Shake Up YOUR Audience – With Earthquake Marketing!

Yes, that’s a pretty cheesy headline for a blog post. But, there’s a real point to be made about the reaction of yesterday’s earthquake on the East Coast. Read on…

By all measures, yesterday’s earthquake was a whole lotta nothing – a few bricks loose, some cracks in buildings, overturned lawn chairs. Really, a non-event, especially for folks in more earthquake-prone areas, like the West Coast of the United States. A yawner.

Nonetheless, it lit up social media and the news. Why?

Because is was a whole lotta something different for its audience!

I’ve spend most of my life in the eastern US (along with 7 years in Tennessee). Before yesterday, I had felt a total of two very minor earthquakes – pretty local events. And when yesterday’s event occurred, I wasn’t even certain what was happening – I just thought I was momentarily dizzy. Until I went onto Facebook and saw “Was that an earthquake??” popping up all over half the country.

Much to the amusement of other parts of the country and world, we felt a need to share our experience. Because it was something new to most of us.

The earthquake got viral news attention, not because it was all that great a quake, but because it “knew” its audience – “these people haven’t had a good shaking for a long time! Watch this!” A big thunderstorm would not have gotten near the attention. That’s old news here. Moving ground? That’s worth talking about!

I was evaluating a small company’s website this week. It said a whole lot of nothing. I found myself thinking, “all you have to do is swap out the company name, and this site is interchangeable with who knows how many other companies.” Nothing different = forgettable. A list of bullet points is a passing shower, not an earthquake. Nobody’s talking about you.

As a marketer, think about your audience before you make a decision about trying to create impact. What is old for you might be brand new for them – or vice-versa. Is your approach something different? That, in itself, can help break through the clutter.

Now, back to straightening up the lawn chairs…

(Image credit: jmckinley – love this post!)

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (personal or company Brand Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> The Unglamorous Need for…Semantics!

>> When Your Branding Zings

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Crop Circles

Everyone wants impressive, attention-getting ads – something to rivet eyeballs and cut through the clutter of sensory overload.

Just be careful there’s more to it than just making a striking impression of some sort.

Crop circles get people’s attention. But when they come across them, here’s what they’re left with:

crops- What IS this?

- Why is it here?

- Who is responsible?

- Crops? What crops?

If people are asking those questions at the end of even a “great” ad, then you’ve just plowed under a lot of money. Creativity isn’t necessarily the same as effectiveness. Because you’re there to provide crops, not run rings around your audience…

(Image credit)

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Truckvertising

Almost exactly a year ago, I asked the question on this blog why trucks aren’t used more for advertising. All that empty space, those rolling billboards capturing countless eyeballs…seems like a no-brainer.

truckbboardsmYesterday, while enjoying dinner with my extended family in a bayside restaurant, I saw one way a company is doing this – NJMobileMedia.com has this truck driving around with (scrolling) billboards on both sides and the back. I’m not convinced that the truck carried anything but the ads, but they clearly got people’s attention, if only for the novelty factor.

Since this is not an Al Gore-approved blog, I won’t bring up any issues about the carbon footprint of mobile advertising (Al’s Gulfstream flights and palatial mansion have a much larger carbon footprint than this truck, I imagine), but I do think that certain platforms – like trucks – are quite underutilized. What other “vehicles” can you think of where advertising could be carried that would be both engaging and non-intrusive?

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Why Your Message Lives or Dies

You’ve got a great message. Maybe you’re marketing a needed service. Maybe you’re instructing a set of students. Maybe you’re preaching a sermon. But there’s a problem, and you can see it – the message is not making it all the way to long-term memory, and it is not leading to the desired behavior change.

Why? Why is it that what you’re saying is being filtered out by some of the recipients, and only a percentage is actually “getting” it? Why does your message live, or die, in the mind of the audience?

I’m going to outline a Theory of Message Reception for consideration and discussion. I owe the seeds and a good bit of the structure of this theory to Elliott Masie (@emasie), a training professional who founded and runs the Masie Center learning think tank in Saratoga Springs, NY. I attended a Social Learning Lab there recently, and while the discussion of social technologies applied to learning/training was interesting, what really got my mind buzzing was a theory of learning Elliott propounded using computer terms. He talked about information that learners process, using personal buffers to filter out/in what would be allowed into (write-protected) storage.

Elliott identified 3 buffers – Value-testing (short-term relevance); Truth-testing (correspondence with reality); and Indexing (does it correspond with, and fit somewhere into, my mental index of information). Something that passes through these filtering mechanisms may get written on our “hard drive.” Because of the overload of (often irrelevant) information, we all need some sort of filters to sift through and find what matters.

