dAndelIon marketIng

Your tIMe IS VAluAble. H O W t O In Crease y Our O d d s OF “gOIng VIral ”

WHy tO sPend It Here.
there is a HuGe difference between how you can use social media as a marketer and what its arrival means for you. this e-Book is about the latter. the changes that social media is forcing upon us as marketers are quite significant. What you will walk away with is: •  a better understanding of those changes •  How you need to adapt your marketing function to thrive Hint: it involves a flower.

I n t roduct Ion

Was It Only a PrIntIng Press?
When Johannes gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, there were those who said: “Great, now it costs less to print my ideas.” there were others, however, who took a more expansive view. they said: “Whoa. Information can now get in the hands of the masses and not just the elite. There will be some sweeping societal changes that will come about now that printing is really cheap. What will they be and how can we capitalize?” guess which group was ready for the monumental societal transformation that subsequently rocked europe? So, Which Group Are You In? We are facing a similar historical moment with the advent of social media. Only this time, instead of the printing press, the tools are blogs, Facebook, twitter, youtube, linkedIn and all the others. the Massive change? eVeryOne is a communications channel and “everybody can talk to everybody,” as Clay shirky writes. there are 1.2 billion people online. there are 4.8 billion cellphones. those numbers are not going to decrease. this tectonic-sized shift in communications and channels affects the audience of our marketing efforts (you already read that whitepaper, right?), but it also raises the much larger question:

How must organizations evolve their marketing functions to exploit these changes and opportunities?
never stop marketing Dandelion Marketing: How to Increase Your Odds of “Going Viral”


SpArkInG tHe VIral InFernO
the traditional job of a marketer seeking to drive sales was fairly straightforward: “get the word out.” In that model, we could measure media consumption fairly easily. But, “getting the word out” implies that it is on your shoulders to tell everyone. now, since “everybody can talk to everybody,” the marketer must focus instead on “having the word spread.” this is an important shift. With the channel fragmentation from a few into billions, it is difficult to know what people are consuming. But even beyond that, people have so much choice now that it has become much harder to understand how they will exercise that choice. In this new model, the best way for “having the word spread,” as you know, is when our stories “go viral.” remembering that viral is the effect, nOt the cause, we want to do all that we can to increase the likelihood of a “viral inferno.” there are a lot of things that we cannot control to accomplish this, but there are a few that we can. the three biggest ones are:

lI ke WHAt You’re reA dInG ? Cl IC k On any OF t Hes e ICOns tO sHa re t HIs WI tH a F rIend .

1. Be remarkable
nobody talks about things that are boring. If your stories are not worth sharing with friends and colleagues, they simply will not spread.

2. Create an “Ignitable” environment
make it as easy as you possibly can for people. •  On a very tactical level, you can add a tweetmeme, sharethis, or send to a Friend button to your site.. •  On a strategic level, you can cultivate a community of raving Fans (stage 2 of Cdm) so that when the right activity is placed in front of them, they are there to see it, embrace it, and spread it.
sign up to get the upcoming e-Book on Community Cultivation Best Practices.

3. make smaller Bets more Often
you never know-and cannot predict-which spark is going to set off the “viral inferno.” you have to create as many sparks as possible. Arranging your marketing function to increase the odds of sending out the right spark for the “viral inferno” begins, believe it or not, with a flower. to snap the tag, go to gettag.mobi on your mobile browser.


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tHInk lIke a dAndelIon
the advent of social media gives you the capability to experiment with new marketing initiatives at significantly less cost. Combine that with the fact that you (1) need to “have your message spread” and (2) cannot predict when and how that will happen; you recognize that the era of only 1 or 2 big annual marketing investments is over.

It Is time to “think like a dandelion.”
as Chris anderson writes, the survival of a dandelion requires that it waste a huge number of (cheaply produced) seeds in order that only a few may survive and prosper. marketing initiatives today are very similar. Instead of seeds, though, you are dispersing low-cost sparks into your ignitable environment to increase your odds of generating the viral inferno.

the dandelion marketing Culture
the challenge for many organizations is to design a culture of marketing (be it 1 person or 1000) that is capable of rapidly tossing out low-cost sparks. How convenient. that’s what is up next. so, if you are ready to design a culture of dandelion marketing, you will want to think about these six elements: 1. know the Commander’s Intent 2. everyone Is In marketing 3. Brand: Feel Over look 4. agile marketing development 5. High Fault tolerance 6. rapid Feedback loops

S tArt b Y k n oW I n G t H eS e S Ix e l eM e n tS o f dAn d e l I o n MArketI n G .

let’s talk about each of these and what they mean for your organization.

never stop marketing

Dandelion Marketing: How to Increase Your Odds of “Going Viral”


