July 31, 2005
At Skype, simple is beautiful
After reading Bob Cringley's article about Skype being "almost" bought for $3 billion, I had to find out more. So the obvious place to start was Skype Journal. There I found a link to the blog of Vincent Oberle which contained a fascinating glimpse into life at Skype, posted after his second week on the job (here) . Vincent talks about his delight in working for a company that understands how to empower its creative minds by providing them with the "right tools." This excerpt from his post was most revealing: "Strangely too, there are no names of shared drives to remember in order to find documents. Project management files, functional specifications, etc, just everything is on the company wiki, and it cannot get any simpler. Everybody uses the wiki, and is happy with it. The information there is up-to-date for most of it. Nobody has outdated specifications on his laptop. Mac and Linux users aren’t excluded. And everybody knows what a wiki is…"
Vincent reminds us that simple is beautiful when he says, " I could go on about many great things[at Skype], but let’s just mention the pleasure it is to use the right tools. You know, the simple tools that get the job done, that make you a little bit more productive instead of shamefully slowing you down. One the main quality of Skype (the product) is its simplicity and this applies also in the tools we use daily."
Is Skype For Sale?
Tell me it isn't so! But it definitely appears that Skype is "in play" to be bought. At least that is the word from Bob Cringely in his latest post at i,cringely According to him, Skype was "almost" sold last week to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for $3 billion. Not clear why the deal did not go thru, although Cringely suggests that Murdoch wasn't really serious about buying Skype but wanted to get a look at their books for a free education about the VoIP business.
Cringely also thinks that the $3 billion price tag is a pretty good deal. Think of it this way: If 20 million of Skype's total installed based of 140 million are active users, then the market value of a Skype customer is around $150. While that may seem like a lot of money, it is around 10 percent of the imputed value of a traditional telephone, mobile telephone, or cable television customer. So from which of these three categories is the next Skype suitor likely to emerge? For now, I'll go along with Cringely and bet on a mobile carrier with no fixed telephone assets. In fact, I'll put my money on Vodaphone.
links for 2005-07-31
What to do when in crisis mode - with case studies
July 30, 2005
Bad Google listings last for a long time
Try typing in Miserable Failure in Google. See what is still up there? Almost two years after bloggers started putting links with miserable failure linking to the Bush resume.
Many companies still do not realize how long lasting damage can be...the key is to listen and to respond fast in times of crisis. For a great overview of what to do and what not to do in times of crisis, wonder over to Naked Conversations and read chapter 13 - blogging in a crisis!
We are the web
Kevin Kelly has a great article over at Wired Magazine (here - thanks Julie for the pointer).
In the article, he analyzes the history of the web and extrapolates where this might lead us. Talking about the web as a giant machine that has been on continuously for the last 30 years, he says:
"In 10 years, the system will contain hundreds of millions of miles of fiber-optic neurons linking the billions of ant-smart chips embedded into manufactured products, buried in environmental sensors, staring out from satellite cameras, guiding cars, and saturating our world with enough complexity to begin to learn. We will live inside this thing.
Today the nascent Machine routes packets around disturbances in its lines; by 2015 it will anticipate disturbances and avoid them. It will have a robust immune system, weeding spam from its trunk lines, eliminating viruses and denial-of-service attacks the moment they are launched..."
He continues, predicting that we live in a time as momentous as when religion or science were born:
"There is only one time in the history of each planet when its inhabitants first wire up its innumerable parts to make one large Machine. Later that Machine may run faster, but there is only one time when it is born.
...Three thousand years from now, when keen minds review the past, I believe that our ancient time, here at the cusp of the third millennium, will be seen as another such era. In the years roughly coincidental with the Netscape IPO, humans began animating inert objects with tiny slivers of intelligence, connecting them into a global field, and linking their own minds into a single thing. This will be recognized as the largest, most complex, and most surprising event on the planet."
This reminds me of a great book I read many years ago - The Symbiotic Man - a must read if you are interested in this stuff.
July 29, 2005
A good reputation without screw-ups lasts a long time
I finally got around to reading last week's Business Week and ran across a survey - the top 20 Innovative Companies in the World (requires subscription) - which somehow surprised me.
The Boston Consulting Group basically polled 940 executives in 68 countries to establish the list.
I was not so much surprised about finding Apple in the top spot, but I was in finding 3M in second place and Google only in 8th place after Microsoft, GE, Sony, Dell and IBM.
I know 3M used to be a model for innovation - which was widely written about in various case studies. And I may be wrong in this, but what breakthrough innovation has come out of there since the post-it-notes? Are they truly still more innovative than Google is? Or are they still riding their excellent reputation wave which they built up many years ago?
I think it's the latter and I do believe there is a lesson to be learned here. As long as you don't screw up, you can benefit from a good reputation for a very long time.
Personal update - moving to Corante
I have alluded to it in an earlier post, but as some of you already know, I recently agreed to join Corante as a partner, investor and head of marketing and sales - a truly exciting move for me (here and here for more info).
So why a publishing company after being a product guy for so many years?
There are 3 main reasons for that.
For starters, Corante is not your typical publishing company. Instead of hiring writers and publishing content, we connect readers with experts. And in this day and age of scarce reader attention span and information overload, that is exactly what people are looking for.
Second, Corante is in the midst of the web 2.0 wave. And while some of the things we are working on are not yet visible, this opportunity is one where product and technology will play a prominent role.
Lastly, and especially as a marketer, I am excited about being at the other end of the table. After being on the buying side of advertising for many years, I think that we can do much better - and I am looking forward to testing different ways to help marketers reach their goals.
links for 2005-07-29
Great post on why you should not turn to celebrities for advice
RSS marketing reports from Forrester
July 28, 2005
Three reasons why good strategies fail...
Execution, execution, execution. The current issue of the on-line newsletter Knowledge @Wharton has a thought provoking article on why good strategies fail.
