Monday, March 29, 2010

Are you "butlering" your brand?

Another great one from Trendwatching. Reading the whole thing is best, but the snippets below will help you gain a basic understanding.

Trendwatching advises organizations to get started on this Right Now

via by on 3/24/10

BRAND BUTLERS With pragmatic, convenience-loving consumers enjoying instant access to an ever-growing number of supporting services and tools (both offline and online), brands urgently need to hone their 'butlering skills'*, focusing on assisting consumers to make the most of their daily lives, versus the old model of selling them a lifestyle if not identity.

  • time, convenience, control and independence are the new currencies, a shift from 'broadcasting' to assisting.

  • Relationships with brands are now more down to earth and less reverential. From individualism to eco-concerns to decreased spending power in developed economies: for consumers, the practical and pragmatic rule.

  • there's also a consumer longing for institutions that truly 'care' (please re-read our GENERATION G briefing), which is more about showing empathy and providing customers with a status fix

  • On top of all of the above, the current mobile online revolution (hey, it took more than a decade of breathless predictions, but mobile internet usage is now finally exploding around the globe) is shifting these consumer expectations even further into the always-on, instant gratification online arena. (please re-read our NOWISM briefing). For brands, this means that there are now endless creative and cost-effective ways to deliver on this need for assistance, for 'butlers'

ideal ‘BRAND BUTLER OMNIPRESENCE' would be a mix of (discreetly) being there when customers want you to be there, and pleasantly surprising them with your presence when they least expect it.


It should come as no surprise that apps, whether for iPhones, Blackberries, or Android devices, offer a quick route to deliver BRAND BUTLER services: offering useful, (semi-) branded content, residing on consumers' online devices is a marriage made in heaven.

Oh, and you obviously don't have to develop everything yourself: why not partner (or acquire) one of the many third-party apps already out there. Just one example: L'OREAL recently teamed up with Vanity Fair's Hollywood app to offer consumers tools to organize their Oscar night voting pools, as well as offering live results and exclusive Vanity Fair content.So... time to scan the iPhone App Store, Google’s Android Market, and Blackberry's App World.


One popular offline BRAND BUTLER tactic is to establish permanent or pop-up branded spaces and lounges, often tied to a specific event (music festivals!) or a location (airports!) which offer ample opportunity to assist consumers / customers with relevant, on-brand services. And here too, like with apps, partnering is key: no need (or even possibility) to go it all alone in what is now a cooperation-economy, anyway.


BRAND BUTLER services equal interaction, meaning they can provide brands with valuable feedback, metrics and other learning opportunities about what interests, drives and triggers customers. Furthermore, BRAND BUTLERS is a great match with CO-CREATION: who better to ask what additional services they would like than your own customers!?

  • Simply offering excellent yet tried-and-tested customer service and support functions, or typical online features such as price-lookup or anything facilitating ecommerce activities. While excelling in offering these hygiene factors of course do contribute to an overall 'feel' of assistance for customers, we would qualify them as (after) sales support, not 'butlering'.

  • BRAND BUTLER services typically do not replace top quality products and paid services: they go ‘over and above'. In other words, while it would be fantastic if one of your BRAND BUTLER services is so well liked that you can charge money for it, and turn it into your core-offerings, in most cases BRAND BUTLER services can/should only exist because they support your core (and hopefully outstanding) products and services.

  • Last but not least, as BRAND BUTLERS is all about relevance and service, this is not about gimmicks or entertainment for entertainment's sake.


Mastercard’s ATM Hunter iPhone app allows users to find their nearest ATMs by entering their location or using built-in GPS functionality.

Google labs has developed City Tours, which uses Google Maps to offer a variety of walking tours in cities around the world. The tours also offer practical information such as opening hours.

Mastercard has developed a Priceless Picks app, which allows users to share their favorite places and deals, which are then displayed on an interactive map for other users to browse.

Swedish food brand Santa Maria offers an iPhone app that offers grilling tips and advice. The application features recipes, a BBQ handbook and a grilling timer.


