Category Archives: Milwaukee

This weekend don’t miss BarCamp Milwaukee!

Stewart Brand, co-founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, computing innovator, and community organizer, is purported to be the first to pronounce, “Information wants to be free.” Although I’ve not heard his name dropped in discussions with BarCamp Milwaukee organizers, it definitely fits. Here’s how OnMilwaukee characterizes this freeform information mash-up:

BarCampMilwaukee3 is a technology based forum; running sessions all day Saturday and Sunday covering topics from specific programming applications to the role of the Internet today.

BarCamp’s run nationwide; each city specifying the format and content of the event to suit the needs and wants of the local tech class.

“There are several conferences in cities like Chicago, San Francisco and New York. BarCamp is a spoof on FooCamp, an event hosted by O’Reilly Media that is truly expensive,” BarCamp organizer Pete Prodoehl explains.

I attended (and was a presenter at) last year’s event, and I found it incredibly stimulating. You’re surrounded by interesting topics presented by enthusiastic and knowledgeable speakers. The only problem I had at BarCampMKE2 was deciding which topic to choose from in a given time slot.

It’s a good problem to have, and a strong reason to add BarCampMKE3 to your weekend plans. You’ll be glad you did.

Hear Nancy Hernandez speak to the Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Assoc.

For those who missed it, the Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association has just posted this podcast of the presentation on Multi-cultural Online Marketing, presented at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

As an office of the organization, I’d love to hear your comments on the topic, the locale, and the presentation itself. Especially the topics.

What are the topics you’d like to learn about?

Try this LinkedIn trick to reduce your stack of colleague business cards

Last night was two firsts for me. I attended a Chicago Cubs baseball game from a rooftop venue across from the stadium. (The Cubs faced my city’s Milwaukee Brewers). The second precedent: Using LinkedIn to reduce or eliminate the need to retain business cards.

I was able to accomplish both because the rooftop socializing event, and a pre-game presentation, were jointly organized by the Milwaukee and Chicago Business Marketing Associations.

Mingling in the posh, luxury box-like meeting room, I had plenty of time to mingle and press the flesh between innings.

By their own estimates, LinkedIn is signing new professionals to its social network at a rate of one every second of every day. In just four years, the site has become de rigueur for executives looking to build their network of contacts. Which is, well, everyone.

It’s an impressive network. Below is a recent summary of who can be found on the site:

A rundown of who is on LinkedIn
A rundown of who is on LinkedIn

The meteoric growth of LinkedIn’s member base means that compared to two years ago, I now rarely search for someone within the site and not find them. And every time I do find someone and add them as a business associate, my own network grows.

Last night I decided to put this ubiquity to the test. For those I spoke to whom I truly saw a value in keeping in touch with (and they with me), I did something different. Instead of simply exchanging business cards, I used my smartphone to go into LinkedIn, search for them, and invite them to add me as a contact.

Now I have something even better than a business card. I have a database entry of these contacts that changes as they move through the ranks of their company, or a future employer. And they have an opportunity to contact me with a favor or other request for assistance — which is, of course, the lifeblood of good business networking.

Looking back at these two firsts from last night, I can tell you I will definitely use the LinkedIn technique again, where appropriate. As for rooftop voyeurism, I must say it was better networking than “spectating.” This shot of my view (unaided by the dozens of big screen televisions throughout the facility) was taken by my smartphone.

The baseball is over there somewhere!
The baseball is over there somewhere!

P.S. Too bad about the Brewers. Better luck tonight in Game #2 of there three-game Chicago line-up.

Pecha Kucha Milwaukee stages another successful event

Roughly 200 people attended Tuesday night’s Pecha Kucha Night, at Milwaukee’s Hi Hat Garage. I was one of them, and had the honor of being one of the presenters.

If you don’t know what a pecha kucha is, you should find out. Here’s a post about the evening (pre-event) on the blog of the Milwaukee organizer, 800-CEO-Read. It includes links to help explain what it is and why you should care.

This YouTube video of my presentation has just been posted:

Special thanks to Jon, Kate and everyone at 800ceoread for making this event, and the follow-up videos, such a terrific success.

You can see others from that night by reviewing this list on YouTube.

The evening was an absolute blast. I’m definitely going back. If you’re in the Milwaukee area, I hope to see you there.

Associate with Milwaukee interactive marketers at SWIG

Join me and other members of the Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) at our May Mixer. It will be held at SWIG, in the Third Ward of Milwaukee. It happens this Thursday, May 22.

