Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 10 Marketing Highlights of 2010

As 2010 nears an end, it’s time for my top 10 marketing highlights list. What campaigns were great, and which were duds? What do YOU remember from the 2010 marketing reel? With a quick thanks to David Letterman’s top 10 concept, here’s my list:

Number 10:

Jay Leno vs. Conan O’Brien for control of NBC’s The Late Show

Number 9:

The Old Spice guy

Number 8:

The hullabaloo over the changes at the judges table on American Idol – due to the departure of Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres - and all the talk if the show would end (what would Coca-Cola do?)

Number 7:

Advances in mobile marketing due to the increase in location-based services (Foursquare and Gowalla)

Number 6:

The YMCA changed its logo and officially became known as just the “Y”

Number 5:

Facebook – due to increase in users around the world, constant changes to the user interface, and the growing concerns about user privacy

Number 4:

Google Street View – the company was under investigation in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and the Czech Republic for possible violation of privacy laws for its data-gathering practices of its mapping service

Number 3:

The resurrection of Betty White’s career

Number 2:

The rise of Mark Zuckerberg – is he the next Bill Gates?

And, Number 1 on the 2010 Marketing Highlight List:

The Gap Logo Fiasco

Here’s to 2011 and another year of marketing highlights! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Are You Ready for the Mesh Economy?

As a result of the social media phenomenon, a new economy is emerging. Entrepreneur and author Lisa Gansky has written a book that not only introduces us to the new connected economy where access is more important than re-inventing the production process, but she provides easy-to-follow blueprints for building successful businesses.

"The Mesh is a major trend which will shape business in the next decade." – Forbes

In the new economy, according to Lisa Gansky, companies use social media, wireless networks, and data from every possible source to access products and services without the same financial burdens as in previous generations and without adding to the carbon footprint. In Gansky’s words, “The Mesh is reshaping how we go to market, who we partner with, and how we invite participation and engage new customers…If you embrace the Mesh, you’ll discover how your business can inspire customers in a world where access trumps ownership.”

An excellent example of a successful business in the Mesh economy is Zipcar. This car rental agency is nothing like the rental car companies of years past. Instead of visiting airports or agencies in downtown urban hotels, Zipcar locations are strategically placed around cities for quick and easy access. Customers are able to make reservations via the Internet and then either use a code to unlock the cars or a smartphone App to unlock the car’s doors. The company’s founders made sure that all cars were washed, serviced, and available in just the right parking spots so that they would be accessible to the largest customer base.

Upon further analysis though, Zipcar is more of an information business that shares cars. The company collects information about who uses the cars, for what purpose, and for how long. Zipcar is then able to tweak its business model and make its offerings more customized. For example, if a customer rents cars to go skiing, perhaps, there are partnership opportunities with nearby ski resorts, restaurants en route to the ski resorts, clothing stores near the ski resort, etc. The Mesh ecosystem evolves as each new partner is added. As Gansky explained, “Good Mesh businesses are smart about combining more frequent customer contact with enhanced information sources to create and refine superior experiences, partnerships, products and offers.”

Here are the characteristics of a Mesh business:

  1. The core offering is something that can be shared, within a community, market, or value chain, including products, services, and raw materials.
  2. Advanced web and mobile data networks are used to track goods and aggregate usage, customer, and product information.
  3. The focus is on shareable physical goods, including the materials used, which makes local delivery of services and products – and their recovery – valuable and relevant.
  4. Offers, news, and recommendations are transmitted largely through word of mouth, augmented by social network services.

There is no doubt that these concepts make sense, but you may be asking yourself, “Why the Mesh, now?” There are five reasons that make the Mesh economy viable:

  1. The economic crisis has bred distrust of old companies.
  2. The crisis has also encouraged people to reconsider what’s valuable and important to them.
  3. Climate change is forcing up the cost of doing business, including the making and selling of throwaway goods.
  4. The growing population and greater urbanization create densities that favor Mesh businesses.
  5. Information networks of all kinds have matured to the point where businesses can provide better and more personalized services exactly when needed.

So, is your company ready to join the Mesh economy? Here are some action items:

  1. Identify shareable physical assets.
  2. Identify a category, or a service or product, and go to market before anyone else.
  3. Define the market and your core offering.

The Mesh economy will not be a fit for every company, but it may make sense to consider aligning your company in some manner. In the book, an abridged listing of a directory of over 1,000 Mesh ventures is included (the full list can be found online) ranging from arts and crafts to books and writing to gardening to goods swap to health/fitness to technology. Check it out – you never know when or how your company might be positioned to join the Mesh ecosystem.

Check out the Mesh Directory:

Buy or share The Mesh (Amazon typically has the best prices) or visit your local library; also check out

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TIME Magazine's 2010 “Person of the Year”

Since 1927, TIME Magazine has chosen a man, woman, or entity that, in the words of the publication, “for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year.” TIME has made it absolutely clear that its list is not an academic or objective study of the past but, instead, a contemporary perspective of what was important during the year just ended.

