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Charity Runner: The Beginning of a Fundraising Journey

Photo credit: chadjthiele on Instagram.Note: This post deviates from the regular voice of this blog. It is meant to document the beginning of my fundraising efforts for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I am posting it because it will give some context to future posts. It also lets readers know where else they can find me on the Internet.

This year is my fifth year serving on the event planning committee for the Twin Cities Take Steps Walk, a fundraiser that benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

As their website points out, “Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis is the Foundation’s largest fundraising event of local community walks dedicated to raising funds to find cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Participants and teams raise funds throughout the year and come together at the Take Steps walk event to celebrate their fundraising achievements!”

As part of the event planning committee, I help plan one of the Take Steps walks to help others raise money for this important cause. However, I never actually took part in the fundraising efforts. That is, until this year.

From Crohn’s Patient to Charity Runner

I chose to help with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Take Steps Walk because I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1995 while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Without getting into all the details, I can say that I was able to keep the disease in check for nearly two decades with the help of medication.

However, in September of 2013 I was told that I would have to have surgery to remove my colon because of complications that were caused by the disease.

In the months that followed, I decided that it was time to try to increase my fitness to prepare for the surgery.

This is part of the reason that I started running in the summer of 2014.

In fact, at the time, I decided that if I was going to take up running, I would gradually train myself to run the full 26.2 miles to complete a marathon.

The first year I ran several 5k races.

In 2015 I increased the distance to 10 miles and then upped the mileage to 13.1 miles in 2016.

Then, just before my 43rd birthday, I called up the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to say that I was ready to raise money as a Team Challenge charity runner in the 2017 Chicago Marathon. (Team Challenge is similar to Take Steps, but participants run instead of walk.)

Documenting My Team Challenge Run

In an effort to document my training for the marathon, I started a sideblog on Tumblr (charityrunner.tumblr.com) and a YouTube channel (Charity Runner).

You can also connect on mapmyrun.com.

I am also going to be posting on my Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. I am @chadjthiele on all three of these social networking sites. (Note: I try to keep my Twitter focused on marketing, but I post running updates every once in a while.)

And, of course, there is the fundraising page on the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation website.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned, I have helped other people raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for a few years. However, I didn’t take part in the actual fundraising efforts.

That was, until this year.

At the end of the journey, I plan to document some of the things that I learn along the way. (For example, company matching donations are awesome!)

Until then, please follow me on the social networking sites that I mentioned above and donate!

Thanks in advance.

Chad Thiele (Crohn’s patient since 1995, #nocolonstillrollin since 2014)

Photo credit: chadjthiele on Instagram.

Video credit: Charity Runner on YouTube.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Online Video Marketing – Just What the Doctor Ordered

If your business isn’t utilizing online video to market your products or services, you are probably missing out on a great opportunity to connect with your customers and potential customers.

A research report that was published last year by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project points out that the percent of online adults who watch or download videos has grown in recent years, increasing from 69% of adult internet users in 2009 to 78% in 2013. This number is even more important given the fact that the number of adults who use the Internet is also growing.

According to the report, the increase in online adults who post, watch and download videos is being driven by mobile phones and video-sharing sites like YouTube.

However, as David Meerman Scott points out in his book, titled “The New Rules of Marketing & PR,” increased access to high speed Internet connections and technology that make it easy for anyone to create and upload video content also had something to do with the growth in online video usage.

Special Effects Not Required

If you check out what the big brands like Coca-Cola, Red Bull, or Old Spice are doing with online videos, you might get the impression that a huge budget is required for success.

However, that’s just not true. In fact, brands can be successful without all the Hollywood-style special effects, just ask Blendtec. (They were able to create viral videos with little more than a man in lab coat and a blender.)

The Hidden ROI of Online Videos

As is the case with all online content, online videos can have a positive effect on the business’s bottom line in other ways, as well, including decreasing operating expenses. This can be achieved by creating educational videos that help customers use the business’s product.

