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Brandstorming is a team blog written by Jim and Franki Durbin. We like to think of it as our idea playground.
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Monday, July 31, 2006

DAY OF THE LONG TAIL VIDEO

That was your time. This, is our time.

Day of the Long Tail. A video from YouTube that mocks Big Media. Funny.



It watches like a science fiction movie thriller.

Hat tip - Jeremiah

New Media Power Players

The Wall Street Journal had a fun article over the weekend, discussing the power players in the new media space. As is typical, I haven't heard of many of them, but anyone who pretends to know everything about the new media space is just fooling themselves.

The list of new media personages is part digital, part video, and part hype.

Winners:
StrongBad E-mail -the e-mail, the e-mail, what, what, the e-mail.

Starting to get old, but still great for laughs if you troll the archives. Techno is still the best.

Lustra: Little band makes is big on their own

The band that made it big on MySpace - it gives hope to the thousands of independent bands and their fans. It also goes a long way towards changing who decides music is cool. Radio stations and the Music Labels are losing their ability to create mega hits off formulas, and independent bands are leading the way.

Losers:

Christine Dolce - the queen of MySpace, with over a million links.

Since when are suggestive photos on the net a sign of a power player? She'll pose for a magazine as her success fades, there will be an outcry, and someone else will repeat the cycle in six months.

BoingBoing. -A directory of wonderful things
Proof that lots of links don't always make you powerful - BoingBoing has been a top-rated site for years and years. What has their impact been? TechCrunch, Springwise, Engadget - these sites make a difference in how a product is perceived. What has BoingBoing done lately? Who even reads them anymore?

Disappointing:
Diet Coke and Mentos.
We tried our own little Diet Coke, Mentos experiment this weekend. Granted we didn't spend 8 months on it, but it makes what those Eepybird guys did that much more impressive.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday Roundup

It's been a very busy week here and we're in the mood for some fun. Let's take a look at what brands are doing this week to get noticed:
  • If you've ever left home without travel insurance, this spot may make you think twice.
    [Ad Week]
  • All you Pong fans out there (you know who you are) will love AmEx's Roddick vs. Pong spot. Don't miss your chance to play Pong yourself. [Ad Blather]
  • A game only a mother could love: Buddies Scrubbies. See how many toddlers you can clean in two minutes. (Or not.) What I want to know is: how (or why) Johnson & Johnson's target market will find the time to play? [Adfreak]
  • Wondering what that big SUV says about you? I hate to admit it, but Greenpeace puts out a very funny spot called the City Gas Guzzler. We just wonder how much energy was used to make the commercial.
  • Check out the Lebron James Nike spot from December that resurfaced this week. And remember, "it's not about you, it's about the shoes."
  • Thank goodness this is fake. Don't miss the I'm really lovin' it McDonald's campaign from the Bad Ads Photoshop contest. View other entries here. [Consumerist]
  • Kawasaki shows us what a good time at the office should look like. Bring your helmet.
  • What makes Canadians so...so... Canadian? Universal Films takes a stab at the answer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Famous Quotes

When I was young, I used to sit around and read my quotation dictionary. Alexander Pope was one of my favorites.

This week, the Blog Boost is for Bill Austin's Famous Quotes. While contemplating what to write, it struck me as funny that I might try to write about a famous quote, so I chose instead to just list one that I liked.

It's for my wife, Franki.

A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults.

- Charles Kingsley

Beware the DIGG SWARM

I admit it, I'm a sucker for slick graphics - but when you social networking to the mix, it's like a dream come true. Say hello to my little friend, DIGG SWARM.

The original digg site allows users to input their favorite stories, leading to a ranking system for the rest of us, displayed as a list. This system shows you the number of links to each story and allows you to access each one. It's visual way to track buzz. Me likey.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gautam Ghosh joins an Exclusive Club

Congratulations to Gautam Ghosh, who is starting his own blog consulting business.

Gautam is a recruiting and management blogger who has taken that next big step - he's going to take his four years of experience (that's just about the beginning for business blogging) and he's going to share it with companies.

We like Gautam. We think he's going to be great at it. If you are in India, or Asia, or heck, if you read him regularly and want him to help, we suggest you contact him.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bad Press Release: The Bloggeries

I subscribe to a press release service that sent me a doozie today - a press release for a Blog review service that is misleading.

