40 posts categorized "social media"

February 29, 2008

Everyday Women at LivingOprah.com

Blogging is such a riot. Yesterday a blog buddy told me about www.livingoprah.com; I included the blog in yesterday's post and questioned whether it was real or not. The author of LivingOprah (who prefers to remain anonymous and be representative of "everyday women") saw my post and sent me an email confirming that she has nothing to do with Oprah or Harpo Productions and doesn't want to. She chose Oprah for her experiment only because Oprah is holistic in scope and covering all topics and not just food or entertainment or politics.

Intrigued, I asked Ms. Everyday if she would agree to an interview and she said yes, only if I continue to keep her name/number out of it.

Here's the scoop - without giving too much of her background away, years ago she worked in an ad agency as a graphic designer. One day the agency wanted her to work on a Philip Morris account, that's when her values kicked it and she quit.  Since then, she's been self-employed, making a 1/4 of what she earned before and is wildly happy.

At one time, she was also part of a performance art group which explored the roles of "Social Gurus." She played the role of the modern day guru providing answers for the masses. In this latest incarnation, she decided to explore the "masses" side of the guru equation. (I was getting flashbacks of "Illusions" by Richard Bach.)

"To be clear," she said, "the purpose isn't to say what's right or wrong about Oprah, it's about exploring the mindset of those, including myself, who look to others for answers. I was curious to see what it would be like to give 100% of myself over to one program, per se, and see what happens."

She started on Dec. 31, 2007 and wants to go until to Dec. 31, 2008. With a nod to Dr. Phil I had to ask, "How's that working for you"?

"I'm finding it exhausting, I thought I could compartmentalize it more, but I can't do it. She is everywhere in my world... there is always something Oprah going on". [then Ms. Everyday commented that the library lobby she was sitting in had a copy of Red Eye with Oprah's picture on the front] "Sometimes I feel resentful, but I remind myself that it's my choice. I'll admit I do feel more self-conscious than I have before. I'm constantly judging myself and think about what I'm wearing or eating or am I truly taking the moment and being as happy as I should be. The self-centerness is exhausting. I have to say, only two months in... I felt more relaxed before doing it, more at ease. It's hard work."

We discussed that last statement and decided that maybe it was hard work because it wasn't yet ingrained into a lifestyle. It's like cooking with or without a recipe. It's harder to follow directions than it is to chop and cook. Ms. Everyday also acknowledged that there was a strange freedom in being told what to do. "like the book club, I don't have to read reviews, she makes some choices for me."

Ms. Everyday admits she has been in Oprah's audience before. She lives in Chicago and admires what Oprah does and how she is a self-made woman."I'm just trying to be as open about it as possible without trying to offend anyone," she told me, "It's not about Oprah, it's about us."

February 28, 2008

What Will Oprah Do to NOT Blow her Brand?

What will Oprah do when the consumption lights fully light up and she has to take a stand and promote only Sustainable products or blow her brand? What's her brand? Oprah Cares. Why might she blow it? Because you can't do right by the world and promote billions of dollars of non-sustainable stuff in the same space - at the same time.

On yesterday's show, Oprah covered the art of Freegan Living with Lisa Ling. (love Lisa's reporting style) Freegan Living takes dumpster diving to a new level - those who can afford to buy anything, yet choose to obtain most of their day-to-day stuff from dumpsters.

It was an important show for many iconic reasons:

  1. It demonstrated how wasteful we are as a society.
  2. Oprah acknowledged the irony of hosting this topic and then cutting to a commercial where someone was going to sell you something.
  3. It introduced the concept that LESS (much less) is "more living" for the society. That concept is being amplified through all the other Green sites.

Then this morning, I'm exchanging emails with Jason from Scream to be Green, and he tells me about LivingOprah. (thanks Jason) Turns out it's a performing artist in Chicago. She decided to try to live the Oprah life at it is featured each week because the culture is Oprah and Oprah is the culture. It's a brilliant concept, kudos for the idea. There is no way to contact the "artist" however, so for all I know it could be one, big setup by Harpo Productions to glean information. There's a survey on the site that asks if you subscribe to Oprah's magazines or not. (hey, I'm a born again skeptic) [Correction: the artist saw this post and assured me, that Harpo has nothing to do with it, and she put up a way to contact her.]

