Saturday, March 31, 2012

12 cities for connections this week - plus 467 virtual connections from across the globe

From my home "station" of Columbus, I've traveled and connected with clients, physicians, and collaborators all over the world this week.

It's quite exciting when I look back on it:

  • Baltimore
  • Raleigh
  • St. Louis
  • Indianapolis
  • Denver
  • Chicago
  • Naperville
  • Seoul, Korea
  • Sao Paolo, Brazil
  • Rome, Italy
  • Cologne, Germany
  • Dublin, Ireland
Along with these personal connections, there were 467 visits to my blog in the last week.

Where in the world could I go next week?

Friday, March 30, 2012

27 great brands Credit Suisse believe will significantly outperform the market: the power of “Brand Investing”

Here’s an underappreciated investment thesis: great brands outperform the market.

There are few true competitive advantages in modern industry – scale, proprietary technology, monopolies, and network externalities come to mind.

The Credit Suisse brand framework believes “brand” is an equally powerful and even more sustainable advantage, but one often ignored by financial markets owing to its intangible nature.

Credit Suisse research indicates that companies focused on brand building consistently generate outsized long-term growth, profitability, and returns. An equal-weighted stock index of companies that spend at least 2% of sales on marketing outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 400 basis points annually since 1997; the top quintile of these companies outperformed the market by an amazing 17% per year.

The Credit Suisse brand filters help determine how and when to invest in brand stocks by:

  1. identifying industry- and company- specific conditions necessary for brand success;
  2. understanding the brand lifecycle and key inflection points. Using case-study analysis of dozens of brand stories from the past century, Credit Suisse found that most brands follow a similar arc with five distinct stages: emerge, hit the wall, transform and proliferate, dominate, and reinvent. While early-stage brands are exciting and offer the highest potential return, they can be risky. However, companies transforming from niche player into a powerful brand that can proliferate across new markets and categories offer investors highly attractive returns, and this is also typically the brand lifecycle stage where the largest absolute market value is created.
The Credit Suisse picks – using its framework and global network of analysts, it identified 27 Great Brands of Tomorrow at various stages of development that they believe will significantly outperform the market over the next three to five years as they build and leverage brand equity to grow in size, scale, and profitability.

Credit Suisse have created a portfolio of 24 next great brand stocks (plus three private company picks), identified by its framework and Credit Suisse analysts as stocks likely to outperform over the next three to five years as they grow in size, scale, and brand equity with consumers. Credit Suisse has created a Delta One basket that tracks an equal- weighted investment in the stocks (Ticker: CSGLBRND).

Key Ingredients for Brand Success

Using case-study analysis of dozens of brand stories from the past century, Credit Suisse developed two key filters to determine how and when to invest in brand stocks by: (1) identifying the industry- and company-specific conditions necessary for brand success; (2) understanding the brand lifecycle and key inflection points.

There are numerous paths to brand success and great brands of all shapes and sizes have leveraged a wide variety of strengths and attributes. Broadly speaking however, Credit Suisse believe there are three core sources of brand value: aspiration, innovation, and scale.

Each one of these attributes on its own can be enough to create a great brand (e.g. Four Seasons heavily relies on aspiration, while Microsoft is largely a scale-driven brand). However, the combination of these key brand strength attributes can elevate a brand’s power and longevity (e.g. Coke adeptly combines aspiration and scale, while BMW famously blends aspiration and innovation). And of course there is the rare brand that can combine all three qualities aspiration, innovation, and scale (e.g. McDonald’s, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Disney, and Nike for example). Great brand companies can leverage these core sources of strength via superb marketing, innovative new products, strong leadership, and quality end product.

Credit Suisse believe there are a handful of key attributes that all great brands must have, including:
  • brand authenticity,
  • quality product,
  • a strong core market,
  • operating in a brand-friendly industry, and
  • developing a brand-centric corporate culture.

