Branding the Flag

I’m going to really step in it today, but a (political/branding) discussion with strong feelings is already brewing, and maybe we can attempt to have a reasonable conversation about it.

Think with me for a few minutes.

Yesterday, on the Barack Obama twitter feed, the following tweet appeared, with a link leading to the image shown below:

(one of several posters you can order for $35.00)

My immediate reaction was one of being offended, a sentiment shared by many others, judging from the on-line reaction. This is hardly, of course, the first time that the American flag has been artistically altered in some fashion. However, the immediate message that this graphic sent to me was that we Americans are to be united under Mr. Obama. The replacement of the 50 stars and the 13 stripes (representing people and states united under a Constitution), seemed jarring and presumptuous. If a big Romney R were in the upper left corner, I’d feel the same way. From a branding perspective, should it not be obvious that this approach would offend many who feel a deep reverence for the American flag? How would people in the Armed Services feel about seeing this rendition?

You. Just. Don’t. Do. That. Or so it seemed to me on the gut reaction level.

But that’s my reaction. And I’m interested to know how others feel. I’m going to encourage you to add your comment, but here are the ground rules:

1. In one sentence, describe your gut emotional reaction to this graphic and approach, in one of three ways: Offensive, Neutral, Positive.

2. In that same sentence or perhaps one other, explain why you feel that way.

On this blog, we talk a lot about branding, and a lot about condensed and vivid messaging. Political campaigns are all about that. I’d like to know how others respond to altered flag imagery.

DO NOT go off on a political rampage about Romney, Obama, Bush, Iraq, the deficit, Putin, Ayn Rand, or whatever – those arguments are raging everywhere and this blog isn’t the place for it. Don’t go on a bashing rampage about “the other” political party. I’ll delete such comments. Let’s keep it to a discussion of this one issue about use of American flag imagery in this particular instance. If you have longer-form thoughts about artistic use of flag imagery in general, you might want to have that discussion on your own blog. Agreed?

Go!

Zero in the Morning

Sorry, folks. Feeling sick, and too many other demands, to put up a “Five in the Morning” post today. Hopefully be back tomorrow!

Ad-Tech AWOL

Was planning to be at Ad-Tech NY again, live-blogging. Unfortunately, I’ve had a laptop malfunction (the keyboard may be permanently on the fritz) and so I can’t follow through on my plans to do another day of “reporting.” Sorry about that – technology happens!

Five in the Morning 110308

Ways to get new Blog Readers. 10 great tips about using on-line presence strategies, from Problogger.

Is that a whiff of Lanolin around your marketing? Don’t follow the sheep, says Jonathan Kranz at MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

A roundup of top blog search engines. From Ann Smarty at Search Engine Journal.

Steve Rubel predicts the future regarding smart phones and cloud computing. I think he’s pretty much on-target. What do you think?

Free e-books from Chris Brogan. As in, FREE. Fish Where the Fish Are. Personal Branding. Grab ‘em!

PLUS – I love being a Dad. From C.C. Chapman. Yeah. And, for a quick Monday visual, Tel Aviv sunset from Jeff Pulver.

I’ll be at Ad-Tech NY for the first part of this week…will try to get out Five in the Morning each day, but no guarantees! Visit here for live updates on the conference, however, M-W.

(Image credit)

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Age of Conversation (2) Available NOW

The long-awaited second edition of The Age of Conversation is now available! This group-authored book is a great introduction to social media, told in the voices of dozens of practitioners (see list below!).

I was honored to contribute a chapter to both the first and second editions. And the collaborators are top-notch!

You can buy the book right here. There are hardback, paperback, and e-book versions available. All proceeds to Variety – the Children’s Charity.

Here is the author list!

Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Chris Brown, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Schawbel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Dave Davison, David Armano, David Berkowitz, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne & Todd Cabral, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, John Herrington, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kristin Gorski, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tim Brunelle, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

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Five in the Morning 102808

Chris Brogan with some tips on Reaching outside your Fishbowl to Build Community.

A series of video snippets (of Seth Godin and Tom Peters) commenting on social media. Courtesy of Doug Karr.

Beth Harte gets even more passionate. Good for her (and for you)! Similar thoughts from Amber Naslund.

Start buying! The Age of Conversation (2) is here. David Reich gives a plug.

The problem: Defining the problem. So says Tom Clifford – and this principle applies for many areas beyond creating a video!

PLUS – Do some people still have a heart, even for a stranger? Wow.

