Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Free books. And lots of them.

I tend not to write about the iphone here, because I market it as part of my job. (But I talk about it all the time to friends and colleagues. I'm convinced it has made me a better person. Yes, I'm saying I'm actually a better person because of my iphone.)

Anyway, while traveling over the holidays, I've been listening to audio books on my iphone. I've downloaded - and paid for - books from itunes. Some good. Some not so.

But I've also started to read books on my iphone. A few weeks ago, I downloaded a wonderful (and free) book reader iphone app called Stanza, thanks to a recommendation here from Russell Davies. If you have an iphone, and like to read, take a moment to download Stanza. There are loads of free books to read.

I'm reading the very enjoyable Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig. You can also find classics like The Art of War, Darwin's On the Origin of Species, The Prince, Dubliners by James Joyce, War and Peace and lots more. You can also buy books. I haven't yet, but read here that nine of the NY Times top ten 2008 bestsellers are available on Stanza too.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 100 sites for 2009

I'll be back blogging properly (i.e stealing content from others) next week. I'm still on holiday. But in meantime, this is worth a read - a list of the top 100 sites for 2009. Have to admit, I had not heard of many of them.

Thanks Kev for sending on.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Missed opportunity for Ryanair?

Apologies. It´s been tumbleweeds here for the past week. I´ve had no access to the Internet. Been travelling a fair bit.

Sitting on Ryanair flights had me thinking about their inflight advertising and a possible missed opportunity?

Before we take off, they play ´radio´ ads through their PA speaker system. Presumably they charge brands nicely for the privilage of this captive audience. So I´ve been exposed several times now to an ad for an orange drink called J20 (or something similar. I honestly can´t remember). Ryanair are selling the drink on the flights so the timing of the ad makes sense. The problem is the actual ad itself is grating. Not as bad as Harvey Norman, but still pretty annoying. The result: I promised myself I´d drink anything on the flight but this brand.

Possibly extreme behaviour from me I admit. But surely here was an opportunity for J20 and Ryanair to do something better. If this is a new drink, then presumably they want us to trial the drink, like it and start buying it regularly.

So instead of paying Ryanair for advertising, could they instead pay Ryanair for the privilage of handing out free samples at the beginning of each flight? Ryanair still get their money. J20 get over their first hurdle of customers trialing their drink. And customers are happy with both J20 and Ryanair for a freebie drink.

Everybody wins.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Love Actually

Have you seen the latest MasterCard Airport ad? Very similar to this opening scene of Love Actually. Hugh Grant's intro is really good.

The film just started on RTE 1 by the way...

Just in case I'm not the only person that didn't see this.

Just in case I'm not the only person that didn't see this. One of the top 10 virals of 2008, according to The Guardian. This really is good.

Found via Scamp.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Know any charity that might want marketing help?

I honestly believe that charities should be jumping all over web 2.0 stuff.

The personal marketing they need to do could not be more perfect for this stuff. I've written before about this. But have I actually offered to help anybody?

Sadly, no.

I used to do a fair bit of volunteer work. These days I just tend to talk or write about it. I've decided I'm going to actually do stuff. I haven't decided what charity yet but will contact a few in the next month and offer my marketing services. I have a couple of charities in mind, but feel free to suggest. If you know any non-profits that would like a hand, send them my way.

So I'm using this post (and future posts perhaps) to jot down my initial thoughts on what all non profits should be doing. As I'm sitting here writing, I've this feeling that my recommendations below are all very obvious, ordinary and somewhat simplistic. They are certainly not original. But why are many charities not doing this?

Anyway, I'd like to help a charity do the following:

Get personal.
People don't give to organisations. They give to people. And research suggests they give to individuals. For example, let's say you are raising money to provide special school classrooms for children with disabilities. Introduce Ireland to some of the kids you are helping. Let everybody hear their own unique and sometimes tragic stories - "Meet Kirsty, a six-year old suffering from...". Find a way to help us really understand the pain, suffering, frustration and fear that six-year old Kirsty goes through every day.

Break out your goals into smaller, bite-size ones
. Ones we can all understand and grasp. Don't just tell everybody about your organisation and the stuff you typically do. Explain how many new classrooms you need. Or how many special-need teachers you need to hire. Help people understand. Show us all how a new custom-designed classroom can help Kirsty. How it can make her life better. How it can save her life.

Tell everybody exactly how they can help. Get into specifics. For example, if you want people to donate money, ask for it. How much do you need? Don't be general. Ask for an amount. And explain where an individual's money will go. Explain that if you get 12 more people to donate €100 each, six-year old Kirsty is sorted for another six months. There are ways to ask that can increase the amount you raise.

Not everybody can donate money. But what else can they do for you? Can they pass on your message? Can they volunteer their time? If so, again be specific. Do you want one hour of their day? Do you want them to post something on their blog or facebook page?

Thank people. A lot. And thank them some more. Help them understand how they have changed or improved an individual's life. About 10 years ago, Conor Byrne (a good mate and very talented fundraiser) and I raised some money to bring two families away for a much needed holiday. Halfway through the holiday, we sat the kids down and got them to write postcards to the kind folks that had made their holiday possible. You can't but smile when a badly written postcard arrives from sunny Spain, from the eight-year old inner city girl you helped.

Use web 2.0.
The thing I like best is how all the web 2.0 tools makes it easier to connect and interact with others. And this is where charities can come into their own. People give to people, so connect them. Connect donors with the very people they are helping. Who is not going to help eight-year old Kirsty when she and her mother tells you her story? When she is the person responding to comments and questions. And connect donors with volunteers.

