Kitchen Aid Tweet During Presidential Debate 2012 – This Shweets Crazy

So there are way too many (embarrassing) examples of a brand’s account being mistaken for someone’s personal account. Who can forget the infamous Chrysler incident?  Some harp on the issue with an anti-intern stance, because “companies might leave all that social media stuff for their inexperienced interns”, some realize that people just make mistakes – people are multi-tasking at rates that, well, shweets happen (my term for “shitty tweets”).

Yikes for @KitchenAidUSA because not only was their tweet “irresponsible”,  it was at the worst time ever: when pretty much everyone on Twitter is talking about the #debate, #debates, etc.

@KitchenAidUSA: Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’.

Screenshot of chatter on Twitter:


Apology by Kitchen Aid:


Brands typically don’t take political sides.  And even worse – let’s bring in the dead grandmother of the current President of the United States while the eyes of the entire nation are on the Obama / Romney debate AND talking about it in on Twitter at the same time…

Interested to see how this will play out if they issue any formal statements…


Enjoy Simplicity and Teach The Robot Dance

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I spent a majority of the weekend  with my family, which, with a busy work schedule, is sometimes a feat in and of itself.  I decided to put the Blackberry away and just enjoy the valuable time that we all take for granted when life demands more than seems possible and roadblocks can leave us at a screeching halt.

Enter Robot Dance.

There is no real way to define a robot dance, outside of confined arm and hand gestures, in, you guessed it, robot mode.  Perhaps the gentleman in the red shirt here is doing a phenomenal robot dance, (dance commences at ~ 48 seconds, and the “phenomenal” adjective is according to YouTube searches and video hits) or even this guy here (same criteria as above).

Well, take the concept, add a funny (albeit there is one criteria: robotic) voice and proceed to say “robot dance” over and over and dance like the robot in front of a two-year old.  Despite the initial looks of confusion, chances are, your actions will be mimicked.  I won’t lie and pretend that I have the exact statistics and/or links to childhood development regarding this behavior, but we all know, kids replicate behaviors.  After twenty minutes of trying to get this behavior mimicked, (I mean come on, a 2 year old saying “robot dance” and proceeding to do it, is adorable), great success! Behavior mimicked and we all had a great laugh.

About 24 hours later, and after re-entering the real world of work-life balance, I had long forgotten the robot dance.  And then, enter text messages.  Numerous text messages with pictures of my niece doing the robot dance all day, long after I left their home and long after I had forgotten about it myself.

Back at the office, all of my news and marketing RSS feeds remind me that Steve Jobs died last week as I have been consistently delivered new content with their editorial opinions and new interviews.  Apple set up an email account for the public to share their thoughts and memories.  Google, within hours of his passing, created a simple, yet powerful tribute to Jobs on their homepage linking to Apple’s website (Yes, the companies compete, but competition was put aside to honor one of the greatest visionaries of our time.)











We can’t all change the world as Steve Jobs might have.  But you can make a small difference.

I’m not a Mac enthusiast.  I own Mac products but I haven’t had the time to fully explore what they can do.  For me, the genius of Apple and of Steve Jobs is the focus on simplicity.  Not all ideas need to be executed upon.  Not all great ideas need to be executed upon.  The art of Steve Jobs is knowing, and having a team in place to help guide the strategy and tactics, to focus on key elements, not on all elements.

Was Apple and Steve Jobs a movement against “the man” (Just Google the Apple vs. Microsoft stances)?  Was Apple and Steve Jobs an example of employee engagement based on truths and passion?  Or was it just genius marketing?

For me, I cannot recall a time in history, at least in my life, in which a figure such as Steve Jobs, moved his consumers to a point where they took the company logo and recreated it in real-life by biting actual apples and leaving them at Apple retail locations all over the world, along with post it-notes and thank you cards at the time of his passing.  From Chicago to Beijing, the simple gesture is quite a powerful one.

Maybe it’s in teaching someone the robot dance – someone that will take the gesture, something that you put mild effort in – and whether it’s groundbreaking, it doesn’t matter.  It’s the thank you, the smile, the laughter.   It’s the simplicity.

Enjoy beauty.  Enjoy life.  Enjoy simplicity.


