Category Archives: Innovation

.@TwitterCanada features a Twitter activated vending machine by @wonderMakr at their #OneTweetYear Party

I was lucky enough to attend @TwitterCanada’s #OneTweetYear birthday celebration last night and really enjoyed the twitter activated t-shirt vending machine dispensing by @wonderMakr.  It was quite the focal point at the beginning of the evening – a great photo of it in action by @JamesClarkeCA (below).   See more photos with @wonderMakr who captured many @TwitterCanada celebration photos.

Here is how it worked – first you had to follow @TwitterCanada, then using a series of hashtags – you had to tweet to a message containing #OneTweetYear #special_4_digit_code_from_pushing_a_button_on_the_machine and #W1 (a code related to the tshirt size that you wanted -codes displayed internally in the vending machine.)

I was equally lucky to meet (IRL) Mark Stewart – managing director @wonderMakr – as we talked about the rise in #trendingvending innovations we saw at SXSW 2014.  Like the Benefit cosmetics’ vending machine in the Austin (or was it Dallas?) airport.

Certainly, @Oreo’s fantastic innovations come up – not just the #eatthetweet 3D printed oreos but also the lesser known partnership with WeChat and a mobile operated vending machine.  Read more in Fast Company.

Suffice to say the vending machine re-emergence is well noted!

Home Building 2.0

I’m sitting in my Starbucks office, with a globe & mail real estate section.  Hmm… memories of Great Gulf.   Positive memories.

Having worked as a marketing director in the home building industry,  I see so many opportunities for the game changing marketing.

The home building industry feels like the last bastion of old style marketing & communications [and I’m not bashing my former employer here – they were very gracious with my change agent ideas].   In an industry where the majority of ad spending focused on print advertising, websites are merely extensions of phone numbers.   E-mail marketing are mailed pdfs.  Sales agents want to phone prospects and some DON’T EVEN HAVE EMAIL ACCESS.  [i swear].

True, many Canadian home builder sites have added detailed maps and migrated the silly user registration forms online [i can’t believe marketing spend is influenced by these forms] but how many are really mining customer information better yet conversation to change the game?

Anyone in the low-rise industry might look at high-rise marketing for inspiration  – high rise commands more marketing dollars, flashly campaigns and original creative.  But who actually uses social media to create a lasting impression with customers?

I introduced corporate blogging with my past employer (and did – first in low-rise -thank you very much).  But I left on mat leave before it really attained the vision that I had for it.

One blog that I always liked was Riverfront in Denver.  I spent a lot of time in Denver, visiting tons of condo presentation centres, analyzing websites, etc and Riverfront was very interesting.  The writing style is informal.  Still lots of opportunity.   In Toronto, M5V’s blog is commendable – they are showing comments including the age old – ‘when will construction start’.

Blogging for sharing more marketing information e.g. (*&)(*& press releases – is not revolutionary.  The real opportunity is in satisfying customers along the entire customer experience.  Not just prospects but buyers.  Ah.. I have so many ideas.

1, 433, 939 starbucks fans but no corporate voice – go wild

Welcome to the Starbucks Facebook Fan discussion page – go wild. 

First of all – I’m fan of Starbucks.  I joined the “Starbucks Fan” facebook site because I should own shares for how much I’ve dropped in lattes, americanos and blueberry scones.   And whereas I do try to prefer the local yokal, small biz, organic fresh roaster ,  Starbucks’ free wi-fi two hours really seals my allegiance to the coffee king.   I love getting a free coffee coupon if my order is forgotten, and my daughters’ drawing is still taped to the back of my local Starbucks espresso maker. Its my office, my newspaper site, my cup of sanity with the kids.  

So join I did, added a wall post and watched it disappear after a refresh.  Hmm.. obviously there is protectionism on wall posts. 

Then I pursued the Starbucks discussion board and found “disappointed by Starbucks” – a discussion started by Florida’s John Parkes on February 9, 2009.   

There is a bit of John Parkes in all of us.  He loves Starbucks – wishes it was what it once was.  He posts and re-posts with the constructive, supportive criticism that can only come from a heavy user, loyal consumer.   Crap – he is just the kind of guy that oozes innovation.  His discussion posts are long – several paragraphs.  Over 33 people have commented and added their own voices.  He answers and reanswers  – all the while adding the kind of posts that qualitative researchers would die for.   Thru it all – I couldn’t see any corporate response.  None.   So I asked John if anyone from corporate ever answered his posts.  He admitted a few employees tried but as far as he can tell – no one from corporate office did.  It appears that the discussion board is completely unmoderated – at least in this thread.  So what is the point??

Interestingly – every time I added a comment to John, his “disappointed with Starbucks” discussion floated to the top of the discussions because the forum is organized by reply recency.  So that means his discussion has been at the top of the discussion list over 50 times.

John speculated that the Facebook fan site may not be ‘starbucks sponsored’ but with over 1MM fans,  join our Starbucks twitter feed, and corporate video section, it no longer matters who is sponsoring the site.  [added note – there is a community link from Starbucks.com straight to the facebook fan page – and so it appears that community participation is valued..].

Get in there Starbucks!  If you don’t have one already – get a coffee lover (both employee experienced and customer only experience) and create a country specific starbucks community chief [or advisory board].   Pick up groundswell and read up on Charlene Li’s pages (great section on Bob Lutz’ authenticity).  Hey – I know business is hard right now – store closures, the lay offs etc.  But it might be the best digital head count spend you make.   Your fans want you to.

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Creating Environments for Innovation

I attended my U of Toronto MBA alumnus life long learning day today.  Its free to alumni and they bring in speakers from Yale, Harvard Business Review, University of Sussex, etc.   All day was spent on fostering creativity.  Here's a recap of the best lecture – one by the Dean of the Rotman School at University of Toronto – Roger Martin:

  • Businesses are experiencing commoditization of goods, slowing d'd – and the need for innovation and creativity has increased.  So how to foster?
  • To create a conducive enviro – must recognize the fundamental tension between 'reliability' and 'validity'. 
  • Reliability is the mindset to produce consistent, replicable outcomes.  Substantiate based on past events, to minimize judgement, to avoid the possibility of bias.
  • Validity is the mindset/practice of producing outcomes that meet the objective, that substantiation is based on future events (an entrepreneur says I have an idea about a new widget for the future), it integrates judgement (I know it will work), and acknowledges bias.
  • Yet, common processes in an organization favour reliability.  e.g. "prove-it" response to an innovative idea – prevents validity from occuring.  Validity can only be proven based on future events.
  • need for both – though two forces tend to dislike each other.
  • Reliability processes are taking over accidentily and may be stifling creativity.  Examples given are CRM vs. customer intimacy, Incentive/Comp instead of job meaning, shareholder value max instead of corporate social responsibility.
  • So if you want creativity – recognize a need to balance both and create a context for validity to exist.
  • Finally – creative must feel like a valued member of the community.  Recognize that 'abductive' logic (the logic of what might be – future based) does exist., create a design shop environment but not overlay traditional infrastructure.