Ok, it this video does include me along with some awesome takes from other thought leaders. Note to self: I misunderstood the question and thought we were only talking about video. I still made the cut so there you go.
PS my hair looks terrible.
Background: Shoedazzle is a smoking hot internet site. Basically, you pay a monthly fee and you get to pick between a variety of shoes and now accessories allegedly curated by Kim Kardashian and other stars. In August they hit 13 million members. I told my wife about it and she asked to check it out.
Now maybe it’s because I don’t sign up for women’s apparel sites but the site and registration user experience was thought-provoking for me. That’s right, thought provoking. Before I go any further, think about this:
B2B people always say: “b2b is different that b2c”
B2C is always five years ahead of B2B aka five years later b2b adopts progressive b2c ideas
The same people that buy on Shoedazzle are business buyers. (I know this from the Facebook “like” box on the shoedazzle site which had some of my b2b colleagues on it.)
AND LETS FACE IT:
Great UX is great UX
B2b marketers should try to stay on top of b2c marketing and advertising techniques and get ahead not behind.
Let me walk you through my user experience than provide some commentary.
Step 1: Homepage
Question #1 for any marketer is “what do I want the user to do?” In this case, they want users to go through a multi-step registration process known as the style profile. That is what dominates your eye site. Make no mistake, this is a registration profile that will determine what shoedazzle wants to sell you. Shoedazzle presents the profile as a way for the site to deliver customized offerings and advertises the fact that it will be painless: ”Membership is free and effortless” (love that) . Now, think about how present ourselves in b2b: “We need you to fill out this form because you want this piece of content. I need all of this data for my database to make it easier when my inside rep calls you.”
Step 2: The personal style profile
The personal style profile “quiz” is not an ugly series of drop downs, but instead a set of multiple choice graphics which you click to represent your likes/dislikes. It’s more fun, visually appealling, and made my wife really believe they could figure out what to send to her. PS I still have not given up any information to shoedazzle yet.
Step 3: Initial Registration
Check out the easy registration. In b2c, it’s all about getting your email address. Guess what? In b2b: It’s all about getting your email address. So why make it hard to get? If it’s the top of the funnel and the beginning of the relationship, then can’t we move from free to email address and THEN to more data?
BOOM. I’m in and now have access to shoe choices. When we order one, we are then prompted to add more data to our account.
Why did I just show this to you?
1. That was fun — Why the hell do b2b websites think they have to be so boring? We roll around talking about how b2b marketers have to compete for buyers time, isn’t fun and excitement a pretty good emotional trigger to hit?
2. Rethink reg pages and profiling — If you ask me if I advocate moving to Shoedazzle’s model of the graphical profile, I am not sure yet. Truthfully, I went to the site tonight randomly, and I just started re-evaluating. In other words, I am not sure yet…but I do believe in thinking outside the box. I enjoyed helping my wife click the boxes…it was fun which is very unlike b2b where you make me look at any ugly box, type in a bunch of seemingly meaningless data which I make up sometimes, and sometimes make me scroll through a list of 12 roles to choose for myself or sift through and choose from an industry list that I am pretty sure doesn’t have my industry on there.
3. Shoedazzle costs as much if not more than a license of ZenDesk or a GoogleApps license– Have you heard of the consumerization of IT? Then why can’t we talk about the consumerization of IT marketing?
4. Build your list, even if you sacrifice some data initially — go to any progressive b2c website and many hit you with a pop-up box asking just for your email. They want that email and they don’t pussyfoot around. Eventually, we want more data, but right now, can’t we make some sacrifices to start the relationship. I am sure some inbound marketing clone will tell me: “Create great content and they will come back”. Really? Is that why the core features for marketing automation systems is email marketing functionality? According to a preso by email expert, DJ Waldow, popping up a request for email grows list exponentially. Funny or Die moved to a pop-up box and gets thousands of new emails daily. Companies have seen 75-80% growth in email subscriber optin lists as a result of the pop-up box. Check this preso out for more.
5. More on the home page: Remember when you first signed up for Twitter? — Let me help you. Twitter wants you to sign up for their service. There is not much else to do on their home page but register. By the way, three fields total on the reg form.
