Recent Guest Posts

For no particular reason, I’ve recently written a few guest posts on other sites. I’ve got a couple more pending, too. I thought I’d link to them in case they’re of interest:

There’s my wrap-up of the South by Southwest conference on Techvibes:

While there were big names at the sessions (hey, there’s Heather Armstrong! There’s Hugh McLeod! And so forth), I didn’t think they were any better, on average, than, say, Gnomedex or another, smaller geeky conference. They followed a similar bell curve from awful to excellent. This is no surprise, as there are hundreds of panels and being popular doesn’t necessarily make you insightful or a good public speaker.

I intentionally tried to go to sessions which had little to do with my day job. I quite enjoyed a session on video game marketing, and my favourite panel was a group of four archaeologists discussing how they use the web to talk about their work.

For the O’Reilly Radar blog, I wrote about a common hiring mistake that startup founders make:

Her response highlighted one of the most common mistakes we encounter when working with early-stage startups: the founders hire too much marketing talent too early.

Why does this happen? I’m not sure, but I wonder if it’s because many founders have a technical background. As such, they’re unfamiliar and sometimes a little intimidated by the challenges of promoting their startup. To assuage their concerns, they bring in a senior marketer with plenty of credentials.

In theory, this looks like a rational decision. After all, the more experienced the executive, the better. Practically speaking, things aren’t quite that simple.

And just yesterday Mashable published my guest post on how to use social media to market the ordinary:

It would be great if we worked for Apple or Volkswagen. Their products generate conversations because they are legitimately worth talking about–they’re beautifully designed, innovative and easy to love. They are, to use Seth Godin’s classic metaphor, a few purple cows among a vast pasture of Jerseys. And, of course, the social web loves purple cows.

But what do you do if it’s your job promote toilet paper or minivans on the web?

Find a gimmick. Devise an original way of talking about (or around) your plain old brown cow. Marketers like to describe this strategy as ‘creating a meme’, but that’s always struck me as needlessly high-minded. Let’s call it what it is: a gimmick. My dictionary describes a gimmick as “an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal”.


  1. O’Reilly Radar? Mashable? Techvibes?
    You’ve been social media ballin’, Darren.

    I like your thought on going to conference sessions that aren’t about what you normally work on. I try to do that as well, and I find those sessions to be a lot more inspiring. Similarly, I try and read blogs outside the usual PR/Marketing/Social Media circle.

    It was good to see you at mesh – sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat more.



  2. Darren
    I think the gimmick works for a while *generate conversations..and then some people will say: “but what’s the point” (i.e skittles and others). The truth is that it’s easier to get conversations on an ongoing basis if there’s something ‘social’ in your product or brand (i.e: people who own them/want them loves to talk about it because of how it makes them feel). Toilet paper mmm not sure we like to talk about it..But may be if the brand that does toilet paper + napkins + … has something in it (people?, culture?) that others will love, it can work. Look at zappos. It’s just shoes but the sm crowd love their culture.

    1. True, company culture can be another differentiator. In the case of Zappos, it’s partially about their extraordinary customer service.

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