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Five in the Morning 102708

Gary Vaynerchuk, high-energy social media evanglist. From MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

It’s improved. Bigger. Better. Before there was Alltop, there was…The Marketing Bloggers portal. Now with more feeds. Check it out – and let me know if there are other worthies that should be included!

So…have you been to the Bathroom Blogfest? No, not a typo. This is real. I don’t get it…but C.B. Whittemore and gang can help you out here.

This is Katie Konrath‘s blog. Why am I linking to it? Because I love the tagline. Go see!

C. C. Chapman, a presentation on Making Media as Marketing. With Slideshare. From the recent MarketingProfs Digital Mixer.

PLUS: Eyes. I’ll say no more. You have to see it (with your own eyes) to believe it!

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Five in the Morning 102308

Great tips from David Meerman Scott on the one biggest mistake people make with Twitter.

Nike Just Does it Wrong, then tries to do it right. Brian Solis gives us the scoop on a marathon gone bad.

Want to know where ALL the social media stuff is? Guy Kawasaki links to the mother and father of all social media lists.

From Steve Rubelhow blogging has impacted the way journalists gather news. Fascinating.

Greg Verdino admits that he’s a loser. And a member of the equine family. Plus, this is the only time you’ll see him in a suit and tie…

PLUS – By a wide margin, my most popular StickyFigure post ever! TwACORN Busted for Massive on-line Fraud. Sheesh – maybe I should have just gone into comedy…

BONUS – Find Flickr pics by choosing color. VERY cool tool. Hat tip: Mario Sundar.

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Five in the Morning 102208

Jason Falls presents a very interesting case study about a holistic customer relationship approach (including social media tools) by a home builder. We need more like this!

What is LinkedIn good for? A LOT! Look at this list (with great links) assembled by Stephen Smith, from the SOBCON website!

From Aaron StroutTop Ten Lessons Learned using social media. Quick, simple, straightforward stuff here.

Showing Up – some good starting-up lessons about using social media from the personal branding guru, William Arruda.

High-Priced Hand-me-Downs. Some unknown long-tail blogger posted this one about luxury items that justify themselves as legacy inheritances.

PLUS – Whhhaattt? You’ve never visited Despair.com?? Surely you jest. Go there right now and laugh your head off!

BONUS Video – Beware the “Me Monster“! This 4.5 minute video by Brian Regan will Crack. You. Up.

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Five in the Morning 102108

Is new media marketing becoming “mainstreamed”? Check out what Paul Chaney has to say.

Re-branding…fish…with new names. Guess I hadn’t thought of that one. From the NameWire blog.

How can social media help with customer loyalty? Becky Carroll over at Customers Rock! begins a brief series this week, with quickie videos (at this link – a video from Jim Kukral). Anything Becky produces is worth your attention.

Why do we blog? Here’s what Darren Rowse (@problogger) found out when he asked his readers.

Ann Handley has Nine Questions for Guy Kawasaki. Read the Q&A here.

PLUS: Only Ann Handley could pull this off. From her blog A n n a r c h y: A Toast to Cancer.

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Five in the Morning 101008

Fifty great blog post ideas – if you’re a blogger, this is a rich list to pull from. Hat tip: Chris Brogan.

Steve Rubel on the Changing Face of PR.

There’s no “and” in Brand. YES, YES, YES! From Andy Sernovitz. Some related thoughts I wrote at the Small Business Branding blog a while back, on Identity Deficit Disorder.

Twitter lingo demystified. You’ve seen all the abbreviations. Here’s what they mean. Except OH – that, I found out yesterday via Twitter, means “Overheard.” From the ever-smiling Mari Smith.

Has it been TWO YEARS?? Yes, two years ago to the day, my first blog post on StickyFigure. A thankful glance back for all my readers

Friday Bonus: Ultra slo-mo video of a Saturn rocket launch. Awesomeness!

Five in the Morning 100908

Effort? Or luck? Some pointed and  helpful thoughts from Seth Godin.

Social media campaigns – they ain’t like the traditional kinds. Nice overview from Kat over at Social Media Explorer.

CollabFinder – a place where designers and developers can find each other. Great use of web networking. Hat tip: Swiss Miss.

Mark Goren asks: Really, What is Marketing? From his Planting Seeds blog (nice design, btw Mark!)

Can you describe your personal brand in one word? Dan Schawbel is asking!

