Looking forward to seeing an enthusiastic crowd at tomorrow's "From Mass to Grass" Word of Mouth conference. I'm excited about bringing some fresh grassroots stories to light through some amazing, made-in-Canada , word of mouth marketing successes.
From big beer and airlines, to small labelling and 2.0 companies, to altruistic and profit-driven and some of the best B-to-C and B-to-B examples, if you are at all interested in the progressive side of marketing, media and research in Canada - get yourself down to watch and glean the insights.
If you are already going and would like an up close and intimate with some of the speakers the night before drop me an email and I will tell you where we're hiding out over a few beers.
Over the next couple of weeks, I look forward to providing an "7 Questions with" interview format with the majority of speakers and moderators who were at the event. See you there.
Our resident online expert on our WOM committee Jay Moonah has taken a turn at doing word of mouth for the cause of word of mouth. Funny, funny stuff, have a peek and then jump to the signup. As chair of the conference for the second year in a row, I'm personally and professionally excited about the maturation of the word of mouth, social media, buzz and viral and community marketing industry in Canada.
The hamster doesn't lie, if you're at all interested in the peer-generated and progressive world of new marketing, innovation, communications and media and find yourself near Toronto on June 12th, this is the conference you don't want to miss.
In collaboration with Backbone Magazine and KPMG, I was happy to be tapped to judge a competition of the most successful, progressive and new websites in Canada.
Even though a couple of my fave sites didn't make the cut, I was still struck by the gold mine of online talent and product we have coming out of the North (some of them I refreshingly had not stumbled across yet) and oftentimes not located in our major cities either.
In speaking to the Sault Ste Marie Innovation Centre last month, there was a palpable sense of hope amongst an online savvy hardcore that even though you might grow up in a smaller city centre, there is opportunity to build stuff that gets noticed, talked about and used on a global scale and not have to move to the "big show".
Although I would love to talk about my individual faves for these "Pick 20 - Web 2.0 Awards", I have been sworn to secrecy until the winners are announced in the July issue of Backbone.
My general observations however:
- design trumps substance - the best sites were easy on the eyes and not jammed with clutter and features
- half the sites had some community building element and a compelling level of transparency
- some of the sites were visual stunners, innovatively programmed - the only problem was they didn't have much of a concept of business revenue model that companies or people would pay for
- with the exception of one site, the most commerically successful sites had a clear and niche understanding of what they did well and how they could create value for their stakeholders
- many new sites have made the mistake of going fully public wihout first seeding enough interest to generate the content and activity that will make other future visitors perk up
- although the temptation exists to name your site something distinctive, the best and most recognized really did capture the "positioning/benefit delivery" in the name of their site
- perhaps an anomaly, but some of the sites were just as successful in expanding to Asia and Europe as they were in generating success stateside, in the web 2.0 world, the world is truly flat
The best PICK20 sites will be based on the judge's review of each firm's ROI potential, Ongoing long term value, competiive advanatge, execllence of execution and innovation quotient. The sites were categorized in the following classes:
Problem solving: customer response, idea generation, solution brainstorming
Nowhere in Canada will you find a more entertaining and remarkable set of speakers dedicated to getting their companies noticed and talked about. Sure, there are other great conferences in Canada - mesh and ICE have their devoted followings, and for good reason.
Whereas they deal with various facets of the new online and media environments in great depth, "From Mass to Grass" is designed to tie together these disciplines and shape insights and fully integrated strategies for progressive business people, marketers, entrepreneurs, agency people and media folk alike.
If we don't all know it yet, you will after this conference - there is no more potent force to shaping consumer attitudes and changing customer behavior than word of mouth. It has its own orientation, its own tactics, style of communication, media, targeting, emphasis, measurement and success principles and deserves its place alongside the more traditional practices of advertising, promotion, PR, online and innovation.
My personal mission is to ensure future rainmakers, firestarters, headline stealers and start uppers have an understanding of what's out there, why it works so well, the nitty-gritty of how to make it work for you and some of the watchouts. I promise you, you will drink from the "fire hose" of buzz-driven insight...at "From Mass to Grass".
So as conference founder, I'm exceptionally happy to be chairing Canada's mecca for word of mouth for a second year with a star-studded roster of over 30 speakers and topics you have asked for in the past, check out this lineup:
- Richard Bartrem, Westjet's VP Culture & Communications - our morning keynpote talking about "Caring Owners - Driving Word of Mouth Through Employee Empowerment and Enagagement"
- Chris Matthews,Specialized Bikes - Vigilante Organization - Global Efforts in Building brand Awesomeness and a Sense of Brand Community - a guide for large companies on how to evoke the passion of your customer base regardless of your size
Patrick Thorburn - Co-Founder, Matchstick (influencer WOM, product seeding)
Nothing is more aggravating than having a hotbed of talent and not asking the right questions (file under Sarah Lacy). We have the best group of moderators you'll ever find at any conference in Canada teeing it up for "From Mass to Grass":
David Jones, VP, Digital Communications, Hill & Knowlton - as he's better known "The Professor"(for his altruistic efforts to thought lead the Canadian media world into the new digital age), the intelligent voice behind the Inside PR podcast, PR Works blog and H&K's master online flack
Amber McArthur - Co Founder, MGI Media - new media journalist and web strategist, face behind award-winning podcast commandN, former Webnation host and PEI's charming gift to the online nation
A eclectic and mind inducingly numb or funny (pending your perspective) video on how to make a button. Miranda July, the host appears to be the Ally Sheedy of the web broadcasting circuit - weird but strangely interesting women - perhaps the new off-the-wall Amanda Congdon?. I had no idea about furburizing - very technical stuff. Give it a chance.
