Friday, December 10, 2010

Everything Is Wonderful Now

"There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn't matter which path you take.The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone else that their path is wrong."

A friend recently sent me this. According to this friend of mine, it's a part of the Hindu teaching philosophy. I'm not sure what part or why or how, and to tell the truth I really don't care. I do care that it's a wonderful life philosophy and something that I will try to tell myself as I handle difficulties at work, with my family and in general. 

The reason why? Because it's so fucking true. 

There are enough people running around making this world miserable that if you opt to NOT be one of those people, you have indeed made a choice to make a difference. You don't even have to be one of those people who set out to make POSITIVE change happen. You simply have to commit to NOT making things miserable. 

It's sounds so simple, yet I ask you: how many people do you know that fall into one of these categories? How many people do you know that are simply miserable people waiting for the next opportunity to spread their misery? And then, ask yourself; how many people do you know that make you smile?
See? Those smiley people? They are wonderful. Whether they know it or NOT.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's All Relevant

I'm just your average girl.

But today I'm attempting the impossible.

Rubber gloves? Check.
Goggles? Check.
Bleach? Check.
Long-sleeves? Check.
Fire Extinquisher? Check.
Plunger? Check. (You never know.)

Travel on this high-flying adventure with me. Imagine a deep sleep. And a full bladder. Abruptly awake, now imagine a very hurried trip to the little girls room (or boy, whatever). Fantasize with me here, but continue to imagine the level of relief and contentment that washes over oneself when these worlds collide successfully.


What's that? No toilet paper? Simply a leftover cardboard roll? What the hell? How the hell did THAT happen? What the hell are you to do? Who do you call? Who can possibly help? There is no way out? How did this happen?

Oh, yeah. That's right. You forgot how difficult, if not impossible, it is to change the toilet paper roll. Gather your strength, because today I'm going to walk you through the process. I know, I know. Just an average Joe like me. Tackling such a global issue so early on a forlorn Thursday morning. Well, as it will surely go down in history books, someone has got to do it.

On second thought, maybe I'll save this gem of a life-skill all for myself. It's forever a fight for relevancy, no?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just One More Thing

 A little story of inspiration.

A little girl. A little run. A little hope for the future.

Like A Box Of Really Crappy Chocolates, Really

It's been a tough week. The holiday season is suddenly upon us and so are all the lovely side dishes that often are served up alongside the main meal, main meal, real deal. Things like green bean casserole, end of year budget halts, early Winter blues, ear infections and planning the obligatory family gatherings. All one in the same, really.


So that's what I've been doing. What about you? What about the rest of the world?

Well, it seems the Pink is pregnant. And the jobless rate hit 9.8% with only 39,000 new jobs added this past month, which is good news for no one, really. And of course, WikiLeaks proved once again that open diplomacy is indeed fatally flawed (Sorry Woodrow). And Harry and Lisa are two of the worlds biggest idiots. And Senator James Meeks is running for Mayor of Chicago on two appalling platforms; 1. by taking advantage of the disadvantaged and the homeless and 2. by shunning everyone who isn't exactly like him and voting against the civil union legislation currently in front of Illinois lawmakers. And a Facebook mob turns against international Muslim action. And I don't really care too much about Carnival's Cruise PR crisis and you shouldn't either. Unless you were on the boat. But the fact is, no one is on the boat now, so everyone should probably just get on with living their lives.

It's an odd reality we live in. The more things change (like Lisa's lips) the more they stay the same. Unfortunately, when things bubble up (like Lisa's lips) we need to address them or suffer the consequences. Which are often humiliatingly truthful and emotional. Not unlike The Situation, really. Life is like a reality TV show except it's reality. Really.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Shopping?

What does Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday all have in common?

Well, I'm guessing that they will all be trending Tweets in Twitter. So far, #blackfriday and #smallbizsat have been promoted tweets, for Target and American Express, respectively. So, who will sponsor #cybermonday?

Amazon is definitely a contender. Overstock is too, and so are maybe QVC, HSN or eBay. Then there are the smaller online fashion shops like BlueFly, Zappo's, Boden, ModCloth and J.Peterman. Or maybe it'll be a travel shop  like Expedia or Orbitz as more and more people are traveling less and less. I guess we'll see.

For this weekend, here are a few other online opportunities for the shopper's delight...remembering, of course, that Sunday is indeed a day of rest.

