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Friday, October 30, 2009

Flush The Recession Simply & Ecologically

Herman Miller ladiesrooms NYCThe Bathroom Blogfest 09 theme is "Flush The Recession & Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces." To me that captures creativity - flush out useless assumptions - and simplicity - flush out needless complexity - and paves the way for relentless focus on what matters to end users and customers. Doing so allows you to explore - or plunge into - forgotten spaces and unexpected approaches for solving insurmountable challenges including ecological ones.

Jim Gould shared how "making things simple is not simple." But, simple can be elegant and, as BJ Fogg explained, simplifying successfully can be persuasive.

For example, being inspired by a walnut shell to create an asymmetrical bathtub as described in Comfort Zone. What a beautiful and simple solution! The end result is ergonomic and optimized for reclining on one end and reading from the other. The material insulates better; the tub is molded in a single less costly and time-consuming operation not subject to cracks along seams; the interior incline insures that no water remains in the tub.

Princeton Club NYC ladiesroomsAnother example is identifying supply chain solutions for supporting sustainable tissue paper products as Kimberly-Clark has via WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network. Again, simple.

And, although done here to save money, what about shifting from four-ply to two-ply tissue as the California Riverside County government has [interesting perk, wouldn't you say?].

As I observe elegant and simple solutions around me, I can't help but be impressed. They solve problems and do so in an eye-catching and memorable way. They are also practical and efficient.

Take this toilet from the recently renovated ladiesroom at the NYC Princeton Club.

And, what about developing elegant and practical approaches to flushing with less water? Here, also from the NYC Princeton Club ladies room, an art-like chrome flush mechanism. Notice the two flushing options...

Princeton Club NYC looAlthough more utilitarian, the ladiesroom from the Herman Miller office in NYC, the first LEED Gold space in the city, also offers a two flush option.

I discovered it this past June 30th, 2009, when I attended a luncheon panel on The Green Consumer: Fact, Fiction and the Future of Marketing sponsored by The Women's Network for a Sustainable Future with Andrea Learned.

This was my first experience having a choice between high or low water volume to use. My reaction: simple, practical and ecologically responsible.

Herman Miller NYC ladiesroomsDon't you love these type solutions? I do.

Thanks to the Bathroom Blogfest, I've had the opportunity to pay attention and admire ones that truly seem to Flush The Recession, simply and ecologically.

Thank you for reading and participating in Bathroom Blogfest 09.
Bathroom Blogfest 09
I hope this post inspires you to find inspiration everywhere you look and to consider new approaches to the tried and true.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

BJ Fogg's Persuasive Bathroom Epiphany: MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer 09

BJ Fogg anticipating MarketingProfs Digital Marketing MixerBJ Fogg, Founder and Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab of Stanford University, described his persuasive behavior model via a bathroom epiphany scenario during MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer in Chicago, Oct. 21-22, 2009.

Definitely an appropriate and fascinating addition to Bathroom Blogfest 09!

BJ's keynote was titled Design For Change: Why Facebook & Twitter are Winning. He shared his research into how computers affect persuasion [i.e., captology], with particular focus on persuasive social networks like Facebook. Intrigued?

You should be as his presentation gets to the heart of how we increasingly communicate using the technology platforms available and try to generate behavior changes - i.e., persuade others to take an action - that benefit us/our brand/our products and/or services.

It also puts into better perspective offline persuasion.

Imagine this bathroom scenario: BJ Fogg faces himself in the mirror and doesn't like what he sees. That vision motivates him to seek out "hope in a bottle" [i.e., Olay Regenerist], which requires a behavior change [dutiful application]. A missed trigger, though, prevents an application. The only way to amend the oversight is by placing the trigger in BJ's path so he can't miss it.

In terms of BJ Fogg's Behavior Model, three elements are necessary. They must also be present together at the same time:
+ trigger
+ motivation
+ ability

Triggers come in two forms: hot or cold. We should aspire to HOT triggers as they allow you to take action now [e.g., pick up a free copy, just roasted coffee from EAT on Swallow Street, buy tickets here]. A cold trigger on the other hand enables no immediate action [think a print ad or radio spot call to action; you must do several something elses before taking action]. Cold triggers have become cheap and unimportant.

