Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Out With The P's and In With The E's!

Millennials have an interesting perspective of the world.

Many not only do not adhere to past models, many never even experienced or have knowledge of the past to have bias.

Take our Connectivity link with Jon Chin in Singapore. Jon actually sees the world through a perspective few of my colleagues can lay claim.

How does this Millennial describe himself?

“I am a naturally curious marketer who is in love with social media marketing, content marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), web analytics, and consumer insights.”

From my perspective… that’s one cool dude!

As a Boomer… and perhaps even some GenXers will concur… the college MBA professors appeared to get a charge out of branding our brains with the 4 P’s of marketing… Product, Place, Promotion and Price.

What’s fascinating about the 4 P’s is that they are all passive nouns and voiced from the perspective of the manufacturer.

Here in this great University town of Athens, one of the area consultants writes a Sunday column in the local Athens paper on marketing products and services.

In this past Sunday’s article, he included all 4 P’s in what marketers needed to address. This local consultant was probably born in the same decade as I was… and Michael Jackson!

The local paper here in Athens needs to embrace 2010... but so do about 95% of the other fledgeling rags in the US!

My bet is that Jon Chin has limited knowledge of the 4 P’s of marketing. And that’s cool too!

Today, Jon posted his support on Twitter of what is called the 4 E’s of marketing: Engage, Educate, Excite and Evangelise… can you tell from the spelling that is was authored by a Brit?

Here’s an exercise…

Tonight, count how many ads on the TV set reflect the past 4 P’s and how many actually Engage the audience, get them Excited and furthermore, get them so Engaged and Excited that they go running out there to not just promote the brand name, but to Evangelize it?

Can a brand really do something like this? Is this really possible?

This afternoon, I got tired of typing up a report in the house, so I packed up my MacBook Air and drove over to the nearest Starbucks to finish the report.

While there, I ended up in some great conversation with others that were also working away on their Apple laptops and our dialogue centered around our Macs and iPhone Apps!

Next door to the Starbucks was a Sprint store. These caffeine-charged dudes got so entrenched in the Apple brand that when folks who had been shopping at the Sprint store came in for a Latte, these guys started selling AT&T and the iPhone alternative.

My bet is that Jon Chin works on a Mac. He also likely connects to others on his iPhone – although, he may have found a way to route the iPhone to his own carrier of choice (smile).

Does your brand Engage audience groups? Do your communications and promotions invite audience groups in to be part of the brand experience?

Do you Educate with information of relevance and importance or do you attempt to persuade and re-program the audience mindset?

Does your product get the consumer excited … and this is just as relevant to paper towels as it is to automobiles? Does your brand marry with the culture of the consumer?

And finally, do your customers become your Evangelists? Do they blog, interact and Twitter with friends about what cool things they are doing within your brand experience and as part of your brand culture?

Its been a while back when I could no longer rationalize (no pun intended) the architecture of the MBA benefit-driven USP model.

It was then that I crafted the EIP or Emotional Ignition Point of a Brand Experience and since then have written a couple of chapters for college textbooks about it.

Jon Chin is right on target. And thanks to Twitter we are able to connect, converse and inspire!

Boomers and GenXers… join me in saying “out with the P’s and in with the E’s!”

From Singapore to London and from Boulder to Athens, we are out there rockin’ with consumers in person, online and through mobile text… so put down that MBA textbook and Come, Let’s Journey!

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Early Opportunity Harvest Time Is Here!

Down here in Georgia’s Piedmont South we are long past the strawberries and now the peaches, tomatoes, watermelons, cucumbers, lettuce and onions are showing up at the back-road vegetable stands and kitchen tables.

Here at my parent’s house, by July 4th, I anticipate having at least several eco-friendly grocery bags full of tomatoes.

My mother said there was no way she would can that much tomato sauce… I said we could get creative and dice up the tomatoes and can salsa instead!

In some ways, there is little difference in what my folks are harvesting this year versus years past.

They are both empty-nesters and they and their peers index strong when it comes to home gardening.

