Mojo readers know that I’m hooked on a couple wonderful marketing/business cartoonists and like to share their work now and then.  On my second blog, Marketing Observations Grown Daily, it’s David Jones Adland.  Here, it’s Tom Fishburne’s Brand Camp.  Enjoy!

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One of the major reasons I started this blog back in September 2007 was that, even then, you could see brands and individuals discovering the worlds of search and social media – and the result wasn’t pretty.

What happens when decisions are turned inside out, when employees blog and consumers/clients can say whatever they like to millions of people 24 hours a day?  How are you supposed to behave when a stranger says something personal and inaccurate about you, or buys the URL www.yourcompanyname goesheresucks.com?  Why are all these strangers talking about me and how can I make them stop??

Many a CEO, friend and neighbor had this reaction.  All of them had to find a way to deal.

As an private citizen and a business person, I found myself mucking around in this new environment with everyone else, and wrote a 4-part series on the topic in what now seems like eons ago (Internet Time).  Called “Promoting and Growstephanie-fierman-reputation-cookie.jpging Brands in the Digital Age,” the entries were featured on this blog from October 2007 to March 2008.

So since everyone knows to expect reruns over the summer… I thought I’d run the series again.  For most of  you, I suspect it’ll be the first time you’ve seen this.

Check it out; the advice about building your own personal brand online holds.

Part 1 – I introduce the idea that you are your own personal brand online.  How will you control it?  Can it be controlled? What should you do?

Part 2 – This entry is primarily focused on the announcement that I’d be partnering with DIGO Brands to provide “online brand self-defense” services to clients.

Part 3 – Ah, good one.  This entry focuses on the JuicyCampus debacle, where female Yale students were being harassed and endangered online.

Additionally, Part 3 includes my top ten tips for building your own personal brand online.

Part 4 – More can’t-say-I-didn’t-warn-you tips, plus the always-popular religious rumor(s) swirling around Obama’s candidacy.

Do not let this go.  Do no let anyone else create who you are or what you are online.  You have a lot of tools: use them smartly and persistently, please.

I am disheartened by GM’s new adverting campaign. And the fact that they even have one.

Oh, you say you didn’t know that GM was advertising again with your money? Exactly.

But putting aside the “taxpayer money” piece… what could the company possibly know yet that’s different from what it’s been saying (not doing, necessarily, but saying) for years? “We’re starting over, we hear you, we’re building ’em small, we’re going green, we’re gonna be competitive on a global scale.”

The company’s been bankrupt for 20 minutes. No one’s ever run or worked for or invested in a bankrupt GM. Why not take a breath and think about the very first words you want the American public to hear from you?

But instead the company moved forward with ads that were obviously made prior to the bankruptcy announcement. They already knew what they were supposed to say (see above rebirth, small, green, etc.), so they put some ads out there and paid Donny Deustch a bunch of money to go on Morning Joe and say great things… just as they might have done for any big new happening.

And there’s the rub. This advertising – who knows, maybe any advertising right now – IMHO says “business as usual” for this car company. With a tinge of humility (see hockey player land on his face), it’s all good feelings and autos and rah-rah.

In World War II, auto plants retooled to make planes, tanks and munitions. Michael Moore has said that “the only way to save GM is to kill GM” and that the U.S. must seize this moment in history to re-envision the corporation on nearly the same scale.

Whatever one thinks of Michael Moore, I believe we can all agree that radical change is in order. And maybe GM will shine once again in some new incarnation. I hope so. But by instantly and reflexively pushing out the standard flag-waving, sun-rising, children-playing advertising, GM has sent that first all-important signal to the marketplace: and it looks eerily like the old one.

As some of you know, I’ve really started to wonder how we can possibly ingest the fire hose of information that comes at us every day. The obvious answer is that we can’t. Brits know it, tweens know it, experts know it.  And yet… on it comes, leading one to either eliminate it – unsubscribe to an email newsletter, sign off Facebook, stop watching Real Housewives of New Jersey (oops, sorry – that’s mine) – or somehow filter out what we don’t want.  Some call this phenomenon the “attention economy.” 

