Category Archives: Milwaukee

Meet me Dec. 10 for breakfast and truthiness

Stephen Colbert of The Colbert ReportTruthiness indeed. The occasion is Milwaukee’s next Social Media Breakfast, on Thursday, December 10. This just in: The snow storm has led to the cancellation of that breakfast meeting. The updated information is here, and the discussion will be on January 21, 2010. I’ll be one of four panelists discussing, Your Typical Social Media Consultant: Snake Oil Salesman or Expert? It reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s hilarious pairings of contradictory messages.

Me? I plan to open remarks by pronouncing that, on average, only one-out-of-four “social media experts” is really worth listening to — and since that’s all I have to say on the matter, everyone can go home.

Or maybe I won’t. You just have to attend to find out. Joining me will be the following:

Matthew Olson @_Signalfire_ – Owner and Creative Director of Signalfire, LLC

Sue Spaight @SueSpaightVP of Account Management and Digital Strategy at Meyer & Wallis

Kim Nielson @KnmuCommunications Project Manager at University School of Milwaukee

Here are the details:

December 10, 2009 – 7:30 am to 9:30 am
The Moct – 240 E. Pittsburgh Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
WiFi and Light Breakfast Provided

Twitter Hashtag: #SMBMke

Register today!

Pecha Kucha Milwaukee wants YOU to make it brief!

The Milwaukee chapter of the internationally-acclaimed Pecha Kucha Night has been on a bit of a haitus. That will all change, come February. Organizer Jon Mueller of 800 CEO Read posted on the central PKN site that he and his team are already looking for speakers:

If you’ve attended an event, you can’t deny that you haven’t thought about what you could present, right? Now’s the time.

We’re planning the next event for February 2010, and want to have you involved. We’re going to make this one the biggest and best yet. So, email me your idea, some sample images you’d use in your presentation, and a brief bio, and I’ll get back to you asap with more info: jon [at sign] 800ceoread [dot] com.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and of course to the next PKN!

Thanks,
Jon | PKN MKE

PKN MKE

I’ll back Jon up on this. The 20-slide / 20-seconds-per-slide format is a blast to watch, and it’s even more fun to present. Check out links below, and contact Jon. You won’t regret it.

Related posts:

Why likemind? The people you’ve yet to meet hold the keys to your future

Last week I heard it again. A new business contact, at the end of a problem-solving session, said, “I never would have guessed I’d get the answers I needed from someone of your background, but now it seems obvious where you fit.” Ironically, I say things to that effect to others just as often as I hear them. Do they sound familiar in your own recent dealings?

If they don’t, you’re not getting out enough.

By that I mean, we’re in a time when organizational and categorical “silos” must come down. The reasons why at least two of those silos should come down are presented well in this post by Augie Ray of Milwaukee’s own Fullhouse Interactive. Augie’s post focuses on the divisions between finance and marketing. But there are many others, including, most notably, the walls separating marketing and technology.

The reason for much of this lack of communication and collaboration is conflicting priorities within the organization. And depending on the organization, one department’s priorities supersede the other’s.

The lion and the lamb shall lie down together… but the lamb won’t get much sleep.
—  Woody Allen

Where does this power imbalance leave marketing, and specifically, CMOs? Augie’s post includes as an illustration this survey of CMOs. It is used as evidence that current business’s emphasis on short-term profits invariably favors finance:

Let’s call to the stand CMOs themselves to testify as to their place in the corporate world. The CMO Club recently polled its own members about who has the most credibility to the CEO. The results? Of the CMOs surveyed, 31% said the CFO, 24% said Head of Sales, and just 13.8% felt the CMO was most credible.

Placed as a family dynamic, the CEO (i.e., “the parent”) favors one sibling over another. Sorry, Marketing. You’re usually not that Golden Child.

Breaking down silos requires leadership from above. So the CEO has a key role in knocking heads and telling the kids to grow up and play nice.

