Thursday, July 8, 2010


We've moved.... you can catch up with noshoes.... at Barefoot Creative

Friday, May 7, 2010

Storytelling Wins

When I was in university and had to memorize hundreds of thousands of biological terms (I was in premed before I saw the marketing light), I used a very simple memory device... tell a story with the facts. By creating a story -- wildly unrelated to the facts I was memorizing -- I was able to contain about 95% of my test material. Great strategy for my grade point average.
My daughter, pulling-your-hair frustrated with math, went to her older brother to understand long division. He, being much older and wiser, patiently told her a story about Mr. Denominator and Mrs. Numerator. From a frustrated fifth grader, she completed a degree in nursing where math plays a big part in her training!
So why are marketers still reeling off a list of benefit statements?
When we first met Royal Homes, an innovative, module home builder, their advertising was focused on the technical advantages of modular building. While there are many interesting advantages of modular building, especially in a Canadian climate, the lack of "story" behind the information made their messaging unmemorable. We were able to move their message to a story. The audience began to understand the Royal Homes difference because they could relate to the story.
Storytelling is essential for non-profit organizations. Benefit statements and program descriptions do not inspire, stories do. We all respond to stories -- that's why television dramas and movies capture hours of attention each week. That's why Harlequin is so successful.
Skilled storytellers are more than skilled writers. They have an inherent gift for understanding the story within information. They have an aptitude for understanding the "why" rather than just the who and how.
Invest in a skilled storytelling.... communicate with impact!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Simply Savvy

Savvy marketers understand that the foundations of marketing are critical in preparing an effective communication strategy.
For many this simple list is, well, simple. It's important that we don't lose sight of the very basic elements of marketing.
1. Know who you are talking to. The audience! Understand what they are reading (if they are reading); what they buy; what they like to do in their spare time; what are their values. Resist the thought that "everyone" is your audience. You may have several audience segments, but no one, not even Coke, captures the attention of everyone.
2. Develop all of your messaging for your unique audience or audiences -- no matter what your president or board thinks. Defend your communication by understanding your audience so well that you are able to support your communication strategies.
3. Integrate. I know, you have heard that so many times it's almost tedious. But strong integration means that you clearly understand your overall messaging. Your web site, social media activities, print and space, outdoor media, phone protocols -- everything is integrated. Your overall communication plan is driven by a central message and goal -- all of the silos are brought into that plan.
4. Measure. Build success ratios and evaluative tools into your plan. State the results you anticipate, track the activities and evaluate success by those measurements. Push away from getting trapped in internal politics or processes.
5. Your "brand" is not a logo... or an icon... or a palette of colours -- although all of those contribute to the personality. Your brand is the promise that you make to your audience. If you do not have a clearly identified brand promise you will find it very difficult to build a strong and vital brand. Put less emphasis on the graphics and much more emphasis on the promise. All communication activities need to be assessed within that promise.
6. Understand the technologies your audience uses and how they use them. This is critical. People have been astounded and deflated at their interaction with new technologies. Facebook is the perfect medium for some businesses -- not so much for others. Search Engine Marketing can be an incredibly effective draw to your web site -- or have little or no effect. Twitter, while I personally love it, is new and not yet proven.
7. Build partnerships that work. Use an agency or service provider that's a partner. Help them understand the full scope of your work. Insist they take responsibility to deliver results and open the door for them to do so. When results overachieve the goal celebrate and evaluate. When results underachieve the goal, be honest and evaluate the communication strategies. Learn from the failures and the successes.
8. Understand that there are many organizations just like you are... this is very difficult to do. But to understand your unique brand and differentiation, you must understand that your competition has similar products, services and promises.
9. Respond to fluctuations in the market, adapting your budget. This is difficult. No one -- not even Nike has an unlimited budget. Smart communicators evaluate their budget on the goals. When cutting costs, we need to ruthlessly cut activities that do not perform, placing our investment capital in areas that will increase our growth.
10. Don't tell, sell. So simplistic! Every piece of communication should be driven by your goal. There is a trend, especially in the non-profit sector to educate expect a response. That is naive, at best. Simply telling the story, without a clear opportunity to respond -- the "what you can do" line -- rarely brings results. Make Poverty History had huge impact if we consider the number of people who wore the band. But no more money has gone into fighting poverty from the government level -- in fact, many countries in the recent economic downturn have focused their investment on other issues. People have responded with their voice, but not with their pocketbook (remember, they weren't asked to).
Now go back up the list. How are you performing?
Build a strong and savvy marketing team. You will get results.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Let the games begin...

