Category Archives: tech

Say Yes to Advertising

Everyone in the Social Media world is going on and on about building relationships and spending money on a good PR agency, vs. millions on advertising.  It’s not worth it, they say.  The top down approach no longer works. they say.

Well, I call bullshit.

Advertising is valuable… when done right.

Sure, when I’m watching TV or videos online, I’d rather claw my eyes out than watch yet another 30 second slot of why L’oreal (I never know where to put the apostrophe) or Pantene is so amazing and makes me look exactly like the models, like O. M. G.!

But isn’t that because the ads themselves suck?  I mean I may believe Sarah Jessica Parker actually colors her hair out of a box only because I also believe she has a $500/hr hair dresser applying that color.

Despite Social Media being the “it” thing right now, there’s still value in ads.  With the right execution, ads reinforce positive brand attributes and can actually make your constituency feel a sense of exclusivity and belonging – something Martin Lindstrom covers in his new book, buyology.  (Just had to add a plug.   The marketing research discussed is interesting, although I’m a bit skeptical on the methodology and potential.)

The big take-away is “done right.”  People hate Wal-mart but love Target.  Why?  Because Target understands the importance of design and perception in addition to low prices.  Wal-mart treats their employees like jack and get cheap stuff from developing nations.  Target has the hottest designers and gives 10% back to charity.  I’m pretty sure Target sources from developing nations too… but that’s not what you emphasize, is it?

Ok.  Ok.  The ads don’t make Target better than Wal-mart.  And it shouldn’t.  But it does remind you of exactly why you love going there.

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So go on and hire that Social Media agency.  Research how to interact with bloggers and how to be real with your tweeters.  Understand that a Facebook app or page isn’t a check list item but a project to be executed only if it’s really the right way to interact with your market base.

But remember, good ads stick with you.

Bud-weis-er.

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Here are some of my faves:

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Kara, Walt & 300 of Their Best Friends

Maybe not 300.  Maybe not their best friends.  But the 6th Annual Gadgets Event hosted by the Churchill Club was pretty freakin’ awesome.  As part of their PR Agency, I got to attend and see some of the coolest gadgets out there.  Some are out.  Some aren’t.

Along with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg,  Evan Williams, Twitter Co-Founder and CEO, and Greg Harper, co-founder of Gadgetoff, showed off gadgets from fuel cells to a Star Wars Wii controllers (with LEDs that light up the laser end of the light saber).  Here’s a quick and dirty look of my favorites:

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This is the Flip Mino HD.  Not only is it smaller than the gen 1 Flip, but it also records in full HD.  As usual, the minimalist design and buttons on the back make operating tres easy, as does the pop out USB connector up top.  Retail: about $229.

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When a friend from Portola Valley, home of many a well-to-do/VC types, invited me over for dinner and discussed such a portable projector, I quickly dismissed it as totally impossible.  A projector this small?  Will it actually work or explode into a burning mess?

So I was ridiculously wrong (like that hasn’t happened before).  This little guy is not much bigger than an iPod, as you can see, and from the demonstration that Greg gave, the projection looks amazingly clear with pretty good color precision.  Retail: $300-500.

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There’s also the phone projector.  I couldn’t find the exactly image of the one that Greg showed, but this is pretty close.  It’s shaped exactly like the iPhone, except longer and even has the same interface.  My guess that it’s from China- looser copyright laws.  No idea on the price, and to be honest, I’d probably skip gen one.  If the product works well and with MS Office, you’ll never had to carry a laptop and projector to a presentation again.  A carry case that comes with a laptop connector (for troubleshooting) and a laser pointer, would make this a top sell for all the corporate types. :-)

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This is the much talked about Blackberry Storm.  For those with Verizon (and not stuck with *cough cough* AT&T), the Storm is supposed to be an iPhone killer.  From what Walt showed us on Tuesday night… not so much.  What’s with Blackberry’s need to use that weird non-QWERTY keypad?  And why would you include the numeric keypad for typing text?  Silliness.  It does have international SIM card slot and GMS but doesn’t work in the US (a.k.a. doesn’t work with other mobile services).  Retail: $249 with a $50 rebate, which puts it at the same range as the iPhone.

