Posts Tagged ‘people centric’

Invisible Man Artist: Putting People At Center

Yesterday my wife showed me a series of photos, but first she explained it was a test to see whether I could find what was hidden in the photo. Most were pics of nature and the intricate disguises used sometimes for protection and most times to catch prey.

But then she turned to this pic, and I honestly couldn’t tell what I was looking at in this photo at first glance. Wild, isn’t it?

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The man looked like something from X-Files or Fringe, a hologram, invisible man, floating in front of real life. Clearly he is at the center of the picture, but my first thought was a doctored photo.

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Not so. Chinese artist Liu Bolin, 37, has taking blending in to a whole new level. According to a story by the Foreign Mail Service from summer 2009, Bolin takes up to 10 hours after finding a setting to determine where and how he will blend in, then, with the help of an assistant, he paints himself to literally blend into the background, perfectly.

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I couldn’t help but look two, three, four times or more, and I had to find this guy online. What a fascinating concept.

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After you get past the cool or bizarre or wow factor of many of his photos, you can’t help but think of the commentary on daily life that this tells. How often do we want to just blend in and not stand out? How often do we want to stand out but we’re stuck in with the crowd? Do we really see what is around us? Are we part of the fabric of the world around us?

Very interesting. The talent required to pull this off is hard for me to imagine. It gets you thinking about many ways you could really put consumers in the center of your world… hmmm… fun!

A few more…

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05

11 2010

How Many, How Often, How Long… is it really enough?

At ARF’s Audience Measurement 5.0 for some of the sessions.  Actually speaking here later this afternoon.  Had to post a quick thought on a recurring theme I think deserves further debate.

ESPN is doing a great job of emphasizing that how many, how often, and how long is all that is needed for audience measurement.  I totally agree… if you stop at the channel measurement job of counting up and showing reach, frequency, and engagement.  But, when it comes to understanding really how to connect with people through the channels and messages you deliver, it’s not enough.  I’d guess ESPN would probably agree.

ESPN just shared fascinating data about the media consumption patterns of male sports enthusiasts in the US.  It is so comprehensive that you can see how incredibly useful it is in understanding when and where sports fans (men in this case) are using different channels for sports-related activities.  Clearly, with this information ESPN can attract advertisers by showing they know the elusive men 18-34 is watching online, mobile, TV at these times, etc.

Totally agree that’s a monetization metric that helps the negotiation of the value of ad space.  The addition of how long to how many and how often provides an engagement dimension that helps you see that the people you’re interested in are going to be hanging out a bit longer, so your chances of connecting are that much better.

This information helps you know the chance of being connected with someone strictly because they’re in the vicinity of your content.  However, what if we also understood the relevance of the medium (TV, online, mobile, social, print, etc. – in this case, all in the sports genre) in providing some utility in helping that same audience make decisions in their lives?  This added, people-centric dimension to measurement is about more than message and campaign planning, it can provide a future currency to monetize media properties and content–and do it in a way that benefits the marketer AND the consumer AND the content provider.

For example, if you know a channel has relevance and utility to buying cars or selecting college options for your kids or choosing a profession or stopping smoking or deciding where to eat or picking a movie, you now know how to create an experience for the consumer.  If you can assign a value to the “power” or “ability” of a channel to deliver an experience (what I’m calling relevance and utility) within a category, then you can charge more to the advertiser who wants to use your medium to reach a consumer.

Too often we think of relevance and utility as the job of the creative – getting a message that matters to someone and then delivering it where they are.  Similarly, we think of out-of-home or experiential marketing solutions as the ones responsible for creating experiences.  Today’s media landscape has changed enough to make it so that the distinction between creative/message/medium is very blurred.  Combined, they’re all creating experiences whether we measure it or not, and, as such, provide relevance and utility for the individual, on their terms.

Instead of focusing our spending and buying of ad space based on numbers of people and how long and how often they use the channel, let’s start looking at the relevance of that channel to be useful within the context of a decision-making process.  Then sell space based on that.  In my view, that benefits the consumer, puts people at the center, and ends up benefiting the media property and the marketer.

