Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Night in the Cellar

There was a couple and their two dogs in Transylvania who moved into an old haunted castle off an isolated road deep in the forest. The house was big and scary. The castle had 16 rooms, one of the rooms is a library, and at the stroke of midnight… comes alive with spirits. The legend of the library is that from midnight until one minute after midnight, anyone entering the library will see the ghosts, but will pay with their life!

Being new innkeepers, they decided to have a housewarming party and offer glasses of brandy to calm the nerves of their visitors. The innkeeper, Frank Freak, in preparation for the party, went into the cellar to gather the brandy. Being a good host Frank decided to sample the brandy. As has been known to happen in the past, Frank enjoyed the sampling, enjoyed it a bit too much. As Frank mellowed and the stresses of the day began to fade, he began to explore the far recesses of the cellar. Little did Frank know, but his every move was being watched, watched very closely by unseen eyes. With brandy bottle in hand, and fueled with the warm glow of the amber elixir, Frank moved deeper and deeper into the gloom of the cellar.

Suddenly a voice startled Frank, “Who are you?” Terrified, Frank dropped to his knees. “Who are you?” In the dimly lit cellar the voice terrified Frank all the more.

“My… my name is Frank.” Silence. “I said my name is Frank.” Frank’s heart was pounding so hard in his chest he was sure he could hear it beating in the stillness of the gloomy cellar. And if he could hear the sound of his beating heart, so could whatever malevolent spirit had spoken to him. “Are… are you there? Is anyone there?’

Looking down, Frank felt a chilling coolness and wet slime surrounding his feet. Frank tried to run.. But, alas, he was stopped in his tracks by the sight of Keith Moon, legendary drummer of the English power rock band The Who. One of the greatest of rock ‘n roll drummers confronted Frank, “Who are you?”

“Are you… I mean, I’m Frank. And you’re Keith Moon. But, you’re dead. Why are you in my cellar?”

“Doing penance for the bad things I said in life about Mick and the boys. I’m condemned for all eternity to rewrite over and over the band’s signature song.”

The cellar was suddenly rocked by an apparition of legendary proportion. Keith strolled to his drum kit to be joined by Jimi Hendricks on guitar, Freddie Mercury and Janis Joplin on vocals, and John Entwistle on bass. Rock music shook the cellar walls as Keith Moon began an unfamiliar rendition of The Who classic.

Who are you
What do you do.
Who are you
My lawyer will sue.

The band played a spirited set with occasional guest artists joining in. The Dead’s dead Jerry Garcia was smok’in, Elvis brought his pelvis, and Michael Jackson his thriller. When the music died it was just Frank and Moon the Loon alone in the quiet of the cellar.

With ears still ringing from the amplified music, Frank thanked Keith for the concert. Still confused, he asked, “Keith, I get the whole penance thing. Still, rewriting a classic over and over, that’s a bitch. But what I don’t get is what are you doing in my cellar?”

Keith’s head dropped to his chest and he sighed. “I’m decomposing.”


Yup, Nope, Maybe Next Year

Be truthful, do you make New Year’s resolutions? I don’t. The whole point of making a list of things guaranteed to make one a better, more complete human being totally eludes me. The entire process seems certain to disappoint or worse, get in the way of living life.

But from time-to-time it’s good to take stock of how things are going. Labor Day is a good time to reflect back on the year and think of what you’ve done, not done, and things best put off until next year. (Maybe the year after next.)

Eat More Corn: It’s been a good year for corn on the cob. My sister taught me how to grill corn in the husk and we’ve cooked our share. The national debate about diverting corn for biofuel misses the point, we need more corn for the grill.

Play Some Golf: It’s been a good year for playing golf on some fun courses. I may not have scored well, but watching the clouds roll through the valleys while playing golf in the mountains is something special.

Go to a Game: The baseball season is coming to a close and I regret not having spent more time at the ballpark. Hanging out with friends, a beer and a dog, catching a foul ball… priceless.

Replace Bulbs: 
Over the past year three of the four bulbs that light our garage have died, leaving only one 60W bulb. Replacing the bulbs has been on the list for a while, but as of Labor Day I can look back and mark this homeowner task complete. Is there a better feeling in the world?

Yin-Yang: Looking back on the year so far I can mark some things complete, a well-illuminated garage, but much yet to do. I’ve started working my way through the A – Z crime novels authored by Sue Grafton. I’m up to “E” is for Evidence, so I have a way to go. The ceiling fan on the back porch got replaced. Waterproofing the back deck… well, I need something to do next year too.

