A major shout-out goes to Kelsey Ruger for inspiring this essay. In a presentation at a GOT SOCIAL MEDIA event in Houston he referenced the red pill/blue pill idea.
If you run in the same social media circles as I do, then you’re aware of the Age of Conversation collaborative book. For those unaware, the Age of Conversation is collection of essays from social media champions testifying and evangelizing the merits of businesses using social media tools to better connect with customers.
You can learn much more about this collaborative effort by visiting:
“Right now, your customers are writing about your products on blogs and recutting your commercials on YouTube. They’re defining you on Wikipedia and ganging up on you in social networking sites like Facebook. These are all elements of a social phenomenon — the groundswell — that has created a permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works.”
GROUNDSWELL is the definitive guide to what is happening now in the citizen marketer online world we live, work, and frolic in. You’ll learn about the online tools people use and the motivations for why people participate in the Groundswell. You’ll also gain access to previously super-spendy analysis reserved for Forrester clients … such as … ROI of an Executive Blog, ROI of Online Ratings/Reviews, and ROI of Online Community Forums.
Charlene & Josh refresh some of their smartest blog posts in GROUNDSWELL. They’ve written about the Social Technographics ladder before, but the updated analysis in the book will help you better understand the motivations and activities of consumers today. And, their easy-to-understand P.O.S.T strategy to participating in the Groundswell will help many in demystifying how to get started using online media to connect with customers.
GROUNDSWELL is must-read material for all Marketing Managers and Marketing Directors who want to use the power of the Internet as an extension of their marketing department.
It’s not about vanity when registering your personal name as an Internet domain. It’s simply a cheap way to protect personal real estate.
No I’m not talking about the re-training of its front-line employees on how to make the perfect coffee drink. I am talking about a video ditty I spied on YouTube. It’s a two-minute documentary of Young Han, a Starbucks barista, talking about his “Got Milk” photo shoot and his appreciation for the Starbucks Coffee Company.
It works great as a recruitment video. Not slick. Not scripted. Just genuine moments and reflections. Have a look…
As we’ve discussed, Starbucks is doing very little to tap into the Third Space communities people are forming online. (Big miss in my book.)
While Howard Schultz may never blog, Starbucks should STRONGLY CONSIDER encouraging its young and talented workforce to post videos of why they feel a connection to Starbucks. They could turn it into a contest similar to Deloitte & Touche’s brilliant Film Fest idea where Starbucks baristas would submit short videos showcasing “What Starbucks Means to Me.” The best 10 videos would be posted on the barren Starbucks YouTube page for all to see.
Each of these top 10 videos would serve as a great recruitment tool for Starbucks. And the creators of these videos could be rewarded in some way, perhaps stock options. A simple idea to execute with potentially big results of attracting a better front-line employee to deliver better customer experiences.
As we know, Howard Schultz has returned as CEO at Starbucks. He’s committed to fixing the “unintended consequences” caused by growing its store footprint at a rapid pace. Such unintended consequences have included losing the company’s identity and the dilution of the unique customer experience Starbucks once delivered. Howard has also pledged to refocus the company on growing its relationships with customers.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Jesse Kornbluth raises a valid point,
“It's interesting that Schultz professes to love Starbucks customers but has no apparent interest in hearing from us. How's that, Howard? You're going to thrill us without getting our input? Do you really think focus groups, consumer research and executive offsites will tell you what you need to know? What, exactly, do you think the Starbucks website is for?”
Jesse is onto something when he writes, “Schultz professes to love Starbucks customers but has no apparent interest in hearing from us.”
As evidence by their lack of participation, we know Starbucks, as a company, has refused to blog and refuses to participate in online conversations. The Starbucks Gossip blog is all the proof the company needs to know that people want Starbucks to join the online conversation. Yet, the company refuses to have a conversation with its customers (and employees) online.
Clearly, Starbucks was ahead of the curve with tapping into satisfying the consumer need of a Third Place—a place besides home and work where people could form community. But consumers have evolved from needing a Third Place to needing a Third Space. This Third Space includes social media spaces like blogs, vlogs, podcasts, Twitter, and many more. These are spaces where meaningful online communities are forming.
Now that the company recognizes it needs to improve its relationships with customers to improve the health of its business, maybe Starbucks will consider blogging.
Better yet, given Howard Schultz’s pledge to growing the company's relationships with customers, he should blog. He should give us, the 50+ million Starbucks customers who visit his stores weekly, updates on how his company is making the necessarily changes to follow his vision for reclaiming the Starbucks luster.
Howard recently told Wall Street analysts that, since returning as CEO, he has received thousands of emails from customers and employees who share his enthusiasm for reigniting the emotional attachment people have with the Starbucks brand. With a blog, just imagine how many more messages Howard would receive from adoring customers and employees who want to see the company succeed.
Howard has always talked about growing his company to get bigger by acting smaller. And a blog, or some other social media avenue, is the perfect tool to help big companies get smaller in customer’s eyes. Other CEO blogs like Jonathan Schwartz’s blog and Bob Lutz’s blog have helped to make Sun Microsystems and General Motors, both goliath companies, get smaller in the eyes of customers. And thanks to encouraging its employees to blog, companies like Microsoft look less pervasive and less evil in the eyes of customers.
Can you imagine the conversations that would occur if Howard Schultz used the Starbucks website to regularly share updates on how his company is bringing back the old Starbucks juju? I’m sure many of the Starbucks faithful would be thrilled to read impassioned updates from Howard. I'm also sure Howard would receive pointed feedback (and yes, un-pointed feedback too) on activities the company should stop doing, start doing, and/or continue doing.
Unfortunately, the Starbucks corporate culture doesn’t sync with social media. My experience of working deep inside the company tells me Starbucks is extremely careful in how they are portrayed in the traditional media. They want to be in control of the conversation in the media as much as possible. Since Starbucks is cautious about how traditional media portrays the company, then no way will Starbucks be comfortable playing in the non-traditional untamed waters of social media. Do I think this is right? Absolutely not!
