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Archive for the ‘Functional Creativity’ category

Marketing Innovation – Part II

December 21st, 2009

At my course at UC Berkeley on Innovation, Creativity & the Entrepreneur we had an eye-opening class on “Marketing Innovation” -  how the marketing profession/role has dramatically changed in the past 10-15 years, the impact of various technologies on Marketing globally, and current innovations in marketing, ranging from research, to advertising, to promotion, price, product and channel/place (the “Marketing Mix” as taught at the Haas School).

I challenged our 46 students to each go out on the ‘Net and find the best examples that they could on “Marketing Innovations” – both technology-driven and “old media with a new twist”.  Results were FANTASTIC as we collectively found over 90 examples of all forms of creativity and innovation in today’s marketing.

Wanted to share the top trend-setting blogs & sites for Marketing Strategy:

  • Visionary Marketing blog – created by an international set of entrepreneurs/marketers, provides and excellent Blog Roll of many other great spots for Marketing Innovation on the Net.
  • Business Week blog on InnnovationThis blog covers “new innovations in marketing from new tools to how people rethink how to get their messages out.  Marketing Innovation is part of Business Exchange, suggested by Tracy Zhang.
  • Tim Brown’s Design Thinking blog (thank, you, Kavita) – Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, offers his cutting edge views on design and innovation. His posts tend to take a deeper dive into areas such as creative culture and how purpose creates a strategic advantage in the area of innovation.
  • Adam Richardson’s blog (thank you, Kavita) – The Creative Director at Frog Design’s blog on the intersection of design, business, technology,and culture. His posts focus on ways to integrate creative and strategic thinking and approaches to any problem.
  • Online marketing blog (thank you, Angus) – Internet marketing blog on the intersection of social media, digital public relations and search engine marketing. Tons of interesting info. and some interesting overlaps with Seth Godin’s blog – try typing “marketing is ,” or “marketing innovation ” in Google search … makes you think.
  • Future Lab – blog by global agency, FutureLab with lots of entries on strategy and innovation
  • Seth’s blog (thank you, Angus) – Marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog which doesn’t hold punches. Godin founded of Squidoo ( which is a user-generated- website that uses the concept of a lens to filter information (like blog posts but within a subject).
  • Web Strategist (thank you, Deval) -  Jeremy Owyang is a web strategist whose target audience is Marketing professionals and CMOs. He writes for Forbes as well.Very practical advice on how to leverage social media for your company.

I’d like to hear about additional sites on the strategic/general topic of marketing innovation…

Marketing Innovation – Part I

December 5th, 2009

Disruptive technologies, and a shift in the ways consumers and business purchase are the culprits behind a massive shift in the world of marketing in the past decade. This shift continues today, as innovations in advertising, direct marketing, public relations, promotions, channel marketing, product marketing, branding, market research, and other areas. I will cover each of these areas in a series of blogs: Part I, II, III, etc….until we get it all covered!

The entire Internet Advertising Space may be $1B in size…Let’s Go Celebrate!

As Yahoo’s original VP Marketing & Sales, I played a role in the beginning of this shift. In 1995, as Yahoo was being founded, we had to consider the Internet as a new medium for advertisers, forge a sales pitch that would convince yahoo_logolarge advertisers to “test out” banner advertising and key-word searches as legitimate ways to market their message. Fortunately, a few pioneers like Citbank, Worlds Inc. and Softbank believed us – and within a year hundreds of advertisers joined the fray. .. But the market researchers at the time thought that ad revenues might shift to Internet to $1B within 5 years – eureka! (?yahoo!?) – we were off to the gold mines, but only a fraction of the world’s marketing was anticipated to shift to online.

OK..well, maybe the entire Online Marketing  Space will be $3-5B in size…

Again, in 1996, working with Bill Gross at IdeaLab,  I brought together a business development and marketing team to assist in the founding of (later to become Overture).  Yahoo and Excite were already public by this point, yet the face of marketing was only beginning to change.  The shift to online spending by large advertisers had only just goto_logobegun…but the idea of a SEARCH as a driving force had caught our attention, and the idea of “pay for position”/auction advertising seemed increase our potential revenues, so we tested our ideas…within 15 months Overture went public. ….But the market researchers at the time thought that ad revenues might shift to Internet to $3B within 5 years – wow!  (it was only anticipated to be a partial shift).