In the attention economy, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that finite amount of attention over a rising level of noise.  In other words, it becomes increasingly important to make choices, to become more discriminating, to understand the value of our thoughts and our time.  So while I may watch reality TV because I like it, it would never dawn on me to voluntarily invite a continuous information stream into my skull that I neither want nor need. I recently wrote a post on this topic as it pertains to Twitter, arguably the Web’s newest, most popular time suck.

Well here’s another upside-down concept from the Twuniverse:  Twitter Karma.  If you’re not on Twitter, you don’t have a clue what this would be. But if you are, you may know what’s coming…


On Twitter, you follow people whose thoughts interest you, and others may follow you for the same reason.  Twitter Karma refers to those whom you follow who do not follow you back. This means that you’ve elected to see every tweet of theirs and they have not reciprocated. Some people find this to be rude: so rude, in fact that they unfollow individuals who – after a respectable amount of time – didn’t follow them back.

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Wait – what? This is a problem? Did I go to sleep and wake up back in the 3rd grade?

We’re grown-ups. Each of us has her own unique interests, profession and curiosities. Each of us has goals of expanding his knowledge in different directions. So if I follow you on Twitter because you have a point of view I find valuable, why would I expect you to reciprocate (and consider it a compliment) if you don’t need what I have to say? Maybe someday you’ll be interested… but not now.

I do not take offense, but make no mistake: I’m supposed to.  By implication, those who do not reciprocate are ingrates and creeps.


Twitter karma feels precisely like one of those mean little games children play. Move on.


Look, here’s my point of view: if you’re on Twitter, chances are you’re a reasonably confident person who has something to say. I doubt you need or want an insincere slap on the back from someone who felt pressured to offer it.


This is the only life we get, people. You only have so many brain cells: use them wisely. Be choosy. Mandatory school books or work stuff aside… take in the information you need and want. Leave the rest. By doing so, we not only grow… but maybe we do increase the likelihood that we’ll have something to say that others will want to “follow.”


But, hey. If you’re squeamish about unfollowing a “mean girl” (or guy) on Twitter, sort folks on TweetDeck.  It’ll change your Twexistence.

Today, we seem awash in media – the social kind and otherwise.  I jumped into the Twitter pool, for example, because my friends and colleagues were beginning to behave as though I might devolve into a fish if I didn’t start tweeting.  I’m tweeting, OK?!  Stop bugging me!

724 tweets later… I actually think I get a lot out of Twitter.  I follow 180 people (all their tweets pop up together on my “home page” for easy reading) and I’m mind-boggled that over 400 people follow me, theoretically raising my profile in the universe.  I wander the site, use search and stumble onto things I didn’t know. I’d say that the value I’m getting from the site falls into 5 active categories:

1. New Twitter friends.  If you tweet enough, eventually you find people that you’d be friends with in real life.  They think like you, or don’t and are mature enough to joust with you on a topic.  They’re funny or profane or smart or all three.  Here are 4 twitterers I feel lucky to have “met”: Note_To_CMO, Brian Kenny, Ron Shevlin and Jason Siegel

2. Current friends with whom I don’t spend nearly enough time: TheCMOClub, JarvisCromwell, Marc HandelmanSteve Sieck and Jarvis Cromwell

3. Marketers of some status whose thoughts I find interesting: Bryan Eisenberg, Douglas Karr, Pete Blackshaw and Ann HandleyJeffry Pilcher and Jeremy Pepper,

4. Business figures/celebs/media personalities such as Seth Godin, Steve Case, Maureen Dowd and Downing Street

5. I learn things about the world from HardlyNormal, FT, The Nation, Be The Change and others.


In the beginning, I was just trying to keep up, stick to Twitter’s unspoken rules and get the hang of the site’s ebb and flow.  I’m sending’ some tweets and wandering about.  I try to make each tweet reflect a thought that someone might care about or find amusing.  I try.  I always ask myself, brutally, why I think anyone might be remotely interested in or amused by what I’m about to say.  If I can think of a reason, I tweet.  If not, I come back later.


