Throwing Stones First – Ask Questions Later

Background…during August 11 and 12, Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit is going on.  Church leaders, as well as leaders from businesses from around the country come and speak during this 2 day event.  Well this year, Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, was scheduled to speak but cancelled after an online petition insisted he denounce Willow Creek’s views on homosexuality.

This post isn’t a debate on Willow Creek’s views on homosexuality, but more about Bill Hybels and Willow Creek’s response to the group that started the petition.  Watch the video below from yesterday’s first session and you’ll see what I mean.

What I completely appreciate is hearing Bill Hybels talk about respect for others regardless of differences of opinion or belief.  At issue here is human sexuality but the folks at Willow Creek do not turn people away.  They are completely welcomed and treated with respect, however, ALL will be challenged according to the teachings of the Bible but it is done in a way to maintain the relationship rather than divide and separate from the church.

I’ve seen this come from people that call themselves Christians too and it is just as disheartening.  My final thought to you is to remember the heart and soul of people.  We were all created to think and have our own beliefs.  Having those differences should be the catalyst for a respectful dialogue rather than making assumptions or questioning character.

If you’re interested in what is coming out of the conference search #WCAGLS on Twitter for all of the awesomeness coming from Chicago!

Why I Think Foursquare Matters

Over the past week, I’ve seen quite a few blogs and articles on the relevance of Foursquare and any other location based service.  Titles like Why Most Marketers Should Forgo Foursquare and The Time for Foursquare Marketing is…Later? might lead you to believe companies should wait to see if there is any benefit to these services.

These articles go on to provide statistics on the usage.  “Only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps.”  That percentage might seem small but I would argue that although small the opportunity to lead is greater with limited risk.  My friend Gini Dietrich broke it down this way in her blog post about the location based technologies:

Worldwide, nearly 2 billion people use the Internet and, in North America, there are more than 265 million. If 4 percent use Foursquare, that’s 80 million people worldwide and nearly 11 million people in North America. If you break it down even further and say you only want to reach the 1 percent who check in at least once a week, that’s still 800,000 worldwide and 106,000 people in North America.

If it were up to me, I think a test market with the sample size of 106,000 is enough to get learnings on the best way to use these services.  There are enough ideas to test and the brand or marketer that can figure it out first (congratulate Starbucks on being one of the first) will be a step ahead of those just starting to think about it.

So why am I writing another blog post about the location-based services?  I have a personal example of why these can be an extension of a company’s marketing efforts.  Last week, I was in the process of getting a loan to buy a car at Cornerstone Community Financial.  I was there a couple of times and checked in on Foursquare eventually getting the mayorship of that branch.  As I went through my day yesterday, I received this tweet from Cornerstone telling me because I was mayor, I won a $5 gift card to Blockbuster!

This isn’t a huge deal but this is what it told me:

  • Cornerstone was paying attention to who visited their business by using the social web
  • They value their customers by rewarding them for repeat business

I’m now impressed with them and am thinking about changing banks as I listen to Julianne complain about PNC as she does our monthly budget.  (As a side note, if you go to PNC’s Twitter page, they clearly state the account is “intended for distribution only.”)  I think most of us as consumers might find even this little token of appreciation enough to think about a switch.  All this for just a check in!

The final thing I’ll leave you with is this video from Charlie Wollborg.  He talks about how Foursquare can be used to encourage others to vote.

Imagine the possibilities if you take advantage of a minuscule 4% of the online adult population.  Does it matter to you?  Is it worth the risk?

Random Thoughts

A couple of things…

Over the last week, I’ve seen 2 really great examples of companies that are looking beyond ROI and profits to get their brands out to the public.  They are doing good in their community and allowing people to take a part in it.  Social Causes.  Volunteering.  Putting others needs before yours.  I truly believe that if we all just gave a little bit of ourselves to others, we could make such a huge difference in this world.  When I see companies that recognize this, I get really excited and want to watch how these things impact a community.  Take a look at what Starbucks is doing on Thursday, April 15th and what Chevrolet just kicked off this week.

The Big Picture, A Green Project from Starbucks

Building Diamonds and Dreams from Chevrolet, Major League Baseball and Scotts

If you’re still not convinced because you don’t there are any benefits, then check out this blog post from Tai Goodwin.  She lists 6 ways volunteering can boost your career.  These should at least get your mind thinking about doing some good in the community.

  1. It can fuel your passion
  2. You can practice new skills
  3. Volunteer your way into a potential job
  4. Volunteering is a way to expand your network
  5. Exposure to new ways of doing things
  6. You can use it as a team building experience

Topic 2:

I’ve become a huge Gary Vaynerchuk fan.  He is passionate about customer service.  That’s how he’s made his living.  Companies should think about what he’s saying and if they aren’t doing some of the things he suggests, then do them.  In the video below, he talks about how today is a “what have you done for me lately” world.  It’s not about looking at research months after a promotion.  Tools like Twitter Search or Google Alerts can give you real time information on what people are saying about your brands.  It’s up to those brands to engage in the conversation.  Check it out.

Those are my random thoughts for the day.  I’d love to hear your feedback on volunteering and what Gary Vaynerchuk said in his video.  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.