Revolution of Influence

I've always felt strongly that thoughts and ideas are the great equalizer of brands. No longer do we live in an era where only the largest of companies dictate their degree of influence based on how much money they spend to get in front of more eyeballs with one more 1-way message that's all about them.

The greatest influence can now be in the hands of the most helpful, transparent and personal brands of the world. Are you ready to be one of them? Caliber's Revolution of Influence blog aims to equip you with the strategies, content know-how, tools and trends to find the path that catapults you to newfound success.

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The other day, someone bought 200 shares of me. I was flattered, but would’ve been even more excited had it been real money. Still, the virtual game that measures your influence, Empire Avenue, had shown that in my brief period of time on it, my shares were going up and up. Mind you, I’m not really sure what the algorithm was for this other than the fact that I’d participated in several social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all while doing a blog post.

Hey, driving up your simulated shares is hard work.

Meanwhile, I noticed that my Klout score was similarly going up and up. Normally, I would be very excited by this, except for a few things.

There are people in my industry who I look up to who I can’t imagine having less real “clout” than me yet have less Klout than me. I’ve enjoyed reading Bart Cleveland for years as an AdAge columnist along with his work at McKee Wallwork Cleveland. I’ve admired the work of David Oakley at BooneOakley – frankly, I am looking up at them in a balanced world, not the other way around in a Klout world.
Hanging out in enough discussion forums, from LinkedIn to the AdAge Small Agency Diary blog/forum, I enjoy the generally good discourse that takes place between people. Opposing views can be great for the conversation. But what I can’t stand is when someone takes over the discussion with what can be only described as the equivalent of a filibuster.

I’m talking about the dreaded Comment From Hell.

You know what I’m talking about. The CFH is not a few paragraphs. It’s a 10-paragraph-or-more “look at how intelligent I am compared to everyone else here” comment. And it’s like tossing a grenade into the room. I’m exhausted trying to read the point, whether it’s good or not. Recently in LinkedIn, I had to power my way through a guy’s lengthy diatribe over why he wasn’t convinced on the power of social media. He didn’t think he’d seen enough proof that it worked.
It’s apparent to me that the very fact that some people wondering if journalism is “dead” in light of the decline of newspapers that there’s a whole lot here that’s getting overblown.

3 reasons why journalists still deserve a seat at the table in the era of new media:

1. All of us can’t repost stuff we find on the web at once and call it “news.”
We need people who take that aggregated flow of endless info – some of it useful and some of it not – and give it greater context. They help us decipher how that information fits together in a world where we’re getting a whole lot more information, not less. Some innovators feel that the world is a better place when info is compiled on top of itself in one infinite stream for us to figure out what we want to do with it. I disagree. Info is good, but we could use better ways to organize, compartmentalize and understand that info. Are we really there yet?
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As many of us in Chicagoland who grew up in primarily a Jewel and Dominick’s world, it’s easy for me to have comfort with both of these grocery store brand names. Yet, I’m ready to step outside of that comfort zone thanks to what Trader Joe’s has brought to the table. And I’m not just talking about food.

I’m a big proponent of building the brand from within – not with only terrific products/services, but a culture that is aligned with that brand and in turn results in better customer experiences.

Joe’s nails this.
Today’s post skews a bit toward agency management but team productivity is good for all types of managers to think about.

The other day I was taking a cab from the north side of Chicago to downtown. Usually, there are several different ways you can go to get to your destination. And every time, the cabbie asks, “Which way would you like me to go?” For the passenger, it’s like a game of chance. Why should I have to decide this? Shouldn’t he know which way is fastest? Yet, even when I say, “whichever way you think is quickest,” I invariably can’t help but feel I’ve been taken for a ride in a bad way.
As I write this post, I’m looking outside a window staring at the main battlefront of the Lakeview neighborhood. You see, if Wal-Mart is able to open its proposed Wal-Mart Marketplace grocery store here, I will literally be its neighbor. So as you can imagine, from a personal standpoint, I am not in favor of the potential increase in traffic that could be brought to my doorstep.

