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oyster farm

A few years ago, a pal Chuck started an oyster farm where there was no Foursquare check in. He did it not because he wanted to be a bazzillionaire but because he likes oysters. And he likes building things.  In this case he wasn’t smitten by building oyster racks for his Blue Island oysters (the name he uses with his distributor), he was interested in building a business, a brand, and a little piece of the craft economy. Some are referring to this as the maker movement.

Over a frosty yesterday after a few hours helping in the field, I tried to explain what a brand planner does. He looked at me like cormorant might look at a garbage truck. Huh? Then we got to talking about renaming his oysters; the nearby inlet, the history of Fire Island and the importance of story with muscle memory in creating a brand and our crafts collided and it made sense. 

I love talking to people who love what they do.  All this talk about passion is so 2000 and, frankly, I’m tired of it.  (It’s like ROI — if you have to talk about it, you are not getting it.) Hard work is passion. Members of the craft economy tend to put a little extra into what they make. It’s more about what they make and less about what they do. Think product, not process.

Chuck, I suspect, could work on Wall Street or manage thousands, but he chooses to put on the waders, schlepp oyster seeds, and put the near-market-ready oysters in the tumbler.  When he brings his saline little beauties to market — be that at Le Bernardin, The Dutch or Babylon Fish and Clam (just guessing), he’s putting a product on a plate like no other.  “Take another little piece of my heart now baby.”

Do you love what you do?  Become a member of the craft economy. Peace.

(Pictured is Greg, Chuck’s marine biology-studying employee.)

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Over the last few days I’ve met with two really smart Joshes. Okay, one Josh and one Joshua. Both gentlemen live and work in digital and media realms and both were nice enough to hear about “Twitch Point Planning.”  A twitch is a media moment during which a user leaves one media or device for another in search of more information or richer clarification. Twitch Point Planning attempts to intercept them at these moments and put in their way some branded value, moving them user closer to a sale. Of course, it must be done elegantly and with a contributory vibe.

The two Joshes told me it’s time to get out of theory land and into practice land.  Advice I’ve been giving to marketers for years. There is talk and there are deeds and only the latter create true muscle memory for consumers.

Since these two gentlemen are digital natives and work in marketing worlds catalyzed by big data, they’re also looking for evidentiary data. “65% of TV watchers who twitch to a retail site on Foursquare buy from its brick and mortar store within 4 days” kind of stuff.

Okay, I preach it but have failed to practice it. Shame on me. Off to practice.  Off to data point. Thank your Josh. Thank you Joshua.


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I had a great day yesterday thanks to the Internet.  TechCrunch Disrupt was held in NYC again and streamed live. For freezle. Fred Wilson ( of Union Square Ventures started things off interviewed by TechCrunch veteran Erick Schonfeld and Fred offered some gems on venture investing.  Union Square has invested in Twitter, Etsy, Disqus, Foursquare, Tumblr and Zynga, lately making Kleiner Perkins appear standing still.

Some Fred thoughts:

  • It’s better to be an anthropologist than technologist in venture capital.
  • Social, global, mobile and cloud are the key trends.
  • We invest in the cultural revolution.
  • We like people who have a deep obsession over a long period of time.

Dennis Crowley of Foursquare was there and smart. Chris Dixon an investor and edge burnisher was a panelist. Michael Arrington, three quarters funny, interviewed his boss Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL. Between speakers and panelists, there were green room interviews – a very nice touch.  Back in the day (a year or two ago) if you tried to stream something like this, it would have been a herky jerky mess.  Not now.  Not with Ustream. The afternoon was a start-up jump ball in front of other entrepreneurs and VCs, some of which I watched but found to be a bit below the morning program.

The event rocked.  And speaking of rock, in the 70s and 80s in NYC, it was the rock star start-ups who were rock stars.  Now they are tech dudes. The art is different, the drug is Red Bull and the output is hard to dance and hum to — but tech is really bringing NYC back. Plus there was a big East Coast/West Coast thing going at the event, too.

If you can attend next year…or if you can’t but can clear the decks to watch the stream, do it. There’s money to be learned. Peace.

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A lot of people ask “Who is doing social media right?”  Tough question. What they’re really saying is “Who is using Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare effectively?”  

Social media is complicated and often convoluted. It is actually many media types: blogs, simple messages, texts, video, audio, pictures, email, etc. They are all social because they are shared.

So who is doing social well? Coach. They have a good mix of media and are using the right tools for the right part of the sales cycles: Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action.  Of course there’s some cross over, but the people pushing and pulling the buttons at Coach are leading the way and have a plan.

Motivation in Social Media

Readers know I advocate that brands using social have a motivation, kind of like actors in a movie. Each person at the controls of their social media channel needs to understand their role and stick to it. Understanding which social media type is used for which purpose is a start and Coach’s people are pretty close to delivering on that.  Twitter is for building real time, meaningful communal discourse.  Facebook is for selling so long as it’s not too smarmy or heavy handed. YouTube is where Coach creates desire and loyalty, though this is one area still under development.  Coach also gets it’s brand motivations: “fashion”, “NYC-culture” and “lifestyle” which are all clean and discreet.  They just need to continue to live and breathe the motivations and innovate with them. Get the motivations right and the media delivery will follow.

Good job Coach! Peace.

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My daughter, freshly graduated from college and about a month into her first full-time job, loves Marshalls.  Marshalls is a department store chain with a very nice selection and great prices.  Apparently, she and her friend would shop there every day if they could.   They have a little jing in their pocketbooks and for the first time have the flexibility to shop on demand. That’s not to say they buy something every time they’re there but they look around (enjoy the air conditioning) and feel the power of consumerism.

A club?