Starbucks helped to popularize the “New Marketing” ethos of spending marketing dollars on making better customer experiences and not on making extravagant advertising campaigns. In essence, Starbucks baked marketing inside its business. It didn’t have to advertise because everything about the in-store Starbucks experience was the advertising.
Starbucks still operates under this “New Marketing” ethos but the game has evolved dramatically. A “NOW MARKETING” movement has emerged and Starbucks hasn’t kept up. This “NOW MARKETING” ethos is the realization of the prophetic Cluetrain Manifesto where the Internet has changed how customers expect to interact with businesses. As the Cluetrain writers explain:
"A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies."
In growing its business, Starbucks has always operated under the guidance of “Be everywhere its customers expect them to be.” This is the rationale for why the company began serving its coffee on United Airlines, expanding Internationally, operating licensed concept locations in airports, selling cold bottled coffee in convenience stores, selling whole bean coffee in grocery stores, etc.
Customers today have a new expectation.
Customers now expect Starbucks, and other businesses, to engage in conversations with them wherever and whenever. Be it in the Third Place or the Third Space, customers want to interact with businesses they love. By being active in the Third Space online, companies show their love for customers by being open to having a conversation with them.
If Howard Schultz really loves his 50+million weekly customers, he would show it by evolving his company’s culture to adopt the “NOW MARKETING” movement. If Howard Schultz really loves Starbucks customers, he must blog. He must carry on a conversation with us.
UPDATE: This blog post has been simmering within me for a few weeks. After hitting the publish button, I ventured over to the Starbucks.com site and hidden in the bottom right-hand corner is a "Howard Schultz Partner Update" link. This particular update is titled. "What I Know to Be True." Interesting. Seems like Howard is using the company website to share his impassioned updates with customers and employees.
Also posted are are transcripts of voicemails to stores regarding the work ahead of the company.
Of course, it would be better if Starbucks were to open up the conversation, allow comments from readers, and commit to making this an on-going feature. That way, Starbucks would be embracing the "NOW MARKETING" movement we have come to expect from businesses we adore.
As the above image depicts, companies today can take the Blue Pill and pretend that nothing has changed in the marketplace. Or, companies can take the Red Pill and begin to experience a deeper connection with customers through using Social Media. I hope Kelsey sees how deep the rabbit-hole goes with THE Social Media MATRIX. He is onto something potentially big in helping more people understand why it is important for companies to swallow the Red Pill of Social Media.
For those who missed the GOT SOCIAL MEDIA conference, you can riffle through some of the presentations on SlideShare. (Video of the presentations will also be uploaded somewhere online soon.)
The one-day event was co-organized by Erica O’ Grady, a social media dynamo. She is doing big things and will do bigger things with all this social media stuff. Get to know Erica on her blog and follow her on Twitter.
The line-up of presenters hand-picked for the event were outstanding.
Besides Kelsey, Giovanni Gallucci (aka Digg the Link Hunter) shared his take on how to maximize links and views. Steve Latham outlined a few methods to measure the ROI of social media marketing campaigns. Stephen Anderson delivered a thought-provoking presentation on how design matters in social media. Ed Schipul entertained and informed us about how tapping into the 3 Motivations of People can help non-profits (and for-profits) make a difference. And, Laura Mayes sprinkled smart tid-bits throughout the day. (Unfortunately, I missed Chris Bernard and his presentation.)
The Brand Autopsy blog recently passed the 1,000 posting mile marker. What a ride.
This all began in December of 2003 when I begged Paul Williams to work as his tag-team partner on posting entries to the Fast Company blog. At the time, Paul was a Customer Care Manager with Starbucks and I was about a year into my role as the Director of National Marketing with Whole Foods Market.
Fast Company approached Paul about guest hosting their blog for a week. Before Paul committed, he called me to kick around a few ideas. We talked. And the more we talked, the more I became jazzed about weaseling my way into being a part of guest hosting the Fast Company blog with him.
Paul pitched this tag-team posting idea to Heath Row at Fast Company, and Heath greenlighted it. However, Paul and I were totally new to this blogging thing. I quickly studied up on blogging by reading some of the early marketing/business blogs out there. Seth’s blog was helpful. John Porcaro’s blog was also helpful. From these blogs I leaned to be brief, be smart, and be sure to have an opinion.
It’s fun reading through our Fast Company archive. We covered a lot of territory from Slouching to Commoditization ... to ... Transaction-based vs. Relationship-based Loyalty Programs ... to ... The Anatomy of a Starbucks Customer Experience Program ... to ... Making Marketing Plans Bullet-Proof.
Reading these posts again has reminded me how much blogging increased my work drive at that time. Here's why. In order to find material to blog about, I was purposely being more open to finding business learnings from any article I was reading, whether on the web or in print. The interaction with readers online through the comments was engaging, but the real engagement I found was how I was making sharper, more strategic business decisions at work. Blogging was making me a better marketer and a better mentor/teacher to my team.
So here we are … four years and 1,000 posts later. Much has changed with me. Partly because of my blogging activities, I decided to open up my own private practice – the Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice. The blog also gets credit for pushing me to write a marketing book, TRIBAL KNOWLEDGE. And this blog gets credit for having me go from writing words to speaking words all over the globe. Again, it’s been quite a ride.
A heartfelt thanks goes out to every one who has read the Brand Autopsy blog. Thanks for riding shotgun with me for the first 1,000 posts. I look forward to where this ride take us both in the next thousand posts.
For those wanting to get inside the mind of a top-notch business book publicist, you should peep the just-started blog from Barbara Cave Henricks.
She has a take on Kindle, about the importance of knowing who your audience is, and about the process she goes through to select which books she'll spend time helping to turn into a best seller. All worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the business of business books.
Whole Foods Market has barred executive-titled employees, directors on its board, global vice presidents, regional presidents, and regional vice presidents from participating in any online conversation not sponsored by the company. This change in company policy is the direct result of kinky business behavior from its CEO, John Mackey.
In July, Mackey was outed by the FCC for having posted over 1,300 messages from 1999 to mid-2006 on the Yahoo! Financial boards. In these postings, Mackey hid behind an alias (“rahodeb”) and trumpeted Whole Foods while trashing Wild Oats. About eight-months after rahodeb’s last posting on Yahoo!, Whole Foods initiated a merger with Wild Oats.
