Trend Tuesday: iHype and a different kind of Internet Marketing

Steve Jobs Apple iPad announcement
Steve Jobs announces Apple's new product.

Over the past two years, hundreds of thousands of blog posts, forums, and comments had speculated about Apple making a tablet. Last week, Apple did something they hadn’t done during that entire time span. They admitted they had designed a tablet computer. How did they create so much buzz?

While I think their new device is a  real breakthrough in future computing, I find the marketing (or lack of marketing) for such an item much more fascinating. How does a company build up so much hype? Why are people so excited about something they didn’t even know existed? And why have so many critics turned negative on something that isn’t technically for sale yet? Let’s dive a little deeper to solve the iHype mystery.

Apple iHype

Apple, in its history as a company, has been known for releasing ground-breaking products that change the way we do things. It started back in the ’80s with the Apple II and the Macintosh, and continued in the 2000’s with the iPod and iPhone. The widespread obsession in the tech community over Apple rumors is fairly new, but the true Apple geeks have always been a hype-driven excitable bunch. The return of Steve Jobs near the end of the ’90s helped to rejuvenate this passionate group. The basics behind iHype are these:

  1. Develop new things in ways that haven’t been done before.
  2. Don’t publicly show prototypes or “proofs of concept”.
  3. Make a polished, grand announcement of the new thing.
  4. Ignore the negative critics.

Your business or organization may not make awesome tablet computers, but the principles of iHype can still apply to your business.

Develop New Things

Whether it is a piece of software, a book, a networking organization, or a physical item, your product or service stands out in some way. You may do lots of R&D for your new device, or you could simply offer a better way to manage alumni donors. Perhaps you offer public speaking advice or maybe you write code and build web apps. You can be a star by developing things that are new, fresh, and useful. Think like Apple and create things that people dream of using. Offer services that no one else can match and create your own category. To build iHype, you must build something to hype up.

Don’t show Prototypes

The biggest lesson here is this: Prototypes eat up all the hype. When you announce that your company is working on a new product to be released in 18 months, users will forget about it two days later. Not only are future predictions unreliable (see XKCD’s take below), you kill off all of your excitement by the time the thing launches. You effectively use your marketing window of opportunity to announce a future announcement.

20 years away will be 20 years away forever.
What Prototype announcements really mean (from XKCD)

Imagine going to a party on July 31st that was solely to announce another party in 4-6 months (New Years Eve). You would likely kill any buzz for the real party and possibly upset your current guests. The exception to this is a short timeframe with a solid date. Announcing your new product that will come out at the end of the month is probably OK, but it’s better to announce things that ship today. (Apple occasionally announces things before their release to do patent and FCC filings which  inadvertently  announce things. If they could wait until the ship date, they would.)

The Grand and Polished Announcement

You won’t have the same stage as Apple, but you can deliver your message with the same gusto. If you are issuing a press release, than include graphics, numbers, and memorable quotes and taglines. If you are sending an email newsletter to current clients to announce a new service, give it a great subject line and pay attention to the details. If you are lucky enough to make your announcement in person as a presentation then practice, practice, practice. A boring and unoriginal announcement is likely to be forgotten. Tell the story of your great new thing. The time you spend on it will often mirror the amount of attention it gets from your audience, so put in the time it deserves.

Ignore the naysayers

Apple made their announcement last week and already many of the tech blogs are denouncing the new device. Apple has experienced the same thing happening with the iPod an iPhone, so they are not fazed by harsh words. You may not have the same experience so a negative review could be very painful initially. Do not let it get you down. Your new offering has taken you time and energy  because  you built it with intent and passion. If someone with a blog or an email account doesn’t like it, there is no reason they should kill any of your excitement. You are trying to sell your product to people who want it, not people who don’t. Do not forget this. Every product has a negative critic and unfortunately their voices can drown out the positive folks. Have confidence in your service and in your announcement, do great marketing, and the buyers will come.

