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26 posts categorized "Idea Bar"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Recap of 2006 on Influential Interactive Marketing

Let's start with a warning ... this is the "clip show" post where I recycle a lot of old material so if that causes you extreme pain, please close this window now and come back tomorrow.  For all the rest of you, it's the holidays and a quick glance around the marketing blogosphere will show that these clip show posts are in right now.  With nearly 400 post on this blog already, there is lots of content to choose from ... allowing me the luxury to conveniently ignore those posts from the past year that are outdated or that I just don't like anymore.  Here is a sampling of the rest:

Concepts & Ideas:
This is a collection of concepts and ideas that were introduced or discussed on this blog and then travelled virally to other blogs and were discussed elsewhere in media.  A good collection of ideas, many of which I still hope to implement on a client campaign (but haven't yet).

Rules & Guides:
These are a group of "Guy Kawasaki style" posts written in list format as guides to various topics from SMO to viral marketing.  It's a format I have always liked and you will probably see many more posts in this format going into 2007.

Presentations & Published Work:
Links to presentations given at industry events as well as guest contributions to other blogs.  There is some good powerpoint link bait in here, useful for those who are interested in any of these topics but couldn't make it to the events referenced.

That's it.  Look out tomorrow for an all new post about what I think the top ten marketing ideas to watch will be in 2007.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Idea Bar: Marketing with Soundbombs

I2m_soundbombs_2 In this month's issued of Wired Magazine, there was a profile of Soundbombs, an innovative new concept designed to merge audio with physical experiences to bring a new dimension to just about anything from billboards to art.  As unique as the concept is, the distribution strategy is even more so ... with Felix Beck, creator of Soundbombs, noting that "one can apply for the purchase of a Soundbomb – only those who deserve a Soundbomb, get a Soundbomb!"  This has created significant viral buzz about Soundbombs and generated more than 2,500 requests according to the Wired article.  I love this concept not only for the idea behind it, but also for the distribution strategy that is keeping some amount of control and prestige behind the use of Soundbombs and keeping the artistic integrity of the concept intact. 

Contrary to what some might think, I don't believe this means that there cannot be any marketing implications or uses for Soundbombs that fit into the philosophy behind the invention.  Rather, this purity of the idea - when associated with the right brands - could create an immensely powerful marketing tool that adds to a customer experience, connects with potential customers, and shows an added dimension to a product, service or experience that could otherwise have been lost.  Here are just a few marketing situations I think could be ideal uses for a Soundbomb:

  1. Street Donations for Charities - Imagine if you could amplify the message of volunteers soliciting money for charities by adding a Soundbomb close by offering more information about the cause before passersby are solicited.  It would certainly be an interesting social experiment to see if someone on the street is more likely to support Saving Tibet after hearing an emotive plea from the Dalai Lama ... 
  2. Auditory Tourism - As tourists are walking by historical points of interest, adding Soundbombs could enhance the experience by allowing them to listen to sounds from the past that could be associated with a place.  Consider it a vastly more mobile version of the audio phone tour so popular in today's museums.
  3. Virtual Instructions - For interactive kiosks, display stands, and coin-operated machines - sometimes the method of use is not immediately apparent.  In these situations, have a voice to proactively answer a common question or simply provide a welcome and offer guidance on the first step could be a welcome addition.  At the very least, you could use a Soundbomb to answer the common question of how to make an ATM (which already has braille instructions) easier to find for the visually impaired ... 

Have any other great marketing applications for Soundbombs that fit with the philosophy of the project?  Add a comment to this post and send an email to Felix to see if he agrees.

