The lovely Angela Maiers asked me to write a blog post about the topic of passion, as part of her series on Passion-Driven Conversations.

Below is an excerpt; the full post is here on Angela’s blog.

Where you find passion, you find PURPOSE – an attachment to a goal or ideal much bigger than oneself.

Where you find passion, you find PRINCIPLE – a commitment to what is right and good beyond just what is expedient.

Where you find passion, you find PRESSING NEED – an insatiable discontent with the status quo.

And where you find passion, you find PEOPLE – because we cannot resist warming our hearts with the passions of others.



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Stretegic Serendipity

You probably have a strategy for your use of social media. But don’t forget the “pinball factor.” My latest MarketingProfs Daily Fix post, on Strategic Serendipity, is right here.

(Interestingly enough, Seth Godin published something on a similar theme today – Willing to be Lucky)

Not Quite What I Was Planning

not-quite-what-sm.jpgQuite possibly one of the briefest contributions I’ve ever made – Six Words. A recently released book called Not Quite What I Was PlanningSix word memoirs by writers famous and obscure features page after page of fun and interesting six-word summaries of life’s lessons. The editors at Smith Magazine asked for contributions on-line, and sure enough, mine was accepted (page 175) along with many others.

A few favorite samples:

    “Was rebellious teen. Now raising one.”
    “Good, evil use the same font.”
    “Awkward girl takes chances. Fun ensues.”
    “Always working on the next chapter.”

I won’t tell you mine – you have to buy the book to find out!

Lots of goodies in here – in fact, this is a perfect “bathroom book”!

One Exhausting Post!

This amazing post wore me out just in “quick scan” mode – I can only imagine the work that went into creating it!

Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2007 –  Over 250 links, consolidated by Tamar Weinberg (Techipedia), on just about every topic imaginable touching on internet marketing. Lots of gems here!

Oman O Man!

Arun Rajagopal, our designated marketing blogger located in Oman, has scored a coup with a big article in the Khaleej Times Weekend magazine about the Age of Conversation project.

His blog post gives an overview, and has scanned-in images of the tree-based hard-copy edition, along with this link to the on-line version. Great show, Arun!

A Pilot Customer Service Program

From today’s Wall Street Journal (may be subscription fee for on-line article):

[Danny Flanagan]Capt. Denny Flanagan is a rare bird in today’s frustration-filled air-travel world — a pilot who goes out of his way to make flying fun for passengers.

When pets travel in cargo compartments, the United Airlines veteran snaps pictures of them with his cellphone camera, then shows owners that their animals are on board. In the air, he has flight attendants raffle off 10% discount coupons and unopened bottles of wine. He writes notes to first-class passengers and elite-level frequent fliers on the back of his business cards, addressing them by name and thanking them for their business. If flights are delayed or diverted to other cities because of storms, Capt. Flanagan tries to find a McDonald’s where he can order 200 hamburgers, or a snack shop that has apples or bananas he can hand out.

And when unaccompanied children are on his flights, he personally calls parents with reassuring updates. “I picked up the phone and he said, ‘This is the captain from your son’s flight,’ ” said Kenneth Klein, whose 12-year-old son was delayed by thunderstorms in Chicago last month on a trip from Los Angeles to see his grandfather in Toronto. “It was unbelievable. One of the big problems is kids sit on planes and no one tells you what’s happening, and this was the exact opposite.”

So unusual is the service that Capt. Flanagan has been a subject of discussion on, an online community for road warriors.

Mark B. Lasser, a Denver advertising-sales executive, came off a Capt. Flanagan flight and posted a question on about why the pilot had been so friendly. “I don’t trust UA at all but can’t figure out what the ulterior motive is,” he wrote.

Others quickly came to Capt. Flanagan’s defense. “I’ve had this pilot before — what a great guy. He does the same thing on every flight,” said a FlyerTalk regular.

Mr. Lasser says he just wishes Capt. Flanagan weren’t such a rarity among United employees. “Every flight before and most flights since have been so poor in customer service that this guy really came across as representing his own standards more than the company’s. He’s an outlier within United,” Mr. Lasser said in an interview.