Check it out.

Bloggeries is a directory and Blog Review service. From the site, I can see it's not a bad idea, and has some push behind it. The writing for the reviews is okay, but it's nothing special. Don't get me wrong, it's tough to write reviews, so I'm not casting stones - but the site isn't going in my feed.

Then I caught this at the bottom of the press release.

Visitors to Bloggeries.com’s blog reviews can see the most recent blog reviews, discover how it rated, read the reviewers comments, read other visitors “bloggeries” and post “bloggeries” of their own. Visit www.bloggeries.com to submit your blog to the directory, or visit www.bloggeries.com/blog to submit your blog for review.
That sounds interesting - who wouldn't want a free review? Except they're not free. You're paying $25 for a review of your blog. There is something to be said for blog reviews, and directories are always good, but I was very surprised to see "Purchase a Blog Review" so blatantly displayed on the site.

In all fairness, Bloggeries claims they are objective on the reviews. Paying for a review is no guarantee of getting a positive one. I just don't like the idea of having to pay for a review. What is the value to the reader?

Am I wrong here?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Century 21 "Agents of Change" Campaign is Hit or Miss

This morning we saw a very moving, very realistic spot for Century 21. "The Big Move" features a Chinese couple relocating to the states. The 15-second spot shows us the couple waiting for their agent to pick them up from the airport. The couple is (understandably) nervous about the new home they've selected based on photos and the help of an agent. But the tension is relieved when the agent greets them in their native tongue. It's the realism and genuine vibe of the commercial that makes it work. You immediately relate to the anticipation of the couple, and you appreciate the effort the salesman makes to welcome them. He even confesses he'd practiced all morning and hoped he did a fair job on pronunication. The humility makes him more likeable. The spot works. The mood works. Well done.

What isn't well done is the other commercial that seems to run all of the time. The other "Agents of Change" spot we see features what Seth Stevenson of Slate calls "the nastiest wife on television." In "The Debate" the mood is heavy and we feel like we've walked in on a very private, very tense conversation between a couple. The room is dim and we are allowed to see the rawness of the tension between the two. She is agressively pushing him to buy a house, while he is convinced they can't afford it and is certain cost is just too much of a stretch for them. Anyone who has been involved in a discussion about finances with a spouse - of any intensity - can see this one of many power struggles between the pair. And she seems to be used to winning. Just when we think he's been handed his dignity on a platter in the privacy of his home we discover the agent has been listening in on the speaker phone the entire time. With just a few words she takes the air out of any defense he had left by siding with the wife. You actually feel bad for the fellow. He never had a chance. You're convinced they've just agreed to be "house poor" for the next 30 years. Jim and I were horrified when we first saw it. I was glad to see that Seth and his readers felt the same way.

Both ads are emotionally gripping. But "The Big Move" makes great strides toward building our trust in real estate agents - which is the point of the campaign. "The Debate" seems to undermine the value of the agent by portraying her as an opportunist preying upon the weakness of a husband during an intense discussion. This isn't what Century 21 set out to demonstrate - and it is not an image agents need reinforced. With "Zillow killers" popping up monthly, the campaign is designed to remind us of the wisdom and value professional real estate agents can provide. Let's hope the marketing team at C21 is picking up on the negative press for The Debate and replaces the spots with a more effective sales tool.

Blogs Multiply Your Marketing Efforts

Here is an example of the principles behind blog marketing.

It actually doesn't use a blog, so you don't have to say the word blog if you don't want to.

Bill Tancer at Hitwise, one of my RSS reads, found the term Golden Spruce was the 9th ranked search one day.

He had not clue what a Golden Spruce was, so he searched himself and found out it had to do with the NBC Treasure Hunters Show. NBC works with Ask.com (who is trying to improve their ranking as a search engine) to provide clues for the Treasure Hunt. It's a great way to leverage the internet, television, and individual enthusiasts to mutliply the effect of branding and marketing.

Of course, a rising tide lifts all boats.

As a sidenote, I went off on a tangent during my wild goose chase. Searching on Amazon I found that a book, The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant was released in the paperback the same week that searches for golden spruce spiked. Could be a coincidence or perhaps a clever product placement by John's publisher.
Learning to take advantage of those coincidences is the key to blog marketing. Everything a company does can be magnified with blogs, even if that is as simple as posting your best commercials on a website vlog (video log).

