Great ideas and companies come in simple terms. How can you take your essence, your marketing juju, and boil it down to the simple concept of what it is you do best, and communicating that effectively?
"Tom Scott, the founder and former CEO of Nantucket Nectars, is famous for the phrase, "We're juice guys." In this video, he explains the key to any top-notch marketing campaign: distillation. In order to build a brand, you first need to boil down your idea and return to basics. And you have to be willing to throw everything away. Here's why."
He wrote that he found "...an amazing group of people who are so passionate about their community that they're willing to go all out in order to further that community." And for those who couldn't make it in person...."Many people who were unable to attend PHXDW still participated and benefited from the panels, discussion, and interaction that was happening miles away from their location."
And he found correlation between the amount of social FACE time folk spend together with the amount of 'community building' that's happening. To wit: "The quantity and quality of our interactions online as a community is directly related to the time since our last large-scale social gathering. In fact, the size and scope of the gathering could even dictate the scale of this correlation."
And he provided a graph to make that point.
It's always a great time when online folks can meet together at a certain event (say, like last night's Gary Vaynerchuck book signing in Tempe or the Phoenix Design Week show), and it helps to further a community when everyone is aligned behind cetain goals and objectives for that community. But that's another topic for another day.
- SHOCKER! Younger employees help senior executives unlock social media mystery - If I had a dollar for every bit of social media advice I had to give to 40-somethings and above, I'd be a millionaire. The Chicago Tribune writes" "The benefits are vast, starting with the intellectually galvanizing effect of breaking down corporate hierarchies. "The mentoring, the sharing of diverse perspectives of an older generation versus a younger generation -- that produces a lot of magic. It breeds innovative thought," Vitón said. Senior executives get expert guides to the online community; ideas on how to use social media to further their business goals; and even insights on how to manage their young employees. And young people get exposure to top-level executives, opportunities to learn from them and appreciation for their knowledge."
- US Newspaper circulation falling - "Among the nation’s largest newspapers, the biggest decline was reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, whose weekday circulation, about 252,000, was down 25.8 percent. The Star-Ledger of Newark and The Dallas Morning News each fell more than 22 percent on weekdays, and about 19 percent on Sundays."
- Cool Ad Age interview with Dom Sagolla, a former Odeo.com employee who worked on the early days of Twitter and whose first tweet was "Oh, this is going to be addictive." Ad Age: "Has Twitter missed any opportunities? If so, why? Mr. Sagolla: They've taken a little while to grasp geo-location functionality in the service. I think they've been preempted by Foursquare and other geo-specific applications. I think they will eventually eclipse Foursquare, but I think they're behind the ball there. Early on, it was designed as a dispatch service, or a blogging service. The effort to get it to scale properly took time and took away time spent on features."
Business Insider posted Mary Meeker's Web 2.0 Summit presentation earlier today and I think it's worth sharing on a wider scale, so I'm also posting it here. Mary Meeker works as a financial analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York.
The presentation covers the financial markets, the economy and how it impacts upon the Internet industry. Meeker looks at communications platforms, publishing and distribution platforms, mobile markets and more.
- TechCrunch provides other key points: * Location-based services are the “secret sauce” of what makes the mobile web interesting. * The iPhone/iPod touch is the fastest growing piece of hardware the world has ever seen. * And usage share versus market share of the iPhone is incredible, meaning it will only grow. * Facebook is becoming the multimedia repository, and it will allow you to do so much. * Companies absolutely need to be on board with the mobile web. They have some time, but they need to act.
Why is this? Are African Americans (or 'blacks' or 'people of color', whichever you prefer) excluded from social media? Of course not, but you wouldn't know it from the leading conferences. I'm no sociologist, but wouldn't a thoughtful presentation at one of these shows from an African American social media mover and shaker provide a different social media perspective? I think it would. Or does the the world of 'social media of color' exist on an entirely separate and unequal plane?
A quick Google search finds BlackWeb2.0 ('a different perspective'); Blacklife (from Glam Media); BlackAtlas (for travelers of color) and Pepsi just launched We Inspire a social network for African American moms. I'm sure there are others - leave 'em in the comments.
There seems to be a opportunity for bringing leading African American social media stars to the masses. I wonder how and when it can start to happen. If you have thoughts, drop 'em in the comments.
He writes that "...according to internal documents leaked earlier this year, the company expects to have 25 million active users by the end of 2009 and 100 million by the end of 2010. In 2013, it hopes to become the first Internet service to sign up 1 billion users."
Wow - that's a lot of users! And this comes about all the while Twitter's hit a numerical milestone of 5 billion tweets (writes CNET's The Social)!
More from the Wired piece on Twitter's future plans:
"Williams and Stone, as you’d suspect, don’t want Twitter to become a commodity. They want to amplify Twitter so it’s as vital to your social life as Facebook and as important to your search as Google. “We want to make Twitter indispensable, so it tells people what they need to know and what they want to know and hopefully not much else,” Williams says.
