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Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Smart People / Smart Ideas from December 2008

In Smart People / Smart Ideas on December 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I interact with social media. What am I giving and what am I taking? How, and what, am I sharing? How am I supporting the efforts of others? To that end, I started doing something on Twitter earlier this month called Smart People / Smart Ideas. Every day on Twitter I saw links from people that I thought were great and found helpful. So, instead of a non-stop stream of me plugging my own stuff, I decided to really focus on highlighting good information from other people.

Turns out I did 65 of them in December. Here they are:

Smart People / Smart Ideas #65 @mikeauraz says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #64 @douglaskarr says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #63 @JimMacMillan says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #62 dbrazeal says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #61 @jshuey says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #60 @drewkerr says:

Smart People / Smart Ideas #59 @gregverdino says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #58 @jasonfalls says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #57 @ScottHepburn says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #56 @justinlevy says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #55 @bmorrissey Q&A w/ @zappos CEO

Smart People / Smart Ideas #54 @geoffliving says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #53 (I love lists edition) @SeanMcColgan

Smart People / Smart Ideas #52 @benmcconnell says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #51 @shannonpaul says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #50 @smeis says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #49 @dmullen says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #48 @DougH says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #47 @swoodruff says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #46 @lisahoffmann says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #45 @jpostman (courtesy @TDefren) says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #44 @gleonhard says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #43 Tim Devin (via @psfk)

Smart People / Smart ideas #42 @MarketingProfs says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #41 @gregverdino says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #40 @adamsinger says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #39 @Jonathan_Trenn says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #38 @michaelSurtees says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #37 @timoreilly says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #36 @kenburbary says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #35 @juntajoe says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #34 @jessestay says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #33 @mzkagan says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #32 @jowyang says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #31 Michael Rubin says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #30 @exitcreative says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #29 @sernovitz says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #28 Mark McGuinness

Smart People / Smart Ideas #27 @sartorialist shoots

Smart People / Smart Ideas #26 @daveknox says

Smart (fictional) People / Smart Ideas #25 @bud_melman says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #24 @mhames says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #23 @prblog says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #22 @rohitbhargava says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #21 James Chartrand says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #20 Paul Williams [@IdeaSandbox] says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #19 @swoodruff says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #18 @shannonpaul says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #17 @ckieff says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #16 @marketerblog says

Smart People / Smart Ideas # 15 @guykawasaki says

Smart People / Smart ideas #14 @bud_caddell says

Smart People / Smart ideas #13 @CBWhittemore says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #12 @warrenss says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #11 @weatherpattern says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #10 @MarketerBlog says:

Smart People / Smart Ideas #9 @chrisbrogan says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #8 @juntajoe says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #7 @leighhouse says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #6 @mikearauz says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #5 @generalist says: (expand)

Smart People / Smart Ideas #4 Seth Godin says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #3 @TDefren says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #2 @mitchjoel says

Smart People / Smart Ideas #1 @BrianReich says

NHL Develops a Marquee Event to Call its Own

In Innovation, TSMWIF on December 31, 2008 at 10:07 am

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with the NHL. Growing up in Los Angeles, I wasn’t a real big hockey fan. Sure, I went to an occasional game and when the Kings got Gretzky I became  slightly more than just the casual fan.  By the late-80s / early-90s I could probably name several players on each team. My fandom probably peaked around the 1996-1997. At that time I really liked the  Detroit Red Wings. They had arguably the best rivalry in sports at the time with the Colorado Avalanche and they won their first Stanley Cup in something like 40 years. To top it off, I was involved with the Stanley Cup home video release and I got to meet several of the players – all good guys.

Since then, like many people, the NHL has receded in my life. I chalk it up to too many new franchises and the adoption of a points system that is confusing, at least to me.  I’ve been critical of the NHL before on this blog, but I’ve also praised it, specifically for its Winter Classic. The Winter Classic, a regular season NHL game played outdoors on New Year’s Day originated in 2008 with the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium (where the NFL Buffalo Bills play) in front of the largest crowd in NHL history – 71,217.

Nice job, NHL

Nice job, NHL

Fantastic idea, great execution. Well done NHL. So, how do they try and top that for the 2009 edition? How about this: pit two of the original six NHL franchises – the Chicago Blackhawks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings – and have them play at Wrigley Field (home to Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs).

