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26 posts categorized "Idea Bar"

Monday, July 23, 2012

12 Big Trends Transforming The World Of Retail Right Now

Last week I had the chance to deliver a keynote presentation at a merchandising event put on for some of the largest retailers in the US by the trade association Shop.org.  I shared some trends built upon consumer behaviour and incorporating some startups that are getting a lot of attention right now.  I don't share many of my presentations as they are often custom created specifically for events that I participate in, but this is one of the few that I can open up to a public audience.  So below you can see the full presentation embedded from Slideshare (and you can visit my Facebook page to download the PDF).  I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Paulo Coelho Can Teach You About Storytelling & Writing

IMB_PauloCoelho1Sitting in a hotel room tonight putting the finishing touches on a presentation I am giving today on storytelling, I got an irresistable update to a new blog post over on Tim Ferriss' blog featuring a podcast interview with one of my longtime inspirations as a writer - Paolo Coelho.  His book The Alchemist is a life changing experience for anyone I know who has read it (including me). So when Tim published his interview, I immediately listened to the whole thing. I highly recommend it. 

In the midst of finishing my presentation and also putting the last edits together on my second book, the timing was perfect for the interview ... which perhaps explains why I've spent the last hour procrastinating on finishing my presentation and writing this post instead. But if you aspire to write anything from a book to a great blog post, I guarantee that some of Coelho's tips below will help. Here are his frequently "tweetworthy" quotes that I wrote down from his audio podcast:

On Inspiration: "I procrastinate, check some emails ... then I start. I write my books very quickly because I cannot stop."

On Confidence: "You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have."

On Simplicity: "What counts in a good story is the person inside. Keep it simple."
On Trust: "Trust your reader. Don't try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination."

On Writing: "I write the book that wants to be written. Behind the first sentence is a thread that takes you to the last." 

On Expertise: "You cannot take something out of nothing. When you write a book, you use your experience."

On Critics: "Writers want to please their peers. They want to be recognized. Forget about this. Who cares? You should care to share your soul and not to please other writers who will write a review that nobody is going to read."

On Overcoming Stagnation: "If I don't feel inspired, I need to move forward. You need to have be disciplined."

On Research: "If you overload your book with a lot of research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and to your reader.  Books are not there to show how intelligent you are. Books are there to show your soul."

On Notetaking: "I use notes to take them out of my head. I will never use them the next day - they will be useless."

On Story Arcs: "There are only four types of stories: lovestory between 2 people, lovestory between 3 people, a struggle for power, and a journey."

On Style: "Don't try to innovate storytelling. Tell a good story and it is magical. I see people trying to work so much in style, finding different ways to tell the same thing. It is like fashion. Style is the dress, but the dress does not dictate what is inside the dress. What counts is the person."

On Notetaking: "If you want to capture ideas, you are lost. You are going to be detached from emotions and forget to live your life. You will be an observer and not a human being living his or her life. Forget notetaking. What is important remains, what is not important goes away."

On The Alchemist: "I wanted to write a story about my life. But I don't know why I chose a shepard. I've never been a shepard. When you write a book in one act, it is not such an effort to write it."

Thanks to Tim for offering up access to the mind of one of the most prolific and inspirational modern fiction writers - and to Paolo Coelho himself for taking the time to sit down and take all of us behind the scenes on how the magic really happens. 

IMB_PauloCoelho2

Thursday, January 12, 2012

5 Reasons All The Hype About .anything Domain Names Is Like Y2K

IMB_RealityCheckAheadThe land grab is officially starting. For the first time since the popularization of the Internet, the big news today is that ICANN is opening up the ability for the creation of new suffixes that come after the dot, such as .com or .org. The open application process lets any organization apply to be the manager of a new top level domain (TLD) and applications are expected for everything from categories and industries like .ngo (for charities and nonprofits) or .city (for cities). In addition, of the over 2000 applications expected (despite the $185,000 application fee), more than 2/3rds will expected to be brands who are registering their own brand out of fear of cybersquatting.

