20 Years Business with Campaigning

(For the English version scroll down, please.)

Heute vor genau 20 Jahren war es so weit. Am ersten Tag in meinem «Leben nach Greenpeace» kratzte ich alles Geld zusammen, das ich hatte und kaufte mir einen Mac, einen Bildschirm und einen Drucker.

Ich hatte schon zuvor die Idee gehabt, dass sämtliche Kampagnen und Veränderungsprozesse den gleichen Mustern und Gesetzmässigkeiten folgen. (Im Endeffekt sind Kampagnen nichts anderes als Veränderungsprozesse, denn sie zielen auf Änderungen im Wissen, Verhalten oder Denken von Zielgruppen ab.)

Wenn dem so wäre, dachte ich, muss es doch möglich sein, ein Modell dafür zu entwickeln, bestehend aus Begriffsdefinitionen, allgemein gültigen strategischen Grundsätzen, Checklisten und Prozessen, die definieren, wie diese Checklisten abgearbeitet werden. Mit diesem Modell sollte man Kampagnen planen, umsetzen und auswerten, sowie Campaigner ausbilden können, so meine Überlegung. Es sollte wie ein Computer-Programm funktionieren: man gibt Informationen hinein und heraus kommt ein Kampagnenplan.

Zum Teil wurde ich auch noch inspiriert von dem, was ich in damals 5 Jahren Ninjutsu-Training gelernt hatte. Auch dort gibt es Checklisten für alles mögliche und klar definierte Reihenfolgen zum Abarbeiten dieser Checklisten.

Neben dem Computer hatte ich auch noch Bücher über militärische und betriebswirtschaftliche Strategielehre gekauft, denn mein grösstes Problem war nicht ein Mangel an Ideen oder Knowhow, sondern ein Mangel an Begriffen, um das, was ich in damals 15 Jahren Campaigning gelernt hatte, in Worte zu fassen.

So wurde das business campaigning® Modell, das ich nun in meiner 2.5-Zimmer-Wohnung im Zürcher Kreis 6 zwischen dem 19. November 1997 und Anfang Februar 1998 entwickelte, auch von den verschiedenen Gebieten der Strategielehre massgeblich beeinflusst.

Das erste Seminar fand dann am 12. Februar 1998 statt. Das Feedback der Teilnehmer zeigte mir vor allem eins: für einen Tag Unterricht hatte ich viel zu viel ins Programm gepackt. Aber auch, dass das Modell im Prinzip dem entsprach, was die Teilnehmer brauchten und erwarteten. Mit den Checklisten konnten sie arbeiteten, wie sich auch im Laufe der nächsten 20 Jahre zeigen sollte.

Mit dem business campaigning® Modell wurde das Open Forum Konzept am WEF in Davos entwickelt, im Rahmen einer Diplomarbeit das Businessmodell für den Kulturmarkt in Zürich, das Marketing- und Kommunikationskonzept für den Film «Mein Name ist Eugen», die Jubiläums- und Imagekampagne der Urner Kantonalbank, bei Dow Chemicals ein Change Projekt, Abstimmungs- und Wahlkampagnen, verschiedene Startups haben damit ihre Strategie und/oder ihr Marketingkonzept entwickelt und vieles mehr. In 20 Jahren kann man eine Menge machen.

Was bringen die nächsten 20 Jahre?

Aus der Einzelfirma wurde eine business campaigning GmbH genannte Unternehmensberatung, eine Kommunikationsagentur und eine Grafik Design Agentur mit Angestellten, die vor allem konzipieren, Content erarbeiten und koordinieren. Unsere Spezialität ist echte Zielgruppenorientierung. Dazu haben wir ein Netzwerk von Spezialisten für die verschiedenen Dienstleistungen, die es für umfassendes Campaigning braucht. Unsere Einsatzgebiete reichen von der internen Kommunikation über Change Management und Kulturwandel, Branding, Marketing, Kommunikation und Social Media bis hin zur politischen Kommunikation und Public Affairs.

