Thursday, September 28, 2006


Focus Externally

A smart colleague four years ago had four hand-written guidelines posted up on his cube. These were rules he tried to guide his day by, to ensure he focused on the most important, productive work possible.

The one rule that stuck out to me the most was simple and short: Focus Externally.

The message is simple, but execution and fulfillment can be difficult.

The idea is simply to ensure that all of your work is focused on impacting an external audience - in most cases, your customers. Everything you do should ultimately focus on helping customers become more successful, focus on bringing new products to market that impact the company's top or bottom line, or otherwise impact the company's growth or customer's success.

But every company, and every employee, runs the risk of working on things "internally." This includes anything with an audience that is ultimately, and exclusively, internal. Examples include reports, processes and other peer-to-peer deliverables that, oftentimes, have no bearing or impact externally.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes internal work is done to inform colleagues about market conditions or work progress that is very much focused on external objectives. But if those very reports aren't leveraged or acted upon to impact external audiences, they're wasteful.

I've been at marketing conferences where many of the attendees from large companies spend the majority of their time talking about how to convince managers to give them more money, or how to build consensus for their specific initiatives. Some of this work may be required to ultimately impact external objectives, but it's unfortunate that so much time is taken up internally to get the job done.

Every company and every employee faces the internal/external challenge. Think about the work on your plate, and make sure as much of it as possible is externally focused. Your company, and your customers, will be better for it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Slowly moving to mainstream

It's critical that podcasts find their way into the mainstream to really gain traction. Key to that movement is the widespread availability and clear marketing of podcasts that transcend the medium.

Put another way, "real people" (not technology enthusiasts) need to clearly discover and understand how podcasts can benefit them in their everyday lives.

For example, I bet most people don't know that they could have the New York Times read to them every morning on their way to work. Or listen to the previous day's episode of ESPN's popular Pardon the Interuption program while at the gym.

These are everyday uses for a medium that few yet understand. But 1) those uses need to be communicated and discovered by "mainstream" consumers, and 2) enough content has to exist and be easily discoverable for everyday consumers to make the connection.

It was therefore disappointing to read today that Major League Baseball is pulling it's well-done podcasts from the iTunes store, over something to do with site placement.

Sure, there are literally hundreds of other baseball podcasts available online, but Major League Baseball has the credibility and production quality to help people understand far more clearly what podcasting can do for them.

This is a temporary set-back on an inevitable path for podcasting, but sad nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Direct Response Public Relations (DRPR)

The Direct Marketing Association asked me to pull together a quick Webinar on the topic of PR as a direct response tool. This was based on an earlier column I wrote on the topic for iMedia.

For those who have attended the Webinar or have interested in the subject, here's a link to a download of the slide deck.

The concept of DRPR isn't entirely new, but isn't a very mature practice either. Clearly PR will never be a purely direct response channel, but I believe strongly that new developments in consumer behavior, media access and social networking make the impact of PR, when well-executed, easier to track than ever.

Update: I'll be presenting on this topic again at the Seattle Direct Marketing Association's monthly dinner next February 7th. Click here for more information, or to sign up. I'd love to see you there!

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