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005 

My Love/Hate Relationship with LinkedIn

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Please note:  The goal of my personal profile and “work” on LinkedIn is not to obtain a job or to be sourced for positions.  If job seeking were my goal, I could speak more to the experience of using LinkedIn for that purpose and would apply the appropriate tactics in order to build relationships with those that could assist in that goal. When you are attempting to use a social site in any regard, there must be a defined purpose and tactics tailored to that purpose.  This is true for both job seekers using LinkedIn, individuals looking for thought-leadership on Twitter, and also for corporate brands using social media to meet business initiatives.  Musings such as “So don’t bet on this as a place to get hired even if you’re active on the site like I am” are in no way a reflection of what this platform can or cannot do for you.  Simply, if you are actively looking for a job, you should not be reliant on a single tactic alone such as posting a profile on any website, posting a resume into a database or applying for a position.  There are other actions that you must take in order to produce better results in your job search.  It’s a competitive market, make sure you’re as creative as you can be in order to get in front of your intended audience.                                                              (Note added 1/19/2011)

Okay, so this doesn’t have much to do with LinkedIn as a social platform (I could spend hours on that subject as well), but more so of the behaviors of people that are on LinkedIn.  Actually, it has nothing to do with LinkedIn and the behaviors of people on that site in specific, but with people in general. LinkedIn, in this sense, is just a facilitator of human “behaviors” that irk me, so, unfortunately, LinkedIn as a social network becomes the front and center impetus for the following example(s).

After spending a good year or so analyzing user behaviors within online social networks, you begin to see patterns.

Social Learning #1: People really don’t act much differently online than they do in real life.

As an avid LinkedIn user as well as a social network analyst, LinkedIn is a powerful tool.  Too bad no one knows how to use it.

Will LinkedIn (or a professional “online profile”) replace a traditional resume?  Absolutely not. There are certain things within resumes that help sell candidates that should never be posted publicly.  Like what?  Try, sales numbers, revenue growth, confidential projects and the nature of those learnings, etc.  It’s a complement not a replacement. Funny how LinkedIn now wants your resume for you to now have a “complete” profile.  I am curious how many people upload in order to fulfill that achievement, “Your profile is 100% complete!”.  Who cares?  An official resume shouldn’t be shared publicly if you are not an active job seeker.  And even then, you must keep some things private (trust me, I’ve seen more than my fair share of public resume snafu’s – but I digress).

So we hit on job seeking and the reverse – candidate sourcing (kind of). So what else do your professional relationships help with (aka, what else is LinkedIn good for)?  Sales. As in selling things on a corporate standpoint where you source buyers and corporate hierarchies so you find your appropriate decision makers.

Does LinkedIn make it easy for you to source leads?  Yes, of course.  It’s a public (when logged-in) user-generated professional network.  People put up their professional histories and education and “perform” the social dance of “this is who I know”.  Then they put up their blogs and their slideshare and powerpoint presentations and join groups and ask and answer questions so their entire networks (and those viewing their profiles) can have a better scope of “this is what I know.” You can argue that this is done on LinkedIn as a passive aggressive way to say “hire me”, or “buy from me” after we have solidified our online relationship. So, no harm, no foul.  As humans this is natural behavior to connect with others and to gratify feelings of our self worth.

So, why do I hate LinkedIn?  Because people don’t know how to use it.  People don’t know how to create relationships. People don’t know how to sell themselves and/or their service.  LinkedIn’s fault? No, absolutely not.

I can’t count on my fingers and toes the amount of cold calls I have received in the last year based on my LinkedIn profile.  Is anyone trying to hire me? No. (So don’t bet on this as a place to get hired even if you’re active on the site like I am).  Is anyone trying to sell me something based on “we share a group” and “you work at a huge company”?  Yes.  Every single one of them.

How many people have I called back? None.  Why? Because their messages are irrelevant to me and I don’t waste people’s time and I expect the same of others.  I’m active on social sites so with a minor amount of research you can find out what I do and tailor your sales pitch to me.  LinkedIn,  narcissism, and the internet itself have made this research available to you at no charge.  On top of that, people are narcissists and social networks, blogs, micro-blogs, location based platforms magnify this behavior and social longing.  Use it to your advantage when you’re sourcing for your leads, please.

