Sunday, April 30, 2006

the customer is sometimes wrong

Here I go, linking to Seth again.

I just really liked this matter-of-fact way of saying what most business owners already know to be true:

The customer is not always right

He's right. They can be very wrong, and cause a lot more trouble than they're worth. And when they do, they're not your customer anymore.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

all marketers are liars

Seth's words, not mine.

Seth Godin's book, "All Marketers Are Liars," is about how successful brands are built on great stories.

From "green M&M's will help you hit home runs," to "Subway can help you lose weight," and everything else in between; most often we buy because we believe in the story behind the product. The one that the marketing department wants you to buy into.

I'm convinced my watch keeps better time than most. It was made in Switzerland. Plus there's an Italian guy's name on the front of it. My $10 Casio digital I had as a boy always seemed to do the job too, in retrospect.

But enough of that. I'm repeating the same stuff I've spewed many times in the past, and the main reason for this post is to send you off to Seth's blog, where he gives a "Cliff Notes" version of All Marketers Are Liars in just a few paragraphs.

Read it, believe it. And buy bottled water only from Canada; it's the cleanest, freshest and tastiest on the planet.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

advice from the best in the biz, free.

One of the things that I like the most about this "new web" world we live in, is that it seems the sharing of information is par for the course. Everyone is doing it; sharing like we were taught to do in kindergarten.

Even best-selling authors, and the kind of guys that charge $1500 plus for a seat at their keynotes are giving their best stuff away for no charge. Some people like to protect their ideas and teachings under lock and key, while others recognize the value of letting their work spread virally, and want the world to know that they can "pass it on," as long as fair credit is given.

In the spirit of that, Creative Commons was created to make this trading of information legal. Essentially, Creative Commons gives authors, bloggers and other content creators a "legalese" agreement with their readers that says that if you give the author credit and a link, you may republish any of their material. Business Owners take note: this content is free when you follow the rules, and it's terrific stuff. Use the CC search engine to find what you need. Cheers to John Jantsch for the reminder.

Disclosure:: I haven't signed up with Creative Commons yet, but consider my ramblings public domain. And you can quote me on that. Getting a licence from CC just went on my "to do" list. Maybe I'll put it into my Google Calendar.

Bonus humour link:: Rob Masefield, my good friend and designer is an Australian living in Canada. Which as it turns out, is not without its challenges.

This is the kind of item that I can see going viral. Vancouver grocery stores, take note!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

marketing is evolving

I'm back from a long hiatus that included several days on the Sunshine Coast in Powell River; to visit family, enjoy Easter turkey and catch a hockey game in the Allan Cup tournament.

As a quick sidebar from the marketing babblespeak, I'm proud to say that my home team boys (and alma mater, if you count the two games they let me play for them) The Powell River Regals are the 2006 Allan Cup Champions. A few years back I got to sip from the revered Allan Cup (it's older than Lord Stanley's pail, and is now presented to the top Sr. Men's team in Canada) and although I was never enough of a hockey player to play on those championship teams, I'm proud to see the old green-and-gold win the big prize at home.

::Now, back to the goods. Since I've returned I've had a lot of action in the Tell Ten Friends universe. Although I can't share too much yet, the good news is that some clients seem quite receptive to web-based PR and using blogs to promote themselves online.

::In all of the reading that I had to catch up on, one thing caught my eye above all else. The folks over at the Church of the Customer blog reported that companies are now adding VPs, Directors and Managers specifically for WOM; including Dow Jones and Yahoo.

Obviously, big business is catching on. I only hope that they get it right. The key is to do something for your customers that is unexpected, or a little bit extra, for which you expect no thanks or recognition. Only then are they likely find it worth telling ten friends about.

I like this quote from Ben McConnell, who sums up this new wave of marketing hires quite nicely:

"When start-ups and two of the world's biggest and most influential content companies are crafting positions specifically for word of mouth, that's evolution. If traditional companies like Charles Schwab, Northrup Grumman or Sysco ever hire VPs of WOM, that's revolution."

::Bonus link: My brother is now using Filmloop to promote listings and recent real estate sales on his blog. He even emailed his example to Guy Kawasaki, and was quickly added to his blogroll. No offense at all to my kid bro, but this is proof positive that this little tool is indeed easy to use. If you haven't tried it yet, you're missing out.