But there is plenty of blame to go around. So what can you do to start removing a few bricks from the walls that hinder your future success? Do what our parents told us to do on the first day of kindergarten. Mingle. And treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

Un-networking is smart. It can also be fun. Case in point: likemind

I co-host Milwaukee’s likemind because I recognize that I need to get out and mingle. But I don’t want to do it in the echo chamber of yet another trade organization or rigid networking event (although each have their value).

Instead, I embraced the “un-networking” concept of likemind. Its diversity and lowered expectations suit me well. I also like drinking coffee, which is important.

If you are in the Milwaukee area, read about likemind, then come see for yourself at one of the monthly meeting. If you’re not, find something similar in your community. Then, talk to someone you’d never otherwise dream of approaching. You might be surprised with the results.

Watching Twitter sell things like pizza and beer

Most online marketers recognize Twitter’s power to connect people. This virtual network is great for many B2B marketing types. In some ways Twitter — and microblogging in general — is the new Power To Get In. But what about driving consumer business? And here I’m not talking about ephemeral branding. I’m talking about getting people to your business with money in hand.

Last night I got a few answers.

Among other marketing innovators, I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Woelfle, owner of Blatz Liquor. He was co-hosting a Tweetup in collaboration with JSOnline.com. He contends microblogging has produced tangible results.

Last month Journal Sentinel business writer Tannette Elie (@Telie) cited Woelfle as saying that Facebook is responsible for 10% of his sales. This, he explained, was primarily through the soft-sell of publicizing wine- and beer-tasting events.

One tenth of a “bricks-and-mortar” retailer’s business attributed to Facebook? It seemed a lofty claim, but when I asked Joe earlier today if he would revise that estimate, he said only to throw his newest tactic — Twitter — into that mix.

The wall-to-wall turnout at the event last night certainly suggested that Twitter was powerful at something. But what? Skeptics would say you could use plenty of other methods to spread the word about a free event at a beer, wine and liquor store — one that included plenty of liberally-poured product samples!

Time will tell how effective @BlatzLiquor‘s Twitter efforts are at growing real sales and loyalty. But in the meantime, someone else at the Tweetup has a Twitter-fueled business already road-tested by other entrepreneurs.

Korean BBQ Tacos and Pizza By The Slice

Scott Baitinger is co-owner of Streetza Pizza (@StreetzaPizza). I was excited about connecting with him for two reasons:

  1. His business just had its official launch this Memorial Day weekend and I was eager to find out how it went
  2. Scott’s business is a glimpse at a promising future for retail — for everyone from food vendors to dry cleaners to banks

Streetza’s business model uses Twitter to tell hungry customers where its truck will be parked next. It even polls followers on questions such as future locations and product offerings. I wrote about this business model — this promising taste of the Web 3.0 world — last week. It was in a SOHOBizTube article. In that piece, I cited the wildly successful Zogi BBQ, a Los Angeles purveyor of “Korean tacos” that informs its tens of thousands of Twitter followers (@KogiBBQ) where it will be next.

As odd as it sounds, these customer-centric Tweets are truly a taste of things to come.

That’s because the next meaningful digital innovations won’t provide consumers with cooler web sites and more content. They will be mobile applications that provide exactly the content we crave, talking to us when we are physically in a place to scratch the itch.

The future of the web is about place. And like Kogi, Streetza Pizza, in sleepy little Milwaukee, will be leading us there one slice at a time.


Internet killed the conference

The reasons we attend a conference haven’t changed since the 1990s. Much else has. Will conferences survive the squeeze? Ross Dawson, Chairman of Future Exploration Network and CEO of Advanced Human Technologies, has some thoughts. I do too, but they’re more from a marketing technology perspective. That means I’m more interested in the environmental changes that are stressing conferences and trade shows. And how we might adapt to these pressures in a win-win for sellers and buyers alike.

I’ll get to those shortly, along with the insights of Mr. Dawson. But first, let’s recall why we bother to attend them at all:

  • Education — What are our industry best practices and recent developments?
  • Community — Can we reconnect with existing colleagues and friends?
  • Networking — Will we find new colleagues and other resources or business opportunities?

