our nine year anniversary

Felix & Klaus at the start of conceptbakery

Felix and Klaus at the birthday of conceptbakery in Santa Monica 09/24/02

It’s been 9 years today since my brother Felix and I started conceptbakery at a sunny day in Los Angeles. We are getting ready for our first big anniversary next year and will certainly keep some beans in the bank for that day.

Felix is flat out the best business partner I could have ever thought of. He is the person I can blindly trust. Being a 50/50 partner in everything we do has and will never be a problem. Whenever we differ about a subject the eventual outcome will be better than if the conversation wouldn’t have taken place. He is one of the sharpest and most dedicated and focused people you’ll ever meet. It has been pretty amazing to see my youngest brother grow into one of the leading thinkers of modern day marketing in Germany.  I’d wish all business alliances would work that well. Many corporate lawyers would have to look for new things to do, like doing some social media marketing and joining our team.

From the days were Felix and I worked both at home on our desks in Los Angeles (before I moved to Denver) and Cologne we’ve grown to a team of 18.

A few words to the team
Every new member of conceptbakery has been adding more than just their work skills. You go the extra mile and guarantee the success of our company. It is you who should also feel proud today. Take a look at our client list and know that you own a piece of that. Getting them into the door might be a job Felix or I have taken care of. But keeping them as clients wouldn’t be possible without you.

I am privileged to work with all of you on both sides of the Atlantic. It doesn’t matter where you are. Our awesome people in Denver mean just as much to me as everyone in Cologne that I get to see twice per year.

Of course things are shifting a bit as we keep growing. But at the end each single one of you is close to Felix’s and my heart. If we can’t say that any longer then we are loosing what’s got us to where we are today. (more…)

Sample social media conversation with a small business owner

Antique three-column full-keyboard cash register.

Image via Wikipedia

A recent post at eMarketer showed that many small businesses (SMB) are struggling with seeing real value in engaging in social media. In a survey, 43% stated using social media is not necessary to their business, 14% said they don’t know enough about it and 24% said they do it when they have time. Only a mere 12% stated social media is a must and they do it all the time. That’s only 1 in 8 business owners!

You or one of your friends might belong to the vast majority of these owners that are not serious social media marketers or chose to ignore it entirely. I’d would like to acknowledge you and say “I get it”. Whatever you’ve heard or learned about social media so far has, obviously, not made enough sense for you to make it a significant part of your marketing efforts.

Maybe you have heard about some of the success stories of smaller businesses on the web, but they sound like someone winning the lottery. Obviously, that’s not something you’d want to bet your business on.

However, there is value to social media for any business. My conversation with non-social media converts often follow a certain path, starting with a fairly general statement like this:

SMB: “I don’t have time or money for this and I don’t see how this applies to a small business owner like me.” (more…)

Mac App Store: winners and losers

By launching the Mac App Store, Mr. Jobs has effectively taken control of the last piece of software development for the Mac world.

It is going to be hard to make a dime anywhere in the Apple ecosystem without handing a cut to Apple. Apple’s level of control now far exceeds the power Microsoft ever had in its heyday.

As an immediate impact, we will see that people will buy more software. The masses will be leaning toward tools that are in the “micro-payment” price range.

Developers will be tempted to cater to this audience. Software will be written simply for this purpose. Writing software to cater to the (non-existing) needs of a general audience is quite different than writing to a niche segment where you know who your audience is. (more…)

New Facebook Groups: How Could it Affect You?

Facebook just gave its Groups feature a major overhaul. It has the potential to deeply affect user behavior. Facebook is claiming that this is a new cornerstone in their strategy and that new features built around this premise will going to follow.

This 2-minute video by Facebook covers what is new.

Here are some initial thoughts on what could change for you: (more…)

Happy 8th Birthday conceptbakery

Eight years ago today, my brother Felix and I signed the incorporation documents and conceptbakery was born. Ten years prior to this date, the notion of working with my little brother wouldn’t have come to my mind, but 8 years later, I can safely say that it’s the best decision I could have made.

Starting as a team of two, one in each country, conceptbakery grew from there. Today,  we have an in-house staff of 14 and a great network of freelancers that make up our extended family. As a result of our growth, we set up new offices this year in both Cologne and Denver.

We began with one client project and now have a long list of amazing clients that let us do what we are best at: coming up with unique ideas and turning them into reality. A number of our relationships with long-term clients have become true partnerships.

