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Without a Net



joining the fray -- discussions of my experiences as a marketer, father, husband, and ...



Last Build Date: Fri, 03 Jun 2016 17:32:28 +0000

 



The Challenges Facing Today's CMO

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 04:25:00 +0000

As was widely reported last year, Gartner's Laura McLellan predicted that by 2017, the CMO would spend more on IT than the CIO.This has come up again in my thinking as a I have been doing some work recently for a client. I was struck by the complexity of the set of software tools available to the CMO. If we just look at content marketing, Curata recently published an interesting map of the associated tools available for that discipline:Curata's Content Marketing Map (click here for a full size version)Consider this complexity shown in the diagram for a moment. Granted, content marketing forms the foundation of most modern marketing campaigns, so this is a large part of the tool universe that the CMO has to worry about. However, this doesn't even address digital advertising, another major area of concern for the CMO. The map for the digital advertising toolset it equally as complex, including media firms, ad networks, targeting technologies, paid search and paid social management, etc.Because of the movement toward everything being digital, the CMO is asked to manage incredible technical complexity. Even a smaller firm's chief marketer probably deals with at least a dozen different tools. At a larger firm, it can be far more.So how is a CMO supposed to manage this technology complexity? The Gartner statement implies a comparison, or even a competition for resources, between a CIO and a CMO. But there is one major difference between the two: the CIO is a technologist, but that frequently is not true of the CMO. Although it is changing, the CMO's experience is built on branding, positioning, strategy, advertising, and many other tools, not necessarily on technology.Purchase RiskOne of most challenging aspects of managing these large technology bases is reducing the risk associated with purchasing and integrating new technologies. The CIO and CMO both control very large technology budgets, and hence face significant risk when making the decision to purchase a new tool that may cost millions of dollars. How do they ensure that this new tool will work as advertised with the other tools they already own? How do they limit purchase risk?The CIO has a couple of means to minimize risk:Large tool providers with complete offerings, like IBM or Microsoft. These companies offer very broad product lines that are already integrated, so the CIO can confidently add new tools to her existing lineup.Third-party VARs, integrators, and middleware providers. Because the IT software and services industry is fairly mature, there are thousands of third-party providers ready to step in to both help guide the purchase selection process and to ensure successful integration of the new tool.Does the CMO have access to the same risk-reduction techniques? The marketing tools market is much younger than the IT market. Some tool categories are brand new (like content curation) and others are still rapidly evolving. There are few large providers that have complete solutions. Third-party providers are rare, and tend to take the form of marketing agencies that don't have much of a track record in technology integration.Risk Abatement for CMOsThe marketing tools vendors are moving rapidly to address the risk issue. First, there has been a lot of consolidation activity as large enterprise software providers have made significant purchases in this area. Here are some examples:Adobe acquired Omniture, Efficient Frontier Technology, Demdex, and NeolaneIBM acquired Unica, Xtify, DemandTec, and CoremetricsOracle acquired Compendium, Eloqua, Collective Intellect, and VirtrueSalesforce acquired ExactTarget, Pardot, Buddy Media, and Radian6Clearly, these companies are trying to become the same kind of full solution provider for marketing technology as they are for information technology.Beyond acquiring companies for their portfolios, these companies are also establishing 'marketplaces' for third-party applications that work with and complement their solutions. These marketplaces include the Eloqua AppCloud and Salesforce AppExchange. While these marketplaces hel[...]



Marketing Gold: How to Develop Brand Evangelists

Tue, 27 Aug 2013 21:12:00 +0000

The concept of the brand evangelist has been around a long time. Guy Kawasaki wrote about it in the Art of the Start back in 2004. However, relatively few marketers actively recruit and engage evangelists, in part because it's not as easy to do as simply writing case studies or buying ads. But brand evangelists are the marketer's gold, and the smart marketer should include the development of brand evangelists as part of any complete marketing plan.The Value of EvangelistsWhy are brand evangelists so valuable? The evangelist:Provides unpaid third party validation of your product or service. Because they're unpaid, they're perceived as especially trustworthy and credible.Develops or extends word of mouth. Evangelists are the most energetic form of word-of-mouth referrers.Allows prospects to see themselves with your product. They can see how your product or service improved users' lives, and hopefully will see themselves in that 'mirror.'Continues indefinitely. Unlike marketing campaigns that have a limited lifetime, evangelists tend to continue for many months or even years with continued company engagement.Evangelist-sourced content can be part of, and provide lift to, any marketing campaign.Finding Your EvangelistA brand evangelist can be one of the most valuable marketing assets a firm has. So how does the marketer go about identifying potential evangelists?Recruit salespeople and post-sales support teams. Not only are they the ones who communicate most with customers, but they're going to be the biggest user of the evangelists' content, as well. They have a stake in the entire process.Identify customers who are active bloggers. They have shown an interest in publishing their opinions.Use influencer* identification tools, such as Klout for Business, Traackr, GroupHigh, or SpotRight. There are many others.Monitor and review comments on user forums or product review sites.Establish promotions that solicit user submissions at events for users or owners. If your company is large enough to have a user event, take advantage of that investment. Listen to visitors at your trade show booth. Evangelists are already fans of your product or service, and they'll make a point of visiting your booth.By comparing candidates across all of the above sources, you should be able to identify a handful of promising candidates. Now, you have to recruit them.Recruiting EvangelistsWhy does someone evangelize about a product or brand? According to Kawasaki, simply because they want to make the world a better place. They want to help others who might be facing the same challenges, providing them with advice based on their own experiences. This is the key to recruiting someone to serve as an evangelist, and should serve as the theme of your outreach to them.A secondary motivation might be their own self-interest, whether that's to enhance their career options, to grow their blog traffic, or just to boost their own ego. Depending on the characteristics of the prospect, the appeal to his or her self-interest can be explicit or implicit. For instance, you could offer them early visibility into upcoming product features.Leveraging EvangelistsOnce identified and recruited, there are many different ways to channel their evangelistic fervor into corporate content:Provide them with opportunities to submit guest articlesEncourage them to post ongoing videos, and promote those videos through your channelsShare infographics, or help them create their ownEnable them to become an active voice in user forumsThat's the great thing about evangelists. They're already motivated, so the only limitation on how to leverage them is your own imagination.*Influencers and evangelists are not synonymous. Evangelists are influencers that are true believers and have a much higher motivation to provide active support to, and endorsement of, the brand. Much of recent social media marketing has been focused on identifying and engaging influencers. While this is important, it is also important to go that one step further to identif[...]