After all of these horrendous cold calls, I tweeted this:  

(I’m in social media and everyone cold-calling me knows this because they sourced me on LinkedIn to sell me their social media crap – so you would think, “Venetta is involved with social media, it looks like she is passionate about it, her blog is on her LinkedIn profile (that I am sourcing from), oh and look, her Twitter account is attached.   Let me see if there is anything I can use from those sites to help tailor my pitch to something that could be relevant to her. Or, if all else fails, it looks like she has an affinity for dogs.  Maybe I can mention my dog/cat/bird/whatever and reference her dog(s) to make it look like I at least kind of care or went through the motions just to create some conversation and common ground”  This is not a stretch, we’re talking about social media here, something I am deeply involved in and something I am being targeted for on a purchasing standpoint. And really, come on, my name is incredibly easy when it comes to finding me through a simple Google search. Social Learning #2:  People love talking about themselves.  They really do.)

Then, I get a cold-call from Leanne (her full name is being protected because I don’t want to embarrass her or put her company in any jeopardy).  Awesome.  She sees my company on my profile and calls the general corporate number and they transfer her over.  I don’t pick up calls that are routed this way for this exact reason.  She leaves a horrible voicemail talking about her company and the only reason I listen to the full message is so I learn from her mistakes and never do this on any calls I ever make.

Then, Leanne sends an email. (Feel free to click on the image if you care to read it)

At this point, I am only assuming that she used my LinkedIn profile to find me.

So, I double check.  (And thank you LinkedIn for this feature, because I love seeing who views my profile, it helps my personal narcissism grow.  Not being facetious, I love this feature).  And there is my Leanne:

Is LinkedIn the greatest (free) business tool of all time?  That might be a stretch, but yes, perhaps.  Will it ever work for sales and recruitment?  Yes, absolutely.  I’m afraid no one I’ve ever come in contact with knows how to use it in combination with other (free) research in order to achieve their goals (in Leanne’s case, selling me something).  I looked into her company (only because I was writing this).   Do they have a decent service that I would consider? Actually, yes.  Would I buy from them?  No.  Why?  See above.

Sales 101 and social media 101 both have taught us that no one cares about you and no one cares about me.  Social Learning #3: You are irrelevant (as a brand, product, service and person) until you tie your offering to what the other person wants and/or needs.

Be a good human, good recruiter, good salesperson first and then have at the tools within your reach.  They work better that way.

Sometimes You Just Have To Cut Your Own Hair Off

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For me, my hair is my darling.

That doesn’t sound right as it implies that I am vain and that classic literature (and the characters of classic literature) and the mop on my head are one of the same.  Not what I mean. I’m comfortable with my hair. My hair is my adulthood blankie.  I’m fine with that.  Don’t judge me.

According to the United States Department of Labor, it is a common misconception that 80% of small businesses fail within the first five years.  Instead, between the years of 1992 and 1996, only 17% of small businesses closed due to bankruptcy or “other failures” in 1997 (because 1997 would be the five year mark/time-frame in question for this… yes, it confused me too at first). Granted, these numbers are over a decade old, and we don’t want to scare away entrepreneurship with ridiculously high failure rates – I get that.

Erring on the side of older-than-a-decade-optimisitc percentages that are over 60% less than the common misconception (Real people speak – these numbers are insanely low AND from 1997), 17% is still a considerable number when you factor in the amount of darlings that went into the start-up.  Your traditional, and well over-used “blood, sweat, and tears” of the 17% of these ventures in question would likely equate to an overwhelming pool of bodily secretions.

And then, begin to factor in the departments within companies, the failed divisions, the poor innovations, the non-profitable areas that barely function in the large scope of the organization.  Part of the 17% of actual failures?  No, not quite.  But hundreds of thousands, hundreds of millions, probably, of dying darlings that were killed by the mothers, fathers, adopted parents and familial units, thereby ending the lifespan of hundreds of thousands/millions of bad ideas and an equal, if not more, amount of true innovations.

Most of the time, the darling needs to go.  It’s impeding the bottom line of something.

But, the other times, the darling just doesn’t get the love it deserves.

The case of Bebo fascinates me. In April of this year, AOL decided to pull the plug on the once successful social networking site, mostly popular in Europe.  The site was purchased for $850 million in 2008 and then, well, sold for peanuts. Criterion Capitol Partners LLC bought the site for less than $10 million. After being acquired by AOL, Bebo employees claim that they lacked the funding needed, both on a financial as well as development standpoint in order to successfully compete in the marketplace.  Well, at a loss of about $840 million, it’s clear that this was a darling that didn’t have a chance on a strategic standpoint after the acquisition. AOL: You probably should have given them more resources and strategized more effectively as to how this network could figure into your larger content based strategy.

