Is Chris Brogan worth $22,000 a day? You bet… BUT.

This was too tempting a subject to pass because of the reaction to the revelation that Chris Brogan (celebrity blogger and author of book; Trust Agents”) gets a consulting fee of $22,000 a day.

My initial reaction to the news was a simple “A bi gazhunt” to Chris which is Yiddish for “be well”, but really means “My hats off to you”. Why shouldn’t a company pay him $22,000 if it will save them 10x that if they try and learn about this stuff blind.

But this revelation from Chris launched a vibrant conversation with a diverse range of opinions from indignation to envy to those who shared my personal reaction; “well done”.

The topic was quickly losing interest for me except Chris himself came out to declare this was the; “smartest post yet about my pricing post:http://bit.ly/aP4l9w (anchoring. Neat term!)”. I was curious so I went to check it out and in this post, the author believes that Chris now set the “anchor point” – a water mark for what “this stuff goes for”.

Whoa Nellie – this is when this conversation went silly for me.

I don’t buy for a second that Chris’ rate establishes anything, and certainly not an anchor point unless of course you want to be totally self serving. Chris is able to garner these fees TODAY because expertise in this area is still at a premium and there are few credible sources. In about a year, when there will be more “supply”, the rates will adjust accordingly.

And oh BTW – here’s another reality. Chris has to charge so much for a day of consulting because there’s not a lot of repeat business consulting on social marketing. This stuff is not hard and after you’ve told them the basics they are usually good to go. He has to extract as much as he can from them because it’s probably a 1x only appearance.

If you doubt this truth of this conclusion – think about it for a moment.  Would Chris have to create the “The Third Tribe” service or his New Marketing Labs or all his other self promotion stuff if he could regularly snag “two or three” gigs like that a month? I don’t know about you, but if I could reliably do $500K/ year by working 24 days – I wouldn’t be doing all the other stuff or maybe I wouldn’t be charging anything at all to most, (and I cheerfully congratulate Chris on how much of his smarts is freely available).

Chris was clever to have cultivated credibility in a space that became very important very quickly. This is a quintessential case of right place at the right time and he is milking it for every thing it is worth. I congratulate him on his skill and luck. But let’s not see his fee success as anything more than a temporarily aberrant blimp in time and it is certainly no anchor point. Hey, if tomorrow someone figures out that they can substantially grow their business learning the secrets of Hasidic philosophical spirituality – then I’ll be worth $42,000 a day! But only for a while. I know I’ll milk it as long as I can.

Judy Shapiro

The real lesson to be learned from Mister Splashy Pants

Like many of us – I use Twitter as a good filter for all the stuff that I should read about but would never, ever find on my own.

Anyway, one little bit caught my eye; “How to make a splash in social media”. It was one of those hyper fast – 4 minutes presentations presented at TED/ India, featuring Alexis Ohanian of Reddit with a clever bit about how Greenpeace used social media to halt whaling. Good cause. Great message.  http://www.ted.com/talks/alexis_ohanian_how_to_make_a_splash_in_social_media.html

His opening, “Lots of consultants make a lot of money talking about this stuff.. I’m going to try and save you all the time and money and explain it 3 minutes” was the beginning of a clever and catchy presentation on the power of social media.

I was hooked, that is until he revealed the story’s main theme. Somewhat stunned I heard him conclude that social media was largely free. I was disappointed to hear yet another digi-rati so in love with technology that he failed to be objective. I was surprised that Reddit’s CEO, Alexis, clearly a thoughtful man, fell into the trap so easily.

It seems, therefore, left to us real world practitioners to set the record straight. My message is very simple. Social media is not free – but the myth is perpetuated because capturing its costs is harder than traditional media.

So let me repeat – social media is NOT free and I will use Alexis’ case study of Mr. Splashy Pants to introduce reality to his ever sunny and youthful telling of the story.

