Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obstacles Are Only In Your Mind

Boundaries...Walls...Fences...Small budgets...Short time lines...Personal limits...Insane bosses...Tough clients...Wacky agencies...Impossible challenges.

They're all in your mind.

Our previous two posts (Brainstorming Part I and Part II) talked about how to free your mind and break through to never-been-done-before solutions. In that same spirit, free your mind visually with this amazing Danny MacAskill video.

Be inspired and achieve the impossible. Go over. Go around. Go through. Fix the problem. Be in harmony with. Break the rules. Try another way. Try and try again. Do or do not. And let me know if you'll ever look at a fence the same way again.

Video: ©2009 Danny MacAskill.
Blog: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brainstorming—Part II: Making it Go

Techniques that work and what to do with all those ideas you generate.

In our previous installment, “A Dozen Reasons Your Brainstorm Sessions Don’t Work,” we examined the why most of us, at one time or another, are disappointed by the results of our brainstorming. We covered everything from problem definition to ground rules and expectations to who, when and how.

In Part II, we’re going to look at some proven techniques. Interestingly, in their own way, each automatically solves many of the key brainstorming issues—as well as produces loads of ideas. Then we’ll quickly look at how you turn these ideas into incredible, creative solutions.

With a nod to the Nike, “Just Do It” tagline, brainstorming is simpler if you follow these suggestions.

Do it Fast!

Speed is very freeing. Recall from our earlier installment that judging early creates fear of failure and stifles creativity. When you work fast, you don’t have time to judge ideas as they develop. Just write them down and move on. So you keep fear of failure and negativity out of the picture long enough to get fresh thoughts on the table.

You also generate loads of ideas. That’s good because in brainstorming, more is better. You get the law of averages on your side. The more ideas, the better your chance of having a stunner in the bunch.

How fast is fast? How about 20 ideas in five minutes?

That’s a new idea every 15 seconds. Can’t be done, right? Wrong. My brainstorm teams do it again and again. In the space of an hour, with multiple small groups, they routinely develop several hundred ideas! Much to their delight and surprise, I might add.

Do it Again!

Your team has just come up with 20 or more ideas. Give them a moment to be proud of themselves. More than likely they never believed it could be done in the first place. So let them bask in the glory for a bit. Then ask them to select their two or three favorites and share why they think they’re the best. Discuss how they turned something on its ear and broke rules.

Now have them mentally “toss them out!” The whole 20. And brainstorm again. (See why stopping at the first good idea is a big problem in our first installment.) Before any complaints can begin, prod your team, “Twenty MORE ideas. Five minutes. Go, go go!”

Generally, the first round or two gets the expected solutions out of the way. The best stuff usually—but not always—comes later.

Do it Wrong!

It’s tough to come up with brilliant, breakthrough ideas and solve tough problems. The very thought is intimidating. But one thing we all know how to do is to do things wrong. To make mistakes.

Use this to your advantage. Have your brainstorm team, “Do it Wrong” and come up with awful, simply terrible, ideas. It’s fun to see who can come up with the absolute worst and watch what happens. Suddenly there’s no pressure to be brilliant and generating ideas is easy and fun. Immediately your team is loose. In a happy place. And productive!

Once you’ve gotten the worst down on paper, make a U-Turn. Have the team select favorites and turn those ideas around—into great ideas.

Do it Weird!

Pick a color or an object. Any color. Or any object. When you need a new idea, get away from anything remotely familiar and start someplace entirely new. The weirder, the better. New places allow you to make brand new connections. You have no expectations or preconceived limits on where your thoughts can take you.

For example, let’s say your group picks the color red. Have them make a list of everything red. A red rubber ball. Lipstick. Stop light. Red door. Bullseye. Fire truck and fire hydrant. A red and white striped barber pole. Raspberries and apples. Early morning airline travel on the “red eye.” Visine (speaking of red eye!). Red Rover Red Rover.

