Friday, June 30, 2006

PayPerPost will fail because it lacks passion

Today PayPerPost launched. It's a service where bloggers are paid to blog about products, and here's the kicker: disclosing that they are being paid to blog about a product is completely up to them.


The end results are obvious before this even gets started. Bloggers are huge on transparency, and any sort of dishonest shilling such as this will not only toast the credibility of the blogger in question, but all of us as a group, by extension. And sadly, this is just the type of trainwreck that the MSM is waiting for, as BusinessWeek has already jumped all over this new service, and how it will 'pollute the blogosphere'. Shel Isreal was even more venomous, but no less accurate, when he said that: "I hope this nasty, cynical, ugly idea crashes and burns swiftly.".

But of course, the true reason why it will fail is because the passion of these 'citizen marketers' won't be for the product and the communities the product is aimed at, but for getting the $5 or whatever they are getting paid to hawk some product they had first heard of when they opened their email 5 mins ago. Any time the sole motivator and passion for your marketing is getting paid, you have lost the game before the kickoff.

When your marketing passion is the community, you're set. When it's your wallet, it will likely always be your wallet, because you will never be very good at what you do.

From marketers to future music label execs...

According to Church of the Customer, those wild and crazy Mentos-Diet Coke fountain guys have so far gotten over $25,000 in ad revenue from their fountain video being viewed over 4 million times through Revver.


Of course the guys are elated that the wonderful world of the hyper-connected internet has led them to a windfall of quick cash, right? Guess again, the boys are mad as hell because there are 'bootleg copies' of their video popping up on YouTube and GoogleVideo, which means they won't get cash for them.

Give me strength.

Jackie nails it when she adds: Think not "How do I make direct revenue from the video?" but "How can I harness this incredible visibility I have just created?".

Exactly. Instead of trying to get in touch with their daddy's lawyer, the boys need to be trying to get in touch with Leno and Letterman. I'm sure their display would be a hit on the late-night/talk-show circuit.

Recently, I gave a journalist some background info on blogs for an article she was writing, and to illustrate how viral in nature blogs are, I mentioned how shortly after I left my '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' post on Daily Fix, that labels began contacting me so I could explain to them exactly how the promotion would work. She asked 'Well weren't you afraid that a label might want to steal your idea?'. I told her that they definitely could, but it would be pretty short-sighted of them to do so. The smart labels would say 'Hey this is a great idea....maybe we should talk to this guy and see what other great ideas he has!', whereas the dumb label would say 'Hey this is a great idea....let's steal it!'. Of course, the dumb label wouldn't be smart enough to be reading Daily Fix or The Viral Garden, so it really doesn't matter ;) But my point was, when you have a good idea, the last thing you do is try to impede its flow. Let it come in contact with as many people as possible, and do anything you can to help increase its rate of exposure.

Something the Mentos dudes would be wise to learn. You only get 15 mins of fame lads, and the clock's ticking too fast to be worried about legal issues.

Pic of Rakim via Flickr user sketch_wiz

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I hear the train a comin'...

When I first started blogging last year, I didn't see much discussion about how marketers could better serve their communities. I saw plenty of talk about how 'bloggers got it', and 'big business didn't', but not a lot of constructive discussion of how marketers could bring the online/blogging rules of community-building/embracing/empowering, into the 'real-world'.

Thankfully, I am noticing lately that the discussion seems to be shifting more and more towards how we can better serve our customers by joining them in their communities, instead of who's smarter than who.

Here's just a few of the great quotes I've come across recently:

The Masi Guy said: "Does anybody really still think that dialog, conversation, building community and working with the audience/ community to craft a way to spread the message is not the way to do things?"

Mike Sansone talks about the 'social media' tools that customers are using:"They are a portion of your customers and prospects. They are using these tools as a platform for conversation and communication."

Paul McEnany adds:"And a marketer is wrong if he or she doesn't listen, adapt to, and ultimately, become a part of the community."

Kim Klaver nails it here: "If more marketers used the products and services they market themselves, and could speak as members of the same community, there might be less of a disonnect between them and their potential customers."

Mario chimes in:"So as a marketer you have the two options: either communicate one-way with your prospects or communicate two-way by engaging your audience with your product/service and getting to hear their feedback on the same."

Ann Handley quotes Amy Gahran:"Few things cement relationships of any kind, but especially with audiences and markets, like strong, mutual communication. Encouraging conversation -- and leveraging those conversations to enhance news offerings -- demonstrates that your audience is valued not merely as a market, but as a resource."

One of the great things about blogging is that it gives us a front-row seat to view just how easily communities can form, change, and even overlap. For example, I hadn't heard of ANY of the above 6 bloggers just 3 months ago when The Viral Garden went live. Now they are all daily reads for me.

I think/hope that as more and more companies and their marketers become more internet-saavy, that they will start to realize that they have to begin to embrace the changing marketing landscape and join their customers in their space. Thankfully, with smart people such as those above, and so many others, that change will likely come sooner, rather than later.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tennis needs a better serve

CNBC just ran a story on how low popularity is for professional tennis. I remember growing up in the 80s, tennis was a pretty big deal. You had great rivalries like McEnroe-Borg, Chris Everett-Navatilova, and youngsters such as Michael Chang and Boris Becker. Wimbledon was a summer mainstay, but as CNBC reported, with the World Cup, baseball, golf, NASCAR, and a general lack of interest in the sport, tennis' crown jewel could come and go without many people noticing.

It's a shame, because tennis is a fun sport, and if we can find a way to make televising NASCAR races and golf tournaments draws, I can't see why tennis couldn't be made into a ratings winner.

So here's the marketing moves I would make to revitalize the sport:

1 - Get college tennis on ESPN. ESPNU would be a perfect outlet for tennis, since they specialize more in the 'non-traditional' sports. The added exposure would entice more college students to try-out for tennis, which would eventually lead to more talented players. Also, the college season ends right as the professional season begins to hit it's summer stride, so it would be the perfect lead-in for the pros.

2 - Give tennis a point-system similar to NASCAR. Right now all you have are the world-rankings, which change constantly(Someone correct me if that's wrong). There's no sense of a beginning and end, no sense of a 'season' for tennis. I would give each tournament a set number of points awarded to winner, runner-up, making the semis, quarters, etc. And have the points weighed more heavily toward the Grand Slam, with Wimbledom of course being the biggest tourney. Scrap the world-rankings, and have the rankings based on the cumulative points each player has won.

3 - Shorten all matches to best of 3 sets. Sure occasionally you get an epic 5-set match that goes back and forth for 5 hours, but if the match is lopsided, especially for men, it can still last 2-3 hours. And considering that we are wanting to grow the fanbase, it's better to go with shorter matches to match shorter attention spans.

4 - Sign an exclusive licensing agreement with Electronic Arts to produce a tennis video game. Also give players the ability to download 'updated' player attributes based on their performance during the actual season, as well as updated wallpaper and screen shots for the game, based on who wins what tournament. And during the actual broadcast of each tournament, show a special code that allows players to unlock that tournament in their game, or maybe the seedings for that tournament, something like that.

I think it all starts with getting college tennis on TV, over time fans could follow the best players from college to the pros, which would lead to endorsement deals, etc. Once fans start to identify with individual players, then that will help drive video game sales, as players will want to play as their favorite player. And the point system would give readers a reason to follow the sport throughout the season.

