Is Marketing Work Making Us Stupid?

July 11, 2008 at 6:27 am | Posted in Books, Business, Communication, General, Gladwell, Malcolm - Blink, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 11 Comments
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Photo curtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Photo courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I would like to do something a little different on this lovely Friday. Instead of presenting an argument or commenting on a piece of news, I would like to throw out a question to you. (Yes, you!) I need your help, so dip your figurative quills in the ink well and read on.

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me: I have a terrible memory. That’s what people tell me anyway. I forget birthdays and I was never good at remembering phone numbers (ah, the days before cell phones).

I’m the type of person who walks into a store and, when they come out, can’t figure out which direction they came from. (Malls were especially difficult as I recall.) It’s not because I’m stupid – it’s because I’m analyzing the advertisement they posted in the window, the customer service of the employees, and whether the discount rate of the sale was more or less than was offered online.

And then I noticed a passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink (page 186 for those of you following along at home). Gladwell describes giving a group of his Manhattan friends the Pepsi challenge – figure out which drink is Coke and which is Pepsi while blindfolded. And yet none of his urban friends, pinkies presumably high in the air, could tell the difference. “They may drink a lot of cola, but they don’t ever really think about colas.”

But marketers must think deeply about these experiences. In whatever field you work, do you have an extraordinary sensitivity? Do you have a Spidey-sense about messaging?

And this leads back to my original problem with memory. I’m working on the theory that marketers focus so much on both the big-picture issues (think branding) and small details (think bounce rate) that they may lose some of the information in the middle. Is this the case for you? Or is this just a bunch of baloney?

Continue Reading Is Marketing Work Making Us Stupid?…

Book Review: Toy Box Leadership

July 8, 2008 at 7:13 am | Posted in Books, Business, Communication, General, Hunter, Ron Jr. and Michael Waddell - Toy Box Leadershi, Leadership, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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TBL1

I was recently asked by co-author Michael Waddell to review Toy Box Leadership. This new book is definitely worth picking up and I will explain why. (This post contains no affiliate links and I received no compensation of any kind except for a free review copy of the book.)

The premise of the book by Waddell and Ron Hunter, Jr., is that childhood toys taught or exemplified many of the skills necessary to lead well. Some examples are direct correlations (a rocking horse describing lots of work without actually achieving anything) and others are more figurative (LEGOs describing relationships that start with connecting).

Seriously? Toys And Leadership?

The connection between childhood toys and leadership lesson fluctuates from poignant to cheesy to fondly familiar. But the important thing to remember is that this is not the point. The connection between the toy and the particular lesson is secondary to your ability to absorb and recall the idea.

The toys simply provide an easily recognized and easily remembered framework of leadership strategy. The metaphors are certainly stronger than, say, a purple cow or square apple.

Let’s Just Say It

We need to own up to a basic fact: every book on leadership will contain some similar fundamental truths. Communicating goals to your employees, for instance, will universally be a positive thing while emotional rages around the office will be regarded as uncouth. Stating this universality is not a knock on this or any other business book – it simply is.

If we admit to some similarity, then one of the differentiators becomes the book’s ability to be memorable and to find a place in the reader’s life. This is ultimately what makes Toy Box Leadership successful. Toys fit with the intended audience (Lite-Brites rather than Xbox 360s) and flow smoothly into the each particular subject on leadership.

Continue Reading Book Review: Toy Box Leadership…

The First Tweet-Up

June 17, 2008 at 6:18 am | Posted in Blogging, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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I went to my first tweet-up on Thursday and had a blast. The Colonel from the Chicago Tribune hosted the event and it had a surprisingly large turn-out. I’d like to tell you about my experience and give yet another reason you social media types and marketers need to be poking a toe into the twitter water.

A What?

A tweet-up is a meet-up conceived on Twitter and/or bringing together folks who follow each other through the service. While everyone there used Twitter, the social media capabilities spread far and wide, including Stumblers, Yelpers, and good ol’ bloggers.

Two Chicago Traditions – Talking and Drinking

I didn’t know anyone there, but it was not difficult to discern that the chatty, type-A personalities in the front were my people. @BobbiDigital said it best – “I just looked for the people on their iPhones.” I met some nice folks, including @kvetchingeditor, @BrentDPayne, RodRakic, and @LenKendall.

There weren’t a lot of strictly marketing people there (I didn’t have a chance to say hello to local marketing celebrity @Armano), but it was still useful to hear how other people were using social media. Maybe it was especially advantageous that they didn’t use it for their day job.

Continue Reading The First Tweet-Up…

What Would You Do With An Extra 15 Hours Per Week?

