Friday, February 22, 2008

Marketing as a Conversation

Phew! Just got done this morning over coffee reading Joseph Jaffe's "Join the Conversation."

Jaffe is relentless (yay!) about the new marketing and how it is transforming marketing and brand management/building.

If I had been lucky enough to get to put a quote on the book jacket (maybe he can open that up to a wiki on his next book, why stop at the cover?) I would have *maybe* said this:

"This book (and the author) is so relentless and passionate about new marketing that it practically forces you to start a blog and a conversation with your customers before you even finish it."
Ok, seriously though, Jaffe lays out the case and makes it time and time again with examples, case studies and a workbook like approach that includes manifestos, checklists and planners.

As I was reading, I took a few notes knowing that I was going to blog about it when I finished. The problem is, my notes ended up being pages and pages long, almost every chapter had a nugget or thought I wanted to capture and remember.

That said, I will simply agree with Jaffe's "one thing to take from the book" which was that It's never too late to join the conversation.

Disclaimer: As part of the "marketing" for Join The Conversation (and in full disclosure), Jaffe is also running a program he calls, UNM2PNM (Use New Media To Prove New Media) where he gave away 150 copies of the book to bloggers (yes, that's me, and yes this is me blogging on my own free will about something I really enjoyed).

I'm now 3 for 3 on business books in 2008. Made to Stick, Meatball Sundae and Join the Conversation. It's like the new branding trilogy.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dignity vs. Humanity

This is a great, great article written by a very smart man.

"There is no us and them. There’s just us."

Nice job Jeff!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Words that Drive Me Crazy

A rant, just because I feel like it... (find out who I'm blaming for my ornery mood at the end of this post).

Words matter, I know! But the abuse of short-hand terms makes me crazy. Web2.0 is classic abuse. It's become a catchall for anything "conversation related."

I abused the term platform back in 2001/02 while at a technology start-up. It's making a MASSIVE comeback to it's own detriment. It's so innocuous and generalized that it simply is a useless term. Let me ask you this...

  • Is Windows a platform?
  • Is Google?
  • Is Microsoft Office?
  • Is Facebook?
Yes, of course they are... so someone please tell me - what do you mean when you say platform?

Social Media Strategy
Using this phrase is 99.9% of the time a shield to mask the fact that we have no idea what to do next. We'd rather talk about our "Social Media Strategy" than discuss the fact that we don't control our messages anymore.

The "New" something
Regular readers should know by now that I'm a Seth Godin disciple. However, didn't we go through the "New New" thing ages ago? Didn't I read a book about that? Godin is talking about "The New Marketing" and Jaffe's agency is "a new marketing company." It's all shiny and new, isn't it? I'm not saying they aren't both absolutely RIGHT... but this post is about words and how they drive me nutso.

So Who is to Blame?
This is the 2nd ornery post and/or comment I've made on my blog since I started Joseph Jaffe's new book Join the Conversation. The guy is spot on and the book is brilliant. But it's putting me in a bad mood. He's partially to blame, and I'm going to tell him so when we eventually meet.

But Jaffe didn't make me write this blog... no... the catalyst was this podcast from 1to1Media. Anyone want to play a new marketing terms drinking game with me as we all listen? (Was that over the line?).

What words drive you crazy - please share!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Must Blog About This...

I couldn't have posted this video fast enough.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Forgive the Spam?

Got this email today from someone (not sure who or how they got my e-mail address):

Dear Nonprofit Bloggers:

Forgive the spam, but we just wanted to let you know about our new blog on fundraising: We are two veteran fundraisers with a combined 35 years of experience in nonprofits big and small. We have enjoyed your writing and thought you might like to see our contribution to the growing nonprofit blog world.

Thanks in advance for your attention,
Janet Levine and Jennifer George
I'll only forgive the spam if your blog is amazingly, superbly, unequivocally the greatest thing since... since Pulp Fiction. Or Fun Dip. Or Tiger Woods.

If not, then no, I do not forgive the spam. Sorry. How can they write "Dear Nonprofit Bloggers" and then refer to how much they like my writing?

PS - The first link doesn't work: This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again later.

PSS - Yes, I realize that I'm promoting their site by blogging this (it will hopefully give them a chance to make up for their spam with at least one amazing, life changing post). But please Janet and Jennifer, no more spam.

Meatball Sundae

Just finished Seth Godin's latest book "Meatball Sundae" this morning. As are most of Godin's book, it's a fast read - but don't let that fool you. This is an important book for many reasons.

Aside from the fourteen trends that the book explores (everything from The Long Tail to direct communications and commerce between producers and consumers is looked at), I do believe my favorite part was the case studies. Real-life examples of how companies have put these trends and concepts into practice to create movements. Part of what we all have to do as non-profit marketers is in fact, create movement, action and passion for our causes. So often though, we end up doing the opposite by spamming, over-communicating and controlling our communications efforts.

I had a long conversation with a software vendor yesterday. They are trying to re-position themselves in the marketplace. Problem is, they are over-explaining things and making it hard for themselves by not embracing a few of Godin's trends and ideas.

  • The CEO doesn't have a blog.
  • There is no user community.
  • They lack in "big ideas" that can will make them any different than their competitors.
One last thing, in case Seth reads this at some point (the web never forgets)... on page 194 he talks about the March of Dimes Share Your Story site. It's not accurate that it came from a volunteer blogger. It didn't. It came from the a few of us inside the joint who really believed in the idea. We had to cajole and convince upper management to let us do it (it took about 2 years). So Seth is half right, it wasn't started by the CEO, but it wasn't started by a volunteer either.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mobile Fundraising?

