Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Is Evangelism only for Not-so-Hot Companies?

Let’s face it. All marketing stems from evangelism. And all evangelism from religion. The King of all Marketing today is undoubtedly Apple with their demo-god Steve Jobs firmly at the helm. One of my recent posts, focused on the fact that Apple currently doesn’t have a team of evangelists as they did during their Mac times. Looks like Apple has slipped into the old school style of evangelism

Here’s what I mean — the 2 schools of evangelism:

1. Old testament/Old School evangelism: This is about the power of miracles that is announced by prophets. Life changing commandments or the iPhone that you better believe in for your own good. Here the non-believers are converted en-masse before even trying the service (I can’t tell you how many of my friends & myself are already raving about the iPhone service and the products is still not released) and we in turn go about spreading the message converting other non-users by sheer enthusiasm.

So it’s God -> prophet -> masses

2. New testament/New School/web 2.0 evangelism: This focuses on the community and considers all as equal members of the viral marketing message that each user takes from one to the other. What’s key here is that users are more rational, interested in trying out the service and they in turn evangelize the benefits of the product/service to people they care about a.k.a the community via the blogosphere and other tools at their disposal.

So it’s user -> user  -> user

I bet pre-iPod Apple would have definitely engaged in an evangelist like Guy Kawasaki to spread the message. So,

Is the blogosphere/community marketing only for startups and Not-so-Hot large companies?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

My personal mantra on blogging | 5 Tips

Personally, I’ve had a revival of sorts, in my interest levels when it comes to blogging. What probably caused it all was my New Year resolution to focus on creating content that’ll help stir conversations within our marketing community. So I decided to enumerate the 5 lessons I’ve learnt to beat the blogging blues. (Inspired by a problogger post)

1. Focus on topics you care about: One of the major decisions I made this New Year was to focus on marketing content that I really CARE ABOUT. Out of that decision arose my content on 5 topics closest to my heart — customer evangelism, community marketing, web 2.0 marketing, corporate blogging, and events.

2. Be current: Google reader has been a godsend in tracking blog posts that interest me or the community. It has also helped me find the most current content that I can blog about and ignore blog posts that are 3 days or older.

3. Ask questions: This has probably been the most enlightening thought. In order to stir conversations, it’s important to stop pontificating, step aside and ask the community their thoughts. I realize the blog post is just a trigger to gather the thoughts of the community and resolve unanswered questions on marketing.

4. Keep it simple & short: When I started I crafted essay posts, but a nudge from good friend, Jeremiah, and I soon realized that short, pithy posts is the best way to craft blog content. The long essays do not help trigger conversations.

5. Ignore rankings: This has been the toughest to ignore, but don’t focus too long on rankings. The only reason I check out rankings is to monitor the pulse of the marketing blogosphere. Your best resources in this area are, of course, our friend Mack‘s Top 25 Marketing Blogs and the recently launched Todd And‘s Power 150 Marketing Blogs. See, I can’t ignore em!

Bottomline: RESPEK as Ali G would say. The fact remains that your content is of some value add for readers to spend their valuable time on. Keeping that in mind definitely helps run this Blogging Marathon.

Do you’ve your own personal mantra for blogging?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

I thought Netflix had just passed out…

Scoble proclaims “Netflix is dead”, by suggesting a P2P system that sells and distributes high-def videos, as signs of impending doom — both for traditional (Blockbuster) and semi-traditional (Netflix) home video models. He also says the quality is indistinguishable from the HD-DVDs out there in the market!

It made me realize why would any of us go into a Blockbuster in the future, or wait two days for a DVD to show up from Netflix.

Well, the wheels of technology definitely turn faster nowadays. However, I’m curious to understand a few more criteria that’ll define early adoption rates:

1. Instant gratification: One of the main reasons, Blockbuster is trying to beat Netflix in its own game, is offering users the opportunity to return DVDs and collect the next DVD rightaway, as opposed to having to wait for delivery. If this new P2P technology allows high-speed downloads, it definitely has a chance for adoption among the early adopters. I wonder how fast the download was?