I’m sure I’m missing some, but if you can agree on these, let’s look at the changes that have pushed conferences in the direction of the dodo.

Time and money — If the decade since the 1990s is an opera, the Overture was the Dotcom bubble bursting and Act 1 was the World Trade Center attack and the start of two wars — wars that are still droning on through this end of Act 2. We’re entering Act 3 and dealing with another burst bubble, one dragging down the world economy. Need I explain why productivity is down? We all have to get more done with less resources. That means national or international conferences may have to be crossed off our calendars.

E-learning and online collaboration — We discovered during the first strain on our airports, post-9/11, that we could meet virtually and not suffer unduly. Some things are missed by a Skype or Go2Meeting session, but hey, life isn’t perfect. And in this iterative, speed-to-market economy, imperfect is perfectly okay.

LinkedIn introductions — Most of my colleagues don’t use LinkedIn every day. But all of them have a profile there. And combined with Facebook and other social networks, they manage to meet new colleagues, vendors and even clients by tapping into their network of trusted connections.

likemind, BarCamp and The Unconference

Yes, we still have to physically meet each other. Thinking otherwise is a particularly dangerous form of technological hubris. But meetings of this type have evolved. I first learned about — and then attended — Milwaukee’s BarCamp. This is a free “unconference” that has to be experienced to be believed.

Then came likemind, the concept too brilliant and hip for uppercase letters (along with e.e. cummings and k.d. lang).

I won’t prattle on about the monthly event, except to say that, similar to BarCamp, it’s free of charge to attend here in Milwaukee, and it’s held at BucketWorks. Here’s the latest on this “un-networking” event. (The next one is in two weeks!)

Finally, there is Ross Dawson, who discusses the Un-Conference:

“There are many forms of unconference, however the basic idea is that participants create the agenda on the day,” says Mr Dawson.

This leads to highly interactive discussions, and the topics reflecting the interests of the people there.”

To date, the unconference has largely involved technology and creative industries, and can incorporate both traditional discussion panels, which then become the launch pad for breakout groups where ideas are more directly exchanged between participants.

Does this sound like echos of both BarCamp and likemind? It should! But Dawson goes on to talk about presentation formats. “Lightning Talks, Ignite, and Pecha Kucha [such as Milwaukee’s Pecha Kucha nights] are a few of the names given to this new breed of presentation night that brings together a range of presenters to share their ideas in an informal setting, energising attendees and promoting networking around the themes being discussed.

“At the recent Ignite Sydney event, 12 presenters were each given the chance to present 20 slides, with each slide automatically advancing after 15 seconds,” reports the online article on Mr. Dawson. He explains it this way:

In a world awash with information, it is critical to be exposed to many diverse perspectives and insights.

A very few speakers and presentations merit 45 minutes. Most other ideas can be highly condensed with little loss, creating a far more dynamic and stimulating experience for the audience.

Has the internet killed the conference? Perhaps not. But let’s watch it evolve, bending to the demands of a workforce hungry for utility and starved for time.

Next week I’ll explore how marketers might morph their behavior to better resonate with the new business consumer. In the meantime, I invite your comments. Also, meet me and many of your peers at 8 AM on May 15, at likemind!

Large and diverse group made inaugural likemind a valuable meet-up

If you missed this morning’s first-ever Milwaukee likemind, you missed some great conversation and excellent coffee. Thank you Greg Batiansila for being the first to document and post a glimpse of some of the festivities. Here it is:

At least one other person had a video camera, so there will likely be other videos circulating. Want to try spotting them? Check out the buzz surrounding the event on Twitter, where they will undoubtedly be posted. Just search for the MKElikemind hash-tag (#MKElikemind).

Mark Your Calendar For the April 17th likemind

I received at least a dozen emails and direct messages from colleagues who couldn’t attend, and hoped to attend the next one. I’ll bet my co-organizer, Chris Moander, did as well.

