YABA, YABA, YABA and vol. 2

Lately, on many of the blogs I read the YABA widget is very in… Daytona, (Swedish digital agency) decided to start Yet Another Blog Award (YABA) to give some love back to Swedish blogs that inspire. Winner determined by the fans. If you like the blog and see the yellow YABA widget, go vote for your favorite… Even if you don’t vote, it is a great reference to Sweden’s best blogs. The winner will be crowned at another event by Daytona – the Daytona Sessions vol. 2. This one has the great visioner Umair Haque as speaker among others. I’ll be there, let me know if you are…

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Understand. Act. in that order

Collaboration

AdAge on Separating Brilliance From Blabber. A round the table discussion with some heavy weight bloggers/marketers (Power 150 network) on the subject of making sense of the shift in relationships between the consumers, brands, marketers and media. Brilliant conversation on the subject with maybe a not so surprising outcome which I have tried to capture below.

So the game is changing (yes yes we all know this…), but the large media/ad shops are still ignoring (yes they now have digital departments, but come on)… How do we educate to change the mid set…

“You’ve got to be ahead of what we’re doing. You’ve got to educate the agencies, because they’re the ones who for now are buying a lot of your advertising. So how do you help them see the next best thing? Blogging is going to be superseded by something bigger and better, and people like you, editors, need to know what that is. Because it’s going to bubble up from the people” – Lewis Green of Biz Solutions Plus.

Yep, got to be at least on game, well preferably ahead and know your stuff. The web thing is not that new anymore, so one should know this. The social aspect maybe new, but anyone with a little vision can see the potential in this for both brands and media… why then are we struggling here? It is all about the education, correction, all about the right persuasion tactics… One need to sell this in the right way… for the VP’s there is one way, for the media companies there is another and so on (hey sounds like advertising to me). Like Green and Howard points out.

“I came out of the corporate world as VP of marketing, and I’m not going to do any of the things you guys are suggesting, as a VP of marketing, because you haven’t told me how that gives me more customers. I only care about social media if it helps me to create more loyal customers. As a VP of marketing for a major brand, I don’t care about filtering and aggregating, and I don’t care whether you give me a link or not.”Lewis Green.

“The conversation that needs to be had with big brands is this: They are looking at how media is changing, they are talking about fragmentation, about spend, about all these things. That’s not the game. The game is that behaviors are changing. So the discussion we generally get into is to focus on understanding the shift in behavior. Once we start to understand the shift in behavior, then we can start talking about things like context and relevance, which is really what we’re talking about.” Sean Howard of Livingston Buzz

Only when one has understanding one can reap the benefits (that sounds very zen, but not a quote:). There are lots of great people out there that has full understanding of this, so  persuade without steeping on peoples feet. Aha, there lies another dilemma, the egos. As pointed out by Dickman:

“The other conversation inside the agencies that I’m seeing now is there’s so much confusion. Really, because the PR shops, Fleishman, Ogilvy and all those guys are doing the digital stuff, but the client may have a digital agency, and then they have an ad agency that also has a digital group, and there’s all this confusion on who has control of that space. And it’s worse for the client, the marketer. Trying to educate them on how to deal with that situation to get the most out of their money — it’s very confusing.”  Matt Dickman of Technomarketer.

Adaption without full knowledge. Noted that many of the larger shops get good people joining but many of the clients don’t, to many players syndrome. Hard pressed to find a solution here, but believe that it is good with separated disciplines, have specialists on each subject. This is especially true for fields that are constantly evolving. Important is that these specialist have a 360 view on what they do, so opportunities do not get lost in narrowness. Integrated com, optimal use of all channels – done by specialist in respective fields. So let’s put egos aside. Less confusion and better communication…
Good point also by Green on where this will happen (quickest).

“The Fortune 500 is never going to lead anything. The Fortune 500 [are] going to be the last adapters. I work with what I would call midsize companies ($100 million companies). It’s uphill with their marketing people, but they are willing to listen because their margins are thinner, and some are public and some aren’t. And that’s where I think we have to do a better job. Because it’s not going to come down from above. It isn’t. The Apples and IBMs and Microsofts — when the time comes, they are going to do the mergers and acquisitions to get what we’re all talking about.” Lewis Green.