2. Creatures of Habit: How long did it take for the mainstream consumer to switch completely from video to DVD? How long is it going to take for us to decide between HD-DVD and Blue Ray discs? How long would it take to switch from DVD to the winner of the above battle?

On the flipside, consumers could just leapfrog high-def DVDs to high-def downloads?

3. Internet Traffic Jam: Even assuming, that’s going to be the case? What’s the strain on current internet bandwidth and infrastructure going to be for streaming/downloadable P2P high-def movies?

Despite the fact that P2P seems to be the best technology for video swapping, I’m not going to hold my breadth for high-def downloads ruling the roost anytime soon…

Or should I?

Check out my earlier “Only community can save Netflix” post…

Filed under: Uncategorized

Why Apple needs a blog | the iPhone Mess

Quick update: Apple bullies bloggers, again!?

I’ve forever been a strong advocate of corporate blogs and am happy to see the increased number of corporate blogs. However, one of my biggest questions in recent times has been why Apple and Google, shy away from blogging. Probably, because they don’t find the need for evangelism owing to their enormous buzz? Maybe. However, it is moments of crisis/controversy that highlight the need for a blog.

Anybody on the planet would have stumbled upon Steve Jobs stupendous iPhone presentation last week, which bordered on perfection. However, what’s drawing more recent attention is the controversy surrounding the iPhone trademark, which Cisco claims it owns since 2000. While Apple’s official stance has been via traditional PR:

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling called the Cisco lawsuit “silly,” adding there are several companies using the term iPhone for VOIP products, and Cisco’s trademark is “tenuous at best.” (Source: WSJ, via BoingBoing)

Cisco’s response has been via a blog like press-release/commentary put forth by Mark Chandler, Cisco’s SVP and General Counsel:

I was surprised and disappointed when Apple decided to go ahead and announce their new product with our trademarked name without reaching an agreement. It was essentially the equivalent of “we’re too busy.” Despite being very close to an agreement, we had no substantive communication from Apple after 8pm Monday, including after their launch, when we made clear we expected closure. What were the issues at the table that kept us from an agreement? Was it money? No. Was it a royalty on every Apple phone? No. Was it an exchange for Cisco products or services? No. (Source: Cisco blogs)

The tone is informal, yet wordy. Was it ghost-written? I dunno. But it sure has a blog-like feel and given the fact that it’s technically coming from the general counsel himself, it definitely is a step in the right direction for the corporate blogosphere.

Round 1. Cisco.

As for Apple…

Do you think their response on a blog vs. official PR really matters?

Filed under: Business Blogging

When Evangelism meets Corporate Marketing

That was the first question that I posted on LinkedIn Answers, the new service that I profiled recently. Here’s the entire question:

Q: Should customer evangelism be an integral part of corporate marketing or shall the twain never meet?

Do you think evangelism is as important as Apple made it out to be during Guy Kawasaki’s time as chief evangelist? If so, why doesn’t Apple have an evangelist today? What is corporate America shying away from?

A few interesting answers so far from other LinkedIn users:

Bennett Zucker

Technology evangelism is most appropriate and necessary when a product or platform’s success depends on achieving the greatest scale possible.

Darren Barefoot:

To me, ‘evangelism’ is just a fancy word for ‘community outreach’. I don’t think it’s important that your evangelists have name recognition. They should build that recognition by engaging with your customers offline at conferences, trade shows and site visits, and online in blogs, forums and so forth.

My friend, Damon

Make your employees happy. After all, you have a very large evangelist “organization” if you make your workers happy. Happy employees=happy evangelists.

Thanks for the 12 responses thus far. I’ll be closing the question in 5 days. Feel free to add your thoughts.

