July 31, 2006
Old brand logos "web2.0-ified"
Here are some good ones:
Pfizer beta - Yikes
July 29, 2006
[off topic] Is this a case of collective insanity?
According to a new Harris Poll, 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion. That's a sharp and rather inexplicable increase from February 2005, when just 36 percent of the public held on to that belief. Ready for more? Sixty-four percent of the public still thinks that Saddam Hussein had strong links to al-Qaida.
links for 2006-07-29
Good aggregated list of tips for people entering the social media space
July 27, 2006
Whatever marketing becomes...
I do agree with many of the assertions in his reply regarding the poor state of marketing and especially product management in the Linux World and the Tech world in general. I would not, as he does, differentiate between marketing technology products versus marketing consumer electronics or consumer packaged goods. The role of marketing and the skill set requirement are very much the same across all industries. Having deep industry experience is an additional requirement layered on top of that.
Across all industries, marketers must play the role of "cultural anthropologist" to distinguish the real needs from the short term annoyances that people will find workarounds for by the time you can address them with either a new product or a new feature. They must also be able to interact, negotiate, and mediate with R&D, engineering, suppliers, competitors, partners, and other groups, to finalize "feasible" product plans that will meet the customer needs and include all the "relevant" innovations coming from those groups. And they need to be able to do that without being a gatekeeper or information traffic cop. In an age of rapid development and co-creation, they need to be comfortable in an environment where everyone can and should talk to everyone - regardless of organizational boundaries. Because, and within the constrains of not aggravating the customer, all of those groups need to have direct access to the customer to test and validate certain assumptions. Again, there is no difference in those fundamentals across industries.
Next they need to find ways to communicate with customers about the new products and services in the face of "attention" being the new scarcity. And while the solutions will differ from market to market, the range of options that need to be evaluated are the same across all industries. As part of that they also need to make sure that they set up the proper infrastructure to "listen" to market feedback on an ongoing basis instead of in episodic waves as they currently do.
Whatever marketing becomes will be enabled by technology. Wiki's, blogs, social bookmarking, technology enabled CGM, and many other new technologies are very powerful tools for companies to execute all the marketing functions - including all the customer touch-points - in different and better ways. Hopefully marketing will not become "defined" by technology, as that would make things much worse. Just take a look at what CRM did to sales and marketing...
Lastly, it is important to keep all things in perspective. What marketing becomes is not all that different from what it should have been all along...just take a look at what Peter Drucker said during the last three quarter century:
- "Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business."
- "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself. "
- "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said."
- "Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it."
And hopefully, what marketing becomes will also be heavily influenced by other disciplines besides technology - including sociology, anthropology, politics, economics, science, and others. Some of the best "field-specific" innovations have come from seemingly unrelated fields. Again, Drucker has a good example of that: "The new approaches to the study of history have, for instance, come out of economics, psychology and archeology all disciplines that historians never considered relevant to their field and to which they had rarely before been exposed....... By itself, specialized knowledge yields no performance."
July 26, 2006
Marine Corps attracts 12,000 friends on MySpace
12,000 people signed up as friends and 430 already requested to be contacted by a recruiter.
Although this particular example is a little unsettling, using MySpace as a recruiting tool sounds like a logical thing to do.
Half life of news online is 36 hours
A report from physicsweb found that the half life of online news is 36 hours. Apparently the common belief was that the number of people who read news stories decay exponentially, not in a power law as this new research found.
links for 2006-07-26
adsense recommendations for blogs
July 25, 2006
Markets without marketing?
Doc Searls has an interesting, albeit provocative, article in the Linux Journal, tiled "Markets without Marketing" (via Horse:Pig:Cow, which has a great follow-up post on it, as does Hugh, who also disagrees).
The article has a number of sweeping market observations, predictions and recommendations - many of which are fairly controversial :
- One of the biggest problems with marketing is that it all too often focuses on "capturing and holding customers, rather than "finding and satisfying customer needs".
- As markets are becoming truly free, we do not have much, if any, need for marketing. Marketing should get out of the way and let engineers talk directly with the customers who will be using the product.
- Advertising is going to die and PR is already dead
- Markets have evolved from conversations to relationships - which will require new skills and will get supported by the new tools
- Marketing needs to get out of the website construction business - it should all get replaced with wikis, blogs, and other direct linkage between information about the products and the customer
- Trade shows can be useful, but please do not send marketing folks
- Nothing is worse that vaporware and yet that is what marketing pushes
- Marketing does not know how you make money with technology or products - but engineering does. And besides, the real question is to understand how you will make money "because" of the technology... not "with" it.
