August 31, 2009

Marketing: Budget Item or Necessity?

Underspend To Success

Few industries have been spared during the last 18 months. We’ve read about employee cuts and budget restrictions. As the cliché goes, the only way through it is through it. But how does that affect your business? If you are in a management position or you own the company you are well versed with budgets.

Budgets are delightful things that can consume you. They can reduce your hopes and dreams, your hard work and creative plans to a list of numbers and codes on a spread sheet.

Beans and Pennies

If you work for or own a large enough company, you may even have someone who sits in their office staring at said spread sheets with alarming regularity. If you or your boss is someone others call a “bottom liner” then those spread sheets can be the only focus. Lower the numbers at the bottom of the screen and everyone is happy, right?

In some companies, short-term thinking and this-quarter-only mentality is rewarded. What’s even scarier, some people are given additional financial compensation for making the line at the bottom as small as possible.

Where is Marketing on the list?

If the directive is to cut costs, which items go first? Do you cancel phone service? Do you stop paying the mortgage or rent? What about computers and utilities? It couldn’t be salaries and marketing budgets, could it?

The first stop seems to be items on the general ledger that are perceived to not be spent yet. After all, you can squeeze through a couple of quarters without letting customers and potential customers know about your offering, right?

Strategy Strategy Strategy

Think long and hard before you interpret that marketing and people are expendable because they are the only reason your company is different than others. Marketing is not advertising, it is not a campaign, it is a fully integrated part of your company.

Marketing is just as crucial as the phone system. In fact, stop your marketing efforts and you may notice the phone is ringing a lot less than usual.

Road Maps not Blindfolds

Your marketing efforts must be carefully planned. Simply carrying out activities that seem to look and smell like marketing is not enough, you must know the reason for this action.

We all must be fiscally responsible. Spending must be done wisely, but simply getting out the hatchet and calling that a "revised business plan" can be dangerous and potentially suicidal.

You must understand the potential results of each effort and manage your expectations behind them. If you have a strong strategic plan, marketing will quickly become as big a priority as keeping the lights on.

What are your thoughts?

Let's create experiences, not campaigns

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August 28, 2009

Appearing Tonight: Social Media


Tickets sold out weeks ago. The anticipation has been building to a feverish pitch. People are talking about it on the radio, on the Internet, on television, the newspaper did a pullout section and it’s on all the talk shows.

The Claims Are True

It helps your business grow and is the answer to all of your dreams. Some can get you instant meaningful relationships with other people in a matter of days. Nothing like this has hit the human race since the invention of individually wrapped cheese slices.

Also on the bill are; Twitter, Facebook, BackType, Bebo, Flickr, MySpace, Plaxo, Blip, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Digg and about 40 others. Scalpers are expected to fetch five times face value. Some are saying that blog and podcast may also make an appearance but unconfirmed reports say that webinar and chat room weren't able to make the trip.

Tonight's The Night

The parking lot is jammed; the line-up is around to the back of the venue, the throng shuffles quickly to their seats. The lights dim, the curtain rises, the excitement is palpable and then thousands stare at an empty stage. The sound of rustling popcorn bags, coughs and throat clearing echo throughout the venue.

Unrest begins to brew. Mumbles of refunds and claims of a rip off begin to circulate. How could they charge such an outrageous price for such a letdown?

After what seemed to be an entire full minute, the angry mob begins to walk out. Threats of lawsuits can be heard far and wide.

Clearly social media had not lived up to the hype like all the other liposuction, one-way conversation, get-rich-quick, what’s in it for me, have it now pay it never promises.

Social Media: Meet Human Networking

If all the world's a stage, perhaps we shouldn't wait for others to begin the performance? If social media is scary to you or your impatience as gotten the best of you after a handful of tweets, keep in mind how long it took to gain the trust of others and others to earn yours in real life.

Are you waiting?
Are you looking for the refund?
Are you participating?

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August 26, 2009

Motivation: It's Different For Everyone

A King Is Born

From your earliest memory, life is filled with every possession you desire. Your destiny is to become the king of a nation and you will never know life as a 'commoner'.

