Friday, July 31, 2009

There’s Something To be Said for Crashing En Masse

When he blogged for Advertising Age on Monday, I understood Simon Dumenco’s fear of a high-flying crash from Googling in the Clouds. Simon wondered what might happen if 10, 20 --or heck 75 --percent of, say, all U.S. small businesses were dependent on Google Apps and the Google went down for hours.

Sounds possible. Still, I'm thinking (selfishly, I know) it might be better to go down with all my friends, colleagues, and clients than go down alone.

I had a system failure -- my first in 25 years -- in January. I remember skulking off to Panera to disclose I'd had a hard drive crash and plead for patience. Amid the sympathetic grunts, I suspected some corporate colleagues were attributing the failure to my "little home office" or to my failure to back-up properly. I was backed-up, of course – in three places -- which didn't mitigate the complexities of rebuilding a Mac mail file during an upgrade from Tiger to Leopard .. but that's another story.

In less far-flung -- but every bit as debilitating -- disasters, system upgrades also can render software applications useless. It's no fun being disarmed all alone.

I’m not using Google apps. Maybe I never will. But this little Desktop Diva that I have to upgrade, back-up, clean-up, coddle, and tend to every single day is pretty high maintenance. She whines for the latest toys and gets nasty when I ask her to do too many things at once. Sometimes I’m not sure she won’t commit suicide. I'm thinking her Big Brother might be more stable ...

Maybe Google Clouds will burst every now and then. The rain could be refreshing, what with it happening to everybody at once. Kind of like a no-school Snow Day, yes?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Marketers Alert: Research Shows Trust Is A Brain Wash

The death of Walter Cronkite – the “most trusted man in America” -- prompted Paul Raeburn at NRP to interview Antonio Damasio, Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience at USC, and Director of USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute.

Raeburn asked Dr. Damasio what made Walter Cronkite so trustworthy. At first glance anyway, it seems brain chemicals were the deciders.

Damasio cited research that disclosed how -- at first sight -- human beings decide whom to trust. A large group of men and women of all ages and races were shown many images of expressionless people. Result? Certain facial configurations -- symmetry, sizes of facial components, overall balance, etc. -- triggered an automatic, rapid, undeliberated, non-conscious response to trust ... or not.

There’s more. When asked whether a voice can engender trust, Damasio said, “I believe so. It has to do with numerous aspects of voice. Probably pitch is the most important. The music of the voice, the tones and how they glide as you speak-- prosody -- is another important factor. [Our reaction] does not have to do at all with the content of the words.”

It seems that a “trustworthy” face coupled with a “trustworthy” voice can create a perfect storm of likeability. So what’s going on in our brains? That’s what Damasio and other neuroscientists are studying.

Damasio says certain types of brain damage can cause those affected to trust folks that others don't trust. By the same token, in experiments, the release into our brains of one small neuro-peptide – oxytosin -- also appears to increase a sense of trust in others. Awash in oxytosin, we seem to approach others more easily and with less fear. Damasio notes that oxytosin is an interesting molecule that has numerous other positive effects on human behavior, including effects on sexual behavior, romantic feelings, and even lactation.

Raeburn wondered if we can apply neuroscience to marketing. "Can this research, this notion of trust and what we're learning about it, help GM sell more cars and get itself back in its feet?"

“Yes, though I don’t know to what degree. I think it goes back to the fundamentals of human behavior and we don’t need to interpose detailed knowledge of the brain for that ... What is very important is for people to factor in this other aspect of trust with which we began the interview, which is natural, spontaneous, automatic and non-conscious [and which] will function as a bias...Ancient wisdom would tell you that you should not judge people by first encounter, but neuroscience can guarantee that [we do].”

As marketers, let's be sure the face/voice representing us is one consumers/customers/donors can instinctively trust. I mean, that’s not brain surgery .. or is it?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

p.s. Still think these little brain washers aren't in charge? New research finally confirms that chemicals released in the brain do create the famous “runner’s high.” Finally, read NPR's full transcript here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tom Peters Says Blogging Changed His Life. And That's Not All.

It would seem Tom Peters had scaled the heights when he went In Search of Excellence back in 1982. No doubt he became famous. Peters has written 15 books, so we'd assume this man knows how to write. But in the Amex/Open session in July, Tom Peters said writing a blog – yes blogging – has changed his life. In Peters' words:

"I will simply say my first post was in August 2004. No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important to my life than blogging. It has changed my life, it has changed my perspective, it has changed my intellectual outlook, it's changed my emotional outlook-- parentheses, it is the best damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude than I’ve ever had and it’s free."

