Brian Millar has a brief article in FastCompany about his company’s strategy of consulting “extreme customers” to get insight into existing products and ideas for new ones. He writes, “You can learn a lot about mobile phones by talking to a power user. You can learn even more by talking to somebody who’s deliberately never bought one.” And
We recently worked with some Brazilian transsexuals on hair-removal products, looking at ways of making the process less painful. I can assure you, we had their full attention. Some are still sending us ideas.
It’s a great illustration of the fact that innovation tends to come from the intersection of orthogonal streets.
I’ve got a post at the Harvard Business Review site about what I’m calling (not too seriously) The Gettysburg Principles. The point is that you can keep your customers buying from you if your business is of your customers, by your customers, and for your customers. “Of” means that your business is made up of people like your customers. “By” means that your customers are contributing to the creation of your product. “For” your customers means you put them first. These three terms give a handy way of analyzing why customers stick with some businesses even if they have to pay a bit more or make some other adjustments.
Anyway, there’s more over at HBR…
Tagged with: business
Date: March 28th, 2012 dw
Look up a patent at the US Patent Office site, click on “Images” to see the image, and the chances are very good that you’ll get the sense that people are patenting white paper over and over and over again. The images generally do not show up. (Example)
A little exploration (which you shouldn’t have to do) explains that this is knowingly broken:
These full-page images are not directly viewable using most Web browsers.They are in 300 d.p.i. Tagged Image File Format (TIFF). However, there are many variants — or “flavors” — of TIFF, including different ways of compressing the image data within the TIFF file. The TIFF flavor used by PTO and other countries’ intellectual property offices is international standard ITU T.6 or CCITT Group 4 (G4) compression. Displaying them requires either a TIFF G4 plug-in for your browser, or a properly installed and configured application to which your browser sends G4 TIFF images for display. Note that relatively few image viewers and plug-ins handle G4 compression.
So, here’s an idea: Convert the images to a format that browsers can handle. Post those. Make TIFF the format you have to ask for specially.
Would a business post links to images that they know won’t show up, and make you go to a Help page to discover why? (Thanks to Greg Cavanagh for the alert.)
Tagged with: patents
Date: March 12th, 2012 dw
Julianne Chatelain investigates why Rich Berlew’s Kickstarter project became one of the top ten of all time, and the #1 in the creative category. She provides a concise, insightful look at why user experience counts for a lot, even when you’re supposedly just making a business proposal: give me $57,750 and I’ll reprint one of my “Order of the Stick” web-comic compilations. Berlew received $400,000 in the first 12 days.
Tagged with: kickstarter
Date: February 6th, 2012 dw
How much do I owe Verizon this month for a connection at a summer cottage I share with my siblings? $38.04. For not having service.
That breaks down to $12.70 for a suspended phone line, $9.99 for a suspended Internet connection, $5.50 for having them turn off our long distance service, and taxes. (They didn’t record my initial request in early October to turn off the Internet, rather than suspend it, but go argue.)
I’m only surprised Verizon isn’t charging me more per month for not having a higher level of service.
Tagged with: cluetrain
Date: January 30th, 2012 dw
It used to be that on my birthday I’d get untouched-by-humans birthday wishes from my dentist’s firm and perhaps a local car company and real estate agent. Now I get them from sites I once age-verified for (gaming sites, not porn, fellas), a Prius forum, a diabetes forum, and — one level of abstraction up — from Xing itself.
If these groups are going to issue pro forma birthday wishes, I think they ought to be required to hire someone who has to sit there and actually think warmly about each person before pressing the “send” button.
And then, as a special birthday present, keep your stupid marketing messages to yourself.
Tagged with: birthday
Date: November 8th, 2011 dw
A Cisco study finds that when deciding on job offers, a startlingly high number of college students and recently employed grads value access to social media at work more than salary. And an article by Ann Bednarz at Network World finds that “[e]ven some of the most buttoned-down institutions are rethinking bans and relaxing access to social networks and social media sites.”
So, it looks like everyone should be happy for a change.
, social media
Tagged with: business
• social media
Date: November 2nd, 2011 dw
With Douglas Rushkoff I’m keynoting a Ketchum event called “Respect the Internet” [more here] tomorrow. The subtitle of the day is “Is marketing ruining the Net?” Sounds like it should be fun. (It’s being webcast, starting at 10am.)
I have a 20-30 min slot in which I’m planning on saying something like the following:
Yes, markets are conversations, as Doc once said. That shifts power from vendors to customers. It also turns markets as demographic abstractions into real social entities. But markets are conversations now because they are networked, and thus are taking on the properties of networks: evanescent, light-weight group formation, and, most of all connected via shared interests. For example, the people on the Web right now talking about which bike to buy constitute a networked market of bike purchasers. The bad news for traditional businesses is that hierarchical businesses (i.e., businesses) do not fit well architecturally on the Net. E.g., who gets to talk for the business, for businesses do not actually have mouths?
I then plan on talking about two properties of networks being expressed by markets now.
