Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cable Show Wrap Up

Yours truly with Robert Verdi

Yours truly with Robert Verdi

It’s been just about 10 years since I went to my last NCTA/Cable Show. Apparently the last time I went to the show which was in Dallas, it was still in its hay day. Unfortunately, the Cable Show just didn’t feel the same to me this year, for a few reasons:

The money just isn’t being spent like it used to. The show was lacking the incredible energy it used to have. Last time I ran the trade show promotion at the Cable Show for VH1, we had an American Bandstand stage and dancers dancing in our 60′ x 90′ booth promoting the re-launch of the classic TV show. I borrowed the actual neon sign from the show from Dick Clark Productions, our booth was filled with Clients and there were lines around the corner to enter our contest. Flashbulbs were flashing and the VH1 booth (as a part of MTV Networks) was all the buzz. My counterpart at MTV was running a make-your-own-video booth, with people lined up around the corner to dance their hearts out. That type of promotion, in my eyes, has nearly become extinct at the show (If you saw something really engaging, please comment). Networks like CNBC, Logo, MTV and Outdoor Channel were definitely in promotion mode of their shows like CNBC’s Street Signs and Logo’s Robert Verdi, but the buzz wasn’t nearly as intense or exciting. In my mind, Programmers are just not spending the money they used to.

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CNBC's Street Signs

Attendance is down. My guess is, and I don’t know the official numbers, the attendance seems to be declining year after year for the show. One of the complaints I heard from a long-time attendee is that the MSOs (Multiple Systems Operators) are just not showing up en mass and with the economy the way it is, they are sending less and less people. The challenge there for my Programmer friends (the Networks), is that they are there to work with the Providers/MSOs (The Comcasts, Time Warners, and DirecTVs of the world) and some of them are sending very few people, if at all. So, if you’re a Programmer, who are you exhibiting for then? Not your competition for sure. The Cable Show was considered a schmooze fest in years past, and now it seems to be dwindling. It’s also because the model has changed. The landscape of the entire business is truly centred around Broadband, delivery and other measurement technologies. Gone are the days when you were just promoting tune-in to boost your Nielsen ratings, now, it’s not just an on-air numbers game, you now have an online numbers game. And, what are those numbers? Can you monetize your content to your subscribers, without biting the hand that feeds you (the Provider, or the Pipe as they call it)? Is there a new and better way for the networks to garner additional ad revenue and subscription fees from their audience, without losing the audience? Many models of delivery, monetization and measurement were discussed. No one seems to have the right answer yet.

Technology. So, this is really what’s taking over. It’s moving so fast. This is the big Cahuna! At the show was a section called Broadband Nation and CableNET, where the Cable Show created an entire area that was staged as a typical American neighborhood, with facades of homes and a school. In that section, a lot of types of delivery, measurement, hardware, software and general entertainment companies from all over the world displayed their best of the best…from Dolby Labs, to Motorola, to Opentv, to NDS to Samsung. It was a great educational experience, and I would imagine will have more of a presence as years go on.

Dolby Labs 3D broadcast of a U2 Concert

Dolby Labs 3D broadcast of a U2 Concert

Consumer Technology Shout Out: So, I’ll tell you what consumer technology blew me away…The Dolby Labs 3D technology. You walked in to this theater-type space and they handed you a pair of 3D glasses. Well, I’ve had 3D glasses…like from Burger King promotions and such. I’ve felt over the years, that the home experience could just not compare to the 3D theater or Imax experience. Well, I was dead wrong. This was a totally amazing home theater experience! Dolby was broadcasting a U2 concert (I’m a fan, yes) and it was just mind blowing. As I tweeted real time on Twitter that day, “I could have stayed at the Dolby theater all day!” I could not peel myself out of that booth. Honestly, that was the most fun I had had at the show this year. So, thank you!

