A Hopeful Change For The Better

I’m finally on my way home from Las Vegas after being here for 5 days.  That is just way too long to be here.  As excited as I was to go to CES 2011, I’m even more excited to be going home to Julianne and the kids.  I miss my family, my bed and my friends and am looking forward to life resuming to normalcy when I land in Detroit.

But that’s not what I’m writing about as I wait for my plane.  What I’m writing about is a decision that I made right after the new year.  I decided to give up alcohol.  Big deal, right?  Well for me it was.  I thought and prayed about it for a while and ultimately decided this was exactly what I wanted to do especially because I knew I was going to Las Vegas the following week.

You may ask, “Why?”.  Well let me share those reasons with you.  First, I began to not like how I felt the day after.  To that you might say, “Well, don’t drink so much!”  I actually don’t drink that much anymore.  I just started noticing that even after 1 or 2 beers, I still felt miserable the following day.  That started to get my attention and get the thought process rolling.

I think the most important reason was something that I’ve been processing for a while.  As Christians, we are in a daily battle for our soul.  I believe it’s spiritual in nature and attacks you when and where you are weakest.  If you’re not careful or not paying attention, the things we struggle with can rise up and and take over.  I recently read the following verse from 1 Peter 5:8:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

This idea of “lion looking for someone to devour” was so true especially here in Las Vegas.  We all know the saying, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”  Well, I didn’t want to have any regrets after my time here and in order for me to be able to do that, I needed to be “of sober mind.”  Mission accomplished and honestly, it wasn’t that difficult to do.  I was still able to have fun without the influence of alcohol.  I was able to get up early and work out in the morning, which I needed to do especially with all the GREAT food I ate this week.

I was overwhelmed at the support I received from my friends and family when I told them what I decided.  Many asked why I decided to do this and that was actually difficult to answer in a short conversation so that drove the inspiration for this post.  Hopefully I answered the question for you.  If not, let me know in the comments below and I can try and dive deeper.

By the way, please send encouragement to my friend Dave Murray who has made a similar decision!  Good luck, Dave!  You know you have my support!

Then What?

Today’s post is all about Detroit.  Actually, my last post was about Detroit too.  Go figure.  I guess Detroit has been on my mind a lot lately.  Over the last few days, I’ve seen Eric Proulx‘s trailer float around the interwebs on Facebook and on Twitter.  It’s an AMAZING piece that I hope becomes a reality.  If you go to Lemonade Detroit, you’ll get an idea for the inspiration for the movie.  What I’m looking forward to the most, is Eric bringing to life what is good in the city instead of what has traditionally been shown when people do stories about our city.

“Lemonade: Detroit” is a film about the disarming resilience of a city that can no longer rely on a single industry for its livelihood, and the entrepreneurial strengths of those who are reinventing themselves and their communities.

Instead of sensationalizing blight, “Lemonade, Detroit” will sensationalize hope, told through the intensely personal stories of those who are turning the city into what it will become.

Lemonade: Detroit Trailer on Vimeo

This message is very similar to what a group of people hope to accomplish with Future Midwest.  You’ve read my thoughts on this local conference previously but they are worth a reminder.  One person in particular who I believe exemplifies the fighting spirit of Detroit and Michigan is Dave Murray.  I feature him today because (1) it’s Follow Friday and (2) today is his birthday!  Two really good reasons if you ask me.  I’ve gotten to know Dave over the summer and have really been inspired by his heart and his passion for this area.  He does what he can to promote the city and looks for ways to recognize others for their efforts.  I can’t imagine a better person to recommend to you today other than him.  He sees that this region needs to redefine itself and ask the question, then what?

Happy birthday, Dave!  Enjoy your day!

Old Spice: Instant Case Study on Social Web Success

Absolutely hilarious.  That was my first thought as I started seeing the Old Spice guy make it’s way through my twitter stream yesterday.  Old Spice has taken it to the next level by having Isaiah Mustafa, also known as Old Spice Guy, respond by video to comments on its YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.  What started out with a commercial has quickly turned into an instant case study on how to integrate the social web into a traditional campaign.

I’m always looking for ways to get the ideas and concepts behind the social web accepted.  Case studies certainly help.  The thing I find most interesting, however, is that these concepts really aren’t new.  If you are trying to “sell” a brand to a consumer, the best way to do it is by building relationships with the people you want to buy your products.  This typically means thinking about your consumer first and what their needs are.

