The ALS Challenge … Creating a Movement

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 12.51.40 PM

If anyone ever doubted the power of social media you only have to look at the success of the ALS Ice bucket challenge. To date they have raised $79.7 million dollars significantly more (over 4x) than the $19.4 million in total contributions the ALS association received during the year that ended January 31, 2013.

Watching this phenomena unfold reminds me of a Ted video I watched four years ago on “How to Start a Movement”  A movement takes a leader, the first follower, second follower, more followers (more people less risky) … and it must be public.

The ALS challenge has all the components a leader, early participants and tens of thousands of followers. But is there more to it? Why did this turn into a social media bonanza?

ALS is no doubt a great cause but there are a lot of great causes. However, this campaign was the perfect storm. Take a great cause, couple it with a interactive media that reaches 500+M people, throw in the opportunity to do something a bit off the wall AND share it with your friends …. you have a movement. Successful marketing is about creating a movement. No matter what the channel(s)

Has your company created a marketing movement?

Since Xplor International is the association for the electronic document industry AND we think ALS is a great cause we are going to donate $5.00US to each of the first 300 people (up to $1500) who share their ALS video on the Xplor International Facebook Page – have some fun and help raise more money for ALS!

Here is my ALS challenge video: Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 12.48.11 PM

Donate to ALS: http://www.alsa.org/

Until next time …. Get wet!

 

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Describing The World B.G. (Before Google) Can Seem Unbelievable!

Google_SmartphoneThe other day my son and I were having a discussion about the similarities between dolphin and mahi mahi. It came to a point in the conversation where he asked me a question and I quickly had to admit I did not know the answer, a real downer for a father. Immediately he took out his cell phone and “Googled” it getting an almost instantaneous answer to his question.

Looking at me quizzically he asked “what did people do before google?” I smiled and said “you went to the library or if you were fortunate enough looked it up in your home encyclopedias. “ (His eyes began to cross)

He was 16 when “the last entry for Encyclopedia Britannica in book form” was announced. However I was excited to share my knowledge of life before Google as I went into my story about how after high school I sold the Encyclopedia Britannica’s. How expensive they were and that you received a beautiful wood bookcase when you bought them. And, every year you could purchase the update volume to keep your information current. I also laughed at how short my career was with one sale, to my parents. (I still have the books in my attic)

prehistoric-googlingAt this point he was in full “are you kidding” mode, eyes crossed and asking questions like; What if it was not in the encyclopedia? (You go to the library) What if it is something trivial that you don’t want to spend the time to look up? (Then you didn’t.)

Our discussion shifted to the “value” of Google. Being antagonistic I took the diametrically opposite opinion of my son. He claimed Google gave people instant access to information allowing people instant knowledge, very good points. I however argued Google can be inaccurate in many cases unlike an encyclopedia. It is contributing to the demise of face to face social interaction. It over complicates our lives introducing minutia in an already complicated world. Case in point, did learning about the difference between dolphin and mahi mahi change your life?

As far as the difference between a dolphin and mahi mahi.

mahi_01-08-2011The common English name of dolphin causes much confusion. This fish is not related to the marine mammals also known as dolphins (family Delphinidae). Additionally, two species of dolphinfish exist, the common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) and the pompano dolphin (Coryphaena equiselis). Both these species are commonly marketed by their Pacific name, mahi-mahi.

Don’t believe me? Google it!

 

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Not a cloud in the sky…

iCloudAt Xploration™14 in March we had several sessions on the cloud. Fortunately I was able to attend a couple of them and came back with more questions than answers as to how vulnerable Xplor would be if the cloud suddenly disappeared.

My conclusion to my brief sixty second assessment, we would be in deep trouble depending on the length of the outage and the ability of our provider to get us back up. Xplor’s email system is in the cloud as well as our event registration, website and members hub, which is just about all of Xplor.  We backup our database but if the rest goes down it is still a really big  problem.

wozniakWozniak Agrees?

In further researching I read an interesting article the other day by Steve Wozniak regarding the cloud that made me think. In the article he stated “The more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it. With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away.”  Read the article.