This event is a terrific chance to catch up with colleagues, learn a thing or two about our fast-changing field of interest, and celebrate the late arrival of summery weather — all at SWIG, a newly re-opened hot spot. Here is a map.

Registration is just $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Register online from the MIMA site. And while you have your Paypal account or credit card in hand, why not join this wonderful grassroots organization.

The festivities start at 5 PM tonight. I hope to see you there!

Hey, Milwaukee, it’s pecha kucha! Let’s all go watch a slideshow!

The media have called pecha kucha — that unpronounceable presentation format created by two Tokyo architects — a poetry slam for designers. Except it’s not just for design folks.

Writers, photographers, and just about every other member of the creative class have devised and shown these six-minute wonders. Shown where, you ask? Over 100 cities around the world have conducted public pecha kucha nights. And this summer Milwaukee will be added to the list.

I created my first pecha kucha in October and became immediately hooked. I dare you to attend its official Milwaukee debut and not be bowled over by its power.

An audience at a recent pecha kucha event

You’ll find more details at the official site, but here are the basics:

WHEN 

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
8pm; $10 register online or buy at door 

WHERE 

Hi Hat Garage
1701 N. Arlington Place
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

PRESENTERS 

  • Corey Canfield | Milwaukee Recycles (Kind Of)
  • Erica Conway | How a Woman Runs a Business
  • Tom Crawford | Kaszube Ornithological Concern International
  • Peter Exley | Growing Up in a Black and White World
  • Daniel Goldin | Dead Department Stores
  • Nicolas Lampert | Meatscapes: A Travel Log
  • Faythe Levine | Craftivism & Community
  • Aaron Schleicher | The Making of a True American Record
  • Jolynn Woehrer | Unwrapping Chocolate for its (Dis) Contents:
    A Feminist Analysis of its Fetishisms and its Fair Trade
CREDITS 

Hosted by 800ceoread at The Hi Hat Garage
Promoted by 91.7 WMSE and Schwartz Bookshops
Founded by Klein Dytham architecture

Thank you Jon Mueller of 800CEOread for helping to bring this form to Milwaukee!

Interactive design requires living life with your “eyes wide open”

Our very own interactive creative director Clay Konnor was interviewed yesterday on WUWM FM, Milwaukee Public Radio. You can listen to the podcast, but why not see him live? He’s a co-presenter tonight at the Eisner Museum of Advertising and Design. It’s a panel discussion that’s part of an excellent series by 800CEOread.com. Clay offers this advice for those seeking to excel in the interactive design field:

My chief piece of advice is to practice your craft. Really the best interactive designers I’ve ever run into are just well-practiced. They’ve solved similar issues time and time again.

The other thing I recommend is to go through life with your eyes wide open.

Every day I make a point of reading both the New York Times and RealSimple magazine. I listen to both Pat Metheny and Dolly Parton. In the same day. The idea is to expose yourself to a wide breadth of what’s going on. What are the trends, and how can they be used to cause conversions on a site?

The presentation Business Meets Design: A Panel Discussion begins tonight at 7PM. If you’re in the Milwaukee area, I urge you to sign up online and enjoy some interesting perspectives on modern product design.

This Thursday’s Interactive Marketing Assoc. speaker weighs in on Influentials, NPS and social media

The Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association has come back to life, and its first event of what promises to be a fascinating season will be Thursday night, at the William F. Eisner Museum of Advertising. Bryan Rasch of Hanson Dodge will discuss how to meet the online needs of what his firm calls Brand Champions. It’s a somewhat ironic term, since the sites his company creates for their core clients (including Trek Bikes) are for “active lifestyle” consumer products. These sites cater to champions of all stripes — some of the most active consumers, including triathletes, pro fishermen and other avid outdoors people.

I spoke with Bryan to get a feel for his company’s approach to online branding. I wanted to know his thoughts on three topics that are being hotly debated today. They are as follows:

  1. Influentials: Do Malcolm Gladwell’s Influentials really exist? And if not, aren’t any efforts to court brand champions ultimately wasteful?
  2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)*: Where do you stand on the topic of this metric?
  3. Social Media As Brand Promotion: Isn’t the potential for negative online reviews too harmful to warrant opening your brand to public discussion?

JL: First, Bryan, I’d like to know what you think of those people, such as Bob Garfield (the AdAge columnist) and Clive Thompson (in his February Fast Company piece) who have claimed that there is no validity to the concept of courting a product’s Influentials?

BR: They have a point in that you can’t identify a small number of extremely influential people, to whom everyone else turns for advice on a brand. Brand champions are a much broader base of product users. They are vocal, and they particularly prefer the web as their megaphone. But aside from their passion for the brand, they are no different from other customers. They may make up large numbers — upwards of 10% of the total number of visitors to a typical brand site.

