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Transforming Pixels to Gold

Spending too much time looking at screens, a good digital strategy could be about getting everyone some fresh air. And there's some truth in that - because there's nothing appealing about the decomposition process that begins with long hours glued to a chair orchestrating some devious marketing plan to deceive a potential tribe of money throwing masses?

What is your deeper business intent? And why is this relevant to social media?

David Wall - Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is part 3 of a 3 post series. [View part 2]

An extract from Sonja Falvo's new eBook: http://www.sonjafalvo.com/books.html



FOCUS ON CONNECTING OTHERS IN A MEANINGFUL WAY

There are many ways to approach social media and as many ways to find success. People like Robin Dickinson find amazing success by not only creating direct connections to his company but more so by facilitating connections for others (on social media and off). But this is not about a conclusive idea on how to use social media or what social media platform is best for you. I want to keep an important question in your mind before you consider these things.

The initial goals most people I’ve worked with strive for on social media are big numbers; judgements on what is successful or not are based purely on amounts of friends, followers or connections etc. While there’s some merit to this approach, it is important to question why we want to be on social media. The obvious answer for business owners is to make money.

This type of honesty is a great platform for something much more profound. Consider this, your product at some point came about to “fill a gap in the market”. This essentially says, there is a human need not being met or a human problem not being solved and that’s why your product / business exists. So whatever you sell, somehow it solves people’s problems or meets some human need. This is not necessarily a material need -there’s markets for emotional needs, economic needs, intellectual needs etc.

In this way ‘making money’ is secondary to the more primary reason your company exists. Start by asking:

  • How does my company contribute (fulfil needs / solve problems)?
  • How does my company create connections and build meaning in society?
  • When you understand that – social media / business / life success awaits you!

MEAT AND COFFEE

If you got to this point after reading the above, I’d probably say you’re thinking that ‘this is all very interesting but it’s a shame that it lacks meat’. Where’s the substance? How can all this be applied in the ‘real world’? So not to be branded the “ideas man” of this eBook – here’s a few paragraphs to sink your teeth into.

To be certain this example is real (enough), I thought about one of my favourite coffee shops a couple of blocks from where I live. It’s called “A coffee and a yarn”. The “yarn” part is the “having a yarn” (conversation) reference but also refers to knitting. It’s a coffee shop like any other -tables with cups full of sugar sachets placed in the middle -but right next to the sugar are baskets of wool and knitting needles. It’s a coffee shop concept that captures the knitters’ niche and it is growing in “coolness” as a thing to do to fill in the time (in Newtown, Sydney at least).

“A coffee and a yarn” -what is the deeper business intent? I suggest before diving head first into social media, to start by gaining an understanding of your deeper business intent. That way you’ll have a clear (or clearer) grasp on what sets you apart, but more importantly how your offering solves problems or meets the needs of the wider community. My personal thinking about the success of a coffee shop like “A coffee and a yarn” is not just that it targets a growing niche but it acts as a reminder of something that you could say is part of our cultural DNA.

It was once commonplace to get together in the process of making gifts for family, community or the tribe -slowly, manually and lovingly. We don’t do this anymore; we go to the shop and buy gifts or with a few clicks online, a gift arrives at our door sometime later. There’s no argument about the incredible convenience of all this – but with that communal making process gone, so too perhaps does a bit of heart with it.

A business like “A coffee and a yarn” contributes in a wider sense by being a reminder of this and in addition, supplying the space and mindset to bring this back into a modern setting. That’s my stab at what could be its deeper business intent.

THE PEACE OFFERING – FOR YOUR TRIBAL LEADERS

Now we know something of the business intent, we need an offering to help us draw in our tribal leaders. This can be done with social media. First imagine walking into an unknown tribe long ago with your message of deeper intent. Would you just waltz in empty-handed? I doubt that would be a good idea. Expect to be running out, possibly even with a spear dangling out of your back.

What you need is a “peace offering”. Robin Dickinson’s peace offering was his willingness and genuine interest to craft “Sharewords” for businesses free of charge. He introduced this idea on his blog, started with a small group and it grew from there. Let’s do something like this with “A coffee and a yarn”.

Our peace offering will be: an intimate gathering, free food / drinks and content for social media.

1. Create a blog called: A making community – the soul of the gift.

To interject this nice list I’m making, I think it will be useful to consider a real world analogy when strategising this social media approach. Imagine you wanted to create a community space in a town centre. The idea is you want people to get together, talk about your product, give you some ideas on how to improve it and hopefully sell loads of it. Because you’re worried about attendance, you’re prepared to give away some expired product lines you were going to ditch anyway.... How could that be a good idea? Still it’s what the majority of businesses do on social media.

So, rather than being a blog for one business, we want it to have the potential of being a community space around things people will be passionate about (this is a key difference to traditional business blogging).

A “Wordpress” blogging platform has some great community enabling tools – we will start with a “Wordpress” installation.