Pic via Flickr user happymooses

So who cuts the cake?

As of yesterday, The Viral Garden is officially 3 months old. When you're in blogging, you get to count the anniversaries more often, since most haven't been around for a year or more ;)

I've heard so many bloggers state that their main regret about blogging is that they didn't start sooner. That's the only regret about having my own blog, I wish I had started sooner. I seriously thought about breaking off last December, and decided not to. In January and February BMA got on a hot streak, but in March traffic seemed to be levelling off, so I decided to move here. Perhaps by coinky-dink, or not, but BMA's traffic began to surge again in April, and continues to grow.

Thankfully, traffic continues to grow here as well. That first week I think myself, Andrea, Ryan, JD, and Jordan were the only visitors here. Course they were the only ones that knew about the blog, which was back when it had the horrificly bad name of 'This Parachute is a Napsack!'. Since then, we've gone from 5 visitors a day, to last month a 1-day record of over 700.

But as I've always said, it's not about traffic, it's about readers. When I came here from BMA, I had maybe 5 or 6 blogger friends that I read their blogs religiously every day. That number is up to around 30 or so now. That's not all the blogs I read, but the people that I now know enough to call them friends, and the amazing thing is, this community grows every day. It used to be that I would find a great blog and start reading it, now I can read David's blog and see where he's found Mario's blog, and I connect with Mario that way. Of course my sis has been great by bringing me to Daily Fix, I can't thank her enough for that, not only for the extra exposure it has given me, but in putting me in contact with so many great marketing bloggers. This has really become a Viral Community that's growing and spreading every day. I wouldn't have it any other way, hell I'm even connecting with bloggers at my MySpace page!

The popularity of the Top 25 Marketing Blogs list just continues to amaze me. The first list, from back in April, has now been linked to over 40 times, and a new link pops up every few days. Heck the list has even grown to the point where it is getting MSM attention (watch this space!). I really did start it because I thought it would be a fun way to track the top marketing blogs. Everyone seems to love it, so I'm glad I could give something back to the community!

What's next? More fun, of course! I promise not to leave if you guys don't! ;)

Pic via Flickr user lwr

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 10

Here's the standings for Week 10, and these will be updated again next Monday.

1 - Seth's Blog - 6,474 (LW - 1)(+572)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 17,987 (LW - 2)(-138)
3 - Gaping Void - 19,185 (LW - 3)(-250)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 19,519 (LW - 4)(-333)
5 - HorsePigCow - 45,052 (LW - 5)(-330)
6 - Marketing Shift - 45,319 (LW - 6)(+2,213)
7 - Coolzor - 74,408 (LW - 7)(+452)
8 - What's Next - 84,249 (LW - 8)(+3,177)
9 - Church of the Customer - 87,819 (LW - 9)(+1,690)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 89,223 (LW - 10)(+2,770)
11 - The Viral Garden - 89,250 (LW - 12)(+12,990)
12 - Emergence Marketing - 91,682 (LW - 11)(+6,882)
13 - FutureLab's Blog - 103,578 (LW - 15)(+19,839)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 109,377 (LW - 13)(+1,487)
15 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 115,869 (LW - 14)(+393)
16 - Diva Marketing - 120,740 (LW - 16)(+4,131)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 168,500 (LW - 17)(+12,782)
18 - Network Marketing for Women - 179,593 (LW - 20)(+24,869)
19 - What's Your Brand Mantra - 181,668 (LW - 18)(+4,980)
20 - Marketing Roadmaps - 207,390 (LW - 19)(-14,631)
21 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 211,528 (LW- 21)(+358)
22 - Marketing Begins At Home - 229,877 (LW - 22)(+5,722)
23 - Logic + Emotion - 253,955 (LW -UR)
24 - WonderBranding - 270,453 (LW - 23)(+9,092)
25 - The Origin of Brands - 274,615 (LW - UR)

I figure I better brag about us fast before the clock strikes midnight, but I'm pretty damned proud of how our Viral Community has pushed The Viral Garden to the brink of the Top 10. Especially when you consider that we won't hit our 3-month anniversary till tomorrow. As a whole, this was probably the best week for the Top 25 blogs, as 18 of the group were up, and there were 2 new entries.

The Origin of Brands re-entered the Top 25 at #25, and David Armano's Logic+Emotion became the third blog, joining Jaffe Juice and BMA, to be ranked in both the Top 25 Advertising blogs, and Top 25 Marketing blogs, as L+E touches down at #23 this week. Several blogs benefitted from being a part of Marketing Sherpa's blog awards, and there will likely be more spillover affect from these awards in the weeks to come.

The consolidation of the Top 25 continues, last week an Alexa ranking of 300K would barely make the cut, this week that number falls to 275K. Making the Top 25 was always an honor, it is now a serious achievement for a marketing blog.

As always, next update is next Monday.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Viral Community News

Michael Wagner at Own Your Brand!, has an amazing pair of posts about how Rick Rubin helped Johnny Cash revitalize his musical brand. Here's an added bonus: A link to watch Cash's video for Hurt, IMO the best music video ever.

Speaking of music, Tricia has a great post about how bands are finding that 'internet hype' might not always be an unknown band's best friend.

Daily Fix update: Joe Jaffe from Jaffe Juice has been added, as has Scott Baradell from Media Orchard. Ms. Community keeps on keepin' on!

New blogs that I am enjoying: No Man's Blog, and Marketing Nirvana. And if you needed further proof of how bad my self-promotional skills are, I was honored to be among Mario's Top 5 Marketing Blogs at #5, where I am #12 in my own list!

Finally, an interesting illustration of how an active blog generates more traffic than your average website. Leigh has a great advertising/marketing/branding blog called AdverGirl. Leigh works for, as she puts it, a 'midwest advertising agency'.

Alexa ranking for Leigh's blog? 242,365.
Alexa ranking for Leigh's agency's website? 2,611,250.

UPDATE: Karl Long has a great recap of the Supernova Conference, which focused on how social media and communities are impacting marketing. Great stuff.

NOTHER UPDATE: Chris adds extremely detailed notes from BloggerCon.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Yet another 'blogger' nixes comments

A couple of weeks after SethGate, Mark Cuban has apparently decided to kill comments to his blog posts. Honestly, I can't put this in the same vein as SethGate, or even Scoble deciding to monitor his comments. In this case, I think Cuban is making this move as a fan who's upset that his team lost the NBA Finals. I wouldn't be suprised if he turns comments back on shortly.

But...what I'm worried about is the bigger message that this might be sending other bloggers. Seth and Cuban are very influential bloggers, how long is it before another A-Lister, or A-Lister wannabe, decides that they don't need the 'hassle' of feedback from their communities. If Seth can get along without them, why do I need the 'hassle' of reading comments?

Here's a thought for those bloggers that are thinking of dumping comments from their readers, because they 'add no value': Start making an effort to CONNECT to your readers, and maybe they'll give you better feedback! Take the time to get to know these people that are taking time to come to YOUR blog, and maybe they'll get to know YOU a bit better, and give you better feedback.

Don't lock yourself up in an ivory tower and call down to your crowd that 'you guys just don't get me'. They don't 'get' you because you won't JOIN them.

If this trend continues of high-profile bloggers banning comments, either the readers will eventually migrate to the blogs that DO embrace their readers, or eventually readers as a whole will get tired of blogs. Which hurts everyone.