Warping this up – educated persuasion with friendly collaboration between specialist from the ground up… I love to here your thoughts on this subject.

Mine goes to eleven

While reading a post form Bisonblog (in Swedish) I found probably one of the better named blogs around – mine goes to eleven. A Swdish blog form Per Robert Öhlin, a freelance copywriter/communication strategist. Based the name on a scene form the legendary documentary This is Spinal Tap. Just excellent.
While there read the story on subliminal perception and its effect on creativity. Read it in English here (form Duke University) or here (form Information week). Quite interesting research by Gavan Fitzsimons.

The Value Exchange

We are now knee deep in and learning to approach, interact and profit from the new social/2.0(5) web. Starting in 07 there was many predictions made on where we are headed and how we will arrive (at the end of this post there are some links). Ad-age has an interesting continuation to the story from bloggers on the Power150 blog-ranking index. They were asked to elaborate on what technology marketers should be paying most attention to in 2008. I think a clear picture emerges – apparent in this article and thought other conversations on the future (08). Here is my take on this cake… My list of kit (in no particular order)…

Micro-content
As Tom Martin (Positive Disruption) “With the cost of production and distribution of digital content rapidly approaching zero… the opportunity to create branded micro-content that consumers will invite into their lives becomes a financial reality with a huge ROI upside…” a.k.a widgets etc.. This I think is one of the strongest channels out there right know, at least when it comes to actual advertising to the consumer. Here we have a way of providing relevant, targeted, interactive, inviting and social (if applicable) branded stuff that the consumer can actually use. You know not jam down the trough just a gentle whisper… this is already taking of (been for a while now) and seem to be working. Now we just need be clever.

Mobile – the natural extension and Holy Grail of relevant and useful.
Take this micro-content/widgest/apps and make them work on mobile platforms as well and we are now adding an limitless dimension. Marie Lena Tupot (BrandNoise) “Mobile apps. But not in a whiz-bang, over-the-top manner; the sort of incremental mobile apps that make ordinary things even easier, like let you pay back friends on the fly, split the check at restaurants, pre-order your coffee so you can bypass the line at a local café, pay your belated phone bill, donate to your political candidate …” It is just logical right? I would love to have all my coffee related expense (here in Sweden there is a lot of “fika” going on or hanging at the local Starbucks for you Americans) taken care of by my phone, that would be great. And while one is at it just add a café rating (maye even Twitter) to this and one can be social as well. Further support to this is recent study by eMarketer on mobil ads.

Mico-blogging – or shall we call it Twittering?
While on the topic of Twitter and mobile integration… Peter Imbres (Point Oh!) – “The most important technology for marketers to understand right now is Twitter and some of the other micro-blogging platforms. It’s less a question of how they can directly apply this technology than how they need to understand collective conversations. Some of the most influential people in several different verticals are engaged in a dialogue at any given time on these platforms, and it provides a unique opportunity for brands to reach stakeholders when they’re actually listening, which is rare in many of these emerging media categories. The media outlets and politicians are starting to get it, hopefully other marketers won’t be too far behind.”
Clearly a great opportunity here, now how harness? I am not yet an active user of this medium so limited understanding, but it seem to be contagious if one has a large following… Very cool with the built in mobile support.

The Blog – the organic SEO
The (traditional?) blog must be one of the greatest things to have taken foothold in the last years. It is just great for all. Consumers benefit for the information and the multitude and companies benefit from information, advertising (it is like free adds space and it builds rep and cred) and the feedback (if dare). And it is all very social as well… and best of all for web sites; relevant streaming content.
Kevin Tomczak (PowerUp) – “Blogging continues to be one of the most influential communications channels for B2B marketers in 2008. This channel is a precursor to a true social network, and allows companies to continue the conversation beyond our traditional touch points. Yesterday’s mass marketing strategies don’t work — we’re on the customer’s time, and by keeping conversations going through blogging, we’re increasing the chance that we’ll be present when the customer needs our product or service.
We’ve also just begun to scratch the surface of the SEO benefits of blogging. In the US, roughly 80% of internet use (excluding e-mail) begins with a search. And a majority of business purchasers use the internet for research before a purchase is made. Blogging gives a company a lot of content containing a lot of keywords, and, with a lot of incoming and outbound links, that’s SEO gold.”