GarbageTwo minutes later, I'm skyping my husband who is working in Naples, Italy and he's describing the ever-present trash in the city. "There is smoke in my hotel room everyday with the smell of burning trash... smells mostly of plastic." Then he described his weekend boat trip to a nearby island. "the boat went through layers of junk, mostly plastic, you could hear it scraping on the side of the boat."

Wow, so much for the amore of Italy. Pretty disgusting. You hear that and it sure doesn't make you want to run to the mall and buy more junk and carry it home in a plastic bag. It doesn't even make me want to be on Oprah's Favorite Things show, the hottest ticket of the year and a show that can make or break an emerging business.

Which brings me to my final point...

I have a big favor to ask you Oprah, since you are culture and culture is you, could you do us all a favor and have a show dedicated to Sustainable Standards? We need a big name consumer champion to keep Wal Mart and other big box stores on track. Educate your world of women and you can single handedly set off a market transformation. Don't talk about green, talk about products and processes that can prove they don't put dioxins in our air, or chemicals into our children and most of all CO2 in the atmosphere. The White House doesn't control the world of consumer consumption - YOU DO.

Here's my wish list line up:

  • EcoMom Alliance (they are probably already on Oprah's radar after the NY Times article)
  • Big Green Purse (Diane MacEachern's scientific and pragmatic approach to shifting buying dollars from pollution to solution - the book and the site)
  • Annie Leonard (her Story of Stuff explains the problem in everyday language)
  • Mike Italiano (SMaRT the solution)  (Sustainable Material Rating Technology, it takes away the problem by providing a standard that is ethical, accountable and greenwash free. Consumers want truth and investors need quanitfied proof.

That's a show in itself right there. Will Oprah do it? It's a VERY scary move for  her economically if she did. She's in the same place the big chains are in, she's a promoter of goods and has to make a living while promoting the very things that cause her female viewers problems. That's not good, but I believe in Oprah. More than not wanting to break her brand, she understands that you either "stand for something or stand for nothing." She keeps saying how she doesn't need the money. This one move would prove that beyond a doubt and set off a tipping point for social change like the world has never seen.

September 28, 2007

Why Women Bloggers can do what Washington can't

After reading Emily and Cooper's great post on the Clinton Initiative yesterday, I’m becoming more convinced that we are the ones the world has been waiting for to kick start climate change – women bloggers. Al Gore suggested that bigger dream:

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We have to go far quickly, and need a mass persuasion campaign to change the climate of public opinion on climate change."

It's interesting that Al said we need a "Marshall Plan" to get this going because he knows that his mass persuasion campaign isn't working beyond creating awareness. Awareness isn't changing into tangible action, not fast enough anyway. And, he's lock-stepped into thinking that politics will set us free. Will it? If so, where's the leadership now?

If you believe the numbers, that we need to get 80% of the CO2 out of the "global" air before things stabilize, you know it will take citizens and corporations alike working on it. How can that happen when governments keep worrying about the seating chart? I keep www.enn.com as my home page. It's frustrating to read about the reality gaps between hopeful and helpful ideas. Meanwhile the climate change clock is ticking.

Let's compare politics with a new idea, and then let's talk about our own Marshall Blogging Plan.

You could lobby for presidential hopefuls to get them into office (2 years). Then send buckets of email and money to Washington get them to put up bills (6 months). Keep sending email to fence-sitters in hopes that they reconsider a vote (3 months). Only to end up with one, watered down incentive to tell business to cut their CO2 emissions? 


Support businesses and products that are already bringing down the greenhouse gases and can prove it, and set off a tipping point for Sustainable change. If you read through the stories on www.ENN.com you'll see a pattern of governments "discussing" and companies "doing." Let's work with the doers.