The label of our work has changed. Eight years ago, we mostly talked about guerilla and community marketing. Today, we have more tools at hand. The terms word-of-mouth and social media marketing are often used to describe our work. At the end of the day, though, we are still doing the same thing:

We develop original stories that people like to share amongst each other. We build bridges between businesses and their audience, and we avoid planned advertising that could annoy people. We want to turn a passive audience into active participants in a dialog about a brand or product. We implement our campaigns by interlacing many different mediums — the more channels, the bigger the challenge and the fun.

Another element of our work is to pick up trends in the US and introduce them to Germany before they become mainstream. I still remember the first conversation I had with my brother about Twitter. I could almost hear him shaking his head over the phone. Six months later, a Twitter feed was on embedded one of our large German clients’ homepage.

Here’s a current example: Facebook Places is not yet live in Germany. We are able to play with it here in Denver and are ready to add it to our project flow in German the second Facebook lets us use it.

We have had plenty of ups and a couple of downs; mostly fun and laughter but also moments of disaster and frustration. Overall, we can look back at an awesome time and look forward to an exciting future.

A very special thanks is owed to our entire conceptbakery team. All of you are part of our extended family. Felix and I are happy about everyone that joins us and I love to see everyone’s face. In Denver and of course during my regular trips to our German office. You are awesome! We wouldn’t be where we are today without you!

Back to work…today we are shooting videos, working on two blogs and microsite, creating some t-shirt designs and various web graphics for a new campaign…good times.

Gotta have some cake in the midst of all of this, as well.

Huggies Pays Attention to Working Moms

Huggies, purveyor of disposable diapers and subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant, Kimberly-Clark, has launched an interesting cause marketing effort: The MomInspired Grant Program.

Kimberly-Clark is asking that, using their online application, mothers submit a proposal for an innovative product  that meets a previously overlooked parenting need. The company has $250,000 in grant money to award, with a maximum of $15,000 assigned to any one individual proposal.

One might think that a diaper company’s contest would be more along the lines of a mother-and-child photo contest, but no. With its new grant program, Huggies is targeting the working mom; a target group largely forgotten by companies marketing childcare goods.

It is decidedly unclear whether or not the Huggies’ money will, in fact, bring a new product to full fruition. Regardless, the campaign goes beyond the search for childcare product innovation– it serves to highlight the Huggies consideration of working mothers.

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Update on our StainTalk campaign

We don’t talk too much about our daily work on this blog but we’d like to keep you posted on what we actually do when we don’t work on publishing a book or posting on Facebook or Twitter.

In March, we introduced StainTalk, the new social media project commissioned by client Delta Carbona. (See our introductory blog post about it here). It covers many of our core strengths:
StainTalk microsite

  • Developing original and non-traditional concepts and turning them into reality
  • Creating a presence spanning from POS activities to a microsite, Facebook fan page, Twitter channel etc.
  • Creating entertaining content in an area that is not usually perceived to be a fun discussion topic.

Two months ago, we launched a program to provide a healthy balance of relevance between both the Carbona brand and the people talking about products and solutions related to Carbona’s range of products. We also instituted cause marketing with “Carbona Cares”  to manage Carbona’s philanthropic efforts. Carbona made an initial contribution of $10,000 to Colorado 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Ubuntu Now and its South Africa Project, which focuses on rape prevention and gender equality in the 2010 FIFA World Cup host country. The program will sponsor community workers in South Africa, and they will update regularly using small portable cameras in order to make the project more tangible for South Africa Project supporters in the US.
StainTalk Twitter

Recent Developments
In the few weeks since we launched StainTalk, we’ve developed a Club with over 20,000 members.  We introduced a “Cleaning Heroes Club” and offered free samples of Carbona’s Color Grabber product to the first 10,000 members. The free sample campaign was ultimately featured by thousands of websites and successfully increased consumer awareness of the StainTalk community.

Most importantly, we were then able to directly obtain invaluable feedback of Carbona and Color Grabbers via surveys by members who received samples. Their responses demonstrate we’re building a  community of loyal brand evangelists.
StainTalk Facebook
Under StainTalk’s social media umbrella of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and the microsite, we’ve been able to initiate conversation directly between customers and Carbona for stain solutions… among other topics.

Furthermore, we recently expanded StainTalk’s presence on YouTube with original and fun short movie clips that appeal to a wide variety of demographics.

Currently, we’re focusing on a word-of-mouth special: StainArt. StainArt combines our mission of finding fun with the lighter side of cleaning with easily accessible cause marketing. We are encouraging our members to pay tribute to their greatest messes by participating the StainArt online store, StainWear. $5 from each purchase will support the Carbona Cares program.

