Thursday, November 29, 2007

Green Marketing Manifesto

John Grant sent me a pre-release copy of his new book, The Green Marketing Manifesto last week. i cracked it open last night and darn near de-inked my highlighter. i'm not nearly far enough in to provide a meaningful review, but what I've read has not only made great sense, but laid a nice road map for the future of green marketing.

reading a post from PSFK today, i found what would be a helpful bit of info to post here, before i am able to react to the book. an interview with John Grant here.

i do agree with Amanda, that the power of the takeaway might well be John's idea of not making the normal green, but making green normal. it's a theme he follows in his blog and one that i hope to see continue to unfold in the book.

thanks, again, to John for the copy and i look forward to carving out some more time to dig in.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The importance of narration

i was reminded yesterday, during a new business pitch, of the importance of narration. storytelling. the ability to narrate offers a chance to connect with one's audience. it's a chance to form a bond over an idea or point of view, or simply a story that needs to be told. when we think of narration in the context of presentation, it's the difference between steve jobs' minimilist slide design and most of our overpopulated PowerPoint slides, filled with every bullet and sub-bullet we must not forget to touch on (follow this link from Presentation Zen for an example of Jobs vs. Gates).

i'm not using Jobs vs. Gates as the end-all example. both have very relevant styles for their respective audiences. my point, especially for creatives, would be that our presentations might be better served looking more like Jobs' visual, dramatic, minimalist presentations than the fill-to-the-gill presentations Gates uses. Jobs allows for narration.

so what can we do better? here's my list of things that will help and encourage narration.

1) Draw a line: the presentation is for storytelling, hooking, energizing and connecting with the audience. the leave-behind is for the details. the footnotes. the sources. the sub-bullets. i've never been in a presentation that lacked Q&A, whether during the presentation or after. keep yourself ready to answer the details with the leave behind near you should tough questions arise.
2) Posture: determine if the story is better told sitting or standing. oftentimes, we jump up next to the screen and go to town, losing all connection and community with the audience. in addition to a more welcoming, collaborative seated posture, sitting at the table provides resources at your finger tips.
3) Stop: remember to pause. after big points or simply between slides. make eye contact, take a breath, adjust your notes.
4) Smile: seems obvious, but smiling does two profound things in presentation. first, it makes you more enjoyable to watch and easier to connect with. second, it relaxes you, personally, and keeps any nerves at bay.
5) Question: whether you stop to make sure everyone's in agreement, or ask direct questions, this is an important and effective way to engage your audience. also provides you some breathing room and a chance to be seen as collaborative.
6) Bring props: don't rely on the presentation slides to provide the stickiness your audience needs to stay engaged.
7) Go multimedia: there's no excuse not to incorporate some tunes, videos and images into the presentation. easy as pie from a technical standpoint and extremely rewarding for your audience.
8) Dress comfortably: if you're not comfortable in your clothes, your audience won't be comfortable looking at you.
9) Control your own destiny: or at least your own slide progression. there's little more annoying than watching two people try to coordinate slide progression. this is especially important if you're using bullets and treating the slide content like talking points. you'll need to move naturally, at your own pace. if you're worried about how to technically do this, or are the only person presenting, simply take your wireless mouse and click through. it's bulkier than a slick presentation remote, but the benefit of staying away from the computer is worth it.
10) End on a high note: sometimes, actually many times, your presentation peaks before the last slide. oftentimes, it peaks before you have to get to the budget/estimate slides. figures. if you're able. make a hard stop at this point. relish in the excitement, bond over the victory, then transition into the remainder. plowing through a positive moment can cost you momentum and lose the good impression/vibe you worked so hard to achieve.

hope this helps. it's certainly a work in progress from my standpoint. but a quick reminder of these certainly help me focus. and remember the importance of narrating, not talking at, my audience.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

what did you do today?

in a perfect world, our talents are put to good use - not just selling more widgets or spinning brand blemishes, but creatively communicating important ideas . it's a hope many of us have and a hope many within our audience have for advertising. via the The Dozen blog, i took note as a consumer and a marketer when i saw the campaign for the Dutch charity People in Need.

what a relevant execution and message, executed in a clean, nowhere-near-desperate way visually with copy that carries the campaign. now is a powerful time to be conscious of the privilege most of the world enjoys. falls within that gut-wrenching category of "what did you do today?"

