Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 41

Here's the standings for Week 41:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,123 (-111)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 15,581 (-692)(LW - 2)
3 - Gaping Void - 16,698 (-229)(LW - 3)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 17,600 (-510)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 31,212 (+295)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 46,054 (-443)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 55,925 (+1,614)(LW - 7)
8 - New School of Network Marketing - 65,940 (+1,490)(LW - 8)
9 - The Viral Garden - 72,329 (-1,942)(LW - 10)
10 - Coolzor - 75,529 (-5,907)(LW - 9)
11 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 77,164 (-3,918) (LW - 11)
12 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 88,437 (+11,881)(LW - 13)
13 - Logic + Emotion - 100,836 (-2,557)(LW - 12)
14 - What's Next - 116,066 (-9,298)(LW - 14)
15 - Church of the Customer - 129,896 (+1,153)(LW - 16)
16 - Jaffe Juice - 134,314 (-10,189)(LW - 15)
17 - Brand Autopsy - 138,565 (-2,876)(LW - 17)
18 - Diva Marketing - 144,831 (-3,098)(LW - 18)
19 - Marketing Nirvana - 148,086 (+1,877)(LW - 19)
20 - Marketing Headhunter - 148,559 (+3,418)(LW - 20)
21 - Spare Change - 196,375 (+8,539)(LW - 24)
22 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 196,631 (-8,849)(LW- 21)
23 - Experience Curve - 203,209 (+2,015)(LW - 22)
24 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 222,295 (LW - UR)
25 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 224,381 (-13,903)(LW - 25)

The same trends that have been dominating the Top 25 continue. The Top 6 again stands pat, but Converstations and Drew's Marketing Minute again have home-run weeks. Past that, there's a huge gap between #20 and #21, and #21-25 continues to show some weakness.

Big congrats to Paul McEnany as Hee-Haw Marketing debuts in the Top 25 at #24.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Adjab goes down swinging

Unfortunately, AOL is cutting loose some of their niche blogs as of today, with AdJab being one of the blogs that's being shut down. Chris Thilk, Tom Biro, Bob Sassone and Adam Finley give everyone their curtain calls today on the very appropriately titled 'One Last Jab'.

I honestly don't read advertising blogs as much as I used to since I'm no longer writing regularly for Beyond Madison Avenue, but when I did, AdJab was on a VERY short list of 'must-reads' for me and continued to be for everyone interested in ad blogs. Hate to see the blog go, but it will be exciting to see where the gang lands next.

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Ogilvy partners with Technorati to teach clients how to read blogs

Ogilvy and Technorati have partnered on a new initiative where Technorati will basically show Ogilvy how they can teach their clients to monitor blogs and use the content they find in their own campaigns. From the Technorati blog:
For bloggers and other citizen media creators it means new forms of distribution and awareness as brands increasingly enter the web as media sites and hubs of live web conversation. As we developed this product line it was clear that the best way to advance the state of the art was to show some of the worlds best creatives on what was possible and then work with them and major brands on how to build sites and advertising that reflect the conversations and passions of each brand's identity.

So basically, Ogilvy would rather work with Technorati to learn how to show clients how to read blogs, instead of just teaching clients how TO blog. Sounds like the difference between wanting to know what customers are saying about your brand, and wanting to understand WHY they are saying it.

One of the main reasons why I love the concept of companies joining their communities is because it leads to a real sense of interaction with their community of customers. And that interaction transforms BOTH parties.

It's one thing to search for blog postings about your company. It's quite another JOIN the blogosphere and to begin using the SAME tools in the SAME space that bloggers are. When companies enter the blogosphere, they shift from sending marketing messages TO their customers, to communicating WITH them. Not only that, but they THEN begin to RECEIVE the feedback that the community is sending back. That feedback and communication serves to transform the company's marketing processes, as the company begins to better understand the wants and needs of their community, by COMMUNICATING with them.

From the community's point of view, the blogging customers realize that the company has made an effort to better communicate with them, by entering their space and using their tools. That's great for brand equity. It also can help to create a sense of trust in the company, which leads to the community lowering its marketing guard and more freely communicating with the company.

Which leads to better marketing, which leads to better feedback, and so it goes. The end result is that by joining the community, the company becomes a community member itself, and over time, by satisfying its own wants and needs as a community member, it will also be meeting the wants and needs of its fellow community members, its customers.

So while a partnership with a blog-search company to better track blog conversations is a start, companies today can do so much better. Grab your shorts and jump in the water. You might not make the perfect entry, but your customers will appreciate the effort to communicate with them on their terms, using their tools, in their space.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Does blog traffic even matter anymore?

When trying to judge the health of our blogs, there are a few common variables that most of us like to use, such as:

1 - Traffic
2 - Links
3 - Feed readers
4 - Comments
5 - Alexa ranking

Now I think traffic is probably the most popular measurement tool that most of us use, or have been told to use.

But is it the most accurate? Or does it matter at all?

I ask because I started doing some digging the other day as I realized that The Viral Garden had passed the 10-month mark. After 10 months of blogging, I found that for the past 9 months or so, traffic here has been in a fairly steady range, anywhere from 125-250 visitors a day on average. January is going to be the best month ever for traffic here, but it barely edges out last July for the top spot.

This seemed odd to me, because the blog appears to be growing at a fairly steady pace.

So I started checking out the other above listed variables. Here's what I found:

1 - Traffic, up about 20% over the past 9 months

2 - Links, up approximately 300% over the past 9 months

3 - Feed readers, up approximately 650% over the past 9 months

4 - Comments, up approximately 50% over the past 9 months

5 - Alexa ranking, from 81K in July, to 70K now

Notice that Alexa, which measures traffic, is also up only slightly. But feed readers, links, and comments, are all up sharply over the past 9 months.

The feed readers are interesting to me, because logic dictates that anyone that wants to subscribe to a blog's feed, does so to read its content regularly. So the blog's traffic only growing slightly, while number of feed readers us growing much quicker, suggests to me that many of the people that are discovering The Viral Garden for the first time, are subscribing to the feed. So they aren't showing up in the traffic numbers anymore, and shift to the 'feed readers' section. Case in point, on Sunday, I had 152 visitors, and 155 feed readers. I think that's a good thing.

