Archive | June, 2010

Re: The Sugar Cane Machine (Godin)

30 Jun

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. ” – Ghandi

For anyone who doesn’t read Seth Godin’s blog (you should), here is what he posted today:

A small island grows sugar cane. Many people harvest it, and one guy owns the machine that can process the cane and turn it into juice.

Who wins?

The guy with the machine, of course. It gives him leverage, and since he’s the only one, he can pay the pickers whatever he likes–people will either sell it to him or stop picking. No fun being the cane picker. He can also charge whatever he likes to the people who need the cane juice, because without him, there’s no juice. No fun being a baker or cook.

But now, a second machine comes to the island, and then three more. There are five processors.

Who wins?

Certainly not the guy with the first machine. He has competitors for the cane. He can optimize and work on efficiency, but pretty soon he’s going to be in a price war for his raw materials (and a price war for the finished product.) Not so much fun to be the factory owner.

And then! And then one cane processor starts creating a series of collectible containers, starts interacting with his customers and providing them with custom blends, starts offering long-term contracts and benefits to his biggest customers, and yes, even begins to pay his growers more if they’re willing to bring him particularly sweet and organic materials, on time. In short, he becomes a master of the art of processing and marketing cane. He earns permission, he treats different customers differently and he refuses to act like a faceless factory…

Who are you?

-Seth Godin, The sugar cane machine

I want to take a different approach in responding to this.  You see, last semester I was in a Marketing Creativity & Innovation course and for our final project, each group was given a social problem to tackle.  My group was assigned the issue of Fair Trade or rather, the continued practice of unfair trade and exploitation in the third world.

The scope of this type of project was obviously huge, so our professor encouraged us to begin with a high level analysis and then work towards narrowing our scope to something manageable.  This search eventually led our group to the problems with unfairly traded Shea Butter.  To condense a semester’s worth of research, basically the situation is as follows: shea nuts grow in abundance on shea treas that grow in a small region of Western Africa.  The oil from the nuts can be extracted and refined in a time-consuming process that creates shea butter, which is then used in cosmetics and (less publicly but in larger quantities) in the manufacturing process for chocolate.

Shea butter, like the cane juice in Seth’s story, is where the real value is found.  The problem is, because the process is time consuming and labour intensive, and chocolate manufacturers (by far the majority of shea butter users) require large quantities, that third party multinationals step in to buy all the nuts from workers in Western Africa and refine them into butter.

By now you should be reminded of Seth’s story, so let’s draw the parallels:  The African people are both the harvesters and the guy with the first machine – and its not a very efficient machine at that – losing their profits to the second, more efficient machine.  Unfortunately, like the cane pickers, they need to sell even if the prices are very low so that they can gain some value.

So how can this story have a happy ending?  Chocolate manufacturers need to step up like the final cane processor in Seth’s story.  As wielders of significant influence and purveyors of public opinion, they need to take responsibility for their suppliers to ensure that a fair price is paid to African producers.

How do we solve the problem of Fair Trade?  We demand better from our favourite brands.  We make the cost of ignoring the problem or redirecting blame too high to continue ignoring.



Pro Tip#2:

28 Jun

Get your language under control.

Are you using advertising or marketing?  (see below)

Does your brand have consumers or customers?

What are your thoughts on these distinctions?   Are there any others to watch out for?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


Think Marketing, NOT Advertising

27 Jun


Keynote vs Powerpoint

26 Jun

Keynote vs PPT
Presentation applications are the most important item in your productivity suite. After all, this is what you will use to showcase yourself, your company and your brand to potential clients, investors, etc. The choices made for internal use can have an impact on company culture as well. Despite the importance of this decision, many jump straight to Powerpoint, without properly considering their options.

Stand Out

Making a presentation with Keynote makes you stand out. It shows you went the extra mile instead of reaching for the easiest solution. Do you really want to blend in with the crowd? Or would you prefer your boss, co-workers and clients recognize you for being unafraid to take risks, a true individual.

Use Video

Remember when the only option for capturing quality video was to have an expensive, dedicated device the size of Russia? It was either that or the crappy 30 second captures made with your digital camera.

Video has come a long way; nowadays you can record beautiful HD video with compact, inexpensive devices such as the Flip, or even with your iPhone! With a plethora of capture devices, there should be no excuse not to use video whenever you get a chance.