6. This is for fun, but is there something here? — As I mentioned previously, I don’t know where I am going to take this, but I learned a lot from this experience, and I look to b2c for inspiration not to “poo-poo” it as irrelevant.
PS I am not crazy
PPS Yes it is Friday night
5. Keep your message brief
I am doing a webinar for Brighttalk on tactics for driving webinar attendance on Thursday at 8AM PDT. Also on Thursday: I have a webinar at 11am with Steve Gershik, Eric Wittlake, and Brian Vellmure on inbound marketing, I also wrote a piece on inbound marketing leading up to the event that I liked alot
Okay, back to the ridiculous title. How many times over the last three years have you heard: “Marketers need to act more like publishers”. Many people interpret this mantra to mean creating third-party, objective content and a lot of it. There is another important factor: Publishers create what I call “content reliability” — they constantly deliver content on a consistent basis. Example: A newspaper will feature a columnist X on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week or a simple example, you will get a newspaper on your doorstep that will have a front page, sports page, etc. Remember that.
Now when you think of your event content, you should think of how television networks create their content:
1. Their are reliably on-time – Deliver the show rain or shine on the same day, same time each week
2. Build the show brand — There is typically a network with a big brand who actually wants for their individual content pieces (their shows) to have their own brands. People know what they are going to get from their favorite shows.
3. Build your performers into stars that people want to root for each week
I mention Modern Family because Scott Albro likes to always talk about creating persistent events while drawing parallels to Modern Family. He says: “My wife knows Modern Family is on every Wednesday at 9pm”
Have you ever thought about delivering your content like a network? Create an event brand that you deliver consistently throughout the year. Build star-power that people can’t wait to listen to each week. Here is a great example: SAP runs a weekly event called “Coffee Break with Game-Changers“. It’s on every week with it’s on content brand and they have the same dynamic, exciting host Bonnie Graham. While I am pretty sure SAP has a humongous email database, it is NOT used to promote this show. The point: audience started small and has continued to grow organically over time by building a following just like a radio/tv show. Many times with online events, each event is it’s own large-scale campaign instead of thinking of events as a content product you deliver over the course of time.
I talk about this use-case and more during my webinar on Thursday. Join me!
Fact: Today’s buyer has access to more information than ever before.
Fact: Today’s buyer is more distracted and harder to reach than ever before.
Fiction: This makes marketers’ lives easier.
Fact: The Internet has essentially created a free market on content, which means anyone can get audiences for their stuff.
Fact: You need compelling content that captures the buyer’s attention in this attention-scarce environment – what we call REMARKABLE CONTENT.
Fact: The content battle has begun – bring your swords.
Over the last week, a perfect example of the kind of content that works today on the Internet went viral: The Notorious CEO: Ten startup commandments from biggie smalls. Basically, the author took famous rapper The Notorious BIG’s, aka Biggie Smalls’, song “Ten Crack Commandments” and tied it to a B2B post for a business intelligence blog.
This is beautiful, not because I’m a Biggie Smalls fan (I am), but because this post is going to get read by and forwarded to a countless number of people. This is EXACTLY what we’re trying to do on the Internet: create arresting, remarkable content and watch as it takes off. A post like this has legs and will pick up TONS of link-backs – more so than your recent blog post about the three ways people will benefit from buying your latest product. Remarkable content is the name of the game. That comes in many forms, but thinking “inside the box” will doom your efforts. You need to take some risks, get creative and move outside the old-school chatter. Something that’s described as a “scalable, robust platform custom built for…” is not going to get people excited.
I wrote an article on my view of the SEO world titled “You Can’t Fade the 20 Wisemen.” The premise behind my article is the contention that there is a small cabal of real SEOs that actually “do” SEO, and there are a bunch of others who are just out there thinking they are doing it, but really aren’t. My key theme is that whatever the common SEO or marketing person is doing for SEO is probably old news. The real SEOs, or “wisemen,” have moved on. They don’t even call it SEO anymore — it’s the Competitive Internet to you. Thank you. Now they are kicking the rest of our asses in the social media world as well.
