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4 posts from April 2009

April 28, 2009

What Predicts The Ability To Innovate? : Some Perspectives From Pixar

800px-Pixar_-_front_gates


NASA had a problem.  What's the screening criteria for a job that's never been done before - like going to the moon? Namely how do you find those guys (and it was guys then) who have the highest predictive chance of success at something that has never been done before?  They found test/fighter pilots.  But in more general terms, they found a talent pool of people who had failed and recovered.  (It's rather apparent what happened to those who had failed and NOT recovered.)  The generalized criteria:  Error recovery (meaning resiliency and adaptability) and NOT failure avoidance. 

Now think about this same question in terms of today's media or technology companies - whether at the business or individual level. If innovation is determined as a key to differentiation and success, and innovation means doing something that has never been done before - then how do you define the talent criteria and what are the predictors?  Where and how do you find your version of "test pilots cum astronauts?"

Randy Nelson of Pixar provides an interesting take on this question, essentially breaking it down into four criteria.  The video and some key takeaways:

  • Depth: How do you find the "parallel predictor" of someone who will succeed at something new? Look at what else in life they have mastered on a personal or business level. "Mastery in anything is a good predictor in mastering the thing you want done."
  • Breath Breadth: Narrowness is sometimes the thing you get with depth and this needs to be balanced by breath.  You don't want a repetitive one trick pony again if the challenge is going to be to innovate.  You want "someone who is more interested than interesting."   This is indicative of a problem solver; someone who will lean into the problem not just acknowledge its existence.
  • Communication: "Communication is a destination, not a source." It is not something that the "emitter" can measure, although plenty of times we get that judgment.  Only the receiver of communication can measure it.  The listener is the one who can say they get it. 
  • Collaboration: "Collaboration is not a synonym for cooperation; it is not cooperation on steroids."  Innovation requires many people working together; it's not a one person job.  So you need a system or protocol that allows people not to get in each other's way and enables them to amplify what each is doing.





Lesson?  In the innovation economy, stop looking for someone who has done it before. Look for someone who has done something else amazing before (and not necessarily in the same business.)   Egv_tiny_blogicon

 

 

 

(Note: Thanks to Edward Boches, Chief Creative Officer of Mullen, for initially sharing this video via Twitter.) 

   

 

 

April 19, 2009

Ashton Kutcher's Billboard - Possibilities Beyond Celebrity for the Future of Broadcasted or Public Social Media

Twitterashtonpicframed

One of the 1,133 digital billboards provided pro bono by Lamar Advertising in the race to a million followers against CNN. 

     -  From a story in Advertising Age


If you work in the social media space or are a CNN or Oprah viewer, it was nearly impossible to not know about the "race to a million followers" on Twitter last week between celebrity/entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and CNN's newly acquired account (@cnnbrk).  Kutcher started the challenge slightly trailing CNN, but used YouTube-distributed videos and calling on his more engaged social media followers to surpass Larry King/CNN's cable TV promo efforts. The "celebrity" facts: Kutcher passed the million mark first and appeared on Oprah (@oprah) to be crowned "king of Twitter."

But what else might this mini-digital duel reveal beyond the obvious celebrity vanity stories and the growing importance of social media bylines?

Benefit for social ventures and charities

Consider that as part of the challenge, the winner agreed to donate 10,000 mosquito nets (the loser 1,000 nets) to April 25th’s 2nd annual World Malaria Day. That means 1,000s of people will have additional protection against a disease that threatens 40% of the world's population and  infects 500 million people a year. And Twitter is full of "tweets" about additional donations coming in from everyday people as a result of the awareness brought about by the race and subsequent interviews.  That's a win.

Other celebrities including Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) and social entrepreneurs have been using the platform as well to engage an audience predisposed to quickly responding to and sharing information.

Near future traditional/digital media mashups

Let's go back to the digital billboards at the beginning of this post.  Not sure in terms of any measurement that might exist what they contributed to Kutcher's tally.  But the more important aspects to consider are two fold:

(1)  Since the billboards are digital and connected to a network, the message/creative could be programmed and distributed (and theoretically updated/changed) nearly instantaneously to the 1,000+ screens.  No printing turn around time.  No guys on scaffolds with buckets of glue. The content was nearly immediate/real-time.

(2) Now what if (for safety's and reading time's sake) that the screens had been indoors, like those we see at Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, etc. AND that the screen network's application set was sophisticated enough to take both the simple "old school" billboard message and combine it with real-time information of interest via a feed. On the simple end this could just be a tally of number of followers updating, perhaps with an additional message encouraging peple to join in via their cell phones while they were waiting in line.  Something more complex would be a real-time "curated" feed overlay to the screen of the relevant "tweets" about both the "million follower race" as well as information about Kutcher's malaria cause.

