December 18, 2006
[off topic] A hypoallergenic cat anyone?
Right on the heels of finishing Michael Crichton's last book, NEXT - which deals with the future of genetic research - I read an article in Utne describing how a California company has developed a Hypoallergenic cat. You got it right - for $3,950 you can buy a genetically modified cat that does not produce the glycoprotein responsible for itchy eyes, sneezing, and hives. Note that for that price they will not guarantee that the cat will lead a healthy life.
Yikes...what's next after that? Genetically engineered sharpshooters, genetically designed actors, genetically enhanced football players? How about genetically designed preachers? No that's not going to work, those guys already think that they are the end of evolution...
Thankfully there are also good applications of genetic research such as this clinic that treats Anhedonia:
Or this one - where a company has preserved the gene for blondes - which are expected to become extinct in the next 200 years.
December 15, 2006
Co-creation and Innovation
As part of an interesting consulting project for FAST Search & Transfer, we got the opportunity this week to interview their CEO - John Marcus Lervik. The full interview will be posted on the FASTforward Blog , where we are hosting a conversation on Enterprise 2.0.
One particular thing that struck me was when we asked him about their Innovation process. As you know, search is at the core of many things 2.0 - including Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Community 2.0, etc. And staying ahead of the innovation curve in fast moving markets like that is not a trivial task. As it turns out, FAST has over 400 engineers, including 65 PhD's - a little more than 60% of their workforce is working on product innovation. And they do not stop there, they co-opt engineers from within their customer base into an extended innovation community - and as such they have a network of over 2,500 engineers driving their process innovation process.
If you have any interest in joining the Enterprise 2.0 conversation, drop me an email at symbiotic [at] emergencemarketing [dot] com.
December 11, 2006
Crackberry addiction is a problem...
(Via On Disruption)
Here is the link to the video for the RSS-enabled crowd
December 8, 2006
A Brand Loyalty Hierarchy
When you think about the affinity that you have for different brands, you quickly realize that they fall into different categories - you may not have the as much brand affinity and loyalty to your soap vendor as you do to your favorite shirt manufacturer, or your car manufacturer.
Could there be such a thing as a universal brand loyalty hierarchy - akin to Maslow's needs hierarchy? And if so, would it help marketers in determining what marketing program might work better to promote and position their products?
Let's try this out and see where it leads...
At the highest level of the brand loyalty hierarchy are products that help define who you are and what you stand for. They are the products that define your personal brands - let's call them Image Defining Brands. Brands that fall in this category in the consumer space include your clothes- you might want to wear only Nautica shirts because you are a sailor, or a sailor wanna be. Another product that probably falls in this category is the car you drive - with some people driving all wheel drive vehicles to indicate their love for the rugged outdoors and adventure travel, and others swearing by the Toyota Prius to indicate their dedication to a cleaner planet. In the corporate world, products that fall into this category are products that can affect a person's image or career. Early adopters of Lotus Notes collaboration software or Linux servers come to mind. Being early in buying VoIP solutions would probably fall into this category as well. The key is that those brands define who I am or who I want others to think I am.
Next ring down are products that do not necessarily define your image, but they make you feel good - let's call them Feel Good Brands. You may not really have much brand loyalty to a soap vendor who's product you use, but you buy the same soap over and over again because it smells good and makes you feel good when you step out of the shower. Another example in this category could be Fair Trade Coffee - it really does not make a difference to your image whether you drink Fair Trade Coffee or not - after all it is not written on your cup. But it makes you feel good that the laborers that brought you this coffee were treated fairly. In the business world, products that fall in this category are products in well established and mature product categories. If you are in charge of deciding which CRM system to bring into your company, it is no longer a career defining decision, or even an image defining decision - it is very much a "feel good" decision. You will choose a solution that will make you feel good about your decision.
One ring further down are the products for which you have little brand affinity. They don't define you, nor do they make you feel much different than if you were using another brand - let's call them Commodity Brands. Low end pens and pencils come to mind. You may buy a pen from Bic because you know that they have a reputation to last long and not leak on planes, but in reality you might be just as satisfied and feel just as good with a Papermate pen. The same is true for the gas you put in your car, you may have a slight preference for Mobil because it has a reputation of being a cleaner gas, but you really would not feel much different after filling up your tank with with cheap LuKoil gas. In the business world, brands that fall into this category would be office supplies, or snack/vending machine service providers. The key buying decisions for these brands are reputation and trust.