Particularly effective is combining a hot trigger with a facilitator [e.g., save the box so you can take your designer hotel soap home].

Core motivators include:
+ pleasure/instant gratification vs. pain
+ hope/anticipation of something good vs. fear
+ social acceptance vs. rejection

BJ urges the lightest touch of motivation that works [e.g., think of the subtlety of eBay or LinkedIn]. Also, once the motivation identified, you can focus on the triggers and facilitators.

BJ Fogg inspires MarketingProf attendeesAbility is critical. If the person whose behavior you are trying to change cannot do what you ask him/her to do, you will not effect change.

You must also increase that ability by simplifying rather than through training. For example: Twitter is popular because it is so easy to use; it requires no training.

Simplicity - defined by 6 factors that change depending on the individual and the context - makes it easier for people to take on a new behavior.

The 6 simplicity factors include: time, money, physical effort, brain cycles, social deviance and non-routine. BJ's Behavior Model section on ability includes a 12 minute video explaining his simplicity framework from which I learned that simplicity is a function of the scarcest resource at that moment [e.g., if I am time-crunched, don't make me jump through intellectual hoops to take action] and that expectations play a key role in the perception of simplicity.

Applying all of this to Facebook which BJ Fogg considers extremely effective in triggering persuasion [hence the successful Stanford Facebook Class], consider the many Facebook triggers you receive notice of via email [photo tagging, comment strings,...], the status update ritual, the reflexes [comment, like, etc.]. Facebook has created rituals around these triggers, making it easy to take on new behaviors.

Bathroom Blogfest 09Once certain behaviors in place, you can evaluate how to further change behavior. According to BJ, 35 ways to change behavior exist, depending on what schedule vs. what type of behavior change. He expects to have his Behavior Grid formalized by Thanksgiving...

Some other interesting observations:
+ think clearly and run many trials
+ think small, ok to fail
+ winning rituals become the platforms of tomorrow
+ everything big started out small

As I digest this framework for behavior and persuasion, I can't help but think through examples of hot not-to-be-missed triggers combined with motivation level and ability to take on a certain action.

It has me reconsidering my off- and on-line actions and appreciating the truly simple and effective ones that persuade me to change behavior.

What about you? What do you think? How do you see implementing persuasion in what you do?

Here is the .47s MarketingProfs video of BJ Fogg Will Be In Chicago and the social media release on the event. Mack Collier's Recap of the Digital Marketing Mixer includes a section on BJ Fogg's presentation.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Making Things Simple Is Not Simple - Simplicity In Design Solutions

Bathroom Blogfest 09I'm running behind on my Bathroom Blogfest 09 posts. My originally planned post for today - about BJ Fogg's MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer keynote - isn't done. Instead, I'll share with you tomorrow's post with thoughts on Simplicity and Simple Design Solutions for a space that shares kinship with bathrooms...


My friend Jim Gould from the Floor Covering Institute recently spent time in China visiting factories. In one, he encountered a marvelous sign placed in the men's bathroom. He, unfortunately, had no camera on hand, but he did send me an email with the words from the sign:

"Making Things Simple is not Simple."

Perfect - don't you think? From all perspectives.

Simplicity in Design Solutions

In early September, featured this Exclusive Interview: The Invention of the Automist which caught my attention. The Automist is an award-winning fire-fighting faucet for the kitchen which is where "60% of all residential fires start."

Simplicity played an important role in the design solution that the two designers, Yusuf Muhammed and Paul Thomas, came up with: they needed one that was "cheap and easy to retrofit, passive, and effective." Simple, right? But not simple.

The Automist faucet "has misting nozzles in its base, and is fitted with two parts: A under-sink, high-pressure pump--not too different from car-wash hoses--that diffuses the mist, and a fire-detecting sensor that can't be thrown off by false alarms. Rather than dousing a fire, the Automist quickly creates a dense fog--an airborne water concentration of 30%, which is enough to contain a fire and control its heat."

The Automist FaucetHere you see a rendering of the Automist faucet.

I recommend that you watch the product video, too.

Making Things Simple is Not Simple.

But, it is beautiful and effective.

