This week’s Marketing Over Coffee was a solo show with Mr. Penn out sick, I emptied out the voicemail bin talking about social media (big surprise) and some lessons we can learn from how politicians marketing themselves.
So tomorrow I am going to a meeting of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association. It’s an informal event that will have a discussion on The Impact of Social Media. I’ve been to one other event with this group and it made me take some time to think about networking events and how they work.
It’s true that there’s no substitute for face to face discussion, but the problem is getting to the right faces. Both at a live or online event you at least know that the attendees have something in common (in my case, Marketing in Boston). One of the major advantages to networking online is that you can learn a lot about a person before you take up their valuable time. It also gets around the first 5 minutes of awkward conversation, and filters out things like spouses that have no interest in being there, or people who just show up for the free food.
I’ve found 4 levels of people at live events:
- Weird Loners – They don’t know anybody and are hanging out trying to meet people. To the other 3 groups this are high risk contacts, they may latch on, be insane, and not let go.
- Possible Stalker – These are loners who have done some homework and have a list of people to talk to. They’ll do 100x better than the loners, but the other attendees may have a look of panic during initial conversations as they assess the threat level.
- The Connected – Know enough people to have a pleasant time, try and meet a few new people, catch up with old friends.
- Group Organizer – Has all the cards, knows the majority of the people and why they were invited.
So what does this mean?
- Fly with a wingman – if you are going into unfamiliar territory having just one familiar face in the crowd, by definition, excludes you from being a weird loner.
- If that’s not possible, at least be a stalker – have 3 people you want to meet and learn enough about them so you have a starting point for conversation – “Hey, I noticed you blogged about X, could you tell me more…”
- Crack the code – Figure out who runs the event, who sponsors the event, why and how were people added to the list. This will help you determine who the power players are, if you can find one real connector, then you never have to go to a mass event again, you just ask the connector for some help in pointing you in the right direction.
Just like in any Jungle or Poker Game, if you have no plan everyone else is planning on you to be the meal.
And of course bribery. I’ll be giving out some $5 coffee cards, I have yet to find anyone that can resist free stuff…
I got an email today from Gary Fong. He makes astoundingly overpriced pieces of plastic that attach to your camera to diffuse the light coming off your flash. The thing is, they work incredibly well and Iâ€™m more than happy to pay for them because they are simple to use and do what they say (which, for someone with limited photographic skills like myself, is to perform outright miracles).
He was talking about the recession and his message boils down to â€œDonâ€™t worry about it, work your plan and youâ€™ll be fineâ€. I agree with him, although I have a different perspective.
An admission â€“ my undergraduate degree was in Economics so I spent many hours
swilling beers at UMass learning about concepts such as staglflation and supply-side, (which was on fire then, and the equivalent of â€œSteal from the poorâ€ to the average academic institution). I eventually came to the realization that Economics is no different than many other systems that are, by nature, chaotic. This could easily be a series of books, but the big idea is that tiny transactions that seem to be random actually roll up into larger patterns, some of which can be identified and can be repeatable.
Please keep in mind that boiling that down to one sentence is like saying â€œThe history and influence of America is that some guys got so pissed about taxes that they started killing peopleâ€. True, yes, but calling it a gross oversimplification would be… well, a gross oversimplification.
Are you still with me? Donâ€™t you wish blogs had editors? The punchline is that although the overall pattern shows economic slowdown, you can move in any direction. In fact, Iâ€™d say that as a reader of this blog, someone who has the initiative to read about these types of topics in your free time, youâ€™ve got no worries. Recessions are all about that 2/3rds of the population that hate their jobs. They subconsciously want to get fired.
Theyâ€™re about people in California housing complexes that buy half million dollar homes on less than 100k of income and take out a 3rd mortgage to build a fountain in their back yard. I hate to see anyone lose their home, but it seems like some people are asking for it. Credit is not a way to live in California while your means remain in Oklahoma.
A good marketing plan will succeed. If you ever have a chance to go to Newport, Rhode Island, look around the town and check out some of the mansions that were summer homes to the wealthy. Think of them partying there during the Great Depression.
I’ve never written about it before, but I have a younger brother named Jason. He’s leaving his current job and heading into a new venture. He asked me to dig up this email because he couldn’t find it since it was written in 2004.
This was the first email I got from him as the prelude:
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 11:05 AM
To: Wall, John
Subject: Re: notice
The next message you receive will be an exact replica of that which I shared with the staff. Keep in mind, absolutely no one knew it was coming (and the boss just left for vacation).
Interest piqued, I checked out the next message in line. Here it is with names changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty.
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 11:07 AM
Subject: What I love about *Censored Company*
Jason’s all-time favorite things about *Censored Company*.
1. *Ms. M*’s homemade peanut butter cups.
2. Watching *Ms. S* give someone the finger (and really mean it). Priceless.
3. Working with *Ms. B*. She is without question one of the nicest people on the planet.
4. My Aeron chair (which I claimed before it was even cold :).
5. *Mr. N* inheriting my favorite projects. Hahahahahahahaha.
6. Because *Mr. J* truly is one of the coolest f-ing mofos at *Censored Company*.
7. *Ms. S*’s potential.
8. Listening to *Ms. Q* at my very first *Company* staff meeting.
9. Learning that *Mr.S* DNA truly is encoded with MBTI letter J.
10. Arguing with *Ms. P*.
11. The fact that *Ms. J* complains more than I do but yet somehow remains so darn cute.
12. My color printer at my fingertips.
13. *Ms. T* signing her e-mails Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I’ve researched this thoroughly with
HR and still can’t prove that it is (but it must be) harassment towards all male staff members.
14. The occasions when we actually *do our job function*.
15. The undeniable fact that *Ms. L* thinks I’m a total beefcake and has a crush on me.
Having said all of this, I’d like to share with everyone that in the aftermath of tax time, my wife and I are happy to have a reached a significant financial goal and we’ll both be leaving our jobs as of Friday May 14th. Step 1 will be a vacation. But don’t worry; I’ll be available for good-bye lunches and dinners as necessary. Oh, and the chair is already spoken for. Is that Johnny Paycheck I hear singing?
The good news is that he was sending it around to his co-workers at his current job telling them that he is so happy to work with them because it was nothing like the place described above. Of course I discussed this with him prior to publishing it and I told him it would be made completely anonymous. He said: I’d be honored if you would, feel free to say it was “a department at a world at world famous Technology Institute in Massachusetts.”
Last week I attended a signing by Fake Steve Jobs, for his book Option$. Atlas Ventures opened up the bar and invited a large crew to Rocca, a very cool location in the South End of Boston.
For those not initiated, Daniel Lyons works at Forbes and while experimenting with blogs came up with Fake Steve Jobs, his idea of what would happen if a CEO decided to do a real blog, not the watered-down, PR and Legal approved abominations you occasionally see at large companies. There’s no surer bet for a laugh if you are looking for a feed to add.
Mr. Lyons is living proof of my theory that those best suited for success in new media, are those now working in the established outlets. I’ve heard many editors and publishers berate blogs, obviously deaf to that giant sucking sound that is their circulation. Those already in the publishing industry that aren’t afraid to try something new will be the most likely to succeed as things continue to evolve. The days of subscribing to 10 magazines, buying a stack of CDs, and listening to terrestrial radio are only visible in the rear view mirror.
Another group getting it is Version 2 Communications, the co-host of the event. They had the Flickr and YouTube tags on the back of the name badges, check out the vid with me chewing the scenery as hard as The Shat, with Chris Brogan driving it home with the ultimate punchline.
Ok, I’ve been getting flack for not having enough marketing stuff… so here’s some Excel Judo for you to work on.
You have a list of 8,000 contacts in excel, you need to de-dupe them (remove the duplicates). Here’s a quick way to clean up the majority of them:
- Sort by email address
- In the first open column create an “IF” statement (click the f(x) button and select “IF”). If the email address on this row equals the email address one cell above it then this cell is “1” if not “0”
- Copy that formula to all the rows
- Select that column and copy it
- From the command bar choose “Paste Special” and select “Values” – this strips out the formula and leaves the 1’s and 0’s
- Sort the table by this column with 1’s and 0’s and then delete all the rows of 1’s in one shot
Viola! You’re done. Now you could do this with a SQL command, but that’s a lesson for another day.
Hey Nike – what happened to Coach Bob? Nike has been expanding their blogging program and there’s been some cool stuff up there. I enjoy reading about shoes, professional runners, and until recently, the Wisdom of Coach Bob.
We now have Coach Jay, who has written some interesting stuff, and he’s gone deep this week with biomechanics. I’m sure I will enjoy reading his stuff, but there was something about Coach Bob that gave me that “Mighty Mick training Rocky Balboa” feeling. He told you what to do, but there was always some motivation mixed in there – “Good for you for starting” and “Good for you for not giving up” kind of stuff. For runners like myself, with such great nicknames as “Runaway Train”, “Clydesdale Division”, and “Fat bastard”, I can never get too motivated.
So this is the kind of thing about blogging that freaks out normal people. I’m not some Coach Bob fanatic, I’m not about to go to Beaverton and look for him at the home office. I have a job, mortgage and family, I don’t have time for all that creepy loner nonsense, but I did enjoy reading what he had to say. How about at least a “Coach Bob has moved on to other stuff, Welcome Coach Jay” or something like that. If Coach Bob said he liked Coach Jay I’d be much happier.
At its root, marketing is an art and not a science, people are irrational. What other explanation is there for me worrying about Coach Bob?
Some interesting discussion on SEO in this week’s Marketing Over Coffee…
This is either new or I missed it in my normal stupor… but Wizzard Media, (what old school podcasters call Libsyn) is listed as one of the featured podcast networks on iTunes. There’s a great list of networks up there, it’s good to see Wizzard up there (and some member podcasts like The M Show up there – Marketing Over Coffee is not on the list but is a Wizzard Media hosted podcast).
If you’ve ever done any training you know that there’s a point you get to where you are on total autopilot. You’ve given the presentation more than 10 times and you have the material down cold. You know where the questions come up and where the jokes go.
A great way to leverage technology to add time back into your schedule is to video any training that you can. Why give 5 one-hour sessions when you could run 5 fifty minute videos and then do 50 minutes of live Q&A – adding 4 hours back to your day? And giving the attendees the ability to go back and rewind what they don’t understand without holding up the rest of the class.
When I originally started we used Viewlet Builder from Qarbon, which is great for capturing screenshots. Now we use Camtasia, which captures all activity on your screen. (Although I need to go in and see if Viewlet Cam is any good).
On the audio side we are using Mobile Pre USB boxes which can float from laptop to laptop, along with Shure SM58 mics which sound ok and are nearly indestructable.
For the content, try to keep clips under 5 minutes. Break your presentation into manageable sections so users can watch them a la carte.
Don’t worry about them being perfect, odds are you are going to have to record them over in less than a year anyway. It’s much better to have 10 videos that have some ummms, ahhhs and flubs in them than 3 perfect videos. Video content really pulls, the more you have out there the better.