Motivation Behind Marketing: What’s Your Motivation?

“It’s important in life to know what our motivation is.” –DeVon Franklin

It’s also important in marketing and advertising to know what our motivation is. And that’s what I’m going to focus on here today.

What is your motivation?

Be honest. If your motivation is to sell products, you might see some success, but you will not continue to be successful.

A Greater Motivation

Photo of Steve Jobs with quote

Let’s look at Apple. What would you say their motivation is?

You could probably argue that selling products at least factors into their motivation, but it is secondary. Bob Borchers, a former iPhone product marketing engineer, said (I’m quoting from the article “Former Apple employee recounts how Jobs motivated iPhone team”):

Steve Jobs didn’t have a specific device in mind, but instead gave the team a mission: create a phone that people would love so much that they’d never leave the house without it.

Does that sound like a man or a company whose primary motivation is to sell?

No. That’s what once made Apple unique and what other companies, especially Samsung, are now catching up with. Your motivation has to be to make great products people will love. The bonus with that is that those products then kind of market themselves.

Motivated by Money

We all know people who are motivated by money. We can see it a mile away. Their sales pitch is disconnected from customers, it’s truly all about them. And you get a sense that they will tell you anything just so they get what they want. Is that who you want to be?

I admit, there are exceptions. Some people, some companies who are motivated purely or mostly by money can be successful. But they are often successful at the cost of something greater—humanity, the environment, other people’s economies.

Look at the finance industry and all the wrongdoing that caused the U.S economic collapse. Those bankers, Wall Street traders, etc.—the ones who caused this mess—were all motivated by money. Greed.

Look at the oil industry. Sure, their advertising makes it seem like they’re interested in the environment or the earth’s future, but we all know they’re interested (at least for now) in one thing above all else—profits. And they do quite well in that category.

Eventually, I hope, that will change as consumers become more aware and demand more change. For now, it’s up to you to be the change. Ask yourself who you want to be. Which type of motivation sounds better to you?

What about You?

For me, I like Apple’s motivation—to make great products people will love. I find it authentic and more fulfilling. Imagine what would happen if every company were motivated by that—what a wonderful world we’d live in.

So, if you’re not getting the response you want on social media or in sales, maybe it’s time to rethink your motivation.

Are you just trying to sell to people? Or do you want to give them great products and services they will love?

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Army Strong: 1st Infantry Division’s Suicide Prevention Campaign Gets Personal

We’re already seeing examples of one of the biggest trends of 2013—authentic storytelling. Marketing campaigns are getting more and more personal, with real stories from real people.

You may be surprised—or not—to know that one organization leading the way is the U.S. Army. Recently, I came across a campaign from the 1st Infantry Division that aims to tackle suicide prevention among soldiers in a more effective way.

I spoke with Mollie Miller from the 1st Infantry Division who filled me in on their “I Know How It Feels” campaign. A campaign that was born and executed within this Division by their own Public Affairs team—not by an agency.  The campaign captures actual soldiers admitting things like:

“I know how it feels to choose the harder right,” talking about taking time off to treat an injury.

Poster with soldier talking about asking for help

“Soldier on.” We’ve all heard the saying, meaning tough it out and keep your mouth shut. Who’s tougher than a soldier? The 1st Infantry is trying to change the meaning of “soldier on” and show everyone that being tough means asking for help. That’s strong.

Straight Talk from the Army Chief of Staff

According to Miller:

In late 2012, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno instructed leaders at all levels the Army refocus their efforts in the realms of suicide prevention. Despite a constant “attack” on suicide, the formation seemed to be losing ground in the effort to prevent soldier/family member suicide. Gen. Odierno asked Army leaders to focus their efforts on several key areas including stigma reduction, combating isolation, and resiliency. In an effort to communicate suicide prevention, stigma reduction and resilience messages to audiences who seemed to have turned a deaf ear to the traditional leadership-driven, buzz word-rich messages, the 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs team launched the “I Know How It Feels” Campaign.

