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Mixed Messaging: How Blackberry Flubbed Its Tablet Launch

Folks, the tablet/pad market is ablaze–and RIM was the last one in the room. Well their catch-up efforts just walked through the door. So far? Not impressed with their positioning.

RIM has always been the corporate device maker–because of their security protocols; however, they’re only lightly leaning on this differentiator.

In their massively heavy ad space on, they start with “Introducing the world’s first professional grade tablet.”

That makes sense.

But then they show the tablet in use: screen shots of the, video, games… Why wouldn’t they put in the Office products or graphs or charts?

And then the name! Playbook. Sure, this has sports connotations which are perfectly suited for biz, but it also denotes the stuff my kids do: play. How about something that connotes ‘professional grade’.

I think if RIM wanted to leap frog back over the competition it should have started from its strong point: get the the IT managers excited. It’s not a bad place to be–ensconced in major corporations. It’s a market in and of itself.

My Marketing Manifesto–Two Sentences That Cut Through The Nonsense

I had an epiphany today when I was toting my two girls around in a wagon:

  1. Here’s my definition of ‘brand’ (arguably the most dubious term in a marketer’s lexicon): The spontaneous emotional and intellectual feelings a person has about a company or product.
  2. And here’s my definition of marketing (or what a marketer’s job is): to capture the essence of a company’s or  a product’s brand and to repurpose it in a variety of ways in order to make more friends.

Is Huffington Post the Ambulance Chaser of Internet Media?

Here’s my suspicion of the new darling of Internet media:

  • HuffPo editors use Twitter and other real-time & mostly social media to find out what’s trending.
  • Then they grab a writer to jot out a quick story or grab an AP brief to see can get in on the action.
  •’s formidable SEO capital catapults them to the top of searches for that topic.
  • They get zillions of ad impressions for their advertisers.
  • HuffPo’s leading lady isn’t po’–she’s rich.

Good for her.

Bad for the internet.

I’m not the first to comment on this, but I was just infuriated to see a tweet in my stream that pointed to an article about a man who drive down the freeway with his wife on the hood of his car.


Internet publishers: you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either have editorial discipline and focus and accept reasonable margins from loyal and interested readers OR make a ton of money gaming the system and be out of business soon.

Poets Can Be Marketers–Marketers Should Be Poets

I’m on record for thinking it’s an easy hop from being an artist to being a good marketer. And this Charles Bukowski quote reminds me ever more.

An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way.

Marketing is about robust communication on the head of a pin. It’s about the ability to distill–to take the complexity out of a thing without taking out the thing that makes the thing a thing. Wait, I just turned into Bukowski’s intellectual!

I’m Kicking An Old Habit: Microsoft Word

Here’s some naked lunch I woke up to this morning: Microsoft Word is dead.

I’m just done with it. Cold Turkey.

Here’s why: it’s a tool for printing stuff.

I’ve been using Word since I was in, like,  middle school–and it was always in preparation for printing.

It sounds like an epiphany–but it’s really been a long train coming.

I think the first thing that happened was that I checked out Google Docs–which doesn’t have a lot of fancy formatting tools. But it made me think: what formatting tools do I really need?

The next thing that happened is that I switched my Word ‘View’ from ‘Print layout’ to ‘Web layout’–which allowed my content to fill  my entire screen. Really, why would you want to reproduce the constraints of paper on a screen? This was the ‘ahah’ moment.

Here’s the nugget of truth I’ve been working on:  we need tools to enhance our thinking–not to structure the output of our thoughts; otherwise, the tail starts wagging the dog. The focus should be on synergy, interrelatedness and sharing. The goal is enhancing thoughts (like shoes enhance walking!).

I want a tool that lets me cut, paste, share, email, tweet, blog, label, hide/unhide, connect, disconnect, save–whatever.

The last thing I need to worry about is getting my indent perfectly at 1 1/4 inches (who hasn’t lost a day in their life trying to get Word to obey!).

Let’s agree to move away from tools that constrain (not even a tool then, right?) to tools that liberate and accelerate.

Right now I’m using Evernote–not perfect, but totally digging the shackle free experience. No tabs. Just content.

