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Charm from Chaos

Charm from Chaos

First Coast Magazine’s MagLab project takes the wonderful chaos at One Spark and transforms it into a unique crowd-sourced magazine. This “bold new experiment in print” combines the traditions of print and mixes it with the pace and responsiveness of today’s technology. This combination is producing First Coast Magazine’s May issue day-by-day.   From First Coast Magazine’s MagLab website: Throughout the five-day festival, First Coast MagLab at Dalton Agency will allow One Spark attendees to take part in the magazine publishing process by attending live feature interviews, voting on the crowd-sourced cover artwork, and watching the editorial and design teams produce the publication page-by-page. The issue will focus on entrepreneurship and visionaries of the First Coast, and after only five days of production, it will be digitally published in time for One Spark’s closing ceremony.     The First Coast Magazine team takes interviews, photos, and audience feedback, compiles it all into finished content, and plugs the content into their design. They then upload the content to BlueToad and their digital issue goes live. Readers can check out the daily content at firstcoastmaglab.com as it goes live.   Three interviews a day, during a five-day festival, and hundreds of live attendees with and hundreds more voting on the issue’s cover and daily content – it’s a wonder how First Coast Magazine is able to keep pace. The creation of great content and the folding-in of daily audience participation make for a huge challenges for their production team.   While visiting First Coast Magazine’s operations based in Dalton Agency near the heart of the One Spark event, we got the...
Innovation: the new norm

Innovation: the new norm

Technology and innovation are on my mind a lot lately. In the last 3 months, I’ve done three things I’ve never done before: Rode an Uber in Atlanta, measured my heartbeat with my phone, and Pinned my first pin to a board. Will we one day talk to my kids through my watch like Captain Kirk? Not sure…but for sure innovation is changing the way we live.     Ever heard of Crowd Publishing? First Coast Magazine is creating its May Issue LIVE during One Spark – a crowd funding festival set in Jacksonville, FL from April 7-12, 2015. The team is creating the May issue in 5 days – and live in front of 250,000 expected attendees through a concept they are calling “First Coast MagLab”. Each day, magazine interviews occur right in the middle of the action and with a live audience who’s members can ask questions of the interviewee. Readers get to vote online to choose the cover and can watch First Coast editors and designers create the issue in real time.     Each day First Coast shares the “content-in-progress” as a BlueToad digital edition through email and social media. One Spark attendees can engage with the content assembled the day before and see what is still being formed. At the end of the event on Sunday, First Coast will share the completed May issue through its app and online during the One Spark Closing Ceremony.   Technology is enabling First Coast to embrace its audience in a new way,  deeply embedding them into the fabric of the First Coast community. We are so thrilled...
Advice so nice, we’ve heard it more than twice.

Advice so nice, we’ve heard it more than twice.

What successful entrepreneurs have in common.   The theme at One Spark hasn’t changed. Standing out among a crowd of innovators and interesting entrepreneurs is no small task. Here at One Spark, 555 creators vie for votes and funding from up to 40,000 people walking past their booths and venues.   But what makes a creator stand out in the long run?   During the morning press conference held at the heart of the One Spark event near Hemming Park, three One Spark Jurors explained to attendees and reporters what really sets individuals and organizations apart. The aptly named “Spark Tank” chooses creators that make a special impact with their message and give them the opportunity to present their product and vision to a group of prospective investors, much like the entrepreneur-based reality show “Shark Tank.”   During this press conference, we heard themes that reminded us of the Speaker Summit and message from Rock My Image’s AMP pitch.   What themes reoccurred? Successful creators at One Spark have certain commonalities. They have clear goals, a strong mission, solid implementation, outstanding presentation, and dynamic reach; all of which reflect their dedication and professionalism.   The jurors mentioned their impressions from some of the outstanding artists at One Spark. They recognized that the arts could be considered a field where intuition may seem to be the driving force over analysis and “traditional” business practices. However, those artistic creators that developed strong plans and curated a clear path for their projects were the ones that received the greatest interest and ultimately would receive the best rewards.   Passion and individual dreams...
Standing Out in a Forest of distractions