This general concept intrigued me, and I wondered if the basic notion might bear the weight of some extensions, and broader applications (beyond learning, into the general notion of message reception). Having mulled it over for several weeks, here’s a preliminary Theory of Message Reception. First, the terribly-executed diagram (I’m not David Armano, after all…), then the explanation.

filters

Your (marketing, instructional, motivational) message is delivered. Before it is “accepted” by the recipient as valid and worthy of remembrance and action, it needs to first pass through four filters:

  1. Source - is the person/medium delivering this message authoritative and believable?
  2. Relevance - does this matter to me, now? (Masie’s value-test)
  3. Reality - does this message seem to be in accord with what I believe to be accurate and real? (Masie’s truth-test)
  4. Core Convictions – does this message line up with my first principles – my (capital T) Truth beliefs?

Anywhere along the way, messages will be tossed out or passed along depending on alignment with these filters. Once a message is accepted, it needs to find a way to be indexed in the mind according to prior categories of knowledge/experience, and if action is called for, then behavior change may be possible.

Why is social networking effective? Because we find peer-to-peer communication more authoritative than, say, 30-second advertisements on TV, which we’ve learned to distrust and filter out. A personal recommendation more easily passes through our Source filter.

A perfectly accurate message about life insurance may bounce off the mind and heart of a 16-year old. It doesn’t pass the Relevance filter. However, a 25-year old new parent who just had a car accident may have the same message (even from a less-than-reliable source) pass right through into action because now it all lines up with relevant, existential reality!

bumblebeeSomeone might explain to you, scientifically, with all sorts of charts and graphs and formulas, that bumblebees can’t fly. But it won’t get through the Reality filter, because…well, you’ve seen them fly!

Therefore, if you are a marketer, or teacher, or preacher, or parent, your goal is going to be to get your message indexed into memory and translated into action as efficiently as possible (sounds rather six-sigma’ish – sorry). If you want your message to pass readily through the Source filter, then it needs to delivered by someone with (real or perceived) authority. Celebrity endorsements apparently work for many marketers and dupes consumers this way (the tactic does have the opposite effect for many of us, by the way). The best source, however, is going to be the recommendation of a current participant, such as we find with friends, neighbors, and trusted social media connections. Hypocrites, shysters, and unknowns may actually have a valid message, but often the message will be jettisoned because the source isn’t truly authoritative.

The Relevance filter will also be a barrier if we haven’t truly studied and come to know our audience. If a congregation has recently suffered a traumatic loss, then preaching a very true message (in line with core convictions, even!) about the historical significance of Ezekiel’s visions just may not be well-received as valuable and helpful for the immediate circumstances. And don’t get me started about the fire-hose training method used on, say, new pharmaceutical sales reps, whose heads are stuffed with an extraordinary amount of background information that generally has little day-to-day relevance. Maybe it’s true, maybe it has a certain level of importance – but short-term relevance dooms much instruction to the dustbin once the test is taken.

The Reality filter is best addressed by creative use of analogies in communicating. When trying to get new information across, by appealing to well-established facts and previously-embraced “pictures” in the mind and heart of the recipient, the way is paved for more rapid uptake. If you’re trying to sell me a fast car, don’t try to go into the physics of mass and velocity. “Remember the rush you felt when you got your first real bike, and you raced downhill at speeds you never knew before…” OK, now I see it and feel it. A great recent example of this is the Heineken “walk-in fridge” commercial.

However, we must be aware that a lot of the “rubber meets the road” filtering happens at the level of Core Convictions. There is observable reality (bumblebees fly), but there are also deeply-held perspectives that shape our worldview and determine what we will or will not “hear” and act on. If my core conviction is that paying 100K for a car is utter vanity and waste (true, by the way), then your message about why I should buy one is going to be tossed out by that filter. If, on the other hand, your conviction is that a 100K car is absolutely necessary for status projection, then every argument for economy will fall on deaf ears.

Getting into much deeper water, on various sides of the man-caused climate change/global warming debate are people with very different core (first-principle) beliefs about Man, God, the Earth, and Fate. Messages will often be filtered or received, not due to inherent and provable validity, but due to pre-existing prejudices (core convictions). And why are some people-groups committed to destroying others, ignoring all reality, reason, relevance, and moral persuasion? Because of a core conviction that “we’re better than they are” and “they are unworthy to live due to past offenses/race/religious differences and we need to eliminate them.” Some core convictions, obviously, are at war with peaceful and productive civilization.

We shouldn’t think that some core convictions cannot or should not be changed. A teacher, or parent, or pastor, or friend who can reach down into the heart and soul of someone paralyzed by a deep-seated persuasion that they are worthless and that all attempts at progress are fruitless, and begin to re-shape that filter into a more healthy state – that is one of the greatest tasks anyone can undertake. Our filters need regular maintenance and recalibration, and we should always be willing to adjust and refine and change over time. But we should always be aware that the core convictions, even if held unconsciously, will still hold tremendous sway over reception of any messages.

