Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Activating Advocates

This is a topic that has been seeming more and more important to me, on a personal level. Everyone knows bad news travels far and fast while “good job” remarks are never heard ’round the world. The same goes with reputation and your (or your company’s) brand.

Relying on word-of-mouth, with this fact in mind, seems to be a risky proposition with limited ROI. Some people and companies seem to be able to pull it off wonderfully, though.

Part of what got me thinking about this was noticing how I sometimes become an advocate for companies or products I like. The best examples are for some of my favorite restaurants:

Four Peaks Brewery: I regularly tell people their Arizona Chicken Rolls are the best on the planet.
Chino Bandido: While hearing “Mexican/Asian Fusion” makes some people uneasy, their food is ridiculously flavorful — especially the carnitas and Jad Red chicken.
Firehouse Subs: It’s all in how they make it. When I start going on and on about toasted bread and steamed meat, people assume I’m a Firehouse Subs salesman. Try the Club on a Sub!

In these cases, the companies did nothing to provoke my advocacy for their products. All they did was have a spectacular product and be virtually unknown (in Four Peaks’ case, they’re not unknown, but that appetizer is). If everyone knew how great their food was, I wouldn’t be such a strong supporter. My reward for evangelizing their food is building a relationship with whomever I can convince to go. They try the food, like it, and recognize me as the person who told them about it.

Extracting the principles from that (extracting principles and over-analyzing things seems to be a hobby) and I see a huge problem for me trying to get my name out. Somehow, people got the impression I’m more well-known than I am. Perhaps it was James Archer’s “THE Brian Shaler” meme, or maybe people wrongly assumed that having a lot of Twitter followers means something.

I have actually heard people STOP themselves from spreading the word about something because I tweeted it. They somehow thought that when I spoke, *everyone* listened, and there was no need to say anything after that.

So, I appear to have two shortcomings: not enough reach, and overestimated reach. Together, they can be an impediment of my ambitions to reach many people with my work.

The title of this post probably implied I would talk about how to activate advocates. Instead, it’s merely a topic I have been pondering and a problem I have yet to find solutions to.

Ford Fiesta Movement

Ford is doing a little campaign involving their 2011 Fiesta. They’re giving away 100 cars to 100 bloggers / social medians for six months. During that time, the “agents” are supposed to create content around the car with monthly “missions.”

I decided to participate, and this is my video application:

My submission went through right at the buzzer, so I’m far behind many of the other applicants with video views. I figured posting it around a little bit would help me catch up!

Don’t Self-Promote. Intrigue.

I talk and think about marketing a lot. I think about marketing on a business level and on a personal level. My own success has likely been a result of effectively marketing myself.

When you are marketing someone or something, you are trying to convey a message to as many people as possible. There are many ways of getting that message across. My method of choice is intrigue.

Instead of pushing my message onto other people, I try to get people to come to me. Instead of talking about myself, I say less and let others around me fill in the gaps. This is risky, because you can’t control what others say about you. However, when someone hears something about you from someone else, they’re much more receptive than they would be if it was you saying it.

If you can get people to come to you instead of pushing a message to them, you can potentially convey much more information. Essentially, you can lead someone down a “rabbit hole” and let them discover things about you, piece by piece.

I have a very scattered presence online, but I’m very easy to find. I don’t count on people finding every single page or site I’ve created. Over time, I’ve created so much content online that someone can spend hours online and still have more to discover.

A few people have told me I have the “world’s best business card” (My name ranks well on Google for that, too!). I can’t say I completely agree about the “world’s best” part, but there is something to it. While some people write it off as pretentious, the card has an overwhelmingly positive response. It intrigues people. When sorting through 100+ business cards after a conference, seeing that one will often lead people to search online. Once I have lured them to the rabbit hole, I must do my best to captivate them with as many interesting things as possible. For the purpose it was intended, my business card very well may be the best. Other people have other needs for business cards, so it isn’t the “world’s best” for everyone.

Don’t talk about yourself. Don’t self-promote. Try to leave an impression on those around you. Get people talking about you, especially those you know you well. Intrigue those you meet and let them discover you on their own.

Even If You Don’t Expect It

When you think about viral marketing, you think about intentionally making something people might want to tell their friends about. It’s not easy to inspire this behavior in others and it usually takes a truly stunning product or message to get any word of mouth traction.

So if you any spend time trying to think of thing you could make that people would want to share, you would likely to be as surprised as me at something accidentally going viral. It just goes to show the importance of the sharability of content.

I was reading some local blogs and I saw a post about satellite photo of interesting shapes and objects on the ground. (If you’re spending time reading RSS feeds, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not commenting. I’ll go into more detail on that in a later post.) It reminded me of a collection of aerial photos I had found. Yes, aerial, “in the air,” is not the same as satellite, “in space,” but it’s cool bird’s eye photography nonetheless. To find the aerial photos, I looked where I had last found them: on Digg. When I finally found them, I “dugg” the digg page linking to the photos and then commented on the blog with a link to the photos.

I didn’t think anything of the vote on Digg. The goal was not to “promote” the multi-year-old Digg submission or even the photos. I didn’t tell anyone about it and it seems like the blog comment didn’t actually go through! But nonetheless, I got to see the ripple of people sharing the link I had retrieved and dugg. All it took was one person watching FriendFeed — I don’t actively use it, but my Digg votes show up there — and sharing it with his friends.

Just reinforces the idea that sharable content is in nature viral. The more sharable it is, the less emphasis you have to put on the “marketing” in “viral marketing.”

The President Could Use A Marketing Advisor

I generally do not like talking about politics. This article only includes observations on the President’s poor brand image on the internet.

Businesses use marketing and branding strategies to increase sales. If you think about how sales are increased through successful marketing and branding, you will see that the same strategies can be used in other situations.

Good branding will establish trust. Good marketing will get people listening to your message. No company or person should leave their brand image up to others, especially not the opposition. You do not want your detractors’ messages about you to be heard by more people than your own.

Look at how the President is represented on the internet. Nobody in the administration has any control of the President’s personal brand. It seems to be in the hands of the mass media, conspiracy theorists, and fanatics that swarm around social news sites. Not good.

How does the President’s message get to the people? The Press Secretary reads it in a press conference, where representatives of the media then listens, applies necessary spin, and publishes. The mass media does not work for the government and can say whatever they want. Therefore, they should not be put in responsibility of the President’s message. With this current system, the President’s message is given to the People much like a suppository — obviously not a good marketing strategy.

As a politician, it is important for the President to maintain trust with the People of America. Yet on the internet, all we hear about is what they [may] have done wrong. If people only hear negative things about a someone or something, whether or not the statements are true, they will not be likely to trust the given entity.

I do not trust or support President Bush. How can I? I have heard too much bad and not enough good. It is possible that my assumptions (built on what I have read/heard) are incorrect, but who is telling me otherwise?