The Whole Foods business operates under the belief stores should have the freedom to meet the needs of its unique customers and team members. The only governing rule stores must dogmatically adhere to is all food sold at Whole Foods Market must be free from artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated oils. The company has a Quality Standards Policy, which lists all unacceptable food ingredients. Products containing ingredients on this list are not allowed to be sold at Whole Foods stores.
Here’s where the company’s Libertarian ways truly come to life ... individual stores have the autonomy to stock whatever products they desire so long as the ingredients in the products adhere to these quality standards. The Whole Foods executive team trusts its stores to qualify and disqualify the products they sale.
Yet, Whole Foods is unable to trust its executives to qualify and disqualify how they can participate in online conversations about the company they work for. Interesting. Seems to me, the Libertarian answer to all of this is to develop a Blogging Standards Policy for every employee to follow. There are examples galore of corporate blogging guidelines for Whole Foods to use as a starting point.
However, I hope this spurs more Whole Foods Market team members (company term for “employees”) to blog on a company website blog or on a blog they create outside of the company. At the least, every Whole Foods Market location should have a company blog on the Whole Foods Website. And at the very, very least … Whole Foods should have a rich internal blog or some other internal online forum where team members can learn from one another and from those higher-up execs who have been barred from such online conversations outside of the company’s blog moat.
Sure, the company has an informative and snazzy cooking video blog called SECRET INGREDIENT as well a handful of podcasts and blogs. But there is so much more opportunity for Whole Foods Market to share their unique point-of-view on food and the natural food difference.
Here’s hoping enthusiastic Whole Foods Market team members start their own blogs and share their passions for changing the way the world eats, shops, and enjoys food.
"People are too busy enjoying their Apple iPods to listen to Zune's marketing, so what is Microsoft going to do?
Spend more money on ads, of course!
It has already wasted millions on state-of-the-art web design, artsy films, and beautiful Peter Max-ish advertising. The branding conceit was that Zune was all about sharing music, and had some built-in whatchamacallit to beam songs to other Zune devices.
Unfortunately, people already share music on their iPods: two people each grab an earbud and, voila, you've got sharing. Hand the player to a friend. Play songs on a computer. Zune offered to fix a problem that nobody had.">> READ MORE <<
Last night at the Austin Social Media Club event, we learned about Dell’s forays into “social media” from John Pope, Lionel Menchcha, and Caroline Dietz. (John, Lionel and Caroline are responsible for managing Dell’s social media initiatives.)
Below are some highlights from the very interesting panel discussion …
In April of 2006, Michael Dell charged Dell to proactively find dissatisfied customers in the blogosphere and connect them with someone at Dell who could help them. By July, Dell had launched its blogging efforts.
Dell stumbled with the initial launch of their Direct2Dell blog. They listened to feedback on how to improve it, namely adding links in posts linking to other bloggers. Dell adjusted and in some cases apologized for making a mistake.
[Lionel Menchaca, digital media manager]
In Febuary 2007, Dell launched IdeaStorm — which is, simplistically speaking, an “online suggestion box” inviting people to offer ideas on how Dell can improve its products and services.
One unique aspect to IdeaStorm is Dell is now able to close the loop with feedback from customers. When customers post ideas on IdeaStorm, Dell is able to follow-up with posts/comments explaining that the company heard them and explain what Dell is doing in response.
Dell views IdeaStorm as a way its product development team can co-create products with customers. Pre-installed Linux on Dell computers was one of the first ideas generated from IdeaStorm that Dell product developers worked with customers to co-create and introduce to the marketplace.
There are about 35 other ideas Dell has put into action as a response to listening to feedback from customers on IdeaStorm.
[Caroline Dietz, online community manager for IdeaStorm]
While reviewing some family history, notably the early death of my Father’s Father, I was struck with how Twitter today was a Telegram yesterday.
Think about it.
With Twitter you are limited to 140 characters. With Telegrams from the bygone era you were essentially limited to 140 characters because anything more would have been super-spendy.
People using Twitter are answering the question of “What are you doing?” People who used Telegrams were answering the question of “What are you thinking?”
Twitter’s interface resembles a Telegram’s interface. Have a look ... below is a telegram from friends of my Grandmother expressing their condolences over the passing of her husband, Al Moore. The crux of the message is a mere 100 characters: Have just heard of your great misfortune our heartfelt sympathy is with you = Elizabeth and Luttrell.
Yes, this analysis is limited and flawed. Twitter’s ability to connect with people in real-time with words makes it difficult to truly compare it to a Telegram. However, back in its day, a Telegram was the most instantaneous way to send a note to someone. Much more instantaneous than the Pony Express.
Hey Tom ... you really do have a dream marketing job introducing Method to the UK. (And, congrats on getting BrandWeek to publish your cartoons.)
A new addition to my Bloglines feed is Andy Sernovitz’s “Damn I Wish I'd Thought of That” blog. Andy is a networker’s networker. He’s also an experienced business professional, college teacher, past CEO of WOMMA, and an unfailing evangelist for Word-of-Mouth Marketing.
Andy contends the best marketing is marketing that earns the respect and recommendation of customers. For his blog, he’s asked a slew of marketers for their answers to a few seemingly simple questions. Andy wants to know …
What is your advice for any company that wants to ... (a) Make people happy? ; (b) Earn respect? ; (c) Get a word of mouth recommendation?
Gary Vaynerchuk is a wine enthusiast and evangelist. Fittingly, he's the Director of Operations at Wine Library, a wine retailer in New Jersey. Gary has been sharing his passion for wine with daily online videos where he sniffs, slurps, and spits wine all the while imparting wit and wisdom about wine (and about the New York Jets).
Don't expect a prim and proper haughty toddy video lecture about wine. Oh no. Gary ain't goin' out like that. New York Magazine labels Gary's style as an "unpretentious, gonzo approach to wine appreciation." Yep. That's right on.
The so-called wine establishment doesn't know what to do with Gary's unbridled evangelism for wine. In an interview with New York Magazine, Gary answered his critics by saying...
