Oct 12, 2006

What I learnt at M-Squared

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the third, M-squared conference hosted by Influx Insights a division of Butler, Shine Stern & Partners. The speakers were Josh Quittner,editor of Business 2.0, Jim McDowell the VP of BMW/MINI, Michela O'Connor Abrams the president and publisher Dwell, Jennifer Leonard, the co-author of massive Change from IDEO, Chip Conley from Joie de Vivre Hospitality,Jim Riswold, a former Creative Director from Weiden Kennedy and John Battelle of Federated Media.

Josh Quittner: Editor, Business 2.0 emphasized the power of blogs and journalism. We've all seen how GigaOm went from a solo blogger to a funded venture with a team of editorial contributors. He know persuades his team to maintain personal blogs and retrieves feeds for the main B2day blog. In essence he makes sure that the the content (which at times is tweaked) reflects the essence of the brand.

While Jim McDowell, pointed out that getting to know the customer was more important than market research and how Mini built an engaging, emotional and accessible brand.

Michela O'Connor Abrams shared how the idea of Dwell magazine was born and grown in the past 5 years by connecting, resonating with its readers, the design seekers.

Jennifer Leonard, the co-author of Massive Change and works at IDEO spoke about how design is changing the world. I especially enjoyed her presentation as it touched upon the promise and power of design in improving the welfare of humanity. I grew up in one of the worlds poorest nations, India (not the one you think is getting wealthy with outsourcing) and studied at a design institute which ensures its graduates are compassionate and responsible in their methodology utilizing sustainable resources, that too me is design and not what the Western world at time thinks they can purchase at Target.

Chip Conley
of Joie De Vivre, explained that its not about selling predictability at his chain of boutique hotels but about creating experiences. He uses magazines to describe every hotel, for example the Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco is in essence the Rolling Stone magazine. He also introduced me to the world of Maslow and Yvette their hotel matchmaker.

Jim Riswold's presentation was funny, emotional, heart breaking, courageous, daring and shall I say he is a brave fine artist. I loved his presentation, no matter what the world thinks.

And lastly, John Battelle of Federated Media talked about permission marketing and how much he disliked those dinosaur ads from Microsoft on Wired.com that he asked his writers to create copy for the banner ads, which fared 60% better than the agency created ones. He also emphasized that employing the customer to build your product by engaging them and allowing them to interact creatively.

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