I had a client a few years ago that told me when he arrived at work every day, the first thing he did (after he started his computer), was stretch his hands in front of him, clasp his hands and say: “Let the game begin.”
Jane McGonigal, director of research at the Institute of the Future, believes that gaming is the platform for world change.... as a marketer with 50% of my work focused on the non-profit market, that’s interesting to me.
This week boys, girls, young men and women, old men and women will spend 3 billion hours playing online games. The average child spends 21 hours a week playing video games – that’s about the same time as they spend in school.
She suggests that gaming is a place where we can set the bar to perform at our own level, making an environment where we are rewarded for our performance, where markers of performance are raised as we become more proficient at our game. In the game we are the best version of ourselves.
But, for the most part, we don't believe we are good at life. The realities of life make us frustrated and depressed. So we play games.
Games also provide a social environment where we collaborate for success, playing together for the higher good – so to speak. World of Warcraft is just one example. Millions of people come into the alternative reality and when they come there are hundreds of other characters that are willing to trust you straight away. You are challenged with a mission that’s matched with your skill level. You are inspired to collaborate and cooperate to increase your level of achievement. Ultimately you get immersed in an alternative world in which you can succeed in ways that you can’t in your real life.
Studies also show that games increase our optimism. We like people better after we play a game with them. We learn trust them. Games build bonds.
She calls gaming “Blissful productivity.” Urgent optimism... extreme self motivation – to act immediately to tackle an opportunity and the opportunity to win.
McGonigal has designed several change motivated games. The most recent is EVOKE – a hub of gamers who attack a new mission each week, working together to solve world problems. At midnight every Wednesday night EVOKE sends out a new mission and the participants work together to find solutions to the problem.
McGonigal's research inspired ideas that are still spinning in my own mind.
Barefoot worked with MEDA to create a microfinance site that is built on some of the principles of gaming. The foundational idea of the site is to engage participants, not to develop a passive giving structure that simply requires financial participation. At MEDATrust, donors are able to engage more deeply, getting involved in the issues.
I think MEDATrust is at the cusp of interesting site development. But it is only a very small step towards donor engagement. There are several challenges that need to be overcome:
1. Investment dollars in development. Direct mail is easy. For every dollar I put out in cultivating my house list I will receive from $4 to $20. In acquiring more donors, I am able to set target dollars to mark my success. Boards understand those numbers.
2. Understanding the mass. Mafia Wars on Facebook earns more than $100 million annually because people spend bits of money to increase their digital economy in order to beat their friends. iTunes changes the way music is purchased. For just $0.99 I can buy the song I like. It’s so much cheaper than $20 for the album. But studies show that we actually spend more on music because it’s so easy to spend $0.99. Non-profits are still hanging on to the major donors, resisting investment into the mass to build a stronger, more stable donor platform.
3. Access to resource and the time it takes to make it relevant. We have not yet come to the place where web development has been forced to be intelligent. We are still using digital platforms to dump all of the information we have – because we can. We are coming to the end of that era. Successful web sites will position the organization for growth in engaging, donor centric ways. It will not be an unlimited and inert brochure.
Barefoot is building for the future, working to understand the generation that believes games are the essence of reality.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How dead is Direct Mail