"It’s amazing how intimidating wine is; all the wine geeks want to keep everybody out. I get these real wine-snob d--kheads who think I’m dumbing wine down. And now wineries are starting to get mad at me. I used to be their darling—because I’m a buyer—but some of them don’t want to sell to me anymore because I panned their wine on the show. That’s been really difficult. I get a ton of positive feedback, but I also get a little zing-zing."
Spend a few minutes watching Gary's latest video and think to yourself, who in your company SHOULD do something similar?
BusinessWeek runs the voodoo down as it relates to how ranting against brands online through blogs and other means has become something business must address. Snippets and recommendations from this must-read article (sub. req’d) include:
“In the beginning, the idea of this new conversation seemed so benign. Radical transparency: the new public-relations nirvana! Companies, employees, and customers engage in a Webified dialectic. Executives gain insight into product development, consumer needs, and strategic opportunities. All the back-and-forth empowers consumers, who previously were relegated to shouting at call-center minions. Venom can be a great leading indicator.”
“Trashing brands online can also be high theater. Rats cruising around a Greenwich Village KFC/Taco Bell on YouTube. MySpacers busting their employers' chops. Faux ads bashing the Chevy Tahoe as a gas-guzzling, global-warming monster. Millions of people watch this stuff—then join in and pile on. Is it any wonder companies lose control of the conversation?”
“When the Web turns against them, executives are faced with the problem of how to manage the blowback. They have two choices: ignore the smaller furies and hope they won't metastasize, or respond outright to the attacks. It's rarely a good idea to lob bombs at the fire-starters. Preemption, engagement, and diplomacy are saner tools.”
To avert a public-relations disaster on the Web, BusinessWeek recommends businesses …
1. ENGAGE CRITICS. "Create a blog so you can strike back quickly. Establish ground rules, and filter nasty, anonymous comments."
2. BE VIGILANT. "Hire a team of media experts to troll for bad news, rumors, and trends. Know what influencers are saying about you at all times."
3. JUMP IN AND OPEN UP. "Address anything that could turn into a bonfire immediately. Replace "no comment" with transparency, candor, and humility."
4. DON'T OVEREACT. "Let tiny spasms of venom go. They'll disappear under the relentless pileup of new information.
5. STAY PROFESSIONAL. Respond to personal attacks for strategic reasons, not psychological ones. Don’t use the Web for therapy.
If you could only read one marketing-related blog which blog would that be? Tough question. Easy answer …
Ann Handley has compiled a strong tail list of interesting marketers sounding off on relevant marketing matters. Andrea Learned, Jeanne Bliss, Stephen Denny, Ted Mininni, David Armano, CK, and Lewis Green all consistently post worthwhile reading for any marketer. Add in some of the infrequent contributers like Spike Jones, Jill Griffin, Mike Wagner, Debbie Weil, Roy Young … and you have a stable of marketing bloggers that are unrivaled.
Kudos to the Marketing Profs Daily Fix for helping to make this marketer smarter. Thanks.
We began with 64 interesting marketing-related blogs in an NCAA March Madness-style tournament. Using the Gladwellian thin-slicing approach, I parsed the list from 64 to 32 to 16 to 8 and then to a Final Four. (It should be noted, no statistics were harmed or used in my parsing process. I went with off-the-cuff, ad-hoc gut instinct.)
The Seth Godin/Church of the Customer match-up lived up to its hype—a barn-burner. Seth played his usual relentless and rapid-fire style putting pressure on the Church early. Ben and Jackie of the Church withstood Seth’s early onslaught and managed to go to halftime only down by a few points.
The start of the second half saw the Church play with a poignancy seldom seen. Seth got into early foul trouble with some wayward posting and the Church took advantage at the free throw line. Down by one point with seven ticks on the clock, the Church blogging duo ran a classic give-and-go play leaving Seth stuck in his shoes and Jackie zipping through the lane for an easy, last-second game winning layup. The Church of the Customer defeats Seth Godin.
No one knew what to expect with the Creating Passionate Users match against Marketing Profs Daily Fix. As game time neared, speculation rose that Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users blog was not in the arena. Recently, Kathy has been the target of some cowardly online bullying and hearsay was her blogging sabbatical would prevent her from playing.
Ann Handley and her stable of Marketing Profs Daily Fix bloggers were warming up when David Weinberger, tournament commissioner, addressed the crowd. David read a statement from Kathy Sierra explaining why she was passing on the opportunity to play. Everyone in the arena understood Kathy’s gracious and heartfelt reasoning. Marketing Profs Daily Fix advances to final game.
At the March 29, 2007 meeting of the Social Media Club (Austin Chapter), I shared ten ideals to spark tens of ideas about businesses doing social media (blogs, vlogs, podcasting, etc). The following low-res video is an eight-minute snippet of my twenty-minute presentation.
Joseph Jaffe is taking a more democratic approach than I’m doing with a March Madness-style tournament to find the marketing blog that provides the most essential and insightful commentary. He asked for submissions and conducted a quick survey with readers to seed the tournament. Now with the 32-team tournament seeded, it’s time for us to vote.
For those living in Austin, you should consider attending this Thursday’s SOCIAL MEDIA CLUB event. It’s the second such meeting of the Austin chapter of the now global Social Media Club. I’m on the agenda to share some social media ideals to spark ideas. Please come.
I know some of us get hung-up on defining all this conversational online media stuff as Social Media. And some of us probably question why a Social Media Club should exist. But here’s the deal. Social Media Club events are great opportunities for experts to share all they know about blogs, vlogs, podcasting, etc. and for neophytes to learn the know-how/know-why behind "social media." The mantra of this club is: IF YOU GET IT, SHARE IT. At the inaugural Austin event, the experts who “get it” were sharing “it” with neophytes who do not yet get “it.” Get it?
Have you heard about the just-published book, THE ENLIGHTENED BRACKETOLOGIST: The Final Four of Everything? It’s a fun read where the authors have mocked-up NCAA March Madness-style brackets as a systematic way for “…parsing people, places and things to determine what is good, better, best in the world.”
