Month: May 2012

Most Wanted Ad Space

The most wanted ad space in the world is: Your facebook timeline cover photo.  

Let’s think about this for a minute; a user may on average have 150 friends, most of whom they actually know in real life.  This means that your cover photo could effectively reach 150 people, if they are drawn to your page.  You could influence their purchasing decisions, their habits, their interests, simply by changing your photo.

Location, Location,  . . . 

The cover photo spans the width of the content section of the timeline and depending on your screen, is a massive billboard for who you are and what you believe in.

Hypothesis

Perhaps we’re not “there” yet for consumer products or services, but we are here when it comes to causes.  I believe, that if motivated, consumers will change their cover photos to to show their beliefs and passions for a cause.

Example

Imagine if in October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Yoplait and Susan G. Komen offered consumers an exclusive cover photo available online via a code found under the lid.  Consumers who in the past were motivated to save the lids to earn donations will be just as motivated to go online, enter a code, and show the world, via the cover photo, that they care.

Effect

Now imagine what would happen if many people started to have the same cover photo on the same day, during the same week, or month.  The possibilities of mass impression, mass reach, and mass action are truly endless.  That is called effective reach. 

I don’t believe this has been done yet*

Own your space

When looking at a facebook timeline page, I notice how all the major real estate is available to you,  while the ads are hidden in the left margin.  You being you drives people to view your page, to interact with and communicate with you.

Then why don’t you own your space? 

What I mean by this is simple, if you have connections online, you influence them through what you share, you should be rewarded for sharing.

Thoughts? 

 

Thoughts on: Accountability in a Highly Distracted World

We have all done it, someone asks you to do something, you agree, distractions come pouring through the universe, you forget to accomplish your tasks and miss a deadline.  Additionally, we’ve all asked others to perform tasks for us, they agree, and then they fail to deliver.

When you’re in a leadership position, you are the architect of the vision and grand design of the organization.  As much as you may like to be everywhere at all times and accomplish everything yourself, this is simply not physically possible nor is it efficient.

When you can fire someone for not following through on their responsibilities you can hire someone else who will.  When you can pay someone more for following through on their responsibilities you do and they return the generosity in the form of harder work.  Recognition is a function of hard work and achievement.

Question

When you can’t fire someone or pay them, how is it that you motivate them to execute on their responsibilities?

Story

During 2011 through 2012, I was the president of a student organization at Rutgers Business School called the Marketing Management Society.  We were a group of about 30 students with about 15 students who were dedicated.  The purpose of our club is to grow the individual personally and professionally and give them real world opportunities.

Problem

The consistent problems I ran into as the leader, was trying to find ways to motivate people to perform tasks that would ultimately benefit themselves.

I contacted my family and my professors seeking advice about motivating people in a very low incentive or disincentive environment.

What I learned, is rather simple.  If you cannot fire or pay someone, you must help them to realize the work will benefit them, you have to get them to buy into the idea and guide them to believe that they want to do it.

Easy enough right? 

Yes and no. 

What I found to consistently take place is that tasks would be delegated, constituents would buy in, but no action occurred.  I found myself puzzled by this each and everyday.  Knowing that this was practice for my future, I felt extremely obligated to find a way to end this false promise/talk game and find a guaranteed way to win.

Strategy

In order to win, I starting to change the way I spoke to people I needed to perform tasks.  I would ask them, when they thought they could accomplish the task and how they planned to do so.  I made additional efforts to check in with them often to ensure a timely progress was taking place.  I also made deadlines sooner than needed to create an anticipatory buffer zone for if and when they failed to perform.

What I found

I found that by giving them the choice and responsibility, and taking it off of my shoulders, that they would take action and ownership of their work.  If fact, I was shockingly impressed with how fast this metamorphosis took place.  By asking the person you are delegating work to, when they think they can have it done and how they will do it, you create buy in and empower them to take ownership of their work. In the end, they realized that they could accomplish what was in front of them and that they could get it done on time.  In this world of it needs to be done yesterday, information overload, and exponential stimuli leading to endless distractions, it is difficult to get anyone to do anything, let alone when it’s for free.  But, if you can find a way to appeal to them and get them to commit because they want to, success seems only logical.  In the end, I learned that if you want to accomplish anything with others people have to “want it” for themselves, that, and you have to have an endless supply of resiliency.

