spam is not a sales tool, it's an annoyance

Disclaimer: The advise I am about to dispense is in no way meant to offend, but rather should be viewed as constructive advice for generating strong sales leads.  As I say at the end of this letter, if you would like to reach me or any other new media blogger, the best way to get through is by joining the conversation, posting relevant comments on our blogs and becoming an organic part of our networks where appropriate.  If you would like to discuss your own pitch please feel free to email me.

Open Letter To Emerging Properties Sales Teams

As a tech enthusiast, early adopter and overall geek, I'm generally a sucker for digital toys and goodies.  I regularly enjoy meeting with emerging properties and working together to build out advertiser/marketer friendly solutions.   But I've got to say, if you're going to sell a product, please do us all a favor and actually SELL it! 

How many times a week do we get spammed about "new", "innovative", "product 'x' killers"?

And these emails generally look alike!  These companies generally sell themselves as the "next generation" of something already around, but way better (for all-too-often unsubstantiated reasons).  I'm sure your product is great, and I'd love to meet with many of you and learn more about what you have to offer, but please do both of us a favor and consider your pitch from our perspective. 

We get these emails all the time. The buzzwords you're using build excitement have become so commonplace that they are now at best white noise.  Think of it in terms of you're own lives, how often do you click on a banner ad asking you to shoot the monkey and win an XBOX 360?  This is the 2.0 marketer equivalent of "next gen innovative convergent 2.0 solution".

So here's some free advice: either write to stand out, clearly and succinctly summing up your offering and unique value proposition, or pick up the phone and make a direct connection.  If you don't have our numbers, the least you could do would be to write an email that doesn't feel like a form letter.  Of course the more creative and personable you are in your presentation and pitch the more your product will stand out.  You're a marketer, you're a sales person, and we recognize your position.  We're not looking for a silver bullet solution to all our problems nor do we expect you to provide us with one; but we do expect you to market to us as individuals with unique needs.

We are all busy working people with tight schedules. If you really want to make an impression and get that client or sale, prioritize your efforts.  Rather than shooting off a form email to hundreds of contacts on a list you either bought or got from an associate who once met with me, take some time and learn a bit about my business, read a couple of posts on my blog and then write a letter that communicates your understanding of both my business and my needs.

Back to your own lives, wouldn't you be more likely to respond to someone who called you with an interesting offer at a time that was convenient for you, than to reply to junk mail?  Your pitches and products are greater than junk mail!  Let's market them as such! 

Towards that end, if you have a product and would like some feedback on your pitch, please feel to free to send me an email and ask for help!  Bloggers as a group are generally very open and friendly, we're accessible and available, dispensing free advise on a daily basis.  Comment on our blogs and we will see your name, join the conversation and we will know who you are.  It's always easier to make a meaningful pitch to an old friend!

more than one war may be decided by customer service

Hung_2 Isn't it a shame that one of the most innovative products of the year, the iPhone, is being talked about not for it's amazing features, but the many ways Apple has messed with their loyal customer base? Whether it be paper bills of encyclopedic proportions, refund-gate or most recently iBrick-gate, Apple's marketing engine seems to have lost their mojo.  Their sales will continue to climb because of their amazingly engineered products; but this growth is not due to their marketing efforts but despite them.

With the next generation of broadband connectivity (and all the IPTV goodness it brings) finally making it into our homes, it looks like customer centric marketing may very well determine the victor in what is already a fiercely competitive market.  While Comcast has driven an elderly woman to open a can on their merchandise at a retail store, Verizon is touting a new age of home connectivity that empowers customers by delivering a better, stronger consumer experience.   With Verizon it's all about the customer, and this is why they already have a leg up in my mind.

A few months of slow access with DSL and years of satisfactory experience with cable connectivity have created an affinity that is not easily erased.  However, the forgettable customer service I've encountered with cable companies to date may very well lead me to try out Verizon's latest offering in FiOS.

But that's just me, how about you?

the dove onslaught

Dove_logo Oglivy is doing some fantastic work with these Dove videos.  While their newest work, Onslaught  (see below) is not quite as shocking as their Evolution piece, it delivers to a more targeted and possibly influential audience: parents.  Whereas Evolution was a mass audience phenomena raising awareness around an issue and largely targeting adults, Onslaught looks and feels like an extremely well produced anti-smoking campaign - complete with the "talk to your children" tagline. 

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the video below and firmly believe that it will be significantly impact-full against the target audience, generating parental discussions with children and gaining an additional foothold as "our brand" , almost like a family heirloom or relationship that is passed on from mothers to daughters. 

But I'm still a fairly new parent, what about you guys?  Would this video be something you would shared with your children?

standing up for freedom... or not

Imagine The internet has been abuzz over a Canadian high school where two students stood up against a couple of hateful bullies and successfully changed a school.  The short story is this:

A 9th grad boy came into school wearing a pink short.  A few bullies mockingly called  him homosexual and physically threatened him.  In classical high school fashion, no one stood up to the bullies and everyone went on their way.

However, when two twelfth graders heard about these bullies, they embarked on an e-campaign asking people to wear pink on the next school day.  Hundreds of students participated.  The mocked student was no longer ashamed and the bullies were effectively silenced.

