Sunday, June 29, 2008

Zappos CEO- Big shoes to fill

Here’s the Zappos follow up I promised you.

The backstory is a recent posting you can view here or continue reading the short and sweet version.

I came across an article about Zappos paying employees $1,000 to quit their job following training. The ones who stay become the Brand Ambassadors— committed employees who stay, perform and recommend.

I did some follow up research and found a presentation made by Tony— my NBF (new best friend) and also the CEO. At the end of the presentation, he said anyone who wants a culture book could send him an email. I did.

Here’s what I wrote (please indulge me my sales pitch— I’m an entrepreneur)
“I love your site. I love your culture. (And great shoes help.) I develop marketing and communications that support the attraction and retention of talent and if you ever need a hand- please count me in. Thanks,”

I also started following him on Twitter, http://twitter.com/zappos, and saw that he was in London.

Guess what! Tony wrote me back within hours and said
Hi Jody,
It's a physical book so I just need your mailing address...
Re: attracting/retaining talent, I've cc'd Christa who heads up our recruiting department and she will be following up with you!

Not only did the book come, following an awesome email from someone in shipping inviting me on a tour of the facility any time i’m in Vegas, but the call from Christa came along with a potential opportunity to assist them with their employee communications!

So, operationally, externally and internally, ZAPPOS goes from A to Z, or in actuality Z to A in living ther brand!

Great job Tony and friends.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Where Pepsi Lost The Fizz


I wish I was Pepsi’s website- Every 2 years it gets a facelift.

It’s latest iteration, launched in early May, is awesome. Using the latest technology that reminds me of Leopard- the newest Mac OS, it’s streamlined and uber easy to navigate-- and even offers visitors the chance to redesign its can. More impressive— we’re given the choice of regular or diet can.

John Vail, director of interactive marketing group for PCNA, Purchase, N.Y. Had this to say- "Lots of assets live on our pages. We wanted to make an easy way to find so consumers don't have to hunt and peck... This is the authentic place to see the brand spots," said Vail.

So, with all the hoopla surrounding the launch, and entertained by the cool music- I couldn’t wait to visit the Careers Site— After all, isn’t a seamless experience the new name of the marketing game??

Boom— I was instantly transported back into the last century — as the static stock photography and thousands of clicks to get to meaningful content overwhelmed me even as the music continued to play.


Even more disappointing, while I didn’t mind having to install the latest version of flash onto my computer, I do very much mind the greeting that I got when attempting to search for jobs.


Apparently at Pepsi, though diversity is in

– Firefox is not.

Consumers may not have to hunt and peck, but job seekers using Firefox do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

That's Enough About Me

One Reason Women Don’t Make It to the C-Suite
 

OK.  It’s graduation, Father’s Day and another sunny Sunday— maybe instead of inspiration, I save perspiration and discuss this recent article from the Harvard Business Review.

According to Louann Brizendine, MD, the distinct demands that are put on men’s and women’s brains at key career phases may help explain the gender inequality in top management.

Many women are sidelined, ultimately, by a timing issue.

There’s a certain age, long established by large organizations, at which professionals must decide to make their play for the big promotion—the one that will put them in line for the C-suite—and while it’s a good time for men, it’s not a good time for women.

That go-for-it moment typically comes in one’s forties, when managers have gained the knowledge and perspective needed to take on real stewardship of a business. But at that phase of life, women with children already have a lot on their plates. Not only are they usually expected to handle the lion’s share of responsibility on the home front (even when both members of a couple hold full-time jobs), but their own brain chemistry makes it hard for them to do otherwise. For reasons important to the survival of the species, women in childbearing years undergo changes that intensify their focus on the viability of offspring. It’s a passing phenomenon, but ill-timed for those with career ambitions.

It’s not the quantity of care required that taxes the brain, however, so much as the unpredictable need for care.

When any decision maker’s brain function is overburdened, the result is stress, and nothing taxes the brain more than unpredictability.  

People coping with heightened levels of unpredictability rarely go looking for even more ways to mix it up.  

Ironically, if the same call came a few years later, many women would seize the opportunity. The very woman who could not find the capacity to green-light her own promotion in her forties can be, in her fifties, ready to take on the world.

No surprise that it is that exact time that I founded BRANDEMiX.

Predictable success.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Who's Starry Now?

This was supposed to be my Zappos pt.II post but a funny thing happened to me on the way to the shoe store... sorry Tony. Next week.

Recently I was asked to give advice to women everywhere about having their own business. For those of you who don't know me, take a peek. For my friends- is it true the camera adds 10 pounds?



Since the launch of BRANDEblog, more than 3 years ago, I have been steadily moving away from musing about the joys and despairs of owning my own business. I think that there's value in the reading, though not necessarily for this audience, so stay tuned for the launch of another blog.

