Marketing and Your Community

Since I have not been in Charlotte very long, nor am I in the group of  “powerhouse marketers” here, I am sure that my opinions about community-centered marketing have gone unseen, or unheard. I understand that, and in no way am I offended by it.

But now, I have others to back the theory up.  Marketing and community should never be tackled separately. One complements the other.

1. Here is the first opinion, Douglas Atkins from Forbes’ Online Marketing Section. I will highlight the article. Also, see how this article coincides with my “marketing cult” post from March 09. Atkins outlines these main points about building a brand around a community

-Enable people who are passionate about your product
-Enable a community of shared skill (talent, aptitude)
-Enable a community of shared needs
-Sponsor existing communities of shared needs, passions,  or causes
-Champion causes for social change

And Atkins provides brilliant example for each tenet. But his main point shows that marketing and communications-now, more than ever- need to have its foundation built in communities. Through communal consumption or geographic location, the need for community is there. And it is our job as marketers and communicators to provide it.

2. The second opinion comes from a wonderful blog called PR-Squared. There, it had a guest blogger by the name of David Alston who talked about the importance/relevance of “community equity.”

This post is extremely interesting, because it ponders how to describe the value of the activities associated with a company within a community, compared to the company withholding all activity (not being there at all).

Two very interesting opinions with one common theme: marketers and communicators should be dedicating serious attention to their communities. And note: an audience, like Atkins states in his article, is not a community. People must participate. They must be engaged. Then, applying Alston’s claim, measuring the value on that engagement can really change how we look at our society, and marketing as a whole. Too cool.

Your thoughts are appreciated.




The Seven Works of Marketing

As professional communicators, we have a job to do. We are the ones chosen to bring the message about business to our audiences. Too many of our brethren have taken this position lightly. Even more get sucked up with the trends and “latest” in the industry, they forget why we’re here. Let’s bring it back to basics. Outlined like the Seven Works of Mercy, here are the works of Marketing.

1. Give a voice to an organization

2. Tell the truth to the consumer

3. Influence behavior

4. Denounce wrongdoing

5. Bring Awareness to down communities

6. Adapt with trends

7. Increase the Quality of Life for society

We can do big things with good communications.


Spot the Trend Before it Happens: The Black Swan Theory

I cannot remember if I wrote about the Black Swan Theory before, so if I did, my loyal readers, bear with me.

Like I’ve said before, I love to dabble in behavioral economics. It fascinates me. Perhaps it is the symmetry it has with consumer behavior. Or the way it combines data with behavior and economics that really tickles me. In any case, the black swan theory has an particular use for marketers and communicators: predicting trends.

The theory suggests that there are little, barely noticeable events that happen, and multiply that then create  seemingly unpredictable HUGE events (i.e. the Great Depression, the .Com bubble burst, the Great Recession, Reality TV).

So how does that apply to marketing and communicators? Let’s take the rise of social media and apply gradual, seemingly unrelated events together and see where the relevance lies.

The Events:
-The rise of divorce in the U.S.
-The increase of work hours a week
-The rising price of gas
-The rise of U.S. Suburbia

The Effects:

– Large base of single, dating, and/or bored people
-Working more, more time on the computer, less time interacting with people, family
-Increased demand for real-time results and faster information flow
-Less traveling via car/plane
-Less concentrated business areas

With putting those events and effects together, is it then a real surprise that social media became so big? With interaction with people becoming more difficult, our society is brilliant enough to create easier, faster ways to communicate.

Now let’s apply this Black Swan theory. What is the next big event? What are the little events happening? Here is my opinion:

Trends to watch:
-Dependence on social networks
-Shift from fossil fuels
-Emphasis on local/community buildup
-Rebirth of “youthful” cities
-Federal Government expansion
-Corporate independence
-Fed funding of small business
-Death of Big Business Banking

Black Swan Event Predictions-
-U.S. electric grid short-circuiting
-National community “cliques”
-Corporate Communities (i.e. instead of “Google”, think “Google Charlotte”, or “Google- Carolina”)
-A network of Community Banks…richer communities

What does this mode of thinking show? It demonstrates that there is always a cause and effect. We as communicators must be vigilant in watching these little events, so we don’t miss (or perhaps prevent) any black swans from happening.

The Three L’s for Leaders: Life, Love and Legacy

I have always enjoyed newspapers. Especially the op-eds.

It started when I was a freshman at Moon Area High School in Pittsburgh, PA. I was in a marketing club called DECA (originally standing for the Distributive Education Clubs of America, shortened to ‘a marketing association’). And I wanted to be Chapter President.

