Category: Marketing 2.0

Why write a blog at all?

A few people have been asking me lately why they should start a blog. They say that in a world of real time updates, tweets, and other ways of interacting with friends that there is no need. They say that there is not enough time, too much noise, and no way to stand out in a sea of bloggers and writers who all spew their words onto the web without any chance anyone will read them.

To them, I point them here to my own blog and simply leave them with this notion; your blog will show up at any meeting, job interview, or other interaction before you step foot through the door.

This means that although you might be joining millions of blog posts every day. A certain subset of people will read it. Those who are your friends and family, and those strangers who find you via search. This is not something to be afraid of, but rather embraced.

One of the things that stands out to me the most during a pivotal second round interview I had at Union Square Ventures. I sat down with one of the partners Brad Burnham, and presented my resume. He told me to hang on to it and he just wanted to chat.

When I pressed him as to why, he responded with something I will never forget which went something like this; “You can work really hard on crafting a well written, organized, resume with bullet points of accomplishments – but you can’t fake 500 blog posts.”

I was struck by this because I had never thought of things this way before. He was more interested in how I viewed the world (and subsequently the companies in it) rather than my list of things I think went well. Furthermore, he had already done his own homework seeing my previous employment history on the web (on LinkedIn)

So to this day, I think of that meeting, and what someone will read before an encounter. This is not supposed to come across as self important – but rather at the time someone is searching for YOU in particular, craft something that helps understand your worldview. It will certainly provide a better context for your first conversation, and it might even help you get a job in the process as it did for me.

The other benefits of continued writing for me are numerous. I continue to get amazing comments and emails from people from posts that are now years old. It started with myself and friend Lee Jones being afraid to post at all – and has resulted in the both of us growing with the medium.

So the next time someone asks me “why write a blog at all?” I am going to point them to this post, and hope they are convinced.

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NY Clothing Drive

Everyone has extra stuff to clean out of their closet, but no easy way to donate the bags of clothes. For that reason my friend David Fraga and I organized the New York Clothing Drive, where we come pick up your old items for free in the NY metro area.

It is a simple idea that has grown over the past few weeks since we launched the site, and we are now scheduled to pickup over 100 bags of clothes, and adding more every day.

If you are interested in getting your items picked up please sign up – or if you want to volunteer please get in touch.

When: Saturday February 6th, 2010.

How: Make a donation here to schedule a pick-up.  All proceeds will go to New York Cares.

Help us spread the word!

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“Meet Me for Coffee” – Informal Interviews with the Go-Between

This is a guest post from my friend David Schaffer

It’s a familiar mantra of job hunters: it’s not what you know, but who you know. So often, searching for a new job involves contacting everyone you know in your field, alerting them to your interest in a new position, and arranging to meet over coffee for a chat. These chats always seem to occur at Starbucks. You can spot them easily as they inevitably involve a duo at a small table: the candidate, energetic with a résumé in a leather portfolio; and the contact or “go-between,” impatient and looking as if he or she would rather be back at the office doing some real work.

The go-between might be a former employer; a friend of the family; a client; or maybe someone you met at a networking event who told you to call if you were ever looking to move.

coffeemeeting

The purpose of the go-between conversation – though, as part of some mysterious etiquette, neither the candidate nor the go-between would admit it – is to have a discussion of the candidate’s credentials before the go-between talks to his colleagues and friends who may be looking to hire. Although more formal interviews may follow, it is the informal Starbucks interview which will likely determine whether the candidate is even invited to apply for a position. If the Starbucks interview goes well, your résumé could be delivered to the top of the pile and you will be invited to interview with a stellar recommendation in your hip pocket; if, on the other hand, the Starbucks interview is a bust, your résumé is tossed in with the others, or worse yet, simply tossed.

As you cannot afford to blow the Starbucks interview, below is my approach, spelled out in a list of tips for the candidate

  • Remember the purpose of the meeting: the go-between will inevitably give you a list of employers to call, likely his own friends and colleagues. He will have mentally prepared this list in advance of your meeting. It is also very likely that the go-between will call his friends and colleagues after meeting with you to let them know you may be contacting them. As the go-between will inevitably give you some kind of recommendation, your only job is to make that recommendation a good one, rather than a negative one.
  • Get in and get out: don’t bore the go-between with your life story. Plan for the conversation to take no more than 15 minutes. You should only prepare to talk for five; the other ten are reserved for off-the-cuff conversation, but is generally fluff.
  • Keep the introductory small talk to a minimum – once you arrive, get your coffee and sit down, then casually embark on your prepared material.
  • First explain to the go-between what you can do for the company and then what the company can do for you.
  • Though it may seem counter-intuitive, spend as much time talking about what the company can do for you as you spend on why you’re a good fit for the company. Yes, you should discuss how this new job will further your career, and not just the company’s bottom line. The go-between desperately wants to know that this position, for which he is vouching for you, is an organic, natural progression for both the candidate and the employer. If the go-between believes that the joining of the candidate and the employer is a match made in heaven, this lends an air of inevitability to the conversation between the go-between and the employer.

