Monthly Archives: March 2009

Resonance, Not Reach

Creating a brand LoveMark in the 21st century has never been easier. Yet, the concept seems to be alien to so many companies.

Many brands think they’ve got a loyal following. But what they really have is passive brand loyalty. People who buy the product all the time, but don’t really have a loving, committed relationship. It’s a marriage of convenience. Your brand is not a LoveMark. And you’re fooling yourself if you think those sales figures are just going to continue without putting some work into your relationship. There’s always something shiny coming around the corner, or a challenge to be met and if your customers aren’t willing to go the extra mile for you, then you’re DOA.

Advertising used to be about reaching as many people as possible with your message. Reach. CPM. It was all about how many eyeballs you could get to. And that’s what brands thought would bring them some sort of relationship with people. But it’s a flawed system that doesn’t work. The old “50% of my advertising works and 50% doesn’t – but I don’t know which 50% is which” simply isn’t good enough for today’s effective marketer, working on a slashed budget and still needing to demonstrate real ROI.

I put it to you that Reach is not what you should be focused on (in fact, it was never the real focus, but we got lost because that’s all traditional media could measure and create sales on). It’s not primarily about Reach.

It’s all about Resonance.

To explain Resonance to students, I say it’s like hitting the sweet spot on a tennis racquet. You get the best power, best direction, best result – with ‘just-right’ input. Hitting a ball with the sweet spot on the tennis racquet is Resonance. And the perfect chord on a guitar is Resonance.

Social media offer brands an opportunity to create a LoveMark because they offer a capacity for Resonance that traditional formats, focused on CPM, could never offer. CPM tries to achieve Resonance by throwing lots and lots of tennis balls at a racquet, and hoping one or two make the sweet spot. There’s stacks of lost message. And stacks of lost money.

Resonance in advertising is all about making your product the perfect and only fit that the buyer can see for them. In fact, it shows the product as being built specifically for them. It’s all about the individual consumer. It’s not about how many thousands of people you can get your message to. It’s about getting it to the right people.

By using social media as a tool, Resonance happens when your brand speaks to people online. Personally. As part of a conversation. When you’re speaking to someone it says you care about them. How do you think rock stars get so successful? Name any teen heart-throb: David Cassidy, Robbie Williams, Jesse McCartney, even (good grief) the Jonas Bros make girls feel they are performing just for them. They sing songs that say “hey, I’m so lonely and you could be the one.” Rock stars who do that have Resonance down pat. And now it’s easy for any brand to do the same.

Social media offers brands the opportunity to become a LoveMark for people and eliminate a great portion of the passive brand loyalty that they’re built on. Good brands, like Zappos.com are in the space, making personal relationships with people a priority. As time goes on, I hope more companies rediscover the importance of Resonance over Reach. If you build resonance with one person, then they’ll be singing your praises day in and day out to people who care about what they have to say. And that’s a CPM you couldn’t put a price on.

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Why my family loves Boulder

I never dreamed I’d live anywhere other than Sydney, Australia.

When you’ve got a good job, a house you’re constantly doing ‘something’ to, kids, dogs, routine… the last thing you think of is moving. Anywhere. Least of all to a country you’ve never been to before. But then I came home from work one day and Jed told me his start-up dreams weren’t done with itechne. He had a bigger one. To go to the US and launch what was to become scribetribe.us.

And I said okay, we’ll Skype and email.

But he had a different plan. He convinced me to take (another) chance.

We packed up and moved to Boulder, Colorado in August 2008.

Now, lots of people have written about the great things Boulder has to offer in terms of nightlife, culture, the outdoors and the tech scene. And it’s all true and fantastic. I am loving being a part of all of those things. But above everything else, I’m a *proud* mum. And Boulder is an amazing place to raise kids.

Harry and Charlie are aged 8 and 11 and have come to Boulder with us. They have swapped their Sydney private school blazers and ties, frenetic life-by-the-clock, mum out teaching three nights a week, no friends within walking distance, and a home where they weren’t allowed to play out the front due to the traffic – for this:

september-2008-002 A lifestyle that is similar to that I remember as a kid. One I thought you couldn’t give your kids any more, because “times have changed.”

