Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

My Tattoo

First of all, I don’t have a tattoo. However, if and when I do get inked, this is what I envision.

On my left arm, I want to get an old woodcut of a phoenix rising from the flames. In fact, the specific image I want is this one:

To me, the phoenix means, among other things, “What goes around, comes around.” I think of that in terms of “karma” (at least the pop understanding of such) but also in terms of the fact  that we tend (at least in our minds) to create the environment that we interact with. It’s a reminder that we’re part of what we’re reacting to, that we’re putting energy into situations, driving them, inventing them, influencing them, and that we need to understand and accept this non-duality if we are to live in alignment with reality (assuming that matters to us).

The phoenix also says, along with Heraclitus, “All is flux.” Everything is tipping over into chaos and emerging out of it. This idea is reinforced by the second tattoo I want, on the back of my neck, of a serpent (or dragon) eating it’s own tail like this one: Read the rest of this entry »

MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum 2010

b2b_save200_180x150_bloggerTwo years ago I attended the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston and, frankly, it changed my life.

Aside from finally getting to meet the fabulous Ann Handley in person, I found myself connected to a community of smart, interesting, and engaged marketers that constitute the core of my professional network to this very day.

Well, guess what? MarketingProfs is hosting another B2B Forum May 3-5 at Boston’s Seaport Hotel. The emphasis on practical, actionable learning is one of the things that I’ve always valued about MarketingProfs events and, once again, they’ve assembled an impressive roster of speakers who will bring a ton of real-world experience and, more importantly, useful advice to the sessions they lead. I’ve met a number of these folks – Amy Black, Rachel Happe, Christina Kerley, David Thomas, Laura Ramos – and must say that they are smart, thoughtful marketers that, frankly, you can’t afford not to meet.

But wait, there’s more! MarketingProfs also does a great job lining up keynote speakers and this year is no exception. First, there’s David Weinberger, co-author of the runaway business hit, The Cluetrain Manifesto, who will be talking about what marketers are still missing about the digital economy. Secondly, attendees will also get a chance to hear Mitch Joel, who I saw at PodCamp several years ago and who remains one of the most humorous and thought-provoking speakers I’ve seen.

And if that’s not enough, I will be there in the role of Blog Therapist. Seriously.

It’s not to late to register and if you use the codeword “BLOG” then you’ll get yourself a $200 discount.

See ya there!

Metal Age

Looking for Slayer videos on YouTube I came across this: “Reek of Putrefaction,” by Carcass.

Apparently the video was shot on the “Grindcrusher” Tour in 1989. The tour got it’s name from an amazing compilation which I bought on cassette back in 1990 at a store that no longer exists.

In addition to the studied metal stylings of Carcass, said cassette introduced me to some of my favorite metal bands – Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, and Entombed.

The cassette also introduced me to Earache Records, the grey lady of grindcore labels. In fact, it was while rummaging through a bin of cheap Earache cassettes at the first big Metal/Hardcore festival in Worcester that I came across Sleep‘s enduring classic, Holy Mountain, originally issued on Earache.

I paid like $3 for that thing and then listened to it about a ten thousand times.

A Quick One on “Content Strategy for Marketers”

Doing some research on content marketing and how companies source or buy content and came across this concise (don’t let the slide count fool you), thorough overview of the steps involved in the creation and management of a solid content strategy:

It was produced by Melissa Rach at Brain Traffic. I like it because it introduces the skimmer to the doable nitty-gritty stuff demanded by the content strategy process while giving the aforementioned skimmer a healthy sense of its (almost) overwhelming complexity.

Good work, comrade!

The Long and Short of the Digital Marketing Mixer

tallshortNote: I’m cross-posting this on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog, but they have an elaborate and painful approval process so I wanted to get it up here in the interest of time. – Matt.

It’s a week ago today that I departed Boston for Chicago in order to attend, and blog upon, Marketingprofs’ Digital Mixer.

While I live-blogged a number of sessions – on creating effective webinar programs; on developing corporate social media policies; on using Facebook for brand recognition; on deepening customer relationships with Twitter; on SEO plus Social Media; and on the exceedingly clear thoughts of Dr. BJ Fogg – I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the grander themes or gaudier threads that I noticed running through the event.

1. It’s the humans, stupid

Again and again I heard people talking about “personalizing” or “humanizing” social media efforts, which makes sense to me since I’ve always viewed blogs and such as “personal genres.” This humanization needs to take place both at the organizational level, by creating social media policies which encourage participation on the part of employees and other stakeholders, as well as on the tactical level. There needs to be a living person behind your blog or Twitter stream or what-have-you who will take the time to listen and respond to folks looking to interact with your brand or organization.