Social Media is very much in its embryonic stage in most of the Cable industry. Which actually, I was a little surprised at. From a B2B perspective, a colleague and myself were in a panel about 360 Degree marketing. Ann Cowan from CTAM was moderating the panel. When the panelists were asked if they were using Social Networks or Media, you could hear a pin drop…except from the folks at A&E. Mark Garner spoke to their program around the show Hammertime, with MC Hammer. Hallmark spoke to how they were dipping their toe, and TV Guide wasn’t using Social Media at all. Then Ann asked if anyone in the audience was tweeting….and out of close to 2o0 people, only 2 hands went up. Mine and my colleauge’s. It actually was incredibly surprising to me. This room was filled with Marketers listening to Marketers. It was just a testament to me how the space is still very much new and uncharted, but is ripe with opportunity!

Lastly…a Thank You. Thank you to the Walter Kaitz Foundation for creating an opportunity for small and women-owned businesses to attend the conference! It is very much appreciated (I also thanked @CableShow on Twitter as well, and was retweeted!). I really look forward to the next Cable Show in Los Angeles in 2010. I wonder what another year will bring?

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Tactics, Tactics…Strategy

Too Much Sex, Too Little Jesus
Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

The caveat about reading this entry and my blog, is that you’ll instantly see that I’m direct and honest. It’s because I’m passionate about what I do and because I care.

So, as a Social Media & Marketing consultant, it’s my job to understand my client’s business. As a 15+ year brand marketer, when I work on an assignment, I need to know what they want to accomplish and how it fits in with their overall business objectives. It’s just how I think and do business. I want to know the whole Megillah because I provide better value that way.

Having been on the client side for most of my career, I feel comfortable in being able to write this article from the context of a Client’s POV. When a client hires a consultant, a lot of the time, they  have a very specific initiative in mind. Ok, so I can take that and run with it, no problem. They know what they want to achieve and I’m the catalyst to get them there. Again, no problem.

However, when clients want to join the “Conversation”, or do any kind of marketing for that matter, I sometimes see a knee-jerk reaction to Just Do It. And, as a consultant, who knows to ask the right questions, sometimes the client just wants to enter the space because they can’t stand reading about it, or hearing about it at the water cooler or hearing about it from their boss (or from their kid for that matter). They come to me and say Savvy, I just want to be there. Make it happen.

Ok. You say you want to enter the space. You say you want to be on MySpace or LinkedIn, or Facebook and have a blog and go on Twitter. Or, you want to do this promotion, or a campaign, or a stunt. Ok. And so I ask…Why? What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to reach? What do you want to say? Do you know what people are saying about your brand?

Oh.

In any area of social media, or even marketing for that matter, looking at the particular project and how it maps back to your overall business objectives is the first thing to look at. As the consultant, I’m always going to want to ask my clients these questions. It’s my job to do that. It’s my job to tell you solutions that will work for you and your business.

The title of this entry was inspired by game Duck, Duck…Goose. Why? Because, and we’ve all been guilty of it, we get stuck in the tactical side of marketing. The cobbler’s children have no shoes…right? So, sometimes it’s difficult for us to take a look at our own business and we think very tactically. It’s Ok, you’re not alone. Whether you use a consultant or an advisor, make sure someone (besides your boss) holds you accountable for what you want to achieve with your marketing. Savvy has to do it too! So, my advice…when you have a great tactical idea, make sure you stop and ask yourself, “How will this initiative support my marketing objectives? What results do I want to achieve that will justify this spend?” You’ll be a better marketer for it. And a better client.

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Building Revenue Through Connection and Collaboration

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...
Image by luc legay via Flickr

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called Business Development in Today’s Economy about the 4 Cs. Connection, Collaboration, Clients and Criteria.

For this article I’m revisiting Connection and Collaboration, because they are so closely intertwined.

Connection, as discussed earlier, is about reaching out not only to clients, but to partners, colleagues, co-workers and industry experts as well. Connection applies to growing your network in a number of ways, to build out a rounded experience. From every conversation I have, I learn something new. It never fails. I also make sure to offer something up as well — to be generous. Connection is about how you are talking to potential clients. Where are you connecting with them? Is it a trade show? A networking event? A webinar? On LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter?