HOWEVER


It seems to me that not everyone thinks of others.  There are many on Twitter who think – as Dane Cook said on Larry King last week – that “Just ate a ham sandwich” is a good tweet.  Could a twitterer possibly think that one’s banal eating, drinking, sleeping and transportation status are, on average, remotely interesting or worthy of someone’s time?  What sort of blind arrogance or obliviousness could prompt someone to believe that “Hmmm, coffee” adds something to another person’s life experience? That “Got to be at Tampa airport at 6am” is noteworthy? 
I actually posted this video in another post – on my other blog – but it just captures this aspect of Twitter so well…


As an aside, there’s another category of weirdly self-absorbed twitterers.  I’ll call these folks “twegomaniacs” (I wanted to be clever with “bozo,” but couldn’t make it work).  I’ve followed – then un-followed – two of these twinsufferables: the first, a famous business celeb and author who was cluttering my life with random tweets 24 hours a day (because she has people tweet for her at 3am), and a business journalist who just thinks he’s da bomb.  Drove me nuts.  Clogged my home page and took far more of my time than their respective contributions deserved.  They’re history.

Which got me thinking:  what responsibility does each of us have to everyone else on Twitter, particularly those in our respective follower/followee universes?  Do we have the right to blurt “Forgot to pick up my shirts” and other tweets of that ilk?  Are we so vain as to think that every random thought should be expressed? Would you walk up to someone at a cocktail party and yell, “New sneakers!”

I didn’t think so.

So what’s the purpose of my meandering?  Just this: I think we should expect more.  More from each other, more from the media we consume, more from our choices. 

Curate the words and factoids fighting for your brain space each day.  Think about the value of your time. 

The airwaves/webwaves/our brainwaves are only going to get weirder and more clogged as time goes on.  Horse has left the barn.  Can’t unring a bell.  That dog won’t hunt.  Etc.  There will be more and more detritus trying to get in.  Edit out what doesn’t make you better.  When was the last time you started receiving a new email newsletter, or unsubscribed to an old one?

And in the case of Twitter – for goodness sake, don’t voluntarily invite folks into your head who need to tell you that they just got back from the grocery store or plan to enjoy the sunshine.  As an aside, a lot of other folks have perhaps had the same reaction to Twitter’s potential avalanche of inanities:  more than 60% of new Twitter users stop using the service altogether within a month of joining.  In my world a 40% retention rate is yikes time.

I simply think you deserve more.  And if you don’t start sweeping out the crud, I’m afraid you might just start telling me that you’re gonna watch some TV now… and that won’t be good.

‘Back soon with further thoughts on this topic (with examples from your favorite marketing magazine…)

snuggie-stephanie-fierman.jpgI first noticed the Snuggie on television in December.  I first voiced my aversion to the Snuggie soon after.

Since then, several people who know I have blogs have asked me why I haven’t written a post about the marketing phenom that is the Snuggie.  The question is usually asked in a mocking tone, accompanied by a broad smile.  I believe these people are disturbed and that they do not care about me or anything that is good and right with the world.

But there is only one way to silence the masses.  Here now is the only public comment I shall ever utter regarding the dreaded Snuggie.  So you might want to lean in.

What’s a snuggie?  It’s this weird, shapeless fleece thing that looks like a big bathrobe put on backwards.  Is it a blanket?  Is it fashion?  Perhaps a fanklet?  I think not.  It comes in royal blue, baby puke green and a red that, in the TV commercial, makes the senior citizen wearing it look like the Pope.  I mean, this thing is fugly.

