Category Archives: Open Sauce

Change This…

James and I have penned a new manifesto for Change This: Co-Creation Rules

Regular readers will know that I’m no fan of lists. I’m not renowned for making rules either though you’ll understand we’re being deliberately ambiguous in our title.

Nevertheless, James and thought we’d try and bash out a few ideas that we sometimes use in our work trying to help organisations get their heads round marketing these days. We’ve focussed more on corporates and marketing in this, but the general ideas carry over into over areas too. Here are the opening paras:

We no longer live in a world where people instinctively trust authority. As much social research shows, we’d rather trust our own instincts and the information we learn from our friends. For organisations and brands, this ain’t Kansas anymore. In our social world, it’s better to be talked about by others than to try to out-shout the crowd.

If we have to choose between engagement and control, we prefer engagement. We think that organisations in the future will do well to have the same preference when it comes to dealing with their own people and their customers.

I’ve shamelessly reused a game I described in More Space as part of this, partly in an effort to make this a bit more experiential and less academic.

We might think of this a first draft… and we’d be interested to know how people would change this to make it more useful… You can download it here.

(Thanks to Change This, especially Sally Haldorson, for their support and to John Winsor for some very useful ideas for the content. This mistakes are all ours, of course.)


Beyond the black box

Some months back Ross Dawson sent me a free copy of his book, Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships: Leadership in Professional Services. I am not a prolific reader and the book sat on my desk for a long time, leaving me feeling guilty.

But I disciplined myself to read it recently and I liked it. Ross has really been thinking hard about his subject and paints a clear picture of a big shift in professional services, away from the “black box” model – where the firm does mysterious things for the client and makes sure no-one ever finds out their secret. Ross chronicles lots of examples of a knowledge sharing approach, where sharing knowledge is the basis for creating value.

One simple but high end example of this: law firm Lovells went to their client Prudential Propety Services and told them they were doing a lot of routine work for them that they could get done much more cheaply elsewhere. Then co-created a programme to assess each brief, and separate routine tasks from complex ones. Lovells would then contract-out the routine work to smaller, regional firms and focus their efforts on the curved balls. They saved the Pru a lot of money… and created so much trust that they were given a bigger portfolio to work on . Then they took their application and won over new clients with the same idea.

That example is going straight into James‘ and my new Change This manifesto (Co-creation Rules, coming soon). And I recommend Ross’s book to anyone who wants to substantiate the idea that co-creation is way more than just getting customers to write your ads for you.

Open Sauce in London

James and I will be running our next Open Sauce Live workshop in London on Tuesday 17 October in conjunction with our friends at NMK. Our blurb says

From the highest-spending brands to the smallest agencies everyone is wondering how to succeed in a brave new world of marketing.It’s a world where people are better informed, better connected and have more choice. Where the media are increasingly fragmented. Our Open Sauce workshop offers a lively, practical way to get to grips with this world.

As usual, we’ll blend some interesting bits of content with some improv activities and open facilitation.

If you’re interested, please contact NMK direct to book a place.

Co-creation Rules

James & JohnnieJames and I are getting to work on a new manifesto for Change This. It’s called Co-creation Rules a deliberately ambiguous title. Our aim is put together some of our insights from working with brands and organisations. These are the guys who are taking up the challenge to create stuff in real collaboration with their customers. It’ll be inspired by a lot of ideas from our Open Sauce workshops and we’re trying to make it a fun and practical publication. And here we are co-creating it at James’ house this morning.

Open Source Research

Via Richard Gayle and Glyn Moody I found The Synaptic Leap:

Biomedical science is indivisible.  The physical and psychological barriers that divide scientific communities are ultimately artificial and counterproductive.  We see online collaboration as a natural way to bridge these gaps and pool information that is currently too fragmented for anyone to use.  An open, collaborative research community will find new ways to do science, answering questions that current institutions find difficult or impossible….

We are beginning our journey focused on the two tropical diseases malaria and schistosomiasis… The typical profit-driven pharmaceutical economic model fails with these diseases because there is simply no money to be made. However, the very fact that there’s no profit incentive to research these diseases makes them perfect candidates for open source style research; there’s no profit incentive to keep secrets either.

Stormhoek: The Podcast

Earlier this week James Cherkoff and I had lunch with Jason Korman of Stormhoek the wine brand that has been enjoying considerable success using blogging. Jason talks about the practical applications of the ideas we talk about on our Open Sauce workshops – creating conversations with customers bypassing conventional market research and design processes, and allowing customers to be really engaged in where the brand is going.

So here is some our conversation in the form of a podcast, with some shownotes below giving the gist of the conversation. I think it’s worth a listen, though I say so myself.

Click to Listen Download the Podcast – 21m 17s – MP3 (12.1MB)

Podcast RSS feed for iPodder etc.

Show notes

0.00 Johnnie’s introduction

0.23 James asks if it’s true that Stormhoek’s blog doubled sales

0.33 Jason answers that… yes, it’s broadly true… sales have doubled since we started blogging.

0.52 Blogging is fascinating, it’s like an ongoing focus group… we’re a young company and we are happy to expose things warts and all… we want to hear what people have to say…

1.46 James: so you like criticism? Jason: Yes. We want to know what we can improve

2.10 Johnnie asks how blogging has changed Stormhoek.

2.27 Jason: you’re sort of on the small end of a funnel.. you’re getting all this information and it’s up to the business to figure out what you’re going to do with it. One of the great values of blogging is you can ask the market questions and get an immediate response. When you see the total of market opinions you get a real feel of where you’re going…

3.42 Johnnie: You’re a small player in the wine market and you’ve courted controversy. How is that working?

3.52 Jason: The challenge with wine is to break through the clutter in an industry with lots of products from all over the world. To have an impact we have to have A) great product and B) something interesting to say. Blogging helps to do that… an enormous opportunity.. and it’s very cost-efficient. It’s hard to think of a way of marketing that would be less expensive.

