Useful neo-marketing websites

I’ve had a few conversations recently about neo-marketing, an emerging way to communicate between businesses and people (or people and people, businesses and businesses, anyone really). I even twisted it to apply to emerging churches.

After one of these conversations I put together a list of useful neo-marketing online resources. Well, strictly they are really resources about a modern approach to business, as well as marketing, customer service and a lot of other things. I’m a generous sort of chap, so here it is.

Signal vs. Noise by 37signals:

37signals were a website design and development company which brought out a couple of their own online applications which have caused a storm on the web due to their ease of use and power. In particular their Basecamp project management system ( has revolutionised the way many which are deeply involved in the web companies work.

They have a knack of writing good medium length articles about all sorts of things. Plenty of example from other businesses about good (and bad) ways to operate:

They also link to some great articles, videos and other resources:

And they also have regular spots highlighting different things:

All these examples are from just the (sometime in June) front page of their blog, and the archives are full of fantastic things.

Creating passionate users by Kathy Sierra:

Kathy is a very well respected author and blogger with a huge range of great articles discussing many aspects of marketing, design, development and customer service. Here’s just a handful of the articles from her:

It’s important to note Kathy isn’t blogging any more, however she’s still active as a speaker and author.

Gapingvoid by Hugh Macleod:

Hugh is a very well known Scottish cartoonish and marketer, with a particular style both of drawing and writing. Over the last year or so he’s been involved deeply in what has become known as the Blue Monster movement – based on this cartoon which he drew:

On the back of that he’s done work with Microsoft trying to break them out of their age-old marketing quagmire. He’s also involved in a wine company and a Savile Row tailors. But the best thing about Hugh is he’s got a fantastic understanding of what’s wrong with traditional PR, and how the tide is turning:

Church of the customer by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba:

This isn’t one I read regularly, but there’s some good stuff on it anyway:

Global neighbourhoods by Shel Israel: * please see the note below this entry

Shel is an old-school marketer who has really “got” the Internet. Together with Robert Scoble (probably the most famous blogger in the world) he wrote a book called Naked Conversations ( which charts how blogs are changing the face of business. “Global Neighbourhoods” is the name of their follow-up book. If you want some good offline reading you could do a lot worse than buy these.

Shel is fundamentally a business marketer, and he has written some fantastic articles:

Important note: some of the things in this section are factually incorrect. Shel has kindly pointed out the error of my ways in this comment, and for that I thank him. Sorry for not doing my research properly, or indeed paying as much attention as I should!

Shotgun marketing by Chris Houchens:

Chris is a widely known marketing expert with a particular focus on web interactions. Here are some useful recent articles:

Horsepigcow by Tara Hunt:

Horsepigcow is a blend of observations on online marketing, links to the “happening” things on the web and general observations about web business. Not every article will be of use for businesspeople, but she has written some great stuff:

Extra links:

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds:

Garr is a fantastic presenter, and on his blog he talks about how to make presentations better, and also has lots of example from some of the worlds foremost speakers.

Recommended reading by Hugh Macleod:

Hugh lists the blogs you should be reading.

myJournal – it lives!

As promised oh so many weeks ago, myJournal is now live. At the moment it’s in a beta state so membership is by invitation only, however visitors have full access to all the public parts of the site. It’s aimed to be a powerful social networking tool specifically for businesses and is packed with features:

  • Member profiles
  • Multiple sites per member
  • Sites can be company sites or personal sites
  • Company sites have a showroom (an online product brochure, with multiple images per product, product categories and a really powerful management tool)
  • Company sites and personal sites have a gallery where images and videos can be uploaded
  • Members can create and join networks. The administration functions for networks are really extensive:
    • Make networks open membership, or membership by invitation only
    • Make networks private, meaning the network can be seen but all members remain hidden (except to other members of that networks)
    • Network discussions, based on the great bbPress software, with attachments
    • Network administers can revoke network invitations, ban members, and promote/demote members to be administrators
  • Members and companies can choose a number of industries to be in – the list of industries is pretty massive
  • Private messaging feature which handles multiple recipients and attachments
  • Featured members and networks, which appear around the site
  • “Who’s online?” feature

And the entire system is available for organisations that wish to run their own business social networking site. If you’re interested in that please contact us for more details.