Digital Marketing IS DEAD

Wed, 08 May 2013 16:55:00 +0000

Long live marketing!A while back, I wrote a post about how digital marketing is just marketing. The same rules apply, like the three Cs and four Ps, positioning, communications fundamentals, all of that. These rules are just applied in some relatively new media, like search, display, and social.Recently, Vanessa Colella, Citibank's North American head of consumer marketing, said something very similar but from almost the opposite perspective. In fact, she said it far better than I did.According to Vanessa, her first order of business in her position was to "eliminate the digital marketing department."Vanessa Colella"Why? Because everyone in a company's marketing department needs to be fluent in digital strategy. "There's no path for you if you don't," she said."This is music to my ears. Every marketer must now be a digital marketer. For example, if you're a PR specialist, and you're not well-versed in not only social media and online community-building, but influence tracking tools, SEO, campaign tagging, and analytics and conversion attribution techniques, then you won't be fully effective for your client or employer. You'll eventually be replaced by someone who is comfortable with all those technologies and techniques.Similarly, marketing education needs to be synonymous with digital marketing education. I recently taught a university course on digital marketing, covering a broad range of topics: search, social, video, mobile, display, tracking and targeting, websites, analytics, conversation optimization, etc. For most of my students, my course was the first time they had explored many of these topics in detail.But these topics need to be integrated into every class in the marketing curriculum. For instance, the marketing communications course that begins the path to a newly-minted PR specialist should include all the digital techniques I described above, in order to create a foundation for a successful communications career.I have also been guilty of describing myself as a 'digital marketer,' thereby continuing this obsolete differentiation between digital marketing and traditional marketing. In reality, I was doing 'traditional' B2B technology marketing for a decade before I ever added digital techniques to my toolkit. So I have begun to change how I describe myself, instead focusing on my strength as a demand-generation strategist, as opposed to a branding specialist, for instance.For the marketing profession, this transition is slow in coming, but inevitable. Ultimately, the modifier 'digital' should, and will, drop from the marketer's lexicon.(Skull image provided renjith krishnan and graduate by David Castillo Dominici, both at freedigitalphotos.net.)[...]



Understanding Virality: The Top 10 Factors for Achieving Viral Video Greatness

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 04:27:00 +0000

A while back I came across a Mashable article entitled "The Top 20 Most-Shared Ads of 2012" based on data from Unruly, a UK-based video marketing and monitoring firm.  It's an entertaining list of ads and it's worth a look. More recently, the world witnessed the phenomenon of the Harlem Shake, whose crazy virality was documented by YouTube.This all has me thinking about the drivers for virality. What's required to achieve viral video success? Can virality be planned or, at least, can the chance of virality be maximized?Many people think Gangnam Style was an overnight success because of a catchy pop hook and fun video. However, there was a lot of strategic groundwork laid before the video creation and launch, including establishing partnerships with American artists like Will.I.Am and organically growing their YouTube audience over a long period of time.So, what are the top 10 factors in achieving viral video success?Defining Viral SuccessFirst, how should you define viral success? According to the Unruly 100 Viral Video chart, to get in the top 100, a video needs about 10,000 shares in the first day, 75,000 in the first week, and 300,000 in the first month. But that's for the top videos in the world. Does your viral success need to be judged against the world, so you need to achieve 10,000 shares a day? Would 10,000 shares in the first month be a viral success for you?Let's say my blog gets about 1000 visits per month. Given that baseline, 10,000 visits in a month would be a huge success. Your own unique business situation and goals will determine what target viral success is for you.Strategic Success FactorsThere are two groups of success factors that I call strategic and tactical.Kevin Allocca of YouTube Trends gave an entertaining TED talk in which he identifies three factors required for viral success. These are what I call strategic factors, and I broaden them a bit from Kevin's:Have an unexpected hook. With the Harlem Shake, it was a great song hook combined with the strangeness of the format, with a person in a helmet grooving a little while everyone looks bored, then the group goes wild at the song jump.Encourage the community to participate. Any video that can be easily imitated, spoofed, or  somehow responded to will drive its distribution.Drive strong emotion. It could be shock, awe, surprise, curiosity, joy, or some other emotion, but the emotional content has to be there.Promote through tastemakers or curation. Kevin identifies examples of Jimmy Kimmel and others promoting videos to get them started on their way to virality. You may not need a Jimmy Kimmel, however. Your industry likely has its own trend setters with healthy followings.It's pretty easy to assemble the list of strategic success factors, but the art is in the execution. Creating content with an engaging hook, that drives strong emotions, and encourages participation takes some level of creative genius. Promoting your video is a success factor that may be more predictable or controllable. However, there are other things you should do to maximize the likelihood of success.Tactical Success FactorsPaul "Bear" Vasquez was simply the lucky recipient of a tweet from Jimmy Kimmel that launched his wild viral success for his double rainbow video. If you are striving for that success and don't want to rely on luck, there are several more tactical steps you should take:Be concise. There are several data that show that shorter is better. For instance, according to the Jun Group, social video ads of 15 seconds or less are shared nearly 37% more than those between 30 seconds and 1 minute, and 18% more than videos longer than a minute. The Harlem Shake videos are only 30 seconds, which means several can be viewed in a brief session.Make it a progressive series. Get viewers involved or emotionally invested, then keep bringing them back for more. The Old Spice videos are an example of this. Progressive series allow initial modest sharing to[...]