That means the April 17 likemind will be just as varied and interesting as this first meet-up. So mark your calendar!

Kudos To Bucketworks

I need to give a special thank-you to the providers of the absolutely perfect setting for this type of event. Bucketworks, you’re the best!

Social networks and fundraising, Part 2

Below is a story far more personal and close-to-home than Part 1. This story illustrates how some extraordinary people — including co-workers and friends, but also connections I’ve initiated and fostered on Twitter and Facebook — helped improve and brighten the lives of some of Milwaukee’s under-served. The fundraising took place last month, for an event held Thursday, December 18, 2008, in the basement of a church on the corner of Milwaukee’s 54th Street and Capitol Drive.

The slideshow below shows just some of the smiles that this “picture-perfect” night created:

By way of background, I’d like to quote an email that I sent as part of my fundraising efforts. It explains our pretty ambitious plans for the Winter Holiday Fest. Here it is:

Hi —

To those who already know of this, and have contributed or pledged, THANK YOU!!! This is for everyone else:

My girlfriend and I have devoted a ton of time, and a lot of our own money, to make a holiday party truly special for 68 under-served preschoolers and their families.

These 4 and 5-year-old children are mostly of single-parent families, and many — if not most — are struggling for the basics, let alone a head start on their school years. For example, in order to qualify, a family of three must have a pre-tax household annual income of less than $18,000.

So my girlfriend and I have arrayed a small army of volunteers (8, to be precise!) and on December 18, 2008, we’re going to help these families where it counts. There will be a Winter Holiday Festival for them, and Sherry and I are going to:

  • Serve them a meal, since so many parents will be coming right from work: a hot dog, a bag of chips and a holiday cookie
  • Give them an 8″ x 8″ canvas bag with their name on it, containing crayons, pencils, a coloring book and a book mark
  • Set up a decoration station for them to further decorate this canvas bag
  • Set up a cookie decoration station to decorate the ginger bread man they each get (we baked them last night!)
  • Set up a photo booth. I’ll be taking their photos, and placing them in a thin, foam frame
  • This picture frame is then decorated by the kids at yet another station
  • Yet another booth will make “super balls” — a toy they can customize and bring home with them

I addition, each child will get a pair of knitted winter gloves and a fleece scarf — also labeled with their names on them, so they don’t get misplaced in the classroom.

Also, we are raffling off as many $20 baskets as we can afford, filled with flour, pancake mix, syrup, peanut butter, jelly, etc. — you get the idea. These are staples that the parents can use over the holiday and into the new year, along with some treats, such as two mugs with hot cocoa mix.

The only financial support we’re getting is from donations of people like you. Each $20 donation we receive will purchase one more basket of food, or other necessary supplies for the event.

Can you please pledge twenty bucks to this worthy cause? (Thanks, Nelie, for your $20 “seed money,” and to everyone else who has donated on this).

PLEASE HIT REPLY and say yes. Yes, I take checks … and IOUs! 😉

If you have other holiday charities, or other reason not to give, God bless you. But if you don’t, Sherry and I and the rest of the team will be supplying photos of the many happy memories that you will have helped to create.

Please say yes. Right now. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~Jeff

This and other efforts raised an impressive sum (including the money to cover other supplies, the amount came to $628). We were able to raffle off enough holiday baskets to make a lot of parents very happy indeed.

The Gift Basket Were A Huge Hit

Speaking of the baskets, I was a little astonished at the response. You would have thought we were giving away new cars!

Social Networks and Fundraising

Examples like TweetsGiving have demonstrated the power of social networks to get out the word. By contrast, this story shows more of the power of grassroots fundraising. Physical networks were leaned on heavily — especially my relationship with workmates at ec-connection, Nelson Schmidt and Madison’s Waldbillig & Besteman.

That said, you might have guessed that I “put the touch” on many of my closest online friends. Our fund raising tally was definitely boosted by my online network, including two of my newest friends. (@annNow and @ChrisQuick, you know who you are!)