The poster-based campaign is designed to show soldiers, family members and civilians they’re not alone in their struggles. The goal is to motivate them to get help “at the first signs of trouble, rather than waiting until problems seem monumental and unfixable.”

The posters feature actual soldiers, civilians and family members discussing their own personal struggles and what they did to overcome their challenges, like this one below featuring Lt. William Milzarski.

Soldier asking for help with nightmares

Lt. Milzarski shares his story about the war he brought home and how he sought help for recurring nightmares that disrupted his life.

Talking about feelings and getting help isn’t something anyone in the military is used to. So, it’s especially nice to see real soldiers brave enough to speak out. And it’s even more gratifying to see the positive response their honesty is bringing.

“Outstanding” Response

Reaction from soldiers, families and even the public have been very positive. Miller says:

The reaction has been outstanding. The audiences that we targeted (1st Infantry Division Soldiers and family members) as well as several secondary audiences (local community members, Army veterans, extended family members) have been praising this campaign here on post and throughout Facebook. Comments like “outstanding initiative” and “I wish the Army would have done something like this a long time ago” have followed every poster’s launch on Facebook.

This is a campaign that all marketers should take note of–an example of how to target a tough audience and step into delicate territory at the same time.

Follow the 1st Infantry Division on Facebook to see more of the fantastic things they do. And stay tuned to this blog, because I’m on the lookout for more powerful examples of using real-life stories in marketing, advertising and social campaigns to share with you.

What Marketing Tactic is Most Important to Prioritize in 2013?

At the start of a new year, many businesses assess their marketing efforts and decide what they will do differently this year. Small businesses especially don’t always have the marketing resources they need, so I’ve asked some local marketing experts to give you advice, by answering this one question:

Considering your limited resources, what marketing tactic is most important to prioritize (or learn more about) in 2013?

Answer #1 by Skip Shuda

Photo of Skip Shuda, Philly Marketing Labs

Skip Shuda is co-founder and marketing strategist at Philly Marketing Labs. He practices Aikido (the art of harmony) on the mat, in his business and in his life. Follow him on Twitter at @skipshoe.

Know your target buyer and walk in their shoes.   By creating a detailed marketing persona (a description of your typical buyer), you can better position all of your marketing to serve them and meet them where they are.

Answer the questions:

  • What does my typical buyer look like?  Knowing typical demographics of your buyer can help you identify potential clients faster.
  • Where does my audience hang out?  Whether digital or real world, you can meet buyers in their preferred venues.
  • What is the mindset of my typical buyer when they are ready to buy?  Position your offer to maximize value to them given how they think.
  • What are the values of my audience?  Your prospective buyers will look for community service, activities and values that resonate with theirs. Make sure your brand and website reflect those values.

Answer #2 by Natalia Morais

Natalia Morais photo

Natalia Morais, social media manager at Moving Targets, and presenter and organizer of the Bucks-Mont Online Marketing Meetup. Originally from Brazil, Natalia is a lover of arts and crafts, visual communication and advocate of great customer service. Follow her on Twitter at @NatMoraisBR.

I have to say social media and email marketing. These two channels not only allow business owners to reach a very targeted audience – customers who already like their services/products and will be more likely to buy – but also give businesses the chance to build a personal relationship with them. With so many options to choose from nowadays, having a great relationship with customers has become a very important part of running a business and the best way to stand out from the competition.

Answer # 3 by Liam Dempsey

Liam Dempsey, LBDesign

Liam Dempsey, director + designer, LBDesign. Liam is a strategist, graphic designer and copywriter. He also likes quirkiness, as evidenced by chickenmonkeydog.com. Follow him on Twitter at @liamdempsey.

Consistency and patience are two key factors often overlooked in marketing campaigns of limited resources. For 2013, small businesses should focus on consistently implementing their marketing strategies for the entire duration of the campaign. Don’t get distracted, overwhelmed or disappointed by initial results! A developed sense of patience will ensure that small businesses give their marketing efforts time to root, germinate and grow. Business development takes time; patience enables small businesses to give that development an opportunity of success.

