Sunday night we were invited by my friend Jeff to a launch party for a new Brazilian beer called Brahma. The bash was hosted by Labatt's, who are the new domestic bottler of the brew. Maybe it was the free beer, or the beautiful people, or the cool venue (the Rocky Mountaineer train station) or the free beer, but I sure felt like telling ten friends about this one.
Sure, we did the right thing and talked about the taste of the beer (which I really enjoyed, but the free stuff always tastes better) but for the most part people just mingled and had fun. My wife and I ran into an old friend (who works for Labatts, oddly enough) and everybody had a great time. Brazilian Capoiera dancers were there performing, and break dancers as well. I couldn't see much, but I managed to shoot this quick, shaky video of the action:
Sadly, I didn't capture any of the Capoiera folk doing any of their crazy flips, but it will give you an idea.
The event must have cost a small fortune, but I'd reckon very few of the guests came away with any complaints. I for one came away with a fondness for the bubbly brown stuff, as they intended.
It's been a long time since I've posted, so I guess I have some 'splainin' to do. Well, in what some might consider to be my "off time," I've been quite busy.
For starters, I've just finished a re-design of my site, the soon-to-be telltenfriends.com. It's still hosted at yobomedia.com, but expect that to change any day. Big, huge thanks to Rob Masefield for the pretty pictures. I think we can all agree his logo design (seen in the header of this blog) is nothing short of brilliant.
He also took this shot of me at the 2010 Olympics shrine at the peak of Whistler:
For the last few weeks, Ryan and I have been working on the launch of the Vancouver Blog, a new hub of blog activity for the greatest city in the world. It is now up and running, and will grow exponentially any minute, I'm sure. Another nod to Rob for the excellent Vancouver skyline photo in the banner.
Also, I've taken some time to work on some projects for some friends. First, I edited a demo reel for one of my good friends, Jeff Leyland.
(click to watch. runtime 4 min.)
I also went Squidoo crazy and built lenses for Jeff, Sandy and my wife. (Who has since beefed hers up considerably) Then I did a bit of work to my own, as well.
Alas, with my lack of blogging activity of late I might not crack the Technorati Top 100, but as of this writing my Squidoo lens is ranked inside the top 500, at 438.
My golf swing is pretty smooth these days too, I must admit.
I ran again yesterday; about 5 miles or so (8 km). Still a far cry from the 26.2 miles of a full marathon. I've also started a "yoga for runners" program that I do a few times a week in addition to my time on the tennis court and golf course. Once I got past the hippy-esque side of the yoga, I realized it was quite challenging and really good for me, so I'm gonna keep it up.
Thanks to the good folks over at the Spargo blog in London for the link to the Hal Higdon marathon training program. I've tenatively scheduled a few competitive runs for this year (none longer than 10k) but it looks like the Vancouver Marathon In May of 2007 will be the end goal.
Also, Ryan has signed on train with me. If you're just tuning in, this is an update of a challenge I made for myself recently.
I'll update again closer to the Vancouver Sun Run, April 23; my first race of this year.
If you want to read a collection of hard-hitting short fiction stories by a young author with a real voice, then you can order your copy online now. The first person characters in Sellyn's book are incredibly real. It is hard to fathom how an author so young (just 23 now!) has created such believable and often quite disturbing heroes and anti-heroes; some of whom are much older than the author himself. Yet he has, and it's no wonder the book is gettingsomuchpublicity.
Although Google Video is arguable getting their hindquarters handed to them in the battle against YouTube for dominance in the online video share category, they have invented a contest that just might tip the scale.
It's called GoogleIdol, and it doesn't need much more introduction than that, so follow this link and vote often. Remember, standard text messaging rates do NOT apply.
What I mean by the question is, will businesses pay a marketing company to initiate a "buzz" campaign on their behalf, in hope of starting the whispers among friends? Of course they will. BzzAgent (whose home page isn't working as of this writing, link is to blog) has built an enterprize around the belief that they will, in spades. Will it work? Sometimes, perhaps.