BONUS: New Twitter-generated TwIndependent presidential ticket announced. Go GaryVee and Chris Brogan! (now with bonus links to prior spoofs!)

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Five in the Morning 100808

I like this post, and the accompany video, on Rohit Bhargava‘s blog, about Chili’s-To-Go.

Jason Alba gives us some advice on How to Find a Job during a Recession.

The Hero’s Journey – A Metaphor for Video Storytelling. Fast Company column from the prolific and ever-interesting Director Tom.

Return on Whatever. MarketingProfs Daily Fix post, by yours truly, on the compulsion to try to calculate Return on too many things. Join the discussion in the Comments!

Crowdsourced Java. A great campaign by Adam Singer. And I want some Coffee 2.0!

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Five in the Morning 100708

Drew McLellan asks: What do you think of this Domino’s dancing pasta guy ad? My answer: I love it!

Would you like to (perhaps) get featured on the “big” news sites (like CNN, NY Times, etc.)? Problogger shares a few tips.

Igor‘s free, downloadable company naming guide. Wow.

Does color matter for your brand? Check out this quick overview from the Swiss Miss.

Bloggers: What Not to Wear! From Copyblogger.

BONUS: Earth from Above hi-def pix. Amazing!

Save the Date: The Blogger “Mystic Meetup” Oct 17-18

NOTE: This event is postponed. A more complete update will be posted shortly.

Calling all Sociable Bloggers! The Blogger Mystic Meetup is ON!

All Northeast and New England bloggers (MA/CT/NY/NJ/Eastern PA) AND any others who want to join us for a wonderful fall foliage weekend in Mystic, CT should make plans now to get social in mid-October!

Bloggers love to “socialize” on-line. This is your chance to get to know a bunch of your fellow bloggers better (face-to-face), while enjoying one of New England’s finest settings. And, to enjoy a newly-refurbished hotel located steps away from some of Mystic’s prime attractions!

Location: Mystic Hilton, Mystic, CT (easy access by car from all points; Mystic is on the Amtrak train line also).

Dates: October 17, 18

Schedule:

- Friday night: informal hangout/socializing time together at hotel, with hors d’oeurves and a cash bar. 7:00 ’til whenever.
Saturday morning: breakfast buffet, followed by morning brainstorming session, probably taking off from the theme of Breaking out of the Bubble (with due credit to our very own Alan “Tangerine Toad” Wolk). This will be an informal, high-energy facilitated discussion, undoubtedly live-Twittered like all such blogger events are nowadays!
Saturday lunch
Saturday afternoon – free time to explore the many attractions right at our doorstep: Mystic Seaport and Aquarium, Old Mystick Village, historic Stonington, area beaches – there are even a few wineries! Plus, New England fall foliage at its peak!

So, it’s a combo social meetup and creativity session. I’m thinking we’d want to keep the event limited to no more than 40-50 people (plus significant others if applicable). We’d also spend some of Saturday morning introducing ourselves and our work to each other in a fun and creative way.

Costs:

For those staying overnight at the Hilton, we’ve arranged a very nice group rate of $129/night (plus tax). That’s for single or double occupancy. But you need to reserve by Sept. 19th to lock in that rate.  Some of you locals may prefer to commute, and that’s fine. We still like you.

The cost of the total Fri-Sat event (meeting room, food, drink, etc.) is $115/person, which is a major-league bargain in my humble opinion. Those who can only attend on Saturday may do so at a rate of $65. The rate for those attending only for the Friday evening social (which might include a spouse or significant other) is $50. I should note that all registration fees go toward meeting expenses only. This is not a money-making event for anyone (actually it’s a bit of a financial risk for me).

Perhaps some non-Northeast bloggers would want to join in and combine it with a New England foliage tour…the regional bloggers of New England and NY/NJ/PA will extend red-carpet hospitality to any of our fellow social media friends who’d like to use this Meetup as an excuse to come explore the area!

We look forward to seeing you in picturesque Mystic! And please forward this to other bloggers you think might be interested so that they can be included…

A Zin Moment: Case Study of a Brand Advocate

The dream goal for any brand is to create – somehow – a set of brand advocates who go out, on their own initiative, and “evangelize” the company’s product or service. Nothing is more powerful than having customers who sell for you – this is marketing nirvana.

And so here is a story of brand advocacy. This case study is one I’m intimately familiar, because I’m the one out there giving free exposure to the brand.

