Insight RoundUp: Feb 27

Gmail Outage: Need More to Derail Their Train

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writerinsight_roudup_2_23_headline.jpg

What Happened

This week we saw quite a range of emotion from Gmail users. When the lights went out at the mail service (2/24), some users panicked, others said, Holiday, while some didn’t even notice. No matter what your response to Gmail’s outage, there exists a fundamental question: What are the implications of the outage?

What Does it Mean?

As we saw this past week, Google is not infallible (though many of us think so). It had, what many are calling, a hiccup. The Gmail servers went black. Does this tarnish the future of cloud computing for Google? The “what ifs” are frightening if the cloud one day evaporated and all personal information and software vanished.

What if Gmail’s hiccup caused the deletion of several accounts? Would Google’s cult-like following migrate to another provider? We think that users would cut them some slack. Given the little criticism of the outage, Google’s mission of organizing the worlds information is still intact. Why?

Still the Gold Standard

Google is the gold standard of the tech and every other industry. It has built a strong brand equity. It has such a strong following with nearly unrivaled consumer loyalty, an outage is just a little, benign blip on the radar. Google has made a handful of questionable moves (copyright infringement, invasion of privacy (Gmail, Maps)) but in every case has come out on top. Though there have been many controversial moves by the search giant, there is an entrenched cult-like user-base to the brand.

The Take-Away

So how did Google develop such a steadfast consumer-base? From the get-go, they laid a solid foundation of delivering what users wanted in a transparent and straightforward manner. And built upon that foundation is innovation, forward-thinking, accessibility and resourcefulness. The benefit of a loyal user base that is emotionally attached to your brand? When you make a mistake, your customers will stay on your side and show patience as you work through challenges.

 

Social Bookmarking: A Pulse on Society?

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Mainstream media should have a pulse on what’s most important in society. The front page of the New York Times  (NYT) should be a slice of general society’s interest for that day.  What about social bookmarking sites? Since readers pick their favorites to make their own front page, social bookmarking sites should reflect the interests of the community.

Does mainstream media, like the NYT, parallel those interests of social media? Yes and no. Madoff making away with $50 billion makes the front page of Digg and the NYT. True, there’s a lot of parallels with social media  and mainstream media, but you will never see, “Identifying yourself as a lesbian gets you banned on Xbox Live” on the front page of the New York Times.

In a world where the news cycle is shorter than your drive to work, the NYT does a surprisingly good job keeping up. Social bookmarking sites are constantly updated by millions of users every day. It’s like strapping news to a rocket and blasting off every 30 minutes. While the NYT is a top source for bookmarking sites, we can see the emergence of an entirely different, new, alternative media. YouTube, The Huffington Post, Artstechnica are some of the alternative media ahead of the curve–receiving the torch passed on from traditional media.

Back to the post title question: Are social bookmarking sites a pulse on societal trends? Our hypothesis was, yes. Let’s focus on one of Web 2.0’s most popular social bookmarking sites, Digg.  To test this theory, we took the top dugg topics on Digg and plugged the top NYT topics into Google Trends. Were we right? Yes and no. The top dugg topics were shifted versus the NYT.  Here is what we found found:

Top Dugg Topics in the Past 365 Days

topduggtopicsondigg.png

Source: di66.net

These top four topics give us a snapshot of general interests of Digg users–insight into their personality as a whole.

Top New York Times Topics on the Web

[singlepic id=76 w=520 h=440 float=]

Source: Google Trends

Looking at general Internet trends, we considered the main topics on the New York times and found there to be much more of an interest in sports and business, which didn’t hit the radar on Digg.

If you believe that social media is a forerunner on trends, then we would be bullish on science, technology, and politics as key interests of the rising generation.  And while sports and business have a lower profile on Digg, we would have to extend our analysis before declaring a Bear call.  Our research is promising for alternative media sources, like the Huffington Post, Artstechnica etc. The question is, how quickly are we migrating towards the heirarchy of the new Digg world?

Where Do We Go From Here?