2. Create a post about an up-coming event called “A making community – the soul of the gift”. The event will be an intimate discussion group about the process of making gifts and what it means in a modern context. This will be followed by a craft workshop. The idea is to record this event (perhaps video stream it) so that this can be added on various Social media platforms. This is part of the peace offering.

SEEK OUT YOUR TRIBAL LEADERS

People often make the mistake of pitching only the big fish. If you do that, expect to have a lot of knockbacks. If you don’t have a big tribe, why would a tribal leader of the biggest tribe want you as an ally? Chances are, they wouldn’t – they’ll see you as just one of the many pitching them daily. So I suggest you focus your energy on small to average followings / connections on social media. Pitch the big fish when you’re a big fish – you’ll have more success.

  1. Make a list of people with a similar range of community building expertise. Twitter is a good place to start. Do a simple keyword search on http://search.twitter.com or try http://listorious.com . Have a look at people’s profiles, if they’re creating relevant on-topic lists (e.g. craft / knitting etc.) it’s a good indication they’re also the type of community builders you want to target.
  2. Extend the list to administrators of relevant http://www.meetup.com groups, Facebook pages: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ , http://www.eventbrite.com organisers and LinkedIn groups: http://www.linkedin.com/groupsDirectory . These people have a community building focus too.
  3. Send the invite via email if you can find it (you want to make it a personal request). Otherwise use the social media platforms you’ve found people on. Don’t make a ginormous list that will be unmanageable either – focus on small and quality (remember the type of attributes you’re looking for to get the best results).

Ask people to comment for expressions of interest on the upcoming event. Then use the comment area as an organising / further discussion platform as well.

BUILD, BUILD AND BUILD FURTHER

All this stuff is procedural. There’s no point focusing too much on procedure and platforms when you don’t know how this will benefit the wider community. All the right procedures in the world, just won’t stick. You can have the fanciest letterbox on the street, but don’t forget it’s the house that you live in!

  1. Use Eventbrite to legitimise and organise your event
  2. Capture the event on video
  3. Build all the social media spaces around: “A making community – the soul of the gift” (A facebook community page, a twitter account etc. Remember, this is not about your product or offering, if you want to attract a community – think about eventually creating a community space for others to use. Resign yourself to let go of some of the control. It will be liberating! And you’ll find people will be far more interested in your product anyway.
  4. Post the video on several social video spaces. Tube Mogul is a free social video distribution platform – this will save you a lot of time.
  5. Ask your new friends to be co-writers on you community blog. Profile there businesses / projects on it. You can use Wordpress’s ability to profile contributors to the blog. Start moving towards what http://www.mumbrella.com.au did for the Australian media and adverting space (industry news / guest posting / ongoing video episodes).
  6. Use Facebook to connect an intimate group of people. Interview members using status comments (Facebook comment activity keeps the status on the top of other people’s streams, which helps gain more activity and prominence).

Overall the idea is to start with small step to make this concept bigger and bigger. The first stage is to leverage and combine the audiences of smaller community builders. This will be a benefit to all involved. Start by priming the wheels of Reed’s Law -then watch it take effect!

I’m going to stop there. I guess I just have to be the ‘ideas man’. There’s a lot more of this procedural stuff I could write about for days but I’m not sure you’d enjoy it and I wouldn’t like to start boring you to tears! So here’s hoping the tips to this point are useful. Beyond that, I hope you can see that with the higher value of your business in hand that the success you’re hoping to attract on social media is well on its way.

If you don’t believe me, have a closer look at what Robin Dickinson’s doing with Sharewords and the Centurions... A definite one to follow

An interview with Robin Dickinson: Sharewords, Radsmarts and Centurions?

David Wall - Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is part 2 of a 3 post series.

An extract from Sonja Falvo's new eBook: http://www.sonjafalvo.com/books.html


[View part 1]

Great tribal leadership on social media – an interview on Facebook


David


Hi Robin, thanks again for being able to do this Facebook interview / conversation. As you know I think Sharewords is a brilliant concept. I see it as a great example of how connecting with people in a meaningful way has a reach far beyond the platform of social media. Was this the intention and how did the whole Sharewords concept come about?


Robin


Thank you, David. I appreciate your kind encouragement.

Sharewords is part of a much longer term strategy that I have been gently unfolding online for the past year. My diamond focus is to 'Help you succeed in business' and I commit full resources to enabling this.

An important part of helping businesses succeed is to facilitate the strongest possible word-ofmouth recommendation. It's highly profitable and it works wonders. Ask any business owner or solopreneur what will help them grow and you get an almost reflex response is "Spread the word!"

i.e. tell others about my business so that I get more customers.

Sharewords is a proactive response from business people to take control and craft the words *they* want spread! Think about how you share recommendations with your friends and colleagues. You use 4-5 words -quickly and effortlessly delivered. It's not a clunky sentence, nor the old-fashioned elevator pitch.

