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Blast from the past

iphone.jpgYesterday was iPhone launch day and reports ranged from utter madness in Palo Alto where Steve Jobs made an appearance to calmer, long lines at other stores. Back on January 15 I did a post titled "Nevermind the iPhone, give me a video iPod+" and I still believe what I said then and I hope it comes true in the near future. Here it is for your reading enjoyment.

This is a video from the opening of the Palo Alto store at 6pm. Madness! What company wouldn't kill for this kind of opening?

[Feed readers please click through to the post to view the video.]

Now, I truly thought I wanted the iPhone. I really wanted one. I would have killed (maybe not kill, but surely I would have gently maimed somebody) for one. Now that I've seen it and thought about it for the past week I realize that I don't really want it, I want part of it.

I keep coming back to one major problem. Cingular. Or should I say AT&T. Yikes, that makes it even worse! Let me clarify a couple points before I go on. I love Apple. I use as many Apple products as I can get my hands on. I love the design of iPhone. I love the UI. I love the integration. It's beautiful and I really want to hold it in my hand and never let it go.

So why do I say kill the iPhone? I, like millions of other people around the world right now, am accustomed to carrying around two devices. One does the phone/email/SMS and the other does video and audio. I don't mind carrying my Motorola Q and my 30Gb iPod. I like the functionality of my phone separate from my iPod because they are fundamentally different devices with different purposes.

So what do I want? I want convergence that makes sense to me. I want a widescreen video iPod in the same case as the iPhone. I want a camera in the device. I want Bluetooth for wireless sync and to use wireless headphones. I want Wifi and a built-in browser for surfing. I want to buy songs on the go. I want battery life. I want iChat built in for IM and video conferencing down the road. I want more than 8Gb of storage.

What I don't want is the phone. I want to watch video and talk at the same time. I want Verizon as my phone carrier and another device to handle my media.

Please Apple, release your iPhone to the dwindling AT&T users. I will covet thy iPhones in the meantime (I admit it). But give me the killer iPod I deserve as a loyal Apple evangelist and continue your (very deserved) domination of the mobile player industry.


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Buzz Friday for June 29, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion.

[Audio should be good this week. You can subscribe via RSS to receive an update when I post a new video here.]


[Feed readers please click through to the post to see the video.]

Here are all of the items that I think are interesting this week:


  • The iPhone launches at 6pm tonight at Apple and at&t stores nationwide. It will be interesting to see if they sell out or if the stores are just busy. By my calculations the phone plus one year of service is around $1500. People have been camped out for days to get the first couple units. To tell you the truth, I would be out there too, but I have Verizon.
  • Greg Verdino has a great piece about loving your haters. Jason Calacanis proved this strategy successful the other day on his Calacanis Cast show when he invited four SEO critics and Jason stole the show.
  • MySpace launched its MySpaceTV site and pretty much copied YouTube verbatim. Why mess with a good thing eh?
  • Speaking of YouTube, traffic to the site is 50% greater than any other video site according to HitWise. I wonder if CBS still thinks going on their own is a good idea?
  • CK has a great post on trust. How to lose it and how to win it.
  • Google will now allow you to alter your driving directions through Google Maps. You can drag the routes to avoid construction and get where you're going with greater ease.

  • Mentos has an interesting new site featuring their intern Trevor. Think Subservient Chicken in human form and real time.
  • Buzz follows Kevin Rose (of Digg) wherever he goes in whatever he does. Marion Sundar covers his new venture Pownce combines IM, file transfer and Twitter-like presence and group push functionality. It's in limited beta so anybody with an invite to spare shoot it over.
  • Dell has released some pretty new colors on their Inspiron laptops. Drew McLellan has a nice post about what happens when a product shifts categories. I do think, however, putting new colors on the same old hardware running MS Vista isn't a real shift. Apple was a radical shift because it combined the OS with the design.
  • TMobile is creating cellular phones that can work on WiFi networks.
  • Jeremiah Owyang at PodTech shares a brilliant idea from his trip to Singapore. A company provides a camera and printer for customers to take a picture. They're encouraged to take one home and leave one for their wall. It's become a tourist attraction and business driver.
  • I attended a great virtual branding event at crayon's Second Life HQ the other day. I thought it was a great way to liven up what would be a mediocre phone conference. It allowed for the personal interactions that we take for granted about attending in real life.
  • Flickr photos are now being indexed in Yahoo's search engine. This is a big boost for Yahoo.
  • New DIY Twitter network service Frengo launches. This could be a big trend for branded uses of the technology.
  • Apple quietly passed Amazon.com to become the third largest music retailer. This plus the iPhone are really giving Apple some momentum to try bigger, better things. Look out Best Buy and WalMart.
  • Facebook's new open platform has put some fear into other networks including professional network LinkedIn. They've announced the plan to open up in a similar way.

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. youtube
  2. noelia
  3. iphone
  4. ron paul
  5. myspace
  6. facebook
  7. video de noelia
  8. video noelia
  9. descargar
  10. paris hilton

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Plaxo
  2. Bolt
  3. Geni
  4. Vimeo
  5. Stickam

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden - No changes this week


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Duct Tape Marketing
  5. Logic + Emotion
  6. Diva Marketing (Go Toby!)
  7. What's Next
  8. Daily Fix
  9. Converstations
  10. Drew's Marketing Minute

View the top full top 25

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Todd And - New to Buzz Friday


  1. Seth Godin
  2. Copyblogger
  3. Micro Persuasion
  4. tompeters!
  5. Adrants
  6. Pronet Advertising
  7. SEOMoz Blog
  8. Online Marketing Blog
  9. Duct Tape Marketing
  10. Marketing Pilgrim

View the full list here

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Dramatic chipmunk
  2. Mika Brzezinski rips Paris Hilton
  3. My iPhone Diary
  4. Microsoft Surface Parody
  5. Paul sings opera

More


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Inside//Out: Bud.tv

budtv_logo.jpgInside//Out is a new series where I will take you on a video tour of what companies are doing in the online and social media spaces. First up is Bud.tv.

