One Exhausting Post!

This amazing post wore me out just in “quick scan” mode – I can only imagine the work that went into creating it!

Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2007 -  Over 250 links, consolidated by Tamar Weinberg (Techipedia), on just about every topic imaginable touching on internet marketing. Lots of gems here!

Age of Conversation Revisited!

Yes, it’s that time – perhaps an annual event now? – the call for authors has gone out for a collaborative marketing book.

alien_aoc.jpgLast year’s Age of Conversation was a great experience. This year, it should be even better.

Who has “signed up” so far? Well, at least this group has gone public (and surely others are sharpening their keyboards once the topic is announced):

Drew McLellan, Luc Debaiseieux, Ryan Karpeles, Greg Verdino, Lori Magno, Gavin Heaton, Connie Reece, The Kaiser, Katie Chatfield, Tim Jackson, Doug Meacham, C.B. Whittemore, Becky Carroll, Gordon Whitehead, Daniel B. Honigman, Daria Rasmussen, Jay Ehret, Jasmin Tragas, Jamey Shiels, Organic Frog, Bill Gammell, Nathan Snell, Stephen Landau, Stephen Collins, Stephen Smith, Mark Earls, Steven Verbruggen, Neil Perkin, Brett Macfarlane, Dino Demopoulos, Chris Wilson, Asi Sharabi, Angela Maiers, Sandy Renshaw, Steve Woodruff

Here’s the place to go if you’re interested in signing up (from Drew McClellan’s blog).

The authors from Age of Conversation:
Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
CK
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Sacrum
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Luc Debaisieux
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Robert Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Kris Hoet
G.Kofi Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Polinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman
Neil Vineberg

Then, of course, there’s the upcoming Blogger Social, where real live face-to-face conversation will be happening for one glorious weekend in NYC. CK has all the info over on her blog – but you need to sign up by February 15th! Here’s who is signed up to attend so far:

Susan Bird Tim Brunelle Katie Chatfield Terry Dagrosa Matt Dickman Luc Debaisieux Gianandrea Facchini Mark Goren Gavin Heaton Sean Howard CK Valeria Maltoni Drew McLellan Doug Meacham Marilyn Pratt Steve Roesler Greg Verdino CB Whittemore Steve Woodruff Paul McEnany Ann Handley David Reich Tangerine Toad Kristin Gorski Mack Collier David Armano Ryan Barrett Lori Magno Tim McHale Gene DeWitt Mario Vellandi Arun Rajagopal Joseph Jaffe Rohit Bhargava Anna Farmery Marianne Richmond Thomas Clifford Lewis Green Geoff Livingston Kris Hoet Connie Reece CeCe Lee Jonathan Trenn Toby Bloomberg Seni Thomas Darryl Ohrt Debbie Weil Marshall Sponder Chris Kieff Tara Anderson Joe Kutchera Paul Dunay

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Off-Target Blogging

off-target.jpgAmy Jussel of Shaping Youth took aim at a Target promotion that, in her opinion, was promoting a promiscuous approach.

Target’s reply to this blogger was quite enlightening:

“We are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets. This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.”

Ahhh, so now we in the blogging community – the non-traditional media outlet types – are unworthy of attention. Somehow, Target must have obtained some inside information that NO-ONE WHO WRITES OR READS BLOGS shops at Target.

What a dis. And since the story was then picked up by the NY Times (and others), how short-sighted. My guess is that Target will soon pay a lot more attention to “non-traditional media outlets.”

More here, from CNet.

Pharma Web Branding, Part 7 – Abbott

In my occasional series on how effectively pharma companies present themselves on their website home pages, today we arrive at Abbott labs (Abbott.com).

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I will admit right off that I’ve never been a fan of the Abbott logo. I find it singularly uninspiring and I wish that a company that has so much going for it would project a more engaging image. And, the first thing that I noticed on this page was the sub-optimal way the logo is treated, in 2 respects:

    1. The main huge “A” (too big, btw) on the top left is crowded way over to the edge of the screen – no visual buffer. This isn’t Internet 1997 – such placements are easy to control, and this presentation is jarring.
    2. The “Abbott” name just to the right of the huge “A” is a different typeface than the one over at the top right. That’s just wrong. Graphic Design 101 – you have one logo, one typeface, one image.

