Marketing 2.0, Now or Later?

I recieved a comment on my last post (WooHoo) from Lev at Co-Creators, wondering if the "weed & seed" analogy is primarily apt for an interium, transition period, while traditional marketers figure it out.

My first thought is that before even that transition can begin, tradional marketers will first have to "get it" that a change is necessary! Most everyone around here is charging ahead with the status quo marketing plans. There are a few pockets of awareness that things are changing, but even there, the thought is that we will do some sort of a small pilot to prove the concept, to validate ROI. My fear (hope) is that we are going to be caught by suprise by some event that races through the blogoshere and makes us look really bad. I would like to think that some foresight now could take us down a controlled transition, seed & weed approach. My experience tells me differently, that we will get hit by a big giant ball of BLOGs.

Back to the original point, I think the seed & weed approach would be a good transition approach, but there will need to be proactive forethought to put it in place.

Seed and Weed

I just watched Michael Arrington’s interview video with a bunch of Web 2.0 CEO’s. Very thought provoking, in bits and pieces… One quote that really struck me was from Jotspot CEO, Joe Kraus. He was talking about the future of publishing and publishers. His view is that the publisher’s role will be to "seed and weed". In other words, put initial ideas out there and see what happens to grow, while keeping an eye on things and making sure too many weeds (trolls, spam, etc.) don’t choke out the growth of the good content.

I wonder how this metaphor could be carried over to marketing.

The big concern of traditional organizations is loosing control of the message. Therefore most traditional marketing is about driving traffic back to the controlled content source, the corporate web site.

Viral marketing, the apparent preferred approach of Web 2.0 generation organizations, on the other hand is primarily concerned with the spread of "the word", by mouth, by net, whatever. The main concern seems to be maximizing the spread, regardless of how true to the originally intended message.

Maybe "Seed & Weed" is the common ground between these two approaches. This would foster spreading the word while maintaining intended focus, if not control. Not quite sure what this would look like, just an idea…

Next Generation Marketing

It seems to me that the Social Networking space is heating up. MySpace seems to be all the rage. I am certain that some organizations are trying to figure out how to flip this phenomenon into a marketing advantage. The first mention of this I have seen is MarthaSpace. I have also seen companies trying to embed some social network functionality into their Web 1.0 site.

I think the next step is to build vertical network communities with a hugh amount of functionality (blogs, RSS, OPML, Pics, video, Tags, aggregrators, etc) but using  accessible metaphors (Journal vs. blog, Bulletin board vs. del.icio.us, for example). Give the community free access. Charge those that want to provide information to that community.

The community must have value in and of itself just based on the community members. As traffic to the community grows, the price content providers are willing to pay goes up. The key to making this work is to define a focused community that clearly has a common thread that content providers can clearly target.

The problem that advertisers have with something like MySpace is that there is no clear focus, almost any organization could advertise there, and the impact would not be much more effective than advertising on broadcast media.

I know what this should look like, but alas I have not have the tech skills to build it. Anyone interested in having a conversation?

More Thinking…

Maybe creating another Social Site isn’t the answer. Maybe the approach should be some sort of vertical meta-data site that finds and aggregrates blogs and other social content from all sources. An add-on could be simple "in-house" tools for those not currently active and don’t have the resources (time, knowledge, etc.) to go about setting up their own environment. These are people that don’t care about tech stuff, they just want to engage in the conversation.

too small

I was in a meeting with about 30 marketing professionals (brand managers, ad agencies, PR firms, etc.). At lunch I asked the question at my table: "what do you think of blogs and the other types of new media on the horizon?" One of the agency folks responded:

We are keeping our eye on it, but it is still too small to be concerned about.

I guess they haven’t looked at the rate of growth, the kind of data you would expect a good marketer to look at. Unfortunately my mind was not quick enough to make that point at lunch…

Of course they went back to the meeting to discuss marketing plans and what will be delivered in 18 months… I can’t help but think how different the landscape will look in 18 months.