This may not matter as much as many marketers and brands think it will. In fact, here are five big reasons why as of right now this is an overhyped development in technology:

1. History hasn't been kind to TLDs.

Wouldn't it be great if you were in the travel industry to be able to signify your site with a .travel domain name? Or for career sites to use .jobs?  Or museums to use .museum?  Well, all of those top level domains already exist. How often have you navigated to a site that uses any of them? New TLDs don't matter until people's behaviour starts to change for using them.

2. Any changes are years away.

The application process will be open for the next three months, and then will close. From that point, experts are predicting that it will be at least another year or two before ICANN is able to decide which of the TLDs are approved. The most obvious proof that this process will take years? There are a bunch of new consulting companies popping up as experts who can smell money to be made in the interim.

3. Categories will require a shakeout.

When tags started becoming popular to describe content online, it was seen as great news. Now you could describe content in a way that would index it automatically. The only problem is that people use different words. Some people call a retail place a shop and some call it a store. Will more people use .shop or .store?  How about .bazaar or .boutique? Until there is a single word, a TLD for a category really won't matter.

4. Google is still the kingmaker.

What most people are forgetting in all the hype is that a TLD really won't matter at all unless almight Google decides to list it in search results. So which TLDs get approved matter less than which ones Google chooses to index as part of their regular search results.

5. The web is now global.

In the early days of the web, .com (short for communications) was ok because the vast majority of sites were in English. Today the web is a different place. So TLDs that are in English may not see wide adoption globally. And different countries may use different TLDs. So the truly global TLDs like .com or .org may be few and far between ... and they may not be in English at all.

Friday, May 15, 2009

IdeaBar: APM - Automated Printing Machines

Have you ever wished it was easier to print something out while you were on the road? Whether it's a boarding pass or a list of local restaurants, or a guide to a local attraction you are standing in front of. Right now, we can carry 20 GB hard drives in our pocket, and access the internet through many kinds of portable devices. Printing, however, remains a chore.

To print at a hotel business center, you need to email a file, then open it, send it to a printer and hope that all the fonts work out and things look ok. And you pay exorbitantly per page. If you happen to be out and on the road, you're pretty much out of luck. Which brings me to the idea of this post ... why can't HP or Canon or any of the companies that make printers create an APM?

Working in the same way as an ATM, an APM or Automated Printing Machine would allow anyone on the street to walk up to a kiosk, send a file in a variety of ways (USB flash key, bluetooth, infrared, etc.) and get it printed. You can already do this to print photos in drugstores. You can do it for directions at a rental car agency (though it's limited). Airlines also do this at the airport with boarding passes already as well.

So why can't I go to a kiosk on the street in Manhattan and print that really long email from a friend telling me where to go, or get a printout of those crucial 4 slides a colleague is sending me on my way to a business meeting? One day I suspect we'll see these APMs - because despite how digital our lives have become, sometimes you just need a printout.

About the Idea Bar: Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don't fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Take them and use them ... all I ask for is a link back to this post if you find these ideas useful and talk about them.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

IdeaBar: The International Brand Picture Book Series

The toughest part of being in China, or any other country that uses a completely foreign language to native English speakers, is finding a way to communicate for products you are looking for. Some products are available and some aren't, brands are often called something different for different markets, and knowing how to ask for something by name can be a very difficult challenge. One thing I wished for often in Beijing was some sort of a foldable brand picture book. My idea for this is essentially an international folding map series customized by country. For each country, the map would have a combination of common phrases, gestures and items pictured (so you can point to the pictures instead of trying to describe an item), as well as a grid of brand logos for brands that you can find in the country.

The last part is the real secret, because often when you are in a new place, you know what you want but you aren't quite sure how to explain it to someone. And even the same brand could be marketed under a different name in different countries.  In this map, you would have logos for all sorts of products, from candy bars to laundry detergent. The point is to be able to ask for something quickly and to get familiar with the top local brands all at once. I would definitely NOT want to be the person negotiating with all these brand's legal teams to get usage rights for all those logos, but if someone could tackle this monumental hurdle, this could really be a picture book series (or folding map) worth talking about. It might not help you find your way to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, but at least you could find the Chinese equivalent of Band-aids when you need them.

