Why Don’t People Get It?

Confused Sign
Originally uploaded by kudaker

Drew McLellan and I had so much fun publishing The Age of Conversation that we thought we’d do it again. This year, though, we took a different approach. We asked the community of authors and readers to choose the topic. Overwhelmingly, the choice was “why don’t people get it?”.

That means that the title of the book this year will be “Age of Conversation: Why Don’t People Get It?”.

In another twist on the original, the plan is to have authors contribute a chapter to a topic. So rather than having chapters devoted to an interpretation of a single theme, we have chosen a number of themes around which each author can structure their chapter. There will be more on this approach in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I would like to share the MOST amazing news of all!

Drew and I are excited to know that this time around we will have 275 contributing authors. That’s right, we have a large number of the original authors returning along with a raft of new contributors. It is going to be an awesome exercise. The authors are as follows:

Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brent Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley, C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Doug Hanna, Doug Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, Gi Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Reginald Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Eric Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Helipern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Berg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkins, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Raj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, R.J. Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Have You Been Blogged?

Jef, best shirt
Originally uploaded by gwen

You have probably already seen this, but the folks over at Blogged.com have setup a way to easy discover new blogs. There are plenty of categories to choose from and even some reader reviews. And if the Blogged Editors have had a chance to review your site, they will give you a ranking.

I am ranked at 7.8 — “very good”. But there seems to be plenty of room for improvement! What can I do? Is there something more you would like to see? Something less? Let me know!

Oh, and you can get a little graphic to show your allegiance. Just like this one!

Blogged.com Blog Directory

FanFou — It’s Chinese for Twitter

Fanfou1 For many who work with social media, Twitter has become an indispensible tool. It allows us to keep in passive contact with our connected friends no matter where we or they may be located. And while the Twitter user base continues to grow there are other solutions that do much the same thing, but in a different language. Take a look at FanFou for example.

This great post shows how you can tap into the Chinese conversation — even if you don’t speak the language (just follow the instructions) — or check out the YouTube clip. There are many Chinese people who speak and write a small amount of English, so it is possible to engage in basic online conversation (also for Firefox users, add this auto-translation button to your Favourites bar). And with the Beijing Olympics coming up later this year … and many questions round the "Tibet Situation", it could be a fascinating way to gain some insight into China and Chinese thinking ahead of time.

So, now I just need to figure out how to translate "servantofchaos". Hmmm … maybe I should just stick to "Gavin Heaton" for now! If you are interested, you can find me at FanFou.com/servantofchaos

Call for Speakers — Interesting South — May 12

Interesting South
Originally uploaded by cityofsound

While it seems hardly anytime at all since we held the inaugural Interesting South conference, we are already well into planning the next event …

So, I want you to do TWO things:
1. Come join our Facebook group
2. Mark MAY 12 in your diary!

AND if you feel you would like to contribute to the event as a speaker, check out the Facebook page, download the speakers nomination form (see below) and send it through to me! Looking forward to it!

Download interesting_south_speaker_topic_form.doc

Pimp Our Ads

Pimpourads If the medium is the message as Marshall McLuhan suggested, then it seems that the RTA here is on the right track with their Pimp Our Ads campaign. The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority have created a site that serves up buckets of content for young people to mashup. Not only can they create their own posters (targeting their friends with road safety messaging), they can also win a great prize for their creative efforts (that’s right they can win a car). The message, the medium, the incentive and the target audience all combine to create a great digital campaign.

And as Trevor Cook points out, the six week campaign with a budget of around $60,000 saw about 8000 new ads created by the kids who were the target of the message. How is that for ROI?

What The Hoff?

I don’t know what I like most about this … whether it is The Hoff on the judging panel of a talent quest, or the young girl who does an awesome yodelling performance.

Friday Folly — March 14, 2008

Christvertising Just when I was wondering what to write up for today’s Friday Folly, I was rescued by a tweet from Tim Brunelle pointing out this fantastic site. It is a MUST SEE for anyone working in marketing/advertising. There are some fantastic pointers for us all:

We skip the strategic deliverables. We pas on the matrixes, the payoffs and the metrics. We ignore any viral functionality. We focus on the ultimate end-user …

And, ok, it may not exactly be a Friday Folly … but it may make you smile at the end of a busy week.