Also, comments are increasing. Last summer, there were around 4.5 comments per post. Now there are just over 7 comments per post. That, coupled with the increase in feed readers, suggests that there are more regular readers here, and that they are commenting more frequently. I also think this is a very good thing.

So I guess it's up for each of us to decide why we blog and how we judge the success of our efforts. And we also must each decide what value, if any, we place on our blog's traffic. I think extra traffic is very valuable, as long as it leads to extra readers and more involvement from those readers. But I continue to think that focusing on traffic isn't the answer for most of us, it's focusing on readers and how we can each find a way to contribute to the larger community.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Mind The Gap Episode 3 is FINALLY here

Er well...actually it's HERE!

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Ballmer on innovation versus profits

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is on CNBC right now, and Bill Griffith asked him if Microsoft was more concerned with creating innovative products, or making money. He said that Microsoft was more interested in making innovative products that would excite Microsoft's community of customers and get them talking. That in turn, would result in Microsoft making money.

Kinda sounds like satisfying the customers's wants and needs directly, so they satisfy your needs indirectly, doesn't it?

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Where the hell is the third episode of Mind The Gap?!?

Unfortunately, it's being held hostage by GoDaddy. I've recorded the episode and have been trying all weekend to upload it to the GoDaddy Quick Podcast server thingie, but it never goes through. The first 2 episodes went up fine, but for some reason it doesn't like this one (which is the same size as the other 2). So I'll hopefully have it up by tomorrow.

But in the meantime, you can check out the new blog I've set up just for Mind The Gap, and I've also added the ability to let you play the episodes right on the blog.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Sammy Jankis knows good marketing

The tattoos covering Leonard's body create a bizarre visual, but are a necessity. They are part of his 'system' of reminders. Reminders of information long-lost due to a freak injury, all various lifelines that secure him to a point in time when his memory didn't dictate that his life must restart every 5 minutes.

But for now, he is in a hotel room. He doesn't know where he was 5 minutes ago, and 5 minutes from now he won't remember being here, but for now, he is in a hotel room.

The phone rings and Leonard immediately grabs the receiver.

"Who is this?" he asks.

We then see Leonard explaining to the unknown caller the events of his life that led up to his injury. An injury that occurred during a robbery at his home. An injury that took Leonard's short term memory, that occurred during a robbery that would end up taking his wife's life. Leonard explains all this to an unknown caller.

As Leonard is having his discussion with the unknown caller, he continues to scratch and pick at a bandage on his arm. Eventually, the tape begins to give way, and Leonard notices something black on his arm under the bandage, and quickly removes it to reveal a tattoo:

Never Answer The Phone

A shocked Leonard stops talking in mid-sentence, holds the receiver for a second then asks "Who is this?"

The unknown caller immediately hangs up.

Leonard's confused look tells us that he's thinking the same thing we are; "What the hell just happened?"

If you watch the movie Memento, that's a question you'll ask yourself early and often. It's one of my favorite movies, I've probably watched it 50 times, and I still can't tell you what happens. Neither can the lead character, Lenny.

And that's what makes Memento such a brilliant film; we see the movie as if it's coming from Leonard's eyes. We have to start over every 5 minutes (you'll have to watch it to understand), we don't know who is telling us the truth, and who is lying. We struggle to make sense of the world we are seeing, 5 minutes at a time.

Good marketing is a lot like Memento. Just as Memento lets us see the world from the lead character's point of view, good marketing rests in seeing the world from the customer's point of view. In realizing that the customer's point of view probably involves wants and needs completely different from our own.

But that can begin to change if we start to see the world through their eyes. If like the audience watching Lenny, we begin to relate to the lead character, the customer.

So give it, and Memento, a shot. If nothing else, you'll have seen a great movie, even if you have no idea what just happened.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

No advertising is no problem for Webkinz

No idea what Webkinz are? Good, I didn't want to be the only one. Apparently they are wildly popular children's stuffed toys. And they are also a testament to the power of social media in the hands of a company's customers.

According to Ad Age, Webkinz does no advertising for the stuffed animals. But what they do have, is a devoted network of retailers, and a very catchy viral component. Each Webkinz comes with a 'secret code' which the child owner can input at Webkinz's site. Doing so gives the owner a cyber version of their toy, which they can clothe and feed with 'KinzCash' they collect at the site by winning games and solving puzzles. The owners can create virtual 'playpens' where fellow owners can join the kids and share and play with each others Webkinz.

And a look at the site's Alexa info shows that traffic has been steadily climbing for months.

The 'media push' for the stuffed toys hasn't come from traditional marketing, but instead in the form of blog posts, newspaper stories, and mentions on shows such as "Good Morning America," "Regis & Kelly" and "Rachael Ray." Ah the power of good ole fashioned word-of-mouth.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 40

Here's the standings for Week 40:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,012 (-38)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 14,889 (-45)(LW - 2)
3 - Gaping Void - 16,469 (+233)(LW - 3)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 17,090 (-229)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 31,507 (+102)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 45,611 (-1,676)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 57,539 (+2,325)(LW - 7)
8 - New School of Network Marketing - 67,430 (+1,715)(LW - 10)
9 - Coolzor - 69,622 (-5,974)(LW - 8)
10 - The Viral Garden - 70,387 (-1,369)(LW - 9)
11 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 73,246 (LW - UR)
12 - Logic + Emotion - 98,279 (-1,529)(LW - 11)
13 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 100,318 (+11,674)(LW - 13)
14 - What's Next - 106,768 (-78)(LW - 12)
15 - Jaffe Juice - 124,125 (-3,202)(LW - 14)
16 - Church of the Customer - 131,049 (+49,741)(LW - 21)
17 - Brand Autopsy - 135,689 (-5,298)(LW - 15)
18 - Diva Marketing - 141,733 (+622)(LW - 16)
19 - Marketing Nirvana - 149,963 (+2,693)(LW - 18)
20 - Marketing Headhunter - 151,977 (+5,726)(LW - 17)
21 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 187,782 (-7,418)(LW- 20)
22 - Experience Curve - 190,602 (+2,015)(LW - 22)
23 - Make Marketing History - 203,315 (-25,894)(LW - 19)
24 - Spare Change - 204,914 (+3,459)(LW - 24)
25 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 210,478 (-9,680)(LW - 23)

Fairly decent week for the Top 25. Converstations just shows no signs of slowing down, and will be within shouting distance of the Top 6 in a couple more weeks at this rate. Drew's Marketing Minute had another solid week, and Church of the Customer jumps back up again. Notice that it now takes an Alexa ranking of at least 151K to make the Top 20.