The term that really caught my attention was You already signed it away.”  Yes, that is what we often do when we check that terms and conditions box in addition to absolving the provider of most if not all liability.

The Need to Ask Questions

What if your cloud provider goes out of business, is a victim of hackers or cyber terrorists. What are their safeguards? How do you get back up and running?  How do you recover? What is their liability?

Xplor as an organization is going to be asking the three vendors that control our “clouds” these questions.

So how does your organization handle the cloud and the people you entrust with your information?

What if there was not a cloud in the sky? I am curious to hear your views.

 

 

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FACETIME IS NOT ALWAYS AN APP

Tucson-skip-henk-xplorLast week I returned from the Imaging Network Conference in Tucson convinced once again there is no substitution for “face timing” with peers. Not FaceTime the app, I mean the original face time. Sitting down and meeting with your peers, bending an elbow together, sharing ideas and taking discussions where virtual is incapable of going..

With Xploration 14 three weeks away I did not have the time nor did I want to make the time to go. I decided to go anyway.

One Idea, One Contact and One Problem Solved

It would have not only been a personal mistake not going to Tucson but a loss for Xplor as well. My time in Tucson netted me one GREAT idea and a new contact for expanding one of our programs. I was also able to solve an ongoing problem and even had time for a bit of fun. Sounds like I was doing what I am paid to do. My job.

It is too early to tell but my $2000 “face timing” investment has great potential:

  • The idea I came away with will generate $20-40k a year in revenue for the association
  • The problem I solved should save $6-10k in direct expense per year
  • My new contact for expanding online programming could significantly change Xplor’s online model.

face-to-faceIt Is All About Face-Time

The internet is great for doing research but it can only take you so far. Could I have been as successful online?  No, I would not. My success in Tucson was about showing up. Face time.

Let’s not forget the bit of fun I had. Some ING attendees simply did a nature walk in the desert. Others a short cattle drive. I elected to do a bit of four wheeling in the desert. Had fun, relaxed and returned to the conference the next morning all in one piece, rested and content.

The Moral of the Story

Getting out of the office and participating in industry events is something you should make time for in order to do your job. It is empowering.  When you do attend, have an objective. A problem to solve, someone you want to meet or just be intent on finding that one idea that will pay dividends.

If you want to empower yourself and enjoy some warm weather there is still time to register for Xploration 14, March 25-27 at the Wyndham Resort Hotel International Dr. Interested, email me at skip@xplor.org and I will give you a special discount code just for listening.

Hope to see you in Orlando.

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Dear Occupant, We Are Raising The Bar!

If you are old enough to remember receiving direct mail addressed to “Dear Occupant,” you will certainly remember the astonishment and wonder when you received your first piece of “personalized mail” – Dear (insert your name here).

dear-occupantOver time the level of text personalization increased to include things like the company you worked for, the city you lived in, etc., and we all felt connected in some way. We were not just an “occupant” but an individual.

That was the late 80‘s, early 90’s if I recall correctly.

Today, receive a piece of personalized mail and you are typically less than impressed. In fact, you probably may even ignore it unless it is something out of the ordinary, like your name spelled in the sand on a beach, or in the clouds against a blue sky. There is still a WOW factor to the innovative use of personalization. However personalization and the WOW factor have to be relevant. A catchy piece, plus a good offer to the right person, equals a winner for the Brand.

In 1999 Harry Quadracci of Quad Graphics wrote, “We are in the Age of Advertising. Baby Boomers, now in their peak spending years, have a lot of buying power, and there’s going to be a lot of advertising to get that dollar. The best way to harness that buying power will be through properly promoting the brand… and the most effective media for brand promotion will continue to be ink on paper. It’s The Brand, Stupid, it’s The Brand!”

Mr.Quadracci was right in 1999 and remains so today, “it is the brand” and the decision makers of the brands who require results. Sending out 100,000 pieces of direct mail to “Dear (insert your name here), hoping 2-3% produce results is no longer what the brands are looking for or need. Sending out 50,000 innovative pieces, to the right people with the right offer drives double digit results. If you are a printer I am not saying you need to be a “marketeer” – but you do need to understand what your customers may ask you to print. (Everyone familiar with augmented reality?)

