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Some Concrete Ideas…

March 26, 2010 2 comments

So, I have been thinking a bit about my most recent post, along with a large chunk of my posts — and how they all focus on the very abstract concepts inherent in the field of communications. More importantly, I realized that although my brain may be conjuring up all of these abstract ideas, they may not be very useful for people since most people like to trust in facts and data.

So, I decided to start blogging with the intent of leaving the reader with a bit more than just my abstract ideas. I have now determined that I will have at least one concrete, actionable idea in each of my posts. Hopefully, people will find this a bit more useful — I know I will.

With that said, I have listed three ideas that companies/brands could use in order to be more authentic with their end-users/consumers are listed below. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

1. Determine where you want your brand/product/service to be in the next three to five years.

Now, I have know this may be a very tall order for some companies (this goes for individual teams within a company as well), simply because some are on autopilot right now and have not thought of their long-term strategy in a very, very long time. However, it is essential to think about if you want to reassess, reaffirm and re-calibrate the way you think of your company/brand. Besides, it keeps you on our toes and keeps you focused on the core, crucial aspects of your brand/service/product.

2. Engage three employees, at different levels of influence, to listen and research for customers who are on twitter, facebook and top bloggers in your field of service/product.

I say three for now because you can assume that you will have at least varying perspectives to work with. This will definitely take some time and investment, but it will be well worth it to have a solid understanding of how your customers really feel about your brand/service/product instead of what you tell yourself every day.

3. Although you will have “customer listeners” hard at work, you don’t necessarily have to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter or even in the blogosphere.

It might help you look like you are in the social media space but it won’t help at all if you have no idea why you are there. So, determine what channels most resonate with your focus for your brand/company/service and then head to those mediums first and begin developing a presence there. This probably sounds counterintuitive given that everyone is talking about all of the emerging technologies, the rise of various digital media, etc. — however, the customer is who you should be focused on. If your customer is confused about your Twitter presence because you only joined because everyone else did — well, you have just given your customer a reason to doubt if you know what you are doing. And who wants to buy from someone who doesn’t seem to know what they are doing?

Those are my ideas for now…off to get some sleep…hope these help!

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Connecting is at the Crux

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I just spent an amazing afternoon/evening with a really good friend of mine (Chris J.). It is always refreshing because he is so present to your presence when you spend time with him. He is also very much like a clear landing strip in the sense that he allows you the space to just be your complete self – and it feels awesome!

As I was bonding with him, we spoke about my passion for digital communications, the internet and the power that is now in the hands of the end-user. And as I was discussing with him these passions combined with my passions for singing, writing, dancing and maybe even acting, he expressed what I am trying to express through all of these mediums. What he expressed was so powerful for me and I processed it as my deep desire to help people/companies/brands reach their authentic selves and my deep need to share myself with the world. Why am I bringing this up?

I bring all of this up because I, once again, am calling for brands/companies/individuals to strive for their authentic selves. Why? Simply because that is what most resonates with people. I believe that there is a proliferation within the world of communications (and other fields as well) in which people seem to have forgotten their own humanity and that what people resonate most with is authenticity and empathy. If you (the brand/company/person) is being authentic, then you are operating at the level of self that also will be empathetic (just my own belief).

And if people are resonating with you, you do not even need to sell to them because they will want to buy whatever you have to offer – trust me on this one. I see it everyday when people act from a space of authenticity & empathy — others tend to respond with reciprocity. Check out this awesome pizza place in Berkeley, CA –> The Cheese Board…where there is always a long line for the great pizza, they create a sense of community in the way they treat people and by supporting local artists. And they don’t have to sell to people because people sense their authenticity & empathy and respond in like.

So, take a step and strip away all of the b.s. and busyness all around you and FOCUS on what your brand/company/personhood is OFFERING the end user instead of what you will GET…trust, it works everytime, regardless of what digital or traditional medium of communication that you use. 😉

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Finally in CA-LI-FOR-NI-A!

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

So, I have finally made my way out to California!!!! Woohoo!!!!!

It is nice out here…and it is even nicer being on vacation and enjoying the extended relaxation, lol.

But I felt compelled to write because I wanted to focus (again) on community and why it fascinates me so…specifically in retrospect of the communities that I have discovered during my (short) time thus far in California.