Auto Sentiment Analysis Failing? Context is King

UK company FreshMinds Research recently ran a test by pulling social media commentary about Starbucks using several popular analytic tools offering automated sentiment analysis of the text gathered.  They found flipping a coin to determine the sentiment of each individual comment would have been more accurate than what the tools reported.

FreshMinds analyzed over 19,000 online conversations with tools from Alterian, Biz360, Brandwatch, Nielsen, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos.  All content was centered on Starbucks.

The good news is aggregate level reporting of sentiment (average overall) was between 60% and 80% in agreement with a manual coding by trained staff.  Not bad.  The bad news?  Only about a third of individual comments were accurately coded.

Somehow, the randomization of automation errors resulted in an aggregate number of coding all conversations that wasn’t off by much.  But, if you wanted to dig deeper into individual conversations either for more insight or to engage in the conversation, the likelihood of finding the right positive or negative comments is not very high at all.

Their report is an excellent overview of these seven tools and how they perform across geographies and content sources.  And, as a side note, it’s a great marketing effort to get you and me to pull down their paper in exchange for contact information.

It’s not surprising to me that these tools are still so far off.  It’s a micro-representation of a macro-level challenge facing most research firms, agencies, and marketers today:  putting things into context from a people-centric approach.  We have so much data today that making it both accurate and actionable requires a more concerted effort to put everything into context, mirroring the reality of human decision-making and behavior as much as possible.

I’m sure some combination of neural networks, complexity science, and/or agent-based simulation tools eventually will yield “smarter” sentiment analysis tools to speed up the process of sifting through thousands of lines of text-based data.  Those pursuing that dream need not lose sight of the biggest mystery to solve:  understanding the meaning of words within a human context.

The FreshMinds report is definitely worth the read.  I’m curious what the makers of these tools would have to say about their report.

Thanks to Research (the magazine) for the heads up on the white paper release.

Reinventing Marketing: Six Issues Reported by Alan Mitchell

I love coming across someone writing about core issues in our field of marketing that you totally agree with, but seldom here discussed in the trenches with actual clients and campaigns.

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For me, Alan Mitchell’s March 10th post for Marketing magazine on reinventing marketing is just that and much more.  You can learn a lot from considering the way Mitchell explains these six issues.

#1 – Personal information management.  People manage their own info today, so organizations need to understand how and why people want and use their info.  Different circumstances, jobs, and situations require different flow of info between people and companies.

#2 – Consumer-decision making.  It’s more critical than ever to understand how people make decisions.  When you do that, you put why we make the decisions we do in the proper context.

#3 – Brands as information services. One way Mitchell offers to reinvent branding.

#4 – Touchpoints. People choose the touchpoints that help them achieve their goals the most efficiently and effectively.  As Mitchell says so well, touchpoints are no longer a means to an end, they need to be selected based on the value they provide to the consumer.  He also notes that products, services, marketing… all touchpoints.

#5 – Marketing and market metrics. I’ve been saying this forever, but 99% of the industry still tracks things in this very one-sided way.  Advertisers measure how much they spend to reach a specific number of a group of people, and what business they pick up. The metrics capturing what happens in between, the consumer’s personal outcomes, are not included.  They have to be if you’re going to be able to address points 1 through 4 above.

#6 – Value propositions.  Mitchell’s summary is these 5 issues mean value needs to be defined from a people-centric perspective, not a company- or organization-centric point of view.

I not only whole-heartedly agree with Mitchell’s articulation of these issues, I think his explanations and examples make it easy to understand and, hopefully for brands, to apply.

In recent years working with brands who get this control shift, it has been my experience the best way to be prepared to address these “killer issues” (borrowing from Mitchell’s naming) is to more fully understand the way people make decisions.  When we’ve studied the stages of a decision-making process, the triggers that activate behavior or response, the outcomes sought, and the influences (or influencers or both) along the way, we’ve been able to help organizations understand where they can add the most value along that journey.