As print fades more into the background, online media is taking its place in the limelight. Readers will still need the expertise of journalists, but the media distribution will be done by Internet users. Right now, social bookmarking sites still have the coveted “alternative” image. But that’s quickly dissolving, as it is adopted by a more mainstream audience. Though you will never see “Inside the inboxes of 15 fictional villains” on the front page of the LA Times, mainstream media clings to an authoritative presence in social media.  Will a time come when alternative media is the earpiece for Internet users and traditional media is a memento from the era of ink and paper?

Check in for an update in 2015.

The Art of Motivation

by David Capece, Managing Partner

In Super Bowl 42, the New York Giants were motivated to deny the New England Patriots their perfect season.  On paper the Patriots were the better team.  But on the field, the Giants rose to the occasion to deliver an astounding 17 – 14 victory.  To win the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of sports, players enthusiastically give it their all.  We’d love to harness that passion in the office, but the daily work routine doesn’t always compare to playing in the Super Bowl.

Our team has experienced and observed many motivational styles and we’ve uncovered some insights.  Before we get to the A+ material, let’s take a look at a motivational approach that we don’t endorse.

No surprise, our major offendor is Bobby Knight, who goes one step too far with an angry tirade full of explitives (this YouTube clip is rated R and for mature audiences only).  While a tirade may get attention and yield short-run results, we don’t believe that this is a sustainable approach to motivate a team.  After a while, the yelling and anger will be tuned out.

Motivating others can be complex.    Everyone responds differently so you’ll need to really understand your audience and customize your approach.  Do you lead with encouragement, empowerment, or human connection?  Or is it strictly about the money?  Studies have shown that managers overestimate the importance of money and that in fact, money alone isn’t the primary motivator.

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Employees want to be part of a real team that is striving to achieve exciting goals.  As you rally around clear goals, give each team member a meaningful role.  Google takes this one step further by empowering small decentralized teams to freely pursue an agenda that is personally fulfilling and contributes to the company’s success.  This challenges each member to stretch how they can contribute, and to add their voice into the final outcome.

This idea of sharing your personal voice goes hand-in-hand with the importance of storytelling.  Take a look at this Stanford graduation speech from Steve Jobs, who ironically never graduated from college.  Jobs makes an emotional connection with audience, sharing his shortcomings, weaving through stories, and leaving a lasting impression on his audience.  As you listen to this speech it doesn’t even appear that Jobs is trying to be motivational, and it is this conversational, storytelling tone that is so effective.

Beyond storytelling, people like to pursue ambitious and groundbreaking projects.  So let them know what you’re up to and let them know about the challenges.  Don’t be afraid of failure.  Take a look at two advertising approaches that deal with motivation, failure, and success (one by Nike and another by Adidas).  Nike features Michael Jordan talking about failure.  “I’ve failed over and over again in my life…and that is why I succeed.”  Similarly, Adidas’ Impossible is Nothing campaign features David Beckham overcoming challenges.  “You will go through tough times.  It’s about coming through them.”  These spots show that failure is ok in the face of challenges.  We must use failures as the building blocks to success.

In today’s society, there is a growing trend that crisis equals opportunity.  If you haven’t heard the story of Kevin Carroll and his red ball, this YouTube clip is worth a look.  Recognizing and confronting challenges can be a great way to grow stronger and achieve more.  When you successfully reach milestones, have some fun and celebrate accomplishments.  You’d be surprised at how you can positively reinforce desired results.

Death of the Digg Salesman

A Lesson in Bookmarking Etiquette and Boosting Your Digg Profile

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writerdigg_salesman_headline.jpg

To shed light on ways to use social bookmarking sites for your business, let us illustrate:

Now, how would you feel if an salesmen moved in next door? Knocking on your door five or six times a day trying to sell you the latest and greatest shoe polisher or “genuine” Italian leather belts? You’d probably want to key their car. Had your neighbor become friends and he just mentioned a nice new belt he got for Christmas, you might believe him and consider getting one yourself.

This salesman neighbor is an illustration of social bookmarking sites. If you become that salesmen neighbor, you’re going to be flagged as spam and get the boot. There are ways that you can contribute to the community, build friendships with users while promoting your business. Think of your business moving to a neighborhood.

