Saturday, April 25, 2009

"The Brand is Me" to "The Brand is We"

Do you remember when in the year 1998, the Internet was having its coming out party, and surging, young consumers began to say "I want to stop wearing labels" and begin acting like myself. I am me. I am special. I am not a super-model. I am strong.
That was a watershed moment, a shift from push to pull. Tom Peters weighed in with his "Brand is you" sermons.and hunting for vintage fashion, mixing and matching, mash-up in make-up...all took hold. Impotency was felt by many brands and accelerated the switch to spending more for online advertising, search, away from traditional media spending.

Today, the accelerating pace of adoption by millions globally, is setting the stage for the 21st century edge economics, where the pre-occupation with "me"...will give way to the ideals of "we". The community, the power of association, and our desire
to align with trust will be paramount. An entirely new set of tools are being assembled to handle an evolved DNA for business. Crowdsourcing 2.0, Hyperlocal News feeds, deep connectivity, extracting greater efficiencies for one's daily spending budget.

Stay tuned right here as we explore the methods, the approach, and the inevitability of change.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Social Media - Director of Community - The Job

Here is the first of several job descriptions which I have prepared to assist clients recruit and identify the leadership to manage social web and networking responsibilities in-house:

As Director of Community, you will act as:

1. A community evangelist within the company by actively seeking feedback from our userbase and managing customer support. You will work closely with all departments of the company as a representative of our diverse community.
2. A brand ambassador on behalf of the Company engaging with users and potential users. You will create and manage creative community-driven marketing campaigns online and off.

List of Duties:
•Manage customer support team
•Create and manage customer support & community moderation procedures
•Help define the voice of the brand by writing copy and interacting with users
•Manage Community Guidelines and Establish "Best Practices" for social web activities
•Identify, support and encourage leaders within the Company and its staff.
•Represent the Company and its community at conferences and events
•Identify key topics relevant to the brand, and manage the publishing and sharing of content through social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs
•Create and manage innovative community-driven marketing campaigns (online and off)
•Interact with bloggers and traditional press
•Work with partner organizations and public events to introduce the Company to new users

Required Skills:
•Communication, writing
•Online customer support
•Online forum/social network moderation
•Social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, RSS, blogs, etc.)
•Project management

Additional Expertise a Plus:
•Experience in marketing
•Event production/coordination a plus
•Experience with technology development process in startup environment
•Public speaking
•Technical knowledge pertaining to social web sites and software


Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Mass is Past - Emerging Micro-Markets

Social Networks are the most powerful examples of how "social media will become like air". They operate as interlinked ecosystems, which incubate and nurture relationships between people and the content they create and exchange. Expect to see an increasing number of social networks, offering different market segments ways to connect and form communities.

As these communities become more defined, size becomes less important, and traditional "bigger is better" pursuits to service "mass" culture will evaporate.

As size becomes less important, Chris Anderson's "long-tail" principles, where many micro-markets are linked together, will reshape how we communicate with one another.
Watch closely as old world news journalists, many whom are being displaced, work in partnership with technologists to produce content that both machines and humans can read. In fact, what humans read, will become a subset of machine-readable content.
Why? It will be more profitable.

Social Networking platforms, and other online communities are also altering how sellers engage and interact with buyers. Being a merchant, I am fascinated with what this will mean for e-commerce? What impact will these developments have on the store-based retailing.

Recognizing that the primary challenge for business is now directed at managing the pace of change, we will see continued pressure to de-leverage traditional business structure, its overhead and how it is organized. Watch for major changes in staffing, and ask to read the job descriptions.

But, executive leadership, remain entrenched in top-down, and "branding" concepts relevant just a few years ago, but now "fatigued". This is a strong impediment to true engagement in building relationships and trust through sharing content, and connectivity with smaller micro-communities. Watch for changes in the year ahead.

As we begin to cope with the superhuman rate of expansion in global information production, it is likely that smaller teams of networked professionals, operating with minimal direct overhead, will be better positioned to leverage disruptive technologies, apply them, ground them into profitable form, and thrive.