The Impact of Big Science Saturday

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 00:49:00 +0000

For long-time readers of this blog, you know that Big Science Saturday (BSS) was a part of our family for several years. Over those years, my sons and I probably performed 100 different experiments of varying complexity, but almost always fun.As I said many times, my goal was never to steer the boys into science careers. I was really trying to do three things:Get them to wonder how things work and to ask probing questions.Teach them how to have a structured approach to solving problems.Show them that science can be fun.Well, as life has marched on and the boys have grown older, BSS is no more, and I sometimes wonder if I achieved any of these goals.As I now consider this question, I suppose I did have some success. For instance, those BSS times developed into our appreciation for robots, like those on the TV show BattleBots on Comedy Central. We're very intrigued by the upcoming SyFy show Robot Combat League, which will debut in a couple of weeks, which appears to have robot battles like those in the movie Real Steel.But it's not just TV shows. We also seek out local robot events, like the FIRST Robotics competition coming up in April. And recently, Maddox even spent $130 of his own money on an Orbotix Sphero.So, I suppose I have made some progress on goal number 3, associating science with fun.Another effect of those many weekends of BSS can be seen in the boys' science fair projects over the years. Their science fair projects tend to be rooted in real-world things they have seen or heard about, rather than the standard old projects of studying how bread molds or using Coke as a cleaning agent.For example, a while back I was telling the boys about an incident when a bird pooped on me when I was about eight or nine. That led to a conversation about how difficult it might be for a bird to poop on a specific target while it was flying. Maddox turned that into a clever science fair project that involved building a testing rig from erector set, complete with a long rail with a motorized traveler, a bucket on the traveler that dropped a marble at a specific position, and a little Lego guy as the target. It was a great project, although the principal of his school didn't think 'poop' was an appropriate topic, and suggested that the bird be a carrier pigeon dropping a message. Give me a break. Maddox went with an unspecified 'package,' and let people use their imaginations.Their interest in basing science fair projects on real-world observations shows some success in achieving goal number one, wondering how things work. So, I suppose all of those BSS sessions have had some positive impact in terms of the original goals.However, the most important impact of BSS was letting us spend some terrific family time together doing sciency things, and I see the results of that every day. That's really what made it worth the effort.(Lab equipment image provided by renjith krishnan and bird provided by Dr Joseph Valks, both at freedigitalphotos.net. Sphero image provided by Orbotix.)[...]



Are LinkedIn Endorsements Meaningless?

Fri, 01 Feb 2013 17:58:00 +0000

Recently, Todd Wasserman of Mashable wrote an article stating that LinkedIn's endorsements have become meaningless. Feel free to read the article, but he's basically saying that, because endorsements are so easy to give (friction-free, in his terms), they're widely abused, so they have become meaningless. He cites examples of random endorsements he's received for languages he doesn't speak, or requests for reciprocal endorsements, as examples of their misuse. He then goes on to make the argument that they would be more useful if more effort was required to give or receive them (i.e. add friction to the process). Almost all of the comments on his article agree with him.I disagree with both the argument that they're worthless, as well as the suggestion that making them more difficult to give would improve their usefulness. Fundamentally, I think they're serving their purpose well, which is to implement almost a 'wisdom of crowds' assessment of a person's skills.First, let's remember to differentiate between recommendations and endorsements, because, as I've researched this a little on various discussion forums, they tend to be confused. Recommendations are the items where someone took the time to write something nice about you. Here's an example from the profile of Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO:In the language of the article, they are a high-friction activity, so should be viewed as having some value.  But you can help someone to write your recommendation. To me, recommendations are similar to references used when you seek a job. They're somewhat illustrative, but must be viewed with some suspicion and not heavily weighted in the decision process.Endorsements are the little check-boxes on skills on your LI profile. At first I thought they were of little value because, as the shared article states, they're just too easy to give. But then I watched how the endorsements on my profile evolved:Over time, certain skills on my profile clearly rose to the top: marketing strategy, digital marketing, online marketing, and lead generation. Those are exactly the skills that I believe I do best, and that I want others to know that I do best.UNSCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT: Take a look at your own LinkedIn profile. If you have a solid number of connections, say a couple hundred, see if the skills identified as the most endorsed are an accurate representation of what you believe to be your actual skills, or if they at least reflect how you think the world may view your skills. I'd be curious to hear your conclusions in the comments below.The Wisdom of Crowds?So is this actually a small implementation of the 'wisdom of crowds?' In his book defining this concept, that the "many are smarter than the few," James Surowiecki points out that a diverse collection of independently deciding individuals is likely to make certain types of decisions and predictions better than individuals or even experts. Is that the case with LinkedIn endorsements?Endorsements seem to fit the four criteria Surowiecki identifies as separating wise crowds from irrational ones:Diversity of opinion: Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.Independence: People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of those around them.Decentralization: People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.Aggregation: Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.Yes, you get the noise of the occasional friend that endorses every skill, or endorsements from people that don't know you that well and endorse you for something that makes little sense. Aren't those just 'eccentric interpretations?' And the bar graph display of endorsed skills seems to provide the evidence of the collective opinion.Endorsements are a Valuable IndicatorOver time and over a larger population of connections, a true profile of your skills, as acknowledged by your pe[...]



The New Content Marketing: Mass Customization

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 15:41:00 +0000

In my last post, I stated that the standard B2B content marketing model is in need of improvement. This is because everybody is doing the same thing, creating the same kinds of content, and filling up prospects' email inboxes with it to the point where it's now just so much noise.So, what's my idea for cutting through the noise? How would I suggest we change the game?'Case Study': Marketing IBM's EMM SuiteFirst, let me lay the foundation with an illustration. Let's look at IBM, specifically their Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) suite, and let's assume that their marketing efforts have attracted a web visitor from American Express.On the EMM web page, they offer case studies for Citrix, Land's End, Seton Hall University, and Wehkamp. Well, American Express is not an enterprise software provider, a clothing retailer, a university, or a Dutch mail order company. By making these case studies available to an American Express lead, they're hoping that that person will be able to see a little of her own problems and challenges in one of those stories.They also have some good video content within this section of their website, and repeated on their YouTube channel. For instance, here's a six minute overview of their Digital Marketing Optimization Solution. Again, in this video, they're using data from an activewear retailer, which is not American Express's business.So, while IBM has published some solid content about their EMM suite, there is a potential communication or engagement disconnect with most visitors, since most visitors won't be in the small handful of verticals represented in the content.(Another problem with this site is one of the most common that I see in B2B technology marketing. The entire language of the EMM home page, and much of the site, is in terms of solutions, not problems. This requires the web visitor to already have gone through the mental analysis of their problem to have arrived at a solution, but not all have progressed that far. If I have knee pain, I don't search out an arthroscopic surgeon because I don't yet know that I need surgery. I search out a doctor that will help me understand the cause of my knee pain and suggest possible solutions. This is a topic for a future post, however.)One of their competitors is Adobe's Marketing Cloud, who have at least attempted to engage more directly with their visitors. For instance, they have a section of the page that speaks to specific job titles:Adobe also has a series of pain-type statements on the top panel, like "social media is worthless," "half your ad spend is wasted," "marketers hate big data," and others. While these may not match any particular visitor's pain, at least they're attempting to move ahead of solutions and more into needs.So what is IBM to do, given the following constraints?They don't know what company a given visitor is from, or what their particular needs or problems are.They can't publish content for every vertical.Marketing Mass CustomizationMy vision for the next generation of content marketing is a system that delivers content customized for each individual visitor. The next wave of B2B content marketing should be marketing mass customization.Mass customization is a manufacturing concept that was developed in the early 1990s that described the ability to manufacture products fully customized for individual consumers at near-mass-produced costs. The technique relied on advanced technologies, like computer-aided manufacturing, interactive configurators, and automated inventory control systems. Dell, for instance, enables something like this in their PC ordering process.How would marketing mass customization work? How would IBM be able to provide customized content to each individual visitor? Remember, this is my vision for where content marketing should go, but while that capability may not exist currently, it's certainly not [...]