Seth Godin, who appeared at the Entrepreneurial Mind Series with Peters, says it doesn’t matter if anybody reads your blog. "What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you’re going to say. How do you explain yourself? How do you force yourself to describe in three paragraphs why you did something? How do you respond out loud? If you’re good at it, some people will read it; if you’re not good at it and you stick with it, you’ll get good at it … Basically you’re doing it for yourself to force yourself to become part of the conversation.”

My colleagues who blog seriously cite at least eight benefits (none of which have to do with making money):
• you learn stuff you never expected to learn
• blogging forces you to examine your own viewpoints
• blogging teaches you to justify and support your opinions
• the wisdom you impart is nothing compared to the wisdom you gain
• as you blog, your writing gets better and better: sharper, less wordy, more energetic
• over time, you learn to speak more forcefully
• blogging promotes discipline and structure
• blogging is big fun.

Bonus Point: Check out the entire AmEx Open Forum video series here.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Will American Airlines' New Tax on the Poor Take Off?

American Airlines has hiked their checked-baggage fees by $5.00 -- but only for us regular blokes. First- and business-class flyers are exempt from extra baggage charges, as are international flyers and full-fare tickets holders in economy class. Some might call this “taxing the poor” and it seems a questionable pricing practice in the dawning day of equal opportunity marketing.

Extra-baggage fees on domestic flights actually make sense. Most of us haul too much junk around anyway and a trimmed down view of what we "can’t do without" is laudatory. But the marketing engine that applies a surcharge only to certain classes of customer could backfire. In short, marketers should consider whether class-created price differentials are a good marketing strategy.

When the economy was in high flight, the travel industry promised various classes of travelers different treatment than that given to "regular" people. The system worked really well. "Loyalty" and other perks made travelers felt oh-so-special. Now that times have changed -- now that our downwards-adjusted economy includes lots more people with lots less money -- how will class-based pricing strategies fare? Will such distinctions evolve to a marketing revolution? Will consumers demand new egalitarian treatment, stoked by social media participation?

Maybe response to American’s baggage plan will divulge what's ahead . Let’s watch.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bloggers Should Expect Press Releases

A colleague of mine recently got a digital spanking from a blogger. Amy (not her real name) had sent him a short news release targeted to the blogger's area of interest (marketing). The release featured a brief profile of and contact information for a client with digital marketing expertise.

Imagine Amy's surprise when she got back an email that began with the words ”Does your expert talk about spamming bloggers, Amy?” The note included a link that sent her to a blog post about spam.

Maybe he was having a bad day, but I think the blogger was as wrong as he was rude.

1) Results of an international Text100 Survey released in June make a clear distinction between professional news releases and spam. The survey confirms that 90 percent of 449 bloggers surveyed say they welcome contact by PR people and email is the preferred form of contact.

2) News releases (electronic or otherwise) shouldn’t require opt-in. Journalists -- by virtue of their chosen career -- have already opted in to receive legitimate information in their interest area.

3) Bloggers who write about corporate activities are arguably journalists. Information is their stock in trade and their tool is writing. Many bloggers can acquire press credentials and the practice is expanding.

4) Some blogging is flat-out business (nothing personal is going on here). Many bloggers accept advertising on their sites. Quite a few have published books. A good number accept speaking engagements.

All our blogger had to say was "take me off your list." No PR professional is going to pursue a journalist OR a blogger who's made that request. So why the attitude?

Thats my thinking and I’d love to hear yours.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, July 24, 2009

Information Websites Are the Next Move in Social Media

I spent the last two days at the DMAW/AFPDC Bridge Conference (well-attended, especially by the nonprofit, fundraising crowd). I was struck by two similar, but different, approaches that exemplify the trend to what I’m calling “Information Websites” – one for the (collegial) masses, one for the elite.

The first example is ThePort. Introduced in partnership with Convio, Inc., in early 2008, ThePort Social Media Suite lets nonprofit and professional associations build their own branded social media communities. With declining membership in associations and shrinking charitable contributions, the portal cleaves groups and builds allegiance by creating an Internet space for members-only participants to link-up, communicate, share information, blog, post photos, add friends, send and receive private messages, send messages to everyone, rate posted information, create events, etc.

