The new 6 minute ad for Red Bull is kind of the Honda Cog ad, after, well, a can of red Bull. A machine powered by athletes powered by Red Bull.
The ad which is a great way for Red Bull to showcase their athlete’s credentials was beautifully put together. It was as tricky to pull off as it looks. The whole performance was pulled of in one continuous move. They made sure the really hard moves were scheduled in early in the performance so that if something failed, they would be less likely to have to go through the entire setup again.
The end result, a Red Bull fuelled amount of views on Youtube.
‘Silicon Beach’ loosely refers to the Westside of Los Angeles — mainly Santa Monica and Venice Beach, where a pile of tech startups, incubators and accelerators are based. With LA being so spread out it more accurately references the Los Angeles tech economy as a whole (here’s a map of LA’s startup scene). Silicon Beach is also a term used to describe the Australian startup ecosystem, which Deloitte breaks down in research released this month titled Silicon Beach: A study of the Australian Startup Ecosystem.
This post, though, is about LA’s recent Silicon Beach Festival. I was at the festival earlier this month - it was an awesome series of panels and parties for startup accelerators, venture capitalists, startup CEOS, entrepreneurs, agencies, developers and designers presented by Digital LA. My highlights..
LA Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti opened the festival with ‘What LA City Can Do For LA Tech‘, an inspiring talk about how LA city and support the booming digital economy. Despite being home to the best storytellers in the world, Garcetti believes the greatest barrier to LA’s growth as a tech city has been its ability to tell its own story. Digital LA’s goal is for LA to become the second-best tech city in the world and Garcetti believes the key to achieving this goal is telling a powerful story about LA as a city and weaving digital success into the story. To bring people to LA, the city needs to “create cool neighbourhoods” which starts with “acts of urban acupuncture”; creating cool pockets of activity around the city and combining these to ultimately form neighbourhoods. The summary was that apps and free wifi and all that stuff is useful but it won’t make people move to LA. A great city with a well told story will make people move to LA.
The ‘What Accelerators Want‘ panel was the standout for me. 8 from 10 of Launchpad’s recent graduates raised $1.5m+ (which in part demonstrates for the value of accelerators). Respected digital training company General Assembly recently moved into Launchpad’s building, which enhanced Launchpad’s credibility. Amplify’s Jeff Solomon discussed how there are “so many people building stuff” and “it’s kinda easy to build stuff”. Amplify’s more interested in the problems people are solving, how a startup will get people using their product and “get it out there” and looks for clever customer acquisition. Similarly, Mucklerlab says engineers are important, but to go to market with less than $150k customer acquisition expertise is really important. Muckerlab prioritises startups they can help instead of startups that might be a hit; William Hsu says they’re “trainers not betters”. Talk of “the team not the product”, lean startup philosophy and a build, measure, learn approach was ubiquitous.
‘Meet the Junior VCs‘ provided hints on what venture capitalists look for. Jon Bassett of DFJ Frontiers made the point that “defensibility is a priority”. Products can be figured out with time and money but long-term partnerships are more defensible. Partnerships can be made early in the product stage to firm up a market. Generally, traction and progress are attractive to the VCs on the panel and investors hate missing deals, so demonstrating momentum and knocking over milestones is a good hook for investment. Customer acquisition costs and models are attractive to VCs; these guys love a good data model.
“What do our customers need that they’re not getting now, and how can we give it to them?”
Here are three brands being useful to their customers in the eCommerce space.
Skullcandy has customer-powered customer service (image above). The brand “fansources” customer service, turning their biggest fans into online customer service representatives. Potential customers browsing Skullcandy’s website can live chat with selected Skullcandy customers to hear hear how the products work from people like them who use the products reguarly. There are currently 27 brand ambassadors (from over 400 applicants) providing fansourced customer service, including semi-pro snowboarders, extreme skiiers, avid surfers, and musicians who all have this common: they are huge fans of Skullcandy, they own multiple products in each of Skullcandy’s lines, and they love talking to others about what makes Skullcandy great.
Prospects find customer-powered customer service useful; Skullcandy achieves 20% online conversion and 186% ROI through fansourcing.
