Thursday, December 13, 2001

Denver, et al.... I'd be happy making money in any fashion, via any media, anyway, anyhow! Actually I spoke too quickly there. To slightly revise that statement I would say that I have found that there are people in the world who live to make money. They don't care how they do it, and if the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune knock them out of one arena, they just climb up onto another one and make some more money. They are good at making money and that is their primary goal. My primary goal is to think, converse, be creative, make things, write and interact with my fellow travellers without constantly wondering if I am shortly to join the familiar American sub-culture of shopping cart pushers who scratch out their meager existence picking aluminum cans out of public trash barrels.

And I do understand about "getting one's A into G"... I have so many things that want doing... two web sites that I already have the domain names for but haven't found the time to actually create and mount on a server. But sometimes by the time I get home the day has been so long that I find myself adrift in a haze of inactivity, all the while reviewing my "todo" list in my tired brain!

I did check out the blackmarket site you mentioned... nice idea... I'm glad to see that it's working out. Seeing the success of others can leave one feeling either jealous or encouraged. Thankfully I'm of the latter inclination. When I see a good idea being well executed it encourages me to think along more positive lines.

So I guess I'd better overcome the ennui and get those web sites up so you can review them!

Oh, yeah, to reflect on another of your comments about the Net being no more the world than TV... I agree in the sense that it matches the concept that "the map is never the territory". In other words an abstract is always just that, some bits and pieces that in one's mind respresents something real. But I think that possibly the Net is a lot closer to the real world because it is interactive. You can talk back to it and it will respond, often with as much variety and un-expectablity that the real world has. Because anybody of any ilk can respond to what you put out there you can find every kind of response, hopefully more from kindred souls than assholes, but like the real world, there's no asshole filter, so you say what you say and you get what you get.

Go Voice!!!

Making Money On The Web? An esoteric mystery, a genuine five-star bamboozler.

When I get my A into G and start my wee Gonzo rating service, I promise your site as good a review as it warrants. ;-)

Seriously, did you look at ? 250K in the first year, looking at 1 Mill in the second. No marketing other than word of mouth and voluntary signup to their list. (No Chris, they don't spam you with the first invitation. They let your friends do that for them . . . . .)

Would that do it for you Jack?

And recall Chris' own RageBoy example, one of the reasons we're all here is that somehow or another GM: WTWP clued us in to EGR or EGR clued us in to GM: WTWP. And GM:WTWP went way up the Amazon sales lists before it was printed purely on the strength of the perverse relationship RageBoy has with his readership.

Yes, your milage may well vary. I too doubt that there is the same market for stringed instruments as there is for cheap wines (more's the pity!) but I assume that there is sufficient market to keep an honest and competent craftsman in reasonable comfort if not splendour.

I imagine that Chris started EGR with so few readers it looked like no-one would ever listen to him. Right now I cannot for the life of me recall how I got onto his list, but I recall vividly the first one I read, and I am inutterably glad that somehow I did.

Are these the only possibilities? West Wing or What? (Why is West Wing assumed to be such a good thing anyway? I hate it. Am I a micromarket?) Anyway, I wouldn't trust the high priests of the proven business model to be thinking about radical new heresies in producer to market communications. Don't expect them to think outside the box when they're still denying there's anything outside the box at all.

Underwriting is not intended, as I understand it, as some disjoint or isolate altruism. It is a marketing tool, and as such would be financed from a marketing budget. But it is a tool that is markedly different from the traditional broadcast media tools and therefore requires different handling to prevent significant harm to the user. Whether any big corpses* ever use it, or keep using it after experimenting with it, will depend to some degree (as you noted) on the return on their investment.

* What else do you call a body with no mind, no soul, & no heart?

But it seems to me that the issue is not one of efficacy, since Chris has already proven to some degree that "Gonzo Works", but of comprehension and maturity. We all have adolescent fantasies - hell, I'm 35 and I still have them!

But maturing is supposedly about dealing with reality as it is, and part of that for the corporate marketing department in the age of Internet-enabled vocality is the realisation that their target markets never existed anywhere but in their heads. The view they had/have about their markets is an artifact of the tools they use to explore their world, not of the reality of that world as it really is.

The internet, with its emails, blogs, icq's and aim's, flash, shockwave, java and xml, etc etc, is a new toolbox for exploring the world.

It is no more the world than was TV, but while it is not the world, it certainly makes visible new vistas that were previously obscured to those inhabiting the corner offices in BlaBla Land.

They also need to realise that no consumer ever bought anything they didn't want just because of spamming techniques. The spammers convinced themselves of that to justify their existence. So that talking in a human manner to real people you know actually want what you have is not confining your marketing to some "micro" organism that is beneath the consideration of someone with a SuperBowl ad campaign budget.

Did anyone actually at or watching the SuperBowl really go and buy something just because of some slick multimillion dollar ad? Really? I'd concede the choice of make/model could be affected but I'd resist the notion that the ad could create a desire that wasn't already there . . . .