JL: I’ve heard you talk about Net Promoter Scores (NPS) as a metric. Do you encourage this type of evaluation, or do you agree with those who think it’s too simplistic?

BR: I do encourage the use of NPS, but primarily as a measure of true customer satisfaction. The strength in this measurement lies in knowing that it doesn’t predict a user’s likelihood of being a brand champion, but the likelihood of that customer buying from you again. But I think this score can also help you understand the likelihood of your consumers to speak out … to write positive reviews, recommend your brand to others online, etc. Thus the metric is helpful as a barometer of how your brand may perform within Social Media formats.

JL: If you want to encourage brand champions online, you have to open the gates and let in all opinions. A minority of brands are comfortable with a certain level of negative buzz. But most refuse to provide forums for discussion because they’re afraid of getting flamed — of being host to unfavorable reviews. What is your response to those fears?

BR: The negative reviews will happen, and often they’ll happen first. But reviews seek an equilibrium, just like water. Initially, a negative review may show up, because a consumer is angry. But over time, other consumers who love the brand tend to prevail. Over time the sum of the reviews reaches the proper level of consumer opinion.

I’ve never come across a set of reviews where it wasn’t an accurate barometer of how the brand fulfills consumer expectations.

Do join me Thursday night at what promises to be a provocative and informative presentation. Visit the Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association site for details.


* NPS asks customers one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?” Customers reply with a score on a scale of 10, with 10 being “Extremely likely.” The net score is the sum of all customers scoring nine and 10, minus those scoring six or less. Incredibly high scores are in the 75 to 80 percent range of your customers. The average is only 15%.

 

Andy Sernovitz provides disarmingly love-filled advice to a b-to-b crowd

I’ve wanted to see Andy Sernovitz speak for several years. This Milwaukee-boy-made-good is the author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. He’s a terrific dose of inspiration for any marketer facing the terrifying prospect of helping a brand “go viral.” Today he provided that inspiration — along with some excellent tactical ideas — to my city’s Business Marketing Association.

Sernovitz’s presentation clearly had a consumer marketing origin, but he did an excellent job of reminding the business marketing group that we all go through the same decision stages in a considered purchase. Whether the person is a retiree buying his first recreational sailboat or a young design engineer considering parts suppliers, we’re human first. We’re swayed strongly by the opinions of others.

We’re also moved by the creative imagination of smart marketing. Andy reminded us that we love what a brand does for us, or how it tickles our fancy.

Ah, love. Who knew there would be such a strong tie-in with Valentine’s Day?

Joking aside, here are two of his tips that are dead-on when it comes to marketing to business buyers:

  • White papers are still effective viral marketing tools
  • Email-a-colleague tools on your b-to-b web site are as well

Andy also mentioned that it was the viral aspect of YouTube that has it valued so high compared to other video sharing sites. He counted 13 ways that YouTube helps people email or otherwise share its content with others.

Online support of smart promotions can also help to get people talking. As a topical example, Andy mentioned this brilliant way that White Castle is getting people to talk about their restaurants on this day:

A great ad, cited on Andy’s blog today

Now there’s one more restaurant that you can’t get into tonight without a reservation!

BarCamp Milwaukee reflects the wealth of talent and intellect in my city of choice

This afternoon I attended Milwaukee’s second annual BarCamp, which is about a lot of other things, but is primarily smart and creative technologists coming out to play. (The tag clouds below are from the BarCamp Milwaukee site, where attendees are asked to state their interests in the same way that presentations / activities are given relevant keywords.)

BarCamp TagsIt was stimulating to experience the free-form workshops, and exciting to imagine what this event will grow into with a few more years of publicity and support.

As I write this late on a Saturday night, the events are still taking place. BarCamp runs non-stop through tonight and into Sunday afternoon. When I return to give my presentation at 10 AM tomorrow, it will be interesting to see the level of wakefulness of my audience.

Under the influence of seminars on topics like improving streaming video and using Ruby On Rails to build better sites, I couldn’t let the night go by without doing at least one software change to improve Digital Solid. It’s nothing you can see, but I’ve removed the nofollow attributes that appear in links with the comments that people leave.

Thank you Douglas Karr of The Marketing Technology Blog for this important search-engine-related modification to WordPress blogs (like this one). Doug, I owe you a lot. You’ve given me the strength to face a roomful of mostly developers tomorrow morning, safe in the knowledge that I too can hack code — okay, when given simple and explicit directions!