The Complete “Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class” Arc

Note: this was a thirty part post arc in which J answered student questions. We’re reposting because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and he’s the boss, we do what he says. Most times.

UMass Lowell and Strategic Management

I was very honored today to be asked to sit in on UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management classes. These classes are taught by Dr. Martin Moser, a gentleman I’ve mentioned before in my blogs. The classes are working on some very interesting ideas; marketing UMass Lowell as a product to a very targeted audience — high school juniors. As Dr. Moser is going to be passing this post onto his students, I’m hoping they’ll feel free to post their comments and thoughts (and hopefully pointers to their marketing materials, if they’re allowed) here so others can get an idea of what these students are doing.

I could tell you I was blown away by the competence, expertise and skill of these students and I still wouldn’t be doing them justice. They are constructing videos of their lives at UMass Lowell, highly informative, definitely intimate (meaning one-on-one), and very personable. These videos are going on different social networking sites as a means of promoting the school. This is the brainchild of Dr. Moser and is being encouraged by Associate Vice Chancellor Joyce Gibson and Dean Tom Taylor. My purpose for attending the class was to provide some feedback on their marketing efforts and to do some field research on how that generation is thinking.

I’m not going to go into how bright, how professional, this and that. Take it for granted. What truly impressed me was that these students were so willing to learn. When I offered a response to a video they asked for explanations and follow up thoughts. Their questions were both reasonable and insightful. They were thinking! They impressed me. One student recognized the differences involved in gender-based marketing and asked how to deal with them. Other students were aware that certain things would work well for their target but not for older audiences — that’s right, they understood age-based demographics.

Okay and yes. If students are learning how to produce marketing material they should be aware of these concepts. There is, however, a broad difference between learning something, being aware of it, and putting it into practice and understanding how what they’re doing works in a business environment.

My hat’s off to the students, Dr. Moser and UMass Lowell for supporting this learning.

I also promised the students that I’d provide links for them on the various things we were talking about. Those follow at the bottom of this post.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class

A few days back I wrote UMass Lowell and Strategic Management and what a pleasure it was to meet with the students and learn what they were doing (creating online videos to market UMass Lowell to prospective students).

Imagine my pleasure when one of the students emailed me her thanks!

The student, Robyn, wrote:

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come to our Strategic Management class. It was great to hear an outsider’s point of view on our project. You gave us many great insights like the idea placing two people in one shot to show a sense of belongingness. Also researching into the local concert arenas to find up coming events, this is much more compelling. My group, The Usual Suspects, has already been working on a way to put them into our video. Once again thank you and I hope to have the chance to learn from you again!

Let me write again that I was very impressed by all the student videos. They handled my critiques well. As I told them, “I’m talking to you as I would a client who asked us to come in and help them.” The students took my critiques far better than some clients do and (I’m sure) far better than I would have under similar circumstances.

These students are people to watch. Companies should be talking with them now because they won’t stay on the job market long with the skills they displayed in that class.

Other readers of this blog and my IMediaConnection column have written to let me know that my work is must reading or research for their ecommerce, design and media strategies classes. I’m flattered!

Please feel free to contact NextStage (we’re on LinkedIn, Twitter and Skype) if you’d like one of us to visit your class. We learn as much from these experiences as the students involved.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jessica

I’ve received several emails from UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management class students since my visit, which I documented in some previous posts. I’m going to be sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

First up, this from Jessica…

Thank you for taking the time to meet with my Strategic Management class. Your knowledge and insight provided me with a great learning experience that will help my team and I kaizen our videos. I learned that intimacy is the key to social structure, two people in a video creates interaction (which then produces intimacy) and interest is captured by telling people what’s going to happen, not what already happened. I hope I will have another chance to learn from you in the future.

The pleasure was mine, Jessica, and I hope we have an opportunity to learn from each other again, as well.

Remember that the “two people” rule applied to the video we were discussing. I think I mentioned to another class that a single narrator can also imply intimacy by how they talk to the camera, and also if there’s an offscreen “someone” the narrator is talking to. This offscreen someone can respond to the narrator with small words (“yeah”, “uh-huh”, “right”) and be the viewer’s surrogate. This gives the viewer cues as to how they should be responding to the material, as well.

Again, thanks to the class and more to follow.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Chad

This is another student email from UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management class. I’m going to be sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

This time, from Chad…

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in our Strategic Management workshop.  All your suggestions and ideas were really helpful, and I really feel that our group has a better understanding of what we are aiming to accomplish with this project. I hope you enjoyed yourself and I hope I am lucky enough to learn from you again soon. Thanks for everything.

As written before, the pleasure was mine. I do hope that readers of this blog who are potential employers of these students are taking notice. These students are learning a multitude of marketing and production skills which will serve them well as Web 2.0 marketing and advertising comes forward.

Again, thanks to the class and more to follow.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Julianne

This post is from Julianne, a student in UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management class. I’m sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

My name is Julianne and I am a senior at UMass Lowell, majoring in management and marketing. I am in Dr. Moser’s 2:30 Strategic Management class and I wanted to thank you for taking the time to visit with us.

I thought your anecdotes provided very critical information for improving our videos – just because they are well edited doesn’t mean they are going to get the job done. My group has already started thinking of new video ideas and we’re going to leave the editing for when we absolutely need it.

If you have the time, I would love for you to visit the class again. We will be creating videos for the rest of the semester – I’m sure there will be points along the way where your feedback would be very important.

Thank you again for visiting our class. I was a true pelasure and a wonderful learning experience.

My pleasure, Julianne.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jonroy

This post is from Jonroy, one of the UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students. I’m sharing the students’ emails and encouraging them to post on my blog in order to get some attention for what they’re doing.

I appreciate you taking the time to educate our class on Thursday.  It is always good to get feedback from a third party. It reaffirms the trust we have in Professor Moser.  Your input has helped me to improve our project, and help my group move in the right direction.  I look forward to your next visit.

My pleasure, Jonroy.

Some of the students have sent me links to their projects which I’ll be sharing in future posts. Stay tuned.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – James

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in our Strategic Management workshop.  All your suggestions and ideas were really helpful, and I really feel that our group has a better understanding of what we are aiming to accomplish with this project. I hope you enjoyed yourself and I hope I am lucky enough to learn from you again soon. Thanks for everything.

As written before, the pleasure was mine. I do hope that readers of this blog who are potential employers of these students are taking notice. These students are learning a multitude of marketing and production skills which will serve them well as Web 2.0 marketing and advertising comes forward.

Again, thanks to the class and more to follow.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Vishesh

I’m continuing with the emails from UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students in the hopes of bringing them and their work some attention. Readers interested in their work or getting in touch with the students should either email me directly or post a comment here. I’ll be sure to pass things along in either case.

Vishesh writes:

I would like to thank you for taking out time from your busy schedule and attending our Strategic Management class on Thursday. I could gather from your conversation towards our class, that you are an astute observer. I guess that’s one of the qualities you have to posses when you are in a competitive field like marketing&research.
“I would also captivated by the concept of straight line (between the consumers and the producers) which was mentioned by you, how to advertise your product to the right consumer in the shortest possible way (without deviation).

“Your comments on our presentation were very encouraging and that will help us kaizen our product for our final consumers. For example, you mentioned that we should have shown students eating in a restaurant and not just engaging in a conversation, I think that makes the video more compelling and adds to the creditability of the video.

“The same concept has been emphasized by Prof. Moser several times in class.

I had a chance to review some of your links like Improve Website Performance and Online Sales Increase [[these papers are available to NextStage Members]] and I found those to be interesting and spend some more time on those links as that that could be a benchmark for our final product (Space 2). I would like to thank you again and hope to see you see you again in one of our classes.

No problem, Vishesh. Happy to help.

Vishesh’s comment about the “straight line between consumers and producers has to do with making sure the consumer (a website visitor, for example) has the straightest, cleanest possible path between finding the product they want and purchasing the product. In other words, once you’ve identified a prospect as being in the buying cycle, remove all distractions from helping them achieve their goal of purchasing the product.

A direct application of this is knowing your target audience well enough to ensure correct product placement. Doing so insures the correct audience being both branded by the product and impacted enough to act upon the information presented.

The comment about eating has to do with visually showing a credible event. I.E., if you have people in a restaurant, somebody has to be eating, food has to be being served, waitstaff have to be moving around, people have to be at the counter ordering, … something has to be going on in either fore- or back-ground so that the sense of the place is transmitted to the audience. Showing people simply talking with no other activity doesn’t have as much impact. The moral is, whenever you show people at some specific place, something has to be going on indicative of that place so that the viewer has context within which to understand the conversation or events going on.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Astrid, Demonstrating Reasons to be Interested

This post is an email from Astrid, a UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management student.

