June 09, 2010
Go with the Flow: Embracing the Real-Time Web
We’re living in a world with more data than we could ever have imagined just 5 years ago. Amazon’s Chief Scientist Andreas Wiegland tells us that more data was generated by individuals in 2009 than in the entire history of mankind. Can you imagine? This is just one of many points that evidence the true emergence of the real-time web.
While most definitions are overly technical, Resource’s definition is this: The real-time web is a current and constant flow of conversations, shared experiences, and geo context. It’s not a new idea, rather, Regis McKenna, author of five books on technology business strategies and marketing, argued that real-time had arrived…in 1997!
But what does the collective dynamism of the real-time web mean for us as marketers and as consumers? Three big things…how we get information, how we engage with one another (and brands) and how we make purchases. In other words, we, as marketers, must continue to adapt. Let’s see how this superfluity of data is changing the way we interact, share and shop through a few personal examples.
1. How we get information: Being in the NOW— feeding, discovering and layering in the real-time web. One of my favorite and most potent demonstrations of real-time is the Cannes Lion award-winning Sprint Now Network. In real-time, it serves up the shifting data of our world as tickers, quivering dials and widgets. We learn how many bicycles are currently being produced right now, how many cars are on the road, the size of our national debt as it grows second by second. Using our webcams, we can also become part of the NOW.
Sprint Now Network
As marketers, we’re often thinking about what has happened or what’s next. But how often do we really think about marketing opportunity in terms of NOWNESS? Sprint did just that, and by making it so fantastically fun and culturally relevant, they garnered over 100,000 sites linking to it.
2. How we engage: The social web—creating, sharing and influencing reaches new levels of value and speed. I love The New York Times. I have subscribed for 17 years.... but I also get it on my laptop, my iPhone and my iPad. A strange thing occurred recently as I was perusing the headlines of the paper over breakfast. I saw “HP ACQUIRES PALM” – and I thought , “What OLD news. They’re just getting around to printing this?” Then, it occurred to me that I read about this story from Tweetdeck, my personal dashboard, the day before – so reading it (again), more than a 1/2 day later, seemed like NYT had been asleep at the wheel. They hadn’t been, of course, but for me it was a startling reminder of just how quickly—and easily—we can now surf, disseminate, and retain information.
A glimpse at my TweetDeck
3. How we make purchases: The ecommerce web—(re)searching, shopping and self-service. We talk a great deal at Resource about what’s worth reading. I was recently raving about Baked In by Crispin Porter’s Alex Bogusky and John Winsor with our Futurist Nita Rollins. What was different about this exchange was that I could do something unimaginable a few months ago: By simply using my Red Laser App – I could check prices of the book, discover bookstores in our area that carried it, and even learn of its availability at a local library. All by scanning the book’s bar code with a little app. What happened to the typing and searching and waiting? Gone. In an instant.
Red Laser App, credit: www.darwick.com
The new consumer journey, as evidenced above, offers increasing layers of digital touchpoints and control. Consumers are creating their own experiences now…sometimes social, sometimes shared, but always individualized. We, as marketers, are no longer leading them through the funnel as we once were. And one thing is for certain—the real-time web will, once again, challenge what we know about marketing.
So how do we do it? How do we keep up? Stay tuned to Resource.com for far more on this multi-layered subject. But for now we’ll say this: be brave, find a new flashlight and learn to Go with the Flow.
February 22, 2010
TED 2010 Reflections
My hectic schedule has made it tough to post recently. But, I wanted to be sure to share my latest experience and reflections from TED 2010. It's a rather long entry, so grab a coffee or a glass of wine...whatever suits you!
Having experienced 3 ½ days of mind-blowing content, note-taking, networking and yes, a bit of stargazing, I wanted to share some themes that emerged for me. Many are things we all know, and some are simply good reminders of things to think about, since the routine course of business can easily cloud our perspective.
Here are my 10 takeaways (in no particular order):
1. Passion is contagious. There’s nothing more invigorating than talking with or listening to someone who absolutely loves what they do. Consider Cheryl Hayashi, a spider silk scientist. You got that right…she specializes in spider silk, not just spiders (as if that isn’t specialized enough!). And for 18 minutes, she oozed passion about how silk is created, how different spiders create different types of silk with varying measures of tensile strength. She convinced us why we should care, why she cares so deeply and why we should really think twice before mindlessly batting away a web that crosses our path as it has been so artfully created.