Answer #4 by Carla Wilson

Carla Wilson, Wilson Media ServicesCarla Wilson, owner of Wilson Media Services, is a self-proclaimed digital media junkie.  She helps her clients strategize ways to repurpose their existing content into audio and video for their Internet marketing efforts. Follow her on Twitter at @WilsonVA.

Even with limited marketing dollars, consistently creating short video (like a “tip of the day” or “2 minutes with a coach”) is a great way to extend your reach and expand your marketing efforts.  Typically, folks already have the equipment they might need to create video – a smartphone or web camera on a computer – to produce content that educates, engages and builds rapport.  Video can be added to a YouTube channel, website, and pushed out on social channels. And, here’s a tip: the shorter the video, that easier it is to produce.  The easier it is to produce, the more likely you are to continue the effort.  Also, short videos are more likely to be shared.

My Two Cents

I think we’ve gotten some terrific answers here. If you’d like to add more, feel free to comment below. And, also, know that these four marketers are all great at what they do. So, use the links above if you want to contact them.


The Marketing of Violence in America

No, this is not an article on gun control. It’s a look at how we spend way too much time and money marketing violence to our children and not nearly enough time or effort marketing consequences.

Are we creating these monsters that shoot up malls, movie theaters and, yes, even schools?

Yes, I’m sad to say. We are all responsible and a big part of it comes down to marketing. We sell violence—all sorts of violence—to kids everyday.

Drop your politics for a second and think about it. I’ll even start you off with some easy examples—NASCAR, NHL, and NFL. What images come to mind when I mention these sports?

Crashes. Fights, Hard, bone-rattling hits.

Bloody fighting between Bruins and Sabres hockey players

Contrast this with the NBA, and what’s the first image that comes to mind? Probably an awesome dunk or a sweet three-pointer with time running out. You don’t see basketball highlighting footage of hard fouls.

What are we doing to boys in our culture?

Bushmaster at with automatic rifle "Consider this your man card"

We make violence sexy. We equate gun size to manhood. Fathers across the country spend hours playing Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Halo and other violent video games with their sons or with their sons nearby.

Borderlands video game scene, cartoon-like

This kind of constant exposure to violence desensitizes many kids to violence and obliterates the moral compass in some as well. Yes, some kids can play these games and turn out fine. Others clearly cannot. Do you know which category your child falls into? You won’t know for sure until he’s older. Are you willing to take that risk?

The average American child will witness 200,000 violent acts on television by age 18.

I would venture to say that number from Nemours KidsHealth keeps rising. Note these points Nemours makes and see why you should be concerned:

Kids may become desensitized to violence and more aggressive. TV violence sometimes begs for imitation because violence is often promoted as a fun and effective way to get what you want. Many violent acts are perpetrated by the “good guys,” whom kids have been taught to admire. Even though kids are taught by their parents that it’s not right to hit, television says it’s OK to bite, hit, or kick if you’re the good guy. This can lead to confusion when kids try to understand the difference between right and wrong. And the “bad guys” on TV aren’t always held responsible or punished for their actions.

Movie trailers are filled with explosions, gunfire and physical violence. Crime shows on television seem to compete to air the most heinous acts and goriest scenes. And these shows are on at all hours of the day. The news channels and programs love violence so much they lead with it and give you as many details as they can. Killers’ photos are plastered on the covers of national magazines and front pages of newspapers and websites.

Parents don’t have as much help as they used to shielding their kids from it. Violence is everywhere. But nowhere is the marketing of consequences.

War: Video Games and Reality

Let’s talk war for a second, as an example.  War-related video games are unbelievably popular. Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield and more repeatedly dominate the best seller list. Everyone loves shooting things up, right?

What would happen if we marketed the consequences?

