A Mother’s Day Change Up – Two Extraordinary Women

I’m taking a break today from the usual stuff to acknowledge two extraordinary woman I am very fortunate to call friends.

Nancy Santullo
Nancy on the river

Nancy Santullo is a former fashion photographer who has dedicated herself to bringing clean water to the children of the Peruvian rainforest. When Nancy is not heading up river she is advocating at the United Nations. In eight years she and her team have brought clean water to two remote villages serving over 450 adults and children.

You can find her story here and learn out more about her organization by visiting: Rainforest Flow: A House of the Children Project.

Virginia Paca
Virginia in her garden

Virgina Paca is an architect and garden designer in Pasadena, California who had a simple idea: She wanted to grow her own food and connect with local farmers and businesses. Her garden took off,  and at the height of the economic downturn she began giving away her abundance of organic produce. Each week she prepares beautiful baskets overflowing with fruits and vegetables and hand delivers them to a food bank, local businesses, and friends.

You can follow her story, and take a peek inside her wonderful garden here.

Thanks to The Woman’s Eye for profiling these two extraordinary women … and many more.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thought Squad – A company that really cares

Thought Squad Spy logo
Thought Squad

Thought Squad, a small LA graphic design firm, is a great example of a company that cares for their fans and is truly passionate about what they do.

When you meet with them the creativity and energy explodes around you; books, logos, websites, music. If you are a customer you feel cared for. They genuinely take an interest in who you are and the passion that drives your business. This creates a real trust. When you are in a crunch, you can give them the ball and they will create something new and exciting; and hit your deadline.

When I wrote music for a living this was the experience I tried to give my clients. Music was an abstraction they couldn’t clearly visualize and the production process was beyond their technical skills. My clients were producers, directors and writers; creatives who needed a musical partner that could add a new aesthetic layer to their vision. Nothing was more satisfying to me than playing music for the first time and seeing that big smile light up … knowing I had hit the emotional vein.

This has nothing to do with ‘social media’ but everything to do with successful business…

Amazing Work + Genuine Caring = Fans who will talk about you

I am not a visual designer and it is a great experience to be on the other side of that equation; to know that there is someone I can trust to capture the essence of what I do.

How do you care for your customers? What turns them into Super Fans?

Book Review: The Network is Your Customer – 5 Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age

Book Review: The Network is Your Customer – 5 Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age by David L. Rogers (@David_Rogers )

When I first picked up this book by David Rogers, (a professor at Columbia Business School), I thought it was yet another introduction to social communication technologies for wary corporate managers. Boy, was I wrong!

What’s different…

  • Rather than organizing the book around the use of specific social communication tools or an examination of the general theory of disruptive social technologies, Rogers builds his book around the behaviors and needs of customer networks. The title is quite apt.
  • The writing is accessible and the book is very well organized and designed to be practical. The first two chapters explain the dynamics of customer networks and social communication technologies. Each of the 5 behaviors he identifies are examined in their own chapters and multiple strategies are presented. Next, Rogers dedicates a chapter to a specific planning and implementation process that will help businesses apply these ideas to their specific situations. He then asks the questions, “What will the organization of the future look like?”and “How do we create an organization that is not just customer-focused, but customer-network focused?” Finally, he systematically reviews each of the strategies in the book, by asking a series of questions in a ‘Self-Assessment Quiz’. Inquiry is a powerful technique for self-reflection, personalizing the ideas presented here.
  • There are well over 100 case studies spread throughout the book. Companies are listed in an Appendix, sorted by industry. Each case study specifically illustrates the strategy Rogers is describing. This is an effective approach that makes it very easy to ‘try on’ techniques with your organization. As I was reading the book I found myself taking these case studies and translating them for my clients.

The Big Idea

Rogers suggests 5 Strategies that any business can use to create new value by harnessing the power of customer networks:

  1. ACCESS – be faster, easier, everywhere, and always on
  2. ENGAGE – become a trusted source of great content
  3. CUSTOMIZE – make everything you offer adaptable to your customer’s needs
  4. CONNECT – become part of your customer’s conversations
  5. COLLABORATE – involve your customers at every stage of your enterprise.

There is a lot here; much more than an explanation of disruptive technology. Rogers provides a road map, demonstrating techniques that will tap the power of customer networks, regardless of your industry or the size of your company. Recommended!

Generosity is the Emotion, Content is the Currency

Creating Effective Social Media Engagement: Generosity is the Emotion, Content is the Currency

Authentic, trusting relationships are fueled by generosity and empathy. While online networks can seem abstract compared to connections in the ‘real world’, the same principles hold true.

Web 2.0 is a conversational environment, not a broadcast channel. This is still confusing for some musicians who use Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. to talk about themselves (“Oh, did I mention MY gig this weekend, here are some new pictures of ME, I wrote a new song…” etc. etc.). When I get a Linked In or Facebook friend request from a complete stranger asking me to listen to their music or come to a gig I am always amazed. What are they thinking? Eventually I tune out even good friends who I am very interested in, when the only communication from them is pushed PR blasts.

