Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cool Content Curation Tool: Storify Opens For Business

Curating information generated by social media always seemed like an innovation waiting to happen. It’s time has come.

Meet Storify.

Storify is opening its beta to the public. Now, many more people have the chance to tell stories using this publishing platform that will help journalists and content creators find the nuggets of news and micro-narratives that can blow open a bigger window for the public to view current events.

Want to know how it works? Check out Robert Scoble’s interview of the Storify founders:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

From the archives: RenGen Brand Trinity

RenGen brand trinity that I wrote about in AdWeek generated several emails. It must have struck a chord among marketers craving a little perspective in times when consumers are closing their wallets and hunkering down.

       I Developed this graphic schema we hope you'll find useful. You can bring it to your next meeting, or email it to colleagues so everyone is on the same whiteboard.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Found Art: Catherine Karnow

One of my great joys in life is getting the chance to work with remarkably gifted people. Catherine Karnow is such a person. Her photo of an Agent Orange victim, Nguyen Thi Ly, has won 2nd place in Pictures of the Year International. Brava, Catherine! We're so proud.
"Nguyen Thi Ly: Agent Orange Victim", by Catherine Karnow
For more photos and to hear the story, watch Catherine's video, Agent Orange: A Terrible Legacy

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On my nightstand: An Improvised Life by Alan Arkin

My son graduates from college next month. Because I am the target of his college’s marketing campaigns, I know that one of its famous alums is Alan Arkin.

Maybe it was because I was feeling sentimental about Emmet's impending graduation that I was inspired to read Arkin’s An Improvised Life: A Memoir. It’s not what I expected. That’s a good thing. Arkin leads us through his career as an actor with little bravado and plenty of candor. His re-telling of the Second City days offers a window into how new genres break through from the imaginations of people willing to take risks with their egos.

The humor is dry and delivered sparingly, so I found myself enjoying a few full-throated laughs. For instance, he recounts how he, a young man with failing grades, won an acting scholarship to Bennington College. By interviewing with part-time admissions counselor and English faculty Howard Nemerov, who would later be named poet laureate of the United States, the two bonded over multiple martinis. With a handshake, Arkin was in. When his dismal transcripts arrived from Los Angeles County Community College two weeks later, the admissions office exploded. But it was too late. “By then the professor and I were drinking buddies. I was Nemerov’s guy.”

The book’s a fast, fun read. Dialogue is thankfully quick and sparse, helpful for internet-addled brains like mine that find it harder and harder to read dialogue in print. I especially recommend the book for aspiring creative types who’ll benefit from having a glimpse into the profound amount of work and perseverance it takes to be Alan Arkin.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Lead Killer Sponsorship Meetings: 5 Hot Agenda Items for A Pitch

We’re entering the busiest season of the year for most sponsorship marketers. Whether you are buying or selling, the next 3 months you’ll be in pitch meetings. Or you should be.

What should be on the agenda for pitch meetings? Begin with the critical challenges facing marketing departments right now. That way, meetings aren’t just a flurry of pitch slides. Instead, you'll find yourself in productive sessions that reveal exciting new ways to tackle bigger problems. It’s like doubling down on the tread mill—read AND walk.

The following list is derived from The Leaders Council, a peer-to-peer sharing group for marketing executives from a range of markets.