If Twitter does that, he believes, the company will be wildly profitable, no matter what the skeptics say. Last summer Williams was invited to the exclusive Allen & Company confab of bigwigs in Sun Valley, Idaho. He was astonished to hear Barry Diller and John Malone, two pillars of the pre-Internet world, proclaiming that Twitter would never make much money. “I didn’t argue my case,” Williams says. “But all the Internet guys there were laughing at those media guys. Are you kidding? Do you understand how money flows to the Internet? When you know that Twitter is a vehicle for directing information and traffic to large audiences, you realize there’s obviously a huge business.”
Fascinating stuff - old media, say hello to new media. Again.
Phoenix Design Week starts later this week. That's important. It's the first one of its kind here. And for that alone, the organizers should be commended. The creators of the conference write on their site that "Phoenix Design Week is a celebration of the local design community. It will include a variety of exhibitions, open houses, workshops, presentations, activities, films and other community-growth oriented events."
More specifically, that means workshops and sessions like the brain-twisting one that explores "...interaction design frameworks as the perfect starting point for a usable design and reveals how to extrapolate design criteria from them to go beyond the standards without sacrificing usability and understandability" to the somewhat more understandable discussion about "...the makeup of a "traditional" design or advertising agency vs. the evolution of new, smaller shops. This session will explore the pros and cons of company hierarchy, billing methodology, client service tactics and more."
But I bet it goes much deeper than that. The conference will help forge bonds, create new work relationships and initiate a great focus on the ways that design (industrial, graphic, etc.) affects us in many ways helps to create innovations like a teddy bear blood bag. (via Core 77). Plus, there will likely be some pretty good after parties.
PR Newser writes: "Reporters would never run a major story based off a press release and nothing else. Or would they? The answer is yes, as Reuters fell for a press release hoax today. The release said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would announce changing its opposition to climate change legislation at an 11am ET press conference. TVNewser reports that the Reuters story made it to CNBC and Fox Business Network as well. The problem is that the press release was a fake. The stunt was executed by activist group Yes Men, "...to draw attention to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's fight against public interest on climate change."
Saw this on Twitpic today - worth sharing for chuckles (no offense to 9/11'ers) - Good luck to Richard Heene - he'll need it.
From the terrific Gawker piece: "We've entered the vindictive phase of the story as we wait to see just how dearly Richard Heene will pay for wasting the time of the Fort Collins sherriffs, the FAA, the media and — perhaps most importantly — all of us who bothered to watch his hoax unfold this past Thursday.
It seems all too easy to paint Heene as the crazed villain; then again, it's perfectly sensible. But truth: it's stranger than fiction. In this case, it's the story of a guy with a dream that's become too common: quickfire fame, notoriety, a reality television show."
The city I've lived in since March 2008 is really in transition. The economic spiral has hurt the local real estate market alot, causing troubles for many investors and residents. The tourism and travel industry has dropped dramatically. Big box retailers are pulling out of the city and office vacancies are everywhere.
Two recent articles in major publications here have highlighted the economic difficulty facing the region. This week's Phoenix New Times documented the crushing blow of an ambitious real estate project in Tempe that has derailed finances for all the investors and has left the town with a tombstone of a building right in its heart. A tombstone that some are saying might be torn down before they ever fill up:"it's uncertain whether anyone will ever inhabit the structures that loom over Tempe's landscape. Like so many properties in the Valley, Centerpoint is upside-down on its mortgage — but most foreclosures don't see debts of $135 million. Listen closely and you'll hear speculation around Tempe that the towers will be imploded. As in, everything on the property will be torn down and something more practical, like a parking garage, will be built.
Most experts seem to pooh-pooh that idea because the project is worth millions (even in its unfinished state) and would cost millions to demolish. But simple arithmetic shows this drastic conclusion may not be far-fetched. The developers testified in court that another $75 million would be needed to finish both towers, including the ground-level retail sections. With such an infusion of cash, the first tower could, theoretically, be finished in six months. But that would raise the debt to $210 million. Assume for a second that the 375 units in the towers could then be sold for an average price of $300,000, raising about $113 million. Add to that the $35 million that the buildings are worth now "as is," according to an appraiser hired by the developer, and their total worth falls far short of the $210 million debt."
Another recent piece highlighted the closer-to-home reality of home rentals across the city and how troubles are bubbling there too. The daily newspaper AZ Republic highlighted the plight of landlord-tenant relationships on its front page over the weekend: "Rent rates used to be a function of covering mortgage payments for many landlords. More downward pressure on rents comes now from people who recently paid cash for inexpensive foreclosure homes and can ask for less in rents. With Valley home prices down 50 percent from 2007, longtime landlords are feeling the pinch. Rents on Valley homes are now down 10 to 25 percent from last year, depending on the area, landlords say. The drop in rents means many longtime landlords can't cover their mortgages anymore."