It boils down to being relevant and adding utility so people choose to interact with you.  Relevance.  Utility (or usefulness).  Interaction.

When you think that way, you add metrics to those you track for your marketing efforts.  What do you add?  The degree to which people, with whom you are trying to connect, reach the outcomes important to them along this journey.  When you understand the journey, you can see what people want to think, feel, or do in order to accomplish their goals.  More importantly, you know which outcomes make your products, services, or information relevant and useful.  Bingo.  Track these metrics in addition to how much you spend and how much you gain in business, then you’re tracking what matters in the system.  Then you can have authentic interaction with people — real relationships.

Alan – thanks for shedding more light and teaching me a thing or two with your packaging of these very real issues.  I’m sure Mitchell has a lot more worth reading at his website.

11

03 2010

Understanding WHY in the context of HOW… Huh?

A recent discussion in a LinkedIn group led me to consider an interesting question, even if academic:  What’s more important, the answer to the question WHY or the question HOW?

I’m sure you’re thinking, like I was, it totally depends the intended application of the answer to those two questions.  imagesAre we talking about doing something ourselves (why should I? vs. how do I?)?  Are we interested in understanding someone else’s behavior (why did you? vs. how did you?)?  Or, are we trying to teach someone else something (why do you want to? vs. how do you?)?

Just thinking about it top-of-mind it’s easy to see that both questions (why and how) can yield meaningful answers.

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In my professional life we are always trying to understand human behavior in order to innovate marketing and/or product solutions with and for our clients.  To me, I’ve come to find that the answer to WHY has significantly more meaning when understood within the context of the HOW.  I’m specifically referring to the answers to these questions in this way:  WHY do you do something, want something, or believe something; and, HOW do you do, seek, or believe something.  Looked at in this manner, the answer to HOW you experience that journey (think of a purchase cycle, a career decision, choosing a doctor, etc.) is most important because it shows you at what points and in what ways you have a chance to play a meaningful role.

As a company or a brand, you are in a much stronger position to create relevance, interaction, and utility in the lives of your audience (consumers, customers, prospects, etc.) if you understand HOW their journey is experienced; then the answer to the WHY has some meaningful context. It is in the context where powerful innovations come in terms of how to connect with people through your marketing, products, and/or services.

Consider this example.  Smoking cessation has been studied for decades. Clinically, doctors know why people continue to smoke because of the addictive power of nicotine, etc. Socially and functionally and emotionally, however, there are many more reasons why in terms of the benefits a smoker derives from the behavior. At the same time, many organizations have studies why people quit smoking — health concerns, family pressure, etc.

As a result, smoking cessation marketing for years focused on scaring people about the health concerns. Everyone today knows that, so the most recent trend for several years has been to promote the use of tips and tricks (mostly pharmaceutical) such as the patch or nicotine gum, etc. It works for many, but far more try to quit and then end up returning to smoking.

We focused our study for the American Legacy Foundation on HOW people successfully quit so we could understand WHY they do what they do in context. The result was a clear pathway toward resolve that must be followed for a successful quit attempt: desire to quit smoking, eager for life without cigarettes, acceptance for changes I must make, ready to make those changes, and confidence you will succeed. If a smoker skips this path to resolve, it’s highly likely they will not succeed in a quit attempt.

Picture 1So, what did it mean to marketing and product innovation? The American Legacy Foundation developed the Re-Learn campaign as part of their EX initiative. Instead of telling people to quit, they created TV ads, OOH executions, an online community, and other experiences that help smokers first identify why you smoke and then determine how to re-learn life without cigarettes. If you go to BecomeAnEx.org you’ll find a community of people sharing triggers for smoking and methods for replacing those triggers with healthier solutions. Once you’ve built resolve in this manner you’re asked to set a quit date.

When you understand HOW a decision is made, the WHY has the needed context to help you know how to connect. When you do this, you have a real chance to create relevance, interact, and add utility in people’s lives that results in a meaningful relationship with you (brand, product, company, cause, etc.).