The Reluctant Hero

From the ashes of a relationship at the hand of an abusive husband, you raised your son on welfare and a part-time job at the gas station. You put yourself through university night school and achieved a bachelor degree in business administration. Your company now employs three people. Your son has been accepted on a full university scholarship.

Silicon Son

You were a smart kid with a penchant for numbers. You saw a chance to revolutionize the personal computer. Forbes Magazine names you the richest person on earth.

Green Thumbs Up

After declaring bankruptcy for the second time you discover your love of gardening. Leaving the fast lane of stock trading and money management, you open a local nursery with two high school friends. Life couldn’t be better.

Chicanes and Hairpins

Some say you were born in the cockpit of a race car. With almost flawless technique you become world champion seven times and the highest paid athlete on the planet for over a decade.

Fear Of Nothing

After working hard for more than twenty years to make money for the corporation, you are handed a severance package and a box under your arm. On the first day of freedom you begin to do all those things you were afraid to try. First on the list: skydiving.

A Living Inspiration

You lived your life helping the poor and helpless. You won the Nobel Peace Prize. You were beatified by the Pope and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Flying High Again

Faced with unthinkable odds you endure four agonizing years of reconstructive surgery. The plane crash almost ended your career, your private airline business and most certainly your life. Earning your pilot’s licence again and buying your new Lear Jet feels like a new beginning.

Success: Earned and Replicated

Your parents divorced when you were seven years old. You brought yourself from the brink of personal bankruptcy to a current annual salary as a motivational consultant of $30 Million.

Thanks Dad!

Your wife was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder a year after your second son was born. The company you built for eight years is going under. Twelve months later, the company is profitable again and your wife is fine. The talk with your dad about staying positive and focusing on the good stuff seemed to work.

Born Leader

Your mother struggles to put food on the table. Before his death, you met your father once. You become the first African American President in U.S. history at the age of 47.

What is your motivation?

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August 24, 2009

Is Thinking A Lost Art?

The mind is the most capricious of insects.
Virginia Woolf

If I asked you how often you think, you’d probably say – always.

And that’s true.

If I asked how often you allow yourself time to think about what you want to accomplish or roll an idea around in your head before acting or just sit in your workspace and ponder new creations – how would you answer?

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.

Why don’t we allow ourselves time to shut off the unrelenting chatter and noise once in a while to strategize and let a project filter through our gray matter?

What would you do if you walked into someone’s office and they were simply sitting in their chair staring out the window? Would you wonder if they were napping or perhaps daydreaming? Is it possible that they could simply be thinking?

Believing is easier than thinking.
Bruce Calvert

If you do presentations as part of your job, you probably have some sort of ritual. I enjoy cranking some tunes while I make hand written notes. Then I slowly piece together the story. I have a colleague who can’t do any presentations at the office, she has to take them home where there are no distractions.

Distractions are everywhere, they never leave us and if we ever find a rare moment void of them we have gotten very good at creating some simply but going to a website or signing on to the social web.

Thoughts create a new heaven, a new firmament,
a new source of energy, from which new arts flow.
Philipus Aureolus Paracelsus

I used to work with a guy who spent his entire day stuffed inside his blackberry dealing with "other issues" rather than making eye contact and dealing with the one he was currently facing. I call it 'technological avoidance'.

We humans can’t seem to deal with the quiet, the time alone with our simple thoughts. We have this inherent need to fill our minds with stuff then blame the stuff for our busy lives.

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts
into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
Johann Wolfgang von Geothe

We don’t give ourselves or each other the proper time to think things through. Time is money, deadlines loom, the client needs an answer right away, we have to finish that immediately.

Where is the time to create? How on earth can we give anything the proper deliberation when society judges us by solution reponse rates?

A caution: thought without decision won't work either.

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.
Albert Einstein

When was the last time you devoted an entire day to thinking. No email, no websites, no calls, just you and maybe a notepad and pen. If you haven’t tried it, you should. If you are a manager, you should get your people to give it a shot.

Schedule some think time in your day. Don’t just fill it up with stuff so you can end each day exhausted and satisfied you "got a lot done today”.