Happy Bathroom Blogfest 09! Flush the Recession and Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Listening to Customers & Bathroom Blogfest 09

Bathroom Blogfest 09One reason for participating in the Bathroom Blogfest - other than its role in enhancing the customer retail experience - is the opportunity to apply a fresh perspective on subjects often taken for granted. Take listening to customers.

I've mentioned listening before -- with Twitter and as a starting point for simple marketing.

Listening is critical.

How often do you listen to your customers? How frequently do you try to walk in her shoes to remind yourself of the points that Liane Li Evans cautioned us against in Liane Evans Blends Social Media & Search For Greater Marketing Impact? How do your customers refer to you and your products? Is it toilet or is it commode?

Fortunately, listening to customers can take place at any time, both online and offline. It's a matter of getting started and being open to the resulting interactions.

Via Twitter, I came across Faith Sheridan and learned that her bathroom design had been chosen for the HGTV's Designer's Challenge. It successfully created a serene and relaxing spa-like setting in what used to be an uninspiring master bathroom. I guarantee that Faith was able to envision and bring to life such a wonderful design because she listened closely to the homeowners and how they described their dream. Watch the video linked to from her blogpost; you'll get a feel for the space and how unique it is now.

And, via a LinkedIn lead that Copywriting Maven Roberta Rosenberg forwarded me -via Facebook- I discovered KBB, the UK based Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Industry's largest exhibition and network and KBB News.

I explored further and found a Twitter account @kbb news, a LinkedIn Group, and Flickr photo sets with the most lovely bathroom images... Oh, and they also have a blog, Grahame's KBB blog, active since August of 2008. All platforms for listening to customers.

[Interestingly, the National Kitchen & Bath Association [the US equivalent?] website, although it offers plenty of interesting consumer Kitchen & Bath tools, and lots of kitchen and bath inspiration, doesn't offer access to social tools. I remember their having a blogger back in 2007...]

How do you listen to your customers? How do you elicit feedback from them or simply observe how they go about interacting with you?

And, how accessible are you to them?

Listening leads to insights. Insights allow you to truly Flush The Recession. Perhaps you haven't ventured far into your customers' listening space up til now. I'm hopeful that you will want to plunge into those forgotten spaces, start listening [definitely rethink the experience that your bathrooms offer customers] and turn those insights into innovations that differentiate you from everyone else.

Simple marketing starts with listening, no?

Happy Bathroom Blogfest 09!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Liana Evans Blends Social Media & Search For Greater Marketing Impact

The Emergence and Rise of Mass Social Media originally uploaded by JASElabs.
The Emergence and Rise of Mass Social MediaIn yesterday's post Bathroom Blogfest 2009: Ready To Flush Recession & Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces, I promised a recap of Liane Evans at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer in Chicago addressing "Blending Social Media and Search: Marketing for a Greater Impact: Understanding it's about being found."

Liana "Li" Evans is director of social media with Serengeti Communications. She exudes intense passion for social media and search combined with deep knowledge and her session put into practical perspective how to market for greater impact.

Something we all need, right?

The premise that immediately resonated with me was being found online. It's something I'm reminded of each day and preach intensely to those around me.

Truly, it's not about pushing or forcing irrelevant messages that don't engage end users. Now, the combination of social with search creates opportunities to interact, have conversations, and share perspectives with and generally create relevant meaning for customers. Think about it, social media represents conversation + strong elements of customer service and public relations; it's focused on longterm relationship building [e.g., Zappos gets 75% of new customers via social word of mouth].

[Look at the search results a query like "Charleston dance" delivers: a combination of video clips, Wikipedia, about and historic entries... even a Facebook link. All mostly social results.]

But search isn't limited to just search engines. YouTube, for example, is the 2nd most important source of searches and Craigslist, MySpace and Facebook matter, too.

At the same time, marketers should realize that the Breakup has happened. Our end user customers determine what's important, not us.

Rather than trust a brand's description of benefits, they form their appreciation based on what they glean from their social network. Relevance to them and their lives matters. Brands that listen and observe what's going on have a chance to take part in the relevance. They can even create relevance by participating in social media tools like blogs - which are valuable archives for permanent, searchable and resuable content [vs. say a telephone script or call that gets repeated ad infinitum] - and being open to interaction.

That's where SEO plays a fundamental role, ensuring that blog post title tags, digital assets and content are optimized, that they are tagged and the content categorized.

