Walking the Path

William Ury: The walk from "no" to "yes"

William Ury is a very smart guy. His book Getting To Yes is among the most successful guides to negotiation.

His TED talk is about what he calls the third side in any negotiation. It's about getting out of your own head and out into the world where both you and your opponent have to live.

In many ways, marketing is like negotiation, and your target customer is like your opponent. In this model, the third side is the community that your customer belongs to. From the beginning, Rebel has advised clients that understanding the demographics and psycho-graphics of consumers is not nearly enough. You have to understand the community — how it functions, what it values, the ways that influence moves throughout.

You won't get this from research reports. You get it by walking the path. You get it by physically walking through the community, virtually visiting the websites and Facebook groups, reading the magazines, listening to the music. You get it by talking to people.

If you aren't willing to do that, you're not ready to negotiate with people to earn their attention, much less their hard-earned dollars.


Join the Resistance! | Work for Rebel

Rebel needs a community manager. If you love social media and can be engaging and persuasive in both English and French, we want you down with the team.

Extra credit if you love cars and / or have experience with automotive marketing.

This is a contract position. We don't care where you live. Just be smart, reliable, and organized, and able to work independently.

You can apply here:

Twitter How-To

As Mashable explains in "How Twitter's New Media Blog Aims To Teach By Example," Twitter is taking a pro-active role in teaching users how to make the most out of their service.

For all the folks out there — haters and otherwise — who continue to question the validity of Twitter as a communication medium, y'all need to pay attention. isn't just a blog. It's an important step forward in the evolution of technology-based communication.

MySpace started us off on the wrong foot by building a massive audience and not knowing quite what to do with it themselves. Let's assume they did their best to learn on the fly how to turn their website into a marketing platform, and as it goes with trial and error, success was very hit or miss (with lots of emphasis on "miss"). Most importantly, in typical old-media fashion, the assistance they provided was for serious advertisers only and it involved swarms of sales support teams and conference calls to help you figure out what to do to reach their crowd.

Then Facebook came along, with its brashness and anti-corporate attitude. Kind of like, "we don't care, you figure it out." It's taken years for them to come around, and even now most of their assistance is human-based. And it's mostly around advertising programs, rather than community building.

So now here's Twitter, putting it all out there on a blog for anyone to see. Their open style is the way of the future. They're giving us tips and case studies. It's almost like they want us to be successful using their service. What a crazy concept!

I'm not arrogant enough to predict where social media is heading, and I'm not here to say it's going to be all about Twitter. But I am certain that as things continue to get more complicated, the companies who take an active role in creating win-win relationships between marketers and their audiences will have a huge advantage.

Red Bull // Down With Us

Screen shot 2010-02-17 at 8.24.49 AMRed Bull Stash was a Facebook-powered scavenger hunt that enables fans to find Red Bull Energy Shots hidden around the country. It seems like brands are launching social media campaigns every day, so why is this one "Down With Us" and not a Worst Practice?

Simple. Red Bull Stash is a give back to the community of loyal fans, over one million of whom have "friended" the brand on Facebook. Now, we don't generally give too much weight to friend counts, but in Red Bull's case, we happen to know that they have real fans all over the world who really love the brand. And part of the reason they do is that Red Bull has always taken giving back very seriously.

It seems that building community isn't just about getting a lot of people to watch your ads. It's about treating them like real people you want to have relationships with. Give back early and often, and carry that spirit into all of your communications. The payoff is significant.

Pandora x Blue Moon // Random Thoughts

I clicked on a banner ad the other day! Not the first time it's ever happened, but pretty close to it. I, like most of you I'm sure, ignore banners as a general rule. But for some reason, today was different.

The ad in question was promoting the Blue Moon station on Pandora internet radio. What made the difference between this and almost every other banner ad I've ever seen?

- I already like Pandora. Been using the service for years, and I have close to a dozen stations set up.

- I already like Blue Moon. Not just because my friend Robin works there and they've sponsored some of our events, although she is the reason I tried it in the first place. I was pretty skeptical of the idea of a beer made by Coors Brewing Company, but it's really good.

Truth be told, the ad takes you to Pandora and adds the Blue Moon station to your station list. The programming is holiday music — the first song was Frank Sinatra singing Auld Lang Syne — not really my thing, so I probably won't be back. But that's another story.
The lesson here is that in today's environment, banner ads and other "traditional" advertising only perform in an environment that is already friendly. In fact, in our research for Honda this summer, urban teens told us exactly that about product placement: It resonates when it's for a brand they already like, but would not make them like a brand they weren't into.
It takes us back to the 4-Cs: Really knowing your Customers creates power. It creates the ability to do Contribute to their Communities and develop Content that will make them click your banners.