So, as a professional business development facilitator, I've been running a "live" workshop on RADSMARTS to show people how to develop their sharewords. The response has been massive. It's how we met, David.


David


The response is without doubt massive -I don't think I've seen as many responses to one blog post and it's still growing. The growth has also moved strongly into Twitter, Facebook and I believe a collaborative online newspaper.

I first became interested in sharewords after seeing perhaps 3 or 4 tweets about it from a couple of people I follow. What hooked me was the value of what you're offering – you provide a phrase (sharewords) that succinctly captures what a particular business is all about. This is done only after becoming very informed about what’s unique to the business and all free of charge. It goes beyond the usual free ebook or webinar and that’s what I believe really sets you apart – it directly shows that you are exactly what you say you’re about – interested and capable in helping a wide variety of business succeed. Your authenticity is easy to see.

A lot of companies interested in moving in similar direction might see this as a huge hurdle. The concern would be that if they offer so much value without monetising it, they’ll be taken for a ride

– their potential customers will just take what they need and move on.

What are your thoughts on this?


Robin


These are important observations you make, David. Things I have given much consideration to.

Think of the Sharewords post as part of the roll-out of a long-term strategy. Before publishing anything online, I thought long and hard about the hows and whys of my online participation, especially from a commercial perspective.

A key element of my online strategy is to attract and help a relatively small group of highly motivated 'like-minds' who also want to succeed commercially online. This value-based approach is very different from the volume-based approach that many businesses take i.e. get huge lists of large numbers of followers, subscribers and try and convert a tiny % into sales.

If I can find and help 100 succeed, who in turn can find and help 100 succeed, the leverage is enormous and highly sustainable. (This is called the Centurion project). Compare this with volume approaches that are resource hungry at a rate proportional to growth.

Implementing this value-plan effectively will take several years, and relies on attracting the right people.

Enter, the Sharewords post. The purpose of this post is to help me identify potential collaborators for the long-term plan. So far 24 people have joined the Centurion project as a direct result of their strong participation in this post. It has proven to be a vastly efficient way of helping strong people find me.

Outside of the context of this strategy, the Sharewords-style post -or online workshop as is probably a more apt description -wouldn't make any sense to me. To this point, I see many people blowing large amounts of their time, effort, money and intellectual property outside of any commercially solid plan.

How can that be sustainable?


David


I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. A lot of projects / businesses tend to take two contradicting approaches with social media. One is what's closer to a campaign style that builds a whole lot of attention in a short space of time. There’s usually a big enough carrot (like a 10k prize) and in this sense it’s about buying an audience's engagement. At the same time there’s the hope that community continues to contribute and be engaged. One has an extrinsic value and is often short lived because it doesn’t always turn into an intrinsic value.

That’s the hard one – how do we create just being a part of that particular community as a value in itself – without the need for a succession of big enough carrots?

Personally, I’ve been a part of various social media communities and often ‘drop out’. I believe at that point it’s a question of motivation; people tend to be much more motivated in a group when there’s a sense of working towards a greater good. I see inklings of that in your project – perhaps that’s a part of your bigger picture?


Robin


Sustained motivation is something I think about a lot.

For me, the drivers of sustained motivation in a community like the Centurions are a combination of a) attracting people who are naturally self-motivated and 'lower maintenance'; b) providing a regular scoreboard or feedback mechanism that tracks results; c) having a forum for regular, honest communication d) knowing that you are part of something big and bold and e) me being available to support members during their 'hour of need'.

Your point about 'working towards the greater good' is part of the fabric of the community spirit. That said, I make it very clear that this is a commercial venture aimed at generating more and more money for less and less work.

People have said that my approach is somewhat altruistic. For example, the many hours of sustained, high quality input I have invested into helping people craft their sharewords.

I don't think of myself as altruistic at all. I help people because I like helping people AND because it's commercially effective. It's been my offline business model for 20 years because it works so well to generate sustained profits -and I make absolutely no secret about it.

Does that make sense to you, David?


David


Certainly does. I actually think the idea that giving high value and receiving nothing in return won't happen in most cases. It's more likely people give the same value back or sometimes even more. People call it reciprocity but really value exchanges are what we've been doing for eons.

If we take the example of Sharewords I'd understand your return as being:

  1. Quality referrals / recommendations
  2. Active contributions / involvement
  3. Monetary Those things sustain each other and as you say make it commercially viable (online / offline).

Comparing the two though, I'd imagine point 1 has huge implications for this model in terms of

the exponential reach available online. I've lost count of how many times I've eagerly referred

Sharewords online / word of mouth and I'm just one of many. This reach must make it far easier to source the right community members (Centurions) who I imagine are key to taking this project even further.

What has been the result so far for yourself and the Centurions?


Robin


The results so far are:

  1. Clear feedback that a value-based model can work. Until I launched Centurions, it was purely theoretical;
  2. Better online metrics for less work. For example, blog views and engagement remain strong for vastly less work;
  3. Increased sales: it's early days, but members are reporting positive sales boosts.

