Sometimes it is better to not have an “end goal” in mind

This week while at an offsite brainstorm, I was reminded that sometimes not knowing what you hope to accomplish is actually the best approach.  So often we are challenged to identify the “end game”…the goals we hope to accomplish.  People want to know the objectives of a meeting, the agenda for a trip, etc.  This is especially true in the world of marketing and brand n management where time is seen by many as the most valuable commodity.

But there is something to be said about taking the complete opposite approach.  There is real value in going into a meeting with eyes wide open instead of with a specific goal in mind.  I have found some of my most “productive” meetings to be those where I am just getting together with smart people or people whose work i respect.  I don’t go in with a list of things to talk.   Instead I want to ask just two questions:

  • What are you working on?
  • What problems are your wrestling with right now?

You see, these two questions get real discussions going.   And they lead you down paths that you generally don’t expect.  You end up finding out areas of common interest and even common struggles that can be just fascinating.

There is really something to be said about having a breakfast, lunch or drinks with someone just to learn about what each is up to.  It is in those moments that you can find possibilities that you could have never imagined if you went in just with a specific “end goal” in mind.

Politics aside, Wassup 2008 is a brilliant marketing video

I’m not going to say where I stand on the political spectrum, but I have to give props where they are due for a brilliant piece of marketing.  Election 2008 will go down in history as the year politics forever became Brand Marketing.

Thanks to Mitch Joel for the tip.

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Maker’s Mark uses community engagement to turn the ordinary into extraordinary

Photo by DRP on Flickr

I’m a proud member of the Maker’s Mark Ambassador Program.  And as a new resident of Kentucky, its a good thing I am because they take their bourbon seriously around these parts.  In fact, I actually think love of bourbon is a requirement for living in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

But seriously, I’m happy to be a member of the Maker’s Mark Ambassador program because it is one of the sharpest relationship marketing programs out there.  First off, it’s the envy of the liquor industry.  Second, one of the perks of the program is that I get a bottle out of my very own barrel (which is pretty cool).  And third, the company has an amazing ability to treat their Ambassadors like they are part of the company with small, little perks.

I was reminded of that simple fact this week when the company posted on their Ambassador blog about an upcoming website redesign (side note: this great blog was spearheaded by Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer).   Now let’s face it.  A website redesign isn’t exactly sexy news.  In fact, most people probably wouldn’t even notice it.  But Maker’s was able to reach out to their Ambassador program and make the community feel special by giving them a peak inside.  Here is what they posted about the launch:

Just wanted to drop you a note on a cool sneak preview (sort of). Sometime between now and Monday, will look a little different. We’re launching a redesign but aren’t telling anyone but you for now. Certainly, anyone who goes there can see it, but we really want to get your feedback and let you have dibs on checking it out.

So, go to sometime over the weekend or early next week and check out the new digs. Keep in mind that moving a big ole website involves a lot of complicated technical stuff I couldn’t begin to pronounce, much less explain, so if you see the site is down or something, we’re in the middle of the move. Just be patient and come back later.

Though a simple gesture, it really says something special about Maker’s Mark.  It shows that they understand their community and more importantly they know how to talk to them.  By talking to the community in a real, authentic voice, they are able to turn the simple redesign of an ordinary website into what I perceive to be an extraordinary brand interaction.  Well done guys.

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Paul Gillin unveils the Secrets of Social Media Marketing

Book cover of
Via Amazon

Recently Paul Gillin, the author of The New Influencers, offered up 250 free galley copies of his latest book Secrets of Social Media Marketing.  The book arrived right before we left Arkansas and it turned out to be a great read for the road.  What I loved most was the honesty from Gillin upfront.  As he wrote in the beginning:

This book isn’t intended for the 10% of marketers who are on the leading edge.  It’s for the 90% who are still figuring out how to start.

Along these lines, Paul bluntly calls out the book as a “How To” guide for marketers to get into Social Media.  I think this step by step approach is exactly what most Brand Managers need and it is something that has been missing from most social media books out there.

Now with that in mind, here are my favorite quotes and facts from Secrets of Social Media Marketing:

“Embracing change is the only sure success strategy in a business world that is evolving faster than we have ever known.”

“[Marketers] spent decades refining tactics built around messages…they are now being told messages don’t matter.  They need to become Chief Conversation Officers.”

“It took 40 years for the TV to reach 2/3 of homes in the US.  The Internet did it less than 15 years.”

“47% of marketers cited ‘fear of loss of control’ as an impediment to social media adoption”

“Jupiter Research estimates that $12 billion dollars worth of TV advertising is blown away by TiVo and similar devices in 2007″

“Many marketers measure their importance and influence by the size of their budgets.  Social media campaigns are so cost-efficient that marketers may actually see their budgets – and their status – fall over time.  While this doesn’t make much sense, it is a fact of corporate life.”

And finally, I love this quote from my good friend and fellow P&G’er, Ted McConnell:

“How much control do you give up?  That’s like asking the person holding you up at gunpoint how much money to give them.” @ ad:tech 2006

Needless to say, this book has quickly gone to the top of my must read list for Brand Managers.

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Ypulse Youth Marketing Mashup East with special discount for Hard Knox Life readers

On November 6 & 7, the Ypulse Youth Marketing Mashup East will be “where today’s top brand, corporate and social marketers, media professionals, educators and others gather to share successful strategies on marketing to youth with technology.”  The conference is put on by my friend Anastasia Goodstein and should be a great event that I highly recommend.  Hard Knox Life readers can use the special code KNOX to save 10% on registration.

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