UAL Corp.’s United, which ranked in the middle of the airline pack in on-time arrivals and mishandled baggage in the first half of this year and next-to-worst in consumer complaints, has supported Capt. Flanagan’s efforts. The airline supplies the airplane trading-cards he hands out as passengers board, plus books, wine and discount coupons he has flight attendants give away. He goes through about 700 business cards a month, and the company reimburses him for the food he buys during prolonged delays.

“He’s a great ambassador for the company,” says Graham Atkinson, United’s executive vice president and “Chief Customer Officer,” who is leading an effort to boost customer service. He hopes more pilots and airport workers will adopt some of Capt. Flanagan’s techniques such as the frequent, detailed updates he gives to customers.

Air travel isn’t easy for anybody, given problems ranging from storms to mechanical breakdowns to computer snafus and lost luggage. Airline workers have endured pay cuts and fights with management; travelers have suffered poor service and unreliable flights. Capt. Flanagan tries to deal with the cheerfulness challenge — at least on the flights he works. “I just treat everyone like it’s the first flight they’ve ever flown,” said the 56-year-old Navy veteran who lives on an Ohio farm and cuts the figure of a classic airline captain: trim and gray-haired. “The customer deserves a good travel experience,” he said.

Last Tuesday morning, Capt. Flanagan was at gate C19 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport an hour before the scheduled departure of Flight 831 to San Francisco and made his first announcement about the delay before the gate agent had shown up. The time posted for departure was 8:20, but that was optimistic, Capt. Flanagan told passengers, because the Boeing 767 they would fly wouldn’t land from São Paulo, Brazil, until 7:02 and then had to be emptied, cleaned, inspected and towed from the international terminal.

He tried to lighten the mood, using a joke he tells before every flight. “I almost forgot to tell you, this is my first flight,” Capt. Flanagan said. Wary eyes looked up from newspapers and BlackBerrys through a long pause, before he added, “today.”

Capt. Flanagan mingled in the lounge answering questions and using his cellphone to call United operations officials to ask about connections to Asia and to cities on the West Coast.

Ajoke Odumosu, a track star at the University of South Alabama who was on her way to Osaka, Japan, for a world-championship competition, realized that when she began her trip with US Airways Group Inc., her luggage had been checked only as far as San Francisco. With the delay, there wouldn’t be time to retrieve it and recheck it for Japan.

Capt. Flanagan called Chicago and learned that the luggage was already in metal containers ready for loading on the 767, and couldn’t be retagged. He called San Francisco and found a manager who agreed to pull Ms. Odumosu’s bags aside and retag them for Osaka. In all, he spent 15 minutes on the problem.

“I was glad he went out of his way, which he didn’t have to do,” Ms. Odumosu said.

Once the plane was ready for boarding, Capt. Flanagan passed out cards with information about the Boeing 767. On every flight, he signs two of the cards on the back and, if there is wine left over from first class, he announces that passengers with his signature have won bottles of wine.

When the movie ended, flight attendants passed out napkins and passengers were invited to write notes about experiences on United — good or bad. Fifteen were selected to receive a coupon for a 10% discount on a future United flight, and Capt. Flanagan posts the passengers’ notes in crew rooms or sends them on to airport managers when they raise specific issues.

Randall Levelle of Morgantown, W.Va., and his family were flying to San Francisco because his father-in-law had just died. Capt. Flanagan invited Mr. Levelle’s three children into the cockpit during boarding.

“If other folks in the airline industry had the same attitude, it would go a long way to mitigating some of the negative stuff that has come about in the last four or five years,” Mr. Levelle said.

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 8_24

duct-tape.jpgSteve’s Sticky Stuff is a weekly collection of random interesting stuff I’ve found during my voyages hither and yon. Enjoy!

Is Steve Woodruff actually a Swedish policeman toting an AK-47 to work?

I wish I’d know about this sooner. Kids are now being diagnosed with Youthful Tendency Disorder.

Google Earth now expands to Google Sky. Very, very cool. UPDATE: They hid an “easter egg” flight simulator in there! Here is how to access it.

