May 30, 2006

Proud Owner Of 382

Authentic. Creative. Passionate. These are all adjectives that add up to the holy grail of a great story - Original. And they are all perfectly demonstrated by a Swiss artist named Sala in his latest effort. His One Thousand Paintings have already become instantly valuable (people are already being solicited to donate them to MoMA).

This is the first idea of its kind. It started in February when Sala displayed his newest works at a show in Basel, Switzerland. Before today, he had sold 109 paintings. Someone picked up the story and broadcast it across the internet this morning. Today alone he sold 208.

Remarkable stories and ideas spread quickly and without much effort. Reminisce about Sala's story next time you spend too much time thinking about advertising or marketing campaigns and consider spending more time thinking about the fundamental story your service or product tells your customers and prospects.

May 26, 2006

Small Enough To Be Hugely Successful

For centuries, putting something on paper (disk, etc.) and distributing it has been exclusive to huge media companies. Anyone can create a website or a start a dry cleaner, but publishing has been traditionally dominated by gigantic media houses. No more.

Along comes Lulu and enables anybody to publish a book. A real book - with hearty paper, professional covers, and a listing in the Library Of Congress! One at a time, they turn them out. For less than the price of a DVD player you can even have your book distributed through the same mainstream channels from which companies such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon buy their inventory. The book certainly will not market itself, but it is definitely there in front of decision makers where it would never have been otherwise.

Lulu has turned an entire industry on its ear by giving power back to creators and customers, alike. For industries like pharmaceuticals, where huge companies took the power of independent pharmacies, the pendulum is swinging backward, too. Small grew too big and now hopes to be small again.

May 25, 2006

Converting Infidels

An usable idea to bring in web traffic without enlisting technology.

May 24, 2006

$31.2 Billion

That is the estimated amount of money I have personally been offered for assisting the relatives of rulers/activists/businessmen whose uncles/fathers/mentors have been unjustly exiled/assassinated/sent into hiding from their native countries. Too bad they are all scams. $31.2 billion would be pretty useful....

This week 565 people were arrested in five countries in connection with similar e-mail fraud scams. It is terribly unfortunate that over 2.8 million people have already been victimized. The criminals can manage to weave a convincing tale, but we as consumers are seemingly unable to manage protecting one another.

The ridiculous part of this whole scenario is that foolish, greedy opportunists have discounted an entire media into a state of capitalistic torpidity. Advertising? Disintegrated. Direct marketing? Flushed. Story-telling...?

May 23, 2006

Pet Peeve

Do you really think the girl in the picture has anything, anything, at all to do with the quote next to her?

Delivering an effective message is more than simply finding a photo you like, pairing it with the best customer testimonial you have on file, and publishing an advertisement. Every time you put something out into the public it tells a little piece of your story. Consider how those pieces add up. Take the time to ask some questions and to think as your audience would when they see your message.

To whom is it speaking? What does it say? What does it mean?

Is it offensive? Is it insightful? Is if funny? Is it supposed to be?

What is its goal? How does it accomplish that goal? Why is it trying?

Marketing is (no surprise) all image. The best images are refined. How refined is your message?

May 22, 2006

"Hey Phil, Is Slow Decision Making Costing Us Money? I Can't Decide."

In an era of information on demand, decision-making tools are more available than ever. Of course, as technology increases and is implemented sooner and with more efficiency, information will be even more readily available. According to CIO Magazine, information is the leading tool for quality decisions. So why do folks still take forever to make up their minds?

The Harvard Business Review has some ideas. It is about fear of change. Correction - fear of being different. In most cases, decisions take longer, far longer, than they need to because the decision-maker is afraid of stepping outside the lines of what is currently being done by the industry, by the company, by the world....

Those organizations that are unafraid of failure make decisions quickly, bring products to the market first, and are on the leading edge of profitability. They know they will fail. They move forward with the understanding that risk equals reward in spite of the obvious risk of failure. They do not focus on the opposite of what they hope to accomplish. It only takes a few rewards to achieve great success and it takes a lot of failures to arrive at demise.