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Unlike the Blackberry, because it’s less useful but so much cooler, is Plantsense.  This doo-hickie has a pronged fork at the bottom that you stick into the ground.  It detects the soil PH, moisture, etc., while the green flower up top takes measurements from the air, like light and moisture.  Then (of course), it snaps open to reveal a USB stick, which plugs into your computer and gives you a detail analysis of the flora conditions and what plants would best suit the conditions around you.

This is perfect for me.  My last two plants have sadly died and I’m not sure what to grow anymore.  The window next to my office gets blazing sun from morning until noon and shade for the rest of the day.  I think my last plants, local wild flower varieties, died from sun poisoning.  They were growing fine one day and limp and dark green the next.  Retail: $59.95.

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The femtocell, made by Samsung for Sprint, extends the cell network anywhere you go.  Just plug it in, and it acts like a cell tower, giving you full bars with a radius of 1, 500 feet.  Greg mentioned that other cell carriers have a similar product, and he loves it when he’s in the middle of New York State and needs some bars in hicksville.  I don’t think I’ll be getting one soon, but if you’re like my ex, who lives in a stone house, please consider it on your Santa list.  Retail: a couple hundred plus any subscriber fees, $15-30/month for Sprint customers.

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I started with one of my favorite (the high quality, useful & inexpensive Flip cam), so I’ll end with one too.  This is the Panasonic SDR-SW20.  I’m not 100% sure what that means, except this: it’s a waterproof camcorder that takes pictures too.  And not waterproof, i.e. you can splash water on it.  It will actually go into the swimming pool with you!…!!!  I know!

This lightweight little contraption also comes with wi-fi, which means that you can automatically back up the videos and images on your computer inside the house, while you’re playing underwater (or if you’re my friend in her apartment’s pool, giving a back story to the bandaid floating near the bottom of the pool).  I haven’t hear much feedback on how well the camcorder works in salt water, i.e. on a scuba dive in the Caribbean, but will report back during an unboxing party. :-P Retail: about $282.

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Those were some of the highlights of the evening.  Others like the singing Elvis, which already made a debut on the Late Show with Letterman, and a tiny camera on a stick like those you see in the proctologist’s office, weren’t as exciting.  I can’t wait to see some of these products on market.  With the marketplace in a coma, this is a great time to buy cool gadgets with deep price discounts.  w00t!

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Filed under sh*t i like, stuff, tech

Enough About Politics

[Sorry, this post isn't about "food politics"; it's more about "food" and "politics."]

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During dinner with a couple friend last night, my girl friend said, “I’m really surprised we didn’t talk about politics tonight.  I always thought you were really knowledgeable about it.” (or something like that…)

A few reactions instantaneously popped into my head:

  • Oh, that’s so flattering!  Thank you.
  • I don’t know as much about the election, or politics in general, as I should.  But thanks for thinking that.  I’ll definitely work harder on doing my research and finding out the details of each candidate’s platforms.
  • My friend M from college could blow me out of the water.  Are you kidding? I’m like novice ^infinity.
  • Uh… sorry… *munch munch munch*… This salmon is delicious.  I can’t stop… *munch* eating *munch*… what were we talking about again?  (BTW, thanks for the recipe.  Seriously.  Best salmon ever!)

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Truth is I have done my research.  After the primaries and finally accepting the Obama over Clinton win, I didn’t know much about McCain Camp.  In fact, I saw him in Letterman and thought, “Wow, he’s a really nice guy.  Maybe we’ll have a real reformer on the Republican end, and American can see social reform AND lower taxes.” Wait… don’t stop reading… [and definitely don't use this as a sound byte]… cuz I was dead wrong.  Let me repeat that dead bleeping wrong.

