Archives for posts with tag: Google


The Ford Pinto was a crappy car. No doubt about it.

The Pinto was introduced in 1970 and sold over 100,000 units by January 1971.


The power of mass media

40 years ago you could take any product and sell it to people. You had to throw a lot of media money at it and somehow people would buy it. The commercial said it looked good, so it must look good. The print ad said it’s cool, so it must be cool. The radio spot said it’s breaking barriers, so it must be breaking barriers.

There was no Edmunds, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Google.

The Ford Pinto wouldn’t sell 100,000 units today

You can’t throw marketing dollars at a product problem anymore. It just doesn’t work.

40 years ago, the lipstick-on-a-pig routine worked.

Today, even major cosmetic surgery doesn’t do the job anymore.

You can scream “Beauty” all day long, it makes no difference as long as Google says “Pig”.

Marketing needs to be responsible for what gets made.

Many people wonder why brands switch agencies so quickly these days. Why CMO’s leave after less than 2 years.

It’s the product, stupid.

Marketing is powerful. But it’s not powerful enough to hide the truth about a product.

CMO’s and agencies will regain leverage when they finally realize that effective marketing is the by-product of a great product.

One day, an agency will stand up to the product team and say: “We can’t sell this effectively. Don’t throw your media money at a terrible product. Everybody will lose. Instead, put your money into product innovation. Effective marketing will follow.”

That’s my agency of the future.


What brand built the first island on Second Life? What brand marketed itself first on Twitter? Quora? MySpace? Napster?

Who cares?

It’s good to be the first on the moon. It’s great to introduce the first touch-screen tablet. It’s an advantage to feature the first hybrid car.

Nobody cares if you’re the first to market yourself on a new platform.

Let me rephrase that: Nobody of your prospective customers cares if you’re the first to market yourself on a new platform.

Your agency might care. It’s good PR and communicates they’re an innovative marketer.

Your communication department might care. They get featured in trade magazines and invited to speak at conferences.

And your customer? They are busy living their lives.

It can cost you a pretty dime to be the first mover.

Remember the iAd? The first movers had to pay $1 million just to get in. Within a few months, the price dropped to $300,000.

Think about it.

The user base was very small in the beginning and Apple charged a million.

Now, millions are using the tablet and the price dropped dramatically.

It’s the premium you pay when you are the first mover.

The next Gold Rush: Google+

Google+ launched a few weeks ago. Apparently, it has a lot of traction. Social Media experts are falling all over themselves to squeeze money out of that new platform by marketing webinars how to make money from Google+. Brands and agencies are anxious to get in on the deal. Ford is already in.

Good for Ford.

Did they sell any more cars because of their Google+ presence? Did they change anybody’s mind about the brand because they “hung out” with 14 people?

Of course not.

Look, I like what Ford and Scott Monty is doing. They utilize Social Marketing in very innovative ways. They got a lot of PR and applause from the echo chamber for their Google+ initiative.

You’re not Ford.

You have a lot of time. Take that time and explore what others are doing. Only geeks and nerds are on Google+ right now. No reason to rush into it. Understand the landscape, participate as an individual to understand how people are using it. Make a business case and dive into the platform with a Direct Marketing approach: Start small, test, layer and, once you found something that works, expand.

Don’t think of yourself as a teenager that missed a party: The world is not coming to an end. You’re an adult now. There will be many more parties.


We are digital nomads.

Once in a while new digital empires are being born and populated by millions of people. A new place is being created, bright and shiny, not many people know about it but they are the ones reporting about their adventures.

At first, it’s idyllic and very intimate, the geeks and early adopters nodding at each other in silence and filled with pride. Soon, the tourists arrive, with their fanny packs and cameras, pushing as geeks aside. Happy hours everywhere, cheap jewelry and scams galore. All the early adopters are longing for a new place, a new home. It’s too loud here, too shrill, too trivial and dishonest.

Empires come and go. Every other year a new promised land is being discovered, the place to be. At one point, we believed IBM would rule the world. Microsoft, that’s not even that long ago. Do you remember Second Life, the place where every brand had to have a residence? Suddenly, we need to reside in Twitter, build LinkedIn groups and until a few days ago, Facebook was the new Mecca and Medina in one place. The valuations of some of these companies start at 0, go up to gazillions, just to be sold for a penny and an avatar.