Let’s focus on Web 2.0’s darling, Digg…

1% chance. That is the likelihood of you landing on the front page of Digg. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet to land your submission on the front page of Digg. Sorry. But there are ways you can boost your chances of making that top ten… getting over 100 Diggs… the Holy Grail for Diggers.

We’ve done our research and compiled a list that might give you some business marketing insight for your company.

Network
You have to remember Digg is a community. Becoming a member of that community, being a part of the conversation is key to networking and creating brand awareness.

[singlepic id=69 w=65 h=58 float=left]Your business has a personality. Does that personality like quirky stories about the 10 best science tattoos or is of more formal and professional–preferring to Digg the latest developments in the financial sector. Digg your network of fans and gear you Diggs and submissions towards stories your brand, not necessarily you, think is interesting.

[singlepic id=68 w=65 h=58 float=left]Spam. There is nothing more that will have diggers grabbing their torches and pitchforks more than spam. You can Digg your own blog posts. That’s a part of your brand, but do not send shout outs exclusively about your most recent blog posts.

Honesty

Let’s take a lesson from baseball for a minute. Steroids killed the careers of many of baseballs shining stars. They were lying to fans about why they are the “shining stars.” Same goes for bookmarking sites.

[singlepic id=69 w=65 h=58 float=left]Be transparent. The last thing you want to do is be deceptive. There is a middle ground between salesy and dishonesty. If you’re a company, what is your name? Maybe “Ford” is a little over the top direct. What about “AutoFan?” So now you’re not tied to the brand name, but still can contribute your knowledge of Ford.

[singlepic id=68 w=65 h=58 float=left]“Wanna buy a car? No, why not a boat? Jetski? Utensil set?” You don’t want to come across as salesy. Honesty is great and maybe if all you’re trying to do is sell something, boomarking sites are not for you. You need to want to contribute to the greater good, not just try to turn a buck.

Get Involved
The more interesting, I-want-to-know-what-that’s-all-about stories you submit and digg, the better chances other Diggers will want to become your fan. And make sure you have an interesting title, with compelling language. And find out what Diggers digg the most.

[singlepic id=69 w=65 h=58 float=left]Make sure you are representing your brand. Though the top Diggers make nearly a job out of finding interesting stories to submit, you have to find that diamond in the rough.

[singlepic id=68 w=65 h=58 float=left] Digg everything. If you Digg everything you lay your eyes on, you’re not being a part of a community—you’re throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. Top Diggers spend a lot of time finding interesting stories to digg, not just a story.

There are social networking “quick fix” tools for entrepreneurs–loopholes in the system for hackers to exploit. If however, your business buys into these methods, it’s your brand and your image. So instead of being that annoying salesman neighbor, you’re the theif in the night.

Top 5: Virtual Villages

top5_virtualvillage_header.jpg

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

If you consider the Myspace, Facebook and YouTube cities, inhabited by millions of residents subdivided into boroughs and neighborhoods, think of Twitter Moms and Climate Culture as small suburban communities on the city’s periphery. We are in the midst of urban sprawl of online community sites, where users play games to learn how to reduce their carbon footprint or get tips on improving their golf swing via online video.

Virtual Villages are growing by leaps and bounds according to Google Trends. As Web 1.0 e-Commerce makes its steady roll downhill, Web 2.0 social networking has risen from nothing in 2004 to nearly stealing the spotlight from e-tailers.

We’ve created a list of the top five emerging virtual villages that you might not have heard of:

1. Climate Culture—This is an interactive game where users are given an island and avatar that best reflects their carbon footprint and appearance. Users then commit to easy ways to reduce their daily emissions to restore life on their island and in their everyday lives.

2. Twitter Moms—Guess what “Mommies wish list is.” No, not a free babysitter. “A free short stack at iHop,” actually. Twitter Moms delivers on its name—it’s a site for mothers seeking information and community with other mothers in an easy-to-use, friendly way.

3. CauseCast—Finding the right nonprofit to donate to can be difficult. That’s why CauseCast has a user-friendly interface for donors to easily find and donate to a charity they care about.

4. Ning—Sites with online communities do not belong to an exclusive club that can afford web-savvy developers. Ning takes niche social media to the next level by providing a simple social networking framework that is easily embedded into any site.