It is usually pretty obvious why bad strategies fail, but diagnosing what sinks good strategies is a little trickier. An example cited in the article is that execution of a strategy is often derailed because the focus of the strategy is allowed to shift over time. The attempt by Hewlett-Packard, after it acquired Compaq, to compete with Dell in PCs through scale is a classic example of goal-shifting -- competing on price one week, service the next, while trying to sell through often conflicting, high-cost channels. The result: CEO Carly Fiorina lost her job and HP still must resolve some key strategic issues.
The article's key premise is that the challenge of execution is synchronization--getting the various elements of an organization "in-sync" with one and other primarily through clear and consistent communication of a strategic objective, and not allowing the strategy to shift over time.
Teens and technology
Some of the findings include:
- almost 9 out of 10 teens use the Internet
- 51% go online every day
- half of the internet users have broadband connection (which btw is low when compared with countries like Korea)
- 76% get news online (and I guess the rest of their news from comedy shows)
- 13% do not use the Internet (yikes - that is 3M people!) - mostly because of lack of access to technology (again, we should take a lesson from Korea on this one)
- they prefer IM to email (through which they share photos, videos, music...not just text)
Top 10 things marketers should spend their time on (long post)
First, here are some of their assumptions:
- By 2007, marketers who spend 50% of their time on advanced, customer-centric marketing processes will achieve roi's that are at least 30% better than those that don't (this prediction has an 0.8 probability)
- By 2007, fewer that 20% of marketing organizations among Global 1000 enterprises will have evolved enough to leverage customer centric processes (also with an 0.8 probability)
The top ten processes are:
- Marketing operations management
- Marketing visibility, accountability and value measurement
- Customer and market insight generation
- Customer-value-based segmentation
- Portfolio and capacity-based resource allocation
- Product development and introduction
- Customer-needs-based trigger identification
- Orchestrated customization
- Orchestrated cross-channel dialogues
- Customer-value-based network management
This whole article triggered a few thoughts in my mind. The first is that I am surprised that not more companies are using customer-centric processes. We always were customer-centric and implemented a formal sales and marketing training program along those lines in 2000. I would have thought that by now, more that 20% of companies would be on that bandwagon – not 20% by 2007.
The second is that we can always thank analysts for their ability to turn everything into confusing "mumbo jumbo" (a.k.a., voodoo and fufu juice). Take the details they provide to the fifth item on the list for example - where they are basically saying that you should ensure that all "touch points" with customers (marketing, sales, service, shipping, etc.) should re-enforce the message that you are sending out in the marketplace: "This requires a systematic approach to understanding, developing and managing capabilities and resources, relative to a portfolio of value-based customer segments. The ultimate goal is optimal resource allocation, relative to the potential value that will be provided to each customer segment as well as the expected risks and returns that will be associated with doing so."
You could say, oh well, that’s how they are…
The problem with this is that I can just picture boards and executive teams, who do not always come from a marketing background, rushing to conclusions and pushing their marketing departments to extremes in terms of becoming more customer-centric. For a lot of companies, there is such a thing as being too customer-centric. If you are way ahead of the customer adoption curve in terms of inventing a new product space for example, it makes no sense to be too customer-centric in gathering your product requirements. You will just gather a lot of garbage and lose your competitive edge. Or what happens if you are a startup with small market penetration – when 80% of your future revenue has to come from people who are not yet customers. In that case you cannot tailor your programs to the existing customers just yet – they may not be a good proxy for the market as a whole!
All that being said, there are some good pointers in the report - like when they point out that: "Customers fundamentally view their relationships as being with enterprises, not with individual business units or interaction channels." Dead-on, I wish companies would listen to that!
So many web sites and support departments are product and division/productline centric - yet most customers could care less. Take the example when I recently bought a Canon camera for my dad's birthday when he was visiting me here in the US. The camera came with software that allowed for French menus, but it did not come with a French manual. So I contacted Canon, pointing to the fact that I am a big fan – with 7 Canon cameras bought in the past - including a few very high end cameras and lenses – to get a French manual and they told me to download it from their French canon.fr site. Problem is, that camera is not available in France, and the closest model sold there is very different - especially for an older person who is not totally familiar with everything digital. So finally I found the French manual on the Canadian site and ran through a whole cartridge of ink to print everything out for my dad.
Silos need to come down…that is not how customers buy and use your products!
links for 2005-07-28
The Dilbert automatic mission statement generator
Interesting interview with Craig Newmark - founder of Craigslist and potential funder of investigative journalism outlest
emergency response blog
July 27, 2005
The difference between blog aggregation and RSS search tools
Mary Hodder over at Napsterization has a great post on how the different blog aggregation and RSS search tools work.
One big surprise for me was how Technorati only counts links that are on the front page - so if a post with a link to your post scrolls down to the archives, the link count disappears.
Dave Sifry from Technorati comments about the pros and cons of doing that in the comment section.
Considering that in-links are a measure of a blog's reputation, and not of how interesting a blog is at any particular point in time, I am not sure that only counting home page links works.
July 26, 2005
[off topic]Prison system - punishment or rehab
Ok, I was in f2f meetings all day today, so not much time for blogging. But as I drove back from my last meeting I was listening to NPR interviewing the oldest female inmate in the US. She is 92 years old and was sentenced in 2003 to a 7 year prison term! For her that is the equivalent of a death sentence.
That got me thinking about the recent sentence of Bernie Ebbers - 25 years. For a guy his age, that is also a death sentence.
I know those people did wrong - and in some cases they hurt many people. But is that a good reason to give them a life sentence? Those people are not likely to hurt anybody again - and in some cases you could argue that some can still give something back to society.
Should our judicial system only seek punishment? Because that's what you do when you give out a life sentence. What happened to trying to rehabilitate people?
And how does that compare with giving child sex abusers less than 10years...or have some commit crimes after being in jail 5 times for the same thing?
