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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Don't Compete on Price!

Sushi price board originally uploaded by LimitedExpress.
The ultimate customer experience has nothing to do with price!

You don't believe me? Then listen to the experts on this BizWiseTV 30 minute program available for viewing until November at Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience link. The program pitch is as follows:

How can you succeed in today's highly competitive retail environment? Offering the lowest prices or providing unique products is no longer the answer.

Discover the surprising secrets to successful retailing from Pamela Danziger, and transform your store into an experience that shoppers will love.

Learn how you can use technology to transform the customer shopping experience from Brian Kilcourse, President and CEO of Retail Systems Alert Group.

This highly informative 30-minute video will show you:
- How to tap into customers' emotional needs
- The seven critical requirements for creating a successful retail experience
- How adding customer value enables you to charge higher prices
- How technology can help you increase your differentiation in the marketplace

You will also see case studies of Circuit City and J.J. Foods and learn about other retailers who have used technology to provide innovative and superior customer service. Finally, you will learn important store design trends from Gensler, an award-winning designer of retail environments.

It's in three parts.

In part I, Pamela Danziger, author of Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience, discusses the creation of a retail experience.

I've referred to Ms. Danziger before, in Why Amazing Shopping Experiences Matter and in Stores That Floor. Her book offers compelling examples and great descriptions of truly memorable customer experiences. She explores some of those concepts in this program.

For example, she touches on the 'Quantum Theory of Shopping' which consists of (need + product features + affordability) times (emotion-squared). So, a consumer may shop because she needs something, and the price/value meet her criteria, but what will trigger the actual purchase decision is the emotional quality associated with the experience. That's right. Consumers respond to the emotional thrill that successful stores consistently create.

Such stores - i.e., Shops That Pop - deliver a high level of customer interaction that affects store design, atmosphere, merchandising, etc. all converging to encourage a consumer to find her "inner diva" rather than just shop for fashion.... Sales people are essential to the delivery of the equation.

Some concepts from the book:
+ Authentic concept with long lasting value: that is about putting the customer first!
+ Make stores electric and contagious: the best example it the Apple Store [see Retail As Experience - More Important Than Ever].
+ Price/value model that favors customers: it's a matter of how they perceive value.
+ Make sure your store is accessible rather than overly pretentious and too exclusive.

[Ad Age's Create a Stage That Attracts Your Very Own Brand Posse - In-Store Details: Keep Consumers Connected With Retail Evangelists by Patrick Hanlon from 7/23/2007 makes some fascinating points about creating an accessible store: "Some retailers large and small do it right because they understand how to build communities around their brands.... It's not just shopping; it's a lifestyle." He brings up The Apple Store as well as Abercrombie & Fitch, Lego, Izzy and Intelligent Nutrients.

"Shopping is a rite filled with anticipation, expectation and fun. Shopping is release. Losers can become winners by adding energy and innovation to pieces of code. Enthusiasts are engaged by every nuance you provide in icons, rituals, lexicon and other pieces of a belief system that define the retail experience. Let others provide status quo; leaders show ingenuity." It's a good read.]

Finally, merchandise your store to stand out: display products differently, highlight them in unusual ways. Be sure to deliver inherent value that aligns with what a customer wants. Absolutely don't compete on price!

Part II examines the retail space -- the first point of contact with consumers. Stores definitely send signals to customers, so be sure to manage those signals as effectively as possible. Gensler Design - experts in retail design with 40 years experience - share tips and trends.

When the firm first kicks off a new retail design project, it starts with a visioning process. Essentially, sitting down and asking questions to develop a vision for the store. This can take a few hours, or several days.

Some tips:
+ Since retail is about newness, a retail store needs to capture that same sense. Keep it fresh: change colors, move products, generally try to create a fresh new look. Be obsessed with store - the hallmark of a great retailer!
+ Create an emotional connection between the store and the consumer. Make it a memorable experience for the customer. Connect with the 5 senses: sight, texture, light, sound, smells, tastes...
+ Create opportunities to interact with the product.
+ Never underestimate the effectiveness of great lighting in a dressing room.

Gensler discusses the importance of letting consumers interact with the product. This brings the store to life and improves the store experience. The better the experience, the more likely a consumer is to buy [e.g., the Apple Store or Bass Pro Shop].

In developing a new store design concept, Gensler builds prototypes to mimic customer experience and model consumer movement through the space. It spends considerable time understanding the store from the consumer's as well as the employee's perspectives. That means not only working the store, but also shopping it, and then explaining to employees how best to use the design features of the store to enhance the customer experience.

