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26 posts categorized "Idea Bar"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Influential Marketing Blog Featured in Wall Street Journal

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Many of you may have already caught this yesterday, but this blog was cited in the Recommended Reading  section of the Wall Street Journal yesterday in an article by Keith Huang.  As Jay Berkowitz from Ten Golden Rules shares on his team blog, my blog was one of 60 resources that they recommended to the journalist as part of their reading list and was selected from that list as a recommended resource for companies looking to "optimize their online presence."  Here's the writeup:

Influential Marketing Blog, rohitbhargava.typepad.com
Rohit Bhargava's blog is intellectual and educational. In a recent post, he discusses the art of stamp collection and how, even today, many smaller countries use stamps as a key marketing tool. He writes, 'Next time you pass a post office in any country, pay attention to how they are using their philately to promote the country, cater to tourists, or commemorate moments of significance.'

It is a great media hit and to be selected from a list of what I am guessing were 60 stellar resources is flattering.  I'm in awe at being included among the other bloggers and authors mentioned in the article - including Seth Godin, Steve Rubel, Matt Cutts, John Battelle, Chris Anderson, Joseph Jaffe, and Danny Sullivan. Thanks to Jay for including me in this great list, and to Keith for selecting to include my blog!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Idea Bar: Self Destructing Emails

People often ask me how long a blog post takes.  Some take months of collecting information, most take an hour or two, and then there are posts like this one.  A quick idea, written in about 5 or 10 minutes ... in this case, the quick idea came from going through my emails and realizing that I have way to many of them to delete.  I am getting more and more in my inbox, particularly as activity on my social networks and blogs increase.  The problem with all of this email is that it sits rotting in my inbox until I take the manual effort of deleting the ones I don't want anymore.  This led me to think about the emails that I get, and what I realized is that they all fit into two types.  The first are substantial emails about things that I care about and that I need to save and archive.  The other type are the notification emails.

It is these "notification emails" that make up the bulk of my inbox.  There are several types of emails that fit this category:

  1. Blog comment or trackback notifications from Typepad
  2. New friend requests from Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Flickr, etc.
  3. News subscriptions, live NFL scores, blog post email subscriptions, etc.
  4. CC emails where I am copied as an FYI but with no action required
  5. Sales or promotional emails I have signed up for (ie - not spam)

All of these are types of emails that I want to receive BUT NOT KEEP OR ARCHIVE.  The problem with most email tools is that they do not let you make this distinction.  They let you mark emails as urgent or not urgent, store them in folders, mark them as spam, but not decide what you want to do with them automatically after you read them.  Of course, I could delete them after I read them, but I don't and this leads to email clutter.  Why can't I set up certain types of emails to "self destruct" (automatically delete) after a certain period of time?  My notifications of friend requests and blog comments would automatically delete 1 hour after I read them.  The sales or promotional emails would automatically delete after the expiration date of the sale has been reached.  Other types of emails would be ones I could set the self destruct time for (number of hours or days after reading).  Then I could read my emails and then have them go away without having to do anything (of course, allowing me to undo if something is accidentally deleted).  How cool would that be?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Idea Bar: The Universal Invite/Connect/Poke/Follow/Subscribe Button

I have a profile on just about every social network that I can find.  That doesn't mean I use all of them, of course, but I am starting to run into a very interesting problem that I have to assume others are running into as well.  The problem is keeping my social network synchronized.  I have nearly 250 contacts on LinkedIn, and nearly 100 on Facebook, and they are different.  I know most of those people have accounts on both, but if I am already connected to someone, it requires an extra step to connect again on another site ... which I don't take/have the time to do. 

Add to that the fact that now I have over 4000 folks who subscribe to this feed, but I am only connected to most of them through the fact that they read this blog on occasion and not through any social networks.  So you can probably guess where this idea is heading.  What if there was a universal button that I could just put on my blog to let someone connect to me?  Period.  And that button would let them send me an invite for LinkedIn, Myspace, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and whatever other network I choose to set up.  Then I could review the invitations individually and approve or decline them.  The only argument against this that I could see is if you want to keep your communities separate (for example use LinkedIn for business contacts and Facebook for personal contacts).  Still, under this idea you could still choose to only approve certain types of invitations.  What do you think - would 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, September 11, 2007

IdeaBar: Still Seeking The Great Semacode Marketing Idea

Hm1_2 Gizmodo just posted a piece about how H&M is using semacodes imprinted onto Billboard ads in Europe for clothes to allow consumers to purchase an item of clothing directly from their phone.  I am a big fan of the promise of semacodes for marketing because they can offer a reliable way to let consumers interact with static outdoor ads and get more information or take an action right on the spot.  There are some obvious flaws in what H&M is trying to do ... most notably that I don't know of any woman who would see an article of clothing on a model in a billboard (especially after Dove's Evolution showed how these ads are created) and immediately decide to input her size and color choice to buy it.  But the idea of semacodes has lots of smarter potential applications.  Here are a just a few I could imagine for some smart forward thinking marketers:

  1. Food and Lodging Recommendations - This is probably the most obvious application, as you are in a single physical location so you are most likely to agree to receive information for places to stay (if you are looking) or a good restaurant to eat at.  Any restaurant guide service like Zagats could easily use this as a promotion to share their content.
  2. Personal Homing Beacons - Who hasn't been stuck in a new location and unable to describe your location to someone else who is trying to make their way there?  Street intersections are good, but sometimes that is not descriptive enough.  Imagine semacode lamp posts where you could snap a photo and essentially create a homing beacon for yourself for anyone to find you.  You could help your friend with no sense of direction find you through Google maps on their phone, or more usefully, order a Domino's pizza straight to the middle of nowhere.
  3. Scavenger Hunt Style Promotions - As these rise in popularity, using semacodes imprinted onto locations or objects could enable a really fun chain reaction game where you find one clue and get a message telling you about the next one.  These would be indecipherable to people who do not know what they are, but provide essential clues to game participants.  For more interaction, a brand could even let people generate their own and generate clues for others.
  4. HyperLocal Town/Suburb Info Guides - Walking into a new city with a Lonely Planet guide is great, but in smaller areas or suburbs, the infornation is often very little for travellers.  Semacodes printed into public spaces could bridge this gap by offering a way for local citizens to contribute content online and share information about destinations and attractions that no tourism book would likely cover.  Think more broadly about this, and it's easy to see how semacode marketing could reinvent how small towns or even suburbs market their localities as tourism destinations.

I am sure there are lots more possibilities for using semacodes - especially as camera phones become more common and people get more sophisticated about how they use their mobile devices to access timely and relevant information.  I will definitely be watching this space.

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, August 01, 2007

IdeaBar: Magazine Subscription Coupons

Istock_000002553738xsmall I love magazines.  For someone who lives a good part of their life online, I read and subscribe to an oddly high number of them as well.  Of course, I could access most of the content from all these magazines online for free - but I do believe the experience of having a magazine that I can pick up and read on the go in places where I cannot get internet access is still worth paying for.  Most of the magazines I subscribe to are monthly publications (Business2.0, Fast Company, Wired, Conde Nast Traveller, and National Geographic) and BusinessWeek is my only subscription that arrives more frequently.  For each of them (with perhaps the exception of National Geographic), a big part of the reason that I subscribe is that I want the information first.  I suspect many magazine subscribers have a similar reason for subscribing.  Just like those who preorder books, the whole idea of subscribing and placing your order early is to get the information before everyone else, and certainly before non-subscribers. 

The problem I have with all of my magazines is that I don't get them first.  In fact, I pass several newsstands and a bookstore on my way to work, and often see the magazines carried there before they have arrived in my mailbox.  Now usually it is just a matter of days - but those few days matter to me.  If a band offered presales of tickets to a concert to members of their fan club, waiting a few days to buy would be unacceptable.  I am a fan of all my magazines, yet I don't feel as though I get a jump on their content any earlier than anyone who walks into a Borders to buy a copy.  The ideal solution, of course, is for them to send it and me to get it earlier ... but I know the logistics involved in sending out hundreds of thousands of magazines and I know sometimes its not possible.  Here's an alternative idea for this Idea Bar: magazine subscription coupons.  Instead of getting my magazine via the mail, I would get a coupon that could be used for the new issue and redeemed at any newsstand, bookstore or retail location that carries the magazine.  This coupon would ideally be emailed to me for a single use, and I would get it as soon as the first issues to retail locations are shipped. 

Of course, some people like the convenience of getting their magazines home delivered and would never go out of their way to pick it up - but for those like me who care more about getting it first, and are already passing several retail locations on our way to work, this system is low effort and would be ideal.  Retail locations would likely love it as well, since it gets more people coming in and increases the chance that you might buy something else.  Magazines could also use the couponing to get an idea of the most popular retail destinations for their customers.  Would this work?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Special Note (08/01/07):  Welcome to those readers making their way here from the Fast Company blog post.  Coincidentally, I had posted this entry about the magazine business before seeing the link from FC Online, but if you read the magazine online or offline ... add your views here!