5. Link Lessons—No longer does it take hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to perfect your swing. Link Lessons is an online video site where amateur and professional golfers meet to side step the expensive lessons… at least in the beginning. Amateurs film their swing, post it to Link Lessons, and professionals give them pointers based on their uploaded video. For the professionals, it’s a great way to meet prospective clients and for amateur golfers, it’s an inexpensive alternative to on-course lessons.

We can learn a lesson from Ryan Howard Bailey, the project manager on a social network for Dunder Mifflin—the paper company from NBC’s hit show, The Office. Ryan’s big idea was to create an online community around paper. Now, can you imagine people gathering in an online neighborhood sharing stories about 50% recycled multipurpose inkjet printing paper? Will that work? That is the question you have to ask yourself before launching a social network. Though you might be enthusiastic about your product, will others?

 

Startup Survival Guide

by David Capece, Managing Partner

“I’m unemployed and not collecting a paycheck.  I just want some work to make myself useful and pay the bills.”  These words of desperation are being echoed across the nation.  With this economic backdrop, bootstrapping has never been more critical.  And it actually might be easier than you think.  Below we share 10 tips to help you make it through the tough times.

1) Be Honest.  For best outcomes, it is important to be honest with yourself, your team, and your investors.  Hoping for the best-case has caused collateral damage to Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Fannie and Freddie, and many others.  Look yourself in the mirror and say, “The Dow is down from 14,000 to 7,500.  The economy around me is cratering.  How will my business perform if we muddle through the rest of 2009, or worse yet, if things take another turn downward?”

2) Develop Monthly Financial Projections.  In the past Wall Street has been criticized for their focus on quarterly results, removing long-term focus.  While I love the big picture, today is about surviving the short-term.  You should have monthly financial revenue goals and expense estimates.  And you should do your best not to fall behind.

3) Focus on Revenue.  Revenue goals are a measuring stick and give you something to rally around.  Everyone in your organization should know the revenue targets and be working towards them.  In the unfortunate event that you need to layoff workers, be sure to hold onto those who are directly delivering revenue.  You need to recognize that your sales team is more important today than it was 2 years ago.

4) Overdeliver to your Customers.  Your customer is king today.  Keep a pulse on what your customer wants and how you can exceed their expectations.  When you go the extra mile and satisfy their needs at an affordable price, they are more likely to return and recommend you.  As Fast Company says, Value Proposition is King.

5) Prioritize your Initiatives.  Ambitious leaders tend to tackle a number of opportunities at once.  The price to pay for lack of focus is higher now than ever.  Focus on your core, revenue generating business, and minimize distractions.  A clear objective and an unobstructed focus increases your odds of success.

6) Get more out of Your Team.   With unemployment surging, the days of the primadonna worker have past.  Your team likely has an increased appreciation for their job and paycheck, and that can work to your advantage.  I hear many executives talk to their team about the need to work harder and smarter.  It’s no longer acceptable to slide by with a “B”.  Ask your team to pull together in these difficult times to contribute more.

7) Reduce the Fat.  In 2009, a company is healthier when lean.  Most people immediately think of layoffs, and you should give a good hard look at your staffing.  Entrepreneur.com says to minimize your full-time staff.  There are other options such as reducing unnecessary travel, revisiting your contractor arrangements, negotiating better deals, and even finding cheaper office space.

8 ) Become more Nimble.   Fixed expenses make it difficult to make changes on the fly.  Part of the issue with GM, Chrysler and Ford is that they have enormous teams that receive ongoing salaries even if they are underutilized.   While layoffs are painful, you may be better served having contract or freelance employees.  There is an enormous supply of talent out there that you can tap into affordably.  Bring people on for specific projects and pay them only for completing their focus initiative.  You may have an added benefit of saving payroll tax and healthcare benefits.

9) Collect your Bills.  So many companies are having trouble, so stay on top of your receivables.  It keeps your cash flow going and will help you avoid a write-down in the future.   All you need to do is stay a little more proactive on following-up on outstanding bills.

