Five in the Morning 093008

50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive – looks like an interesting book!

Launching your next venture using Social Media – 5 Lessons Learned. From ProBlogger.

Valeria Maltoni on why branding matters in a tough economy. “Branding in a tough economy matters – maybe because we are in the “touch economy” now. We need to see, experience, interact with, and feel before we buy. One of the most important aspects of differentiation and success is developing a voice with that online presence…”

Chris Brogan shares some “Best of…” to help your blogging. Good stuff!

Warning: Do not Drink Water. Why?

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Facebook: Share and Connect

TechCrunch takes FaceBook to task for its newly-minted tagline, conjecturing that it is the product of too many marketing meetings.

The new phrase, “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life” is actually quite accurate, and has a more “active” sense than the previous “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.” I prefer the new tagline because it explains what Facebook allows you to do, as opposed to what it is (plus, the term “social utility” is not so easy to digest for the newcomer).

The new tagline isn’t particular sexy or memorable, granted. But I’ve seen far worse.

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Five in the Morning 092908

10 Emerging Technologies (from the Online News Association conference). I like the cell phone projector.

17 Free Web-based Applications (I use TweetLater, in fact the link to this post is being uploaded with it!)

Dad-o-Matic – relatively new dad-blogger group site, started by Chris Brogan. This one by Jason Falls is quite touching.

Don’t bother thinking about your competitors! From Andy Sernovitz.

From ProBlogger: Using WordPress to run a full website (I have used WordPress to set up several).

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Sex Sells…is that a good thing?

In this well-written post over at Branding Strategy Insider, a compelling case is made for what most of us intuitively know…sex sells. Especially, sex + controversy sells.

Let’s assume that it’s true. Here’s the question any marketer now has to ask, just as they had to ask as a teenager: Should I??

The answer to that will come from the basic ethical decision-making foundation you stand upon. Choose your ground – the pragmatic approach, or the (defined) right/wrong approach.

The pragmatist will ultimately boil it down to this: if it works, why not? Now maybe, for your target audience, it won’t work. But if you’re going after the teen fashion market (as outlined in the linked post above), and it succeeds in increasing sales, and your goal as a business is to maximize profits…well, then, why not? All other considerations can be set aside, because this is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of effectiveness.

However, let’s say you believe that a sex-saturated culture coarsens itself, that people should not be treated as objects, that titillation as a method of money-making is creating more cultural havoc long-term even if it boosts the bottom line short-term. To distill it down: let’s say you think it’s just wrong. Now what?

It’s the dilemma every business person faces. From the temptation to misstate financial results, the opportunity to rip off a customer, even the possibility of influencing a sale by showing a little more cleavage to the male executives in the presentation, we’re faced with short-term gain and pragmatism versus doing what’s right regardless of the consequences.

I know what side I’m on. What do you think? Is it OK to take advantage of the power of sex in selling?

Irrational Brand Attachment

For years, I’ve thought about – with a combination of amusement and amazement – the incredible, and irrational, attachment people have to sports teams. Never have gotten around to writing a blog post about it, until I read Seth Godin’s post this morning about Irrational Commitment.

Seth talks more about the irrational commitment of parents and entrepreneurs, but from a marketing and branding point of view, the perspective applies to sports teams.

Now I consider myself to be a pretty rational and pragmatic sort – perhaps overly so. I am not a season-ticket holder for any team, I do not glue myself to the TV for every game, I don’t go around wearing uniform shirts for any sports team. Yet, growing up in central Connecticut, I was a Red Sox fan (baseball) and New York Giants fan (football), and still, to this day, there is an irrational attachment to those teams. And, I am really happy that Vanderbilt’s football team cracked the Top 25 this week!

Here’s the thing: there’s really no reason for it. It’s a bunch of overpaid guys (well, the pros anyway), who really have no necessary regional attachment, whom I don’t know in the least – but because they happen to have a home stadium somewhere in an area meaningful to me (I live there, or used to, or went to school there), there is attachment. And for the fanatic, that can mean shelling out hundreds of dollars to attend games, buy swag, wear shirts and hats with the gang markings, etc. etc. And, in some cases (especially soccer in other countries), getting into serious and even deadly fights.

It makes no sense. Yet those logos, those uniform colors, that team name, somehow become an extension of us, even when all the faces have changed.

Talk about marketing nirvana! If only we could have customers with THAT kind of fanatical, even irrational attachment!

There, I finally got that out of my system. What do you think? Why do we get so irrationally attached to teams in this way??

(image credit)

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There’s a Bumble in the Jumble

The announcement just came out that a new iPhone competitor, the G1 (using Google’s Android software), is about to be unleashed on the world. And this will be a coming-out party of sorts, not only for this branch of Google, but also for a contract phone manufacturer trying to make a name for itself.

Too bad they have such a memorable “name”. HTC. Blecch.

Why do companies do this to themselves? Why use obscure acronyms that simply blend into the background, and that stand out about as much as a single seed in a birdfeeder?

Effective marketing means, in part, providing a hook into the minds, memories, and imaginations of customers. And jumbles of letters and numbers are utterly self-defeating.

Just for fun, I scanned yesterday’s Wall Street Journal to gather some company/brand names that are designed to be forgotten:

CNG (Compressed Natural Gas)

CME Group (trading exchange)

CSC (technology resources)

TMI (executive recruting)

ELS (educational services)

If you’ve managed, through longevity and market penetration, to create a brand around an acronym (IBM, GM, A&P, etc.) that’s one thing. But if you want to stand out and be memorable, what is going to stick more in people’s minds – a well-crafted name, or a jumble? If you were investing, would you more easily remember a name like Fidelity (a word with actual, relevant meaning), or something like “ABX Resources”?

Companies and products should not be named by non-marketers and engineers. If I’m buying a LCD projector, I should not have to knot my tongue over a name like Panasonic PT-DW10000U. It’s a bumble to market a jumble, and a needless barrier to success.

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Will you be a Mystic Blogger?

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

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