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.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

IdeaBar: Fedex HyperLocal Delivery

This past weekend I spent most of the day on Saturday at home waiting for a delivery.  The promised window was between 11 and 2 ... and not surprisingly, 2pm rolled around with no delivery in sight.  The delivery was from Home Depot, but it just as easily could have been any furniture or appliance store in the local area.  For some reason, local delivery in this area (and probably most other areas across the US) seems to happen in one of two ways:

  1. A store has its own delivery person and schedules that person to do all home deliveries
  2. A store outsources delivery to a third party company who picks up the product and delivers it

Sounds pretty simple, but as we all know it is usually a nightmare.  In situation 1, the driver is delayed, can't find the house, has too many deliveries, or cannot be scheduled for delivery until some point far into the future.  In situation 2, the worst case is that the store has no idea where the delivery is after it is picked up and has no way to help a frustrated customer.  This is the situation I found myself in this past Saturday.  It got me thinking about home delivery and who does it right.  Fedex and UPS (and even USPS) have a far more sophisticated model for tracking every package, truck and driver.  They can tell you where anything is at any time.  Of course, they also run into delays and are not on time ... but at least they know where things are. 

What if one of those companies that does it right introduced a "hyperlocal delivery service."  Essentially a business to business solution, this would allow a company like Home Depot to use the logistics and technical savvy that Fedex or UPS have spent years perfecting.  Sound complicated?  Not really - as Amazon.com is already doing this for online retailers by offering their delivery process as an outsourced service and taking a cut off the top.  For Fedex or UPS, all that would be required is creating a way to pickup at multiple locations and integrating this with routes their drivers are already taking.  It's not easy, but certainly not impossible.  Fedex or UPS, are you listening?

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.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Monday, March 05, 2007

IdeaBar: Creationstorms

I2m_shootexperience Over the weekend I revisted ShootExperience, a site that has the really interesting premise of getting people together in a single location at a set time to photograph in a community and share images.  Describing their mission as "helping people to rediscover their everyday environment and lives through photography,"  the site has launched the Connective Collective - a project designed to engage photographers across the world to share images around the central theme of WATER.  I love the ambition of this project and the concept behind the site - but the payoff of a Global Exhibition or winning online contests seems surprisingly traditional.  What about using the power of social media to amplify this idea even further?

Essentially, through their series of events - Shoot Experience has introduced what I would call a "creationstorm." A creationstorm is a call for individuals to participate in an event where they create imagery, video or text around a particular theme or topic and contribute it to a single location.  The real power of this concept is in how it amplifies the trend of users creating content by focusing a group of individuals on a specific location or theme within a specific time.  Imagine if all the photographs from the upcoming Shoot Toronto event were not only uploaded online, but also tagged in Flickr and del.icio.us, linked to reviews on Yelp, added to the Wikimapia project, offered as resources for filmmakers at TurnHere, and optimized for image searches on Google and other search engines.  This is the power of creationstorms.

For marketers in the travel and tourism industries, running their own creationstorms could become the key to building rich user generated content around a particular destination and offer hungry travellers images, stories and even video to consume as part of any online travel or entertainment related query.  There are lots of other marketing possibilities with this.  Imagine Starbucks launching their own creationstorm to get consumers worldwide to catalog every Starbucks location into a single gallery (or any retailer for that matter).  Hotel chains, local tourism boards, restaurants and tourist attractions all are other examples of services that could benefit from running their own creationstorms to fill the content void online.  The folks at Shoot Experience are already onto the potential of these creationstorms for corporate clients as team building or as part of PR and marketing activities.  If you amplify this idea with social media, it's easy to see that creationstorms have the potential to ignite the co-creation movement and help marketers harness this force at the same time.

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 my colleague John Bell, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

IdeaBar: The Secret Menu Item

I2m_hardrockcafe_mrluckys There is a restaurant at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas called Mr. Lucky's 24/7.  As the name suggests, it's open all the time every day - but that's hardly unique in Las Vegas.  Their menu is like most other menus at cafe restaurants in hotels ... serving the usual entrees coupled with the typical Las Vegas style buffets with every kind of food you can imagine.  In a town like Vegas, it's tough to stand out for food.  But what everyone who has been to Vegas knows about Mr. Lucky's is that there is a special item not on the menu.  The "Gambler's Special" is a plate that includes a steak, three grilled shrimp, a choice of potato or broccoli, and a salad for $7.77 ... and only available for those that know to ask for it.  So here's the question: how many people do you think will go out of their way to get to Las Vegas, go to the Hard Rock Cafe, and make their way to Mr. Lucky's just to order that hidden menu item that is only available to those who know to ask for it?  Based on the reviews, I'm guessing more than a few.  This is the kind of buzz marketing that helps restaurants stand out.  It's the kind of thing people talk about.  It's the kind of thing that makes me dedicate an entire blog post to a restaurant that probably would otherwise be indistinguishable from any other Las Vegas cafe on or off the strip.  Now think outside of the restaurant business.  How much buzz could you drive by offering something outside of your usual "menu" that only the initiated customers knew to ask for?  What could you do with a secret menu item?