The whole thing wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful WordPress MU platform, which I believe I’ve pushed to the very edge! Also my thanks go to Andy Peatling of BuddyPress fame for many, many hours chatting, helping me with code and generally being a good egg. It’s my pleasure to have offered the entire myJournal codebase to BuddyPress for their open source system, and I know some parts have already made it into builds.

Obviously there’s still a lot to do – how come so many bugs only make themselves visible when a beta version has gone live? – but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done so far. Hopefully we’ll end up with a site that will help businesses really get the best out of the web.

Unplanned marketing

Let me tell you a story. This is about me and my friend Toby. We’re both musicians (although Toby is a proper musician who Does Gigs and Gets Paid for them) and we’re both into obscure, unheard-of music.

Two weeks ago I gave Toby a hundred or so tracks by a very eclectic mix of artists, mostof which he’d never heard of, to see if he liked any of it. It’s all stuff I like, mainly collected from websites like 2Hive and Aurgasm. He put it all on his MP3 player and off we went to enjoy our Christmas breaks, and hopefully Toby liked at least some of the music.

What happened there? What did that music represent? Who benefited from that transaction? The answer to that last question is easy: everyone. I benefited as I helped to strengthen my friendship with Toby (unless he hated all the music, of course). Toby benefited as he got a load of new music to listen to. And the artists benefited as it’s spread their music further than it would have otherwise gone, and may well result in a couple of sales, a couple of extra concert tickets bought, or just a greater awareness of who they are.

That music was what Hugh MacLeod calls a Social Object. Something that either brings people together, or gives their social interactions an angle when they are together.

So what did I do for that music? In the traditional, now rapidly becoming more defunct business model, I was marketing that music. Except I wasn’t, I was just letting my friend know about some music I like. So if it’s not marketing, what is it? Marketing 2.0? Unmarketing? I think it was just unplanned marketing.

Traditional marketing has been very regimented; as planned as it can be. Marketers know what sector of society they want to target, what time of day their TV adverts will go on, what magazines they will publish adverts in. This new kind of marketing is unplanned, natural, authentic. And it’s much more personal. I won’t try to sell Toby something I know he doesn’t want or won’t like (I think there’s only me in the world who likes banana sandwiches) but when it comes to shared social objects – music, whisky, table tennis, a love of the worlds strongest man competition – traditional marketing hasn’t got a chance.

Which is why Radioheads latest album launch was such a genius idea. It’s a shared object – they have lots of fans who could get the album easily and for free. It’s personal but global. And now they’ve launched a real, hold-in-your-hand version as well. The fact that they pretty much took over the music media for a couple of months tells you all you need to know – have something remarkable, a social object – and you’ll be noticed.

So the next time you’re talking with a friend and tell them how good your blender is, or the great book someone bought you for Christmas, or how comfortable your walking boots are, realise you’re doing unplanned marketing.

Yorkshire Twist: Part 1

Over the next few months I hope to make some pretty big changes regarding the way I do business. The biggest change is my company name, currently, will change to Yorkshire Twist. Sounds like a cocktail involving ferrets, I know. Let me explain.

The Yorkshire bit speaks for itself. I’m based in the heart of Yorkshire and although I’m not a Yorkshireman born and bred I’m very proud to have made this place my home.

So, what’s the twist? Yorkshire folk are known for having little patience for frippery. Extraneous fluff isn’t their way, and I appreciate the fact that they want to get to the nitty-gritty quickly. I’m not the only one that thinks like that. Simple is better, especially when it comes to the web where acronyms and jargon abound.

So I’m putting in place a policy to avoid jargon as much as possible. Yorkshire Twist will be an acronym-light zone. Clients will be able to easily understand the technology and therefore get the best out of it, without having to invest in a thesaurus.

How exactly that will pan out I’m not sure yet. The clients I work with currently say they appreciate my down-to-earth approach, so I figured it’s worth turning that skill to my advantage. Plus it gives me the chance to separate my slightly worrying personal online life from my business dealings.

It will also give me a brand under which I can offer some of my open source software, and some other pieces of software such as my content management system and e-commerce system. Hmm, that’s a bit close to jargon for my liking. I may have to rethink how I describe these things.

My manual for much of this transition, apart from my wife’s impeccable common sense (she’s a true Yorkshirewoman, you know), will be this guide to marketing a small web design business. Recommended reading for anyone in my position.