Wow - Doc must have been seriously hit over the head by an old-school marketing spin-meister :)
It is true that many marketers are clueless and deserve the bad rap that they are getting. But more often than not, that behavior comes from the very top - with CEO's, CFO's and other VP's expecting marketing folks to do unnatural acts, and getting rid of them if they do not deliver the same old stuff.
Of course, marketing needs to get out of the way. It cannot be a bureaucratic wall between the customer and the company. But there is a huge gap between hearing what the customer says, and building successful products. Engineering has to have first line of communications with the customer. But while that may bring many advantages - ranging from a better understanding of customer needs by the people who are actually building the product, to better morale in the engineering team - this by itself will not lead to great product plans! You need very special skills and training to be able to turn market opportunities into successful product strategies.
And of course, we need to get rid of no-value web sites and replace them with linkages to the information sources that matter and enhance them with tools to enable various people inside and outside the company to talk and communicate with one another. But shouldn't you have someone in charge of that? Or do you believe that a free-for-all environment will result in an infrastructure where the customer will find what they need in a timely fashion?
And yes - marketing is too often focused on "capturing and holding customers, rather than "finding and satisfying customer needs"." As John Hagel says, they need to move from the 3I's (intercept, insulate, and inhibit) to the 3 A's (attract, assist, and affiliate) - no question about it! But shouldn't you have someone take the lead in that?
Look, you can argue that you do not really need a marketing department - and for practical reasons, I think you do. But you cannot argue that a company should have no marketing. Marketing is what a company should do. Everyone within the company should wear a marketing hat!
And yes, neo was right - "the problem is choice!"
2 and 3 word key-phrases make up more than 50% of search-engine queries
According to Onestat, only 11.4% of all search queries are one-word phrases. 3 and 4 word phrases make up more than 50% of all queries (via Blog SEO). Surprisingly, even 4 word phrases surpass 1 word phrases by almost 50%.
It is also interesting to notice the cultural differences in the research - Canadians top search queries are 4 word phrases (24.02% of all queries) followed by 3 word phrases, while Germans clearly prefer 2 word phrases (making up 40.05% of all queries) followed by one word phrases.
All in all pretty strong proof that search engine marketers should invest primarily into multi-keyword phrases instead of standalone keywords.
links for 2006-07-25
NPR interview with Virnon Verge on the upcoming Singularity
July 24, 2006
More good cgm examples
July 21, 2006
links for 2006-07-21
SEO tips for traffic generation
Screw the owners...customers come first! Great post on the pitfalls of one-sided value creation.
July 20, 2006
Bloggers - the new storytellers
Some interesting findings include:
- 54% of bloggers say that they have never published their writing or media creations anywhere else
- 44% say they have published elsewhere
- Eight percent of Internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog.
- Thirty-nine percent of Internet users, or about 57 million American adults, read blogs
- 37% of bloggers cite “my life and experiences” as a primary topic of their blog
- 11% write about politics and government
- 7% of bloggers write about entertainment
- Only 5% write about business
- 54% of bloggers are under the age of 30
- 55% of bloggers blog under a pseudonym
So all in all, the majority of the blogging population consists of a new set of young, mostly anonymous writers who write primarily about personal stuff...
July 18, 2006
Successful formulas do not always work for others - especially when you miss the key ingredients
Whenever a company finds a new and successful way to reach a goal, or to reach a hard-to-get-to audience - many others follow quickly - copycatting the original company, often times with dismal results. In some cases, as is the case with word-of-mouth marketing, new entrants screw up the whole playing field for everyone.
There are three main reasons why copycatting does not always work. First off, many companies who copy others do so without really understanding what the real ingredients for success are. The second reason, which took down email marketing and potentially could take down word of mouth marketing for all of us is related to ethics and industry self-regulation in the absence of government guidelines. And the third one is that best practices are not always portable from one company to another.
The entry of Wal-Mart with a Myspace-like offering clearly falls into the first category (via adage - may require subscription). In an attempt to appeal to teens with something else than pencils and backpacks, Wal-Mart launched a social networking site called The Hub. The site is designed to allow teens (hubsters) to "express their individuality." They can create their own page to show it to the world, and they can post hot-lists of songs and movies. They can even shoot and submit Wal-Mart related video clips and have a chance that it will be picked up as part of their TV advertising.
