Blurring Identity to Clear It Up

“What if there was an agreed upon microformat…that would telegraph to others our capabilities, experience, strengths, knowledge and, especially, our availability to be hired?” – Steve Borsch

Must be something in the warm Janurary in MN air. A lunch earlier this week – unfortunately without Steve (need to remedy that) – was all about the need and value in increasing the visibility of expertise, availability, and reputation.

In a very primitive, rudimentary, and analog form – the barometer Steve asks about already exists; participation in peer communities like forums, professional organizations, and generally impressing people with how hard your rock – are all reputation builders and indicators. Primitive, because it’s still pretty hard to find people that can vouch for you. Google, LinkedIn, eBay, and the comments on your own blog, are all ways to others gauge your status.

For better or worse – all the measurement systems listed thus far are isolated and non-portable (pointing your eBay rating at a potential consulting client means little). Maybe I should dust off my Identity XML thinking. Managing access to a bunch of Identity.xml files sounds far more useful than YAIS (Yet Another Identity Silo).

Many of the attributes Steve lists in his question above are most accurately declared by others – verses self. The world…er…marketplace…creates my identity as much as I do.

So, Steve, I’ll declare what I know of you, if you declare what you know of me. 🙂

Re-reading this, I think RSS is the microformat in question.

ELSEWHERE

“It took a few years, but it’s great to see software actually being built around the identities that aren’t vendor controlled.” – Dave Winer

I need to poke around MyOpenID.

The Buzzword Blacklist Part 2

  • Content – we can be more specific like; copy, pictures, conversations, talks, music, performances, etc). Doc Searls makes a good case to blacklist this word in this Giant Zero talk
  • Monetize – under a hunch that this was a made-up word…it’s not. It means ‘to express in the form of currency’. So, it’s not a hammer…it’s $7.49. Uh. That doesn’t seem very useful…more like duckspeak.

Hollywood Video in the Local Supermarket

Ran up to the local Cub Foods for a last minute dinner item this evening and snapped the above photo of the new Hollywood Video Express Kiosk over in a part of the store I never go to (Sturgeon’s Revelation frequently comes to mind while I’m grocery shopping).

I found two things interesting about this moment.

  1. Hollywood Video still exists – and enough to launch A New Thing
  2. Someone was using it

If I wasn’t in a hurry (why hasn’t Cub installed self-checkout?) and wasn’t already a Netflix subscriber, I might have stopped to check it out.

Distribution is Marketing

When we podcast the 2005 MIMA Summit – someone suggested we restrict access to the recordings. They’d be correct if the value of the conference was in the sessions. It’s not.

The value is in the hallway conversations, the handshakes, business card exchanges, and direct personal interactions. The sessions themselves are strictly the focal point, the common conversation piece, the marketing.

Every session ITConversations distributes is marketing for them, the conference, and the speaker.

Mark Cuban talks about the same phenomenon in the movies and television:

“It wasn’t that long ago that some people in the sports business thought that having games on TV would reduce attendance. After all, why go to the game when you can watch it for free on TV? Then someone decided to do some research and as it turns out, the more games you broadcast on TV, the more people who go to your games.”

This is also why the most effective use of ad dollars is in product development.

Update 21 January 2006:

“…a downloaded file is not a lost sale it’s a gained fan…” – Joichi Ito

The Long Tail of Media Attention

Tonight at 10pm, rumor has it the podcasting segment recorded by Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE 11 with me and many others within PodcastMN will air. As much as I’m always happy for an opportunity to spread the word on podcasting and PodcastMN.

I get much more excited about being picked up by other bloggers and websites for 2 reasons:

  1. I can link to them easily – meaning I can share them with you.
  2. They get picked up by search engines now and in the future – meaning things have a lifetime past their initial release.

Hugh, as always, is far more eloquent.

“Big Media offers a short-lived spike in blog traffic. High Google rankings offer a perpetual selling virus.” – Hugh MacLeod

Lawyers That Get Niche Publishing and Podcasting

Some of you may remember the 6-part series I did with Parsinen Kaplan Rosberg & Gotlieb P.A. over at the First Crack Podcast. For your convenience, I’ve consolidated all the PKR&G podcast conversations including 2 bonus conversations that didn’t make the original series.

This week PKR&G came out with their annual lifestyle magazine, “Perfectly Legal”. It includes text versions of many of the conversations and – just in time for the holidays – many other recommendations from the firm. There’s also a nice article on how podcasting builds and extends personal relationships written by yours truly.