All of the pieces to do this today exist.  If you look online at applications written off the Twitter API like Glam Media's Tinker or similar Twitter parsing/aggregation apps from Federated Media like ExecuTweets, you get a sense of what is possible through some design and then integration of an RSS feed into a public digital screen.

Below is an example of what the live Tinker feed looked like this morning for Ashton Kutcher.  Imagine what an "indoor billboard" at a coffee shop or train station might look like with the main visual of the billboard at the beginning of this post,  with an overlay in the lower horizontal part of the screen of the Tinker Twitter stream when the race was still on.


TinkerKutcherStreamFramed  

Other possibilities? 

Here's one. Given that Earth Day is this week - what about a brand doing an Earth Day promo with inspiring photos (professional images and real-time consumer photos) cycling through the screen and relevant tweets of what people were doing that day to help their local environmental efforts, as well as links to activities people could join, appearing simultaneously along the bottom of the screen. Egv_tiny_blogicon



April 06, 2009

Is This Advertising?

IsThisAdertising1

"Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image."

-  David Ogilvy


In this post, three categories of objects are considered: in public spaces, online, and even those that are purchased. Which of these do you consider to be advertising if we consider the following as guidelines? 

  1. Brand image lives in people's minds as a result of their direct and indirect (through media and other people) experience with the product or company.
  2. Advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service.
  3. Advertising provides some level of "experience" with the product before you buy it.
  4. Advertising is a paid medium; you have to pay to place it in the real world or digitally.


Objects Found In Public Spaces

Nike Logoed Shirt: If an athlete is wearing it as part of a paid endorsement, then it's advertising.  But what about when your favorite trainer or running buddy is wearing it?

iPod/iPhone White Ear Buds: In the billboard, TV and print ads, well, it's advertising.  What about the dozens of times a day you see those white ear buds coming down the street? You know what the product is without even seeing it.

Starbucks InStore Music Screen: In about 600 Starbucks stores in the US, there are flat panel screens that provide information on the music that is currently playing, and to my knowledge, not paid for by the music companies or artists.  But doesn't it serve the other "non-paying" criteria of advertising, and couldn't it become that?  Easy to make happen since WiFi is right there with easy one click access to the iTunes store for downloads.

Obama Poster: Post the election and pre-inauguration, Moveon.org raised money by selling postcards and posters, as well as limited edition version ($500) signed Shepard Fairey posters.  In many a window in San Francisco.  Good promo for brand Obama, yet initiated and paid for by others.

Planet Dog Sticker: Seen in the back window of many a station wagon, this sticker costs $2.  And for that you get to state your canine affiliation as well as promote someone else's brand of which you may or may not have purchased one of their toy products.

 

IsThisAdvertising2

Objects Found Online

"Will It Blend?" YouTube Video: Well-known series of videos produced by the blender company that have pulverized anything from an iPhone to glow sticks, often at the request of fans.  Produced by the company with a "home-made" feel.  More than six million views.  Free distribution on YouTube and in many an article on "viral videos."  Blender sales conversion rate?

Rachel Maddow Show Facebook Page: 50,000 fans to go along with over 200,000 followers on twitter.  Experience brand Maddow through notes, video links for the shows; as well as other stuff she likes that never makes it to broadcast.

Twitter Page of Zappos CEO: More than 350,000 people can't be wrong.  And if sold one pair of shoes to each per year - that's millions.

Hunch Public Beta Invite: Great "welcome" letter/FAQ from Caterina Fake gets you interested in and sharing the "brand" before it even does anything for you.  And your participation is actually critical to building the functionality and value of the product.

HGTV Widget: Weeks on my Facebook profile page and I didn't win.  But did I think about HGTV each day that I logged in even though I wasn't watching cable ... yep.


IsThisAdvertising3

Objects That Are Purchased

Whole Foods Shopping Bag: $2 to avoid paper bag shame and carry them into stores other than Whole Foods, even competitors. Sorry Mollie Stones.

Kleenex/Hannah Montana: I am sure that money exchanged hands here to place image and logo of pop idol on tissue box -- but which way?  Brand Miley may well have more power than brand Kleenex, so cash may have gone upstream instead.

"Unstuck" Book by Founder of SYP: A well written book on its own, but also a great promo vehicle for the SYP agency and great client pitch leave behind. Old school print version only; not on Kindle yet.

