Breast implants wont hide the fact that you’re not very creative

And neither will a really fat media budget… but we’ll get to that…

Two days after returning from the AdAge Digital Conference, I’m still stuck on the Earned vs. Paid Media discussion that kicked off the event.

It all started with Fred Wilson’s opening keynote which proclaimed:


In case you’re new to the “paid” vs. “earned” debate, here’s a handy little diagram from David Armano, VP of Experience Design with Critical Mass:

Nifty, eh? And applicable not just to digital media but to ALL media (IMHO).

But what’s really interesting isn’t the rising trend toward earned and away from paid [a hotly debated issue!], but the bizarre skewing of creativity vs. spending within the two models (also from Fred’s presentation which can be downloaded here):


Is it me or does it appear the Paid Media approach is um… a little bit o’ cheating? A la “Just in case I’m not creative enough… I’ll BUY enough visibility to hammer the goddamn message home.”


So all this thinking was percolating in my teeny weeny brain when Simon Clift, CMO of Unilever stated rather bluntly (and probably to the great horror of his media planners):

I’m convinced fat media budgets help make people lazy, and we’ve thought about [whether we] should cut media budgets on some specific projects in order to force people to come up with ideas.”

It’s no secret that the very best, most compelling “case studies” in marketing, advertising, and PR are those that succeeded in spite of tiny [or non-existent] media budgets—not because of them.

Yet the model that our industry was built on demands—and most certainly relies—on EXPOSURE, REACH, EYEBALLS, IMPRESSIONS [insert synonym of choice] doing the bulk of the heavy lifting.

I’m sorry, people, but that’s so 1999.

Which is why, true to character, I shall now throw down the proverbial gauntlet:


I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or do I? Jury’s still out…), but better be honest now than sorry later.

Earned media is here. It’s aggressive. And it has no respect for its elders.

So instead of fighting it, why not give it a big ole hug?

The end of advertising as we know it?


I guess this is “old news,” as the data I’m about to share comes from a 2007 IBM Global Business Services study (aptly titled “The end of advertising as we know it”)—but perhaps that makes it even more compelling. Here goes:

71% of the 2400 consumers surveyed across five countries said they spend >2 hours/day on the Internet—not including work-related activities. In other words, almost 3/4 of this global sample spends several hours DAILY of their precious leisure-time online. [side note: do any of these people have children? Because if they do, what business do they have with 2 whole hours of daily leisure time?! I don’t get it.]

Meanwhile, 48% of the folks surveyed said they spend >2 hours/day watching TV.

In 2009, I’d bet my britches that the gap between those numbers has only grown larger with web use (fueled by time-intensive destinations like Facebook, YouTube, MMOs, virtual worlds, etc.), iPhone apps, on-demand TV, TiVo, DVR… and more(!) encroaching at a relentless pace on the Grandaddy of all advertising mediums.

The question is, as a brand, agency, or marketing professional… what are you doing about it?

Three heads in the sand

The “pretend it’s not happening” approach, while popular, is ill-advised. The music industry tried it a few years back when digital music first appeared on the scene. Now they’re hemorrhaging money and market share and being outsmarted by downstream vendors who responded to the shift toward digital.


Please don’t follow in doomed footsteps.

Even if I’m totally wrong about the increased gap (and we all know, the Genius is rarelyif ever—wrong), you can’t hide from the fact that you’ve still got a few disruptive forces that aint going nowhere, notime soon. Namely:

1. Consumers want control.
And not just of what they watch but how they watch it—and interact with it—as well as how they filter what they view, including ads.

And young people? They’re not having any of the “I WILL YELL LOUDLY AT YOU TILL YOU BUY SOMETHING” strategy of old. By next year, young Americans will outnumber Baby Boomers and make the shift toward digital (which they were BORN using, wanting, understanding, and expecting) a fait accompli.

I do hope you’re ready.

2. “Impact” is the new “Reach”.
Admit it. You’ve grown used to a world where “Reach” was the Holy Grail of marketing. For years, it’s been all about “impressions”, the idea being that the more eyeballs you snared, the more sales would result.

