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Interactive advertising is mad!  Who would think that people would actually take the time to interact online with a brand?  Well, millions of people are doing it, and hundreds of companies are jumping on board.  Who's succeeding - the companies who are using attention, education, communication, and calls-to-action to drive brand awareness and sales.

What is interactive advertising?  It can mean a ton of different things.  In my general opinion, interactive advertising is something that requires activity on both the part of the consumer and the brand.  In the past, interactive advertising has often been a driving force behind sales, but in today's society, interactive is playing a much different role.  It is allowing consumers to communicate with a brand, to educate themselves on their own terms, and act on the immediate feelings they get upon interaction.  

Let's take a look at a relatively old example of interactive advertising: Elf Yourself.  Elf Yourself was an interactive website that allowed users to upload their pictures onto an elf body and watch it dance around the screen.  Sure, this was a fun little game, but the team at Office Max was the real winner in this situation.  The game was shared amongst millions of people nationwide.  It not only created brand awareness for Office Max, but it got people to act on behalf of the brand, something not easily achieved.

More recent efforts at interactive advertising have taken this basic idea to new levels.  For the hit TV show Mad Men, a website was created that allows users to create their own characters for the show and share them through social networks.  Not only does this promote the television show, but it also tells a story through clothing, backdrops, accessories, and styles that you can choose from while creating your character.  Most importantly, it's fun.  People, even those who don't watch the show, have shown interest, shared that interest, acted on the interest, and educated themselves and others in the process.

The best, and most recent form of interactive advertising was just released this week.  It's a campaign that I have yet to find a fault with.  It takes my four basic truths of interactive advertising by grabbing the attention of consumers, educating them on multiple levels, communicating an important message, and allowing them to act on the message they've received.  The campaign is called "Body By Milk."  It allows users to upload their pictures and put themselves into their own "Got Milk Ad," complete with intelligent copy, a personalized header, and their very own milk mustache.  To top it off, for each ad created, a dollar is donated to a VH1 Save the Music charity.

How does it grab attention?  Well, who doesn't want to be in their own "Got Milk"  ad.  Top it off with some top-notch character bodies, and who wouldn't want to have some fun.  How does it educate?  It asks the question, "what are you looking for in milk?" and gives intelligent evidence on how milk "does the body good."  It communicates to consumers that milk is for everyone, that they care about the brand, and that, in their honor, they'll donate money to a charity that they believe in.  As for acting?  The more people you tell, the more money that gets donated, and trust me, the site provides you with any tool you might need to share (links for facebook, twitter, myspace, etc.)  

This does go past creating characters and uploading photos.  Companies can make website games, choose your own ending adventures, create an educational website that explores each line of products and how they're most effectively used, heck, you could even create a virtual world online created around your brand.  Think about it for 5-minutes and I guarantee you could think of a brand, and how you'd like to interact with it online.  The opportunities really are endless, as long as you make it something people want to pay attention to.

The idea is as simple as ever.  Create a fun, interactive, intelligent, and shareable application that allows users to immerse themselves into the extreme depths of a brand.  If done successfully, users will learn about the brand, connect with the brand, and deliver the message about the brand to others. Is this the future of advertising or just a temporary playground for us online addicts to get our kicks?  I'm interested in knowing.

What are your favorite interactive ads?  Have you tried any of the one I discussed?  I'm always looking for something to share.

Elf Yourself
Mad Men
Body by Milk
 
 
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I just recently read a white paper on the idea of incrementalism as it relates to big businesses.  Incrementalism at its core means this:  to make small, often unplanned changes over a long period of time.  For some companies, this way of thinking works well.  You've got a winning strategy, why change it.  The most basic example of this way of thinking would be to examine the process of creating a website or a blog.  Many people start a website, add a little bit of content each day, and incrementally move forward in creating a so-called "finished product."  But the problem I constantly find in terms of incremental thinking, is that the "finished product" is never actually reached.

I believe in big ideas and big changes.  It constantly keeps people interested, connected, and consistently guessing.  I appreciate innovation, experiments, and calls to action.  In today's society, ideas that break traditional boundaries and barriers are the ones that turn out trends.

let's look at some of today's Big Breakers vs. Slow Movers.

The What You Want, When You Want It Category

Redbox vs. Blockbuster:  Capitalizing on cheaper movies, more locations, and no-hassle membership, Redbox has completely destroyed Blockbuster in recent years.  Blockbuster moved incrementally in marketing and distribution relying too much on their brand name.  Redbox was innovative and broke ground with a new form of movie rental and distribution, people caught on, and the rest is history.

iTunes vs. Best Buy:  Cashing in on ease of use and accessibility, the iTunes store allowed individuals to buy music by the track, legally, and downloadable directly to an iPod.  They cut out the middle-man and made it unnecessary to drive to the store, buy a full CD, and download it to your computer.  Best Buy missed out on legal, digital distribution, leaving the market open for Apple to dominate the industry.