Now, getting back to being found online.

Understanding - and listening to - your customers and audience is absolutely KEY! That means understanding how they search, what language they use and how they prefer to consume content?

Critical questions. Basic ones, too.

As Li asked us, if a potential customer searches for 'toilet' and all of your content has been written from the perspective of 'commode,' what are your chances for being found?

Our terms, acronyms and industry lingo are meaningless. Customers will search for what they need using their language. Don't you think it would be valuable to be found when they do so?

Finally, remember that your audience decides what is valuable, not you. Your content should be portable and easy to share [which makes it easy to find, too!]. Don't be stingy: link to others, say thank you and spread the love and remember it isn't all about you: other people make it easy to find you as much as a search engine does.

Additional advice: learn to write; be sure to listen and don't delegate social media to interns; they just don't know and can't speak to customers for you.
Bathroom Blogfest 09
Of the 8 Killer Social Media and Digital Marketing Quotes that Jay Baer listed in his post 33 Hot Social Media and Digital Marketing Tips from last week's MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer conference, three came from Li Evans...

Content Doesn’t Win. Optimized Content Wins” – Li Evans
Your Customers Are Listening in Social Media. And So Are Search Engines” – Li Evans
Tactics Without a Strategy is Worse Than Doing Nothing at All” – Li Evans

Listen carefully to your customers, understand how they go about searching and then integrate that knowledge into your digital presence. Blend social media with search and you will create greater marketing impact! After all, content built on "commode" when your customers search on "toilet" does you no good...

Happy Bathroom Blogfest 09!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bathroom Blogfest 2009: Ready To Flush Recession & Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces

Bathroom Blogfest 09Are you ready? I hope so since the 2009 Bathroom Blogfest is ready to "Flush The Recession and Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces" and offer suggestions and inspiration for simplicity and social integrated into your marketing...

I've just issued a publishing plan for the week on Flooring The Consumer.

Time to share with you what's in store for The Simple Marketing Blog, too. Here goes:

Monday: A recap of Liane Evans' MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer 09 presentation titled "Blending Social Media and Search" during which she touched on bathrooms.

Tuesday: Listening to customers showcases bathroom innovation and creativity - a sure way to Flush The Recession, right?

Wednesday: Another recap from the MarketingProfs recent Digital Mixer 2009 in Chicago. This time of BJ Fogg, who brilliantly shared with us epiphany-persuasion moments that happened to have taken place in -yes, you guessed it- a bathroom during his keynote presentation titled "Design For Behavior: Why Facebook & Twitter Are Winning."

Thursday: Simple Design Solutions for an interesting space that shares kinship with Bathrooms...

Friday: How green and simplicity express themselves in bathrooms.

Kaboom Bathroom Blogfest 09Please note that I am holding a Kaboom contest this week. Details to be released tomorrow on Flooring The Consumer. My readers here are eligible, too...

And, now, here is the first post for this week's event: David Reich's Bathroom Blogfest post titled Going on the Go.

Look for more unusual perspectives from the bloggers participating in Bathroom Blogfest ’09:

• Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
• Reshma Anand at Qualitative Research Blog
• Shannon Bilby at From the Floors Up
• Shannon Bilby and Brad Millner at My Big Bob’s Blog
• Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop
• Jeanne Byington at The Importance of Earnest Service
• Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
• Leslie Clagett at KB Culture
• Katie Clark at Practical Katie
• Iris Shreve Garrott at Checking In and Checking Out
• Julie at Julie’s Cleaning Secrets Blog
• Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
• Maria Palma at People To People Service
• Professor Toilet at Professor Toilet’s Blog
• David Reich at My 2 Cents
• Bethany Richmond at The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog
• Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
• Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
• C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer and Simple Marketing Blog
• Linda Wright at Build Better Business with Better Bathrooms

Happy Bathroom Blogfest 2009!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Integrating Social Into Traditional: 10 Daily Fix Tips For Remarkable Blogger Events

Integrating Social Into Traditional: 10 Daily Fix Tips for A Remarkable Blogger EventMy latest post on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix appeared on 10/6/09. It's titled "Integrating Social Into Traditional: 10 Tips For A Remarkable Blogger Event."

