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If you haven't read the article from Newsweek on 'The Creativity Crisis,'? you should get on it. Go check it out. According to the article and the studies it references, the experts claim that creativity can be learned. So, if humans have the ability to learn to think abstractly, uniquely and creatively, why would they ever choose not to? If you're reading this piece, you're likely a marketer or have something to do with the marketing field. If you had the ability to better at your job, be known as an 'idea person'? and not regurgitate the same old ideas over and over again, doesn't that seem like an enviable proposition? Personally, I consider myself a fairly creative person and have always felt bad for those that dismiss themselves as 'I'm just not creative.'? Like the article states ' I think we all have the foundation to be creative, it's just a question of what you do to build that side of your brain and change your thinking to be more dynamic. To me, thinking is fun. Coming up with ideas is fun. Doing 'creative'? things is fun too. I strongly feel that those that dismiss themselves as 'not creative'? are really missing out on the energy and excitement that comes with having a fertile mind. So if you're one of those dismissers (<-- look, I just made up that word!), you should really give creative thinking a shot. It might take a little work, and it might not come overnight, but what does? Many of the tools and skills we need to be good at our jobs take years to develop ' and creativity is no different. You now have no excuse for a lack of ideas or new thinking. Seriously, have a go at it. I think you and your coworkers will all like the results.
Many brands strive to achieve customer loyalty, but few achieve it. So you would think companies would do anything they could to attract and retain as many customers as possible. Well, at times, brands do things that defy logic. This is one of those tales. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a big fan of Microsoft and open-source platforms. As a result, I have been an avid fan of Microsoft's Zune music player platform for as long as it has existed. I have never owned an iPod, and have lived my entire digital music existence on Windows Mobile OS and as of 2006, Zune OS. My latest MP3 player is the 3rd generation Zune 120GB. I've owned three Zunes and this one has been my favorite so far. It's jam packed with features and has been a very solid device up until this past week. To make a long story short, my Zune died and there is no fixing it. To make matters worse, I could find a myriad of instances on forum sites where other consumers have experienced the same issue with their Zune ' yet there were no posted solutions for fixing it. I didn't believe what I was reading. I thought to myself, 'How could a company as big and profitable as Microsoft possibly turn its back on consumers? The fatal disease my Zune acquired is not a user error, it's a hardware error. Surely they will make things right'?. Well, I am sad to report that Microsoft has seemingly done the impossible ' turned its back on owners of these failed products by offering no apologies, no recognition of their being an issue and no ability to fix the problem at a free or discounted rate. In talking with customer service, I was offered the same two options that all the others had posted about ' pay $160 for a refurbished device or pay $130 for a refurbished and lesser 80GB model. I felt insulted that they actually expected me to pay $160 for a new device and then felt doubly shunned when they actually asked that I consider downgrading my product. What kind of support is that? This is how they are going to reward customers for their loyalty? This is how they are going to make up for known product issues? This doesn't sit well with me. As Director in the Consumer Insights and Planning group, it is my job to make sense of things ' sort out all the details and figure out what brands or consumers are thinking. But this dilemma proves difficult to rationalize. This entry is by no means a jab at Microsoft ' I still love them as much as ever, but what I struggle with is when I see brands create difficulty for themselves when they don't have to. As a result, I encourage all that read this to question their brand's or agency's protocols ' do they make sense for what you are trying to accomplish? Are your practices helping you make inroads with customers and maintain relationships? Does your strategy make sense? If not, it might be time to make some changes before you start heading down the wrong path.