Oh yeah, Rob's using it too on his MySpace page.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

every-little-thing you do is marketing

Again I point my readers to the blog of John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. He points out that something as simple as answering the question, "What do you do for a living?" can help to position someone as more than just their job title.

Using my brother as an example...Wrong answer: "I'm a realtor." A more correct, value-added suggestion: "I specialize in helping people make smart investments in finding a place that they can call home."

Why not take the opportunity to show people that you're different/better than the rest? Now let's do me...Wrong answer: "I own a marketing company. On the in-ter-nets." Value-added reply this time: "I help other small-business owners discover their company's identity, and grow their profile in their respective markets." Wordy, but unquestionably better.

As Jantsch says, the answer should cause the listener to think, "Hmm. Tell me more about that." Something to think about the next time you're trying to make a memorable impression at a networking event.

Bonus link:: Via Adrants, a new "Barber Blog," created by a men's products company. I don't have time to explain fully why I think this is so cool...Let's just say I wish I'd thought of it myself.

Lastly:: I am taking some time off to be with the greatest family in the world for the long weekend; back sometime mid-next week. Cheers, and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

blog love from on high, via a bonafide A-lister

More on Guy Kawasaki: He sees marketing, design and execution from a different perspective. The perspective of a Venture Capitalist.

I've seen him speak (via Quicktime, not in the flesh) and gleaned a lot of great info from his blog. "The Art of the Start" has gone on my Amazon wishlist. He's the reason I've decided that I might have to sneak across the border to buy a Scion XB (not available off the lot in Canada!), and plaster it with Tell Ten Friends logos, but that's a story for another day. Let's just say (without sounding too sucky, I hope) that as a fledgling entrepreneur, I'm paying attention to this guy.

He's had a blog now for just 100 days. In that time, he first cracked the Top 500, and now sits well inside the Technorati Top 100, at 86.

He's eyeing the top ten, here's why I think he might get there: Yesterday, I read in his post about Filmloop that if you tested it out, and emailed him the resulting page/post, he would add you to his blogroll. "Pffft!" I thought to myself. "The guy's an A-lister, he'll never make good on that." So I tested him.

Well, he made good. This may not be the case forever, but as of this writing, there it is on the right of his page, in the "Bloop Roll." A link to me. Or in fact, a link to my post from yesterday, containing the "looplet" of photos of my wife. Nice, hey?

His subscription base: 15, 000. Mine: still a secret, due to its modesty. But with help from Guys like, well...Guy, and not to mention Mack at BMA, I might be proudly displaying my feedburner stats in no time at all.

PS:: One thing that Mr. Kawasaki advocates is to avoid using "I" in your blog, wherever possible. Here, I disagree. I created this blog, so I'M gonna talk about ME when the mood strikes. Most of my favorite blogs share that trait: a glimpse into someone's mind; their personal point of view.

PPS:: A special shoutout to my first positive review from the Southern Hemisphere. You know who you are, Brisbane!

Uses of "I" in this post: 13. And no apologies for it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

multi-media that's too sexy for words.

This is an experimental test of a great little piece of technology that was introduced to me by Guy Kawasaki.

I've heard him mention Filmloop in the past, but the new "looplet" feature that allows loops to be displayed in blogs, and viewed by anyone without dowloading a player? Well, that was just too good to pass up.

The directions in his post made it sound easy, so I gave it a try. Here's my first ever "loop," featuring none other than the lovely and talented Mrs. Behan:

If this works, then it was indeed very easy. If I have to make adjustments (like I do to make a YouTube screen fit in my blog posts) then you'll hear me gripe about it in subsequent updates. Apologies in advance to those of you reading this in a feeder; you'll have to open to the actual url of this post to get the whole effect.

Update:: In the Blogger template, Mr. Kawasaki's measurements of 120x500 is too wide. I changed it to 400, and voila! She fits like a glove. I love it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

the lifecycle of a journalist turned blogger

"Journalist" might be a bit of a stretch in my case.

At the young age of 16, I took my first job as a weekends-and-evenings sports reporter at the local newspaper. By the time I finished high school, I had two years of experience in the newspaper biz.

Then came college, and later a return to my "beat," only for a different paper. (Please visit the Peak's site. Top story: Powell River is in the top 50 for Canada's most spirited hockey town!)
All tolled, let's call it four years as a notebook-and-camera-totin' reporter/photographer before I segued into advertising.

I tell you this only as a prelude to the two stories I'm about to point you to, to explain why they have some level of sentimental significance to me.