Starbucks Cup (old version with "The Way I See It" quote): I loved the old "The Way I See It" quotes on the Starbucks cups from people like Keith Olbermann and Jeffrey Sachs.  Currently they're using quotes from "real" customers.  See me with my soy chai walking down the street may not be 'advertising,' but if the cup is on a talk show host's desk?

What's The Point?

Lots of other examples to be sure. That SmartCar or Aptera parked on a busy public street. Those custom Nike ID shoes my trainer wears with a "swoosh" color of his choosing. The Motorola logo on the headsets the coaches are wearing on the sidelines at the SuperBowl.  When I change the name (or some form thereof) of a company to a verb such as “tweeting” or "googling" and use it in an email, blog post or magazine article. Other ideas?

Lesson Learned: Not everything that builds brands is paid advertising. Sometimes the conduit of the message is free or people might even pay for the message itself. Egv_tiny_blogicon


(Note: Thanks to friend Michael Markman for suggesting the iPod ear buds and SmartCar as examples in this post.)
   

April 03, 2009

Digital World Meet The Real World - An Audience And Media Model

MediaStrategyCircles

This is a simple model for looking at the meta choice relationships for a brand/person/program between its audiences and communities, response goals (emotional and intellectual), and engagement/distribution platforms.


Center Circle: This is the initial source or core entity which can be a person, brand, network, program, movement, etc.


Second Ring: With your core subject area at heart, this is about the identification of the high level breakdown of the audiences/communities that are important for you to engage with.  This may include both individuals or organizations that already know of you or do not know of you, who are your advocates, detractors or are passive bystanders.  If what is at the center is completely new, then it is about finding communities "talking about" (meaning anything from micro-blogging and ratings to full blown blog posts or videos) relevant related subject areas.

This is the time for some "digital anthropology" of listening and learning before engaging appropriately. It's also time for finding the influencers, ambassadors and action-oriented conversation leaders and media creators through observation, as well as through a variety of social media influencer tools such as those from social marketing companies like BuzzLogic, and new conversation comment trackers (the class of startups such as SparkWords, Kutano, Reframe It may evolve into this).  A careful parsing of popular vs influential individuals is in order, segmented by content area.


Third Ring: What is the engagement result for which you are striving - both emotional and intellectual?  What's the tone in which you are going to deliver and then what's your expectation back from the audience/community?  And are you "prepared" for the unexpected?  Data may be important, but it is passion that drives things forward.


Fourth Ring: This is where one needs to become wary of the obsession with the newest "shiny geeky object," particularly in digital space.  There are literally dozens of distribution/engagement categories with hundreds of companies and technologies populating them.  It's easy to get swept up in the "Twitter-verse," and forget that what's right for one is not for another. That said, a healthy dose of clearly defined experimentation is always important.

It is critical to link thinking about the fourth ring "distribution/engagement categories" to a traditional and technology-based understanding of second ring "audience/community." In "Groundswell," Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff coined the term “Technographics”  - as similar to demographics and psychographics, but with a focus on developing profiles based on technology behaviors. Before a mixture of real world and digital world distribution/engagement models can be selected, it is critical to know the distribution model of the people with whom you are hoping to engage. Are they at one end of the spectrum as creators who are active bloggers or video creators/uploaders; somewhere in the middle where the might comment or rate on content created by others; or are they passive readers or viewers who don’t leave a “visible” footprint. One can see how critical this understanding is if you look at an example of launching a consumer generated media campaign to an  audience with a technology profile that is dominated by raters/commenters.  Not much is going to happen in that case as the activity does not translate to the audience, even if the subject area is relevant.


Fifth Ring: There is incredible power to be found at the intersection of the Digital (Web) and Real (Live) Worlds. Life is lived in both places.  No matter how much the Web has evolved, you can't (yet) touch objects as you can in the real world to create powerful sensory physical experiences and memories.  And nothing in the real world can reach the potential of the Internet for distribution and democratized exchange that pierces geographic, economic and social borders.  Think of the power where one can feed the other in relationship with appropriate audiences/communities. Egv_tiny_blogicon


The media model in this post is not about the interrelationship between a particular selection of  real/digital distribution and engagement vehicles; it is about the high level portfolio of choices.  There is an earlier post with an example of interrelated digital and real world distribution/engagement vehicles for a theoretical campaign.


    Or

Liz Gebhardt


  • © Amanda Jones
    Digital and traditional (live & broadcast) media/ marketing strategist and producer living at the intersection of Web meets (live) World. More than two decades of experience in building media and technology businesses, content programming and distribution, brand stories and integrated communications campaigns.

    Believes that strategy is all talk unless it can be executed in a way that delivers on both the creative and business promises. Embraces the role of navigator of the uncharted path vs. passenger along the known road.