Undoubtedly by now you've heard (or read) about the issues that Bud.tv has faced. From low audience numbers to the CEO claiming the site would "probably fade", it hasn't been an easy road for Budweiser.

Here is episode 1 of Inside//Out:


[Feed readers please click through to the post to see the video.]

The Problems:
Looking at the site as it stands right now I can tell you a number of reasons for the lack of traffic and the bad press the site has received.


  • Poor architecture and design. From the main landing page through the rest of the site, it lacks the dynamic, engaging feel of many other social media sites. There is no preview of content, no photography or even a welcome message. On top of that, somebody got drunk on the Web2.0, shiny button Kool-Aid, but forgot about the user experience. Menus have some issues once inside as well. All in all it ads up to a frustrating experience.
  • What is there for female viewers? This site is 100% geared towards men. If I were a woman coming to this site I would probably jump ship pretty quick (any women out there want to comment on this?). I know men are the primary Bud target, but come on. Half of the world is female and women control the majority of the spending money in this country so why not balance out the content and try to reach as many people as possible?
  • Social media is locked out. The only real interaction possible on this site is emailing a clip to a friend, rating a video and downloading clips. That's it. I can't embed them in my blog or share with anybody who doesn't have an account. The main problem is that Bud isn't making it easy for me to engage with their content in the networks I already belong to. They're making me join another network. That's not going to fly for much longer as people find the places their friends are and settle in.

The Opportunities:
For as many problems as Bud.tv has, there are some bright spots here.


  • (Mostly) good content. The content on the site is well produced, funny and lends itself perfectly to being passed along. One problem is the lack of content for women, the other is the mechanism to pass it along in other networks.
  • Proactive marketing. I understand and agree with Budweiser's take on drinking responsibility, but it's not a reason to limit content. Instead, use the opportunity to push the drink responsibly message or partner with M.A.D.D. for the messaging. Bud content is already getting to sites like YouTube. Why not be proactive and add value to the community?

Picture 10.pngWhat should they do?


  • Scrap the Bud.tv site. Yes, scrap the entire site. It's a lost effort now. Instead, partner with video networks like YouTube and Joost to create Budweiser-branded channels. Add drinking responsibility messages at the start and end of each clip and really engage with and educate the audience. Both video systems have ways to authenticate age so why not use it? These sites make it easy to share content and let people spread the ideas in email and through social media outlets like blogs.
  • Use the power of the networks to communicate. People will be able to respond to videos with their own videos. Respond back to them. Be proactive. Reply to comments. Make somebody fully responsible for monitoring the site during business hours.
  • Engage in other networks. Create and engage on services like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. to promote responsible drinking and engage in those micro-conversations. I think a blog focused on the brewers would be fascinating as a behind-the-scenes look at Anheuser Busch. The company has a great history and has good product. Use it, leverage sponsorships in auto racing to build momentum with unique content.

Get out there Budweiser and go to where the people are. Don't create "one more place" for people to have to go. Make it easy for them to pull you in to their lives.

I'd love to get feedback on this new video series as well as on Bud.tv. You can leave a comment or email me.

[Note:] The idea for this post came from a conversation I had with Phil Gillman and Doug Meacham last week on Twitter. It started as I thought about how this idea of original content went wrong for Bud.


























MattDickman Is wondering why budweiser didn't create a channel on Joost or YouTube instead of doing Bud.tv  (12:52 PM June 22, 2007)
PhilGillman @mattdickman they seem to be really stressed about the whole age restricted access... not that they couldnt have done that on joost   (10:02 AM June 22, 2007)
MattDickman @PhilGillman I thought about the age restriction too, but they could definitely do that on Joost. In fact, Joost probably already has it.   (01:45 PM June 22, 2007)
DougMeacham @MattDickman: That is a great question! Perhaps I've missed their strategy, but Isn't the point to get brand engagement vs channel traffic?  (02:36 PM June 22, 2007)
MattDickman @DougMeacham Precisely! With a market so broad, why not go to the users instead of creating one more place? Silly.   (03:08 PM June 22, 2007)
PhilGillman @mattdickman yeah - they ask for your age in the joost setup, and also have age recommendations on channels   (12:54 PM June 22, 2007)

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What NOT to do in a user generated ad contest

iStock_000001465250XSmall.jpgAllowing users to generate advertising for you is a risky game. On one hand you can empower your most passionate advocates to shower you with love. Contrarily, your opponents can use it as a platform to bash you.

Either way, companies take a risk when going down this path. I saw an this article today on NYTimes.com about a contest presented by Malibu Rum which is stirring up a bit of controversy. All of the positive press they've received is now being tempered with this news. (Note that this is a controversy being created by the users and not by the media.)

In short here is an overview of the situation:


  1. Malibu created a contest on YouTube and their website
  2. They posted rules
  3. They contradicted part of those rules in copy
  4. They let people submit video ads around the "Day-O" song
  5. People could vote for their favorite video
  6. Those votes didn't really count as Malibu picked the winner behind the curtain
  7. The main winner was announced, but not the other finalists
  8. Other contestants cried foul
  9. Contestant creates conspiracy video to retaliate

Here is the winning video

[Feed readers can click through to the post for the video]

Here is the conspiracy video claim

[Feed readers can click through to the post for the video]

So what are the takeaways for marketers looking to run a program? There is plenty to learn lest you wind up in the New York Times. Here are a few major points.