If we’re in the business of delivering messages, our craft is not to try to “fake out” the filters, but to authentically and effectively reach the index and the will to act with truth that resonates. If you’re a marketer, what does that mean for your approach? If a corporate trainer, how should this shape your curriculum and instructional design (and delivery)? For instance, how can spend the first few moments getting a handshake from the Source and Relevance filters, instead of immediately setting up barriers to entry?

All right, that’s a mindful. I’m not concerned here with what you think of Heineken or global warming, but let’s enjoy a robust discussion in the comments about the validity (or not) of the general principles, and how they apply to marketing, social media, learning, and life. Poke, prod, improve – chime in!

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(image credit: bumblebee)

“Social Media”, Business, and Matchmaking

This is a “part 2″ post, growing out of the principles outlined here in part 1, where we enjoyed a lively discussion about how, in business, social media (or Community Networking/Networked Communications) is part of the larger category of Communications, along with a lot of other traditionally silo’ed disciplines such as PR, Marketing, and Advertising. We also discussed how the usage of two-way communication networks in business will lead to a more relational, rather than transactional, approach to gaining and keeping customers.

Now let’s turn to another fundamental perspective. This one has a lot of tentacles so we’ll try to outline a general principle here, and then we can carry on in the Comments. I believe that healthy business<–>customer relationships will increasingly be marked by a matchmaking approach. That is, we can steadily shift from a view of the potential customer world as a mass of demographics, and the potential supplier world as a bunch of faceless commodity providers. The first questions in a provider’s mind should no longer be, “How can I get MORE customers?” “How can I reach MORE of my target audience?” “How can I get my numbers up?” We should shift to, “How can we use networked communications to find the right people for whom we are the right fit (and vice-versa)?”

Let’s take a simple analogy, from the social media world. You can use Twitter as a “follower accumulation engine”, and in a few month’s time have thousands of subscribers, but how many of those are really a “match” for your interests, perspectives, business direction, resource needs, etc.? In social media, as in life and business, you’ll find that a relatively small number of folks are a “fit”, and when you spend time cultivating them, they will help you find others who fit.  Some business owners pursue anything or anyone that will be a revenue producer, but I’ve learned over the years that “not all business is good business.”

Customers, too, are overwhelmed by choices, and gladly latch onto for providers of goods and services that are a good “match” – companies that make them feel like they’re getting consistent value, and that make life simpler by taking one more decision off the table. And now, with great social networking tools, many of these winning companies can have a “face” and carry on a dialogue with potential and existing customers, which strengthens the sense of relationship. If I have found a great “match” for, say, an on-line bookkeeping service, then I don’t have to think about who to use next time – and, I very readily pass on my recommendations through my network, especially if I feel like I’ve come to know the supplier more personally.

Of course, all of this has been going on before the era of web-enabled social networking – but the importance is much greater now, and the capacity to weave matchmaking into the equation (from both sides) is wonderfully expanded. There are one-time buyers, there are occasional customers, and there are matches. Businesses should be aggressively using networked communications to identify and invest in the latter, rather than constantly trolling for any new revenue that can be found. The customer network thus built will, in the long term, generate far more new and repeat business. It will even give you the luxury of “firing” unprofitable and troublesome customers (b-to-b or b-to-c).

What do you think? How do you weave a matchmaking perspective (and practices) into your business model?

Matchmaking is not merely employing a set of business tactics and tools. It’s a mindset. It can also be the foundation for an entire business model, which will be the subject of my final post (part 3) in this series, on Marketing Profs DailyFix.

“Social Media” and Business, part 1

Earlier this week, I enjoyed a robust Twitter conversation with a few folks (thanks, @lizscherer, @kellyferrara, @lindabeth!) on how “social media” fits into the pre-existing business silos that we all know and love (Marketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service, etc.)

Instead of putting out 140-character fragments of thought, it might be more valuable to sketch out some big-picture ideas about how this all, perhaps, fits together, and continue the discussion in the comments.

First, I’ll freely admit that I don’t much care for the term “Social Media.” I think it’s limiting. I tend to prefer either Community Networking (more on the inter-personal level), or Networked Communications (more on the business level). Take your pick; we’re talking about person-to-person or organization<–>person communications and connections mediated through on-line tools.

Let’s think about business. I think a lot of these legacy silos are not particularly helpful, so let’s imagine for a moment that they are swept off the table and everything is encompassed under one umbrella term: Communications. PR, Marketing, Social Media, etc. – it’s all about communicating to the world at large (people unaware of the company; prospective customers; imminent buyers; existing users; other stakeholders). These communications take various forms, including direct advertising, word of mouth (on- or off-line), press, or what have you, but it’s all communications, and it should all be strategically tied together.

