March 29, 2005
Microsoft's voice in Siberia
Experts at Wharton say Blogging will be around for a long time. For those of you who want to read more than my excerpts below, you'll find it at Weblogs are here to stay, but where are they headed?
Wharton legal studies professor Dan Hunter puts blogging right up there with the printing press when it comes to sharing ideas and disseminating information. "This is not a fad," says Hunter. "It's the rise of amateur content, which is replacing the centralized, controlled content done by professionals."
"At its most basic level, it's a technology that is lowering the cost of publishing" and turning out to be "the next extension of the web," says Wharton legal studies professor Kevin Werbach. "Blogging is still in its early days. It's analogous to where the web was in 1995 and 1996. It's not clear how it will turn out."
What is clear is that opportunities for blogging abound. Companies can use bloggers to put a more human face on interactions with employees and customers; marketers can create buzz through blogs; and bloggers can act as fact checkers for the mainstream media. There are dozens of applications for blogs, Werbach notes, and many that haven't even been conceived yet.
"Blogging is really driven by interest and desires, not commercial activity," says Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader. "It's rare to see something take off like this when commercial prospects are so minimal. People just want to share ideas."
One of the big pitfalls that corporations may encounter is not understanding the culture of blogging and produce content that's so carefully vetted that no human voice can be discerned. Microsoft didn't make that mistake.
Robert Scoble, a Microsoft employee who operates Scobleizer, a blog about Microsoft products and developments, maintains one of the more interesting blogs around. Scoble, whose official title is "technical evangelist," sounds like many employees at large companies. He has his share of gripes, but will also defend his employer. The key is that he is balanced, says Brown. "This Microsoft employee has to maintain credibility by remaining transparent. By being negative once in a while, it's more credible when he's positive."
Scoble is so credible as a Microsoft blogger that he is viewed as the voice of the company across the globe. When Ted Demopoulos, principal of Demopoulos Associates, an information technology consulting company, was traveling in Russia recently, he stopped in Surgut, Siberia, where he was surprised to find Scoble fans. "I'm out in the middle of nowhere and they ask me about Scoble," says Demopoulos. "To them, Scoble is the voice of Microsoft."
Scoble represents the power of a blogger who is trusted by his readers to be candid and say what he really thinks. Even as they are downloading their thousandth patch for Microsoft's Explorer, people have a personal relationship with the Company because of Scoble. Microsoft couldn't buy that.
Abundance of the Long Tail
Excerpt from Millions of Markets of Dozens by Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite.
57% of Amazon’s sales come from books you can’t even buy at a Barnes and Noble (to be fair, there is some skepticism around this number voiced here). This runs totally counter to the traditional 80/20 rule in retailing – that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your inventory. In Amazon’s case, 57% of their book revenue comes from 0% of Barnes and Nobles inventory.
The most interesting, transformative businesses that have been built over the last decade and that will be built over the next one are going to operate in and make money from the long tail. Google, eBay, Amazon, Rhapsody, Netflix, iTunes. What do they all have in common? They all work the long tail and they’re all radically changing the dynamics of their more traditional businesses.
JotSpot is a company that is building a platform to make it easy and affordable to build long-tail software applications.
If you don't know what the Long Tail is read the seminal piece by Chris Anderson in Wired who explains how this totally new, counter-intuitive business model works in the age of digital abundance.
Here are Chris's three rules for the Long Tail
1. Make everything available.
2. Cut the price in half. Now lower it.
3. Help me find it.
The ability of millions of markets of dozens is why truly customer-centered companies will win.
March 28, 2005
Don't Get in Their Way
There's a lot we can learn about leadership from the military. James Cartwright, General of the USMC, Commander, USStratcom has a Command and Control blog (not accessible) and he wants the right answer from whoever has it. From The Daily Brief by Sgt Stryker- A lesson on how blogs can be used in business.
The metric is what the person has to contribute, not the person’s rank, age, or level of experience. If they have the answer, I want the answer. When I post a question on my blog, I expect the person with the answer to post back. I do not expect the person with the answer to run it through you, your OIC, the branch chief, the exec, the Division Chief and then get the garbled answer back before he or she posts it for me. The Napoleonic Code and Netcentric Collaboration cannot exist in the same space and time. It’s YOUR job to make sure I get my answers and then if they get it wrong or they could have got it righter, then you guide them toward a better way…but do not get in their way.via Jeff Jarvis at his Buzzmachine. Joe Katzman has more about Stratcom's 4-Star Blogger and its implications
Carnival of the Capitalists
Now that I'm writing about business and marketing- related as well as the Business of Life and Legacy Matters, I'm pleased to say that I've been included in this week's Carnival of the Capitalists with my post on Do Women Read Blogs. Many fine posts, well worth reading. They'll be some today and the rest on Wednesday.
Pop vs. Soda
Look at this map to see the great divides in the country.