Now that the drugs have worn off, many marketers are dealing with a nasty hangover called “REALITY”. Just because you show up at a party looking wicked hot and flirt with EVERY guy, doesn’t mean you’ll go home with a ring on your finger. Get my drift? Same logic applies to the “spray and pray” philosophy of Old Marketing.

The party is over, folks. And the rulers (those funny things you measure stuff with) have come out.

Well… maybe not rulers per se. We’re all still trying to wrestle that nasty Metrics Monster to the ground. Oddly, I think he likes the wrestling and is growing fond of a good Full Nelson. [Dear God, it’s the drugs talking again…!]


Fact: Virtually all of us are enduring the joys of recession-mandated “rectal exams” in the form of account reviews, lowered credit limits, tighter budgets, and greater demand for true ROI. Impressions, clicks, even those new-fangled “engagement” metrics aren’t cutting it. The question is how did those impressions, clicks, and “engaged” consumers translate into increased brand awareness, positive word-of-mouth/mouse, and purchases downstream? If you haven’t figured out how to measure that yet, you’d better hop to it. Quick.

2/3 of the advertising executives IBM polled expect 20% of advertising revenue to shift from impression-based to impact-based formats within three years.

Yep. P.S. that research was published 2 years ago.

And last but not least,
3. The Consumer is also the Creator.
Thanks to technology, consumers have been empowered not just to choose their own destiny—but to create it. In the same way that we’ve seen the rise of “Reality TV” over the past several years, so User Generated Content is becoming The Dominant Force online. IBM’s previously referenced survey, for example, already showed in 2007 that UGC sites are the top destination for viewing online video content.

Look out, Mad Ave!

Which leads me back to my earlier question: Time’s are changin’. The masses are moving from one screen to another… to many. As a brand, agency, or marketing professional… what are you doing about it?

What the f**k is Twitter?

A lot of folks still don’t “get” Twitter. [And Twitter, meanwhile, still doesn’t “get” revenue… but that’s another story.] But personally, the Genius L.O.V.E.S. it.

Crowd-sourcing, networking, buzz marketing, and pure entertainment are the top 4 reasons that I personally heart the #1 micro-blogging tool. Here’s another one:


True story.

Earlier this week, I discovered a very nice, comprehensive deck put together by the folks at Ogilvy [I know, surprised me, too!] called Twitter for Business. You might also want to check out this post for some excellent tips on getting personal value out of Twitter; and this post on how not to let corporate lawyers f**k up a good Twitter thang.

Unless you plan to go off the grid sometime soon, I wholeheartedly suggest you take the time to at least edu-macate yourself. And if/when you do start tweetin’, be sure to say hello.

“Do 39% of Internet users REALLY subscribe to RSS feeds?” and other social media marketing myths dispelled

Today is the last official date for voting in the “World’s Best Presentation Contest” on SlideShare. (Speaking of which… if you haven’t yet voted for “What the F**K is Social Media?!”, DO IT NOW!!!)

Shameless self-promotion aside (but only for a minute), I thought this was a good time to address some of the questions and understandable skepticism that emerged in response to the not-so-subtle messages in said presentation.

So—let’s separate fact from fiction (or at least fact from hyperbole), shall we?

The first batch of “that can’t be right” criticism (and downright bitch-i-tude—you know who you are) was doled out in response to the following statements (from slides 11-16):

  • 73% of active online users have read a blog
  • 45% have started their own blog
  • 39% subscribe to an RSS feeds
  • 57% have joined a social network
  • 55% have uploaded photos
  • 83% have watched video clips

And now, for the shocking truth:
The Genius herself was more than a bit surprised by these numbers. You might even say they were the inspiration for the big ole “F**K!” that became the content of slide 46.

But the fact is, I didn’t pull them out of my cute little ass… they actually came from Universal McCann’s Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008, and they’re based on a series of surveys they conducted with over 17,000 respondents across 29 countries.

In Universal McCann’s own words:

“All surveys are self completion and the data collected is entirely quantitative. Every market is representative of the 16-54 Active Internet Universe. In this Wave 17,000 internet users in 29 countries were interviewed. To be included you need to be using the internet everyday or every other day.”