The presentation itself condenses the uplifting real world experience of a Greenpeace program that wanted to stop whaling. They introduced a grass roots promotion to name this initiative to garner attention. One quirky name, Mr. Splashy Pants created a groundswell, among the community; including the Reddit team which helped Greenpeace achieve its noble goals. The whales win, Greenpeace wins, social media wins and Reddit too.

His quotable quotes reinforce the “social media is free” theme and included a wealth of digital “truisms” such as:

  1. “It costs nothing to get your content out there”
  2. “The content distribution platforms are free so it only takes a few minutes of your time to distribute…
  3. “All links are equal …”
  4. “And the cost of iteration is so cheap…”
  5. “We {at Reddit} got behind it ourselves,.. we changed the logo …

Now all these “ism’s” sound great until you actually think about each one critically. So let’s do just that and you’ll see why Alexis, earnest though he was, succumbed to the myth like so many before him.

“It costs nothing to get your content out there” .  Who does he think is writing all this content that;  ”costs nothing to distribute”- content fairies with some pixie dust?

“The content distribution platforms are free so it only takes a few minutes of your time to distribute…” And since when is time, even “a little time”, free? And what if you are not as tech savvy as Alexis? Would it in fact be “just a few minutes” for most people?

“All links are equal …” How can he say this with a straight face unless he means all links are, quite literally, created equal? But anyone in the real world knows that even a 1,000 links with little traffic has very little value versus one site with lots of traffic. Getting quality links is the point and that is not really free to get.

“And the cost of iteration is so cheap…” This principle has caused more money to be wasted than perhaps any other ill conceived corporate mantra. Take it from real world experience – iteration borne of a lack of preparation (e.g. research) is rarely profitable. The ideal is to get it roughly right … but that takes upfront planning time which is definitely not free.

“We {at Reddit} got behind it ourselves,.. we changed the logo …” This little point sounds innocent enough and it is. They felt it was a worthwhile cause to get behind by creating a logo and giving it support. Well done. But tell me how many companies can count on that type of support which surely helped? Would that cost nothing too?

Time is money – even in the social media world. Maybe the reason this myth is a hard one to beat is because no single social media activity takes a lot of time. But when you add all the pieces together, you have a “content campaign” which is a time investment that most definitely is not free – but it does seem invisible.

That’s why Alexis fell victim to the “social media is free” trap. Don’t you fall for it too.

Judy Shapiro

What’s cool?

      

My insightful 13 year old recently noted that being cool is not really important once you leave high school. I was surprised at the maturity of the thought and he was right. The work world values smarts and hard work and results. And for those of us who remember when there was NO internet (I can hear the gasps now), business success was what counted — not being cool. And success meant a few simple things.

 

1.       Your product/ company made sales

2.       Your product/ company made profits

3.       The product/ company is well received in the marketplace

 

But then the Internet happened. And some of the most successful businesses out there were started and nurtured by kids for whom being “cool” was still relevant. And here’s the interesting part. Many of these companies, like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, became big because they gave us new ways to become cool and maintain our cool-dom. This gives cool a new level of influence that could, by sheer association, build a profitable business.

 

Cool has emerged as the new business requirement. Or has it?   

 

I don’t think so. Mark my words. Kinda like the tulip bust in Amsterdam in the 17th century – I believe that “cool” bubble will burst, especially in the social marketing world. What will ultimately count again, and soon, are the businesses that deliver. Not whether they are just cool.

 

Paltalk is a potent example of the new type of cool. We have spent 10 years building a really great audio and video chat software product. We have created a business model that is the envy of our rivals in that we are highly profitable. In fact, I wager that we may be the only one in this sector that is profitable.

 

But experts in the social marketing field sector believe that tech companies can be “made” almost exclusively if they can get the support of the some of newer “cool” bloggers who yield massive influence. Indeed, these veterans caution me, “They won’t talk to Paltalk, it’s not the cool new thing.”

 

It challenged me and on some level infuriated me. Why would these “cool” influencers not talk to the company who practically started the social networking segment and is making money at it? How much cooler does it get than that!  