You know your industry, your organization, and your people. Use your instincts and your knowledge to create belief and trust within all three areas. You probably already have all the information you need. Go, make a decision!

May 19, 2006

Soap Box? Check.

Have a goal? Tell someone about it. Actually, tell everyone about it.

Why keep your goal to yourself? When you spread the word about what you are trying to accomplish, people will help you. Most folks want to be part of something and, if they like you or agree with your perspective, that want will translate into action. Whether it be telling other people, blogging, sharing a contact, or introducing you to an opportunity, any little bit helps.

Of course, there will always be those who are convinced their idea will be stolen and run off to success under someone else's agency. Once a vision has been shared with the world (that is the eventual point, right?) it will be fair game for plagiarism and corruption, anyway. Like children, ideas can only be coddled for so long before you have to let them into the world to fall and scrape their knees.

Good ideas beg to be spread and people starve to hear them. They make no difference any other way.


May 18, 2006

Flex Those Tiny Muscles!

Because we, like most of our readers, are small (although, almost medium-sized is an appealing goal), this musing makes a lot of sense.

As the world comes closer together, "mom and pop shops" can now be "global micro-brands" (pretty good spin, eh?) without much more effort than it would take to build local business, perhaps even less, as the internet is a genius form of communication when used correctly.

Stay small, stay in control, and stick to your vision. There is a lot of hope and success out there for the little guy!

May 17, 2006

Big, Gay Oil Company

Can discrimination (or discernment, as it may be called) be viewed as simply another facet of a company's culture, like dress codes or corporate mottos?

Read on...

Spiritual Leader, Insightful Marketer

An e-mail with a link to these "Instructions For Life" came through this morning. Even though they probably did not come directly from the Dalai Lama himself (can you imagine the global leader of Buddhism in front of a laptop, typing a chain e-mail?), they are certainly some great guidelines.

    1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
    2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
    3. Follow the three R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others, and Responsibility for all your actions.
    4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
    5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
    6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
    7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
    8. Spend some time alone every day.
    9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
    10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
    11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
    12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
    13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
    14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
    15. Be gentle with the earth.
    16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
    17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
    18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
    19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

It also makes you think about where good ideas come from - and they are definitely not exclusive to best-selling books.

May 16, 2006

Necktie Piracy

    "Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief."
    - U2, The Fly

Steal. Yes, I am advocating it. Steal with fervor.

When you hear an artist say, "It was inspired by..." what he really means is, "I tried to emulate the techniques, format, or functionality of...." Of course, in creative circles, people have come to uncomfortably accept such practices as compliments.

It can be interpreted the same way in the rest of the world, too. Use the best practices of others. Allow them to sharply hone and refine their systems and ideas, then guiltlessly seize them and make them your own. Assuming nothing proprietary (and thus illegal) is being displaced, most of these best practices are leadership skills - ways to teach success.

Find successes and leaders you admire, learn their stories and their ways, and then use them. Adaptation will follow, and before you know it, someone will be stealing your best practices.

May 15, 2006

Inhale Deeply

You installed the trendiest Turkish travertine flooring, hand-blown lamps from Florence, and thousands of dollars worth of Japanese maple cabinetry. But what have you done about the smell?

The more senses an experience invokes, the easier it is to relate to, and the more memorable it becomes. Remember Play-Doh?

May 13, 2006

True In Any Discipline

A thorough understanding of fundamental principles gives you the ability and confidence to react with the necessary aplomb for a successful outcome in any situation. It is the knowledge you lack that will be your undoing.

May 12, 2006

Almost Right

Trying to think about customers as if they were family is a popular concept. Hugh McLeod asserts that if someone spoke to you like advertising did, you would "punch them in the face". Jim Logan disagrees. Jim maintains that customer service and advertising tells you what you want to hear, just like family. They are both almost right.