So, there!

The next pile of skeptical poo was flung at these juicy tidbits:

  • Only 18% of TV ad campaigns generate positive ROI
  • 90% of people who can skip TV ads, do.
  • Only 14% of people trust advertisements

And did these little beauties come from betwixt my perfectly peach-shaped buns?


They came from a useful little book called Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution by Justin Kirby and Paul Marsden (buy a copy here).

Just for giggles, take a look at some of the other painfully compelling data you’ll find within its pages:

  • Average return in sales for every $1 spent on advertising: 54 cents!!!
  • The increase in TV advertising costs (CPM) in the past decade: 256%
  • Proportion of B2B marketing campaigns resulting in falling sales: 84%
  • The increase needed in advertising spend to add 1-2% in sales: 100%

Say it with me now: YIKES!!!!!!!!!!

Last but not least, a few people got their panties all in a bunch about the use of and the apparent lack of “real” case studies or ROI data.

[Here’s me rolling my eyes]

So, fine, I’ll satisfy your incessant and moderately annoying need for numbers by providing you with a few details on (others to follow in future posts—maybe). If you want to learn more NOW, you’ll just have to hire me or invite me to speak at your next event.

Here goes:

The Genius Behind!

Nike’s social media play did two things that most brands fall shamefully short on:

    1) They created a playground for anyone passionate about the activity enabled by the product (whether they owned Nike products or not)
    2) They enabled relationship-building with consumers who do own their product(s) that goes way beyond the initial purchase.

And here’s how they did it….

First, the smart folks at Nike recognized 3 simple things about their target audience:

    1. People who love to run, love to listen to music while running
    2. People who love to listen to music while running typically use an iPod to do so
    3. People who love to run like to measure and track their distance/time

Next, the smart folks at Nike created an online experience that caters directly to these three user objectives. They partnered with Apple to bring iTunes into the mix, offering celebrity running mixes (and a whole lot more), and developed products and online tools (like the ability to track runs, challenge other runners in the community, and engage in competitive events locally) that supported and enhanced the offline experience.

Since its launch in May 2006, the community has not only grown but THRIVED, earning the brand a much-deserved Cannes Lions 2007 award and lots of positive press.

“But what about numbers? Where’s the ROI? WHERE’S THE BEEF?!”

Feast your eyes on this, my friends! As of February, 2008, Nike+ members have:

• Run over 50,000,000 miles
• Logged over 14,000,000 runs
• Issued over 450,000 challenges
• Created “the world’s largest running club” with >75,000,000 members!!!!!!

And here’s the crown jewel:

  • 40% of community members who didn’t own Nike+ ended up BUYING!
  • 94% of consumers agreed to recommend to a friend

When was the last time your marketing campaign yielded a 40% conversion-to-sales ratio?

I rest my case.

Now, if you STILL haven’t done so, it’s time to go ahead and vote for the Genius’ presentation here.

Resume 2.0

Although the so-called “Social Media Press Release” (pioneered by my pals at SHIFT Communications) has received [arguably] equal doses of praise and criticism, the Genius, whose word is Gospel!—at least on this blog—has this to say about it:


For those of you unfamiliar with the Social Media Release debate, Brian Solis does an excellent job of recapping the evolution and arguments both for and against the SMR. Most of the arguments against, I’d like to point out, smack of a common syndrome I like to call “I-fear-change!”

The problem, my pretties, is that change is a-comin’. In PR, in marketing, and in media at large. And whether you get on the train now or spend the next decade chasing (or throwing stones at) it, it’s leaving the station—with or without you.

The Genius, of course, is not a PR professional, so my interest in SMR is perhaps conceptual—i.e., what value does it have for my clients? For my company? For my career? (Me, me, me!) And the short answer to all those is questions is: PLENTY.