ASOS offers customers free ‘Style Sessions’ via Skype. Selected participants can ask ASOS’ Style Advisors questions about ASOS apparel and seek out advice on purchases they’re considering.
Ticketmaster’s Facebook app suggests recommended gigs for fans based on their Spotify listening history. The app can also tell users where their friends’ tickets are located to enable people to sit together. Here’s a video of the customer experience. How can you be useful to your customers?
Launched in the US in 2010, Small Business Saturday has been endorsed by Obama and public officials in all 50 states. The Senate passed a resolution to make it an “official day” in 2010. 75 corporations support the initiative including Facebook, Google and FedEx. Over 2.7 million people “like” Small Business Saturday on Facebook. An estimated 103 million Americans shopped small in 2011. Small Business Saturday is more than a day; it’s a movement. A local movement. A local movement created by American Express.
Small Business Saturday was launched by OPEN Forum, an award-winning online community created by American Express in 2007. OPEN Forum is designed to help small business owners grow their businesses by providing useful information and resources online. Three years after launching OPEN Forum, the OPEN team campaigned to create a specific day for the celebration and participation of small businesses across North America.
“There needed to be fertile soil for this to happen. We took our learnings from the OPEN Forum to determine what’s on a small business owner’s mind and went from there.”
UX, or User Experience design, is at the core of all our digital design and build projects. We favour a complete UX roadmap when building websites and apps and brands find every dollar spent on UX drives between $2 and $100 in return.
Doing it well can take time, and when time doesn’t allow for the complete roadmap we adopt principles from the Agile Manifesto and Lean Startup Movement to achieve ‘Lean UX’ relatively quickly. There’s nothing like following the complete roadmap, but when we can’t, we go lean.
Jason Crane and Ben Webster are the seasoned UX practitioners at Lean UX research, design and training. We’re bringing Lean UX to Newcastle for a one-day workshop in November. Emphasising rapid prototyping and short iterations, Lean UX is built around running mini-experiments. These mini-experiments follow a simple structure:
Develop the idea (hypothesis)
Build a prototype to test the idea (experiment)
Observe and measure the results (collect data)
Analyse and learn from the data (learn)
Develop new ideas based on what you’ve learned
You’ll learn how to apply these principles to user experience and rapidly test your ideas. You’ll use tools and approaches like personas, user journeys, design studio, sketching and usability testing.
The workshop is for marketers, designers, agencies, brands, product managers, developers, UX practitioners and entrepreneurs. It’s on 29 November at Merewether Surf Club and costs $425 per person.
The best brands in the world are brilliant at pulling customers in and building a tribe. Awesome companies like Apple and Nike treat consumers as participants in product development and bake their marketing messaging into their products. Less awesome companies push messages out and treat consumers as targets.
Marketing isn’t just a bolt-on that comes at the delivery end of product development. It’s not the aim and fire stuff: promotions, “getting the word out”, clicks, hype, putting lipstick on the pig. As Seth Godin asserts, many amateurs and citizens believe this is what marketing is. It’s not. The circles of marketing:
The innermost circle is the product or service itself. When the thing you sell has communication built in, when it is remarkable and worth talking about, when it changes the game – marketing seems a lot easier. Of course, that’s because you did the marketing when you invented the thing, saving you the expense and trouble of yelling about it.
Early stage marketing is doing the marketing when you invent the thing. It lets you bake in the communication and helps your product or service sell itself. We’ve blogged this a few times. Awesome brands do it often, and very well. They test and learn. They can also afford to test and learn; they’re well established in their markets and have revenues to support R&D. I’ve watched Starbucks prototype new store designs and test new products in Seattle (relentlessly pursuing their clever ”third place” strategy). Starbucks runs fast and frequent tests that are tightly controlled, have a customer feedback loop and collect accurate data to make smart decisions.
Nike’s Fuelband and Apple’s iPod were also prototyped, tested, and iterated based on feedback and results. Nike’s first shoes were made on a waffle iron; now athletes are deeply involved in developing and testing prototypes. Apple prototypes extensively with customers as early as possible. In the words of Steve Jobs:
People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
A useful way to test and learn if you’re not Apple or Starbucks or Nike (or even if you are) is to test and learn with the minimum viable product.