If you think about traditional marketing methods, it generally begins with launch planning, big media spending to air a 30 second commercial, billboards, magazine ads, etc.  How can “we” (insert brand here) get our message out to the most people in the quickest way possible?  Oh by the way, we have our website, facebook page and twitter account that we can also use to blast our messages to everyone.

I do believe these still have merit but what I do think is that brands (my company included) need to go back to thinking about what our customers want and not what we want.  I was fortunate enough to sit in a presentation from Jason Falls (Social Media Explorer) today.  One of his final points was for marketers (today’s talk was geared towards GM and its divisions) to think beyond the web.  To me, this meant thinking about coming up with marketing and promotions that integrate all aspects of consumer touch points which includes the social web.

  1. What can we do to help people connect?
  2. What can we do to enhance their online or offline experience?
  3. What can we do to facilitate and encourage sharing?
  4. What can we do to drive them to the showroom?

These were great questions that I hope encourages all of us to go back to the basics of what (I believe) marketing is all about…the consumer.

Technology has given consumers the means to ignore traditional marketing methods today.  Think about the DVR and how many commercials you watch.  What are you Mr. Marketer going to do to not be ignored and get to know the people you want to buy your products?

For another great case study, check out Dave Murray‘s post “Case Study: ‘Salty’ Is My New Hero“.

Build Your Community and Embrace It!

Over the past week, thoughts of “community” have been racing around my head.  This started when I heard a podcast with Dave Murray (@davemurr) and Sarah Worsham (@sazbean) talking about the social web and community.  It’s well worth the time and I highly recommend you listen HERE.  I’m a big fan of takeaways and there were 8 that resonated with me after hearing Dave speak.

  1. Don’t build community around your product
  2. Communities are based off of needs and passions
  3. Communities are wrapped around people and communication…product is secondary
  4. True community is allowed to grow through its own organic process
  5. The Social Web is a long term strategy…word of mouth and action happening off line
  6. Introductions are made online but meaningful connections happen in real life (confirmed by Scott Stratten, @unmarketing, today)
  7. Communities cultivate brand loyalty (see Joseph Jaffe, @jaffejuice)
  8. Putting a face / personality to a company allows for a deeper connection

What does this all mean?  To me, if you can develop and embrace a community, you’ll be able to mobilize a group of people around a common interest and take action.  Tools like Google Alerts (thanks Gini Dietrich), Facebook and Twitter allow this conversation to happen immediately.  Why not leverage them to listen to your audience and provide a value to your growing community?  If companies and organizations saw the social web as a long term investment instead of another platform for one-way communication, I’m confident they would ultimately see the ever popular ROI they long for.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) last week, founder of the 140 Conference Series.  His visit to Detroit was to kick off the planning for the conference to make its way to the Motor City on October 20th.  I’m honored to be part of the team to help bring it here and put Detroit on the national stage for 2 days.  Since then, Jeff has mentioned on many occasions that he believes this conference will be special because of the people and the spirit he’s encountered in his brief visit.  I think if you asked any of us that got to hang out with him, this is another extension of the energy we felt after the Future Midwest Conference earlier this year.  There is a community of people that live in metro Detroit that want to help turn this region around and make it a national destination.  The opening video from Future Midwest still gives me chills.  Watch it below to see what I mean.

The final thought I’ll leave you with is this.  The social web is about one thing and one thing only…people.  There is not magic tool or “trick” to be successful at it.  As long as you have a personality and value the people you’re CONVERSING  WITH, you’ll have success.

Your turn.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Have a great week!

Future Midwest 2010

On April 16 and 17, I attended Future Midwest 2010 in Royal Oak, Michigan.  This conference brought together some of the brightest minds in the digital and technology world for 2 days in Metro Detroit.

At a high level, the words “inspiring” and “motivating” capture the spirit of what this conference was all about.  Below is the opening video that represents Future Midwest.  It’s great to see the reaction of everyone as we watched this on Friday and again on Saturday.  It still brings a chill…

Over the next few days, my good friend Bryan Willmert (@BryanWillmert) and myself will be recapping for you our experiences and thoughts of Future Midwest.  We hope ours and the other blogs and stories that are written about it will give you hope that Detroit and the Midwest can be known as a hub of digital technology and innovation for years to come.

Future Midwest…Innovate.  Collaborate.  Communicate.