Monday, November 30, 2009

The Five People You Meet in a Sponsorship Pitch: Part 2

Last week I started a series for Sponsorship Mondays introducing you to the five people you meet in a sponsorship pitch. I began with Echo Chamber Ellen and mentioned that this week I'd introduce you to Alan the Alpha. In the spirit of the holidays, I've chosen instead to describe Friendly Fran.

Friendly Fran

Friendly Fran is downright amiable—consistently so. She ducks conflict. Competition among colleagues fatigues her. When dissonance occurs, she rises to resolve it. And she’ll look to you for help with that by asking you for examples and anecdotes to satisfy any mental bullies in the room.

Level of power: Medium

Level of Influence: Medium to high

Power style: Collaborative

Reason for being at the table: Fran’s a true team player. In truth, she’s on a lot of teams. Having held several jobs at the company by surviving multiple re-organizations, Fran is emotionally intelligent. Her ability to form bonds with others makes her the glue. People like her not just because she’s so friendly, but because she’s willing and able to take on new challenges without complaint. Her longevity means she knows who has real power, and who’s pretending to. She also knows how to jigger the system. Are there pockets of extra cash somewhere? Can a budget be enhanced? Who’s launching a new product in the building? Fran has answers to things that matter to your quest to land a sponsorship.

The “switch”: Fran wants to make a difference. Accordingly, she responds to people and stories about people. She wants to help, nurture, and be part of a community. In your presentation, use photos of faces—preferably close-ups. Don't use abstractions. For each data point or assertion, use a specific human example to bring it to life. And above all, return her kindness with genuine warmth. Shake her hand longer. Give her plenty of eye contact. If you strike a connection, and she believes in the merit of your offer, she will become an ally.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving: American Food Culture's Defining Moment

The holidays are upon us. As I waited in Chicago's Union Station for my son's train to arrive, I thought about my Thanksgiving menu. Crammed in my purse was the recipe from my sister for her baked sweet potato mousse. It's a cardiac arrest in a casserole dish, but it defines the holiday for our family. As does turkey and my Waldorf salad. None of this is easy to make, of course. But I don't care. Today, I'll close up shop and set to work.

More Americans are cooking and eating at home these days. I guess that's the upside of a down economy. Many are returning to cake mixes and packaged goods that the Hartman Group calls "assistance" foods. Unlike "convenience" foods, they rank higher on the food chain because they still require some preparation and often some fresh ingredients. Or they complement a home cooked meal. Stove Top brand stuffing is a good example.

Thanksgiving is a parade of American food culture. Never is it more true that "We are what we eat," then at Thanksgiving. The meal defines our families, and our nation. What are the defining dishes on your table?

PS--Here's wishing you much love, happiness and all the "assistance" you'll need to enjoy the holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taking the City of Your Dreams for a Test Drive

My first encounter with the city of Philadelphia was back in college. I was there to row in the Dad Vail Regatta. The race drew people to Philly, even when the city was a hell hole of urban decay. Today, Philly's on the rise.

Still, the Dad Vail attracts lots of young, college educated people to visit Philly--125 colleges, 520 boats, 3,300 athletes--people who might consider living there.This week, race managers announced they are pulling up stakes and moving the regatta to Rumson, N.J. Race organizers cited lack of corporate sponsors and little financial support from the city of Philadelphia.

Richard Florida's been urging civic leaders to woo the best and brightest to their cities if they hope to gain competitive advantage. Talent, he argues, is one of the top three lynch pins to economic growth, along with technology and tolerance.

Deciding where to live is a major decision. Cities are brands. Any one who sells big ticket lifestyle brands, cars for instance, will tell you that it's important to create the intent to buy. That's what test drives and sampling accomplish for a brand. The young cultural consumers we recently surveyed had strong feelings about lifestyle and livability in their cities. They want public art, farmer's markets, libraries, public parks and lots of ways to learn.

Cities vying for young talent need a way for people to test drive their city. Our crew team never went to another city without getting lost at least three times. We always saw more of the city than we planned to. We ate in diners. We danced in bars. We checked things out.

This economy is forcing all of us to pare down. We shed things as a prelude to the re-invention process. Death comes first is a rule of a renaissance. Leaders in Philly sacrificed the Dad Vail Regatta to other pressing priorities, no doubt. But I'll wager once it's gone, something like it will have to be invented to replace it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

PopTech's Project M Pushes Mobile to Change the World

It's been a year since PopTech's Accelerator unveiled the groundbreaking Project Masiluke (Project M) to fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa, where infection rates are at 40%. Project M equips people with cell phones that urge them to get tested. If you're HIV positive it reminds you to take your meds, and it connects you with far-flung health resources. It even lights up so you can find your pills at night. It's like having a doctor in your pocket.

How are things going? Well, after just one year the campaign has forged impressive partnerships: FrogDesign, United Nations, National Geographic, NOKIA to name a few. This October, "Have U Been Tested?" text messages were pushed out kicking off the campaign.

It's inspiring that a new idea could rally so many heavy-hitting brands to ride to the rescue of AIDS patients in such a short time. It's more evidence that the values of leaders who sign off on social impact projects are lining up with their audiences.