Astrid writes:

I would just like to thank you for attending my Strategic Management class last Thursday at 2:30pm. Your insights and advice on our video clips was very helpful and now I have a better understanding to as how to kaizen our clips for the project.

For example, I now understand that we cannot simply mention the name of a place and expect High school students to know what we mean. We need to strip the name and be more specific as to simply say that UML has baseball to offer rather than say LeLacheur park. This is one of many of your insights that I will use to Kaizen our project. Once again, thank you, and I hope to have the opportunity to receive your expertise again.

Very good, Astrid.

What this deals with is cultural consciousness. Any institution or brand will have its own culture and much about that institution or brand is known to everyone in that culture, hence “cultural consciousness.”

Convincing people to participate in that institution or brand involves giving them a reason — something they understand from their present cultural vantage point — and demonstrating that its available to them from the new cultural vantage point.

People (as a rule) are resistant to change. Doing something like this — showing familiarity and known — goes a long way to helping people through “change” situations. This is true if they’re experiencing change in their friends, family, work, environment, whatever.

Nicely done, Astrid. Good work.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jaimes, Put Action Onscreen to Demonstrate Community and Belonging

This post is from Jaimes, one of UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students.

Jaimes writes:

Thank you very much for taking time out of your schedule to come in to our Strategic Management class last Thursday. Your critique of our video (to make sure there are people in the background) really helped us. We certainly are much better off having learned from your insights. I hope to possibly see you again.

My pleasure, Jaimes.

One of the purposes of the videos these students are creating is to show potential students that a community — a “belonging” — exists at UMass Lowell. An easy way to show this is to have people doing something in the background of their videos. This background action shouldn’t be distracting, only demonstrative. For example, have people walking in groups, laughing, smiling, or talking intently yet in a friendly way. “Belonging” and a sense of community stem from people believing they’re providing worth to the community.

Nicely done, Jaimes.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Saroeung, 3 Seconds Applies to Video, too

Saroeung, one of the UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students, already posted a comment to [[sorry, the comment’s lost]] Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jonroy. I responded there that I’d be getting to her email soon and here it is.

Your visit to our Strategic class on Thursday has taught us a lot about the important elements of an effective video. In order for our video to capture the students’ mind we have to weigh the time and tone of the speaker very carefully in which for the first couple of seconds the students will be connected with the message we’re trying to say, thus drawing a straight line with the audience.

Furthermore, your article on “You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds” advised us on the importance of how far we would go in order to know our consumer, which of course psychology comes in handy.

Thank you for attending our class and we hope to see you again in the near future.

No problem, Saroeung.

Saroeung is correct. The first moments of interaction, whether in video, brochures, websites, whatever the marketing material is, is crucial. This is something I’ll be covering in more detail in my Quantifying and Optimizing the Human Side of Online Marketing [[[[these presentations are available to NextStage Members]] presentation at the San Francisco Emetrics Summit in May ’07.

One of the ways to insure interaction between marketing material and target audience is, as Saroeung writes, to make sure the tone of the material — in this case, the video’s narrator — matches the tone normally used by the target audience and matching the pacing (“time”) of the material to match the normal cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational matrix of the target audience.

Very good, Saroeung. I hope to see you folks again soon, too.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Chau, Don’t Stage a FoodFight Unless it Gets Your Message Across

Chau is one of the UMass Lowell‘s Strategic Management students. Chau wrote:

It was unfortunate that I couldn’t make it to the meeting on Thursday. I’m one of the people that was responsible for the filming and putting the videos together. I tried my best to make the videos convey what my group were thinking since I’m the IT department, sort of.

One of the things that my group mentioned to me was that in our video of FOOD, you said that someone needs to be eating. Looking back, I notice that no one was actually eating and the restaurant was just us. I will take it into consideration to add all those missing elements in our next video. We actually had all those clips, but didn’t use them thinking they weren’t important. Thank you for attending my Strategic Management class and I hope I get a second chance to meet you.

My pleasure, Chau.

I wrote about implying action and community in a restaurant setting in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jaimes, Put Action Onscreen to Demonstrate Community and Belonging.

Regardless of what got into the video and what didn’t, you’re learning how to make things better and that’s what’s important. Even if people aren’t eating in a restaurant, something has to be happening with food to give viewers a sense of the place. I’m not suggesting you stage a foodfight, just letting you know that food needs to be in there somehow.

Talk to you later, Chau.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Jeff Attract and Stick

Jeff is one of the UMass Lowell's Strategic Management students. Jeff wrote:

Thank you again for taking time to visit my Strategic Management class. Your critiques and ideas about our Downtown Lowell video were much appreciated. I really liked your idea of using a think, attract, and stick approach for marketing. Your visit will definitely improve the quality of our project.
In the future I hope to have the opportunity to work with you again.

I hope so, too, Jeff.

Jeff's reference to attract and stick comes from a discussion about how to make online videos and other marketing material attract the correct audience and then insure that the correct audience will stick to the material (not move on to a competitor's material or site).

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Michael, Paying Attention to Your Audience

One of the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Michael, wrote me a few paragraphs which I share here. I’m very impressed by his email and has nothing to do with what he actually wrote so much as the link he included at the end of his email.

Prospective employers, take note:

THANK YOU.
I greatly appreciate your willingness to share your time and expertise with us. It has not only illuminated my understanding of our project but also of my career and business in general.

I asked you during class about the makings of a credible script. Your insights of how movie actors are merely given direction and goals and then just “go with it” and that a two hour hollywood movie can be created from only 93 pages of script hit me right between the eyes.

THE IMPACT
Within an hour after our class, I came up with over 10 messages I realized my team’s video needed to obtain and over 30 interview questions to get us there, as well as some ‘non-acting’ artistic shots as well. My team will spilt up into three groups, each having a camera and take the campus by storm on Tuesday. Its amazing how much energy comes when you ‘get it.’ THANK YOU!
IN ADDITION
Thank you for the informational arbitrage opportunity you have allowed me through connecting me to your articles (note to readers: you can find the list of articles on UMass Lowell and Strategic Management). I enjoy the possibility of being one of the few ‘finance guys’ who is aware of your marketing research and what it will allow me to bring to my employers.

MORE THAN WORDS
I intend to express my appreciation by more than just saying thank you. I will seek to bring you business as I through referring colleges and future employers to your services and research. I hope to afford you more time for your research and less time for marketing, as you expressed in class.

What really impressed me was that Michael included a link to his homepage and resume.

Yes, I’m flattered by what Michael wrote, but I’m impressed that he included a link to his resume. Michael did something I encourage others to do when I give presentations on knowing your audience, pay attention to your audience if you want them to pay attention to you.

In this case, I mentioned that I find myself doing business development more and more and research less and less.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Matt, Michael, Daniel and Frank, Demonstrating Intimacy and Immediacy in Online Video

This post includes emails from four UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Matt, Michael, Daniel and Frank. We start with Matt:

I would like to thank you for taking interest in our Admissions project. Your views have helped my team kaizen our video to show more intimacy. Once again, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and I look forward to the possible opportunity to learn from you again.

Matt is going to make one of the classes’ videos available and I’ll include a link in a blog post shortly.
Now onto Michael, Daniel and Frank…

From Michael:

Thank you for taking the time to visit our Strategic Management class. I found your advice about the marketing aspect of our project to be very helpful. I look forward to learning from you again in the future.

From Daniel:

I want to thank you for taking the time to visit my Strategic Management class this past Thursday. Your advice about realism, intimacy, and especially gender specific marketing is invaluable. That information provided me with several ideas that will benefit not only our group, but the class as a whole. Thank you again and I look forward to learning from you in the near future.

And from Frank:

I wanted to thank you for attending our 2:30 Strategic Management class on March 22. Your professional insight into how our videos can be improved to better reach our target market was invaluable.
One key insight that I had overlooked was the importance of being intimate with the audience. I had originally thought that if you just had videos of a person being interviewed it would be boring to the audience. I had overlooked the fact that this can be used as a powerful way to lock in the viewer. It would be great if you could come back to view our finished product.

Demonstrating intimacy and it’s twin, immediacy, is a necessary part of convincing an audience that your product or service is a) what they need and b) important to them now. I’ve mentioned intimacy in previous posts in this thread.