If you're small, your direct mail, newspaper, and television advertisements should be linked - at your blog, allowing you to extend the impact of your marketing, and provide a place for people to send your best pieces to their friends.

Consumers swap music and television choices with their friends. Don't you think they'd send out clever advertisements?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sunsilk rescues us from "More splits than a Vegas divorce court"

The Sunsilk campaign is in full effect. In addition to this week's "coming out" party for the Hairapy guys, the commercials are hard to miss. What really got our attention was the unmistakable voice of Mario Cantone in this spot.

Since we last wrote about it, the trio has somehow become a foursome. Not that the Unilever campaign needed it, but Mario's snarkiness will certainly bring some additional cache to the otherwise unknown group. The Sex and the City star is being billed as "the original" hairapy guy. (But of course.)

For some real fun don't miss this 'anti-flat spot made for theaters.

Friday Roundup

Gather round the laptop with the audio on, folks. Here are the fun findings from the week of advertising for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
  • Is 'Samantha Jones' too risque for our Kiwi friends? They've pulled her clever Nissan spot in New Zealand.
  • Speaking of down undah'...see what those blokes at Virgin Mobile are up to in the Aussie market.
  • Is your denim too flimsy? Get a look at these tough jeans.
  • Prefer to be serenaded while you eat your Snickers? So does this fellow.
  • We love playing Risk. (who doesn't love the concept of global domination?) Saatchi & Saatchi bring us this promotional campaign for the game. We especially like the entourage...
  • Dipping way back in the ad arsenal... the original iPod ad. Just because.

How to Avoid Click Fraud

So you're contemplating spending a couple of thousand on a Google Adwords campaign, or Overture, or maybe you're signing up for Adsense hoping it brings in the big bucks.

Good for you. Monetizing your blog and trying online marketing is a great step in learning how to interact with an online audience. We wish you the best of luck.

But what about Click Fraud? Word on the street is Click Fraud is growing, which means all of those people you think are going to your site are actually sucking dollars out of your pocket and giving nothing in return.

Exhibit A: eMarketer.com says Click Fraud increased to over 14% last quarter, and for high-dollar keywords, the ClickFraud is over 20%.

The problem with ClickFraud is you should see it coming. There is no such thing as cheap and easy in this world, and purchasers of Google Ad Words (or any other PPC) who think you can just plop your credit card down and POOF! here comes the profit probably shouldn't be in a position to be spending company money.

Ad campaigns can work, for the right products. If they are monitored and managed by people with a record of success, you will greatly increase your chances of success. But there is no guarantee.

What I don't understand is why small businesses and niche players aren't tapping into comprehensive strategies for their online presence.

Compare the following companies over a six month period, each with $25,000 to spend:

Company A:
  1. Selling Widgets through Adwords, Budget of $30,000.

Company B:
  1. Selling Widgets through Adwords. Budget of $10,000
  2. Started a professionally designed blog, updates daily. Built a community of 100 similar sites discussing the Widget industry. ($6,000)
  3. Launched a Blog Ad Campaign putting their logo and an ad on 30 sites targeted at their demographic. ($2,000)
  4. Sends out newsletter about new trends in widgets. Builds subscriber list of 5,000 customers. ($12,000)
  5. Reporters pick up blog and newsletter and do a high-profile story on new media communication strategy
At the end of six months, Company has spent $30,000 and has made some sales, but $5,000 was wasted through Click Fraud. Now that six months has passed, they have to spend another $30,000 to generate new results. There's another problem. Company C has joined in, so the cost to generate the same result is now $40,000.

Company B, on the other hand, has built a self-sustaining community of referrals, has trained their staff on how to interact with the online world, and for less than $15,000 can maintain their same level of leads.

This is the fundamental problem facing companies planning on joining the online world today.

Company A only has to write a check to get results, but those results cost more each year. Agencies love Company A because it's the least amount of work.
Gone are the days where you ask someone to build a website and sit back to wait for the results.

Company B has built a community, which means feedback, referrals, better SEO, a voice in the community, and the ability to push information out to the mainstream media.