Stores like Marshalls have been advertising and mailing to my daughter for years. Perhaps it has worked, perhaps not, but why not take advantage of recent graduates new found status by create a tailored marketing plan and in-store experience for them; one that might just make lifelong customers of them.  How about taking some of that hundred thousand square feet of retail space and turning it into a college graduate corner. Display clothes, apartment furnishings, some appropriate books, maybe some free coffee and a financial advisor. Put up some PC stations with access to Facebook. Create a Foursquare check in incentive. Cookies? (The kind with raisins.)  Celebrate these young ladies as they enter a scary part of their lives.  Help them cope. Let them commune. Test it out Marshalls!  Peace.

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The NFL is improving the in-stadium game experience by creating WIFI enabled smartphone applications that provide game watchers with information, audio and video heretofore only available to the TV watching audience. Got smartphone?  The second wave of these apps will provide an even greater level of entertainment and analysis than is available through the TV — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  The business problem some teams are facing is that seat sales are down 3% since 2007 and TV viewership is up. With replays, color analysis and hi-def, the on-coach experience is excellent and free. The in-stadium experience needs to get better…and it is, thanks to smartphones. 

Consumer Goods Marketers

As consumer marketers put on their thinking caps and realize they need to improve the in-store shopping experience to better compete with online shopping, new worlds of smartphone applications will  turn up. Think aisle check-ins at the local Stop & Shop a la FourSquare, or pre-loaded Consumer Reports write-ups at your local car dealership. How about GPS-enabled restaurant reviews by cuisine or an olive oil rating app at the local specialty food store?  Help, I can’t stop! 

Thanks NFL for being so forward in your thinking. Peace!

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Spotlight on Social Media was held yesterday in NYC, put on by the Participatory Marketing Network (PMN) and Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  There were a couple of important takeaways every marketer should think about. 


Search is still important, no doubt, but it’s a little 2008.  Immediacy – what’s happening now — is the rolling thunder these days, so services like Twitter and Foursquare are the rage but the marketing future is something Rapleaf’s co-founder Vivek Sodera calls “intent driven” applications. Think of a suped up Four Square To Do tab. Facebook will certainly build an intent-based app and others in the VC pipeline will emerge, but just know intent+social+search+moblie is going to pay out lotto style. 


I know, I know it’s not a word. But it’s a better word then unanonymize, which is the word that clanked like a dropped crowbar off Mr. Sodera’s tongue during his presentation.  Hee hee. That said, it’s a word that wonderfully describes what Rapleaf does. Rapleaf crawls the web and creates single records of an individual’s behaviors, activities and associations.  And surprisingly, it’s not that scary.  They do this using your email address and a cool piece of software. In email or direct parlance they append records using the social web. When I asked to be unanonymized, the Rapleaf software generated 100 of my web proclivities, the first of which was something called “Social Care” a membership I did not recall.  All the rest were spot on. 


Facebook also presented at Spotlight and mentioned its 60 million daily logins put prime time television to shame. Sean Mahoney’s case studies of marketer successes were very impressive and prove that Facebook is the “new” digital. Its targeting capabilities are phenomenal.  There are specialty ad and marketing shops opening up just to handle Facebook-enabled selling and they’re worth looking in to.  It’s a cottage industry on the way to becoming transformational.   


Other smart companies worth mentioning include Acxiom, a behemoth company that also transforms social data into social profiles (for targeted marketing), Cisco which has a neat B2B app in its NowVan program (like Kogi BBQ trucks for routers) and Air Miles a rewards program out of Canada, trying hard and having very good success. 

 Michael Della Penna of the PMN and Conversa Marketing and Neil O’Keefe of DMA deserve shout outs for empanelling a great program. together!

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RFID stands for radio frequency identification.  It is a really haps technology with great marketing upside. If you have a phone that is RFID enabled and walk by a pastry shop with tarts fresh out of the oven, you might get a special alert. “Hot apple tarts.”  If you don’t pay attention and continue walking the shop may ping you with a coupon to slow you down. (Nuisance? Perhaps. Smart? Very.)


Checkin (a term that foursquare would like to own) is a manual geolocation application that allows your followers on foursquare to know where you are. If you checkin to Mary Carrol’s Irish pub on St. Paddy’s Day, your friends can find you. If Mary’s Carrol’s knows you have lots of friends, they’ll be smart to encourage you to checkin.  Should you decide upon stealth mode, don’t do it.    

These services subscribe to the marketing view that where you are is more important than what websites you visit.  Don’t get me wrong, visiting websites is a directional indicator of interest, but feet on premise or near prem is a big driver of da monies. And thanks to social media apps like foursquare, gowalla, loopt, etc. we marketers have new exciting mobile toys to play with.  Peace!

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Have you ever been to a high school football game and watched kids walk the bottom row of the stands? It can be more fun than the game itself. Some kids parade as if it’s a Narciso runway show while others skulk, head down, hiding from the world. The paraders are filled with “hi’ and “heys,” the skulkers, not so much. It’s a matter of confidence. But now the skulkers have a tool — texting. They have a reason to avert their eyes while looking tre cool and busy.

Subways and buses in urban centers are other places people like to hide from stares, ergo you’ll see a preponderance of iPods and texting.

Today, technology is often a diversion, especially for kids, giving them an excuse not to socialize. Early MySpace cadets and current Facebookers called what they were doing “being social” and to an extent it is. Certainly, there are nice apps on Facebook allowing people to expand their circle and do new stuff. But let’s face it, sitting on your ass and typing to friends and neofriends smells of the letter-writing, attic-recluse types of yore.

I’m betting the next group of cool apps will be closer to FourSquare than Facebook — helping people actually get out of their chairs and meet others with whom they are comfortable. “Likeminds” as Noah Brier and Piers Fawkes might say. There’s social and there’s social. I for one, prefer the version conducted in person. (He said typing from his chair.) Peace!

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