I talk a lot about the need for companies to 'join the community', but it applies to bloggers as well. And as a blog grows, the blogger should look for MORE ways to embrace their communities. I see so often, the exact opposite happening, in that many bloggers reach a certain level of traffic, and think they don't need to pay as much attention to their community anymore. The result is that some long-term readers will leave, and as new ones start to read the blog, there's little interaction with the blog owner. The end result is that the readers that understood the blogger, because he used to interact with them, they leave, while the new readers have no interaction with the blogger, and therefore don't understand him/her.

So if you aren't accepting comments because you aren't getting 'value' from your readers, that's not their fault, it's yours. I read on another blog a few weeks ago that 'a blog gets the readers they deserve'.

There's a lot of truth in that. Building bridges is almost always preferrable to burning them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The power of staying true to your brand

"If you want to look at Sarah, she's always stayed true to herself, and stayed true to her music." - Erin Kinghorn, Director of Sales and Marketing, Nettwerk Music.

Recently, Laura Ries had a great post about how the Dixie Chicks are botching their attempted comeback. Laura says the main reason why is because the group isn't staying true to their 'hardcore' fans, and their music. In other words, the girls aren't staying true to their brand.

The quickly falling sales of their new album(controversy led to a monster debut, but sales have skidded about 40% every week since), and disappointing ticket sales for their upcoming tour, point to Ms. Ries being as right as ever. We then started talking via comments, and we both agreed that while the Dixie Chicks (and Jewel, Laura's so smart!) had gotten their music and marketing all wrong, that Sarah McLachlan is a prime example of the power of a musician staying true to their brand.

Consider that Sarah's first true mainstream hit, Possession, didn't come until her third album, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, was released. That was in 1994, with the combined sales for her first two albums sitting at less than a million copies at the time. And Possession definitely wasn't aimed at a pop audience. The song's lyrics were inspired (or lifted) by the letters that a stalker had written Sarah over a 3-year period. The stalker then sued Sarah from jail for 'damages', but committed suicide before the trial was to start.

But by 1996 when she was working on her followup to Fumbling..., Sarah had found mainstream success, with combined sales of her first three albums now at almost 3 million copies. Instead of attempting to 'go mainstream' as some (Jewel) artists would have done, Sarah stayed true to her brand, and her fourth album, Surfacing, spawned four Top 10 hits, and has sold over 8 million copies to date.

Her latest album, Afterglow, was generally given an 'average' rating by mainstream critics, and is considered one of her weaker albums. Yet it still sold over 2 million copies. Reason? Because like all of Sarah's albums, Afterglow wasn't aimed at a mainstream audience, it was aimed at Fumblers, and fans that discovered her in the late 80s, and never left. Not many artists can have an album get a '2 out of 5 stars' rating from Rolling Stones, yet still go double platinum.

That's the power of staying true to your brand.

SPECIAL UPDATE: Part of Sarah's brand has always been to help others. Here's the simply amazing $15 video that helped over 1 million people worldwide, World on Fire.

Pic via Flickr user WanderingOne

The mainstream is still where it's at

Harry Joiner had an interesting rant recently on using your blog as a job search tool. The post was touched off by Robert Scoble's post about a Yahoo! recruiter that asked him for a resume, and Scoble added that "my point was that not everyone needs a resume and some, like me, won't join a company that is so stuck in process.".

Harry's point was that Scoble's situation was far from the norm, and he's right. And to be honest, it sounds like Scoble got miffed because the Yahoo! recruiter apparently doesn't read his blog every day. I think we bloggers sometimes lose sight of the fact that while something might be big-time in the blogosphere, that doesn't mean that the majority of America cares, or worse yet, even knows what we are talking about.

Harry adds:"In my experience [as a blogger and a recruiter] it is far more likely that you'll get a new job with a company that has no idea what a blog is."

I agree with Harry, and I think that bloggers looking for work, as well as marketers that are having success in reaching bloggers, need to find a way to build that bridge back to getting the attention of the mainstream. Building a presence in the blogosphere is great, but you need to get the attention of 'the right people'. This is the big challenge for job-seekers, and marketers, how to leverage 'clout' in the blogosphere, getting your foot in the door with the tools that the mainstream is using, such as newspapers, magazines, and online sites.

A great example is what Chris did at Movie Marketing Madness. He started talking to a LA Times reporter that found him through his blog, and the next thing you know, he's getting to contribute to pieces for the newspaper. Ms. Community found my blog, invited me to join Daily Fix, and that leads to me getting the chance to write an article for Marketing Profs. On the marketing side, Stormhoek has success with their blogging promotions, that leads to newspaper articles in the UK, which leads to mainstream exposure.

Harry and I have talked about this before, and I still think I have a bit more faith in blogs as a tool to help you get a job. But I think their real value comes from putting you in a position to get exposure from the mainstream, which is where you eventually will likely want to get your message to.

Whether you are a marketer, or a blogger looking for a job, for most of us, the mainstream is still where it's at.

Pic via Flickr user JenniferGilbert

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This is why I'll never be an A-Lister....

...cause my self-promotional skills suck.

Last week I noticed that Marketing Sherpa was accepting nominations for 'best advertising and marketing blogs'. So I tried to nominate The Viral Garden (found out the blog has to be created sometime last year), then when I saw I couldn't, I tried to nominate BMA, and it threw up an error when I submitted the nomination form, so I said to hell with it, and forgot about it.

Yesterday I saw on another blog that the nominations were up, so I went back to Marketing Sherpa to check them out, and sure enough, BMA appeared to be about the only blog in the blogosphere that wasn't nominated. At first I got ticked, because here BMA is continuing to grow, with monthly traffic increasing every single month since it began, and the daily traffic average is now up to over 1,400 people a day.

So after almost coming to the realization that our traffic reports were wrong, and that BMA must actually suck, I went back and looked at the list of nominees again, and realized I had never heard of many of them. Doesn't mean they are bad, just that I had never heard of them. So I went and clicked on a few of them to see what they were about, and noticed the same thing at every one of them.

Every one of them had just left a post asking their readers to nominate them for Marketing Sherpa's blog awards. Of course, it never occurred to me to do the same thing for BMA.

I was talking to someone about such awards, and they told me that these awards 'really don't matter'. In a way they are right, but then again if they matter to the readers, then they matter. When a reader sees that a blog has 'been nominated by Marketing Sherpa as one of the best marketing blogs', then it matters.

So I guess my self-promotional skills need some brushing up. Ah well there will surely be another set of awards coming up soon...

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing blogs - Week 9

Here's the standings for Week 9, and these will be updated again next Monday.

