Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Stress, money and health problems abound

Stress, money and health problems abound in the US. The Gallup Organization and Healthways, Inc. released data today from a poll on health and happiness. The results (in my opinion) paint a depressing picture of Americans. Take these stats for instance:
  • Almost 40 percent of those polled said they were significantly stressed the day before
  • Two-thirds said they had at least one of a list of chronic health problems
  • 28 percent said they were not well-rested
  • A third said they worried about money the day before
  • 30 percent said they had a lot of worries in general and
  • 23 percent said they were in physical pain
What are the implications of a study like this? Perhaps drug companies will use the results as fodder to increase marketing budgets to better reach the hoards of stressed Americans. Or maybe the results point to why there has been such an increase in drug advertisements over the past five years.

According to an AHIP article The sponsors are hoping employers might use the information in support of bolstering social events for workers. It aligns with the finding that social time with friends and family is used as a buffer for stress. It also assumes that better social relationships in the workplace would help combat the stress born out of a bad workplace environment (one of the stress factors indicated in the study). Or is this the encouragement needed for the masses to adopt social networking. If an increase in friends and social activity correlates with a decrease in stress perhaps that’s the new message for conversing online and planning in-person meet-ups.

However you interpret the data, the important take-away is that the emotional wellbeing of Americans seems to be getting worse. Forty-seven percent of respondents identified themselves as struggling, up from thirty-seven percent in 2006, though that's to be expected in today's economic situation. Maybe we should release a Get Happier RFP, if that were the case what would your proposal include?

image credit: lindseyy

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Method Pop-up Retail Experience

I had my first pop-up retail experience this weekend courtesy of Method. It started with excitement as I thought perhaps the store was the newest fixture on Newbury Street. But upon entering, the salesperson who greeted me explained that the store would be gone April 28th. It was a temporary disappointment as I knew this would still mark an opportunity to stock up on my favorite cleaning supplies, and of course there were special offers to be had. It also presented an opportunity to experience pop-up retail first hand.

The store was beautiful, it was well thought out with lots of greenery, my favorite being a toilet bowl filled with daffodils and grass. There was a photo booth to add to the playful mood and the signage was a challenge to the city's residents - Detox Your Home Boston.

The products were displayed on clear shelving, by scent making it easy to pick up all the products in a single scent family and there were scent bottles to involve the senses even more. Jars of colorful gumballs helped tie the color pallet together and there were dog treats on hand for any four-legged visitors (as a dog owner I can tell you I'm much more loyal to brands that keep dog treats on hand). Reusable bags made of recycled plastic were given to shoppers to tote their purchases home in, helping to drive home the "green" message. My only complaint was that the full spectrum of products was not available, making it hard to take advantage of the 5 for 20 dollar special without purchasing duplicates.

If I was reader of the Method blog I would have benefited from knowing that I could bring in my chemical based cleaners and trade them in for Method cleaners. Though readers of the blog are probably already Method customers and might not have any chemical based cleaners in their homes, hmmm, perhaps the blog wasn't the best place for that message...And if I had mentioned "beantown is a green town" I would have received an extra 10 percent off my purchase. But I'm not a reader of the Method blog so I missed out on the incentives. I did visit the blog after visiting the pop-up store to learn more about their tour.

Boston was Method's first stop, NYC will be the next. I'd be curious to see how at the end of the travels pop-up retail helps Method to convert people to its biodegradable, earth friendly cleaners and what kind of ROI it produces, if one can be determined.

The Boston stop was maestroed perfectly. The store popped up on a high traffic (with equal parts local and visitor traffic) street around Earth Day. The message was succinct and the scents produced by the store were intoxicating. Staff was friendly and they were will trained in the message of the brand. As for myself, I now have enough All Surface Cleaner and Wood For Good Surface Cleaner to last a year. However, I'll need to make the trip to Target to pick up some more Wood For Good Floor Cleaner as that's the one thing I really needed.

Image taken from the Method Blog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Looking for a platform to publish your book?

The great thing about marketers is they write great books, but not all budding authors have a platform. Thomas Knoll is looking to change that. He's encouraging people through, a new activism website, to pledge to write a book on a platform that he'll develop. As long as he receives 20 pledges he'll build the platform. He only asks that people follow-through, participate and be willing to write their book on an open platform - open to collaboration, community and feedback.

It's a great idea. It uses social media to help would be authors write a book, builds a platform for continual feedback (hopefully producing a better book) and builds a community of 20+ people, all starting from the same spot of having an idea that they'd like to put to paper and using a new tool to do it.

It's become easier over the years to self-publish and this is one more step in the open spread of ideas. If you're looking for a platform to publish your book join Thomas and keep me updated on what you'll be writing about.

Image credit: Flyzipper

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Celebrate Earth Day by watching The Story of Stuff

It's Earth Day and to celebrate I'd like to share a link to a noteworthy video, The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. It explores the linear system of the materials economy and its impact on humanity. The message is important and the production is incredible. It features Annie Leonard narrating the story amongst a background of ever changing hand drawn animations.

I'm intrigued by the video on two levels. The message resonates with my desire to not only do my part to reduce my footprint, but also to find more meaningful ways to get involved with environmental initiatives. And, from a marketing perspective the message is creatively delivered, it's engaging and it's fun to watch. There's information to challenge us as marketers to identify new consumer needs/wants and to more thoughtfully produce products to meet those needs.