March 26, 2005
Seeing What's Next
Prediction by Scott Anthony, co-author of "Seeing What's Next" (Harvard Business School Press) and partner in Innosight.
...20 years from now, there will be an entirely new industry based on blogs. Just a few years ago, he noted, when eBay was launched, it was selling novelty items, such as Pez candy dispensers. Today, it is a major retail force that even sells automobiles.
HT Roger Simon
March 25, 2005
Here Come Podcasts
Some of you are just learning about blogs and RSS feeds, so you may not know about podcasting.
Podcasting refers to the technology used to pull digital audio files from websites down to computers and portable devices like the Apple iPod hence the name.
Everything you need to know to get up to speed on what podcasting is all about can be found at Move Over Blogs: Here Come Podcasts. by Stephan Spencer.
Blogs Next Tipping Point?
Frank Baranko over at CBS Marketwatch says 8 million bloggers can't be wrong.
Some selected quotes from his article and the interview with Chuck Richard, vice president and lead analyst for Outsell, a California-based technology market research firm.
[T]hey have "a horrible name and are virtually unknown, but they are going to be big."
Behind the sizzle stirs the essential ingredients of the next tipping point in the information industry.
"Clearly, there is a huge element of vanity press, but that's not important. What is important is the business-to-business applications,"
Richard urges companies to "quickly embrace" the opportunity to engage customer's interests and attention. "The long-term odds are heavy to the upside," he wrote. "You're betting with house money and (companies ) can only lose by not playing."
"The result is a living, always-on example of the potential wisdom of crowds,"
Blogs offer "full transparency and instant dialogue on authenticity and accuracy."
Blogs already are being mined for early intelligence warnings. At least four firms track the online conversations as market research for clients: Intelliseek BlogPulse, Techdirt, Factiva Insight, and Bacon's Information. Paid subscription Web logs are not far away.
March 24, 2005
A good start
Do lawyers have a moral obligation to blog? Some people think so. One is Kevin O' Keefe
"[B]y blogging they can make a difference in other's lives and improve the image of lawyers and get some work at the same time."
As the joke says, It would be a good start.
March 23, 2005
Revolution of the Ants
If you've been sitting on the fence wondering if blogs were nothing but hoo-ha, the Daily Deal says social media, like blogging software and services, social networking and affinity group software are NOT the next bubble.
Says Andrew Anker, venture capitalist and vice president of business development at Six Apart, the company that owns Moveable Type and Typepad, "The more time I spent on this, the more I realized that blogging is something more important than people think it is."
"We view blogging as a logical next form of communication," says David Hornik, a partner at August Capital. "Just as e-mail and instant messaging have had significant interest, I believe blogging will have similar scope and that it will be adopted widely."
"I call this the revolution of the ants," says Mark Pincus, a serial entrepreneur who is co-founder and CEO of Tribe Networks Inc., a social networking company in San Francisco. "There are all these disenfranchised people out there who now have power and a voice."
UPDATE: I was distracted and forgot to credit Steve Rubel at Micropersuasion
March 21, 2005
Do Women Read Blogs
A lot has been made about the Blogads survey that showed 75% of the people reading blogs, albeit in a small, selected subset were men and the survey itself was not a scientific sample. The survey was not a scientific one.
- women aged 25-54 have much more on their minds today than five years ago and little time to hear commercial messages
- they are more stressed than men, or any other group
- they are more likely to feel distracted and "pulled" in different directions
- 74% spend more time thinking about others' needs, than their own
- 59% rarely or never read a newspaper; 56% said the same for magazines
It seems as if they trust their family and friends (26%) just about as much as they trust experts (27%)
“What the survey makes very clear is that women ages 25 to 54 are ‘multi-minding’ today – they’re constantly physically and mentally juggling those multiple facets of their complex lives,” maintains Kelley Skoloda, Director of Ketchum’s Global Brand Marketing Practice.
Yet they shop online more than men (52%) and while they don't buy as many big ticket items, look to see the volume and variety of what they buy online to increase as they look to save time using the Internet as their vehicle of choice.
Sounds like a natural way to market to these women is through blogs that connect women to each other, that connect family and friends in a personal web of trust, that encourage conversations and aren't focused on just selling but sharing and support.
These are just some of the blogs written by women that I read on a regular basis.
Dooce.and Halley's Comment and Testosterhome and Seedlings & Sprouts and My Mom's Blog, The Dawn Patrol and The Open Book and Time Goes By and The Anchoress and La Shawn Barber and Sandee and The Sheila Variations
Some are married, some parents, others single; some religious, others not, one fighting cancer, one the oldest blogger on the Internet, others young, some political, others not. What they have in common is a distinctive voice that brings me back wanting to read more, wanting to find out what they are thinking about, wanting to learn what happened next. We learn from the experiences of our friends and increasingly from the experiences of other bloggers we likely have never met.