 But there are also many other traits that a strong brand company should aspire to (though not necessarily a precondition for success) such as:
  • innovation,
  • long-term thinking,
  • effective marketing,
  • taking a scientific approach,
  • scale,
  • aspiration,
  • global reach, and
  • cross-category leveragability.
Most brands follow a similar arc with five distinct stages: emerge, hit the wall, transform/proliferate, dominate and reinvent. Investing in companies that are transforming from niche player into a powerful brand that can be proliferated across new markets and categories offers investors extremely attractive returns, and is typically the phase in the brand lifecycle that generates the largest market value creation.

Watch an interview about the report at MSN Canada.

And download a copy of the report at

Thursday, March 29, 2012

eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale

It used to be so darned easy: Do a few tradeshows, maybe publish a white paper or two and have the salespeople follow up.

But the always on, YouTube-infested, Twitter-centric world makes the B2B sale much more complex today.

Ardath Albee shows how smart business-to-business marketers learn about buyers, tell a story, and greatly influence the B2B lead-to-sale process, driving significant new business as a result. In her outstanding book, Ardath Albee outlines a step-by-step process to help any business successfully engage their online customers and prospects.

Her book eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is packed full with examples of how others have successfully attracted high value prospects using creative online marketing tactics.
  • How to differentiate yourself with “attraction marketing”
  • How to create contagious content
  • How to drive qualified leads to sales

If you manage a complex sales process, stop making excuses! eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is your guide book to attracting valuable prospects and speeding the sales cycle.

Read more, and even download 2 free chapters, at


Part I eMarketing Essentials

Chapter 1 Why eMarketing Is a Big Opportunity for Complex Sales
The Shift to Self-Education
Six Things to Change About Your Content and Communications
Offline versus Online
What You Need to Know

Chapter 2 The Mutual Rewards of eMarketing Strategies
Rewards for Your Company and You
Rewards for Them (Your Customers and Prospects)
Shaping the Story

Part II Customer Consensus

Chapter 3 Using Personas to Understand Your Customers
Customer Profiles—The Wide-Angle Lens
Why a Persona Is Different from a Profile Creating Persona


Chapter 4 Leverage Your Buyer Synopsis
Create a Buyer Synopsis
Use Social Media for Persona Development
Personalization—One Step at a Time


Chapter 5 The Buying Process
The Role of Content in the Buying Process
Apply Content to Personas

Part III Natural Nurturing

Chapter 6 Put the Natural in Nurturing
Create a Conversational Context
The Role of Rich Media
Leverage Inbound Interactions


Chapter 7 Capitalize on Cause
From Status Quo to Priority Shift
Become the Anchor
Keep Your Assumptions on Track
Create Content that Pulls Buyers Forward

Chapter 8 Construct a Framework for Content Strategy Execution
Assemble a Natural-Nurturing Track
Syndication Expands Nurturing Reach
Frequency, Reach, and Shift
HubSpot Attracts Customers at Unprecedented Rates: A Case Study


PART IV Contagious Content


Chapter 9 Why Contagious Content Increases Engagement
Relevance is King
Simplicity Trumps Volume
Contagious Content Requires Planning


Chapter 10 Content Structure for Competitive Differentiation
Education—What Buyers Need to Know
Expertise—Why Your Company Is the High-Value Choice
Evidence—Let Your Customers Do The Talking
Sales Conversation Briefs
DealerOn—Contagious Content in Execution: A Case Study


Chapter 11 Create Content to Increase Attraction Value
Urgency—Why Your Message is Important Now!
Impact—What’s in It for Them?
Effort—The Perceived Energy Required to Pay Attention
Reputation—What’s Known about Your Company
Intent—What Your Audience Thinks You Want
Examples of How Catch Factors Can Influence Behavior
An Example of Catch Factors in c-Mail Messages


Chapter 12 Design Your Marketing Story
The Significance of Stories
Stories Instigate Momentum
Design Content to Create Mindshare
Authorial Styles—Which to Use When
Quick Guide to Writing a Marketing Story Article

Chapter 13 Expand Story Impact with Amplifiers
The Nature of Amplifiers
Focus Squarely on the Customer

PART V Persistent Progression

Chapter 14 How to Facilitate Prospect Progression
Intellitactics Increases Qualified Demand: A Case Study
Tell Me More . . .
The Gift of Going Wide
Conversations Accelerate Nurturing Progression
Buyer Evolution

