Monthly Archives: March 2010

turn me off

You can use these in blog posts, presentations, etc, but I will seize up and stop accepting your premise at that point.

  • I conducted a survey of my Facebook (twitter, etc) friends…
    Huge peeve of mine, but there are proper ways to do research. Asking a closed network of people who are similar to you provides answers that are remarkably similar to your worldview. Sad thing is that I’m seeing this pop up in white papers and other published works as bonafide research.
  • ___, according to Webster, is a ____…
    I despise this one. I’m devoting my attention and time to you for new insight and you’re reading the dictionary to me? It’s something that middle school students stick in a paper to fill space. Stop it.
  • According to Wikipedia…
    Here’s where I’m a semi-hypocrite. I actually link to Wikipedia alot in this blog, just to give readers some context for obscure Dennis Miller type references I sometimes use in posts. It’s good for that…a quick thumbnail overview. But you should never back an argument with it. It’s rampant with errors.
  • Reading Powerpoint slides
    No explanation needed. It should be mandatory that you read and pass a test on the book Presentation Zen before being allowed to use Powerpoint or Keynote
  • Being off color
    Personally, I don’t care for it in any context. If you want to use it in your personal life, go for it. But there’s never a reason for it in a professional setting.
  • Being mean
    No reason for it. Constructive criticism is wonderful, but anyone can pick away at ideas or people. It’s much more difficult to provide answers and new ideas.

These are just a random few off the top of my head. What phrases like these lock your reception up?

drive by social media

Ahhhh. The age of customer empowerment. Nothing quite as satisfiying as sticking it to the man with a social media lashing.  I’ve written on this blog and elsewhere that this is a good thing for both customers and brands. It allows companies to interact with their customers better.

But you’re probably seeing more and more stuff in your streams like this:

Widget Corp. is so STUPID. They HATE their customers. Their web site sucks!!! #WidgetFAIL

And then a few minutes later, a more meek tweet comes down the stream…

Oops. I didn’t have my computer plugged in.

Here’s the thing you need to think about. The first tweet comes up in searches for Widget Corp, the second doesn’t. And there were people watching your stream during the outrage that aren’t there for the mea culpa.

Remember that you’re packing a loaded gun (some of us have BB guns, others have AK-47s) with your online presence. If they deserve it, let ’em have it. But you need to be careful of what you’re casually destroying with a drive-by social media attack.

I know it seems like online anger makes you look cool like an A-list social media rockstar. But how about some seasoned sensibility before lashing out? *(you know, like you would do in the real world.)

Full Disclosure: I sometimes pretend that Widget Corp. is one of my clients. They have provided me widgets at no cost.

blitz aftermath

You should never eat food cooked by a skinny chef. You also should never buy a marketing book from someone who can’t get the message out about that book.

I am really happy with the success of Tuesday’s Amazon Blitz for Brand Zeitgeist. The book rocketed up the Amazon Sales Rank. It started in the sub-basement at #446,248 and went all the way up to the high water mark of #3,148 in just a few hours. I am most pleased that we stayed in the top 100 of books in the Marketing category for most of the day. The high point was when Brand Zeitgeist was the #33 most popular marketing book on Amazon.

Of course, the whole endeavor was just a gaming of the Amazon rank system. Today, the book has fallen back down (just checked — it’s at #9,732 this hour). But the blitz accomplished several of my goals: it’s still allowing the book to occupy a higher spot than it did (9,732 is better than 446,248) But more importantly, it put the book in the hands of a lot of people on Tuesday.

Obviously, the sales are nice from that. But I’m hoping for a secondary effect as those people read it, blog it, review it, tweet it, and spread it in all manner of ways to their IRL and online networks. It’s confirmation of a point I made in the book. You have to grab the attention of the Innovators and Early Adopters in any new product launch for the brand to become fixed in the zeitgeist.

