Marketing hard, video harder: a testimonial

Part of the point I’ve been telling myself about why I do this blog is this: Anyone can blog about how to be a marketer. But the reason I blog is (indirectly) about how hard it is. Decisions, effort, patience. Tactical, not strategic.

So I lapped up this blog post at Psychotactics by Sean D’Souza because it was so honest about giving up … and what he did about it. About one of the hardest things in marketing today: videos.

“I didn’t give up video. I just got busy.

You know how it is, right? You want to do something and then you make this grand list. Then you do a bit of it. And you do some more. And some more. And you get results. And then you do a spectacularly stupid thing.

You give up.”

read more at: The Importance of Video in your Marketing

(I will admit that I’ve followed Sean’s emails and blog for years, without ever subscribing to his services. But I will say that his writing style has rubbed off on me for the better, and heartily recommend following his blog or putting down cash for his services. Bonus is his cartoons like I borrowed above.)

The truth about B2B marketing

I’m way too mild-mannered to be a fan boy of Steve Jobs, and also really want to avoid the cliche about blogging about his marketing chops. So I’ll just point at this comprehensive post I saw earlier today by Laura Ries, The Secret of Steve Jobs. Yes, we’d all like to be that marketer, but will humbly admit that we aren’t (or that there are too many road blocks, like not being CEO).

What we B2B marketing managers are is scrappy, tactical, and responsive marketers. Myself, I think my start as a salesperson gives me a unique edge in being able to match our customers to our products. And with a very strong technical skill to master the tools of marketing, we generate results that are impossible for others to duplicate. A meeker Steve Jobs in our own factory, you might say.

All that to build up to this fascinating blog-post by the wiz of the “Four hour work week”, Tim Ferriss, interviewing online marketer and millionaire Mike Geary: How To Make $1,000,000 Profit Per Month with Digital Products.

“To be honest, I was a little slow in learning marketing and building the business, so it took me about five years to get to those numbers. About two years into this venture, I was finally making about $50,000 per year with the online business. As I explained above, growth exploded once I quit my corporate job, and my earnings increased about 10x the following year. Growth in following years went to $3.6 million, then $6 million, and finally $11 million in annual revenue.”

Yes, while we’ve been sitting in our cubes or offices filling up our company funnel, this guy has been filling up his pockets. But that’s not why I share this. As you read his interview, you’ll see that Mike Geary is just like us …

  • Very close to our product
  • Know our sales force
  • Adjusting and tuning our marketing
  • Mastering our tools
  • Watching costs and revenue
  • And traveling 10-15 days a month (Well, if we are traveling, its certainly not to go skiing!)

So the truth is I have no allusions about being the Steve Jobs of B2B. I do see tons of opportunity to be the next Mike Geary, either at work or on a personal venture. How about you?

Calling BS on Change Management

Not often that we bloggers pull out the swear words that really mean something. This just in from Bullshit from the World of Change Management:

“Bullshit! What I can tell you from studying this for over two decades is that, mostly (with some major exceptions), resistance to change comes down to one thing: Ignoring the Golden Rule. Specifically, failure to work backwards from the workforce’s perspective…AKA: Failure to be user-centered.”

Hopefully we marketers know this intrinsically … if our users (aka salespeople and customers) don’t like the change, it don’t sell.

But this is a good wake-up call, if you are finding yourself “managing change”, you are probably doing it wrong.

And more than a few people are saying bullshit behind your back.

(Always good stuff from the team at Hacking Work … click thru the link and read more!)

How many ‘likes’ will they get?

I’ll be upfront: I really think that Social Media is a FAIL waiting to happen for any industrial B2B marketer who tries when it just doesn’t make sense.

Case in point is this email I received this morning, looking for Facebook ‘likes’:

So the best they can do is hang their hat on the most over-marketed charity (at a total donation of $2,500) to get folks like me who have NO IDEA about their company to follow them on Facebook.

The thing is, this marketing campaign itself isn’t well executed. Not horrible, but it gives me no confidence that their Facebook group is going to be active and interesting enough to ‘like’.

