Marketing in 2008 isn’t like marketing in 1960

June 27, 2008Comments Off on Marketing in 2008 isn’t like marketing in 1960

Elvis1960 In 1960 an American professor named Jerome McCarthy created the 4Ps (Place, Price, Product Promotion) to dissect marketing into chunks that marketers could easily understand and tackle separately. McCarthy did this around the same time Elvis topping the charts. Music has (sadly) moved on since then, but marketing lecturers still drill the 4Ps of marketing into their students. The problem, as any marketer will tell you, is they don’t use the 4Ps for their marketing efforts, they probably never did. At best, it’s purely a theoretical concept, at worst, it’s entirely irrelevant. 

Luckily, a great thing happened in 1960, Seth Godin was born. Almost 48 years later, redefined the framework of marketing. It’s an important post for graduates. Forget what the last three years have taught you, and use this to plan your marketing.

Really, the best way to learn marketing isn’t to start your own eBay shop, it’s to learn to market yourself (thanks Matt). So apply Seth’s framework of marketing as a self-marketing tool, we can begin to understand how marketing really works. Seth suggests the goal of marketing is connections. Connections based upon Interactions, Products, Stories and Data. Here is how any graduate can apply this.

First, use data to find the opportunities in your industry. Find where jobs are opening up, what are people doing, what’s going on in technology? What will people want today and tomorrow? Whatever you decide to do should be routed in this data.

Now create your story. Be your own brand. A story isn’t fake, they’re what you do. How about the young graduate that can implement these new social media tools into client strategies? How about the 100% reliable graduate that always delivers everything on time, to spec, free of errors? Even better, why not both? Find a story that fits what you want to do, then be that story.

Your product (your services) is how you deliver your story. Be great, brilliant rather. The best is a good target to aim for. Remember, you’re not selling anything to anyone, you’re solving problems. If you can solve someone’s problem better than anyone else, you get the job. So use data to find that problem. Provoking a positive emotion helps. Learn skills that will solve people’s problems (CSS, design, sales etc…) and add a bonus unique to you.

Now you’re really flying. You still need to reach people who will pay you. You could build up your beloved CV, crank out the cover letters and begin calling recruitment agencies. Or you could begin blogging, attending conferences and finding people just like you. You could discuss tomorrow’s major trends with top industry experts. You can figure out where you fit in. You could build great relationships and have allies helping you find the right sort of work you want.

Now are you creating connections? Are employers, clients, friends and colleagues talking about you? Have you given them reason to? Are you surpassing their expectations? Have you found that place within the realm of marketing where you both belong and excel. You might just find it’s a really enjoyable place to be.

If you can do this, then you’ve learnt how to market yourself. And if you can market yourself, marketing products will be easy.

How we built a 12,000 strong community

June 24, 2008Comments Off on How we built a 12,000 strong community

 I used to write for UKTerrorist, a website about an online game called Counter-Strike. From 2000 to 2004 we built a community of around 12,000 people. Now looking back, i've been wondering how we did it.

I think early on we ticked a lot of the boxes. We were very much part of the community. We met the big names (games publishers, top players, tournament organizers in person..often), in fact, we recruited most of the major figures to contribute to our website. That really helped. Three things made us successful where other websites failed.

  1. Names, Names, Names! 90% of our content was about people. People, people, people. Strangers, friends and enemies. Or to quote the Heath Brothers “Names, Names, Names!”. We wrote about people in the community. We highlighted the major people in the community, and then reported on them (players moving teams, major events, latest news – it's a bigger topic than you might think). A community is about people, nothing else (see the bottom of this post).

  2. Community Competition: We introduced a lot of competition amongst our community. We titillated young egos and at times helped instigated (friendly) rivalries.We ran our own events, used top ten lists and even UKT Personality of the Year (that was an extremely contentious one). Be sure to give a community not only a reason to come together, but a reason not to leave. Keep giving the community something to talk about, encourage them to continually top each other. But make sure it stays fun, not personal.