OK, that’s out of my system. Now, on to white space. Interesting, this site has a lot of it – but unfortunately, it is poorly used. It has what I call “scary” white space – disproportionate placement of the elements in a sea of white, so the viewer feels disoriented. The graphic in the middle seems like Kon-tiki drifting in the vast Pacific. There are too many varying shapes and sizes that don’t fit “pleasingly” in the white.

At least there is a tease to view a patient story front-and-center, which is an element I believe is very important for companies in our industry. However, the rest of the navigation scheme is strictly in the ho-hum “list” motif – “here’s a whole set of links to stuff, find what you want.” That doesn’t crystallize, for the viewer, who Abbott is – what is this company about? What is the mission? What is unique? Why should I care? By this, I don’t mean some dry mission statement. I mean a punchy, summary phrase that immediately grabs my interest and pulls me into the Abbott story (note: the first link under Features, at the bottom of the above graphic, could be a great angle – the story of founder Wallace Abbott).

Once you get past the home page, into the sub-menus, the site is quite pedestrian – a very basic and non-engaging design. I would classify this site as firmly rooted in the past – a Web 1.0 “let’s present information” design that hasn’t yet grown up into effective engagement. It’s safe, it’s conservative – it’s there. Abbott can do better.

Prior pharma website reviews (contained on my Impactiviti pharma-focused blog):

Wyeth

GSK

Pfizer

J&J

Novartis

Sanofi-Aventis

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 1_26

Who doesn’t like to save money? Here’s a page with 21 money-savings sites around the web.

Create your own, instant, no-cost, ad-hoc chat room on-line (ChatMaker).

Fun with time-lapse photography. 13 very cool time-lapse wonders. It’s hard to pick a favorite, though the Milky Way clip is really astonishing. This is a 3/4 cup of coffee stop on the web, so give yourself a few minutes…!

Do’s and don’ts with babies. Hysterical.

7 Wonders – some interesting links to various “7 Wonders”. You’ll have to go there to find out more.

Simple math. This is why I quit any further mathematics study in my first year in college.

If the same wine is either $90 or $10, does it taste the same? You might be surprised to find out

Make your own wine review! This “generator” will allow you to weave in all the upper crust wine descriptions at the press of a button! (example: In the glass, this wine opens up beautifully to offer rich, dense and intensely flavored qualities. This wine is soft and succulent in feel and flavor, with notes of mustard seed and cheese puffs remaining in the forefront thanks to mercifully subtle use of oak. This would be exquisite paired with richer pastas, wild mushroom risotto, grilled salmon and herb-crusted pork tenderloin.)

I laughed so hard it hurt. Forwarded by a sister-in-law: Mrs. Hughes. If you have kids, you’ll especially enjoy this!

Dick’s buys Chick’s

You can’t make this stuff up. Headline spotted this week:

Dick’s Sporting Goods Agrees to Acquire Chick’s Sporting Goods

I guess that’s one way to keep it all in the family. I knew I should have launched a Rick’s Sporting Goods!

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A Jeep on the Altar

One minor scratch.

cherokee-tbone-sm.jpgThat was the toll, on a rainy and rather traumatic night this past week. Yes, the Jeep was totaled after being thoroughly T-boned by an 18-wheeler, but the driver – my son – walked away with only one scratch.

And that is why we bought the Cherokee in the first place. So, consider this an advertisement for selecting first cars that offer some significant protection in an accident, when your kids are of driving age.

And, consider it one more advertisement for the Amica Insurance company, whose customer service I have praised on this blog before. Before we could even get down to the stricken car the next day to remove personal effects, the adjuster had already been there, and within two days of the accident, we had a full report, followed the next day by a phone call to clarify a few items as the settlement was being calculated. As I’ve told various friends, when it comes to price comparisons, this is one of the only areas of life where I don’t even bother. Decades of stellar customer service have convinced me that I can’t possibly find a better insurance company.

All that aside, we are incredibly grateful to God for preserving our son in what could have been a horrible event. As much as I hated seeing that totaled vehicle getting hauled off, I felt nothing but gratitude that it (like a sheep on the altar) took the blow, while my son walked away. I never before considered how the theme of vicarious sacrifice might apply to cars…

Top 5 things to do while stranded at the airport

It happens to all of us, of course. “Due to Air Traffic Control delays at your destination, your flight is going to be (significantly late / canceled / diverted to Duluth, MN / dangled tantalizingly in front of you for the next 5 hours, then postponed until tomorrow morning…)” – you know the drill.