June 7, 2008 at 9:41 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment
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Just like Ringo, I get by with a little help from my friends. I am happy to be featured as a guest blogger on Drew’s Marketing Minute. Please visit Drew’s blog and read my post.

I recently suggested quite a few media outlets to cover if you hope to be an A-list blogger. In my guest post, I explain how you can create time to do so.

I guarantee that if you follow the guidelines, you will create a minimum of 15 extra hours per week. Imagine using all of this time to research your dream profession, write a blog about it, promote that blog, and achieve the success you want. Heck, maybe that means finally being able to quit your day job.

Don’t expect it to be easy. These are life-changing suggestions and they require effort. But I know they work – I’ve been living by these guidelines myself for almost 8 months. Read more at the guest post: Could you find an extra 15 hours?

Writing Content In A Web 2.0 World

June 4, 2008 at 5:39 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, Facebook, General, Marketing, MySpace, Online marketing, Search, Second Life, SEM, SEO, Social Media, User generated content, Web 2.0, White paper | 11 Comments
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You’ve heard all the hype about Web 2.0, but what does it all mean? How will it affect your business?

How do you communicate with potential readers and customers in this new era?

My free white paper, Writing Content in a Web 2.0 World, answers these questions and:

  • What exactly is Web 2.0?
  • How should your writing style change?
  • How has online interaction changed and what will this mean for the future of business?
  • What is the secret new currency in this market?

Download the white paper here: Writing Content in a Web 2.0 World

(The white paper is in PDF format. Download the latest version from Adobe here.)

And of course, please join the conversation! Leave comments here with your thoughts and suggestions for this or future white papers.

I considered requiring you to subscribe to my enewsletter to download the white paper. After all, if you were interested in this subject, it’s a sure bet you will be interested in my other content.

However, I’ve decided that this requirement does not fit well with my overall strategy or the community environment found in a Web 2.0 world.

Rather, I would just ask that you consider subscribing via email or RSS. Thanks!

You Might Be A Marketing Blogger If…

June 3, 2008 at 5:42 am | Posted in Blogging, General, Marketing, Meta, Online marketing | 3 Comments
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I find that marketers and bloggers are usually funny people and I was thinking about all of the ways we’re just a tad different than other folks.

So, without any delay, and in a Jeff Foxworthy-esque voice, I present: “You might be a marketing blogger if…”

  • You go through life wishing you could A/B test your own conversation. At the singles bar: “If I would have said ‘Hey babe’ instead of ‘Hello,’ could I have improved the response…”
  • You can decipher this sentence: FYI – I’ll get the ROI on the KOLs before COB.
  • You save all of the direct mail that comes to the house “just to see what the old guys are up to.”
  • Your wife asks if this dress makes her look fat and your first thought is “I’m gonna need some market research before I say anything.”
  • Continue Reading You Might Be A Marketing Blogger If……

How To Be An A-List Blogger – Study, Study, Study (Part 4)

May 22, 2008 at 6:04 am | Posted in Advertising, Anderson, Chris - The Long Tail, Blogging, Books, Communication, General, Gladwell, Malcolm - Blink, Godin, Seth - Meatball Sundae, Heath, Chip and Dan - Made To Stick, Jaffe, Joseph - Join The Conversation, Marketing, Ogilvy, David - On Advertising, Online marketing, Research, Social Media, Taleb, Nassim Nicholas - The Black Swan, Turow, Joseph - Niche Envy, User generated content, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Update: Welcome Stumblers! If you like this article, please show your love via StumbleUpon. Thanks!

In this installment of the series, I will cover all of the books, magazine, websites, and podcasts that you need to become an A-List Blogger. These resources will give you the ammo to be the very best in your field. (And if you think this amount of reading, watching, researching, and learning is impossible, visit tomorrow when I will share the secrets of how to carve out at least 10 hours per week to study.)

Marketing has a funny relationship with education, research, and good, ol’ fashioned studying. Maybe it’s because the communicative aspect of marketing comes naturally to us that we forget there’s a lot of hard work that needs to happen, too. In short, you cannot be a good blogger or marketer without studying your craft.

You Can Study Communication?

From David Ogilvy: “This willful refusal to learn the rudiments of the craft is all too common. I cannot think of any other profession which gets by on such a small corpus of knowledge. (page 21)” Sometimes the flashy new tools or the expense accounts or the pursuit of new clients can all distract us from our responsibility to constantly improve our game.

And while the world around is may be shifting from books to blogs, an A-list blogger or marketer perhaps should think in terms of content or research or media, regardless of the medium. Read, watch, and listen to as much as possible, and think critically about whether the message has value.