Well, I went ahead and clicked and ‘liked’ just to see what they were doing.

Bad news: I was Fan number 107. Looks like their page has been up for less than a month. (An hour after getting their email, the number has jumped to 109.)

Good news: The fan page ‘wall’ has been preloaded with active content from the last couple shows they supported. Even if most of the users are shills (other employees or family members), the activity may be of interest to folks going to shows frequently.

More likely, I think such a fan page may end up being of most interest to the employees of their company, and the folks that run trade-shows, who have a lot to chatter about at each event.

That said, this still begs the question: Why email people you don’t do business with? Why the charity hook? What is the real benefit to the fans? And is it all worth it to market to 109 people (minus the shills)?

Be in your environment

I was recently at the Semicon/Intersolar trade show in San Francisco. Seven days of walking to and from Moscone Center, going out, attending events, and spending time exploring the city. Except for one trolley ride, I walked everywhere. I doubled-down on ‘experience’ … the experience of the city, and the show.

Last year I blogged about how the show affected me, because of the positive feedback from our prospects and customers. This year I want to tell you about the people on the streets of San Francisco. And I mean PEOPLE, as in street-people.

Experience 1:

After dark one night, about a block from my hotel, alone at a corner. A black man, about a half-a-foot shorter than me, and ten years my senior called at me as he approached, “What you lookin’ for?” He wanted to make sure I didn’t make a wrong turn into a bad stretch of town. As he, Gerald, led me toward a nearby blues club (his idea, I played along), he mentioned he was homeless, and $15 would get him a room at the hostel for the night. I  gave him the twenty in my wallet. As we walked, he told me how a recent break-up had led to his being evicted.

Experience 2:

My last night there, upon stepping out of a bar and considering my path to the hotel, another homeless guy, about my age and height, also black, sidled up next to me and started a pleasant rap/chat. As much as he could go on without me, it was an interactive affair, and we ended up talking. He too, was honest about his situation, and I asked where he was staying. In a tent somewhere (where, I wondered, in the middle of a city). I gave him the two dollars in my wallet. He told me he was studying PHP during the day at a center or school somewhere in town.

Experience 3:

Having a coffee and breakfast wrap outside a cafe, a homeless woman approached. “Dollar for coffee” she repeated. At this point, I had no cash on me. She wandered about ten feet from me to pan-handle other patrons. It was horrible to look at her. She wore only dirty sweats and flip-flops. Her feet were as worn as the flip-flops. She was of small frame, and when she bent over (an action that I can’t explain why she did, but obviously to relieve her tired body, brain, and/or spirit) you could see her spine clearly across the back of her sweatshirt. Then I noticed the large dark ring in her pants … at some point she had wet herself. Her voice was high and empty; she repeated “dollar for coffee” as often as she dared.

Yes, she was hideous. It was hard to finish eating, and I wanted to do so in a hurry! My personal revelation was that no amount of money that would have been in my wallet would have made a difference. She needed thousands of dollars worth of assistance. She was in need of professional help. She needed more than I could give, and my mind was hopeful that SF had services in town to help her. God, they needed to! As I left, she bent over again, to pick up a cigarette butt. Ugh.

Why am I telling you this?

Too many people, too many times, walk past homeless people, street people. Not only because I was new, a tourist, but because I had chosen to be a part of the city environment did I notice and experience these people. As a marketing manager, it is my job to be in tune with the marketplace, and I guess that carries over to other things.

I appreciated the two men who asked me for money because they were willing to meet me as equals, and be honest about their needs. The woman was a wake up call, that not everyone on the street is getting by so well. Maybe my prose doesn’t tell my experience so well, but to me these were memorable interactions.

Bonus link:

One place to encounter homeless people safely is via Invisible People. Mark is formerly homeless and posts short video interviews of people he meets in the street and in shelters. He has several success stories, and each is an exciting victory for him. Most of the time, like me, he can only tell their story. Not every video is a sob story, but a real connection with human beings. Here is a sample:

What does the data mean?

