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Showing posts from November, 2012

Internal Communications: You Get What You Pay For

A colleague of mine once said that Internal Communications is the "neglected stepchild" of the communications profession and over the years it is easy to figure out why.

There is absolutely no glory in it.

Internal Communications isn't glitzy. It's not about press, or social media, or trade shows. You don't get interviewed on TV. It's not multimedia.

It's about talking to your people. Sort of like - here we go - keeping the family together!

And we know how much fun Thanksgiving Dinner is when you've got all those old dynamics swirling around.

I did not even know there was such a thing as Internal Communications until I came to work for The Brand Consultancy, where they did something called "Internal Branding."

Basically, this was training the employees to operate in accordance with the mission/vision/values espoused by the brand.

Early on I realized that training did not work. Because people are not morons (largely), they are thinking adults and th…

Solve The Problem: Symptom vs. Cause

The other day someone told me that they didn't care much about the outcome of the election because "nothing changes anyway." The only thing that bothered them though was the "policy of killing babies."

OK, the abortion debate. I wasn't going to ruin a good conversation by responding the way I wanted to: "You must be out of your mind."

Because factually speaking an abortion is not killing a baby but rather preventing a fetus from becoming one.

Also when one considers that globally women are far from free to control their reproductive lives (let's work on child slavery/"marriage" shall we?), and the poor life prospects of unwanted children, it seems sort of farcical to insist in fetal rights vs. all other human considerations.

I agree that abortion is a problem. But if you want to solve it look to the causes (rape, incest, peer pressure, poverty, absent parent, etc.), rather than focusing exclusively on the symptom (unwanted pregnancy).

At…

Women and Men Do Shop Differently: 5 Observations

The other day my daughter said to me, "Feminism is just fine, but men and women are not the same." She is an aspiring neuropsychologist and given any social situation, where I see the group dynamics she sees a brain chemical. 
From a sociological perspective there are a lot of reasons why gender differences exist and a lot of uses to which groups put them. From a marketing (or outreach) perspective what matters are the patterns. Here are a few that I see:
1) Expressed vs. Implied: Marketing to men has to be tangible - auditory, visual, kinetic (hear it, see it, move it) versus to women merely a suggestion is enough and even preferable. Another way of putting this is that women are engaged with the story around a product while men are engaged with the idea that the product itself approaches perfection.
2) Status: Men buy things to compete with other men and they think of it as "acquiring," so there is a certain level of permanency. Women will buy virtually anything if …

Listerine and the Business of Shame

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Image via Kilmer House, a blog dedicated to the story of Johnson & Johnson and its employees. Frederick Barnett Kilmer, for whom the blog is named, was J&J's first scientific director. The blog is written by J&J corporate communications. This is a great example of corporate branding best practice.

Marketing, as an industry, trades on shame. Subsistence happens on one level, admittedly not cheap but not nearly as expensive as the stuff you are routinely offered to buy. Or the stuff you don't need, but that marketers invent, convincing you along the way that you must have it ("creating a market.")

It is a paradox that shame is universal, and yet we universally seem to have trouble talking about it. Maybe that's because of the nature of shame. It's designed to keep people in line - nothing more and nothing less.

Shame is a spiritual theme. In the Garden of Eden, the Biblical story goes, Adam and Eve felt shame when they sinned against G-d. There was nob…

10 Rules of Marketing To Low-Context Cultures

Yesterday I wrote about reaching customers from high-context cultures, where meaning is transmitted implicitly. But what if your audience is low-context? What does that mean, anyway? Basically: High-context means they have a strong shared understanding in terms of values and the meaning behind communication. Examples include culturally homogeneous immigrant groups and also specialized work groups who speak in terms nobody else understands.Low-context means they have less shared understanding and diverse identities and need to have things articulated clearly in ways that span cultures. A prime example is the United States of America as a mass audience, as the identities of its citizens varies dramatically from place to place.When you are marketing to a low-context culture:
1) Emphasize one primary language. The global language of business is still English.
2) Put diverse-looking people in your marketing copy. It's about appealing to a broad base and showing how anyone can fit in.
3) Foc…

7 Rules of Marketing To High-Context Cultures

Over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to observe Russian, Korean, Hasidic Jewish, Muslim, and Hispanic consumers in their natural habitats (e.g. going about regular life).

Speaking very broadly, one thing all of these groups have in common is that they are high-context. Meaning, they have a broad base of shared understanding. It doesn't take a lot of communicating for them to transmit meaning to one another.

Marketing to high-context cultures can be challenging if you don't understand the culture, or if you're used to a communication environment where things are spelled out very clearly.

Here are 7 things I've observed that may prove helpful no matter what audience you're dealing with:

1) Communicate in their native language. The native language is not only a technicality of words and their meaning. Culture is imbued in it. For example, some languages can be gender-neutral and others cannot. Beliefs about gender and gender roles are imbued in language. W…

Tips on Winning (and Keeping) the Business - Mobile Apps

This question was posed on Quora: "What should agencies care about regarding mobile apps for brands - winning awards or getting downloads?" 

Here is my response:

I. Winning the business
Clients want apps that 

1) Look cool 

2) Are better than the app they saw that made them decide to get an app 

3) Are EZ to use 

4) Load fast 

5) Drive brand awareness. 

Awards = irrelevant as are # of downloads (this happens after they pay). 