So far so good.
Except that they screen all content, email all parents requiring their consent for teens to put up a page, and forbid users to email with one another. Oh, and they reserve the right to modify the commercial created with the winning video...
And they call that a "GENIUS WEB DESTINATION?"
It is web alright, but where are the genius and the destination parts? If all goes well, they may win the top price for the "most uncool" social networking site!
links for 2006-07-18
Story of Blogher and how they bring value to women bloggers
July 17, 2006
India closes access to Blogger, Typepad, and Geocities in the name of "fight against terrorism"
It is a slippery slope when democracies close down information sources in the name of blocking content that is "'anti-national’ and ‘against public interest’." But apparently that is exactly what happened in India, with the government blocking access to Blogger, Typepad, Geocities and a list of other sites 21 pages long.
Well known blogger Gautam Ghosh blogs the story on his personal blog, which is hosted on wordpress and which so far seems to have escaped the ban order.
History is fraught with bad examples of governments trading "freedom of speech" for increased government control to achieve the (supposed) protection of "other freedoms."
This is bad news all along...
Would you buy eggs with advertising on them?
That is almost as bad as advertising on sheep along the highway...
Isn't interrupt marketing dead?
Or perhaps this is how people interpret Ambient Findability... if I can see what is on TV when cooking breakfast, then maybe I will program my VCR or Tivo to record it...
July 13, 2006
The importance of good customer service
Irving Wladawsky-Berger has a great post on the importance of customer service. In it, he describes the business model of the leading Indian Telecom conglomerate, and how they focus all their energies on customer service while outsource everything else - including the IT and the network...
That's right - a telecom giant that considers its customer relationships as the core asset, above the network or associated IT. Now that's innovative!
Irving closes his post, which includes some other customer service stories, by saying "Products and services might be commodities, but you never, ever want your customers to feel like they, too, are just commodities. A successful business will make each of its clients feel special by understanding and addressing their unique requirements, and quickly solving problems when they come up. This is really hard, which is why it may very well be most important way for a business to stand out from its competitors."
links for 2006-07-13
Fake vacations for sale
July 12, 2006
Comcast - a tale of poor customer service and screwed up management decisions
So a guy has problems with his cable modem and spends time in Comcast's online customer service hell (he also happens to be the biggest champion for the movie snakes on a plane, even though the movie makers newer acknowledged that). Then Comcasts decides to send a technician out to have the modem swapped out. When the technician calls Comcast to activate the modem, he ends up in the same customer service hell hole as most customers end up in and spends an hour on hold - and falls asleep on the customer's couch. The customer videotapes the incident and puts it on YouTube. Next thing you know it gets picked up by mainstream media outfits like the NYT, Forbes, and even airs on MSNBC's "Countdown" program, just to name a few. More than 300,000 people view the video on YouTube.
Another good customer service story - right? This must have been a great wake-up call for Comcast management to start fixing their problems...
What do you think happened next?
Comcast FIRED the technician!
...now talk about a wrong-headed management decision.
What do you think?
(For more info - check out Mary Schmidt's blog)
MySpace moves up to #1 US Internet property on the web
To put this in perspective, this means that 4.5% off all US Internet traffic visits MySpace! It also means that their traffic increased 4,300% in two years and 132% over the last year. The chart below shows the traffic growth of MySpace over that of Google.
Another interesting statistic is that besides being the top search term, myspace-related search terms like myspace.com, my space, etc., take up 5 of the top 10 search terms!
Fear of social networking sites like MySpace may be overblown...
[UPDATE] Later this afternoon I got an email from Yahoo!'s PR company - trying to clear up some confusion around the numbers. Their point is that the HitWise stats are really comparing apples and oranges - and to a
certain large extend I have to agree with that. Here is the statement from Yahoo!
The report that Hitwise released today with the headline “MySpace Moves Into #1 Position for all Internet Sites” is misleading. The Yahoo! network is made up of many domains and it is not accurate to compare MySpace.com to just Yahoo!’s mail.yahoo.com domain. When taking into account all of Yahoo!’s domains together as an entire network, Yahoo! clearly remains the number one property in terms of audience share, duration share, page view share and days visited per month.
