Wednesday, December 31, 2008

GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY: excerpt from The Big Moo, by Seth Godin

Shaun Considine rescued the greatest song in the history of rock and roll—from the trash.

In 1965, the VP of sales and marketing at Columbia Records took a look at Bob Dylan’s new song, “Like a Rolling Stone.” He didn’t listen to it—he just looked at it and decided it was way too long to be released as a single. It would never get radio airplay and wouldn’t sell, he said. Dylan refused to compromise the length. So, astonishingly, the master (one second short of six minutes in length) was thrown into the trash.

Shaun was working at Columbia at the time, as the coordinator of new releases. Shaun found the record — a studio-cut acetate — wrapped it up, took it home, and listened to it over the weekend.

As it happened, Shaun was part owner of a hot New York City club at the time, called Arthur, on East Fifty-fourth Street. This club was so hot that Dylan himself had been turned away (he showed up in “wine-stained, beer-splattered Army-Navy store couture”).

Shaun slipped his copy of the song to the DJ, and the place went nuts, including two influential people who happened to be in the audience—a DJ from WABC and a programmer from WMCA, two of the most important stations in New York.

The two radio guys rang up Columbia and demanded copies of the song. Columbia complied — they even shipped it in red plastic to flag it as a hot record. Despite the conservative fears of the marketing department, the record was a hit.

If it weren’t for Shaun, Rolling Stone magazine would never even have heard the song, and certainly wouldn’t have chosen it as the number-one rock-and-roll song of all time.

Maybe you don’t own a rock club. Maybe you don’t know Bob Dylan. But you’ve still got as much power as Shaun Considine.

What’s in the trash that needs to see the light of day, needs to be run by a customer, or tried out on a playground?

(Listen to the song “Like A Rolling Stone” in a whole new light…click here)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Developing an event measurement dashboard at Nortel

“Ahhh, the poetry of metrics,” said Ken Pierannunzi began his presentation, declaring that ROI is quickly going from a need-to-have to a have-to-have. That means marketers need to institute tight measurement protocol immediately.

Ken is the director of global events strategy and measurement at Nortel. At the Experiential Marketing Summit a team from StinsonGEM attended, he offered the latest insights on creating an event measurement dashboard. Plus, he provided specific intelligence into what other marketers can do to produce robust ROI system.

On the surface, defining event metrics seems easy. Metrics can answer the basic questions of “Did we meet the objectives?” and “Did we change perceptions?”

But even greater value can be created when metrics are used short-term to plan future events and longer-term to develop professional competencies for event marketers.

To be most effective, Ken says results and reporting to the brand teams must be quick – at best real time but at least within 24 hours of the event. The report should include photos and narrative along with the numbers.

Here’s a look at the metrics that used to be considered good enough, contrasted with the new standards in an event measurement dashboard:

-Company execs were happy
-Attendees said it was well-received
-It came in under budget

-“return on objectives”
-# meetings with target customers
-# booth visits from A-level prospects
-# leads reporting intent to trial

The sources of event metrics can be varied, and include convention leads analysis, badge scans, in-booth surveys, post-show surveys, sales conversion analysis, field lead tracking, press coverage, customer meetings, and sales meetings.

Ken offered the tip to standardize survey results to make them simpler to compile and track over time. He also reminded the group that these kinds of metrics should not be considered market research, but only event effectiveness.

There are a number of ways to use the dashboard. In addition to presenting to marketing executives and the rest of the brand team, results can be applied to training the convention booth staff on event objectives – especially on how to quality leads and disengage from non-influencers.

At Stinson, we like to start with the end in mind. That means working with you to determine the metrics of an event at the beginning of the creative process.

We’ve just published a new white paper entitled "Creating a Quality Brand Experience Through Event Marketing: Case studies from the 2008 Experiential Marketing Summit and applications of key learnings for health, science, and technology brands." You can download it free at:

Monday, December 29, 2008

2 more days to judge a book by its cover

Now is your chance to vote on the best book cover design of 2008. Head over to, take a look at the covers, then scroll all the way to vote.

Among all the great cover designs are some equally intriguing titles, such as:

- Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me
- Soon I Will Be Invincible
- The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
- Against Happiness
- Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life.

Voting ends December 31.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

3 things a CEO can do to strengthen your company's marketing prowess

Today's troubled economy demands more marketing savvy than ever. As an executive, how can you help?

Consider these tactics suggested by John Quelch, one of the marketing experts profiled in the book, Conversations with Marketing Masters:

Set an example for other executives by visiting customers on their home turf to gain insights into their needs. You won't learn much from looking at market research data on a computer screen.

Spearhead the identification of customer-related metrics that are leading indicators of sales or profit performance. Select metrics specific to your enterprise's strategy, not just the usual "customer satisfaction" (a lagging indicator). Then benchmark your firm's scores against direct competitors and outstanding organizations in other industries.

Help develop marketing talent throughout your organization; for instance, by infusing customer-centricity and marketing-strategy capability into the workforce over the long term.