Imagine if we saw more footage of the real-life injuries the weapons shown in these games produce? See the soldiers bleeding in the battlefields, their brothers frantically trying to get them to safely and tend to the wounds at the same time. We don’t even see the flag-draped caskets being flown into Dover. That’s how averse we are to showing consequences.

Games like Call of Duty and other war-related games advertise on TV with loads of gunfire and explosives. Check out the (relatively tame) Call of Duty Black Ops 2 trailer below. It’s one long string of weapons, gunfire and explosions, with real people inserted and being blown up. They take a casual, humorous approach and then end with “There’s a soldier in all of us.”

Really? That’s not a true depiction of soldiers at all. Let’s look at real soldiers. How does the real military advertise?

The majority of military advertising, across all services, emphasizes honor, strength and service. These guys are charged with the most violent duties around, yet they know that not focusing on that violence is much more powerful. Why don’t the rest of us understand that?

Marketing Consequences

Consequences should be marketed along with and in place of the proliferation of violent images and news. At least in one case, we’re starting to see that.

The NFL and sportscasters who entertain us with replays of the hardest tackles have been talking more and more about concussions. It’s still not enough.

The NFL and NHL should advertise much more with highlights of excellent plays. We do love those just as much, but we’ve been trained to respond to the violence. We’ll enjoy what they give us, as long as what they give us is entertaining enough.

As human beings, we’re highly impressionable. Everything we see and hear, everything we take in—whether we realize it or not—affects who we are and how we act as human beings.

The gun lobby, starting with the NRA, should lead the way setting a better example and calling for common sense changes that bolster their reputation and make us all safer. Your kids are listening to you and the way you talk about guns. Most people who own guns are law-abiding citizens and will never use their gun on another person. Market that!

Video game manufacturers should boost marketing of their kid-friendly games—look at the success and excitement around Just Dance and before that Guitar Hero. And they should take a hard look at how they market the “war” games and get creative—and more responsible.

News programs and channels should focus less on sensationalism and market real news more, stop glorifying killers and focus on the victims. Look at People Magazine’s __ December 31st issue. They did a fantastic and moving tribute to the ones who died at Sandy Hook. Something we’re not used to seeing. They spent many more words and pages on the victims than the killer.

Sports channels and leagues should promote the talent, the moves and scores that make use jump up and cheer. Major League Baseball should follow the NBA’s example and eject or suspend any player who comes off the bench to join a fight.

Our Responsibilities

Parents need to pay more attention to what their kids are seeing every day on TV and online and provide that balance. And the television industry and computer world need to give parents more tools to set protective limits.

Maybe I should’ve mentioned this before, but I love football and enjoy the hard hits—the clean ones, anyway. I find the crashes in NASCAR strangely spectacular and you will often catch me watching ultimate fighting—a brutal, bloody sport.

I’m not saying outlaw these things. What I am saying is we all need to be much more responsible in how we sell them. Violence is too easy and has become too abundant. Stop appealing to the base levels of society and let’s appeal more to civility and humanity. Take time and be more creative in figuring out how to appeal to different audiences in better ways.

And remember, kids everywhere are watching. As adults, by default, we lead by example. Let’s set a good one that we’d be proud of having the next generation follow.

Email Marketing: Don’t Flush This Opportunity Away

The problem with online shopping and online contests is you inevitably end up on yet another email list. Many people solve this problem by setting up an email account specifically for these instances, which they pay very little attention to. That’s a problem for marketers.

So how can businesses make sure their emails are actually seen and read?

Make them useful.

Horizon Services—a plumbing, heating and air conditioning company—sets a terrific example. I don’t even own a home, yet I still subscribe to their emails.

Let me repeat that—I currently have no use for their services, but I still read their emails.

See How Horizon Does It Right

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, you probably know about Horizon. They sponsor Phillies games and advertise on Septa buses. Their orange-wrapped buses are hard to miss!

Bus wrapped in orange Horizon advertising

I got on their email list because I entered a contest to win Phillies tickets earlier this year. I had planned on unsubscribing, but now I see no need to.