2. Be the CEO of something. It would be easy to assume that TED speakers are CEOs of companies. In fact, that’s rarely the case. Rather, they are CEOs of their ideas, of grand visions, and, most important, of themselves. One memorable TED presenter was a 28-year-old who lived out of his van in Maui, but he was armed with a compelling, groundbreaking challenge to string theory. Raghava KK, a once nameless teen artist from India, discovered his cartoon drawings could evoke emotion and political controversy around the world. And while many may have written off Temple Grandin at an early age, she embraced her autism and the unique strengths it provided her to become revered as an expert in animal behavior and a voice for the global autistic community. Perhaps their successes sound unlikely to us, but no doubt they believed in their own abilities and ideas all along, and their leadership started with themselves.
3. Persistence pays. While I was having lunch one day, Marc Koska rolled up on a skateboard and asked if he could join me in the adjacent empty chair. He was a casual middle-aged guy with long, tussled hair. As we spoke, I learned that he had invented a particular type of syringe that would prevent hepatitis and HIV from being spread via dirty needles. He invented it when he was 23—with no college education. He spent the next 17 years tweaking the product and convincing the government and other pharma companies to buy it from him—17 years before he got his first sale! Now, he is credited for saving more than 10 million lives. 10 million!!!
4. Fail forward. I had the chance to sit next to David Byrne during one of the sessions. He was a nervous wreck about his upcoming talk. He said he knew how to sing. He could sing with his eyes closed, in his sleep. But talking to this intelligent crowd intimidated him. When it was time for him to walk onto the stage, the audience cheered – it was David Byrne! But, the next 18 minutes were painful for everyone in the room. He bombed. But, he also stretched…in new ways, he allowed himself to be vulnerable, to get uncomfortable – and as a result, he later he confided this experience helped him to discover both an appreciation for the other presenters and a new path for personal growth. And, then there’s Mark Roth, a biochemist and cell biologist who told of his decade-long series of failed attempts and partial successes doing experiments with “suspended animation.” How can someone fail so many times and continue to keep looking for a solution? He’s simply convinced that one day his work will help critically ill trauma patients get the organs they need in time to save their lives. Mark would say it’s important to fail fast, and then keep on going, because time is the most precious currency we have.
4. Things are rarely as they seem. They are neither black or white or completely wrong or right. Maybe it’s the designer in me, but I’ve always subscribed to that theory. It was refreshing to listen to Sam Harris, a neuroscientist and philosopher challenging the audience to think about how we need to come together to define human values that can be shared in all cultures. And then there was a young provocateur who argued that choosing to be a vegetarian or carnivore was too extreme–why do we have to choose? Why not create a new option – “Weekday Veg” – where fruits and veggies are consumed throughout the week and meat options reserved for the weekend. William Li, a cancer researcher, on the cusp of major breakthroughs told the audience, “Discovery is seeing what everyone else has seen but thinking what no one has thought.” These presenters reminded me that there is always another perspective, another way, and many shades of gray.
5. Dare to be bold. By now, you’ve watched Kramer’s video about our commitment to Jamie Oliver’s bold quest to change the food habits of Americans. One might wonder how a young Brit could dare to be so bold in confronting American moms, school administrators, fast food companies, government official among others. Armed with facts, passion and a vision for a better way, Jamie is determined to change our grocery lists, our school lunches, our fast food options, and our relationship with food. His bold vision enraptured the audience, causing everyone including the likes of Google execs and documentarian Morgan Spurlock to lean forward and offer support. We are thrilled to be part of enabling Jamie’s bold dream. Dare you join us? ; )
6. Have a sense of urgency. Kevin Bales can’t sleep. And now that I know that the world has 27 million slaves TODAY, I can’t either. Bales wakes up everyday knowing that time is ticking. What can he do to end this? Not to curtail it but to END it? He’s busy getting the word out, giving speeches, writing books, negotiating with governments, petitioning the UN and other groups that will get involved and take action. Even though our daily agenda isn’t nearly as ambitious as this, it makes me reconsider how I spend time – do the big things get enough time? Do the little things get less time? Probably not often enough. So, here’s my plan – half the meetings, half the time. Maybe this simple gesture will free up more energy for ideas that can impact our clients, our future, and our range of philanthropic efforts. How can you have more urgency for things that matter?
7. Gamers just may change the world. It’s easy to write-off gaming as a consummate time suck – especially knowing that gaming consumes more than 3 BILLION hours each week. Yep, 3 billion. Jane McGonigal argues that we need to be playing MORE games – as much as 21 billion hours per week? Why? She believes that gamers are most equipped to change the world: 1.) they have an urgent sense of optimism; 2.) they have a strong sense of the social fabric; 3.) they are blissfully productive; 4.) they seek epic wins and meaning. Imagine all the gamers in the world helping to figure out how to cool the planet or solve world hunger. Forget work…let’s play!
