Creativity is just connecting things.
— Steve Jobs

Tag Archives: marketing

Thoughts On Location-Based Services

As mobile phones and other devices become more “location aware”, marketers are starting to wrap their heads around this new information about their consumers. I think this presents a huge opportunity to all brands, but most importantly, to those that are trying to improve their customer service/satisfaction reputations.

For example, let’s say you’re a big box retailer that needs to enhance its physical shopping experience. It’s tempting to shortcut the experience by immediately dangling an offer in front of them. The problem is, you don’t know what and who they’re shopping for. Also, you don’t know if they’re a repeat visitor. That rush to the offer alone will really damage any customer loyalty program when you lower the bar too far.

You might say, “So what. I don’t care who* the product is for. I just want to move it off the shelf.”

A lack of understanding of your customer makes you look desperate. Why not just extend the “check-in” range to the entire parking lot and, rather than mobile coupons, just stand on the sidewalk and throw money at people as they drive by? You wouldn’t do that, now, would you? I didn’t think so.

Instead of throwing cash at random people, try to create a content layer on top of the store experience. This content layer can help them make better decisions. Help them declare interest in a product and then build on that information. Help them get answers to their questions without having to run all over your massive store looking for someone with a certain colored shirt. Help them see the benefit of being in a reward program that encourages them to identify themselves via their mobile device). You could go so far as to offer assistance with the simple things by pointing out where the bathroom is in the 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse. Or, tell them the restrooms are equipped with a child changing station. Those things would be possible if your reward program could call those things out in advance. The content layer can be so much more than just a product wiki. Your brand personality is capable of being expressed in many situations outside of catchy taglines and talking animals on tv.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people use their mobile phones in a big box store (not holding it to their heads) and the first thing an in-person sales associate does is interrupt them. They try to get them off the phone and verbally reveal what they’re thinking. Usually, those sales associates get blown off and the customer walks away upset.

By making a mobile app location aware in a more robust way, you’re more likely to make that sale and improve customer satisfaction at the same time.

Jack Morton Social Media Engagement Strategy

With the explosion of social media, Jack Morton Worldwide in Detroit hired me to help them adapt to today’s marketplace. I was instrumental in conceiving eVerb™, a social media engagement strategy. eVerb™ connects Jack Morton’s offline experiential marketing fare to the web by identifying where target audiences “live” on the web and providing high-quality content that delivers the client’s message and brand. It was designed to deliver real-time sentiment analysis, user tracking, and traditional site metrics.

UPDATE: Cadillac picked Jack Morton to help with the launch of the SRX!

Actual project @

See more in my portfolio.

Totally Missing Out

So American Idol is over and the new twist on the post season activities is how they’re lumping the winner with the rest of the top 10. It makes sense from a marketing perspective: Get people to want to see them all in concert. It also makes sense from an investment perspective: They’ve just spent the last several months exposing these personalities and talents, why not keep them in view.

What doesn’t make sense is how Fremantle Media, the in-house production shop responsible for the website and other activities, isn’t utilizing the web to continue this excitement and really, extend their brands. I know this sounds like a post that belongs on my company’s site but it really strikes me as odd that they are not satisfying the one basic thing AI fans wanted all along: A better detailed back story of each contestant. I would assume that now is the perfect time to launch a blog per top 10 contestant that documents their journey in the post-show space. They could talk about ramping up for the tour, the famous people they get to meet, their daily life, etc. I think there is a huge appetite for this content and AI is totally missing out.

Music Notes

I just read an interesting recap of Prince’s career on the New York Times and it got me thinking about some musicians that have come into my view lately: Prince, Billy Corgan, and Buckethead.

They each have their own way of promoting their music in the digital age where everything can be copied and redistributed in a heartbeat.

Prince is by far, the most progressive digital marketer in the music industry. Forget about Steve Jobs. He created the idea of getting music to the masses via the internet without regard for piracy. In fact, he probably encouraged it because at the end of the day, his name was bigger and he was in demand.

Billy Corgan, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. He did have an interesting blog for a while but stopped updating it. It’s too bad because I found his writing to be quite interesting. It mostly recanted old Smashing Pumpkins stories and how they made it big, which is always cool to read since for me, SP just appeared out of nowhere with Gish on MTV.

Recently I blogged about the news that SP was reforming and releasing new musicin a way that flies in the face of Prince’s concepts. He created a distribution deal that was split between four major music retailers. Each retailer would only be able to sell 1 version of the new record. The difference being that each CD had 1 song that was different from the other 3 versions. Talk about bleeding your fans dry.