My personal expert in marketing to women online and she should be yours is Yvonne DiVita at Lipsticking. Listen in while she interviews Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing and they talk about women reading blogs (many more than you think), and some great tips for businesses to attract more women and not just through blogs.
Bigger than the New York Times
Collectively, more people read blogs hosted on Blogspot than the New York Times, more people read blogs hosted on Xanga than the New York Times. Rick Bruner over at Business Blog Consulting ferreted out this information and also points to revealing charts like the one below. Add to Blogspot, Xanga and Six Apart who created Moveable Type and Typepad and you can begin to sense how big the blogosphere is.
In one glance you can see the spiral down of the mainstream media and the spiral up of the blogosphere. To stay on top of Corporate Blogs, the NewPR/Wiki offers a list that is continually updated.
Barry Diller is going to buy Ask Jeeves including its newest acquisition Bloglines for $1.85 billion.
Barry Diller's company, IAC/Interactive Corp, also owns City Search, Ticketmaster and Match.com.
Yahoo is buying Flickr which you wouldn't know about if you weren't reading blogs
Hat tips to Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion who stays on top of what's happening and tells us in few words than most
March 20, 2005
Guide to the National Media
This is a passalong. Nobody knows who wrote it, but it's good enough to passalong to those of you who didn't get the email.
1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like the statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
March 18, 2005
Fascinating New Stats from Tom Peters
Fascinating stats over at Tom Peters today that he brought back from London
Fastest growing (and underserved) demographic ... single-person households. In cities like Stockholm and London, the soloists now comprise over 60% of all households!
Factoid, in re New World Order: In England more people are employed by Indian restaurants than in steelmaking, coal mining, and ship building combined!
Males: If we retire at 60, we live to 80. (Invest in those IRAs!) If we retire at 65, we live to 70 ... forget about "financial planning." (This isn't the first time I've seen this troublesome stat.)
Divorces are coming late, about age 45 to 50, when she realizes she's saddled with the old sod for another 2 decades. M-F differences: When a woman gets married, she puts on weight, picks up her drinking, and is depressed; that's all reversed upon divorce. When a man gets married, his weight stabilizes, his boozing lets up, and he's happy—upon divorce, all that's reversed. (Yeow.)
March 16, 2005
Men, good hunters and scouts, were the first to adopt computers and venture onto the World Wide Web. They still dominate the blogosphere when it comes to politics and technology as the Blog Ads survey revealed. Just as it took a few years for women to overtake men in terms of using the Internet, it will likely take a few years until the prominent bloggers are just as likely to be women as men. And then who knows what it will look like. Here's one peek into the future. Return of the She-Blogger
HT American Digest When Women Rule the Blogs.
Did Gallup Miss the Point?
Andy Haven over at Legal Marketing says Gallup misses the point.
The fact that ONLY 4.4 million people a day, and ONLY 22 million people a month are getting news and information from blogs -- a nascent medium effectively run by individuals with (generally) no media training, no editorial support staff, no marketing budget and no corporate sponsorships -- is startling. But not because it's a low number.
Gallup can jump on the bandwagon of everybody else that doesn't get it. Blogs aren't about one small group of people talking AT everyone else, they are about many, many groups of people talking WITH each other. By that standard, they have already eclipsed many other communications media in terms of effectiveness and breadth of impact.
Many lawyers are shy and cringe at the idea of selling or marketing. John Jantsch says
[G]et over it, but blogs are an absolutely perfect tool for the selling shy. The very nature of blogging is educational. For this reason a blog is just a natural fit for anyone providing professional services. Blogs allow you to build a library of educational styled tips, tactics resources and expertise that, over time, can effectively introduce your services to a target market in the most professional manner.
With blogs, those lawyers can do what they do best, read and write - and market their expertise at the same time.
March 15, 2005
Would you believe that the Boston Globe has a job blog? Well it does and it's pretty good. Part of Bostonworks - "jobs, events and information from the Boston Globe, the job blog pulls together good information from around the Globe - inside too - all in all, a welcome respite for those seeking jobs on its online listings.
It's a very good example of how a mainline media company can use blogs to its advantage, providing information to the HR people who list the jobs. Information I haven't found anywhere else includes:
A new group plan that offers 'free agent' workers affordable health benefits. The National Health Access plan also covers part-time, temporary, seasonal and contract workers and is the brainchild of 60 Fortune 500 companies that joined forces to attract insurers.
Come Again? The AARP has launched an online job bank designed to link workers 50 and older with a group of pre-selected employers.
Work spouses. a new phenomenon that makes a lot of sense.
But in our own casual, platonic way, we became a couple: I didn’t have to love, honor, or obey—I merely vowed to hang out with her at ?re drills. We ate lunch together, mocked coworkers together, and shared the few genuine feelings that didn’t get soaked with cynicism and sink to the bottom of our souls forever. She kept me from sending hotheaded e-mails I might later regret. “Step away from the keyboard!” she would tell me. I kept her entertained. For ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day, Amy was my work wife. I was her day husband.