So, I wanted to write about this, but I needed the right analogy. Here were the three ideas I tossed out:
- Sopranos/Mafia Analogy — overdone. While the secret society and the untimely deaths make a lot of sense for me, I just feel like that’s not unique enough of a topic for my post to be interesting.
- The Matrix — I loved thinking about representing the marketing/seo everyman going about what they are doing not realizing they are in this netherworld, but I am not smart enough to make some of the other moving pieces of that movie work for me. Also, the internet is full of Matrix fans who would undoubtedly assail me for some bad quote, etc.
- Reincarnate the Wisemen — I did really love that analogy. The Wisemen refers to the 4 guys in the restaurant in the movie “Training Day.” While everyone else in LA ran around doing their day-to-day business, everything went through the Four Wisemen and you didn’t know it. But I can’t pull it off again because 1) I would be doing it again and 2) they play a brief role in the movie and I couldn’t really get any more in depth.
Where did I end up? Poker… Yes, it’s a fad and a cliché, but that’s what makes it perfect. Since the World Series of Poker on ESPN (and numerous amateur million-dollar victories) and the advance of online gaming, people have been jumping on the bandwagon in droves and calling themselves poker players, or even “professional” poker players for that matter.
What made poker the perfect analogy was the fact that while ALL these people are out there playing poker, there are really very few pros. These guys think the World Series is kiddy games where they watch you, wait for you and then take your money on the cash tables at the Mirage. This is the perfect setting — a bunch of people who think they know what they are doing and a small handful that really do. In the world of Competitive Internet, there is a limited group of true pros and if you’re not in these guys’ loop, you are out. This is fact.
So, I decided to bite an old article written by one of my favorite online writers Bill Simmons, who wrote a great Rounders and Roundball article in his Page 2 section of ESPN.com and use the movie “Rounders” as an analogy to the real world of the Competitive Internet.
“All the luck in the world isn’t gonna change things for these guys. They’re simply overmatched. We’re not playing together, but we’re not playing against each other, either. It’s like the Nature Channel. You don’t see piranhas eating each other, do you?”
This quote is the essence of the article: a completely appropriate representation of the Competitive Internet today. Mike McDermott, our main character, is at the Mirage with his poker crew. They are all poker sharks waiting for their prey. The sharks represent the Competitive Internet wisemen or masters, while the other guys coming to sit at the table are the online marketing managers trying to “do SEO” with the help of a “For Dummies” book or data gleaned from Marketing Sherpa (still my favorite site, don’t worry, but you know what I am talking about). The Competitive Internet guys know each other, they try to kick each other’s ass, but they will collaborate and will often times make side deals with each other to go take down some revenue or complete a project.
“Why does this still seem like gambling to you? I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY SINGLE YEAR? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It’s a skill game, Jo.”
Look the Competitive Internet is skill, but these guys test a lot before they find out what works, so this quote really works for me. Mike McDermott’s girlfriend is calling poker “lucky.” Above is McDermott’s indignant response. Like McDermott, the Competitive Internet guys believe they are all skill and they are right the majority of the time … but there is a big luck factor too as most of their discoveries of inefficiencies or Internet tells are the product of throwing things against the wall and hoping things stick.
“ ‘Y’have it?’ he asks me. ‘Sorry John, I don’t remember.’ I got up and walked straight to the cashier’.”
Amazing scene and totally contrived. Nonetheless, in this scene, McDermott sits down with Johnny Chan, one of the world masters in Poker and bluffs his way to winning a pot. When Chan asks him if he’s got it, McDermott tosses the cards and replies with the quote above. If you know a true Competitive Internet master, then you know how this goes. They will talk exploits, money, sex, gambling, girls, but then you talk about HOW they got 300 links in two hours or a key business search term onto the first page of Google organic, and you get radio-silence. They “don’t remember” (read: will never tell you and probably won’t tell their mothers).
“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker”
Guess what, my boy Brian Provost (read him at Scoreboard Media) can sniff a rat by an email you send, the questions you ask or your moves on the Internet whether in PPC, SEO, anything. He knows if you are worthy or not very quickly.