The second example, which won’t be rolled out for another month or so, is an expansive (and, presumably, expensive) site under development by marketing and ad agency Foster-Redmond. The client -- a pharmaceutical company with an obesity drug and $3 billion in annual sales -- has underwritten the development of the portal to bring together top thought-leaders in the medical practice areas of obesity, diabetes, gastroenterology, etc. Participation at the site will transcend practice areas and will be by "invitation-only." Content and activities are designed to attract top-tier professionals in the medical field. Development of the portal took about a year and progressed with the guidance of doctors, chief information officers, research directors, and other senior level managers. All site activities must operate within the strict government guidelines that regulate the pharmaceutical industry and content must pass rigorous legal scrutiny. Despite that, Principal Jeff Foster notes that the process is designed to accommodate the vetting of content, queries, and responses within 24 hours. Foster acknowledges that the effort is a “first,” the value of which remains to be tested, but he and Co-Principal Will Redmond believe that such high-level “ports of exchange” represent the true direction of social media. "We know if we can develop a site like this within the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, we can do the same for any client," Remond says.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, July 23, 2009

LinkedIn Groups Deserve A Place in Social Media Efforts

The number of Professional Groups on LinkedIn seems to be exploding. I belong to 13 and just added another today.

As TechCrunch noted on March 20, LinkedIn made group management easier several months ago, when it allowed Group administrators to email updates to members. That's about the time I noticed some valuable activity on my LinkedIn groups. On July 7, Doug McSorley blogged the results of an informal poll that showed LinkedIn groups were getting much better participation than Facebook groups.

I couldn’t find a count on the total number of LinkedIn Groups, but I feel safe in saying there are enough for everybody. On June 24, the Applicant blog cited "10 LinkedIn Grops Every Job Seeks Should Join.” ODesk blog notes that there are 20 Groups for Freelancers. Bradley Will made a list of “Top 20 LinkedIn Groups ALL Entrepreneurs MUST Join." You get the point.

Louis Gray isn’t pleased with the way LinkedIn Groups function, though. On April 21, he noted shallow participation. "While my little social experiment is hardly comprehensive, discussions with other professionals in my network have offered much of the same qualitative analysis: Only a small percentage of groups see any significant conversation threads. So it would seem that in the minds of many I network with, LinkedIn groups are on the outs.”

Folks who commented on Louis’ post -- and if you're gauging whether or not to join a LinkedInGroup, you should read ALL the comments here -- generally agreed that group participation is relatively weak (few members comment, “discussions” fall flat, etc.), but many had useful suggestions. Sameer at Pretzel Logic said, "LinkedIn group discussions can certainly be anemic; however if you do get a conversation going, its far richer than many other social networks. The primary benefit to us in the early adopter crowd is that LinkedIn serves as a much more mainstream assessment of the point you're trying to get across. The tech echo chamber can get very myopic. The LinkedIn demographic helps to keep it real."

It takes only a few seconds to scan the email from Group managers and lately I’m finding that members are posting a lot more interesting articles, links, and suggestions. A couple of months ago the Twitter Innovators group invited members to pass along their Twitter names and profiles. Once they found out about it, a lot of spammers jumped on the bandwagon, but with careful culling, I was able to use the group to build my Follow list.

Bottom line: If a professional has time for only one social media effort, I'd recommend LinkedIn.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cleaning Up the Twitter Auto-Follow Mess

This morning, Mark Shaw had 16,092 followers on Twitter. Mark got there by "auto-following" (the Twitter practice of following back anybody who follows you). Mark has learned his lesson -- “You end up basically clogging up your stream with all this nonsense.” On his Phlog, Mark describes how he cleaned up the mess.

If you’ve already screwed up the auto-follow choice like Mark said he did, you can still get clean, but it's going to take some time. Twittori will help you remove people who haven’t tweeted for a period of time and Friendorfollow will identify people who aren’t following you back.

But how do you get rid of people who simply aren’t adding value? There’s no software to do it, so you have to do it manually. “It’s very time consuming, which is why I wish I hadn’t done auto follow in the first place,” Mark laments. But the process is worth it. Here are some determinants Mark uses to gauge follow or not follow:

• Am I interested in what the person is tweeting about? No? Go!
• Does the person display a website or a url? No? Go!
• Are the updates spam or RSS generated? Yes? Go!

Even after the culling (which Mark says consumes about 15 minutes of his day), you may still be left with a lot of people. If so, set up a group on Tweetdeck that separates the tweeple you don’t want to miss.

Now you’re in business.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

8 Jobs Your Business Should Give To A Graphic Designer

1. Create snazzy slide presentations.
Here's why.
For Inspiration.

2. Build graphs for clients.
Here's why.
For inspiration.

3. Design Custom Facebook business pages.
Here's why.
For inspiration or for more inspiration.

4. Design Custom Twitter landing pages.
Here's why.
For inspiration or for more inspiration.

5. Design Custom “about" pages.
Here's why.
For inspiration or for more inspiration.

6. Design Resumes.
Here's why.
For inspiration.

7. Design your blog.
Here's why.
For inspiration.

8. Create your website landing page.
Here's why.
For inspiration (according to Seth).

Yes, these are small jobs, but if your designer is an expert, most also are fast jobs. And, yes, it’s fair for designers to offer a different fee structure for corporate and small business clients.

