3rd September 2007

Some word-of-mouth on "Word of Mouth Marketing"

I’ve been on hiatus from online for most of the past two weeks - a bit of needed vacation.  I didn’t quite spend the time the way I had planned, but I think I spent it the right way.  I had planned to read a couple of books, stay on top of my blog, catch up on RSS feeds that I’d fallen behind on, and work on some longer range personal objectives.  Well, I read one book.  Beyond that, I frankly just relaxed and enjoyed the time with family and friends.  Good for me!!  Not sure why I thought I could or should try to do all that other stuff while on vacation!

As I prepare to immerse tomorrow in my day job, I’m anxious to catch up on what I missed and get on with planning for what looks like a very busy fall schedule.

The one book I did read was a good one.  Earlier this year I joined the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.  I certainly didn’t see myself as a marketer, but I felt it would be a good way to connect with some industry peers focused on similar issues involving social media.  Well, it was - and I certainly recommend it.  I have met many great thinkers and experts on the topic of WOM over the past several months.  I’ve been particularly taken by the convergence social media is driving between marketing, customer service, online support and product feedback functions - driving connections across these silos should be a top priority for any company that wants to continue to have long term success.

A friend introduced me to Andy Sernovitz who I’ve had the pleasure of talking with now on several occasions.  Andy wrote an excellent book called Word of Mouth Marketing:  How Smart Companies get People Talking.  Andy has been a great contact for me and I certainly owe him a personal thanks for the conversations, but also want to recommend this book to anyone looking for smart, easy to follow guidance on how to implement Word of Mouth in your marketing strategy.


This is the book I wish I had read 3-4 years ago (though it wasn’t out then:)).  I can certainly see how this book would have changed how I thought about and implemented the programs, practices and internal negotiations I’ve been responsible for in recent years.  Andy brings nice structure to action planning through the 5 Ts:

  • Talkers:  Find the people talking about you
  • Topics:  Give people a reason to talk
  • Tools:  Help the message spread faster and farther
  • Taking part: Join the conversation
  • Tracking:  Measure and understand what people are saying

Now, here I am "Word-of-Mouthing" on the book - uh, hmmm - nice job Andy.

Hope to see you in November at the Word of Mouth Marketing Summit where I get to present this year!


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29th July 2007

Citizen Marketer on "Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message"

When People are the MessageMy book pile has grown faster than I can deplete it.  I’ve done what I rarely do…started reading multiple books at the same time.  Some people can do that, it’s not for me.

While traveling this week, I finish Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba of Church of the Customer.

It’s one of the better books on the changing face of marketing and influence in the post read/write web world and I certainly recommend adding it to your pile.  If you are already in a web 2.0 role, Citizen Marketers is a warm blank of reassurance and if you are just considering the implications, it’s an excellent primer for pulling together your business case.

Here’s what I liked:

  • Good story telling - it’s just a good, entertaining, well written book - notable in that so many business audience books simply are not.
  • Examples galore - I wouldn’t necessarily call them best practices, but a range of examples that span industries and company sizes.  Selling the benefits of community in a company is in part good story telling with examples.
  • Approachability - If you are "web 2.0 literate" already, this is one of the books to drop on the desk of your boss. 
  • Structures:
    • Personas: The Four F’s:  Filters, Fanatics, Facilitators, and Firecrackers
    • Programs: Contests, Co-creation, and Communities

Enjoy the book…next up, finishing The Influentials.


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10th June 2007

What books are in my computer bag right now??

I last reviewed Made to Stick…still my #1 recommended read for the year…but I’m reading two other books now I will need to comment on soon, I thought I’d mention them today.

1) Ambient Findability:  What we find changes who we become (Peter Morville)

Not quite done with this, but a very interesting book by one of the luminaries on information architecture.  It’s both on the edge of my areas of interest and right in the center…the content isn’t the problem, it’s whether it will ever be found.


2) Citizen Marketers:  When People Are the Message (Ben McConnell / Jackie Huba)

I’m just getting rolling in this one, but from page one I can tell it’s right up my alley.  I’m particularly excited about this one as a mutual contact introduced me to the authors who I will meet face to face later this month.  Can’t wait!!


What are you reading??


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12th May 2007

Recommended Read: Made to Stick

You wake up in a bathtub in Las Vegas….it’s cold…you look down and see a note…it says, call the hospital, we’ve taken your kidney.

Ever heard this urban legend?  I bet you have.

The question is why do ideas like this "stick" in our heads, but we can’t remember (or make others remember) the critical ideas we’re trying to communicate.

I would give an Oprah sized recommendation for Chip & Dan Heath’s book:  Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

Thanks to Lee at Commoncraft for the recommendation that I am happy to endorse as well.