The key to word-of-mouth marketing and its awesome power, is that it's nothing more that fans of a company or product that spread the good word, because they truly believe in what they are promoting. If these people can be trusted by their audience, then the story gathers momentum and results in a spike in business for the company in question. The word of a marketer is of little value in those conversations. Buzz Canuck's post on this very subject highlights how and when it happens, and how much control marketing initiatives have over the process (hint: not much). But how does one harness that power, or better yet, how do you start that kind of viral discussion among your prospective customers?
I'm repeating myself, quoting Seth and paraphrasing Ryan when I say that there is only one answer. By being remarkable. And that means only one thing: that someone deems you worthy of making a remark about. The power to be remarkable is in the hands of the business, and not a marketing company. Because being remarkable can't be defined in any simple form; it can hardly even be predicted. But like all marketing, with the right idea and some adventurous test-and-measure execution, it is certainly possible.
I've been thinking on this very puzzle for some time, as the future of Tell Ten Friends will most likely be heavily involved in word-of-mouth campaigns and ideas. But just like a business can't survive with word-of-mouth marketing alone (at least, not often) neither can a marketing company expect to make a go of trading on word-of-mouth as its only product.
What is the value of an idea?
It's impossible to quantify. But, in the true spirit of being remarkable, a marketing company could (hypothetically) use word-of-mouth ideas as a calling card, even a loss-leader (I shudder as I type those words) and still profit from handling all of the peripheral online and traditional marketing initiatives for the client.
That's the way I see it at the moment. I'll be looking deeper into the viability of word-of-mouth as a revenue model in the coming months, but If I had to wager I'd say I'll keep coming to the same conclusion: That popular opinion might be something that can be persuaded, but not bought and sold.
I'm waiting for my pulse to return to normal before I take a shower. I just got back from a 9 km run (conversion to miles, anyone?) on the "Terry Fox" Trail in Central Park in Burnaby. First run in ages. I feel surprisingly good. I thought it would be a struggle, but it wasn't.
So now, still reeling from the all the activity, feeling somewhat bullet-proof after my attempt at athleticism, I'm taking a huge risk (by my standards) by making a major announcement. I told my wife already (probably only half seriously), but now I'm going public with it:
Here's MY social blogging experiment. No milliondollarhomepage, no $39, no lucky list. (link from mom)
I am going to finish a marathon before I turn 31. A real one. 26.2 MILES (conversion to km, anyone?). That means before July of next year.
And now that I have posted it live, by my own admission, I am accountable to that goal. Because you're gonna hold me accountable. I've been tested already; my computer froze while writing this post (providing a great opportunity to back out), but then the Essential Mix I was listening to in iTunes came back to life, and the cursor started blinking again. A sign.
Certain recent developments in my life have sparked a new sense of freedom, of choices and future considerations. Now is the time to make them, and this is the first of several big ones that will shape my future and that of family. But I'm rambling. Back to the plan:
I have no training schedule yet. No end race in mind. No training partner (Ryan? Corrie?) But I have a goal. And I've devised the system for updates:
1. Each update post will be short, and include the date and training distance, a link to this post, and not much more. Light reading that I hope my audience will check in on, in addition to my marketing babblespeak.
2. As I schedule training runs, secure dates, up the mileage and learn how to convert metric to imperial, I will update.
3. I will always use some form of self-deprecating commentary in hopes of generating some words of encouragement, links and comments, and nothing more.
4. I WILL ask readers for pledges for charity training runs, etc. but my Mom and Grandma are readers, so I'll surely see at least SOME response there.
That's it. If you're not super stoked for me...then act like it, please. An undertaking like this takes a LOT of will power; I may need to borrow some of yours, at times.
It seems as if I have this conversation a lot, so it was high time I wrote down my thoughts cohesively. (For reference sake, and for the world to comment on)
I am a former newspaper man; as a reporter and in display ad sales (both sides: art and commerce). Do I still have allegiance to my journalistic background? Of course I do. As a blogger, this is evident in the fact that I faithfully credit my sources when I'm writing a post and I try (maybe not as hard as I should, but that's MY business) to keep an eye on spelling. So I'll start there, with my sources, and then we'll get to the meat-and-potatoes of this post.
First I'll point to a post by John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing. He's encountered clients that don't see the value of blogs and have dismissed them as useless online diaries, so he's not using the "b" word anymore. As he points out, this "new marketing strategy"...