1) Who will be successful in 2-5 years
2) which company would you prefer to work for?
Don't be a Company A. Let us show you how.

-Jim Durbin
Director, Corporate Communications.
jdurbin@durbinmedia.com

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Master of Your Domain

WSJ featured a fascinating article yesterday about domain names ending in .com. The piece detailed the findings of Dennis Forbes, a fellow who (by some means) obtained the complete listing of all 47 million registered dot-coms.

I've been online for years. I can still remember when you searched the web by typing in domain names directly. Yes...there was a time before Google and Yahoo and MSN... Anyway, I used to be somewhat of a domain squatter myself, buying up small bits of digital real estate as best I could. At one time it was actually possible to type in a common noun (such as 'business') and find that domain available.

It's no surprise that catchy domains are no longer available. All 1000 of the top English words are taken. Every possible two and three character combination is gone (numbers and letters combined). Almost every four letter word is taken (yes, even those). But the question is - does it matter? We no longer rely on domains being logically named, we have come to expect search engines, blogs and advertisers to do our dirty work for us and help us find these unusually named sites. You no longer have to claim your online space as eMyBusiness.com to be discovered (that's 'so 1997' of you). Nor does it have to - in any way - make reference to what you do (Meebo anyone?).

At some point the collective 'we' that is the web lost all need for logical names and bought up whatever domain names we could. Much of this was born out of necessity but it also coincided with the explosive growth of online communities. At a very specific point we stopped being literal and began our foray into the absract. Josh from Firewheel wrote about this way back in December, highlighting the concentric circles of 2.0 names. When we regularly visit sites named Kiko and Squidoo - what's next? Will the pendulum ever swing back to names my mother can remember?

While we'd like to think so it is not likely - and judging by our behaviour, not necessary. Following the old "if you build it they will come" mentality, businesses and individuals alike are snatching up digital real estate with little regard for complexity or pronunciation of names. Instead, we're making haikus, full sentences or questions out of them. Take "did you know that you can only have sixty three characters in a domain name.com" and "Tell Me Girlfriend" for example.

Long story short, if you haven't bought the domain of your full name (or business) yet, grab your AmEx and snag it before someone else does and builds a pr0n site there for you. And if you're naming your new business and want a site with that name, be prepared to add a few vowels to it or go long (63 characters to be exact). If cultural patterns are any indication, just have fun with it, put out a good service, great content and we'll find you. Thank goodness for technorati and google.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dell Just Can't Catch a Break

Coming on the heels of a disappointing blog launch, Jackie Huba catches a story on ZDNet that says the Dell blog: http://www.one2one.dell.com has an unfortunate doppelganger one2one.com. which is a pr0n site.

No, I didn't link the adult site, but I bet they've been checking out their traffic stats lately.

Dell's blog strategy has come under fire, and the word has been we're supposed to hold off for two weeks to give them a chance to catch their breath. Wouldn't it be better if Dell has shelled out some money to blog consultants, or at least reached out to different bloggers to check out their strategy before launching? There is a difference between Joe Blogger starting a site and Dell doing so - Dell is paying hundreds of millions in salary to marketing, PR and IT folks who should be up to date on how to launch any marketing program.

The problem is simple - many large corporations just can't get it through their heads haven't fully realized that a business blog is a project - one that should be managed and allocated sufficient funding like any other project.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Charmin Uses 'Bathroom Humor' In Viral Video

Charmin's UK marketing firm is having a bit of fun with their latest viral video seen here on A Little Bit Rude. Rather than keeping it clean, our friends across the pond made good use of the many euphemisms for what happens behind closed doors. Some are so subtle, you may need to watch it twice. If that wasn't enough, customers are invited to submit their own phrases and vote for their favorites. Not to be missed: Hall of Fame.

Blogs, Blogs, everywhere and not a Drop to Drink

eMarketer has a good article on the growth of blogs into the mainstream, defined as actual audience in addition to those who publish.

We're big fans of the blogging medium, obviously, and the numbers are encouraging, but we can't help but to think that companies are really missing the boat.