We're not sure if you're aware, but on Tuesday of last week, T-Mobile had another major snafu. This time, it was a 6-hour service outage that was nationwide. Some users had no voice or data service for all 6 hours, some had loss of either data or voice, some lost one or both services for less than 6 hours and some were not affected at all. T-Mobile says it only affected 5% of their customers, but was certainly noticed by every one of their customers (and potential customers) on Twitter. The outage dominated 4 of the 10 trending topics that day and therefore a large percentage of the conversations on Twitter. During all the hullabaloo, customers were trying to figure out what was going on and some major things happened: Both of T-Mobile's telephone support lines were jammed with callers, making the lines stop functioning (customers would try to call, only to have the number become inoperable) Their online customer service crashed due to the amount of people trying to talk to a customer service rep Their entire website crashed intermittently with the amount of traffic received So with no classical means of customer communications, how did they alert these folks, you ask? Twitter. Yes, Twitter. They posted a tweet about the issue and it quickly disseminated through the masses, spreading like wildfire. This is huge deal for social media, particularly in the wireless space. Relying on Twitter to spread the message illustrates several things: T-Mobile has a social media strategy T-Mobile has a strong following on Twitter T-Mobile believes in Twitter enough that it was the medium they used to outreach to consumers Like many other brands on Twitter and other social media channels like Facebook, having a presence in these popular social media channels allows them to leverage these spaces to deliver customer service ' whether it's part of their daily strategy or a 'when all else fails'? tactic. Having a voice on Twitter allowed T-Mobile to inform their customers and helped them put out the firestorm. It will be interesting to see how brands like T-Mobile continue to intermix social media into their repertoires to interact with consumers in times of need. This is surely a sign of things to come.
I read the interwebs. Not just like a few interwebs. I mean, like, a LOT of interwebs. I'm also a huge tech nerd. You would think these unassuming traits would keep me abreast of the lingo-of-the-moment used to describe things like cell phones. Well, no such luck. The term 'smartphone'? has been around for the better part of six years, but there was never a suitable opposing descriptor for wireless devices of lesser ilk. 'Dumbphone'? and 'not a smartphone'? have always been the conversational defaults, and 'featurephone'? has always been the nerdy, industry term. But with marketers and socialites alike, the doggedly unsexy 'featurephone'? just never really caught on. Well, now you get no choice. The industry. The interwebs. They're all conspiring against us. 'Featurephone'? is winning out. With all the hot smartphone gossip out there, comparisons have been made, and they point the finger squarely at featurephones. The verbiage is catching on, and it's time we all started to embrace it. Now - one word or two? That is still up to your fanciful discretion. Have at it.
Will this recession finally remove the 'entitled'? stigma from the Millennial generation? Will they no longer feel that everything is their right and not a privilege? Perchance. Parental and personal lack of funding has removed a lot of the glitz and glam from the mainstays of culture. College students are fighting seasoned workers for entry-level jobs. Thoughts of a 'Super Sweet 16'? or a pimped-out __________ are now filled with realities of dollar-menu delights and settling for stock. This generation has very much been in the trenches of this economic crunch and are beginning to see what real-life can bring. The blissful economic times of years past brought fanciful dreaming that lead to the sense of entitlement that plagues this generation. Well, that's gone now and here to fill the void are bounced checks and layoffs. Welcome to the real world, kids. Honey, get the camera'?¦
If you're not aware of these new technologies, you should be. They will take over your life sooner or later. 14. OLED ' it stands for Organic LED (Light Emitting Diode). These carbon-based LED systems have more contrast ratio than you can shake a stick at. They are thinner, lighter and kick the butt of even the best TVs on the market today. A 32-incher in the future will weigh about 11 pounds and be about 8mm thick. 15. Android ' not the eat-your-face kind of Android ' Google Android. It's a new operating system for cell phones. With a rumored 15 releases across multiple carriers by the time people starting ho-ho-ho'ing, there will surely be one coming to a store near you. 16. Windows 7 ' Vista has gone the way of the mastodon in favor of its newer, less fancifully named successor, Windows 7. The new operating system ships out in October 2009 and promises everything Vista wasn't. 17. Vimeo.com ' this isn't that new, but it's a high-definition-only alternative to YouTube. With high quality video and artful influence, it gives a different perspective on user-generated video. Inane camera-phone videos of people talking to their cat need not apply. 18. Boxee ' it's part media aggregator and part social networking. Watch TV, listen to music, share stuff with friends ' all for free. It's still in test mode, but this software shows a lot of promise for the future. Look for lots of headlines of this one in the future.
Fact: Humans need to feel emotionally fulfilled. It's a part of our genetic makeup. Whether or not they know it, many consumers exert this need through social media. Making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, seeing pics from your friend's brother's roommate's party last Saturday ' it allows humans to feel interconnected, loved and part of emotionally beneficial relationships ' however shallow they may be manifested. Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and the like ar