 More Sunsets: Enough said.

Branding is for Big Companies… Right?

Branding is a topic we associate with organizations often referred to as an enterprise.  It’s one of those sophisticated marketing strategies used only by big companies.  Right?  Wrong.  Branding is equally important for small organizations.  It’s my belief that branding is even more important for small businesses than for the large enterprise.

Branding is all about increasing a product or service’s perceived value to the customer and thereby increase brand equity.  For a large business, the brand becomes a complex issue with brand valuation tracked as a critical business asset.  For a small organization the perception of a business can be more important – determining whether one stays in business or goes out of business.

Large companies occasionally suffer enormous blows to their brand image.  A case in point is Union Carbide.  The Bhopal India chemical disaster in 1984 was a tremendous blow to the company’s reputation as well as to their bottom line.  However, the company retained enough value to be acquired by Dow Chemical Company in 2001.  Compare that with the fact the only one third of small business ever turn a profit.  Statistics show that half of all newly started small businesses fail within the first four years.

For a small business to succeed, it must offer something that truly differentiates the business from its competitors.  Barry’s Café in Raleigh, North Carolina is such a business.  The business had operated in the red for two years when a community emergency redefined the business in the minds of local people.  This short video tells the story of a truly remarkable business.

Barry Doyle’s nonprofit Feed the Firefighters Foundation, has served some 35,000 meals.  The efforts have earned Barry’s Café the 2008 Best of Raleigh Award in the Restaurant Category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).  The owner set out to do something good for his community.  In the process he established his business as a local landmark; clearly differentiated from the competition.  Barry may not think of his efforts as brand building, but the success of his business, and the foundation, make a strong case for the critical importance of brand recognition for small business.

Social Network Marketing – It Ain’t Your Granddad’s Relationship Selling

My mom is 85 and does not have Facebook page, doesn’t tweet, in fact she does not have a computer.  But, she has taught me everything I need to know about the value of social networks to an integrated marketing communications program.

 Even though the cost is a penny of two more, my mom fills up her car at the same service station every week.  She knows the owner and rewards the relationship with her business.  People and businesses do the same.  If everything is equal (price, quality, etc.) or nearly equal, we do business with those whom we have a connection.

 With social networking taking center stage in any discussion of relationship selling, we’ve entered a new era of marketing through social media.  But how effective is it?  I was in an online chat about social networks and someone mentioned a 2008 Forrester Report citing that less than half of survey respondents indicated Forums, Online Communities, and Social Networks as being an information source impacting the decision making process.  Does that mean the buzz about social network marketing is just that, buzz and nothing more?

 In taking a look at the report I come to a different conclusion.  With a title only an unabashed academic could love, The Social Technographics® Of Business Buyers, a key finding reports that four of the top six influencers on technology purchase decisions involve people-to-people contact.  Social network marketing is about building those inter-personal relationships.

 Here’s the list:

  • Peers and colleagues – 84%
  • Vendor, industry and trade Web sites – 69%
  • Your direct vendor salesperson – 69%
  • Technology or business magazines – 66%
  • Consultants, VARs and SIs – 65%
  • Industry trade shows or conferences (in person) – 59%
  • Forums, online communities and social networks – 45%
  • Industry analyst firms – 45%
  • E-mail or electronic newsletters – 41%
  • Web events or virtual trade shows – 40%
  • Interactive media: podcasts, video, online demos – 30%
  • Blogs – 24%

 Dell Computers is the now well known business case example of integrating social media within a marketing program.  Following a much publicized customer service problem, Dell embraced social media by launching a community site, numerous blogs, multiple Twitter IDs, and a Facebook account.  In a public statement, Dell has acknowledged they’ve earned $1M in revenue from the use of Twitter alerts.  At Dell, the use of social network marketing is a central element of their integrated marketing campaign.

 And take a look at one of the latest promotional campaigns launched by McDonald’s to build brand association.  The video shot at London’s Piccadilly Circus is moving up the ad charts that track viral videos.  Does it sell burgers?  Not directly.  But building positive brand awareness through viral social networking will certainly move the brand scorecard in a positive direction.

Social networking provides capabilities for people to discover new ways of connecting with each other.  Social network marketing offers B2B and B2C marketers the opportunity to establish those same connections.  As I’ve learned from my mom, we buy from people we like.

Make me a viral video, and super-size it!

