focus on offering goods and services people actually want and need

“In today’s increasingly saturated product marketplace, surface appeal is not enough to elevate me-too products or services above the pack, or to yield sustained success. The harder trick is to use design to get beneath that superficial marketing level and to delve down to core business issues such as: What do people really need? And how can we best provide that?

That business should be focused on offering goods and services people actually want and need may seem obvious. Why would companies do otherwise? The reason is that they often are focused more on their own existing capabilities and objectives than on the needs of others.“

– Warren Berger, GLIMMER: How Design Can Transform Your Life, and Maybe Even The World, pg 100

Ford Fiesta Movement Mission 4 film from Team Houston

From the description on youtube:

zenfilm “”  June 09, 2010  “”  The Ford Fiesta Movement Mission 4 film from Team Houston “Pause” presents an unusual twist on romance with sci-fi/fantasy overtones. Pause was filmed in one day by the Zenfilm creative team and features the sights and sounds of America’s 4th largest city set to the music of Houston artists Southern Backtones and Tyagaraja. To vote for this film in the competition simply text “Zenfilm” to 44144 . There will be no spam… we promise. Thanks for your support.

Mom2Summit Feb 19-21 2009 in Houston Texas

So all of this time I have actually liked Gwen Bell. And THEN I find out her panel is at the exact same time as my panel at the Mom2Summit in Houston Texas! Check the Saturday morning agenda. Oh ya, Gwen’s treachery is all there in black and white. Same bat time, competing bat channel at 9:30 AM. So now I must swear a blood oath to be Gwen’s mortal enemy!!!

mom2summit-2009Moving right along, the Mom2Summit isn’t just for moms. It is a conversation between women and marketers. From the site:

The Mom 2.0 Summit is a place for marketers, bloggers, and mompreneurs to get to know one another. A place to connect, converse, and build relationships. This year’s Summit discussions will focus on social media, marketing, networks, and brand building. We will explore what those relationships mean and how we all contribute to social media.

I am very excited about moderating the panel with

  1. Kirsten Chase (Motherhood Uncensored, Cool Mom Picks)
  2. Jordan Ferney (Oh Happy Day)
  3. Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess, Good Mom, Bad Mom)

Initially I declined to be on the panel because it was recommended by Katie, who is a little crazy, Maggie who is a little cheesy, and it has Jenny on the panel, who is a LOT crazy. Throw in Laura and Monica as two of the organizers and well it could get dangerous for a guy. But I’m brave. Plus I have a score to settle with a certain blogger competing for my time slot….

I hope to see y’all next week at the Mom 2 Summit!

UPDATE: Had an awesome pre conference call with Kirsten, Jordan and Jenny with the help of Katie. Really think this panel is going to have a lot of value for our attendees. So go register!

UPDATE UPDATE: Um…. I completely think @gwenbell rocks!

Personal brands, being human, can not truly be consistent.

Reading Gwen’s post Leave it at the Alter about personal brands got me thinking.

hans-haacke-blue-sailPerhaps our online personal brands are really pseudonyms for the Umbrella Corporation? A protective wrapper than includes a “a highly-trained security force capable of rescue, reconnaissance, and para-military operations“ division. And one sub-corp that makes band aids for the kids when they skin a knee so we also get some good PR for our radical transparency.

So for the sake of argument, let’s assume that personal brand are the umbrella. Yet humans, like Tara, are very diverse creatures. We cycle through roles as Goffman‘s Symbolic interactionists. From wikipedia:

…people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation.

A fancy way of saying we act differently in different situations when we play different roles. As a speaker I am outgoing. As a person, not so much, testing as an introvert.

The fundamental flaw with personal brands and radical transparency is brand consumers can’t handle this dissonance. Yet a human will always be a messy puddle of emotions and role playing and bluffing and reality.

Specifically brands are strengthened as they move towards one (1) thing in the mind of the consumer. Positioning is about the internal brand singularity. From Ries:

The Law of Singularity: The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. What is a brand? A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect. It’s as simple or as difficult as that.