The genesis for this post was a blogger event I attended earlier this year. Having taken part in several blogger events, I had high expectations for quality interaction, for well-thought out details, for traditional basics, in what looked to be classier surroundings than normal.

Although I met a charming person whose conversation about his products inspired me, I was disappointed. The event could have been so much more than it was -- regardless of whether it was blogger focused or not, and even moreso given the blogger angle.

I'm a practical marketer. I'm also intensely optimistic and like to learn from situations. My solution to this type disappointment is to think through events I've organized and attended, compare and contrast them [something I learned to do well studying Art History at Smith College], and compile a list of Tips that integrate social into traditional and pave the way for an Outstanding Event with Bloggers.

Hence the article.

A special thanks for two additional tips that my commentors contributed:
+ Don't overlook the value of picking up the phone [from Sonny Gill]
+ Consider having greeters at the entrance [from Elaine Fogel]

Do others come to mind?

Thanks for reading.

Note: Thank you to PerkettPRsuasion for including my article in their Persuasive Picks for the week of 10/5/09!

Added 8/31/2010: Influencer Marketing is Hard/Influencers Suck from Rocket Watcher

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Press Release: Bathroom Blogfest 2009 Draws 20 Bloggers & First Sponsor

For Immediate Release: October 19, 2009

From Behind Closed Doors, Writers Direct Their Expertise to the Topic as
Blogfest Welcomes Its First Sponsor

Kinnelon, NJ – The 2009 Bathroom Blogfest, now in its fourth year, brings together 20 bloggers from the U.S., Canada, the UK and India who will post at least once on some aspect of the theme: “Flush the Recession and Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces.” A blogfest gathers writers who direct their posts around a single subject while making the subject relevant to their readers. Between October 26 and 28, these experts in marketing, customer experience and service, public relations, library sciences, life, retail—toilets and bathrooms—will call attention to improving the overall bathroom experience.

"Kaboom, the Blogfest’s first sponsor, will play a part in some of the blogs," said Christine Whittemore, who manages the Blogfest. “The brand is adventuresome and innovative, volunteering to take its chances with this social networking experience,” said the chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now, Kinnelon, N.J. “Kaboom has sent its cleaning products to nine writers whom we expect to report on their findings. Some may also add Kaboom giveaways/contests to their coverage.” Information about the products reviewed and given away as prizes can be found at

Along with a sponsor, Whittemore added to this year’s initiative a Bathroom Blogfest Facebook Fan Page and way to keep up via Twitter: @BathroomBlogfes. In addition, to monitor the conversation, photos and posts, look for the tag “#ladiesrooms09” on flickr,, Technorati, Twitter and Google.

The Bathroom Blogfest began in 2006 as the brainchild of Stephanie Weaver, Experienceology author and consultant, and Susan Abbott, a business consultant and consumer researcher in Toronto. “They wanted to generate awareness for bloggers passionate about the customer experience at a time when blogging was more experimental. The Bathroom Blogfest created a forum for focusing on spaces that are not a subject of conversation, which they should be,” added Whittemore.

Whittemore believes that today’s bloggers do it because it’s fun and they feel strongly about sharing their ideas for better bathroom experiences. She observes that retailers ignore the bathroom as a possible selling space and that most ignore it altogether. One of the bloggers added that it’s a way for her to potentially create more impact than she might with a single post while it introduces her readers to both a new subject and community of bloggers.

For more information about the blogfest visit or contact Whittemore at For information about Kaboom, visit

Participating bloggers for the Bathroom Blogfest ’09 include:

• Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
• Reshma Anand at Qualitative Research Blog
• Shannon Bilby at From the Floors Up
• Shannon Bilby and Brad Millner at My Big Bob’s Blog
• Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop
• Jeanne Byington at The Importance of Earnest Service
• Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
• Leslie Clagett at KB Culture
• Katie Clark at Practical Katie
• Iris Shreve Garrott at Checking In and Checking Out
• Julie at Julie’s Cleaning Secrets Blog
• Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
• Maria Palma at People To People Service
• Professor Toilet at Professor Toilet’s Blog
• David Reich at My 2 Cents
• Bethany Richmond at The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog
• Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
• Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
• C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer and Simple Marketing Blog
• Linda Wright at Build Better Business with Better Bathrooms