  • If you want total control over your advertising, hire an agency and RUN away from this space. (You, however, will still not escape social media.)
  • Transparency is paramount. Lay it all out there.
  • Set very clear rules and regulations and do not deviate from them.
  • If you are asking people to spend lots of time creating videos and asking people to vote, listen to the voters!
  • If you are going to decide on a winner yourself don't ask for a vote (why waste my time if you're not going to listen?)
  • If you do pick a winner in private, why not video tape the discussion and post it? Are you hiding something? People will think you are.
  • Create a timeline, stick to it and announce everything at once not in pieces.
  • Be honset and keep the mood positive. Any deviation from these items can cause a backlash and turn a fan into a frenemy.

These are vital points to consider when creating a user generated ad program (applies to other content as well). There is very high risk/reward here. Executed perfectly, you still may not get the result you are looking for. Executed wrong, you may not be able to recover your reputation and trust. Trust is crucial in social media.

What other tips do you have for executing a contest like this?


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What the iPhone means for marketers

iphone.jpgLove or hate Apple, the creation of the iPhone signals a wave of change in mobile handsets for the US. It's important for us as marketers to identify what the major changes are and determine how we need to respond.

Here is my overview of what is different, why you need to know it and what you can do about it right now to make sure you're ready.


    Web on phone will be fully functioning. One of the main challenges to any marketer trying to launch content on a mobile platform is the physical constraint that the technology puts on you. No Flash, No DHTML, No XML/XSLT, etc. Basically, you have to think back to what the web was like in 1999 and program for that. Screen widths had to be planned for the lowest common denominator at around 240 pixels (very small) and interactivity is at a minimum.

    The iPhone delivers web content as you see it on your laptop. You can see the whole page, zoom in, click through links, listen to audio, see Flash video and do most anything else you can on the laptop. For average marketers, this is great. You won't have to reformat anything and you can be mobile. Smart marketers know that people on a mobile device will still look at content differently and there are tons of opportunities to reach people who are on the go. Advertising should change to be mobile-focused, content on mobile could be shortened or even provide niche content for mobile users. The possibilities are limitless. Opera has a new mobile browser that works similarly to the iPhone for all the rest of us.

    wifi.gifBandwidth. Even though the iPhone isn't available on at&t's 3G network, mobile bandwidth speeds are starting to catch up with land lines. I commonly use my phone as a modem to connect to the web and it's not completely unbearable. With some time you'll start seeing Wimax (wifi over cellular networks) and better speeds using the existing data networks. This shift is allowing the start of the move to multimedia on the mobile web. Look for more video and audio hooks in mobile web content very soon. iPhone also ships with WiFi support so the bandwidth is only limited by the hotspot connection you have.

    iTunes.jpgIntegration with digital life. The iPhone is the ultimate hook into the digital life because it allows for direct, quality integration with iTunes. People will stop carrying an iPod and phone and their music and video content will be with them all the time. Subscribing to a podcast can be done from the handset and downloads will be simplified with the iPhone. Once you download a music file it will sync with iTunes and you'll be able to listen on your desktop. Photos have the same integration and the iPhone's built in camera will allow for instant capture and upload wherever there is a connection. The phonerazzi are coming!

    More powerful OS. Many of the mobile operating systems to date have been lower end processors built to save batter life, make calls and manage contacts. The iPhone brings a fully functioning operating system to a mobile device. Applications will be built for the device that can be used inside OSX for people with Apple computers.

    youtube_logo.jpgHooks into social networks. Many hooks into social networks will bring those networks right to the phone. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. will all be available within a couple taps of the finger. Integration with YouTube will be the first major network with built-in access. You won't need to go through the browser for this, it'll be a link on the home screen.

    dash.gifWidgets to go. Widgets can be built on top of the OS just like Apple's Dashboard product. This means that you can deliver your content through a widget while the person is away from their computer. How would you change your content if you knew the person was mobile? [Hint, you should.]

    Web2.0 ready. The iPhone and Safari browser will support Web2.0 standards and will allow for a more seamless experience. Look for Google's Web2.0-rich product line to have direct connections in the future to make the experience seamless (calendar, mail, reader, docs, spreadsheets and other productivity tools).

    Motion sensors. What could you do with a device that detects when it is a) vertical or horizontal and b) when it is close to something? I've seen some pretty cool things built on laptops with this sensor technology. I'm sure the iSaber will be out of the box VERY quickly.

The iPhone brings us closer to the point where there is a full, powerful computer in the palm of our hands. You can expect MANY more phones to go down this path. Everything from the power/integration with media to the touch sensor to the look and feel will be copied. Other phones are already well down this path (look at the Nokia N95 or most recent Blackberry products).

The possibilities with mobile are endless as more and more of these high power devices are going to come out at more affordable price points. Once the price shift happens, the transition from mobile being the third screen to the second screen may legitimately occur. Marketers everywhere need to be ready for this.

UPDATE: The first line has already begun to form at the Apple flagship store in NYC. That's crazy!

UPDATE: Apple has a great intro video available on their site which I forgot to include when I posted this. Here is the YouTube copy.


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Buzz Friday for June 22, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion.

[Note: The audio this week should be noticeably better for you. Let me know if anybody has trouble hearing it.]


Feed readers can see the video here.

Here are all of the items that I think are interesting this week:


  • One week until iPhone drops. Prepare for the madness and get in line now.
  • YouTube will launch on the iPhone. Like to see their data plan rates before I get too excited about this one.
  • Yahoo had a leadership change this week as they keep falling further behind Google. Will it help?
  • I love this post from Seth Godin. He shifts our thinking of most people about blogging. What if you had just one post, but refined it until you were the expert on your subject?
  • Microsoft is paying attention to social media. A Zune fan got two tattoos promoting the device and MS is having him out to Redmond to meet the Zune team. Nice job MS.