2. Personal Brand vs. Professional Brand

Of course, if you are asking people to put themselves into social media efforts, there is always the possibility that they will develop relationships with customers or recognition within a community that begins to outshine the connection to the brand. While many people raised questions concerning the proper mix of personal and professional in brand-related social media activities, the bigger fear seemed to be about retention. Specifically, they asked, “What happens when someone becomes so associated with the brand via social media that their departure leaves a gaping hole in your company’s online presence?”

3. Social Media is Growing Up

There was a palpable dearth of 101-type sessions on social media and its application to business. Instead, we were treated to a lot of pithy studies describing what real companies – Best Buy, Intel, Hansen’s Natural Soda, Pitney Bowes, SAS, etc. – have really done with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare, blogs, podcasts, etc. Yes, Dell, Comcast, and Zappos all got mentioned, but it was clear that emerging social media technologies have not only entered the cultural mainstream but have become a permanent and rapidly maturing part of the commercial landscape.

4. SEO = Great Content + Grunt Work.

I got into a rather lively conversation by asserting in a loud, boorish tone that “SEO is a scam,” a conversation in which I was duly schooled but which also clarified my understanding of how optimization happens. In fairness to me, there were plenty of folks who were warning attendees against “SEO snake oil,” but they contrasted such efforts with the legit, white-hat things that people can, should, and must do to optimize their content for, as Liana E. Evans sagely pointed out, “Optimized content is king.”

That being said, I discovered that there are certain link-building activities – directory submissions, Digg-ing, even blogging – that approach data entry in terms of complexity (ie., “not very) and labor intensivity (i.e, “very”). Hiring an intern or “some guys in India” to do this for you isn’t scammy, at the end of the day, but it’s not brain surgery either and reminded me that search engine rank not only reflects quality of content but also quantity of effort.

5. States Rights

Finally. while discussing the assassination of President Lincoln with Apogee’s Bill Leake, I considered for the first time the effect that the 17th Amendment had on states’ rights. This amendment “… restates the first paragraph of Article I, section 3 of the Constitution and provides for the election of senators by replacing the phrase ‘chosen by the Legislature thereof’ with ‘elected by the people thereof.'” (read more). The result of this shift, which made senators beholden to their constituents rather than state governments, was the further consolidation of federal power at the expense of the states insofar as senators no longer needed to concern themselves with pleasing their respective state legislatures and could focus on perpetuating their own careers through the maintenance of voting blocks representing diverse local and private interests.

I never really thought about that before. But then again, I’m a damn Yankee.

Image Courtesy of MarketingProfs Live.

The Great Divider

2507578321_730f501ed0_mRemember when I said that science was Satanic not because it advocates evil but because it sees moral distinctions as epiphenomenal and, in the end, insists that all reality consists of a meandering, entropic unfurling of energy through myriad states of transient, quantum differentiation until an ultimate universal state of uniform heat death is achieved?

Well, it turns out that I was right. You see, the Hebrew word “bara,” which has traditionally been translated as “created” in the the first sentence of the book of Genesis – “in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth” – also means “to separate” and, according to Professor Ellen van Wolde, a “respected Old Testament scholar and author,” that first sentence should reflect that God “separated” rather than “created” the Heaven and the Earth.

Anthropologically speaking (at least from the structuralist perspective), the function of religious belief and practice is to make distinctions between the sacred and the profane, human and animal, good and evil, etc. Thus, it is only fitting that the deity’s original creative act consists in drawing a line.

God may have created the Heaven and the Earth but only in the sense that you create two things by dividing one thing. Of course, such a division implies that you have “one thing” to begin with and, indeed, van Wolde’s re-translation of Genesis suggests that there was something there, both temporally and spatially, before God. This single, undifferentiated thing, the opposite of God, is essentially nothing, since anything that is not separated into things is quite literally “no thing.”

God is the Great Divider and the real Devil, the “other” of God, is not another being but this pre-separated stuff: the “no thing.” The irony is that God, too, is not a thing, and it is this “no thing-ness” of God which makes monotheism practically indistinguishable from atheism.

But if all this is too high-falutin’ for y’all, here’s the marketing lesson that I draw from these meta-theological divigations: Differences (between products or services or whatever) don’t exist, they are made.

Dwell upon it.

Image Courtesy of KM&G-Morris.

With Google Sidewiki, Who needs AdWords?