The Music Industry

We see incrementalism all the time in the music industry and a lot of the time we don't even notice it.  Bands are consistently capitalizing on the current trends.  Many of today's bands are just getting lost in the shadows of similar, but more popular bands.  Bands like Fall Out Boy have amassed thousands of bands holding tight onto their coattails in an attempt to make a quick buck.  The artists that are going to pave the way for the future of the music industry are the ones that are daring to be different.

Lady Gaga:  Different - hugely successful
MGMT:  Different - hugely successful
Kanye West:  Different- hugely successful

Cell Phones
Cell phones are all the same.  Except for one- the iPhone.  A huge idea; this thing has a full-web browser, apps, a video camera, a iPod.  It blew competition out of the water.  Apple didn't take an existing phone and incrementally improve on it like most companies - they created something completely unique and new.

The future depends on big ideas and big innovations.  The current economy could not only use them, but it desperately needs them.  We are the future of business and we will decide the direction of the economy.  It's time for us to move past incrementalism and move more towards imagination.  The internet has allowed us this option and it's the people who understand this who will truly benefit.  

My challenge to you.  Find a way to make a big, positive change in your life today.  Incrementalism can only work for so long.   Eventually you'll lose interest in yourself and people will lose interest in you.  Make it happen.  Make a change.  In such an oh-so-similar society, those who stand out will be the ones who succeed.
 
 
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How connected are you to your college or high school?  That's the question of the hour.  Myself?  I'd like to say I'm "actively associated" with both Whitfield and Westminster, my two Alma Maters.   I mean, I spent three years at one and four at the other, and I'd like to say my experience at both instituitions shaped me into the person I am today.  So why this blog?  What's the problem?  

The problem lies in the fact that a lot of alumni are "associated," but institutions are missing out on the whole "active" part; an extremely important piece of the puzzle.

The first thing a college asks Alumni for is money. Same goes for high schools. What are we paying for?  We're paying for the future of the institution.  What are we getting back?  A monthly newsletter, an invitation to an event, and our names printed in a book.  If that's your idea of staying active as an alumni, you might as well quit reading now.

I'd like to pose an idea that I have for alumni relations in colleges and high schools, and propose some solutions that I think could help connect, communicate, contain, and retain an abundance of alumni.  

I don't believe schools think too hard about what students actually want out of an institution once they've graduated.  At the most basic level, as alumni, we want to stay connected.  I do think that schools get that.  What I don't think they are up-to-date on is the mediums in which we want to connect, the messages we want to communicate, and the content that will drive us to maintain a connection with their institution. 

I want to propose an Alumni Action Campaign for schools around the country.  Below are some of the key strategies behind the plan.  

A portion alumni endowments will go towards the Alumni Action Campaign.  
Yes we want our money to go to the school, but why can't it go to the school     in ways that will help us stay connected.

Where will this money go?
This is the portion of Alumni Action Campaign that really hits home with me.  This money will go towards a newly established department on campus - a multimedia production department.  

What will this multimedia production department do? 
It will be led by a chief multimedia officer.  The department will be in charge of producing creative campus content and distributing it to students, alumni, and family members through all social media networks. 

What does that mean?
The opportunities here are endless, but I'll give a few examples of different content that could be produced.

Example 1:  Homecoming Weekend at a high school
What do we typically get as alumni when homecoming rolls around?  We get an invitation in the mail to come to a party.  Now this is fun, and I guess technically it is enough to "keep us connected," but as I've said before, it leaves me somewhat underwhelmed.  

Send us an e-vite.  Produce a short video tying in the homecoming theme and promote it through social networks.  Make a facebook event outlining each day's events, games, and parties so that Alumni can plan ahead for the event and see who will be attending.  Basic stuff that could make much more of an impact in terms of connecting with alumni.  We want the news, but direct mail isn't the best method anymore.  Half the time, my parents get the mail and don't give it to me anyway.  The communication is interrupted!

Example 2:  Career Corner 
The production team could be in charge of doing a monthly production called Career Corner.  With this, they could have a student attend work with either an alumni or a parent for a day and document the footage on video.  The video could then be distributed through the schools website as well as social networks.  What would this do?  It would let viewers connect with current students and the alumni who were hosting them for the day.  It would give us something to watch, something to talk about, and something to spread to others.

Example 3:  Big Event Broadcasts
The production team would be in charge of photographing, creating multimedia and videos, and broadcasting footage from the big events on campus.  If there is a dinner, record the president speech and send it out.  If there is an auction, take pictures of the winners with their prizes and post them on flickr.  If there is a student performance, capture it on video and allow users all over the country to see if from the comfort of their own home.  We shouldn't punish people for not coming to see things in person, rather communicate to them regardless of if they're able to make it or not.  

