Archive for January, 2008

Jan 28

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Stage Two

Now hiring: marketing associate and intern

Things are hipping and hopping (you know, like the kids say) here at Stage Two, and we need to bolster up the team with some fresh meat talent.  We are looking for one “associate” (read: fairly junior person with a bit of marketing experience and/or a great degree) and one “intern” (read: really junior person willing to do just about anything to learn the wise ways of influencer marketing).

This is a fun industry, and this is a chance to get involved with a lot of very exciting projects and learn a LOT in the process! We’re a young and energetic group of professionals who know how to maintain a proper work/life balance – whether it’s ending the day early to catch a Giants game, or drinking beers and watching movies on our rooftop patio (which we have never, ever done, but still dream about doing one day).

Qualifications (for both)

  • Able to work within dynamic start-up environment
  • Fast learner and self-starting with impeccable organizational skills
  • Extremely strong communications skills, especially written
  • Good understanding of consumer technology (video, mobile, etc) with a genuine interest in new trends in tech, media, and culture
  • Good understanding of new media, including bloggers and social networks (e.g. you use Facebook because MySpace is soooo 2006)
  • Confident and articulate, yet brilliantly creative
  • Brownie points to gamers, bloggers, torrentfreaks, pop culture geeks (extra bonus points if you can source the quote: “her?”)

Responsibilities (intern):

  • Work hard, play ball, listen, and learn
  • Be professional, all the time
  • The rest will be determined and crafted around the individual

Responsibilities (marketing associate):

  • See above, and…
  • Coordinating media lists and event logistics
  • Monitoring client and industry press coverage
  • Conceive, develop, and implement influencer marketing strategies for clients
  • Build relationships with key bloggers, industry influencers, press/media, analysts, and potential marketing partners
  • Participating in at least two foosball matches per week (80% of the job)

Our office is in North Beach, close to several MUNI stops, great restaurants/bars, and fine entertainment establishments. Compensation is determined on your level of experience and/or moxie.

If you’re interested, e-mail us:

  1. a resume
  2. a short bio
  3. your salary requirements
  4. why you think this is a good fit for you
  5. your favorite blog? Be honest – we don’t mind that you check out Perez or TMZ.com, but we hope it’s not all you read!

Any emails without all 5 of the above will be ignored, and probably marked as spam.  Feel free to let us know if you have any questions. Otherwise, we look forward to hearing from you.

Jan 15

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Marketing

The Magic Behind Apple's Marketing

I often read about how phenomenal Apple’s marketing team is (writing this during Steve Jobs’ keynote).  First, I will agree, they are a great team.  But second, and not to take *anything* away from them, it’s fair to say they could pretty much spend 7 hours a day playing Desktop Tower Defense and still get nearly the same results.  Apple’s marketing success comes down to 2 main factors: products and mystique.

Products.  You can’t market bad products indefinitely.  Bad products don’t sell themselves, and fail miserably when it comes to word of mouth.  I’ve often blogged about my misery with my Sony Vaio laptop, but it’s a perfect example of this – it’s a bad product, and no amount of cool ads will make that go away.  Apple tends to make excellent products with the occasional flub along the way.

In my opinion, Apple’s laptops are the best on the market, both at OS X and Windows.  Why?  Their engineering team was driven to make the best on the market.  Good drivers, good components, etc.  Setting the quality bar so high might be costly from an R&D and product management budgetary and resource perspective, but as a result they get products that almost sell themselves.  Sure people have the occasional bad experience, but you don’t hear nearly as much about them.  Ask around about Vaios and see what people say (it’ll sound something like “great design for a PC, just terrible performance”).  Great products result in great buzz (and you don’t even have to stoop for it), and great buzz goes a long long way.

Mystique. Yesterday the blogosphere was abuzz with a rumored (though likely fake) Steve Jobs keynote transcript.  Name any other company whose keynote, at any other event, generated so much interest.  Having trouble?  Nobody cares more about mystique than Apple, and realistically, nobody can pull it off the way Apple can.  In fact the only other consumer tech company I can think of who could play this game today is EA.  The thing they have in common is a devotion to good products (though in gaming it’s much harder to have the same caliber game after game).

Even before I moved to my MacBook this past year I still liked reading the Jobs keynote transcripts.  The mystique is fun, and so little of high tech is really fun anymore (yes, we’re all having a grande old time, but let’s face it, there’s very little “fun” out there).  Apple’s gotten so good at building up excitement around their products that even a small server line upgrade got massive attention last week (which I chided them for at the time, which I in turn got chided for – the truth is I have no idea what their intentions were and they probably didn’t really want to mess with CES, but I was there and I was tired and I’m a reactionary guy.  sorry.).

There is a third factor in play here as well: everybody else makes it so damn easy for them to look amazing.  Sure Dell is trying to get better, and Vaios are pretty sexy-looking, but for the most part, there’s no consumer electronics company nor PC company that pushes the envelope like Apple does.  The commitment to excellence is what helps them stand apart, and if others were to truly step up, maybe we’d see a change.  But until they do, Apple will continue to enjoy the “perfect storm” they’ve managed to create.

Jan 05

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Clients, Marketing

Explaining why Bug Labs issued a press release today

Today, for the first time, Bug Labs issued a press release.  Simultaneously, a blog post went up, with virtually identical content. I’ve blogged in the past with my thoughts on the slow demise of the press release as a communications method, but I thought I’d go into more detail for this specific event.   First the WHY, then the WHAT/HOW.