Company blogs are still boring, irrelevant, unconnected and for the most part, worthless. Companies are rushing to add blogs, but aren't taking the time to understand what they can be used for. This is the point where we would normally insert an advertisement for our services, but this isn't about us - it's about a social phenomenon that can no longer be ignored or shunted aside. Just check out the numbers and you can see that blogs are worming their way into the DNA of the culture.

Let's go back to the article and finish the post with a juicy quote from the eMarketer article,

"Perhaps more importantly, in a very real way blogs are an indication of how the Internet is shifting from a medium where users gather information into a medium where they disperse information. Willy-nilly the web is tranforming itself into a democracy, a community of millions of voices and opinions."
There's a saying about the US Marines: No better friend, no worse enemy. I think we're reaching a point where blogs can start adopting the phrase as their own.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lying to Your Customers is Bad Customer Service

One of the worst trends in customer service is lying to your customers about information you gather on them.

Retailers often use the point-of-sale to gather demographic information on their customers, linking zip codes, addresses, names, even social security numbers to purchases to help them determine how to sell more with targeted advertising.

I understand this - and if I want to join the Best Buy Rewards program or get a Macy's credit card, I know I have to fork over that information.

Privacy statements don't make me feel better, considering I've received three letters this year alone stating laptops wit hmy information were stolen from employees of these companies, but there's not much I can do about it if I want access to credit.

At the same time, when a company asks for my phone number or address or e-mail or any of the other bits of information they need, I don't feel it's my duty to give them accurate information. Especially when they lie.

There are at least two retailers I know of with false information on their privacy statements. Linens and Things and SteinMart both request your phone number at the counter when you make a purchase. It doesn't matter if you're purchasing with cash, credit or check - sales associates are trained to ask for your phone number to enter into the computer.

When you ask why, these sales associates point you to a sign that gives several reasons why they need your phone number. One of those reasons, is to be able to send you sales and new announcements.

Every time I see that sign, I get angry. It would take a very great fool of a marketing director to make a sign that says these stores will send me information if I give them my phone number. The intention is clear - they want you to feel like giving them your phone number will help you get a deal - but no deal is coming - it's a useless piece of information that can only harm you, and I'm astounded that Linens and Things and Steinmart, and many other retailers, think their customers are so stupid they won't figure it out.

Customer Service 101 - Don't tell lies to your customers.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Franki's Fun Friday Roundup

It's Friday, so let's have some fun and hightlight some of the more, shall we say, 'unusual' findings of the week from advertisers:

That'll do it for the weekly roundup. Have a great weekend. We'll catch you back here on Monday.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Question of Ethics in a Blawg: Matt Homann

Matt Homann, the St Louis blawgger behind LexThink and the non-billable hour is facing a sticky situation worth discussing.

In April 2004, he wrote a post critical of Legal Match, a company that matches possible clients with lawyers. After writing the post, he engaged in a discussion with LegalMatch employees, and discovered he liked the company, but disliked their sales tactics.

After a series of posts on the matter, he updated the links, and actually joined the board of directors for Legal Match. Case closed, right?

Well, his contact just left LegalMatch for their closest competitor, CasePost, and Matt has been invited to join the new board of directors at Casepost.

Matt's question was how he should address the problem of the Legal Match posts when he is not firmly attached to both companies in the minds of his readers. What is the ethical thing to do?

The comments are now closed, but I think Matt did the best thing. He openly described the problem, addressed the issue, and is offering to put a disclaimer on all posts pertaining to Legal Match.

As bloggers go mainstream, their position as individuals expressing opinions changes to that of paid consultants. The problem is not what was said in the past, but rather if the behavior and viewpoint of the blogger changes when money or publicity is injected.

Good for Matt for airing the question, and we wish him the best in his attempts to walk that line.

Flaws in Reporting on the Nielsen Study: More People Listen to Radio than Write Newspaper Columns

An interesting story line from ClickZ on a recent Nielsen report.

The title is Report: Downloading Podcasts more Popular than Blogging.

More people have downloaded a podcast lately than have published a blog or engage in online dating, according to a new study by Nielsen//NetRatings.

The study, based on data from its @Plan Summer 2006 release, found that 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population, or 9.2 million Web users, have downloaded an audio podcast in the past 30 days. It also found that 4.0 percent, or 5.6 million Web users, have recently downloaded a video podcast.