And here I am, typing away in the airport, while hundreds around me board planes that actually seem to intend to get airborne. So what do you do, when the work is wrapped up, and idle time stretches interminably ahead?

Here are 5 ways to entertain yourself when your status on the video monitor is “terminal”:

cinnabon.jpg1. Stand in front of the Cinnabon outlet and breathe deeply. Ten times. Then call your spouse and boast about how you have successfully resisted excruciating temptation.

2. Let your eyes wander over all those self-help book titles in the little news and book store, snort quietly, and tell yourself that you could easily write one of those and make a fortune. Resign yourself to the fact that you’re in the wrong business, but hey, if only you could do it over again…
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3. Wander up and down the terminal hallway and look for that junior high crush you always hoped you’d see again. You won’t. But you’ve just productively burned off 10 unproductive minutes, and you will see someone that looks like your high school janitor.

4. Envy all the Tumi luggage you see being wheeled about by smug and successful looking business persons. Stride on over to the airport luggage store, let your jaw drop in amazement at the prices all those spoiled prima donnas have paid for their designer baggage, and stalk out feeling downright superior that your middle-of-the-road thingie from Samsonite proves that you understand value over style, thank you very much.

be-a-tiger.jpg5. Stare at those ubiquitous Accenture/Tiger Woods posters, feel the impact of the inevitable ego hit, then do a self-affirmation that, while you’re not going to be a tiger, you might at least be a pretty decent sort of housecat.

You’ve prowled the claustrophobic halls of transfrustration. What time-killing activities would you add in the Comments?

Game-changer? What do you think?

Very cool – an “open-source” hackable and universal digital video recorder (article from the NY Times). The manufacturer is inviting people to improve both the hardware and software, and the device sounds downright versatile.

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What do you think – a portent of things to come?

(image credit)

The Hidden Life of Drew McLellan

OK, four (or more) can play at this game. Shel Israel tagged two of our lovely ladies of blogging, Toby Bloomberg and Lizsecret.jpg Strauss, to reveal deep and dark secrets about themselves. Both Toby and Liz rebelled, and instead revealed faux secrets about Shel.

Drew McLellan picked it up, and decided to reveal some secrets about Toby and Liz.

Well, we can’t let that Iowa boy get away scot-free. So, below are 8 previously-unrevealed secrets about Drew, culled from the microfiche archives of the National Enquirer:

1. Drew once played football on a professional NFL team. However, there was so much collaboration going on in the huddle, that his team was endlessly penalized for “delay of game.” Only after being cut from the team did he get into his marketing gig.

2. Drew is originally from Greenland. Only four other living souls share that distinction, and three of them are certifiably insane. The other one blogs as “Tangerine Toad.”

3. Drew’s favorite color is Clear. His windows, at least, are very fashionable. Do not ask him to buy clothes, however.

4. Drew was a bit part actor in the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He’s the one that snuck ZuZu’s petals back into Jimmy Stewart’s pocket.

5. Drew holds 5 patents on a process for turning tapioca pudding into artificial turf. Thus far, no takers. However, there is some serious interest in his chocolate goalpost concept (though not in Phoenix and Miami).

6. Drew’s genome was sequenced all the way back in 1991, but the backup floppy disks were lost in a fire in Des Moines’ only sushi bar.

7. Drew puts ketchup on his Cheerios.

8. Drew actually does not exist. That picture on his blog is a cardboard cutout. At the Blogger Social ’08, we’ll all find out that Drew McLellan is actually Paul McEnany.

I think all these deep dark secrets of marketing bloggers ought to surface in the next 3 months, before the Social. Who has the goods on David Reich??

Monkey goes wild on world tour!

For a while, all seemed orderly. Curious George, the Age of Conversation mascot, was making the rounds on his world tour – when suddenly, he broke free of his restraints and began to exert his curious nature!

curious-george-escapes.jpgFirst, it was all the partying and bar-hopping with the NYC crowd. OK, you let a monkey out of his cage and he goes a bit wild – we can accept that. But then he started going “underground” for long stretches, refusing to move along to his next destination (carefully choreographed in a most logical pattern by his tour director). Now, he suddenly pops up on the scene at Rishi Desai’s blog, with a cryptic note about escaping over the fence to Ohio (rumor has it that he plans to visit with Matt Dickman)!