For example: consider applying its principles—or those of the Social Media Newsroom (another SHIFT contribution)—to your resume. What if instead of keeping your entire professional history in a Word doc that you update only when you absolutely have to, you created a Social Media Resume that highlights your experience and interests, provides links to your various online profiles, invites comments, aggregates news, builds “link love”—and (if done well), becomes a virtual vacuum of career advancement opportunities? Heck, even if a social media resume doesn’t open the flood gates to opportunity, at the very least, it will save a few trees and eliminate the need to send monster-truck-sized attachments to prospective employers. And, for the time being at least, it will set you apart from the pack by [at the very least] highlighting your working knowledge of social media tools.

Think about it.

As a Genius who endeavors to practice what she preaches, I decided to do a little experimenting with the idea of a social media resume myself. First, I dug around to see if there were any good examples already out there (the Genius doesn’t like cliches, but will use one just this once: “Why reinvent the wheel?”). I found Chris Penn’s landmark example and the ubiquitous Bryan Person’s famous “Die, Resume! Die! Die! Die!” blog post (which, conveniently, included his own example and ‘how to’). There’s Rohit Bhargava’s social media bio and Matt Dickman’s social-media-enriched ‘traditional’ resume.

Armed with a satisfying portion of good ideas, I set to work on a first draft of my very own social media resume, cherry-picking among the infinite options, and surrendering to the idea that, like all things digital, it will always be a work-in-progress.

For those of you who believe that following in the Genius’ footsteps might result in a little genius rubbing up against rubbing off on you (Pervert!), here my recipe:

  1. Create a WordPress account.
  2. Buy your domain name (if you don’t own yet, first, slap yourself upside the head, then DO SOMETHING about it, puh-lease!)
  3. Write a short “About me” intro. This is in effect your ‘cover letter’ or ‘executive summary’. That doesn’t mean it should be boring or lame.
  4. Add all of your contact info, links to all of your social media profiles (I added LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, & Slideshare—for now).
  5. Add links to your blog(s) and any work samples readily available online. If your work samples aren’t yet online, consider posting them on, or similar service.
  6. Add a link to your traditional resume, so that folks that insist on killing trees can do so at their convenience.
  7. Add a feed to your purpose-built links.
  8. Consider adding any of the following: headshot, intro audio or video, your speaking/travel calendar, any rich media you’ve created (podcasts, videos, etc.), recommendations/rave reviews.
  9. Turn commenting ON. This is a 2-way dialogue, remember?
  10. Make it easy as possible for folks to reach you, blog about you, hire you, link to you, and so on.

For those of you wondering why it’s not enough to have a complete LinkedIn profile, I say—that’s a really good start. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, well… do not pass Go, do not collect $200… go directly to and start there.

But for those of you looking for an ‘edge’ or simply sharing Bryan’s “Resume, Die!” sentiment, this new approach just may be the ticket.

A double dose of Genius

While the term “Web 2.0” has become rather cliche, it’s ugly step-children, Marketing 2.0, PR 2.0, Branding 2.0, Advertising 2.0, and (Dear God) Business 2.0 are just beginning to see their days in the sun.

Unfortunately, there’s a gigantic gap between coining a term and embodying it—and thus we hear a lot of talk and see very few results on any of the above fronts (though the Genius does her best to chronicle those rare gems that do).

Today’s Bonafide Genius Awards go—for better or worse—to two shining examples in the “talk” category. (It seems my search for examples of “results” this week has been fruitless.) Clever, pointed, entertaining, and spot-on in their articulation of the industry cross-roads that smart marketing pros are responding to, they’re shining examples of how dull, cliche terms get a new shine when someone puts a little Genius into their message.

Congrats to Openhere for The Break Up and Paul Isakson of space150 for What’s Next in Marketing & Advertising.

Advertising 2.0 Genius (a.k.a. “The Break-Up”)

Marketing 2.0 Strategy (a.k.a. “What’s Next in Marketing & Advertising”)

P.S. A good number of you (the smarter ones, that is) have already seen these, but for the rest of you… watch and learn.

Social Media Marketing Do’s & Don’t’s: Part 1

Hopping on the Social Media Marketing bandwagon? You’re not alone. Seems user-generated content and social media marketing are becoming as ubiquitous as the tacky inflatable snowmen with which my neighbors continue to pollute their yards.

The trick, my little sugarplums, isn’t to simply embrace the trend… but to master it.