  • Pier 1 is dropping e-commerce from its site to turn it into a corporate marketing piece. WHAT?! They were doing around $18.9 million, but managed to lose money. Sounds like bad implementation to me.
  • Steve Rubel has a great piece about the future of PR. It's participating, not pitching.
  • Mark Goren has a great post about what we make. The video he uses is a must see if you are or know of a teacher of anything.
  • Cool things always happen in London. Here are a couple of shopping examples. Ralph Lauren has a touch-sensitive window and the music group The Chemical Brothers took over a storefront to promote a new album.
  • More Yahoo rumors in the wake of the CEO switch. Will they buy Bebo? Somebody will and the other major viable option seems to be cost-prohibitive.
  • Want to know how big YouTube is getting? They're about to pass the BBC in visits in the UK. That's huge!
  • crayon is hosting a virtual branding summit in Second Life. Check out this post if you are interested.
  • Person-to-person lending is taking off as the user base of sites like MySpace and Facebook grow. Prosper and Lending Club are getting investment dollars and having some success.
  • Vodaphone created a media roadblock the other day in the UK as it took over web, cable, satellite and terrestrial channels to run their ad. That had to cost a pretty penny.
  • Patrick at Lonely Marketer has a great look at what analytics you should be looking at and why. This is a great post as it clarifies what you need to know.
  • Ning lets you embed a social network in another social network. There is lots of potential here and you can expect to see this happen more and more.

Quick look at iPhone blog buzz

iPhone has taken over the buzz from most other mobile devices. Here is a graph tracking blog mentions between iPhone, Razr and Blackberry.
iphonebuzz.png

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. youtube
  2. ron paul
  3. myspace
  4. noelia
  5. dailymotion
  6. bebo
  7. iphone
  8. paris hilton
  9. facebook
  10. videos

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Kaboodle
  2. Fotolia
  3. Wikia
  4. Snap
  5. CrazyEgg

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden - No changes this week


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Duct Tape Marketing
  6. Daily Fix
  7. Converstations
  8. Drew's Marketing Minute
  9. The Viral Garden
  10. Jaffe Juice

View the top full top 25

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Todd And - New to Buzz Friday


  1. Seth Godin
  2. tompeters!
  3. Micro Persuasion
  4. Online Marketing Blog
  5. Adrants
  6. Pronet Advertising
  7. SEOMoz Blog
  8. Duct Tape Marketing
  9. Marketing Pilgrim
  10. adgoodness

View the full list here

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Paul singing opera
  2. Prometeus - the media revolution
  3. Britain's got talent - Conny
  4. Microsoft surface parody
  5. Dramatic look

More


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Ads I love: Sony Bravia

Picture 7.pngEvery day I am advertised to and rarely do they make me want to rush out to purchase the product. I'm going to start this feature to talk about the ads that do break through to me and why I like them. This is not limited to TV, but my first ad is from TV.

The funny thing about the Sony Bravia ad is that I loved it so much I did a search for the product after buying it, sought out the music straight away and keep a high-resolution version on my iPod (they even have a live performance of him playing it). It is interesting that this ad didn't run in the US, but I found it through the site they created for it and the buzz it created. This integrated approach was brilliant and kept me engaged with complementary content.

How cool would it be to throw millions of bouncy balls down the hills of San Francisco? Here it is. Enjoy. (Kudos to Fallon London for creating it.)

What I love. I love the music and the cinemetography on this ad. You can see the making of videos here. They followed this up with a high-production value paint video, but it didn't have the same emotional connection for me. The bouncy ball ad connects with me every single time I see it. That's a great ad in my book.


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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

Picture 6.pngOr, in the case of social media, parody is the sincerest form of flattery. The most buzz-worthy companies and products are all on the receiving end of parodies via the internet. It could be an audio clip, video clip or fake website. Some companies try to stop this practice, but I say encourage it!

You heard me right. Companies should make their content social media, parody-friendly. A great example of this (whether intended or not) is the Apple v. PC ads. Just take a look at the search results on YouTube to see what I mean. Out of the first 20 results, 15 are parodies. Some are pro-Mac, some are anti-Mac. Some are promoting religion, gaming or online dating. Everybody is talking though and everybody knows it started with Apple.

Here is one of the many Apple parody videos:


Feed readers click here.

CK pointed out this quote in her piece about pardody by Jeff Hicks, CEO of Crispin Porter + Bogusky in an issue of Business2.0:

"The brands that are adopted, blogged about, and parodied the most are the ones that are going to win because they're involved in the evolution of pop culture." (Think subservient chicken, one of CP+B's campaigns.)

What makes the commercials so good from a parody perspective is they are simply done. You can recreate it in your basement. It's shot on a white background using music that is easily reproducible. The characters are so ingrained in our minds through the Apple ads that you know who you should root for by the side of the screen they're standing on. You also know which one is cool and which is not. Everything in the ad is easy to copy and apply to other products or services.

I am not saying you have to make your ad low-end or that you should copy Apple. What I am saying is that you should make it very easy for people to parody you. You could provide your creative in downloadable MPG files and let people create their own. You could give them a link to the audio track and the font you use. What could you do to let people jump start the buzz? Encouraging people to do this can be a very powerful way to get their creativity going while increasing awareness of your brand.

Here is another example. Microsoft Surface is a cool new way of interacting with physical content. The creator of this clip used Microsoft's video with their own sarcastic dialog. MS could take this as offensive, but why? People are talking. The people who will buy this device will still buy it and others will be exposed to the product.

Feed readers click here.

If you are saying to yourself "That's absurd, I don't want people copying me" then you are missing the point/boat. People talk about you anyway. They chat around the proverbial water cooler (do we really do this anymore or is it the coffee machine?). They email their friends and say the same thing. Why not let them do it and have some brand recognition and fun in the process? If you're aware of what is happening and engage with people, you can find out why your detractors don't like and possibly improve your product/experience and you can ignite the passions of the people that do love you.

Anybody who creates content around your brand is clearly passionate. More to the point, people are going to do it anyway. Why not help them out? The old PR saying goes "there is no such thing as bad publicity" and the same is true on the Internet. There is no such thing as bad user generated content.