What would happen if we by-passed this DC middleland? Why tell someone-to-tell-someone-to-tell-someone to clean up their act and eat up years of climate-changing time when we can vote with our purse or our posts and help the market flip with a lot less work?

The good part? It flips the WHOLE world. Laws stop at border lines, corporations and products don't.

By letting Sustainable Standards set the guidelines, we'll accomplish many things at once. The top one being that standards trigger lower energy consumption during manufacturing operations and encourage the use of renewable energy. As more companies back the movement, the technology grows and that comes back to each of us. In five years we could be paying less for energy than today. Technology works faster when supply meets demand. Let's supply them incentives rather than yelling demands. Isn't that more fun than whacking them with a lawsuit after the fact, which just eats up even more years?

The better part? No one will wonder "where the women bloggers are," companies will seek us.

They'll want free word-of-mouth endorsements. And you know what? If we're smart, we'll give it to them. Why? Because it builds both of our markets. They need a consumer market to kick start new, sustainable products, and we need a way to prove to these brave souls that working with blogging women (as a media) is not only fun but a more effective way to market in a social media world. Women represent over 80% of the consumer market. Perhaps it’s time to use that clout for transformational good.

Are you still with me? Here's how simply this can work.

As products become certified as sustainable, that product is acknowledged from bloggers who want to participate. Diane MacEachern will let us know which products to champion over at www.BigGreenPurse.com. This isn't a product endorsement, per se, it's a recognition of a company's efforts to put out a Sustainable product. This is one step beyond the Big Green Purse million women mission. Many of us are already doing the green consumer work; by pulling the work together, we can get the public credit that's due for our efforts. All you have to do is sign up and we'll keep you in the loop.

A sustainable product not only promotes renewable energy, but provides cleaner air, soil, water and keeps 1300 nasty chemicals out of the system AND supports global worker's rights. What's not to love? A cleaner, nicer planet that by-passes politics and creates a social media marketplace. Once companies know that bloggers are actually very nice to work with, they'll feel better about placing paid ad space and continue the relationship.

But wait - there's more... Tom Friedman noted, this is an "Environmental Revolution," which means it's going to be painful and some companies will die. By supporting these early adopters, we can the lower transitional pain and help companies thrive. This program does both, creating a sustainable world and a sustainable economy.

Ok, I'm an idealist, but ya know. We're running out of options.

Everyone is talking, but no one is trying anything new. It's the same old song and frankly, we're all tuning it out. Climate Change as a topic is as exciting as "Got Milk"? It's just another thing - a big, bad scary thing at that. And the truth is, even if we recycled our entire home, the big, bad scary thing would still be there in our factories.

This is the moment to start, and here's why.

If you were a CEO of a company and was just told by Wal-Mart that your products must be sustainable, wouldn't you work EVEN FASTER if you knew that there will be a willing audience to give you positive word-of-mouth on the web for your efforts? (BTW that's exactly what will be happening on Oct. 10th at Wal-Mart's Sustainable Resource Fair, about 1000 of their 62,000 suppliers will be introduced to the world of Sustainability - not just green - but SUSTAINABLE in a “prove it” sort of way.)

Now, before you hog tie me into a Wal-Mart shopping cart and leave me adrift in the parking lot for the crows to pick clean, let me explain.

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of any big box stores. I think they strip society of its soul. That said, I've joined the converted when Wal-Mart gave the world this gift of "manufacturing peer pressure." If anyone can influence China, it's Wal-Mart.  If anyone can influence Wal-Mart's vendors, it's us - women consumers. Imagine the ripple effect around the world without one law being used except the law of market pressure, kept honest with a Sustainable Standard. (trust, but verify)

The faster this market flips, the faster we can go back to shopping trips instead of guilt trips. Can shopping/posting save the world? If it creates a tipping point for action it can. Marketers say it only takes 1% of a given population to create a tipping point. If that 1% were also bloggers, it may take less.

