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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Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition

It’s with great pleasure and a little pride that we announce Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat “4th EDITION” part is important. We know lots of people are waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and it’s next in the queue.

But until then…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION is about 100 pages longer than the previous editions and about 10$US cheaper. Why? Because Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation is next in the queue.

Some Notes About This Book

I’m actually writing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation right now. In the process of doing that, we realized we needed to add an index to this book. We also wanted to make a full color ebook version available to NextStage Members (it’s a download on the Member welcome page. And if you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for?)

In the process of making a full color version, we realized we’d misplaced some of the original slides and, of course, the charting software had changed since we originally published this volume (same information, different charting system). Also Susan and Jennifer “The Editress” Day wanted the images standardized as much as possible.

We included an Appendix B – Proofs (starting on page 187) for the curious and updated Appendix C – Further Readings (starting on page 236). We migrated a blog used for reference purposes so there may be more or less reference sources and modified some sections with more recent information.

So this edition has a few more pages and a few different pages. It may have an extra quote or two floating around.

You also need to know that Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History is a “Let’s explore the possibilities” book, not a “How to do it” book. As such, it deals with how NextStage did it (not to mention things that happened along the way). It does not explain how you can do it. This book’s purpose is to open a new territory to you and give you some basic tools for exploration.

There are no magic bullets, quick fixes, simple demonstrations, et cetera, that will turn you into jedis, gurus, kings, queens, samurai, rock stars, mavens, heroes, thought leaders, so on and so forth.

How to Do It starts with Volume II: Experience and Expectation and continues through future volumes in this series. We’ve included a Volume II: Experience and Expectation preview with a How to Do It example on page 302 so you can take a peek if that’s your interest.

That noted, I’m quite sure that you won’t get the full benefit of future volumes without reading this one because unless you’ve read this one you won’t understand the territory you’re exploring in those future volumes.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat’s Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION. It’s so good and so good for you! Buy a copy or two today!


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Brad Berens on “How Big Can the Web Get?”


Brad Berens commented on my How Big Can the Web Get? post that online to offline isn’t as interesting a question as heavy versus light use. I responded that I agree that the yearly dropoff rates are a relationally small number. He mentions the Nielsen Media findings of a few years back that the average American has 96 TV channels at his or her disposal but only watches about 15.

His thought is that it might be pre-emptive media filtering to me and I asked if that information had generational boundaries and took into account sites like ManiaTV.

If generational, we could be witnessing voluntary simplification on the web. This is something NextStage has been seeing for a bit and there’s not enough real evidence for it to be anything more than an interesting anecdote at present.

I agree with Brad that an interesting research venue is heavy versus light use, what Brad writes as “…an increase in the number of websites visited per session/day/week versus a more static number, etc.” This is something I think is going to be directly addressed by portals and especially portals where the visitor can place “browser windows” where they want, something alluded to in my recent IMedia piece on the death of the webpage.

Also, I think another question moving forward is what impact internet television is going to have on what people watch and how they watch it. I’ve been having some interesting talks with Drew Massey and Jason Damata of ManiaTV in preparation for an IMedia column. Interesting things are happening and, you betcha, what gets measured and how it gets measured is going to change.

What does this do to quorums? Not much, I think. The joy of quorums and quorum sensing is that they are elements of The Village (hate to harp on that concept and I do think it’s a powerful one). They come and go as required and are psychologically mobile, fluid, dynamic. Their size is more dependent on what the quorum needs to get done than the number of people willing to take part. Too large a social construct for a given function and it fractionates. Subgroups form which take on specific subfunctions, each group growing or fractionating until the optimal size for performing its function is reached. Bandura’s work pretty much confirms this, I think; quorums (groups) will form and dissolve based more on the group’s belief it can achieve some goal it defines for itself.

Quorum will sense they can form or not and that will continue. New media and new technology will only provide different petri-dishes, if you will. Society as a whole will only recognize the quorums have formed once the quorums begin to crawl out of the dish.

