Minions Mayhem

"I should be given an award for keeping my mouth shut when there is so much that needs to be said."
                                                                                ~Minions Quote

You can hardly go anywhere these days or do anything without some reference to Minions.  It might have something to do with a movie that has taken off in popularity and the stars are graphic creations.  That’s fair.   Credit where credit is due.  These creatures, however, have invaded advertisements and pretty much anywhere even adults hang out.  I admit to not having seeing the movie.  Gone are the days when I could hide my guilty pleasure of going to see a movie that looks like fun by taking my youngsters and a car load of their friends on an outing to see a movie. 
I remember and invite to a grand opening for a mega theatre in Calgary.  Part of the celebration were free treats, ice cream, junk food, goodie bags and coupons for car washes even, proving that professionals do like to kick back and have a little fun, escaping back to childhood giddiness, and not just a golf course.  The cherry on the top was a free screening of Antz in 1998.  The brainchild of Pixel studios that followed the success of the first Toy Story in 1995.   

When I started to write this, I wasn't quite sure if it was Walt Disney who started it all by recognizing that kids are taken to movies by their adult parents and the idea born to insert adult humor  to make it an enjoyable adventure for everyone of all ages and not only as a chaperoned outing.  In my mind, as I reflect, Toy Story was the brainchild that most of us recognize as an animated escapade that adults embraced.  Some of the scenes took us back to our childhood, we could relate to many of the characters as ourselves or situations from childhood while several lines zipped over the kids’ heads to land firmly on belly laughs from the adults who relished the humor.  Interestingly, PIXAR's profile proclaims:
Animators and writers at Pixar have often cited that the movies they make are for adults, just as much as they are for kids. As such, a certain amount of adult humor slips into their projects that kids won't get.
It has been going on for years.  The success of a movie in our commercial world is identified by how many residual their are:  toys, advertisements, copyrights linked to a movie specifically surrounding a character.  Think Terminator.  Figurines, dodads,  figurines, trucks and gadgets high on the must have lists to be given as birthday gifts or Christmas presents.  Meanwhile the money didn't just roll in for the studios, the creators, producers .... smart actors recognized the financial gain from inking in the royalties for the actors who were central to the characters.  A ca-ching caught on when the movie and/or characters became a hit, music to their ears of  cash registers ringing a money tune.
Check out the McDonald’s commercial where Minions took over the fast food giant’s restaurant to the gafaw of the patrons who discovered the order board was swapped out for bananas.  They seem like harmless, fun-loving creatures so why not?  

I decided put on my curiosity cap and set out on a Minions crusade to find out more about them.  Not surprisingly, they are everywhere on social media:  even Pinterest boards dedicated to Minions.  Fascinating. 

I started out with my handy dandy source I use to launch research -- Wikipedia -- to figure out what all the mayhem was about.  Amazingly, instead of my search uncovering a WIKIpedia explanation, behold my animated adventurers, there is actually a page dedicated to the cute mischief makers:  Dispicable Me Minions Wiki page. It is a jackpot of anything one would ever want to know about Minions.  It answered my own question:  Who are minions? 

The Minions are small, yellow, cylindrical, creatures who have one or two eyes.  They are impulsive creatures with little self-control, but with a wide-eyed wonder and odd innocence that endears them to viewers and makes them relatable. They can be pesky when they are doing weird interactions with other people, animals, or objects. Minions have standard English names.

WOWzers!  I went looking for a McDonald’s Minions commercial on YouTube and was bombarded with tons of commercials dedicated to these mischievious marvels.  You know it is big when McDonald's Happy Meals include such a toy.  Not surprising, (even though it initially was to me) many brands have jumped on the miniwagon with ads of their own like this one for smartphones:

I like to think I have a sixth sense about what is the latest craze as it relates to business, sales and social media.  Talk about being asleep at the wheel.  They are certainly everywhere.  The lesson to this?  If you want to be hip, with it, in touch with the world, include a Minion image, quote, song or video and you will be sure to have a retweet #RT or share or four.  It will certainly communicate that you have a fun side, it is not always serious business.  Completely broadcasting to your followers and potentially attracting more fun loving adults, you are hip, you’re with it, and you have a sense of humour!

Take my word for it:  put on your fun cap and get in on the mayhem -- an image with a Minion quote is definitely going to endear you to many or promise others a fun ride!  You don't have to look far to find websites dedicated to Minion quotes.  Start now!  Show a personable side while you poke fun at yourself.  I can promise you connection and engagement.

After a lot of background research on the origin of adult humor injected into animation.  I discovered the miracle Animator Ralph Bakshi.