So I started by watching the news, reading political blogs, monitoring links and bites on Twitter and Tumblr (yes, I admit this is overly liberal).  Most importantly, I went to each candidate’s websites.  Now, some may think that’s the last place to go.  After all, this is where McCain and Obama get to paint their picture perfect version of the U.S.  But that’s exactly what I want.  If their websites aren’t able to convince me (and most of my friends are liberals and campaign commercials are always too vague and inflammatory), then what will?

I’ve written over the past few weeks, posts on some of the issues where McCain and Obama take diverging stances (to put it lightly).  This is what I’ve discovered:

Fuck the issues.

FUCK THE ISSUES.

Here’s why.  We’re trapped in a jacked up love triangle.  The only choices are McCain or Obama (realistically anyway), and we have to choose.  Now both want to get elected, so they’ll sweet talk us and send us flowers and promise to love us forever.  They’re politically wooing us right now.  Each has their own strengths and weaknesses.  Each their own opinions on issues.

But the question we really need to ask ourselves is, “Which one is going to stick around after we’ve said yes and let them have their way with us?”

Or better yet, “Who do we trust?”

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We know that McCain hasn’t always been faithful to the Republican party.  He’s a maverick, right?

We know that he has to answer to major corporations.  So when the economy’s gone to shit (“We have about a year… a year and a half more of this…” according to an analyst after Pepsi Co. fired… sorry… ‘laid off’ over 3,000 employees today), who’s McCain going to come home to?  The public?  He’s already had us.  We voted for him and everything.  Obviously, from the last 8 years, we’ve proven that impeachment doesn’t work.  Or the major corporations and banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, who can very much affect McCain, his friends and the people around him?

We know McCain picked one of the most inexperienced Vice Presidential candidates in history, and she’s completely incapable of answering the simplest questions with preparation and note cards.  She’s a smooth talker, so there’s no excuses.  Palin just didn’t know the answer.  You comfortable with that?  Cuz I sure ain’t.

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Now, what do we know about Obama?

Obama championed to stop all lobbying.  What does mean?  Hold back, giant corporations.  Thou shall not influence his decisions on whether to benefit the rich or the poor.

His platforms are not based on broad statements about how hardworking Americans are or how we deserve better.  Are we hardworking?  Sure.  Do we deserve better?  If we earn it, then yes.  But those aren’t his points.  Obama has specific goals and plans that he says he will carry out over the next four years.  It doesn’t mean that he will, but I sure trust specific timelines and strategies over general, sweeping wishes.

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So there you have it.  I choose Obama because I believe he will be true to his word.  And that’s more important than all the promises in the world.

X

[Image courtesy of shiftingheat. There used to be an image here, but the artist (not the one linked) is being a poopface (read: complete asshole) about credits.  FYI, I'm more than happy to credit your art, but 1) please allow time to do so, i.e. more than a day, and 2) tell me which piece is yours.  I'm too lazy to scour the internets to figure it out, so please help me. :) ]

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On a completely different note…

Google,

I believe in you, and I believe that I would deliver 110% as your Chief Marketing Officer… err… you don’t have a CMO?  Really?  Well, let me get right back to ya on the specific title, all righty?

You embody the right philosophy, and your employees deserve praise for their innovation and dedication.  Together, we can make a better internet.  We can kick Yahoo’s ass and leave victorious.  Now is not the time to withdraw and hide.  We need to dedicate as many resources as possible to this vital threat.  Screw Microsoft, Powerset, Ask, Facebook and the others.  Yahoo’s the real threat.

And let’s make sure Google’s staff has the tools for making more innovations.  We shouldn’t educate them on the best practices for managing a side project/start-up.  Instead, we should verbally dissuade them from making anything new, but let’s make sure they have the tools just the same.