Ben Folds–On Being Obsessive

Came across this great quote from Ben Folds:

“I spent maybe six months just running scales with a metronome like a freak,” Folds said. “I suppose that did something.”

Of course it did something Ben!

Fundamentally, it’s about knowing that being a maniac about something is the right thing to do sometimes–not as a way of life, of course, but as a way to build up expertise or a skill that you feel will be fundamental to your life sometime in the future.

When I learned HTML I think I went through hundreds of tutorials–just did everyone I could find. It was important to know everything–not just the things that were immediately involved in a project.

I also went through a phase when I underlined everywhere word I looked up in the dictionary–and then I’d review all the ones I’d ever circled–every week!  My wife gave me a weird look about that one.

Quote from:

I Almost Got Into A Fight Over the Word ‘Gerrymander’

This is most certainly true. And for the folks who know me, fisticuffs are not in my DNA.

Of course, this happened when I was younger–and at a brew pub–but the metaphorical significance prevails.

So there I was, gesticulating wildly to an interlocutor, spinning a yarn a mile wide whenI dropped the word ‘gerrymander’. It was admittedly not a perfect fit–but some aspect of it worked for me. I recall needing a word that connoted (not denoted!) ‘defining the shape of something for political ends’.  ‘Gerrymandered’ popped out. Nice, I thought.

Here’s a quick look at what happened next:

Friend-of-a-friend: “Hey, you can’t use gerrymander like that!”

Me: “What?”

Friend-of-a-friend: “Gerrymander means…[insert political science definition here]”

Me: “I know that–but I’m free to make words conform to my needs–language is pliable per user. I get to do what I want!”

Friend-of-a-friend: “That’s ridiculous! And sloppy!”

Me:  “That’s creative–and fun!”

So if you plotted the hostility on a graph it would look like a hockey stick.

All the other ‘friends-of-friends’ had to send us to opposite sides of the brew pub–DINGDINGDINGDING. It was like a boxing match… And somehow, about every 30 minutes, we would cross paths and the debate would burst open like a baked potato in a microwave.

Since I like make the world easy to understand, I’ll make this grand conclusion: Some folks just like to stick to the rules. And some folks (ahem!) think there’s just too much darn fun to be had breaking them.

The world is indeed a black and white cookie.

The Subject Is The Message, Says Me and Jack Dorsey

My friend lambasted me for sending him an email where I only used the subject line. There was no message in the body.

I actually recall thinking: this is unconventional, but more efficient. I’m gonna try it though!

Said friend compared me to his mom! Somehow, taking this utilitarian approach is old school or unsophisticated.

I’ve been doing it at work too. Why not! It’s certainly the most read part of your message, right?

Well, me and Jack Dorsey are on the same page. From the Huff Post: Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey On The Power Of Tweets:

“Dorsey also told Rose that he uses text messaging “a lot more” than email. Email, Dorsey explained, “[is] not great for communication because it’s not focused on the most important thing. The subject is the message, and that’s the message. The subject is in the message in the IM. It’s bringing the content to you right away.”

A Great Example of Positioning

A conversation with my 4-year-old. I’m giving her a ‘tubby’ and…

Me: “Do you want conditioner?”

Her: “NO!”

Me: “Would you like your hair sillllllky and smmmmmooooooth?” [Major affectation added]

Yes: “Yes!”

Wouldn’t it be great if all marketing was this easy?

Lesson: Test, Outcome Over Product, Delivery Matters

Customer Service 101: Don’t Be Grumpy

Customer Service 101: Don’t Be Grumpy

I saw this great sign today on my walk to work.  Such a metaphor!

First rule of customer service is to not be grumpy. If you’ve got that, you’re half way to a gold star.

I think a little extra sleep on the part of this sign maker might have yielded something ‘nicer’ like:

  • Sorry, you gotta go that-a-way >
  • Looks like a door–but not really a door. Try around the corner.
  • Sorry! Entrance is actually over there >

I went the extra mile and added a bit of play–always a good idea to try to make someone smile a bit right before you start dealing with a customer service issue, no?

Customer service is about empathy–just inhabit your customer’s mental state and you’ll make friends and provide exceptional experiences.