Influential Interactive Marketing is the week's lone new entry, and makes a huge debut at #11.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Is attempting to kill off 'social media' about accuracy, or ego?

Apparently I am woefully out of touch with what the A-Listers have to say(fancy that), but it seems that there's been a steady campaign lately by some to have the term 'social media' put to pasture.

Steve Rubel has probably been the most vocal, and he adds this:
The problem with all of these balkanized phrases is that they connote that the content created by digitally empowered individuals is somehow bush league. It's like we're a separate entity from the rest of the so-called "mainstream" journalists, filmmakers, photographers, etc. who do what we do and get paid more for it. We sit in a special dish like leftover meatloaf so we need a special name. If you use these phrases you're unintentionally perpetuating that myth.

I've been chronicling the changes in media over the last three years on my blog and been in awe of it even longer. In 2004, 2005 and into 2006, as "we" became more influential, the phrases were helpful as the world began to take notice. But now, it's different. We've arrived.

We have?

Robert Scoble is one of the better-known bloggers. Adam Curry might be the most famous podcaster. If you ask 100 random Americans if they have heard of EITHER of these people, I will be shocked if more than 2-3 admit to knowing who either of them are. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if none of the 100 had heard of either of them.

It strikes me that this latest attempt to stop using the phrase 'social media' is more about ego and elitism than it is about accuracy. Do some people misuse the label, perhaps intentionally? Of course. But the bigger issue here is the accessibility of the idea. Blogs, podcasts, and other forms of created content that fall under the 'social media' umbrella are wonderful communication and expression tools. By giving them a label such as 'social media' (which IMO is still completely accurate), it makes it easier to spread the idea and concept to others. Why pull the rug out from under an idea that's starting to seep into the collective conscious on the nation, just as they appear to be understanding it?

What's more important, to expose as many people as possible to these ideas, so that they too can find and add their own voice to the conversation, or to be seen as the 'thought leader' that decided that the term was no longer worthy of us?

The label 'social media' makes the idea of these wonderful communication tools more accessible to the masses. That means more people are exposed to the concept of blogs and podcasts and other forms of social-media, and as a result, more people enter this space, and find and share their own voices with us.

More participation is a GOOD thing from where I sit. And I guess I get a bit cranky when I hear of anything that even hints at wanting to shut others off from having an invitation to this party.

UPDATE: Tony adds: "Social Media has arrived, its here to stay. Get used to it.
(repeat while chanting)."

Yep. Personally I'd rather hold the gate open than attempt to be a gatekeeper to this movement.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

SnoCap speaks out on MyStore, viral component

This is one of the many reasons why blogging is such an exciting platform.

David Rowley, who works for SnoCap, saw my post yesterday about SnoCap's partnership with Merlin and MySpace, and specifically Jordan's comments, and posted a further explanation of just what MyStore can do on his blog:
Sure, it's very cool that artists can sell tracks directly to their fans from their MySpace page. But the real potential is that fans can grab the store and put it on their own pages. Fans are incredible, and when artists reach out to them directly, they will do anything to promote them and get some attention.

I couldn't agree more David. Music fans are simply evangelists waiting to be empowered to become marketing partners for their favorite artists. I told several labels this almost verbatim when explaining why '100 CDs For 100 Bloggers' would be a huge hit. Very exciting to hear about this viral component of MyStore, makes a great idea even better. Hopefully David will stop by and leave a comment telling us more about how MyStore will work.

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Hey look kids! Free buried treasure!

One of my 'blogging resolutions' for this year is to really work on my blog-post titles. I wanted to focus on this, because I assume everyone else reads blogs in the same way I do. I scan titles. If the title is at least mildly interesting, or if the post appears to be about a subject I am interested in, I will scan the first paragraph or so, then move on if my attention isn't captured. I know I totally have ADD when I read blogs, but by my unscientific guess, a post's title has about 0.78 seconds to convince me to read the post.

So why does it seem that so many bloggers couple solid posts, with a bland title? I am as guilty of this as anyone, many times I will write the post first, then slap on a title in a few second simply because I'm ready to get the post up on my blog. I forget that the title is actually the 'gatekeeper' of the post. The title decides if the post itself merits our attention.

And when you are trying to go through the 348 posts backed up in your Bloglines feeds, how important does that title become?

So what are your keys for writing a great blog post title? As I said, this is definitely an area I want to work on this year. And which bloggers do you think do a great job writing their post titles, and why?

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Monday, January 22, 2007

SnoCap letting indie artists sell their music on MySpace

Ever wonder what happened to Napster founder Shawn Fanning? He's still in the music distribution game, but this time he's with startup SnoCap. SnoCap has developed an online technology it calls MyStore, which allows artists to sell their music from a website.

SnoCap has now entered into 2 very interesting partnerships. The first is with Merlin, a new agency formed to represent the music industry's independent artists. SnoCap is going to let independent artists that Merlin represents sell their music online as downloadable MP3s. But they still need the place to use the MyStore technology.

That's where MySpace comes in.

MySpace also entered into an agreement to let Merlin's artists sell their music via MySpace, using SnoCap's MyStore technology. MySpace and SnoCap had already partnered late last year to let artists use its MyStore technology, and the agreement between SnoCap and Merlin to let its artists sell their music via MySpace will launch in 'the near future'.

Jeremy, lead singer for The Favorites, has some interesting info on the deal, and the email that Tom sent out to artists on MySpace explaining how the partnership would work.