By getting feedback on an early version, he was able to modify it, changing the package and marketing strategy to build a following among athletes and weekend warriors. PowerBar eventually became a $150 million business, creating the $1 billion energy bar category.
This doesn’t mean the minimum viable product can’t be awesome; minimum viable personality can be included to ensure the product has a story, personality and reason for being.
For digital prototyping and testing, Lean UX and agile development provide suitable pathways to rapid prototyping and useful customer testing. Here’s the Nordstrom UX team creating, testing, and building a new iPad app in one week. It’s a useful app to support in-store sales and improve the customer experience. You don’t need to be Nordstrom to pull this off. If you have access to customers and people with the right skills you can do it.
Early stage marketing is a proven commercial model for successful product development and sales (References: Nike share price and Starbucks share price. Comparison: RIM share price). It also lowers product development and R&D costs not only by failing fast, but by launching fast and confidently – speed to market is achieved with a thoroughly tested product customers want. The minimum viable product can help you get there.
Well, basically its a huge (Google Map) map of the world and you can go anywhere (in Aus and NZ currently) and build something out of virtual Lego! Once you have unleashed your inner child you can then share it with your friends via FB and the like.
Its been designed to celebrate Lego’s 50th anniversary ‘Festival Of Play’ campaign, while promoting Google Chrome as a user-friendly browser.
I think it does an awesome job at showing how well you can integrate an old school brand in the virtual world but it does have a few things I think may need tweaking – its a bit slow, when you want to look at what someone has built there is no explanation of what it is (and believe me there are some weird ones that need it!), it also doesn’t tell you who built it in the pop up – which would be cool.
But you can look at everything in 3D which is fun and I like the fact its going to be a global campaign not country based (although Australia/NZ is the first to get it!) plus a very clever way of getting more people to use Chrome.
Check it out – let me know what you think. I’m off to apply to build the Village of Useful somewhere…
I was asked to talk about the Newcastle App, an iPhone app I created 18 months ago. The app gives visitors a local’s guide to Newcastle, was created following personal experiences couchsurfing around the world and hanging out with locals, and the need came from Lonely Planet ranking Newcastle as a top 10 city for 2011. It was created to solve a problem for an influx of visitors. The first version of the app was the minium viable product; the simplest solution to the core problem. A basic usable prototype. People used it, liked it and asked for more. The second version is a more complete prototype and is still far from what it could be. 5,588 people have installed the app. Over the past month, the average session time is 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Not bad, could be better. The marketing plan and next release haven’t been actioned yet (did someone say ‘client work’?).
So that’s the app. I could talk more about who it’s for, how it supports tourism and what it could be. But let’s talk about the role of technology in tourism. Here are some recent digital tourism initiatives I like, why I like them and how technology fits:
We reckon South Australia has heaps of good bits, but not everyone knows about them. This site lets South Aussies say which bits they reckon are better than good. It’s also a great way to find out about a heap of good stuff you never knew was here.
Heaps Good SA is an initiative by Advantage SA and is supported by Government of South Australia and Fusion. Advantage SA is a not-for-profit, member-based organisation dedicated to being the positive voice of South Australia. They have an impressive roster of sponsors. This is what they do:
Advantage SA fearlessly promotes the key advantages of the state through the development and execution of a number of important campaigns, programs and initiatives.
Fearless. When you’re fearless you can make stuff that’s awesome. The site showcases places and events in South Australia and drives through to operator websites (which of course should have online booking and other mandatories).
100 perfect, super natural British Columbia moments. Each moment includes trip planning, packages, deals and accommodation ideas. Some moments are typical, others are unexpected. All of them look pretty fun. Operator websites are listed for online bookings. There’s a campaign including a 14-foot tall, 10-foot wide vending machine in San Francisco dispensing mountain bikes, kayaks and made in BC surfboards.
People who visit Gothenburg usually climb aboard a guided bus or boat tour to see the city. The app lets visitors take a fully guided tour for the price of a tram ticket. Visitors travel on a tram with locals and the app is geo-aware; things they can see are explained, landmarks are highlighted and history is recited. The app was developed using the tram company’s API (Västtrafik). I don’t think the trams have wifi but it looks there are hotspots along the tram line that passengers could use.