Being based on a geometric progression, the results and returns from the early phases of the Centurion model will be modest and barely visible i.e initially the graph is asymptotic. The mid-later stages become much more interesting as the results compound. I think it was Albert

Einstein who said "The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest". We shall see. I must say that I find a model based on the notion of earning more and more money for less and

less work fascinating.


David


You're in a sense creating a tribe of tribal leaders around a shared set of values. That's got to grow your connections around your value approach exponentially (and it has). The effort of finding and directing connections gets distributed across all those involved so I imagine it must lessen the effort load.

So as you say, less work for greater outcomes!

It's indeed a very fascinating area and it’s great to watch it unfold for you.

Reed's law (like Einstein's words ) is a good example for how growth compounds on networks. Social media is an apt example.

2(to the power of N) – N – 1 = potential connections

N are participants, so 100 participants has the value of 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376 possible connections!

I came across it on George Beckenstein's blog: http://www.benckenstein.com/digital-media/swine-flu-susan-boyle-and-the-network-multiplier effect/

By the way before we wrap this up, where's the best place to find out more about the Centurions? And do you have any other quick tips to share for those wanting to do something like Sharewords and the Centurions on social media?


Robin


Thank you, David. I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss these ideas with you.

If readers would like help creating their sharewords, simply come to the article and start participating. It's that easy.

For more information about the Centurions, simply email me at robin@radsmarts.com.

Wishing you and your readers every success in business and in life.

Robin :)


David


I'll extend that wish too and thanks again, it's been a very enlightening discussion :-)

David


View part 3 - What is your deeper business intent?

And why is this relevant to social media?




They'll seek your marketing and fund it - the end of postmodern marketing?

David Wall - Friday, April 09, 2010

Post what?

I read a research paper by Douglas Holt about advertising and Postmodernism.  Holt's takes us through how Postmodern brands by appearing not to care if people bought their products, influenced a whole lot of people to spend. 

A good visual example is the 90s Kate Moss ads - there's a clear disinterest for whatever brand she might be wearing. You can sense her apathy, even after the possible three way interlude (with two equally apathetic looking lads). 

So, with a skepticism of  the "hard sell" rampantly high, brands appearing disinterested were by default seen as more authentic. This is call the "anti-branding" branding and is still very much used today. 

Gladly we can thank Kate (not God - he's dead) and the overuse of "anti-branding" for making this technique cliche. So instead of pointing to a brand's authenticity - it makes them look fake.

.

Why a new strategy?

Apparently we're in the post-postmodern paradigm so advertisers really need a new set of tools. We're also in the era of social media, allowing just about anyone that hits the right social nerve to be heard by a very large uncontrollable audience. This has created a forced transparency on organizations.

The good news for business is there are options: 

  • Embrace and potentially capitalize on it
  • Curl up, shut the door and wait for it all to go away (although it could be a very long wait)

Choose to embrace?

Holt points to the "citizen brand"  - that finds social authenticity by actively contributing to society. This is not just about our brands being accountable, but about how much they contribute on a social, cultural or even creative level - becoming a new measure of a brand's authenticity.

The interesting thing is it's actually a very powerful way to create attention, brand advocacy and a lot of sales. There's a couple of recent inspiring TED talks that illustrate this point well.

The power of uplifting stage-change

This is explained well by David Logan's ideas on tribal leadership. He spends a lot of time figuring out how key decisions are being made in corporate environments. Things get done based on the belief systems of groups that Logan calls "tribes". He breaks these belief systems into 5 stages from a "life sucks" angst to a free minded value-orientated "life is great" enthusiasm.

When a tribe moves closer to "life is great" this inspires direct action and an abundance of creativity, innovation and results such as exponential sales. When tribes move towards "life sucks", stagnation and fear-based environments persist. Tribal leaders direct the tribe and are agents of stage change. Here uplifting is not about overdosing on positivity, but expanding beliefs systems that inspire action, energy and produce prosperity.

The economy of experience

I'm typing on a computer and you're probably looking at one now. This couch I'm sitting on and this TV in front of me - all manufactured with a particular human intent in mind - to provide entertainment, comfort, shelter etc. etc. The fact that the majority of things that make up our modern lives are so manufactured, it's no wonder there's a market for authentic experiences. 

So, in an over-saturated market, our experience differentiates one brand's offering from countless others. Joseph Pine talks about this in terms of company's achieving the  "real real"  - true to themselves and are what they say they are. This is how a company creates experiences of authenticity for consumers. Put in another way, when a brand's offering takes our mundane, everyday experiences and transforms it to something else, something renewing or inspiring - not only does it stand out but we're more than willing to pay top dollar for. 

Uplifting experiences

What if a company created highly differentiated brand experiences that brings people to a "life is great" mentality? Brand advocacy would shoot through the roof and so would profits. 

