Make Me Feel Something

A marketer’s job in today’s omnichannel environment is to make the consumer feel something.

A tough ask in most categories, but especially so in technology. When the new news is about being data ready for the future, it’s almost a given that the marketing effort will lead with data. But data isn’t really a thing that evokes emotion in the average human (tech nerds aside).

But this past weekend, Dell delivered  two new power-packed campaign spots in the Beat Again effort, masterfully telling us stories: the “night before” a heart transplant for a pre-teen girl, and the “welcome back” as she returns to school healthy after her heart transplant.

The key elements in the story show emotional engagements between heart surgeon and his child, between mother and father of the heart patient, and between mother and daughter. The data displays are not always central to the storyline, but helpful and in the case of the sushi menu, even entertaining. Edited many ways so the frequency of spots over five days of the WGC golf event didn’t get annoying, the whole package left me feeling hopeful, inspired and in awe of what future data can do for a patient, a family, a surgeon and a community of classmates. Real People. Real Emotions.

To weave a story that connects the emotions of hope, inspiration and awe to the Dell brand all in one weekend is something Dell marketers and its agency partners Young & Rubicam should be damn proud of.

A Tramp Stamp on the Tomato!

I can’t wait to see if there will be a “tramp stamp” on my store-bought tomatoes one day soon. Change is coming to the produce industry.  Tattoos may soon replace those annoying but helpful little stickers you find on most fruits and veggies. 

There’s a secret trick to deciphering number codes on produce stickers – those leading with the number 9 are organic food, and those that lead with 4 are just plain food, grown however the farmer chooses.  Remember this: nine is fine and four is a bore.

I wonder if the tattoos will be tiny and hard to see like the stickers are now or big and artistic like a full sleeve? I wonder if shoppers will find the tattoos offensive or perceive them to be dangerous to eat?

This trend is beginning in Europe. Can you guess which U. S. retailer will lead the way with tattooed produce? Flip a coin on Whole Foods or Walmart. Sustainability is key to them both, and that’s what’s behind the tattoo movement.

I like the idea of tattoos on produce. I look forward to the day that I will no longer have to stick the labels from the veggies all over my hand when I’m prepping the organic goodies for the juicer.

 

The Full Sleeve

 

 

ShopperAnnie versus the Porn Star

Bet you didn’t know I chose @ShopperAnnie as my Twitter handle back in 2009 because there’s a porn star who calls herself Anne Howe. UGH!

Launching a professional consultant identity in the Shopper Marketing/Retail/Consumer Goods space is hard enough.  Competing with a nasty little porn star for a good ranking on a Google search for your real name – well that just gave me an incentive to work harder.

That’s why  when I chose my company name I added the word Associates – so I could use AHA! as part of my brand. I chose to expand my ShopperAnnie  “handle”  on my blog.

If I can slog it out on Google search with a porn star, think of what I can do for your business. Persistence pays off in the long run.

Can you help me?

I’ve been re-reading Nilofer Merchant’s book Eleven Ways to Add Value in the Social Era. I love this book.

It’s about context for business in the 21st century, creating value via social connections beyond an organizational construct. The organizational construct is the hallmark of the information era, but gets in the way of the social era, she says. I could not agree more.

People ask me all the time if I will help them. About 99% of the time, I say yes. Helping others is my secret weapon to stay informed.

I continue to see examples of just how much organizational structures get in the way of how great business sharing can work. In some organizations, it’s about cross-charging for people time. In my view this can be eliminated with a bit of hard work on compensation. When people within  the same company have a bunch of different P&L’s to manage and each one hits different wallets, it gets complicated.

The natural urge and tendency to share and give time to help others gets disrupted. It’s hard stop being helpful, and wow, can a lack of help cripple an organization quickly. I know a lot of folks who have to account for time in a dishonest way because they spent time helping others, and it’s just demoralizing.

Ms. Merchant sees a day when companies will have to reconcile profit and purpose. I see inability to for many leaders (especially in marketing) to face the fact that NOW is that time. It’s not hard to respect, honor and reward the value of connected human contributors, in theory.

In practice, I see organizations that are still only crawling in an effort to move toward the constructs of truly allowing humans to add value in the social era.

How broken will business have to get before helping each other can become the only way to work?  Will business ever catch up to human nature?

Three AHA Moments – Words for 2013

This is the third year I’ve followed the advice of business leader Chris Brogan  – to select and post for all to see – three words that will guide the year ahead.

Last year I built my words around my business initials – AHA!

This year I’m jumping off with something that describes me and what I do very well. I got there because of a neighborly type newsletter Chris sends on Sunday mornings, which got me thinking  how nice it is to be centered, even in business, around human connections.  Chris is, and happily, so am I.

Homemade Soup. As a one person shop in consulting, I have mainly big organizations as clients, but I serve them in a most neighborly and personal way!

I blend solutions for them like homemade soup, getting it just right by referring to strategy recipes through lots of reading, research and combining of ingredients for a just right solution. So far the results have been quite tasty.

Impetus. Now here’s a word that has some oomph. Push, force, momentum and drive are all synonyms. If you know me, you’ll understand. I’m not one to let stuff lag. I can hear my biggest client laughing at this one. I’m all about looking out the front window of the bus and steering toward the future. This word will symbolize my intent to keep that focus forward.  Even if I have to pace myself sometimes.

