Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dispatch from the Conference: Social Responsibility

Disclaimer: Loud Punk music playing so not sure if this will make sense - I can multi-task but there's a difference between music and noise.

It's a common theme it seems - this idea of companies needing to be aligned with social responsibility. In the same presentation, by a Baby Boomer, of course, there was a reference to the Gap. Sales have declined because the clothes are too "homogeneous". The same presenter made a reference to Bono as the poster child of this century for social responsibility. Bono - who became an icon well before the Millenial Generation was even born. But the dots weren't connected. We are all well aware that Gap was on board - heavily - with the Red Campaign, so why are they still in decline - shouldn't that be enough reason to shop there?

This notion was flipped by the Millenial generation speaker - Gideon yago of MTV (a "recovering VeeJay"). According to him, their youth/MTV audience doesn't accept celebs as the poster children for causes and they don't want to be told "what they should do". Instead, they want to see themselves - people like them, and what their are doing to contribute to society. They view participation as empowerment - their ability to have an effect. They see Bill Gates as a method for change rather than George Bush.

So sure, there is a big trend in social responsibility, but why is it so hard for us to get corporations on board? At he end of the day it's still about sales, right? Campbells soup saw the uptick last October. But where are the rest of the companies and why aren't they beating down our doors?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Youth Marketing Conference

Well, it looked realy cool - had a good logo, nice vibe, but very expensive. The conference is not quite living up to its promise - same old paper-thing bag - limited refreshments, and, maybe to seem cool, sour patch kids as a snack. Or is that just to be ironic? Some good people and I ALWAYS learn something but this year everyone seems to be talking about the same things. Except here, social networks have been shortened to "socnets" and Google doesn't get mentioned in any presentations. At the end of the day, it circles back to user generated content, ultra customization, and actually, social responsibility.

The good news in all of this is that marketers are realizing that causes can really help support a brand - that young people will value cause associations and it will effect choice. I saw the pink Campbell's soup label up on screen, heard (again) about Relay for Life in SL, and the Boy Scouts of America presented research. This "millenial generation", which seems to be the phrase winning out here, is very brand conscious and they are willing to pay more for what they want.

As a parent I want to croak.

As a nonprofit employee, I see enormous opportunity with this segment. More or less untapped. As long as we make it fun and add a customizable experience. In fact, that dovetails nicely into the basis for the Skoll Foundation for instance. This idea of "social entrepreneurs". Kids can come up with better ways of fundraising, so why don't we just let them go. Do it whatever way they know how and just bring it back when you're done. Maybe there's an Eppybird out there for us, but are we stiffling the geyser?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Marketing and Relationships

I keep coming back to what Stengel said in his address to AAAA (my previous post). Marketing is all about relationships - particularly for charities. Why do I give to one and not the other? Invariably it's my personal connection.

David Weinberger, the author of the Cluetrain Manifesto (among many other things)is going to further confirm the importance of "relationships" in his keynote at the next Womma conference, where he will:
"unravel the ways in which the Internet and Web 2.0 technology are changing the way companies market themselves. Hint: It's all about relationships".

Ah - what a concept. Not selling, selling, selling but saying "let's hang out together". At MOD we are trying to figure this out: how do you establish and manage millions of relationships that will last a lifetime? How do you attract people at every demographic and psychographic stage? And then how do we turn them into customer evangelists - which is the only way to make this possible?

Monday, March 05, 2007

P&G marketer tells the agencies what's up

I love this keynote address by Jim Stengel of P&G. It's all about customer relationships, which I think is the key to .Org 2.0. We're all behind the CRM eightball and still talking at people instead of with them. It's a big shift for the sector, but once we can enable constiuents to join the conversation - what a conversation we will have.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ning.com and the future of micro-networks

Cnet came out with this story about ning taking on myspace. A lofty goal but I wouldn't bet against Marc Andreessen. We found this mentality especially true when we built Share Your Story. Instead of using the blogoshpere as it existed, we created our own community around the subject matter - with blogs, boards, IM, etc. Keeping it focused on the subject, and allowing the various communication paltforms to emerge around personal tastes within that subject served us well - better than if we had formed a "group" in a more global space.

However, in terms of myspace, although I have no love for the site itself, the benefit to an existence there is the power of the extended network - that goes beyond one subject area. For general interest in the March of Dimes, for instance, why limit the exposure? We have looked at Ning for an upcoming project and found it on the opposite extreme from myspace - a little rigid, a little "out of the box". And we'd have to drive the volume ourselves.

So we'll see what becomes of "the next myspace", which I'm sure is in VC pitches all over the world...