Thinking is doing and we simply don’t do enough of it.

When do you think?

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August 20, 2009

A Day Without Email

In The Key Of E

My dear sweet three year old laptop lost it's E. It stopped working. That didn't stop me from taking an hour to clean and vaccuum and retry the key a hundred times. I found out on Tuesday how often we use the letter "E" in the English language.

Technology Old Age

I realize that three years constitutes a good run for laptops and she doesn't have the processing power or enough RAM or a large enough hard drive anymore but she has been with me through thin and thick. She is now sitting patiently on the couch in my office waiting for me to take her to the shop for a new keyboard and adaptor.

Paint me foolish but this is not from a place of cheap, it is my reluctance to add to the world's landfills and unless it's hopeless why not try and save her over an E?

Call A Guy

The week was not without some fun times. When you work for a large company, you have a guy you can call to fix this stuff. The IT department, an engineer, somebody to sort it out. That is not a luxury when you work for yourself. But always remember that you do have a network to call, those friends who can help and colleagues who possess experience and traits you don't to - say - get your email working again after almost two days.

Laptop number two has had to strap on the big pants. So far, so good except for my [expletives removed] experience with Vista.

Thanks to some awesome friends and colleagues, the ledge was short-lived and the sun will come up again. A special shout-out to brother Malcolm.

You should try a day or two without email,
it might do you some good.

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 18, 2009

Marketing: Vital or Superfluous?

Five years ago while working for a large publically traded company, I received a call from head office less than a week before we were about to roll out a significant promotion and marketing initiative.

The call went something like this:

“We cut your marketing budget”
“By how much?”
“All of it.”

That was a three hundred thousand dollar phone call. You couldn’t find enough wind on the planet to get my sails working again.

Zero. Gone. Nothing. Numb.

Count The Beans

The Corp needed to cut costs or some other market needed the cash or I didn’t much care at the time. All I knew was that two months of strategy had vaporized with a click of a mouse.

Into The Black Hole

Suddenly the marketing budget was deemed unnecessary, something of a luxury that was slashed to make room for some other priority. When there is no money, there is no money but simply deleting an entire initiative simply to save money isn’t enough of a compelling reason.


The message must be sharp, the writing must be on target, the money must be spent wisely, the mediums must make sense, the reasons for marketing must be clear and the focus must be intergrated with your overall business strategy.

But if you think marketing is a dispensable item on the general ledger, then leave it out of your budget every year and roll the dice. I wish you luck.

What says you?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 17, 2009

Boss Types: Recognize Anyone?

I may have stumbled upon what could be the earliest known document on business strategy. The authors, date and origin cannot be verified but the information is just as useful today as when it was first penned.

The work discusses managerial types and as you can appreciate, the titles are in Latin.

Scaredycate Closedoorius

This is the manager who has an “open door policy” when no one is actually in her office. Once the meeting begins, doors are sealed. Anything discussed in said meetings are to be filtered through the perception of the boss to then be translated to staff, customers or clients.

Likedbyallorus Needium

Great guy, super guy, always smiling, always has time for you. He deals with no actual crises. When the bullets fly, he is unfortunately very busy with other issues. As long as things are rosy and fun it’s a great place to work but conflict or client issues are brushed neatly under the corporate non-answer area rug.

Unwantiate Inputarium

The office is adorned with a bright four color bound document which outlines the company’s story, plans and mantra. Embossed on the front is the phrase “Our People Are Our Strongest Asset”. Through the threshold of the lobby is where that mantra dies a rapid painful death to make room for Unwantiate Inputarium’s benevolent dictatorship.

Lackus Spinearia

Much like Pompom Nobadnoos, this type of leader sits in his corner office praising people when things are good but is unable to make one concrete decision of any substance that will actually move the company forward. Some are amazed a human can stand upright with so little support in one's back. He thinks he’s pulling it off whilst fooling no one.

Use Extreme Caution

Unconfirmed reports state there is an entire book devoted solely to Nevergettium Anythingonim but the search continues.

