How to create an enchanting event

Ever since I read Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment, I have looked for products and services that meet Guy’s high standards for enchanting your customer.

Last week, I found an enchanting experience in the form of the GSMI Blogging Strategies Summit. The event enchanted me because it provided great content, intimacy, the right attendees, personal service, and an intriguing location.

If you host events as part of your marketing outreach, I hope your next event contains these essential elements:

1. Great content

A successful experience begins with great content. It’s obvious, right? But most events I’ve attended — even excellent ones — do not give your uniformly great content. Lurking in the agenda are always a few dud speakers who have you running for a self-imposed break.

But I was impressed by every session I attended at the Blogging Strategies Summit. The purpose of the event was to share best practices in corporate blogging and community management. The speakers ranged from Duane Forrester of Bing (who discussed the importance of optimizing your content for search marketing) to Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tMedia Strategies, who led workshops on blogging for women and executives.

Duane Forrester

At some point you’d think that so much focus on a single topic would lapse into the realm of geekiness or irrelevancy. Such was not the case at the Blogging Strategies Summit. Why? Because all the topics, however esoteric, tied back business needs everyone cares about, such as servicing customers or improving your brand.

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Crowdsourcing Charlene Li’s new book

Conventional wisdom says that you cannot write a book by committee.  Charlene Li of Altimeter Group is trying to dispel that idea, to some degree.

As she’s researched and written her forthcoming book Open, Charlene has relied on her blog and Twitter account to collect ideas such as the title of her book.  It looks like her approach is to ask very targeted questions (“international examples of ‘open’ organizations and leaders needed”) to meet a need, which I suspect sparks better input than open-ended queries.

Crowdsourcing is nothing new, but I believe thought leaders like Charlene are taking the right approach in reaching out to readers and followers for ideas.  At the least, the very act of soliciting input raises visibility for her book in the early going, and I’d like to think that even rejected ideas might prove useful for another endeavor down the road.

Firms like Forrester are looking at ways to crowdsource their research.  The Forresters of the world (correctly) take a careful, measured approach, assessing whether it’s possible to actually create a valid sample through, say, the Twitter universe.

What’s the best example of crowdsourcing you’ve seen in the development of thought leadership?

Digital Darwinism at Cannes

Is there such a thing as a digital brand? Joe Crump certainly thinks so.

Joe is an executive in the strategy practice of Avenue A | Razorfish, my employer. On June 21 at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, Joe will unveil the top 10 digital brands based on a new scorecard (created by Avenue A | Razorfish) known as the Brand Gene Scoreboard.

Joe contends that brands need to view the digital world differently than the off-line world. In his view, digital is “ruthlessly Darwinian.” Consumers form impressions of your website in milliseconds. If they don’t like what they see, they can shut you out forever with one easy mouse click. Or tell their friends how boring you are you on blogs, review sites, and social hangouts like Facebook.

His view: brands must tap into the immersive and social nature of digital to survive. They have to be more fast moving than ever if they want to put digital at the core of their success. He’s decided to do something about it by developing the Brand Gene Scoreboard to help companies assess how digital their brands really are.

The scorecard identifies seven attributes such as immersion (how easy it is for a consumer to become engaged with your digital home), social (whether a consumer finds your brand worth sharing), and adaptive (how well a brand responds to a consumer’s digital environment), among other qualities. Flickr, Netflix, and Nike score well when measured by the scorecard. But some of the leading brands according to Interbrand, like GE and IBM, perform poorly when we apply the Brand Gene Scoreboard to measure their digital brand savvy.

Joe’s point of view is not without controversy. To the naysayers, there is no such thing as a digital brand anymore than there are digital people. You don’t need digital to make your brand “social” — good-old fashioned word of mouth occurs in the offline world all the time and will continue to do so. And brick-and-mortar stores like American Girl illustrate that you don’t need digital to be immersive.

And yet . . . digital is different. Yes, people have been marketing through word of mouth for a long time. But as Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff point out in The Groundswell, digital turbocharges inherently social behaviors and takes word of mouth — for better or worse — to a whole new level. What used to be a long, gradual process can now happen literally overnight because of social media tools like blogs. And there’s no question that a digital destination like shaveeverywhere can turn even the most mundane product demonstration into an engaging and fun experience that’s hard to convey in the offline world.

If you are at Cannes, you can see his talk Saturday, June 21, at 1 p.m., Debussy Theatre, Palais des Festivals. If not, you can hear a flavor of his ideas by viewing the presentation at the top of this blog post (this is a preview of the Cannes presentation, which Joe delivered at the Avenue A | Razorfish Client Summit in New York on May 14.) Check this out, too, for further reading, and let me know if you agree or disagree.

Digital Darwinism at Cannes

Is there such a thing as a digital brand? Joe Crump certainly thinks so.