THE leading energy drink. THE best violin. THE fastest sports car.   Get it?

So real brands CAN be consistent. Coke-a-Cola is “the real thing”. Personal brands, being human, can NOT truly be consistent. Unless we hold back and show only our personal-brand-act in all public channels.

Steve Martin has an act, but that isn’t him. The fact that he inherited a personal brand of his name simply means he must live a double life, or triple life, of cover ups. Or risk not being true to the personal brand “Steve Martin” which surely isn’t him. (when did he stop doing stand up?)

So yes we have a personal brand. But they will never be as strong as a real brand.

And on that note, personal brands are horribly unfair. Think about it. People with no marketing training are compelled to come up with a brand name for all social software channels. But unlike companies that can trademark a brand; they typically don’t. And companies can buy their domain name. But how can an individual reserve their personal brand on every new social web site? So even IF an individual comes up with a great personal brand, they have no formal method of protecting it. Completely an unfair challenge to the individual. Yet there it is.

Great post on personal branding Gwen! Clearly you got me thinking. Thanks!

The image? Hans Haacke’s Blue Sail. It is every changing and completely dependent upon the fan as part of the installation. Just as our personal brands are completely dependent on how others perceive them. Whether in person or through social media. Our brands are singular and exist in the mind of the consumer, correct or not, if we wish or not, they just are. Sitting in a spot in their brain. And that is a tad bit unfair…

Dallas AMA Presentation on Web Marketing and SEO

Dallas In Dallas TX for a presentation for the Dallas Chapter of the American Marketing Association.  As a member of the AMA it is always an honor to present to the AMA!

AMA Web Marketing Made Simple ““ Maximizing Your Online ROI
Ed Schipul, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company

Fri 10-Feb-06 7:30 AM to Fri 10-Feb-06 9:30 AM

On the flip side, the main AMA site has unfortunately implemented an interstitial (read cheesy landing page type page)

Why would the AMA have a splash landing page on the primary URL?  This is proven to reduce the conversion rate.  The wonders never cease.  Hopefully they will get back to marketing fundamentals and measure the response rates.

Update: AMA Dallas has multiple sites – this is the "real" version: which has real content!

New but related marketing topic.  Whenever I travel, which is more frequently than I would like, I try to catch up on business podcasts.  For Immediate Release (On Podcast #110!) is a required podcast for me as well as The Advertising Show (TAS is a client as well, but I listened first – great stuff!)

Global Teen Culture Trends – Wired, Worldview, Global, Branded

You can blame my high school calculus teacher for making me read MegaTrends.  Via Chief Marketer:

Abercrombie_lifestyle_marketingSix Seismic Shifts in Global Teen Culture
By Chip Walker

1) Being wired: from an elite to a mainstream phenomenon
2) Worldview: from optimism to a great uneasiness
3) Success: from entitlement to self-activism
4) The new vanguard of cool: from “USA teens“ to “creatives“
5) Global brand leaders: from American brands to world brands
6) Brands: from brand status symbols to brand apathy

The image is of course from the great Abercrombie because we all want to be skinny half naked people.  Or something like that…

Also note that the Intelligence Group just released their latest Cassandra Report on youth trends.

Blue Ocean Strategy: Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Responding to Cirque du Soleil

Brands are tricky things.   And Blue Ocean Strategy is about not going head to head with your competitors but rather about finding a blue ocean that creates NEW demand.   New territory.   It would be like dragging Edward Bernays along on the Lewis & Clark expedition and watching the fireworks fly.

Blueoceanstrategy My first point is the book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne is a great book for those of us navigating the branding oceans with a new and different product.   It IS tempting to go with the “me to” concept particularly when you consider search engine marketing and keyword counts which by definition ONLY highlight existing market categories.   So if it takes another brand manager X amount of self control to position his product in a new category, I truly believe it takes someone familiar with SEO X + 9999999 to achieve the same position, education and facts not withstanding.