For a business, then, let’s take this practice of communication and view it through the prism of the main goal: increased uptake of offerings and therefore, increased revenue. Business growth. From the perspective of the business, and using rather sterile terms, there are three main stages of this: Customer Awareness, Customer Acquisition, and Customer Retention.

What is the process – the pattern – that occurs to reach this goal of business growth, and how does the discipline of Communications fit? Here’s a suggested way to view it:

Awareness Communications – strategies and tactics that elevate some level of understanding of the company’s existence, offerings, and value. An analogy: this is walking into a party with an attractive, attention-getting outfit.

Qualification Communications – think pre-sales marketing here. Expressing, at some level, what the nature and benefits of the offering are. But this need not be one-way anymore – through networked communications, businesses can much more readily understand the needs and desires of potential customers. Ongoing analogy: chatting up at the party and gauging if there is interest in more than just a polite chat.

Commitment Communications – assuming that the potential customer is seeing genuine value, now the parties discuss how they might get together to meet mutual goals. This is a deeper dive into needs and offerings, and gaining a comfortable feel for overall compatibility. Ongoing analogy: entering into a committed dating relationship.

Satisfaction Communications – the company realizes that its best hope of gaining new customers is by keeping current customers not only pacified, but satisfied to the point of being advocates. Time and two-way communications are invested to build the relationship and improve the offerings. Ongoing analogy: the diligent care and feeding of a marriage relationship.

This is the typical linear process of how business is obtained and grown, and if we range our Communications options and methods along these lines, we can see how a strategic approach to the various legacy disciplines (PR, Marketing, Advertising, etc.) can now be achieved. Each stage of the continuum requires different types/mixes of communication, with differing levels of two-way exchange. “Social Media” plays a role throughout, not as a separate discipline, but as an integral part of two-way communication that should mark an entire process.

When you look at this continuum, ask yourself: does your business have a consistent message that is woven throughout the entire communications landscape? It should.

Oh, and for an interesting twist, swap out the word “Customer” for “Employee”. Sorta makes sense on the recruitment/retention side of things, doesn’t it?

Kind of a mind dump here and lots of loose ends. What do you think? Speak your mind in the comments!

:: So far, we’re attempting to define the landscape of business communications – but in a follow-up post, I want to take something implied here and make it more explicit. Successful business will increasingly be marked, not by a transactional view (I am using communications to persuade you to buy my product so I can make money and you can, maybe, gain a benefit), but by a more holistic relational view. That is, customers and companies will increasingly seek out ways to determine if they are right for each other, something networked communications truly helps enable. My consulting business is built on a “matchmaking” network model and I’ll share a few thoughts on why I think there is tremendous value in this approach…

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Church Advertising FAIL

placeforyou-smSaw this advertising effort on the street this morning and did a double take.

It’s odd enough for a church to promote itself on a trash can. But to toss out the throwaway tagline: There’s a place for you? Perhaps they could have added: Drop-ins welcome!

Consider that a waste of the advertising budget. Or maybe I’m just not being very creative. What tagline might you put on, say, a Dumpster? (add your suggestions in the Comments!)

Five in the Morning – Finale

swbeard1Yes, it’s true. Today, after nearly 100 Five in the Morning posts (including guest posts by other bloggers), I’m bringing the series to a close.

Why? Well, mainly it’s a matter of time – there are some other priorities that now require more of my attention. Creating Five in the Morning posts, as fun and fulfilling as it is, can be quite time-consuming. Plus, there is that existential sense that “it’s time” – major goals have been met of exposing people to a variety of great bloggers and resources, and other creative ideas are striving for attention.

Of course, the StickyFigure blog will continue on, as it did before Five in the Morning, so you can expect my usual brilliant insights and world-changing ideas right here – just not daily, perhaps.

A big part of the fun of Five in the Morning has been the interaction with you, the audience, and the participation of other bloggers who have guest-hosted. We’ve enjoyed guest entries from Cam Beck, Mike Sansone, CB Whittemore, Olivier Blanchard, Tom Clifford, Connie Reece, Chris Wilson, Lisa Hoffmann, Arun Rajagopal, Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, Becky Carroll, Matt J McDonald, Ken Burbary, Beth Harte, Karen Swim, and Doug Meacham.

And while we’ve pointed to plenty of posts from “name-brand” bloggers like Seth Godin, Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, Chris Brogan, John Jantsch, Jeremiah Owyang, Doug Karr, David Armano, Liz Strauss, Charlene Li, Ann Handley, Valeria Maltoni, Shannon Paul, and other luminaries, I hope you’ve subscribed to some of the very smart, but lesser-known lights after seeing their posts featured.