The authors have invited “subject matter experts” to fill out these brackets with such offbeat categories as the Best Game Show Catch Phrases, Best Sports Rivalries, Best Guilty Pleasures, Best Plastic Surgery Disasters, etc. Fun stuff made even more fun at their DailyBracket website where you can submit your own bracket creations.
Since this is “Bracketology Season,” I thought it would be interesting to compile a Marketing Bloggers Bracketlogy chart parsing through a list of 64 somewhat-randomly chosen marketing blogs to find the BEST marketing blog. (Please note, this list was put together as something whimsical and not meant to be the final judgment on which marketing blog is really the best.)
I’ve whittled down the 64 marketing blogs I chose to include in my bracket to a FINAL FOUR. Three #1 seeds made it to my Final Four and one Cinderella seed made it. Seth Godin’s blog (#1 seed) takes on The Church of the Customer (#1 seed) in one match-up. The “winner” of that contest will face the winner between Creating Passionate Users (#1 seed) versus Marketing Profs Daily Fix (#3 seed).
You can access my full bracket by clicking on the image below to open it as a PDF.
I’ll post the results from my Marketing Bloggers Bracketology Chart on Monday of next week. In the meantime, you can also create your own chart by using this TEMPLATE (.xls). It would be fun to see a slew of other Marketing Bloggers Bracketology charts out there.
If a posting on your blog has ever been dug by Digg or dotted by Reddit or tagged by Del.icio.us then you know how much influence social bookmarking sites have in not only driving traffic to your blog, but also in spreading the reach of your idea. A simple mention on such popular social bookmarking sites can catapult a blog and/or an idea into a new realm of awareness.
But would it surprise you to learn that of the 300,000 registered Digg users, a mere 30 users are responsible for submitting 33% of the postings which regularly land on Digg’s homepage? Would it also surprise you to learn that one of Reddit’s most influential users is a 12-year-old boy? (Sounds like another occurrence of the “1% Rule.”)
The Wall Street Journal recently dissected the underbelly of social bookmarking sites by detailing how the few impact what the many view as being popular online with a well-written and highly informative article titled, “The Wizards of Buzz.”
This article also explains how payola schemes, which pay people to plug certain websites in hopes of gaming the system, are impacting the algorithms social bookmarking sites use to filter out the most popular postings on the web. Interesting stuff!
Okay. I’m a sucker for anything related to old school TV Game Shows. Name practically any Game Show from the 70s & 80s and I can ramble on-and-on about the hosts, celebrity guests, and game play. (Yeah, I know all about Rodeo Drive, Just Men!, and Hot Potato – don’t try to stump me. I’m unstumpable when it comes this.) So when I saw Toby taking the cue from David, I just had to play.
You see … David, from the Learfield InterAction blog, brilliantly linked blogrolls to the celebrity panel from Match Game, a hallowed TV Game Show. Every episode of Match Game featured six celebrities as part of their panel. (Okay, so maybe Debralee Scott is a D-list celebrity at best but don’t you dare tell me Shecky Greene is D-list. Maybe C-list but no way D-list!)
>> Sorry for the digression … back to the regularly scheduled blog post. (Focus John. Focus.)
The game play of Match Game was simple. The affable Gene Rayburn would toss out a fill-in-the-blank question or statement like, “King Kong ____blanked___ on the building.” and the celebrity panel would fill-in-the-blank by writing a word on a card that was either far-out wacky or right-on legit. Rayburn would then turn to one of the two contestants and ask them for their one word fill-in-the-blank answer. The contestant that managed to MATCH more of their answers with the celebrity answers won and then, went on to compete in a head-to-head bonus round with one of the celebrity panelists.
The real draw on Match Game was the celebrity panel. I know I would tune in to see if Nipsey was playing that day or if wacky Fannie Flag was playing. But if David Doyle was playing, I would usually change the channel and watch Password instead.
>> Dang, I’m digressing again. Sorry.
Well … I also decided to field my Match Game celebrity panel with marketing bloggers.
Since I’m into this blogging thing, a book about business blogging wouldn’t seem appropriate for me. And chances are if you’re reading this, you also do not need to read a book about business blogging. But you probably know someone who does need to read a book on business blogging.
(Come on … we bloggers all have friends at businesses who have yet to embrace the blogging/social media cause. Right?)
While prepping for a presentation I’m giving next month on Applying Online Word-of-Mouth [website | .pdf brochure], I riffled through Debbie Weil’s just published book, THE CORPORATE BLOGGING BOOK, and found it to be the best of the blog book bunch.
Debbie’s book is the best of the bunch because it’s actionable. She wastes little space in telling stories about blogging and instead, shares practical insight and guidance on all the relevant issues businesses face when deciding how, when, where, and why to blog.
In other words, THE CORPORATE BLOGGING BOOK is chock-full of everything you need to know to better champion the blogging/social media cause at your business. Learn more on Debbie’s companion book website.
I’m receiving more and more emails with auto-signatures from people (mainly media folk) that tell me if the email thread is bloggable or not. These auto-signatures look like this:
Anyone else seeing a surge in such auto-signatures?
Psst … I’m on vacation this week so instead of writing a post, I’m gonna redirect you to a noteworthy blog.
Psst … I’m on vacation this week so instead of writing a post, I’m gonna redirect you to a noteworthy blog ...
Psst … I’m on vacation this week so instead of writing a post, I’m gonna redirect you to a noteworthy blog.
Mike Manuel, of the Media Guerilla blog, twists the Budweiser Real Men of Genius radio campaign to salute you—Mister A-List Blogger Unkeynote Speaker. Nice work Mike! Now we just need someone to produce this spot. So, who's gonna be the first blogger to put these lyrics to music?
Last November I blogged about Michael Levine’s BROKEN WINDOWS BROKEN BUSINESS book and I subsequently mentioned how his abandoned website/blog was a broken window that needed to fixed.
Well ... it may have taken him a few months to do it but the Broken Windows Broken Business website is no longer broken. Levine recently updated his book companion website and this time around, he doesn’t try to accomplish too much by having links to a blog and discussion board. Instead, Levine sticks with the basics and doesn’t make implied promises he might not be able to deliver upon.
Not overpromising and under-delivering ... good move Michael.
