Archive for the ‘General’ Category

As I’m sure you can tell by the my blog posts, lately I’ve been thinking about the social web an awful lot.   Part of it has to do with working at StockTwits but another part of it is that I see it as very disruptive and thus, interesting.

Social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter combined with mobile phones are allowing the global conversation that started with the internet to turn into something faster,  easier, and more ingrained in the day to day life.  Poeople are beginning to live their lives both on and offline  simultaneously and seamlessly.

Many companies see this as an enormous marketing oppurtunity, and it is, but now how they think.

For the last 50 years or so, going back to the days of Don Draper, marketing has been primarily focused outward – as a one way street from the company to the consumer.  In The Cluetrain Manifesto, they likened the modern day form of marketing to war where companies are in battle with their customers – constantly trying to force a huge supply of messages to a market with absolutely no demand for them.

On the internet however, this tactic doesn’t work.  On the internet, what works is not what the companies telling you that you should want, but you telling the companies what you do want.  Think about Google.  Search is the most successful type of advertising on the web.   This is because when someone performs a search, they are explicitly looking for something that they want.  Thus, the ads aren’t that intrusive.  In fact, they can be quite helpful.  Search ads are pretty much the only ads I click on online.

On the social web, this is no different.  There is very low tolerance for spam, and most traditional corporations have basically turned to spamming.  The other day I tweeted about the movie Halloween II, and the next thing I know I had two Halloween costume websites following me.  Bluntly put, like the traditional web, most companies don’t know what the fuck they’re doing on the social web.

This is because the future of marketing on the social web is not the outward form – from the company to the consumer.  Instead, it is the inward form – from the consumer to the company. In the past it was a marketing department trying to predict its customer’s tastes and preferences and craft a message accordingly.  On the social web the customer tells the company their tastes and preferences and the marketing departments role to relay it to the company.  In fact, you know that customer service department you outsourced to India – you may be need them again.

The social web provides a real time minable conversation for companies to peruse.  Today I saw the following two tweets from someone I follow, @christopherhuff:

tweet2

tweet1

At this point he is marketing himself to banks.  He’s telling banks, specifically Bank Of America, that he’s looking for service that he isn’t getting.  He is also marketing Bank of America to his followers, letting them know that BofA service blows.  If Bank of America was smart they would at least use this information to improve their customer service, if they were really smart they would have @replied him and gotten the information, apologized and then took care of it.  If they did that, I’d ReTweet them in a second – cuz that’s awesome.

The future of marketing on the social web is inward, towards the company.  I call this marketing inversion.

Companies should fire the marketing departments hired to craft images of some contrived reality, and instead hire people who can wade into the actual reality of the social web to help craft a better company.  This means monitoring what people are saying, and reaching out and talking to them in a human voice.   It also means simply listening, a very important characteristic to a good salesman.  Companies must simply sit back and listen to what people are saying about their products and service and then relay that message to the operating arms of the company so that they can improve.

In the past, it was companies sending out a ton of messages.  Now its the customer – and now there should be a huge demand for the message.  On the social web, customer service is the (new) marketing.

Advertisements

Sean Park, says that CEO’s are “evolutionarily ill-adapted”.  I agree and will go a bit further and say that many sales and marketing departments are as well.   Nowhere can you better see this than in financial sales.  I remember being at Citi at the same time that the “social” web was really getting started, and wondering why the hell I was cold calling these people with no particular rhyme or reason, who most of the time didn’t want to talk to me.  My “website” was filled with BS sales articles and looked like every other Citi advisor;s site. To publish something that I wrote, it would have to go through a days long compliance process, where if your article was intelligent, it would have immediately been shot down.   And while some regulatory burdens “prevent” them from talking to the public, their sales strategy was preventing salesmen to sell.

Regardless of what industry you’re in, these days the conversations are had on the web, increasingly more in real time.   In this new landscape, the good salesman will not be on the phone all day, but the web and those who can reach out and touch the most prospects will win.  Who’s on the web more often and has successfully sold on it already? Bloggers.

