Friday, March 12, 2010
Most of the people at the booths there were in Sales or Marketing and were natural hams, so they were pretty easy going when I asked them to join in.
I think everyone here did a pretty good job. I learned a few things from a portable video capture perspective as well as the video elevator pitch perspective.
First the mechanical stuff....
The Kodak Zi8 rocks, but don't get too close. I used an external mic to capture better sound, but the cord just wasn't long enough to do my generous participants complete justice. You'll see some coffee cups in the background that are in perfect focus, while some of my subjects are a bit too close and fuzzy. If I had it to do all over again, I would add a long mic cable and bring a monopod. The camera actually did a credible job of capturing some of the screen detail especially if you watch the videos in HD.
Ok, with that out of the way, let's talk about the essence of an elevator pitch. I knew they were important, but I now appreciate their importance even more. In an era of social media, I believe its rapidly becoming the case that this is all we've got....a mere 30-45 seconds to make our case and how we deliver it may be just as important as what we have to say.
Keep it Tight - I asked everyone here to keep their pitch to between 30 and 45 seconds. Most people went about a minute and a half. That may work at the Burj Khalifa but I content that I don't think we have that long. Scratch the Burj comment, it turns out those elevators go 26.1 mph. Ok, I wasn't increadibly insistent on this point and these talented sales and marketing folks probably could have gotten very close if pressed, but I think you get my point. Even more important than speed is structure. How many points are you trying to get across? How well are the points organized? Do they develop the story in a compelling way? Do they facilitate the retelling of the story? Beta is volitility metric used to describe stock. Perhaps we should have a similar metric for the variability of the delivery of our messages.
Make Sure Everyone Can Do It - I went to a couple of the booths and the people standing there said so and so is our elevator pitch person. In some cases I had to come back. I guess the challenge here is what if I was a customer? ...and for some of these products, I probably am. The challenge to make the pitch eminently consummable falls to me an my marketing brethern. Us marketers need to make the story so easy to deliver and consume that anyone can do it.
Having Everyone Reherse Isn't Enough - The story, I content, needs to be tight, tight, tight. And one size never fits all. To do this really, really well, everyone needs a tightly architected story and a few alternative beginnings, middles, and ends that they can weave in. I believe there is a phase when we are first learning about a new idea - probably the first 15 seconds, when our ability to absorb that idea is most at peril. Some scientist has probably already given this a name. Please comment on the blog if you know it, but I am certain we are going to spend a lot more time talking about this window in marketing and advertising circles in the near future. As our brains try to connect elements of a new idea, we are at our most dismissive. I believe the part of the brain that processes this information is permanently set to skeptical. Unless we can explain it in plain english in a compelling way, we tune out. We may tune out because we don't have the foggiest idea of what the speaker is saying or it just doesn't sound interesting or convincing. While these folks all did a good job, think of what happens when you try to scale a message in your company. Not easy and not trivial.
Authenticity Trumps All - We've evolved as a species. No one could possibly hear a cigarette commerical today touting their health benefits and not become enraged. We know when we are being sold to. The hair on the backs of our necks stands up. Furthermore we pretty much hate it. That type of convincing someone to absorb and idea or take an action is very win - lose. This doesn't mean that we hate marketers or hate sales people, but they have to work harder appeal to us. Yes you have to understand our situation and you have to tell your story in a way that connects with us and a challenge we are facing. It's often said that people buy from people. This could easily be refined to be people buy from people they trust. Trust, I believe, comes from empathy, understanding, and the ability to convey an authentic belief that what you have solves the pain you are addressing.
A Picture Says a 1000 Words....and a 1 minute video is 150mb of pictures. To be fair here, most of these folks were somewhat put on the spot with a instant request to contribute to the content of a Sales 2.0 "we are going to share everything" kind of show and I'd give everyone here at least a "good" rating for their effort, but you will clearly see that some people are more comfortable than others. With the voice quality essentially normalized by my average quality lapel mic, and the video quality normalized to mediocre by my developing flash video skillset and the length of the microphone cable, note what you pick up in how people display emotion as they connect the dots of their solution.
I would say this is a fair look at what good to better than good looks like in the world today when it comes to elevator pitches. I would like to thank each of these brave souls for participating, and congratulate them for generally being at the top of their class. Having said that, I think us marketing types have our work cut out for us as we help our organizations content with what may be our most important message delivery vehicle today. When you think about it, it may be the most viral thing we can do.
Friday, December 4, 2009
I felt horrible about it. My family has been life long Sony bigots. Our first color TV was a Sony and we've had a strong preference for Sony products ever since including desktops, laptops, DVD players, stereos, Walkmen, clock radios, etc..
Not only had Elaine bought the laptop I recommended, she recommended Sony to several other people some of whom also bought.