Example 4:  Up-to-the minute Athletic Coverage
If there's one thing that alumni stay connected to most, it would probably be sports.  I love to know how the Warriors and the Blue Jays are doing in soccer, baseball, and basketball.  So do others.  Take pictures of the players and ned it out so we know who were rooting for when we attend games.  Tweet schedules and create facebook groups for big games.  Send out links to STL Sports websites that gives us up-to-date information on how our teams are doing.  Don't make us search.  That's when we start to lose interest.  We'd rather have the message relayed directly to us.  

How would this benefit alumni?
I'm a huge advocate of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.  These sites let you stay connected and in-the-know on every thing you're interested in.  I, as well as thousands of others, am interested in my Alma Maters.  To constantly have information directed my way about big events, campus leaders, alumni careers, student affairs, and athletic performances would be something I welcome.  Those that weren't interested could "unsubscribe" with a phone call or a click of a mouse.  

How could students benefit?
The more alumni are connected, the more the students benefit.  If we know who they are, what they are doing, and what's going on at the school, we are more than likely going to give more money, offer more opportunity, and allow more open lines of communication for networking in the future.

If it sounds like I've been bashing Westminster and Whitfield, please take back your first impressions.  I'm very happy with the way I've been treated as an Alumni at both institutions, I'm more or less just being picky.  In fact, I think Westminster College just wrapped up one of the most new-age alumni connection campaign done around the country - The Blue Jay Across the U.S.A Tour. A group of four students traveled around the entire United States hosting a variety of parties at different areas with local alumni.  Broadcasting events, managing twitter, capturing videos, and constantly updating blogs, Westminster Alums were constantly in-the-know and connected.  Was it worth the planning and the pay?  I've yet to find out.  But I do know, in my opinion, that it is a huge step in the right direction.

Back to the original idea at hand.  What am I bringing to the table in terms of  Alumni relations strategy?  I'm proposing a digital production team funded by the alumni.  It wouldn't take more than 3-4 full-time employees.  They would keep us up-to-date on all things Whitfield or all things Westminster.  It would no longer be a chore to be an "active alum."  It would be as easy as opening our computer, clicking on a link, or opening a document.  It's no longer about the message.  It doesn't have to be perfectly written, proofread, and published.  It's about the medium.  It's gotta be accessible, spreadable, and easily digested and communicated.  These are the things that need to be focused on, and these are the things that will carry institutions into the future.


Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the replies.  Is this too darn expensive or are alumni worth the cash?  Is it what we want or an overload of information?  Who knows... maybe I'm just looking to relive the glory days.
 
 
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I'm not going to lie to you.  It's official.  I love Twitter.  Just thinking about this topic gets me excited.  I know I'm going to forget things, but in a rushed attempt to spread the love for my new social network of choice, I will do whatever it takes to convert you.

Every one of my friends has Facebook.  Not a whole lot of them have Twitter.  Let's get things straight off the bat though.  I'm not trying to convert you so I can follow you, creep you, communicate with you, or stalk you, I'm converting you so that you can be exposed to the newest, most innovative form of social media.  I don't claim to be an expert, heck I don't even have a ton of followers, but I do know that I understand the fundamentals of Twitter and the ways in which it can be used as a universal source of media for all of your sports, political, business, entertainment, music, and movie news.

This isn't a post about social media and Twitter in business.  This is about using it at the most basic - To entertain and excite. It's about getting your news delivered directly to you, all day, every day.

A basic introduction for the Twitter-impaired.  You are allowed to use 140 characters or less to communicate "What has your attention."  I know, this sounds a little confusing at first, but those who "get it" are making it pretty darn simple for the newbies to catch on.

Ok so we need an example.  Say you're a sports guy/girl.  Each day you check certain websites to catch up on sports news.  You go to ESPN, Sports Illustrated, STL Today, and MLB.com.  When you visit these websites, you sift through all the information that interests you and find the articles you want to read.  What can Twitter do for you?  It can send these websites to you. Every story they post, editorial they feature, and picture they post can be sent directly to you, leaving you with all the information you need to get your sports fix.  All you gotta do is follow these websites on Twitter.

I'll use an example that's a little more close to home for me.  I love movies.  I have certain movie reviewers that I like to catch up with before I hit the megaplex each weekend.  Roger Ebert, Reelviews, RottenTomatoes, and Pajiba all have Twitter accounts.  I follow each of them.  When they post a movie review or a feature story, they post the link to it on their twitter, and the message is immedietly delivered to me.  When I wake up on Friday mornings, it's usually to about 10 different tweets all containing movie information from my favorite reviewers.