If there is to be a “legacy” to this little series, my hope is that some of you with particular areas of expertise (PR, Design, Writing, Branding, Non-profits, etc.) would become consolidators as well, pulling together great posts (maybe on a weekly basis) for your audiences. Yes, it’s work, but it’s a wonderful way to meet new people, and, done rightly, it can drive more traffic to your blog over time. I will happily link to others who pick up the torch and become info-scouts for the rest of us.

OK, so for your Friday, here’s a Fabulous Final Five. OK, Six. I never was great at math.

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Kiss the next hour good-bye. 2009 ReBrand Winners. Sweet bunch of links showing before/after. Seriously – your day of planned productivity is over. You are GND.

Using Twitter to land a job. Who doesn’t like a success story like this? With a nice passing mention of @prSarahEvans.

How do you keep customers happy? Jay Ehret, @themarketingguy, says to focus on the experience. And at the Brains on Fire blog, here is a fabulous example, with the spotlight on a local Whole Foods store.

[this space reserved for a designated non-mention of Skittles]

How much Money is $1 Trillion? The Anatomy of a Sticky Illustration. Nicely done. Hat tip: Cam Beck.

Give First. Amen. From Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixes of Separation blog.

PLUS: Tabasco advertising. No words needed. Hat Tip: Brand Flakes for Breakfast blog.

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Thanks for tuning in for these 5 months of fun and experimentation. Oh….and I really don’t get up at 5 am most mornings. It’s really 5 (posts) delivered (early) in the morning. But while sipping my first cup of coffee between 5:30-6:00 am, I still get a chuckle out of all of you  thinking I actually get up early…!

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Five in the Morning 030409

From WSJ: Social Networking goes Professional. How focused professional communities are using social networking tools to better their work.

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (yep, not a misprint) gives us 32 Ways to Cut Costs in Business. And while you’re at it, this post from TPE on How to do Everything is also pretty good!

Matt Dickman - the Techno//Marketer – gives us the scoop on Radian6 with one of his patented thorough semi-geekish reviews. If you’re not reading Matt’s blog regularly, what are you thinking?

Shaping your blog’s brand. Good stuff from Darren Rowse over at Problogger.

Jon Swanson reviews two books on success. Which one was more life-changing?

PLUS: Tom Peters recommends a new book from Steve Farber, called Greater than Yourself. As I recall, Drew McLellan speaks highly of Farber, so with those 2 witnesses, it must be good!

AND: This was just too funny not to include. Really. Just click. Thanks, Jaffe!

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Five in the Morning 030309

5glowShould brands think like start-ups? “Aim…fire…adjust…aim…fire…adjust…” What do you think? From David Knox, via @prblog (Kevin Dugan).

Measuring on-line influence. After you get through all the verbiage, I think a lot of it boils down to…the very last sentence. Micah Baldwin on Mashable.

From the Duct Tape Marketing blog, a podcast interview with Amber Naslund on Monitoring and Measuring Social Media. I’ll FINALLY get to meet Amber IRL at SXSW!

Rachel Happe on her Job Search 2.0. How her network is coming into play as she searches for her next position. Increasingly, what Rachel is talking about will be the new way we all find work…

So, how did Skittles do with their Twitter-fed attention campaign? WSJ has the scoop. Pretty impressive.

PLUS – Jon Stewart shakes his fist at Twitter. Pretty funny.

AND – where I’ll be this spring, if our paths can intersect at various conferences/events.

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Five in the Morning 022409

Seth Godin, on the milestone of his 3,000th blog posts, considers himself the “luckiest guy” – and, lets everyone know that the first 2,500 are the hardest! If you like what he does, send him a note of congratulations (seth at squidoo dot com).

Marketing Basics: Conversation. An excellent summary and set of links from that folliclly-challenged Texas marketer, Jay Ehret.

Top Documentary films – an interesting on-line resource for your viewing pleasure. Hat tip: Director Tom Clifford.

Your Pitch Sucks? An interesting service provided by Jim Kukral and a team of PR pros. I like this business model – using on-line tools to rapidly offer distributed, scalable, on-demand expertise. In this case, in the much-needed area of creating GOOD press releases! My question for some of you: can you create a similar business model in your niche area of expertise?

Tom Peters. From Action to Excellence. 57 very pithy points.

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Five in the Morning 021909

Before we begin, may I just take a moment and say how much I enjoy interacting with you, my readers, in these early-morning excursions through the blogosphere? It’s fun to find a few goodies each day (so much to choose from!), but it’s even more fun to dialogue with you about stuff you found helpful or interesting.

