The power of we

October 15, 2012

Today is Blog Action Day*.  What does that mean? It means that thousands of bloggers from over 108 countries will come together today to blog on a single topic.  Ironically — this year’s topic is the power of we.

The essence of Blog Action Day, really.

Each blogger shares his/her own slant on the theme…with the hope that together we can raise the consciousness and the conversation on this one topic.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I am a huge proponent of the power of we.  I believe it should be a marketing staple — in every company’s plan/vision for how to connect with potential customers, employees and their community.

Here are some examples that I can point to that every business could modify/borrow and apply to their own marketing efforts:

Crowdsourcing:  Why create it all yourself when you can work together and do something far greater than any one individual could accomplish?  Together with Gavin Heaton, I have co-edited 3 editions of the Age of Conversation book series.

We brought hundreds of marketing bloggers together and asked each of them to write a single chapter in the books.  Together — we created three books that look at how the digital age is changing marketing and our world.  We also promoted the book together — raising over $40,000 for charities around the world.

Could you create a crowdsourcing project with your best customers?  Or invite prospects to join in too.

Give your audience a voice: Once or twice a year, I survey the readers of this blog and ask them what they’d like to know more about. They literally help me create my editorial calendar.  By creating content that lines up with their needs — I not only provide more value but I am also more likely to retain them as readers.  (And potential clients)

Many businesses are afraid to invite customer opinion because they might hear bad things.  I think that’s crazy.  Far better to hear about it and have a chance to either change it or explain it — than not to know until you lose that customer.  If you’re not surveying your best customers every year — you need to.  If you aren’t sure how to do it — reach out to me and I’ll tell you how we can help.

Partner with someone with different skills/talents: Throughout my career, I’ve worked at huge (Young & Rubicam) agencies and small (my own — Mclellan Marketing Group) and realize that one of the best aspects of being in a small agency is that we can’t do everything in house. So we have to seek experts to partner with.  That means we are always delivering the highest value to our clients and we’re getting smarter by hanging out with them too.

Identify an area where your business is a little light or your expertise isn’t as deep. Then go find a partner whose skill sets and values compliment what you’re already doing.  You don’t look like you have a deficiency — you look like you are well connected and are committed to bringing excellence to your clients.

I’m curious — how do you employ the power of we in your business?




*Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change, poverty and food with thousands of blogs, big and small, taking part.

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Age of Conversation 4 — want to be one of our authors?

June 28, 2012

We know… it’s crazy. But Gavin and I are ready to do it again. This time, we’d like Age of Conversation to take on a much more personal tone… how is social media impacting you, your work, your family and your view on life? Your chapter might be as elaborate as a real case study or it might be as simple as your best time saving trick. But it’s about you and how you “do” social.

This time, we’re doing both one and two page chapters. (see below)

Here are the sections for the book:


One page chapters are grouped into “sections” to provide a sense of cohesion to the topics covered. (One page = 400 words or so) This year’s sections are:

Secrets – what is a secret, what is your secret and what are the limits of privacy in the Age of Conversation?
Transparency – what does it mean for a business to be transparent? How do you go about making your brand or business transparent? And what happens if transparency fails?
Authenticity – what does it mean to humanize a brand? What happens when business gets personal and how does so-called “authenticity” impact you on a personal and professional level?
Unexpected Consequences – anything from a painful lesson learned to an unexpected cross the globe friendship. Share your journey in this Age of Conversation
How Do I … – share your tips and tricks on social media. What do you do well and how do you achieve the outcomes you want?


We’d love to have your case studies. (Two pages = 750 words or so) They need to be projects that you have worked on or have been responsible for. You must include measurable results of some sort. We’re not going to get into the whole ROI discussion…but you need to show how it played out. Please don’t propose case studies based on other people’s work.

Want to join in on the adventure with us? We’d love to have you with us!

To sign up —

We’ll be closing the sign ups pretty quickly so if you’re serious about writing a chapter — sign up soon!

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Radio show on book crowdsourcing

July 5, 2011


adage conv 2
…media coverage for Age #1

One of the best benefits of being a part of the Age of Conversation series is that I’ve met a lot of really smart, generous people who do good work and celebrate others’ good work.

That’s how I had the good fortune of being a guest on the US Media Radio show with Deborah Chaddock Brown (her co-host Candace Benson was called to the White House…so hard to fault her absence!) to talk about crowdsourcing and the Age series.

It was fun to tell stories of how Gavin and I kicked off the first book and all the crazy, surprising relationship/business building outcomes that have come as a result of the series.

If you’d like to listen to the conversation Deborah and I had — all you have to do is click here.


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Promote your community via crowdsourcing

July 3, 2011

As many of you know, Gavin Heaton and I co-edited the Age of Conversation series of books — each one crowdsourced with help from marketing and social media practitioners from all over the globe.  Each book is as unique as the contributors but they all three had some things in common:

  • The authors formed a community among themselves and I know for a fact that new business and personal relationships formed as a result.
  • The book benefits from the many authors all promoting it to their own networks and spheres of influence.
  • There is a healthy sense of competition among the authors — everyone wants their contribution to be deemed worthy when compared to the others.

We did it mostly as an experiment and a vehicle to raise money for some charities.  But I think we were all astonished at the lasting value the books created far beyond the monies raised.