24

02 2010

Focus on People = Focus on Jobs to Solve

I recently listened to a webcast by Tony Ulwick, CEO, Strategyn about his company’s approach to Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI). The focus was innovation strategies to reach growth objectives by developing product solutions based on a clear understanding of the “jobs” people are looking to solve in their life.

Couldn’t agree more with the basic premise that Ulwick is promoting:  people are buying products to get jobs done; therefore, companies need to understand these “jobs” better in order to create successful solutions.  He defined a job as a task, goal, or objective a person is trying to accomplish or a problem they are trying to resolve.

“Customers migrate to products that get the job done best,” Ulwick explained.

This is music to my ears.  And Strategyn appears to have perfected the process of identifying and prioritizing consumer jobs and the desired outcomes that real people are seeking.  They use these insights to identify areas of opportunity and, ultimately, help their clients implement a growth strategy based on product innovation in those areas.

This simple insight (focusing on the jobs that real people are looking to solve) has as much application to marketing innovation as it does to products and services.  In the end, it is all about a company being relevant by providing genuine utility for someone.

The path I’ve been on for a few years now has followed a similar logic train as Ulwick…

People are not only buying products to get jobs done, they are consuming media and interacting with various influencers (people, places, and things) to get jobs done in their lives.  Within the context of marketing communications, let’s refer to these media and influencers more broadly as “channels”.  Like products they sell, these channels represent various opportunities, levers, or tactics that marketers can tap into in order to be relevant to real people.

In this way, the line between a product or service and a channel is becomingly increasingly hard to draw.  Consider the obvious examples of Nike Plus and apples iPhone.  Is access to tools and a community to help you track your running a product, service, or marketing channel?  Is an iPhone app a marketing channel or a product?  Both.

It follows, then, that understanding the jobs people are looking to solve in their lives can equally influence new products or new marketing channels you create.  And we can best understand these jobs by mapping the dynamics of the “system” in which these jobs operate–in this context a system is the interaction between people, influencers, products/services, and companies.

For example, think about the last time you went out to eat and you chose an Applebee’s or Olive Garden or Chili’s, some casual dining restaurant.  The system in this case includes you, the people you went out to eat with (we rarely go alone), the things that influenced your decision where to go, the food you ate, and the experience you had.  The jobs you were looking to solve range from the functional (hunger) to the emotional (social interaction), and could include any number of different things.

Ulwick’s approach, if you were one of those restaurants looking to improve your product, would be to understand what jobs you were looking to resolve through that visit.  And he’d likely probe multiple scenarios to get the full range of eating out jobs.  From that, you can see how it would be easy to define specific outcomes you (the one eating at the restaurant) are looking for when you go to a restaurant.  We could then measure how important each outcome is to you and find out how satisfied you are with the various options available to you to deliver that outcome.  This is awesome and makes total sense.

I would go a step further.  What if we were to study the jobs that you were looking to resolve at different steps of the process you went through in deciding where to go eat?  We’d likely learn that you had a set of restaurants you like, you quickly determined which met your key needs (the jobs referenced in the earlier graph), then you took your choice to the group of friends you were going out to eat with, and then you ended up going to the place that some other guy preferred.  Your experience at the restaurant would then help you decide where you’d go next time.

Mapping the entire decision cycle in this way gives us more jobs to define, and specific jobs we can assign not to the product but to the channels that help you arrive at your decision.  The simple act of thinking what restaurants you might be interested in at a particular time and place is the first job you’re looking to resolve.  In selecting the restaurant for the group you’re dealing with a slightly different job:  successful negotiation, and success can be defined in many ways.

Knowing this, we can determine which channels are most effective at shaping your short list versus facilitating negotiation. Perhaps the actual experience and/or word-of-mouth recommendations are the best at the short list, while coupons, limited-time offers, or promotional events are the most effective at helping you win in negotiation (get to go to the restaurant you like by giving people a reason to like it, too).