Why? They demonstrate the triad of traits important for good email marketing:

  1. Purpose
  2. Timing
  3. Rewards

Purpose: Help is on the Horizon

This is ultimately why I keep reading their emails—they are useful. Their emails don’t just sell their services. They’re informative, filled with fantastic tips for maintaining your home.

Note the subject line. It’s not, “Save $67.50 on any plumbing service.” It’s “Discover tips to keep your drains and pipes flowing.” Which are you more likely to open?

Top half of Horizon email

Bottom half of Horizon email

When you click on the link, you’re sent to their “Comfort Zone” blog that has a ton of tips you can use.

No, I don’t own a home yet, but I do like to take care of what I can in my rented home on my own—especially the minor things that go wrong. And I appreciate that this company is taking time to educate me on that.

Building trust like that is how customers remember you and recommend you. I’m not even a customer of theirs, but I am likely to send them business.

Timing: Not Pushy, Not Even Frequent

This is why I haven’t unsubscribed from Horizon’s emails. Now that holiday season is upon us, I get emails everyday from the same merchants—sometimes twice a day. That’s crazy and unnecessary. And it’s a good way to get your customers to unsubscribe.

Horizon shows up in my box a one or two times a month. Very unobtrusive, yet often enough that I remember they’re there.

Rewards: Discounts for Certain Services

I personally don’t need these discounts (as a non-homeowner), but my friends and family might need them, so I keep an eye on what Horizon is advertising. And, if something did go wrong in my home, I could offer my landlord the coupon too.

What’s even better is I know they do good work. My parents had a hot water heater start to go and Horizon came out in a flash. A new hot water heater was installed without the normal mess to clean up when a hot water heater unexpectedly goes and empties out all over the place.

The service man they sent was friendly, helpful and treated my parents like people in need of help, not just people to sell to. So, really, their emails fit very much with their brand.

Yes, they’re in business to sell you services. But they’re also a company you can rely on to help. If only other companies would follow their lead.

Movember, Moustaches and Mates

Movember photo: Changing the face of men's health

What’s so special about a bunch of guys growing moustaches? Let me tell you.

I’ve heard about Movember the past few years, but I haven’t paid much attention to it. But the buzz seems to be getting louder this year, so I looked into it.

If you haven’t heard about Movember, it’s a fundraising movement in which men grow moustaches for the 30 days of November to help “change the face of men’s health.” It began in Australia with about 30 people participating in 2003 and last year had more than 850,000 men who raised over $125 million in 2011.

Gotta say, for something that seems so silly, the Movember movement pulls in some serious results. Watch this video to see the impact for yourself:

Having worked in the health care industry for many years, I can tell you it’s difficult to get men to get more involved with their own health care. Movember raises awareness and gets men involved in a fun, silly way.

Movember men's health stats from Tom's Shoes website

October is pretty much painted pink with breast cancer awareness events. Even major sports leagues get involved by wearing pink and using pink-colored sports equipment like bats, gloves and cleats.

Why not then devote November to raising awareness of men’s health issues like prostate and testicular cancer? It’s a fantastic idea!

Men around the world are growing their moustaches in this month, some hilariously in vain and some bushy as all get-out. I spotted a bunch of newly grown moustaches in NFL games this past weekend. And even The Office characters participated and talked about it on a recent episode.

Foster’s Beer and Tom’s Shoes are official sponsors. You may have seen Foster’s Philanthropist ad. And Tom’s has awareness videos, Movember t-shirts and certain shoe styles dedicated to raising money for the movement. Check out United We Grow:

This is one movement/event that truly understands its audience—the same audience that likes to grow out facial hair all through playoff season for their favorite sports team. They would not have responded as well to a different colored ribbon.

Like the simplicity of Livestrong’s yellow rubber bracelets, Movember’s moustache-growing fun is pure genius. And, true success is that these men really are talking about and taking care of themselves better.

Check out the Movember website, and while you’re there, feel free to stop by my friend Ryan’s page and help him out. Looks like his moustache is finally filling in.