By comparison, Nielsen//NetRatings' data shows that 4.8 percent of the U.S. adult online population publish blogs, and 3.9 percent engage in online dating. Those activities still lag far behind online job hunting, at 24.6 percent, and paying bills online, at 51.6 percent.
There's one major problem that leaps out - downloading a podcast has nothing in common with publishing a blog. I struggle to come up with a comparison, but the best one I could think of was a headline that says,

More people listen to the radio than write newspaper columns.

The headline is misleading, meant to make the Nielsen study make comparisons it doesn't appear to make. Maybe my copy of the press release is the wrong one, but it should be clear that downloading podcasts is comparable to reading blogs. Creating podcasts is similar to publishing blogs.

I don't know if it's the editor, the writer, or someone else - but that's a terrible headline.

The pdf of the press release is available at the nielsen site under press releases.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Forget the Fab Five. Unilever Brings Us the Terrific Trio.

Unilever believes they have unlocked the key to the female hair care market: the gay best friend. You know what? I think they may be right.

Researchers spent months getting into the mind of the 20-something female to discover how to best introduce the Sunsilk line of hair care products to the US market. Sunsilk is the #2 selling brand in the UK but is relatively unknown in the states. To hit the ground running, Unilever marketers began research at the grassroots level: malls and bars. Researchers logged hours of barhopping and shopping with over 500 young women paying special attention to their conversations. In the process they discovered something: Women are much more likely to trust advice from 'Will' than input from 'Grace'. Speaking as a woman with a male hairdresser, I have to admit I agree with their findings.

Over the next year, as Unilever tries to unseat Pantene from the #1 shampoo slot, Robbie, Ethan and Micah will be there to help you. Judging by the web site, I'd say the upcoming campaign has the potential to be be fun and fierce. The effort is slated to borrow from the successful Dove campaign which features real women flaunting their features (and flaws).

At the root of the campaign is trust. We trust people who we deem as having our best interests at heart. We trust people like ourselves. Unilever is investing $200M on the product launch. They are banking on young women trusting three unknown males over a popular celebrity female. Smart. Although the product will have to prove itself worthy, the gay friend approach will surely strike a chord with women of all ages.

While we wait for the trio to deliver their fierce wisdom upon us, sign up for free samples.

Working From Home and Blogging About It

This week's LinkedIn BlogBoost is eMoms at home, a blog about starting and running a successful home business.

The blog is run by Wendy Piersall, and she describes the difficulties and triumphs of building a succesful online business.

She just recently went through a number of hosting and domain changes, and in good blogger fashion, gave us the lowdown on what she did, what it cost, and choices she made for CMS.

There are a number of ways to handle a domain change and the resulting loss in traffic and link influence, but it's a lot like taking off a band-aid. It's better to do it quickly and know it's going to hurt.

As a small business owner and blogger, Wendy is now faced with the tough task of rebuilding traffic without offending readers that she would do something as crass as building traffic. It's a balance, but from what I've read, it looks like she'll do just fine.

Congratulations, Wendy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Real Bloggers of Genius

It's hard to live in the home of Anheuser-Busch and not love AB's "Real Men of Genius" campaign. The silly radio spots have been around for years. We particularly like the backup singers who chime in for the chorus. Hard to believe there's a guy out there who called home to mom telling her he'd just had his big break into show business.

It was only time before someone came up with a clever version of the spots for bloggers. Enter: Mike Manuel. I discovered his very funny blog today, and uncovered this twist on the campaign. If you've attended a conference lately you'll definitely relate to the pain Mike felt while writing the lyrics. Great stuff. Special thanks to Brian Oberkirch who created the audio version.

Keep up the good stuff, Mike. We love it.

Vox and other Tidbits.

Typepad just sent me an invitation to their new blogging medium, VOX. We signed up and are eager to find out how it works.

We don't use Typepad for this blog - but I use it for StlRecruiting.com and a couple of other blogs. Here's a little about Vox - it seems we were chosen because we've been using typepad/Movable Type for over a year (technically, three, but whose counting?).

Also - although we are not cat bloggers, and we will never be cat bloggers, I wanted to point out that if you learn to refer to the weight of your feline friend in kilos instead of pounds, people don't look so shocked.