This blog-logue isn’t about them… it instead, is about all those GenXers and even Millennials that planted those seeds and seedlings everywhere from the new virgin gardening plot to the patio containers.

Home gardening is up this year more than 40% over last year. And folks are tending to these gardens now more than ever!

Heck, when I was at Home Depot over the weekend in this college town where I now reside, there were several Millennials picking out seeds for green beans and carrots to go home and plant.

Maybe I some times get the parental urge, but I quickly intercepted them and showed them at least the started plants out in the nursery section.

What I am most surprised at is how little the market is capitalizing on this gardening surge.

I see little of it in the seasonal promotions, little in terms of events and even less yet on the cable nets like Food Network and TLC.

I see few, if any mentions of gardening, harvesting, cooking, canning and freezing on Twitter. And to be honest, I bet some of those recipes that my mother cooks can easily be communicated in 140 characters or less.

Even the classic pubs like Better Homes & Gardens are pre-fixed on home decorating and designing and not capitalizing on just how hot this trend might be.

Where is opportunity?

• The biggest BGO (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious) is the supermarkets and grocery stores need to be marketing the canning supplies

• What about an iPhone App just for freezing and canning vegetables?

• ZIP-Lock alternative “canning” promotion

• Target, Kmart, Wal-Mart and or Pier 1 could all be selling special designer kitchen shelves to showcase the vegetables harvested

• Ace Hardware stores can do special hands-on displays

• Brand sponsored instructional YouTube videos about cooking and canning

• Promotional contests similar to the featured competitive at the fall county fairs

• Hospitals and healthcare institutions showcasing the healthy alternatives to the preserved foods with the all natural garden harvests

• The gardening shops promoting the second round of planting – at least in the South!

Well, the list could go on…and if interested in more, call us! – 404.245.9378!

Bottomline is that with home dining up, home gardening up and limited recovery taking place at this point in time…

I hear opportunity knocking…

So… Hey, Let’s Journey and capitalize on this trend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Twitter Me Surprise! Where Are We?

I already have the grand opening of BrandVenture in Athens, Georgia nailed down… it’s going to be a called a “grand opening Tweats, meets and greets.”

And if all works out we can become friends.

In the last two weeks, I have become a Twitteraddict. I wake up now in the middle of the night and Twitter for an hour or two and then go back to sleep.

I see the world through fellow global eyes and track just how many folks that I follow and those that follow me cite the same trends in the making.

My community is also quickly becoming defined within the confines of Facebook.

Through it I have reconnected with friends, business associates and long lost relatives.

We Link, Comment, Share and Pass on.

But at age 50, I may be more of a mass follower than an early adopter!

It started about a week ago.

Some of my Twitter comrades had gotten hold of the numbers…the number of new Twitter sign-ons had remained the same for the past two months.

There have also been drops in both the sign-ons and time spent on both Facebook and MySpace.

I speculated in my Twitter postings that this could be the very beginning of the S-Curve and the initial drop between initial trend users and early adopter before the full growth cycle takes place in the marketplace overall.

However, my observations were certainly startled by the results of yesterday’s survey on CNN.com:

Question Posted by CNN: Are you tired of social networking?

Yes -- 75% 107,699 respondents
No -- 25% 36,429 respondents
Total Votes: 144128

That is as of 5:55pm on 6/10/09

A couple of my observations:

• Much of what is found on Twitter are links to other information, sources, facts, figures and options — people may be getting tired of the clicks and depth they have to go to then determine what the heck are the take-aways that their fellow Twitterite found of interest

• Whether it is Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or any of the other social media…the initiators and early adopter/addicts were all members of the Millennial Generation…a group of folks that are spending much of their time right now working, job hunting, house hunting and coupling. And while the web still dominates how they do what they do, they have time constraints that define priorities to “just do it” versus telling others that they are doing it!