Bloggers  should be the ideal prospect for a position in your company’s sales department, if you want to win on the web. They are experienced at sales and they have enormous real time networks.

Bloggers are Experienced Salesmen

Anyone who has written and maintained a blog with any level of readers has, at some point, “sold” his/her blog.  There’s nothing wrong with that.   Nobody likes talking to themselves so the first logical step is to go out and get readers.  This is not easy.  You have to be real, you have to be social, and most importantly you have to go out and find a market for your message.  Most bloggers understand the concept of the link economy, and if you have a decent readership its likely that you have succesfully navigated it.  They understand the social fabric of the web, how you have to converse on it, and successfully have targetted, built, and expanded a market for thier message.  They’ve already run a successful campaign.

So if you plan to do any business in this new environment, I would recommend matching up a good blogger with great products.

Bloggers have Enormous Real-Time Networks

In my short period of time on this planet, I have noticed that the best salespeople really understand the concept of networks.  They understand that markets are conversations and they have spent their life building relationships and talking to people.  They have established themselves as a hub in the network of relationship that took years of being helpful and social to create.

These days, the web is changing the social network framework.  Thinking about spacetime physically and not informationally is wrong.  I am not a wildly successful blogger, but through my blog and twitter I can reach out to hundreds of people in almost real time who then can reach out to thousands.  As a blogger if there is a market for your message, and you have a good network, the network will help your message find its market faster.  Imagine talking on the phone with a hundred people then them talking on the phone w/ a hundred people.  How long would that take?  While bloggers’ digital networks may not be as rich as the analog networks of past, they are quicker, larger, and are better equipped for 21st century sales.

Some may question the “ethics” of a blogger selling for his company, but those arguments are made by people who don’t get how you sell on the web.   Look at Fred Wilson or Howard Lindzon.They always are selling the companies they invest in, but you can tell they are genuine and they have spent a long time building rapport talking about interesting stuff with interesting people (they also have great products). They have mastered how you sell on the web, which is not some lame “pitch” loaded up with corporatespeak, but just being real, awesome, and helpful,  and in turn they ask for a little help back.  There is nothing wrong with people helping people, everyone needs help and bloggers understand that sales is a two way street, a conversation.

DISCLAIMER:  I am an unemployed blogger, and yes, of course I’m selling myself (Shock! Horror!).

Vacation

I will be taking a vaction for the next week.  While I don’t plan on blogging, I will be on twitter so you can follow me @zerobeta.

Before I start actively blogging again I figured I’d update the readers on what to expect from the new blog:

New Content

In the last few months as I have worked at yoonew, I’ve gotten a lot of exposure to areas such as technology, startups, and prediction markets.  The “new” zerobeta will include more posts on these topics, as it is what I am currently thinking about and have developed a real passion for.  While I am still interested in financial markets and don’t plan on completely abandoning that type of content, as I grow, so will the breadth of content offered on this blog.

Shorter Posts

The old zerobeta was a shitty writer.  I plan on expressing my ideas much more clearer and in much fewer words this time around.

Twitter

I will be doing a lot more microblogging on Twitter under the name zerobeta.  Please follow me.  I will try to get the two integrated as well.

Blogroll

I will be assembling a new blogroll over the next few days that includes some of the new blogs I read as well as some of the old ones that I still read.

That’s about it, I’m working on a bunch of stuff and trying to get a few good posts together.

Back from Oblivion

First, I want to apologize to all my readers.  I hopefully will get the zerobetablog.com domain back, as it currently has been hijacked due to my own neglect of the blog and my email.

I thought about starting a new blog from scratch, and I still may, but I figured that in the days of Feedburner and Disqus, its easy to stay in touch w/ the blogosphere.  Plus I figure it is a good time to get back to basics anyways.

I apologize to all my readers for moving the SECOND time since starting at zerobeta.typepad.com, but those who know be best would tell you that I can’t sit still and apparently neither can my blog.