I've been thinking about the tech buzzword "table stakes" lately. It's meant to signify that a company needs to have feature parity with a competitor to be considered competitive. Here's the Wikipedia definition:
"table stakes also refers to the minimum entry requirement for a market or business arrangement. It can refer to pricing, cost models, technology, or other capability that represents a minimum requirement to have a credible competitive starting position in a market or other business arrangement."
There's always been something about that term that didn't sit quite right with me, but I could never quite put my finger on why.
But I just figured it out: Table stakes is a reactionary philosophy. It's the equivalent of Blackberry's incremental phone improvements that were blown out of the water by the iPhone. When a company focuses on table stakes, it'll always be one step behind its competitors. That's why you don't hear startups ever using that phrase, but you do hear it at bigger companies.
So I'd like to propose my take on table stakes: Instead of trying for feature parity, focus on changing the game with order-of-magnitude product innovation. To me, that's the surest way to have your competitors talking about table steaks, while you're eating steaks at a table celebrating your wins.
Here's a great quote about the difference:
"Oops! Highlight never went anywhere but we definitely wasted a ton of energy and sleep “responding to the threat” when we should have been figuring out how to make our own business work."
I spoke on the American Marketing Association's Social Media panel on July 15th. The video is above. Below is the original marketing information for the panel:
Innovation & Technology , How it affects the Marketing Mix
Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I spoke on the American Marketing Association's Social Media panel on July 15th. The video is above. Below is the original marketing information for the panel: Innovation & Technology , How it affects the Marketing Mix Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Location: John Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Washington, DC Center 1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW Room BOB Washington, DC 20036 Cost: $40 Members & Students $60 Non-members Hors d'oeuvres included. All onsite registrants are subject to an additional $10 surcharge. Register Pre-registration closes at 5:00 PM on Monday, July 13th. Speakers: Aaron Brazell, CEO, Emmense Technologies, Founder, Technosailor.com Gray Brooks, New Media Ombudsman, Obama for America Shana Glickfield, Communications Consultant, Founder, DC Concierge Daniel Ruben Odio-Paez, COO, PointAbout, Co-Founder, DC Moblile Mondays Patricia Mejia, VP Marketing, Siteworx Moderator: Maurisa Turner Potts, Expert Marketing Consultant Every day a new social marketing outreach tool is introduced to the marketplace. Rapid innovation in technology has added new weapons to a marketer's toolbox. Both clients and companies are looking for the next new hot thing to differentiate their product or service. Facebook, Smartphones, Iphone Apps, Twitter, and U Stream are every day household names. New companies and industries have been formed to spread messages about products and services. Yet, a key question remains: How does innovation and technology affect the marketing mix? Come join five expert panelists on July 15, 2009 to discuss key innovations in technology that directly impact marketers. Aaron Brazell is a social media strategist and implementer. As a long time entrepreneur and technologist, he is most known for his blog, Technosailor.com - the most widely read business and technology blog in the Baltimore/Washington region. Gray Brooks helped pioneer the political New Media space. In early 2003 Brooks drove to Vermont, helping the Internet team power Gov. Howard Dean's presidential bid. In January 2007, Brooks joined Barack Obama's campaign. As New Media Ombudsman, he was the special projects manager for the New Media Director and helped integrate the department into the campaign at large. Over the two years of the campaign and presidential transition, Brooks managed efforts integrating web design, online video, email, text messaging, online advertising, social networks, and fundraising. Patricia Mejia is the Vice President of Marketing for Siteworx, Inc. Patricia offers a diverse background in public, private and non-profit organizations, having served most recently as VP of Marketing & Communications at IXI T Corporation. Prior to IXI, Patricia held leadership positions at Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Southeastern Universities Research Association. Daniel Odio is a co-founder of PointAbout, a company that is focused on unlocking innovation in the mobile space. Previously, Daniel was the founder of Cardea Commercial Real Estate Advsors and DROdio Real Estate, Inc, a resdental real estate brockerage. Daniel has been featured on CNN, CNBC, TLC, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications for his innovative use of technology in the real estate market. Shana Glickfield, an independent communications consultant, was previously the Director of Strategic Communications at Amplify Public Affairs. Shana is currently leading a workshop series to improve how Hill staffers use social media tools in the course of their jobs. She is the founder and author of renowned local blog, The DC Concierge and is one of the top 100 Twitters in DC. Maurisa is an accomplished marketing professional with more than 14 years of professional marketing experience. Her background includes developing innovative and customized marketing strategies, communication roll-outs, event planning, public relations, and partnership development. She has experience in a variety of areas such as economic development, hospitality, technology, telecommunications, accounting, retail and legal services. After spending a majority of her career working in corporate America, she launched her own marketing/public relations consulting business offering freshly tailored marketing solutions exclusively to small businesses, boutiques, entrepreneurs and other private entities. She serves on the Board for the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of Success in the City Professional Women Organization, Washington Women in Public Relations, and a Social Committee Member for the Virginia Tech Alumni Association (National Capital Region). Here's a transcription of the event: Subject: American Marketing Association's Social Media Panel Date: July 15, 2009 Location; Johns Hopkins University Speakers: Aaron Brazell, CEO, Emmense Technologies, Founder, Techosailor.com Gray Brooks, New Media Ombudsman, Obama for America Shana Glickfield, Communications Consultant, Founder, DC Concierge Patricia Mejia, VP Marketing, Siteworx Daniel Ruben Odio-Paez, COO, PointAbout, Co-Founder, DC Mobile Mondays Moderator: Maurisa Turner Potts, Expert Marketing Consultant Legend - Panel Members and Moderator AB - Aaron Brazell GB - Gray Brooks SG - Shana Glickfield PM - Patricia Mejia DO - Daniel Ruben Odio-Paez MT - Maurisa Turner Karen: So, I wanted to just make a couple of announcements, and then I'm going to turn the mike over to our Chapter President, Brendan Hurley. We've a few upcoming events, and I hope you like this space, because we're going to be meeting here a lot for the speaker series. So coming up on July 28th, we have a networking series that's gonna be with JosÃ© AndrÃ©s, who is from THINKfoodGROUP. How many people have been to the Zaytinya, the Jaleo? Great restaurants. So that's going to be on Tuesday, July 28th, that's a lunchtime event. Am I correct? [Yeah.] Good. So on August the 12th, we'll be back here at Johns Hopkins, and the table speaker series on the 12th is on Sports Marketing. So if you are interested in sports and marketing, I hope to see you and see your smiling face on August the 12th. I put the time as 6[:00] to 8[:00] because I know D.C.; I know traffic. We're going to start at 6:30 