For all of those who contributed, I want to say that I and the other volunteers (Shannon Schlintz, Jaime Schlintz, Paul Thomas, Noel Stollmack, Barb Lloyd, and event mastermind Sherry Richards) could not have done it without you.

And for those of you who are considering social networks as part of your fundraising efforts, rest assured that this and the case mentioned in Part 1 illustrate how, especially when your network is strong, you can accomplish amazing things!

e-Marketing like your great grandpa did at tomorrow’s MIMA evening event

It’s fitting that a panel discussion about interactive marketing in these uncharted economic waters should be held at a restored hotel built during the depths of the Great Depression. The Ambassador Hotel was designed by the same architects who created some classic movie palaces, including Milwaukee’s Oriental Theater.

Join me at a panel discussion tomorrow night held at this gloriously restored Art Deco hotel, hosted by the Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association. Find out what interactive marketing measures that companies such as these are taking today — and their plans for tomorrow:

  • Heiser Automotive
  • Briggs & Stratton
  • Coldwell Banker Realty

There should be some lively — and candid — discussion.

Here are the details:

Date: November 20, 2008
5:30-6:00 networking
6:30-7:30 presentation
7:30-8:00 Q&A
Members Cost: $20, includes appetizers
Non-members Cost: $30, includes appetizers

The Ambassador Hotel is at 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee.

Save 20% On Membership

Sign up now and get a 20% discount on 2009 membership. Do it now!

You betcha! Wisconsin ranks high in Agreeableness, Extraversion

Many of my clients are from outside the Midwest. I’ve always thought they chose us over other marketing technology firms because the home of Laverne and Shirley is thought of as hard-working. Turns out, they just like that Wisconsinites are push-overs. According to research reported in the Wall Street Journal, Wisconsin rates high for both Extraversion and Agreeableness. Surprisingly, we’ve only in the middle, in terms of Conscientiousness. Here’s the map, with results for Wisconsin showing higher ratings closer to zero:

Wisconsin's Personality Scores

I wish I could say Wisconsinites, in most cases, are open-minded. Not so, says the numbers. But I’d like to think that our offices being in Milwaukee and Madison means we buck the state-wide trend.


Don’t forget MOCTOctoberfest!

Speaking of Wisconsin, if you’re in the Milwaukee area, don’t forget that tomorrow night we’re having a Milwaukee Interactive Marketing social event, at MOCT. Read all about it and plan on attending!

Get to know Milwaukee interactive marketers at MOCTOctoberfest

If you’re in Milwaukee and part of this crazing industry, come mingle with others similarly afflicted. This Thursday night is MOCToberfest! It’s going to be a fun evening of socializing and shop-talk, at Moct Bar, on 240 E. Pittsburgh Avenue here in Milwaukee.

Registration is cheap and the venue is cool. Here’s one review of Moct from CityVoter.com:

Moct is simply the best nightclub in Milwaukee … it is the closest you’re going to get to an LA night club … Great atmosphere, lots of intelligent space.

 

The event starts at 5:30 PM on Thursday. For members, it’s just ten bucks — fifteen for non-members. The price includes appetizers. It’s a cash bar.

“Mix, Mingle, Make it Work!”

WOM marketing, TwappyHour and Web414 meeting all help to explode myth of online social networks replacing “meatspace”

Mingling at a Business Marketing Association luncheon yesterday, outside the conference room with my fellow “Hello, my name is” attendees, I said something quite naive. I was chatting with a couple of our interns. Referring to the topic of the presentation, word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, I said, “What we’re going to hear today will be far more relevant for you both than for people of my generation.”

My assumption was that the speaker would talk almost exclusively about using online social networks to generate WOM buzz. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The key case discussed by Spike Jones‘s excellent presentation was how his agency, promoting Fiscar scissors, identified those passionate about scrapbooking and fascilitated meet-ups.

