Marketing is…

April 22, 2007

like perfume. Of course.

There are tonnes of perfumes out there. Some are great, some…not so much. Some smell fantastic, some just smell fantastic on you.

There are tonnes of marketing tactics out there. Some are great, other…not so much. Some work fantastically, some just work fantastically for you.

The trick with marketing, as with perfumes, is to pick the one that tessellates best with your brand’s DNA.

And as with marketing, the best perfume could be a $50 off-the-shelf generic brand or a bespoke $1,000 an ounce perfume. You never know until you try some.

(and no, I did no spend all day being dragged around a department store buying perfume, thanks for asking.)

Don’t let Eloi, Morlocks, Trolls or Flamers stop you from joining the social media revolution

March 27, 2007

**UPDATED** – Chris Locke and Kathy Sierra released a joint statement on this particularly nasty matter. Locke publicly condemns the people behind the threats, insults and images and both hope that this won’t put anyone off a free and open discourse.

For me, I’m still disappointed that Locke had the level of involvement that he did with the sites in question. Leadership is about more than doing things that amuse you, and Locke was a leader of the conversational marketing revolution.

Original Post

Way back when, when dinosaurs roamed the world and the Internet was in its infancy, the World Wide Web was a dangerous place to be. Flame wars would erupt over the smallest things. People would be slammed viciously and repeatedly for saying the wrong thing, or at least the wrong thing for the person who was reading it.

Evolution – a step forward

But, over time, the brutal harshness of the Internet matured into the more cordial and pleasant environment we find today. Blogs emerged from the ruins of Usenet, partly to escape the flamers and trolls, and so it’s no real surprise that bloggers now regularly (over) indulge in prolonged bouts of back slapping and circle jerking. It’s easy to forget that in the online community, as in HG Wells’ classic The Time Machine, there is a dark side beneath all this camaraderie.

Wells wrote of 802,701 AD and the difficult co-existence of the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are graceful, fun loving and peaceful, while the Morlocks prey on the weaknesses of the Eloi. The Morlocks are, however, afraid of fire.

Two steps back

Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users (a definite Eloi) has just lit a fire to ward off the Morlocks. We’ll see how many people make their way to the fire, and how many of them are Morlocks.

From my perspective, the whole incident is extremely disheartening. One of the Morlocks, to continue the analogy, has been alleged to be Christopher Locke, AKA Rageboy.

Locke is a co-author of one of the more important business books of the last few years, the Cluetrain Manifesto, and stands accused of a laundry list of crimes both ethical and federal. Crimes that include misogyny, intimidation, sexual harassment and issuing death threats.

This is especially worrying because I try to incorporate as many “Cluetrain” theses in my work as I can. These include: speak to people as if it’s a conversation. Be authentic. Use as little spin or messaging as possible. Allow the community to develop on its own.

Fall from grace

The allegations against Locke, coupled with his non-denial, damage the legitimacy of the authority behind his thinking. In turn, this puts into doubt all the thinking I’ve done to build on or implement on, the Cluetrain Manifesto, leaving me with a crisis of confidence. When someone you look up to and respect falls from grace your immediate reactions are disappointment and a great deal of soul searching.

Prior warning

Perhaps I should’ve known better. In Cluetrain’s first chapter, Locke eulogises the glorious flame wars of the early net as great intellectual duels – like great Norse warriors who, instead of war hammers and mystical javelins, use words as their weapons. Words such as:

Jim, you are a complete idiot. Your code is so brain-damaged it won’t even compile. Read a book, moron.


Jim, you are a complete idiot. Your dog is so brain-damaged it won’t even hunt…

Unfortunately, these seemingly harmless quotes give readers a rather disturbing insight into Locke’s psyche, and to the psyche of many people’s online personas. The Morlocks’ psyche. Damaged. Self-loathing. Underachieving. Vicious.

When people actively involved in the blogosphere talk about how welcoming and supportive the community is, they have clearly met with the Eloi. When their bosses, colleagues and clients push back and express a fear of joining the wider conversation, they are clearly being influence by the Morlocks and the reputation.


It’s almost the definition of irony that such an advocate of online conversational marketing should be preventing organizations from joining it.

Don’t let Eloi, Morlocks, Trolls or Flamers stop you from joining the social media revolution

To anyone who has thought about joining the social media revolution but decided against it because of trolls and flamers, here are my reasons for being actively involved in the “conversation”:

  • People are already talking about your organization, your products and your competitors. Why not influence that conversation?
  • In any given community, one per cent creates, 20 per cent participates and the other 79 per cent observes. You’re not trying to convince the extremely vocal one per centers but the 79 per cent who are watching the conversation.
  • If you are being flamed and heavily criticized, joining the conversation takes guts but (eventually) means that the flaming and criticism will die down. Caveat Emptor – it may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.
  • As an organization that invests in talent, why not allow that talent to lead the conversations you’re already involved in?

Despite all this, I still stand by the Cluetrain Manifesto as a seminal book and one that influences my work or thinking each and everyday.

One last caveat

Don’t let idiots or bullies dissuade you from expanding your online presence. Don’t let the one per centers put you off having a true conversation with your customers, employees or owners. Embrace the conversation – it won’t kill you.

And, as we all know, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Presentations are like…

March 13, 2007

The analogy

I get nervous when I play football. More precisely, I get nervous for the two or three hours before each game. Sometimes I’m so tired from being nervous, my legs feel like lead. We play seven aside with 3-4 subs so there are, like Ice Hockey, “rolling subs” when people sub on and off indiscriminately. I never play well if we play a quick subs system where people run on, run hard for a few minutes and then get off. I need to read the game, see where I’m needed, see where the holes are and who the danger players for the other side are.

And presenting is like playing football.

The BMBY presenting style

When I’m presenting, I can’t follow a script to save my life. I go off on tangents during my segments. I sometimes try to crack a joke. I turn my back on the crowd. I give creepily intense eye contact. I desperately try to avoid eye contact. I talk directly to my colleagues.

I think I’m a pretty good presenter.

But at the start I get extremely nervous. My stomach churns, my hands shake a little bit, I’m sure my brow glistens.

Funnily enough, I always think my presentations are better to more people. I once had to present a company’s annual PR plan to all 150 people employees with my account director. To say I was nervous as more and more people filed in to the room would be an understatement. I though we were presenting to 8 people. Max. It was my best presentation.

My worse presentation performances have been when, as is common with junior PRs, I have one slide to talk to. All my nervous energy gets pent up and focused on one slide. Not good. I need to get a feel for the audience, gauge their reaction to other people and then adjust my pitch. You can’t do that with one slide.

Advice for entry/mid-level PRs

So, my advice for entry/mid level PRs who are given one slide is this:

  • Don’t worry about being nervous. Everyone is. You, your boss, your boss’ boss and the people you’re presenting to.
  • Focus your nervousness into performance. While you’re waiting for your slide, go through and edit what you want to say. Translate your nervous energy into real energy – energy of movement and energy of voice.
  • Slow down. Your adrenaline (the hormone that makes you “nervous”) will speed up your delivery. Slow down.
  • Realise you’re just presenting. It’s PR; not ER. Even if you make a dog’s dinner out of it, and I know you won’t, no one’s going to die.
  • Realise you’re presenting to a person. A person just like you.
  • Don’t say “errrr” or “umm”. If you’re reaching for a word, don’t say anything until it, or an alternative, comes along.
  • Smile.
  • Express yourself. Break the rules. Go off script. Tell a short joke.
  • Focus on the moment and enjoy having highly paid people listening to what you have to say.
  • Ask for more. If you can, try to get a couple more slides to let you find your rhythm. It’ll be worth it.

A video clip.

I feel a lot like “Frank the Tank” does after a presentation. The money line is about 55 sec in.

If you’re reading this in a feedreader, click here to view the video.

What are your tips for presenting?

Closing the loo[p]

January 5, 2007

I don’t do toilet humour here but coming back from Calgary I went to the loo.

Automated faucets, automated soap dispenser, automated paper towel dispenser and then I had to pull the door open.

Make sure your clients don’t have to pull it open after all your hard work.


How do you run?

December 8, 2006

There’s a very catchy song called “How do you love” by Collective Soul.  It came on my iPod when I was running a few nights back and it got me thinking.  As Leo hasn’t done anything on running in a while, I thought I’d fill in.

I usually aim to run 3 miles in under 23 mins when I’m on the treadmill.  I find it gets the heart rate going while not leaving me totally knackered for the rest of my posing around the gym workout.

But a few weeks back I got to 3 miles and though, why no carry on, just keep running, so I got to 4 miles and wasn’t anymore knackered than usual.  So now I run 4 – 5 miles on the dreadmill.

I wonder what would happen if I just went for it one night.  If I ran until my lungs burst, my legs burned and my knees were screaming out for me to stop?  How far would I go then?

What would Seth, Mark or Fred do?  Would they stop at 3, 4 miles or would they carry on until they couldn’t physically go any more?

There has to be a time when you decide to just go for it and there have to times when you get to where you wanted to and then re-evaluate.  That’s where I’m at now, but I feel I’ll be going for it a lot more now that I’ve thought about it.

Starbury bursts

September 7, 2006

When I was knee-high to a grass hopper, I really wanted the latest Air Jordan Nike shoes. That I didn’t play basketball, watch basketball or even know who Michael Jordan was, didn’t matter. All the cool kids had them and I wanted them as well.

But they cost something like £100 and back in the early eighties, that was a lot of money. My parents, thankfully, didn’t cave into my demands no matter how long I held my breath and stamped the floor. But I’d be delighted to buy my (hypothetical) kid a pair of Starburys – the new Stephon Marbury shoe.

Too often we hear stories of excessive greed, consumption and arrogance from sports stars so it’s fantastic to read the story of Stephon Marbury, star of the woeful (are they worse than the Raptors?) New York Knicks.

Retailing at some ten per cent of the Kobe Bryant or LeBron James versions, Marbury has created a completely new line of affordable shoes and, to prove it’s not a piece of crap, he’s wearing it himself this season. Yes, an NBA star wearing $15 shoes.

The shoes are only available at Steve and Barry’s (a US discount chain) and have become a phenomenon – a Technorati search reveals 1,273 postings. There is a two item per person limit and apparently queues run around the block; and for good reason – why spend a week’s worth of grocery money on a pair of shoes that will be out of fashion before the milk turns sour?

Marbury himself says, “history is going to say I [Marbury] changed the game” and he’s right.

If you market to the edge, and it doesn’t matter which edge, the market will be pulled along with it.

Thanks to Popbitch for the tip off.

Do you represent a laptop manufacturer or retailer? Do you want your logo here? If you do, please email me!

Backing your talent

August 16, 2006

Thanks to a bet placed in 1992, Mr. Eddie Kirkland has won 10,000 GBP or about $19,000 U.S..  The bet? 

That his son, Chris, would play for the England national football team before he was 30.  Today, Chris Kirkland, on loan at Wigan from Liverpool, was brought on as a substitute in England’s win over Greece and the drinks are on Eddie! 

I think that you can draw a lot of parallels with business from sport – probably why so many senior execs had fledgling sporting careers – but the biggest one is confidence. 

If you’re confident and work hard, things will happen for you.  And nothing builds confidence more than having someone you love and respect back you to the hilt. 

Do you represent a laptop manufacturer or retailer? Do you want your logo here? If you do, please email me!

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