Tribal Marketing

Why are companies beginning to pay attention to the potential of social media?

It’s pretty simple. People believe people they have connections to. People are now trained not to trust traditional advertising.

Traditional advertising often tries to carpet-bomb a bunch of “strangers” with a message. However, these strangers now understand that they are viewed as wallets, not friends. Objects to be exploited, not collaborators in the product development process.

Social media allows us to interact with friendly tribes, and thus, we are armed to resist the overflights of one-way, exploitative marketers.

Kind of like…well, these folks who have been in the news this week. ->

How can you reach those who don’t trust you or your message?

Think about it.

(Here are some interesting related thoughts from Christopher Penn)

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.

How REAL Businesspeople Get it Done

This post is a bit of tongue-in-cheek, inspired by Ten Reasons why I won’t Use Social Media Sites, authored by John Mariotti. In it, John takes the position that “Real business people realize that this social networking trend is superficial,” and “All of us are drowning in a tidal wave of complexity already, and these social networking sites make this complexity worse by an order of magnitude.”

RBs (Real Businesspeople) sometimes see little value in things that are in early-stage evolution. Like, say, FAX machines and e-mail once were. NARBs (Not a Real Businessperson), on the other hand, sometimes see the inevitable trends of the future and jump right in, unafraid of the messiness, and ready to shape it.

Use of social media tools is a central part of my business, and a critical part of my future business plan. However, since I am now officially NARB, I must decline to join the illustrious ranks of many RBs who have gone before me:

    1. The many RBs who believed that computers would never make it into the home.
    2. The many who figured that e-commerce or digital music were a flash in the pan.
    3. Those who saw no future in the automobile. Only a NARB would trade in his horse.
    4. Those who belittled silly early adopters who chose papyrus over stone. NARBanderthals!

Social media is in its early stages, and the platforms are imperfect. It takes some patience to sift through the chaff and find the wheat. But disintermediation is a tidal wave that won’t be stopped. Immediate, global connectivity (often leading to face-to-face meeting) is a train that has left the station. The microphone is now in the hands of the people, and we can publish, connect, meet, work, seek, find, and share.

Sure, some of the social media applications are geared toward kid stuff, but for some of us early-adopting NARBs, we’re doing real business (wait, that would make us RBs). We’re getting to know real people, with borders dissolving (wait, that might open up future opportunities and collaborations). We’re looking beyond immediate ROI into a rich future of a networked economy, where individuals can carve their own path and do business at many levels with a variety of people of our own choosing.

How NARBulous. I think I’ll Twitter this. But if you want, I’ll send you a memo…!

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 ( 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:

The Little Spoilers that Kill a Sale

Last week, I went looking for a new vehicle for our family. We’d narrowed it down to a good-sized “crossover” SUV from one manufacturer, or a minivan from another.

As always, things look great on paper, but you have to test drive these things to see if they feel right.

I got into the crossover for the test drive, and before we went anywhere, I knew it wasn’t going to be the choice. Game over. Eliminated.

Had a similar experience some years back, when I bought a Mazda 626. One of the models I was considering was a Honda Accord – great name, excellent cars, well worth considering. But before turning the key, it was crossed off the list.


Seat belts. Specifically, the anchor points for the front seat belts could not be adjusted high enough, and therefore the seat belt tugged down on my shoulder. Game over.

I’m of average height – a little under 6 feet tall. A lot of people are my size and bigger. And do you mean to tell me that car manufacturers cannot put people my height into a driver’s seat during the design phase and check on a little thing like this??

That little spoiler has killed two car sales for me so far, and who knows how many others for drivers who have felt the same.

You can have the greatest reputation for reliability, cool design, top-notch features, but if you don’t make me feel comfortable, I walk.

User design matters. Not only in cars, but in software and everywhere else.

What are some of the spoilers you’ve experienced?