I am assuming this means artists will be able to sell the MP3s directly from their artist pages on MySpace. What I'm also wondering is if this could eventually led to artists letting fans on MySpace sell their music on their MySpace pages as well. This could open the 'peer to peer' floodgates that Terry McBride may have been hinting at when I interviewed him last year. It would also be a great way for bands to empower their fans to market for them.

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AT&T kills Cingular, gives us your grandfather's cellphone

A merger with Cingular made AT&T a player in the wireless sector, now their ego has taken them right back out of the race.

AT&T has decided to kill off the Cingular brand, replacing it with their own. The reason?

“What consumer and business customers want is a single provider of services for the way they live and work today,” said Wendy Clark, senior vice president for advertising at AT&T in San Antonio, “and if it’s one company, they want it under one name.”

That's great Wendy, but you picked the wrong name. Cingular has brand equity. It is seen as young, hip, reliable. When you think of AT&T, you think of landlines, rotary dials, and the Reagan administration.

Is there ANYONE outside of the AT&T board room that would rather have the AT&T name on their cellphone than Cingular? I've been pretty satisfied with my Cingular service the past few years, but the first time I get a bill with the big bold blue AT&T logo on it, I'm going to start considering Verizon. It will be an involuntary reaction.

Did Steve Jobs know this was coming when he made Cingular the 'exclusive wireless provider' of the iPhone? Talk about a branding mismatch! What's next, re-animating the deceased Orville Redenbacher to have him sell popcorn while rocking out to the tunes on his iPod?

Check out Greg's take on AT&T's move.

UPDATE: Valeria adds a great 'round-up' post about AT&T re-branding Cingular at Conversation Agent.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

What is 'Good Marketing'?

I've seen some discussion lately of what 'good' and 'bad' marketing is. Why marketing is 'evil', etc. To me it comes down to this:

"Good marketing is any effort by a company/individual/association/etc to DIRECTLY satisfy the wants and needs of its customer"

I don't think it has to get any more complicated than that.

But the hitching point is that 'directly' part. Most marketers want to satisfy their OWN wants and needs directly, and let satisfying the customer be a byproduct. Turning it around and using your marketing as a tool to directly satisfy the wants and needs of the community takes a pretty big leap of marketing faith.

Very simple example: Tim recently posted on Daily Fix about his disgust at going to a local gas station, and being bombarded by ads from the gas pump as he was fueling up. The commercials were there to satisfy the gas station's wants and needs directly. The station knew that while Tim was fueling, he was a 'captive audience', so he HAD to listen to the station's commercial. And Tim knew it as well, and resented the station pushing commercials on him that he didn't want to hear.

Now on the other hand, I asked what would have happened if the station had instead offered free hand sanitizer at every pump? That directly solves a problem that many customers have, getting back in their car after filling up, with hands that smell like gas. And that have touched the same pump that thousands of other strangers have.

The commercials satisfy the station's wants and needs directly. The hand sanitizer satisfies the wants and needs of the customer directly. All other things being equal, which would make you more likely to give a gas station your business, free ads, or free hand sanitizer?

Satisfy your customer's wants and needs directly, and s/he will satisfy YOUR wants and needs INDIRECTLY.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Music sales fall again, industry blames file sharers, again

Maybe it's just me, but I coulda sworn they shut down Napster in its original form as a P2P file sharing site around 2002. I ask because it seems that whenever the music industry has had disappointing music sales since then, they continue to blame it on those damned illegal music downloads.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has released its 2007 Digital Music Report, where it said digital music sales almost doubled in 2006, and were expected to account for a quarter of all sales worldwide by 2010.

But it also reported that overall music sales fell by 4 percent in the first half of 2006. Reason? The report says it's due to illegal music downloads, and 'competition for consumer spending'.

As always with the music industry, this is a control issue. In an era where customers are more empowered than ever to communicate online, thanks to social media, the industry continues to fight giving them the ability to share and promote music. Sales of digital music through iTunes continues to surge, but songs on iTunes still come with DRM, which is designed to 'stop piracy', but really stops users from listening to, and sharing their music with others as they would like. And as we all know, word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of promotion, and DRM puts a serious damper on the ability of music fans to promote their favorite music to others.

Likewise, artists themselves can't control how their own music is distributed unless they own their own music, which many artists do not. This is another reason why I like what Terry McBride is doing with Nettwerk with his artists such as Barenaked Ladies. Terry is attempting to move as many of his artists as possible to their own label, which gives the artist complete control over their music, and how it is distributed. Artists like the Barenaked Ladies can then let fans promote their music via peer to peer methods such as email and IMs, or via podcasts like Mind The Gap.

But until the music industry realizes that the average music fan isn't the enemy, and instead could be a marketing partner to help grow music sales, we'll continue to wonder how digital sales can boom, while overall sales are flat. This is another reason why I love following music marketing/distribution, because I believe that eventually, a light-bulb will go off somewhere and the industry will suddenly realize that LESS control over how music is distributed equals MORE sales. I think it's going to be pretty exciting to be a music fan when that day finally arrives.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 39

Here's the standings for Week 39:

1 - Seth's Blog - 4,974 (+53)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 14,844 (-594)(LW - 2)
3 - Gaping Void - 16,702 (+179)(LW - 4)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 16,861 (-415)(LW - 3)
5 - Marketing Shift - 31,609 (+998)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 43,935 (-1,147)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 59,864 (+4,338)(LW - 8)
8 - Coolzor - 63,648 (-3,321)(LW - 7)
9 - The Viral Garden - 69,018 (-1,551)(LW - 9)
10 - New School of Network Marketing - 69,145 (+2,424)(LW - 10)
11 - Logic + Emotion - 96,750 (-7,265)(LW - 11)
12 - What's Next - 106,690 (+1,350)(LW - 12)
13 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 111,992 (+30,991)(LW - 15)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 120,923 (+7,640)(LW - 13)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 130,391 (-6,773)(LW - 14)
16 - Diva Marketing - 142,355 (+18,303)(LW - 17)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 157,703 (+18,283)(LW - 21)
18 - Marketing Nirvana - 159,583 (+2,693)(LW - 18)
19 - Make Marketing History - 177,421 (+4,874)(LW - 23)
20 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 180,364 (-8,582)(LW- 20)
21 - Church of the Customer - 180,790 (-33,977)(LW - 16)
22 - Experience Curve - 192,617 (-11,686)(LW - 22)
23 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 200,798 (-13,456)(LW - 24)
24 - Spare Change - 208,373 (+2,743)(LW - 25)
25 - Emergence Marketing - 209,741 (-39,451)(LW - 19)

The Top 25 was off a bit this week, with about half up, half down. Seth dipped his Alexa ranking under 5K for I believe the first time. Mike Sansone's Converstations just shows no signs of slowing down. Will be interesting to see if it can move higher than #7, and the blog enters 'rarified air' as it sneaks up on the Top 6.