1 - Seth's Blog - 7,046 (LW - 1)(+114)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 17,849 (LW - 2)(+99)
3 - Gaping Void - 18,935 (LW - 4)(+168)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 19,186 (LW - 3)(-180)
5 - HorsePigCow - 44,722 (LW - 5)(+1,463)
6 - Marketing Shift - 47,532 (LW - 6)(-77)
7 - Coolzor - 74,860 (LW - 7)(+3,228)
8 - What's Next - 87,426 (LW - 8)(+357)
9 - Church of the Customer - 89,509 (LW - 9)(-895)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 91,993 (LW - 10)(+797)
11 - Emergence Marketing - 98,564 (LW - 11)(-346)
12 - The Viral Garden - 102,240 (LW - 12)(+6,178)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 110,864 (LW - 13)(+3,037)
14 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 116,262 (LW - 14)(+2,133)
15 - FutureLab's Blog - 123,417 (LW - 16)(+17,893)
16 - Diva Marketing - 124,871 (LW - 15)(+11,943)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 181,282 (LW - 17)(+413)
18 - What's Your Brand Mantra - 186,648 (LW - 18)(-3,738)
19 - Marketing Roadmaps - 192,759 (LW - 19)(-5,504)
20 - Network Marketing for Women - 204,462 (LW - 20)(+7,842)
21 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 211,886 (LW- 21)(+2,732)
22 - Marketing Begins At Home - 235,599 (LW - 22)(+101)
23 - WonderBranding - 279,545 (LW - 23)(+2,914)
24 - B2Blog - 291,124 (LW - 24)(+174)
25 - Crossroads Dispatches - 304,478 (LW - 25)(-421)

This week's list marks the 2-month anniversary of the Top 25 Marketing blogs countdown! Woo-hoo! In my mind, the biggest story during that time is Creating Passionate Users moving from #5, to solidly locking themselves in at #2. As for this week, Hugh and John again trade places, in their continuing dance where neither of them seems to want to lead. HorsePigCow had another decent week, will be interesting to see if Tara can seperate herself from MarketingShift, or if MS will catch back up.

A rift of almost 60,000 spots has developed between the Top 16, and the rest of the Top 25. Emergence Marketing, Jaffe Juice, BMA, and The Viral Garden all continued their creep toward the Top 10, while Diva Marketing and FutureLab again had big weeks to keep up the pace. After the Top 16, it was a pretty flat week for the other blogs, and there were no new blogs this week. After I bragged about Logic+Emotion last week, David's blog surged another 60,000+ spots, and just missed the Top 25. Also it's interesting to note the consolidation that's taken place in the last over the last 2 months. In the first Top 25 list, The Brand Builder Blog(which is making a strong run to re-enter the countdown, don't think I haven't noticed that, Olivier) was #25 at 430K. Now 300K will barely make the cut.

Finally, if I suspect that you are doing something to intentionally 'misrepresent' your Alexa ranking, out you go. If you have no idea what I am talking about, good for you. If you know exactly what I am talking about, then can it before your blog gets booted from the Top 25.

As always, next update is next Monday.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Never underestimate the power of a passionate community

Going to Tuscaloosa, Alabama on a Football Saturday in the fall never ceases to impress me. Whenever the Alabama Crimson Tide plays a home game, this mild-mannered college town is tranformed into a city with a 1-day population of around a quarter million people. I've seen figures that estimate the economic impact to Tuscaloosa for an Alabama home football game at being anywhere from $12-25 million. Over 100,000 strangers from all across the state and country, converge onto a few blocks around Bryant-Denny Stadium, and become an empassioned community.

From a marketing perspective, it always amazes me the utter devotion that these fans have for their team. When you are there, in this stadium, you can look at the other 80,000+ people in attendance, and know that there is absolutely no other place in the world that most of these people would rather be than right here, right now. I know, because I feel the same way!

Ryan has a great post up now about the passion he observed for the Korean World-Cup team in 2002. It's the same passion that surrounds so many sports teams across the country and world. I've always been intrigued by music marketing because of the close relationship that musicians have with their community of fans, but it's really a similar dynamic at work for sports fans. The teams put themselves in a position where interaction with their community makes them more productive.

And in the end, a strong relationship is formed. Both sports fans, and the teams they cheer for, literally need each other to 'survive'. But how does this differ from Coke and their customers? Without the customers, Coke has no one to sell to, and the business collapses.

Or perhaps the big difference is that while Coca-Cola has customers, the University of Alabama has passionate fans. Passionate fans, that are, ironically, nonchalantly drinking Coke while they cheer for 3 hours for their favorite team.

There's a lesson for marketers there: While it's nice to have customers, fans rule.

Pic via Flickr user TooMuchPete

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Viral Community News

The 'Shameless Self-Promotion' edition.

First, I have a new article appearing at Marketing Profs, entitled How to Make the Community Your Marketing Partner. This is my first article for MP, and covers how businesses and marketers can embrace and join communities and partner with them in their marketing efforts. Here's a portion:
But here's the problem: Faster and more efficient communication means that ideas are exchanged more quickly than ever before within communities. Thoughts are exchanged, styles are developed, trends are created... all at an ever-accelerating pace. Attempting to guess from afar what the current trends and preferences are for your hyper-connected customers is a crapshoot at best, and a total waste of time at worst.

So, at this point, you have a choice: You can continue using the same marketing methods you have always used to reach your customers, or you can try something revolutionary. You can join them. You can stop trying to guess what your customers are talking about, and instead join their communities and talk to them directly.

Sound scary? Good, because at first it will be. But the good news is that when you join consumers in their space, you begin to understand them. You begin to understand what their wants and needs are, and you begin to "speak their language." Perhaps just as important, they begin to understand you.
Be sure to check it out, I think you'll like it. And as you can see here, it's currently the 2nd most popular non-premium article this week! And a footnote: Thanks to Lani for her incredibly kind email about the article!(Lani I linked to your website, if you have a blog, email me the address and I'll add a link to it as well!)

I also have a new post up at Daily Fix, Where's the Blogging Party?, focusing on the steps I've used to create The Viral Community here, and hopefully it can help some other bloggers as they try to grow their own communities. Feel free to stop by and add your own tips!

Finally, other blogs are continuing to link to my '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' idea. Thanks to everyone that's helping to spread the word. I am pretty passionate about this idea because I know it will work, and I know it will benefit all parties involved; music fans, the artists, and even the labels. And it will go a long way toward revolutionizing the way labels market music to their communities (by joining them, of course). If you haven't linked to The Viral Garden yet and want to, please instead link to my '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' post here, or the post I left at Daily Fix. I'll make sure to link back to everyone's blog here. Thanks in advance ;)

UPDATE: Thanks to Tamera at (3i) for adding her take on '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers'!

Pic via Flickr user Subinev

Coke gets geyser of community-based publicity, but doesn't want it

Chris at Shotgun Marketing has the latest example of a company not liking the direction that the community is going with their product, so they try to LEAD the community away from their chosen path.

Hundreds of videos are popping up all over the internet of an interesting experiment involving Diet Coke. Apparently, when you drop a Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke, the chemical reaction results in a geyser shooting up to 20-feet in the air. For months people have been shooting videos of this experiment, with the most famous being at As of last Friday, this video had been viewed over 800,000 times.

The interesting part of this story is the reaction that Mentos and Coke have had to their products being featured in these community-produced videos. Mentos' reaction? "We are tickled pink by it," says Pete Healy, vice president of marketing for the company's U.S. division.

As for Coke? "It's an entertaining phenomenon," said Coke spokeswoman Susan McDermott. "We would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it.". She adds that the "craziness with Mentos ... doesn't fit with the brand personality" of Diet Coke.

Let me repost what I said in Part 2 of my 'Marketing With Your Community' series:
I prefer to think that our goal as marketers is to clear a path for the consumer. The consumer will eventually reach their destination with or without us, but the value we bring to the equation is to help the consumer reach their destination as effectively as possible. We can't clear a path if the consumer is leading us. And if we get too far ahead of the consumer, we lose the ability to accurately anticipate their path.

