Friday, October 31, 2008

Xerox: Transforming the trade show portfolio

While attending the 2008 Experiential Marketing Summit in Chicago, many of the country’s biggest event marketing companies presented case studies on best practices across each phase of a brand experience.

Here’s our takeaway from the Xerox case study:

Trade show portfolios continue to be streamlined, amped up and transformed into better-performing platforms that provide a greater return than ever before. The way Xerox reinvented its trade show efforts emerged from research, strategic planning and new tools.

Rosie Madison, VP of industry marketing, at Xerox and her exhibit partner Christopher Kappes, EVP of sales, at Sparks presented the factors that what led Xerox to rethink its exhibit strategy, how it weighed the risks of changing its gameplan, and the internal and external hurdles the company had to overcome.

Most of all, they offered insight on how the company is measuring success.

According to Xerox research, an effective trade show begins with “the conversation” objective. During the event set-up, the brand team should focus on what conversations with attendees are desired. Then, the trade show plan can be created to fit that interaction. Xerox customer research helped them design exhibits that could be flexible and customized for each show. Plus, they allowed efficient traffic flow and easy customer dialogue.

Further, these successful brand conversations go beyond the booth itself. The trade show staff must be effectively trained. In order to make this training more consistent on a show-to-show basis, Xerox has created an e-learning platform with specific trade show selling curriculum. Market research and sales force feedback guided them that selling at a convention booth was different from an office sales call. Therefore, different selling strategies are necessary.

Another point of evaluation is the exhibit venue. The trade show team must learn about the venue for events to determine why it is a good fit for “the conversation.” How can the venue become part of the sales strategy? How can it be leveraged for the area branch? How can it be used to make greater impact with local customers?

Finally comes the process of managing and measuring these programs. The Xerox team creates a forecast and plan that include set criteria for each event – by brand – with the projected budgets to be allocated and target sales to be generated. Because of the large number of trade shows at which Xerox exhibits, the review calls are scheduled weekly with both the agency and brand team. The agenda includes a discussion of the criteria for upcoming shows, as well as a report of progress to goals.

In transforming the trade show portfolio, what are the applications for health, science, and technology marketers?

When the teams at Stinson Brand Innovation create strategies for conventions, scientific meetings, and trade shows, we help clients facilitate customer conversations. Our plans are designed to help with Awareness, Attitude, and Usage. That means we educate attendees with new knowledge, engender a new positive attitude, and above all, change practice. All three of these dynamics can and should be measured.

Using a template suggested by the Xerox case, list some of the ways you could make your trade show programs more productive and more measurable.

2. EXHIBIT DESIGN -- Elements to facilitate the customer interaction
3. SALES TRAINING -- Approaches to modify the call for the venue
4. RESULTS CRITERIA -- Measuring the results of each shows

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Could you tell your story in a haiku?

Here’s an interesting idea from John Marden, a marketer & new business developer with Marden Marketing in the Twin Cities. He says:

When I am looking
to make copy clear, I use
the simple haiku.

It forces you to
trim out excess words. Focus
on the customer.

For final copy, break out of the strict haiku rules and sentence structure.

With just a quick look at an offering of a pre-paid pass that allows the purchaser to get into attractions/museums/sites:

"See all the best sights
in your favorite city
with one easy pass."


"Visit attractions
in your favorite city.
All for one low price!

You get the idea.

2008 Idaho Innovation Award Winners

Yesterday, leaders from Idaho's business and technology communities honored this year's winners of the annual Idaho Innovation Awards.

As the state’s only innovation awards program, the Idaho Innovation Award has recognized innovations exclusively in the technology industry. However, this year the Idaho Innovation Awards program recongnized innovative professionals and companies, in addition to technology innovations.

The 2008 winners and finalists are as follows (by category):

* Innovator of the Year
Winner: Dr. Timothy P. Barber, Chief Scientist, Keynetics Inc.
Finalist: Bruce J. Bradley, CEO, Microbial-Vac Systems,Inc.
Finalist: Frank L. VanderSloot, President and CEO, Melaleuca

* Innovative Company of the Year
Winner: Keynetics Inc.
Finalist: Marketron Broadcast Solutions
Finalist: Melaleuca

* Innovation of the Year/Commercialized Technology:
Winner: Antibody Profiling Identification -(AbP ID) by Idaho National
Finalist: M-Vac System by Microbial-Vac Systems, Inc.
Finalist: Motion to Energy Power Generation by Idaho National
Laboratory and Boise-based research partner M2E Power Inc.

* Innovation of the Year/Early-Stage Technology:
Winner (tie): by Novel Projects, Inc.
Winner (tie): IMS Enviromental Probe by Boise State
Finalist: Kount E-Commerce Fraud-Control Techonology by Kount Inc.

The Idaho Innovation Awards program is organized by Stoel Rives LLP, sponsored by the Idaho Business Review, and supported by accounting firm, Cooper Norman.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Story insights from award-winning author and illustrator William Joyce

A few weeks ago I wrote that an old friend from Shreveport won this year’s Louisiana Writer Award.
William Joyce is an Emmy-winning author and illustrator of children's books – and he has been hailed by Newsweek as one of the top 100 people to watch in the new millennium.

As he took home the award, here are a few thoughts on story development shared in the media:

"If we take a child and introduce him to the fun and joy that comes from knowing characters in a story, if we are able to inspire that child and see the first sparks of wonderment that come from reading, then we know we've set that child on a course that will be stayed throughout his or her life," said Louisiana state librarian Rebecca Hamilton.

"Joyce's work shines at this. His stories are playful, full of joy and mischievousness, and children open up to that quality and want to know more," she said.

Joyce best-selling children's books include "George Shrinks," "Santa Calls" and "Dinosaur Bob and his Adventures with the Family Lazardo." He won three Emmys for his popular children's show "William Joyce's Rolie Polie Olie," an animated Disney Channel series. Joyce was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the top 100 people to watch in the new millennium. His feature films include "ROBOTS" and "Meet the Robinsons," and he's created conceptual characters for popular films "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life."

Joyce said the inspiration for his stories could come from a variety of sources, including life transitions, like the birth of his first child, something he hears or an inexplicable feeling.

He's working on two projects — "The Guardians of Childhood" and "Misheviants."

"The Guardians of Childhood" is a movie about how all the popular holiday and mythical characters — including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost and others — band together to defeat Pitch, otherwise known as the Boogeyman.

Joyce's other project, "Mischeviants" will be a children's book series about the little creatures that live in the house and do all the things that annoy humans, such as hide the remote control and eat homework.

His advice to other aspiring artists: "Never underestimate the power of goofing off."

Joyce also pointed out that today's generation has even more opportunities to achieve careers in storytelling. "There are so many opportunities that weren't available before, whether it's in film, television, cartoons, animation, graphic novels, comic strips, storyboarding or whatever else. The American entertainment culture has something that translates worldwide and will never be outsourced."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

4-part C.H.E.M. model presented to Rotary International today

I had the privilege to speak to the Boise Metro Rotary Club this afternoon. I shared with them the application of our C.H.E.M. model to ignite more excitement and involvement of members. Thanks to the members and guests who attended.

3-minute survey on the "Coolest and Gaps" in brand experiences

I want to invite you all to participate in the "Coolest & Gaps" annual survey launched by Allegro 234, a brand consultancy in Madrid, Spain. My colleague Cristián Saracco is the founder and CEO of the firm, and he sent me this announcement:

Take the survey at

The survey is designed to learn the best brand experiences and the gaps in the different sectors. Unlike other surveys of this kind, "Coolest & Gaps" is the first study based on open answers and is designed to go beyond a simple ranking.

It's good to understand how to build a brand experience that is worth living, its usefulness, its value, its functionality ... the emotions it arouses. General Electric is one of the brands with higher value on a global basis, however, there are brands such as Agent Provocateur, Virgin or Patagonia whose value is significantly lower, however, generate a far more relevant experience to their target audiences… and this, in some point may be more important to know and useful to take decisions about our brands.