Chapter 15 Scoring for Prospect Progression
Points for Content-Driven Interactions
Marketo Walks Its Talk: A Case Study
E-Mail Newsletters

PART VI Meaningful Metrics

Chapter 18 Quantifying Marketing Results
Engagement Metrics
Origination Sources for Opt-In Programs
Marketing’s Impact on Sales

Chapter 19 Opportunity Quality and Sales Results
Opportunity Quality
Sales Results

Chapter 20 Feedback and Dialogue
In Tune and In Touch
Story Ideas from Third Parties
Applied Listening
Improved Personalization

Chapter 21 Social Contributions
Virtual Engagement
Participation Speaks Volumes
The Value of Social Media

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

4 questions to answer on why your customers buy somewhere else

Competitive analysis is the starting point of differentiating your product or service from all others, writes Brian Tracy in his book Now, Build a Great Business! with Mark Thompson.

Consider these four key questions:
  1. Who or what is your competition? Put another way, who else do your prospective customers buy from rather than you?
  2. What value do these customers perceive that causes them to buy from others and not from you? How can you neutralize this perceived advantage? How can you change your offerings in such a way that potential customers prefer yours over others'?
  3. Why would (or should) your ideal prospects switch to your product or service? (If you cannot answer this question in 25 words or less, your marketing strategy is probably in serious trouble.)
  4. What are your critical assumptions about your competition? Errant assumptions are at the root of most marketing failures. Could your assumptions about your competition be wrong? If they were wrong, what would you have to change or do differently?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

6 steps of an "optimization primer" -- and the connection to creativity

Your brain has the ability to hold a bunch of thoughts in its short-term, or "working,"memory. You can improve your ability to harness your working memory by exercising, getting a good night's sleep, writing things down, and listening to divergent points of view.

These things go hand in hand. For instance, if you work out, you clear your head and have more creative ideas. The physical activity tires you, so you sleep better.

So that time you invested in exercise pays huge dividends.

This advice from Margaret Moore co-author of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life.

She says work, family, and worries about the world at large keep many of us in a state of constant disorder. Here’s 6 ways she suggests to stop the chaos:

  1. Tame the frenzy
  2. Sustain Attention
  3. Mold Information
  4. Apply the Brakes
  5. Shift Sets
  6. Connect the Dots
Read more at SPIRIT Magazine

Monday, March 26, 2012

4 tips for creating a consistent transmedia content strategy

At the office, at home, and on the go, consumers are digesting and interacting with content on multiple platforms in increasing numbers. As marketers and content strategists, we need to be able to anticipate and meet their needs to engage, connect, and motivate them — whenever and wherever they need information.

At the heart of our ability to reach this goal is developing a consistent transmedia content strategy, writes Denise Zimmerman, president & chief strategy officer at Netplus, a full service digital agency.

Denise Zimmerman is a 25-year marketing veteran who has spent the past 18 years of her career focusing on the emerging digital landscape and best practice applications in marketing and communications.

She is blogging in conjunction with Content Marketing World2012 which will take place on September 4 – 6, 2012 at the Columbus, Ohio Convention Center.

It’s 2 full days dedicated to keynotes, 30 breakout sessions, and multiple tracks of programming, such as How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy and Organizing Your Marketing Department for Publishing Success.

Here’s more of what Denise has to say about content strategy:

A consistent transmedia content strategy will not only help facilitate stronger and more meaningful connections with your customers, but it can also significantly extend the value of your content and amplify its overall impact.

While the best practices for content strategy are still evolving, there are steps you can take now to implement an effective transmedia content agenda that can be updated as content marketing practices continue to take shape.

Here are a few tips to consider as you get started:

1. Establish content strategy as a practice and discipline in your organization

2. Connect your content efforts to existing brand and/or marketing goals

3. Identify, analyze, and prioritize your assets

4. Make content findable, distributable, and extendable

Make sure you build in checks and balances, set benchmarks, and be prepared to apply a number of different measurement scenarios and tests to help you gauge how well your content efforts performed. Some common measurement guidelines you can use include:
  • conversion rates
  • engagement rates
  • new customer acquisition rates
  • cost per sale calculations
  • earned impressions
  • changes in the number of “shares” your content generates

Read more from Denise on the different ways to develop a consistent, transmedia strategy at

I also write about transmedia strategy in my upcoming book, N-of-8, so if you'd like to read more, click to why-transmedia-storytelling-is-future

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The QN2A Project: Questions Into Answers for cancer patients and caregivers

Today, a dramatically different, public service online & social resource was launched for those facing cancer: The QN2A Project ("Questions Into Answers.")