What is your commander’s Intent?
your number one job is to instruct your team about the ultimate goal of your efforts. Communicating that with the utmost clarity is at the core of Commander’s Intent. much of marketing today is a systematic, process-oriented, linear set of activities. “Our goal is Z, so first we will get to a, then to B,” and so on. as we get into the thick of execution, unfortunately, things do not always work out as planned. the military strategist karl von Clausewitz encapsulated it well; “no plan survives its first encounter with the enemy.” despite that, our linear, process-oriented thinking persists. stuck on point J and unable to get to point k, what do we do? We spend a lot of time, energy, and resources figuring out a new way to get to point k! this is not a good use of resources, IF we remember Commander’s Intent. Instead…. “Hey, wait a second. Our goal isn’t to get to K. Our goal is to get to Z!!!!! Maybe now, with new information about the market, we don’t even need to get to K! Maybe we can go straight to Z. Or at least to W, X, or Y!!”

SHA re co MMA nder’S Intent And t He ot Her dA ndel Ion MA rket I n G eleM ent S WIt H A frIend. ClIC k On any OF t Hese ICOns.

everyone Is a marketer
When you start looking for new ways to achieve the Commander’s Intent, you will need fresh ideas. Humbling though it may be to us as marketers, these ideas can come from anywhere. In a dandelion marketing Culture, the entire organization (not only employees, but stakeholders of all kinds, including raving Fans and customers) can act as your “eyes and ears on the ground.” they can spot new opportunities to achieve your objective…if you let them. In many cases, they are also better positioned to execute marketing activities more quickly than a centrally-led group. Here is one example: Rackspace is one of the leading web-site hosting companies in the world. The way they got there? “Fanatical support at every level,” according to one of their founders, Morris Miller. Author Jeanne Bliss sums it up this way: “Rackspace decided to eliminate silos for customers” and unify accountability for growth. 4

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In other words, they recognized that everyone is in marketing. Why does recognizing that “everyone Is In marketing” make so much sense in a world with billions of channels? Because perfect conditions for a “viral inferno” may be present for only a small window of time. When identified, sparks must fly as quickly as possible. a controlled, bureaucratic approval process will delay-and possibly forfeit-the benefit. everyone in the organization (regardless of role or title) must be empowered to act as a marketer and do it rapidly.

How It feels vs. How It looks b rAn d I S A b o u t tHe e x p e rI e n c e . IF yO u sH a r e COm m a n d e r ’ s Inte n t, eV e ry On e Can a C t lIk e a mar k e t e r a n d yOu r Br a n d WI ll f eel r I g H t.
I’ll guess your next question. “If I empower everyone to act as a marketer, how do I maintain a consistent look for my brand?” you don’t necessarily need to. gasp! stay with me here… Olivier Blanchard blogged about Jack spade (of kate spade) who offered the following piece of branding advice: Brand consistency is overrated. The brand doesn’t have to look the same, but it has to feel the same. An element of newness and surprise is important for any brand. Over time, we’ve come to associate the look instead of the experience as the defining element of the brand. the brand, however, is an ephemeral feeling. It sums up the aggregate experiences of the customer with the organization. the visuals can evoke that feeling, but they don’t determine it. your experience with a brand is the result of a two-way interaction. more often than not, it is an unscripted “improvisation” (shout out to mike Bonifer for this idea, that plays the organization’s representative off the customer’s opening line.) your representative is guided by Commander’s Intent and a solid understanding of the desired feel of the brand. the employee may express the “look” differently to snap the tag, go to gettag.mobi on your mobile browser. in the unscripted improv, but the positive trade-off comes in the empowerment to think and act like dandelions, throwing the spark that may set off the viral inferno. enabling individuals to express themselves within a framework of Commander’s

never stop marketing

Dandelion Marketing: How to Increase Your Odds of “Going Viral”


Intent has big benefits, according to internationally acclaimed conductor roger nierenberg: “The executive doesn’t own the music. Instead of demanding mindless obedience, communicate a larger vision that invites people to draw on the full range of their talents. Allow employees to feel ownership of the whole piece and not just their parts.” you are the conductor of the marketing orchestra. Communicate that vision and let the entire organization draw on their talents, feel ownership, and provide customers with a positive brand-building experience.

