Friday, January 30, 2009

Intentional annoyance

I'm on the fence on this one. It's intended to be annoying and it works. Really works. It's a fine balance from being annoyed or feeling empathy and relating to the people in the ad being annoyed.

It's a creative and different take on selling coffee, but are people who drink Folgers the type that enjoy this sort of creativity? I always thought they were the conservative, older and no frills people.

Animal Planet? More like ESPN or TVG

I was flipping through this week's Entertainment Weekly when I came across a new reality program called Jockeys on Animal Planet. Huh?

I watch a ton programming on Animal Planet from It's Me or the Dog, Whale Wars, and Animal Cops. Shows about animals for people who love animals and nature. Even the advertising is geared and targeted toward animal lovers IMHO.

So this new show befuddles me. Most people who love (not just kinda like) animals don't view horse racing as a sport they support. Now everyone's entitled to and has the right to watch anything they want, but if you're trying to get good ratings so you can get great ad rates, why would you air this show on Animal Planet.

The show would make more sense for ESPN or TVG. What sort of advertisers are they going to get for this show? I'll DVR one episode to find out, but there's a reason why KFC doesn't advertise on Animal Planet.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Find a Market, Exploit It.

It appears the vice-based businesses are recession proof. The Seattle Mist, of the recently formed Lingerie Football League, have sold nearly 4,000 season tickets and games don't even begin until September 2009. How do you pull something like this off?

It probably sounded like a crazy idea at the time when the city of Kent decided to build an arena in Kent, but boy, did they know their market and their niche. First, they lured the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team away from the city of Seattle and the boobs running Key Arena. Then they secured a naming sponsor: ShoWare Center.

And then last October, when the Seattle Mist announced their new franchise they made ShoWare Center their home field. Hockey+Lingerie Football+Kent=$$$.

Meanwhile, Key Arena no longer has an NBA team and concerts bypass it in favor of the Tacoma Dome or Comcast Center.

The scrappy outlying cities have done a much better job of knowing their local market, finding products that speak to that market, and convinced promoters of the same. It would seem like it's product marketing 101 and so simple, but in the end you have to deliver. I believe that's why the smaller cities are winning. Less bureaucracy, more guerrilla.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When a plan comes together

I'll date myself by saying this, but remember the A-Team? And remember when Hannibal always said, "I love it when a plan comes together" even it wasn't the original plan?

Well get this. According to a story on, an analyst is predicting that Netflix will gain 1 million new subscribers in 2009 thanks to the Xbox 360. The main reason being that Xbox 360 can now stream a select library of titles instantly instead of having to wait for DVDs to get exchanged via postal mail.

I've tried the service and it works great. I wish there were HD offerings, but it's included in my regular Netflix monthly subscription so I can't complain.

Now I wonder if Netflix was just that smart and they knew this would build their online business to this degree? The gain on the Microsoft side won't be as big because the 1 million new Netflix sbuscribers will mostly come from the rolls of the exiting Xbox Live Gold members.

It seems like an obvious business decision by Netflix and doesn't seem that brilliant, but they did it and pulled it off. How often do we in the business talk about ideas and then talk some more until someone else "stole" the idea. I could've done that. But I didn't.

It's new, but old school rules still apply

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I was reading an article on self publishing in the New York Times and this quote from a book buyer in Denver reminded me about amateur Web publishers: “People think that just because they’ve written something, there’s a market for it. It’s not true.”

It happened in the first wave of the Web and it's still happening today in Web 2.0. Setup a Twitter account and my customers will flock to us and follow us. Start a blog and parlay all the visitors into ad revenue. They all forget the fundamentals of choosing a market segment and researching that market to see if there's enough of one to make a business out of it that you expect.

While you need new strategies for Web 2.0, new media or social media, you have to start off with old school fundamentals.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kindle 2.0

Rumors are flying that an Amazon press conference scheduled for Feb. 9 at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York is the official launch of the Kindle 2. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is slated to be at the event.

If it comes with new features such as longer batter life and a lower cost, I may just bite. Here's why:
  1. Portability. The size is smaller than a regular book and convenient to carry around.
  2. Instant Access. My immediate gratification need to want a book in a few minutes is satisfied. And having access to a large library is nice too.
  3. Clutter reduction. Instead of having books everywhere cluttering up my house, I'll just have this little white piece of plastic.
  4. Environmentally Friendly. Sure the plastic and electronic components may be toxic to produce and dispose, but over the life of it there will be less paper used and less carbon emitted from not transporting three to five pound books.
And because it's just cool.

Just do it already

Apparently 6.5 million Americans aren't ready to make the switch to all digital broadcasts of television signals. Who are these people? Don't get me wrong. I don't want to discriminate against people who can't because of real economic reasons, but how many people are really not ready for economic reasons?