Also - if you apply yourself, you can fit a 7 foot tree into a 5 foot car.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Changing our Brandstorming Feed over the Weekend

UPDATE: The Feed name was taken by someone else. We will not be able to make the changes

Our RSS feed will still be http://feeds.feedburner.com/durbinmedia/PcrT.

Sorry about the mix-up.

Blogging Is Like Golf

Blogging is like golf.

If you don't play golf, you can't understand why these crazed people spend five hours chasing a ball around with a stick.

If you don't play golf, the language makes no sense. What's a driver? A chip? A scorecard? Why would you lay up? Who wants to hit the green?

If you don't play golf, you'll never understand the passion behind the game, which would make you a pretty poor salesman of golf clubs, no? Non-golfers definitely don't try to correct your swing.

It's the same with blogs. Non-bloggers may be able to give you some tools, but they don't understand the medium.

If your agnecy doesn't blog, the language makes no sense. What's a trackback? Can I moderate comments? Someone asked for a reciprocal link - Do I have to give it to them? Why isn't anyone reading my blog? How do I track sales with this thing? Sitemeter or StatPro? Should I use GoogleAds? What's a carnival? What's dooced?

The problem is blogging looks easy, so agencies (PR/Marketing/Advertising) on retainer get asked to start a blog, and they figure, "Hey, how hard can it be?"

Questions to ask your Agency when you want a Blog.

1) Do you have a blog? How many unique visitors do you have and how long has it been up?
2) Have you ever designed a blog before?
3) Can you give me a successful example of a blog you built for a customer?
4) How much work do I have to do to make this work? Are you going to write it?
5) What community are you going to connect me to? Can you give me links of people I want to read?

If they can't answer these questions, they can't help you with a blog. You're better off on your own. Of course, you could just call us. If you don't like our prices, we'd be happy to pass you on to other people who might help.

If your advertising/marketing/PR company offers to set you up on a blog, please, please, PLEASE check their website out to see if they are blogging.

If a developer offers to design you a blog, check their site to see if they have one!

Durbin Media

Friday Miscellaneous

Mark Baratelli added a link to Brandstorming, I wanted to return the favor, but also point out - hey, it's the first MySpace Blog I've ever linked!

Also, Jeremiah has migrated his blog over to a new domain, Web-Strategist.com/blog Jeremiah is one smart cookie, and he gives more good advice away for free than half the blogging consultants out there charge for.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Amsterdam's Million Dollar Building

The Sandberg Institute has created a new 'artvertising' opportunity: selling the facade of their building as ad space. Located in the heart of Amsterdam's business district, the institute decided to copy the apply the model of the Million Dollar Homepage to the offline world. Claiming to be "the greatest possibility for advertisement on the edge of culture and economy" the school has drawn support from the likes of Nike, Apple and Mercedes-Benz to name a few.

Thanks The Cool Hunter

Papa John's uses "peephole" marketing

Adverblog shows us Quorum/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi's award winning approach to direct marketing for Papa John's. Instead of the status quo mailers we're used to receiving, the agency embarked on a deliciously clever concept. The idea? A cardboard cutout ad that attaches to the outside of your front door that looks remarkably like a pizza delivery boy standing outside with your sausage, pepperoni & green pepper pizza. It's a very playful approach to direct marketing. Thumbs up for Q/NS&S.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sometimes it Really Is Just Marketing

I wish that commercials like these would be purchased and sent around my television. If commercials were as funny as Hunter, we'd never skip them on Tivo.

Apple commercial spoof: Crash Different

Employer Branding and Social Media

Gautam Ghosh is the best known Indian blogger in Online Employment space. We know Gautam from our work in the recruiting world, but he's also attached to the LinkedIn Users Group.

This week we're giving Gautam a boost for his post on employer brands being affected by social media. His post has the graphic an employee made complaining about his last employer

It's not only blogging that is changing and moulding employer branding and perception. Social software like Orkut are also inexorably making their mark on employees sharing their perception with prospective employees.
Are employer brands changing, or is it sufficiently rare that we are drawn to the few instances where it makes a difference. In my opinion, employees turn down companies because of what they read on blogs in only a few cases, but like getting fired for blogging, it's a story that resonates.

That's changing. Social Media is about transparency, and employment is one of the main touchpoints for most companies. Your employees and your prospective employees form a large part of your presence in a marketplace.