Armed with this information, a marketer can see where certain decision-making process gaps are and find new and better ways to solve real jobs that real people face.  These solutions, then, are as likely to be marketing channel innovation as they are new product innovation.

Kudos to Strategyn for the work they’re doing in this area.  I think the big opportunity that is even more real in the digital world today is to apply this thinking to both marketing and product innovation.

Ulwick referenced a quote by Christensen in his book Innovative Solution:  ”The job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to develop products that customers will buy.”

I would make a slight modification… the job is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to be relevant and add utility in people’s lives through the products and experiences they create.

A little long… but, hopefully, you get the point.

20

01 2010

Simple Framework for Marketing Campaign ROI Measurement

I speak so often with clients, at conferences, or with colleagues about measuring the success of a campaign that I figured it made sense to share some of the thinking here.  I’d love to get your critique, ideas, and input.  To me, the basics are simple… people, process, and priorities make it complex.

The way I see it, marketing campaigns need to be evaluated for two reasons:  (1) to demonstrate progress (for the CFO), and (2) to inform mid-course corrections to improve results (for the CMO, marketing teams, agency, etc.).  And, I guess this won’t surprise anyone who knows my bias, the most effective measurement efforts put people in the middle:  what you need me (person) to think, feel, or do to engage in a relationship with you (brand).

Too often, evaluation is relegated to measuring what easily can be, rather than what should be, tracked.  To avoid this pitfall, campaign measurement should be built around concrete business goals and the efficiency of specific tactics to deliver on the expected outcomes (thoughts, feelings, and actions among our target audiences) that will make those goals a reality.

Using this approach, the basic framework for the campaign evaluation should be tracking (A) Business Goals, (B) Consumer Journey Outcomes, and (C) Channel / Tactic Efficiency.

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Progress toward Business Goals are tracked within client data systems (hopefully).  They need to be timely, specific, and accessible.

Consumer Journey Outcomes simply means how you believe your marketing efforts are going to influence people.  At the basic level, marketing is about creating a demand for a relationship, activating that relationship, and maximizing the (mutually beneficial, we hope) relationship over time.  So this is what we should track in this area.  And the metrics showed in the middle column above give you some ideas of how/what to track.

Consumer Journey Outcomes must either be observed or measured through some type of survey research.  In every case, metrics within this area require you to ask a random sampling of your target audiences a series of questions.

Channel / Tactic Efficiency is all about how much we spend on specific campaign elements, how many people they reach, and how long / how often our target audience is engaged with, or by, these tactics.  Of course, there are interesting things you can do today in this area, too, that get at engagement with the tactic/channel/content that is more than just reach.  But, in the end, these metrics are all channel-centric. And, I believe this still is what most people are referring to when they talk about ROI measurement.  But, hopefully I’ve made a case why they are meaningless without the context of the Consumer Journey Outcomes.

At the very least, huge value can be realized if we simply report progress against Business Goals, Journey Outcomes, and Tactic Efficiency.  Combining all three over time, there are really cool things you can do as you track in these areas to map the relationship between specific tactics to journey outcomes to business goals.  Those tactics (messages or channels or a combination) most effective can be increased, those not working can be modified or eliminated.

So, there it is.  Hope this helps someone thinking through what to measure rather than measuring what you can!

07

08 2009

Amazon Jungle: Apology Nicely Done, But Orwellian Slip Invites Important Debate

The irony seems too perfect, almost scripted. Big brother “snatching” of illegal e-copies of kindle1984-thumb-550x447-20925George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). A totalitarian regime in a future world?  Or just Amazon trying to abide by copyright laws? 

Follow up Amazon’s actions with a public apology with candor rarely seen from the corporate world, especially from the CEO.  Watch the apology spread across social networks in our living of the futuristic world Orwell anticipated back in 1949.  Problem solved.  Case closed.  Or not?

I was very impressed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ public apology posted yesterday on Amazon.com’s own Kindle community forum.

