New Media Marketing

March 7, 2008

Last night I attended an event where three presenters shared examples of how “New Media” has become a powerful marketing tool. Here are my three favorites.

The best video series award goes to the “Will It Blend” videos. Done as a viral marketing campaign, Blendtec, a small blender manufacturer, developed dozens of 90 second videos. What do they do? They put random objects, like marbles or glowsticks, in their blender. They are hilarious and they definitely convince you these blenders will pulverize anything. What I particularly like is that these videos are developed on the cheap. Click the video above to see them blend an iPhone.

The best “spoof” award goes to the “rap” videos developed by Smirnoff Raw Tea.

The best use of New Media award goes to the “Stay Smart” campaign by Holiday Inn Express (done by Digitas). My favorite piece is the “See what the candidates could’ve saved by staying at Holiday Inn Express.” They went through the public records of hotel expenditure of each Presidential candidate during their campaign and then estimated how much they could have saved had they stayed in a Holiday Inn Express. This campaign was timely, funny, and created a splash. Even Mike Huckabee was asked about his hotel expenditures on Fox & Friends. You can’t buy that kind of publicity!

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Persuasion and the Presidential Primaries

March 6, 2008

Although I rarely write about politics, the current Presidential campaigns are giving us some interesting examples of psychological manipulation.

For example, this morning’s newspaper’s headline was, “(Obama) says Clinton’s attacks paved way for her big night.” It is believed that Hillary’s negative campaign helped her win key states.

Why does mudslinging work? Why do people use it so much?

I believe it is because of two important forces:

People play it safe when it comes to increasing gains: Obama’s platform is about change. Although people claim they want change, in reality (as I wrote in another blog entry), most play it safe when it comes to increasing gains. The status quo wins out most of the time. If change is to prevail, people need a clear picture of the future AND they must believe that that future is achievable. Although Obama is inspiring, he has been criticized for not providing a clear and consistent vision of the future and for lacking a compelling roadmap for getting there. Then again, I’m not sure any candidate has done a good job at this.

People will take risks to minimize their losses: When the feasibility the “gain/change” comes into question, people start focusing on their fears. Hillary has been playing this card consistently. She has challenged Obama’s know-how and suggested that everything will go wrong if we vote in an inexperienced President. As an example, she focused in on Obama’s apparently “two-faced” position on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Voters began to wonder, “Change is good, but is it worth the risk?”

What would I advise Obama and Clinton to do differently?

Stop the mudslinging. Although these negative campaigns may help the individual candidates during the primaries, it will only bolster support for McCain, the de facto Republican candidate. They may win the battle but lose the war in November.

Meet people where they are. As reported in that earlier blog entry, in an obese society, most people will choose “lose your gut fast” over “get six pack abs.” It’s hard for people to envision a Utopian world that seems so far away from the current state of affairs. If you want people to change, three things must be in place:

  1. People must be uncomfortable with the current situation.
  2. They must see a better future.
  3. They must believe that that better future is achievable with a reasonable amount of “investment.”

Point #3 is probably the most important (and overlooked) part of the process. This leads to the last recommendation.

Create a clear, compelling roadmap for the future. Whatever you stand for, make sure you communicate HOW you will get there. Be consistent and stay focused. And don’t shoot for the moon. The candidates can talk about grand aspirations. But they should emphasize smaller, more immediate steps that feel like they can be implemented. A believable future is as important as a desirable future.

These are valuable lessons that can be applied to any professional or personal situation. Organizations should watch the political world to learn more about human behavior and motivation. It is a great public experiment on a large scale.

P.S. I say this with tongue in cheek…but the Obama vs Clinton campaign feels like the Mac vs PC debate. Obama has the cool, trendy and wildly popular feel of a Mac. Clinton has the history of being an active First Lady (with Bill) and yet is less warm and fuzzy. Maybe Obama’s campaign should create a viral Mac vs PC spoof for YouTube. Or maybe one already exists.

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A Fun Innovation Diagnostic

March 3, 2008

Innovation can be, and should be, fun. Here is a 16 question “diagnostic tool” I published back in 2001 in my first book, 24/7 Innovation. It may help you assess just how innovative your organization is. It is, admittedly, quite tongue in cheek and not a serious diagnostic. But who knows, you might just learn something. Send this to your colleagues and see if they agree with your answers! International readers: Apologies for the American references and idioms.

1. You overhear two people talking about your company at lunch. They say:
A. “The people here are about as creative as a brick.”
B. “If we have one more brainstorming meeting, I’m going to go crazy.”
C. “They have come up with a lot of good ideas here.”
D. “Not only do they develop great ideas here, but they actually do something with them.”

2. When someone comes up with an innovative idea at your company, they…
A. are called into the boss’s office and told that that sort of thing isn’t done around here.
B. receive quite a few askance glances, but people think about their ideas in private.
C. are regarded with the same serious decorum that would be afforded any contributor.
D. are publicly recognized for their efforts.