10) Provide Leadership.  While the first 9 items have been more tactical measures, the 10th may be the most important.  In times of crisis, we look for leaders to emerge.  Your team is counting on you to provide leadership.  So are your customers.  Be sure to communicate that you are taking proactive steps to emerge on the other side of this recession as a stronger company.

For further reading, check out Guy Kawasaki’s blog on bootstrapping and VentureBeat’s article, “The Art of the Bootstrap.” And remember, the lessons you learn from bootstrapping will make you that much more successful when the market turns up.

TrendWatch: The Real Deal

In search of the real truth

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
Transparency walks the divide between honesty and an unapologetic attitude in the search for the truth. Honesty can be salt in the wound or it can be a weight off your shoulders. Accepting both as reality is paramount to the transparency trend.

Spin
Honesty—Sweeping problems under the carpet or the hush hush mentality is no longer a viable game plan. Whistleblowers can pop-up anonymously from anywhere via the Internet and KO a company’s future. Consumers have been empowered by the Internet to become an informed community of buyers and influencers. With blogs and product reviews, consumers have direct communications with companies, both good and bad. Likewise, companies have an outlet to reach consumer ideas and concerns.
Real—Are we really worth the value of our bank accounts? Or the value of our cashmere sweater or posh Armani wing-tips? The transparency trend strips monetary value from our perceptions of others and lays-bare who we really are as people. Because we aren’t a BMW or bungalow in Hawaii; we’re more than our purchasing decisions; we’re a friend that will answer her phone at 3AM. The Internet has furthered this trend as it is truly the great “equalizer”.  Everyone has an equal say or chance to share his or her passion.

Examples
Paterson—Admitting to adultery and drug abuse was a wise move by the New York Governor, David Paterson. It was a move that possibly saved him from the fate of his predecessor, Governor Elliot Spitzer.
True Beauty—ABC is looking through the make-up with its new show called True Beauty (produced by Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks). Its aim is to not only figure out who is prettier, but to test the moral fiber of each of its ten contestants. Unbeknownst to them, they’re being judged on their shapely figures and moral decisions. The take-away: feeling bad about stealing from a friend is just as important as high cheek-bones.
Ideastorm—More than likely, the greatest minds probably don’t work for you. Harnessing the power of the many gives way to fresh perspective and ideas. The best ideas can really come from anywhere—not just in the R&D department. That’s why Dell created Ideastorm.com. Its purpose is to interface with its customers in an objective way. Users can post problems, concerns or kudos and have their suggestion ranked by others. The cream of the crop will be considered in Dell’s R&D department when designing new Dell products. Dell feels good because not only have they developed an honesty, caring brand image, but they’ve also gathered valued information researchers pour over in focus groups. From the consumer end, they’ve just taken part in a product they helped develop… for them, by them, via Dell.

Keywords
Clear, Honest, Responsible, Natural, Accountable, Real

 

TrendWatch: Back to Basics

9_back-to-basics_pic_header.pngSimplify

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
Returning to a simpler time is what back to basics is all about—when modesty and humility were valued. Practicality is key to those modifying their daily lifestyle and simple pleasures are cherished now more than ever.

Spin
Practicality—Having tons of stuff isn’t practical. It’s fine to have the extras in life–no one’s denying anyone of that–but tons of stuff isn’t fine. Driving around in a military vehicle is the pinnacle of stuff and that’s frankly not cool. We’re going to be making smarter decisions by focusing our purchases on practicality, not unfettered desire.
Minimalism—As we find new ways to go back to basics, we’re going to de-clutter. De-clutter means removing the excesses and useless junk from our lives. In our journey of finding ways to get rid of the excesses, we’re going to re-prioritize what holds value and what can get tossed. It’s our search for cleaner, better lives that gives way to “back to basics”.