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images3Bezos’ apology is powerful because of its sincerity.  Sure, you can find ways to pick it apart.  But, absent any more information this seems like the perfect way to be authentic in today’s fully connected world.  Kudos to Bezos.  Well done.  And it’s clear the overwhelming majority of comments in the forum applaud the action.

Setting aside the apology, the lasting impact, and the real irony of this situation, is the debate it has already fueled and, most certainly, will reach a new level intensity.  Amazon effectively demonstrated to the average John Q. Public that it can very easily get into your system and delete a “book” that you purchased from them for any reason.  Now, this isn’t new–the ability has been around for sure.  But this is the most widespread and potentially most public such action that literally brings it home. 

Consider this comment to Bezos’ apology:picture-9You can easily laugh this off to naivete. [UPDATE: Reached Eric via Twitter @vrtsflipflop and as an IT guy he's well aware of capability, but like most of us would not have expected functionality built into the Kindle product] But you can read many of these comments in the discussion with people not realizing this is possible in the world of e-commerce and cloud computing today.

The technological reality of today enables companies to be truly people-centric in building solutions that meet all our needs and wants, on our terms, and delivered in our preferred way.  Convenience.  Utility.  Value.  All great.

But the same reality presents a quandary, especially for e-tailers like Amazon.  And it causes, or should, people to consider the same realities of what is given can be taken, or watched, or copied, etc.

Amazon’s user agreement for Kindle expressly “grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display…”  When faced with the news that the product sold (copies of 1984 and Animal Farm) were illegal and violation of copyright laws, Amazon acted to protect publisher and author’s rights.  

It has since informed its users it will no longer delete purchased content.

But, as Eugene Volokh comments in his blog, the move could prove to be more than a PR blunder:

Even if Amazon had reserved such a right under its contract, I think that would have been something that many readers would have found quite troubling, especially given that the reservation of this right would have been unexpected, contrary to the way things are done with traditional books, and put somewhere inside an agreement that no-one reads. The contractual term might have been enforceable, but still understandably upsetting to readers. But as best I can tell, no such right was reserved; in fact, the deletion was a breach of its contract, and quite possibly a trespass on readers’ Kindles.

Amazon has since said it will not do this again in the future.  Spokesman Drew Herdener stated in an email:  “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances.”  Importantly, the statement ends in an interesting phrase:  ”in these circumstances.”  Not never.  They can’t say never.

Apparently, some have responded with more fervor with reports of a class action lawsuit being pursued (or at least a threat of one).

My own view is this is hardly worthy of lawsuit settlements as Amazon is taking steps to repair the $5.99 purchases made of illegally copied material.  

But the bigger issue it raises is a worthy debate for companies to consider and people to ponder.  How do we enable the convenience and utility the online world affords us, while also protecting content?  How does a company handle a dilemma like this in the future?  What impact will it have on receptivity to, and use of, products like Kindle that house online content?

I’m intrigued by commentary from Jonathan Zittrain, author of “The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It”, about this situation almost a week before Bezos’ apology.  Zittrain writes in his blog:

Another fascinating aspect of the Cloud: everything is rented rather than owned, and can be taken away with only a refund to show for it.  I worry about this phenomenon in my book — I just didn’t have any good examples at the time of writing. My concern isn’t just about publishers having second thoughts about their material.  It’s the tool handed to regulators: someone could allege defamation for a passage in a book and a court, aside from awarding damages, could order Amazon to excise the offending passage retroactively.  Same for politically sensitive speech.

I suppose I don’t gravitate too far to the conspiracy theory and Big Brother mapped by Orwell in the very book deleted by Amazon in this situation.  But, like both of these Amazon customers, I think this case study will point to new ways to consider how the individual is kept at the center of the issue when companies face such decisions in the future:picture-42picture-5

What do you think?

Cool Find: Mutual of Omaha Aha Moments

To me, Mutual of Omaha still makes me think of those Sunday evening programs out in the wilds of Africa.  I don’t remember if that’s where it really took place, but that’s what childhood memories that persist tell me.