I'll leave you with one last reason Why Women Bloggers can do what Washington can't. If you stacked up the financials of the biggest companies and countries, 77 of the top 100 are corporations. That power structure isn't going to change in the next five years. The majority of them make their money from consumer goods and services. The supply chain of their products is what is causing global warming.

Ladies, this is very doable. By the time we get a new President, s/he won't have to answer to the question, "Why can't you clean up your own country first"? We'll be well on our way thanks to women bloggers.

Are you in? Go to www.biggreenpurse.com and become One in a Million Women. It costs nothing to be part of this very large experiment where women consumers rule.  As products become certified, we’ll show you why they are Sustainable and what to look for in other products. We'll eliminate the greenwash. Then, keep supporting the good guys on BlogHer and in your own blogs when they advertise. Capitalism is just another social "system" with money attached. Let's leverage it to co-create, as Diane says, "The World Women Want."

August 30, 2007

Ecolutionary Selling: Taking the confusion out of Sustainable Furniture Marketing

Ecolutionary_selling_2Warning: Shameless plug ahead...  Marketers pay attention. Citizens-at-large, pay attention too as ultimately this affects all of us.

I've been working with Channel Logic for the past few months which brought me in contact with the Sustainable Furniture Council. During that time it became very clear that no one had a handle on what Sustainability means - not the manufacturers, distributors, retailers, sales people or customers.

The result was Ecolutionary Selling. It's a simple little E-Book primer on Sustainability for the Furniture industry, although 80% of it applies to all products. We're facing an Ecolution for ECOnomics and for ECOlogy, both must evolve together and FAST. Without ECOnomics of sales, the green market and society won't make the turn. Without making the turn with REAL Sustainability at its foundation, we're in deep trouble. Up until now, sales were made at any cost including the cost of the planet's water, air, earth and now atmosphere. Those wasteful ways are over.

For the first time we HAVE to have truth in green advertising and be able to converse with others in the same new language. To say that you're sustainable or make claims that you can't prove is unlawful in the U.S. at best and horrible when taken to the court of public opinion.

That's what just happened to Woolsworth in Australia. The sin? Their toilet paper claimed to be eco-friendly and it wasn't. In fact it was made from illegally harvested wood. No big deal except that illegally harvested wood and the industries it feeds accounts for 30% of the CO2 going into the air. The same issues are true for furniture which is largely made of wood. ( Ecolutionary Selling has a freebie paper on LCAs and Sustainable Standards.)

The other part of the story? IT HAPPENED IN AUSTRALIA and that story is whipping around the marketing world. Lesson learned? Get certified as Sustainable and stay certified. There is no where to hide from bad press and now the Woolsworth toilet paper story is etched into the Internet cave wall as well. I know I'll use it again as an example, how about you?

By the way, I did a little secret shopping as part of the research for the E-Book, this is one of the conversations I had at a major furniture chain store. (I swear I'm not making this up.)

ME: Do you have any green or sustainable furniture?
SALES PERSON: We have some chairs covered in micro-fiber. They're pretty durable.
ME: No, I mean green, eco-friendly stuff.
SALES PERSON: Nope. The only only one that comes close to green is this teal chair.

ME: We aren't communicating. I meant environmentally friendly and something that isn't going to harm the planet if I buy it.
SALES PERSON: Oh, we don't have anything like that, but maybe the store across the parking lot would.

I'm working for the day when:
A) they can show me samples without hesitation.
B) the day when Sustainable Products will be so ingrained that we won't have to ask for them, everything will be Sustainable.

Until then, go to www.biggreenpurse.com and sign up for the $1000 pledge to swap brown buying for green buying. That means you too, marketers. You're citizens of this planet as well.

August 18, 2007

Gather the Women Bloggers

Did you catch Toby Bloomberg's post on the top women bloggers last Thursday? Be sure to read it for an idea of how fast women can self organize.I understand that "the list" is being passed around the globe and names are being added as fast as it can be forwarded.

I'm honored to have "In Women We Trust" included, but more excited for the women who are adding their voice to the list without hesitation. What goes around, comes around. I can't wait to see how many have come around by the time this list finds a home.

