On NBC News in Chicago

September 27, 2011

If you’ve ever wanted to see me on video, here you go. I was recently on NBC’s The Talk with Marion Brooks discussing social media marketing and the launch of Socialogic, a new agency in Chicago (to point out the obvious – I work for them).

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“I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum security prison. When I escaped from that prison, over the front wall, between two gun towers, I became my country’s most wanted man. Luck ran with me and flew with me to India, where I joined the Bombay mafia. I worked as a gunrunner, a smuggler, and a counterfeiter. I was chained on three continents, beaten, stabbed and starved. I went to war. I ran into the enemy guns. And I survived, while other men around me died. They were better men than I am, most of them; better men whose lives were crunched up in mistakes, and thrown away by the wrong second of someone else’s hate, or love, or indifference. And I buried them, too many of those men, and grieved their stories and their lives into my own.”

Some books are like an exquisite meal, meant for indulgence and slow enjoyment.  Shantaram is one of those – written by Gregory David Roberts, the book tells the story of his escape from a New Zealand prison, his subsequent arrival in Mumbai, a visit to village India, and his life in the Middle Asian underworld.  Although some of the events are based on the author’s life, it is technically classified as fiction since he merged different events and characters for narrative flow.

My favorite books are the ones that immediately draw you into their world and make you care about the characters, and this one accomplishes that marvelously.  A few more choice quotes:

“The past reflects eternally between two mirrors -the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn’t do or say”

“Astounding and puzzling images from the city tumbled and turned in my mind like leaves on a wave of wind, and my blood so thrilled with hope and possibility that I couldn’t suppress a smile, lying there in the dark…In that moment, in those shadows, I was almost safe”

This book makes me want to jump on a plane to Mumbai and embrace the chaos and energy of the city myself.  Highly recommend it.

From the Greek philosophical tradition:

Telos: All things have a purpose. Translated as “the purpose” or “the objective”.

Techne: The way this purpose is served, the abilities and actions required to accomplish said purpose. Translated as “the skill”.

Phronesis: The intuitive understanding of what the purpose of something is and why it is so. Usually translated as “practical wisdom”, Aristotle considered it the ability to determine a particular goal, decide how best to achieve it, and completely understand the effect that accomplishing that goal will have on your overall existence.

Applied to interactive marketing:

Telos – page #1 rankings for the long tail

Techne – a creative, well written, consistently updated blog.

Phronesis – a tool to harness the long tail, which is where the conversions are.

Telos – page #1 for competitive keywords

Techne – high quality backlinks

Phronesis – link aquisition done with focus on high quality, high PR, websites.

Telos – word of mouth buzz

Techne – clever video or blog

Phronesis – people talking about you and sharing your content without your direct involvement is one of the most powerful forms of marketing.

Telos – authentic communication with your market

Techne – social media presence

Phronesis – people want to interact with fellow humans online. people buy from people they have relationships with.

Telos – a permission marketing campaign

Techne – useful or entertaining newsletters and a website with a clear opt-in funnel

Phronesis – permission marketing is powerful and effective tool with a high ROI.

Telos – repeat traffic

Techne – constantly updated authority/entertaining/controversial content, consistent marketing message spread throughout the web (PPC/banners)

Phronesis – people who repeatedly visit a website are more likely to convert, so give your users reasons to come back

Telos – a good reputation and a particular image

Techne – PR and media relations

Phronesis – people work with and buy from people and brands they trust

Telos – a website that positively reflects your brand and drives conversions

Techne – a carefully designed, elegant website that makes people feel relaxed, comfortable, and even catered to

Phronesis – the human response to positive visual stimuli will ensure that your users do what you want them to do

Telos – reach a target demographic

Techne – creative banner ads on sites your target audience frequents

Phronesis – your message is communicated to your targets through appearing on places they already go online, and sparking their interest

And so it goes – it can be applied to every aspect of interactive marketing (it can really be applied to all of life if you want to get seriously philosophical). For every element of a campaign, we can determine on an objective(telos), isolate the skill/actions required to accomplish it (techne), and understand how it will benefit and how it fits into the overall campaign (phronesis).

In other news, I am a huge nerd.

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.

Sure, everyone knows that when the going gets weird the weird turn pro, but you may not be aware of these equally excellent but less popular quotes:

Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right. I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.

– The Rum Diary

Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish — a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow — to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested…
Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.

– The Gonzo Papers, Vol 2.

The massive, frustrated energies of a mainly young, disillusioned electorate that has long since abandoned the idea that we all have a duty to vote. This is like being told you have a duty to buy a new car, but you have to choose immediately between a Ford and a Chevy.”

– Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

*The last one was written in 1973.  I think the tide is finally turning, 40 years later.