Quit complaining about FREE

Don’t like all the changes Facebook is making? So what? This is a Google world and we only live in it. And if you don’t have a Facebook profile, then you might as well live on Mars.

Free is an entry price with no promise of benefits. The bottom line in content marketing is that search and social media platforms are not asking for your opinion… only what you are interested in. Because the real value is you, and it’s a game of chance because membership has moving privileges.

That’s the one way relationship with free that the growing digital consumer population (Generation Y pay for something?) seems to have lost touch with over the years. You can find their rants on Twitter, Mashable and Readit – because irony has a sense of humor.

Sometimes I wonder what backlash that will create and where are the tangible opportunities in a free market? Maybe Gen X and Boomers want more consistency in their network? What is reliability worth to you? Some really smart marketer is already calculating the switching costs as they map out their next version… or if they’re not, they should be.

I’ve said my piece.  Now you can either continue complaining or take a moment to appreciate Wikipedia or something!?!

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Who are you?

Casual Thought Friday… honey, where’s my anonymity?

It must be with the lost black sock or my car keys… because whether you are job hunting, buying or selling a house, or just snooping on your neighbors—social media sites are a game changer because they can provide clues to who you’re dealing with, and reveal too much information about yourself.

Security notwithstanding, this topic has been covered before. But it became relevant to me when I would regularly Google people by name when I wanted to learn more about them. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the usual suspects when it comes to search results, and the more affluent the personal brand, the more valuable your public information is to your stalker.  Either way, you don’t have to be a celebrity or a major corporation to be mindful of whom you associate with online, or what you say and share with your friends.

Will Karma come into play? As the practice of ‘online identification’ becomes an adopted behavior by the general population and not just marketers, maybe people will use their power for good… and maybe with the introduction of sites like Spokeo, that is just wishful optimism?

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Dude, where’s my Brand?

Casual Thought Friday… have you noticed stores like Kroger, Safeway and Target are replacing known brands with their own?

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes buy the ’store brand’ in an effort to save money.  And of course I ridiculed her for it because it didn’t taste the same.  Now whether that was perception or my baby steps into brand awareness—what mattered was that I wanted the products TV instructed me to like.

But this is the new age of the Mega-Store.  The Super Walmart.  The Marketplace Safeway.  And these stores that manage tons of perishable goods, and exist on supply chain logistics and razor thin margins are all making the smart play at the right time.

The recession hit everyone and pricing is relevant again.  Why not save a little to buy products that have enjoyed some replicable success over the years?  It’s not like Coke isn’t telling anybody who cares about their “magic formula,” or that the laws of physics apply differently when it comes to baking sandwich bread.

So at what lengths are we willing to shop for our favorite toothpaste?  Or welcome an emerging brand if there is no room on the shelves?  In the grand scheme of things, what’s really happening is an opportunity knocking for brand marketers.

Conversational marketing (social media) is a loyalty gold mine… and if history has taught us anything, it’s that a retailer will always make space for a product that sells.

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Still Searching…

Casual Thought Friday… is Google a behavior?

Is the wise man on top of the mountain lonely?  Do you remember how people searched for information 10 years ago?  Are you resisting the urge to enter this in the search bar above?

If you answered YES to all the above, then you are probably over 30 and a bona-fide searchaholic. On the other hand, if you couldn’t possibly do your homework, stay current or find Mr. Taco without Google—then you could easily be 13.  Archetypes may not exist on a results page, but our actions in relation to our environment do.

Search is the root of discovery, but a purchase decision is still a few clicks away. And because marketers are smart people it is not a matter of if, but when will eCommerce merge with search to become irreplaceable?

“I don’t think I could survive without Google.” ~ my Wife

‘Nuff said.

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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A New Industry for Portland, OR

A candidate running for Governor of the state of Oregon asked me what could be done to make the state more small business friendly?  And what could be the catalyst for economic recovery in our great state?  My answer is “grow the dot.com industry, starting right here in Portland…”

The Top 3 reasons Portland needs Public Marketspace :

1. We are a scalable start up. Portland needs a business like ours to flourish because we are planning multiple stages (phases) of growth in mobile and socialized shopping, non-profit and urban projects, and develop a completely virtual experience.  As an Internet retailer (and global online marketspace), our ability to capture 1% of the known eCommerce market makes us a Billion dollar investment opportunity and a healthy Oregon taxpayer.

2. We are a dot.com company (for lack of more sophisticated explanation) in a sea of empty manufacturing buildings.  Portland needs a flagship dot.com company that is workforce relevant and could employ 50+ creative people (educated + employed in an income tax state) and create work for a number of local marketing agencies; the Columbia River is already powering the largest dot.coms not headquartered in OR (why not ours); introduce a new industry in Portland besides China facilitated manufacturing, microchips and lost sustainability companies; and show a small business friendly commitment by complimenting our willingness to give back to our vendor community.

