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new media, new marketing

2006-06-15 19:09:55.73104+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

An excerpt from an internal email, I don't want to get too in-depth because... well... as should be obvious from this response we're discussing how open as a company we should be, but I'll excerpt a small bit that I responded to:

As I sent this out, I realized it might be nice to have an internal blog for just such idea swapping. Could even be an external blog if just constraining the dialogue somewhat, but internal would be freer.

A conversation to have is one about how constrained the dialog should be. Part of what Scoble has done for Microsoft[Wiki] is giving it a human face, not just in his own weblog but by encouraging various developers to get out there and talk about their jobs. The boundaries are still being decided, but occasionally now it's possible to see who fixed a particular bug, and for some of the long-standing bugs the discussions about how these finally came to the attention of the person who could fix them, and the process by which the problem was solved, can be interesting.

Not so interesting that I have a particular example to point you to, but interesting enough that I've read through a couple of them.

It's a trade-off, between presenting a human face to potential customers, and in so doing acknowledging that there may be flaws and imperfections in the company, and that sometimes competitive advantage may be compromised, or presenting a polished shiny face. The advantage of the former is that it's more interesting and may bring more eyeballs to the process, we just have to figure out if they're the right eyeballs.

I think Doc Searles and the rest of the Cluetrain gang are full of hoohey in many ways (although they manage to get a lot of attention and appear to make a reasonable living at it, and Doc has done a bunch to help out some of my favorite tech causes), but markets are, indeed, conversations, and we need to choose whether those conversations are going to be had in the stilted formalism of conventional business, with trade show booths and four color glossies that have been through committee, or informally in the heat of the process.

I prefer the latter, but I also realize that I am distinctly not a market sample, and I understand that while there are opportunities in the informal, there's been a language developed for these processes over the years, and there are a lot of customers who are very confused if the form of the communication doesn't match the expectations of the customers.

Think of it as the difference between the expense account lunch with the marketing guy and the shared beer in the bar after the show with the developer. The question is: do you want the drunk developer more visible in your marketing efforts? Surprisingly, the answer may be "yes".

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Humor Weblogs Microsoft moron Consumerism and advertising Beer Marketing Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-15 21:49:05.701755+00 by: petronius

Seems to me these boundary issues depend on who's reading the blog. The IT staff might be reassured by some insight into the bug-fixing culture at MS, but the CFO might be spooked by the "well, stick in a few more lines of code and see if it blows up or not" process.

I remember a thread on ZDNET some years ago, commenting on a speech by some MS poobah to a group of business leaders where he dissed Linux and open source in general. The open source jihadis sneered that he didn't dare give that speech to IT guys who might see things differently. My reply was that he gave the speech to the people who sign the checks, and MS's concentration on that group had been the source of its success. Maybe Ballmer needs to do a blog, too.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-16 12:56:46.564802+00 by: warkitty

Interesting conversation.

A lot of what corporations do for more subtle advertising is to put a face on the brand. A personality, if you will, that makes the company seem like its legal counterpart,an individual. By opening some of the dialog in that blog, many are finding it helps to bring more of that appearance about but most limit who can post in those blogs *and* have filters on it, one for internal and one for external dialogs.

So, for instance my company's business partner NXTbook has a blog. Several of the folk there will post in the blog, but the posts are their take on articles or research, news stories that mention NXTbook, etc. They put a tone of voice behind the people because you're reading their thoughts, but the limits are set. The internal blog works are similar BUT you get also to see information about what the company is working on developing and internal news.

So, your company could easily have such a dual blog. Set up several people that are good writers to post occasionally in the public blogspace about new innovations taht could impact the company in positive ways, news stories that mention your work, etc. Then the internal blog for internal dialog, the shared beer with the developer.