Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rushing to Discover: The Only Way to Innovation

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Amazon's Smart Phone: Not so smart?

When I started as an early adopter in the agency world in the early mid-90s, Silicon Alley in New York corporates rushed to create websites once they realised the web was here to stay.

The good news was that they understood that a web presence was a competitive necessity - they knew everyone else had one, and the Internet was here to stay. The bad news is that they didn't understand what an effective presence actually entailed. So brochure-wear won over smarter ways of engaging clients and sustaining conversations.

Smart Phones seem to be going the same way - IHS has come out with a rather damning report about Amazon and their attempt to get into the market. Take a look.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Small world lessons: Reach out and hit someone important

I tell my clients, when on a plane, train, or automobile: just reach out, and you'll hit someone important.  Just try not to hit them too hard.

While you're apologising for dislodging a hat, why not start a conversation?   If you're persistent, you'll find a fan.

Something along these lines worked for Broad City,   It's a It's not just the web itself that is making the world a smaller place: it's also the pop culture we share on it that creates a bond that TV could never do at the same scale.  Their show gave everyone a big tap on the shoulder.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is Everyone a Really a Gamer?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fighting City Hall: How do you change the story so you win?

I live in a leafy suburb of London on purpose: after spending my infancy, childhood, and (til now) adulthood in Manhattan, I needed a break from relentlessly urban.

I love neighborhoods South of the river, and Shoreditch is very chic, but I crave more green space than they can provide.  Even in New York, I made sure I lived near the Park, no matter how many Superintendant doorbells I had to ring.

(It used to be that one way of finding an apartment in New York is to walk up and down the streets of the neighborhood you want and talk to Super's directly.  Sometimes you gave them "key money", sometimes they just didn't advertise an affordable flat and it was yours.  This I did for 3 months on until I found my home.)

In the name of housing shortages, there are plans to build a huge building in my 'hood that will not only block out the light in our local green space but also create the kind of wind tunnel one usually only feels when entering some tube stations.  That will be the end of our outdoor market.

The planning document is a sham - there are so many untruths, either from fraud or neglect, that it's untenable according to English law.  Despite the disproportionate amount of money on the builders' side, however, the neighborhood might well defeat them.

I haven't heard anything like it in New York since the 1970s.

So What?

What does this have to do with storytelling, leadership, and all the usual topics in this blog?  For justice in the US, the answer to a bad man with a gun certainly isn't a good man with a gun.  The answer is blasting away a credible but false story with a credible true one.

(Would someone take on that gun story, for a start?)

It's not news that politics is all about which story is most persuasive to the right people to win the day in the same way that history belongs to the victor.

In New York, we call countering the dominant narrative "Fighting City Hall."  Here, I guess you'd call it arguing with the local council.  Has less of a ring to it, but it actually could be more effective.

Why?  There's a transparency in England, I've found, not available in the US, probably because of the difference in scale.  If a story is not true, there are more people closer to the centre of power who can expose it.  When the story breaks, all the news is national.  It is even more quickly international because many in the US who get their news from BBC Worldwide.

In the US, who lives within 4 hours from the White House?  In England, who doesn't?

English culture is built on a premise that the US lacks, and it's equally important in the fight for transparency of storytelling: people here believe that things should be fair.  It's not just an inward complaint, either.  When I approach friends, they say, "Of course things should be fair.  What are you talking about?"

My Fellow Americans, can you imagine a country where everyone believed in a reality that prioritised fairness, if not always in practice, than at least in everyday theory?  How many of the stories that you know are false would you stand up and fight with a better story - from local or federal government, from corporations, from people trying to get you fired, from anyone who's lying, really?

*For anyone interested in helping fight developers who will come to your neighborhood next, please keep your eye on 100 Avenue Road in Camden.  Link to follow.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When Navigating Investment, Good to Know What's Out There

I came across Private Capital 101 and thought I'd share.  The article is selling something called The Pitch Book, and I'm not endorsing buying anything at all.

 But it's a hard road out there.  Good to know what's available, in case it's for you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marketing Reboot: Join Us Next Week with a Discount

I've had the honor to work with Tamsin Fox- Davies as a speaker next week in the Marketing Reboot.  Love the idea of shaking off the cobwebs and creating some momentum for 2014 in the midst of January blahs.  

Added bonus: you can have close to a 30% discount on the event if you enter ANNETTE20 when you register.

Here's Tamsin's blog post about what we're up to, and please join us if it catches your fancy.

