July 16, 2008

Jake McKee, Legos, and the New World

Jake McKee did a bang-up job at the meeting of the Social Media Club Louisville last night. I'm not saying that just because I liked the hors d'oeuvres. Which were lovely. I regret not having lined my pockets with aluminum foil before I left the house (a tip I learned from a different Jake: the little boy on "Two and a Half Men").

Jake McKee did wonderful work for Legos and now works as a consultant on social marketing, as well as spreading the word about the concept made concrete. His crucial discoverywas that children who buy Legos or have them bought as gifts spend $15 a year on Legos, $30 if they belong to the company's club. Adult fans (also known as "weirdos" to the corporate suits) average $1700 a year. Jake realized that those adult fans were a critical component to development and marketing. As a result, he devoted more than half of his annual budget to traveling around the country to meet up in basements with the 5 or 6 members of local Legos groups. He also promoted a transformation of the company's website from a relatively useless destination to one that provides an abundance of information to both the curious and the besotted.

It seems to me that we spend too much time fretting over the amount of time people spend online and too little time celebrating the ways in which people otherwise isolated from each other can connect. As McKee said, ten years ago, corporations believed that each letter they received represented 10,000 to 25,000 customer opinions. Now they actually hear from a far higher number of customers. I don't think it's because of the ease of email so much as the ease of finding addresses (whether through the company's website or a search engine) now.

A splendid presentation. And Jake McKee was good, too.

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