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.