Use your “red” list to make connections with and trigger solutions to your problem. Will this work? You bet. Because the best thing about “weird,” it puts everyone off their guard. They’re in a strange new place where bold new thoughts are welcome.

Do it with a Genius!

Ask your team, “How would Albert Einstein solve this problem?” Or Marie Curie? Or Igor Stravinsky? Or Pablo Picasso? Each of these incredible minds brought a new approach to the world in a different field and by a different means. Through imagination. Through insight and perseverance. Through expressive rhythm. Through the fracture of representational rendering.

Part of the reason you and your team feel like you can’t solve the problem is that you don’t expect to have the answer. You haven’t had it before, so why should you have it now? Step outside yourself and turn to a genius for your solutions.

More helpful hints

  • Be obvious. Consider this option—especially when you’re dealing with people who have loads of expertise. First thing you do before you really begin brainstorming, invite your teams write down every solution they already know. Gets the known stuff out of everyone’s systems quickly. Then at last, you can prepare for fresh thinking.

  • PostIt! Have your teams write each idea on its own little sticky note. Use separate colors for each team, if you like. Post them on the wall or a big sheet where everyone can see them. Why separate notes for each? So you can easily combine them and build on them, and organize and categorize them later.

  • Compete. At the start, announce a little friendly competition between teams to get the adrenaline flowing. This is another reason I like brainstorming with small teams of three to five people. See which team can come up with the most ideas. The worst ideas. The weirdest ideas. The least ideas. Give awards. Dinner. Theater tickets. Give the losers an incentive, too. Like buying coffee for the winners.

  • Treat yourselves well. Bring coffee and healthy snacks. Tell folks to dress comfortably. Take shoes off. (OK, maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know your group!) Get away from the desk and get rid of the conference table. They’re too formal. Gather your chairs into small clusters, one for each group. Play music or otherwise stimulate your team’s creativity. See our earlier posts, “Want to be more creative? Be less comfortable.” and “Be more creative…do something different.” for more ideas.

  • Embrace failure. Am I saying I want your brainstorming effort to fail. No. What I want you to do is to create an environment in which it’s OK to fail at least some of the time. An environment where risk is rewarded. Think about it. All the world’s greatest talents and minds fail. Sometimes often. The best hitters in Major League Baseball fail in more than two out of three at bats. They risk swinging big and their coach wants them to swing big! The coach knows a big home run hitter is going to strike out…a lot. But when they connect, it’s out of the park. And that’s what you’re looking for isn’t it? To hit one out of the park.

"Would you like me to give you a formula for... success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You're thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all... you can be discouraged by failure—or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that's where you'll find success. On the far side."

--Thomas J. Watson, Founder of IBM

Now that you’ve got tons of ideas. Now what?

Before you wrap up your brainstorm sessions, you might have hundreds of ideas. All in random order. It can feel like a real mess. How do you take all these “baby ideas” and nurture them into mature concepts that can stand critical scrutiny.

  • Combine and categorize. Work with your teams to separate ideas into three to five clear categories. Here’s where having each concept on an individual PostIt! really helps. If you find some of the ideas defy categorization. Don’t force it. Free-floaters are often good bridges and connectors. Combine them with other strong ideas. By looking at categories you also identify areas that were not well covered during the initial brainstorming session—or an important area that was missed entirely. Categories can also help you make a strategic link back to your objectives so you can check to see that you’re on target.

  • Pick leaders. Have your teams vote on the strongest ideas in each category. Talk about why they’re so strong. See what common threads exist among the leading ideas. And what’s different. What about the ideas that don’t come out on top? Aren’t they a waste? Absolutely not. Those ideas are part of the process and help springboard people to make new connections and more novel ideas.

  • Improve and strengthen. Brainstorming is more of a process than an event. You’re trying to do something, create something or solve something that’s never been done before. Game changing ideas are worth the investment in effort and a little more time. You haven’t failed because the first brainstorm session didn’t produce a final product. What you’ve done is set the stage for success. Take a break and plan Round 2. Use the categories, leaders and common threads to direct your next session.