Truveo. May be the best interface/search engine yet for finding videos on the net (hat tip: Wall Street Journal). Here’s a very funny prank video that you may enjoy.

Best Brands

Business Week has a mega-series of articles on-line about the best brands worldwide.

Go there!

Get a Taste of the Age of Conversation: From S to Z

aoctalkbubble.jpgThis is the fourth and final installment of a “review” of the just-released Age of Conversation book – actually, just a taste of what each author has written, to make the case why you should buy the book!

This post will show the entries for those authors with last names from S to Z. Except there aren’t any starting with Z. Or X, for that matter!

So what is the “value proposition” of the Age of Conversation book? Take a taste. Then go buy it!

Mike Sansone
DO YOU TALK WRITE? – “We live in the McNews generation. We scan. Lectures don’t sustain our attention — neither do long sentences. Writing like you talk can also be a freeing feeling to those who think they are poor writers. Of course, writing is a muscle that improves with consistent use.”

Patrick Schaber
STARTING THE CONVERSATION FOR THE SMALL BUSINESS MARKETER – “The rise of search engines has allowed for a “meeting place” of sorts between the interested consumer and seller. As the consumers search for their interests, the seller can now be there at the right time in front of the right prospect with an enticing offer. If accepted by the consumer, this offer begins the conversation that can lead to long-term relationships and purchases.”

Gary Schoeniger
THE NEW ENTREPRENEURIAL PARADIGM – “Amidst the wreckage and the ruins of the old economy, a new breed of entrepreneur is emerging, adapting to a new global economy where the old rules no longer apply, where no one is in charge and no one is coming to the rescue. To this new breed of entrepreneur, problems are opportunities.”

Ron Shevlin
BEHAVIORAL CONVERSATIONS – “To succeed in the Age of Conversation, it’s not sufficient for marketers to engage customers in verbal conversations on social networking sites. Instead, they must develop a new marketing competency — a sense-and-respond competency — to sense consumer needs and intentions based on their behavior, and to respond with appropriate advice, guidance and offers.”

Jamey Shiels
THE WALLFLOWER – “When you consider the conversation that is happening online; the growth of interaction, connectivity and communication; are you out there dancing or are you leaning on the wall and watching. Are you a wallflower?”

Cord Silverstein
VOICE TO THE VOICELESS – “Helplessness is one of the worst feelings in the world because we feel powerless to change what is happening to us. We feel alone and isolated with nowhere to turn. Many people feel that the Internet and technology are causing people to be more isolated and that we are losing the art of conversation. I disagree.”

Nathan Snell
ARE YOU REAL? – “All these people are customers. Except they’re more than that. They are community members. They are fans. We engage them. We help them become involved in what we’re doing. More importantly, they let us become more involved in what they are doing. We open the lines for conversation. We establish relationships. It is here where the magic takes place.”

Mario Vellandi
COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE – “By starting a conversation with the attitude of a desire to collaboratively create a better product, service, relationship or experience NOW… we exhibit our commitment to unconditional quality and being a true team player.”

Greg Verdino
HAVE YOU HUGGED A BLOGGER TODAY? – “By my count, I’ve met or spoken with more than two dozen people that I would never have had the chance to know if it weren’t for our respective contributions to the social media community. And each time this happens, I’m floored by the way simple text — just one guy’s thoughts about media, marketing, business and life — pecked out on my laptop keyboard in a few spare moments at the end of each day has led to new real world connections with actual flesh-and-blood people.”

S. Neil Vineberg
COMMUNITY AND CONVERSATION – “For those seeking a voice in their community of interest, technology is your amplifier. You can become a publisher and broadcaster. Spread your views and build a community of interest through
a blog, podcast, videocast and webcast. If you’ve got something cool to say, the audience will be there for you.”

Roger von Oech
HOW TO THINK LIKE A FOOL – “What did the fool do? Simply stated, it was the fool’s job to “whack” the king’s thinking out of habitual thought patterns. The king’s advisers were often “yes-men” who told him exactly what he wanted to hear. The king realized that this wasn’t a good way to make decisions. Therefore, he gave the fool a license to parody any proposal under discussion. His candid jokes and offbeat observations forced the king to re-examine his assumptions. By listening to the fool, the king improved his judgment and enhanced his creativity.”