Tell me this hasn’t happened to you recently. A client comes to your office and asks you to make them a viral video. Marketers everywhere are reading trade journals, going to conferences, and learning of case studies where a video presentation topped a million views on YouTube. They want the same, and want you to deliver it.

As a corporate communicator, how do you respond? Got an unlimited budget, willing to compromise your integrity, open to the idea of lawsuits? If so, you can deliver a message that will spread and super-size the number of views. But in the real world – a world driven by content, messaging, and qualified sales leads – the process gets a lot harder.

Part of the job of a corporate communicator is to challenge concepts and requests received from clients… carefully of course. Organizations expect us to consider communication requests and offer clients our best advice. That’s why we were hired. How do you respond when asked to deliver a viral video? Below are some of my ideas. I hope you will comment and share some of your thoughts.

    It’s About the Brand: Arguably the most successful viral video of all time is Dove’s Self Esteem campaign. Web video, combined with a comprehensive website, provides thought-provoking, confidence-building programs and messages that embrace all definitions of beauty. For Dove, the campaign is about associating their brand with efforts to raise self-esteem among women, especially young women, and to widen the definition of beauty. For Dove, it’s not a product pitch, it’s about brand association.

      That’s where the money is.” OK, the truth is bank robber Willie Sutton never used the phrase to answer the question, “Why do you rob banks?” Still, it makes for a good story. It also makes the point that sales leads come from attracting the right audience, not just any audience. The formula for success will be somewhat different for B2B than for B2C marketers. For those in the B2B space, the total size of an audience is less relevant than who comprises the audience. The question needs to be asked, “Where is the target audience the viral video is aimed at attracting?” If the target audience is unlikely to be spending time viewing the hottest videos on the web, time and money might be better spent fishing where the fish are.

      Viral Does Not Mean Cheap: There is a cost to everything we deliver. The expense may be internal, inherent overhead cost (soft money), or above-the-line billable dollars. Yes, there are countless examples of amateur videos drawing big viewing numbers on video web portals. Countless numbers of animal lovers watch live streaming video of puppies sleeping in a crate. Drawing a big audience and delivering a compelling message about a product or service are two different things. Keep in mind the old production adage, “Good, fast, or cheap – pick any two.” How much time, effort, and money did T-Mobile spend in driving 10M+ web views of their highly choreographed dance number shot at Liverpool Street Station?

      “Show Me ‘da Plan!” To paraphrase a line from the movie Jerry Maguire, what’s the plan to incorporate a viral video into a larger, integrated Marketing Communications campaign? The success of Dove’s Self Esteem campaign is the completeness of the marketing initiative. While compelling, the viral video is but one element of the campaign. The resources available from the Dove website fulfill the need for specific, actionable information. What’s the call to action? A viral video is only one component. It’s the fun part no doubt. But a viral video does not stand alone; it must be part of a well thought out business plan.

      How viral is viral? Is the view target some arbitrary number based on a case study presented in a marketing journal? Is a million views really needed? How about 10 thousand? Come to a mutual understanding about how success will be measured.

    Why no mention of creativity in this post? Simple, that’s step two – after the business issues have been addressed. I hope you will comment and share some of your ideas.

    What’s New in New Media?

    I was reading posts on a LinkedIn community and came across an interesting question. Responsible for naming a corporate media department, the author posed the question, “What is new media?” That got me thinking about how corporate communication has changed, and the role of technology in affecting that change.

    Technology is a fundamental force driving our economy. Advances in technology drive innovation across a wide range of industries. In communication, technology is central to the process of message delivery. As technology advances, it affects all forms of communication. Communication changes culture; and changes in culture drive technological evolution. The circle goes round and round.

    Corporate communicators have long relied on print as the primary vehicle for communication. However, over time technology changed the paradigm. In the late 70’s, print was joined by video as a key communication technology. Vast networks of VHS tape players became a fixture in many offices. Moving into the 90’s web-based technology emerged as the primary channel of both internal and external communication. New technologies emerged and were integrated into the communication process at a dizzying pace – forever changing the communication landscape.

    When web-based technology emerged as the primary communication channel for most organizations, “network pipes” were limited. The broadband connectivity we take for granted today was still a decade away. Early adopters of communication via the web were limited primarily to text and simple graphics. Photography, multimedia, video, and audio were pushed to the sidelines. Then along came fiber optic technology, Fast Ethernet, and a new generation of more powerful multimedia servers. The relentless advance of new technology emboldened communicators to demand more from the network. A new battlefront emerged with IT on one side, facing off against those pushing the envelope and demanding better communication capabilities. IT insisted on centralized control and governance over media distribution. Communicators pushed for a richer online experience. There are still skirmishes between those who manage infrastructure and those who use network resources to communicate with audiences both internal and external. The battles continue, but the outcome is certain.

