Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Slow & Steady Wins The Web Marketing Race

Old school marketing has the model where you make the big splash. You know what I"m talking about.

Objectives: Awareness and drive traffic to www.whateveriwantpeopletouse.com

Sounds like a good idea. If we were selling chocolate bars.

But unfortunately for the new search engine supposed Google killer Cuil, they weren't.

Truth be told, digital consumers are in Peter's words "technology empowered schizophrenic kids in a self serve candy store. The customers from hell!"

It's not that we don't want you to succeed, because I would say all of us want to find new products that solve old problems in new ways. But...our expectations are high and our loyalties are fickle. So when you tell us you are bigger, more relevant and more comprehensive than any other search engine on the Web, we expect you do be. And when you do it with the big bang PR blitz and get every tech blogger on the planet writing about you, our expectations are that much higher (Atta way to under promise and over deliver).

And if you aren't all those things you've promised? Well, then you just appear as if you suck, and suck worse than you probably even do. And Cuil, i have to say, your search results for Leigh Himel sucked. Unlike Google that has my linkedin page, friendfeed, disqus profile, flikcr account, you had secondary posts from other people's blogs that included at least two posts that had me looking like a dude with glasses (no offense intended to the dude with glasses).

What does this all tell us? Go big or go home is yesterday's marketing strategy. Just because they find out your there AND they come, doesn't mean anything good is going to come from it.

Remember, meaning marketing isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.

Soft launching, getting a groundswell, finding a passionate community that wants to help you build your product and eventually tell two friends, may mean slow and steady but that's ok, cuz we all know how that story ended.

Photo credit: Wikemedia Commons Tortoise & The Hare

Monday, 28 July 2008

Opt Out Should Be Banned From The Marketing Playbook

I don't understand why marketing departments still have the chuzpah to use opt out as a valid conversion tool.

Case and point - CIBC new Infinite credit card. According to CIBC, I have been chosen to the premier service which has no down side and gives me new benefits such as the ability to go over my limit with out a penalty.

Apparently, in one of their direct mail pieces they gave me the option to opt out. Of course, I don't read DM and frankly I get so damn much of it them, unless it's my VISA bill or my account info i tend to toss it in the garbage without a second glance.

Now, I guess from their perspective, I should be thrilled to have this new card. But these days, time is more important to me than trip cancellation service. Without warning, the other card has stopped working on my online banking and I"m officially being forced onto this new card.

Uch. Opt out. Unless it's for organ donation, it should just be stricken from the marketing playbook all together. That's my story and better credit or not, I"m sticking to it.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Big Brands Want To Go Micro, And Micro Brands Want To Go Big

Hutch Carpenter had an interesting guest post Louis Gray's blog today about bloggers interactions decreasing with prominence. He notes

"One observation to make is this: the level of interaction seems to vary by the blogger's level of established reputation. As a blogger gets more well-known on the Web, the level of interaction declines."

The notion here is that as micro/personal brands go big their desire to communicate goes small. As their brands become established (and dare i say they get established in part due to the conversations that are occurring about them within the social media landscape) they no longer make the time or find themselves with the desire to communicate with the very audience that made their brand in the first place.

What I find interesting is that the exact opposite thing is happening for big brands. If anything, more and more large companies are starting to take social media (for lack of a better term) quite seriously as a platform to communicate with their community. They are looking for ways to credibly and authentically open new channels as the old forms of communication become less relevant. They want to invite those brand advocates and passionate communicators into their world any way they can. They know that their customers are creating their brands as much as they are and want to at least start participating.

It's a strange world out there and all i can say to the micro/personal brands out there is to watch out for this one. Keeping brands relevant on an on-going basis is hard to do if one loses touch with those that made you. As they say, what makes you can also break you.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Reputation, Racism & The Reality Of Search Results

Louis Gray twittered asking the question as to why Techmeme didn't post anything about the ongoing racism conversation that is happening in the Blogosphere and places like friend feed. (To have a look link here to the friendfeed debate).

Techmemer, Gabe Rivera made his comment saying:

"So, what's the story here? Some anonymous losers said nasty racist things in some chat area (which happens all the time), and then Louis Gray noted how bad that is? Hmm...if you're going to suggest that an omission on Techmeme is wrong, you're gonna need to find something more uncontestably newsworthy than that."

What I found interesting was that I was sure I had seen a number of discussions tracing the original debate that started this all (Complaints about techvideo comedienne/commentator Loren Feldman's Verizon deal due to a parady he created a year called TechNigga - read Mathew Ingram's post here)
So rather than searching by subject, I typed in Loren Feldman's name and what I got was this below (and a bunch of posts on the entire puppet debacle)...

Now I've got a pretty balanced view when it comes to this type of stuff. I personally don't think Feldman is a racist although I do think the video was stupid, insensitive and not particularly funny. But the truth is, regardless of his intent, when you so grossly cross a line (that he had to have known he was crossing unless he's lived under a rock for the last ten years), you have to be prepared for the consequences.