Drew's Marketing Minute just knocked the cover off the ball again this week. In fact blogs #12-19 were very strong. Make Marketing History capitalized on a few blogs in front of it being off, and jumped 4 spots.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Baidu, EMI partner to stream free music in China

Slowly but surely.

The Hollywood Reporter has the dish on a new partnership between EMI Music and Chinese search engine Baidu that will allow Baidu users to stream music from Chinese artists. The music will be made available via a music-themed search channel, and will be ad-supported with the revenue being split. The two are also considering an option that would involve free music downloads.

I've already blogged about how CBS is using YouTube to stream content, and I also talked about the network's deal with Slingbox to allow users to upload CBS content, on the latest episode of Mind the Gap. As music labels see how networks are enjoying increased viewership from seeding content on YouTube, they will hopefully begin to realize that there are other profitable distribution channels available besides the compact disc and digital download.

I think in 2007, especially in the first half of this year, we'll see plenty of networks following CBS's lead and begin making more content available for free on the net. Music labels will likely stand on the sidelines until it becomes painfully obvious that this idea of making music available for free CAN result in increased sales.

Hells bells I am having to convince music labels to ALLOW me to promote their artists' music via Mind The Gap.

*sigh* Ah well, kicking and screaming...

VR pic via

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MasiGuy says that Saturn Sucks

I am admittedly coming in late on Tim's recent problems with his Saturn VUE, and Saturn dealership. Tim recalls the story from start to finish(with an assist from MasiWife). It seems there was a problem with the SUV's computer, which meant that the car's engine would literally shut off WHILE BEING DRIVEN! So Tim would instantly lose the ability to steer AND brake. Nice! Over the course of the next several weeks, Tim fought with the dealership to do the right thing every step of the way, including paying a thousand for a new computer, only to discover that the 'repair' didn't work because the dealership had put the computer in BACKWARDS!

As best I can tell, the end result was that the Saturn dealership repaired the computer a SECOND time, gave Tim a rental while they were, and Saturn offered their apology with....wait for it....4 free coupons for free oil changes from ANY Saturn dealership!

I'm sure from Saturn's point of view, they feel vindicated. The guys' SUV broke, they fixed it, well not the first time, but they apologized for it and gave him $100 (because we all know that $100 worth of coupons is as good as cash, right?). The bottom line is that Saturn approached this entire process from what was best from THEIR point of view, not Tim's. And recall that the entire time Tim is dealing with this frustrating process, he has Saturn's brand mantra of 'A Different Kind of Car, a Different Kind of Car Company' ringing in his ears.

As we all know, businesses are frequently leery of going 'the extra mile' for customers, unless they can see a number on their balance sheet that tells them EXACTLY how much money they will gain from treating their customers right. But here's the flipside, how much money will Saturn LOSE from Tim's experience?

One of the posts that Tim left during this customer service ordeal included 'I hate Saturn' in the title. I decided to do a Google search for the term 'I hate Saturn', and sure enough, Tim's post is now the FOURTH result from Google for that term, with the first three concerning the book 'Why I Hate Saturn'.

Now the question for Saturn is: What dollar amount would you put on the business that your automaker will lose worldwide, as a result from that one blog post from one dis-satisfied customer? That dollar amount will no doubt be many many times what you got from Tim. Now the flipside is, your company could have likely spent a FRACTION of that money on ensuring that Tim's experience was handed as smoothly as possible, putting HIS concerns and fears and frustrations at the fore-front throughout. The end result is that you would have had a new BRAND EVANGELIST for your company, and that 'I hate Saturn' post would have very likely been replaced with an 'I love my Saturn!' post from Tim.

Instead we have Saturn's crappy products and crappy customer service ringing all over the blogosphere.

Satisfy your customers' wants and needs directly, and they will satisfy your company's wants and needs indirectly. Companies that attempt to satisfy their wants and needs first, especially post-purchase, get what Saturn is getting now.

And I guess this won't change until companies can plug in a number next to 'Putting the customer first' on their balance sheet and understand the direct monetary benefit. Again, the benefit comes indirectly, and until companies understand that, we'll likely keep seeing more 'I hate Saturn' posts than we will the 'I love Saturn!' variety.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Brand Ambassadors and Community Evangelists Run Amok!

I have a new premium article up at Marketing Profs; "Ten Steps to Creating a Brand Ambassador Program". You'll need to have a premium Marketing Profs account to view it.

At Daily Fix, my latest post there asks "Where Are the Community Evangelists?", and centers around what happened when Paul went to his local Kohls, and the aftermath. More background on the story at Hee-Haw Marketing here and here, and Ben at Church of the Customer also mentions it. Great stuff, and really shows the power of the blogosphere, and the consequences for companies that ignore this space.

In the comments to my DF post, 'IB Rich' asks:"As a retail company, isn't every Kohl's employee on the floor effectively a "community evangelist"? I don't know how they train their sales associates, but they already have so many opportunities to interact and evangelize with customers."

My response was: "I think the problem is, too many retailers focus more on teaching the associates how to take the customer's money back to management, and not their feedback."

Sad but true. If the interaction between a sales associate and a customer doesn't end with the customer handing the associate their money, it's usually viewed as a failure.

Pic via Project Photography

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Barenaked Ladies Slingboxing in Kohls with The Donnas!

AKA Mind The Gap Episode 2!(Which you can download RIGHT HERE!)