I try to teach one woman a month how to get a blog up and running. It's fun to see them go from apprehensive to gutsy to opinionated. It doesn't take long. That's the beauty of blogging, the more you write, the more you remember what you stand for and what you're willing to let go.

It wasn't that long ago when the Internet wasn't available to the masses. I can't imagine going back to those days. How stifling to have all those ideas and voices (men and women) penned up waiting for permission to speak.

What's your passion? Get a Blog and tell the world. And if "the list" is forwarded to you, be sure to add your name.

August 04, 2007

Back to BlogHer 07 and VERY Social Media

Liz_sabotar Unlike Vegas, what goes on at a BlogHer never stays at BlogHer, it only begins.

What happens at these little gatherings some men may ask? TALK! Lots and lots of talk filled with ideas and inspiration or just being goofy. I was amazed at how fast conversation went from "Hi" to "Deep." These are women with backbone and opinions - some long held, others just formed over cocktails. One thing is for sure, they aren't waiting for anyone to give them permission to speak freely. Pier_review_2

I didn't set out to be a card collector, but as I look over this stack I'm stunned at how many insightful women I intersected with. No wonder I came away so energized. The pile doesn't begin to cover it all because there were many like Yvonne and Susan that I already knew and therefore don't have their cards. And, there were many, MANY more that I never asked for because we were having too good of a time wining and dining.Wining

Men reading this might be a bit shocked to see this list. After all, it was only a two day conference with a few side events. On top of it, this wasn't for business networking, just to visit other people who have blogging as core means of communicating.

Just for fun, I thought I'd list every card in my collection of serendipitous meetings. Before I do, however, I'd like to thank all the women of BlogHer for putting on a spectacular event that was women friendly at every touch point. Business could learn a lot from you. Special praise goes to Kristy who has mastered the art of heading cats and keeping the logistics in order.

And now - the list. I just grabbed off the URLs given. Each of you gave me so much more to take home besides a card. Thank you for your energy and contributions to a more open society. Kristy

























































July 18, 2007

The Diva Debuts with a "Must Listen" on Business Blogging, Ethics and Personal Style

Boa slinging Toby Bloomberg made her BlogRadio debut last night with her show "Diva Marketing Talks" I missed it. (rats) My blogfeeder didn't flag it until a day later. BUT because it was a recorded Radio blogcast I was able to listen to it while finishing up on other deadline work this morning.

I'll be listening and linking to it again. It was loaded with all the things you wished you knew before you started your first blog.

Toby's guests were Jeneane Sessum and Wayne Hurlbert, both influential bloggers in their own spaces. It was nice to hear all three voices of experience chiming in. The number one thing from Jeneane was "be yourself." That's so much harder than it sounds, but the three of them provide all guidelines needed for any "self" to flourish.

Toby is a perfect fit for this venue. Her soft, even manner will put any guest at ease. Soft spoken doesn't mean soft ideas, however, I expect Toby will be shaking up the blogging business world in talk shows to come. By the way, Toby keeps her face hidden on her blog, but you'll see her on the BlogRadio connection.

Congrats Toby.

June 01, 2007

INSIDE BlogHer with Lisa Stone, President, Operations and Evangelism

Lisa_stone_2What is the sound of 1000 women blogging? We'll find out on July 27th on Chicago's Navy Pier. As one of BlogHer's three founders, Lisa Stone gave me an indication of what's set for the summer meeting. At the same time, she provides tips for companies now turning to bloggers for word of mouth advertising.

MARY: Companies are trying to understand the women's market as well as social media. As a mega blogger and also a moderator of the BlogHer Ad network; what key issues perk to the top of conversations over and over. What can companies learn from them if they want to be best friends with these outspoken women?

LISA: What do women online want from companies? I recommend that companies ask, don't tell. Companies who want to establish great relationships with women online will spend most of their time listening.