The Future of Your Brand is Play — Part 2

The Future of Your BrandThis article is part of the series — The Future of Your Brand Is … which will be unfolding here over the coming weeks. Check out The Futue of Your Brand is Play — Part 1 here.

When I think back on my childhood friends and how those friendships started, I am amazed. I try to think what it was that drew me towards a particular child. I wonder what he or she saw in me. How did I negotiate the subtle rituals of friendship and why does “finding” new friends become more difficult as you grow older?

One of my nephews is master “friender” and I have been fascinated by his approach for years. I watch as he approaches groups of unknown kids. I observe his body language … when he hesitates, when he moves forward. I listen to his tone of voice. And I watch the other kids too. I love the naivety and openness of the way he interacts. It is both completely self conscious and unknowing. It is a complex performance which I should, by rights, pay to see.

But the thing that makes this work is that the kids are playing with the same building blocks. At this stage of life, the world is relatively small. Our personal knowledge bases are just being established. We are still learning. Filtering. Growing.

And while the ease with which most kids operate are bound up in the complex rules of our societies and cultures, they are also subject to the developmental themes that permeate our young lives. Understanding these themes explains at least a little, how we make friends and provides vital clues for brands seeking to reach new markets. We only need to test against a certain number of criteria before we discover an affinity … and from that affinity we can build a more grounded relationship — one experience at a time.

Branding and kid’s play
In the first part of The Future of Your Brand is Play, I talked about why some kids advertising works really well — because it taps into the nature and methods of kid’s play (and I used the Green Machine as an example). There are four major elements to this:
P — for power
L — for learning and curiosity
A — for adventure
Y — the yelp of surprise and delight

By structuring your messaging and experience design around these elements you are actually working with the major developmental themes of childhood. For example, when kids introduce themselves to each other, one of the last things they do is say their name. It is peripheral to the task at hand. The first step is to establish affinity — to walk through the building blocks of personal development, giving and taking, finding connections and moving to the next. If there are enough connections across these developmental themes, then the kids will become friends — at least for a period of time — and they become friends because they have created a context within which “friending” can occur. From that point, it is all about shared experience, social currency and, to be honest, shared infatuations.

But for brands to manifest these elements correctly, it needs to go deeper. There are four elements but a number of themes … and the more themes you touch upon, the faster and more completely will your strategy work. The themes and corresponding elements are as follows (let me know if you can see more):
P — for Power

  • Demanding of attention
  • Testing limits (boundaries around behaviour, responsibility etc)
  • Controlling the controllable
  • Belonging

L — for learning and curiosity

  • Skills development
  • Negotiation

A — for adventure

  • Exploring an ever changing world
  • Actively making the world a better place

Y — the yelp of surprise and delight

  • Recognition and reward
  • Self expression

The Green Machine - the future of your brand is playGreen with Envy? No it’s a Green Machine!

Using the Green Machine example, let’s take a look at how and why these elements and themes work.

P — for power
The name of the “Green Machine” provides a link to power. It organises the product around the sense of power that comes from automation. Clearly the child who rides a Green Machine is a tester of boundaries.

The design of the product is also aggressive — and innovative. While bikes have a standard set of handle bars, the Green Machine forgoes these, using hand levers instead. This means you will stand out from the crowd — attention (and plenty of it) will be yours.

L — for learning and curiosity
As infants start to gain a sense of their bodies, a wonderful transformation comes over the faces. They hold their hands up near their faces and watch as they control the small movements of their fingers. Not only is this a moment of mastery, but also a powerful stimulant to learn.

The design of the Green Machine is clearly radical. It immediately raises a lot of questions. What is it like to ride? How does the steering work? Will my friends think I am cool with this? There are questions of aspiration but also questions to do with the EXPERIENCE of the Green Machine. Just like the infant who suddenly becomes aware of her fingers, tapping into the experiential nature of this toy is a powerful attractant for kids.