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Friday, November 23, 2007

the day after

the only thing better than Thanksgiving is the day after Thanksgiving. college football, leftovers, house is quiet, three-day weekend.

i woke up in my parents' basement this morning to a big Labrador licking my face and a funny sensation in my belly: hunger. had some almond-butter French toast and coffee. now i'm doing what is to be done the day after Thanksgiving: sitting on a couch watching football.

i have to conserve my energy today for tomorrow's Border War. read Jason Whitlock's column on the game. i believe it's written for Missouri fans, but i appreciate his political correctness in thinly-veiled inclusive language.

hope everyone was able to pause and count their blessings and then figure out how to count their caloric intake.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

a great night

what a night. i'd call it darn near perfect. a mix of old friends, good entertainment, a great (and quad-burning) ride throughout kansas city and a nightcap with some of my favorite people. after a long day and then a bum rush to get some errands run after work, I jumped on the Trek to pedal downtown to the Sprint Center to see two former clients/friends who were working the absolutely amazing Komen for the Cure mobile unit outside the Garth Brooks concert (no way was I going to brave parking/driving down there tonight). it was a great night to be downtown. stopped at JP to get some requested hot chocolate and it was packed to the gills. each bar/restaurant I rode past was equally full. this is Garth's final of 203 shows he's played in the past week. anyway, it was so nice to see these folks and hang out for a second in a very, very relevant mobile execution - which was PACKED by the way. love it.

then, rode the bike through the craziness that was DTKC tonight (I love seeing and being a part of the energy down there), up hospital hill and through Crown Center and Midtown to Westport where I met some friends for a pre-screening of the movie Juno. wow. see this movie. if you put Arrested Development, Napoleon Dynamite, Little Miss Sunshine, Superbad, Singles, Once and Goonies in a blender, you'd have a Juno shake. and you'd love it.

juno is going head-to-head with "Once" as my favorite movie of '07. in a dry, sarcastic, very "i'm-a-kid-dealing-with-things-way-above-my-maturity-level way." it's charmingly crude. it's sweet. it's romantic. it's troublesome. the group i was with laughed throughout and was stilled by some very well-played scenes. the soundtrack also seems great...the signature song is "Anyone Else But You" by the Moldy Peaches (the other songs sort of bite). the song gives you a good idea of the ironic, innocent feel. granted, the movie is a little bit of a disenchanted hipster anthem...but it's far from intolerable. in fact, you want to be in this movie. i'll give it to Fox Searchlight, they are in tune with the Andy this year. just saw Darjeeling Limited and love it as well.

we cruised down the road to Harry's, then i rode home. perfect night. old friends. current friends. seeing kc from wheel level. can't beat it. for the gear geeks reading this, i sported a couple new additions to the winter wardrobe tonight. both fared very well. threw some SmartWool liner gloves under my cycling gloves for added warmth. they worked well, distributed heat evenly, and were thin enough that shifting/braking wasn't an issue. i had my new corduroy Walz Cap on under the helmet tonight...loving this hat (as most who've seen me in the past week know). it worked great as a noggin-warmer, and converted nicely to a stylish cap to wear to the bar. i was going to wear the new Ibex Meru cap...but the dang thing's back-ordered. should be on my noggin by the 17th. yay.

alright. time for another Fat Tire and some QT with the Monk dog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Media that Matters

brilliant...enjoy a hearty helping of inspiration. or a reason to have faith that stories of substance still exist and have found a medium to be told.

via the Forsight Feed, here's a link to the Media that Matters Film Festival.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

what's strangling your creativity?

i just watched this video from the TED conference. the brilliant Larry Lessig talks about how the law is strangling creativity. yes. i agree (and even if i didn't, helluva presentation). he touches on user-generated content.

so then i started thinking more about creativity and what kills it. or strangles it. or just stifles it. here's my list of ten things, in no order. some speak for themselves, some need a bit of elaboration.