In the second Collector's Item edition of Mind The Gap I look at how Kohl's is telling Paul the would-be evangelist to please go away, how CBS is actually empowering its community to become its marketing partner, and sandwich both inbetween a kickass intro from The Donnas, and new music from The Barenaked Ladies!

And all this can be yours in less than 15 minutes!

Here are the World Famous Mind The Gap Show Notes!

00:00 Intro: "Who Invited You?" - The Donnas

00:23 Paul's trip to Kohls, and what happens when companies don't listen to their blogging customers

05:09 CBS partnering with Slingbox to allow users to upload snippets of CBS content to the internet

09:33 Close: "Easy" - Barenaked Ladies

Buy the music featured in this episode of Mind The Gap HERE:

"Who Invited You?" - The Donnas (Download live version for FREE HERE)

"Easy" - Barenaked Ladies

Both songs are also available through iTunes.

As always, hints, comments and laughter at my accent is appreciated.

And again, you can download Episode 2 of Mind The Gap by clicking here!

Extra mentions: Brand Experience Lab

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thin-Slicing the spreading of ideas, and the creation of memes

Roger is on a "Thin-slicing" kick. This was inspired by a request from branding-expert Mike Wagner to create his own thin-slicing post. Mike explains that thin-slicing is "a neat cognitive trick that involves taking a narrow slice of data, just what you can capture in the blink of an eye, and letting your intuition do the work for you. It's the ability to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience."

Roger has created a 'thin-slicing exercise' for several bloggers, asking them some very interesting questions. Mine was: "How do you "thin-slice" whether an idea has a "meme virus" quality?"

I think this is one of the aspects of blogging that most of us would agree is fascinating; attempting to determine why some posts/ideas seem to take off, while others do not. From my experience, here's some of the factors I believe contribute to an idea being 'meme-worthy'

1. - Keep it simple. The easier an idea is to relate to others, the more likely it will be spread.

2. - The idea provides a clear benefit to others. We want to help others, and we also want to be seen as the person that brings good ideas to others.

3. - The person that benefits the most from the idea being spread is NOT the sender. Remember you're asking someone to take time out of their day, to communicate your idea to others. Unless these people can clearly see how THEY benefit from doing so, they likely won't. Sure your immediate circle of blogging friends might send your idea out there, but when it gets past your buds, will others that come in contact with the idea that have no contact with you, want to spread your idea? That's when an idea turns into a meme, when it gets out in the community and is still being spread.

4. - The idea revolves around a concept that other people are familiar, and interested in. We all have certain topics that naturally interest us, and that we seek out information about. If your idea concerns something that I am passionate about, the odds are very good that I'll make an effort to share your idea with others.

5. - Does your idea contribute to the community? This is a big reason why the 'Z-List' became a meme. Everyone that found and added to the 'Z-List' understood that they were helping others by spreading the idea.

6. - Is your idea really an idea? Can others read your idea and immediately tell why it is significant, and why others should be made aware of it?

Thanks for including me in this Roger, and to everyone else, what are your tips for having an idea turn into a meme? What has worked for you?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Oh Citizen Marketers, Where Art Thou?

Ah that marketing dynamo CK. As expected, her Book Club at Marketing Profs. is off to an absolutely smashing start! CK's Book Club launched today at Marketing Profs, and the book everyone is chatting up a storm about is Citizen Marketers, by Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell of Church of the Customer fame.

There are already numerous threads, all reviewing the book, and discussing the concepts that Ben and Jackie review in Citizen Marketers. Some of my favorite threads are reviewing the book, the importance of companies monitoring the blogosphere, and the value that citizen marketing gives the community.

So step over to the Book Club and give us your 2 cents. I've already seen a ton of my favorite marketing and business bloggers joining the party, but it's still early and there's plenty of marketing gurus that haven't stopped by yet. So here's my invitation to David Armano, Roger von Oech, Mike Wagner, Joseph Jaffe, Jordan Behan, Chris Thilk and everyone else to come join the fun!

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The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 38

Here's the standings for Week 38:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,027 (+30)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 14,250 (+1,013)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 16,446 (+61)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 16,881 (+184)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 32,607 (+301)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 42,788 (-50)(LW - 6)
7 - Coolzor - 60,327 (-175)(LW - 7)
8 - Converstations - 64,202 (+3,339)(LW - 8)
9 - The Viral Garden - 67,467 (+1,514)(LW - 9)
10 - New School of Network Marketing - 71,569 (+720)(LW - 10)
11 - Logic + Emotion - 89,485 (+142)(LW - 12)
12 - What's Next - 108,040 (+9,004)(LW - 13)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 113,283 (+4,427)(LW - 14)
14 - Brand Autopsy - 123,618 (-802)(LW - 15)
15 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 142,983 (+39,916)(LW - 23)
16 - Church of the Customer - 146,813 (+47,890)(LW - 25)
17 - Diva Marketing - 160,658 (+3,406)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Nirvana - 162,276 (+18,273)(LW - 19)
19 - Emergence Marketing - 170,290 (-15,596)(LW - 16)
20 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 171,782 (+3,141)(LW- 18)
21 - Marketing Headhunter - 175,986 (+5,960)(LW - 20)
22 - Experience Curve - 180,931 (+1,175)(LW - 21)
23 - Make Marketing History - 182,295 (-74)(LW - 22)
24 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 187,342 (+62)(LW - 24)
25 - Spare Change - 211,116 (LW - UR)

Another strong week as the Top 5 are all up, and Creating Passionate Users dips their Alexa ranking under 15K for the first time. Also, Converstations shows no signs of slowing down, and could make a run at joining the Top 5 at this rate in a few more weeks.

Past the Top 10, 2 giant leaps by Drew's Marketing Minute, and Church of the Customer. Drew's was organic, but with CoC, I didn't realized that Ben and Jackie had changed URLs, and their links here from now on will reflect that. Marketing Nirvana seems to be in the middle of a comeback, and has a very nice move up.

Spare Change is the lone new entry, re-entering the countdown at #25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Capessa: Community-empowerment, or deceptive marketing?