I get about an e-mail a month asking me about employment with my last employer, and I've done a lot of work to conceal my relationship with them since I left. That was five months ago. I don't have any problems with my last employer, but if I did, how would they know what I said? Now multiply that effect on the internet, and you could have a big problem.

What we need are case studies. Good question, Gautam.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fake Blog and Fake Comment Search

I found a blog that sure looks fake, and just happens to talk about PayPerPost.com

http://kidddynamite.blogspot.com

The first post has the logo, and the second one is pitching Spiderman 3, hoping to sign up and get paid.

It launched the same day as PayPerPost, but I'll wager it's not written by Kid Dynamite.

Is this a fake blog authored by the folks at MindComet?

If you are a blogger and are receiving positive comments about PayPerPost, check your IP's. Share them with other bloggers, and let's see if Ted Murphy is trying to create false buzz about his product.

Anyone want to put $5 on it?

MindComet uses PayPerPost.com to improve SEO results

PayPerPost offers small amounts of money to bloggers to write very small advertisements for their clients. Does that make any sense?

In my opinion, the PayPerPost.com experiment is about Search Engine Optimization, not marketing or branding.

Companies can generate 30-day links from bloggers for the price of $5. This has been done in a myriad of ways for other companies, but what makes this so bad is the advertisements look like posts and don't have to be disclosed.

If bloggers are disclosing the posts, they're ruining their reputation for very little money. SEO companies will pay high-ranked blogs a lot more for links.

If bloggers are not disclosing the posts, they're posting false information for profit, which Ted Murphy admits is not what they're suggesting.

Another fun set of questions:

Are the comments on the PayPerPost.com blog real or fake? (Most are anonymous)
When you see a comment or a blog praising PayPerPost, is it real or fake?
When you see a post from a well-known blogger praising PayPerPost, is it real, or fake?
How can you trust anything you see on PayPerPost.com when Ted is now offering people $5 for their opinion through the service?

This is a Pay-Per-Link SEO-goosing project that furthermore requires you to put your social security number on their site.

More Reading:


ZDNet, Tech Crunch, Jeremiah, Naked Conversations, BusinessWeek, Marianne Richmond (STL)

6 reasons PayPerPost.com is a Bad, Bad, Bad Idea

I wrote several posts about PayPerPost.com yesterday, sending traffic to with a link, and that got me thinking about what Ted Murphy is really up to. This isn't about marketing, it's about SEO, and it's a poorly disguised attempt.

Reasons PayPerPost.com is going to fail miserably

Reason #1: The posts have requirements of only 20-50 words, which is just a sentence or two, but the post has to stay active for 30 days. That's not a paid advertisement, it's a paid link.

Reason#2: $5 a post is not real money. To make $5,000, you'd have to write and be approved for 3 posts a day for a year. The time needed alone says this is not scalable. It's low-budget link-buying pitched as advertising. Any altruistic attempts to pretend this is to help pay rent stretches credibility to the breaking point - especially when Ted is now claiming on high-traffic blogs that is helps unemployed mothers buy food!

Reason #3: Why would a company pay for an advertisement? What is the value to them? Supposedly, bloggers are already writing positive comments about the products they like. PayPerPost says they are trying to give money to bloggers that are already writing about a product. If they're already writing about a product, why would the company pay more?

The system Ted has set up, in fact, is geared towards shills who will make very little money lying about products to make a little more. Anyone with high levels of traffic who accepts this money will quickly be found out and labeled a pariah. It's destined to be a low-budget, microblogger scam.

Reason#4: The ads are the ones we hate. Dating services, debt relief, several properties for Mindcomet (including their SEO blog), and hotchicks the tshirt service. Real companies with real brands won't come near this when they realize how nasty the reaction is from the larger blogosphere.

Reason #5: Bloggers are already up in arms about it. TechCrunch and BusinessWeek have attacked it. When the July 4th holiday is over, this will get another boost. Those of use who make our living pitching viable sites and working with companies can't allow PayPerPost to be left out there without commenting. It taints all of us.

Reason #6: Ted Murphy is out in the comments of blogs trying to perform damage control. He thinks this is about any press is good press. He's going to find out that's not true in social networks.

How many fake blogs has he created?