So we walk with the consumer. If the consumer leads, our ability to clear their path is diminished, which doesn't serve the best interest of the consumer. If the marketer leads, then our ability to understand the consumer is diminished, which means our ability to understand which path they will take is lessened. And that's not in their best interest either. It also doesn't help us.

Mentos is walking WITH their community, Coke is trying to lead them. Mentos found out about how the community was enjoying their product, and now they are considering offering a marketing deal to the men responsible for the most elaborate, and popular video. The company values the online buzz for Mentos at 'Over 10 million'.

On the flipside, Coke is telling their community to stop playing (enjoying) with Diet Coke, and start drinking it.

Mentos is clearing a path for their community, Coke is trying to lead their's.

Guess which company will be the winner here?

Monday, June 12, 2006

There are podcasts...

...and then there's Across the Sound. I've never been a big fan of podcasts for 2 reasons:

1 - Most are boring as hell, IMO.
2 - Since I am the last living person on the planet with dial-up, it takes me approximately 2.7 days to download a 30-minute show.

But I must say, the couple of times I have spent the 8-10 hours necessary to push 10 mins of ATS through my modem has been time well-spent. I'm listening to the first 15 mins or so of ATS: Episode 36, and it all started with Joe's description of the show (see if you spot the hilarious joke), and so far he's plugged several other podcasts, then he acknowledges that he's creating more competition for himself, then clarifies that he has no problem with that, and then plays several listener comments. Of course he then makes the mistake of letting Karl Long make a comment, which lasts so long that the answering machine has to intervene. Still, Karl and Joe have a hilarious, and spot-on account of SethGate, and even mention Hugh's 'response'.

But anyway, definitely give Across the Sound a check, my guess is that once you hear the first show, you'll be hooked and immediately dig through the archives looking for more.

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 8

Here's the standings for Week 8, and these will be updated again next Monday.

1 - Seth's Blog - 7,160 (LW - 1)(+1,502)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 17,948 (LW - 2)(-334)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 19,006 (LW - 4)(-181)
4 - Gaping Void - 19,103 (LW - 3)(-321)
5 - HorsePigCow - 46,185 (LW - 6)(+4,781)
6 - Marketing Shift - 47,455 (LW - 5)(-313)
7 - Coolzor - 78,088 (LW - 7)(+4,965)
8 - What's Next - 87,783 (LW - 9)(+1,617)
9 - Church of the Customer - 88,614 (LW - 8)(-2,884)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 92,790 (LW - 10)(+1,902)
11 - Emergence Marketing - 98,218 (LW - 11)(+2,696)
12 - The Viral Garden - 108,418 (LW - 14)(+19,716)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 113,901 (LW - 13)(+8,928)
14 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 118,395 (LW - 12)(+3,894)
15 - Diva Marketing - 136,814 (LW - 15)(+17,529)
16 - FutureLab's Blog - 141,310 (LW - 17)(+27,866)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 181,695 (LW - 18)(-2,034)
18 - What's Your Brand Mantra - 182,910 (LW - 19)(+3,614)
19 - Marketing Roadmaps - 187,255 (LW - 16)(-20,439)
20 - Network Marketing for Women - 212,304 (LW - 20)(+13,993)
21 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 214,618 (LW- 21)(+12,449)
22 - Marketing Begins At Home - 235,700 (LW - 22)(+3,758)
23 - WonderBranding - 282,459 (LW - 24)(-10,569)
24 - B2Blog - 291,298 (LW - 23)(-22,239)
25 - Crossroads Dispatches - 304,057 (LW - UR)

SethGate continued to boost Seth's website, giving the site its biggest jump yet. As for the rest of the Top 25, no shortage of big moves this week. Duct Tape Marketing and Horse Pig Cow both moved up a notch, to #3 and #5, respectively. Past the Top 10, The Viral Garden, Jaffe Juice, Diva Marketing, and FutureLab all had big weeks. As expected, Diva Marketing got a nice boost from being featured on And FutureLab continues its torrid pace.

Past the Top 16, Network Marketing for Women and Hip-Hop Marketing both had nice jumps, and Crossroads Dispatches re-entered the Top 25 at #25. But in my mind, the story of the week didn't even occur on the Top 25, as David Armano's Logic+Emotion had what I believe is the biggest jump any blog I've tracked in the last 2 months has enjoyed, last week. L+E vaulted upwards almost 400,000 spots, and just missed the Marketing Top 25, but did indeed land in the middle of BMA's Top 25 Advertising blogs. Just a huge move, and L+E is probably the best new blog I've found this year.

As always, next update is next Monday.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Viral Community News

Some quick notes about some of my favorite blogs.

Go check out Logic+Emotion ASAP. As you know I am constantly looking for new blogs, and constantly endorsing good ones, but L+E is one of the best I've ever found, bar none. David Armano. Remember that name.

Jordan has moved Tell Ten Friends to a new site with a nice new layout to boot. And he's scrapped Blogger, which is almost always a smart move. Check it out, and adjust your feeds accordingly ;)

Chris has been wanting to know for months why I didn't start a music marketing blog. I seriously considered it, but decided in the end to integrate any music marketing news/ideas I wanted to blog about into The Garden's content.

But....Tricia has started a music marketing blog. This is only the second blog I have found devoted to music marketing (other than Clyde's). Tricia's blog, which is brand new, is called Studio UES. It may be new, but she's hit the ground running, and like myself, she's using her blog to help her get a job, in interactive/entertainment marketing. She has all the essentials you'll need to learn all you want about her on her blog, and I am painfully jealous of the horizontal menu she has on her Blogger template, because I want one. Give Studio a look, and Tricia, you might want to talk to Ryan, whose blog, Adcouver, helped him land his current job.

Non-smelly hands rule, commercials at the pump don't

This is a classic case of a company marketing from their point of view, and not considering what's best for their customers. John at Brand Autopsy brings us the tale of Gas Station TV, a service that's currently being test-marketed in Dallas where TV monitors are installed at gas pumps, and commercials are shown.

Here's why David Leider, the CEO of GSTV, thinks this will work: "This is a truly captive audience that we have--those stuck at the pump--and this is a great opportunity to engage them.".

Oh you could almost hear the cash registers ringing in Leider's head when he said that, couldn't you? There's nothing engaging about being bombarded with unwanted commercials while trying to pump your gas so you can get home. Leider obviously loves this idea, because he thinks the customer will be 'forced' to hear the commercials.

The problem with that thinking is, most people will tune this out immediately because this is a move that CLEARLY is advertising, and offers little to no benefit to the customer.

On the flipside, the picture above shows a hand-sanitizer at a gas pump. Bingo! Now THIS instantly solves a problem that we all have, cleaning our hands after pumping gas. The benefit to the customer is obvious, in fact I could see some customers changing their spending habits to make this gas station their only stop, simply because it offers a free benefit that its competitors do not.

Which move solves a customer problem and adds a benefit, and which move will ultimately mean more business for the gas station?

Almost makes you think there's a connection, doesn't it?

Pic via Flickr user Neven.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

'100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' redux

I am constantly getting blog/email questions about my '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' idea, and I realized that while I did a breakdown of how the promotion would work for Daily Fix, I never posted a full explanation here. Since it's also being talked about on other blogs, I wanted to officially outline what the deal is, and as soon as I figure out how to stop butchering the template for The Garden, I'll post a link on the sidebar here.