3. We are in a epicenter of the farmers market + handmade products + neighborhood services. With an unemployment rate of closer to 18 – 20% (lost benefits, self employed without benefits), Portlanders have embraced entrepreneurship.  People can start a service business with online marketing tomorrow!  Handmade artisans represent the state’s new manufacturing base.  We can help “inventors | artists | designers | carpenters…” become the next big idea, and subsequently growing Oregon small businesses into recognizable brands!

Our “Think Global + Shop Local” vision is social shopping for small business products anywhere in the world, and sharing the best local services in your neighborhood.  And as CEO and co-founder of Public Marketspace, I welcome your comments and your help sharing this message.

Welcome to your online public market!

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

Hecklers build character

Seeking out hecklers is certainly not a call to action, rather something to consider when setting the low bar of constructive criticism.  The truth is business hecklers come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes from the one you least suspect.

Regardless of the messenger, the secret sauce is discovered when entrepreneurs and sales leaders can look past the sting of a NO or ‘why this – why now?’ and find value in a stalled elevator pitch.

If you’ve ever read any Guy Kawasaki, he has a point about “Make Meaning.”  It’s not how cool you think you are… do people believe in your product, care about your mission and trust in your sincerity?  We can get so caught up in the magic we’re selling to the world that we need the person that ‘just doesn’t get it?’ to keep our mojo on track—and the relevant differentiator that will determine the fate of your business.

In the moment, you may want to strangle the nay-sayer. But the unwavering commitment to make meaning is why you are in business. Figure out your ‘one thing’ and nobody can talk you off the value you deliver!

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Be something to do

Casual Thought Friday… in a social media world, it is not enough just to be something—your web presence should be something to do.

If Facebook and Twitter have taught me anything, its that people are looking for something to do online. People want to shop, share and socialize. And they need a reason to come back every week… or every day.

Amazon is great if you are researching products offline and then buying them online, but who goes to Amazon or eBay just because they are bored? These sites lack in ‘the draw’ what was so cool about shopping malls in the 80s—sometimes browsing, just being seen and interacting with others is the reason for being there.

The next big thing will be an online public market that is a relevant shopping destination and a compelling user experience.

Be on the lookout for PublicMarketspace.com They have some ideas on how to create something to do.


Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Straw, Sticks and Bricks

Over the past few months I’ve learned a few things while starting a global online business.

One insight is that the story of the “Three Little Pigs” rings true when crafting a business plan. And emerging entrepreneurs should consider this when pitching their idea to investors.

A good start up needs a prototype of straw, and a plan built of sticks. Something flexible, but sturdy enough to withstand the first wolves at the door. However, in the launch phase the business better have a brick foundation to generate revenue… or else market irrelevance will blow you down.

Keep dreaming about creating a business, and don’t stop building your vision into something worthwhile. But never underestimate how your business idea needs to stand up to the time tested measure of durability against adversity.

And don’t worry… if you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you already have a four letter word going for you.  NEXT

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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Why you don’t need a Social Media Strategy

Myspace, Facebook and Twitter… oh my!

Is anyone else tired of talking about this Marketing Land of Oz? Social Media is communication phenomenon, but it’s not the yellow brick road to success and clicking three times will not get you home.

Why? Because if you need a social media strategy to be authentic, maybe you have a brand disorder?

The lofty new authors of “Social Media or Die” are not talking to the real people that are on these channels. If they stopped to have this conversation, they would discover a growing discontent for advertising on Facebook. The low entry cost and viral potential makes it attractive to marketers, but consider what your profile would look like if every brand in the world was marketing on social media… a big, noisy NASCAR page.

How marketing showed up and ruined the social media party…

Of course there are case studies and success stories out there, but the percentage of replicable success is low. The bell curve (something we all learned in grade school) remains true, and the early adopters that failed quickly and refined their strategy are winning. Unfortunately, a big wave of newbies is coming. This will over-saturate the medium and leave a mess in the wake.

What if the best social media channel for marketing is yet to come?

I’m not discouraging social media marketing, but a simpler theory is you don’t need a strategy to be on social media—just be real, build a healthy presence, and have a relevant and compelling word of mouth message. Your fans will do the rest.

If you’re out there already, then keep playing.  Trying to catch up on strategy is about as effective as worrying about the next thing. What will you do then?

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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What we could learn from American Idol?

Simon Cowell is a saint.  He is polarizing, opinionated, a great judge of talent, and arguably the most patient man in the world.

Could you sit through thousands of dreadful auditions and months of follow up presentations to pick the diamond in the rough, only to have an electoral board make the final decision?  How about doing that year over year?

The percentage of great companies to work with out there is less than the number you will pitch, and you have to work hard at being “Why you, why now?” relevant to a constantly changing audience.

In business we can be on either side of the audition table given the situation, and understanding that should help you draft a sustainable B2B sales strategy…  skip the dud clients, make it a point to audition for the companies you really want to work with, and be prepared to shine when given the opportunity.

Thank you Simon.  The cold hard truth never lies.

Contact: Nathan J. Wagner

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