Archive for June, 2011

genius 2

DATE: June 30th, 2011

I wanted to do a little follow up, because there is another side to genius. RIM, Apple, Coke, Pepsi — “sexy” products — are often highlighted because, well, they’re fun to talk about. But what about non-profits who are not selling a product, but inspiring you to impact change?

Almost without exception, non-profits still are most successful at raising income by traditional methods. While social media and e-giving are on the rise, the recent postal strike reinforced the reality of the power of mail for non-profits.

So how do we apply curiosity, current events, trends and understanding change in a non-profit context?

The most frustrating thing for a creative marketer is to market creatively and fail.

But maybe we need to look at creativity from a different angle.

Teams leading the marketing for non-profits have to take off their preconceived perceptions of what they think people should do and what what they do. They need to be curious as to why people donate and volunteer — asking them. They need to market well, tracking results, watching the trends. Most of all, they need to observe the trends honestly.

In non-profit marketing, it’s critical to watch trends.

Penelope Burke has done significant research with donors. She asks donors questions like how often they want to be asked, what they are planning to give and how many times a year they give. But she doesn’t analyze trends and real time data. Donors always say they want less mail — but they don’t give more when we drop the mail. They simply give more to the organization that is mailing more. People don’t give to logical offers for charitable organizations — because, this seems a little simplistic, charity is a heart gift, not a head gift. We give because we are inspired, not convinced.

I think we always need to watch for changes.

At Barefoot we are watching the mobile and web trends very carefully, looking for the new generation of donors who are inspired on-line. We are starting to see some growth — but it’s not enough to decrease traditional tactics. We are watching to see younger donors give more — but we are still seeing the strength of the donations coming from the 50+ group. The 20-40 group is really excited about joining, attending high profile events and buying plastic wristbands, but they’re not giving regularly.

For non-profits creativity starts in identifying the offer. Too many non-profits have not defined a product and their offer to donors is to “give”. That’s like President’s Choice sending out a blank flyer that says “Buy.”

The other trend in non-profit is to provide the donor with more choice than they are able to make. While donors like to take control of their giving, they need the non-profit to help them make reasonable choices. Too many choices are confusing and the donor is prone to set it aside — which, almost always, translates to no gift.

Creativity isn’t about pictures, copy and packaging, although we always want to be creative with our content. Creativity in strategy and spreadsheets is essential in today’s competitive market.


DATE: June 29th, 2011

It’s 5:04 p.m.

I’ve written copy for a series of 6 posters and 6 space ads. Pitched a new web site. Spent some time with a client who is building a web site and has had a complete turn around in audience and purpose, posed for updated photos (shudder), phoned clients for updates, reviewed a couple of proposals and a couple of creative pieces. Add into the mix casual interruptions that just happen during the day.

Because it is a gorgeous sunny day, I did a Dairy Queen “Finally summer is here” run a bought all our staff a blizzard.

So when I looked at my little do to list, I thought…. hmmmm, I can start on one of about 15 projects that are calling for my mind or I can write a blog.

You know which won.

In the reading I’m doing I came across this quote:

Keep in mind that you cannot control your own future. Your destiny is not in your hands; it is in the hands of the irrational consumer and society. The changes in their needs, desires and demands will tell you where you must go… This means that managers must themselves feel the pulse of change on a daily, continuous basis… They should have intense curiosity, observe events, analyze trends, seek the clues of change and translate those clues into opportunities. Michael Kami

While it seems a little scary to put oneself in the hands of millions of people who bought the snuggie, we really need to understand the world in which we live. BUT we need to be able to step outside our own little world. I have a wonderful friend who’s an academic. A while back she asked if anyone in our family had a blueberry. OK, she’s not a marketer but a professor… but we live in Waterloo! (She meant Blackberry.)

Being out of touch with the customer is unconscionable.

I’ve been musing over the plight of the Playbook — Blackberry’s tablet. I get that we all have our favourite teams — but really, the Playbook is getting killed out there. It’s like everyone quit cheering — just like that.

I wonder if they had invested in an advertising campaign; if they had tiptoed into the world of their consumer; if they had left their boardroom for even a minute….. if they could have figured it out.

“The world’s first professional tablet” (their tagline) is, well, I’m speechless. That’s what I tell all my friends — “Hey, I just bought the world’s first professional tablet…” Because Need for Speed is pretty vital to my day-to-day work.

I can’t figure out how they missed the mark SOOOOOOO badly.

The name Playbook actually is kind of fun. Imagine if they had picked up on that — sports, government, business all use a “playbook” to build their strategies. It’s vital in robust planning to have an innovative and imaginative playbook. More than that, in today’s fast paced, constantly changing global environment, to have a playbook that fits in my clutch purse, pocket, brief case, back pack is amazing! AND it’s totally synced to my blackberry!

But no.

They tell me it has flash.

That’s inspiring.

RIM”s failure to market the Playbook is 2011’s biggest failure in marketing. Is the actual product bad?

Well, there are thousands of subjective opinions floating around, most of whom already carry and iPad, but the Playbook is easy to use, fun, and actually helps me do my work. It’s designed for business and play…. because so am I.

But what the marketers missed was this: looking into the lives of their customers with curious eyes; checking out today’s world and events; analyzing the trends; sniffing out clues to changes in the world; translating those clues to innovative messages.