Bakshi interpretation of Lord of the Rings
In my opinion, history should honor Animator Ralph Bakshi as the the brainchild of incorporating adult humor into animated features.  In  the late-1960s, animator Ralph Bakshi felt that he could not continue to produce the same kind of animation as he had in the past. Bakshi was quoted in a 1971 article for the Los Angeles Times as saying that the idea of "grown men sitting in cubicles drawing butterflies floating over a field of flowers, while American planes are dropping bombs in Vietnam and kids are marching in the streets, is ludicrous."[7] With producer Steve Krantz, Bakshi founded his own studio, Bakshi Productions,[8] establishing the studio as an alternative to mainstream animation by producing animation his own way and accelerating the advancement of female and minority animators. He also paid his employees a higher salary than any other studio at that time.[9]Ralph Bakshi successfully established an alternative to mainstream animation through independent and adult-oriented productions in the 1970s.


FACEBOOK PAGE: Ralph Bakshi relaxing with Maggie and Bailey
Ralph Bakshi is an American director of ani-mated and live-action films. In the 1970s, he established an alternative to main-stream animation through independent and adult-oriented productions. Between 1972 and 1992, he directed nine theatrically released feature films, five of which he wrote. He has been involved in
numerous television
projects as director,
writer, producer and animator.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing" 
~ George Bernard Shaw
Now spin it by combining it with a fun image to Tweet, share, post, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ Facebook -- to discover some new connections who share the same humor.

 Note:  they most likely perform better when using Minion-ese speak, songs or sayings.  Just test the theory I am sharing and see if you have some luck and notice an increase in #RT or even better if you hashtag #Minions to see if it may start trending on Twitter so all their devotees are assembled together to sing their praises.

Get your head in the cloud

When I started adopting social media into my lifestyle I started it out as a means to gain knowledge, expedite research.  Reconnecting with former colleagues and clients (Linked In) was a byproduct that was valuable.  Branching out on to Twitter was just "fast".  Fast for connecting, fast for gaining knowledge, fast for being in touch with what was going on in just about any topic of interest.

I have said that Facebook is a more intimate way of staying in touch with connections in a more personalized manner.  You get to know a person more simply because people tend to be more selective on who they befriend because they lean towards giving insight on their personal lives - family, special events.

The one thing that I have absorbed is that there is still a lot of resistance or under appreciation of social media to many brands and companies.  Treating it like giving in to a wave because all reports indicate that you should be there.  Unfortunately, it is a half hearted attempt or completely missing the mark based on who is guiding your presence.

Through understanding and study, one uncovers the major benefits of social media: to be informed, gain knowledge.  For a self-processed "knowledge junkie" I was an easy recruit.  I have become more objective in what I am drawn to:  social media, the world, business and technology.  Being informed makes my personal brand value go up.  Third party evaluators on my brand value like KLOUT or KRED reinforce what that value may be.  They may even go so far as to identify me as and "Expert" on topics like my home town: Calgary, what expertise I tend to share:  Sales, what knowledge I soak up:  Technology; what burns my passion:  art/photography.

I am not like a academic of anything.  I would say that if anything, I have pretty good instincts on what is leading our world.  At the time I joined the social media ring in 2010, I recognized how important it was.  Now, five years later, sometimes I get credit for developed insights. 

"The value of anything is determined by what others are prepared to pay for it."
~Jeannette Marshall

Today and in the recent few months, my focus has remained with those same interests, while expanded greatly to mobility:  smartphones, applications, services.  Many paid attention to Google's consistent communication on how important Mobile-friendly websites are and will be.  That may have resulted in some new self-proclaimed experts emerging to be the holy grail of mobility marketing or incorporating mobility into your brand and marketing plans.  However, it isn't much different from the adoption of social media:  some are all over it, others are in watch mode, some are opportunists.

The true visionaries are the founders of Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple -- famous people that don't need repeating but are respectfully heralded.  These innovators saw opportunity long before the curve was even twitching upwards.  I'm a student of trying to understand how these geniuses could make something that "became" the trend and not because of it.  Many of us dream of being so lucky.  The practicality of it is beyond most of us:  money, backers, supporters, technical know how, a business plan.  Now, they become books, movies and lessons at the greatest universities and MBA programs. 

Well, if it isn't obvious to you, it is certainly to me.  The next wave or curve has started the next big curve on the tail of cloud is mobility.  Unfortunately, for  manufacturers in general (Xerox, case in point), they don't always see or understand the magnitude their tool will impact consumers or business.  I hardly think that even the most innovative innovators from those mentioned could have imagined the impact they would have.  Some of the greatest become stories or examples in books.  Not quite being the great that they could have been.  Many inventors or even writers see how close to the thin edge they were and throw up their arms in exasperation: they could have been "somebody big". 