Rave on Tropic of Cancer. Say what you wanna say, do what you wanna do. Don't let the bastards grind you down. Don't let them tell you how to play the game, nor which game to play.

Personally, I refuse to do a job I don't enjoy, but that's because I'm arrogant enough to believe I don't have to. Maybe at some later date I'll get scared of uncertainty and settle for wage-slavery without enjoyment, but not today.

I think that (partly for reasons discussed above) some corpses will never get it. Many of the people I've encountered in high positions in business life have the emotional maturity of a buck rabbit. Hell, I may well be one of them. Fear and Greed are the cages in which they have voluntarily imprisoned themselves so that they can shut out the rest of humanity, or even the recognition of their own.

Your Output Is My Input. I leave you alone for a couple of days and you go ballistic. WeeeeeeLaa! I'll have to shut up more often. Now there's a Gonzo thought . . . .

I have something to say: It is better to burn out, than to fade away.
The Kirgan, from Highlander, plagiarising Neil Young.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

A bit off-topic from the current discussion but interesting and chilling to consider: A Net Gain From Fewer Channels?. This article had some intriguing - and to my way of thinking, paradoxical - thoughts on how television networks might regroup in order to respond to micromarkets. The author thinks further media consolidation (as though there weren't already enough!) might be needed to let networks achieve economies of scale that will allow programming to keep diversifying and yet maintain quality. He thinks that as audiences become increasingly splintered, more consolidation is necessary to fend off the day when no one network will be able to garner "the ratings weight necessary to justify producing attractive, high cost programming...." Surely, putting all the eggs in one or a few baskets can't be the only solution?? I'd be interested in hearing this group's response to the economic question the article suggests - can a "microchannel" produce a "West Wing," and if so where does the $$ come from if not advertisers in search of a mass audience? Is pay tv a la HBO the only future option for quality programming?
Steve.... I couldn't agree with you more. I'm not in this for get-rich-anytime motives, I just want to try to understand how to fit into the changing paradigm and simply survive. Like I said in my last post, I trashcan all those entreaties to sell me spam lists. I don't want to send a single character of data to someone who is not potentially interested in what I have to offer, but at the same time I do not at the present time see a clear path towards the goal of finding those other individuals with whom I can engage in Conversation. I am reading the material... I completely understand, and am thrilled at the prospect, that what this is about is having a Voice, and using that to engage in dialogue with others. I do have contacts and conversations with others in my area of interest. I do belong to an association whose members have web sites with lots of connections to other URLs, etc.

I guess a measure of patience and continued conversations with all of the folks in this Blog is the way to go. I know that the question in my mind cannot be answered simply, or, as the poet said, "rolled up in a ball"... so I will continue to try to get bits and pieces of the puzzle and gradually something will come together.

Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

-- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, TS Eliot


I for one would like to know more about your stringed instruments and would appreciate a link if you have one. - Thanks, Tom.
OK hands up everyone who received the spam mail.How about that for irony?

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Fellow Bloggers and Gonzoids...

Please keep in mind that Gonzo Marketing is not some get-rich-quick Seth Godin infomercial scam. The Web is a micro-market with a niche of one. Gonzo Marketing is about how you use those micro-markets. The mass-market jedi mind tricks don't work on the Web. Not to get too philosophical...but all the Web really does is show us how the world really is....a bunch of small webs of interest and influence. Some marketers look at this as: "Damn, now we can't just fire off a bunch of advertising and hope something hits." (Super Bowl ads and Spam aren't that different) Other marketers look at this as: "Great, now I can just focus on the people who actually care about what I'm selling/buying."

So how do you get started? Start with your own micro-market. If you're trying to sell stringed instruments then there are a bunch of potential micro-markets to begin talking ("Markets Are Conversations") to. Get in there...start listening....start talking. The funny thing about micro-markets: You're already a member of several of them whether you realize it or not. And members can sniff out a phony in no time at all.

Andrew, et. al.

I would really like to think that you are right about Gonzo "making a killing" for small and medium businesses. I have two businesses, independent of software consulting that would fall under the heading "small & smaller", that I am certainly willing and eager to invest time, love and all the creativity I can muster. But I fear that the other edge of the Web sword is in how huge it is and how insignificant one's presence can end up being. Sometimes I feel like it's putting a bit of paper in a wine bottle and casting it into the Pacific Ocean to "market" myself to the Pacific Rim. I love the concept, and I am greatly enjoying the reading of both Chris's book and the Cluetrain Manifesto, but I have yet to understand the physics of it all. By that I mean how does an individual like myself, trying to make stringed instruments, create enough "mass" in the medium of choice (The WEB), to attract other bits of mass to it. I get literally dozens of spam per week trying to sell me large lists of web contacts for marketing purposes. I hit DELETE as quickly as I can. Mass lists are the antipathy of Gonzo marketing. In fact they are the epitome of the old business as usual. Send out 100 thousand letters and if 2% respond you've had a good day. Bullshit! That might work for someone selling some piece of trivial nonsense, but it won't work for someone trying to sell a quality product that has a price tag a few orders of magnitude higher than the usual mass mailing entreaty.

