BRANDE : blog archives for June 2008

June 29, 2008

Zappos CEO- Big shoes to fill

Here’s the Zappos follow up I promised you.

The backstory is a recent posting you can view here or continue reading the short and sweet version.

I came across an article about Zappos paying employees $1,000 to quit their job following training. The ones who stay become the Brand Ambassadors— committed employees who stay, perform and recommend.

I did some follow up research and found a presentation made by Tony— my NBF (new best friend) and also the CEO. At the end of the presentation, he said anyone who wants a culture book could send him an email. I did.

Here’s what I wrote (please indulge me my sales pitch— I’m an entrepreneur)
“I love your site. I love your culture. (And great shoes help.) I develop marketing and communications that support the attraction and retention of talent and if you ever need a hand- please count me in. Thanks,”

I also started following him on Twitter, http://twitter.com/zappos, and saw that he was in London.

Guess what! Tony wrote me back within hours and said
Hi Jody,
It’s a physical book so I just need your mailing address…
Re: attracting/retaining talent, I’ve cc’d Christa who heads up our recruiting department and she will be following up with you!

Not only did the book come, following an awesome email from someone in shipping inviting me on a tour of the facility any time i’m in Vegas, but the call from Christa came along with a potential opportunity to assist them with their employee communications!

So, operationally, externally and internally, ZAPPOS goes from A to Z, or in actuality Z to A in living ther brand!

Great job Tony and friends.

June 22, 2008

Where Pepsi Lost The Fizz

I wish I was Pepsi’s website- Every 2 years it gets a facelift.

It’s latest iteration, launched in early May, is awesome. Using the latest technology that reminds me of Leopard- the newest Mac OS, it’s streamlined and uber easy to navigate– and even offers visitors the chance to redesign its can. More impressive— we’re given the choice of regular or diet can.

John Vail, director of interactive marketing group for PCNA, Purchase, N.Y. Had this to say- “Lots of assets live on our pages. We wanted to make an easy way to find so consumers don’t have to hunt and peck… This is the authentic place to see the brand spots,” said Vail.

So, with all the hoopla surrounding the launch, and entertained by the cool music- I couldn’t wait to visit the Careers Site— After all, isn’t a seamless experience the new name of the marketing game??

Boom— I was instantly transported back into the last century — as the static stock photography and thousands of clicks to get to meaningful content overwhelmed me even as the music continued to play.

Even more disappointing, while I didn’t mind having to install the latest version of flash onto my computer, I do very much mind the greeting that I got when attempting to search for jobs.

Apparently at Pepsi, though diversity is in

– Firefox is not.

Consumers may not have to hunt and peck, but job seekers using Firefox do.

June 15, 2008

That’s Enough About Me

One Reason Women Don’t Make It to the C-Suite

OK.  It’s graduation, Father’s Day and another sunny Sunday— maybe instead of inspiration, I save perspiration and discuss this recent article from the Harvard Business Review.

According to Louann Brizendine, MD, the distinct demands that are put on men’s and women’s brains at key career phases may help explain the gender inequality in top management.

Many women are sidelined, ultimately, by a timing issue.

There’s a certain age, long established by large organizations, at which professionals must decide to make their play for the big promotion—the one that will put them in line for the C-suite—and while it’s a good time for men, it’s not a good time for women.

That go-for-it moment typically comes in one’s forties, when managers have gained the knowledge and perspective needed to take on real stewardship of a business. But at that phase of life, women with children already have a lot on their plates. Not only are they usually expected to handle the lion’s share of responsibility on the home front (even when both members of a couple hold full-time jobs), but their own brain chemistry makes it hard for them to do otherwise. For reasons important to the survival of the species, women in childbearing years undergo changes that intensify their focus on the viability of offspring. It’s a passing phenomenon, but ill-timed for those with career ambitions.

It’s not the quantity of care required that taxes the brain, however, so much as the unpredictable need for care.

When any decision maker’s brain function is overburdened, the result is stress, and nothing taxes the brain more than unpredictability.

People coping with heightened levels of unpredictability rarely go looking for even more ways to mix it up.

Ironically, if the same call came a few years later, many women would seize the opportunity. The very woman who could not find the capacity to green-light her own promotion in her forties can be, in her fifties, ready to take on the world.

No surprise that it is that exact time that I founded BRANDEMiX.

Predictable success.

June 8, 2008

Who’s Starry Now?

This was supposed to be my Zappos pt.II post but a funny thing happened to me on the way to the shoe store… sorry Tony. Next week.

Recently I was asked to give advice to women everywhere about having their own business. For those of you who don’t know me, take a peek. For my friends- is it true the camera adds 10 pounds?