Most of this stuff is either free or very cheap. All is needed is your time.
  • Start a blog. Not even a website. A blog. It costs nothing. Except your time.
  • Using the original example, introduce the world to Kirsty, her family. And to all the families you are trying to help. Sounds a bit scary I know.
  • Show us the schools that need special classes. Where are they? Make some videos.
  • Embed Google maps into your blog and pinpoint the schools in it. So we can visual them. So we can see where they are, compared to where we live.
  • Add information about each school. So when I click on the pin, I can read about each school. Let us know how much money you have raised for each school. Update us each time you raise money.
  • Upload pictures of the schools. The teachers. The classes.
  • Make lots of videos. Get the teachers, the kids and their families to make the videos. No need for anything expensive. Handheld camera will do. A good camera phone might even do it. Upload on youtube. No need to host or pay for hosting. Just embed into your blog.
  • Ask for families, teachers (and kids if possible) to write posts. Let us hear their thoughts. Their struggles. Let us hear the daily journals.
  • Upload photos, drawings, pictures of their pets. Poems. Songs.
  • Find interesting content across the internet and link to it. Not just about your charity. About kids. About happiness.
  • Thank everybody that helps. Regularly. Drop them personal emails. Comment on their blog. Post on their bebo page.
  • Start a facebook page. A bebo page. An ammado page. Start twittering maybe. Although only do any of these if you willing to invest the time in them and not let them go with regular updates. But this applies to your blog anyway.
That's it for the moment. I feel myself beginning to ramble:) I'll come back to this again though.

Please feel free to suggest more stuff - or a charity that I should contact.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beware of the dog house

Over 4 mins long but worth a watch if you have time. Thanks Conor for sending on.


Better than free

The internet is a copy machine, Kevin Kelly tells us, in his most recent manifesto. But what qualities cannot be copied? Trust is one. Kevin expands on this and seven others that are better than free.

Download in pdf from here. It is just 11 pages long and is very good.

Found via Helge Tenno

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Direct Response was my first love"

I started out in direct response.

Mostly because I had tiny budgets and needed to show results immediately. So I read everything I could find about direct - Drayton Bird, David Ogilvy, Graeme McCorkell, Denny Hatch, Bob Stone, John Caples, Claude Hopkins...

I admit that there was a stage where I was only interested in direct and had little patience for anything else. Since then I've grown an appreciation and a respect for 'general advertising' as David Ogilvy calls it.

However, I agree completely with him when he says that everybody involved in advertising should be skilled in the basics of direct response.

Found video via Conversation Agent

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ads on my blog. Do I share the money with you, my readers?

Need your help here.

Last week, I was offered a few quid for some advertising on my blog. I came clean and explained this might not be the best use of his cash. I'm usually on the buying side of advertising, so see lots of proposals and can honestly say that I'd have real difficulty justifying spending any ad money on my blog. I even offered to help find him more appropriate sites if he could explain his goals in more detail.

Despite all this, he still offered me money. For some text link advertising on selected pages here.

Should I take the money?

I know the reasons for not taking it. It might compromise the site design. It might compromise my views on the brand doing the advertising. Could I no longer be trusted to be honest? Am I selling out? Would it piss off readers and drive them away?

I was going to decline. But it does give me an opportunity to put a theory of mine into practice. So here goes.

What if bloggers were to share ad revenue with their readers? Without readers, no advertiser would be interested in my blog or any other. Unlike traditional media, readers contribute much more than passive reading. Wouldn't it be nice to share some of the financial reward with them?

If I took the money and shared it with you, how does this affect our blogger/reader relationship? Do we all profit from this? (With the exception of the advertiser in this occasion but I've been completely upfront and honest. But there are lots of blogs where an advertiser could get a high return on his investment). Or are we all worse off?

So this is my choice today. Do I...

  1. Decline the advertiser's offer?
  2. Take the money and share with you, my readers?
  3. Are there other / better options?

If we go with Option 2, I'll divide the money by the number of people who leave a comment or drop me a mail. It's probably fair to say that I put more effort into this blog than you, so the split should not be even. But since it is almost Christmas, and as it's not a huge amount of cash, I'm happy to split the money evenly this time. If you read regularly, speak up.

Also, it's worth noting that the advertiser may pull out after reading this, so this might fall through.

Love to hear your thoughts on this. If you know anybody with strong view or experience on this, please let me know.

Image via Riverwatcher09

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Senior adult choir + hip hop

Great stuff. Liked OutKast's 'Yeah Ya' in particular.

Read why they've done this here. Found via Gareth Kay

Anybody that does presentations will like this

If your job involves putting presentations together, you will like tag galaxy.

Prior to this, I'd search google images or scroll through pages of flickr, looking for the perfect visual. Not any more. Take a look. I'll bet you'll bookmark this.

Found via Jon Leach.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

From 'Dell Hell' to 'Dell Swell'

Thought-provoking interview with Bob Pearson from Dell on how they are using twitter, blogs and social media to transform their company.

Dell's involvement with social media is interesting. As Jeremiah Owyang says himself - they have gone from the infamous 'Dell Hell' to 'Dell Swell'.

I think (RED) is genius

I think (RED) is very clever.

Their product branding is top class, differentiated and viral in its nature. But their real marketing genius is the business model. Buy stuff that you would buy anyway. And some of the money is used to help people suffering from AIDS.

Clear. Simple. Easy to understand. It's a great idea.

For example, if all else is equal among credit cards, I'd choose the (RED) American Express. They donate money each time the card is used. Good for American Express. Good for (RED). And it would make me feel good.

So why don't I have a (RED) credit card? Same reason I don't have any (RED) products. I can't get them here in Ireland. I've tried. I even tried to buy some GAP clothes but was unsuccessful. Although I used to have a very cool (RED) notepad that I picked on holiday in New York.