For the past 15 years I have heard the strained whispers of: Direct Mail is positioned for a mighty down turn -- it will be dead in 5 years.
That begs the question: how disruptive is digital to other methods of marketing? One organization just dropped their direct mail strategy because it didn't work anymore...the marketing group determined that no one responds to direct mail today. They walked away from a $6 million revenue source. Another organization still uses the courier font from the 60's, believing that the font increases response. That idea may have had validity in the early days of direct response, but it's really not as effective in today's marketplace. Two extremes.
Every day I hear the whispers dreading the day direct mail dies.
But it continues to live.
I wonder if we are not a little naive in our understanding of marketing.
Perhaps our penchant to "scientifically" segment donors has challenged our marketing minds. Too often we assume that people only respond to one level of marketing. Yet we move with fluidity between our computers our TV's and our favourite magazines. Our intrigue and love of new media drives much of this.
Social media is, without a question, a strong influence in many people. But, with the exception of a few industries, social media has not been the revenue stream most people hoped it would be. The web, while certainly growing, is still often fed through traditional channels. Print, TV, radio, word of mouth nudges us towards the web site. We can stir the pot a bit by SEM, SEO, web banners and social media -- but growing revenue still requires an intelligent mix of media.
Digital is one of the most challenging marketing tools. First of all, it requires rich content. For the first time you can show off your entire product line, corporate vision and staff in one place. While amazing and often effective, it requires a new determination to maintain brand integrity. Secondly, it requires an organizational focus on purpose. The web can, and often does, become a dumping ground of information that is left without active positioning. Thirdly, in many organization the web is developed by multiple stakeholders. Too that sends mixed messages. Finally, the web requires a constant flow of new information. Today's digital savvy web users are not content with week old information. If you want your site well used, invest in content.
The web, while it does not require printing or placement, is not free. The cost of the web is the human resource -- the mind that makes it an amazing source of information, sales and revenue.
Direct mail is far from dead.... but it does require a smart marketing mix and creative approach.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meet Lindsey and Brian

Sylvia Plath wrote: "I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket."
Personally I love change... it's a time of new beginnings, new ideas, new opportunities. Barefoot Creative lives with change -- mostly due to new babies and maternity leaves. Ordinary things that often spin off to change many things.
We are very pleased to introduce Lindsey Spencer and Brian Cotie. Lindsey is joining our team as an account manager. She is well equipped to give clients a great experience at Barefoot! Brian is a writer and brings a lot of interesting perspectives to our writing team.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tut! Tut! Tiger....

OK.... it's a pretty big challenge.
Nike has paid Tiger Woods a lot of money to stay in the game. But when the big boys of the game slap his fingers in public Nike gets antsy. Can the great one fall?
Well he fell -- what's happening now is spin.
But the spin took a very interesting angle as Woods stepped onto the green this week. The Masters are big. Woods coming back, wife in tow, is bigger. Even people who don't follow golf have followed the story.
The advertising agency approached it somewhat head on. But they made a mistake.
The ad -- you can watch it on Anything Hollywood, unless they pulled it off. (When I went straight to You Tube it told me that it was taken off by the person who put it on.)
37% of viewers were skeptical and saw the ad for what it was: an ad. But 44% were simply confused. Will they buy Nike? I'm pretty sure they will. Will question Nike's campaign tactics? I think so.
What did you learn?
Maybe putting a sulky adult Tiger Woods on air for 30 seconds and listening to his father lecture him was not the most astute approach.
Our lesson.
Managing spokespersons who go astray is very hard. You're really caught between a contract and a hard place.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm really, really not famous....

This little quote popped up today:
Ad agencies are great… if you’re already famous

The advertising and marketing world is typically focused on the big guys and for good reason. They have the most to spend, and their dollars are highly coveted by agencies vying for their business. The problem is that most of us aren’t multinationals and few of us have budgets like theirs to devote to marketing our companies.

You can find this quote in Eric Karjaluoto's book: Speak Human.

The problem with really reductive statements like this is.... well, they are reductive.

Barefoot Creative is an advertising agency. We are not famous. While we do work with some "famous" clients -- even the most lucrative budgets are spread over a huge revenue need. No matter how generous the budget, there are always limits.

Perhaps, for just a moment, we can lose the "poor me I'm a small company and I can't put an ad on the Super Bowl game" and consider the purpose of advertising -- increased revenue, product launches, sales, acquisition of new customers. Big budgets have to work hard to accomplish a big task -- little budgets often accomplish the very same percentages, the actual dollar amounts are just smaller.

Depending on the client, the audience, the goal of the particular campaign we choose different tools, different spaces and different scopes. Smart, small companies choose advertising agencies because they understand that the agency is not about buying time, placing media or hype. They are about advertising.

Your advertising agency is there to increase your organizational revenue. The team is trained to make that happen. Too often small businesses have little experience in understanding the cost effectiveness of advertising. When you choose the advertising agency that understands your business they are able to help you apply strategies that will be effective, making your advertising budget work for you.

Like I said..... I'm really, really not famous. And many of our customers are mid-sized, even small organizations. BUT they are growing!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Technology: Friend or Foe?