every month, the speaker series, but I wanted us to have enough time to network, exchange business cards, and get to know each other. But anyway, I'm going to turn it over to our new Chapter President, Mr. Brendan Hurley, who's going to talk a little bit about the chapter, and we'll be starting in 5 minutes. Thanks. [...] You're welcome. Brendan Hurley: Thank you, Karen, and welcome everyone. Again, my name is Brendan Hurley. I'm the new Chapter President for the American Marketing Association here in DC, so I'm very honored to hold that title and to be here tonight, and to welcome you. I'd like to thank and welcome all of our speakers. Thank you very much for your time, and your insights, and your expert knowledge. I'm sure that our guests are going to learn quite a bit from you, so we appreciate that. For those of you who are not aware--we just began our new fiscal year. The Chapter begins the fiscal year on July 1st, so I just want to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about what our goals and expectations are for the new year. All we wanted to, really as a chapter, we want to focus on our core competency this week--move forward to try to provide maximum member value, so we are really focusing on increased and better programming, and increased in better networking opportunities for you, as we know that is very important to our members. We're also going to be doing some internal and external research. We want to find out what, as members, you think of the organization. For those people who are not members--we want to know what you think of the organization, as well, so that we can continue to improve and grow as a Chapter. We believe in building organizational infrastructure and improving efficiency so we're very dedicated. Our volunteer force is very dedicated on focusing on those areas, so you have any input or suggestions for us, we welcome it. If you're interested in volunteering for the chapter, we really welcome that. As part of our desire to improve the infrastructure, we really need volunteers to fill our committees. Melissa Okimoto, our Director of Volunteers, raise your hand, Melissa, is here. If you're interested in talking to her, she'd more than happy to chat with you about some of the many opportunities available as volunteers at AMADC. So thank you again for allowing me to speak to you. Now it's my pleasure to introduce to you the moderator for this evening's discussion, Maurisa Turner. Maurisa also happens to be the Chapter's Vice President of Marketing and Communications. Maurisa is an accomplished marketing professional with more than 14 years of professional marketing experience. Her background includes developing innovative and customized marketing strategies, communication roll-outs, event planning, public relations and partnership development. She has experience in a variety of areas, such as economic development, hospitality, technology, telecommunications, accounting, retail, and legal services. Maurisa, is there anything that you really haven't touched on in your career? [Laughter] She launched her own marketing/public relations consulting business recently offering professionally tailored marketing exclusions, exclusively to small businesses, boutiques, entrepreneurs and other private entities. She serves on the Board of the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce, which she was just featured recently, I might add. She's also a member of Success in the City Professional Women's Organization, Washington Women in Public Relations, and a Social Committee member for the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. So, welcome. Thank you. [Applause] Maurisa Turner: [I have to move this lower [microphone] for a 4' 11" person.] Good evening, everyone. Thank you for coming and thank you, panelists, for being here. Before we start off, I'd like to get a little poll in the audience about how much everyone knows about social media. And I'm going to start with the basic question. Raise your hand if you know what the definition of social media is. Who is currently using social media? [Laughs] We have applications here. How many people are using Facebook? YouTube? Twitter? How many people blog daily? [Laughter] OK, weekly? Alright. And how many people do it for business? Personal? For both? OK, alright. How many people work for organizations that make it a requirement in their business to have a social media plan? Do any have a work or an entity where they're adverse to using social media applications? [OK.] May I ask? [OK.] Is anyone Twittering right now? [Laughter] Alright. I just wanted to get a good pulse on just how the background of how many people are in the social media phase; how they're using it--business versus personal. And, of course, we are here trying to ask the burning question, how does this innovation and technology really affect the marketing mix? And, showing case studies, and proof-positives, and results from our amazing panelists that have used it very effectively and dynamically, and learn some of their points and tips, and how they carry it on into your background, into your career, as well. So, let me kick off one question I'm going to talk this to Gray [Brooks] [Laughs], as a very interesting and exciting track recently. This question is for you, and of course, everyone else still on the panel, please pitch in. Last year, we saw a political candidate and Marketer of the Year, beating out companies, such as Apple and Nike. Many would argue that the technology behind the Obama campaign helped drive the brand, and spark the excitement of President Obama. Please give us your thoughts on power of the 'Obama' brand and how technology affected the marketing of his candidacy. Gray Brooks: Sure, first of all, can you all hear me OK? [Yeah] Thanks for having us here tonight. You touched on a couple of the words in there that I think that are very crucial, but that sometimes they're too easily considered. And one is "technology", and the other is "brands". The people at the top of the campaign did varied work, and I think hired a lot of very good people. But this is my third campaign, and I [...] other campaign. [Laughter] It would be a mistake not to realize that even when we're screwing up, we got by ok because the package we were selling, the candidate himself, was really good. So, technology enabled some revolutionary things, but also it was still a matter of selling something that was already a good product. The other part of it is that, it would be a mistake not to realize how much effort went into the branding. I think the advertising industry was very conscious of, and very, I guess, more knowledgeable about the work that went into the branding of the campaign. Before the general election, we were hiring several graphic designers to focus that exclusively on adding artistic depth to the campaign at every level. On the Web site, we managed to subsume all the print design, all the [...] ads, everything that people saw down to the literature being handed out in mailboxes. We eventually were able to go through these two or three people, so there was consistence. It was based around a design that people thought conveyed a message even without words. And then the rest was kind of adding technology on top of that. But those two fundamentals of having really good product, and then actually truly focusing on brand, in trying to say something that you thought out. I was a huge part of that. Aaron Brazell: I would say also that there was a huge emotional need in the constituency in the American people to have the technology come along to accent the product. I agree everything that Gray said. There was a great product there. The technology really enhanced it, but what really drove the point home was that there was a need for something, and that product and that technology enhanced that, and brought it out. I think any, no matter what it is, you're not going to get anywhere without the technology, and you're not necessarily gonna get anywhere with just the communications