John Quelch has been a professor at Harvard Business School since 1979, and is known worldwide for his research on global marketing, global branding and marketing communications. John is a non-executive director of WPP Group plc, the world’s second largest marketing services company, and of Pepsi Bottling Group. He served previously as a director of Reebok International.

His comments were posted on the Harvard Business blog, Marketing Know-How.

Friday, December 26, 2008

5-part formula Microsoft is using to rewrite the rules of event marketing

Quite possibly the world's largest spender on event marketing, Microsoft is becoming a marketing juggernaut by transforming its event and trade show portfolio into a turbocharged, experiential machine.

Local, regional, national and global events are being mixed and matched into super-relevant engagement platforms. The fusion of event delivery and digital technology has never been more urgent. And live marketing is being measured more than ever before, showing Microsoft what's working and why.

Jeff Singsaas is general manager of event marketing at Microsoft. We from Stinson Brand Innovation recently attended a meeting with Jeff, and he offered a taste of where the event industry is headed, from the redeployment of dollars to portfolio analysis to measurement and professional development.

Jeff imparted this 5-part formula for winning events:
1. A stable team of really good business people
□ To increase consistency of execution
2. Making sure everyone is clear and accountable
□ To navigate account and budget
3. Process focus
□ To remove variation and duplication
4. Clear roles & responsibilities
□ To improve communication and accountability
5. Great business acumen
o To track budgets & metrics

From his vantage point at Microsoft, Jeff sees a trend toward digital events being added to the marcom mix. This means pairing tactics from the e-world to leverage traditional media – all in the context of successful meeting promotions and management.

Some examples include:

Traditional Media
Referall cards
Print ads
Events and trade shows
Press releases
Direct mail

Digital Media
Social Networking
Streaming Videos
Banner ads
Virtual events

Given this trend, he presented four cornerstones of great marketing in this digital space:

□ a clear value proposition of what the customer wants and needs.
□ a more connected sales and marketing effort.
□ a definable business strategy with goals and objectives for the events.
□ storytelling that can make the message more compelling for customers.

Creating “the show that never ends” also means designing digital event tactics that can build anticipation, deepen the interaction, extend the experience, and magnify the impact beyond the venue.

Building anticipation means appealing to participants’ excitement and curiosity. Pre-meeting communication can provide practical information that address concerns. In this phase, one must avoid over-promising and under-delivering.

Deepening the impact means creating more relevant and meaningful interactions with customers. Planners should use technology as a means to this exchange, not simply having some gadgets in the meeting.

Extending the experience after the meeting can be accomplished in many ways using CDs, custom websites, and downloadable photos.

Magnifying the impact of an event helps leverage the investment in any convention, sales meeting, or customer event. Examples are posting meeting content online, hosting a keynote presentation in a virtual space, or even broadcasting live from an exhibit booth with updates from the show. Blogging from breakout groups is another common technique.

We’ve just published a new white paper entitled "Creating a Quality Brand Experience Through Event Marketing: Case studies from the 2008 Experiential Marketing Summit and applications of key learnings for health, science, and technology brands." You can download it free at

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

5 reasons Hulu is missing TV III branding

Back on Wednesday, October 8, I posted a blog on Hulu and its need for a brand strategy.

I quoted Paige Albiniak from the journal of Broadcasting & Cable, who said “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.”

I received an email back from Will Prestes in the UK, who is focusing on TV strategy and management of channel and program brands, with special interest in the roles of aggregation, scheduling and promotion of television content.

Will replied:

“I believe it is total nonsense. This sit-and-wait strategy seems to be the complete opposite of what's expected in TV III Branding. Hulu surely needs some more branding, as Albiniak states in the headline of her article, but the user preference of YouTube over Hulu goes way beyond that."

From my point of view I could say that:

1. The whole brand synergy between content and catch up channel is very confusing for the "viewer". SNL airs on NBC, who shows clips at, but who also has the show for catch up on It is a 3-degree brand relationship that the average user is not acquainted with. Mostly because Hulu's brand is not widely known yet.

2. NBC has to do a hell lot of cross-promotion to teach the viewer the path to Hulu. It seems to me that NBC and NewsCorp put all their bets on the program's brand, completely erasing channel brands from Hulu. The viewer who lands on is not welcomed by familiar brands such as NBC or Fox. The user can only rely of familiar show brands, and sometimes, their favourite shows are not even being displayed on the homepage at the moment. So this network brand neutrality looks rather cold for a user who has no affinity with Hulu's brand yet. Next year, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 will release Kangaroo's online VOD service here in Britain. I'm curious to see how they'll deal with multiple network brands in the same service.

3. I've just ran a Google search on and the first result points to The sponsored link on the side points to It speaks for itself. Hulu needs better SEO. And when you can't find it, you just go to YouTube, because it is the most trusted brand. And by the way, YouTube has just passed Yahoo as the second most popular Search Engine. [reference -]

4. Don't even get me started on Hulu's interface. It is definitely not oriented for sharing. On YouTube, you don't need an extra click to copy the video's URL and send to friends. You can read users' comments right below the video. You can get related videos straight away: the Sarah Palin SNL sketch on the News, users' video replies, and so on (I've been even Rick Rolled trying to see the sketch on YouTube). YouTube is just a better media consumption experience, far ahead from Hulu.

