Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How to suck up to me...

In a highly encouraging development, Guy Kawasaki has written a piece about how to suck up to bloggers. His thesis: Suppose you're a soulless corporate marketroid with a product to sell, and you'd really like the blogosphere to do one of those nifty viral marketing campaigns for you, gratis. Or as close to gratis as you can manage. What you want to do, in essence, is adopt a highly condescending attitude towards bloggers, and regard them as insecure little kids who respond well to, among other things:

  1. Extravagant and obviously insincere praise
  2. Random bits of token schwag straight from the bargain bin, and
  3. Smarmy marketers who pretend to be their new best friend in all the world.

As an aside, I do have a Guy Kawasaki anecdote. He was an investor in a company I worked for at one time, and he dropped by and gave a little insipirational talk, followed by a bit of Q&A. Someone mentioned they'd read a book recently that had a glowing quote of his on the cover, heaping praise on the book, going on to say they agreed with his assessment. Kawasaki then admitted he'd never actually read the book, and said that he often gives canned quotes like that out of professional courtesy. Didn't see a blessed thing wrong with that. I mean, what could possibly be wrong with deceiving the general public? After all, if you can't deceive them, who can you deceive? That was the day I decided Kawasaki was a total sleazebag.

Here are a couple of other blogger takes on the article: Marshall Sponder at WebmetricsGuru and Jeremy Zawodny.

For my part, my first reaction is to feel terribly, terribly left out. I've been doing this for a couple of months now, and I still haven't been contacted by anyone's corporate marketing department. Kawasaki at one point says "Today's egocentric, self-indulgent blogger with five page views per day may well be tomorrow's Technorati 100 stud." Couldn't agree more, although I'd like to think that I'm neither egocentric nor self-indulgent, and it's also true that five page views per day is a red-letter day here at Cyclotram, and furthermore I don't think I'm the most easily persuaded person on the planet. Still, when there's a big party going on and nobody thought to invite you, you can't help but grumble a little. It reminds me of high school, and I'd rather not be reminded of high school.

So far there's only been one instance of anyone trying to get their personal topic onto my radar. In a recent post where I ranted about the so-called "rapture", I recently got a rare user comment suggesting that I cover the topic further, particularly an article titled "Pretrib Rapture Diehards". So there, I've actually gone and linked to the original, and users can go look at it for themselves. The article takes a different perspective than I do, and seems to be arguing that it's incorrect theology. Whereas I argue that "incorrect theology" is redundant, as there's no other kind of theology. All religious beliefs are untrue, but some are harmless and others aren't. If religious people are just going to sit around navel-gazing all day, it doesn't impact me other than giving me an excuse to roll my eyes a little. But it's another matter entirely when they demand eternal war against the evil unbelievers on the other side of the planet, coupled with a gimlet-eyed book-burning theocracy here at home. Even if their theological credentials were impeccable, and they could point to passages where Jesus commanded his followers to go forth and slay the infidels in his name, or laid out God's precise wishes regarding stem cells and people in persistent vegetative states, they'd still be precisely as wrong as they are now. (As an aside, here's a good blog entry I came across discussing Thomas Jefferson's edited-down bible, where he excised all the silly and irrelevant crap about miracles and so forth.)

In any case, it turns out that the user who made this comment has made a bit of a hobby of posting similar comments around the net, encouraging people to check out the "Diehards" article. So I guess in a large sense we could consider this a marketing campaign. And I did take the bait, sort of, which ought to be really encouraging for anyone who'd like to try enlisting me in a campaign to really sell something.

I mean, personal integrity and the solemn Blogger's Oath we all take (c'mon, don't tell me you forgot about that part) both prohibit me from guaranteeing or otherwise leading people to believe that I can be bought for any price, much less that I'd stay bought thereafter. But it'd be highly entertaining and possibly lucrative if the world's top marketers and lobbyists decided to have a go at it. Why should "important" bloggers and politicians and doctors get all the goodies?

In that spirit, here are a few basic do's and dont's if you want me to blog on your behalf.

  • Golf doesn't interest me, either as a player or as a spectator. All-expenses-paid trips to St. Andrews may be enough to buy Tom DeLay's undying loyalty, but I like to think I'm a tougher nut to crack than ol' bug-boy there.
  • I don't want a freakin' polo shirt. If I wanted polo shirts, I'd go to more trade shows. Pens with your logo on 'em, maybe, but if they run out of ink or dry out quickly, you risk the infinite wrath of the blogoverse. So logo pens are probably out too. In general, anything that says "I've got a whole crate of these, and I'm handing them out to bloggers like candy" isn't going to do you a lot of good. I mean, how am I supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy and special and excited about your product unless you prove you care deeply about the real me, by getting me something a.) unique, and b.) expensive. A shiny new Lotus Elise or Exige might be a step in the right direction, so long as we're playing Dear Santa here. British Racing Green, natch.
  • If you're trying to sell crack cocaine, or Windows XP, or lite beer, or a war you'd like to start, I'm afraid you're out of luck. I have to draw the line somewhere.
  • I've mentioned that I like wine on occasion, right? Great. Although I should caution that it's not a lifestyle affectation for me, so don't make the mistake of thinking I also care about the other stuff that's supposed to be inseparable parts of the "lifestyle" (cigars, expensive Harleys, Hummers, Dockers, big shiny metal watches, er, "sports chronographs", fighter pilot fantasy camps, etc.).
  • If you have cool hardware, it might be worthwhile to ship me some and see if that helps. Be warned that if you send the bottom-of-the-barrel entry level model, I will find out. Infinite wrath of the blogoverse, remember?
  • Kawasaki's only real insight, in my mind, is the bit where he suggests Stanley Cup tickets might be helpful. Really it depends on who's playing, though. If Detroit's playing, I'll want seats close to the ice, and a generous supply of fresh octopus. You know, for throwing.
  • If one were to skip the shopping trip and just donate cash, it would make the whole transaction so much more honest, don't you agree? If you've actually read this blog at all, you'll have noticed that I often rant about people who aren't honest about their motives. No sneakiness, no wink-winks, no quid pro quo. You want a deal, put it in writing, with greenbacks behind it.
  • If you want me to use phrases or words I normally despise, like "paradigm" or "synergize", it'll cost you extra, big time. And I'll still probably put them in quotes. Readers will think it's more "authentic" that way. Trust me. We'll fool 'em all, and make millions! Mwhahahaha!
  • And I should mention that no matter what, I'll feel obligated to do the full disclosure thing and inform readers I'm shilling for someone on a paid, or semi-paid basis. It's only fair. If readers are going to get spoon-fed, they at least ought to know who's holding the spoon.

There. The cards are on the table. So if I sound like the ideal willing patsy for your unholy corporate interests, don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Thx. Mgmt.

No comments :