Every time I open up Google Analytics, the glance over the home/overview page. A number of stats on this page are averages of user behavior. Wow! Look how busy my website is. However, what does all this mean?

Specifically, these two bug me: pages/visit & time-on-site. Are visitors so busy on our site because they are gobbling up the information … or are they just frantically clicking to find some nugget of info they want or need? In all likelihood, it is some mixture of both, but it makes these numbers pretty much useless for me.

But for those making decisions on data, assuming that they know why it is behaving that way could make some horrible mistakes. Thinking your site is ‘sticky’ when in fact it is horrible to navigate would be pretty bad.

So I direct you to this week’s episode of On The Media. Luckily, with only a glancing blow to Malcom Gladwell, the several stories in this show help remind us of the fagility of data-driven reporting and decision making.

Basically, it comes down to this: we don’t have data about the future.

The most fascinating story is the last, about the Decline Effect. This is from one of my favorite shows, Radio Lab. Radio Lab is great for bringing stories from the unknown, much about mind and nature behavior. In this case, the effect of test data declining for each iteration of a test. Really makes you wonder if being data-driven is smart at all!

You can call me marketing

I’ve just started working with a new sales manager for our company. Great guy, but it’s tough starting out. Somehow we need to get a rhythm and teamwork going toward the same goals.

My mind keeps slipping back to this video, one of my all-time favorites from when videos were new and cool.

Yes, it is marketing doing all the hard work, while sales gets to be the showy front-man. It all looks and feels a bit awkward.

However, sales does lip marketing’s words (which you might say is a moral victory, at least). And sales is all-too-happy to show off special tricks of marketing during the solos (ala “Hey! look at this great website our company has!”)

But in rewatching the video, I noticed that sales and marketing (aka Chevy Chase & Paul Simon) end up playing together. Yes, sometimes sales’ horn gets in marketing’s face–that’s to be expected. But they are playing together!

Looking forward to jamming it out, as we get going with our own song!

What’s in a B2B logo?

I found myself staring at this group of logos in a recent email announcing an online/virtual trade show. So I thought I’d share them here.

If all these companies are willing to participate in such an event, you have to assume they are at some level of branding competence. (Or incompetence if you think virtual trade shows are a boondoggle.)

Not sure if I’d call these bad or good. There are some of each.

But if I were designing a new industrial B2B brand logo, I’d drop the new logo right in the middle of this group and see how it fits with it’s neighbors.

Friday Friday B2B marketing

This is crazy.

I’ve heard the the song Twilight Zone by “Golden Earring” a million times. I loved it when it came out. Sing along with it. “When the bullet hits the bone. PSHEW.”

But I have no idea what is about. What does the song mean?

Yesterday, when I heard it in the car, I thought, ‘wow, bullet hits the bone sounds pretty serious.’

The song is more than a musical ear candy, it has depth, a voice, and authority. Never questioned, never tested. But it’s there if needed.

Contrast that:

No doubt you’ve heard the recent internet chatter about the Friday song by Rebecca Black. The song, despite 122MM views on YouTube, is enjoyed for its renowned horribleness. It won’t sell a million copies, or be replayed in 20 years.

What makes it horrible? The lyrics. The vapidness. Even the mention of ‘fun fun’ sounds hollow.

But it is so close to being a good song and video. One might cite the Uncanny Valley Effect. They tried too hard to make it a real song, without just letting it be. So it seems phony.

Okay, I’m making a example…

Marketing, needs depth. B2B marketing even more-so. Know your customers, but know yourself even better. And resolve to be yourself! (As a brand, I mean.)

The net result is that, like the Twilight Zone song, your customers may not consciously notice the depth of your brand and company. But they’ll sing along and buy your products.

Try too hard to be something you aren’t and it will fail miserably. It may not be as obvious as Rebecca Black’s failure, but your prospects will know. Your salespeople will know. And you will know in the pit of your stomach.

(BTW, for great study in musical/brand depth, I highly recommend Bullet in a Bible concert video by Green Day. Another case of me learning why I’ve always enjoyed this music and band. And finding out how loud my TV can go!)