5. Hulu has just official content. In YouTube, people serve as filters. The rating of a particular video is in your face. And their opinions and related videos take you down the long tail, giving you an extended experience that Hulu can never give you.

“So Mark, answering your question, I'd dare to say that keeping videos off YouTube and just waiting for people to magically go to Hulu is not the best strategy. Hulu is good for people like you, who know Hulu's brand and had the relationship with NBC and SNL in your head. That is why you went first to Hulu.

“I hope I answered your question, and If not, hopefully I raised more doubts. Thanks for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts.”

Will Prestes posts his thoughts on media strategy trends in the digital era at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

8-balls in an N-of-8®? Why involve troublemakers in your big project.

Involving others in your projects and initiatives counts among the central tasks of a manager. Of course, you'll need the usual suspects: people who care about and will be affected by an initiative, who have relevant knowledge and expertise, and whose authority the work touches.

But also include troublemakers -- people with diverse points of view, those who are resisters or detractors, says change consultant Richard H. Axelrod, coauthor of You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: How to Involve Others to Get Things Done.

You'll devise more innovative solutions. And it's better to have troublemakers using their energy inside the initiative instead of stirring up angst about it from the outside.
Besides, when troublemakers see their concerns taken seriously, they may turn into instrumental team members.

Monday, December 22, 2008

1 day to celebrate and appreciate our successes

With the year coming to a close, it's time to acknowledge and appreciate ourselves for everything we've accomplished throughout the year. So, as part of our 12 Days celebration at our company, we had one day dedicated of "Celebrating Our Successes".

Everyone posted photos or writings of something they were proud of this year. It's a cool display of personal and professional pride. Here's a look at the display and some shots from our holiday celebration:

I thought I'd share some additional thoughts on an Acknowledge and Appreciate Yourself Checklist sent to me by Jack Canfield.


How many times have you succeed in the past month? Are you able to recall your successes as well as your failures and missteps?

Many people under-appreciate the little things they accomplish every day. And yet they can recall in detail all the times they have failed or made mistakes. That's because the brain remembers events more easily when the are accompanied by strong emotions.

You might recall graduation, losing 10 pounds, winning an award, or landing a highly sought after position. But do you include in your successes how you had a really great talk with your spouse, how you spent quality time with your teen, how you got all your list of things done for the day, how you learned to change your own oil, or got your fussy child to take a nap?

If you don't acknowledge your successes the same way you acknowledge your mistakes, you're sure to have a memory full of blunders.

Acknowledge your own success. Toot your own horn and don't wait for anyone else to praise you!

If you only remember the mistakes and failures, you won't be as ready to take risks that will lead to your successes. Build yourself-esteem by recalling ALL the ways you have succeeded and your brain will be filled with images of you making you achievements happen again and again.

Take time to write your achievements down. Start when you were very young and think of all your achievements since then. Don't just pick the big things, write down all the things you take for granted. You can also create a log of success everyday and review it when you are faced with a new challenge. By writing it all down everyday, you're securing it in your long-term memory and it will become a part of what makes you tick.

Surround yourself with reminders of your success.

Put up pictures, articles, trophies, awards and other pieces that ring your attention to you success. Make your environment speak to you about your achievements. Be proud of them!

People like to be around those who have a healthy self-esteem and who are achieving their Goals. Commit to acknowledging your achievements and you brain will begin to tell you the truth... that you can do ANYTHING!

Taking just 30 minutes to complete this activity will become your positive springboard into 2009 for even more successes.


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:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

1 way you can support the Chicago 2016 Olympic effort

Show off your creativity. Spotlight your talent. Share you ideas. And support the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid.

Submit a video on “why Chicago.”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

3 things a Brand Leader can do in a downturn: hard times call for collective wisdom

These are hard times. At some companies, executives are responding by centralizing authority. Small teams of top leaders are closeting away in secret retreats to review options. Meetings that would bring the troops together are being canceled.

These actions are understandable -- we all want to "grab the ball" during tough times. But they're dangerously wrong, says Tamara J. Erickson, a McKinsey Award-winning author and popular and engaging storyteller.

She reports that research shows groups make better decisions than individuals. So during economic downturns, instead of trying to tighten control and hunker down, tap into your organization's collective wisdom.

Ms. Erickson posted her compelling views on Harvard Business Review’s website, based on extensive research on changing demographics and employee values and, most recently, on how successful organizations work. She has co-authored four HBR articles and the book Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent. She is with nGenera.

During a downturn, a leader's role is to do 3 things:

1. Ask great questions. Challenge the organization to meet goals that are intriguing, complex and important. Don't narrow the focus to the mundane or over-specify the way teams should approach their challenges. Articulate a compelling intent -- something that, in the language of complexity theory, will serve as a "strange attractor."

