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Random Links for a Tuesday

Different takes on being purple:
Digg now does video.
OttoBib launches a very simple bibliography tool.

…and unrelated, Cisco launches an iPhone, demonstrating that Apple isn’t always so good at naming products.

Another seminar

Just in time for year-end budget filling: A Day with Seth Godin.

The last one sold out in a few weeks, so don’t dilly. See you there.

Here comes the Long Tail of Reddit (and Digg…)

It had to happen, and it’s happening all at once.

Several sites (a few links at end of the post) are launching very focused, very vertical Digg-like features. My favorite is probably Squidoo (of course) because we’ve been working on it for a few months and I think you’ll like some of the features.

As you know, making the front page of Reddit is worth three bucketfulls of clicks. The thing is, there’s only one front page. Even as these sites split into multiple front pages (Digg now has seven front pages), there’s never going to be enough front pages to satisfy everyone. The irony is that Chris Anderson (author of the Long Tail) is at Wired, new owner of Reddit…

Digg and Reddit are groundbreaking and they are not going away. The power of the audience they aggregate is huge–putting all those seekers in one place makes it irresistible.

Now, though, instead of aggregating to one much seen page, Squidoo now permits you to build your own list (and syndicate it), on whatever topic you can imagine.

Examples I built by using some lists I found around the web:
Fred Wilson’s Top 10 Albums of 2006
Which Broadway Show?
Doc Searls’ Top Blogs
Seth Godin’s List of Books About Spreading Ideas

Here are some that are better than mine:

Videogames for toddlers, John Williams soundtracks, sci-fi movies and essentials. So what’s missing? Stuff that’s focused on current affairs within a field. The best posts on architecture, for example.

Like Digg and Reddit, you can add your own entries to (some of) the lists, and the lists change in real time. You can also syndicate them, posting the sharable ones on your blog or your website.

What this means is that there’s a new group of sites coming along, sites that reward people for being curators.

Addressing one of the issues I had been fretting about, each list has a human editor and each list has a doorman–if the person building a list desires, she can screen what’s posted to maintain list quality.

PlugIM is doing something Reddit-like with news about web marketing.

Stumbleupon just did it with videos (sort of)

and Wikia is using a less elegant voting mechanism to highlight the best posts or entire wikis.

Bet you money there will be more soon!

Embracing the naive prospect

Many businesses cater to individuals and corporations that are making a once in a lifetime purchase. Whether it’s a DJ for your kids sweet 16 or a company that pours tar on the roof of your factory, it’s unlikely you’re an expert when you go to buy the product or service.

So, unlike a purchase from an educated consumer (shoes, for example, or a car or workman’s comp insurance) this purchase has very different rules. Jargon, for one, is missing, so it’s hard to communicate crisply. Education matters, because without the confidence to decide, the prospect will stall, or evade, or just move on. And trust is essential, because there’s so much fear on the line.

I think there are a few valid tactics to consider:

EDUCATE–not a little, but a lot. Run a school. A real honest to goodness school, online or off, by phone or by plane. If it’s important enough to me, I’ll attend.

BE TRANSPARENT–tell me all about your competitors. Sure, I might buy from you if you’re the only one I can think of, but I’m way more likely to buy from you if you have the confidence to give me a list of questions and a list of competitors.

A GUARANTEE might be worth less than you think. It certainly won’t help replace my ruined bar mitzvah!

REALIZE that your reputation might not precede you. In other words, it’s entirely possible that I have no clue who you are or what you’ve done before.

COMMUNITY–put me in a room with ten other people facing the same quandary. As we talk with each other, we’ll gain trust in you.

Most of all, I think it’s essential to acknowledge internally that your job is to turn naive, fearful new prospects into confident spreaders of word of mouth.

Or, intentionally ignore this market and demand jargon and a reference before you let me in the door. Either strategy can work. What doesn’t work is intidimidating the already intimidated.