Question … do you expect authors of business books to maintain a companion blog? I’ve come to expect authors to either maintain a companion blog to support the book or a catch-all blog with wide-ranging ruminations. To me, having and maintaining a blog has become a cost of doing business be it as an author or as a markerting medic with Brand Autopsy.
"yep - this entire riff makes my point. blogging = high school. and i don't just mean it's petty - its about top dogs and popular people (Top N Lists and A-list bloggers), sucking up (link love), bullies (riffs, spam, and dinkheads), exchange students (like "smurfette") reinventing themselves, and pedagogue teachers (kawasawki) who make too many rules and lists." -- Kirsten Osolind.
Scoble said this.
Shel said that.
Werner said this.
Shel piped in again.
Scoble then challenged Werner to meet after school by the flag pole to settle things.
Shel backed his buddy and buoyed the brouhaha.
Werner added this.
And Shel said more stuff.
Anyone else feel like we are in Junior High again with all this "He Said. Shel Said." babbling? Too bad this conversation went from being naked to wretched with all the back-and-forth bickering blogging. Let’s hope things simmer down between these three so a productive conversation on the business case for blogging can happen.
Recently I riffed on Michael Levine’s BROKEN WINDOWS BROKEN BUSINESS book which applies the broken windows crime theory to business. Levine contends a broken window in business happens when someone isn’t paying attention to details and that these are telltale signs to customers that a business doesn’t care, that it is poorly managed, and or it has become too big and arrogant to adequately deal with little details.
I hate to point this out but Levine’s website has a major broken window –– he last updated his BROKEN WINDOWS BROKEN BUSINESS blog two months ago. (Ouch.)
UPDATED | Dec. 8 | repaired a broken link
For this week's installment of the Carnival of Marketing, I have divided it up into two parts. The first part includes smart marketing-related posts culled from reader submissions. The second part contains a few links to worthwhile marketing reads as selected by me. Since you are all over-achievers, I expect you'll be interested in reading both sections. Right?
Be Proud of Your Mistakes
Matt Heinz explains how to turn failures into learning experiences creating a culture of innovation.
Participate in the Reputation Marketplace
John Winsor’s thinking syncs up with my thinking that managing a brand is really just managing a reputation. Yep, brand management is reputation management.
According to this Wall Street Journal online poll, 62% of voters do not read blogs. [Ouch.] And, only 17% read more than five blogs. [Double Ouch!] Seems to me we need to get folks to read blogs before we worry about whether or not they use RSS.
Whattaya say we all agree to tell five people this week about a few blogs we like. Then after we get these five new folks hooked on blogs, let’s agree to tell them how to use RSS to make reading blogs easier. Deal?
That’s how I see this RSS thing.
I still have to bring my own cup in order to get it filled with website/blog updates. I don’t mind bringing my own cup. But for RSS to go beyond reaching the few and into the many, we cannot expect others will be cool with bringing their own cup. RSS needs to come with the cup. Dig?
A wise marketer once said, "Don’t try to change someone’s worldview is the strategy smart marketers follow." But this same wise marketer (Seth Godin) is trying, for a second time, to change the majority of his blog readers’ worldview.
In a recent blog entry, Seth points out that the percentage of his blog readership from RSS feeds is “scary-low.” Seth then goes on to simply explain what RSS is and how to subscribe to his blog using an RSS feeder. This is the second time Seth has tried to get his readers to do something they either don’t care to do or still don’t know how to do. Or maybe most people don’t want to have an RSS reader.
The only way RSS is going to work is if we don’t know its there. RSS needs to be 100% invisible. RSS needs to be baked inside every program on everyone’s computer. RSS must be seamless to reach the masses. We shouldn’t have to use an add-on program and copy/paste geeky code to use it. It has to be simpler. It has to fit our worldview like so many other computer applications of being super easy to use, we don’t even know we are using it.
Yes … RSS is not for nerds anymore. However, RSS is still too geeky for the rest of us.
If You Want to Lead, Blog | Harvard Business Journal | Jonathan Schwartz
Throughout the recently held BLOGGING ENTERPRISE conference, Jonathan’s blog was mentioned as a benchmark blog for c-level execs. And whattaya know … in the November issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR), Jonathan has written a must-read article for any business wrestling with the idea of starting a company blog.
Because HBR is super-vigilant about copying/posting/distributing their articles, I’m not comfortable setting this article free. (Take a look at the terms & conditions I had to agree to in order to access the article online.)
Since I can’t free the article, I’ll share some key highlights…
Many Sun Microsystems top-level execs blog. In their blogs, they talk about business strategy, company values, products in the pipeline, successes, and failures. Sun realizes this may seem risky but Sun believes it is riskier not to blog. Sun wants to be a part of the conversation that will go on whether or not Sun participates.
By participating in the blogging conversation, Sun is able to communicate its corporate culture to not only customers but also to current and future Sun employees.
For companies interested in blogging but not knowing where to start, Jonathan recommends first reading Sun’s blogging strategy and guidelines document. He goes on to make more recommendations for blogging companies …
** use an honest, humorous, and open voice
** show respect for the audience
** don’t treat blogging like advertising
** don’t micromange … communicate the guidelines and let company bloggers loose
** revisit and modify your company’s blogging policy if need be
** listen to feedback
** respond to legitimate feedback
** “Authenticity is paramount.”
I’m way tardy in posting takeaways from THE BLOGGING ENTERPRISE Conference. Alexander Muse and Scott Allen have provided full coverage and links to others covering all the goings-on from the conference so I'll refrain from regurgitating what's already been gurgitated.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was on a panel discussing using blogs/blogging to position a company as a thought leader. Joel Greenberg from GSD&M superbly moderated the discussion which also included Charles Bess (EDS), Scott Rehling (Lava Studios/UT Football Vlog), and Todd Watson (IBM).
During the panel discussion, I shared the following thoughts:
When it comes to blogging, business size doesn’t matter. Since we are all using the same tools to blog, the playing field is level. Thus, small businesses can look bigger in the minds of customers by having a blog presence. And big businesses can get smaller by carrying on conversations with customers on a blog.