The commercial shows people wearing it inside while reading, eating, talking on the phone… and that was bad enough.  Now a New York Times Styles (!) reporter has taken the thing out for a spin – ice skating, riding the subway and going to a bar in Brooklyn.  The reporter says that he received a positive reception from most people.  I believe that is because we have all been taught to smile and be nice to crazy people in public.  A number of readers commented on his story:  click here and find a comment dated 3-2-09 from  “Hotpants Malone” that’s my all-time favorite.

Worse yet, the thing is so goofy that it is now “invading American bars,” as it has become fashionable for people to wear their Snuggies on pub crawls!  This could actually make sense, given that a crawl is a group of people, all stone-cold drunk, who could use the fleece as a cushion when they fall off the curb.

What is semi-interesting is that nary a Snuggie story has mentioned the product’s manufacturer, Allstar Marketing Group, who is running $10 million worth of DRTV for the product.  But hey: maybe Allstar thought it needed a fast start out of the gate, given that the “slanket” was in the gross-reverse-bathrobe category first… and pulled in $4 million in 2008 alone. 

pet-rock-stephanie-fierman.jpgAnd I do believe the Snuggie may be the pet rock of this generation, and that little piece of genius made its creator the equivalent of $56 million in today’s dollars in less than one year.

So who’s fleecing whom?? Get it?  “Fleecing?” Whooeee!  I’m hilarious!

Now do not ever mention the product which shall remain (Snuggie!) nameless to me again, and I’m sure we’ll all get along just fine.

P.S. I now use a photo of Bill Maher wearing a Snuggie on his TV show as my cell phone wallpaper.  Does that mean I have fallen under the Snuggie spell?  Sue me.

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For more of my writing, please check out my second blog,
Stephanie Fierman – Marketing Observations Grown DailyThank you!

Despite a massive media focus on the event, there’s not a lot one can one say about a photograph of Michael Phelps smoking marijuana from a bong.

Did he do so on his own time?  Definitely.  And is there a near-100% likelihood that Phelps’ was and is entirely in control of his athletic performance?  Absolutely.  Will this matter to some people? Not at all. 

South Carolina, after all, is pondering filing criminal charges.  

Putting aside the criminality of smoking marijuana… there is no question that this is a hit to Phelps as a revenue-producing business. Whether fair or not, Phelp’s representation and sponsors are placed in a tough spot: kid-focused McDonald’s and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, for example, have both counted on Phelps to project a wholesome, healthy All-American image.  Yes that’s right kids, your gold-medal idol is smoking grass. Weed. Ganja. He’s inhaled. And it looks like he’s done it before, too. Yikes.phelps-frosted-flakes.jpg

Phelps has issued a statement and apology using the “I’m young and dumb” approach and, as Fox Sports has already reported, this event is likely to fade in the memory of the public. The question is whether sponsors will stick with him and help mend his reputation permanently.

The Mojo believes that Phelps’ fortunes are likely to survive long-term if this side of him never sees daylight again. But if there’s more to come – if this episode turns out to be only Strike 2 following his arrest for drunk driving in 2004 – his sponsorship potential may not recover for decades, if ever.

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UPDATE:  A version of this post is available on www.reputationgarage.com, where a frustrated fan imagines a hypothetical “Dear America” letter from Phelps: “I work my a** off 10 months a year. It’s that hard work that gave you all those gooey feelings of patriotism last summer. If during my brief window of down time I want to relax… you can spare me the lecture.” 

The Mojo could definitely understand, even sympathize, with Phelps if he’s having these thoughts.  There are, however, two relevant concepts here: (1) When the “institution” in question is an individual, it can be challenging to separate the person from his or her behavior.  As a matter of cold, hard cash, Phelps damaged his sponsorship machine.  It doesn’t mean he is a “bad person.” (2) Life is not fair.  The bank bailout debacle has, in particular, brought out the fact that how society measures behavior whether it be personal indulgement or taking “deserving” bank executives to Vegas is not always rational or fair. If there is heat around an issue (like illegal drugs), people may vote in a way that is not entirely logical.  An institution can subsequently correct its behavior, or continue on and accept the consequences.