Agile Marketing development
If you are going to exploit the moments for a potential “viral inferno” and draw on a full range of talents from your organization, you will need a high degree of flexibility and creativity. this is where Agile Marketing development (AMd) kicks in. think of amd like building a house with a modular approach. First, you just put a bedroom with a bathroom attached to it. then, you decide you want to add on a full kitchen. then, a living room, and so on. the upside is that you get to live in the house pretty much immediately for a low cost. you get to find out if you like the neighborhood, schools, etc. before investing a ton of money in it. the downside is that you may not initially foresee the need for a 2nd story. When you need one, you have to spend more strengthening the roof than if you had originally specified a 2nd story. as it relates to marketing efforts, there are two primary benefits in your search for the right spark to start the “viral inferno.” 1. It is far better to make mistakes quickly, when they are small and cheap. 2. you are confronted with pass/fail situations sooner before you overcommit dollars for a bad initiative and after you have some actual evidence of a good one. tim Brown calls this “failing faster to succeed sooner.” some of the most creative people in the world actually favor this approach; first-rate designers just call it “prototyping.” When you prototype instead of just plan, people can react, discuss, get feedback and most importantly, ImPrOVe very quickly.

a gree WI tH rOger nIerenBer g? Go AHe A d And clIck A n Icon t o SHA re tHIS WIt H A fr Iend.


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creAt e Y o u r o Wn AG Il e MA r k e tI n G deV e l o p Me n t pro c eS S 1. allocate marketing dollars
budget timeframe scope

agile marketing development is about sourcing ideas from anyOne and rapidly testing as many of them as you can. You can prototype your own AMd process in 5 steps: 1. allocate a percentage of marketing dollars for amd prototypes 2. Communicate the criteria for amd prototypes (budget, timeframe, scope, etc.) 3. make it abundantly clear that good ideas are welcome 4. Implement the ideas you receive that meet the criteria 5. measure their impact (i.e. amount of pipeline created, number and impact of prototypes) Beginning with a “Beat the CEO” contest, JackBe, the leading mashup development platform (disclosure: client), embraced AMD to grow its Mashup Developer Community from 3 people on opening day…to over 3000 one year later. It has paid off in many ways, including recognition as a Forrester Groundswell Award Finalist. What they found, and what you will find, is that beginning amd is tough. But, you should hang in there…a few brave souls will come forth. Once the rest of the organization sees that ideas are valued and acted upon, they will respond.

2. set Prototype Criteria 3. Be Open to Ideas



4. Implement Ideas

tolerate (even embrace) failure
the nature of amd is that you will have significantly more failures than successes. Preparing your organizational culture for this is critical. In the technology word, there is a concept known as high fault tolerance. this means that when a part of the system breaks, the whole system doesn’t shut down. For example, if one server crashes, the Internet can still relay your messages for you. When you think about “high fault tolerance” as it relates to marketing planning, preparation, and execution, however, it reflects the type of culture you have built. you obviously don’t want losers or non-performers on your team. you want innovators who find and support dandelion efforts. and, if you really, truly want innovators, you must have a culture that allows them to experiment…and fail…without being punished for it. take a look at some of the big, successful corporate research labs, like Bell labs or Xerox ParC. these are cultures that tolerate failure.

5. measure Impact

never stop marketing

Dandelion Marketing: How to Increase Your Odds of “Going Viral”


Jeremy elson of microsoft research offers this: “Failure is not penalized, only a lack of success… People tend to keep multiple pots boiling at once for this reason, to increase the chance that in a given year you have some success to report -- always with other stuff brewing in the background which may become successful next year, or maybe never. “ at some point, you need to show progress, but peers know that great innovation, like great research, means a lOt of failures along the way. the challenge is to get your marketing function to behave in the same way. One approach is to reward failure. Steve Van Roekel is the managing director of the FCC. Prior to that, he spent 18 years working at Microsoft, leading various initiatives, including one role as a special assistant to Bill Gates. Van Roekel instituted a “Take Risk” Award that was handed out every quarter to the person whose failed initiative helped the organization learn the most. By rewarding the risk-takers, Van Roekel sent a strong message. Taking a smart chance is the best form of job security. to drive innovation in your marketing efforts, you must obliterate the perception that any failure is bad. Once you do that, you have actually increased your chances of success.

real-t I me results OF Onl Ine and OFFlIne aC tIVI t Ies are a real Ity. clI ck A nY of tHe Se IconS t o SHA re tHIS WIt H A fr Iend.

Which seeds grow? rapid feedback loops
the Cluetrain manifesto laid it out clearly: “Markets are conversations.” you say something, the market responds. you adjust, the market responds. you refine and iterate until you have a story that resonates, which people can tell their friends, and which give them reason to call you. the dialogue used to move Very slowly. It could take weeks or months to get a reaction. Organizing and analyzing a focus group took a lot of time and money. In a given year, you could only plan a few things to execute… at most. today the feedback loop is nearly instantaneous. Want a focus group? It’s already out there ready to go, instantly. Bing and google have integrated twitter into their search results. Facebook is now searchable. real-time results of online and offline activities are a reality. your opportunity to adjust comes sooner, which makes annual or semi-annual campaign planning obsolete and makes ongoing, real-time tweaks a reality.


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enJOy tHe read?
clIc k b e l oW to J oI n tHe con V e rS At Io n on fAc e b o o k And G e t eVe rY d AY In S I GH tS on H o W t o neV e r S t o p MAr ketI n G .