8. Power of simplicity. It’s easy to make relatively simple things complex. It’s extraordinarily difficult to make the complex simple. Bill Gates showed us how to do just that. He had a total of 18 minutes to frame the implications of global warming and proposed a logical formula for solving the problem. He identified 5 key carbon dioxide-reducing ideas and new energy solutions we need to invest in to “innovate to zero.” He helped us to understand that we have 20 years to test and learn and 20 years to implement the solution in order to save the planet. Simple as that….and everyone was ready to jump onboard. All that brilliance was shared in the amount of time it takes to eat a packed lunch.
9. Execution matters. TED is most known for its provocative content. But perhaps the thing that really makes TED the best conference around is the execution of ….well, everything. With TED, details are essential. From the seamless, speedy registration process to its stunning visual materials to the set décor, to the design-forward meeting spaces throughout the venue, to the healthy food and extraordinary coffee to the breathtaking entertainment to the swag bag – it’s a totally, well-conceived, orchestrated experience. Without the brilliant execution, it might just become an alternative to academia. TED has reminded me that great ideas matter most when they’re executed (with excellence). (Thanks, Bob Baxley for the reminder.)
10. Compassion as a compass. I never saw the direct connection between these two words before – now I do. The spark was initiated for me by a grassroots effort at www.charterforcompassion.org. Then, Sheryl Crow brought this sentiment to life by reminding us all to “get out of our heads and into our hearts.” Natalie Merchant, spent the last 6 years pouring through the works of deceased poets and resurrected their musings in her latest album. She shared a few of these new songs and her sincerity and heartfelt compassion enthralled the audience in a quiet, serene sort of way. Then, unexpectedly, she changed the tempo, closing the session with her infamous and apropos rendition of Thank you - a lovely, spirited reminder that those two little words simply aren’t spoken often enough.
December 09, 2009
AT&T O.P.E.N. to Hear Your Problems
I got a tip about an OPEN iPhone app from an industry friend today. Not an addictive game. Not a handy tool. Not even something so zany you just have to get it (um, raise your hand if you've got the koi pond app). But an app to help you complain about AT&T. From AT&T.
When we at Resource talk about brands being more open to consumer conversations, feedback, opinions and more, we typically refer to things like ratings and reviews, Tweets and general customer feedback mechanisms.
AT&T has taken the idea of listening to customers so seriously that it created an iPhone app so that users can quickly and easily report their problems and get an acknowledgment that the issue was successfully submitted. And the easier it is for consumers to get the right info to AT&T, the easier it is for the company to fix it.
I commend this novel approach to giving users an On-Demand way to communicate with the brand. Right on.
December 01, 2009
Moosejaw Makes the Most of Cyber Monday Madness
We won't know for a few days whether Cyber Monday was a record season across the virtual shopping landscape, but despite technical difficulties--the site was actually down for a while--I'm impressed with Moosejaw's showing on this busy online shopping day.
Clearly the folks at this outdoor outfitter know how to make merriment out of madness. Tonight I received an apology email from the company's CEO explaining that there was a problem earlier in the day, that it is now fixed, and that the site-crashing promotion will be good whether you type in the promo code or not.
While I hadn't actually shopped at Moosejaw today, this email drove me there. And the site was down. Thirty minutes later, it was back up. Then down for a minute. Then up. Hopefully it stays that way.
What I find more impressive than Moosejaw's popular "2X rewards" promotion (which grew to 5x!) though, is the fact that during what could be a major retail crisis, the brand used email, Facebook and Twitter to keep its fans informed about what was going on and make sure they got their deal. Consumer Tweets and Facebook comments are, for the most part, glowing, with only one or two expressing frustration. In fact, one of the evening's Tweets read, "moosejaw.com has the best customer service hands down."
Hopefully the company finds it was a financially profitable day, but regardless, it looks like the brand's reputation is still worth its weight in backpacks, snowshoes and insulated clothing.
October 25, 2009
Thank You for Going on Vacation
Like I need any more reasons to appreciate Etsy and all the talented, thoughtful artisans who have shops there. The great work is only the beginning. Each order arrives with a nice hand-written note, special wrapping or even a little something extra from their studio.
Etsy artists sure know a thing about service.
Here's one extra great Etsy find--and not just the creative, eco-friendly prints. This particular artist has taken a fresh take on "Gone Fishing". Recognizing and supporting consumers' expectation for on-demand experiences, she posted a large note right on the front of her store announcing the fact that she's on vacation until November 5, so any orders placed now wouldn't be shipped until November 7. Vacation in the digital world? Personally, I'm a fan....I think we could all use a little more time off than we take. This artist didn't just ignore incoming orders or quietly delay shipping, she exceeded expectations by being transparent and by discounting any order placed during her vacation by10%--including shipping.