Stephanie Fierman Prefers Tylenol

September 9th, 2008

More than 25 years ago, Tylenol changed the “crisis management” business forever by taking decisive action to compromise profitability based on something that was not its fault.

In the fall of 1982, seven people in Chicago died after taking Extra Strength Tylenol capsules laced with potassium cyanide.  A 12-year old girl was reportedly the first to die.  Panic ensued.  Police cars roved the streets in and around the Chicago area blasting warnings from PA systems.  When it was determined that the poisoned bottles had come from different factories, the possibility that Johnson & Johnson (Tylenol’s ultimate parent) was somehow to blame was decisively ruled out.  Officials came to believe that one or multiple criminals had instead removed bottles from stores, tampered with the contents and then surreptitiously returned the bottles to store shelves.

And yet, responsibility never entered into the decision-making process underway at J&J:  only public safety did.  The company stopped all Tylenol production and promotion.  It issued a national recall not after the episode was over, but while it was still very much underway.  The bottles returned to J&J as a result of the recall had a retail value of more than $100 million.  I shouldn’t say that J&J stopped all Tylenol promotion:  it paid for and issued new national advertising instructing individuals to avoid taking any products that contained Tylenol, and offering to reimburse anyone who sent in an existing bottle of Tylenol capsules.

Once both the crisis and J&J’s action plan were in full force, Tylenol’s market share dropped like a rock from 35% to 8%.  To be expected.  What was not expected was that share rebounded in less than one year:  a return widely credited to J&J’s immediate and decisive action to sacrifice its own well being for the health of – really – the entire country.   Since then, J&J’s response is widely considered to be the gold standard in crisis management.  Act now.  Ask later.

I cannot overemphasize how I feel today about J&J’s behavior that long-ago autumn when I was still a kid.  It made an impression that has lasted my entire career:  one that influences how I measure companies and my own conduct as a business executive to this very day. 

So when I see a company disregard such a lesson for no other reason than financial gain, I am not just nonplussed – I’m disgusted.[Bassinet Recall]

SFCA Inc. purchased the assets of Simplicity Inc., a baby bassinet manufacturer, earlier this year after Simplicity went out of business.  SFCA is an affiliate of the private equity firm, Blackstreet Capital.  Two weeks ago, fifteen retailers – including Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Amazon and Kmart – halted the sale of certain Simplicity bassinets that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said could be hazardous to babies after two baby girls died (from strangulation in their bassinets).  The Wall Street Journal reported that Toys R Us were selling eight of the 66 models affected by the warning; the chain pulled the products anyway.  And all the retailers affected agreed to permit consumers to return the bassinets for a refund or store credit, regardless of how long ago the product had been purchased. 
These retailers heeded the lessons learned from the shining example set by Johnson & Johnson.  Act now. 

SFCA, on the other hand, is doing nothing, holding fast to its claim that it bears no legal responsibility for the hazardous bassinets.  The USCPC couldn’t even issue a product recall, because SFCA would not cooperate.  Rick Locker, a lawyer representing SFCA has declared the company unwilling to recall  “a product that it did not make and sell.”  The blog Daddy Types reports that – while SFCA may have hired Locker to assist with this matter – Locker is also paid as counsel for the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association:  the lobbying organization that helps protect the makers of children’s products.  


Ironically, the JPMA’s website is currently heralding September as “Baby Safety Month.” In July, the association tooted its own horn for “reaffirm[ing] its commitment of safety.”  The communications contact on the July press release isn’t someone at a real PR or crisis management firm:  it’s a woman at Association Headquarters, Inc., an organization whose lone means of support is selling services to organizations such as… JPMA.  You can’t make this stuff up.

dilbert-business-ethics2.jpgHenceforth, SFCA has taken a “Who, me?” approach to its products killing children.  The company claims that it might go out of business if it took all the offending bassinets back.  I find this particularly ironic and outdated in our Web 2.o world.  If SFCA came out on the Web and announced a recall (even though they were not legally responsible), the company’s future would be far more secure.  The company would be a hero.  Parents would rave and remember the company when they went shopping the next time.  They would tell one another, at a time in history when spreading the word is easier than ever.  Their marketing folks would get college and business school cases written. 