You probably won’t get the same media level of hype that Apple gets, but there is no reason you can’t create stir of similar excitement with your followers and customers. Make something great, boldly announce it when it’s ready, and ignore anyone who talks down about it. These are the simple keys to creating your own storm of iHype.

Trend Tuesday: Still Waiting til the Last Minute?

(I realize this was published later than normal.   It is part of the story.   Welcome again to another crazy JMO post.)

In the blogging world, many people teach that having posts on a regular schedule is the way to create a readership.   But this is only half of the message.   It leaves out the ‘quality’ part.   To have a successful blog, there should be a regular stream of quality posts to feed a readership.   Here is a quick list on how to have a great blog.

  1. Make a blog. (wordpress is good)
  2. Set a regular schedule you can maintain.
  3. Write a QUALITY Post.
  4. Click Publish.
  5. Repeat 3 and 4 based on 2.

Ok, so that probably isn’t the Top 5 list you were hoping to see.   Too bad, because that’s really all there is to it.

In writing this post I was almost guilty of overlooking Step 3.   When you title your blog post Trend Tuesday, you are setting yourself up for a pretty hard deadline.   And Tuesday is almost gone.   Should I just hit Publish now?   Probably not, as I haven’t finished my story yet.   So, why am I not done yet?   I’ve got some great excuses.

  1. I haven’t reached the deadline yet
  2. I work better at the last minute
  3. It wasn’t a high priority

I haven’t hit the deadline.   For this excuse, I am really blaming the deadline.   Unfortunately, deadlines have a tendency to backfire.   A week ago we set a deadline to have a new Trend Tuesday blog post done by Tuesday.   I had a whole week to get it done.   But really, by giving myself a deadline of Tuesday, I committed to doing it on Tuesday.   Because this is due in a week, it ranks behind other tasks, until Tuesday that is.   Now it is on top of the heap, but it is almost too late.   Way to avoid this: set earlier deadlines, or, if you can, do things immediately. Think of the deadline as less of a due date and more of a time to actually do it.

And anyways, I work better at the last minute.   Because at the last minute, there is added stress and pressure.   And I work great under pressure.   NOT.   At the last minute, I am forced to get things done.   Not to make them right, or even above average. And certainly not to make them spectacular.   But they do get done.   Had I made my deadline, you would have stopped reading after the Top 4 list.   That is what is produced by someone who works better at the last minute.   Way to avoid this: set standards for quality. For this post, it could be the words, time spent on it, or links.   Or it could be that I got 5 other people excited after they read it.

But the real reason I didn’t finish on time is that this wasn’t a high priority.   Unfortunately, task managers and to-do lists have this annoying priority system built in with 1-5’s and stars and red flags, etc.   I think priority is really a boolean, or an on/off switch.   Something is a priority, or it isn’t. Merlin Mann agrees, or really, I agree with him.   But when I first learned of this task, I said this wasn’t a high priority. But if this isn’t a high priority, then why am I not done yet?   It is superseded by a real priority.

The real priority is that when I publish something with my name on it, it has to be my best effort. This is the priority.   This is Step 3 above.   And this is what makes great bloggers, writers, designers, and all creators.   When I first started this, under the deadline, rushing it out, it was about 200 words of garbage.   I’ve since deleted all of that, and written all of this.   While some may argue that I was just lazy and procrastinated and that’s why this wasn’t finished, I’d have to disagree.   I set myself up for failure when I did the following:

  1. I   made a deadline that was the absolute last minute I needed to finish.
  2. I did not make this a priority.
  3. I did not start until close the deadline because this wasn’t a priority.
  4. I lied to myself about my abilities to do quality work quickly.

All of these things caused me to miss the all important Step 3.   Fortunately, the place I work is smart enough to recognize that a quality post that is late is much better than a weak post on time.   Hopefully the readers if this blog and yours are also flexible.

Recap:

  1. Set deadlines before things are really due, or just do them immediately.
  2. Don’t wait til the last minute.   Your work is not better when you do.
  3. Make quality stuff (which should be on time if you follow the first two).

