Marketing, Minneapolis, Music & More

Welcome Home Juniper Mae

Well Tempo has officially arrived–and she has been named Juniper Mae.

Say hello to the world.
Juni Mae
Juniper was 6lb 8oz and 19 inches long at 3:29pm on May 23rd.  She is our first child and already too cute for her own good.  The labor started at about 3am Friday night and continued for roughly 12.5 hours.

The process of labor is somewhat surreal.  It’s so hard to see someone you love go through it–and it’s physically exhausting.  I tried to help Teresa in any way I could with breathing and being close to her so she was going through it with someone.

The night before going in, I’d been reading up on the NBA Draft (Twolves are picking #1!) and having a few adult beverages.  We did NOT think that Juniper was coming any time soon as there had been no progression in the last week between Teresa’s check ups.  As such, I’d gone to bed at about 2AM.

At 3AM, Teresa got up and knew something was happening.  She called into the hospital.  They said to wait, which we did until about 7am and at that point the contractions were close enough together that we were getting froggy about going in.  Only one problem:  they hospital was out of rooms!

We’d been planning to go to Park Nicollet Methodist.  They have a beautiful facility and Teresa really liked the midwives.  During a tour, someone asked if they are often at capacity, which was met with a prompt “It’s extremely rare and unlikely.”  Welp–it happened.

Other hospitals were certainly not something we relished the idea of, so at about 7AM we simply drove in and checked in.  I don’t know that the nurses were super happy with us at first, Teresa was still conversational at that point and weren’t sure if she was far enough along.  We stayed in Triage (an area for capacity, not nearly as nice but comfortable enough.)

By 10am, things had REALLY sped up and the midwife stated “You are rocking, let’s get you set up in a room.”  Teresa had wanted a room with a tub, which we got.  The nurses and rooms at Methodist are fantastic, they did such a fantastic job and were really helpful despite being at capacity most of our stay, I really can’t recommend them enough.  For new parents, having that security and comfort really helped.

The labor process was intense, despite the fact that it went pretty quickly for us — labor times upwards of 24  hours aren’t necessarily uncommon.  It is near indescribable.

For me, life itself is mind boggling.  The fact that we get up and talk to one another and get coffee and do every day things blows my mind in some ways.  That we can contemplate our own existence–past, present, and future is so uncommon and impressive.  The birth of a child is similarly mind boggling, but it was special compared to everything else I’ve experienced thus far.

As I stated, it was VERY hard to be there while Teresa was in such pain, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  I remember looking at the clock just hoping it would be over by a certain time–and it didn’t necessarily happen.  It was the hardest thing I’ve done, and I didn’t do the hard part!

After 12.5 hours of difficulty and pain, Juniper arrived.  I cried.  It was the most beautiful moment of my life and I don’t think it will ever be the same.  I’m just so proud of Teresa. She was in such pain and worked so hard.  She’s still hurting today, but she did it the way she wanted to.  And now we have a baby girl to spend our lives with.

We got home yesterday and have been trying to figure everything out.  Getting things back in order, it feels good to be home.  Jasper is already very curious to see Juniper as much as possible, Stella is going to take longer but she will come around.

Jaspy Juni

I’m going to take the next week off.  Tomorrow is the wake and funeral for my grandfather, so I’ll be driving to Paynesville during the mid point of the day and then coming back.  It’s a sad time and a happy time–life and death on Memorial Day are both present.

We are all looking forward to the next chapter with you Juniper, love Mom and Dad.

The Inevitable Evolution of Cable Television

I’ve written about this a good amount in the past, but am fascinated by the evolution of cable in the US.  Truth be told, I’m always curious about all things sociology and understanding why and how people consume information.  As Annie Dillard put it so eloquently: how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  How people choose to access information will inherently dictate what companies do to meet their expectations, thereby shaping what the majority of the populace does on a day to day basis.  This rabbit hole keeps going.

Cable in the US is notorious for poor customer service and lack of value for consumers.  It started as an alternative to the major networks like PBS, CBS, ABC and NBC.  Historically there were a very small amount of channels available and they were sent via radio waves over air broadcast using antennas.

I grew up in the sticks of a small town and ACCESS to cable wasn’t available for us.  The infrastructure simply wasn’t built at the time and satellite television was cost prohibitive for the majority of people at that time.  Truthfully cable was cost prohibitive for us too.  Cable was and technically still is a luxury good – though many people with families will argue otherwise.  One of my former profs, Dileep Rao, stated bluntly that it was unavoidable in his family DESPITE him being one of the most pragmatic people when it comes to dollars and cents.