# # #

About Simple Marketing Now LLC
Simple Marketing Now is a marketing communications consultancy that provides organizations with the right combination of traditional marketing and new and digital tools to improve the customer experience and build brand. For more information, visit

About Kaboom
Kaboom is a trademark of Church & Dwight, which manufactures and markets personal care, household and specialty products under the Arm & Hammer and Kaboom brand names, as well as other well-known trademarks. For more information, please visit

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change Simplified

Blog Action Day #BAD09Happy Blog Action Day 2009! It happens every year and, thanks to the involvement of bloggers from around the world - 7,656 blogs from 140 countries with 11,521,123 readers as of 11:05pm 10/14/09 - who all publish about the same topic on Blog Action Day, it draws attention to a cause that matters to us all. This year it's Climate Change.

I don't know about you, but I consider the notion of Climate Change and my ability to play a role in it overwhelming.

My solution? Simplify!

Simplify and consider the matter from a smaller, more actionable perspective where through my actions and decisions I can play a part in effecting change and affecting Climate Change for the good.

My friend Rich Nadworny - who took part in my Bridging New & Old interview series - sent me a link to an article titled How Simplicity Can Help Creativity, Briefly.

The article explains how complication gets in the way of thinking clearly, productively and creatively. And it offers 11 worthwhile suggestions on how simplicity can help with creating solutions. Certainly appropriate for a topic like Climate Change and others!

My favorite suggestion: "When you're overwhelmed, focus on less."

Given that I'm a practical marketer, I decided to focus in on practical, searching on practical solutions to Climate Change.

I came across Climate Solutions - Practical Solutions to Global Warming and Common Sense on Climate Change: Practical Solutions to Global Warming from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Since I was intrigued in how we get our children involved [a topic I cover for Blog Action Day in the Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog in Climate Change & Kiel School] I thought Be part of the solution and Teaching Climate Solutions looked particularly worthwhile.

And, then, I found from Scientific American in its November 2007 issue an article that offers 10 Solutions for Climate Change worth considering:

1. Forego Fossil Fuels
2. Infrastructure Upgrade
3. Move Closer to Work
4. Consume Less
5. Be Efficient
6. Eat Smart, Go Vegetarian?
7. Stop Cutting Down Trees
8. Unplug
9. One Child
10. Experiment Earth

Perhaps all aren't options for you at the moment, however, being aware of them and thinking about them allow you to focus in on the one or two changes you can put into effect that mean that we are a few steps closer to Climate Change.

I'm consciously trying to drive less; I've moved as close as I possibly can to work; I'm definitely consuming less and maximizing efficiency. I hadn't thought about the ramifications of going vegetarian. I hope that all of the paper I recycle [which is terrific to use with clipboards] has saved a small forest; and I have one child.

I'll try to unplug although that's a tough one.

How 'bout you? How do you plan to simplify so you can take part in doing good for our world?

Happy Blog Action Day 2009!

PS: This article from the Fall 2009 issue of Smith Alumnae Quarterly describes "Greening the roof of a 'green' building. Ford Hall's environmental focus starts at the top" which looks to be the beginning of a magical solution for insulating the building's roof and managing storm water.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Do I Create Content?

Wordle "How Do I" by C.B. Whittemore
How Do I?How Do I Create Content? is a question that comes up when I discuss online visibility and the importance of creating content to tell your story and connect with online visitors.

It further came up in an email exchange with Jeff Branch who writes I Like Carpet! Blog. Jeff noted that many organizations, including small businesses, don't know how to manage let alone create new and engaging content that connects with potential online customers.

You see it is critical for a business to have unique content online. Especially if that business is serious about being found online by potential customers. And then, once found, if you want to be perceived as trustworthy and customer-focused, committed to connecting with those potential customers.

The best way to do that is through content that tells your unique story -- not too different from what your store experience should communicate and what your brand should embody. Right?

So, how to do that?

Let's start with your website. Most important of all, make sure your content is yours and yours alone. Even if you are discussing basic information about product, make sure it's YOUR content written in your own words. Especially if you are an independently owned business, and even if you are affiliated with a national buying group.

People want to buy from people. So offer them content written by people with specific people in mind. It's more believable; it's simpler and it alleviates frustration.