How a Marketing Reboot Will Help Your Business in 2014, in Three Steps
What is a Marketing Reboot
A Marketing Reboot is when you take stock of your marketing to date, see what’s working for you, and make a plan to rework and restart it.
A New Year is a great time to do this because most of us have the time over the Christmas & New Year lull to think about our businesses properly. The hamster wheel has stopped for a little while, you’re not getting quite so many customer emails, and your brain has time to breathe.
The start of a new year also just feels like a good time to try something different and 2014 will be no exception.
Rebooting your marketing is all about assessing the best ways to get new customers into your business and encouraging existing customers to come back to you again. You’ll look back over the past year and see what’s worked and what hasn’t, and also give yourself a clean slate to work out what’s possible for the upcoming year.
Why you need to reboot YOUR small business marketing
If I was being blunt, I would tell you that you were in a marketing rut – doing the same old things, over and over again, with little awareness of whether you could do things more effectively for better business returns.
That may be taking it a little to far, as a ‘rut’ sounds like a bad place to be, although actually it can be quite beneficial – keeping you on a simple track that allows you to keep moving without too much thought or effort.
In reality, both of these things are true. Your marketing rut both helps and hinders you – the help is that you can get it done and you know what you’re doing, and the hindering is that you don’t try anything new or look for different things to experiment with.
With the increasingly competitive small business market, nobody can afford to keep doing the same thing. This is because our customers expect us to evolve – even if they love our long-term values, they want to see a steady improvement in how we implement them.
This is where a Marketing Reboot comes in. Instead of carrying on with the same-old, same-old, you’re going to look at your marketing as a whole and take proper stock of where you are.
It’s not as hard as it might sound, and there are three easy steps you can use to get going now.
N.B. Constant Contact is running a great free training programme throughout January to help you learn new things and put them into action too. More details & booking here.
Three steps to doing your own Marketing Reboot
1.       Commit:
Intentions are not good enough. Make a commitment to DO this. The best way to do this is to be accountable to someone. For some people who like to be accountable to themselves alone, it’s enough to put a daily reminder in your mobile phone, write it on a sticky note and pin it on your notice board, or to say it out loud.
For others, getting a marketing buddy will be more effective. All you need to do is find someone else who runs a small business and wants to reboot their marketing too, and commit to do it together. Figure out how that’s going to work – are you going to email or call each other once a week with an update? Will you set goals together? Are you going to share a reward when you hit a target or milestone? You will be able to figure it out together, and if you don’t already know someone who could become your buddy, come along to our Marketing Reboot conference on 30thJanuary and find yourself a buddy there.
2.       Make a plan
Motivation alone won’t carry you through this process – you need to figure out exactly what you’re going to do in your reboot.
I recommend the following stages, but how you put it together is up to you (and your buddy, if you have one):
  • Take a sheet of paper, whiteboard or flipchart and write up everything you’ve done to promote your business in 2013.
  • Decide what worked and what didn’t, and annotate your list accordingly (if you don’t know for sure, take a guess).
  • Take a new piece of paper (or whatever you’re using to make your notes) and write down all the things you think you could do to promote your business and create great customer relationships in 2014. This is where a buddy with fresh eyes can really help, as they may think of things that you wouldn’t.
  • Look at the two lists side-by-side and compare. Is there anything that worked for 2013 that isn’t on your 2014 list? If so, why? What is new on your 2014 list?
  • Put the combined list in priority order.
3.       Set aside regular time for marketing (and use it)
Now you know what you’re going to do, you need a timetable to get it done. Look at your list, and work out when you are planning to achieve each one.
Start with the items that relate to specific times of year, e.g. Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Bank Holiday promotions, and put them in first. Then work back and fill in the gaps to see where your other items will fit. You can use our free marketing calendar  to help you work this out.
Now decide when you’re going actually DO this stuff. I recommend a regular appointment with yourself. Block it out in your diary and keep to it (this is another time that your marketing buddy can help to keep you on track).
I find it easier to block out a small amount of time (say 15mins) every day, rather than to try to put aside something like a whole day once a month, or a half a day a week. You may want to try some different schedules out and see what works for you however.
These three steps will ensure that you can get your Marketing Reboot planned and actioned – bit by bit.
Rebooting your marketing means a better chance at building those customer relationships that matter so much, creating more sales for your business, and drawing existing customers back to you again and again.
If you want to find out more about rebooting your marketing for 2014, how to do it, and some of the key marketing techniques that you should be using, join us for our Marketing Reboot series of webinars and the one-day conference in January. 

Find out more and book your place here