Keynote plays nice with your video files. A really great way to add some polish to a presentation is to use video in the background. Fade out the opacity and place your text or images on top. Go for a minimalist look. The examples below can get you started but use your own creativity as well.


A lot of people avoid animation altogether; why not just chop off a finger? Unfortunately animating slide transitions in Powerpoint is like pulling your hair out – one piece at a time. It’s a real pain. Doing anything or special just isn’t worth the time. In Keynote, it couldn’t be easier! Let’s look at the options:

First of all, you’ve got slide transitions. These include the 3d animations that we all recognize instantly as the hallmark of a Steve Jobs presentation. Think doorway, page flip and cube. A word of caution, however – use these sparingly. Nothing screams amateur like a presentation where every slide uses 3d animation. Use them for effect only when appropriate.

Next, we have build in/outs. Here you’ll find the standard fade, swipe, typewriter, etc. You’ll find these easier to work with in Keynote than in Powerpoint. Open the inspector, select the appropriate tab and you’re off to the races. Click more options if you want to control the timing or order of events.

Finally, magic move. This is a killer feature for Keynote. Put a bunch of objects on a slide; then put the same objects on your next slide. For a transition, select “magic move”. The items will automatically animate to their new position. You can do a lot of slick things with this. Here is the Apple training video, make sure to watch to the very end for some very cool (but professional) effects.

Sure it might be a little extra work, especially the first time, but you’ll get better as you go and it will only make you a more versatile person – more likely to get the client, job, promotion, etc. So go the extra mile and add some WOW to your next presentation.

Standing out? WOWing the client? Now that’s Extraordinary Marketing! Let me know how it goes in the comments.

An update concerning accessibility.  If you’re worried about displaying your Keynote presentation on a PC, export it as a Quicktime movie.  You can click through it like a regular presentation, view it full screen, and run it on any computer whether they have presentation software or not!


This is an old post.  You can find more recent writing at


To Infinity…and Beyond! #toystory3

25 Jun

#toystory is back.Cliche title, I know, but sometimes you just have to.

#toystory3, the first ever promoted trend on Twitter is still going strong, allowing thousands (more like millions?) of fans to chime in with their thoughts. How long will it stay up?

This is a fantastic use of new mediums to allow for increased consumer engagement. Everybody wants their chance in the limelight, and with #toystory3 they get to share their opinion (in 140 characters or less) in front of the world.

Following in Disney/Pixar’s footsteps, Coca Cola garnered 86 MILLION impressions for their purchase after the USA/England game. At a rumored price of “tens of thousands of dollars” (source: mashable) this is an incredible return on investment.

Even if the price does go up, this is a huge chance for marketers to reach and interact with their fans where they hang out.  Even with the considerable buzz this is getting, it probably deserves more.

Better than Facebook Pages

This is bigger than any advertising solutions currently available on Facebook. It allows for true and honest expression. Yes you get some bad, but the authenticity of the positive reactions gives them stopping power.  Somebody tweeting that Toy Story 3 left them in tears holds the same kind of weight as a recommendation from a friend.  Furthermore, with only 10 trending topics, the promoted trend has next to nothing in the form of clutter to break through.  The situation elsewhere is quite different.  Twitter could easily drive up the price for this kind of exclusivity. In essence, what Twitter is providing in their promoted trends is a packaged product that encapsulates the revolution social networking and the Internet have had on communication over the past five years.

Customer Acceptance

Of course the big question will be whether customer’s accept this new type of trend. So far, the majority seem to be embracing it, with plenty of tweets and happy customers.  (of course this is easier when the product is good)  This will be key for Twitter moving forward.  Companies will pay to engage with an eager audience, an apathetic one isn’t worth nearly as much.



25 Jun

Migrating to the most popular blogging tool in the world!

Tried iWeb: fantastic personal service, limited options.  Evolution is in full swing.  It’s WordPress time!

Pro Tip#1: Always recognize your roots.

Update!  OK, had to make some compromises.  Can’t believe basic functionality like CSS editing is behind a paywall but I’ll make do.
Freemium is a great way to build a user base, but inevitably leads to user frustration.  Might write a post to elaborate at some point.

Update2: link is down now, sorry folks.


Hello world!

25 Jun

A modern classic! Can’t blog without one.