Exceeding customer expectations creates value and adds to the store experience. Imagine delivering that magical moment! It's completely a function of service and goes beyond the product being sold [i.e., think (emotion) squared].

Be sure to look at the store from both a visual and verbal perspective since people absorb cues differently. For example, the Northface store in Chicago translates a catalog/online environment into a retail experience while still communicating stories.

+ Green stores that focus on using sustainable materials, decreasing energy dependence.
+ Weaving visual technology into stores, using, for example, "Now" kiosks to sell product where the store carries a limited range of product, with the full line easily seen via the kiosk.

Part III looks at technology solutions that enhance the customer experience. You'll see a nifty in-store video conferencing kiosk at Circuit City [fire dog live support] in action. This is technology to delight the customer and - as Retail Systems Alert Group explains - delivering actionable information into the consumer's hands.

Retailers must definitely do the basics first and then use technology to streamline the process, and focus resources on the selling process. Technology can be a market driver enabling retailers to provide excellent customer service and banish the focus on price!

Small and medium retailers can excel at service, offering reasonable product at reasonable prices.

Experience JJ Food, in the UK. In the food distribution business, it has differentiated itself by being the easiest to do business with. Its call center drives business and growth because of its amazing CRM systems. As a result, JJ Food sells 70,000 products via 83 telesales agents, in a variety of different languages to 20,000 customers, streamlining costs at the same time. JJ Food has successfully established relationships because of its reliability and consistency and customer service has made the difference to creating an extraordinary experience.

In case you don't yet get the point, don't compete on price!

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

PR PowerWomen Rule!

I'm grateful to people who challenge my assumptions and - in so doing - raise my awareness.

Peter Kim has done that with his M20 Top Marketer blogs [alpha] that focuses on client-side marketers who blog. With M20 Top Marketer Blogs [beta], he expands the list to 31 and refines the rankings so they are "totally transparent" and "reflect BOTH authority and influence." I'm proud to say that Flooring The Consumer still makes the list, at #7!

Although I follow many blogs, I had never considered them from the perspective of the M20, and certainly never internalized that so many of the brilliant thoughts circulating within the blogosphere were predominently the product of consultant or agency perspectives.

With the expansion of the M20, another revelation overcame me: out of the 31, only 7 represent "old" economy [i.e., not technology] businesses.

+ Strategic Public Relations - Kevin Dugan, Director of Marketing Communications, FRCH Design.
+ Todd And - The Power To Connect - Todd Andrlik, Director of Marketing and PR, Leopardo Construction.
+ Flooring The Consumer - CB Whittemore, Director of In-Store Innovation, Wear-Dated Carpet Fiber.
+ Masiguy - Tim Jackson, Brand Manager, Masi Bicycles.
+ The Client Side - Michael Seaton, Director - Digital Marketing, Scotiabank.
+ John Heald's Blog - John Heald, Cruise Director, Carnival.
+ Randy's Journal - Randy Tinseth, VP Marketing, Boeing.

The rest relate closely to technology or technology solutions.

And, then, one more revelation: only three of the 31 are women:
+ Flooring The Consumer - CB Whittemore, Director of In-Store Innovation, Wear-Dated Carpet Fiber.
+ BeRelevant! - Tamara Gielen, Email Marketing Manager - Belgium, eBay.
+ The Kristasphere - Krista Summit, Web Marketing Strategist, Lenovo.

Kami Huyse from Communication Overtones, also challenges assumptions and raises awareness. Her recent post PowerWomen and the Power 150: Women Make up Only 13 percent of Top Bloggers inspired today's post title "PR PowerWomen Rule!"

Kami refers to ToddAnd's Power 150. Now, in case you're not aware, this is the brainchild of Todd Andrlik, a.k.a. #4 on Peter Kim's Beta List! And, he's also on my "old" economy list. There is nothing "old" about Todd's blog or his delight with all things marketing and media. In fact, via the Power 150, Todd has reinvented the ranking of marketing and public relations resources and has been so successful that - just announced - Power 150 Partners with Advertising Age! Very exciting news.

Getting back to Kami. Last year, she analyzed the Power 150 and noticed that only 12 percent of the top 50 PR bloggers were women. She revisited the subject on 7/12/07 and discovered just a bit of progress: 13 percent of the Power 150 Top Marketing Blogs are women!

