Conference for Positive Marketing – Humanism rising!

Conference for Positive Marketing, Fordham UniversityFordham University’s Center for Positive Marketing put on its 4th Conference for Positive Marketing on March 26.  A great blend of academic and practitioner talks and viewpoints, most of us participating felt refreshed and energized.

For me, I was absolutely thrilled that the humanistic ideas I and others have written about and talked on for a few decades are becoming accepted more widely and by mainstream brands. It also served to frame my own journey in business and research.

Empathy and Experience Design

I got a charge from hearing Stacy Graiko of Millward Brown Firefly talk about a retailer who wanted their customers to leave feeling better than when they walked in, irregardless of whether they bought something. When my mother and I opened a restaurant, City Island Diner, back in 1986, those exact words were the first principle of my business plan – they emerged from listening research I did to figure out what type of restaurant City Islanders wanted that we could create for them.

Cigna’s Christine Chastain and Tim McKnight, VP Global Innovation, talked about empathy, design thinking. and consumer experience.

Their excellent presentation reminded me of how I designed the restaurant from that first principle: the menu was to focus on comfort on familiarity – I described it as “the food you had growing up, but made with the freshest ingredients, to order, and in front of you.” I also banished square edges and right angles to the extent possible, which offered respite from the gridded world most of us live in, where our vision is forced to be straight, forward or back, up or down. This took form in the plates, cups, and saucers – only round or oval, chamfered edges on the tables, round stools, a curved counter, and so on, which let the eye wander. For dinners, every night had a theme that was warmly evocative and alliterative where possible: Meatloaf Mondays, Turkey Tuesdays, Wegetable Wednesdays, Pot Luck Thursdays and Fish Fridays. Many menu item names reflected the nautical heritage of City Island, and several local characters lent their names to desserts. My mother owned the restaurant for 11 years, then sold it to a local family – the “new” owners – who’ve had it for 18 more and counting. Some of the people hired over 25 years ago still work there, as do their kids, sometimes. A number of movies shot scenes in there, such as Solitary Manwith Danny DeVito as the Diner owner who offers his friend Michael Douglas a job. Jerry Seinfeld did an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Ricky Gervais at City Island Diner.

Brand Love, Materialism, and Happiness

Prof. Aaron Ahuvia of the U. Michigan Dearborn Business School gave a talk about brand love, materialism, and happiness. Generally he found that materialism was not related to happiness, but he also found that, paradoxically, people who expressed love for brands were happier. He admitted that he didn’t have an adequate way to explain the findings yet and urged the audience to submit ideas. This was unusual at a conference – so often the ideas presented are so apparently airtight, but very welcome, showing that we have much to learn and can do so collaboratively.

Using Mobile Technology for Good: Mobile Apps, mHealth, and Mindsets

The Conference offered 6 Salons – presentations followed by participant discussion. These were held in 3 sets of two that ran concurrently. I gave one with Dr. Sandy Ng of RMIT (Melbourne Australia) having to do with mobile apps, mHealth, and mindsets. Sandy talked about her research on mobile apps, and I reviewed research by my colleague Howard Moskowitz on reducing hospital re-admission rates. Conversation we stimulated dealt with creating apps that helped people improve their lives, the need for integrated apps, and different ways to think about monetizing apps.

Training Positive Marketers

Dawn Lerman, who heads the Center for Positive Marketing, and Yanan Wang of Bishop’s University led a salon on training positive marketers. Yanan recapped a course she gives on “Happiness Marketing.” She covered a lot of ground. What I found interesting was the emphasis on training marketers to be happier people in order to create products and programs that help people improve their well-being, quality of life, and life satisfaction. Dr. Wang outlined specific frameworks that strengthen marketers’ empathy and understanding. The discussion following was far ranging and very engaging, touching on areas like inner strength, self-knowledge, and how can happiness marketing avoid being seen as a cute fad and become integrated into marketing culture.

Salon Topics

I couldn’t attend every salon, but all the topics were of interest. They were: Gifts, Reciprocity & Obligation: Applications for Positive Marketing; Psychotherapists, Life Coaches & Professional Organizers: Why Consumers Seek Professional Help and How Professionals Improve Consumer Well-being; Overcoming Stereotypes in Multicultural and Global Marketing Strategy; and Purpose Driven Marketing: Achieving Social Change Through Brands and Consumer Advocates

The Digital Metrics Field Guide – Exhibiting at ARF Re:Think March 16 an 17

rethink-4-1060x7951I’m exhibiting at ARF Re:Think 2015: Where Leaders Ignite Growth at the Hilton Hotel on Avenue of the Americas on March 16 and March 17. I’ll have a table opposite registration and look forward to seeing you there.

Many really interesting companies will also be exhibiting and are worth checking out.

The Field Guide ships on April 14. Pre-order your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the finest booksellers in the US and around the world.

“How do you know a person?” Ideas from Outside: Canadian Marketing Association

Ideas from OutsideHoward Moskowitz and I are being interviewed by Mitch Joel on stage at “Ideas from Outside,” a one-day event put on by the Canadian Marketing Association on January 20. The conference focuses on identifying and working with innovative ideas from fields other than marketing, media, and advertising. For those of you who know me, this is near heaven.

Our session topic: how to know a person through mind genomics and cognitive economics and use that to communicate more effectively.

Join me at SAS 2014 Workshop – Insider’s Guide to Social Media Workshop

Please join me in New York at the Sentiment Analysis Symposium Customer Insight Analytics Workshop on March 5 where I will be presenting “The Insider’s Guide to Social Media Measurement”

My morning workshop will explore the world of “humetrics” — the big shift from our industry’s age-old preoccupation with media measurement to understanding people by gauging and interpreting their digital lives. I’ll be sharing my “Digital Metrics Field Guide” to help you recognize data points not merely as impersonal dots on a trend line, percentage changes, or ratios. They are, in fact, personal — capturing what people say, do and feel in real time. Once we view digital metrics as reflecting individuals, they become characters we employ to craft compelling narratives about people and brands that we later share with our colleagues in and outside of our areas. Those narratives fortify brands with a common understanding that increases the potential to act in the best interests of customers and prospects, and to create and execute successful marketing strategies.

The Insider’s Guide to Social Media Measurement will have four sections:

  1. introduction and overview of social media measurement
  2. case studies illustrating the use of social media measures (with audience participation and comments)
  3. hands-on workshop. We will present three typical business scenarios and have the attendees work through them, including developing an analytic strategy, measurement plan, etc.
  4. wrap-up and final Q&A

I will also be joined in presenting the workshop by Vincent Santino, Associate Director of Digital Insights & Analytics at Kaplan Test Prep.

After the workshop, continue to learn from other leaders in the industry, including Amazon, American Express, Huffington Post, IBM and more at the symposium on March 6. To learn more, please visit and use the codeFOAF to save 10% if you register before January 25.