OK, on with the show…

The Four Horsemen of the Startup. Brief and to the point. Four attitudes to avoid if you’re an entrepreneur starting a company. From the wise and friendly Doug Karr.

Animated advertising icons – the power of strong branding in advertising. Watch this quick clip. From BrandFreak blog.

In Business Week, a profile of social media pioneer Beth Kanter. Nice.

Which businesses are on Twitter? Check out this uber-list on Twibs. Wow. (hat tip: Brand Flakes for Breakfast).

From the Church of the Customer blog, 5 Questions with Emanuel Rosen (on buzz, word of mouth, and marketing). Good stuff.

PLUS – just for fun: 25 “Hidden” Things in Facebook’s Terms of Use (spoof).

Finally – are you going to Blogger Social ’09? Last year’s event was a slam dunk – 80 bloggers from around the world getting together in NYC to get social. This year, the upper limit is 100, and it’s in Boston. Details here – I’ll be there!

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Five in the Morning 021709

Lon Cohen shares his “Twitter professors” on the Mashable blog – 18 key people he follows who provide ongoing education on a variety of topics. Some known, and not-so-well-known, names listed here.

Who doesn’t like a nice list? Here’s 60 of the best SEO tools. And, some Inspiring Design Links for Creatives (thanks to @brandonacox for these links, via Twitter). And, from Robin Broitman, a Superlist of How to Find, Network with, and Influence People via Social Media.

Good for what Ales you? Costco about to make a bold move – launching its own line of beers. Great strategy, especially if the taste is high-quality. The Difference is Affordability?

Good advice from Branding Strategy Insider on picking/creating a brand name effectively. Drawn from Guy Kawasaki‘s book, The Art of the Start.

Facebook blah blah blah. Terms of Service blah blah privacy blah blah – yes, it was the latest bandwagon issue for the last couple of days. Consumerist blog has some helpful updates on its initial post about this kerfuffle, including some clarifications from the Facebookers.

Can you learn anything about social media marketing from a puppy?

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Five in the Morning 021609

fivesm

I hope you enjoyed the Five in the Morning guest posts last week! It’s my intent to pass around the Five spotlight (and link love) to two guest-hosts per week, so that we get the benefit of everyone’s interests and reading lists. Thanks to Arun Rajagopal, Lisa Hoffmann, Connie Reece, and Chris Wilson for helping out while I was busy “conferencing” last week!

Alan Wolk kicks us off this morning with a provocative post: Does Creativity Still Matter? Give it a read and add your comments, esp. if you’re an advertising wonk. Good stuff.

Mining the Thought Stream. Some thoughts on TechCrunch about Twitter’s unique capacity to reveal what people are thinking. Interesting.

Mashable‘s Social Media posts, all gathered together. Great idea. Warning: potential time sink!

How to Communicate Everything You Do. Can you condense your personal message into an effective introduction? Some valuable ideas from Dan Schawbel at the Personal Branding Blog.

The Brand New blog has been on a roll this month, with some great commentary on re-branding efforts, good, bad, and awful. Scroll down and enjoy!

PLUS – The Personal ROI of Social Media. A Sunday Muse.

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PLEASE NOTE: There is reason to believe that the Google/Feedburner changeover has created “issues” with RSS feeds for my blogs (and others). Here are the feeds for my three blogs; if you’re a reader, would you please re-subscribe just to make sure? Thanks!

:: Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog (that’s this one!)

:: Subscribe to the Steve’s Leaves blog (that’s my personal blog)

:: Subscribe to the Impactiviti blog (that’s a pharma-specific blog, for my consulting business)

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Puppies and Social Media Marketing

Just got done laughing (again) at the reaction of my cats to the new puppy in our house. They want nothing to do with Mystic – they stiffen up and run as soon as they see her, even though she is eager to interact.

Kinda like – how we react to traditional marketing. We don’t trust it. We don’t want it to get close. When it pushes into our face, we retreat. Go away,  you annoy me.

On the other hand, Mystic and the humans in the house have a social media relationship. We gladly interact. We seek each other out. We dialogue (well, in our own sort of way). We like hanging out together.

I know what kind of relationship I’d be pursuing with my marketing dollars…

Go Ahead. I Dare You.

I’m no junk food addict, though I enjoy the occasional guilty indulgence every once in a while. So why is it that all of a sudden I have a burning urge to try a Burger King Angry Whopper?

angrywhopper

Because they’re daring me to, that’s why. *(update – see below)

Many urges and motivations drive buying decisions. But one which (I think) is underestimated is The Dare.