To amplify their voices, Tami offers the Top 20 PowerWomen of PR and Marketing, which includes many women bloggers I admire tremendously:

#12 What's Next Blog <-- by the amazing BL Ochman.
#18 Diva Marketing Blog <-- my friend, Toby Bloomberg.
#31 BlogWrite for CEOs.
#48 Communication Overtones <--- Kami's blog!
#69 Forrester's Marketing Blog.
#73 The Origin of Brands <-- Laura Ries' blog.
#93 Branding & Marketing <-- Chris Brown's wonderful blog.
#94 Customers Rock! <-- my friend Becky Carroll.
#99 Conversation Agent <--- my friend Valeria Maltoni.
#104 Corporate PR.
#105 The Copywriting Maven <-- by the terrific Roberta Rosenberg.
#106 CK's Blog <-- my friend CK.
#107 Spare Change.
#115 Marketing Roadmaps <-- Susan Getgood is awesome!
#128 advergirl.
#129 Brand Sizzle.
#132 Kinetic Ideas.
#137 Flooring The Consumer !!!
#148 Presto Vivace Blog.
#150 Email Marketing Best Practices

Are you still with me?

Now, #2 from Kami's list, Toby Bloomberg, held the second installment of her Blog Talk Radio program Diva Marketing Talks 7/24/07 - 6:30pm EST, inviting two "old" economy [i.e., real estate and flooring] marketers to talk about social media. [You can read more about it in Diva Marketing Talks with C.B. Whittemore and Paul Chaney where she includes tips from both of us. You can also access the podcast: Diva Talks podcast is up on Blogtalkradio.]

Next week, on July 31, Diva Marketing Talks Analytics with Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership, and Peter Kim, Forrester Research. This brings us back where we started with Peter Kim!

My takeaways from all this:
+ Find new ways to look at the tried and true. Chances are you will notice unusual patterns, behaviors and opportunities.

+ Old economy businesses can just as easily benefit from new marketing approaches and social media as do high tech businesses. It's just a matter of looking at things in non-traditional ways.

+ Don't overlook the women in your organization. They may have some really good perspectives, especially since flooring's target consumer is a woman!

+ And, finally, PR PowerWomen Rule! [I couldn't resist!]

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Connecting Via 8 Random Things About Me

Lucky Eight originally uploaded by pattybarratt.
I've been tagged. Not once, but five times...

Would you believe that I hoped to accumulate 8 tags before sharing 8 random things about me?

Seriously, though, a crazy travel schedule made it difficult to immediately acknowledge One Reader At A Time's Bob Glaza's tag in Pursuing Happiness - Tag you're it, My 2 Cents' David Reich's tag in Tag, I'm It, closely followed by Sticky Figure's Steve Woodruff's tag in Tagged for 8 Things, and Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni's tag in 8 Random Things About (Brand) Me, and now Greg Verdino's tag in Meme Games Are Gr8!.

In Tag, I'm It! , I shared 5 things about me. This time, although I share 8 more things, rather than be randomly non-sequitur, I prefer to use my 'things' to connect with friends in the blogosphere!

Here goes:

Valeria Maltoni has to be the ultimate Renaissance Woman. I feel a strong cultural connection with her, and thought she would appreciate my musical quirkiness. When I work, I prefer to listen to classical music - oftentimes Baroque. Next comes Bluegrass, especially with the mandolin [David Grisman and Jerry Garcia playing together are the best!]. Other times, I love the weekday programming from WFUV [just like Terry Starbucker!]

David Reich - captures the essence of the ultimate New Yorker - not to mention the consummate PR professional. I believe he would appreciate that not only do I celebrate 20 Year Relationships, but I've started my 25th year living in the NYC area, and my 15th year with the same company -- the whole time involved in some aspect of Wear-Dated. Although I was born in DC, I have lived in the Bronx and Brooklyn -- just a few blocks from where my Dad was born and just a street away from where he grew up. [BTW, he has a PhD in Intellectual History. His dissertation addressed Tocqueville's approach to history. If you need a freelance historian, let me know.]

Who else enjoys spinning? No, not that kind of spinning [although I've seen lots of beautiful spinning equipment]; this kind of spinning! I know that Bob Glaza loves cycling and like to think that I share some of his cycling zen while spinning.

Do you remember the dancing baby from Ally McBeal? BL Ochman in 10 Best Geeky Dance Videos reminded me of a time - my first big Wear-Dated upholstery summit in 1998 - when I agreed to be videotaped doing the dancing baby. This was then prominently featured at our final night dinner event in the candids. All for the greater good of the brand [Hmmmm, I wonder if Image Zone has that in digital format?]. Perhaps that explains my willingness to Elf Myself?