Here’s what I really like about the Winter Classic concept – the NHL isn’t trying to be a “me too” with this one. The NBA and MLB do great All-Star games. The NFL and MLB do great championships with the Super Bowl and World Series respectively (no offense to hockey fans, I think the Stanley Cup is a great tradition, but it isn’t as mainstream as the Super Bowl or World Series).  The NFL and MLB also have strong season openers.

So the NHL created something entirely new and something it would be very difficult for other leagues to copy – that’s a fantastic Blue Ocean Strategy.

In addition, the NHL has created a ton of hooks for the casual fan to get caught on. Like wine? They’ve created a Winter Classic vintage.  Are you a sports traditionalist? Check out these sweet Red Wings and Blackhawks throwback jerseys.  Art lover? Find out about the sports statuary connection between Chicago and Detroit. There’s loads more of course. You should go check out the Red Wings Hockeytown blog and go follow Twitter monster Shannon Paul. She works for the Red Wings and I’m sure will be providing fantastic insight and inside info to her followers.

To me, this is how the NHL comes back. Creating a unique experience that honors the great traditions of this sport, which for my money, is still just about the best live sporting event you can attend, and put’s a new spin on it.  I hope the NHL continues to try innovative efforts like the Winter Classic.

Best of 2008? Try Compelling Content

In DINU, Ideas, Insight on December 30, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Whether we’re looking a pictures of hunters and bison in the caves of Lascaux, or getting an inside peek at the lives of the folks at Sterling Cooper via Twitter, one thing has been a constant: Compelling content draws attention.  The Washington Post just released their list of the Top Viral Videos of 2008. Put aside for a moment any issues regarding the term viral – and oh, I’ve got issues. As do people like Mike Arauz and Faris Yakob. But whatever you want to call them, these videos were shared, spread and enjoyed. Their list contains a lot of good stuff, including Tom Cruise going all Scientology on us; Will.I.Am singing “Yes We Can”; and some very literal music videos.

The constant here is that these videos entertain first and foremost. They aren’t contrived for the purpose of selling us stuff (noted exception – the mobile phone meets popcorn meme, courtesy of Cardo, bluetooth headset maker). The focus is on telling a story, or building upon an existing one.

Now, is this a surefire way to generate big sales? Truthfully, I think the jury is still out on that. But it’s certainly a strong way to build a brand. Another ad is not going to get consumers to stop and consider your product, you need to start building a relationship. How do you do that? By creating something more interesting than a 2-for-1 coupon or add a freshness date to your product.

Let your customers get to know you (let your employees have blogs and Twitter accounts), and just as importantly, get to know your customers (follow their Twitter accounts and post comments on their blogs).

This is the time to start developing these relationships, there is no benefit to starting ‘when times are good’ or when you have a new product, dive in, create a story, add to the conversation.

Mad Men – Consumer Participation Continues To Fill The Void

In DINU, Ideas on December 22, 2008 at 3:17 pm
All Your Don Draper Are Belong To Us

All Your Don Draper Are Belong To Us

By now you’ve read Bud Melman’s memo and seen the first two episodes of Digital Mad Men, the very clever appropriation by Allen Adamson of Landor. As we reach the end of the year, this whole thing really brings home some of the things I’ve focused on this year and some of the trends I think will really take prominence in 2009.

It all starts with great content. Mad Men is a terrific show, which was confirmed by its Emmy win this year. Strong content leads to what I call a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe. Consumers loved the content so much they weren’t satisfied to simply watch, they wanted to participate. From that we got Mad Men on Twitter.

Here’s Allen on the subject:

Be it active or passive, voluntary consumer participation is a cool branding tool

Even the savviest marketer will tell you that you can’t deem a brand-building tactic cool unless a consumer deems it cool, no matter how great an arbiter of cool you think you are. In fact, the savviest marketers will tell you that the most successful brand-building tactics are, more often than not, the handiwork of consumers, given the control they’ve been ceded as a result of the digital evolution. They’ll also tell you that the best advocacy-generating cool is interactive, like the recent ad-hoc Twitter initiative for AMC’s Mad Men, where thousands upon thousands of devotees of the show set up accounts to follow the lives of the characters. This user-generated socialization of content has taken on a life of its own and AMC, while initially a bit nervous at its loss of control over how the characters “tweet” each other, has come to the conclusion that this voluntary consumer engagement adds an incredible meta-level of depth to the program and its inhabitants, not to mention gives the network PR that money just can’t buy.