I want to prove that I can handle those jalapenos, that hot sauce – I want to feel the burning sensation but show that I can take it. In short, there are 1001 different burger combos out there, but this one is Angry, and it’s throwing down the gauntlet. If Arby’s was promoting a Gentle Sandwich, no matter what the ingredients, I wouldn’t be inclined to take up the “challenge.”

One ski resort in Vermont has taken hold of this marketing angle for years, with their bumper sticker. Sure, there are plenty of challenging slopes around. But Mad River Glen is daring you. And, by turning their visitors who have “taken the challenge” into mobile billboards, they are enticing you to take the dare.

madriverglen

Is there anything daring about what you offer? Are you stuck in “pretty please??” mode, or do you have a dare to issue?

* Update:

dwhopperangrysmI did take the dare last week, and had an Angry Whopper. In fact, it was a Double (boy, did I hear about it later from my better half!). And you know what? It was pretty good. Spicy hot. Angry. Nice…

(Image credit – Whopper. Bumper sticker)

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Five in the Morning 020509

Wired interviews Seth Godin at TED – Tribes, timing, and people (not ads). Classic Seth stuff. And, here’s a interesting thought from Seth’s blog, about “solving a different problem.”

Razorfish data tying consumer social media activity to purchase behavior“there are significant differences in both engagement and spend between those who discovered the application or widget through media, versus those who were referred by friends. ..those who discovered the application via a friend were almost four times more likely to download the applicationThey were also more likely to spend money on the client site and spent much more on average.”

From Derrick Daye at Branding Strategy Insider (Hi Derrick – long time no e-contact!), something we really shouldn’t have to say: When Naming turns Deceitful. Some classic examples here.

John Moore riffing on Ted Mininni riffing on coffee…follow the links for some good discussion. My take – it’s not all about coffee taste. It’s also the experience. Getting a cup of coffee at home (8 O’Clock), or at McDonald’s, or at DD, is…well, boring, compared to Starbucks. Starby’s not only has to preserve their unique taste position, they have to make sure that having coffee at their destination is qualitatively different. But you all knew that…

A Fast Company article that you simply have to read, for its throught-provokingness…

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Five in the Morning 012009

5yellowSince it’s Inauguration Day in the U.S. we’ll start off with…

Obama, the new King of Branding (from Laura Ries). Barack Obama is not just our new President but a new type of leader, one like we have never seen before. Not only does he understand politics, but he also understands branding. Plus, she ties in the BlackBerry factor…

Don’t just dream. Do something. An inspiring story on William Arruda’s blog, about Mary McLeod Bethune. Sometimes we have a goal that for some reason or another doesn’t work and is not achieved.  Should we give up?  No!

Targeting the right…or wrong…social media influencers. Dead-on thoughts from Mack Collier at MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog. Can you name a few recent examples of companies using social media to embrace, empower, and excite their customer evangelists?

Where would we be without lots of lists! Small Business Trends gives us two for today: The Ultimate Small Business Twitter List (you may find some new follows here), and a Top Blogs List. Thanks Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends)!

The new Computer Science Corporation logo. I think the logo itself is pretty pedestrian, but the angled “projection” elements used in collateral materials is pretty decent visually. From that Brand New blog.

AND, just for fun – if you really have way too much time on your hands, every Super Bowl commercial ever shown. On Adland, via those Brand Flakes for Breakfast folks.

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Five in the Morning 011509

Will Twitter change blog designs in 2009? It’s already happening. Some interesting predictions from Rachel Cunliffe at Mashable (but she didn’t include her Twitter handle in the blog post!)

Charmin kicks butt in NYC advertising campaign. Such an obvious idea, yet so smart. From Jonathan Salem Baskin at DimBulb blog.

The Bull lives! Some brand identities are too powerful to let go. Bank of America preserving the Merrill Lynch name and logo. From William Lozito at the NameWire blog.

Speaking of logos, those Brand Flakes for Breakfast guys point us to a graphical depiction of all the United States (state) logos. Wow – what a variety. Some of these are pretty meh, and someone sold a lot of script font to a few western states. To me, the most visually memorable is Mississippi.

Facts Tell but Stories SellJeff Paro gives us a compact list of 20 typical “plots” around which stories can be built. Found on the Small Business Branding site.

And finally, the question on my StickyFigure blog yesterday – Are you Being Pecked to Death?

————- Swing by Friday morning to find out who our next guest-host will be!

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Five in the Morning 011309

Jason Falls brings us an interesting list of the Top 50 Educational blogs, with links aplenty. Nice.

Busy, busy. Jeremiah Owyang has been cranking out great content on his blog. First, reflections on his 20-day holiday from Twitter. Then, for lovers of statistics, a collection of Social Media Stats for 2009. Then, a summary of Forresters Wave Report on Social Media Platforms.