This initiative is being carried forward on a global level, through the publication of the invitation to participate in it, in different strategic marketing and branding blogs.

"Coolest & Gaps" is an online survey. It can be completed in less than three minutes and additionally among those who answer, 30 "Gift Cards" from Amazon will be given away. So take the surevey at

Votes may be cast until 11/14/08, and the results will be published in mid-December at the web sites of Allegro 234 ( ) and Brand 3.0 ( ).

Allegro 234 is a team of consultants specializing in creative and strategic marketing and branding. Recent clients include: Cosentino, Castilla y Leon, Casa del Libro, Codorniu, Grupo Lar, NOZAR Group, Grupo Uriach, Uralita Group, Repsol YPF.

Monday, October 27, 2008

E-mail marketing secrets and lies

A couple of weeks ago, Forrester Research released a new report, “Benchmark Your Email Organization,” that details some surprising e-mail marketing trends and practices.

Here is what Karen Bannan of B-to-B magazine wrote about it.

Forrester surveyed 260 e-mail marketers to help understand the business processes that are used to run e-mail programs. The findings of the study show that, despite the fact that most companies have been doing e-mail marketing for years, the channel is still immature, said Julie M. Katz, Forrester analyst and author of the study.

Marketers lack a cohesive strategy and don’t manage frequency, acquisition or list cleaning well, the report found. “It’s pretty sad,” Katz said. “There are some great tools and benefits out there and marketers just aren’t taking advantage.”

Katz reveals one little-known secret and one commonly believed lie about e-mail marketing.

Secret: The best metrics go beyond opens and clicks.

According to the report, 59% of marketers are still using such standard e-mail analytics as opens and clicks to learn about performance. By doing so, Katz said, they are missing out. “The best metrics to track are engagement over time and ROI,” she said. “They can give you the information you need to tweak your program and re-engage people who have declining interest.”

One way to check engagement is integrate e-mail and Web analytics to track where e-mail subscribers are going after they click through to a message. You should also track people when they come to your Web site regardless of how they got there, she said. “Tracking through to the site is a good thing because that’s when people are showing that they are active and engaged,” Katz said.

Lie: Testing e-mail marketing is difficult.

One of the most surprising things Katz discovered was a widespread lack of testing. A mere 15% of marketers report having a comprehensive testing program that applies lessons learned to future campaigns. Twenty percent of respondents said they don’t do any testing, and 55% said they do “some testing on an ad hoc basis with a limited number of elements,” according to the report.

“I was shocked because it’s so easy to test and optimize a campaign via testing,” Katz said. “E-mail marketers have an opportunity to make their e-mail programs so much stronger if they think about devising a systematic testing program. They should sometimes test subject lines, sometimes test creative, sometimes test which offers to send.”

The benefits of testing are multifaceted, she said. Marketers can present more relevant content and offers and create e-mails that will drive opens and interaction, she said. “You end up understanding your customers better and understanding their needs,” Katz said.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Going the Extra Mile will Get You Even Farther by Jack Canfield

Many of you have said you’ve enjoy the notes I’ve shared from Jack Canfield. He is America's #1 Success Coach – founder of the billion-dollar book brand “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Successful people go the extra mile. Plain and simple.

They do it because it says multitudes about their work ethic and character. They stand out from the crowd because of their extra efforts. They are unwilling to give up, even in the face of difficult times.

They get the promotions, they get the loyal customers, they grow their businesses twice as fast, they get financial rewards, job security, and they go home feeling satisfied.

Do you exceed expectations? Do you surprise people with more than they were expecting from you? Do you look for ways that you could be of more service, or for projects that you could help out on?

People notice hard workers. They notice special services and all the small touches that make dealing with you so pleasurable. And when they are talking to their friends they will mention you and recommend you because you are the one who stands out.

Do you wonder what's in it for you? Do you think it's unfair to give more when you're not being compensated for it or recognized for it? Do you have the "it's not my job" mentality?

To be successful you must change your thinking. You can only win by making extra efforts. People who go the extra mile always get payback. You will discover yourself becoming more self-confident, more self-reliant and more influential with those around you.

You will get noticed! People will see that you pay attention to detail, that you consider all the small things that really make a business successful, that you care about your image, and that you belong with all the other people who work hard to achieve. You will attract new business and new opportunities.

Listen to any success story and you will hear of someone who worked exceptionally hard to get what they wanted.

You'll hear how they put in the extra time, did what wasn't part of their job description, and over-delivered on what was asked of them. You'll hear how they stuck at it until they broke through, and usually you'll hear how it only took them a couple of years to do it.

What have you been doing for the past couple of years? The same thing? How quickly have you advanced? How quickly has time gone by? Think of what you could accomplish if you made it a habit to exceed everyone's expectations. Image what doors could be open to you if you decided to be of better service and value.

How are you willing to go the extra mile? What kind of extra service are you willing to provide in order to stand out from the rest? What areas of your life could you be giving more of your effort and time, becoming more valuable, and improving your reputation?

Be willing to treat everyone like you'd treat your dearest friend. Don't skimp on service. Don't be mediocre or run of the mill. Show people what you are capable of. Show them that you care about your image and reputation.

When it comes to success, the people who are willing to go the extra mile get there that much faster!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Does a “Change Agent” need to make change SEEM urgent?

How can you combat the complacency that can kill a key change initiative?

Using a tool like our “Change Agent” program, you can appeal to people's hearts, not just their minds. Consider these tactics suggested by expert John Kotter:

• Bring in emotionally compelling data, people, and images depicting what's going on in the industry, its markets, and the competition -- and showing that the company must alter course to survive.
• In every meeting, face-to-face exchange, and written communication, demonstrate your own sense of urgency -- your conviction that the status quo is more dangerous than the unknown.
• Highlight current crises to further signal the need for change.
• Remove or neutralize those determined to keep a group satisfied with the status quo.

(These tactics were adapted from Chapter 3 of the new book A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter. Harvard Business Press, 2008)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pleasure of Never Reaching a Goal

By Kevin Burns

I remember years ago attending a seminar on goal setting. This was sort of a generic goal-setting workshop that had the participants write down things that they wanted to accomplish in life -- a sort of "Bucket List" if you will. Then a bunch of magazines were distributed to the participants, and we were handed scissors to cut out pictures of the things we wanted. Those pictures were to be glued to a board as a collage of all of the things we wanted to have or accomplish with our lives. It sort of felt like kindergarten class again.

We were told to, each day, visualize that we had already accomplished what we each said we wanted and to focus on pretending that it was a done-deal. I had difficulty subscribing to the concept of trying to trick my brain into seeing it as already completed. I mean, there was no work involved. According to the seminar leader, believe it and stuff would just show up magically.

I was at a loss for words to explain how cheated I felt in this session. I had hoped to find a blueprint to do the work, but instead I was being asked to believe that simply thinking it would make it so. And I suppose it could for anyone, provided there was no reality involved like bills showing up and bank statements indicating that each participant was a little shy of their goal of millions of dollars in the bank. In other words, there was no strategy to overcome reality. Just dream it and it will be so. Sorry. Didn't buy it.

So recently, when I read in the Lifehack Blog, an article on The Science of Setting Goals, I realized why I didn't subscribe to the "motivational speaker" concept of goal setting. It turns out that it is actually the pursuit of a goal that releases dopamine into the brain -- a kind of "feel-good" chemical that brings pleasure. When the goal is achieved, the dopamine release stops. Therefore, pleasure stops. So it turns out that there seems to be less satisfaction and personal pleasure in achieving a goal than there is in relentlessly pursuing the goal.

Once a person achieves a goal, it's over. There is no more mission, no more purpose, no more reason to get out of bed in the morning. Perhaps it's the reason that people who have a windfall of money end up doing nothing and eventually spend their windfall. They are looking for a high of dopamine pleasure that only exists in pursuing something worthwhile -- not in actually getting it. Once you have accumulated everything you say you ever wanted in life, it doesn't seem to matter anymore.

Now the smart goal-setters are the ones who keep their goals just out of reach. What I mean by that is to set goals for yourself that will require you to stretch yourself a little. The goals can't be easy. There has to be some work involved.

