Posts Tagged ‘Online and offline’

How memorable are you?

July 17, 2009

A local gym in my neighborhood produces some of the most memorable and wittiest offline messaging I have ever seen. We get so carried away with the latest and greatest online tools like Twitter, that we forget about holistic marketing and forget to use offline channels in addition to the new media channels. If you are a brick-and-mortar business, you especially need to blend the two.

compensateOne of the guys who works in this neighborhood gym puts out a funny new slogan on a chalkboard right outside, every single day. Each and every day, it’s different and funny and almost always a bit edgy. Please see the picture to the left for this morning’s slogan. The guy who writes the messages saw me taking this picture and ran outside to introduce himself. We chatted briefly, and he asked me if I have a blog, and I told him that I was going to tweet and write about his messaging, because I thought it was very catchy. This type of messaging would translate very well into a medium like Twitter, because it’s short, pithy, funny and a conversation starter. I certainly hope that I can help him at least set up his social media presence.

The moral of the story is: be memorable and be everywhere. It sounds really simple, but most fail in executing on at least one of these points. Being memorable should be defined by your target demographic and the touchpoints at which they interact with your message. In this example, busy customers rushing to the train will likely not remember anything longer than the message from this picture. This chalkboard message successfully cut through the clutter, which is not an easy feat: these days we have as much clutter online as we do offline. Moreover, the catchy, witty messaging is just right for the young male demographic that they are targeting. As far as being everywhere: remember to be online and off. The temptation is to go chasing the latest tools, but communication with your customers is not about the tools, it’s about the message. Engage them where they are, in a way that they will remember.

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small is the new black

April 20, 2009

Seeing the STREB show a couple of weekends ago, and discussing it several times with my friend Josephine, has got me thinking about the changing business models, and the reason they are changing. Let me explain.. What I forgot to mention in my previous post is that STREB is using an innovative platform of “10 second dance”. In exchange for a $10 donation, you get to co-produce a 10-minute dance, which will be presented at the next show. This does 4 things well, in my opinion:

  1. Creates a stronger community around STREB, giving all co-producers more “skin in the game”, and allowing them to be your ambassadors and telling all of their friends about it
  2. Allows everyone to participate by making the threshold so low ($10), illustrating the power of the “power in numbers” concept.
  3. Appeals to human vanity (oh c’mon, we all have it 🙂 – in my opinion, you need to be somewhat vain to want to put your life out there with social media like we all do, and imagine that others may and will care about it.
  4. Duh! raises money!

Seems that more and more things are getting processed in bite-sized pieces. There is microlending (Kiva.org, Prosper.com, Donorschoose.com) and of course, microblogging (Twitter and other platforms). Seems that small is the new black. Even the Web2.0 conference this year was themed “The Power of Less.”

I think this reach for “less” is happening due to a confluence of several events, caused by the evolution of our society.

Firstly, and more gradually, our society (online and offline) has gotten inundated. Offline store shelves are packed with brands and brand extensions, with each brand extension in several flavors, colors, smells, textures, etc. Most innovations that corporate America parades around, are actually not that innovative, but rather are updates to the same-ole-same-ole.

There is a lot of noise. Consumers are lost and overwhelmed, and manufacturers feel like they are drowning among noise.

Online, a similar thing is happening: with the “Web2.0” bubble, there are more websites than eyeballs (seems like, but please don’t quote me, I don’t have the actual statistics), and more and more are created each day. Unfortunately, most fail to differentiate themselves. A successful solution that can cut through this noise will have to successfully build around the user, wherever the user is (mobile + twitter + web), and not make the user go to its website (this is an entirely different topic that merits another post, so I will stop here).

Secondly, in addition to this overwhelming quality of online and offline “stuff”, the global economy crash is causing us all to rethink how we spend, how we save, what we value and how to course-correct the mistakes we have made so far. I think this process is a vital one, as it will separate the companies, processes and people who add value (education, where addition of skills downright changes lives) from those that don’t (repackaged toxic assets, where no value is created). Again, this is fodder for its own blogpost.

So because of this economy of “more”, followed by a downright economy crash, we seem to be embracing the concept of “less” and basking in simplicity and authenticity. Who knows, perhaps it’s this yearning for simplicity is what is propelling Susan Boyle to such astronomical heights of popularity.

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Online vs. Offline

November 11, 2008

As I have been pondering the evolution of technologies from “web 1.0” to “web 2.0”, one thing struck me. At first, the web served to provide a one-way communication from the computer screen to the user. In this day and age, with all the social networks and tools, the web is increasingly bringing people together, and sometimes even offline. Meetup is a great example of such.

At Meetup, each person can become a “community organizer” and create a group that meets offline, around any topic or interest. Of course, online conversations can also start among group members, enhancing the offline events. Personally, I organize the Real Estate 2.0 Meetup, where I bring together tech-savvy (or interested in tech) real estate investors and professionals, for the purpose of meeting and discussing how technology can help us in the world of real estate investing.

Twitter also has a huge offline component to it. As you start to follow more people on  Twitter, you will learn of “tweetups”, regular meetings of like-minded twitterers, around a particular topic, or just over some coffee / beers. There are even “bots” that are created to track and retweet when someone mentions that they are going to a particular restaurant / establishment. Anyone who subscribes to this bot, gets the relevant updates. A good example of that is the Shake Shack FlashMob bot, which was created by a fellow twitterer to help NYC twitterers monitor the size of the line via other twitterers’ observations (Shake Shack is very popular among NYC Entrepreneur community and lines tend to get crazy). Or if a twitterer wants to get a group together, he /she announces it, the bot picks it up, retweets it, and the bot’s subscribers all get the note. Voila! Lunch date is set!

One of my favorite uses of twitter has been communicating with from within a conference with other conference attendees. Someone (typically the conference organizer, but can be any popular twitterer headed there), announces a hashtag, which serves as a code to that conference. While at the conference, twitterers retweet salient points made by speakers / panelists, as well as share their thoughts on anything from the subject matter, to the conference food. If they add the hashtag to the end (#hashtag), then other conference-goers can see the tweets, respond to them, and a rich conversation is born. This also benefits those twitterers who couldn’t attend for one reason or another, but want to follow along in real time. Several times my in-conference tweets prompted responses from other conference-goers, a conversation started and then we recognized each other in the crowd based on our avatars. A new relationship was born.

Since I started using Twitter and meeting people in cyberspace via Twitter, many of these “Twitter Friends” became real-life contacts and even friends. We were brought together by a topic / a hashtag / a common Twitter Friend, started an online conversation and finished it offline, in person. I find this extremely fascinating! Bottom line: as web tools get more social, we will keep organizing ourselves around a common idea online, while driving ourselves to enhance these relationships offline. No matter how much twittering, emailing, facebooking we do, we still yearn for face-to-face contact.

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