Check out the Bacon Balm from Perpetual Kid and make sure to sign up for the Wish A Day giveaway from Kaboodle:

Minion Madness to win fabulous prizes. And waste precious weekend shopping hours. All in good fun. 

Woot, MyItThings, Zebo, Groupon, Iliketotallyloveit and ShopStyle are also on my hot list of social shopping desitinations this holiday season and beyond.

What's your favorite way to avoid holiday shopping congestion?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chumlee or Sylvie?

No, really, vote for Sylvie. Who cares about upcoming (or current) political campaigns, anyway? So much muckraking, so little fun. And if you can't vote for Chumlee, why bother showing up on election day?

Here is something fun to vote for: Jones Soda Sylvie.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Case study: American Express Members Project

What kind of marketing works when there is no substantive customer service issue as the mainstay content king, like Home Depot's big bet? That's the question when it comes to participation marketing, isn't it, Todd Defren?

I should state that I think Todd is brilliant in his conclusions that things need to be both sexy and long-term (sounds a lot like what most marriages need) but I'm not so sure participation marketing is as clear to strategize when it comes to a business that has less apparent customer service content to broadcast and share.

Does that mean we must cultivate a customer service "awareness" campaign to tell consumer we care? Or does that mean we find other ways of showing we care? And then ask consumers if they, too, care.

I think it's a combination of all of the above, plus each case must be examined on it's own merits when it comes to fully integrating social media as part of a larger campaign.

Here is an example of an organization fully integrating their corporate endeavors with their social media strategy; also a good use of a celebrity endorsement.

To the consumer, it starts as a FB ad with some compelling copy --- "Don't Be A Sue." and attached to a trending topic: Glee. Or in some cases, it starts as a TV viewer of Glee searches online for Glee assets and gets pointed to the Members Project Facebook site (that also offers a Glee tab). Any way the consumer reaches the destination is the same; the multichannel seeding is robust and therefore, succesful.

In the case of the FB ad, the video pops up in a frame right there on Facebook and delivers some quiky, funny humor with a call to philanthropic action; driving to a fully built-out Facebook site.

The site offers 27 other compelling video's, areas of engagement for users, a tab for fans of Glee and more; all with the goal of promoting their contest to donate $1m to charity; and thus promoting their brand quite nicely.

The site has 341,627 fans. American Express has 80,566 fans and Glee has over 8,000,000 fans, so clearly there is plenty of room for growth. (In my own circle of FB friends, 14 are fans of Glee. Wow. Must mean I have a lot of twisted, sarcastic, trendy friends. Yay!) But more than that, people are showing signs of correlating content to content...they enjoy Glee, they enjoy (or dispise) Sue, Sue promotes AE Members Project...they become engaged with AE Members Project...they think positively about AE.)

Of course, there is data I don't have: how much money was spent in budget for marketing this campaign compared to overall marketing of AE, GLee, and the Members Project - and how this activity impacts the financials of AE or even the public perception of the brand. But the idea here is that there is an equation worth investigating when it comes to baking a successful social media strategy for a large corporation; use your existing partnerships...pithy up your areas of opportunity to build the strongest campaigns and add into those campaigns these ingredients:

1. compelling content (unique, emotional, funny, slightly offensive, very funny, with kids, causes, puppies or superstar & celebrities)

2. a reason (contest, sweepstakes, prize, voting, etc.) to engage, share, comment, forward, reply

3. a concentrated brand...a robust experience...a strong following (users can tell when campaigns are low budget, slapped together last minute or not a real area of interest for the enterprise...if the company doesn't care, why should the consumer?)

It's interesting to note that for the last two years, American Express has been listed as 22, 24 for the years 2009, 2010 respectively, on Interbrand's Best Global Brands. Read an interview with Alison Bain, their head of International Advertising. Good stuff.
Anyone have insight into how much American Express commits to Members Project each year? Or how much they pay for their partnership with Glee? That would be good stuff to know, too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

When I Say People, I Really Mean Strangers

We all want people to like us.

Insert "You like me!" You really, really like me! World-famous uber-tanned, super skinny Sally Field acceptance speech. Ugh. On second thought, I won't insert the link. I like ya too much.

Of course, when I say people, I'm referring to total strangers.

That's why we want to collect friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and connections on Linkedin. That's why we stack business cards on our desks and drop names like they are going out of style every chance we get. That's why we carry expensive clutches and wear name-brand shoes. That also explains why we write our names on our arms and legs and t-shirts when we run marathons and volunteer for good causes.