I’ll be sharing methods for demonstrating intimacy and immediacy on my next visit to the class. Perhaps one of the students will video the session and we can post that here, too.

What do you say, students?

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Erik, Place Brands and Operational Branding

This post is based on an email from Erik, a UMass Lowell Strategic Management student. Erik wrote:

Thank you very much for taking time out of your day to to help us work on our myspace projects for admissions. Though your responses were not exactly what i was hoping for your insight on our dorm life video and its inability to create an intimate experience for the viewer will be very helpful in the final weeks of this project. Once these projects are ready for final submission it would be great, if you have the opportunity, to come back again and see our progress.

First, glad to be of help (I hope).

Second, what Erik is writing about is that his team produced a great video, but not a great video for their target audience. I suggested that his group keep the video they did produce on the back burner because (I’m sure) someday it’ll come in handy.

What this deals with is Place Brand and Operational Branding.

A Place Brand is traditionally “A place brand is tied to a geographic location. It uses classic marketing practices to establish a presence that reflects the values, language, ways of thinking and responding to information, etc., to create economic value. The ideal place brand reflects a geographic location’s cultural identity while separating itself from competitive products. This often goes beyond traditional branding concepts of logo and slogan.”

Whether Erik and the other students realize it or not, they’re doing place branding. The “place” their branding is the age-demographic of the UMass Lowell target audience.

Just so we’re clear on the concept, I’m not using “Place Brand” to mean branding UMass Lowell, I’m talking about the psychological place the age-specific demographic lives in. Recognizing conceptual spaces and psychological places are having meaning and (near) physical reality to a given audience is something NextStage often does for clients and I was happy to provide that insight to the UML students.

The other element (and here’s where Erik’s group was a little weak) was the operational branding elements of their video.

Operational branding is defined as “the process of consistently and accurately branding in the language and culture of the target audience while maintaining corporate strategy. Operational branding is the method of creating successful place brands.”

Operational branding often makes use of three elements:

  1. Know your audience (really well)
  2. Synchronize your place brand to what you know really well about your audience
  3. Engage alternate channels to create value in the place brand

My concern with Erik’s group’s video was in the second item above.

Again, it was a good video, I just questioned whether it was the best video for operational branding purposes.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Laura, Show Real Life Really Happening

This post is from UMass Lowell Strategic Management student Laura.
Laura wrote:

>Our group is grateful for your visit to our Strategic Management class. We took your pointers about editing the material in our video, and it was interesting to see your point of view about the tour of the rec center and actually showing the actions as we are talking about them. Your insights will be carried throughout the rest of the semester. We hope to see you again soon.

Again, glad to be of help.
Laura’s group’s video had a narrator describing what goes on in the rec center. Behind the narrator, completely unrehearsed and totally natural, were people doing rec centerish things; playing games badly, laughing, making fun of each other…being completely natural.

The goal of these videos is to demonstrate the UMass Lowell experience as a positive experience and true real life is the best way to do it.

Nicely done, Laura.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Christopher, Anjali, TeamKaizen and using what you’re learning to learn more. Good work and nicely done!

This post is from UMass Lowell Strategic Management student Laura.

Christopher wrote:

I’d like to take a minute to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to come and sit in for our class to give us feedback on our project. With the advice you gave to our team with keeping our videos intimate, we were able to come up with some great videos this afternoon. Again, thank you for your help, and I look forward to learning more from you through your blog.

Next is Anjali:

Thank you for taking the time to visit my Strategic Management class. Your thoughts have really got my group thinking. We are now considering a whole new direction for our videos based on your comments. I hope you will have a chance to look at our final products, we would be honored to have you share your knowledge and insight with us again.

And from TeamKaizen, the first video the class is letting me share and this blog’s first video from these students!

Good work, all!

I’m impressed by two things in this video thank you note and neither has to do with it being directed towards me. First, these students took the time to put it out there and second, they made use of what they’re learning to learn more. UMass Lowell has invited me back to work with these students again and I’m looking forward to it.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Joseph, William, Tension and Purpose

This post is from some more UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Joseph and William.

First up, Joseph:

I greatly appreciate your attending our class last week, it was great to hear about the different marketing techniques we can use to get our videos out to our prospects. I will also be sure to focus on keeping 2 people in the frame when we our taping to have some contrast between the actors. Please consider returning to our class (either to see our finished product or to gain more insight into the younger generation!) at some point this semester, it is always a beneficial experience to have professional insight into our endeavors.

Joseph’s comment about keeping two people in the frame deals with adding some “energy”, what is sometimes called “dramatic tension”, simply by the interaction and dialogue of two people who are directing their focus to a third person (the viewer) who’s completely external to the frame of reference (the video). The two people in the frame can be simply talking and their differences in presentation style will often be non-consciously picked up by people viewing the video as adding something to the presentation.

Next up, William:

I would like to extend my appreciation for taking the time to speak at my Strategic Management class. Your discussion regarding the discrepancies between management perception and public perception were of particular interest to me. I plan to utilize the concepts you elaborated on in my immediate and long-term futures. I hope to have the opportunity to learn from you again.

William’s reference to public versus management perception came from a discussion about how marketing perceives a product versus management’s intention for a product. Marketing has the difficult task of taking something serving a strategic purpose (management’s intention for a product, even a short term product, is to create long-term brand affinity) and making that product very “now-worthy” in the consumer’s mind.

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Michael, Ana and Taj, Cluster Production, Action and Intimacy

This post is from some more UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Michael, Ana and Taj.

First up, Michael:

Thanking you for taking the time sit in and discuss production/marketing issues with our Strategic Management class last Thursday. Your views and advice on “cluster production” were helpful for my team to determine which videos were effective and which videos fell short of the objective. I also found your real world examples of marketing to be educative, especially the bit about how marketing and managements perception of a product can differ and how that affects the final marketing pitch. I believe motion-picture media is an effective form of marketing, and your “John Q. Public” opinion was very valuable for our group’s video analysis. I hope our class has the opportunity to have an audience with you soon again in the future.

No problem, Michael. Glad to be of help. “Cluster production” is part of audience knowledgeable design and involves 1) a deep knowledge of the target audience followed by 2) a thematic, cross platform approach to marketing to that audience.

Next up, Ana:

I would like to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to attend our class meeting last Thursday. My team and I really appreciate the insight you gave us in kaizening our team project video. Your emphasis on the important role intimacy plays and the links you sent us have given us a better understanding on marketing strategically that I know will definitely benefit us in the future.
Hoping to have the opportunity to learn and get more feedback from you soon.

My pleasure, Ana. I’m looking forward to your next release.

And this from Taj:

Thank you for finding the the time to come and share your important insights with our Strategic Management class. Your comments about highlighting action concepts in Space two, changed the way my group is approaching the True Entertainment section. It would be great if you could check up on us later on in the semester, to see how well we have digested your views.

I’m looking forward to it!

More from this class to follow…

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Kimberly, Christian, Kelly and Charles

This post is from some more UMass Lowell Strategic Management students, Kimberly, Christian, Kelly and Charles.

First up, Kimberly:

Thank you for joining my Strategic Management class this past Thursday. Your thoughts and comments about our project have been very helpful. Your presence gave the class an even more real-world feel than normal and it pushes me to take the project more seriously. In past classes, my projects were designed to provide a new learning experience and receiving a good grade was the only drive to do well . However, this project will produce actual results that will benefit the university, so it was important for me to see the university taking it seriously as well.

Excellent realization, Kimberly. You should be proud of yourself.

Next up, Christian:

Thank you for taking time off from your schedule to visit my Strategic Management class. Your input throughout the class was extremely helpful and has already helped my group change the way we are filming our video. We found that the little details you pointed out are very important to the success of our video. Thank you again for taking the time to join us last week.

My pleasuere, Christian. Next comes Kelly:

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit my Strategic Management class at UMass Lowell on Thursday, March 29th. I appreciate that you are interested in helping us make our projects a success. It was a wonderful experience to hear your thoughts and insights.

“I was most interested to hear your thoughts on website construction. The target market for our project is high school juniors and seniors. They may not be interested in viewing a dull college website so we have to capture their interest in the first three seconds so that they stay on our page.

“Thank you again. I hope to have the opportunity to learn more from you again very soon. It was a pleasure.

Mine, too, Kelly. Excellent realizations about website design for your target audience. Very good! Now Charles:

Thank you for taking the time to visit my Strategic Management class. Your insights were very interesting, especially considering I am a marketing major and can learn from others experience. I’ve already come up with a few kaizens to our project. such things as intimacy, showing more then one person while taping, and trying to be as natural and unscripted as possible. They will definitely have a very positive impact our final deliverable. I hope to have the opportunity to learn from you again very soon.

