Mom2Summit Panel Video: It’s the end of Marketing as we know it. And we feel fine.

Well it took me half a week, but here is the full video of our panel from the Mom2Summit last weekend. The title was “It’s the end of marketing as we know it. And we feel fine.” First the full video.


Panel: It’s the end of Marketing as we know it. And we feel fine. from Ed Schipul on Vimeo.

Lessons learned about video: Given this was my first real attempt at video, I learned a few things. Like you can’t work with MOV files on a PC with Movie Maker. Macs have iMovie, which rocks. And iMovie compresses video into mv4 files which is cool with youtube. Limiters: Youtube limits video length to 10 minutes. Facebook limits video length to 20 minutes. Google video allowed longer videos but they are shutting it down. The ONLY product that worked was Vimeo for a 32:56 video. In short, vimeo ROCKS!

A direct link to “It’s the end of marketing as we know it. And we feel fine

A Modest Proposal for Brand Colocation Fees

coke-a-colaIt is a common mantra in marketing that our brands live in the mind of the consumer. A recent television commercial for a major software brand quotes the Chief Marketing Officer of a major beverage brand saying

“Our brands are owned by the consumers who love them.”

Or as the Social Customer blog quotes:

You Don’t Own Your Brand – Your Customer Does
– Christopher F. Carfi, CEO of Cerado

Perhaps the first people to observe this are Ries and Trout in the book Positioning. That brands occupy a small space, a niche, a “creneau” as the French say, in your mind. The brands are in your brain and you can’t remove them. We can not remove Coke-a-ColaTM, MicrosoftTM, DisneyTM, GoogleTM, ExxonTM, SonyTM, NFLTM, The Super BowlTM, The Olympic GamesTM, etcTM, etcTM, etcTM from our minds even if we wanted to!

And brands, mine included, invest heavily to achieve this. To place our brand in your brain we use PR tactics and advertising. And to defend our brands against infringement or dilution. Now that we own a creneau in your brain we do not want someone else to come along and mess it up! That is OUR corner of YOUR brain. Don’t touch it.

You can NOT have a Super BowlTM party. That is a trademarked brand, albeit a government authorized monopoly functioning at the pleasure of the people represented. But that is another post.

If Chuck-E-CheeseTM starts offering Mickey MouseTM themed parties without paying Disney for use, they get sued.

That is a hypothetical of course but the point is that if one brand tries to access that portion of your brain encoded by another brand in your brain, then we have a legal battle of the brands. Fighting. Over a space. In your brain.

Disney and the NFL are fighting over a space in YOUR brain.

coke-a-cola-cupAnd who is paying YOU for the lease of the space in your brain? Who gave the Super Bowl brand-colocation rights in your brain? And if not, can you reasonably avoid the barrage of branding messages out there designed to write on that spot in your brain? Of course not.

So why aren’t you being paid a brand colocation fee, rent if you will, by brands that are occupying your brain? You are watching tennis with your kids in the room on TV and the GEICOTM advertisements places a freakin lizard and money with googely-eyes into your head. What’s in it for you?

Not much. You are just the real estate where brands live. And you get nothing for it.

Brand Colocation Fees: a Modest Brand Proposal

You should charge brands a fee to live in our brains. Lets think about it:

If the dude was sleeping on your couch for a day and then left, you call that a “favor for a friend” or a “minor inconvenience.” But if the dude MOVED INTO your house and stayed in that same spot in your house day after day, sooner or later you’d give him a bill for rent, right? So how is this different?

In fact the unwelcome-boarder analogy can be extended. Say that another vagrant shows up. The two proceed to fight over YOUR sofa in YOUR living room. Then if you mention either of them by name they SUE YOU! Yet aren’t THEY the interlopers? Have THEY not taken residence in YOUR living room? Aren’t they quite literally fighting over your sofa, disrupting you, in your house? Why do you put up with this?

Well I tell ya, in Texas, we don’t. No sir. We all have guns and drive pickup trucks and by golly we’ll chase them out screaming like Yosemite SamTM shooting at them as you run so far awaySM. By golly. Or we’ll charge them a fair rent. Either works. You gotta be flexible in a recession, right? So anyway.