Change is clearly needed, to move the economy from a real estate and tourism mindset to something else. Business people keep touting solar energy as the next big industry for the region. Who knows? Maybe Silicon Valley refugees can work with many of the under-the-radar entrepreneurs here to get some big, successful web startups going.
One tech blogger and civic activist Derek Neighbors wrote in a blog piece called 'Does Phoenix Need to Change' today: "We need to change something because the economies that built what we have today, land development and tourism, will not be significantly rebounding in the next decade. We will experience a rather unpleasant adjustment if we are not able to institute new economies. Attracting and keeping talent for new economies will require some adjustments."
He's right, and in some ways, this flexible economy we're in is the absolute right one for the changes that are required. It's open and ripe for change. But can we get the $$$ and enthusiasm needed to fund and launch some great ideas here and help reverse this downward financial spiral? Let's hope so.
(Now, I know bad news is easy to find - it's the good news that takes some digging - please feel free to brighten up this blog in the comments below with success stories, no matter how large or small!)
[photos above from Phoenix Business Journal and Phoenix New Times)
"Inspired by a moral compass, The Social Compass serves as our value system when defining our program activities. It points a brand in a physical and experiential direction to genuinely and effectively connect with customers, peers, and influencers, where they interact and seek guidance online."
Two interesting business shows started today in greater Phoenix-Scottsdale.
The first is Bolo, a conference for small, independent agencies that work in search, mobile, email and social media. Bolo started this morning, and is being held at the Valley Ho hotel in Scottsdale. You can follow along folks' BOLO tweets right here.
The other conference is SAP TechEd 2009 (sponsored by SAP) and is designed for SAP users to learn more about its various technology platforms, solutions, and business applications. That show started today and is being held at the Phoenix Convention Center. You can follow along with folks' tweets right here.
Fun grabs from around the social media hemisphere this past week:
- Hitwise reports - "Facebook accounted for 58.59 percent of all U.S. visits among a custom category of 155 social networking Web sites in September 2009. The 58 percent was the highest among all social networking sites sites, as U.S. visits to Facebook increased 194 percent in September 2009 compared with September 2008. MySpace received the second-highest market share of U.S. visits for the month, with 30 percent."
-Mashable writes: "Social media is giving small food businesses the power to promote themselves and find new customers, as well as how it is providing city dwellers with the tools to find great (and safe) food." Indeed!
- The Hispanic Public Relations Associationpresented its annual awards last night in Los Angeles. Winners included: 1. Non Profit Media Event Category - The Axis Agency /Weber Shandwick (Miami) Client: U.S. Army's Miami Recruiting Battalion 2. Integrated Marketing Communications Category - Bromley Communications (Houston) Client: Western Union 3. Healthcare Category - EuroRSCG (Pittsburgh) Client: Transitions Optical 4. Sports Category - Formulatin (New York) Client: Tecate Premios Deportes 5. Public Education Category - VPE Client: McDonald's RMHC/HACER Scholarship 6. Food and Beverage Category - RL Public Relations Client: Honey Nut Cheerios "Delicioso y Saludable" 7. Corporate Media Event Category - RL Public Relations Client: Heineken Green Ribbon 8. Non-Profit Category - Revolucion (New York) Client: American Heart Association
- The Arizona Technology Council is holding its 2nd annual statewide recycling program Saturday, "with used computer and electronic equipment being collected for a variety of community facilities and schools." Here are the dropoff locations: all Data Doctors in Arizona, and these facilities: Avnet Inc. corporate office, 2211 S. 47th St. in Phoenix. Avnet Pecos Road Facility, 6700 W. Morelos Place in Chandler. OneNeck corporate headquarters, 5301 N. Pima Road Suite 100 in Scottsdale. Honeywell, 21111 N. 19th Ave. in Phoenix. Salt River Project corporate headquarters, 1521 N. Project Drive in Tempe.
- TechNewsWorld ruminates on the talks by Twitter with tech industry heavyweights Google and Microsoft. TechNews got the story from AllThingsD, which writes.. "Sources said a number of scenarios are being discussed to compensate Twitter for its huge and potentially valuable trove of real-time and content-sharing information, generated from the data stream of billions of tweets from its 54 million monthly users. These include a number of structures, including a payment of several million dollars to Twitter, along with various revenue-sharing proposals that would give Twitter a piece of the revenue made from search results."
One of the cool things about blogging here in greater Phoenix-Scottsdale-Tempe is finding out about awesome talent and companies operating below the radar of the bigger media outlets. One of these companies is Allgood Studios, which does art, web design and print projects for major films, studios and music companies.
