Friday, September 30, 2005

Womma Part 2 - What I learned

My boss asked me how the conference went yesterday and I ended up spending the next 20 minutes spouting off about all sorts of stuff.

Observation #1 - The Ad Industry has a clue that something odd is going on 'round here
It's immediately apparent that the ad biz is waking up to the fact that the world has changed. My observation is that they will continue to struggle because:

  1. They are caught between clients who haven't got a clue and their own mental model of how advertising used to work (run TV ad, and repeat).
  2. They can't figure out how to get paid for coming up with ideas.

I found it really interesting that several interactive agencies have found niches within larger ad agencies, but that things aren't quite "integrated" yet.

Observation #2 - Word of Mouth only works as part of an integrated campaign
There was a lot of good debate about how to deploy WOM strategically, but in many cases it was relegated to a PR stunt, or simply a way to justify over the top creative. One of the most interesting exchanges that was a discussion about Subservient Chicken and whether or not it ultimately had an impact to Burger King.

Several presenters made the point that The Chicken campaign wasn't really effective because the brand wasn't represented and that it was really just a gimmick. Contrary to that was a comment that in the end it helped to reposition BK by continuing to layer impressions to their target audiences. (I'm paraphrasing). When I think about integrated campaigns, I'm reminded of Shrek, who is like an onion (layered).

I don't have a strong personal opinion other than to say that I though Subservient Chicken was brilliantly executed and fun, but that I have not since gone into a BK Lounge for anything other than to use the bathroom on a road trip.

Observation #3 - Insights into How to Find (and then utilize) Key Influencers
A lot of the discussion made the assumption that we knew who our key influencer are and a bigger assumption that we'd know what to do with them. Depending on your perspective, and how much Seth Godin you've read you'll either easily know the answer or you'll be 100% in the dark.

I didn't get a feel in the room for where most people sat, but did come away with some key thoughts:

  1. You can EASILY identify who your key influencers are by reviewing your incoming emails. Those who take the time to email or call you are probably high on the influencer list! Talk to them. Invite them to the party.
  2. You can easily identify key influencer by simply putting up links on your web site and in your emails that asks folks for feedback on different issues.
Once you've built a list of potential influencer, putting them to work is a great idea. Here are some starter ideas:
  1. Beta test new products
  2. Testing new ad concepts
  3. Having them develop new messaging
  4. Asking them for content (stories, photos, whatever!)
  5. And a million other things...
Observation #4 - Authenticity Rules (but is hard to do)
Ok, it's way to easy to take a shot at advertisers here... The bottom line though is that the overriding message I took away from the conference is that either you and your brand is authentic, or it's gone.

I found it amusing that so many presenters highlighted the downside of WOM (bad press, bad reviews etc...). It was almost as if the message was be authentic, stick your neck out, go for it.. But be careful because someone might not like your product. You think?

I have a pretty black and white perspective on authenticity which is either you ARE, or you AREN'T so please stop trying to fool everyone.

Step 1. Build something worth buying or using (or donating to).
Step 2. Get really excited that you accomplished Step 1 and tell everyone.
Step 3. Repeat Step 2 often and early.

Seriously though, having to define authenticity and having so many presenters talk about it means that marketers don't quite get it (actually, smart marketers get this in a big way and get to keep all the gold!).


WOMMA Part 1 - My Presentation

I survived making a presentation to what seemed like 300 or so folks at the WOMMA conference in NYC this week. This was by far the biggest crowd I've ever presented in front of, and I was thrilled to have Steve Sarner from and Jason Woodmansee from TaylorMade on the panel with me.

Our panel was to discuss "Tools that Accelerate Word of Mouth" - and borrowing from Guy Kawasaki, I created a Top 10 list.

10. Be Accessible
9. Create Exclusivity
8. Be Spontaneous
7. Start a Blog
6. There is an "offline" world - use it!
5. Utilize Message Boards
4. Get Out of The Way
3. Embrace User Created Content
2. Talk to Those Who Care
1. Be Authentic

In thinking about this list and talking with folks afterwards, I do realize that these aren't strictly "tactics" - but more of a collection of techniques and tools to consider using. I'll post more about what I learned at the conference and how and when these are applicable.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Data Integration Nightmares...