II. Winning and keeping clients, general advice
1) Be easy to work with

2) Talk in simple terms not techy 

3) Provide a few tables/pie charts showing how competitors have benefited from a similar app. Nobody wants to be behind the curve.

III. Keeping the business
Show results. 

With an app, the best way to show results is to offer some useful capability for free, that also relates to the brand message. This is marketing, sales and branding all at the same time.

Apps like these get people to download and use. To build awareness of the app, integrate on sites and perhaps …

Branding As A Tool For Cultural Understanding

Today for the first time I actually read the Hamas charter, which you can find pretty easily online. It struck me that the writing was clear and logically consistent with their anti-Israel rhetoric and violence.

It struck me that most people have probably not actually read the document. If they did they would see that peace agreements are not in keeping with their brand.

A mistake we make when we think about things is to get our biases mixed up with our brains.

Personally I am Jewish, somewhat secular and embrace the Western "live and let live" worldview: "Who am I to judge?" "It's all good." All of these factors introduce bias.

At the same time I have enough cognitive independence to know that if an organization issues a brand promise and then lives up to it, they probably mean what they say.

The Western secular mind does not easily comprehend a culture so different as Hamas. But you can if you use the language of branding.

Their vision is a greater Pale…

Aligning The Big 5: Knowledge Mgmt., PR, Corp. Comm., Internal Marketing & The Visual Brand

Think of the modern economy as a funnel.
Services sits at the very top and captures nearly everyone. No matter what you actually do, you get employed and stay employed based on the quality of your relationships with others.Knowledge represents fewer people, but captures many.  If you are a technical or subject matter expert of any kind you fit into this category. Manufacturing includes still fewer and captures some. These are people who actually produce goods for the rest of us.Now think of where you sit in relationship to this funnel:
Frontline workers deal directly with the public and can fall into any of the categories above.Support personnel support the frontline and make sure they are equipped to get the job done.This article is for support personnel in the communications field. We're not doing a good enough job of taking care of the frontline - and that includes the public. Because a key challenge faced by frontline workers today (internal customers), as well as the public con…

Packaging, Packaging, Packaging: 7 Tips

Recently I did a micro-experiment in marketing for work. Basically I'm helping with a charity drive and to that end ran a small "mystery gift" event. I took dollar-store gifts, wrapped them, put a bow on them and "sold" them for a contribution of the donor's choice. The following observed behaviors taught me a great deal about the importance of packaging:

1) First brand, then color: When people did not know what was inside the box, they looked at the box itself. They picked wrapping paper with Snoopy on it versus other brightly colored papers. The black wrapping paper iwth a design was the leaset popular.

2) Shaking the package: I hadn't seen this one before but at least three people actually picked the various packages up and shook them to determine what could be inside. (Two of them were right.)

3) Irregular shape: People tended to pick up the odd, irregularly shaped packages versus the simple, symmetrical ones.

4) Relationship marketing: Sales picked up …

Celebrate Religion, Increase Productivity

This is a discussion point I wrote on the subject of whether it's OK to be religious at work (at GovLoop): My focus is communication to enhance the functioning of an organization and to that end I think it is possible and important to encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. Religion, faith, spirituality are critical aspects of diversity. When we stifle that, we disengage the workforce in a significant way. When we celebrate it in ways that don't threaten, we show that we are truly committed to intellectual diversity as well rather than the groupthink that keeps us dysfunctional at times. For example: Imagine if we celebrated wearing religious attire at work rather than the Western suit. I know Jewish people who do not wear the headcovering (kippa) because they don't want to be "marked" or discriminated against and imagine it is similar for those of other faiths. Another example: Imagine if we set aside prayer rooms so that people who pray multiple times…

The #1 Stupid Thing Organizations Do To Mess Up Their Brand - via Mark Morris, The Brand Consultancy

I asked for comments on this article in Fast Company at my group Brand Masters. My former boss Mark Morris, Founder and Senior Strategist at The Brand Consultancy, said the following. It's very well said and I appreciate that he provided me with permission to share it publicly:
"The most common thing organizations do to mess up their brands is not knowing what their brand is. It lives somewhere out there with their customers but everyone internal to the organization makes up their own version of what it stands for, what promise it makes and how that promise is kept. Great organizations bring their customers voice into every decision they make. We say "they have breakfast with their customers." A ongoing dialogue in every channel available and practical. In essence, they speak in the voice of their customer."

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 10 simple steps

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Short version.

1) Jews persecuted

2) Decide to survive by establishing homeland somewhere safer, historically Jewish

3) Buy formerly Jewish land back from Arabs/Turks

4) In the process offend Arabs

5) Arabs respond with terrorist attacks and Nazi alliance

6) New Palestinian identity created as propaganda tool

7) Arabs throw Jews out from other Arab lands or force them to run away, stealing property in the process

8) Same Arab lands deny entry to Palestinians, creating nation of suffering refugees

9) Jewish state infinitely rejected on principle

10) Mind-bending propaganda causes Jews to believe they are the oppressors rather than the victims of anti-Semitism.

_______________

The longer version - from Wikipedia.


Background[edit]Ottoman eraTensions between the Jews and Arabs started to emerge after the 1880s, when immigration of European Jews increased with the development of the Zionist movement. This immigration increased the Jewish communities in Palestine by the acquisition of land from Ottoman …