The nice way to describe my budget for the blitz is “bootstrapped”. The more accurate word is “cheap”. Basically I leveraged and co-ordinated my existing networks. I called in favors. I did a few targeted media buys (the 800-lb gorilla of those being a HARO ad). I used the Brand Zeitgeist Facebook page as a central communication hub that fed out to other SM as current fans of the book helped spread the word about the blitz through their networks. And I prayed.

As with anything, there were mistakes. I wish I had co-ordinated my blog tour a bit better. I wish my publisher had listed the book in more categories (I would have shown up higher in some additional categories). And I wish I had done a smaller pre-blitz to give the main blitz a better jumping-off point than from #446,248. But — hindsight is 20/20.

The Amazon rank is just a number. The point is not to sell books. The point is to spread the ideas. The Amazon blitz was a good jumping off point for the rest of the book’s promotion. I now head into media interviews (some additional ones generated by yesterday’s blitz) and physical location book tours for the next few months (counting down to the book tour kickoff with home field advantage on May 2nd in Bowling Green).

The big thing I take from the blitz is not the rank or the sales figures — it’s the people. There were people spreading the word for me that I had never met. I had lots of personal friends, who maybe were not that interested in marketing, buying a book just to help me out. I got lots of encouragement from several people.

If you bought a book, spread the links to your friends, or just wished me well — I truly appreciate it.

And if you didn’t get to take part yesterday, it’s never too late.  😉

caught with their pants down

Back in February during “the big game”, there were two commercials with surprisingly similar creative executions. Both Dockers and CareerBuilder had spots that featured men without pants.

If you can’t (or won’t) remember the ads, watch the Dockers ad here or the CareerBuilder one here.

These two spots aired back-to-back in the same commercial break. During the Monday morning advertising quarterback critiques, Lil Miss Jen had a refreshing change on Super Bowl ad blog posts from the media placement viewpoint rather than the typical “more monkeys” creative viewpoint. One of the points in her post was about how sloppy the CBS media scheduling was to allow these two similar ads to be scheduled like they were.

Seems that CBS thought so too because they gave Dockers some free make-goods earlier this month. My question at the time was, “What about CareerBuilder?

According to a story on, CBS’ answer is to treat one advertiser differently than the other…

CareerBuilder said it was engaged in discussions with CBS as well. Now, despite the discussions, CareerBuilder says it does not expect to benefit from a similar arrangement, and is frustrated by that outcome.
The Super Bowl is “the focal point of commercial advertising,” said Richard Castellini, chief marketing officer of CareerBuilder, in an interview. “You would think that as much due diligence and as much pre-thought-out placement and trafficking would be given to this as possible, and it just doesn’t seem like that was the case.”

While there are several other reasons given in the AdAge story for the disparity, this just doesn’t seem fair to CareerBuilder. If I were an exec at CBS, I’d be nicer to CareerBuilder. If network TV keeps going on the track it’s on, the CBS execs may need CareerBuilder’s services in the future.

amazon blitz

In the spirit of Joseph Jaffe’s Amazon bumrush, I’m holding the Brand Zeitgeist Amazon Blitz on Tuesday.

Basically, the Amazon blitz is a focusing of all online efforts to game the Amazon sales ranks. If a book goes up on the charts, there’s a good possibility that it will stick. If you’ve ever seen any of my presentations where I talk about media planning, it’s a bellyflop instead of toes in the water.

If you’re going to purchase a copy of Brand Zeitgeist online, I would appreciate it if you did it sometime on Tuesday 3/23. Here’s the link:

I don’t plan to knock Michael Lewis’ The Big Short out of the top #1 spot, but I would love to see Brand Zeitgeist a little higher on the marketing charts.

Invite your friends via Facebook here or you can download the event to your Outlook or other calendar.

Or you could just forward this link:

As always, thank you for your support. I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten thus far from blog readers, friends, and complete strangers who have gotten excited about the book.

Look for my IRL book tour dates coming soon.

learning as you go

I would venture to say there are very few people who would skydive, ride a bull, wrestle alligators, or climb one of the Seven Summits without experience or at least after watching a very good orientation video.