To learn more about Soundbombs, visit the website or watch a video of how soundbombs work.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Idea Bar: Printable Micro-Region Maps

I hate unfolding maps.  That's where this Idea Bar post starts, because unfolding maps and trying to pinpoint your location is near impossible on those huge maps available from AAA or many others.  Google Maps and Mapquest are ideal solutions for turn by turn driving directions from one place to another, but they fall far short when it comes to exploring an area on foot or driving without a definite destination.  Throughout my travels in California last week, I found myself wishing for an easier online mapping solution that would allow me to get a single sheet printable map of a particular area.  The type of map that you usually find in tourism brochures, car rental offices or from a hotel concierge. One that fits on a standard sized sheet of paper, is easy to fold, and has information about the location of landmarks, hotels and restaurants noted.  One that is organized based on a region rather than a broad city or state. 

What if there were a site where you could download annotated micro-region maps like this of areas like Napa Valley, Old Town San Diego, or Santa Monica Beach?  What about for less common locales like Redondo Beach or La Jolla?  The ideal solution would be a mapping tool like Google Maps where a user could select a print area of a map (like you do in an excel document) and send it to the printer in a single page format that doesn't result in a hazy JPEG image where street names are barely legible, but a high quality printout where even smaller streets are visible. This micro region map would not only be legible, but annotated with store names, hotels, and tourist attractions.  On a quick web search, I was only able to find an expensive software solution targeted at the real estate industry called Flashmaps which offered some of this functionality, but nothing targeted for consumers or general online use.  Maybe we need Apple to launch iMaps and charge $1.99 per custom created map.  Of course, then they would probably only work for a single printout if you signed up for an iTunes account and only used printers approved by Apple ...

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. To view all "Idea Bar" posts on this blog, click here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

IdeaBar: Mobile Marketing with Virtual Hugs

I2m_cutecircuit_hugshirt_1 One of the more interesting reports to come out of Wired's NextFest event held in NY this past weekend was about a wearable technology company called CuteCircuit and their "hug shirt."  The shirt uses bluetooth technology or mobile messaging through SMS to relay the sensation of a hug from one wearer to another anywhere in the world.  While it might seem like yet another technology toy with limited usefulness, the concept got me thinking about a new frontier of uses for wearable technology that integrates with bluetooth technology.  The most basic benefit of this is that a huge number of mobile phones already have bluetooth and this presents lots of integration opportunities.  Bluetooth hugs are just the beginning of the potential uses for this technology. 

By offering the benefit of touch and integrating it with voice, other applications could include virtual sight assistance for the blind, helping children away from parents for the first time deal with separation anxiety, and even add the dimension of touch to the webchat.  Even in the concept of the bluetooth virtual hug, another marketing application could be smart charities that offer virtual hugs from celebrities like Angelina Jolie or George Clooney for the price of a small donation.  Who wouldn't donate money for a bluetooth hug from Salma Hayek?

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. To view all "Idea Bar" posts on this blog, click here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

IdeaBar: Travel Guides On Demand

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I2m_rajasthanbook In the midst of planning a trip to India, I am in the process of doing what countless others do when planning a trip nationally or internationally ... browsing the bookshelves and looking for the best books to educate myself about the destination and plan an itinerary.  For domestic trips, I definitely turn to sites online like or for the first scoop on destinations, but for an international trip to a place like India - my first stop is still the bookstore.  Yet standing in front of the shelves at Barnes & Noble, I was faced with the prospect of lugging a 600 page book about everything in India around on my trip.  I would certainly do it if I was planning on going all around India - but on my trip I will only be going to Rajasthan, Mumbai, Delhi and perhaps Goa.  The huge book is too heavy, and I'm a light traveller.  I ultimately decided on the Lonely Planet Guide for Rajasthan, Delhi & Agra.  The problem is, there is nothing on Mumbai and Goa in the book, and I don't plan on going to Agra.