Holiday Thoughts for Marketers and Consumers

Shoppers surrounding clerk on Black Friday

Black Friday Becomes Black Thursday

The holidays are coming—you know it, I know it. They’re coming fast. You may have already heard the news that Walmart, Target and others are opening at 8 and 9pm Thanksgiving night. Disappointing.

I covered this last year and have not changed my opinion of this practice, so I won’t repeat myself. But really, must consumerism overtake the value of time spent with family and friends?

Marketing for the Holidays

For B2C marketers, this is a busy time of year. If you’re competing for customers, there are a ton of articles out there advising you on social marketing through the holidays.

I recommend you read, “Why Social Media Marketers Should Shelve Holiday Hard-Sell.” See why holiday-themed promotions often perform worse than non-holiday promotions in terms of engagement.

Reduce Your Stress Before the Holidays

So, what am I going to write about today? What you can do now to reduce some of the holiday stress marketers cause.

1. Create a separate email address for all your online shopping.

If you haven’t done this already, now is the time—before you start doing your holiday giving and shopping online. Retailers are about to flood your inbox with holiday promotional emails, making it difficult to find the emails you want and need to see. Make the switch and keep both boxes clean and easy to manage.

2. Unsubscribe from brands whose emails you’ve been deleting regularly.

You do not need to spend any more time on email than you do already. So why not take time now to unsubscribe from all those brands and websites you’re really not paying attention to anymore. You know you’ve been meaning to do it. Why procrastinate any longer?

3. Do as much shopping as you can online…early!

The earlier you can shop, the better. And really, as much as I enjoy shopping in actual stores, holiday shopping online is so much easier. No jammed parking lots with kamikaze drivers vying for that last open spot. Instead of driving all over or walking from store to store, you can simply go online one morning or night (maybe two or three) and get all your shopping done, shipped to you and even gift wrapped.

Yes, you might save some money by waiting, but you save time and sanity by making your shopping convenient for you. Plus, you’ll have plenty of time left to pick out a treat for yourself, volunteer your time for a good cause or spend more time with friends.

You don’t have to fall for the holiday hype. Live the holidays on your own terms. Retailers and marketers seem to be trying to take that away from you. It’s time to take it back.

Good luck! May you have the holiday season of your dreams…instead of your nightmares.

Hey Gap, Mind Your Gap in Social Marketing

It’s time for the Gap to take a good, hard look at their social media marketing efforts. First, the debacle over an “insensitive tweet” during Hurricane Sandy, now a Facebook promotion that stirs up more questions and confusion than goodwill.

Gap Friends promotion on Facebook

Looks good, right? More than 4,300 liked and 202 shared. But click on the link and the problems begin.

Gap Friends promotion page

Notice anything yet? Here’s a sample of the comments left on the Gap Friends Event page.

Facebook posts on Gap Friends Event showing confusion about promotion

Here’s where I think the problem is: Instead of simply posting a promotional offer on their Facebook page, Gap decided to create an event around the promotion–the Gap Friends Event.

Not a bad idea, just not well executed at all. What good is an offer that people don’t know how to redeem?

Now, I’m assuming because it’s an event no coupon is needed, but the problem is I’m ASSUMING. Never leave your customers to assume–that’s where problems happen.

Promotions should be clear, easy to understand and simple to redeem. Lucky for the Gap, one of their customers tracked down some answers:

Customer answer on Gap Facebook page

Your customers shouldn’t have to do work to track down answers, and they certainly shouldn’t be the ones coming to the rescue of your other confused customers.

Plus, if you’re going to set up your sale as a Facebook event, draw more excitement around it. Add special deals or prizes for certain actions customers can take on your page, like posting photos of Gap outfits perhaps.

If you don’t want to make this special effort, then don’t create it as an event. Just call it a sale and post your coupon on your Facebook page. Simple.