In recent days, Fast Company has highlighted some cool technology trends and products. Such as tiny pico-projectors that can fit in your hand. Or electricity without wires. And how does Sony’s new mini video cam match up against the Flip?

Is there room for anyone else besides Twitter in the micro-blogging space? Louis Gray has an interesting analysis.

Doug Karr talks coffee, and the lies of packaging. It’s what’s in the cup that matters!

————- Come on by tomorrow to find out who is guest-hosting Five in the Morning!

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Five in the Morning 011209

high-fiveReputation matters. A succinct and important reminder from Peter Kim. “After all, in a world of weak ties, what else do we have?”

The Worst Pitch in the World. From the Bad Pitch Blog. Not sure that there aren’t worse examples, but this one really is pretty pathetic!

Brands that Tweet. Yes, Paul Dunay published this a month ago. But maybe, like me, you didn’t see it. Good list with additional links. And, speaking of Twitter, Hubspot has improved their Twitter Grader algorithm, so we can all rest better at night know who the REAL elite of Twitter are!

Five Microbusiness Trends for 2009. From Dawn Rivers Baker on Small Business Trends blog.”…the nation’s microbusinesses are better structured to endure these difficult times, thanks to a lean operating style and creative business models.

BK’s Sacrifice 10 Friends for a Whopper promotion. Viral, creative genius. Who thinks up this stuff?? Hat tip: Brandeo.

And, just for the fun of it, a bunch of pictures from MacWorld courtesy of Guy Kawasaki. My favorite one is the “shoes off” pic (and the reason for it).

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Five in the Morning 010609

Let’s talk creativity and branding today (mostly). One of the benefits of having an overly-full RSS Reader is that there is a constant tidal wave of great stuff to look at, and be inspired by. Such as…

Hijacking other people’s billboards with thought balloons. Reminds me of the birds that put their eggs in other birds nest. This is quite brilliant actually – pointed out to us by those Plaid folks.

A picture is worth 90% of the words. Or all of them. Great “iceberg” example from Brand Curve, and en even more stunning execution from the Ad Goodness blog.

This Montreal logo, brought to our attention by the fine folks at the Brand New blog, raises a constant nagging question in my mind. Really – does anybody but the in-the-bubble creative ad agency types ever really make all these connections about what the logo means?? I say that the vast majority of normal people can in no way discern the “intent” of most of these logos.What do you think? And, you also need to consider (says uber-designer David Airey) the cost of rebranding, with a tangible UK example. (oh – and you might also like this Brand New “Best and Worst of 2008” post about logos).

David Polinchock brings us a link to 50 strangely wonderful buildings, if creative architecture is where you itch. Pretty awesome stuff.

Who doesn’t like creative photography? See how this couple teamed up with a photographer to make some pretty cool engagement photos. From A Cup of Jo blog.

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Peace of Mind, Guaranteed

billsavittYesterday, for no apparent discernible reason, I said something to my wife about “P.O.M.G.”

For those of us who grew up in Central Connecticut a few decades back, that’s “Peace of Mind, Guaranteed.” A tagline and acronym relentlessly pounded into our impressionable little brains in the 60′s and 70′s by Savitt Jeweler’s in Hartford (hey! – Google has just helped me discover that they’re still around!)

Bill Savitt rode that expression on the radio and TV airwaves for years. And here, many decades later, never having gone to Savitt’s for anything, or thought about them in forever, the tagline still sticks.

Do you doubt the power of a great tagline, reinforced through repetition? Don’t. Put your creative juices to work trying to create a hook that will endure. You’ll gain a piece of mind. Guaranteed.

(Some interesting backstory on Bill Savitt, and image credit)

Five in the Morning 121808

Blah blah blah Sponsored Blog Posts blah blah blah. OK, this horse has been flogged pretty heavily over the past week, but what I like most about this post by Ron Miller is the series of comments underneath. The discussion. And one important take-away is this: as we all learn, evolve, and try new things (like a fully-disclosed sponsored post) in social media, let’s allow our preconceived notions to be challenged a bit, instead of jumping down each others’ throats with knee-jerk Right/Wrong pronouncements…in this light, I also think Shannon Paul has some very interesting perspectives (The Tao of Social Media).

Peter Kim gives a very helpful 22-point list of social media tools (with usage examples for each), joined with an encouragement to just get started!

Speaking of tools, Jacob Morgan lists out Tools and Metrics for Monitoring Social Media Success. Nice.

Ten Advertising Words to Avoid. Actually, this is a very good reminder for a lot of writing, even blog posts. If you want to be free to be that which you really can be, take the opportunity to consider the synergy of drinkability and you’ll be a better writer, guaranteed!

Matt Dickman discusses a Best and a Worst new-ish Twitter service. I agree with his assessments.

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