The experience got me thinking about the deficiencies of printed travel guides when it comes to customization.  Yet with the rise of publishing tools and turnkey printing solutions like, it seems the next evolution of travel guides should be to offer more customized solutions.  If I plan to go to Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai and Goa - why can't I order a copy of Lonely Planet with all the basic information (getting vaccinated, etc.) plus only those sections?  I understand, of course, that for some travellers who may be making last minute decisions on where to go - this would not make sense.  But for those travellers who are relatively sure of their destinations, Travel Guides On Demand could offer a huge value to travellers.  Here are just a few of the potential benefits:

  1. Makes travel guides more convenient for space conscious travellers
  2. Increases the usability and usefulness of the guide
  3. Solves the outdated guide problem

If this idea started to catch on, these on demand guides could also allow travellers to toggle their selections for destinations by what their interests are.  Imagine if the guides could include a sliding scale to allow travellers to select to only display luxury or budget accomodation, more images or less images, and off-the-beaten-track or major tourist destinations.  Even letting travellers reorder the content of a guide to match the sequence of the destinations they will be visiting would offer great value.  All this points to a revolution in the way we think about production of travel guides, and perhaps the publication of travel information in general.  And the end benefit for a traveller like me would be simple - a smaller, more useful and more customized guide for my trip to India (that I would gladly pay a premium for).

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. To view all "Idea Bar" posts on this blog, click here.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Idea Bar: The Mobile Sales Assistant

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It seems like everyone has a mobile phone.  More than the iPod, more than the Blackberry, the mobile phone is becoming lifeline that people can't (or won't do without).  The rising ubiquity of the mobile phone offers many opportunities for marketers.  I have posted before on some such as Placecasting with Bluetooth or the role of text messaging in customer service.  In addition, there are many reports of more interesting hardware innovations in cell phones, such as the Glucophone designed to help diabetes patients manage their disease, or the Motorola Ming phone launched in China which features a business card scanner.  All of these point to the single conclusion that the mobile phone will become a greater part of all of our lives.  There are signs that this evolution may be taking the phone into the retail (real life) environment as well. 

5abe2022500696This is the concept behind Scanbuy, a company that offers a solution to allow users to take a photo of a bar code on their phone and use their mobile internet connection to compare prices for that product online (and they also allow users to create a personal eZcode - mine is displayed at left).  While I love the technology, their model relies on getting consumers to walk out of the retail environment to "buy it cheaper online or elsewhere."  Every retailer hates this model.  But what if the technology behind Scanbuy (and similar services) could be used to enhance the retail experience rather than just offering a sophisticated way to find the best deal?

The Mobile Sales Assistant concept involves using a customer's own mobile phone to be a virtual assistant while he or she shops in a retail location.  Here is how it could work:

  1. Consumer walks into a store and enters a Bluetooth zone
  2. Consumer is invited to accept a bluetooth transmission with the "Mobile Sales Assistant"
  3. If accepted, a small database catalog downloads to the user's phone for a temporary session (similar to a cookie on website)
  4. Consumer then looks around the store, sees something they like and scans the bar code
  5. The bar code is automatically recognized and product related data such as sales price, stock availability and other details appear on the user's phone
  6. The consumer uses this extended information to better inform their choice
  7. Giving the consumer all the information at the point of purchase leads to higher sales

This concept could roll out in a variety of industries and retail environments, including apparel (see images of clothes on real people and get prices), grocery (see wine details, rankings and tasting notes, nutrition facts), consumer electronics (see ratings for products, features, rebate information), toys (see related products, check against an Amazon wish list) and many other retail locations.  Of course, an idea like this does require an assumption of sophistication on the part of the consumer, but with technologies like self check-out and price scanners as options helping to make retail shopping more efficient, smarter technology solutions to assist customers during the shopping experience seem like a logical next step.  After all, who wouldn't prefer getting product information and current pricing on an HDTV right away rather than waiting for the teenage sales rep at Best Buy to "help" by reading the list of features on the product box back to you?

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 (who has a gift for thinking up smart and creative ideas), this post is the first in a new category on this blog that will be devoted to sharing these ideas through an "Idea Bar."  The posts in this category are meant to be "open source" and follow the guidelines generously introduced by Peter Mucha in the title (and philosophy) of his blog ...