Will bring you a substantial increase in search engine traffic
Will greatly enhance your ability to communicate with your market
Will increase your odds of being interviewed by the media
Will allow you (or someone you designate) to instantly post news updates to your web site
Will guarantee that your web site has fresh reasons for people to come back
Will allow you to be seen as a thought leader in your industry and
Will give you a tool to help cement strategic partner (Jordan adds the word 'customer') relationships
With evidence to prove that all of this is true, why are there still non-believers out there? Because people fear change, but that's a post for another day.
Get out there, share some information, start a relationship and really LISTEN to your customers. Period.
Shifting gears a bit, from corporate blogs to what I'll call "consumer blogs" (that's still everyone, technically) ::
Steve Rubel (he's a PR man, and arguably the most influential of them all) wrote a simple post today about how bloggers aren't reporters (duh!). He's right, and has the stats to prove it. This is the one that lit my fire today, so this is where I'll take the one-step-up onto my proverbial soap box.
Bloggers aren't reporters, and most don't aspire to be. It would be fairer to compare bloggers to columnists than to traditional news reporters, if anything.
In the newspaper business, only the most opinionated, respected and influential scribes get the honor of sharing their opinion in a column. News journalists are (supposed to be) restricted to the facts and objectivity.
In the blogosphere, everybody has a voice and are free to share their opinion with the rest of the world. Instantly. Popular opinion then spreads like a virus, gains momentum and has the power to create over-night success stories and crushing defeats with its influence.
In these days of media outlets with political agendas and PR firms jockeying to control public opinion, a blogger's word is (arguably) more sacred. Like the difference between the word of a salesman and a testimonial from a customer, for eg. (Corporate blogs excluded)
What I love about blogging is that on here, I am the Publisher. I am the Editerr (sic). And I am Chief Reporter and Head Columnist, all rolled into one. I have made it possible (a little late, mind you) for the entire world to leave their two-bits on what I have to say. To hold me accountable to my words and beliefs, if you will. It's 100% democratic and the whole thing is a lot of fun, too!
If you're a business owner and you still don't see the power of blogs, try reading a few. Read the comments. Read how fans of an idea or product become evangelists and spread the message to their readers and-so-on-and-so-forth, ad infinitum. Then if you like, refer to the "bottom line" of your marketing budget, and try to calculate how expensive it is to create that kind of buzz even ONCE through the traditional means of marketing that you're using.
When you've done all of this and you are a true believer, drop me a line. We've got lots to catch you up on and I'd be more than happy to help.
I'm not saying that I'm smarter, or quicker or anything like that...If anything it serves as proof that he's managed to teach me something.
And I think he's got Ryan hypnotized as well. If you don't want to catch the same fever, then don't visit my Squidoo lens and don't go to the bottom of the page and click through to buy his books. In fact, don't go anywhere near Squidoo at all.
Forget about the so-called "A-list." Ignore the Technorati Top 100. Even the "Blog 50" is irrelevant now. So what is the new high water mark for a blog; the highest honor that a blogger can have bestowed upon them?
Nathan Sellyn is a friend of mine, and a brilliant young author from Vancouver. His first book (a collection of short stories) is just a month from release and the marketing is still falling into place. In fact, his publisher, Raincoast Books put this promo page live with a pull-quote "sample." Oops!
Then, savvy blogger Ryan Bigge from Toronto spotted it and subsequently wrote this post. To quote him: "I will buy five copies of his book if the final, printed book cover actually says that."
Mr. Sellyn knows about the error. Raincoast? Yes, they're wise to the boo-boo too. (say that three times fast while dancing!) Yet it remains. Rumour has it Raincoast is considering doing exactly what Mr. Bigge joked about. I love this idea to pieces. Why? Because I can't wait to tell ten friends, that's why. And I think others will, too, and my friend will sell some books.
If I know Nate as well as I think I do, it's a perfect fit for his sense of humour...and trust me, it's not hyperbole, even in the least.
Mack just brought to my attention that I (FOOLISHLY) had my blog settings so that only Blogger users could comment. I was beginning to wonder why Mack and Ryan and my wife and occasionally Rob and my Mom were the only commenters.
