zaterdag 22 augustus 2009

On time with somewhere to go

                                   Please visit

vrijdag 21 augustus 2009

The Keyser would be proud

Yesterday we talked about invisible enemies and actionable fear based motivation.

Behold: The Monster Steam 1200 pitch.

It not only cleans 99% of all germs and bacteria, it sterilizes and sanitizes as well and protects your beloved family, from parent to babies. 


donderdag 20 augustus 2009

Lessons from the Keyser

Q: what do you do when your product, in this case detergent, cleans so well that all dirt is washed out and you still need to grow your business?

A: You inform the public about microbes. Invsible organisms that infiltrate and get your clothes and skin dirty. They require multiple cleanings, as you never know when they are truly clean. 

But you can beat them, if you clean your clothes (even better to use new products) more often.

While it is good practise to demonstrate value of your product or service, sometimes it is better to point at gains that one is in danger of losing if no action is taken. 

The hard part is to find a balance between a fear that motivates and a fear that paralyzes. 

woensdag 19 augustus 2009

In our minds our dreams are real

District Major of Amsterdam Zeeburg, Fatima Elatik, compared the right wing politician Geert Wilders to HilterOf course she meant it differently and she had a more nuanced thought in mind. When given the chance to explain her statement, she does.

I found nuanced statements after googling a "hand me down" soundbite. The soundbite I overheard, some people tell each other, was "she called all PVV supporters nazi's".  Nowhere near the original tweet or the explanation given. Yet typing those words into Google let me a story about the incident, meaning other people interpreted the story the same way or were given a similair account.

What we mean or say, and what other people hear (and more importantly) retell, often will change as it passes from one group to another. Though we can't control how people interpret our statement and actions, we should be aware of the fact that meaning is assigned to us that we may or may not want to be associated with. Sometimes this leads to unexpected customers and fans, othertimes not so.

Either way, fact is that if we believe something to be true, sooner or later it will become part of our reality and govern our behaviour towards others. 

dinsdag 18 augustus 2009

Looking for the bright side of business and life

*This post is inspired by me taking my own medicine, ha! 

A nursing home in Germany built an exact replica of a bus stop in front of the facility to stop Alzheimer patients, who walk out the the home. The only difference is that buses never stop there. “It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, “but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. 

Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place. 

“We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later today and invite them in to the home for a coffee,” said Mr Neureither. “Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave. 

This ia a good example of a bit of creative thinking by focusing not on what is wrong, but on
a) what is there;
b) what is working within behaviour shown;
c) amplifying the positive instead of stopping a negative.

Which can be a quite usefull way of working, especially when trying to get client buy-in.

There is this form of therapy, called Solution Focused Brief Therapy. It is a form of family and personal trauma therapy. The big difference being: it refuses to discuss the problem you are experiencing. Quit bluntly, one of it foundational premises is that: the solution and problem are not in direct relation to each other. 

It asks the following questions:
what is wanted (vs what is wrong)
what is working (vs why is it wrong)
what are the strengths (vs what are the weaknesses)
what small steps along the lines of what is working can we amplify (vs what overarching strategies can we develop)

So from a business p.o.v. instead of doing research to become an expert at the clients problem, what if you focus time on getting the client to discribe the solution (say a margin growth of 8% by next year) and specify the ways this perfect solution could be noticed ? (read # of items sold, downing of cost by x amount etc...)? 

The second thing SFBT does is asks on a scale of 0 to 10 as to how close you are to your dream solution. If it is a 3, then you identify the things that make it a 3 and try to build on that. Most companies will not be a " 0", so there is always something positive to work with that enables you to achieve initial succes and momentum.

When you know what success looks like and what already is contribution towards it, you now start to focus on identifiying the ways to amplify this. 

Because again, the solution may not have any connection to the problem. But by starting from a "perfect solution" and working back to present day situations, time is used in a postive and constructive way. Even more so, because most people will have a harder time talking about their problems than about nice things. the Alzheimer patients mentioned earlier, sometimes trying to change hardwired bad behaviour can be to much trouble and in the end not bring you or the client the results both of you wish. 