And then, there are the dreamers.  Theatre in high school got me through it all – the awkwardness, the boredom.  I was told I was good.  I was told I should have continued, somehow in the performing arts.  I see friends and acquaintances, old teachers and the like and the question always remains, “why didn’t you continue with it?”.  As Hedda Gabler, “You were better than Martha Plimpton!”  And so began my nickname from those that knew me years ago, “Corporate” (because, and so apropos, I went corporate).  And for me, letting go of theatre was my first real meaningful darling I had to let go.

And then offing my darlings became a little easier.

Find a way to take your loves, your true loves in what you do and apply them to your mundane.  You’ll have to kill them most of the time in order to move  forward.  We can’t all win Academy Awards and fraternize with the Zuckerberg’s of the world.  But quite honestly, the darlings will never truly die.  Even Faulkner knew that, and you can see the similarities across some of his most popular pieces.

Plus, this was only a chunk of an otherwise ridiculous mass.

John Quelch’s “Marketing Your Way Through a Recession”. Harvard, I Expect More From You.

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The elements of John Quelch’s 2008 recessionary marketing tips are important considerations for corporations considering their marketing plans in 2008 and 2009. But, Quelch hasn’t considered the “Long Tail of the Consumer” and the groundswell’s importance in these post-capitalistic times. The arguments that Quelch makes are outdated, better suited for the 1980’s U.S recession, or even for the bust in the late 1990’s. The power of technology and the adaption of interactive marketing that have dominated our society and marketing initiatives within the last decade are non-existent within this post. Really, Harvard? This is what you pay professor and resident blogger Quelch for?

I’ll give Quelch one thing – he makes a good simple point to research the customer to learn how “consumers are redefining value and responding to the recession.” This is a key element to corporate success and redefining brand value propositions when consumers are less likely to be loyal to certain products and brands. It’s shocking that still, in 2010, most companies can’t define their consumer image or just turn a blind eye to what people are really saying about their brand. 

The incorporation of simple brand management techniques, as discussed in Chris Anderson’s The Longer Long Tail and Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’sGroundswell, are not as common as you’d think. Despite the simplicity and ease that technology offers, according to Anderson, in his 2008 Long Tail adaption, “you’d be surprised how many companies don’t know the answer [to what their consumers say about them and their competition]. They don’t Google themselves” (231). Though recessions often present opportunities for marketers – Quelch’s lack of interactive marketing strategies lands short.

Quelch’s dusty dogma fails to properly assess marketing spend during a recession, most importantly, this recession during the same digital era (i.e, Quelch wrote this article just months before the financial free fall in September of 2008 while digital spend was still gaining momentum) Although it is a documented trend that “uncertain consumers need the reassurance of known brands” (Quelch), Quelch’s suggestion to increase television ad spend during tough economic times again fails to consider the decrease in importance that these media play in consumer influence during the current digital age.

Taking into consideration the following:

  • “McKinsey, the consultancy, projects that by 2010 advertising on broadcast television will be barely one-third as effective as it was in 1990” (Anderson 225)
  • What the Forrester Research team identified as the “Groundswell”, published just a month after Mr. Quelch’s article: “A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations” (Li and Bernoff, 9).
  • The Forrester US Interactive Marketing Forecast
Okay, okay, I get the rebuttal, these figures weren’t even published at the time that Quelch and Harvard published the article. So… let’s see what was available to us/him in an era so long, long ago in 2008:
  • In TNS Media’s 2007 Intelligence Reports, all media spend decreased from 2006 to 2007, with the exception of the Internet, which grew by 1% point
  • MC Marketing Charts reports Nielsen data for 2007, with “Internet display advertising continued its growth leadership, increasing 15.9% in 2007 to $11.31 billion in expenditures” compared to “television media, full-year Network TV expenditures declined by 2.0% to $22.43 billion”
  • Digital Marketing Guru, Mitch Joel publishes TV Viewing is Down As Internet Usage Continues to Rise? Not Exactly in November 2008. And although it appears that Mitch’s post reveals Quelch’s point… not exactly. Not exactly at all. Traditional media is fragmented, “DVR usage continues to rise and American’s spent more than 6 hours per month watching TV that was time-shifted. On top of that 31% of those watching all of that TV were also online at the same time.”
Quelch misses the mark with the following: “when economic hard times loom, we tend to retreat to our village,” for a suggested marketing focus on family values. And I absolutely agree. But… coupled with the decrease in television advertising effectiveness, and more so, with what Anderson calls a fundamental marketing shift where “selling doesn’t work” (The Longer Long Tail, 225), Quelch undermines the importance of technology to support his point. Quelch fails to mention how powerful social technologies are in “retreating” to the village. A village in which the consumer can now create (Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the list goes on). And is it a coincidence that social media usage is growing rapidly amongst global economic chaos? Doubtful. Agreed, “uncertainty prompts us to stay home but also stay connected with family and friends”. Yet, Anderson’s “fragmentation of marketing” (225) and Joel’s “fragmented media” are pieces of the puzzle that are missing in his suggestions. More attention to marketing plans are needed during the recession, more precision, more strategy, but not in the traditional media that focused upon with a disregard for the digital explosion.
I agree with the spirit of Quelch’s article, though there are numerous factors omitted that would better reflect the current marketplace in which we all live. Quelch’s major flaw lies in not discussing the elements of technology that are currently shaping communication. In the “new landscape of influence” shaped by technology (Anderson 235), consumers are connecting to each other in self-built online communities. People trust what those in their own personal networks say, not what a company is broadcasting as the message of the week. True, “successful companies do not abandon their marketing strategies in a recession, they adapt them” (Quelch). Unfortunately, there isn’t any insight in how to best adapt such strategies in the midst of a recession amidst the groundswell – two prime opportunities for marketers and consumers to become best acquainted.