The only reasonable conclusion is that a Brand-Colocation-Fee must be charged for the brand to “co-locate” in our brain.   A Brand-Colocation Fee (BCF) is the only fair solution to reconcile the years of free rent accumulated by these interlopers, these free riders, residing in and fighting over the sofas and man-chairs in our minds. Even that extra comfy chair your Dad always took when he got home from work. The brands want to sit in that chair too! It is only reasonable that brands must purchase the brain’s equivalent of the very fair and equitable NFL Personal Seat License (PSL).

And like a PSL is not a seat, just the rights to buy a seat, so too a BCF doesn’t guarantee a space in your brain, just the branding rights to that corner of your brain. If I have no need for a number-one-or-number-two creneau for aircraft engines, then you can ignore the brands anyway.

Hey, it’s YOUR BRAIN, right? RIGHT?

How to calculate the Brand-Colocation Fee

This of course brings us to three new challenges:

  1. How to calculate the appropriate BCF for a given brand and;
  2. how to collect the appropriate fees from a brand and;
  3. how to disburse the interlopers’ money to the brain-land-owners

First lets agree that the average consumer knows thousands of brands and has many many “positions” in her mind as a consumer. Each of these positions is unique and has one, maybe two brands, that occupy that space. Number one or number two.

Additionally brands are faced with a global marketplace and regional competitors. It is very confusing to track whose brain has recorded which brand. And so as not to be a burden to the brands, we humbly suggest that brand colocation fees should be modest on a per-person scale. But how do we manage this?

A Brand Colocation Fee Union (BCFU) to Manage BCF Collection and Disbursement

We need an efficient oversight committee to calculate and manage the collection of brand colocation fees. To take into account birth and death so Disney isn’t paying a BCF to a deceased account. Yet we, the brain holders, need equitable representation. We need in fact a Union to ensure our brain space is properly represented. But what do we call this Union? I propose a Brand Colocation Fee Union.

The Brand Colocation Fee Union, or BCFU for short, will manage the calculation and collection of brand colocation fees in a fair and equitable way for brands and the consumers alike.

Given this is a complex matter we further propose to put all of the Corrupt New York Bankers back to work creating brand lookup tables and more imaginary math to calculate a fair and equitable and defensible (and probably corrupt) set of rate tables.

The BCFU brand source tables should take into account factors including but not limited to:

  1. Some brands are welcome and I, as a consumer, will gladly waive the fee. Yes this means I am brain washed, but why else do open source advocates love the completely proprietary Apple brand? So sometimes the BCFU fee should be zero. We can sort the crazies using demographic data.
  2. Fees should be equitable and reasonable. Given the relatively low cost of many consumer products, say a Coke, an annual fee for even such a strong brand might only be one (1) US dollar per person per year (not consumer as even non-buyers carry the burden of the coke brand in their brain).
  3. Brands that insist on existing in our brains, but serve no purpose but to annoy, should be penalized! Just cause they bug us. Specifically brands should be penalized for advertising to the wrong demographic. Think “Head On” or “The Clapper” – two brands closely followed by Capital One, AFLAC and Geico for seriously-damn-annoying factor. These people should pay a reasonable person $10 per year.
  4. Political brands, as much as I hate to say it, should be exempt from BCFU fees when sending information for the service of their constituents. But should reasonably be charged a penalty for negative campaigning. After all, they are working to reposition a brand in your brain to a new position in YOUR BRAIN. Again, we leave this to the BCFU to calculate with their fancy economists.
  5. Crappy brands like Larry Flint or Girls Gone Wildthey owe me BIG. I want 1 million dollars per year for these stupid brands! But again, being a reasonable and represented person, I’ll defer to the wisdom of the unions when it comes to equitable brand taxation.

Next Steps in the Battle to Win Back Your Mind (or at least charge rent for the space)

To recap, given Brands exist in OUR BRAINS. we should charge a fair rent.

We propose to call that brand-rent a brand colocation fee (BCF). And, being American, we wish to outsource the hard part to a union called the Brand Colocation Fee Union (BCFU).