Remember, if you’re in charge of creating these promotions, just because it’s clear to you doesn’t mean it’s clear to your customers. Look at it from their perspective, let someone else besides you see it before it posts, and when in doubt, spell it out.

P.S. If you are in charge of social media for Gap, you might want to keep an eye out for a new job. Two strikes in two weeks–not good.

Plan Your Next Event With Inspiration from Philly WordCamp

Back in May, I wrote a blog post for Philly Marketing Labs giving you 5 Reasons to Boost Your Marketing with In-Person Events.

Now, after attending WordCamp Philly, I have some more information for you on how to run a great event. Instead of trying to force my recollections of the event into a list of tips for you, I’ll tell you the three basic things they did right and then give you a host of specifics from the event that will hopefully give you fantastic ideas for your own event.

First, who is “they”? The organizers were Brad Williams and Anthony Bubel, with the help of a group of volunteers who were all excited to be there. Brad attended in a Green Bay Packers jersey and a pink tutu. (I encourage you to read Technically Philly’s recap of WordCamp and see a photo of Brad and learn the reason why he was dressed that way.)

3 Basic Things Philly WordCamp Did Very Well

  1. They had fun and made sure their audience did too.
  2. They thought of their audience every step of the way.
  3. They offered great content.

The Details: What Made This a Terrific Event

Philly WordCamp website

Before the Event

Website – WordCamp is an event about WordPress, so, obviously, there was a website set up for the event. Check it out for yourself. Notice how nice and easy it is to find the “Register” button. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that not be the case.

Emails – The day before WordCamp began, we attendees received two emails—a “Packing for WordCamp” list and parking information. Plus, the organizers listed ways we could contact them with questions—through Twitter or email. Perfect! Just as I was thinking, “Hmm, what should I bring tomorrow,” the answer arrived in my inbox. If only life ran that well.

Price – The price of this event could not be beat. I paid $20 for an all-day event jammed full of useful information. And, guess what? I received a fun t-shirt with that as well.

During the Event

I walked in Alter Hall at Temple University having never been there before. As soon as I walked in, it was obvious where to go. I was greeted by a table full of volunteers who gave me my badge and directions for the day in a snap. And then, I was off to a delicious breakfast bar, which alone was worth at least half of the $20 admission price.

WordCamp badge

Because we were issued a name badge that doubled as a nice little booklet containing a wifi password, a map to all the rooms and a list of all the sessions, I felt very comfortable that I had all I needed.

The day kicked off with official open remarks, which included a damn good WordPress rap. That’s right, I said rap. We hadn’t even hit session one and everybody was already engaged.

There were four different tracks you could follow through the day:

  • User
  • Power User
  • Developer
  • Designer

No restrictions though. You could go to any session you wanted, no matter what track you chose. We were told before the sessions that if we weren’t thrilled with the content or had thought the session would be a bit different, we could get up and go into any other session. Because we had a badge full of details on what sessions were going on when, this was easy to do.

Cat in the Hat presenting at WordCamp, photo from Technically Philly

Presenters – In the sessions, the presenters were dressed in Halloween costumes (and had a chance to win an iPad for coming in costume). Lisa Sabin-Wilson, whom you might know as the author of WordPress for Dummies, dressed as the Cat in the Hat (photo and caption above borrowed from Technically Philly), and…wait for it…gave her presentation, “Oh, the Themes You’ll Do,” in a Seuss-like rhyme! Oh, how I wish that session I didn’t miss!

My friend, Liam Dempsey, dressed as Dr. Watson (of Sherlock Holmes fame) and printed up business cards from his character. You can see how committed he was to his character—even at lunch in a local pub—from this photo I stole from his website:

Liam Dempsey raising a pint of beer while dressed as Dr. Watson

Swing by his website and check out his 10 People I Met or Got to Know Better at WordCamp Philly.

On top of all this goodness so far, there was even a Happiness Bar (no, don’t let your mind drift to the gutter), where anyone could go to ask questions of any presenter on any WordPress topic and get help that fit their own personal needs—WordPress-related needs, of course.