The best way to build a company is through strong respected leadership, solid strategy and an atmosphere of co-creation but not everyone shares that view.

Recognize anyone?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

Disclaimer: if you feel compelled to remind staff you are the boss, you have already lost the room.

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August 13, 2009

Living By Numbers

The Power Of Then?

I’ve been thinking about NOW a lot lately. It may sound strange but most of us think of THEN and WHEN. And we do it NOW. I was going to share a bunch of math but for the purpose of this post, we can use round numbers.

Eckhart Tolle reminds us that the past is simply our interpretation of what may or may have happened and the future will never arrive. All we's gots is right now. I think most people grasp that concept, in theory. But do we do anything about it?

How Long Will You Live?
The worst place to live if you want to live long is Swaziland where the average life expectancy is 32. That’s not a lot of yesterdays and tomorrows.

More numbers here: South Africa is just shy of 43, Pakistan almost 64, Hungary 73, USA 78, Denmark and Finland 78. Hitting the 80 mark includes Sweden, Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Israel, Austria and Netherlands 80. The complete list is here.

So even if we’re at the top end and we get 80 plus years, let’s figure out how much time we actually give to NOW.

Sleep. Eat. Read. Line Up. Drive.
Wait. Tweet. Exercise. Work.

How much time do we really have to just simply enjoy this moment. Right now. Not to fill it with what ifs and soulda coulda woudas. Now – this meeting, this coffee chat, this conversation, this victory, this person or this very moment when you are doing absolutely nothing but feeling the breeze on your face.

As a card carrying member of the past/future club, I need a daily affirmation to get back to NOW. Hang on, how was that sentence? Was it too long? Too preachy? Did I use enough big words?

You did it again, didn’t you?

You were thinking about that other thing and not living right now. Go back to work. You spend 2,000 hours a year at it and don’t forget to answer one of the 27,000 emails you’ll get this year while you’re at it.

You got lots of time to do that other stuff …later.

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 11, 2009

How Much Pareto Is In Your Life?

The Principle of Victor

Sometimes phrases or theories seem to have a life of their own, as if they were always around. Before Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born people didn't think of a lopsided world. Pareto was an economist and industrialist who lived from 1848-1923.

He was the father of microeconomics and the author of the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparsity or the 80/20 rule.

The Rich Get Richer

The most commonly used example is that 20% of the population has 80% of the money.

The Pareto Principle explained that the second 20% most richest had about 12% of the money and numbers declined sharply after that.

80/20 Is Everywhere

But this can be applied to virtually everything in our lives. If you are in sales, 20% of your clients can represent 80% of your billing. You may spend up to 80% of your free time with 20% of your friends. If you are on a sports team, you know that approximately 20% of the players account for 80% of the team's production.

Tweet That

In the case of social media, 80% of the followers are found on 20% of the profiles. We spend 80% of our time on tasks and 20% of our time on the important stuff. And unconfirmed data state that approximately 80% of the planet has seen about 20% of Kevin Bacon’s films.

Are you part of the 80 or the 20?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 10, 2009

Surprise And Delight

Do You Know?

How your customers or clients perceive you? How they talk about you? How they feel about interacting with you?

Do you? Really?

Have You Ever?

Put yourself in the place of your customers? Walked a proverbial mile in their shoes?

Have you? Really?

Definition: Customer Service

You may have heard the story of Frank and Bob - the managers of two different oil and lube places. Both got the idea of offering a free car wash to every customer.

Frank printed up pamphlets, put a sandwich board out front, painted the window, put another sign by the customer service desk, devised a big advertising campaign featuring yelly-screamy creative – all to tell the world about this awesome extra thing he was offering with his service.

Bob simply washed people's cars before returning them without their previous knowledge and thanked them for their business.

Branding Only Happens
Between Customers

Which guy had a line-up of satisfied customers who told everyone and which guy had to endure complaints from customers complaining who were unhappy about their less-than-perfect previously promised car wash?

Bob had exceeded expectation and Frank had created inflated expectation.

Looking For An Avantage?

Maybe just surprise and delight. Possibily put your ego aside and just give great service. Perhaps tuck in a little something extra without making a fuss. If you do those extra little unexpected things your USP will become a lot clearer.

