Monday, September 28, 2009

The multiple personalities of Apple

I'm only a new convert to Apple. My MacBook Pro (my first) is only a couple of months old. I don't have an iPhone.

Apple is all colours and glitz; is joyful; is easy; one-click; two-finger scroll.

I love its usability, Apple instinctively knows how things are connected, that iPhoto and Flickr are a great match, that iMovie should upload to YouTube.

But then there are those updates that come through all the time. iTunes 9.0 is available (that'll be 90mb thanks), QuickTime has an updated (55mb, cheers), we took out all the printer drivers to make Snow Leopard lighter (great!) but if you want your printer driver back you can download the drivers (274mb, not great).

I also haven't had the best customer service when something came unstuck with my MacBook Pro. Apple stores and their licensed dealers seem to be stocked full of hipsters that don't have a lot of 'can I help you?' about them (having said that I have found one guy that is great, pity he can't solve all my problems).

Then comes the issue of Apple's secrecy. Sure, it might be great for that wow factor in new releases, but is it (allegedly) worth workers lives? For a publicly traded company questions are also being asked about corporate transparency.

For me it seems that the gulf between brand Apple and company Apple is too wide.

Is it possible that a brand can be separated from its company? Is this sustainable? I guess it has worked for Apple for the past decade or so, why shouldn't it continue?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goin' large from your organisation

Agencies will deride our poor camera work and lack of quality, but this little gem is letting our organisation go large in ways we've never been able to before.

What's in the box is one of the tools that is giving my organisation the opportunity to go out large no only to its members, but also as importantly, to the staff in the offices around the world.

Using a consumer level HD video camera we're now able to record messages from staff and members, stream events live to members in remote regions, and generally be on-call to record important moments in our organisation that otherwise might have been consigned to history.

Here's just a snapshot of what we've been able to achieve in four months:

+ Senior managers recorded a short bio of themselves for members
+ The organisation president recorded a welcome message for members as he was not able to attend an event
+ The CEO and senior managers recorded a warm-up video for a staff event happening overseas
+ A conference session was live-streamed from Perth into Second-Life

... and coming up

+ We'll be recording vox-pops of members attending our annual Congress
+ Live-streaming more conference sessions for regional members
+ And recording many more staff and member stories

Here's what's under the hood:

+ Canon HV30 HD video camera (we chose the HV30 as its firewire out-put allows us to use the camera for live-streaming, something flash memory HD cameras cannot do).
+ Firewire 800 cable
+ Rode VideoMic for awesome sound
+ Plenty of mini DV tapes
+ One really tough case for our travels

You can pick up all that plus a nice tripod for under $1500, that's about one days worth of video from an agency. The biggest cost for our organisation was a Macbook with FinalCut Express as we didn't have one previously, but I'm sure most other organisations have a Mac or two.

One of the greatest things about having a camera inside the organisation is that now for those spur of the moment opportunities we don't need to go to an agency and get a quote, book a time an manage the post-production. Our camera gives us the flexibility to be on-call and record the stories as we need. Sure there's a little additional blood and sweat in editing and encoding the files ourselves, but I'm loving learning a new skill.

As yet none of our Semi-Pro (alright, amateur!) productions have made it to our YouTube channel - all our productions have gone large inside the business. But I'm sure in time you'll be seeing our handy work in the big lights of YouTube. Really, now that you can pick up an HD camera for about $1000 and a studio quality microphone for $150, the (YouTube ready) quality takes care of itself and what we can concentrate on is being on call to capture the best stories we can.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Social media from outside the marketing department

It's been a little over 12 months since I left the marketing department at work. I'm now sitting in a small team that is curiously called Knowledge Exchange and essentially our role is to "help members connect with each other online and share experiences" (that's how I put it).

I've had a fantastic time in the role because it has given me the freedom to voraciously learn about everything that online collaboration/networking/sharing can offer. I've got my million-and-one accounts on every service possible; I'm talking to people I would never have met were it not for the Interwebz and all up I think I've had a bloody educational year.

But one of the biggest things that it has taught me is that doing this stuff just ain't natural to everyone. For the past four or five months I've been having regular catch-ups with my old marketing team to get them on-board as advocates for online collaboration.

While it is true a person's need is the first step in deciding what and indeed if collaboration should be online, in these meetings we've decided to have a bit of a taste-test to learn about the fun things that live online. The team has tasted forums, blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube... the works. And in the end I think that the biggest learning I've had is that for most of these tools and platforms you simply can't explain the benefit - you have to experience the benefit.

And that's a bloody hard sell. The whole "trust me" line just doesn't cut the mustard when a member receives their 4th email for the month.

Deborah Schultz, partner at the emerging tech strategy consultancy Altimeter, also shows in her P&G digital hack night, the 'jump-in' mind-set of a digital native/convert is different from the 'planned' marketing mind-set. Marketing, as creative as it might sound to the outsider, is actually about tangible benefits and direct outputs - $1,000 input gives me 6% return gives me $20,000 sales. It's logical, it's tested, it works. Marketing reads the instructions, figures out how it works and then applies the correct procedures.

Sitting outside the marketing department has given me a new appreciation for the act of marketing, especially in this new world of 'experiences'. The digital native/convert has accepted that the world simply has too many experiences and opportunities to sit down and read the instructions. You simply gotta jump in and go for a ride. If you don't like it get out, get in the next one, try something else. You'll find the one that you get a benefit from soon enough. Try marketing that! And everybody's 'it' is different to the next.

The best I could say is get your story right and tell your story through the experiences that you market. And it doesn't all have to be digital. Red Bull is a great example of a company/brand that has a story to tell through the experiences it markets and I bet their marketing spend is 90% off-line.

So in a little over twelve months a curious thing has happened to me, my walls of data and measures that direct-marketing taught me have started to crumble. Instead I'm now talking about stories and experiences, about failing, collaborating, talking with people not at them.

... I think I have a long way to go to win over the marketing department but I'll keep working at it. Good luck to all you other digitals out there converting the analogue marketing departments of yesterday.