I tried Googling "psychology+deadlines" to find out if there were any studies on human behavior when presented with deadlines. I wanted to know if people tend to put off things until the last minute when presented with a deadline. Anecdotally, I think there's some truth to that, but I couldn't find any scientific studies on it.

When I was working in the consumer electronics industry I had a boss who told me about research that showed socioeconomic assumptions about HDTV purchases are often wrong. People from traditionally low income households purchase high-end electronics because it's often the only entertainment form they can afford. And thanks to zero interest, pay in two year offers, most people can get a decent HDTV.

That's my long rationale for not extending the DTV conversion beyond what congress already caved to a few days ago. I think the government underestimates how many people will convert, once their signals go dark . . . the day before the Superbowl. By the way, the original conversion date was purposely set for after the Superbowl because of pressure from the NFL.

One last thing, maybe those 6.5 million don't really watch all that much TV and won't even miss it.
Monday, January 26, 2009

Corporate Social Media Management

The more mainstream social media becomes, the more people start coming out of the woodworks who want to use it for corporate purposes or what they interpret as corporate uses. Whether or not they actually know what the purpose of social media is can be another story.

When social media is used for personal use, it's a relatively easy proposition: Create a username, password and agree to the 20-page terms and conditions. That's it. You're responsible for yourself and only yourself.

But when it comes to corporate use of social media, it involves a lot more. A lot more in terms of strategy, policies, guidelines, people, accountability, branding, committees . . . I'm getting a headache again just thinking about it.

Now if you have a team of social media mavens or you're working at a new media firm, it's not that daunting a task. But what if you're the only one in the company or in the minority who actually know what social media is and can use it effectively?

I don't have the full answer to that, but I do have my safety net: CONTROLS. I'm referring to the tools that most social media sites either come with or are available via third parties. Take blogs for example. I can use WordPress and setup a master account, several blogs and several levels of publishing rights, including workflows.

And when it comes to Twitter, I have sites such as Brightkit or EasyTweets to create the same set of controls. By having these management controls it also sets up a safety net or buddy system of sorts in case one person gets hit by a bus.

Not the perfect solution, but at least until more people in the company are up to speed and learn the best ways to consistently use social media, you can monitor how staff are using it. And more importantly you're able to ensure your brand isn't harmed in the process.

It's "social" media so it's OK if big brother is watching.
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Funding? We don't need no stinkin' funding.

First it was all about launching the next Microsoft from your garage. Then, it was all about getting venture capital money, getting cool digs and launching the next Amazon or eBay. Now it's about sitting in your living room, watching TV and launching the next Facebook.

You don't need geeky developers. You don't need VC money. You just need access to the Internet, a browser and you're on your way. You do need to know about mashups though.

With Websites (or Web services) such as Ning, MovableType, or Yahoo! Pipes you're well on your way to building a social networking, commerce, online marketing, advertising portal . . . well, you get the idea.

For example, for my project of the month, I'm going to use Ning to create a Costco social network where people can share great finds, review products and talk about anything and everything Costco. Then I'm going to use Facebook to market the site starting with the people I know.

Total investment: $0

Other than my time and using some chemcial reactions in my brain, I can find out if there's any interest in such a site without having to go raise cash, hire a bunch of developers and mortgage the ranch.

Stay tuned for updates on how this little project is coming along.
Saturday, January 17, 2009

Separation of Church and State?


Is it possible to separate your personal and social media? An article in Mashable got me thinking about it. There are lots of opinions about this--Just Google "professional vs. personal social media". The chart above sums up how I feel about personal and professional social media or Web in general. The larger and more old school a company or industry is, the larger the gap gets. In my case, I want the gap to be larger.

After thinking about this over the last couple of days and reading the various points of view, I'm in the camp that feels it's simply not realistic.

The Web never forgets

Here's why: Google. Unless you meticulously delineated your personal and professional identities when the Web was invented, you're going to be hard pressed to keep the two worlds separated. You would have had to made sure you had different usernames for personal vs. professional. Separate emails. All seprate accounts for EVERYTHING.

I have articles from 14 years ago that are from a publication that went out of business showing up when you search my name. I have op-ed pieces I sent in to the local paper from 20 years ago. And on and on it goes. You can't delete these things and you can't hide from them. It seems like new, old stuff keeps showing up each month when I Google myself (This is something we all should do on a regular basis).

So what now?

I decided to make some intentional separations between personal and professional where it made sense and it was reasonable to do so and maintain. At the end of the day, I have to be comfortable with what I'm putting out there whether it's a friend, employer, potential employer or the government.

By doing this I can also have friends, colleagues and the general Web audience decide what they want to read about me--to a point. It's up to everyone else to filter me out in whatever way they choose to do so.

The first step is to have two separate blogs: (professional) and (personal). It will take me a couple of weeks to get it done and tweaked, but I'll commit to it for at least a year and re-evaluate this strategy in 2010.