Like Steve Woodruff, I love puddingstone.

Greg, I had a [minor] accident practicing for my driver's license -- somewhat comparable to your Disney World speeding ticket? [I blame it on the automatic transmission I was forced to use for the test -- my Mom taught me using a stick shift].

I love airplanes, trains - as Arun Rajagopal knows - and firetrucks [so does my daughter!]. My preferred airplane seating is by the window, allowing me to gaze out the window, headset on playing my iPod favorites, watching for cloud or geographic patterns. I do some of my best thinking from there, not to mention tons of uninterrupted reading!

Finally, Drew and Gavin, The Age of Conversation is the most amazing experience! It's a first from so many perspectives as well as a live case study in how powerful social media can be in rallying people from far reaches of the globe, in seemingly unrelated fields, around a wonderful cause: our children and our future. What an honor to be a part of something that is so much greater than the sum of the individual 103 parts. If you haven't already, buy the book. You won't regret it! [It's also the reason that I am getting to know Anna Farmery, who started this meme via Lew Green!]

Borrowing from Greg, I tag from The Age Of Conversation:
- Ryan Rassmussen
- Katie Chatfield
- Craig Wilson
- I can't believe that Ann Handley hasn't yet been tagged

And, from Peter Kim's top marketer list, I tag:
- Peter Kim
- The Marketing Excellence Blog's Eric Kinst
- Bernaisesource's Dan Greenfield
- AttentionMax's Max Kalehoff

And, for those of you who haven't been 'tagged', consider how you might use this kind of approach to bring your employees closer together. What about to engage customers in conversation and better understand how you add value to their lives?

How does what you do connect with them?

It's an interesting way to cement relationships.

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Diva Marketing Talks 7/24/07 - 6:30pm EST

Please mark your calendars for The Verticals Get It - Using Social Media in B2B, Toby Bloomberg's latest installment in her new Blog Talk Radio program titled Diva Marketing Talks. [If you wish to set a reminder, you can do so, too!]

The show takes place Tuesday 7/24/07 at 6:30 p.m. EST until 7:00 p.m. EST.

Toby has promised a show will be "business edgy, informative, sometimes controversial and always fun."

That's what I am counting on as she has invited me to join Paul Chaney, VP Business Development for Blogging Systems who describes himself on his blog as "not a Realtor, but work[ing] for Blogging Systems, the leading supplier of blog technology to the industry...[and] ... one-half of the team that wrote the book "Realty Blogging."" Toby describes him as "the Divo of blogging before it was cool to blog".

Paul talks real estate. I talk flooring. Our mission is to showcase how blogs and social media can be used effectively inside verticals. We've accepted [how can anyone say no to Toby?] and plan to have a blast tomorrow evening.

We hope you can join us.

And, if you miss the show, you can always listen from the archives.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Flooring It Differently - Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home, Chicago

Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home, in Northbrook, IL, is a store that is Flooring It Differently through its advertising.

This is a big deal because many flooring stores don't advertise. If they do, they may not do it as consistently or with as much flair as this store does. A great deal of the flair has to do with Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home's VP of merchandising & marketing, Susie Axelrad.

In early May, Marianne Cone and I were in the Windy City to Come Decorate From The Floor Up With Thom Filicia. We decided we needed to spend time with Susie.

Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home believes strongly in advertising -- regardless of the economic climate -- doing it consistently and frequently with a recognizeable and consistent look. The examples you see here take our award winning By The Foot marketing campaign images and adapt them to the Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home format. Pretty eye-catching!

As Susie explained, advertising is what keeps the store top-of-mind with the local North Shore audience. It reminds consumers of the commitment that Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home has made to the community and the flooring business. It also reinforces the store's fashion focused and cutting edge image.

We agree that they don't look like everybody else!

According to Susie, if you're in the right magazine, it's a powerful medium because flooring is such a visual design oriented business.

Some of the publications that Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home has seen success with include NorthShore Magazine, Chicago Magazine, and Chicago Social (a Modern Luxury Publication).

Whereas the internet works particularly well as an educational tool, print works best as a promotional tool - to let consumers know that there is a reason to come visit the store.

Per Susie, "many retailers - when times are tough - react by cutting back on the important stuff: people, training and advertising. That is the wrong response! Advertising in good times and in bad communicates to your customer base that you are legitimate, serious about the business, and in it for the long haul. It also conveys a sense of who you are and what value you can offer the consumer. We are in the fashion business and that's what our ads convey."