I’ve written previously on this blog about Ravenswood Winery, and how the way they’ve promoted their brand has made me (and others) a fan. As I speak, behind me on my bookshelves is a little “No Wimpy Wines” bumper sticker from Ravenswood, and when I work out at they gym, a t-shirt with the same message is part of my regular rotation of attire.

Ravenswood makes a variety of varietals but they specialize in Zinfandels – hence the No Wimpy Wines tagline. They also happen to make a killer BBQ sauce called Ragin’ Raven, and here is where the story gets richer. You see, I like their Zins, but I absolutely love Ragin’ Raven, and I tell people about it. I give it away. In fact, I just sent 58 bottles of it to my clients and partners, even creating a marketing campaign for my consulting business around the theme of: Are you Ragin’ or Ravin’? Ragin’ Raven BBQ sauce has received tremendous exposure within a very high-income and influential group…why? Because Ravenswood has bribed me? No. Because I’m an advocate. Ravenswood doesn’t even know (I think) about their unofficial East Coast marketing arm who has probably bought more bottles of their BBQ sauce than anyone on the planet. And, of course, via blog posts, now there is exposure to an even wider audience.

The product is good, but let’s face it – there are lots of good wines and great BBQ sauces out there. But because their branding included the phrase “No Wimpy Wines” and a name like Ragin’ Raven, I’ve latched on and enjoy evangelizing them.

Are you trying market your product or services, and hoping to create the magnification effect of word-of-mouth advocates? Take a look at the fairly straightforward steps that Ravenswood has taken to distinguish themselves. Find a way to stand out in a crowded market, with a branding message that resonates. Can you make your brand rise above the others with a bit of fun, a dash of cheekiness, and a message that makes the customer feel like he found something special?

Later this week, we’ll look at a brand that has created something beyond advocacy, crossing the line into the cultivation of…well, a cult! (Here is the link – this post on the “cult” of Harley Davidson is published on the Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog!)

P.S. – here’s a review by someone who did a tasting at the Ravenswood winery…

(Image source – wine bottles)

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Turning Points: How I became a Consultant

It was on I-80 Eastbound. On the way home from a little father-son getaway with my fourth at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. After a day of water-sliding, a professional epiphany at 60 miles per hour.

For 9 1/2 years, I’d worked with a small company doing sales/marketing/biz dev in the pharmaceutical training field. Enjoyed it, saw the company grow, but came to recognize that I had fundamentally different perspectives than the owner on many business approaches. Though we got along in a pretty transparent relationship, there was the constant sense that we were pulling in different directions.

Suddenly, driving home through the Poconos, it came to me. I wasn’t going to change. He wasn’t going to change. It was time to go our separate ways. If I was going to fulfill my professional desires and drives, and add maximum value, I had to “create it myself,” and not vainly hope that someone else would conform their business to my ideals, or custom-create the perfect position for me.

And what I had found I enjoyed most, over the years, was not selling. It was consulting. This, after almost 20 years in sales! But now, I was finally ready. I had the knowledge, the desire, the network, and ability to market. Gradually, a niche business consulting approach emerged in my thinking.

Giving what amounted to 7 months notice, we de-commissioned my role in the company, and after 10 years, I launched out as a consultant providing training strategy and expertise, as well as a unique vendor-client “matchmaking” service. I long believed that the best chance for business success is by defining, creating and occupying a unique space, and this was my chance.

The first year was hard. After 9 months, I began really questioning whether this thing was ever going to get “wheels up.” But then business steadily picked up, and now, I am dependent only on pleasing my clients, not on fulfilling someone else’s agenda. Wonderfully liberating.

How about you? Where was your professional “turning point” that started you on your course? Write it up on your blog and share the story!

(Image credit)

(this post was inspired by Director Tom (Tom Clifford), who did a Twitter post about writing up the 7 minutes that changed his life in the direction of becoming a filmmaker [once his post is up, I'll link to it]. Tom suggested a series called Turning Points – so, here we are! Readers are encouraged to write up their own, and I’ll link to any that participate!)

Here is CK’s take on her career…

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How many authors does it take to create one book?

Once again, a large group of authors is contributing to a collaborative book called “The Age of Conversation.” The first edition was a great success; this newest version, due out later in the summer, has over 200 authors (each contributing a brief chapter).

Ryan Barrett has assembled some “snippets” forwarded by various authors on her blog. Here is mine:

    “There is a tremendous amount of power – and money – to be had by controlling the microphone. But centralized communications will steadily lose their hold…We have the microphone now. And we’re not giving it back!”

