Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Start Smart, Start Tonight

We're with Guy Kawasaki: "If you can’t explain your positioning in less than 30 seconds, you either have a crappy practice or you need to perfect your positioning statement."

Our very own Barb Ewen will lead a talk tonight on the art of positioning as part of MITEF's Start Smart Workshop series -- a ten-week series of workshops that covers the nuts and bolts of the entrepreneurial process and runs through July 13.

For more information about MITEF and the Start Smart series, visit http://www.mitforumcambridge.org/events/startsmartcat.html.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

DMScott Says: "Lose Control of Your Marketing!"

David Meerman Scott kicked off his session at the Simmons Leadership Conference on April 30 with a story from his wildly popular e-book, The New Rules of Viral Marketing. When Cindy Gordon, VP of new media and marketing partnerships at Universal Orlando Resorts launched the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" attraction, she didn't spend millions on ad and PR campaigns. Instead, she briefed 7 bloggers - but they were the right 7 people. They were icons in the the Potter fan base, and they in turn spread the word. Gordon estimates that within 24 hours of telling 7 people, 350 million people had heard of the new attraction.

Scott then shifted gears to ask the audience a series of questions, including this one:

In the last 12 months, privately or professionally, when researching a product or professional service:
  • Has anyone answered a direct mail piece? 3% of room
  • Has anyone gone to the print yellow pages? 12%
  • Used a print publication? 42%
  • Google - everybody!
  • Tapped your private network for an opinion? 80%
  • Have you watched a video online? nearly everybody
To sum up the changes in marketing, Scott shared this quote from that authoritative thinker, Yoda: "You must unlearn what you have learned."

Another example of changing the way we market: Every hotel website around the world is exactly the same. Why? Because hotels focus on the product (the pillows, the shrimp!), but they don't focus on the buyer personae. Think about the different hotel customers - the independent business traveller, the corporate travel manager for a large company (one person making decisions for hundreds), the event planners, etc. It would be so much more effective if they tailored the site for different buyer personae.

Don't market your products; market to your buyers! Scott used the example of Hubspot (full disclosure - he serves on the board), which has developed names for its typical buyers.

"Nobody cares about your products (except you). They care about themselves and their problems," Scott said.

Here's another novel idea. Scott speaks in front of 50,000 people per year. While he's doing his presentations, his laptop lid is up of course. So he's selling ads on the lid of his PC; it's covered with stickers! Century21 took him up on that.

Scott's encouraging us to think different (nod to Apple for this ungrammatical gift to the English language) and to move beyond the conventional marketing tools we grew up with. We can earn attention by publishing an e-book, a webinar, a blog, a great website, an ad on a laptop lid!

In response to a question about the dangers of blogging if you're in a regulated industry like financial services, Scott said: "That's a fear-driven myth. 'I work for a pharma company; we can't communicate that way.' They're really saying: 'I'm scared to do this.' There's no regulation that prevents you from talking with your customers. You do it all the time!"

Go to a blog called "Running a Hospital." It's by Paul Levy, who runs Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He says whatever he wants. (Of course, Levy is saying a little more than he'd probably prefer to right now about his relationship with a staffer, but he has even blogged about that.)

Another question: Do you charge for your e-books? His e-book on viral marketing has been downloaded (for free) a million times. But that drives interest in his print books, such as the bestseller, World Wide Rave.

Real-Time Marketing

Scott observed that in marketing and PR and most businesses, we have an MBA-style planning process. We plan for stuff that's really far in the future. What the Web is allowing us to do, is to work RIGHT NOW! Suppose your biggest competitor just went bankrupt? What if your CEO was just arrested? What if the U.S. Government announced that your product was suddenly tax free.

Social media is a key tool and real-time marketing is now.

Scott relayed the example of an Air Force captain who responded to a Drudge Report story citing a $1.4M door at a San Antonio Air Force Base. At first blush, it sounded like an example of excess government spending. It turns out this was the door that protects a B1 bomber that's worth millions. The captain saw the Drudge story, posted a photo on his blog of the massive, complex door, along with a story on the AF website. Because of his real-time response, he killed the story. This played out over an hour. (Scott has written pretty extensively about the Air Force's use of social media.)

Then we have the entertaining example of the hysterical "United Breaks Guitars" video series, posted by musician Dave Carroll. Carroll took a flight on United Airlines, and watched, in horror, from his seat on the plane as baggage staffers threw his guitar onto the baggage cart. Surprise - his Taylor guitar was broken when he claimed it. After a year of trying to get United to pay for it, with no luck, Carroll posted his video on YouTube. It's so sharable; on the first day it got picked up by about 15 bloggers, and then eventually by the mainstream media, Scott explained.