However, strategically speaking from a brand standpoint, Wal-Mart doesn’t really belong here either. By virtue of the ground it has already tilled and the kind of customers it has already catered to, it doesn’t belong in Lakeview, Lincoln Park or any city neighborhood. Even a little boutique offshoot of Wal-Mart is still essentially Wal-Mart too. Let’s be real.
For all the praise heaped upon Charlie Sheen for his social media prowess, I think there’s an element that seems to be forgotten about – when his popularity skyrocketed thanks to social media, Charlie forgot what to do when his invited guests got to the party. Namely, he forgot to put actual work and structure into the main event of his show. Yes, Charlie, people gladly paid to have a ticket. But once they got in the door, they weren’t going to be satisfied to just hear you ramble about “tiger blood” and “winning.” You had to have some organizational resemblance of, well, a show.
I can’t lie. The news that Goose Island is selling to Anheuser-Busch InBev for $38.8 million left me feeling as if we Chicagoans had lost a little piece of our own.

I believe my initial reaction was along the lines of “Great. Nice going, you sellouts.” And while I could never pretend to be immune if a giant corporation was to throw millions of dollars in my own face, accepting $38 million felt extremely low for a flagship of craft brewing in Chicago.
Chicago’s Meatloaf Bakery is getting its due in a couple days on the Cooking Channel’s new series, “Food(ography)” on Feb 12 at 6:00 pm. As a creative concept, you’ve got to give this destination credit for taking the cupcake craze and putting their own unique spin on it, packaging a variety of meatloaf flavors into the appearance of cupcakes, pastries and smaller “loafies.”

Hopefully you were lucky enough to order the El Loafo Del Fuego meatloaf this past Super Bowl Sunday. Yes, that's mashed potato on top to represent the "frosting."
Yes, we saw a lot of ads yesterday around the Super Bowl, but none have touched off a firestorm of controversy quite like Chicago-based Groupon’s ads. I’ve re-posted one of them here for your viewing pleasure.


My pure, unvarnished reaction to them wasn’t shock or horror or an immediate rush to say that I would never use Groupon again. You know what I did? I chuckled. My mouth dropped open not because I was put off but because I admired Groupon for having the guts to run ads like this.
I wonder if weary travelers delayed at O’Hare during this record snowstorm will want to put their fist through one of these ads in frustration, but I’ve got to hand it to Clear Channel Outdoor and Mirrus for an unusual innovation: Airport Bathroom Advertising.
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    Coming soon to your favorite public restroom.

“If he was on my team, I’d be looking at him sideways.”
– Asante Samuel

“All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee…I played the whole season on one.”
-Maurice Jones-Drew

“Hey, there is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart.”
-Derrick Brooks

“If I’m on Chicago, Jay Cutler has to wait ’til me and the team shower, get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room!”
–Darnell Dockett
“Hi Mr. Decision-Maker at XYZ Company. This is (your name) at (your company). We’ve been in business since (year) and people love us for our (product/service attribute).”

Click. In case you’re wondering that would be the sound of Mr. Decision-Maker stopping and deleting your voicemail message.

Admittedly, for a long time I sounded kind of like this when I approached marketing decision-makers. Until I realized that they have zero time to talk, they view unsolicited voicemails and e-mails as an intrusion and that’s IF you can get past the gatekeeper secretary.
It’s not a game. It’s The Game. It’s a game so gigantic that dare I say some fans would rather make sure the Bears just beat the Packers on Sunday and whatever happens in the Super Bowl happens. It’s that important.

Yet, rivalries like this are great for other brands too. So many companies get wrapped up in identifying only their own best traits that they forget how to position themselves in relation to those who stand against them.

Here’s the awful truth about rivals:

We need them and they need us.
Good news from the Management Association of Illinois: A new survey says that 52% of Illinois companies plan to hire new workers in 2011 or bring back workers they laid off in 2010. Not only is this encouraging to hear but Illinois also beats the national average here as well.

This leads me to believe that this is a good opportunity for companies in Chicagoland about to hire to think beyond the basics of common benefits as they ready that classified ad or online job posting.
In the age of the Kindle and the iPad, the concept of traditional book stores closing these days is becoming commonplace. I fought this trend in my own mind because as much of a digital person that I am, I enjoy the physical nature of a book. Traditional books speak to my sentimental side too — I can remember my grandparents having a marvelous collection of titles that they had accumulated through the years. As a kid, I didn’t know what most of the contents were, but it spurred the imagination to see so many books lined up high and back-to-back against a wall.

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  • "Dan is not only a person with creative ideas, he is a professional with high intelligence and integrity. He has tremendous energy and technical acumen. Dan is is focused and loves what he does...creating brands and building relationships. He is always willing to offer a helping hand and brings a strong dynamic to any team he is on. I highly recommend Dan to any company that is seeking exposure, growth, financial results and brand development."

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