MIMA event – Light up Your Brand: Building a Memorable Online Experience

The latest MIMA event was wonderful as usually.

I would classify the event as a mini-conference designed for a wide audience.

Lou Carbone’s presentation was spectacular!  I guess his book would be next on my reading list 🙂

Lou’s presentation emphasized the fundamental shift of our economy to the point where we need to think about experience management rather then concentrating on the product. With hilarious and clear examples, Lou urged us to concentrate on the customer – on value creation instead of “value extraction.”

Some of interesting ideas:

  • Focusing on the “best practices” may not allow finding the “next practices”
  • We live in the time of change: industrial age (concentration on the product), now (concentration on the experience). Change from “bus drivers” to “taxi drivers”
  • Corporate brand is a promise of the experience
  • While many companies try to discover how customers feel about companies, we should learn how customers feel about themselves while interacting with the brand.
  • Question: How do I want my customers to feel about themselves?
  • Thought: What is the effect I am trying to create, and what is the value of this effect to my customers?

Next, Jamey Tisdale briefly described marketing campaign promoting release of Halo 3. Though the particular tactics may not be useful for an average marketer (how many of us promote computer games? 🙂  ), the presentation had very interesting points:

  • Now, about 50% of Microsoft marketing spend goes to digital media (similar to SUN and probably other “one the edge” companies). Thought it may not be important in itself – the market is clearly moving closer to the interactive marketing
  • Microsoft has a very authentic and trusted blogger – a gaming enthusiast, who is now the company’s employee. The corporate blog is also functioning, but it might have a PR flavor comparing to the blog of this enthusiast.
  • Microsoft’s challenge in promoting the game – make it accessible to wider market without offending core customers
  • Marketing as a game…  encouraging enthusiasts to talk about the product

The last presenter, a representative of Frog Design was probably a treasure for any developer in the audience. However, he also raised very interesting marketing questions:

  • Software as a brand…. We have brand style guides, but we don’t have anything similar for the software. We should… 
  • The market needs more connection between design and development; designers should understand the development to make their prototypes feasible, and developers should understand design to better contribute to the process

At the end of the event Microsoft offered attendees a couple of demonstrations. The developers who made the presentations were so enthusiastic about their projects, that I started admiring Microsoft HR approaches 🙂 

We had a chance to look at Microsoft Silverlight and another interesting prototypes still under development.

Microsoft Silverlight I would characterize as probably more developer-friendly Flash with some additional SEO benefits. Though it also required downloading a plug-in (and it is not clear how many people have the plug-in now), any integration with IE would make the plug-in ubiquitous.

Some of the prototypes seemed to me “answers without the question…” I could not think about an additional value that they could give to the consumer.  It was probably innovation for the sake of innovation.  From another side, somebody has to do this fascinating research that may never have commercial application. Even if I don’t find voice-recognition practical in business environment, when somebody just says “Vista, channel 3” and computer obeys… it feels wonderful.  It feels we are entering the future. 

The food at the event was great!

Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Finally, I turned the last page of this book.  The book was recommended by a few people, it was #4 on the list of recently read books by marketing executives (according to eMarketer), and it was discussed on the last educational event of Minnesota chapter of American Marketing Association (MN AMA).

The book is worth all the buzz….  

Beside strategy canvases and value curves, it has many very practical suggestions for the companies. These suggestions targeted not only to finding the right strategy, but also to right method of implementation.

One of the most interesting for me parts was The Power of Fair Process. The authors explained that “people care as much about the justice of the process through which an outcome is produced as they do about the outcome itself.” I guess, whatever the company is trying to implement, a grandiose business turn-around or a work group web site, principles described in the book would be very helpful.

MN AMA – Springboards for Innovation: Going Beyond the Product

MN AMA January Monthly Meeting was as exciting and thought provoking as anticipated.  

A new and very useful element of the meeting was a few minutes of “organized networking.” We were lucky to have a networking coach – Susan Stoen from Spoken Impact  – one of valued AMA sponsors. As a part of the “organized networking,” we had to produce our own “30 seconds commercial” for our neighbors at the table. 

Oops… I realized that I actually did not have one…  I was ready to pitch AMA or Toastmasters club, I was ready to discuss the industry, but I could not tell what I was actually doing at work… Great point!  Now I understand why some people from other departments at work don’t quite know what I am doing exactly besides serving as a passionate industry evangelist…

 FoodI will have something coherent by the next meeting…  But despite my self-promoting clumsiness, the “organized networking” provided me with more business cards of fellow AMA members than I ever managed to collect. Also, this part of the program kept me from the third plate of wonderful free food at the event. By the way, this is a picture of my second plate…yummmmm…  🙂

The innovation presentation and discussion was spectacular. Mary Poul, Business Development Manager, 3M Healthcare and Rita Shor, Shor Enterprises, LLC and former 3M Innovator demonstrated different approaches to innovation. It was very pleasant to see two leaders cooperating seamlessly in the process of the presentation. Mary and Rita seemed to know each other so well, that they could work together, rather than splitting the presentation into individually owned pieces. Attendees of the event also received the copy of the PowerPoint.

We not only looked at tools that can facilitate the innovation, but also tried a couple of examples from different industries. Unfortunately, my personal quirks limited any innovative ideas I could contribute. We were trying to innovate in the movie rental business and the wine industry (my family don’t own a TV, and we also don’t drink any alcohol) 🙂  However, it was very entertaining to follow the discussion at our table and hear “innovations” from other parts of the room.

Takeaways that we can use now:

  • Thinking about innovation as a business approach rather than only a product characteristic.  Doblin 10  – Ten types of innovation
  • Thinking about value innovation rather than just innovation.  Is the new feature valued by customers or just marginally useful for them?
  • Blue Ocean Strategy Thinking about innovation as a business approach that needs to look at the “big picture” and take market/competition into consideration. Blue Ocean Strategy Value curves suggests plotting principal factors of an industry on x axis and level of offering by the company on the y axis. To be innovative, the company’s offer must be different from “me too” approach in the industry, and the company’s offer also need to be valuable for the customers.
  • Thinking about “beyond the company” innovation. The resources available in the company may not be sufficient; the Internet allows tapping into the “long tail” of innovation by the industry. Interesting, though it was not mentioned at the presentation, a marketing idea web site was just released in January – BootB  It provides creative briefs in a dozen of languages, including two that I speak, and offers anybody to suggest a creative solution that can be used by companies. The “price tag” of each creative idea is also available – hey, we can try our marketing creativity!  🙂

Two books were mentioned at the meeting:

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

I am on the page 131!    This is probably one of “must read” for anybody interested in business.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
I just read an introduction…  This one is next. 🙂

The food at the event was absolutely magnificent – as you can see by my full second plate 🙂