With partners Stand Up 2 Cancer and Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and featuring James Denton of "Desperate Housewives" fame, the QN2A Project ( was created to offer patients and caregivers the "Big Questions" to ask their healthcare professional in order to accelerate and improve the best therapy for them. 

The web is full of answers and advice, but we believed that 
  1. in the heat of the moment, people don't know the most helpful questions to ask their healthcare professional, and
  2. everyone's journey is unique, so by offering the questions, versus the answers, they could get the personalized answers they truly need.

People can go to to get, share, and print the "Top Ten" questions for both patients and caregivers, vote on new ones, and, the most important feature-- those who have faced that moment can share the question(s) that helped them the most.

The campaign for The QN2A Project features a print ad which will run in major magazines (that, using mobius's optical recognition software, you can take a photo of and text to see a special video,) the website, mobile, social sites (facebook, twitter, google+,) banner ads, and a video with James Denton (that will be featured on "Access Hollywood"!) You can't miss it.

The goal is to make this a "Top Five" Online Resource for those dealing with cancer, so that more lives can get the best treatment possible.

To do that, we need your help. If you, or a loved one or friend, are facing cancer or have faced cancer, please share the word about (personally posting to your facebook page, tweeting, emailing, etc.), so that they can get questions from others that have helped, or leave questions to give others a potential new chance.

This campaign will continue to evolve as it grows, giving us even more chances to innovate.

With your help, it can become a crucial, life-changing, ongoing resource. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

4 tips for a productive "power lunch"

Business lunch at Heichinrou, Hong Kong
I may not be a “power lunch” guy, but I have benefitted from many a productive business coffee or lunch meeting. 

So, I appreciated the tips offered by Julian Niccolini, co-owner of the Four Seasons restaurant in New York, in a recent INC magazine article.

Niccolini has been in the restaurant business since 1977, therefore he’s certainly got great insight on how to get a prime table – and a prime business experience.

Don't reserve online.   Make and confirm your reservation with a human being. This allows you to confirm your seating preferences—you want a table where other people aren’t going to hear your conversation—and make sure the restaurant has the name of your guest, too.

Don't leave the check to chance. Whoever makes the reservation usually pays the check. When you're going to a very important meeting with a person you've never met, make sure the restaurant has your credit card number ahead of time.

Don't be late.  If you're the host, show up early to make sure you have the table you want. If not, ask to change it. Managers, hosts, and servers are there to make your visit enjoyable.

Don't be a stranger.  Make one restaurant your place. If you fly United Airlines all the time, they upgrade you. If you're a regular at a restaurant, you can expect better treatment. They will remember what you like and dislike.

Read the complete interview at

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Inspiration to avoid your own personal "Ides of March"


"If nobody shares they are struggling, nobody will know anybody else is struggling.  That results in a bunch of people feeling isolated and scared and like big, fat losers."

Inspirational viewpoint to more honest about our problems from Tara Hunt, founder and CEO of, an online shopping community. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicago skyline: up close and personal on the architectural boat tour

I’m looking forward to spring and one of my favorite inspirational rituals: the Chicago architectural boat tour.   

Even after 25 years of living in downtown Chicago – and especially now that I’ve been away for a while – I can’t wait to again gaze at the skyline in awe.

Chicago’s architectural boat tours offer a look into the birthplace of modern American architecture and the city’s architectural heritage. The tour takes you up close and personal with the skyscrapers, which give you a new perspective for all of the artistic talent, engineering, and technological marvels involved in creating such massive structures.  If you're in town, look up

To appreciate the inspiration of the architecture, think beyond the concrete jungle.