  • Empower the team to finish the ideas. Too often I’ve seen the leaders of brainstorm sessions take the ideas away from the team and either develop them by themselves or to hand them to others. That’s really demoralizing to the team because it sends the message that they’re not good enough to pull the ideas through. So resist that temptation. Empower the team to grow the ideas themselves—and make them responsible for hitting the target.

Trying other things

Picasso once said, “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.” Good advice for brainstorming. If you want new solutions you’ve got to try other things. Give some of the suggestions from Brainstorming Part I and II a try and turn disappointment into amazement.

Art: Pablo Picasso, “Landscape with Bridge” 1909 from Artchive, “Portrait of Stravinsky” from the Internet Public Library, “Les Echecs” 1911 from Online Picasso Project.

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Dozen Reasons Your Brainstorm Sessions Don’t Work

At one time or another, you’ve been disappointed by the results of a brainstorm session. We all have. The problem is, what to do about it.

Perhaps you feel that you’ve just never been great at inspiration. Or you don’t feel like your team is all that creative. Perhaps you blame the idea of brainstorming itself. (That’s right, blame the tool. It’s the hammer’s fault you bashed your thumb!)

Brainstorming is a process and a skill and there are some common reasons it may not be working for you. Every time. See if these thoughts don’t break you and your team out of your rut.

1. It’s a problem of “problem definition.”

The first key, if you want better results, is to define your problem better. Too often, teams rush into a brainstorm session without adequate strategic thought. “Quick, the client needs a solution by 3:00” is a recipe for disappointment!

The best solutions are the result of asking the best questions.

Quiz yourself: Are you just after an incremental gain—or do you want to break through and change the rules of the game? If you answer with the latter, then you’re heading the right direction. Go deep. Wide. And long.

Brainstorming is not about small ideas. It’s about generating great, big, bold, scary new ideas. Stuff that’s never been done before. And the better you define the problem, the better you’ll brainstorm the big ideas you need to create fresh new solutions.

2. Forgetting the ground rules.

When you’re trying to break the mold it may seem counterintuitive that you need ground rules. But you do. Try these:

  • Define the problem and set objectives.
  • Give everyone a brief background to digest beforehand to prime the mind.
  • Loosen everyone up and engage them with the subject at the start. Say, you’re brainstorming a new chair design. Have your team spend the first minutes talking about chairs. What they like. What they hate. Cool chairs. Boring chairs. Do something fun. Suspend a chair from the ceiling. Have a chair race. If folks are smiling and laughing and freely talking about the subject, you’ve done it just right.
  • Leave titles at the door. Everyone is equal in a brainstorm session and no one is more expert than another. This goes for the facilitator, as well. The facilitator is there to keep the ideas flowing. Not to be a subject matter expert.
  • Absolutely no judgment or criticism of ideas during the session (If you can have only one rule. This is it!).
  • Building on others’ ideas is encouraged. Highly!
  • Set a time limit.

3. The wrong people. Or too many of ‘em.

All kinds of people can be surprisingly and extraordinarily creative when you manage your brainstorm session right. But someone who cannot set aside negative or judgmental feelings will hurt your progress. If you find yourself with someone who continually tramples ideas, make sure they know the ground rules. And if they still don’t get it, politely un-invite them. They’re not helping you.

So who do you invite? Invite a mix of good thinkers, people you trust to be enthused by the subject matter and people outside your normal sphere of influence. It’s good to create a new mix. People who don’t all know one another or what to expect.

What’s a good, productive number of people with which to brainstorm?

A small handful. Three to five, highly active and energized participants. That’s all you need. Too many people is actually worse than too few.

I recall being invited by the leader of separate client group to a brainstorm session for a new product launch. When I walked in the door there were already more than a dozen people. After a few minutes the brainstorm group mounted up to a total of 35 people. What happened? Fewer than 10 of those people became active contributors. The rest hung back. Not because they didn’t have ideas. I knew many of these people to be strong concept people. No, they hung back because they could. It’s easy to hide or to think others have better ideas when a group is too large. The result: Time wasted. Brain power misplaced. Potentially great ideas lost.

