Thursday, October 26, 2006


I'm reminded of how lucky I am to live in the richest nation during the most prosperous time in human history. I need to do more for the world we live in - we all do.

Go here and try the following salaries:

$5,000 - starting to get the picture?

Notice anything interesting?

Three billion people live on less than $2 per day while 1.3 billion get by on less than $1 per day. Seventy percent of those living on less than $1 per day are women.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Bit More On (Red)

(Red) Campaign - San Fran
I snapped this photo on a San Francisco side street shortly after reading some additional blog posts and comments on this blog about (Red).

This (Red) thing is keeping me up at night. In my last post, one of the comments triggered some additional thoughts around how Bono is tying the ONE campaign together with (Red). Taken as a complete thought, it makes a lot of sense to me.

ONE is all about raising the disucssion, the awareness and mobilizing people to care (yay!). (Red) is all about leveraging dollars towards a specific outcome... life saving drugs.

I'm coming around quickly here... it's is however, interesting to note that the ONE site doesn't really present (Red) at all - while the U2 site does.

Bono is my favorite singer and U2 my favorite band of all time - I do not intend to pick on them in anyway - I just wonder if Bono himself (and everyone at ONE and (Red) are still working this all out. I did get an email message from ONE just today, and sure enough it mentioned (Red) was launched this week. I need to blog about their email marketing, the guys at ONE are pretty good moving the conversation to a new level:

At 689 House Parties in all 50 states, over 6,000 ONE members gathered around speakerphones to call candidates and elected officials.

More comments please!

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thoughts on (RED)

Bit of a rant/rambling here... please excuse the mess. I'm not sure I have a take on this (well maybe I do), I'm just working things out in my head and looking to incite you to comment.

My wife Tivo'd Oprah last week and I caught the Bono/(Red) show and since then, I've been struggling with a bunch of questions related to this campaign.

Ok, at a very high level, this all makes great sense. Yes, I'm probably going to go get myself some (Red) shirts at The Gap, and yes, I'd love a (Red) iPod. And yep, I'll feel oh so good about myself. I also understand that (Red) isn't a charity, but a "business model." I understand all these things.

But here's the thing.

I feel uncomfortable and a little shallow about it. Is that just me? I might not be able to explain it in words on a blog, but it just feels empty.

Here's a scenario - is this plausible, probably or am I nuts?

Jimmy Do Gooder goes and gets his cool Inspi(red) shirt and runs around feeling like he's saving people (which he's right about - that shirt is helping to buy life saving drugs - no dispute there!). Jimmy D adds this shirt to his yellow Livestrong bracelet, his Breast Cancer car magnet and his Team In Training license plate holder and suddenly... Jimmy's more like a Nascar driver than a philanthropist. And to boot, he's probably only contributed a grand total of $20 to various causes, but feels like he's donated millions.

YET... after watching Bono and Oprah shop, I really felt inspi(red). Seeing Bono and Oprah do their thing can get to you that way. But then the marketing guy in me came out to play and I thought... what company in their right mind doesn't want a piece of this? How could you not participate? (So where's all the support folks, it is "coming soon"?)

The other thing I'm wondering about is the choice of partners. Armani? Seems a bit high brow and doesn't quite reach the masses... where's Costco? How about Amex? You'd reach more people through local banks and credit unions. I'm thinking more about Swatch watch, Wal-Mart and Payless shoes.

Is there a contradiction here - is this about high end, exclusive items that the average joe can't afford? If so... what are they thinking?! The roster of partners themselves send a message and it feels a bit exclusive to me to be honest. But I could be very wrong.

Are we teaching our kids that we can just shop our way out of these massive problems? Is buying an iPod really the way to go here, or is it that hopeless that Americans (and the world) can't have a conversation about what's wrong in the world and resolve to fix things?

Finally... I've noticed a few things:
  • The Oprah site, just a few days after the show has relegated (Red) to a tiny banner at the bottom of the home page. What's featured right now is a woman who's obsessed with germs.
  • I still can't get some of these products in the U.S. (no Red Amex quite yet)
  • I first heard about (Red) what seems like ages ago - is it because they aren't a charity that this is taking so long to roll out? The first press release was back in January 2006.
We either live in a global village or we don't. We either care about each other or we don't. Is shopping enough? Don't we have a global responsibility to talk about this stuff, even if it feels hopeless and overwhelming?

