Sex and the Agile Marketer

Over the last few years, I have noticed a division in the types of marketing people I meet.Some colleagues have referred to this as data driven vs. marcom/branding types but in my mind this view never really worked.While the increasing measurability of the web does provide an unfair advantage to marketers with MBAs and an undergraduate degree in something unsexy like engineering or chemistry, it always seemed like there was something more at play. In recent weeks, I’ve been a part of a team that is transforming its product development philosophy from a “waterfall” (lots of time building a fixed specification followed by a long development cycle) to an “agile” approach (shorter development cycles with lots of iterations since you can’t really know reality until you try something). Software developers have employed this methodology for years but it isn’t just a more effective way to get “good enough” products out on time.It is a way of thinking that can be embraced by other  functions including marketing. I know that many of the world’s greatest dictators/managers want to believe that marketers can accurately predict the future but they can’t.I’ve never been able to do it and as a result have resorted to an iterative approach that relies on low cost testing of media and programs.This makes the ad sales reps at the trade magazines or WBUR radio angry but the fact is that marketing is as much about science as art.I know, I know, we all have to build a brand by spending money on difficult-to-measure things like PR and advertising.By using iterative, agile tactics, however, it is possible to mitigate your risk, improve your overall marketing ROI and put a smile on your pointy headed CFO’s face. Taking inspiration from an article on the Web 2.0 organization, I created this table that highlights what I see as some of the key differences between a traditional waterfall and an agile approach to marketing. Waterfall Marketer Agile Marketer Focus on fixed annual marketing plan Builds monthly, weekly or even daily plans Repeats of familiar programs Is always testing of new programs and media A few expense programs Many low cost programs, scale up proven programs Sees personal value as relative to size of budget Sees personal value as relative to results Creative Analytic Know what media is best from datacards Always testing since doesn’t know the best media Still believes in physical events Skeptical about the effectiveness of tradeshows Brand comes from long expensive strategy projects Brand comes from the experience of customer and business Sees things as predictable Lives in an unpredictable world “Can’t measure that” is often an excuse...

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Day 30: Crossing the Futility Line

Well my friends, the end is here.  I learned many things on this journey and plan to share them over the next few weeks.  In particular, I discovered that a couple of weeks of Twitter use can’t make you a social media expert (BTW, it takes at least a couple of years in a busted consumer Internet firm or a short stint as a used car salesman to seal the deal). As always, these picks are for entertainment purposes only (no wagering, please). Digfoot -I thought I had seen it all with aggregation sites until I found Digfoot.  They take things to another level with a list of 3,701 sites (yes, you read that right, 3,701 sites).  I believe we have a winner. Diigo – I can just hear their PR guy prepping their CEO for the big press briefing: “We’re powerful research tool and a knowledge-sharing community, not a social bookmarking site.” I dunno folks, looks like another bookmarking site to me. Orkut – A social networking and discussion site with an odd name operated by Google. Disqus -I can use this site to turn my blog comments into an online discussion.  To be honest, I am a little short on comments right now.  You could help with that, please… Skyrock -Share pictures and video… Meet friends… Does this sound familiar?  It does, however, seem to have some traffic. GetSatisfaction – “Get Satisfaction is a place where people can get the most from the products they use”.  These guys provide a free community where businesses and their customers can share ideas and solve problems.  You should check out the list of companies using this site. Kirtsy – In their words: “Kirtsy is a social media platform of pure goodness. A plaza for the peachy. A portal to the pretty. A place to find cool things…. And more.”  Wow, I am speechless. Funny or Die – You know the end is near when celebrities a piece of the VC fueled action.  We can thank Will Farrell for his support of this site. Orangutag -And finally we have number 100.  As if I don’t already watch too much TV, I can now create a watchlist for my favorite shows and get a personalized RSS feed to share them with everyone.  I just need a super BigGulp, a half gallon of ice cream and a bag of Doritos to go with this site. I’d like to thank everyone who made this happen.  My parents, my friends at Firstgiving, donors to my fundraising page as well as that aspiring social media mogul...

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Day 28: The End is Near

As I was reading the latest MIT Tech Review (the one with Leah Culver of Pownce on the cover), it dawned on me that most of my efforts on this adventure will likely be wasted.  The cold hard fact is that most of these site have no business models (I know, revenue can be a distraction).  I imagine that the party is going to end pretty soon and their investors are will have one heck of a hangover. Here we go: Heavy: Another video site. This one is not exactly for my demographic profile. Propeller and Blinklist: More bookmarking sites. Googlereader: An easy-to-use news reader from everyone’s favorite search engine. Slide: A slideshow and photo sharing site. Odeo and Sevenload: Audio and video sharing sites. Total: 91 down, 9 to go.  Wish me luck and show me the...

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Day 26: Never Give up…

As the futility of this exercise begins to set in, I am trying to remember those kids at the Brackett Elementary School and the people who pledged money to my online fundraising campaign. Here is the latest installment. Please remember these are for entertainment purposes only. Friendster – Along with LinkedIn, these guys were one of the original social media sites.  Frankly I am surprised I’ve never received an invitation from a friend.  My guess is that it is an east coast-west coast thing.  I bet these guys are now thinking “man, we coulda been Facebook if we opened things up earlier”. SecondBrain and Social URL – Two more aggregators to help me “syndicate” my microdrivel. Webshots – Another photo sharing site. The Hype Machine and iLike – Two more music sites. This brings my total to 85 with 4 short days to go.  Keep those donations...

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Day 21: More Sights and Sounds

OK.  I’ve finally broken out of my recent funk thanks to suggestions from a less sinister duck (that lazy slacker Robb Corduck) as well as a bunch of recent donation from some Fg’ers (thanks to Mark, Mags, Suze and JH) and old Experian-QAS colleagues (thanks Jaime and Jane:-).  Strangely I haven’t seen any suggestions from Fidel Castro – despite being seldom in doubt and frequently wrong, I imagine he visits some interesting sites from his deathbed. I’ve been on a music and video kick this week as I feel the need for some new inspiration. Finetune – This is yet another site that provides streamed music.  Like its competitors, it also includes a recommendation engine and a community.  I particularly like the pop-up player with its iTunes feel.  I also discovered the singer Beth Orton and her intoxicating voice.  This site will be in the heavy music rotation until a new competitor unseats it. Fuzz – These guys get extra credit for persistence.  As I am learning every day, starting a new community from scratch is hard work.  I got 5 emails in the last 24 hours from people trying to befriend me.  These messages were clearly handcrafted.  I was impressed with one sender who knew that Tang was consumed by the astronauts in space (clearly a trivia buff or another hipness seeking Gen-x’er).  I’ll be back when I’m in an indie music mood.  Rock on Mr. Blimp. Pandora – I tried this music community over a year ago but can’t recall why I didn’t go back.  It will be a while before I go back unless I get tired of Finetune’s recommendations. Godtube – This site further proves the point that there is a community for all kinds of people.  Maybe I’ll earn some brownie points from the man upstairs for promoting it. Myoutdoorsite – This is another square state special.  I was looking for a duck hunting photo to post here but that seemed in bad taste.  I particularly enjoyed the posed pictures of little kids along with daddy’s recently killed animal. It is best not to coddle these children.  We are at war after all. Total: 79 down, 21 to go.  Stay tangy and keep those online donations coming....

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