1. Leadership & Cultural Change
• Evolving internal cultures from a product to a customer focus
• Building marketing as the perceived “growth” engine of the corporation
• Harnessing focused and disciplined innovation
• Evangelizing marketing across the C-suite
2. Marketing/Brand Value
• Justifying marketing expense in a climate of cost cutting
• Using consumer positioning discipline to achieve low/no cost share gains
• Revenue driving rebranding due to organizational change or acquisitions
• Making the case for brand “investment” vs. expense
3. Customer Insights and Relationship
• Increasing customer lifetime value
• Making customer insights actionable over disparate sources and time periods
• Hidden sources for customer insights in the selling/delivery/servicing process
• Harvesting opportunity in “bottom 80%” of customer list
4. Marketing Communications
• Social media (WOM, wikis, blogs), brand “consistency” and profitability
• Digital media to enhance customer relations and hone corporate thought leadership
• Leveraging the agency relationship and managing media bias
• Allocation for “testing” vs. “tried and true” to leverage change
5. Product Management & Launch
• Circumventing technical/engineering bias in the product development process
• Objective measures for customer needs and satisfaction
• Creating product differentiation without attribute or pricing advantage
Armed with this, get to work on designing your pitch meeting to address at least one slide per category and everyone around the conference table benefits. Off you go!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Found Art: Cardholder Pride

Cardholder Pride, by the Multnomah County Library
It thrills me to see libraries flex their marketing muscles. Check out this terrific promotion from the Multnomah County Library celebrating National Library Week. It engages users by asking them to flash their library cards with pride.

Is it just me, or does being a library-card holder makes you a certain kind of person? I once dumped a guy because he didn't have a library card.

Here's to Multnomah for encouraging their community with this very cool "if you've got it, flaunt-it" library card campaign.

What about you? Got a library card?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Philadelphia's Plan B Will Attract Pro-social Businesses

Congratulations to the City Council of Philadelphia for unanimously voting to offer tax breaks to all B Corps located in the city. Turns out, research revealed that most B Corps are also contributing to the improvement of the city and the overall reduction of greenhouse gases. Making things official is a brilliant move on the part of Mayor Nutter and his Council to attract hip, pro-social enterprise to Philly.

It’s tax time, so maybe you want to know more about how B corp wins in return?

B corps can qualify for Sustainable Business Tax Credit. There are rules, of course. In Philly, your business has to be located in the City of Philadelphia. Next, "For tax years 2012 through 2017, 25 eligible sustainable businesses shall receive a tax credit of $4,000 to be used against the gross receipts portion of the Business Privilege Tax." That means you've got to hurry up and get your B Corp certified as a sustainable business to get one of those 25 spots.

According to TreeHugger.com, when the City Council of Philadelphia began looking at the B Corps already located within the city, they found a group that is already heavy into green energy, giving back to the community and promoting "practice what you preach." Here's what else they found:
- 72% of B Corps use renewable energy

- 51% percent have public transit or carpooling incentives

- They are 30 times more likely to be located in green buildings
- 82% have programs for community volunteering
- 74% are affiliated with a local charity and are 30 times more likely to donate at least 10% of their income to charity

- 9 out of 10 are locally owned and are 3 times more likely to be owned by women or minorities

- 44% offer some form of employee ownership

- Twice as likely to offer health insurance and retirement plans

- 25% are saving money thanks to their B Certification

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Data Talk Pretty One Day

My love affair with market research gets goosed up when I come across a pretty visualizations of findings. Data visualization is a fusion between art and science. And it’s very RenGen.

We have to face the fact that there are too many facts, period. What our attention spans lack, our retinas can absorb. This isn’t a scientific fact, but feels true.

See what I mean. Check out Visualizing.org. It’s a site dedicated to generating pretty pictures of data for good causes like fresh water, international security and food distribution.

If you are with me on this pretty data fetish, it’s eye candy. I’m telling you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Study: Cause Marketing’s Mixed Effects

New research by Aradhna Krishna at the University of Michigan shows that consumers who buy products linked to social causes end up giving less money to charity.

The full study will appear in the July issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology and using case studies from brands such as Red Bull, will show that consumers who participate cause-related programs with a portion of the purchase price going to a cause, feel less inclined to make direct contributions. 

This is a bold finding.

Wait, there’s more.

Krishna also found that not only can cause marketing result in fewer donations, but it can decrease consumer happiness, as well. 

Expect this study to make wake among cause marketers. I’ve requested access to the full study.

Let me know if you are interested in a drill down on this.