Getting a consumer to deem a passive online experience cool enough to pass along is also a vote of confidence that money can’t buy. For example, my current YouTube spoof, Digital Mad Men,

If you can get an initiative to catch on with consumers, cool. Be it active or passive, voluntary consumer participation is a great brand-building tool. Getting consumers engaged, especially through social media, can help bring a brand to life and build a deeper relationship with its customers. uses the show as a point of reference, an entertainment vehicle, to illustrate how digital is changing the “tools and conversation” but not the office dynamics of agency life. It also points out that in order to get more than a few thousand eyeballs you need to have content that goes beyond the category of clever to industry insiders.

Here’s Episode Three of Allen’s Digital Mad Men series…

Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 is one of the foremost advocates of content marketing. He points out that even in these tough economic times, brands are still looking to spend in this area.

Now is not the time to be pulling back on marketing, it’s just time to think differently about how you create excitement about your brand. Creating dynamic content, telling compelling stories and producing branded media is a way to speak to consumers in a way that engages.

What’s in store for 2009? Junta42 says…

In Ideas, Innovation on December 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 recently asked a whole host of content marketing experts what they saw coming down the pike as we flip the calendar to 2009. Some real thought provoking stuff (read the whole post here).

Here’s a sampling:

Name: Giles Rhys Jones, Interactive Marketing Trends
Prediction: Distributed Eventing
The creation of an event to reach a few people, then the filming and merchandising of that event nationally, regionally and globally through both broadcast and digital channel to reach a much broader audience.

Name: Paul Conley
Prediction: I expect brand marketers to begin buying media properties — particularly well-established brands with both Web and print products — from traditional B2B publishers. The economic crisis in publishing offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for marketers. I expect them to act on it.

Name: Anna Prokos
Prediction: Marketers will reach out to custom media providers who specialize in digital magazines and online applications—a more cost-effective and fast way to get their content into the hands of readers.

My thoughts are included in the story as well.  Bottom line – telling consumers your detergent will get their whites whiter or that they’ll be more attractive to the opposite sex if they use your toothpaste isn’t real compelling anymore.  In 2009 getting engaged with the consumer on their terms is no longer an innovative, way ahead of the curve strategy – it’s going to be the baseline for successful consumer relationships.

TV v. Internet – The Quality Paradox

In Ideas on December 11, 2008 at 11:47 pm

Mitch Joel over at Six Pixels of Separation just posted on the quality disparity between TV and the Internet. No arguing the fact that the junk to quality ratio on TV heavily favors the former. The question is why is this the case? I think it has something to do with the difference in content production between the two mediums, and the basic premise of television as opposed to that of the Internet.

By and large television is a lowest common denominator, passive medium. The content producers for television (especially the junk) are producing it with an understanding that their audience consists of people of average (at best) intellect, who don’t want to be challenged. At least that’s the TV that Mitch is talking about.

Content on the Internet is being produced with an entirely different audience in mind, at least the type of content that Mitch consumes (and creates). That online content is designed for people who are active rather than passive. For people who want to be challenged and, critically, want to respond with a challenge of their own.

The real test would be if Mitch or Seth Godin or Chris Brogan or Guy Kawasaki ran their own TV networks. What would a Mitch Joel channel look like? I bet it would feature thought provoking, intelligent shows. Like the best stuff on PBS, MSNBC, Discovery or Bravo. But, that type of programming wouldn’t draw the number of viewers necessary to draw interest from advertisers. 

Television isn’t a medium for telling stories and disseminating information, it’s a medium for selling ads. As such, the goal is not to produce quality programming, the goal is to produce programming that will attract the most eyeballs.  Does that mean that TV will lose viewers like Mitch (and Guy, Seth, Chris and me)? Yes, but the sad truth is there are 10 happy TV viewers for every Mitch.