StainWear shop
We’ve also utilized cross media marketing by creating graphic toppers and free-standing inserts (FSIs) for merchandise at Point-of-Sale to promote StainTalk and StainWear. By combining successful online and offline campaigns, we have strengthened Carbona’s brand name in both the social media sphere and directly in the store aisle.

This campaign is still in its early stages. There is much more to come and we’ll keep you posted.

Enough bragging for today ;)

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Video treats: Fun, advocacy and trumping Whitney Houston

Here’s your latest web video treats; an a la carte selection of business cards, songs, Starbucks and dancing

Master of Business Card Throwing

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We at conceptbakery enjoy networking. But what do you do with that collection of business cards you know you’ll never need? How about using them for target practice? As this ‘Master’ shows, the opportunities are endless: pop a balloon, slice an apple, toss up 3 stories into a building and onto a desk, etc. It can be a new form of exercise at the office. Excess business cards have never been so recreational.

Boy Singing Whitney Houston

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Since Whitney Houston isn’t really pulling it off any longer, young Taiwanese boy Lin Yu Chun steps to the plate. The winner of singing competition Super Star Avenue receives $1 million and a chance to release his/her album. Looks pretty genuine, right? (Note: He is misidentified as Chinese).

One person can save trees, together we can save forests.

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For Earth Day this year, Starbucks offered free coffee to customers that brought in reusable coffee containers. The initiative was part of Starbucks’ “The Big Picture” campaign, which is continuing to urge supporters to join in their goal of achieving 100% of cups being reusable or recyclable by 2015. To sign the petition, go here.

Jill/Kevin Wedding Entrance Dance

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Done to Chris Brown’s “Forever”, this was a viral sensation (48 million views) long before the singer himself became more known for his physical abuse of girlfriend Rihanna. The video merits a fresh mention due to the subsequent actions of the newlyweds, who have since directed attention to the Sheila Wellstone Institute for violence prevention and prevention advocacy. As of 4/5/10, 1,251 donors have donated $32,339.

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Facebook fan page in prime time TV

You most probably know that we manage a number of Facebook fan pages for our clients. There’s no need to make a big fuss about it. Last Saturday though, something out of the ordinary happened and it’s worth sharing.

We’ve been setting up a YouTube partner channel and a fan page for a prime-time TV show (Verstehen Sie Spass?) that airs on Germany’s number one channel. The show has been around for 30 years but has a new host. Along with the new host, the station wanted to breath more fresh air into their concept by adding some social media elements.

During the show the host presented a laptop and the fan page was prominently displayed on the background. You can see a picture that Felix took while this was all happening.

Instant Results
The number of fans jumped immediately from 500 to 1400. Over the next few days that number climbed steadily to 2800.

The fans immediately  became very active during the show and the conversation among them continues with some posts getting as many as 40 thumbs ups and 40 comments.

There was instant feedback on what they liked and what could be improved. The show’s producers could almost see how the show was received– in real time.

Next steps
The show airs every three months and we are looking forward to the next one. This leg of the project was executed with very little preparation time; with a longer planning phase we expect even more impact in three months from now.

Prior to the next show it will be possible to reach out and engage with the fans.

Personal notes
We can’t deny that it’s pretty awesome to see our work being successful in prime time TV. No worries, though… we still have our feet on the ground ;)

The inventor and original host of the show was the my neighbor’s dad back in Luxembourg. I met him many years ago and now we work with his successor. It’s a small world, after all.

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Video Treats: iPads, iPhone, school play and a song without words

You wonder how responsive the touch screen of the iPad is? Take a look at Yoshitoshi Abw doing some mange scribbling with it. Try that at home and send us your masterpiece ;)

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Ford’s Socially Responsible Comeback

With the majority of the American auto industry in shambles, Ford Motor Company has made heroic efforts in marketing to both maintain its company image and stay financially afloat. In executing these plans, however, Ford has gone beyond mere brand maintenance to a company well on its way to a complete revitalization of its image.
To propel the trend, Ford has pushed a company-wide commitment to social issues. Among other efforts, the automaker has attached itself to Invisible People TV, a movement whose sole purpose is to shed light on the plight of America’s homeless.

Collection of random social media stats

Here is a set of random numbers that we collected over the last couple of weeks. You might have seen some of them but our memory can use a little “refreshing” once in a while.

Twitter Stats

Statistics (sadisitics) Home Edition
Image by littleREDelf via Flickr

As of February 2010 50% of all Twitter messages are in English

Source: Semiocast

Heavy users on Twitter in the UK account for 7% of the user base and 79% of all Tweets (as of January 2010). Heavy users are those spending at least 60 minutes a month on Twitter.