One barrier businesses face when deciding whether or not to blog is the issue of “what” should they blog about. That’s the wrong question to ask. It doesn’t really matter what a company says in its blog because customers are starving for any information that goes beyond a sound-bite from a commercial or a blurb of copy from an ad. What matters more is HOW a company says what it says. A company blog should be written in a genuine, forthcoming voice that shows personality and doesn’t succumb to hubris-heavy marketing speak. Think tonality, tonality, tonality.
That’s the Jim Rome philosophy to good sports talk radio. This approach also applies to blogging, especially for individual bloggers wanting to get their message heard amongst the millions of other blogs competing for people’s attention. Having a take is about being interesting to get people interested. Not sucking is about being passionate and compelling. Wanna position yourself as a thought-leader? Then, have a take and don’t suck . Dig?
John, good job at the blogging enterprise meeting. I'm a branding guy too, and was the one that asked the question about weighing the risks of content control versus uncensored blogs. As one who has spent a career creating brands, I still struggle with the idea that if I create a blog, anyone in my company can add to it, and anyone outside can too.
One of the presenters at the meeting said that the old communication paradigm was that companies had the same message in brochures, Press releases, Web, etc., and this paradigm is dead. But what about the time-tested technique that "repetition builds retention." A blog post is a moment in time. How can you build a brand using point in time, one-off comments?
First, a blog post is one moment in time. But a series of blog posts are many moments spread across time. By consistently writing compelling blog posts, it makes relevant the old school technique of “repetition builds retention.”
Now, when the speaker mentioned something about companies putting the same message in all its marketing collateral pieces, my takeaway was the speaker was referring to the highly refined and superficial language that many companies put in their brochures, press releases, etc… The best blogs reject superficial language for real words with real meaning. It’s less formal writing but more meaningful reading. Customers today are becoming more immune to super glossy marketing copy and many are appreciative when companies eschew hype for realness.
As far as struggling with the idea of giving up top-down marketing control so that anyone anywhere can change/modify/add-on to it from the bottom-up … I must quote from BRAND HIJACK:
“Marketing managers aren’t in charge anymore. Consumers are. Across the globe, millions of insightful, passionate, and creative people are helping optimize and endorse breakthrough products and services – sometimes without the companies’ buy-in. What exactly is going on? Let’s call it brand hijacking.
Brand hijacking is about letting customers (and other stakeholders) to shape brand meaning and endorse the brand to others. It’s a way to establish true loyalty, as opposed to mere retention. We’re not talking about creating hype here. We’re talking about a new template for going to market. We’re talking about a complex orchestration o many carefully though-out activities. An above all else, we’re talking about being willing to collaborate with a group of people you’re not use to collaborating with: consumers.”
It’s always great to connect offline with someone you’ve connected with online. And this week I was able to put a few faces to a few blogs.
First up was DUST!N from the Casual Fridays blog. As the VP of Programs for the Business Marketing Association (Tulsa Chapter), DUST!N invited me to share some Starbucks Tribal Knowledge at the chapter’s last meeting. Afterwards, DUST!N and I discussed a cool online venture we may introduce. If you have yet to wander over to the Casual Fridays blog … do so now.
Next was Matt Galloway from The Basement blog. While at the BMA Tulsa event, I met Matt (and Hetty, his super-savvy marketing research wife). Matt has emerged on the blogging scene recently with his passionate takes on the power and potential of word-of-mouth marketing. His recap of the WOMMA NYC event was excellent!
And I also met with Ethan from The Vision Thing blog. Recently I shared some thoughts about Whole Foods Market and in comments to my post, Ethan clued me in on the Sprouts Farmer’s Market store in Plano. After trading a few emails, we scheduled a time to tour the Sprouts store and then Ethan recorded our conversation where we dissected … I mean discussed … the Sprouts shopping experience. This conversation should turn up on one of Ethan’s The Sound of Vision podcasts.
But wait, there's more … I get to put a few more faces to blogs next week when Steve Rubel (Micro Persuasion) and Shel Isreal (Naked Conversations & It Seems to Me) are in Austin speaking at The Blogging Enterprise Conference. And … on Thursday, Mike Landeman (Here’s the Thing [blog] & Ripple [business]) and I will connect over a few beers at the Ginger Man.
It’s about time a conference on business blogging came to a top-ranked creative class city like Austin, TX. On Wednesday, November 2nd, THE BLOGGING ENTERPRISE conference will invade the badlands of Central Texas.
This conference has been designed to offer attendees provocative, yet practical, ideas on how businesses can get smarter about using blogs, vlogs, and podcasts to better connect with customers.
Steve Rubel (MicroPersuasion blog) will kick-off the conference and Shel Isreal (Naked Conversations [blog | book]) will close the conference. And in-between … there will be panels on Citizen Marketing, Anticipating & Managing the Blogstorm, and Using Blogs to Position Businesses as Thought Leaders.
[Psst … I’ll be sharing some Brand Autopsy wit and wisdom as a panelist on the Using Blogs to Position Businesses as Thought Leaders discussion.]
Come join us at THE BLOGGING ENTERPRISE Conference. The registration fee is only $170 and by attending … you’ll be the first on the blog block to receive a copy of NAKED CONVERSATIONS.
A couple of Brand Autopsy readers have e-mailed John and I with the clever subject line:
That's the stereotypical line listeners use when they call into a radio show...
Thinking about this line for a few minutes made me realize, that's basically what a blog is... a special-topic radio program.
A program that anyone with an internet tuner can adjust their web dial to...
There are so many people who have heard the word BLOG, but don't know exactly what it means.
The call-in radio program is an easy to get metaphor that bridges the understanding-of-technology gap.
Folks understand that certain radio programs appeal to certain audiences and that you have the option to tune in or tune it out.
They get the concept of calling into a radio show.
They get that the opinions of the radio personality and the opinions of the callers are just that... their opinions.
From a business perspective, perhaps this is a good filter for determining whether your company should engage in blogging.
"Go ahead caller, the lines are open."
Blog Jackets: Something analogous to book-jackets, that would contain the kind of information readers want to know when they first stumble upon a new blog -- author bio, overview of blog content, what makes your blog unique, intended audience, reader endorsements, and blog traffic data.