Here’s the massive list of contributing authors. A very diverse and interesting crowd to be part of!

Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Beeker Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Starbucker Caught with Glass 3/4 Empty

Terry Starbucker, the renowned “Ramblings from a Glass Half Full” blogger, was spotted yesterday in a small bar in Boulder, Colorado, nursing a wine glass that was three-quarters empty.

Blogger audiences – half of them, anyway – were stunned. RSS subscriptions dropped precipitously as disenchanted readers abandoned Starbucker like a beached Twitter Fail Whale.

“I can’t believe it,” cried Claudia Woodstock, sometimes 70’s hippie-rocker and owner of the Berkeley T-Shirt Shop, Half-Tees. “I have spend half of my adult life following Terry’s half-full philosophy, including subscribing to his blog way back in 1982 when he started out. If I’d had half a brain, I’d have seen this coming.”

Past attendees at SOBCon, which Terry helps lead along with Liz Strauss, were nonplussed or, in some cases, half-plussed. Tom Clifford (Director Tom), filmmaker and beret fashion icon, quickly came to Starbucker’s defense. “Hey, I once released a film that was only 7/8 complete, and no-one blasted me for it! In fact, no-one even noticed! Of course, I’m better-looking than Terry, but still…you can’t be half-full the whole time.”

Starbucker was remorseful that his glass somehow managed, for a few brief moments, to be significantly less than half-full. “Honestly, it’s never happened before. I always ask the bartender for a “topper” when the glass is at about five-eighths. However, I got to tweeting the Marketing Diva on my half-charged iPhone, and before I knew it, I’d gulped a few eighths too many. Then who should walk in with his video camera to document my embarrassment but Robert Scoble. I’m totally plurked now!”

Asked if he planned to change his blog title to the less specific “Babblings from a Small Snifter Containing an Indeterminate Amount of Potable Libations,” Terry was noncommittal. “I’m half thinkin’ about it,” he mumbled, before leaving 3/4 of the way through an interview.

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Your Marketing is Already Outsourced

Congratulations! As a business professional, you’ve outsourced a growing proportion of your marketing.

Whether you decided to or not.

Time was, companies could control their marketing messages to a large extent. They could craft their brand image and messages and pro-actively distribute that marketing to their target audience. Sure, word-of-mouth was always powerful in the shaping of a brand’s reputation in the marketplace, but the magnifying effect of conversation – “outsourced” marketing, if you will – was still limited.

No more. The trend is clear – the explosion of social media means that people-to-people conversations have a rapidly growing influence compared to traditional marketing/advertising. These “outsourced” conversations (esp. facilitated through on-line platforms) will increasingly impact a company’s reputation, for good or for ill (you’ll forgive the awful graphic below: I’m a thinker and writer, not a designer!)

Just yesterday, I noticed on Twitter that there was a graphic depicting the words “Delta Skelter.” It did not look good! My immediate impression – somebody is NOT HAPPY with Delta airlines. A quick Google search unveiled this. And now, this message about Delta is rattling around in my brain and my emotions, potentially impacting that company’s reputation. And, although I have not had that same experience with Delta, now I’m mentioning it on my blog as well, as a case study. Messaging, magnified.

The point is: outsourced conversations are already happening, and they now have exponential impact. It’s no longer one neighbor grousing (or praising) to 5 others. It’s people reinforcing or undermining your brand at lightning speed, potentially impacting thousands. Scary.

The market will decide your reputation and your brand value. Therefore, you’d better deliver! And, since the outsourcing decision has already been made, it’s time to join the conversation.

Hat tip: Chris Kieff for inspiring this rant.

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What’s the Value of a Good Name? At VW, Nobody Knows!

It was bad enough when they rolled out something called a Touareg. A meaningless, hard-to-pronounce name that has all the cachet of rusted flywheel.

But they couldn’t stop there. No, today I see an ad for a new VW model called a “Tiguan.”

What’s a Tiguan? Your guess is as good as mine. Let’s free-associate: Wigwam. Tequila. Iguana. Guano. Hmmm…all associations that make me think, desirable mode of automotive transport. Kind of like…Touareg.

What’s your Value-Add?

Call me an idealist, but I think true professionals yearn to add value. There is no fulfillment in collecting a paycheck while being unproductive (except for the chronically pathetic “worker,” but that’s another post).

So, in your current role, what is your value-add? How are you making life better for customers? How is your company benefiting from your contributions?