In another example of real-time marketing, Bob Taylor (of Taylor Guitars) quickly did a (dead serious) YouTube video of travel tips for packing and traveling with your guitar.

What should United have done? Scott noted that United's legal team likely recommended no response. But what if United's head of baggage handling had done a video on what has to happen to get baggage from point A to B? How about a suitcase-cam? United needn't have said "We were wrong."

The incident has definitely boosted Carroll's career. He's been asked to do songs for other artists. He's getting more bookings. He's making money on cases. He's speaking at customer service conferences!

Other great examples of innovative marketing:

TechWise TV from Cisco - Information you can use from Geeks you can trust.

Girls Fight Back - Founded by Erin Weed, a personal safety and self-defense expert. Weed teaches girls and women how to protect themselves. Her main marketing technique - She asks girls to put away their mobile phones at the beginning of a session. At the end she asks them to take them out to take pix and videos of girls defending themselves, practicing moves. And then those pix get posted on Facebook. That's invaluable, because that's where her audience lives. She has trained 500,000 girls to defend themselves.

CWS - Complete Washroom Solutions - A German company wanted to get out the word on its rotating toilet seat covers (the kind you see in airports). This memorable commercial certainly does the job, as only the Europeans can!

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Simmons: Ambassador Barshefsky, Tina Brown discuss US-China Trade Relations

In a panel discussion with Tina Brown that was a delightful mix of candor and wisdom, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky shared her insights on the global perception of the U.S. at the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston last Friday.

Go4IT--the license plate on a passing automobile--was the sign that Barshefsky was waiting for when considering the role of the U.S. Trade Representative.

During the second Clinton Administration, she served as the nation's chief trade negotiator, principal trade policymaker, and member of the Cabinet. Ambassador Barshefsky ushered in a new era of alliance-building through global economic agreements, most notably the historic market-opening negotiation with China on its entry into the World Trade Organization.

Her background and legal expertise in international relations and trade law have made her a moving force in bilateral U.S.-China relations. She believes that going back to the basics and investing in the core fundamentals of innovation, R&D and education are critical for the U.S. to regain its global position of power.

More open immigration laws and an easier path to naturalization are other areas that Barshefsky believes the U.S. needs to address to keep from losing its competitive edge. While the recession and the financial overhaul have crippled the economy, Barshefsky believes that these are bumps along the way and the competitive spirit and the resilience of the nation will help chart the course for the U.S. to become a leader once again.

In her current practice as a senior international partner at WilmerHale, she advises several Fortune 100 and other multinational corporations on their trade and investment activities in China, Europe, and the U.S. Ambassador Barshefsky also serves on the boards of the American Express Company, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Intel Corporation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sheryl WuDunn (Half the Sky) Keynoted at Simmons Leadership Conference

Being sold at age 12 by your own mother into a brothel; experiencing child birth at 14 years of age having been left out in the cold for the hyenas; and having a goat in Africa pay for a college education in Connecticut – these were some of the visceral images highlighted by Sheryl WuDunn as she described female oppression as the largest moral challenge facing the 21st century in her opening speech at the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston last week.

Award-winning author of Half The Sky, WuDunn provided insight into some of the problems associated with gender inequity around the globe today. Educators, business leaders and economists are rallying around the importance of bringing women into the workforce to enable sustainable growth. One of the examples WuDunn shared was Bill Gates' answer to a question about whether he believes Saudi Arabia has the potential to be one of the top 10 nations in the world. Gates stared out at his audience, two-thirds of whom were men and one-third burkha-clad women separated by a physical barricade, and said, "No country in the world, Saudi Arabia included, can aim to be one of the top nations in the world if they consistently refuse to use half their resources--women."

"Empowering women through education provides the highest return on investment in developing economies," said WuDunn as she repeatedly talked about education being the single most effective enabler of economic growth.

"Women have the capacity to compound the return on investment made in education," says WuDunn as she cited studies that have examined not just the investments made in education in the developing world, but also the spending patterns. These patterns indicate that the impact earned can be more than doubled when even one percent of the spending on non-education related expenses are funneled back into education.

While we all empathize with the plight of the unfortunate, WuDunn noted that few take action to truly provide help and support. WuDunn urged that we can all make a difference--not just monetarily but also by traveling to these regions, learning through some advancements already under way, and creating a movement by channeling groups of friends, co-workers and families in coming up with solutions to address these issues.

WuDunn's call to action ended with a powerful statement, "With great fortune, comes great responsibility. For those of us fortunate enough to be here, it's important to remember, we have won the lottery of life. It's our duty now to give back a little of what we have won."

Visit http://www.halftheskymovement.org/ to learn more.