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Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

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An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.



All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing




Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow





An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.




Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.



Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.



Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.




Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.



Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.



Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).




The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.



The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.




The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.




The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.





"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.




Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.



V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.




We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.



Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.



THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars Blog

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Member since 08/2003

« December 2004 | Main | February 2005 »

When the echo chamber is everywhere

The profusion of media available makes it easy to assume that we're hearing a diversity of opinion.

This brilliant post makes it clear that this is not so. What's actually happening is that with less money per outlet (the money is about the same, the number of outlets is 1000 times more than it was a decade ago) there's a race to find stuff to talk about. And more often than not, people just repeat what they heard.

The most depressing day of the year.

This matters a lot to everyone. Not because human interest stories are misconstrued again and again (though the current controversy over Clint Eastwood's movie is a fine example) but because every brand, every incident, every individual runs the risk of being echoed until libeled, trivialized or, if you're very lucky, canonized.

Redundant restatements

At the airport the other day, every announcement was preceded with (at full volume)  "Attention All Personnel." Sometimes, they said it twice.

The thing is, as soon as you start blasting audio, you've got my attention. Stating that you want my attention not only doesn't get you more of my attention, it gets you less.

Not only is "Attention" useless, the word "all" doesn't do us much good either. And "personnel" is a fancy, bureaucratic word that doesn't mean a thing. Are they saying that they only want paid workers to listen? Paid airport workers?

I bring this up not because you're the twit who made the announcer talk in such an officious way, but because you one day may find yourself in a situation where you're writing a blog or a letter or an email or whatever... and you'll be tempted to fill the space.


Short sentences get read.

Not long ones.

While we're at it: short words are better than long ones.


Seminar changed

I'm a doofus, it's true.

Due to popular demand, my seminar will be Wednesday, the sixteenth, not the day after Valentine's Day.

Forgive me, cupid.

Seminars: Announcing the Whiteboard Sessions

By popular demand (thanks!), I'm holding a seminar February 15th CHANGED to February 16th, Wednesday, first come first served, the first new seminar I've run since September.

This one is going to be different. You can find all the details here: Seminars.

It's at my new office in Irvington, New York (click on the link to see the neat photos). Only 13 people can attend--the whiteboard sessions are designed to be significantly more interactive than my previous seminars. You bring issues or problems or challenges and the group will work through them.

I think this is a great setting for anyone familiar with my books who's trying to get ideas to spread--at work, in an organization, online, offline.

Please read the details at my seminar blog ( and be sure to reserve if you want to come. If it works out, I'll be running as many as eight this year, but let's see how this one goes.

And then moments later

The very funny John Aboud writes:

Since I'm essentially a shut-in, I thought it would be fun to play with Amazon's new Yellow Pages, which I'd read include thousands of photos of LA storefronts taken by roving Amazon vans equipped with digital cameras.

This listing for Meltdown Comics (no snickering) demonstrates a problem with their system:


Admittedly, it is accurate: everything in LA *is* always being blocked by a bus.

Link: Yellow Pages: Meltdown Comics & Collectibles.

Not just local, but vivid

A9 claims that the whole process is automatic (except for the driving) but the driving part! Wow.

I did a search at random (of a favorite cafe). Look what I found. Link: Search: soy luck club. Yes, that's a photo of the inside of the cafe. No, it's not completely useful yet, but it's pretty amazing.

Who, exactly, makes the little tiny gloves?

Oklahoma wants cock fighting roosters to wear boxing gloves.

Just FYI
Link: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - U.S. Headlines.

BitTorrent part 2

So, the interesting part of the near future re to BitTorrent is this:

When everyone can watch high resolution DVD quality video on their screen without breaking your server, what will you do about that?

Is Volvo ready with a thirty minute test drive I can watch when I'm ready to buy a new car?

Is Toshiba ready with a how-to manual for their new music server? A fifteen minute well-made video that actually explains what I should do to hook it up?

How about publishers? Are they ready to do a video news release with complete interviews with all their important authors?

This, folks, is the real 500 channel universe. It will probably turn out to be more boring than Seinfeld, but way more specific. A billion infomercials, all the time.

The winners will be people who have the guts to make the interesting ones.