1) Lack of collaboration
2) Fear
3) Ego
4) Borders
5) Singular tradespeople. At one time, being a tradesman was a valuable distinction. "I'm a blacksmith." No one lists one skill on his or her resume, so why do our workplaces, our titles and our roles reflect it? I won't get into the argument for or against generalists...that's farther away than where I'm standing. But the people with true creative muscle see a big picture. And can play in any stadium. Home or away from their "title."
6) Creative department. Or any label with creative involved. And labels without creative. Agencies, especially, have effectively limited the number of minds free to think creatively, and bestowed sometimes unwarranted power of minds that are tagged as creative. This ties directly to numbers one and four.
7) Process. Processes. And more processes. Many of which are more creative than their output.
8) E-mail. Or any other passive communication that eliminates the need to talk, face to face, to someone.
9) Repetition. "Sacred Cows." not as in those pedestaled people who could literally vomit on a podium without punishment. Sacred cows are pesky executions that seem to pop up in every brainstorm, for every client, for every need or strategy within each market known to man. And then paid off as unique.
10) Right and wrong. We live in a culture of right and wrong. Creativity is gray.

food for thought. i'd love to hear reaction or others' lists of creativity killers. i certainly left some out. notably, as Lessig noted in his speech, the way we're raising our children and our next generation of creative thinkers.

this is the time for creativity. creativity is the solution to problems from brand launches to climate change.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Interwoven Threads!

mosey on over to the Do Better Blog to find out who is the first collaborator to launch a shirt on the Interwoven Threads line.

and click here for some end-of-the-day feel good.

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Monday, November 05, 2007 the woooorld

before i cut the cable cord, i enjoyed keith olbermann's Countdown news show. i really liked the "Worst Person In The World" segment, where he names someone for doing something truly bad...a politician, CEO, or civilian moron. you get it.

PSFK just posted on the Consumers International poll of the worst products and brands, based on a lack of corporate responsibility (or, really, a conscious). check out the link for those named.

a lot of marketing muscle goes into communicating good deeds and overall awareness of a company's responsibility to its consumers, environment, community. it's equally important to hold those brands accountable that actually try to avoid responsible action.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

how to kick ass

you know, i read a lot of blogs. (what a stupid way to start a post). but it's true. and oftentimes i start new feeds and in the first few posts, i can usually tell if i will find value or not. for a couple years now, i've been searching for whatever happened to the old branding shop kindred keziah. i blogged about it in 2005. well, after a friend in colorado sent me a post from the Egg Strategy blog a couple days ago, i've been reading "the dozen" and it's previous posts with interest.

not only do my brand strategy interests collide with Egg, turns out they are the outcome of a merger with kindred keziah. well, slap me around and call me serendipity.

tonight, after being absolutely engrossed with a back issue of Fast Company and learning more about design powerhouse fuseproject, i sat down at my Macbook to do some follow up on the companies/people i was reading about and found this nice post from Egg...on a company i have an overwhelming amount of respect for (and consumer dollars in), Patagonia, and a leader i'm pretty sure i'd walk on fire to follow, Yvon Chouinard.

it reminded me that a couple weeks ago, Andrew the Planner and i absorbed the google zeitgeist video of Chouinard and friend Tom Browkaw, below:

for some reason, i never posted my thoughts. probably due to business. most of you know that i follow patagonia with a zealot's obsession and built Interwoven Threads' social constitution in many of the same ways patagonia is run.

well, there it is for the absorbing. grab onto the Egg Strategy feed. what i've read has been both insightful and challenging. Egg, fuseproject, Patagonia...all kicking ass. how can you be part of it? how can you learn from it and develop something new? how can you kick ass?

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