Websites, online booking platforms, search engine optimisation, social media engagement and mobile apps are almost the price of entry for tourism groups and operators. There’s an opportunity to do these things extremely well by creating a premium and useful customer experience to achieve results (bookings, enquiries, sales, other goals). But for potential visitors to engage with a tourism website, app or social media channel, someone’s already done a brand job on the destination, activity, accommodation or event. A search-optimised website with a booking platform won’t get people to a destination or event if they’re not aware of it.
Going beyond website, app and social media channels to develop APIs and expose up-to-the-minute useful data is great thinking. The Swedish Tram Sightseeing App is one example. Seattle’s One Bus Away app is another; it’s built on transit system APIs and is open source. I’m sure there are more, and will be more. While the technology is awesome and important, there’s still an idea leading both of these initiatives. Creating an API is one thing. Solving a problem for people is a separate challenge. And the job of creating Gothenburg and Seattle as destinations has already been done. Without someone doing a brand job on the destination there’d be no tourists to provide apps for. No one would be there. No one would be searching to go there. There’d be no awareness, and no problem for technology and an idea to solve. Technology has an important role supporting marketing initiatives but by itself it’s not the solution.
A few other noteworthy mentions for use of technology (and ideas) in tourism:
Tourism Australia is encouraging the Australian tourism industry to embrace social media by granting operators access to the ‘See Australia’ Facebook page. Operators can list themselves in a ‘things to do’ section on the page as of this month. It’s not all about the numbers, but it’s worth noting Tourism Australia’s Facebook page is the largest destination page globally (3 million likes) and other Tourism Australia channels including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube are also high performers.
The Grand Rapids lipdub video holds the world record for the largest and longest lipdub video. It’s great, you’ve probably seen it. What’s particularly interesting about the video is it’s an official response to a Newsweek article calling Grand Rapids a “dying city”, was funded entirely by local sponsors ($40,000), and involved council co-ordination of a major shutdown of downtown Grand Rapids.
Tourism Queensland’s ‘Best job in the world’ campaign generated media coverage valued at over AUD$400 million. It’s 8th on the international list for the world’s top 50 PR stunts of all time. The campaign reached an estimated audience of 3 billion people. The campaign was driven through online job sites and small display ads, directing traffic to islandreefjob.com. More about the campaign’s results.
While we’re talking marketing initiatives, Tourism Victoria deserves a mention. It’s widely considered the best marketed tourism in the country. New South Wales is Victoria’s biggest tourism market – 1.1m Sydneysiders visit Melbourne annually, spending $4.7 billion. The recent Play Melbourne and Villages of Victoria campaigns, amongst others, create strong awareness of Victorian destinations and build the destinations as brands. They reach the target audience, tell stories and create interest. There are digital components of the campaigns where appropriate. It’s tourism marketing well done.
The Benetton “Unhate campaign’ just won the top prize in the print category at the Cannes advertising festival happening right now in France. The campaign created by one of my favourite agencies in the world, 72 and Sunny, features a series of provocative images of odd couples kissing. The retouching was work was superbly executed
Obama plants one on Chavez in the featured image.
Merkel plants one on Sarkozy.
Netanyahu plants one on Abbas.
and of course the Pope lands one on a leading Imam. (This one was removed with extreme prejudice shortly after it first appeared).
It feels like a long while since people were talking about the ‘shocking’ nature of Benetton ads. There was time during the 90′s that if three advertising people gathered in a room then one of them would have the deciding vote on whether the ads were ‘genius’ or vial borrowed interest.
There was the hugely talked about ‘soldier with human bone’ ad
and then there was the ‘aids’ ad
Truth was, whatever you thought of the ads, you certainly couldn’t avoid having an opinion on them. I have always liked the powerful provocation of Benetton campaigns, what I struggled with was the let down when I went in store. The advertising was so extreme you expected to walk into a Benetton store and have your senses bombarded by equally challenging fashion. Instead it was pastel jumpers and other items to be warn while walking a golden retriever.
Usefulness is the Gandhi of the business world – gentle but powerful. The great companies like Apple, Google and Unilever constantly ask themselves “how can we be more useful?” We help our clients explore their inner useful so they can more effectively connect with their audience. What we do
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