Effective companies will appreciate -- or be willing to learn -- that women who blog don't fit a single stereotype by subject or budget. The 9,000-plus blogs in BlogHer's growing blog directory are proof that women are writing about everything under the sun. Successful companies will also restrain themselves from SPAMing women online with commercial messages we didn't ask for. Instead, I recommend any enterprise -- from media initiatives to consumer products -- directly support bloggers and what interests us. Sponsor our blogs. Be respectful about the types of advertising you bring to blogs (hit the monkey? no thanks). Ask us to join your conversation on a blog too. Just be sure to tell online consumers:
Who you are
What you're doing
Why you're doing it

Transparency is the key to the social media queendom. And because women are the power users of Web 2.0, I use that term deliberately.

Mary, thanks but I don't deserve the compliment. BlogHer is now a full-fledged start-up and my work with Elisa Camahort, Jory Des Jardins and the entire community keeps me from writing as often as I'd like. These days I'm more of a mega-commenter! I look forward to writing more soon.

MARY: I have to commend BlogHer for having a code of conduct before anyone else. The code, loose that it is, helps new bloggers understand what's expected without denying them their free speech. Now that the Kathy Sierra story has had time to settle, do you think bloggers at large will become kinder or be more angry? Will there always be a need for a sanctuary, like BlogHer for women to gather and share ideas?

LISA: We launched our community hub on January 30, 2006 with the existing Community Guidelines in place. Our decision to do so was very deliberate: We wanted to create a place where women who blog could mix it up, but without having to deal with speech that is abusive, threatening or harassing. We felt we owed that to the community. We also ban plagiarism, libel and if anyone uses our site to violate some third party's privacy, that is unacceptable. The guidelines have served us well, and we believe that every blogger and every site has the right to set policies for their own site and community, and only that community can come up with the guidelines that are appropriate. That's why I don't think one-size-fits-all guidelines cannot be determined or enforced by an outside force.

I'd like to point out, though, that what happened to Kathy, while not an isolated incident online, reflects a microcosm of society -- not the blogosphere. Every medium has been used for hate speech and violence against women in particular.  Look at what happened when humans developed the printing press: First, we printed the bible. Next, we printed pornography. Bottom line: Blogs are a tool, and the media produced by bloggers will be as diverse as human conversation. Some of it is precious, some of it is garbage. I personally love the diversity available in free expression.

MARY: In that same theme - on your personal blog, you quote Gail Sheehy, "Women's liberation is not the end...it is the beginning of a lot of work. There is a whole world out there that needs to be totally transformed so that women and men can create, desire, build and play..." How do you see BlogHer transforming the world? Will BlogHer try to unify the voices say, on global warming? Or, in the self organizing nature of the blogosphere, would you ever survey all BlogHer members to get their psychographic profile? It crosses the line of letting individuals be individuals, but it also would show what their collective conscious looks like.

LISA: Absolutely. In fact, in time for BlogHer '07, we're working on a project to galvanize and support BlogHers who want to work together to transform the world. The combination of committed women and social media tools is pretty powerful, as many women in this community have proven! But we need a few more weeks before we can say anything else.

Indeed, we do survey our community, our conference attendees, our editors, our ad network members often, to try to get a pulse for where the community wants to lead us. That certainly doesn't mean we all agree...far from it, women who blog span the spectrum of ideologies on every subject...but we believe very strongly in "Don't tell, ask" as the way to get a clearer picture of what our community wants. We maintain this philosophy whether building conference programing or choosing public service announcements to run on the BlogHer Ad Network. And not every member wants all of those things, so we create a lot of different opportunities, and let the individual BlogHer choose which to pursue. BlogHer's Mission is to create opportunities for women bloggers to pursue education, exposure, community and economic empowerment.

MARY: While women bloggers have different interests, they all buy stuff. Do you think the women bloggers know how much power they  have in the market when they blog pro or con about a company? Do you do give an orientation to your BlogAd network when they join?