What you need to know about BitTorrent (part 1)

According to Business Week, only 62% of Americans know what a blog is. Either that or 62% don't know. One or the other, doesn't matter. What matters is that now you need another cool piece of lingo.

BitTorrent is what p2p file sharing was supposed to be. It's a system that is totally decentralized. The more it gets used, the better it works.

Once lots of people start using it (and I imagine it will be built into browsers quite soon) the effect is this:
Person A starts downloading a file by pointing to a "torrent" file on the web. This is not the data itself, just information ABOUT the file. It points to places where seeds (copies) of the file are available for downloading. The more seeds, the faster that person A can get going. It's all automatic... the software does the work, not you.
Person B starts downloading, but now they're getting the file from the original seeds and from A, too.
Person C continues the linked process, with all the seeds, plus A & B.

As a result, it's possible to download, say, an hour's worth of Apple Computer ads in high quality format in just a few minutes as opposed to in a day or two.

There are BitTorrent clients (the program you need to run) in just about every computer format, and they're free. See the faq below for details.

Link: BitTorrent FAQ and Guide.

The Google Watch Continues

Ben Goodger (what a great name) the key developer on FireFox, just announced that he is now being paid by Google and will work there part time.

Link: Inside Firefox - The Inside Track on Firefox Development.

1. Running a successful open source effort is a great idea. I can't think of an individual who has invested the time and not had a great personal outcome as well.
2. Google understands what I failed to persuade Yahoo! of a long time ago--owning the browser is a home run. Microsoft has botched their ownership of IE, because they think like bullies, and you can't bully consumers into doing what they don't want to do. The idea of a Google browser is powerful from both a user and a commercial perspective, mainly because Google's culture will make it work.

The ultimate lesson keeps getting repeated but it's almost impossible for publishers, advertisers, media companies and especially individuals to understand:
The more you give away, the more you get.

165 Apple commercials

All in one place, all in bittorrent.

Thanks to Christopher Hurtado for the link.

Link: Beyond the Obvious » Apple Commercial Archive .

Warren Buffet on Gratitude

Be Grateful

There are roughly 6 Billion people in the world. Imagine the worlds biggest lottery where every one of those 6 Billion people was required to draw a ticket. Printed on each ticket were the circumstances in which they would be required to live for the rest of their lives.

Printed on each ticket were the following items:

                  - Sex
               - Race
               - Place of Birth (Country, State, City, etc.)
               - Type of Government
               - Parents names, income levels & occupations
               - IQ (a normal distribution, with a 66% chance of your IQ being 100 & a standard deviation of 20)
Weight, height, eye color, hair color, etc.
- Personality traits,
temperment, wit, sense of humor
- Health risks

If you are reading this blog right now, I'm guessing the ticket you drew when you were born wasn't too bad. The probability of you drawing a ticket that has the favorable circumstances you are in right now is incredibly small (say, 1 in 6 billion). The probability of you being born as your prefereable sex, in the United States, with an average IQ, good health and supportive parents is miniscule.

Warren spent about an hour talking about how grateful we should all be for the circumstances we were born into and for the generous ticket we've been offered in life. He said that we should not take it for granted or think that it is the product of something we did - we just drew a lucky ticket. (He also pointed out that his skill of "allocating capital" would be useless if he would have been born in poverty in Bangladesh.)

From Darren Johnson: Stuff I Think.

It's the list!

By  now, most marketers have realized that in the post-brand, post-tv world, permission (the privilege of marketing to the people who want to hear from you) matters more than just about anything.

Exhibit A: sent a catalog to their worst customers instead of their best ones. Big mistake. They shut down. (but perhaps will be reborn). Link: The New York Times > Technology > After Catalog Blunder, Suspends Business.


Exhibit B: This piece of junk mail from BMW arrived today. The punchline? I don't have a BMW and I have never had one! The astonishing thing is that the cheapest, easiest, most reliable mailing lists in the world are government registries of motor vehicles, usually c/o Ward's or some other company.

The lessons:
1. roll your own. Don't buy, rent or sell lists. Build them with people who want to hear from you.
2. anticipated, personal and relevant messages always outperform.

Juxtapositions on Demand via Mark Hurst

New Harry Potter Books:

Harry Potter and the Mystic Blades
Harry Potter and the Oracle of Acid
Harry Potter and the Platinum Trident
Harry Potter and the Serpent of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Steel Knowledge

Just a tiny sampling of what you'll find at this beautifully understated site. Basically, Steven Savage juxtapospes so you don't have to.