“No, 15 grand in five days, I can do that. I’ve gone on runs like that before.”
This quote is about runs, and certainly CI boys go on runs. When they find a hole, they beat the hell out of it until the opportunity dries up and they move on. Their mortgage lead runs of a couple years ago were epic money-making efforts. (Pop quiz: who made the most off sub-prime and never had to talk the regulators?)
“You know what cheers me up when I’m feeling [expletive]? Rolled up aces over kings. Check-raising stupid tourists and taking huge pots off of them. Playing all-night high-limit hold’em at the Taj, where the sand turns to gold. Stacks and towers of checks I can’t even see over.”
“[Expletive] it, let’s go.”
“Don’t tease me.”
“Let’s play some [expletive] cards”
“You keep grinding out that rent money, Joe. It’s noble work you’re doing.”
Competitive Internet guys, the real ones, the wisemen, they are not suited for 9-5 work, driving the aerostar, and paying the mortgage. They are swashbucklers, gamblers, night-owls (like Magic-the Gathering type guys). If you are trying to figure out if you know a CI ninja, see if he is on IM at 3am with four screens going — 1) Making money in credit card PPC; 2) moving a legitimate site up in organic rankings; 3) working on the latest viral campaign to hit the social networks; and 4) Pickem: Partypoker, espn, porn …They don’t grind, they go for big wins.
Had to put this in, I get pumped on this quote in the movie.
“The judges’ game. I’d heard about it for years on the street, before I was even in law school. A rotating group of ten or twelve judges, prosecutors, and professors. They all have money, and in my playing days it would have been pretty sweet to have any one of them owing me favors. Only problem is, no one can get in the game anymore. One rounder, Crispy Linetta, sat under some pretense, but when they found out he was a pro, he couldn’t cross the street without a legal hassle. Even his regular club, Vorshay’s, got shut down. Place’d been open since 1907.”
The Competitive Internet guys are constantly trolling for new places to fish — e.g., they are looking for inefficiencies all over the Internet. They aren’t hackers, and the ones I respect are not illegal, but they know a sucker when they see one.
“In Confessions of a Winning Poker Player, Jack King said, ‘Few players recall big pots they have won — strange as it seems — but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.’ Seems true to me, ’cause walking in here I can hardly remember how I built my bankroll, but I can’t stop thinking how I lost it.”
That damn Google Algorithm. The best guys get slammed by Google. It’s a way of life. When they make changes to algorithm, it’s like you played the hand perfectly and someone beats you on the river. When Google makes changes, Competitive Internet guys face “bad-beats.”
There isn’t a company in business today not announcing layoffs, but over the last couple days, we saw some layoffs that really hit home in the b2b media business. One thing to understand is that despite being in the online media business myself, I don’t relish “competitors” getting hit. In fact, I want the opposite: We can all win with a big, competitive b2b media space.
Net-net: CBS Interactive laid off a bunch at CNET which includes a big number in the BNET/b2b business. There are plenty of articles on it, here’s one.
As well, TechTarget cut about 76 jobs or 12 percent of their workforce. Read here.
Here’s to hoping there isn’t too much more (but I don’t believe that is true)
One of the young guys I work with asked me the other day how I come up with blog posts. The truth is, they typically come to me throughout the day regardless of whether I am working with clients or at home watching television. An idea will pop in my head, and I realize I can blog about that. Conversely, when these epiphanies don’t pop in my head, I am completely screwed.
Here is what you need to know, I am wholly focused on helping marketers improve what they do in general and put the strategies and processes in place to make it through the economic storm that is in full swing. The other thing you need to know, is that I want to be irreverent and fun in the process. So, I was sitting there watching “Good Fellas” this weekend (for the 20th time), and a couple lines stuck out to me as bloggable. I decided that I should take a whack at some Martin Scorcese lines in my next blog post. Now, here we are.
1. “Every man … every man has to go through hell to reach paradise.” — Max Cady (“Cape Fear”)
I had to start with this one. Who knew that Scorcese’s psychopathic killer in the horror movie “Cape Fear” would make the list. The quote just resonated with the times that we face today.