So, this curious creature with a mind of his own is temporarily bypassing his responsibilities to complete the Northeast leg of his tour, and now may be jumping unpredictably from blogger to blogger, without clear rhyme or reason. Where will he end up next? Stay tuned…nobody really knows!

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(Today’s Wall Street Journal expands on the theme of escaping animals!)

The saddest post you’ll read today

A blogging soldier has been killed in Iraq. He left one final post, to be published in the event of his death.

It’s gut-wrenching. I’ll just link to it without further comment.

Lights, Camera…Interaction!

How valuable is our growing blogging network?

Well, here’s an example from the recent holidays. My oldest son is very interested in a career in film production/direction, and I’ve begun to reach into my network of contacts to try to find guidance and advice (Nate was in a “magnet” high school with an emphasis on Performing and Digital Arts, and is now in his first year of college).

woodruffs-and-directortom.jpgEnter Tom Clifford, prolific blogger over at DirectorTom and fellow Age of Conversation author.

As it turns out, Tom lives and labors in central Connecticut, near my home town, and we were going to be up there briefly to visit family. Tom agreed to meet us at a Starbucks the day after Christmas, and generously gave 2 hours of his time to ask questions, give advice, critique Nate’s portfolio, and, overall, provide delightful company. What a joy it was to interact with such a warm and sharing spirit – and it certainly was an encouragement to my aspiring son.

directortom.jpgSure enough, to ease identification for our first meeting, Tom was wearing his trademark jaunty director’s cap (the black beret, ubiquitous on all his photos), though as you can see from the image above, when the cap comes off, Tom might get rather chilly in the winter! Is this the first public unveiling of the upper regions of Tom’s pate??

A couple other blogging friends have also volunteered to look over Nate’s “stuff” and provide input and perhaps some contacts – I can’t express how grateful it makes me to be part of this supportive and sharing community. Can’t wait to meet many more of you at the Blogger Social in 90 days!

Counter-culture Marketing

There’s always a market for going against the tide. Look no further than the surprising political candidacy of Ron Paul, maverick Republican/Libertarian running for U.S. President.

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(Disclaimer: this is not a political post per se, but a marketing post that touches on a political phenomenon. For my part, I actually haven’t decided who I’d vote for in the upcoming presidential election).

Ron Paul’s campaign is a great illustration of WOM (Word-of-Mouth) marketing. He doesn’t seem to have much of a professional staff orchestrating things. What has happened is that he has bunches of rabid fans who self-organize to raise money, campaign actively, and even create and fly a blimp! How many of us would like to develop a customer base that would go to such extremes!

This candidacy is a social-media fueled phenomenon, and it works because it taps into something very American – being counter-cultural.

Apple has always been counter-cultural. Unix users are of a similar (more technical) breed. Elvis was counter-cultural. Hybrid cars (at first, anyway) were counter-cultural.

In more recent political history, Jimmy Carter and Ross Perot were counter-cultural. People that either come in from the outside, or (much more difficult) who remain relatively untainted while on the inside, can tap into this vein, while those “in the mainstream” cannot. It is probably safe to assume that every culture has its sub-group that feels compelled to swim upstream, and that isn’t always bad if the river is flowing in the wrong direction.

Counter-cultural rebels value purity and focus, and don’t like compromise. They prefer to overthrow existing institutions, usually seeing it as hopeless to change them from within (fanatical terrorists, more ominously, are numbered in this group, marketing destruction as the means toward the end of some form of purification).

Those who see themselves as counter-cultural can be fabulous customers – but don’t step on their toes by diluting the message or by “backsliding”!

There will always be a sizable population of rebels, and they can be fanatical in their attachment to causes. That’s why it’ll be interesting to see how far this swell of support carries Ron Paul, or other such counter-cultural candidates in future years. In the meantime, as marketers, we are faced with an interesting proposition: at what point do we position ourselves and/or our offerings as counter-cultural? Jump into the comments and share what you think have been effective c-c marketing efforts – or those that failed due to miscalculation or insincerity.

(More from the Wall Street Journal on the success of the anti-establishment message in Iowa)

One more quarter..

…before the big Blogger Social in NYC. Yep, just 3 months away, and Drew and CK and others (esp. Mark Goren, with the cool video) continue the great promotion.

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Hope you can show up and join us!

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