Link: Seventh Sanctum.

Not even close--the worst mission statements...

"To satisfy our customers' desires for personal entertainment and information through total customer satisfaction"

Mission statements used to have a purpose. The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another.

Along the way, when faced with something difficult, many managers just punted. Like the one above. But in the pantheon of bad, this hardly ranks. Feel free to send better/worse examples along. Operators are standing by.

Link:�About Us.

More about words

I went to Stew Leonard's! to do some research on a project for my new book, and came across a sign for some goat's milk cheese they were selling.

The cheese costs $11.99. Not $11.99 a pound, just $11.99. Hard to tell the exact weight, but it looked like about 5 ounces. Figure more than $30 a pound, easy.

Just above it was a little sign explaining why you should buy this sophisticated cheese. The sign wasn't handwritten, so it was less than reassuring or charming to discover that the writer had misused there (instead of their) and it's (instead of its).

When you're selling sophistication, spelling counts. (Unless of course the sign had been hand-written in a way that made it clear that the writer was using her second language--where French was the first language!)

Thinking about words (part 1)

Over the last few days, efforts to change Social Security have revolved around two words.

PRIVATIZATION it seems, has bad test numbers. So those who would privatize it don't call it that any more.

REFORM, on the other hand, is on the march. Reform is a great word in terms of establishing a frame for a debate, because reform assumes something is broken and how can anyone be against fixing something that's broken?

Don't minimize the impact of the right word.

In the blink of an eye

That's how long it took, on the glacial scale of media change, for bloggers to completely change the media equation.

Check out this chart of the traffic to Gawker's various blogs: nickdenton: gawker traffic.

In a good day, almost a million people read one of Nick's blogs. In a month, more people read one of his focused blogs than read Car & Driver or the New Republic or probably New York magazine (if we count readers, not subscribers).

How long did this take? A year? Three?

Are you writing ads to run on blogs yet?

Do you know Arthur Rubin?

Arthur is an amateur critic. Amateur critics didn't used to exist, really. If they did, few people noticed them.

Now, if you make something, sell something, raise money for something or invent something, you need to know about Arthur and the million people like him. You don't have to like him (or what he does) and it often pays to ignore him, but he's there. - Arthur.Rubin's Profile.

Joi explains it all for you

Of course it's a worldwide meme. What else could it be?

Link: Joi Ito's Web: O-Zone madness.


I just got this in my email.

I have no explanation.

It's fascinating. If there's a point, I don't get it. You decide.

Link: Numanuma.

Sell Side?

Fred Wilson talks about John Battelle's "new" idea for sell side advertising.

It's been around for a lot longer than you might think.

Commission Junction is one example (using affiliate links) but back in the old days (7 years ago) there was a lot of movement in this area as well.

Here's how I see it:
1. Advertising in a new medium is sold, not bought. It's not a commodity, it's an idea that gets sold to someone who wasn't planning on buying.

2. Google turns advertising into a commodity, because it's easy to measure and easy to buy. Once you get hooked on it, you want more.

3. It's not just the click, of course. It's the conversion.

4. Which means that there's room for middlemen who will optimize clicks AND conversion for advertisers willing to pay.

And that's where the future lies, I think. Something that's a cross between what Fred's talking about with A whole cottage industry of people who figure out how to turn adwords into clicks into conversions.

Turning this over to outsiders is a little like using a rep firm to be your salesforce. You can do it, but to really win, you've got to do it yourself.

If it were me, I'd start a few competing groups within my organization and challenge them to "buy" customers as cheaply as possible. Cheapest group wins. If you get good at doing it in house, go ahead and start taking on clients!

And I'll finish by reminding you of my biggest rant on this topic: conversion skills are worth ten times what clickthrough's worth.

Link: A VC: Sell Side Advertising.


In 1983, part of my job at Spinnaker was taking screenshots the same way this handsome fellow did. (I had hair, but no beard).

I wonder what other analog habits are about to disappear.

Link:'s design blog: Moving Day pt. 2 (aka. You've Come a Long Way Baby.).



That, in just one word, seems to be the essence of good customer service.

There are tons of books about measurement and strategy and management techniques. There are people who will monitor your phone logs, or do after-sale questionnaires. The car dealers have people calling folks a week later to be sure the service was good.

You could spend all your money and all your time trying to improve your customer service through one fancy technique or another.

Or you could just care. And hire people who care.

Caring goes a long way. Caring shows up in your voice and your interactions and in your policies. Caring is the difference between a simple easy form and a three-page government interrogation. Caring is the difference between treating every stranger as a potential customer instead of as a potential thief.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where they care? Or a hospital? You can tell immediately.

When I went to the cemetery a few months ago for the unveiling of my grandmother's tombstone, they were closed. On the window of the office was an 11 x 17 inch xerox copy (shrunk to a tenth of the actual size) showing the location of every plot. The copy was so small it was almost impossible to read. And the organization of the numbers was virtually random, so there was no way to find what we were looking for anyway.

They knew we were coming. There were only two ceremonies scheduled that day, yet there was no note.

My family spent an hour, in the rain, walking up and down and back and forth looking for the plot. No luck. All because no one cared.

A minute before we were about to give up, the caretaker came by and asked if we needed help. He recognized the name and took us right over. He cared. It showed. He wasn't doing this because he'd get a bonus. He was doing it because it was the right thing to do.

Grazefest 04!

If you can use it to sell beef (a real purple cow) you can use it to sell anything.

His goal is to direct market his all-natural, grass-fed Charolais and create a “buzz” with his customers that makes them tell their friends, eventually making them customers. Armed with direct marketing books with titles such as The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell; Permission Marketing by Seth Godin; and The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen, Baldwin focuses on making strangers into friends and friends into customers and letting word-of-mouth do the rest.

Link: Producer goes directly to the consumer with grass-fed beef.

And it's even a dial phone

Courtesy of Ed.

Link: ThinkGeek :: Apathy :: Zoom!.


Seems pretty late and pretty lame

Link: Magazines Gussy Up Web Sites to Court Ad Dollars.

Yes, it's true. Online ad dollars are about to exceed magazine ad spending.

If you're a magazine, this is bad news.

Magazines have lots of people and postage and printing costs. Magazines depend on traditional advertisers buying ads that are essentially unmeasurable, and doing so because they always have.

Everything is different on the web.

There are no incremental costs. People costs are much lower. And most of all, the ads are totally measurable.

2004 and 2005 are the years that the magazines of the future were/are born. And those magazines are unlikely to be print publications that figured out how to make it online. Instead, the new winners will be publications that figured out how to do what this medium is good at, instead of trying to protect a dying medium instead.

If I ran a traditional magazine, I'd figure out how to build a permission asset, how to enable dozens of blogs (some amateur, some pro) and how to embrace adwords, asap.

The Selfish American

I was called to jury duty this week. (Key word being "duty".)

It was an extraordinary learning experience. In New York State, they've eliminated most of the automatic exemptions, so everyone is there--lawyers, doctors, sole proprietors, doesn't matter.

This is one of the only times you get a look at your neighbors, unguarded, unadorned, completely random.

Here's what surprised me:
1. lots of people from two parent, single income homes
2. very little sense of civic pride
3. complete distaste for the legal system
4. widespread cynicism about insurance
5. most of all, selfishness.

I live in Westchester County, which is one of the most affluent counties in the USA. There was almost no one in the room who couldn't afford to spend the two or three days that were required of them (that's two days every six years). Yet the prevailing attitude was a wide and deep sense of self-importance. Everyone else should serve, just not me.

One dentist concocted an ornate story about a car accident twenty years ago--and how that had soured him on the fairness of the justice system (never mind that here was his chance to make at least one trial fair!) On no less than five occasions he tried to pull strings with a judge or a lawyer or someone to be freed.

As I spent the entire day sitting and watching, the "new selfishness" really became clear. I think it goes like this:

a. in the old days, public works were public. If you contributed to a charity or acted as a volunteer, your peers noticed and you got credit for it. Respected people were respected--at least partly--because they gave to the community.

b. in the last twenty years, the variety of ways to give to your community has increased dramatically. As a result, it's hard to keep track.

c. a lot of people (respected people) have fallen through the cracks. Neighbors and peers assume that just because you're financially successful, you must also be a good citizen, even though they can't actually see that.

d. so the selfish nature of people is rewarded--work more, give less, keep the difference.