Elaine resolved to never buy another Sony product ever again. .....This is where the story gets interesting from a marketing standpoint. Every time I suggest buying a new product that happens to be Sony, I get brow beaten to death. Elaine also tells anyone that will listen that she'll never buy a Sony product again. The result of all this Sony dogma is that I haven't bought another Sony product since Elaine's laptop failed two years ago.
It's a real shame for Sony too. We are both in the information technology industry and to say we are heavy consumers of technology would be an understatement. To give you some insight, Elaine is willingly accompanying me to CES this January for the second time since we've been going out, and both trips were personal and had nothing to do with our jobs. I believe we are the ideal consumers for an electronics company...early adopters who generally get asked by our friends, both male and female, what models of popular electronics they should buy.
We really aren't gamers (except for Elaine's new for an early Christmas present Nintendo Wii). However, tonight I told Elaine that I wanted to get a Sony PS3 because after comparison shopping, it looks like a very credible Blueray player that will be easily upgradable for some time to come. The first words out of Elaine's mouth were: "I am not paying for that." I would have never thought to ask her to contribute to my pursuit of 1080p (Blueray resolution), but she went on breathing Sony fire and damnation for several minutes more.
Effectively because Sony had no concept of how connected Elaine was to so many tech consumers, Sony screwed themselves by not fixing a known defect with Elaine's laptop. She can't help but badger me into not buying their products which compelled me to write this blog entry as an interesting marketing issue.
This story begins before the heavy use of the type of social media that will now see this story go from my marketing blog to my Twitter account and then on to my Facebook account automatically.
From a new marketing angle, this story made me think of two principles:
1. The Perpetual Profile - Businesses don't spend enough time profiling customers after they buy. We know we want them to buy again, so if they spend a few thousand dollars with us, shouldn't we figure out who they are? Elaine is a Technology Development VP, spent $2,000 on our laptop and lives with Ken who loves(ed) Sony. Perpetually profiling people who spend bigger dollars with us would be a necessary step to realize the theoretical lifetime value we all strive to achieve.
2. Poor Product Support Judgement Calls in the Social Era will Kill Brands - Effectively, some unimpowered support rep in the bowels of Sony effectively ruined my lifetime relationship and value for Sony and I am not even the one that had the direct issue.
Both these points speak to the need to get much smarter about how we deal with our customers and increasingly the web of people they influence and those who influence them. The good news is that for the products we like, we will give away this information freely. Everything Sony needed to know to alert them, perhaps electronically, that screwing up this issue would be a costly landmine for them was there for the taking.
Sony, I think you lost your opportunity to be our One and Only, but maybe there's still hope to get your act together and save a few more people like me.
The lesson for most companies is that your installed base matters. In fact they are the engine of your growth which is now amplified positively and negatively in the social era. Fail to identify or ignore those who have been your biggest or most loyal customers and deeply suffer the consequences. We used to say that those who had a bad experience told 10 others. This may be a more modern case, but I think it is the shape of things to come. So we are going to have to revise the phrase.
People who know people who've had a bad experience tell thousands of others. (via social media).
The good news, Sony, is that there is a short window to learn from your mistakes. The reverberating effect of Social Media is well documented, but its impact is really just revving up. Act fast and my second LCD TV may not be another Samsung.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
So we've been chatting recently with a vendor, Corporate Visions. They follow the
approach that a message that sticks is one that's wrapped in emotion. It's amazing to see when this technique is executed well. This video that a friend pointed me to is not new new, in fact 150k plus people have already seen it. But I think the folks at Grasshopper.com (actually the agency they hired) really nailed this approach.
It's interesting to note how intertwined the notion of making a message stick, something good salespeople have known how to do forever, and our expectations associated with new and social media.
Clearly we all want to feel something, and we all have very high expectations of social media in this regard. I think this notion is perhaps an extension of my last post, The Importance of Being Earnest.
So....I now have a request.
Please add comments to this blog with links to messages that you think were made to stick - messages wrapped in emotion. I wanna see what you got.
Go ahead, try to make me cry.... or laugh. Actually, I have a strong preference for laughing.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Importance of Being Earnest in Social Media; or What Facebook and Twitter Should Do to Save Themselves from Becoming Irrelevant
According to KGB.com 183 Billion e-mail messages are sent per day. I would give them a shout out, but it looks like this number is from 2007. Also they didn't give me an answer to the second half of my question for my 99 cent text message investment which was - how much of this is spam? Maybe the KGB just doesn't know. Afterall, they lost some of their best spooks to capitalism after the iron curtain fell.
Well wikipedia does and it is free! Wikipedia led me to this reference from the New York Times. Spamalot? Why yes we do. 94% of the time as it turns out. So approximately 2,000,000 e-mail messages are sent every second of every day and 1,880,000 are pure crap that we don't want.
