This video of Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America, had some great insights into the power we all have to be designers. Although Code for America is mostly involved in online work, she demonstrates how interface design is not necessarily virtual. In fact, we all have the capability to be designers – to “hack” an experience of our own and optimize the process into something better and more enjoyable.
This “we can go out and fix it” attitude is what has surely fueled Code for America’s momentum. It has been with great pleasure that I have seen the buzz around their initiatives grow over the past two years. I too believe that “interfaces and government can be simple, beautiful, and easy to use” and hope one day to work on similar initiative.
Conveniently, this video was shared with me while I am enrolled in a class at Olin College of Engineering called User-Oriented Collaborative Design. In the class I get to choose a people group to get to know intimately and design a product with them to make their lives better. It is amazing the parallels I see to Code for America.
Yesterday, we launched the newly designed College Outside website. College Outside is my latest project. These last 5 months we have spent learning about the outdoor publishing industry and strategizing in hopes to tell the stories of thousands of students who are doing amazing things outdoors which will serve as inspiration and guidance to what a student can achieve.
I have learned countless things from this startup experience and the rate of learning is no where near slowing. I have learned about the many intricacies of building a team, business strategy, networking, marketing, industry research, and so much more. It is experiential learning at its finest. For example, when we needed a logo, I learned as much as I could about logo design and theory.
One specific thing I have learned about myself is that I have a natural eye for web design. The launching of this newly designed website is a result of our team intensely planning the user experience (starting with personas and wire frames), collaborating on backend programming, and my own front-end design. When we were ready for the front end design I took a week off work and taught myself Adobe Illustrator. So began College Outside becoming my first web design project. I am excited to continue to learn and already have several iterations in mind.
Great book to check out that I am currently finishing up if interested: Radical Marketing
Lessons learned from radical marketers like the Grateful Dead, Harley Davidson, Boston Beer Company, Virgin Mobile and others….
Radicals marketers have three key characteristics that differentiate them from traditional marketers:
1. Very strong visceral ties with a specific target audience.
2. Focus on growth and expansion rather than on profit-making
3. Embrace being resource-constrained and be creative with what you do have.
Rules of Radical Marketing
1. The CEO must own the marketing function.
2.Make sure the marketing department starts small and flat and stays small and flat.
3. Get out of the head office and face-to-face with the people who matter most – the customers
4. Use market research cautiously
5.Hire only passionate missionaries
6.Love and respect your customers
7.Create a community of consumers.
8.Rethink the marketing mix.
9. Celebrate uncommon sense
10. Be true to the brand.
This book is a great read to help you understand logo design theory (i.e. what makes a good and bad logo) and how to “read” the elements of a logo design. The deconstructed view of logos from every industry illustrates what key details evoke the necessary emotions from each successful logo.
Besides the incredibly inspiring nature of this video, I notice something very important about its origins: it speaks volumes of Nike to pick such a filmmaker for the campaign, the filmmaker to have frankly the cojones to spend $10K of Nike’s budget on travel expenses, and presumably Nike supporting later that it represents their brand well. Whether the recognition goes to filmmaker Casey Neistat or Nike I feel more inclined to include the Nike brand into my life brand. Another instance where business is fundamentally about people and does in fact have the ability to inspire and reach for more than profit.
Finally I have found an article that explains my vision for a career plan – and what do you know, it comes from the words of President Schlesinger of Babson College. Do you get asked what you see for yourself in 5 years? When you don’t name a specific job, company, or industry, do you get this uneasy, blank stare back from your inquirer? If you are like me, then you know what I am talking about.
Allow me to highlight what I find important:
“Instead of formulating the logically perfect ending job and the optimal path to get there, begin with a direction, based on a real desire, and complement that with a strategy to discover and create opportunities consistent with that desire.”
“So, the process looks like this:
- Determine your desire
- Take a step toward it
- Incorporate what you learn from taking that step
- Take another step
- Learn from that one
- Repeat until you have a job, your own business, or have achieved your goal
In the beginning of 2012 Babson began a new marketing campaign that asserts, “The World Needs a New Definition of Entrepreneurship. It’s Being Written Here at Babson.” Certainly before the campaign started Babson was already doing this, but I commend the college for implementing the philosophy in such a different way – a different way that encapsulates what it means to be an entrepreneurial thinker at Babson. Now I know that this campaign is certainly a team effort, but I want to acknowledge how in my experience I have seen President Len Schlesinger practice this philosophy in all areas. In this month’s Babson Magazine, I learned that the image below caught President Schlesinger’s eye and was what began artist Hugh Macleod as being Babson’s Official Cartoonist.
As the Babson Magazine article explains, “MacLeod’s art is fresh, uncomplicated, and effective, perfect to help convey Babson’s message.” And I love it. Such attention to and importance placed on communication demonstrates the Babson mindset well. Below are my other favorite works done by Macleod for Babson.