LISA: Women who blog are becoming much more aware of their power as influential consumers, mostly because they're being approached by companies on a regular basis. The primary guideline we give to our BlogHer Ad Network members is that they absolutely cannot accept money or merchandise in exchange for a blog post (whether positive or negative). Our commitment to our advertisers includes assuring them that their ad won't be appearing on what is, essentially, another ad. There are lot of advertorial opportunities available to bloggers right now, and we pride ourselves on making it quite clear where the lines are drawn between advertising and editorial on all of our member blogs.

MARY: BlogHer started as a way to connect like minded women and get their words posted on the Internet cave wall. Last year you had 4000 members, this year you're topping 9,000. How do you hope to keep the spirit of connectiveness alive? How do you envision BlogHer's direction (and maybe purpose) going forward? Any more formal women-helping-women things like what you offered for first time bloggers last year?

LISA: I think my partner Elisa Camahort said it best in 2005, when she described our first BlogHer conference as "the conference the community built." We work every day to embody that spirit. Our goal is to continue to be the best listeners we can be, so that we can use community feedback to shape BlogHer's priorities. We've been listening hard this spring, and that's why we're at work on a redesign of the BlogHer Community Hub and we're planning to re-open BlogHer's Ad Network to new subscribers this summer. We're also eager to dig into this activism initiative and continue to advocate for women, online and off. BlogHer started as a labor of love -- and now that we're two quarters into our third year, with three community-driven businesses designed to raise the profile of women who blog, we feel we're only just beginning.

MARY:  I'm looking forward to this July's meeting on Chicago's Navy Pier. How are you going to top last summer's gathering in San Jose?

LISA: That, Mary, will be up to BlogHer attendees! BlogHer's conferences are what the attendees make them -- and I anticipate great things from BlogHer '07. Here's a taster for Day One and Day Two. Every year our attendees make us smarter, giving us feedback that leads us to add more content and add nuance about how we present it. This year our technical track is going to be more gloriously geeky, featuring hands-on lab segments on Day Two such as Food Photography. We're also providing professional training that bloggers have asked for, such as media training for television and print interviews, and speaker training. And of course, with November 2008 less than 18 months away, our Politics track is going to focus on action...particularly on how to get more women voting, and how to get politicians and the media talking more about the issues women care about, regardless of their ideological stripe, such as the environment, healthcare and Iraq. We continue to bring new voices to BlogHer, and we have a lot left to announce, including some really exciting activities. It's summer by the lakeshore in Chicago; frankly, the better question might be: how will we top it next year!

MARY: I have no doubt you will top it next year for the very reason you gave earlier, you "ask, members what they want to do next, vs. telling them."

See you in a month!

May 01, 2007

Women and Transparency Tyranny

Transparency_tyranny May Day, MAY DAY! That's what sellers will be screaming after reading Trendwatching's Transparency Tyranny. This is a "must read" for marketers and a MUST READ MORE by consumers - especially WOMEN consumers who buy 80% of the stuff out there. Ladies, embrace your power!

The Trendwatching article captures much of what we in the marketing-to-women and word-of-mouth market have been saying for sometime. It's very nicely packaged with great examples and visuals which makes it enlightening for consumers of any age.

Here are the 7 talking points:

1. Transparency in reviews and recommendations

2. Transparency in intentions

3. Transparency in prices

4. Transparency in inner company workings

5. Transparency in advice

6. Transparency in best of the best

7. Transparency in triumph

Not only does this give women ideas on how to best take a product to task or triumph, it also provides solid reasons why companies who want to look green, become GREEN in the most transparent way.

This is why those sustainable standards, I keep harping on, need to become part of marketing backbone and message. Doing so protects both the consumer from lousy products that continue to maim our world, and those same standards also protect the companies from Transparency Tyranny. They'll have all the proof they'll need to show that they are in full compliance and doing the right, green thing.

Happy May Day, ladies. It's your time to shine and take back the market. You don't even have to buy anything, just blog about what works for you. In women I trust to make the right decisions and promote the right products.


