best of 2007

NOTICE: All the links in this post go to the old blogspot location. If you’d like to read these posts, please browse the best of 2007 tag. Thanks.
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January will mark the end of my third year of blogging. And 2007 has been another good year. I’ve been a marketing business speaker to seven groups including my first barcamp. The Shotgun Marketing Blog has bounced all over Advertising Age’s list of the top marketing blogs. I was lucky enough to put another author credit to my name with a marketing book that was released in late summer. And a local marketing group named me as their marketer of the year.

As I did in 2006 and 2005, I’d like to showcase some of the year’s best posts. What makes them the best? These are posts that either got a lot of mileage around the web, were heavily commented/linked to, or are just posts that I liked alot.

Don’t Trust Bloggers
They have shifty eyes.

This Old Pledge Week
Are you killing your own customer base?

Delivery
What if your pizza guy starting delivering pizza like you send spam email?

Salespeople Types
You’ve met all these people.

Guerrillas peeing in the ocean
Guerrilla marketing’s impact may be small if you don’t do it right.

What are you selling?
If you don’t know — how will your customers?

Square Hole — Round Peg problems
Stop using old answers to new marketing problems.

Even God has brand problems
Your customers may not love you even when you provide what they need.

Artificial Networks
Make sure your marketing network is real.

Marketing Haiku
Marketing knowledge delivered in 19 17 syllables

Old Media
Changes in media are not on the way. They’re here.

Mr. Splashy Pants
Non-profits (and for-profits) need to embrace new blood.

If you’re a new reader, this will give you a chance to catch up. And if you’re a long time reader, thanks for sticking with me.

old media

There’s lots of buzz about today’s news of the FCC relaxing media ownership rules.

Five or ten years ago, I would have been incensed about the decision. If you look back in time, you’ll see that every time the FCC “relaxes” the rules, monopolistic control of the media takes a big leap. And I’m sure this time will be no exception.

However, with today’s news, I really could care less. And this decision only affects the top 20 markets. Small markets are ignored. Big whoop.

Five or ten years ago, traditional media were still the only real game in town. Monopolies needed to be avoided. It was a sacred privilege and responsibility to own a transmitter or a printing press. That immense power needed to be spread out.

But today, everyone is the media. One of my big money quotes in my speaking engagements is that now everyone owns a printing press through the publishing power of the web. You’re reading my latest edition right now.

I’m fascinated with how traditional media are struggling with the rapid changes that continue to pop up. They’re moving in slow motion. And they’re wasting time arguing about things that are secondary to the threat that’s facing them.

It’s almost like the horse buggy manufacturers arguing with each other while Model T’s zip by outside.

The danger is that I don’t think “new media” is ready to take over the watchdog responsibility from old media. There’s not enough experience there. There’s no accountability. And there’s a lack of legitimacy from the powers-that-be. (A blogger and a newspaper reporter ask for an exclusive interview with the mayor — who do you think gets it?)

There will be (and already is) a major backlash about this FCC decision. But it’s a waste of time. It’s not about who owns the pipes or how many pipes they own in any market. It’s not about who owns transmitters and printing presses.

Today, it’s about who owns the content that the masses want to consume. And they don’t care how it’s delivered to them.

Mr Splashy Pants

Greenpeace has been running a poll to name some whales that are traveling in the Pacific.

29 of the 30 nominations are for either mythical, Zen-ish, or new-age-type names like Kaimana, Shanti, and Aurora.

And then scanning down the list, you see “Mr. Splashy Pants“.

And he’s winning the vote. Overwhelmingly.

While there was some noted vote tampering (votes that are not going to be counted), the reason that Mr. Splashy Pants is winning is because he went viral on the net through blogs and other forms of social media.

Greenpeace saw the opportunity and grabbed it. They’ve extended the voting to capitalize on the buzz. They quickly mobilized to develop Mr. Splashy Pants merchandise. They’re embracing it on their blog.

The entire affair is getting lots of press and it will probably pop up in the MSM in next few days. It’s an immeasureable PR coup for the cause.

But when you read through the comments on their blog and posts on other blogs, you’ll find some Greenpeace supporters who are not happy at all about the name.

One of the main reasons that so many non-profits (and for-profit businesses) languish is that they spend most of their time talking to the people who are already familiar with the cause and are already ardent supporters. While it’s important to cultivate your core, you have to find new people in order to grow. For some of the inside core, this feels like outsiders are hijacking the organization.

Some people are so comfortable and locked up in the “normalcy” of the cause or the business that they can’t see the massive opportunities right below the surface.

This seems obvious — but the best way to get attention is to stand out from the crowd.

marketing haiku

60 has me thinking about haiku for the 1st time since I was in elementary school. He’s issued a challenge for a 3 word haiku. To kill time while I was waiting for uploads this morning, I came up with one about a medical situation in the former Soviet Bloc.