But I'll keep reading everything I can find time for, and keep up the dialogue with the Gonzoids of the world, and maybe one day one of us will find some way to make wine bottles find their way to some place meaningful.

Yes, but Jeneane we know these people. They want something for nothing - and preferably at a discount. At what point does underwriting not magically transform into another corporate sponsorship blag? I don't think the Gonzo bag of tools is at issue here. What I don't believe is that the majority of big businesses measure anything in other than pounds, shillings and pence.

Where Gonzo will make a killing is for the small- and medium-sized businesses who have two important qualities: love (and control) of the product; and the willingness to invest time in that love. The average company slave doesn't have that - at the top or bottom of the hierachy. I don't think big media is dead - yet. It'll merely change direction. They will get more up close and personal, but on their own terms. See the Nike web sites. They are doing it by being "interactive" ie more bells and whistles.

Me? I prefer the cheap and cheerful version we have.

I can show you an excellent example of Gonzo in action. It has micromarket interaction, the tone of voice, engagement - everything. is run by Dan Empfield for the triathlon community. He has commercial interests in triathlon products but still reviews other companies' wares. He also offers advice for free, looks at the endurance industry from the man on the ground's point of view, but still has an excellent political overview.

That could not be done by a corporate. Can't and never will - at least until I contradict myself. Like this: Gatorade Sports Science Institute. But that's academic - they are always nice to each other in daylight and then the knives go in when the lights go out.

Andy A

Monday, December 10, 2001

ooooh. And on an added note, gonzo is catching the attention of mainstream media... a good and scary thing! See Chris' blog of today for more info.
Hello Andrew--interesting post of yours. I'm not sure whether the underwriting issue can be classified as either reasonable or unreasonable, but I do think when it takes hold, positioning and "sense of company" may be as important, or more important, than the realization of profit for participating organizations.

Somewhere a long time ago in this blog, I commented on what the whole underwriting notion can mean to corporate positioning. Rather than searching through the blog, let me see if I remember what I thought. The way I see it, as one or two companies decide to get gonzo and underwrite a site--say an auto-repair discussion--what would the draw be to subsequent underwriters? Well, besides giving something "more" to their customers than bland corporate speak and their own obligatory corporate web site, it would seem that underwriting a discussion like this could give companies an opportunity to gather into micromarkets of their own... to position themselves with organizational like believers. Don't minimize this potential phenomenon.

How great would it be for a smaller company to underwrite a site and be seen along side its well-established household-name counterparts, sharing an inherent interest in supporting the underwritten group? What an opportunity to stake a claim on what your company stands for (and doesn't stand for). Likewise, how quickly a big stodgy company seeking to change what it's about could become "cool" by underwriting the same auto-repair site with nimble net companies.

So to me, the follow-on benefit of driving profit, though I think that benefit will come, won't be the initial benefit of site underwriting. The initial benefit will be a chance to turn the notion of positioning on its head. Instead of saying, "We are unlike our competitors because..." companies will be able to align with like-minded organizations of all types, implying instead (without beating us over the head with boring boilerplates), "We are like our fellow underwriters because..."

This is what I see as the inital benefit, followed by a more grateful customer base who reward companies they believe give a shit.

That's all for now. Punch holes as you will.

Sunday, December 09, 2001

Thanks Jack.

I think what I was trying to say is the general direction of those who know about the web (god bless 'em) is that we can only be warm, cuddly and human to communicate. Pardon me, but fuck that.

If I want to comment on the previous position of a common household pet, I will say "The cat sat on the mat". Neither more nor less. There is a continuum of communication, from bald facts to emotional gushing and one size does not fit all. Now, I am all for dragging corporations further along the gushing axis, but I think there is a limit as to how far they will and ought to come.

I am really unsure about this underwriting idea in Chris' book. Isn't it unreasonable to expect companies that were formed to create profit to indulge in this casting of bread upon waters? It's not that I don't like the idea, but if my aunt had a beard, she'd be my uncle. You can't expect profit maximisers to take on the idea. I am sure everybody would be happier in the gonzo model, but nobody wants to pay for other people's happiness- (Except possibly here in Denmark where the average tax rate is around 46%).

Aren't we confusing work with life? That strikes me as a cultural "work to live or live to work" divide that is present between the US and parts of Europe (and other places). It seems to spring from the insistence of finding joy in work. Hell, if I find joy in my work that's great, but fer chrissakes don't tell me I have to find joy in my work. Pride in a job well done is sufficient, then I'll go home and find joy with my wife and kids.

On re-reading the above I can see the flaws, but what the hell, give me some stick, you know I love it!