The inventor’s dilemma or boost?

Discovery

We’ve all had it happen, you’re watching TV, cruising the web, talking with a friend, and there it is, the idea you thought ofcreated by someone else.  On one hand your infuriated and disappointed that you didn’t act sooner.  But on the other hand, the hand you may ignore and leave in your pocket, is the concept that your idea was good, so good that people believe in it and made it.  Yes, they beat you to the finish line, but this can’t be a final blow, that seals the nail in your creativity inventive coffin.  The very fact that another created an idea that you possessed, researched and even worked on, shouldn’t be discouragement, it should be a boost.  The boost comes in the form of knowing that you had a novel idea, a truly unique and market accepting idea.

Reaction

Discouraging without question.  The fame fortune and glory is lost to someone else.  They will receive the notoriety, the patent, and the profits.  You will receive no recognition, no patent and no profits.  This may be the moment when you renounce your spirit of innovation, cast away your creativity, and lock up your imagination, to avoid future disappointment.  This may also be the moment when, if you allow it, that you pivot and adapt.  This somewhat catastrophic event to your ego, your hopes, desires, and dreams may be used or transformed into fuel.

Metamorphosis

Instead of giving up you become better: more adaptable, responsive, and resilient.  Take this blow and transform it into your fuel to succeed.  Power your burning desire to create, imagine, innovate and invent with the facts that others have created what you have thought of.  Use their success as your fuel to do better.  Imagine, like you always do, that your idea was stripped away from you by another, not once in your lives have you interacted, they just happened to identify the same point of pain as you and they acted, whereas you didn’t.  Now use that raw emotion to ignite your creative fires and move forward.  Imagine what you will come up with next.  Only you have the power to visualize what it is that your heart and mind conceive.  Others may think similarly and that is not a negative, no, it is a positive.  It is proof that you have the power, the ideas, the thoughts to create.  Do not give up, the world needs you; and when your next idea pops into your consciousness, act on it.  Act on it with all you might, rage against the naysayers, the doubters, the criticizers; and if you did all within your power and was still beaten to the punch, let it be proof that you are still on the path towards your ultimate goal.

Now, go and take action. 

Look Over Here! Thoughts on Creating Engagement

Typical Attention Grabbing Copy:

“Give aways”, “Buy 1 get 2 Free”, “Free Trial”, “Try one today”, “Warning”, “Drop Everything”, “Announcing”, “Introducing”, “Like Us” and many, many more. 

Who actually cares? 

No one. Well, not exactly, allow me to explain: some people will look, some will even click and share, some will investigate more, and perhaps you may convert a few prospects into buyers.  The question is not “How do I reach my target consumers” nor is it “Is this channel an effective use of my budget, energy, and effort” – Why Not? 

Because you already know how to reach your target consumers and you already know how to effectively allocate your budget to include those channels.  

The real question is . . .

How do I actually hold someone’s attention long enough to encode my message and stimulate motivation that will lead to an actionable result?

The actionable results being: a purchase, a recommendation, a click, a share, and a comment.

I truly believe this question is one of the most fundamental problems facing marketers today and that most people are using pure instinct to solve it.  Well, before I go ahead and tell you my answer, I want to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Please comment below.  I look forward to creating a dialogue with you. 

I will post my answer on May 10th, I hope you can wait until then.

Creating the Craziest Holiday Fad of All Time

The copy from the television advertisement spot of the historic Tickle Me Elmo doll reads: “Watch out! There’s something funny going on.  It’s new Tickle Me Elmo. Just tickle Elmo and he really talks and laughs. Tickle him again and hold on, cause his whole body shakes with laughter.  So be on the lookout he’s coming to a funny bone near you.  Tickle Me Elmo the newest huggable member of the Tyco Sesame Street Family.  Each sold separately”.  Tickle Me Elmo was the hottest toy of the 1996 holiday season.  Shoppers waited in long lines for hours on end wishing and hoping to get their hands on one of these “precious” items.  Shoppers even became vicious pushing and shoving each other in an attempt to break through the crowd.  The Tickle Me Elmo dolls sold for $35 in retail stores, the hype and craze of this fad caused a black market to develop where the toy was sold for thousands of dollars.  The manufacturer and instigator of this epic fad was Tyco, who “saw its sales soar from $70 million to $350 million, all thanks to a simple plush toy” (1, Weinmann).  The Tickle Me Elmo doll reaction should be every marketer’s dream, a brilliant communications campaign igniting chaos, behind a expertly positioned product.