Ten years ago when we hired someone that claimed to be computer savvy, we knew that they could actually download a new program, do basic trouble shooting and run all the basic computer functions. Today, if I hire someone who says they’re computer savvy they can whiz around facebook, use iTunes and WORD. Because the world has changed.

Today’s consumer wants is fast, friendly and fun.

They are not longing for the world’s first professional tablet.

think outside-in

DATE: June 20th, 2011

Outside-In is Peter Fisk’s way of saying that marketers have to be savvy about understanding their customer.

That statement is so simplistic is almost defies comment.

But it caught my attention.

One of the biggest challenges marketers face is the power of their own product. Short sighted marketers allow the product takes precedence and they have a hard time to see the benefit to the customer.

Here’s the thing — your product is nothing if the customer can’t imagine it in their house, car, pocket. There are plenty of useless things that hit the market — like the Snuggie. Now really — who needs a blanket with arms?

The innovation behind the Snuggie is understanding the Christmas gift market. The marketers got it. They identified hundreds of thousands of people who feel trapped into giving gifts. On limited budgets, they are hard pressed to find something practical and interesting. The Snuggie, priced perfectly, was unique, a little funny and useful. a perfect gift for my uncle the couch potato who plays with alternative mobile devices while watching TV.

It’s a little more challenging for the non-profit market.

By and large, few people are looking to donate money. The general public needs to be inspired to join. Brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger (Free the Children) have captured the imagination of celebrities, young people and teachers. With elaborate Me 2 We events across North America, they understand the mood of North American young people. First of all, it’s about community — we can beat this if we do it together. Secondly, it’s about celebrity — we will come if there are people we want to see. Finally, it’s about impact — the just released annual report is jam packed with relevant numbers.


Can you step outside of the mind of your own understanding of your product, service or organization and understand yourself through someone else’s eyes?

It’s an interesting exercise to identify your audience segments — who are these people who need your products or services?

Fisk suggests that in today’s complex marketing world that segmentation is passe. I’m going to challenge that. Just take a look at the Apple/Microsoft commercial series. They characterized their customer — and it was amusingly bang on.

I think that he’s right in suggesting that segmentation may not follow the same rules. Your audience may not be in the same age group or the same income bracket — but they have some core interests that put them into your primary or secondary audience segments. I also agree that it’s more difficult to understand where to find your audience. But if you are creative and innovative, you will understand that your audience has some interesting intersections that can help you build your messaging.

this blog is inspired by reading Marketing Genius by Peter Fisk

Use your experience

DATE: June 14th, 2011

Your unique experiences, friends and colleagues contribute to your overall marketing knowledge. Books, best practices and stats all provide knowledge — but they don’t provide genius.

Books provide a point of view — influences by the author’s experiences, friends and colleagues. Best practices are unique to the company that they are inspired by.Stats provide knowledge and trends.

But none of these knowledge based influences contribute to  the magic a well-honed marketer contributes.

The marketer collects knowledge, understands experiences, gets a grip on new media (while being immersed in the old). Then they need to pick and choose the best ideas and insights.

I was at a fund raising seminar for a particular client in Europe. They had invited an extremely popular American direct marketing (direct mail) expert. He did a seminar on best practices for fund raising. His recommendation was that if you’re not mailing a calendar, you’re missing income.

OK — I was stunned.

Instead of helping the group, many who were novice marketers searching for insight into strategies for revenue growth — he applied a singular tactic — which, depending on the organization, may or may not work.

Last year I looked at the results of a new client. Using my experience and my knowledge of our own clients who were growing, I worked with the team and predicted the future.

While the numbers for this group were great — our predictions fell short.

There are a lot of factors — increased costs, changing economic climates, changes within the organization itself. But I learned a very valuable lesson. While I can learn from the activities of all of our clients, each organization is unique and uniquely positioned to cheap spongebob bouncer

Our task, at Barefoot, is to understand the client — their unique position within the market, the unique clients and their unique product. Using our knowledge, experience and imagination, we are able to build a strategy for success.

Key to success is imagination.

We try to approach each client problem with one basic question: “What if?”

(based on my reading of Peter Fisk’s Marketing Genius, pages 1 -23

Commitment to Learning

DATE: June 14th, 2011

Kobo told me this morning that the hottest summer reads are Carte Blanche ad Robopocalypse. As a fan of fiction and the genius of the novel, I will indulge.

I’ve been thinking a lot of the changes the digital world makes — moving away from the book to digital formats; the infamous “F” model describing new reading patterns; the frightening reality of over messaging and skimming. But most of all, I’ve noted the lack of actually learning.

Today’s “student” (I use that term broadly as anyone pursuing learning) is a forager — like a fat person at a buffet they can taste everything — without actually gaining benefit from anything. As a digital forager myself, I wonder what the fragmentation does to my actually learning which results in changed behaviour, increased innovation and and inventive imagination.

I believe that marketing is a skill and a talent. Genius marketers hone their skill and cleverly draw from their talent.The true genius never relies on past performance, but constantly searches to discover.

So my challenge this summer is to learn…..

I’m going to start with Peter Fisk’s book Marketing Genius. Older (first published in 2006), I want to learn what he has to say about genius and ferret out nuggets of wisdom. His opening line is: “Every marketer has the ability to achieve ‘genius’, to combine their intelligence and imagination in more strategic, innovative and effective ways….. Play.”

Coinciding with the largest North American convention on computer games…. I am going to begin to Play… challenging my intelligence, sparking my imagination…. beginning on a road to discovery….

Why don’t you join me?