One other point of consideration, I’d wager that creating quality online content is a lot easier than creating quality TV content. I think a fantastic project would be if some of the best “online minds” got together and programmed seven days worth of prime time (three hours a day). Could they create the programming and keep it going for a full season? What sort of viewership would they generate? I bet they could develop one or two shows, but a whole network primetime schedule? That’s a pretty tall order – even for the Internet’s top minds.

Is Your Brand A Fancy Soap?

In Insight on December 11, 2008 at 10:14 am

Fancy soap is nice, isn’t it? It smells nice, comes in a fancy package, looks great in the guest bathroom.  Sure, it costs a little more, but it’s a reasonable indulgence. I was looking at our fancy soap the other day. It’s called Il Frutteto di Nesti and it’s made it Italy (pretty fancy, huh?) by Nesti Dante s.r.l. We have two bars, one is Peach and Melon, the other is Citron and Bergamot. I imagine they do a lovely job of cleaning my hands and/or face, but I don’t really know. We’ve had them for months, but we’ve never opened them. Why? They’re too fancy!

We don’t want to use them, because they look so nice and they seem like such a luxury. What makes this even more ridiculous, I bet we picked them up at Home Goods or Marshall’s for $2 a bar. Or maybe we got them as a gift for picking up our neighbor’s mail while they were away.

Not too fancy, fancy soap

Not too fancy, fancy soap

Whatever the case, the point is we own a product we refuse to use. Now, compare that too a another fancy soap brand, L’Occitane. Also very fancy, but not too fancy.  We love their products and use ’em up. The Verbena Cleansing Handwash retails for $16(!), but we went through a couple of bottles. Maybe it’s because it comes in a pump jar – that’s not too fancy.

It’s interesting to note the differences between the two companies websites as well. Nesti Dante’s was too fancy for me. It was difficult to save a picture from the website. L’Occitane was easy and much more sales focused.

As a result, I’ve never mentioned Nesti Dante soap to anyone or had a conversation about it – I don’t know what it feels like, or how it really smells. But my wife and I talk about L’Occitane – to each other and to friends – rather frequently.

It’s ok to be a fancy soap, but becareful that you aren’t too fancy.

Awesome is free

In Ideas on December 10, 2008 at 10:40 am

It’s easy to be negative in tough economic times. To think about what you don’t have or won’t get or can’t afford. But really, a lot of that is the culture we have created. We’ve forgotten to appreciate some of the simple things. So today, no big business lessons or insights, just a link to a really fun website:

1000 Awesome Things 

The Future of PR/Media Relations? HARO and #Journchat

In Ideas, Innovation on December 9, 2008 at 11:23 am

I’ve been working in the PR industry for more than a decade and I’m a firm believer that developing a relationship with a reporter/producer/editor is the best way to become a respected, valued professional. I don’t think that will ever change. But technology has certainly had an effect on the PR/Media relationship.  Two relatively new tools, Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and #Journchat reveal a great truth about how the media and PR professions work at their best: Open communication and relevant information can provide real value to all.

HARO is the brainchild of Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc. By signing up for HARO, a PR professional receives three emails a day with details from reporters who are looking for information or sources for stories they are working on. The service is free and it works because of a simple rule. Here’s what Peter says:

By joining this list, just promise me and yourself that you’ll ask yourself before you send a response: Is this response really on target? Is this response really going to help the journalist, or is this just a BS way for me to get my client in front of the reporter? If you have to think for more than three seconds, chances are, you shouldn’t send the response.

Peter is militant about this rule and as a result the service is respected and trusted by members of the media. More than 30,000 people are currently signed up for the email service, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doubled in size in 2009.

Journchat takes advantage of THE social media platform of 2008: Twitter. Every Monday from 8-10pm eastern, PR professionals, journalists, freelancers and PR students have an open, free-wheeling discussion on how the media and PR folks can work together more effectively for the benefit of both groups. To participate, you simply type your comments in Twitter and include #journchat. By using a service such as you can search for and follow all Tweets that included #journchat. Last night’s session was two+ hours of non-stop discussion. I have a feeling #journchat is going to explode over the next several weeks and the organizer, Sarah Evans, is going to need to make some modifications to keep up with the growth. You should probably follow her on Twitter as well.

HARO and #journchat aren’t cheats or shortcuts, they are tools that can help PR professionals build relationships which leads to trust and respect, two qualities more valuable to PR people than being able to write well or even talk on the phone.