At the Community Roundtable lunch with the King and Queen Arthurs thereof, Jim Storer and Rachel Happe, and we were talking about Google Sidewiki and Jim asks, “I wonder if you can add Sidewiki comments to a search results page?”

Well, Jim, it looks like you can!

So, here’s the rub. Why would anyone buy AdWords henceforth (or, rather, once Sidewiki is more widely adopted)?

Or is this all part of Google’s fiendish plan?

The Trouble with Transparency

3473678750_12a861214f_mBe yourself; it’s the perfect disguise. – M.L. Grim

I got reprimanded on Twitter the other day for equating transparency with invisibility.

For the record, I understand that “transparent” means “you can see through it,” not ” you can’t see it at all,” but that wasn’t exactly my point (though, as any bird who’s ever flown into a plate glass window will tell you, transparent objects can sometimes be devilishly hard to see at all).

Instead, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that calls for transparency in government and business, by relying on the common association of transparency with open, guileless communication, actually overlook the possibility that transparency can and often does serve as it’s opposite.

Take for example Jeremiah Owyang’s  twitteration from back in April, “Do you think corporate America will ever be as transparent as the Obama administration?” I responded that I understood transparency to be a plank in Obama’s platform and an important element of his branding, intended to differentiate his administration from the blatant secrecy of Cheney’s, but I expect and encourage him to mobilize  opacity whenever political or strategic necessity demands it.

Governments and corporations are not in the business of sharing their inner workings, plans, or intentions. Rather, they are all pursuing particular interests in a competitive environment where an unconditional openness would be foolhardy at best and suicidal at worst.

At the same time, game theory tells us that a measured openness, one that builds trust and facilitates alliances, can indeed be advantageous – so long as this openness is not seen as a “move,” in other words, an act which has as its conscious but obscured purpose self-interested gain, which it of course is.

Naturally, if the field is dominated by calls for transparency and everyone is rushing to “out-transparent” each other, an unapologetic secrecy becomes a legitimate, differentiating option, as we see in the case of Apple (though said secrecy is not without it’s own troubling consequences). Indeed, by clearly highlighting the extreme levels of secrecy maintained by your organization, governmental or corporate, you ultimately fulfill the new transparency imperative by being open about your closedness.

For my part, I do not place an absolute value on transparency and am immediately suspicious of anyone who wears their transparency on their sleeve. I can’t help but think, “They’re sharing so much with me. What are they hiding?

Image Courtesy of Arenamontanus.

Does Your Company Need a Blog, a Facebook Page, a YouTube Channel, and a Twitter Feed?

Actually, the answer to that question is fairly simple: I don’t know.

I realize that answer might not be very helpful, but at least it’s honest.

Fact is, you can only figure out if you need those things, and what you’ll do with them once you got ’em, after you’ve decided what it is you want to do.

In other words, I would prefer to answer that question with this question: What do you want to do or get other people to do?

MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Boston 2009 – Assorted Afterthoughts

3609889588_dd2d4ff833_mI spent Monday and Tuesday at MarketingProfs B2B Forum where I moderated a panel on “creating robust content to engage customers and prospects.” The panelists – Phil Juliano of Novell, Valeria Maltoni (the Conversation Agent), Chris Penn of the Student Loan Network, and Mike O’Toole of PJA – were all smart, funny, articulate and great to work with. It was a privilege to be associated with these folks.

While I hope that our panel discussion, which Valeria recapped on her blog and which Mike and I previewed on MarketingProfs DailyFix, provided attendees with a useful framework and practical advice for advancing their content-based marketing initiatives, I know for a fact that I learned a lot from the sessions I visited and the numerous people I met at this conference. To whit:

  • More and more B2B marketers are feeling the need to leverage social media but are not sure where to start.
  • Even when they are producing interesting content, organizations are not taking advantage of the many available distribution channels nor are they thoughtfully or aggressively re-purposing this content.
  • Even though marketing department budgets and staff have been cut drastically, companies still need to market their products and services, which seems to offer a lot of opportunities for independent consultants and agencies.
  • Companies don’t realize the importance of integrating their SEO efforts with the full range of marketing, advertising, and, most importantly, IT initiatives.
  • As a corollary, the lines of communication and collaboration between IT and Marketing seem to be broken, which is a problem because the state of marketing today calls for increasing and ongoing integration with IT.
  • Finally, the individuals on your sales force are your most important channel in the B2B space, so your marketing efforts need to be geared at educating, enabling, and empowering them.

I have more to say on each of these topics but am actually more curious to hear what you have to say about them. This stuff sound right? Wrong? Whatever?

Image Courtesy of Bob Collins. Thanks, Bob!