    New media, rich media, multimedia are one in the same. Web-based communication has become a mashup of data from multiple sources combined into a single, integrated tool. The line between text, graphics, animation, and video has blurred. All represent content, that when creatively combined create a persuasive new form of communication. Video has emerged as a key component of new media on the web. In 2008, video accounted for 60% of all Internet traffic. The amount of video on the net continues to increase and is projected to account for almost 90% of all Internet traffic by 2011. Combined with video, graphics and animation enable video to be presented in new and different ways. Live video webcasts have become an important part of how many organizations communicate. Websites increasingly offer users video content in streaming format or for download to a portable media player. Where once content downloads were limited to a PDF document, multimedia is now a common form of content download. And this not limited to large Fortune 500 organizations. Sure, IBM has video on its website, but so does KnittingHelp.Com.

    What’s new about new media? Nothing, and everything. At the dawn of history, cave painters illustrated the results of the hunt. The application of technology, charcoal, made some hunters more successful than others. Incorporating technological change is what corporate communicators do. There’s nothing new about that. What is new, and central to success, is having a vision and the ability to put powerful evolving technology into the hands of skilled communicators who in turn can deliver compelling messages in new media form.

    10 Ideas for Weathering Recessionary Times – Part 2 of 2

    This second post continues a look at how experienced media professionals are dealing with the downturn in the economy. Everyone acknowledges it tough out there today. Clients have seen their budgets cut and have less money to spend. Just keeping the doors open is a challenge, let alone doing great work.

    Thanks to the many media professionals who offered their ideas for this list of 10 Ideas for Weathering Recessionary Times.

    6. Production Choices: Several people I spoke with commented that despite the downturn in the economy, cutting back on innovation and creativity is never an answer. In fact, it may be more important now than when clients have more to spend. A project I recently developed for SAS was planned as a live, in-studio webcast. Scheduling problems and the skyrocketing cost of international travel, forced a look at other alternatives. Since the key messages were well supported with PowerPoint charts, it was agreed that rather than a video webcast, an audio seminar would work equally well. The client was pleased with the program, as well as the smaller hurt I put on their budget.

    7. Alternate Distribution Channels: The past several years has seen the unrestrained growth of many new distribution channels. Broadcast television commercials will remain a mainstay for many producers, but in some cases there are alternatives. Dan Schwartz of Philadelphia’s Center City Film and Video has found this tactic effective for some clients. “We have used viral distribution of advertisements on YouTube, marketing through Face Book and other social media platforms, when the target viewership required it. This is a huge cost saving over TV media buying. Of course, more traditional marketing outlets always have to be considered as well.” Use of alternate distribution channels requires a different kind of communication’s campaign and possibly a different creative approach.

    8. Virtual Office: Next time you need to shoot in Russia, or need something shot for you in Moscow, check in with my friend Fyodor Mozgovoy. Working across distance is something Fyodor does all the time and knows a lot about. “I cannot imagine doing business without Google, Skype, and iChat nowadays. Google services offer me a virtual office with multi-access calendars, ability to collaborate on planning, and share all important documents at a click. This saves me and my employees lots of time, and money for travel expenses. Skype is a great money saver, and iChat is amazing in its ability to share your screen on-line while keeping the voice connection, making online presentations easy and very impressive.” What can I say; the man knows how to squeeze a Ruble.

    9. Production Sharing: Reduced budgets mean more than doing more with less. Sometimes sharing production responsibility can help reduce costs. Projects that are developed as part of a coordinated marketing campaign can use elements between projects and reduce overall cost. For example, photos used in a brochure can be incorporated into a video project, reducing production costs. “Resource sharing with clients and their other production agencies can help lower costs” said Jim Fink of New Century Digital Media in Chapel Hill. “Some clients have in-house production resources for creating graphics and web content. Using some of what they have already developed can help hold down expenses.” Such assets don’t always fit easily into the production process, but with some creative design, they can reduce costs and improve the bottom line.

