Regarding Disrupted

Dan Lyons’ scathing tell all “Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble” came out last month and I’d been eagerly awaiting the book as have many in the Boston and marketing software communities. He tells of his time at Hubspot, the Cambridge-based startup that went all the way to IPO and took the lead as champion of Inbound Marketing. I’m always looking for interesting books to profile for Marketing Over Coffee but decided to pass on Disrupted. I thought it would be just a bunch of stories of startup lifestyle, parties with career limiting consequences, bad ideas and burn rate. The goal of the podcast is to educate and entertain. I try to avoid the negative slants of industry gossip or making fun of failed marketing campaigns. We do cover that stuff, but failing a lot, often spectacularly, is what happens at startups. Most of them fail – Hubspot is one of the exceptions. I’ve been at more than one place that was a lot crazier, that also crashed and burned. I used my monthly Audible credit to get the book (I said I would refuse to buy it, so this was me going half-truth on that so I didn’t have to wait for a library copy to finally get around to me) and tore through it. Even if you are not going to read all the “Inside Baseball” that follows, the TL;DR is: This is not just a book comparing a startup to a cult, it presents a lot of big issues: the nature of the workplace, the place in our society for the rapidly growing over 40 demographic, our financial system and how it perpetuates disparity of wealth, the death of journalism, and the trade off between privacy and being a member of the online...

Jay Baer on Youtility...

Jay Baer is an acclaimed keynote speaker, New York Times best selling author, entrepreneur, technology investor, and social media and digital marketing consultant. His latest book is Youtility, and I had a chance to chat with him on Marketing Over Coffee (click if you prefer audio). John:  Today, we have a special episode. We have the author of Youtility, Jay Baer, with us. Jay, Welcome to the show. Jay:  Thanks very much. Time will tell whether I am a special guest or not. John:  We’ll be watching the numbers, and I think given the Jay Bayer freight train that has been accelerating over the past couple of months, I’d put money on you. Jay:  Thanks. John:  So, you’ve written NOW Revolution with Amber Naslund a while back. Your latest book is Youtility. It’s made the New York Times Best Seller List. Congratulations. Tell me a little bit about the book. Let’s give everybody the elevator pitch. What is Youtility about? Jay:  The difference between helping and selling is just two letters. But those two letters make all the difference. If you sell something, you could make a customer today. But if you help someone, you can make a customer for life. And the way you do that is by creating something that is so useful, people will pay for. It’s marketing that is truly and inherently valuable. It has intrinsic value. If you do that, you will win in the end. John:  Right. You’ve got a bunch of great case studies in there, too. It’s a perfect example of a strong business book. You’ve got a big idea, and then you’ve got a bunch of great examples. I have to give you credit for that because so many of these books, I can only...

David Spark on Brand Journalism...

David Spark is an 18 year veteran of tech marketing and journalism. He’s been in over 40 media outlets in print, radio, TV, and online, has been involved in podcasting, video, and came on to talk about Brand Journalism. John:  Give us your elevator pitch. What do you do and how do you do it? David: I own a company called Spark Media Solutions. We are brand journalists, which means we create media for companies to increase their thought leadership in this space. The angle that we’ve been really successful with is building influencer relations through content. That is, I think, the best way to make a friend with somebody: to create content or interview them. If you want to be their best bud, that’s probably the best way to do it. I don’t think I’ve failed at that yet. John: You were just quoted recently in Forbes. They had a whole article about content marketing. There are a lot of ways to fail at content marketing. You can’t just jump into this and assume that because you are doing what everybody is doing it’s going to be right.  Talk a little bit more about that. Where do people screw this up and what do we have to look at? David: I should say I despise the term “content marketing” because I think it’s insidious. I think to say to someone, “Here is some content.” But it’s also marketing. It’s like someone would want to drop it like a hot potato: “Ah! I don’t want this! Who wants this crap?” The industry uses content marketing for their own selves and understands, “We’re generating this content to ultimately sell product.” But if it’s delivered to someone as marketing material, even though it’s “subtle,” as this...

Always More Complicated...

Lying with statistics is a topic that comes up all the time on Marketing Over Coffee and you’d think it would get old, but the latest crazes of dashboards, infographics and the like just continue to fuel the fire. Point #1: Statistics that show you a pie chart to make you feel better are misleading you and hiding a bunch of thorny questions. For better or worse, every time I’ve dug into the numbers I’ve found questions that are difficult to answer and force you to ask even more difficult questions. Over the 4th I found an interesting article on the fact that many flags and patriotic clothes are not made in the United States. That article claims only 2% of the apparel sold in the US is made here. Wearing clothing that celebrates America that wasn’t made here is an interesting issue, it then gets pushed much farther by talking about U.S. flags being used on caskets for our military and proposed legislation to require that they be made in the United States (the majority are made in China). This is the “digging deep gets complicated” phenomenon, clothes being made outside the U.S. seems like not a big deal on the surface, 4th of July items being imported feels strange, our tax dollars for flags for those who made the ultimate sacrifice paid to a nation that’s not that big on freedom feels like a crime. The article then cites research from Consumer Reports (a favorite publication of mine): “Given a choice between a product made in the U.S. and an identical one made abroad, 78 percent of Americans would rather buy the American product”. This brings to light three more important points: Point #2: Creating a survey question that is not biased...

The Next Thing

For those not chronically addicted to LinkedIn, I’m no longer with Glance Networks. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what’s next and as it usually happens, things have been coming up on their own. Thanks to all of the listeners of Marketing Over Coffee I’ve been able to talk to many people, and I’m so thankful for having a great network of friends keeping an eye out for me. While catching up with everyone that I haven’t had time to talk to over the past year I’ve had a number of people ask if I’d be interested in doing some contract projects. Some consulting, some all the way through to execution, and all with companies I’m very interested in. Although I’m not thrilled about figuring out my own healthcare and payroll (at least the M Show Productions LLC that was set up for Marketing Over Coffee is already in place), I’m very excited to have a chance to work with different organizations rather than just parachuting into a single project. The big question will be if I will eventually turn all the time towards a single company if things work out, or if I find out that I can make an agency of some kind work. I’m very excited for this next step, it’s a big...

More on Marketing Ethics: Persuasion vs. Manipulation...

I saw a link to an article about Persuasion vs. Manipulation and had to click through. This has been a topic we’ve discussed often on Marketing Over Coffee and Dr. Pete has some interesting observations. I was trying to get them to fit with some discussions and ground rules we’ve already laid down. My intent was not to criticize him, but rather to see if I could align what he’s said with some of what we’ve covered to see if we can’t get further out on the frontier. What I’ve written below won’t make much sense unless you’ve checked out his article first: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/marketing-ethics-persuasion-vs-manipulation My first point is that Persuasion vs. Manipulation is only a shade of gray and usually not at the core of the ethical questions around a transaction. Persuasion is making an argument. Manipulation does not have to be sinister, it can simply mean that one is an expert persuader, especially when they are using that advantage against someone that is not as skilled in making arguments. It does also include being able to coerce someone into a situation that they may not desire to be in (which could be for good or bad, but often to the manipulator’s advantage). Questioning the ethics of the Sales/Marketer’s behavior is not a matter of what information the buyer is lacking (basically situations 1,2,3 and 5 are just varying degrees of lacking information, situation 4 is lacking all the information), but whether the intent of the persuader or manipulator is for “Good” or “Evil”. These are Philosophy 101 arguments. Taking a 50,000 foot view you can divide this into three buckets: Ethics depend on if you followed the rules (Deontology) but this tends to be inflexible and has logic problems (killing is bad until...

Purpose of the Receipt...

With Amazon Prime free shipping, and the savings you can get from subscribing to products (e.g. baby stuff just shows up at our house on a regular schedule and we get a price break for having a standing order), the UPS guy knows us well. The only problem is that the receipts that come with the order often don’t show the total. It’s not like there’s a shortage of white space...

The Marketing Over Coffee Awards...

Three years ago, around the end of 4th quarter I was talking with Christopher S. Penn about the shortage of interesting things going on in the industry at the end of the year. Everyone is trying to close business for the end of the year, retailers are flat out with the holiday crush, and the back to back dietary threat of Thanksgiving and Christmas eliminate the chance of much excitement in marketing headlines. We had talked about awards many times on Marketing Over Coffee and Chris joked that we should do our own awards. To get the full impact of the joke you need to know that in Marketing and PR circles awards are often given little respect. There are many that aren’t much more than “pay your application fee and get a trophy” (and half ass agencies hope to dupe green clients into believing that they really are “award winning”) and then there are others that large organizations shoot for, and at these companies there’s often a person that has applying for awards as one of their major job functions. I do have to say that when recording some audio with David Meerman Scott a few years ago, he did get me to see an angle I had missed. There are certain awards that you should pay attention to because of who the judges are. In many industries there are awards judged by influential people that you might already be trying to reach through your normal marketing channels. Paying a couple hundred bucks to get some guaranteed time with the right people is a no brainer if there’s a fit. Our joke was, we would give the awards to who we liked. If you were doing something cool, and you were a fan...

The Problem with Direct Mail...

Many moons ago I worked on direct mail pieces. It’s an arcane practice requiring many of the things you hear about at Halloween – eye of newt and the like, and it is far more difficult than it would seem. Sadly, during the primaries here in Massachusetts I had some examples of the challenge. Guy is a fellow UMass grad and I received two portfolio pieces from him (8 1/2 x 17 so it folds into a 4 page brochure). Here’s the first one: Bonus points to you if you can catch the problem here. Look for a second to see if you get it. I ran this by a number of marketing people and few caught the error. Reign has a homophone – rein (homophones sound alike but have different meaning whether they are spelled the same or not, in this case not). To make things even more confusing I thought this was a homonym, but while fact checking found than homonyms are also spelled the same (e.g. bear – the animal, vs. bear – to carry). After even further review I found that some use homophone and homonym interchangeably, perhaps because I am one of the 4 people left on earth that care. But alas, if you do know the difference, it’s a huge one: Rein, the word that should have been used, comes from leading a horse and means to control – in this case stop the waste – a great message. Reign refers to the rule of a leader, most commonly referring to a monarch’s rule – so instead of eliminating wasteful spending this says he will be King  Wasteful the Great. Again, I ran this by a number of marketing professionals and they didn’t catch it – the point...

If you are reading this, then it’s all over...

For me, this is a sad post to write, but the good news is that if I ever hit the publish button, then I am probably enjoying an adult beverage and watching the sunset with a smile on my face. How did I get to this point? Writing a post as digital therapy in July, knowing that it will sit in the draft bin for who knows how long. There have been two things this month that led me to this confession: I had touched base with Greg Verdino about his new book and he said “Man, where have you been?”. The other was Chris Brogan saying he was glad to see some blog posts out of me. Seth Godin said something to the effect that a good measure of your work is if people notice if you are missing. Given the busy schedules of Greg and Chris, that makes me feel pretty good. So, where the hell have I been? Let’s rewind the clock to October 2009 for half the story – at Newton Wellesley after being awake for more hours in a row than I ever have before, our son arrived. That has been a wonderful adventure, taking up most of our lives but worth every minute. But the other half… that’s why this sits in the draft bin. In December 2009 I did my annual review of how the year went. The dead week between Christmas and New Year’s is the perfect time to take a look at the bigger picture. The elephant in the back of my mind was that it would be my 5th anniversary at work. In June I vested in the last of my options, and in the startup world this makes you start thinking about the next big...