About the Idea Bar: Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don't fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Take them and use them ... all I ask for is a link back to this post if you find these ideas useful and talk about them.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

IdeaBar: The Retired Social Media Marketing Example List

I've been speaking at a lot of events lately, and several focus on similar topics in social media or interactive marketing. One of the consistent problems with speaking at events like this is that there is a danger of using or hearing the same examples and stories over and over. As my volume of speaking increases, this is one of my big concerns ... that people will opt out of coming to hear me speak because they feel like they've heard my point of view before. The other problem, of course, is that nothing makes you look worse that sitting up on on stage talking about an example that everyone has heard a million times before.

What if there could be a central list of interactive marketing or social media campaigns that were so overused we could retire them? Once a campaign or product makes it onto this list, the idea is that speakers would voluntarily avoid mentioning it, treat it as a cliche and think of other examples to use in their presentations.  The only exception to this rule would be if you actually worked on one of the retired examples personally.

I'm starting with five examples, and looking for more from you. If you have one, leave a comment and I'll keep updating this post. And if you disagree with one, say so and maybe we'll get it off the list. My aim with this list is to get us all (and especially anyone who will be speaking at an event in the near future) to think more deeply about examples to support what we are talking about and not use the same obvious examples over and over.  To that end, if you are about to speak at a conference, check this list and if you are moderating a panel, be sure to pass this list on to your panelists. Let's all aim to be smarter and more original.  The end result won't just be better discussions, but better events too.

About the Idea Bar: Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don't fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Take them and use them ... all I ask for is a link back to this post if you find these ideas useful and talk about them.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Monday, June 23, 2008

IdeaBar: The 3 Video Project

YouTube is everyone's default location now for not only videos, but music, entertainment and just about any other piece of content you might have seen somewhere and want to see again. Copyright issues aside, having this global library of material available gave me an idea for an interesting social experiment the other day. What if everyone took the time to create a compilation of three videos from YouTube that explored a certain theme or subject they are passionate about?

One compilation could explore the art of making musical instruments. Another would explain winemaking. Another could pull together three videos that explain a complex subject, such as Web2.0. The only thing bringing them together is that each group of three videos is compiled by someone who knows that subject and wants to share that knowledge. What are you passionate about? Can you find three videos online (doesn't have to be on YouTube) to describe it to the world? Leave a comment here with your ideas for three, or post about this on your blog (use the tag "3videoproject") and I will create a list of other compilations here on this post. Here are my three videos to start the project:

The 3 Video Project: Inside India
 

1. Vande Mataram - One of the most popular videos about India produced by a combination of film and music celebrities, this video has been a national phenomenon in India since its release to commemorate the anniversary of Indian Independence.

2. Deewangi Deewangi - This video is a Bollywood music hit, but is interested because it features probably the most popular current Indian movie actor (Shah Rukh Khan) in a compilation of all his most popular dances and songs from other movies (along with the stars from those movies) in one song.

3. Peugot 206 Ad - This last one is an award winning ad for the Peugot 206 in India. It is also a brilliant and funny commentary on the rise of consumerism in India.


About the Idea Bar: Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don't fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Take them and use them ... all I ask for is a link back to this post if you find these ideas useful and talk about them.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

IdeaBar: Adline - Priceline for Online Advertising

Booking travel for this past weekend, I was reminded of the brilliance of the business model that Priceline pioneered for travel booking.  In an industry where prices were known to fluctuate and most transactions followed a simple search -> buy -> sell model, they let the buyers set their price and allowed the sellers to decide if the price was acceptable.  That alone was not the brilliant part, though.  What Priceline inherently understood is that no seller would participate in a model like that unless they knew that their sales from other channels were safe from this price-focused approach.  So Priceline hides the identities of the sellers until you complete your purchase.  Simple, useful and innovative.

I read an interesting piece in a marketing trade talking about how advertisers were planning for the new year given there was likely to be an election year spending frenzy on television ads that would drive prices up and availability lower.  Scott Berg from HP was interviewed in BusinessWeek and made an interesting point about how advertisers need to be flexible.  His strategy is to move more spending online and leave standing orders at lower rates with regional TV stations to fill their ad slots once regional candidates drop out of races and leave more availability.  This is essentially the same model as Priceline - set your price and let the merchant accept or decline it.