They’d never seen snow before we moved to Boulder. Here they love it. december-2008-004

On top of all that, the (public) school they go to has the best educators I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They have been wonderful in helping my kids move to not only a new home, but a place where feet and inches, and American history are completely different for them. They’ve made the transtition incredibly smoothly – and it’s largely due to the school. (I’ve already celebrated Bear Creek Elementary in an earlier post.)

For me? The start-up widow? I’ve swapped a lifestyle where the drive to work each day took an hour of fume-laden highways, teaching in this college at Granville:

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For being a part of the University of Colorado, which is slightly more attractive.

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And on top of everything else, my husband is throwing himself into his life’s dream. He’s happily working on seemingly endless adrenaline, at all hours. But he tries to take a run each day and instead of it being beside a road where it’s simply not safe after a certain hour, it’s up around NCAR where deer graze.

So I guess the thing is, when you think you’re settled and couldn’t think of moving, think again. A bit of unsettling could be the best thing you do for your family. Especially if Boulder is where you end up. If you’re in tech and thinking about moving to Boulder, get in touch with the guys at Boulder.me.

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Time to get humble

It’s unfortunate to see the response to the closure of newspapers around the USA. There are myriad closures, staff retrenchments and newsroom faces full of sorrow. The half-hearted, ineffective attempts by print organizations to move online have not achieved the goals. As Clay Shirky says, they weren’t humble enough to believe they would really be ‘threatened’ by a new format. They didn’t prepare the old-school journalists for reality. They treated the changes as ‘novelties’ or ‘gimmicks’ rather than real attempts for survival, and journalists who really tried to get with the program were marginalized or attacked for their attempts. The old-school journalists continue to believe, even with the world crumbling around them, that the old ways of doing journalism – the 100 plus-year traditions – should survive.

They sincerely believed that Jefferson’s statement about prefering newspapers to government literally meant newspapers. In, as my husband says, a format that relies on spreading ink on crushed trees. In any case, Jefferson’s point is decontextualized in this oft-quoted piece. He follows it with “But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”  Hmm.  “Every man should receive those papers…” Doesn’t that kinda mean news should be free?

And if we’re saying Jefferson was literally referring to newspapers in that single format, then surely we can also say he only really cared about men being able to access them, not women. Right?

Of course not. Jefferson was talking about the value of news and the need for all people to access it. He was, of course, writing before any other mass media format existed. Doh!

I feel sorry for those who believe Denver’s loss of the Rocky Mountain News was the only cut that would happen. They think only one paper will be supported. I’m predicting closure of all printed news media in these smaller markets. The Denver Newspaper Agency is already starting to do this. Maybe they’ll continue to tweet the funerals of their own papers in the same way they thought it was appropriate to Twitter the Funeral of a 3-year-old child.

Humble yet?

The importance of teaching

In Australia I spent a heck of a lot of money on educating my four fantastic children. It won’t surprise many that as an educator, and someone who got her post-secondary education ‘the freaking toughest way you’d ever decide to’, education is my priority. It’s what I do. It’s really my life.

As a full-time teacher at Granville TAFE, my favourite times have been at TAFE graduations, watching refugee immigrants to Australia graduating with a TAFE qualification, and the pride they have with even the youngest of their families in suits, to see dad or mum graduate with their diploma. It’s about so much more than the qualification – for the parents as well as the kids. And I sincerely miss it more than I can say.

In Australia we live in a lovely semi-rural environment. To get access to the education I wanted for our children I made sacrifices. I’m not just talking about not taking holidays. I mean taking my own cut lunches to work, not buying coffees at cafes, working outside of the home even though caring for four children is more than a full-time job in itself – real middle class stuff that means giving my kids an education I wanted them to have. Even then, however, I had issues. Teachers cutting corners. Not doing the job I wanted. A few times I was forced into a dialogue with the principal about issues that never should have arisen.

So we moved to Boulder. I have been asked a few times how I started with making such a big move. Well, the first thing I did was check out the schools.

Before anything else, I checked out how the school system worked and found the best school for our children. THEN when that was decided, I looked for the house. (Which is basically next door to the school – WIN).

And after nearly a school year at Bear Creek Elementary, I have to say I have never, ever seen educators like this – even through paying an exorbitant amount in Australia. Literally.