side of it in the product. But if you have three of those things all combined, I think you have a dynamic trifecta. Shana Glickfield: In my experience with social media consulting professionally where I advise corporations and nonprofits, and even individuals, I think a lot of people now want the Obama-like results. And I think it's important for marketers to understand that it was a big campaign, as the trifecta was taking place, and that you can have a very successful social media campaign without having the Obama-like results. GB: We definitely want to be over our two lessons we learned here is that it was merely a case study. It was a huge case study in one that has a lot of material to learn from, it takes years. It's just made up of best used strategies. The fact is, it's a mistake to see that something as ultimate, when really, it was just one example. Patricia Mejia: I would add that I think you had conversed a lot of things and also you're first?, you're innovative, so I think from a marketing standpoint, it's important to think about what the next thing is. Timing is everything when it comes to marketing, so I think it's a combination of things sort of lining up. It's like a perfect world in the negative, but things came together because of the timing, as well. AB: You have to drive that point home. If you look at it, it's just not a political panel here, but as an example, since we're in that space already with the Obama campaign, you look back at 2004 with the Dean campaign, they also did many of the things that the Obama campaign did do. They had arguably a great product. I didn't like the idea, but that's a different story altogether. [Laughter] They supposedly had a great product. There was a lot of great messaging there, but the emotional aspect of where the American people were with his outburst, and all these other things that happened just didn't coalesce the whole product, the trifecta - I love that word [Laughter], actually come together and do something where we saw completely the opposite side of the Obama side. MT: Great. Thank you. Of course, we know that each of you blog either on personal or business-related. There's been some questions out there that some think that blogging has jumped the shark', so to speak. What are your thoughts on that? GB: I don't mean to monopolize the time, but people say it's great. DO: So, first I'll say that it's a pleasure to be here. I see a lot of you out there that could be up here, so I wish this could be a roundtable where we all could be talking together because I'm sure that you're doing things that we don't know about, so I'd like to just open that piece of it up if you have thoughts, let's just share them. If I can step back for a second, I would say that it's really important to understand what social media is and isn't. I think a lot of people consider social media to be a medium, but I consider it to be a tool, like a telephone. You don't place an ad in a telephone; you place an ad in the yellow pages, and for me what social media is, is it's a vehicle. It's a tool that allows me to take the expertise that's inside the head of, let's say, whoever we're looking to profile, and share that with the people that need it in the moment that they're making a purchasing decision. So for example, if it's real estate - I started a real estate company six years ago, and we had really competent realtors, but nobody necessarily knows that unless you can use tools like social media to allow that expertise that's in their heads to get to the people that need to know it when they need to know it. So, what I would say about blogging, which to me is the component of social media, is that blogging allows you to do some things that you can't do otherwise. I like to say that Henry Ford would love blogs, because when you get questioned, you've answered twenty times already by e-mail instead of spending 15 minutes composing that answer again by email. Spend three hours writing a blog about it, a really researched in-depth answer; and then when somebody emails you that question, just send them back and answer the blog. You're making an assembly line of expertise, right? So, very importantly at the beginning [...], I would say social media is a tool, not a medium, and blogging is a very powerful tool. You also get great Google lists out of it when you blog with original content, which means that when people search for keywords, you're the one that comes up as a subject matter expert, so to me, blogging is so very pertinent. PM: I would add to that is that blogging is important, but authentic blogging is so much more important. So I think the authenticity people see through the salesy part of trying to sell you something to position yourself. The authenticity is what people are really looking for. They're really yearning for it, because they're kind of like over the marketing. I just had to add that. AB: To go the extra mile there, I agree with Daniel here. Blogging is one of those places where you create content that's going to be there forever, arguably, unless the internet blows up, which is always possible. They're also going to be there, and the search engine's Google, most importantly, is going to find it, it's going to be there all the time. You can certainly refer people to them over email, or whatever. I think one of the big questions about is blogging. Is blogging jumping to the shark? At least this is the side of the conversation I'm hearing from the technology side, it's the question that's posed, it's blogging versus social networks. So your Facebooks, your Twitters, your YouTubes and what have you, Tumblr. Why spend more time writing on a blog when all your costs are going into Twitter? That's the side of the conversation I'm hearing quite a lot. In fact, I don't know how many of you, do any of you know Dave Troy? [No.] Ok. So David Troy is an entrepreneur. Actually, more towards Baltimore, but he's involved with marketing, as well, so I thought some of you might have heard of him. Dave Troy asked a question on Twitter, maybe three weeks ago, "How many of you are blogging? Since Twitter came around, are you blogging more or less?" He was making the assumption that everybody blogged less. I find I blog more, because of Twitter and still sell all that much, but the reason why is you can have all these thoughts out there in social media, and social networks, etc., but, unless you have a place to put that to like really park it, and grow it, and create an audience around. And you just can't do that on social networks. You can certainly share your thoughts. You can share your links, and share your list, this and that and other thing, but it's hard to build community around that. And, if you're working with a product or company, you're trying to drive the product. You're trying to drive some software, you're trying to drive something that creates more sales, and you want to build community around it, because that community is going to turn into your biggest fan [trusts?] So, is it valuable to be out there on Twitter, absolutely. You're out there, you put your thoughts out there, you pick every opportunity, you can't conversate with the people who may be buying your product, may be buying your company, may be engaging with you in business somehow. But, if you really are going to build a community, you're going to need the blog. So no, blogging has not jumped the shark. That was a long-winded answer. SG: Blogging, in my experience, also, a lot of the great [...] that mention SEO[?], I like community building, a couple of other things, but I think the solid leadership comes from putting content out there, and I think a lot of people get stuck with blogging because they think they have to sit down and write this 3-hour think piece every time. And that's not the case. People don't even like to tune into a blog and see all the same text over and over. You think about how to take the pressure off and make yourself a better blogger. It actually takes less time to judge. If you're