I hope you'll give it a watch. If not for the message then for the inspiration in creating your own presentations and videos.

image credit: The Story of Stuff website

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Creative Book Promotion Inspires

I’ve been uninspired lately. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t posted to this blog in over a week. But that changed last night when I was on BzzAgent submitting a bzz report for a product I’m testing out. Here’s what inspired me. Dave Balter (founder of BzzAgent) is coming out with a new book, The Word of Mouth Manual: Volume II. That’s not what struck me. Dave’s first book Grapevine was great, but I wasn’t feeling a need for a sequel. What caught my eye was the promise that with every pre-ordered book Dave would mark it with handwritten annotations and (this is what really interested me) Seth Minkin, BzzAgent’s artist-in-residence would illustrate some of the annotations. Seth is one of my favorite artists. I love his work; it’s quirky and fun, much like Seth himself. And I’d happily pay for a book that included some of his hand drawn illustrations. So I’ve placed a pre-order for a book I’m not all that interested in reading. I did it because of the extra effort that Dave and Seth are willing to put into the effort. We can all learn a lot from this example and I hope it inspires you, as it will me, to put a little extra effort into our products, marketing or whatever else we’re concentrating on. And the icing on the cake – the book was only $7 and at checkout I got a surprise, Dave will be throwing in a free copy of Grapevine.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Follow a story using Google Maps

The biggest gift of a story is its ability to transport its readers to another place. But what if you had the ability to literally follow the characters along with the words? Now you can thanks to Penguin Books' We Tell Stories where author Charles Cumming shares a story, The 21 Steps using Google Maps as the delivery mode.

And the fun doesn't stop there. We Tell Stories is a study of alternate book writing using digital technology. While Cumming's choose Google Maps, Toby Litt decided to use a combination of blogs and Twitter as the main publishing platform for his story Slice. Kevin Brooks is letting readers get in on the writing of Fairy Tales and Nicci French is writing Your Place or Mine live.

Over the next two weeks there will be two more stories written in two very different ways. This is a great exploration of how different industries can adopt technology to engage their audiences. I'll be paying attention to the stories, both for reading enjoyment but also to see how these technologies could integrated into other industries. You can keep track of the updates at Penguin Books' We Tell Stories website. And please share any ideas you garner from this effort in the comments section.

Credit to Springwise for bringing this story to my attention.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Gem on public speaking from Now, Discover Your Strenghts

I'm in the midst of reading Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. The purpose of the book is to point you to your themes - your natural talents that can be built into strengths, but also included is a fascinating overview on brain development. And escalating the book to one of my favorites are the little gems of information spread throughout. The point of this post is to share one of those gems with you.

Public speaking is a talent. To some it comes easily, but to others it can be a struggle. One of the best assets a public speaker can have is being able to tell a story, or to weave several stories together into one cohesive speech. Here are some steps, taken from Now, Discover Your Strengths to help you build your presentation storytelling skills.
  1. Write down any story or fact or example that resonates with you.
  2. Practice telling it out load. Listen to yourself actually saying the words.
  3. These stories will become your "beads," as in the beads of a necklace.
  4. All you have to do when giving a speech is string your beads in the appropriate order, and you will give a speech that seems as natural as a conversation.
  5. Use 3-by-5 cards, or a clipping file to keep adding new beads to your string.
That's the gem that I wanted to share with you; I hope you'll find it as useful as I do. And if you're curious and have read Now, Discover Your Strengths, my themes are: Relator, Adaptability, Empathy, Individualization and Input. What are yours?

Friday, April 4, 2008

The iPhone is changing behavior

I'm a market research junkie. I love the whole process, from setting the research objectives to interpreting the data. And I'm also obsessed with anything Apple. That combination makes Rubicon's recently released report titled The Apple iPhone: Successes and Challenges for the Mobile Industry on the top of my reading list. download the study

These were my takeaways:
  • The introduction of the iPhone has raised expectations of what information should be accessible at your fingertips (the web, maps, contacts, email, the web).

  • People aged 26 - 40 are the most likely to upgrade their traditional mobile phone to an iPhone. Motorola might see their margins decline as the iPhone picks up in popularity.

  • The iPhone has the potential to decrease laptop sales which will put pressure on content providers to be more agile in providing data to multiple screen sizes.
My three takeaways all lead to the same place. The iPhone, like the iPod, has become a success in changing consumer behavior. Consumers are no longer happy having their music in their pockets. Now they want something more comparable to their laptops in their pockets.

One of the most surprising statistics (to me) in the study was that 1 in 4 iPhone adopters was new to Apple. I would have expected a much smaller base in the first year of introduction. Perhaps the iPhone will also serve in convincing more people to trust their computer needs to Apple delivering even more market share to the company.

Now a question for you, if you have an iPhone how has it changed your behavior?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Another way to sell your web designs

Following the ranks of Etsy and Cafepress, Templamatic is one more example of how artists and designers are gaining better access to end buyers.

Templamatic is a new outlet for web designers to make some money. Currently in Beta mode, the website allows designers to upload their templates for blogs and websites. It's not clear who sets the prices, but the designs that are currently posted range from $50 for non-exclusive use to $750 for unique access, with 75 percent going to the creator.

I for one plan on keeping my eyes on Templamatic, if only because I'd love a more custom look for this blog and $70 is a bargin.