And since 60 and I are both BL fans, I also came up with this one that compares Shatner’s legal and Starfleet careers:

Denny Crane says bye.
And Alan’s farewell is not
“Live Long and Prosper”.

But as my mind struggles for a post — I thought how about some marketing haiku? (Is there such a thing?)

Social Media
provides oppportunity
for market feedback.

TV commercials
are better when you use a
detailed storyboard.

Need to reach Hitland?
FM’s burnin’ up with Hottest Hits
one oh six point seven.

Multiply the columns
by the advertisement height
to get Column Inches.

Billboards are not books.
Interstate drivers fly by.
Use just one idea .

Demographic needs
Millennials and Gen Y.
Facebook and MySpace.

Schedule is a no-no.
You bring swag. I’ll bring ideas.
BarCamp Un-Conference.

Very high Frequency
and the Reach can’t be measured.
Bad Media Plan.

As I write these, the cadence reminds me of past roadside ads:
Driving down the road.
Advertising used to be
fun with Burma Shave.

And might as well throw some haiku ads for myself in the mix (I could use them as Google ads):
A blog that is fun
and has great commentary.
Shotgun Marketing.

Marketing Speaker
for your business meeting.
Keynote Chris Houchens.

How about some marketing bloggers?
Hugh’s cartoons on Gaping Void.
Viral Garden‘s in Alabama.
Jaffe’s stuck in Second Life.

Seth Godin has no hair
Horse Pig Cow Community.
Living Brand Autopsy

You’re next. Place your marketing haikus in the comments.

Even God has brand problems

This post is about brands so stick with me for a minute.

The area I live in has been in a drought. It hasn’t been the “sure could use some rain” kind of drought — but rather the “kind that imposes water restrictions and stuff starts dying” kind of drought.

But for the past few days, it’s been raining. It’s the good type of rain — the slow steady kind that sinks in. And we needed it — desperately.

But I’ve noticed something in the past few days.

The rain was so needed that the local paper did an entire photo essay about the rain. In one of the captions, a woman says — “I hate the rain.”

A few months ago, when we were in the worst of the drought, I heard one of the weather kids on the local TV station says something to the effect of “30% chance of showers this weekend, but maybe we’ll miss it if we’re lucky so it doesn’t ruin your weekend golf game”

On the radio yesterday morning, the host was taking requests for a good rain song to celebrate the fact it was raining. One of the callers said — “I don’t like this rain — I’m not a farmer so I don’t really need it”. I guess she shops at the grocery where the food magically appears on the shelves. (She should read this book — and you should too)

The point is that even a “product” like the rain that is fundamentally required by people to sustain their lives — is not welcomed with open arms.

Your product/service is NOT as important as the rain.

Are you constantly wondering why people aren’t embracing your product?

Maybe they have a skewed worldview of your brand.

The rain’s “brand” has been reinforced by a culture as something that is bad. It messes up your car, it ruins the cheesy TV anchor’s golf game, etc.

What message is the current culture delivering to your market about your business?

artificial networks

Both online and offline, there’s been a surge in the concept of “networks” as a marketing tool. And websites and groups have sprung up to capitalize on the phenomenon. As people clamor to build their personal networks for business, they need to be careful. I’m seeing many people waste lots of time and energy into false networks that may not net any gain.

Don’t get me wrong. Your personal network is one of the strongest marketing tools you have — especially if you’re in a B2B field. And it also works to your advantage in a B2C field causing word-of-mouth trickle down.

But the network and the relationships have to be real in order to be effective. Many of these new groups and websites develop artificial networks. It’s like most other things. People are always looking for the quick and easy way to get rich, lose weight, or win market share. And all those things take time. Developing a network of relationships is no different.

There’s a fairly new phenomenon of “speed networking”. These events should be called “speed business card exchanges” because that’s all they really are. You’re into self delusion if you think you’re coming out of one of these events with 50 meaningful business relationships. Obviously, you can use the contact info from those quick meetings to develop a relationship later with a few of the people you met. But it will still take time to develop those.

I know several people who are involved locally in a national business networking organization. And it seems that every one of them has drunk the Kool-Aid (or more accurately the Flavor-Aid) I’ve been invited to a few of the meetings and each time it felt like I was getting involved in some sort of scheme. Fostering that sort of feeling is not the best way to develop relationships.

Clearly with weekly meetings, there’s time to develop relationships. But the problem with these types of groups is that the relationships are forced and sometimes unnecessary. How can the “stock broker” and the “carpet cleaner” in the group really have a meaningful business relationship? Have you ever had this conversation?

“So you advise that I put 50% into mutual funds and 50% into bonds? OK. Now, where do you suggest I get my carpet cleaned?”

Both the stock broker and the carpet cleaner would be better off spending their time developing real relationships with other businesspeople that have customers with adjacent needs.