What do you believe will be the future of Customer Evangelism?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Is this the power of Social Media?

The power to humanize and add a sense of candor and honesty that hitherto seemed missing in corporate and political videos/ads. Check out the recent interviews of Bill Gates and John Edwards by Robert Scoble at Podtech.

Jeremiah alerted us about Podtech’s new flash based video plug-in (a la YouTube), which I’ve used to bring you those videos (see below). Two of the three videos are rather long, however it’s definitely worth a view. Check it out:

1. Interview w/ Bill Gates at CES 2007 (~ 40 minutes)

Great video. You can see a few of the interviewers starry eyed but it was like watching Bill Gates seated at your dinner table, answering questions that you and I would have on the future of technology.
[podtech content=]

2. Interview w/ John Edwards (~ 9 minutes)

I wasn’t particularly a fan of Edwards but kudos to him on patiently answering questions asked by a citizen marketer such as Scoble. As Jeremiah pointed out, particularly the moment, where Scoble asks Edwards who he is. Priceless. I admire Scoble for asking really honest questions that you’d normally NOT ask a presidential nominee. This is definitely worth viewing since it’s just 9 minutes:

[podtech content=]

3. Interview w/ Om Malik (~ 30 minutes)

This is another long interview, but it was great hearing from Om Malik (whose blog I used to read regularly — as long as he was the sole blogger), what are two of the most important pre-requisites to be a blogger: (1) show up and (2) respect your audiences’ time. Having said that, let me sign off for today.

[podtech content=]

Watch video 2 first, and then schedule 1 and 3 for later, depending on your schedule. How can I also forget Jeremiah’s podcast on how to implement a corporate social media strategy.

Do you think these videos cast Gates and Edwards in new light?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Wanna MeetUp at Upcoming events? | Jan 07 events

If you are, like me, interested in networking and attending groups/meetings of like minded peers, you’d definitely be interested in finding what’s happening in your part of the world. Meetup and Upcoming are two services that I use to keep track of events related to my areas of interest (marketing, web 2.0, social media, politics, etc…)

Feel free to add me to your list of friends on these networks and let me know if there are events you’re attending. My user id at both services is vjmario.

Here are 4 events I plan to attend this month — January 07.

1. January 16: Social Media Club, San Francisco (organized by Chris Heuer of SMC)
2. January 18: Social Media in Marketing & PR (Organized by Mike Manuel of Third Thursday’s fame, whose blog I profiled recently)

3. January 25: SF Beta January | Web 2.0 Mixer (Guest Mc’d by the Scobleizer himself, whose recent interview w/ Bill Gates at CES can be found here. Priceless video)

4. January 31: Back to the future | Beyond Web 2.0 (moderated by my friend, Jeremiah, who’s partying at CES right now)

Do you plan on attending any of these events. If so, we should definitely meetup…

Please let me know if you’d be at any of the above events 

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Are you asking the right questions?

Quick Update: I’ve tried out LI Answers and have extended my question to select members of my professional network. Let’s see how many responses I receive.

Also, here are a couple of areas,  I’d like to see enabled in LI Answers —

1. RSS feeds
2. Ability for the questioner to post his/her responses as part of the discussion thread

Now back to the original post: I just tried out LinkedIn Answers, a new service from LinkedIn where you get to ask the right questions to the right people — your professional network. The service holds potential for answering questions related to your career (jobs, networking, etc…).

Within seconds of my posting a question, I received one answer from an internet professional (quick update: 4 6 12 answers in less than 40 hours) and look forward to seeing whether members of my professional network respond. Check out some of the other Marketing & Sales Questions here.

There are three reasons I think this service could work:

1. Converse better: I believe in the power of conversation, and I use my blog as a way to gather opinions. Unfortunately, only 20% of my professional network blogs, and LI Answers could help me get a fresh perspective from the remaining 80% of my professional network who do not blog.