2. Build relationships and trust deep in the organization. Don't cut out meetings, intensify the competition among internal teams, or reduce investments in learning. Increase your firm's "collaborative capacity" by building relationships and encouraging knowledge exchange. (For more, see the November 2007 HBR article "Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams").

3. Challenge the status quo. Insure that your team has regular ongoing exposure to disruptive insights through diversity and external forays. Don't cut travel or fall back on the old "tried and true" team. Bring in new people and new ideas - and take them seriously. Get outside your business sphere. Encourage brainstorming and the use of scenario analysis. Don't cut training - invest in your people.

One strategy is to resist the urge to cut out meetings. Instead, use them to encourage knowledge exchange and to build the strong relationships needed to weather crises.

In other words, don't grab the ball: Pass it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

6 Fundamentals of Branding in the Digital Age: ForwardFast applied

I recently answered a question on “Branding Fundamentals in the Digital Age” from Adite Banerjie, a business writer and research analyst.

Adite asked, “Have branding/marketing fundamentals changed in the age of Facebook and Linkedin? Are the 4Ps still relevant? How have they evolved? If not, why not?”

Adite has expertise in the areas of research, analysis, report writing, and content development. She works with a team of independent professionals including quantitative and qualitative researchers, graphic designers, and printing professionals. Adite’s specialities are in the area of business writing and analysis: compiling and analyzing data and preparation of reports on economic issues, industry sectors, consumer behavior, social development and media in India and the South Asian region.

I replied to her:

In my experience, there remain some basics for brand management – in order to build a more sustainable market position and greater market penetration through stronger demand -- whether it be traditional or digital.

I recently presented at the Asia Brand Congress in Mumbai, where many of these issues were discussed (and debated).

First, consider the opportunities for managing brands in a digital marketplace:
- rediscover the potential of underpromoted brands
- reinvigorate and grow products
- rethink in-licensed products
- retool for new indications/uses
- reorganize product marketing resources
- reconsider approach to new channels

Many practices may be the same, but obviously you can imagine new directions. So, one must reanalyze what works and what must be improved.

One method we use is the “ForwardFast®” branding model. You look at six main areas of the brand to determine adjustments:

1. Likeability – what elements of the product and branding are attracting customers? and how are they translated or adapted to digital marketing?

2. Logo – is the name, symbol, font, design appealing – and can it be sustained in an online environment?

3. Quality Offering – are the main attributes of the brand simple and easy to understand? if you think it's hard to get your message in a 30-second commercial, try a 13-word Google ad.

4. Associations – what is the brand connected with, and if it’s right, could it be strengthened?

5. Attitude – consider how the tone of the package design, campaign copy, and delivery system is communicated in virtual worlds.

6. Quality Experience – this is the newest and strongest area that many marketers are learning needs attention; does the experience of buying, using, and servicing the product match your brand – and can it be elevated for your advantage in digital marketing?

Finally, your reference to the 4P's reminds us to look at more Ps:
- Place (distribution)
- Price (sales, discounts, contracts, incentives)
- Promotion (unique channels)
- Packaging (novel, convenient, green)
- Put-ups (sizes, kits, bundles)
- Personal support (services offerings)
- Professional development (education, training, certification)

I’ve just published a new business book entitled "FORWARDFAST: 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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

3 trends in pharma branding I see in my crystal ball

Here’s a list of the top three trends I think will impact the industry in the next year to five years.

1. Branding goes mobile: Smart phones, electronic prescribing and medical records, and CME on-demand deliver highly personalized and relevant information when and where the healthcare professional needs it.

2. Patient-generated content grows: Social networks move beyond friends and entertainment of today (MySpace, Facebook, Eons, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.). Formal and informal patient group sites challenge “controlled” pharma information as users create, post, widget, tweet, download, and rate whatever they want.

3. The brand is the experience and marketing is a service: The rep was once the only “face” of the brand. Now, online initiatives, patient events, and trial programs are more appreciated. They become the start of customer conversations. And those marketers who best support their customers, providing value at every touchpoint, are the most successful.

These will be included in the Year in Preview issue of PharmaVoice magazine.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

10 favorite songs of Kate DiCamillo, author of “The Tale of Despereaux”

Children’s novelist Kate DiCamillo wrote “The Tale of Despereaux,” about a daring mouse, while listening to Bach. She likes Lucinda Williams and Bruce Springsteen, too. “What ties them together is honest emotion,” she told WSJ magazine.

Here are Kate’s 10 favorites:

1. Cantata BWV 82, J.S. Bach — Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
2. Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1, J.S. Bach — Yo-Yo Ma
3. Badlands –Bruce Springsteen
4. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road — Lucinda Williams
5. Chin Up, Cheer Up — Ryan Adams
6. Enlightenment — Van Morrison
7. No Regrets — Edith Piaf
8. Son of a Preacher Man — Dusty Springfield
9. Sweet Old World — Lucinda Williams
10. Warm and Tender Love — Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell

The animated “Despereaux” hits theaters Friday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

1 degree that can power a lamp for 5,000 hours

During my Fox Business channel interview last week, I referenced the Chevron campaign plugging the benefits of energy efficiency and conservation. The new "I Will" campaign aims to encourage people to use energy more wisely.