A hands-on start would be to establish the themes your brand is about, and dream up an integrated 'suite' of BRAND BUTLER services, both online and offline. Use the eight categories above (Transparency and 'In the know', Saving money, Finding, Connectivity, Health, Nutrition & Exercise, Skills & Advice, Eco, and Tools & Amenities). Obviously, we hope you will add a few categories of your own as well.

On a related note: when plotting your BRAND BUTLER OMNIPRESENCE, many of your ideas will probably revolve around existing customers. Either because they're linked to a purchased product or service, or because they're a distinctive perk. However, there's a huge win in services that are open to non-customers, too. This is where BRAND BUTLERS truly replaces the old broadcasting / advertising model.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mobile Generosity

The "experts" predict a huge surge in mobile phone use, expectations, and tools. This includes e-commerce, giving, and, of course, sharing opinions. Predictions are that consumers will soon expect to pay by mobile.

Enter Generation G! That's Generosity, not Greed. The number of people who volunteer regularly is on the rise, sharing opinions has become an absolute deluge. And micro-donations have been proven to be an effective fund-raiser (example: President 2.0 - Barack Obama)

The most recent best example has been the fund-raising for relief in Haiti after the earthquake. In 36 hours, donations made via mobile phones for Haiti Earthquake Relief surpassed $7 million. All the mobile user had to do was text a phrase to a shortcode and make a micro-donation of $5 or $10 dollars

This fundraising succeeded because it was painless, convenient, and fast. Websites and snailmail addresses and phone numbers were available, of course. Websites mean a consumer is tied to a computer in a specific place. Snailmail requires the inconvenience of locating a stamp.

Most importantly for this post, non-mobile methods can easily lead to "I meant to do that but didn't" and "The site/phone lines were clogged and I never got through and didn't donate."

Immediacy, impulse, generosity, convenience, speed. It worked for Haiti. Now it can work for your library, too!

Mobile Donations Tool for Libraries from Mosio via Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan by Sarah on 3/12/10
Text a Librarian has added Mobile Donations. Remember all of those texted donations to Haiti? Yep, your library can get a piece of that action too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Testing for a patron

Sometimes a customer has a problem with getting into something - like blogger

Edit after post
So why not test it yourself?
It seems to be an intermittant problem.
So glad I knew about blogger and have used it to check. Builds repoire (sp) with the user dontcha know.
Food for thought

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Awards, Best of, and Notable

It's March and still the 2009 awards and "best of" lists keep coming.

Best of 2009 Megalist
This is an aggregated list put together by the Williamsburg Public Library. Lists from authoritative awards are put together and the one with the most awards wins their category!

General Fiction:
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (25 votes)

Mysteries and Thrillers:
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (14 votes)

Speculative Fiction:
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (19 votes)

Historical Fiction:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (37 votes, the top vote getter overall)

Young Adult Fiction:
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (21 votes)

Graphic works:
Stitches: A Memoir by David Small (26 votes, the highest count for a nonfiction work)

C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems (6 votes)

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel and The Lost City of Z by David Grann (15 votes each)

Biography and Memoir:
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (20 votes)

Reading List Council ~ Best Adult Genre Ficiton 2009
via WebJunction - Readers Advisory by Carol Kubala on 1/29/09
Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Historical Fiction
Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell

Last Days by Brian Evenson

A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn

What Happens in London by Julia Quinn,

Science Fiction
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Women’s Fiction
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

RUSA 2009 CODES Notable Books for America's Reader's Council Book Awards
via WebJunction - Readers Advisory by Carol Kubala on 1/29/09
Too long to list here, but take a look!

Here are the finalists for the one we always look forward to each year:
Finalists for Oddest Book Title Award
The six finalists are

"Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter;"

"Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich;"

"Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots;"

"The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease";

"Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes";

"What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?"

Now just a darn minute here! Crochet is one of the few mediums that can visually present the idea of a hyperbolic plane. That is a OMGWANT title, you dorks. (Disclosure: I am an avid crocheter)