Yep, so true for both B2B and B2C. Be visible through content. More visitors and more time spent with brand

SEO
Joost de Valk (Joost de Valk’s SEO Blog) – “The technique/technology most worthy of any marketer’s attention is SEO. It’s the cheapest and best way of getting quality traffic to your domains. Especially due to the emergence of so-called universal search, ie. the integration of the results from vertical search engines like images, books and local into the “main” search results, more chances of driving cheap, high-quality traffic have come up.”
With the right (relevant to your target) content, linking and media one can go far… Throw in some local targeting and we are even better. Andy Wibbels (AndyWibbels.com) – “Local search. Consumers are learning they can find resources not just across the globe, but down the street. “Findability” is crucial, whether you are a global organization or local mom-and-pop. “
Nutshell – worth time and money invested.

Video – the face to face web revolution
Well no surprises here. It is now very quick and cheap to produce, it gives great effect and it is more fun. (or is it just that it is like TV and we are all used to and liking that?). I also believe it brings a more human aspect to content and to the web – you know, face to face, it is always more powerful. And yes very social web friendly.
Paul Chaney (Conversational Media Marketing) – “Online video/TV is the technology to watch in ’08. There seems to be a seismic shift toward digital distribution of video content, more and more video sites are being created, and there is a small camera revolution going on (which includes webcams) that portends a continued rise in user-generated video content. YouTube was just the beginning. Now, there’s ooVoo
, seesmic, Revver Jumpcut … the list goes on and on. Oh, and FastCompany.TV that Scoble just inaugurated. Add to that the fact that people are scurrying to their computers in droves to watch television programs which, themselves. More than any other technology, including social networks, online video is it.”

Niche
It is all about the niche. You can find or distribute anything you want, on any topic… and people will find it… Start/join groups on social networks, start blog, even start a social network. I mean it is natural conversation on topics you are passionate about. Now for the marketers there is a need for some thinking to get into this kind of conversation with some relevance.John Ebbert (ContextWeb Internet Advertising Blog) – “…Marketers need to understand the impact of the media fragmentation now occurring as users migrate await from portals and large sites to smaller, niche content sites, and how one of the key technological beneficiaries of this trend — online advertising exchanges — will create new opportunities for marketers seeking to improve ROI.”

In-game advertising
Believe that this is the next channel for large scale branding and advertising… Kinda like product placement in TV that is so blissfully annoying , but with relevance. Like this – walking around a beautifully rendered true-to-life city scape (…maybe hunting aliens or under attack from the enemy, but anyway;) and seeing all these signs, posters, products, details that are most of the time very badly executed or just a brand ripoff… it is a shame to ignore details like this and undermine the surrounding work. To the point, these spaces are being opened up to advertisers and brands. This is great, we get detailed product in its relevant environment to complete the picture and cheaper/free/better games because of revenue. Big opportunity for advertiser of course.

The content marketing movement
Kinda sums it up…
Joe Pulizzi (Junta 42) – “The single biggest issue/technology that deserves the most attention is not a site or an application, but more an organizational philosophy. It’s the content marketing movement — which is the philosophy of marketing services not by traditional methods, but by delivering valuable, relevant and compelling content to customers and prospects on a consistent basis. This is being done through all media platforms, and we are seeing companies like P&G and Nike put a large amount of money and resources into these efforts.”

