Kathie Melocco - Health Activism

Blog dedicated to Social Justice and Health and Wellbeing Activism

September 29, 2010

Marketing Mastery Bootcamp – a passionpuslator event

I was reading Sir Ken Robinson’s wonderful book ‘The Element’ and was struck by a wonderful story he led with as his opening and to illustrate that all of us have a natural wonder about us, it is just that over the years life experiences, education and our own belief processes eventually get in the way of us being creative and thwart for many of us our own natural talents and passions.

It goes something like this: ‘An elementary school teacher was giving a drawing class to a group of six year old children. At the back of the classroom sat a little girl who normally didn’t pay much attention in school. In the drawing class shed did. For more than twenty minutes, the girl sat with her arms curled around her paper, totally absorbed in what she was doing. The teacher found this fascinating. Eventually, she asked the girl what she was drawing. Without looking up the little girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” Surprised the teacher said, ‘But nobody knows what God looks like.”

The girl said, “They will in a minute."

A beautiful story,it certainly reminds us young children are wonderfully confident in their own imaginations. Sadly most of us lose this confidence as we grow up. Ask a class of first graders which of them thinks they are creative and they’ll all put their hand up. Ask a group of university students this same question and most of them won’t.

We are all born with tremendous natural capacities, and we simply lose touch with them as we spend more time in the world. Ironically, one of the main reasons this happens is education. The result is that too many people never connect with their true talents and therefore don’t know what they’re really capable of achieving.

This week I spoke to a large group of business owners keen to learn the in's and out’s of social media. All attendees had participated in a 7 day social media learning intensive from how to use twitter, facebook, linkein and so on.

My presentation was about putting it all together and guess what? All the training in the world won’t deliver results unless you put together a creative campaign that is different, innovative, fresh and inspires others to take action.

So I spent a lot of time during the presentation talking about creativity, innovation, the long tail and social media best practice campaign models. Why? You can learn all the how to’s of social media but if you fail to develop a creative campaign that resonates with your audience you miss a wonderful opportunity to inspire others to take meaningful action.

Why am I using the words inspire and meaningful? Maybe because I have yet to meet a business owner that doesn’t have a real purpose that they enjoy sharing and, this purpose has the potential to transform their brand into something that adds value and makes a difference. Be it a cause they contribute to, the way their culture provides service, a unique product offering and so on.

Just look at the great case study of Zappos. They sell shoes! But their whole customer and cultural experience is about delivering a unique customer experience no matter the channel of communication and in so doing they have empowered their employees and customers as evangelists for the brand. Be it on the phone, via email, in social media and more.

At our forthcoming Marketing Mastery Bootcamp in October we are going to explore exactly that with each attendee identifying what is the unique selling point of their company and how can this be turned into a campaign that makes a difference. Sure we’ll cover the nuts and bolts but it is my goal to ensure that everyone leaves with a complete A-Z blueprint for how they are going to drive marketing through their business to deliver the results they are seeking to achieve. That requires tow things: 1. The uh huh moment of what communication can truly make a difference and 2. A sense of personal passion to stay the course to deliver that and not get sidetracked by other things.

I’m really looking forward to working with 50 dynamic business owners and hoping you will join us too.

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September 28, 2010

The Origins of Six Degrees of Separation and the power of social media for business

Yesterday I spoke to a terrific group of people about developing a social media strategy and programme. The event was organised by that super networker Sean Grobbelaar. I spent quite a lot of time talking about innovation and the importance of connecting with tribes as you plan your social media campaign. The concept of tribes and finding super connectors is not new. We all feel closer together because of the power of the web and indeed more so than ever with the advent of new social media platforms that bring us together often with networks and friends that we may even have lost contact with at some point in our lives. So when we casually say 'gosh isn't the world a small place and it only takes six degrees of separation before I meet someone we mutually know' what does that really mean?

In the late 1960's well before the advent of the internet, psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to find an answer to what is know as the small world problem. The problem is this: how are we humans connected? Do we all belong to separate worlds, operating simultaneously but autonomously, so that the links between any two people, anywhere in the world, are few and distant? Or, are we all bound up together in a grand interlocking web?

