Tutor/Mentor Connection

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Last week, I had a chance to meet with two people who was trying to consult the Tutor/Mentor web sites. They talked how they could change the web site so it could be more effective. The first thing to do was to analyze how well our web site is doing the job and find what changes we could make to improve it. I got interested into the subject and I thought I could help them do the job. I didn’t have any learning or experience for the subject, and they talked about holding a seminar related to the subject, so I asked them if I could attend to their seminar. Fortunately they had a seat where I could fit in, and today was the day.

Today’s seminar was the first seminar of the four series, and the whole series of seminar was about how to meet the objectives of your companies (or organizations) web site in a more effective manner. Today we especially talked about
1) Identifying specific goals for our website
2) Measuring the site’s effectiveness using Google Analytics
3) Choosing which data to be used, and analyzing the statistics from Google Analytics.
4) Creating an on-line marketing plan that could improve the site based on 3)
5) A case study applying the methods above

We do have a Google Analytic tracking code for all of our Tutor/Mentor sites, so I am thinking to analyze the data and see what could be improved.

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The Seminar that Rack attended was hosted by Metrist Partners, led by Avery Cohen.

Avery and Ken Novak, another member of Metrist Partners, have been involved with the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1998 when they helped create a zip code map to search for tutor/mentor programs in different parts of the city. Ken Novak and Dan Bassill worked together at Montgomery Ward between 1980 and 1990.

The meeting the Rack refers to was the result of Dan reading an article that Avery had posted about the Obama Campaign's use of the Internet. Below I've posted the article to share with you and T/MC readers:

Innovation and the Obama Campaign -- Notes from the MIT Enterprise Forum

Chicago, Jan 13, 2008, by Avery J. Cohen

by Avery J. Cohen, www.metristpartners.com

The MIT Enterprise Forum meeting on January 13 offered two views of
"Innovation and the 2008 Presidential Campaign". Former Obama Campaign
Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Malover, provided the insider's view, while
Steve Rhodes of the Beachwood Reporter provided an unvarnished, sometimes
cynical, reporter's view of the campaign innovations.

Malover was quick to attribute the true innovation of the Obama Campaign to
the New Media group, which did not report in to the Technology group. He
spoke instead about the innovative leadership of the Obama campaign.
"Campaigns are start-ups. The move quickly and last for a limited
duration." The Obama campaign approached Malover, wanting to run the
campaign "like a business."

>From the start, the campaign established a collaborative "low drama" work
environment. Malover was asked to create an infrastructure that included
things that one would normally do in business, but were new to politics.
For example, everyone would have a Blackberry. They also wanted to leverage
online tools: social networking, collaborative platforms, video streaming,
and text messaging.

Malover joined the campaign in February, 2007. They had a month to launch
the social networking platform with solid, scalable email capabilities and
to assemble a team that could expand their ability to grow at the needed
pace. Their success was beyond anything they could have planned for, and
they were able to keep operations running without significant service

Steve Rhodes followed the Obama campaign for his online publication, the
Beachwood Reporter, as well as other well-established, more traditional
media publications. He complemented the campaign for delivering a "solid
brand" with "remarkable consistency." There was "no sense of zig-zagging."
He observed that Obama's New Media team "used technology to get closer to
'the customer'".

Rhodes said that so many web sites end up creating a barrier to the
candidates, while the Obama campaign created the feel that "it's 1 a.m. and
David Plouffe is sending me an email!" They were masters of both the medium
and the message. They used celebrity, media, and advertising to counter any
negative coverage.

More importantly, they conveyed the sense that "this is your campaign,"
with promotions like "we're going to pick five people to have dinner with
Barack" and allowing supporters to publish dissenting opinions on the Obama
web site's forums. But to Rhodes, this was a "false sense of inclusion."
The Obama campaign talked about "the cynical way Washington insiders sliced
and diced" the electorate, but, Rhodes pointed out, that's exactly what the
Obama campaign did! That's what all politicians do. He gave the example
that Jesse Jackson Jr. has a "war room" in his basement.

Rhodes' opinion was that, ultimately, the Obama campaign didn't transform
politics or the process, but did apply an innovative use of technology.

Our research at Metrist Partners into how the Obama campaign used new media
showed many lessons that will be used by candidates for a long time to
come, and can be used by businesses as well.

As Rhodes observed, the Obama campaign delivered a consistent brand message
and brand experience. The vision for Obama's online campaign can be
expressed as: "Connect with our people and get them to talk to others."
This simple and well-defined vision turned out to be essential to the
success of the campaign. Chicago-based analyst Nate Silver of
FiveThirtyEight.com wrote that for the presidential race, "each 10-point
advantage in contact rate translated into a 3-point gain in the popular

In a way, Rhodes was correct. The strategy followed by the new media team,
as described by Chris Hughes, Facebook co-Founder and member of the Obama
campaign leadership team, "When computer applications really take off, they
take something people have always done and just make it easier for them to
do it, and maybe bigger."

We describe the campaign's online strategy as "Motivate people and give
them the tools to easily take action." Email was the backbone of the
campaign, providing regular contact between supporters and the campaign.
The emails helped to define the candidate, circulated talking points,
invited participation and donations, followed the news cycle and fought
back quickly against disinformation. It was through the emails that the
Obama campaign did the most to make people feel that they were part of the

The Obama web site functioned as the community center, writ large. The new
media team effectively utilized social media, search, blogs and public
relations. They innovated in the use of mobile text messaging. The "Get Out
the Vote" tools on the Obama web site put hundreds of thousands of people
into action on behalf of the brand while a room full of people did the web
analytics work needed to make a campaign of this scale succeed.

While Rhodes' cynicism may be well-founded, his concern that the campaign
was not as innovative or authentic as they are generally credited is, in
our opinion, misplaced. The Obama leadership approached the campaign with
clarity of vision and mission and executed flawlessly. Malover's technology
team (and his successors) were nimble in providing an infrastructure that
supported this level of innovation. But it was Obama's new media team that
delivered the "Obama brand experience". Good ideas are one thing. Great
execution creates legends.

Avery J. Cohen
Metrist Partners
phone: 847.926.8280
cell: 708.602.3945


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