Saturday, March 18, 2006


All Marketers are Liars video

Video of presentation by Seth Godin (website), author of All Marketers are Liars (among other things), given at the Google Complex. See the original video here.

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Tell a story
Seth makes a number of good points about online and product marketing and, indirectly, the nature of Web 2.0. The most significant thing you will walk away with is a better grasp of the “story” nature of effective online word of mouth campaigns. Virtually every successful Web 2.0 product has found success based almost exclusively upon the buzz they generated through blogs and places like They did this by telling a story.

In fact, they weren't successful because they had the best layout or the best technology, they were successful because they were the first one in their niche to get their “story” right.

37 signals
One of the best examples of this is a little company by the name of 37signals, makers of Basecamp and Backpack (among others). The reality is that their products aren't particularly new or profound (just don't try and tell that to a 37siginals evangelist) but they were the first people in their particular niche to get the story right. People are sold on it. Now when they release a new product there are hundreds of bloggers and early adopters who rush to try it out, review it, and tell all their friends about it. You can't buy that kind of publicity.

Brand is meaningless
One of the interesting by-products of this new kind of story based marketing is that brand is relatively meaningless. A clear example of this can be seen each time one of the big three (Yahoo, Google, and MSN) introduce a new product. While it is easy for them to create some buzz and get a bunch of initial signups, they've had increasing difficultly converting enough power users to make it a success.

An example of this trend is when Yahoo launched MyWeb 2.0 to mixed results before turning around and buying Google also launched Base which is, to date, a spam filled poor man's craigslist (and you thought craigslist was the poor man's craigslist). Why can't these big companies muscle in and take over these markets with all of their marketing dollars and dedicated programmers?

The simple reason is that early adopters and power users are much less interested in technology than they are in being a part of something unique or meaningful. A story is something that makes you feel a certain way when you use a product. You're using something cutting edge (even if you're not), you're fighting the man (even if the website is actively trying to get bought out by the man), you're part of an elite club of users who read the product's blog and enthusiastically share your (probably meaningless) opinion.

Character based advertising
After watching the video and doing some extensive reading on online startups, I'm really excited to start focusing on marketing based around persons or characters. A classic example of this is Jared Fogle, who become the face of Subway after losing over 200lbs in a year. Other great examples include Craig from craigslist, Sergey Brin and Lawrence E. Page from Google, Steve Jobs from Apple, and, of course, the Donald. On any level I think that getting power users to adopt early and sell your product to their friends will have a lot more to do with creating compelling story and personality than being first to market or even best in market.

Although, on the other hand, retired Jeeves because he clearly wasn't pulling his own weight. Now is a serious search and research platform for adults, not simply a cartoon character. At least, that is the story they tell.

Monday, March 13, 2006


URL naming and search engines

"How important is it to have the product name or
description in the URL? Is it important, borderline,
or not important?" - Chris

The understanding I came away from the people at this
years Search Engine Strategies conference was that it
is really important to put information in the URL.
Google (at least) uses it as one of the factors in
determining page rank. I think it is more valuable if
your website domain contains the key term, but file
name is important too. Also, don't forget that people
can see the URLs. As I understand it, some folks did
some tests using google adwords where they showed ads
using just the normal domain name ( and then
showed a url using the domain plus keyword
( The one with the keyword in the URL
had the better click rate.

Hope this helps!

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