Which profession drinks the most coffee?

Considering that I made it 32 years without drinking coffee (6 of those were in the US Navy), and my first real cup of coffee was in Costa Rica in 2007, some might think it strange that I would post about coffee.  But I did find this one interesting.  After all, coffee drinkers do live longer, right?

With two kids and a busy job, I need coffee as much as anyone these days — and not because my profession is number two on this list.  Did your job make the list?

Graphic built by Ryoko Iwata.

Photo credit: Gizmodo

A New Chapter

After nearly five and a half years at the University of San Diego, I’ve decided to leave for a new job with Vistage International.  This move for me is bittersweet, since I have enjoyed my time at USD and I’ve built so many great friendships.  My new role will be as a marketing manager for a program called Vistage Inside, and I’m really excited about the new challenges I’ll face there.

My work with the MS in Global Leadership program has touched the lives of more than 350 graduate students in 24 cohorts  (myself included, as I graduated from the program in 2008).  I’ve become friends with many of these alums, and continue to enjoy hearing how they’ve made an impact in the world.

Our word-of-mouth marketing has remained a strong part of the recruiting strategy, and stands as a testament to the quality of the program and the level of satisfaction of our students.  We’ve made great strides using social media to communicate with alumni, students and prospective students.  More than two years ago we established a student-written blog and created more ways for them to tell the world about their experiences in a graduate business program that strayed from the traditional MBA.

I’m leaving behind a business school that has built a lot of momentum in the past few years.  The part-time MBA program was recently ranked #14 in the US by Bloomberg BusinessWeek and many of the same A+ faculty from that survey teach in the MSGL program as well.  As the USD school of business administration continues to gain attention on the national stage, so does the MS in Global Leadership.

My time with USD included two trips to China (Beijing and Shanghai), two trips to Buenos Aires, and numerous recruiting trips around the US.

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My time at USD will always hold a special place in my heart, since it was during these five years that I met my wife, got married, and welcomed our first child into the world.  I’m thankful for the time I’ve been able to spend with my son during his first (almost) two years, and the work-life balance I’ve enjoyed has been a situation most could only hope for.

Moves like this don’t happen without a lot of help.  And help shouldn’t go unrecognized.  So many people have been a part of my professional network for the past few years – offering advice, making introductions, writing recommendations, and providing encouragement.  Bob Schoultz, Dean Dave Pyke, and Stephanie Kiesel were instrumental in my professional development over the past several years.  Their support of my learning and development in the marketing community has been incredible.  Special thanks to Bob for giving me the opportunity to work at USD in 2006 and for his support, guidance, leadership, and friendship for the past 5+ years.  Thanks to the rest of the MSGL team – Stephanie, Sam, & Suzy for always having my back.

There are so many others I could (and should) thank here – but my word count tells me I’m already beyond 500.  If we got together for coffee, had lunch, exchanged emails, talked on the phone, met at a conference, grabbed a beer, tweeted, LinkedIn, Facebooked, or traded business cards – you deserve thanks.  It’s highly likely that your influence helped me reach this point in my career and I’m happy to have you as a part of my network.  If I can ever return the favor…

Most of all, thanks to my incredible wife Danielle for all your love and support.  I love you.

Stay tuned as I embark on my next adventure.  I’m anxious to get started, but first – let’s enjoy a great holiday season!

7 Facts About Content Sharing on the Web

It’s no secret that the American Marketing Association hosts great events to educate, support, and connect marketing professionals.  I’m continually blown away by the quality of the content I get at each of the events, and this past week was no exception.  [Disclaimer: I’ve been an AMA member since 2008 and currently serve as VP of Membership for 2011-2012]

Thursday’s event featured Kristin Kovner, Senior Director of Marketing, AOL Advertising.  Kristin’s presentation, “Is Content the Fuel of the Web?” included recent findings from a case study done by AOL and Nielsen on internet users’ habits and attitudes on the major social networks.  In a nutshell, she broke down what types of content people share, with whom they share it, and on which social networks this is all taking place.

Here are my top 7 takeaways from Kristin’s data-filled presentation:

  1. Email is not dead.  Despite what some people will tell you, email is still the most popular place that internet users share content.  66% of internet users share content by email, as compared with only 28% on our beloved social networks.
  2. Industry-specific conversations get the most love.  Research showed that 60% of social media posts (mainly Facebook and Twitter) that are industry specific include an explicit brand mention.  Tweets from industry-specific conversations contain a link to some type of content (usually product information) a remarkable 73% of the time (as compared with only 42% of the time for conversations not related to a specific industry).
  3. 99% of people sharing via social networks are sharing via multiple platforms.
  4. Social network sharers are 17% more likely to be femaleexcept on Google+ (which wasn’t included since this study was done in Q1 of 2011).
  5. People tend to share with their close networks of trusted friends – not publicly (despite Facebook’s continued efforts to make privacy settings so confusing you don’t know who you’re sharing with).  This one may be a little harder for power users on Twitter to understand, since they sometimes tend to broadcast everything to everyone.
  6. Only 4% of shared content links back to a company website.  This one is important.  Businesses have to realize that conversations about their brands are happening in places other than their site and most of it never sends consumers to a company URL.
  7. Marketers can capitalize on people’s sharing habits in two ways.  1). Produce branded, sharable content (think videos with your products in them that are easy for people to share – like the Coca-Cola happiness machine campaign); and 2).  Be present with display advertising when the conversations are taking place away from your website (think display ads on YouTube for viral videos not produced by your company/affiliates, but related to your product or industry).

