PowerMap strikes again

First day of school animation
Animation of the first day of school in districts across the U.S. created with PowerMap for Excel 2013.

Microsoft’s John Gagnon is back with a new PowerMap animation of MCH‘s first day of school data. This post on the Clickz blog features regional shading to distinguish school districts in different states. John’s focus this time around is on the added value of visualizing data using the new Microsoft tools:

Visualizing the data on a map and over time drives home many insights. One key insight: A nationally targeted campaign won’t allow you to differentiate your ad copy to cities or states which are already in school. If Los Angeles’ 640,000 students go back to school on August 13, you’d have to have the same ad messaging and bids until New York City’s 1.1 million students go back on September 9. So switching from a nationally targeted campaign to a region-specific campaign makes more sense.

Our CEO, Peter Long, and I had the opportunity to visit Microsoft headquarters last week to meet with several representatives of the PowerMap, PowerBI, and Office 365 teams. We were also interviewed on camera for a video that will be part of an upcoming product release. I’ll be sure to share that with you when it hits the internet.

AsI mentioned in my previous PowerMap post, MCH has a database of school district calendar dates available for license. Contact me at kirkc@mchdata.com for more information. We’re just about to load the latest updates to complete the database for the 2013-2014 school calendars.

The big week for big data

DMA 2013 logoWe’re less than a month out from DMA13, the annual conference of the Direct Marketing Association, on October 12-17. Watch out, Chicago. I’ll be stalking the halls of McCormick Place representing MCH Strategic Data and the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association Sunday through Tuesday.

This conference has changed a lot since I first started attending it twelve years ago. Email, mobile, and social marketing have moved to the forefront of marketing, and the DMA has struggled to keep up with the pace. The DMA must battle the perception that “direct marketing” is synonymous with “direct mail.” Today there are untold thousands of data-driven marketers who don’t think of themselves as direct marketers even though they’re following directly in the footsteps of Lester Wunderman and the other pioneers of the profession. The new tagline of the show as “The Global Event of Data-Driven Marketers” is an important step in claiming the proper definition of direct marketing.

In the past MCH Strategic Data exhibited at the show, but that doesn’t make as much sense for us anymore. Rather than generating leads from foot traffic, most of our energy goes into pre-arranged meetings with current and potential  partners and clients. This is my annual chance to touch base with DMA friends like Pat Sabatino, Tim Slevin, and Joe Pych.

Also, the DMA used to have a variety of subgroups such as the List and Database Council and the regional association network that included the KCDMA. Those ties were severed in the big DMA shakeup of a few years ago. I’ve heard inklings that Jay Schwedelson of Worldata may be trying to reconstitute some version of the List and Database Council. The regional affiliations, unfortunately, seem to be gone for good. I would have liked to have met with my fellow regional association presidents from New York, Chicago, Detroit, etc., but that seems unlikely at least in any formally sanctioned way.

Like most years, my focus at DMA13 will be on meeting with MCH’s most important partners and clients. Will you be there? I’d love to connect with you. Send me an email at kirkc@mchdata.com or give me a call at 800-776-6373.

Planet Comicon’s national TV debut

Chloe Dykstra of Heroes of Cosplay
Chloe Dykstra celebrates her costume contest win on episode 5 of SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay series.

One of the exciting elements of Planet Comicon 2013 was that we had a Hollywood production company in our midst taping two episodes of the new television series Heroes of Cosplay. We made our debut last night and the second episode – the series finale – runs next Tuesday night.

For those who don’t know, I’ve coordinated the panel room programming for the convention for the past five years. This involves scheduling the appearances of the actors, artists, moderators, and other panelists, coordinating several simultaneous sessions, and overseeing an army of volunteers who guard the panelists’ tables in the exhibit room and ensure that everyone gets to where they need to be. Our largest event room seats more than 1,000 fans, and we fill it to capacity for events featuring popular performers like Wil Wheaton, George Takei, and Adam Baldwin.

I must admit that adding a television production and a second night of costume contests during our first year at Bartle Hall meant quite a bit of extra stress. In the end, we pulled it off. I was delighted to work with Lisa Wax, the field producer from 51 Minds Entertainment. Lisa is a dynamo of energy, always on the move and making 60 decisions a minute.

We also have to thank Blythe Renay and Jeff Yenzer from the Damsels of Dorkington who stepped in with short notice to emcee. Blythe and Jeff are two of the most creative and charismatic regulars at Planet Comicon. We were lucky to have them available to make us look great on TV.

I also learned a lot about how much work and preplanning goes into an “unscripted reality” show, including the ways that drama is invented out of thin air – or in the editing room after the filming is finished. There were plenty of elements that were planned in advance for this show, but the team was constantly on the move, adjusting to events as they happened. And, for the record, the judging of the competitions is not rigged. I know the producers fed the judges some tough questions to ask the show regulars, but the judges picked the winners based on their own preferences.