Why I joined Accenture

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been so silent lately, it’s because I’ve been in the midst of a major career move. Those of you who know me well are used to my willingness to dive into something and master it. I’d like to think there has been a pattern to it all — that there’s a method to my madness.

To explain how my 20-plus year career has led me to find Accenture (and them to find me!) I’ve put together this video. Enjoy!

Obama to revive fireside chats for a Web 2.0 world

Today Change.gov announced that President-elect Obama will likely be giving weekly YouTube speeches, similar to the weekly radio White House addresses of the recent past, and, more tellingly, the radio-based fireside chats that FDR used so effectively to inform and comfort Depression Era listeners.

In the early summer, during Online Community Month, I discussed how Senator Obama’s campaigning style differed significantly from other candidates, including Hillary Clinton. Others have termed this new approach networked leadership.

Today’s announcement appears to be another example of how our president-elect is leveraging new technology to organize, and, well, lead.

It gives me hope.

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!

Viral campaigns more frequently relying on pre-existing buzz

Legend has it that in 1936, Lana Turner was playing hooky from Hollywood High School when she was discovered by a film studio executive. She was sipping soda in a local drugstore. Almost immediately, Turner became a star. Social media sites such as YouTube are becoming today’s soda fountain. For example, take the lastest “discovery” (last month there was Nick Haley).

Musician and University of Minnesota grad student Adam Bahner became a minor internet sensation. Bahner, who records under the name Tay Zonday, wrote and posted a music video that had novelty and a simple but catchy melody going for it. Here is his video on YouTube.

Next, he is contacted by video production company True Entertainment. Their assignment was to promote a new soda flavor from Dr. Pepper. The director’s vision was to take “Zonday’s” song, add a boatload of production values, and come up with an online video that would get attention and go viral. Very viral. As of this writing, the video has been up on YouTube for exactly one week, and has been viewed there 1,234,763 times. Here it is.

One of the first lines of the song is “This is the web, and it’s going to murder your TV.” True enough. And it has already made modern Lana Turner stories more sudden, more fleeting, and decidedly digital.

Who is Nick Haley and how did he earn his Gen C credentials?

Apple fan Nick Haley, an 18-year-old “fresher” at University of Leeds, got his first Macintosh computer when he was three. Earlier this year his enthusiasm bubbled over. The new iPod Touch inspired him to create a 30-second TV spot, complete with an infectious musical bed. But this act of creation didn’t earn Mr. Haley his Generation C strips. The “C,” after all, stands for Content, or Co-creation — as I described earlier in this post. No, he truly arrived when he posted the ad on YouTube.

If that were the end of the story, it would be inspiring enough. Here is a young man who acts on the urge to express his love for a brand — and home-grown video production — with like-minded fans and friends.That’s pretty cool.

But as this New York Times piece puts it, “Leave it to Apple to … think differently.” They rung him up, flew him to Los Angeles, and turned his concept into their newest TV spot. Kudos to the production expertise of Apple’s long-time ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, for not distorting Haley’s vision in the final product (it’s a pity they had to ditch the catchy song from the original, by the Brazilian band CSS).

It’s no surprise that Apple gets it when it comes to helping their wired fan base spread the word about their products. I look forward to seeing how many other brands follow suit. For me, at least, user-generated ads will be a major force in slowing down my inclination to zoom past commercials on my DVR.