Sunday, November 17, 2013

3D Printing for the Rest of Us

I've been hearing about 3D printing -- alternatively, called additive manufacturing -- but only vaguely understood the capabilities. Essentially, 3D printing makes three dimensional objects from a digital model. A little research turned up a gazillion uses.

What Can You Do With 3D Printing?
Products of 3D printing include footwear, dental and medical devices, replacement kidneys, guns, cars, prosthetics, bones, desserts (yes, you know.. like sweet things you eat after dinner!), works of art, jewelry, clothes, musical instruments, industrial replacements parts, and much more.

Researcher James Craddock attended the two-day 3D Printshow in Paris in late November. He's convinced. "I have no doubt it is going to change the world," he says. "The real revolutionary factor is industrial use."

BusinessNewsDaily contributor Elizabeth Palermo says 3D printing will change small business five ways: empower small scale production, create new price point opportunities, facilitate product development, enable prototyping, and make experimentation affordable.

For photos and see-it-yourself inspiration check out this HuffPost story from November 15.

What's Ahead?
Jeremiah Owyang says, "Just as many people who have published blogs, videos, and pictures have become media companies, we’re now seeing people make physical things and personally become like traditional companies." Owyang suggests 5 ways companies can leverage/get involved in 3D printing now: financial backing, manufacturing, supplying, hosting an online marketplace of designers, printers, products and service providers, or becoming an online service provider.

Want to Get Involved?
Currently, 383 3D Printing Meetup Groups get together in the U.S. If you want to learn more about 3D printing or get involved, check it out.

More Examples for Enthusiasts
Shapeways is a Dutch-founded, New York-based 3D printing marketplace and service company that offers do-it-yourselfers a creative bonanza. Users upload design files, and Shapeways prints the objects for them or others. Users can have objects printed from a variety of materials, including food-safe ceramics. As of June 2012, Shapeways had printed and sold more than one million user-created objects.This backgrounder has details.

Tim Zaman, a Dutch researcher, has apparently recreated detailed paintings with a 3D duplication technique that he has designed. The printer uses images from real paintings to reproduce an exact replica of a painting in every detail, it even produces raised brush strokes. Zaman used an Oce printer that can reproduce large paintings at a resolution of 600ppi (600 pixels per inch). The printer moves back and forth to create textured layers. Don’t expect to recreate famous paintings any time soon, though; your the printer needs the original painting to make a replica.

Cornell University faculty and librarians developed The Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library (K-MODDL), which is an open access, multimedia resource for learning and teaching about kinematics - the geometry of pure motion - and the history and theory of machines.

Need a 3D printer at home? The Cube®, voted MAKE magazine’s “easiest to use” and “most reliable” 3D printer, gets you going straight out of the box. "

"The only 3D printer certified for safe at-home use by adults and children … just plug it in and start, says the description." Reminiscent of Apple's "candy Mac" line of computers, this little Wifi monster comes in five body colors, along with 25 free 3D design files. $1,299.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

2014 Is the Year of the Voice

Is anybody here using Siri or Android voice-recognition capability to text? You’re in good company: Voice activated apps and activities have exploded. Here are some more examples:

Google glass lets wearers take photos and get digital directions with voice commands. Microsoft also is testing eyewear that will do the same.

Google Chome’s has a new voice activated search capability? As Google puts it, “If you can say it, you can search for it” 

Meanwhile, voice activated home automation is turning on lights, locking doors and garages, and activating security systems, home theaters, etc.

Voice-activated systems that let automobile drivers dictate and translate text messages, send email, and update Facebook are on the horizon, too. In fact, more than half of all new cars will integrate some type of voice recognition by 2019, according to the electronics consulting firm IMS Research.

We’ve been waiting for this a long time, folks, and 2014 will be the year the voice screams! Voice activated search, messaging, learning and writing will finally come of age in 2014 … and the world will never be the same.

In fact, according to TrendHunterTech, we already can access 25 voice recognition innovations on everything from watches,clocks  remote controls, appliances, cars, toys, robotic secretaries, nurses and wait staff.

But wait, there’s more. How about voice activated direct mail? It’s here and it’s now. MAILPOW brings sound—voices, lectures, music –, even your own voice—to direct mail. The audience was wowed, when this service was highlighted at DMAW’s “Innovative Formats and Integrated Campaigns” seminar in April this year.