Fortune 500's who blog
Jeremy Enright has compiled a list of the Fortune 500 companies who are blogging -externally, internally or in management. While he can't confirm it, he suspects that between 10-20% are using blogs in some way.
- Sun Microsystems
- Time Warner
- Dell, Inc.
- Wells Fargo
- Merril Lynch
- Disney (hugely, internally)
- Toys R Us
- Texas Instruments
- Apple Computer
- Radio Shack
- New York Times
March 14, 2005
Co-creating with consumers
Sometimes reading blogs is like listening to two very smart people talk. More from Dick Edelman
I had an opportunity to visit on the phone with Chris Charron of Forrester Research. We were discussing the opportunity for public relations in a world of blogs, fragmentation of the media business and lack of trust in institutions. He put forward the concept of Social Computing, in which consumers take signals from their peers. Trust is established by dialogue, intelligent up-selling and respect for consumers' personal information. He posits that in a world where consumers can switch easily among brands, the key source of competitive advantage is ease of experience, not simply features or price points. He suggests further that every consumer touch point, from relevant customer service to relevant and intelligent marketing is critical to successful positioning.
I asked him specifically about my notion of consumers co-creating brands with their corporate owners, with input to product development and shared responsibility for success. He thought this was absolutely right. Companies need to get over their fear of lack of control, to tap into the consumer passion and thereby drive the marketing process. The early advisory to the connectors, the brand loyalists who can drive the brand forward, will allow them to spread the word in a credible fashion. This is especially useful in a crisis scenario, where traditional third parties such as academics and doctors, can be supplemented by average people who use the product. Note the power of the testimony of VIOXX users at last week's FDA hearings on the safety of arthritis medications (I want my VIOXX back, was the common refrain).
Personal Web of Trust
As a result on the Internet, the 'Average Person Like Me' now ranks as high as academics and physicians as a trusted source of information about a company. This was the finding of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2005 - an annual study of 1500 opinion leaders in eight countries.
Kevin quotes Dick Edelman, president of the only independent PR firm.
Nearly 60% of Americans and a comparable percentage of Brazilians, Brits, Canadians, Chinese, French, Germans and Japanese look to their peers for knowledge and advice, up from 20% only two years ago. What's going on here? Part of this trend must be attributed to lack of trust in traditional figures of authority and institutions, such as business, government and the media. Some of this trust void is being filled by alternative institutions such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). But it is also manifested in a greater reliance on those close to you, who form a personal web of trust that supplements what you read, see or hear in the media, or through official company channels and in advertising.
The Internet has made it easy to reach out to your friends, family and colleagues at work. But it has also allows those with similar interests anywhere in the world to link up in chat rooms. This type of horizontal communication with like minded souls is powerful.
This study on trust has implications far beyond lawyers. Companies who sponsor online communities of people in like circumstances, like people at different stages of their lives, will stand to garner considerable benefits. Not only will they learn what people are concerned about, what their issues and problems are, they will be able to co-create with their customers and clients better products and services.
Richard Edelman concludes:
Business should embrace the "paradox of transparency" (term coined by Shell public affairs executives). Rather than hold back knowledge of a product's benefits and risks, be open with your stakeholders, engage them in conversation and allow them to contribute to the solution. Sure, there is risk of competitive response but is that worse than the consumer outcry that can undermine the eventual acceptance of a product concept? The days of buying consumer approval simply through mass advertising are over. Today the runway for successful brand take off is effective public relations, which provides the strong base of credibility on which advertising can build. The average person like me is demanding a seat at the table, the true democratization of the purchasing process. Smart companies will recognize that ceding control is a central aspect in earning trust.
So newspapers are looking for ways to end the Free Ride Online reports Katharine Seelye in the New York Times. At the same time their online ads are bring them record revenues, a 45% increase in 2004 over 2003.
Seems to me that putting all their archives behind a pay wall further diminishes their influence at the same time it increases the long tail for the blogs who quote liberally from daily newspapers.
Why not charge for the fresh stuff and give away the stale stuff asks Doc Searls. Great and good reporters for newspapers are not being given the credit they deserve when you can no longer find their articles on Google. Doc Searls again on Suitwatch
On the whole, blogs are highly compliant with the ethics of the periodicals section, the ethics of the stacks, the ethics of sourcing and archiving, the ethics of giving credit where due.
The bottom line: In the age of the Web, the practice of charging for access to digital archives is a colossal anachronism. It's time for the New York Times and the other papers to step forward, join the real world and correct the problem. Expose the archives. Give them permanent URLs. Let in the bots. Let their writers and their reputations accept the credit they are constantly given and truly deserve. In other words, stop the printwash.