"Energy efficiency is the cheapest and most reliable source of new energy that we have," according to Chevron. "With demand for energy continuing to rise across the United States and around the world, it’s imperative that we use the resources we already have more efficiently."

In addition to TV and print ads, Chevron is also re-launching its campaign website, which provides several interactive tools that demonstrate how simple individual actions can yield measurable energy savings. For example, the site's Energy Generator demonstrates how lowering the thermostat in an average U.S. residence by one degree over the winter can save enough energy to power a reading lamp for 5,000 hours.

Learn more about it at

Monday, December 15, 2008

7 holiday stress-busting secrets from Santa himself

It's the most wonderful time of the year...or so they say.

While the end-of-year holidays are supposed to be a time of peace, love, and joy, it often turns out to be a time of stress, depression, and worry -- especially as people struggle to create some "holiday magic" for their friends and families.

Santa Claus, a leading authority on Christmas and the holidays, wants you to know that the holidays don't HAVE to be frustrating and frantic. My self-growth colleague, Jim Allen, obtained these and got Santa's permission to share with you his 7 favorite stress-busting secrets -- the very techniques he uses -- to help you relax and enjoy the true spirit of the season.


So, laying my finger aside of my nose, here goes...

1. Make a List and Check It Twice

That's right, it's not just a line from a song... Santa actually sits down each and every day and makes a list of the things he needs to accomplish. The list helps him focus and keeps him from standing around his North Pole workshop trying to figure out what's next.

Put the two or three most important things at the top of the list -- the things that you absolutely MUST accomplish in a given day -- and the less important ones at the bottom. Then do ONE THING at a time BEFORE you move on to the next one.

2. Put the Elves to Work

Ever see Santa at the mall? If so, you probably saw he had a handful of helpers on hand to help him round up the kids, keep them in line (literally and figuratively), and keep things going. Without those helpers, Santa could never do as much as he does in such a short time.

So put your elves and helpers to work. Don't be shy: tell 'em what you need help with, then stand back and let them go!

Not only is it a great way to get a lot of things done quickly, but also it's a great way to share time with each other.

3. Say No

Sure, Santa specializes in making lots of Christmas wishes come true, but not all of them. (If he didn't say "no," every 10-year old boy would find a motorbike beneath his Christmas tree, and every 10-year old girl would find a pony.)

Not even Santa can do everything. And if Santa can't, you can't either.

So say "no" to those holiday parties that stress your schedule. Say "no" to baking another three-dozen cookies. And, say "no" to Aunt Sallie's fruitcake.

4. Stop for Milk and Cookies

Traveling around the world in one single night, delivering toys to all the girls and boys, is a lot of work. A lot of work. But even then, Santa finds a little time for himself.

It's truly wonderful to do things for other people, but in order to do that, you have to take care of yourself.

Santa eats milk and cookies, and writes an occasional note, and sometimes (yes, I couldn't believe it, either) peeks inside your medicine cabinet.

So find some "fun" time for yourself and put it to good use.

5. Settle for Less

Santa learned a long time ago that it is just not possible to be "perfect" 100% of the time. As much as he tries, the occasional screw-ups happen... like when he knocks over the flowers while climbing in through the apartment window, or when he forgets to tighten bolt "D" and Johnnie's handlebars fall off as he takes his first bike ride down the hill.

So Santa just does the best he can, and if it's not perfect, so be it.

Or, as Santa likes to say, "Imperfect IS perfect!"

6. Do Something New

Rather than doing the same things year after year, Santa likes to mix things up and try new ideas and new approaches.

Not only does it keep things fun, but it helps him develop new traditions -- like that time he asked a young, awkward, red-nosed reindeer to guide his sleigh one foggy Christmas Eve.

7. Be of Good Cheer

Everyone knows that Santa is a right jolly old elf, but do you know why? It's because he CHOOSES to focus on the good things that take place in the holiday season.

So slow down, breathe deeply, listen to the carols and the sleigh bells, watch the glistening snowfall, laugh with the children playing, and let the spirit of the season lift you up.

Let Santa's stress-busting secrets calm you down so you can enjoy the yuletide season even more. With best wishes for a happy holiday season... and a very merry New Year!


The author of these tips is Jim Allen, The Big Life Guy™, a professional success coach working with clients from around the world since 1999. For more ideas, visit his website at

Friday, December 12, 2008

3 points from my interview on Fox Business “Money for Breakfast”

If you missed it I am posting the interview I did yesterday for the Fox Business Channel’s “Money for Breakfast” segment.

Some key points from my interview:

1. It's important not abandon your brand in this economy. Those companies who keep spending money on their brand will survive.

2. To get results remember to stay customer focused. Think about what the customer wants to hear and you will be more successful in the long run.