Vor kurzem war ich eingeladen, eine Rede zum Thema bei einem Fortune 500 Unternehmen in Beverly Hills zu halten. Gerade in den USA wird Campaigning mit Wahlkampf verwechselt, was mich zum Nachdenken über einen anderen Begriff anregte.

Während einer langen Fahrt durch die Sandhügel von Nebraska entstand dann im Gespräch mit einem guten Freund vor drei Wochen die Idee, dem ganzen einen neuen Namen zu geben: The Science of Change. Denn einerseits geht es beim Campaigning immer darum, Veränderungen zu bewirken (im Wissen, Verhalten oder denken von Zielgruppen) und andererseits hat das business campaigning® Modell eine wissenschaftliche Basis alleine schon, weil es erheblich vom Denken beeinflusst ist, das ich während meines Physikstudiums lernte.

Das erste Referat mit dem Titel «The Science of Change» werde ich am Vormittag des 20. Januar in Kenia halten, auf Einladung einer Konferenz afrikanischer Change Makers, die sich der Frage widmet, wie die Sustainable Development Goals in Afrika implementiert werden können.

Mal schauen, was die nächsten 20 Jahre bringen.

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock’n’Roll)
R.I.P. Malcom Young

ENGLISH

Exactly 20 years ago today, the time had come. On the first day of my «life after Greenpeace», I scraped all the money I had and bought a Mac, a monitor and a printer.

I had previously had the idea that all campaigns and change processes follow the same patterns and laws. (In the end, campaigns are nothing more than change processes because they target changes in the knowledge, behavior, or thinking of audiences.)

If so, I thought, it must be possible to develop a model for it, consisting of definitions, generally applicable strategic guidelines or principles, checklists, and processes that define how these checklists are handled. With this model one should plan campaigns, implement and evaluate, as well as train Campaigners, so my thoughts. It should work like a computer software: put in information and out comes a campaign plan.

In part, I was also inspired by what I had learned in five years of Ninjutsu training. There too are checklists for all possible situations and clearly defined sequences for working through these checklists.

In addition to the computer, I had also bought books on military and business strategy, because my biggest problem was not a lack of ideas or knowhow, but a lack of concepts to verbalize what I had learned in 15 years of campaigning.

So, the business campaigning® model that I developed between 19th November 1997 and the beginning of February 1998 in my 2.5-room apartment in Zurich’s neighborhood No. 6 was also significantly influenced by the various areas of strategy teaching.

The first seminar took place on 12th February 1998. Feedback of the participants showed me one thing: I had packed too much information into a program for one day of lessons. But also that the model was basically what the participants needed and expected. They were able to work with the checklists, as should be seen over the next 20 years.

With the business campaigning® model, the Open Forum concept was developed at the WEF in Davos, within the framework of a diploma thesis the business model for the Kulturmarkt in Zurich, the marketing and communication concept for the film „My name is Eugen“, the jubilee and image campaign of the Urner Kantonalbank, a change project at Dow Chemicals, voting and election campaigns, various startups have developed their strategy and / or marketing concept and much more. In 20 years you can do a lot.

What will the next 20 years bring?

The one man show became a business consulting company called business campaigning Ltd., a communications agency and a graphic design agency with employees who primarily write and design content, develop and coordinate campaigns. Our specialty is real target group orientation. We have a network of specialists for the various services needed for comprehensive campaigning. Our missions range from internal communication via change management and cultural change, branding, marketing, communication and social media to political communication and public affairs.

Recently, I was invited to give a speech at a Fortune 500 company in Beverly Hills. Especially in the US, campaigning is confused with election campaigning, which inspired me to think about another term.

During a long drive three weeks ago through the sand hills of Nebraska then, with a good friend the idea came up  to give the whole thing a new name: The Science of Change. On one hand, campaigning is always about making changes (in the knowledge, behavior, or thinking of target groups), and on the other hand, the business campaigning® model has a scientific basis because it’s heavily influenced by the thinking that I learned while studying physics.

