Q: What white water do you see ahead for you and your team? And how will you navigate through it?
A: I was watching Deadliest Catch last night, yes I like that show, and one of the captains was encountering 20-30 foot waves due to a massive storm. He said the only way to get through rough waters is to push the engine as hard as it can go (full throttle) into the wave, otherwise the wave controls you. Whether it is communications or any other profession, you have to be prepared for the rough waters ahead of you; and when those rough times come you have to be ready to give it your all. The best way to do that in my mind is to watch communication, business, and technology trends. In the nautical world looking for trends is keeping your eyes and ears open to changing conditions. Things like reading maps, learning about tides, wind speed, and listening to weather reports are just some of the ways you can prepare yourself for changing conditions. If you aren’t looking and listening to the trends around you, your vessel may not be able to weather the storm. I’d also say whenever possible make sure you have a clear strategy for where you are looking to go and have a good team on board with you. If your craft leaves port without a plan for where you are headed there is a very good chance you and your crewmates will be lost at sea.
“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work. Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with every new thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable. To teach that a comparatively few men are responsible for the greatest forward steps of mankind is the worst sort of nonsense.” — Henry Ford
“The act of creation is surrounded by a fog of myths. Myths that creativity comes via inspiration. That original creations break the mold. That they’re the products of geniuses. And appear as quickly as electricity can heat a filament. But creativity isn’t magic. It happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials. And the soil from which we grow our creations is something we scorn and misunderstand even though it gives us so much. And that’s copying. Put simply copying is how we learn. We can’t introduce anything new until we’re fluent in the language of our domain and we do that through emulation. For instance all artists spend their formative producing derivative work.”
I’m not a huge fan of the quality of McDonald’s food but sometimes the golden arches have a tractor beam that pulls me in with a force that is very difficult to resist. Part of why I think I think I still like McDonald’s is because of my memories as a child. Back then I wouldn’t have ever stepped foot into a Burger King, Jack in the Box, or Wendy’s if it had been up to me. I now prefer burgers from Fudruckers or Five Guys but noticed about a year ago Tyler started recognizing company brands wherever we went. I’m obviously loyal to Safeway and shop there frequently so Tyler learned to recognize Safeway and its trucks on the roads quickly. I have always loved Starbucks since I was introduced to coffee in college and Tyler knows that brand because I frequent their establishment and his mom and I have exchanged custody in their parking lot quite a bit.
What is interesting to me now raising a child is what companies are, and are not doing with regard to marketing to children. I have taken particular interest in McDonald’s marketing strategy because they are masters of catering to youth and thus older demographics. I’m a big fan of ice cream so on a nice hot day a McDonald’s shake is awesome. Not to mention the Shamrock Shakes around St. Patrick’s Day, but I digress. How is your company’s marketing to younger demographics? McDonald’s is a master of marketing to children, their happy meals and “Play Places” are brilliant. Whether you are a retailer, technology company, church, or politician you can’t forget about youth if you want to compete and stay relevant long term.
A few ways you can market to children
Seating area for children
Play area for children
Carts for children to push around your store, or ride in
Those gumball machines at the “choke points” in every store, the entrance/exit
Free cookies or goodies. Give away a cookie but mom and dad have to go into the department to get it which usually leads to them looking for other goodies for themselves which aren’t free. It is the drug dealer tactic, I’ll give you this one for free and I know you will want more
DVDs that come with toys which has taught Tyler all about “Imaginex”
Candy and toys in the checkstands
Don’t forget about your employees either. Daycare at your facility while mom or dad are working is one of the best ways to retain talent. Lunch with the kid(s) increases work/life balance, even if it is just for an hour.
What are some other strategies you’ve seen? Any other ideas or thoughts?
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I commented on a LinkedIn discussion board comment/question today and wanted to share it.
The alpha version of qwiki (search engine that builds interactive videos on the fly) is pretty exciting. What do you think a corporate version could do to juice up employee or investor communications?
Engaging content is definitely the future. You want to know the interesting thing in my mind though? Everyone says content is king and I agree. Corporations can have great tools, but only if they have great content. If you are interested try and remind me to talk with you in about a month. I’ll need to get clearance to show it to you but we are working on a knowledge sharing tool within the company and it has some really interesting social gaming aspects to it.
My hope is in the coming years we can use these types of tools as a basis for merit increases and performance reviews. That type of thinking is counter culture to many organizations but social tools can help break down information silos and encourage collaboration like never before. They “can” also show you who your team players are in the organization meaning those who are helping others and not just themselves. If we reward and recognize via virtual currency and in the future provide monetary incentives, it will be very interesting to see what happens as a result. Whether you have a LinkedIn discussion board, a blog, or a survey people are busy and often hesitant to share.
Want to see a dramatic increase in our discussion board usage? Send out a message to membership telling them if they post at least one comment or post on the discussion board they will get 25% (50%, 75%, 100%…whatever) off their next conference fee. My point is some people will share but many will do so only when rewarded or recognized.
The other interesting thing I like about Qwiki is they are using it as a platform. I was fascinated by what they are looking at as a future alarm clock (see video link below). I’d imagine it won’t be too many more years before our bathroom mirrors are huge rear projection touch sensitive screens which let us see news, weather, or any other gadget/widget we want to subscribe to. Same thing with the business world. I’d imagine it won’t be long before E-ink type screens will allow us to have constantly updated information presented to us to interact with throughout the day. But we can only have these tools if we have the content which means employees will need to write and contribute that content.