The article: 5 Marketing Lessons From The Craziest Holiday Fad Of All Time, by Karlee Wienmann, of Business Insider, details the 5 key elements to Tyco’s strategy, they are: 1) Do your homework, 2) Don’t do media outreach willy-nilly, 3) Seek out prominent partners, 4) Narrow your focus, 5) Know your actual audience.    The question of luck behind the take off of the Tickle Me Elmo craze is debatable; however, the strategic implementation the Tyco team took to launch and promote the new product is certain.

According to Weinmann, Tyco knew Sesame Street was the most watched children’s television show and research confirmed that Elmo was the favorite character. Weinmann cautions readers to avoid making assumptions when developing products and services and instead to allow oneself the time, resources and energy to conduct focus groups and survey potential customers.  Tyco had a product idea for the favorite character of the favorite children’s show of 1996; this is an example of excellent product planning.  Marketing research is key to each and every business; because creators are too immersed in their work to be objective and the opinions of potential consumers paint a forecast for the success or failure of a product.  Furthermore, research helps marketers identify target consumers, what, where, when and how, consumers are consuming media.

Weinmann cautions against mass emailing and blanket marketing communications efforts.  Tyco got specific with their promotion tactics.  They personally sent journalists and editors of the top toy trade magazines news of their new product.  They also took the time to explain why their news was worthwhile, relevant, and different, thus getting numerous recipients to respond to their announcement.  Tyco also hosted a hands-on preview event of the Tickle Me Elmo toy for the journalists and their children.  This proved especially successful when Tyco began to receive several awards from the toy publications.

Tyco also used talk shows and morning shows to spread the message of Elmo.  Tyco gave over 200 Tickle Me Elmo dolls to the staff of the Rosie O’Donnell talk show, to distribute to audience members.  The audience members interacted with the show for a chance to win one of these coveted dolls.  This tactic created hype, but more importantly, provided thousands of impressions on the viewers of the talk shows.  Weinmann suggests that consumers trust celebrities and that finding a way to partner with a trusted face to endorse a product or service is also a significantly strong promotional tactic.  Furthermore, she recommends, identifying the target market, the market segments, and demographics, to find the right brand steward for the product or service.

The success of the Tickle Me Elmo doll paved the way for Tyco to develop the whole line of Sesame Street toys for preschool children.  Weinmann cautions that Tyco focused on one product at a time, developed the campaign and then built on top of that with line extensions.  Weinmann recommends to focus on one project at a time, by keeping it simple, and executing the job well.

Through research, Tyco learned that the target market for their product were children 18 months to 4 years old.  However, Tyco knew that children would not be able to drive to the store and purchase the doll themselves.  So Tyco positioned the Tickle Me Elmo doll as the must have item of the holiday season and that every child would enjoy playing with one to parents and grandparents.  The result, sales rose from $70 million to $350 million; not bad for a plush doll.

Tyco took the time to: conduct primary and secondary research before launching the Tickle Me Elmo doll, personally contact key industry influencers, and properly position the doll to both children the users of the toy and parents and grandparents the purchasers.  This article clearly describes the importance of knowing one’s market and consumer.  Additionally, the article shows that a mass marketing campaign isn’t always necessary, especially if one can place a product or service in the media using low cost methods that generate high exposure.

Using the Brand Dynamics Pyramid on the Tickle Me Elmo doll, one may conclude that thousands of children knew about Elmo from watching Sesame Street and thousands of parents and grandparents knew of the doll from watching television and reading magazines.  To the parents and grandparents the doll offers them the satisfaction of giving the child a coveted gift; to the children it offers them the most desired toy imaginable.  The Tickle Me Elmo doll was made to offer countless hours of fun until the child grows out of it.  The advantage of the Tickle Me Elmo doll over competitor’s toys is the direct correlation to children’s favorite television program, Sesame Street.  It also talks, laughs, and shakes.  The bond between child and the Tickle Me Elmo doll can be classified as an intense desire, a toy like none other.

Click here to view to the commercial. 