  3. Light ModerationThird, we had a very weak approach to moderation. Perhaps too weak, we let anyone say almost anything they wanted….a principle many users took full advantage of.

It took years to build the community and months for that community to dissipate when the content dried up. In those years we learnt a lot. Fundamentally, we learnt a community isn't really about a company, a product or a cause. It's about the relationships with the people that work for the company, that use the product or will benefit from the cause. Anything else is incidental.

Alcohol: Know your limits campaign, the home office, and the missing community

June 23, 2008Comments Off on Alcohol: Know your limits campaign, the home office, and the missing community

The Home Office's campaigns haven't been doing too badly recently. I thought their Batman vulnerability ad was fab. So it was great to meet some of the people involved last week at the launch of the Know Your Limits campaign. Know your Limits is a campaign targeting 18 – 24 year olds to reduce binge drinking.

The campaign includes a couple of radio adverts, three videos (also going up on YouTube), publicity, and a shop-front exhibition close to Covent Garden. I've included the videos at the end of this post.

Here's my biggest take on it. I think that the adverts are good, shocking and memorable. I think that on TV or radio they could well make people think twice the next time they go out. I'm not so sure that this will be a permanent attitude change. Memories tend to fade quickly.

I also don't think the videos will go viral. It's in the motivations of people. You pass on a video which you think another person will want to see, that has value to the recipient. No-one will pass on a video of someone else urinating, vomiting or getting in fights – largely because it's not appealing and also because it's not 'that' shocking (I mean, we see it every Saturday night, do we really want to see it during the week?).

I'm a big believer in online communities. I think bringing people together to create meaningful relationships is a great way to shape attitudes. I think there should be a budget towards developing communities of people that don't binge drink. Communities of people that still go out but then do something else afterwards. Maybe they watch the sun rise, or play some music together at home, or watch a film.

Finding people that are doing what you want, and then telling their story is a great way to affect attitude change. You can have people sharing their post-club pictures on flickr, discussing nights out they've just had, uploading their mobile video clips or even playing their PS3's against each other. All of which requires them to drink a little less. These are some of the stories that need telling, and the communities that need forming. Promote what can be done if you don't binge drink, and let interested people join together and recruit others (aside: anyone else ever had a morning bbq on a hill at sunrise?). Start small and grow big.

Still, they have tough competition. On Facebook there are groups called Binge Drinking Appreciation Society with over 1500 members, There's Nothing Wrong with Binge Drinking with nearly 1200 members and the Canadian Binge Drinking Team number just over 1000 members. I hope the adverts work, I think in the short-term the Home Office will get the results they want. But I worry if it's enough to make a real difference.

You can read what others are saying here and here.

Binge Drinking Girl

Binge Drinking Boy

Fashion Show Gone Wrong

Why I Love The Internet

June 21, 2008Comments Off on Why I Love The Internet

I've been in love with the internet for over a decade, perhaps now more than ever. The beauty of this near-social paradise is that brilliant people rise to the top. People who might never have been discovered, never have seen the the spotlight are now receiving the attention they more than deserve.

So today Matt Harding, of Where The Hell Is Matt Fame, released his latest video. Matt Harding quit his job almost three years ago now to go dancing around the world. His first video was the stuff of pre-YouTube brilliance, his second one (not including outtakes) have also been great. I've embedded as many as I could find below, if you just want to see the latest release – scroll to the bottom.

Matt's First Video: Dancing – 2005 (wait for the Giraffe scene)

Matt's Second Video & brilliant outtakes


And, finally, the 3rd video just released.


Isn't it amazing how people like Matt Harding and Juan Mann are inspiring movements based upon nothing else than people eager to share a positive experience with each other. You have to wonder just how big these sorts of movements can grow? How much of a difference can giving free hugs or dancing with strangers (without alcohol) make when times seem especially tough?

Investigating you

June 19, 2008Comments Off on Investigating you

When I really examine this blog's traffic I.e. who are visiting, who are commenting and who are linking, I find that i've had a unique interaction with nearly all of you.