Why?  Well, we really wanted to get the word out pre-CES that the company has news.  Not only is there a CES booth, but we’ve also got a table at the ShowStoppers event (still my favorite “tie-in” event with the big shows).  To-date, we’ve used the blog and emails as our only forms of communication.  I like blogs and emails because they are inherently two-way communications vehicles, as opposed to press releases, which are outbound only.  In fact, prior to this release Bug Labs had received 196 “major” pieces of coverage, not including TV and print publications.

However, our rolodex only goes so far, and word of mouth only gets you so many contacts.  Sooner or later, you want to be able to cross the marketing chasm of reaching out beyond your circle of influence.  We decided for the thousands of people coming to CES plus several hundred at ShowStoppers, it was important to use a communication method that would hit a wider audience.  Thus, the press release.

However, we didn’t do it in a vacuum.  In fact, I wrote the blog post first, then turned it into the press release.  We also didn’t use a very traditional format, instead kept it like a conversation.  If you open both the blog post and release, you can see just how similar they are. Again, in our attempt to have “open marketing” we chose to keep the same information we’d release via our blog as we would in the “official press release”.

Will this help?  Not sure.  Our news was picked up by Engadget, Gizmodo, Geek.com, and others, but they were all individually briefed anyway.  I will come back and report on the results once the show is behind us.  While I still don’t feel the press release is “dead”, I am certainly not convinced it’ll make a “huge” difference.  Then again, all it takes is one great piece of coverage!

Jan 02

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Events

Marketing advice for CES booth staffs

In the past 9 years I’ve had the privilege to attend CES from so many different vantage points, including working in “traditional” CE booths as well as organizing the booth for tiny startups.  I’ve also attended as a consultant and as press.There’s a lot of tips out there for attending CES (my CES tips at LIVEdigitally, Forbes, SAI’s, etc), but I haven’t come across any good advice for the folks in charge of staffing the booths.  Here are my suggestions:

  • Know your audience.   Look for name tags before you get into an in-depth discussion (if someone’s got theirs flipped around, just politely ask them who they are, it might feel awkward, but it’s important).  I watched a junior booth staffer spend 20 minutes with a fairly recognizable, high profile individual, without knowing who he was.  This is a colossal mistake, as it’s vitally important to get the right people talking to the right visitors.  Which brings me to…
  • Funnel your traffic.  You should have a game plan for “who talks to who”.  If it’s a member of the press, someone from marketing should get them.  If it’s a senior exec from a big tech firm, someone from your BD/exec management team.  Different audiences get different discussions, and it’s as much a favor to them as it is to you to get them talking to the right folks.
  • Wear comfy shoes and carry Purel.  Borrowing from my end-user post, booth duty is gruesome.  You’re standing most of the day, and odds aren’t bad your booth organizer cheaped out on the carpet so you are about 2mm off the concrete floor.  Additionally, you are going to shake several hundred hands per day. Yuck. Purel, and definitely be sure to wash prior to eating!
  • Have bottled water handy.  I’ve lost my voice almost every year I did booth duty. Nuff said.
  • Emphasize the team spirit. I don’t care what your title is, if someone who is on a 4 hour shift needs a soda or a hot dog or a piece of chewing gum, help them out. When I was at Sling Media, the first year we did a booth I distinctly remember one moment where the VP of Engineering did a coffee run for everyone.  That’s the right spirit.
  • Don’t mistreat competition. With the power of blogs and live video streaming today, it’s silly to assume your entire demo WON’T end up online somewhere.  And if that occurs, your competition WILL see it.  So if they walk up to you, camera in hand, just do your normal demo and spiel. You certainly don’t have to give up company secrets, but you really should treat them like any other demo.  Personally, I take it a step further and make the effort to actually meet the person in question, commiserate on the show, etc.
  • Ignore nobody. When doing demos I make a huge effort to make sure everyone around me is getting my attention.  Even if the demo you are doing is to some uber-important industry exec, that doesn’t mean you completely ignore the rest.  You can certainly say “hey everyone, I have a schedule demo to do right now, but I’ll be done in 15 minutes if you want to come back then” or something similar.  Also, even if the person looks like a kook (which they probably are), you still have a job to do.  Complain/joke about them later.
  • Adapt your script. This year I’ll be doing demos with Bug Labs, and if I get a layman versus a Java programmer, I need to have two different stories to tell.  But not only that, my Wed/Thurs storytelling will differ from Mon/Tues, as I’ll be paying attention to what works and what doesn’t.  I recommend having group meetings at the end of either the first or second day to make changes to your scripts and pitches as necessary.
  • Engage in discussions. Unless you are demoing iPhone 2.0, odds are pretty good you won’t have a line of a hundred people waiting to talk with you.  So take some time with the people around you, ask what they think.  More importantly: pay attention!  If three people in a row say the same thing or ask the same question, that should be something you note for your script.  If ten people in a row don’t understand your product, you have a bad pitch, and should fix it on the spot!
  • Give useful schwag. The best schwag is stuff people keep and reuse.  The worst schwag is gimmicky stuff that gets played with once then goes to the landfill (mini-frisbees, light-up bouncy balls, etc).  My personal favorite is a deck of playing cards, but I also like pens, notepads, and mints.  Creative stuff is good, but again, if its future landfill supply, then consider skipping on it.
  • Take and give business cards. This ritual will hopefully die off in the next few years, but in the meantime, play ball.  I recommend (but cannot say I perfectly practice what I preach here) followup with 100% of the cards you received, even if its nothing but being polite.
  • Be on time. If your entire role with the show was being flown in, 6 hours a day of demos, then going back to the office, then you have no clue as to how much work went into organizing it by your colleagues.  Show up when and where you are supposed to, and be on time.  Vegas is about as big a distraction as one can imagine, but that’s a terrible excuse for disrespecting other people’s hard work.

Have a great show everyone!