Blogad survey and Gallup poll
Blogging as a medium is still in its infancy. So just who reads blogs. Henry Copeland who runs blogads conducted his second survey by mailing notices to the top 100 bloggers who spread the word.
Those who responded are self-selected and more political than most Americans. Democrats comprised 39.3% of those who responded; Republicans were 27.3% and Independents were 27.3%.
What Copeland found most interesting was just how many qualified as opinion-makers, having satisfied the qualifications for "influential" set by Roper ASW to identify those 10% who set the agenda and steer the opinions of the other 90%. Just what percentage of blog readers qualify as influentials awaits further analysis;
The survey results are quite interesting, but remember these are self-selected responders from a particular subset.
- 75% are over 30
- 75% are men
- One reader in five is a blogger
- 43% have household income over $90k
- Education is the most represented profession (14%); second is computers, software and tech at 10.5%; lawyers, third at 7.1%.
- 50% (the highest for any media) rank blogs tops in usefulness for news and opinion
What I found most interesting is WHY people read blogs.
- 75.3% for news they can't read elsewhere
- 74.6% for a better perspective
- 60.6% for more honesty
- 59.8% for faster news
- 46.7% for more personality
So far, we see a picture of an actively involved, upscale, intelligent audience. Readers of blogs also read Atlantic Monthly, the Economist, the New Yorker, National Geographic, the Nation, National Review, Newsweek and the Wall St Journal.
Now let's take a look at what the Gallup Organization found in its new survey on blogging, Bloggers Not Yet in the Big Leagues." Alas, the survey results are behind a paid subscription, but the Mystery Pollster tells us a lot. First he quotes from Gallup's introduction:
Relatively few Americans are generally familiar with the phenomenon of blogging...Three-quarters of the U.S. public uses the Internet at work, school, or home, but only one in four Americans are either very familiar or somewhat familiar with blogs...More to the point, fewer than one in six Americans (15%) read blogs regularly (at least a few times a month). Just 12% of Americans read blogs dealing specifically with politics this often.
Mystery Pollster then observes:
No, the collective reach of blogs is nowhere near that of television or print media, but focusing on the relatively small percentages misses the rapidly growing influence of the blog readership in absolute terms. The 12% that say they read political blogs at least a few times a month amount to roughly 26 million Americans. That may not make blogs a "dominant" news source, but one American in ten ads up to a lot of influence.
The most remarkable finding is the pattern we would expect in blog readership by age that gets buried near the end of the report. According to Gallup, monthly readership of all blogs (not just political) is 15% overall, but much greater among younger Americans...The age gap in blog reading is particularly noteworthy because it is a complete reversal of the typical age pattern gap for news consumption.
Mickey Kaus points out, "If 12% of Americans really read political blogs, as Gallup reports, that's not a small number. It's an astonishingly large number."
One commenter pointed out that the real lede was buried.
(a) blogs are this influential while still reaching such a small public (b) blog readership and participation are still growing at explosive rates. My conclusion is, we're just at the beginning.
I agree that we are just at the beginning. We've not yet seen the impact of blogging tools on smaller online communities. People going through traumatic life changes increasingly turn to the Internet as their primary source of information. As communities begin to form around life changes, people can directly support and be supported by people who have been through the same life and have a lot of practical advice and tips to share. I also believe that as people will increasingly depend on their "trusted bloggers" to filter from the ongoing information wave, the important information they care about.
March 11, 2005
Blog or Die
Robert Scobel is one of the most famous bloggers in the country, bringing a human face to Microsoft and becoming arguably the second most famous Microsoft employee after Bill Gates.
He and Shel Israel are collaborating on a business blogging book called The Red Couch, though I like the title of the first chapter he has put up on the net for review far better, Blog or Die. If only I could write as well or as compellingly. Here are some excerpts.
Blogging is one of those “somethings.” It is vital and strategic to the future of business. Some who ignore this fact will face the same fate as the village blacksmith of the last century.
How can this communications mechanism be so damned important? Five years ago, it was dismissed as the purview of lonely diarists, the politically obsessed or the technologically zealous. Today, blogging has become the most rapidly adopted technology in history. Today, in February 2005, 40,000 new blogs will start. By the time you read this book, that number is likely to be much higher. More than 10 percent of all Americans read blogs, an increase of 60 percent in 12 months, according to Pew Research.
[B]logging is necessary. It is necessary because it gives companies and constituencies direct interaction between each other. It is necessary because the other communications tools—press releases, ads, banners, websites, brochures, PowerPoint presentations are all irreparably broken. People neither believe nor trust the slickness of corporate materials and spokespeople.
The result is blogging has become the best way for your company to get attention, promote product adoption, get press coverage and build loyal customer bases. Businesses are made smarter by receiving the kind of direct, candid feedback that focus groups and market research surveys rarely succeed in providing. Blogging is the best way to listen to what the market is saying about you. Letting employees blogs is a superior way to show you trust them.