Do you think word
will get around?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 8, 2009

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

A piece of music can heal and transport you.

A great book has the ability to let you travel to far off lands to meet new people and read great stories.

A phone call from a long lost friend can transport you.

A few kind words can lift you from a bad mood.

Where do you go for inspiration?
Are you an inspiration for others?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 6, 2009

Twitter 5am: Anybody Out There?

You Awake?

I am an excellent sleeper. I am one of those people who falls asleep quickly and sleeps through the night. My internal alarm clock usually goes off between 5:30 and 6am.

Not This Morning.

You’ve been there. Dreams integrate with real life and it takes a second to decipher which is which when you wake up. I was doing just that at 3:41am today.

Twenty years ago, someone would go make coffee and read something or listen to music or open some mail or do some work or exercise.

World At Our Fingertips

With the Internet in most homes, we can now also search the world at 3:41am. And with social media, there are other humans up at that hour doing the same who may be looking to share and converse with us. It's almost 9am in London.

I signed on to Twitter just before 5am (with fresh coffee). My journey took me to New York City, Miami, Victoria BC, Helsinki, Montreal, London, Brooklyn, Ottawa and Perth Australia.

We discussed travelling, computers, music, business and marketing.

What does Twitter do for you?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 5, 2009

U.S. Marines: No More Tweets

Yesterday, Wired ran a story entitled “Marines Ban Twitter, MySpace, Facebook”.

The article outlines the reasons why the U.S. Marine Corps has blocked all access to any social networking website effective immediately.

International Incident?

Could this mean government agencies all over world could decifer that banning social media will close any possible electronic threats?

This is from the Marine Corps order “These Internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries.”

It sounds ominous and scary. This U.S. military agency must protect itself from infiltrators – most importantly from the enemy.

This Could Be Just The Beginning

The ban will last for 12 months and stems from a warning by the U.S. Strategic Command which is considering the same interdict for the entire American military. There are scams, viruses and even more sinister stuff that could attack their firewall and get at their secrets.

Another quote from the story; “[Social media sites] make it way too easy for people with bad intentions to push malicious code to unsuspecting users.”

How does that affect us?

• We could delete our profiles.

• We could hope that our information isn't stolen.

• We could assume governments are the sole targets.

What are your thoughts?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 4, 2009

Do Meetings Help Or Hurt?

How many meetings to you have this week?

How much of your time is spent preparing for them?

How much time is spent going to and from each meeting?

Do you start each meeting with a recap of work accomplished?

Do enjoy or dread meetings?

Do you accomplish something
in each of them?

Do you contribute and co-create during each meeting?

Do you complain that your ideas aren’t heard?

How much of your time is spent implementing the results?

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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August 1, 2009

Life Is But An Instant

Ah Summertime!

There are readers of this space all over the world so I won’t assume it is summer where you are or your summer experience is the same as those in my part of the world.

We've had a lot of unsettled weather this year. Rain virtually every day since April. But it's summer and I ain't complainin'!

The Expectations of the Season

This all has to do with a quieter simpler time when the sun burns the morning dew and shorts are the preferred garment. Where complaining about the heat is secretly enjoyed because of the secure knowledge that snow is coming too soon enough.

Summertime is reserved for time off and families, playing golf and afternoon naps. It’s that sacred time of year – especially if you live in a four season climate - where winter comes only too quickly. April through October are the months for living.

July 2009 Won't Be Forgotten

On July 6, a colleague I knew for more than 20 years took his own life. The shock will never subside. In the wake of this horrific unthinkable event have been countless rekindled relationships. Is it fate that someone’s life is cut short and people are brought back together? Is it meant to be? I can’t get my head around this one.

Then this past Friday, a friend found out that someone he knew passed away suddenly at the tender age of 27.

What Is The Lesson Learned?

I think it is to stop complaining about the rain or the cold or the money or the stuff that is simply not important and focus on each other.

August is here, enjoy every last second of it with the people you enjoy.

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

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© Kneale Mann people + priority = profit
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