Sidebar - I kind of like VBS' simple interface for online video and the fact that Spike Jonze is behind it, gives some credence to the fact that I'll like the "Being John Malkovich" styled content. Hopefully next time, Miranda can teach me about magnets or do buttons at pedestrian walks really change the speed of the traffic lights or just make us feel more empowered.
"The problem is all inside your head", she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty reasons to embrace word of mouth
She said it's really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued
But I'll repeat myself, at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty reasons to embrace word of mouth Ya, Fifty ways to leave mass marketing
You just slip out the viral, Tyrell
Make some new buzz, Gus
You don't need to be loud, Saud
Just get yourself free
Hop on the CGM, Brem
You don't need to discuss much (well actually you do)
Just drop off the noise, Royce
And get yourself free
She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you trusted again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty reasons (to embrace word of mouth)
She said why don't we both just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning you'll begin to see the light
And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty reasons to embrace word of mouth
Fifty ways to start some buzz
You just slip out the RSS, Jess
Make some new fans, Hans
You don't need to be scared, Jared
Just get yourself free
Hop on the social web, Caleb You don't need to spend much
Just drop off the fake, Blake
And get yourself free"
If your still reading this post after my massacre of a Paul Simon classic....here is in my experience, for good or bad, the stated order of priority that marketers, agency folk and entrepreneurs give for embracing organized word of mouth:
Accelerate sales (R)
Launch a product/service (R)
Deliver buzz/publicity value (A)
Build awareness/exposure (R)
Drive referral (A)
Deliver web traffic (R)
Deliver live traffic (R)
Target new/specific audience (A)
Support ad campaign (A)
Develop/enhance grassroots perception (S)
Seed influencers (A)
Leverage a sponsorship or new news (A)
Improve credibility of message (E)
Drive overall marketing spend efficiency (R)
Incubate a community of brand fans/ambassadors(E)
Last ditch chance/nothing else has worked (S)
Create novelty (A)
Drive/upsell revenue (R)
Build better customer experience (A)
Be/appear progressive/try something new (S)
Launch in a specific geography (R)
Get noticed by bloggers/social media (A)
Build brand love/affinity (E)
Build a worthy cause (E)
Galvanize employees/stakeholders (E)
Create new/fresh content (S)
Meet/go deeper with a tough-to-reach audience (A)
Reduce customer acquisition costs (R)
Chase younger, more networked audience (A)
Support company values/strategy (S)
Address CEO challenge (S)
Drive brand loyalty/lifetime value of users (E)
Participate in a dialogue/conversation (S)
Target localization of international/national effort (S)
Because we have found money/new budget (S)
Improve customer support (S)
Create an account specific/alliance-based program (S)
Ego/want personal brand to be noticed and talked about (S)
Act as a sounding board/stimulus for a lot of ideas (S)
Follow a competitor/improve on a competitive effort (S)
Diffuse bad word of mouth (A)
Identify superior real world insight (S)
Work with a new agency/get new ideas (S)
Test market for the rest of the company (S)
Convert competitive users/ask for reappraisal (A)
Solve a problem (S)
Find new employees (S)
Skirt/circumvent regulations (S)
Save operational costs (R)
Create a new distribution channel (E)
Legend - R - Results-focused, A- Advocacy-focused, E- Evangelism-focused and S- Soft benefits
As a follow up to my post about Sarah Silverman's ode to Buzz Canuck, this took my laughter gauge past eleven (thanks Jen for the send). As loyal as I was to Letterman and then Conan O'Brien, I have to say I'm getting close to declaring Jimmy K. late night champion.
Four reasons: a) likable, self deprecating, every guy personality, 2) unbelievably funny skits, 3) YouTube mastery and 4) Hollywood magnetism to pull the star set of A-listers in this video. All I can say to NBC, when is Leno leaving?
A mock transit ad campaign (shown above) has captured the attention of the marketing nerds, digital freaks, news hounds, pop culture geeks and quite a few other passerbys. From what's now been formally revealed (although Buzz Canuck had an inkling early on), it's a teaser for Ontario Colleges. The Torontoist did some good forensics teasing it out of the Colleges Ontario director of communications late last week.
Effectiveness? Check out these two respeondents at Yahoo Answers: "It's brilliant! because it is working, if people are talking about this
campaign, then when the products are launched onto the market, success
is almost assured!"
"It's Marketing 101. I've seen them too and they're driving me nuts.
Someone mentioned that they're from Ontario Colleges, an association
representing colleges across the province.Regardless, they're successful. We're now talking about it, which is the point of this ad strategy."
All details will be formally revealed tomorrow by the Colleges Ontario, I just hope it's something worthwhile - because the campaign was very eclectic, invited discovery and has driven some pent up and wide spun buzz. I'm cautiously optimistic that the follow up will deliver some of the steak to match the grassroots sizzle over the last week.
So here's an open question - small outdoor media buy, effective in getting people's attention for its apparent riskiness/quirkiness (although from this professional's eyes, very little), curious why other brands with much larger budgets don't attempt the teaser ad approach more. It seems like we get one of these every year, it lands a lot of attention and we don't see another one for 12 months. Marketing practices that make you go hmmmm.