Happy Birthday to Me!

July 28, 2009

Also born on this day: Soulja Boy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  Interesting combination of individuals.

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Its okay to let people leave your website.  Seriously, they’ll find their way back via search, bookmarks, or links if you have anything at worthwhile to offer.  Link out to other useful/entertaining sites, news articles, social media profiles, or what have you, and trust that your customers are capable of remembering your brand and returning of their own free will.

To people who think of their audience as sheep who must be herded into purchasing, I’d like to ask you a question.  Do you seriously have that low of an opinion about your customers?  Common usability considerations aside, why are you catering to the lowest common denominator?

There are a host of reasons why people leave websites, but most of them boil down too is that they can’t figure out what the site is all about (communication fail), that something doesn’t work (usability fail), or that they are bored (engagement fail).  The first two are simple to avoid with proper design, communication, and optimization.  The last one is a little bit trickier.

Hat tip to Hugh MacLeod and this cartoon.

I just checked out  Bantam Live and, as someone who manages complex interactive campaigns on a day-to-day basis, I have to say “DO WANT”. (gotta use appropriate internet-nerd speak).

Like I said in my last post, it is not the relationship you have with your customers, it is the relationship your customers have with your business that is important.  Social CRM systems like Bantam have got it right.

Via Crunchbase:

“With Bantam, business teams can create secure social workspaces to share information, track activity, and manage contact and company relationships inside and outside the organization. Status updating, auto-posting, following, notifying, messaging, and profile pointing features weave purposefully into business workflow objects (activities, CRM, events, project management, etc.) for users to become aware and interact with their colleagues and contacts.”

B2B decision makers, what do you think?  I love the idea of something that combines internal and external project management like this – it could streamline the process and cut down on the mystery between business and IT.

As anyone who knows me in real life is well aware, I recently reread The Cluetrain Manifesto, and having read the original when I was in high school ten years ago, I had the advantage of an interesting perspective.  Not only did I get a bachelors and join the working world since then, I work in interactive marketing and often tend to be the person who helps companies board the Cluetrain.  Here are my thoughts, jotted down as I read:

The relationship your customers have with your brand is more important than the relationship you have with your customers.

The feelings and emotions your brand evokes are just as important, if not more important than your actual product.

You can’t control the conversation, and it is stupid to even try.  Instead of trying to hide, be transparent.  Honesty and an authentic desire to enrich and benefit your consumers resonate far more than anything else.

People buy from people.

Instead of PR, do MR – Media relations.  One solid partnership with a journalist or blogger is worth a hundred press releases.

The second you really, truly recognize that it is not about what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for your customers, it all becomes so much easier.

It is not what the website does, it is what the user does.

Your company/brand is boring.  Your people are interesting.

Your customers are not grain and you can’t keep them in a silo.  Give them the freedom to interact, share, remix, and make your content/brand their own and they will reward you.

Anything can be a social object when properly communicated and presented.

Linear thinking will kill you.  Relationship thinking is where it’s at.

First, create something worth talking about.  Then give your audience the tools to make it their own.

We are in the API era.  Chances are someone has already built the technology you need; don’t reinvent the wheel.

The attention economy is dead.  Welcome to the interaction economy.

Minimizing the pain doesn’t make it a kiss.

Once you’re formed a genuine relationship, you’re willing to take less and your customer is willing to give more (Moroccan carpet seller analogy – the more you get to know them and their family the more you want to give, and the more they get to know you and your life the more they want to give you a better deal, since they see you as fellow human and not just a wallet).

Agility and analysis are just as important as research and expertise.

It is damn easy to turn on your user’s BS detectors, and nearly impossible to turn them off.  Build only authentic authority.

All the SEO in the world can’t help you if your content sucks (said it two years ago and got quoted by Doc Searls himself, and it holds even more true today).  In fact, this should really be “all the SEO in the world can’t help you if your content, design, and/or usability suck.”

The web and therefore interactive marketing is fundamentally optimistic.  Go the opposite route at your own peril.

Your customers are online, and they are talking. Full stop.

We’re all so used to the changes the web hath wrought that we don’t even realize it.

Ten years ago no one knew what blogs and SEO were except for the hardcore geeks.

Combining bleeding edge enthusiasm with thoughtful analysis will let you write your own ticket.

Traditional media makes the audience a passive witness to their own life.  The internet enables people to be active.

Passion subverts hierarchy on the web.

Consumers shouldn’t respect corporations, corporations should respect people.

The ideas at the fringes are the most interesting.

Gandhi had it right – “first they ignore you (no one cares about that lone voice online), they laugh at you (what a silly idea! no one will use that), then they fight you (our customers are not online/don’t read blogs, don’t use social media, then you win (adoption/conversion).”

The lure of the web is human-on-human interaction.

Everyone is granted a unique voice and perspective at birth.  It is up to the individual to take full advantage.

Every webpage you see has person/people behind it.

One-way communication is dead, and that is worthy of celebration. Two-way communication is ten times as effective.

The web has changed time from sequential to random in the sense that everything is searchable and accessible.

If your FAQ page doesn’t reflect actual customer questions, its existence is pointless.

Language isn’t camouflage, it is clarity.

If you are not funny, sexy, or useful then change your company/brand until you are.

Customers are not targets, they are friends and partners.

The future hasn’t even been invented yet.

I love it when people talk about the different marketing channels like they have nothing to do with each other, then they go home and browse the web while watching TV and listening to the radio and chatting on Facebook, Twitter, et al.

Your audience interacts with your brand as a whole.  The same people reading your blog see your commercials and get your newsletters and watch your YouTube channel.  How they first come across you and/or your company may vary, but their interaction with your brand extends across media.  They’ve already integrated your marketing strategies without your involvement.

File under: painful obviousness, harsh language.

Yes, this blog has been quiet for a while – but I’ve been busy on Twitter (@jazspin), and I’ve been working on a number of exciting projects that truly exemplify the power and utility of the web.  Watch this space.  That said, it is has been nice getting out of the echo chamber for a while – there are plenty of amazing blogs out there, but there are also plenty that are bandwagon jumpers.  Another testament to the fact that people respond to authentic voices both online and offline.

On a related note, I recently re-read the Cluetrain Manifesto (ten year anniversary edition).  The first time I read it was online, sitting in my parent’s basement and probably signed into AOL chat talking with my friends and downloading music – it was 1999 and I was still in high school (yes, I was that much of a nerd even then).  I would like to think I am perceptive enough to have fully grasped it at the time, but not so much.  I did take away the knowledge that internet was going to change things forever, however, and that it was already making the world that much smaller and more connected.  I also recognized the way that the web opens doors – a realization that I did not fully take advantage of until I started my first blog, an endeavor that led to a gig with AOL, and the rest is history (and fodder for archive.org).

Today, I work on the web, developing interactive campaigns and changing the way businesses operate.  It has been an interesting road, to say the least.  There are days when I think I have to drag people kicking and screaming into the 21st century and days when I am so inspired and excited I want to do some Tom Cruise style couch jumping.  Fortunately, there are many, many more of the latter.