Moving Beyond Content Marketing

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 14:42:00 +0000

I went to bed last night thinking about a question. I'll share the question in a moment, but first let me say why I went to bed thinking about a question.It's fairly common for me to go to sleep considering some particularly challenging problem. I find that the time before I'm fully awake can be a time of imaginative free-thinking that can lead to creative solutions. It's one of the ways that I solve problems. Other times that I find to be productive for problem-solving thought include when I'm in the shower, or when I'm out on a long, exhausting bike ride. When I empty my mind of other thought, either through exhaustion, or snoozing, or similar activities, I can typically achieve some clarity on thorny questions.The question I was noodling last night was this. The standard B2B marketing success playbook looks something like this:Create various forms of content:Thought leadership pieces on where your industry is goingWhite papers addressing particular challenges in your customers' environmentsCase studies describing how your product or service improved your customers' businessMake that content visible through a wide variety of channels, frequently behind registration walls:Social media channelsOn the company websiteIn email newslettersUse the gathered email addresses from registrations to feed a marketing automation processTrack user activity and adapt content to drive users to a conversion pointThere are various challenges and problems with this model:Everybody wants to be the thought leader in their segment, but that clearly can't be the case.All customers get lots of these marketing automation emails.Recent data shows that while companies believe they're engaging customers, they may not actually be doing so.All companies within every segment are pursuing exactly the same playbook, which, in the mind of their consumers, leads to a lot of noise.It seems to me a new playbook is needed to break through this noise. Since it's Super Bowl week, let me provide a football analogy. In the mid-1980s, San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh introduced what came to be known as the West Coast offense, which emphasized short, horizontal passing routes in lieu of running plays in order to stretch defenses to open up long runs and passes. It was highly successful and changed the game for the next twenty years. Now, with the recent advent of quarterbacks capable of running as well as passing, like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick, the read option offense may again be redefining the game.So what is going to redefine the B2B marketing game? That's the problem I went to sleep considering. What did I come up with? I have an idea, which I'll share in my next post, so please check back here in the next week or two, or subscribe in the box to the right so you'll be notified when I publish. In the meantime, if you have thoughts on this, please leave a comment.(Images provided by freedigitalphotos.net. The sleeping man image -- not me, by the way -- is from imagery majestic, and the football is from Idea go.)[...]



Digital Marketing is ... Marketing

Thu, 24 Jan 2013 19:13:00 +0000

I am a digital marketer. By that I mean that I use digital marketing tools and channels to promote products and services. These tools and channels include: SEO, PPC, display or banners, advanced targeting techniques, social media communications, social media advertising, remarketing, affiliates, analytics, conversion optimization, A/B testing, email, and marketing automation. But the most important word in the phrase 'digital marketer' is marketer, not digital.What's important to me about these tools is not that they utilize cool, advanced technologies, and they're steeped in data, and they help automate or optimize complex campaigns or processes. Don't get me wrong, I'm an engineer by training and I LOVE all that stuff. No, what's really important about those digital marketing tools is that they help me market to today's consumer.It's common for practitioners of digital marketing to get caught up in the tools, the data, and the technology, and forget the marketing fundamentals. But digital marketing is just a subset of marketing, and based on the same fundamentals.What fundamentals? Well, the real basics, like the three Cs and four Ps:For instance, the four Ps* define the product marketing mix, of which digital channels are a component. Digital technologies have different characteristics than traditional technologies, like greater speed and immediacy, bidirectional communication between the consumer and the company, rich data, and tremendous reach. But for the digital marketing mix to succeed, a solid understanding of the 3 Cs is required, and the market segmentation and targeting and the product differentiation and positioning derived from the 3 Cs analysis must all be properly implemented for the digital marketing to be successful.This is why, when I'm approaching a new digital marketing problem, I always start with very basic questions, like who is the audience, what's the message and positioning, or what do we want them to do? For example, I once wrote a blog piece about a taco stand vendor who ignored these fundamentals when implementing a QR code on his stand, presumably because he thought that, in tech-crazy Boulder, Colorado, a QR code would be cool.So when I call myself a digital marketer, what I really mean is that I'm a marketer that has a particular affinity for, and skill set in, the digital portion of the marketing toolkit.*This presentation format for the four Ps is based on that presented in the excellent marketing text by Perreault, Cannon (@learnthe4ps, @teachthe4ps), and McCarthy, Essentials of Marketing. (Image courtesy of jscreationzs at freedigitalphotos.net)[...]