All in all, it was a great presentation – a flurry of numbers, but great information for those of us looking to “engage” consumers where they interact most.  The full report (along with other great research presentations) can be found on the AOL Advertising site.

Does anything above surprise you about how content is shared on the web?

My Blog: A Year in Review

Last week marked my 1-year anniversary of starting my own personal blog.  Since I’ve actually stuck with it and kept somewhat of a regular schedule, I now have a lot to look back on.  Thanks to all of you who have read, commented, and linked to my blog this year.

My Family at Grand Canyon - Sometime in the 80s

When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:

  1. Write about subjects that interest me, such as marketing, technology, social media, travel, music
  2. Write at least one post per month.

As for the first goal, this one was easy.  I find a lot of interesting things on the web and I like to stay current on the newest social media trends.  I didn’t write much about music (besides recapping the concerts I’ve attended), but maybe I’ll do more with that in the next 12 months.

With 34 posts under my belt, goal number two was easily met.

So what were my favorite posts?

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

My personal favorite (mainly because it includes a strong reference to the movie Caddyshack) was my short blog on Klout, the new service that measures online “influence.”

My most visited post was written about what we can learn from the Chilean miner rescue from a leadership standpoint.

I also enjoyed writing (and re-reading this week) all my posts about my family and travel.  Honorable mention goes to my posts on marketing and related events I’ve attended.

So where will the next year take me?  Who knows.  I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.

Lunch with 3 San Diego Agency Creative Directors

You may already know that I’m currently serving as VP of Membership for the San Diego Chapter of the American Marketing Association.  You may also know that I regularly attend the local AMA events: lunches, happy hours, board meetings.  What you may not realize is how much value I’ve gotten from these events and the relationships I continue to build.

Today was certainly no exception.  I attended a panel discussion with roughly 50 other San Diego marketers and we heard some great insight from three creative directors at local marketing/advertising/branding agencies.

First, the panel:

Screen shot from BASIC Agency's Website

I took a few notes on what I found most interesting from the discussion, so here goes.

Global Approach
The moderator asked a question along the lines of, “how do you manage branding and marketing campaigns in today’s global market?”  The panel’s response highlighted the importance of having solid market research for different segments, cultures, and regions.  What works in one culture may not resonate with another.  Matt pointed out that they work on finding a common story to tell for a particular brand and then localize that message when needed.

Marketing Trends
The panel was asked to provide their perspective on recent trends in marketing, related to their life in an agency.  Daiga explained that she’s currently seeing clients ask for a 3-5 year road map for campaigns, showing that businesses are increasingly tying digital marketing results to their overall business strategy.  Michael pointed out that clients these days are enamored with buzzwords and what’s hot.  He continues to remind them that the newest tools (namely, social media platforms) aren’t the cure to all problems, but instead can be integrated into an existing marketing mix for better results.

Quotable moments
“Strategy will never be a commodity.”  — Daiga, when asked about her thoughts on the future of digital marketing

“We don’t always base decisions on research only.  Testing is important, but it doesn’t always reveal true sentiment – especially with new technology.” — Matt Faulk, when asked about the importance of market research

Once again, a completely insightful and enjoyable afternoon with the San Diego Chapter of the American Marketing Association.  Thanks to our esteemed panel and moderator for keeping the discussion lively and interesting.  If you’re interested in becoming a member, talk to me.  Or you can just show up at a future event and see what we’re all about.

What are your thoughts on the Creative Directors responses?

The New Rules for Content

My content is crap… sometimes.  That’s what I learned this morning at the Social Media Breakfast San Diego (#SMBSD).

Local radio and creative professional Chris Cantore teamed up with Ryan Berman, founder and chief creative officer of Fishtank Brand Advertising to give us a no-fluff primer on creating content for the web.  Here’s more of what I learned.

1.  “Find your brand.  And whatever you do, defend it.”  — Ryan Berman.  This is a good one for me to remember.  If it doesn’t support your personal or company brand, why add to the digital clutter by re-posting, re-tweeting, or otherwise giving it time?

2.