1. The fact that the Net is composed of interests has exposed what we always knew: there is usually a lack of alignment between markets and businesses. Markets talk about bikes because they have the usual range of interests in bikes: to be green, to save money, to get exercise, to recapture one’s youth, etc. But bike companies as businesses are interested in having us pay them money. Same objects of discussion (bikes) but very different interests. Businesses have tried to rationalize their lack of alignment by talking about “authenticity,” a term that I think does not apply very meaningfully to companies. Nor do I think that Michael Porter’s “shared value” idea addresses the real misalignment of interests.
2. Networks tend toward transparency. I will quickly mention four types of relevant transparency: of self (you are who you say you are), of sources, of humanity (you and your products are fallible), and of interests. (I may drop this section. I think the line of thought would be clearer if I do.)
Finally, I want to ask why the Net is such a weird and different medium. Answer: The Internet is not a medium. We are the medium. Because the Net is interest based, messages (memes, links, poems, whatever) move through us: I send you that link because I think you’ll like it, and I have something invested in your liking it when I pass it along. We are literally the medium.
So, that’s why marketers should respect the Internet. The Internet is ours. No, we don’t own Verizon’s wires. But that’s not the Internet. The Net is its open protocol and the social products and life it has engendered. So, mess with the Net with intrusive marketing and you are messing with us. We won’t like it.
That’s roughly it.
(By the way, I rarely mention where I’m talking because I’m a little shy, in weird ways. I’m thinking I ought to bite the bullet and just blurt out my scheduled talks. Why? Marketing! E.g., would you like to know that this morning I keynoted the Canadian Research Knowledge Network meeting outside of Ottawa, and that on Monday I gave the John Seely Brown lecture at the University of Michigan School of Information? Or is it just boastful noise, which is how it sounds to me?)
Tagged with: cluetrain
Date: October 5th, 2011 dw
I liked this post by in the Guardian by John Naughton about the future of Web 2.0, and I’m always delighted to be mention in the same paragraph as Paul Graham, but I want to keep insisting that Web 2.0 was not the moment when the Web moved from publishing platform to social platform. One of the main points of Cluetrain (1999) was in fact that the Web from its beginning was thrilling us because it was a social place, a set of conversations, a party.
Now, it is certainly true that with Web 2.0, the Web became more social, easier to socialize in, undeniably social. That’s why Web 2.0 is a useful concept.
My problem is really with the “point” in Web 2 Point Oh, since it can imply a point in time when the Web became social, as if before that the Web was merely a publishing platform. Nah. It’s been social since the moment browsers started appearing.
, social media
Tagged with: cluetrain
• social networking
• web 2.0
Date: August 7th, 2011 dw
Jay Rosen has an amazing Storify thread in which he engages in a public enquiry about Edelman PR’s taking NewsCorp on as a client. Jay is breaking ground in how journalism works.
DISCLOSURE: I count Richard Edelman as a friend. I like and respect him. I have also been paid during a couple of stretches as a consultant to Edelman on PR in the networked age. The last time was maybe a year ago. I have not spoken with Richard or Edelman employees since then.
In my last engagement, I tried in my small way to get Edelman (the company) to adopt a view that recognizes that the Web is quite literally built out alignments of interests: People put in links and affiliate with one another because they share interests. Marketing traditionally has been premised all too often on a misalignment of interests: The business wants one thing and the market wants another. PR should, imo, recognize and respect the Net’s aligned nature. PR should genuinely enhance the interests expressed in the market, and otherwise shut up. Something like that.
I have also advised Edelman that when a business’s interests and the market’s interests are not aligned over matters of fact or philosophy, the business should consider adopting a tactic of “advocacy marketing” in which the business states its case frankly, truthfully, transparently, honestly, and respectfully. So, if the company think it’s getting a bad rap, it should (for example) put up a site that acknowledges what’s being said about it, make its case, address the contrary claims, engage with those who disagree, and always link to its sources.
If I were Edelman PR, I would probably agree to take on NewsCorp, but only if I were satisfied to a reasonable degree (yes, them’s fudge words) that NewsCorp was ready to tell the truth. (Clients do lie to their PR companies. The first time Edelman catches NewsCorp lying to them, Edelman should quite publicly drop them.)
If I were Edelman, I would not suggest advocacy marketing. NewsCorp does not have a side of the story worth telling. The only way forward for NewsCorp is to go many extra miles in transparency. Come clean not only about the phone tapping and the bribery, but about the culture of soft influence, the partisan reporting that fruitlessly claims it’s non-partisan, the degradation of once worthy newspapers.
Edelman should not, in my opinion, be helping Murdoch tell his side of the story. Edelman should be helping Murdoch to confront the truth, to follow the truth all the way through, and to tell the truth over and over and over again.
Taking on NewsCorp will test the ability of PR itself to continue to exist as a representative only of the client that pays the bill. I do not believe PR can survive if it does not see itself and its client first and foremost within the web of shared interests.
Tagged with: cluetrain
Date: July 17th, 2011 dw
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