What could you do today to let your customers get closer to you to create content (sites, video, audio) that endorses you or shows their passion for you (either way)? Are you strong enough to listen to them? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.


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Caught in a meme cross-fire

thinkingblogger2ql6_2.jpgBoy oh boy was I delighted to be nominated for the Thinking Blogger Award by two bloggers I highly respect. Mark Goren and David Reich both nominated this blog (memes are hard to track). First off, if you have not read their blogs you need to. These guys not only get it, but they are both great marketing storytellers.

The origin of this award goes back to Ilka Yoldas' "Five blogs that make me think" post. Since then it's criss-crossed the web and finally landed here.

To hold up my part of the bargain, here are five blogs that make me think every day. (Note that I may catch somebody here in the cross-fire as well.)

  • David Arnamo - Logic + Emotion - David has quickly risen to blog stardom through excellent writing and thinking. His use of diagrams and illustrations make difficult concepts easy to understand.
  • Iain Tait - CrackUnit - I've mentioned Iain before, but I really love how he writes and how he tells the story.
  • David Berkowitz - Inside the Marketing Studio - David writes an amazing blog and has a unique take on the search industry and how it impacts marketing.
  • Becky Carroll - Customers Rock! - Becky's posts are always engaging and informative. She's a must read for marketing folks.
  • Paul McEnany - HeeHaw Marketing - Paul has a very authentic voice and he tells it how it is. If you're looking for somebody nods along with the same-old-same-old this blog is not for you.

Those are my five. There are many other blogs that I follow that make me think, but as far as I can tell they've been nominated before. Check em out.


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Second Life for marketers

SL logo.gifAny time I bring up Second Life when I am speaking or talking to clients I get this look like "What the hell are you smoking dude?". Do you know the look I am talking about? Well, this blog along with video are perfect to show you what Second Life is and what some of the do's and don'ts are.

Basically, Second Life is a virtual world enhabited by the avatar version of each community members. Avatars can ber completely customized to look like you or to look like a supermodel. It's up to you. The power of the medium comes from the level of personal interaction you can have with the population. Everything in Second Life has the ability to be connected to a web page, so if you want somebody to purchase something you can link them right to that page in the shopping cart.

Check out the video:


(I geeked out a bit at the end, but you can always tell a Bruckheimer movie/show if there is a spinning helicopter shot.)

DO


  • Think before you enter this space and do your research
  • Start small and build up as you learn
  • Keep the momentum moving, don't let it stagnate
  • Engage the community
  • ALWAYS provide value! Ask yourself "does this provide value" and if it does not, scrap it
  • Build something remarkable
  • Remember you are in a virtual world, create something that you couldn't do in the real world
  • Keep in mind this is ONE channel for your marketing message not THE channel
  • Use video, audio and links to the web for content integration
  • Engage, engage, engage. You will learn more by listening than anything else and you have to be there to do that

DON'T


  • Pump all of your marketing efforts here, this is just one channel
  • Jump in without looking
  • Start with a massive build
  • Abandon your area once built, have it staffed during certain hours (nothing is worse to a user than seeing a ghost town)
  • Put yourself before the users
  • Forget this is a community, it is people powered and they can make or break you
  • Lose control of your brand and message. This different and think smart
  • Forget video and audio to complete the experience to the user

SL_coke_001.jpg

Special thanks to Doug Meacham for walking me through his Second Life adventure and to Greg Verdino who has served as a guiding light for any marketer looking to enter this community. You guys rock!

One thing that Doug and I discussed is how in a couple of years you can expect more and more shopping to happen through virtual mall experiences where you can walk in to a store, try on clothing and buy it on the spot. Your avatar will have your measurements and clothing can be tailored to your build.

The low end of engagement with Second Life is about 30 minutes per session. What other way can you actively communicate with your customers one-to-one for 30 minutes? Let me know your feedback on this. The population is a little geeky and certainly early adopters, but it can be a powerful tool if you use it right.

More resources:

[Update: CC Chapman has a really great review of the new voice feature in Second Life. Check it out.]


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Time to wake up marketers; move beyond banner ads

I was surfing around this morning and did a search for Omnicom's Cutwater agency (creators of the new RayBan commercials). I followed the link through to a nice story on AdWeek.

I hadn't checked out the AdWeek site for a while so I clicked through the home page and saw a surround ad campaign for Discovery Channel. The surround features three independent ads of different sizes all working together. This particular one was a clever play on the Discover Channel show Deadliest Catch where Alaskan fishermen risk their lives in the Bering Sea (yes I do watch this show, it's addictive).

What caught my eye, however, was the image the page was using as a background. I almost clicked away, then I said to myself, "Holy crap, they actually tiled the client logo as a background". This Web -2.0 tactic (yes, negative 2.0) is oh so very 1995. I know because I did it in 1995 when it was cool. Most importantly, it adds zero benefit to the campaign.

Picture 3.png

So anyway, here you have this (mostly) well thought out ad campaign in the right place for the audience and it's all thrown out the window with this ill-advised mistake. What would you say if you were Discovery and you saw this? Would you be impressed to see your logo tiled as a background or would you be upset that it looks completely amateur?

Now, I am not one to propose a problem without a solution so here are a couple options that the agency who created this could have proposed to add some real value to the campaign and still stay in the same parameters of the medium.

The series Deadliest Catch is all about the challenges of the sea. It follows a few fishing crews in Alaska and shows just how dangerous their job is. The sea (and the weather in general) is almost a character in their story. They fight storms and the sky is always ominous. So in a couple of minutes I went to iStockphoto and pulled an image of a threatening sky. Now imagine this image as the background. It sets the mood right?

storm_sky_narrow.jpg

Similary, I went to Discovery.com and visited the show's page there. A number of wallpaper files are available for download. So why not pick one of those images like you see below? They're accessible, dynamic, tied into the show and also set the mood.

farwest_1024.jpg

If you were creating an ad for the print version of AdWeek would you tile your client's logo to take up the white space? Absolutely not! My point is, when you're creating online ad campaigns, ask yourself what you can do to make each implementation unique and help move through the clutter. How can you use the medium to convey the message and engage the audience for that brief exposure? Well thought out online ads go beyond the IAB standards and use the full inventory to tell one congruent story and, in the end, engage more potential customers.

