Do it Wrong Quickly — is a right choice!

October 31, 2007

Wrong In the past, marketers have had to carefully plan ahead because getting it wrong was just too expensive. But today you don’t have to get it right out of the shoot.  Now you can start fast, change fast, and relentlessly optimize your way to success. We can do it wrong quickly…then fix it, just as quickly!


In Do it Wrong Quickly, Internet marketing pioneer Mike Moran shows us how to do that–step-by-step. Drawing on his experience building, Moran shows how to quickly transition from “plan then execute” to a non-stop cycle of refinement.

I recently had a chance to run a few questions by Mike and I think you’ll enjoy his answers. But brace yourself — he’s a funny engineer.  I know, I had trouble with the concept too!

Many of your readers are probably entrepreneurs stuck in a corporate culture.  If they get what you’re saying but their boss does not – how would you recommend (other than reading your book) that they begin to infuse this idea into their company culture? 

Reading my book and buying copies for their 20 closest friends is by far the best thing to do, but oh–you ruled that one out. I think that we marketers need to challenge ourselves to work just as hard at marketing inside our companies as we do outside.

We all think of ourselves as these very persuasive people that can get customers to consider new ideas, so why do we feel so stuck trying to explain something new to the boss? I say it’s because we don’t apply ourselves.

If your boss resists, do what you would do with customers that resist–try to understand what the blocks are and overcome them. For example, suppose your boss is extremely risk-averse, and trying something new scares him to death.

In that case, you might want to point out how dangerous it is for us to avoid this new important thing that our competitors are doing and customers are responding to. So if he really responds to fear, then scare him even more about the status quo.

Analyze what moves your boss and then pitch to that impulse, the same way you tailor messages to your target market.

How would you recommend that agencies help their clients embrace this thinking? 

Read my book–oh wait. Sorry.

One of the things that drives most CEOs and CFOs nuts is that most marketing can’t be shown to contribute to the bottom line. It gives them fluffy stuff like "increased brand awareness."

If you adopt a metrics-based approach to Internet marketing, then everything an agency does produces tangible impact in money terms–which helps clients justify bigger marketing budgets over time and gets them promoted over their peers who are still pitching name recognition and customer satisfaction.

Any agency that can explain how their clients become heroes in their jobs can cause them to embrace this thinking (or at least give it a warm handshake).

Off-line consumers are changing as well.  How does all of this translate for the local, primarily face-to-face business owner, like the butcher the baker or the candlestick maker?  Is your premise only a web-based one?

 The book focuses on Internet marketing of all varieties, but these ideas work offline, also.

In fact, some of them are stolen from offline direct marketing. Anyone sending out direct mail pieces or catalogs already knows how to "do it wrong quickly" because they judge the effectiveness of each piece based on response. They know what they send out the first time is wrong and they use the response to each version to tell them how to keep changing to get higher response.

Direct marketers tweak their materials over and over to get the highest response they can. One of the big messages of my book is how you can apply that thinking online.

If you could only use one tool (blogs, podcasts, Twitter, wikis, Facebook etc.) to track and observe your potential customer, which one would you choose and why?

I’d use a Web metrics package, such as Google Analytics or CoreMetrics.

As important as it is to listen to what your customers say (and I spend a lot of pages on that), it’s even more important to watch what they do. In the end, observing customers seeing your marketing message and clicking (or not) and buying (or not) tells you more than what they say.

Listening is important, but if you only do one thing, watch. A Web metrics package is the easiest way to watch, and Google’s is free, which is personally my favorite price.

Is there a specific industry that desperately needs to "get this" more than others?

I don’t know any industries that really have this down, but the ones that staring at the biggest culture changes are heavily-regulated industries.

Those industries are used to creating very effective one-way messages (even online), but they are scared to death to respond to customers in public because then they have to go off-message.

It’s hard to talk to anyone in pharmaceuticals or financial services without hearing about what their lawyers say about all this risky business. The problem is that the biggest risk of all is to sit out this change.

The first company in each regulated industry to figure this out will have a bigger edge than the first movers in other industries, because their competitors’ organizational cultures will be excruciating to change. Oh, and did I mention they should read my book? Oh, yeah. Just checking.


Does Disney really care if your kids are fat?

October 30, 2007

Picture_5 I don’t need to tell you how pro-Disney I am.  I love the brand, I love the culture, I love the actual experience.  It is where I go to re-charge and relax.  It is, in my mind, my place.

So it pains me to call bull#&*@^ on Disney.  But I’ve got to.