Some of you i've worked with, some i've exchanged a few e-mails, some i've met in person, some I never seem to quiet meet. Then some of you i've commented on your blogs, some i've twittered and some are friends, families and students. I'm sure about half are my parents mind, always refreshing to make me feel good.

It's all these 1's and 2's which add up. That has to be true of most blogs, especially when starting out. The trick is just to interact with as many people as possible, through as many different networks as possible. This is why many blogs fail, they prioritize content over people. Sure there has been some nice search engine traffic over the past few months, but it's the worst sort of traffic. It's the traffic that visits one post, one time, for about one minute, and then leaves…never to return. Clients seem to love this volume traffic.

How annoying.

Where’s the money in Social Television?

June 10, 2008Comments Off on Where’s the money in Social Television?

Wadds touched on this point a few months ago, social television is growing quite quickly. It's not entirely new. Radio stations have had call-in lines during games for decades. Sports shows have allowed some interaction. But nothing before has had the ease of interaction offered by social media tools.

It's not just social media that's prompted the rise of social television. It's the big switch from desktops to laptops, it's increasing broadband penetration and it's the growth of broadband television (watching telly over the internet).

We're really at the beginning of something here. A big fundamental change in what the entertainment drawn from television is. The examples are all around us. The Guardian has been live-blogging the Apprentice for ages now. It's an extremely popular column and gets as many at times it gets as many as five comments a minute. If anything, it's a victim of it's own success and would work better as a Twitter stream. Indeed, Twitter is buzzing during an apprentice night. is typically buzzing during an apprentice night (and Steve Jobs keynotes).

What's shocking is that it's the Guardian that benefits from that column. Nobody makes money when people talk about The Apprentice over Twitter. It's not the production company behind The Apprentice, nor ITV that are benefiting from their own show.

It's an example of two things. The first is the producers of The Apprentice and ITV mistaking exactly what they're offering, and the second is a misunderstanding of the benefits of being the beacon of conversation. If The Apprentice were clever they would be offering these facilities on their site. They would have former contestants in chat rooms live-blogging or twittering future shows. They would have quick straw-polls of who we all thought they will get fired. Maybe even organising pub-meetings or viewings of the finals?

Nor is it just The Apprentice, it's Big Brother (though this does a slightly better job), it's x-factor, it's even films. Even now I'm watching Greece play Sweden in the next window via ITV. So why is ITV not offering me the option to complain about Greece's performance? Or submit questions to experts? Or connect to like-minded members and form our own community?

Yes, if they were clever they would form an online community around their show and have the conversations taking place around the show. Then you can get more people, more involved with the show, more likely to watch the advertisements in the future and buy the DVD series, more likely to buy the books. Less likely to be watching other channels. There is money to be made here.

Free Friends Reunited

June 9, 2008Comments Off on Free Friends Reunited

Friends Reunited, the popular site based upon the Classmates concept, is now free. From today the UK's first major social networking website has dropped it's subscription fees to increase it's audience.

This is important because Friends Reunited is one of the few social networking websites created with a business model in mind. Friends Reunited was launched in 2000 and purchased by ITV for £120m in 2005. Since then it's been overtaken by the free and more modern social networking websites of Facebook, Bebo and MySpace.

These websites are easier, with better customisation, and rely upon advertising for income. Though we know this doesn't always work too well.

So what does Friends Reunited dropping their subscription fees really mean? Not much. I'm going to make a prediction that we probably wont see another major social networking site competing with the likes of MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. Instead we will see more niche interest networks, and the gradual convergence of all social networks as we see greater social network portability.

A community doesn’t need a blog, but this one probably does

June 9, 2008Comments Off on A community doesn’t need a blog, but this one probably does

Most of the best bloggers are really just the best online community managers. They've used their blogs to be the beacon, or one of several beacons, of a bigger online community. ProBlogger does this brilliantly. Because of their success, companies believe they need to hire bloggers. They need good bloggers, maybe former journalists? They can write well. Maybe technical or design geniuses? They can create the best looking blogs on the internet.