I like to use the analogy that Twitter is basically the best magazine you've never read.  All day, every-day I receive updates through Twitter.  I have different categories just as a magazine has different sections.  I have advertising, which relays all the information I need to know each day about the advertising industry and the different campaigns being worked on.  i have music, with posts from my favorite bands and music sites like Rolling Stone.  I have a friends category that fills me in on what my friends are doing.  Lastly, I have an entertainment column that has all information from celebrities and celebrity news columnists to television and radio stations.  I'm essentially being delivered Rolling Stone, AdWeek, the Business Journal, and People without the wait and without the cost.  It's truly surreal.

What I'm getting at with Twitter is this:  It is the newest form of interactive media that not only allows you to share information on yourself and what your interested in, but also allows information to be delivered directly to you all day, every day and only from sources that interest you.  I think everyone needs to jump on board right now and see what you're missing out on.  In the past it was just a phrase, but in today's world I think it's come true:  The bird truly is the word.
 
Let me know if you have any questions on how to use Twitter or how to get started.  I promise I'm not steering you in the wrong direction.

Also, see my post on Tweetdeck in the rants/raves section.  It is a must-have application for anyone using Twitter.  Check it out here.
 
 
So this blog is finally getting a lot of attention.  I'm consistently getting 50+ views a day, and you know, when you're used to seeing 10-15, you start to get a little excited.  With more viewers I start to get more worried.  I gotta write bigger, better, perfectly-proofread  blogs now!  Well, I'll at least give it my best.

As I talk to my friends about what they want to hear, how they like the blog, and how I can make it better, there's one thing I consistently hear.  "How does this all relate to me?"  I can see where they're coming from.  Most of my friends have suit jobs, or in other words, formal jobs such as an investment banker, financial analyst, or school teacher.  They aren't interested in marketing and advertising, and they aren't out to brand themselves because the aren't looking for jobs.  How can I write for them?

It all started with a conversation with one of my good friends who works for Edward Jones.  He complimented me on my knowledge of social media and my critiques on current campaigns, but then he left me dumbfounded with two very basic questions: "Why would I use Twitter" and  "What would blogging do for me?"

I'll preface by saying that I enjoy social media.  I blog for my own entertainment.  It's a learning tool, a stress relief, and fun form of communication.  Same goes for Twitter, Facebook, etc.  

However it got me thinking, how can "suits" embrace social media in a way that can make them more profitable, more marketable, and more likely to succeed?"  The answer lies in three key words:  Integrate, Inform, and Energize.
Let's start with a financial advisor for Edward Jones.  At the most basic level, it is an FA's job to attract new clients, bring business to the company, and make profitable investments on behalf of the client.  How is this done?  Mostly through door-to-door sales and cold-calling.  How could social media help in this case?  The opportunities are endless.

1.  Integrate:  Take the current way of doing things and improve upon it.  Integrate current strategy with new media strategy.  Go door to door, make cold calls, but also host a website, create a blog, communicate through Facebook and Twitter.

2. Inform:  You can only tell someone so much at a client meeting.  You'll forget important points, use incorrect wording, or confuse the potential client.  A website or a blog can fill the potential client in with more information, a personal biography, a resume, and an abundance of information that allows them access to what they want when they want it.

3.  Energize:  Social media can energize people to act.  If an FA writes a blog on the importance of investing in a down economy, provides the research and the data to back it up, and communicates this via Facebook or Twitter to everyone in his/her network, you bet your bottom that you'll get some calls.  Your friends will see your advice, share it with parents, friends, relatives, whoever, and in the end, it's your name getting the recognition.

Keep in mind, I am not in-the-know on Finanial Advising.  I'd imagine there are confidentiality laws and certain no-no's you would need to watch out for.  But the idea of branding yourself as a smart, successful, and educated advisor and communicating that to everyone in your network can't be anything but good for a career.

The same goes with Real Estate.  I'm soon going to meet with an extremely educated business man who just started a real-estate venture.   His website looks great, if you google his name you get positive results, and he allows visitors to see pictures, information, and driving directions to each property on the market.  Once again though, I can't help but see the possibilities of social media for this individual and his recent start up. 

1.  Integrate:  While I don't think many people are on Twitter looking for houses, I believe it is a valuable network to communicate through.  Someone may click on your tweet just out of pure interest, see your site, and communicate to friends that the business has great properties.  A Facebook page could advertise your apartment and condominium rentals, where college students and newly employed individuals make up a a large market.  Sparking communication and conversation about your business is key.  Making sure the conversation is positive is what you must work towards.

2.  Inform:  This is where social media could really thrive in real estate.  I think pictures are 2009.  Videos are a must to differentiate the men from the boys.  Walk throughs with style is what I believe in.  Maybe some editing, some music, share em on your personal youtube site as well as your company site.  Also, pictures of surrounding businesses, copy on what is around and how far it all is.  Having a blog that contains articles on your experience, press releases on your company, testimonials, information on houses, and articles on why consumers should buy your properties.  First-time home buyers yearn for information, and the internet is their source.  Give them all you can give.