I don't know, but somehow I do not feel good about the way our system works.
[Technorati Tags: sentencing]
links for 2005-07-26
background search engine that searches as you "work"
July 25, 2005
Look what happens to spammers in Russia
Yikes - after aggressively spamming for the American English centre, the New York English Centre and the Centre for Spoken English and after repeated counter-attacks involving hundreds of people against spam - Vardan Kushnir, the head of all those centers and notorious for sending spam to each and every citizen of Russia who appeared to have an e-mail, was found dead in his Moscow apartment on Sunday! (here)
[Technorati Tags: spam]
More research findings - this time from Pew
The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that:
"The average American internet user is not sure what podcasting is, what an RSS feed does, or what the term “phishing” means"(here - via marketing diva)
...another reminder that this is still an innovator/early adopter market and that much work remains to be done to get those technologies accepted by the mainstream market.
But if you are confused about how podcasting might help your business - do not forget to check out Podcast Hotel (disclosure: for which I am one of the organizers!)
New survey finds bloggers like money
links for 2005-07-25
Great post on the importance of trust in high-value transactions
similar update service to pingomatic
July 24, 2005
Not sure if funny or scary...
I am reading freakonomics - a fantastic book btw - and as part of that I also subscribe to Steven Levitt's blog by the same name.
Last week I read his almost-got-sent-to-guantanamo story and literally laughed out loud - only to be troubled later as I thought about the implications that such a scenario might have on a real good friend of mine.
Two weeks ago, as Steven was trying to get back to Chicago from Florida - his flight got delayed. He went and bought a one way ticket from another airline and off course, as those of you that travel know - that means an automatic in-depth search. Well as it turns out, Steven is currently studying terrorism, so his bag was filled with his research papers - including detailed profiles of the 9/11 activities etc. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by 4 TSA employees and when the boss arrived one of the screeners said ""He claims to be an economics professor who studies terrorism." He details the whole story in more detail - which is hilarious. At the end, they let him go and he breathes a sigh of relief for not being sent to Cuba.
But then I got thinking about a real good friend of mine who is not yet an American, but a permanent resident, and who is married to a middle eastern women. What if he were interested in studying the same topic (which would be good right - the more people studying this the better) and have his research papers surface in a similar search? Do you think he would get off the hook in 30 minutes, or whatever time it took Steven? Thinking about that scenario turned this whole story from a hilarious one to me to a rather scary one...
...but I hope I am wrong and that he would get off in 30 minutes as well. That would make for another funny story!
[Technorati Tags: freakonomics]
links for 2005-07-24
Interesting new metric for advertisers to measure results - engagement
interesting point of view on whether companies should take vc money
RSS for marketing communications
July 23, 2005
Cellphone for tweens
Well today in the Boston Globe, I just learned that my efforts to "help him" postpone that decision will get a little harder as soon as advertisement for the tween cell phone reaches him. I wonder how long that will take - but wait, maybe he already knows and is planning an all out "marketing" campaign to convince me and his mother that it is realy ok to have one now (hi mother who is of course way tougher than me! - but who eventually, like millions of other tween parents I guess, gave in to buying him Halo, an "M" rated game brought to you by Microsoft)...
Too funny - Ohio man arrested for inhaling paint
links for 2005-07-23
Interesting review of US News article on executive bloggers
Interesting post on how to measure effectiveness of corporate blogs
The details on how well VC's fared with Intermix/Myspace acquisition
July 22, 2005
$1 to get removed from telemarketers' list...after you're dead!
Can you believe it? According to Agenda Inc. in their recent post "Marketers may stop calling the dead" - "one of the leading telemarketing firms in the US set up a registry to remove dead people from its telemarketing, e-mail and direct mail list for $1."
A Deceased Do-Not-Contact list for a fee - give me a break!
links for 2005-07-22
Find out which keywords are most used
tells you the tags associated with a web site on delicious
Put your elevator pitch up there and have other users rate it
RSS feeds for TV search and podcasts
July 21, 2005
Marketing Sherpa gets upset about stolen content
While I have been a regular critic of some of their findings - especially those deviating from email marketing - I have found MarketingSherpa a great resource. It would be a shame to have great sites like that not be able to make it because of theft...
Interesting new RSS stats
Here are a few highlights from their findings:
- Tuesday is the most active day for viewership, feed retrieval and click through - Saturday is the least active with click through rates 70% lower than on Tuesdays
- morning scanners "view" more stuff, but late nighters "click through" more
- CTR on ads vary from 7-11% depending on the time of the day - that is surprisingly high
Interesting discussion on tagging over at many-to-many
David Weinberger picks up on an older post from Tom Coates at Plasticbag on tagging - which leads to an interesting conversation over at many-to-many (disclosure - I accepted to join Corante as a partner - more on that later).
As a reminder - the original post posits that tags for blogs change over time for three reasons:
- the content changes
- people start using new terms (i.e., Ajax) to describe things
- it is a reflection of the fact that people tag differently - and that their tagging habits change over time (which I guess could also mean that your readership is shifting)
David thinks that most people do both. They file (or folder) when they do it for themselves and they tag when they want to contribute to a social tagstream.
I agree with the fact that most people have multiple tagging behaviors depending on what they're doing. But I also think that there are more than two tagging behaviors. Some do tag as an act of filing - that is very much how you use your categories on your blog or how some people use delicious or furl. Some do tag to let others know that they found something which might be of interest to them (as some do through delicious - knowing that others subscribe to a particular tag). Others use it to alert others that they wrote something that might interest others (much the way people use Technorati tags). And lastly you have those that use it to annotate something for re-publishing (much like people are using delicious tags to comment on something they see on the web - only to have it being re-published on their blog).
I guess you could lump the latter three together into one category - but for me they are different enough to threat as three distinct cases of tagging. The difference between the first and third behavior is also why I think it makes no sense for Technorati to pick up categories as tags.