I will be holding the first speech titled „The Science of Change“ in Kenya on the morning of 20th January 2018, at the invitation of a conference of African change makers on how to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.

Let’s see what the next 20 years bring.

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock’n’Roll)
R.I.P. Malcom Young

AC/DC Without Brian Johnson Or Angus Young?

I was in the middle of writing a 2nd edition of«The AC/DC Strategy» (in German «Das AC/DC Prinzip» when the news about singer Brian Johnson having to stop hit. The major change to the 1st edition was to include the following thoughts, which arose already when rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was replaced by his nephew Stevie Young. No true fan of AC/DC would have thought AC/DC could continue without Malcolm Young. But then they did and even released a new album, the first one without Malcolm. In my opinion «Rock Or Bust» is even one of their best albums ever. Can the members of AC/DC be replaced without damage to their brand?

The current discussion and wild rumors about AC/DC hiring a new singer made me wait with the 2nd edition and reconsider these thoughts and the discussion I had with the new (and former) rhythm guitarist Stevie Young in June 2015. I will not comment on any of the rumors but the question whether Brian Johnson can be replaced without AC/DC becoming their own tribute band is keeping the fan community busy and concerned.

If the band continues their current tour without Brian Johnson many of their most loyal fans – most of them since three decades – will either sell their tickets or go and watch the new band only as a reminder of «the real AC/DC» they once celebrated. Is there a way to replace Brian Johnson without such a «damage»?

As I have shown in my book «The AC/DC Strategy» AC/DC has a strong, simple and very clear concept of who they are, what music they play, how they interact with their audience and who their audience is. In general my analysis has shown that they follow the 14 Strategic Campaigning Guidelines, as far as one can tell from the outside.

But is AC/DC a concept band that has the power to replace Brian Johnson without damage to their brand and fan community? – I don’t think so, unless they change a few things, especially their current communication.

In my understanding a concept band would be a band following a clear concept of who they are, which music they play and how they interact with their fans, with members that can be replaced without damage to the brand. In a concept band individuals do not count; only the roles they play. These roles must be clearly defined.

In this understanding AC/DC as we know them cannot be a concept band. First of all, as Stevie Young expressed it when we talked: Angus Young cannot be replaced. If he stops, AC/DC stops.

Second there is the fact that AC/DC had more or less – with short interruptions – the same members for more than three decades now. And when in 2014 two members had to be replaced, the band came back with the same musicians who replaced them earlier temporarily.

Loyalty is a core value of the AC/DC brand. This does not mean that it is also a value of the band. A brand is more what an audience perceives about a company, organization or product, not what it truly is. However, if a brand value is not reflected by visible corporate behavior, the brand will be damaged.

As a consequence of loyalty being a brand value, it has become one of the core values of the AC/DC fan community. If being an AC/DC fan makes a person more loyal or if AC/DC simply attracts loyal people does not matter in this context. But true AC/DC fans are loyal as much to their friends as they are to the band’s individual members. We know who these members are and if there is another guy on stage this will not go unnoticed. Should Brian Johnson be replaced without transparent and understandable explanation, many fans will turn away from the band. This has been expressed in endless E-Mails and online discussions.

Can AC/DC continue to provide the world with AC/DC-style hard Rock’n’Roll music, even if the remaining members one day have to be replaced, can AC/DC turn into a concept band without damage to the brand and the fan community?

In order for this transformation to succeed, the following conditions must be met:

  1. AC/DC must publicly respect the value of loyalty: Ideally Brian Johnson should be the one to announce his successor. At least he must publicly express his support. This is the only way to assure acceptance by the most loyal part of the fan community and give the new singer the authority to step into Brian’s and Bon’s footsteps. It would also demonstrate respect to the value of loyalty and respect to Brian Johnson whose contribution to the band as their singer for 36 years cannot be denied.
  2. Should option 1 be impossible, due to heavy disagreements within the band, then the band must at least provide the fan community with transparent and understandable information – again as a sign of respect to the value of loyalty.
  3. The band should officially announce a new era of AC/DC as a concept band in which individual musicians can be replaced. There is enough understandable reason for this: even Angus has to stop one day and if the world wants to get more AC/DC music it is time to think about a future for the band without its founding members, of which only one is left anyway.