Have you recently invested in an online platform that has dynamic applications ensuring a rich user experience?
If you've seen Fun with Dick and Jane think about the 3 minute sales pitch that Dick uses. Chalked full of buzz words, he may be selling air.
Because Barefoot engages highly interactive strategies for online marketing, we are always looking for innovations. We hear the sales pitch and think -- WOW, there's something there. But after digging a little deeper we discover, well, air.
I looked up web providers who were selling a "dynamic" experience. You may have heard that word bandied about. I discovered that for $500 I could purchase a dynamic web site. Some of you reading this probably wish you had purchased that software because you paid a lot more for your dynamic experience.
Of course, those dynamic web sites were simple templates with some ability to content manage, usually online. (One does wonder how else one would manage an online tool, but I may too old to understand the complexities of the online world).
I am also intrigued by the many social media applications -- especially in fund raising. As if social media will suddenly revolutionize the hard work of raising funds. Engaging social media is simply today's version of my mother who volunteered for the Cancer Society and went door to door to gather money for a worthy cause. With social media we can open doors that are further afield, but it's still a volunteer activity that will render low results (with the exception of high profile, media supported emergencies).
Technology doesn't change foundational marketing intelligence.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Middle Donors

If you're a non-profit and raise money from private donors, we would like your help in understanding middle donors.
About 45-50% of our clients are working in non-profit sectors -- many dependent on private donations. Growing revenues in an adverse economy is a challenge. Middle donors are an often neglected donor group that has high loyalty, consistent giving and, over their lifetime, significant contributions.
One of our clients took an extremely bold leap a couple of years ago. They stripped the middle donors out of their regular monthly fund raising mailings. Considering that this group gave substantial funds, this was very brave!
But it made sense.
We created a unique stream for them. The mailings always contained a strong profile of need. But we extended the format so we could explain more clearly and with more detail. We increased the offers and always included a reach offer. The giving multiplied by many times. These donors gave less frequently, but they gave much higher gifts.
On April 1 we are starting a middle donor research project. If you choose to participate, you will get a complete copy of the research and a personal research paper that focuses on your donor segment. We will also deliver the results in a private meeting with, well, me. We will need an interview with your lead development person and the e-addresses of a segment of your middle donors.
So if you'd like to participate in the middle donor research study contact Larry... or 519-571-5058 x 206.......... results will be distributed in August!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Design Intelligence

Kev and I were chatting about the influence of design in marketing. He has great insights into design intelligence. Like most great insights, it's stuff that is floating in the back ground of our minds but too often we don't let it come to the forefront and really impact our work.
He sees design intelligence for marketing as one of the most critical components for impacting and motivating choice. But too often marketing teams don't use design intelligence. Some designs are totally consumed by layout. That's the technical skill behind great design: white space, typography, use of colour, clean lines, careful attention to grids. While great layout makes the piece pretty -- it's doesn't push the edges towards brand personality, marketing principals and offer insight.
On the other extreme are the marketing teams who sacrifice design intelligence for fine art. Fine art is focused on the visual experience -- not the message. The message is often subtle or determined by the viewer. It belongs on living room walls and museums.
Great marketing motivates and inspires action.
Design intelligence starts with understanding the overall goal, the underlying challenge, the audience, human motivations and, maybe most of all, takes the designer out of the picture.
As we were chatting, we were musing about a piece that we did for a client many years ago. Both of us hated it. While the offer was intact and the design intelligence was strong in understanding the overall brand and the motivations of the direct audience -- our visual minds were really turned off.
It was the second highest performing acquisition piece that year.
That taught us a lesson. Our overall goal was to communicate to the audience. Frankly, neither of us were the audience. While neither Kev or I would be motivated by this piece -- we were not the people the client wanted to motivated. The biggest mistake marketers make is to allow our own preferences to interfere with truly understanding the audience.
One more story.... when my son was about 2 years old my husband and I worked in a kid's program. One of the features of the program was a dorky beanie that had a helicopter blade on the top. On the way home I was nattering about the lack of sophistication of the premium when Chris piped up from his car seat: "I can hardly wait until I can get one of those hats!" The designer of the program was bang on in assessing the level of sophistication of the audience.
Design intelligence refuses to be tainted by personal taste. It is objective, rational and results oriented.
Barefoot Creative is looking for a designer as I write. Without a question we are looking for a designer with design intelligence!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