This company has been in business since 1954 and now sells to the children and grandchildren of its original customers. It is well established in the community as a reputable fashion source. As it has diversified beyond carpet, it has worked hard to communicate that it represents a destination for all fashionable flooring needs.

Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home's approach is to use the same image across several periodicals in the same month thereby maximizing consumer awareness. The layout never varies; the images do. It plans advertising way ahead of time, sets a schedule and then plans product sales around its ad placements.

The Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home store exudes fashion. The outside windows each feature unexpected vignettes that combine flooring categories with other items that a homeowner typically considers when redoing a floor and a room. Within, more vignettes abound. As Susie explains, the in-store experience is critical. You had better deliver that well!

As we walked to the conference room, we saw on the wall several beautiful stylized carpet-clad wooden cutouts of women. They absolutely captured fashionability. Susie fondly explained that they dated back to earlier days, but that she treasures them and will always make sure there is a place for them. I wish I had taken a picture!

From a Wear-Dated perspective, it has been wonderful experiencing as creative an organization as Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home -- not to mention as talented a marketing professional as Susie Axelrad. She has amazing passion for promoting the flooring category as a fashion decision for discerning consumers.

Consequently, for Lewis Carpet One Floor & Home's commitment to communicating its fashion sense so consistently to the consumer via beautiful advertisements, in good times and in bad, I am thrilled to recognize it as Flooring It Differently.

Learn about other flooring stores that are Flooring It Differently.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

The Age Of Conversation - Now Available

Exciting News!

In fact, even Ad Age has caught on with THE AGE OF CONVERSATION -- Edited by Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton - When Is a Blog Not a Blog? When It's a Book. by Matt Kinsey on 07.13.07.

A project that has been in the works for several months is seeing the light of day. As of today -- Monday, July 16, 2007 -- you can purchase your very own copy - in any one of 3 formats - of a one-of-a-kind worldwide collaboration between marketing professionals all passionate about the topic of The Age of Conversation. Simply click on the image link or go to this Age Of Conversation order link.

[To underscore how global a project this is, check out Matt Dickman's google map (it's included in the book) that lists all of the authors' locations.]

Imagine that: over 100 bloggers from 24 states and 10 nations, each contributing a chapter. The end result is a book that will provide you with perspective and insight on a phenomenon that - whether involved in the blogosphere or not - affects us increasingly: how citizen marketers are changing the landscape. Each author has taken a different approach to discussing what The Age of Conversation means. I talk about my contribution in Conversation Age - Enabled.

Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton conceived of the project -- see Background -- identified a terrific cause - Variety, the Children's Charity - and an inspiring Dedication, and then rallied the following bloggers:

Gavin Heaton, Drew McLellan, CK, Valeria Maltoni, Emily Reed, Katie Chatfield, Greg Verdino, Lewis Green, Sacrum, Ann Handley, Mike Sansone, Paul McEnany, Roger von Oech, Anna Farmery, David Armano, Bob Glaza, Mark Goren, Matt Dickman, Scott Monty, Richard Huntington, Cam Beck, David Reich, Luc Debaisieux, Sean Howard, Tim Jackson, Patrick Schaber, Roberta Rosenberg, Uwe Hook, Tony D. Clark, Todd Andrlik, Toby Bloomberg, Steve Woodruff, Steve Bannister, Steve Roesler, Stanley Johnson, Spike Jones, Nathan Snell, Simon Payn, Ryan Rasmussen, Ron Shevlin, Roger Anderson, Robert Hruzek, Rishi Desai, Phil Gerbyshak, Peter Corbett, Pete Deutschman, Nick Rice, Nick Wright, Michael Morton, Mark Earls, Mark Blair, Mario Vellandi, Lori Magno, Kristin Gorski, Kris Hoet, G.Kofi Annan, Kimberly Dawn Wells, Karl Long, Julie Fleischer, Jordan Behan, John La Grou, Joe Raasch, Jim Kukral, Jessica Hagy, Janet Green, Jamey Shiel, s, Dr. Graham Hill, Gia Facchini, Geert Desager, Gaurav Mishra, Gary Schoeniger, Gareth Kay, Faris Yakob, Emily Clasper, Ed Cotton, Dustin Jacobsen, Tom Clifford, David Polinchock, David Koopmans, David Brazeal, David Berkowitz, Carolyn Manning, Craig Wilson, Cord Silverstein, Connie Reece, Colin McKay, Chris Newlan, Chris Corrigan, Cedric Giorgi, Brian Reich, Becky Carroll, Arun Rajagopal, Amy Jussel, AJ James, Kim Klaver, Sandy Renshaw, Susan Bird, Ryan Barrett, Troy Worman, S. Neil Vineberg, C.B. Whittemore, Mack Collier, Andy Nulman

Even the brilliant cover design - created by David Armano - captures the essence of The Age of Conversation!