Attitude Adjustment: Set your goals so that you have to work for them. Once you feel and see yourself getting close to attaining the goal, simply move the line away a little more so it is just a little out of reach again. You will find, over time, that you were capable of attaining things you never thought you could do. Keep moving the line further and further away -- but still within reach if you work at it. You will find that there is a whole lot more pleasure in realizing how far you are capable of stretching yourself than the pleasure you would find in attaining a goal and then resting on your laurels because you think you've accomplished something. Develop the attitude of believing that you are always capable of more -- and more is what you will do and more is what you will have. There's a great deal of pleasure in that.

About the Author:

Kevin Burns, Author & Attitude Adjuster, is an attitude expert in Employee Engagement, Service, and Safety. Kevin believes better people offer better service, make better sales, get along better, communicate better, engage themselves better, manage better, and overall, make your organization better and safer as a whole. He delivers high-energy and hilarious keynote presentations to corporate and association audiences throughout North America. To inquire about Kevin's availability, call toll-free 1-877-BURNS-11.

More info on Kevin's programs at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

8 Things You Can Do for Personal Management

Here are some thoughts I wanted to pass along from author and personal growth expert Annette Colby, RD:

If you often feel moody or down in the dumps, perhaps that is just part of the way you are built. Instead of tolerating your moods, maybe it's time you also became an expert in personal mood management. If you are having trouble feeling happy, try these tips. When you find something that works, add it to your emotional well-being toolbox. Then next time you want to move from sad to glad, open your toolbox, dig around, and put one or more of your tools into action.

1. Go ahead -- worry.
Allow yourself 15 minutes of worry time. Get out your journal and write it all down. Your journal can be an incredible tool to validate the importance of what you feel. Express your emotions, feel your feelings, and let it all out. Write out the big sloppy, messy misery that you are experiencing. Communicate your concerns. Then once it's all out, set aside your journal and move on to an activity that will bring some positive energy into your life.

2. Walk it off.
Research shows that walking is great way to de-stress. Not only does a walk get your energy flowing, it also helps you breathe more deeply. Breathing can disrupt the internal stress-building loop where stressful feelings lead to negative thoughts that lead to stressful energy. Breathing interrupts the common tendency that we have to ruminate or become absorbed with our thoughts and feelings when we are upset. Breathing opens up your body, helps emotions flow, and helps us come back to our own inner core of peace.

3. Rub it in.
Enjoying a 20-minute massage once or twice a week has been shown to lower stress and anxiety. Plus, massage is a great way to connect with your body in a positive, loving way. Human touch in the form of massage can allow you to relax, unwind, reduce your stress hormones, and increase brain relaxation. It certainly can't hurt, and it can make you feel better.

4. Laugh it up.
If you can't cry, then try laughing. It can be just as effective as tears to move out some of those dark, heavy, moody energies. Laughter also increases the release of endorphins -- brain chemicals that give you a sense of emotional well-being. Rent a funny movie, call up your comical friend, or check out the comedy channel on television or your satellite radio. A giraffe walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Do you want a long neck?" The giraffe says, "Do I have a choice?" Didn't think that one was funny? Try this one: Three guys walk into a bar. The third one ducks.

5. Create the official "50 things I love" list.
Sit down and create a list of 50 things you love. Maybe your list includes a favorite movie, making up silly songs, an onion bagel, and gardening. When you are feeling down, you can look at all the things you love about life. Then actively engage yourself in one or two of the items on your list, even if you think you won't enjoy yourself. Find an item that makes you laugh, boosts your self-esteem, or revitalizes your mood. You might be faking it at first, but as you take an intentional action to nurture yourself, your brain will respond by releasing feel good hormones.

6. Food and mood.
What you eat can affect your mood. If you haven't eaten in a few hours, or you've only eaten a sugary cereal or doughnut for breakfast, your blood sugar could be plummeting. Low blood sugar equals a low mood. Instead of reaching for a quick fix candy bar, reach for a meal that's loaded with protein that can increase alertness and energy, and complex carbohydrates that can provide a level blood sugar balance. High protein foods include fish, poultry, meat, and eggs. If you can't eat those, try legumes, cheese, milk, yogurt, or tofu. Healthy complex carbohydrate foods include whole grain breads and cereals, whole grain pasta or rice, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables.

7. Drink Up the H2O!
Drink water, water, and more water! One of the first signs of dehydration is a mood swing. Drinking more water could be the easiest way to lighten your mood, sharpen your thoughts, and feel better quickly. In part, that's because your brain needs water to function at its highest capacity. Rehydrating allows the natural brain chemicals to do their job.

8. Clean your house, clear your mood.
A clean house, or closet, or desk can lift your spirits. Being surrounded by clutter can cause you to feel overwhelmed, stuck, and stressed. It can kill your energy and leave you feeling down and unmotivated. Get a feel for where you would get the most bang for your buck. Cleaning the toilet might not do much to increase your enthusiasm, but putting away your laundry and then clearing out your closet might just be what the doctor ordered. Once your clutter clearing is complete, sit back, breathe, and enjoy all the new energy that is available to you.

Learning to lift you mood can seem impossible at times, but there are ways to help yourself feel better. Experiment with the tips above and discover what lifts the funk out of you. Spending some time figuring out how to release a sad mood will pay off big time to give you a more fun and fulfilling life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remembering a True 'Enchanted Self': By Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

I’ve found that you can draw meaningful life lessons from a lot of places. But I never thought I could learn so much from “The Lucy Show” – until I read this ezine article by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. She is the author of a book entitled "The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy.”

Enjoy her observations:

Over my lifetime I have never tired of watching Lucille Ball in action. Oh, what ecstasy in my childhood to finish a dreary Monday by watching Lucy come to grips with her life in hysterical ways! She gave me courage to believe as a little girl that one could overcome adversity, have a life worth living, fill that life with positive emotions and fun, and stay happy even when faced with momentary distress. No one in the world could eat as many chocolates as fast as Lucy, working on an assembly line, bake a loaf of bread so large it overtook the kitchen, or carry a smelly cheese onto an international flight, wrapped up as baby! No one could make me laugh so hard!

Lucy has held the key to my humor heart at any time of day or night! Ah, I wish I could find her any time I need her -- after a bad day, after bad news, after too big a dinner -- after almost any occasion that could be buffered by a good laugh, and a comforting sense of the familiar.

What was her magic? How has she managed to take me to my Enchanted Self since I was a 10-year-old child, watching her in Fairfield, Connecticut on Monday nights? How has she engendered positive states of being again and again?

First of all, for most of us over 25, Lucy has become part of our history. She was always there, on a snow day, a day of illness, a late night when one couldn't sleep. If you were lucky and flicked enough stations, there she was. Her smile was infectious, and her ineptness made us all feel comfortable. It was as if she revealed our most embarrassing moments for us. We never had to feel the shame or humiliation of tripping down the stairs with a giant showgirl hat on our heads or try to catch up with the real superman on the ledge to our apartment! Lucy did it for us. Yet, inside of each of us was the youngster that would have given anything to be in a show or looking for superman!

Secondly, she gave us the 'real' family that had a lot going for it, which not all of us had. They really seemed to love each other, they had good friends, they always made up when they fought, and nothing happened that was truly devastating. Silly mistakes were just that, and grudges were not held! They got to travel and meet famous people and eat in fancy restaurants! And, they had a baby and everyone was happy and loved the baby and no one was jealous. Lastly, they got to move up in life when they finally moved to the suburbs into a big house with lots of land and funny happenings. They even raised chickens!

What a beautiful world Lucy and her gang recreated for us. It was our country, our way of life, but on top of the familiar were humor, love, and always recovery from problems or embarrassments.

In essence, she made the familiar the best it could be! She helped us live in our imaginations for a while, yet kept us earthbound at the same time. Yes, we were in states of well being, again and again -- which is what THE ENCHANTED SELF is all about.