Then there’s Buckethead. Say what you want about the guy’s name and persona but you can’t argue with his talent and ability to get the word out. Here is a lone guitarist who usually records on independent labels yet has come up with some really interesting ways to promote himself and his music. The most recent example of his ingenuity is his simultaneous release of 13 CDs. (I have heard them, so I’m speaking from experience here.) Buckethead knows that aside from his unparalleled musical ability, his mysterious persona is a major draw. Keeping his mysterious persona in mind, the 13 CD set sounds more like you are getting access to multiple private recording sessions where he plays everything and anything just for you. There is no distracting audience noise or cheering, no overproduced tracks with 5 other musicians (can you say the new GnR?). You can easily picture just him sitting in a studio, pressing the record button, and wailing for hours, hence the CD set title “In Search Of The”. There truly are some really incredible bits in there. He’s not trying to create 3 minute hooky songs for radio. He’s letting you into the studio and hearing bits and pieces of future songs while he’s working on them.

Anyway, the truly unique aspect of this CD set is that he is personally autographing and drawing little things on each and every CD. The response to this idea has been so huge that they’re on backorder and it’s tough for he and Travis Dickerson to get them burned and out the door.

Back to the point of this post. What differs Buckethead from Prince and Billy Corgan is his use of the internet. His website is quite crude, which is odd considering that he’s been an underground music star for about 10 years now. What is most interesting about the site is the total lack of an online store. You cannot purchase music on the site, period. He only links out a handful of sites where you can get his musictypically the recording studio where he recorded the album.

What Buckethead does do is use the power of social media like YouTube. Ok, it can be debated that he “uses it” or doesn’t have time to shut people down, but either way, the popular video site is the perfect showcase for his work. Fans from all over the world post not only videos of him playing live but also their feeble attempts to recreate his musical magic on the guitar. For a musician whose “act” relies on a visual image, online video is the best thing to happen to his career. Regardless of his official stance on the site, when an artist has a bootlegged video of one song that has over 700k views, a guitar lesson with over 588k views, and another with over 442k views, he MUST be happy with those numbers. And those are just the top 3 videos. There are many more with 200k views per video.

Finally, another huge win for Buckethead was his inclusion on the super popular game Guitar Hero 2. His incredible playing and persona was the perfect fit for the game and I’m sure has introduced him and his music to millions of music lovers around the world. My guess is that the next tour he puts on will be sold out in every single venue across the U.S.

So, in the age where it seems the mainstream media proclaims that the music industry is imploding, iTunes is killing P2P sharing, individual artists are taking quite different roads to marketing themselves and sell their music.

Nielsen and Nuts

For the uninitiated, Jakob Nielsen is a usability guru who made his name in the early 90s by criticizing the poor usability of many websites. His voice helped shape the web and is generally respected by just about all in the interactive field and simultaneously despised by designers who consider pushing the envelope a part of their jobs. It must also be said that in the early 90s, it wasn’t that hard to pick apart many websites with regard to usability because the entire industry was just getting started.

On to the topic at hand.

I’m not sure if he just had a bad, long 4th of July weekend, but his most recent “alertbox” posting on his website regarding blogs is screaming out for a rebuttal and is uncharacteristically scatterbrained. It is important to discuss this article because many Marketing VPs and IT Directors who search out advice on any web related subject will eventually come across Mr. Nielsen’s opinion and give it considerable weight.

His summary of the post is this:

“To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead invest your time in thorough, value-added content that attracts paying customers.”

That’s a perfectly acceptable concept if your name is Jakob Nielsen and make your living partly through writing thorough, value-added articles for your website.

And it’s applicable for his first example — a top level consultant whose job is to expound on his expertise in person, not for free elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Mr. Nielsen then heads straight into the weeds where he tries to apply that same logic to corporations.

“Weblogs have their role in business, particularly as project blogs, as exemplified on several award-winning intranets. Blogs are also fine for websites that sell cheap products. On these sites, visitors can often be easily converted and the main challenge is to raise awareness. For example, a site that sells pistachio nuts should post as much content about pistachios as possible in the hope of attracting quick hits by people searching for that information. Some percentage of these visitors will buy the nuts while visiting the site.”

That quote has two points I’d like to address:

1. Blogs are fine for websites that sell cheap products?

Mr. Nielsen really should familiarize himself with Granted it’s not a B2C level blog, yet it still makes an impact on consumers via the media. This blog is regularly quoted by many outlets (on and offline) and its importance to the Chrysler Group’s overall communication strategy is vital.

For example. When the Chrysler Group’s VP of Communications, Jason Vines, took big oil to task on a blog post, the media ran with it immediately:

The Detroit News:

USA Today:

And Jalopnik (an auto trade blog that speaks to consumers):

2. “On these sites, visitors can often be easily converted and the main challenge is to raise awareness.”

If Mr. Nielsen could expound on how blog readers can be easily converted, I’m sure every single marketer on the planet would kill for that secret recipe.