3. Make quality improvements to core products, invest in R&D, and attribute an experience with your product.

Overall, don’t hit the “stop” button. Instead find the opportunity to go forward…fast.

Watch the full interview by clicking below.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

6 questions to imagine new directions for pharma brands in the digital marketplace

As we look ahead to 2009, emerging tools and media are changing how marketing messages are delivered and to whom. Physicians, while still a target audience, are being joined by patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders.

So, PharmVoice asked what I saw as some best practices for marketing success in this new dynamic.

I replied using our ForwardFast® branding model:

First, consider the opportunities for managing brands in a digital marketplace: rediscover the potential of underpromoted brands, reinvigorate and grow products, rethink in-licensed products, retool for new indications, reallocate marketing resources, and reconsider new channels.

Then, you can imagine new directions, analyzing what works and asking six main questions to determine adjustments:

1. What elements of the brand are likeable? And how are they translated or adapted to digital media?

2. Can the name, logo, symbol, font, and design appeal be sustained online?

3. Are the quality attributes simple and easy to understand? (If you think it's hard to get your message in a 1-page ad or 30-second commercial, try a 13-word Google ad.)

4. What is the brand associated with, and if it’s right, could it be strengthened?

5. How is the attitude of campaign copy, delivery system, or package design communicated in virtual worlds?

6. Does the quality of the experience of buying, using, and servicing match your brand – and can it be elevated for your advantage in digital marketing?

These concepts are also reviewed in my just-published book entitled "FORWARDFAST: 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, December 10, 2008

7:45 am Live on Fox Business channel

I will be interviewed live on Fox Business channel Thursday morning at approximately 7:45am CT. I’ll be featured on the “Money for Breakfast” segment on the topic of branding in our rocky economy.

If you miss the airing, we’ll post it.

3 aspects of confidence that challenge us working globally

I was asked by PharmaVoice magazine to provide a preview of 2009 issues facing medical brand marketers.

Specifically, editor Taren Grom asked “As the life-sciences world continues to expand beyond traditional borders, all stakeholders will need to adopt processes to do business differently. What are the biggest challenges to working in a global environment?”

Here’s my reply:

The main issue is confidence.

Based on our experience with clients in the US, Europe, and Asia – as well as partner agencies in Istanbul, Turkey and Mumbai, India – we see tremendous positive growth. And because of this, the teams we work with are taking actions to take advantage of the opportunities.

Three aspects of a lack of confidence however, could limit us -- transparency, risk aversion and creative bias. Therefore, working across borders and corporate entities requires –

1. Communication and trust in setting goals,
2. Energy and guts to try new ways,
3. Openness to explore branding commonalities that still embraces cultural differences.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

4 biggest shifts in pharma SALES strategies coming in 2009

When PharmaVoice editor Taren Grom asked me, “What will be the biggest strategy shift related to sales forces in the next several years?,” my answer was guided by C.H.EM.

I replied:

Finally, the interruptive model of detailing will be dead. The only sales forces – and representatives – to survive will be ones that truly add value to the physician’s practice.

1. Reps will learn to fit into the doctor’s world, not try to disrupt it;
2. They will know how to use their real data, not distort it;
3. They will communicate meaningful information, not slick scripted pitches; and
4. They will help physicians and their staffs show patients how to get the most from therapies.

Monday, December 08, 2008

8 creative awards received for our brand strategy and creative work

I'm pleased to say that our teams at STINSON Brand Innovation were just awarded recognition for work on behalf of health, science, and technology clients.

The honors include two MarCom awards and six Davey Awards for projects ranging from direct-to-physician ads to logo design.

Specifically, the winners are:

Davey Awards:
-- eBioscience Logo Design (Gold)
-- CSL Behring, Vivaglobin Physician ad (Silver)
-- CSL Behring, Privigen Specifications Brochure (Silver)
-- CSL Behring, Privigen Journal ad (Silver)
-- eBioscience Social Event Invitation (Silver)
-- eBioscience Animation (Silver)

MarCom Awards:
-- CSL Behring, Privigen Specifications Brochure (Platinum)
-- CSL Behring, Vivaglobin, Physician ad (Gold)

It's an honor to be recognized by these two competitions. And we appreciate the chance to work with these great clients in helping them move brands

About the Davey Awards:

With over 4,000 entries from across the US and around the world, the Davey Awards honors the finest creative work from the best small firms, agencies and companies worldwide. The Davey Awards is judged and overseen by the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA), a 200+ member organization of
leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media.

About the MarCom Awards:

MarCom Awards is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The international organization consists of several thousand creative professionals. Winners were selected from over 200 categories in seven forms of media and communication efforts -- marketing, publications, marketing/promotion, public service/pro bono, creativity and electronic/interactive.

3 top trends in our crystal ball for 2009

Continuing our 2009 year in preview, here’s how Brian Cohan, our COO at Stinson Brand Innovation see things.