The truth is something much more basic, it's empathy. Or the ability to see hrough the eyes of their peers. That's a darned-hard skill to quantify. You can't point a potential client to a blog widget and shout “you see, they're empathy is bigger and placed higher up the page than ours!”. Great blogs have almost nothing to do with SEO, design or the technical stuff and almost everything to do with giving an audience what they want. The SEO, design and the general buzz are by-products of writing for the audience.

So this is where it gets really tricky. Companies see a brilliant blog with lots of comments and racking up the sells. Then you hear the dreaded request: “we want that, but better”. But the blog is a single medium. In some cases it might be entirely unnecessary. Sometimes a forum works just fine, sometimes just churning out a white paper to the fifty members of a facebook group is brilliant. Maybe something as cost-effective as a twitter-stream is what a community of busy retail buyers want.

This blog is changing a little. It's going to be about community management. I've done a little soul-searching and decided that's where I see my career (and most of yours too) heading.

And since they don't teach it at Uni, i've got less competition.

My Degree

June 6, 2008Comments Off on My Degree

I got my University results back today.

I got a First (78.5% avg.) Degree. Which i'm really pleased about.

I'm less pleased about my University.

My biggest complaint is too few lecturers made any effort to discuss how the subject is changing, What are the major influences? What are the opportunities in the future? What do we need to learn now to be employable when we graduate?

And why would they? There aren't any textbooks explaining the future. So this is where lecturers have to add value to the reading. This also leads into my second biggest complaint; using the same slides and readings every year. Many of the assignments were only slightly different from the previous year, and some module guides/lecture slides were dated as far back as 2001.

When you pay £12,000 in tuition fees, you simply expect more.

So now i'm taking the scary, and rather thrilling, self-employment route. Over the past two months i've found myself specialising in using new and old tools to build online communities for companies. It's going to mean a change of direction of this blog. Thanks for reading.

You’re Outsourced!

April 30, 2008Comments Off on You’re Outsourced!

How many Account Executives can raise their hand up and say, honestly, "my job can’t be outsourced"?

I’ve been busy moving house recently, in my quest to get the internet installed i’ve spoken to several Indian call centre staff. They’ve been extremely good, far more pleasant and helpful than the world weary folk at BT. Even the more technically tricky stuff (Mac Codes and installation problems) they’ve proved capable and adept.

So why can’t PR agencies outsource much of the daily account executive work to India?

Looking through my first PR job description I can’t see too many roles there which demanded my physical presence.

What can be outsourced?

  • Clippings
  • Media monitoring
  • Distributing press releases
  • Working with clients on press release amendments
  • Researching key journalists and previous articles
  • Pitching and follow up calls?

What can’t be outsourced?

  • Generating PR ideas/newsworthy story angles
  • Meeting with clients
  • Pitching for new business
  • Arranging press days

What value do you bring to your job that can’t be outsourced?

The Telegraph and the Daily Mail are so alike

April 25, 2008Comments Off on The Telegraph and the Daily Mail are so alike

Sure it’s a funny story, but…in case anybody was ever in any doubt just how much of a press release might make it into a news story.

Telegraph Headline: OGC unveils new logo to red faces

The Daily Mail: New £14,000 logo causes blushes in Treasury office

Telegraph: It cost £14,000 to create, but clearly no-one at the smart London
design outfit that came up with the new logo for HM Treasury thought to
turn it on its side. The logo, for the Office of Government Commerce, was intended to
signify a bold commitment to the body’s aim of “improving value for
money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”.

Daily Mail: When the Office of Government Commerce decided to embark on a fresh new
image, signifying their commitment to their aim of "improving value for
money by driving up standards", little did they realise the impact it
would make.

Verdict: Great journalists think alike.

