Saturday, January 31, 2009

would you like the red kool-aid or the blue?

I wonder if Googlers (people who work at Google) marry others Googlers and make babies who they dress in onesies that say Google on them?

On Friday, Google paid a visit to the VCU Brandcenter to give demonstrations and speeches to the students and Martin Agency folk. The highlight of the visit was a speech by Sketch Up specialist (and author of "Sketch Up for Dummies") Aidan Chopra. Great speaker, absolutely hilarious guy. It was a fun Google-themed event.

I just read a bit about the Google campus and find it wild how damn self-sustaining the place is. They have bikes for transportation around the campus, free food, a free gym, volley-ball courts, field hockey games, special speakers, you can even continue your work while on the toilet at Google. One day they will build dormitories on the campus and a bubble over-head to maintain the highest air quality and optimal temperature. In another 2000 years, they will be the only ones still alive. But they'll all be brilliant and gloriously healthy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

opium for sale

Karl Marx - "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions."

How does marketing create illusions? Marketing often creates the illusion of need in order to get consumers to buy (look at toothpaste). So, how has it become the opium of modern (post WWII) society?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

pricing the formerly priceless

Praise the book of "Elsewhere, U.S.A." by Dalton Conley. In it, Conley talks about "pricing the formerly priceless," and more clearly articulates the idea about "marketing the formerly unmarketed" that I've been rambling about. Finding one other person (even if it is just one) who agrees with your theories is such an assurance to your sanity.

"Pricing the formerly priceless" is about taking things that were formerly accepted as "givens" by society and placing a price on their heads. The explanation that he gives is when airlines started charging for snacks. We as consumers hate being charged for things we have always gotten for free. I do. But in reality, that kind of pricing structure could be more efficient and cut fees for consumers while making us more informed about what we're buying.

It's funny though when you think about the entertainment industry. It has gone in the opposite direction. We went from having to buy the album of every song we wanted to play, to stealing music from friends and Kazaa and hardly ever even heading to music stores anymore. Music stores have become like museums. You wander around, pursuing the selection, able to look at what they've got on display, but not interact with what lies behind the plastic/glass casing. And in both cases you walk out of the building empty-handed. "Owning music" has lost its meaning.

How could the music industry use this concept of "pricing the formerly priceless?"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

true friends are hard to find

Brands need friends, loyal friends and lots of ‘em. But making friends is a scary task, just ask the new kid in school. Making friends in a society where “face-time” is less and texts are more. Where the old adage: “actions are greater than words” is losing it’s value. Our own ability to make and keep friends depends upon how well we communicate through words, our writing style and the frequency of our written communications.

I recently read an article in GOOD Magazine where an angry mom ranted that teachers needed to stop teaching kids handwriting skills because her child couldn’t do it and was becoming frustrated. She said that it was causing his self-esteem to go down and would cause him to hate writing (talk about helicopter-parenting). Although it may be true that most of us threw out our pencil sharpeners after 1997, communication through means other than typing allows us to find new means of expression.

Why do you look in your mailbox everyday? Aside from getting your favorite magazine or a flick from Netflix, there is always that giddy hope in the back of your skull that you’ll receive a letter. Now that’s the sign of a true friend. Getting a letter from a friend is better than bathing in holy water with the pope. You know, I know it, the Pope knows it. Writing a letter takes time, it’s got the physical connection of the paper to it, perhaps a smell, a smiley face. Its got permanence.

Now let’s look at this from a branding perspective (yes, this does tie in and have a point, I promise). You’ve got your target audience, a mass of face-less drones. Can you imagine if your friend thought of you that way? That is not a friend you write a letter to.

Here’s a challenge: call Netflix. Just do it. Even if you don’t have a reason to. You know what you won’t get – that mechanic recorded voice that makes you press numbers like a monkey to talk to someone who is half-asleep and getting paid less per month than your phone bill costs. Your call to Netflix will be answered in less than one minute by a customer service person in Portland, Oregon. The company purposely put their customer service department in Portland because they knew the people there were nice. Every written or spoken communication I've had with Netflix has been positive and personal. And although we may not post on one another’s Facebook walls, we’re friends.

And that my friends, is money in their bank. Amen.

marketing the unmarketable continued

Here goes my attempt at recombinant culture. Although it may not be truly recombinant, rather more building on a stream of consciousness that my friend Faris planted in his blog recently.

The topic of this circling conversation is about creating a market for a good/service that has never before been marketed and in some cases was deemed "unmarketable." (Here's where things become a bit recombinant.) Faris' wrote a blogpost about the birth of Virgin. Richard Branson, God of Virgin, placed his faith in a musician who was deemed by others as "unmarketable." Branson created a market around the music and thus was successful. As Ian Fitzpatrick, who wrote a post about it, said: "When the market for the unmarketable doesn’t yet exist, invent it."

I find this to be extremely relevant for entrepreneurs. How could creating markets (or marketplaces as I like to call it) around new goods/services spark spending and thus economic growth? I also like this idea because it reminds us of how valuable an acumen in marketing really is. You can create a new thing-a-ma-bob, but if you cannot identify where (or create a market where) that thing-a-ma-bob will be profitable, you'll fail. Clients today are slashing advertising/marketing budgets so we as marketing folk need to prove our value. How could this idea help us do that?

So many questions, I challenge you to use the laws of recombinance (steal, remix into your own) and build upon this topic.

Friday, January 16, 2009

will sketch for wine

The other night a bunch of us went to Gallery 5 for a Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School drawing event. Dr. Sketchy's was founded by a woman named Molly Crabapple who decided that drawing class seriously lacked alcohol and burlesque models. And I agree. It was great. I've never drawn for 3 hours before but it seriously flew. I would scan in some of my drawings but believe me, you aren't missing anything. Here are some pics that I grabbed from:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

predicting success

Last semester I did some research on the Myers-Briggs test. Learning that it predicts a person's preferred habit of behavior reminded me a bit of the SATs. The purpose of the SATs is to predict the likelihood that a student will be successful in higher education. They are both all about prediction of behavior; although studies show that neither of the tests' results can guarantee any particular behavioral pattern.

As we all know, and some have fallen victim to, not everyone is good at taking standardized tests. So what if you were to submit your Myers-Briggs personality to a school rather than (or in addition to) your SAT score? A Myers-Briggs personality analyzed in conjunction with a desired major could allow a school to assess whether or not they believe that student will be successful in studying that particular subject.

If you're curious as to what your MB personality could be, here's the test:
(and don't worry, the MB test is a heck of a lot easier than the SAT!).