Thanks to a post on Marketing Profs Daily Fix (by Ted Mininni) and a follow up from Cam Beck at ChaosScenario, I learned about an article on CNN/

It reported that Disney has pledged their efforts to fight childhood obesity by launching a new line of products called Disney Garden that will include Mickey-shaped snack trays with combinations of celery, peanut butter and raisins or apples, cheese and crackers and others. Other items include sugar snap peas, honey orange carrot coins, cheesy broccoli bites and miniature apples, peaches, pears, plums and oranges.

Disney was one of a dozen companies that made a pledge before an FTC hearing in July that put more pressure on the companies to help curb the growing child obesity problem through more responsible marketing.

So Disney must be committed to eradicating childhood obesity, right?

I don’t really think so.  I’m sure they recognize its a problem.  And they certainly don’t want to purposefully fatten up your kids. 

But Disney Garden is brand extension, not social responsibility. 

Let’s face it, Disney is all about being family friendly.  They want to create brand loyalty among family decision-makers.  Where better than the grocery store?  And who better to cozy up to than Mom?  What is one of the hottest topics among parents today?  Childhood obesity.

Here’s the pesky part of this new breed of marketing. For it to be authentic and embraced by your consumers, there can’t be any "holes" in the story.  You have to be able to prove that you are walking your talk.

In this case, here are some of the holes I might reluctantly poke into Disney’s pledge against obesity (childhood or otherwise):

  • Disney has granted the exclusive privilege of a presence inside their parks to McDonalds and their french fry wagons.  So much for their break from Mickey D’s. The only thing those wagons sell — fries, sodas and bottled water.
  • Disney owned ABC Network still accepts and runs plenty of commercials for Doritos, sugar-laden cereal and other junk foods.  And they run plenty of them during Saturday morning cartoons and Hannah Montana reruns.
  • I just visited Disney’s website for Kids Island and watched a cool web ad for Cheetos.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think Disney is out to fatten up our kids.  And I know they are doing some things to offer healthy alternatives, like offering carrots instead of fries.  But to lay claim to a position as the industry leader out fighting obesity seems a stretch. 

Today’s marketing needs to be very wary of hype.  And this feels a wee bit hyped to me.  What do you think?


Is there an ROI for being customer focused?

October 30, 2007

Roi Thanks to a post on The Engaging Brand I read about study done by Peer Insight.

They did a three year study of 40 Fortune 500 companies – and the results clearly make a case for the ROI a company can realize by focusing on being purposeful about the customer experience.

The study showed that companies that focused upon customer experience design outperformed the S&P 500 by a 10-1 margin.  While I think that’s a very nice argument for crafting the customer experience, I think it is only one way to measure the value.

Here are some other valuations you need to consider:

~ Employee retention.  (Use this calculator if you have a strong stomach.)
~ Customer retention. Multiply your new customer acquisition costs times 5.
~ Loss of word of mouth.  The best marketing tool around.  And you don’t have any.
~ Fewer surprises.  When you’ve planned the customer experience, you can anticipate problems before they sneak up on you.

And that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.  What other benefits/ROI are there for purposefully designing the customer experience?


Age of Conversation: Three months later

October 29, 2007

Conversation_cover A little over 3 months ago, we launched Age of Conversation with our fingers crossed.  We came screaming out of the gate.

103 authors, most of whom have never looked each other in the eyes.  From 10 different countries.  Working together for a common vision — to publish a book they could be proud of and raise money for the world’s children.

So, how are we doing so far?

In the 90+ days since our launch, together we have raised $10,380.81! (That’s 1,351 books)

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that 98% of those sales took place in the first 60 days. 

It’s time to prove that we know how to market.  The holidays are coming and Age of Conversation would make a great gift for clients, business partners, family or friends.

We’ve got a couple ideas up our sleeve but would love to get some from you too.  How can we get AoC back on the radar screen and on everyone’s wish list this holiday season?

Could we raise another $10,000 in the next 90 days? 


Are we becoming a world of snackers?

October 29, 2007

Snacks I’ve long said we’ve become a USA Today world.  Bite-sized chunks of information, a pretty chart and we’re good.

I recently wrote about the power of downsizing how much information you try to cram into any marketing tactic.  We’ve also talked about how being long-winded can hurt your effectiveness. And the value of offering bite-sized test drives to our prospects.

So, I was excited when Connie Reece tagged me on a meme that was started by Jeremiah Owyang.  He asks the question — do you respect media snackers and if so, how?