Of course, product vendors can create products in certain product categories that allows them to move up (or down) the hierarchy. Luxury pens are perceived by some buyers as image defining products. And while Fair Trade Coffee in your own cup may not help define your image, being a Starbucks vs. a Dunkin' Donuts kind of coffee buyer may do just that.
More on this later...what are your thoughts?
December 6, 2006
No meetings, no office, no rewards for face time - just get the job done
Imagine this - not getting rewarded for face-time in the office but instead for getting projects done, all meetings are optional, work from the beach, work while hunting, work from the road, you chose - as long as your projects get done!
This new work environment at Best Buy is called Results-Only Work Environment, or ROWE. By next March, 75% of all Best Buy corporate employees will be on the program. A modified version of the program is also under development for people who work in stores - although it is a little harder to imagine how face time will be eliminated in those customer-facing positions.
Sure, there are a lot of companies that have gone virtual over the years, including pioneer HP, IBM and Sun Microsystems. But no company of this scale has ever taken it to this level - allowing for a great deal of employee self-organization.
Interestingly enough the program did not come from the top down but instead began as a covert guerrilla action that spread quickly and eventually became a revolution within the company. The top brass at Best Buy really needs to be commended for embracing this change instead of killing it. These practices have been tried in many start-ups, only to be killed when VC's bring in the "professional" or "seasoned" "senior" managers.
Come to think of it, many innovative things get killed or never see the daylight when those "guys" move in...
December 5, 2006
Corante is sponsoring the WOMMA Summit this coming week
If you have anything to do with Word of Mouth Marketing, you should attend the WOMMA Summit next week!
As they say about the conference:
Have you heard of word of mouth? If you haven't yet, you will. It's the new way to market, and more and more companies are getting on board every day. Just ask the Inc. 500 (82% of their CEOs use word of mouth) and their customers (2/3 of consumer purchases are influenced by word of mouth).
Word of mouth is already happening TO you. Do you know how to make it work FOR you? Learn at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Word of Mouth Marketing Summit, Dec. 12-13 in Washington, D.C. It's the only conference that will give you a hands-on, advanced understanding of how to build truly deep, two-way relationships with your customers.
The Summit features:
- Lessons from 70+ experts
- Big questions, important issues, and straight answers
- Practical "how-to" instructions
- Everyone you need to know
Register today at www.womma.org/summit2.
They have a great line-up of speakers as well as many interesting people in attendance - making for great networking with!
Social media 2.0: empowering communities to solve problems
In a recent interview for the BBC, Tony Blair's outgoing strategy advisor brings up a few good points on how the Internet is fueling a crisis between politicians and its citizenry. Many of his points are actually valid for the world of business as well.
Too often he says, the web is "used to encourage the "shrill discourse of demands"." What he would rather see is "more needs to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the Internet to "solve problems" rather than simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them." Talking about the immaturity of the whole environment he said ""We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," and further comparing the citizenry to teenagers he said "Like "teenagers", people were demanding, but "conflicted" about what they actually wanted, he argued."
Social media empowers people to "speak up" and "make demands." It can also be used to leverage collective intelligence to "solve problems." Yet the tendency at this stage is for people to whine more than to collaborate on constructive problem solving. This can perhaps be explained by the fact that the dominating tool in the new social media toolkit is the blog, which works better as a single person or small group mouth/shout piece than as a true collaborative environment. Sure, blogs are well suited for conversations or raging debates, but that is not how one typically solves problems. Wiki's are more appropriate, but still limited to a very small segment of the population - too insignificant to truly act as an empowering environment for community based problem solving and self-governance.
So maybe that is what we could expect from social media 2.0 - a set of rich and intuitive collaborative environments that enables groups of people to spontaneously congregate and collaborate on helping others to solve problems, whether they'd be socio-political problems or problems related to their favorite brands.
Some interesting experiments in developing collective problem solving environments are already underway - such as the Community Wiki, where Keith Hopper discussed the same BBC interview and suggests a few actual projects projects to tackle as a group.
December 4, 2006
AdAge picks on the BofA video
AdAge today picked on the recent corporate ode to the Bank Of America and MBNA merger, which was caught on video, uploaded to YouTube and viewed hundreds of thousands of times- calling it a "Ghastly Brand Embarassment," and saying "you'll feel a deep-seated embarrassment unparalleled since you were caught in flagrante by your girlfriend's father."
I think we called the other kind of CGC - Corporate Generated Crap.
December 3, 2006
A great way to deal with telemarketers
You have to listen to this short audio clip, this is a very funny and effective way to deal with unwanted telemarketers :)