An Argument For Test-Driving: The Best Promotional Tool Is Your Best Content

As I’ve written about before, traditional media is pretty blatant with a lot of their web material.  They want you to watch TV, listen to Radio, or subscribe to Magazines.

So here’s my ideal solution to achieve the goal of getting more people to leave the web and go to a traditional platform…

Give them the content on the web for free.

Using your top content as a hook is the best way to increase the likelihood of a user trying out the traditional media property.  For old-media types, that’s a pretty insane and counter-intuitive idea.  (And that’s probably why not enough media outlets are doing it.)

The prevailing mindset is that if you let people experience the content for free, why would they go to TV, Radio, etc afterwards?  Answer: if you don’t give them a  test drive, they’ll never buy the car.

Audiences have an unbelievable amount of choice and power and everyone is competing for their precious time and attention.  So what’s going to win you new converts?  Ads or amazing content?  You need to give it your best shot.

Here’s how I see the decision tree for a brand new audience member:

OPTION 1

-I come to your site
-I see a promo for a show that grabs my interest
-I click on it and get a generic show description, a 30 second trailer, and information that the show is on TV tonight at 9pm.
-I might make a mental note to watch it tonight, BUT, my guess is that younger audiences especially will just move on to somewhere else on the web where they can consume content.
-Or they’ll search for your show on YouTube or BitTorrent and watch it where you can’t track them or make any money.  They’re GONE.  And they’re not coming back. 
-They came for a test drive, but you wouldn’t give them the keys, so they went to another dealer.

OPTION 2

-I come to your site
-I see a promo for a show that grabs my interest
-I click on it and start watching / listening / reading instantly
-If I like it, I will find out more about the show and likely make an effort to watch / listen / read again. 
-The test drive leads to increased likelihood of a ‘buy.’

Don’t get me wrong – not all of them will convert back to traditional media.  Many of them may greatly prefer your online offering.  And you may not make as much money off of them. But some WILL follow you to traditional media.  And they probably would never have found your traditional platform without the free web content.

There are some serious perks to this strategy:  you’re thinking multi-platform distribution, you’re bringing in new audiences that have never sampled your ‘traditional’ content, you’re setting yourself up for the future, and you’re increasing the odds that new people will end up on your traditional platform.

The win for traditional media is creating a win for audiences on the web.

So don’t use your promotional space to sell the air date and air time on the traditional platform.  If your content is so amazing, let the show sell itself. Make me care.  Make me click. Get me hooked on your program.  Make me want MORE.

And THEN, maybe I will also click on the TV or the Radio.

Have you ever done a test-drive on the web that’s led you to ‘traditional media’ to get more?

10 Reasons Traditional Media Should Use The Tools WE Use

Why doesn’t traditional media like to use the Web 2.0 tools we use?  There are 5 very good answers:

  1. They want total control over their own user experience.
  2. They want a unique user experience that is differentiated from their competitors.
  3. They want to make all the profit from their own content.
  4. They want their content separated from the user-generated masses to ensure it continues to be seen as premium content.
  5. They want to drive traffic almost exclusively to their own website and become a ‘destination’ instead of being just one channel in big, vast, occasionally tough to search YouTube / Flickr universe.

These are VERY valid points.