A Valuable Blog

 Wal-Mart Check Out Blog

Coming back to the subject of companies need to be both smart and humble to open up to their customers. Dare to have an open discussion and let them have a chance to feedback. Now a big brand has joined the race – the ever so closed Wal-Mart. This is big for a such a giant company, 5,000 stores, 1.2 million workers and annual sales of nearly $400 billion. Ok, so the corporate blog are not new as we know, but this is somewhat different – Check Out (checkoutblog.com) as it is called, is not relying on the traditional “management” level for the stories, it is written by a small staff (experts at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club) of bloggers which is then commented by the consumer – here is the cool part – (largely) unedited. Now this is both gutsy and brilliant. The largest tailer/e-tailer has understood the opportunity.

“Wal-Mart says the Web site helps buyers solicit quick feedback from consumers on the merchandise”

“We are real people, and that gets lost in the to and fro of business”,
“It puts real personality out there in a real conversation.” – Nick Agarwal, a Wal-Mart communications official.

A few quotes form an article from a newtimes.com on the subject (above) and also a outcast from the About section (below)

This is a blog, simply, about a team of experts at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club who have really cool jobs working with gadgets, games, sustainability and more. Even better, these jobs are centered around helping people save money and live better.

Finally, in terms of blogging, we like the advice Robert Scoble gave back in 2003 when he wrote his version of a “Corporate Weblog Manifesto.”

Strongly believe that is will be more and more common as we catch up to full web 2.0 transparency. Now this will open doors and is defiantly a case to run with when convincing… Will benefit both sides as well – Wal-Mart get good feedback on their stock of product and the consumer get valuable reviews/comments while shopping and get the chance to comment. Once this take off this need to be managed in a smart way, lets hope they stay on track with the potential of the information. Now while on that subject, another good example of using customer feedback to you advantage is Circuit City which has a very good integration of review content.

Will now enjoy following this as we go along.

See you in 4

Ok, so it is February 29th and we won’t see it again for 4 years… and my first month of bloging is coming to a close… and it is 10:30 on a Friday and I am at it. Life is exciting… Now before I grab a beer and relax for the weekend I had to round this month of with something. So here we go, some of the interesting things I found and did not blog about, yet that is…

Online Research Drives Offline Sales
”Online consumers are becoming precision shoppers,” says Mr. Grau. “They are availing themselves of the wealth of information resources online to discover and evaluate products, compare them and find where they can be purchased.”

Now look at that…

Hidden Secrets of the Amazon Shopping Cart
Very interesting post by Bryan Eisenberg. See the evolution of one of the best shopping experiences out there…

Crispin Wins Microsoft
Crispin Porter & Bogusky wins a major consumer assignment promoting its Windows products to break later this year. Publicis Groupe’s Fallon was the other finalist in the pitch. Other competitors previously eliminated included incumbent Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann Erickson, San Francisco, which remains lead global agency on Microsoft’s account, and WPP Group’s JWT.
Very cool that such a small(ish) agency wins a big pitch like this. Think this will be good for Microsoft, some new fresh and bold ideas. Well its worth around $300 million so some good things will follow.

Bill Gates Links Up With LinkedIn
Well well, wonder if he connect with me 😉 Good PR gig for LinkIn thought. Must confes that I did answer one of Bill’s questions in the answer section. Take a look if you are connected – on page 53 of the 2000+ answers…

Is Web Technology Making Your Life Better?
Now this is worth reading and thinking about…

AIR Goes Live
Two articles from readwriteweb on this new app. This could be big and open to some real cross platform and media executions. Doing some research on this so this topic will come back…
The Best Things About Adobe’s AIR Platform
6 Adobe AIR Apps to Check Out

35 Ways to Stream Your Life
Good summary and ref here…

F&B's Logo

F&B the carpet is out
Well one of my favorite Swedish (Forsman & Bodenfors) agencies are remodeling their web site and have the office carpet out…

Why Google Apps is a Serious Threat to Microsoft Office
This one got me to use the apps and it is worth reading.

ikordo Helps You Organize Meetings…
Very cool service for a seriously time consuming task…

Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business
Just to finish of with some light free reading…

Well that is some of it… now my wife and a cold beer is waiting for me. Se ya in 4.

