Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

Selling Change Pt. 4

The Human Resource Company (ex: Zappos, New Seasons)

Now is a great time to be selling change to the Human Resource Company because their framework opens many needs to be addressed. The behavioral traits of this business culture:
• Central Concepts: individuality, needs, skills, relationships
• Decision Process: empowerment

This type of company is much like a big co-op, where individual contributions add up to customer service success. There is a willingness to hear new ideas—especially fighting through a recession.  The solution you pitch must address their core challenge: align organizational goals and human needs.

The sales cycle will be a bit longer than the RFP methodology of the Structural Company because you will need to build a base of influencers. The big decisions are made by committee. But the upside to this is Human Resource Companies have a great brand following, and working with them will be good for business.

Part Five: Selling Change to the Political Company

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Snack Chew

Do people embrace, judge or reject creativity?

We are all wired differently, and we are all influenced by different media, cultures and relationships. If the premise of marketing in a 2.0 World is to have a conversation with the mass of niches, then it makes sense to have variable levels of creativity in your marketing (depending on which audience you are speaking with and why).

Just to start spark a fire, I introduced tweepoll to Twitter today. The hash is a daily question just to gauge the relevance of a topic in twitterspace. Let’s see what happens…

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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How Strong is Your Brand?

Casual Thought Friday… which came first, social media or branding yourself online?

The chicken or egg question is whether social media is allowing us to brand ourselves, or has forced us to register our name on every online channel?

Reid Hoffman, founder of Linked In, was recently quoted as saying “I realized that the world was transforming every individual into a small business.  But how do you positively influence your brand on the Internet?”

More importantly, what is the relevance of your online brand?

The logic is that if you become so well networked professionally (and personally), and relationships are what make the business world go round, then your brand transcends your place of employment – if it is authentic and stands for something.  And in this troubled economy, that is a competitive advantage that can help you retain friendships and client connections wherever you might land next.

I would argue that it doesn’t really matter how many followers, friends and blog subscribers you have if your views and ideas are consistently connecting with your audience.  This suggests that the value of your brand depends on your business interests and how big you want to be.

However, the business world is immediately attracted to the big numbers and apparently there are some Tweeters out there with a million followers.  That does not mean filtering any campaign through them will be a successful co-branded effort (see Ashton + Nikon).

Maybe I should worry more about my competitors, but I’m grateful anytime my ramblings are well received or shared by others.  That said, I’m going to Trademark my name tomorrow…  just in case.

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Playing against the rules

Casual Thought Friday… if you can’t solve a problem, it’s because you’re playing by the rules.

The economy is in a recession.  Businesses are failing.  Trusted brands will be long forgotten and change is inevitable.  That’s the good news.

New business can only come from the failure of old business.  Otherwise we’d be locked in mediocrity and nostalgia.  Those that can remember the old Oscar Meyer “Bologna” jingle are a generation away from retirement – so how would they know what the new IT thing will be 10 years from now?

The companies that will succeed in this down economy will be the biggest innovators.  Whatever your company did / whatever worked last year has a lesser percentage of success than a new marketing strategy crafted specifically to compete in 2009.  And some of these successors will be the game changers swimming against the current and playing against the rules.

This doesn’t mean that old school metrics for running a business, marketing ROI or brand impressions are obsolete or irrelevant.  But it does mean that if you are playing by the rules, your chances of winning will be determined by competing against others that follow the same rules… not against the risk takers that will be making a name for themselves while stealing your customers.

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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What is Creativity?

Casual Thought Friday… what does is take to be creative?

Ask 10 people in a room their definition of creativity and you will get 10 different answers.  Most will be a mash-up of similar words in a different order, and a few will be completely unique.  Shared knowledge equals shared opinions by the majority.

Let’s say that for the sake of this post that creativity is setting aside everything you know and allowing imagination to be the origin of your idea.

There are trying times ahead. Innovation (and Ecovation) will be the most valuable tool in the box as some industries will need to literally, recreate the wheel.  And the biggest challenge will be forgetting the way we did things in the past. That’s what got us into this mess.

If bias blinds innovation, then knowledge stifles creativity.

There is much to be thankful for during this upcoming holiday weekend, but it will be that day after tomorrow when we tighten our belts.  Businesses will fail before this year is over.  They failed to be relevant and competitive.  Handing over money to those that failed will not solve the problem.

We need to collectively consider the most creative ideas and engage in innovative solutions to battle our economic recession.  And some of these we haven’t even thought of or imagined yet.

Let’s start with what we don’t know and work from there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Moving the US Economy

In Business News

AIG is getting $$Billions in bailout money.  GM is in trouble.  Circuit City is in bankruptcy.  Industries, cities and lenders have their hand out for money.  We can all agree that stimulating the economy is a priority in this country – and that we have to be smart about it.

Financial handouts are not the solution, no matter how much ‘Performance Oversight’ we tag on management.  And motivating buyers, selling units and liquidating product, is part of the solution but it only addresses half the problem.  Everything has an ecosystem – really big fish eat smaller fish, and so on – and without new jobs there are no little fish and no way for a short term goal to sustain a long term solution.