• Overuse by the press and media outlets and their contest to see how many icons they can get posted next to their logos... The media have Twitter everywhere... It’s no longer trend-setting to use it...it’s where all the masses go now

• Limit to 140 words and lack of much ability to have true dialogue — most is very surface level

• Folks getting tired of the personal “here is what I am doing today or thinking right now” -- I see this same approach as much on Twitter as I do on Facebook

• The limitations of the friendship circle and getting tired of the “same old, same old” -- There was a guy on Twitter with a link to some new Twittertools that enable individuals to really evaluate whether a friend stays, moves to the back burner or goes!

• A desire to connect in person...have an actual hands on experience versus hands on the computer or iPhone keys

I have to agree that it is very possible we are witnessing a critical point in time.

As much as I Twitter and Facebook with friends, I wonder just how much I will do it once I am back full time in the job.

I sent an Email to a client last night about the CNN survey and she quickly responded back that we are at “an intersection of change” yet “the platform has opened up Pandora’s box” and we are being called upon to map out the next phase of change.

I agree.

Some folks think I am crazy when I talk about the books MegaTrends and Future Shock. Both books were first published more than 30 years ago.

High Tech and High Touch is the one trend that I highlight the most. The fact that they both exist in harmony with one another is not too unlike the balance trends cited in the 2008-09 Yankelovich Monitor.

It is my thought that the next stage on hand is finding a way in which relationships are developed within a combination of in-person and online.

It’s not too far off from Hillary Clinton’s book, “It Takes A Village To Raise A Child”…”It Takes A Village To Develop A Brand”…

I invite all to think about it. Send my your thoughts via this Blog or let’s Twitter and connect online.

While it is hard to predict that future, I know this… my client was right on target with her observations.

It’s not a beginning and not an end. It’s an intersection point of change and if we do not embrace it, we will be all left behind.

So crank up that engine, put those sunglasses on and Hey, Let’s Journey!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Boom Town? I Told You So! Really!

I think it was sometime late summer last year that I wrote about the impending housing boom in America.

One of the prospects we were pitching called me and told me he read it. He then went on to say that I was “way too out there” and not a good match with what he was seeking to get positive sales. Went on to say I obviously did not understand the economy.


I went and looked up his website. They have since gone out of business.

There was a story on NBC Nightly News this past weekend about a surge that is taking place in housing currently priced in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. Last night, a local version of that story aired on Channel 11 News.

In one of my “way too out there” states of mind last year, I citied an impending rise of the Millennial Generation and the soon-to-take place wave of their moving from the apartments to their first homes in one of the blogs.

You know the Millennial Generation…that group just shy in size of the Baby Boomers who birthed them into the world about 20-30 years ago?

The NBC story told about the demand going up so much that in a number of markets like Atlanta (the city posting the second highest concentration of Millennials in the US) there were actual bidding wars going on to see just who would ultimately live in the new digs.

The buyers are interesting to say the least…
• The Twenty-Somethings dominate the demo mix
• Green is not a color…it’s a way they live
• The worst financial background they have may concern a credit card
• They are first time home buyers
• “Family Rooms” and “Dining Rooms” are historic terms of the past
• They use their iPods more than they use real estate agents
• If they use an agent, many ended up playing a dual role of both parent and therapist
• New is not necessarily better and 60’s and 70’s tract homes are seen as chic
• They get more out of watching HGTV than reading shelter pubs

Are the homebuilders, real estate and home furnishing markets prepared for the surge? I think IKEA might be, but it’s more by pure chance than a planned out approach.

And this surge in low priced housing is only the beginning of what is going to hit.

If you want to get a taste of this… tune into HGTV weeknights from 8p-9p and watch Property Virgins and My First Place. And then if you really miss Jay Leno, tune back in to HGTV and grab For Rent that airs nightly at 11:30pm,

Oh…and by the way… Property Virgins runs a double schedule from Midnight to 1am and I heard through the grapevine that many of those 20-somethings are converting over to HGTV from Adult Swim.

If you are looking for the safe set, BrandVenture is not the perspective you need.

If you want to jump ahead and recharge your brand and be there when the opportunity hits…Hey…come and let’s journey!