Anyone for Layer Tennis?

layertennis

I think Adobe are definitely onto something with their ‘Layer Tennis‘ championship.

Originally conceived by Coudal Partners, the idea is simple, but very cool:

Two artists or designers battle out their skills by swapping a Photoshop file back a forth, adding to each other’s work in real time. Each competitor gets fifteen minutes to “volley” the file, and each volley is posted on the site.

The matches last for ten volleys and when it’s complete, everyone with an opinion sounds off in the Forums and then they declare a winner.

A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action, as it happens.

Seems as though they have some high calibre creatives going head to head. This week’s battle was Skinnycorp’s Jeffrey Kalmikoff up against interactive designer Brendan Dawes – and special comments by daringfireball’s John Gruber.

What a great campaign – Artists inspired by other artists, in a format that you can easily digest. And spread to other artists.

It reminds me of a simple thought that Andy Sernovitz spoke about recently – If you want your marketing to get spread by word-of-mouth, it can’t be about You. It’s about them. It’s not your company, your product, or your message. It’s about theirs.

That’s why this campaign has already proven to be a word-of-mouth winner.

What I also love about this type of marketing is that it doesn’t smell like a marketing campaign. It’s fun, not corporate. It’s like something you’d expect from Crumpler. It’s great. And it doesn’t leave you feeling as though you’ve been marketed to.

Where do you find the best online marketing blog posts for 2007?

Techipedia, that’s where.

Tamar Weinberg has put together a phenomenal list of over 250 blog posts from 2007, covering everything you need to know about marketing online. Blogging, social networking, viral strategies, social media – you name it.

Here it is – Truly a great list that will have you reading for hours.

2007 has been rather quiet here at my blog, and posting has been scarce. It’s been a busy year for me, changing jobs (on 2 occasions), getting married, buying a house and starting a business. Not sure if 2008 will be any calmer, but I hope to blog more in the new year. Thanks for reading!

Radiohead does honesty pricing

radiohead.jpgRadiohead are the latest to jump onto the concept of honesty pricing, something that I talked about a little while ago.

Their new album, In Rainbows, is bound to be a big seller. But not for the record companies. The band are selling it through their website for any price you like.

That’s right … You can buy their new album for any price you specify. It’s a strategy that will create massive word-of-mouth, while giving back to their fans. Almost everyone who even remotely likes the band will consider buying the album. And it might even turn a few 20 cent cheapskates into loyal Radiohead converts.

The other wonderful thing is that when you visit the site, it isn’t immediately clear that the chooser chooses the price. That is, you need to delve deeper into the site to find this out. Which makes it secretive. A discovery. Which in turn fuels the viral-ness (if there is such a word) of the exercise.
This, in my opinion, is a beautiful piece of marketing.

Who says I can’t be bought?

The key to a good marketing campaign these days is to start small.

That’s what The Ryde, a cool vintage T-Shirt site, have done by sending me some great new T-shirts, including this one and this one.

No doubt, a blogger-relations program is something that anybody should consider as a way of getting their word out about their product or service. But all too often, marketers will just choose a select list of A-List bloggers to reach out to, and hope that they orchestrate a word-of-mouth wildfire in the process.

A-List bloggers probably receive 10 requests like this a day. Even if your product or service is remarkable, the bigger bloggers are less likely to talk about you, because they just won’t have as much time.

My advice – start small. Reach out to C and D list bloggers like me instead. You’re more likely to gain flattery, which will ensure that the buzz will spread. Admittedly, you won’t get the overnight success. But these days, overnight success is pretty rare.

This is the first time anyone has sent me something to review or talk about on my blog. And naturally I’m going to. Not because I’ve been bought or bribed, but because I’ve been flattered. Someone has actually taken the time to reach me on a one-to-one basis, and so of course I’m going to spread the word about The Ryde.

I’ve had a truly excellent experience of this brand, and that’s why I’m letting you know. And I bet there’s others out there who are talking about The Ryde too.

So thanks to the Ryde for these cool T-shirts, one of which I’m proudly wearing today. Make sure you check out their T-shirts too, there’s plenty o’ goodness in their range.

Modern Marketing Wrap-Up

Every now and then, I like to summarise what my key thoughts are marketing. Or, at least jot down a whole heap of big picture ideas about the world, and their implications on marketing.

So here goes for July 2007:

1. Green Marketing is a necessity.

  • The way that we’re living now is simply unsustainable. There will need to be some massive changes culturally, and a huge challenge for designers, marketers, people – all of us.
  • But Green Marketing has just begun. The Green tipping point has not yet arrived (I was wrong). Despite a huge amount of progress in 2007, Green marketing is still in it’s infancy.
  • Companies that have solid green marketing strategies in place are very much in the minority.
  • Business should be going green because it is the right thing to do. But also because it’s such a big opportunity.
  • And, hey, isn’t it a nice thought that we can use our skills for good rather than evil?

2. We’re moving away from a globalised marketing world. People were buying cheap, mass produced and mass marketed products, but that’s changing. Why?