For starters, I am currently in the Bay Area, visiting friends and making new friends. And the first thing that struck me while I have been here is all of the young people who populate this general area. Even if they are young parents in their earlier 30s or young college graduates who are working on at startups or their own businesses, there is a general vibe of youth in the Bay Area. And it feels good to me. It feels very different from New York City in that this general youthful vibe is one that is absolutely prevalent throughout the Bay Area, particularly in San Francisco and Palo Alto, while in New York City — you sometimes have to search a bit harder for that youthful vibe.

And that youthful vibe got me thinking about the shared ideas, values and goals that a lot of the people I have met thus far throughout the Bay Area. There is definitely a sense that everyone is transitioning from one space to the next and just trying to learn as much as possible from each situation. There is also the high focus on entrepreneurship and/or flexibility within one’s work that I sensed from a lot of people. Also, I picked up on a social consciousness of one’s world and how one is affecting that world. Lastly, I got a huge sense that so many of these people were comfortable with the concept of failure — especially in the sense that if something doesn’t work out, it just means that you find another way to make things work for you instead of giving into despair. And I absolutely loved that vibe.

All of these qualities led me to think of who these people would be in 15-20 years…and I truly believe their lives will be quite different than that of their parents. And then I thought — how are companies and brands going to talk to these people in the future? To me, companies and brands are going to have to get very honest with themselves if they want to target this community — because this community is not interested with irrelevant, wasteful messages nor with a lack of getting things done. This community is focused on not only getting things done but on constantly growing in making things happen. Which makes this community very, very important to companies and brands, why? Simply because they are the ones who are early adopters and who will more than likely create something that will end up being a huge competitor for companies and brands. So why not start speaking with this community now? Why not start learning what is meaningful to them, what makes them tick and what gets them motivated to be a brand evangelist? Why not figure out ways to impress them, further develop your relationship with them and prove to them that you are a worthy focus for their attention?

I say all of this especially because I see this community in myself and I know that with people like me pushing the space of communications in that direction, it leaves many companies and brands little room to deny this community. Hmmm…the next five years are going to be very interesting. 😉

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Oscars + Twitter = Lots of Fun

March 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Just wanted to write a quick post today.

Last night, I watched the Oscars with boat loads of other people. How did I know this? We all live-tweeted the event together…and it was greatness.

Not only did it give the Oscars a bit more hmmmph that it could not provide on its own, it most definitely provided me with such a huge sense of community. The Oscars is not just about who wins — it is also about people paying attention to who wins…if there is no one to witness it, does it really hold that much significance? Does it really stand as the “great” Oscars? Or is it just another awards show without the audience?

Which got me to thinking about the attempt by the 82nd Annual Academy Award show to integrate younger viewers into the fold. I thought their use of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Lautner, Zac Efron and some others was an attempt but not as great an attempt as they are going to have to do next year. Either they are going to keep sprinkling in the young crowd — who by the way really have got to stop slouching in their dresses and hacking on stage, lol — OR they are going to have to integrate the world of digital media in order to garner more audience viewership (young and old). What about turning their forum board on Oscars.com into a space for all of us who were live-tweeting last night? Or maybe highlighting more that there is a Facebook page for the Oscars and they would love to hear people’s feedback on how they can make the show better for next year?

Or maybe the Academy doesn’t need all of that quite yet? Maybe it is just better for all of us in the audience to make our side remarks without the Academy infringing upon our “privacy”? Who knows? All I know is — Twitter made watching the Oscars a lot more fun for me. And maybe…just maybe, I am not the only who feels this way.   😉

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Community Is Important For Your Customers AND Your Employees

March 7, 2010 1 comment

I think I have been hammering on about this for sometime now…in this blog, in conversations with friends and family and just to myself sometimes, lol. And before you go any further…here is what spurred this current blog post — this wonderful “Cluetrain Manifesto”.

But now I am going to write about this as much as I do about digital communications, passion and music — why? Because all of them are inherently bond to each other…each of them is bound in the concept of community. That wonderful entity that I love so much — I actually think the word community was made for people like me…people who love to connect with people, who love authenticity and who love helping people…but I digress, lol.

