Archive for the ‘Brands’ Category

Join the treadmill desk revolution

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

For all of us with high-tech, high-stress jobs, most of what we do involves sitting at a desk staring at computer screens.  Tools like email, Facebook, Google Hangouts and the like have made it even worse since the majority of our interactions take place at our desks.  Unfortunately, there is a price to pay for long hours hunched over a keyboard. Health experts are calling it sitting disease and it’s having a serious detrimental effect on society’s health WWW#28Revision (1) 200 pixelsas a whole.

The cure isn’t to combat the symptoms of sitting disease, but to attack the real problem of having to sit around while working.  What if you could stand or even better walk while working?  That simple concept is the driver behind the under-desk treadmill. While the concept of a treadmill desk is straightforward enough, as always the devil is in the details. The difference between success and failure with treadmill desks starts with proper knowledge about configuring your workspace and selecting the right desk and treadmill base, among other factors.

Looking around the Internet, you’ll find plenty of information about treadmill desks, but it’s hardly convenient or well-organized. Recognizing this void, one of our long-time friends in the tech industry and serial entrepreneur Ron Wiener and his team have launched a new site called WorkWhileWalking.com that puts everything you need to know about treadmill desks at your fingertips. Ron’s lively new site serves up reference information and in-depth product reviews combined with frequent reports on the latest industry developments. What’s more, Ron will be launching a new e-Book so you can read up on treadmill desks on your Kindle, smartphone or tablet.

If you find that you’re sitting more than nine hours per day, chances are you are already suffering from sitting disease to some degree. Using a treadmill desk for just 2-3 hours per day at a pace slow enough that you can still work at a desktop or laptop PC has been shown to boost health, help with weight control and increase energy levels.  More and more companies, business leaders and celebrities are starting to embrace treadmill desks, and sales are growing steadily. We strongly encourage everyone to take a look at WorkWhileWalking.com or download the e-Book and get started. You’ll be glad did.

BETTERY Fans Want Battery Swap Stations at Safeway Too!

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Today’s Oregonian featured an article on the cover of the Living section about battery recycling which highlighted the work that our terrific client BETTERY Inc. is doing in this space. Carrie Sturrock’s well-written article, Battery Recyclers Turn Up The Juice, takes an in-depth look at the issue and includes some great quotes from BETTERY execs Charlie Kawasaki and Bob Altabet.  And one Safeway shopper says she wants Safeway to get with it and offer BETTERY kiosks in their stores.

Are you recycling your batteries and using rechargeable ones to help the environment? You should! Check out this article for more information.

 

BETTERY Video Shows Just How Easy It Is To Help the Environment By Reusing or Recycling Your Batteries

Friday, April 12th, 2013

We had fun shooting, editing and producing this video for our client BETTERY. Check it out and learn how to use their BETTERY Swap Station kiosk. We can all do our part to help the environment and this idea makes it SO easy!

BETTERY Founder Charlie Kawasaki Demonstrates Nation’s First Kiosk for Exchange of Reusable Batteries from McKenzie Worldwide on Vimeo.

We’ve come a long way since the Bruce Jenner/Wheaties days.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

 

Remember back in the 1960’s and 1970’s during the height of the Cold War? While we knew a little bit about the top American stars such as Mark Spitz and Dorothy Hamill, there was really no way of knowing anything about the Eastern European athletes. Secrecy, and to a certain extent, government-mandated rules prevented the Eastern Block athletes from being exposed to the West.

But oh how things have changed. Or should I say technology has changed. Sure, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe has, for the most part, eliminated the East vs. West mentality. But now, thanks to social media, fans and athletes can communicate in a free and open environment. The upcoming London Olympics has jumped on the social media bandwagon and has launched The Hub. This social media portal gives fans a way to connect with their favorite sports and athletes. And it gives the Olympians themselves a way to build their social profiles in the months before the event.

Communicating directly with world-class athletes on The Hub, via Facebook and Twitter, as well as getting event results, will make fans very happy. But think about what this technological advancement will mean for building a personal brand. Back in the 1970’s Bruce Jenner appeared on the iconic Wheaties box following his gold medal win in the decathlon.  In the 1980’s Carl Lewis seemed to be on advertisements everywhere following his multiple gold medal performances in track & field. Advertisement dollars were about the only thing available for athletes back then. And those dollars were only limited to a few select athletes.

How great it is that today’s Olympic athletes have the opportunity to develop their own brand, engage fans, and drive their own marketing activities. And what if they don’t win any medals? They still can use The Hub (as well as many other social media tools) as a way to market themselves to the world.

I think this is a great way for fans to get an inside look at what it’s like to be an Olympic athlete, but I’m more than a little concerned about the blurring lines between athlete and celebrity. Have we gone so far that the athletes and fans will lose sight of the games themselves? Will the winners be the athletes with the best social media profile not the ones with the most medals? Shouldn’t the Olympics be about competition first? How will social media impact the games this summer in London? What’s your opinion?