3. If your organization were the Three Musketeers, what would your motto be?
A. One for one
B. One for all
C. All for one
D. All for one and one for all

4. You propose to your department head that you schedule a two-day idea-generation session for an important business need. S/he:
A. Says (after s/he has stopped laughing), “How’s that again?”
B. Explains, “We didn’t plan for that in our budget or workplans. But if you can find the time on your own, let me know how it goes.”
C. Says, “I think that’s a great idea. We have a small contingency budget set up specifically for this type of thing.”
D. Says, “That’s a great idea. Not only will we give you some seed money, but we will also assign a VP who will sponsor and drive the change.”

5. If you were to schedule an idea-generation session tomorrow for your company, what equipment would be readily available?
A. Flip-charts and pens
B. Audio (to play CDs to set the tone for the meeting)
C. Digital imaging (to capture ideas in their creative context)
D. A conference room specifically designed for idea-generating sessions

6. You have conceived a very innovative idea for your company. Your cynical friend starts a pool that tracks the odds of a successful implementation. The resulting odds are:
A. One in a million
B. One in a hundred
C. Even money
D. Sell your Google stock and put it here

7. Your work area is like:
A. An assembly line
B. A library
C. A bakery
D. A design studio

8. You have just walked out of an innovation meeting at your company and bump into a co-worker you haven’t seen for a while. S/he asks, “So how did you get picked for this?” You reply:
A. “I screwed up on my last deliverable, and this is my penance.”
B. “I was standing by the water cooler one minute too long.”
C. “I was selected from a list of volunteers.”
D. “They liked my idea so much, they wanted me to lead the effort to flesh it out.”

9. If you had a question about innovation, who would you talk to?
A. Yourself
B. The goofy guy with the scented markers and koosh balls on his desk
C. The designated innovation leader or innovation core team member
D. Anyone, because everyone is well versed in innovation and creativity

10. Select the phrase that best describes the level of creativity skills within your organization:
A. Brainstormed a few times
B. Know a few good creativity techniques to spark new ideas
C. Have a lot of tools and know when to apply them
D. Know how to integrate creativity techniques into other process techniques (i.e., the two are not separate)

11. Within my organization, innovation is …
A. non-existent.
B. performed by members of an innovation/R&D team (typically in a back-room somewhere).
C. part of occasional brainstorming sessions that include a variety of employees.
D. embedded in our daily work.

12. Which 1960s TV show best illustrates how innovation is used on your project?
A. The Three Stooges
B. I Dream of Jeannie
C. Gilligan’s Island
D. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

13. How do you know when you have a good idea within your organization?
A. Insufficient data to respond to this question.
B. If it looks just like our last good idea.
C. Everyone (or the boss) thinks it sounds good.
D. We used quantitative analysis tools including simulations and pilots to rapidly (and accurately) prototype solutions.

14. Which TV character would be most comfortable in your work environment?
A. Sergeant Joe Friday (“Just the facts, ma’am”)
B. Sherlock Holmes (“Whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”)
C. Columbo (“There’s just one more thing I’m not quite comfortable with . . .”)
D. MacGyver (“Have you got a paper clip so I can defuse this bomb, program the auto-motion tracker, and cook dinner?”)

15. What kind of tools do you regularly use to support innovation?
A. Flip-charts and pens for brainstorming supports by Powerpoint and Visio
B. Creativity software/products, such as mind mapping and idea generation tools
C. A home-grown intranet portal with a suggestion box and data sharing tools
D. Commercial collaboration software such as Idea Central or InnoCentive

16. You are conducting a man-on-the-street interview with a random selection of people from your company. You thrust your microphone into each person’s face, and aggressively ask, “What is the role of innovation on our project?” Most of them say:
A. “Huh?”
B. “We talk about it, but it’s primarily lip service.”
C. “There are pockets of innovation but it is certainly not pervasive.”
D. “We make it a part of all we do.”

SCORING:

I am sure some of the more curious of you (and if you got this far, you must be curious) are wondering what your IQ (Innovation Quotient) is. Here’s how to figure your score: Each “A” is worth 5 points; each “B” is worth 10 points; each “C” is worth 15 points; each “D” is worth 20 points.

If you scored less than 100 points:
Check yourself into innovation Intensive Care.

If you scored between 100 and 160:
The books and articles on this website might be just what the doctor ordered to get your company into better health.

If you scored between 160 and 240:
You are quite advanced, but could still learn a trick or two. Maybe it’s time to bring in Steve Shapiro for a speech or workshop to help you get to the next level.

If you scored more than 240:
Give Steve Shapiro a call. He wants to include you in his next book!

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Idiots Out-Innovate Intellectuals

March 1, 2008

Here’s a great quote from Ville Keränen from Finland:

“One idiot who walks gets further than five intellectuals who only talk…”

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