Stay tuned here as we turn our attention to the impact of these changes on the business of media, art, lifestyle shopping, and more.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Specialty Retailing - The Game Has Changed

Specialty retailing, which emerged in the 1970's, blossomed, as merchants found they could concentrate on specific product categories, offering greater variety and quality, more informed service, offering a pleasant shopping alternative to the department stores, which were flourishing at the time. Shopping moved to malls, real estate rules retail, and the economics were appealing. The specialty store category gained traction and as department stores diminished in popularlity, specialty stores gained, expanded, and "chains" found a foothold...Consumers liked the brands, and store-based shopping in malls enjoyed a renaissance..The web came along, multi-channel selling took hold, direct marketers opened stores, stores went online, and the consumer supported it all. It worked...In my estimation, the game has changed forever. Stores will continue to exist, but their purpose will be redefined Web-based commerce thru online channels will continue expand, but top-down brands will find find it increasingly difficult to drive new prospects to their websites without adjusting to the paradigm shift underway in how consumers will shop and transact.

Our interest is to observe, listen, and engage with the marketplace to understand these shifts. We intend to share insights and trends with you, learning together, focused on the relevancy of e-commerce and the shopping experience as social networking goes global, as linkage of content becomes more seamless, as rich media and video help us all become storytellers. Information is energy, and consumers are going to transact based on the associations and trust established with those of social influence around topics of shared interest. It is clear to me that e-commerce connectivity, content, and community are going to be interwoven....


ROI - Return on Investment = Return on Influence

Social Influence Marketing will go mainstream by 2010

Social Media Usage will shift the focus to Social Influence

Think Global - Shop Local -

Search will transform into topics and trends

Community-based purchasing will emerge.

Stay tuned.


Monday, April 6, 2009



By Lou Sagar

The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity was initially formed in partnership with the Region of Tuscany, recognizing that the appreciation of cooking and fine foods must include the safeguarding of local farms, and the preservation of cultural traditions. What began as a movement focused upon a concern for “terra-verde” (Mother Earth), is now emerging as a “global mindset” promoting a healthier approach to contemporary living and sustainable values. At its core, there is deep admiration for the handmade. In fact, it’s notable that the birthing of this movement took place in Italy, a country which, during the Renaissance, made the artisan noble. The crafting of handmade objects was celebrated. Ceramicists, glassblowers, metalworkers, woodworkers, and goldsmiths, were honored.

Opposed to the culture of fast food, the sub-movement known as Slow Flood turns our attention to celebrate the “process” of growing and making things as much as it does the end “product” itself. The process is an essential part of the story, which enhances the experience. There is respect for materials, techniques, and presentation. Often misunderstood, the first impression of “Slow” is the idea that we one should “slow down”, which is certainly not the intent at all. It’s the added pleasure and wisdom we enjoy when we practice the “art of slow”, which is how I have come to appreciate and share it.

As we all know, the responsibilities associated with our busy lives and work, are often hectic, and overwhelming. As we move towards spring (in this hemisphere), keep “the art of slow” in mind as you celebrate the Easter, and Passover holidays later this month. Think global but shop local. Ask local growers to tell you their stories. Use small dishes for tastings. Get the kids out into the garden to feel the soil. Spend a night outside looking at the stars. Most of all, encourage gifts of the handmade for friends, family, and associates.

Happy Spring.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Buying Online is Better for Environment

Using data provided by and building on previous Green Design Institute studies, Carnegie Mellon researchers have compared the energy use and carbon dioxide emissions associated with delivering a flash drive from a manufacturer to a home via the traditional retail channel and via's ecommerce channel.

In one scenario tested, the researchers found that buying from reduced environmental impact with 35% less energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions than that produced in the traditional retail shopping model.

Key findings include:

The traditional retail distribution model, combined with factors such as product packaging and customers driving to and from stores, resulted in greater energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions than in the online shopping model.
The largest contributors to energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions were from customer transport for traditional retail, and packaging and 'last mile' delivery to customer homes for ecommerce.
Approximately 65% percent of total emissions generated by the traditional retail model stemmed from customer transport to and from retail stores.
"In a study of this nature with numerous variables, we took great care to estimate average case performance using simulations and approximations," said H Scott Matthews, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon and research director of the Green Design Institute. "We were able to show that in the majority of cases studied, the ecommerce model does perform better than shopping at traditional retail in the areas of carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption."


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