Allgood? You say it doesn't ring a bell? Well, maybe the website for Ice Age 3 does? Or the new site for musician Pete Yorn? Or Kung Fu Panda? Yup, they're all from Allgood.
Allgood calls itself a "digital media collective made up of artists who have developed, designed and produced some of the top film and music web sites." The studio is named after founder Ben Allgood, a 20-something whiz kid who has been doing web projects since his teens.
I threw some questions at Ben in an email discussion and here's what I learned.
Q: How did Allgood Studios get its start? Was it just your solo DIY work or were there others from the start?
Allgood: "Well, I've been around designers since I was young - I began around the age of 16. My father is Jim Evans who owns Division 13 (Art / Psychology / Aggression), a design studio in Malibu. He had sent me on a project too tour with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins for a year all over the world. The idea being, that a kid doing these things was a lot more interesting than a grown up. I think he wanted me to have the same experiences as soon as possible, so we could start working together without having to explain things that can't be explained - just experienced. We work together daily, My studio contracts him, his contracts mine...but for all intents and purposes - they are mostly the same."
Q: Which project among the animated films' sites was the first one that got your agency noticed? Allgood: "Shark Tale and Madagascar were probably the ones that got people talking. Until flash capabilities emerged, no one really considered having parents sit with their children at the computer to have fun and learn on a movie website. The Shrek website we're creating now is going to show people and studios what they have been missing. I've always thought a good website should replace a half hour TV show that adults or kids could enjoy."
Q: How many web-savvy folks are in the 'Allgood digital media collective'? Allgood: "It changes a lot depending on the project. Right now a little more than usual because were planning a 5 man HD camera crew for a local music/film project. Usually around 5 people, though, scattered from LA, Canada, NYC and whatever local art students that are willing to put in the effort for cash."
Q: How have you managed the growth curve during this time? Allgood: "I only take on projects I want to do. That's why I only do music, film and a small selection of out of the norm work. There are a lot of studios out there, but few can finish on time, handle the stress or have the actual skill. I can't imagine having Olive Garden or Home Depot as a client- it just doesn't interest me at all. I'd rather be surrounded by people who want the same things as I do. When you find a group like that, you can manage anything really. There is a lot of sensibility in the studio - we do what it takes."
Q: What film/web/animation industry web sites do you read? Allgood: "I'm always curious to check out boxofficemojo if i'm marketing the film. Rotten Tomatoes is a good barometer for how much damage control a film's marketing may need the weeks after it is released or the dvd release. I seek out articles more than actual websites, because the opinion fo the 18yr. old kid in Alabama might be more sound than the 40yr. old VP in Burbank, so naturally Google rules my world. For inspiration, I read/watch TED.com a lot. Learning to be creative is more important than showing what's creative."
Q: I saw "Shorts" with my son and loved it. And your site for the film is cool too! So why did the film simply just die at the BO? Allgood: "I didn't handle the marketing for this, but I would guess the title of the film itself. It confused me from day one. If I have to research why a film is called what it is, I can only imagine what the movie-goer is going through. I think that movie would have done really well in the 80's or early 90's. People go through phases in what they want unless they're open minded. Would "The Goonies" be popular if it opened this week? I wonder about that sometimes. We watch movies like we vote - Brand Names rule."
I stumbled across a fine piece called 'Available All the Time: Etiquette for the Social Networking Age' published over at Knowledge @ Wharton blog.
In it, the writers ask "Is anyone ever really "off duty?" It's a great question; we are in an era of people blurring their work and life boundaries. In fact, even the recent dividing line of "using Facebook for friends and Twitter for business" is slowly dissolving. I heard in a recent web show keynote that 'why not use Facebook for business contacts?'
The Wharton piece chimes in on a similar tone: "For most people who use Facebook and other social networking sites, says Wharton marketing professor Patricia Williams, "there is an understanding of the multiple roles we play. There is the self we are for our friends, a self for our family [and] a professional self. What's interesting is the degree to which we are comfortable playing all of those 'selves' at one time." And that is something that people are not used to doing. Before the advent of such networks, it was unusual for someone to display a persona that would seem familiar to friends, coworkers and family -- all at the same time.
"I've heard people say that Facebook is for personal friends and LinkedIn is for professional contacts," Williams notes. "But many of my Facebook friends are my colleagues -- people who work just down the hall -- and I don't have a problem with that. I do, however, have some discomfort being 'Facebook friends' with my students, because it gives them access to my personal self that's not normally available to them."
Another Wharton professor Sigal Barsade notes two emerging "paths to developing etiquette for today's new forms of communication". "One is through the introduction of new people into an organization who bring with them norms that gradually become accepted. The other way that etiquette around new communication devices is likely to evolve is through social information within the organization. "People influence each other," she says."
It's a good thinkpiece all the way around - Read it here. And if you have any recent experiences on how people are changing their daily social networking etiquette around you, please share it in the comments below.