Got more people? Break them into teams. Have them cluster in different spots in the room. Or hold separate sessions with each group. Use them to expand the territory instead of covering the same ground over and over. Use them to build on ideas.

4. The wrong time.

Brainstorming is a high energy activity. So hold them when people have the greatest energy. Not right after lunch or at the end of the day when energy is low.

Keep your brainstorm sessions rather short, too. Think of brainstorming like running a sprint. Or a series of sprints. You want loads of energy and speed right off the gun. But you can’t run at sprint speed for a marathon brainstorm session.

5. The wrong energy.

Negative energy absolutely withers participation and kills ideas. Brainstorm sessions should be relaxed and fun. Like game play. It’s hard to downplay the significance of one negative apple in a brainstorming bunch.

So be positive or go home. Build on ideas or leave them alone.

6. Forgetting to forget what you know.

You’re trying to discover new ideas and breakthrough solutions in a brainstorm. What you know—old ideas, old ways and old solutions—get in the way. So invite all the subject matter experts you like. Just be sure they know the ground rules. No experts! And no, “You can’t do that because…” kind of thinking.

This can be deceptively difficult to do.

Pablo Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

If you’re going to blaze an entirely new trail, you need to free yourselves of what you know. Forget budgets. Forget time constraints. Forget what’s possible. What you’re shooting for is the “impossible.” Don’t let reality get in the way. There’ll be plenty of time for that later.

7. Too few ideas.

Quantity rules! The more ideas, the better. The more unusual or contradictory an idea, the better. Make waves. Encourage wild ideas. Don’t worry about “bad” ideas. Remember no ideas are bad ideas during a brainstorm session. In fact, any idea can be a springboard that gets someone to make a connection to a concept that leads another person to leap ahead to THE big idea.

Striving for quantity also helps focus the team on generating and building ideas—the task at hand—rather than criticizing them. Which keeps everything positive and growing.

8. Judging early.

Criticism makes people hesitant to share their ideas. Think about it. If someone continually knocks your thoughts, how do you feel?

You feel fearful.

You worry that you're going to be criticized. That your ideas don't measure up. So how inclined are you to share new ideas? The simple answer is less. And that's not what we want. We want more. Bigger. Wilder. Better.

There’s a time for judgment. It’s after the brainstorm. Not during! Ever.

9. Being too restrictive.

Another form of judging early. If you narrow your range down, you’ll narrow down your solution set. Brainstorming is not the time to be focused and narrow. It’s a time to be open and receptive.

10. The wrong expectation.

Brainstorm ideas are not finished works. They’re fresh, green, immature.

Someone once suggested that we should think of brainstorm ideas as baby ideas. I love this analogy because you don’t expect the same things from a baby that you do from an adult. Of course, not. You nurture a baby. Foster it and help it to thrive and grow. And so you should with brainstorm ideas. Don’t expect baby ideas to stand up to adult scrutiny. Remember, it’s not good to judge early. Get out there are feed those baby ideas.

11. Stealing the joy of birthing a great, big idea from the team that birthed it.

Two kinds of thievery exist, here. Glory hounds. And Control Freaks.

Brainstorming is a social act of generosity. Once someone develops a glory hound reputation, their teams know it. And suddenly that team becomes cautious with their ideas. Why share your best thoughts when you know so-and-so is going to “steal your idea” and take credit for it? Great brainstormers are not in it for the personal glory.

Control freaks are just as damaging.

They like to take the brainstorm ideas from the team and then go back to their little cube and “work it out.” Here’s a better suggestion. Why not have the team that develops an idea push it further? More about how in our next installment.

12. Stopping at the first good idea when what you need is a great idea.

Good is just plain dangerous. Because it can prevent you from reaching for a great idea.