Rick Johnston has a good post on his new blog at he talks about data integration. His quote "Few have yet been able to grab the brass ring" is certainly a fair assessment from what I've seen as well!

Post your thoughts over on his blog!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I'll be speaking at a WOMMA gig in a few weeks - talking about building word of mouth and buzz online using different tools like blogs and online communities.

Check this... you can get hooked up with a $50 discount as a courtesy to my friends and readers of this blog -- just enter this code: "speakerdeal" and you'll be all set!

Seth Godin is the keynote - and there are some other terrific speakers lined up.

Monday, September 12, 2005


When is doing a donation appeal opportunistic vs. it being appropriate? Over the past week, I've seen almost every major non-profit put messaging out to constituents about how they are "helping" the hurricane victims - just about every singe major non-profit has both a statement and some mission related content for victims of hurricane Katrina to read.

The question I'm asking myself is - where is the line - and does it matter? For example - should a non-profit look at a natural disaster as a way to directly increase fundraising just because they have a local presence (ie a chapter or a program)?

I'm also asking myself "Is it OK to "create" new content that highlights the services in the affected area and promote that content to donors to try to increase donation activity?"

I believe that it is our responsibility to first and foremost update constituents in the affected area about our mission services - who to call, how to get help etc... in the case of "emarketing" services like web help, chat and message boards that can be tricky or impossible. I'm not exactly sure how many of our constituents are surfing the web in New Orleans at this point.

I did a quick check on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society discussion boards, and there was one posting wishing those affected well but that was it.

I do however believe that it's our responsibility to alert our donors, volunteers and others connected to us of what we're doing as an organization to provide any additional relief. Not from an appeal/donation standpoint, but as a point of information so they understand how we are executing our mission.

Past that I'm just not sure how much more we should be doing online.

Update: P.S. As I wrote this, I realized that keeping this discussion to emarketing only is tricky, or possibly useless - after all - emarketing is not a stand-alone channel. Perhaps the better way to frame this entire discussion is in a broader context.

Friday, September 09, 2005

First Post...

First posting of a new blog is sort of like the first day of school... I have very, very modest hopes for this blog however... no pressure.

I've been thinking about creating a new blog that will help the non-profit marketers learn, share and continue to do great work. I hate talking too much about myself, but just for background, here's how I ended up working in the non-profit sector...

First came college (Go NOLES!) - my degree in Advertising helped me learn that media buying wasn't my cup of tea. After doing an internship at an ad agency ($100 a month!!), I ended up back in school at the Art Institute of Atlanta where I learned to be a graphic designer. Jobs at MCI and UPS helped me realize that doing print graphics and forms layout was about as exciting as media buying. The Internet was the place for me...

I met a guy named Mark Swanson who was running a small technology company in Atlanta and joined his crew building websites. Our little company was eventually bought by iXL (yep, you remember those guys don't you). I was one of their first Information Architects and learned a lot about site design and project management at iXL - and eventually helped create a company called Kinzan based in San Diego which made an enterprise software package.

From there, I did one last start up (One last get rich quick scheme I mean) and woke up one day feeling pretty empty, extremely drained and all out of passion. I had planned to move to NY (back to family) from San Diego and started a job search. By accident, I saw a posting for a Web Alliances position at the March of Dimes. I hadn't ever thought about working for a not-for-profit until that moment, but inspiration hit me over the head... why work to help some rich dudes get richer - why not attempt to be a part of the greater good - why not put my skills to work in a way that could actually benefit society?

I ended up working at MOD for more than 3 years and had a wonderful time. My legacy is a community web site called "Share" - a site I battled for and won against internal politics and technical odds, but is now flourishing amazingly well.

I'm now parking my vast library of business books and Mallrats Inaction figurines at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I've been at LLS since December 2004 and have been having a heck of a time getting things rolling here - but we're well on our way!

So... back to the blogging bits... I plan to share insights, thoughts and hopefully to develop relationships through this site that can benefit your non-profit as well! If you stumble across my little blog, feel free to drop me a line.

Stay tuned...