Getting Away From McMarketing

Carolyn Elefant has a great piece up today entitled “McMarketing vs. The Real Deal.” Good stuff, generalizable to any industry.

Some juicy bits:

“It’s pretty clear that law marketing has invaded large firm practice – and guess what? They’re all doing the same thing. Two large firm attorneys spoke at the conference that I attended; both had the requisite power point presentations which they’d also printed out on paper emblazoned with the firm logo and contact information. Both attorneys gave polished presentations, explaining just enough, in general terms – but not “giving away the store.” In other words, none of the papers cited the statutory support for the matters discussed or listed references where people might go to learn more. So, that I gathered is Practice 1 of Biglaw McMarketing – give away enough to make ’em call you, but no more.”

(By the way, McMarketing Practice 2 is “Be Elusive,” and Practice 3, “Speak To Industry Associations.”)

Although Carolyn, a solo practitioner, was presenting against The Big Names on the card, let’s see what happened at the end of the day:

“Finally, here’s the beauty of not following marketing rules sometimes and just going with the flow. By the end of the conference, the rumblings about starting a trade association became a true organized effort and I was drafted as Legislative Director and interviewed for the local TV station. Because of my blogging background (naturally, I touted my professional blog during my talk), I was able to throw together a website for our fledgling organization while others started the efforts on the Hill. Had I just waltzed into the conference and left after my talk, this opportunity never would have fallen into my lap. Only I know it really didn’t fall, it’s the product of a foundation that I’ve been laying in this field for at least a decade. ” (emphasis added)

Doing generic presentations with PowerPoint is pretty near the top of the list of Things That Are The Devil. (Happy to add that I think it’s been at least three years since I walked into a customer meeting with a presentation, unless it was specifically requested. The look of circuits popping when calmly stating “No, no presentation…actually was hoping we could chat and you could help us better understand what problems you are having” is priceless.)

While on the subject, here’s a clue. All press releases look the same. Yeah, you’ve written one like this at some point in your career (and, guilty as charged, I have too):

[Company name], a [noted | leading | large] provider of [insert industry name here] solutions is [happy | pleased | thrilled] to announce [a new customer | a new product].

[Paragraph with lame details here]

[Paragraph with glowing quote from executive here, that was written by someone else]

[Paragraph with contrived quote from a customer here, that was written by someone else]

[Paragraph from a “Noted Industry Analyst”&reg here, that took three weeks to get approved through the analyst’s business prevention department]

[Pollyanna penultimate paragraph painting priceless predictions for the future of the industry]

[About Company X, a rehash of the lame stuff in the first sentence of the first paragraph]

I can hear the cries now…”Oh, we can’t be creative and do things differently. We wouldn’t look like the others in our industry, then. And besides that, it’s hard.”

That’s why it’s worth doing.

Great Business Blogging Article From CIO Insight

Ed Cone has just published an in-depth article on enterprise blogging, entitled “Rise of the Blog” in CIO Insight.

A very well written piece. A particularly spot-on assessment was:

“By enabling comments on its blogs, Sun can get a look at what mix of customers, partners, developers and employees is frequenting its sites, and respond to them. Customers who used to interact only with their salesperson can now communicate with members of the product team.”

DING! This really is the meat of this conversation. Sun’s folks seem to agree.

Jonathan Schwartz – “There’s an immediacy of interaction you can get with your audience through blogging that’s hard to get any other way, except by face-to-face communication. There’s no other way any individual, never mind someone who’s running a company as large as Sun, could speak face-to-face with that large an audience on a regular basis.”

Tim Bray – “This is a fantastically effective listening device. Customers are coming to us directly as bloggers. People see us do something wrong or stupid, or missing a chance, and they tell us. We get dozens of comments a week that can help us, and they go to the right people—how else is a smart guy in Cleveland going to find the relevant person at a computer company with 30,000 employees?”

This is the vanguard of this thinking, and really is presaging a move towards real customer interaction, as opposed to the things that have been called “CRM” but are really tools for managing sales teams and the Street.

Another bit in there that really stood out was the reference that Jared Spataro of Open Text made regarding the internal use of blogs as a communications medium during the integration phase of M&A activities. (Would have liked to have seen more depth on this; it sounds like a great application.)

Of course, David Weinberger gets the digging quote, saying that “public-facing blogs with voices that sound recognizably human will kill the ‘pompous and inhuman’ tone used in much corporate-speak.”


BusinessWeek Business Blogging Cover Story Nails It

The cover story of the current issue of BusinessWeek sums it up well: “Blogs Will Change Your Business.”

Reading through the article, the one quote that resonated (and continues to do so) was this one: “Your customers and rivals are figuring blogs out. Our advice: Catch up…or catch you later.” It definitely feels like we’re at the inflection point; about to hit Geoffrey Moore’s chasm with respect to business blogging.

A couple of interesting tidbits:

Tidbit 1 – BW has launched, their own actual, honest-to-goodness blog to cover the emerging area of blogs and business. To Heather, Steve, and the rest of the BW team…nice job!

Tidbit 2 – They also did a nice job pulling together a quick list of things to consider when launching a business blogging initiative. (Unfortunately, BW buried the link in a place requiring serious excavation in order to find it.) The highlights:

  • Train Your Bloggers
  • Be Careful with Fake Blogs
  • Track Blogs
  • PR Truly Means Public Relations
  • Be Transparent
  • Rethink Your Corporate Secrets

Boilers are stoked. Pressure is right. It’s time for this train to leave the station.

Although the quote noted above is spot on, the customer angle, and the “how are people really addressing business blogging” aspects were glossed over a bit in the article. (However, considering the article’s breadth, that’s understandable.) That being said, still would have like to have seen more case studies, and more examples of the different ways organizations are using blogs to connect with customers.

PRspeak-to-English Translator of the Adobe-Macromedia Merger FAQ

Heh. Here’s the whole thing.

A few excerpts:

Question: What is the mission of the combined company?
Answer: “Adobe’s mission remains the same — to help people and businesses communicate better. With the acquisition of Macromedia, Adobe strengthens its mission through the combination of leading-edge development, authoring and collaboration tools — and the complementary functionality of PDF and Flash.”

Translated Answer: “Where by ‘complementary’ we mean ‘the two leading technologies that irritate people when they’re used in lieu of regular web pages.’ Note that we’re using PDF to serve this very FAQ — in our synergistic future, perhaps we’ll serve our FAQs in a hybrid PDF/Flash format. One can dream.”

Question: How many employees does Macromedia have?
Answer: “Macromedia has approximately 1,450 employees worldwide.”

Translated answer: “Please note use of present tense.”

Question: How many employees does Adobe have?
Answer: “Adobe has approximately 4,000 employees worldwide.”

Translated answer: “Ditto regarding use of present tense. Please also note that PDF is an excellent format for sending out résumés.”

Read the whole thing. (hat tip: john)

Corporate Logo Tattoos: Literal Corporate Branding

When branding becomes “branding,” I s’pose.

Excerpt: “In an attempt to form personal and social identities, consumers begin to identify with the dominant discourse of consumer culture. Corporate logo tattoo consumers are thus expressing collective representations of consumer culture, not individual representations of individuality. “

The whole thing is here: Corporate Logo Tattoos: Literal Corporate Branding

What do folks think about this? I’ve always viewed tattoos and other types of body mods as a sort of the ultimate personalization, taking something that has been given to you (via genetics and heredity), and hacking it in a way that makes it even more uniquely yours. (I still think the mark I’ve seen that has struck me as the most personal is that of a good friend who has “DNR” tattooed on his sternum…a crystal clear reminder to self that anything can happen to anyone at any time, and to make every day count if there ever was one.)

I suppose I can even see the point of tattooing as a mark of identification with a small, unique group; a shibboleth of sorts. A tangible, permanent show of community membership. But something like this? I don’t get it. Can someone ‘splain?

Can You Hear Me Now? I Said “Our Customers Can Piss Off.”

Seidenberg, table for one? Your clue-by-four is ready.

Alert reader Dan Jewett sent in a link (thanks, Dan!) to this past weekend’s SFChron interview with Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg. And a doozy it is. The choicest quote:

“Seidenberg, for instance, said people often complain about mobile phone service because they have unrealistic expectations about a wireless service working everywhere. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone, is the state’s largest mobile phone provider.

Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?’ he said. ‘The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement.

Seidenberg said it’s not Verizon’s responsibility to correct the misconception by giving out statistics on how often Verizon’s service works inside homes or by distributing more detailed coverage maps, showing all the possible dead zones. He pointed out that there are five major wireless networks, none of which works perfectly everywhere.” (emphasis added)

Wow. I’m not a Verizon customer. Nor is Sunil Pandey, but here are his questions for Seidenberg:

“Ummm.. Mr. Seidenberg, I’m not a Verizon Wireless customer, but those who are, are *paying* for the service, you’re not doing a charity for them! obviously they will have expectations! Calling them unrealistic is basically insulting your customers, and I don’t think anyone can stay in the business for too long by doing that. If too many customers are complaining about something, perhaps there is something wrong with you, not with them! … So, what comes next? ‘Why in the world would you think your DSL should be faster than dial-up?’ ‘Why in the world do you think your land line should work 24 hrs a day?'”

“First you have that ‘can your hear me now’ ad campaign and now you are giving lame excuses?”

It also appears that the folks over at Gawker have been having problems with them for a while, too. A really long while.

Any other good Verizon stories out there?

Offtopic Shiny Thing: The word “doozy” derives not from from Duesenberg, but from “daisy,” through this etymology.

CSL: The List You Don’t Want To Be On

First tripped across Jory Des Jardins through her association with the upcoming BlogHer conference. She’s started a great regular feature, centered around real experiences that customers are having with companies. She describes it thusly:

“I think it’s important for companies to understand the grief and not think I’m some crazy trying to pull together a griping militia. It will also be open to anyone who wants to send me a gripe–with one caveat: I want a story. I want emotion, and DETAILS (‘Microsoft Sux’ won’t cut it). I want to feel your pain.

“Despite my penchant for volume, your anecdote needn’t be long, or well-punctuated for that matter. My objective is to create healthy conversations about products and services”

To date, Jory and her readers have had a few thousand choice words for Michael Dell’s company, in particular. The most recent entry contains a particular saying that needs to be tattooed, in reverse, on the sternum of every person on the planet who makes his or her living in PR or marketing or sales:

“Life is too short to have to deal with people who read from scripts.”

Right on.

(Oh, and Jory…here’s a story for you as well. Check the comments, in particular…)

It’s People!

Over the past couple of weeks, have been fortunate to have had conversations with nearly two dozen C-level execs, about how they choose their business partners (in this case, suppliers). And from this set of conversations, what’s important to them?

  • Is it “price?” Somewhat, but not so much. “Just be in the ballpark.”
  • Mind-blowing technology? Not really. Not so much.
  • Process. Yes, to a degree. Have a plan to show what’s going to get done by when, and how it’s going to get measured.

But, almost across the board, they’ve been saying things that are much more surprising. Talking about “cultural fit” and using words like “comfortable.” Saying they chose Company A over Company B because Company B’s people “put on airs.”

Relationships aren’t dead. Not by a long shot.

Offtopic Shiny Thing: With a headline like that, how could I not link to this?

Community Chat (Podcast)

Had the pleasure of a great conversation with Jake McKee ( and Lee LeFever ( this weekend. Jake suggested it a couple of weeks back, it took a little while for us to get it set up, but here it is.

So, I suppose one could think of this as sort of a Gillmor Gang-type discussion, but with two differences:

  • The conversation is more focused around community and conversations, rather than the more IT-related issues; and
  • We’re still doing it (grin)

This is definitely an emerging area, and (based on feedback, natch) this may evolve into a regular gig.

Show topics:

– Intros
– BzzAgent, and its implications for ethics, customer communities and the media
– The Chuch of the Customer podcast
– A few bits on the recent Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) conference in Chicago

Links referenced:
Church of the Customer
The Social Customer Manifesto