Since the launch of BRANDEblog, more than 3 years ago, I have been steadily moving away from musing about the joys and despairs of owning my own business. I think that there’s value in the reading, though not necessarily for this audience, so stay tuned for the launch of another blog.

My I’m busy.

June 6, 2008

Raising the Bar for Web Content

By Anita Campbell

Everyone seems to be creating content on the Web these days. As a small business, you are competing with established media companies for eyeballs — so you better raise the quality.

Back in the dinosaur days of the Web, it used to be that you could write an article, get a few of your friends to link to it, and voila — you could “own” a topic. You could become the authoritative source for that subject, at least for awhile.

In reality, maybe it was neverthat simple.  But even so, back in the day when we had less content, it was a whole lot easier for your content to stand out on the Web.

Somewhere along the line, things changed.  It crept up on us.  I’m not exactly sure when I noticed it — maybe a year ago, maybe longer? But now we seem to have a glut of content.

And with that glut of content, it is becoming harder to new create content that attracts the links, get visitors, and gets in the search engine rankings using the same old approaches.

Content has become easier to create

Blogs, podcasts, photos, and online video are now within the grasp of millions.  It’s gotten a whole lot easier for individuals and small businesses to create content.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch speaks about the explosion of content:

“Back in 2000 it was fairly hard to do things like write a blog, publish photos (don’t even think about videos back then), or share bookmarks. Today, all that stuff is easy….”

To top it off, media outlets increasingly put their material on the Web and make it available for free.  So you may not only be competing against other bloggers, but against newspapers, the Associated Press, cable TV networks, magazines, and other media. Add it all up and that’s a lot of content!

As content becomes commoditized

Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 also writes about the glut of content in The Declining Value of Redundant News Content on the Web.  He uses the example of Microsoft’s withdrawal of its bid to acquire Yahoo, noting that Google at one point was tracking over 2000 stories on the topic.

He says it is a zero sum game for attention. There is finite demand for content on a particular topic.  For every time one version of content gets read, it means another version is not getting read.

The end result, he contends, is that the more content there is, the less value that individual content has — it becomes commoditized.

He is talking about news and media outlets. But you could say the same concept applies to a small business with a blog or podcast.

Just look around at some of the blog content you see.  For example, top 10 lists abound.  Do a search in Google for “top 10” and you get over 261 million results.

There’s the top 10 spammers, the top 10 strategic technologies for 2008, the top 10 cyber security menaces…. Time magazine even put together a compilation of 50 of the top 10 lists. Just how many top 10 articles do we need?  Better question:  just how many top 10 articles will people read?

Don’t get discouraged — get creative

If you are a blogger or a small business owner trying to stand out on the Web inexpensively using original content, right about now you may be feeling discouraged.

Don’t be.

My point is not to make you get all depressed and chuck it all.  Rather, I simply suggest you allocate a portion of your writing time to strategizing to create content that is original enough to stand out today.  Before you put pen to paper (er, fingers to keyboard), think about how to be original, so that you can meet the higher bar today.  The bar has gotten higher for quality Web content, but it’s not impossibly high.

As Rex Hammock writes, that there’s always demand for quality and originality:

“If you help me get to the information and insight I need to live a fuller life or conduct business in a more flexible and productive way, your blogging … does not burden me. Useless, redundant, meaningless, re-shuffled drivel is the burden. It can be delivered via print or on a weblog or a mobile device. Crap is a burden no matter what the medium used to deliver it.”

These days you may have to give your blog posts a little more thought in order to be creative and come up with something new and different that stands out — and that is not “useless, redundant, meaningless, re-shuffled drivel” to use Rex’s words.

How to stand out

The way to stand out with your content today is to be original.  Be different. Easier said than done, right?  Not really. I offer three ways to do that:

1. Focus on topic niches, rather than general topics.  Before you write that “top 10 list of marketing ideas” do a search in Google and see if there are already articles on that topic.  If so, consider how to make your article different. One good way is to go narrow and deep – because a lot of the broad and general topics have been done to death.  Narrow the topic.  Make it “top 10 marketing ideas for under $5” or “top 10 marketing ideas for home-based landscaping businesses.”
2. Write about your own experiences.  The one thing that I guarantee has not been written about ad nauseum are YOUR experiences.  Instead of writing on broad topics, write from the perspective of what you have experienced, done, learned, etc.  Only you can write that.  Want an example?  Here is an article I wrote about a true story that happened to me — it got tons and tons of readers and links:  Hacked: It Could Never Happen to My Site (Famous Last Words).
3. Add value to the news, don’t repeat it.  Even when writing about current news articles, add value to the basic story, don’t simply regurgitate it.

Jody Ordioni

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