3.  Cantore related the new ‘rules’ of social media to his early days in the San Diego radio scene:  “It’s not about you, it’s about connecting with the fans.  Stay authentic and true to your own personal brand.”

4.  Berman highlighted an incredibly successful campaign that his company created for Puma Golf, where players and fans can actually ‘talk’ to the game of golf on the Puma website.  This out-of-the box thinking recently helped Berman and Fishtank win “American Marketer of the Year” (AMY) Award from the local chapter of the American Marketing Association.  Another great example of creating interactive content and a visual identity that speaks to the target consumer and bucks the traditional golf branding and advertising model.

Screen shot from Puma.com/golf

5.  A Flip cam with great content can be extremely effective for small businesses with little or no video budget.  Create content that resonates with your audience and gives your brand life.  [See my own epic Flip cam production]

6.  Look at other industries who are doing great work with content creation.  For great video integration, check out “digital storytellers” Emota Inc, today’s sponsor and brains behind some incredible visual content.  Other shouts went out to the Foo Fighters, Conan O’brien — and locally to Smashburger, NBC San Diego, and the Fox 5 morning show as good examples.

I enjoyed meeting a few new folks and having the chance to chat with Berman and Cantore, both of whom are completely down-to-earth guys with whom you’d certainly enjoy having a beer and fish taco.  I also enjoyed the fact that the focus was on the content – not the platforms/delivery.

Those were my take-aways – if you were there, what did I miss?

Is 2011 The Year of Mobile?

If you’re in marketing, you may have heard that this is the year of mobile… every year since 2006. While mobile phones have been around for quite some time, it seems we’re only now hitting critical mass with respect to smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. ComScore recently reported that 50% of all mobile phones purchased in the US are smartphones (the other 50% are called feature phones).  Add to that the growing number of tablets being sold, and we just might be in the middle of the year of mobile.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to hear a couple of mobile marketing experts speak recently – one at an American Marketing Association lunch event (these are always great, by the way), and the other at Interactive Day San Diego.

First, Mike Schlegel from a company called Millennial Media provided some interesting insight from his work in the mobile space in recent years.  Here are the biggest takeaways I got from his presentation:

  1. Browsing behavior varies greatly by platform.  Mobile phone users search, browse and interact differently than tablet users, for example.  This means there is no one-size-fits-all solution for mobile marketers.
  2. Mobile activity spikes happen on weekends, holidays, and during special events (think Super Bowl) – and during the primetime hours on weekdays.  Mike was careful to point out that marketers shouldn’t ignore the ‘other’ times during the week, but instead embrace those as an opportunity to target specific user behaviors (i.e. restaurants offering coupons during weekday lunch hours).
  3. Don’t forget about the feature phone users.  Sure, it’s trendy for marketers to pay attention to the latest Android or iPhone users, but Mike reminded us of the feature phone users who also have needs (some of whom can be reached by simple SMS campaigns)

I also had a chance to hear Dan Flanegan speak at Interactive Day San Diego on June 1.  Dan’s company, Brand Anywhere, is a leading San Diego-based mobile marketing company.  Dan gave some great examples of targeted mobile campaigns that have resonated very well with consumers.  Working with major brands, Dan has helped some big names in advertising create and leverage successful mobile campaigns to foster brand loyalty from consumers who could possibly become life-long repeat users of that brand’s products.

So how can mobile advertising be useful to the consumer?  Imagine standing in a store about to make a purchase.  If you didn’t do your research (or if things have changed since you left home), how do you know if you’re getting the best price on what your about to buy? Using a mobile app like Shopkick, you can now find coupons, incentives, and even be rewarded for your loyalty at a particular store.  As you scan a particular bar code, marketers can serve up ads that make sense for you – whether that’s a coupon, a competitor’s store, or a pitch to buy the same item online for less.

In a rapidly-evolving mobile world, the possibilities are endless – both for marketers and for stores and brands to provide real value to consumers.  To me, mobile marketing seems to be a very crowded space right now, but I’m anticipating some breakout mobile apps to take the lead within the next year.  With the amount of growth in the segment, there’s still room for lots of players to do well – at least for now.

What do you think?  Is 2011 the year of mobile?

What is a QR Code?

What is a QR code?  I saw this question recently from a self-proclaimed “marketing consultant” I follow on Twitter.  Got me thinking that this might be a good post topic, since Quick Response (QR) codes aren’t quite mainstream… yet.

What is it?

First, the required Wikipedia definition:  A QR code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Scan the QR Code with your smart phone for a surprise... really, try it!

How do I use it?

Great, but what does this mean for your marketing plan?  Well, for starters – a lot.  I’m starting to see QR codes appear more often in airports, major retailers, and even places like the San Diego Zoo.  QR codes are popping up in advertisements, on store windows, and even large in-store displays.