(Again, not necessarily so timely, but moving content over from my original publishing on Blogger)

Starbucks & Nescafe – Counterproductive Nescafe Campaign?

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So… Starbucks is Starbucks. Their brand is synonymous with luxury all over the world. Numerous books have been written regarding what Starbucks has done to create such strong brand equity with a commodity – my personal favorite The Starbucks Experience – regarding the brand (love it, or hate it), behind the coffee giant.

As the recession deepens, Starbucks is feeling the pain with an 8% decrease to $2.3B in the first quarter of 2009. Expenses were reduced to $120 Million while consumers become stingier with their discretionary income but still feeding their need for caffeine.

(This is an ad campaign from May-ish of 2009 – Post originally published on my Blogger blog, but am transitioning some content over)Combatting the ideas that their coffee is more expensive than it is worth, Starbucks unveiled a new campaign (part of the city wall poster seen above). CEO, Howard Schultz, discusses the Starbucks story – “It’s not just coffee. It’s Starbucks” here. Starbucks, Schultz asserts, will break outside of it’s coffee bean shell. With the historic campaign (Starbucks is not an avid advertising company), Starbucks will focus on their overall experience, rather than the coffee itself.

Makes sense, in the middle of the recession, as consumers do not have the time, and quite frankly no one looks to brand names when they are on unsure of their job stability, to promote “Starbucks Via”, a ready-brew, at a fraction of the cost, as an attempt to stay on top of the easy-to-self-make coffee drink capturing (possibly recapturing) market share lost to McCafe and cheaper coffee alternatives.

Taking a look at a concurrent coffee advertising campaign – Nescafe, on the other hand, is trying to capitalize on the Anti-Starbucks sentiment shared by numerous consumers. As a corporate conglomorate, Starbucks faces criticism for their “over-priced” coffee, labor issues, fair trade, real estate practices, et al. The Nescafe campaign, part of which can be seen in the photos above, is counterproductive.

As seen on many billboards, specifically in the Chicagoland area, their usage of “Starbucks Via” as the front runner of the text on their campaign, might be causing the opposite of their initial intent. Driving in my car, on the bus, walking my dogs, “Stabucks Via” is the first thing that I see. Capturing an audience that is mobile (as with most forms of OOH advertising), marketers and advertisers have a limited time to capture their audience. The message is completely lost amidst the Starbucks campaign itself, further fueling brand recognition for Starbucks. Arguably, “Starbucks Via” is more compelling than the Nescafe logo at the bottom of their ad.

Not the smartest move, Nescafe. The message makes sense, the Anti-Starbucks target makes sense. The media chosen is too expensive to share the platform with the competition. Nescafe is advertising for Starbucks. They are sharing their message with an organization that they are trying to combat. They are using precious marketing and advertising dollars in an economically sensitive time to further promote a brand they are advertising against…

(This campaign originally ran in April-May of 2009.  My original post was on Blogger on May, 18, 2009)