Strategycanvasofcirquedusoleil In the book Blue Ocean Strategy they cover numerous relevant business examples (it is a Harvard Press book after all).   One of the examples that may be difficult to apply to our business (don’t worry – they cover other awesome examples that ARE easy to relate) is the case of Cirque de Soleil.   Blue Ocean Strategy advocates creating strategy maps as seen at right.

The idea is to determine what you can eliminate, raise, reduce or create.   So circuses fight over star performers (did you even realize there was such a thing as a star clown?   I find that laughable. (too easy, sorry….)).   So Cirque de Soleil eliminated star performers.   Animals are expensive to care for, travel poorly, require trainers and Peta is stripping in protest anyway – so why not ELIMINATE the animals (high cost / low return = capitalism??)

Finally we see a response from PT Barnum.   DeathdefyingbrandconversionOK, not that “See the Egress” crap again, rather a “secret” new show eliminating the three rings and introducing a theme. But I’ll bet buckets of chicken (sorry Pam) to doughnuts (sorry HFPD) that they are not eliminating animals or celebrity performers.   So they have higher choreographical costs, perhaps more creativity, but no significant cost reduction in performers or animals care.   Will they at least return to performing in tents?

All kidding aside (image of goat here), the point of blue sky strategy the four actions framework:

  1. Reduce – which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
  2. Eliminate – which factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminiated?
  3. Raise – which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
  4. Create – which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?

I am glad to see Barnum and Bailey thinking.   I think they need to explore their strategy a bit more and not rush to create a win/lose battle with cirque, rather they need to find some blue ocean.

Generation X was … asked how to operate the remote/TV/Apple IIc/whatever

Generations I had lunch.  Not exactly Earth shattering, I know.  I had lunch and got in a conversation with the waiter who was 26, married, with dog, family in town for the holidays.  Difficulty dealing with Dad visiting wanting to be "a friend" but also a father.

The conversation progressed into generational differencesGeneration X and generation Y are the first generation where knowledge went backwards.  This is not my concept, it comes from the book Generations.  The concept is that kids growing up in the 50s got information from their parents.  Knowledge went from older to younger.  Trends might differ, but the overall knowledge was held by the elders and passed to the youngers.  With X, again from the book, for the FIRST time knowledge went backwards between generations.

Generation X was called from their rooms, into the living room, asked how to operate the remote/TV/Apple IIc/whatever.  We answered the questions. We were dismissed.  "Thanks" and "Please go away now."  This of course creates a transactional attitude on the part of the younger.  "You call me in to answer questions, so what is in it for me?" or "I answered your question, so can I borrow the car?".  You have to admit this is reasonable.  But I am an Xer so you might not agree, but I assure you, it IS reasonable.

Yet, reasonable or not, a Gen X, who has been conditioned, meets a brand that is all about themselves and you have a train wreck (DISCLOSURE: I hate Capital One).  The brand is talking to them like a "Boomer", talking down, and that doesn’t play.  At all.  Not transactional never mind conversational.

Too much of a topic for a single post, but Boomers, Xers, Millenials must all be communicated with on THEIR terms.  Step 1 is to acknowledge the difference.

U2 as a multimillion-dollar, multinational media company

Great write up on U2 and their marketing operation in the NYT today.  Somehow U2 manages to be a corporation, advertise with Apple which is completely proprietary, and yet have a glow of being open, honest, young and progressive.  That is a challenging brand position to reside in, and hats are off to their management and to the band/brand itself.

Quote from the NYT article on U2.

U2cd"We always said it would be pathetic to be good at the music and bad at the business," said Paul McGuinness, the band’s manager since the beginning. And while U2 hasn’t become a Harvard Business School case study (at least not yet) it offers an object lesson in how media can connect with their customers.

Speaking on advertising on the web I frequently get questions like "that is not what Nike does" and I have to keep reminding folks that YOU ARE NOT NIKE!  So while I am in awe of U2 and what they have accomplished in music, in business, and in philanthropy, I would caution new artists to remind themselves YOU ARE NOT U2.  New bands have to be a new brand and build on the latest in advertising evolution.