One of the key indicators that it’s time to “move on” is that you begin to conclude – over the long-haul, not just during a bad week – that you are no longer adding significant value. Either you have changed, your company has changed, the business environment has changed, or some combination thereof…whatever the reason, you are not in an optimal role any longer.

Or, perhaps, the role was a mismatch to begin with. You read “First, Break all the Rules,” and “Now, Discover your Strengths” and you realize that your strongest abilities are not really being leveraged in your current role.

What to do? Find a way to move on. No-one wins when you’re not adding the kind of value that you could/should. Determine where your “gold” is – where you are most productive, gifted, and fulfilled; and then find the place that needs you.

I walked away from two professional positions (each after ~10 years) when I concluded that things had changed sufficiently that I could no longer provide optimal value. Amicably, with forethought and planning, I fired myself and embraced new opportunities that were a better fit. Had I become less capable or knowledgeable? To the contrary. It was just a matter of recognizing that I could no longer add value that way I needed to. And that’s OK.

Business conditions will continue to change rapidly. We needn’t assume that we’re going to be in one place forever, or that our contributions will be the same over time. One of my philosophical and practical goals in all areas of life is to create and build, get it established, then move on to new challenges. That’s how I add value – not by a lather-rinse-repeat cycle of repetitive tasks.

How do you add value? Are you prepared to take a clear-eyed look at your current role, ask yourself and others what your greatest strengths are, and look into new opportunities?

Online Video Toolkit now available

Jim Kukral (jimkukral.com) has just generously made available a series of tutorials (short videos, of course) on how to do basic online video using tools like the Flip video camera. Just go here – it’s free!

I have found Jim, and his on-line examples, to be quite helpful as I began my journey into video blogging. Just learned from the toolkit why I should probably wear a light-colored shirt. Of course, my first vlog featured me in a black shirt!

Highly recommended if you’re moving into this space…

Don’t Mess with (Me) – I Might Be a Blogger

Put (your name) in those brackets, and we have the new reality of customer service.

Bad products, bad customer experience, bad attitudes – all increasingly come to light and are publicly magnified by those who blog, Twitter, and otherwise engage in Share Media.

I think every corporate training program should emphasize this one overarching reality: today’s customer, no matter how unassuming-looking, may have outsized influence in telling others how bad – or how good – we are to them.

Can you imagine a restaurant owner not caring if a Nightly News anchor strolled in, cameras rolling, mics on, full entourage in tow – and was treated like dirt by the wait staff and the bartender?

That’s what happens when you mess with a blogger. And even long-tail bloggers, who are not widely influential in and of themselves, can do a world of hurt by a blog post or a Twitter message that gets repeated (or re-tweeted) into the RSS feed or comment stream or ears of other bloggers who command an audience of thousands.

Fear is a bigger motivator than goodness. I’d like to see businesses do the right thing out of motives other than fear, but if that can serve as the doormat to get people to take their responsibilities (and the power of social media) seriously, so be it.

On the other hand, we who may look unassuming but have a growing influence should be sure we share the good stories as well. Good deeds should be rewarded with our word-of-mouth publicity.

Maybe we should start a new T-shirt line:

Twitter Rockstar Half-Year Calendars – Tweeet!

How can you better rejoice in the glittering elite of the budding Twitterati than by ordering your very own Twitter Rock Star Half-Year Calendar!

Yessir, it’s a fast-paced world! New Twitter stars have emerged over the past few months, meaning that the 2008 full-year edition of Twitter Rock Stars is already obsolete. Trashed! Now, you can get your July-Dec edition before some of the newest and coolest Twizzlers flame out into virtual oblivion.

We have them all here. @scobleizer. @tobydiva. And, of course, @garyvee (thundering us off in July!). With stunning photos taken by some of the best Twitterazzi out there, straight off their webcams.

Each day of every month, you get some of the top Tweets from this all-star lineup, such as:

“Brain a wasteland. I need coffee!”

“Good morning Twitters! Have a glorious day!”

“You gotta check this out! http://tinyurl.com/3k3635″

And, everyone’s favorite: “Stuck on the runway at LGA AGAIN! I need a JetBluectomy”

For the low, low price of $49.95, you can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – plus, if you order now, you’ll also have a genuine, up-in-the-sky star named after you! Just call the number at the bottom of this blog post.

Call today!: http://tinyurl.com/3k3635

Bonus - if you tweet in your order using BrightKite coordinates, you’ll get a free one-day following from our November Rockstar!

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