going to send something to a couple of your colleagues, from a newspaper or video on YouTube, instead of circulating it via email, I would just post it to a blog. It'll take just as much time, but you're really building your blog out. MT: You have a question? Unidentified Female Speaker A: Yes, I have a question. You're all talking about building communities, and so like sending it email around to people you know, or doing it on Facebook or Twitter, will it follow you? I find it hard to understand how is building communities around blogs easier, than building? GB: Just jump in. Part of my answer to you definitely revolves around my students' overall question, and there is a really, really useful plagiarism of Benjamin Franklin, don't live to geek." And it's cute and easy to remember, but it really does get back to the whole point of all this, and that is that no technology is good, or bad, or going to work, or not going to work. It's just another tool, and we're at a point today where we have more tools and more capabilities than we ever had before. But that gets us back to the original philosophical question of, "What are you trying to get done?", and then, "How are you going to do it?" And the technology, like blogging or anything else can help you, right, and if it's not helpful, then don't use it. The only thing that I think matters here is just asking yourself, "What was I doing already?" and, "Can I be even more efficient?" Or, as efficient, maybe, as with some side benefits by using this other thing. And, so, there are many times where you get other side benefits by blogging, as opposed other means without other extra costs and effort. Like you said, instead of emailing everyone in the company, if you post it on the blog, its adding content to your blog without any extra effort. U/i Female Speaker B: But how do you drive readers to the blog? GB: There are two ways to that. One is, if you compared to what you were doing before like sending an email with the content in there, and it [...] around the link, that's just as good. And, so you're not losing anything on the process. The other thing is, the more you write, the more content you create, and the more you do actually adds authenticity, and try to add something that's worth reading. People find that, and that's a great thing about Google, and a great thing about the internet is that quality material rises to the surface literally on its own. PM: One thing I would add is, I think as marketers we really need to stop thinking about us, and start thinking about the people that we are trying to reach. So, if I were you, I would think about what's my target audience care about. What influences them, what do they care about? And so, are blogs relevant? It really depends on who you're trying you trying to reach. If you that the people that you're trying to reach like to find out what you think, and like to, sort of, get into you head before they'll start to trust you, then I think the blog is a very useful tool. The other thing I would say about building an audience around the blog, it can be damn expensive. So, I understand what you're saying about how do you build that community on the blog if you're creating all this content on, why wouldn't you just jump on Facebook and put your original content out there, or put it on Twitter, because it goes to various people? AB: Can I ask a question? Why would it be expensive to build an audience on a blog? PM: It depends on your topic, right? If you're blogging about something like Obama, then surely, everyone is always searching for Obama. AB: You're talking about buying keywords, is that what you're talking about? PM: If you're buying keywords, buying impressions through advertising - that's my opinion. I've seen it, it's expensive to build a community around [Cut off.] AB: [Cut in] I've never done that in my life. I've got the largest business and technology blog in DC, and I've been going at it for five years, and I haven't spent a dollar. GB: I think her point is very valid, and definitely reflects on everyone's company and that is, new media has infinite possibilities for being a black hole that you just pour money down. And it gets back to the question of, if you just think, I don't understand this, but, hell with it, we'll just spend $15000 and get some results, that's a foolish way to go about it, and you're pouring your money down the toilet. Whereas, it's important to realize that the baseline is free, and, starting off with just using these tools in a forthright and pragmatic way doesn't cost you anything. And you can add money to get more results from there, but it's a mistake to just add money and to get more results from there, but it's a mistake to just add money and expect results. DO: And to add to that, it's a very personalized, individualized thing for everybody, it's very easy to blow your budget on Google adware. I mean Google will just charge that credit card, and before you even know it, you've spent 20000 bucks. But, on the other hand, it can also be expensive in time, and not expensive in money. It takes time to put that original content out there. I'm a very pragmatic guy. I have a voice recorder on the table here, and a camera up there, I'm capturing this content. Why am I capturing this content? Because, this was really valuable content. If you think about this, what's all of our time worth? I don't know, $100 an hour, $200 an hour, more? And, how many of us are in this room? This is a very expensive session that we're having together, and the irony is that everyone's going to walk out of here, and all this content would have been lost. It's amazing, I have to think that in 20 years people are going to look back and say, for the first x-thousand years of human civilization, you're telling me that content was just lost out there, with [...]. [Laughter] It doesn't make sense to me. So, I capture the content whenever I can, I have a woman who lives in Washington state who transcribes it for 15 cents a minute, and I put it on my blog. And, I've been able to get a page rank 5 on Google for a domain name, PointAbout, that's been around for less than a year, which is amazing. Google is thirsty for original content. So, you're asking me about driving traffic, that was your original question. And, my answer would be, only one of your goals is driving traffic. Another one of your goals is saving time. If you can write something on a blog, instead of writing it a thousand times by e-mail, poorly, write it once on a blog, well, and send that blog out - a] you've gotten a time savings out of that for all the future people that ask that question, but, b] by putting that original content out there, or even better by capturing content - capture your CEO, or CMO. When I was doing real estate, I would wear a lapel mic, and I would tell my clients, "Do you mind if I just record me showing you homes?" Because there are people out there that have never bought a home that would love to know what the experience is like. [Laughter] And, then I would have a woman transcribe it for 15 cents a minute and put it on my blog, right? Right, and that's a lot of rich original content, and Google will reward you for that. SG: I think we have time, two things that I want to talk about, that I'm not an expert on Google search engine optimization, but I do think we should just say for the audience here, in case people don't know, like Google Juice, the way Google ranks you is based on how frequently your website is updated, in addition to how many times you use those keywords. So, I encourage all of you to get with your web team, if you're not already, or whoever has your analytics, and find out what words people are using to find your site, and really optimize around those. And, a lot of people start their web experience with search. [Aside to panel] I don't know the statistics, do you guys, it's like 90%? [AB confirms it's about 90%.] So, when we're talking about like a pragmatic strategy, I would definitely say start with your search terms