Oh, last thing.  In this ailing economy, Google certainly understands the hardships people are having.  We should pay larger dividends on all Google stock.  Sure, the payout benefits major shareholders and the executive management the most, but it’ll all trickle down.  A payout’s a payout, right?

… Google.  I know with me as your CMO, we will make a brighter internet for tomorrow.  Sure, I’m just two years out of college, but I have been the social director, professional chair and president of multiple clubs.  And heck, I manage a WordPress blog, a Tumblelog and a Twitter.  If that doesn’t make me fit to be CMO, I sure as heck don’t know what will.

Vote fer… err… hire me!

Your patrio… supporter,

Jany

Update: July 6, 2010  Apparently, I didn’t credit the artist (totally not going to pimp him out) for one of the above images.  Apologies.  That image has since been removed (at least I don’t have to deal with him anymore).

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Filed under funnnie, politics, pr/marketing, social, tech

Politics & The History of Marketing

PART I

My last post on the vice presidential debate highlighted the great marketing campaign of the GOP.  I say marketing because many of you pointed out via emails and ims that Sarah Palin, and to some extend John McCain, focuses on broad sweeping statements about some utopian United States without much in the way of a plausible road map.  Well… that’s what worries me most of this campaign, as did the campaign in 2004.

The American people have always held on to great hope for the future.  It’s been the promise of the American dream that’s driven so many people to immigrate to this great country (yes, it’s still great).  And that’s exactly the tactic that the republican party focuses on during election time.  They toy with our optimism, fondle our emotions and make those sweeping generalizations about how their candidate, McCain, will change the U.S. and the middle class for the better.

But so many supporters of the GOP at major corporations and the wealthy.  They hold much more sway over the party than the millions of rural, small town and middle class families.  Can we trust that they will serve us over the rich?  Has the last 8 years taught us nothing?

But the Obama and democratic party actually gives clear goals and action plans that cite the benefits, costs and consequences on the economy, healthcare, social security, foreign affairs, the energy crisis/global warming, etc.

But at the end of the day, as we learned in Made to Stick, the emotional appeal works much more effectively than the factual… right?

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PART II

Well to explain, let’s examine the brief history of marketing [via lessons from my management 101 class at The Wharton School].

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start – The Sound of Music). Marketing is defined as “an ongoing process of planning and executing the marketing mix for products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organizations.”  Advertising, public relations, research, branding among others all fit under the marketing umbrella.  But marketing is the core strategy that directs all of the above.

New technology = economic growth.  The Industrial Evolution spurred the beginning of mass production.  No longer do we have to make our own clothes because the cotton mills could do it faster and cheaper.  Great!  With Ford’s application of the assembly line, the Model-T was so much more cost effective car that the average American could afford.  Great!  However, there wasn’t much in the way of marketing.  No strategic placement of a product or service, finding market segments, developing a unique selling point.  There was no need.  It’s “any color, as long as it’s black.”

Skip forward to proliferation of the market place.  Developments in transportation, packaging and refrigeration means that people now have a choice in what they want to buy.  These were especially apparent in the CPGs (consumer packaged goods) like Heinz ketchup (“47 varieties!”), Campbell’s soup (“M’m m’m good” since 1935), Coca-Cola (“Deliciously refreshing” 1900) and so many more.  Slogans were a way to set products apart from competitors and a catchy phrase to help advertising and consumer choices.

From there, marketing mutated to a complex machine.  In order to keep things brief (because it gets a lot more complicated), here are some highlights in no particular order.