You will, Charles. This week, in fact. See you Thursday.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Colleen’s Video

This post is from Colleen, a UMass Lowell Strategic Management student.

Colleen sent me a link to a video her group did. It’s a good piece of work on several counts. First, it gives a good sense of location and college atmosphere. The opening scenes can be made stronger by showing people walking around. This suggestion comes from knowing the target demographic likes the social aspects of college life (yes, I appreciate the irony of that statement given the past few days’ headlines).

The voiceover is good because it follows what’s happening “on screen” well. It can be made better by having the social aspects mentioned above also on screen and having the narrator’s voice commenting on that social aspect. The very act of doing so will tend to soften the voice and tone being presented.

Showing the action in the rec center is also good, again because the social aspect of college life is forefront. The killer scene is about 30 seconds in; someone’s being interviewed and someone walks behind them and, basically, acts like a college student. As they say in the Visa commercials, priceless.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – James and The Usual Suspect’s Video

This post is from James, a UMass Lowell Strategic Management student, and his “The Usual Suspects” team.

James sent me a link to the latest version of their video. Here’s his email to me. My response follows.

James writes:

This is James from Dr. Moser’s Strategic Management Class at 1 P.M.. I am looking forward to having you visit our class again tomorrow. I am not sure how much time we will have to show you our video so far, so here is the link. We have attempted to have at least two people in each scene, however due to the weather recently we have not been able to redo certain parts. There is still work that we need to do in perfecting the video, including adding the HTML links in the video, however we are currently working on eradicating the imperfections. See you tomorrow.

My response:

I’m sending this along to Dr. Gibson because we talked about just this aspect of promoting the school during our meeting today; a ‘video’ tour of what incoming students can expect. This comes very close. Those interviews are excellent and close to what I suggested to Dr. Gibson.

I also laughed my head off when the camera-person interrupted the narrator in the very first sequence with “This isn’t a dating video”!
EXCELLENT!
You folks are going to be teaching me things, I’m sure.
See you all tomorrow

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1

I had another opportunity to visit with UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. They continue to do good work. One of the discussion topics was separating the marketing and sales channels. Many organizations see these departments as the same. I admit that there’s some overlap and the boundary has always been fairly clear and clean to me.

I’ve always thought of marketing’s job as to get people to “look at the menu”. This might involve getting them in the door, inviting them to take a seat and describing what the restaurant’s about and what to expect, introducing your waitperson and things like that. That’s pretty much where I think marketing stops.

Likewise, I’ve always thought of sales as the talented waitperson who describes what’s on the menu and the specials the chef’s got in the kitchen, takes your order, makes sure that what you’re ordering is something you’re going to like, makes suggestions for rounding out the meal, makes sure it arrives just as you expected and follows up in case you need anything else.

Yes, there is some overlap and it’s still basically the pitch and the close. Anyway, with that in mind, the students decided to host their own site and provide all the content in order to take their project to the next step.

What follows is my email encouraging their decision. The rest of this arc will be the back and forth as they and I learn how to best promote UMass Lowell to potential students.

Okay, now your real-world work begins.

First, what’s the overall goal of this work?

Once you’ve established the overall goal of the work, how does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal? The YouTube site?

Which is your sales channel, which is your marketing channel?

Hint: Remember what I said
about the sales funnel? NextStage uses a much broader concept, The X Funnel (you can also read about sales funnels in Listening to and Seeing Searches). What part does each site play in your X Funnel?

I’d like to document your progress in my blog. BUT!!! that means the pressure is going to be on because people will be watching. If you’ve been on the NextStage Evolution site and read through our Principles, you know that I won’t knowingly put people in uncomfortable situations.

SO!!! I won’t document this effort unless you all want me to. Talk about this amongst yourselves and get back to me, preferably sooner rather than later.

Also, I’m going to start using some of the pictures you provided in your signature files on my blog and elsewhere. Let me know if you DON’T want me to use your pictures. I’ll use them unless I receive an email from you stating that I can’t.

And a last thing…I want you to know I listen to and learn from you, probably more than you might think. In the 2:30pm class (I think that was the one), we were talking about the game and one student and Dr. Moser provided some good reasons for not playing it as it was originally presented. Take a look at my signature file now and you’ll see that I’ve modified the advertising strategy.

See that? Old dogs can learn new tricks. Thanks to the class for teaching me something.

Joseph

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 2

This is part 2 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. Now we’ll start going over their answers.

1) what’s the overall goal of this work?
The goal of the piece our classes are contributing is “attraction”. Therefore, this class is working on the marketing part of the marketing and sales equation.

2) how does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
This website will be used a medium to influence the prospective students in a way they are aware of their needs: freedom and belongingness. The layout of the website will follow the sales funnel concept in which the less serious, credible videos will be placed on the top center of the page whereas the more serious videos will be at the lower right corner. (this suggestion came from using NextStage’s Ad Placement tool in the class and getting student feedback on the results) The main focus here is to grasp the visitors’ attention and have them stay on the website.

3)The YouTube site?
Our videos will be uploaded to YouTube and be accessible for all viewers. It’s a great tool we can use to put UML on the market for potential students.

Nicely done!

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 3

This is part 3 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. This is the second posting of answers.

3) The YouTube site?
youtube
is another advertising resource available to us, where we can
upload the videos we have worked on so far. You tube is more attractive
to people between the ages of 16-25 and our ” target market” market is in the initial stages of that age group.

4) Which is your sales channel?
Sales channel would just include trueuml.com
as this is the only site that we have control over i.e we can accept
quarries, answer questions and the content upload on this website would
be according to what we think is attractive to high school students.
With the help Mr. Carrabis
( and his website) i’m sure we will be able to capture the attention of these young minds.

5) which is your marketing channel?
Marketing channel would be be the place where we target the maximum amount of people that would have to be myspace, youtube and now a new addition trueuml.com.


Excellent answer to #5. Good work.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 4

This is part 4 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. This is the fourth posting of answers.

2) How does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
It is a place that our target audience can see unfiltered information about U Mass Lowell. I’ll accept that and it’s best to understand the concept of branding at this point. It’s true, the target audience can see unfiltered information about UML. This means they’ll be able to find information you aren’t sponsoring. How can you make sure your target audience knows they’re getting your branded information and not a competitor’s?

3) The YouTube site?
you Tube is going to allow us to link the raw footage that we have to our site. By doing this, our potential students can see first hand the atmosphere and sentiment about the school. Very good.

4) Which is your sales channel?

I believe our sales channels are our MySpace page and TrueUml.com website. With these two sites working hand in hand, it should be a very efficient way to attract students. Very good. I know you can control the content on TrueUML and that means you can do all your own branding there. How much control will you have of the MySpace look, feel, content, branding, etc? Hint: Think of which direction you want people to travel; MySpace to TrueUML or TrueUML to MySpace? Where do you want visitors to spend the bulk of their time?

5) which is your marketing channel?
Our marketing channels are the sites that are most often visited by out target audience. MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and such. Brilliant and very good.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 5

This is part 5 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students about a week ago. I shared some questions I asked them in Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 1. This is the fifth posting of answers and we start with a little dissent.

2) how does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
I personally don’t think the TrueUML site will have THAT much of an effect since it will have pretty much the same contents as our MySpace. I’m sure we are not going to do anything different. Maybe if we redirect TrueUML site to the MySpace page, then I think that’s okay. TrueUML.com is definitely easier to remember than www.myspace.com/trueuml. I agree that if the two sites have much the same content, one is superfluous. A question, then, is “Should the two sites have the same content?”

3)The YouTube site?
Now this I think is the best way to get exposure since they get so many hits a day. I’ve seen people as old as 60 doing a video blog and kids as young as 7 acting goofy on cam. Also, instead of doing a text blog on MySpace, we can do video blog. All you need is a webcam. There are so many different markets here that we can target. Easiest way for people to find our videos is to make our keywords/tags short and precise. We can copy the link or embed the html code onto forums websites. Again, I agree. YouTube will get much more traffic in general than TrueUML. I think the difference is in what kind of traffic each site will get. YouTube is the mall, TrueUML is a store in the mall. So this leads to another question, me thinks, “How can we get people walking through the mall to come into our store?”

Excellent points leading to more questions. Good work and nicely done.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 6 and How a Class learns

This is part 6 in an arc based on my last visit with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students. Because I entered their strategizing late my questions caused some confusion. This can also happen in business situations where a consulting organization is brought in after a project is done and is one of the reasons NextStage always works to be involved at the start of a project.