As one of my former colleagues, Greg, wrote a while back, “Such as in advertising, I try to imagine that all space is ad space. In multimedia, I venture to think beyond traditional media. In design, I aim to push beyond the boundaries of my imagination. As I kink my neck to stare up at the skyscrapers, I imagine these spaces as more than just office buildings. I think about the artist behind every skyscraper trying to carve out a city and sculpt a structure that extends thousands of feet into the sky.”

He shared these photos from one of his tours.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"annoying": you mean there's science behind what is bugging me?

I've certainly got a long list of things that bug me.

Some things have gone beyond pet peeves -- all the way to obsessions.

So, you'll understand why it's bugging me that I haven't had time to read this book. (I've been carrying around a clipping of a book review from an airline magazine since July 2011.  Of course, that's another obsession for another time.)

One example in the book review -- why is that guy talking on his cell phone over there so annoying? For one, it’s unpleasant and distracting. Second, we don’t know, and can’t control, when it will end. Third, we can’t not listen! Our brains are hardwired to pay close attention to people talking and follow the conversations. The loud chatter pulls our brains away to listen to half of something we’re never going to understand. 

In ANNOYING Palca and Lichtman can talk about annoyingness in any context: business, politics, romance, science, sports, and more.  Check out the authors' website at

Friday, March 09, 2012

3/9 - the day I was no longer an only child

Happy Birthday to my brother, Martin.

(You are way cooler in a sweater vest than that guy running for president.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Beauty brand innovation: "science at your fingertips"

“From racing cars to fabric, beauty technology comes from surprising sources,” write Claire Coleman in a recent feature in the FinancialTimes.

California-based Janice Jordan, owner of a graphics business supplying adhesive decals for racing cars, grew fed up with the damage that daily tasks inflicted on her manicure (and her nails). It occurred to her that similar technology could be used to create a solid nail coating that would both protect nails and decorate them. “It took two years of talking to engineers and looking at adhesives that, unlike existing nail glues, wouldn’t damage the nail,” she says.

The result took Jordan out of her graphics workshop and into the global beauty business (along with her co-founder Dawn Lynch Goodwin).

Frauke Neuser, a scientist for Pantene, says: “P&G has a large base in Cincinnati and frequently works with Ohio State University on projects. One of the university departments was using a technology known as Atom Force Microscopy, which allows you to observe substances at a molecular level. We wondered what would happen if we used it to examine hair in such detail.

“Ideas like this come to nothing 80 per cent of the time but, in this instance, we were able to see very real differences between different types of hair. We were also able to see what was happening at a molecular level when we applied different types of ingredients, which really made a difference to the end product.”

Read the full story by clicking to

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"TRADITION": inspiration from connections to the past


"Like the seasons, tradition is a constant.  In a world of ever changing motion, tradition offers an enduring foundation from which to begin.  Tradition frames our journey together, bridging generations, the past with the future.  Tradition is how we forge relationships, create beauty, and celebrate the art of living.  Tradition is how we move forward, together."

In this tradition, a sincere offering of gratitude, to you, for our time spent together, your valuable company, the many years behind us, and more important, the many years ahead.

(Thanks to my long-time creative friend, Pat Calcagno at Unique Active, for sharing this with me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Starbucks near L'Opera: evokes classic Paris urban architecture

Earlier this year when I traveled to Paris for business, I stopped in the Starbucks near the Opera House.   
Wow – this was surprising, and exactly the French elegance I’d hoped to see -- even in a Starbucks.

Starbucks is known as a brand of coffee house that creates a place of connection.  This amazing location definitely reflected the art and style of its neighborhood. It was renovated to evoke the classic past of the great Paris urban architecture.  The woodwork, lighting fixtures, furniture, even the bar. 

The nighttime buzz of everyone there added to cultural connection.

Monday, March 05, 2012

1,700 in-depth face-to-face interviews with Chief Marketing Officers

As a brand strategist, I get tremendous insight (and creative energy) from talking with groups of innovators.   

But of course, it’s not always possible to meet them person-to-person.  That’s why I also look for others who interview inspiring thinkers.

IBM conducted more than 1,700 in-depth face-to-face interviews with Chief Marketing Officers from companies of various sizes, across a wide range of industries and regions.