Our children are thriving in an environment which is supportive, works with families and absolutely and unequivocally wants kids to succeed. When I meet with my kids’ teachers, I am regularly brought to an emotional state (insert *embarrassing  try-to-hold-back-tears-moments here). Their care and concern for my children is so touching it makes me want to be a better parent every single time – to keep track with their own concern. (And hey, I’m already a pretty awesome mum.) 

And it makes me want to be a better educator at college level too. I want to help other people reach beyond their comfort zone. To find their feet. To get confident. To look at their futures with anticipation – not trepidation.

I want to be the teacher that my kids have here in the US. Bear Creek Elementary in South Boulder is an incredible foundation of learning for children that I am so grateful for. My kids are thriving in the US – not thinking of academically, (although that’s fine too) but in confidence and strength of personality. Bear Creek’s teachers and principal and support staff are incredible. My family has benefitted directly from everything you do. And I learn from you. And even I gain confidence from you. Thank you so much.

A completely new form and hope for democracy

I do wish people would stop analysing the ‘death of print’ and focus on the future of journalism. There are so many traditional media with stories like the nicely titled “Is democracy written in disappearing ink” which attempt to say journalism will die along with the traditional formats. While I like the title, the answer if obviously “only if you guys want it to!”

Suck it up people. Democracy is alive and well, and professional journalists have never had a better opportunity to tell all the stories they need to tell. The web gets rid of all your publishers, advertisers… financial concerns which could be seen to impact on your ‘professionalism’. If your primary focus is to make money, then I’m putting it to you that democracy doesn’t sit well with that.

If the key to democracy is myriad voices gaining exposure, then democracy has never been better served.

Who’s talking about whom?

In discussions with people who view the media climate as being a binary between big media and bloggers, many times the exclamation rises, “Well, if MSM didn’t exist what would bloggers talk about? All they do is talk about ‘real media’ stories.”

But how the tables have turned.

The last couple of weeks across the US and Australia has seen a great rise in MSM’s coverage of ‘normal’ citizens production of content on new media channels. Blogs, yes. But beyond that, social media is rising to take over. There seems to be stories in MSM covering content produced on Twitter, Ustream, 12seconds every single day.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s front page online today features a home invasion with details simply drawn from Twitter and UStream. Yes, when you open it you end up in the tech section – but it is firstly listed on the front page.

The New York Times had a great piece recently on how traditional media ‘personalities’ were taking up Twitter.

But all MSM reports have been very much along the lines of “we don’t know how this inane stuff involves so many people, but hey, it does.” MSM reporters are challenged by social media. They know it’s a space they need to be in, and report about, but they’re not really confident with doing either of those things.

Real life celebrities such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Fry and (ex-model) Kathy Ireland are getting into Web 2.0 and actually talking directly to real, ordinary people. MSM is suddenly no longer needed to give a broadcast audience celebrity gossip. Why bother when I can watch Demi’s recent photo shoot for Helena Rubenstein courtesy of her husband’s Qik stream? It’s authentic. It’s credible. It’s straight from them!

So tell me again. Who’s talking about whom?

Getting beyond “Do you want fries with that?”

So now the can of worms is opened. As expected, newspapers are closing. Many print journalists are inexplicably in shock. Their next paid employment may well include the words, “do you want fries with that?”

And that, truly, is devastating.

But we still have new people entering schools, wanting to be journalists. Play with me here:

Let’s say we have a new intake this year. They’ll be trusting us for the next four years to prepare them for employment. Beyond fast food. And so the question for educators is specific. What are the best journalism schools teaching now? What should they be teaching?

Be specific! I’m not interested in opinions that simply state “they need to be prepared for the web.”

Here’s a few of my views. We need to:

a. Teach the very real and vital aspects of the role of journalism, its values and role.

b. Equip students with these values as paramount, above and beyond the role of the media they work in. We need them to see the media they work within never compromises or changes their values as journalists.

c. Move away from teaching print media with a concentration on newspapers as the standard, and instead move towards the web as the standard media format.

d. Continue to teach content creation for broadcast and radio, and print magazines. And equip every student for a start in any of those formats.

e. In their first semester, teach students about the real possibilities of independent blogging, microblogging, podcasting and vlogging and insist they do all of them.

f. Instill in them all an awareness and practice of newsgathering and research in a new media environment.

What do you disagree with? What is missing?