I realize now that she was one of my most important mentors. She actually assisted me through every gate of Enchantment. This is how she did it:

FIRST GATEWAY, Self-Esteem: If Lucy could be embarrassed and yet triumph, so could I!

SECOND GATEWAY, Learning to Meet My Needs: If Lucy could get on TV, travel, meet famous people, etc. so could I!

THIRD GATEWAY, Bringing in Pleasure to One's Life: Lucy gave me pleasure and showed me how to get more! She had fun and good times even though she made mistakes and was even ridiculous at times. Therefore so could I!

FOURTH GATEWAY, Becoming the Heroine of One's Life Story: If Lucy could be a heroine, receive recognition, and save the day so many times, with all her mistakes and foibles, so could I!

FIFTH GATEWAY, Finding Tribes to Belong To: Lucy let me belong to her world without hesitation. Not only did this gift give me an extra family, but also it gave me confidence that I could find others.

SIXTH GATEWAY, Finding Mentors: Lucy was a great mentor for me. She taught me humor and how to recover from shame and embarrassment and how to keep trying even with disappointments and delays. Again, if she could keep on trying, so could I!

SEVENTH GATEWAY, Living a Life of Positive Action: Every week Lucy gave me hope that even with mistakes I could live a life of meaning, feel loved, and have a good time! What a great combination!

Lucy's amazing gift to me was that by allowing me to identify with her very failings and embarrassments, I was also able to uplift myself at the same time! Like the ancient Moses, who had a severe speech impediment -- which everyone was aware of, and trembled every time God asked him to lead his people -- Lucy had modern-day shortcomings. She was foolish. She wanted to show off. She wanted to be in pictures! Yet, like Moses, she led a generation or two in positive paths anyway.

Thank you Lucy Ricardo, and of course, Lucille Ball for giving me so much enchantment! How delightful to hold your inspiration again in my mind's eye!

About the Author:

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of THE ENCHANTED SELF® and a positive psychologist in private practice since 1981. She is the author of "The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy," "Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!," "Delight," and now "The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything)."

Dr. Holstein speaks on radio and appears on television in New York and New Jersey. Her website is

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Worst Thing You Can Do Right Now Is Freak Out and Hide. Here's How to Stop Acting Scared and Start Making Progress.

A couple of weeks ago, this article “Recession-Proof Your Career Now” in Advertising Age grabbed me.

Literally. It grabbed me by the arm and shook me.

It rolled up the magazine, hit me on the head, and shoved my nose in it.

I tore it out and have been carrying it with me ever since. Reading it over and over. Trying in a subtle way to put a few of its ideas in action. Trying to share its urgency and tone without scaring people.

But it’s not a soft, quiet, timid, subtle article.

So I decided to post it in its entirety with three intentions:
1) read from the point-of-view of your own career, but also 2) read it from your agency’s point-of-view, then 3) read it from the client’s point-of-view.

The author is Sally Hogshead – a creative director, author and speaker on brand innovation. Her next book, "Fascinate," reveals how to captivate the world around you.


Copyright©2008 Crain Communications

Yes, unquestionably, the rules of work have changed. We're in an angst-ridden environment now. Planned layoffs in July rose 26% compared with June, according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. But don't let that anxiety stop you from moving forward. Learn the new rules and get on with rocking the house.

Working for a big company slows your ability to achieve a lot quickly. It usually takes at least six months to ramp up, develop relationships and become entrenched in juicy projects. When layoffs come, the newest employees are the most vulnerable. Freelance/consulting provides new-client experience and more exposure to more people.

Bosses may love you and you may be a hit at the office cocktail parties, but layoffs happen to the best of us. No one can take away the professional wins and personal investments; relationships and knowledge are always marketable skills.

In a recession, political ties go south. Make sure you're connecting to others in your company and industry, and keep gathering the experience to stay valuable. If you work someplace where the ax is about to fall, focus on building your own brand so that you're armed to stay in the game.

Supporting the company's goals is important, absolutely. But remember, what will save you is not your company. It's the quality of your own résumé. Learn a new skill, such as writing an RFP. Find ways to contribute to the financial viability of a company.

Constantly find new ways to add value. Every single interaction with your boss or client should reinforce your contribution. In meetings, bring more than a smile. Determine how your skills can translate to tangible results.

In cushier times, people might not care if you breeze into a meeting 20 minutes late or turn in your project on time. When stress goes up, however, you don't want to draw negative attention.

Moodiness and personal issues are deal-killers in this environment. There's already too much angst and too much competition to indulge any personality issues. Don't bitch about your personal life. On a related note ...

Same with acting bored in meetings or world-weary on conference calls. Prove you're ready to deliver, now, here. Coasting is death.

Don't wait for your organization to offer a class; spend your own time and resources on independent study. Focus on things that enhance your résumé and brand, and not just to please your boss. Help guarantee your own invincibility.

Deliver exceptionally within the scope of work, and provide additional solutions outside of what you were asked to do (and don't bill for those ideas). Inject urgency into all you say and do.

Create new revenue streams. In a recession, laurels count for less; your last accomplishment drives market value. Often you can earn more interesting exposure on a solo basis. One advantage of freelance/consulting is that companies will more likely invest in part-timers during a recession, and you can bring your work to more people.

What can you do that no one else knows how to do? What jobs or relationships can you handle in a way that no one else can? Become so entrenched that it's too difficult to replace you.

Solve immediate needs. Shift your mind-set away from big and general and more to the immediate bottom line. Your client and your boss want results that show up now. What can you do to increase revenue today? How can you shorten timelines?

You know how toddlers cover their eyes and think they're invisible? People do the same thing during a recession: make themselves invisible to avoid getting axed. Don't cower under your desk. Get out and prove yourself daily.

When budgets are being cut, align yourself with people and projects that actually make real revenue. If you're assigned to a client that's tanking, or spending time on feel-good initiatives, be careful. Find where the growth is.

Reach out to old clients, current clients and potential partners with meaningful contact. But don't just solicit for business; provide them value. For example, research articles that may be beneficial to their business and forward with communication.

Bottom line?

Don't kiss ass. Save your own.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nice Knowing You

I just signed on to support an independent film by Joe Burke, a promising young writer/director. His project is entitled “Nice Knowing You” and is supported by a grant for the American Film Institute. (I figured they know a lot more than I do about quality films; so if they judged it worthy for a grant, then I would, too. Of course, I still got Joe to pitch me like an executive producer. That’s part of the experience also.)

I first met Joe while he was at Columbia College in Chicago. He was a theater major then switched to film/directing. While in school, Joe founded Elantra Films through which he produced and self-released several of short films (including an award-winning music video). Joe graduated from Columbia College in 2006 with a B.A. in Film, plus a Minor in Theater/Acting. He lives in Hollywood, CA and is now a Directing Fellow at The American Film Institute.

The American Film Institute (AFI) is the preeminent organization dedicated to advancing and preserving the art of film, television and other forms of the moving image. AFI trains the next generation of filmmakers at its world-renowned Conservatory, having served the moving image arts since its founding in 1969. The Conservatory awards the Master of Fine Arts. Professional faculty members work closely with the AFI Fellows through the time-honored relationship of master and apprentice.

“Nice Knowing You” is currently in preproduction in L.A., with casting and location work well under way. Joe starts the shoots in November.

Good luck, Joe.

You can read about the story and follow the project at

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The crusade against chronic diseases

Through our connections in the Boise office, we’ve recently got involved with a group called Active Community Wellness. Later this month, we’ll be conducting an N-of-8 session with key members to help develop a platform for the ACW group.

In benchmarking other health and wellness initiatives, I researched a program we learned about in Mumbia, India – the Help Your Body campaign. So, I wanted to share with you some highlights of its work. You can see the entire scope at

First, some background:

The world has been clamoring about the great Indian success story. The youngest entrant into the elite Trillion Dollar Economy club, India will become the youngest nation with an estimated 700 million people under the age of 35 years India in 2025. The distressing aspect however is the overall health scenario that is turning out to be the bane for this same young productive India. India is slowly and steadily acquiring the status of the global chronic disease capital.