  • Local is the key word – We’re moving back to see a return to localised production, reduced food miles, and avoiding excessive transportation (of products and ourselves).
  • Having said that, tiny business can promote themselves and sell over the world – known as the Global Microbrand – which means it is a great time for small businesses to thrive.
  • The Longtail – The internet brings with it unlimited distribution, so we’re not limited to the top-selling items anymore. Which leads to greater individualised tastes, the rise of niche markets and the ‘boutique generation‘.
  • The large corporations have a bad reputation – Consumers are preferring something produced locally than in a sweatshop in Asia.

3. Word of Mouth Marketing has always been good. These days it’s a whole lot better.

  • Traditional advertising doesn’t work like it used to. Nowadays people are better at avoiding it than ever before.
  • So we have to go back to Word of Mouth – recommendations from our friends and colleagues. It has always been way more powerful than advertising.
  • The internet speeds up the Word of Mouth process exponentially. Look at the current growth of social media (like Facebook for example). So if you can turn your customers into passionate fans of your brand, you’ll receive plenty of positive Word of Mouth.
  • Honest, authentic and socially responsible brands are the only ones that can win. It’s just too easy for us to spread negative word of mouth about unethical brands.
  • The bottom line: You can’t create a word of mouth marketing campaign unless you are word-of-mouth worthy.

4. Web 2.0 and the internet has changed the marketing game.

  • Marketing is longer one way, and a ‘broadcast marketing’ mentality is no longer working.
  • It’s now about having a conversation, whether on blogs, social networks, virtual worlds or even offline.
  • Consumers are so much more connected than ever before. Which means that top-down, dumbed-down marketing doesn’t really cut it. We need to be having two-way conversations with our customers. Or they’ll go elsewhere.
  • And we need to be developing communities with our customers.
  • Even better, why not co-create? It’s no longer just about listening and talking to your customers. Why not get them involved in creating and promoting your brand (take a look at what the Threadless guys are doing, or even Nikon’s recent efforts).
  • The rules change every week – This week it’s Facebook, next week it could be something else. But web 2.0 isn’t really about the newest website, it’s about connecting people. That’s where the true value of the internet lies.

5. At the end of the day, it’s just about being a ‘Nice Guy’

  • Big or Small, the businesses that are going to do well are those that act nice – ie socially, environmentally and ethically responsible.
  • Mass marketing forgot about the human voice. We’d much prefer to deal with humans than corporations, so brands that act human have a huge head-start.
  • Likewise, businesses that are always ‘Marketing’ are like people who always talk about themselves. Pretty Dull.
  • Is your brand a Nice Guy? If you met your brand at a party, what would you think of them?

6. ALL of these thoughts are inter-realated

  • A groundswell of people will connect, online and offline, and be part.
  • They will be using the web, and spreading ideas via word of mouth.
  • We will all be working together to move towards a sustainable existence.
  • Marketers can continue to be part of the problem, or they can be part of the solution.
  • So the future for marketing is to be honest, decent, transparent, and human.

7. What better time has there been to be involved marketing!

I’m serious about this last point. Who would have thought that an industry like marketing might just have a positive influence on the world?

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and comments about all this, as well as some ideas of your own. Don’t be shy – leave me a comment.

Stormhoek Wine :: Blogging their way to bigger sales

Stormhoek Wines are a great case study about the power of blogs in action.

wine1.jpgHugh Macleod needs no introduction in the blogging world. His Gapingvoid cartoons are the web-geeks' illustration of choice. He's a clever guy who pushed sales of a Saville Row tailor through the roof by starting a blog. through the roof. More recently Hugh's work with Stormhoek is having the same effect.

Last year, Stormhoek gave away free samples of their Sauvignon Blanc via Hugh to bloggers in Europe, along with some information about the wine and the campaign. The bloggers, predictably, blogged about it.

The Result? Stormhoek doubled their sales in 2005.

There's a reason this strategy has worked for Hugh. His blog is popular – Technorati ranks Gapingvoid at 82 in their top 100. He positively A-list. By contrast, my blog (ranked 405,840 with a bullet) is unlikely to create quite the same tidal wave.

But my point is this – new marketing strategies, like using blogs promote your idea are working. Probably thousands of people have bought Stormhoek after hearing about the buzz online. If I saw some in the bottle shop tonight, I'd give it a try. So might you. Because we've heard the story.

Old marketing strategies apply here too. Being the first still gives you a clear advantage. If you are in the wine or tailoring business, Hugh has beaten you to it. If, however, you are lucky enough to be in an industry that hasn't tapped the potential of the blogosphere (a cringeworthy description I know), what's stopping you?

Here in the UK, the brand has also picked up distribution in retailers including Sainsburys, Asda, Oddbins, Majestic, Waitrose and Somerfield. They've also picked a major wine trade award.

This year, to support their launch in the US, Stormhoek are sponsoring a series of Geek dinners. Stormhoek will provide the wine, bloggers provided the buzz … let's keep our eye on what happens to sales this time.

Word of Mouth :: Chicken or the Egg

John Moore has posted a great presentation on Word of Mouth marketing over at YouTube.

He talks about difference between creationalist versus evolutionist marketing. Great insight.