 

So I decided to launch my un-cool campaign with these high tech influencers identified by Forbes (see below). It is striking that many of the “cool arbiters” are actually in the 35+ age demo’s. That gives me hope. They will “get” that while spotting the cool new trend is “cool”, nowadays making is as cool as it gets.

 

Catch the new cool wave. Wish me luck.

 

Judy Shapiro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS – FYI … see attached list from Forbes entitled, “Web celeb 25”.   

http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/29/web-celebrities-internet-technology-webceleb09_0129_land.html

 

 

The Web Celeb 25

1Perez Hilton

2Michael Arrington

3Kevin Rose

4Frank Warren

5Cory Doctorow

6Pete Cashmore

7Beppe Grillo

8Heather Armstrong

9Guy Kawasaki

10Jason Calacanis

11Robert Scoble

12Will Leitch

13Jeff Jarvis

14Wil Wheaton

15Nate Silver

16Om Malik

17Matt Drudge

18Owen Thomas

19Dave Winer

20Seth Godin

21Brian Lam

22Mark Frauenfelder

23Steve Rubel

24John C. Dvorak

25Leo Laporte

The Blogging Boogie Man and other things that go bump in the digital night

 

Sheesh.

What started as an experiment in how the Internet distributes content has become an experiment in human nature.

I started this blog back in August as a way to have hands experience about how the Internet distributes content – how fast, how deep and what gets picked up. I was pretty quiet about my blogging adventures largely because this was part of my education as I was tired of so called “experts” telling me how viral marketing worked. I wanted to understand it from the bottom up – by doing it myself. Also, I didn’t tell many people because I didn’t actually think my friends would be all that interested to be honest.

Slowly over time, though word got out among my circle of friends and I thought they would view it more as a laugh than anything else. Much to my surprise, though, people took it far more seriously than I ever did. More and more conversations started with, “are you going to blog that?”  or “I hope you don’t blog that” or my favorite “you should blog that!”

At first I was amused – after all I probably IM more people in any given day than actually read this blog. But I’ve never liked being told what to do (if I don’t want to do it) and I certainly don’t like to be to told what NOT to do. So as the volume of friends’ blogging concerns became louder – I started to ponder …

What were they so afraid of?

I certainly live by the rules of the bloggers’ road as I articulated in my post entitled, “To blog or not to blog”. I would never jeopardize relationships by saying anything that would embarrass or in any way compromise someone. So I continued to ponder this for a while.

Why were so afraid of this little blog that ranks 2,124,856 according to Technorati?

And then it hit me. Blogging is fundamentally about a redistribution of power. Blogging potentially puts someone else in control of what the Internet sees and hears about you. A blogger (any blogger) can taint your reputation with a keyboard and an Internet connection and the blogger has tremendous power over what the Internet knows about you. Power shifts from the person owning their reputation to the blogger who can affect someone’s reputation more radically than the person themselves. High schools are struggling with this very phenomenon which has been termed cyber bullying. This is where vendettas are played out on the Internet and kid’s reputations are destroyed.

And that, it seems is the Blogging Boogie Man my friends are scared of.  

So dear friends – rest assured. I will be magnanimous – yielding my new found power (however limited) for good. Let me take you by the hand and we’ll look under the digital bed together so you can see there are no boogie men hiding under there, no nasty monsters that will come back to bite you.

But if you need more reassurance, I will leave the digital nightlight on for you tonight J .

Judy Shapiro  

Ten Marketing Heresies You Should Start Believing In

 

Heresy is a loaded word – evoking in equal measure poor souls suffering some unspeakable death for the sake of an idea and the visionaries whose ideas were so ahead of their time that it often took decades or centuries for it to be proven true.

So when a friend recently said that an idea I had mentioned was “heresy” – I was taken aback. Strong language indeed.  And if something is declared as heresy the intention is to snuff out its spread for it may actually be true.