In fact, the next voice you hear – or create – could be a robot. A start up named Guide is working on a way to transform nearly any online article into a video news piece.

Can you hear me now?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Monrovia GETS Content Marketing

Effective content marketing informs and entertains the reader. True. But effective content also bonds the reader to the storyteller and creates an "I really like you" feeling.

 If you don't believe that's possible, check out Monrovia's Facebook page. Lush and colorful, this horticultural giant has created a Facebook presence you simply must look at—or maybe "like it" or, even better, "Pin It" (I found cactus cupcakes I couldn't resist pinning to OurFoodNews).

"Our vision is to unleash the passion for plants that exists in each of us," says the company's tagline. With 35,470 likes, this Facebook page appears to be accomplishing that goal.

And their newsletter ain't bad either.

On August 16, Monrovia's "plant savvy®" newsletter made animals part of their horticultural story. Titled "Dog Days of Summer: Pets in the Garden," the 188-word lead article told readers how to make the yard a friendly place for pets. The content was simple stuff (watch out for toxic products, know which plants are poisonous, etc.) But it was fun to look at and fun to read.

Three shorter articles featured clever titles like "bark up the right tree," "tail-waggin' plants," "positive planting" (pet-friendly plant and flower choices), and "keep 'em, keep 'em out" (hedges).

Every marketer knows readers can't resist animal photos and Monrovia hit it out of the garden with this one.

Sign up for Monrovia's newsletter here. This is content marketing at its best. (And, no, I don't work for Monrovia.)

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Early History of Social Media: Back to the Beginning

Nearly six years ago, in October 2007, the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DC), hosted one of the country’s first major conferences on social media. Speaking at the “New Media Marketing Day” were a host of folks who would become social media “stars,” including chair and plenary speaker Geoff Livingston. Joining Geoff were keynoters, Valeria Maltoni and CC Chapman.

Notes from that meeting, which follow, demonstrate the extent to which a little known and less understood communications “practice” would influence – even dominate – marketing in 2013. Many of the notes here seem quaint and outdated! Before you laugh, though, consider how today’s social media will look to us in 2018.

Also, having been given six years to perfect the practice, consider how well developed your own social media efforts today are, or are not. 

We kept hearing about community at New Media Marketing Day [by the way, the term new media itself is rapidly dying among the cognoscenti… old hat and all that, you know … but we digress …].
Jake McKee, social media consultant who blogs at Ant’s Eye View refers to the “collusion of marketing, community, and product design.”
         Geoff Livingston tells direct marketers that “Your job now is to build a community.” Jim Long, an NBC cameraman turned entrepreneur and founder of Verge New Media [], vlogs, blogs, Twitters, and more. Long says, “The value proposition of social media is that it allows us to connect across lines—geographic, time, physical, and social barriers disappear.” Long adds, “Social Media isn’t out-of-the-box branding. It’s agricultural. You plant a seed and watch it grow.”

We also heard a lot about conversation. Actually, the conversation conversation dates back to at least 1999, when the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto noted that, “A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.”
         “So what is this thing called ‘conversation’,” asks NMMD speaker Valeria Maltoni, who’s been blogging for a year at and has written The Age of Conversation. With 900 RSS subscribers, Valeria says, “…Start your own conversation in whichever medium works for your business and personality. Get out there, outside the walls and put your ear to the ground. Direct marketing is definitely about the conversation, about figuring out what the customer needs.” 

… Which brings us to listing. What’s the attitude inherent in “new media?” Valeria Maltoni sums it up as “I’m listening to you,” (which is a little different, maybe from direct marketing, which – historically, anyway – has been more “I’m talking to you.”). Maltoni says that in the new media/social media environment, customers need to be plugged into every level of your organization.