What Milgram was asking has a great deal of relevance to the success or failure of some social media programmes, that being how does an idea or trend or piece of news - travel through the population?

Milgram's idea to test this question was a chain letter. He got the names of 160 people who lived in Omaha, Nebraska, and mailed each of them a packet. In the packet was a name of a stockbroker who lived in Sharon, Massachusetts. Each person was instructed to write his or her name on the packet and send it onto a friend or acquaintance who he or her thought would get the packet closer to the stockbroker. If you lived in Omaha and had a cousin outside of Boston, for example, you might send it to him, on the grounds that - even if your cousin did not himself know the stockbroker - he would be a lot more likely to be able to get to the stockbroker in two or three or fours steps.

The idea was when the packet finally arrived at the stockbroker's house, Milgram could look at the list of all those who hands it went through to get there and establish how closely connected someone chosen at random from one part of the country was to another person in another part of the country.

Milgram found that most of the letter's reached the stockbroker in five or six steps. This experiment is where we get the concept of six degrees of separation.

This phrase is so familiar to most of us today that we lose sight of how surprising Milgram's findings were. Most of us don't have particular broad and diverse groups of friends.

When Miilgram analyze his experiment to determine how did the packet get to Sharon in just five steps, the answer was not all degrees are equal. He found that many of the chains from Omaha to Sharon followed the same asymmetrical pattern. Twenty four letters reached the stockbroker at his home in Sharon, and of those sixteen were given to him by the same person, a clothing merchant Milgram calls Mr Jacobs. The balance of the letters came to the stockbroker at his office, and of those the majority came through two other men, whom Milgram calls Mr Brown and Mr Jones.

In all, half of the responses that came back to the stockbroker were delivered to him by these same three people.

Think about it. Dozens of people, chosen at random from a large Midwestern city, send out letters independently. Some go to college acquaintances. Some send their letters to relatives. Some send letters to old workmates and so on. Yet in the end when all those chains were completed, half of those letters ended up in the hands of Jacobs,Jones and Brown.

Six degrees of separation doesn't mean that everyone is linked to everyone else in just six steps. It means that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special people.

These people who we rely on heavily are 'connectors', people with a special gift for bringing the world together. We'll talk more about the traits of these special people in a later post, that too is a fascinating insight.

However I wanted to share the relevance of this experiment dating back to the 1960's and the rise today of the phenomena known as social media. Imagine if you could and can tap into these special connectors to communicate the benefits of your product or service with passion and with meaning for their lives. Who will they tell, I wonder...

This in itself is a strong argument for networking on linkeIN, facebook, twitter and so on. Have you observed these special people on social networking sites and met them in the real work perhaps? I'd be interested in your thoughts and observations. One person who comes to mind is Iggy Pintado. He has written an excellent book on what he calls the Connection Generation. He says 'Connection Generation reveals how individuals, groups and networks have progressed beyond their intent to communicate - but to a tangible connection between people, information, experiences and ideas. Due to the advent of internet and mobile technology, this dynamic transcends traditional thinking about societal generations. It proposes that anyone who had access to a computer or mobile device since 1995 - regardless of age - is part of the Connection Generation'. Personally I think what he is showing, albeit in a technology driven society, is how true Milgram's basic experiment was, that the power of social networks offers enormous opportunities to grow our businesses in ways many of us do not tap into.

Stay out of social networking and you may miss one of the greatest business opportunities you have to reach new customers and in some cases turn them into powerful evangelists for your product or service. Of course six degrees of separation also means the reverse is true, a lousy experience and your tribe may tell their friends and so on...

Focus on a great customer experience whatever social media platforms you use: service, customer satisfaction, innovation and brand essence, delivering on the promise remain paramount. A great social media example of doing it well is Zappos, the shoe company. You can read their case study for more information.

For further reading on Six Degrees of Separation, I highly recommend reading The International Bestseller - The Tipping Point, How Little things can make a big difference by Malcolm Gladwell.

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