Engagement Marketing, Revisited

Thu, 06 Dec 2012 16:58:00 +0000

It's all about data and testingAs you saw in my last post, I have spent some time recently discussing engagement marketing. At Burns, we defined engagement marketing as brands engaging customers and prospects when, where, and how those customers and prospects want to engage. It is an aspect of marketing that has been enabled and shaped by the rise and evolution of social media.There is now some evidence that we may be missing the mark a bit on what it means for marketers to truly engage, or how customers interpret engagement.First, Steve Olenski at Social Media Today wrote about a recent report from Forbes Insights and Turn called “The New Rules of engagement: Measuring the Power of Social Currency." His main conclusion is that this new report shows that what marketers interpret as customer engagement, and the metrics they use to evaluate it, is significantly different from how customers themselves define engagement with brands. He has written about this issue before, and now states that this "disconnect is alive and well and may even be widening."You can read his well-written post in detail, but the report data below will quickly illustrate his point.If you examine the first line of data, only 15% of consumers said they feel engaged with a brand when they share an ad, but ad or other content forwarding is a relatively strong influence on marketers' engagement measurement. This is an example of the data driving Steve's conclusion that there's a big disconnect between consumers' and marketers' views of engagement.If you read all of Steve's post and the original report, you might simplistically conclude that consumers really just want two things: deals or promotions and funny ads. I'm being a bit facetious here, but you could certainly conclude that, as a marketer, you need to completely rethink what engagement really means and how you should measure it.Not So Fast, Here's a Deeper Look at the DataCourtney Livingston writes a great response to Steve's post, questioning the type of conclusion I illustrated above. Courtney states that if you look at all the data, including the chart I show above, there's actually a significant amount of correlation between the consumers' and marketers' responses. In the case of this chart, there a 0.5 to 0.75 correlation between the two response sets. That's a reasonable good correlation, and other data in the report correlates even better.In other words, Courtney states that "marketers are headed in the right direction (maybe not on the right track, but not completely lost, either)." She goes on to reasonably state that, "As an action has more significance to a consumer, it should also hold more weight in a brand’s engagement measurement model." The question then becomes, how do marketers act on this data?What's a Marketer to Do?As I said before, engagement is an aspect of marketing constantly being shaped by the evolving usage models of social media, so as marketers we're only left with data and testing. In this case, the Forbes Insights report has provided a rich set of data from which we can form testable hypotheses. For instance, the report clearly highlights the relative importance of humor in ads, as compared to thought-provoking characteristics. (I have long been a proponent of using humor in digital marketing channels, even some that don't typically use it, like pay-per-click advertising. For example, I gave a webinar last year on Creative PPC techniques in which I highlight using humor to improve clickthrough rates.) This is an easily testable characteristic. You could run two separate ads, one thought-provoking and one humorous, in a variety of channels and measure their relative success using metrics appropriate to those channels. The aggregation of all of those metrics should provide some excellent insight to[...]



I'm back! (Blogging, I mean.)

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 22:19:00 +0000

This blog has been effectively silent since December 2009, or three years. Why? Well, mostly because my blogging energy has been applied to developing content for my employers. If you look at all the material I have created over these three years, I certainly haven't been silent.Here's a partial list of my work during that stretch. I either completely or mostly authored all of the pieces below:Seminars, webinars, and university courses:Planning Your 2013 Marketing BudgetDigital Marketing OverviewLocal Online MarketingCreative PPC TechniquesSEO is Easy. Seriously.Video blog posts:Engagement Marketing DefinedEngagement Marketing: Never Stop the ConversationText blog posts:QR Codes: Don’t Forget Your Marketing Basics!Top 10 Usage Guidelines for QR CodesProblem-Solving via QR CodesFISA Cans CAN SPAM: Two Major Differences Between the Canadian and US Anti-SPAM LawsDigital publications:2012 Digital Marketing Trends SurveyAchieving Goals With Engagement MarketingWell, I want to re-introduce you all to this blog now because I'm going to start publishing here again. There are a number of topics that I'd like to explore independent of the context of a particular company, and this is the best place to do so. Hopefully, you'll enjoy the new content. Stay tuned ...(Image courtesy of Just2Shutter at freedigitalphotos.net)[...]



Rockets!

Tue, 01 Dec 2009 16:34:00 +0000

Wow, it has been over two months since I last posted. In some ways, I feel bad about that, but it's really just an indication of how busy I have been at Parallel Path.Because of this busyness, I was determined to spend the Thanksgiving weekend 'unplugged' and not working, and to get in some quality time with my family. And it worked out just as I had hoped, with lots of throwing the football around, playing kickball, and generally goofing off. One of the highlights was on Friday, when the boys and I (and some other family members) spent the day shooting rockets. It was a beautiful, clear day with no wind; perfect for rockets.As regular readers of this blog know, for many years I put on Big Science Saturday for the boys. That has waned quite a bit, but we still seem to find time for fun and practical applications of science, and launching rockets is a perfect example. We have been launching rockets (of theEstes variety) off and on for a couple of years now.What was particularly fun about this launch is that we have started to experiment with getting the rockets to do fun things they weren't necessarily designed for. By doing so, I hope the boys start learning about some of the basic physics involved in rocket flight.This weekend we experimented with launching an 'astronaut' in the rocket. The astronaut was made from Legos, and you can kind of see him in the lower left ofthis photo (thanks to Pawel for all of the pics):The Lego astronaut had his own parachute that deployed separately from the rocket's recovery chute. We then went through several launch cycles, first by Maddox:... then by Ryan:I'm not sure the boys learned much about rocket physics through the activity, but they did learn what happens when you don't put enough protective wadding between the rocket motor and your astronaut. We ended up with a very scorched astronaut dude:Overall, a tremendous day.[...]



More Mac Hijinks

Fri, 25 Sep 2009 03:04:00 +0000

Yes, yet another Mac vs. Windows post. Sorry, but I just keep stumbling across interesting stuff.

A while ago I posted on the Apple TV ads that beat up on Windows. Well, it turns out that Apple doesn't confine their shots to their advertising. I stumbled across a subtle shot embedded in my new Snow Leopard operating system update.

One of the few new (visible) features in Snow Leopard is that the cover flow view is integrated into the Finder window. This provides a cool way to quickly view the files and subfolders in a folder. Here's an example:

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Today I was looking for some documents on our corporate network using this Finder view. When I viewed the network, I saw several servers in the Finder window:

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The first couple of times I saw this view, it didn't occur to me that these images were intended to represent Windows servers. When I realized this, I wondered what the text might be on the screens, so I blew it up:

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You may not be able to see the detail, but it's the Windows blue screen of death!

They never miss an opportunity to take a swing. I love it.
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Twitter silliness

Sat, 29 Aug 2009 16:30:00 +0000

I use a web monitoring tool called Filtrbox to search for certain phrases across websites, Twitter, blogs, and other social media. It provides broader and fresher results than Google Alerts, which I used to use, and makes Filtrbox a terrific real-time market intelligence tool.One of the keyword phrases I monitor is my employer's name, Parallel Path. The daily results of this search have highlighted a thread that has been going through Twitter for weeks that is unrelated to my company. The following phrase has been tweeted hundreds of times over the last several weeks:"There's a parallel path between friends and enemies, and wenever u cross it u make frienemies" It appears in various forms of grammatical construction, but the concept is always the same.I have to admit that I don't get it. At multiple levels, I don't get it. But clearly, the following people do:@MzCitaBaby @GuapGang619 @AdotdaDon @mrslovexlabels@redd_foxx (I thought he was dead. Tweeting from beyond the grave?)@BackOnMyBest @WhYYuOnMy****GG (Word removed by FCC censors.)@Beauty_Badd @itisIAnthony @jstFOLLOWmee @sKAY_shesPoppin @KikiFarah @LondonCee551 @rell007 @prettydamnnbadd @ShAnNaBaByy @fashioNeCca101 These are people that have tweeted the phrase in the last few days, some several times. The first tweet I saw of this was on July 18, so this has been somewhat viral for over a month.Quantcast estimates the current demographic profile of Twitter users as follows: marginwidth="0px" marginheight="0px" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" height="260" width="509" src="http://www.quantcast.com/profile/embed?img=http%3A//www.quantcast.com/profile/demographicGraphAll%3Fwunit%3Dwd%253Acom.twitter%26cols%3D2&w=509&h=260&showDeleteButtons=false&wunit=Charts.Summary.Demographics.">Clearly, I'm not squarely in the demographic center of Twitter users (as compared to the Internet average). I'm not a female African American and I'm on the older side. When I look at some of those Twitter account names above, that mimatch is certainly reinforced. My Twitter account, @tearles, just doesn't fit on the same list with @sKAY_shesPoppin or @MzCitaBaby.I guess that explains why I just don't get it. (But it highlights to me the beauty of Twitter as a communication medium and marketing tool. That's for another post ...)[...]