So I read about leaders. The early 2000’s, newspapers were full of dismay about business leadership. The internet bubble was bursting, and corruption was reigning supreme. It was not the ideal time to look to the newspapers for inspiration.

It was until a professor from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business wrote two op-eds in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about being a grounded business leader. The one that struck me was three L’s: Life, Love, and Legacy. I even presented that topic (with credit given to the professor) at a regional leadership conference while I was at Elon University. Here is my take on the 3Ls.

You will be in trouble if you only have your business in your life. Your life has to be balanced with work, play and an exhilarating miscellaneous. It’s true, that a leader should instill their morals in their professional and personal life, but pay attention to overlap. A good leader must realize that there is more in life than business.

Passion and enthusiasm is key. If you do not love not you are doing, your chances of being an effective leader will dwindle. You can be a great leader, true, but nothing close to your potential. Humans have that innate sense of feeling if someone is truly enjoying what they’re doing. We are naturally attracted to charisma and passion.

Also, a good leader shows love towards their team. Nothing lovey dovey, obviously. Showing appreciation, giving encouragement, and providing constructive criticism is crucial. A solid leader is both the cheerleader and the disciplinarian.

How do you measure a leader? There are many ways, but one measure is to watch how successful their team is once the leader has left. A good leader sets other people up for success. To carry on an atmosphere, the leader be take time to share their philosophy. A good leader shares their best practices, as well as their obstacles, to the next generation of minds so they can hit the ground running.

There it is. Follow the Three Ls of Leadership, you you’re on your way.



To the Victor Go the Spoils: Messaging for Winners

People say that “history is written by the winners.”

Is that a bad thing? In a world of two-way communications, are the winners now expected to give the losers a moment in the spotlight?

This raises some interesting perspectives.

From my economic/Darwinian side, I would say no. They lost.  Because the other half proved be rise to the occasion, the winner deserves to do with the spotlight as they see fit. Why let a loser’s message spread, when it proved incapable of winning? It doesn’t make sense. One wouldn’t willingly spread a defunct gene, or a failing business plan, so why a message?

From my marketing/public relations side, I would say maybe.  If the loser’s communication could provide some value to a certain community and/or public, I don’t think it would hurt. Who will benefit from hearing their message? How can a community move forward from listening? What’s interesting, is that in these days if the winner denies the loser from speaking, it may leave a bad taste in the mouths of spectators. Bad PR. From an image standpoint then, it may improve the winner’s image if they let the defeated one speak.

From my competitive side, I would say definitely not. If you win, and the loser gets to speak regardless of defeat, then why compete? You take away the competitor’s incentive to win. Sure there may be a trophy, ranking, and maybe some money winnings (in some cases), but if I’m playing to win, I’m playing for keeps. Winner-takes-all.

The lines of winners/losers are blurring in our society.  Since our species (arguably) is imperfect, several situations should dictate whether there is a winner and loser. It sucks, but that’s life and that’s business. Though I do enjoy the Covey’s Win-Win and other full-circle management techniques, how does it move our society forward? Does it? Does it not?

I can’t tell. But who cares, if I’m right or wrong, the message gets out anyway, right?


Movin’ On UP! JDW: The Charlotte Agency joins Area 15

I hope this post finds you all in good spirits. It is a cloudy and rainy day here in the Queen City, but it sure beats the snow, sleet and the dreaded “wintry mix” we’ve been experiencing. The sooner Charlotte is revived from its cold, paralyzed state, the better.

Though the day calls for the dull and the macabre, I will attempt to share my good spirits!

JDW: The Charlotte Agency is officially moving into Area 15 (@areafifteen) the creative community in Uptown Charlotte.

We believe that Area 15 shares the same ideals as we do:

-Pro-small business
-Community- oriented
– Creative
-Pushing the norms of society

Area 15, a small business incubator, is building the foundation needed for small businesses in Charlotte. And as the sole marketing representative in the community, we are pumped to showcase the Area 15 model, and the awesome businesses and entrepreneurs already in the impressive community! For example:

Group15 Real Estate: these group of folks are changing the way real estate is done in Charlotte and beyond. You’ll hear more about them soon.

-Loc’d: You see, the TRUTH about it is that this young and talented woman will blow the QC away. A hair stylist, clothing designer and a blooming spoken word artist and poet, all wrapped into one person anyone ought to know. Don’t worry, an Empress like her won’t stay quiet for long.

Felicitea: Okay, although she’s a Philadelphia Eagles fan, she’s actually pretty cool. Tea-making and Massage Therapy is her business, and she is very good at her work. Just avoid the whole NFL talk. 🙂

Not Just Coffee Charlotte: Like eceletic? Like Coffee? You’re welcome.

Just to name a few. We are excited to join the community. Area 15, thank you for having us.