In the U.S. alone, Yahoo! attracts 129 million unique visitors per month, which represents 74 percent of the online population; in comparison, MySpace reaches only 30 percent of the online population with an audience of 52 million unique visitors. In addition, Yahoo! has the largest share of online time spent than any other property: Yahoo! accounts for 13 percent of users’ online time, while MySpace has only 3.2 percent share in users’ online time.
Yahoo! maintains its leadership position as the world’s most trafficked Internet destination online, with a community of more than 500 million unique monthly visitors from around the globe.
(These statistics are according to comScore Media Metrix, June 2006)
Also check out Jeremy Zawodny's entry on the subject
Can you actually get marketing and sales to stop fighting?
According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review (requires subscription or can be purchased), you could and you should strive towards integrated sales and marketing departments as the benefits of having both groups work in harmony are plentiful.
Stop marketing departments who spend on advertising without tying the results to sales, stop sales departments that only fulfill demand instead of (co)creating it, and stop managers for whom marketing is nothing more than selling and sales support... p.l.e.a.s.e!
The authors see two main sources of friction between sales and marketing - one economic and one cultural. The economic one has to do with the power distribution between sales and marketing in three of the four P's - promotion, pricing, and product. The cultural one, which may be even more entrenched, has to do with the fact that the two departments attract vastly different types of people - with different educational backgrounds, skill sets, etc.
The article offers a few suggestions to better align the marketing and sales departments:
- Encourage disciplined communication - and that does not mean more communication, which is expensive.
- Create joint assignments and rotate jobs
- Improve sales force feedback
Once you have your sales and marketing departments aligned you can go a step further and work towards achieving an integrated relationship. The authors suggest the following actions to achieve integrated departments:
- Appoint a chief revenue or chief customer officer - a CRO or a CCO
- Define the steps in the marketing and sales funnels
- Split marketing into two groups - strategic and tactical groups
- Set shared revenue targets and reward systems
- Integrate sales and marketing metrics
While some of the advise and terminology may seem a little staid or even passé (after all, is marketing still about the 4 P's? and is the buying process still a funnel?), the advise is solid and practical and should benefit any company with dysfunctional marketing and sales departments.
July 11, 2006
Marketing software tools just don't cut it yet...
A new study released by the Business Performance Management Forum (via ClickZ Stats) found that despite continued investments in CRM and other market/company tracking data software solutions, most product marketing and product management executives use spreadsheets and gut instinct to make key business-changing decisions.
While the study implies that this is a refection of the current state of the marketing software solutions, one should not discount the possibility that it could also be an indication that marketing execs do not believe that you can extract business-changing decisions from existing company data.
There is no doubt that the current state of marketing software solutions are woefully inadequate (siloed, too hard to use, etc.). That being said, it could be that the solutions that will find the widest adoption are not those that increase complexity while enhancing usability, but rather simpler tools.
Look what wikis are doing to the collaboration space...
Fear of social networking sites like MySpace may be overblown...
According to a new study conducted by California University Psychology Professor Dr. Larry Rosen (download press release here), the MySpace sexual predator reports in the media are widely overblown/unfounded (via apophenia)
Rosen's study included interviews with 1,500 MySpacers and 250 parents and found that (partial list of findings - for full findings download pdf here):
- Only 7% of those teens interviewed were ever approached by anyone with a sexual intent and nearly all of them simply ignored the person and blocked him from their page.
- Two-thirds of the parents were sure that there were many sexual predators on MySpace, while only one-third of the teenagers shared this concern.
- Teenagers spend an average of 15 hours per week on MySpace.
- One in three admits their MySpace activity has negatively affected their schoolwork, family life, or both.
- Only one-third of the parents have seen their child’s MySpace page and only 16% check it on a regular basis.
- However, 70% of the adolescents said they would feel comfortable with their parents looking at their MySpace page.
Rosen makes an interesting point when he says "MySpace is the 13th largest country in the world. Teens live in this virtual world and parents need to pay attention. It is not a fad. It is not going away. And it is not a scary place. Teenagers can live and grow there with help from their parents.”
Meanwhile, the social networking space continues to heat up, with Bebo (a MySpace competitor especially popular in the UK) rejecting a $550M acquisition offer from British Telecom (apparently they are looking for offers north of $1b).
While there is no doubt that sites with that many users should be able to monetize their traffic, it is will be interesting to follow the emerging new marketing models that will make these sites truly scalable and predictable from a revenue point of view.
July 8, 2006
links for 2006-07-08
top 50 science blog according to nature magazine
July 7, 2006
Why are we men so self-conscious about asking for certain types of help?
