Monday, May 31, 2010

Home Grown Commerce Is Fueling Growth!

Tomorrow night is class #2.

The class is Introduction to Entrepreneurship

We are going to be discussing how to assess the marketplace, consumers and competition.

In my presentation of the course curriculum, I told the students that information access today is virtual. There is no excuse for not knowing something. The answer is accessible as quickly as you can Google it.

There were seven students in class #1…received an Email telling me that four more students have since signed up.

I have taught other marketing classes, but this class is different.

It is not about my making a difference.

I am moved by their making a difference.

The youngest attending is age 16 and the oldest is a “frontline Baby Boomer.”

It is about half men and half women.

They are basically all from the same town.

A small town.

According to the just released 2010 US Census estimates, the town has a population of 6,298 people.

This is the largest town in its corresponding county.

The city’s Downtown Development Authority is sponsoring the class.

The reason they are sponsoring it?

To build business. To grow their economy. To build a sense of local pride.

Trust me.

I have sat on a number of state and large city economic development and chamber of commerce groups.

Did they ever do something like this?


Now they had their business leadership and mentoring programs. A number had their links to Junior Achievement. And a few put together internship programs for the local university and business school.

But did they actually help to underwrite a class on Entrepreneurship, promote it and host it?


In a time when Big Business and Big Government cozy up together, the idea of a small town taking time, energy and money and fueling local Entrepreneurs is not only innovative…its cool!

The name of the town doing this is Commerce, Georgia.

No joke.

Not New York, not Washington, not Chicago, LA or the ATL… but Commerce.

How much cooler can a name of a town get?

If you are reading this…be encouraged.

The economy will improve. Business will improve. Sales will start growing again.

Maybe I am too much of an optimist.

But when I see small towns and local businesses coming together to get local people to think way outside the box, innovate beyond conventional funding routes and take risks that are way beyond the safety zone…it motivates me.

The corporations cannot change and the universities cannot educate fast enough and affordable enough.

I worked today even though it is a Holiday.

Stop the fixation on Wall Street and Washington…

Instead focus on home-grown Commerce!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Emotions Versus Attributes? I Think They Got It!


I have blogged about this company in the past.

A lot.

Most about their service deliverable breakdowns. Some about the lack of a positive brand experience.

Maybe its because I am an ATT customer.

But... their new ATT Wireless commercials are at least a new piece of evidence that even the big corporations can experience brand redemption!

ATT Wireless, formerly Cingular Wireless, seemed to have overdosed on the attributes of their service offering.

If it wasn’t the price deals of their roll-over minutes (remember those chips?), it was the geography of their coverage or even worse yet, the strength of the signal reflected in the rising bars of the old Cingular wireless logo!

Tonight I saw one of their commercials for the third time.

It’s the one where it opens with an American president being sworn into office and back tracks all the way to a guy seeing a girl in a New York City subway station and knows he is destined to getting on the train to sit next to her.

Its not until near to the end of the spot that you see the guy take out his mobile phone and use an app to get his subway ticket.

And to be honest, you never see the phone again.

There is no mention of the ATT coverage zones. No mention of the brand of phone the guy uses. No mention of price. No mentions really of ATT until you see the logo at the end of the spot.

Instead the spot captures the emotions of connection! And how those connection points are part of the architecture of our life.

I cannot say any of my thoughts next are actually what took place, but I might put a fifty dollar bill on the betting table that I am not too far off.

When ATT took over Cingular and changed over the brand…those guys up in the corporate office probably got the same affect with those bars as they did with Viagra!

And if they could get the surge in the bars…well they had to take on Verizon (who did those guys just think they were!) and their coverage claims.

Then, similar to Dexter of Cartoon Network's first original program, Dexter’s Lab, the cool things those gadgets could do was a rage come true!

All the while, on the agency front, there must have been a fair share of smart account planners out there saying enough with the attributes, we need to tap into the emotional deliverables of the brand experience.

And it’s a risk…a BIG risk for those agency CEOs to sit down with the ATT CMO and say that those attributes are nice…but they are not cementing a loyalty to the AT&T brand that rises above rational thought.

I can hear the CMO now… “What?”

But after the whole fiasco with the Verizon challenge that ATT CEO probably put it simply when he called the CMO into his office… “Re-energize that brand or you will be working somewhere else!”

Isn’t it interesting how crisis can elevate change!

Whatever actually happened may remain behind closed doors, but for right now, those new ATT ads are great examples of marketing the experience and not the mechanics of the product.

I also saw a television commercial over the weekend for a past home décor client of mine.

When we first delivered their brand architecture, they actually fired us.

No joke.

They thought we were nuts.

Since then, they have internalized what we recommended and it has become the architecture of their entire brand and all of the components of its delivery.

If you watch HGTV or read Elle Decor, you have probably seen it.. "Shaw. Where Great Floors Begin!"

Over the next few weeks I have some great meetings with some top CEOs.

ATT is actually a brand I intend to talk about… positively!