Strategy is Writing

When I was at university I was lucky enough to have a tutor called Martin Buzzacott. He was a lot of fun and quite unconventional, and at that stage he was in the middle of writing his second novel.
I remember asking him what his novel was about and he looked at me rather strangely and said, "I don’t know yet, I haven’t finished it".
This struck me at the time because I was particularly fascinated by the process of writing and creativity (not much has changed), and there was a lot of focus on writing by numbers … define your characters, build a plot outline etc. Martin’s approach was a breath of fresh air.
The reason I bring this up is to do with the importance of writing in the development of strategy. We can all get carried away in running workshops and meeting people and digging into the ribs of business, but the hard work of strategy, and the most creative elements are in the writing of your plans.
It is only when you sit down, focus and start writing that all the elements begin to wrestle with each other in your subconscious mind. And as you continue to write and develop your ideas, you mind will make staggering connections and then throw them up for you to write down. It is almost like magic.
But like any form of writing, it often does not come easily — and you can also fall victim to "writers block". For marketers and planners, at least there is always a looming deadline to kick you into gear!
The challenge is to make sure that as you write up your strategy that you also allow yourself some freedom so that a compliant idea can work its way in.
I think in many respects, blogs are a great way of producing short form strategy. They keep you writing, keep your brain active, and when you are loving the hypertext, you start to behave online in the same way that our brains do. Hmmm … now that has got me thinking!

Blog Lessons

One of the interesting parts of running a blog is meeting and communicating with lots of different people from all over the world. But something that does seem to unite bloggers and blog readers is a genuine desire to learn and understand what makes a blog work. As a marketer, this is a very interesting phenomenon, because it means that bloggers are constantly working to engage, understand and respond to an audience.

Even more importantly, the bloggers are also (mostly) willing to share their knowledge, their tips and tricks. Often this takes the form of blog entries, but can also include email correspondence or even phone calls. This "community engagement" is what the web has been trying to become since its inception.

So in the spirit of sharing, and for the benefit of my new readers who may not have seen this post, here are the 5 things that I have learned about blogging.

  1. Just because you write something doesn’t mean that it will interest anyone (no matter how much you love it)
  2. You have got to share the love in order to get some lovin’ yourself (ie don’t think that others will read your rantings if you don’t read those of others)
  3. Keep focused, because your readers are interested in the TOPICS you rant about … not necessarily in all the tangents that you throw up (unless your blog is about tangents)
  4. Don’t take it too seriously
  5. Don’t just "report", analyse and add perspective
  6. Anyone still reading? Yeah I know this is six, but the final one is keep trying to surprise yourself AND your readers.

Also, have learned that it can be a delight to correspond and engage with people around a topic either on my own blog or on someone else’s. Keep having fun!


Innovation at Google

Chuck Frey over at Innovation Weblog consistently publishes thought provoking articles, hosts discussions on the topic of innovation and points us all to presentations, books, articles and videos by leading innovators. He has a great summary of a video on innovation at Google … with links through to the video of Marissa Mayer’s seminar at Stamford.
It is a great video if you have 50 minutes or so to spare. But if you don’t, check out Chuck’s summary of the 9 principles of innovation at Google.
Take a look at Chuck’s list and let me know your favourite … mine is "Creativity loves constraints".

Welcome New Readers!

I just wanted to put up a quick post to thank all the new readers that have taken the time to visit and read through this blog over the past week or so. It has been great to receive comments from such a broad range of people … and even more fun to take a look at their sites.
So, if you are in the mood for a bit of hypertext loving, check out these sites:

  • Julia @ DatingPro — daily tips on dating and relationships
  • Jason @ Clarity of Night — a site for writers and the inspiration that sometimes only comes late at night
  • Remi @ The Falling World — trying to make the world a better place
  • Jarkko @ Loghomescabin — we all need a goal … and Jarkko is aiming for his own log cabin
  • Dadan — still battling with WordPress by the look of things
  • Melly — who writes a great blog on writing and publishing
  • Rob — a blogger who sees life as one great big experiment
  • Razib — blogging from South East Asia … and interesting perspective on blogging, business and world events
  • Kimson — chronicler of the trials and tribulations of being Swiss and living in the UK
  • Andrea — the consultant who can help you become a consultant

Have fun reading! Oh, and come back again, soon.

