EpicMix – Vail Ski Resort’s impressive use of social media

I absolutely love what Vail is doing with social media. I have already heard co-workers say they are going this winter just to experience it.

Check it out here…EpicMix

Take Chances

I sat in on an online presentation, or webinar if you prefer, that was titled Be a Non-traditional Marketer -Smart Ways to Brand Build and Boost Sales. At the onset, they asked the audience the following question and gave them three answers to choose from.

How would you best describe your marketing efforts.

1. Traditional

2. Mix of traditional and non-traditional

3. Avant-garde

First off, the question is way too vague. What is traditional to me may be avant-gaurd to you. Or vice-versa. So the results to this question mean very little. But the question did get me thinking. What answer should a good marketing department give to this question? Avant-garde sounds cool. I surely want to be viewed that way. But my feeling is that #2 is the only good answer and here is why.

“Traditional” is defined as a specific practice of long standing. And its of long standing for a reason. It works to a certain degree. So in most instances, traditional marketing should be the foundation of any marketing program. Things like proper messaging, pricing, determining your target audience, defining your competitive advantage, etc are all still very important.  But if you stop there you’re as good as dead. You need to take chances when it comes to marketing. You need to go beyond traditional.

This is one of my most recent favorites of a company that took a chance and went beyond traditional marketing. Its a “Case Study” done by Heineken. Be sure to watch through to the end to see the results of this marketing effort. It was amazing.

Heineken Case Study – Champions League Match vs Classical Concert

So what chances are you taking to set your company apart?

Proper messaging

One of the challenges that I am constantly faced with in my job is proper messaging. There seems to always be some internal discussion around what is the proper message for what we are trying to accomplish. And without failure, there always seems to be at least one person that is viewing things from the inside out instead of the outside in.

Inside out means we are saying what WE want them to hear. Outside in means we are saying what THEY want to hear. Big difference.

And many times I have colleagues who think what WE want them to hear is the same thing as what THEY want to hear. Sometimes true, but not usually. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Its easy to do.

It’s so important to take the time to make sure your messaging is correct. Once they are paying attention, you can always tell them what you want them to hear later.

Sorry, I can’t do that

One of the most difficult things to deal with in any company are the people that are happier saying “We can’t do that” than “Let’s see if we can figure out a way to do that.” We’ve all worked with them. They almost seem relieved when they can say “We can’t do that.” It means they’re safe. Their world won’t change.

The best case scenario with these types of people is that they are a drag on creativity and innovation, worst case is they are a barrier to it.

Their attitude comes from fear and insecurity. People like this are afraid that if things change they will not be able to survive. They feel their existence is secured when they say “We can’t do that.” The same goes for external people that tell you that you can’t do something.

Every idea comes with its hurdles. Some ideas have lower hurdles. The really good ideas usually have very high hurdles. Its knowing how to navigate these hurdles that is key. And with the “I can’t do that” crowd, the main hurdle is fear. That fear is sometimes presented in a way that is veiled as confidence. Learning to recognize this and figuring out how to navigate past these types of people is not easy. But for those that can do it, success happens more often than not.

How to create a tag line

My company is in the process of updating some of our marketing pieces which includes the website, tag line, business cards, etc. I really enjoy the processes used for creating each of these but want to focus on the tag line for this post.

Here is the process I like to use.

1. Come up with a handful of questions that can generate single word answers. Here are the question we are using.

What does (company name) do?
What do we provide?
What do our clients value most?
What are our clients trying to get rid of?
What do our clients wish for the most?
What do you do in your job?
Why do you do what you do?
What is (industry)?
What expectations do our clients have of us?
What qualities characterize our clients?
What do you believe (company name) should be known for?

2. Create small groups of diverse employees. Somewhere between 5 and 10 people per group works well. If you are just starting out or on your own, you can organize some friends over drinks and have some good success. The exercise only takes about 20 minutes.

3. One group at a time, place everyone near a wall with a post-it pad and a pen or pencil.

4. Read the first question out loud and instruct the team to write down as many one word answers as they can think of and stick them to the wall. One answer per post-it.

5. Instruct the team members to say the word out loud as they stick them to the wall. This really gets the juices of the other team members flowing. It is extremely important that they write down everything that comes to mind no mater how random it seems. The idea is to trigger a fast, reactionary type environment.

6. Allow around 1 minute for each question. Be sure to collect the post-its after each question and set them aside. Group the post-its by question so you can go back and reference them. Continue the process until you have gone through all the questions.

7. Now the fun starts. And you can do this on your own or include some of the previous participants. Start combining words. Try two, three or four at a time. Combine them in ways that make sense and ways that don’t make sense. Even add new words. You should be able to come up with a good number of options for tag lines.

From this point its just a matter of narrowing down to something you like. But remember, it needs to be unique, memorable, descriptive, short and to the point.

Your tag line is often the first impression. And you know what they say about first impression. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

The Medici Effect and Soft Eyes

I was watching The Celestine Prophecy on Friday night (yes, they made a movie) when I realized the powerful connection between a previous post of mine on The Medici Effect and a post I had read a few months ago on The Nametag Guy’s blog called Soften Your Eyes. And for those of you that are familiar the the story of The Celestine Prophecy the irony is not lost on me.

Anyhow, The Medici Effect is basically the premise that true creativity can be found through the cross-fertilization of ideas from different, and unrelated fields. The Nametag Guy’s post talks about how softening your eyes as you wonder through your daily activities can help you see things that others may miss. You can see the connection. But its not easy to do…at least for me. And from what I’ve seen, many of my friends.

We get so caught up in rushing here and rushing there, all the while thinking about what we need to get done or what we wish we would have done. Its normal. But I would recommend that you allow yourself moments throughout you day to slow down and soften your eyes to your surroundings. Let’s give it a try. I’ve got some football highlights on the TV.

– the helmets they wear look so simple but serve a very important function.

– how much time and research has gone into making a truly effective helmet?

– this is true for all the padding and equipment a football player uses.

– how many man hours have gone into developing this equipment?

– sometimes the most important things are virtually unnoticed by fans (clients).

– what is important to my business that goes unnoticed?

– how can I notice it?

– how can I make my clients notice it?

No real break throughs here but 90 seconds of “softening” my eyes has brought up a subject that I can talk to my colleagues about. Something exciting may come from that conversation. The key is to get the wheels turning. Do this often enough and great ideas will emerge.

Smoothspan also elaborates on The Medici Effect in this blog post.

Oh, and one other piece of advice, steer clear of The Celestine Prophecy movie.

The Medici Effect

The Medici Effect is a popular book that takes an interesting look at creativity and how to … well … create it.  The process described in the book is named after the Medici family whom some credit with igniting the Renaissance in Italy.

The basic premise is that true creativity can be found through the cross-fertilization of ideas from different, and unrelated fields. One example given is the passion for collectibles crossed with the deep rooted history of playing cards. The result was Magic, The Gathering. Another example might be America’s love of television mixed with a love of devices that add convenience to our lives. From this we got TiVo.

To put it simply, it means to always keep your eyes, ears and mind open. Absolutely do not look within your industry if you are looking to innovate. The best ideas are often outside of your industry. The connection simply needs to be made.  Innovation has nothing to do with simply tweaking an idea that your competitor has already done and everything to do with making a connection that no one else has made.