By 2025, India will have the dubious distinction of having 70 million diabetics, 213 million hypertensives and 60 million arthritics. The cost of these including welfare losses is estimated to be Rs 15,01,200 crores by 2015. According to the WHO repot Preventing Chronic Diseases - A vital investment, 388,000,000 people will die in the next 10 years of a chronic disease. A significant proportion of this will be in India.

A combination of the “thrifty gene hypothesis” (i.e. our genetic predisposition towards obesity and diabetes) and frantic lifestyle has brought us on the brink of a healthcare catastrophe.

Effective sustainable interventions, and the knowledge to implement them, have been shown to work in many countries. If existing interventions are used together as part of a comprehensive integrated approach by the government, the private sector and the civil society, the goal of preventing chronic diseases can be achieved.

“helpyourbody” has taken up on to join hands with the government and the World Health Organization to curb the projected upward trend of chronic diseases by 2% per annum by using various communication and education mediums.

Next, here are some of its activities:

Under the aegis of “helpyourbody” - a nationwide program, they intend bridging the existing health divide by adopting a 3-pronged approach to roll out this initiative.

1. Awareness
2. Action
3. Sustain

Awareness: Together map awareness about chronic diseases
• Risk assessment & analysis of the Indian health perspective by key endorsers
• Patient Education literature with key measures
• Channels to take the crusade across 20 cities in India.
• Mass Media
• Website
• Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)
• Patient Education Programs

Action: Detection is the key to diagnose people at high risk
• Camps to reach out to people
• Crusader doctors to detect at least 10 high-risk patients in a month for further follow-up
• Educating through small steps for a healthy lifestyle
• Better Disease Management through:
• Special consultation & tests by specialists
• Detection camps conducted at Piramal Diagnostics

Sustain: Caring to reach out for better disease management

• Building communities across the nation with doctors, hospitals, retailers and chemists
• Conducting periodic local activities/events and camps
• Involving local NGOs to partner the same

What is the expected outcome?

The cumulative social and economic impact of these measures is bound to be immense. The incidence of chronic disease will significantly decrease, thus ensuring productive human capital, reducing disparities, minimizing economic loss by 2% every year and earning the nation Rs. 67,500 crores by 2015.

Moreover, it would help reduce disparities and save close to 1 million productive human lives. It would help propel the thriving Indian economy with an all-inclusive growth.

The sponsor of “helpyourbody” is The Piramal group

The Piramal Group understands the role of democratizing healthcare in building a global economy and reducing disparities. It says, “We consider ourselves fortunate that we can serve the community by reducing the burden of disease and have many initiatives to help us do that.” Piramal Healthcare Ltd. is a leading healthcare - pharmaceutical and diagnostics - company in the country. Piramal e-Swasthya attempts to make healthcare accessible to India’s rural communities using technology through a sustainable and scaleable service model.

We can learn a lot from the knowledge, the expertise, the reach and most importantly the deep desire of “helpyourbody” to reduce the threat of chronic diseases. I hope we can share this committment through the Active Community Wellness mission.

Friday, October 17, 2008


B-to-B, the magazine for marketing strategists, asked five industry experts to point out what works—and doesn't—in the world of b-to-b Web sites, and also to comment on a few of their favorite examples. This year's experts featured in the report a couple of weeks ago were:

• Hoa Loranger, user experience specialist, Nielsen Norman Group;
• William Rice, president, Web Marketing Association
• Alan Webber, senior analyst, Forrester Research
• Aaron Kahlow, chairman and founder of the Online Marketing Summit and managing partner of search and usability firm BusinessOnLine
• Dana Todd, CMO of Newsforce Inc. and chairwoman of Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization's (SEMPO's) education committee

Take a look at each of their picks here.

Target audience: Developers, creative professionals, knowledge workers, IT professionals

Cisco Systems
Target audience: IT executives and users—and most recently, the small and midsize business market

Formway Furniture
Target audience: Architects, interior designers, business owners, facilities managers

InFocus Corp.
Target audience: IT professionals and company purchasing agents

IT Toolbox
Information Technology Toolbox
Target audience: IT professionals

Johns Manville
Target audience: Building professionals, architects and specifiers, mechanical engineers

TechSmith Corp.
Target audience: Institutions and businesses, or anyone who wants to communicate their ideas and experiences visually

Suni Imaging
Target audience: Dental professionals

Target audience: Industrial buyers and engineers across many verticals, as well as the government and military

United States Postal Service
Target audience: Consumers and businesses

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The two aspects of branding

I wanted to share the remarks of two more speakers at the Asia Brand Congress 2008 held in Mumbai. These industry veterans touched upon the various aspects of branding and the mantras to maximize exposure of the brand.

Corporate branding

Harmanjit Singh, general manager, corporate affairs, Godfrey Philips India, emphasized just how important corporate branding is. He said that a brand is an experience and corporate branding is the sum total of all experiences the consumer has with the brand at various levels and at different times. “Even the way the operator deals with a wrong number on the board line contributes to the corporate identity,” Singh said.

He asked the audience what brought Starbucks, Tata, Wipro and Nike the stature they enjoy today. The answer was the experiences they gave to their consumers. “There is no great deal of difference between a Barista product and a Starbucks one. It’s not coffee that differentiates the two, but the experience and the brand value,” he explained.

Singh said he believed that a mere three seconds of logo presence on a TV commercial, or spending Rs 300 crore on a cricket match, do not make a brand. A brand needs to be treated not just as a product, but also as an institution. Corporate branding goes much beyond the product and touches upon aspects such as the vision of the company, customer focus, environmental concerns and technological commitment.

He said that just as Hewlett Packard stands for invent, Body Shop for no animal testing and Sony for innovation, every corporate must consist of an identity that includes core ideology and values. He gave the example of P&G, whose core value is “quality product and honest business”.

In his presentation, Singh highlighted a brand prism that, according to him, formed the framework of building a brand identity. Citing the example of Nike, he said that the brand identity comprises of a physique (swoosh), personality (independent, maverick), culture (never say die spirit), relationship (provoking leader), reflection (individualistic) and self-image (trail blazer).

Integrated branding

Sudha Natarajan, chief operating officer and vice-president, Lintas Media Group, shared an interesting case study on Bingo, for which they had prepared the launch strategy. Bingo marked ITC's foray into the crowded branded snacks segment, which is worth Rs 2,400 crore and dominated by Pepsi's brands, Lays and Kurkure. It was imperative that a buzz be created around the Bingo brand.

Bingo's unique propositions were its varied and weird flavors and the brand name itself. Natarajan said that since the target group, the youth, was passionate about sports and movies, the launch of the snack brand was planned during the ICC World Cup so as to reach out to the target group as a sponsor. “Clutter breaking communication created excitement around the brand and the campaign was highly noticed,” she said.

The snack brand also tied up with a few television channels, one of the prominent ones being HBO. ITC leveraged a comedy film festival on HBO, called it the 'Bingo! Comedy Combo' and created interstitials around that in the style of the ads.

To leverage the radio medium, Bingo tied up with Fever FM for a contest in order to get more visibility through the radio station's launch campaign. Bingo also sponsored the Aerosmith Concert and promoted it heavily on radio. A contest was run on radio, wherein a caller, in order to win passes for the concert, would have to sing an Aerosmith song in any Indian language.

Heavy point of purchase promotions ensured high recall and sales. The snack brand tied up with discotheques for theme parties. A website,, was created and promoted offline. A mobile game, Bingo Factory, was also created.

Natarajan said that as a result of the integrated campaign, Bingo was able to garner 16 per cent share of the market within the first year of its launch. The brand awareness grew to 66 per cent in the first year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Turbulent times bring creative marketing opportunities: a view from a Canadian strategist

While in British Columbia this week, I had a chance to get some added perspectives on branding amidst questionable economic times. Here are highlights from a piece in the "Globe and Mail" newspaper by Andrea Southcott, president of ad agency TBWA\Vancouver

Tough times mean the pressure is on for marketers.