Isn’t this exactly what Tylenol did and exactly what happened as a result (in a decidedly Web 0.0 world)?  But then again, it’s not hard to imagine those meetings in 1982 where well-meaning lawyers warned that a recall could take down the company and J&J’s top management said, So be it.  We’re not going to stand by and let people die.  Short-sighted greed and bad lawyering are in full control at SFCA. 
The drawbridge is up.  SFCA is not legally required to take back the affected bassinets, there are no mandatory standards for safety in the category and the USCPSC cannot bring legal charges against SFCA.

No matter.  There is a higher standard for working and living on this planet that J&J set and by which all corporations should live.  As an aside, I’ll say once again that it’s just good business: (a) the positive halo effect for J&J post-crisis was and still is phenomenal, and (b) not doing the right thing will get you in the end.  You can expect boycotts and bad press at minimum: perhaps a crazed parent manufacturing a terrible happening to take you down if you’re really unlucky.  Permanently disastrous online search results.  But aside from it being good business, it’s about acting human, like someone whose own child or grandchild was killed by your product.


There is no exception – and if there is, I haven’t heard about it and SFCA most definitely does not qualify.  This is capitalism run right into the ground, taking humanity and business ethics down with it.

SFCA  Simplicity bassinets   Blackstreet Capital  JPMA 
Johnson & Johnson 1982 Tylenol   Rick Locker  

So I was sitting in a meeting just a few days ago, and someone I like and respect said something about “the long tail.”  A couple people sort of nodded, and I thought, “Oh my, are people still talking about that?”

You see, I am and always have been… a long tail doubter.  It’s true.  I’ve never said it out loud because the book was so very popular and the concept was picked up everywhere and it spread like wildfire, so I just kept my doubts to myself.  For two years.  Until now.

But first, a bit of history to catch us up to the present day.

Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, made a huge splash with The Long Tail, which was first published by the magazine in 2004 and then as a book in 2006.  In a nutshell, the long tail theory says that the abundance and ease of choice on the Internet has shifted sales potential from a small number of mainstream “hits” (at the front of the demand curve) toward a near-endless number of lesser-known choices at the tail.  The term refers to the orange section of the demand curve shown here:

stephanie-fierman-long-tail-curve.jpg

Furthermore, because retail economics restrict stores to carrying only the best-selling products, items that have already been created and have either lost their mojo or were never popular in the mainstream in the first place are pushed out – along with their sunk costs.  But lo the Internet, with its infinite “shelf space” makes every product discoverable and ready to be purchased.  The book has become something of a holy document in the Internet community where companies (“from Amazon to iTunes,” says Anderson on his website) want to find a way to sell old songs, movies, videos, ringtones, on-demand books and television shows from their infinite Web warehouses.  Case studies flew up everywhere. 

Personally, I thought it was bunk.  Or rather, I thought the concept vastly overdramatized the effect of a small minority of “committed seekers” dedicated enough to something (comic books, that lost Marvin Gaye song, Civil War spoons…) to search for and purchase a category’s flotsam and jetsam.

When I looked around, in fact, it seemed that the rest of us were doing quite the opposite.  The New York Times’ Most Blogged, Most Emailed and Most Searched lists.  Top TV Shows, Top Music, Top Movies on iTunes.   Amazon.com’s influential Sales Rank, and its Bestsellers list (updated hourly).  The Netflix Top 10.  To me, the Internet appeared to be herding users more aggressively toward blockbusters, not away from them.

Like I said:  I kept this then un-hip and un-scientific opinion to myself.

Now there’s a professor at Harvard Business School who has researched the long tail. Based on sales data for online video rentals and songs, Professor Anita Elberse verifies my gut: not only do hits continue to be just as important online as they are online, but the Web is actually magnifying attention on the winners.