True, there was a large social network component, complete with forums and blog posts. But once web-based connections were made, Spike’s agency created opportunities for scrapbooking enthusiasts to meet face-to-face. They met for weekends of shoptalk and bonding.

Social network tools simply acted as catalysts. They were, in essence, meatspace delivery systems.

Wikipedia defines meatspace as “referring to real life or the physical world … the opposite of cyberspace or virtual reality.”

 

Yes, We’re Digital Eggs — But We’re Also Flesh-and-Blood Chickens

Richard Dawkins, in his controversial articles, books and speeches, reminds us that all life beyond the simplest single-celled entities is digital. He put it like this: “You contain a trillion copies of a large, textual document written in a highly accurate, digital code, each copy as voluminous as a substantial book. I’m talking, of course, of the DNA in your cells.”

This genetic information reproduces itself more along the lines of a computer file making a copy of itself, rather than the way a photocopier reproduces off of itself. When you make a photocopy of a photocopy, very quickly things get grey and murky. With computer files, as with DNA, there is theoretically no information lost. Things replicate exactly (hard drive flaws and genetic mutuations notwithstanding).

In his book River Out of Eden, Dawkins helps to clear up that old chicken-and-egg conundrum. Sort of. He says we’re all fundamentally eggs (DNA), programmed to keep our species alive via reproduction. But here’s the rub: Eggs can’t reproduce unassisted. They need to grow into chickens. In this way, Dawkins contends that chickens are the eggs’ strategy for producing more eggs.

Thinking of our own flesh and blood as essentially a means to replicating our species’ string of digital information is something peolpe take several ways. They consider the paradigm either humbling, inspiring or alarming, depending on their theological perspective.

For some, in this networked age, Dawkin’s universe of pure information can be seductive. We can sometimes forget that in this digital banquet of the computer-mediated communication, first and foremost, we’re mammals.

And we’re particularly pack-oriented mammals at that.

Online Social Networks Abet Meet-ups

If Spike’s presentation didn’t remind me of the importance of face-to-face meetings (and it was, after all, held at a physical banquet room), my evening certainly did. I left work for two more meet-ups — both made possible through online social networks.

First, I met a group of new and long-standing friends facilitated by Twitter. Appropriately, it was called a TwappyHour, a term coined by organizer Augie Ray. It was a great way for me to put faces to Twitter “handles” I’d been communicating with for months. As Sam Dodge put it, “Meeting people this way after knowing them for so long online is pretty cool, but also kind of creepy.”

True enough. One thing that took away some of the oddness of it all was the atmosphere of our “Tweet-up.” It was The Iron Horse Hotel, a new boutique hotel at the foot of the 6th Street Bridge in Milwaukee, within wheelie distance of the new Harley Davidson Museum. Owner Tim Dixon gave this group of 20 or so Twitter-ers a tour of his amazing hotel.

The Iron Horse Hotel

I was particularly fascinated by Tim’s account of the rigorous market research he did as he planned his hotel, which is targeted to the surprisingly intersecting groups of motorcyclists and business people.

I’m looking forward to more of these TwappyHour sessions. Thank you again, Augie (and his lovely and charming wife Geri, owner of Metropawlis, for the discerning pet!) for making this amazing event possible.

After that, I headed to my first meeting of Web414, which was another demonstration of how computer-mediated communication still hasn’t replaced sitting together around a bowl of snacks. The topic was how to make the next BarCamp Milwaukee better. It was a fun introduction to both the group, and to the “meatspace”: Bucketworks. I’ll be returning to both often.

If I sound like a gushing gossip columnist as I recount my night, I can be excused. It’s all because I left both events exhilarated by the new friends I’d made, and with deepened connections to some existing ones. I’m forever grateful for the work I do, not because of the cool computing (although I would lie if I said that didn’t matter somewhat), but for the quality of the friendships and associations I’ve made through them.

To everyone with whom I shared this memorable night: I’ll see you online — and at future meet-ups.