BUT just to play devil’s advocate…

10 Reasons Why Traditional Media Should Use The Same Tools That Their Audience Uses

  1. Fish Where The Fish Are. The audience has clearly chosen the tools (like Flickr, WordPress, YouTube, etc) that THEY want to use.  Isn’t there a big win for a traditional media company that meets their audiences where they already are?
  2. No Learning Curve. Audiences know how to use the tools and don’t have to deal with usability issues, learn new functionality, etc.  That also means your production staff will be able to learn it and use it easily – HUGE perk.
  3. Best Place To Find New Users. Not only can existing audiences find content on your site, but new users who know nothing about you can stumble onto that content and discover you for the first time on places like Flickr and YouTube. YouTube has 250 million users worldwide.  How many do you have?
  4. Easy To Get User Generated Content. Your users can contribute to your content more easily by using tools that they already use
  5. Easier To Go Viral. Your users can share your content much more easily because the Flickr and YouTube tools are almost always easier to use, with better functionality than traditional media photo and video tools (including embedding, sharing, rating, etc).  And again, on YouTube, 250 million people have easy access to your content.
  6. Is Developing Online Technology Your Core Business? Traditional media often can’t keep up with the development of new technology. Developing the ultimate online video experience is YouTube’s core business and with Google’s bank account behind them, I’m betting that they’ve got serious resources going into the ongoing evolution and development of their player.Can traditional media say the same thing? They don’t have billions of dollars to invest in R&D, web developers, etc.   So MOST traditional media companies work with ‘enterprise’ solution companies who build video players, blogs, commenting, and photo tools that are generic, and more often than not, a wee bit clunky.  And by the time it gets customized and implemented into the infrastructure of a traditional media company, it’s usually out-of-date compared to its online-only rivals.
  7. Save $$$. Media companies can save some serious cash – MUCH less spending on buying, developing, maintaining, supporting tools a media player, a blog engine, photo uploading tools, etc.  Significantly less infrastructure, too.  And if you’re using a public platform, you’re also not paying for bandwidth, which is a considerable expense if your content is popular.
  8. Take Advantage of Community Development And Innovation Instead of Doing It All Yourself. In the case of tools like WordPress, there are large, talented communities developing amazing new plugins, designs, and modifications to the platform that are available for anyone to use.  The wisdom and resources of the crowds will almost always trump the evolution of an internal company product (unless, as is sometimes the case, that is their core business and their core product).
  9. Deliver A Precise Target Audience To Advertisers. When it comes to selling targeted advertising and hitting only the audience you want, who has the best-in-class tools to reach people of a certain age, certain location, speaking a certain language, who have a set of interests that perfectly match your content and have disposable income to spare?  And who can best measure consumption habits and conversions of those people?  The ones who are masters of aggregating and analyzing data.   Google vs a Traditional Media company – there’s no contest.
  10. It’s Going To End Up On YouTube Anyway. Finally, if you don’t use tools like YouTube and Flickr, your audience will put your content up there anyway. (If it’s good…) Wouldn’t YOU rather control the YouTube experience – make it quality, get some revenue from it, track it, etc – instead of letting Johnny in his basement control your YouTube experience?

Content Vs. Distribution

Here’s the big question for Traditional Media that might help answer the question of whether to use existing, popular tools – is your future the content business or the distribution business?

In the past, it’s been both, but today is much murkier.  It’s going to be VERY tough to stay relevant in the distribution business on new platforms.  There are simply too many different platforms and there are industry leaders that control or have access to the pipes on each one of these platforms.

The Future Of Media

The future is pointing to a world where an individual’s content consumption will be personalized through aggregation across a vast variety of content providers.  I don’t necessarily want all my news from one content company, all my comedy from one source, or all my music from one source.

I want a service that can aggregate all my favourite content from a wide variety of content providers, package it nicely, and deliver it all to me in one tidy package.

That doesn’t’ sound like something a traditional media company is set up to do.  (Can they continue to make the amazing content I want to read, watch, and listen to?  Absolutely. But work with other broadcasters?!!? The horror!)

Now Google, on the other hand, sounds like they’d very much like to deliver me that tidy little package. They’ve repeatedly said that they are not in the content creation business.  They’re in the distribution business and they’re in it for keeps.

And if I was a traditional media company, I’d have second thoughts before stepping into the ring with Google.  But that’s just me…

Questions!

I know Hulu is a possible exception  to this line of thinking – are there any other good examples of traditional media companies that are leading the pack with their own technology?

As an audience member, what tools would you prefer to use?

Are there good reasons for traditional media companies to use their own tools?

#motrinmoms Use Blogs & Twitter To Ravage Motrin Brand & Ad Campaign

Earlier this week, I wrote about how companies can no longer control their brand once the web gets hold of it.  Today, there’s a HUGE real life example in action.

Motrin has just launched a new ad campaign aimed at Moms.  It’s a text-based video ranting about the pains and sacrifices of baby-wearing – the use of slings, baby carriers, and any of the other plethora of gizmos to strap an infant to your front or back.

Motrin’s point: we do SO much for our kids, but too often, we forget about the toll on ourselves, especially the back pain that ensues from carrying your young kids around for extended periods of time.  The solution, of course, is their pain-relief product.

Check out the ad for yourself and see what you think…

The response from mommy bloggers on their sites and on Twitter was quick, furious, and ENORMOUS.  It appears to have started just yesterday with a post from Amy at crunchydomesticgoddess.com and a Tweet from Jessica Gottlieb.  In less than 24 hours, it has taken off like wildfire.

It is the number one topic on Twitter with THOUSANDS of Tweets…

It has mobilized an army of mommy bloggers all writing online about it…

It has taken down the Motrin website…

And it has already brought Amy a response from Motrin: they’re going to remove the video from the website immediately, and stop the print campaign as soon as possible, too.

The good news for them is that the first apology letter seems to be earning them early kudos from commenters, many of whom are happy to see them acknowledge the error of their strategy.