Should your organization start a blog?
Maltoni suggests that organizations begin with an internal blog. Look for the right voice within the organization (hint: it’s probably not the CEO). Strive for energy, authenticity, and a voice that can be taken outside. “Your personality has to come through; your blog has to sound like you,” Maltoni says.
          NMMD speaker, C.C. Chapman [], tags bloggers as the cruise director, not the drill sergeant. “If you’re going to blog, make sure it’s conversational and authentic. I’m totally opposed to somebody ghostwriting blogs … Right now, somebody is talking about something you care about, about your brand. Find out what they’re saying.”
         Afraid what you might hear? Chapman shrugs. “Angry people are better than silent people.” NMMD speaker Stephen Marion, Ogilvy, puts it this way: “Reading blogs exposes your company to venomous attitudes and gives you the chance to resolve problems. You can build greater trust [[in the marketplace] by not running away from the issues. A blog may not mitigate your critics, but you can engender more loyalty from your fans.”
         In late September, the New York Times ran piece titled “Promote Your Business With A Company Blog.” The Times said, “Blogs are gaining more and more traction in the business world. Experts believe the trend will continue, and that companies should at least monitor blogs to gain knowledge about what's being said about their products and services. And if you have the time and inclination to launch your own blog, the result could be increased business visibility, excited audiences, and added revenue.” Added revenue. Hmmm..
Geoff Livingston, blogger extraordinaire, offered the following Seven Principles of Blogging:

  1. Give people control; let people talk.
  2. Be transparent.
  3. Participation is marketing. As soon as you start blogging, you are part of a community.
  4. You’re part of a community when you blog, so marketers need to be generalists.
  5. Get your stakeholders to keep talking to you.
  6. General content regularly.
  7. Use technology and merge it with community, intelligently.

For fast community-building, a number of speakers at NMMD were all atwitter about “Twitter,” the social micro-blog that’s growing in popularity among groups with common interest. Popular with the tween crowd. Twitter lets people passionate about the same thing (direct marketing?) connect seamlessly, quickly, and often. That creates an international digital network that can become very tight, very friendly, very fast.
         CC Chapman is part of the select Twitter crowd interested in social and new media. These some-one thousand are influential folks because most – if not all – blog. That’s a lot of social media flying around and Twitter sets it on fire. “I had a recent experience with an airline and I was very frustrated. I kept thinking, ‘If they mess with me, I am so twittering this.’”
         Still, if anything confused NMMD attendees, it was probably Twitter. The speakers were enthused, while the direct marketers remained confused. Why? WHY Twitter?
         Jim Long—who likens Twitter to a cocktail party—did a live demonstration of Twitter’s reach and later blogged about the experience, writing, “In my presentation, I demonstrated how Twitter can be used and misused as an engagement tool. At one point I called out to all of YOU on Twitter, and asked if you’d say hello to the DMAW session. While waiting for some responses to generate, CC Chapman, in what can almost be described as a movie moment, stopped me and said almost chillingly: ‘Jim.. refresh the page.’ You guys had come through!! There were no less than 80 immediate responses. (thank you!) I think that aptly demonstrated Twitter’s immediate, conversational, attention-directing value. I also pointed out that Team Twitter had  helped shape my presentation in the comments on my blog.”

Really, What’s In It For Us?
Having said all that, many still wonder, “What’s social media to direct marketers?” Jim Long says social media brings multiple audiences, to whom direct marketers can speak simultaneously. “’Closing’ is still reserved for the direct mail appeal and that nifty thing known as the ‘telephone,’” he admits. Well, yes and no and “so far,” that is, because now there’s widgets—those small portable bits of code that can be embedded on blogs, in Facebook and MySpace, on websites—anywhere html code resides. Widgets can elicit donations, show browsers how to participate, direct readers “here,” and otherwise prompt action—which can then (hurray!) be measured!
          Widgets are fun—and there’s plenty of potential for these little entertainment pops to go commercial. Non-profits and political fundraisers (who are always early adopters of technology) have already seen the potential. Many are creating fundraising widgets that play as YouTube videos, logos with an appeal, straight-away “donate here” buttons, and more. NMMD speaker Clinton O’Brien, vice president of business development at Care2, told us to “keep an eye on” If you use widgets or want to use widgets to add interesting stuff to your site, Snipperoo claims to let you collect and use them without hacking code (enough about that here; for more, ask you IT guy or gal).
         Not surprisingly on the Wild Wild Web, widgets also are being used by individuals to raise money for their favorite cause. Check out for a step-by-step how-to case study on how one person purportedly raised $800 for a Cambodian orphan’s college fund. [Editor's note: This link is no longer working. What was a "widget" back then? Do they even exist today?]    
         But how important are widgets, really? Susan Merritt, who leads product development at Yahoo! Personals, says, “Widgets could be flavor of the moment, but the ways that some widgets intersect with structured data is one of the things I find compelling : For one thing, widgets (and microformats) offer the opportunity for users-and small business people, among others--to embed applications and dynamic apps into their pages/sites. If you hang around MySpace, you see videoplayer widgets (think YouTube), slideshow players (RockYou) that have been cut and pasted in by users --and swickis, a eurekster product I worked on--are everywhere. So if you have content or tools, wouldn't you want users to be able to export them? And if you have APIs, don't you want people to build widgets with them--and then distribute those?”