I wonder if there is a silver lining to the world’s current chaos. Nothing forces people to improve than adversity. In good times, efficiencies are just good ideas. In bad times, they become necessities. For one, this applies to anyone in marketing. All the things on your list must get done: Marketing automation, ROI tracking, quality control, effectiveness, and payback in all your marketing activities. Now more than ever, marketing departments need to eliminate waste and become efficient, optimized machines. Doug Pepper from Interwest told me two years ago: “We believe marketing is the last place in the organization where there is opportunity to optimize their processes,” He’s right, and now the pain is more acute than ever.
Your marketing should reflect this ideology as well. No matter what you are selling, you and your organization are trying to help companies and people make it out of the downturn. Don’t talk. Make your processes better to win when every one else is losing. Those fun little features aren’t interesting anymore. We need companies to understand in times of extreme pain, it’s time to change, and my solution is the way you get there.
2. “I got some bad ideas in my head.” — Travis Bickle (“Taxi Driver”)
Direct mail with little return, “sexy” campaigns built with your ad agency that look good but bring no return, physical trade shows, tchotchkes… These are bad ideas. These are antiquated marketing vehicles that marketers did so that they could show their boss something tangible, but now the boss wants tangible results. Cut the “cute.”
By the way, this does not mean you shouldn’t try no ideas, but just keep in mind, that these should be focused on results not the overall sizzle factor.
3. “In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.” — Ace Rothstein (“Casino”)
Great quote, something I wish I would remember at 2 in the morning in Vegas when I am even or up. This quote conjures up one thing: lead nurturing. I am a broken record on this one, but I can’t get over the idea that 80 percent of leads deemed unqualified end up buying anyway. In 2009, we have to stay in our prospect’s faces. Budgets will open up and when they do, you need to be there. And you need to make sure you are fighting for the few budgets that are left. The case for lead nurturing is strong. Take it from Ace: you’re job is to keep them in the casino.
4. “You put my money to sleep, I’ll put you to sleep.” – Nicky Santoro (“Casino”)
Marketing in 2009 is going to about real cost-savings and real return on investment. No one will buy anything next year because they want it, it will be because they need it. The way you achieve that is developing real stories with real numbers about how your solution will either save them money or make them money. And here is the challenge: they don’t believe you anymore. Terms like ROI, cost-effective, and so on that have been part of your marketing and value prop for years are old news. The trick is to market real stories of real cost savings with real people. Studies show that more and more buyers turn to their peers when deciding on a solution. What this means is get real customer stories with numbers they can understand and show them how spending money with you makes them money in the long run. Simply put: you lose if you don’t.
5. “ … the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week no matter what. Business bad? F**k you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F**k you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? F**k you, pay me.” – Henry Hill (“Good Fellas”)
Sorry for the profanity, but here is the message to marketers: this is how sales guys look at the world. The way sales is measured is so much easier to quantify than almost anywhere else in the organization, “F**k you, pay me.” Welcome to their world people. ROI is the name of the game here. If you have read my stuff before, you know that I believe that marketing ROI should be judged by opportunities and pipeline created. That being said, you have to actually achieve these goals. Do not spend money on anything that does not pay out … and remember, no excuse will work, management wants to get paid.
6. “Lennon said, ‘I’m an artist. You give me a f**king tuba, I’ll get you something out of it.’ The point I’m making with John Lennon is – a man could look at anything, and make something out of it. For instance, I look at you and I think ‘what could I use you for?’ ” – Frank Costello (“The Departed”)
I will follow this up with Donald Rumsfield: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want.” As an ex-consultant and third-party “listener” to what’s going in marketing, all I hear are complaints about the constraints on their job: “product sucks, sales sucks, I have a small budget, I need resources to get it done.” None of this will help you in 2009. You have what you have and you need make the most out of it. You are marketers, you should be able to take the product and “make something out of it.” Your job is to to sell ice to Eskimos. That’s right, we used to say that only about sales, but that falls on the marketer too.
So there you have it, Martin Scorcese’s marketing tips. And I had fun writing it …