Similar to those charged with marketing a product or cause, candidates for political office often believe they must present the logic of their candidacy to influence voters — such as 10-point plans and issue position papers — when instead logic serves only a secondary role, if at all, in the choice decision. This reliance upon logic reveals a flawed understanding of how people make choices, whether for the personal fragrance they prefer, the sports team…
The voice of American poet Carl Sandburg still rings in our ears. How he spoke for the people. With intelligent simplicity. Often raw. Chicago he acknowledged as wicked and crooked. And yet: Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little…
Courtesy of Medium, a list of words that are now enterprise startup names. The author explains that for "sanity reasons, this list ignores 'ly' and 'able' startups such as Directly and Fundable, as well as startups whose names are phrases such as BringMeThat." Hello. Sunrise. Sunshine. Clear. Clever. Color. Care. Calm. Karma. Ark. Angle. Dabble. Meddle. Mirror. Breather. Burner. Buffer. Porter. Cover. Construct. Control. Connect. Disconnect. Divide. Dash. Double. Able. Variable. Bubble. Bump. Thumb. Mouth.…
Crowdsourcing works in financing a new product or idea - think KickStarter, gauging interest in a new invention - Quirky, for household chores - Task Rabbit, or dating advice - Crowdpilot. In contrast, crowdsourcing is a bad idea for on-the-field competitive sports decisions, in seeking medical treatment, or when needing legal advice. The reason is that specialized expertise is required for each, an expertise not found in an unspecialized crowd. Crowdsourcing product names is another bad idea, as Fast Company indicates the results are a…
Within the past week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent a public email of some 3,187 words to company employees, with a Subject line of "Starting FY15 - Bold Ambition & Our Core" Nadella set out to articulate his vision of the new Microsoft - to paint the future for 127,000 Microsoftians anxious to know where their new boss is leading them - saying his motivation for writing the memo was to "galvanize employees around what our soul is." He fails miserably, committing a…
A client recently asked our thoughts about this story discussing "Milkshake Marketing," published 2011 in Working Knowledge, a newsletter of Harvard Business School, in which the author breathlessly extols Milkshake Marketing as the latest creation of Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen: About 95 percent of new products fail. The problem often is that [product] creators use an ineffective market segmentation mechanism...  It's time for companies to look at products the way customers do: as a way to get a job done.…
This is what gets us jazzed about our work - it is our passion, our raison d'être - as demonstrated in the video above. This is what we believe, and what we know: Words are powerful. Words can change the world. Words backed up by consumer experience with product change the business fortunes of our clients, to Own The Conversation® within their competitive category. In a world overloaded with marketing messages attempting to break though…
In 1975, author and journalist Tom Wolfe offered this lesson on the disproportional power of the short sentence: Express your most powerful thought in the shortest sentence. For brands and copywriters everywhere, a powerful discussion of simplicity courtesy of Roy Peter Clark in The New York Times. Read the full story here.
The power of the effective use of words, demonstrated by the "priceless and pricelessly uncompromising wisdom from a cultural legend: iconic businessman and original "Mad Man" David Ogilvy." On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent an internal memo to all agency employees, titled "How to Write." Among his teachings, Mr. Ogilvy's advice on the use of jargon: Never use jargon like...reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass. Some 30 years later we would add words and phrases such as solution, innovation,…

Innovation's Obstacle: Focus Groups Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

We are not fans. Of focus groups. As client advocates and owners of their trust, we have yet to recommend the use of focus groups. The reason is focus groups are a crutch, serving the needs of those seeking security in the familiar. In contrast, the very basis of our work at WHISPER is in finding the unfamiliar - the category-defying narrative, authentically packaged to advance the disruptive market opportunity for new growth. Douglas Van Praet agrees: Focus-group…

The Difficulty With Focus Groups Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." – Henry Ford
In a column appearing in Fast Company, the author says science backs up along-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message. Years of psychology studies reveal how story affects the human mind: Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence. As the author suggests,…

Brand Strategy = Business Strategy Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Appearing every Wednesday evening through April 17, at the School of Visual Arts in New York, our CEO to discuss Business Strategy: Defining the Brand. He quotes Peter Drucker: "The business enterprise has two - and only two - basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.  Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business." And Rudyard Kipling: "...words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind..." He says things like "snap the…
Understanding how competing products are positioned and messaged allows you to learn from their mistakes and successes, and act in a distinct and powerful way. A competitive message analysis - a taxonomy - is key to this understanding. This taxonomy - a classification by message categories and by strength of engagement - answers the following: How do competitors position themselves?What types of conversations are common among them?Do their communications project a similar attitude?Do their similarities…
"Bangladesh can add value to its branding in the global market embarking on some distinctive competencies paving the way for creating five strong revenue streams [manpower, RMG, jute, micro-credit and peace-keeping armed forces] for the country," or so says a report appearing in Financial Express. However, we suggest that rather than revenue streams, Bangladesh offers a story of unique human success in a land often otherwise known for floods and other natural disasters. Bangladesh is a nation where women lead,…

Infographic: Google+ for Business Monday, January 14th, 2013

As Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works tells it: The swell folks at BlueGlass made me a nifty infographic about Google+ for business, replete with all kinds of factoids and thoughts to consider. This infographic has a bunch of marketing points scattered throughout it. You'll see why Google+ might help you take your business goals to the next level. Noodle through the full infographic here. Chris Brogan's latest book, The Impact Equation, may be purchased here.
Fast Company today asks: Is branding a dark art based on a mastery of data or the channeling of creativity? Channeling up visions of the great and powerful Oz as a particpant in the creation of successful brand strategy, the author concludes:  The combining of art and science is not easy and requires a special team to execute it successfully. But if one can pull it off [this combination] will result in a powerful and iconic…
Media Post I’ve worked for several nonprofit organizations over the years—from higher education to educational travel to the performing arts—and I always thought that nonprofits could learn a lot from the corporate world. In my experience, nonprofit organizations are generally reluctant to openly discuss profit, unless it’s in regards to fundraising initiatives. Nonprofit organizations need to make money just like everyone else. How else can they accomplish their missions, after all? It was refreshing, then,…

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