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30 posts from July 2005

Struggling to be Uniquely Oneself

One of my favorite sources of insight and inspiration is the ML2 e-newsletter published by Dr. Mark Albion ( In the current issue he discusses the reasons we have to struggle to become our unique selves. It's reassuring that to realize, that to some extent, it's natural.

If you are driven to prove your worthiness to others, you have handed over your life to the opinion of others. Cultural dictates are powerful. We each must make our peace with the past and the present, making mistakes along the way, learning from them, if we are going to find our way to becoming an original.

Podcasting as an Advertising Channel

When I did my recent presentation on marketing innovations, I didn't include podcasting because I wasn't sure how we could use it as an advertising channel. Now Starcom's research group has an excellent suggestion, covered by Zachary Rodgers at ClickZ. Read the whole article.

ClickZ: Podcasting Augers 'Connoisseur Cultures,' Says Starcom

Podcasting will give marketers the opportunity to niche-target a new set of "connoisseur cultures," according to a new report from Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG). But user sensitivities around advertising in the medium mean sponsorship and content integration are better models than straight advertising.

Marketers Letting More Users See Themselves

A couple of months ago, I talked about Crunch Fitness who featured their customers (in their underwear) on billboards. Now Verizon is giving each of their customers 15 seconds of fame on a Times Square billboard. The Verizon campaign microsite is challenging to use at first, but although I think that will be a liability for them, I still admire their willingness to try something very challenging. Testimonial advertising was always about the product, but this type of advertising makes the user the hero. And it isn't about being perfect, it's about being bold.

Link: MediaPost Publications - Out to Launch - 07/27/2005 by Amy Corr (registration required)

To support Verizon's corporate branding campaign, including the launch of, the company is displaying the site's profiles of actual broadband enthusiasts live on the Reuters sign in Times Square until August 10.

Future Brands will be Built on Community

The powerhouse brands on the future will be less dependent on capital investment or kick-ass creative ideas. Instead they will leverage the power of their community. As a resource, the community offers greater risk and hence greater return.

Martin Lindstrom at ClickZ: Community Brand-Builders: Join 'Em.

Without sharing, listening, and compatible matching, eBay, Amazon, Weight Watchers, and any other community-based brand would struggle to survive. Consider whether your brand ticks yes to each of these questions: Is your brand based, or could it be based, on trust? Can your users share what's on their minds, not only with you but with all your customers? How easy is it for your users to not only find a match with your brand but also make your brand match their needs?

Old-school brands will opt out at this point. But modern brands still have choices. Seize that choice now. Who knows? In a few years, your community options may be taken up by other brands who nurtured their communities by trusting 'em, hearing 'em, and matching 'em.

One Way to Make a Contribution

You can't read the new issue of Fast Company online unless you've paid for the issue, but Tim Manner extracts some juicy tidbits at Cool News of the Day. Confederate Motor Co. is designing motorcycles like their sanity depends on it.

Reveries: Teaching Harley-Davidson a Lesson from Bill Breen at Fast Company via Tim Manners

"The more we diminish money as our chief goal, the more passion we can put into our efforts," he says, adding: "Passion gives the motorcycle its life force. You can literally feel it coming off of the machine." Confederate hopes Harley will soon feel that heat, albeit in a good way. The hope is that Confederate ultimate might get Harley to "adapt some of its breakthroughs and bring them to a wider market, at lower prices." As J.T. Nesbitt puts it: "We don't want to beat Harley, we want to teach Harley."

Understanding how Relationships Impact Finanical Decisions

If it's your job to influence purchase decisions, you MUST read this article. In fact, if it's your job to MAKE purchase decisions--you should also read this article. Postrel has rounded up some of the most fabulous quotes from scholars and researchers who are forming a new model for economic behavior in a world made of relationships.

Boston Globe: Market share by Virginia Postrel

While economists continue to probe into social life, a growing academic subfield known as economic sociology is doing just the opposite--bringing tools and concepts from sociology to bear on the economy. We cannot understand how people earn, spend, and invest their money, economic sociologists argue, unless we understand social relations. If, as economists contend, incentives and choice are everywhere, so are social conventions and personal connections.

Being a Savvy Online Community Member

Whininess is one of the Net's more-grating lingua francas, heard everywhere from bad blogs to Web sites dedicated to the hatred of single companies. But it may be at its worst on consumer message boards. We're not against Company X Stinks sites or message boards -- in fact, it's terrific that consumers now have a way to take deep-pocketed companies to the court of public opinion. But as is the norm for human endeavors, the experiences that people want to talk about are mostly bad ones

Wall St. Journal: The Age of Raised Expectations. (subscription required)

Over at their excellent column Real Time, Tim Hanrahan and Jason Fry review the exaggerated behaviors that occur in online communities including eBay. As more and more of us rely on these sites for information, we need to be conscious of natural biases. Whining is a popular sport on many message boards. It's more entertaining than admitting everything was fine (not great, but competent). And at eBay the obsession of some members with maintaining a perfect feedback score has led to some pretty dysfunctional behavior. Watch out for it.