So, get your guerrilla designer to rev up CS4 and look a lot better fast!

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, July 20, 2009

Marketers See Dollars When They Make It "All About Me"

On Friday, Marketing Daily reported that Scion has injected the “all about me” strategy into its advertising. In ads like “Be an icon, not an imitation” and “Be the original, not the copy,” the auto maker invites folks to become one of us by being none of us at an interactive website where the customer can create his or her personal “manifesto.” Scion execs say the effort is aimed at reaching "a new audience of creative urban consumers who are heavy into social media.”

Other examples are popping up here and there. Bank of America offers to emblazon your card with a personal photo. Production companies like Custom Print are enjoying success with web-to-print services that let customers hop online and order personalized print products (wedding favors, photos cards, gifts, posters, announcement, event products, photo calendar, and photo albums, etc.) that feature family photos. I just gotta be me!

• How long will it be before some automobile manufacturer offers custom detailing in the price of the car (the Japanese already go to extremes in pimping their transportation)?
Meg Ryan and Posh Beckam have their signature hair styles, so why can't some forward-thinking hairdresser offer customers a "cut it, style it, name it, frame it" service to the rest of us?
• Would my favorite restaurant take my recipe, cook it up, and put it on the menu with my name?

You get the idea. I'm sensing creative movement in the “make it my own” marketing arena. What have you seen?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are You ALSO Drifting Through Twitter, My Friends?

Digital Drifting – that’s what D. calls a few hours with Twitter. He's right. My mind boggles and I get seasick, as I float atop TweetDeck, riding the Black Sea of undulating screen refreshes.

I’m drowning!!

In only one day – yesterday -- I missed my meet-up at hub pages, skipped #assnchat again, failed to sign into my signed-up for Webinar, and even was reminded that I’d forgotten Slideshare exists! That was in the morning ..

My afternoon nosedived when I found out about Geoff Livingston’s anti-fan page. My God, woman! Geoff posted his anti-fan page in March! I’m hopelessly behind and Twitter demonstrates it to me every moment I'm on watch, scanning the horizon from my TweetDeck.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. I've been judicious (even snooty) about who I follow. I’ve even created a special group of “hot bloggers” (now narrowed to just two big names, plus friends who get hurt faces if I miss their tweets). Side note: You non-VIPs are more interesting than the Big Tweets who lunch daily with OIP (other important people).

Why do I keep shoveling the TwitS***? Because, for one thing, I am plagued with a curiosity that knows no bounds, that scrambles out of control, that runs amok when I go on Deck. And, second, I refuse to let go of this experiment to see how long a formerly sane person can tread Twitter.

Throw me a lifeline, would ya?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Six Fresh Ways To Ferret the Facts

Self-inflicted market research is a must for bloggers and experts. I decided to dive into the term "direct mail" at six deep -- but less populated -- pools of information. Here's what I learned.

Slideshare has volumes of slide and video presentations, the majority created by experts speaking at webinars, conferences, business presentation pitches, etc. Sure, most are salespeople, but they do have information, statistics, data, charts, and graphs. You can look at all of it on Slideshare. My quick search on “direct mail” turned up 5,000 related presentations. I narrowed the search to “direct mail statistics” and pulled up 4,398 hits. You can browse Slideshare by category (business, finance, technology, etc.), filter by type (presentations, documents, slidecasts, and video slides) and browse by popularity. It's tough schlogging, but don't overlook this authoritative resource.

Yelp. How are we entertaining ourselves, spending our leisure time, eating out? What doctors, dentists, churches, auto, travel, beauty/fitness and home service providers do we endorse or vilify? In 24 U.S. cities, Yelp knows for sure. In January, The New York Times reported that “Yelp has 4.5 million reviews and zealous contributors who organize meetings offline.” The site attracted 16.5 million visitors in December, two and half times the visits a year earlier. The Yelp search in my location (Yelp wouldn't let me do a national search) turned up just 10 hits on direct mail, all ads for businesses in the area. “Thai restaurant,” however turned up 107 hits and a slew of reviews. Bottom line: Yelp entertains more than it informs.