Certainly, there are the hold outs.  Those CEOs who fall off the bandwagon or dig their heels in and refuse to accept what is in front of them.  With mobility, they may even refuse to carry of smartphone or give in by having the very oldest technology of a flip phone "for emergencies".

The next greatest innovator is going to tie mobility in a way that everyone will want to use it or those that don't, will be the odd man out.  The tools are out there in the populace hands.  Some are early adopters and link the smartphones to their business.  For example, when I with "X-really-big-corporation"  (we're talking five years ago) each sales and service professional had a cell phone, typically a Blackberry.  No big deal, you say, so what?  Well, what was truly exceptional was their cellular infrastructure was tied into their  customized CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, which was linked to their service.  Service being the crushing blow to their reputation and ability to sell, slowed customer satisfaction, declining sales.  By linking their cellular which was in the hands of any customer-facing soul in the organization, they were able to get up-to-the-second information.  Sales and service personnel would be texted when an order left the warehouse, with an estimated time of arrival (ETA) for which customer, identifying the main contact, allowing notification to increase in response time which communicated importance to customers, and overall improved customer satisfaction.

Service is all about responsiveness in my opinion.   Sales and marketers are the messengers of importance, operations are the delivery of executing importance, service is reinforcing it matters. Whether you are being asked a simple question by an administrator in a really big enterprise on behalf of an important decision maker, or a new entrepreneur launching his business .... your reaction time, how you react, and by whom can be an easily identifier as to which organizations organically believe that their customer is the life blood to their organization's existence.  

Getting critical information out to your front line people needs to be faster than an email these days.  Most agree that emails are clogged, considered a necessary evil in business, ignored a lot of times while those critical people are doing what they perceive their organization has dictated is important actions. 

However, anyone in business, regardless of size, appreciates there are times when they need to communicate catapult ahead of every other distraction in their team's sphere to react, now ... not when they get around to it.

What better way than mobility?  Everyone is carrying a smart phone or cell phone device of some sort -- especially the forward thinking personnel, techno-gurus, developers, marketers.   Consider how you can get reactive fast, either directly or cascade to teams.   

I am sorry if your organization hasn't even got on the social media adoption for business.  Now, I am suggesting that you should get in on the ground floor on mobility.  Speed means money.  If you are in business, driving revenue, satisfying customers, gaining new customers, retaining exceptional employees they are all part of your mandate for survival.  

Nobody likes to hear why a company fails, only what can be learned from it to avoid the same mistakes.  Yet, even the most forward thinking organizations may have a Twitter account but only have a person, not a team, sending out relevant messages, like after thoughts and maybe only once a day.  The same "smart marketers" may have a blog used to inform and educate their customers on how to use their service in order to improve their ratings ... but only how to find their social media platforms (@Twitter, Facebook Page, etc.) are listed.  Crazy as it sounds, they are assuming that the consumer or business are on standby waiting for that tweet to drive them to the website. 

 What about an executive who catches up his reading on the weekend, reviews reports and makes decisions after a round of golf on Saturday?   He sees an article that he believes is pertinent to his leadership team so what does he do?  He emails it to them.  Well that is great, however, a few many get caught with a cluttered email inbox and miss it.  That message may be significant, why not tweet it to those same leaders?  Why not have those 10 leaders, for example, sharing and connecting with an audience that is important regardless of follower numbers or self-proclaimed expertise? 

Two heads are better than one right?  Well, 10 or 500 are better than one.  I'm suggesting that a force be out there educating, informing and sharing knowledge to allow buying decisions.  You are not directing or telling them where to go or what to do, you are establishing your organizations as the preeminent authority. 

Why not have that same executive text a heads up to his leadership team?  That would be immediate and unlikely uncluttered.  Ask them to have your phone number (or do it yourselves) have a special ring tone like "Game of Thrones" (like my ringtone) to signify the troops they are needed for an emergency meeting or a frontal attack by a competitor or sliding stock prices? 

I have had numerous conversations with executives and business owners and I can hear it before it is a fact.  Opposition to texting cemented against because of safety, insurance costs, risks.  What is the risk of your business if you don't have a team with common sense that knows better than to text and drive?

Heck, you may have Twitter and a Facebook Page at the minimum.  Why not have a hangout on Google + instead of outlay of expenses for on online meetings?  Send a text out that there is a meeting scheduled.  Send a text with link to your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool stating that a customer has an issue, needs attention, what you delivered didn't work, service is needed or that big new shiney contract will be at risk to go to a competitor.

I am obviously not a visionary like the great ones, nor do I have the money to even develop a solution, nor the technical know how.  What I do have is a strong sense that there is a supreme opportunity out there for the next great innovator of our time that uses what is at their disposal.

