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29 posts from March 2005

Nothing Sells like Sincerity

I don't read much celebrity news. (I swear, I only look at the fashion photos in PEOPLE.) But I recommend you read this interview with Carmen Diaz about her new show Trippin'. It will warm your heart. And maybe give you an idea of how to make a difference...

Link: The New York Times > Arts > Television > Eco-Lessons Taught in a Surfer-Girl Patois by Ned Martel

"If Cameron Diaz wants to make television with you, it's pretty much an instant yes right there," said Brian Graden, president of programming at MTV. "With our audience, she's huge. But she is also very real and earthy and genuine. That tends to work on television." ..."Trippin" doesn't further Ms. Diaz's fame so much as leverage it for a cause. Asked what specific events led her to eco-commitment, she said: "Nothing, dude. Life! Life! Breathing the air and drinking the water and seeing people be apathetic." She has interrupted her film career to set "Trippin" in motion. "I didn't want to really start asking people for their money," she said.... "You let people live the way they do," she said. "Then everyone starts doing things a little bit different if they have an example."


Marketers Need Customers' Help

It's not easy for companies with long production cycles and complex distribution like the car companies to include volatile consumer preferences in their product planning, but they are finally figure out more ways to do it because, well, they can't afford not to.

Link: USATODAY.com - Ford mines consumers' wants by Sharon Silke Carty

Mike Kilander, vice president of business development for Edmunds.com, says part of the problem automakers face is that they make decisions based on potentially flawed data. For example, a study of the Miami market shows that 31% of all Corvettes sold there were black. But only 19% of buyers using the Edmunds Web site were interested in a black Corvette.

"You're essentially trying to forecast in a push industry," says Kilander, who is developing a consumer forecast product for Edmunds. "One of the problems is, you're relying on data that is suspect. If 20% of the people bought a car that wasn't what they really wanted, and then you're basing your future decisions on that data, you've got a problem."

That's why Ford is gathering data today at FordDirect.com on Fusion that will be put in use in June — which is still three months before the car reaches the market.


Trimming the Fat on Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Over at ClickZ, Pete Blackshaw of Intelliseek continues to offer sharp insights into how to use the new marketing tools effectively.

Link: Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Temper Your Enthusiasm?.

Word-of-mouth marketing works because it comes from a trusted source. Whether stimulated by relevant product experience (iPod), a highly creative ad campaign (Subservient Chicken), or even a degree of mystery ("The Blair Witch Project"), it works because the messenger, the consumer, is more credible and trusted than the advertiser.

This isn't fluffy conjecture. A 2004 Forrester/Intelliseek study found "recommendations from others" and even "consumer opinions posted online" significantly outranked TV, radio, print, and online advertising on the trust scale. This is a big deal because trust and persuasion share a symbiotic relationship. Research from Jupiter Research, NOP World, and Capgemini echoes this theme.

If anything, the importance of trusted recommendations is on an upswing because advertisers continue to alienate consumers with intrusive, interruptive, even invasive ad formats. Consumers are clicking away and reaching for ad filters. They're increasingly cynical about marketer duplicity.


No Charity but Investment in Barefoot Entrepreneurs

Today at Lunch Sparks, Doug said he's on his way overseas to help with micro enterprise development. What a wonderful trend--perhaps the social innovation that will eventually help the world to feed itself.

Times article by Rosemary Righter: A charter for Africa's barefoot entrepreneurs - .

Government-led “solutions” for Africa, if I may adapt a Blair slogan, look Not Forward, But Back. We should be asking, instead, how best to bring capital and skills together to help these anything but passive “masses” to do better what millions of them, considering the circumstances, already do surprisingly well. That is why Enterprise Solutions to Poverty*, the short report by the Shell Foundation, should be required reading in Downing Street. This report makes no claims to originality — indeed, it modestly attributes much of its wisdom to Adam Smith. This is a young foundation, at the beginning of a learning curve. But its thinking is hearteningly original. Think of this report as The Barefoot Entrepreneur’s Charter, and you will get the flavour.

Download the Shell Foundation report here. I found out about this in the Net Impact CSR Weekly. You'll have to join to subscribe.


Shifting Innovation from Technology to Sociology

Over at the Acceleration Studies Foundation, John Smart has an intriguing review and analysis of recent studies which say the rate of innovation, especially in the U.S. is slowing. John calls this apparent trend, which is primarily based on studying patents and obvious and technological inventions, 'innovation saturation.' But I agree as he points out that we may be reaching the limits of human physical needs, at least from the point of view of technical solutions.

I love his comparison of humans to pervasive house plants. Taking care of their physical needs is no longer a technical or mysterious challenge. I think that innovators of the future are going to be much more challenged and intrigued by social, economic and management issues. We have the technology to feed the world, we just haven't innovated the social and economic structure to apply that technology. But we hope it's a matter of 'accelerating times.' Subscribe to his newsletter.


Innovation paired with Depression

The New York Times: Hypomanic? Absolutely. But Oh So Productive! by Benedict Carey

"of course, I live near the edge; the view is better"

So says a hypomanic man interviewed in this New York Times article which surveys recent psychological research into disparate symptoms of bipolar disorder among highly creative people. Is it possible to stay in the manic stage all the time? Is that the secret to higher productivity and resilience? Act fast to read this article for free over the next couple of days. Two recent books and several research projects are covered. No answers yet, but great questions being asked.