Squidoo today launched HeyMonkeyBrain.com.
Digg covers it here.
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.
eBay is basically an auction online. It's a great idea, I wish I'd had it, but it's still an auction, same kind we've had for a million years.
Jeff Jarvis points us to a new feature in Google Docs. Think this through for a moment:
You send an email to your permission list. It points to a spreadsheet online. People can fill it out without logging in. You get the summarized data back, and can present it as a chart, a graph or just run with the numbers themselves. The depth of analysis you can generate is far deeper than a simple poll. My guess is that 99% of the people who use it will do a simple one dimensional poll. It's more powerful than that.
Now, what else do we need?
How about a simple system that lets you run a new kind of auction for an event with limited seating? Say you want 200 people to come to a networking event, the sort of thing that's no fun if only a dozen or two show up... Instead of charging $50 a ticket, why not charge $1 for the first five tickets, $2 for the next five, and on to $500 for the last ten? You'll earn just as much (if not more) but reward the brave who sign up early. (The folks who like to wait until the last minute 'to be sure' end up paying for the privilege). It's easy to imagine a simple interface to set up whatever graduated pricing model you'd like.
Or, how about a geography-based system for pricing? Many services are sold by a flat fee, but add a zip code and a map and it could completely change the pricing model.
Why don't airlines have tools in place to make it easy to integrate charter flights with conventions so flights run when (and where) people are going? Flights for passengers instead of passengers for flights...
There was a lot of this discussed 9 years ago. The world wasn't ready. It is now.
I guess my point is that this is just the beginning of using internet tools to change the world we interact with, as opposed to trying to make it easy to interact with the standard world using the Internet.
A hundred years ago, food wasn't much of an industry. Today, packaged, profitable, processed food has transformed every element of our culture.
The Super Bowl is a food holiday. Visit (if you must) the local supermarket on a Sunday morning before the big game. That's the primary function of the event... to eat processed foods and beverages while hanging out with a group of people. Bonding via shared junk.
Same with a typical birthday party. Kids get validation from their friends (you came) and from their parents (yay, we get to eat junk.)
It's not an accident that fried corn, sugared beverages, semi-trans fats and white flour have become essential parts of our culture. You can't get elected in Iowa without pigging out at the Fair and you can't host a party without stocking up on the chips. Somehow, food marketing became a story about respect. Few people say, "it'll be fun... I'll make a big bowl of brown rice and serve oatmeal cookies I made from scratch." Too weird. Too risky. People might not like you if you challenge the food dynamic.
There's always been a cultural desire to conform. The difference is that now there's money at stake, so marketers push us to conform in ways that turn a profit.
Marketers, brilliant, profit-oriented marketers, have had a century to teach us to associate respect and kindness and love with certain kinds of food.
And that's why this post isn't just a screed, it's a lesson for marketers everywhere.
...Just as the jewelry and floral people have taught us that flowers and diamonds = love and that a respectable gentleman spends two months salary (!) on an engagement ring. Not an accident, of course. It's too risky, marketers teach us, to send a handmade card or skip the jewelry and buy a research grant or pay for part of a school.
...Just as the car you drive somehow says something about who you are.
...Just as the college-industrial complex has taught us that the best colleges are the ones that are the most expensive (making them the hardest to get into, furthering the cycle),
...you have the opportunity to start down this road with what you make.
So I'm hoping that what you make is worthy. Marketing is a powerful tool especially when it associates a product with a desire and instinct we already have.
Marketing, when it works, transcends any discussion of the benefits of the product or the service.
Marketing, instead, is about the equal sign.
Many of us want fun and respect and love and success and kindness and hope. What brilliant marketers do is add the =.
Someone asked me the other day if posting a blog post every day is intimidating or a grind.
I view it as something I get to do. I spend most of my blogging time deciding what not to post.
The best work, at least for me, is the stuff you get to do. If you are really good at that, you're lucky enough to have very little of the have to stuff left.
Before rejecting any model, you must learn it.
New organizations and new projects are so crisp.
Things happen with alacrity. Decisions get made. Stuff gets done.
Then, over time, things get soggy. They slow down. Decisions aren't so black and white any more.
Here are some things that happen:
1. Every initiative, post launch, still has a tail of activity associated with it. Launch enough things and over time, that tail gets bigger and bigger.
2. Most projects either succeed or fail. Successful projects raise the stakes, because the team doesn't want to blow it. There are more people watching, more dollars at stake, things matter more. So things inevitably get more review, more analysis and slow down. Projects that fail sap the confidence of the group. They want to be extra sure that they're right this time, so, ironically, they slow down and end up sabotaging the new work.
3. The paper isn't blank any more. Which means that new decisions often mean overturning old decisions, which means you need to acknowledge that it didn't used to be as good as it was.
4. And the biggest thing is that there is a status quo. Something to compare everything to.
I'm not sure you can eliminate any of these issues. But, you can realize that they're there. And you can be really strict about priorities and deadlines... it's so easy to let things slip, rather than confronting the fact that you're stuck and probably afraid. Speak up, call it out... and ship!
How do you decide what to make next?
Over the last few decades, I've probably launched 500 products and services. And I don't think I've ever seen anyone talk about how organizations go about deciding what to make and what to shelve. How do you decide where to invest your scarce people and promotional resources?
If there’s anything that can have a significant impact on you and your team, it’s this decision. If marketing is the product, then choosing which product to market is your most important moment. Here are some of the reasons I’ve used (and have seen others use) to make this decision:
There are legendary stories about how Lorne Michaels made decisions about this on Saturday Night Live, about how Microsoft and AOL picked their future by doing (and not doing) certain launches and of course, how our political parties do it. It's almost always done poorly and it's almost always important. Feel free to add your own on my lens.
John has a good post about soft skills and selling in rural India. Scroll down on the site, it's below this picture.
The Fellows blog is a great example of how blogging changes things. Not just for the outreach, but because it changes how the writer expresses himself, it creates a record and a diary and a useful version of ground truth, all at the same time.
What if everyone had a blog? And used it to tell their truth?
A few (marketing) things to think about on Galactic Interstellar Tuesday: