Archive for December, 2009

You Never Know Who’s Reading

December 22, 2009
Readers give blogger ride of a lifetime

Fat Cyclist on the ride of his life. Photo by Glenn Kasin

These days it’s not unusual to get a high-level response to a blog post, e-mail or comment you make in your Facebook status. While the storyline itself is becoming commonplace, sometimes when it happens it’s an exceptional story.

Like what happened to recreational cyclist/IT product manager/blogger Fat Cyclist . He’s usually called Fatty, but in the name of professionalism I will use his real name, Elden.

In 2007, the blogger’s wife Susan was diagnosed (again) with breast cancer. Rather than abandon his blog, he used it to chronicle and share his family’s painful battle and to raise money to fund cancer research.

Susan died in August 2009 and he credits her for turning his blog from bike jokes into a cancer-fighting powerhouse. And that it is.

On December 3, 2009, on a whim, Elden posted a resume cover letter  to Johan Bruyneel, the manager of Lance Armstrong’s newly formed professional cycling team, Team RadioShack. He hilariously outlined his qualifications for becoming a professional cyclist.

 Within 24 hours of the post, Johan had:

  1. read the letter.
  2. asked his Facebook followers if he should give him a shot.
  3. extended Elden the opportunity to ride with Team RadioShack for a day provided he could meet two fundraising goals.

With his readers’ help, Elden reached both goals within 24 hours of announcing the contest on his blog on December 6.

So, on December 7, Johan upped the ante. If Elden could raise $100,000 he’d throw in a trip for two from Trek Travel to the finish of the 2010 Tour de France. Elden’s supporters propelled him past the new goal again less than 24 hours later. In less than three days, “Team Fatty” generated more than $135,000 for Livestrong and World Bicycle Relief.

Elden rode with Lance, Levi and rest of the team the weekend of December 11 while donors reaped the HUGE rewards Elden gave away to further the cause: the autographed team Trek Madone bike, a custom Fat Cyclist Gary Fisher bike and the Tour de France weekend. Here’s his video recap  of the experience.

Fully aware of all that Elden had simply given away to his blog readers, Johan and the team gave him his own Trek Madone and a trip to the Tour of California for his family complete with a ride in the team car.

For the past few years, Elden openly shared the painful realities and raw emotions of his family’s fight with cancer. While many readers did have hopes of winning the Madone bike, I believe most wanted to give him a small slice of happiness in one of the most painful years of his life.

Elden’s blog post set the wheels in motion, but his loyal, engaged readers got him to the finish. Would your blog’s readers do the same for you?

Retail healthcare.

December 17, 2009

Based on the positive review posted by a friend on Facebook, I decided to try the services of a CVS Minute Clinic yesterday when I came down with what I knew to be a bad sinus infection. Up to this point, I had always gone to my primary care physician for any illness. I knew these retail friendly clinics were part of a growing trend and were expanding in pharmacies like Walgreen’s, Kerr Drug and the pinnacle of retail environments, Walmart. Healthcare consumers seem to like the retail approach when it comes to comfort and convenience.

I want to be clear; I really like my primary care physician. I’ve referred numerous friends and colleagues to his practice. But in this case—when I knew exactly what I had and exactly what I needed—I wanted a more convenient option. I pulled up the nearest Minute Clinic online, and printed out the driving directions right from the CVS site. When I arrived, I entered my basic information in a very user-friendly kiosk which informed me I would be seen next. A very friendly nurse practitioner recorded my symptoms , entered some information and performed a few diagnostic tests. Tests proved what I already knew, I had a nasty sinus infection. She told me the antibiotic she was prescribing and why she chose that particular antibiotic and then she asked me where I want to have my prescription filled. I told her I like to pickup prescriptions where I grocery shop. She put in the grocery pharmacy info without once shilling the CVS that we were sitting in. When I asked about the hard copy of the prescription, she informed me all the data had been sent to my pharmacy electronically. I didn’t even have to keep up with a piece of paper now. The entire process took less than 15 minutes.

The whole clinic-within-a- retail environment is about being patient focused. In this case, it’s focusing on my need for convenience for a minor health issue. It will never take the place of my primary care physician as the source that’s focused on my overall health and well-being.  These clinics do offer a valuable option to the healthcare consumer though.

Stay real with social media

December 10, 2009

I’ve noticed a few healthcare organizations that recently jumpstarted aggressive social media programs.  Way to dive in, I thought – until I noticed that their content matched up with other organizations’ posts.  Turns out it’s syndicated content.  It looks and acts like a local voice, but it’s not.

For a small business or hospital, starting a social media program may seem daunting, especially in terms of time to do it well.  If weighed against the prospect of not engaging in social media at all, pre-packaged information wins. 

Or does it? 

How effective is syndicated social media content when consumers crave the real thing: authentic people and experiences they can connect with? 

And if they connect – thinking it’s a local personality or voice they can trust – what happens when customers realize otherwise?

I wish I’d thought of that.

December 7, 2009

Most creative types start every project with the same hopeful thought, “this will be the best work I’ve ever done.” So you dig into your creative briefs and pore over the research. You think, brainstorm and execute. Finally, you step back with great pride and think, “they are going to love this.” You present the work and you are correct. They love the work and everyone is happy. Then, several months later, you thumb through a Communication Arts, Print or some other industry book and you think to yourself, “I wish I’d thought of that.” You look back at the work you just did and you know it could have been better.

Your work is still good. It’s on strategy, very effective, and your client loves it. But, as you look back, you realize at one point you were on the verge of something unique. Then you put your industry-specific hat on and unwittingly watered down a great idea.

Wait. Hold on. Timeout.

You always want to know the nuances of a specific industry in which you are working. It comes with the territory. But most of the time we pull that industry specific hat down over our eyes for one reason: fear. We use specific words and images because we think we have to. We forget that every human brain – whether it belongs to a consumer, creative or client – craves and notices novelty.

Like a lot creative people, I’m guilty of being afraid to develop something that may seem too radical from time to time. But not anymore. I’m more afraid of looking back on a project and thinking, “I wish I’d thought of that.”

People, helping people help people

December 2, 2009

If you want to know what drives successful advertising and marketing campaigns today, think pink. With nearly two million views in its first two weeks, the “Pink Gloves Dance” video is a perfect example of today’s best trends: strategic partnerships, new media and transparent creative.

Medline created their line of pink medical procedure gloves to raise breast cancer awareness. And to aid in the effort, they partnered with a Portland, OR, hospital to create an engaging, authentic and very human video, which they distributed through cost-free new media channels – with phenomenal results.

The video spotlights the vibrant staff of St. Vincent’s Medical Center, while also displaying Medline’s generosity and spirit. It even provided a platform for Jay Sean (whose song is featured) to showcase his socially-conscious side.

Together, the efforts of all three parties are helping further breast cancer research and provide mammograms for under- or uninsured women. And, everyone wins.

Which is exactly why this works.

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