Over time, the expectation of having cable changed to being a standard for most people.  Channels and content proliferated – cable companies continued to boast of incredible selection:  100s of channels, 500+ channels, 1000+ channels.  Networks like ESPN and MTV drove consumer behavior, particularly in younger people.    The amount of households continued to rise.

Cable 90s

But during the 2000 period, a change happened.  Despite continuing  population growth the trend stopped.  I haven’t done enough research to assume that the advent and continuing growth of the internet spurred this change, but that’d be my kneejerk reaction.

A large question is, if that were the case, what content consumptions changes are driving the behavior?  Which particular offerings were consumable at that time online that were being cannabalized from cable?  If you recall that era, online video was not really viable.

I spent a good time online as a teenager playing videogames.  Outside of that it was mostly researching projects for school and reading websites like ESPN.  Even through college (graduating in 2005) I didn’t have my own computer and used the library.  Content online was light years from where it is now.

Things have changed.  Today most content available on network television is available online in some form or another.  The nature of content has changed from broadcast to consumable in parcels.  Entire seasons of television are released at once for certain series, much to consumers’ delight.  (As a side note, I’ve been debating this as better or worse for long term viability of content and am still torn.  We are glued to Game of Thrones every Sunday–but many other shows simply wouldn’t hold our attention as such and that makes it debatable as to whether offering all the content at once is a better strategy or not.  I think that for lower tier quality content it’s best to launch all at once and for extremely premium content it’s best to stagger the offering over time.)

Cable 2010

The decline of cable is happening–at least in terms of traditional definitions.  The ability to monetize the content is only evolving.  I’d imagine the larger network operators are already planning their long term strategies for harvesting the existing businesses and pivoting toward a more digital centric strategy through M&A or simply focusing on broadband internet services, which will only proliferate as a revenue stream as more and more content is consumed online.

When people say “cable is dead” I have to chuckle because a user base of 54M households paying $100-$150 per month is a ridiculous revenue stream, even if declining it’s a long term asset that will be an annuity for these companies.  But the returns will diminish quickly, technology advancement is exponential in this market.  I’m still astounded by being able to Facetime someone — these ideas were pop fiction when I was growing up!  More change is imminent.  Combined with a larger populace that faces a cost of living inconsistent with their take home pay, extraneous bills will get cut.

Which online services are capable of building a user base and value prop that fits current cable purchasers’ expectations?  How about folks that never had a chord?  The internet, for all purposes, has won so many industries due to providing choice.  The question stands, when do the cable companies embrace this and provide choice to consumers.  I guarantee there have been multiple pitches to try to sell this at these organizations, but the strategy taxes seem to costly.  There is an agency issue for the leaders of these companies.

I wonder if any of the cable companies will actually continue to lead video content in the future, or if they let the aggregators convert their industry while they harvest for a long winter.

Flooring Project Finished

Well, it was about 5 months in the making.  But we finally redid the flooring upstairs.  And by “we” I mean we paid for it. Unique Flooring here in Bloomington handled the project, who subcontracted Josh’s Hardwood Flooring.  If you’re looking for a great company to work with, I’d recommend both.  Winston at Unique is fantastic, great service and really knowledgeable.

This project was very easy from our standpoint.  I picked out the wood with Teresa and we set up the time.  When Josh came out to look at the place, we had a lot of things going against us.  The biggest was that we had particle board as a subfloor–this genuinely won’t work for hardwood.  They had to tear it all out and put in real ply wood, added to the cost but necessary.  Also, our stairs are wide, so we ended up having to buy additional supplies to pay for them, all the nosing and wood adds up.  We needed new shoeing around the baseboards too.

Despite all that, once the process was set up, it was smooth sailing.  It took four days roughly.  More than anything, I enjoy doing these projects because they are LONG TERM improvements.  Knowing something is going to be there for decades really excites me for some reason.  I think everything really turned out great.  If you’re looking for someone to help you with a project like this, both UF and Josh are good people to start with.  Here are some photos.

Living Room torn out with plywood put down.

Living Room torn out with new plywood put down.

B3

Kitchen torn out.

B5

Stairs sans carpet.

Broken tile in the bathroom.  Josh fixed it quickly and it looks good as new.

Broken tile in the bathroom. Josh fixed it quickly and it looks good as new.