Help Me Help You Help Me

Of course, I can only speak from my own experience. But I thought it might be helpful to outline the books, blogs, podcasts, and other forms of blogging/marketing research in which I’ve partaken during the last year.

This isn’t meant to come off as boastful. My main goal is to impress upon you the importance of continual professional education, then see you buy or subscribe to these resources and suggest new resources to me.

Continue Reading How To Be An A-List Blogger – Study, Study, Study (Part 4)…

How To Be an A-List Blogger – Curiosity (Part 3)

May 20, 2008 at 5:25 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, General, Heath, Chip and Dan - Made To Stick, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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In this continuing series, I am covering how you can become not only the best blogger you can be, but also how to become recognized in your field and thus adequately compensated. The first two installments covered tactics – commenting and optimizing for search – but in this third post, I am making it more personal.

There are traits that are uniquely ideal for blogging. I believe the most important of these traits is curiosity.

But how can something as abstract as curiosity lead to concrete blogging results, nay success? What are the benefits of curiosity? I’ve gathered some of the best comments on this topic and I hope it proves enlightening. (If so, please feel free to comment below and subscribe to be notified of future posts on the subject.)

The Pain of Not Knowing

Curiosity is arguably caused by the pain – or perhaps frustration – of a gap in knowledge. Most of us have experienced this condition in acute or chronic form.

Long-time readers of this blog know of my appreciation for Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick. They quote behavioral economist George Loewenstein on his gap theory of curiosity: “[Loewenstein] says that as we gain information we are more and more likely to focus on what we don’t know. Someone who knows the state capitals of 17 of 50 states may be proud of her knowledge. But someone who knows 47 may be more likely to think of herself as not knowing 3 capitols” (pg. 89).

Continue Reading How To Be an A-List Blogger – Curiosity (Part 3)…

Marketing Whitepapers

May 16, 2008 at 6:20 am | Posted in Communication, General, Marketing, Online marketing | 2 Comments
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I read voraciously for this blog and for my day job. One of the best resources for marketing or blogging advice is white papers.

White papers give you a comprehensive view of one particular topic or problem/solution that you can read in the length of your morning commute. I have been blogging a lot on the ROI of social media lately, and Chris Brogan’s new white paper summed up a lot of my related thoughts to trust economics. (I only wish I’d read it before I had written those posts…ah well, I’ll cite it sometime in the future.)

Chris nails it in ten short pages. That’s useful to any busy blogger or marketer.

Copyblogger has a lot of great resources, including this white paper on viral marketing. Search the site for more. And I just found a great white paper on personal branding by My Creative Team.

What are some white papers that have helped you? Share the links in the comments below. Also, what are some white papers you would like to see? I’m thinking about writing a white paper in the next few weeks, so suggestions are welcome.

If/when I do write that white paper, I will give advance copies to my subscribers before the general public. Subscribe via the RSS readers listed to the right or by email so you don’t miss out.

I look forward to hearing about the white papers that have helped you the most!

Update: I released my first white paper and you can download it here: Writing Content in a Web 2.0 World

Do let me know what you think!

Social Technographics: Forrester And The ROI Of Social Media

May 13, 2008 at 6:04 am | Posted in Communication, Facebook, Forrester, General, Generation X, Generations, Marketing, MySpace, Net gens, Online marketing, Research, ROI, Second Life, Social Media, Tagging, Tweens, Usability, User generated content, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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Last week, a lot of you read my guest post about the ROI (return on investment) of social media. There is no doubt that social media is changing the ways people interact online and hence, the way companies communicate with their customers.

The thing that is still missing is quantifiable data about these interactions. We’re in a theory stage – we know what’s right because we have experienced it – but we are still waiting for proof in numbers. Forrester Research made a giant step in the right direction when they introduced social technographics.

Social technographics is an analysis of consumers’ approach to social media – not just which ones they use, but understanding how they use the medium in their daily life. You can download the full report on Forrester Research’s website (there is a fee) or read the book on the same topic published April 21, 2008: Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. (There is also a ton of free goodies at the Groundswell blog.)

I sat in on a webinar last week where Charlene and Josh expounded on their work. Josh summed up the goal of this work: “Think about what you want to accomplish, not the technology.” There is so much fascination about what technology can do that marketers often forget the question is what technology can do for you. The webinar came back again and again with the message to use this data to inform a strategy for your clients. (You can find the resulting Q&A published post-webinar here.)

How’s It Work?

Charlene and Josh categorize web users into six sections based on the level of their activity, from Creators to Inactives. I have not seen a clear but simple ranking system like this before and I certainly hope it is accepted as an industry standard. The real value, however, comes from their detailed analysis of each category’s activity.

Continue Reading Social Technographics: Forrester And The ROI Of Social Media…

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