A — for adventure
One of the things that I like about the Green Machine is that it is a DISRUPTIVE experience for kids. It turns the idea of a bike on its head. It moves away from “function” and focuses on designing a powerful experience for kids. In many ways the Green Machine is a non-linear innovation in the trajectory of bikes, and while it may not represent a permanent break — it exposes kids to the IDEA of an alternative.

And, of course, there are the standard elements of adventure in the product as well — a sense of challenge and “otherness”, the opportunity for mastery and control and the alignment of our sense of self with a brand/product that exists on the margin.

Y — the yelp of surprise and delight
Crossing over with Adventure, the sense of self expression that comes from the Green Machine is powerful. It is quite visceral. In my mind, I can hear the sound of the plastic wheels crunching across the concrete. I can feel the skidding. But most of all, I can hear my yell as it all happens. Clearly, this is going to be a fun toy. A fad perhaps. But a lot of fun.

Developing infatuations
One of the things that the Green Machine also does successfully is to provide its owner with instant social credibility. But this also extends to friends and acquaintances. There is an abundance of social currency in even standing next to it. The lure of social currency introduces us to the idea infatuation. Is it really the product or the brand that we want? Or is it what comes with it — the experience, the kudos, the shiny sheen of adulation (real or perceived)?

This public infatuation provides kids with a topic around which they can communicate that extends beyond their common developmental bonds. Through the experience of playing, using and sharing the Green Machine, kids are able to enter into a language that describes their shared world while also reinforcing it. Even the child whose infatuation is unrequited (ie who does not have access to the toy) can share in this experience. The product designers and copywriters have done their job well — providing kids with a language for infatuation — from the “adjustable bucket seats” through to the “hug the road tip-proof design” (and let’s face it, how many kids really will ride this on a road?). But by activating the PLAY elements and series of developmental themes, there is something greater to be learned … this is not just about kids, kids marketing or even play. It is about centering your brand around the experience of its greatest proponents. What we now call “word of mouth” was practiced daily in the schoolyards of my youth. Understanding that play is ageless opens yet another door to the future of your brand.

Play is ageless — content in the age of digital strategy
The Internet, social media, Web 2.0, game consoles and so on have brought a level of play into the world of adults and into the world of business. As Jordan McCollum points out, a study by Burst Media demonstrates that a range of age groups consider that Internet content is focused on their age group:

  • 76% of 18-24 year olds believe this
  • 73.9% of 25-34 year olds believe this
  • 55.7% of 35-44 year olds believe this

And while the figures are massive from a targeting and positioning point of view something doesn’t add up. Well, it doesn’t add up in the world of old media and stale demographics. What this does suggest is that those who engage with and consume digital media do not conform to the patterns of behaviour that we have come to expect. This also means that if there is a belief that Internet content is focused around a wider number of people, then the potential reach of your branding efforts is mind bogglingly large. But how does a brand reach out to and engage with this wide, savvy and individualistic audience? This is about creating a bi-directional brand model. It is about tapping into the elements of PLAY and building your strategy around this. It is about KIDSPERIENCE.

My next excursion will take you into the world of “kidsperience”. 

Who Is Your Best Friend, Girls?

When I saw this ad the other night I laughed out loud. Audacious. Daring even. It apparently even caused outrage and complaint in the community which is a good sign of effectiveness. But would it make you buy the product? Penny Warneford, who is helping Kolotex with the campaign (or perhaps managing the crisis it has created) said, "The advertising is the result of extensive research which is right on target". It seems to me that she is right. And we have come a long way since the ads with the blue dye.

Intern with Seth Godin

Sounds like a golden opportunity that should be on the radar of all marketing grads (via David Bausola).

“The idea is to find a diverse group of motivated young people who want to join together to create a few really neat projects. The tools used will range from online video to blogs to copywriting to design. Topics might include politics or Squidoo or book promotion or inventing a new kind of web interaction … no scut work, no cold calling, stapling, collating or errands.”

But if you are interested, you had better get in quick smart!