If you listened to Age of Persuasion last week, you got a glimpse of two marketing styles -- Ogilvy, which has perfected a system and DDB, which relies on the guts. Both effective and strategic agencies. Just different styles.
My own experience tells me that great marketing relies on three T's: Technique, Time, Talent.
I had a little personal experience on Saturday that reinforced these three "T's".
I took a painting lesson.
Now, to make sure you don't misunderstand my story: I do not have, have never had, continue not to have any training, experience or talent. But I had an idea.
So I took my idea to an expert and asked her to help me do it..... Donna (my expert friend and amazing artist) bravely took on the task.
I presented my story board for 4 large paintings I wanted to do. I even sketched them in a book aptly titled: "Sketch Book." Just so that you're still with me, pencil sketches in a book titled "Sketch Book" are not necessarily sketches.
But to Donna's credit, she caught the idea.
So over the next 2 hours I expected to learn the technique and accomplish a painting.
At one point, during a quick colour lesson, Donna did mutter under her breath that some people studied this for years. I think she was suggesting that my desire to accomplish it in an hour was unrealistic.
Mostly what I accomplished was producing a brown, four letter word, colour product. I produced a lot of it and in varying shades. I also used about $35 of acrylics to produce it (she didn't let me buy brushes yet).
In that two hours I learned -- or learned again -- what I often say about desk top publishing programs, self-made marketers and quick fixes to difficult communication problems: Technique + Time + Talent = Great Marketing.
1. There is a technique (like Ogilvy learned) that works. Donna had mastered the technique. Confident strokes of red, yellow, white, and blue created this amazing tree -- on her canvas. It had depth, shadows, contours, light. Mine was just -- well, thick slashes of that four letter word colour. Rules, test cases, algorithms, demographic research, focus groups (++++++) contribute to a technical knowledge base that informs marketing strategies and increases effectiveness.
2. Then there is time. Time usually indicates experience. Donna has been drawing, painting, illustrating and creating for about 40 years. She spent four years of dedicated educational time in fine arts, experimenting, playing with colour, learning about light, discovering new ideas. I watched for about 10 minutes and tried my hand. And, I admit, patience isn't my greatest attribute. But 15 slashes on a canvas don't constitute "time." In marketing, the experienced marketer learns what works and what doesn't. I know that a clear, concise, focused product offer increases sales -- even though I like complex creativity. If the client is evaluating the marketing strategy on revenue earned, I need to lay down the obscure creativity and sell. There is no replacement for the intelligence of time.
3. Finally, there is talent. Donna sees the images, the colour, the shadows in her head. Her brain and her wrist and her fingers are connected in a way that the brush strokes create art. My brain does not have that connection. I did manage to create an interesting splatter paint on the floor (although Donna washed most of it off because it tended toward looking like that four letter compound). Great marketers know the technique and have mastered it. They have experienced success and failure and understand the difference and the reasons. Plus they have a gut for it. They have an intuitive sense of understanding the nature of inspiring and motivating action. They are able to take all of the things they have learned and know and make it work.
Many people I know are arm chair advertising experts. They just "know" when a commercial works. Interestingly, many of them are wrong. You see, they've used the things they "like" to define marketing that works. They haven't learned the techniques or seen the results to evaluate the effectiveness or have the innate talent.
I'm not going to be an artist in 6, 3 hour lessons. Not even Donna can make that happen. But I have more than 15 years of marketing technique, experience and, I think, some talent!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

While no one can confirm....

How often have I read that in regards to social marketing?
How many businesses have increased their profit margins significantly by their investment into Facebook? Why is it that Fortune 500 companies are slow to adopt social networking tools?
It's hard to understand the full impact of social networking -- just like it's hard to estimate the impact of the influence of friends on purchase choices.
So let's admit it.
In an age when tracking is the most critical component of choosing marketing media effective advertising still requires guts.
That's why we need to imagine.
Imagine the difference when you use all the tools in the most effective way for your business. The brand leaders are already doing it. They are acknowledging that the world as the Admen of the 60's knew it is changing.
Walmart and P&G is talking about producing a movie as a part of their marketing package. Smart retailers are adding web empowered kiosks within their stores so that customers can shop better right in the store, choosing a digital assistant rather than a teen in a red polo shirt. Others are using digital screens throughout the stores for real time sales information, putting to bed the muffled PA service.
I spoke with a client this morning. They need a web site. When I asked what they wanted their clients to do on their web site the silence bounced off of the padded chairs. No idea.
So we began to prod.
It turns out that their clients have really amazing engagement intersections that we discovered after imaging a web site that was a little more innovative. But we had to stop and ask the question.
They came to us because they need a web site -- everyone needs a web site. You can purchase a web site for $500. BUT if you want an effective, marketing focused, engagement oriented web site you have to stop and think before you enter the copy from your most recent brochure into the appropriate content managed boxes.
We live in exciting times... the world is changing. We get to influence that change.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Rise of Mobile...