Advanced Twitter Search turned up lots of ads for folks selling direct mail, but also turned up some facts and sources. Writers should also find this a great resource for connecting with folks to interview. Note: With high hopes, I tried a Twittorati search and got nothing. Not sure what’s up with that. I guess the Top 100 Bloggers don't think about direct mail at all.

Bingtweets is the search fusion of Twitter and Microsoft’s Results are presented side by side, in separate windows -- google-ish hits (sorry, Microsoft) alongside scrolling Tweets (screen refreshing stops the scroll). Bingtweets strikes oil, but it's heavy on the bipolarity thing.

Squidoo offers a stopover at user-created pages called “lenses.” It's akin to visiting somebody's blog or website. Marketing wizard Seth Godin was part of the team that launched Squidoo in 2005. Because Squidoo shares revenue with contributors who post, lenses tend to feature content from people with something to sell, but I found some authoritative posts there, too. Lenses can accommodate a variety of content (Flickr photos, Google maps, blogs, YouTube video, etc.) and “direct mail” turned up 254 lenses out of the one million plus online. Note: Squidoo gives five percent of its revenue to charity. I like that.

YouTube got me 1,790 hits on direct mail. A slew of experts, sitting in front of their hand-helds, were pitching direct mail like crazy. Most of them knew the topic well, though the bulk of the information was basic. One guy who claimed to be an expert in “pre-foreclosure sales” animated this ugly topic with a 8.5-minute examination (actually, he was pretty knowledgeable.. brrrr). Another film showed a 20-something guy who claims he enjoyed 100% success with his first direct mail effort ["Clueless "rookie" gets 100% response rate from 1st direct mailing"]. I watched up to the 2.52-minute marker before I realized he was talking about sending a letter to one person.

Hey, noboby ever said research was easy. Good headline, though.

-- scrubbed by marketing brillo

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dear Borrell: No, I will not register at your site.

Dear Borrell:

You just did some research and you asked me if I wanted to see it. You offered me a "free download of the individual social network ad spending projections for 118 sites." Sure, I thought, sounds good. I expected to leave you with my name, email address, and even my phone number in return.

But that wasn't enough. In exchange for the juice, you wanted me to "register" at your site. No way.

I'm not your "customer" and I'm not a "user." I just dropped by to pick up what you said I could have for free. I'm happy to leave you the basics because I understand your need to market to me again in the future. That's a fair trade -- your knowledge for my contact info. But I'm not going to "register" at your site.

Look, it's nothing personal. Well, actually, it's very personal. Do you have any idea how many Internet sites I'm registered on? Wait ... I'm doing a count ... 101 (and that was a roadrunner, finger-down-the-page count; I know there’s probably another 50).

So, why can't you be one of them? Because I'm not buying anything from you, Borrell. I don't need to access your website regularly and we're not friends or colleagues, darn it! Yes, it benefits you when I register, but it means I have to both generate and remember another password. (That process always make me feel a little queasy anyway. You understand; it's one more password "out there.")

So bye, bye Borrell. I probably won't see you later. I’ll miss blogging about your report. I was going to, you know.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Four Must-Dos To Raise Money When There's Less Of It

In this shrinking economy, successful fundraisers are re-emphasizing four smooth moves to wrench donations from tight-fisted corporations.

In the July 1 NonProfit Times, marketing/communications/fundraising expert Rob Blizard confirms that fundraising today is a tougher more thoughtful sell. But Blizard makes the case that nonprofits can still attract scarce corporate dollars ... IF they can figure out – and explain – exactly where the corporate and nonprofit objectives intersect. What Blizard is talking about are efforts like Home Depot’s focused attention on Habit for Humanity … or Ben and Jerry’s new flavor, “Imagine Whirled Peace,” launched in partnership with Peace One Day.

Blizard's article boils down to FOUR the tactics being employed by successful fundraisers to secure donations in 2009’s tough economy:

1) Study the business objectives of a potential corporate client;
2) Determine where the nonprofit's goals intersect the company’s goals;
3) Demonstrate the corporation/nonprofit synergy strategy to the client;
4) Be willing to offer as much information about the nonprofit as the client demands, because at the end of the day, transparency wins the fundraising bid.

Study strategically, think creatively, demonstrate clearly, be transparent .. the four must-dos for all of us persuaders, whether in fundraising, marketing, PR, or social media.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, July 13, 2009

Take Twittorati for a Test Drive. You'll Buy It.

Thanks to a nudge from Ron Callari, I tested out Twittorati over the weekend. It’s a new search service that can retrieve real-time Twitter postings from Technorati’s Top 100 bloggers (more bloggers will be added to the search function later.)