3.  Energize:  Give them every outlet available and influence them to make a purchase.  It's all about presenting homes in the very best possible light and making sure those that see it, communicate their excitement to friends.  Not only can well designed social networks energize buyers, it can energize everyone around them, regardless of if they are in the market for the product.


Lastly, I'm going to mention a teacher.  I'll spare you the small talk, but share a story.  A former classmate who is now a teacher created a personal website that allowed visitors to donate money for a cause.  His class wanted to disect owl pellets and (since it was an urban area public school) didn't have the budget.  He posted a blog on all of the costs associated with the project and promised to post pictures and videos of the class in action.  A few days later, he was just a few dollars short of the goal for the project.  He spread the message through networks, and the networks came through.  Now he is representing the future of teaching, and energizing those around him to contribute.

These are a few examples but I hope that it helps you realize the potential that social networks have on creating successful business ventures.  It's not just embracing them anymore; its integrating, informing, and energizing consumers through them.  It's not just for creatives and brands, it's for suits, small businesses, and those interested in creating a successful strategy for the future.
 
 
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People always ask me "What is your favorite ad?"  While the answer is always changing, (currently Bud Light Lime), it's safe to say that I'll always have a sweet spot for men's personal care brands.  What do I mean by personal care?  I mean brands like Axe, Old Spice, and Mitchum.  Each one of these brands represents products for men that appeal to men therefore the obvious strategy is to advertise towards the standard target market:  men.

The new strategy I propose, with slight hesitation, is the possibility of brands creating campaigns aimed at those directly related to the target market, but not the target market itself.  If we look back at the case of Axe, Old Spice, and Mitchum, we'd be talking about a campaign directed at the target market's better half: women.

Before the negative comments start rolling in, please let me explain myself.

Let's use the Axe brand.  They make funny, sexy, dirty ads usually involving a large group of half-naked women chasing a a guy until they catch him and clean him up.  It's the Axe Effect.  Why do guys like it?  Because they get the idea that if they wash with this stuff, if they spray it on before they go out, they'll have no problem getting girls.  Trust me, I fell for it too.  We all wish it was that easy.

Axe has done a great job of winning the guys over though.  You can't open a Men's Health or Men's Fitness Magazine without flipping to a print ad and I can't help but notice the television ads during every MTV commercial break.  They've got interactive sites showing guys how to get girls, how to style your hair with their product, and how to choose a scent based on the type of girl you want to date.  What I'm getting at is:  I think guys finally get the point.
 
What can a brand do when it has already established an extremely brand loyal target market?  It can turn the market upside down!  I've came up with a proposal for Axe to put into effect.  I want you to tell me if it would be a smart idea or a waste of time and money.  It's based around the idea of "The Axe Upgrader."  It includes online, social media, interactive, mobile marketing, in-store ads, and promotional events - all marketed towards the girlfriends and mothers of the direct target market.  

Here's the campaign:

The“Axe Upgrader”

Medium:  Online Website

Description:  Interactive website that provides girls with the opportunity to turn their boys into men.  Games that provide girls the opportunity to upload their boyfriends pictures and change their hair and body styles around and email them to friends.  Tips and tricks on how to upgrade your boyfriend into a more stylish and hip guy.  Include blogs, videos, pictures and testimonials of men who have been given the Axe Upgrade.

Axe Upgrader Facebook Group : Females Only

Medium:  Social Media – Facebook

Description:  Interactive facebook group with discussion board, videos, boyfriend gallery, and advice column.  Basically a female version of the male group with over 1,350 members.

Axe Upgrader Photo Bus

Medium:  Promotional Event/Moving Marketing

Description:  An Axe Upgrader bus that would travel the country to female frequented concerts, parties, and events.  The bus would turn into a place to eat, drink, and take pictures with male models who would be endorsing the products.  Having the men take pictures with female guests and “wash and upgrade” themselves in front of the women at the various events over the course of the summer. 

Axe Online Advertisements

Medium:  Web Ads

Description:  Axe hair product ads on websites such as Perezhilton.com, Cosmopolitan.com, and other female frequented websites promoting the Axe products that can upgrade your son or your boyfriend.

Point of Purchase Ads
Medium:  In-store

Description:  Axe hair product point of purchase ads in an easily recognized and strategically designed promotional sales shelf.  Moms shopping for their sons can easily see that this is the newest, most stylish product and will try it out for their sons.

Mom’s Guide to the Axe Upgrader

Medium:  Website

Description:  The “mom-friendly” version of the Axe Upgrader website with information about the products, how they can give their sons style and confidence, and coupons and information on where to buy the products.  Ads linking to this website would be placed on banners on mom-frequented websites.

