Saturday, January 31, 2009

Playing Against Type

If a place doesn't have an Applebee's and a golf course I don't want to vacation there. Many a night on business travel, while colleagues explore the city, I order Domino's and watch Sportscenter. I bought a house down the block from my suburban high school. Being "cultured", is NOT an accusation that's flying my way all that often.

That said, I watch the TED talks podcast almost every weekend. Today I watched one from Robert Forbes. This guy travels the world and takes pictures of regular shit and talks about why its interesting from a design standpoint. I was fascinated. Still, I'd rather play 18 in morning, and have a hamburger and Bloody Mary by the pool than go to a city I don't know anything about. Why do I need to go anywhere with cool talks like this coming right to my computer?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Car for Sale

Some might think, its in bad taste to use your blog and the attention you've earned from people by consistently delivering marketing insights and digital infused thinking. Those people would be missing out on a great deal on 1995 Honda Accord with less than 90k mi, running great, with new belts and AC system for under $3,000.

This car has at least 160k miles left in it. That's less than $.02 per mil. Its practically free. I'm practically paying you. Really.

All you city dwellers, you want to shop in a real supermarket BOOM! How about trips up to check out the wineries in Long Island, no railroad, Honda will get you there, WITH MUSIC. I've got a softball game on Randall's Island, how do you get there. I'll tell you, you take the Honda, and bring friends, its going to be awesome.

Life without a car is terrible, all you Manhattan folks say you don't need one, who are you kidding? Do yourself a favor email and set up an appointment to test drive this beauty.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Musings on Leading A Digital Media Group

When it comes to digital media strategy I feel like I'm repeating myself on this blog. Don't fear bigger ads, blah, blah, blah. If I'm tired of it, then dear readers, you guys must be.

One thing I've learned running a digital media group is that while having sound, well thought out strategy is important, its not the most important aspect of this job. Neither is your ability to come up with creative ideas. Reality is, that if your hiring well, you have many smart people working for you that have their own well thought out ideas. Those ideas might be (gasp) better then their boss's.

When it comes to running a digital media group, like any group, good leadership is the most important thing. It doesn't get your name in the trades, invites to vendor boondoggles, or even as many immediate "attaboys" from agency management.

What it does do is retain talent, inspire your employees to give the most out of themselves, provides more cool heads in a storm and optimism. Hire well and do that and you will have happy customers. Happy customers are the beating heart of any strong business. In time (years my impatient digital friends) attaboys will come in the form of salary increases (and opportunities) when your group consistently makes more money for the agency year after year.

In order to be a good leader here's what I try and focus on:
  • Candor - Above all things. When its hard to candid, that's when it matters most.
  • Never be content - I expect every employee I have to be the best in the industry at their job. Expect that, and then they will expect it as well.
  • Be positive - Balancing this and never be content is tricky but not impossible. Respect their journey, and their effort, pay them when its justified, just keep moving the finish line.
  • Cut bait - Give every effort to coach an employee to meet your needs, but if you can't do it, be honest with yourself, and them and cut bait. The difference between a great employee and an OK one is dramatic.
  • Know Your Shit - This one IS about craft and strategy. When it comes to marketing strategy and tactics your ideas don't need to always be smarter than your employees. But you absolutely must be smarter some of the time. If not, you're an empty suit and all the leadership traits in the world won't save you. When focusing on being a leader, never lose your craft.
  • Integrity - Simplest thing in the world. Do what you say you will do.
Those are mine. What are some other keys to your success in your business?

Monday, January 12, 2009

David Cross Has Something to Say TV Marketers

Although its cute to watch David Cross dressed as woman drop the "F Bomb", his analysis is flawed. You fired the same guys that blew it on Arrested Development, they wouldn't have been there to turn a talent show, into the biggest ratings powerhouse of the decade.

Point is, some entertainment is for broadcast TV, some isn't and producer's guild awards are not the litmus test for that. Marketing is one piece that sits along side programming, scheduling, star power, luck, quality, audience and timing. Making a hit is a tricky stew and they don't come around all that often.

I'll buy into actors calling out marketers for failed shows right after I hear them thanking us on stage when they accept them. David Cross should stick to playing pretend in his bra.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bringing Marketing Thunder, Changing the Marketing World

I know I'm going to get torched for being a Gary Vanderchuck Fanboy, but who cares. The way this guy carries his business, is really inspiring.

  1. In my Twitter I feed got a free shipping offer which means alot because shipping is normally very pricey for wine. Spent money. Wife will be pissed when she finds out, but I have some great new wine on the way.
  2. So I checked his personal blog today and learned one of his sites got hacked. The story broke on TechCrunch, a widely read technology blog.
In the comments section he responded with this:

Inspired lots more comments like this:

This impresses me because here's not a guy talking about how brands should use social media, as Nike says he Just Does It. It doesn't cost a ton of money, and it works. But reality is I can't articulate the value and thinking of what he did better he already did.