Capessa is an online community featuring blogs and message boards 'by women and for women', where women discuss health/family/money/career issues. The community is co-sponsored by Yahoo.

Now the problem I have is, the site is ALSO co-sponsored by Proctor and Gamble. And while Yahoo's sponsorship is clearly noted on the site, P&G's is not. At the very botton of the site in small print is this notation:"Capessa is produced by The ZiZo Group, Inc. for Procter & Gamble Productions, Inc." Also, P&G products are advertised on the site.

But perhaps most troubling to me is, P&G is monitoring the user's contributions to the forums, without telling them they are doing so. "This is not about selling products. It's about better understanding of consumers and learning about their needs and habits," P&G spokeswoman Robyn Schroeder explained. "The more we learn about these consumers, the more it will allow us to create better products for their needs."

So why not just tell them that?

Why not be upfront about your intentions and let community members know that P&G is co-sponsoring the site? Let the women that contribute know that P&G is becoming involved in the community as a way to help women get more information about issues that are important to them, and to learn from each other. And in return, P&G can explain that they will be able to better serve their customers' wants and needs, based on their contributions to Capessa.

Why not just tell the truth? Maybe I'm naive, but I think the community would not only accept your actions, but appreciate your efforts to learn more about them, while providing a service that benefits them.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Podcasting won't take off until it's easier

When I talked to Terry McBride a few months ago, I asked him if he thought that podcasting was primed to be the next growth area in social media, especially as a tool to market music. He said he didn't think so, that he was leaning more toward peer-to-peer recommendation services such as IM, text messaging, and emails.

After spending the last few months(yes months) getting a podcast off the ground, I can say that I now agree completely with Terry, podcasting won't see any explosive growth until the entire creation process is made MUCH simplier.

Since the first episode of Mind the Gap went live last Friday(Click HERE to download) , many of you have emailed me to ask me how hard it was to get started, so there is obviously interest out there in podcasting. I think it's only natural for bloggers to want to branch out into other areas of social media.

From my experience, there are 4 stages to getting a podcast started:

1. - Research. Both for equipment necessary, and software you'll need to get going.

2. - After you get the equipment and software, then you have to play with both and get your podcast recorded. Of course there's the prep time as you flesh out the format of your show and its content.

3. - Post-production, editing.

4. - Selecting a host(server) for your podcast.

And also in my experience, all 4 stages were a headache. First there was the research phase. Since I have a PC, the software side was relatively painless, as everyone said use Audacity. Fine. But when I started checking out podcasting forums to see what equipment I would need, I ran into total confusion. Some people said all I needed was a cheap headset from Wal-Mart (I tried this path, it didn't work). Some said I needed a USB mic. Some said I needed a mixer. Some said I needed a pop-filter. Some said I needed a spider-mount, and that takes a stand.

Whew. After doing some more research, I decided that I wanted a good condenser mic, and I needed something to put it on (a stand), and a mount and pop-filter. I started looking for packages that would include all this, as I assumed these would be plentiful. They weren't. I finally found a kit on eBay that consisted of all Samson products, which I had been told were high quality. The kit had everything I needed, and was at a good price ($150), so I grabbed it. And I have been thrilled with it, it's a great kit, but again it took almost a month of research to figure out exactly what I needed.

The next stage is fleshing out the podcast's content and format. In my case there was a ton of trial and error involved. I spent about a week trying to record the entire show (about 10 mins) in one run-through. This of course resulted in plenty of 'do-overs' 30 seconds into recording. I finally got adept enough at using Audacity to figure out how to record the show instead in smaller segments, and after I got to this point, the recording phase went much quicker.

The third stage was the post-production, editing stage. For me, this was mainly removing sections where I screwed up, or 'dead air', and inserting the music tracks. I'd say this section only lasted a couple of days.

The fourth and final stage was selecting a hosting service for the podcast. This one I still haven't got right. Going into this, I wanted a service that would host, let me track how many people are downloading the cast, and give me the ability to add a 'mini-player' to my blog here. I ended up going with GoDaddy's Quick Podcast service.

Now, I am an admitted idiot when it comes to podcasting (since I'd never done it before), but my understanding was that GoDaddy would host my episodes somewhere on their server, and then provide me with a URL for the shows, which I could link to on my blog. Not so. I found out(literally at the last minute before the show was supposed to go up), that I had to host the episode on MY URL. So I had to put it on a URL I had registered a few months ago. And then I found out that the mini-player that GoDaddy promised, was to be on the 'blog' GoDaddy had created for the URL where the cast was being hosted, and couldn't be insterted here as I had hoped. Ugh.

Now granted, some or all of this might simply be a case of me being an idiot, and not knowing any better. But my point in all of this is, if this stuff is tripping me up, someone who is USING social media each and every day, then what will happen when someone in Everytown, U.S.A. picks up the Time issue that says that 'You' are the person of the year, and decides they want to see what all the fuss about podcasting is?

With blogging, if you want to get started, you can literally go to, register a new blog, and be blogging within 5 mins. Extremely easy.

Podcasting is the exact opposite. You need to be DEDICATED to the process of getting one off the ground. There's no plug N play(but a big market for anyone that can come up with a PNP alternative, at least a cheap one on the equipment side, IMO). Which is a shame, because I think podcasting holds enormous potential, and I'm a big fan of anything that gives people the ability to get their voice out there in more forms.

Right now, anyone with internet access can be blogging in 5 mins. Until we get to that point with podcasting, or a helluva lot closer than we are now, I can't see much significant growth in this space. Which is really a shame.

To any podcasters out there, have you had an easier time of it than I have? Any advice on how to make the process simplier?

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

The 'Z-List' continues to spread

It's now reached cyclists, India, and even Wiffiti.

Reshma has started a list focusing solely on Indian blogs.

Tammy has started the 'W-List' just for women bloggers.

Tim has created the 'B-List' just for cyclists!

And finally, the lovely Jaynie has set up a Wiffiti for the 'Z-List'(which wasn't working when I just tried it). Here's the details at BMA.

I wasn't thrilled with the Squidoo thingie, but I like all of the above because they expand on the original idea of the 'Z-List', which was serving the community. The above lists break it down even further into smaller communities, and exposes the members of those communities to each other's blogs.