    10. Communicate-Communicate-Communicate: “Keep your client in the loop – (over)communicate – updating them often on the status of the project, milestones, and action items.” Great advise from Melanie Raskin, writer, actress, and voice over artist. “Prove your value every time. Not only strive to be the fun, engaging, creative, easy, can-do pro to work with – but also measure what you’ve done – put dollars and cents to those efforts. Send surveys to customers asking how your work/video/webcast/communication helped move the needle for the audience/users…and the company. This can be as simple as just a few questions to your clients or as complex as a survey clients can distribute to their audience (complimentary, of course!). In a challenging economy, clients are asked to make tough choices; make it easy for them to choose you and your services.” What more can I say, Melanie is the consummate professional.

    There were many other ideas that came from talking with a great group of communication pros. Please comment on the two parts of this post and offer any suggestions of your own to share with the online community.

    Networking was something that came up quite often. A number of people expressed ideas similar to what Melanie Raskin summarized so well, find ways to stay in touch with clients even if a current project is not underway. Maybe ask them for ideas about a blog posting. 😉

    10 Ideas for Weathering Recessionary Times – Part 1 of 2

    During recessionary times many organizations scale back advertising and how marketing budgets are spent. For media professionals, what does this mean in practical terms? For many, this is not the first time we’ve seen a downturn in the economy. We know clients are watching budgets more closely, there’s more competition, and margins are slimmer. We know how to operate lean-`n-mean – editing on a laptop while flying home from a shoot. But there is only so much expense that can be removed from a business. How can media professionals weather the storm?

    I spoke with a number of media professionals who have been through the dry times before. Some of those I spoke with have their own business, some work for production companies, and others work within an enterprise. Regardless of your business model, these ideas can help you Weather Recessionary Times.

    1. Showcase Flexibility: What does your front door, that is your Internet home page, say about you and the services you offer? Bruce Wittman of Eagle Video touches all bases with his website, showing on-line clips for use in marketing, training, recruitment, medical, multimedia and more. Bruce says, “people come to the [his] site looking for a specific kind of project. If someone wants to do a program with dancing frogs, it helps to have something like that on your website.”

    2. Web Delivery: Everyone gets it, yes even clients. It’s all about the web. Barnstormer Communications Larry Wegman has been assisting clients transition their communication to on-demand, web-based content. “Clients are increasingly interested in creating messages that live on their website. It’s more convenient for them, they have control over distribution, and they can change it when they want.” Larry has helped clients develop shorter, more focused messages, which help offset reductions in advertising budgets.

    3. Innovation & Quality: We’re all familiar with the phrase, a race to the bottom. It refers to people being prepared to settle for “good enough” when they ought to be striving for best. Service providers can reduce the price of their services, but as Greg Rowland of MindWorks Multimedia points out, with everyone reducing prices, “you do not have a competitive advantage and your margins become so small that you can’t survive for long. If a service provider offers better quality, improved service, and innovation, they stand out from the competition. Often times, innovative solutions are also cost-reducing solutions. For example, innovative eLearning courses are more effective and less expensive than classroom training.” Helping clients reduce their costs goes a long way when budgets are tight.

    4. One-Stop-Shop: Economists talk about it, managers talk about, parents paying their teenager’s gasoline bill talk about it… productivity  being efficient, getting the most bang for your buck. Taylor Sisk, a freelance producer and writer who works in association with Take One Productions, has begun offering his clients additional services. “I’ve started producing radio spots for political clients, [in addition to television commercials] as a means of providing them with more of a one-stop-shop service.” Established client relations, or the knowledge gained from developing a first project, can open the door to new opportunity – if you’re willing to stretch your communication skills.

    5. Enthusiasm: In my closet at home I keep advice from a fortune cookie, reminding me to stay true to the dreams of youth. Documentary-style producer, David Rose of Rose Films, believes it’s important to “take on the kind of work that really interests you, and then go after clients who appreciate what you have to offer. This does not mean that we don’t get into other types of projects, but our core business is in what we do best, and like to do.” Work pays the bills and consumes much of our time. Enjoy life. Enjoy work.

    More thoughts and ideas for how experienced media professionals are dealing with today’s difficult economy in part two of this post.

    Nixon: An Iconic Web 2.0 Figure?

    Just doing my part. As a patriotic American, I’m making it my business to help jump start our economy. It’s my personal economic stimulus program. Truth be told, there are lots of good sales; too good to pass up. Last week I bought a new winter coat. I wore it to work one day and at lunch someone mentioned the new threads. I joked, paraphrasing Richard Nixon, that it was “a respectable, republican cloth coat.”