Unfortunately for Motrin, the damage has already been done.  In ONE DAY, a brand new, presumably very expensive ad campaign is GONE. It has also caused them enormous damage and will likely irrepairably harm their brand within a significant, vocal, and powerful community.

So what should Motrin do?

  1. Continue to acknowledge they made a big mistake and continue to explain the original intent was to sympathize and empathize with the struggles of motherhood (good start on the letter to Amy!).
  2. Comment on as many of the mommy blogs as possible.
  3. Use Twitter to talk about what they’re doing to fix it.
  4. Set up a Facebook group to allow people to discuss the situation and get feedback on their response and solutions.
  5. Come up with a special offer especially targeted as those offended by the ad.

Right now, I’m pretty confident that the one place that will be increasing it’s consumption of Motrin is… Motrin’s marketing headquarters.  They’ve just lost total control of their brand and are in full-scale damage control mode.

So what’s the lesson from this?  There are lots of them, but the big one for me:

  • Don’t ASSUME you know your audience. If you’re going to speak on their behalf, you should ask them first.  Telling a passionate, devoted group of people that you know exactly what they’re thinking is dangerous and risky.

Motrin could have consulted a team of mommy bloggers or baby-wearers before they made the ad, or at bare minimum, could have held a focus group before launching it.

Beware the power of the web to wreak havoc with your brand…

What do you make of the Motrin controversy?  Are the mommy-bloggers justified in the havoc they have wreaked?  What else should Motrin be doing right now?

Some other blogs analyzing Motrin-mania today:

http://hardknoxlife.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/congratulations-motrin-you-just-proved-why-every-brand-needs-to-understand-social-media/

http://www.trishussey.com/2008/11/16/motrin-tries-to-reach-out-but-gets-hand-bitten-off-by-potential-customers/

http://www.successful-blog.com/1/motrinmoms-the-spectacular-opportunity-to-rise-from-a-colossal/

http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2008/11/16/flash-flood-mom-bloggers-and-motrin/

http://bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/bloomberg_marketing/2008/11/motrin-a-case-s.html

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/allyson-kapin/radical-tech/motrins-pain-viral-video-disaster

http://www.darrenbarefoot.com/archives/2008/11/mommy-bloggers-find-tempest-in-motrins-teacup.html

http://www.miss604.com/2008/11/motrin-mom-video-mishap.html

And here’s one from the Ogilvy PR agency:

http://blog.ogilvypr.com/?p=491.

Book Recommendation: Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott

I’ve just finished reading Don Tapscott’s brilliant new book, Grown Up Digital. Don is one of the co-authors of Wikinomics and has become a leading expert on collaboration, its increasing prominence and its extraordinary value.

Grown Up Digital goes much further than Wikinomics. It’s a detailed and hugely valuable look at the Net Generation – those who are now 18-31 years old.  It looks at how their childhood, skill-set, and world view is unique compared to all previous generations, and it then provides amazing insight into how they are going to change history and the way all of our core institutions function.

From education to politics and from broadcasting to the workplace,  Tapscott provides real, thoughtful, and useful information about what changes are taking place, how to understand those changes, and finally, how to best adapt to them.

At the center of Tapscott’s thesis are 8 core traits of the Net Generation:

  • Freedom
  • Customization
  • Scutiny
  • Integrity
  • Collaboration
  • Entertainment
  • Speed
  • Innovation

By acknowledging each of these traits and designing strategies to enable them, Tapscott clearly shows how we can all help usher in positive change and forward movement (instead of fighting the aspects of this generation that companies, schools, and parents simply don’t understand.)

Here’s who should read this book:

  • Anyone in the media
  • Teachers
  • Executives and managers
  • Parents of kids in this demographic (and younger)
  • Politicians
  • Social activists
  • Web-based businesses

Of course, I’m biased.  I already passionately believe in all of this.  I have tried to put it into practice wherever I’ve been able, I have spoken about it at conferences, and I have written about very similar ideas on this blog.

But this is the first time I’ve read a book that’s laid everything out so clearly and eloquently.  It left me excited, motivated, passionate, and hopeful for the future.  And I want more people to know about it, so please spread the word.

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World (via Amazon)

What’s the one book you’d recommend to your friends, family, co-workers, bosses, and politicians?

You Don’t Control Your Brand. The Audience Does.

Traditional branding is dead. The days of ‘choosing’ your brand and pushing your choice out to passive consumers are gone.  Today, you have to earn your brand.