So let’s not throw good money after lost money.  Here is a better idea to get part of the US economy moving, help save the auto industry, and get fuel efficient cars on the road…

Recycle Marketing

[Example]  Months ago a conversation started with a recycle center in the State of California.  The plan was to coordinate efforts with a shipping company and a home electronics retailer to incentivize people to bring their old monitors to the store parking lot.  People would receive a Voucher (dollar value) to use in the store for each old monitor (limit 3 per person) and the monitors would be put on a palette, put in trailers, and shipped to recycle centers.  This was a win-win-win for each player.

  • People could clear millions of old monitors out of their garage, and save on a new TV / computer
  • Home electronic retailers move their products
  • An emerging industry is now breaking down components and sifting valuables from toxic materials

This was targeted at a state level, with a portion of this recycle money going to developing technologies. The short term goal was to test effectiveness, logistics and efficiency.  The long term objective was to start a national level consumer participation program and challenge innovators to make use of recycled materials.

Would this work with the automotive industry?

There are dead cars sitting on the road, in fields, and in garages all across America.  Let’s turn them into something useful – a jump start for the economy.

1. Take any money the government might use to bailout the auto industry

  • Portion some of it to tax credits for buyers
  • Portion some to the state to save on licensing fees
  • Portion some to the automakers to start a process that properly recycles their old / used models
  • Portion some to create an industry that breaks down old vehicles and develops second life manufacturing

2. GM starts a re-cultivation program

  • GM Dealers take back their own used product / model with $3,000 value vouchers on the trade in
  • GM rolls out employee pricing, and additional incentives to sell new cars
  • GM absorbs the sales loss (accountability for irrelevant product) and it’s better than nothing

3. The State pitches in

  • “No sales tax” on new cars bought between now and June ‘09
  • Subsidize licensing fees
  • An income tax credit based on the price paid for the car

Bottom Line: GM doesn’t get money for being a failure.  America gets more fuel efficient, emission friendly and safer on the roads.  New recycling and development jobs will be created to make something new from obsolete vehicles.

It is a better idea than simply giving money to GM, a company that has been irresponsible with innovation.

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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The Twitter Pitch

It used to be… what is your elevator pitch?  Now its what is your Twitter Pitch?

Consider the communication penetration of Twitter, and the working professionals using Tweets to send quick marketing messages and links.  The premise is simple: can you deliver your value proposal or brand promise in 140 characters or less?

Marketing hasn’t changed all that much, but strategies and the methodology of communication have – and content is being condensed to bite size.  That’s what Relevant Chews are all about.  But Twitter takes blogging to a new level.

The relevance of social networking is undeniable.  Follow this link to see numbers from the presidential campaign and how Barack Obama positioned himself on the Web, particularly on Facebook and Twitter.

Snapshot of presidential candidate social networking stats

If you can convey your message in one sentence, and it makes sense, then you can effectively reach more people.  And history shows that the most innovative storytellers come out winners!

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Spare Change

It is time to accept a few simple truths heading into Q4 2008:

  • This November, the United States will have a new President.
  • The US economy is hurting and will need time to recover.
  • Market competition will be fierce whether your business is growing or at risk.
  • Your marketing strategy may be subject to change.

This is a collective progression of events that will certainly have an impact on your business. Are you ready for this change? And how will your business adapt to this new environment?

This may be the best time for this piece of advice: if you can’t get out of it… get into it. Going with the flow instead of fighting the inevitable requires less resources and it will allow you to embrace change as the life cycle of business.

Change creates a challenge – which creates problems – which create a need for solutions – which create business. Successful companies see change as the catalyst for growth plus a new story to tell.

Whatever the remainder of 2008 throws at you, it is always a good time to anayze the situation and/or create a new marketing strategy. And the best part of change is that it is always starting… now.

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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A Sea of Google

Dare it be said that 10 years ago (1998) Google was a company that could fit into a garage and was in need of angel funding. Now, the company is arguably the internet technology leader with $billions in assets to develop new business.

Why have they evolved so quickly?  And why have we so quickly adopted their truths?  Maybe it’s because Google is consistently pushing the line forward with innovative ideas that – until they became the giant they are today – would have been laughed at by contemporary corporate leaders.

Google’s latest idea is a data center that could be powered and cooled by the ocean. It is a wildly interesting idea, and one that is relevant to sustainability, engineering and technology.

Google’s New Data Center

The ocean remains unconquered territory, but for how much longer when you can Google it?

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Political Marketing

The Democratic Convention started this week, and the Republican Convention starts next week.  What do they both have in common?

If there was a measure for how over-hyped, over-analyzed and over-saturated something could possibly be… the two weeks prior to the NFL SuperBowl is about the only event that holds a candle to the political marketing machine that will be steamrolling America through November.

As for the message, maybe less is more?  The more the politicians talk, the more they can be scrutinized for what they’re saying or the tone in how they’re saying it.  This is endless material for the cable news talking heads that are causing more damage to the process vs. helping translate the message with their evolved tabloid journalism.  What happened to just reporting the facts… please!?

A good message is clear, relevant and to the point.  Wouldn’t that be refreshing political change?

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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