So why i like Babson’s marketing campaign is it is not a pitch, it truly is an ideology. It is what we aspire to be. It is why I am proud to be a part f the Babson College community. So next time you are by a newsstand, in a coffee shop, on the web, or on your tablet flip through Time, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Entrepreneur or BusinessWeek and see what all this is about.
**I am currently trying to obtain copies of the ads to post, but for now look out for the “Entrepreneurship Is…”, “C_O”, and the shoe ad in magazines or online.
En.tre.pre.neur.ship (n): The constant tying together of unique ideas and values in an intricate web of action.
(my answer on define.babson.edu)
Many things are coming together, but right now there just is not enough time to put them to writing. Stay tuned….it will be worth it.
There are many things I could say about Steve Jobs. Among what I could say would be many thanks. Thanks for his commitment to perfection. Thanks for his belief in humanity. Thanks for creating the company who’s culture would open my mind in countless ways. I cannot adequately explain my appreciation. So rather than getting lost in words, I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from Steve that have influenced me most.
Playboy: We were warned about you: Before this Interview began, someone said we were “about to be snowed by the best.”
[Smiling] “We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.”
“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. [Wired, February 1996]
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” [BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998]
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Fortune, Nov. 9, 1998]
“But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. [BusinessWeek, Oct. 12, 2004]
A little while ago I reflected on what it would be like for resort marketing to embrace the popularity and growing maturity of today’s ski film. Upon writing the post I understood that few marketing budgets and manpower could cater to the idea, so I decided to put into practice what I thought could be done. Below is a plan that I would implement if put in the position to implement an interactive media campaign for a ski mountain.
The campaign is based on my theory that resort marketing in the ski industry lacks its consumers a much-desired intimate experience that goes beyond simply supplying them a playground for themselves, their friends, and their families. A large portion of the market (18-30 year olds mostly) would welcome being interacted with in a whole new way – interactions that would have local insight that is both inspirational and untreated into the products and services they love. This sort of campaign would not be in replacement of the refined marketing strategy that has been successful for mountain resorts in the past, but would rather compliment it quite well and reach an audience in a way that will change how they view ski culture and ultimately where they decide to spend their extra hard-earned dollars.
A large section of the plan involves basic utilization of interactive platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. The magic of the plan is in the creative use of technology and the capturing authentic emotion. The campaign is fairly low budget, but could certainly be more impactful with a little extra money.
I have broken up what my campaign would be in three parts, which I will call Marketing Through a Different Lens, Sharing the Love in Both Directions, Tie it All Back Together with Personal Interactions.
Marketing Through a Different Lens
1. Documentary-type film based on the “life” of the mountain resort. Basically, an unscripted look at what is traditionally marketed each year by the resort.
Snow Production (ex. Grooming Operation at Mount Sunapee)
Whatever the mountain prides itself on
2. POV film of the 3 “best” trails at each mountain
The most thrill (black diamond or double black diamond)
The best cruiser (blue square)
The unique (sidecountry, park, trail with special view)
3. Through video, pictures, write-ups, and audio a real look into the good local eats (including the mountain’s lodge), local shops and brands to know, and après ski places and experiences.
4. Give customers GoPro’s to film their own POV films for an hour, morning, or full day similar to testing out skis. This promotes GoPro as well as gives footage to use (Customer inclusion).
Sharing the Love in Both Directions
1. Each element will be posted individually on YouTube and will be combined to create a 5 minute inspiring video of the mountain.
2. Blog-style webpage, Twitter, FourSquare, and Facebook will be fully integrated (except special content available on each medium exclusively). Constant variety of posts on each medium.
3. Blog-style webpage
Contests & Sweepstakes (Free Gear, Free Passes)
Where to be this upcoming weekend or upcoming vacation advice
Catching content to bring followers onto other media outlets (blog, Facebook)
“Check-In” Scavenger hunt around mountains for prizes
Connect customers with each other to learn about where the fun is
Let customers know where you will be to push personal interaction
Creative and interactive Welcome Page
Like Gating – Customers have to “like” Facebook page to see exclusive YouTube videos. Bold request for the “like” and hint at what’s waiting for the fan
Utilize “send” button to have customers share with friends easily
Create partnerships with resorts and ski manufacturers to benefit fans
Post Rules of Engagement for Fans (brief, but impactful and encouraging)
Places application utilized with FourSquare
Fill with photos of mountains and skiers posted by customers and the mountain
Tie it All Back Together with Personal Interaction
1. Host events that on the mountain where interactive media has a key role
2. Follow up with fans and followers – an online interaction should also continue on the slopes.
Learn why customers come back through a competition where they make their own videos (through camera phones and personal cameras) that show why they love the resort). This aspect of capturing data to push out offers would need to be improved upon.
3. Receive feedback and repeat.