So try this. Once you’ve generated a bunch of ideas. Throw them out. That’s right. Toss ‘em aside and have the team continue to brainstorm. Tell them there’s good stuff in here, but we’re working for great! Again and again, the best ideas come after everyone gets the initial thoughts out of their system. The first thoughts are usually the expected things. The ones closest to what you know. The ones you may have heard of before. The ones still in charted waters.

So push for greatness. Especially when you have a good idea in hand.

Check back for our next installment, Brainstorming-Part II: Making it Go where we’ll pick up with brainstorming techniques that work and what to do with all those ideas you came up with.

Artwork: Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Guitar, 1922. Oil on canvas. Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne, Switzerland, from Olga's Gallery. Picasso Factory at Horta de Ebro 1909. Drawing, Femme.

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kodak’s Bold Print and Prosper Campaign

Will it reposition the brand to compete in a digital world?

Quick, what are the biggest not-so-well-kept secrets about inkjet printers? C’mon, you know. Everyone knows!

Printers are economical. Ink is expensive.

Many of us spend more on ink in a year than we do on our printers and Kodak is out to change all that for people who love to print a lot.

On March 29, Kodak launched, “Print and Prosper,” a new integrated marketing campaign behind its newest All-in-One inkjet printers. The campaign stakes claim to a bold, value-oriented position that plays well in these economic times:

Switch to Kodak All-in-One inkjet printers and, “Stop overpaying for ink.”

Fully integrated campaign

Kodak reaches out to consumers on television, through a custom online application, social networking sites, bloggers and Twitter followers. In-store execution so far appears missing and, though a Kodak spokesperson declined to comment, it will be interesting to see if the campaign travels in-store.

This campaign is a bold departure from the warm-and-fuzzy Kodak Moments of the past.

TV advertising exclaims, "Drip by drip your wallet is being drained every time you hit "print" on your inkjet printer. Last year America paid the big printer companies $5 billion too much for ink. Feeling ripped off? Then stop overpaying for ink.... Switch to a Kodak printer that only uses fairly priced ink."

In print, Kodak suggests, “The world's most expensive liquid isn't found in the Middle East. It's found in your inkjet printer cartridges….Switch to Kodak and stop overpaying for ink.” Other ads lead with, “Last Year, America Paid $5 Billion Too Much for Inkjet Printer Ink.” And, “There is a $5 Billion Stain on the U.S. Economy and it’s Coming from Your Printer.”

Each of the executions directs consumers to an online application, “Find out how much you overpay for ink at Kodak”

Where does this disruptive new Kodak spirit come from?

A brand that needs to strategically reinvent itself

Kodak, a company still affectionately known for the warmth of its film-based legacy, needs to shake things up if it’s to succeed in a digital world.

“Resuscitating the Kodak brand won't be easy. In 2001, Kodak was ranked the 27th-most-valuable brand in the world, according to Omnicom’s Interbrand. Last year, it fell off Interbrand's closely followed list of the top 100 global brands.” according to a Wall Street Journal article by Suzanne Vranica March 30, 2009.

Worse, Kodak, once the world’s giant in film-based image making, is far behind the digital market share leaders. “HP (Hewlett-Packard) owns the printer ink and printer toner market. With greater than 45% market share, nearly every printer manufacturer is gunning for HP.” according to ConcordSupplies blog, March 13, 2008.

Disruption built on consumer insight

Printer ink is priced like razors and razor blades, where the handles are loss leaders and blades are the high-margin money makers. A Nov. 19, 2007 study, “Inkjet Prices, Printing Costs and Consumer Welfare” Larry F. Darby and Stephen B. Pociask, published by the non-profit American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, states.

“Inkjet printers are priced with little or no margin and, according to some authorities, well below cost in many cases….In turn, inkjet printer ink cartridges are priced inordinately high in most cases, as a means to compensate for low or negative printer margins, consistent with the well-known razor/razor blade model, wherein the durable assets (razors or printers) are sold below cost and “consumables” (blades or ink) are marked up substantially.”