and [to DO], do you want to talk about Google? DO: I just going to say that Google is very smart about it. They even know of the domain name address, where the domain name was registered is the same, it matches up to the address on your website, they will give you credit for that, because that shows that you are actually the owner of that domain name; it gets down to that level of detail. So, Google SEO - search engine optimization should be for any business, I think, a key part of your initiative, because that's like buying real estate in New York in 1900. You can rent that space through ad words, but if you put the time and effort now into buying that space, you get Google to like what you're doing now; it's going to pay off for the next 100 years. GA: The one thing I was going to just put on top to what the gentleman said a couple of times before was, he is incredibly right, because one third of new media as a whole is content, content, content. And, you're crazy if you have a company blog that is updated once a week. And you're crazy if you have a Twitter feed, but, don't actually don't create anything new, you just link to what you're already, [changes thought], fresh content is crucial. And the fact is, he's ahead of the curve on all this, but every person in here should blog and say, "Today I went to this forum, and here's a link to the video." It's connecting to what someone else has done, it's good content is right behind having you done[?] the content yourself. MT: Let's bring us into organizations, and it's interesting that there are still companies that still convincing of having a social media plan. Us, as marketers, we have some executives you can to talk to until you're blue in the face and try to convince them to change or consider a new idea. But those companies are for those individuals that work for companies that are adverse to this social media craze, how can you convince them that this is good for their business? AB: I think all you got to do, and I'm going to avoid doing the normal, somebody's going to bring up Zappos, someone is going to bring up Dell, somebody's going to bring up Southwest Airlines, but, I think [Some bantering and laughter]. I think if you look at the [changes thought], once you get away the head of the tail of the big companies that everybody knows that using social media, I think there a whole lot of really great examples of companies that are doing it really well. And I wrote a blogpost on my blog the other day, just like the greatest experience I ever had with customer service, via Twitter; and that was with my bank, 1st Mariner Bank, in Baltimore. I was having a really bad day as a result of them, and went ballistic! [Laughter]. Their customer service guys on Twitter reached out to me and through a couple days of exchanging direct messages, and him going above and beyond wearing more than the minimum pieces of flair [Laughter]. I'm telling you, it was great example. You take a look at that, and now this guy is getting all kind of attention outside of my blog, outside of 1st Mariner Bank, there's a number of other posts that have been written about my experience, and all of a sudden you start seeing a pattern that there's a direct line that goes from the engagement in social media to the ROI that the company wants to have, every company wants to have. And I think that, when you're talking to the executives, when you're talking to the people that make the decisions at the top, they want to know where is the value for the company. It's nice that there is this experience; it's nice that you can talk to customers, but how does it actually help us run a business and make money, because everybody wants to make money, and that's the end of the day. PM: And more and more marketing is going online, I just looked at some Forrester[?] today that was looking at the growth in interactive, where it's coming from, it's coming from traditional channels. The emphasis is there, the audience is there, so I think it becomes a lot easier when you start to see your competitors being there. As a business-to-business marketer who has always been inside companies having to sell ideas before they actually get approved, a lot of times people will respond best to what they're seeing their competitors do, or where see an opportunity where their competitors are not. A lot of the time that I spend in my job is looking at what our competitors are doing, or not or doing, so that we can do it first. SG: I'd say Pew Internet and American Life, they do all the demographic research of who's using social media, and I think that's really important information for executives who haven't been convinced yet, to really dissolve the myth that the blogger is a teenager in the basement. And, I think the fastest growing demographic right now on Facebook is women 50 and older, and it's growing by hundreds of percentages a month, and we just had the officication of Twitter [Laughter]. We're also absorbed at who's using it - it's our world. But, I think people, who it's not their world don't really realize that is where the majority of people are, and you have to go to where your consumers are, and that is Facebook and Twitter. DO: I'll just use a couple of real examples. I'm a very pragmatic guy, right? So, as an entrepreneur you have to be really pragmatic. PointAbout is a company that makes Ifonets, we actually made an Ifonet for 1st Mariner, but, I'll use real estate, because it's such a backwards industry, nobody even knows how to check e-mail in real estate. So, it's really easy to get progressive in real estate. And, I'm a big fan of YouTube, I use Vimeo now, but, it's just like YouTube. I am a big fan of, for example, I made a lowball offer video, which is just 'drodio.com/lowball.' It's our real estate company name .com/lowball. And, I walked potential clients through what the steps were to make a good lowball offer. And, there are some things that we do that are different from norm, or whatever. I can't tell you how many clients came to us and said, "I watched your video and I want to work with you." It was a warm referral lead, the thing that realtors will kill for. This is very significant, we had cold marketing leads coming to us as if they were warm referrals, because they felt like they knew what we were capable of. Again, it's getting the expertise out of your head, and into the hands of the people that you don't want making that decision, so I think the really way to start is with something like YouTube, and to take a video of the product manager, don't take a video of the PR person, take your video of the product manager at your company who has lived and breathed that product and knows it in and out. A very real video, into what you're saying, does not marketing speak, don't edit it, don't make it look all glossy, make it gritty and real, and put that up on YouTube, and then send people to it, or use Google search engines and officications[?] who can find it, and you will find that's a very easy way to have a small test, and all about making the food before you build the restaurant, don't spend all this money on building the restaurant and nobody wants to eat the food. So, small tests, and you can then show your boss, "Hey, I did this video and we got 20 sales out of it." And it's a very trackable thing. MT: For those that work for organizations, if you don't mind me asking, that are still on the fence, or adverse to it, what's the reason? [Some disjointed comments from the audience.] U/i Female Speaker C: [Extremely poor audio.]The reason is the RY[?], there has been a lot of research with Twitter and other social media[?] that talk about the RY to try to shield my company's [...] officers. [...] field marketing has a 45 [...] RY [...] the numbers go up [...]. Social media is not there, and, so, even though we have a lot with Twitter, and [...] everybody will comment, but the weak [...], and everything, I personally maintain it's great, but my CEO [...] and he [...] numbers wise . So, I would say that probably is a lot of [...], we want to get the highest return on what little resources we have, [...] social media [...]