Reflect. A calming word, but also a very stimulating concept. My creative muse is a huge part of my life; taking time for the art to balance the pace of strategic work is vitally important to my success, but also to my soul.  This is a year I plan to be more forthcoming about doing and sharing my artsy pursuits.  I’m also doing a lot more singing out loud. Praise songs do indeed lift my spirit high.

I’m starting by reposting the photo below, which I had made into a puzzle this Christmas for my relatives who own and graciously invite me frequently to their up-north lake home where this was taken.  I cannot thank them enough for being so generous.

Big Lake
Big Lake

I’m so excited by the energy that’s moving me forward into 2013.  I can feel it….2013 is going to be a fantastic journey. Amen.

 

 

 

High on Monster High

It’s hard to stay up on all the trends I need to know in retail, shopper marketing, culture…engagement, advocacy…you name it…I’m supposed to know about it.  Honey Boo Boo? Really? We’re over your gross lack of manners. Gangnam Style? Whatever…

My new curiosity is Monster High. I’m looking for a couple of ten year olds to play with. I’ll invest in the dolls and  sets of accessories to go with.  Really, I will. I also want to play dolls with all the moms. This is fertile ground for woman culture.

Just look at the branding. Is this the next gen Hello Kitty or what?

Branding at its finest!!

Be Yourself. Be Unique. Be A Monster.

Just ask my husband. I can be all of the above on any given day. And then I can go play with my dolls. Acting out stories. Like a ten year old.

Monsters? Or Zombies? Connections to apps with big glitzy keys on the packages…..

 

Clawdeen – the best seller

What ARE the stories the dolls act out for ten year olds today?Is Monster High a next-gen storyboard? Could it be a comic book reality show? Is it individually crafted visual story telling, or script some marketer is pushing?

Is this toy story, next chapter? Let’s play.

What’s the story behind this?

 

Branding at its finest!!

Peeking into Retail Windows

What ever happened to retail windows that could cause a shopper to pause and ponder?

These windows did just that.

Thank you, Louis Vuitton, for your design point of view – worth taking a moment to appreciate. Amidst the crowd on King St. in Charleston, you managed to not only bemuse, but also to reflect the scene on the street itself.

 

Louis Vuitton retail window – Charleston, SC

 

We Dig the Pig

We travel to the Carolina’s three or four times a year, have been doing so for years. Our relationship with the Pig, (a.k.a. Piggly Wiggly grocery chain) began on Hilton Head Island.

We got the loyalty card the first year we all (7 family families) took the kids down for Easter break. When you have to feed 26 kids and 16 adults for a week, you get the card…and buy the shirts.  Believe me, when one cousin comes home from a trip to the grocery with this shirt on, the other 25 start begging……

P. S. – the same thing happens at The Salty Dog restaurant on Sea Pines Plantation. Sigh.

But times have changed and now my kids are all grown up. This week, we’re all at the beach again, this time it’s Folly Beach,  just south of Charleston, SC.

The ubiquitous “I Dig the Pig” shirts are still at the entrance of the store. But the world has changed, my kids have “been there, done that, got the shirt” and even the grocer itself lives in a post-modern world.

The good news…the Pig still has a sense of whimsy!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Get Working on Tomorrow. Today.

We better get working on tomorrow. Today.

With a wary eye on the future, it’s way past time to start thinking, seeing and acting differently. Businesses today are trying to change, but still unwilling to break out of deeply rooted operational habits like control, predictability, standardization and faster is better.

One of my inspirations for doing differently comes from a wonderful book titled Presence. 

Its primary benefit to me, apart from an introduction that is phenomenal, is the concept that there is an art to seeing. The idea is that if you can learn to see differently, the whole becomes more than the sum of its mechanical parts. New ways to think about solutions to challenges emerge from the belief that organizations are living systems that can be thought of as a moving whole. If we can see broadly and more holistically by practicing suspension of our existing bias and habits, we can experience the phenomenon of “letting come”.

For tomorrow to be better, we need to become more aware and attuned to what is emerging and organize around it.  Instead of trying to fit emerging ideas into our habitual constructs of today.

Human systems are changing fast. Enabling change to serve the whole without the constraints of our industrial heritage of parts is hugely challenging. The path forward requires different actions from each of us today.

I think the concept of “presence” is a wonderful way to approach the future with more confidence and hope.

 

 

Crackin’ with McCracken

A few years back I sat in a conference hall enjoying this jitter-bug kind of of guy flit about the stage and roam up and down the aisles ranting about human culture and marketing.

I was riled up, excited by this McCracken guy, being a former student of both anthropology and marketing… and then of course I had to go back to work.  I’m lucky my work combines these disciplines nicely, working through various models for innovation and insight.

Today, I’m more excited than ever, reading Grant McCracken’s new book “Culturematic” because the main theme is about blowing up the models and provoking the world with experiments that probe the possible.

It’s easy to love this kind of a book. It’s hard to get paid to do the kind of work he’s recommending. But it’s 100% possible to invigorate your mind with this thinking.

I’m gonna get crackin’ on finishing this book and give my mind a nice big long rope to play with. This is business conversation worth joining.