I love that the artist powering that digital storefront feels real, accesible-even if she's on vacation for a few days.
October 14, 2009
Making Lemonade out of an Offensive iPhone App
What is surprising is that it's not all bad press.
Yes, there are some very unhappy people, a lot of them women. And not just with the energy drink brand, but with the mother ship, Pepsico. And there are plenty of people who just think it's no big deal.
What I find worth talking about is how the company is handling the situation. While they've not said if they're going to pull the app, they issued an apology via Twitter and introduced a #pepsifail tag.
From Advertising Age:
"Still, introducing a tag that associates your brand with a fail is a bold move and one that ensures the brand is a part of the conversation. PepsiCo has quickly addressed the issue, before it got too far out of hand. And it has ensured the conversation is easy to monitor, which will certainly make it easier to plot its next moves."
Right or wrong. Offensive or not. Nice recovery. Definitely smart (and, of course, very OPEN of them, focusing on this new, complicated network) to jump in and be as close to the center of the conversation as possible.
September 20, 2009
Recession-Rewired Keynote at Shop.org
My suitcase is packed and ready to go. Vegas bound once again! Can hardly wait to reconnect with so many industry friends, clients and colleagues at Shop.org's Annual Summit.
Despite the economic environment, all indicators point to a record-breaking crowd...amazing! My keynote - Recession-Rewired - focuses on a key lesson learned from our last major recession, how moms and teens are navigating the recessionary times and takes a new look at their co-shopping journey. We also prototyped a few low cost innovation scenarios and solicited feedback from teens and their moms in a 10-day online forum. I'll showcase the prototypes and some of the things we learned in that study. After the conference, I'll post a link to my preso if you're interested. Stay tuned!
August 27, 2009
Kodak OPENs Up About Cart Shock
Consumers told Kodak shipping costs were too high.
So Kodak decided to test a free shipping policy.
Kodak asked consumers to let the company know if they like this.
This is starting to look a lot like a dialog to me.
I love that Kodak is acknowledging the issue of "cart shock," which, even as a veteran online shopper, I still feel on occasion. They're also calling out the consumer behavior of waiting for the next sale to place your order. (And they do have so many that it's never a terribly long wait, but still, I want it when I want it.) They're not criticizing this consumer behavior or concern, rather they're trying to solve it.
And, Kodak is doing something about it in a personal way. They're not just dropping shipping costs, they're communicating that they are doing it and why they are doing it.(I'm still a bit amazed that they can offer "free" for orders as small as $5...but I'm sure someone's running the numbers) Last, they're asking for their customers' feedback and support to, "Help make free shipping last forever." Again, good prompting for dialog, however, I caution reference to "forever" -- nothing in retail is forever, especially in this economic climate.
Maybe they're banking on recession-weary consumers having short-term memory?
August 26, 2009
Keen about OPEN
Even though my vacation.has come and gone, I love the spirit behind this email from Keen. It's as playful and rugged as the brand, and it's so much more engaging than the smart but boring "View our top-rated (fill in product category here)" emails I've seen a lot of lately from other brands. For the record, I do think it's great that brands like Williams-Sonoma and LEGO promote consumer reviews in emails, but this example from Keen moves beyond the notion of being helpful and creates engagement.
I'll admit it was a bit of a let down--when I clicked through the photo of the sandal-clad bride and groom, hoping to see a fun tidbit about how their rugged Keens took them to the altar and straight to the honeymoon--I landed instead on a typical product page.
I get it, at the end of the day, they're selling sandals not vacations. And there IS a link in the email (just maybe a little too subtle) that goes to the Keen HybridLife Community. I do see lots of O.P.E.N. sparks on this site and blog. I'm keen to see more....(okay, too corny).
August 25, 2009
Twittering Away the Summer TV Break
An associate was telling me about her addiction to last season's crime drama Castle, on ABC. The show follows mystery author Richard Castle (played by Nathan Fillion) as he helps his writing muse--a police detective--solve cases.
It seems the folks at ABC aren't letting the summer hiatus pass them by without engaging fans. For six weeks, Castle (the character) will be on Twitter detailing his latest mystery as he procrastinates finishing his novel.
Followers of @WriteRCastle can serve up who-done-it theories of their own, and more importantly, keep the show fresh in their minds before the September 21 season premier.
No word if Fillion is behind the Tweets (although he is a follower), or if series writers are keeping fans updated, but it's definitely a prime example of relevancy and authenticity (if not just sheer entertainment) in social media.
I wonder if Jack Bauer has time to Tweet during a slightly less harrowing day. ; )