Big Social Networks for Raising Money?
NMMD speaker Trish Taylor Shuman of Care2 noted that, so far, most nonprofits have not had much success in raising significant funds via social networking sites such as and Facebook Causes, launched in June. One notable exception is the American Cancer Society, which raised more than $100,000 in 2007 on virtual-life website Second Life. Similarly, the site quickly raised more than $300,000 in funds for an assortment of charities, within a few months of its January 2007 launch, although benefited greatly from a lot of promotion and financial support from actor Kevin Bacon.
         Overall, results for most group fundraising efforts on social networks are not stellar. While a few of the top organizations on Facebook Causes have done well — a campaign to support breast cancer research and “Save Darfur,” for example — the vast majority of the tens of thousands of participating organizations are what Shuman called the “long tail of Facebook Causes,” about 40% of which appear to be less-than-serious, “fluff” causes (such as one very popular cause called "Save Water, Drink Beer," and another called "Save the Oompa Loompas.")
         Recent research by Peter Dietz, founder of foik [], provides benchmark figures for fundraising at social networking groups like ChipIn, Firstgiving, GiveMeaning, SixDegrees, and JustGive. Dietz has tabulated $44 million raised from peer-to-peer efforts, but figures for number of participants, average donation, and median donation are very small. Dietz notes that “sustained supporter engagement”’ and “network growth by design” are goals that go far beyond donations in the bank.” But Shuman warms that, to date, “It’s a sobering message.” 

p.s. Any links that don't work demonstrate how fast "the new" disappears.

scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Should You Play? These Gamification Statistics Say "Yes!"

Curiously enough -- one year ago, to the day -- I blogged about gamification. Now I revisit the growing influence of this marketing strategy with a compelling infographic from OnlineBusinessDegree. Thank you, Andrew Hunt, for sharing!

Winning at Their Own Game: The Business Benefits of Gamification

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thirsty Marketing: Slurp, Slurp

I've been watching Season 6 of "Mad Men." As fans know (and to boil it down to almost nothing), the show is about the history of advertising (the 50s, 60s, and 70s, so far) as seen though the eyes of copywriters and account pitchmen. The premise that the world can be moved by ground-breaking ad copy may have been true at one time. That time has passed. Here's the deal.

In 2013, consumers really have "heard it all" (about one million to seven million times per year, according to Yankelvich Research). 

No wonder, in this heavy laden content world, consumers both recognize and loathe being talked at and down to.

A case in point: Overuse of the term "community." Look folks, I'm your customer, not a member of your self-anointed community. True, I may love your product design and functionality (iPad) or treasure the incomparably customer-centric way you do business (Amazon). But I'm really just an Amazon enthusiast/fan and an Apple user (Note: Once upon a time, when the Mad Men were young, I used to be part of the Apple community because it was a community ...  but that's another story).

A second case in point: The co-opting of genuine customer service by the telecom industry's la-de-da marketing (or is it their NON-marketing) C-suiters. Have a problem? If you call in, you're sure to get recorded messages like these:
"Please hold; your call is very important to us."
 "A customer service executive will be right with you."
You've got to be kidding me, Comcast. Your customer service "executives" are paid a pittance. The big bucks go to investors and lobbyists who haunt Congress for de-regulation favors. We all know this. Get real .. or we'll get you. Lose your grip on that monopoly and you're done. We will remember.

Consumers Fight Back with Sharing
We've been hearing about "authentic" marketing for quite awhile. It matters ... a lot. But too many folks with something to sell, sell us short. We're getting even .. On message boards and Twitter and Facebook pages and Yelp. And here's an even bigger threat to "fool me twice": the sharing economy. Here, from an article in The Economist, check out what is, perhaps, the most successful peer-to-peer sharing scheme yet.

 "LAST night 40,000 people rented accommodation from a service that offers 250,000 rooms in 30,000 cities in 192 countries. They chose their rooms and paid for everything online. But their beds were provided by private individuals, rather than a hotel chain. Hosts and guests were matched up by Airbnb, a firm based in San Francisco. Since its launch in 2008 more than 4m people have used it—2.5m of them in 2012 alone. It is the most prominent example of a huge new “sharing economy”, in which people rent beds, cars, boats and other assets directly from each other, co-ordinated via the internet."