  • Proctor & Gamble realized that it’s better to cannibalize their own products, if it means gaining more of the marketing.  Just in their family of detergents, they have Tide as a household name and top market brand.  Cheer and Gain, which sorry for not knowing, play somewhere in the mid-cost, mid-performance range.  (I’m sure PG has gigabytes of consumer studies, scanner data and much more market research on the differentiators and market segments under each.  I just don’t know them.)  Then Era at the bottom (which I assume b/c I’ve never heard of it… maybe it has higher market proliferation abroad).
  • Intel evolved into a household name by using both the push and pull strategy.  During a time when chips were a dime a dozen and consumers weren’t aware of what went into their computers, Intel pushed their chips as the top of the line.  More importantly, they pulled consumers in with effective advertising and PR (all part of marketing).  Make sure that your computer has “Intel inside” to guarantee quality, etc.
  • Pepsi, as the newcomer, challenged Coca-Cola with their blind taste test, and stupidly Coca-Cola (instead of leaning on their tradition, branding and established consumer base) fell for the trap.  They came up with New Coke.  Sure… months later with people across the nation hoarding the old stuff and complaining so fervently, Coke came back with Coca-Cola Classic.  But Pepsi had make it’s mark, and they’re still competing with about 50-50 market share (depending on country) of beverages and snack products.  [Side note: some people suspect that Coke had introduced New Coke as a ploy to convince the public how much they really love Coca-Cola.  I think the executives were just idiotic.  Side note #2: Coca-Cola determined a few years ago that there are 27 beverage opportunities in a day.  Yeah, 27.]

Those are just three very quick snapshots of successful marketing techniques and how much marketing’s evolved from “47 varieties!”

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Now every company is trying to differentiate itself.  We have dozens of choices.  Brands are freaking sub-branding, creating off-shoots and variations.  There’s like 12 types of Tylenol ache, cold and flu medicines.  When I’m in pain, I just want “THIS IS THE ONE YOU NEED.”  So advertising’s become less effective.  Direct mail’s also less effective because my mailbox is full of ads I don’t want.  [Discover, unless you're giving me 10% cash back, which I know you can't afford, stop sending me biweekly mail.  I'm not going to accept your 'exclusive offer.']  Telemarketers hounds us all the time.  These annoying marketing techniques work because they’re so cost effective that a few “YES’s” make up for the majority of “NO’s.” [Unfortunately, they also give marketing a bad name.  It's become an industry of shoving shit people don't want down their throats.  Not true marketing: exposing product/service options to audiences who want to know.]

The problem was that companies were offering their guarantees so often that what they say mean nothing to us.  We’re emotional numb to their appeals and no longer trusted their slogans.  At the end of the day, no matter how kitschy or cute the advertising is, if the product/service ain’t work, we ain’t buying it.   So things started to change.

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Remember new technology = economic growth.  Internet = proliferation and democratization of information.  The normal paradigms of advertising, public relations and branding are changing.  Thus, marketing (the planning of such) is evolving as well.

Inventions like TiVo and DVRs help us skip the ads, while companies are trying to find ways to ‘cut through the clutter.’  Marketers are moving online.  Okay, yes, a lot of the bad habits of marketers have moved online.  The flashy, corny banners.  The incessant pop-ups selling us crap and then selling us pop-up blockers.  The spam, even from legitimate companies (you have the money; hire an email-marketer!).

But this is just the beginning.  More and more, word of mouth is playing a role.  Blogs and influencers across the web are popping up and spreading relevant information to interested niches.  Email marketers are popping up with opt-in policies and reassurances that our information isn’t getting sold to the evil spammers.  Semantic search and backend settings allow us to just see ads and banners that may be of interest to us.  Because we do want marketing.  It helps us find out about great sales, the new android phone or 20% off coupons.  We just don’t want what we don’t care about.

So here’s the lesson: marketing works.  Emotionally appealing to audiences works.  BUT.  BUT, there has to be facts that support the emotion.  In order to prevent buyer’s remorse and to keep a customer (which is so much cheaper than acquiring a new one), the product/service has to deliver.

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Part III

Thanks for sticking with me. :-)

Presidential nominations are like laundry detergent.  We have to choose one.

The difference (other than the fact that one is soap and one is people) is that the companies and branding may stay the same, democrats, republicans, independents, etc., but the product changes all the time.  Last time around it was Kerry and Bush.  Now it’s Obama and McCain.  So we can’t rely 100% on past experience to determine which one we want this time.