Of course, there will be more things to consider, like legal issues etc. but as far as the brand is concerned and the loyalty of the band’s fan community these few recommendations would serve to make the transformation possible. As a result AC/DC would stand for an idea, for a concept of Rock’n’Roll music that can be further developed and continue to provide the world with the music and emotions that AC/DC stands for.

Should AC/DC replace Brian Johnson without respect to loyalty there is a huge risk of the band becoming a shadow of themselves and touring smaller venues, perceived as their own tribute band – like so many bands did before and are still doing.

It’s a lot about respect. And writing about this: I do respect a lot what Angus, Brian, Bon, Chris, Cliff, Malcolm, Mark (Evans), Phil and the others have done for AC/DC, for us fans and for the heritage of Rock’n’Roll. And out of this respect the world should stop speculating about potential successors for Brian and wait for official information instead.

AC/DC without Briand Johnson and Angus Young? – Hard to imagine but not completely impossible.

Don’t get lost!

In campaigning it is extremenly important to know how long to fight and when to let go.

If a campaign or project has been going for a very long time and you haven’t achieved any significant changes – or strategic goals – then it is very likely that you are lost along the way. Maybe you are even turning in circles.

To let go when that happens gives fortunate a chance to kick in your yourself the space for the necessary creativity. In some cases you will wonder about new ways opening up and what is still possible. There is a saying „if you love something let it go“. The same applied here.

Are you only continuing because you have invested so much so far? Then think about this. And maybe, make some tough decisions.

On social media and why the rules of the game will be changing

After reading Seth Godin’s blog post „Ranking for signal to noise ratio“ recently, a thought crossed my mind that I would like to share.

You can think of any social media platform in its early days as a big house with a huge central hall. At that time there were only a few people in it and it was easy to get to know each other and listen to each other. No matter how good you were in marketing, communication or strategy, it was easy to spread your message and find an interested audience. Those early users soon beacme experts, as they knew this specific social media platform best (but not necessarily the rules of marketing). They can tell you how to enter, how to behave, were the bar is and what’s inside the other rooms.

But the more the room filled up, the more the social noise increased. With more people you can still find an audience easily. But is it the one that you are looking for? And how do you stick in people’s memory, how do you stand out from the mass? Now imagine the room is filled completely and everybody is wearing black. The one who wears red, is the one receives the attention.it’s the old Strategic Campaigning Guideline No. 1 (SCG 1) in its interpretation „don’t be different, be totally different“, which is gaining more and more importance again.

it seems to me like social media is right on track to take us back to where we were, when we left conventional marketing, right to the same problems and questions, with the only difference being that now we are able to give easy sharing tools into the hands of our audience. But the era of sticking out just by being on a social platform seems to be over very soon – if it is not yet…

In the future it will be important again to know how to stand out without being annoying. SCG 1 will be the key – know what you stand for, polarize and be not different but totally different from your (awareness) competitors. In the long term those will be considered experts (again) who have mastered and understand this principle in all its  facets. Better control that agenda! (SCG 2…)

P.S. And of course this ballroom is not a market where those get the most attention who are the loudest screamers.

Go Swimming With The Sharks

We all know it. Some of the world’s most favourite beaches are permanently threatened by sharks. Only when somebody gets attacked or the guards discover a shark in the water everybody seems to care about it and stays on the beach. As if the risk wouldn’t be there when the sharks remain unseen… The risk is always there. «To control the agenda» (Strategic Campaigning Guideline No. 2) you should make your own decision whether you take the risk or not. Don’t stay away from the water because the others do and don’t go in there because the others do. Do your own thing! Is it better to follow the herd than to swim with the sharks? Maybe, sometimes, find it out by yourself.