Thursday, April 16, 2009

Get out your bikini!

I just returned from a wonderful family trip to Cancun, Mexico. The incredible sun, sand, and turquoise water was so inspiring and beautiful. We were a big group. My husband, daughter (18 mos), brother, sister-in-law, and sister were all on vacation together. What fun!

Last year - or maybe longer ago - my sister-in-law gave me a new bathing suit. She is somewhat of a collector (dozens of suits on hand at all times). This particular one was a green bikini. I thanked her for the gift, and promptly crammed said suit deep in a drawer. 1) it was October in Chicago 2) I had no intention of putting on a 2-piece anytime soon.

I started thinking about that suit, and I packed it on the trip to Mexico. In fact, I realized that I could not recall even one time in my adult life when I had sported a bikini. This was not one of those "tankini" type things that shows 1" of midriff. We're talking the real deal - teeny, by my standards.

As you probably guessed by now, I put that little green thing on in Cancun. I thought - why not? Just because I am neither thin nor tan, and haven't shown my bare belly since giving birth - why should this stop me? And you know what - nothing happened. No one recoiled in horror, fainted, or even pointed! Turns out, everyone must be worried about their own cellulite instead of mine. Neat!

So what on earth does this have to do with marketing, anyway? Well, Dorothy (said the cowardly lion) - sometimes when you are vulnerable, take risks, and show a little of yourself, you get unexpected benefits. I walked a little sexier, felt a bit stronger after wearing that suit. Strange, but true.

Today I talked to a prospective financial services client on the phone for a while. His firm had recently been downgraded by a major ratings agency, and they were on the defensive. Seems like the marketing approach will be "go down to the bomb shelter and wait it out," or something to that effect. So to this guy (and others in his position) I say, "Maybe you ought to whip out that bikini and see what happens?"

And call me when you're ready to show some skin.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chris Brogan's Picnic Etiquette

Just finished reading an excellent article by Chris Brogan about social media marketing, and "bringing wine to the public picnic" we know as Twitter. The picnic analogy is credited to someone at IBM, but Chris does an excellent job of expanding the idea. Read his article.

The reason I'm blogging about it is that the comments at the bottom of that article are VERY interesting! Many people agree, yah yah yah. There's some talk about authenticity in social media - an intriguing topic. But there are a number of comments saying essentially - whoa - don't give away our secrets. "you're handing out the playbook" to non-genuine scammer types... I think this is pretty funny. And frankly, wrong.

Because here's what I learned from my 17-month old daughter. If you pretend to be polite and respectful and interested in another person, you actually are! Especially when I want to yell - QUIT PLAYING WITH THE TOILET SEAT! - and instead I walk over and say "come out of the bathroom please, little one" and guide her out of the room. Then I realize that on the whole, she doesn't yell much either. Which is really really nice.

What I'm saying is that if everyone took Chris Brogan's advice and paid more attention to each other, were polite and interested, and generally kind - we'd have a fantastic Twitter picnic. Plus, all that wine!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Twittering for a cause last night

For those of you who read yesterday's column about entering the room-full-of-millions-of-people called Twitter, this is an interesting continuation of the story.

What if someone you respected walked up to you in that very crowded room and asked you for 10 bucks for charity? This happened to me last night.

On Twitter I've been following Chris Brogan out of Boston. Anyone in social media knows this guy, and he's considered an expert. He has over 10,000 people "following" him, and yesterday happened to be his birthday. Last night Chris sent out an inconspicuous Tweet saying basically, "if you were wondering what to get for my birthday, give $10 at and let's get $1K to this charity in the next few hours" - I thought, cool!

So I went over to the site and gave $10 - then I messaged Chris to say Happy Birthday and cool idea! And then I Tweeted a message to my (much smaller group of) followers saying here's a neat charity - with the link - and I just gave $10.

Does anyone else see the power here?

I was really excited to see the donation "thermometer" go up to $400, then $500, then over $1,000 within about 30 minutes on the site. Awesome.

In an ironic twist, this non-profit is involved in aid and microfinance for Moms in Africa. So that got me thinking about small sums of money that have a big impact. Here's the big idea - and it may not be a new one. What if legitimate charities had a "click to donate a buck" button on Facebook - or something like that? What if you could Paypal one dollar out of your bank account, in a single click - and do good?

I would do it. And I'd tell my friends. I bet there are thousands of people who would.