Good job guys! Any other variations of the 'Z-List' that I need to add?

UPDATE: Mindblob also blogs about the variations of the 'Z-List', and has added the D-List, just for dog lovers!

UPDATE 2: Now we have the 'M-List', for military blogs!

Also, thanks to Joanna for linking here!

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Episode 1 of Mind The Gap is live!

Download the show HERE.

Yes that's right, writing here, at Daily Fix, BMA and for Marketing Vox aint enough, now I've done gone and got me a marketing podcast.

And its name be Mind The Gap.

Mind The Gap is where I will take a weekly look at companies, their communities, and the gap that exists between the two. I'll talk about companies that are closing that gap, and companies that are making some boneheaded moves to push their communities away. I'll also examine community-empowerment tools that companies can and are employing to better reach their communities.

As with the content here, I'll talk early and often about ways that companies can harness the power of their communities to better serve their wants and needs, by making their customers a marketing partner for their messages. With of course, a healthy focus on social media.

Perhaps best of all, every episode will be quick and to the point. Less than 15 minutes. You get in, get the goods, and get out. Quick, and relatively painless.

And finally, Mind The Gap wouldn't be complete without.....MUSIC! Every week I'll feature clips from songs by artists and labels smart enough to empower their fans to market for them! And it will likely come as no shock to regular Viral Garden readers that The Donnas and Nettwerk have already jumped on board.

Here are the (Now with 15% MORE) Show Notes for Episode 1:

00:00 Intro: "Who Invited You?" - The Donnas

00:24 Quick intro and explanation of what Mind The Gap is.

01:00 Overview of Sony's flog and how Sony blew it big time.

05:09 Contrast Sony's blunder with the great job that inventor Roger von Oech has done in joining the blogosphere on the community's terms. I also reveal my love of The Ball of Whacks and The Creative Whack Pack.

08:57 Recap, mucho thank-yous(The Donnas, Mark @, Nettwerk's Terry McBride and Monika Selnar)

10:03 Close: "Silence" - Delerium (Featuring Sarah McLachlan)

Buy the music featured in this episode of Mind The Gap HERE:

"Who Invited You" - The Donnas (Download live version for free HERE)
"Silence" - Delerium (Featuring Sarah McLachlan)

Both songs are also available through iTunes.

Finally, I would like to thank Talent Zoo's Stace Carter for answering a million technical questions I had about getting the podcast set-up, and what equipment I should use. Also thanks to CK and Ann for giving me great feedback on the show during 'beta-testing' ;)

So if you can, give it a listen, leave comments, suggestions, laugh at my voice (yes I know it sounds like I'm from Alabama, that's because...I'm from Alabama), poke fun unmercifully, I can take it.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 37

Here's the standings for Week 37:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,057 (-1)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 15,263 (-19)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 16,507 (-67)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 17,065 (+264)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 32,908 (-990)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 42,738 (+7)(LW - 6)
7 - Coolzor - 60,152 (-661)(LW - 7)
8 - Converstations - 67,541 (+2,750)(LW - 8)
9 - The Viral Garden - 68,981 (+6,896)(LW - 9)
10 - New School of Network Marketing - 72,289 (+3,678)(LW - 10)
11 - HorsePigCow - 86,130 (-1,650)(LW - 11)
12 - Logic + Emotion - 89,627 (+163)(LW - 12)
13 - What's Next - 117,044 (+1,136)(LW - 13)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 117,710 (+509)(LW - 14)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 122,816 (-118)(LW - 15)
16 - Emergence Marketing - 154,694 (-667)(LW - 16)
17 - Diva Marketing - 164,064 (+6,814)(LW - 18)
18 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 174,923 (+8,682)(LW- 19)
19 - Marketing Nirvana - 180,549 (+8,879)(LW - 22)
20 - Marketing Headhunter - 181,946 (+24,442)(LW - 25)
21 - Experience Curve - 182,106 (-16,401)(LW - 17)
22 - Make Marketing History - 182,221 (+2,682)(LW - 20)
23 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 182,899 (LW - UR)
24 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 187,404 (+14,241)(LW - 23)
25 - Church of the Customer - 194,703 (-6,989)(LW - 21)

Surprisingly strong week for the Top 25. From what I recall of last year, the last week of 2005 was fairly slow, seems like most of the blogs in the Top 25 had a good week. Perhaps the biggest news is that the 'Z-List' has reached the Top 25, as Drew's Marketing Minute becomes the first member of the 'Z-List' meme to crack the Top 25. Several other members of the meme have seen huge jumps and could make a move toward the Top 25 in the coming weeks.

Notice that an Alexa ranking of 200K will no longer qualify your blog for the Top 25. Yikes. And what is up with Church of the Customer being #25 and on the verge of falling out of the Top 25? Isn't that a sign of the blogging apocalypse?

As always, next update is next Wednesday.

UPDATE: Ben explains in the comments that Church of the Customer has changed it's URL. Yep that's it.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

You be the marketer: Kohl's

Let's play the what-if game for a minute. Let's say you are Kohl's CMO, and you're doing some Googling for Kohl's, and you come across this post from Paul at Hee-Haw Marketing. In the post, Paul details how he's not an avid Kohl's customer, then shows several pictures from his local Kohl's, which all show the store, in literal shambles. Clothes everywhere, on the floor, on the racks, in heaps, in piles, in wads. In short, a total disaster.

Paul adds this:
I get it, it's after Christmas, things have been busy, and your store has probably been thrashed by rabid shoppers over the past few days. But, all you've told me is that you don't give a shit. Not about your merchandise, your store or your customers. It is Kohl's, so my expectations are already low, but this is ridiculous...

If you were Kohl's CMO and you came across this post, what would you do? And more specifically, how would you address this store's problems so that you can foster a long-term change in the store? And would you reach out to Paul for advice/help?

I ask because there are posts like this all over the net right now, each complete with visual evidence of stores that apparently, don't give a shit about themselves, or their customers. And there are also CMOs that will have to decide how to address these posts.

How would you? I have some ideas, but I'd like to hear your thoughts first.

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