The first of its kind and size, the 2011 IBM Global CMO Study explores emerging trends impacting CMOs, revealing how they are responding to the evolving scope and needs of marketing.

  • Which forces of change are having the most impact on the CMOs role and expectations?
  • How are these shifts affecting the mix of capabilities, skills and technologies that marketing needs?
  • What measurements, data and emerging technologies are CMOs using to determine progress?
The initial results of this survey suggest CMOs are following two distinct paths:

  1. Innovators: These CMOs are in the minority. They champion a fully integrated approach to marketing that leverages cross-functional relationships and insights to engage customers, create perceived value, and generate a positive response to the brand and its proposition.
  2. Adopters: These CMOs, seemingly the majority, are not yet on the leading edge in accommodating or leveraging new dynamics in marketing strategy. While well aware of these dynamics, such as the increasingly common use of collaborative communications, they are struggling somewhat with a clear plan of execution that will deliver optimal benefits to their organization and customers
Are CMOs, besieged by the speed of change, retreating to what they know best, or reinventing themselves? And how are they positioning themselves to execute value-creating marketing strategies that pull all the levers to be effective?

Take a look at the e-publication of this inaugural IBM Global Chief Marketing Officer Study at

And read the tweet stream to see what others are saying.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

$190 million investment in Louisiana sugar industry

Last month when we “ran” the back roads from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, I was amazed at the industry built up along the Mississippi River.

In Gramercy, Louisiana, LSR (Louisiana Sugar Refining) is making the largest single investment in America’s sugar cane industry in over 40 years.

This $190 million white sugar refinery is capable of refining two billion pounds of white sugar annually for distribution to commercial and retail customers throughout the US.  According to the company, it provides direct jobs for approximately 180 area residents and annual payroll and benefits of over $15 million.

LSR is utilizing the latest innovations in both technology and human resource practices – to create a state-of-the-art refinery which brings real economic value to the community and its many stakeholders.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

5% of my blog readers now access by iPhone

A quick review of this week's blog stats reveals that 5% of readers are accessing from an iPhone.

That's an interesting development. I also recently optimize the format for better mobile readability, so perhaps that will make it even easier.

Thanks for following my inspirations.

Friday, March 02, 2012

1905 stone bridges: historic Beechwold neighborhood

Every weekend when I drive around Columbus, I get inspiration from the historic areas.

The is the Beechwold neighborhood of an area called Clintonville.

The Old Beechwold Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places.

These stone entrances and bridges are the only remaining structures of Columbus's first zoo that was built here.  Opening in May 1905, the zoo was located at Beechwold Road and N. High Street. The zoo closed only five months later in October 1905.

Now it’s called the "kissing bridge, “ on Rustic Bridge Road.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Inspiration from a past campaign success: "Open Up Fresh Possibilities"

As we get closer to spring, I'm reminded of a fresh approach we took to a marketing challenge a few years ago.

Solstice Neurosciences had acquired MYOBLOC, but the brand had not been promoted for nearly 2 years.  We needed to reconnect with customers to re-establish the channel for direct sale of this injectable biologic.

The target audience was physicians (neurologists and physiatrists) who had purchased MYOBLOC in the previous 2 year.

The campaign objectives were:
  1. Introduce Solstice as the new marketer of MYOBLOC
  2. Remind physicians of their past use of MYOBLOC
  3. Reinforce positive experience with MYOBLOC
  4. Help identify next patient opportunity to use MYOBLOC
Our creative strategy was:
  • CONNECT with unique interactive pieces, personalized messages, and “fresh” theme
  • HONEST, straight-forward reminder of product profile
  • EASY short copy and bold graphics
  • MOTIVATING to call “888” number to order
The results of the "Open Up Fresh Possibilities" campaign were impressive. Brand recall increased 29% and sales enjoyed double-digit growth quarter-over-quarter.  Even without a direct response mechanism, some 5% have requested additional materials related to the mailings. Brand preference increased from 6% to 43% among the targeted physicians in one year.

These and other elements of the "Fresh" campaign have won several industry awards -- including a feature in Rx Awards Best of Healthcare advertising book.