In the technologically networked world that we live in, the repercussions are that the majority of the network will end up discussing their opinion of you and what you've done. You can certainly comment if you want on friendfeed or on your own blog. But search engines aren't built to tell two sides of the story and at some point you have to look at the power of technology over reputation and concede that what you meant to do and what Google says about you are two different things.

Mea Culpa in such situations, may not only be the RIGHT thing to do but it's also the smart thing to do and something that Feldman finally did yesterday. Corporate brands are learning the need for speed and vigor with which they have to respond to these type of PR disasters a while ago and it's something that personal blogging micro-brands might like to pay some attention to as well.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Supply/Demand Vs. The Power Of The Network

So Rogers finally changed their outrageous data plans for the iphone after Robert Sheinbein received over 58,000 signatures on his petition. And he isn't backing down now. They say thanks but it isn't enough as they now focus their efforts in a new direction. According to the site, they now say:

"Thank-You Rogers for helping out. We still need more help. We need your offer to be:

1. Unlimited Data Plan
2. Not a limited time offer
3. Competitive rates on your voice plans"

So what could have been a huge brand halo for Rogers has now become their biggest nightmare since negative billing. And why?

You can just see the business heads over at Wireless. With ongoing shareholder pressures, they focus on the short term. Screw those silly bastards over in the Marcom group who try to build brand and engagement with customers. Here is our opportunity, however short it may be, to make some serious cash off those iPhone fanatics. Let's face it. Most of them are rich anyhow. It's just an issue of supply and demand. We've got the supply - they've go the demand.

Oh wait. Or is it? Everyone goes to the conferences where they hear that the marketing world has changed. But are they LISTENING. The power of the network to mobilize citizens around issues in a short period of time has no bounds. A commentator on the CBC this morning said, it best, if it were a few years ago, this would have been a couple of angry people petitioning outside Rogers who could be ignored.

Networks are much harder to ignore. Ruinediphone.com plans to hold a Webcasted rally on Friday. Check out the deets below. This will be an interesting one to watch.

Date: Friday July 11, 2008 10:00am EDT
Description: Join our Free Online Webcast Rally
Agenda: Get fair cellular voice and data plans
How to Join: Click Here or goto the below link on Friday July 11, 2008 at 10:00am EDT



1. We will provide a live statement from ruinediphone.com

2. Then we will have a message from David McGuinty, MP

3. Provide Rogers a chance to say a message

Monday, 7 July 2008

Testing Disqus Integration

Couldn't add Disqus until my rating was above 1.
Now to see if it works.....

Ok appears as if comments aren't showing up at all for new posts (no really, click on the link that says comments and watch comments magically disappear)

Have sent a note to support at Disqus. I'm sure they'll help me fix it.

Blogger. Nothing is ever simple.


Update: Apparently there is an issue with Blogger. Daniel Ha of Disqus is trying to help so we'll see. I hate having to integrate things with my blog. Every time i sit here in fear that i will accidentally destroy the whole thing. I think there is a new blog post idea in here somewhere.

Update 2: Ok, got a new template from Daniel. Let's see if this works! Fingers crossed....

Heroic efforts from Mr. Ha finally got it working. Yeah! Welcome Disqus to my blog.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fear Is A Losing Game

You simply cannot buy the lessons I have learned being a co-founder of a tech start-up. Regardless of oponia and ucaster's success or failure, it's been a business roller coaster ride that would put any executive mucky muck MBA program to shame.

One of the biggest lessons I think I've learned is about fear. Looking back I see fear as a losing game and thought i'd jot down some of the biggest fears start-ups seem to have and my rear-view perspective on them.

Fear of Openess:

- If you can't be open about your idea (stealth, nda's) then you are losing an invaluable opportunity to get the right people to give you feedback and ideas on how to make your idea better. Most people are going to be genuinely excited and want to help. Listening can be your greatest advantage but if you can't speak to anyone or show what you are doing to anyone, then you'll have no one to listen to but yourself. And that's never a good thing.

Fear of Being Wrong:

- You will make more mistakes doing a start-up than anything else. And in fact those mistakes can lead you in a new and much better direction. Move fast, learn quickly and don't be afraid to have people throw tomatoes at you. If you find yourself not being able to make a good argument on your own behalf, then they just might have an important point you should listen too. Your users are your target market not you.

Fear of Giving Away Too Much

- We had the opportunity to bring someone on early who probably would have made a huge difference to our business. We thought at the time we would have to give away too much. Since then, I have been asked by some people to be involved in their project and wanted to bring a team of people on board and they thought we were asking too much. If you think it will up your chances of success, don't be scared to give away too much. Whether that be shares or money. Build the right team first. Having a smaller part of something great will be better than having a huge part of nothing.

Fear of Putting It Out There

- I've had some people talk to me who are shy by nature and say they can't start a blog, aren't good at presentations etc. Get over it. You cannot do a start-up and be shy. These days to be successful you have to put it all on the line and be prepared to be the clown, the idiot, the fool. Now of course, we all hope everyone will think we are brilliant most of the time, but the truth is everyone is going to have an opinion and you have to be prepared to put yourself out there day in and day out regardless of how strange it might feel.

Cheesy Courage poster via: http://tinyurl.com/5gasqd

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