To not blog today can find you facing the same fate as the village blacksmith of the last century. Ask a leading bike lock manufacturer who ignored posting on how his product could be picked, or a Silicon Valley computer games maker who didn’t pay attention to posted complaints of employee abuse or Dan Rather who stuck to his guns not realizing they were pointed at him.
Blogs have come to prominence just when so much else has failed. Today, they are the best way to
make your company more profitable, grow faster, or get your product more rapidly adopted. They are a kinder, gentler, more polite and therefore more effective way to reach people who matter to your company.
March 10, 2005
Legal blogbot reads WSJ
This is cool - the first blog avatar I've seen. Andy Havens at legalmarketing reprises the Wall Street Journal article saying the blog as business tool has arrived. He asks in his post and via his little friend he calls the Blogbot - Will law firm marketing departments listen?
It's about the best summary of why lawyers should use blogs that I've seen.
• Name recognition at a greatly reduced price
• RSS feeds don't get blocked by spam-guard like some email newsletters
• Search result increases can yield many more visitors in a span of months
• Content establishes reputation
• Comments allow for interactivity, which is a key "stickiness" factor for repeat viewers
• Authentic voice is more attractive than "PR-Speak" to many customers
Legal services are a perfect match for blogs -- the law is content-heavy. It's not like you're selling leg-warmers here, people. You've got lots to say, and your public wants to hear it. Don't hide your light under a bushel basket. Publish it on a blog.It's the Wall Street Journal, people. How much more mainstream do we need to get before you'll wake up and smell the bacon?
Hat tip The Common Scold
UPDATE: The blogbot has retired to the Bahamas. You couldn't turn off and too many people found it annoying. Hey, I thought it was fun, but I guess it's sort of like those animated toys that sing. By third time you've heard 'raindrops keep falling on my head', you're ready to scream at the next person who walks by
Blogs for managing projects
Tim Buckett has a great post that I just came across via the non-billable hour, changing professional practice one idea at a time. Tim writes about 10 ways to use blogs for managing projects. internally in any organization.
- replacing paper
- building issue logs
- capturing information snippets
- publicising the project progress
- reducing email overload
- capturing requirements
- circulating screenshots
- keeping team members up-to-date
It all makes sense especially when you remember that blogs started with project teams developing software and they had a lot to keep track of.
March 7, 2005
Okay, so they don't let women drive or vote, but the Saudis do allow women to control their own money. Still I was gobsmacked to learn that Banque Saudi Farsi is breaking all tradition to advertise on TV and in print. their "Ladies Banking"
"You have your dreams. You have your ambitions," a voice-over says in Arabic. "You are not alone," it continues. "With you is Banque Saudi Fransi."
A similar print ad uses a simple image of a woman silhouetted against a fiery sky. Jean-Francois Benazet, a marketing manager with the bank, said Saudi women "need to know the bank will be a friend and help them through life stages."
As the account executive said, "If you can show women, you will look especially at their needs, you can do a lot of business."
Over 50 -Look to life stage, not age
"Age isn't a useful indicator anymore, life stage is, " says Matt Thornhill, who runs The Boomer Project, a research and consulting company, based in Richmond, VA.
For a fascinating look at how life stage not age works in marketing, take a look at Legacy Account. This ad was tested against a age-based, factual ad by the Boomer Project. No surprise that this ad worked far better not just for boomers but for younger consumers as well. The conclusion: "To attract more boomers, focus on life-stage, not age. Use emotionally-meaningful concepts, pictures and words. And communicate your facts wrapped in a story"
More gleanings from Thornhill by Jennifer Wells who wonders - is anybody marketing to me?
- A third have survived a major illness.
- A third have changed their diet due to a medical condition.
- They will outspend younger adults by $1 trillion (U.S.) annually by the year 2010.
- They are not brand loyal.
- They crave new experiences. They are not set in their ways.
- When the time comes, they want to "age in place" — none of that moving-to-Florida business.
- They grade marketers at a "Low D" in attempts to market to boomers.
- They see themselves as 12 years younger than they are.
- They cleave to the idea of life-long learning.
- Retirement? Not in the cards.
As for the boomer women
- She wants to give back and live richly, and that doesn't mean money. It means experience.
- She's becoming more masculine. Now that the kids are out of the house, carpentry or a new career beckons.
Best example of a company that gets it. Eileen Fisher, my favorite designer incidentally, who believes 'Every Body is Beautiful'. Fortune calls her "The Nurturer" and one of its Best Bosses. Fisher is keyed into boomers: "I think I give people the freedom to find themselves, to find their own path, to find their own way there."