July 20, 2005
More PR agencies are getting on the new media bandwagon
This morning I found the newly released guide to executive blogging by Ogilvy PR (here - via PR Opinions) - which makes for a pretty good read. I was surprised to find that Ogilvy PR did not launch a blog or announce some other services at the same time - especially after the Ketchum mishap - but then again, maybe I missed it.
As part of one of my consulting gigs - I have been advising a mid-size PR agency on how to enter the new media space. The agency is PAN Communications and while they have been working on this for a few months they aren't planning on rolling out their initiatives to their clients and prospects until the fall.
The process we went through was quite interesting. We knew that in order to make the new media part of the fabric of the company we had to get the company blogging. First we identified a few people in the agency that were long term bloggers and willing to get involved with the initiative. We then offered all employees the opportunity to have a personal blog on employeename.prspeak.com, the domain for the new corporate blog. We got about 9 volunteers who formed a blog team that meets regularly to share experiences, best and worst practices, and to develop corporate blogging guidelines. We also formed a client advisory board - consisting of clients and others who know the space well, along with those who are not that familiar with the space. The idea was to get guidance from the experts as well as better understand the needs of those that are not "in the know."
PAN started blogging on their corporate blog prSPEAK a little over a month ago and are really starting to get the hang of it. We also developed a new media training program, as well as some new media-specific offerings - which will be "beta" tested with a few of the advisory clients in the next few weeks. The plan is then to start talking about it as part of their daily business sometime in the fall - after a solid six months of hands-on learning.
What do you think? Are there any other best practices that we are missing out there?
LinkedIn to make some big changes
This is great - LinkedIn will limit your personal network to three degrees (see here - thanks Konstantin)! So no more introductions between people that are trying to network 4 degrees, where you do not know the person requesting contact nor the recipient. This is a major improvement.
I also liked the InMail option - whereby you will be able to reach people who are more than 3 degrees away by emailing them directly through the system. The recipient can accept the contact and reveal his/her contact information or reject it. The best part of this option is that the recipient will be able to see how many requests from the sender have been rejected by others.
The question is - how much will it cost?
July 19, 2005
Barry Diller needs a lot of LOVE
In the latest issue of Marketing Profs Today, William Aruda writes "Branding: All you need is love" In his article he mentions Jennifer Rice of Mantra Brand Communications who conducted an interesting "love" experiment. She typed "I love [brand]" into Google and noted the number of items Google returned. She did this for many well-known brands to see how much we really love them. High on the "love list" were Apple, Google, Target and IKEA.
Interestingly, that correlates with the results of the InterBrand Reader's Choice Awards for the brands with the most impact in 2004. Apple was number one. Also in the top 10 were Target, Google and IKEA.
So I was amused, to say the least, by a recent AP article (see here)reporting that media magnate Barry Diller "sets sights on dethroning online king Google. A key component of his strategy is the $1.9 billion takeover as Ask Jeeves. "There's a lot riding on this acquisition," said Safa Rashtchy, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. "All eyes are on Barry now, waiting to see what he can do with Ask Jeeves."
Although Ask Jeeves has been perennially overshadowed by better-known search engines, Diller is convinced that it's the missing part of his Internet plan.
If it pans out the way Diller envisions, Ask.com and several affiliated search engines, including Excite.com and iWon.com, will become the mortar binding all of his other Web sites - a so-far dysfunctional family delving into travel, lending, ticketing and matchmaking.
OK, so Mr. Diller was the driving force behind establishing Fox as the fourth major network, when many media mavens said it couldn't be done. But the three networks that he muscled in on weren't particularly high an any brands-I-love list. Not so with Google. It's going to take more than cash and hype to pull this off. I'll be truly amazed if he does. If he can't I wonder what the fire sale price of Ask.com(remember Lycos?)will be.
links for 2005-07-19
Visualization of information
MySpace social networking site sold to News Corp
Ad Age: Is The Tom Cruise Brand in Trouble?
Wisdom of the crowds applied to a new business
July 18, 2005
Myspace acquired by News Corp
The New York Times reports the acquisition of Intermix Media (their primary property is Myspace) by News Corp for $580M. The last time I checked, Myspace had 12M users (after being launched only two year ago) - so that makes for almost (updated based on comment - my math was lousy - thanks!) $50/user (including the "testers" - like me - who are clearly not regulars).
More on consumer-centric brands
John Hagel continues to refine his ideas around consumer-centric brands on his blog - this time also relating it to the long tail and giving emerging examples. He also debates Chris Anderson on whether the brand will be owned by companies or individuals.
July 17, 2005
I thought the bubble had burst
Here is an excerpt of an article I came across in Computer Business Review Online. I had to double check the date to make sure it wasn't April 1. Actually it was reported just last week. Maybe news of the collapse of the dotcom bubble was slow to reach Canada. I've deleted the name of the company to protect the innocent.
"_____________, a start-up that plans to develop a web-based collaboration software package that will enable estranged parents to communicate directly with each other instead of using their children as messengers, is planning to raise $400,000 in an IPO.
The Calgary, Canada-based company, which hopes its shares will be listed on the over-the-counter market, is unusual in making a public offering. Early-stage companies normally rely on venture capitalists to get off the ground.
However, it is doubtful whether a VC would put any money into ______on the strength of its SEC filing. The company has not yet developed a product, and research into the potential market has simply consisted of web searches.
"We are currently devoting 100% of our human resources to the development and approval of this prospectus and, due to the lengthy approval process, we do not expect to begin any product development until after the effective date of this prospectus," said the company.
Potential investors will have to be patient. "The ______ Development system is not developed at this time, there are no 'beta' versions available, and _______ Development does not expect that the system will be functional until at least 6 months after the effective date of this prospectus," it said.
