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Why change it?

Where do guests of Saturday Night Live stay? At the Essex House, of course, "high above Central Park." Well, the Essex House is under new management, and the name is being changed, they say, to the Jumeirah Essex House.

Think that’ll help them in alphabetical hotel search results? Or on Travelocity? Or even on the radio? If they don’t expect that people will use the new name, why change it?

Non-linear media

Lynn Russo just did an email interview with me about a phrase I hadn’t thought much about. Thought you might want to read the entire thing:

First, can you tell me, what does the term nonlinear
mean to you when it comes to advertising and marketing

During the tv-industrial complex, shows and ads were
linear, because producers of media assumed we would start at
the beginning and sit till the end.

Enter the remote and tivo and the web and suddenly, you can
interact with what you want, when you want.

In what ways is online media already nonlinear?

online media has always been non linear, which is why every
single person or organization that has tried to turn the web into a big TV
has failed.

What value does this bring to the advertiser?

Most advertisers see a threat. Smart advertisers see a
chance to deliver anticipated, personal and relevant ads to
the people who choose to get them.

How do customers react/respond to the nonlinear aspects
of online media compared with the way they respond to a more
linear campaign?

Almost all "campaigns" are linear, because that’s how
advertisers, producers, directors and story tellers think.

Are customers driving this nonlinear movement?

On the other hand, consumers of media don’t think that way.
We browse. We reject the storytelling arc and just take what
we want, and then move on.

Where do you see this going? How will online media and
promotion become increasingly more nonlinear?

What works: messages from many places, not one, directed to
many different types of people, not one, that tell a story
we want to hear, but do it in many different ways

Can you think of any good examples of non-linear use of
the Internet?

all the stuff that works on the net… from chat to blogs to
adwords to google… it’s all non-linear.

With squidoo, we’re trying to build something that adds
structure to that non-linear nature. Organized non-linearity.

Fear and Creativity

The enemy of creativity is fear.

The enemy of fear, in the short run anyway, is not creativity. It’s the fetal position.

The fetal position doesn’t work. It feels like it ought to, but it just gives you more room for your fear.

In the long run, the enemy of fear is creativity. I’m sure of it.

Fear and airplanes

Why do people rush to get onto long flights–even when the plane isn’t full?

It’s not so they can get their carryons stowed… I notice that even people with no carryons push to get on.

(then they push to get off, at the end).

Even though they paid for the flight, it’s not the flying they paid for. It’s the getting there. And getting there means anxiety for some people. I think getting on and getting settled and not missing the flight no matter what are all steps that people take to reduce their anxiety.

Just wondering if that might apply to what you sell…

If you have more than 100 pages of content…

I hope you’ll read this post.

For the few of you that haven’t been bludgeoned by my past support of RSS, here’s a quick two lines to bring you up to date:

1. anyone with an RSS reader, or MyYahoo or Bloglines or a Squidoo lens can read an RSS feed.
2. The RSS feed is a spam-free way to alert subscribers when something is new on your website.

You can sign up for my feed just down the column on the left side <—

This is great for a blog, obviously, because every time I post something, any subscriber with a reader knows about it and can check in and read it.

But what if you don’t have a blog?

What if you have a catalog?

Or thousands of pages of web content?

What if it’s Picasso’s birthday and you want to ping your subscribers and point them to both the Wikipedia entry on Picasso as well as the three pages on your art site that sell his posters?

Now you can! Only $200. FeedCraft – RSS feed creation, tracking, and management.

You type in the URL and the copy and boom, it’s done.

Stuff like this is really cool, imho.

Understanding the funnel

I’ve been talking about funnels for almost ten years, but realized I hadn’t blogged on this… so here goes.

Traditional marketing divides the world into two groups:

Customers are traditionally undervalued, and prospects are all treated the same.

As marketing got more sophisticated, some prospects ended up being treated a little differently than others. Someone reading Field & Stream, for example, is a more valuable prospect to a bullet company than someone reading Bass Fisherman.

Missing from this demographically-based analysis is the idea that people can change. They change their posture, their attention and their attitude. And as the knowledge they receive increases, their value as a prospect changes as well.

I think marketers always knew this, but they haven’t been able to do much about it.

Until now.

The Google funnel is easily measured and if you’re marketing anything to anyone, you need to understand it (this idea is so powerful it’s now built in to Google’s free web analytics program, Urchin).

Imagine someone out there, surfing on the web. He is a prospect of your fishing bait company in that one day, he might become a customer. He’s at the top of the funnel.

Now, he types "bass" into Google. Through that action, he has self-identified as a better prospect. He’s moved down the funnel and become more valuable to you.

But, of course, he might have meant "bass" as in "bass guitar." Once he refines his search in that way, he’s jumped out the funnel. For right now, he’s not worth much.

But wait! He has refined his search by typing in "bass fishing." Now, he’s worth a great deal more than he was just a moment ago. Which is why AdWords is such a good idea.