. DO: See, I take a big exception to that, and it's not with you, it's with your CEO. I will call your CEO personally and talk to him or her [Laughter.] Because, the cost is zero, it's an intern's time. And, you know what, the intern can do it the best that of everybody at the company. So, take the unpaid intern and have him do a small test - a very small pragmatic test. PM: I disagree with that. I tell you. I think it depends on the business, right? And so, in some businesses and certain niches, it's fine. Your intern's going to do a great job of representing your brand. I think with other businesses where you have a complex product that you're trying to sell, or complex solution that you're trying to sell, it's something that needs to be bought in at the top level, because it requires the involvement of high-priced people. And that's just been my experience. So, looking at it from different perspectives, small business - large business, business - consumer versus business-to-business, it really does matter. AB: I can see where you're coming from, and I've already fought with you about it today [Laughter.] What I would say is that I find it really interesting that your CEO would put more stock in ad words that he would in social media engagement. Cause, at the end of the day, I hear the argument that he is making. At the end of the day, you're putting your money into ad words and, you might get the results, what are the results? So many impressions that actually turn into an actual sale. And, these are rhetorical questions, right, so I'm asking not asking you directly. What I 'm saying is you can put $5000 into a campaign and never get a sale out of it - that's trackable, Google delivered those impressions, but is that actually a valuable investment when there's no sale, on the other hand, like an intern, or somebody, anybody in the company getting out there and talking to people like they want to be talked to in the effort and hope that you might get a sale out of that, probably has a much higher chance of actually converting than, instead of following ad words up there and spending thousands of dollars. GB: So, I think that part the confluence of where I believe both Aaron and Patricia are right, has to do with, I've been advocating for a very realistic and down-to-earth investment of money in the media. I do believe that it's worth investing in, and I believe it can be done well. He's right, that when it comes to the financial investments, well, part of it's very minimal manpower, and very minimal financial investments, it started. The important question though is whether or not the upper echelon and the leadership, as a whole, are willing to invest in the media, personally. And if you have an organization where you tell the unpaid intern, 'Hey, go do this, ok, how many [...] just go do it", and no one talks to that intern, and they attempt it on their own, you're going to have terrible results. And the question is, if that intern is allowed to, once a month, take a video camera and have 30 minutes of the CEO's time to do a direct-to-camera video for the YouTube Channel - that's going to work, and that didn't cost any money other that the CEO's time. But that's the problem is while these organizations where the CEO says, "Yeah, but I don't have time for it, my managers don't have time for it. We want someone to go do something." MT: Let's take a couple questions. U/i Female Speaker D: I work for a large government contractor and we are just now, we just hired a social media manager, and started a YouTube channel, but it's taken a long time and it's a fairly sizeable company. And I think the resistance is security, as she mentioned. But also, our clients are government decision makers, and they tend to be[?] older, and the belief is that social media is for a younger generation. So, what have you found in your research and your findings that I can take back to my CEO and say, "No, there is research that shows this attracts older government decision makers." PM: So, Forrester just put out a report, a social technographics report. So they look at different demographics, and they map their social behavior. So, they start at the most engaged all the way down to people who are just spectators or uninvolved. And that's the kind of data that you could put in front of a C-level person, or director-level person. They want to know what's the survey data telling you about the kinds of people that you're trying to reach. I would definitely recommend looking at something like that. [Clarifies for questioner that the organization is Forrester Research.] DO: Also, Pew Internet just recently did a talk at the Web Editors Roundtable which is a great event. I captured the content, so you're welcome to come see it. It's on the site, pointabout.com - just search for Pew, and you'll find that. It's called, "The Nine Tribes of the Internet", and it talks about very specific slicing of all the different types of users, and what the growth trends are, or, they're not all growing, but, many of them are. A lot of them do skew, just actually like [...] was saying. And Patricia, just for the record, I'm not going disagree with you at all. I completely agree with you. In the best of both worlds, this is a top-level down strategic thing that's being done, but I feel like we're all kind of sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. It's like you have to go show some small successes in order to be able to get that big budget, and I guess that was my point. MT: Let's take two more questions on the topic. SG: I think one thing that we haven't gotten to that could reach your audience is that journalists are watching social media, because that's where the buzz is coming, and even if it's not reaching your consumers, it's reaching the people who write to your consumers, who are still reading the paper on paper, probably. So I think you can relationship build with journalists directly, you can keep story ideas, and position yourself as a thought leader, via Blogink, so that when it comes time for they need an expert for their story, and they either Google, or they've seen you Tweet about it, then they're going to reach out to you. So, that's our long term. U/I Female Speaker E: And that's what exactly we've done. We've used it on a PRN, but not so much in the market. MT: Carrie, in the back, do you have a question? Carrie: [Very poor audio] I've noticed with some companies that the push for ROI comes [...] in that it vies with traditional things like advertising and public relations. It's actually not, [changes thought], you can't always make that tie from placing that ad to placing that sale, and [...] metric. So, they still do it, because they've always done it. And, the social media is damned[?]. And, I'm wondering, take the part that says that's part of it, and also, maybe some tools to overcoming that problem[?]. GB: One thing which I think is to your question, and to the question right before it, it's worth trying to double[?] show them surveys and results that have been done by their people, but it's incredibly important to be tracking the work you're doing in the meantime, it's sourcing everything you can. And between Google Analytic and YouTube accounts, they now have analytics built into it that you can actually see the sex breakup, the age breakup of people watching your videos. On all these things you can be tracking what's going on in the meantime. And, you can be saying, "I know that someone came to this part of our website and bought this from one of our ads, because we can track that." And, it's of incredible importance to be trying to convince these people by saying, "I've doing this for the last few months and here, I can show you quantitative results." And try to get that from your TV advertisement, department, or you old media, because you just can't. Not like this. U/i Male Speaker A: I have a comment on that, too. You can do targeted access campaigns. So, I'm a big believer of doing a lot of testing, as well. That's what I was going to tell you. Google allows you to target by domain, target by geography, and target by time of day. So, if you're trying to reach government influencers, 8[:00]-to-5[:00] from D.C., from Punjab, Thai domain names, and whatnot. [...] if you do a lot of really small parts to see what kind of traffic is running to your site, outgoing [...]