I have an incredible example about Connection taking place online. I was watching a panel being streamed live from the Digital Hollywood Media Summit (video streaming produced by Naked Media.org) and was chatting with people in the digital space from a variety of backgrounds. We were all commenting from the peanut gallery, and then questions were being posed at the same time to the panel. Then after the panel, they grabbed what we  online decided was the star of the panel, Artie Bulgrin, head of ESPN Research, for an online only interview. We then got to pose questions for him to answer. It was a totally wild and unique experience! I not only learned from the people I was chatting with, got to interact with the panel, but I also shared with a journalist from Business Week and other digital researchers and strategists from all over the U.S. We’re now following each other on Twitter. See how quickly you can create community?

On Collaboration…well, what could be the possibility of the relationships that were created in the chat? Could we collaborate on research projects, start our own community based on a POV from the chat or build business together? You should think about businesses you could reach out to in your industry, or in complementary industries that could be useful. Think about what’s missing from your business, or a blind spot for you. What do you need to know about? The point is, you should never stop reaching out. Make sure you bring something valuable to the table. Always. But more importantly, Listen.

These days, with the economy as it is, we can’t go it alone. I’m a strong believer in that. I’m connecting and collaborating more than I have ever done in my life. I’m a part of an agency “consortium” where I’m the Digital & Social Media Expert. I’m in another group where I’m the Mass Media Expert. I’m in another group as the Women-owned Small Business representative. The opportunities are endless. And, the beauty of this is that these collaborations can take place online and offline too. If you connect with someone online, take it off-line and vice versa. Book in a call or meet up for a coffee. We all benefit from the human touch and from working together.

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Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Ideas Worth Spreading
Image by Rico-san via Flickr

I was recently introduced by a friend and former colleague to Ted Talks. I had always known about the conference, but not that they were hosting all of the talks via video on their site. I was amazed and so excited by it. So, I went and took a look.

After completing my profile (I was intrigued because they asked interesting things of me, not just my email address and Opt-in) that I willingly signed up. I then performed a search based on specific criteria, and I was amazed to find Sean McCullough of ping.fm, and Kay Koplovitz — media mogul turned VC listed on the site. I thought to myself, wow, you’re in good company!

Cut to I listened to the guru of all viral media (and a rather intuitive Marketer), Seth Godin. Ok, I know, you’ve read all of his books. You subscribe to his blog. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But in the 20 minutes that he had to speak, he hammered home one of the MOST important differences in Marketing. It’s that we HAVE TO STOP INTERRUPTING OUR AUDIENCE. I was yelling. Did you hear me? Go and view it for yourself. View video now.

The A #1 Rule. Find the Influencers. They’re out there. We can find them. Let them tell your story…through podcasts, through blogs, through Facebook pages, through LinkedIn Expert requests. Give them something valuable and compelling to promote. Have your audience put widgets on their sites and then push content to them. Heck, start at the top and make those people your ambassadors. Don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s like that shampoo commercial that Joe Namath did back in the 70s “And she told 2 friends, and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on.” I’m not telling a lot of you Marketers something you don’t already know — or haven’t been doing. A lot of B2B and B2C Marketers have been doing this for a long time now. I’m just reiterating the importance.

That’s why I love Social Media as a part of the overall Digital Marketing strategy for a brand. Big or small — Social Media is a new avenue that we never had before where we can really talk to our customer on this deep a level. I’ve heard it quoted and I wish I could attribute it that Social Media is “The World’s Biggest Focus Group”. Why I get so excited about it is that it allows us to have conversations and really get in touch with people that are passionate about your brand. In traditional marketing (and I’m very much a fan of some of traditional marketing practices still), you are pushing, pushing, pushing. If the a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? Nobody knows. (That’s a whole other debate.)