That got me thinking about all the marketing heresies I actually believe and much to my surprise, I have developed a fairly extensive list of these “heresies”. When I think about my start in marketing at an advertising agency working on Procter & Gamble or AT&T businesses, I also realized I was well trained (even maybe a little indoctrinated) in the well established marketing principles.

But that was in the 1980’s when generating awareness was based on large advertising budgets and large advertising agency expense budgets. Today, the goal is the same – getting broad awareness or “brand buzz” – but we must adapt our thinking and in some ways accept what would have been considered marketing heresies even just a few years ago.

So here is my list of marketing “heresies” … heresies that help build business if you can believe in their truths.

1)  World class marketing does not necessarily require an agency or consultant.

This one was particularly hard for me to accept as my heritage lies in the agency world, but is true nonetheless. Agencies largely can not bring innovation to clients because their business model is not geared toward that. Agencies do well in executing established programs that do not require a high level of non billable research investment. Often new programs require agencies to first get up the learning curve and they can’t bill for that. That means they usually stick to what they know – they make more money that way.  

2) “Hands on” experience is better than having consultants or agencies do the work for you.

Related to the above, and to be honest, I was not eager to believe this one  – but it is true nonetheless. And it is particularly true when working with the newer marketing tactics.  Since agencies are often not the innovators, in order for you to direct agencies well, you have to have hands on experience. Without that “hands on experience”, it is more difficult to get accountability.

“C’mon”, I hear you say, “how practical is that? Certainly, an ad executive can not get bogged down in implementing lots of programs.” I understand. I was used to an organized, compartmentalized marketing world – the copywriter wrote copy, PR agencies did the PR, the promotional folks managed emails. Doing it myself seems almost sacrilegious.

But it was not until I started to do the work, that I learned the most and I credit the CEO of my company for making me to do it (over my constant and eminently annoying objections  I might add). So take it from someone who had to learn the hard way, marketing is about staying current and being able to understand how people will respond your programs. Working the work yourself (as much as you can) really helps improve the quality of the work. And then you can begin to demand better quality from your agencies. 

3) Stop chasing measurement of specific marketing programs — but do measure all of marketing.

Sorry Virginia – but it’s time to put this long held holy grail to rest. Not every marketing program can be measured. Perhaps in some future time when we can measure what a person is actually thinking can we measure each marketing program.  The best we can do is measure an action that a marketing program may have generated – but that’s about it. The goal rather should be to measure marketing as an organic whole. 

Make sure you are looking at the right metrics. Of course – revenue is important, but I find volume metrics are also very important and a more sensitive measure to monitor marketing effectiveness. Increased sales revenue is often a function of price increases and/ or new product introductions. But to see if marketing is working efficiently, measure the order volume of a product from one year to the next. The volume measure is blind to changes that price increases could mask. If revenue has grown, but not volume, take a deeper look to see what can be done to improve this. 

4) Generating “brand buzz” is no longer a function of money.

The P&G model worked in its day. Buy GRP’s (Gross Rating Points) on TV, then awareness would go up and with it sales. Pretty straight forward and agencies marched right along. Large budgets drove large fees. It was a symbiotic relationship. But now the model is different. Creating awareness is a function of public relations, viral marketing and SEO programs. All of which are relatively low cost. PR agencies don’t understand viral marketing much and social media agencies don’t understand PR at all. None of them have a clue about SEO. So creating brand buzz means creating a new model that is not dependent on cash – but dependent on smarts.  

The recipe therefore is to integrate viral relations with public relations and SEO to drive search volumes. Then the more people will search for you the better your chances of getting them as customers.   

5) “Free” can build business – but it needs to be a real deal.

How many emails do we all get that claim free iPod or free this or that. These emails do seem to generate response but it has a dark side. The “free” deal is often tainted and that is worse than doing nothing at all. In a drive to generate revenue, keep free as it was intended – really free – not partially free or free if you buy this or that.