There in the jury room, people couldn't help but revert to type. They couldn't relax about this forced duty, to just accept it and do it gladly. So they radiated anger and distrust.

Marketers of just about everything need to think really hard about the new selfishness. From politics to recycling to gas mileage to philanthropy to food, it feels to me like people are making decisions in a very different way than their parents did.

Rules for failure

William Beatty was writing for amateur scientists, but it's pretty global:

The road to failure often contains:
1. Secrecy
2. The conviction that someone is about to steal your idea.
3. Focus on selling your idea to the government or a big corporation.
4. Loss of humility and focus on fame
5. Belief that scientists and businesses (the smart ones) will hail your discovery.

SCIENCE HOBBYIST: Rules for unconventional researchers.

"A loyalty card is a piece of plastic"

Tim Manners keeps getting better and better. In this essay: Fast Company | Where's the Loyalty? he rips into those that have confused a program (loyalty cards, points, systems, scanners, etc.) with something that actually works.

Just because it's the bureaucratic thing to do doesn't mean it's going to work. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

All real loyalty programs start in the same place: creating an experience or a product that is its own reward. We're loyal because it makes us feel good, not because we're being bribed.

The end of candor

One of the reasons blogs worked so well for so long is that we could believe them.

One person, one blog, just the truth. The truth on the surface (it's a simple interface and you're not missing anything) and the truth a little below the surface (it's a personal, authentic monologue).

There have been plenty of signs lately that this is officially over. Today's Times drives that home: The New York Times > Arts > Pro-American Iraqi Blog Provokes Intrigue and Vitriol.

With corporate blogs and fake blogs and cia blogs and calculated traffic-driving blogs, it's not authentic media any more.

I'm not whining, here. Instead, I'm pointing it out because your expectations as a reader and a writer have to change. The benefit of the doubt is gone.

[added a few hours later: I've gotten a bunch of mail assaulting my "endorsement" of the NY Times. Hey, I have no idea at all if the NY Times is right. I have no idea if the CIA is running the blog in question. That's not my point! My point is that with all the movie producers, drug marketers and PR firms running blogs now, it wouldn't surprise me in the least that the CIA is running a blog. That's the point. If our confidence in the authenticity of this medium is that thin, then we're already on the slippery slope. Just like email before it, nobody can know you're a dog (or not). So don't assume that you'll be trusted.]

Do not use for personal hygiene

It took years before I could admit that I actually ripped the tag off my mattress when I was a kid. Thanks to Helene for the link.

Link: MSNBC - Warning: Don't brush teeth with toilet brush!.

More entries:  Welcome to MLAW.

25,000 copies sold

That's what it takes to make the #1 spot on the UK pop charts.

That's 25% or less than what it used to take.

You can publish a New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller and sell just 5,000 copies in a week to reach the same milestone.

More and more, it takes less and less to be #1. That's because the market is wider and flatter than in any time in history. In other words, the bestselling book, song, beer and car is "other."

Link: Yorkshire Post Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More.

In violent agreement!

Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Watch writes,

“Search marketing is more than buying ads -- SEO is the search world's equivalent to public relations. It also doesn't mean that you have to link spam, comment spam or content spam. Content-driven SEO -- I'm writing more about this next week -- is something anyone should be considering.

You can have all the great content you want. Neglect some basic things to make your site search engine friendly, and you aren't getting in. It's like saying that you need never reach out to the press, they'll just somehow magically discover you've launched a new product, done something interesting. Search engines are better at discover, but outreach still helps -- SEO is that type of outreach.”

While Danny might be surprised to hear this, I completely agree with him. I’m not a harsh critic of SEO, despite what you may have heard.

I want to clarify two things.

First, the entire Search Engine community is now more important than it was a year ago. By far. It’s now an “industry” the same way movies and TV media cabals have become an industry. No, there’s no Daily Variety and they don’t report hirings and firings in Entertainment Weekly, but the astonishing success of Google and of AdWords means that just about every organization is now concerned about what’s going on. It’s not just for geeks and tweakers. That’s a sea change from the old days.

