Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

A new perspective on the media meltdown

Monday, August 24th, 2009

I’ve spent a lot of time describing why advertising and traditional media are on a downward curve. To be sure, the curve has been exaggerated this year by the recession. But it was exaggerated by the last recession too and there’s no doubt that traditional sponsor-based media models are like the classic rollercoaster: in between the highs and lows, the ongoing trend is down.

seth-godin-blogIn a recent blog post, marketing guru Seth Godin puts his own take on the trend. The issue in his mind is that there is a sudden attention surplus — too many people spending so much time looking for all kinds of information that marketers don’t know what to do about it. He calls these micromarkets and says the old media models couldn’t serve them; social media marketing does — though he doesn’t use that terminology

Godin and I come at this from different ends of the business, and in the end reach the same conclusions.

I’m coming at it from the perspective of the media business, where decisions are based on the requirements of the paying customer — the advertiser.

I’m not claiming the audience is ignored; I don’t believe that for a second. But the changes that we’re seeing in old-line businesses — magazines rushing to digital-only editions, newspapers trying to figure out how to charge for online content, etc. — are not at all driven by the opinions of audience. They’re driven by the spending desires of advertisers.

Godin’s perspective is consumer based: He’s observing what the audience wants — and notes the challenge for marketers who are on their way toward getting it.

His explanation strikes me as novel, true, and worth sharing:

When you buy Zappos, what are you really buying?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

In his blog, marketing guru Seth Godin asks the question, what is Amazon really buying when it spends a reported $847 million ($807 in stock and $40 million cash) to buy Zappos?

And then he answers it.

Amazon has plenty of shoes, plenty of technology and a world-class distribution capability, he writes. What it’s acquiring is:

  • A corporate culture that’s not the same (and where great people choose to work)
  • A tight relationship with customers that give you permission to talk with them
  • A business model that’s remarkable and worth talking about
  • A story that spreads
  • Leadership

I’d say he missed a key point: the brand. Zappos is the No. 1 brand among online shoe retailers.

Amazon has a great brand too, but not for shoes.

Amazon sells everything: shoes, music, software, consumer electronics, toys… But its brand — despite its strategy — is not that of an online department store. Amazon is a bookstore that has diversified. Its brand is all about books. That’s part of the reason the Kindle Reader has taken off so well; it’s not just a nice technology that people were ready to use; it’s a natural outgrowth of Amazon’s brand.

If Amazon introduced some innovation in shoes that was just as notable as the Kindle, I doubt it would have the same impact. But Zappos would have a chance. You expect Zappos to do stuff related to shoes; you expect Amazon to do stuff related to books.

Maybe the folks at Amazon realize that the many people who buy shoes online would rather buy them from Zappos than from a great online book store that happens to sell shoes. Perhaps they realize the most efficient way to become the leading online vendor of shoes is not to be like Zappos, but rather to be Zappos.

How Zappos became such a powerful brand is another issue. It took a lot of hard work, good planning, flawless execution and cash. But in recessionary times like these, when so many businesses don’t have the patience for branding and would rather spend their marketing resources solely on generating leads and sales, there’s a lesson in the power of a good brand. An $847 million lesson.

Real social impact from social networks

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

If you doubt the potential of Twitter, Facebook and other social media, read this recent column by Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times. The depth of meaning here is amazing. Twitter is an outlet for the voices of freedom in Iran; the ongoing human rights situation in China creates the impetus for incredible cyber innovation; and the United States could help, but doesn’t necessarily have to do anything except watch quietly.

Social media is not just the latest iteration of the Web; it’s already embedded in world-changing events.

Selling what your customers want v. what they need

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Content marketing guy Newt Barrett turns around conventional wisdom, suggesting that instead of working to develop a unique selling proposition, you develop a Unique Buying Proposition. This is more than a semantic turn. The UBP forces you to think like your customers. It changes the question from “Why should they buy from me?” to “Why do they WANT to buy from me?”

You can read Newt’s complete case here.

Be honest: Would you spend more time buying this...

Would you do a better job buying this...

In the meantime, I’ll add this thought on selling: People will spend more to buy something they want than something they need. The corollary is that they’ll do whatever they can to avoid buying what they need, whereas they enjoy buying things they want.

