Saturday, June 28, 2008
Then, I put my optimist hat on about super expensive oil. As you know, I'm an entrepreneur and preternaturally positive. The US is a dynamic economy. It's flexibility has accommodated incredible shocks and changes over time whether it be oil shocks in the 70's, the S&L crisis of the 80's, the emerging economy debt shocks of the 90's or the tech crunch of 2000-2002. So here are some thoughts:
- Silicon Valley gets rich: For years VCs have been studying energy markets looking to fund wide varieties of alternative energy projects from solar to biofuels to efficiency software to CO2 eating algae. For example, ompanies like Nanosolar are into commercial production of thin film solar cells with far greater utility and half the cost of alternatives. For all the promise, those businesses need oil to be well over $60/barrel over the long term. Even more than technology, shifts in energy produce wealth over a long period. Remember the Ewings on Dallas - even the kids win.
- Oil nations lose: By allowing oil prices to explode, they create cultures of dependency with their people. Why take any initiative when money is flowing out of pure luck of location? While beautiful cities will be built, super wealthy inheritors have no need to work hard or think out of the box. Governments feed this dependency because they can provide all kinds of benefits in return for a docile population. This breeds corruption and eventually hard times when alternative energy ends the gravy train. Look at Venezuela, Iran and Russia. Right now, things are wonderful, but every time oil prices go up, spending increases. Once you get used to all kinds of subsidies and free stuff, it's hard to let go.
- Manufacturing comes back to the US: Disparate supply chains only work when transportation costs are dirt cheap. With high shipping costs, it does not make sense to make heavy goods far from the end consumer.
- Farmers come back strong: It's just not corn, it's every crop because the return has to be as good as corn to ethanol. Moreover, there are new varieties of biofuels, coming from jatropha, switchgrass and trees. There are bioplastics from genetically engineers crops. With prices for food rising, farmers can go from subsistance to export.
- US automakers get a chance to come back: Most of the time American automakers have shrunk from truly attacking the market with innovation. Instead they used protectionism or hid behind poorly negotiated labor agreements. This is a time of great change - GM is seriously talking about releasing the innovative Chevy Volt, a mass produced plug-in hybrid. Both Ford and GM are releasing a hybrids across their product lines and have access to diesels from their European lines. They could use this time of crisis to fundamentally reset their businesses towards highly fuel efficient product lines and more flexible labor agreements.
- Electric cars every where. Tesla estimates that driving its all electric car cost 2 cents/mile. Large utility plants are far more efficient than millions of gasoline engines. With the possibility of greater renewables powering these plants American can more to energy self-sufficiency. That means fewer troops around the world having to establish energy supply lines for world.
- End of suburban sprawl: It's already occurred in the SF Bay Area in Stockton and Tracy. It just costs too much to drive in from far away. People will be compelled to move closer to where they work. It is likely that cities will be where companies locate as mass transit makes more sense for commuters. It is far more efficient than America's current level of dispersion. Check out this NY Time article on the subject.
- Obesity will drop: I know this sounds like a stretch, but the McD Dollar menu has done more damage to America and the industrialized than any catastrophe in the last 20 years. Look around and you will see people are heavier than ever. Because food prices are half what they were as a proportion of income over the last 30 years, portion sizes are greater and processed food costs less than it ever did. So what do people do? Eat more. Obesity amongst children is at epic proportions. Maybe rather than super-large everything, restaurants will cut back. We can eat less and maybe prevent all those future health problems caused by excessive weight.
OK, so I'd still like to go back to $1.50/gallon gas, but the scarcity of oil can be a great call to action for the world's most entrepreneurial and dynamic economy. If we were self-sufficent with energy, there would be no trade deficit and potentially no fiscal deficit. America would still be a free trading nation, but with greater power than before because $200/barrel means tech-driven energy rather than just drilling under the sand. This can only be good for us in the long term.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Atom.com is allied with Comedy Central and will distribute content across a multi-platform network including the Internet, handheld, gaming platforms, mobile phones and television. With over 1.9 million unique visitors in May there is even more distribution than Funny or Die, Super Deluxe, or The Onion combined.
In separate news, Wyatt Cenac, one of Effinfunny's early comics, is a correspondent on the Daily Show with John Stewart.
Congrats to the creative, development and social media team!
This adds to a big win to be the online media agency of record for Lyris.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
NewTeeVee, a new media blog, also mentioned Effinfunny in how new media players are in the company of tradional media.