You know going in to the Starbucks meeting that the go-between, at some point, will talk to an employer about you – maybe for a whole thirty seconds. You’re only interested in what the go-between tells that employer about you and, more to the point, how he says it. Your best case scenario is that the go-between tells the employer that you and the company are a natural fit that serves both parties’ interests. Therefore, you’d like the go-between to walk out of Starbucks thinking, “Matching that nice smart candidate with my friend’s firm is just another natural part in the life of that firm – not a forced union, but one predetermined by the laws of the universe. I’ll call my buddy and let him know this résumé is on its way and is a good fit.” You have a whole five minutes to convey this to the go-between, but watch out – it’s easy to make this sound insincere. Once your résumé arrives on the desk of the employer, you’ll know if you succeeded in your meeting with the go-between. If you did your job, you’ll hear from the employer within the week. If you didn’t do your job, well… time to call another go-between.

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Image courtesty of ShutterStock

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Talk to your customers – and let them talk to each other

Last week my friend Spencer Fry from Carbonmade showed me a cool activity he participates in about once a month. His company sends out a message to its users inviting them into a Drop.io chatroom to discuss Carbonmade which is an online design portfolio company, and talk to the founders. More importantly, users get a chance to talk to each other.

At first, much like any other new public forum, Spencer has to spark conversation and ask a few questions. But what follows is usually a dialogue between users of the system, or newcomers. This allows people the opportunity to meet people behind the service, but also get an idea of what really goes on before taking the plunge and becoming a paying customer.

This is a great example of loading up the top of your sales funnel.
carbonchatStarted by this tweet.

By inviting current and prospective customers to talk together you are building a brand ethos.

The beginnings of these chat rooms are always tough, like any new group, but once the conversations get started the rest is easy. You have to seed the discussion with news, updates, offers, invitations, or even soliciting feedback. Soon the conversations will happen between others in the room and you have achieved your goal.

This approach may not work for all businesses and brands, but if you can get a handful of people to click through to a chatroom once a month – you know you have interested people.

Many companies have two way communication via blogs and comments – but there is something powerful about a real time chat where you actually get to interact with the folks behind a business.

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Sentiment Analysis

Understanding when your company or brand is being talked about is important. Understanding whether or not your company or brand is being talked about positively or negatively may be more important.

In the last few years the research behind sentiment analysis has ranged from thumbs upthumbs down and emoticon faces to more advanced methods.

A few companies mentioned in the article above are trying to sort out the signal from the noise like Tweetfeel, twendz, and twitrratr and others like Trendrr (can I buy a vowel please alex). Each has their own way of parsing data, mainly Twitter data, to mine the conversations for sentiment.

In the larger universe of analytical tools you have companies like BuzzLogic, TechRigy, Radian6, Visible Technologies, Viral Heat, and a bunch of new startups all trying to solve this marketers puzzle.

At the low end these services cost $10.00-$20.00 per month and on the high end thousands. Depending on what you are tracking, how far back you want to go, and how hands on of a solution you need, someone is building a sentiment analysis tracker for your.

The goal here is to track beyond mentions. For example, if your brand is mentioned 2,654 times – how do you know what the sentiment of mostsomeall of those messages are? Where are conversations happening about your brand in the first place? How can you respond back to solve problems, answer questions, and apologize where necessary?

In thinking about the sentiment analysis market, I am trying to frame thinking 5 years out when brands will themselves have more conduits to their customers. Will systems still exist that brands do not know about and are not tracking? Or will the convergence of connectivity mean a more aware corporate culture that does not need to use yet another tool in their arsenal. Perhaps 5 years is too short of a timeline, but certainly they will have a grasp on this in 10-20 years.

I am curious to know what tools I should be looking at and how people are solving brand tracking probelms today. Let me know if you have ideas in the comments below.

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Marketing.fm is growing up (or year 3)

My friend Lee Jones and I started Marketing.fm in March of 2006, which feels like a decade ago.

Since then a lot has happened and since I missed providing a 3 year birthday update this year I thought a post was due. If you want to catch up on previous milestones see Year 1 and Year 2.

What prompted this post is that I had the pleasure of attending Lee’s wedding a few weeks ago where Lee Jones and Eliza Funston had a beautiful ceremony up in Sudbury, MA. Lee and I caught up about our journey so far, and I thought sharing this picture and our brief story was worth a post. Below is a picture of us at his wedding in the backyard of Eliza’s house where the ceremony took place.