Per Heaton, "We've been amazed at the variety of approaches that have been taken, and with hardly any duplication or overlap. This book really explores the art of conversation and how that is changing the face of marketing from virtually every angle possible."

I encourage you to purchase this book. It is available in three formats for the following prices:
+ Hardbacks $29.99 [$8.55 goes to charity]
+ Paperbacks $16.95 [$8.10 goes to charity]
+ E-book $9.99 [$7.99 goes to charity]

Thank you for your enthusiastic support of this amazing project that will forever affect your appreciation of our world in The Age of Conversation.

Note: No author is being compensated in any way for this project. Learn more at Age Of Conversation.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Peter Kim's Top Marketer Blogs - The M20

Rising sunflower 3 originally uploaded by Ned Lyttelton.
Peter Kim from Being Peter Kim, senior analyst at Forrester Research, introduces a new ranking of marketing blogs in Introducing: Top Marketer Blogs [alpha].

It's an amazing list from multiple perspectives.

From a very personal perspective, I'm thrilled to pieces [i.e., floored] that Flooring The Consumer makes that list. And, at #1....

From a professional perspective, I'm astounded [i.e., really floored] at what the list represents: client-side blogs and not ones by consultants, agencies or service providers.

In Peter's words: "There's something different about the voices that come from the client-side of the table. While many of us might have been there and done that in some fashion, these are marketers who are *doing it* right now. If you've ever been on the client side, you know the joy and pain of building a brand that an outsider may never know. For me, it was working for a brand that was once sold in fishnets in grocery store checkout aisles and seeing it rise to become the logo of choice for actors, musicians, and trendsetters worldwide."

"So I'm starting a list to highlight the most popular blogs written by client-side marketing professionals. These are people who are doing their brands a favor by engaging customers and prospects in conversation. If you know of others who should be included, please comment below!"

Here's the draft list which Peter refers to as the "alpha version":

1. Flooring The Consumer :: Technorati authority = 504. Authored by CB Whittemore, Director of In-Store Innovation, Wear-Dated Carpet Fiber.
2. Marketing Nirvana :: 424. Mario Sundar, Community Evangelist, LinkedIn.
3. ExperienceCurve :: 332. Karl Long, Web/Social Media Integration Manager, Nokia.
4. The Marketing Excellence Blog :: 254. Eric Kintz, VP Marketing, Digital Photography & Entertainment, Hewlett-Packard.
5. cgm :: 191. Pete Blackshaw, CMO, Nielsen Buzzmetrics.
6. Decker Marketing :: 167. Sam Decker, VP Marketing, Bazaarvoice.
7. Masiguy :: 162. Tim Jackson, Brand Manager, Masi Bicycles.
8. AttentionMax :: 153. Max Kalehoff, VP Marketing, Nielsen Buzzmetrics.
9. Churbuck.com :: 148. David Churbuck, VP Global Web Marketing, Lenovo.
10. Emerson Process Experts :: 130. Jim Cahill, Marketing Communications Manager, Emerson Process Management.
11. Bernaisesource :: 99. Dan Greenfield, VP Corporate Communications, Earthlink.
12. John Dragoon's Blog :: 29. John Dragoon, CMO, Novell.
13. Randy's Journal :: n/a. Randy Tinseth, VP Marketing, Boeing.

I am both completely floored [i.e., elated] and humbled to make the list. And, talk about being in good company! I subscribe to #3 and #4. I follow #2's professional blog, and have added his personal one. I have heard Max Kalehoff [#8] speak at Columbia Business School events, and Toby Bloomberg [aka Diva Marketing Blog ] features #7 MasiGuy in her Biz Blog Profiles - Masi Guy. [I also follow Peter's blog.] They inspire me. The others are delicious new discoveries! What a thrill!

Thank you, Peter!

For those of you flirting with the idea of creating a blog to support your brand or business, I urge you to give it a try. Check out these resources as they represent a fascinating range of approaches. You may be surprised at how much fun you have and how effectively you can communicate your passion!