All _______ consists of is an idea for its system. It acknowledged: "We are attempting to create a commercially viable product based on a yet undeveloped software concept."
Heck, just a few years ago these folks could have added an exta zero to the sum they are trying to raise with no problem. To paraphrase Robert Duval, "I love the smell of burning money in the morning."
Worldwide competitive power-shift
A fascinating (MUST READ) article (requires subscription for full article) in Fortune Magazine talks about the "innovation" power-shift happening between the US and China/India.
Some interesting stats from the article:
- China produces 600,000 engineers/year
- India produces 350,000 engineers yearly
- US - 70,000
- 76% of jobs in US are service jobs (most easily outsourced)
The article briefly touches on the potential impact of this power-shift in the following paragraph:
"The stakes are mammoth: Respectable analysts believe it’s possible—not certain, but possible—that the U.S. standard of living, after decades of steady ascent, could stall or even begin to decline. More worrisome is the chance that if the world’s most powerful nation finds itself getting poorer rather than richer, some kind of domestic or even global political crisis could follow."
I wish the article would have mentioned Dean Kamen's work - who's been harping on this issue and trying to make a difference through his FIRST program for years. Some of you may have seen the TV program showing the Arizona kids beating the MIT kids in a robot competition - that's his work - oh, and most of you probably missed the fact that all the kids on the team were illegal immigrants...
July 16, 2005
Another worst practice is brewing over at Land Rover
Nevon has been chronicling the story of a dissatisfied Land Rover Buyer who started blogging about it. It is fascinating to watch how all those stories follow pretty much the same scenario. And it is even more fascinating how most companies and PR agencies are asleep at the wheel.
links for 2005-07-16
Paper on storytelling, media and connectivity
Study by the Catalyst Group showing how blog design, navigation and taxonomy are the issues standing in the way of broad adoption
Seven principles of social networking
Rethink your assumptions in order to compete
Impact of emotions and trust in decision making
July 15, 2005
Corporate blogging and the effect on communications
There is a great article in the FT times talking about the impact of corporate blogging on customer communications. While it covers a lot of points that have been said before it is great to see a mainstream media pub write about them. Some of the noteworthy comments include:
The advent of blogging is starting to make companies think about how they will be expected to engage their customers and employees in two-way conversations in real time - whether they like it or not.and
No one is sure how blogging will change the corporate communications business, but there is a view that companies should get involved - and now.also these words of advice
There are a few key rules that a successful corporate blogger must follow: they must write in a chatty informal tone, tell the truth, update their blogs on a regular basis and be willing to accept any criticism that readers dish out...Corporate bloggers cannot afford to be wrong or - worse - tell a lie.
Hopefully people at Dell subscribe to the paper...
links for 2005-07-15
Paper on use of podcasting in the marketing communications
Great post on whether companies should blog - and when
July 14, 2005
A passionate Dell service representative engages in the discussion
If you look at the Dell comment I made the other day, you will see a passionate Dell service rep commenting on my post anonymously - closing his/her latest comment with "i hope my comments have some impact on DELL CUSTOMER`s - a dell customer support person."
I found it worthwile to bring to your attention as comments are not included in my rss feed.
Flawed IT marketing trends from Marketingsherpa
Marketing Sherpa came up (free for a few weeks) with three trends in IT marketing today (here):
- Fear-based messaging is a complete turn-off - replace it with a safety message...I buy that
- Fewer than 10% of IT pros are interested in reading blogs...I buy that fact, but not Marketing Sherpa's conclusion (see below). Noteworthy is that 51% of reporters read blogs looking for stories...
- Companies should invest more $$ in lead loyalty programs - meaning investing in keeping warm those leads that come in but are not yet ready to buy...duh...if you have not been doing that so far you are wasting your time and money
"Our advice? Move your blog-marketing to the PR department. Write the ads and/or blogs themselves with an eye toward catching journalists' attention, instead of the end-sales-prospect. Naturally, do the exact opposite with your press releases, which with search engine and portal distribution are more likely to be read by thousands more end-prospects than they will be read by journalists, who prefer to sniff out exclusives."Talk about a flawed assumption that leads to a bad recommendation! Not all IT people are early adopters. In fact, and just like in any other market, 2.5% of the IT buyers are "innovators", 13.5% are early adopters and the rest are majority buyers and laggards - who buy primarily based on recommendations from people they know within their own industry. Whomever sold or marketed in the IT space will relate to that. And that is exactly where Blogs and Wikis are - somewhere between innovators and early adopters. That being said, I am convinced that this wave will cross the chasm, and when it does - it will do so faster than the web 1.0 wave. So you better be ready or you will lose out!
July 13, 2005
As can be expected from his writing, this one is a very useful piece in analyzing what might be in store for the future of brands.
It is his opinion that brand power shifts with relative scarcity - so when "quality" products were scarce, the brand power resided with the product manufacturers. When quality became a commodity and shelf-space became a scarcity, the brand power shifted to retailers. And now that we have e-tailers and unlimited shelf-space, the brand power is shifting again...but where to?
The new scarcity is of course our attention! We only have so much time to find what we need. So he argues that what's happening to brands now is even more fundamental than what happened in the last shift - we are in the midst of moving from product-centric brands to customer-centric brands. And creating customer-centric brands will require a new type of marketing - one which he described in his book Net Worth and which he calls collaboration marketing.
So I guess the customer is really in the power seat now...
Marketers ambivalent about blogs
"MARKETERS AT AD:TECH Tuesday indicated a deep ambivalence towards blogs, saying that their companies urgently want a blog presence but, at the same time, fear the consequences of letting consumers freely express their opinions."She quotes the head of marketing at Kimpton Hotel talking about the importance of word of mouth marketing in his business as saying:
"Yet, he added, with 60 percent of the hotels' business coming from word of mouth referrals, unflattering comments can be devastating. When consumers start bad-mouthing his hotels on the Web, he doesn't respond well. "I have a heart attack," "She further reports that many marketers at the conference perceive a lot of benefits from using blogs - including higher google ranking - and that some see it as the way of the future.