Globalization vs. Anti-globalization

As the world grows in population the distance between the nation states is shrinking.  The factors that have aided the diminished distance are: Reductions in Barriers to trade, taxes, tariffs, transportation costs and technological advancements.  All these factors have led to increased global trade; imports and exports are taking place at a historically high level, which has led to specialization in specific industries.  The once separate markets and economies of the world are rapidly becoming intertwined with one another.  Visually this can be thought of as wires twirling through the air centrifugally becoming intertwined.

As this weave grows, businesses are gaining access to efficient forms of production and labor unseen in their home countries.  This allows businesses to outsource jobs that can be done cheaper and more efficiently abroad, thus positively impacting domestic consumers by offering lower prices.  Additionally, as jobs are outsourced abroad, nations are buying and selling to one another and thus experiencing positive economic gains.

However, this also leads to the loss of domestic jobs, which contributes to higher unemployment and lower living standards.  Although proponents for globalization state this trend is merely generational.  Merely generational?  An entire generation of unskilled workers will lose jobs to foreign markets where wages can go for as little as 48 cents per hour, while skilled workers will see a rise in income and a demand for their services.   This is unacceptable in a world of nearly 7 billion people; where skilled workers are the outliers and unskilled workers are the majority.  One may argue that although problems exist with globalization, it is a utilitarian effort, benefitting all nations that participate.  The antithesis is, a generation of unskilled workers will be unemployable in their domestic nations and will either have to succumb to lower wages or migrate to foreign nations to find employment.

Why are unskilled wages declining and jobs moving offshore? While skilled jobs are increasingly being demanded at a premium?  According to Charles Hill, Professor of International Business at the University of Washington, “The apparent decline in real wage rates of unskilled workers owes far more to a technology-induced shift within advanced economies away from jobs where the only qualification was a willingness to turn up for work everyday and toward jobs that require significant education and skills”.  Additionally according to Hill “One estimate suggests that wages in China will approach Western levels in about 30 years.  To the extent that this is the case, any migration of unskilled jobs to low-wage countries is a temporary phenomenon representing a structural adjustment on the way to a more tightly integrated global economy” (Hill).

The solution to this problem is not restriction on free trade and globalization, but increased investment in education (Hill).  In doing so, nations will see a decline in unskilled workers, and an increase in highly skilled workers.

In economic terms, the production possibilities frontier shows that specialization in a specific industry benefits separate economies when they trade, even if one nation is more efficient at producing the imported goods than the other.  The argument is that when both nations specialize in specific industries both gain more resources collectively than possible as individuals.  This can be seen as Mulberry being able to produce pasta and make beds with its given resources better than Canal.  However, if Canal wants pasta and can also make beds then Mulberry and Canal can benefit from trade.  When Mulberry and Canal trade both countries are able to consume more as a result of specialization and trade.   Of course this is a simplistic view of a vastly complex issue, but it puts the thought in easily understandable terms.

According to Hill, “Free trade does not lead to more pollution and labor exploitation, it leads to less” – in the long term.   According to Hill,  “While pollution levels are rising in the world’s poorer countries, they have been falling in developed nations,” however, carbon dioxide is positively correlated to a nations wealth and is “an important exception” (Hill).  Global efforts by the UN to reduce carbon emissions has seen little light under the dark CO2 cloud created by many developed nations, especially the United States, who has refused to sign global agreements which it claims would hinder economic growth.

In regards to Globalization and National Sovereignty Hill states that:

“Today’s increasingly interdependent global economy shifts economic power away from national governments and toward supranational organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the European Union, and the United Nations.  As a result, critics claim, unelected bureaucrats now impose policies on the democratically elected governments of nation states, thereby undermining the sovereignty of those states and limiting the nation’s ability to control its own destiny” (Hill).

However, if countries are unsatisfied with bodies serving to protect their collective interests they may withdraw their support and the supranational organization will fall (Hill).   According to Bloomberg News Report, “The world is changing those institutions are not keeping up.  We in the states elected Barack Obama we called for change, well he represents change but the institutions around him have not changed they are not keeping up, they are falling back on the old ways and that’s how empires crack fall and get left behind that’s how new empires rise.”   Institutions like the IMF and the WTO are too static while the dynamically shifting global financial markets are moving too fast for them to handle.   Additionally according to Bloomberg, “ How can you have consultants from the IMF and World Bank fly into a country and advise on village economics when those consultants have actually never spent a night in the village?”

