Insights from Nebo

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February 10, 2009

A case study on how Obama used social media

After each presidential campaign analysts always create "how they won" articles and case studies that outline key points that led to a candidate's success. And after a big win such as the one that took place in November, multiple versions of the "how obama won" narrative are being crafted. He won by understanding the primary process better than his competitors, he won by going back to basics and emphasizing traditional offline organizing tactics supplemented with online technology (peer to peer communications & canvassing), and of course he won by using social media.

Exploring the social media narrative and pointing out some rather impressive statistics on the scope & reach of the online campaign is a very detailed presentation by Igor Beuker to 150 marketers at the SRM Guru meeting 2009 in Amsterdam.

The presentation is embedded below.

February 6, 2009

A good project brief can make all the difference

A successful project starts with a great brief, but all too often the brief is looked at as merely a step in the process. A checkbox to be filled before design starts.

What is a good project brief?

Simple, it's one that provides much needed context (including goals) and guides the team towards a solution. If you want great work to come out at the end of the process; you have to have great work at the beginning of the process.

The classic example to illustrate the importance of briefs is the Sistine Chapel (yes, there was a brief for that).

Below are a variety of different approaches that Michelangelo could've received. One of these is the real one.

1.) Please paint the ceiling

2.) Please paint the ceiling using red, green and yellow paint

3.) We've got terrible problems with our ceiling. Can you cover it up for us?

4.) Please paint biblical scenes on the ceiling incorporating the following: God, Adam, Angels, Devils & Saints.

5.) Please paint our ceiling for the greater glory of God, and as an inspiration and lesson to his people.

It's probably pretty obvious which is the real one. The last option (#5) is the brief he actually received. "Please paint our ceiling for the greater glory of God, and as an inspiration and lesson to his people." It states the task at hand, elucidates the goals and is inspirational. It includes the core elements of what makes a great project brief.

So remember, great work starts with a great brief.

January 30, 2009

NeboWeb Book Club: Positioning (the battle for your mind)

One of our 2009 goals was to create a team work environment that fostered peer learning. So, we decided to start a company book club. The first book we decided to tackle was the marketing classic, "Positioning."

Here at neboweb, we do our book clubs a little bit different. We don't just sit around and talk about the books -- we work to apply the concepts. I was given the honor and responsibility of leading our inaugural session.

We started out reviewing the key concepts laid out in the book, and then we started a real world positioning exercise on how to brand the city of Atlanta to attract more tourists. If anyone is interested in the final concept we developed, I'll create a follow up blog post with the team's positioning work.

The presentation is above for those of you that might be interested.

January 21, 2009

Communities rely on social interaction & engagement

Launching a successful web-based community is hard. And marketers make it even harder by treating online communities as completely separate entities from their website. This silo-based approach usually fails. Instead companies need create more social experiences on their core websites.

What creates a feeling of community isn't the ability to upload a profile picture and say 150 words about yourself. A community is created through participation and engagement. The act of identifying your favorites, making recommendations, rating stores, commenting on services & products. Starting and participating in dialogues. Voting in contests and choosing winners. These are social interactions that your users will adopt. They feel natural.

Are these ideas new? No, they're not. They've been around as long as the web has, but sometimes we trend too far from the basics when presented with a paradigm shift such as the rise in social networks.

Don't try to compete with facebook by adding profiles and blogs for your customers. Instead focus on allowing your audience to have natural, social interactions that make sense. Focus on engaging users with interactive features that spur dialogue and increase participation.

January 20, 2009

Ron Popeil should get more credit

Over the weekend I happened upon an old Malcom Gladwell article about the inventor & pitchman, Ron Popeil (of "Set it & forget it" rotisserie fame).

A couple things struck me about him.

1.) His approach to marketing & product development is a lot like Steve Jobs

Now don't get me wrong -- Apple's products are way more advanced than the stuff Ron Popeil prototypes in his kitchen -- but, they both have a commitment to that initial vision of their product and have an obsession with perfection.

"Alan Backus says that after the first version of the Showtime (rotisserie) came out Ron began obsessing over the quality and evenness of the browning and became convinced that the rotation speed of the spit wasn't quite right. The original machine moved at four revolutions per minute. Ron set up a comparison test in his kitchen, cooking chicken after chicken at varying speeds until he determined that the optimal speed of rotation was actually six r.p.m. One can imagine a bright-eyed M.B.A. clutching a sheaf of focus-group reports and arguing that Ronco was really selling convenience and healthful living, and that it was foolish to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars retooling production in search of a more even golden brown. But Ron understood that the perfect brown is important for the same reason that the slanted glass door is important: because in every respect the design of the product must support the transparency and effectiveness of its performance during a demonstration--the better it looks onstage, the easier it is for the pitchman to go into the turn and ask for the money."

2.) They came up with a new approach to product development. The Popeil approach merged marketing & product development.

"They believed that it was a mistake to separate product development from marketing, as most of their contemporaries did, because to them the two were indistinguishable: the object that sold best was the one that sold itself. They were spirited, brilliant men."

3.) He was more persistent than he was talented.

"Roderick Dorman, Ron's patent attorney, says that when he went over to Coldwater Canyon he often saw five or six prototypes on the kitchen counter, lined up in a row. Ron would have a chicken in each of them, so that he could compare the consistency of the flesh and the browning of the skin, and wonder if, say, there was a way to rotate a shish kebab as it approached the heating element so that the inner side of the kebab would get as brown as the outer part. By the time Ron finished, the Showtime prompted no fewer than two dozen patent applications. It was equipped with the most powerful motor in its class. It had a drip tray coated with a nonstick ceramic, which was easily cleaned, and the oven would still work even after it had been dropped on a concrete or stone surface ten times in succession, from a distance of three feet. To Ron, there was no question that it made the best chicken he had ever had in his life."