Online Marketing is now $45B+ globally and growing fast…

But take a look at recent articles on the online advertising/marketing space and we see that 15 years later it has bloomed into a $45M (2008) market.

Technologies that we now know to be the culprit in this dramatic shift (and some funky examples that you might enjoy checking out over the ‘Net):

  • Social media – The hottest new area of innovation in marketing today is SMM  – social media marketing.  Way way back in 2000, we used to call this “viral marketing”, until actual platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter allowed us to direct eyeballs (well, call them “Followers”) to almost any type of event, brand, or product you can think of.
  • Broadband into the home & workplace – why are my children no longer crowding me out of my rightful spot in front of the family-room television? Because they don’t need to compete with me anymore – thanks to broadband into the home (which I use to watch digital TV advertisements over ), my kids are upstairs in their bedrooms snapping up Coke commercials as they watch their favorite tv shows and movies on Hulu.
  • Digital Video - my favoriteexample,  Where The Hell Is Matt (sponsored by Stride Gum), with 25 million views on Google’s YouTube exemplifies how companies can virally spread their brand or product/services thanks to advances in digital video

Marketing – one tough career ?

The huge variety of technologies that have enabled Innovative Marketing are causing a lot of trouble on Madison Avenue and in boardrooms all over the world…and the job of Marketing has become, actually quite complex, today, because there is no way to compare the impact of one’s branding, direct marketing, advertising, or social media marketing efforts.

In future blogs, my plan is to lay out some of the best resources on the Web for Innovative Marketing, and share examples and trends in each of the major marketing areas.

But, first, I leave you with one a favorite Marketing Innovation, discovered by one of my students at Berkeley (thank you, Joan).  I love this one because it takes advantage of digital video, social media, and plain old smart branding.

Smart phone <--> Netbook: Innovation is Needed

November 19th, 2009

A “goldie-locks” battle is likely emerging in the space between “Netbook PC” and “smart-phone”.

My smart phone keeps getting smarter, and my portable computer keeps getting smaller….and there seems no point, soon, in my owning BOTH.

The Tablet Computer

I had a talk with a well-known CEO not too long ago…he, like myself, is an avid Tablet Computer user — I’ve been using one for 8 (that’s right “EIGHT”) years.  I like the visual element of it, and I love being able to cradle the computer in one arm, while “computing” in another. It is similar to the experience that a violinist must feel when converting from many years of playing the piano.violin2

But the Tablet computer lacks some of the advantages of a small netbook – first of all price is still sky-high:  $1500-2000+ for a good tablet.  $400 for a reasonably efficient netbook.

Second, there are times when we need to quickly get something written, or responded to, and the Tablet can be slow for these kinds of tasks.  Of course, if you like to draw, think visually, and use your hands in majestic ways, then the Tablet frees your mind and makes you an “Artifex” (Latin: “creator”).

The shrinking PC and the mighty smart-phone…the Goldie-Locks battle
Meanwhile, the little phone keeps getting more and more powerful thanks to Apple iPhone, Google Droid and others.  And, if you read Michael Arrington’s post on Nov 18th , you’ll find that the Google Phone has only been warming up.

But, from an innovation point of view, where the computer and the phone CONVERGE, something new in interface design has got to occur.  Because:

* the screen we all are carrying around for a computer is Too Large, and the screen we are carrying around for the smart phone is Too Small

* the Querty keyboard seems outdated and not of use in a form factor that can be carried on one’s person

* the typical screen is either too big (computer) or too small (smart phone) – we probably need one that expands to fit the need

What’s needed is the Goldie Locks of computer – something that is innovative in its UI and ergonomic design so that it is “just right” to a good many people.

I came across this video from an Israeli developer. It has the makings of something in the right direction ….