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 my colleague John Bell, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

Monday, February 05, 2007

IdeaBar: CGM, the SuperBowl and a New Model for TV Advertising

The Superbowl is the real start to the new year for the advertising industry.  Just as the Chinese new year comes on a delay from the celebration of January 1st, the Superbowl manages to turn public attention to advertising in a way that is far beyond the other 364 days of the year.  As the approved Go Daddy spot nicely noted - "everybody wants to be in marketing" ... or at least pays attention to it, for a day.  Today on blogs, there are lots of lists of favourites and the "ad-meters" are hugely popular on YouTube, USAToday and many other outlets.  Many folks are talking about the rise of consumer generated media as the major trend to emerge out of this year's game.  I think that's true, but in a way that may not be often talked about.   

The most interesting thing for me was not just the fact that real people were producing ads for organizations, but that so many of the ads (consumer generated or otherwise) were so tapped into the event itself.  This is nothing new for the Superbowl - ads are produced specifically to launch during the game.  The Coke ad focusing on Black History Month, for example, noted the landmark moment of having two black head coaches in the Superbowl.  The winning NFL Network ad (which I felt was executed on poorly, but was still a great concept) focused on the end of the season and sad fans hanging up their NFL paraphanelia.  Ads like this evoked specific elements of the game, and worked better during the Superbowl not just because of the huge audience for the game, but also because they related to it.  Unfortunately, when it comes to most television advertising, there is rarely any contextual message that references the program the ad is running on. 

The problem with customizing TV ads in this way is that its just too expensive to create a diferent ad for each show or each audience.  It's easier to repurpose one ad for multiple uses.  But what if you could get a show's most passionate fans to do the work?  Imagine if an advertiser launched a contest to get fans of a particular show to create an ad for a product or brand to run during the show.  This has been done before - such as last year when Ford created a series of ads during the finals for American Idol where all the remaining singers did a music video together.  There was a new ad each week.  Anyone who was a fan of the show loved those ads, and never fast forwarded through them.  Of course, for American Idol, it's easy to justify having an agency create custom ads because of the huge audience it draws (like the Superbowl) - but what about smaller niche ad buys on smaller shows?

Taking this custom approach to advertising during daytime drama, for example, could yield huge dividends.  There are many other examples as well, such as popular niche cable shows like Top Chef or ESPN Sportscenter.  Engaging consumers in television advertising is not easy these days.  Aside from the Superbowl, there are no guaranteed audiences.  Taking a customized approach to advertising, using CGM and engaging fans of shows as a core part of an advertising strategy may just be the new model for TV advertising that helps the industry find the buzz outside of the SuperBowl.

Monday, January 29, 2007

IdeaBar: "Beaconvertising" And New Social Media Phones

I2m_samsung_buddybeacon1_2 This post is not about the iPhone.  You might have heard that many people believe the latest innovation from Apple will not only revolutionize the mobile phone industry, but maybe even the future of mobile marketing.  Whether it does or doesn't, in the short term, it's easy to forget that ideas for innovation may come from elsewhere.  The Helio from Samsung is one of those kinds of products.  The interface and look of the phone is not necessarily unique.  Yet built into the phone are a range of smart features, from integrated support for MySpace Mobile, to full screen landscape video viewing.  The feature that I found most interesting, however, was the built in GPS.   

A core feature of this GPS service is something they have called the "Buddy Beacon" - a way of broadcasting your location to friends so you can find one another at any time.  This idea of the beacon is a powerful concept with many other applications.  Rather than most maps which rely on street addresses and turn by turn directions, the beacon can be a marker of location that offers a visual way for someone to find you ... or find a location.  It's a portable homing device.  What if retail stores could use this beacon concept for marketing?  The idea of "Beaconvertising" simply refers to the idea of broadcasting your location to customers in a way that helps them find you in the real world.  Now think about all the situations where as a consumer all you need is the closest location of something.  The closest place to buy diapers - the closest place to rent a movie - the closest place to fix a flat tire ... the list is endless.  These are purchase decisions made largely based on location - yet there are still only rudimentary ways to get this information on mobile devices. 

I should also point out that Beaconvertising is not just for the future - Business 2.0 reports in this month's issue about a few advertisers and campaigns, including an effort from Saturn to help customers locate their nearest dealership - that are finding ways to use Google Earth and MSN's competing services to drive users to their physical locations.  Jeff Goodby notes in the article that he believes "every retail chain will eventually do this."  As GPS phones become more common - the range of uses will continue to grow as well.  Keep your eye out for Beaconvertising through GPS - it just may become the next killer app (and opportunity for marketing) on the mobile phone.  Take that, iPhone.

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