Marketing is Magic

If you have an hour to spare, watch this talk or listen to the podcast from magician x marketing consultant Ferdinando Buscema (I listened at the gym this morning).

He says three things that are absolutely brilliant:

"What we see and how we see it depend on the arts that have influenced us.” --Oscar Wilde


"Any company that wants to thrive and survive profitably better devote some energy to the creation of an experience which is engaging, immersive, pleasant, and meaningful.

He also borrows a military term to describe the world we live in today: VUCA — Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. He argues, as I do, that leaders and marketers have to be able to relate to consumers who are immersed in that way of thinking. Influencing perspectives and behavior is much less about command and control and much more about going with the flow.

How To Make A Viral Video

Or maybe it's how to make a video viral. Anyway, our newest intern, Benjamin Espiritu, is a filmmaker who has at least one viral video to his credit.

Check it out here and learn how a combination of passion, talent, and innovative thinking combine to create success.

Nice work, Benjamin!

What You Can Learn From A Three Year Old

My son says a lot of crazy shit. My Facebook friends already know this. He's about to turn four, and for the last year or so he has consistently blown my mind with funny, insulting, insightful, and generally just really honest comments.

One thing that stands out is that as he continues to learn to speak, he makes a lot of mistakes. That is, he violates the conventions of the English language, and it's often because the rules of our language violate the rules of common sense. For example, at a recent visit to the park, he reminisced:

"You throwed the ball, and I catched it."

As I started to correct him, I realized he was right, in a way. "Throwed" is a perfectly logical conjugation of "to throw." And it makes a ton more sense than "threw." Don't even get me started on "caught."

This blog is not about linguistics, so I won't go into the finer points here about how language will continuously evolve and change based on the actual usage by native speakers.

My point is that somewhere along the way, some guy (I'm guessing old white guys) decided that the word was "threw" and not "throwed." In doing so, they made life harder, albeit possibly just a tiny bit harder, for potentially billions of consumers of the English language to buy their product.

You might do well to ask yourself what rules you've set up, or accepted without questioning, that make it harder for people to buy from you, to engage with your brand, or to evangelize your message.

Think about it. Or give us a call and we can help you figure out what's standing in the way of success and how to clear the path.

Four ways to make SXSW better

I’ve just returned from year one of SXSW V2V — a Las Vegas spinoff of what has become an annual cavalcade of emerging music, technology, film, and an increasing number of really bad brand activations. You can read my take on V2V here, here, and here. What attracted me to V2V was the fact that it was smaller and more focused. I go to Austin for most years, and while I do enjoy it, I find it harder every year to justify from a business perspective, since the throngs of semi-pro tourists and the democratization of festival content seem to have taken a lot of the power out of the conference. I figured with only 1,500 people, and content narrowly covering innovation and entrepreneurship, we could collectively create a bit more value.

I was right, sort of. In general, I’d say that most of the presentations were at the Beginner level, but the small size and concentrated area kept the vibe more intimate and made for more productive conversations.

That said, here are five suggestions I’d like to offer the SXSW crew, not that they asked:

  1. Do more to facilitate connections between attendees. Sure, there are plenty of networking breaks, but that’s not enough. For example:
    1. The app and website should contain a social network. Contact me if you want to see examples of this done well.
    2. Badges should be scannable by smartphone. I met a bunch of folks without business cards. Their fault, to be sure, but you can still create more value here.
  2. Curate an Advanced track with speakers who push the boundaries of what practitioners need to know. The most common feedback I heard from friends after most sessions was “that was a lot of common sense.” I’d argue that common sense is good for people to hear over and over, but balance that with folks pushing the envelope.
  3. Offer videos of every talk for registered attendees to watch on the site. We can’t make every talk and sometimes have to skip one. We should be able to go back and watch it later.
  4. Let Behance (or someone) work with all of the presenters to design their decks. Some folks have great things to say but don’t have expertise in Keynote. Your audience shouldn’t suffer because you can’t make a good deck (although you really should work on your deck skills).

You Need to Pay Attention

Day 3 of SXSW V2V was short for me, thanks to the impending feeling that work is piling up while I sit in conference sessions. I did manage to catch one talk before the flight home. Liz Bacelar of Decoded Fashion and Jennifer Taler of Stitch Factory spoke about how technology is impacting the fashion industry. Stitch Factory is a co-working space for designers, part of the Downtown Project, and Decoded hosts fashion-centric hackathons in partnership with major fashion events around the world.

Both are on the cutting edge of what’s driving all modern businesses — not limited to fashion — collaboration. The key takeaway here was that you aren’t going to be successful anymore by just keeping your head down in your own industry. You have to pay attention to the ways that technology is shaping consumer experiences, and you have to look for inspiration and ideas from other industries.

They also gave a long list of companies doing interesting things in the space. Email me if you want a copy. Also check out my take on Day 1 and Day 2. And come back tomorrow for a bit of unsolicited feedback I'm going to offer the folks at SXSW.