He was asked by PharmaVoice to name the top three trends that will impact the industry in the next year to five years. Brian says:

1. The heightened domination of technology and cost containment in the production and market research process;

2. The move toward purely “targeted” marketing; and

3. In corporate branding, increased focus on the relationship between businesses, word of mouth, core competencies and credibility, with particular emphasis on positioning and differentiation.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

3 challenges to expanding beyond traditional borders: a view from our partner in Istanbul

When I was asked by PharmaVoice magazine to provide a preview of 2009 issues facing medical brand marketers, I invited our partner in Istanbul to comment, too.

Specifically, editor Taren Grom asked “As the life-sciences world continues to expand beyond traditional borders, all stakeholders will need to adopt processes to do business differently. What are the biggest challenges to working in a global environment?”

Here’s the viewpoint of Leyla Feyzioglu, president of Rekmar Brand Innovation, Istanbul, Turkey:

There are three key challenges for all involved including:
1. Global vision: Crafting powerful marketing programs with strong messages and customer insight, which will be useful in driving brand development and growth in each of your key markets – without getting diluted by local execution.

2. Local adaptation: Executing the global brand vision to a local market without losing the essence of the brand and hitting the local objectives consistently is critical to global success.

3. Global teamwork: You cannot accomplish the above without identifying win-win processes and solutions for all stakeholders in a global project.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

3 questions raised by the “free” economy.

Yesterday’s article on “free” models stimulated three important questions:

1. When was the last time you asked your customers for help?

2. When was the last time you listened?

3. And when was the last time you produced something of value only to freely "give it away"?

Friday, December 05, 2008

4 kinds of “free” – new models that challenge the way we move brands ForwardFast

Here's a recent illustration of how the web works. Chris Anderson, author of "The Long Tail," is working on his new book in which he explores the notion of "free." Rather than hole himself up in a cabin somewhere while writing, he uses his blog to test out content, source external perspectives and even ask for a little help.

Several weeks ago, Chris put together a couple of rough visuals of his "free models" in the hopes that someone could improve upon them. A Critical Mass co-worker passed the blog post on to David Armano, knowing that he might take Chris up on the challenge to solve the problem visually.

Within minutes of David’s post being launched, Chris provided feedback on my visual, David re-posted and he linked back.

The irony is that this little exchange is not only becoming more commonplace, but it's also reflective of the fourth model Anderson outlines as the "gift economy." People will provide things of value at no cost, and it's likely that something good can happen in return -- call it karma.

This visual illustrates the four kinds of “free”:

1. Get one thing free, buy another.
2. Advertising, sponsors, and paid media.
3. Freemium: only some pay for full version.
4. Gift economy: give away for non-monetary rewards.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

5 ways mobile marketing is on the move at conventions and meetings – “Can you text me now?”

Meeting planners are grabbing onto new mobile technologies that could help reach into the purses, belt pouches, and iPhone cases are every attendee.

Here are five mobile applications I’ve seen:

1. Hotels are using mobile technology to help with guest registration.
2. Event planners use mobile phones for surveys.
3. Conventions provide updates and schedules on mobile. (During one recent meeting, 3,274 messages were delivered to 12% of total delegates.)
4. On-demand response and polling are just a txt away.
5. One convention bureau has a .mobi website just for conference attendees to promote restaurants and other tourist spots.

Send me a note with other ways you think mobile could be used.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

5 Tips for Better Virtual Meetings

We at Stinson Brand Innovation have been conducting virtual meetings for quite sometime, as we collaborate with clients and colleagues nationally and globally.

We have found that virtual meetings (mostly through Webex) have improved our productivity and communication – and yet there are still obstacles.

I found a great article entitled Five Tips for Better Virtual Meetings by Karen Boda and Rebecca Hinkle in Harvard Management Update, a newsletter from Harvard Business School. Here is what the article suggests to make virtual meetings run smoother for everyone involved.

1. Be Very Interactive
One reason virtual meetings do not flow as naturally as in-person meetings is that establishing camaraderie at a distance is difficult. Yet it can be achieved if the meeting participants make an effort to engage with their colleagues from afar.
• Greeting one another with warm hellos and small talk
• Emailing and phoning colleagues outside of meetings to get to know them
• Learn something new about your colleagues-especially if they are from other parts of the world
• Leave phones off mute for better interaction, spontaneous questions and open dialogue.

2. Use Technology to Enhance Collaboration
Technology that enhances two-way communication and active collaboration can make virtual meetings almost like being there-one team at a Fortune 100 company experienced a stunning 90% drop in decision-making time in virtual meetings after it put technology to work. Useful high-tech tools include virtual rooms for attendees, white-board functionality for note taking, voting tools for anonymous feedback, cameras so colleagues can see on another, collaborative online presentation capability, informal chat rooms for side discussions, and the ability to raise your hand virtually and ask questions.
Be Prepared:
• Explore the more effective tools for your team
• Designate a technology savvy person to test the equipment before every meeting
• Send presentations and documents to each person before in case technology fails.

