of Quotes from James Madison

Congratulations to last nights election winners. A little advice from James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution.

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."
James Madison

"Every nation whose affairs betray a want of wisdom and stability may calculate on every loss which can be sustained from the more systematic policy of its wiser neighbors."
James Madison

Your friend in Freedom,


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Marketing - It's Personal

Jim Stengel, formerly head of Marketing at P&G, has started his own firm focused on what I'm calling "purpose-driven" marketing. It's all about the relationship with the customer/client/consumer.Take a look at his speech at the 4A's conference:
Here's his blurb launching his new venture:"Jim Stengel, outgoing global marketing chief at Procter & Gamble, is setting up Jim Stengel LLC, which is promoting a new way of selling based on the concept of "purpose." For example, the company's Pampers brand has been focused on the purpose of developing healthy, happy babies, not just keeping bottoms dry, he explained."

Stay on purpose,

Monday, November 03, 2008

FAO is no longer the ghost of Christmas Past

Have you heard? FAO Schwarz, the toy store left for dead after filing chapter 11 and closing all of its stores 5 years ago, is back. Why? It's all about the BRAND!

Check out this interview with David Niggli, president and chief merchandising officer to learn how to revive any great brand on life support. Go back to the core of what made your brand great to begin with.

Stay Focused,


Did you know? What are the implications?

Saw this video from today's Wizard of Ads' Monday Morning Memo. Would love to hear your thoughts on the implications of some of these things. Very thought provoking facts... things like China will soon be #1 in number of English speaking people and by 2049 a $1000 computer will have the computational power of all the people in the world combined.

Think about it.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Using Design to Crack Society’s Problems

I recently read an extremely intriguing article in Fast Company magazine about the power of "design thinking." A company in the UK called "Participle" is addressing social issues using a design approach... and it seems to be working. Awesome. The key is not that you have to be a designer, but if you learn to think like a designer it gives you a new perspective on how to address the challenges you may face in business, in society... in life.