Kimberly Dawn Wells
UNTITLED – “Not that long ago, dating was a contact sport. Couples got together when they wanted to talk. But, for singletons in the 21st Century, email make-ups and IM break-ups are quickly becoming a shocking standard…Oh, and for those of you considering a breakup via text messaging … don’t even think about it, loser.”

C.B. Whittemore
THE CONVERSATION AGE ENABLED – “Imagine being deaf, dumb, blind — like Helen Keller — caught in your own world with no way out, perhaps filled with brilliant discussion, conversation and brainstorms, but only with yourself. As enlightened and clever as you may be, you stagnate for lack of newness. Your world is a closed loop, a closed system. Then, imagine an “enabler” entering your world…”

Craig Wilson
BRINGING IT BACK TO LOCAL – “The Internet is amazing. Websites, blogs, podcasts, streaming video and e-commerce open the doors to a world of business opportunities. It allows small businesses to speak to almost anyone. However, this broad scope and randomness can also be a weakness for businesses who are not structured, or do not have the desire to sell to the world. How can regional businesses harness the immediate communication and broadcast possibilities of the internet and apply them to the market they actually want to serve?”

Steve Woodruff
THE LOWERED FENCE OF COLLABORATION – “While we still have nearby families and friends for support and fellowship, we now have a neighborhood far greater in scope. Collaboration and communication via the web means that I can now find others of shared interest — wherever they may be. I can create my own neighborhood, based on common professional interests, shared life experiences and mutual hobbies. The common space has no boundaries.”

Troy Worman
CONNECT TO THE UNCONNECTED – “Who are the unconnected? Look around. They are the people you don’t see. Listen. Theirs are the voices you don’t hear. They are the absent. Sometimes they are easy to forget as we go about our hectic days, rich with lattes and wireless networks….”

Nick Wright
CREATING VIDEO CONVERSATION – “The time is ripe to explore the conversational (rather than merely presentational) potential value of online video. Video can be a great invitation for people to chat, discuss and engage with you. You can gain instant feedback from encouraging participation and the more active your consumers are, the more free word-of-mouth marketing you get.”

Faris Yakob
“GIVE ME SONGS. GIVE ME SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT” – “Brands have been giving people songs but that’s not enough anymore — they want something to sing about. Today, brands can’t stick to a single song sheet. People have wrestled back control of brands because each of us has a voice now and we can make ourselves heard — online everyone is equal. If we choose to all sing a different song, the brand’s solo will be drowned out.”


See the full series:

A taste from A-D

A taste from E-J

A taste from K-R

A taste from S-Z

Get a Taste of the Age of Conversation: From K to R

aoctalkbubble.jpgThis is the third installment of a “review” of the just-released Age of Conversation book – actually, just a taste of what each author has written, to make the case why you should buy the book!

This post will show the entries for those authors with last names from K to R.

So what is the “value proposition” of the Age of Conversation book? Take a taste. Then go buy it!

Gareth Kay
THE STRONGEST CONVERSATIONS START WITH A POINT OF VIEW -“A brand worthy of conversation needs to have an opinion; a clear and credible point of view on the world and the brand’s place in it. A sharp opinion, strongly held is the fuel that ignites and sustains conversation. It has the ability to make your brand matter in the maelstrom of daily life because an opinion gives people something to talk, and think, about. It may polarize, but in so doing it helps the brand become a catalyst for conversation.”

THE “SHARE” ECONOMY – “Many companies view sharing as synonymous with losing control. Yet an objective assessment illuminates more opportunity for gain than risk of loss. With this new medium (and mindset) comes new
methods to build awareness, new access to communities in which to build market share and new technologies to create offerings.”