Standing Out in a Forest of distractions

Why your message needs to stand out. The pitch deck at One Spark is a daunting place. Creators stand on a stage draped with bright banners, dotted with large monitors, and open to the elements of the vibrant festival atmosphere. Loud music from creator booths and shouts for more food and beer envelop the area until the creator breaks through the noise with the help of their the stage amp.   It seems that no matter what the platform, creators are constantly trying to stand out in a forest of distractions. The task of delivering a thoughtfully targeted and passionate message can sometimes be overwhelming.     Kenny Harper, Digital Director of Rock My Image, knows this experience first hand. As he stood on the pitch deck at One Spark, he passionately delivered the message behind a project he and his partners have worked to develop.   AMP provides structured marketing education aimed at helping creators assess their current status, determine the necessary goals for their success, and define and prioritize the actions they need to take. You can learn about their Action Marketing Platform (AMP) project, in the blog written by our CEO, Paul DeHart, and gain his perspective on their work. You can also visit their website and digital brochure.   Kenny’s presentation and AMP’s philosophy are clear: “Content creators need to know how to distribute their message to the world clearly and effectively.”   This philosophy should be paramount to any content creator. Building a relationship with your audience by establishing your mission, voice, and message reflects a certain responsibility towards the maintenance of your brand....
AMP

AMP

I spoke with a neat creator today at One Spark called AMP (#21804).  AMP stands for Action Marketing Platform and is headed up by Manny Torres and Kenny Harper, along with some other partners.  Their mission is to amplify business growth through online tools and education.  I chatted with Manny and Kenny for a while at their booth at One Spark.  They officially pitch their project to crowd funders this evening in downtown Jacksonville.   What I like about AMP is it seems focused on the foundational elements of business growth.  They want to streamline and help guide small businesses online (think “Turbo Tax” said Kenny) through the process of establishing vision, mission, priorities, and, ultimately, brand.  Their objective is to simplify and make affordable the process of helping companies set a plan in these areas, take action, assess results, and repeat the process.  They believe that these fundamental steps are a prerequisite to seeking more personal consultative services from professionals – like marketing or business advisors.  I agree.   At BlueToad, this process was critical to us establishing our identity, building cohesion internally, crystalizing our goals, and executing against key priorities.  It was not an easy or short process.  It was evolutionary in nature.  One of my favorite business books is The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.  We used that book in particular to help us establish a cohesive and trusting leadership team and to obtain clarity around what we do and why we exist.  At BlueToad, our mission is simple – to help content creators reach their audience.  We have since developed a vision, core values, and goals around this mission....
Opening Day of One Spark

Opening Day of One Spark

Today was the first day of One Spark, the world’s largest crowd funding festival in Jacksonville, Florida.  BlueToad is the official digital event guide partner of One Spark, and I had the pleasure of attending today’s speaker summit.  I got the chance to listen to a number of great business leaders, including Tamara Mendelsohn – VP of Marketing for Eventbrite, Jeff Hoffman – co-founder of Priceline, and Jack Welch – former Chairman and CEO of General Electric Company.   I want to share three quick takeaways from the day. People want to “Buy Experiences Not Things” – Tamara Mendelsohn talked about the importance and value of experiences and how it fits into the mission of Eventbrite.  Putting the Experience First is also one of our core values at BlueToad, pushing us to constantly consider both the experience of customers using our platform and the experience of readers using our software.  Tamara’s talk was a great reminder to me of the importance of this core value, and the work we can still do to make using BlueToad a truly enjoyable experience. Be an “InfoSponge” – Jeff Hoffman encouraged business leaders to get out of the office and soak up as much information as possible.  Most business decisions are made from within the office but Hoffman suggests that it is better to make certain decisions out of the office and in light of the perspective of your customer.  He also suggested not being picky on the source of your information – as information from other industries can often provide fresh solutions to your problems. Over deliver, keep learning, and exude positive energy – At the seasoned age of 79, Jack Welch has...