I see shockingly few really good online campaigns. The medium is limitless so why are people still applying traditional thinking? Here is a litmus test. If you can send your online ads to a magazine and have them run as is, you need to SERIOUSLY re-think what you're doing online. Reach out, engage, tell a story and give people a reason to click.


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Buzz Friday for June 15, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion. (Would anybody be interested in seeing this become a video podcast feed?)



Feed readers can see the video here.

Here are all of the items I think are interesting this week:


  • Apple iPhone comes out next week and demand is expected to be high. If you're looking for one, you better be ready to camp out.
  • Apple also had their WWDC conference this week where Jobs gave a keynote. Most notably out of that came Apple's Safari for the PC. Exploits ensued, but I sense a need for the browser for iPhone integration. We'll see. 1 million people have already downloaded it.
  • Second Life's voice integration is expected soon where people can chat with each other through micropohones. This will greatly enhance the level of interactivity.
  • Boston launched a SMS crime stoppers hotline. People can send a message to their shortcode from their phones when 911 is too hard to dial. Good idea though.
  • Google was going to hold a competing social get together for eBay merchants during eBay's big conference to try to lure people to Google's Checkout. eBay threatened to pull all of their keyword advertising on Google and the event was cancelled. Ah the strongarm.
  • Flickr in the news twice. They launched the service in seven languages first. Second they have had more complaints of photo censorship. Read more about that here.
  • Looking for tips on public speaking? See this marvelous post by Guy Kawasaki for some hints.
  • Jason Calacanis' Mahalo human-powered search engine launched Greenhouse. The service offers to pay people to find and submit content.
  • YouTube has a new look in beta that offers new layouts and larger video windows. Google account integration coming soon too.
  • Do you ever think you feel your phone vibrate and it's not ringing? It's called phantom ring syndrome and it's real.
  • Bebo is integrating iTunes into accounts so you can go to a band's site and buy on the spot. Look for a LOT more of this to come soon.
  • Another move toward Google Office. Gmail now offers integrated PowerPoint viewing.
  • Can blogging work as a marketing tool? Heck yes it can. Just ask Lewis Green.
  • Mack Collier covers Sony's launch of their Playstation blog.
  • Branding Wire has launched. Check out their first branding challenge here.
  • Google blogger Matt Cutts responds to Privacy International's claims that Google isn't doing enought to keep information private.
  • If you disagreed with Seth Godin, would you say something? I hope you would. Check out Drew's blog for a great discussion about this. I think too many people use Seth and Guy as traffic building tools tracking back to them with irrelevant mentions and links. Discussion about an idea is good, but tracking back to every post is just dumb.

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. authority
  2. ron paul
  3. education
  4. myspace
  5. bicycling
  6. bebo
  7. youtube
  8. flickr
  9. angelina jolie
  10. dell

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Bolt
  2. Ning
  3. Kaboodle
  4. Zaadz
  5. Plaxo

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Duct Tape Marketing
  6. Daily Fix
  7. Converstations
  8. Drew's Marketing Minute
  9. The Viral Garden
  10. Jaffe Juice

Note that this list is now running off of Technorati rankings and not Alexa.
View the top full top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Sarkozy au G8
  2. Paul singing opera **Please watch this clip**
  3. Britain's got talent - Conny
  4. Paris in Jail: The music video
  5. Japanese TV Tetris game

More


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A tale of two expectations

One of the most important things a company can do for current and potential customers is set great expectations and then deliver on them. Expectation levels are driven in a couple of ways. Word-of-mouth from other customers (bad and good), social media (blogs, podcasts, reviews, ratings) and prior personal interactions.

I want to tell you a couple of stories about two notable companies who I recently dealt with and how they, in one case exceeded and in another disappointed my expectations.

wholefoods.jpgWhole Foods is a nationally known, high-end, organic grocery store. In Cleveland, where I live, we have a shortage of great grocers. We have some good ones, but I've seen the greats. Wegman's is phenomenal and Central Market in Texas is also outstanding. Both of those chains have personal attention, awesome store setups, great prepared foods and everything else you need to get in and go home.

I was really stoked a year or so ago when Whole Foods started building a new store a couple of miles away from my house. I'd heard tons of praise heaped on them. Great stores, best revenue per foot of shelf space, yada yada yada. Well, let me tell you that my expectations were through the freaking roof. When that store opened I half expected Jesus himself to be pushing a cart down the aisle (I'm only half kidding). I had already prepared a model of the store based on my past experiences at great grocers.

grocery_shop.jpgOpening day came and my wife and I fought the HUGE crowd. We started in produce. Produce looked great, lots of selection, nice colors and just a little more pricey than my local options. As me moved on, however, I became at first irritated and then enraged. Not only do they mostly stock mostly "indi" products that cost 2-3 times what they should, but they don't stock everything you need. The store here is very small, the aisles are crowded, there is nobody around to help you out and the prepared foods area was a disaster.

