Category Archives: Thoughts

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 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.

Are Today’s Agencies Ready for Tomorrow

As I was catching up on reading some older newsletters, I came across one that had an excerpt from an article written by Joe Marchese, dated July 1, 2008. Marchese’s main point seems to be that agencies, creative shops, marketers and such aren’t ready ready for, or have an organizational structure that supports social media for brands. His contention:

Put simply, Madison Avenue wasn’t built to service brands in social media and, more importantly, Madison Avenue is not built to make money from the proper activation of social media for brands. The question is, can the system adapt, or will a new breed of agency be born in the vacuum of effective social media campaigns? Evolution or revolution? I have seen evidence of both.

He goes on to outline his vision for what a social media agency could look like, and how it could function. One point in particular that seems to give today’s agencies pause lies within this: “You can’t predefine your creative in social media, because it is a conversation. To predefine your creative would be like entering a conversation with a script, and no matter what the other person says, continuing to stick to your script. You might as well be standing in front of a microphone reading a product description.”

So, this begs the question: Are today’s agencies ready for tomorrow? There are several ways to get ready – from staffing up with those who have unique social media skills to outsourcing certain functionality to specialty shops to developing more long-standing partnerships with individuals or companies that can augment an agency’s existing services.

Are today’s agencies ready? In some places, yes. Overall, not yet. But there are ways to get there, as long as you’re willing to take the first step.

The First Six Months – A Decade in the Making

It’s been just over six months since I left the safety and comfort of gainful employment. And I haven’t looked back since.

They say the first six months of starting a new business is among the most challenging, and I would have to agree. And I couldn’t have done it without the help of a fantastic group of friends, colleagues, and most importantly family. My wife and son have been incredibly supportive, and have tolerated many (and I’m sure there will be many more) early mornings, late nights and weekends of work and worry.

Also, I have to thank some tremendous colleagues and friends. I’ve leaned on them for more advice than I probably should have, and they’ve been very generous with their time and suggestions. Folks like Dave Cook at Stoltz Marketing Group. Jane Perlaky at The Agency Creative Network. Paul Carew at Carew Co. John Drake at Drake Cooper. Lou Perlaky at Noot Group. The list goes on and on. I like to think that I’ve been able to learn a little something from every conversation that I have, or get even just a little more focus to what I’m trying to accomplish. And I believe they’ve helped me along the way.

But this story goes back even farther. A decade or so, to be more specific.

It goes back to my days at Albertson College of Idaho (now once again The College of Idaho). It was there that I had my first exposure to this thing called the Internet, and the possibilities that it held. A couple of guys by the names of James Rice and Bryan Davis built a directory of links for the College (Bender and Bonfire’s Netsurf – how’s that for remembering a random fact) and suddenly we were a little closer to people and places that used to seem so far away. Combine that with an outstanding education from the College, and it all just made sense to me. I could see how the Internet could be used, from a practical business standpoint. I was hooked.

As the years went on, the interactive space was always a part of my job experience, whether working with an interactive agency, traditional agencies, or on the client side with a global corporation. I took the experiences from each of those positions, added it to what the past has taught me, and continued to learn and grow.

But like any good story, there’s got to be a twist, right? Well, yes – here’s mine.

In addition to the work that I’ve done in the interactive, marketing, and advertising space, I’ve also worked off and on for the better part of the past decade as a bartender. Yes, a bartender. I’ve had the unique opportunity to study people for hours on end, day after day. I’ve become a student of human behavior. I can see, and understand, people’s motivations behind their actions, even if they themselves don’t always see it. In a way, it could be said that I have a second degree in sociology (although the accreditation could be somewhat suspect).

So, now you have a formal business education, above average knowledge of the interactive space, and an understanding of human behavior. That mix of skills and experience doesn’t easily lend itself to traditional jobs. Until now, I’ve struggled to find a good “fit” with different companies and assorted roles within those companies.

With the rise of social media, and its increased adoption, the light bulb came on, however. The first hints came about a few years ago, as I started digging into things like podcasts, blogs, social networks and more.

As was the case before, it just made sense to me.

And this time, I saw the signs, got a sense of where things were going, and after some long and hard deliberation, made the decision to go out on my own. It was not a decision that was made lightly, or one that happened overnight, that I can assure you of. But when I finally made the choice, a series of events were set in motion that now have me running as fast as I can, and still picking up speed.

I’ve kept a good deal of what I’ve been doing under the radar, and deliberately so. There are a lot of people, particularly online, that love to hear themselves talk, and are not ashamed to tell other what they should be doing – all the while promoting themselves above everything else. I don’t want to be one of those people. At the end of the day, I want to do good work for, and with, good people. And I’m doing just that.

They say that most overnight successes don’t happen overnight, and I couldn’t agree more. Has it been easy? No. Are there still tough times ahead? Of course.

Am I still enjoying what I’m doing? Absolutely.