The Gartner report on Technology predicts:
By 2014, mobile and Internet technology will help over 3 billion of the world's adults to electronically transact. Emerging economies will see increase in mobile and Internet adoption through 2014. Worldwide mobile penetration rate will get to 90%.

Mal Warwick suggests that the three trends posing the greatest challenges to non-profits (and I suggest all organizations and companies) are:
1. The proliferation of new communications tools and technologies
2. Understanding online and offline networks.
3. Multi-channel marketing demanding seamless donor and customer-centered programs.

I read a lot about new technology. The iPad launched last week (not so sure that is new technology, but it certainly caused a buzz). I am very interested in new trends, new opportunities and just where my audiences are.

But I hesitate to throw conventional wisdom aside.

To be a truly strong marketer I have to understand people. I have to be able to read the test cases and spreadsheets. I need to understand the very foundations of human instinct. That’s why I read Shelley’s Frankenstein, Huxley’s Brave New World, Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and Coupland’s Generation A.

The new tools require new ways of applying our knowledge of people.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Strong, Silent Types

Barefoot Creative has a unique position -- we serve both the non-profit community and for-profit business. Both groups are struggling to understand the power of brand.
Oh we understand the brand message through the eyes of Apple, Nike and Toyota. The new iPad and Toyota were top stories all last week. But what about the brand equity of smaller organizations.
The disaster in Haiti has already raised over $500 million in the US alone. The fractured international development community is battling for news coverage and donor dollars. Brand is a huge player in disaster relief. Red Cross has raised more than 2/3 of the money. But they are not the largest player in Haiti. Partners in Health, an organization out of Boston, has a strong physical presence in Haiti. Yet they have only raised a tenth of the money Red Cross has raised. Partners in Health has even received accolades for their work from Stanford Innovation Review -- a leader in non-profit knowledge -- whose policy succinctly states they will not recommend any non-profit. They are strong.... and silent.
The brand equity of the Red Cross (Red Crescent) is so high that people simply give because, from their perspective, the Red Cross is the leader responding to disasters. People trust the Red Cross to use the funds effectively (even though recent reports suggest the Tsunami funds were not all well allocated).
Brand is the underlying strength of companies and organizations. In the media, the strong, silent types rarely make it to the front page.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Stop: Don't Give Money!

Stanford Social Innovation Review's blog caught my attention with this title: "Don't Give Money to Haiti Now"
The argument is fair.
The tragedy of Haiti requires long term strategies, not quick, gut wrenching responses. Plus, the money that is pouring in now is much more than the immediate need.
The challenge for charities working in Haiti is NOW is the right time to raise money. There is a two to three week window when all eyes are focused on Haiti. Cameras, journalists and executive directors are there now, assessing the situation, snapping photos, getting national coverage.
So they live with the ever present challenge of raising funds. Donors are generous in response to emergencies. In situations like Haiti -- where the natural disaster is beyond imagination -- donors are quick to respond.
In 2006 -- just after the Tsunami -- Keith Epstein published an excellent article on the psychology of crisis giving
He says: "The deluge of generosity following headline calamities, as well as the underwhelming response to quieter sufferings, have their roots in human evolution and the kind of mind that it produced."
Humans carry out a complex dance between the heart and the mind. I have read a myriad of articles in the last week that have reiterated the idea that now is not the right time to send money to Haiti. I agree. The long term sustainability of the funding going to Haiti -- to truly make an impact -- needs to be used with deliberation.
BUT I respond to the child who has lost everything.
And so do hundreds of thousands of donors. In the case of Haiti, mega millions. They see the images in the news. They read about it in the paper. They hear the stories on the radio. Everyone is talking about Haiti. Many families have been affected personally. In my own community, a nurse who was on a two week volunteer trip was killed in the quake. In a real way the earthquake touched Kitchener/Waterloo.
The response to the quake shows our humanity. We give because we are moved by the horrific and sudden turn of events. In just 30 seconds the world changed.
While the giving will be most intensive in the first month, we are undermining the strength of human compassion to assume it will disappear. In the first month the gifts flow quickly and freely. Donors who rarely give to charities will give generously. Donors who give to charities frequently will give just a little more.
We are also undermining the strategic thinking and planning of our charitable sector when we assume they will simply waste our money on the immediate need. They will do exactly what donors expect them to do.... they will use the gifts given to ensure that children are fed, the sick receive medical care and immediate measures are taken to provide a safe place to live and safe drinking water. They will continue working in Haiti, working together to help rebuild the city and the surrounding communities.
While the burst of generosity follows quickly on the heels of the disaster, organizations in the midst of the response are already building strategies for long term assistance and effective rebuilding.
Give generously!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2010 Vocabulary