Or in your case, not to make an ass of yourself the first time out of the gate! [sigh]

Lucky for you, I’m feeling rather generous today! And so, The Genius shall share her personal list of Social Media “Do’s and Don’t’s”—with the full knowledge that you’ll probably screw your program up anyway.

[sigh] It isn’t easy being so brilliant and flawless. But it’s my cross to bear.

Social Media Marketing “DO’s”:
1. For crap’s sake, please DO establish clear business objectives for your social media marketing efforts—before you even think about launching a campaign of any kind.

Seriously: If I see one more blog, podcast, or pointless viral marketing campaign launch with no clear strategy other than to satisfy the overgrown ego of some bonehead executive [who got their MBA when dinosaurs still roamed the earth]… well, I just might barf!

2. DO establish your metrics—yes, before you launch.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure, right, people? It’s Marketing 101.

Social media is no exception to this rule.

Now, I know that “goals” and “metrics” seem tedious and about as sexy as plumber’s crack, but trust me: it’s your only hope of having something more meaningful to say the next time your boss asks how the social media campaign is doing than, “Uh…”

[Side note: Why is it that so many businesses treat their marketing strategy like a leisurely drive through the country?

“No, we don’t have a map or specific destination in mind… but we’ll know we’re good when we get there…. Oh wait… I think we’re lost… and we’re running out of gas! Shit… I told you we should have asked for directions!!!!”

Don’t be stupid. And don’t be a wimp. ROI isn’t the only meaningful business metric, so don’t become a slave to it. Consider what’s most relevant, metric-wise to your company’s business objectives. For a cheat sheet on some of the best metrics for SMM, check this out.

3. DO your homework. (And I don’t mean “Do do your homework”, because that would be very messy.)
Social media isn’t rocket science, but it’s not your run-of-the-mill tool for broadcasting product features and benefits either. You’ve taken a great first step by reading this blog post; now go read a few others. This basic primer by one of my favorite marketing bloggers, CK, is another great place to start. If all else fails, I’m sure there’s a copy of Social Media for Dummies out there somewhere just waiting for a home.

Side note: If you’re a control-freak and can’t get jiggy with the idea of your marketing messages becoming a two-way communication, perhaps you’d be better off investing your correspondence-course education on something more suitable—like annoying pop-up ads or a nice, cheesy infomercial.

3. DO get to know the community before you ask something of them.
Like it or not, the same rules apply here as in the larger game of life, only amplified. Read: you can’t show up to a new school/office/neighborhood and immediately ask people for stuff. You’ve got to give a little first. Get to know them. Maybe even let them get to know you.

To do this well, you’ll need to a) actually spend some time observing and [gasp!] interacting with the communities that are relevant to your market segment(s).

I.e., What conversations are taking place? And who is shaping/influencing those conversations (and how)?

I know it may sound creepy, but you’ve got to do a little lurking before you barge in with your brilliant addition to the conversation. Get to know the topics, the people, and the tone of the dialogue. Remember the key word here is “ENGAGEMENT”—not broadcasting.

4. DO take an integrated approach to your social media efforts—particularly with respect to SEO.
Yes, yes, I know I’ve been bashing SEO since before the dawn of man… but the truth is, an integrated approach to search and social media makes a lot more sense than throwing either one under a bus. Social media marketing (and blogging in particular) can have a dramatic impact on organic search—assuming, of course, that you’re clever enough to pepper your blog with relevant keywords and phrases, and to keep the content fresh and the incoming links/comments/trackbacks a-flowing.


5. DO start small and “fail fast”.

The skeptics who poo-poo social media as an effective marketing tool do so because, well… the vast majority of social media campaigns are pretty big failures. After all, there’s a learning curve. Plus… few of the folks that have come before you were blessed with the marvelous wisdom I’ve bestowed on you here!

The question is, will you follow in their mediocre footsteps? Or blow them away with your strategic, iterative, and flexible approach that treads carefully [and cheaply] into new territory, all the while honing your strategy on-the-fly.

Ooh, that’s so Web 2.0!

Tune in next week for “Part 2: The DONTs.”