My agency, McLellan Marketing Group, took the same model and brought it to our community of Central Iowa (through our client BIZ-CI).  Our goal in this case was to:

  • Crowdsource a book that would spotlight all of the professional expertise that existed in our area
  • Help fledgling businesses/entrepreneurs who couldn’t afford to buy the expertise have access to it
  • Promote some of our community’s business leaders by name/firm
  • Introduce our business community to companies that were considering a move to Central Iowa
  • Create connections among the business leader/authors

So we invited local business leaders to each write a chapter related to their area of expertise for the book How Business Gets Done: Words of Wisdom by Central Iowa Experts.

38 experts in some aspect of starting/running a small business all offering best practice counsel as well as pointing to some of their favorite resources.

You can get a Kindle copy by clicking here*.

Peter Korchnak, out in Portland, Oregon put together a very similar book called Portland’s Bottom Line.  But they added a very interesting twist.


Korchnak and his co-editor  Megan Strand organized the book into 12 sections along the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Prosperity.  The book explores how small businesses can effectively and efficiently shift toward sustainability and thrive. 51 small-business people from the City of Roses shared their experiences with sustainability in their companies. “The Portland Bottom Line” demonstrates how small businesses can innovate to put people before profit, help restore the ecosystem, and prosper.

The book is also a community benefit project. Contributors collectively chose, by vote, the local community organization Mercy Corps Northwest, which supports the launch and growth of sustainable ventures, to receive 100% of profit from the book’s sales.

To check it out, click here*.

In all three examples, the authors are held up as professionals who have something relevant to share.  It adds to their credibility and who doesn’t like to say they’re an author of a published book?

What I’d love for you to do is take a look at these examples and then apply the thinking you the communities you serve/participate in.  It wouldn’t have to be a city type of community.  It could be a community that shares a passion/vocation like the Age of Conversation books did.  The book could center around a common theme, skill, cause, interest or even something  aspirational.

How could you use this crowdsourcing model in your business?

*Yup, an affiliate link.  Peter sent me an advanced copy of their book to review.  So did a bunch of other authors.  But this book is worth sharing with you.

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Your brand is out of control!

June 8, 2011

When you look in the mirror, do you see what they see?

Businesses big and small expend huge resources (proportionally) to build a brand they’re proud of and can live up to.

Remember, our definition of a brand is a promise you make that differentiates and creates an image in my mind in terms of what it will be like to work with you/your product or service.

We help clients create/discover their brand and then weave them into the culture of their organizations so that everyone knows and is keeping the promise.  But what happens once you release the brand out into the wild?

It quickly gets out of control — that’s what happens.  At least it is now out of YOUR control.  (For this discussion — your brand could  mean your personal brand, a corporate brand or even a specific product’s brand.)

How you want people to interpret your efforts and how it actually plays out are two different things.  Sometimes they’re in alignment but maybe the words are different and sometimes they’re light years apart.  How does that happen?

People.  Pesky human beings.  Who all have their own way of looking at things.

What got me thinking about this today was a blog post by Liz Strauss from yesterday.  She asked...what soundbyte do people use to describe you? It’s a brand question.

What Liz is getting at is — you either consciously or unconsciously go to a lot of effort to build a brand.  But then I get to observe, interact and ultimately decide what all of that means to me.  In most cases, it is not WHAT you do, it’s HOW you do it.  That’s how I describe what you’re all about.

Let me give you an example.  In 2008, I was humbled to be named one of the bronze level winners of the Personal Brand Awards (started by Personal Branding guru Dan Schawbel) — an honor that recognizes people who have created remarkable personal brands.  In the descriptions of the winners, here’s how I was described:

Why he wonDrew is most notably the nicest guy on the internet. Aside from being one of the most recognized and respected authorities on marketing and branding online, he is a savvy networker. Since personal branding is all about giving before receiving and not putting yourself first, Drew has become known as a connector and friend to all. For all of this, we would like to present him a bronze personal brand award!

Read that first sentence again.  The nicest guy on the internet.  First…a very flattering description.  But in relation to this blog post — I would have never described myself or expected to be described that way.  Smart marketing & branding guy — sure.  That’s what I do day in and day out — write about marketing and branding.  I am a c0-creator of the Age of Conversation books (with Gavin Heaton) and Bloggers Social (with CK Kerley and Lori Magno) so maybe a community guy or a collaborator.  But the panel of judges examined the sum total of my brand… and they decided (because that’s how brands work) that I’m a giver/nice guy.

I’m not telling you all of this to toot my own horn.  After all, you too get to examine the sum total of my brand and decide what it means to YOU.  I am using myself as the example because as a branding guy…. I preach this stuff every day.  And yet how my own brand was perceived still surprised me a little.  I’m proud to be considered a nice guy but even I got caught up in the what (co-creator, marketing and branding) and didn’t remember that it’s the how/why that sticks with people.

When you read Liz’s post, she gives some examples of the soundbytes she’s talking about.  I think you’ll see that it’s not the what (marketing/branding) but the how or why (nice guy) that gets noticed.

So….your brand is out of your control.  It’s in the hands, minds and hearts of your consumers.  What would your soundbyte be?  (And how close it is to what you’d want it to be?)



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