In 2009 the buzz was all about Twitter.
2010? Social Media just won't go away. Mobile purchase power is just beginning to play a part in the economy of sales -- especially for small purchases. Red Cross raised over $20 million in a few days through mobile donations for Haiti. It's quick, convenient and easy. Blackberry built a special ap for donating to Haiti. A few major charities got into the action.
In 2010 Ad Age suggests we add these phrases to our vocabulary:
Spurned Media: Just like it sounds, earned media that goes horribly negative, invades otherwise pristine search results or bleeds into traditional media. Bad customer service is a top driver of "spurned media."
Brand Tease: A consumer who "friends" or "fans" a brand, only to never return for a second date. Brands feed the cycle by forgetting to court the consumer with engaging, interesting or sustaining content or value.
Conversational Divide: The huge gap between what marketers preach about social media "conversations" and the brand's actual customer service or call centre operations. Stems from cost vs. profit centre tension.
Mobilenecking: The alarming tendency to have our necks tilted down or shifted sideways -- ever glued to our mobile device. Closely related to term "Eyevoidance," where no one looks at anyone anymore.
Wiki Wart: A bad piece of news or an embarrassing brand episode (e.g., an activist protest or a social media campaign that backfired) that just won't go away in a brand's Wikipedia description.
Oedipost Complex: The curious neurosis that compels folks to sleep with their BlackBerry or iPhone. The afflicted can't stop checking -- even in late hours -- for responses to tweets or blog and Facebook posts.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Tribe

Seth Godin started a new language (well, slightly re-positioned an old).
In his most recent blog he says:
Brand management is so 1999.

Brand management was top down, internally focused, political and money based. It involved an MBA managing the brand, the ads, the shelf space, etc. The MBA argued with product development and manufacturing to get decent stuff, and with the CFO to get more cash to spend on ads.

Tribe management is a whole different way of looking at the world.

Deloitte recently released the results of their 2009 study: Tribalization of business (picking up on Godin's insights).
I was fascinated by some of their insights. Here's a few:
1. "Organizations are continuing to struggle with harnessing social media's full potential".... they actually know what its full potential is? Facebook launched in 2004. How much will it be used in 2012? Twitter was all aflutter in 2009. What will it look like in December 2010? "Full potential" is such an interesting phrase. I'm still grappling with what it means.
2. The study suggested that the obstacles from high performing social media can be "easily remedied through partnering and new management practises." The concept is a little reductive, I think. Social Media is the digital equivalent to great customer service, word of mouth and customer satisfaction. Sound business practise and customer service strategies are the real foundation of social media success.
3. They claim this study evaluates the "true potential of online communities." I love the word "true potential" -- as if online communities have the same potential for all products, services and organizations.
4. The final recommendation is to: "Think tribe -- not market segment; think network -- not channel; Think customer-centricity -- not company-centricity."
To those of you who are my tribe... may we re-position our marketing strategies around social media.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

unspeakable devastation

In a moment, a blinking of an eye, the world changed.
Haiti is torn apart -- the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless. Without warning the earth erupted.
We are scrambling to get reports to donors and opportunities to donate and contribute to the intense need. There is little we can say. We can just pause and pray....

unspeakable devastation