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Actually, it’s just a jaggy picture

The UK games have unveiled the Olympic logo for 2012. If you were an ordinary person, you’d describe it as a slightly jarring, very bright piece of abstraction. Of course, you’re not an ordinary person, you’re a marketer, in which case you might understand this:

"This is the vision at the very heart of our brand," said London 2012 organising committee chairman Seb Coe.

will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a
reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone
and reach out to young people around the world.

"It is an invitation to take part and be involved."

If you are paying money to someone who talks like this, may I suggest you stop? And if you work for someone who talks like this, time to look for a new gig.

The Dip

“The New York Times bestseller”

Not sure why that matters, but it does.

Most great books never make the Times. Plenty of lousy books do. Still, the Dip made the business bestseller list in today’s paper, and will be #5 on the very tough-to-crack Hardcover advice list next week.

True story: When the Times switched from 10 books on the Hardcover list, they created a list of 15 Hardcovers and a list of 5 Advice, How To and Miscellaneous titles. I wrote in and asked the editor why they only had 5 titles on this list and 15 on the others. She wrote back and said,

"Because we don’t want people to read those books."

Building 43

Saul Hansell writes what will certainly be the most-linked article in this week’s Times: Inside the Black Box.

The big takeaway for me is that there are [x] number of people, where x is a large number, working in a secret building at Google constantly changing the algorithms that they use to rank sites.

Being first in the Google rankings is more important than it ever was. And getting there is now more straightforward (but not easier) than ever.

It seems to me that in the SEO arms race, shortcuts have a shorter shelf-life than ever before. Building 43 is obsessed with them, and they outnumber whoever you might hire to beat the system. Organic success, on the other hand, is a clear path. If you want to be on the front page of matches for "White Plains Lawyer", then the best choice is to build a series of pages (on your site, on social sites, etc.) that give people really useful information. Not just boilerplate information you stole from a legal website, but really useful stuff about you, the local courts, the forms people need… the things you’d want to find if you were doing that search.

Once you’ve done everything you can… once you’ve built a web of information and once you’ve given the ability to do this to your best clients and your partners and colleagues, then by all means apply the best SEO thinking in the world to your efforts. Hire the best consultants and use the resources you’ve got left to be sure you’re playing by the right rules.

Betting against Building 43 doesn’t seem nearly as smart as betting on them.

Who wins?

The recycled newspapers in Grand Central Station are kept in cages more appropriate for pythons. It is apparently against the law to reuse a paper and read an old copy.

Perhaps the newspaper folks felt that it would hurt their circulation if passalong went up. This is stupid, of course, since people willing to fish a paper out of the recycling bin aren’t your typical pay-a-dollar sort of readers.

Perhaps the janitors thought it would be too much trouble to clean up.

It’s certain, though, that the people who decided to do this weren’t marketers.

The Blind Squirrel Problem

My dad likes to say, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then."

The thing is, acorns are getting a lot better at hiding.

I was in the local family-owned stationery store yesterday. A young man, perhaps 18, walked in and said to the foreign-born owner, who was busy behind the counter, "You don’t have any summer jobs, do you?" It was clear that he had never been to the store before, and from his dress (ripped shorts, sandals) that he wasn’t too serious, either.

You can probably guess the answer. The seeker thanked him and walked out, headed across the street to more rejection at the drug store.

This squirrel can stumble all he wants, but he’s unlikely to find a job, never mind a good one.

Even a summer job is 400 or more hours of work. I wonder why he didn’t bother to invest three hours in advance, looking for a job worth doing?

Actually, marketers do precisely the same thing all the time. Until it’s imminent, an emergency, it’s not high enough on the priority list. Which means that the effort (when we finally decide to allocate the time) is greater and the results are worse.

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