But we learn from shopping (an everyday task of differentiating among products and choosing what’s right for us) that we have the tools to make those decisions.  For example, we know that we care about the product specs above marketing gimmicks.  As a shoe fanatic (I have the proverbial shoe closet), Manolos would go so much better with my lifestyle brand.  However, they hurt my feet, don’t fit as well and quite frankly, I’d rather save $200 and buy Kate Spades.

The same should go for decisions on candidacy! Yes, I love America.  Yes, I want the government to be for the people again.  Yes, I want someone who isn’t afraid to challenge the authority and be a ‘maverick.’ But that doesn’t mean I’m going to blindly go on my emotions and not look at the FACTS!

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1) I’m SO enraged that the GOP would use a cheesy marketing ploy to try and fool the American people.

2) Even more so, I’m irked that the public would buy into it!

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FACT: Sure, she’s cute and a MILF, but Sarah Palin said exactly 0 about specific plans of the McCain doctrine.

FACT: A ‘blanket’ tax cut helps the rich exponentially more than it helps “the Joe six-packs and hockey moms.”  (see below)

FACT: Obama’s healthcare reform includes a specific plan.  He plans to “make employer contributions more fair.”  HOW? … “by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees health care.”  McCain’s healthcare plan is full of unsupported claims.  “John McCain will reform health care making it easier for individuals and families to obtain insurance.” How?  Not sure… but “Americans [sure] are working harder and longer, yet the amount workers take home in their paychecks is not keeping pace because of rising health care costs.”  Really?  I wasn’t aware.

FACT: Obama’s foreign policy talks about the situations, the factors and multiple influences we have as a country to resolve/strengthen the problem/our position. McCain… doesn’t have “foreign policy” on his website…  Apparently, it’s not that important to him…  The closest thing I found was “national security.”

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Look, I’m not going into all the issues and who said what (all from their websites).  You can do your own research.

The point is that when we’re making such an important decision that affects not only Americans but the entire world, shouldn’t we look above the marketing ploys that tug at our heart strings and get to the not-as-interesting facts?

To answer the first question, wayyyy above: the emotional appeal works much more effectively than the factual… right?

We’ll see.  But it shouldn’t.

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Alcohol is My Friend

Perhaps that statement isn’t quite so true, but with all the activities during TechCrunch50, you wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference.

I have to admit I really need to start bringing my Canon Powershot (and beg for a Nikon SDR for Christmas – I’ve been really goood this year!).  The one above is taken via my iPhone early on during the Seesmic Anniversary Party (Happy Anniversary!!!) before it got too dark and crowded.

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The Itinerary:

9/8 TC50 Day 1: completely oblivious that it actually started today.  Opted out of going to MySpace party, which I heard was a blast.

9/9 TC50 Day 2: drinks @ the Chi.mp/Mars Bar hang out by the conference center.  Totally chill and a nice way to ease into the craze.  Didn’t make it to Temple cuz, let’s admit it, I’m a granma and it’s a school night.

9/10 TC50 Day 3: get up at the crack ass and haul over to the Rubicon Project/Powerset Rehab party.  Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s at 8 a.m.?  Can you say “hollerrrr?”

[picture via Flickr and NickStarr (thanks!)]

I also picked up a nice ‘swag bag’ filled with Skyy vodka, Gatorade, dissolvable Tums (eww?), breakfast bars, t-shirts and a “I’ve completed the hangover course @ TCRehab” certificate.  My favorites are the RP and Powerset t-shirts.  Gotta love that soft cottoned American Apparel.

[via Flickr and the official_powerset stream (thanks!)]

I <3 Kevin in that picture!! :-)

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[via Flickr and Cirne (thanks!)]

Jump to evening.  Seesmic party at 330Ritch.  (Seriously, I need to start wearing make-up.  So many random guys have flirted with me over the last few days.  Apparently, 5 mins of powder makes me a whole new person.)  Skip over to the bar, grab some salmon tartar and a dirty Grey Goose martini.  The food, except patte (ick), was delicious as was the company.