Joe is an executive in the strategy practice of Avenue A | Razorfish, my employer. On June 21 at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, Joe will unveil the top 10 digital brands based on a new scorecard (created by Avenue A | Razorfish) known as the Brand Gene Scoreboard.

Joe contends that brands need to view the digital world differently than the off-line world. In his view, digital is “ruthlessly Darwinian.” Consumers form impressions of your website in milliseconds. If they don’t like what they see, they can shut you out forever with one easy mouse click. Or tell their friends how boring you are you on blogs, review sites, and social hangouts like Facebook.

His view: brands must tap into the immersive and social nature of digital to survive. They have to be more fast moving than ever if they want to put digital at the core of their success. He’s decided to do something about it by developing the Brand Gene Scoreboard to help companies assess how digital their brands really are.

The scorecard identifies seven attributes such as immersion (how easy it is for a consumer to become engaged with your digital home), social (whether a consumer finds your brand worth sharing), and adaptive (how well a brand responds to a consumer’s digital environment), among other qualities. Flickr, Netflix, and Nike score well when measured by the scorecard. But some of the leading brands according to Interbrand, like GE and IBM, perform poorly when we apply the Brand Gene Scoreboard to measure their digital brand savvy.

Joe’s point of view is not without controversy. To the naysayers, there is no such thing as a digital brand anymore than there are digital people. You don’t need digital to make your brand “social” — good-old fashioned word of mouth occurs in the offline world all the time and will continue to do so. And brick-and-mortar stores like American Girl illustrate that you don’t need digital to be immersive.

And yet . . . digital is different. Yes, people have been marketing through word of mouth for a long time. But as Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff point out in The Groundswell, digital turbocharges inherently social behaviors and takes word of mouth — for better or worse — to a whole new level. What used to be a long, gradual process can now happen literally overnight because of social media tools like blogs. And there’s no question that a digital destination like shaveeverywhere can turn even the most mundane product demonstration into an engaging and fun experience that’s hard to convey in the offline world.

If you are at Cannes, you can see his talk Saturday, June 21, at 1 p.m., Debussy Theatre, Palais des Festivals. If not, you can hear a flavor of his ideas by viewing the presentation at the top of this blog post (this is a preview of the Cannes presentation, which Joe delivered at the Avenue A | Razorfish Client Summit in New York on May 14.) Check this out, too, for further reading, and let me know if you agree or disagree.

Two lessons from the Avenue A | Razorfish Client Summit

On May 14-15, I helped my employer Avenue A | Razorfish organize its 8th annual Client Summit in New York. Each year at this event, company executives, guest speakers, and clients discuss the state of the art in digital marketing. The theme of the 2008 event was “Rock the Digital World” (an homage to guest keynote speaker Sir George Martin, the fifth Beatle, who gave the audience an inside glimpse at the making of the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). At this year’s Client Summit, Avenue A | Razorfish wanted to challenge the audience of digital marketing executives to think of their roles differently — more as leaders, not just developers of successful digital marketing programs. Here are two take-aways for me now that I’ve had a moment to reflect on those hectic two days:

1. Social media hits the mainstream. More than once, our guests noticed the number of times our agenda speakers discussed social media. I was asked whether Avenue A | Razorfish was trying to make a statement about its importance. Well, yes and no. On the surface, there certainly was an impressive line-up from the social media realm: Charlene Li of Forrester Research drew upon her book The Groundswell to deliver an insightful keynote about the ways social media are changing the conversation between the consumer and marketer. My colleague Shiv Singh hosted a panel on applying social media as part of Social Influence Marketing. Megan O’Connor of Levi’s demonstrated how the Levi’s 501 Design Challenge used a social community to build brand with female consumers. Ted Cannis and Olivier Pierini of Ford Motor Company showed how Ford embraces social media inside and outside the company through efforts like the Ford blikinet and the Ford Global Auto Shows blog. And Andy England, CMO of Coors, touched upon social media several times (e.g., the Coors Light MySpace page) as he described the ways that Coors has embraced digital in its marketing. But here’s the thing: we did not deliberately set out to pack the agenda with social media. All we wanted to do was find some cutting-edge content to make marketers think of new ways of embracing the digital world, and the social media examples like Levi’s and Ford bubbled to the surface organically. This story just goes to show how social media is becoming a natural part of our lives, regardless of our intentions.