Although I consider a website more formal than a blog, it should still communicate your story. Information about who you are, how you got started in the business, what makes you special, and nitty gritty details about your business [i.e., hours of operation, address, phone numbers...].

On a website, I want to know something about your corporate history. I want to see pictures of the principals. I also want to see signs of life - that your website is up-to-date and that you are adding new and relevant information. Include press releases; they indicate that you're up to something in the marketplace and that you're excited about what you're doing.

Next, your blog.

Your blog shows a more casual and personable side of your brand. It's where your story comes alive on an ongoing and frequent basis via marvelous relevant content. Content that should include the perspectives of your employees, maybe your suppliers, procedures designed to protect customers, new product arrivals, local community events you're involved in, customer success stories,...

And, although you may from time to time mention promotions and sales, your content should not limit itself to that kind of hard sell that is considered the equivalent of shouting at people -- and will be ignored.

Your goal is to share stories that engage with readers, that are relevant, that have meaning...

For example, the Carpet and Rug Institute Blog shares the history of the CRI, celebrates carpet cleaning success stories, and debunks myths. All stories relevant to carpet customers wanting to know more about the CRI and how carpet "benefits life, health, learning and the environment."

My personal blog, The Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog, details local hikes and articles written in the late 1980s about local history, highlights local happenings and welcomes guest contributions. All stories relevant to those living in the immediate geographic area and with a connection to it.

Two very different but rich content examples, with unique stories that engage a visitor to whom the information is relevant and who may want to have a conversation about it. Although the majority of The Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog subscribers reside in the immediate Kinnelon, NJ area, some live as far as California and North Carolina. The content matters to them; many have left comments or sent emails.

These content principles - unique, fresh and consistent content that tells a story relevant to your readers and doesn't shout - holds for other digital communication tools like Twitter or Facebook. Fresh, relevant content sets the stage for building a relationship with visitors.

You may think that you couldn't possibly come up with enough fresh content. You would be surprised! I consider it a matter of loosening up my thinking, shaking off my blinders and intensely considering whom I want to connect with. If it's people who share my passion for an area or a subject, then what comes to mind? Can I involve others who think similarly? If not to develop content with me then to help validate ideas and offer perspectives.

Content is powerful.

Think of it as a means of building your personal or business brand, of helping you stand out. It tells and reinforces your story. It explains why you exist, what you believe strongly in, how you create value. It enables you to connect with potential customers.

What do you think? Do you believe as strongly in creating content as I do?

[Note: the CRI is my client.]

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Friday, October 9, 2009

MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer 2009: Will You Be There?

MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer ChicagoWill you be there? At the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer taking place in Chicago on October 21-22, 2009?

I will.

I'd love to see you there.

Do you need reasons for attending? Then, consider reading my post at Flooring The Consumer about what you can expect from the event.

And, then, if you've decided, then click on this link which will take you directly to the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer registration page where you can save $200!

I hope to see you there!

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Links of Note: Social Media Marketing Wisdom

bokeh link fence originally uploaded by Will Montague.
Will Montague's bokeh link fenceI have marvelous Links of Note to share with you! They are filled with wisdom and insight on how to make sense of all of these new, digital and social media marketing tools.

Building The B2B Business Case for Social Media Marketing: A 10-Benefit Slide Show for B2B Professionals by CK makes a strong case for businesses to start engaging with customers. She offers numerous resources, including a presentation, to help make the case.

Having a plan is critical to success with social media. Because "the barrier [to entry with social media] is the knowledge of how to use them." Which is why Lisa Barone urges Creating Your Social Media Plan. More specifically,

1. Secure Your Brand
2. Set Your Metrics
3. Know Who You Are
4. Determine Where to Build Satellite Communications
5. Create Rules for Engagement
6. Engage. Genuinely.
7. Assess Your Success.

In 7 Things I Learned Online That I Use At Work, Valeria Maltoni details benefits and learnings from the age of conversation...

1. Ideas come from anywhere
2. Sharing and deciding are not the same thing
3. Talking needs to be paired with doing
4. Simple does not mean easy [Yes, I like this one!]
5. Transparency is key
6. The currency of modern business is adaptability
7. Sometimes, doing more means accomplishing less.