But by working with what is there (and accepting that there is a negative and positive in every situation) and seeing how you can enhance the positive, you just might end up in a place where you, your client and your competitors did not expect to end up. And get there quicker, with a stronger bond between you and your client.

maandag 17 augustus 2009

skills to pay the bills

I dumb down for my audience
And double my dollars
They criticize me for it
Yet they all yell "Holla"
If skills sold
Truth be told
I'd probably be
Talib Kweli
I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
(But i did five Mil)
I ain't been rhymin like Common since
When your sense got that much in common
And you been hustlin since
Your inception
Fuck perception
Go with what makes sense

Jay-Z "Moment of Clarity"

the above lyrics show the difference between a mainstream star and a profitable one.

Talib Kweli makes a good living of his personal brand of highly intelligent, mature rap. Jay-Z on the other hand makes loads more build on a foundation of his rap skills, but less and less dependent on those  rap skills.

In order to become a mainstream star, compromise around content will creep in
and stuff with no relation to your core business will become important.

And even then there is no way to be certain all this will make you a star.
As we know from work of Mark Earls, a major part of that is not in our hands.

Becoming a profitable brand on the other hand is very much within our hands.
It involves a distinct proposition that solves a problem in the lives of prospective consumers, whose value is clearly and uniquely communicated 
and backed up by a product and service that lives up to the communication.

Making sure we have healthy margins and focussing not on the mainstream,
but the people who buy our product, keeping them happy and growing that foundation.

Most people make most decisions about most products not out of loyalty towards most brands. They are open to try something new if given a compelling reason.

So next time you meet clients, ask them straight up what they really want, the fame or the fortune? One may follow the other, but it helps to know what to focus on first.

That will save both parties a lot of time and make for clear strategy, goals and accountability.

vrijdag 14 augustus 2009

Advertising and Awareness

There is this story Gordon Livingstone tells in his book about Vietnam. As a young luitanant in the 82d Airborne he tried to determine the position of his platoon. His platoon sargeant walked up and asked if he knew where they were.

Livingstone answered: "according to this map, there should be a hill around here. Yet I don't see it." To which the sargeant said: "If the map doesn't agree with the the ground, the map doesn't work".

Our minds work quite the same way. They do not make sense of reality. 
They create reality. They create patterns out of incidents and give weight to events that just "are".

Because humans are irrational. We know this. And as marketers we try to exploit this. Only in order for that to work, we have to be able to step back and as Chuck D said: "Dont believe the hype".

Bob Hoffman once pointed out something about car commercials. We know that the buyers of cars are older. Yet the ads are created for an different audience. Because the map we (as irrational humans) have hinders us from agreeing with the ground.

Now having a wrong map is not always the problem. Daniel Kanheman tells the story of people who were lost in the Alps.

There is a group of Swiss soldiers who set out on a long navigation exercise in the Alps. The weather was severe and they got lost. After several days, with their desperation mounting, one of the men suddenly realized he had a map of the region. They followed the map and managed to reach a town.

When they returned to base and their commanding officer asked how they had made their way back. They replied, "We suddenly found a map." The officer looked at the map and said, "You found a map all right, but it's not of the Alps, it's of the Pyrenees."

The map, however wrong, gave them confidence to seek out a path down the mountains. In many ways this is what entrepreneurs and marketerts do. 

They seek out new ways of doing stuff. But much like the soldiers coming down the Alps (and mind you, these are people trained to make good decisions under pressure) if we look at how many campaings and products fail, it seems the time it does work has more to do with luck then skill.

The singles most important, and I would argue most difficult, skill is being able to see what is there. To just observe and notice, without starting to make assumptions. Without connecting or to letting your mind create reality.

It is something Zen Buddishm calles shoshin, beginners mind. But it would be more than just having no preconceptions or judgments. Being able to see what is there requires you to be able to focus and to be aware.

Whether it is the Account Manager talking to the client, without his mind wondering. Planners and Creatives needing to be able to look at what is actually being done and lived by consumers and not only to follow the brief or rely on research.

Focus, awareness and absense of judgement are the starting points to doing work that is, unexpected, capturing and effective.

Rob talked about investing in stressmamangement to help employees become better at their work. 

What I would suggest as a supplement is that, especially adland, industries that need imagination to thrive; we also invest in training our people to see past the personal frames, blockades and point of views. Having a resident psychologist to train with staff should be standard practice for an industry that uses them and other social scientists to see what other people are doing.

To actively start training the mind, not to learn, but to be able to shut down the constant stream of thought it generates. 

To become aware of wondering thoughts, lazy thinking and the kicking in of heuristics and mental models.

In order to capture the imagination of others we have to become masters of reality again, not of rationale.