Kudos to Effinfunny and the Position2 team that supports them!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
It seems that every day there's a new way to market to your prospects online. "Use Facebook," one person says. "Try Twitter," says another. But then your CEO is asking, "Why aren't we at the top of Google?"
How do you make sense of it all? Where do you focus your efforts?
As the founder of a search and social media marketing firm with SaaS clients, let me share some experience.
In a typical B2B purchase, as many as 22 people are involved1. One of the most important players is the technical buyer who evaluates different products vs. user pain points. Influencing the technical buyer is critical to success.
Buyers research using search and social media. A recent study indicated that 80% of the time decision makers found the vendor rather than the other way around2. Technical buyers identify search engines among their top 3 most powerful influencers, along with word of mouth and the vendor's website. Information gained from search now is more influential than trade shows, trade publications, and even advice from paid consultants.3 98% of technical buyers use Google search as a major part of their purchase process.4
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts enhance the ability for search engines to find and rank your website. While researching, prospects use search to identify appropriate solutions and leading vendors. Having your website appear in top positions can be a crucial vote of legitimacy. You must identify top keywords that your prospects would use to find you and then add content to your site in an SEO-compatible format to support them. For example, let's imagine a SaaS firm that offers collaborative help-desk capabilities - HelpDeskSaaS.com. Web copy and html tags should emphasize words like "customer support software" and "collaborative customer service, etc."
Google recently integrated videos, blogs & news into search results. This provides an excellent opportunity for nimble companies to jump ahead of their competitors in search ranking.
Pay Per Click
Realizing results from SEO is typically a twelve-month process; paid search (PPC) efforts bring more immediate results. With PPC, your offering is featured only when a user searches for keywords that you have selected. The keyword research process in PPC is much more extensive than in SEO. One must cast a wide net and advertise on thousands of keywords. The beauty of PPC is that it allows one to continually iterate and optimize throughout the duration of the campaign. For our HelpDeskSaaS.com example, we would recommend abbreviations ("cust support sw"), misspellings ("sport softwar") and benefits ("low-cost customer support software"). You can even target competitor keywords. Note that PPC is not "set and forget." PPC requires a systematic approach: thorough and ongoing keyword research, ad creative, focused landing pages, pipeline management, bid management, and analytics.
Social Media Marketing
The emergence of Web 2.0, user-generated content, and online social networks opens avenues to micro-target like never before. This results in a tremendous opportunity to identify members of self-selected communities.
- Social Media Sites - Social networks provide the backbone of peer influenced "soft-sell". When you see that your colleague is attending an event, you are significantly more likely to attend. Position2 clients often see success using Facebook and LinkedIn to generate leads for webinars.
- Blogs - An industry-focused blog is a great way to establish your expertise and maintain a dialog with your prospects and customers. Promoting your blog has the additional SEO benefits of creating a network of links with highly relevant sites.
- Forums - This is an invaluable resource for reputation monitoring. While you cannot edit other posts, you can respond to negative posts quickly.
- Social Bookmarking - Technical buyers (71%) identify whitepapers as a critical facet of their research efforts5. Services such as digg and del.ic.ious can be utilized to promote them to your targets.
At a Glance: Using Search and Social Media
|Use For||HelpDeskSaaS.com Case Example||Helpful Hint|
|SEO||Brand Visibility||Select highly-targeted keywords ||Develop content aligned with your keywords. Only link to and from relevant, quality sites.|
|PPC||Direct Marketing||Thousands of long tail keywords: ||Make sure ads go to customized landing pages - keep testing|
|SMM||Brand Visibility & Direct Marketing|| ||Respond quickly to any negative post|
Business buyers rely heavily upon search and social media for researching products and services. They often have in-depth information about potential vendors and have short-listed them well before the vendors have found them.
It is therefore critical that you not only have relevant and detailed content on your site, but you must be showing up where they are looking for you. To do so you must undertake an integrated and comprehensive search and social media marketing effort.
Rajiv Parikh is the CEO of Position2, a leading search and social media marketing firm. Rajiv has over 20 years of management experience at AltaVista, Sun Microsystems, NCR and AT&T.
1 MarketingSherpa, B2B Marketing Research, June 2007
2 MarketingSherpa, Business Technology Buyers Survey, March 2007
3 Enquiro, Business to Business Survey 2007
4 MarketingSherpa, Business Technology Marketing 2007-08
5 MarketingSherpa, Connecting Through Content Series, 2007