QR codes can be used for almost anything:  directing consumers to your website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, Google Places page, a YouTube video, a coupon, a contest entry page, a photo, a lead capture form – the possibilities are endless.  Smart marketers are keeping things simple in the early days of QR codes, knowing that even though smart phones are taking over the US market, consumers are still learning about QR codes.

When you scan a QR code with your smart phone, you must use a special QR code reader app.  There are several of these available for the iPhone and Android.  I use QRReader, by TapMedia LTD.  Many consumers won’t automatically know this, so you may consider including something in the display about downloading an app.

Often times, I see directions on how to “use” the QR code accompanying the promotion, which helps educate the consumer on how to proceed.  Remember, keeping it simple is the key.  An example might be:

  1. Download a QR code reader app for your smart phone
  2. Scan the code
  3. Enter your email address for a chance to win a $1000 shopping spree!

A promotion like this would allow you to capture an email address for use in an email marketing campaign, plus add an interactive element of fun to your in-store displays.

Since you can put a QR code virtually anywhere, feel free to get creative.  I’ve seen QR codes on business cards, billboards, t-shirts, and even as temporary (or perhaps, permanent) tattoos.

What not to do

Here’s an example of a QR code I saw at a music venue recently that I thought could have been used a little more effectively.  I attempted to scan this code, but must have been too small because it wouldn’t register with my phone.  It’s buried in the bottom left corner on an already busy poster with no directions on how to use the code, or more importantly, why I should scan the code.  What’s in it for me?  Would have been nice to see some indication of what happens if I do scan the code.  Can I buy tickets there?  Is it the artist’s website?  Is it a discount or promo code?  Keep these points in mind if you plan on using QR codes for your own marketing.

Can you spot the QR code? Exactly my point.

Watch for more QR codes in 2011, as I think they will become more and more mainstream.  What are some good examples of QR codes you’ve seen?

Crowdsourcing: Teaching Social Media for Business

I’ve recently been asked by a University of San Diego marketing professor to guest lecture on social media for business in her MBA class.  While other institutions dedicate an entire semester to teaching social media, I’ll be working with a little less time than that:  I’ve got one hour.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

I could probably start by showing Erik Qualman’s “Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh),” but I think they may have already seen that.  I could start with some mind-blowing statistics about the growth of social media.  I could “borrow” some great ideas from presentations from notable gurus, ninjas, authors, and experts I’ve seen over the past three years.  I could even dig up some Harvard Business School case studies on social media for business.  I could do a lot of things, but I have only one hour.

So I thought I’d reach out to you, my regular readers and random guests who stumble upon my humble offerings for some help.

Crowdsourcing:  a term that Wikipedia claims came about in 2006.  A term so new that WordPress throws the spell-check flag (am I spelling it right?).  A term that means asking all of you what I should do with my one hour in front of MBA students who perhaps know more about social media than I assume.

So what do you think?  What should I cover in a marketing class with MBA students in one short hour on social media for business?  Who knows, my best responses might even get a mention in class.

I’d like to be able to point to this blog post as an example of building a social network (that has been cultivated online, as well as in person), asking said network for a little help, and receiving tons of thoughtful, engaging and inspiring feedback.  Is that so much to ask?

Facebook in Argentina

I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Buenos Aires with the most interesting professor in the world and several students from the University of San Diego’s MS in Global Leadership program.  They were studying business strategy in the global environment and I had the chance to tag along.

As a digital marketer, I like to pay attention to how businesses are using technology in their marketing mix.  In Buenos Aires I wasn’t surprised to find that traditional billboard advertising was very prevalent.  I also wasn’t surprised to see that most (if not all) contained some sort of URL.  It was extremely rare, however, to see a Facebook URL or icon – or any other mention of social media – in traditional advertising.  I also don’t recall seeing a single QR code.  Not much of this came as a surprise, since the country is still considered to have a ‘developing’ economy.

What did surprise me was the extensive use of Facebook pages by the local government (of all people!).  In fact, “el Gobierno de la Ciudad” does a great job with Facebook pages.  In nearly all of the public spaces, plazas, monuments, and parks, I saw signs like this one that directed visitors to a Facebook page that included a map of the area, photos, and lots of information.

As a first time visitor to the Facebook page, I was directed to a “Welcome” tab, which had a prominent call to action – “like us!”

Since returning home, I’ve done some digging and found at least 55 different pages created by the city of Buenos Aires.  Many of these pages have quite a bit of activity from different visitors – well wishes, comments, and questions.  What’s great is that the community administrator does a nice job of responding and really being part of the conversation.  They’ve actually created 55 different online communities for these public spaces.  It’s interesting to note that these aren’t all huge parks and major attractions, but rather small neighborhood public spaces.  Additionally, many of the Facebook pages include links to SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and other rich content.

So the city government in Buenos Aires has Facebook pages dialed in.  Maybe private industry will follow.  What overseas ‘best practices’ in social media have you noticed?