We'll see more of these initiatives if 3 things happen:

1. The business media take these initiatives seriously.

2. Companies tether their core ambitions to their sponsorship of causes. NOKIA, for instance, uses its involvement to help it crack developing markets (sales); to innovate around life-saving, "must-have" uses for the devices (R&D); thereby ensuring future relevance and marketability (marketing, more sales); and opening doors to powerful B2B relationships that will deliver as yet unforeseen benefits in an unpredicable economy (who's got your back).

3. Customers learn about it and reward the effort. I have a NOKIA phone. (Disclosure: NOKIA is NOT a client.) My contract is up in January. I have options. Because I liked my NOKIA phone, I intend to stick with the brand. Now, I'm passionate about doing so. I will say so when I make the transaction.

The trouble with cause marketing is that it exists at two extremes: cloaked mercenariness or unstrategic soft-heartedness. Project M expands the definition of what is "good" and what is also good business with a campaign that is symbiotic.

Photo courtesy of Tonystl at Flickr

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's in My Bag

This week, I'm out in the field doing research. I love this aspect of my work. I get to burrow into a city and sample all forms of culture hi and low. I eat street food, meet local artists and entrepreneurs. I interview civic and business leaders and prowl underground night spots. Many days I start at dawn and end at midnight. The swinging door that is my life forces me to travel light.

Last night, I gathered my "useful" things to inventory--what needed replenishing and what I could live without. Using the old hikers axiom-- gather what you think you need, cut it in half, pack half of that--I chose carefully. The photo shows what made the cut. If anyone out there has a favorite travel tip or product, I'm all ears. Tell me how you'd improve the schlep!

From left to right:
1. mesh see-through pencil case with tea bags and post-it notes (reduces chaos in hand bag)
2. labeled charge cord for Blackberry (I labeled all my cords this year, which has proven immensely helpful.)
3. Blackberry (in my pattern of crappy timing, I bought it 2 weeks before new iPhone launched)
4. Nokia N75, with reading glasses to read my IMs (the Nokia is a 4 year old veteran gadget that I keep nursing back to health because I so love the feel of it in my hands)
5. Flip video with extra batteries
6. 3x5 cards to take notes and sort them in flight, with Tul (pronounced "tool") markers which are fun and practical
7. various health and beauty aids: comb, Chapstick, Body Shop Vit. C Skin Boost for counteracting dehydration from air travel.
8. Airborne (swear by it)
9. Burt's Bees Hand Sanitizer (new to my repertoire but no less appreciated)
10. Nuetragena Hand Creme (heavy, gloppy stuff that restores skin from reptilian to mammalian)
11. Chewy Rolaids (helpful when research includes sampling food culture that spans taco trucks to music festival food)
12. Del One-Drop breath freshener (carpet bombs your tongue to extinguish coffee breath)
13. Business card holder
14. Sony portable speakers
15. Soft, spongy brief case with Asus mini-laptop (btw I loath the Asus product. It's a fussy piece of sh__--total PITA and customer support at ASUS is among the worst I've ever encountered. Bought it, am stuck with it.)

16. Not pictured is my iPod classic. I forgot I was wearing it when I took the pix and Nikon Digital 3500 which I used to take the shot!

What's in your bag?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sponsor the World You Want to See: Hopenhagen Campaign

Ogilvy has joined the ranks of service firms sponsoring the world they want to see. Their latest innovation is Ogilvy Earth, an international sustainability marketing company. The new unit of the PR giant recently hatched the Hopenhagen Campaign. The goal is to brand the cultural movement around climate change beginning with the upcoming United Nations climate change conference COP15.

Hopenhagen gives Ogilvy Earth a thought leadership position. And it's a fabulous B2B business development tool. For example, Freya Williams, the co-founder of Ogilvy Earth has been out on the lecture circuit talking up the campaign and giving media interviews. The initiative illustrates how competitive advantage increasingly favors those who contribute to positively changing the the culture.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Research Proves Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

What does virtue smell like? According to new research by a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business, it might smell something like oranges.

As part of the new research project, half the rooms were sprayed with a clean scent. The other half were not sprayed with anything.

Northwestern professor Adam Galinsky says those little squirts, and the scent they left behind, made a big difference in how people in his study behaved. Full story

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Good Deal: The Carefully Curated Life

I love getting a good deal as much as the next person. Maybe even more so, given my roots--my grandfather was a horse dealer in Ireland on a grand scale. Decades ago, when the King of England went shopping for a birthday gift for his daughter Elizabeth's sweet 16, his advance men turned up at grandfather's horse farm. They chose his finest chestnut pony. I remember asking my mother if he drove a hard bargain with the King's men. With her chin held high she explained that smart people mutually understand the value of something. Dickering is not required.

The folks at Nielsen recently released research concluding that consumers are demonstrating a "new frugality" that's sticking. Spending is shrinking. Saving is the new chic, suggests Nielsen.

Our own research reveals that while Nielsen is correct in some ways, frugality behaviors vary greatly according to level of education and lifestyle behaviors. Americans who read, buy or download lots of music, carry library cards, attend cultural events and hold museum memberships are constructing a new value equation. They are finding ways to "curate" their lifestyles to maintain those elements that symbolize cost cutting, while re-assuring them that they're not on a forced march to the poor house. They are tapping into free cultural events: concerts, poetry readings, festivals and the like. They are using their public library rather than walking into Borders. They do so to make room in their budgets for "must-have" experiences.

Frugality is one of those cultural dimensions that suggests slow adoption rather than stark change. Our research shows that some people are living carefully curated lives to survive these times. That's a good deal.