Examples
H3—There was a time when people were practical; when someone would ask, “Why are you driving a military vehicle (Hummer) to work?” This trend is re-emerging as the sales of smaller, more efficient cars are replacing gas-guzzlers. Now the coolest crowd of celebrities can be seen driving around in their Priuses. The waitlist for a Prius? Try 3-4 months, depending on where you’re shopping.
Iceland—Icelanders are avoiding imported beers (as they are pricier) resulting in the increase in popularity of local brews. Beer is a simple pleasure Icelanders are just not willing to give up even amid an economic downturn.
Affluent Shopper—Whether you’re making over $100,000 or not, great value is still great value. Affluent shoppers shop at Target, Wal-mart and Home Depot more than any other store (Affluent Survey). Though affluent individuals have more money, practicality is still valued and will continue to be in the future.

Key Words
Simple, Modesty, Pleasure, Sacrifice, Practical

Download the full 2009 Trend Report in PDF format

Top 25 Blogs

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By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

53.7 million. That’s how many results a Google search for “marketing blog” will get you. If this number might seem a bit dizzying and difficult to navigate through, you’re not alone.

We’ve compiled a list of our top 25 blog picks that will energize your business with up-to-date news and unique perspectives from industry leaders. Our blog roll is a mash-up of not only marketing, business and strategy blogs, but many other topics that might be at least an interesting read, if not completely relevant to your business. Brain science, social networking, web 2.0, psychology, sociology and entrepreneurs breaking the mold are some of the many topics covered in this list.
Enjoy!

1. Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog-M&SIB delivers on its name. The blog is constantly updated to provide readers with the freshest, most interesting content in marketing and strategy.
2.Neuromarketing-This blog blends both brain science and marketing to deliver a grounded, interesting and different perspective.
3. Ad Lab-Advertising for the future. This forward-thinking blog aims to give insight into where advertising is today and those on the creative front-line.
4. Seth’s Blog-Written by media marketing guru, Seth Godin, this blog is Seth’s social commentary on just about everything-from what school is for to e-mail campaign studies and everything in between.
5. Read Write Web-Trend and news oriented, RWW is a leading the web technology blog with over 275 k RSS subscribers.
6. Brand Channel-Published by Interbrand, Brand Channel is an important, multi-dimensional resource guide for marketers, entrepreneurs and brand managers alike, to get a fresh perspective in company branding.
7. Ecademy-Ecademy is a business forum for startups and established entrepreneurs to learn and get some pointers. Its blog is divided into three topics: community, business and social and is completely user-generated by Ecademy members.
8. Trend Central– This site delivers on its name. It offers the latest trends in lifestyle, style, entertainment and technology.
9. Springwise-This is one of the best trend / freshest, coolest, most innovative business forum out there. Springwise, the sister site to Trendwatch, is a resource guide for entrepreneurs to see what companies are leading innovation in business.
10. Mashable-Mashable is a Web 2.0 and social networking blog that has earned its stars by providing up-to-date, breaking news.
11. Personal Branding Blog-For those looking to differentiate their “personal brand,” Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0 can help. He offers advice on how to create the best personal brand-to get that job, or win that project.
12. M Cause-Written by Ryan Jones, the brand manager of P&G in Switzerland, M Cause discusses marketing and the positive changes happening in the industry.
13. Hard Knox Life-This is a blog by Dave Knox, the brand manager for Consumer Packaged Goods company. He discusses the sweet spot where marketing, technology and social interaction meet. Make sure to check out the great presentations.
14. Rochelle Grayson-As the COO of the Donat Group, Rochelle brings a fresh, insightful perspective to her media blog. She is a self-proclaimed mobile, web, social networking, identity and online entertainment junkie.
15.  Ad Age-The advertising news standard, Ad Age delivers a blog that is pointed, funny and between the two is insight. Ad Age discusses interesting bits from marketing, advertising, and culture.
16. Inside the Marketers Studio-David Berkowitz, the Director of Emerging Media & Client Strategy at 360i, is different. Though we’ve never met David, his smart, quirky personality shines through in this blog. His posts are comprehensive, yet engaging.
17. Consumer-Generated Media-From the Executive Vice President of Neilson Online Digital Strategic Services, Pete Blackshaw offers astute commentary on everything user-generated. He also links to his many articles published in many online publications. His blog is comprehensive and very informative-the go-to for everything user-generated.
18. Fast Company Expert Blog-From the company that delivers fresh, interesting, out-of-the box content, Fast Company’s blog delivers what its news content cannot: subjective perspective. It’s the voice behind the news and it’s interesting and pointed.
19. The Social Media MBA-This multi-media blog plucks interesting tid-bits of marketing insight from across the web and adds a little spin.
20. Digital Hive-A marketing, branding, insight-driven blog from a couple folks from Digitas.
21. Brand Noise-This is the brainchild of custom research and strategic planning company, scenario DNA. Their terse posts are concentrated nuggets of useful insight for brand planning.
22. Artificial Simplicity-Goofy, quirky, yet intelligent is tough to come by. Thank God for this blog. It takes the sometimes tedium away from a typical marketing blog.
23. Psych Blog-Branding and marketing are all about psychology. To get out-of-the-box, Psych Blog lends a different perspective to human thinking and behavior. Though not every post is spot-on useful, most are interesting and warrant a visit.
24. Everyday Sociology-This blog is very approachable, but posts can be a bit long for outsiders (i.e. not a sociologist). It’s very interesting how people move en masse and definitely a good place for marketers to check out once in a while.
25.  SpringStage-For budding entrepreneurs, SpingStage is a blog you should stop by. It’s a network of startups within and outside the U.S. Though the main blog spot might not be relevant to your locality, SpringStage has a sidebar that hopefully includes your town.