This! Your house and mine, now competing with one of the most price-aggressive, stable industries in the world: hotels!

It's not quite over yet, though. Here  are a few positives for combating cons and intrusions while retaining the marketing edge and dealing with/cashing in on/exploiting the trend to peer sharing:

1. Do be authentic. It's okay to be funny (Mayhem is) and brilliant copywriting still builds customer goodwill (brought to you by "the most interesting man in the world"). But don't even try to cover up the truth.

2. If you have loyal customers, you already have the makings of your own "shared economy." Group pricing? Hosted information roundtables? Shipping/logistics packages? None of these are brand new, but maybe you have a twist to add. Consider the possibilities.

3. The world is rearranging its parts, which suggests new partnership opportunities. For example, who would have thought that hands-on construction worker types-- or realtors, for that matter -- could so successfully partner with artsy-heartsy interior designers? The Property Brothers, that's who... and they are cashing in.

4. Customers are both voting with their feet and screaming as they head for the exit. Voting and screaming. This could work.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

If Managing Your Online Branding Hurts, SYNQY Could Ease the Pain

SYNQY -- a new start up near San Francisco -- is introducing an innovation designed to help organizations standardize and update the information that current and prospective customers see online.

Chairman and CEO Michael Weissman says SYNQY applies Meta embed code to a subscriber’s “brand assets”—logos, photos, messaging, video, registration forms, donation pages, white papers, slide presentations, articles, brochures, and so on. Thereafter, when an online user clicks on any coded asset, the right intended information pops up.

How It Works
To demonstrate, Weissman points to an Internet user who’s browsing an online fashion magazine that features a red dress sold by a major online retailer. Typically, when the user clicks on such a photo, she’s yanked off the magazine's website and plunked onto a seller's website. Too often, she has trouble getting back to the online magazine again. With SNYQY, wherever she sees the red dress online—either at the magazine’s site or anywhere else—her click pops up consistent information without jumping to a new site.

That’s the buyer’s (and the magazine’s) advantage. But Weissman says the marketer’s advantage is greater. As the CMO responsible for selling that red dress, SYNQY code automatically ensures that the buying experience is going to be the same for every buyer, every time.

Right for You?
Whether SYNQY is right for a given organization depends on how often people search for or buy that organization’s product(s) online. Weissman explains: “A printing company that depends on direct sales, but very little inbound marketing, is less likely to be a SYNQY customer. But an integrated communications firm that does content marketing and creates news stories to drive sales would be an excellent candidate. Large fundraising organizations with networks of partners or advocates would find SYNQY an option in managing their brand assets, as would a franchise company, political campaign, automobile dealership, or any organization with chapters.”

A New Process
Weissman differentiates SYNQY from so-called brand asset management entities that simply store digital materials for distribution. That process depends on human effort, he says—a sales person, chapter or branch manager, dealer, franchise owner, and so on.  By contrast, SYNQY manages and distributes brand assets without human involvement, thereby saving money. “So often, marketers are involved in non-bonus activities like updating content and keeping channels current. But there's no return for these labor-intensive activities. SYNQY can take over that job."

Build It Yourself?
The concept is easy, but building a competing technology would be very difficult and expensive, Weissman adds. “That's why it hasn't been done before. It would take millions of dollars to replicate what SYNQY does and millions more to keep it updated, but using SNYQY software is easy and inexpensive.”

How Much?
SNYQY costs $100 per user per month, which includes one SYNQY embed code. Additional SYNQY embeds cost $100 apiece per year.

Weissman, who has 25 years of high-tech marketing experience, suggests the price is a bargain for marketers who must spend thousands of dollars—or more—updating widespread, disparate Internet content. “Simply turning a static asset into a SYNQY is a 10 to 15 second effort, from start to finish. So, to take a catalog of 10 brand assets and turn them into trackable, manageable code would take less than five minutes and cost $1,000 — very little for most companies.”

What about retrofitting all the brand assets currently floating on the Internet?
“Many of our customers are starting with new assets,” Weissman says. “Eventually, we expect they will retrofit. The other approach is to put an entire product catalog inside a single SYNQY. This gives the best of both worlds.”

Free 30-day trials are available at Click below for a short video.