So I’ll play along.  Here’s where I think I am holding my own:

  • I write posts like the ones listed above, trying to not only walk the talk, but teach it.
  • I keep my blog posts short. (for the most part)
  • I write a weekly marketing column that tops off at 300 words.
  • I use solo visuals to help tell the story.
  • I use Twitter and other micromedia.

Here’s where I need to get even better:

  • Adding more categories so topic-specific readers can find content easier.
  • Introducing my readers to more resources for just in time searching.
  • Continuing to hone my messages down to their essence.

So, as the game is played…I tag David Armano, Chris Wilson, Tim Siedell, Gavin HeatonMark Goren and Doug Meacham.

Even if you weren’t tagged, feel free to jump in and play along.  How are you modifying your communications to accommodate media snackers?


Create forms on the fly for your website or blog!

October 28, 2007

Picture_1 We talk about conversation and the need for providing feedback mechanisms for our readers, clients and prospects.  But how do we make that happen?

One of the elements we’ve been wanting to add to the MMG site’s Contact page is a form where people could subscribe to the blog, our e-newsletter or get more information. 

But we were struggling with creating a form that actually worked in all the different browsers and let us modify the form on the fly.  Then, I stumbled onto

You create the form and then they provide the code to paste into your site.  I literally created our Contact Us form and had it on our site in less than 15 minutes.

Think about the kinds of things you could add to your blog or website:

  • Event Registration
  • Contact Us
  • Customer Delight survey
  • Employee Application
  • Post Topic Suggestions
  • Speaking Requests
  • What else? has a free version (the one I used) and depending on your needs (# of forms, # of fields etc.)

Besides how easy it is…my favorite feature is that when I edit the form on, it automatically edits the form on my site.  So there’s no going back to amend the code.  Gotta love that!

Related posts:
~ Don’t talk to strangers
~ Be a drip
~ Your current customer is behaving very oddly


Mother Nature = Art Director?

October 27, 2007

Fall Here in the Midwest the most  vivid colors of the turning trees are coming into their full glory as we enjoy fall’s crisp air.   

Mother Nature has a way of creating some amazing color palettes that we should study, consider and make our own as we create visual identities, ad campaigns or collateral material for clients.

Over at, you can explore all kinds of color combinations and trends. Check out their post on autumn colors, including more than 50 different fall color palettes to inspire you.

You can also submit your own color palettes for readers to critique and vote on.

Thanks to my friends at AOR for pointing me to the post.


Are you giving your marketing tactics enough time?

October 26, 2007

  • Garden You till the ground until it is ready for the seed.
  • You enrich the ground with nutrient-rich manure.
  • You carefully pick out just the right seed, perfectly suited for the time of year and climate in your state.
  • You plant the seed, covering it with the rich soil.
  • You water the seed, making sure it has everything it needs to grow.
  • You check the garden the next day.  Nothing has broken ground.
  • You water again, hoping to see a sprout of growth.
  • You check the garden the following day.  Still nothing.
  • Following the expert advice on the HGTV channel, you lightly water again.
  • You check the garden again the next day.  Nothing.
  • You figure you did something wrong, so you dig up the seed, 2 days before it would have broken ground.

Crazy, right?  Who the heck would go to all that work and then not give the seed the time it needed to grow?

Look in the mirror my friend.  Marketers are guilty of this every day. 

One of the core tenants of marketing is patience.  Long after we are sick and tired of an ad campaign, marketing tactic or tagline — our audience is just beginning to notice it.

How do you know if you’ve given the seed time to break ground?

Related posts:
~ Create a stack of impressions
~ Close your eyes and say no


Evidence that we need to pay attention to our brand

October 25, 2007

Picture_6 When was the last time you saw a grocery aisle stocked with generic products? 

You remember the generic promise:

  • Made by the same manufacturers as the brand name products
  • In blind taste tests, no one could tell the difference
  • Cheaper

Sounds like a slam dunk, doesn’t it?  And yet, generic products have vanished off the shelf. 

Consumers are drawn to the safe and familiar, for the most part.  They want reliability and comfort in their decision.

They want you to create a brand they can trust and rely on.  Are you?


10 things I hate about you (say our clients)

October 25, 2007

10things (one of my favorite resources) has an eye-opening collection of articles that reveals the 10 major problems encountered by decision makers during the process of hiring consulting and professional services providers.

Not only are these the things decision makers hate about you, but, more importantly, they are also the reasons why they don’t buy your services.

It’s a must read.  You have to register to get to the download page, but you can always say you are Arnie Fuddleknicker.

Seriously — go read it now.  Shoo.