Olivier Blanchard discusses in this SlideShare the Basics of Social Media ROI. It puts into enterprising perspective what matters for measuring a meaningful return on social media investment.

And, then, two resources relevant to two previous posts:

+ One titled "Social media skills go to the head of the class" from PRWeek discusses the importance of real-life proficiency in social media for both students and teachers. I've just added this to Education & Social Media

+ McLuhan, Socrates and Edith Wharton on Social Media by Joel Postman offers wise perspective from mostly dead authors. I've added this reference to Marketing Effectively During An Information Revolution.

What do you think?

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How Do I Make Social Media Relevant To Categories Like Flooring?

Wordle "How Do I" by C.B. Whittemore
How Do I?How Do I Make Social Media Relevant to Categories Like Flooring?

Definitely a good question. It came up during my Four On The Floor About Social Media Marketing interviews with Dave Foster [Part III].

It also came up during Marketing In A Recession - September Update. More specifically, Paul Friederichsen asked the following question:

How relevant is social media to a category like floor covering with such a long purchasing cycle? If customers are in the market for a new floor on average every 5 – 7 years, what kind of dialog do I, as a dealer, have with customers and how does it result in additional business for me? Do I get a meaningful return for that effort.

My response - no surprise - is that social media is definitely relevant to a category like flooring which is complex, has a long repeat purchase cycle and represents a significant investment.

Not unlike plenty of other categories - like cars, roofs, appliances, computers, ... I bet you can think of plenty more.

You don't believe me? Stay with me.

There are three assumptions that I need to spell out. One is that you consider that your business is about more than just a one-time transaction. The other is that you really care about your customers and appreciate that your product or service fits into their bigger picture -- think home, lifestyle, community or general environment -- and enables them. [Isn't flooring a support base for living?] And, you must believe that loyalty is a driver of profitability.

Getting back to the relevance of social media to categories like flooring.

Complex products require education. What better way to educate than by using social media? Look at how WiseGrass uses its blog to conduct mini-seminars about lawn maintenance. Or how the Mayo Clinic uses video to communicate the expertise of its physicians and researchers and shares those via social media platforms.

Building relationships with customers uncovers opportunities. Despite the long repeat purchase cycle, how can any retailer know that a customer looking for one flooring solution doesn't have other flooring decisions waiting to be made? That was certainly the case for my Mother. She intended to redo more floors, but was so disgusted with her experience after re-flooring 3 rooms that she vowed never again to go through it. Imagine, though, had the retailer kept in better touch with her, asked questions about her experience, explored suggestions on how to improve her experience, and got her talking about her floors... At least one more sale would have ensued from her, not to mention sales to her friends. Traditional tools combined with social media tools like Google local ratings and rankings would help you hear about unhappy situations. By hearing about them, you have the opportunity to fix them. By sharing this information in a public forum, you communicate to future customers how seriously you take customer satisfaction! Blog comments offer a similar forum for communication. Or, invite customers to be part of your e-Newsletter list or Facebook page to communicate directly with them.

Flooring changes often trigger other purchases. What about assembling a network of related retailers to help with those needs? You could use social media - think blog or Facebook Fan Page with links to your network - to explain why you chose the service providers you did and promote success stories that you all contributed to. Not only would you generate goodwill, but also amazing word-of-mouth.

My favorite, though, has to do with maintenance. As complex and significant the investment, flooring rarely comes with detailed care instructions. And, in many cases, how a consumer maintains [or doesn't] her purchase may invalidate a warranty. Although you will find care information online, much of it is confusing and not always credible. Imagine the opportunity available for strengthening relationships and building loyalty by offering customers and visitors a wealth of reputable flooring care tips and recommendations for maximizing the original investment. This can be accomplished via your website, a blog, Facebook and also video clips [e.g., check out my video of Annette Smith demonstrating how best to remove a carpet stain].

There's more! Implementing a social media strategy for complex categories allows you to:

Learn from your customers, anticipate what they need, conduct research with them and enlist them for product development. Fiskateers comes immediately to mind.

Connect with customers you never realized were in the market for your products. Look at the innovation that museums are implementing to connect with customers.

So, do you believe me? Do you see how social media can be relevant to categories like flooring?

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