Which leads to my second point. Just a short time ago, SEO was seen as a shortcut by marketers unwilling to do the hard work of actually making a product and a site that mattered. In that era, SEO was the quick way to get cheap traffic—cheap so you could afford to waste it.

Today, it’s different. The bar is higher. People have figured out how to make online offers that work. Once you’ve done that homework, it’s important (probably imperative) to streamline your site so that it works better with search engines. Why wouldn’t you?

Link: Search Engine Watch: Tips About Internet Search Engines & Search Engine Submission.

Mob justice

One of the side effects of the massively many-to-many publishing model that is the blogosphere is the following math:
1. controversy is fun to write
2. controversy is fun to read
3. piling on is safe and fun
4. undoing 1, 2 and 3 is no fun, hard work and easy to avoid.

When I was a kid, there was a fair amount of mob justice. A bunch of kids would spread a rumour, a posse would appear, ask no questions, beat the crap out of you and move on.

A friend of mine is now in a similar situation (and, as Arlo Guthrie famously said, "you may find yourself in a similar situation..."). And the question is, what should he do.

If he takes the time to point out to those bloggers that they're wrong, that they've taken one data point and blown it out of proportion while ignoring the facts (and there are many facts that they've ignored) he's just adding fuel to the fire. "Of course you'll deny it," they've said to him on the phone, "that just proves we're right".

Bloggers love a good fight. They love the give and take and the comments and the links. So my friend keeps his mouth shut and waits for it to blow over.

And it will blow over. Blogging is about speed, and no news is bad news if you're in the hunt for an easy score.

So that's the right way to deal with the mob, but it's not fair. It sucks, actually. The mob wins and nobody learns anything.

No one knows you're a dog

Well, it turns out that Think Secret - Mac Insider News, the site that was sued by Apple for leaking its big secrets, is run by Nicholas M. Ciarelli, a 19 year old Harvard student. He started the site when he was 13.

I've been reading the site for years. I figured that Nick (his nom de plume) was about 50, a burnt out engineer shopping at Fry's and living in the Valley.

Go figure. A 13 year old kid starts a site that takes a nick out of the stock price of a Fortune 500 copy and so annoys them that they sue him against all better judgment.

My oversight

But you, my loyal readers, were quick to clarify:

You can also find good Search Engine juice at: Search Engine Watch: Tips About Internet Search Engines & Search Engine Submission.

How to Sell Anything To Anyone just one easy step.

Make something people want to buy.

Five years ago, when I first got to Yahoo, I was excited. All my life I'd been selling media... sometimes I failed slowly, other times I barely succeeded. I was pretty good at it, if you compared me to everyone else in the field, but it was by no means easy.

The Yahoo guys were different, though. Where it took my staff and me months or even years to make a million dollar sale, Yahoo's salesforce was doing five or ten million deals every week or so. They knew the secret. They were supertalented, highly trained and very, very motivated.

So, now I was at Yahoo, playing for the winning team, and I was invited to go along on a sales call. I was vibrating in my shoes in anticipation.

You've probably already guessed the punchline. It was one of the single most inept sales presentations I'd ever seen. A lousy powerpoint. A non-charismatic, non-empathetic salesperson who faced the wall and read the fine print on the slides aloud. At the end of the presentation, he mumbled something about being able to take a check.

A few minutes later, the prospect handed over four million dollars.


Sometimes it seems like the very best stuff sells itself. That explains why some car dealerships have waiting lists and sell stuff for a premium, while others look like ghost towns.

Sometimes, salesmanship is overrated. What matters more is real marketing, marketing that involves making the right product, not hyping it.

Is there a "search engine industry"?

There is now. If this is a brand new form of effective media, somebody ought to be telling us what's new, what's working and what's absurd.

Check out: SearchViews.

Speaking of Apple

What is it about Apple that makes pundits want to talk about it all the time? I know I do. Why is it so unique? Why is Steve Jobs singular among CEOs, not commonplace?

I have no clue. I do know that this iProduct announcement captures the essence of what I'm talking about: iProduct.gif (GIF Image, 640x1050 pixels).

PS this is the third post of the day in which the thing I'm pointing to contains profanity. It's not on purpose, I promise. I'll try to do better.

It's about going to the edges

My friend Rich talks about how my friend Jack (and his ace Aaron) went all the way to the edge in delighting a customer.