That offered, it’s exciting when such a situation exists and the players are able to incorporate the new tools the consulting group brings. An example of that is in this post. One group of students asked a question and another student was able to answer it.

The question:

This is James from your 1PM Strategic Management class. There is a little confusion between our group members about the TrueUML site. What is the purpose of this site? Is this to serve as the Space 3? The URL the 1PM class chose for the myspace site is http://www.myspace.com/umasspace. If it is to serve as the space three, is this something that the admissions people will be working on to develop and they will be directed as what to include on the site? Also how did You Tube become one of Joseph’s questions? Correct me if i am wrong but i thought You Tube had nothing to do with our Space 2 except as a third party video hosting service provider. Thank you for your time.

This is an excellent question. Disregard the project specific jargon and notice that the question really is about clarifying the project objective; did the project goal and milestones change when the student wasn’t looking? James, the student, and his group are putting themselves in a truth to power situation. I hope they can continue to do so after graduation when they’re in a work environment.

The answer (also from a student):

I am a little confused myself now that you brought it up. But after reading other student’s email I have a picture that space 2 is myspace website and space 3 can be trueUML website. Our videos focus on the theme of space 2 and they are informal so these videos should be placed on myspace page. With limited time we can only focus on finishing up space 2.

About Mr. Carrabis mentioning youtube, I think he saw some of us using this website to present our videos so maybe he just wanted to make sure we understand what kind of marketing tool we’re dealing with and know how to distinguish the function each has in our overall project. Then again, he might see some potential strategy which might helps us with the project.

First thing, students, always assume Mr. Carrabis is just as much in the dark as you are.

This student’s ability to take information — confusing information — and synthesize a working concept that will further their project and get them closer to their goal is to be both honored and commended. Also note that this student is beginning to incorporate a “marketing” concept into their project.

These students are learning and learning rapidly. They are integrating outside and possibly confusing information in order to perfect their project and give it more legs than it might have had otherwise.

Any businesses out there, you can find these students in Dr. Moser’s UMass Lowell Strategic Management classes.

Notes from UML’s Strategic Management Class – Q&A, Part 7

I’m still posting about my Q&A’s with the UMass Lowell Strategic Management students. I’ll admit to my fascination watching these students learn.

This is from one student:

3)The YouTube site?
The youtube site offers the prospective students a chance to see what UML offers through firsthand accounts of the current students.

Very good.

4) Which is your sales channel, 5) which is your marketing channel?
I
believe that the marketing channel would be the myspace site because that is what we are using to entice students to click further onto the TrueUML site to seal the deal.

Again, very good. Think of the sales funnel (seems you are, anyway).

And from another student:

2) How does/will the TrueUML site contribute to meeting that goal?
The TrueUML site will be a great asset that will allow us to impliment our ideas and to convey to high school juniors and seniors the sense of ‘freedom’ and ‘belonging’ that college students have. We will get our message out through picture slideshows and amateur videos.

3)The YouTube site?
The YouTube site is a great place for us to upload our videos and get them on the web. Not only will YouTube help us display our videos on our website, but it will also allow people not familiar with TrueUML.com to see our videos via YouTube’s website. It may be a smart idea to put a link to our TrueUML website in the description of our videos to give the website more exposure.

4) Which is your sales channel?
Our sales channel would be TrueUML, mainly because we are not limited as to what we can do with the website and we have complete control.

5.) Which is yourmarketing channel?

Our marketing channel would be Myspace and YouTube, since these two website are extremely popular with our target market. We can use these sites to divert people to the TrueUML website .

I’ve often thought the role of higher education is to provide both theory and real-world applications side by side. As I wrote above, these students are impressing me with how rapidly they’re taking what they learn in class and applying it to a real marketing problem.

Links for these posts:


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“3 Rules for Creating Buzz” now on IMediaConnection

I often think that a long weekend means rest. Anybody besides me discover that a long weekend means others make plans for you, plans that sometimes get in the way of rest?

I meant to post a pointer to my latest IMedia column, 3 Rules for Creating Buzz, on Friday when it came out. Friday, though, was a short day so I never got around to it. Saturday and Sunday I spent kite-flying and at cookouts. Today, while no one else is up, I have a moment to post.

I’ve already received emails about the column and I’ll be sharing those comments in later blog posts. I’d do it now but I’m not sitting at my usual computer so I don’t have access to those emails.

What I do remember sharing with one reader is that the three elements listed in the IMedia column were chosen because they really leapt out of the research NextStage did and were easiest to describe. NextStage conducted better than two years of research into viral marketing (WOM or “Word-of-Mouth”) and, after compiling the data, we have five pages of bullet points. That’s just the bullet points, not the corroborating material, just the bullet points!

For those with an interest, AllBusiness.com will be doing a podcast with me about WOM. I’ll put some pointers in this blog when it goes live.

For those of you with an interest in some simple, quick things to do with your viral and WOM campaigns, enjoy 3 Rules for Creating Buzz and let me know what you think.


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The Complete “Conversations with the Past” Arc

Note: this post contains the complete 11 part arc. There is so much irony in this arc, reading it now…

Conversations with the Past, Part 1

Someone sent me a link to a nine year old article by Chris Locke, Faster Horses!. I found the article a good read and contacted Mr. Locke to ask if he’d allow me to quote from his article as part of a blog arc on conversations with the past.

Faster Horses! is nine years old. That’s like finding something from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt in internet time [[(considering how old some of the things we’re posting here, nine years is nothing)]]. Of course, nothing ever goes away on the internet [[(sadly, this is not the case. The old BizMediaScience blog is a case in point as are several other inactive links we’ve found while transferring this content)]], so time and history are becoming both merged and irrelevant in interesting ways.

kmmad

I found Faster Horses! a fascinating read, truly a Nothing New Under the Sun bit of writing in several ways. I thought it might be interesting to take Chris Locke’s article and use it as one side of a conversation, just to see if things really have changed. To make things a little easier to read, Mr. Locke’s article will be in standard text, my responses in italics.

Okay, here goes…

Why the h?ll did I wake up at 2am this morning?

You do that, too?

And what am I asking you for?

Oh, I get asked things like that quite a bit. Not really sure why. Have you ever read Wide Awake at 3: 00 A.M.: By Choice or by Chance. It might provide a clue.

What I need is a kind of cosmic magic 8-ball site that can actually answer questions like these with — if not genuinely penetrating insight — at least a little wit and panache.

God, wouldn’t that be great?

Perhaps this is somehow related to the inspiration that woke me up two nights ago. I fell asleep thinking about doing an issue of EGR called “What Consumers Really Want” and I suddenly sat bolt upright in bed with that sort of Eureka flash that comes far too seldom these days. What had yanked me out of blissful sleep was the arresting meme: foxier women, faster horses.

You’ve got my attention. Do tell…

Conversations with the Past, Part 2

Now even I recognize that at least the first part of this represents a sexist notion at base — though if we are to believe Freud, we have to acknowledge that people do, on however rare occasion, actually think about sex, and that the dreams one might have in the privacy of one’s own personal bed are a good place for this sort of thing and nobody else’s bloody business. But you write it down and send it to 2000 people and that line of defense is suddenly missing in action.

I think that’s one of the reasons I tend to conservatism in my public writing. Then again, some of my recent posts have blown that theory all to h?ll, so what the heck?

So I played around with it a little. What about faster women, foxier horses? Possibilities there, true, but I felt it lost something in the translation. This went on for a while until the inevitable question occurred: WHAT AM I F?CKING THINKING?!?!?

You know, at a convention I attended recently, some people said I made them nervous because they knew I knew more about what they were thinking than they did. The missing piece in all this is that I usually don’t care what people are thinking because, like yourself, I’m too busy figuring out what I’m thinking.

For isn’t it the sad fact that most of us, most of the time, simply do not know? These thoughts come into our minds. Where do they come from? Where do they go? Some have theorized that it could be something we ate. Sardines, say. But do any of us really believe this? For example, what if I were to dream about e-commerce? What would I have to eat to cause that?

According to Bob Page, “I’m sure Joseph could say!” But the truth is and as I noted above, I really don’t know.

Conversations with the Past, Part 3

A reader recently wrote to complain about EGR, not an infrequent occurrence by the way.

I don’t get complaints on my blog. Unless you count “Could you explain more about…”.

She basically said my writing was too abstract, …

That I get. I’m working to be less so. Time will tell.