In the meantime, check out the University of Michigan’s press release.

Hat tip David Hessekiel

Friday, April 8, 2011

On my nightstand…

Growing up, I was a tomboy. I spent a lot of time outdoors. Turns out, I wasn’t alone. That’s what my generation did.

My backyard was rare in Detroit. Just beyond my back fence lay the woods where we played until we dropped. We went indoors only when we got hungry or heard our mother’s voice calling us home.

It was not a lifestyle my children adopted, no matter how much I urged them and forbade TV.

Last Child in the Woods is a book about that “last generation of Americans to share an intimate, familial attachment to the land and water.” Louv does a remarkable job of exploring the generational change between Americans inclined to play freely outdoors and the indoor generation that followed. Louv explains why the shift is radical and foretells its consequences.

If you are curious, as I am, about the behaviors and yearnings of young people, this book points out rarely discussed cultural issues about American childhood based on an alienation from the natural world.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Branded City: How Technology is Shaping New Roles for Cultural Institutions

Today, I’ll be talking about the role of technology in place making at the International Downtown Association’s annual meeting. Joining me are panelists Anijo Matthew from IIT's Institute of Design and Rich Bradley, from the DowntownDC BID to lead a rousing discussion of new technologies that are changing the way citizens engage in creating or recreating communities.

From lights and sounds, to solar trash compactors, to security and safety, technology is becoming an increasingly important way to activate and manage place.

Having scouted some emerging technologies at SXSW last month, I am increasing impressed with how technology is facilitating a renaissance for many urban downtowns around the world.

My favorite technologies for building livable communities include Ushahidi, SeeClickFix, and OpenGovernment. Beyond the hi-tech tools, I’ll be talking about the human interface - exactly how city leaders can foster a culture of innovation. Hint: by harnessing educational institutions, museums, and libraries in new ways, it’s possible to stoke the imaginations of citizens and rev up the local idea economy.

Economist Paul Romer and his ambitious Charter Cities project is proving that idea economies are the future--leading to new products, markets, and businesses.

Ideas flower first in our imaginations. Many of the ways we inspired innovation in the 20th century are now obsolete. The old social paradigm delivered public education and community acculturation via public institutions such as museums, universities and libraries. New technologies and information resources are eroding the traditional value of this cultural infrastructure.

It’s time to talk candidly about how cultural institutions can occupy a new and valuable role in cities. And, equally important, how they’ll effectively communicate this role to citizens to drive prosperity in the idea economy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Future of Market Research

For me, giving a keynote allows me to interact with two things I hold dear—people and ideas. When our work involves the things we love, it can give us that feeling of rapture that transcends everyday life. It’s a phenomenon Csíkszentmihályi called FLOW.

Next month, I’ll address the Qualitative Research Consultants Association. To get ready, I sat down with qualitative research master Liz Van Patten to talk about the future market of research. Our chat got me thinking about Kurzweil's singularity.

The more data produced, the more we’ll need super-smart machines to make sense of it. I’ve been fascinated by artificial intelligence since Google began consuming the volumes of the world’s best libraries. I think Kurzweil is on to something, although I see a different set of opportunities spinning off AI. I’ll be discussing those at the upcoming QRCA Symposium.

QRCA is a tribe that shares my lifelong love affair with learning by discovery. Research is one the best parts of my job. I’m ecstatic at the prospect of being among them for an afternoon.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Musée des possibles

To fulfill their future destinies, cultural institutions will welcome playful experimentation with the public.

Try to imagine an antidote to the contentious, head-shrinking town hall sessions discussing a public museum, park or library.

It might look like this:

Musée des possibles from missmoun on Vimeo.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Found Art: The Everyday You

I love the idea of this little app. Everyday simply reminds you to take a picture of yourself everyday. Its value may not seem obvious to the non-narcissists among you. For me, it helps me confront the real me...and forgive her. Our beloved colleague Patric King tipped us off about it.