Adventures in personalization

Conrad points us here. Just change the last two words in the URL and the animation changes. Personalization appears to be a little like salt on potato chips–when there’s too much, it’s not so good.

The Whole Wheat Test

It appears that the typical Whole Foods Market employee has a heart.

For a variety of reasons, the company attracts employees who care about what they’re doing. Which makes this test relevant to you (because you care) and poignant, too.

I asked at the Whole Foods bakery for a loaf of "whole wheat bread" that looked quite tasty. As the clerk was bagging it, I asked, "Is it 100% whole wheat?" It turns out that lots of bread that’s labeled as whole wheat really isn’t. In fact, there’s no regulation on this at all, and you can sell a loaf with just a tablespoon of whole wheat in it as "whole wheat."

"Actually, no," she responded, putting it back.

Here’s the thing: Virtually everyone who buys whole wheat bread is buying it because they want whole wheat bread, not white bread with some caramel color and a little whole wheat. While it might be legally permissible to sell a pale replacement, it’s certainly not ethical.

I asked the person why she didn’t change the sign. Call it whole wheat blend or something catchy. She explained that she wasn’t allowed to. Yes, they have other loaves that are whole wheat, and she sold me one of those.

The question I’d ask you is this: if you worked at the bakery, would you change the sign? Or direct people to the real whole wheat bread? Or would you follow the company line and deceive your customers?

It comes up more than you would think. I get email from marketers complaining that they are forced to spam people and from retail associates who are upset that they are measured on how many worthless warranties they sell…

Where do you draw the line? How do you decide what’s a sufficient amount of non-transparency and what’s unacceptable?

[Contributed by Doug Sandquist, DDS (ellipses his): there are plenty of buzz words to market… I try and teach my employees, my philosophy that is based on experience and research… Take tooth whitening for example… a laser does nothing to bleach teeth… the bleaching agent bleaches teeth.. the Laser is a marketing tool…  The theory goes that if you light/heat activate the bleaching agent it will work faster.. but all the research shows that it doesn’t matter… the research also shows that tooth whitening at home works as well if not better than the in office "Laser" whitening systems… in fact the research shows that it typically takes a patient 2-4 visits(usually a week apart) of Laser visits to equal 4 weeks of at home daily whitening… so the results are the same… here’s the catch… I can charge $360 for a 4 week at home system…. For an in office laser system I have to charge the patient $500 each visit.. which means it could cost $2000. I am happy to the go the in office way if the patient understands all the alternatives.. I expect my employees to understand all the buzz words and understand how our office handles them… My employees need to know the pros and cons of the options….. and I expect them to educate our patients about them too!  If we are not honest about tooth whitening, how are we to be trusted for other larger treatment options?]

The wet fish handshake

It’s happened to all of us. We meet someone and they hand over the wet fish.

I don’t know about you, but I’m immediately inclined to flee.

Well, now that spammers (and their evil cousin, the PR flak who emails every blogger in a database in order to flog a new product/site) are trying harder than ever to pretend it’s not spam, we’ve got our eyes peeled.

Like the note I received today from Glenn, a flunkie at a VC firm:

Dear SETH,

it began (first clue!)

and in the middle,

…a future investment in Seth Godin.

(the person, not the company?)

The good news is that human beings are really really good at looking for the tiny clues that let us know if they’re legit. The bad news is that spammers are going to get even better at disguising themselves (I admit I get tricked every now and then–I get tricked by handshakes sometimes too).

Just because a marketer can trick someone doesn’t mean she has the right to.

What is a click worth?

You probably have already figured it out (if you’re buying clicks, I hope so!). If not, here is a handy spreadsheet: Click value measurement.

When the public can comment on your ads…

They will. And when your ad is on YouTube, they can.

Link: YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.

Government regulates sneezing

John points us to:  FTC Moves to Unmask Word-of-Mouth Marketing – washingtonpost.com.

It asks more questions than it answers, but maybe it will put transparency a little higher on the agenda. One sure winner: lawyers.