I've been blogging/ranting for months on both my blogs wondering why music labels are ignoring a community of bloggers that are music fans who are literally WANTING to promote their artists, but can't because the labels won't let them. I started talking about the idea of giving '100 CDs to 100 bloggers'.

Let's say that The Donnas(or Avril Lavigne, or...) have a new CD coming out on June 27th. So the girls datamine their fan email lists, their forums, etc, and get a list together of 100 fans of their music that also have a blog.

The band emails the 100 bloggers, explains that they will send them a copy of their upcoming CD, if the bloggers will agree to review it on their blog after they hear it. Of course the 100 fans of The Donnas would be thrilled that the band reached out to them to even review the CD, and would be elated that they'd get the CD before it even hit the stores! After getting the addresses together, The Donnas add a BIG bonus, they take an hour or so to sign and inscribe all the CDs.

What's going to happen when 100 fans, thrilled when they see that their free CD from their favorite band has arrived in the mail, open it and ALSO see that it's been personally signed and inscribed to them? My guess is there would be around 100 glowing reviews of the CD and this promotion, within hours throughout the blogosphere.

But as with so many unconventional ideas in business, the potential results need to be quantified before the 'right people' will pay attention. Fine, let me attempt to do that then. Let's assume that of the 100 bloggers that would be contacted, that the average number of readers they get in any day on their blog is 50. So for 100 blogs at 50 readers a day, that would mean that 5,000 readers a day will be exposed to this promotion and the reviews of the new CD by The Donnas.

But the thing to keep in mind is, a blog's readership is loyal, and the blogger has a good deal of influence over them. This isn't like 5,000 random people will be exposed to this promotion per day, but rather 5,000 people that will be heavily influenced to check out The Donnas, because the 100 bloggers are suggesting they do so.

But then we have the ancillary affects. If 100 music fans blog about this promotion, it's only a matter of time before blogs covering news in the music industry catch up to the story, and blog about it. Then you go from 50 or so visitors a day, to 10 even 20 or 30 times that.

And when one industry blog sees it, the other industry blogs will be right behind, and then the snowball is in a freefall downhill. The 5,000 readers that were originally exposed to this promotion could easily balloon to 50,000 or 100,000 readers, with a few of the right links from a few of the right blogs. Per day. And keep in mind that we are still talking about 100 fans of The Donnas. These people have a VESTED interest in leaving their blogs and doing everything they can to help get the word out about their favorite band on other blogs, message boards, everywhere.

And let's be honest, the first label to do something as gutsy as this is going to get MAJOR positive pub in the blogosphere. Which makes such a story bigtime linkbait, which means even more people hear about the promotion, and The Donnas.

So for the cost of 100 CDs, and the time it takes for The Donnas to sign/inscribe 100 CDs, and ship them, the band could have tens if not hundreds of thousands of bloggers be exposed to their music.

Seems like a no-brainer to me, but then again I'm just a dumb blogger. And as most labels will tell you, no one listens to dumb bloggers.

Pic via Flickr user Rocco Kasby

Akeelah stings Starbucks, now what?

Marketing Begins At Home is critical of Starbuck's initial foray into movie marketing, by noting that the coffee store chain pumped $20 million into its marketing plan for a movie that took home less than that at the box office.


But the big question is, what does Starbucks do now? I'm sure they aren't going to stop marketing movies because Akeelah and the Bee stunk it up at the box office, but will they alter their promotional campaign for the next movie they feature?

This is what I wrote about this promotion 2 months ago on BMA:
But the key to the success of the in-store promotion will likely come from the Starbucks employees, or baristas. Each barista has either been given an advance screener copy of the movie to watch, or a DVD containing the trailer. I would have made sure that every barista had an advance screener to see the whole film, which I think is a great idea. Where they lose me is that they are 'encouraging' the baristas to discuss the film with customers. This IMO is a very fine line to walk, as many baristas might be too 'pushy' with their promotion of the film. IMO it would have been better to give all the baristas the complete screener, then let them bring up the movie naturally, if a customer mentions it, or is seen interacting with one of the in-store promotional materials. That way you could organically create the 'wow this must be a good movie because everyone has seen it' buzz.

As expected, it was a fine-line that Starbucks apparently tripped over. Both Chris Thilk and Joe Jaffe noted that the problem wasn't that the baristas were too pushy in promoting the film, but rather that they knew little to nothing about it. Both gentlemen found that the baristas at the Starbucks they visited didn't know what the film was about, and when Chris asked one employee what training materials she had been given on the film, she acted embarrassed and avoided the question.

It seems as if Starbucks went heavy on in-store signage and promotional materials, and skimmed on actually educating their employees on what the movie was about, and why anyone would care to see it. But even the in-store promotional material missed the mark, as many customers mistook words on their green cup sleeves that were meant to tie-into promotion for Akeelah, as actually being new coffee flavors.

This promotion had a very small window of opportunity for success. That window relied on making sure that baristas had seen and understood the film before the promotion ever began, then allow them to promote the film to customers NATURALLY, not by pushing it on customers that weren't interested.

Of course, the temptation to throw gobs of cash into in-store promotional materials was too great for Starbucks to resist. Instead, Bux would have been much better off, and their customers would have been much happier, if they had cut back on the in-store marketing, and instead educated their employees about Akeelah and the Bee. That way, when a customer asked their opinion of the movie, the baristas could give a valid opinion on Akeelah, and create buzz for the movie naturally.

My advice to Howard? If you have a second movie promotion, scale back on the in-store marketing, and empower your baristas to ORGANICALLY create word-of-mouth buzz for the film. This way, you don't confuse/anger your customers with a barrage of in-store materials, and you shift from marketing TO the community, to marketing WITH your community.

Try it, you might like it!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

All my people right here, right now...they know what I mean

Notice what this A-Lister had to say about SethGate. Now note what this one did.

One embraced the community, one embraced Seth.

Thankfully, the blind embracing of A-Listers, which always reminded me of an insecure child clutching their security blanket, seems to be waning. Instead, I am excited to see more and more bloggers throwing aside labels and links and engaging and communicating with each other freely. I am seeing more and more blogs attempting to create and embrace their communities.

It has to be this way. As marketers, how can we convince our companies/clients/colleagues about the need to join the community, when we are devoting most of our time trying to get a link/comment from Seth?

We talk about the marketing theory of joining the community a lot here. But as we see from reading The Viral Garden, and any number of other blogs that the Viral Community overlaps to, it's not theory, it's an idea that works.

It's not about me, it's not about Seth, it's not about you. It's about the community.

It's about us. Know what I mean?

Let me tell you about the community

One thing I hate (well...dislike) about being on 3 blogs now, and all the other side-stuff is that it doesn't leave that much time for finding new blogs. But thankfully, I can still find some occasionally, or via linking, they find me. Hee-Haw Marketing has to be the best name for a blog I've seen in quite a while. Paul's off to a fast start, and I've already marked HHM.

Second, I've really been impressed with David's work at Logic+Emotion. He creates great visuals, and he understands the importance of joining the community. And he gets to attend kick-ass conferences, but more on that later...