And then the internet makes everything easy. I see people who have hundreds of contacts on Linked In or Facebook and wonder if they feel their network is actually that deep/wide. Accepting a friend or contact on one of these sites is not equivalent to developing a relationship with them. It is a great way to manage and stay in contact with relationships you’ve already developed.

But you can grow your network online. I consider some people that I’ve never met “face-to-face” as some of my closest business allies because of the relationship we’ve had online.

Here’s the kicker. Relationships and networks are built with two things: time and trust. True networking relationships come from actually having a relationship with someone.

Like with most marketing activities, just doing something doesn’t mean that you’re making any progress. Spend time and energy developing your network. Just make sure it’s real.

And of course, the best place to network is a funeral.

square hole round peg problems

Here’s the thing that people get wrong about their web presence:

It’s not about building a second version of yourself, your business, or your industry online. It’s about starting fresh with a new platform to reach a new audience.

But people continue to want to fit their old models and their present strategies into an online plan.

It’s like trying to hook a horse up to a car.

It’s like putting white-out on your computer screen.

Stop applying the old answers to the new questions.

guerrillas peeing in the ocean

Normally, I’m a cynic when it comes to the concept of guerrilla marketing. There are several reasons:
–As with most marketing platforms, it’s misunderstood. People call some things guerrilla marketing that really aren’t.
–Some guerrilla marketing tactics should be part of a core marketing strategy anyway.
–Many businesses performing guerrilla marketing are thinking too much about the low-budget part rather than how it could be effective
–Too many times in addition to low/no budget :: there’s low/no creativity
–There’s typically no objective at the start :: or tracking at the end
–But the big reason that I’ve always been mistrustful of guerillas is that is seems like you’re urinating in the ocean. Sure, you’re doing something. But is it enough to make a difference?

So as I’m walking around a college campus today putting up flyers, two things keep ringing through my head:
1) Is this really going to be enough to make an impact?
2) People look at you weird when you’re packing an old school Swingline stapler around on a college campus.

What are you selling?

In my hometown, there’s an annual downtown event that celebrates different nationalities. During this celebration of different cultures, there has been a three-on-three basketball tournament, “Teen Idol” competition, and they sell lots of funnelcakes and corndogs. The organizers say that the festival really shows the international flavor of the community.

The question is: Is it a celebration of ethnic cultures — or a circus/carnival?

A couple of years ago, the A.D. at the local college was excited about the fact that alcohol was now allowed on campus during certain sports event. He was bragging about increased attendance at the baseball games. He said it was because people were really behind the team.

The question is: Are you running a collegiate athletic program — or a bar?

A radio station decided it would be a good idea to sell sponsorships to their advertisers on refrigerator magnets that had emergency numbers on them. It was a huge success. But the sales manager can’t figure out why sales are down on radio airtime.

The question is: Does a media outlet sell quick-profit gimmicks and promotions — or their media reach?

There’s nothing wrong with carnivals, bars, and magnets. But you have to be true to your core mission if you want to be successful in the long term.

Because a few of those people attending the ethnic festival want to see the mariachis, eat an egg roll, and watch the spanish dancers. Each year as the corndog crowd grows, these core users will fade away. And then what will the organizers be left with?

It’s dangerous to look at this week’s sales numbers or attendance at the last ballgame and try to figure out a gimmick to get them up for next time. You might see short-term gains. But make sure your short-term gain isn’t killing your long term prospects.

Salespeople types

Lots of people confuse sales with marketing and vice versa.

Sales is an important function of marketing and sometimes that function is carried out by salespeople. Unfortunately, good salespeople are hard to find. I’m sure you’ve run across one or two of these sales types in your life…

Psycho Sales
–A little too happy with tracking sales on spreadsheets
–Own way too many Successories and motivational books.
–They “network” way too much.
–Arm-wrestle clients into a purchase.
–Over-promise and under-deliver (also called lying)

Floaters
–They got out of college and had no plan. They think they’ll “they’ll try sales for awhile” and 20 years later they’re still trying to sell you copier toner.
–Have absolutely no knowledge about what they’re selling you
–Typically promoted to Sales Manager.

Stable Horses
–Have little knowledge of the product/service they’re selling.
–Sales mostly occur through long relationships with clients, sales promotion (gimmicks), and luck.
–The majority of all salespeople fall under this category

Order Takers
–Pick up the phone, write down the order, turn it in.
–Rinse.
–Repeat.

Eye Candy
–Can be male or female
–Clients tend to buy just so the salesperson keeps coming by.

Good Salesperson
–They’re concerned about what the customer needs versus what they can be sold. They understand that this sometimes means no sale.
–They know what they’re selling inside and out. That means both the advantages and disadvantages.
–Using this philosophy, they are always very successful and very well compensated.
–Sadly, I can count on one hand the number of these salespeople I’ve ever met.

I’m sure I’ve missed some sales characters. Leave your thoughts in the comments.