Why. I. Am. Doing. This.

I believe in the power of stories. Stories are like Maps. They point to directions and paths that we might not have seen if not well marked. I share my stories, and my goal is to enable others to be emboldened to share theirs. Stories told as they are happening is a way of seeing the imperfect, raw, and often tenuous ways that outcomes are shaped. When any decision is seen in retrospect, we can say “of course” but that’s rarely how it feels at the time. I did a very transparent process of sharing the Rubicon closure story over the course of a year, in the hopes that perhaps it will be informative to others and knowing that how I tell the story years from now will be different than the steps on the journey. This blog can then be a learning journey of stories – yours and mine.

Nilofer Merchant is brilliant! Follow her blog and you’ll see why…

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"No, Really, I am the Swiss Army Knife of XYZ"

TEDxBayArea May 2010
Image by ttnk via Flickr

Because of a twitter exchange, a CEO of a company sent me their website link and asked me to check it out. After a minute of arriving, I left. I couldn’t tell who it was for, I couldn’t even tell what it was. Rather than ignoring this email, I wrote back with some advice to the CEO — make it easy to know who you serve and why it matters.

It’s the easiest advice to give of course — know who you will serve and why you stand out. But each entrepreneur I know tries to skip this point. So let me just share that “we serve everyone who could possibly use xyz” is not a valid answer.
And, yet, you might ask… does it really matter? I mean, what if the product really does have scale across many segments and it’s agnostic to size of company? What if it is really the swiss-army knife an solves tons of problems? Then, can the company avoid segmentation or individual positioning? Really, isn’t it better to position towards a big space than a small space?

Well, that depends.

Nilofer Merchant is easy on the eyes but hard on the brain [that’s her on the right in the photo above], and I was lucky to know her during my time at Apple. Most of the time, however, she makes my head hurt with posts like this — I hate it when she makes me think so much!

You can follow the ‘via’ link above to go to the source and read the rest of the article if you’d like to dig a little deeper — she’s definitely one to follow…

7 Things That Blogging Does

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
  1. Blogging = Critical Thinking. If everything else went away (the readers, the comments, the community, the feedback), Blogging was (and still is) an amazing place to think about an issue or news item and work through it. I liken myself as a Media Hacker. A Blog is a great place for anyone to be a Hacker of whatever it is that they love. If you don’t believe me, then just watch this: Blogging Still Matters… Now More Than Ever.
  2. Blogging = Ideation. In using your Blog as a platform for your critical thinking, you will quickly start uncovering new and interesting business models and ideas for how you can push your industry forward or how it can/should be thinking differently. Writing a Blog, reading the comments and feedbacking into them is the ultimate Petri dish for ideation and innovation.
  3. Blogging = Tinkering. The ideas and critical thinking are not always one hundred percent final. Blogging allows you to tinker with ideas. To work at them (like a complex mathematical formula). Slowly, over time, you start realizing how wrong you were, how visionary you were and how much further you still have to go.
  4. Blogging = Relationships. It’s not about sitting in the dark recesses of your basement as you tinker away with words and thoughts. It’s about using this platform to connect. It’s about real interactions with real human beings. Some of my best friends are people that I would not have otherwise met were it not for Six Pixels of Separation (the Blog, not the concept). If you Blog, step out into the physical world. Meet other Bloggers. Share, learn and collaborate with them.
  5. Blogging = Business. Make no mistake about it. This Blog started out as a means for Twist Image to tell the world how we think differently about Media, Marketing, Advertising and Communications. Over the years, this has attracted many world-class clients, speaking engagements, a book offer and many other amazing and interesting business opportunities. So, while this is not a place where Twist Image shills its wares, it is a place that is directly tied to our overall business objectives/strategy. It consistently delivers a very solid ROI to our bottom line (take that, you Social Media measurement naysayers!).
  6. Blogging = Sharing. As each day passes, I like Charlene Li‘s latest book, Open Leadership, more and more (her first book, Groundswell rocks as well). Many people think that Social Media is all about the conversation and engaging in the conversation. I believe what makes any media “social” is the ability to share it. To help you to open up. Not only can you share the concepts by telling your peers and friend about a Blog, but everybody shares in the insights as well (whether you work for my company or not). It has changed/evolved our corporate culture. A Blog makes you think more about how you can share your content, your thoughts and why others may want to work/connect to you.
  7. Blogging = Exhaust Valve. A great Blog is great because the Blogger actually cares and loves to create content. If it’s forced, if it’s your “job,” then the passion rarely comes through. The biggest lesson I have learned in my seven years of Blogging is that this Blog is my exhaust valve. After working a full day with clients and their many challenges, this Blog is my playground. It’s the place where I can let off some textual steam. Make your Blog your exhaust valve. Caution: be careful that you’re not Blogging simply to blow off angry steam. The steam and exhaust I am talking about is the pent up energy of passion that I have from doing what I love to do.

What does Blogging equal for you?

This is a longer quote than I usually grab, but only because Mitch Joel’s introspection on the 7th anniversary of his blog launch are so good…

How To Be The Ultimate Road Warrior

http://www.youtube.com/v/fU3OsE84qow&hl=en_US&fs=1&

Travel much? Then you might benefit from this advice from social media superstars Chris Brogan [above] and Mitch Joel [here]…

The answer is 'both/and'

I’m always fond of saying that the answer is rarely either/or but both/and. Mitch Joel says the same thing here but in a slightly different way…

“Digital Marketing is not the silver bullet. Digital Marketing is not the only marketing a brand should be doing.