While I sympathize with the fears raised by Steve Pinetti at Kimpton Hotels - the reality is that if people have something negative to say about you, they will say it whether you are engaged with blogs or not. As said in previous posts and echoing what many blog gurus have said before me - the rules have changed! Your customers are empowered and will talk about you with or without your help. You can choose to join that conversation or not. But if you choose not too and something goes wrong - be prepared for all hell breaking loose!
(at the speed of light I may add)...
July 12, 2005
More Thoughts About Learning
Francois raises an interesting question about learning. I don't know if we learn "better" from people we associate with, but I do think we are more likely to accept information as being "true" or "correct" when we receive it from people we associate with. That could be simply because we tend to trust the people we associate with, and conversely, we prefer to associate with people we trust. So maybe the key to answering this question is to focus on what attributes lead us to trust another person and thus open ourselves to learning from them. So I'm wondering why is it that I trust Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal, and therefore tend to accept his product reviews without hesitation? Maybe its because over the years of reading his columns I've built an association with him in my mind. Maybe it comes from the way he writes; I "hear" him talking to me as I read and I like how he sounds. Or as Seth Godin points out in his latest book, All Marketers Are Liars, maybe I've told myself the lie that Walt and I share the same world view about personal technology, and so I am willing to learn from him. If Francois finds some books on the topic, I'll have to borrow them.
Do we learn better from people we associate with?
As I picked up my son from his computer camp today he told me that his favorite teacher was the the head teacher because they share a favorite skateboarder and a favorite band.
I know people deal with information overload by subscribing to feeds from trusted people - like John Udell from Inforworld for example:
“ At one time, my RSS intake was mostly feeds from conventional published sources, along with a few from individuals. Now it’s the reverse.
I subscribe to people more than to publications, and not because I don’t value the information in those publications — I do, very much — but rather because, outside of the realms in which I’m closely involved, I can delegate the job of tracking primary sources to people whose interests and inclinations qualify them to do so.” John Udell, ‘The Network is the blog’, Infoworld, 12 Oct 04 (via simon waldman). But does that mean we learn better from people that we trust/associate with than from people who may have more knowledge but who have fewer touch points with us?
An interesting question...I wish I had more time to buy a few books on education or sign up for a few more blogs on the topic.
Adware trying to clean up their act
Technology Review, the MIT publication, today has an article on the subject. Even without reading it - would you buy that?
Amazing how hard it is to overcome a negative association...it will be an interesting story to follow.
Gabe started blogging
Since there has been such a long time between the time I announced that Gabe would be blogging with me here and his first post - I thought I would take two seconds to draw you attention that there are two of us blogging here now.
We hope you enjoy!
links for 2005-07-12
Bookmark places you visit...rate them
July 11, 2005
From Mills To Martinis-- a unique way to sell a city...in another city
The headline of a recent Boston Globe article put it this way: "Selling Lowell, MA via a martini bar." And a Lowell Sun article lead with, "Mills Martinis & Media." Both stories were about an innovative approach to building awareness of new real estate offerings in this former mill city, 30 miles northwest of Boston. What were once huge cotton mills were being converted into deluxe loft condominiums. Ideal living spaces for young professionals eager to own their own residences, but priced out of the metro Boston market. Lowell not only had condos they could afford, but a growing arts and entertainment scene that would appeal to their urban lifestyle. If only they knew about it.
A conventional marketing approach would have been to promote the condos directly to targeted audiences in Boston through print and broadcast media. Fortunately there was no budget for such a program. So an unconventional approach had to be found. Enter "From Mills To Martinis." The idea was to take the story about Lowell into environments that are populated by the target audience the city wanted to reach, and were conducive to enabling the story to spread rapidly. What could be better than a martini bar? Visualize one of Boston's more popular establishments on a typical Thursday night. The bar draws an energetic after work crowd of young professionals. But on this night, something is different. There seems to be a party going on. Something about Lowell. There are huge posters with intriguing images of the city through the bar. There is a special Milltini being served in a uniquely shaped martini glass with the message "Look at Lowell Now" on its base. Bright red tins of mints are on all the tables. There are drawings to enter for tickets to Lowell events, restaurants and museums. And there are representatives from the city and condo developers to talk to about living in Lowell.
The first event goes well, but it is not clear how much impact it had. Two weeks later it is repeated. Hits on the city's Look At Lowell website (www.lookatlowell.com) begin to increase. A third event draws the Boston Globe to cover it. Then the story about this approach to promoting Lowell in Boston interests the locally produced TV show "Chronicle." The show's producer Myles Gordon was intrigued by the innovative approach the city was taking to lure people away from the overpriced Boston and Cambridge housing market. “It's not so much the lofts that came to our attention, it was the Mills to Martinis. It sounded like an interesting gimmick,” said Gordon. And it was this interesting gimmick that started people talking and retelling the story about Lowell to like-minded friends and colleagues.
Tagging for two at delicious
There is an interesting new little feature over at delicious - although I am not sure I like it yet. It provides users with the ability to tag for someone else (here).
[Technorati Tags: tagging]
19 social bookmarketing services
How many different services can one use? And what is the critical mass of users required to start delivering value?
[Technorati Tags: social bookmarking]
links for 2005-07-11
Inlinks tool that works!
July 10, 2005
Did you know the US Honda Accord is 2" wider than the European/Japanese model?
According to the Boston Globe today - that is indeed the case.
The reason? Because drivers here are "expanding"...
links for 2005-07-10
Thesis draft that led to social fabric UI that lets you see how often you contact people
Cover pages from 374 newspapers in 45 countries
July 9, 2005
Follow up on Dell...
