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Okay, viral, check.

Well, of course it had to happen. The marketing hordes are descending upon the passalong video, without really understanding what they’re doing. Check out this stupid Dancing Doughboy. It’s sort of like the original dancing baby, but without the panache, the eeriness or the surprising elegance.

What marketers need to understand about most viral videos is that they are like car wrecks. We slow down and shake our heads. We can’t believe what we’re seeing. Or we are seeing something for the very first time and it’s remarkable.

Now, as big brands (like Pillsbury) race the medium to the mainstream, all of that frisson is gone. Sure, some will succeed. Most will just sort of putter along, giving the naysayers at the big brands the chance to say, "see, I told you so," without understanding what went wrong in the first place.

Yes, I get to make my own Doughboy dance. But no, I can’t make him do unspeakable things with Betty Crocker.

Chevy is learning this the hard way with their Tahoe campaign… in which the best commercials are the ones that say, "Don’t buy me!"

No one invented this medium for marketers. The medium got here before we did.

Go Placeholders!! Defense, defense

Amazon jumps the gun on the NCAA…

All the technology in the world can’t protect you, sometimes.

Fresh Fish Here

My health club has a huge sign designed to go by the heavily traveled railroad tracks next to my office.

"Exclusive Charter Memberships Available."

Well, of course they’re not that exclusive, given that they’re on a billboard.
And does it matter that they’re ‘charter’?
Of course they’re memberships. All health clubs have memberships.
Which leaves, ‘available’, and the fact that they’ve got a sign pretty much makes that clear.

It’s like the apocryphal story about the fish store. "Well, of course the fish is fresh. You’re not going to sell me old fish, are you?" and "Of course it’s ‘here’. Where else would you be selling the fish?" and finally, "We know it’s fish. We can smell it!"

The worst thing you can do is be boring and vague.
The second worst thing you can do is be boring and verbose and obvious.

The first goal of copy is to get you to read more copy.
The second goal is to tell a story that spreads.
And then, finally, to have that story get people to take action.

Q: What sort of bonuses should we pay?

A. "It’s not about the money."

Usually, when people say this, they are lying.

Except, it turns out, at work.

Money, it’s been shown time and time again, is a demotivator. I’m not talking about a fair or even generous salary. Being a cheapskate is no way to find a great employee. But once people have joined your team, incremental money–bonuses and the like–usually demotivate people. They demotivate because sooner or later, people feel as though they’re being treated unfairly.

One guy gets a $10 bonus. The person sitting next to him seethes for weeks, while the bonusee forgets it soon enough.

A sales rep gets into a fight about a commission… and remembers it long after the moment is gone.

People who really and truly love their jobs are in every single industry. And people who do great work because they love their jobs are paid at every salary level. What they have in common is a boss that gives them respect and freedom and responsibility. A boss that listens when they have something to say. Which, not coincidentally, is exactly the way the best companies treat their customers, too.

Cutting your prices doesn’t build customer loyalty, and paying a bonus doesn’t build employee loyalty.

If I had money to spend on a bonus, Mr. question writer, I would invest it in allowing each of my employees to try a small project (Google style) with no strings attached. Giving fairly-paid people your trust and the freedom to grow is worth a lot more than $50.

[n.b. all bets are off when the topic is sharp-edged salespeople. Just as some stores (woot, for example) work hard to attract the money-focused shopper, there are some jobs where a razor-sharp commission structure is exactly what your people–and you–want.]

#33 with a bullet

Thanks to the generous (and kind, and good looking) people at MSN, The Big Moo is now #33 at Amazon. This was a really standup thing for MSN to do, and, as I said to ClickZ, it’s like being at the cash register at WalMart. Every person who passes by isn’t exactly the right person, but enough people walk by that it’s just fine, thanks very much. The power of the masses hasn’t diminished–they’re just harder to find, that’s all.

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