I'm not saying I'm not going to participate in (Red) - after all - I shop, so why not buy (Red)... I just think there's more to this.

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Book Notes: Word of Mouth Marketing

Because I'm a member of WOMMA, I got an advance review copy of Andy Sernovitz's book "Word of Mouth Marketing" a few days ago. Andy's a great guy who is well connected, well-spoken and has some terrific ideas about WOM marketing.

This book is super easy to read. Much like his recommendations, Andy's writing style is conversational and authentic. The book is chock full of both simple and not so simple WOM concepts, but mostly stuff you can implement right away. He fights against making this book a technical "how-to" and tries to keep it at a fairly high level - and does a pretty good job of it. I think if you are new to WOM marketing, this book will really open your eyes!

We've been applying a lot of tactical WOM things lately including Youtube, Myspace (TNT, Hike, LLS), Million Pixels and a bunch of other stuff including tell a friend links, solid email marketing tactics and audio podcasts on iTunes.

I've been thinking lately however, about how to structure an ENTIRE campaign around WOM. Andy points out how The Prostate Net reached out the 50,000 barbers around the country to drive awareness and results. We have a need to reach more patients - but we need massive penetration in order to achieve our stretch targets of reaching the majority of newly diagnosed blood cancer patients. Constructing a WOM campaign to reach out to caregivers, nurses, doctors and hospitals could be just the ticket. Buying ads in trade magazines just doesn't cut it anymore.

The book also includes a foreward by Seth Godin and an afterword by Guy Kawasaki (Guy wrote my favorite biz book ever - Rules for Revolutionaries).

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Virtual Worlds, Real Training

As I've blogged about before, I've been doing a lot of thinking about games and virtual worlds both from an entertainment, patient services and training perspective. I had a silly idea to create a sample of how we could train Light the Night staff to design and build memorial gardens which honor patients and their families. The idea here, just to be clear isn't to create virtual memorial gardens, but to take basic building blocks (flowers, layouts, walls) and use a virtual world to train staff on how to build and design gardens that can be implemented in the real-world. Second Life just so happens to be a convenient platform right now but is actually incidental to this application.

I used Second Life to create a sample garden area and made this little video. Aside from the clunky user interface of SL and a host of other reasons why this wouldn't work - I think this could work!!!

I could be cynical and name all the reasons (IT, bandwidth, security, training, productivity etc..) of why a virtual world training sim wouldn't work - but I'd rather be optimistic about new training models like this finally emerging and becoming extremely useful (and fun).

Excuse the messy camera work at the end - and me calling it a rock garden, that was just wrong.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Marketing a Non-Profit Brand

I've posted about "The Origin of Brands" before (here, and here) and today I see a beautiful post from Laura Ries about marketing a non-profit brand. Thanks for a wonderful post!

She breaks it down into 7 handy dandy steps which make this post a breeze to read. What I love most about it is how she points out how different an "old" NPO brand is from today's new brands - especially about the use of a non-generic name and a spokesperson.

The best part in my opinion however is #3 - The position. All too often we try to be everything to everyone, providing a "full-range" of services that sometimes defocuses us. Figuring out that core position and executing against it is a challenge in any business, let alone a large non-profit.

There's a ton to chew on here, I think I need to go back and read it again!

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Book Report/Notes: The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth

I read "The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth" quickly on the train back from the Games for Health conference and got very excited by how "The Ultimate Question" can ultimately help non-profits understand where and how they are being successful (or not).

The premise of the book is very simple - by asking a particular question in a particular way and by looking at the results, you can easily understand how to optimize your business.

"NPS" is a net promoter score - and it essentially measures how much your customers love you and are willing to recommend you to their friends, families and colleagues.

The question is very simple:
"How likely is it that you would recommend this company/product/service/event/society/foundation to a friend or colleague?"
By providing a 1-10 scale and categorizing the responses, you can calculate a score.

10-9 = Promoter, 8-7 = Passive, 6-0 = Detractor

You simply calculate the % of promoters and % detractors and subtract the two to get your score (P-D=NPS).

The book shows how different companies have used this approach to manage growth against competitors, and even provides solid examples and ideas on how to slice and dice your NPS. For example, we could easily calcluate NPS across chapters, events (walk sites) or even donor amounts... each score will tell us something about how we're doing.