But in the Social Media world, and this is where it can get sticky for larger brands…your fans will let you know exactly how they feel about you. And boy will they. But what separates the wheat from the chaff are the brands that are willing to take a dive, and be strategic of course, do a little listening, and enter the space. Have those conversations. Value your consumers. Think of Social Media as another tactic in your marketing arsenal. And don’t forget to budget for it. I’m a marketer that has worked in TV, Radio, Print, and now online. As I was telling one of my clients, On-line is becoming splintered or segmented — just like what Cable did to Broadcast. Embrace it! Amazing!

Comments are accepted and welcome!

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Ladies, patronize your local lingerie store

Old school bra ad

Old school bra ad

Today I went and visited a women’s lingerie store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This store has been in business for multiple generations. It’s beautifully merchandised and managed by some lovely older ladies. The quality is incredible and it’s a classy operation.

What dawned on me when I walked in the store, is that the only time that I’ve been in a local lingerie store was when I had my first “fitting” — oh, like 25 years ago. I forgot how the art of buying lingerie (yes, even your every day panties) has been lost on mass merchandised stores like Victoria’s Secret and select-it-yourself department stores. Rarely do you find someone who will provide you with service — and frankly, they don’t care “if your boobs hang low”.

What I think the problem may be is that the way the store is merchandised may be too intimidating. There’s a lot in cases, and not much to touch and feel. I don’t know about you, but I like to touch everything! I still think this is a personal business. It may make it a bit weird to ask someone “can I see the panties that are a little risque” or, “the ones that remind me of my Grandma“.

But stay true, stay strong. Having the right undergarments actually makes a difference in how your clothes fit you. I’ve had several “fittings”, and now I’m converted.

So, calling all ladies in their 20s and 30s — go to your local lingerie store, get a “fitting” and have an expert select your dainties. Be prepared to pay more, but you’ll receive better, quality goods and professional service.

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Who says you’re not creative?

I’ve been in the business world for the past 16 years – but I graduated from college 1 year younger than my classmates, so you do the math. My POV is that by your mid-30s we are all segmented into professions, with titles, that are supposed to mean something. We are evaluated on what that means, and what we get paid, and how that translates to our bank account…you get the picture.

So what I think happens to a lot of people, is that they “become” their assigned professional role. They become their company. They start to embody their professional life and it becomes their identity. My POV is that with few exceptions, and I’ll point to them later in another entry, you become your job.

What I have also seen, is that a lot of people become their societal roles — Mother and Father specifically amongst the 30+ gen (and by the way, I think those are the BEST roles in the world and look forward to when I have that role). What I see is that we lose our sense of self. We “become” what society tells us to become — our work and our role.

What we lose sight of is our dreams. We lose sight of how we want to continuously evolve — and that we have the choice to evolve. We achieve specific life goals, but we forget about what we dreamed of becoming as a child, a teenager, a college student — what we specifically aspired to in life.

However, with that said, I think that the creation of online communities, such as WordPress and Facebook, have allowed “my generation”, if you will, to pick up pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas and start to dream again.

I was first adverse to Facebook — I was like, “who has the time for this?”. I’m busy working. I am doing something important. The online medium is just another escape. It decreases our ability to communicate with humans. It is a barrier to open communication and it shuts us off. (I have a whole POV on texting and Gen Y regarding this, but for now I’ll remain silent)

But I think that the 35+ generation have really leveraged this medium beautifully. They are usually, and I say usually, expressive and are open to sharing themselves, and usually doing it with decorum and taste. There’s still a bit of mystery and getting to know you. They talk about their lives, their dreams, their fears, their hopes, their successes and their failures. It is refreshing to me and inspiring. It causes me to become creative.

Whether someone reads it or not. Reacts or not. Validates or not. We can be expressive with ourselves. We can also create.

I could get more spiritual, on how we have the ability to make choices and create our lives. I’ll talk more on that later. I also want to explore “choices” as it relates to the state of our economic environment…

But for now I’ll have you ponder on how you want to create, express yourself and dream. What are you dreaming of next?