So what about online advertising?  Most of that is sold on an inventory vs. expected traffic model, and for popular sites, it is sold far ahead of time.  As more and more do it yourself models of online advertising become popular (Federated Media, BlogAds, Google Adwords, and Facebook being the most notable examples), the idea of last minute advertising is not so hard to imagine.  What if there was a site like Priceline for online advertising (let's call it Adline, for fun)?  You could enter your flight dates, the demographic details of where you are trying to reach, the type of placement, and the maximum CPM you are willing to pay.  Placements would need to be rated on some sort of neutral system so you would not be overpaying for obscured inside page placements, as well as by relative visibility of the site, but the idea is that I could decide to do a five star ad unit on a five star site and set my own CPM.  The site could choose to accept or dcline my offer.  Could something like this work?

About the Idea Bar:  Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don't fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Take them and use them ... all I ask for is a link back to this post if you find these ideas useful and talk about them.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

IdeaBar: Statlicious & Quotelicious

I am a big fan and user of del.icio.us.  In fact, I am planning to do the entire index for my book in del.icio.us - sort of a visual version of that thing in the back of every book to help you find who is mentioned in it.  When it comes to seeking information, del.icio.us is a big source of information for me because I rely on the way that others have tagged and saved information to find relevant content.  It is the wisdom of the crowds in action.  The thing I recently realized, though, is that there are two things that I found myself searching for quite often, trying to use del.icio.us for, and getting frustrated.  The main problem with del.icio.us is that most of the content for a particular link lies behind a click.  While the tags describing content are often strong, the description that people enter is usually not as useful.

The end result is that you follow a link, but then are forced to scan the entire text of the page to find the one small piece that you were looking for.  The two situations this has become most evident for me is when I was seeking a stat or a quote.  Both situations are essentially a search for a single relevant line of text, instead of a full page of material.  So this leads me to the idea for this edition of IdeaBar ... what if there was a version of a tool like del.icio.us just for stats and quotes?  People would still save links for original source material, but the text of the quote or stat would be included automatically in the description.  The keywords would also describe the context of each quote or stat, making it easy to find. 

Quotes may be a bit book or presentation centric, but imagine a tool like this for stats ... every person who has had to pull together a presentation and use noteworthy stats to prove their point would probably find it useful.  At the very least, it would help me to more easily file the stats that I do find so I can use them later.  What do you think?

About the Idea Bar:
  Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don't fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Take them and use them ... all I ask for is a link back to this post if you find these ideas useful and talk about them.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Idea Bar: The Uber Business Card

Kerflop_blogherbcards I've been to a lot of conferences and tradeshows recently, and as most attendees of those types of events know, you get a lot of freebies.  The whole idea of many exposition halls is for companies to find ways to give away the right free crap with their names on it to that they can increase awareness of their solution among the right influentials and maybe even sell their solution or product to a few people as well.  I have long said that the companies who get the most benefit from events like this are the ones that no one has yet heard of.  For them, the awareness is often worth paying for, whether they can close any deals or not.  Yet in a sea of sameness where everyone is giving away pens, flashy light balls, or USB drives, how can you stand out?  One common way is to have the "uber bag" - which is larger or of higher quality than other bags.  Then attendees use your bag to carry around all the other free stuff they get, and you get the free branded exposure as they carry these bags around throughout the event.  That's pretty obvious, I think, so doing a whole idea bar post on that is probably not going to offer you much.

Yet what if someone extended this idea to another area of difficulty - business cards.  At most events, I collect lots of business cards, and usually I just create a stack and put them into my bag to sort out when I get home.  What if someone could create an "uber business card" which acted like a folder to store all your other business cards?  It could be expandable like a file folder, and sealed on 2 or 3 sides so you could slide in average sized business cards into it.  Plastic or card stock could be used to create the cards and because of the wider profile, you would have several additional 3-D sides to use for relaying information or placing custom imagery.  What do you think?  Could this be the next kind of card that Moo.com (or anyone else) should offer?

Photo Credit: "Business card loot from Blogher '07" from kerflop's Photostream on Flickr (by Jessica, who also authors a great personal blog called Kerflop).

About the Idea Bar:  Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don't fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Take them and use them ... all I ask for is a link back to this post if you find these ideas useful and talk about them.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.