Kids "sell" lemonade for free to help the community

In 1992 I discovered a game called Capitalist Pig, a Mac based business simulation. It was simple in its approach yet still allowed for discovery of running a business. Beside the software, the designers included a funny and yet practical book with business terms explained through selling lemonade. It told the story of starting a company whose initial core product is lemonade and expanded to talking about franchising, hiring employees, and competition.

I was reminded of this book this morning when I was on my way home from IUPUI. On the corner of Barn Hill and Michigan, a group of summer students from the IUPUI Center For Young Children (CYC) (ages 5 to 7) were waving a banner and shouting "Free Lemonade! Free Lemonade!". I recognized the teacher, Mr. Patrick, and pulled up to see what was up. The kids were on a campus field trip to "sell lemonade". However, their tactic was to give the lemonade away and ask for donations for kids programs! According to my son (he attends summer camp at IUPUI CYC) they raised about $190 today!

This is an interesting connection; Yesterday I spent time with some friends in the Smaller Indiana Indy Business Book Club discussing Smaller Indiana's role in the community. One of the questions on Pat Coyle's mind is if Smaller Indiana might be better as a non-profit entity or as a full speed, for profit business. The really interesting dialog was what Smaller Indiana is doing today: groups of people are meeting, going to events together, putting on events, having coffee, etc. The people within Smaller Indiana are pulling together for common activities, interested in helping others, and seeking to make a living (make money).

The connection from Capitalist Pig, to IUPUI CYC kids giving away lemonade to make money, to Smaller Indiana? Smaller Indiana is "giving away" the pipes (lemonade) to connect people and conversations. These people happen to be a pool of people that non-profits like to engage for community good (looking for volunteers, donations, ideas, and action : the donation). Smaller Indiana is a conduit to these engaged people. Non-profits need to invest in Smaller Indiana because the "pipes" of conversations, ideas, and actions is leading to community good.

Another angle to think about: for non-profits to engage a marketing or PR firm to create messages and marketing campaigns to engage people would cost more than if the pipes of conversations were put in place for free and have community people utilize them. Something to think about.

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Weather information, new media approaches to getting old style info

When I hear the term "new media" I think of cool and interesting, possibly fun and something I want. Interestingly, the term new media is about media that is new today. In the mid 1990's there was a magazine called "NewMedia" which covered all the things happening on the web. At that time, the new media of the day was what ever was on the web. Any web site could claim to be new media. The ability to put up information on a network that allowed anyone in the world to see it was way different than the current media of the time; print, radio, TV.


Think about how you were informed of events in the agriculture industry in the late 1980's or early 1990's: newspapers, magazine, radio, TV. National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Farm Journal, or Feedstuffs anyone? These networks of media brought to you via snail mail or the airwaves info you needed to manage your agribusiness. Piles of papers and audio reports on the hour required you to pick and choose, pull info together, and make sense of it all manually.

As technology advanced, so did the ability of ag information to get to you in a streamlined fashion. Companies like DTN tapped into early electronic networks to bring all the information you needed straight to your computer (everyone remember those Apple II's?). While this still required some personal effort to integrate the information, electronic services started to remove the barrier to information access and understanding. This became the "new media" of the time. The same types of information yet presented and discovered in a whole different manner.

Today the new media has evolved to include finding and delivery of audio and video. While audio and video on the internet has been around since the mid 1990's, the process by which this type of media reached you has changed. No longer do you need to concern yourself with figuring out what to do with the files and how to listen. Service like DirectTV, Tivo and iTunes make obtaining shows like SwineCast or AgToday simple.

New media has also expanded on how information is presented. A great example is weather information: weather reports used to be static; look on the back page of the paper and see the 5 day forecast. Or, tune into a Brownfield Network radio station to get the recent weather report. Now weather reports come in all sorts of flavors, from old school media (the 5 day forecast in the Indianapolis Star still is handy), to the Weather Underground, the Weather Channel, and the US government's Aviation Weather Center. Each of these are pulling from a standard set of data sources and adding new methods for interpreting, understanding, and using weather information.

There are even services that supply, for a fee, weather information to speciality industries in a form that is delivered faster, provides usable analytics, and expert option on actions to take. Planalytics and Weather Services International are two such weather information service companies, offering to the ag industry tools to help make decisions. These methods of discovery, presentation, and understanding are the "new media" today.

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Marketing from the age of 1

I am getting a taste of push marketing from my 8 month old and 7 year old sons! Yes, my sons are practicing the art of marketing... Funny way to think about it but it's true. My youngest will jump up and down in his saucer when he is happy (providing me a message that says "I am happy right now"). Later he will perhaps change marketing messages and start to whine a bit, telling me to start getting that food lined up or else.

My 7 year old son also is practicing the art of marketing. He does have the advantage of fine tuning his message with actual words I can understand. They can be direct ("may I please have desert?") or subtle (he gets all his toys out on the floor to imply he is going to play right now even though he really should be putting things away). Other times he co-brands his message ("Mommy said I could have a snack").

My favorite youth marketing technique is the shout / scream method. This is when the original message is not well received so the message is modified and delivered in a high volume, sometimes over some distance ("DADDY.... DADDY..... CAN I GET MY TOYS OUT OF TOY JAIL??? DADDY!!!!" delivered from the top of the stairway) When that high volume shouting does not work the tone of the message is modified almost instantaneously ("I AM GETTING MAD IF YOU DON'T GET MY TOYS OUT OF TOY JAIL!!!"). Then the message is combined with some good old fashioned meeting time ("DADDY" as he stomps downstairs and grabs my hand and drags me over to the toy jail (top of the fridge for those that are interested) and then hangs on my hand while continuing verbal message "I WANT THAT TOY BACK!").

Now imagine what you are doing with your customers / potential customers and your messages. Are you shouting? Have you dragged your potential customers around by the hand and told them what to do? Are you saying please? Did you even offer the opportunity to ask why? Have you been doing this time and time again and getting so response? Have you felt ignored?

The best kid marketing tactics are when they come up and say things that are totally unsolicited, spontaneous, and in the end not really asking for anything but saying thank you ("Daddy, thanks for the Indiana Jones Lego set, I really love it..." ... "Will you play with me?") OK, they sometimes tack on a request that is sometimes hard to turn down :) So say "thank you" in a simple way to your future customers.

Some great starting points to learn:
Don't be a 1 year old!


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