2. Work better: As a corporate marketer, I’m sure all of you have been in situations where you’ve tried finding the right vendor or the right candidate to get the job done quickly and efficiently. LinkedIn Answers could help with recommendations from your professional network.

3. Network better: It’d be a great way to research, find and collaborate on professional events in your geographic area from like minded peers. You can actually ask questions focused around a specific geographic location.

I believe, collaboration is key to a social or professional networking site (see my thoughts on Netflix). Yahoo!’s got Answers, YouTube’s got Community, Netflix’s got Friends, and the professional networker has now got LinkedIn Answers. In Business, asking the right questions, could be the line between success and failure.

What value do you see in LinkedIn Answers?

Related posts from Damon, Jeremiah, Guy Kawasaki, Pete Cashmore, Lifehacker, Zdnet and Cameron Olthius

Filed under: LinkedIn Features

Wired News copies Marketing Nirvana!

Well — or great minds think alike, either way, I’m thrilled!

Wired News, one of my favorite tech websites, had a post yesterday on the Best Blogfights of 2006 (via Steve Rubel) which seems a close adaptation of two posts I wrote last year:

Top 5 Blogosphere Smackdowns – July 06
Blogosphere Smackdown – Aug 06

The Wired News Top 5 and Marketing Nirvana’s Top 5 had two smackdowns in common:

1. Contenders: Amanda Congdon vs. Andrew Baron
2. Contenders: Jason Calacanis (Netscape) vs. Kevin Rose (Digg)

Here are the remaining 4 smackdowns from Marketing Nirvana that Michael Calore from Wired missed:

3. The LongTail Smackdown
Contenders: Lee Gomes (WSJ) vs. Chris Anderson (Wired)

4. The “Web 2.0″ Smackdown
Contenders: O’Reilly vs. Tom Raftrey

5. The Web Journalism Smackdown
Contenders: Robert Scoble vs. “The Irritant Journalist

6. The Business Week Smackdown
Contenders: Journalists vs. Bloggers

Click on the title links above to view the Techmeme Discussions surrounding the fight/smackdown and click on the individual contenders to see what they had to say.

Steve Rubel calls for a ceasefire to such petty politics and John Koetsier equates the blogosphere w/ high-school, but then c’mon, aren’t we allowed a few guilty pleasures.

My favorite web fight will be a toss-up between the O’Reilly fight and the Scoble fight. Scoble’s quote alone is priceless!

Most importantly:

Which of the above smackdowns did you enjoy the most and why?

Filed under: About Mario Sundar

Do Corporate Evangelists need a blog?

A blog to an evangelist, is like a 2-way megaphone, which can broadcast THE good news to audiences, and also help take back the good/bad news to the upper echelons of your company, hopefully with the sole purpose of improving your product/service.

So, have today’s corporate evangelists “Got blog?” Here’s a sampling:

1. Simon Phipps — Chief Evangelist, Sun Microsystems
Yes (Personal blog and work blog)

2. Betsy Weber — Chief Evangelist, Tech Smith
Yes (Corporate TechSmith blog)

3. Thomas Hawk –Evangelist and CEO, Zooomr
Of course

4. Heather Champ — Flickr
I don’t think so

5. Anil Iyer —  Co-founder of GNoTE and Microsoft Developer Evangelist

6. Kiran Patel — President and Co–Founder of GNoTE, Chief Evangelist at RingCube

7. Will Pate — Formerly Community Ambassador, Flock

8.  Dan Theurer — Co-founder of GNoTE and Yahoo! Evangelist

9. Kent Brewster — Technical Evangelist, Yahoo! Developer Network

10. Sati Hiller — Salesforce (Partner, GNoTe conference)

It’s also interesting that two of the hottest companies on the planet, Google (if you discount Matt Cutts) and Apple, DO NOT HAVE blogger evangelists, particularly Apple, who literally invented tech evangelism.


Do you think, every corporate evangelist should have a blog?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

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