More on Crowdsourcing

Yesterday I launched my eBook – Everyone is Illuminated – which featured my thoughts, along with a talented collection of marketing/advertising pros, on crowdsourcing. It was a couple of months in the making so I missed some really good crowdsourcing-related discussions that happened just recently.

Fortunately the smarties over at BBH Labs have an excellent post – Where Does the Agency End and the Crowd Begin? –  that captures a recent Social Media Week conversation that featured top names in the industry. As BBH Lab’s Ben Malbon writes:

John Winsor (Victors & Spoils Founder) lead a discussion that featured Ty Montague (Co-President & CCO, JWT North America), Saneel Radia (Alchemist / Chief Potion Master, Denuo), Michael Lebowitz (Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship) and the inimitable Faris Yakob (Chief Technology Dude, McCann NY). [Ed. note – Faris is no longer at McCann NY]

Some great takes on the event can be read at the following (again from Ben’s post):

For more coverage of the debate check out Jonny Makkar’s (@jsmakr) neat summary blog post here, Faris’s here, or John Winsor’s short but kinda sweet piece here. 

Finally, Ben’s piece also features a video of the event for a “you were there”-style experience.

Marketing Evolves from Push to Pull to Chase to Collaborate

The first, and longest, phase of marketing strategy was to push your message to the market. Billboards, radio spots, TV adverts, direct mail, you name. Blast your message to consumers early and often.

The idea of pulling customers to you certainly pre-dates the Internet (think coupons), but most of us today think of websites and opt-in email marketing as the way many companies have tried to pull target consumers to them. In the early Web 1.0 days this worked pretty well. A lot of money was spent making nifty websites with all sorts of bells and whistles.

But with Web 2.0, the dynamic has shifted. Now consumers can make their own websites, often just as good (or at least just as compelling) as the big brands. Social Media also changed the game, giving people a place to go and interact. Now, leading brands are neither pushing nor pulling (or at least not just pushing and/or pulling), but rather are chasing. “Where are the consumers, and can we find them before our competition does?” is the question brands are now asking themselves.

While the Chase phase is sure to be around for a while – as long as sites like Facebook and Twitter continue to gather users – some people are already looking ahead to the next phase: Collaboration.

The Dachic Group have embarked upon a project they call their Collaboratory: Part collaboration space, part laboratory on Social Business Design, it’s where we invite our ecosystem to engage us. It’s the starting point from which we help businesses capture value through Social Business Design. 

This is an interesting and ambitious idea and one I think many companies will have trouble embracing and executing. Allowing vendors, agents, clients, consumers, partners and yes, critics, into your ecosystem makes you vulnerable and requires a willingness to relinquish power in ways that companies just aren’t traditionally set up to do. But the potential benefits would seem to make a powerful argument in favor of trying this radical new approach.

I imagine that if a company could successfully integrate this type of collaboration, they would move towards a model where decisions are not only made faster, but that group buy in on those decisions would be much greater, with more constituents feeling they had skin in the game. When several parties have a vested interest in the successful execution and completion of a project, real momentum is generated.

How can brands and consumers work together to create new and innovative marketing solutions? Will we see more creative agencies like Dachis Group, Anomaly and BBH Labs look to partner with clients for mutually beneficial revenue opportunities, rather than simply serve as vendors? I think the smart, agile companies will lead this collaborative charge and have a real jump on those who will be dragged into it.

Data Visualization: A Primer and Practical Application

Over the last several months I’ve been fascinated by the talk around Data Visualization. It’s one of those things that when you see it done properly, its brilliance immediately strikes you. Good Data Viz can illuminate and educate, inspire and entertain. I also understand that this is an area when I am a student and am happy to turn it over to the pros. So, with this post I want to share some of the smartest stuff I’ve seen, as well as provide you with some original commentary from Patricia McDonald, Planning Director at BBH Labs. I’ll also add some thoughts of my own on where I think DV can best touch the average person.

Here’s a quick run down of some must read material on Data Visualization:

Manuel Lima is a leading thinker in the area of Data Viz, and recently laid out his Information Visualization Manifesto. Make sure you read the comments as well.