…though she didn’t use that word. She said it more by way of description. What she liked hearing about was what somebody had done — maybe gone to the zoo and seen an interesting new kind of animal (my example, not hers) — what he or she said to friends, and what they said back. You know, like real life.

You mean as in ‘case studies’?

I wrote back saying yes, I understood (and I really do), but my life is not like that. What I do all day and night is stare into the one good eye of this cyclopean monster we call the Internet. I earn my living this way.

Ah. Here our lives are very different. I don’t spend much of my day actually looking at the internet per se. I documented this in Took some time off, time to catch up

And it’s not just the staring I get paid for, either. You think it’s easy maintaining the fiction that you’re a guru, a pundit, someone who knows more about The Medium than your average stumblebum on the street?

Hmm…I generally make it a point to let people know I don’t consider myself an expert…on much of anything.

No way. I have to constantly think up new analogies, metaphors, emergent trends, shit like that. And make no mistake, this is hard f?cking work.

Agreed.

Especially when you’re just pulling it out of your hat.

That makes me smile. I was being interviewed recently and the subject was viral campaigns. The interviewer said it sounded like I was making things up as I went. Well, I was making up the metaphors as I went and it wasn’t easy compressing 2+ years of research into a ten second soundbyte.

But perhaps that reader was right. Perhaps a more interactive human exchange would better convey my point. So OK, I have this big meeting with a large and very well heeled corporation. I am thinking they can feed me for a long time. They, in turn, are thinking I plan to cheat them out of a large sum of money. In other words, your usual prospect meeting.

The confrontational model? Nah, I know it gets better.

Conversations with the Past, Part 4

As it turns out, the CEO is a woman. She is trying to pretend that this is, you know, normal, and I am trying to pretend I’m not scared sh?tless of her. Just two consenting business pukes doing our jobs. Meanwhile, there are about a dozen underlings scattered around a conference table you could play football on, all of them doing a fair job of convincing me they’re really quite important in their own unique way. Probably true. I’m not here to judge.


Well, uh, okay. I appreciate the hyperbole. And I have been in meetings with my friend, [[KBar]], in which he passed me a note “Will somebody please reboot the clue server?” That line about “…all of them doing a fair job of convincing me they’re really quite important…” makes me chuckle.

Anyway, the CEO wastes no time getting down to brass tacks. “So what do consumers really want?” she asks.

Ah, yes. I’ve heard that asked in many ways at different times in many places.

Sh?t, I dunno. I got nothin here. I panic. Am I really supposed to know the answer to this? How come nobody told me? Oh wait, I know! But seeing as how she’s a woman and all, I figure I better just give her the second half.

I never spare that second half thing. If they ask and I’m there on their nickel, they get it all.

“Faster horses,” I say with Total Confidence.

I don’t remember you introducing Total Confidence. When did they come into the room?

Across the room, someone drops a pin. Everybody hears it. They are all staring at me, dumbfounded.

Maybe Total Confidence dropped the pin?

“You can’t be serious,” she finally says. I’m thinking: how did she know?

I get that a lot, too.

“No, really. Faster horses.” I’m sticking to my guns on this one.

Good for you. And?

“Do you have any notion of our market?” she asks, I figure rhetorically. She isn’t really looking what you’d call “swayed” by my argument. “Most of our customers have never even seen a horse! For this you want us to pay you ten thousand dollars?”

Wait a second. US$10,000? And this is from nine (9) years ago? I’ve got to up my rates.

Right about then I’m thinking you can keep your money, where’s the f?cking exit? But then I remember that I am, after all, a Professional.

I never make that mistake.

“It’s a metaphor,” I say. That always gets em. And indeed, everyone sorta sits up a little and a few tentatively pick up pens, as if to give the impression that, if they were to hear anything potentially profound at this juncture, they might just be inclined to make a note or two.

You forgot to add that they all start to look at you expectorantly.

I’m racking my brain. J?s?s, how did I manage to get myself into this? Horses, horses, let’s see… But nothing’s coming to me.

Yes, but this is what they pay you the big bucks for, me the medium-sized bucks.

“Are you implying,” ventures one particularly unctuous minion, “that the speed of online transactions gates our ability to deliver total customer satisfaction?”

Okay. You got me. I’m rolling on the floor. This is another one of those things I’ve heard different ways at different times in different places.

Say what? Bad as the horses were, this is worse. I have no f?cking idea what he’s talking about.

Fortunately, neither does he nor does anyone else in the room. But by cracky, he’s got that “convincing me they’re really quite important in their own unique way” thing down, though, doesn’t he?

“…well sure, that, but also the whole Portal thing…” I say, as if, yes, yes, it’s coming to me now… Pens are poised.

Conversations with the Past, Part 5

“You see, what consumers really want is a place in the universe. A home. A feeling that they belong somewhere. They long to come in out of the cold — from the harsh realities of nomadic late-20th-century anti-intellectualism to the warm embrace of prefabricated purport.”

Ah. You read my Sizzle? post.

Oooh. This could be working. I see puzzlement, but it’s tinged with willing suspension of disbelief. A little anyway. OK, here’s where all those wasted years of writing EGR could come in handy.

Okay. Now my pen is poised…

“Consumers are like newborn infants,” I say, warming to it. “They wake up in mediaspace one day and don’t know how they got there, where they came from.” People are writing now. Hot damn!

Go on.

“What do you mean exactly by ‘mediaspace’?” one fetching young thing wants to know. She is so fresh and enthusiastic and her blouse is so demure. I nearly get sidetracked into unfathomable lust. But no, I must keep my mind on The Client here…

Hmm. It’s been so long since I’ve side-tracked that way.

Conversations with the Past, Part 6

“Mediaspace is that concatenation of Weltanschauung, Zeitgeist and communication bandwidth that provides new opportunities for wealth creation at any given historical juncture,” I orate. “It is the constellation of unbridled desire conjunct with the potential for ultimate fulfillment.”

Dogbert consulting - Click for larger image

This sounds like a Dilbert cartoon KBar sent me once. I even used part of the cartoon in my quotes list. “Incentivize the resources to grow your bandwidth to your end-state vision.” and “Don’t open the kimono until you ping the change agent for a brain dump and drill down to your core competencies.” – Dogbert, while committing consult and blabbery.

Heads nod knowingly around the table. Finally I am in my element: total bullsh?t.

At Dogbert or at your bullsh?t?.

“But what does this have to do with horses?” some ?sshole demands. There’s one in every meeting. But I’m ready for him this time.

A horse or an a-hole?

“Note that I said ‘unbridled desire’ — do you know anything about horses?” I ask, snottily.

My wife’s a gifted equestrian. I use horse metaphors quite a bit myself. Does that count?

Conversations with the Past, Part 7

I think I see what you’re saying,” some other besuited weasel chimes in, saving my bacon. “It’s like we need to liberate people from their repressed desires so they don’t feel guilty about making what are essentially unnecessary purchases.”

Ooh…and ouch.

“Precisely!” I thunder, striking the table with surprising force and causing several people to jump half out of their seats and spill coffee down their fronts. “Get more stuff!” Nevermind that I lifted the line from R. Crumb. No one here is likely to call me on that score.

R. Crumb? I’m no out of things.

“Look,” I say, demonstrating great patience, as if dealing with witless children, “it’s really quite simple.” But I know where I’m going with this now, and it’ll be anything but.

This is really beginning to sound like soooo many meetings I took part in in large corporations. I wasn’t giving the presentation, mind you, just participating. That usually meant I was listening. I gave an example in Visualizing…what?.

“Before people become consumers, what are they? Just plain vanilla human beings, right? Confused, bewildered, horny for something, but they don’t know what. They wander aimlessly through life filling their basic needs, sure, but suspecting that there must be something else. Some larger plan and object to it all. And that’s where you come in. The invention of purpose is a gift to humanity, an invaluable offering in the great potlatch of commercial intercourse. Semantic complexity enriches the social fabric, empowers the body politic, ennobles the spirit, enlivens the soul…”

Conversations with the Past, Part 8

{Perhaps the lesson for me in this exercise is to share more of my inner workings with my readers?}

“Are you seriously suggesting…”

{No, don’t worry. I don’t think anybody’s prepared for that. Especially not me.}

“I’m not suggesting anything!” I interrupt back, having no idea what the guy was going to say, but not liking the sound of that “seriously” bit. “I’m telling you! People will kill for meaning in their lives. Not finding any after so many years, they’ll naturally be grateful for any scrap of direction you can provide. Take all these people you see walking around in expensive t-shirts covered with advertising slogans. And they pay for the privilege. You can make these people do anything you want!”