TrendWatch: Bite-Size Indulgence

Moderation with a side of milk

Definition
When mom used to bake cookies, the aroma of chocolate and sweet dough baking into what might as well have been gold, is such an intoxicating memory most can’t recall it without salivating. Who didn’t take one when mom wasn’t looking? It was these simple pleasures we treasure as kids that stay with us our entire lives. Though much changes: $.10 doesn’t make you rich, or a Caramello Bar isn’t made of golden nuggets. We hold onto the simple pleasures that accent our childhoods to find the escape our busy lives crave today.

Spin
Getaway—Simple pleasures cannot be limited to chocolate or coffee. Simple pleasures can take the form of a favorite hobby or a bench to relax in the park. It can be the hour of World of Warcraft you enjoy on the weekend… or your morning run. It is a small allowance we need to stay focused and bring balance to our everyday lives.
Quality—As we re-prioritize our budgets, we’re shedding the excesses in our everyday lives. We’re finding what we need to get rid of and what needs to stay. Quality pleasures are going to stay, while the it-was-a-good-idea-when-I-bought-it pleasures are going to be thrown out. Foresight in product purchases is going to be key in our search for quality and longevity in our products. Consumers will pay more for a quality product with less frequency than a year ago, however still will still enjoy that one (or two) home-made, oven-fresh cookie(s). Consumers will say, “I can’t afford to renovate my bathroom but I can afford to buy the new bath salts and that will also give me pleasure.”

Examples
Infomercials—As major advertisers are cutting their airtime on television, formerly staples of the late night / early morning, infomercials are nabbing the top spots in major network airtime. As car sales and the stock market slump, products like ShamWow and Oxyclean are top-sellers. It’s the small indulgence the ShamWow or Oxyclean brings to our lives that makes everything seem not so bad. Cleaning products in particular might not have the desirability of a Rolex, but they add convenience and cleanliness to everyday life. In a world where 9-5 can be even more stressful, we like to have the pleasure of a clean house—a simple thing that just makes us feel good.
Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar —“Milk and cookies, dear?” Think 1950’s suburbia with perfect houses and perfect lawns.  Or… think Manhattan today.  With all the change and uncertainty going on around us, urbanites are looking to the past for comfort classics.  Consumers seek a return to comforting classics, uniquely reinterpreted for today’s more discerning palate.  Perhaps a good old dose of milk and cookies is enough to settle the hearts and stomachs of both urban adults and kids alike.  “Please pass the cookies.”
Morsels—This bite-size eatery combines indulgence with moderation. Choosing just the right dessert shouldn’t be that big of a problem—as the treats are so small, and inexpensive, each dessert is more like a sample. Morsels capitalizes on the moderation trend, while still adding a little sweetness to the mix.

Key Words
Simple, Focus, Balance, Moderation, Nostalgia, Appreciation, Priorities

Donwload the full 2009 Trend Report in PDF format