Kodak Public Relations Manager, Jacqueline Mangione states that, “According to Kodak’s research, the top consumer dissatisfier when it comes to printing has been the high cost of ink.”

Saving money on operating costs—namely high margin ink cartridges—plays off consumer insight that’s been as obvious as it’s been avoided, like a sacred cash cow, by the industry. That’s part of the wisdom behind Kodak’s boldness. Because everyone knows the “secret,” it instantly connects with the target, heavy printers.

The campaign addresses a real consumer issue—and aims to put Kodak All-in-Ones into consumers’ considered set where it lags behind competitors from Brother, Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark.

Driven from the top

If you want to know a company’s strategic direction, look to see what the boss is saying.

Kodak Chairman and CEO, Antonio M. Perez, who joined the company 2003, is “leading the worldwide transformation of Kodak from a business based on film to one based primarily on digital technologies,” according to his Kodak bio. “In the past four years, Kodak introduced an array of disruptive new digital technologies [author’s emphasis].”

In a Bloomberg Press interview with Meg Tirrell, Perez, who spent 25 years at Hewlett-Packard helping develop its printers, “pegged the devices as one of Kodak’s three ‘core investments.’” They’re that important.

In that same Bloomberg Press reference, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President, connects the campaign with the company’s founder. “George Eastman wanted to make photography affordable for everyone….Now we’re trying to make printing affordable for everyone.”

“Paying too much for printer ink is a financial black hole that consumers can easily avoid.” adds Hayzlett in a March 30 Kodak press release.

Heavily supported by social media

Kodak incorporated social media as an integral part of its campaign, holding a live and virtual blogger event in New York city, March 29.

According to Kodak Chief Blogger, Jenny Cisney, “Using social media is about going where the people are, not making them come to you. If they are on blogs, Twitter or Facebook, then that is where we need to be. It’s all about being helpful, finding out what people need and providing value.”

The event, centered around household money saving tips from noted personal finance journalist and author of “Money & Happiness,” Laura Rowley. According to Cisney, Kodak, “directly reached the more than 20 participants, and 30 additional people via Twitter during the event.” Participants also learned from Rowley about how Kodak All-in-One printers can help consumers save on ink costs.

At the time this posting is being written, Social Mention counts nearly 60 blog mentions. And Twitter Search racks up 557 mentions over the days since the campaign broke. The Kodak “Dripping” commercial has been viewed over 500 times on YouTube. Strong social performance.

Certainly strong enough to put Kodak Print and Prosper on the radar screen of inkjet market leader HP.

Angela LoSasso, U.S. Social Media Manager, HP’s Imaging and Printing Group ( has been listening and writing for HP since Dec. 2006. She personally contacted this author (who tweets at and, “a few people who had expressed interest in learning more about Kodak’s cost of ink claims. Because we saw similar claims back in 2007 and because those claims were reviewed by independent, qualified and credible sources, I felt that information was contextual and valuable to bloggers, media and shoppers alike.”

LoSasso’s reactions are captured on the HP Communities Inkjet Printing Blog.

Will boldness deliver results

“This is a big, bold idea that doesn’t tiptoe around the issue and lets consumers know Kodak is on their side,” said Linda Sawyer, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsch Inc. “Kodak has a longstanding, deep and emotional relationship with consumers and, by exposing this issue, that relationship will only become stronger.” tells a Kodak press release.

Boldness has a dark side, and can sometimes create a backlash. It also has a time limit.

Print and Prosper will have to show results if it’s to portend a brighter future for Kodak. One thing is certain. Transforming a company with a film-based legacy into a digital realty does not call for baby steps. As a result, it appears strategically essential for Kodak to be bold.

Marketplace reaction

AdWeek awarded the television commercial a creative Ad-of-the-Day mention. But not everyone at AdWeek agrees about the campaign. In “Kodak Goes Negative,” columnist, Barbara Lippert asks, “How can [Kodak] just drop all that equity by selling ink at half price?" Of course, once you’ve fallen off Interbrand’s Top 100 brand’s list, you have to wonder just how much equity is there—and start selling printers.