This prototype addresses the need for a new design or interface to the computer that is portable, expandable, versatile, and flexible – with some new approach to avoiding the traditional mouse, keyboard, and rigid screen.
Build me one!

Advertising meet Adver-FLYsing – innovative marketing

November 4th, 2009

It’s getting harder and harder to get your message across to others over TV, radio, or Internet.  But this company seems to have come up with another way to get their message out “over the air”.

One of my students at Cal, Yahel Ben-David, shared this video with me – taken from the German advertising site Adland.

This is an interesting example “intersectional creativity”  I referred to in my September 4, 2009 on “Where is Creativity Found.”  We’ve all had experience with flys …they can be annoying, distracting and upsetting…but they definitely have a way of getting one’s attention (unless you are a cow out on the pasture).  The company that set up this “innovative’ approach to marketing simply combined the annoyance of a fly with the novelty of nano-messaging – to create a very bizarre and attention-getting mixture.

Now, the question I have is “how do you actually TARGET your market using this invention”.  For those geneticists out there, this seems like an intriguing problem. Can one develop a FLY strong enough to carry a larger sign? Can the fly be pre-dispositioned to fly toward a particular target?

Certainly and unnerving example of mixing biology with aerodynamics and advertising!

Freedom to Fail – Part 2

September 25th, 2009

In my last post, I talked about Vinod Khosla’s “freedom to fail” thinking.  But, how do entrepreneurs develop this? Is it acquired or are they born with it?

Freedom to Fail Learned?

One wonders: where does “freedom to fail” come from? Some of us seem to be born with a “spirit of exploration” (one that tends to drive our parents nuts in early years). Think of Ted Turner in his younger years (dropped out of Brown U) –probably exhibited a high “freedom to fail” component in many things he did – a certain irreverent personality. Picture Bill Gates dropping out of Harvard undergrad (failure to finish Harvard? so what!).  Or, modern day repeat, Mark Zuckerberg on an even faster race to financial freedom.  It doesn’t appear that they harbored a concern with failure.  I’m sure there were some healthy debates with college-paying parents, but ultimately the some of the greatest entrepreneurial examples of our times seem to exhibit a freedom to fail.

Yet, for others, environment definitely shapes our “Freedom to Fail”.  It comes with maturity.  Did parents use an encouraging touch? Were influential teacher allow students to make mistakes and learn from them. Did peers reinforce mistakes or mock them? Tim Brown, Found/CEO of IDEO talks about this “freedom to play” in his TED Talk from 2008 Serious Plan conference.

Pixar’s “Peer Culture”

Greg Brandeau, SVP of Pixar loves to talk about the culture of Pixar that the executive team has developed. The company strongly values collectigregbrandeauve creativity – the “peer” culture in which employees are encouraged to help one another out. Greg points out the “culture makes the team” – by that he means that keeping a culture where it’s safe for one express their opinions, make mistakes, learn from others (Pixar University has an incredible number of topics/courses for employees). Key to this is attracting VERY talented people – the rule of thumb is hire someone brighter and smarter than yourself. However, at Pixar “the Team builds the culture” – the company is run as a meritocracy (the better ideas float to the top) and innovation is all about the concept itself not whose idea it was in the first place. All of this basically creates an environment where an extremely bright set of people are not afraid to express their creativity.

Setting the Creative Culture

Patty McCord, the SVP of “Talent” and architect of Netflix’s unique culture, says that allowing people to fail at what they doPatty1_image is one of the most critical elements of the success of Netflix. At Netflix Inc., CTO (“Chief Talent Officer”) Patty McCord and founder, Reed Hastings, have taken this one step further, creating the “Freedom and Responsibility” culture. The company has deliberately built its culture in a way that allows employees the freedom to experiment, take on challenges and sometimes even fail. In essence, by giving employees the freedom to create and solve problems on their own accord, they fight off bureaucracy and control issues at the company grows.

You can see Patty’s Freedom and Responsibility Culture posted in PPT format. Patty is joining me on October 7th at UC Berkeley for my class on Innovation, Creativity & The Entrepreneur and the unveiling of a virtual case study on Netflix that we filmed at Netflix.