I'm hearing and reading a lot about the forthcoming "explosion" of mobile fundraising. Tons of issues to consider including of course fee structure from the carriers and the fact that donations are limited to something like $10. I came across this link (thanks Katrin) that suggests that there may be a solution forthcoming. I hope so.

The nuts and bolts of that article:

The Mobile Giving Foundation is positioning itself to be the approval and payment processor for nonprofits in the U.S. with an anticipated April 1 public launch.

Here is how it will work:

  • A nonprofit applies to the Mobile Giving Foundation.
  • Carriers waive all fees for premium SMS donations for the approved nonprofit campaign through the Mobile Giving Foundation.
  • The Nonprofit hires a vendor for campaign execution (the fulfillment vendor for the United Way was Mobile Accord) with Verisign as the mobile delivery service.
  • The Mobile Giving Foundation takes a 10% cut of text donations; anticipated to be reduced to 5% if the volume of campaigns increases. Payments are processed within 60 days post-billing at which point the nonprofit receives a check.
10% is still a lot, but it's way better than the 40 or 50% you'd have to pay now. I still think this is really clunky, but it's a first step for sure.

I wrote about a mobile marketing experiment that didn't work so well a last March here.


Made to Stick... sticky as glue

I read "Made to Stick" while in Seattle and San Diego last week and want to marry it. Really. I loved it that much. So much of what I have been unable to articulate myself is right there inside this amazing little book. Go get it right now and read it! Seriously.

The authors have outlined a practical and effective checklist that you can use immediately once you understand the principals that have been laid out.

Here's the SUCCESs framework... read the book and get it all...

  • Simple... find the core... the one true thing.
  • Unexpected... you need to surprise people to get their attention in the first place.
  • Concrete... drop the intellectual, academic stuff straight away and explain yourself... understanding drives action.
  • Credible... credibility (various forms) will let people believe.
  • Emotional... it's not enough to believe... people have to ALSO care about you.
  • Stories... getting people to act isn't about facts and figures, it's about great storytelling.
I can't speak highly enough of this book, it's simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and weaves great stories. Go for it.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Tracking Buzz, WOM, Tweets and Such

I've had what seems like endless conversations lately about how to actually track and measure buzz, word of mouth, tweets and especially videos.

The raw numbers aren't too hard to come by, but the lack of any easy way to measure conversions and track users is seemingly impossible at this time. Outside a cookie that could follow users wherever they go, I'm stumped to a certain degree about how to get past superficial numbers like views.

Strikes me that someone will create and release a platform designed to manage all your social media much like existing systems that manage content (CMS) and e-mail marketing. I'm waiting and hoping one will be forthcoming. It would be great if that someone created something that was able to actually push content from a central repository, or even repurpose content right out of a CMS.

I came across one company that claims to have something. Anyone know these guys? I signed up for their free 14 day trial and took a peek at the web demo. Interesting stuff. Seems like a hosted, self-service version of something I saw from Buzzmetrics (I think it was Buzzmetrics) a few years ago.

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User Experience Design

Charles Mauro is a highly experienced user experience designer who I've worked with for the past several years. It's always a pleasure when I have a budget to find ways to work with Charles because he brings with him amazing analytical capabilities along with a finely tuned sense of what makes for good user interfaces. Each year his firm MauroNewMedia publishes an "Annual User Experience Design Review" where he looks at any and all major UED systems, products and designs. It's fascinating reading that should appeal to your inner usability designer.

This year's review includes discussion and analysis on the iPhone, MTV's virtual worlds and Second Life, Guitar Hero, Google Docs and much more.

If you want to know what it's like to work with Charles, this paragraph sums it up nicely:

Both Guitar Hero and the Nintendo Wii are exceptional examples of how creating a tighter connection between the user's interaction with the physical world and a screen-based display produces high levels of engagement and commercial success. Guitar Hero and several games for the Wii take advantage of the customer's ability to acquire skills through the use of familiar real-world gestures and actions. By creating an interface between these actions and the feedback mechanisms of the game, these products do one very important thing: they tighten the connection between the user and the user experience.
If you are looking for missteps, don't miss the Facebook/Beacon discussion or the One Child Per Laptop discussion towards the end.

This note on Facebook is probably my favorite in the entire document - because more and more, I think niche communities online is where it's at.
Facebook will continue to have problems monetizing its massive user base. New social networking sites will emerge in 2008 that begin to capture smaller specific segments of the Facebook user profile who aren't well-served by the Facebook user experience.
Enjoy the reading and feel free to debate anything with me in the comments.


Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

For me, the answer is barely. It took me far too many tries (6) to get this right. I should have known better and taken my time.

What my point in posting this on this blog? I'm reading a book about sticky ideas and this immediately caught my attention and practically demanded my attention. If you are crafting messages and marketing strategies, you'd be lucky to have something like this quiz to get your constituents buzzing.

Do the problem and then download and open the spreadsheet -

There are 7 girls on a bus

Each girl has 7 backpacks

In each backpack, there are 7 big cats

For every big cat there are 7 little cats

Question: How many legs are there in the bus?

The number of legs is the password to unlock the Excel sheet.

If you open it, add your name and send it on (or post it) to see who else can unlock it. Send it back to let the person know you got it correct.

This is a real math problem so don't say that a bus has no legs. If
you get the correct answer, that's the password to the spreadsheet.
Put your name in the column with the names and forward it on if you
were smart enough to get the right answer.

Figured out the math problem, but couldn't figure out how to save and
forward the spreadsheet with my name on it! Don't know if a 5th
grader could get the correct answer to this problem, but I know most
any 5th grader could have figured out saving the spreadsheet. See if
you can do it in less than the 5 tries it took me to get it right!