Microsoft v. Apple - They Both Win

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 02:51:00 +0000

(I know it has been a very long time since my last post. The main reason for that is that my work, which I am enjoying immensely, is keeping me very busy. However, I have been thinking about this topic for a while, and it's time for me to actually post about it.)I had a recent experience with my Mac that reminded me why I own one. But before I get to that, I'd like to discuss what I like about Microsoft or, more specifically, what I like about their new advertising campaign:Almost a year ago, I posted that I enjoyed and appreciated the "I'm a PC" campaign from Microsoft, a campaign created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Crispin Porter excels at communicating both the essence of brand and the value a product delivers to customers. In this case, they're doing the latter, highlighting the configurability of Windows-based machines, so you only pay for exactly what you want. In every commercial, they take a direct swipe at Apple by pointing out that, to get just what you want from Apple, you would need to pay much more than a PC would cost. It's a powerful campaign, and does what I have always tried to do in marketing: highlight my product's strengths while moderating its weaknesses.Here's another thing that I enjoy about these new ads. I love that Microsoft and Apple are actively bashing each other. Apple has been plugging away at Microsoft for a long time with their "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ads, and this is the first example of an effective counterpunch from Microsoft. Why do I like this? Because this kind of competition is great for consumers like you and me.Now, will these ads make me buy a PC? No way, and a recent experience will show why. My wife's sister-in-law celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary, and the family was asked to submit video wishes to the couple. We decided to make a goofy video about an episode from the couple's past. We shot about 10 minutes of very loosely scripted video, and I imported that into Apple iMovie. I then edited it down, inserted opening titles and closing credits, overlayed intro music, and inserted transition effects. I had never done anything like this, and it took all of about an hour. If you'd like to see the video, here it is. (However, it's full of family inside jokes, so I'm not sure you'll appreciate the humor.) [I just noticed that the embedded video doesn't format correctly in either Firefox or Safari. If you'd like to see it on the YouTube site, you'll find it here.]How does this illustrate why I wouldn't own a PC? Couldn't I do this on a PC? Sure. But I'd have to research the software required to do movie editing, go buy it, install it, figure out how to use it, make sure I had the correct drivers for my camcorder, etc. With a Mac, it was all there, it all worked, and it was intuitively easy.This was all done on my work laptop, by the way. If I were one of the people on the PC commercials, I would have defined the ideal work laptop for me, which means I never would have included something like Mac's iLife suite. But the fact is, my work laptop is my only computer; it has to do everything in my life. If I had to equip a PC with every application that I MIGHT need in the future, like photo or movie processing or creating PDFs, it would cost at least as much as my Mac, and it wouldn't work nearly as well. Apples-to-'apples' price comparisons have been done many times (like here and here), and generally conclude that Macs and PCs are about the same price, when similarly equipped. Macs are complete machines, amazingly well designed. And not more expensive than PCs, when measured 'apples' to apples.[...]



Customer service, done right

Mon, 01 Jun 2009 04:03:00 +0000

Recently, I complained about an experience my wife had at 24 Hour Fitness. On the same day I posted, a senior member of the company submitted a reply to my posting, attempting to make the situation right. There was a bit of piling on by other commenters, but at least 24 Hour Fitness's Harry was trying to do the right thing and provide a remedy. I don't believe Gina ever took Harry up on his offer, so the situation was never completely resolved, but at least he tried.Similarly, I recently had an interesting customer service experience with Proflowers. I had little or no experience with ordering flowers online, but my favorite local flower shop went out of business and I need something for Mothers Day. I remembered reading an article about Proflowers' unique business model that ships flowers directly from the grower to the customer; something about by eliminating the local retailer middleman, the flowers can be a little cheaper and, more importantly, arrive at the customer's home with more of their useful life remaining. (From a marketing perspective, it also helped that I was constantly reminded of Proflowers through their advertisements on ESPN radio. Remember, in a post last year I both admitted that I listen to sports talk radio and commented on radio advertising effectiveness. This is another example of radio's effectiveness [although I can't comment on the ROI associated with radio advertising investments].)I decided to give ProFlowers a try, ordering a bouquet of Gina's favorite flower, tulips, to be delivered for Mothers Day. Well, their arrival was very disappointing. It was basically 15 flowers in a cardboard box. No decorative paper, no flower food, no little water bulbs on the stems, and two of the stems damaged. After we put the flowers in water, they all laid over and never looked right.I shot off a quick email to their customer service and received a near-immediate response, apologizing for my disappoint experience and offering me a free order, including free shipping. I ordered the same thing, 15 tulips, to be delivered the next week.When the second order arrived, it was a completely different experience. This time there was flower food and the flowers were wrapped in paper. Most importantly, the flower came with instructions on how to put the flowers in water and support them initially so that they don't lay over. The flowers turned out great.After the pleasant second experience, I'm willing to assume that I was just the unfortunate victim of a random, errant shipment and give Proflowers another chance. If they had just offered me a discount on my next order, I would never have made another order because there would have been too much risk associated with it. They removed all risk by providing the second order completely free. They did so because they recognize the lifetime value of a customer, rather than the value of a single sale. It's amazing that some companies focus solely on the value of the sale.Knowing the lifetime value of a cusomter is good marketing, and can lead to very good customer service. [...]



The future is difficult to imagine

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 02:50:00 +0000

I came across the following thought-provoking video:

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I apologize if you have already seen it, since it has been out about six months. But one thing about the video that struck me as relevant to this blog is the statements it makes about children, that we're training children for jobs that don't even exist yet, or that they will hold so many jobs before their mid-30s.

