Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trend: Online Therapy Grows

Wigged out? Need someone to talk to…NOW? Online therapy may be for you. It’s helping hundreds of people get the support they need to get through life’s high-anxiety moments using Skype.

The New York Times reports that encrypted digital software used by third-party sites like, have made online private practice accessible for many more patients to get therapy on the fly.

Expect this trend to grow. Especially considering that a younger generation of tech-savvy patients are coming up through the ranks. One online therapy site,, said it has signed up 900 psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and coaches in just two years, according the NYT.

Digital culture is noisy. Millions of voices call out for our attention. The real impetus driving this trend is the simple fact that everyone’s talking—few are listening.

With listening at a premium, people are willing pay to have access to good listeners. This is just the beginning.

Think about this: we could see “retail therapy” utterly redefined. People may shop just to be listened to. Customer service could start to look more like counseling.

Think about your own marketing. Everyone’s clamoring to nail the right messaging.

Here’s my question: Are you listening?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Subway Tokenism: May the Force Be With You-Lightsaber Handrails

Photo from Digital Trends
Public experiences are a great way to use the culture as a medium. I love this clever promotion in Japan subways that turn hand rails into lightsabers. Hands down it’s a big win in the “surprise and delight” category. It’s both cool and clever enough to deliver online buzz, as well. (Hey, I’m blogging about it.)

The idea is the brainchild of the marketing department at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Japan, which is promoting the recently released Blu-ray DVD box set of Star Wars: The Complete Saga that went on sale in Japan on September 16.
More information at Digital Trends.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Infographic: Best Social Marketing Mix for B2B

Wondering how to integrate social content for better sales pull with your campaign?

This handy infographic will give you something to chew on:
Graphic by BaseOne, posted at Econsultancy

Friday, September 23, 2011

Getting What You Want—6 Simple Things I Did To Get My Dream House

Right now, I am sitting in my cluttered writing studio, which is actually a dining room. Boxes are strewn about, some half filled. I’m restless.

Thing is, I’m getting ready to move.

You bet your boots, I bought a house. Nothing grand. But it's directly across from a 5-acre wood. Well, let me not be too grandiose. It’s more like a giant community park with gardens and a stream. Just outside my new front door lies a lush, verdant place to air out my brain.

It's my dream house: fireplace, cook’s kitchen, and only minutes from the big city. I plan to use the roughed-out attic as a writing garret. With a southern exposure, it’s sunny enough to convert Emily Dickinson into an optimist.

Here’s how I made my dream come true:

1. I made the dream more concrete.
Our imaginations work from the concrete to the abstract, not the other way around. For instance, I blogged it into being, I wrote a letter to myself describing my dream house and mailed it to myself.

2. I made the dream feel close, not far.
This spring, I took to walking in the park to calm my imagination when it convulsed with a fear of abandonment. The house caught my eye. A sturdy little brick house with the peaked roof and a red door. I walked past it every chance I could get. This made the dream seem as if it were part of my routine existence. Close, not far.

3. I let myself believe in small victories.
One day, a for sale sign appeared on the tidy green lawn. I threw my head back and cheered right out loud in the middle of the park. I danced across the footbridge. I made up a little song in my head about the house. When I toured it against the protestations of my realtor (“It’s overpriced by $75K! for God’s sake!”) I truly fell in love. That night, I posted a picture of it on my fridge, poured a glass of champagne and toasted it.

4. I slit the veil of fear.
Whenever I'm afraid to take a big step, I close my eyes and picture a thin gauzy veil that stands between me and what I want. I imagine myself gently parting it and stepping through. My big fear was that the house was beyond my reach. And it was, at first.

5. I stayed everlasting at it.
People tell me I’m bright. If that is true, I should be smarter about letting go of bad things sooner - bad ideas, bad men, bad business deals. The trade-off is that I am tenacious. With patience and persistence I persuaded the family to sell me the house at a fair price. It had belonged to their grandma. It bore an emotional sales price. It’s a flawed cliché to say that persistence pays off. I have a string of failures that prove otherwise. But when it is the thing you both want and need, and it pulls at your heart and makes sense to your head--you stay at it...everlasting at it.

6. I became a time traveler.
I looked back and re-connected with fond memories of every house I ever owned or lived in. I looked ahead and imagined small daily miracles unfolding in my new home: flowering plants and raucous dinner parties where people fight good-naturedly to get a word in. I kept my imagination engaged in ways that formed a joyful bond between me and my dream. And in the process I learned a secret about gives a person courage.

I move next month. After two years of living in a rented flat, lovely as it was, I will again have a home of my own.

What are the first things I will do once the boxes are unpacked?
a. I will build a roaring fire.
b. I will sing songs at the top of my lungs.
c. I will wear a black bra and dance around until 2 a.m. if I so desire...because I can.
The trouble with dreams is that a part of us wants to chicken out. I discovered that dreams need constant reassurance to stoke them. Our rational minds fear that getting our hopes up just isn’t prudent. When I was tempted to retreat to the safety of premeditated disappointment because it kept me in control, I decided instead to gorge myself on fantasy rather than starve myself on fear. It helped and it was more fun.

You have a dream inside of you.