    It’s a line from Nixon’s famous Checkers speech. What came as a surprise was the number of Gen X and Gen Y co-workers at lunch that recognized what I thought would be an obscure reference. I don’t remember Nixon’s nationwide broadcast from September 23, 1952. I do remember his leaving the White House in disgrace after resigning the presidency. What interested me was how many people, too young to even remember Richard Nixon, had seen the Checkers speech. Most had seen it on YouTube or seen excerpts on the news. Sociologists must be having a field day analyzing the impact of YouTube and other on-demand video sharing sites

    “A respectable, republican cloth coat” at about :20

    In a Web 2.0 world, on-line content is being produced and consumed in a way that has profound implications for individuals, families, and society. But, that’s way outside my pay grade. Closer to home, corporate communicators need to keep in mind there is an entire generation who have grown up in a totally digitally-connected world. Research by the Pew Internet & American Life project reported as far back as 2005 that “more than half of all teens who go online also create content for the Internet.” In Internet time, 2005 is practically a generation ago.

    Advances in web-capture cameras and sites like YouTube and Flickr make content sharing easy… in some cases too easy. (My sociologist side is showing.) Social networking sites (SNS) allow an individual connection to friends and active participation in constantly evolving virtual communities. Our newly inaugurated president used the power of the web to help empower individuals and local groups to actively support his candidacy, all the way to the White House.

    New channels of communication are opening at a mind numbing pace. The challenge for communicators is to develop creative ways of utilizing these new outlets. The tactics of the past will only take an organization so far. Today’s content consumers demand the opportunity to be part of the dialogue, part of the process. Finding ways to communicate an effective message, while at the same time welcoming consumers into the process, will be the key to effectively utilizing the new channels of an ever more interconnected world.

    Into the Hands of the Consumer

    The realization that it’s all about the web has long been accepted as a fait accompli by communicators. It’s now official – finance has derived the numbers and marketing has hit on the killer app.

    Item one: financial value creation. A new research report from Spain’s IESE Business School reports that the stock performance of new media organizations far out performs that of traditional media channels.

    Over a five year period ending in 2007, IESE Professor Javier Aguirreamalloa analyzed the financial performance of American and European businesses in the technology, new media, and telecommunications sectors. Here’s the bottom line. New media channels – software companies, social media, and web-base rich media – delivered higher levels of shareholder performance. The five sectors that created the most value were: social networks (+42%), businesses that provide services to telecommunication companies (+28%), online content retailers (+24%), multimedia application software (+21%), and consumer electronics (+19%). By contrast, traditional communication companies such as radio/television stations, record labels, and press publications shattered shareholder value.

    Professor Javier Aguirreamalloa’s conclusion is that narrowing the distance between the communication sector and the end user delivered the greatest financial value. Those segments that made content more accessible and gave users greater control performed best. This comes as no surprise. Now there’s financial performance data to backup the growing number of market studies that all show the impact of Web 2.0.

    Item two: Killer App for iPhone. They’re everywhere. The Apple iPhone is a hit with consumers largely because of the library of downloadable apps. There are apps that let users connect to their Facebook account, play games, or purchase from eBay. But one of the most popular iPhone apps comes from Kraft Food and provides recipes and shopping lists for Kraft products including Jell-O and Minute Rice. Don’t laugh, it’s true. iFood Assistant is one of the top selling apps for the iPhone. Yes, that’s selling apps. Consumers are paying Kraft Food to be marketed to on their iPhone. The app is one of the top 100 most popular paid apps and is number two in the Lifestyle Category. The app was launched in December and consumers have found it a helpful tool for making dinners faster, easier, and more convenient. The lesson: consumers are willing to pay when they discover something that’s useful and gives them greater control.

    Item three: Accessibility. The research report from Prof. Aguirreamalloa draws a clear line between proximity to the consumer and successful performance. Putting the consumer in control is central to success, whether its 24 hour service, a selection of pizza toppings, or DVR playback when the consumer is ready. This explains the success of online rich media companies such as YouTube and Hulu. A recent post by blogger Chris Pirillo points out, “It’s a numbers game. YouTube is now 25% of the Internet’s search traffic, and if you’re not doing something on YouTube, you’re… crazy.” Joining the on-demand bandwagon last November is the Vatican. Available in four languages, the Vatican Channel offers news and other information about Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican events.

    Yes, it’s all about the web – finance has the numbers, marketing has the killer app, and Web 2.0 even has a papal blessing. (That last item may be a bit of a stretch.) Those communication providers that bring consumers closer to desired content and put them in control, are those who will deliver the greatest return.