Unfortunately, blasting inbound search engine visitors with pages upon pages of detail on your product isn’t likely to be the best way to “easily convert” hits into sales. Those who stay long enough to read it may become slightly more informed but that’s it.

The question is this: Are people really shopping when reading your company’s blog? No. Probably not. They’re getting a feel for your company’s personality, for your commitment to your customers, products and future. That’s what you’re communicating.


Divine Contact

Um this is a little over the top but I love it all the same. This is a photo of one of the new marketing images that will be shown in Apple stores. Reminds me of the Adam/God touch represented in the Sistine Chapel.

Attractive Things Work Better

From an article discussing the internals of Apple, Inc.’s design process:

Norman cites research in cognitive science suggesting that people’s emotions affect the way their minds process information. In his 2004 book Emotional Design, he writes, “Positive emotions are critical to learning, curiosity, and creative thought. … The psychologist Alice Isen and her colleagues have shown that being happy broadens the thought processes and facilitates creative thinking.”

In multiple studies, Isen, a professor of psychology and S. C. Johnson Professor of Marketing at Cornell University, made subjects feel happy through a number of means, including gifts of candy and words or pictures with pleasant associations. The subjects were then asked to perform tasks that measure creativity; over the course of 20 years, Isen and her colleagues regularly found that subjects exhibited much more creativity when they were in a good mood.

And conversely, Norman says, when you’re in a bad mood, when you’re tense, you tend to be less creative–and less patient with the tools you’re using. “Someone in a positive mood,” Norman says, “faced with something that doesn’t work, might say, ‘Oh, I’ll get around it.’ But someone in a negative mood will get frustrated and have a ‘Damn it’ moment.” That’s where design comes in. “Studies tie attractive design to positive attitude,” he says.”

Homeland Security Issues on YouTube

And you thought YouTube was all about backyard wrestling moves gone wrong or poorly executed viral marketing videos:

From the Washington Post:

Michael De Kort was frustrated.

The 41-year-old Lockheed Martin engineer had complained to his bosses. He had told his story to government investigators. He had called congressmen.

But when no one seemed to be stepping up to correct what he saw as critical security flaws in a fleet of refurbished Coast Guard patrol boats, De Kort did just about the only thing left he could think of to get action: He made a video and posted it on

“What I am going to tell you is going to seem preposterous,” De Kort solemnly tells viewers near the outset of the 10-minute clip. Posted three weeks ago, the video describes what De Kort says are blind spots in the ship’s security cameras, equipment that malfunctions in cold weather and other problems. “It may be very hard for you to believe that our government and the largest defense contractor in the world [are] capable of such alarming incompetence and can make ethical compromises as glaring as what I am going to describe.”


How Lightsabers Work

There is an entertaining writeup on about the inner workings of a lightsaber. The marketing around Star Wars 3 is so bad that even people with feeding tubes should know that the new movie is coming out soon. As if the Evil Emperor M&M’s didn’t spell it out enough for you.

“Important Safety Information
A lightsaber is not a toy! Keep it out of reach of children at all times. Lightsaber locks are required in most states.”


Project Greenlight

Lately, 10pm is the family bedtime but for some reason, I stayed up until midnight watching the premiere of Project Greenlight on Bravo. I am very interested in filmmaking and kinda considering going for my masters in film somewhere, so I thought it might be cool to watch this show from the start since I missed it the last 2 seasons.

This year, the studio (Dimension Films) is having a big hand in choosing which film PG will eventually produce. Mainly because they agreed to finance it. Since Dimension has had alot of success with horror films (Scream, etc.), they wanted to go in a horror direction. After a lengthy script and director entry review period, the main players were able to reduce it to 3 finalists each.

The more interesting parts were during the internal conversations leading up to which film and director would be chosen for the project. What really caught me off guard was the completely ineffective arguing made by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. I assumed they knew how to talk the talk with studio execs. They had no clue. Ben did mention how studio people like to think of films in terms of how they can market them and which will bring in the best ROI.

Unfortunately, Matt didn’t get it. He kept arguing for the “best” director and script, and in Hollywood, that doesn’t mean biggest ROI.

Directing legend Wes Craven, acting as support for the chosen director, tried to argue in terms of technical feasibility and how long it would take and how bad the result would look considering the meager budget.

This was mildly effective although I could tell that the studio execs only saw those as creative limitations that the team would simply have to deal with.

I felt bad for Matt Damon because he is passionate about his work and made that clear, but didn’t provide any kind of alternative to the studio execs in terms of marketing strategy.

The execs wanted to know what the poster would look like, not the final film. Matt had it the other way around.

Matt also made a comment about it is unfortunate that now the “worst” script had to be paired up with the best director, and he was right.

What he didn’t forsee was all the re-writes that were coming up in the next episode. DOH!