Say this brand's offering is authentic (true to itself) wouldn't it's marketing need to reflect this (are what they say they are)? So the "real real" marketing practice would also need to be creating transformative (stage-changing) experiences.

Free transformative experiences

From the consumers side, marketing is free (it comes out of the company's pocket) and if that company's marketing is creating transformative experiences, an interesting thing happens - people start seeking marketing. There's no push with this style of marketing - it's all pull and that makes a lot of sense because it's uplifting, transforming and free!

What about the bottom line?

I subscribe to a lot of "internet guru" emails who seem to love talking about "the law of reciprocity". It's basic premise is this: when you give something of value, you'll receive not only equal value but a lot more. Others call it "positive guilt"  - I get  a lot of cool stuff from you for free, so I'll soon feel obliged to give back and even show my appreciation for your kindness by giving more.

So if the advertising and marketing becomes about creating highly differentiated stage-changing experiences for consumers, we might even see the situation where brand advocates "fund" such marketing experiences by buying the product/s.

Who's already moving in this direction?

I'm just going to pull a few from my very short term memory but there's a lot brands putting "experience" at the forefront of  their marketing. Stage-changing might not be at the forefront of these campaigns, but uplifting generally would be.

  • Volkswagen, Fun theory - replaced every day items fun versions of the same in a cityscape - to test the idea that fun changes the way we do things
  • McDonald's, Inner child - created a large scale McDonald's children's playground for adults in a cityscape
  • Coke, Open happiness - Non branded music video celebrating happiness - connection to Coke only found after an internet search
  • TED, Ideas that spread - the whole uplifting experience is what TED is all about: bringing together multidiciplinary thought leadership in one forum. It's "free" marketing is really the free content available online.

Some more WHAT IFs?

Potential ideas that came to mind while writing this.

What if...

  • An international brand creates a social media run competition inviting budding documentary film-makers to mark-out a virtual (global-reaching) logo and share doco-stories about people and places on the way (could be a Guinness Book of Records contender - biggest logo).
  • Some sort of telecommunications brand creates a tree style (3D) browsing connection application  - see who is near you that likes the same thing - combines mobile phone positioning technology with social media connections and your various interests / associations
  • A software brand creates user nurtured virtual tree ("The Self Tree") as an mobile app that grows in relation to a user's daily goals and intentions. Users can interact and see their trees in a virtual forest of others
  • An information brand  creates a social media voting space that enables people to tweet-vote on a policy by policy basis - about understanding the pulse of the people to affect change
  • A youth brand via a Facebook application enables users to build virtual artworks that identify themselves / groups - like a virtual graffiti tagging that could appear through online spaces or in virtual worlds like Second Life
  • A charity brand donates $1 for every 10 tweets that uses the brand name and a unique uplifting tagline
  • A major global brand social crowd sources everyone needed to produce a full-blown movie around an uplifting theme
  • A digital brand creates a dedicated online space for an impoverished person (i.e. homeless), so rather than begging for change that person gives printed flyers with a web address where people can hear his / her story - hopes / dreams / struggles and donate via Paypal (changing lives through digital!)

That paper by Douglas B Holt can be found here: http://www.lombard-media.lu/pdf/0308_brands.pdf

Why Neuroscience pushes brand marketing into the unconscious

David Wall - Thursday, April 01, 2010

It’s been a few months since I got through Martin Lindstrom’s book, Buyology. It came to my mind again recently in a conversation with a friend about movie product placement and subliminal advertising. What struck me was the idea a lot of common, even logical notions about marketing are often just way off the mark.

Take the example of the rotting cancerous body parts decorating cigarette boxes - you’d expect these images would make people think twice about buying cigarettes, right? A group of smokers selected by a market research company also had the same conclusion. They all ticked the right boxes that determined this to be a major deterrent but the results from fMRI scans showed something entirely different.

Anti smoking tactics trigger cravings Anti smoking tactics trigger cravings

These images where shown to actually activate the brain’s reward / pleasure pathways strengthening a smoker’s compulsion to smoke. It makes for a win-win situation for the tobacco companies - having anti tobacco lobbies funding advertising that triggers your desire to smoke!

So if the anti-smoking tactic is doing the reverse of what it sets out to do, would pictures of obese people on Big Mac wrappings help sell more burgers? It’s likely they wouldn’t, but I think that’s the point Lindstrom makes - even with all the raw data from market research, we’re still faced with a lot of assumptions about why certain marketing ideas work and others just don’t and it’s often those ‘common sense’ propositions that tend to get in the way of the truth locked inside our gray matter!

Don’t know, ask a Neuroscientist (in the making)…

The smokers reward highway The smoker's reward highway

I couldn’t find much explanation as to why those particular anti-tobacco images trigger cigarette cravings, so I spoke to a budding Neuroscientist about it. Her take was it was not so much the images’ disturbing content that’s important, but that those images trigger significant neural activity. It’s likely the parts of the brain responsible for addictive tendencies is already highly developed in heavy smokers, so to give an analogy - their neural pathways are more like open highways to the pleasure / reward centers than the normal suburban roads for other people.

