Monday, 21 July 2014

Ready to Dominate the World?

I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive when I booked the flights to Portland (OR) a few months ago. The more I read about the upcoming World Domination Summit, the more I realised that this was not a business event (well - not JUST a business event) and more of an event where an epiphany might happen.  In fact it was too tempting to default to subverting the event fort being just that little bit hippy-trippy. Organic Tofu? Comes in Bland and Extra-Bland…Only in Portlandia.  As a belligerent old duffer, was this a good fit for me at this time of rebirth in my own business plans?

You’re darn tootin!  (Our Dallas team would be proud of my Texas vernacular)

3000 Entrepreneurs - creative ones - descending on the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for a long weekend of inspirational sessions and interactive meet-ups, made the room crackle with excited energy as we waited for everything to begin. Even before this omen we’d all been sharing stories and smiling knowingly at each other like only WE knew the secrets to the future and were about to get validated on them.  Of course, we were just as ignorant as the next guy, but we FELT privileged.

Over the next three blog posts I will talk about the three values of the event. 

  1. Community
  2. Adventure
  3. Action

For more comprehensive notes on the vent, there are even now (just 5 days later) literally dozens of blogs ready to read as reviews and feelings about the event.   Take a look at Scott Berkun’s excellent notes (he spoke at the event on the last day) for a comprehensive and intelligent appraisal of the event and the speakers.

Part 1.     Community
This, for me, was the most powerful component of the event. This feeling that you were a part of a movement. A cause. The New World.  Based on giving / sharing / paying it forward. Doing that little thing you didn’t have to do. What’s that? - you don’t have time - well that’s about productivity - and there’s an app for that.  Or at least an attendee meet-up or academy session. 

The sense of community here was palpable. From getting your latte paid for by another person in line  with a green badge on cos you had no change on you, to joining in a 400-strong Bollywood dance lesson at the gig on Sunday night.  Walking around Portland’s beautiful downtown area, there was a sea of smiles and a wave of acknowledgement that you were part of a shared experience.  Apart from the main Concert Hall sessions, there were 30-40 more events put on by attendees, registered on the event site and approved by the organisers (usually within an hour or two).  Plus the “academy” sessions - practical advice and training on things like blogging or productivity.  All in all, the event had a feeling of being a festival, not a conference.

It was summer camp for business owners.  The friends I made last weekend will be with me for a long time. And the fact that I was able to contribute with my own meet up made me feel a part of an elite tribe of pioneers.  But there is a cost to all this comradeship. I also made a promise to do a big brave thing. I promised to attend next year and bring copies of my new book for everyone who was at my meet-up. This was my pledge, and I daren’t let them, or myself, down.

This is where inspiration people go to get inspired.  

Next episode? Adventure.

(Note to self - these people were the most consistently attractive and healthy looking crowd I'd ever seen. I need to lose weight and tone up so that I don't look like a Morlock amongst the Eloi)







Monday, 9 June 2014

All you need is love


In a recent blog post by the corporate video arm of ITN (UK News Network), Charlotte De Maria, (Account Manager at ITN Productions)  delivers 6 top tips informing B2B marketers how to make video more engaging using B2C video techniques. Whilst this is excellent advice, I can't help thinking that this is somewhat old news. 


Having said that, I guess that all marketing departments and professionals are on a curve, with early adopters already enjoying things like the DSLR revolution (a way to get that cinematic look at low cost), and realising that it's ideas, not information, that get the most attention.

This is all about falling in love. Really.  With corporate videos (and that term right there will kill any embers of an emotional engagement!) there's often lots of information - there might even be a story. But where is the love?

The most important thing is to let marketers realise that they need to find good partners to work with (this kind of production is a specialty after all) and TRUST THEM. Then look at objectives. 


For example: If you are a temp agency, the objective is not to make a video. The objective is to place more temps at a lower cost of sale. Too many marcomms people think that the act of making the video is the objective. Like you can just assume it'll do some good.

Whatever your thoughts on video - we are here to solve a business problem. And video (I like to still call it film - it's more storytelling-friendly) is better at presenting the emotional story rather then the information surrounding the argument for the sale.

My advice? Get them to fall in love first. 


Then add information until the prospect has nowhere to go but towards you. Do NOT lead with complexity.

We just do not have the time to engage with such detail until we've fallen for you.