Is there a stronger statement of generational differences? And I thought there were a lot of differences between my dad's generation and my own.

Why is this relevant to this blog? Because of what I have said about Big Science Saturday and why I do it. (Or, more accurately, did it.) I can't say that my boys are going to be scientists, nor do I care. But I want them to be able to evaluate situations in a structured, critical way, since there is no way we can predict what they'll be faced with.

On a related note, it is Science Fair season at Crest View Elementary. Ryan's is required this year and Maddox's* is optional, although they're always required at the Earles household. Ryan's not a fan of Science Fairs, maybe because I have required his participation every year when only a few of his classmates also participated. However, we found a topic he enjoys, and we made it a little more interesting by suggesting he blog about it. Feel free to read his posts and comment. He loves getting new comments.

And who knows, maybe he'll really take to blogging. Gina and I are trying to use his blogging as an opportunity to teach some writing techniques, grammar, and spelling. But, even if he gets none of that from blogging, it's still fun to see him put himself out there.

*One of these days, I need to learn how to properly write the possessive form of Maddox: Maddox' or Maddox's.(image)



24 Hour Fitness just doesn't get it

Sun, 01 Mar 2009 21:24:00 +0000

This morning, my wife met her friend at 24 Hour Fitness to take some kind of cardio kickboxing class. Her friend was a member and had a free guest pass for Gina to use.

This 24 Hour Fitness facility is pretty new in north Boulder, having been open only a few months. As with any of these types of facilities, they have a fairly large, aggressive sales staff, since gyms make the most money off of sales to new members. (Of course, they hope these members don't use the facility so they can oversubscribe their asset base.)

When Gina showed her free guest pass, the salesman began giving his pitch. He asked if she was currently a health club member, to which she replied that she was and that she wasn't interested in joining 24 Hour Fitness. He then told her that she would have to leave!

He explained that they only give out those guest passes to those that are willing to go through the sales pitch. Gina pointed out that the pass said nothing about that, but that didn't seem to matter to him. Since she wanted to attend the class with her (now very embarrassed) friend, Gina agreed to listen to his pitch after the class, since it was about to begin. She ultimately just walked out after the class.

The whole thing just left a very bad taste in her mouth for 24 Hour Fitness. Do you think she's going to recommend that anyone else join that gym? Rather, she's probably going to go out of her way to tell potential members to avoid it.

Would it have been very difficult for the salesperson to say, "We normally provide those guest passes for those that may be interested in joining. However, please enjoy your visit today and make sure to tell your friends what you think?" The incremental cost of allowing her to visit was effectively zero. The incremental cost of trying to apply a rule that should not even have been in place (if you're going to have a rule, state it on the pass) was creating an annoyed, but well-networked, active health club member that knows a lot of other health club members. Seriously dumb.

How's this for a different approach? My friend David (his blog Bluerant is here) markets a kids' TV show called Big Green Rabbit. He saw that some fans posted a video from the show on their blog, so he sent them a little thank you package. Here is their response. What do you think that package cost BGR, maybe $20, including shipping? What do you think the value of that family's BGR evangelism is worth?

Businesses are built one delighted customer at a time. They can be torn down quickly by a handful of people with negative feelings.


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If everyone's going to see it, make sure it's right

Wed, 04 Feb 2009 03:48:00 +0000

Twice over the last week, I have had the pleasure of using a Sloan Valve flushless urinal. (I bet you haven't read many blog posts that start with a sentence about urinals, have you?!) The facilities at which they were installed were justifiably proud of their green initiative. So much so, in fact, that at both institutions, they had the following sign hung above each urinal:

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Nice, huh? Sure, if you ignore the poor grammar. What poor grammar, you may ask? Admittedly, it's minor, but it bugs me nonetheless:

"... you are helping the environment to conserve ..."

Does the environment conserve? If the environment itself can conserve, then why are we being asked to do so? Let's just let the environment fix itself!

Maybe a better way to word this would be "... you are helping the environment by conserving ...".

Even then, it's not really accurate. Am I, as a user, really helping the environment? I suppose if there were traditional urinals next to the flushless ones and I chose to use the flushless ones, then I can say I helped the environment. But there were no traditional ones, and I wasn't going to go find one because I had to pee.

So it was really the facility owner that was helping the environment by taking away my choice, and they should be applauded for that. The sign should really celebrate them: "The University of Colorado is helping the environment by conserving ..."

It reminds me of when I was publishing an email newsletter for SharedPlan Software. Our newsletter distribution got up to about 20,000 readers, and I would stress out every time I hit the Send button. Any little grammatical error was going to be seen and judged by all those people, so I would critically read and reread several times before sending.

Make sure you get it right before the whole world reads it!

(Author's note: I saw the first of these signs at some facility last week, and it wasn't until I had already left that this grammatical issue occurred to me. I wanted to blog about it, but wanted the picture, so I was glad to come across the same sign today. However, I had never really thought about how awkward it is to take a picture around a bank of urinals. You know, there's just a certain urinal etiquette that must be respected. So I kind of had to hang around until everyone left to avoid any potential embarrassment, but I didn't want to be seen as lurking, either. I ended up washing my hands really, really well.)(image)



The Detonators!

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 18:15:00 +0000

I recently professed my love for Discovery Channel shows. As the boys and I were lazing away a snowy Sunday morning watching Cash Cab (they seem to love that show), we saw an ad for The Detonators, a new Discovery show starting January 28.

It appears to be the ultimate show for the boys and I. Why? Because all they do is show how they blow stuff up! Really big stuff!

Sometimes, I amaze myself with my parenting skills.(image)



How much can we infer from inauguration speeches?