So let me ask you:
When you finally get your heart’s desire, what’s the first thing you will do?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting Clear on Social Media Integration

More and more, social media is being treated like adventure island. Bad idea. Penetrating the culture with your message means mixing it up. More seasoned marketers know that social media delivers best when treated as an essential part of the integrated marketing mix. This slide presentation delivered by Econsultancy’s Jake Hird at Agillic's social media seminar addresses how to tackle the integration of social media into wider marketing and business practices. We found it useful and hope you will, too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Will the RenGen “Like” Luxury Travel? A New Article

Virtuoso is the #1 network of luxury travel advisors in the world. I spoke at their industry conference a few weeks ago. Luxury travel is undergoing a renaissance as people seek downtime, unplugged, free to explore exotic terrains. But like many industries, travel is a non-essential investment.

I was thrilled to set my team loose to unearth where the consumer culture is heading with leisure, travel and a revised idea of what luxury is. Because every talk is its own mini-research project, I was stoked to unveil some red hot data for people. In the audience was Dori Saltzman, a travel writer who was so inspired by what she learned that she wrote this follow-up piece. Thanks, Dori. You honor me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Future Path to Purchase -- Life Without My Wallet

I have an emotional attachment to my wallet. It’s worn and a little tattered, but I refuse to replace it. If Google has its way, I may no longer need it.

A couple of months ago, Google rolled out Google Wallet, giving us a glimpse into the future of payment transactions. The new service uses NFC (Near Field Communication) to allow consumers to swipe their phones to make payments.

But there’s more to it than that.

Google is embedding itself into lifestyles well beyond search. And, as it does, it is altering the culture—for merchants and consumers. Combined with its acquisition of Zagat, for example, the path to purchase for dining will be facilitated by Adwords, reviews, offers, rewards, and swiping your phone.

What Google understands is that lifestyle is largely local. And, for a rising generation of Millennials in particular, lifestyle is the arena where purchasing happens—not necessity-buying or conspicuous consumption, as it was for previous generations. If a product or service lacks relevance at a lifestyle level, it may as well be invisible.

Read the full article and see the video at MENG Online

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm in Scottsdale

Photo by Take A Hike Arizona
I’m in Scottsdale, Arizona today. I’m giving a talk to corporate sustainability leaders. This summit represents an array of major brands in packaged goods and retail. It’s a summit I’m proud to be presenting at. My talk is about reaching younger audiences with a digital culture.

Surprisingly, sustainability is not a slam dunk in big business. In any business. But this confab is here to turn that around.

As I gaze out at the desert from my balcony, I wonder if corporate social responsibility needs rebranding. To Millennials it sounds like school: boring. To fat cats it sounds like taxes.

The sunset is gorgeous over the desert. I marvel at the contrast. Dark and light.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Long Live Passion: Lyric Opera’s Marketing Campaign Gets the Social Mix Right

This past Friday, I got an email inviting me to see Renee Fleming at Millennium Park...FREE.

No brainer.

I quickly gathered together a group of friends via email and Twitter. We trundled our lawn chairs and wine bottles down to the park.

It was thronged.

Sponsoring Ms. Fleming was part of a larger effort to make opera relevant to the uninitiated. The Lyric Opera used the event to launch their new season and their new marketing campaign themed “Long Live Passion”.

People were invited to tweet it up (a hash tag was announced from the stage) and the best tweetsters were awarded a set of season tix.

Ms. Fleming did not disappoint. In honor of the families of the victims of 9/11 she belted out “You’ll Never Walk Alone". People sat in total silence, no one moved, a rare achievement for a rowdy outdoor crowd that size.

We sat next to an elderly couple who’ve been members of the Lyric for 20 years. They were hip and hilarious. We merged our picnics. I helped them back to their car and we embraced when said our goodbyes.

This is why event sponsorship works. It helps people make a human connection. Yes, Renee Fleming was terrific. Yes, it was a soft, Indian-summer evening easy to enjoy. But it was the human exchange that made the event sing.

I counsel my clients to pay attention to the human connections they need to forge to make their brands relevant. As our world and our identities grow ever more fractured, it’ll be the human bonds we make that will be the glue in our lives. And we will reward the brands that sponsor these moments with our loyalty.

Long live passion.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Insight Trumps Data - Understanding Millennial Males

Some groups are better understood through engagement, not surveys. And the psyches of an entire generation of young people are proving nearly impenetrable through focus groups. This juicy article from The Globe and Mail tells the story of how a distiller used a cultural approach to research. By doing so the brand discovered that Canadian Millennial males are mad as hell.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How YouTube Helps You Seed Excitement at Pre-Launch

Check out this energetic take on 100 years of East London fashion. It zips by in just 100 seconds. If video is all about virality, it’s already an epidemic. It earned a whopping half million views within a few days. And, it’s a great way to pre-launch with some message you want people to share.

The video is being used to promote a new shopping center in the heart of London’s fashion district. It’s a great example of the role we’re seeing video playing in the digital culture. It’s all about generating excitement and anticipation. It borrows from its movie trailer ancestors in this way.

Note there is no heavy call-to-action. That comes later, when your campaign is at the starting gate. After you’ve got the audience liking the cut of your jib.

Hat tip to Simply Zesty.