I am sorry. To Andrea, especially, who writes a great PR 2.0 blog (is it okay to call it that, Andrea?) and who brought it to Mack's attention.
Maybe THAT is why nice people like Justin link to me, and have never left a comment.
I have changed it, folks. Comment away, svp. And again, je suis tres desolaits!
The folks over at "Church of the Customer" explain in back-to-back posts why YouTube is the go-to Web 2.0 application for uploading video. The short synopsis: YouTube lives up to its clever name and is cleaner, easier and more functional to use, with YOU in mind.
First, a top ten of how YouTube beats Google Video. Then a post about how YouTube has been responsible for some of the greatest viral marketing success stories. And how NBC, one of the lucky recipients of all this digital attention, don't fully understand the value of it all. I guess actually, they DO see a value, and they mistakenly think that there is a revenue model there that they can exploit.
Take it from me NBC (yeah, they're listening!). Let the kids share your funny clips, like Natalie Portman cussin' and fightin' and fornicatin'. It's a great way to create buzz for the show and boost viewership. It's the only hope you have of continuing to charge massive amounts to advertise during the show. Leave the iTunes sales to the starving artists in the recording industry who actually need the revenue.
[Update:] As Mack points out in the comments, the responses would be a lot different if companies knew about the blogging, and I agree. In actual fact though, it shouldn't matter.
These companies are being handed a golden opportunity to do something extraordinary for someone who (at least on the surface) appears to be a loyal fan of their product. Customers are expensive. We spend loads of money trying to get our messages in front of prospective customers, in the hopes of connecting with just a few. When we're lucky, some of those customers become evangelists, and then they start telling ten friends; or fifty.
Any marketer worth their weight in salt should know by now that the "secret" to creating a great brand is in making the product remarkable. As Seth pointed out in his talk to Google, there is only one criteria: That it is worth making a remark about.
I'm completely baffled as to why a company would spend the time to write a letter, lick a stamp and make up some yarn about how they don't have a mailing list or whatever and can't send free product to someone with (seemingly) a legitimate request. I realize that if they did, it would set a dangerous precedent, but it's a risk vs. reward situation. This guy didn't complain about their products, he stated matter-of-factly that he is a huge fan. Risk: One jar of pasta sauce. Possible reward: A customer that makes a habit of telling ALL of their friends (evangelizing) about your great product.
I guess I think it's a no-brainer. Send the guy some swag, regardless of who's watching. It's a much better way of making your product or company remarkable.
Also: he got his first response from a company rep that found him online. The company: Eden foods.
job spam- n. v. (JAHB-spam) 1. n. the means by which a prospective employer mass-mails or telemarkets job candidates to seduce them into taking what will inevitably be a crappy job. 2. v. The act of dispatching a form letter email or uninformed telemarketer to attract employees based solely on the fact that their resume is posted online.
In the past three days I have been emailed and called by three seperate companies in regards to my resume, which I posted at Monster.ca. None of them had any idea about me, except that my resume had the word marketing in it. The girl who phoned me last night (around 8pm) had no idea about work experience. My resume obviously wasn't in front of her, whereas her list of scripted questions must have been very handy indeed.
Not sure how I feel about all of this, just wanted to put it out there and see if anyone else has experienced the same thing.
It was Steve Rubel who found it, now I'm passing it on. Likely, plenty of others will do the same.
It's called the $39 experiment, and it's simple: Take $39 worth of stamps, mail 100 letters to 100 companies asking for some free stuff, and see what happens. There's more to the equation of course; visit the link and read to the bottom, where he (Tom Locke) has his often hilarious letters written- and the status of the response from the companies.
Since it's obvious that this cheeky concept will make its rounds of the blogosphere, it will be interesting to see which companies respond at all, which respond the quickest, and whether their responses reflect the fact that they know they have an audience of a LOT more people than just the letter writer.
How blog savvy are the makers of the products in your home? Stay tuned to find out.
I guess you could say the theme here is "Marketing 2.0."
I'm fascinated by the rapid changes happening in the world of marketing and new media.
Wanna join the conversation? Leave a comment, or send me an email.