I’d been messing around with Facebook Business Pages all morning and was very frustrated, so I thought I’d TwitSearch “Facebook” to see what the Twittorati were experiencing. After just one use, Twittorati earned its place in my search repertoire.

Chris Brogan tweeted that he'd set up his own Facebook Business Page improperly, and was paying the price (Chris! I feel your pain!) Michael Arrington at TechCrunch said, "One thing I’ll grudgingly grant to MySpace - the site works. That’s more than I can say for Facebook over the last month or so." Memo to Me: Maybe I'm not an idiot after all.

Twittering along, I stumbled into the murky waters of "who owns what?" TechDirt discussed's lawsuit to prevent Facebook from blocking outside access to its (our?) very proprietary data locked on 40,000 servers. The controvery was covered in Mashable, too. Memo to Me: Think (again) about who owns what and blog later.

SearchEngine Land noted that “fan pages” are constructed in such a way that it's actually possible for a Facebook fan page to Google-up before a company's official website. Memo to Me: What's a "website" anyway? Discuss FB Business Page option with clients.

During a TechCrunch-up, Chris Cox said Facebook is "testing a bunch of versions of the home page .. balancing the aggregated view with the real-time view .. creating a model for what we want to know about our friends." Memo to Me: He's from Facebook and he's here to help me. Why do I feel so queasy?

Meanwhile, Mashable reports that, in 2009, MySpace revenues are projected to be more than twice those of Facebook. Memo to Me: The jury's been instructed, but it's still out. Take a deep breath and Tweet again in the morning.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Twit Snit re the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Twitter

There's good Twitter and bad Twitter. And then there's b-UGLY Twitter.

My Good Twitter (GT) daily performs two miracles that no other process can. First, GT keeps me in close touch with the current work of my "top tier," the thinkers, doers, and influencers I respect across a variety of industries. Second, GT is the only way for me to regularly connect with my "lite tier," the many everyday folks doing the same things I am. I want to know what you're working on, what interests you, what resources you have found valuable and passed along (thank you!).

The Bad Twitter is naughty, indeed. Too often, my Tweet box overflows with hasty ReTweets -- send alongs of news that's already out there, everywhere (not Michael Jackson or Steve McNair R.I.P... that's a whole *other* story. I'm talking about those hasty ReTweets of stuff that's all over the wire, and all over the Net). Second -- and regrettably -- from some in the "top tier," I also must bear a certain number of Tweets about which no one cares a whit. (I know you're famous and I know you're special, but I *still* don't care what you had for lunch or whether you're going to bed now. Why must you charge me the painful price of your Daily Stuff so that I might get to the nuggets of your genius when it's finally ready for public consumption? Alas, this is such a high price that I may be forced to "unfollow you," which I will do with deep regret). p.s. God bless you Seth Godin for the thoughtful genius of your "@NotGodinREPOSTS." So simple. So focused. So useful!

And then there's the "ugly" -- the JUNK Twits, the murky bottom feeders who hope to get rich quick or sell me something. You know who you are and you savage my valuable time by forcing me to figure out you're a Nut Twit. I never want to see your b-ugly face again. B-ugly, be gone.

What's your Twit Snit, my friends? Do tell...

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Push A Button and Send Your eNewsletter Content Viral

The various Smart Brief newsletters have done a very smart thing. They’ve added social media "share" buttons at the end of each article. Now subscribers can easily and instantly post favorite articles to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Most electronic newsletters are opt-in, and thus “for subscribers only.” Still, I’m wondering why I hadn't see these systems “go social” until yesterday. Folks who do subscribe are connected to other folks just like them, which creates a perfect viral opportunity for eNewsletter publishers.

Bottom line: Watch for social media share buttons to pop out all over the electronic newsletter industry.

-- Scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Four Reasons for Every Professional To Get LinkedIn

TechCrunch noted that, in January 2009, LinkedIn's unique visitor count surged 22% over the previous month and "minutes spent on the site" doubled. Observers have noted that LinkedIn's growth may be a response to the bad economy. But LinkedIn is much more than a place to plop a resume.

In a July 6 post, LinkedIn "personal trainer" Steven Tylock explained why the social networking site is for more than job hunting. I agree with Tylock, for the following four reasons:

1. The recent explosion of "groups" on LinkedIn offers thousands of options for joining a cadre of compatible professionals. Some of the groups are huge (Marketing&PR Innovators has some 54,000 members) and some groups are quite small -- even picky -- in their "by invitation only" practices. The choice is ours.

2. The number of folks flocking to the"Group Discussions" has exploded in recent months. People are asking more questions and making more comments. It's terrific peer-to-peer learning and a chance to share what you know.