My only problem is that culturally, we survey people to death - and convincing anyone to just ask that one, simple question isn't going to be possible. I hope to do a test of the Ultimate Question soon, along with some slicing across different areas to get an understanding of how this really works.

I highly recommend this book - it's a fast read and will pack your mind with new ideas. The authors also have a web site and online community as well. I found some interesting posts in "public sector" and in the boards.


Games for Health - What's Next

I mentioned in my first post that I am trying to figure out how LLS should or should not be involved with games/interactive experiences - I don't yet have the answer, but I do have the initial proposition.

I started talking to different people at the conference about how to build an argument for games around outcomes - and I got a series of very consistent answers that revolve around 2 core themes:

1. There is mounting evidence that games/interactive experiences can have very definitive and clinically sound success in driving knowledge and self-efficiacy around health issues.

2. Organizations that intend to solve big problems need to start to innovate (look at how poorly we've done with obesity for example), or they risk obsolecense. Combined with the "proof of life" I've gathered at the conference - and in light of our shiny new 5 year strategic plan, this one will either garner me a standing ovation, or go over like a lead balloon.

As I construct an initiation of games/interactive experience for my colleagues, these 2 core concepts will form the cornerstone and foundation for how I position things. This does not however, mean that we will be developing games! I need to flush several different strategies. Our ability to reach patients and caregivers could mean that LLS should be a game aggregator for cancer related games and tools (in some ways we already do this via links and content on our web site).

That said, microgames could easily be a way for us to develop games very quickly that have very specific and measurable outcomes around a very specific topic or issue. We can also look to use microgames for brand awareness, word of mouth and event recruiting.

As things develop, I of course will post more... GAME ON!

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Games for Health Day 2

The framework for thinking about games is getting clearer and clearer.

An additional type of game emerged today from someone I met who is working at large health portal - the microgame. These games have some distinct advantages over more complex "boxed" games in that they are simpler, less expensive to develop and quick to deploy. In addition, based on the info I got, it seems as if there was a substantial response in terms of game play (4 to 1 clicks to the game vs. other content choices) on the portal.

Expanding further on potential self-efficacy that can come from games - the developers of Escape from Diab (diabetes/obesity prevention game) are on the far extreme of microgames. They've developed a "boxed" game that initially runs on PC's but apparently is flexible enough to be ported to PS and Xbox platforms. The speaker had a particularly good insight:
"Knowledge is necessary, but not sufficient"
In terms of self-efficacy - simply providing PDF documents and static web content isn't enough - it doesn't go far enough in creating self-confidence for example about how to prevent something, or how to react in an emergency. In light of our obesity problem which is getting worse, not better - interactive games like Escape give players tools and strategies to prevent or reduce obesity and at the same time are fun to play.

Another speaker, who developed Journey into the Brain which sold 55,000 copies in retail has a new game coming out called NeuroMatrix - a game about the brain. Cynically, I was snickering at their video promo - the line "frolic in the hippocampus" got a few people chuckling out loud. But the game demo was actually very cool. The game is set up like a mystery with some intense interactive elements combined with patient analysis - and a 1st person shooter.

Next up was Immune Attack which is an educational video game jointly developed by the Federation of American Scientists, Brown University, and the University of Southern California. The game's goal is to teach immunology in a fun and engaging way. As oppposed to a direct to consumer approach of Escape from Diab and NeuroMatrix, Immune Attack is game to be deployed by teachers and played in school. This post is WAY too long already - so I won't go into distribution models, but the topic was conspicuously missing from the entire conference for the most part. In any case, the speaker got at yet another significant issue surrounding serious gaming, paraprhased as:

"IA is a games that teach themes - it is not a teaching aid in the guise of a game"

Later in the day, the guys who developed Re-Mission did a talk about the development of the game and talked over and over again about how they carefully tried to avoid having the game positioned as "edutainment." I'm still learning, but it seems as if "edutainment" is apparently death for a game trying to be commercially successful (although Brain Age seems to be doing pretty well, as are Sudoko and other "brain games").

That night at the reception, Virtual Heros presented some pretty fantastic stuff built on the unreal engine - a special ops training game that measures "vectors" of your response (adrenline, brain activity) and a MASH unit looking game where as a doctor, you can inject a patient with several different things and then treat the patient in a full immersive, 3D world.

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