EricandLee

I have not told this story on the blog before, but told many people in person and thought I would finally get it down in writing.

Lee and I started Marketing.fm while we were both working at Grey Advertising in NY. Specifically, we both worked at MediaCom with Lee doing TV buying and me working on traditional Media Planning. We collaborated on the inaugural MediaCom University class where the goal was to learn about the media business. From there we went on to work together on a few client projects all the while becoming good friends. Having a background and interest in technology and all things Internet related I soon worked for Beyond Interactive, working on many of the Grey brands and coming up with digital strategies.

We both were at the absolute bottom of the pecking order, getting paid next to nothing, and had a lot to say.

We also both talked a big game about articles in our field, conferences we were not attending, and a slew of other things related to marketing and technology.

It was not long before the entrepreneur in me broached the subject of writing a blog. Lee had a background in teaching and writing English, and I thought we had collaborated well together so we took the plunge in March of 2006.

At first, we blogged anonymously because we thought we would lose our jobs if Grey found out. I know this sounds crazy in hindsight, but this was at a time where corporations had not exactly embraced blogging, let alone employees blogging about their industries.

We knew we had a niche topic, but the goal was to provide ourselves with the soap box we did not get elsewhere. Emails and notes sent into AdAge went unanswered, conference organizers ignored our pleas, and anyone above our level wanted nothing to do with two entry level worker bees.

Thus Marketing.fm was born and we joined the conversation.

We soon attracted a following of marketing and advertising professionals and knew we were onto something when comments and emails came in from others like ourselves.

Our thirst to add value to the blogosphere was quenched, but this put the focus back on our day jobs. We both knew it was time to make moves.

In the next chapter of my career I joined a Search Marketing startup called Reprise Media. I joined the account management side of the business working with direct clients and agencies on SEM, SEO, and Social Media campaigns. I stayed for a few years, learned many lessons and gains a few mentors, and rode through an acquisition by IPG. This was certainly one of the most influential jobs I have ever had, but I will save that for another post.

A few months later Lee also left MediaCom and joined a startup called Reviewed.com.

As you can see we are both inherently entrepreneurs and working at a large corporation just didn’t seem like a good fit.

Fast forward a bit and I found myself wanting to work more with startup companies and get even more entrenched in the web. Largely through this blog I got my next job at Union Square Ventures, which I described here.

Lee also left his next startup stepping stone, and with polished sales skills joined an awesome team at ValueClick.

Rather than providing links to posts from year 3, I thought I would provide a history of the Marketing.fm founders. We have certainly come a long way since we decided to start an anonymous marketing blog. It may not be the biggest and most subscribed to blog on the Internet, but that was never the goal.

We continue to use this platform as a catalyst of conversation and a test bed for new ideas. Doing it all in public has been a learning experience, constructive, and certainly a lot of fun – so thank you!

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Google Allowing other Ad Networks to run in AdSense Placements

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Google announced a new way to maximize revenue potential with current ad placements by allowing participating ad networks to run ads in current AdSense spots. I received an email update earlier, but the feature is not yet active within my account.

I find this an interesting move and one that enforces the location and position that Google ads have on so many sites using AdSense.

It is the next extension for those that find Google Ad Manager too difficult, or not worthwhile as they do not have the need for third party ads.

For many, AdSense is use in tandem with other networks and now having a built in ad optimizer will be an interesting option. This also is interesting for those it the yield optimization businesses.

Its important to note that all filters including competitive ad filters, category filters, and privacy filters will translate through to these new networks.

Below is a video explaining the new feature:



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Designing for Social Traction

It seems to be presentation week at Marketing.fm but as I find great resources I like to share and archive them here. This one comes from social web design expert Bokardo. I am sorry I missed this one in person, but that is why being able to share and embed great presentations is helpful.


I particularly like seeing the visualization of the hurdle of signup on a user on Slide 19. Its the perfect picture of the wave that users ride before getting into a service.

I wonder however how the effect of OAuth and other authentication services impact user signup, or if they even matter at all. My prediction is that as things like Facebook Connect, Twitter Accounts, and Google Connect will make the barriers to becoming a “user” lower, but overall active users or rolling 30 day actives much lower.

I like the idea of designing for social traction, and much like SEO it makes sense to start thinking about early in the production and development of your site.

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Corporate Culture (NetFlix)

I have worked at a few different companies since I started my career, while in college at many traditional organizations and after college at a few startup environments. I came across this presentation by NetFlix at CommunityGuy and wanted to share it here.


Culture
View more presentations from reed2001.

It goes into some great points.

I love the fact that you can go through this presentation and get great points out of it without having text overload or a speaker narrating to you. It tells its story well which is tough to do without a speaker, but also has some great points.

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