Socceroos Win!

It is a story that you could not write. I sat here, glued to the telecast, wondering how with only 8 minutes to go, the Socceroos would be able to get to a draw against Japan. And then it happened.

Tim Cahill somehow changed the game fundamentally. Not only one, but two goals in quick succession. John Aloisi’s goal was just the icing on the cake.

Time for sleep!


Reach for the Stars?

G 004 O A L

I may have been living a deluded life. I thought I was a goal-oriented person, but am starting to realise that I believe more strongly in an anti-goal.

I submitted yesterday’s post to Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger site and wound up on this list. So I went and had a read of each of the blogs shown and found that there are many, many, MANY other bloggers out there who are far more serious and far more goal oriented that I! But then it started to sink in … I was having a reaction … I could feel a rant coming on. Where was all this taking me?

Honestly, I was surprised at the number of bloggers who were interested primarily in making money from their blogs. Not that there is anything wrong with that … but I wonder how the loyal audience feels about such a frank admission, especially given the open, democratic nature of the blogging community. Is this sustainable? Are we all so compliant and/or gullible?

As Oscar Wilde said, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars". Lets hope that the stars we are following are not just space junk. Hey, at least Diana is sharing the love!


Title courtesy of Spell with Flickr.

Eat Your Own Cake

Sometimes I wonder why I spend so much time blogging … and at other times I get a sincere joy out of the interactions, conversations and ideas that come from the process of writing and reading. And then I came across this post over at Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger site — a group writing project where Darren encourages his readers to write about their blog goals.

I am a fan of eating your own cake — not just talking about a technology, a tool, an idea … but actually engaging with it, trying to figure it out … and putting your own creativity out into the world. Of course, that is a little terrifying — but that is part of the fun. So when I started thinking about blogs and blogging and how it was changing the way that we all communicate and engage with brands, with stories and (on the other side) with companies, then I thought I should learn by doing.

Diego over at Metacool talks a little about this in this post on CEOs and the need for them to "get technology". And while I don’t entirely agree, it is clear that business leaders do need to have an understanding of technology — but more importantly — they need to be able to spot the innovative use of the technology to achieve a business goal. And while I am not a CEO, the lessons I have learned by actively writing and engaging with this blog have been suprising.

And while this blog and the lessons I have learned may not change the world, it has certainly been very tasty.


Why Wont Online Video Ads Bleep Off

I could feel a rant coming on the moment I glanced at the summary … I have been glancing over at marktd for the past week or so and checking out the reviews of the world of marketing professionals, and then came across this — "Online Video Ads Need Revamping".

Not only do they need revamping, they need rethinking. It is NOT simply good enough to shoot a commercial and then digitise it … such an approach indicates a fundamental LACK of understanding about the web and the people who use it. Tourism Australia took this approach recently and claimed it was a viral success … and just the other day I was interrupted by some ad for a car on the Sydney Morning Herald website. Both approaches appalled me. Considering the budgets that some of these agencies are working with, you would have expected them to come up with something truly innovative and engaging. But no …

OK … I feel a little better (if anyone is still reading).

So then I clicked through to the actual article about online video … and found that there was at least a little value. I do actually like the idea of "telescoping" as outlined in Jeremy Allaire’s speech … being able to telescope into a video scene to interact with "product related messages" could be interesting … it may even make someone some money. But this is another advertising technology that will need to get past the annoyance factor before it will be accepted.

Me? I am just surfing over to some other site where those ads wont annoy me.

New Australian Blog Search

Python_and_gnuSo it looks like we have our own, Australian rival to Technorati. It is called Gnoos and it launched yesterday. There is quite a strong blogging community in Australia so it will be interesting to see how it all goes!

I was, of course, looking for a story behind the name … but their search did not show anything up. Hmmm … wonder what the news is on gnoos.