Remember the scientific method from elementary school?


The other day I was thinking back to elementary school days. I can vividly remember being quizzed on the different steps of the scientific method. You ask a question, create a hypothesis, run an experiment, analyze results, rinse and repeat.

It’s funny how much this plays into my professional career twenty five years later. At work, we’ve done an incredible job building up social, email, and search as inbound marketing channels. We’re constantly asking questions and testing a hypothesis. Trying to figure out how we can squeeze out more juice.

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Every platform is providing a better and better analytics. And most of the platforms analytics are real time. You can try something and immediately get feedback from your audience about whether it worked or not, iterate, and repeat your test.

But more than marketing… that scientific method that we learned in elementary school really has become a lifestyle. You ask questions, try new things in life, see how it goes, analyze, iterate, rinse and repeat. I do it with every aspect of my life. It helps me as I work to optimize everything from an email marketing strategy to how to best teach my kid the things he needs to know.

It’s funny how much those early things play such a big important role in your life down the road.

Being a Modern Marketer Requires Basic HTML & JavaScript Skills

So my day job is marketing operations for AddThis. Today, I had to make some changes to our Contact Us form. It required that I change the backend routing which is done with JavaScript. I opened my Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and edited with the switch statement to include a new option that we were adding.

Yep, I’m a marketer and I know how to code. I have an IDE. I was able to write some basic JavaScript. And… it all worked.

I firmly believe that modern marketers have some basic HTML & JavaScript skills. You’ll find yourself needing to edit the code of an HTML email because something isn’t displaying correctly.  Are you going to run to a developer every time? No. That creates a HUGE bottle neck. Just do it yourself.

AddThis Website Tools is used by a lot of marketers. It requires that you copy & paste a couple lines of JavaScript and paste it into the code of your site. If we ask you to spot the <body> tag, that shouldn’t freak you out. Knowing how to do this yourself will gain you a tremendous amount of respect from your engineering team.

The modern marketer needs to be able to find their way around HTML, CSS, and some basic JavaScript. Marketing is increasingly technical and has to work with technical people. Having some basic technical skills is a MUST.

The Future of Funding & Marketing Documentary Films

So… tonight I went to go see Slumdog Millionaire with a friend of mine who’s a documentary film student and a bunch of her friends, some of whom are also film students. (I’ll write more about the movie in another post.) Afterwards, we all went to a restaurant and chatted.

We got into a discussion of their thesis film projects and how they weren’t sure how they were going to raise the money they needed to fund the projects.

This got me thinking. The notion that a documentary filmmaker would go to some rich dude and beg him to write a big check seems so antiquated.

We need a Kiva-like organization for indy/documentary filmmakers.

Where are the filmmakers who are coalescing a community of people around their ideas? Seems like those are the people that could have their community members each pitch in $5… $20… even $100. I wonder how many individual donations you’d need to match that of one big donor.

If at the fundraising part of the process, you’re already starting to build up a grassroots organization around the film, when it comes time to screen the film are you more likely to sell dvds or tickets to the screening and thus move yourself closer to profitability.

Lots of documentary films seem to be advocating a certain message or stance on an issue. They’d lend themselves naturally to a community coming together.

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Love Your Customers or It’ll Bite You

You really need to love your customers… all your customers, otherwise it can turn around and bite you in the butt.

Gary Vaynerchuk demonstrates this perfectly in his latest video about his experiences at a hotel in South Beach Miami and how he and his friends were treated poorly. The experience got tweeted by multiple people and it influenced someone enough that they decided not to stay at that hotel for an upcoming trip.  The hotel lost some $$.

(It’s funny because I was there hanging out with them at this hotel bar and must have left about 10 minutes before this happened.)

If you’re in the service industry, which is pretty much everyone because we all serve someone, you need to watch this video.

You are not in control of how people perceive you. Your community… your users are in control and there for as the guy in the video said, “you have to make every touch matter.”

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Sharing is at the Center of Discovery

I was sitting oustide at a coffee shop this morning talking with some friends.  We were talking about restaurants in the city that we really liked.   The conversation reinforced the principle that I had seen over and over again on the Web that sharing is at the center of discovery.

We find out whats new… we identify what we need to pay attention to… we process the world through the eyes of those that we interact with and what they tell us about.

If you’re a business, event, content publisher, or just someone with a message and want to get people to discover you, get people to share you.  Get people excited enough where they want to tell their friends about you.  Also… make it easy for your users to share.

What’s the last thing that got you excited enough that you wanted to talk about it?

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“TechCrunch is not a marketing plan”

My buddy Sunir from FreshBooks just wrote an awesome blog post entitled, “TechCrunch is not a marketing plan.” I agree with him 100%. Definitely worth a read:

I met a woman at Gnomedex this year who was recently hired to be the head of marketing for a service with 5 million customers. She was charged with expanding that to 6 million. I asked her what her strategy was, and she was adamant that all she needed was a single post on TechCrunch. She was willing to spend a million dollars to razzle and dazzle TechCrunch. I asked her why not spend that money with your existing customers, and she looked at me like I was stupid.