Thanks to social networking and Web 2.0 tools, you simply can’t ‘control’ a brand by saturating a market with endlessly repeating messages and advertisements.  It’s too easy for your audience to call your bluff, share their views with an enormous number of people, and create the exact opposite impression you were intending.

So how does today’s branding work?  You actually have to provide value for your audience or your customers.  If you give them a stellar experience, they will tell others.  If you give them a bad experience, they will also tell others.   The word of mouth about your content or product IS your brand.

Let’s say you upload 100 music videos and 5 comedy videos to YouTube.  In traditional media thinking, that means that you’re mostly a music service.  However, if only 10 people watch your music videos, but 3 of your comedy videos go viral, to the audience, you’re a comedy company.

The point is, you don’t get to choose. The audience creates your brand with every click of a mouse, every content rating tool they use, every comment they make about your content, and every link they send to their friends.

So forget trying to ‘sell’ people with endless hype.  Focus your energy on building a relationship with them by giving them a terrific experience first.   The days of ‘promising’ a brand are over.  The days of having to deliver on the brand promise are here.

Leadership Lessons of Web 2.0 – Secret #4: Permission To Fail

This is the fourth in a series of posts looking as how aspiring leaders can learn from Web 2.0 practices and theory.

On The Web: On the web, users are accountable for their own behaviours in a community and in most cases, the community will create its own champions and police those who don’t meet community standards. The community will learn from its mistakes and get stronger, faster, better over time.

Take Wikipedia as an example – as most people know, not every entry is 100% factually correct, but the community’s passionate, engaged users they have learned how to correct most of the mistakes themselves.  If Jimmy Wales hadn’t given them this trust, Wikipedia would have faltered early and often and would’ve ended up no better than the Encyclopedia Brittanica or World Book.

Another example of how communities deal with ‘failure’… If Ralph writes a horribly inappropriate comment on Jane’s blog,  Jane’s community (the audience) has several methods of policing itself.  It can chastise the behaviour within the community (in the comments) or it can flag inappropriate behaviour directly to Jane.  The key is that Jane doesn’t necessarily have to be the first one to act every time someone is offensive – in fact, it’s more valuable for Jane to let the community sort out its own problems, because THAT’s what strengthens and defines the community.

As A Leader: In order to build trust and full engagement with your team, you need to be okay with failure, too.  If a team tries something that’s different than the way YOU would have done it and it doesn’t work, you can’t panic and madly reach for the reins again so you can re-assert control.  Just as you trusted the team with the initial idea and execution, you need to trust that the team will learn from its mistakes and get stronger and better from each failure.

And you need to build in mechanisms for the team to deal with problems on its own.  Yes, you still need someone that let’s people ‘flag as inappropriate’ situations that you must solve yourself.  However, as a leader, you can’t solve everyone’s problems all the time.  The team needs to learn to solve its own problems – just like on the web, that’s how the team gets stronger, faster, and better.

It’s not about you.  It’s about your team.

Have you ever succeeded because you’ve been given ‘permission to fail’?

Related Posts:

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #1: Give Up Control

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #2: Engagement

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #3: Be A Valuable Community Member

Leadership Lessons of Web 2.0 – Secret #3: Be A Valuable Community Member

This is the third in a series of posts looking as how aspiring leaders can learn from Web 2.0 practices and theory.

On The Web: Take the example of two different types of bloggers.

Jim has a great looking blog with very compelling content.

Sandra has a basic template blog with relatively average content.

BUT, Sandra has a healthy stream of visitors to her blog every day, while Jim is quickly fading into obscurity.

Why does the mediocre blog win the race?  Because Sandra participates in online communities that are related to the subject matter of her blog.  She comments on other blogs, participates in forum discussions, and generously helps other bloggers where she can.  As a result, Sandra is seen as a valuable community member.  Other community members have gotten to know her and, as such, visit her site regularly.

On the flip side, Jim knows he’s got a great blog, but can’t be bothered with stooping to comment on other, inferior blogs.  He knows everything about his subject matter and adamantly believes that once people ‘find’ his blog, the crowds will come pouring in.

Unfortunately for Jim, they won’t.

As A Leader: You can’t just hire people and let them loose.  And you can’t force people to listen to you just because you’re the boss.  If Jim the blogger was a manager, his confidence and talent would lead him to automatically assume status as the ‘hub’ of the community.  While he may think he’s the hub, though, his team won’t.  That’s because, just like on the web, you have to earn loyalty.

And the way to earn it is to first become a valued and valuable member of your community.

  • So be generous.
  • Help out your team members when they need it.
  • Get to know them.
  • Support them when they’re having troubles and champion them when they succeed.
  • Teach them.
  • Coach them.
  • Support them.
  • Take an interest in their interests.

