Monday, January 11, 2010

Beyond Carrots and Sticks

What motivates creative problem solving and innovation in the workplace? Enjoy this TED talk featuring social scientist Dan Pink. Dan Pink argues the case that present day thinking around managerial approaches and incentive based performance actually stifle performance, especially when more out-of-the-box approaches are needed to tackle a problem. He cites research from universities such as MIT, Carnegie Mellon, LSE to name a few to support this fact.

So what drives performance? Intrinsic motivators. People want to feel that what they do is part of something larger than themselves. They want to feel engaged, not by being told what to do but by being self-directed. Carrots and sticks don’t work in the new economy. Dan Pink posits that too many companies are still focusing on old world thinking about driving results and can learn from 21st century companies like Google, IDEO and Atlassian where new approaches like devoting specific time to non-work projects are driving results and employee satisfaction. At Google in particular, at least half of the innovative new products, including Gmail, have been created during this think and play-time.

What does the new operating system look like? It satisfies these human desires:
  • Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives
  • Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something we have a passion for
  • Purpose – the yearning to do something of value in the service of something bigger than ourselves

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trends to watch in 2010 - Embedded Generosity

Now that we're over the "best of" lists that look nostalgically at 2009, it's on to thinking strategically about the consumer trends that will impact the new decade we've entered and what it will mean for the brands we're working on.

One of the most inspiring trends to me as a marketer is the Generation of Generosity. This trend reflects a wide array of thinking - from companies that share everything they know for free - to bloggers and tweeters that share stories and information to help others. A great example of the former is Hubspot, a B2B company based in Cambridge Mass. that publishes all its methodology and even holds free "university" webinar classes so that people can learn new insights and technology in order to become better internet marketers. And of the latter, some of my favorite sites include presentation zen and harvard business where I'm always learning new information on topics that interest me or following #tags on twitter to be part of a larger converstion on a specific topic.

In the spirit of generosity, (another favourite site) predicts that we'll see more of something they term EMBEDDED GENEROSITY. This trend ..."incorporates all giving initiatives that make giving and donating painless, if not automatic (after all, pragmatism is the new religion ;-). On top of that, with collaboration being such an integral part of the zeitgeist, expect lots of innovative corporate giving schemes that involve customers by letting them co-donate and/or co-decide".

This idea is not new - Starbucks has adopted EMBEDDED GENEROSITY as a way of doing business for years, especially around its Cafe Practices coffee sourcing program and most recently, in conjunction with Starbucks RED.

So does this feel like an evolution of "cause marketing"? Perhaps so. The point here for marketers is that EMBEDDED GENEROSITY works when its authentic and transparent. Done well, it provides a rich landscape for storytelling providing the consumer with the opportunity for more meaningful involvement. And if you're not doing it, well you might very well be standing apart from your competition.

Here is the list of examples from from 2009, one of which (Campbell's) is a favorite that I've already featured on The Orange. Some ideas to spark inspiration for brands as we begin 2010.

  • Australian Baby Teresa manufactures and sells a variety of 100% cotton onesies for babies, and, for each one purchased, donates another to a baby in need somewhere in the world.
  • IKEA’s SUNNAN LED desk lamp is powered by solar cells. The product retails for USD 19.99, and for every unit sold in IKEA stores worldwide, another one will be donated to UNICEF to give to children without electricity in refugee camps and villages in remote areas.
  • Still going strong, Procter & Gamble and UNICEF have joined forces for the fourth year running, in an effort to raise money for tetanus vaccines. Each time a pack of the Pampers or Fairy brands bearing a "1 Pack = 1 Life-Saving Vaccine" logo is purchased, P&G will donate the cost of one vaccine to UNICEF.
  • TOMS Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair they sell online. As of August 2009, TOMS has given over 150,000 pairs of shoes to children in need. TOMS shoes plans to give 1 million shoes by 2012.
  • Sage Hospitality is encouraging consumers to complete 8 hours of volunteer service in exchange for 50% - 100% off published room rates in their 52 hotels. To take advantage of the 'Give a Day, Get a Night' scheme, customers must present a letter from the organization they worked for.
  • Give a Day, Get a Disney Day aims to celebrate and inspire volunteerism. Disney is working with HandsOn Network to highlight a variety of volunteer opportunities with participating organizations across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. Starting this month (January 2010), those who contribute their time can have it verified by HandsOn and they'll receive a voucher from Disney for one day admission to a Walt Disney World or Disneyland theme park.
  • Servus, a Canadian credit union, began handing out CDN 200,000 in ten-dollar bills, giving 20,000 people the opportunity to create a Feel Good Ripple by spending the money on someone else. By pledging CDN 200,00 to the effort, the company hopes to start a ' kindness movement' that will positively affect at least 20,000 people. Servus is distributing the bills through its branches throughout Alberta, and asking participants to write up stories of their kindness online.
  • Campbell's Help Grow Your Soup campaign aimed to raise money to maintain farm buildings in need of refurbishment. The campaign asked consumers to vote for one of ten barns in need of work, and for every vote until January 2010, Campbell donated 1 USD to restore the five barns which receive the most votes.
  • In October 2009, Twitter’s owners announced that they will begin selling wine through their label, called Fledgling Wine. The wine will be bottled from August 2010 and USD 5 of every bottle sold will go to Room to Read, a charity that organizes literacy programs for children around the world.
  • Chicago's Hotel Burnham launched the charity based initiative 'Casual Blue' in 2009. A USD 10 room credit is given to patrons who leave a pair of (old) jeans, which are then donated to local charities.
If you have other favourites you'd like to add to the list, let me know!

Source: One of the world's leading trend firms, sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.

Monday, January 4, 2010

There's no biz like Shoe Biz

I have a great appreciation for the art and science of visual merchandising. I also have a weakness for beautiful shoes (and boots). How wonderful that Cool Hunter has assembled a nice collection of retailers that combines the two. In these photos, you can see how the shoe buying experience is elevated to resemble that of visiting a gallery. Each shoe feels bespoke. And we're not just talking Jimmy Choo or Manolo Blahnik here. Many of these "galleries" feature sneakers. Effective brand building experiences for both the manufacturer and the boutique.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Inspiration to begin The New Year

Happy New Year!
I wanted to share this wonderful Ted Talk given by Benjamin Zander in 2008. Mr. Zander is on a mission to ignite the love for classical music in people around the world. It seems that only 4% of the world is passionate about classical music. It's wonderful to listen to his stories. I think there's a great leadership lesson here when he says "My job is to awaken possibilities in others; to make everybody else powerful". He knows he's successful when he sees his audiences' eyes shining.

Here's to a shiny and bright 2010.