I am putting this is in a separate posts as my trackbacks for the previous were not accepted (at the Houston Chronicle my ping for the previous post was denied for "questionable content") and MT keeps sending those when you edit a post. Here is another great post from the Social Customer Manifesto about Dell closing down their customer service discussion boards and the chat Christopher had with a customer representative about it.
I wish my bank horror story would get as much play :)
Is Dell following the path of Kryptonite?
I have always had good experiences with my Dells, but recently Jeff Jarvis over at Buzzmachine bought what seemed like a Dell-lemon and blogged about it (here). It quickly spread across the blogosphere (boy, do I hate that word) and a ton of other unhappy customers started to chime in as well. Then yesterday Dwight Silverman from the Houston Chronicle wrote about his interview with some Dell PR person who basically said - we do not respond to online comments and do not need a corporate blog! (here - via Micropersuasion).
Even though I have personally been happy with them over the years, I am sure that I would not have recommended a Dell to a friend - which I did just a month or so ago. And I am sure that I would have done a lot more due diligence into alternative brands when I bought my new top of the line machine 1 1/2 month ago. Don't marketing people at Dell get this???
And if they let this go a little longer, Google searches for Dell will turn up all kinds of negative stuff...
Dell - wake up! The rules have changed!
Very cool - and efficient
Around the world with two gallons of fuel - now that's cool! Check it out here.
links for 2005-07-09
Only 20% of marketers are happy with ROI measurement
Livejournal mood tracker
July 8, 2005
Moodtracker for livejournal
Moodgrapher: the World according to Livejournal, tracks the changes in mood at Livejournal. It is amazing to see how the site as a whole went angry and anxious after the London disaster (and also less horny, more grateful, less guilty).
It would be really interesting to see the mood swings by country. I bet you that would reveal some interesting information about cultural differences (i.e., how people deal with disaster).
Still no word from my bank...
It has been 48 hours since my bank wrongfully gave me full online access to someone else's account...and still no word on what they will be doing about it (see original story here).
Explanation for why Technorati is slow
Like most people, I have been extremely frustrated with Technorati's unreliable server behavior - especially the search feature and the feature that keeps track of in-links. Stephen Baker over at Business Week's Blogspotting spoke with the Chief Engineer at Technorati and the story.
I realize that what they are doing is truly hard...but I think that they should put off introducing new features until they have a stable platform.
[Technorati Tags: technorati]
links for 2005-07-08
Cool UI to track how often you digitally contact someone
Great wiki of things you can do with RSS
New CNN section on the online evolution
Cool applet that lets you create tombstone messages/images
July 7, 2005
Providing a great customer experience
The Media Management Center, along with the Online Publishing Association conducted a study in which they discovered 22 customer experiences that drive up web site usage (here).
I like the reason they give for why experiences are important:
"Consumer experience is a critical concept to understand and act on in an environment where there are seemingly infinite media choices but finite human attention. For online publishers, it means going beyond providing content that gets good user satisfaction ratings to finding ways to involve and engage users’ minds and emotions."The top 22 experiences are:
- Entertains and absorbs me
- Looks out for people like me
- Regular part of my day
- My personal timeout
- A credible, safe place
- Connects me with others
- Touches me and expands my views
- Makes me smarter
- Turned on by ads
- Easy to use
- Helps and improves me
- Worth saving and sharing
- Tailored for me
- Guides me to other media
- Makes me feel I belong
- A way to fill my time
- Gives me something to talk about
- My guilty pleasure
- Tries to persuade me
- Too much
- Worries me
- Annoyed by the ads
Still no call from my messed up bank...
24 hours after wrongfully giving me online access to some other person's bank account (whole story here) TD Banknorth still has not returned my call. I think I am going to call the main media soon...
What else would you do?
Long tail without filters is noise...
Chris Anderson over at the Long Tail makes an excellent point in his post about the need for filters in the longs tail.
I like the way he differentiates between pre-filters (those filters that predict whether you will like something), and post-filters (such as rankings, searches, etc.) - it's a great way to think about solutions for information overload.
links for 2005-07-07
Interesting tagclustering app for rss feeds
Interesting article on the use of blogs in corporations
Cool social-networking tool to help people find trusted sites and information
July 6, 2005
My bank is screwed up - mixing up online accounts!
I have a business account with TD Banknorth. When I logged in this morning I almost had a heart attack - my account was $30K below what it should have been. After checking for past transactions, I found that someone had retrieved $20K from the account recently. You can imagine what direction my blood pressure was going at that point. Then I realized that most transactions looked unfamiliar. After nosing around a little more, I found out that I was in some other person's account. Yes, you heard me right - I had full access to some other person's account!
I immediately called the phishing and identity theft hotline and spoke with two different people. They reset my password and told me that the wrong customer number had been assigned to my account - which is why I got into some other person's account. After resetting my password and attaching the "right" customer number to my account, I could no longer get in at all. Since I had requested to speak with a supervisor about this severe security breach, they told me that a supervisor would get back to me and help me with all my problems - within the hour.
Four hours later, and after receiving no return call, I called again, only to find out that there was no history of my call in their system and that my account was again attached to a wrong customer number. By now I was starting to seriously lose my cool. The only good news was that after this guy fixed my problem I could get in the account and confirm that everything was the way it was supposed to be. When I asked him how this could happen, he told me that the account was probably set the wrong way at the very beginning when I set up online banking with them. And when I told him that I had accessed my account online before, he brushed it off saying that the system sometimes reassigns customer numbers...WHAT??? You mean this could happen randomly?
I demanded to speak to a supervisor about what I consider a serious security breach - specifically I wanted to know whether the other person would get notified of the breach in his account and how they could guarantee that this would not happen again. The rep told me that he would have a supervisor call me - "hopefully" today (can you believe the arrogance?) - but that there was no way that they would contact the other person since they did not know whose account I had been in. As it turns out, the minute I realized I was in the wrong account this morning I printed copies of all the pages I had visited that were still in my cache. So I had that person's account number! He took it but did not give me any indication of what he was going to do with it.