Here's the deal.

I hate shopping.  I think most guys feel the same.  We want our moms and girlfriends to buy everything for us, but we still want the best stuff out there, and usually moms and girlfriends don't know what to buy.  Do these two subgroups make up a big enough target market to make a difference or would Axe be wasting their time and money?

I want this to be bigger than just Axe, but it's tough to think of how many companies this strategy could apply to.  I mean, essentially it wouldn't be a successful solution for most brands but for Axe, I really think it works.  Could this apply to beer companies so girls know what to buy their man?  Could this apply to Bacardi and Smirnoff so guys can brush up on what to buy their girls?  I think the opportunities are pretty endless, but it's a whole new way of thinking.  

What do you guys think of my proposal?  Creating a new target market, based essentially off the opposite sex or opposite end-user.  I think it could be the next big marketing solution, but maybe I just got soap in my eyes.
 
 
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Ok, so for starters, I know - I gotta work on my Photoshop skills, but for now, that's the best I got. I mean c'mon, you can't go wrong with a green background and some freshly cropped out eggs.  I mean, seriously.  The creativity is in my head, not my hands.  Sorry!

On to the good stuff though.  

So I'm sitting here looking around at some internship opportunities.  You're probably asking "why do an internship after you're out of college?"  Well, I can think of oh-so-many reasons.

1.  Get some real world experience in the industry
2.  Network with some big time names
3.  Learn from the best in the industry

What are some reasons that a company would want to take on an intern?

1.  Good press 
2.  Newest pool of talent 
3.  Cheap labor 
4.  Great coffee
5.  Fresh minds

When I think about all these benefits of being and intern and having an intern, I can't help but think of how powerful a business could be if it was comprised wholly of, well, interns.  

Here's the big idea.

Start up a company - for this example - we're using an advertising agency.  The company is going to be called "The Ad Egg." In fact, we might even go ahead and make The Ad Egg a non-profit ad agency. Well, scratch that, we'll want to make a profit somehow.  What is The Add Egg?  Why don't we just look at a possible mission statement.

"The Ad Egg's mission is to incubate the young minds of tomorrow and prepare them to hatch into industry through hands-on learning, research and development, and a virtual agency experience."

So wait, this is a pretty much school right?  No, not quite.  It's much cheaper than a school and requires more work.

Where did this idea come from you might be wondering.  Well here's the deal.  Ever since my sophomore year in college, I have been looking for an internship.  I mean, it's free labor!  How could people possibly resist.  But the problem is, they did - and they still do.  

I've got multiple bones to pick within the area of career development.  The first one lies in the fact that there is just too much darn competition out there to work with.  In college, I would apply to these internships that would have around 200 kids applying for the same position.  They narrow it down to ten, then decide on one or two lucky individuals.  I feel great knowing that I made it into two top 10's (even though I didn't get either,) but it really makes you wonder how you can be that #1 applicant.

The second bone lies in the fact that a lot of companies don't even offer internships.  I get it, it sucks to train people.  As a manager at Hollister it was my job to train the new employees.  Not only that, but I had to train the other assistant manager as well, all of which left me feeling a little pissed and a little stressed.  I mean, most of us have enough work on our own plates with no time to sit around and tell an intern how to use the company email address.  But get this - the better you train that intern, the more he/she learns and excels, the better you look as an employee and the greater chance you have of getting promoted (as the intern takes your position full-time).

So back to the idea at hand.  A company full of interns.  An agency in this case.  Why would companies use "The Ad Egg" for their next campaign?  Because they are the freshest minds in advertising.  They are cheap.  They have great coffee.  They are working harder than ever because, unlike members of big-time agencies, they don't have a paying job.  Yes that's right.  These interns don't get paid.  They are doing this all for the experience, in hopes that they will someday use what they have learned in an attempt to land a big time ad job.

Wait a second, wouldn't this hurt the existing agencies that actually charge a fee.  Yes and no.  Sure the Ad Egg would produce good material (we'd hire the best and the brightest), but agency experience would still be a huge issue.  Interns wouldn't be able to compete with the big guns and truthfully - wouldn't have the budget to either.  But the fact remains, businesses would still use the interns, because they are free and they are driven.  Our point of sale would be - to at least give us a try and if you didn't find a campaign that works, go ahead on with a big name - at least we got the experience.

This is all just a total brain spew.  But I think in this economy, investing in a place where great minds could come in, volunteer their time and effort, and work towards a greater goal would find a great home in STL.  The opportunity is endless.  If we could get companies like AB, Nestle Purina, P&G, Edward Jones, Target, Vi-Jon, and other huge companies in STL on board to help out with this business, host contests, let them play around with their next campaign, give them ideas to work on for the future, host guest speaking at the Ad Egg Headquarters - things like this - would truly help us grads.   We are stuck in this purgatory between school and a career and this could finally be our way out.