We want to broadcast our good deeds and really tell people how awesome we are.

It's called personal branding. And EVERYONE DOES IT.

If they don't, I really wouldn't know. Either would you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Are you a Necessity? It's all Relevant.

In the world of marketing - and life - the struggle is always the same.

To stay relevant.

Back in the day the equation to accomplish this was likely same as it is today, but the factors are constantly shifting. For example, when folks, farmers and cowboys clamoured around a soapbox to hear about some magical hair tonic or whooping cough elixir, few people had expendible cash and even fewer people had hair maintenance as a top priority in their life. (Cowboys carried six-shooters back then for a reason.)

Now, when people gather 'round a television or pop open a laptop, they are very much in the same state of engagement as back in the Wild, Wild West. Plus, they know better. They has access to instant experts to tell (or sway) them away or toward whatever new tonic or elixir you are trying to pitch.

For me, personally, this entire equation is thrown out the window as soon as one thing happens.
Here is how it goes:

Me: My baby is acting like she is sick.
Doctor: We can try a little of this, a little of that, maybe this and maybe that.
Me: Oh. Really? Is that good? Is that safe? I read on the internet....
Doctor: Of course. I'm the doctor. I'm the expert.
Me: Okay. (Opening wallet) Take whatever you need to make baby feel better.

I realize that, as consumers we are growing stronger and smarter with our purchasing power and web-education of illness and disease, but sometimes I am amazed at the simplicity of it all. And when I find myself in that place of wonder, doubt, helplessness and desperation, I am more than happy to let all the wisdom WebMD has to offer, all the knowledge at my fingertips and in front of my televised face fall to the wayside.

Which is, of course, a marketing tactic of days past. Elevating the relevance to the point of necessity.

It's brilliant, really, how much the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Then again, I'm almost certain that my medical health depends on mamma getting a new pair of shoes today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chicago Marathon

We finished the Chicago marathon. Here is proof.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Everyone Wants to Matter

Everyone wants to matter. Some people want the whole world while others sleep soundly knowing that a single soul out there rests with the same amount of interest and care as they, for they.

So that's really my biggest problem with continuous partial attention. What? You don't know what that is? Yes. You. Do.

It's the fact that email dictates our work flow instead of supports it. It's the reason for articles on blackberry etiquette. It's the guy at a coffee shop ignoring his beautiful date. It's the mom on the soccer field feverishly checking her Facebook. It's me shopping online while at the same time writing a blog post while walking the dogs and putting on shoes while texting my sister. And it's not multitasking, folks. Nope. It. Is. Not.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Giuseppe Must Have Been Omnipotent

Buy a friend. Get a fan. Go on a date. Whatever.

It's all the same to me, kid.

The crucial elements are all the same in order for a transaction to be completed; currency, dialogue, mutually benefitting arrangements aaaaaannnnd SCENE. Deal over and out. What am I talking about? Social shopping, of course. Duh.

Here is an example;
Dude #1: I was out last night.
Dude #2: No you weren't.
Dude #1: I was. I went to that new place.
Dude #2: No you didn't. I didn't see you check in.
Dude #1: That's because I was on a date. (Holding up his iPad and shaking it ever so slightly.) With a REAL girl. 

In a strange and crushingly absurd correlation, has anyone ever purchased a friend? Have you ever wanted to make a friend into a pet? I shit you not, you can do it. Go ahead, check out!/friendsforsale and learn what it is exactly that has garnered more than 1 million fans across the Facebook frontier. While you are doing it, though, try not to judge those who do, because you never know where you will find yourself in this adventure we call life.

I guess what I am talking about today is human truths. In particular, I am talking about human truths when it comes to the field of emerging technology and social media. But when I state it that way, even I feel my eyes rolling back and my lids lowering in pure exhaustion.

The fact is, that the very idea of social shopping works so well because we are talking about reaching a person when they are asking to be reached. It's the pizza delivery promise in a relationship-based reality. When someone is seeking companionship, entertainment, courtship, adventure, conversation, interaction; social media has the power to deliver those experiences, piping hot in less than 30 minutes, right to your front stoop. Many tools in the social media repertoire allow people to reach other people whose specific needs are often similar; or in the very least, offer an array of custom order options. You want pepperoni, mushroom but no onion at all? Done. Only onion and no pineapple, please? Okay. And still, when that pizza dude delivers, there is still an aura of surprise and engagement and lust that likely makes us want to return the next time we seek such (human) interaction.