What are your thoughts? Which brands should pay the most? The least? Which politician or law firm can get this started for us? A brain-space space-race. Our new bureaucracy, the BCFU, surely wouldn’t let us down?

It’s the end of Marketing as we know it. And we feel fine.

I had the privilege of moderating the panel “It’s the end of Marketing as we know it. And we feel fine.” at the Mom2Summit this weekend in Houston. With the help of Katie we coordinated a panel with these three talented bloggers:

  1. Kirsten Chase (Motherhood Uncensored, Cool Mom Picks)
  2. Jordan Ferney (Oh Happy Day)
  3. Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess, Good Mom, Bad Mom)

In the planning phase it occurred to me that panel introductions are typically a bit boring. This led to “instead of introductions we could do ____” type thinking and conversations with HK. Various ideas such as non-existent peacock sightings (don’t ask) and bullhorns were ruled out.

Somewhere along the way Rachel suggested we do “interpretive readings” which led to a quick call to a friend from AAF at the Pastorini Bosby talent agency in Houston. They provided three amazing options and we would up selecting the brilliant actor David George. And David rocked the house!

Update: Here is the panel followed by the introductions:


Panel: It’s the end of Marketing as we know it. And we feel fine. from Ed Schipul on Vimeo.

Without further adieu. Here are the three blogger introductions for my panel at Mom2summit! (And a huge shout out to Katie Laird for all of her help putting the panel together!)

A dramatic reading of Kirsten Chase‘s blog post V is for Vasectomy.

A William Shakespeare Shatner tribute to the beauty of Jordan Ferney‘s blog Oh Happy Day.

Oh my, where do you start with  The Bloggess? Well, we chose to go back all the way to Jesus.

Thanks to our organizers and the sponsors of Mom2Summit for bringing this great conversation to Houston! I also know from working with her that Maggie put in a ton of time on the summit so thanks Maggie!

PS – MistyKhan has a great recap of day 1 from the conference here. And be sure to check out the mom2summit photos on flickr!

PPS – Huge THANKS to Monica and Laura and Carrie for trusting me to run a panel. What were you thinking? Heh.

Mom2Summit Feb 19-21 2009 in Houston Texas

So all of this time I have actually liked Gwen Bell. And THEN I find out her panel is at the exact same time as my panel at the Mom2Summit in Houston Texas! Check the Saturday morning agenda. Oh ya, Gwen’s treachery is all there in black and white. Same bat time, competing bat channel at 9:30 AM. So now I must swear a blood oath to be Gwen’s mortal enemy!!!

mom2summit-2009Moving right along, the Mom2Summit isn’t just for moms. It is a conversation between women and marketers. From the site:

The Mom 2.0 Summit is a place for marketers, bloggers, and mompreneurs to get to know one another. A place to connect, converse, and build relationships. This year’s Summit discussions will focus on social media, marketing, networks, and brand building. We will explore what those relationships mean and how we all contribute to social media.

I am very excited about moderating the panel with

  1. Kirsten Chase (Motherhood Uncensored, Cool Mom Picks)
  2. Jordan Ferney (Oh Happy Day)
  3. Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess, Good Mom, Bad Mom)

Initially I declined to be on the panel because it was recommended by Katie, who is a little crazy, Maggie who is a little cheesy, and it has Jenny on the panel, who is a LOT crazy. Throw in Laura and Monica as two of the organizers and well it could get dangerous for a guy. But I’m brave. Plus I have a score to settle with a certain blogger competing for my time slot….

I hope to see y’all next week at the Mom 2 Summit!

UPDATE: Had an awesome pre conference call with Kirsten, Jordan and Jenny with the help of Katie. Really think this panel is going to have a lot of value for our attendees. So go register!

UPDATE UPDATE: Um…. I completely think @gwenbell rocks!

Personal brands, being human, can not truly be consistent.

Reading Gwen’s post Leave it at the Alter about personal brands got me thinking.

hans-haacke-blue-sailPerhaps our online personal brands are really pseudonyms for the Umbrella Corporation? A protective wrapper than includes a “a highly-trained security force capable of rescue, reconnaissance, and para-military operations“ division. And one sub-corp that makes band aids for the kids when they skin a knee so we also get some good PR for our radical transparency.