Stay tuned, too, for the Beta version of The M20!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Building a Blogger Toolbox

Blogs are here to stay.

In Help me build a new blogger toolbox, Drew McLellan, from Drew's Marketing Minute, encourages us to share tips and links that could be of value to newly minted bloggers.

I've been thinking about this a great deal. Especially since I've had many conversations about launching blogs lately.

So, here goes.

Drew's New Bloggers' Toolbox Includes the following resources:
+ Converstations (chock full of practical tips)
+ CK's blog (compelling blog post examples)
+ Viral Garden (demonstrates how to build a community)
+ Lonely Marketer (teaches marketing tools)
+ Successful & Outstanding Blogs (blogger who spotlights newbies)

To that list I add the following:
+ Start with ProBlogger. It's filled with invaluable advice about the mechanics of blogging.
+ Next, John Jantsch's Duct Tape Marketing - also chock full of useful and practical advice, links, suggestions, etc.

In terms of reputable sources for finding good blogs:
+ Todd Andrilk, the genius behind the Power 150 Top Marketing Blogs which represents a terrific resource list, posts about a wide range of marketing and media references that are right on.
+ Drew mentions Mike Sansone's Converstations. Check out Mike's extensive blogroll.

In terms of perspectives on blogging and social media:
+ Toby Bloomberg's Diva Marketing Blog features in-depth and high quality posts. Check out the blogger stories and the Biz Blog Profiles [not to mention the extensive list of links].
+ I greatly admire David Meerman Scott and Web Ink Now. He shares thoughtful perspectives and great advice relating to the new rules of marketing and PR.

Spend lots of time visiting blogs of interest. Observe what each does [blogrolls, widgets, layout], and how each does it [e.g., Technorati and other tags]. I routinely printed out source code from sites I admired to figure out how to do things. I didn't always succeed, but I learned some.

Absolutely tell your visitors who you are, include a photo and make sure to make it easy to subscribe! After that, let the passion come through in everything you do!

Any questions, let me know.

Good luck, and have a blast!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Art Gallery As Retail Inspiration

My parents are visiting from DC this holiday weekend. My daughter has been hungrily asking my mother for 'more stories' about me, my sister, and my mom. Naturally, the more the story captures bad behavior, the more delight my daughter expresses and the more persistent she is about asking for more....

I, too, have gotten to hear stories and ask questions about when my mom was a little girl in France in a world so different from today's. It's delicious to imagine what it was like...

For example, my grandfather - Paul Jachiet - was the first to BRAND knitting yarn. He and his friend, Paul Buirette [with connections to champagne producers in Reims] established a yarn spinning mill in Reims after WWI [in which they both served as pilots]. The knitting yarns, once packaged in skeins, were wrapped with the label "Les Laines du Petit Moulin." The image of the 'moulin' [windmill] appeared subsequently atop a building he owned in Paris [possibly 2, rue Caffarelli]. He died before WWII so I never got to meet him, but I knew my grandmother well. She was a true Grande Dame and shared with me her love of music and the arts [she also taught me how to read and write in French].

My mother often talks about our Bourgogne wine connection -- which explains how discerning her nose is. I found a web trace via Les Vins Chansons. No mention of Jachiet, but my mother remembers l'Oncle Chanson visiting regularly at 20, rue de l'Abbe-de-l'Epee across from the Jardin du Luxembourg.

My romantic version of these stories mashes up Madeline, Marcel Proust, Marcel Pagnol and Eloise [My mom has no recollection of this, but I remember her telling me that her friend knew the Kay behind Eloise...].

What led to some of these discoveries and discussions was a Wall Street Journal article from June 9/10, 2007 in the Leisure & Arts section titled "What Dominique de Menil Wrought" about "the museum she built for the works she and her late husband collected turned Houston into an art mecca" by Anne S. Lewis.

[In addition to the article, also check out the website The Menil Collection.]

Now, to put this into perspective: Dominique de Menil's family founded Schlumberger - the French oil company. Her sister-in-law, Therese de Menil, lived above my grandmother's Paris apartment at 72, rue du Cherche-Midi in the VIeme, and the two were friends. Therese regularly regaled my grandmother with tales of the art exploits of Dominique and her brother and their frequent travels to the United States.

As I read the article, several parts caught my attention. Yes, this is about an art gallery, but it definitely translates to a retail space. Note how much attention has been paid to creating an environment that engages the senses to enhance the overall art appreciation experience:

What [Dominique de Menil] wanted was a building that looked small on the outside but was big on the inside. "Big on the inside" meant a space conducive to the private, contemplative, spiritual experience of art that Mrs. de Menil cherished. Too many masterpieces vying for attention induced what she called "museum fatigue."

