marketing Posts

My Daughter’s Take on Marketing

Coders code and salespeople sell. HR people recruit and IT pros keep the servers and networks performing optimally.

But what about marketing? What do marketers do? Ask five people about the role of marketing and you’ll get five different, sometimes widely-divergent answers.

My daughter asked me the other day about marketing.

“Dad, what do you do?” she said with a giggle.

“I am a marketer,” I responded with the confidence of Roman soldier on the offensive.

“What is marketing? Why would you want to do that? Do you go to the supermarket?” she asked while fidgeting with her latest Rainbow Loom creation.

“Well, I do go to the supermarket on occasion, but that is not marketing,” I said while sitting down next to my daughter for one of many interesting, impromptu discussions that life unveils.

My daughter finally knows what I do because of Rainbow Loom.

My daughter finally knows what I do because of Rainbow Loom.

“Marketing helps companies sell their products or services to the people most likely to buy them. Let’s take your Rainbow Loom, for example.”

“Years ago, some eager, creative person saw an opportunity to develop a product for young girls and boys. That person researched existing entertainment options and determined that children might not like to just play video games all day, but might have an interest in creating something with their hands,” I said while quickly realizing that this might be a lengthy conversation.

“But I like video games! You play video games with your hands,” my daughter roared like a Bengal Tiger. “I am bored. Are you done yet? Let’s talk about this later.”

“Hold on, I am almost finished. I know you like video games, but this person saw an opportunity to build a product that was different than video games. Video games are great, but parents sometimes like their children to engage in something a little more tactile, creative, engaging.”

“While this product was being built, the real ‘marketing’ began. The product needed to be made available in stores and online. Which stores should carry the product? Which Websites attracted visitors most likely to buy Rainbow Loom? This is marketing.”

“Why not just make it available everywhere? Every little girl and boy wants a Rainbow Loom!!” my daughter said gleefully.

“Good point, but there are some places – both stores and Websites – that are probably more likely to cater to the most likely buyers of Rainbow Loom. Most of the time, the kids aren’t buying the Rainbow Loom kits; it’s the parents doing the purchasing.”

“Additionally, the product needs to be priced appropriately to make it affordable for families everywhere. This is also marketing.”

“I am beginning to understand what you do,” said my daughter. “But when do you sleep? You must be busy all the time.”

“If you plan things right, there is some time for sleep.” I responded. “Don’t forget that the product and its message needs to be clearly articulated to retailers, stores, schools, organizations – anyone planning to sell Rainbow Loom. This is marketing,” I concluded, taking a deep breath.

“Dad, you are so cool. You did all that for Rainbow Loom. Wait until I tell my friends at school. My Dad created Rainbow Loom!!” my daughter replied with zeal.

“Wouldn’t that be something? I am just using Rainbow Loom as an example. I had nothing to do with the creation of that fantastic product idea,” I said, hoping my daughter was connecting the dots.

“I have, however, done all of the work I mentioned for other products. In addition to what I’ve already shared, there’s a large amount of work involved in talking to customers who’ve bought Rainbow Loom and those who chose not to buy the product.”

“That is crazy, Dad. Why would someone NOT want to buy Rainbow Loom? It’s awesome! It’s the best! Look at all the animals I created. I even created Taylor Swift!!” shrieked my daughter with the conviction of a politician trying to win votes.

“Well, there could be many reasons why someone would not want to buy a Rainbow Loom. You can’t, though, guess at those reasons. This is why those conversations are important. Was it priced too high? Was the Mom or Dad thinking it would be difficult for their child? Maybe the packaging is confusing? This is marketing, my dearest daughter.”

“Honey, without marketing, you wouldn’t be sitting here today, jazzed about Rainbow Loom!” I remarked, smiling from ear to ear. “Think of all the boys and girls that would miss out on the joy of Rainbow Loom.”

“Thanks Dad. Now go do some marketing. I’ve things to do; I want to build a pink and orange giraffe for my best friend at school,” said my daughter.

With no marketing, the coders would question if what they are coding is what the market wants. HR wouldn’t have a compelling story to help sell the company to potential new hires. Sales wouldn’t know how to compare a company’s product to the competition.

Through the magic and engagement of Rainbow Loom, my daughter now has a better sense of marketing, and I have a compelling drive to start conceptualizing the next Rainbow Loom creation. Wish me luck.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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When searching @Yahoo, the search box is always half-empty.

Seeing results from a game in 2010 isn't helpful. It's embarrassing.

Seeing results from a game in 2010 isn’t helpful. It’s embarrassing.

When I search, I expect immediate, accurate results. The search engine’s algorithm is so finely tuned that it almost knows me better than I do.

While in the midst of last month’s World Cup euphoria, I tested the simple query of:

“What time does the US Soccer game start?”

on both Google and Yahoo.

I knew the contest wouldn’t be fair, as Google’s leapfrogged (maybe even steamrolled) Yahoo in relevance, reach, popularity, and accuracy years ago, but I wanted to see how wide the gap had become.

Game. Set. Match.

Within seconds, I had the answer I needed. Simple. Fast. Easy.

Within seconds, I had the answer I needed. Simple. Fast. Easy.

Yahoo’s results set included US Soccer’s television schedule from the 2010 World Cup. Hmm…Yahoo’s woeful position is on full display here.

The reasons are many for Google’s near-monopoly status: a brilliant ad model, Android OS, Gmail, Google Images, and more. But this simple search test further clarified in my mind that I should steer clear of Yahoo when searching the Web. Google’s always got the better answer.

Until next time.

Dan Naden

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BREAKING: Two Conference Handouts that won’t end up in the Trash Can.