What Can We Learn From RIM?

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

By now just about everyone knows about RIM’s little mishap last week with Blackberry email. Outages like these can hurt the reputation of any company, but for a tech company I think it’s much worse, especially for a company like RIM that is all about connectivity. Just to pile on a little more, it’s even more problematic for a company like RIM that has been losing market share for a long time.

While I haven’t followed every aspect of this story nor read every blog post that is available, it’s clear that RIM made some mistakes in handling this crisis. And believe me…it is a crisis. Years ago this issue might have gone unnoticed but in today’s world, where social media rules, how come RIM wasn’t better prepared to handle the crisis?

Just like the Boy Scouts say, you need to “be prepared.” Most companies I’ve worked with have policies and procedures in place in the event of a crisis, and I’m sure RIM does at some level. Considering that RIM has experienced outages before, you’d think they would have been better prepared. And I’m not talking about being better prepared to address the technical issues but being better prepared in getting their message out to customers in a more timely way.

Why did it take three days for the CEO to post a YouTube message concerning the problems? Did RIM monitor customer reaction on Twitter or Facebook? Did the company proactively address the issue or reactively reach out to customers? I’m not sure about the answer but from an outside observer’s standpoint they didn’t seem to be prepared at all.

A few thoughts about getting your crisis management plan mapped out.

  • Be prepared. Have a crisis communications plan in place and update it each quarter.
  • Make sure that you now have plans in place that address social media outlets.
  • Investigate the issue and get your facts straight. Guessing doesn’t make the situation any better.
  • “No comment” won’t cut it. And I’ve heard that RIM takes a “we don’t want to talk to the media about anything” stand which makes the situation even worse.
  • Have a chain of command of spokespeople ready. You don’t want the wrong person sharing the wrong message with the public.
  • Empower your communications team to move quickly and cut through the layers of opinion and second guessing so the response doesn’t take days to materialize.

In this day and age I find it highly unusual that companies still can get caught off-guard when a crisis hits. So how should companies like RIM approach these types of very public problems? Do you think that RIM addressed the issue effectively enough to minimize the damage to their reputation?

Portland AMA — Some helpful resources

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Thanks to all of the Portland AMA members who attended the luncheon on Tuesday at Bridgeport Brewing Company.

If you were there , you know that Megan McKenzie provided a number of example of about how companies are using social media – both good and bad.  The key take away for me is the importance of building trust before embarking on any social media campaigns.  It all comes down to have a clear purpose and knowing your Why.

One of the questions that came up had to do with additional resources. For those of you who are working with your executive teams to increase social media activities, sadly there is no magic bullet.  Social media is one of those things where you gain experience by launching a program and building insight and expertise about what works for YOU over time.  It truly does not come with an instruction manual, and the landscape is changing quickly. While there are no easy answers, it does pay to stay abreast of trends and study up on what others are doing and see what applies to you.

Remember that in all cases, social media must be approached with a clear understanding of your Why along with a heaping does of quality, truth and integrity.

Here are a few resources we have found helpful:

 

Portland AMA talk slide deck

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Here’s the slide deck from the talk Megan Mckenzie delivered at the Portland AMA’s monthly lunch meeting today. We had a great time meeting many of the smart marketing folks from around the Portland area and look forward to hooking up with you again at future events.

Stop social media madness from McKenzie Worldwide

 

Is the Future of Brand Building Mobile?

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Over Thanksgiving my cousin and daughter talked up an iPhone and Android game called Angry Birds.  It’s a very simple game where you launch birds from slingshot to take out egg-stealing pigs hiding behind various structures. Simple in concept…and absolutely addictive.  Believe me.

On iPhone it sold something like 12 million copies for $.99 largely through viral word of mouth and has been the best selling app for many weeks. More interesting, from a brand-building perspective, the game is free on Android and supported by advertising.  The game’s maker Rovio is reportedly making approximately $1 million per month just from advertising and it has already hit over 8 million downloads.

The ads, for things like search engines or cosmetics, are pesky but since the game is so fun and addictive you just skip over them and keep playing. To be sure, you do notice them.  And, hey, if they keep the game free why not? Do they work? Probably too early to tell, but I were a media buyer and wanted to get eyeballs on my message, I would definitely not want to pass this one up.

As smartphones become more and more pervasive, 20 million downloads will seem like nothing. Future games will be in the 100s of millions of downloads globally – turning them into powerful vehicles for building brands. Rovio has cracked the code for how to do it with games.  In this video, put together by Google’s AdMob team, Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka offers some interesting insights on how it’s done. Is this the future?


Tapping your (big) partner’s brand – six strategies that work

Monday, November 29th, 2010

In almost any tech industry segment you’ll find a few very large companies surrounded by dozens to hundreds of complementary smaller companies that do everything from filling in functionality gaps to adding industry specialization or providing service and support. This ecosystem is important to the big company’s success and most, to varying degrees, works to grow and nurture their ecosystems.