. GB: Just the one thing that already enforces that, and I forget about this, but, ad from Facebook? You can target it to say, I really want these people to see this if they work at the department of whatever, and such, or, I want people to see this if they are literally on a computer in the Capitol Building. You can target like nobody's business. DO: You can also get on the content side. Google offers a great set of tools. How many people in this room are doing AB Multivariate testing, for example? I not surprised the answer's zero, so AB Multivariate testing is for every piece of content you have, every web page you have, you have the a] control, and, the b] contender. And Google offers this for free, where you can say, "Google, I want you serve up about a 50-50 ratio of what I think is the best page, and then what the intern thinks is the best page, or whatever. And let those two pages 'duke it out'." And Google will tell you which one is performing better, and you just keep repeating that cycle. You can increase your conversion rates from 1% to 7% on a page by doing that. Which is very significant, you just increased by 700% the number of people that are contacting you off of a page. So, there are tools you can use like that. Also, just very quickly to your point, there are some very non-threatening things that you can do with social media. You're saying that you're already, for example, interviewing the CEO, or your doing a blog list. Start, transcribe it, and turn it into text. All that great video and audio, Google can't see that, it's opaque to Google. So, you've just spent all this time creating all this great audio and video, but you're not getting any Google credit for it. Spend $.15, $.25, $.50 a minute for that on Craigslist; you'll get tons of responses from people willing to transcribe your content into text. Put that below the page, but, the video and the audio, the transcription is not for the humans - it's for Google. MT: Let's talk about 'Buzz', and what is Buzz tracking, and can we honestly measure that. How can you honestly measure that? AB: I think everybody's going to say Twitter. Hash Hacks[?], but, I think that's also kind of a game system, and I don't think it's a very good system. But, certainly, although I don't know if there's an answer to that, I don't know if anyone here has an answer to that, you can probably patent it. But, there are all kinds of different [changes thought]. NY Times has BlogRunner, which is sort of their top news in a variety of different verticals. It's not just NY Times content, they track blogs, and they track other things, as well. In political space, there's the media randoms, and the technemes, and the Technoratis, and all these different sites that will sort of give you a picture of what people are talking about at the moment, with Twitter you have the hashtag and the trending topics. I don't know if there's really an answer to that. SG: How many people in here are familiar with the concept of the long tail? The idea is that the top 10% of, like, say, blogs are getting 90% of the readership, and then there's long tail of like 90% of the blogs are only getting 10% of the readership. And, they are these very niche communities. But there is a lot of value, and there are books written about this, and it's a big popular theory in social media. There is a lot of value in the long tail, and that's where people even see the internet going with trends with hyper logo[?], and things like this, the way we are able to do all this targeting. So, you can generate Buzz with a very small community, but it can be a very important community to your brand, or your mission. So, it goes back to the Obama-like results, that are graded on a national level, but it really depends on who your audience is, and who you're trying to reach. And it could be very easy to get the attention now, it's like, you can't really get the mommy fear, but maybe just the mommy fear who knit, too, or has a child who's dealing with an illness, and they're doing a lot of doctor's visits, but that may be a very key audience for you. So, the idea is maybe don't worry about getting the biggest Buzz, but really getting a buzz with your niche audience. DO: So, two quick thoughts - one about long tail, and the other about Twitter. First, Twitter. How many people have an RSS feed of Twitter searches set up right now? So, three people. Alright, you can do this when you get home tonight, and this is awesome. I'll tell you, this is going to change your life, maybe. [Laughter.] So go to search.twitter.com, and just search for anything, search for your name, your company's name, maybe a product that you're interested in, you know, 'F22 Raptor', whatever it is for you defense folks [Laughter.] And then, on the top right there's a little RSS icon which most of you, do you understand RSS? Right, so you can click on that and you can come into your e-mail, or into an RS reader - you will be amazed at what you find. The interactive manager for Coca-Cola was doing this, Coke has this Coke Rewards thing, and I asked her, her name is Carol. I said "Carol, are you tracking what people are saying about My Coke Rewards?" She said, "No, we're not." I said, "You should be, let's do it!" [Laughter.] And, people were like sharing codes on Twitter, and bashing it, it was very enlightening. So, that's super simple, it's free, it takes a second to do, it'll make you look like the smartest person in your office. You also get the news first when it's something that is pertinent to you, so that's very user [cut off.]. AB: You can also embed it. You embed those searches in Twitter. You use Twitter.com, you do your search on the sidebar, and then you can actually save that search and keep going back to it, as well. DO: So, it doesn't really answer the Buzz question, but it, at least, let's you personally see about things that you care about quickly. PM: Well, there are also tools, like Metrics, and I think, Nielsen, either they bought Metrics, or they have their own competing products that actually look at brand perceptions, and so, will look at beyond just what's happening on the web, overall perceptions with the brand, with the social media being a component of it. So, that is a tool that's out there, or a capability that's out there, that if you're in an organization that's very brand sensitive, very focused on what people are saying about you, you may want to invest in something like that. GB: Just one quick thing. I agree with using all of these tools. My umbrage connect comes back to the original question, and I'm not a big fan of Buzz, intrinsically, because in my mind, Buzz is ephemeral, and it's too ghostlike to just chase it for its own good. And, I think it's a mistake to not be focusing consistently on the question of whatever we're doing right now, already; can we use these tools to get an extra 5%? Can we use it to become more efficient with what we're already doing, and see it as a more down-to-earth disimprovement[?] of your results, as it is? MT: What were you going to say about long tail? DO: Do you want to hear about long tail? [Laughter] Are there any realtors in this room? Can you raise your right hand and say, "I will not share this with any realtor?" Seriously, just raise your right hand, "I won't share this with any realtor!" That was your let hand, by the way. [Laughter] So, when you Google search for any home that's for sale in the D.C. area, D.C. Virginia, and Maryland, my own real estate company typically comes up number one in they Google search results. How do we do that? We use the