Mrs. de Menil wanted her art to be experienced under the changing conditions and moods of natural light, as it fluctuated with the seasons, the movement of the clouds and the sun. Mr. Piano's solution was an overhead system, in most of the nine galleries, of ferro-cement louvres, or leaves, which bounce, reflect and filter light into the gallery....

One enters the Menil through a tall, spacious foyer with floor-to-ceiling windows. The space is unfurnished save for a huge brown suede ottoman in the middle of the room, and a small desk off to the side. The loudest sound is the clack of footsteps on the floors of ebonized pine, a soft wood chosen for the stories its wear patterns would tell. There, one might find oneself in the middle of a dialogue between three works of art triangulated on three walls. Or be struck by the presence of, say, a rare, billboard-sized painting by Walter de Maria, "The Color Men Choose When They Attack the Earth" (1968)...

Works are exhibited without explanatory wall notes, identified only by title, artist, medium and date; more information is available in brochures and catalogs. "Here is one of the few remaining refuges where you can come and have an experience of your own without being told what you have to feel or have to do, or what you have to buy," says the museum's current director, Josef Helfenstein....

How inspiring. Now, quickly, go back to The Menil Collection website and click through the images and read the descriptions. What do you think? I'm amazed at how the focus on fewer items creates such a powerful statement. And, what about the interest in incorporating ever changing lighting effects? It meant the art work and the gallery constantly change [think of Monet capturing hundreds of different views of the same haystacks] -- unlike what we have done with so many of our retail environments!

I can't wait to get to Houston.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

BlogTippings - July

Happy July BlogTippings!

BlogTippings represent my interpretation of Easton Ellsworth's BlogTipping day! Here goes:

An intense, must-read: David Wolfe's Ageless Marketing blog and his series on "What Marketers Need to Know About Ageing Boomers." There's priceless gold in there that puts marketing into perspective.

I learned about Ageless Marketing: Strategies for Reaching the Hearts and Minds of the New Customer Majority and Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation while attending the first M2W conference in Chicago on marketing to women in 2005.

Millennials Rising offered an historical perspective on the roles and characteristics of generations, their cyclicality and how generations learn from one another. Ageless Marketing sensitized me to going beyond demographic segmentations and developing universal value-based appeals. Why? Because for the first time ever, our developed societies have more people over the age of 40 than ever before. Over 40s represent a customer majority, and it's a wonderful thing!

Combine with that a population that becomes increasingly female as it ages, and all of a sudden so many marketplace trends make sense. Trading up, experiential marketing, creating memorable retail experiences, web 2.0, the increased interest in communities and authenticity, the search for trustworthiness, delighting the consumer, building relationships.... Consumers are more comfortable than ever before with being who they are, and they look for it in marketing.

Many of the principles of value-based, ageless marketing are at work in the blogosphere - we celebrate how much we learn from one another. We grow as a result of it. We benefit from the wisdom of the communities we belong to. We take part in amazing projects... It is so much greater than the sum of our individual parts!

So, do read David Wolfe's [ongoing] series about What Marketers Need To Know About Ageing Boomers: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part V - continued, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII. I expect part IX to be published any minute now.

An added bonus from David's series: we have something to look forward to in that Pine and Gilmore [remember The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage?] will soon be introducing Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want!

An example of the above-mentioned principles is BrandingWire's first brand project. A posse of top notch marketing pundits, in fact, the best of the best - experience them all on one page at The BrandingWire PageFlakes - offers fascinating individual takes on a small coffee company in need of expert branding advice: BrandingWire All Together Now. I anticipate many stimulating projects out of this group!

Finally, these two bloggers regularly challenge how we perceive consumers. Imagine transforming a lousy experience - in flooring, for example - into a positive simply by figuring out How to be Different - as Ryan Karpeles describes. Or, consider truly looking at the world from your customer's perspective as Becky Carrol illustrates via Customer Lenses. After all, "Customers are always wearing a different “hat”, or looking through a personal prism. I may be a businesswoman and blogger now, but in 30 minutes, I may be picking up the kids with my “mom” hat on my head and trying to decide what is for dinner."

Imagine that. A customer lens might lead us to better appreciate where our customers are coming from and going to - literally and figuratively - to then craft a better marketing experience with them.

Wow! I wonder what a really fun flooring retail experience would look like....

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