Kim Klaver
HOW TENNIS PUTS CONVERSATION INTO MARKETING – “People in direct sales and network marketing, the field I work in, do what the big boys do, only one-on-one. They contact people they know, and insist on having a 1–3 minute non-stop monologue with each person, gushing about the product they are marketing, and how it’s a MUST HAVE for the other person. This has not worked well in our field. Most people doing direct sales and network marketing (one-on-one) drop out. Ninety-five percent, actually. That’s where tennis comes in.”

David Koopmans
THE VOICE OF THE CEO – “Traditionally, communication between companies and their audiences of customers, employees and investors has been a carefully managed monologue. Our hierarchical business structures create a buffer of managers between CEOs and the rest of the world. So the conversation is often conducted on behalf of the CEO, rather than by the CEO.”

Jim Kukral
CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE? – “Two bloggers walk into a crowded room. The first blogger says, “Hi, my name is Jake and I blog about sports. Here’s a bio sheet and an about pamphlet you can read about me. Plus you could grab my RSS feed if you want”. He proceeds to hand out his information. A few people look up and accept his handouts. The rest continue in their own conversations, ignoring him.”

John La Grou
THE EMERGING MICROCLESIA – “In times past, the church had the luxury of slowly engaging new technologies over decades, even centuries. Today, the intersection of faith and technology is about rapid convergence that cannot be contained within inherited ecclesiastical architectures. Just as the printing press caused an epochal shift in religious priorities and organization, so the church is again being profoundly (re)created by instantaneous virtual interconnectivity.”

Karl Long
VIRAL GAMES – ALTERNATE REALITY GAMES -“Alternate Reality Games or ARGs may sound extremely science fiction but are in fact happening now, and have been happening for some time. Did you know that one of the things that makes Lost so compelling is that it has an Alternate Reality Game that runs parallel to it?”

Lori Magno
“SPEAK TO ME TJX” – “Speak to me! Why are you ignoring me? I thought we were friends, well, if not friends exactly, then shopping buddies. That was addressed to the TJX Companies from me, a humble consumer. Why did they dump me? Me, the person lining their pockets!”

Valeria Maltoni
CONVERSATION AGENT.COM: THE CONVERSATION AGE @ WORK – “We get things done through talk. We always have. The organizations that understand and allow these dynamics to develop and emerge with customers, partners and employees have a future. Over time, contracts, policies, scripts become less important — the free flow of ideas and projects is the backbone of this brave new world.”

Carolyn Manning
COMMUNICATION ISN’T LOST – “The main parallel between the Lost Generation and the Blogging Community will become more obvious when the best literature of the twenty-first century rises to the top. Yet, there are marks of similarity, even now. Those marks are the small things, things hidden in the open. The Lost Generation read from each other and talked together; they shared ideas freely. The Bloggers do the same.”

Paul McEnany
TELEVISION IN THE AGE OF CONVERSATION – “Before, TV was about high-paid executives, Hollywood mega-stars and prime-time budgets. Tomorrow, it’s all about me and my friends.”

Colin McKay
GOVERNMENTS – “Unfortunately, most executives, and most government officials — elected or appointed — are instinctively wary of an unrestrained exchange of ideas. To them, the world of online communications is a lot like the annual family reunion — for every bright nephew with a good idea, there are still two crazy aunts circling the bar holding a grudge.”

Drew McLellan
FULL CIRCLE – “Suddenly, whether it was a small business down the road or a conglomerate, they weren’t faceless anymore. They were Joe. Or Raj. They were a blog reader. They were a 24/7 live customer service rep. They were a peer in the same industry but half a world away. They were a blog writer. They were accessible.”

Gaurav Mishra
CREATE CONVERSATIONS, NOT CLUTTER – “A community in itself is not enough; it needs content to get into the conversation mode. One way to enable conversations is to focus on niche channels.”

Scott Monty
B2B SOCIAL MEDIA: DON’T MONKEY AROUND – “Above all, resist the temptation to jump in until you understand the context. Businesses that attempt to harness the power of social networks or new media sites without realizing the rules and etiquette will find themselves unwelcome. It is only by listening and learning will B2B marketers be able to start talking with their customers.”