Amazon Blog Catalogue: No slight intended to existing blog directories, but I think we need to get Amazon, the cataloguers of all things written, to add blogs to their listings. Why should they do so? Because blogs have become a major source of book reviews and book referrals, publicists for what Amazon sells. Because it would complement what they already do, bring them more traffic and provide another valuable service to their customers. Because they could add a level of professionalism and standardization to the cataloguing of blogs that is currently missing (International Standard Blog Numbers?)[READ MORE]
No, really... What is blogging doing to help marketing? Customer communications? Innovative ideas? How is it helping tell the story?
What types of marketing advances are being accomplished? How are we helping ourselves?
Blogs have offer marketers a way to exchange thoughts to a broader group of folks than normally could be reached. We've formed little town centers... gathering spots... each with their own set of topics.
We've created online newsletters where editors can share their perspective on a topic, link to those who are like-minded, and challenge those who disagree.
BROADER PEER BASE
We're able to meet and discuss topics with folks from around the globe. Normally you would only be able to reach folks at your own company... or professionals you'd meet at a conference... or at professional organization meetings. Blogging is a nice way to network.
These ways of connecting are great. They allowed us to broaden our peripheral vision...
TALKING TO OURSELVES
We've formed small communities, but we're still talking to ourselves... I feel like we've formed on-line clicks... A new version of chat rooms. Other than sharing stories in our own group... What are we doing to share our perspective outside of our group? (If you're not in the chat room, you'll miss the conversation).
ARE WE MAKING A DIFFERENCE?
But HOW is blogging helping us? Our profession? Most effective groups have found ways to organize themselves... form some rules... create process... ensure different folks have different roles... drive a common vision among the group. Should we be better organized either as individuals or as a whole?
I'm not suggesting that we have to unite and lose our individuality... But what are we currently accomplishing? We seem like armchair quarterbacks... back-seat drivers... We view the world from behind out keyboards and make observations and ponder to one another...
What can we do to make ourselves more productive? How can we best use this new tool?
Before submitting my essay to Jon Strande for the 100 Bloggers project, I want to reach out to you for feedback.
For those unaware, the purpose of the 100 Bloggers project is to showcase the connectedness of blogging/bloggers and to highlight the power of a networked conversation.
25 bloggers were originally invited to participate and they were asked to invite another blogger who in turn, invited another blogger who invited one more blogger until a total of 100 bloggers were on board. We each have until March 1 to submit our 1,000 words (or less) essay which will be published online and offline in some capacity.
So … here is your invitation to provide feedback on my essay and to become the 101st blogger.
Learning through Sharing
as submitted by johnmoore (from the Brand Autopsy blog)
From 10 to Tens of Millions …
Throughout my marketing career I’ve always been quick to share interesting articles with others. On Monday mornings back-in-the-day, I would usually find myself wrestling with the office copy machine to churn out double-sided copies of must-read articles from Fast Company, BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal, and stories from a variety of other sources. At that time, my distribution list consisted of only 10 co-workers.
These days I’m still sharing interesting articles with others, but the difference is my distribution list extends beyond 10 co-workers to tens of millions of people on the Internet.
Thanks to the expansive reach of blogs and to blogging’s ease-of-use, I no longer spend my Monday mornings slaving over a problematic copy machine to share interesting articles. Instead, blogging allows me to simply link to the article online and digitally Cc: the entire online world and not just Cc: my marketing co-workers.
See ya Cc: …
Cc: is short-hand language for carbon copy. Long before the emergence of word processors and photocopiers, typewriters ruled the written world and making carbon copies was the everyday way to share important documents with others.
To make a duplicate copy during the typewriter age, one had to slip a piece of carbon paper in between two pieces of paper and after finishing typing, one was left with an original copy and a carbon copy.
The original meaning of Cc: is irrelevant now, but its intent is highly relevant today. We use Cc: everyday when we send messages to multiple recipients through email. We even use Cc: as a verb as in ‘I Cc:’d so and so.’
But Cc: is so yesterday while Dc: is so today.
We’ve evolved from making carbon copies to creating digital copies. And through blogging, we can digitally Cc: the whole wide world.
Sharing to Learn …
The main reason I blog is to learn -- that’s because I learn by sharing. Conversation always follows sharing and inherent in any conversation is the art of listening and the act of responding.
When you share your opinions, thoughts, and influences with others on a blog post, it will usually generate comments. It’s through listening and responding to these comments that I learn most.
I learn when someone openly challenges my thoughts as it forces me to reevaluate my thinking. I also learn when someone adds their unique perspective by riffing off my perspective.
But before you can share to learn, you must learn to share.
Learning to Share …
Too many times we find it easier to keep our opinions, thoughts, and influences to ourselves. Blogging requires you to tear down barriers and be more transparent in sharing with others what you are passionate about.
The act of blogging has been characterized by some as being egotistical selfish musings. I could not disagree more.
Blogging is as selfless an act one can do. To blog is to be transparent. To blog is to open oneself up to being judged. To blog is to share. And to share is to learn.
The Virtuous Cycle of Sharing and Learning …
Blogging’s virtuous cycle of sharing to learn and learning to share has transformed how I receive information and how I am inspired by information. I credit this virtuous cycle to helping me make sharper, more strategic business decisions and in helping me to become a more consistent marketing mentor to others.
I invite you to join this conversation because the more people share, the more we all will learn.
If you are already blogging, I ask you to blog more often. If you haven’t started blogging, I ask you to begin. Together, we can make this virtuous cycle even more virtuous when more of us share to learn and more of us learn to share.
Have some comments? Please share so I can learn.
Courtesy of PSFK, AdLand has assembled a “Best Of” collection of 70+ advertising, marketing, branding, and public relations focused blogs. Better yet, they give some commentary behind each recommended blog.
Oh yeah … AdLand also has a page listing over 470 blogs focused on advertising, marketing, branding, and public relations topics. Have fun rifling through these blogs.
As a marketingologist with the Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice, I give companies “Second Opinions” about the business and marketing activities they are currently doing or considering doing.