I could be speaking for myself on this one, but I would love to have a business to go to each and every day.  A place where I could gather with other recent graduates, blog, work on advertising projects, network, hear speakers, and get prepared for a future in the industry.  I think a lot of people would buy into the Ad Egg.  Heck, if we could make the building look like an Egg, I think we'd even be sending more of a message.  We'd be passionate, driven, and companies would recruit out of the Ad Egg.  It would be a great entry level path for those who don't want to work at Starbucks but haven't found their dream job.  Or heck you could even do both, but at least you'd be moving closer towards that dream job in the process.

Enough with the rant, but I want your ideas.  Would you volunteer your time with a company if you weren't getting paid?  A place where you could develop your skills and work with real companies on real campaigns.  A place to spend time preparing yourself and branding yourself for future employment? I know I would, but please, let me know your thoughts because my mind might just be a little scrambled.  

 
 
Hey guys, 

For anyone checking in, I apologize for the lack of consistant blog posts.  I've been doing some traveling here lately starting out in Cape Girardeau, MO, heading West to Fulton, MO then catching a plane to Fort Worth, TX to spend some time with my girlfriend.  This blog will continue to be my main priority as I plan to write more op-ed style pieces on my job search, job thoughts, and industry ideas.

If you haven't noticed yet, I do have another blog up and running called "The Daily Interest."  It's more of an entertainment-driven site with my favorite ads, movie trailers, and internet videos.  I'll also be posting some industry news on that blog as well.  The reason I decided to make this site was so that I could keep this as more of an intellectual portfolio.  I'm working on some powerpoint presentations that I plan on embedding into this site as well as some educational articles that I have been spending some time on.  I also got a book review that I plan on posting here soon.

A lot of stuff in the works. but the main priority is finding a job.  I'm building a brand, but it won't be much use if I don't find an outlet to use it.  I'll keep you posted here, but thank you for checking in.  Lots of exciting stuff to come and I'm glad you guys want to be a part of it.

For now, head over to The Daily Interest at:
www.buffsdailyinterest.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter for all blog updates at:
www.twitter.com/mbuffa
 
 
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Have you ever wondered what your favorite band is doing right now?  How about your favorite actor?  How about that movie that you just can’t wait to see?  Wouldn’t it be great to get some behind the scenes footage from the set?  Some videos of Dashboard Confessional recording their new album, some photos of Ben Stiller behind the scenes at Jay Leno, or a video on how President Obama stays in shape? 

Ever since the invention of online social media – these are the things that I have been waiting for.  Call it weird, call it creepy, call it stalker – but I love the Internet and the idea of the “
4th dimension” made possible through social media.  What do I mean by this?  Well for starters, now you can know what your favorite band is doing, where an actor is eating lunch, or what is going on behind the scenes of True Blood.  What’s the problem then?  The problem lies in the fact that while many people are taking note of this issue, in my opinion, not many are using social media to their full advantage. 

What brought this whole idea up?  Well, today was the launch of fitness model and actor Greg Plitt’s new website (
http://www.gregplitt.com).  Before you go to the site and judge this guy on his appearance, let it be known that he more than just a fitness model, he’s an inspirational speaker, a West Point Grad, an Army Ranger, and a workout guru.  He’s got a huge amount of followers, and what does he do?  He creates a website where they can see what he’s done, what he’s doing, how he stays in shape, how he eats, who he meets, and how he’s gotten to where he has.   It breaks down that wall that so many celebrities put up, and allows fans to truly connect with who he is and what he’s done. 

 There are other people doing this too, the first few that come to mind being Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey, and Ellen Degeneres.  Ellen and Oprah both post monologues, photos, videos, contests, recommendations, insights, and opinions on their respective mediums every day.  Usually this involves Twitter, Facebook, and their own branded websites but things such as texts and emails are expanding the spectrum daily.  Ashton Kutcher now hires a production crew to go with him everywhere, documenting his every day life from a behind the scenes interview with Conan O’Brien to a candid bikini shot of wife Demi Moore while on vacation (which received over 950,000 views on twitter -
http://twitpic.com/2bj58 - ).  He hosts web.tv shows on Ustream, he has his own television show on Facebook, and he’s constantly letting fans in on the life that is “Ashton Kutcher.”  This obviously isn’t a fad, rather a phenomenon, seeing as a recent stat claims, Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Ireland, Norway and Panama.”  That’s proof.