Advertising tells you what you want to hear, but they have yet to become a part of the family. Advertising is just some guy on a first date with your daughter. You have to pay attention as long as it is present in your life. Eventually, if it goes on long enough, you may even have to make a decision. Either way, you were not the one looking for it, but it may or may not solve a problem you may or may not have with a perspective with which you may or may not agree. Maybe by then, your daughter, and her entire family, is engaged.

A functional family will tell you the truth. From time to time, everyone has a family member who exuberantly supports you because she believes in you. Not because you are right, but because she has faith in you. With that exception, a family member should tell you the truth. If a family member tells you what you want to hear to appease you, they are doing you a disservice. The same goes for your customers. Be honest, be truthful, and they will be, too. And everyone lives happily ever after.

Easier said than done.

May 9, 2006

Hell Yes, Sex Sells!

University of Colorado marketing professor Paul Herr and the late Yong-Soon Kang, an associate professor of marketing at Binghamton University, argue that images of sex and attractive people can actually hurt product credibility and detract from sales.

While the study relevantly shows that credibility may take a hit, it should be pointed out that the marketer responsible for putting that good-looking, half-naked girl next to the product was not interested in credibility, simply attention. And guess what? It worked. Once.

When you compete for attention with gimmicks and superlatives, you will achieve it. Once. After that, you had better bring something worthwhile to the table, or your customer who was drawn in by impressive advertising or spokespersons will walk away frustrated from the lack of anything substantial. (Unless, of course, he managed a date with the spokeswoman.)

Screaming for attention can be effective from time to time, as long as you have something to scream about.

Superhero Anarchists

Boing Boing points us to a story so good it even has the press calling the criminals superheros. Anarchists are stealing food from gourmet shops and delivering it to some of the most depressed neighborhoods in Germany. While their agenda is obvious, bold, and large scale, it is this bit of mischief that makes the news.

When was the last time you told a good enough story to make it into the media? It is worth a few minutes to think up what you can pitch to the local newspaper or television stations. Local editors and producers are actually waiting for you to call. It is perfectly fine to think small at first, because if an article about you appears in Time, people probably already know who you are.

Just like the superheros, your whole story may be too much to tell, but a little, human, quirky, original part of it can be truly interesting.

May 8, 2006

Recommended Reading

The Universe In A Single Atom by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

Well-hewn views about converging the apparently colliding worlds of science and spirituality. While it is laden under its own weight at times, the distinctive thoughts are great to gnaw on and discuss.

May 5, 2006

Talking Urinals

Form your own opinion of this newest interruption marketing device.

A good idea, but maybe just a little creepy?

May 3, 2006

Fighting Cavities

It is a brilliant victory for the best kind of story - a true one. As soft drink distributors ally to pull sugar and caffeine from elementary and middle schools, they elevate their image by doing the "right thing", even though they do make more money from water, juice, and sports drinks than from soda. A socially conscious decision that is also great for business? Stellar.

May 1, 2006

Save The Internet

Congress is taking action on the future of the first amendment and the internet. The situation is neatly described in a simple video by Public Knowledge. Unfortunately, many people with intellectual, theoretical, amateur, and commercial ties to the web, both small and large alike, have not paid nearly enough attention to this issue of content restriction and the redirection of consumer attention in the interest of corporate benefit.

The spirit of the web is so open and community based that such regulation is counter intuitive, but there are three stunning examples, one from Canada, one from North Carolina, and one involving Time Warner's AOL, which illustrate what can happen when a corporation is allowed to wrap its hands around the neck of what you are looking for or trying to accomplish on the internet.

Be Ware. Be Armed.

Thanks to Doug for the head's up.

Look Around

It is increasingly easy to see an account of almost any happening these days. Google Video, YouTube, and the emerging world of video blogs are bringing content from everywhere to everyone in short order.

Who is watching (and judging) you and how can you use it to tell your story? And when you tell your story, is it coming out how you imagined?