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 23:59:00 +0000

My wife and I watched Obama's inaugural address last night, and I thought it had some exceptionally intriguing passages, such as his direct address to the Muslim world, and his several swipes at the outgoing administration. (I may blog about some of the more thought-provoking statements in a subsequent post.) As we all listened to those words, we probably all wonder how much of Obama's presidency is being foretold in his words. Of course, there's no way to know, but I thought it would be interesting to go back and read Bush's first inaugural address to see how much his words presaged his presidency.I'm no political scientist, much less a presidential scholar, and am not particularly politically active. I have only written three posts, out of over 100, that had anything to do with politics. But for some reason you folks keep reading so I'll plow ahead. I reviewed the transcript and have repeated some of the better statements below:"It is the American story—a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals." This seems to be a nice swipe at Bill Clinton's foibles of infidelity."The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born." Although this could be read as an equal opportunity kind of message, I also read this as a message regarding his anti-abortion stance, which guided his actions over his two terms in a few ways. These include his failed effort on abstinence-only education and probably his most significant political action, his reshaping of the Supreme Court. The latter was one of the items in which he noted special pride in during his final press conference."The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth." Another aspect of Bush's legacy was the No Child Left Behind legislation, another legacy item in which he expressed pride."And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity." OK, this is a meaty one that will require more than a sentence to summarize.The country had just endured a very divisive and deeply flawed election. Democrats thought the election was stolen, and I don't know that we ever saw as much bitter partisanship on display as we did in the days between election day and the Supreme Court's final ruling. This statement would seem to indicate a willingness to try to heal those wounds and reunite the country into a "single nation."We now know, however, that this was not a statement regarding reunification; that instead the Bush administration worked tirelessly to create a single nation of enduring Republican majority, rather than a bipartisan reunified nation. Karl Rove, Bush's master strategist, has spoken repeatedly of the pursuit of this goal (and has yet to give up on it, even in light of Obama's victory).The examples of this pursuit were many. For example, we now know the Justice Department illegally used political affiliation in their hiring practices, although no connection has been made to Attorney General Gonzales or his predecessor Ashcroft. (Amusing side note: the liberal New York Times' article on this government watchdog report doesn't mention that lack of c[...]



Did Nortel fail because of collaborative tools?

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 03:48:00 +0000

I was surprised and saddened to hear about Nortel's bankruptcy on the radio this morning. Not because I thought they were particularly healthy, but mostly because they were such a big firm, were such an key customer of mine at a couple of past employers, and, most importantly, were such a great equipment supplier for decades.

I read an article about their failure in on businessweek.com, that basically states that Nortel's attempt an innovating away from their past reliance on core carrier equipment was too little, too late and and that they chose the wrong products to develop. One comment caught my attention, however:
Roese used a public blog to communicate with customers and attempt to re-establish Nortel as an innovator.
This is clearly a problem. One key success criteria for this kind of public conversation is credible honesty. I didn't read the blog, so I can't comment on it specifically, but it would have been valid to discuss how Nortel is attempting to reinvent itself and becoming more innovative. Describe that process or journey, and the unique challenges that you're experiencing, but don't jump straight to a presumed conclusion that you have arrived as an innovator.

The 'death' of Nortel happened to occur on a day when we lost another great icon: Khan (Ricardo Montalban). Khan delivered one of the great movie lines of all time in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, when he quoted Melville's Moby Dick:
To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!
KHAAANNNN!

KHAAANNNN!(image)



A little more on social marketing

Sun, 11 Jan 2009 18:15:00 +0000

OK, soon I'm going to jump to another topic, but I just found two more interesting items on the topic. First, here's a fun little video from a German ad firm illustrating the challenges that social marketing is trying to address:
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A short history of marketing from Michael Reissinger on Vimeo. (Sorry, but the video that I inserted was taken down from Vimeo for some reason. However, I found it here, as well.)

Second, John Kembel of HiveLive posted his thoughts on what's in store for enterprise communities in 2009. I tend to agree with his comments, but I would add one more trend:

6. Social marketing companies must make money.

In the current economic climate (and related venture capital environment), marginal business models will perish. This situation will not change dramatically any time soon, so social marketing companies must prove that their firms are sustainable. In other words, they must make money. I would not be surprised if half of the social marketing companies currently in existence are no longer around in January 2010.(image)



Social marketing is not dead

Thu, 08 Jan 2009 03:20:00 +0000

A new Advertising Age article is spreading doom and gloom about marketing expenditures. Obviously, I certainly can relate to the d&g. The article states that:
...more than half of the marketers surveyed said their budgets will be cut in the coming year, and another 44% said they'll cut or freeze hiring.
Again, clearly I get that.

It does identify some "Pockets of Optimism," however. But not listed among those pockets are social networking and media. In fact, they state that:

Buzzword fatigue has also set in more firmly on an aging set of digital terminology, including "Web 2.0" (19% said they were tired of hearing it); "social networking" (12%); "social media" (11%); "blog" (8%) and "viral marketing" (6%).

Now, I look at those numbers and see that social marketing only has a little more than 10% of the respondents claiming weariness. That doesn't sound very high to me for trendy items like these. In fact, they go on to state that:

However, that doesn't mean those digital ideas aren't important anymore, Mr. Anderson said. "In fact, each of those ranked as a bit more important this year," he said.

Given that I have already stated that I'm a fan of these marketing techniques, I have to say I'm pretty encouraged that they're growing in importance, even if only modestly, in this environment.


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Good wiki app for iPhone?

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 23:01:00 +0000

Gina and I are taking the family to Costa Rica in a couple of weeks, and we have a lot to do to prepare for the trip. Gina suggested that we should create an online collaborative space in which to share ideas and to-do lists. Her idea was to use a wiki.

I currently use a great little application, Evernote, for my own to-do lists, notes, saved web pages, and many other kinds of content that I want to capture, access, and edit later. It runs as an application on my Mac and on my iPhone, and automatically synchronizes the content between the two platforms. I have thoroughly enjoyed using it.

However, for the Costa Rica shared to-do list application, it has two shortcomings:
  1. It doesn't run on Mac Tiger, only Leopard, and Gina's Mac OS is Tiger. (She runs Evernote, but her laptop access is web-based, rather than via their installed application.)
  2. It doesn't allow private sharing. It does allow content to be shared with everyone (and indexed by search engines), but not shared privately with specific individuals or users.
I recently received an email from Evernote describing their feature upgrade plans for 2009, and one of the items involved improved sharing. Here's what they said:

The public notebooks functionality that we launched in 2008 was a timid, first step in our ambitious plans for making Evernote a great tool for sharing your memories and collaborating with your friends and coworkers. In 2009, we're going to greatly expand what you can do with your memories, documents, files, photos and anything else you throw into Evernote. If you're the social type, we're going to grow up from being your external brain to being a telepathic-mutant-super-brain, but with good manners. Of course, you'll always have the option to keep any or all of your info totally private.
Obviously, they're being deliberately vague on their exact upgrade plans, so I built a wiki on PBWiki that we'll use for now. PBWiki is a traditional hosted wiki application, but it doesn't have an iPhone app to allow mobile access.

A search of the iTunes iPhone app store yielded nothing. Any suggestions?(image)