I wanted to take a moment and reflect on some thoughts that I’ve had since presenting at the TeleSpan Conference in Las Vegas. First of all, I cannot thank everyone enough for inviting me out to speak, it was a very memorable trip and I’ve been flattered by the feedback that I’ve received.
There were a few thoughts that I wanted to share since the conference that I wanted to share. Hopefully, some of this will strike a chord and help you in finding a new way forward.
On a fresh set of eyes…..to me it really doesn’t matter what the project is. If someone walks in with a new product that’s just a different pen…I get super excited! “oh, wow look at that…hmm, feels good in the hand….clicks really fast…..LET’S SELL THE HELL OUT OF IT!”. It’s that simple for me. I think part of it is that I come in to every project with a new perspective…I haven’t spent years in the industry staring at pens all day. Michael Buckham-White, VP @ PGi, alluded to this up during his panel discussion when he suggested that companies should look outside of the industry for talent….what a brilliant idea! If you’re looking to do things the way that they’ve always been done, the hire people who know the business, but if you want someone who will question why you’re doing things the way that you are…that takes a fresh set of eyeballs and passionate employees.
On being cool….this is one thing that I’m certain all too often is overlooked in the telecom world, certainly there are exceptions, but for the most part many of the companies who are currently using social media are not doing it in a way that sets them apart from other industries. In my presentation, I closed as I traditionally do, with a call to action for people to get excited about their brands! I’m often amazed at how the daily monotony reduces people’s passion for their industry. I suppose that I’m fortunate in the fact that I get to touch many different organizations on a daily basis: start the day off with Burton Law working on branding elements to differentiate them from the sea of dull attorneys and then perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to work on Insignia Signs‘ SEO for a few hours, then wrap up the day by trying to determine how to make the zombies on Land of Illusion‘s site look more terrifying….(yes, this is seriously what I get to do for a living).
Here’s how it breaks down: when we were in high school, we all wanted to hang out with the cool kids. Here’s the secret: we all still want to hang out with the cool kids! Granted the quarterback of the football team is now 80 pounds overweight and works at Blockbuster…but just because the people who are cool has changed, that deep seeded desire hasn’t. I don’t know Serge Brin or Larry Page, but they founded Google, they are probably really big nerds…I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE DINNER WITH THOSE GUYS…because by default, they’re cool! They didn’t invent search…they were a late comer to the game, it was kind of a commodity by then, but they were cooler than Yahoo, MSN, and ASK. They focused in on the core of the business, search results, and didn’t muck up the home page with tons of content (news, sports, weather, daily horoscope, and other awful things that when I go to search for something I don’t care about). This rolls over into the next thought:
On being sexy…we live in a society where quite frankly sex sells. We judge everything….cars, computers, clothes, and people….on how they present themselves, how they look.if you’re in the technology verticle and you’re website or platform looks like it was built in the days of DOS…you’re going to lose me the second I get to your site. The big bad wolf that kept getting brought up, Skype, has a really sexy website…it’s very clean, it’s inviting, and it looks cool (see above). If you’re message is that you’re providing me a technology based service, you had better look forward thinking…you’re platform had better be easy to use and look sexy.
On being different…the marketing director for Method (the soap company) attributes their market growth to “being weird”. From package design to providing green methods to making their products, they have been slowly stealing market share away from P&G product lines. Method products do the exact same thing as P&G products, they clean stuff, but the difference is that Method has positioned itself with products that are meant to be on display (not stowed under the kitchen sink). Their marketing efforts have been different as well. Clearly they aren’t able to compete with P&G’s ad budget = $8+ billion annually, so they’ve created communities online “People Against Dirt“. Granted, it’s kind of dorky…..but it’s also outside of the box thinking…it’s also the reason why they are one of the fastest growing private companies in the States. They’ve found a way to tell a different story.
On new channels…Saturday as I headed down to the Oregon District to triage some emails at a local coffee shop, I began to dream of new methods for telecom companies to reach people. As I struggled to find a strong WiFi signal, it occurred to me….what if you were a telecom company and you wired up some areas in cities with WiFi? The user logs on, a landing page pops up, and says “hey, why not send a video message to a friend”….they use your service, they now like you because you’ve given them free access to the internet….and it has to cost a hell of a lot less than running a television spot. I wish I could say that I was brilliant and came up with that…but I didn’t…the phone companies are already doing it: you can find Verizon charging stations at the LV airport. Reminder from my presentation: look at what others are doing and see if it fits your model.
Anyway, I just realized that my fish + chips have been burning in the oven for about an hour, so I’m going to go. Here is a link to download a cheat sheet of cliff notes from the presentation. I’m hoping to piece together a video by end of week….so check back here for that. Parting thought: just a friendly reminder that What Happens In Vegas….Stays on Facebook so be careful next time you make the trip.
As always, thank you for listening, you’ve been great, I’ve been Richard Kaiser.