It is patently stupid to send a Christmas card. Christmas cards are invisible. This is not. Link: "Hello_World": How to GUARANTEE customer evangelism!.

The myth of the CMO

I feel sorry for Judy Verses. She's the Chief Marketing Officer of Verizon, a brand that is justifiably reviled by millions of people.

Is Verizon disdained, mistrusted and avoided because Judy's not doing a great job? Of course not. She's doing a great job.

The reason we hate Verizon is they act like a monopoly, have ridiculous policies, a lousy call center, a bad attitude, plenty of outbound phone spam and crazy pricing.

We hate Verizon because of all the things Judy doesn't get to influence or control.

The myth of the CMO is the C part. They don't get to be the chief of the stuff that is really what marketing is all about today. CAO, maybe (Chief Advertising Officer) but not CMO.

If I were the CMO of Verizon, I'd fix the call centers. I'd fire people with a lousy attitude who aren't afraid to share it with a customer. I'd reward the great ones (like the installer who came to my new office last week) and figure out how to get every one of their thousands of people to understand that THEY are the marketing department. And I'd shut down the outbound phone spam center immediately.

Until that happens, the CEO is the CMO, no matter what the title says.

Thanks to Tim at reveries - cool news of the day for getting me thinking.

The HughTrain

It's possible (unlikely, but possible) that you haven't come across gapingvoid.

If you haven't, it's worth a click.

Hugh's blog is awfully different from mine (for one thing, he works harder and is more prolific) but it's certain that it will make you sit up straight, pay attention and maybe, just maybe, think a little bit about all the changes our organizations are struggling with.

Hugh publishes his new manifesto today at

More reviews

Sure, it's off topic, but the reviews are worth reading.

Thanks, Cleo.

Link: Books: The Family Circus.

Is there a future in selling digital words?

Sanj points me to e-Books & Docs: Just in Time: Sony Talks About PSP [DOWNLOAD: PDF].

This is a special "flash report" from a reputable firm. It costs $1,500. According to my favorite review:

If you were stunned by the shocking twist ending of "No PSP for the Holidays," well, you haven't seen anything yet! Quite possibly the best sequel ever written, "Sony Talks About PSP" takes everything you THOUGHT you knew about its predecessor and turns it on its head.

One page of data for $1,500.... certainly there is information out there that's worth that much. I think the interesting question is not "who would have the guts to charge this much?" or even, "who is stupid enough to buy this?" but, "are businesses or consumers willing to pay for a report in a medium that they've been trained should be free?"

Nobody has created a viable channel for selling this sort of information in a format like this. I wonder if they ever will.

The Selfless Spammer!

Dean Wilson writes in in response to my post just below.

"Just a quick comment on your post regarding the insane text that is
often used in SPAM emails, the short version is that it's intended to
'poison' smart (Bayesian based) filtering software to both make the
user trust it less and to confuse it. The aim is that the person
either grows to distrust the software and turns it off or that the
software becomes 'confused' by the non-sensical emails and starts
letting more actual spam through.

The full details are all available in very comprehensive (and pretty
dry / dull) papers on the 'Net but most people just don't care that
much about them :)

Hope this helps.

Dean (Occasional Mail Server Administrator"

So, in essence, spammers are ruining their own response rates in order to increase the response rates of the entire industry.

Where's Richard Dawkins when you need him!

Stuff I don't get

There's weird stuff on the Net. Always has been. Most of it is weird because a lot of people are a card or two short of a full deck.

Lately, though, the Net has become monetized. The more you pay, the more attention you get. So explain to me this link: World-Check. I came to this site through a google adword link--someone paid money to get me to click on the link.

It takes me to a mostly black page with a prominent ENTER button. And the ENTER button won't let me into the site without my password. Tantalizing? Maybe a little... But it sure seems like a waste of money.

And what about this?
"besiege aeneid bates aleph bicep armature append cardioid bang abacus bellicose american acquiescent"

That's a quote from a piece of spam I got. Spam isn't as expensive as adwords, but it's not free, either. I assume this list of words is here to get past a spam filter (it didn't work). But what if it DOES get past the filter? What do they hope someone who reads this endless string of words is going to do exactly?

All too often, we fall in love with the tactics and forget about the strategy that led us to spend money in the first place.

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