3. The most exciting use I've seen recently, was initiated by LinkedIn activist Gerald "Solutionman" Harman, who manges (among other things), the Twitter Innovators group. Harman recently invited members of that group (who, I think numbered only in the hundreds at the time) to "introduce" their Twitter-selves to other members. When I checked this morning the Group had mushroomed to 10,806 members. Obviously, something went viral here and no wonder...

4. .... Linked and Twitter make a terrific professional partnership. Harman got hundreds of people to introduce themselves. In the first week particularly, the quality of people sharing their twitter account was exceptionally high (no spammers or network marketers, just genuine experts looking to connect). That week of activity helped a lot of us identify compatible people to follow on Twitter. The effort also facilitated additional LinkedIn relationships because any who chose to do so could connect by virtue of membership in the Twitter Innovators group.

For these reasons and more -- and unlike my somewhat negative experience with Facebook -- as a professional I am a total LinkedIn fan.

A year ago, LinkedIn got a $53 million infusion of funding from Bain Capital, putting the company's valuation then at $1 billion. In February, based on site visits, Web analytics provider, Compete, rated LinkedIn fifth in the social networking line-up, with 11,274,000 users, behind Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Flixster. The year-over-year comparison showed that Facebook had overtaken MySpace for the top spot, but LinkedIn had moved up four slots from ninth place (Note: Twitter won the place improvement race, though, moving from 22nd to third position).

So far, LinkedIn has proven to be the best professional social media network. I think it's going to get even better.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ReTweeting By the Numbers, I'm Not Rich Yet

Social and viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella has been doing statistical analysis of ReTweets. So far, I've learned a couple of things from Dan.

In his December 2008 post, I got statistical confirmation of what most Tweeple already suspect -- "most RT streams are merely one user ReTweeting another, and never go any further."

In January, Dan posted The 20 Words and Phrases That Will Get You the Most Retweets. In that post, he said, "My research has shown that the number of followers exposed to a Tweet has only a weak correlation to the number of ReTweets it gets, indicating that the content of the tweet may be more important than the user posting it." To me, that says you don't necessarily have to be a "somebody" to get a lot of ReTweets, but it helps if you have something original to say. For most of us, that probably adds up to glimmers of hope, but not much likelihood.

In his quest to find out what makes a ReTweet go viral, last week Dan added an authoritative post on the Linguistics of Retweets. In this post, Dan notes that, "ReTweets are the first entirely observable and analyzable viral content spreading mechanism in the history of mankind and as such they offer an unparalleled window into what makes humans spread ideas."

After crunching 10 million ReTweets, Dan observed that -- compared to Tweets themselves -- ReTweets:
1. contain links three times more often.
2. contain longer, higher syllable-count words.
3. tend to be less “readable” and require a higher level of education to understand.
4. prize novelty.
5. tend to read like headlines, in that they allude to subject matter.
6. are less primordial, less emotional.
7. rely on constructive words like" build" and "create," but struggle with abstract thought and sensation-based words.
8. favor work, religion, money, and media/celebrities (negative emotions, sensations, swear words, and self reference, not so much).

I'm still not sure what makes a ReTweet go viral, though. I guess if I knew that, I'd be rich.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, July 6, 2009

Your Twitter Brain Trust Is A Cinch To Set Up

About two weeks ago, I had a Eureka! moment when I realized that certain people I choose to follow on Twitter actually comprise my very own brain trust. I knew I should group these folks, but I was too busy to figure out how. Then it dawned on me that Tweetdeck is configured to do this automatically -- duh! -- so over the weekend I created my “Hot Bloggers”group – a bunch of Tweeple that I set apart so I can watch their particular posts more carefully.

Gerd Leonhard – gazillions of steps ahead – just blogged about his own group -- the Futerati -- saying, “So I figured it's time to give some more explicit credit to all those great people that have influenced me, and I thought maybe a good way to do that is to list them on a special, Twitter-API-based site such as Futerati.”

In the blog, Gerd cites an article from Harvard Business School describing the research strategy Proctor&Gamble launched over three years ago. Gerd adapted Proctor&Gamble’s strategy to PFEs (Proudly Found Elsewhere). PFEs, he says, have become an important part of his work -- one that surely will be facillitated by his Futerati.

Amid the Net clamor, our own Twitter "groups" become a wonderful ally. Here we find short and well-crafted headlines directing us to the work and thoughts of the people we trust most.