Third, send congrats Miss Rogue's way, as Tara is going the indie route. Really seems like the perfect move at the perfect time for Tara, as her star is burning pretty damned brightly right now. There will be some very exciting reading on HorsePigCow in the coming weeks, I'm sure ;)

Fourth, I completely forgot to mention this earlier, but Mike Wagner of Own Your Brand! fame has become the latest edition to Daily Fix. Ms. Community wanted to be able to market Daily Fix as being the blog that had signed up every A-Lister in the blogosphere, but she scrapped the idea when she realized she'd have to run me off first.... ;)

Fifth,.....there's gotta be something '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' idea has been communicated to some of what I think are 'the right people' at the 'right places'. There's a couple more labels/artists I want to try to contact and see what happens, it's just a time issue.

BTW in a COMPLETELY unrelated's what one of the EDAs said about Jewel's marketing for her latest album (which is tanking big-time, I might add):
You know what? I'm so dumbfounded with this album. You have a perfectly good album from a perfectly good artist, and how do they promote it? NASCAR? Young and the Restless? Wal-Mart?

Give me a break. This album is a big bomb for a reason. It was barely promoted--no one I know knew that it was coming out--and next she wants to release a song that has zero chance at radio? Come on, "Only One Too" or "Drive to You," Jewel!

And come on, Irving! If you can't do better than NASCAR, you need to find a new job. I know you're a famed manager, but your demographics are WAY off this time.

Gee I coulda sworn we'd heard such talk somewhere before. The funny thing is, the EDAs are the absolute PERFECT avenue to promote Jewel via '100 CDs for 100 bloggers'. If I were Jewel's management, every member of that list would have had a signed and inscribed copy of Goodbye Alice in Wonderland in their hands a month before it was released. If not sooner. That one move alone would have guaranteed more sales than she has now (BTW GAIW sold less than 20,000 copies last week, its 4th week on the charts. Nuff said.), and could have saved her all the money she spent on crap like NASCAR appearances and being on soap operas.

Hell she could have saved more than that, I would have designed and executed the promotion for FREE for her, just to show that it could be done. Ah well, her loss will be someone else's gain....stay tuned.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A big step toward the top

Thanks to Toby at Diva Marketing for featuring me in this weekend's Blogger Stories. You definitely need to check out Blogger Stories, a GREAT idea by Toby to let bloggers tell their 'blogging story'. Fascinating reading!

If that wasn't enough, I'm now a member of the 'Marketing 2.0 A-Team'!

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 7

Here's the standings for Week 7, and these will be updated again next Monday.

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,662 (LW - 1)(+156)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 17,614 (LW - 2)(-213)
3 - Gaping Void - 18,782 (LW - 3)(-368)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,825 (LW - 4)(-109)
5 - Marketing Shift - 47,142 (LW - 5)(-386)
6 - HorsePigCow - 50,966 (LW - 6)(-3)
7 - Coolzor - 83,053 (LW - 7)(+12)
8 - Church of the Customer - 85,730 (LW - 8)(-1060)
9 - What's Next - 89,400 (LW - 9)(-2,436)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 94,692 (LW - 10)(+317)
11 - Emergence Marketing - 100,914 (LW - 11)(+957)
12 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 122,289 (LW - 12)(+433)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 122,829 (LW - 13)(+3,572)
14 - The Viral Garden - 128,134 (LW - 14)(+3,649)
15 - Diva Marketing - 154,343 (LW - 15)(-4,531)
16 - Marketing Roadmaps - 166,816 (LW - 16)(-8,773)
17 - FutureLab's Blog - 169,176 (LW - 19)(+21,634)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 179,661 (LW - 18)(+911)
19 - What's Your Brand Mantra - 186,524 (LW - 17)(-7,399)
20 - Network Marketing for Women - 226,297 (LW - 22)(+5,399)
21 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 227,067 (LW- 21)(+3,814)
22 - Marketing Begins At Home - 239,458 (LW - 20)(-8,925)
23 - B2Blog - 269,059 (LW - 24)(-1,464)
24 - WonderBranding - 271,890 (LW - 23)(-8,317)
25 - Ageless Marketing - 312,226 (LW - UR)

SethGate has spilled over to the Top 25 Marketing Blogs list a bit, as I've had a few people mention that if Seth doesn't have a blog, that he shouldn't be ranked. If I were doing this list solely for myself, I might agree. But as I've always said, this is a project for The Viral Garden's community, and since I am a part of that community, I'm not going to pull Seth. I still think he's a very smart guy, as do most people. And many bloggers have zero problem with anything that happened this weekend, or with him not allowing comments. So there's no need to change anything. To be perfectly honest, I have much more important things to concentrate on than Seth's blog/website/online brochure.

As for the rest of the Top 25, there seems to be a rift developing between the Top 14 and the rest of the Top 25. That could change next week as we wait to see what type of bounce Diva Marketing gets from being featured as Typepad's 'blog of the day' for yesterday, and as FutureLab continues their hot streak. Ageless Marketing finally cracks the Top 25, after barely missing the last 3 weeks, so congrats to David.

As always, next update is next Monday.

More on SethGate

Seth's decision to turn his back on his community is continuing to bite him.

First, here's a list of the blogs commenting on his refusal to have comments, and his explanation that he doesn't have time to go around correcting our stupidity.

Second, a huge kudo to Joe Jaffe for stepping up to the plate and calling Seth out on this one. I'd bet dollars to donuts that no other A-Lister will dare criticize Seth on this. My guess is most of them will either remain curiously silent, or pat Seth on the back for hiting the mute button on his readers.

Third, why the hell am I giving Seth such a hard time? It's true, I'm not a big fan of slamming another blogger, simply because it really serves no purpose. But I am also ALL about EMBRACING and JOINING your community.

Seth did the exact opposite on Saturday. In fact, he basically said that not only was he not going to allow his community to communicate with him, but that the REASON why he wasn't going to join his community, was that he didn't have time to go around correcting them.

Ie, he is daddy, and we are the silly kids that run around breaking everything and soiling our diapers. And he's in no mood to clean up after us.

Whatever. It still boggles my mind that a supposed 'marketing expert' would alienate his community by turning on comments, then NOTING the OUTSTANDING response to him doing so, then telling his community that if they want to leave comments, go to another blog and do it.

Seth my advice is to start appreciating your community....while you still have one.

Friday, June 02, 2006

What's the deal with Squidoo?

Seth Godin is really hard for me to get a fix on. He will sound like a genius for a handful of posts, then leave a stinker like his infamous 'we're talking too much' post about how bloggers need to post less (interesting viewpoint for a guy that leaves multiple posts a day). And don't even get me started on him not allowing comments...

So when I first heard about Squidoo, I got excited. I tried it out last fall as a beta tester, created a few lenses, then quickly wondered ' what?'. I'm still wondering if there is a way to get excited about Squidoo. Jordan is obviously a fan, but I can't see it. I've added a link to my 'Contagious Marketing!' lens on Squidoo, if you want to check it out.

Honestly, I haven't spent much time with Squidoo, because I can't see what it's 'unique value proposition' is. I did notice where they have added the ability to add RSS feeds, which is good, but in the end that's not enough. I keep thinking that the lens need a way to be more interactive, to allow the community to offer feedback.

Course then I think 'Kinda like a blog, right?'.

I just don't see where Squidoo is going to offer anything that someone else isn't already offering, and doing a better job than Squidoo could. And it looks like I'm not the only one that feels this way. Now I do see where Squidoo can help in Google rankings, but from my experience, my blog posts get better results than my Squidoo page.

