True innovation

There are probably not a lot of words that get misinterpreted so many times as the word innovation. Anybody today who builds a friends list on their site, who releases an API, who created a ‘viral’ ….(you catch my drift) is innovating. Bullshit. Innovation refers to something that wasn’t done before and most of what happens on the web today is a copy of a copy… so hardly true innovation.

Why this statement? A few weeks ago I met for lunch with the founder of an independent financial services company. He and his marketing manager (who’s an ex-colleague) wanted to know more about whole this social media stuff and they knew I was kind of ‘active’ in that area so therefor the lunch. A quick initial check during lunch on what they knew and didn’t know didn’t take long. Flickr? Never heard of. Okay – get it.

To get the right idea of what needed to be done they then started to explain what their business was and how they saw their company move into the future. And to be honest, they explained me the most innovative business approach that I had heard for a while. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what it is but just take it from me that it was. Everything was there. It’s totally different from the typical business approach in that sector, it gave incredible power to their communities, they really let go of control, … Very cool. So what was missing? The right tools, techniques, services, etc to do so.

And then it hit me again. It’s not because people are on Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook and blogs that they’re necessarily innovative. On the contrary. If ever that is what an agency or a social media consultant comes to tell you then run away (fast). Don’t turn away though because someone hasn’t heard about Twitter. They still might be more innovative thinkers than the rest of us and you know what the coolest job of all is? Making sure you work with the right people and use the right toolset to translate that really innovative idea into reality. That’s what me thinks.

Oh and for the record, my friends at the independent financial services company is looking for someone to do exactly that.

Creatives grow better in the South-West

Behind the scenes tour of of an award-winning creative farm, juicing process and distribution in South West England.

It didn’t say anything about no ad people were injured during the making of this movie so I hope everyone got out alright :)

[Via Matth]

The human camera

Fascinating stuff on television yesterday (yes that happens on occasion). It was a documentary of a guy called Stephen Wiltshire and I thought it was just stunning. Now I know some of you might have seen this already, the guy’s story isn’t really new, but it was the first I had heard/seen of him. From Wikipedia:

“Stephen Wiltshire is an architectural artist who has been diagnosed with autism. Wiltshire was born in London, England, to West Indian parents. He is known for being able to draw an entire landscape just by seeing it once.”

The clip below was part of the documentary and shows Stephen draw a panorama of London (which will take him 4-5 days) on a 4 meters wide canvas… after only flying over the city for 15 minutes with an helicopter! How’s that for a visual memory!

Here’s a link to the end result. London was the first city he did on that scale, but in the meantime many others have followed such as Rome and Tokyo for instance. I think I’m gonna stop by his shop next time I’m in London.

Beyond the hype

Content is King! Content is dead, Community is King! Context is King.… etc etc. What is right and what is wrong about all this? There are a few things I learned over time that I think are important values in marketing today. Let me know what you think. And by the way, it’s not one or the other right, it’s the combination of all of them.

Content is King

It’s clear it’s some people agree and some don’t on this statement, more than anything else this has sparked many discussion already and also I have written about it before. Mitch Joel says content is everything, Doc Searls said right the opposite and I respect them both, still I’m with Mitch on this one. And this is not just an online thing either. Whether you talk about Google’s search index, a blogpost, … it’s where it all starts. What has changed most vs. when we started using ‘Content is King’ in the nineties is the fact that creating content has become a lot more democratic these days, today you and I can create a lot more and easier than ever before.

Distribution is Queen

But content is not all. I think it was when email marketing really began to take off that we added ‘Distribution is Queen’ to the first statement about content being king. All of a sudden we were talking about push vs. pull, permission marketing, etc and it was clear that getting your content out there using more channels than the one it was initially created for was a good idea. That was back then. Today we have RSS, widgets, SEO, APIs, … and all kinds of different ways to get content distributed. Taking the example again of Google’s index being content, then we have to recognize that the clean and fast landing page, fast search, AdSense, etc etc also have been crucial in their success. Distrubution trumps destination.

Context Matters

You got great content and I can access it the way I prefer… still I need to be in the mood for it. Is this the right occasion, or that right timing? John Dodds recently said (when talking about content): “Your focus should be on giving people content they want, when they want it and realise that as soon as you don’t, they’ll move on and remember your content as being irritating multi-media spam in their noise-filled lives.” Microsoft Advertising and MEC Interaction did some research a while back on context which you can download here. Take the context into account and your message will become more relevant… and so will you.

Age of Conversation

Make it social. Get people involved, for real. Some people find the term conversation overused, I don’t. It still is a very good metaphor – yes a metaphor – about how consumers want to interact differently with brands. I’ll take the liberty to repeat this definition of ‘conversation’ found in Wikipedia: Conversations are the ideal form of communication in some respects, since they allow people with different views of a topic to learn from each other. A speech, on the other hand, is an oral presentation by one person directed at a group. For a successful conversation, the partners must achieve a workable balance of contributions. A successful conversation includes mutually interesting connections between the speakers or things that the speakers know. For this to happen, those engaging in conversation must find a topic on which they both can relate to in some sense.” And yes it’s a cliche, but that conversation is already going on, you don’t have to set it up.

In the comments of Mitch’s post about ‘Content is everything’ which I referred to earlier there’s also a nice quote made by Kneale Mann putting it like this: “Content is king, context is the glue, community is the soul.”

Anyway, that’s my take. Tell me what’s yours.

Geek Marketer

I’m what they call a geek marketer. Steve Rubel wrote a post about this late last year in his Ad Age Digital column saying:

“Enter Geek Marketers. These cross-trained specialists are fluent in both worlds and bridge them. They are marketers by trade, yet they also have a hard-core interest in technology and social anthropology. As curious individuals, they are constantly studying how digital advances are changing our culture and media. Armed with these insights, they regularly apply them in a marketing context by working closely with brand teams to codify new best practices.”

Now I’m not saying that I’m a specialist necessarily, nor that I’m fluent in either of them 2 worlds, but as Steve stated before in the article “For those who are deeply interested in both technology and marketing, this is your time. A new kind of career is emerging: Enter the Geek Marketer.” than I recognize myself in there very much, I’ll get fluent later ;)

I was reminded of this when I participated in an internal meeting at Microsoft in Munich where Steve came to present his Open Files presentation (which he would present at the Next 08 Conference in Hamburg the day after as well – video here). In this presentation Steve talks about trends in digital and divides them in 3 categories: Faint Signals (here and now and with real business models), Watch List (new and emerging trends not ready for primetime) and the Hallucinations (trends that aren’t really even there yet … sort of). It’s during that meeting that Steve called me a Geek Marketer and I decided to change my blog tag line the same day. Thanks for reminding me Steve :)

Here’s the presentation:

Inspiration, Anyone?

When we launched ‘The Break-Up’ about a year ago we were impressed with the feedback we got on it. Yes we thought it was good, but still we never expected it to be as big as it became. And feedback was good, people like how we portrayed the changed relationship between consumers and advertisers. The second most common feedback was what we would do about it. We showed we understood the shifted relationship, what does Microsoft Advertising have to offer that work this changed situation?

In the second installment the advertiser is at his agency trying to figure out a way to solve his problem. This one is about inspiration… but just check it out for yourself.

Check getinspiredhere.net