long tail. There are probably only one-to-ten people searching for any specific property, but because we were able to expose a database of content and get Google to spider that content, there are apparently 1000 people a month that submit leads off of those terms. This realty company gets 1000 leads a month from exposing a database. And, so the point is, to the long tail point, if you have a database of data that you can expose to the internet, and you can make it so that there might only be very few searches for each of those terms, but there are so many of them. And also, part of the theory of long tail is when people are searching, for example, for a specific property address, they've done their research, they've probable driven past the house or they know the street. People tend, on the long tail, to be much more serious searchers. If I'm just searching for Alexandria homes, I might not be nearly as far along in my home searches if I'm searching for 1234 Main Street. So, if you have a database of content, you can use the long tail to really drive a lot of searches to your site. MT: Let's talk, this is kind of a two-part question, a personal question, but, social media as this tool is fairly new. How has it helped you in your business? If you could highlight maybe one major success, and you draw it back to the applications that you have, that you utilize today; and the second question is, out of all these social media applications, what is you favorite, and why? Gray? [Laughter] This may be easy for you. GB: With the campaign, everything was, media was an equal player at the table to every other department. And, its success story was enhancing the finance field, political operations, every element that was pretty [..] in the campaign. I got more done because of media, and that's it. And, it was not worth it, intrinsically, it was worth just a management part that was already there. SG: I would have never expected that this would be my career. I was a lobbyist, and I went to law school, and I am a non-participating lawyer, social media consultant, who blogs about D.C. [Laughs] So, it was really unexpected, but I think that I just really loved tinkering with the tools world, experimenting and really engaging in community, [Changes thought], I knew all these people from the social media community, the tech community, even if we only Twittered at each other, it's just grown my network exponentially. And, my favorite tool would probably be Twitter. PM: Siteworx is different from others here, we do website development. I'm a B2B marketer. I think for us, what has helped us be is relevant. So, we have a lot of very technical people in our organization that talk tech all the time. From a marketing standpoint, I don't want to talk tech, I want to talk business problems. So, I want to understand what people who are in our space care about, it's helped us, in my mind to be more relevant. And I will say Twitter, but Twitter Search. Oh man, it's just awesome being exposed to what people are thinking, and from a marketing standpoint, I spent my whole career of trying to get into peoples heads, right? This is like right in their head, like all day long, so I think that to me is the best tool. DO: So, a great story about Twitter, because I think a lot of people are trying to figure Twitter out. I know that I'm still trying to figure out. But, I think the greatest thing about Twitter is an elementary teacher would Tweet what was going on in the classrooms to all the parents, so that when their child came home, they could, instead of saying, "How was your day?", and not getting a response, they could say, "Hey, how was that project in Christopher Columbus?" So that's a great example of the power of Twitter. Twitter Search, I completely agree, to me is the most powerful part of Twitter, it's not sending Tweets out, but it's seeing what other people are saying. I think I've given a lot of examples. I got to say that this idea, like Gray is saying, that social media is a tool, it's magnifying the others things that you're already doing. It's taking that content and distributing it out to the people that need to see it. I feel very strongly that's how you have to think about social media - as a magnifying glass, maybe that's a great way to say it. AB: Well, if it wasn't for social media, I'd still be working for one of the companies you work for. [Laughter] So, I'm self-employed, I have my own company, I built my company around social media, around WordPress, specifically, and added to my [...] as well, in there. And, if it wasn't for my engagement, and, honestly, social media has leveled the playing field for many people. It just allowed us all to compete on levels that we weren't able to compete on before. If it wasn't for that, then, I wouldn't' be where I am today. So, certainly it's been very important in my career and my life. I will also say Twitter, it's the best tool out there. Is that the trend? [Laughter] MT: Well, speaking about Twitter, maybe, do all you think that it can survive without having to sell any ads? Is it going to stay? AB: Oh, this is really a good question. Actually, we run a Twitter business model, that's cool. That would be a great conversation, actually. I think what they're probably going to end up doing is not selling ads, because the ad market is, kind of 'eh.' And, too many people were getting their Tweets not through, 'Tweetered up', huh? Through TweetDeck and Seizement[?] Desktop, and, whatever your household variety Twitter climate[?], Twitterberry, whatever, they're not going to be able to thread ads in there. So, don't think that that is really the way it is going to probably go, but, partnership of carriers. How many of us use Twitter on a mobile device? Ok, yeah. So, if AT&T, or Verizon, wants to start taking a little bit of a Twitter tax out, I see that as a way for them to make money, and possibly, Twitter'd make money that way, as well, in priority. But, that's net neutrality, and that's not really what I want to hear. [Laughter] DO: A great example of what one of the founders of Twitter mentioned, they've been very tightlipped about they're going to make money. But, after a lot of prodding, and I think, and all things, D Conference, the guy said, "All right, give us an example." "Imagine the flower shop has flowers that are going to be dead the next day, they can send a Tweet out saying, half-priced flowers if you come by before we close today." So, the stuff like that I think would very, very powerful. GB: I'd like to pursue a bit of the Craigslist model. I like the fact that I don't have to pay the post from Craigslist. And the way they do it, funny, if someone wants to have a business model based around posting on Craigslist, then they charge a very nominal fee. And, so you can make it so it's free for everyone who's at home, everyone is just an individual. I think we want to actually organize this small, and there are a lot of possibilities therein. If you charge something that's incredibly nominal, and then the other part that's really overlooked here is the amount of data they accumulate is enormous. And, for the first time in history, we're able to take enormous amounts of data, and really start crunching it in very interesting ways. If you can start actually drawing graphs and very rich details about how Coca-Cola sought you out, the potency there is enormous. DO: Speaking of kind of keeping t
I'm trying to write something personal improvement related every Monday and a story every Wednesday. I hope these are interesting to people, because I generally think that most personal improvement articles are relatively useless.
Every couple weeks I scan through lifehacker.com, and inevitably think "Man... this is a lot of useless junk."
Now... I've definitely found some good stuff there, and have had some of my articles featured there, so it's not ALL bad. I just feel like most personal improvement stuff is geared more towards FEELING like something has been accomplished rather than actually taking action.