But I think if we could find a way to add some interactivity into the mix, that Squidoo could go somewhere. I'm just not sure how to do that in a way that blogs, message boards, etc., aren't already offering. So to anyone out there that's a fan of Squidoo, what attracts you to the service? What are you getting from Squidoo that you can't get anywhere else, or what is Squidoo giving you more efficiently than anyone else? Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the service, but I'm definitely willing to listen if anyone can give me a reason to be converted!

UPDATE: As David points out, Seth has allowed comments on his latest post. I left my comment, which was: "Good to see you come down and join the 'noisy commons', Seth. Let's hope this is the start of your joining and embracing the community, and not a one-shot deal.".

If Seth is smart, he'll make comments a permanent fixture on his blog. If he's not, he won't. Here's his latest post, a good one.

SECOND UPDATE: Seth says no deal to comments. He has this to say to the noisy commons: "Commenters, feel free. But not here. Sorry."

Now you see what I mean about Seth leaving a great post, then a stinker. He opens up comments, which is immediately a hit with his fellow bloggers, and results in several, including myself, asking for this to be a permanent feature. Then he turns around in the very next post and closes them again.

The idea here is to JOIN the community, not to alienate them. Seth would have been wise to have never left either post.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Is this the best marketer in the blogosphere?

I have a list of around 75-100 blogs that I try to read daily. Around 30-40 of them I get to most days, the rest I will read probably 2-3 times a week. 2.0(Can I still say that?)....building communities....embracing communities....all that good stuff.

But once every week or so, I completely change gears. I read about....potty-training.....septic-tank replacement.....Mormons enamored with flatulence.....yard-selling while constipated, and I do it with a sense of total involvement and concentration as if I were trying to mentally determine the square root 3,245.57, while naming the states in reverse-alphabetical order.

And it's all Heather Armstrong's fault.

Heather has the very rare ability to make any topic she writes about, interesting as hell. I read Seth, Jordan, Ryan, Chris, Hugh, Tara, Guy, and I know I am going to read about marketing topics I am interested in, and want to learn more about.

But septic tank disasters? Potty nightmares? I couldn't care less, yet everytime I read Heather blogging about these subjects, time literally disappears. I become drawn closer and closer to the screen as if Captain Kirk had just told Chekov to activate the Dell Monitor Tractor Beam.

Heather is a stay-at-home-mom, writing for (mostly) stay-at-home-moms. Her blog has a very specific target market, and her readers are fanatical in their support for her. I have literally seen her get over 100 comments for an entry in the first HOUR after posting it.

So while Heather could likely make VCs and Squidoo fascinating blog topics, I'm not sure that Guy and Seth could handle showing up for work drunk, and beach towels flushed down the toilet, as deftly as Ms. Dooce does. Heather is IMO the best writer in the blogosphere, and she may be the best marketer as well.

Snakes on a Plane official website is live

Chris at MMM has the lowdown on New Line's official website for Snakes on a Plane, which is now live.

As Chris and many other bloggers have said all along, the best thing New Line can do to promote SoaP is not get in the way of what the online community has and is creating to market this movie.

With that being the criteria, Chris thinks the website has mixed results:
One of the two sections on the site right now is called "Fan Site of the Week" and links to a number of blogs and sites devoted to the movie. Good move, very community friendly. Less so is the second, called "Snakes Kit." It's where you can download wallpapers and other online swag for the movie. Pretty standard, right? But the studio seems to lose it by requiring - REQUIRING - people to register on the site in order to download the goods.

No studio I have seen in more than two years requires people to register to download stuff from the official site. You almost always have the option to register, but it's usually just to receive updates or other news. Not for access to basic functionality. That's a horrible, horrible move that I just can't understand.

And then Chris closes with this: "If someone from New Line would like to contact me about this I'd love to talk about it more with them. It would be interesting to hear the rational for this move as it completely escapes me."

My advice? Someone at New Line would be wise to shoot Chris an email.

Nissan exec slams auto industry for clinging to 'safe' marketing

Via Ad Age, Jan Thompson, the VP of Marketing for Nissan-North America, yesterday called out the auto industry for clinging to "a less risky approach to marketing,", leading to a big disparity in where automakers spend their ad dollars and consumers invest their time.

She added that Nissan is extending its relationships with MSN, Google, and Yahoo!, and pointed out that the automakers now account for a quarter of all annual advertising spending in the nation.

It's easy to see why. Television advertising costs, in particular, continue to skyrocket as the effectiveness of the medium decreases. Dinosaurs that aren't embracing non-traditional forms of marketing are panicking because they can't reach their customers, so they 'go with what they know', and that's 'traditional' advertising, such as the 30-Second spot. The other dinosaurs do the same, and the prices are bidded through the roof. Joe Jaffe had a great point recently that the cost of a 30-second spot during the season for American Idol cost the same as a 30-second spot during the 1998 Super Bowl....yet AI delivered a THIRD of the audience that the SB did.

Thompson added:"enjoy the revolution because we are all at the center of it."

Yep. Embrace the changing marketing landscape, or be consumed by it.

More on '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers'

It seems that my blogging about the idea of a music promotion aimed at bloggers, or '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' is finally starting to gain some traction, as I've gotten a few people discussing it here, on DF, and via email. Almost everyone agrees it's a great idea, but there are a couple of 'concerns' that have been raised that I wanted to address here:

1 - Why give away music to people that would buy the CD anyway? Why lose sales?

To be completely blunt, this is terribly short-sighted thinking. You don't focus on losing 100 CD sales upfront, you focus on how many sales you will GAIN on the backend. When Stormhoek gave away 100 bottles of wine last year, it could be said that they lost those sales. But on the backend, Hugh reported that Stormhoek's sales DOUBLED, in 'tens of thousands of cases'.

Let's say Stormhoek's 100 free bottles of wine promotion 'only' gave Stormhoek 10,000 extra cases sold. That means that giving away 100 bottles upfront, resulted in a minimum of 60,000-120,000 extra bottles sold. In reality, it was likely several hundred thousand bottles sold from this promotion.

The difference with the '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' example is, you are dealing with bloggers that are ALREADY fans of the product. Whereas the Stormhoek promotion was basically 'try it and see what you think', the CD promotion targets fans of the artist. Fans that are willing and WANTING to promote the artist and their music.

2 - How do you know which blogs to target? How do you know how many visitors each blog has?

It doesn't matter. This is why you go after a GROUP of bloggers, not individual ones. Don't think of it as targetting individual bloggers, think of it as targetting a COMMUNITY of bloggers. Again, the FIRST label to do this will be in the catbird's seat, because the promotion itself will be so revolutionary (money-grubbing labels are now GIVING AWAY music?!?), that the promotion will generate as much or more positive coverage in the blogosphere as the artist and artist's CD will. And that positive coverage will spillover to affect the label as a whole, which will transfer to all the label's artists as well.

Again that's the funny thing about bloggers, you ignore us (Dell-Hell) and we will flame you to ashes. Embrace us, and we'll sing your praises from the highest mountaintop. Let's be honest, most bloggers blog around with a 'no one takes us seriously' chip on their shoulders. If a company were to execute a promotion that DOES take them seriously, they will go out of their way to reward that effort.

It's only a matter of time before a label steps up to the plate and runs with this promotion. And the first one to do so is going to seriously make waves. As you can imagine, I have my own thoughts on which label(s) this would work best for, but we'll see what happens.