What Political Attack Ads Can Teach About Guerilla Marketing Techniques

This photo has been circulating the internet for a few days and I think it can teach entrepreneurs some pretty interesting things about marketing regardless of political views. First lets look at the actual photo. On the left, Mitt Romney is sitting in a chair on an airport tarmac getting his shoe wanded for security purposes. On the right, Barack Obama is walking past a janitor and “pounds it” (the modern, cool handshake). Both of these photos are put together to offer the viewer a contrast about the individuals, their beliefs, and ability to lead our country.

Why is this important to entrepreneurs? This is a fantastic job of implementing proven guerilla advertising and marketing techniques. Here are three effective aspects at play:

Use of public perception: The first aspect is the use of priorly held perceptions about each individual. People commonly think Romney is a rich, white man, while Obama is seen as an African-American who is “a man of the people.” This photo plays on those feelings by trying to make people think that Romney is receiving a shoe shine, while Obama is spending time with the everyday person. Right or wrong, these perceptions will persevere and are very powerful.

Use of powerful images: This “ad” uses two photos that are extremely powerful when you first look at them. It counts on the fact that the viewer will not look very hard at either one of them. They will not question them, but they will be in awe of their initial reaction to such powerful images. I must admit that at first glance, I thought Romney was getting a shoe shine as well. Shock and awe is a tactic that can create great results.

Viral Sharing/Exposure: You have heard that “any exposure is better than no exposure.” In this case, as long as people are talking, debating, or arguing over this ad, it is seen as effective. Create emotional responses from people and you will be more likely to get your desired results. Also, the viral sharing aspect is important because someone is much more likely to find an ad effective if it is attached to their friends in social media, rather than a generic ad. The more you can make something viral, the more eyes will see it, which ultimately increases effective exposure.

In the end, this ad accomplishes its goal through very simple means. Get people to solidify their thoughts on political candidates with two very simple photos. Context and delivery are important and affect the effectiveness of a campaign. This guerilla tactics not only work in politics, but in business as well!

Are there any other political ads that have similar traits? What other aspects do you see with this particular ad that could be used in business marketing?



Project-Based Learning for Better Students

This video is an example of project-based learning. There are numerous reasons why project-based learning will become the norm in classrooms across the country.  These reasons all contribute to a more effective learning environment for students.

The first reason that project-based learning is effective can be found in the unique learning style it presents.  Research shows that students who have hands-on participation in the classroom are able to stay more attentive and effectively retain more information.  This hands-on approach is rampant in elementary schools, but who said that it stopped working after a student moves to 6th grade?

The second reason that project-based learning is so effective, is due to the aspect of collaboration.  When a teacher puts students in small groups and asks them to share ideas or answers, the students are able to expand their thoughts and minds.  More importantly, collaboration is a skill that these students will be asked to continuously use once they enter the work force.  The theory is that with more practice, these work force employees will be more effective.

Lastly, in project-based learning each group of students is asked to present a final project or finding.  This keeps students accountable and allows them to take pride in their work.  The more positive rewards and sense of accomplishment that can be given to students, the more confidence they will possess.  As you see in the video from BIE, the students become extremely excited when speaking about their own ideas or models.  Confidence within students leads to them taking more chances for accomplishment.

My prediction is that the more project-based learning that is implemented in classrooms, the more effectively our students will learn materials presented.  The saying goes “Tell me how and I will forget, Show me how and I will remember, Allow me to and I will understand.”  As teachers are exposed to more examples of this method, expect to see even more innovative applications in the future.

Three Education Trends For 2012

Education has made great strides over the last few years but there are three specific trends to look forward to in 2012.  As more attention is given to the education industry, entrepreneurial perspectives and innovation will lead the way.

Technology Integration

This year, classrooms will continue their incorporation of technology in an attempt to find different ways to enhance the learning environment.  From iPads to the Khan Academy’s progress exercises, classrooms will use innovative technologies to increase students mastery of different subjects.  It will be interesting to see whether these technologies will be able to realize the goals that they set out to accomplish.

Flipped Classrooms

A flipped classroom is where students watch lectures or videos for homework to create the foundation of knowledge.  Class time is then devoted for projects and critical-thinking discussions to further solidify the learning that occurred at home.  This type of learning environment has been used in numerous pilot programs, and will get adopted by more classrooms this year.  As flipped classrooms increase, the hope is that student achievement will increase along with mastery of subjects.