Michael Morton
HOW TO BUILD A COMMUNITY ON A BUDGET: JUST USE AN ONLINE NEWSLETTER! – “…your customers must view your company as something more than just a business. They need to be able to humanize your company. This can be accomplished in many ways. One way is through your writing, another is by showing your charitable side.”

Chris Newlan
WE ARE ALL NEWS HOUNDS NOW – “Citizen journalism — where ordinary people capture a newsworthy event that the mainstream media struggle to provide instant and first hand coverage — means that history’s first draft now often makes its debut appearance within minutes on social networking sites like Facebook, on personal weblogs and video sharing sites like YouTube.”

Andy Nulman
HOW TO SHOUT – “Shouting is not about making yourself heard. It’s about making yourself interesting. And making yourself into someone people will want to converse with.”

Simon Payn
HOW PETER GOT HIS CUSTOMERS BACK – “Everyone in the neighborhood knew Peter. He was the hardware guy. On sunny days, he would stand outside and wave to people as they walked by. Some would stop and talk. After all, Peter knew everyone — and he was always full of good conversation, from the latest gossip to the best grade of sandpaper for pine.”

David Polinchock
THE ROLE OF CONVERSATION IN THE BRAND EXPERIENCE – “You see, the real challenge for brands today is that I’ve got lots of brands that I can talk to. So, if I’m not enjoying the conversation I’m having with you, it’s really easy for me to find someone else to talk to.”

Joe Raasch
NO LIMIT CONVERSATION – “The only rules are that no one can defend anything, no can promote a specific agenda, random connections are followed, and the final topic connects back to the original topic.”

Arun Rajagopal
THE RULES OF THE GARAGE. FOR DIGITAL MEDIA CONVERSATIONALISTS – “Your interactive channel should reach out, inform, entertain and make an impression on the world.”

Ryan Rasmussen
IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO SIMPLY LISTEN – “The risk of requesting feedback in an uncontrolled public setting is often the leading inhibitor for companies to join in the discussion. However, the loyalties made now will become the backbone of your future brand image as participatory consumerism and social medias topple traditional models of business-centric customer relations. It is not enough to simply listen.”

Connie Reece
THE TWO-STEP OF CONVERSATIONAL WRITING – “…one of the skills in great demand is conversational writing. Even in B2B marketing the need is for plain, but powerful, language. A writer who tries to dazzle readers with buzzwords
will not be effective.”

Emily Reed
IS YOUR BRAND A BORE? – “in her advice on the etiquette of conversation, Emily Post wrote this about a person who can only talk about himself – but she may as well have been describing most marketing communications…”

Brian Reich
PUTTING MEDIA BACK IN THE MIDDLE – “Media — or to be more clear, what I call the ‘little m media’ — is the information, the experiences and the stuff that we create, consume and share every day. Media is at the core of what
organizations do and what inspires their work. Media is what we learn from, talk about, and define ourselves by.”

David Reich
CONVERSATION – THE ULTIMATE CUSTOMER SERVICE – “The new marketing buzzword is engagement, but it really stems from something that marketers had more than 50 years ago — conversation. Personal, up-close conversation with customers — a real two-way dialog. Knowing your customer — what they want, why, when and how. Knowing it because they’ve taken the time to tell you.”

Sacrum B Rown
WARMNESS – You’ll just have to buy the book to see this graphic!

Sandy Renshaw
GRAPHICS AND CONVERSATIONS – “Since 60 percent of us are visual learners, a well-placed image can convey an idea to a wide audience quickly and clearly.”

Nick Rice
AUTHENTICITY-BASED BRANDING – “Right off the bat, I want to get one thing on the table. You do not own or control your brand…You cannot control your brand because your brand is defined by the internal feelings your employees, suppliers, customers and their associates have when they think of or experience you.”

Steve Roesler
WANT TO CHANGE THE ORGANIZATION? CHANGE THE CONVERSATION – “The successful New Leader will realize that organizations are now inhabited by people who are either part of the conversation or disengaged. Internal social media will become the friend of the New Leader or the enemy of change.”