To get through, you need to look reality squarely in the eye, see where your brand is weak, see where you're strong, and develop a strategy for moving forward. If you're a marketer, the pressure is on because everyone will be looking to you to make things better.

Fortunately, there are some time-honoured principles to help guide you and potentially even strengthen your brand.

1. Put away your budget-cutting scissors

2. Put away your price-slashing knife

3. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself

4. Be creative

5. Wrap your customer in a warm blanket

6. Learn from history

Read the full story at

A book I should’ve read BEFORE the 20-hour flight

747 Things to Do on a Plane, a new flight manual on how to beat boredom at 30,000 feet (Adams Media, $10.95)

Read more about it at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When Success is Slow, What Can You Do? Remember the Rule of 5.

Pop Quiz: Can success be sped up? Is there an antidote to slow outcomes despite arduous planning and actions taken? What is the secret for seeing huge results right now?!

I get versions of these questions frequently from people who feel frustrated at sluggish progress in their success journey - despite all the know-how and principles they rigorously employ.

But first, let's get one thing straight...

When we admire someone else's success, or even our own, we often focus on the end result and not so much on the effort, time, discipline, and setbacks that it took them to get there.

This can often cultivate unrealistic expectations and frustrations, especially the idea that overnight success can happen through careful strategy and execution of sound advice.

Truth be told, success typically follows a series of little events and achievements that include a few disappointments along the way, which challenges everything about you to the core--your stamina, courage, integrity, and even your willingness to keep going.

If you focus on what's not working, guess what: You're likely coming from a place of aggravation as your mind wraps around all that is wrong. You may even have negative thoughts like "I'm not good enough," "It will never work," or "Something must be wrong with me."

What this does mentally is engender more of these counter-productive feelings. And given what we know about the Law of Attraction, you attract what you are feeling. Negative experiences, people, and results will beget more negative experience, people, and results. There's not much success in that.

The key, then, is to focus on what IS working.

To do so, I recommend two simple practices: journaling and meditation.

1. Maintaining a journal (I call it an Evidence Log, Results Journal, or Gratitude Journal) is a great way to steer your attention to the positive and it helps to continually renew your vision for yourself. Start each day with reflections on what you are grateful for in your life (list them out!) and end each day with notes on what went right (again, write them down), however small.

2. Meditation can be a powerful tool for arriving at solutions to problems and shifting your attitude so you can attract success sooner rather than later. The magic of meditation is its ability to essentially shut down the outer layer of your judgmental, highly critical brain and allow your unconscious mind to take over. This is where you enter a deeper state of inner peace and joy, tapping into a higher level of creativity that will help usher in the results you want. Through the practice of meditation you will begin to become even more aware of your subtle intuitive impulses, insights, ideas, emotions and inspirations. Don't know how to meditate? Lots of books and materials are available to guide you this practice. It's easier than you think.

Okay, let's say you're doing ALL these things, but you still aren't happy with your results...

Then, I'll ask you: Are you taking real ACTION? You may be taking the actions you are used to taking. But therein lies the problem: if you keep doing what you've already done then you'll keep getting what you've always gotten. It's a matter of practicing some new behaviors. Shake things up a bit and see if you can take new actions or modify existing ones.

Remember the Rule of 5. Every day do five specific things that take you toward your goal. Change up the five actions regularly and be open to feedback so you know when you're off course.

Lastly, I want to remind you about patience.

It's natural to underestimate how long a certain goal can take, especially a profound one. When I set a goal to become a millionaire, the year was 1983. How long did it take? Eleven years. It took time for “Chicken Soup for the Soul” to hit the bestseller lists. You could say our tenure on the New York Times list was more than a decade in the making. That's a lot of patience for someone who initially wanted overnight success.

So, yes, patience is a virtue. But keep at it, and in time, you'll be only one week, or one day away from your ultimate success.

Remember... be grateful, reflect on what IS working and continue to take ACTION!

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Celebrate the Rhythm of Mumbai Marathon

On of the last speakers at the Asia Brand Congress was Anil Singh, managing director, Procam International (the sports and leisure management company), who presented the case of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon -- a first of its kind initiative in the city, started some two years ago.

“The chief problem was to instill a passion for running in society. Running wasn’t a culture in Mumbai at all back then,” Singh said.

Marathons are traditionally a showcase of a city’s character, but it is never easy to get a city to respond. Procam and Standard Chartered found an opportunity in the resilient and tenacious spirit of the Mumbaikars and decided to go ahead with the idea. The next question that arose was to get advertisers to put their monies behind such a movement.

“We positioned it as a dream run for people who don’t run in regular life,” Singh said, by introducing half-marathons, the senior citizens’ run, the wheelchair run, etc. The entire model was similar to that of the London Marathon, and charity – running for a cause – became an important motivator. The campaign was supported by on-ground activities, press, outdoor and television (the Celebrate the Rhythm of Mumbai commercials, featuring people tapping their feet with restless energy at every point in their lives). “The event became inclusive, garnering huge response and led to the creation of word of mouth around it,” Singh concluded.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Royal Victoria Marathon: results of my N-of-8 marathon

It was a beautiful Sunday morning on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. And what better way to tour the city of Victoria than a marathon run/walk!

This was my 8th marathon to complete...and my first in 5 years. So it was especially meaningful. The finish was made even more exciting when Jenny met me to cross the finish together. Don't I look happy!?!?!

I told our friend Michael Lebowitz, who took these finishline photos, that so many life lessons went through my mind as I pushed through the hills. And he share with me a quote:

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it." -- Antoine de St. Exupéry

Read more and see more photos at Michael's website at

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On the second day of the Asia Brand Congress 2008, advertising gurus shared their knowledge on how to communicate a brand that connects with, engages and inspires audiences.

Ravi Deshpande, chairman and chief creative officer, Contract Advertising, put it in a straightforward manner. He said the one thing that connects with, engages and inspires audiences is a good idea. And an idea is good only when it cuts through everything to reach the consumer’s heart.

“In order to connect with the mindsets of people around the world, you must learn what their aspirations are, what their psyche is, what their outlook is. You must know about their lifestyle so that you can connect with them on the same wavelength,” said Deshpande.

A good idea happens when the idea is principally honest. The truth and honesty must emanate from the brand as well. The example he cited here was the Honda ‘Hate Something Change Something’ campaign. (

A good idea isn’t just about competing with other good ads any more, but about winning over highly engaging distractions such as malls, iPods, the Internet and other new media. Certain factors that enable striking a chord with the consumer are entertainment (humor), good music and real, believable people. As an example to press home his point, Deshpande played the Shera Ceiling Board TV commercial. (

R Balakrishnan, national creative director, Lowe, attempted to decipher what advertising does to a brand. He then said that he himself did not know. He told the audience about a conversation he’d had with the marketing team of a certain client. The client told him that he didn’t need to sell the product – all he had to do was soften up the consumer.

“Most brands have too many ‘must haves’, a certain tone of voice, etc.,” said Balki, as Balakrishnan is known in ad circles. He pointed to the work Lowe does for telecom player Idea. The idea for the brand is to have a new idea each time.

“All the ideas for Idea can be individually used as a brand thought for some other brand, whether it is the caste war campaign or the recent education for the underprivileged,” said Balki. The tagline for Idea, ‘What an Idea!’, remains the same, but it has nothing to do with the campaign that may be running, he said.

The element that keeps the brand alive is that there is no predictability to its campaigns. Balki said the joy in advertising exists in not having a long-term idea, but in coming up with a new idea every three or four months. This excitement brings about engagement and inspiration among consumers.

Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer at BBDO India, discussed at length the place that advertising has achieved in everyday life. “Advertising has become a product beyond the brand. It has become a part of everyday conversation. Where once jokes, rumors and gossip were conversation starters, today, advertising has become an ice breaker,” said an enthusiastic Paul.

He shared his observations about where the frontiers of advertising are going. He played the Cadbury Gorilla ad. ( Though not a regular Cadbury communication, the client went ahead with the bizarre commercial because sales were dipping in Europe and the brand needed to get back its youth factor. The brand changed agencies and brought Fallon on board for the ad, which spread like wildfire over the Internet through YouTube.