Hopefully the trend of waiting til the last minute will fade like Will Smith’s hair on Fresh Prince.

Boss Blog of the Month: Bumper 2 Bumper Traffic Blog

1trafficBoss [baws, bos]
-adjective

  1. exemplifies a unique quality; awesome; incredible
  2. An expression from the mid 1950s, which fell from favor by the early 1960s….until now..

Bro, traffic blew this morning…I was 20 minutes late to work and missed donut circle time. Dude, go check out the Bumper 2 Bumper Traffic Blog, it’s so boss!

My mornings are not your typical ‘wake up, drink coffee, sit on your thrown reading a nice article about ‘Why we swing our arms when we walk‘” routine. They usually entail a Sprite on the rocks, Quaker oatmeal, and…(queue harmonious music)…KPRC’s traffic updates brought to by Jennifer Reyna. To be quite honest, I don’t really care much about traffic, my morning drive is pretty ordinary with the familiar stoplight hobo and occasional rubber necking. Basically, it comes down to the simple fact that Jennifer Reyna is so gosh darn adorable and an hour on the ol’ boob tube just ain’t cuttin’ it anymore. But I have found the light…

Jennifer Reyna’s Bumper 2 Bumper Traffic Blog is seemingly mundane, but I stand true to my word when I say this is a must-read. And I think you know where I am going with this.   That’s right my tiny cupcakes, the Boss Blog of the month is every Houstonian’s greatest foe…traffic.

This recent “find” if you will, is what I like to call a boss moment. I could equivocate this to the time your beloved Harry Potter obsessed monkey friend literally dragged you to opening night of H.P.’s latest flick, in turn leaving you with a little obsession of your own…Hermoine Granger. In a nutshell, the movie is the traffic and Jennifer Reyna is Hermoine…now you’re with me folks!

So what makes a blog about traffic so special? Go ahead and pump those breaks champ…I am going to tell you.

Here are my Top 5 Reasons why Jennifer Reyna’s Bumper 2 Bumper Traffic Blog is the Boss Blog of the Month:

  1. I really don’t have to say much here…
    Jennifer Reyna
  2. It’s rare to find true passion in a human being, much less through a traffic blog. The Bumper 2 Bumper blog exhibits just that…passion. With every post, you know Jennifer is writing from the heart. Hell, I bet she sits at her computer singing The Beatles and yelling out random sayings like, Skittleeedooo!, just because she is that happy. To be honest, I find it quite enjoyable to read about Goat Milking Contests…
    goat-_-blog4
  3. Jennifer posts pictures from just about every event she attends. I realize that posting pictures on your blog is nothing new, but for a reporter, it’s good to show people you are actually human. Like I have said before, I just don’t trust robots and neither should you if you know what’s good for your children.
  4. 2-crew-parade-_-blog
    She listens. Every few posts, she takes questions that she has received from her viewers and answers them openly and honestly.

    Dear Jennifer,

    Could you please tell me why we swing our arms when we walk? Also, thank you for being you.

    Sincerely,

    Courtney P.

    I will be crossing my fingers for a response in the meantime.

  5. Jennifer has obviously realized that KPRC is not just a TV station. It is a media outlet. She has enabled viewers, like me who are unable to watch a lot of television, to receive information through her blog. She has also built an extraordinary brand through her Bumper 2 Bumper blog and that is definitely something to be modeled. Jennifer Reyna is not only an inspiration to the Houston community, but she has made my morning commutes a little more enjoyable. Jennifer Reyna…you’re boss.

Say hi to Jennifer on Facebook!

Thank you Kim Yokota for the awesome traffic pic!