TechCrunch is not a marketing plan. You need to be out in the world, going after your own customers, treating them well, earning their admiration and recommendations, and continuing to build your business for the future.

Don’t get me wrong. I read TechCrunch everyday. I think it’s a great publication but you can’t depend on any one medium for reaching people. You could substitute Twitter into the title. Twitter is not a marketing plan.

Getting the Movie Out There

So today I went with a bunch of friends to a screening of the movie Crossing (trailer above).  It told the story of a family that lived in North Korea, the hardships, and how people try however they can to flea.  It was an excellent movie.

As I was walking out, I thought to myself that I should buy it.  When I get out to the table where they were, it was already sold out.  This was definitely a bummer.  It’s something I’d definitely want to show to friends and family.

The movie was small enough that it’s not the kind of movie that you can buy on Amazon or reserve on Netflix but it was good and you really need to see it.

When you set the bar at having to pay or having to have a physical copy of something before they can enjoy the content, I think you risk not getting your content out there at all.  There are so many great movies out there that didn’t have the massive distribution deals and ended up fading into obscurity.

You could do things like sell the physical DVD but allow people to watch it online for free.  The people that watch it online and like it are the folks that are going to buy the DVD and tell then show it to their friends.  Make sure you  allow people to make donations to your cause, if they like what you’re doing.

Visit Your Users Where They’re At. Don’t Force Them to Go to Trade Shows.

Was reading up on the latest thoughts from the great Scobleizer.  In a recent post, he wrote:

Walking around Broadcom’s booth at CES also taught me a lesson. That the CES show is going back to its roots: interactions between tech companies and the buyers. That’s something that can only efficiently happen in a tradeshow: getting all those people to visit your company’s headquarters just won’t happen.

So, tradeshows won’t disappear.

If your a company and you want to build community with and have relationships with your users, a trade show is the LAST place you should look.

I just spent the last week at MacWorld and saw a lot of cool stuff but I can tell you that no one working booths was trying to have a relationship with me.  They didn’t want to have a conversation.  They were too busy dealing with all their booth visitors.  They wanted to get their talking points out, get their demo done, maybe sell a product, and move on to the next person.  It was all 90 second interactions.  It wasn’t anything real.

At MacWorld, I doubt very many of the people that were working the booths actually worked for the companies that they represented.   There were a few exhibitors that had OBVIOUSLY hired booth babes.

Instead of spending LOTS and LOTS of money on a booth, go visit your users where they’re at.   It’s the reason that Apple decided to pull out of MacWorld.  They have their retail stores.  There the company can get to know people individually.

I’ve been really impressed by Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and founder of Automattic.  He travels around the world to WordCamp, the WordPress user conferences.

Every time gang at FreshBooks goes to a new city.  They hold a customer dinner and take their customers out to dinner.

This is how you build relationships… friendships… winning life long customers.

Random Thoughts After Day One on the MacWorld Expo Hall

Yesterday, after I arrived in San Francisco and checked into my hotel, I headed over to Moscone South Expo hall for MacWorld Expo.  I’d never been to a MacWorld before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

My first thought was… WOW.  The booths were massive and the hall was even bigger.

As you walk around, you see a little bit of everything, from iPod/iPhone case manufacturers to ToDo list software developers to Brain Toniq to the biggies like Microsoft and Apple.

Now I can imagine that for the biggies like Microsoft buying a booth is kind of like paying your annual dues for being a part of the cult of Mac.   But, if you’re one of the small guys and all you have the money for is a few big marketing pushes a year,  what makes you want to buy a 10 by 10 booth?

You definitely saw every trick in the book being employed to get people to stop at a booth.  One group had the car from Back to the Future at their booth, which was cool but I’m not sure what it had to do with exhibitor.   There weren’t many women roaming the hall because they were all working the booths, which is kind of funny.  Some were passing out food.  Some were luring people with celebrities.

It just seems like it’d be hard to make an impression.  What could you do at a booth which is going to leave enough of an impression on people that they’re going to engage further with your brand?

I talked to a handful of vendors and all in all you walked away like someone had just given you a pre-recorded pitch.

For me, the more valuable time yesterday was the parties.  Those were more centered around people meeting people and exchanging ideas, plus they had drinks.

Seriously, You Need To Stay at a Kimpton Hotel. They Treat You Like Royalty.

I know that I’ve expressed my love for the Kimpton Hotel chain before but I want to say it again… these guys get it.  They treat you like you’re guests in their house… like you’re royalty.  It just makes you excited about staying there.

I’m a member of their loyalty program.  One of the perks is that they’ll bring you a gift to thank you for your stay on the first night you’re there.  This time they brought me a half bottle of French wine and a plate of fruit.  That’s AWESOME.

This makes me think back to the experience that Jason had at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK airport.  Treat your customers right.  Give them what they want and they’ll come back for me.  They’ll tell their friends about it.

This is something that we can all take away as we look to shape the products and services that our companies provide.  Are we meeting our customers’ needs?  Are we giving them what they want?  Are we giving them a superior experience?  Are we treating them like they are guests in our house or like family?