..

A5

The good news is that they were able to salvage the engineered hardwood in the kitchen. I'll use that to redo the flooring in the "mancave" area downstairs before winter sets in.

Jasper on the new floor, living room and kitchen area on the left.

Jasper on the new floor, living room and kitchen area on the left.

Finished living room with the fireplace in the background.

Finished living room with the fireplace in the background.

A3

Stairs finished! Stella enjoying the new slippery surfaces.

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day to you and your family.  I’m extremely thankful for everything my mother has done for me in my life–as well as my mother in law.  There are such a huge amount of strong and intelligent women in my life, it’s really a blessing.

We need to get to work today, on a multitude of things, but this is the first year we’re celebrating Mother’s Day for Tempo coming.  I purchased Teresa the Llama Llama Red Pajama books and a toy Llama as a gift.  Looking forward to many, many more in the future.

llama

The Importance of Self Reliance (Why DIY?)

Back in undergrad, I spent a lot of time reading Thoreau and Emerson.  Emerson’s essays meant a lot to me and Self Reliance was a very important text at that time.  And it still is.  Self reliance is about self understanding and owning your present and future.  The world is filled with people who will tell you their perceptions and attempt to distill a sense of order based on their world view.

If you simply follow what others tell you, in the long term you will wander without true direction.  Different people’s views contrast and naturally contradict.  Following others’ directions continually will ultimately lead to confusion as you find out these contradictions in reality.

That’s not to say others’ advice is not valuable.  Much the contrary, your personal journey of knowledge should be heavily influence from others.  And not just by classical authors either.  Your family, your friends, your peers, your bosses and others can and do offer great advice.

The issue is the blind faith in that advice.  Self reliance is the ability to think critically about others’ perspectives to understand if your perspective is in alignment with those views.  You cannot let others dictate what you are and what you’re capable of–you are capable of anything you set your mind to, despite what others may think.

Part of me is writing this for my unborn children.  We live in a world where many are eager to label others and their capability, let no one tell you who you are or what you can do other than YOU.  Reiterated by Emerson:

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

As a child, it was difficult to fully grasp this concept.  Once the knowledge is unlocked, the world is yours.  I wish I’d realized it in my teenage years instead of when I was 22 or so.  Today more so than ever the knowledge needed to accomplish near anything in your life is readily available.  It used to be libraries, now it’s Wikipedia and Youtube.

What’s required in addition is the perseverance to learn what’s necessary and apply it.  Few have that.

In today’s age the importance of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is lessening for the masses–finding others to do work for you or apply their expertise is easier and easier due to the information supernova connecting nodes of need and ability.  Yet the capability to actually accomplish necessary tasks on your own will build your confidence and is thoroughly enjoyable–few things today are more enjoyable than a good days work on something that will last decades.

Not all tasks are worthwhile in terms of reward comparative to the time needed to build.  For instance, we need a new deck for our house, but I won’t be learning how to build the deck foundation as the security of those on said deck are prohibitive.  However putting the boards and railings on correctly is something well within my capability.  Building things is fun and there’s no reason not to–it also saves resources and should mean the job is done RIGHT as it’s your work.

Self Reliance and DIY are powerful concepts.  Embrace them wholly.  Captain your own ship; charter your own course.  Do not be afraid of the considerations of those close to you, but ultimately decide what is right for your path based on what you know in your heart.

Virtual Reality and Event Marketing

Last weekend, at a cancer charity event endearingly entitled “Will Drink For Boobs” I tried an Oculus Virtual Reality headset for the first time.

While standing in a group of friends drinking ice cold, inexpensive beer a Bacardi representative grabbed me and a friend by the arm and asked us to come check something out.  When we got to their small station subsisting of a few other ladies and two chairs, they sat me down and had me wear an Oculus headset.  The headset wasn’t clearly marked as it wasn’t attempting to market VR so much as Bacardi.  After putting on the headset, they have you verify you see certain things like which way you are looking and then they start the video.Oculus_Rift

Overall the video was roughly two minutes and shows you boating in to a coastal city on a yacht, with lots of people around you having fun enjoying the sun.  It then moves to a party situation where a DJ and a large crowd of folks is partying.  Bacardi and drinks are easily spotted.  The video ends by attempting to get you to sign up for a promotional trip that you can win.

I’ve actually tried finding it online but am struggling, which is either an integrated campaign issue or an SEO issue.  Bottom line–if you’re going to invest in ideas like that at an in person event, it should be easily found online after.

The virtual reality video in my opinion was pretty low quality.  It was very grainy.  There were some cool aspects of it–you can look around in 360 degrees which creates an immersive situation.  After watching, I was offered some headphones with the Bacardi Bat and declined as low quality merch is not my jam.

Event marketing like this is actually quite difficult–the main reason is that most folks who are there don’t *really* care about Bacardi in particular, they’re there for the event and to either have fun or support the cause.  I applaud brands attempting to get in front of consumers in a positive manner regardless, and if they are supporting the event then I think it’s well within their right to showcase some promotion.  What would be better would be aligning their efforts to the actual event and showcasing that support. The event was for breast cancer, it would be really easy to support that (outside of just $$$) by being more public about what your organization does to help the cause.

The best event marketing is naturally part of the event.  I think of triathlons or other physical rigor events where brands donate snacks or funds to help accomodate the needs for all the event goers.  Think Clif Bars and Powerade at Iron Man.  These brands win when they serve as advocates for the event more so than just showing up because lots of people are there.  It’s still very difficult to gauge actual ROI in this space, but it’s still powerful.

Redbull is probably my favorite company in terms of event marketing. They are masterful.  They’ve become the best in the business by actually creating events, including Crashed Ice here in St. Paul every year, Flugtag, and various other around the world.  A few years ago I attended the Flugtag here in Minneapolis and it was outrageous.  The momentum behind their brand is amazing.

This is the power of event marketing done well.

This is the power of event marketing done well.

I support companies who support things that are important to me and my family.  In the long term, the best companies stand for something and push that agenda– whether it’s people eating less processed foods, children exercising more often, ending homelessness, healthy living through athletics, becoming proficient at your profession, etc.  Their offerings normally fit in well with their causes, but if people are down with the cause they’ll support the offerings.

In retrospect, this post should have been bifurcated.  Virtual reality as a tactic for marketing is real and will continue to evolve, but at this point I don’t believe it’s where it needs to be in order to have a large impact on most companies’ efforts.  It’s light years beyond where Second Life was ten years ago (if you recall that was supposed to be the next big thing for larger brands back in the day) but as of now isn’t fully baked.  It’s good that brands are experimenting with the medium, that’s their job.

I’ll always favor in person events to make real, meaningful connections with people at events over broadcast media.  But there’s A LOT of responsibility there too.  Companies and their employees really need to understand why they’re doing what they are doing there and how to clearly communicate that–through both words and actions.

Summer time is coming, which is the prime time for events.  There will likely be a lot more interesting things to cover off on soon.

Garden Rebuild Underway

Yesterday was my day for toil in the sun while tearing down the existing garden and beginning the rebuild.  The project is roughly half done at this point with a lot more to do–I’m sore as my day job doesn’t lend itself to the physical rigor part of such activities.  Went through two full batteries on my new drill and gave my father’s cross cut saw a good work out.  Feels good!

GardenRedeaux

I should have taken pictures prior to tearing down the first aspects, but did not.  There were about 12 posts holding 1 inch mesh chicken wire around the box, roughly 3.5 feet high, which were tore out.  The wood in this garden is already pretty soft, which is concerning long term.

You see that new beams were added to the top of the existing box, they will be used for stability on new posts, which will be roughly 2 feet high in order to reach over.  We have a fence now which keeps other larger animals out, so the main concern are rabbits, which are plentiful!  Additionally there are now beams that connect the base to the outer fence area as a barrier for the wood chips we put down.  Stella and Jasper tore up the corner too much so it was time to make a change.

Next steps:

1. Add posts  and chicken wire to perimeter.
2. Add edging to top of posts for securing wire.
3. Build door and add with hinges and latching.
4. Pick out a coat of paint.

I’ll post the final project when complete.  Have a good Sunday!

Birthday Marketing

Today NBA.com sent me an email saying happy birthday.  Out of all the sites I’ve given my information, NBA.com is probably one of the least engaging.  Unfortunately, their customer service was terrible when I called in to cancel service due to blackouts.  However, the fact that they sent me an email saying happy birthday actually impresses me.

There are tens of companies that have my personal information, but as of yet, they were the only ones to send an email.  It’s an automated thing, there’s no real human effort other than setting up the script.  But it’s a good chance to get in front of someone for an altruistic reason.  The fact that they went to the effort shows that someone is thinking about how to engage folks.