My financee's brother actually works at the post office. He told me that the only thing that is really keeping them alive is junk mail. In fact, like e-mail it is the bulk of what they move these days. I got on the USPS' marketers spam list and they send me all sorts of paper materials telling me how green they are. They actually sent me a large express mail envelope to tell me they weren't going to be sending me the T-shirt they offered me. That they sent later in another large package, in the wrong size of course. Forget about solar power and hydrogen cars. It seems the greenist thing the US Government could do is close the Post Office. (Sorry future brother-in-law. I'll help you bounce pack with a new startup that sells spam filters on late night infomercials using Swedish models that austensibly made the stuff...oops that one has been done Remind me to stop staying up to watch Craig Ferguson.)
So where am I going with this? Well the Post Office is dying a slow death at a rate of one cent price hikes a year and service cutbacks until we all give up. E-mail is almost dead on arrival. Myspace and Friendster lost their mojo before they even tried to stretch to reach my demographic. What do they all have in common? They are filled with crap!
Recently I've been experimenting with feeding content to Twitter. (see The Need for Feed). I am trying to use the technique for good - serving up interesting data sources that people can actually use. I have become painfully aware of the potential to use these techniques for evil though. Last week two guys I went to high school with both crapped in the walled garden that is supposed to be my Facebook account on the same day. They both posted some BS about this new energy drink called efusjon. It's a multi-level marketing company selling some acai berry sugar water. Supposed to save your life not just dangerously elevate your sugar levels and rot your teeth. Apparently part of their "viral" marketing was to get some dudes from my high school to spam me with their fake musings about this garbage.
There you have it. The beginning of the end. One day you'll nod knowingly when your using Farcebluch.com instead.
Attention all entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley - this is your shining opportunity. Build us a social communication platform that keeps this crap out! Of course we need to buy things to keep whatever it is we are talking about afloat, but can't you at least try to address our interests? If Facebook did this they would know that the only acai berry I consume is made into Pinkberry style frozen yogurt. That's unrealistically specific for the time being, but you get my point.
So what does it mean to be earnest in Social media? It means making a college try to be relevant. Sure we can't all possibly keep up with the information demands of the hungry new communication mediums alone, but we have to try to keep content flowing that is at least interesting to our audience.
I am going to offer up The Cocktail Party Rule for Social Media.
If it is not a reasonable leap from the context or the topic in a group chat at a cocktail party, don't go there.
I send a link to this blog to our corporate Twitter account. I work at Oracle Corporation and market our CRM solutions. I think it is a reasonable leap that someone interested in CRM may be wrestling with the same new marketing concepts I blog about.
On the other hand, if a group of guys is gathered around the punch bowl, Mojito vat, beer tub, or Franzia box (depending on what kind of cocktail party you are having) talking about whether the Palm Pre has a snowball's chance in hell of tarnishing Apple's shine, you don't bring up the fact that your wife, the tennis coach just started selling some acai berry fizzy water out of her trunk.
It's a nonsequitor and it is annoying. It's worse than annoying in fact. It's that feeling of trepidation every time you open up your Yahoo inbox or your mailbox for that matter.
So what does this all mean? The power is in your hands. It's in all of our hands. Just use the The Cocktail Party Rule for Social Media and we'll all be fine, and we won't stop having to change communication mediums every 6-12 months. ....or will we?
See you on Farcebluch.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Recently, I've started experimenting with pushing some of the content that I feel is most relevant to the people I interact with as well as the public at large. It's been fun to watch the reactions and the results.
http://www.twitter.com/topcrmbloggers is a feed I set up that aggregates what I consider to be the best CRM Bloggers out there. You'll note that I have 33 followers in just a week without even trying. The feed of this twitter handle in turn feeds one of our Netvibes pages. Entropy yes, but we are serving up content at different potential access points for different users.
I also set up a fun feed of Odd News which I love to read while on the bus. It started on @pulverman on Twitter and is now featured on @OddNewsNetwork. @pulverman will now be an aggregation of the top Marketing 2.0 blogs starting tomorrow as well as my shorter musings on the world of Marketing 2.0. From the same feed as OddNewsNetwork I select one post at random once a day and feed my personal Twitter feed, @bolobao. This in turn updates Facebook providing a bit of fun for friends to see and comment on.
On slow news days, I know that at least the feeds I've set up are keeping various sites up-to-date with interesting content.
These are early days in my feed experiments, but I imagine marketers everywhere are struggling with these same issues.
Like a good blog post, I think in the final analysis, what you chose to feed to your social marketing efforts like what you post on your blog will be judged on relevance. If it is relevant - aggregated feeds crafted with the love and personality you apply to a post - it will be appreciated.
I'll no doubt keep tuning my feeds to make them ever more relevant and interesting. I just sent my Yelp reviews to my personal Twitter (@bolobao) and our Delicious posts (www.delicious.com/OracleCRM) to our work Twitter account (@OracleCRM). Perhaps RSS and Twitter aren't quite as cozy at PB&J yet, but I would like to submit that we all have the need for feed, even newspapers, making this combo perhaps your own personal Associated Press.