When I came back from the West Coast earlier this week, I realized that my old Ford SUV had a flat tire. I did not really feel like changing the tire myself as it is an old car and it was on an incline on top of that.
Being a member of AAA, I could have just called them and have them come and change my tire. But being self-conscious about calling a service to change my tire, I procrastinated for 2 days. Finally I called this morning...and when they sent a woman to come and change my tire, I felt like crawling under a rock from shame.
Strange and stupid feeling - really!
...after all, I am paying for this service!
July 6, 2006
Corporate Visibility 2.0 - Are Public Break-ups a Good Thing?
There have been some highly visible web 2.0 company break-ups recently. The pubsub story comes to mind, where the co-founders publicly went at one another through their blogs (well one more than the other - here and here). Then yesterday came the undoing of rocketboom, where it's unclear what really happened other than something really messy (here, here and here). And those are not the only ones - there are many other partnerships that have gone up in flames in full view in the last 12 months..
Business partnership break-ups based on differences in personalities are never a good thing, and often lead to the demise of young companies. But when they become highly public and visible like that, doesn't it makes things worse? Not only do the chances for the company as an entity to survive become more limited - which is clearly not a good thing for customers, employees and business partners - but personal reputations get destroyed in the process as well. And other than making for a good web-soap, there are really no other benefits that can be derived from this kind of visibility.
Could this be an indication of the disproportionate (=unhealthy) role of personal egos in this wave of innovation?
Eager sellers and stony buyers - why sellers always overvalue their products
The June issue of the Harvard Business Review has an interesting article describing some of the latest findings in the psychology of new-product adoption (here - can be purchased or requires subscription).
According to the author, Prof. John Gourville, there are a few psychological biases in decision making that need to be considered when using Everett Rogers' "relative advantage" as a measure for successful product adoption.
Gains and losses:
First off, people evaluate attractiveness of new products and services not on an objective scale, but on a subjective/perceived scale which is based on products they already own. Every benefit of the new product compared to the new one is considered a gain, and every shortcoming is considered a loss. The kicker is that potential buyers give losses a much bigger weight than gains in their decision making process. In fact, multiple studies have shown that gains have to outweigh losses 3:1 before customers will adopt the new product or service.
The endowment effect:
Because of this loss aversion, people value what they have more than what they don't have. In fact, multiple studies have shown that people demand 2-4 times more compensation to give up products that they already possess than they are willing to pay for those same items in the first place!
Status quo bias:
The status quo bias explains why people tend to stick with what they already have, even when a better alternative exists. Studies have shown that the extend of loss aversion grows over time from a factor 2 to 4 - meaning that people's pain perception of giving up something increases over time and reduces their willingness to trade up.
But that is not all! Not only are consumers overvaluing losses and existing benefits of entrenched products by a factor 3, sellers are also overvaluing the benefits of their innovations by a factor 3. That makes the mismatch between what innovators think consumers desire and what consumers really want 9 to one!
So what is one to do? The author has a few suggestions. Come up with products that contain few product changes and require little behavioral changes and you will end up with an "easy sell." If your new product has considerable product changes compared to the incumbents - make sure that they require little behavioral changes. By doing so you may end up with a "smash hit." A high degree of product change combined with a high degree of behavioral change is much like the TIVO and those innovations are "long hauls." Doomed out of the gate are those new products with little product changes that require a high degree of behavioral change.
July 5, 2006
Which organizational structure has the highest chance of survival in a pandemic?
In a recent Harvard Business Review forethought (here - requires subscription or can be purchased separately), Prof. Nitin Nohria from the Harvard Business School asks which of the following organizational structures would have a higher likelihood of surviving a pandemic or other disaster:
- centralized leadership
- tightly coupled
- concentrated workforce
- policy and procedure driven
- distributed leadership
- loosely coupled
- dispersed workforce
- cross-trained generalists
- guided by simple yet flexible rules
Which company would you bet your money on?It does not require an advanced degree to realize that there are some fundamental lessons to be learned from mother nature...
July 1, 2006
Affiliate marketing run amok...
This site just got spammed by affiliate marketing sites promoting some new Nokia phone...which led to the ban of Nokia as a keyword on comments. Somehow it is hard to believe that Nokia would benefit from such tactics...and even harder to believe that their marketers would have condoned this...
But is there really nothing they can do to stop this behavior?