Is there a life cycle of Internet empires? They grow like an Amazonian forest, just to die slowly after the first harvest.

It’s a wonderful feeling to own the first island in Second Life, meet your college friends on Facebook, exchange ideas with complete strangers on Twitter. It doesn’t last that long because soon there will be dumb updates, trolls, scams, mobbing, annoyances all around – in short, typical life starts to happen. At first, brands are elated about their Twitter or Facebook presence, until – well, once the consultants armed with Powerpoint decks show up, promising millions in return for hiring some interns to tweet and update their Facebook status. Some companies come up with wild formulas to calculate the worth of a Twitter follower and a Facebook friend. The sad outcome: Any trick and sad tactic is being deployed to get a “Like” or a “RT”.

The initial, beautiful experience turns into loud downtown chaos. More and more people show up with weird names and avatars, create fake celebrity accounts, try to scam people at social games. There are more games, more fan pages, more brand pages. And, suddenly, the party is over. Time to move on.

Google+ launched a few days ago, many people are trying out. I joined in the beginning and loved it. Such a beautiful place, so many new things to discover, a new vacation home for all of us. Not many tourists here yet, a few fakes, no annoying brands. Yet. The geeks and early adopters are testing and prodding. Everything is so clean, so uncluttered. No worthless ads, no spam. Nothing. Will Twitter die? Will Facebook lose time spent on their platform, a first sign the demise is near?

Will Google be able to keep the noise out, the annoying mediocrity that tends to kill Internet Empires? I don’t know.

One thing is for sure: All of us have found a new vacation home. Time will tell if we transform it into our main residence. Or, one day, drop the key in the mailbox and abandon the house to move on.

We are digital nomads.

Brands should learn from Google+ not to build their main residencies on platforms they don’t own. Pushing people to any Facebook or Twitter platform was always a stupid idea. Google+ should make you rethink this strategy again.


Trying to leave the disastrous Buzz and Wave launch behind, Google, THE search company, is formally making a pitch to become a major social networking force.

What is Google+?

Contrasting Facebook, Google+ doesn’t focus on a massive friend list. Instead, users collect each other into groups, such as family, work and friends, called “circles”. This allows for more contextual sharing and might be the sweet spot for Google+ since people tend to overshare on Facebook. There are no friend requests on Google+, you don’t need to agree to be friends with one another and can see updates from others without sharing anything.

Additional services offered are Hangout, a video chat service, and Sparks, where users can find and share content around their interests. Some beta testers lauded the user interface, apparently you can drag and drop your friends into different circles.

Google+ provides value in the area of friend management. Many of us made the mistake of accepting far too many friend invitations with the result that we often don’t share as much because we didn’t have the opportunity to create more intimate circles. The question is: Is this enough to move some of our sharing activity from Facebook/Twitter to Google+?

What the pundits say

Technopunditry is alive and well. Here’s a brief roundup:

Charlene Li (Altimeter Group)

“My take on how this will play out is that Google has the natural ability to pull together groups based on communication patterns, and to also leverage the natural groups that already use communication platforms. It will be a no-brainer for Gmail to start using Google+, a much harder sell for non-Gmail users.

The result will be unified sharing, as opposed to unified messaging, on Google platforms. This won’t happen overnight and it will be far from being a “Facebook killer”. Rather, it’s a smart move by Google to leverage its strengths in communication platforms, algorithms, and trust of core users to move into social.

Lastly, I don’t expect Facebook to stay still for long. Look for them to roll out improved friend management tools in the near future. But regardless, they will always lack the behavioral intelligence to help me truly manage my friends, unless I am a devoted Facebook user.”

Dave Winer

Products like the one Google just announced are hatched at off-sites at resorts near Monterey or in the Sierra, and were designed to meet the needs of the corporation that created it. A huge scared angry corporation. What little is left of the spark that created it in the first place is now used to being Number One, and wants to feel that again. It’s being created to make that person feel better.

Eventually they will become an investment bank and a services company. The fate for all former high-flying techco’s.