I thought, ok...this is opening day, I'll wait a month. I waited a month and went on a weekday. Same issues. Poor selection, lots of things out of stock, messy displays, lack of help, prepared foods a mess. Then once I left I had to go to another place to finish my list. *sigh*

So, when people ask me about Whole Foods now, I tell them about my experience and send them to a, in my opinion, better grocer that still carries the indi stuff as well as the organic, but who has everything else too. Where are the expectations now? In the basement, possibly even below that. I may never give them a chance for my business again.


nordstrom_logo.gifMy other experience was quite the opposite. A couple of weeks ago friends of ours got married in a small town outside Columbus, Ohio. As we were driving to Columbus on Thursday night my wife turned and asked me, "So what are you wearing to the rehearsal dinner tomorrow?". I said, "The usual, nice jeans, buttondown shirt and a jacket." Well...you would have thought I said I was going naked. "You can't wear that, people will be in suits!" she said (mind you there was somebody in shorts and my outfit would have looked very nice).

Needless to say on Friday morning I was driving to Columbus to try to get a nice dress outfit for that night's dinner. If you were in the same situation where would you go? Immediately Nordstrom came to mind. I've heard the stories about gift wrapping, taking returns that people bought other places and I've had good personal interactions there before.

iStock_000002574851XSmall.jpgI walked into the men's section and was greeted by three sales clerks. I told them my problem and they leapt into action. One started pulling pants for me to try and the others began pulling shirts. I told them my timeframe and my concern that everything they sell needs to be hemmed. "No problem, I'll call the tailor now" he said. I found the pants I liked and the tailor was there before I left the dressing room. She measured me and told me "I'll have this back in half-an-hour." I was amazed. Usually places make you come back DAYS later and here she said 30 minutes.

I went back to the floor and picked the shirt I wanted and he told me to check back in about 20 minutes. I walked around the mall for 20 and when I returned the shirt and pants were in a garment bag, both pressed out and ready to go. That's what I call service. I got a lot of compliments that night on my ensemble and I owe it to the Nordies. There is even a book about Norstrom's customer service.

Here are a couple of takeaways. Setting high expectations is great, but you better be able to back them up. One single bad experience can lead to a single lost sale. Multiple bad experiences can lead to exponential lost sales. The power of social media, like this blog, is being able to publish opinion quickly. So quickly, in fact, that companies who are not constantly monitoring the space can be done in. Here is what is already being said about each company in blogs, Nordstrom | Whole Foods.

How do you as a company make sure that your experience is at or above your customer's expectations? This applies to the web as well. Is your web experience in line with your offline?


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What's your ROL?

heart.jpgPersonally I am passionate about marketing and, similarly, I think great marketing is about passion. Every time people talk about measuring to gauge ROI on every little thing, a little voice inside my head says "what about love?" What's the return on love?

Marketing done right IS about love. Loving customers and treating them with respect, adding value to their lives and instilling passion in their souls. If that happens, they will love you back. How do you measure this? It depends on what your definition is.

In the age of consumer generated content, love is easily expressed (so is the opposite). I've been asked many times, "Why would ANYBODY actually create something about a company?". The reason is love. Why do people create fake product ads? Why do people parody ads? They're driven by an internal passion to make the brand part of their lives and express how it impacts them.

One company who gets half of this equation is Apple. They're on the receiving end of a lot of love, but rarely give it. This is the biggest gripe I have with Apple in particular. They have all of these fans that love them, create ads, stand in line for hours to buy their products and yet the company doesn't engage with them online. A topic for another day.

I was reminded about this when I was online looking for a microphone attachment for my iPod. I went to Amazon and read the reviews, but it didn't give me enough information about what I need it for. So, I went to Google. In one search and one click I found a review by a person using the exact model I want and he loves it. He tells of situations like the ones I need it for where it worked great.

The company here is not engaged in the conversation, there are no testimonials on their site showing the product in use, I had to find it on my own. Had I found somebody with a bad experience I could have swayed the other direction.

Social media allows many forms of love to be expressed. Blog entries, word-of-mouth, buzz monitoring, email forwards, message board threads, photo sharing, video sharing, etc. Each opinion and statement of love has the potential to reach new consumers and influence others. Most of these can be measured.

So how do you measure ROL? Is it page views, pass-alongs, impressions, number of parodies, etc., or is it immeasurable? Marketers usually think you can measure everything, but can you? Let me know what you think.


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Why is Ask.com selling the drill bit?

ask-logo-13518.gifOne of the earliest bits of marketing knowledge that was imparted to me was the lesson of the drillbit. The saying is along the lines of "people don't buy a 1/4 inch drill bit, they buy a 1/4 inch hole". The focus on the end result and the benefit over the feature has stuck with me over time.

When I started seeing the new ad campaign for Ask.com, this lesson came flying back into my mind. The ads are mostly unbranded placements that focus on their algorithm. My immediate thought was "I bet Google is doing this", not good for Ask. Secondly I thought "who cares about the algorithm?". If you have not seen the messages, here are a couple pulled off of Flickr:


Photo by johntrainor

Photo by stan

Photo by mil8

Photo by mlinksva

Here is a TV ad in the same campaign:

Feed readers click here.

If you are not a computer scientist or an engineer at a search company, why should you care about the algorithm? I don't think most Americans know what an algorithm is, much less how it benefits them.

I don't envy the position Ask is in. They are a smaller player in an industry with a LOT of very well funded competition. This campaign, however, is not helping their cause. Selling the algorithm is the equivalent of selling the drillbit. What I'm really after are better search results. That's the hole they should be selling. That's the need I have that needs to be filled and is currently filled well by Google. Tell me how you do that in plain English and I may listen.

Their new TV campaign does have more focus on the benefit even if the over-the-top, broadway-esque production detracts from the message. He got what he was looking for. They need to expand on this point with new ads that reach more people.

Feed readers click here.

Search is a game that extends well beyond the browser. I interact with my search engine of choice from my global search on my desktop, from the toolbar on Firefox, from my OSX dashboard widget and they touch my life in many other ways too. Ask needs to tell me why I should make those moves and dislodge my current option. Their new 3D search is a start, but it's not really much different than what Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are doing. The results seem about the same too.

My question is why should I switch? I asked, now I'll wait for the answer. What would make you switch? Are they doing enough with these ads to make you try them out?


