Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Creative Marketers Can Learn From Jack White

Summertime is loaded with distractions. The clever Maria Popova shared this interview with Jack White about how to discipline your muse to prevent it from straying. Even when inspiration flags, White unorthodox approach forces his muse to obey him. The little tricks and habits he shares in the video may amuse you. But let’s face it, Jack White delivers the goods.

No matter how tech-heavy the discipline of marketing gets, there must always be room for inspiration. No compelling point of difference, no inventive design, no persuasive positioning has ever been born purely of data.

Here’s to summer, and staying focused long enough to spark your genius.

Monday, July 23, 2012

How I’ll Spend My Summer Vacation

For reasons I can’t fully explain, I feel a twinge of anxiety at the idea of spending hours of idle time on a beach somewhere. I’m lousy at downtime.

So I was thrilled when my client suggested that hold our planning session in Northern Michigan. Beyond being partial to Michigan because I grew up there, I thrill at the thought of doubling down at the white board AND sailing into the sunset off Mission Peninsula.

I will take a brief break from the blog while I’m off imbibing some Pure Michigan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Channeling Martha Graham: Why We Need to Create with New Media

Photo by creativelenna
I found this powerful quote from Martha Graham online recently.

“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Experts agree that self-expression is a powerful force in shaping who we are. As someone who spends a lot of time immersed in the digital grid, I take solace in the fact that it’s a two-way street. We get to shape it, some.

It makes me wonder about the deeper purpose of new media. Is it helping us keep our inner channels open?

The reports of people abandoning Facebook accounts and blogs proves to be cyclical. Eventually, people come back. Perhaps it’s because expression, more than consumption, is what’s important to us now.

How else will we make a new world?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

EBooks and Libraries Forge New Business Models

Watching the digital culture straddle traditional culture has me fascinated with the question of lending digital books in public libraries. Lately, I’ve been thinking this eBook debate is a microcosm of a larger phenomenon: one where established and beloved fields like publishing, art, music and libraries are facing a tsunami of change which thrusts new business models into being.

New E-Book Deals Pop onto the Scene
Earlier this week, Smashwords announced a deal with Califa, the California public library consortium, agreeing to sell up to 10,000 books for lending by California libraries. The biggest advocates for the deal turned out to be the authors. Of those surveyed, 82 percent believed that library access would help them sell more books; almost one quarter were willing to give their book to the library for free. Also, Penguin announced its own experiment with Brooklyn Public Library.

Mutuality matters: Lending e-Books Will Lead to Sales
For years, librarians have understood anecdotally that lending books leads to sales. A new study from Pew confirms it. Increasingly, I’m seeing mutuality as essential to successful e-business. Consider the success of Etsy, Bandcamp or Behance networks, where everyone wins. Similarly, all the players in the publishing food chain are beginning to respect their mutual stake in bridging an alliance.

The Bigger Picture
The eBook development makes you appreciate the tremendous power of the book despite a changing world. Books help people make transitions. They express human situations in ways that teach and inspire. Experience tells us that what we are what we read.

For years, I’ve watched and wondered what would be the force that would undergird the chatty, celebrity-centric cacophony of social technologies to make the experience more substantial. I’m entranced by the idea that two of the oldest fields - publishing and libraries - may be laying some stones to get us across the river into a realm that is more literate, more inspired, and frankly, just more worth our collective time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Social Marketers' New Mantra

Pay attention. That’s what you keep telling yourself, right? But the torrent of information scatters your focus. Until now, you considered yourself a complex thinker. But lately, you crave simplicity. Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. The desire for simplicity is an emerging consequence of social media. New research reveals that consumers want less information from brands.

In a nutshell: The Corporate Executive Board surveyed more than 7,000 consumers and interviewed 200 marketing executives across consumer brands and industries. The key finding: simplifying the decision-making process, so that consumers actually think less about the decision, can give your brand a leg up. Patrick Spenner of the Conference Board, writing for Forbes, recommends three ways to help consumers make decisions:
Trust - Provide customer reviews to help people find the information most relevant to them.
Learn - Create ways for customers to exchange information using forums and social media.
Weigh Options - Make it easy for people to choose from basic product options, side by side. NB: Less clicking and searching, fewer eye movements.
For a while now, consumers have been signaling they want a little less brand in their lives. It’s a tough message for marketers to hear. But the findings are clear: Brands that use information and social media selectively are selling more, not less — 20% more, to be precise.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Growing Fan Base for a 170-Year-Old Circus

A friend and I went to the circus to celebrate July 4th. The Zoppé Family Circus—an Italian family of entertainers—has been in business since 1842. There’s a reason for the show’s long run: it’s like stepping into a wonderland. Nothing fancy or hi-tech.

The Zoppé Family Circus is genuine entertainment, from the vibrantly costumed trapeze artists and jugglers to the dog tricks and clowns. Glistening horses thundered around the ring. It thrilled us all back into a simpler time.

I glanced around. The crowd was enthralled. No cell phones appeared, unless it was to take a picture. This is the magic of live performance. Done well, it still electrifies us no matter how wired our world gets.

I now consider myself a fan. But I don’t plan to Facebook the Zoppé Circus, nor tweet it up. Doesn’t seem appropriate for the fantasy world the performers conjure.

I’m happy just to revel in it and share it here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Will the Future Like Advertising? What Millennials Want from Ads

Does advertising have a future? Ask John Battelle or Mark Zuckerberg and they’d flash a thumbs-up. But recent research shows that the answer is somewhat more nuanced. The folks at comScore report that Millennials don’t log as many impressions from ads as other generations. No surprise there, given notorious nano-second attention spans. More striking is the finding that ads that did break through earned more mind share among Millennials.

“Millennials demonstrated a higher propensity than other generations to retain a lasting impression of an advertisement.”

Here’s hoping that revelations like this will usher in a renaissance in advertising via the digital culture. Until now, online campaigns have favored real estate (banner placement) over creativity. In fact, some people in the ad business are starting to question the validity of their own discipline. Consider Barbarian Group’s spunky protest of digital billboards in Time Square. Their premise is that advertising pollutes public spaces. Said another way, the advertising detracts from life experience.

Last time I was in Times Square, I was struck by the Maxell ad. It's visual shorthand for being blown away. And it’s iconic. Very recently, I had a conversation with my physical trainer, a Millennial, who referenced the ad. She couldn’t recall the brand, just the image

Creating breakthrough advertising for the digital space is critical to the future of e-commerce. It’s not viable to keep launching and growing social networks based on an advertising business model, when so few ads are hitting the sweet spot.

Experts in search marketing believe the future is in pure content delivery, not ads. Time will tell. Still, there has been very little in the way of creative use of the web medium for ads that earn iconic status. Old Spice guy comes to mind--but the banner ad was a pull-through to the YouTube channel.

There is no doubt. The Internet is now the dominant medium. But can it deliver ads that break through in these 3 ways?
1. Visually arresting
2. Delivers immediate emotional connection
3. Life enhancing, not detracting
Oh, and to succeed as an ad, it must sell something. Think about the ads you encounter online. Belly fat sketches and dancing peeps. Meet the criteria? Ruefully, no. Here's the rainbow: it's an opportunity awaiting a the next creative wave of talent. And hopefully, among them, will be Millennials.