But if you’re a small- to mid-size company, being part of a big company ecosystem is anything but a free ride to success.  This is especially true from the PR and marketing side.  Many times I’ve heard small company execs talk about how signing a deal with Oracle or Microsoft will lead to instant credibility and visibility, followed shortly by big sales. They are usually crestfallen when it doesn’t materialize quite the way they thought.

Gold PartnerBig companies have a lot going on. Their PR teams and product managers are invariably overworked, and have a huge number of mouths to feed.  That joint press release you wanted? Not going to happen.  Maybe a quote, if you’re lucky. And the response from the media is worse?  Reporters and bloggers simply do not care that you’ve become a Gold Certified Platinum whiz bang partner of the year. Not only do they not care, but will get pissed if you even send them the press release.

For sure, there is huge brand-building potential from partnering with a big company. How do you tap into that potential, and ride the coattails of your big-brand partner?  Here are six strategies I’ve found to be way more effective than issuing a press release about your partner status.

Target the partner’s bloggers – Most big companies have a thriving cadre of bloggers at various levels within the company. These are not professional journalists. They are looking for ideas and content assistance.  By educating them about how you fit in the big company’s ecosystem and help boost sales or increase customer satisfaction, they may be inclined to write about you in their blog, or you could even supply a guest post.  Be sure to read the relevant blogs and comment often.

Create compelling content – As noted, big company marketing types are typically very busy.  That means they won’t be doing any work on your behalf. However, if you come up with some smart contributed articles, they will often be willing to be quoted, are even add their name to the author byline.  Editors will be much more interested in the article if there’s a big name on the byline.

Support initiatives – Most of the time, the major players won’t give small upstarts the time of day. That can change when the big company has a major product launch.  They are often looking for endorsements and quotes to show how the industry is backing the new initiatives. Be ready with Johnny-on-the-spot press releases, quotes and spokespeople.

Partner events – The big partner events can be a good opportunity to make some noise.  Ideally, you can work your way into one of the keynote speeches.  If that doesn’t work, be sure to place as many of your customers, technical and product experts on panels and workshops as possible, and then funnel information to reporters and bloggers covering the event.

Partner beat reporters – Media outlets, whether online or print, devote inordinate amounts of space to big companies.  Many, such as the Wall Street Journal for instance, have reporters fully dedicated to only covering IBM or Microsoft.  It’s worthwhile letting these reporters know how your company fits into the space. They won’t write a dedicated story about you, but you can get mentioned in other coverage.

Self-publishing and social media – Scrapping for coverage in a brand-centric world is hard work. As a supplement, you can control your message and build your brand on your own.  By using social media tools, and publishing articles, videos and podcasts on your websites you can create significant buzz. This is where engaging the partner can be useful to creating more exposure and building your credibility. For example, you could interview the partner for a news podcast and use that as the basis for a thought leadership, brand building effort.

Working with big partners is never easy. It takes real organizational commitment to building the relationship in the first place and developing product and sales opportunities. The same goes for trading on the partner’s brand name. Done right, however, the payoff can be significant.

What communication strategies have you found to be successful on the partner front?

Customer Engagement and Design Experience Key to Brand Building

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Over the years, I’ve found it fascinating to see how different marketing and creative disciplines define “brand.” My favorite: brand = logo. While the logo is an important visual output of the brand experience, to say that a brand is fully represented by its logo is ignoring a much bigger picture.

Apple is perhaps one of the most obvious companies that truly understands the full view of what it takes to build a powerful brand. This understanding is integrated into its packaging and product design. The marketers at Apple have mastered the customer engagement experience in their stores. Even the clothes Steve Jobs wears are part of the brand experience. And this doesn’t even touch the online experience, cultivation and nurturing of their followers, advertising, PR and overall marketing strategy. All that Apple does makes customers feel they are part of something hip and cool. With a few exceptions of course (that iPhone antennae issue sure didn’t help, but enormous brand equity certainly softened the impact).

This past week Microsoft showed it still has a handle on creating a powerful brand experience with the launch of Xbox Kinect. As the company moves to show Xbox providing something for everyone and being more than a gaming console, it created experiences that connected people to the brand. The launch event in Times Square alone positioned Xbox Kinect as the hottest thing on the market, with dancers showing off the capabilities with R&B star Ne-Yo at center stage. Throughout the year the company has created hands-on experiences for consumers to bring them close to the products and connect them to the brand. Microsoft just raised their forecasted holiday sales for the product from 3 to 5 million based on pre-sales and initial sales since last week’s launch, indicating their brand engagement and launch strategy will pay off. Time will tell in the coming weeks as holiday sales numbers are released.

The moral of these stories? When thinking about your brand, it’s important to consider how you weave the experience through every touch point you have with your target audiences — from your sales associates, retail presence, customer support and Web site to creating experiences that engage consumers directly via events and social media. And design together with innovation plays a critical role, especially in the consumer market where it can make or break the sale.

 Who are the companies you think truly get “branding?”


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