Telegraph: According to insiders, the graphic was already proudly etched on mousemats and pens before it was unveiled for employees, who spotted the clanger within seconds. Staff have apparently now stripped their office of souvenirs bearing the logo, which could appear on eBay within days.

Daily Mail:  Sharp-eyed employees quickly noticed the glaring error, but unfortunately for bosses the graphic had already been reproduced widely on office stationary. There are now fears that items with the embarrassing logo could appear on eBay despite the valiant efforts of staff members to frantically remove all trace of the design from their offices.

Verdict: At least one of the two made the half-arsed effort to restructure the story slightly. Still very similar paragraphs.

Telegraph: A spokesman for OGC said: “It is true that it caused a few titters among some staff when viewed on its side, but on consideration we concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters OGC – and it is not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on Government spend."

Daily Mail:  A spokesman for the OGC said: "It is true that it caused a few laughs when viewed on its side. On final consideration we concluded the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters OGC and is therefore not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on Government spend."

Verdict: The spokesman said the same thing to both newspapers, nothing strange there.

Telegraph: The OGC was created in the early days of the Blair Government when the premier brought in Peter Gershon from GEC Marconi to improve spending efficiency. .

Daily Mail:  The OGC was created when then Prime Minister Tony Blair brought in Peter Gershon from GEC Marconi to improve spending efficiency.

Verdict: You know, I think this might’ve been lifted from a press release too…

Telegraph: Brand expert Michael Hamilton said while the logo’s double-entendre was probably not deliberate, it could prove an added bonus for OGC. “They’re going to get more column inches than they could ever have expected before. If I were them, I would be pretty pleased.”

Daily Mail:  Brand expert Michael Hamilton said that the logo could eventually prove to be a success, despite the mistake. He said: "They’re going to get more column inches than they could ever have expected before. "If I were them, I would be pretty pleased."

Verdict: They both found a brand expert in time to quote for the story too, what luck!


I’m angry because journalists aren’t doing their jobs. Both The Telegraph and the Daily Mail knew the OGC were creating this fake story to generate awareness, and both were happily complicit. That’s lazy and it demeans the work of the PRs. So now we have to resort to masturbation-esque logos to generate a story? What’s next? What about the poor PRs who have dignity?

Podcasting – Peaking or Dying?

April 25, 2008Comments Off on Podcasting – Peaking or Dying?

Two divergent themes emerged about podcasting this week. Neville Hobson noted the cancellation of two podcasting conferences. Neville wondered if businesses had lost interest in podcasting, and whether this was specific to the UK? A few comments suggested that perhaps every business that was interested in podcasting, now knew how to do it.

Meanwhile, eMarketer reported podcasting is thriving with a 68% the recall rate compared with 10% on television. eMarketer predicts podcasting ad spend to hit $240m this year and $435m by 2012 – which is still rather paltry by the $5bn expected to be spent on Social Media in 2012.

So what’s really going on?

No-one seems to know. There is no reliable source of podcasting statistics. eMarketer’s latest report puts the total podcasting audience (people who have ever downloaded a podcast) at 25m, and the number of active podcasting audience (people who download a podcast once a week) at 7.5m. Yet this is based upon samples of the population rather than measured statistics.

How many podcasts are there? This is anyone’s guess. Steve Jobs claimed there were 125,000 podcasts available through iTunes. How many aren’t available through iTunes? No-one seems to know.

Podcasting has higher barriers than other elements of social media. You need a great voice, a healthy dose of charisma, some tech skills, the equipment and the perseverance to reach an audience. Likewise, podcasting isn’t as easy to consume as blogs or videos. You need to know how to download it and subscribe to it.

Perhaps the biggest problem is finding podcasts. It’s easy to stumble upon a blog post through a Google search, or a video in YouTube. It’s a lot more difficult to find podcasts. Podcasts need to be found.

If we can conclude anything, it’s that podcasting is a very niche activity which might never hit the mainstream like blogs or online videos. However, those who can find the niches can reap benefits either from greater awareness in their company, or from premium advertising rates.

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