This, I agree, is true. Perhaps even more so now than it was nine years ago when you wrote this, Mr. Locke. I see people’s frustrations at being less and less in control of their lives playing itself out in many, many ways.

I’ve got them now, I can tell. Time for a little personalized relevancy, I’m thinking. “Not that it matters much, but what is it that you folks sell again?”

Boy, and I was always told to research the client before engaging with them. I think this is one reason that our first meeting with prospects is always what we call “The Learning”. We go in and let them talk and talk and talk. Somewhere in there we learn what their challenges really are and if they’re really willing to let anyone else address them. KBar had the philosophy “If you can’t Bedazzle them with Brilliance then Baffle them with Bullsh?t”. I could never really get that to work for me. I always ended up laughing at myself, despite WindKiller’s suggestion to feed the demon.

Conversations with the Past, Part 9

“We produce a suite of collaborative software tools that enable productive group interaction and deliver cost-effective bottom-line results.” Mother of God, where do they get these talking mannequins?

My gut level response is that they get them from every business school in the country. Fortunately, I’ve been exposed to the students at UMass Lowell so I know that’s not necessarily the case.

“Well then, there you go!” Before the obvious pleasure of the assembled at this entirely pointless interjection can evaporate, I quickly continue. “So that means you’re competing against Lotus Notes, right?”

I remember them. Aren’t they still around but as something else? {Yes, this is nine years old, dear readers.}

“That’s correct.”

Thanks. {Thought so.}

“You should be hugely successful then. That stuff is dog sh?t.” A new warmth circulates about the table and I am gently folded into it. I am being accepted as One of Their Own.

I knew people who made entire careers out of being able to program in ‘Notes. I remember thinking “You need to program email?”

There is more discussion after that, but I can’t remember anything that was said, so vast is my relief at having lived through the pitch. Which, by the way, was accepted in toto. What would I actually do for the ten grand? Oh, this and that. Advise. Shepherd their dull ideas toward some vague notion of success. “That’s great, Frank. No, I really like it. Seriously.”

Conversations with the Past, Part 10

This is something else I’ve seen done repeatedly in consulting engagements, get the client to redefine their definition of success so that whatever the consultant does is deemed “a success”. It’s right up there with “It will ship and it will be a success” as one my pet peeves. Guess I’ll have to get back to that Thoughts on Building a Business blog arc soon…

“Faster horses!” Frank practically shouts into my face, high-fiving me with incredible we-get-the-joke-now joviality. A few months later it’s become a kind of war cry for the poor b?stards. They think it’s the key to some secret knowledge I imparted. “Right on!” I say, and “Killer!” I say, and “Hit one outta the park!”

Yes, I’ve often noticed that enthusiasm is a great motivator. I was once told — long before NextStage was even an idea we talked about over beers — that I didn’t get a consulting job because I didn’t show “the proper level of enthusiasm” for the project I would have been consulting on.

Consulting. Man, what a racket. Why didn’t I figure this out years ago? But I almost feel unclean for doing it. I almost feel guilty. Not for taking their money. That’s just manifest destiny. No, sometimes I feel terrible because I think maybe I really am helping these clueless f?ckers to rape the rest of us. Giving them some empty-headed motivational excuse to weld all that avarice into an effective weapon that will make us all salivate for spiffier software or snappier net connections or the latest breakfast cereal breakthrough.

Ah, well. We have our Principles and people like CDFW, Sweetness, WindKiller, Stonewall and others to keep us in line.

Conversations with the Past, Finale

But what have I done, really? Tell them that people are confused and lonely, stranded in their lives, burned out and breaking under the strain of an insane commercial culture run utterly amok? This is news?

“Never underestimate the power of dim”, I was once told.

It’s what I don’t tell them that let’s me sleep at night. Which is that even terminal confusion is a thousand times better than spiritual enslavement, and that I am beginning to see people — some people anyway — waking up from the long bad Night of the Undead Advertisers. No matter how slick the shtick, they wouldn’t buy any of this crap if their lives depended on it, which of course they do not.

Agreed.

“Hey Beavis, I been thinkin…”

“Yeah, Butthead?”

“Let’s get us some collaborative groupware.”

“Yeah! Heh-heh.”

“Yeah! Heh-heh.”

“Yeah-yeah! Heh-heh. Heh-heh. Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.”

Wow. Beavis and Butthead. Never got into those…


Okay, so what have I learned from this exercise?

That while I appreciate cynicism in an article, I’m not any good at it.

That I need to up my rates.

I think the real learning for me goes back to too much information, too little bandwidth, something addressed in the Responding to Frequent Reader and Brad blog arc. As I wrote previously, “I see people’s frustrations at being less and less in control of their lives playing itself out in many, many ways.”

Companies are hiring consulting firms with the belief that the consultants possess a certain level of expertise not found in the company. More often than not my experience when I worked for large corporations was that the consultants had less and less knowledge than could be found in the company itself.

Technology has advanced, true, but what about our ability to communicate it? To use it effectively? To demonstrate it to others? We still rely on simile and metaphor to introduce new concepts into conversations. As long as we are either unable or unwilling to accept new paradigms which are unbeholden to what we’ve experienced in the past, we will be bound to both the past and archaic concepts as our sole means of communication.

Pieces of the art of communication rely on knowing whether or not your audience is ready for new paradigms. Some verticals (financial, banking, insurance) are new paradigm adverse (I’m not saying whether this is a good or bad thing, merely recognizing it as a thing) and consultants need a rich library of metaphor going in in order to be understood and accepted. Business in general is new paradigm adverse until it becomes obvious no old paradigm is going to work.

Sad but true.

So I learn from Mr. Locke’s nine-year old piece that the practice of engagement can be an embittering thing without a little homework, a little study, and a little willingness to recognize new possibilities even when they present themselves in old skins. I know you’re not suppose to “put new wine into old skins” but I think sometimes it’s necessary in order to get everyone to drink from the same cup (mixing metaphors and spreading infections).

One of my favorite sayings is “Each morning be a blank slate that the day might write itself upon you.” I can’t say I do that perfectly every day and I do work to apply it to every client meeting.

Here endeth my lesson.


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Sizzle?

I had an interesting conversation with a potential client yesterday. I don’t think this company is going to become a client, truth be told. The problem they came with was that people weren’t spending “a lot” of time on their site. They navigated the heck out of it yet never stayed on any one page very long.

Did NextStage have any ideas?

A quick look gave me a few ideas and I was about to share one or two when the client said, “I’m on your site. What are those eyes for?”

For those folks who attended my Emetrics Summit presentation, “Quantifying and Optimizing the Human Side of Online Marketing”, there’s an example of what I was talking about when I showed you that “eyes” slide. Readers can purchase the research paper that explains the use of blinking eyes and more at Use of Eye Images as Navigation and Action Cues on WebSites [[(this paper and many others are available to NextStage Members as part of their Membership package)]].

Anyway, this fellow looked at the blinking eyes and asked, “Is that your ‘sizzle’?”

“Sizzle?”

“Yeah, you know. You’re pizazz. You’re gotcha.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then what are they there for?”

I said, “Look at the eyes and tell me what you see.”

And I’m not kidding. Without skipping a beat the fellow said, “Have you played the game?” and read the rest of that line. [[(we’ve really got to get that back online)]]

“That’s exactly what the eyes are for, to make visitors look where the eyes are looking. If the eyes are looking at an action eye-tem (you know, that only works when you read it. For some people. It’s the kind of thing I mentioned regarding my beloved wife and the “block past it” Myron Cohen joke in KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich, Part 4) then people who see the eyes will also look there.”

To which he said, “I don’t believe it. How does it work?”

I suggested he get the Use of Eye Images as Navigation and Action Cues on WebSites paper. He replied, “No, I mean how does it work?”

“I’m not sure I understand the question.”

He said, “I mean, how do the eyes know where they want me to look?”

“I’m sure I don’t understand what you’re asking me.”

“How do the eyes know I’m going to look at that line? They could look down, couldn’t they? They could look up. How come they look where there’s something for me to read?”

I fell back to something WindKiller told me. “Sometimes, when you meet the demon, you just gotta feed it.” I started to go into neurophysiology, the occipital cortex, how images are stored in the brain and where, what part of the brain compares one image to another, then into social and cultural evolution factors, the role the face plays in primate communication. I think I started going into the fact that Gaelic and Greek only have fewer letters in their alphabets than English, therefore there was that Gaelic-Greek connection to be considered. At some point I quoted Shakespeare. Or maybe it was Bugs Bunny.
Somewhere in there my dog started barking and I said, “Oh, that’s the doorbell.”