Now, take a look at this video of a talk on the subject Manuel gave:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

 Those super-smart cats at Made by Many are all over this of course, so check out what they have to say as well.

I’ll wrap up this intro with a post by Jim Carroll, Chairman, of BBH London that was featured on the BBH Labs site, which also has a great follow-up on Lima’s Manifesto.

This is all pretty heady stuff, so I’ve turned to Michael Surtees of DesignNotes to put things in a bit of perspective. He also offers some handy resources on the subject.

And here’s where I found myself asking, “How can Data Visualization be most relevant to me?” Patricia McDonald was kind enough to offer the following:

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Marketers Grapple With The Idea Of The Big Idea

Over at BBH Labs there having a brilliant discussion on the subject of “The Big Idea” and wheter or not it is dead, or perhaps just deserves to die.  The level of thought and intelligence, on both sides of the argument, is staggering. Just about everything worth saying on the subject is said, either in the post or in the fantastic comments, but I would like to add my two cents.

My interpretation of a Big Idea is one that facilitates the creation of a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU). Here’s what I mean by that: Does the idea create an environment where other people, both professional and consumers, want to – and have the ability to – build upon the existing concept, making it richer?

This can take many forms. Star Wars is a big idea. It started as a movie, but has become the Star Wars Universe with books, cartoons, video games and fan groups.  At this point George Lucas is responsible for a mere fraction of the Star Wars-related content that is out there.  His creation has taken on a life of its own and will more than likely outlive him.

As a brand, Barack Obama became a big idea. The video, the Shepard Fairy poster – these were created outside the official Obama campaign but came to represent not only what he stood for, but for the man himself.

A DINU creates a landscape where the idea generators (writers, marketers, artists, etc.) intentionally leave space for consumers to play an active role in the life of the idea. I think by its very nature a Big Idea today has to be one that allows for a DINU to take shape. The truth of the matter is, a good idea will be grabbed by consumers, the tools are too readily available. If you recognize this in advance, plan for it and even assist consumers, you’ll have an excellent chance of having your good idea become a Big Idea.

The Latest Must Have Tech Gadget: i.Saw

The i.Saw - For the Tech Geek who has everything

The i.Saw - For the Tech Geek who has everything

The wizards over at BBH Labs tipped me off to this pretty cool new tech toy, the i.Saw.  Go ahead and check it out, I’ll wait…

[hums Viva la Vida]

Pretty cool, huh? Read the Wired review here, and see why Gizmodo called it the “bloody apex of USB peripherals.” All yours for just $59.95 plus S&H. Check out these specs:

Never before has a chainsaw been made available in such a compact and mobile form. Measuring no larger than the size of a regular computer keyboard, every effort has been made to ensure that proper grip – and safety – is not compromised.

And of course compatability is not an issue:

Instant plug ‘n’ play. Zero startup time. Patent-pending technology allows for an unparalleled distribution of power. A first in its class. Works on PC, Mac and most USB-enabled devices.

Good stuff, and now of course, it’s time for the reveal. The i.Saw isn’t a real product, it’s a spoof product, but it’s addressing a real issue. Every time you hit “print” obn your keyboard, somewhere trees are being cut down.  BBH Singapore decided, rather than make a spoof commercial to make a spoof product. But before you get to disappointed about not getting an i.Saw, you can go here to download a chainsaw sound for your computer. A pretty cool/clever reminder of the ecological impact we can have.

Lessons to learn from a design master

Less, but better

Less, but better

Design is something I certainly appreciate, though I’m not a student of it. Yes, Tinker Hatfield is a personal hero and I enjoy stories about 13-year olds stuggling with what was once the height of design, but the guys at BBH Labs are serious about this stuff. So serious, that they interview guys like Dieter Rams, one of the really influential industrial designers of the last 50 years.

The interview is terrific; Rams is an uncompromising designer with a strong aesthetic and strong opinions.  I really liked the insights that Ben Malbon gleaned from the interview:

1. Question absolutely everything, especially the ‘most obvious’.

2. Strive to understand people, at every level.

3. Embrace technology, but do so with pragmatism not hype.

These are really terrific observations that are applicable to many industries, not just industrial design. For me, this rings true for marketing and Social Media.

For more on Rams, see this PSFK article from March of this year.