There is a lot to like about the book.  It’s a relatively straightforward read.  It is very instructional - meaning I can see how to implement - vs so many books that are purely conceptual.  The Authors introduce six Key qualities of an Idea that is "made to stick."

  • Simplicity:  How do you strip down an idea to its core without turning it into a silly sound bite.
  • Unexpectedness:  How do you capture peoples attention…and hold it?
  • Concreteness:  How do you help people understand your idea and remember it much later?
  • Credibility:  How do you get people to believe your idea?
  • Emotional:  How do you get people to care about your idea?
  • Stories:  How do you get people to act on your idea? - I loved this - I see myself often as a story teller - it’s the core of Part 1 of convincing the unconverted.

A few things really stand out for me in this book.  One is the notion of "Commanders Intent" in relating to the principal of Simplicity.  Commanders Intent is a military planning concept that essentially assumes that most planning is flawed because at the moment the enemy engages, the plan no longer applies.  The idea of Commanders Intent is describing a clear and specific enough objective such that when the enemy does engage, those on the front lines are clear enough about the end goal that they know how to adjust.  In other words, what matters is the clarity of the desired outcome over a rigid process for how to achieve the outcome.  There’s a useful description of Building Commander’s Intent from  a military standpoint .

I also really liked the exploration of the "curse of knowledge."  This is particularly evident around online communities.  How often have you heard yourself say "man, they just don’t get it" when talking about the value or importance of community to others - especially those in your company who may have to fund the investment!  The truth may be that you are so close and intimate to the topic that you make it overly complex, provide too much information, not enough information or don’t map the benefits to the goals of the other party.  If you are selling an idea, and "they don’t get it" - who is underperforming - the listener or the communicator?  Hint:  It’s not the listener!

Lastly, the value of unexpectedness.  I loved this and thought it tied in very nicely.  I tried using this recently.  To set this up, I run a multi-million dollar organization focused explicitly on the value of communities.  In a planning meeting I was asked if we were in the "community" business?  The expected and easier answer, which would have made a great question totally forgettable, would have been "yes."  The Sticky answer, was "No!  We are in the answers and feedback business!"  This simple, clear, concrete, unexpected answer provided great clarity (I think).  In one statement, we took something very nebulous and often confusing to people (community) and converted it to much clearer language that supports a commanders intent in ways that a "community" mission doesn’t.  Yes, everything we do is in communities, that doesn’t change, but clarity of purpose for what your doing there is amazingly liberating!



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15th April 2007

A couple of good reads (and one not so good) to share today…

I did a fair amount of reading this weekend, two stood out as worthwhile to share.

1)  Wharton Interview of Ray Ozzie…it’s not just the content, but something different here in terms of tone and manner that I really like in this discussion about Microsoft and software as a service / software plus services.

2)  John Hagel, author of Net Gain, was the keynote at the recent Community 2.0 Conference.  I wasn’t there, but he took the time to author his notes from the speech which I think is an exceptional read for anyone investing in virtual communities and business.

My actions from John’s notes:

  • Critically review current online plans with his notes in mind
  • Add Net Gain to my "to read" pile
  • Add Ambient Findability to my "to read" pile.

I’m also reading The Starfish and the Spider.  I’m about 50% done with this book.  I really should finish before blogging my thoughts on it, but honestly I’m having trouble sticking with it.  It falls into a category I describe as "Interesting, but not Fascinating."  It’s an enjoyable enough read with some nice relevant stories about the Apaches, the Quaker’s, AA, Open Source, Wikipedia, etc.  The problem is, I think anyone who is likely to pick this book up and read it will not learn anything new.  I suppose if I was just digging into Web 2.0 / communities, I might like it better, but if I was just getting started, there are better books / resources.


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        8th April 2007

        Tagging vs Dewey Decimal…

        Just a quick follow-up to the recent post on Tag Drafting.  I’m not sure who sent this to me…ironically it was not tagged content at the time and I printed the article to be read later as I often do…but if it was you, thanks…I finally got to it in my "to read" pile.  I thought I’d share this short, but recommended read put out by the Pew Internet & American Life project:

        The article:  28% of Online Americans have used the internet to Tag content.

        This article includes an interview of Cluetrain Manifesto co-author David Weinberger with a good high level overview of how tagging works, the demographics of "taggers," and why tagging matters.  I particularly liked the contrast to the Dewey Decimal system as a way of coming to terms with the movement from hierarchical / centralized classifications to community / decentralized folksonomies.

        Hope you like the read too.

        David has a new book coming in May:  Everything is Miscellaneous…I’ll likely pick it up for the "to read" pile.


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