For example, take a look at what the Rug Doctor is doing with its YouTube channel. Even though the product is relatively simple to use, in my opinion, the directions that they include when you rent a Rug Doctor do not offer enough explanation on how to use their product effectively. While they fail in creating easy-to-use written instructions, they do an excellent job with their YouTube channel. The videos don’t look like they cost the company very much to make, but as the number of views testify, they have success demonstrating how the product is used.

As of today, one the basic educational videos that explains how to use a Rug Doctor has been viewed by over 435,000 people on YouTube. Just think about how much staff time it could have potentially saved the company if even half of those people didn’t have to call to ask questions. Not only that, think of all time they may have saved those same customers. That’s just good business.

The fact that this many people viewed the Rug Doctor’s videos does not come as a surprise when you look at online video trends.

According to the Pew Research study that I previously mentioned, educational videos are among some of the most widely viewed online video genres.

Final Thoughts 

Many experts recommend that businesses of all sizes use online videos in their marketing efforts for a wide range of reasons.

The Pew Research study reinforces the fact that consumers are already watching video online. This is not going to change any time soon. In fact, as the Internet gets faster and more options are available to reach your customers and potential customers, it will become not only a recommended tool in your marketing toolbox, it might become the key to success.

Photo credit: jm3 on Flickr on Flickr.

Video credit: Pew Research Center

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Geography of Marketing: The Podcast Edition

In the past few posts, I’ve placed a lot of emphasis on how geography influences what people buy, how they shop and how they consume content.

Given the fact that consumers act differently based on where they live, it makes sense that marketers have learned to adapt their marketing techniques to meet the needs of the businesses in the geographical regions where they are currently working in.

In addition to the differences in consumer behavior, the industries that marketers work in may be influencing the types of marketing campaigns that are currently being used. In other words, it may be the case that each marketing community adapts its marketing techniques to meet the needs of the primary industries in that region.

However, it may also be the case that marketers in each community are sharing ideas with each other in that region and thus, the same ideas are being spread over and over again.

In order to break this cycle, marketers need to get ideas from others outside of their “bubbles” that they currently live in.

The obvious solution is to attend national or regional events in other parts of the country in order to network and share ideas with marketers who might have different points of view. However, many marketers don’t have the budget for this type of networking.

Another solution is to read books and blog posts from marketers in other areas of the country. This is something that I highly recommend. However, sometimes time is an issue.

That is exactly why I love podcasts.

Podcasts often are a free way to gain valuable insights from marketers around the country or the world, for that matter, in a way that allows you to do something else at the same time, like drive or clean the house.

Podcasts That I’d Recommend

Last year, I wrote a blog post that highlights some really great marketing and technology podcasts, including the BeanCast, ADVERVE, and Marketing Over Coffee. I still listen to many of the podcasts on that list on a regular basis.

However, I’ve added a few others to my rotation. These include:

AMA’s MarketingPower Podcast – In this podcast, marketing thought leaders provide insights about the challenges that face businesses today.

Six Pixels of Separation – Hosted by Mitch Joel, this podcast often features some of the biggest names in the marketing and PR world. This podcast should definitely be on your list.

The Digital Dive Podcast – Based out of Atlanta, this bi-weekly podcast is hosted by Emily Binder and Melanie Touchstone. In each episode, the hosts discuss the current events that are shaping the digital landscape.

There are also a few podcasts that I plan to listen to in the near future, including Chris Brogan’s “The Human Business Way” and Marcus Sheridan’s “Mad Marketing Podcast.”

Finally, my list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention HubSpot’s Marketing Update. The show is filled with useful information that businesses of all sizes can benefit from. In episode #229, Mike Volpe mentioned that the show will soon be available in an audio version. When that happens, it will be a lot easier for people to listen to the show on a more regular basis.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned last year, podcasts are a great source of information.