Innovative Funding Strategies

It is no secret that schools continue to face drastic funding issues.  As federal grants and programs begin to dry up, these issues will become even worse.  With this scenario in the future, more focus will be placed on finding innovative solutions.  Currently, public school systems have began to open up avenues for the local population to provide suggestions for solutions.  As the problem increases, more informed individuals and experts will get involved to come up with new strategies.  Hopefully this will lead to viable solutions that allow the focus to be placed on student learning in education conversations and circles.

What other trends are prevalent? What are other ways that these trends will occur? Are these trends conducive to the educational environment?


The Greatest Profession In The World

I was once asked what the most important job in the world was.  The group I was with had answers such as the President, a doctor, and a trash collector.  When it came my turn to answer, I thought that I had a common sense answer (never works out for anyone this way!).  I said a teacher.  The reaction around the group was astonishing.  They acted as if there was no way, or that I had gotten the answer wrong!  I felt I had to explain my answer to try to get them to see my perspective.  Here is my best attempt to recreate my explanation and elaborate on it.

A teacher may not get any attention or credit in the public arena, but that is what makes them even more important.  These individuals show up everyday to work to teach the children of our country and they are usually never known outside of the students and parents who come through their classrooms.  They are hoping to share knowledge with their students that will be beneficial for a lifetime.  Each one of you reading this post was taught by a teacher that most likely had a lasting impact on you.  The impact of our teachers is far beyond that of Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, or the best doctor in the world.  They teach us to enjoy learning, they teach us what to learn, and last but not least, they teach us that we can accomplish anything we want in life.  Sounds like a very powerful and important profession to me!

This leads me to a question that many never think about.  Why are teachers not paid like they have the most important jobs in the world?  The easy answer is because as a country we can’t afford it.  I believe it is not that we can’t afford it, but instead that we choose to spend the money elsewhere.  The second reason is that teacher unions have created a system where tenure and job security for all teachers is more important then financially rewarding the good teachers.  In essence, a good teacher can get paid significantly less than a really bad teacher depending on how long they have been teaching.  Even worse, the school can’t get rid of the bad teacher if they wanted to!

This leads to a system where the best teachers are not given recognition, and the entire teacher work force is not compensated appropriately for the importance of the job they do.  Instead of complaining, many people have come up with a solution that I agree with.  Teachers should be treated as employees, and allowed to enter into healthy competition.  Every year a school should be able to hire and fire teachers based on performance, and they would all be paid according to their abilities and effectiveness in the classroom.  This would allow the school to make an effort to attract the top teaching talent and get rid of their bad teachers.  The teachers would be making much more money which would also help to attract more students to join the profession.  All of this leads to students getting taught by better teachers, who are getting rewarded for the work they do.  Ultimately, the students getting the best quality education possible is the main concern of the school system right?  Imagine if young kids said “When I grow up I want to be a teacher!”  We will have truly created change then.

Have thoughts on teachers and their pay? Agree or disagree with this proposed new system? Please leave a comment below!


Khan Academy

Here is a heads up on a site and service that is trying to break the traditional mold of education.  Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) describes themselves as “The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”

I personally have used the site extensively in the past. This is mainly due to how easy it is to use, along with each block of instruction being contained in a relatively short video. Topics range from Algebra to Civil War to Finance and even an explanation of the financial crisis. Sal Khan has the backing of Bill Gates and many other innovative entrepreneurs. Their support is not a publicity stunt but rather a vision for a society with a more effective education system.  Check out the site, use the site, learn from the site.

Have you ever used Khan Academy before? Do you think it will be effective as a disruptor of the traditional education system?

The skill of the future


This article (sent to me by JS, a close friend) does a fantastic job of laying out the argument for increasing the amount of computer science and coding exposure students receive in school. The reason that this is so important is that this exposure will allow a student to understand the basics of how majority of the products they use, work.  Almost all adults today could not explain how a computer, cell phone, email, or the internet works.  Just a product of the time and culture they grew up in.

The underlying argument for this type of new focus is that instead of arming students with regurgitated information and facts, you would now give them a skill set that they could utilize however they saw fit.  I am a big supporter of computer science becoming a required course, just like math or science.  With that being said, the most effective way to present the material in class is to allow the students to work on real-world projects.  Imagine taking a class in high school where you built an iPhone application that contained a game that you and all your friends played.  Hands on exposure to coding with tangible repercussions and results could create an exciting, innovation-focused culture among our countries youth.  The next Sean Parker or Steve Jobs may be sitting in a middle school near you!

Do you agree with a shift to more technology focused learning?  What are some of the possibilities for projects that students could be tasked with attempting or completing?