If I love you, every little thing you do is magic



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Corporate Branding Videos - Don't you just love them?

I love that a firm who sells generic stock photos should create a parody of the type of video for which their footage is often used in the first place.

This is brave marketing. I suspect that what they are really saying, is that you, Mr Stock Footage Customer, should try to think of more original ways to use our stuff.

But for some - that will be a leap. And we just ridiculed them (with good cause I might add).

So by doing this, we may well be saying that we really want the right kind of customers. The cool guys pay the same as the squares, but we want the cool guys. I wonder why it matters?

The film is here. Enjoy!

vimeo.com/m/89527215 



Thursday, 30 January 2014

Leading With Complexity

It never ceases to amaze me how many companies think that their one first contact with new customers should contain the entire argument for their product or service.

As we work in film making, it's usually our brief to get attention. To make a prospect curious, engaged, aware - all of those things.

This is the first and sometimes ONLY remit of a film that is intended as somewhat viral. It needs to lead with a single, simple takeaway concept that will lead to a conversation. Then it's up to the account manager.

So consider all of the talking-heads corporate videos you've ever seen, then look at these neat little films we made for Tripwire in Portland, Oregon.  They certainly get attention, and they start conversations.  

Job done.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Quietly Rolling Along

So here we are - I am on a train (the second of the day and it's only 9.30 am -how can this be? I tell you in a bit).  I like trains because I can write stuff and think without too much distraction. So I want to write now about the imprtance of quiet time. It's as important as stimulation. Yes - the right kind of stimulation is important of course.  

As creatives we need to be challenged regularly or we get bored, and to experience things outside our comfort zones.  You need to feed your creative beast, as it were.

It is for this reason I started a scheme where I will pay for tickets to events / films / shows / happenings / exhibitions etc that my team want to see. The qualifier?  IT'S GOT TO BE UNUSUAL IN SOME WAY.

However,  without quiet time, when can you make sense of the tons of input you've had from all therse experiences and inspirations?  If you want to make better stories, arguements or ideas, schedule in some quiet time. OR make better use of the downtime you have as a natural part of being a business traveller. I say business traveller because if you are one of the many troubador poets and comedians that read this, you will already have this time available to you as part of your bohemian lifestyle, denied to us "Normal" business entreprenurs and workers.

Normal people can be creative and apply this creativity to solve many of the very tough and nuanced issues in our lives, but only if we give it some respect. Quiet time is the way to respect our thinking. Do it. It works.

Next time you are waiting in a reception area, close your eyes and think about the last time you were surprised. When you are on a  train, think about the last time you were inspired, or educated. Just think.  I bet this little mediation will end with you scrabbling for a pen to write an idea or connection down somewhere so you don't forget it.

On a practical note, might I recommend Evernote as a great way to collate these ideas and moments. It's a cloud thing so you can't lose it. Very good for the ADHD among us. 


Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Guys in the Cardigans


One of our customers have won something like 12 Nobel Prizes. And they seem to be keeping it a secret.

Is it OK to be the guy in the cardigan…?
Only if you rock the world of the cardigan. Let me explain…

We love experts. In life, in fiction - those people who have "a particular set of skills"…like in the bodyguard, or the movie "Taken" or The Mentalist, or an ace hacker, or anyone, really, who can do that thing no-one else can.  Which is why when it comes to being the guys in the cardigans, it's probably okay that they have little style, or social confidence.

You guys know stuff. The problem is - you are not experts in presenting yourselves to the world (hence the cardigan). Which is why you need experts of another type. For example - look at BOSE. They are the tech head audiophiles sound products of choice. Super high quality, engineered to within a micron of what's reasonable, beautiful audio products. BUT - when it comes to their product videos, they look like they've been made by your Nan.  The are super sickly sweet, safe, and chock full of tech speak (though even tech heads buy a marketing dream for themselves sometimes. 

In a way - it's okay though - because I know exactly why i am buying the new Bose Sound Dock Mini (oh yeah…consumer tech porn baby…read it and weep lads..). I already know who they are. The guys in the cardigans.

What if your target audience are not exactly sure of why they should buy you? What if it's not the right reason? Cost?  - Lets hope not - we don't want to be all commoditised now do we? We want to be bought because we are the best at what we do. 

So, Be the guys in cardigans - but make sure the world knows why.