Paul said brands are organic in nature. He explained, “I believe that like water, brands need to go with the flow. And when the client channels this flow, instead of controlling it, it makes for a winning situation.”

The next point that Paul made was the emergence of new media and how they enhance a campaign. An Argentinean telecom company, Arnet, wanted to increase the number of registrations that it had. It took the public appeal route and the response was humongous. A series of about six ads comprised the campaign.

This idea of mixing the brand with different kinds of media brings about a reinvention of the brand. “We are all DJs here to mix and remix,” said Paul. Closer home, Sunsilk, which was losing its charm with the wave of new entrants in its segment, bounced back when it connected to the younger audience with Sunsilk

Friday, October 10, 2008

There are brands, and then there are Lovemarks

On the second day of the Asia Brand Congress 2008, V Shantakumar, chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi India, explained the Lovemarks theory to his audience. As readers of my blog know, Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide chief executive officer Kevin Roberts coined the term, “Lovemarks,” a few years ago.

Lovemarks essentially stands for those brands that have achieved the status of invoking loyalty beyond reason amongst consumers.

Shanta started off with some market truths. "There aren’t any bad products left. And a market leader’s performance edge has never been lesser," he said. "We’re moving from brands to blands because of intense competition, and research firms are changing from umpires to vampires!"

According to him, the whole industry is obsessed with categories, so much so that they forget the people they are talking to. With increased focus on consistency, there is an aversion to risk settling in.

Earlier, brands followed this relationship pattern: You->Your Brand->Consumer. But ideally, they should follow this: You->Consumer->Their Brand. Said Shanta, "Lovemarks are not purchased, they are owned. If you take a brand away from a consumer, he will replace it. If you take a Lovemark away, he will protest."

Brands that command high respect (performance, trust and reputation) and great love (mystery, sensuality, intimacy) achieve Lovemark status. Even some people such as Mother Teresa or Sachin Tendulkar are Lovemarks. In the brands context, some Indian Lovemarks include Amul, Britannia, Cadbury, Horlicks and Vicks.

"Brooke Bond Red Label tea is a Lovemark that faded away," he said. "It is relatively easy to get people to fall in love with you… it’s tougher to get them to stay in love."

A brand such as Starbucks is an international Lovemark, all because of its approach. Starbucks believes it is in the people business, serving coffee, and not in the coffee business, serving people.

This is a complete antonym to the 360-degree communication jargon. "That is all bullshit," Santa thundered. "360 is all about surrounding people and attacking them from all sides… let’s not forget that we are in the attraction economy and not just the attention economy any more."

Further, things are moving away from return on investment to return on involvement, from product performance to total experience. Shanta advised marketers to generate emotion, rather than get people to listen to reason because "emotions lead to actions, while reasoning only leads to a conclusion".

On a broader plane, Shanta said, "If your spouse tells you that he loves you a million times in a day, chances are that at some point, you will get irritated. Advertising is becoming like that. Let’s not forget, love is about doing, not saying."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

An Introduction to City Branding

During the Asia Brand Congress 2008, I had the pleasure of meeting Sicco van Gelder, who is founder of Placebrands a company dedicated to helping cities, regions and countries develop and implement their brand strategies. He has been instrumental in developing the theory and practice of place branding. Sicco has advised places such as Amsterdam, Botswana, East Africa, Malaysia, Southampton and The Hague.

Sicco has lived, worked and traveled across five continents. His exposure to the
great diversity of these continents has helped him to develop his understanding
of and sensitivity to differing cultural, motivational, economic, social and competitive issues.

This is an overview of the key concepts Sicco presented:

Increasingly, cities compete with other places for attention, investment, visitors, shoppers, talent, events, and the like. Accelerated and intensified globalization has lead to a situation where the main competition is no longer the city down the road or the town across the bay, but where competitors are places half a world away. And this global competition is no longer limited to the big cities that compete for the HQs of multinational corporations and UN bodies, or for large sports events. Thanks to technological advances and market deregulations, even smaller places can suddenly be confronted with competitors located on another continent. Entire towns in Italy have lost their raison d’être as their furniture making industry clusters are wiped out by towns in China who produce the same products at much lower costs. Alicante in Spain struggles to compete with sunny beach destinations ranging from Antalya in Turkey to Pattaya in Thailand.
Bordeaux and its region face stiff competition from South Australia and the South African Cape Region for its traditional position of prime and premium winemaker. Traditional car-making centers such as the West Midlands, Detroit, Stuttgart and Nagoya feel the heat from Bratislava and Shanghai.

How does a city cope with this new multitude of contenders? Competing on tax breaks, tax credits, free land, soft loans and other financial incentives to attract investors and to shore up local industries is clearly a race to the bottom and one that is impossible to sustain. Advertising on CNN and sending trade missions into the world to flog the existing offer of the city is both ineffective and a waste of precious financial resources. Shoring up the city’s current offer with some new commercial, industrial or cultural development is not likely to turn the tide either
(and perhaps Bilbao is the exception that proves the rule).

What is needed is a frank rethink about what the city offers and will offer in future. What can be created that is so valuable about the city that its businesses, institutions and residents want to remain, that will attract investors, visitors and talent, and that will make commentators and influencers recommend the city?
Your city’s brand is the promise of that value. City branding is about deliberately creating, developing and demonstrating that value through appropriate ‘on brand’ actions, which consist of investments, physical and economic plans, attraction programs, events, communications, and the like. City branding is not something that is the sole preserve of local government or any of its departments or agencies. It is a shared responsibility and practice of the city’s main stakeholders. What is more powerful than having the stakeholders jointly define and realize the brand of their city, using their own particular strengths to ensure the world receives a compelling, joined up and consistent message about the city? For this to be effective city branding requires new forms of leadership, strategy and creativity.


Partnership: Who Are The Stakeholders?
For city branding to be successful, it is necessary for its key stakeholder organizations to come together in partnership. This is not your usual public- private partnership or a committee of wise men and women. This is a formal or informal body in which the key stakeholders jointly develop, create and lead on
the implementation of the brand of the city, under shared responsibility. Creating such a partnership is the first step in changing the way the city operates, because it simultaneously crosses divides such as those between town and gown, government and business, arts and sports, and commerce and culture, the public and community sectors. The partnership should be one of equals between those stakeholders that can realize the brand of the city through their actions, investments, decisions and communications.

All Partners Are Equal
City brand partnerships are not like central government departments, or local government or private companies or voluntary, community and charitable organizations. They are a hybrid form of organization. Their characteristics are determined by those who set them up, the purpose for which they were created and by those who lead the work of the partnership. The form of partnership organization and operation is rarely a given. It has to be negotiated and agreed by those who are going to be involved. All too often such partnerships are led by those with the largest checkbook or the most power. Such partnerships are rarely as effective as they could be. And in many respects they are not truly partnerships at all, merely collections of organizations who are working together to gain access to funding or to wield power. What is required is a partnership where all of the key stakeholders regard each other as equals, regardless of their power or resources, where their individual contributions are valued because, without them, the city will not realize its full potential.

Shared Leadership
Once the partnership is created, the challenge is to make it work effectively. The representatives of the stakeholder organizations that constitute the partnership have their own agendas and motivations for participating, as well as their own ways of working, of making decisions and of getting things done. They need to devise a whole new way of working together to reconcile their goals and practices and to make the partnership an effective vehicle for enhancing their city’s competitiveness, taking the lead on finding or creating the resources required. If a partnership knits together diverse interests to undertake projects that they cannot do by themselves, then the way they are run and who participates are of profound importance. Shared leadership in a brand partnership requires a far greater degree of common understanding and joint thinking than traditional forms of leadership in the public and private sectors.

Keen, Eager And Willing To Work Together
During the city brand strategy development process, the members of the brand partnership need to understand and reconcile differing policies and strategies, decide on what the future of their city will look like, what it will offer of value to consumers, how it will be experienced and what it is they can jointly do to make that future a reality. This requires a willingness to come together and work through these matters even when that may be difficult due to conflicts of interest, different opinions, differing timescales, and sometimes even personal dislikes. All
in one common cause: to make the city better able to compete for the things that will make it a better, a more sustainable and a more competitive place.