3. Reserve Meetings for Two-Way Communication
Have you ever attended a meeting where all you did was listen? If one-way meetings are bad in person, they’re deadly over the phone, especially when participants are scattered across the globe and it’s the middle of the night for some.
• Important information should be emailed to each team member, not used in a virtual meeting.
• In the absence of visual cues, the best way to get true opinions and input is to call for a vote, or take an anonymous poll.

4. Level the Playing Field
It is common in virtual meetings for some employees to participate while sitting together in a conference room, while others are alone in their offices or other locations. Employees in the conference room have the benefit of side conversations with their colleagues and shared coffee breaks. The individuals not in the room may feel excluded and wonder whether their input is equally valued.
Be Fair:
• If one person is alone during a meeting, everyone should be. Have team members dial in from their own desks and offices individually.
• Alternate meeting times so everyone is inconvenienced equally.

5. Establish a No E-Mail or Instant Messaging Policy
This is obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing: just as it’s rude to have side conversation during a face-to-face meeting, it’s rude to converse on e-mail or instant messaging during virtual meetings. To encourage compliance, try what one team did: it decided that anyone who broke this rule would be assigned the next action item. This proved a highly effective deterrent!

If you have an experience, tip, or suggestion on what makes an effective virtual meeting, please post a comment. We are always looking to improve.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

4 forces of information technology that will revolutionize healthcare – including one that can benefit our client, ReachMD

The health-care industry is about to undergo a global revolution driven by a force it can no longer resist: information technology.

While hospitals and other care providers have long been quick to adopt breakthrough technology in medical devices, procedures and treatments, far less attention has focused on innovations in networking and communications.

But that’s about to change.

Dr. Amar Gupta, professor of management and technology at the University of Arizona, identified these four major ways in which IT will revolutionize health care:

1. more offshore services,
2. integration of health-information systems,
3. drug-safety monitoring on a global scale, and
4. more high-quality information to doctors and patients.

Watch a video at

The latest medical knowledge will appear on Web sites edited by eminent specialists in those fields, Dr. Gupta says.

Doctors and scientists from around the world will contribute material, and automated search tools will capture updates from, say, a trusted clinical study. The reliance on IT and editorial workers in less-expensive countries, meanwhile, will help make such endeavors more economically viable.

Such sites are likely to take shape as hybrids of information sources and tools, drawing from online textbooks, medical journals, wiki-style editing and automatic updates from various trusted data sources. While the sites will have human editors, developers are working on tools to help comb through the large number of newly published and potentially relevant articles that need to be considered each week. The goal will be not just to increase the amount of medical information at people's fingertips, but also to make it specific, up-to-date, reliable and easier to find.

Multi-platform CME and information providers, like our client ReachMD (, are already on the leading edge of these trends.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Personal reflections on the attacks in Mumbai

I wanted to share just a brief message about the seige of the past week in Mumbai, India.

On Wednesday night, I sent a message to our friends, partners, and even the Taj Hotel staff who treated us so well. I said, “We have been seeing the news of the terrible events overnight in South Mumbai. Everyone here is sending you and all our friends there our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Because Jenny and I were on that very spot at the Taj Palace just a few weeks ago, it makes the tragedy even more personal.”

I received responses like this:

“Thank you very much for your heart-felt message. There is a unique thing about the people of Mumbai - their spirit. They bounce back to normalcy very fast.”

“Its such a tragedy and such shock. We thank you for your prayers. We are praying too for the affected people and their families.”

“These are difficult times.... but Mumbai has a resilient spirit. All your good wishes will help keep that high. Thanks to you and all your friends.”

So it was in this time of soul-searching and reflection that I read these words of Suketu Mehta, a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found.

In reaction to the seige, he wrote of his hometown –

“Mumbai is a ‘soft target,’ the terrorism analysts say. Anybody can walk into the hotels, the hospitals, the train stations, and start spraying with a machine gun. Where are the metal detectors, the random bag checks? In Mumbai, it’s impossible to control the crowd. In other cities, if there’s an explosion, people run away from it. In Mumbai, people run toward it — to help. Greater Mumbai takes in a million new residents a year. This is the problem, say the nativists. The city is just too hospitable. You let them in, and they break your heart.

“But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever. Dream of making a good home for all Mumbaikars, not just the denizens of $500-a-night hotel rooms. Dream not just of Bollywood stars like Aishwarya Rai or Shah Rukh Khan, but of clean running water, humane mass transit, better toilets, a responsive government. Make a killing not in God’s name but in the stock market, and then turn up the forbidden music and dance; work hard and party harder.

“If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai, and spend money. Where else are you going to be safe? New York? London? Madrid?

“So I’m booking flights to Mumbai. I’m going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus doesn’t have to be just economic.”

I’m sure that is the spirit that has attracted so many to the city. And why I won’t stop exploring the world and its people. I already have commitments for travel to Asia in the spring, an interesting speaking opportunity in South Africa late summer, and an innovation conference in Europe next fall.

On the weekend as we were giving thanks, I know I felt even more thankful.