Elberse also discusses what she and others view as an incorrect subjective assumption that Anderson made when building the long tail, which is the idea that people want to go their own way.  They don’t want to listen/watch/read what everyone else does, and would rather wander down an untrodden hallway of the Web and find an otherwise discarded gem.  Who is he kidding?  Elberse cites additional research showing how intensely social people really are: how we like sharing experiences with others and that the mere fact that others like something makes us like it even more. 

And confirmation has come from another interesting source, as well.  Neil Howe, widely considered to be the expert on Millenials, draws a broad distinction between Gen X and this new influential group – the generation driving the most development and change on the Web. Among other things, while Boomers and Gen X “individuated,” born-in-the-80s Millenials gravitate toward the social:  chat rooms, instant messaging, Facebook.  They enjoy being with each other, forming friendships and shared preferences.  Rather than acting independently, Millenials who spend time customizing content on the Web do so for the purpose of sharing it with others (hello, YouTube). 

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                                         (Click on the graphic for a larger view)

Howe says it is and will be “the most connected generation in world history,” and that their preferences will only solidify the popularity of mainstream, popular brands and products.
Finally, Elberse and The Wall Street Journal‘s Lee Gomes also believe that the Internet/tech community unconsciously may have wanted to back the theory because it flattered its citizenry.  Long tail strength would fortify the value of new digital assets created outside the walls of institutional, cultural power (let’s build a pet robot in my garage, shoot a video for YouTube and get rich!).  And bloggers drank the Kool-Aid, they say, because the long tail promises an audience for just about any goofy comment out there.  This is all probably true, but it’s a little sketchy so I’m not going to dwell here.

But I am very, very happy that some respectable people with significant research refute the long tail theory.  Because – while I may not be a Millenial – I do like company.


If you enjoyed this post and wish there was so much more… Check out my daily blog at www.stephaniefiermanmarketingdaily.com. Thank you!


Rising gas prices, baggage fees and the like are causing a lot of folks to plan summer vacations close to home… or at home.  UrbanDictionary defines staycation as “a vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer.”  That sounds fun and relaxing – right up until you all decide you’d like to wring each other’s necks.  “Mom, there’s nothing to dooooooo!”

Over and above the normal picnic/game/pool promotions, this is a great opportunity for lots of local and national consumer-focused entities to promote themselves in this new context.

Some retailers are already getting into the act.  Wal-Mart has launched an “American Summer” campaign, cutting prices on everything from hot dogs to mosquito netting.  Their tag:  a summer getaway is “as close as your own backyard.”

Toy stores should get together recommendation lists based on budget, location (weather), age of children and so on.  Create promotions around toys and products best used at home.  And any smart local business trying to drive traffic should consider throwing a kid-friendly party:  growing up in a small town in New Jersey, I remember the parties thrown by the local Midas Muffler shop and one of the new bank branches in the community.  Hot dogs, face painting, balloons – families came out in droves.  Local, inexpensive happenings like these can create loyalty opportunities. 

Local newspapers (print and online) could feature daily and weekly ideas for great things to do around town – even borrow the concept of “3 Days In…” (see here and here for examples) and print entire itineraries for families to consider.  The web is great for this kind of editorial because it would enable a visitor to sort on the variables most important to him or her, such as distance from home, number of kids, indoor/outdoor activities, etc.  Sell incremental advertising around these features.

Local TV stations and affiliates should look at their programming schedules in the coming months and see what might be “repackaged” as stay-at-home, family fare.  Ad time could be sold to local supermarkets and other shops offering “specials” for fun nights at home.

There are also plenty of ideas being pitched for a very adult type of staycation, which usually revolve around a 2 or 3-night hotel or resort package of some sort.  Here’s one from Fodors.

Some creativity could really help businesses and families make the most of a challenging situation this summer.

NOTE:  And while you’re at home, you’ll have time to check out my second blog at http://www.stephaniefiermanmarketingdaily.com.