It works! Eileen Fisher revenues are up 12% to $144 million at the same time overall sales for women's apparel have gone down 6%. Her retail turnover of employees is 19% compared to the industry average of 50.7%. She has great benefits for her employees and is only one of 3 US companies to comply with a strict set of workplace standards administered by the non-profit and international watchdog group called Social Accountability International according to Fortune.
March 6, 2005
Your vital information is their commodity
How do you like the idea that so many companies, like Choicepoint, treat your most important information like a commodity? Creepy, isn't it. Evan Hendrick's piece in the Washington Post, When Your Identity is Their Commodity is must-reading for financial services companies.
Maybe you're not one of the 145,000 people whose identities were sold to bogus companies by Choicepoint or the 1.2 million federal employees whose credit data was lost by the Bank of America, but that doesn't mean you're not concerned about identity theft. Ten million people were affected by some form of identity theft in 2003 according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Hendrick writes that a Tower Group report in 2001 or 2003 said that the incidence of identity theft was such a small fraction of transactions that most financial service companies could not justify the extra expense of preventing it.
This is shameful and stupid. Financial service companies are dealing today in a commodity business. Can't any of them see, that providing privacy proactive policies and services can be a distinct competitive advantage? People would flock to any bank that offered them.
Just what are financial services companies doing to insure their customers that their most important and confidential information will not be bought or sold? Not much from what I can see.
March 5, 2005
If you like jazz, even if you don't, be prepared for an amazing two minutes and watch in wonder. Michael Levy's Giant Steps
March 4, 2005
The New Mind of the Market
People 40 and over number 130 million. People 18-39 number 85 million. No one does a better job of explaining how middle age and older people are changing the mind of the market and in many ways making traditional marketing obsolete than David Wolfe, co-author of Ageless Market, one of my recommended books over there on the right.
What makes him such a fascinating read is the way in which he weaves brain science and psychology, the foundation of his thinking, into his observations of the market and the practice of marketing.
Over the past month, Wolfe has detailed the 8 ways an aging population is changing the mind of the market or what some would call the collective unconscious. It's the best way to understand quickly what tectonic changes we will be seeing as the marketers are forced to deal with the new mind of the market. I'm going to summarize them below with links to each post.
#1 They are more realistic and practical. The familiar is often more attention getting than 'What was that all about' novelty.
#2 Perceptions are more dependent on context. Researchers have found that older people are more difficult to predict because contextual influences are infinite in number. Older people appreciate ambiguity and nuance. They trust authorities less and their own experience more.
#3 Detached, more individuated. The true self only emerges with the passing of 'youthhood'.
Individualized attention becomes more critical to establishing and preserving loyalty.
Here I have to put in one of my favorite quotes, by, of all people, Agatha Christie
As life goes on it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day. This is sometimes disconcerting for those around you, but a great relief to the person concerned.
#4 Increased resistance to persuasion. Older people are less brand loyal according to Roper surveys. Price doesn't matter as much as qualitative superiority in both product and customer experience. More experienced, they are savvier consumers.
#5 Older consumers are more emotional, intuitive in decision-making. With greater life experience comes more 'thinking without thinking', the very phenomenon Malcolm Gladwell explores in his new book, Blink.
#6 Older consumers more often focus on the customer experience than the product. Desires are less materialistic, more experiential with pleasure sought in little things. It's not the getting, influencing, possessing and controlling that moves older people, it's the desire to find what's important, what one's life is all about, what Victor Frankl wrote about as Man's Search for Meaning. Oftentimes it is the unlived parts of one's life that demands attention in middle age. Discovery of meaning comes through new experiences, often through travel or a change in focus or career.
The new 20 years in mid-life allows the empty nester to seek the adventure and change that she wants.
Othertimes, it's a traumatic event in one's life that begins a reassessment. By age 54, most women (53%) have suffered a trauma within the prior 12 months having to do with family, job or personal health according to the General Social Survey.
#7 More introspective. More self-informed, more trust in self. Self-Realization changes what it takes to succeed in marketing. To be all that we can be, to fulfill our highest potential, to become self-actualized in the words of Abraham Maslow, is the call of the second half of life. It's not an easy path, it can take years of introspection. Many chose not to take it, but many more, more than ever in history are choosing it.
#8 More authentic Humility over hubris, less tolerant of puffery, prefer reality to unrealistic idealism. By middle age, we know we will never have the perfect body, the perfect hair, the ideal job or spouse, and it doesn't much matter anymore. The urge to strut is replaced by the urge to be real, to deal with what we have in the best way we can. Idealism is OUT, Realism is IN
Boomers invented Cool and won't let it go
Even Down Under, smart people wonder why marketers are obsessed with the 18-24 year old demographic. Especially when Australian baby boomers hold more than two-fifths of Australia's wealth. It's called "Turning silver into gold."
Via What Retirement which keeps the best tabs on what boomers are thinking about retirement and says very nice things about our blogs - great and inspiring, experienced and wizened are the adjectives used.