Companies like the NBA have so much going for them–a product that people are incredibly passionate about, some of the most popular athletes in the world representing their brand on a daily basis.  Aspired to by millions.  Historic.  It’s amazing to think about.  My big gripe with the NBA is not being able to watch Twolves games without buying cable.  HBO is now making their product available for $15 per month–they believe their content is good enough to warrant that, and if they keep producing stuff like Game of Thrones, I’d agree.

The NBA/NFL/NHL/MLB all have content that’s BETTER than HBO.  It’s live.  It’s near religion for some folks.  I think those companies are some of the biggest reasons why people haven’t gotten rid of cable entirely.  They really have the opportunity to build a subscription system that’s more powerful than the traditional networks now.  Hopefully they do.

Birthdays are actually a really good reason to reach out to your customers, mostly to say thanks for being a customer.  The NBA.com email gave me a 10% coupon for their store–I probably won’t use it, but I do appreciate it.

Emoji And A Movement From Written Communication

My iPad recently updated with a new keyboard which contains tens of emoji.  More and more, you see emoji used in place of text, much in the way that emoticons were used in place of text in the last few decades.  This seems like a logical next step, but it does open up questions about how current and future generations adapt.

Emoji is one phenomenon, pictures are another.  I speak with Teresa occasionally about what kids are doing for communication on social media.

“They don’t use Facebook.  They spend most of their time on Snapchat and Twitter.”

I find that fascinating as Twitter is my main social media outlet (outside this blog, which is basically a broadcast channel off purposefully off the beaten path) and I wouldn’t expect it to be that popular with younger folks, it’s mostly news to me.  My assumption is that they use it for interaction much more.

Snapchat interests me greatly however.  The movement from written communication to photos is a fundamental shift, and although traditional advertising has used it as a tactic to elicit attention, it has never been the predominant way of interpersonal communication for most folks.  We absolutely send photos, and have done so for many years, but for it to take over as the primary means will hold big implications for marketers.

Pictures alone do not provide context to outside parties.  To my knowledge, pictures cannot be analyzed in the same way that purchases, searches, emails and other activity can.  The ethical nature of analyzing such activities aside, if all people were to begin communicating through pictures and video, companies will try to pile on in ways that make sense.  You see it today, so many companies are creating content in Instagram and other mediums in the same vein.

I am a big Twolves fan, and if you watch their Twitter account, you can see that they are moving towards a younger audience.  Many of their posts are simply one word followed by emoji, or funny gifs meant to connote happenings in the game.  This is all contextual and shows that they are adapting to the new mediums–it’s a good thing.  It also creates a brand moxie that shows end customers how they view the world.  More brands need to show their personality in the same way.

All said, the movement toward fewer words in marketing is likely a necessary adaptation.  Though I personally enjoy writing and to a lesser extent reading, I’d highly advocate digging into your core audience’s communication types and building content that embraces it in a way that makes sense.

Spring Cleaning

We had zero plans this weekend, which was fantastic as last weekend was an “ass kicker” of momentous proportions.  So faced with hours of open time and no plans, we got busy cleaning out the house.  We dropped off a HUGE amount of excess clothing and other stuff at Goodwill Easter Seals (who I’ve done consulting for and love btw.)  If you’re looking for a good place and cause to rid your self of excess materials, consider GWES–they help people develop real skills and acquire long term work.  Also they make it very easy with drive up donation spots and their people are always kind.  In addition to that, Teresa was ruthless about cleaning out other areas and now we’re going to sell a lot of other things that have been laying around the house at our friends garage sale in two weeks.

Since we’d cleared out so many things, it made sense to get some cleaning too.  Yesterday we rented a carpet cleaner and went over our guest bedroom and downstairs carpets.  Everything is smelling much better.  Of course, Stella just had to spoil things by having an accident immediately after the cleaning this morning, but it was cleaned up and all is right again.

For my birthday, Teresa purchased me a very nice Milwaukee drill and impact driver set.  I had an old Black and Decker drill the last five years, which got me buy but was really poor.  The battery would drain quickly and became pretty much useless.  I’m excited to get to work with the new drill.  The project?  I’m going to rebuild our garden, which looks pretty crumby at this point, with all new treated timbers and a nice water seal paint.  Next year we’d like to rebuild our deck as well, no shortage of projects for a good drill.

After that, it’s time to get to business work, the next two weeks are going to be packed with launch work.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

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