So for the sake of argument, let’s assume that personal brand are the umbrella. Yet humans, like Tara, are very diverse creatures. We cycle through roles as Goffman‘s Symbolic interactionists. From wikipedia:

…people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation.

A fancy way of saying we act differently in different situations when we play different roles. As a speaker I am outgoing. As a person, not so much, testing as an introvert.

The fundamental flaw with personal brands and radical transparency is brand consumers can’t handle this dissonance. Yet a human will always be a messy puddle of emotions and role playing and bluffing and reality.

Specifically brands are strengthened as they move towards one (1) thing in the mind of the consumer. Positioning is about the internal brand singularity. From Ries:

The Law of Singularity: The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. What is a brand? A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect. It’s as simple or as difficult as that.

THE leading energy drink. THE best violin. THE fastest sports car.   Get it?

So real brands CAN be consistent. Coke-a-Cola is “the real thing”. Personal brands, being human, can NOT truly be consistent. Unless we hold back and show only our personal-brand-act in all public channels.

Steve Martin has an act, but that isn’t him. The fact that he inherited a personal brand of his name simply means he must live a double life, or triple life, of cover ups. Or risk not being true to the personal brand “Steve Martin” which surely isn’t him. (when did he stop doing stand up?)

So yes we have a personal brand. But they will never be as strong as a real brand.

And on that note, personal brands are horribly unfair. Think about it. People with no marketing training are compelled to come up with a brand name for all social software channels. But unlike companies that can trademark a brand; they typically don’t. And companies can buy their domain name. But how can an individual reserve their personal brand on every new social web site? So even IF an individual comes up with a great personal brand, they have no formal method of protecting it. Completely an unfair challenge to the individual. Yet there it is.

Great post on personal branding Gwen! Clearly you got me thinking. Thanks!

The image? Hans Haacke’s Blue Sail. It is every changing and completely dependent upon the fan as part of the installation. Just as our personal brands are completely dependent on how others perceive them. Whether in person or through social media. Our brands are singular and exist in the mind of the consumer, correct or not, if we wish or not, they just are. Sitting in a spot in their brain. And that is a tad bit unfair…

The Simple Truth About Your Business

I just finished reading The Simple Truth About Your Business, Why Focused and Steady Beats Business at the Speed of Light. By Alex Brennan-Martin, a man I have had the privilege of meeting. And a man who has earned a good amount of my money from celebrating dinners at his Houston restaurant with my wife over the years.

brennans-after-the-fireLike many things I like, I need it broken down. Numbered lists and exactness of speech. So I figured I would like a book titled The Simple Truth! Specifically The Simple Truth from the book   on page 25 states:

The Simple Truth answers the three most important questions in your quest for excellence and success:

  1. What is the real product my customer is buying?
  2. What special ingredient differentiates my product?
  3. Why is my customer buying what I am selling?

So the “for examples” are:

  1. Wal-Mart’s Simple Truth: “To lower the world’s cost of living.” – pg 27
  2. Disney World is not in the theme-park business, or even the entertainment business; it is in show business. – pg 28

Brennan goes on to clarify

You cannot deliver the Simple Truth unless the employees understand the Simple Truth. The customer is numero uno, but until the employees’ needs are aligned with those of the customer, there is an inherent conflict.”

For Brennan the simple truth of his restaurant is:

Creating Great Customer Memories – pg 50

Which brings me to a challenge with our business. We used to say simply “we build web sites that help you sell”. Probably because our turn around was in the recession of 2001 and 2002. If you could help someone survive that was awesome stuff! It prevented CEOs from having to lay people off, and that is a BIG motivator.

To this day our primary headline is “Does your website increase your sales” and our tag line is “The Web Marketing Company“. Pretty clear stuff.

Yet our vision is:

To Connect and Organize the World’s People. Do Good.

So unlike Wal-Mart, our vision statement can not double as our simple truth. Having deep thoughts on that subject now…