Google wants to get to know you, and help you to get to know yourself. It wants to be the go-to place where you show who you are and what you care about to your friends, your family, your coworkers and the entire world. It wants to be the key you use to unlock the Web and the internet as a whole, the passageway through which all your interactions flow. Today is a big step in that direction.”

Henry Blodget, Business Insider

In short, at least judging from the rhetoric used to launch the product, Google has given people little reason to think that the launch of + will be any different from the launches of its other social products, such as Wave and Buzz (Wave is dead and Buzz might as well be dead). And the folks at Facebook must be rolling their eyes.”

Google+ feels like a Transformers review: You either hate it or love it.

My take

All empires fall eventually. Microsoft seemed invulnerable at one point. Google seems like a cash cow that will never stop printing money. That’s just a fantasy. At one point, Google will become extinct. And our kids will walk around the virtual ruins of an empire that once was.

Google’s success is based on algorithms. That was a great model for the last 10 years. User demands and needs have changed in the last few years. People use social search, focus more on their social graph to get results and rely less on Google to discover content. It’s hard to insert a human and social voice into an algorithm-based enterprise.

Google says Plus is not a Facebook competitor. I agree. While some people will prefer the privacy controls and selective group communication tools, we learned over the years that Facebook users are not that upset with the privacy issues. Not upset enough to move to Google+.

Google+ is a good option for niche groups. You want to talk to your baseball buddies in the US? Your book club? Your PTA group? Google+ is a nice extension of existing Google groups. It might even sneak its way into the enterprise space. But it won’t make a dent in Facebook’s dominance of the social space.

Should you consider marketing on Google+? Sure, test small groups and see what happens. Create your own brand group. But, don’t rush out to follow that new shiny object. 2012 is early enough.

As to Google, I wish they would understand the challenge of an empire. You can’t just integrate functionalities into your core product and hope to extend your search dominance for good. They need to reinvent like IBM had to when they stared in the abyss in the early 90’s.

Currently, Google is following the path of MySpace. $35million anyone?


A friend of mine made a mistake a few years back. Not a criminal mistake but a mistake that makes it hard for him to get hired by any Fortune 500 company. Google his name and that mistake shows up in 6 out of the first 10 results. He tried everything: Create a blog, developed a very sophisticated online presence, paid SEO companies to improve his reputation.

Still: 6 negative out of 10 results.

That’s a common problem.

Just ask James Andrews, tweeting under @keyinfluencer. He tweeted negative comments about the city where one of his clients his headquartered. And Google remembers.

Ask restaurants on Yelp with a few negative reviews. One of my former clients almost had to close down one restaurant because a few people spread the message that the restaurant was closed due to health hazards.

Algorithms are determining our fate and our future.

We have given up control of our reputation, our future and our history. We already have dozens of companies creating garbage content to feed the algorithm monster. We created a new discipline to help us with reputation management. And now we’re starting to hand over our lives to the algorithms.

I love algorithms. They are very helpful, they make my life easier, they help me find things quickly. But algorithms shouldn’t replace human decision and decency. We need to find better ways to humanize the web, make it more adaptable to the human experience.

We start to understand that the “All the base belong to us” phase might not be a solution.

The day the Internet learns to forget is the day a humanized Internet is born.

The Internet is like Peter Pan. It never grows up. The biggest companies are toddlers or even babies: Just a few years old. Maybe we should give them some time and space to grow up? And stop to project our future onto them?

Fantastic speech by Marcus Brown.

Please watch the full presentation. It’s worth every second.


First there were portals. AOL, Yahoo and all the other sites with names we don’t remember anymore.

Then came Google.

And now there’s Facebook.

History has shown us that early dominance doesn’t translate into long-term leadership. While Google is still a dominant player in search, they are struggling to remain relevant. Their latest move to tie bonuses to social success smells like Microsoft with a hint of Yahoo!

Facebook is as vulnerable as AOL Google.

Facebook is the dominant Social platform. No doubt about it. But just like Google, they own only part of the pie and the majority of the pie is up for grabs or still in development.

Facebook has been successful in aggregating our social graph. For most people, it’s a mess of friends, co-workers, family and weak ties. Our social graph has become a very weak social network: difficult to navigate, even more difficult to control. The truth is: we have hundreds of networks. Our work network, our employer network, our commute network, our hobby network, our family network, our local community network. There are opportunities to develop networks for sporting events, movies, any shared interest.

