Have you seen a presentation in Prezi yet? You should!

Are you tired of the same old, boring Power Point presentations that hurt your eyes and would serve more effectively as a sleeping aid? 

Then you need Prezi!

A colleague of mine turned me onto it.  She saw a presentation created in Prezi and recommended I check it out.  And am I glad I did.  I just created my first presentation in Prezi and have spent the morning showing it off to my colleagues (yeah, I know, it takes very little to get me excited...).

According to its own website, Prezi is "a cloud-based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas and the connections between them. The result: visually captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery."  And in my opinion, that doesn't do it justice.

Prezi allows the user to post an entire presentation (including images and videos) on one canvas, while offering the unique ability to change perspective.  You can add text that is so small it isn't visible to the naked eye, until it comes time to zoom in on it during your presentation, which it does flawlessly.  It offers a navigation system that allows you to place content anywhere on the canvas and move back and forth at will.  It even recognizes when you've posted content sideways or upside down for design purposes, and will compensate during the presentation by rotating the canvas.   It adds life, color and motion to your presentations unlike anything you can do in Power Point.   Check out a few examples!

Like many online services, the basic version is free, and the more upgrades you want, the more you pay.  However, even the basic version is pretty cool, and the cost to upgrade is very reasonable, ranging from $59 a year to $159 a year.

Call me odd, but I can't wait to give my first presentation in Prezi.  I think the audience will find it more interesting than the content! 

Try it out.  Let me know what you think...

Angry Birds: Mindless entertainment for Type A personalities

OK, admit it...if you own an iPhone, an iPad or an Android device, you have purchased Angry Birds, or one of its sister games, Angry Birds - Seasons or Angry Birds, Rio.  I admit, I have all of them, and I can't wait for the next iteration to be released.

Developed by Rovio Mobile, it has become a global sensation, now entering the Chinese market, with expected downloads of 100 million in China by the end of 2011 according to Brandchannel.com.

Angry Birds is one of the most mindless games I've ever come across, yet I find myself completely addicted to it.  Good thing I don't bring my iPad to the office!

For the few of you who aren't familiar with Angry Birds, the game basically pits a team of birds, each with a special feature or skill (some drop bombs, some go really fast, some split into multiple birds, etc), against a strange legion of bodyless pigs, who apparently have taken over the bird santuaries.  The player and his team of birds participate in a series of missions to oust the pigs from each of these sanctuaries by destroying the structures and killing all the pigs.  The more destruction you cause and the less birds you use in the completion of each mission, the more points you score.

Sound stupid?  That's because it is!  Yet it is undeniably fun to play and I'm convinced it's designed for Type A personalities like mine who simply can't put it down until they've completed all of the missions. 

Even worse, once I've completed all of the missions, I need to go back and complete each the missions again collecting three stars on all of them (the highest score possible).  Then I have to go back and find all the hidden golden trophies (which give you a few more "special missions")!  Ahhhhh!!!  Help me!

Now I know what you're saying:  The mission of this blog is to discuss marketing news and trends.  So what does my experience with Angry Birds have to do with marketing, you ask?  Nothing I guess, other than highlighting the success Angry Birds developers have had in creating successful brand loyalty, brand extension and brand alignment...through brand addiction.  A simple, mindless game for Type A personalities has become one of the most successful mobile products ever developed.  I'd say that's a pretty good marketing story.

And it also gives me a forum to share my Angry Birds frustration.  Hey, it's my blog.

Extreme Customer Service under Extreme Duress!

I recently returned from a family trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it is a beautiful stretch of beach along an outer band of barrier islands just off the coast of North Carolina.  It is also the area where Hurricane Irene came ashore one week before our vacation.

As a result, I was anticipating that the home we were renting would be severely damaged or uninhabitable, and was already making plans to take my family elsewhere.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when I contacted our realtor only to receive good news about the condition of the home, and impeccable customer service during what must have been very difficult days for the realtors both personally and professionally.

We booked our rental property through a company called Village Realty in Nags Head, NC.  When I called them a few days after the hurricane, I would have completely understood if they were neglectful in answering the phone, short in their responses, or generally didn't provide much in the way of basic customer service.  Instead, what I received was a warm greeting, gracious assistance, and quick and helpful answers to my questions. 

These people were probably inundated with phone calls all week from renters and home owners, while at the same time working hard to resolve dozens of issues with the properties they manage.  I'm sure they were also handling all of these challenges while dealing with potential damage to their own homes and property, wrestling with poor communications infrastructure, and navigating some very dangerous or impassable roads.  Every day leading up to our arrival, Village Realty was updating its website and Facebook page with valuable information for owners and visitors. I checked them both daily.   Simply put, I was amazed at how helpful they were under such stressful circumstances.

When we arrived in Nags Head, our house was not only ready and waiting for us in excellent condition, it was available hours before we were due to check-in.  Village Realty even called me on my cell phone while I was in the supermarket with my family to notify us that the house was ready for occupancy.  When we drove up to the front door, someone was already there cleaning out the hot tub so we could use it that afternoon. 

It wouldn't have surprised me if the realtor made us wait several hours or a day to check-in. But they didn't.  Village Realty went out of its way to ensure that our vacation was as pleasant as possible, even though it was probably one of the most difficult weeks of they've ever experienced.    Now THAT dear readers...is customer service!

I hope that I can emulate Village Realty and provide the quality of customer care they provided me and my family.  Therefore, I want to give them a plug.  They've earned it.  If you're ever renting a home on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, call Village Realty at 800-548-9688.  They are good, good people, and have converted me into a loyal customer.