Category Archives: Observations

Everyone is a Salesman

Today’s quick thought — Everyone is a salesman.

It’s just a matter of what you’re trying to sell.

Whether it involves a physical product, a service, or even a concept, everyone is selling something.  It may not even be a conscious action, but in just about every time there’s more than one person is involved in some sort of interaction, there’s a certain amount of persuasion and influence taking place.

If you are able to keep that concept in the back of your mind, it will open your eyes to an entirely different world of communication and personal interaction.

There is an art to the craft of salesmanship, no doubt.  And those who do it well almost make it look effortless.  They’re knowledgeable, they ask the right questions, and they understand their customer — in many cases better than the customer understands themselves and their situation.

And in that process lies the key — the secret to success in any sales situation (and they’re all sales situations) is to understand the customer.  Without that, you’re fighting a losing battle, and you are your own worst enemy.

Thoughts on Facebook’s Terms of Service

Last week, much was made of the changes to Facebook’s Terms of Service.  It was sparked by a story on The Consumerist’s website, which led to a flurry of activity in all corners of the online world.

It even prompted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to post a statement on Facebook’s blog clarifying their stance.

The end result? Facebook has reversed their decision, and reverted to their old Terms of Service.

So, now that the frenzy has died down a little, let’s take a look at what this change was really about.

In a word: Money.

In practical terms — Facebook needs to be able to demonstrate its platform (yes platform – its so much more than just a website)  to potential advertisers, partners, investors, and other interested parties.  The best way to demonstrate that platform is to see it in action.  And the real power of the platform is the interaction that takes place amongst all of the registered users – 175 Million and counting around the world.

Let’s say the folks at Facebook wanted to partner with another cable broadcaster, as they did during the Presidential Inauguration with CNN.  Under their old TOS, if someone who had participated in the live online event, but canceled their account prior to a demonstration by Facebook, the company could not, by their own terms, use that former user’s content in their demonstration.  Their presentation isn’t as effective, and they find themselves working much harder to make the sale, the partnership, or the agreement.

Another angle — if Facebook did end up using that former Facebook user’s content anyways, they could, in theory, be at risk for a lawsuit for violating their own Terms of Service.  Facebook could make an attractive target for a lawsuit, as companies with deep pockets often do.

While much of the hoopla over the past week centered around privacy, in all reality it seems to be all about money.  The fact of the matter is that privacy in the online world is largely a myth.  A little common sense goes a long way.  Everything gets archived in some form or another — if you don’t want it to come back and bite you in the future, if you second guess whether to post it or not, you’re probably better off trusting your instincts.

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World – a Wall Street Journal Article

While there are those who have, and will say that there’s nothing new in this article, The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World from The Wall Street Journalgives a no-nonsense overview of the challenges those in and around the marketing world face as a result of that which is commonly known as Web 2.0.

A short sample from the opening of the article:

For marketers, Web 2.0 offers a remarkable new opportunity to engage consumers.

If only they knew how to do it.

That’s where this article aims to help. We interviewed more than 30 executives and managers in both large and small organizations that are at the forefront of experimenting with Web 2.0 tools. From those conversations and further research, we identified a set of emerging principles for marketing.

Take the time to read through the entire article. It’s worth it.

The Power of Podcasts

A piece from Lisa Formica, Vice President of fmi direct, inc,  was published on the MarketingProfs site last month discussing The Power of Podcasts. The entire piece is worth a read, and a few of the ‘facts and figures’ are worth repeating:

  • Awareness of the term “podcasting” increased from 22% to 37% in the past year.
  • The audience for audio podcasts grew 18% in the past year.
  • The audience for video podcasts grew 10% in the past year.

The data came from a recent report released by Edison Media Research: The Podcast Consumer Revealed 2008.

So, with all of this information, the question remains — what does it all mean?

For one, it shows that podcasting is not just a fad who’s time has come and gone.  True, it is not getting the attention and time in the spotlight that it was a couple of years ago, but as a medium it continues to gain acceptance.  Also, it demonstrates that podcasting can be used effectively, both as original content, and to augement existing content in other mediums. NPR, ESPN, and the BBC are all good examples of the latter.

Is there a single best use of podcasting, particularly from a marketing standpoint? No. There are thousands of possible best uses – one of which may be right for you and your organization.

Podcasting – a Practical Example

The folks at Orvis have always taken a unique approach to their business.  Their products are sold through a combination of Orvis Retail Stores, Orvis Authorized Dealers, print catalogs and online via the Orvis website.

Their online presence has also been supported by a variety of targeted banner ads across the web, among other things.

Recently, however, they’ve added a new piece to the mix: The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast.  This podcast “provides weekly, five minute tips from acclaimed fly fishing author and lifelong fishing enthusiast Tom Rosenbauer.”  Through this podcast, Tom (and Orvis) provides advice, tips, and techniques that have been accumulated over the years.

As a fly fishing enthusiast, I find the show to be a great resource for advice, suggestions, and perhaps a chance to pick up something that I might not have otherwise noticed.

From a business, marketing, and sales standpoint, this is an excellent example of a company that is utilizing a podcast as another way to built loyalty among current customers (such as myself) and attract new customers by providing those customers with something of value.  It is important to take note, however, of how Orvis is using this medium.  Rather than using this channel to talk about themselves and their products, they’ve elected to offer up real-world applications that the audience can relate to.  Do they mention Orvis products?  Of course.  But it’s done in a way that feels like a natural part of any conversation, rather than being forced into the discussion.

Orvis has also been active in promoting this podcast, through a combination of sponsorships and traditional online advertising.  On the sponsorship front, they’ve recently been heard as a sponsor of Fly Fish Radio, which is one of the first fly fishing podcasts ever produced.  The Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast has also been spotted in the search engine marketing realm, appearing in the AdWords sections of relevant Google searches.

All in all, Orvis is doing a lot of things right. Much can, has, and will be learned about their ongoing efforts.