The winners list contains heroes and villains, objects, entire generations, and oddities. Starting in 1927 with aviator Charles Lindbergh, other famous individuals include Adolph Hitler (1938), Astronauts Anders/Borman/Lovell (1968), and Ayatullah Khomeini (1979). Some of the more unusual winners include:

  • U.S. Scientists (1960).
  • Twenty-Five and Under (1966).
  • American Women (1975).
  • The Computer (1982).
  • Endangered Earth (1988).
  • The Peacemakers (Mandela, De Klerk, Rabin & Arafat) (1993).
  • The Whistleblowers (Women who blew the whistle on Worldcom, Enron & the FBI) (2002).
  • You (In the words of TIME, “Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.” (2006).

Did you predict who TIME would pick for 2010? This year’s Person of the Year is Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, CEO, and face of Facebook. At 26, he is the second youngest to receive the honor. TIME explained his importance as “creating a new system of exchanging information” and “changing how we all live our lives.”

When Zuckerberg was a sophomore at Harvard University, he created Facebook for his fellow college students. Over the years, adults the world over have joined Facebook, and the company surpassed MySpace as the number one social network two years ago. Facebook users now post a billion pieces of content including photos and messages on a daily basis, according to TIME’s announcement. Facebook has maintained ad prices and also makes money from a credits program which lets people buy virtual items for online games. However, everything in the Facebook world is not golden. As Facebook has expanded, so have users’ concerns about privacy. After lawmakers and advocacy groups complained that Facebook shares too much personal data, the company introduced privacy controls in May and said it was reducing the amount of user information that is publicly available – but information security professionals do not agree.

While there is no question that Facebook has evolved, and many people have Facebook accounts for personal or business use – including this blogger – there were other candidates better suited for this recognition:

  • Consider the residents of the Gulf Coast, who despite re-building after the effects of Katrina, were forced to start over AGAIN during 2010 as a result of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Countless individuals inspired the nation and the world with their unyielding dedication and spirit.
  • Another consideration is Betty White, who, at age 88, resurrected her career and introduced herself to new generations of fans. Her activities during 2010 include an amusing commercial during the 2010 Super Bowl, a wildly successful guest-hosting of Saturday Night Live for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award, a starring role in a new television series, and a deal to write two books. In addition to her lifetime support of animals and service on the Board of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, White has proven that senior citizens can be productive members of society – as well as in Hollywood.
  • One final consideration would have to be the Chilean miners who were stuck underground for 69 days – and all survived. They represent perseverance, hope, and survival.

Oh well, only 12 months until TIME announces the Man, Women, Person, Object, or Oddity of 2011. Let the countdown begin!

To read the article from TIME Magazine:,28804,2036683_2037181,00.html

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's Your Company's Soul?

What is the soul of your business or organization? Was your answer: the products you manufacture or the services you provide? Or was your answer: your mission statement or logo’s tagline? Or did you answer: policies and procedures? If you are still thinking about the answer, here’s a hint: spend a moment or two considering what unique selling proposition or competitive advantage the following companies share in common: Nordstrom, Disney, Zappos, Southwest Airlines, USAA, Cirque du Soleil, Wendy’s, and UPS. According to Richard S. Gallagher, “one of the founding fathers of modern customer support,” corporate culture is the soul of an organization.

“Building a successful corporate culture goes beyond business processes and into being a way of life. It gives meaning and purpose to the place where most of us spend over half of our waking lives. More important, it reduces the vast complexities of the business world into a clear sense of who you are and where you are headed. It is truly the soul of your organization.”

While Gallagher’s book, “The Soul of An Organization,” was written in 2003, the case studies and company examples are just as applicable in today’s business climate. First, though, it is important to remember that in the business setting, the concept of corporate culture “extends to the core beliefs, behaviors, and actions” that employees either follow or don’t follow. Gallagher studied hundreds of companies that featured good and bad corporate cultures, and as a result, determined that seven core traits drove business culture:

  1. The Strategists: these folks create systems that drive operational excellence
  2. The Motivators: these folks succeed by creating a positive work environment that promotes respect, autonomy, and personal growth
  3. The Team Builders: these folks are devoted to creating a strong team environment – from recruiting all the way to building strong internal relationships in the workplace
  4. The Nimble: these folks embrace change as an opportunity and adapt their cultures to shifts in markets, technology, demographics, etc.
  5. The Customer Champions: these folks focus on putting the customer at the front of every business decision
  6. The Passionates: these folks view their work as a mission or way of life and infect everyone around them with their enthusiasm
  7. The Visionaries: these folks lead by setting goals that make everyone on their team part of something greater than themselves

The companies mentioned in the first paragraph are just a few that truly understand how to create and maintain a culture that allows employees to build bridges with customers, consumers, end-users, guests, etc. Employees who are lucky to work in these corporate cultures have the autonomy to settle disputes, answer questions, fix problems, and do whatever may be necessary to guarantee a satisfied and repeat customer. We only have to remember the Nordstrom story about a customer who returned a set of tires – even though Nordstrom doesn’t sell tires – with no and’s, if’s, or but’s from the Nordstrom salesperson.

What would your employees have done in this situation?

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