4.56 James asks about the impact on the wine trade

5.10 Jason: We’ve had a lot of trade press recently. It tends to focus on the free samples to bloggers but they misunderstand what we’re trying to do. It’s like going into a bar and buying someone a drink. You do it not to give them a free drink, but to start a conversation. All we’ve done is use our product as a way to start conversations with people. That’s what marketing today is about: conversations with people. We’re lucky to have a product that is a social lubricant.

6.25 Johnnie: the blog is not for connoisseurs… how he likes the way the blog explains the mysteries of the wine trade to the layman. For example, have championed the use of screw tops over corks… So this has an impact not on experts but on me, Joe Blow

7.09 Jason explains the story about screwtops being better than corks – and how Stormhoek chose to play this.

7.36 Jason talks about the problem of the wine industry: it’s done a great job of alienating consumers by making the whole product pretentious and elitist. We want to democratise wine. One of the ideas of the blog is to have everyday people, who don’t know a lot about wine, talk about how they engage with the product.

8.53 Johnnie: theme of talking to customers as if they’re intelligent. The wine industry in some ways treats them like idiots… Previous attempts to popularise wine have resulted in Black Tower and Blue Nun, dumbed down products.

9.58 Jason: The wine industry has done a great job of putting people off. And the wine trade has continued that with, for instance, far too many varieties on display that confuse the consumer.

10.44 Jason talks about the notion of “terroire” – the traditional emphasis on the location the wine comes from, it’s very place-centric and the trouble is, everyone is using the same terroire argument. And it becomes a meaningless argument. We want to use messages other than about where the wine comes from.

11.44 James asks for examples of how Stormhoek listens to the market. Jason talks about how their best wine is their Sauvingnon Blanc… and we found some people like it – and some don’t. You forget that what we like as producers isn’t necessarily what the consumer likes. We’ve been astounded by the popularity of our Rose even though we expected other things to do better.

12.53 Jason talks about Stormhoek’s competition seeking new design ideas for the packaging. We offered £1000 – and about 150 different people submitted ideas. For us, it wasn’t about the individual idea, it was about engagement. People cared enough about we are doing to take the time to do this. We gleaned something from those people that sent us off in a direction we would never otherwise have gone in, and will give us a wine which will look like nothing else on the shelf. A contrast between insular inward-looking design and open source with your customers. You’re not designing for yourself but to meet the needs of the market.

16.00 The customers who are involved in Stormhoek are in the thousands, not hundreds of thousands – but those people have had an impact on our business, on our product.

16.29 Where we’re moving our blog to is to create a window onto the business of making and selling wine. We’re talking about the ups, the downs, the frustrations.

16.44 James asks about how the big supermarkets are reacting to what Stormhoek are doing. Jason: For many of them, this whole thing comes out of left field and it’s not what they’re used to. They are sceptical. We’re developing a promotion for one of them which partners with a tech company… and that idea of a tech company promoting with a wine business creates a richness which wasn’t there before.. and I think the grocers will begin to see what we’re doing.

18.55 Jason refers to Hugh Macleod’s idea of brands as idea amplifiers and this is what guides Stormhoek. Wine doesn’t have to be about pretence it can be about software, about uploading photos to flickr, about engagement in lots of different ways over a bottle of wine. More interesting than what temperature it was fermented at. There is enormous interest that a little winery such as ours is taking such a different approach.

19.35 Jason: Wine marketing has to change, and if we don’t do it, somebody else will.

19.43 James asks whether they’ll let customers influence the product itself, not just the packaging and promotion. Jason: absolutely, that’s fundamental. We will encouage people to voice their opinions in a way that will influence our style of wines and how we make them, it’s just a matter of time.

20 31 Johnnie asks Jason to summarise the impact of blogging on Stormhoek. Jason: it makes us completely outward-looking.. it gives a richness to what we do everyday that fundamentally changes how we do our business and how we view the market. It’s something I hope lots of wineries do and I think it could change the industry.


Sauce opened

Well Friday saw James’ and my first Open Sauce workshop and it seemed to go pretty well. (Here’s James’ account of it)

I learnt lots from it too which I think is a good sign. (I’ve got more and more sceptical about hey-wow training events, and prefer to run workshops where we assume everyone has something to learn.) James set up a Open Sauce page for examples of good and bad Sauce and for the first time I really got what is about.

Delegates had widely varying interests and needs so we kept the format fairly open to encourage side conversations rather than dictate the agenda.

The day reinforced my view that collaborative marketing is not really a new thing, and it’s something that comes naturally to humans. And it’s also clear that in organisation-ville there are still plenty of institutional barriers that get in the way.

A little extra sauce

One week to run until James’ and my first Open Sauce Workshop. I’m starting to get quite excited about it. We’ve got a mix of folks from business and non-profits which is good. By the way we’ve been asked if consultants are welcome and they certainly are.

After a nice lunch with Alistair Shrimpton of Six Apart (UK) we’re going to offer delegates who don’t already have a blog a free Typepad account to get them started, if they’re up for it.