Roberta Rosenberg
AT MY GRANDMOTHER’S TABLE – “I’ve been a copywriter for 25+ years. Print or web, I write and like it all. But I love writing letters most of all because they remain the most intimate and powerful form of persuasive conversation in print.”


See the full series:

A taste from A-D

A taste from E-J

A taste from K-R

A taste from S-Z

A Great Article on Naming/Branding

From the Conference Board, via Igor International.

Latest Small Business Branding Post

I recently had a post published on the Small Business Branding blog, my 10th post on that site thus far.

It is on the theme of Branding at a Trade Show – a theme fresh on my mind, having just returned from a conference with an exhibit hall last week.

All of my posts on the SBB site can be accessed here.

Brainstorming Wars!

I was scanning through new branding posts this morning, and in my RSS reader, as it turned out, these two new posts came up one after another. Quite a juxtaposition:

Death to Brainstorms!

Brainstorming for the naming process

I’m not getting in the middle of this one! In fact, I’m not even going to call a group meeting to brainstorm the “right” approach (which is part of the fun of working with so many bloggers – we can have some amazingly diverse perspectives!)

When it comes to brainstorming in a virtual environment, I prefer a “pulsed iterative” approach (neologism!). That is, you start with something, put it out to others to comment on/react to/tweak, then put out an improved version or concept. One reason is that for many, it is hard to get creative until dealing with something tangible – some of us can create out of whole cloth, but others prefer to react to an existing “something.” And there can be an efficiency to it – as long as everyone is willing to participate, and there are clear milestones.

What are your thoughts on the value of brainstorming? On the best processes?

(image credit: Flickr)

Getting it Done

I have a new post up on the Small Business Branding site, focusing on a new marketing campaign by Citi (“Let’s Get it Done”). Your comments and insights would be welcome…

Building a “LifeNet”

Very interesting article from Success magazine, by a hard-driving entrepreneur who came to recognize the incredible value of a personal/professional network in building success. Highly recommended read!

Can you Fake Authenticity in Branding?

A great read from Fast Company magazine:


In an increasingly shiny, fabricated world of spun messages and concocted experiences–where nearly everything we encounter is created for consumption–elevating a brand above the fray requires an uncommon mix of creativity and discipline. And nowhere do you see the challenge more starkly illustrated than in the quest for authenticity. “Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are now judged,” notes John Grant in The New Marketing Manifesto. Or as Seth Godin quips in Permission Marketing: “If you can fake authenticity, the rest will take care of itself.”

At #101, We Try Harder

Here is Millward Brown’s 2007 Top 100 Brands Ranking report (free .pdf download). Not surprisingly, Google has rocketed to the top.

My secret mole within the organization said that we were just bumped out by a whisker. Oh, well, there’s always next year!

As Heard on The Street

This week, I was surprised to receive a phone call from a mainstream reporter (, asking for my opinions on small business branding.

I guess I had a lot of pent-up ideas, because I found myself, quite uncharacteristically, letting loose a stream of thoughts and words.

Here’s the article on website.

Impactiviti now on Small Business Branding blog

I have recently been asked to be a contributor to the Small Business Branding (SBB) blog. This blog features posts from a group of writers who are devoted to the art and science of branding and marketing, with a particular focus on smaller business.

Here is my first post. I look forward to fruitful collaboration with SBB and its growing audience!

A keen grasp of the obvious

I saw this pathetic example of empty verbal calories in the WSJ today. Read the following sentence and make a mental score, on a scale of 1-100, of the brainpower expended to generate this stellar insight:

“We see consumers as the most important part of the fashion food chain because they are the ones who are ultimately buying the product,” says (I’ll leave out the name and company to spare the embarrassment).

Golly gee whiz – you mean the actual BUYER is the crucial link here? Why, oh why didn’t I pursue that MBA so I’d have been instructed in these finer points!?!

And by the way, am I the only one in the world that actually despises the term “consumer“? I find the term to be demeaning, depersonalizing, and ultimately unhelpful. Problem is, I have yet to come up with a different term that somehow also incorporates the ideas of intelligent decision-making and well as usage. Customer, client, user, purchaser – all of them have flaws and limits as a general term, though they are not as offensive as consumer. Anyone else have ideas for a “consumer replacement”?