Branding works. Traditional mass media advertising words. Direct Marketing works. PR works. And every other niche of Marketing, Advertising and Communications still works too. It’s a matter of understanding the strategy of the brand, the marketplace of your consumer and then implementing a healthy strategy that will help you achieve your business goals and ROI. Yes, for some brands, that will mean a heavier focus on the Digital Marketing component, but it might also mean looking at your market from a different perspective. And yes, because of the growth of Internet usage and the multitude of new opportunities, Digital Marketing definitely deserves a seat at the adult table of a proper marketing mix.

Everything is “with” not “instead of.”

Some of the brands understand this so well. I’ve been in meetings where a CMO has shown me how their 30-second spot drives sales (and when they stop the TV advertising, the sales plummet) and how their Social Media activity keeps the interest and loyalty in-between and during campaigns. It’s that healthy balance that we all too often forget about. Just the other day (March 24th, 2010, to be exact), eMarketer had a news item titled, Combining the Strengths of Social and E-Mail, which stated:

“‘Even though people are spending more time using social media, they are not abandoning e-mail,’ said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Maximizing the E-Mail/Social Media Connection. ‘The two channels can help each other, offering the opportunity for marketers to create deeper connections.’ More than four in 10 business executives surveyed by StrongMail said integrating e-mail and social was one of their most important initiatives for 2010, just after improving e-mail performance and targeting and growing opt-in lists.”” Source: Everything Is “With” Not “Instead Of” | Six Pixels of Separation – Marketing and Communications Blog – By Mitch Joel at Twist Image

When I spoke last week at the Ashwaubenon Business Association, I was chatting with a direct mail marketer afterward and I wanted to be sure that he understood — as I hope that you understand — that I don’t advocate stopping ANY traditional marketing methods that are working for you. Just add the social media ones that make sense!

While you were sleeping 3/17/2010

Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathed...
Image via Wikipedia

Facebook rules — today’s news, the web, everything!

“”Facebook ruled the Web last week just squeaking past Google to become the most popular online destination among United States users. For the week ending March 13, Facebook claimed 7.07 percent of U.S. Internet visits, while Google was right behind the social network with 7.03 percent, according to metrics firm Experian Hitwise. Compared to the same week in 2009, Facebook visits grew by 185 percent, while Google was comparatively stagnant with a mere 9 percent increase in visits.”” Source: Facebook Rules The Web | Six Pixels of Separation – Marketing and Communications Blog – By Mitch Joel at Twist Image

Elsewhere…

“HitWise is reporting that for the week ending March 13, Facebook overtook Google as the site to get the most US visits. Facebook also reached the top spot for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, when people logged on to send best wishes to relatives. Last time we suggested that the next time Facebook took the number one spot, it would be permanent, and if the Hitwise data is accurate, this could be a sustained lead” Source: Facebook Surpasses Google As Number One U.S. Site

Facebook and Twitter have been demonstrated to influence buying decisions…

“A new study shows that those who are fans or followers of a brand on Facebook or Twitter, respectively, are significantly more likely to buy products and services or recommend the brand to a friend.

Specifically, the study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, and 51% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Facebook (Facebook). Moreover, they’re 79% more likely to recommend their Twitter (Twitter) follows to a friend, and 60% more likely to do the same on Facebook” Source: Facebook and Twitter Making a Major Impact on Purchase Decisions [STATS]

Finally, Facebook shows no sign of slowing down! They are upgrading their internal search capabilities…

“In another move signaling its increased focus on opening up data, Facebook is rolling out a set of enhancements to its search experience. The changes are focused on getting you to the relevant profile, page, group or event on Facebook before actually running a query.

Previously, Facebook (Facebook) would auto-suggest existing connections, for example, if you’re my friend and started typing “Adam …” in the search box, you’d see a link to my profile. Now, it’ll make broader recommendations based on your friend connections and what’s popular with the wider Facebook network. If this still doesn’t yield what you’re looking for, you can go to “see more results,” which takes you to Facebook’s full search results interface.” Source: Facebook Upgrades Search Capabilities

Happy St. Patrick’s Day…

While you were sleeping 3/7/2010

Mitch Joel speculates on the ‘death’ of the website as we know it and the ‘birth’ of something new…

If you thought fragmentation was changing the way a brand buys media, just wait until you see what it’s going to do to the Digital Marketing space.

Are the days of big websites and long website builds numbered? It could well be. If you think about how people find and connect to most brands, it’s not just through a search engine anymore. In fact, more and more people are having their first brand interaction on their mobile device. There are many people who are also connecting to brands for the first time in spaces like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Does this mean that the website is going the way of the dodo bird?

Not exactly, but it does mean that the overall Digital Marketing strategy is going to change dramatically in the next little while. Instead of one, big and centralized website with many digital marketing outposts in the appropriate platforms, it is more than likely that we’re going to see more and more brands create multiple spaces and platforms to ensure that they’re connecting with the right people in the right communities.

Imagine a world…

Where a Digital Marketing strategy focuses less on one big website and more on creating engaging “things” like iPhone apps, a mobile website, a Facebook page along with a Blog (or whatever), and it’s all supported with a simple website that acts more like a hub for all of the other spokes. Yes, there are some (only a few) brands already playing with creating Facebook pages in lieu of micro-sites for promotions and experiential marketing initiatives, but it has not become a commonplace activity where you find a brand doing multiple things in multiple channels and focusing less on driving consumers to their marketing-riddled jargony websites.” Source: The End Of Big Website Builds | Six Pixels of Separation – Marketing and Communications Blog – By Mitch Joel at Twist Image

e1evation uses and recommends this approach using a combination of WordPress, social media spokes — even a mobile app! [log on to e1evation from your mobile browser and you’ll see what I mean!]. By partnering with Drawerist.com, also offer a wide array of design capabilities as well…

Questions? Feedback? Comment, call or contact me to discuss how this applies to your business…