Brand Management Organization
Once the city brand strategy has been agreed by the partnership, its task changes to ensuring that the right actions are taken to make the brand come alive. This requires decisions on how best to manage the city brand, taking into account that the required actions, policy changes, investments, attraction programs, events and the like will be the responsibility of various city stakeholders, some of whom may not even have been represented on the original brand partnership and now need to be brought on board. Every city devises the brand management organization that it needs to implement the brand strategy. However, there are a few lessons that can be applied in most places.

Brand Management Lessons

1) The first lesson is that the partnership cannot simply dump full responsibility for the city’s brand on one of its partners or on a newly established entity. Once the strategy is agreed, the partnership must not consider its work as done. This is an on-going responsibility. A brand management organization can be tasked to do (part of) the implementation, coordination and communications, but it is an executive body that cannot take important decisions in the way that they city’s key stakeholders can.

2) The second lesson is that the brand partnership should be open to new members. As the brand is taking shape, new and different partners will emerge to play a vital role in its realization. A brand partnership should not be an “Old Boys Club”, or the “usual suspects” of the city’s establishment, but a body that responds to change by changing and reinventing itself.

3) The third lesson is that the partnership must continuously reappraise the brand strategy: is it on course, is it doing what we expected it to, does it need adjustment? This means that both the brand partnership and its brand management remain attuned and responsive to changes in the city’s environment and its offer.

4) A fourth lesson is that the partnership needs to mobilize a large proportion of the community of the city to carry the message about its brand and to ensure that its local citizens remain aligned with and supportive of what the brand is designed to achieve.

You can learn more about Sicco and his company, Placebrands Limited, on the website at

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hulu has some branding to do

Paige Albiniak, a contributing editor for Broadcasting & Cable, covers a range of topics including government regulation, syndication and distribution and the local station market.

Recently, she reported that more than half the people who have watched Tina Fey’s uncanny performance of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live have done so online. Some 23% of those views came via YouTube, including video of news and talk shows showing clips of the skit, which NBC can’t block. Only 17% and 4% of the views took place on and

The data comes from Solutions Research Group in AdAge.

Many informed experts think people aren’t turning to Hulu – the first place I went -- because they don’t know about it. SRG does report that SNL’s recent online success has improved awareness for Hulu, boosting it to 25% of American Internet users, up from 15% in July. Meanwhile, people going to YouTube are only seeing clips of the skit instead of the whole thing because that’s the only video portal they are aware of.

In past posts, Ms. Albiniak has said “it’s silly for NBC to block YouTube from airing these NBC-branded videos because all exposure is good exposure.” Now she wants to change and say something that might be considered Internet fascism by some: “perhaps it is better to keep these popular videos off YouTube, thus forcing people to discover Hulu. It’s taking a while, but it won’t be long before Hulu is the first place they check. What’s more, once they get there I am sure they’ll go back because there’s so much content on the site and it’s so well organized.”

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Consumers’ over-confidence in their knowledge: Implications for brand management

At the Asia Brand Congress 2008, I shared the platform with Kishore Gopalakrishna Pillai, a lecturer in marketing at the Leeds University Business School, UK.

Here is a summary of his talk on consumers’ over-confidence.

In his presentation, Professor Pillai examines the issue of consumers’ confidence in their knowledge. It poses two simple questions –
(a) Do consumers know what they think they know?
(b) So what?

Consumer knowledge is defined as the body of facts and principles relevant to the product. It has several facets such as product class knowledge, price knowledge etc. Confidence in knowledge is defined as the consumer’s estimation of the likelihood that he or she has accurate knowledge.

Several research studies have shown that people are overconfident.
• When confidence exceeds accuracy
• A pervasive phenomenon
• A stylized fact of human cognition
• Knowledge calibration (correspondence between accuracy and confidence)

The phenomenon of overconfidence has been recorded across a wide variety of contexts. Quite possibly, it applies to the consumer domain as well.

Among the factors that lead to overconfidence in knowledge are:
• cognitive biases
• feeling of knowing
• memory lapses, and
• excessive pride

In turn, overconfidence in knowledge leads to inadequate information search and, consequently, suboptimal decision making. This can have consequences to the company or brand as it leads to low satisfaction, regret and negative word of mouth.

Based on extant research, Professor Pillai’s presentation offered some methods – such as promoting involvement and providing feedback – to manage the issue of overconfidence in knowledge. The selection of methods depends on product category.

Monday, October 06, 2008

“Seeking to sell? Alliterate like hell.”

Alliteration and rhyme are two amazing mnemonic devices. And now comes new evidence of just how powerful they can be.

(I’ve taken a lot creative flak over the years because some thoughts my headlines or taglines were too cute or “sing-song.” It’s reassuring to see some support for their effectiveness.)

In her column “Copywriting lessons from ‘Beowulf’ and Mother Goose” (Advertising Age, Lenore Skenazy reports on studies of how the mind retrieves words and ideas.

Here are some of the alliterative and rhyming copy she refers to:

Dunkin’ Donuts
Tony the Tiger
Hamburger Helper
Krispy Kreme
Jamba Juice
It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.
Don’t dream it, drive it.

If you remember more such names and phrases, submit them in the comment section.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Inspiration in the IKEA catalog

It’s great to return after a long trip to India. And, of course, there are lots of catalogs waiting in the mail for us. But here’s some copy from the IKEA catalog that actually spoke to me:

· Home is the most important place in the world.

· A great life isn’t about great huge things; it’s about small things that make a big difference.

· Be brave not beige.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What are the C.O.R.E. things to strengthen our working relationship with brand managers?

I recently replied to a question from Natalie Bourre who asked, “What top 3 things would strengthen your working relationship with medical product managers?”

Natalie is a consultant and trainer at Marketing 4 Health Inc. in Toronto, Canada. Her company provides strategic and tactical marketing expertise and training to pharmaceutical/medical clients.

She said, “I am building a website to help train new pharma / medical product managers. With your input, I will include information about working with marketing agencies. What do product managers need to know to have a strong working relationship with a marketing agency?”

Here is my answer to her:

I have benefited from a great working experience with some terrific brand managers in my career. And a few things really set these folks apart as examples of what other product managers could learn from. We also have a great client now who has formalized a review process to help guide and document the strength of our relationship.

I would apply an tool to answer your question – these are the C.O.R.E. things a brand manager should know and do:

C = Concentrated Focus
Agree on how to build Brand Value
Align on short vs. long term objectives
Set clear and consistent priorities

O = Openness
Be receptive to our point of view
Exhibit a good attitude to risk
Support creative ideas up the line
Keep the power of “no” at the right level
Establish a clear decision-making agent for the brand
Provide clear feedback on ideas turned down
Maintain transparency in the approval process
Ensure that senior management is accessible

R = Respect
Treat us like partners
Use our time and resources well
Share relevant business information regularly
Set reasonable expectation for the budget
Keep “need it yesterday” to a minimum with reasonable lead-times
Acknowledge our good work
Pay us on time

This will result in:
E = Energy
Speed the turnaround on decisions
Encourage and inspire original ideas
Visit the agency often to know the full team
Maintain a positive attitude even when things go wrong
Celebrate together when we win

We know these attributes are being achieved when our top talent asks to work with a certain brand team – and when a brand team asks to specifically works with us.

I’ve just published a new business book entitled FORWARD.FAST.: THE 6-STEP MODEL TO ACCELERATE YOUR HEALTH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BRAND. You can read about it, and even download a free preview chapter, at

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Impromptu visit to Vienna zentrum

We had almost a five-hour layover in Vienna on the way home from Mumbai. So we decided to take a taxi into the center city for a quick walking tour and breakfast.

St. Stephan's Cathedral was an amazing place.

And overall the architecture, the streets, and the traffic (!) was a sharp contrast from where we'd been for the past week.