How not to write a press release

I saw this company news release/overview in the most recent edition of PharmaVoice (a publication which I like, by the way), and almost gagged. Clearly, this was written in Modern Geek, and the wording used is solely intended to confuse, obfuscate, and impress with indecipherable buzzwords.

I’m not impressed. And no matter how many times I read this missive, I’ll never understand what in the world Blue Spoon Consulting is trying to offer here.

Here, if you can navigate through it while retaining synaptic sanity, is the wording:


Blue Spoon Consulting has released a marketing ecosystem-based solution for pharmaceutical sales effectiveness. The new design links the context, content, and process of the virtual and physical domains of pharmaceutical sales into a dynamic business system with a dense configuration of activities and knowledge.

Available for download through the Blue Spoon Consulting website, the ecosystem platform for pharmaceutical sales tightens the fit between sampling management, longitudinal prescribing data, publication planning, publicity, salesforce automation, patient advocacy groups, on-demand and service-oriented software, medical science liaisons, health information technology, care management initiatives, outcomes studies, and branded content flows around a customer.

Linking the output and feedback from these previously unrelated or underused elements into a new pattern of organization offers a new scenario for value creation. The center of gravity resides in a living business system that absorbs complexity and one that competitors are unable to replicate. Its economic value is based on measuring increasing returns over time.

Delivery and acquisition of marketing communications and information technology services are judged on their positional value within the ecosystem and their ability to conduct and contribute to system performance. “High degrees of contextual change in the external environment — information becoming liquid, existing everywhere in real time, a whole world of specialized assets and knowledge that make possible any operational vision — is opening a new arena for creativity and strategic logic,” says John G. Singer, principal at Blue Spoon Consulting.


Un-believable. “Positional value within the ecosystem” “information becoming liquid” “The center of gravity resides in a living business system that absorbs complexity” “dense configuration of activities and knowledge”  Only one person in the world can even remotely hope to understand this “ecosystem-based solution”, and that is John G. Singer himself. Maybe this system has value after all, but the value proposition, if it exists, will need to be translated from Geek to English!

Picking bad apples

Very interesting article out of the University of Washington, on the outsized negative influence of “bad apples” in the work environment.

Here’s an excerpt:

William Felps, a doctoral student at the UW Business School and the study’s lead author, was inspired to investigate how workplace conflict and citizenship can be affected by one’s co-workers after his wife experienced the “bad apple” phenomenon.

Felps’ wife was unhappy at work and characterized the environment as cold and unfriendly. Then, she said, a funny thing happened. One of her co-workers who was particularly caustic and was always making fun of other people at the office came down with an illness that caused him to be away for several days.

“And when he was gone, my wife said that the atmosphere of the office changed dramatically,” Felps said. “People started helping each other, playing classical music on their radios, and going out for drinks after work. But when he returned to the office, things returned to the unpleasant way they were. She hadn’t noticed this employee as being a very important person in the office before he came down with this illness but, upon observing the social atmosphere when he was gone, she came to believe that he had a profound and negative impact. He truly was the “bad apple” that spoiled the barrel.” It’s worth clicking on the link above and reading then entire article.

Brand promiscuity and brand trust

Some interesting thoughts from Marian Salzman, as reported in the Hartford Courant.

I’ve always despised mindless attachment to a brand, simply for the sake of borrowed prestige. So maybe this is progressive evolution at work…

Sell by screaming??

My rational self doesn’t like this.

But my emotional side thinks it’s JUST GREAT!!!

The message in advertising is irrelevant, new research shows

So the message doesn’t matter in advertising, anywhere near as much as the emotional content? That certainly explains a lot of advertising I’ve seen. Does it also explain Howard Dean’s outburst in Iowa, along with a lot of other political nonsense?

Some brand stories

Newsweek has a nice little slideshow on successful (smaller) brands that have quickly become household names. Of these, I use LinkedIn and Firefox (and very happy with both of those), and occasionally Craigslist…but I love the imagery shown for POM Wonderful juice.