If you’ve been to a trade show lately, you’ve seen the ‘material’ that fills most booths. The white papers and collateral hope to gain attention, while giveaways, such as Frisbees and hacky sacks, aim to attract even the most skeptical conference goer.

But what’s a vendor to do when he’s up against hundreds of vendors and attendees who’ve seen everything before?

Create something different.


Create something that will get people talking.

Our company @VersionOne hosted an agile learning event recently called #AgilePalooza; it featured some of the sharpest agile minds in the business. Two of our partners spoke at the show and set out a free ‘giveaway’ or informational handout at the registration table that stirred conversation.

David Hussman (@davidhussman) of DevJam brought CardBoard to the marketplace recently as a strong, yet simple entrant into the world of sometimes overly complex agile and productivity tools. And is there a better way to get attention to the CardBoard product than handing out pieces of cardboard saying, “If Google Docs and Post It Notes had a kid, it would look like CardBoard.” Who wouldn’t want to see that product?

Dave Sharrock (@davesharrock) from Agile42 was also in the spotlight at this particular event with some keen promotion. His Agile booklet, complete with ring for easy transport, was full of metrics, stories and arguments to sway even the most jaded software development executive. Seeing this in the bottom of your conference bag causes you to take a 2nd look, not throw it in the trash like most conference giveaways, handouts, collateral.

I am a firm proponent of the power of live events. You must, however, think and execute at a high level to get noticed. Don’t settle for predictable, lifeless collateral and giveaways. Keep eyes open and minds alert to see what the best are doing to stand out from the competition. You just might be able to develop something similar to CardBoard or Agile42.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Dear Santa: Please read my Internet Marketing Christmas List

Drum roll please.

Here’s my 2013 Internet Marketing Christmas wish list.

My Internet life would sail stress-free in 2014 if these wishes came true.


He’s a busy guy right now, but I have a few last-minute requests.

Less spam mail. Please deliver me more relevant, timely, targeted mail. I don’t mind opening and reading your e-mails if they mean something to me. Yes, I could unsubscribe, but I am amazed at some business, especially retailers, that keep sending me similar messages when I haven’t clicked on a link in months. Can you say round peg in a square hole? It’s it funny how I know look to my postal mail box for sometimes the most relevant, personal, long-lasting messages.

No window shade advertising: It’s been years since I’ve clicked or even acknowledged a pop-up advertisement; it’s now become a race to see how quickly I can find the CLOSE button. I know advertisers are pressed and stressed to deliver eyeballs, clicks, conversions in an ultra-competitive market, yet there must be a better way to build brand equity than force me to go X hunting.

No video auto-start: Call me old fashioned, but I visited a Web page to read an article not watch a video recap. Publishers: clearly label links that include video, and don’t auto-start videos. I know you want to get an advertiser some coveted eyeball, but my eyeballs close when the video ad starts. And with many Web surfers also mixing media by listening to television or Web radio, you’ve just created more friction.

A better way to manage Twitter: I love Twitter because of its constraints. You have 140 characters to persuade, excite, motivate, inform – no ifs, ands, or buts. My follower list, however, has become too large; I can’t see the forest amongst the trees. And the same people, some of whom are saying too much, too often, are clogging up my information stream.

And I close with an ode to my Christmas favorite: “Twas the Night Before Christmas”: (with a technology spin)

On Bezos, On Zuckerberg, On Cook, On Page
To the top of my browser! To the top of my smartphone!
Get smarter. Get leaner. Get more customer-centric.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Part 2: M is for Marketing on the Internet in the mid-90s


In our first installment back into the time machine with Internet Marketing in the 90s, we cruised through letters A-M. Why stop the fun there? Here’s the rest of the alphabet.

Got a memory that you’d like to share? Make a comment.


The Web wouldn’t be what it is today without the work of some intrepid 90s trailblazers.

N is for Netscape – the first graphical browser. Life was much easier when you had to design for just one browser. The pulsating ‘N’ brings me back to a slower time.

O is for OMG: Not sure when this abbreviation became one of the most texted phrases/acronyms on the planet, but it must have started in the 90s!

P is for Prodigy – Can you fathom that we actually used to pay to belong to an online dial up content service? In the 90s, Prodigy was a big deal before AOL arrived on the scene.

Q is for Quicktime: Apple first released this multimedia framework in 1991. The company’s been a little busy since then with other things.

R is for Real Video – The quality wasn’t quite there, but it was amazing to think you could watch a streaming video on your computer. Today, it’s like turning on a light switch.

S is for Splash Pages – The annoying persistent interruption that is the Splash Page started taking over computer screens in the 90s. Where’s the ‘Close’ button when you need it?

T is for the Prior to Facebook, my space, Twitter becoming the glue of our lives, there was, an IPO high flier that never scaled audience or profits.

U is for Under Construction. Before the Web became the iterative, fluid, dynamic, organic community that it is today, we felt compelled to post hideously ugly ‘Under Construction’ graphics.

V is for Video. Yes, you could watch Web videos in the mid-90s. The quality though was mediocre at best. A 28.8 modem could only do so much; it was like trying to suck an elephant through a straw.

W is for What’s New at Yahoo: In 1994, I was able to review every new Web site that launched. Today, I’d have to hire hundreds of people to keep up with the volume.

X is for Text. Hey, there an ‘x’ in the word. The Web in the mid-90s was highly text-based because bandwidth was very scarce.

Y is for Young. The Web was VERY young in the mid-90s; a toddler just working to find his way. Today’s Web is mature, confident, and many-layered. It’s hard to picture the Internet of 2023.

Z is for Zine: Webzines were HUGE in the 90s, and we started to see niches. Webzines have now morphed into blogs, communities, and sites on anything and everything your heart desires.

Have a favorite 90’s digital memory that isn’t listed here? Let me know and I’ll gladly share it.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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