They give people the ability to increase their knowledge while doing other tasks that need to be done in their day-to-day lives.

Moreover, I feel that podcasts are an important way for marketers to keep up with news and information and get suggestions from other business leaders outside their “bubbles” that they currently live in.

By listening to podcasts, marketers might learn something that could help their businesses gain the edge they need to outsell their competitors. At the very least, they might be entertained for an hour or two.

Photo credit: Compudemano on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Facial Recognition Technology and Privacy: Is a Deal Really Worth It?

When you mention facial recognition technology, many people cringe and think of an invasion of privacy that will lead to the government tracking their every move and taking away their civil liberties.

On the other hand, when facial recognition technology is mentioned to other people, they get excited about all the possible cool things that can be done, from improved security systems to marketing opportunities.

Where you stand on this issue is probably going to determine how you feel about a new high-tech loyalty program that is being tested by redpepper, an advertising agency with offices in Atlanta and Nashville.

But, before we get into that further, I want to refresh your memory about another use of facial recognition technology that I talked about in a post last month.

In the post, I mentioned digital signage that is using facial recognition technology that helps identify basic demographics (gender, approximate age, body type, etc.) of the consumers who are looking at the digital sign and then uses that information to deliver relevant ads to them.

Personally, I think that this use of facial recognition technology is harmless because it is only identifying the characteristics of the person, not who the person is. In other words, the consumer’s face is not being matched to a large database to identify their exact identity.

It’s a good thing that I didn’t argue that such a database doesn’t even exist, because only a few days later, I learned that there is a database that I didn’t even think about—Facebook.

Here’s where redpepper enters the story.

Facedeals

As an article on the Los Angeles Times website reports, “A new app is being tested in Nashville, Tenn., that can check in people on Facebook and send them offers using facial-recognition cameras.”

“Called Facedeals, the new service uses cameras installed at businesses’ front doors to read people’s faces as they enter,” the article continues. “If the people who come in are users of the app, they will be checked in, and based on their “like” history, they would receive a customized offer.”

Keep in mind, the idea of getting a deal based on checking in is not new. Businesses around the country are doing the same thing using Foursquare and other location-based social networking sites. In fact, last year I wrote a blog post about Concentrics Restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia. With the help of PlacePunch, Concentrics Restaurants was doing a really great job of offering deals to loyal customers who checked in on Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla or Yelp.

It appears that the main difference is that Facedeals uses facial recognition technology to check a consumer in every time they enter an establishment that participates in the program. In addition, Facedeals also customizes the deal offered based on the participants “likes” on Facebook.

You can find additional information about Facedeals on the redpepper website.

Privacy Issues

If you search YouTube, you will find that there are people who are letting their opinions be known, both for and against Facedeals.

As you would expect, the normal privacy issues are being brought to the forefront.

Personally, I’m not against using facial recognition technology in this manner. The main reason for my stance is that it is opt in.

However, other people could argue that Facedeals could still track you based on your Facebook profile information even if you don’t opt in and just not tell you. But, let’s face it, the government might already be doing this.

The only problem that I have with Facedeals is that by automatically checking you in on Facebook, all the people who you are connected to on Facebook would know where you are every time you enter a participating establishment. (Without the facial recognition component, you get to choose when to check in and where to share the information.) This could be fixed by having a setting that allows the user to decide not share the check-ins on their Facebook page.

Conclusion

In the future, more technologies are going to be introduced that will push the envelope and challenge both our imagination and how we define our expectations of privacy.

Everyone is aware that facial recognition technologies exist.

However, some people are going to fight to limit its use.

Businesses that plan to use facial recognition technology need to be aware that they serve customers who embrace this type of technology and those who are vehemently against it. Therefore, they need to decide whether or not using a service similar to Facedeals is worth the effort.