Visible through content

Cutting through the clutter

As I am getting into this new (for me) arena of blogging and look into how this area can be beneficial to me and my profession… A question has been to of mind for a while now – how do one get seen or more accurately read in this jungle of blogs? Yes, yes I know but still… Well, from experience and based on some quick research on the subject the answer is, not surprisingly, great content! Quality(key) ,timely and sympathetic content will do the trick. Well, this is 90% true, one also need to consider the standard stuff – SEO, design, networking, references and linking to strengthen ranking (or cred). And yes, this applies to all – go figure – no matter if you are selling a product, providing a service or just blogging away… to be heard one need content that interest and engages the intended audience… True more than ever now that we head down the social rout, where everyone contributes and shares, only the one with great content will be heard.

I found some great article on this at SEOmoz.org and also some great videos.


And this:
Whiteboard Friday – Blogging Community Outreach And from the Seth corner this:
How to get traffic for your blog

And this:
Beware the CEO blog

Can go on and on here… just remember great content is not great by it self it needs to be worked on. Now combine this with video and we got gold… (notice the effect with on the articles above?) will follow up on this soon…

The Slow Down

So true, so true…
from the marketing guru Godin –Soggy

New organizations and new projects are so crisp.

Things happen with alacrity. Decisions get made. Stuff gets done.

Then, over time, things get soggy. They slow down. Decisions aren’t so black and white any more.

Why?

Here are some things that happen:
1. Every initiative, post launch, still has a tail of activity associated with it. Launch enough things and over time, that tail gets bigger and bigger.

2. Most projects either succeed or fail. Successful projects raise the stakes, because the team doesn’t want to blow it. There are more people watching, more dollars at stake, things matter more. So things inevitably get more review, more analysis and slow down. Projects that fail sap the confidence of the group. They want to be extra sure that they’re right this time, so, ironically, they slow down and end up sabotaging the new work.

3. The paper isn’t blank any more. Which means that new decisions often mean overturning old decisions, which means you need to acknowledge that it didn’t used to be as good as it was.

4. And the biggest thing is that there is a status quo. Something to compare everything to.

I’m not sure you can eliminate any of these issues. But, you can realize that they’re there. And you can be really strict about priorities and deadlines… it’s so easy to let things slip, rather than confronting the fact that you’re stuck and probably afraid. Speak up, call it out… and ship!

The Way Forward

Ok, blog’s and if just I should bother? – the reasoning

I would call my self a designer who loves communication and branding (the potential a brand have if connected with its target audience) especially through the digital space. I been working on and off with online since 1995 – a trip from a designer to a digital communicator. And with this the question arrives – should I bother to blog or not? Some reasoning – life is hectic and it definitely feels like there is a lack of time to balance work and family in a harmonious way (thanks’ to my parent’s genes I tend to unwillingly stress)… Maybe not an issues, more an ambition problem – love communication and design (brain is always working on something). Lucky to be working with something I love to do… so I like to spend my time designing away… – LOVE my family (a kid and a girl). Want to make sure I am there 100% and do not like to miss important family stuff because of work, etc… Can’t blog during working hours (might change) and won’t do it during family time… So there we have the time issue
AND then, who would read this? If nobody, why write? There we have the why issue
(O yes, a small thing, not a good writer so it takes even more time…)

Now, after some serious contemplating and reading a lot (blogs and such that is)… I came to the conclusion that the answers is YES. Blog blog blog… Why? see it like this – self education which might interest/benefit somebody. My logic is saying that if you want to keep up with this great new(ish) media and stay sharp one need to educate one self (read and study). School thought me that if one writes stuff down and summarize (add opinion in some cases), the stuff sticks… so a blog is the perfect medium for grown-up, business oriented studying. Thinking it might work as this – reading my RSS’s, finding stuff to star and share (using Google reader), taking a topic a day to write about (down) and comment (blog)… there we go – a blog that will have content and help my memory… sweet :). Added perk would be if someone reads it and find it helpful.

That is that, my first entry into this blog world… Talk to you later.