“Then I should let you go.”

“No need. The dog can get it.”

“Your dog can answer the door?”

“Oh, easily. He’s very well trained. Where did I leave off?”

“No, no, please. That’s good. I appreciate your time. I was just looking for some advice. I’ll talk to some of the folks in here about your suggestions and see what they think.”

“Good idea,” I said enthusiastically. “Remember to blink and look where you want them to look so they’ll know how to answer.”

Okay, I admit it. I made some of this up and I hope you got a chuckle out of it. Some is based on fact and I’ll let you figure out which parts. For my readers in the States, have a safe holiday. For my readers around the globe, I’ll post something a little more serious tomorrow. Good night, all


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The Complete “KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich” Arc

Note: This post contains the complete six part “KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich” arc.

KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich, Part 1

It’s been a while since I posted something from KBar. We’re still corresponding regularly and mostly it’s just the usual chatter.

The other day he sent me Burger’s name stirs a beef and, I’ll admit, I’m offended.

tvshow.jpg

You need to understand some things. First and as I explained from the stage at the recent Emetrics Summit in SF, I’m an Asian-Canadian. I’ve included my picture (above) so you can see for yourself just how Asian-Canadian I am.

What? You don’t believe me? Oh…that’s the wrong picture. This one is of me (left cheek and all, for those who were at my presentation at The ‘Summit).

asian-canadian-me.jpg

What? You still don’t believe me? Well, that could be because lots of people get me confused with June Li, a very well known Italian-American.

What am I going on about this time?

The Burger’s name stirs a beef article makes me want to call those people up and tell them that I’m offended that they had to change the name of their sandwich. I’m not slighting the fellow who was offended. I don’t know him. For that matter, I’ve never been to the restaurant, never had a WopBurger — well, okay, some folks who’ve been to one of our cookouts have had my version of a WopBurger; a thick patty with lots of cheese and hot pepper sauce — oh, there, I’ve written it. The language police will be onto me now for sure.

KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich, Part 2

I explained in part 1 that I have my own version of the WopBurger — something at the center of the controversy — and that some people like it. Others prefer the standard old Yankee CheeseBurger.

The point of this arc is to wonder why some people will be upset by the term “WopBurger” but few (I’m guessing) will be upset by the term “Yankee CheeseBurger”…

The point of this arc is to wonder why some people will be upset by the term “WopBurger” but few (I’m guessing) will be upset by the term “Yankee CheeseBurger”…

Two of NextStage’s Principles deal directly with language; 10 and 11. You’ll notice that most of them deal with language in one way or another. You can’t work for NextStage without understanding that language is a tool and that more often than not, it’s not what was said, it’s what was heard, that people respond to.

And someone was offended by the use of “wop”. A sound. Nothing more at its core. To some this sound, “wop”, conveyed pride in a cultural heritage. To others this same sound was a denigration of that same cultural heritage.

Forget the term’s long time use within this one community or the fond memories associated with it.

KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich, Part 3

Part 1 dealt with the differences in Burgers. People who attended my Emetrics Summit SF 2007 presentation, this one’s for you; Notice the difference between Mark Harmon’s picture and mine? Which of the two wants to be your friend? How do you know?

Part 2 offered that no one is going to be upset by a “Yankee CheeseBurger” and questioned the reason for the lack of concern. The expression “Yankee” is just as much a stereotype as “Wop”, I think. Is it because the term “Yankee” conjures up certain qualities people find favorable while the term “Wop” does not? Who decided which qualities were associated with each?

And if I don’t like the words you’re using, do I have to right to stop you from using them?

Want to know a joke I heard in high school and that made me laugh so hard I ached? Hugh (Welsh-Episcopal heritage) told it to me (Italian-Catholic heritage) over at Denny’s (Irish-Episcopal heritage) house while Andy (Russian-Jewish heritage) listened. It started with Hugh drawing a picture much like the one below:


starstuddedboottire.jpg

“Do you know what this is, Joe?” Hugh asked.
“No idea.”
“It’s the all new Italian Star Studded Boot Tire,” Hugh explained. “Dago through snow, Dago through mud, Dago through rain, Dago through ice. But when Dago flat, Dago Wop Wop Wop Wop Wop.”


Denny laughed. Andy pointed at me and laughed. Hugh laughed.

And so did I. More so than they did. The only thing was, I wasn’t laughing at the ethnic paucity of the joke, I was laughing at the punnage (I wrote in my first post that I’d make up words if I had to) that made the joke work. It was a great use of language, in my mind.

My dad didn’t think so when I told the joke to him. I think it lost something when I translated it into Italian so he could understand it.

KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich, Part 4

If I don’t like the words you’re using, do I have to right to stop you from using them?” and gave an example of “It’s not what is said, it’s what is heard.

And this is actually my point. It’s what people hear that offends them, not what is said. Here’s another example, also a joke I heard in high school that still makes me laugh. It was told by Myron Cohen on the Merv Griffen Show, I think:

A cop turns a corner and sees a young Black man beating an old Yiddish man to a pulp. He runs over and pulls the young man off the old guy. “What’s going on here?” he demands.
The young Black man points at the old guy and says, “He called me a black b?stard!”
The cop turns to the old Yiddish man and asks, “Did you really call him that?”
And the old Yiddish man replies (in a very thick accent), “Of course not! Why should I say such a thing? He looks like such a fine upstanding young man!”
“Then what happened?” the cop asks the old man.
“He asked me where the YMCA is. I told him, ‘You’re a block past it.”

Budda-bump.

Language is a tool. In the Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History‘s Author’s Foreword I write “The author’s bio states that I’ve been everything from a butcher to truckdriver to Senior Knowledge Architect to Chief Research Scientist. What’s my specialty? My specialty is understanding why people don’t capitalize butcher and truckdriver but do capitalize Senior Knowledge Architect and Chief Research Scientist, and why most people don’t pay any attention to that fact until someone references it.”

KBar’s Findings: Political Correctness in the Guise of a Sandwich, Finale

Responses to information have more to do with how people are wired and how they think than the information itself.

I often wonder if there’s any gain in making people bow to some particular sensitivity. If you don’t like WopBurgers, don’t eat at that restaurant.

What does this have to do with June Li being Italian-American and me being Asian-Canadian?

As I demonstrated at Emetrics, both June and I have similar cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational drivers. The heck with our differences in backgrounds and everything else. If you stereotype me as a “wop”, at least make sure you get it right.

Get it right?

Yes. Marketers use stereotypes all the time. They call them Personae and here’s a joke to demonstrate what I’m writing about:

The marketing guy is talking to a national fastfood chain. They’ve come up with a new product they believe will do extremely well in a specific demographic and have created a persona to use in advertising, marketing, tv and print, so on and so forth. He starts with, “We’ve created this Persona, Vinny, and he’s a mid to late twenty something, not yet married, very much involved in fraternal organizations –“
“Wait a second,” interrupts the fastfood company exec. “What kind of fraternal organizations?”
“Oh, you know…Sons of Italy, the Church, you know…”
“Yeah, okay. Go ahead.”
” — still hangs out with his old friends from school, visits his old, widowed mother at least once a week, loves local sports teams, knows there’s no cooking like what he can find in the old neighborhood — “
“The ‘old neighborhood’?”
“Oh, you know. The North End of Boston. New York’s Little Italy.”
“Yeah, okay. Got it. Go ahead.”
” — makes jokes about his brother, the priest — “
“This sounds like the John Travolta character from Saturday Night Fever.”
“Bingo! That’s it! See? This Vinny character is someone everybody knows.”
“And what’s the product’s name again?”
“We’re going to call it ‘The WopBurger’!”

Budda-Bing.

I’ve studied with ethnic and cultural groups from all over the globe, most of them adopting me as one of their own, so that now I often think of myself as a Jewish Afro-Celt Italo-Scott Russo-Jivaren Tling-Lakotah Paiute-Chinaman with Sami-Nigerian-Abbrondaic grandparents on all five sides. Oh, and did I forget to mention my Quiche-Mayan-Inuit ancestry?

The use of language and communications in general is coming at me in a lot of ways this week. One way is from KBar’s Finding of the article that started this off, another was from WindKiller and his comment about the Drunken Pirate [[(Sorry, the comments died with the old BizMediaScience blog)]]. The third item was reading and hearing about the military forbidding the use of different internet services.


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