9/11Post TC50: McGriddles.

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All in all, a fun few days.  Met some cool dudes et dudettes.  Learned that I need to 1) stop ducking away from cameras and 2) bring one.

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Oh, I’ll manga you all right.

Last week, something really disturbing happened.  I was online reading my Tumblr dashboard, usually the first place I hear all relevant news, when I came across yet another avatar builder.  So I clicked and built it… didn’t think anything of it and went to bed.

By the very next day, like 4 of my coworkers’ Twitter icons contained their manga avatars.  I mean I’ve seen things pop up overnight, but this is literally over-night.

Yes, congratulations to the company, if they’re able to sell their service/product outside of this fad (sorry but I am NOT paying to have a picture of my avatar printed… it’s not like I walk around with a profile of myself on the right menu bar at all times. – And no, I’m not linking to you either).  But did they just take the exclusivity out of being early adopters?  I mean I was like 12-16 hrs ahead at most.  That really isn’t worth me having to sign up for yet another social media/networking/web2.0 account.

Poop.

Maybe I should get coffee first.  Then this post might sound happier… whooooo…

FYI… hmmmm.

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Innovation is the New Black

Originally posted on Slice.

About two years out of college, I’ve started attending panels and discussions. There’s so much to be learned, and with marketing and communications moving at such a fast pace, I realized that my education has just begun. Surprisingly, I’m enjoying the quest.

Last night’s panel at Swissnex, a forum dedicated to connecting Swiss companies with those on the West Coast, the topic was innovation and design and their contribution and sustainability of big business, a.k.a. the Fortune 500. Reena Jana from BusinessWeek did an excellent job moderating.

GM was brought up as the old dinosaur that lacked the processes to change, while GE became the epitome of companies who transformed it’s corporates structure to be able to continually innovate.

[Photo via Baia's Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.]

The point that stuck was that from a designer’s perspective, good innovation is something that the customers and designers both wanted. It’s the glue that held business and sustainability and marketing and engineering. I don’t necessarily agree. The struggle with marketing and engineering is that what the customers want doesn’t always overlap with why the engineers want to create. Of course, customers don’t always know what they want. Until BOSE designed super small speakers, their audience didn’t think it was an option. So how can companies know what’s the next best thing?

All the panelists agreed that focus groups and customer surveys rarely make a good indicator of if the product will do well in the market place. And just because a small group of evangelists at the company love the idea doesn’t necessarily correlate to a stellar sales record.

[Photo via Baia's Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.]

It’s a problem the companies deal with on a daily basis. Is there a one size fits all solution? Or will some companies follow the suggestions on the market, while others like BOSE and Apple simply continue forging ahead and presenting their audience with what they think the people want?

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PR: Political Relations

Instead of going out on Saturday night, I opted to join a discuss group called the Club of Rome. It’s a forum that meets every once in a while (we haven’t set the pace yet), and everyone brings food, drinks and ideas.

The topic for this weekend was “Is it okay to intervene and disregard a nation’s sovereignty in order to help its citizens during a national disaster or political situation, i.e. genocide?” We used the [not so] recent Burmese cyclone, and the Junta’s rejection to foreign aid as the premise. Should the U.S. have simply crossed into Burmese air space/waters to delivers supplies? What could the U.N. have done?

There’s so much to be said, and I won’t give a complete synopsis of points debated. But about an hour in, I suggested whether or not to accept aid had everything to do with messaging.

The Junta were skeptical of U.S. intentions, since we took our sweet time offering aid during the Sri Lanka tsumani. In another example, China gladly took aid from other nations during the earthquake. The forum speculated that they probably could have handled matters themselves but wanted to seem open and welcoming, especially with the Olympics looming. Similar situation with the U.S. and Katrina. India offered aid but was rejected by the U.S. Forgive me for not fact checking. Did the U.S. say no because it didn’t make logistical sense to send Indian aid workers, who didn’t know the infrastructure of U.S. relief, OR was it because the U.S. simply had too much pride? “We’re the leading country in the world. Why would we possibly need help?”

