Tag Archives: Milwaukee

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.

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!

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!

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?

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!

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!