Actors and models aren’t the only ones getting in on this online action.  Bands are constantly updating Twitter with where they are and what they’re doing, giving fans behind the scenes photos and videos, and breaking down the barrier between listener and artist.  I’m still waiting for the “4th dimension” to be broken down further on this one though.  Why can’t we get live streams of Dave Matthews in the studio recording his new album, a live feed of Blink 182’s pre-show ritual, or a behind the scenes look at how Kings of Leon drummer, Nathan Followill, chooses his drum set.  Maybe it’s just me wanting to be a part of something greater, or maybe it is a whole new opportunity that isn’t being tapped into by many of today’s entertainers.

I’m still waiting patiently for this wall to break down completely.  I don’t even watch Football, but I just spent four hours glued to the television for a show called “Hard Knocks:  Preseason with the Bengals.”  Why?  Because it’s interesting to see what these football players go though, their families, their training, their ups and downs.  The behind the scenes reality.  I just read an article about Obama’s personal health plan documenting his daily workout regimen.  Tell me you wouldn’t be interested in hearing what the president of the United States bench presses each day, what he eats, and how far he runs.  It’s these small facts, these random thoughts, and these little ideas that get me going, and it’s these same thoughts that I think are paving the way for the future of social media.

Why do I post these blogs? 
Because I believe that someone out there is reading them and getting a little sneak peak into my life.  If I were an actor, I’d have videos of life on the set.  If I were a model, I’d be posting pictures of all the girls I worked with, and if I were musician, I’d put a webcam up during one our practices.  It’s this “4th dimension” that I think will be crucial for success in the entertainment industry in the future.  Those who can embrace it and attack it with strategy will connect with fans on a more personal scale, something becoming more and more important in today’s society.

My next blog will be a more intelligent study of this phenomenon and the power this “4th dimension" has in terms of consumer spending and brands.  More specifically I’ll dive into the importance of social media strategy for companies like Vitamin Water, Red Bull, Gatorade, and Target and the importance of having an online personality and interactive brand in a crowded market of competitors.

I want to hear your thoughts on this.  Are there any celebrities, blogs, websites you follow?  Do you ever wish you could know more about your favorite entertainer?  Give me some scoop in the comments.  I welcome any
insights, ideas, or opinions you may have.


 
 
 I just recently read a few articles on marketing strategy and what it takes for a small business to succeed in an unstable market.   Author and Duct Tape Marketing blogger, Don Fulano, states,

 An effective marketing strategy requires understanding who you are, choosing to be different than everyone else, and committing to one simple way of doing, acting and creating – to the exclusion of all other ways of doing, acting, and creating.


While this may sound easy, in truth, it can be a very daunting task.  In this blog, I want to apply this scenario to self-branding, self-marketing, and self-selling, and the importance of strategy in job searching.

In traditional terms, advertising and marketing was thought of as a way to deliver a message.  I find that in today’s society, marketing is not about delivering the message; rather it is about finding a way to connect with consumers.  Going along with this, I would argue that searching for a job isn’t about delivering a message; rather it’s about finding a way to connect with an employer, hit a nerve, pull a string, or make a mark.  It’s all about a strategy, understanding who you are, where your strengths lie, and choosing to differentiate yourself from the masses.  

Right now I am in the stage that I like to call “connection planning.”  I’m educating myself on the industry I want to enter, what it takes to succeed, and what to expect from the future.  I’m learning about who I need to contact, what I need to send, and who the companies are looking to hire.  I’m branding myself as a student, a learner, a writer, a self-starter, a leader, and a young professional looking for a shot at greatness.  

I’m also in the stage that I like to call “media planning” or in some cases, “media execution.”  I’m choosing my mediums of delivery in ways that cater to the direct message I want to deliver.  I’m using social networks Twitter and Facebook to convey my personal brand to friends, enemies, and acquaintances.  I’m using Linkedin to connect on a professional level with students, colleagues, and company representatives.  I’m using Blogger and Weebly to blog my insights, ideas, and opinions, and to remain “intheknow” on the marketing industry.  It’s great practice at strategic execution at the most basic level, and I think it has prepared me in ways that will benefit me when dealing with a small business, big brand, or self-startup.


Overall, I believe there are 3 things we must ask ourselves when looking for a career.

What business do we want to be in?

Who are the employers we would want to work for?

What traits do these employers value in new hires?

If you can successfully answer all these questions, and create a personal brand to connect to this career, chances are things will work out.

Don’t take it from me, I’m still on the search, but I’m working hard at making things happen, and I'm confidant that things will work out.

How did you guys find jobs?  How are you working on finding them?  Any hints, tips, tricks, or advice you might have would be great.  Am I working too hard at not working or is this the price you pay to live in the “Internet Age?” 

Below is a video that explains why I am such an advocate of social media and the impact it can have on a career, business, or brand.  It’s long, but you can get the gist after about 2 minutes.  I think it will give you that “Wow” effect it gave me.