Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Crown of Splendour

Back when I was a wee boy, well about 15 actually – so I should say back when I knew it all and had an answer for everything – our family travelled to the UK.

We were off to see our extended family after about a 6 year gap since leaving London.

Far out, two paragraphs just to develop character! Anyway, one of the most vivid memories of that trip was meeting my uncle, Eamon.

The thing was Eamon, at the time, was probably hitting late 40’s and what stood out was this awesome mass of silvery grey hair. As soon as I saw it I thought to myself I want one of those!

The Crown of Splendour

Seriously, since 15 years of age I’ve waited patiently to go gray. To sport a head of silver – the crown of glory! In fact a favourite bible verse is: Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. (Proverbs 16:31 NIV)

Now the irony of all this isn’t that, as I’ve entered my 40’s, I’m completely bald – rather I’m yet to see a single gray hair. I thought I’d had enough worry, enough experience to earn maybe a few grays by now but no. Not one. Not even in other regions!

The Era of Anti Aging

In this era of anti aging; botox, facelifts, miracle creams, potions and elixirs – I seem to be one of few who still look forward to my next decade, rather than long for the one (or two) just gone. While others are seeking medical cures for this disease known as aging, well I’m wondering where are my grays.

Sure I could buy some hair dye, fashion myself a gray mane, but it seems like it’s cheating.

The Dying Bunch

Why is it we shun aging so avidly? We avoid displaying our laugh lines! We don’t like to mention our age. Is it our fear of the inevitable? The destination of life that’s common to us all? Or, like me, are you concerned that maybe you’ll get to 50, 60 and still not have a gray to show for yourself.

So needless to say I’ll continue inspecting and rejoice when I’m finally granted my crown of splendour! The gray silvery mane atop the aging head with the increasing laugh lines.

Children & Technology

I guess I shouldn’t be amazed but kids and technology just go hand in hand. 20110626-043510.jpgBy 4, my son just can’t wait to get his hands on my iPhone, navigate his way through to photo accessories, start taking pics with various special designs, without any thought as to what he is doing. No appreciation of the tools, the endless programming, the amazing advances, the history of SLR’s and the fact that creating these sorts of effects, only a decade ago, required significant skill and training. Now, point, click, review, add effect – semi professional 4 year old abstract photography.

20110626-043525.jpgBy seven, well my daughter is an old hand! Taking photos with special effects, whoopie! Now she’s asking can we post this to Facebook. I’m waiting for her to ask about creating her own social profile.

Gen X First Wave

As part of Gen X, we were at the forefront of home pc technology and gaming. So tech comes almost second nature to us – yet to my children, wow there’s never been life without it.

With Twitter, Facebook, iPhone’s, eyetoy’s and more already here what’s the glimpse of gaming, of technology in the future?

Virtual reality has been around for decades, but is really emerging now. When I used to work with Commodore we played with early VR, Amiga’s and more. Running PC shows, I remember then how advanced some of the users were – how much more so today.

Speed of Change

Obviously age is starting to creep in – rather than crave the next wave of technology, I’m finding it a little too expensive to want to keep up … just want my new gadget to be relevant for more than a blink of an eye. The kids however, the faster the better – Dad, kids at school said we should have this or that app! How do they even know!

Brand Stickiness

If you are selling something, whether a product or service, you hope for repeat business. For customers to come time and time again and repurchase … but what makes a brand sticky? What brings a customer back?

An article I wrote recently, Sex Attention – looks at how the music industry sells itself and its artists. The focus was Sex Sells … but is it Selling Us Short?

So much effort is put into the casing, the shell, packaging, the box … so much emphasis on the outer wrapping but does this create brand stickiness? After all, at some point you’re going to open up that box, unwrap the packaging and reveal the product inside.

In this age of advertising overload are we still open to the obvious marketing methods of scantily clad women, glossy packaging, flashing banners, “sale” signs? Or, a little bit like bacteria becoming immune to antibiotics, are we becoming immune to the traditional methods of advertising?

Now for a TV commercial to gain traction it really needs to stand out. I recently caught the Vegemite commercial and thought it was clever, not sure what message it sends about Vegemite, or even if it makes me want to go out and buy it … but it was still pretty good!

Viral Marketing

Then there are the viral marketing campaigns, like Old Spice or John West. The elusive, the desirous video, blog post or marketing blurb that attracts masses of consumers and puts your brand within reach of potential customers everywhere. Funnily enough, came across a fairly under watched video on YouTube, it discusses ideas, offering tips and examples of stuff that’s gone viral – Viral Marketing: Expert Tips, Ads and Examples.

At dLook we are an under recognised brand – we compete with some fairly large ones and have started to consider this whole branding strategy … do we hire a hundred dancers to do an impromptu rendition of Tap Dogs in the Botanic Gardens, or maybe a whole group of performers singing Roxette’s “She’s Got d Look“?

Brands that Stick

But, really underneath the wrapper, the brand, it’s still about the product, the service. What use is it gaining huge traction if you can’t deliver. Like the Christmas tree that sits in the shopping centre, a huge array of seemingly wonderful presents that turn out to be empty boxes.

Creating a brand that is sticky relies on real integrity, delivery, service. In this age of open communication, brand awareness can be attacked in seconds, unless you have brand integrity, brand stickiness, then you are at the mercy of a few vocal dissenters.

Creating a Sticky Brand

For what it’s worth here are a few thoughts on creating a sticky brand …

  • Fix your foundations – you need to sell, cash flow is king – but if you are spending time on marketing make sure you are spending time on your product. Make sure you have a product that scales.
  • Fix your processes – there are only three process flaws; a weak link, a missing link or a broken link. Identify them, prioritise them and start working on them
  • Get the right team – Jim Collins Good to Great talks about getting the right people on the bus. With the right team you can pretty much do anything.

Sticky brands are like sticky hands, you got to keep changing because the stickiness wears out! No advantage is permanent … when you get to a place where you are content, CHANGE EVERYTHING!

Social Transitions

Facebook Social MediaAs I sit pondering the social media landscape, using my iPhone to commune with the world I can’t help but wonder where it’s all heading.

Sure, I’m just some old guy with kids – a dad! What would I know?

But these questions are surfacing as we journey deeper into the online paradigm. Questions like are we gradually losing the ability to talk face to face? Are our children, in a generation or so, going to be quicker forming the written word than verbal? What about the changing vocabulary – like reading the old King James bible or Shakespeare, will words like laughter be lost to lol? Has it already been lost?

Transitional Generation

The X gen are literally the transitional generation. Living through the age of computers and the birth of virtual reality. The pioneers of the home pc and video games machines like Intellivision, Atari and the C64.

We’ve witnessed the increase of online gaming, social networks, we even lived before Google!

The Changing Culture

So where does this lead? When potential sportstars boast proudly of their best score ever on the PS2 via their Facebook page. When budding musicians are more intent mastering a fictitious guitar than learning a real one? When kids feel more secure and confident to discuss their daily woes with their online buddies than school friends.

I am all for progress, I love my iPhone, WiFi, blogging, Facebook … the online world opens opportunities and knowledge virtually impossible to attain previously. BUT where is it heading? Can we maintain the balance?

The modern trends of speed, of connectivity are taking their toll. Fast food is inextricably linked to our need for speed. So too is our ability to create, to imagine – when every available moment is connected to a device when do we get time to ponder?

So is our need for WiFi replacing LiFe?

Sex Attention

Sex sells … but is it selling us short?

We all play different roles in life and one of mine is dad to a seven year old daughter. At this age she is still innocent and currently unaware of the sex driven culture that awaits her. That said, she is already watching music videos, keen to hear the latest pop songs and wanting to fit in with friends and the social norms – I can’t help but wonder where it is all heading.

Mal Feebrey of ONE80TC tweeted to look out for a documentary called DreamWorlds 3. The YouTube link points to the first of seven parts that make up this fascinating insight into the music video culture and more broadly its impact on society.

sex sells

I’d never considered the ramifications of this barrage of images until I recently listened to a podcast series by Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church called New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating. Though introduced as a series for singles the themes apply equally to married couples or those already in a relationship. I would encourage everyone to give it a go.

Another great podcast that addresses this is part 4 of a series by Robert Morris, called The Purity Test.

DreamWorlds 3

The DreamWorlds series starts with a great opening scene from Video Killed the Radio Star, the first music video ever shown by MTV in 1981 (a personal fave when I was growing up).

MTV, Rage and the Saturday morning video shows were all part of my culture, and doubtless part of many others through to today. What I hadn’t appreciated was the influence, the stereotypes and the behavioral attitudes that were being embedded into my psyche.

What started as relatively inane references to music and sex has become so tightly linked that unless they are completely entwined then a female artists music just won’t sell.

Think about it, how many women break into the pop culture without showing off a lithe body and supporting female crew?

Regardless of talent, song writing ability.

Sure there will be exceptions, but isn’t that the point … it’s an exception.

The Fuel of Desire

Another video, War Zone, shows the simple act of walking down the street becomes a dash for survival. That may sound overly dramatic but only if you’re male!

Having been part of the fuel I am slowly watching my daughter enter the fire.

It concerns me that in but a few years my daughter’s wonderful childish character, her whole being, will be reduced to but a few body parts. That I, as a male, have supported this cultural behaviour.

A Cultural Shift

So how do we shift our culture? How do we redefine the rules? How do we raise not only our daughters but our sons to appreciate women for their their whole self not just the external features? That music videos, references to women as hoes, whores and property isn’t acceptable? How do we truly achieve equality?

Women’s suffrage earned women the right to vote and run for office. What movement will earn women the right to respect? The right not to be treated as commodities?

Having traveled so far from the commoditisation of humanity in the last century it pains me to see us so rapidly dehumanising women in such a short space of time.

Architect of a Generation

I came across this poem written many years ago – it was one of my favourites and was written pre children 🙂

Architect of a Generation

(April, 2001)

I was given inspiration
From an unexpected source
The setting of an old wares store
Proved the unlikely resource

A woman spoke to me of children
Of advise given by her mum
Passed to her many years ago
At the birth of her new born son

She proceeded to explain
Though her mum was not profound
That those words offered early
For her life she was bound …

“A child’s not property
A child you cannot own
Although you’ll spend years creating
It more a kind of loan”

“A child’s like a building
Your job is to build the base
They will build the structure
That’s offered to the human race”

So as the architect of a generation
Ensure the supports are sound
For within another thirty years
Their turn will come around.

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The State of the Nation

Every business goes through that time of the year when they assess the state of the nation, the “how are we travelling” question. This question is especially focused coming to the end of the financial year.

20110606-065415.jpgWell, today I happened to be walking through the Strand Arcade (Pitt St Mall) pretty much right in the middle of lunch time … and was greeted by this site. The Strand Arcade, one of the prime retail spaces in Sydney CBD was virtually empty on the ground floor. The second and third levels were empty. Do you think this is affecting retailers? Sure is.

I spoke with Victoria and Albert Antiques and they were one of the few stores with at least browsers in.

It’s rare that during Sydney CBD’s Monday lunch peak it could be so deserted, especially on a day that was sunny … and it’s not just retail. The current downturn is affecting Australia’s wider business economy as well.

In our position as an online business directory we get to chat and pitch to Australian businesses all the time, throughout Australia and across many diverse industries. Pretty much across the board we are witnessing a tightening of the belt.

But I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom, people are beginning to get confidence, looking forward and planning. We’ve seen an upturn in online advertising and a greater awareness of the impact on Internet marketing (as opposed to SEM or PPC … they coined that phrase well didn’t they).

I would, however, encourage businesses to focus on their strengths. Target their online marketing locally and gain a stronghold in their own backyard before venturing out into greener pastures. Check out the article on Google Search by Mande for more.