While I’m writing this, I’m watching the Masters. I would love to tap into a temporary network to share my viewing experience with others. Facebook is not the right platform for it.

I would love to tap into a temporary network of my office building to help with improvements or get to know other tenants better.

I would like to meet somebody within 2 miles to go out for a run. Facebook can’t help me with that.

Disposable and temporary networks

The answer could be to develop thousands of disposable and temporary networks. Many location-based apps feel that way: Foursquare is a great tool when attending massive conferences like SXSW but it’s a daily nuisance to see my friend checking in at the same Starbucks over and over again. Color has gotten a lot of attention (mostly because of its disastrous launch and $41 million investment) but it’s an interesting attempt to tap into network for a moment in time.

However, when I look at all the apps battling for attention on my iPhone, I hope there will be aggregators that can develop disposable/temporary networks based on my interest and location. And integrate new friends into a bigger network. Such a platform would make Facebook feel like Microsoft: too big to be agile.

FoE Book Cover

This insightful book argues that success of any enterprise is built on a foundation that goes deeper than what we do and how we do it. In Firms of Endearment, terms like purpose, meaning, appreciation, joy, and yes, even love are not only acceptable, they are critical in the corporate language and culture. And they are not reserved for internal use or marketing efforts; these attributes are applied to all stakeholders, including customers.

Some people might think it’s about a 60’s revival or some do-gooders. Exactly the opposite is true. The book features an in-depth study of firms that have outperformed  their peers and the market as a whole. Publicly traded Firms of Endearment enterprises returned 750% over 10 years while the S&P overall provided a 128% return. Even more interesting, these companies provided a 205% return, while the S&P lost 13%. We’re talking about household names like Amazon, Best Buy, Google, Honda, IKEA, Patagonia, Timberland, Whole Foods – just to name a few.

Why do emotional connections between stakeholders make such a difference?

It’s fairly straightforward. Think about the relationships in your life: Some are rewarding because you really feel appreciated. Some are pure transactions. Interactions often drain energy while feeling appreciated gives us more energy. And they encourage us to have more interactions with the brand. Same is true when your turn it around: You feel more energetic when you are being appreciative of what you are doing and whom you are interacting with than if you were feeling dread about it.

The focus on emotional connections decreases the turnover rate, increases internal and external loyalty and, ultimately, improves profitability. Companies have to do better than just declaring people are their most important assets. They have to live it.

Former Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker, now at Kleiner Perkins, just published her newest slideshow about the rise of mobile computing.
A few observations:
  • Slide 19: 60% of time spend on smartphones is new activity for mobile users. That’s an amazing stat. Just think about how hard it is to change behavior. Not in the mobile world: Apps, Social Networking and games make people change their daily behavior. Think Foursquare. Think Yelp. The question is: How long is that window of opportunity open? When will it close?
  • Slide 22+: Mobile Advertising -growing pains but huge promise. It’s a short-term promise. Once advertisers flood the market with mobile ads, users will be turned off and tune out very quickly. We need to focus on utility, not advertising.
  • Slide 35/36: Mobile Shopping changing behavior. Once again, we need to focus on this changing behavior. How we can add more utility to this behavior, make it more valuable? NOT disrupt it with ads.
  • Slide 42: “Gamification of apps is the ultimate way to engage a new generation of audiences.” YUP!
  • Slide 50: Google, AOL, eBay, Yahoo! and Amazon are shaking in their boots. Pretty convincing slide documenting the wealth creation, destruction cycle
  • Slide 54: Pretty poignant on this day, watching the events in Cairo: “Empowerment – impact of empowering billions of people around the world with real-time connected devices has just begun.”


You can partner with or hire the best people in the world. You can work on the greatest product/service idea ever. It all will go nowhere if you don’t have a great culture.

Your culture will determine how much energy people put into their work. Your culture will determine the attitudes of everyone in your company, how they interact with all stakeholders. The more you care about what you’re making and creating, the better your work will be. And you want all your employees to care about the company as much as you do.

This doesn’t happen by accident. It’s driven by your culture. Companies with a great culture attract people who have passion for what their employer is creating. And they are passionate about making their company’s brand their own.