After the Event

Saturday night, all attendees were invited to celebrate at a local bar. I hear it was a great night. Unfortunately, I could only stay through lunch. But I can say that even as a newbie to the whole WordPress scene, I really wish I could’ve stayed. The group was so welcoming and so much fun, I enjoyed myself and can’t wait for next year’s.

Sunday, for “Dev Day,” Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress showed up. That shows the quality of Philly WordCamp right there—that the founder of WordPress took time to pop in and talk with everyone. Totally unadvertised and, it seemed, at least mostly unplanned. If you were on Twitter that day, you may have seen the excitement around his surprise appearance. Classy, for sure.

Also, one last fantastic thing about this event was that later that week, most of the presentations were posted on the Philly WordCamp website. Now I (and you) can check out the presentations I didn’t get to see.

Hopefully, by now, you see how great of an event this was and how fabulous your own next event can be. Learn from the best and the worst of what you see around you. Put on an event you would want to pay to attend.

I hope you are already brimming with ideas that spring off of the creativity shown by Philly WordCamp. Good luck!

Sign on front yard saying Vote 2012

Misinformation Age: Marketing’s Great…Just Not in Our Elections

Sign on front yard saying Vote 2012

We’re doing it all wrong. Getting elected has become all about marketing. And each season, there is less and less truth in this sort of advertising. It’s time to take the “campaign” out of politics.

Being President—being any elected official in government—is serious business. In this Internet age, there’s no excuse for why we continue to dump billions of dollars into the election campaign waste can.

To decide who should hold the most important office in our nation, we need substantive information, not marketing slogans, pretty posters and propaganda. We could absolutely get rid of money in politics and draw more genuine public servants to offices of all sorts—national, state and local.

Marketing has its place in business, where companies of all sizes want to sell us something. But I don’t want someone to “sell” me on who should be president. Do you?

I want substance. I want facts. I want an easy way to find the truth about whom I’m voting for, and political advertising surely won’t give me that.

An Online Solution

Imagine instead that we have a website for presidential candidates that’s filled with bios, voting records, tax records, issue statements and, heck, even birth certificates, if you insist.

We could have debates, town halls and Q&As, on TV, online and in person—with smart moderators who ask important and relevant questions to both candidates, not always in debate format, with no questions reviewed beforehand. Heck, let’s give them pop quizzes and put them on Quora.

Think of the substance and wealth of useful information and insights we’d have to make our decisions.

The amount of BS we’d have to wade through would require mere tiptoes instead of full-fledged wading boots, because we’d eliminate the propaganda and the pundits and the propagandizing pundits!

Not So Friendly Skies

A coworker of mine recently likened being president to being a pilot—the person we elect should see the office as a responsibility to deliver us all safely to where we want to go.

We, the voting public, have a responsibility in return—to push aside the marketing BS and seek out untainted information that tells the truth on each candidate’s character, views and intended policies. But with all the marketing crap out there, it can be hard to discern what’s really true.

Too often, in our current system, we jump on a plane just because it’s red or blue and the pretty pamphlets told us exactly what we wanted to hear. Then we find out the pilot we’ve chosen doesn’t really care that our lives are in their hands, and he’s going where he wants to go whether we like it or not. And if the plane encounters turbulence and goes down, he and his copilot are the only ones with parachutes.

Aren’t you sick of this?

The Solution Is Staring Us in the Face

National, state and local websites can house the facts we need each election season—for all candidates. We can make voting easier for everyone—even those who are not online. It’s time. It’s past time.

With technology where it is today, we can bring elections into this so-called Information Age and say good riddance to the political misinformation age.

Marketing’s great—it can be creative, inspiring, and fun. And some political ads are very well done…but that’s how they get you. Because once you buy the marketing, you don’t even realize you don’t have the truth.

Many people suffered and died to give us all the right to vote. We owe them a system based on truth.

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This year, you can go to FactCheck.org to find out what messages are true and which are not.