Green Hosting

In today’s Daily Statfrom Harvard they shared the results of an interesting study from The McKinsey Quarterly about the carbon footprint of datacenters. It turn out that “Emissions from data centers are expected to grow at more than 11% annually. Right now, the amount of carbon emitted by data centers worldwide — 80 megatons — is more than half Argentina’s carbon output (142 megatons) and that of the Netherlands (146 megatons).”

harvard image

Which is why I’m happy to say that my site is green due to the carbon offsets and renewable energy that DreamHost buys on my behalf. And just in case you want some proof, check this out. Ask your host if they’re doing the same y’all.

Pentagram Demonstrates How Good Marketing Works

Today I read on the Pentagram’s blog about a project that they recently completed for Saks Fifth Avenue that deserves huge props. Here’s the summary of the story that you can read on their site.

Every year Pentagram creates a holiday card, which is really more of a small book, for their community. For the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate enough to be included on the list and have been blown away by their creation. Two years ago the book was entitled Decipher: Fourteen Cryptograms and featured wonderfully creative puzzles in the context of Pentagram’s elegant visual presentation …. look for “the gaps” below.


In essence, what makes the piece so powerful is that Pentagram delivered an experience that embodied their message. They demonstrate their brilliance rather than talking about it. Even better, they’ve made it tangible so that people can share it with their colleagues. As I discussed in an earlier blog post, making your ideas tangible is key to selling services. Here are some sample Typographic Conundrums for the Saks project


As it turns out, I was not the only one to fall in love with the Decipher book. Terron Schaefer, Saka Senior Vice President of Marketing also loved it and called Pentagram to bring a similar approach to their holiday catalog. Harry Pearce took on the project and integrated a series of typographic conundrums throughout the design.

  • Demonstrate – give people an experience of your smarts, not a message about how smart you are.
  • Don’t Clutter – Pentagram sends their holiday cards to people in their network, which means that people know who it’s coming from and don’t see it as clutter. Plus, it has real value and an elegant visual design that is the antithesis of clutter.
  • Don’t Interrupt – In other words, let the piece speak, and spread, for itself. Creating a digital version of the work allows the community to share it on their own.
  • Make It Relevant – make sure the experience that you offer is relevant to those you are sending it to in the first place … which brings us full-circle to the first bullet-point.

Congrats to Pentagram on another great piece, I’m glad to see it’s leading to new business. And, if anyone has other examples like this, I’d love to hear about them!

Where Marketers Are Today

For those who have studied marketing, you’ll recall the 4 P’s:, Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. Today, however, three out of four of those P’s have often been usurped by other parts of the organization. Product is often managed by a research and development, or product development, group. Price is often set by the sales team, or in some cases by customers. Placement is within the purview of the distribution arm, which leaves marketers with Promotion.

Promotion is often interpreted by other departments as “making it pretty” or is at the service of the sales organization. To make matters worse, organizations are siloed so these different internal organs are not well coordinated or even on same page. With increasing pressure to demonstrate ROI metrics around Promotion, marketers are less empowered and less able to bring value to the organization.

At the same time, the context in which they are operating has become more complex. New technologies offer new communication channels, and has changed the dynamics of communication. Managing the marketing mix, and optimizing it, is increasingly complex. Many traditional marketers not only don’t get the new context, but are still trying to apply a broadcast framework when they need to adopt a conversational one. This reality has degraded marketing’s reputation within organizations. That said, we need marketing more than ever at this moment, and I believe it can bring significant value to companies.

First and foremost, marketing needs to be the voice of the customer within the company. In order to do this effectively, marketers must listen to customers and empathize with them. They must do this through dialogue and by building relationships. Relationships should start with a positive interactions which lead to a sense of consistency. This in turn leads to credibility, and hopefully a sense of authenticity. From there you can start building trust and loyalty. Finally, if you do everything right people will form an emotional connection with your brand that can last a lifetime. The rub is that it’s increasingly difficult to manage this process when organizations are siloed. This is the opportunity space for marketers. Here is a good representation of how relationships are built created by David Armano, whose Logic + Emotion blog is worth checking out …. the only thing I would add to this diagram is a measure of emotional connection that increases as you climb the stairs:

Relationship Stairway

Relationship Stairway

How can you do this when all you’ve got to work with is Promotion? You can’t. So how can marketers become empowered again and start building the relationships that drive business success? I think we have to start small and demonstrate the principles of what makes marketing powerful on a small scale. In the process, we need to repair relationships and open windows between siloes at the organizations we call home.

Optimization projects are often a good place to start, because they are seen as quality improvement rather than as new projects. A simple example might look at optimizing an online communications channel like a newsletter. If there is already something in place, work with the IT team to establish some baseline performance metrics. Talk with the sales team to understand what kinds of challenges they are facing and how the newsletter can support them. Identify some metrics that you could use to track the effect of potential changes. Talk with Human Resources to get access to the resources necessary to make changes, and to provide an incentive to participants. You might need to connect the Human Resources team with the IT team to create a system to track performance to compensation.

The next step is to start doing the work that only marketing can do. Go out and start talking to customers about what they want from the newsletter. You can conduct surveys, have in person interviews, talk with other industry experts, and more. You’ll obviously want to make sure that you can demonstrate that whatever tactical changes you are making tie back to your overall strategy as well. Take the intelligence and insights that you gather and represent them in your new design. If possible, include the stakeholders from other departments in the process to foster their investment in the results.

When the project gets implemented you’ll want to internally market your results back to the organization and to the customers. You’ve started building some relationships that you can take on to your next project, which will be bigger. In essence, internal marketing teams need to go up the same stairway they are trying to bring customers up.

UPDATE: Now you can listen to this post as a podcast:

Fry Innovation @ Burger King

Ok, so I know I’m on a Burger King binge here …. but I have to write one last post. In my over exuberance for their recent campaign I went out to grab a Whopper for lunch even though I am very much against fast food, and avoid it at all costs.

Burger King has made a HUGE innovation in Fry Technology by taking a page from Apple’s book. Let me introduce you to the FRYPOD!


S'cuze me, could I get those hot and crispy, but not fresh?

As an aside there was nothing in the store representing the online campaigns. There was a separate Apply Fry offering, which consisted of cut apple slices. A packet of caramel sauce, probably made entirely from artificial ingredients, should help wash away any nutritional benefit from the apple. Also, back online, they have a meat flavored perfume called FLAME. But I digress ….

Facebook Failed The Whopper Sacrifice

It’s been one day since I wrote about The Whopper Freakout, when I learned about The Whopper Sacrifice. And, I have to hand it to the folks at the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky for serving up another brilliant campaign.

Here’s the gist of it:

You cancel 10 friendships on Facebook and you get a free Whopper.

Absolutely brilliant, a critique of what “friendship” means in the context of the social network, and provocative. I’m pretty sure everyone in this scenario was a winner. Regrettably Facebook failed it by shutting down the Whopper Sacrifice Application after 233,906 friendships were canceled. Michael Arrington deserves credit for highlighting the fact that shutting Burger King down when you’re trying to find ways to monotize your service is not wise.

I believe Burger King put it best when they wrote this on the shut-down microsite:

Facebook fails it

Facebook fails it