Ultimately, the number one success metric is sales

Hayzlett demonstrates Kodak’s sales-driven focus as he steps away from the warm-and-fuzzy approach that once typified the company. "We have to have ads that drive sales," he says in a March 30 WSJ article.

I agree.

Kodak has to create a new brand. Holding tight to the past will not turn Kodak digital. I also believe over time, should Kodak succeed with its daring digital rebranding, it will be able to reconnect with its warm heart. Then, lookout. What do you think?

All images, identity, logos, © their respective owners.

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Why Every Social Media Marketer Should Read “The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited”

“We talk because we are programmed to talk.”*

Before we coined the phrase, social media marketing. Before the tools (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) that we now take for granted were even available. There was word-of-mouth marketing—Buzz! For me, one man put buzz on the map and set the stage for today’s booming social scene. Emanuel Rosen.

Rosen first wrote about the importance of brand relationships and using person-to-person conversations to successfully market products in his book, “The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing,” published in 2000.

The original has been a staple of my reference library since it went into print. The strategies it describes help explain why customer relationships matter. They tell how cultivating conversations creates relationships that build business. The book inspired the development of innumerable concepts and client presentations. And it formed an important foundation for a graduate-level marketing communications class I teach.

Nine years later, Rosen is back with his new book, and a dramatic update, “The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-life Lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing.” Today, he kicks off a buzz-inspired book signing tour here in Chicago. (More on that later.)

“Real-life Lessons” takes buzz beyond the original

  • More original buzz thinking. Even if you have the first edition, the new edition brings so much new thinking and material, you’ll want the update. According to the intro, 12 of the book’s 24 chapters are entirely new.
  • Real-life examples bring buzz to life. Everything from the buzz created when the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile comes to town (they were in a parade in St. Petersburg, FL yesterday according to their Twitter account)…to the reason why Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home was a place many Great Depression-era visitors would stop and ask for food or a drink of water…to the always popular “Will it Blend (Have you seen the bailout blended yet?).”
  • Why not to fear negative comments. Rosen cites a Kingston University in London study that finds 30% of the negative word of mouth was about brands that had never been owned by the people who talked about them. Then tells what you can do about them.
  • Broadening of buzz include visual conversations. Now that we all have access to inexpensive tools like camera phones, the Flip Video camera and visual media like, Skype, YouTube, our conversations have incorporated pictures and video.
  • The importance of hubs. Find out the key distinction between an evangelist and a hub. And why calling one of Microsoft’s 4,000 MVPs an evangelist is a no-no. Hint: hubs “gain status not from their source of information but from the people who listen to them.”
  • Buzz measured. When the original release hit the streets, the thinking was that Buzz was so ephemeral, that it couldn’t be accurately measured. Now we know differently.
  • Answers the question, “Can you live on buzz alone? While there are some who believe that advertising is dead and doesn’t matter anymore, Rosen says, “The truth is that very few products can live on buzz alone.”
  • Buzz workshop. Possibly one of the most valuable chapters, once you understand how and where Buzz works, is the last, which Rosen calls his “Buzz Workshop.” Here, he provides a series of questions designed to help you think about how buzz fits with the products or services you’re marketing. And it starts by asking whether the products or services you’re offering will impress your customers.

Follow the buzz tour

Touring the U.S. in support of his new book, Rosen could do no less than dramatically use word-of-mouth—teaming up with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and their environmentally-friendly, veggie oil-powered bus to spread the news.

How well does this buzz thing work for Rosen? Well, buzz is how I found out about Rosen’s new book. How I found out about his book tour. And how I worked with the Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business, where I teach, to bring him there to visit with students and fellow faculty. (Am I on my road to becoming a hub?)

I’ll be joining Rosen as he continues his Chicago leg tomorrow at Loyola University and IIT Stuart. Follow him yourself and share the social media marketing buzz.

*Emanuel Rosen, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-life Lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing p70.

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.