Ultimately, though, it is the consumer who gets to decide. If enough people who are against this type of technology voice their opinion to the business owner, the business owner will be forced to listen. On the other hand, if a majority of customers embrace the technology, then its use will become a more common occurrence in businesses all over the world.

Therefore, it is going to be interesting to see how the people of Nashville welcome Facedeals.

My question to you is: If you were given the opportunity to participate in this type of service, would you choose to opt in?

Photo credit: david drexler on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Power of Social Media

People often see life through their own lens.

Some people even go through life believing that most people in the world think the same way that they do and want to live the same way that they do. Furthermore, they believe that there is something wrong with those people who disagree with their opinions.

However, the reality is that this couldn’t be more further from the truth. Everyone has a slightly different perspective on the way that life should be lived.

The Internet and all the social networking sites out there give people the opportunity to see the world through other people’s eyes, or at least get some insights into how others see the world. However, I’d speculate that many people don’t take advantage of the resources that are available to them because they are either short on time, lack the interest, or don’t want to shake up their world and try to imagine that someone else has a completely different perspective on life. Or even worse, they are afraid that they might find out that the way that the other person thinks might actually be more logical.

‘Kony 2012’

By now, you have probably heard about the 30-minute video produced by the San Diego-based charity, Invisible Children, that was created to raise awareness about the African guerrilla leader who is known for kidnapping children and forcing the boys to fight in his army and the girls to become sex slaves.

As the sign in the photo points out, most people should agree that Joseph Kony is an evil person who should be stopped. However, not everyone agrees that posting the video on YouTube was a good idea. In fact, some critics have said that the buzz that the video has created could actually make it more difficult to catch Kony.

The criticisms that this video received actually inspired this blog post.

Keep in mind, I’m not an expert on the best ways to capture guerrilla leaders in Africa, but my gut feeling is that the video is a good thing. If for no other reason, it forces people to think about issues that have an effect on people on the other side of the world.

What also intrigued me (and many other like-minded people) is the way that the message spread.

By leveraging social networking sites, the charity was able to bypass the traditional media and get the story out to millions of people and eventually make it so important that it has been covered by the traditional media, as well.

What This Means for Business

By using social media, Invisible Children was able to spread the word about a ruthless guerrilla leader who needs to be captured, and in the process was able to raise money to fund their charitable work.

However, the issue doesn’t need to be as tragic as this to get people mobilized to action. And, the thing is, given the nature of social media, it can be a consumer who starts a movement that can help or hinder your business.

Just look at how Kristen Christian, an art gallery owner in Los Angeles, California, used social media to encourage thousands of people to switch from banks to credit unions by organizing an event that she called “Bank Transfer Day” to protest, among other things, the $5 a month debit card fees that were being charged by Bank of America.

The event was so successful that according to the “Credit Union Directors Newsletter” published by the Credit Union National Association in December of 2011, “Since Bank of America announced its debit card fees in late September until Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5, nearly 700,000 consumers opened new accounts at credit unions—40,000 on Nov. 5 alone. To compare, credit unions added about 650,000 members throughout all of 2010.” (Note: For full disclosure, I must point out that I am a former employee of the Credit Union National Association.)

Final Thoughts

Social media has changed the way that we communicate.

It has given people who would have had a hard time getting their message out via the traditional media outlets the voice to try to change in the world.

It is important to acknowledge that we don’t all speak in a unified voice. That is, as humans we all have our own opinions on how to solve problems. Furthermore, people often disagree about whether there is a problem in the first place.

From a business perspective, this creates a unique challenge. Not only have businesses lost control of the message, but anything that a business says or does has the possibility to be a huge win or a huge setback, depending on the way that it is perceived by the public—particularly those people who are very vocal on the Internet.

Therefore, it becomes even more important to try to think through all of your business decisions in an effort to predict how your customers and potential customers might react. It is also important to understand that people from different backgrounds might have different reactions to your message.

And now, with the power of social media, they have the ability to let everyone know about it.

Photo credit: Robert Raines on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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