And yet companies are rolling up their pants legs and wading out into the shark-infested waters of social media without a clue. They’re letting the interns and other untrained personnel control the messaging to some of their most important contacts and setting up a social media disaster.

Social media is currently biting Nestle on the Nestle facebook page.

Protesters are taking to the Nestle page to voice opposition about their alleged use of palm oil from deforested areas in Indonesia. That’s trouble, but a prudent social media manager could handle it (like the way Southwest handled the Kevin Smith incident). Instead, the admin(s) of the Nestle page went on the offensive responding to fans in a derisive and aggressive tone. This is not breaking a social media rule. It’s destruction of basic PR 101. The company should never argue with someone in public (and for all practical purposes, it was the COMPANY not the admin making the comments.)

Overall, this is a great look at how companies should think about their online reputation management mechanics and the need to plan for an online crisis response in the same way you’d plan for a traditional crisis.

My favorite thing about the Nestle incident is that on Friday the admin(s) posted

“Social media: as you can see we’re learning as we go. Thanks for the comments.”

This is true for any brand. Despite what the social media snake-oil salesmen say, there is no one who actually has any real experience in social media.

What companies should have experience in is basic customer service, public relations, advertising, etc and apply those lessons learned in old media to the new model. And if you’re going to jump in the deep end of the pool, you’d better know how to swim and expect to get wet.

the anti lemmings

While mass communication has become more individualized and singular in focus, there’s still a feeling, that in order to have any effect, you have to spread your message to thousands (millions?).

That’s not always true. You don’t need a big crowd. You just need a dedicated group of people who are willing to listen.

That group of dedicated followers is always in the crowd. That’s why the big message always works. You’re just spending lots of money and time to identify those dedicated people out of the masses.

So why spend the money and the time on the whole crowd if you’re just needing the smaller group? It’s because of the natural inborn reaction to see the big crowd and run toward it hoping to get in on the attention. But in reality, many times you’ll have better luck going against the crowd.

One of the tricks of avoiding lines at big venues is to turn left whenever possible because most people are right-handed and insinctively go right instead of left.

I have always advised clients and placed my own media buys counter to the market. I love to run radio in the 1st quarter. I design negative space print ads. I never advertise between September and November in an election year.

In the past week, I’ve been able to connect with other people who were not at SXSW because we were all sitting on the sidelines.

From today until Sunday, you can garner attention from those people not interested in college basketball.

Don’t run with the lemmings. Don’t go toward the light. Find the smart place where everybody doesn’t go. It’s a lot less crowded away from the crowd. You’ll find people who will pay attention.

united trilogy ends

Last July, I wrote a post about United Breaks Guitars.

Dave Carroll had promised to write a trilogy of songs about the sub par customer experience he had with United Airlines. The first song was an internet sensation. Currently, it’s nearing over 8 million views on YouTube and it was heavily downloaded on iTunes. The second song wasn’t as much of a hit but still did well with about 900,000 views.

Carroll is releasing the third and final song tonight. I doubt if it will be as hot as the first one, but these three songs make a great point about how companies need to act in this digital age. In fact, the United Breaks Guitars case study was a last minute addition to my book Brand Zeitgeist as an example of how one unhappy customer can use the power of social media to move the image of the brand in the zeitgeist.

As Dave says

I had hoped that creating these videos might make a big corporation rethink how they think of each and every customer but could never have imagined the potential hidden inside a music video and a few social media tools. Corporations of all kinds around the world now feel compelled, in part because of United Breaks Guitars, to build in a better model for customer care into their businesses. I’m proud to have been a part of it but the real credit goes to the millions of people around the world who took the time to laugh and tell a friend. The power behind the United Breaks Guitars Trilogy lies in the numbers of people from countries far and wide who are laughing with me.

Companies are worried about the effects of social media are having on their brands. Social media is not the danger. Businesses need to be concerned with customer service. People will tell their friends.

Update: The third song…