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Ritz Marketing Goes Econo Label To Fool Shoppers

Sturdy Roots blogger Dan Smolen and his wife, Marsha Weiss, did a double take while shopping in a Stafford, Virginia, Target over the weekend. Two boxes of RITZ crackers appeared side by side on the shelf: one wore traditional RITZ packaging and the another appeared in a less RITZ-y, eco-friendly disguise that looked humble enough to pass for a store brand.

Research indicates that shoppers are continuing their defection from branded products to store labels, but Smolen isn't buying it. “Does Nabisco really believe they can persuade consumers into believing that they are selling ‘generic’ RITZ crackers? If so, this has got to be the first time in recorded memory that a consumer packaged goods manufacturer has disguised a premium brand as a store brand [to fool] consumers.”

Shoppers beware crackers in new clothing, though. Both Ritzy and not-so-Ritzy versions were going for the same price.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Levi's New Ad Campaign Will Disclose A Lot About Gen Z

Gen Z and a few late Gen Y-ers are America's future. Levi's new “Go forth” ad campaign seems to be a rebranding effort aimed at one company's perception of where these cohorts are in the 2009 Zeitgeist –namely, that these young people are adventurous, eco-conscious, idealistic, and optimistic. Has Levi's hit the mark?

Obama’s election would indicate yes, but election day in November 2008 predated the full impact of today's Scary Recession by eight months (yesterday, unemployment hit 9.5 percent, with job losses widespread across industry sectors). So, maybe not.

Widen+Kennedy, the agency that developed the “go forth” campaign, displays talent, to be sure. Their creative strategy encourages a different way to look at Levi's and employs widespread messaging on TV and in print (that may be a bit old-fashioned already; I'd like to have heard more about their social media strategy). On the other hand, some 60-second spots will show in urban movie theatres in cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Miami.

Essentially, the “Go Forth” message harkens back to the "Go West, young man," era, when all things were still possible. Thus, Levi's re-positions itself as the jeans for the “Yes, we can” generation (Note: when I did a Google search on “go forth,” Levi’s new website came up as the fifth hit. Smart. Check it out here. Also note that the website is actually titled “”

But, will Gen Z -- clearly the target audience --buy this? Gen Y may already have been counted out of the game, since Levis' messaging, subliminally at least, critizies Gen Y's pre-recession excesses, when it was cool, if not mandatory, to wear designer jeans. "Go Forth" shouts out for a de-emphasis on consumption, with copy that says “strike up for the new world” and “this country was not built by men in suits.” I assume that Gen X and baby boomers are out of this battle altogether. I'm dated to say that I haven't heard of a single magazine where Widen+Kennedy will place print ads: Fader, Filter, Vice, Soma, Blackbook, Paper, Anthem, and Spin.

Which is not to predict whether or not this thing is going to work. Notably, though, the London-based and very edgy is already finding Levi’s campaign “a bit creepy." The criticism seems to be that the campaign doesn’t ring true. Me-me-me mocks the Go Forth message, saying, “'There is a better tomorrow,' apparently. 'Look across the plains and mountains.' Oh, shut up! As if anyone lives near plains and mountains. 'And see America’s eternal promise… Go forth with me.' Tell you what. You go forth. We’ll stay here and finish these drinks."

The Levi's campaign should be able to very quickly disclose how damaged our Gen Z kids have been by the woes of economic chaos. Is there any energy left to “Go forth”? I suspect Levi's is about to answer that.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Direct Marketing Is Very Kaizen. Arigato, gozaimasu.

Harvard Business School’s bnet posted an article last month about applying “lean production” methods to a service industry – in this case, a software developer based in India. Reference to a white paper on the subject published in October 2007 got me to thinking about how “lean production” is the heart of a well-run direct marketing department. In fact, best practices in direct mail are way lean.

a) Direct mail involves continuous testing, measuring, and adjusting.

b) In seeking improvement, components of a direct mail package are changed, but direct mail tests are evaluated as a total effort. That way we learn which component made the difference: the list, the copy, the design, the offer. Everybody gets a shot at doing better and proving it.

c) “Kaizen” (continuous improvement) is the goal and “good” is never “good enough.” Did the test out-perform the control? Yes … so we'll test again. Did the control out-perform the test? Yes .. we'll still test again.

d) All participants in a direct mail campaign – the marketing manager, the copywriter, the list broker, the designer, the analytics and data team – get their shot at improving. This offers everybody a chance to be part of the “lean production” experience, since a well executed campaign abolishes hierarchies and puts everybody on equal footing (if not, the marketing manager really needs to fix that).

Cross media marketing – which combines direct mail, email, and personalized websites to target market -- offers marketers an unparalleled opportunity to test, measure, evaluate, and adjust in real-time. Pretty exciting, huh?


-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo