Writing Well Is The Best Revenge

From the “people I don’t link to nearly often enough” file…go read Eden Kennedy. Example:

Mcd_tree_pose“So, McDonalds! What’s up with this?

This bag contained a somewhat bland sandwich consisting primarily of ground-up cow.

You offer the cow flesh sandwich in a bag that has the image of a pretty American woman demonstrating yoga.

You believe that yoga is a healthy practice, and so you like to associate health with your cow flesh sandwiches.

Yoga is a practice that was developed in a country wherein cows are traditionally allowed to roam the streets and live their happy cow lives through to their natural ends, and not have their flesh end up between two bleached-flour buns and accompanied by fries and a Coke.

Also, the pretty American woman doing vrksasana, the tree pose? On a paper bag made of? Trees!

I’M LOVIN’ IT, MCDONALD’S! A++ FOR IRONY!”

Bonus link: Yoga, as done by plastic action figures (n.b. the surgeon general advises that you finish consuming whatever beverage you have in front of you before clicking that link, lest you spew said beverage out your nose via spasmodic, very un-yogalike laughter)

Bonus link #2: Ooops, I wrong wrong. Apparently laughing yoga is ok.

Bill Marriott Joins The Blogosphere

What do you do when you run one of the most-recognized hotel chains on planet Earth, and learn there’s a better way to connect with customers and employees? If you’re Bill Marriott, you start a blog. Marriott:

“I’m venturing into uncharted territory as I launch this blog. A year ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was — until my Communications team began telling me about all the blog traffic on travel and tourism. Now I know this is where the action is if you want to talk to your customers directly — and hear back from them. Soon we’ll add an audio version of the blog. That’s how I’m most comfortable: telling stories and listening.

Blogging will allow me to do what I’ve been doing for years — on a global scale. Talking to the customer comes easily to me. I visit 250 hotels around the world every year. This year I’ll be traveling once again to China where we have 27 hotels, 16 under construction and many more in our development pipeline. At every hotel, I talk to associates, from housekeepers to general managers, to get their feedback. I call it “management by walking around.” Like my parents, I value the input from our associates at all levels. I make lots of notes — and my best ideas almost always come from our people in the field.”

Right on.

(hat tip: david gammell)

Steve Rubel Joins The “Newvoices” Movement

Edelman’s Steve Rubel has jumped on the “newvoices” bandwagon that we started a while back. (Welcome, Steve!) In case you had missed the original post regarding the “newvoices” tag, which appeared here in July, 2005, here’s what I proposed:

At least once a week, do a very simple thing. Find someone to whom you’ve never linked before, link to them, and tag the post with the following tag: newvoices.

Then, either in your aggregator, on your MyYahoo page, or wherever you want, subscribe to a feed of newvoices-tagged posts. Here’s what’ll happen: the good, emerging folks will come to you. Now for the really cool part.

This is a self-dampening system. It can’t evolve an “A-List,” since once you’ve linked to someone and tagged that initial post with a “newvoices” tag, that individual ceases to be a new voice for you. The next time you link to them, don’t tag the new post in this way, since for you, it’s no longer new. However, the really smart, cool, funny insightful folks who emerge will gather a lot of “newvoices” tagged links as they become visible. (N.B. Even if someone else has pointed to somebody with a newvoices tag, you should too! It’s not a contest to see who’s first…it’s an endorsement of someone to whom you haven’t linked previously.)

When I originally proposed the idea in July of ’05, here were the stats for posts tagged “newvoices”:

  • None on Technorati
  • None on IceRocket
  • One on del.icio.us.

Now (Jan2007) there are over a hundred on del.icio.us alone, and at least a few dozen on Technorati and IceRocket.

Let’s keep this going!

Thanks to Dan Greenfield, whose great marketing blog is Bernaise Source, for the tip! (Dan is my newvoice for the week, by the way.) Dan also writes about speedblogging, which can be thought of as a complement to the newvoices tag.

The Social Customer Manifesto Podcast 15FEB2006

click here to subscribe

Summary: Christopher Carfi and Leif Chastaine review the American Marketing Association Hot Topic series, give an update on the state of the blogosphere via Jupiter Research, Pew, and Technorati, and shine a light on “Charter Street,” the new blog from Paul McNamara and Greg Olsen. (37:42)

Show notes for February 15, 2006

The audio file is available here (MP3, 34MB), or subscribe to our RSS feed to automatically have future shows downloaded to your MP3 player.

00:00 – Intro

01:00American Marketing Association Hot Topic overview : podcasting, video blogging, word of mouth marketing, RSS, interactive social networking, Bill Flitter (Pheedo), Dave Evans (Digital Voodoo), Willow Baum Lundgren (Umbria), Randy Moss (ACS), Napoleon Dynamite, Vote for Pedro

06:00Jupiter Research, online demographic study, teen influencers, patterns of online/offline usage

11:15Pew Internet and American Life, online usage (men and women), difference in online usage by boomers (note: PDF doc)

18:00 – State of the Blogosphere (Dave Sifry, Technorati, Part 1, Part 2), 27.2 million blogs online. 75,000 new blogs per day, Comparison of blogs and mainstream media reach (e.g. NYTimes), Huffington Post, Instapundit

31:30 Importance of tagging as a component of search

32:00 Charter Street blog launched, Versai Technology; SGI; Red Hat; El Dorado Ventures; Paul McNamara & Greg Olsen, startups, virtual companies, and “going bedouin

37:05 – Wrapup

The Social Customer Manifesto Podcast 3FEB2006

click here to subscribe

Summary: Leif Chastaine and Christopher Carfi discuss Yahoo’s strategy, Google’s censorship, the remix culture and customer “co-creation” of products, the American Marketing Association’s “Ahead of the Curve” session in Scottsdale, and this week’s RIM/BlackBerry update. (33:06)

Show notes for February 3, 2006

The audio file is available here (MP3, 32MB), or subscribe to our RSS feed to automatically have future shows downloaded to your MP3 player.

00:00 : Intro

01:04 : Yahoo “quits” the search race? Or do they?

09:08 : Google image censorship and strategy

16:30 : The importance of customer “co-creation” of products

27:30 : RIM: “Non-final” judgement regarding BlackBerry is just that

31:45 : Social Networking: Ahead of the Curve (Scottsdale)

32:23 : Wrapup

Links:
Dave Taylor (“What do Yahoo, Apple and Ferrari have in common?”), Yahoo quits, Yahoo gives up, Yahoo content to be Google’s footstool, Yahoo gives up race with Google, Steve Rubel, Google image censorship, Paul Greenberg, BPT Partners, customer co-creation, NTP=”No Tenable Patents?”, RIM patent dispute, AMA High Tech Trends in Marketing

Firsthand Blogging Accounts Of Healing and Conservation, Live From The Rainforest

Todd2
My amigo Dr. Todd Pesek has just set up his new blog, Healing Space. His first post is here.

Denise and I have been helping him get it set up and launched. It’s kinda like what Hugh did with English Cut, but in the rainforest.

If you’re interested in health or conservation, Todd is someone who should be on your radar. Got his M.D. from the the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Founded his company Earth Healers to do eco-learning tours and to find ways to bridge the gap between standard “Western” healing and things that have been learned by indigenous cultures over the past few millenia. Is a director of the Naturaleza Foundation, which concentrates on global health/wellness, sustainable agriculture, education and cultural awareness. And is, in general, a helluva guy.

He’s also a listener and a learner. (At the risk of gross generalization, I’ve known plenty of people with similar credentials who were certain they knew it all, regardless of the topic…just ask ’em! Todd is not one of those people.) As such, when we were setting up his blog, he wanted to be certain that he would be able to engage in conversation with folks who came to the site via his comments.

I assured him that the blogosphere was not shy.

So, anyone up for going on a learning trip to Machu Picchu? Getting on a plane to Belize to find out firsthand about surviving in the jungle? Going on a biodiversity retreat in Guatemala? If so, give Todd a shout.

(Subscribed. His RSS feed is here: Healing Space.)

The CEO Blogging Trail

Axel Schultze, CEO of BlueRoads, had the following answers to the questions I posed in this post. Schultze:

“Very good and valid questions. Some answers:

1) Also CEO’s are human beings and have peers. So executive blogging will find it’s peers.

2) The blog will not replace 1:1 connections and relations. But if a CEO like me has roughly 5,000 personal contacts and roughly 200,000 customer contacts, touching each and everybody in person every week is REALLY difficult.

3) Ghost-Written? No! While my press releases are prepared by PR agencies and news letters by marketing and other media by other people, at least my blog is my “normal voice” :-). And one can tell by my style, grammer and the little spelling errors here and there.

Axel”

(n.b. Axel’s blog can be found here)

Point (2) is the gimme. And point (3) is spot-on.

Point (1), however, is the really interesting one. “Executive blogging will find its peers.” Hold that thought.

(context: I’m just off the plane, just back from Cambridge and Corante’s Symposium on Social Architecture. So, naturally, everything is getting filtered through that lens. More folks talking about CoranteSSA here.)

Blogs, of course, are social media. They let us connect, and converse, and interact in a human way.

Now, back to where we were. “Executive blogging will find its peers.” Hadn’t thought about the implication of that statement until I read Axel’s comment. When put through the “social” lens, what this means, to me at least, is that we’re going to start to see networks develop…visible networks…of executive bloggers. And what we’re going to see from there is the boardroom equivalent of the digital divide. One one side, we’ll see networks and clusters of interconnected executive bloggers (“peers”), who respect and challenge and publicly debate each others strategies, compliment and complement each others’ successes, and call each other out on their mis-steps.

On the flip side we’ll see the ossified companies, with their polished, impenetrable façades of business-as-usual.

Which side you think will be more successful in the long run?

tag:

Heavens To Marketroid!

Steve Hall asks, what if there was a “Customer Conversations Department?” Hall:

“I’d…suggest the creation of an entirely new discipline headed by a director of customer/consumer conversation/dialog. The sole responsibility if this person/department would be to converse and listen to the consumers with no interest in selling product.

This is not achieved though doing surveys or hosting focus groups or through agency account planning efforts. It is achieved by talking to customers/consumers as one would if they were discussing a product at a cookout or dinner party. This is not stuff that can be rolled up neatly into a spreadsheet of a PowerPoint presentation. This is roll-the-sleeves-up, get-dirty-with-the-customer conversation.”

I.love.it. But it shouldn’t be a “department.” It may need to start that way, but ultimately every person within an organization who comes in contact with a customer:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Support
  • Product Marketing
  • Delivery
  • Executives
  • etc.

needs to feel this way. Why? Because, customers don’t interact with a silo’d “department.” And every customer has the ability to talk about his or her experience with the company via these crazy, newfangled blog thingers…regardless of which department was involved in the interaction.

Tom Hespos runs with this idea. Hespos:

“I think we can agree that comparatively few companies have made any sort of investment in opening and continuing meaningful dialogue with their customers online. We’ve got the broadcast model to thank for that. As you know, when you’re holding a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. When folks are out there praising or panning a product or brand, corporations tend to look at the problem as a mass marketing problem. In reality, most of the panning can be dealt with effectively by empowering somebody to join the conversation, actually listen, and take the feedback to the company for incorporation. Most of the praise can be greatly amplified in the same way.”

and Doc pushes it further:

“This is a provocative proposition. What Tom’s talking about here is going way beyond the rogue Scoble, or even the hundreds (thousands?) inside companies like Microsoft and Sun. We’re talking here about changing marketing’s function (or a large part of it) from messaging to conversation.”

(Be sure to check out the spot-on comment from Mike Taht, which has a couple of great thoughts on what out-of-work marketers can put on their cardboard signs.)

This is the right direction. There are a few fundamental things that need to occur to keep this snowball rolling, however.

Per the comments from the others above, execs in organizations from the smallest to the largest need to get whupped upside the head with the clue mackerel, and understand what’s happening here.

Folks on the front lines need to get out of the “transactional” mindset, and start thinking about conversations, and relationships and communities.

Systems need to change. Existing (so-called) customer relationship management systems don’t get us there. Actually, I take that back. CRM systems could get us there, if the individuals using them started thinking about using the systems as tools to track persistent conversations over time (note: link is a PDF), as opposed to being tools that sales management uses to know how soon they need to warn Wall Street that they’re going to miss their quarter. (Don’t even get me started on the whole “living life one quarter at a time” mindset thing. Grrr.)

And, finally, from the “do-ocracyside of things, we, as customers, need to be rationally vocal when we are treated poorly (or ignored). As customers, we need to continue to let our service providers know when they are screwing up, through all means available. They can’t listen if we don’t talk, and write, and start voting with our wallets when they blow it.

So, my question to you…what do we need to do next to keep this going?

Links, all in one tidy place:

Related posts from The Social Customer Manifesto:

Who’s Listens To Blogs? Andreesen, Bradbury, Rhodes, Sifry, Wyman…

Alex Barnett pulls together a definitive Cluetrain / “markets are conversations” post.

Example one from Alex:

“The first of the three events this week is to do with splogs – spam via RSS feeds and blogs. I posted about my experience of the problem and called out:

“Question to the feed search engine folks…(David Sifry, Blake Rhodes, Bill Bob Wyman are you listening?)…how do we stop this? Can we? It can’t be good for your business if this kind of thing takes off, can it?”

Within 24 hours David, Blake and Bob each posted a comment on my blog, acknowledging the industry-wide issue and confirming their companies’ commitment to solving the problem.”

Ok, cool. But all the folks above are in the blog business, so maybe it’s not that surprising. Which leads to example 2…Alex wonders…what the heck does “Ning” do?

Alex: “I speculated on a couple of revenue models and wrote, tongue-in-cheek…’Good question…Marc Andreessen might but hasn’t share the biz-plan me yet. Are you there Marc?'”

A few hours later, what does he find? A comment from Andreesen.

“Alex — your description of what we are trying to do is very well said. It’s an experiment, but those are the goals.

We are going to see if we can generate enough revenue through a blend of advertising (like Google, Yahoo, etc.) and premium services to be able to support what we are doing, including the free developer accounts.”

Brilliant. The third? Alex notes a functional deficiency in FeedDemon, “The file can’t be exported (OPML, would be nice Nick?…anything!)” What does he find two days later in his comments from Nick Bradbury?

“Just wanted to let you know that I’ve added OPML export of the reports to the next build of FeedDemon – expect to see this in RC2.”

It’s so easy for a company to do this. Set up an RSS feed to listen. Listen to it. If a customer has a question or concern, take the few seconds required to answer it on their turf. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Scratch that. It’s not easy for a “company” to do this. It’s so easy for a person to do this. Companies (despite their legal existence as “entities”) really can’t do anything on their own. They don’t walk. They don’t talk. They don’t bathe. They can’t communicate.

People communicate. That’s where relationships happen. Between people.

(hat tip: Kevin Briody)