Too many companies fail to understand the vital role that a community plays in the company’s future success. Not your success three years down the line but a decade from now and even further into the future. Marketing as people understand it now will, frankly, no longer exist. Marketing will be essentially community management. Yes, I said it. Marketing as community management will be what consumers and employees demand in less than five years.

Community gives your consumers a sense of purpose and does not leave them feeling as if you just used them for their money – I mean, who actually enjoys feeling used? I don’t care if people look at it as a part of life…no one like how it feels, not really. And your consumers are fed up with feeling used — trust me, they most definitely are fed up. And now they have the means to ignore you, switch teams and leave you in the dust. So giving your consumers more than just your stale and vacant messages is now required of you. But who will build these communities with you and with the consumer?

Yep…you guessed it. Your beloved employees will be building these communities with the consumer.

And I mean beloved. You had better get used to looking at your employees in that manner because they are fed up of being used — not being acknowledged nor encouraged to grow and learn. And they will leave you as well if you continue to ignore the beauty and necessity of community. Not a good scenario for future growth, is it?

Some of you may already understand the importance of building a community and now are wondering how one goes about building a community — check out Jono Bacon’s “Art Of Community” book. I have this book and it is great…it really is. Jono understands approaching people as people — not as cogs for you (the company) to just use for your benefit.

But for all of you who are still resisting this idea of community, especially community between your employees and consumers…I am urging you to STOP.

Just as everyone thought music would solely exist in the hands of the record companies, that passion was something that people should do in only a small portion of their lives and that the Internet would not be able to stand on its own two legs — those people were wrong then just as you are wrong now. So…let it go and recognize that it is okay to be wrong sometimes. Just let go of your old ideas and at least take a peek at what is not coming around the bend but what is already here. And it is better for you to be proactive and focus on building a community for your engaged consumers and employees — instead of being reactive and struggling to earn the trust of your remaining employees and consumers to gain a space in their communities. It is becoming increasingly hard to earn people’s trust…so let your employees and consumers converse with each other and actually build a community now, huh?

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Now on to the geeky stuff, lol…OpenID and email marketing

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I had to get a lot of the other writing out of my system…and it felt good…haven’t done it in a while…but now, with this post, I am ready to address some thoughts I have been brewing on for the past few weeks in regards to my beloved world of digital communications…

So, lately, I have been really focusing on the evolution of Open ID and what it means for email marketing. I think many in the world of email marketing are still trying to wrap their minds around social media, which is sometimes frustrating seeing as technological advances are happening faster and faster everyday. However, with something like OpenID, its ease and simplicity, all marketers are going to have to catch up and fast.

Before we go into the why, let’s determine OpenID is anyways.

Open ID (also, check out this link for more info) is basically a method for people to log in to a multitude of different trusted sites with the same trusted login — thereby lessening the amount of times you have to login to multiple sites and the amount of username/password combinations you have to remember. Does it sound awesome? Yes…especially since I like the idea of having one login to use wherever I go.

On the flip side, would I be lying if I said that it doesn’t worry me just a tad that all of my information, all of my data, all of my keystrokes can be tracked back to one ID specific to me? Yes, I would be lying. But you know what? I am sure that all of that information is available to someone already, if they cared to really look for it. Scary? Yep. Life as it currently exists? Yep.

Anyways, what does this all mean for email marketing? Or the space of marketing overall? Frankly, I cannot decide if it gives marketers a headache or it solves alot of data problems. If the user has an OpenID and decides exactly what information is shared whenever they login into a site, what if they decide not to share anything at all, including their email address? What if the user decides that they do not trust your site (or that they do not trust OpenID on your site) and the user decides not to entrust your site with any of her personal information? You have just now lost out on the opportunity to gain any further insight into who the user is or worse, she left your site without any further interaction and you completely lost out on a potential customer.

Ooooorrrr…you could use OpenID to your benefit. If you add OpenID to your site, which could very well allow you access to a myriad of user data (of course with the user’s permission), you would then have a higher likelihood of sending more relevant messages to users. As for email marketing, OpenID would definitely make it so much easier for email marketers to get clear, correct information attached to a specific email address, which is always extreemely valuable. So, I guess, in the end, OpenID is an overall win for email marketing.

At the very end though, the user just might win since she ultimately controls how/what portions of her data are shared and with whom. Yay for the user!

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