Two of our fellow bloggers have stricken some heavy blows against major newspapers in North America's epicentre of commerce, New York City.

In the first, let's call it the Warm Up: Sex Columnist, erotica author, editor and blogger Violet Blue (careful, NSFW) drags a New York Times journalist through his own muck, by publishing an email he sent to her that he marked "not for publication." She didn't agree with a piece he wrote about a blogger who was threatening violence against Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin. So she posted about it, and put his rebuttal online, including her critique of it. Ouch! Score one for the power of blogs, and I'll tell you why. You can sense from this cat's letter that he cares very much what Violet says about him, and fears her influence. Violet wins this one, in the name of defending her friend, and society's nonchalance toward violence against women.

Ding ding! In round two: Jeff Jarvis (a crowned king of influential bloggers after his lash-outs against Dell) has published a link to a story about a gossip columnist involved in a payola scandal, and later goes on to elude to the death of the power of journalism. Push aside the notion that celebrity publicists have the power that Mr. Jarvis gives them credit for. It's the audience that matters, and now we have to the tools to fight back when we see something we don't agree with.

Does this mean that newspapers are a dying breed? Yes. And no. Their days are numbered, sure. But people still want their news, and some of them definitely prefer to see it in print. People from places like the "Big Apple" and places like Powell River still want their newspaper, same as always.

That's not likely to change for a good long time. So that's where ad dollars still go; plain and simple.

Update:: Jarvis has more on the subject today, including a link to a NYT story about the behind-the-scenes trading of the valuable commodity known as gossip.

Friday, April 07, 2006

celebrate RSS Appreciation Day, by...

Doing the same thing you do all the time.

Steve Rubel has come up with an idea to celebrate what he calls RSS Appreciation Day on May 1st.

I spotted the movement on Brand Dialogue, and it seems like a pretty good idea. The truth is, those of us who get our news, classified ads and blogging entertainment through RSS feeds are still considered early adopters, and we remain a major monority in the online world.

Hell, those of us who use Firefox are still an overwhelming minority. While we're on that subject, if you're viewing my blog with Internet Explorer, join the movement. You won't regret it. Follow the link; it's a fun way to make the switch. (Here's a bonus for current Firefox users: Rob's list of his favorite plug-ins)

I'm not sure about the rest of you, dear readers, but it seems that nary a week goes by that I don't try to verbalize to a friend or family member what an blog is; followed by an attempt at defining RSS. Blank stares, that's what I usually get. Some people humor me, but I know that barely any of what I've said has hit home. Often impatient, "Look it up on Wikipedia," I'll say. Same blank stare.

For the uninitiated: Here, once and for all is the aforementioned site's community-built definition of Really Simple Syndication. (Read the whole page if you're a feed newbie)

But on May 1st, I pledge to be infinitely patient, and take every bit as long as necessary to explain RSS to a complete virgin, or two. Pass it on, people. It's our responsibility to share our knowledge; to shed light on a piece of technology that could change someone's life. Or at least make it a bit easier.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

find a need and fill it.

Marketing never gets any easier than when you can identify a problem that a lot of people have, and then present a viable solution.

Forward-thinking Toyota has done just that. Not only is the Prius already an enviromentally friendly(er) hybrid, but it will now park itself for you. Well, at least in the UK and Japan it will. And I mean, IT WILL PARK ITSELF FOR YOU. Not beep, or call out steering/braking directions, but you control the brake, and nothing else.

The folks over at Engadget and Slashdot are reporting that the estimated $700 factory option will soon be available in North America.

For $700, anybody whose brow gets sweaty at the very thought of parallel parking would be crazy not to add this seemingly futuristic option. In fact, I'll venture even further and say that insurance companies should get on the bandwagon here: When you buy a hybrid-electric car that takes the guesswork and risk out of parking, there should be some serious incentives in the form of savings on your auto-plan.

But even without the insurance companies' help, these things will sell faster than you can say, "Go- go, Gadget Parking Machine!"

Watch a video of the crazy Japanese innovation in action here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

get your 'tell ten friends' schwag

As some have already noticed, I have added an extra link at It's to the official Tell Ten Friends Store, where you can order your favorite TTF schwag:

I'm gonna opt for the golf shirt myself, and maybe the matching white cotton hat. Huge thanks to for letting me build it all for free, impressing friends and family in the process.