2. The importance of marketing as an experience. Avenue A | Razorfish CEO Clark Kokich discussed how the future of marketing is creating experiences that engage the consumer, not plastering marketing messages across the digital world. (Example: the Post Cereals Postopia website doesn’t push messages about Post Cereal; it’s an immersive world, hosted by Post Cereals, that families can enjoy.) Two Client Summit speakers showed what Clark meant. John McVay, the Avenue A | Razorfish client partner for AT&T, performed a live demonstration of how Microsoft Surface table technology can make the purchase of mobile devices fun through a touch-screen experience. (By the way, to pull off the demo, our production team needed to mount a camera in the ceiling of the ballroom of the Sheraton New York.) Then Terri Walter, Avenue A | Razorfish vice president of Emerging Media, and David Polinchock of the Brand Experience Lab performed an audience participation game that’s best described through this blog post by my colleague Iain McDonald of our Sydney office (which operates locally under the name Amnesia). Basically Terri and David made us think about how an an advertiser can create a branded game experience for any large gathering people — say a theater full movie goers waiting for a movie to start. Why sit around watching cheesy ads in a theater when we can interact with the movie screen and each other through a game that employs a webcam? I would happily do that if an advertiser will participate.

So, to summarize both ideas from the 2008 Client Summit in one sentence: the future of marketing is tapping into the social and immersive nature of the digital world to create engaging experiences, not to push messages.

By the way, many thanks to Deidre Everdij and the team at Highlight Event Design for producing our most demanding Client Summit ever. Deidre and her team saved our butts many times throughout the show. Talk about rocking the digital world! You can read more about the Client Summit here and here.

Two lessons from the Avenue A | Razorfish Client Summit

On May 14-15, I helped my employer Avenue A | Razorfish organize its 8th annual Client Summit in New York. Each year at this event, company executives, guest speakers, and clients discuss the state of the art in digital marketing. The theme of the 2008 event was “Rock the Digital World” (an homage to guest keynote speaker Sir George Martin, the fifth Beatle, who gave the audience an inside glimpse at the making of the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). At this year’s Client Summit, Avenue A | Razorfish wanted to challenge the audience of digital marketing executives to think of their roles differently — more as leaders, not just developers of successful digital marketing programs. Here are two take-aways for me now that I’ve had a moment to reflect on those hectic two days:

1. Social media hits the mainstream. More than once, our guests noticed the number of times our agenda speakers discussed social media. I was asked whether Avenue A | Razorfish was trying to make a statement about its importance. Well, yes and no. On the surface, there certainly was an impressive line-up from the social media realm: Charlene Li of Forrester Research drew upon her book The Groundswell to deliver an insightful keynote about the ways social media are changing the conversation between the consumer and marketer. My colleague Shiv Singh hosted a panel on applying social media as part of Social Influence Marketing. Megan O’Connor of Levi’s demonstrated how the Levi’s 501 Design Challenge used a social community to build brand with female consumers. Ted Cannis and Olivier Pierini of Ford Motor Company showed how Ford embraces social media inside and outside the company through efforts like the Ford blikinet and the Ford Global Auto Shows blog. And Andy England, CMO of Coors, touched upon social media several times (e.g., the Coors Light MySpace page) as he described the ways that Coors has embraced digital in its marketing. But here’s the thing: we did not deliberately set out to pack the agenda with social media. All we wanted to do was find some cutting-edge content to make marketers think of new ways of embracing the digital world, and the social media examples like Levi’s and Ford bubbled to the surface organically. This story just goes to show how social media is becoming a natural part of our lives, regardless of our intentions.

2. The importance of marketing as an experience. Avenue A | Razorfish CEO Clark Kokich discussed how the future of marketing is creating experiences that engage the consumer, not plastering marketing messages across the digital world. (Example: the Post Cereals Postopia website doesn’t push messages about Post Cereal; it’s an immersive world, hosted by Post Cereals, that families can enjoy.) Two Client Summit speakers showed what Clark meant. John McVay, the Avenue A | Razorfish client partner for AT&T, performed a live demonstration of how Microsoft Surface table technology can make the purchase of mobile devices fun through a touch-screen experience. (By the way, to pull off the demo, our production team needed to mount a camera in the ceiling of the ballroom of the Sheraton New York.) Then Terri Walter, Avenue A | Razorfish vice president of Emerging Media, and David Polinchock of the Brand Experience Lab performed an audience participation game that’s best described through this blog post by my colleague Iain McDonald of our Sydney office (which operates locally under the name Amnesia). Basically Terri and David made us think about how an an advertiser can create a branded game experience for any large gathering people — say a theater full movie goers waiting for a movie to start. Why sit around watching cheesy ads in a theater when we can interact with the movie screen and each other through a game that employs a webcam? I would happily do that if an advertiser will participate.

So, to summarize both ideas from the 2008 Client Summit in one sentence: the future of marketing is tapping into the social and immersive nature of the digital world to create engaging experiences, not to push messages.

By the way, many thanks to Deidre Everdij and the team at Highlight Event Design for producing our most demanding Client Summit ever. Deidre and her team saved our butts many times throughout the show. Talk about rocking the digital world! You can read more about the Client Summit here and here.