The danger here is two-fold. One, we can get addicted to feeding the need. And two, we can lose touch with actually being touched.

People that talk only in 140 character sentences. People that look at any new experience through a webcam and a webcam only. People that attend keynote speakers and never once make eye contact with anything other than their palmed mobile device. People that read and write but have never done. All CEO's and no factory workers. All business owners and no customers. That's the danger in living in any one dimension exclusively. We lose touch because we think we are so well connected.

And there are dangers to a social life, as well. Imagine walking into a bar, and tap, tap, tapping on the crystal face of your watch while yelling into the crowded room, "Who wants to come home with me tonite?"

Chances are, someone is going to take you up on your offer. And why not? You are soooooo popular. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Big Cheese and other idiotic idioms

Have you ever had bigger fish to fry?
The big cheese is always better than the little cheese. It's cheese, after all.
Hide the salami or some other type of phony bologna.
Sour grapes make good wine or good wine will turn anyone's sour grapes into smiles. Up to you.
Bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan...oh, nevermind.
Know what goes well with wine, cheese, fish and salami? Not bacon, but instead a hot potato.

If you caught all those idioms, you may (or may not) be an idiot. But don't worry. You are not alone. Why, just tonite Jay Leno announced that Barack Obama told reporter's that indeed, he is a Christian. What? The? Hell? Who cares? Apparently more people than I care to realize. Oh America.

Not so long ago, Newsweek's online newspaper published a sort of their own idiom in a story that mocks "America the Beautiful," contending that perhaps we are, "America the Ignorant" instead.

Included as one of the infamous misnomers is the accusation that Obama is Muslim. Also, some people think that the sun rotates around the earth. More people can name more dwarfs from Sleeping Beauty than Supreme Court Justices. Actually, as sad as true, it's not to tough to believe. More Americans know the names of Sleeping Beauties and Ben & Jerry's than they know who sits on the highest court of them all. Makes sense. Everyone likes beautiful ice cream. Especially chocolately deliciousness.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

OH and In the News

I hate it when people stand behind their faith as a way of judging people. Don't we have better things to do? Like anything on the long list of things that people are getting judged on, perhaps.

Here are just a few things overheard and in the news that makes me think twice.

Christine O'Donnell. Ugh. Sarah Palin's long lost cousin from the woods. Thou shall not this, thou shall not that. Thanks for thinking out loud today Christine. Next time worry more about matching your toe nail polish to your clutch. Concentrate on your strengths, I always say.

Isreal. Hello? Which is worse? Government interference or the porn industry? Apparently porn, as recently decided by the Isreali government.
An animal planet reporter got attacked by an anachonda. Not at all a surprise. That's what you get for trying to interview a freaking killer snake, you moron.

And The Situation crashes and burns on the dance floor. What a disaster of a phenomena.

And in a final twist of fate, Harvard drop out turned youngest CEO billionaire in history, Zuckerberg is reportedly giving away a small chunk of his fortune with the goal of probably increasing his fame. Thanks, in no small part, to Justin Timberlake and the cast and crew of the upcoming sure to be box office wonder, The Social Network.

In other news, a social media study on digital natives was released by MTV and Volkswagon. The study targeted the social media consumption habits of audiences within the 18 -32 market (or something ridiculously young and dumb like that.) No real surprises y'all. Young hip trendy folks want MTV and they want to smoke it too. They want Doritos and they want skinny jeans. They want to watch Jersey Shore and they want a seat at the grown-up table to discuss politics and tax breaks. They want instant communication, multiple outlets for social media monitoring and super woofers for ultimate audio experiences. Simply put, they want it all. Which is soooooo much different than any other generational study out there, right?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

L is for the Way You Look At Me Until Death Do Us Part

O is for the only one I see.
V is very, very, extra-ordinary.
E is even more than anyone that you adore can

Love is all that I can give to you.
Love is more than just a game for two.

[Channeling fog horn] Wrong!

It is a game for two.
Haven't you heard that two is company but three is a crowd?? There is a reason why this is so true. Because it's true. Two people in love are okay. But three people makes it a triangle and that is, well, pointy. And not in a good way, either.

And what happens when there is too much love? It dies a quick and painful death. In life, but also in social media. Did you hear the one about the Facebook plant that died from getting too much love from all over the world? It's a true story, too.

I guess my point is - aside from a reference to the triangle - that all we need is love.