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links for 2007-06-12

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Commercial worthy?

travelsafely.pngJust one of the many significant opportunities I have developed because of this blog is writing for The Madison Avenue Journal (TMAJ). TMAJ is a collection of new thinking about advertising and marketing through the eyes of some of the most innovative marketers around. If you have not checked it out, please do.

Most recently, I have become an editor for TMAJ's Commercial Worthy series. This is right in my sweet spot because it combines social media with new marketing and advertising thinking. The user-generated clips that are suggested through my posts will all come from social media sites and will focus each clip on a company who could potentially leverage it in advertising.

First up, "A (Safe) Passage to India". Head over there and vote if you think this is, or is not, commercial worthy.

Here are a couple of my past articles on TMAJ:


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Buzz Friday for June 8, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

I am refining this post over time, so if there is anything you would like me to add just email me or leave a comment. Similarly, if you have something you think is Buzz Friday worthy let me know and I'll look it over for inclusion. (Would anybody be interested in seeing this become a video podcast feed?)



Feed readers can see the video here.

Here are all of the items I think are interesting this week:


  • Book Club @ MarketingProfs kicks off their new book next week with Made to Stick by the Heath brothers Dan and Chip. This is one of my top all-time favorite business books. If you're interested and want to get in on the action, head on over there and sign up.
  • The hype surrounding the iPhone is reaching deafening levels now. Apple has an estimated 3 million units ready to ship and there is still a shortage projected. The big question for me is the Apple touch screen as an input device. I think there could be a major potential problem there.
  • Steve Woodruff of StickyFigure has launched a new blog called BrandingWire. A group of 12 experts will discuss branding in the age of technology and provide valuable insights to marketers everywhere.
  • Facebook apps are launching quickly on the new F8 platform. Properties include Flickr, Digg and Google Reader.
  • Facebook is picking up steam big time and Yahoo is rumored to be in talks for an estimated $2 billion.
  • Jeremiah Owyang has some great tips on measuring a social media program.
  • David Armano had a great diagram titled the 'Experience Map'. Check out his update and note the three learning points at the bottom. Great summary.
  • Coke and NBC are both capitalizing on Second Life to promote musicians by offering virtual concerts. SL is a great way to let people get close and build an experience around them.
  • Jackie Huba at Church of the Customer Blog has a great summary post on what a customer complaint can become in social media if not addressed.
  • Google Maps is becoming even more robust by adding public transit information in to the service.
  • Feedburner officially announced their acquisition by Google. I'm looking forward to getting my feed stats in the same location as my site stats. Lots of potential here for ad revenue in RSS feeds via Feedburner.
  • Guy Kawasaki's newest venture, Truemors, has received mixed review. Despite what you think of the site, he has proven what I've said for a long time. Technology allows people to built rapid concepts, launch them and tweak over time easier than ever before. He launched the site for $12,107.09.
  • Mario Sundar looks at how Facebook's new polling feature could be used for market research.
  • Bebo, one of Europes hottest social networks, recently launched a new look. It seems they're taking a mixed model approach to this and hovering between MySpace and Facebook.
  • If you use, or are looking at e-coupons for your company, check out this option to see what the future may hold.
  • Two takes on brainstorming. Pro and Con. Which do you agree with?

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. youtube
  2. ron paul
  3. myspace
  4. paris hilton
  5. galilea montijo
  6. bebo
  7. facebook
  8. nextstudent
  9. akon
  10. dailymotion

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. 9Rules Network
  2. Etsy
  3. Feedster
  4. V Social
  5. Ze Frank

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Daily Fix
  6. Converstations
  7. Drew's Marketing Minute
  8. The Viral Garden
  9. Jaffe Juice
  10. Duct Tape Marketing

Note that this list is now running off of Technorati rankings and not Alexa.
View the top full top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Women in art
  2. Sarah Silverman blasts Paris Hilton
  3. Battle at Kruger
  4. The Zimmers "My Generation"
  5. iPhone ad

More


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links for 2007-06-08

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What's your video strategy?

If you need to know the way the average American consumer is going, just head to your local retailer. I often go for a stroll through Target or Best Buy to see what companies are stocking to give access to the mainstream. On one such stroll through Best Buy I came across the Flip video camera. Check it out.


If you can't see the video in the feed, you can see it here.

As I stated in the video, this is truly revolutionary. The camera is at a reasonable price point, it completely idiot proof and allows video to be up online in a couple of clicks. The camera is light and super portable plus is runs on AA batteries so it can go for the full 30 minute recording time. People can download the video, delete it from the device and keep on going.

The move of video from a luxury to a commodity has a huge impact on marketers. Here are a couple of scenarios:

    99cam.jpgBe aware of it. More customers will be recording their interaction with you from taping the receiving end of a customer service call to in-store service. Customers will also be able to record personal statements and recommendations. Can you leverage these? Do you know how to find them? If you do find them how will you respond? You can engage people who take the time to create content about you to get a real feel for your end user and look for possible brand evangelists. As always it takes a light touch and a supportive attitude.

    Encourage it. Since you know people will be producing video content, why not encourage it? Have video contests, ask them to create short films or reply to videos you produce with their own video feedback. Take the flatness of a blog and enrich it with video.

    Enable it. These cameras are cheap. Could you allow people to win one in a contest or provide them from a sponsor for X number of people. They're lightweight and ready to shoot right out of the box. Could you arm citizen journalists with this technology? Could you arm your kids, employees or students? What amazing content could be created using video that cannot be translated with the same passion in any other format?

The possibilities are endless. How will you respond to this knowledge? How could you enable your advocates to use video? What other situations do you have where video content would enhance your connection with your customers and their connection with you? Let me hear your ideas!

[Update: Thanks to Phil Gerbyshak for prompting me to post a link to buy one of these. Here it is on Amazon]


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