It's now another hour and a half later and guess what - still no return call.
It's all about emotions
Kathy Sierra over at Creating passionate users has a great post on how men and women both use emotions as the primary driver for making decisions.
I couldn't agree more, except that I believe that people often go through a set of emotional "buying stages." Once a potential buyer is convinced that he/she needs what you have, he/she will first go through the emotional process of trying to disqualify your product from their shortlist of product candidates. It is in rare instances that you fall in love with a product at first sight to the point of not evaluating alternatives. Once you decide to look at alternatives you want to narrow down the field as soon as possible - and most people will use highly emotional/non-logic reasons to kick you off that list.
Behavioral ads on the rise
A recent study conducted by iMedia found that behavioral targeted ads (ads based on your behavior on a website or across an ad network) would climb from 12.6% in 2005 to over 20% in 2006 (here). Interestingly enough, the agencies that are not buying behavioral ads did so because of privacy and data security reasons.
Another interesting tidbit is that 30% of the agencies that buy behavioral ads use the adware technique (as opposed to working with an individual publisher or an ad network). The study does not list the share of behavioral ad spending that goes that route, but that surely will be impacted by the pending HR29 bill, the anti-spyware bill.
Someone else is stealing my content
As I was going through my log I found this link. I am confused why people would think that what I write is a) worth stealing, and b) helpful to sell antiques.
I will use the Jason Calacanis process to deal with this one and let you know what happens.
I did my first Podcast with Robin Good
I'll write more about the review itself on the BlogBridge site (disclosure: I am involved in an unpaid capacity with this fun open source project), but I just wanted to mention here how much fun it was to work with Robin. He is not just another reporter who interviews people and "kind of" test the product - he is more of an activist reviewer. I had been enjoying his blog for awhile but never spoke to him before. He is very approachable, extremely passionate, and very thorough (we got some of the best feedback from him). And on top of that he offered to get involved with the project!
Thank you Robin! I'll put that big orange button on the site.
links for 2005-07-06
Could we really have a decreasing rate of innovation? I am not buying it.
Measuring PR results
Harvard's Rebecca MacKinnon on English/US blogs vs. WW blogs
July 5, 2005
Big brother watching you?
Cool new vertical search engine
Jeff Clavier over at Software Only announces a new product by one of his clients – Glenbrook Networks. It’s a really cool vertical search solution. The current showcase - Glendor - lets you look for jobs in the bay area and map them on Google maps - check it out.
links for 2005-07-05
Blog on the process to select the future Supreme Court Justice
July 4, 2005
Another one does not get it...
The new Doonesbury (here - via Jupiter Blog), says things like "Isn't blogging basically for angry, semi-employed losers who are too untalented or too lazy to get real jobs in journalism?" and other stupidities like that. I never thought I would really get involved with this type of conversation, but I agree with David Card over at Jupiter - this one is a little too below the belt!
I am very happy - thank you - and I never aspired to be a journalist. As a matter of fact and for me personally, blogging insn't reporting. I am just thoroughly enjoying to participate in this giant and fascinating conversation - that's all.
Worst labor shortage only 5 years away?
Jeff Wacker on the EDS blog quotes Jeff Taylor (founder of Monster.com) predicting that the worst labor shortage is only 5 years away (here)- with 75M boomers retiring and only 35M new workers taking their place. He also ponders whether "off-peopling" (moving tasks from humans to machines) and "off-shoring" will be able to pick up the slack.
According to the New York Times, an increasing number of traditional publications are embracing participatory journalism (here). In some cases, there is no editorial role anymore - something Kuro5hin has been doing for years.
July 3, 2005
Flickr on Tivo
I want this price
Check this out...
E85 is a blend with 85% ethanol. I am told that many cars can use it without modifications. I want a pump like that next door!
July 2, 2005
Blogging in France is huge
An article in this week's Business Week: "Let Them Eat Cake -- And Blog About It" (here - requires subscription); reports that 4.9% of the population - that is more than 3M people - have their own blogs in France. Contrast that to the 0.2% of Germans who blog and you get some sense of the culture differences.
Another great stat from the article comes from Skyrock, a radio station. They started providing free hosting for blogs - which attracted 2.3M blogs and $6M in ad revenue. Talk about a goldmine!
links for 2005-07-02
Presentation on social networks in the workplace by IBM
Very cool rich UI to search through your delicious bookmarks
July 1, 2005
[Off topic - but so important!] Supreme Court Justice O'Connor retiring
[Technorati Tags: supreme court]
Wow - Apple iTunes podcast subsciptions up 1M in 2 days!
Two days after launching it iTunes with Podcast support Apple reports one million subscriptions in two days (here). Now that is fast adoption!
If only I could get my iPod back I could get back to listening...(my battery life was down to 3 hours or less - so I brought it in for them to "test" it).
[obvious] Marketing plans
Lately I have been reviewing marketing plans for a few friends. It had been a long time since I thought about specific marketing project plans.
It still amazes me how many people approach this process by just populating a spreadsheet with a menu of things which they are normally expected to produce as a marketer. You know - the white paper, the seminar, the web updates, the direct mail campaign, the brochure, the corporate pitch update, the PR road trip, the competitive update, the sales training, etc.
Too seldom do you see people approach the process from a more goal-driven point of view. Whether you are ready to launch a new product, a new company or a product upgrade you got to populate your project list based on answers to the following questions:
- What story are you going to tell (i.e., what's your messaging)?
- Who will you be telling the story to (i.e., who are your target buyers, your target users)?
- Who else is likely to re-tell your story (it's unlikely that you can succeed by being the only one out there telling the story)?
- What other noise is out there (i.e., who else is competing for the attention of your prospects)?
links for 2005-07-01