Why is it marketers split the youth market into dozens of segments, yet turn around and treat millions of mature consumers as one?...... This is no longer one single market that can be summarized by a single term. Today’s 50-year-olds are completely different from any other generation of 50-year-olds.
Worse still, marketers frequently make the mistake of lumping in the baby boomers with seniors in their marketing campaigns.
We’re the product of the 60s. We invented cool, and we won’t let it go. What retailers have to understand is that the boomers are never going to be old in their own mind; they are always going to think of themselves as cool.” Recent surveys suggest that three in four over-50s feel no more than 75 percent of their chronological age.....
Philip Putnam, a creative director at Desire, points out that marketing to the over-50s will be recognized as a key industry trend for the first decade of the 21st century. The potential returns “from tapping into the wealthiest generation in the world” are clearly demonstrated in the US where dedicated 50+ marketing (e.g., Nordstrom, Harley Davidson) has been underway for a decade.
Putnam is defensive of an agency’s role in marketing to this generation, arguing that change must come from the source. “Before the advertising community considers how to communicate with older audiences, it either needs something to sell to them, or a client brief that specifies over-50s as a new targeting opportunity.”
Take financial services as another example.....So is it surprising that without the development of desirable and relevant financial products and services, the over-50s don’t change their bank accounts or investment options? Roberts suggests that the leaders of our banks, supermarkets and drug companies would gain a huge competitive advantage by adding disruptive innovations to their local offers and models.
So who's developing the best products in the financial services arena? Fidelity comes first to mind with its Retirement Income Advantage. They help you plan, invest and manage retirement income with good questions to ask yourself and calculators to help. And it's tag line, "What did you want to do before you started doing what you're doing? speaks to most boomers who see retirement as a chance to do what they wanted to do in the first place.
Don't miss the Netrospective created for Yahoo's 10th birthday. 10 years, 100 moments of the Web,1 page.
March 2, 2005
WSJ on blogs
So sayeth the Wall Street Journal today in "Blogs Keep Internet Customers Coming Back."
The blog as business tool has arrived
Blogs with character are seen as more effective than some more traditional online-marketing strategies, such as static, brochurelike Web sites and electronic newsletters that may get blocked by spam filters.
Several examples tell the story. GreenCine Daily is a blog that sparked a 20-old rise in hits to the Greencine website, an online DVD-rental company. In The Bovine Bugle, read about the daily life at Homars Farm, an organic dairy farm that supplies milk to yoghurt maker Stonyfield Farms, just one of five blogs that Stonyfield features.
Owner Jonathan Gates writes about breaking ice in the heifers' drinking-water tanks, cows giving birth and vaccinating calves, and posts pictures to go with his reports.
"He doesn't even talk about Stoneyfield, and I couldn't care less if he does," says CEO Gary Hirshberg, who decided to launch several blogs after getting involved with Howard Dean's presidential campaign last year and seeing how effectively they built relationships and loyalty.
"Blogging is one of a wide range of ways that we can connect with people [and] strengthen what I call our handshake with the consumer," he says, while supporting longtime Stoneyfield causes like organic and family farming, environmentalism and good nutrition.
Blogging is one trend and technology tool that may benefit small businesses most.
- search engines love them.
- small business owners can provide advice and establish reputations as authorities in their own fields.
- personality is a plus
HBR: blogs a breakthrough idea for 2005
More influential business thinkers are seeing how blogs have become a channel to converse with, influence and be influenced by their customers.
Here's the Harvard Business Review.
Bloggers are driven by a desire to share their ideas and opinions with anyone who cares to tune in. That enhances their credibility, making them more attractive to marketers....
Corporate marketers must deal with bloggers differently from the way they deal with the traditional media. First, they must realize that the blogosphere is not just a place in which to advertise; it is a medium in which to participate.
Marketers can join the conversation on influential blogs related to their products or companies ---or, even better, they can become bloggers in their own right by hosting blogs for customers.
Most radically, they can host independent bloggers on their Web sites, essentially trading exposure for reach and credibility...
Blogs are the most conversational of all the forms of media and marketers can't afford to be left out of the talk.
March 1, 2005
E*Trade is about to begin a pilot program with a new security device to protect its customer accounts against unauthorized use and identity theft.
And it's the SAME device, we will be using with Protected E-Vaults.
BEST OF ALL, it's something that customers control. It's called an RSASecurID®. A small digital device that fits on a keychain that spins a new 6 digit number at random every sixty seconds, it provides a second layer of authentication in addition to a password. It's called two-factor authentication.
Just as a ATM machine requires a card and a password to access an account or to get cash, an RSASecurID® requires you to enter a password and the six digit number that currently appears on the screen.
RSA Security is the foremost security company in the country. RSA SecurID technology is already used by more that 15 million employees of businesses worldwide. Some even rumor that RSA SecurIDs are used by the CIA, and maybe even the President.