My I'm busy.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Raising the Bar for Web Content


By Anita Campbell

Everyone seems to be creating content on the Web these days. As a small business, you are competing with established media companies for eyeballs -- so you better raise the quality.

Back in the dinosaur days of the Web, it used to be that you could write an article, get a few of your friends to link to it, and voila -- you could “own” a topic. You could become the authoritative source for that subject, at least for awhile.

In reality, maybe it was neverthat simple.  But even so, back in the day when we had less content, it was a whole lot easier for your content to stand out on the Web.

Somewhere along the line, things changed.  It crept up on us.  I’m not exactly sure when I noticed it -- maybe a year ago, maybe longer? But now we seem to have a glut of content.

And with that glut of content, it is becoming harder to new create content that attracts the links, get visitors, and gets in the search engine rankings using the same old approaches.

Content has become easier to create

Blogs, podcasts, photos, and online video are now within the grasp of millions.  It’s gotten a whole lot easier for individuals and small businesses to create content.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch speaks about the explosion of content:

“Back in 2000 it was fairly hard to do things like write a blog, publish photos (don’t even think about videos back then), or share bookmarks. Today, all that stuff is easy….”

To top it off, media outlets increasingly put their material on the Web and make it available for free.  So you may not only be competing against other bloggers, but against newspapers, the Associated Press, cable TV networks, magazines, and other media. Add it all up and that’s a lot of content!

As content becomes commoditized

Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 also writes about the glut of content in The Declining Value of Redundant News Content on the Web.  He uses the example of Microsoft’s withdrawal of its bid to acquire Yahoo, noting that Google at one point was tracking over 2000 stories on the topic.

He says it is a zero sum game for attention. There is finite demand for content on a particular topic.  For every time one version of content gets read, it means another version is not getting read.

The end result, he contends, is that the more content there is, the less value that individual content has -- it becomes commoditized.

He is talking about news and media outlets. But you could say the same concept applies to a small business with a blog or podcast.

Just look around at some of the blog content you see.  For example, top 10 lists abound.  Do a search in Google for “top 10” and you get over 261 million results.

There’s the top 10 spammers, the top 10 strategic technologies for 2008, the top 10 cyber security menaces…. Time magazine even put together a compilation of 50 of the top 10 lists. Just how many top 10 articles do we need?  Better question:  just how many top 10 articles will people read?

Don’t get discouraged -- get creative

If you are a blogger or a small business owner trying to stand out on the Web inexpensively using original content, right about now you may be feeling discouraged.

Don’t be.

My point is not to make you get all depressed and chuck it all.  Rather, I simply suggest you allocate a portion of your writing time to strategizing to create content that is original enough to stand out today.  Before you put pen to paper (er, fingers to keyboard), think about how to be original, so that you can meet the higher bar today.  The bar has gotten higher for quality Web content, but it’s not impossibly high.    

As Rex Hammock writes, that there’s always demand for quality and originality:

“If you help me get to the information and insight I need to live a fuller life or conduct business in a more flexible and productive way, your blogging … does not burden me. Useless, redundant, meaningless, re-shuffled drivel is the burden. It can be delivered via print or on a weblog or a mobile device. Crap is a burden no matter what the medium used to deliver it.”

These days you may have to give your blog posts a little more thought in order to be creative and come up with something new and different that stands out -- and that is not “useless, redundant, meaningless, re-shuffled drivel” to use Rex’s words.

How to stand out

The way to stand out with your content today is to be original.  Be different. Easier said than done, right?  Not really. I offer three ways to do that:

   1. Focus on topic niches, rather than general topics.  Before you write that “top 10 list of marketing ideas” do a search in Google and see if there are already articles on that topic.  If so, consider how to make your article different. One good way is to go narrow and deep – because a lot of the broad and general topics have been done to death.  Narrow the topic.  Make it “top 10 marketing ideas for under $5” or “top 10 marketing ideas for home-based landscaping businesses.”
   2. Write about your own experiences.  The one thing that I guarantee has not been written about ad nauseum are YOUR experiences.  Instead of writing on broad topics, write from the perspective of what you have experienced, done, learned, etc.  Only you can write that.  Want an example?  Here is an article I wrote about a true story that happened to me -- it got tons and tons of readers and links:  Hacked: It Could Never Happen to My Site (Famous Last Words).
   3. Add value to the news, don’t repeat it.  Even when writing about current news articles, add value to the basic story, don’t simply regurgitate it.

Jody Ordioni

p/ 212.947.1001
F/ 800.304.4891


Read the latest news and muse at
blog.brandemix.com

jordioni@brandemix.com
BRANDEMiX
Bonding Through Brand Strength



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Who's Starry Now?