All the articles in the 32-page issue were written by the someone with a relationship to the firm, all the photos are of people in the firm, and the magazine itself gets sent out to those again – with relationships to the firm.

This isn’t millions of people. It’s the right people. The people that trust and respect PKR&G, the people that will recommend PKR&G to their friends.

You don’t pick a lawyer by scanning a directory, why would you do the same for a podcast?

Using Search Engines and Tags to Get A Specific Someone’s Attention

Scoble pointed out this Google search for Susan Dumais, look at the ad in the right-hand column. It’s less of an ad and more of a unique recruiting method. I hope this is the future of Google Ads – very specific messages targeted to a single individual.

This reminds me of the how venture capitalist Fred Wilson is using del.icio.us tags.

“He also has created a specific del.icio.us tag (“fred’spodcast”) that allows you to tag MP3s you think Fred will like and those MP3s will automatically download to his iPod courtesy of a del.icio.us RSS feed…..and created the tag “fred’selevatorpitch” for anyone who cares to push a podcast elevator pitch his way”

It’s how Feedburner got Fred’s attention.

This is method is an extension of Doc Searls’ statement on the evolving RSS subscription behavior:

“Mostly I subscribe to searches, and I keep changing those.”

I’m subscribed to Technorati searches for myself, this blog, all the software I develop, and a few keywords (like “attention.xml”). I know mentioning one of those things in a blog post is the easiest way to get me to pay attention to what you have to say.

Welcome to the direct-est of direct marketing.

The Economics of Podcasting

First off, this post defines podcasting is an effective way to deliver highly niche audio to a very enthusiastic audience (the World English Bible translated into Klingon or Tips for Triathletes in the Southwestern US for example).

Secondly, the numbers used here are rough and make for easy math.

Let’s say you’re making one show a week for a year. Here’s a quick pass at some costs:

Monthly Server & Bandwidth costs ($40 * 12 months): $480
Production and editing effort per show ($200 * 52 shows): $10,400
Equipment Costs (mics, software, etc): $500

  • Beer, coffee, and other production/editing necessities per show ($20 * 52 shows): $1,040
  • Monthly Server & Bandwidth costs ($150 * 12 months): $1,800
  • Equipment Costs -mics, software, etc ($500 amoritized over 5 years): $100

Let’s say we’d like to gross $40,000 for the year (a fair amount for doing only one show a week).

Adding all this up puts your annual costs at $42,940.

For the sake of easy math, let’s say you have 1,000 listeners – the circulation of a small town Nebraskan newspaper like the Bayard Transcript. Frankly, the worldwide audience for a Klingon version of the Bible is probably a thousand.

Dividing the annual cost ($42,940) by the number of listeners (1,000) and the number of shows (52) makes the cost per listener: $0.8258

That’s less than a $1 per show per listener (iTunes – 99 cents, WalMart – 88 cents, coincidence?). One Dollar. $4 a month. $42.94 a year. Kris over at the Croncast settled on nearly the same numbers.

With numbers as small as these, I don’t see advertisers beating down the doors of podcasters. In the broadcast world, millions of dollars are sunk into spectrum, hardware, and talent. This gives advertisers the upper hand.

Early on, Heineken realized it was easier to start their own podcast than enter into an advertising agreement with the Rock ‘n Roll Geek Show. I agree. The economics of podcasting make it far more attractive to start your own thing than shoehorn in an awkward ad subsidized model.

If we go back to the original podcasting is best with niche audio assumption, there’s a point where the “ad message” is as valuable to the listener as the “show message”. One degreee further and the podcast is produced by the “advertiser” as part of their marketing campaign.

That’s far more interesting.

If your favorite podcaster has a tip jar (Croncast, IT Conversations, Evil Genius Chronicles) I encourage you to give them a dollar for every show you’ve enjoyed.

Micropayment pioneer Scott McCloud digs into this same issue in his I Can’t Stop Thinking comic.

If You’re a Guru, You Need a Podcast

There are a handful of vocations ideally positioned for connecting with customers on a regular basis via audio (podcasting):

  • Politicians
  • Motivational Speakers
  • Professional Consultants
  • Musicians
  • Poet, Author, or other Professional Writers

If your vocation is in that list, find a speech or presentation and hit record. Then send it to your most passionate customers. It’s an easy way to effect them on a different level than just text – more along the lines of a telephone conversation or a voicemail. At a most basic level, audio is better than text for addressing many people at once (that’s why we talk – Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language).

Despite your reservations, marketing guru Seth Godin, you should podcast. Whether or not you charge for it that’s an entirely different conversation.