Friday Fun: Oh I Wish I Had an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Some say it’s a myth, others say they have only heard of its legendary tales…but few can actually say, ‘Dude, I was there…AND felt it’s golden buns.” If you have any inclination as to what buns I’m referring to, I can only assume your heart is racing with anticipation. As was mine when I pulled up to the Kroger… questioning…hoping…sweating profusely…and then I saw it. Just over the horizon, the glorious orange and yellow glistening in the sun…I was in the presence of the one and only Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

IMG_2202

This past week, the famous Oscar Mayer Wienermobile became the centerpiece for Houston Children’s Miracle Network fundraising event. Children ate hot dogs, stained their clothes with sno cones and sang ‘Oh I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener” in harmony while I led the chorus in spelling out O-S-C-A-R-M-A-Y-E-R.   Seeing as though my organized choir tale was false, I feel a sing-a-long would have been top notch, possibly increasing my chances at a record deal.

IMG_2210

The highlight of the day you ask? Dress your own giant plastic hotdog then stand in front of the Wienermobile while the photographer yelled, ‘Say Cheesy Wienes!” And no I did not wait in line for 15 minutes amongst toddlers so I could get my chance of being spotlighted in the magnificent glow of my childhood dream car….ok, I’m lying. Hello my name is Courtney Pemberton…and it was awesome.

IMG_2212

For the grizzly men out there, let me give you a run-down of what this wienermobile is packin’ under its lightly toasted buns. This bad boy is a Chevrolet W4 Series chassis, V-8 with a 6.0 liter 350 Vortec 5700 engine with a GPS navigational system and a state-of-the-art audio center with wireless microphone system. I know what you’re thinking…Dear Santa, instead of a Toyota Prius this year, can I have a Wienermobile with all the trimmings…and a 6 pack of 100% cotton tube socks.

Of course, we all know the Wienermobile would have never come into existence if it wasn’t for the man…Oscar Mayer himself. It was through the genius marketing of the Mayer family that for the past 73 years, ten versions of the Wienermobile have brought excitement…and sometimes confusion, but mostly excitement, to children all over the country . So here is my shout out to Oscar G. Mayer III, who passed away this week…R.I.P buddy. You made Houston’s day.

Oscar Mayer

If you want to follow the Wienermobile and the Hotdogger’s travels, check out their Hotdogger blog or follow them on Twitter!

Thanks to Guadalupe   for being an awesome Hotdogger…I couldn’t have dressed my plastic hot dog with out you!

Boss Blog of the Month: Neurofibromatosis Cafe

reggie-bibbsBoss [baws, bos]
-adjective
1. exemplifies a unique quality; awesome; incredible
2.   An expression from the mid 1950s, which fell from favor by the early 1960s….until now.
Hey dude, do you know Reggie Bibbs? I heard his blog is so boss.

As I stand sit here, amongst a sea of people, adorning my wizards’ cloak and wand, I feel the need to rise up…for today marks the start of something glorious! No, they have not finally captured the French Big Foot named Clouseau and put him on display in Canada. Come on dude. This friends, is the beginning of a new era…a place where bloggers can be exalted for a job well done. A place where I can sit here every month and say…This Blog is So Boss.

Like all historic revolutions, I must start out with a bang followed by a little pow. Hell, let’s throw in a 540 tornado kick, landing in a roundout back flip – blindfolded. It’s true, some blogs just have that affect on people, and ninja moves aside, I am honored to feature a local Houston blog, ‘Neurofibromatosis Café” as the boss blog of the month.

So what you’re saying is there’s a new place in town for coffee and tweet-ups? Coffeegroundz what? Unfortunately no… but there is a man named Reggie Bibbs.   Reggie was born with neurofibromatosis (NF) which is a genetic disease that causes him to develop tumors on his body. He began this blog, along with long-time friend Lou Congelio, president of STANANDLOU Advertising, to spread the word of NF.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Reggie and it became one of those moments where you think to yourself…so this is what life is all about. His passion and spirit were infectious as he spoke about what his blog has provided for people.

‘I believe my blog has helped others to realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem. If I am out and happy with my problems, then others should be to. It is an encouragement to people with NF and without NF.”