For the full story click here.

By now we've all seen the video of a college student being tasered for speaking up.  Sure we're posting (my initial post here), we're talking.  But what are we DOING?  I just ran a quick Google search, and I can't find a single movement fighting for "Justice for Mostafa Tabatabainejad".  The best I could find is this petition.

While it is imperative that we each take action for what we believe in, Comedy Central's news outlets (The Colbert Report and to a lesser extend the Daily Show) raised a stunning point: no one in the room stood up to help him!  

What would you have done had you been in that room?

(Please excuse the religious reference, but I studied talmudic law and ethics for quite some time.)  The talmud has a dictum colloquially called: b'makom sh'ein ish - literally translated as: "in a place where there is no man... you must arise and be a man".   The principle is this: at a time where no one is standing up (read: being a man), you have an obligation to stand up.  At a time without leaders, it is the responsibility of each and every capable person to lead.  Would you have stood up, shouted, led or protested?

What does it say about our educational system when a room full of college students sit by and watch their fellow student take a beating? 

Are there no morals being conveyed as part of our higher educational experience?  Sure students protest after the fact, but where were they while this was happening? 

And perhaps more importantly, what was Kerry doing while this was happening? 

Why didn't he maintain control, or at least do SOMETHING?

the nerd tax

Dollars Bill Maher had a great line, succinctly summing up this entire iPhone refund fiasco:

"It's not a price cut, it's a repeal on the nerd tax"

As an admitted (at times) nerd, I recognize that we often pay "taxes" for being the first out of the gate.

iPhone buyers weren't upset over the tax, they were upset that Apple didn't play by the tax rules.  If you pay the tax, you expect something in return, notably - the recognition as someone who is first, who is leading, who is light years ahead of everyone else.  Jobs didn't play by the rules - he tried to reinvent them.

The 3 Principles of The Early Adopter/Nerd Tax Dynamic
- from the eyes of a nerd -

  1. The nerd will do ridiculous things (ie paying the nerd tax) to get his or her hands on something new and possibly shiny
    • ridiculous things may include:
      1. waiting in line for hours or even days
      2. paying a pre-order fee
      3. overpaying (a direct form of nerd tax)
      4. dealing with an unfinished product - the "first gen" glitches
        • note: the nerd 2.0 does not consider leaving their mother's basement a ridiculous thing because the new nerd is the alpha in the pack, often presenting as an industry leader and successful business person.  The new nerd does not live in his mother's basement, the new nerd isn't an outcast.  The new nerd is a leader.
  2. This thing will make you feel superior, cooler and/or better because
    • you have this
    • everybody else doesn't
    • this thing is awesome (in the eyes of the nerd)
    • you are now an elite member of a select club
  3. Brands will recognize this nerd tax by giving nerds sufficient time to enjoy part 2, such that it offsets the inconveniences and inequities of part 1.

The Jobs Amendment

  • As the king of all nerds, I will not deliver on part 3.  Rather, I will refund some of your money, thereby allowing you to save face (kinda).

Why This Wasn't So Smart
Money is only a small (if at times significant) part of the overall picture.  Early adopters often adopt early because it is a personality statement: I am a leader. By marking down the price so drastically, so quickly he made the leaders look like fools.  The only way he could have restored their status would be by offering them something additional of meaning well in advance of anyone else, something that would restore their stature as leaders - and he didn't.

Sure returning the money was a smart move, but I would have expected more out of one of the greatest marketing gurus of our generation.  There should have been something else up his sleeve, something truly special that rewarded his early adopters for adopting early.

Apple: getting it right... kinda

The Glory...
The Majesty...
The Wonder...
of me.

I am... Steve Jobs.

I sold you an overpriced gadget that may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread.

I then issued a $200 price cut just two months later.

But fear not... for I will give you a $100 rebate in iCash, that is - money you can spend on my iMerchandise at any iStore.

Oh "And One More Thing" - Love me.  For I did not need to give you this refund, but I love you because you love me, so enjoy this iGift of gifts.

- end of hyperbole -

Honestly, does anyone out there think early adopters aren't going to jump on his next overpriced piece of iGadgetry?  Will anyone out there wait for a month, or two, or three - to buy the next iPhone (now with a can opener!)  ? 

Sure, waiting might save you a buck, but after all, Isn't being an early adopter about being the first? 

when the ____ hits the fan

FanCC Chapman is brilliant.

Yesterday he posted this comment regarding the Quechup fiasco:

"...And it's going to get worse tomorrow when lots of people in the US get back from vacation and start accepting and starting another whole round of spam."

And behold... it is coming true!  It has gotten to the point that I've had to send out a department wide email across all of our offices warning them against joining Quechup. 

This is not to say that I'm getting too many invites internally, but I know I am in a few too many address books over here, and if I get another piece of mail from these people, I think we're going to have to start signing up their executives for SPAM.

For more coverage of this spammy goodness check out Greg V here, CC here, Pete Cashmore here, Godin here, Matt Dickman here, Doug Meacham here, and my own initial coverage here.