The power of social media is it’s potential for building communities and sincere relationships. The way to do this is to pay attention to everyone else, what their passions are and what they need. Ask yourself what you can share to make their lives a little more wonderful. On the web, the obvious gift to give is interesting content. This could be a helpful blog post or link, some compelling video you have created, a piece of music or a recommendation or referral. The important thing is that you are passionate about what you are sharing and you genuinely want to help your followers.

A great example of this generosity is the blog created by musician Danny Barnes. He has written a number of funny, articulate pieces that are essential reading for any professional musician or anyone with even a passing interest in what it means to be a musician. He has shared many practical insights on how to make a living in music, how to be a successful sideman, how to listen and much more. There is great value and generosity here without a hint of self-promotion. A teacher and fellow musician told me the other day he reads Danny’s posts to his classes!

Check out Danny’s blog and spread the word…

What gifts are you giving to your fans, followers and customers? What’s working for you?

Danny Barnes Knows Why You’re Not Into Music Anymore…

I just had to repost this great essay by the wonderful musician Danny Barnes (who also happens to be an excellent writer)..

I encourage you to check out the rest of his blog. Each entry is a gem!

I Think I Know Why You Are Not Into Music Anymore


Quote Of The Day: from Clay Shirky’s ‘Cognitive Surplus’

“The dramatically reduced cost of public address, and the dramatically increased size of the population wired together, means that we can now turn massive aggregations of small contributions into things of lasting value.” -Clay Shirky, “Cognitive Surplus” p. 161

Are music consumers stepping on us?

From today’s Digital Music News:

Are Music Consumers Stepping On Us?

That was the question posed on Thursday by NPD analyst Russ Crupnick at Digital Music Forum East in Manhattan.

“Consumers are flipping us the bird,” Crupnick declared while trotting through slide-after-slide of distressing data. Exhibit A? Crupnick listed a litany of concessions and pro-consumer offers from this industry over the past ten years – all of which have produced few substantive revenue returns.  These include: 

  • ubiquity
  • disaggregation
  • fragmentation
  • liberal licensing
  • disabled DRM
  • disinflation

“These are great things we’ve done for consumers, but what have they done for us?” Crupnick posed.  Well, the answer is very little, and Crupnick’s stats proved it.  Over the past 5 years alone, Crupnick noted that the population of buying music fans declined by 20 million, and per-capita spending has dropped by 40 percent.  Meanwhile, just 5 percent of US consumers are using subscription services, including free trials.  “We’re being too liberal,” the analyst continued.  “We need to demand more from consumers.”

But there’s a funny twist: among the buyers that remain, a majority are only buying CDs.  In fact, Crupnick noted that 55% of paying music fans are solely purchasing CDs, down from 80% percent in 2006.  Just last week at New Music Seminar in Los Angeles, Tommy Silverman reported that two-thirds of all album purchases are physical.

And what about the superfan, won’t that save us?  Well, Crupnick popped that balloon quickly by noting that superfans are also buying less.  But, their percentage of overall purchases is increasing as more casual fans leave the building.  “Fewer and fewer people are buying music, so the percentage of buying by uberfans increases,” Crupnick noted.
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My comment:

“I can’t comprehend the logic of “demanding more from consumers.” Show me a good product manager who agrees with that reasoning.
 

It is hard to compete with free but that’s the reality today for any media business. Consumers have unprecedented choice and an enormous sense of entitlement. If you want to succeed in the marketplace you have to get real about that.

Also, the recording industry was a ridiculous bubble economy for over 20 years. Now it is leveling out and that is painful. The industry will be smaller in the future, more personalized, and consumer driven. 

Things will continue to shake out for awhile.

Join the discussion here

When It Can’t Be Done, Do It…

“A new idea can be either unfamiliar, silly, or both. It can’t be judged by description. It needs to be done (made) to exist. It is unlikely that anyone will sanction the cost of something they don’t understand. Therefore, you have no choice but to do it yourself. At whatever cost.”

“Being right is based upon knowledge and experience and is often provable. Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality. Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems. The old situations are probably different from the present ones., so that old solutions will have to be bent to fit new problems (and possibly fit badly). Also, the likelihood is that, if you’ve got the experience, you’ll probably use it. This is lazy. Experience is the opposite of being creative”

– from Paul Arden’s book, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be

C-SCAPE: Curation, Consumers, Convergence, Content

“”How do you get people who can talk about anything to talk about you? The answer is to offer them something new and interesting to say – to chat about, blog about, tweet about, and spread the word about in all media, new and old and in between.”
– Larry Kramer, C-SCAPE

Veteran media executive Larry Kramer’s book on the influence of social media and the Internet postulates that today, all businesses are in the media business. He identifies four key trends; the convergence of consumers and media producers, the increasing power of consumers, the need for trusted curators, and the importance of content. These ideas have been explored in depth in many other books (such as the Groundswell series) but I find his writing concise and actionable. His enthusiasm is contagious and many of these ideas are directly applicable by musicians reinventing themselves in this massively disrupted industry.