They’re a lot more than that, apparently!

Tonight, my colleague, Jim Wilkerson (@jim_wilkerson) forwarded a site for a current initiative by Mutual of Omaha all centered on the “Aha Moments” of life.  aha-momentWe were interested given a client in the long-term care space… and it aligns with some concepts we’ve been brainstorming for our client.

Turns out for the celebration of a “century of service”, the heritage brand has created this “aha moment” community online and are traveling across the country capturing real experiences from Americans of all walks of life.  You sign up via the website, they schedule you for when they’ll be in town with the bus, then you come down and they take a professional quality film of your story. 

They have over 15 pages of stories (20 per page) that are 1 to 2 minutes in length and cover every aspect of aha moments in life you can think of… literally.

I love the definition and explanation:

“What is an aha moment? It’s a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom – wisdom you can use to change your life. Whether big or small, funny or sad, they can be surprising and inspiring. Each one is unique, deeply personal, and we think, worth sharing.

Mutual of Omaha celebrates and honors these moments and the people who act upon them. We’re proud to have the products and services that can help people insure their possibilities.”

The experience at www.ahamoment.com is very people centric.  The individual stories can be searched by category (health, financial, career, education, spirituality, etc.) or by any keyword you’d like to use.  And the stories are real — they are fun, interesting, and examples of clarity in life, if not but for just a moment.

Mutual of Omaha is spreading these stories and making it easy for people to get high quality online video sharing a powerful moment from their lives (I’m sure there’s a lot of sharing with family and friends, etc., a little bit of celebrity-like exposure).  Key question, beyond story sharing… what further value/utility are they creating that brings your back to the security and help Mutual of Omaha can deliver when you realize in life that you need a plan B (insurance)?

Very interesting.  Nicely done.

24

06 2009

Technology Makes for Most Productive Swim Meet of Season!

swimOk, so if you have kids and have ever been a part of a community swim team for the summer you know the excitement of swim meets.  Actually, they are very exciting, especially with our four kids all competing plus our good friends and four of their kids going at it, too.  Eight different competitors changing the history of swimming in Lakeway, TX, every Saturday morning for 3-4 hours.  

The organized chaos of these meets is a work of genius from the community swimming founders, whomever they are. A couple hundred kids, parents, and siblings moving like clockwork in and out of 80+ events in a three-hour period.  It’s just cool.  Although the first time we came to this last year I must admit I was a bit freaked out… its kind of cultish in a way.  I digress.

Point of this quick little post is I don’t know why I photodidn’t discover the Wi-Fi connection at our pool a long time ago.  You see, swim meets are fun to see your kids progress and compete… but after the 30-45 seconds of seeing them in their heat for an event, you’ve got 32 heats to wait until your next 34-second glimpse of your next kid!  Lots of downtime…

But now, enter a decent Wi-Fi connection, my laptop and iPhone, and I’m set.  Oops… gotta go watch my 5-yr-old try to swim 25 yards and make it to the end of the pool.

He did it!  

Ok, so sitting here from this vantage point I can see the pool, finish line, give high-fives to the kids as they head to the starting line, and hop up to cheer on during the exciting spurts of swimming energy.

swim-meet-blogThat’s cool!  

Beyond that, it points to the type of solutions that marketers/businesses/brands need to offer the people with whom they seek to connect. Understanding how people live their lives and what is important to them… and then match that to the various settings in which we live our lives… well, that insight can lead to solutions that solve problems or enhance experiences for people.

That’s a people centric approach. That is the thinking innovative marketers today use to genuinely connect with their audiences.

Oh, and by the way, my 5-year-old actually swam half-way down the pool before taking a break and then finishing the race.  And my 12-year-old just took 6 seconds off her 100-meter individual medley race.

Time to go watch my oldest show her stuff.  But now, during the 23-minute breaks of nothing to watch I’ll catch up online!  

And… I’ll get back to playing with the family… just thought it’d be cool to quickly post these thoughts!

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06 2009