If you are making a free claim – really mean it (and be sure you can afford it) Then you’ll make money.

6) Search volume is highly manageable by marketers.   

Really truly. Stop thinking about search volumes that happens in a detached way from what you are doing. You can manage it, increase it. Tune it like you would an engine and your volumes will go up. 

7) Develop a refined sense of “roughly right”.

In today’s lightening fast world, perfection is not an asset anymore. It is far more useful to have a keen sense of “good enough” and get programs out there than to continue to work a program until it is perfect. Mind you, this heresy does not apply to all marketing tactics – but certainly to any tactics that lives in the online world. It is far more productive to get something out and refine it over time than to wait 9 months to get it perfect. If a program can get out “roughly right” in 4 months and generate some revenue, isn’t that far better than waiting nine months. I bet the extra measure of perfection does not compensate for the lost months of revenue. (I should add – I still struggle with this one – but hey – I’m still learning).

 

8 ) Letting customers openly voice thier opinions – good and bad – is a powerful brand building tool.   

 

I was having a conversation with a friend who runs the marketing for a manufacturing company and they wanted to create a user forum but decided against it because he said, “one bad opinion could really do damage.”  Well I heartily disagreed by explaining that bad feedback is going to happen anyway – but by creating a venue where you can manage the feedback, that gives you tremendous opportunities to turn that around. So don’t be scared of what customers may say within a forum you create – be more scared of what they say about you without you ever knowing. 

9) There is never one way to solve a marketing problem.

I tend to have strong opinions (you wouldn’t have ever guessed that – right :)) and believe that I am mostly right most of the time. I still believe that but now I know that others could be as right as me because there is always more than one way to skin a cat. So while I may be attached to my way – I can now whole heartedly follow other ways because they will deliver results too.

10) Last and perhaps more important — passion sells.

The corporate tone with a measured approach rarely makes anyone take notice. Rather, for marketing to work, you should be passionate about it because then it comes through in the work.

Resist the urge to think about another product launch as just more work. Get excited about the product. Learn why the developer designed the product the way they did. Too many times we become blasé about what we are doing and evaluate a new product through the lens of the product gaps. I am fortunate to work at an Internet security company with a CEO who is as passionate about every new product as though it is his first. That kind of passion is contagious and permeates everything. Try to turn yourself on when doing this type of work. It keeps the work fresh for your market and exciting for you. It doesn’t get better than that – does it?

Now do you believe?

Judy Shapiro

To blog or not to blog … or the seven rules of blogging etiquette

 

Life is so full of interesting nuggents that it is hard not to be tempted to share it. What colleagues or relatives or friends say and think always has something interesting that longs to be shared. Yet there is a delicate balance that must be struck — not to divulge confidential stuff but yet not to feel censored either.

And this provides a valuable lesson on how to think about the boundaries when doing social media. Corporate boardrooms have long worried about the uncensored proliferation of opinions and gossip that make its way to the blog-o-sphere and the wider social media world.

So to guide all you budding bloggers – here are the seven basic rules for achieving the optimum balance.

1)     Never put anything in writing you would not or could not say to your colleagues directly.

2)     Play the role reverse game – if you recounting what you think is a funny anecdote about your Uncle Bill, read it again as though you are Uncle Bill. Would it sound so amusing to you?

3)     Be careful about including business details – one may slip in that could be more telling than you intend. Always keep it vague.

4)     Always, always be respectful of others feelings. Do not use your blog to vent or even a score. It will come back to haunt you – guaranteed.

5)     Always assume that who you write about will read it so censor yourself accordingly.

6)      Let your creative juices flow – but before you publish anything (particularly if you are recounting a funny anecdote about a co-worker) put it aside for a couple of hours. When you read it again “fresh” you will be in a good position to assess the “embarrassment” factor.

7)     Finally – always always be honest in your entries. Then you should have nothing to apologize for.

 

Let the fun begin. 

Judy Shapiro

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,145 other followers