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What McCain said about Obama and Palin to Hillary and Biden

This post continues my analysis of 2008 US Presidential election campaign websites started in Senator McCain’s campaign site homepages (10 Feb, 6 and 22 Mar 07). For those who came because of the title (perhaps thinking you’d discover some great dish) no, sorry. I’m just curious to see where such a title ends up in search listings. It seems information on presidential politics (as such) isn’t something of great interest to the online community and I wonder why.

Anyway, you can find a complete list of this blog’s political posts at Politics.

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Onto Senator Obama’s homepage on Sunday, 24 June 07…

Sunday, 24 June 07

On this day Senator Obama’s campaign website homepage was using a K15 communication style (Myers-Briggs equivalents are ENFP, ENFJ and ENTP). This marks a departure from the three previous analyses which were all V15s. What’s the difference?

V15 K15
  • These people make decisions based on what they see, picture and charts are strong influencers
  • They have a poor sense of time or involvement
  • They are more apt to believe and accept negative statements
  • They tend to become confused when time-factors are demonstrated as important to a decision
  • These people prefer to experience things firsthand
  • Their long-lasting decisions and learning’s will be made based on an overall sense of what to avoid
  • They base decisions on immediate experience and tend to be negative in nature
  • They tend to ignore positive-based information as either unreal or unsubstantiated

Does such a shift in communication style benefit Senator Obama’s efforts?

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Well, not really. K15s and V15s make up such a small percentage of the population webwise that reaching out to them is not useful at all and is probably more an indication of the mental processes of the people designing Senator Obama’s website than it is a statement of who they’re wanting to reach. The chart on the right shows all specific communication/decision styles that are over 5% of the US population. Neither K15 nor V15 are listed. For that matter, they don’t show up regardless of how fine a comb you use.

For what it’s worth, it is rare that a website is truly designed for some audience segment. It may be designed for some demographic and it is rare that it is actually designed for how that demographic thinks.

But for arguments sake, let’s say Senator Obama’s site, while being targeted towards K15s on this particular day, was really going for a larger slice of the pie, something that encapsulated K15s yet wasn’t so stringent in its requirements? NextStage calculates these communication styles based on a variety of factors. What if we only consider four factors?

Sadly, leaving only the four primary factors still has Senator Obama’s website on this day communicating to 0% of population.

With three factors things change a little. You have to ask, “Which three factors are most important?” Do you care about whether they understand the consequences of their actions? Then Senator Obama’s website is still pulling in 0% of the vote (so to speak). But what if you care about their outlook on life? Then he’s communicating to just under 10% of the population.

At two factors (again depending which two you consider important), the site’s best efforts speak to 19.5% of the population, and at one factor (interestingly enough) the number goes down to 17.2%.

I suppose it’s heartening to know Americans aren’t single issue voters even if they think they are.

What else changes from our previous investigation?

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For one thing, there’s a slight shift in gender appeal. He’s now going after noticeably more male audience (the bottom bars on the image).

The homepage is also stating its messages more forcefully than before, although in much the same proportions as before. I mentioned in previous posts that stating a message is one thing, how well/loud/intensely the messages is stated is another matter entirely.

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This image shows the relative strengths of the different Presidential messages. It’s obvious that (in most cases) the website is broadcasting those messages a little stronger/louder/more forcefully/with more intensity.

Will this be intuitively obvious to the casual observer? Probably not. First, the proportional strengths of the messages hasn’t changed much if any at all.

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Compare this chart with the previous one. The intensities of the messages has increased and their proportional intensity is much as it had been a few months earlier. The end result is that people will probably pay more attention (much as any loud noise or bright light, etc., will catch our attention until we determine a) continue paying attention at a cognitive level (you might like what you’re reading, etc) or b) dismiss the stimulus as irrelevant) at least for a moment.


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The Complete “Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch” Arc

This post contains all of the four part “Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch” arc

Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, Part 1

I was told it’s time to buy new furniture by She Who Must Be Obeyed (with respect to Rumpole of the Bailey [[not to mention H. Rider Haggard’s “She]]). I have a strict requirement for furniture, especially couches; they must be long enough for me to stretch out on so I can take a nap without disturbing our dog (he usually takes his position at my feet when I’m lying on the couch) and they must have a significant “cush” factor. I like couches that engulf me in a warm embrace.

Susan, my wife, knows this and I trust her to pick out furniture that I’ll be comfortable in. She makes the first pass, I get called in to determine cushiness, and then we go home and wait for the appropriate furniture to be delivered. Imagine my chagrin when she showed me her first choice, a post modern bauhaus piece…

The world's most comfortable couch

…What surprised me was how comfortable it was despite its look.

Did I get you there? Did your mind do that little thing where it attempts to take two incompatible information streams and make them coherent and compatible? The reason for your confusion has to do with what psychologists and linguists call priming. Basically I primed you for a furniture/couch/comfortable experience and presented you with a non-furniture/couch/comfortable image. The majority of people seeing the image after the priming will go into a small fugue state as their mind throws more and more cognitive resources into either convincing itself that yes, that’s a couch or yes, Joseph’s a nutcase.

Did it again? Gave you two “yes”s that slowed you down a second because you expected a “yes” and a “no”?

Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, Part 2

The reason priming is important is because studies indicate the average adult’s experience of an event is about 85% based on what they expect their experience to be (something I discuss in detail in Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience versus Expectation. You can create a good or a not-so-good experience for online and offline visitors based on what you’ve primed them to experience.

These concepts often appear in language, especially when different disciplines are involved. My favorite anecdote comes from a time when Susan and I were working at Dartmouth. We were having lunch with a bunch of friends at Mrs. Ou’s (is she still there? She must be in her 90s if she is, and probably still whacking people with her wooden spoon if they reach over the counter behind her back). One of our friends was studying sociology. He almost choked when Susan, doing immunoassay development, checked her watch and said, “Oh, I have to go destroy some cultures.”

Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, Part 3

I still remember my first business meeting and listening to people talk about ROI. “We need to maximize our ROI”, “How can we increase our ROI?” and so on. I explained the easiest ways to do this were to diversify how we were distributing things. Different distribution methods would naturally demonstrate different ROI. After a short period of time we could easily see which regions were showing up best and plan from there.

People were dumbfounded. My goodness this was brilliant. What else could I share with them?

I couldn’t understand why this wasn’t obvious to them.

Of course, I was talking about Regions of Interest a mathematical concept from statistics, not Return on Investment. Strange thing was, my language fit so well with their expectation that they incorporated my suggestion and the company grew.

These primings occur in all our sensory experience. Have you ever asked for a Coke® and been given an ice tea? Try it on someone sometime. The look on their face is a study in itself as they’re mind devotes more and more resources into making the ice tea taste like a Coke®.

Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, finale

Let me give you one last example of priming; everybody knows the story of Sleeping Beauty, right? The new transposon vector that can deliver large DNA cargos to vertebrate cells, making it a useful tool for genetic applications?

Normally That one would have stopped you dead in your readings. Why not so now? Because you’ve been primed to expect the unexpected. In fact, if I gave a line or two about what most people recognize as the Sleeping Beauty story, that would have caused most people to fugue because they’d be waiting for the “punchline”.

Often bringing concepts into a discipline from outside a discipline can break the rules of priming completely and get things into deep memory (examples in the earlier posts in this arc) or priming then “reversing” the prime as explained above. Comics know this very well. Punchlines work because they are dramatic releases of the tension built by priming, the send up or lead into of the joke before the punchline.

Priming can be subtle or not so subtle. Anybody notice my numeration method in the top paragraphs in this arc? I use “a” and “2”. A subtle priming to expect the unexpected. Some RSS readers will show up this arc as “Can you fit this couch into your memory?”, a phrase constructed to be intentionally ambiguous, another prime to invite you to slow down for a second or two and encourage you to take a look.

I’ve written before about my lack of industry jargon adds to my credibility in An IMedia Reader concurs…. This arc is an example of what it’s taken me years to learn; Prime people for what you want them to remember then deliver it. Not at first, but at second (literally). People might not remember the joke or the punchline yet they’ll remember what came after it each and every time.

Prime your audience, release the priming tension, then give them the message you want them to remember. You’ll brand them every time.

Oh, before I forget, Prince Charming might not have kissed Sleeping Beauty awake if she were on the couch shown in the above, a Genetix Clone Select Imager.


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