Intentions masked in layers of political secrecy leave other nations to speculate, often wrongly, about why country A chose action B. The G77 (made up of over 120 developing nations) are completely distrusting of the G8 (eight of the leading OECDs) for this reason.

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I think they could take a page from social media and the strives that companies like Cisco, Johnson & Johnson and many others are taking to promote trust and relationship-building. If countries were able to sit at the table and find the mutually beneficial solutions, there wouldn’t be a need for veils of secrecy and empty U.N. sanctions. No one can guarantee the actions of other parties, but there’s no point in creating a prisoner’s dilemma.

What if the U.S. simply said, “Hey, we just want to help the people in your country. Yes, we’re interested in building a relationship because we’re interested in trade (oil) and becoming closer allies (since you’re getting too chummy with China). BUT… this is a crisis. Could we put aside the politics, so that your people can get the relief they need? We’ll offer to drop supplies in unmarked crates. Hell, we’ll even stamp the official Junta seal if you want”?

What if we simply drop the U.N. sanctions and threats from the U.S. military bully and just communicated? Sure, it might not work the first time or even the fifth, but the effort would generate mutual understanding and maybe even *gasp* respect.

Call me idealistic, but transparency and communication could do a world of good. Literally.

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Filed under politics, social, tech

Jany’s Del.icio.us

http://delicious.com/JanyXu

I’ve finally created a del.icio.us page.

When I first found out about del.icio.us, I was checking out my friend’s profile way back in the early days (a whole 5 years ago). He and I had gotten really close at the end of high school, but since we lost touch in college (and I thought for sure he was dead from a drug overdose or something), I was relieved to find him online. I mean the fact that he could change his profiles on Facebook and add bookmarks to del.icio.us means that he’s all right, right?

But I didn’t join in. There’s a particularly OCD side of me that likes everything in folders and subfolders (you should see my Outlook at work), so a sight of seemingly random links with no organization whatsoever really irked me. I just couldn’t do it. Yes, you could click on tags, but that’s still doesn’t change the homepage from looking like what it really was: a gigantic mess.

New tools were coming out all the time, and after a while, I just forgot about del.icio.us… until two things happened: 1) I read Amanda Gravel’s post on using del.icio.us as an online portfolio and 2) I started seriously compiling all my RSS feeds with Google Reader and discovered so many cool trinkets, posts, sites, etc. and Google Reader/ Twitter favorites just didn’t do bookmarking justice. …That was months ago, maybe even half a year.

Something just didn’t sit right with del.icio.us… it looked so 1.0… so Craigslist without a chance of finding an apartment, job or evil nemesis.

So I kept waiting… until tonight. I’m casually browsing through my RSS feeds, when I see a TechCrunch article on the new del.icio.us. I’d been meaning to check it out anyways, I need somewhere to put all my bookmarks and here’s another profile to ‘prove’ that I’m ‘with it’ or ‘in the know.’ Sure, why the hell not?

As I click through all the set up, I realize, it’s pretty user-friendly. I can definitely (and will) create tags for all the cool web developer types and art sites that I’ve run across. I haven’t quite figured out how to keep my LinkedIn resume and WordPress/Tumblr blogs on top, but I’m sure in the coming week, I’ll keep making update and tweaks.

Yup, ladies and gents… there you have it. My del.icio.us page. Boo-yah!

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Filed under pr/marketing, tech

Mobile Blogging Rocks…

As does my new iPhone. :-D muahahahaha

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More details plus pictures later. :)  I can’t wait to be able to submit iPhone pics on my Tumblr again.

Enjoy the weekend!

Cheers.

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Filed under stuff, tech