Instead of saying once, maybe twice, a year “here are the campaigns we will run for the next 6 or 12 months,” your new approach is: “We are going to create a story about this product/service that people will want to tell their friends. We will measure the success of the story by how often people talk about it (here are 100 ways to measure social media) and if they don’t talk about it at RATE X, well then, we will try a different way to tell the story. And we will do this every 2-3 weeks until we get it right. Because we can.”

marketing’s darwinian moment
the arrival of social media has created billions of channels for communication. much like those who saw gutenberg’s printing press in 1440, you have a choice in how you adapt to this new technological evolution. either you use the new technologies but keep doing marketing the way it has been done Or you begin to think about how society is changing and what you need to do to thrive. no pressure, eh?

be c o Me A fA n

noW WHAt? tHe antHrOPOlOgy OF yOur marketIng
How ready is your team for dandelion marketing? look at the culture you have. What are the strengths? the weaknesses? Where should you begin to make the small, adaptive changes? We do this through a marketing anthropology assessment. You can certainly drop us a line to find out more. or, do it yourself. See the free Marketing Anthropology Assessment Starter kit on next page.

never stop marketing

Dandelion Marketing: How to Increase Your Odds of “Going Viral”


H er e’ S Y o ur V e rY o Wn

marketIng antHrOPOlOgy assessment starter kIt
1. COmmander’s Intent
a. are you clear about your Commander’s Intent? Write it down. b. Is your team clear about yours? ask them to write it down.

2. eVeryOne Is In marketIng
a. do you know your top “non-marketer marketers?” b. Identify them by name. c. When was the last time that you implemented or supported one of them?

W HO el se W Ou l d BeneFI t F rOm t HIs Free m arket I ng ant HrOPOlOgy assessment star t er k I t? clI ck on one of t HeSe IconS t o SHA re tHIS WIt H A fr Iend.

3. Brand: Feel OVer lOOk
a. What is the essence of the “feel” of your brand? b. ask your customers to write down what your brand feels like for them. c. see if the two match up.

4. agIle marketIng deVelOPment
a. do you have budget set aside for amd activities? b. What are your criteria for funding and implementing amd activities? c. Have you communicated them? How did you do that? d. ask your “non-marketer marketers” to state them back to you.

5. HIgH Fault tOleranCe
a. How do you reward failure? b. Identify 5 examples of people who have “failed forward.”

6. raPId FeedBaCk lOOPs
a. How many listening posts do you have set up? list them. b. How quickly can you gather feedback on your marketing activities?

no matter how you do it (as long as you do it), good luck on the journey and thank you for reading!

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IF yOu Want tO read mOre
tHe r eAl I t Y IS Yo u cA n neV e r S t o p MAr ketI n G .
It’s not a some time thing or a “when we need it” thing. It’s an “all the time” thing. If you want to build a business that is sustainable over the long haul, you need to build a culture that has marketing as a perpetual activity. like breathing. never stop marketing is a mantra for how we work. more importantly, it’s at the very core of the marketing engines that we build for clients. to learn more, visit us online at www.neverstopmarketing.com and join others who share the mantra on Facebook. email the author (Jeremy epstein) or follow him on twitter. subscribe by email or rss to the never stop marketing Blog.

H e r e A re SoM e G reAt book S t o Help You t HInk
•  Purple Cow: transform your Business by Being remarkable the “Bible,” chock full of examples, of how to make your product or service worth talking about. •  the Cluetrain manifesto: the end of Business as usual If I taught a class, this would be the first book in the “required reading” list. •  Here Comes everybody: the Power of Organizing Without Organizations Puts “social software” into a context that helps you understand why it is so important. •  the anatomy of Buzz revisited: real-life lessons in Word-of-mouth marketing great examples, anecdotes, and ideas for HOW to make WOm work for you. •  Change by design: How design thinking transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation Helps you think about how to structure your life and your business for innovation. •  made to stick: Why some Ideas survive and Others die you need to tell stories that people remember. this book shows you how to do that. •  naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses talk with Customers I enjoyed this book for the way that it foretold (in a practical way), how conversations take place between companies and their customers. •  Free: the Future of a radical Price ever ask yourself, “I don’t understand how they will make any money?” read this. •  groundswell: Winning in a World transformed by social technologies a great, hands-on guide to using social media to help you have your stories spread. •  gameChangers -- Improvisation for Business in the networked World Introduced me to the concept of improvisation for brand management and, after a while, I realized…he’s right. •  I love you more than my dog great examples and a quick read of what companies (mostly B2C, but you’ll get the gist) can do to inspire fanatical customer passion.

© 2010 Never Stop Marketing. All Rights Reserved. Design: Amy Detrick, Tangible Group

never stop marketing

Dandelion Marketing: How to Increase Your Odds of “Going Viral”

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