My last take away from this is that the most useful social marketing doesn't require a lot of money. It requires speed and authority. Something a lot of large companies lack. Charging your marketing department to do amazing social marketing isn't good enough. Hiring a social marketing guy or a social marketing agency isn't good enough. You need to give whoever is responsible for social marketing a TON of authority over PR, product offers, customer service, and marketing. Is that risky? Shit yeah. But if a large company could operate like Gary just did the upside could be worth it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

From the Desk of Chris Cunningham

Received the following from Chris Cunningham @ Appsavvy, via email. Chris is a smart guy who's championed portable media like widgets and apps as long as anybody. He's got a well thought out, informed POV and his gut predictions are based on as much experience as anyone.

However, I take issue with his treatment of Facebook as an already proved out business success. True, Facebook has gotten a ton of usage from people but I don't see a business model that justifies the valuation. If Facebook had to spend less money than they made what would they do, what's the path to that look like? Are small, out of the way, ads with tiny CTR's valuable enough to support all those genius developers when the VC runs dry?

The fact that he suggests the iPhone, a sickly profitable business, might "grow" into a Facebook "killer" scored a 10 on the Greg March, What the Fuck??? O-meter. (TM)

Not to take a shot at Chris. In fact, I think Chris's model might be more sustainable, can be managed off of lower cost, and if his apps create real value for people (big IF), these apps might be able to sustain larger, more impactful and disruptive advertising solutions. Just stop selling shitty, tiny banner that my eyeball is trained to ignore.

Chris's comments cover alot more than that, and worth the read, they are in green, so maybe you think of money and throw the guy some business, enjoy:

Thus far, we’ve seen the creation of tens of thousands social media applications for Facebook and while less so, other social networks, including MySpace, hi5, among others. The next step and a trend we’ve seen in the second half of 2008 is the maturation of the space. Not only are developers and publishers focused on utility of applications, so are Internet users. Right now, there is a strong move from quantity to quality applications. I believe the biggest reason for this evolution is the creation of a new advertising vehicle for advertisers, thus an opportunity to monetize developer and publishers creations, while providing valuable content, entertainment, community and more.

Let me share with you some of the trends we’re seeing as we approach 2009 and beyond:

1) Social media applications truly becoming communities and evolving into portable Web platforms

2) I’m also very bullish on the standardization of consistent metrics and measurement of social networking channels in the New Year. I’m most optimistic about metrics outside of CTR (Click Through Rate), such as time spent, usage and more....

3) Social networking sites exceeding expectations as it relates to user adoption, traffic and page views. I also see social networking destinations evolving their thinking as it relates to the developer community. Expect further cooperation and – gasp – data sharing and more.

4) From an overall Internet industry perspective, Facebook and its momentum will be to Google, what Google was to Microsoft a few years ago. Facebook is doing a tremendous job of building mindshare and not only competing, but beginning to lead in the core platforms of the Internet: communications and dare I say it, increasingly so in search, but in a different way. Through social networks, the Internet becomes less about searching and more about bringing all of your interests together.

6) Outside of Facebook, I’m encouraged by MySpace, recently Yahoo! and LinkedIn’s efforts in the application space. To an extent, the other social networks have missed at least the first inning or two of the game and need to take a close look at the success of Facebook and put the resources and energy behind the application opportunity. That being said and all, they shouldn’t do it because Facebook did. They should leverage applications by implementing plans around the unique nature of each platform. Each social network outside of Facebook, needs to figure out how their consumers could benefit from applications, what will the engagement look like and how they will see an application ecosystem within their platform.

7) Moving on, the expectation has been that MySpace will drive the application space forward as the #2 player, but that won’t be the case in 2009. Apple and the iPhone get that nod from me. Reports in December that more than 300 million applications have been downloaded from the Apple’s App Store demonstrates the iPhone’s opportunity and ability to take mobile to a whole new level. If iPhone applications become more social, which they will (we’re already seeing it in plans with developer partners, including five of the top 15 applications, and advertisers), the iPhone may not just make mobile a true platform for marketers, but the platform could become a Facebook killer. Talk about a place where all of your friends are currently.

8) Lastly, I’ll make this 140 character prediction: Twitter is a great tool. Look at the prez election & Mumbai attacks. However, It's not a business. Facebook’s Status will overrun it in '09.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Show Us the Money

TechCrunch published a chart showing the where that M&A and IPO
dollars are extremely low. IPO's at their lowest point since 1979.

And Boom Goes the Dynamite. To those working or running a business that depends on digital media dollars, time to start to making more money than you spend.

Think banner ads are the ship to take you there? What was the banner ad on the last page you were on?

Let's take the internet's targeting, measurability, dynamic content, broadband tubes, growth in time spent, and develop larger palettes for creative people to blow minds with. Might prevent you from ratcheting up traffic numbers that VC's and potential suitors drool over, but it'll show you the money. Ask Hulu.