So as a printer, what is interactive print? (I personally believe it could be the Renaissance of direct mail) What do the brands need? How can you be part of the opportunity?

There is a great deal of opportunity for those who get it. To get it you need to reach out to different places and spheres of influences.

I invite you to add Xplor to your sphere of influences and join us for Xploration 14, March 25-27th in Orlando Florida.

Visit http://www.xplor.org/upcoming-events/2014-annual-conference

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RR Donnelley Buys Consolidated – Survival or Growth?

monopoly-manEarly in my career I fantasized about the possibility that 100% of the businesses in the world, their economic output and profits were all the efforts of one person. Seems a bit farfetched but I always deemed it plausible.

Some of the United States most influential industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and Rockefeller had that dream, although those dreams were eventually dashed by anti-monopoly laws.

The Monopoly of Print?

When I heard of the acquisition of Consolidated Graphics by RR Donnelley I certainly was not surprised. Donnelley with a $3.26 billion dollar market cap acquiring a smaller entity with a $617 million dollar market cap. Each company has very respectable “revenue per employee” numbers in a very competitive market with $182,188 and  $197,919, Consolidated having the edge.

A quick look at their websites reveals complementary technologies and product offerings.  Both companies have lots of locations with Donnelley being more “global” with about 40 overseas locations.  A great fit.

Survival or Growth?

monopoly_chance-cardSo what is RR Donnelley buying? Customers, technology, unique products, people resources or a corporate culture? Maybe all of the above. I am sure there are many that are simply saying it is part of the natural evolution happening in the industry of consolidation due to a shrinking market.  From the outside it certainly looks like this might be the case.

Appears to be the old “survival growth strategy” when a larger company in a declining market buys up smaller companies. Larger company experiences incremental growth and the industry goes on to fight another day. (Remember microfiche and the Anacomp buying spree?)

Not playing monopoly … Just smart business

Go_monopolyMy guess, is that RR Donnelley is not playing monopoly with the acquisition but is catapulting their evolution as “distributors” of information. It is about content and the delivery of that content utilizing a variety of channels that are instigated by print.

If you look at their websites there certainly is overlap but there are also plenty of differences which represent opportunity and growth. These two forward thinking companies are simply engaging in smart business and are well positioned for the future.  (Kind of like owning both Boardwalk and Park Place)

Survival, growth, monopoly or smart business. What are your thoughts?

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Are We Sacrificing Sales For Convenience?

A Mobile App or The Hot Dog Guy

One of the big joys in my life is attending sporting events whether it  baseball, football, hockey, arena football. There are some things I love and I hate about the experience.

Baseball• I LOVE to sit in the stands, do the wave, eat a hot dog and drink a beer
• I HATE to have to get up and stand in line for a hotdog and a beer
• I LOVE to sit in my seat and buy a hotdog and beer from one of the vendors
• I HATE when they pass my hotdog down the row and 10 people have their hands on it
• I LOVE not getting out of my seat, so I get over it them passing my hot dog

Throw the Hot Dog Guy Out

What if you had a mobile app that allowed you to sit in your seat key in your section and seat number and order whatever you want and it will be delivered to you right where you sit?  Payment is automatic, including the tip and posted to your account. No fuss no muss.

You don’t have to wait for a vendor to come by to remind you that you need another beverage or that your daughter wants cotton candy.

Would you download such an app? Well it’s currently being tested at Yankee Stadium in New York in Section 130 and is also being used in stadiums in Ireland and Australia. It seems just a matter of time to invade the US sports scene unless fans reject it …. which we should.  Click here to check out the whole story

Enough is Enough!

beer-hot-dog-baseballI know I said I hated to get up and stand in line but that is why they have the hot dog and beer vendors. These folks are going to lose their job. And what about the cotton candy guy making me look like a hero when she says “Daddy can I have some cotton candy, pleeeeaaaasseee” and she gives me a kiss on the cheek.

What are the owners thinking? How would I know I needed that second beverage, that bag of peanuts or a second hotdog if those wonderful vendors did not remind.

In my mind they are making a mistake and are going to lose money.  Am I going to download the app? I don’t think so. Are you?

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