Once you become valued and relevant for your team, they will give you something far more valuable than the position of leader – they will give you the status and respect of a leader.

It’s not about you.  It’s about your team.

Related Posts:

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #1: Give Up Control

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #2: Engagement

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #4: Permission To Fail

Leadership Lessons Of Web 2.0 – Secret #2: Engagement

This is the second in a series of posts looking as how aspiring leaders can learn from Web 2.0 practices and theory.

On The Web: What is it that defines Web 2.0? To me, it’s interactivity.  If Web 1.0 was a one-way ‘speech’ to the crowd or a ‘push’ of information, Web 2.0 is a dialogue, a conversation, and a two-way exchange.  Whether it’s the ability to upload photos to Flickr or videos to YouTube, or to add and edit information to entries on Wikipedia, or even to just comment on a blog, Web 2.0 is ALL about the engagement of the community.
And what happens to a community that is truly engaged?  They create astonishing value.  They come back to your site more and more regularly.  They participate and contribute more and more regularly.  They tell others about the great experience they’re having with you.  They CARE about you and your site!

As A Leader: Much like a web community, a successful team in an organization is an engaged team.  And – shocker! – the methods to increase engagement on your team are the same as they are on the web.

  • Make meetings two-way conversations.
  • Don’t make decisions in a silo – solicit input from the team.
  • One of the best pieces of advice on starting conversations on a blog is to ask questions of your audience – this is also the best way to begin to engage your team.
  • Seek information, don’t tell them the solution.

A leader cannot give a team a one-way step-by-step instruction manual and expect buy-in and passion.  However, if a leader creates an environment where new ideas are welcomed, new ideas are implemented, and successes are championed, teams feel valued and more confident in using their knowledge and expertise. Give them autonomy and empowerment, and the sky is the limit to the value they will create.
The reason you need to focus on engagement is this:
If you have a team that mindlessly repeats tasks exactly the way you prescribe them and clocks in at 9 and clocks out at 5, you’re a manager.

If you have a passionate team that shows up early and stays late (of their own accord), who are constantly suggesting ideas for how to do things better or creating brand new ideas for products and services, and who feel a sense of ownership in their roles, you’re a leader.

So spend your time thinking about how to make your team feel valued and they will solve the problem of making you and your organization successful.

It’s not about you.  It’s about your team.

What are some other areas of Web 2.0 that leaders (and teams) can learn from?  Please share your thoughts in the comments…

Related Posts:

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #1: Give Up Control

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #3: Be A Valuable Community Member

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #4: Permission To Fail

Leadership Lessons Of Web 2.0 – Secret #1: Give Up Control

I was recently in a seminar about leadership and in the middle of the day, I had a revelation. The theory behind being an effective leader and leading a high-performance team is based on almost the exact same theory as Web 2.0.  I’ve created a series of posts revealing ‘The Leadership Secrets of Web 2.0’, which details some of the core tenets behind Web 2.0 theory and how they apply in real life situations as the leader of a team.
Secret #1: Give Up Control – The Power of One Vs. Many.

On The Web: Wisdom of the crowd (crowdsourcing) CAME from the web.  The web discovered the massive power, knowledge, and efficiency that results from letting go of control and trusting the community to help solve problems and come up with better ideas.  This is core concept of the Open Source movement and projects like Wikipedia – turn over the keys to the community and let them drive. After all, a few million brains are almost certainly more powerful than just yours.

As A Leader: The wisdom of the crowd is almost always greater than the wisdom of the leader, too.  Many leaders’ natural instincts tend towards control – they’ve likely reached ‘leader’ status because they have experience, they’re smart, and they’re good at solving problems and producing results.  So it’s often very tough for a leader to actively give up control over an idea, a project, or a problem and place that responsibility entirely with his or her team.

The reason why you have to give up control is this:

If you are the person solving your team’s problems and simply forcing them to execute your solutions, then you are a Manager.

If you are a person who sees your job as making your team work more effectively, growing their strength, earning their trust, and engaging their passion, you are a Leader.

It’s not about you.  It’s about your team.

So learn from the web.  Tell your team the desired outcome and then… give up control.  Hand over the keys. Take a leap of faith.  Put that faith in your team.  Prepare to be blown away.

In what other ways can Web 2.0 provide leadership models?  Let me know in the comments!

(This is the first in a series of posts about Web 2.0 Leadership Lessons.)

Related Posts:

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #2: Engagement

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #3: Be A Valuable Community Member

Web 2.0 Leadership Secret #4: Permission To Fail


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