So even if you’re offering business-to-business products or services, there is a benefit to communicating in a way that helps people WANT to buy what you’re selling.

... or this?

... or this?

If they feel the product has value-added benefits, some kind of cache, or is exciting and transformative, they’ll buy more readily (and tend to be more pleased) than if they buy something because it has the lowest price or simply fills an urgent need.

That’s the beauty of Newt’s concept of the UBP: It helps your prospects to see your product as something they WANT to buy.

A must-read for all you content types (that’s ‘editorial’) in the old paradigm

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

recessionwire-logo1Here are 7 non-nonsense rules for any editorial types who plan to survive the 2009 Media Meltdown and transform themselves into the content creators of the future. For the detail, read the original blog on Recessionwire, written by Laura Rich, a journalist and regular contributor there.

  1. Readers are your competitors — and your friends.
  2. Identify your expertise.
  3. Build your brand.
  4. Be transparent.
  5. Crowdsource (actively seek participation in the development of your story).
  6. Use self service tools.
  7. Interact with your readers.

You’ll find the full explanation behind each at the original blog.

Go forth, do good and do well.

On the art of ‘followership’

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

In his dependably brief and insightful blog, marketing guru Seth Godin writes about this video of a spontaneously developing community  at a dance festival: “My favorite part happens just before the first minute mark. That’s when guy #3 joins the group. Before him, it was just a crazy dancing guy and then maybe one other crazy guy. But it’s guy #3 who made it a movement.  Initiators are rare indeed, but it’s scary to be the leader. Guy #3 is rare too, but it’s a lot less scary and just as important. Guy #49 is irrelevant. No bravery points for being part of the mob.
“We need more guy #3s.”

There are lots of lessons you can take away from this. The one it most illustrates for me has to do with starting a business or launching a new product. More than once I’ve found myself dealing with a leading-edge product that I thought was brilliant. Too often, the response from the target market was, “Interesting. We’ll wait and see.”

The first copycat to come out with a similar product validates it, and makes it easier to sell. The next competitor helps flip the switch among customers from “wait and see” to “hurry up and buy.”

One’s an innovator; two’s competition; three’s a movement.

American Pie send-up on media

Friday, June 5th, 2009

apie2Anyone living through the media meltdown will enjoy this clever 9-minute rewrite of the old Don McLean anthem.

Dinosaurs alive and well in era of Web 3.0

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

In his blog on, Mark Glaser writes about the recent Wall Street Journal D All Things Digital conference — a premium-priced conference for high flyers on, well, all things digital. Glaser’s blog post is an easy, breezy read with some ironic takeaways:

1. Live blogging was prohibited, he writes, because organizers feared it would create reason for more people to choose not to attend.

2. Video-taping was prohibited, which is a pretty standard rule at such events, even though the gifts given to paid attendees included a Flip HD video camera — which is so small and easy to use it practically begs you to take videos wherever you’re not allowed.

3. The founders of Twitter spoke but, according to Glaser, didn’t have anything to say. Is anyone surprised by that? I’m sure if they’d had a window of 12 seconds (the visual equivalent of 140 characters) they would have seemed pithy and brilliant.

Not ironic, but certainly important, is the recognition that the progress of the WWW has moved from its first generation of on-demand information, through its second iteration of social and participatory applications, into the third generation of data clouds and on-demand applications

10 YOUNG entrepreneurs to watch

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

From ContentNext, with link to same

Warning: If you have more than 20 years already invested in your career, this is going to make you very tired and at least a little bit scared. Here, from are 10 young entrepreneurs to watch. By young, they mean really young — no older than their 20s.

What’s most instructive and startling is the transformational nature of what these kid are doing. Their businesses are, largely, based on ideas that couldn’t even have existed 5 or 10 years ago.

If you have any questions about the power of the Internet to foster change; or if you have any doubt that the next generation does things very differently than you’re used to, then you ought to spend 10 minutes scanning this article. Then resist the temptation to take a nap.

Can Obama be good for business?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Conventional wisdom among many of the people I know — regardless of how they feel about  President Obama’s social agenda — is that his economic agenda is pretty tough on business.

As reported by Stacy Blackman at, Dr. Robert Frank at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management and a New York Times columnist, feels othewise. I’m especially intrigued by his view on universal health care.