Another idea is the pleasure / reward centers of the brain being closely linked to the pain centers, work like a balance. A disturbing image that creates a level of pain (in this case emotional) would automatically trigger a pleasure seeking response to retain equilibrium.

Although whatever reasoning holds, the fact remains that all this stuff is happening before we’re even aware of it…

So if I’m not consciously making the buying decisions, then who is?

unconscious buying decisions? unconscious buying decisions?

Lindstrom points out how our buying decisions are far from conscious or even logical. Interestingly too, Neuroscience tells us that consciousness is but a fragment of the huge amount of information that our brains process at any given moment - evolved with efficiency in mind (ignore the pun), we can only focus on what our brains have already deemed 'necessary' for our awareness. And that little awareness we do have (from all the available sensory information) is further filtered through expectations. The human eye for example, has a very small focal point that perceives color and detail. Whereas the receptors responsible for peripheral vision are monochromatic and can't register the detail required, so one's memory and expectations fills in the blanks.

To demonstrate this how sharp (or not) our peripheral vision is, just watch this video:

It’s a little disconcerting knowing the very small drop in an ocean of our available sensory input is filtered by a whole host of automatic assumptions - and it’s all happening without our awareness involved. So the idea we’re making sound, objective decisions is at best flawed when our brains are only ever giving us part of the story!

If consciousness plays only a minor role, why not market to the unconscious?

With so much of the decision process happening under the surface, it’s a wonder why any marketing strategy bothers appealing to common logic such as with vendor comparisons or price busting etc. Though a lot of us will justify our buying decisions after the event with a whole host of logical arguments - probe a little deeper we’re likely hear: “I don’t know, it just felt right”, “I went with my gut feeling…” etc. and this all points to our logic’s dead end.

The problem is, the use of fMRIs or even EEGs (trade tools of Neuromarketing) is far from cheap, so if we’ve no other method to ‘hear’ the unconscious how do we communicate to it?

Dreams, myths and brands?

Consciousness only the tip of the iceberg? Consciousness only the tip of the iceberg?

It may help recognizing the language of the unconscious is basically symbolic. A symbol is metaphor loaded with individual (personal) and often universal (archetypal) meaning. An attention to our dreams will likely verse us well in this regard or at at least help us gain further insight into how symbols communicate meaning.

The interesting thing about symbols is that they’re not static, you can’t pin them down to one meaning with the “101 Dream Symbols” book in hand. They’re relevant to time, place and person and in that regard they’re transitional. On the other hand, when a symbol resonates with something archetypal, for example found within our age-old stories and myths, it becomes a source of cultural significance. By understanding how relevant (transitional) symbols such as brands can strongly resonate with archetypal or universal symbols, we may begin to learn how some brands trigger strong emotional connections and have the type of mass appeal that turn them into cultural icons.

Article by David Wall originally on Photolibrary News


When your product is not about money - people throw money at it

David Wall - Saturday, January 30, 2010

There's bound to be controversy when you start talking about core features of anything, especially something like advertising and marketing - but say we invite a little discussion (and controversy) and state the obvious that essentially we're trying to address a communication problem.

The problem is simple - you the so and so of the whatever company needs to communicate that your product has value enough for someone to take notice and relinquish some hard-earned cash. A few ideas get thrown around and added to a document titled [fill in the blanks] strategy or [fill in the blanks] campaign etc. Essentially, we're still attempting to solve a communication problem.

Fresh listening

So, what's this communication thing?

Because we're reducing things left right and center, why not do it even further by saying communication is all about gaining a mutual understanding? If we don't understand each other, communication gets really tricky.

And how does understanding come about?

Strip it down once more and lets say that at the very least when you can connect to some type of shared experience/s, understanding will follow. At that point the billion dollar question is how does a brand connect with people's shared experiences?

Your product at some point must have come about to "fill a gap in the market". This is essentially saying, there is a human need that is not being met or there's a human problem that's not being solved and that's why the product is there. So whatever it is you sell somehow solves people's problems and meets a human need. This is not necessarily a material need - there's markets for emotional needs, economic needs, intellectual needs etc. So the shared experience involves the conditions that brought about the need for your product to exist in the first place.

Some companies go beyond marketing and branding and ask the question: why?

Why does the company exist? What is its contribution? etc.

These questions are not esoteric but are at the core of knowing how brands can make a real connection and find social authenticity. When your brand does that, it becomes a cultural resource.

The economic drive is secondary to it's primary purpose that is about how it contributes or how it creates connections and builds meaning in society. Economics then becomes a value reality-check that tells us just how well it's achieving its primary goals - if it's socially relevant, if it still adds value, value is given back to it (in terms of money). And this keeps the product alive in the realm of economic exchange.

To put it simply: when your product is not about money, people throw money at it.

Why?