So how did Reggie’s blog become what it is today? Reggie explained to me that it was after his brother, Ronald, lost his life to NF that he was not going to let anyone else go through what his family had to endure. Teaming up with Lou, they created the Just Ask T-shirts…

‘I had the shirts made so people would ASK when they saw me. People wanted to know, but I felt like they didn’t know how to ask. After the shirts, Lou suggested a blog to write about my experiences.”

And as they say…the rest is history.

The Just Ask campaign went on to win 2 gold ADDY awards, one silver, and a Special Judges Award for Public Service Advertising. I would never claim to be an advertising genius, or a pro unicorn jouster for that matter, but I do know that the Just Ask ads were absolutely spectacular and the well earned recognition could not have happened to a better guy…that’s you chief.

Reggie is also lucky enough to have Lou, along with two other of his close friends, William and Matt contribute to the blog. These guys have not only helped document Reggie’s experiences but they have played a huge part in bringing NF to the forefront.

‘These guys mean the world to me. Without them, I would not be able to do what I do. They are the friends that encourage me to get out there and do things. When Lou talked me into going to the Astros game, it was something I will never forget. It was a full house…everyone was so nice to me and because I took that step, I felt like I could go other places.”

No doubt about it, Reggie has definitely become the man about town. Through his blog posts, you can see what an impact Reggie is making in the community. He has spoken across the country for other NF Foundations where his most recent trip was to Grand Rapids…next stop…Canada. Here’s a fun fact: I am a ninja and can fit in medium-sized suitcases; specifically designed to fly to Canada…I’m just sayin’.

When he is not traveling, you can see him at the Houston Roller Derby, meeting with political figures, chummin’ it up with Kevin Nealon, starting the dance revolution at Music Nites…really, the list goes on and to be quite honest, I’m not yearning for carpal tunnel anytime soon so I will bid adieu. But before I… ‘do,” I want to leave you with one final thought from a man who used something as simple as a blog to create a movement and therefore inspire others to simply be thankful.

‘People who have NF come to my blog to read my stories and learn that even if you have NF, you can still live a full life. They see that I have learned that most people will understand…the ones that don’t, that’s ok. Think about the people that have accepted you.”’Reggie Bibbs

Other Ways to Connect with Boss-Blogger Reggie Bibbs:

Reggie Bibbs-Neurofibromatosis Flickr stream

Visit Reggie Bibbs on Facebook

*The photo was apart of the award-winning ads recognized at the 2009 ADDY Awards.

Thanks again Reggie! You truly are an inspiration.

Schipul Book Club: Win The Giving Tree + a Moleskine of Your Very Own

giving-tree“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy”

It’s that time again! Every month we give away a copy of one of our favorite Schipul books and since Schipulites LOVE Storytelling, that is this month’s theme!

What better book to Demonstrate “Story” than the Shel Silverstein classic The Giving Tree? Using very simple writing and line drawings, Silverstein proves a little can go a very long way in telling a powerful tale. We’ve got a copy with your name on it.**

Can’t wait? You can also watch an animated version of the book narrated by Silverstein himself!!

We’ve got a double whammy for you this month so that’s not all!!

Long before the netbook became the new notebook, legendary artists such as Van Gogh and Hemingway used the real deal made by French booksellers to capture their ideas and jot notes. These little books were called Moleskine’s. The last French bookseller that sold Moleskine’s closed it’s doors in 1986 but the little books and the genius they inspired was not gone forever!

In 1998 a tiny Milanese bookseller brought the books back and as happykatie so elqouently puts it “happiness is a fresh Moleskine” so we think you need one of your very own! Use it to draw your own pictures and flex those storytelling muscles!! Practice makes perfect right?

So how do you get your Giving Tree and your Moleskine? Comment below!! What organization do you think is awesome at telling its story? It can be anyone from the pizza place down your street to the biggest cell phone company. We want to know!

We’ll be picking winner this Friday (the 29th) at 3 pm so follow us on twitter to get the announcement!

**Oh and a word to the wise: If Hallmark Cards make you cry, you may want to read The Giving Tree behind closed doors. Especially if you’ve never read it before…. I know I’m a cheese ball but I tear up every time!