April 26, 2007

"900 Car Dealers ASK PATTY How to Become More Female-Friendly

Jody_devere I first met Jody DeVere, the President of Ask Patty, a year ago. I joked that I'll know when this "Marketing to Women" thing is working if car sales people become female-friendly. Thanks to Jody and thousands of her new best friends, the car industry is turning in the right direction. Over 900 dealers are interested in learning how to better serve women customers. Thank YOU "Patty"! (Patty, by the way, is a persona for all women)
If anyone knows cars and women, it's Jody. She is the President of the Woman’s Automotive Association International, the premier women’s organization for women automotive professionals, a member of the Car Care Council Women's Board, a member of the California State Advisory Board for SkillsUSA, Chairperson of the United Spinal Motor Sports Committee, and a member of the SEMA Businesswomen's Networking Association
Askpatty_logo She launched Ask Patty  May 21, 2006 as a way to help  women through their car buying and servicing angst.  The site started as a blog with a few links to experts who could answer questions. It's gone from a handful of women logging onto the site, to thousands coming through daily. Traffic has been increasing by 40% each month.
Some of the new traffic comes from word of mouth or promotions, but most of it comes from having excellent user-friendly and useful content. If you haven't visited recently, besides answers to your most car challenging questions, you'll find:
My Car Page. Log in your car and Ask Patty will send you reminders on when to get your car serviced based on manufacturer recommendations.  Jody told me, "Those recommendations really are mandatory for the car. Even if you don't drive it often, oil still breaks down, parts dry out and wheels start going flat."

Find Your Dream Car (without the pain and suffering shopping clause) Women can configure exactly what they want in a car and send out a Request For Quote. That puts them in the purchasing driver's seat.

• A $50,000 automotive Shopping spree. Is a new car out of your price range? Until July, you can take a chance at being able to pay cash for that dream car. [Did I fill out the form? You bet!]

• Ask Patty has a Second Life. If you're not one of the 5 million people who are already part of Second Life's virtual world, click here to be teleported inside. (You'll have to create your own fake version of yourself before being able to virtually walk around, but that's the fun of it.)
Out of all the offerings, what has the most traffic?
"About 80% of our questions are on repair and service issues," say Jody. "Women are coming in for reassurance that they are doing the right thing. We're more of a third base coach in that respect.  The second most popular spot are the Frequently Asked Questions section. We're not a complaint site," she stressed, " we're a problem solving site. Dealers need to grow in how they in how to better serve women, but women need to learn how to take better care of their cars as well. They can't ignore regular maintenance and then blame the dealership when things break down."
What about the green issues. Is Ask Patty tracking them? "I'm impressed with what GM is doing," Jody responded, "They just brought in Beth Lowery as the VP of Environment and Energy.  She's responsible for everything up and down the food chain and GM's dedicated a whole site to the sustainable movement." [That means that not only is the car "green" but they are working at making the entire system for producing that car sustainable.]
What's down the road for Ask Patty?
"This summer we're  launching a feature for employment in the Auto industry. We've partnered with auto schools and universities and also dealerships," says Jody. "Jobs in the car industry are good, high paying jobs and with the increase in women buying car related service, women are also sought after as new hires." [73% of the people going through Service are women] 
She continued, "These 2-year, vocational programs are a great place to start an automotive career, whether it's on the tech side, sales or management. A master tech in LA can make over $100,000 without doing the heavy lifting. Cars are getting less greasy and more computerized."
Jody’s been a busy women. All that in less than a year because she knows how to leverage the power of women sincerely helping women in the marketplace. With her leadership, she is helping women, change products, change services and literally change the world.
What are the take aways from this?
1. If you're a women getting ready to buy a car, everything you will ever need to know going in and going forward is available to you on Ask Patty. You'll never have to wonder if you made the right decision.
2. If you're a marketer in a traditional field and wondering how to break into Social Media, follow Jody's lead. Get out there and mix with women's groups. Never dismiss any individual woman as being too "small" to talk to, you’ll never know who they know or what they'll write on their blog.
3. If car sales people are throwing away the plaid suit coat stigma, what is your company's sales force willing to do to earn the trust of their women customers?

In Jody We Trust!