When your product is not about money - people throw money at it

Because when making money is a primary activity drive, quality suffers - your product is no longer any good. On this level we start making lots of shiny but empty things and marketing becomes more a form of deceit. The purpose for these things is not to add value, not to solve any real problems but to get the most out of the least. Eventually the veneer cracks and businesses fall.

It's much easier to start with quality, marketing is then about communicating this quality and your company's value is rewarded by economic value.

That's why we're beginning to see at Photolibrary that what you actually want is quality - and we have an abundance of quality images, footage and music. The next step for us is to keep finding better ways to show you the quality content we have, help you easily find it and improve the systems that enable you to do so.

2010 will prove an exciting year here at Photolibrary, be prepared to be surprised!

Article by David Wall originally on Photolibrary News

Social Media Marketing - an Economy of Experience?

David Wall - Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Take the "media" out of social media and you're left with the word "social". It's easy to be tangled in metrics about what makes social media successful and overlook that simple point. Facebook and the like suit our present communication needs, so we use it. It works because connecting with people through social media is easy in a time starved and an otherwise disconnected daily existence.

How many of us find emailing someone next to us at work far easier (and quicker) than starting a conversation? It's often much simpler to say happy birthday to a close friend on a social network than sending a (paper) card - great for trees but not so good if you're trying to sell birthday cards…

Have a look at the huge growth rate of social media over the past few years - it takes about 10 seconds to watch the little blue dot representing Facebook.com bubble up and eclipse everything else in its path between 2006-2009. We'd expect a similar trend if the Interaction Consortium did a worldwide piece. The US, for example has internet users checking Facebook every 37 minutes, they post to Flickr 5 times a day, watch YouTube for 2.5 hrs a day and update Twitter every 3 hours… according to Razorfish.

But stats and technology aside, we're still in the realm of social significance. Whether a brand communicates outside or within social media, we need to question: does it provide value or hold any significance in our social exchanges? In other words, will anyone talk about it? Would anyone really care?

A Razorfish survey puts it bluntly: "Consumers don't want conversation with brands - they want deals". We can just as easily say "…they want value". And it's easy to offer value in terms of deals - a discount / a "free coke and fries…" but when a product offers value just with an association to its brand - that's an exchange we're more than willing to pay for.

Speeding down this technological highway we're leaving commodities and services for experiences posts Laurel Papworth. Deals are great but in an "Experiential Economy" they're only as good as the experience we want out of them. Who would go for a 50% or even a 99% discount from a product that has 0% value to us? An experience that no one wants, even for free would have next to no takers (apart from a few freebie hunters).

"The best job in the world" is a prime example of the value of experience. The experience of typing on a keyboard is just that much better from a tropical beach bungalow than a crammed office - even with walls decorated with snow peaked mountains, climbers scaling cliffs, sail boats etc. above words like "leadership", "direction", "motivation" and "Freedom"…

The point is "real" experiences are what makes social waves. If the service or product offered are the best vehicles to these, they'll be big waves!

And the experiences don't even need to be direct - most of the time they're not. It's even easier for a brand to offer experience by association. Like the teenage boy branding himself with his favorite band, absorbing more of the lifestyle and experiences the band promotes the more paraphernalia he buys.

Hear more at Sydney Social Media Marketing 2010 Bootcamp - The Era of Marketing
Learn more from Laurel Papworth,Tourism Queensland Marketing Manager, Robyn Quinn (The best job in the world campaign) and other industry leaders at Sydney Social Media Marketing 2010 Bootcamp – The Era of Marketing

And talking about deals deals deals…
All friends of Photolibrary can take advantage of this special offer: Delegates will be entitled to a 15% DISCOUNT... we all love a good deal!

Posted via email from Transforming pixels to gold

Do ads even need to make sense anymore?

David Wall - Wednesday, December 09, 2009
I don't think they do. Perhaps the more sense they make, the less potential disruption to what's expected occurs - rendering them less noticeable? I'm not actually that moved by the whole disruption strategy of traditional advertising but a disruption to normality - that's artistic. And lets face it advertising has always been tailing art (just to be controversial).

This is not art (by no means...or maybe), not anything grand and it probably makes some sense if you think about it. The great thing though is the idea came to me on the train this morning and with the help of a trusty ex-post production wiz Agus, in no time we whacked up something I'd much rather watch than a commercial...

Posted via email from Transforming pixels to gold

stsooys tbh cya wknd wb??

David Wall - Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I like Bourdieu. First he's got a very French sounding name that gives him instant philosophy street cred (first name is also Pierre) but that's not a good reason to like someone. A better reason is that he's said long ago that the purpose of a lot of what we do or say is to distinguish ourselves from others. We develop strange languages to isolate ourselves from other groups, while hardening the glue within our own group. We create 'secret' codes as a way to know if we're 'in' or 'out'. 

True, he talked about the privileged class trying to keep out the plebs who just don't get things like "high" art  (why wouldn't they get that when you put a urinal in a gallery, it becomes art?) but why not apply this to other tribes like kid's SMS language - what does "stsooys tbh cya wknd wb" mean and if you don't know you were probably born before Netscape was the choice browser.