  • 26% of the medium users account for 18% of the Tweets.
  • 67% of the casual users (≥5 min/ month) account for only 4% of all Tweets.
  • 52% of all Facebook users in the UK account for 98% of the activitiy on the network.
  • 9% of all Facebook users spent over 20 hours per month on Facebook.

Source: Nielsen

  • Only 21% of all Twitter users have at least 10 followers, follow 10 at least people and have tweeted at least 10 times.
  • 51% of all users follow fewer than 5 people.
  • 34% of all users have not tweeted once.

Source: Barracuda Labs (more…)

Showcase – A US household brand gets up and running in the social media sphere

Delta CarbonaDelta Carbona, L.P. is the oldest manufacturer of stain removal products in America. Their “Stain Devils” are unique since there are 9 different products for separate groups of stains, in addition to other household cleaning solutions. Since they are a client of ours, we got to try their products and the Stain Devils really impressed us. Yet the brand had zero social media presence.

The challenge: Creating a meaningful entry into the social media sphere

StainTalk - Cleaning Heroes UnitedOption number one would have been to launch a program under the name Carbona or Stain Devils. This would have been either brand or product centric and we felt limited in the range of conversation topics we could initiate or participate in.
Therefore we opted to move the brand name in the background and create a presence under the name StainTalk- Cleaning Heores United.

To launch StainTalk, we used the opportunities of multiple social networks to harness the existing conversation Carbona has with its clients. The project spans from a microsite to a Facebook fan page to a Twitter channel.

Our involvement

We manage the program on behalf of Carbona and try to provide relevant content every day. Interested visitors are invited to pose questions, exchange tips and tricks, and just have fun exploring the lighter side of creating and removing stains. (more…)

This Week’s Video Treats: songs, dogs, falls, and a mystery

Here’s your weekly gourmet selection of viral videos. Just like last week, we’ve picked some that really caught our interest.

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You might remember Dave Carroll — or at least his famous “United Breaks Guitars” viral videos. In 2008, he watched in horror from an airplane as United Airlines baggage handlers threw his $3500 guitar and broke it. After United refused to take responsibility, he told them he would write three songs and post them publicly about his experience. Four days after he posted the first song, United’s stock price fell 10% (US$180 million), a drop partly attributed to the sensation his video caused. Today, the first 2 videos in his trilogy have more than 9 million views on his official YouTube channel. In his third and final “United Breaks Guitars” video, he acknowledges that the airline “essentially broke [his] career”. However, he also recounts some of the emails he received while the first two videos were at the height of their popularity and reiterates that customers will no longer tolerate bad customer service.

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Country singer Brad Paisley was wrapping up his encore performance of “Alcohol” in South Carolina when he tripped while running back off the ramp and fell hard, flat on his face. He managed to get back up and wrap the show before heading to a local hospital. Paisley is well-known as a prankster with a sense of humor and he (and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams Paisley from “Father of the Bride”) kept things light-hearted, posting pics with medical staff and encouraging fans to post footage. He also promised a meet and greet to whoever posted footage first. Later, he uploaded a picture on his Twitter account to show off his bruise, saying “If ur wondering,it was the last song&last night of the tour&I was running fast on stage,tripped.really did think I broke a rib or something“. For awhile, his graceless moment was the top story on CNN.com.

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MTV is calling this “perhaps the greatest viral effort of all time.” The first video, called “Prelude 699130082.451322-“, appeared in early January. Six other videos have followed. Each featured a woman filthy with dirt and visually stunning glimpses of nature, and ended with a black screen and a white drawing of an animal — goat, owl, whale, bee, llama and monkey. The guessing game will continue until the seventh and presumed final appears sometime this week. Right now, the only known background is that the videos were originally sent to music blogs and the videos themselves were uploaded under the ‘music’ category. Until the reveal, however, people are guessing everyone from Lady GaGa and Christina Aguilera to Nine Inch Nails and Rob Zombie as the ones being behind it. This Christina Aguilera fansite has an in-depth analysis.

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This video became very successful overnight even though it doesn’t really have a story other than a kibble of dog foes being thrown into the air and some dogs watching and one eventually catching it. The secret sauce is a camera taking 1000 images per second allow for super slow-motion that shows the dog’s movements in a way we have never seen before. Apparently we were not the only ones that were impressed with these shots.

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Seventh Generation pushing the cause marketing envelope

At conceptbakery, we’re always looking out for great new cause marketing case studies. Recently, we’ve been quite taken with Seventh Generation’s Million Baby Crawl, an initiative that ultimately hopes to tighten government regulations on the chemical content in common household products.

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