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Three Key Determinants of Your Company's Readiness to Plunge Into Social Media

Three Key Determinants of Your Company's Readiness to Plunge Into Social Media
by Lee Erickson

Editor's note: See Lee in person at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Driving Sales: What's New + What Works. Catch her session on "Creating a B-to-B Social Media Strategy: A Guide to Defining It and How Your Company Should Take the Social Media Plunge." Sign up for the event and use promo code ESPK08 to save $200 on the registration fee.

"Three Factors to Consider Before You Jump on the Social Media Bandwagon," the first in this two-part series of articles, talks about your market, your competitor, and your buyer—the three factors to consider when creating a social media strategy.

In this article we'll dive into the fourth factor—assessing your company's readiness, which consists of three key areas: resources, content, and culture.

1. Do you have the resources you need?

Even if you're just monitoring the social-media conversation, you'll need to dedicate time to listen, evaluate what's being said, and share important information with others.

And when you're ready to join the conversation, you'll need a knowledgeable resource that has time to respond in a thoughtful and helpful way, and on a regular basis (at least weekly).

Questions to ask:

    * Who inside my organization is leveraging or participating in social media?
    * What resources or tools are available to monitor destination sites (weekly)?
    * Who is currently responsible for publishing new content for our Web site and customer communications?
    * Can our experts set aside time to share their knowledge on a regular basis? Realistically, how often would they be able to participate? Can they play a roll in defining key issues to be addressed?
    * What PR activities can be leveraged?

What to look for:

    * Identify persons who are already active. They'll be the best in terms of having the passion and understanding the commitment level it takes. They may even be willing to put in some extra hours to get things started.
    * Find out who already produces content for your organization (whitepapers, seminars, or training). Typically, these are your true experts and they're already in the mode of sharing information.
    * If you're communicating on a regular basis with customers and prospects, talk with those responsible about sharing resources and content.
    * If you have an outside PR group, find out if it can create relationships with A-listers and influencers and feed you key industry insights.

2. Can you generate useful content?

Social media is about educating—not selling—the buyer. It's important to evaluate your organization's ability to produce useful educational content on an ongoing basis.

Questions to ask:

    * Is there enough information that management is willing to share, to sustain a long-term conversation?
    * Is there a repository of content from which you can pull or expand content?
    * How does content currently get published? Is it a rigid or flexible process? What role does Legal play?
    * What assets do you have that educate or inform buyers about issues related to the products and services you provide? (We're not talking about traditional product literature or sales/marketing materials.)

What to look for:

    * Determine what content is available and what plans there are for generating new content.
    * Identify upcoming events or speaking engagements that can be used to capture content.
    * Evaluate how easy it is to create and distribute content outside your organization. If there are multiple levels of approvals, you'll need to think about how you can streamline the process.
    * Identify topics that are top-of-mind for your buyers. Then, determine whether you have available resources to address those issues.

3. Is your culture ready for social media?

Finally, it's important to gauge your company's openness toward social media. Management buy-in is key. Without some tolerance for feedback that may be critical of the company, management could shut down the entire initiative at the first sign of negativity.

Questions to ask:

    * How does management view the role of social media for your company? What is management's experience with social media?
    * How comfortable is management with providing details on products, services, strategies, and best-practices in an open forum? What percentage of your content would management consider proprietary?
    * How is your organization leveraging or participating in social media? Do you have internal blogs, wikis, or shared repositories of information? Does your company already collect and respond to employee, customer, or partner feedback?
    * Is the culture able to adapt and change quickly? Is it tolerant of the need to experiment, fail, and learn by trail and error?
    * Is management willing to dedicate a resource (full- or part-time) or some budget to this initiative?

What to look for:

    * If management isn't on board, start monitoring conversations and feeding them insightful information. If you can show them how you can tap into buyers' needs and provide examples of useful conversations going on out there (that you're not part of), you may begin to help them see the relevance of social media to the business.
    * If management is gung-ho, ready to dedicate resources, and sees social media as an opportunity to engage with buyers, then start by listening in and monitoring conversations on destination sites while you're planning out your strategy. Keep management informed about what you're finding, and provide regular updates on progress.

Know your roadblocks and opportunities

By looking at your company's readiness in conjunction with your market, your competitors, and your buyers you'll be able to determine what the potential is (or isn't) for social media, where you should be diving in, and what's a realistic starting place.

If after your assessment you feel one or more of these factors isn't what it should be (and you've determined that social media is appropriate), you can develop specific strategies to address gaps in readiness within your company. Meanwhile, you can be monitoring the conversation and learning from others.

We'd like to know what social media activities you participate in and whether what you do for work is different from what you do for personal use. If you've got two minutes, answer our survey. We'll reveal, at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in June, what we find.