Because of my interest and knowledge gathering on mobility and smart phones, I have boards on Pinterest that I use as a repository of information assembled from all platforms of information (media, blogs, authorities) called "MobileZoom" for all things related to smartphones, technology and mobility.  Yes, I have one dedicated to Apple, Apple-A-Day, SocialMediaMatters, and realized I'm behind on another one for "Cloud".  (I just created one called CLOUD-y Days).  Pinterest is the poor man's SharePoint site. 

How do you link your network with mobility/cell with social media with proprietary tools?  The solution is most likely -- The Cloud -- Cloud computing metaphor: For a user, the network elements representing the provider-rendered services are invisible, as if obscured by a cloud.  (Image and information Source:  Wikipedia)

What do you say?  I say NOW is a good time to have your head in the clouds.

BATTLE of wills: Marketing and Sales

"I have never worked a day in my life without selling.  If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard."

I read an article today on Linked In by an author whom I respect and often read articles by:   Daniel Newman.  He had some great insight when the Marketing and Sales departments don't mesh Linked In PULSE.   

Good on Daniel Newman for bringing this to light.  Organizations should pay heed to his advice.  They are often not aligned, in my opinion, because they don't have the same accountability metrics.  Marketing generates leads and sales complain that they're weak.  There are multiple branches under each organization, or should be, so that the strengths of each or highlighted.  i.e. Sales are looking for high valued customers that takes focus and commitment to win while Marketing brings brand awareness and the leads generated could be pre-qualified before being handed over to sales. 
I'm always thankful when more prolific authors write about something I have a long time ago (without the clicks or attention). 
I wrote in October 2011 on everyone needing to get on the same page:  I had written succinctly:  It all comes down to hunting (catching), farming (sowing) and then cooking (customer service) and delivering (operations).
I am going to side with sales on this debate simply because "sales" seems to be a catchall title Responsibilities evolve depending upon who the person is selling for, what the organization's definition of sales is, or who is selling.
Why?  Because I have found across the years, that most people in organizations consider "anyone who talks to a customer is in sales".  That is just wrong - everyone in every organization should be talking to customers. 
To reason why this attitude is fragmenting companies and scattering the focus of its sales professionals.  A really cold lead generated from an inquiry from your website is not something that you automatically hand over to sales.  If you want your sales to increase, they need to focus.  You can't expect them to be running around like a dog chasing its tail following up every single slip of napkin with a name on it as sales lead. 
To help this debate, everyone needs to get at the table (again) with a flip board.  If you're the business owner, don't delegate this to someone else.  If you end up refereeing between marketing and sales, it is your own fault for not clearly outlining what is expected from marketing and sales. 
What is marketing's job?
  • branding
  • sales material
  • direct mail
  • website
  • generating leads
  • social media
  • communications with customers
  • promotions or programs to create sales leads
  • increase awareness
  • advertising campaigns
  • telemarketing campaigns
  • email campaigns
What is sales' job?
  • hunting for new business
  • visiting/servicing existing customers
  • following up ALL leads
  • following up pre-qualified leads
  • solving issues by customers
  • chasing past due accounts
  • networking
  • communications, writing, proposals
  • securing and responding to RFPs (requests for proposals)
  • solving billing issues
  • cold calling
  • completing weekly, daily call sheets for management
  • scheduling appointments with decision makers
  • forecasting revenue from accounts, prospects, suspects
  • projecting new sales opportunities
  • keeping CRM (customer relationship management) systems up to date
I hope you get my drift ... if you bombard sales with so much on their "to do" is it any wonder that they're unfocussed, scattered and unable to plan carefully where their next activity will be.  Depending on the company, the frequency of responsibility can vary as well. 
If you want sales to focus on driving new sales from high valued customers, why would you have them pulled in so many directions at the same time and by so many people?
Successful sales organizations have a structure and tiered system on which to handle incoming inquiries, issues, soft leads, etc.  They understand that their sales funnel has multi-levels and should be handled by the right people, with the right skills, at the right time.  Distinguishing deal seekers from customer relations is critical.
I wrote this so you can begin the conversation.  Whether you are launching a new business with a sales arm and marketing arm, carve out the expectations and responsibilities for each activity.  Don't just have sales forecast revenue, have marketing predict leads to be generated.  Have them assign a dollar amount but don't just have it as an amount in a column in a month.  Do follow up on a quarterly basis to monitor who is blowing smoke up everyone's hinds.  Far too many fall for great numbers without comparing with actuals. 
Don't fall into the trap that a sales pro who generates a lot of activity is doing you any favors.  That is done so that you will be distracted and think they're doing amazing work for you, until you look at your actual revenue graphs.  Show them who's the boss in a way that you lead in a way that gives your team to perform while you hold them accountable.