You have a choice when you run an AdWord ad. You can write copy that gets lots of clicks, or more specific copy that gets fewer, but better clicks. Traditional marketers believed that attention was free, and the more the merrier. But Google charges by the click, so new marketers realize that they are willing to pay extra for folks a bit farther down the funnel.

Now, if he’s clicked on "Bass Lures for serious fishermen," our surfer’s value has just increased immensely. And you’ve paid handsomely for borrowing his attention from Google. Now the prospect is on your site, and his value to you is quite high–and his cost is high as well.

At this point, your job is not to make a sale. Selling is just one option in a range of things you can do to further drive him down the funnel. You can engage in a dialogue (by phone or email) that takes place over time and avoids the all-or-nothing cliff of "buy now or go away forever". You can further inform or entertain, all in the service of your goal of increasing the interest, education and value of this prospect.

Now, finally, you have refined the traffic in the funnel. Everyone at the bottom is ready to buy, to engage with you, to become a customer.

Once you see the funnel, it’s easy to understand how valuable your existing customers are, and easy to think about how you want to spend time and money in promoting and building your site. Most marketers are running a flat campaign. Embracing the funnel changes the way you treat people. And treating different people differently is what consumers demand.

What would David do?

David Meerman Scott reports that his new ebook The new rules of PR: How to create a press release strategy for reaching buyers directly is getting more than a thousand downloads a day. The ebook contains a simple idea, well presented. He also tells me that he’s getting plenty of traffic from his Squidoo lens, which feeds his blog, which feeds his ebook and then back to his lens.

We’re seeing a new ecosystem, where each of the pieces is slightly different from the tools we’re all used to.

Everybody stalls

There’s no question about whether you are procrastinating about something. The only question is: what?

Knowledge work creates myriad opportunities for stalling. You can stall about making a salescall, stall about redoing a website, stall about reorganizing your department… the list of areas is so long, it becomes a stall in itself.

But deep down, you already know where you’re stalling. It’s that thing that makes you uncomfortable, probably because it involves doing something you might be held accountable for.

The problem with Google AdSense is that it makes marketers accountable. Unlike Super Bowl ads, you can tell if your Google ads work. And so it’s easy to stall.

The problem with inventing a new product that challenges the status quo is that whoever did it is responsible for whatever happens.

The problem with prioritizing your group’s tasks and publishing the list is that it makes it really clear what you’re on the hook for.

In very tiny, very motivated organizations, new employees are often stunned by how much gets done. That’s because of how hard it is to stall.

Knitting for the blind

Ilana Rabinowitz writes:

I handle the marketing for a knit and crochet website. In response to an
email from a blind knitter who wanted to use our patterns, we programmed
a template so that all of our over 1,000 free patterns could be ready by
a Brailler machine, that creates Braille from text or by a text to
speech reader.  The response was overwhelming, with the most (in terms
of enthusiasm and quantity) positive comments we have every received.
Our site has been up since 1995. Most people who responded were not
blind. They just appreciated what we did so much that they swore to buy
our product exclusively from now on. Our next programming adjustment
will be to make all of our patterns available in large type. Now that is
a LOT of people, but the motivation to do this evolved from our first
modification when we realized that appealing to people with special
needs (these very targeted niches) was good all around.

Marketing to the majority

Most marketing is focused on the biggest portion of the market, because most marketers believe that if you fill the biggest need, or market to the largest mass, the upsides are greater.

Today, in the US, it’s a holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unlike most American holidays that are just rituals, not rememberances (how much time do you spend thinking about Christopher Columbus?…), this holiday is fresh enough that it’s worth thinking about what it means.

Here’s a crux of the matter, at least from a marketing (not moral) standpoint: if you recognize a minority group, if you treat them not as an other but as a peer, and if you solve their problem, they will notice you, do business with you and remember you.

Not "minority" in the racial sense, necessarily, but in terms of any group that feels overlooked, or disrespected, or underserved.

I live less than a mile from the home of the first black millionaire in America. Madame CJ Walker practically  invented the idea of franchising… by creating a chain of beauty salons for black women at a time when no one else could be bothered.

PRESS BRIEFING BY LARRY SPEAKES (Press Secretary for Ronald Reagan)

October 15, 1982

The Briefing Room

12:45pm EDT

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement ≠ the
Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and
have over 600 cases?


Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as "gay plague."
(Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in
every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the
President is aware of it?

MR. SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

Before deciding that a market (left-handed people, Mac users, people who speak Spanish) isn’t worth the effort, it might be worth a moment’s reflection. Sometimes, a purple cow is just purple because it’s best at serving a nascent market. And it doesn’t matter if you’re marketing a political campaign, a non-profit or a soap.

I feel a little trivial talking about soap and computers in the same post that I mention civil rights and AIDS. But they’re all branches on one tree. It’s very easy to get caught up in rationalizing on behalf of the majority–but it’s not always smart, and not always fair and not always right.