As cliché as this may sound, America is a melting pot of all the world’s people.  In an optimistic viewpoint our color is red, white and blue, our religion is any, our culture is all and the unanimous belief is that anything is possible here.   But is globalization possible? The unequivocal answer is yes.  Globalization is certainly a fantastic trend, provided that corporations adhere to regulations in regards to labor and environmental exploitation.  However, investments in education and green technology must be made first.  Additionally Multinational enterprises must be responsible by proactively creating and implementing ethical codes of conduct for their suppliers.  If this is possible Globalization is possible. 

What do you think? 

Here are some links to sites that discuss Globalization:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/key/global.htm

http://www.globalpolicy.org/globalization.html

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/10/globalization-developed-countries.asp

The Art of Leadership

One must first lead himself before he may lead others. Leadership is an art that will never be mastered, but rather a goal that one may continuously strive to achieve. The leader is the visionary, the architect who designs the goals and objectives of the organization. Most importantly, the leader identifies those individuals who may contribute greatness to the organization and empowers them to do so. My first experience with leadership came in March of 2011, amidst the disaster in Japan. I believed that I could do more to help, so I designed and sold t-shirts to raise money for the relief efforts. By aligning my efforts with clubs at RBS, we were able to raise over $1,000. The risk of this endeavor and its ultimate success empowered me to believe that I could lead.

In May of 2011, I was elected President of the Marketing Management Society because I had a vision, a vision that the members believed in. I promised them that we would achieve the goals set forth. The biggest problem of our organization was not that we didn’t have motivated people, but that we didn’t have motivated leaders. I made it a point throughout my presidency to identify potential leaders and put them in leadership positions so that they would shine. Each member of MMS was given ample opportunities to achieve academic and professional goals set forth by the organization. I strived to build a team of women and men who acted professionally and to give them opportunities to put into practice what they had learned in school. I relied greatly on a bottom up approach, giving my members opportunities and a voice. Together we set large goals for ourselves, together we achieved them. If I may state the greatest achievement that I have accomplished, it was identifying the future leaders of the Marketing Management Society and giving them the opportunities to lead. The day I hand the torch over will be one of the best days of my life, because it will mean that I had taken a broken organization and made it whole. The next group of leaders are high performing, motivated, and driven individuals who I am confident will continue on the path toward greatness.

Throughout my life, I have looked to the great leaders of this world and found that Theodore Roosevelt truly inspires me. He once said, “I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.” I believe that life is meant to be lived this way, that we should take opportunities and leverage them to their fullest. I also believe that within us all lies the potential to lead and inspire others. Goals are not easily achieved, but nothing worth having in this life comes easily. I believe that the goal of every leader should be to empower his followers so that they believe and achieve for themselves not for the leader and it they do this they are not followers but a band of leaders.

Thoughts on Social Media

The way I see it, twitter is real time, fb is deeper connections, linkedin is professional connections, instagram is evidence of experience, and about.me is a static post in the never ending field that is the internet.  I’m strongly considering devoting my free time to finding a sustainable way to bridge the real world with the digital world.

Stop missing and start making every shot the first time!

Make Every Shot The First Time

Stop missing and start making every shot the first time!

Chapter 1

Ok so my new belief is that death and taxes are certain (medical technology isn’t there yet and good accountants clearly have their ways but thats another story) and that with a heavy dose of focus and will power (maybe a few redbulls) anything is possible. #inspireme and ill inspire you back (alchemist). The universe delivers what you’re looking for, if you’re eyes are open to see it. Remember it happened for a reason, so interpret the reason (hopefully with clarity) and move forward. Progress Everyday. I’m not saying that you must believe in fate or destiny or religion, nor am I stating a psychological belief system of the “secret” (debatable), what I am saying is that if you give up the world does too, if you get up more times than you fall, you’ll never lose. Progress, Get up and move, achieve what you want and desire by setting realistic and unrealistic goals. Be pragmatic and idealistic. Lastly, set yourself up for the maximum number of opportunities possible, but only expose yourself to the maximum amount of risk you’re willing to lose. Remember, if you win you’ll win big.

1. FootNote

(I’d like to give credit to Gladwell, Talib, Hesse, Coelho)