So people are always going to create new spaces and new languages to distinguish themselves from everybody else and before this space reaches critical mass there's a bunch there already figuring out clever ways to get in and sell a lot of something. This is like adding more oil to the water and bound to disperse the congenial gathering fast - look at what happened to MySpace: more people on it, more marketing budget spent on it = less 'cool' / less the choice online communication platform. 

Now look at the business hype about using Twitter, is that good for Google Wave?

>Should we think less about the technology and more about why we are using it?

www.pixelalchemy.com.au holistic online marketing

Who'd have thought - we're selling to human beings, not robots?

David Wall - Tuesday, November 10, 2009
VW's "Fun Theory" campaign is a good example of clever viral marketing but I don't want to talk about that. You've probably seen and heard this blurb. I think it's worth mentioning the idea behind the claim and what that says about the way people interact with brands.

Firstly, if you haven't seen it yet - check it out:

The implication is that if we lined up 2 equally good products or services the majority would choose one over the other based on fun. Does that mean all products / services need to be fun? 

No, but it's worth looking at the process, the means of getting there (how we learn about the company, when doing the purchasing etc.). The traditional idea preaches the value of "getting in, taking what you need - then getting out" or the quickest, most simplest way for consumers works the best - no holds barred. We're all time starved the argument goes etc.

In reality, we're time starved - yes, but we're also starved of authenticity, we're starved of communication that connects with us on a human level - the sort of communication that says: "hey, you're not just another entry we want to add to our CRM you're someone that appreciates things outside the same old experiences we're used to - here's something fun, something interesting or inspiring - and here it is not because we want to make an extra buck out of it, but we just like it, its fun for us - might be for you too..."

Who'd have thought - we're selling to human beings, not robots?

Posted via email from Transforming pixels to gold

How to make a killer email landing page

David Wall - Monday, October 12, 2009
The social media marketing landing page - YouTube and Twitter!

Got a high email click through rate, what now?

Here's an example of a campaign that's still in the pipeline (a few days from now till launch! & already gathering interest on social media). In the stock photo space there's a lot of "click to see this new gallery" type emails inundating the same audience (likely the same emails) over and again. So we really had to think of something a little left of field to get noticed.

Shout it out - NOT

Best to avoid the the whole interruption marketing thing - the whoever shouts the loudest will be heard approach (which doesn't really work online anyway). Try instead to make people curious, give them authentic (non-bias) information or make them laugh... 

The point is to be on your visitors' side. Don't try to win the argument with 100 points on why you're the best, instead be a guide - you want people to conclude things about your products and services on their own accord, making them leave your site as an advocate of your brand rather than leaving at point 5 afraid of the other 95 points they'd have to endure.

Back to the landing page... You'll notice the text about we're "trying something different... let us know what you think.." etc. This is intentional - there's no point confronting visitors especially if your asking for comments  - we want to be on their side and interested in their opinions. Shout "WE'RE SO GREAT" and you're bound to get a lot of people wanting to tell you the opposite - that's just a natural human compulsion to keep things balanced.

Doesn't a YouTube logo dilute your branding

We might also ask: "Doesn't the TV set logo distract us from the advert?" The truth this we're so 'branded' by brands all those nice little logos just fade into the background. The important thing is to provide something that engages people - a logo will not engage someone, most people won't even notice. But if you engage someone, you connect with them on some level that has relevance to their daily lives, then your little logo will start to look a lot "bigger" and might even get a click!

YouTube is a medium in itself, its a medium that speaks words like: social, quirky, new, experimental, young, authentic etc. So hence the choice of this medium. You will also find it on the email, again as a way to illicit clicks: http://monsoon.cmail1.com/t/r/e/hrziy/l/

And the Twitter thing…

It’s important to make it easy for users to share online content the way most people do this nowadays - using social media. The Add-This or Gigya plugins are most common - users can select from a huge range of social media sites to share the given page’s content. Although, the stats I’ve got points to the fact that the more sharing options you offer, the less likely people will share particularly if you require them make multiple clicks… Best to pick small number of sharing options most relevant to your users and make these obvious and as clear as possible (while not being too obvious to distract from the main message)

So on this example we’ve got a clear Twitter share option extended to function like a blog comment. It’s using Twitter search and updates with a little server side scripting. Not perfected just yet but its running well in bare bones. The idea here is to give a sense of community – it’s not the point worrying about baring you business to potential negative comments (there’s no moderation here) – if the content is half-decent a few negative comments will likely fire people up for more discussion – that’s really more online exposure!

On this note as this campaign is not out yet, get your comments in as in a few days an email is going out to 100k plus global list of ad agencies / design houses / corporate marketing teams – a good way to get your twitter profile out to the world! http://www.photolibrary.com/marketing/Monsoon/MonsoonImages.html


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