Monday, May 17, 2010

Marketing Haiku, Forrest Gump and Authenticity


On Friday afternoon, I was multitasking: enjoying nice Southern Cali weather, reading emails, talking to my inlaws, etc.  It was a multimedia cocktail of activity.  Sometimes, I paid attention to what TweetDeck had to offer.  One of the tweets that popped up was from Chris Brogan:

@chrisbrogan: #observation: people don't read to comprehend; they read to check off or comment.

Something stirred in me to retweet (and edit) to come up with this:

and some tweet to tweet RT @chrisbrogan: #observation: people don't read to comprehend; they read to check off or comment.

Now some may say that I tweeted for attention seeking purposes and hence I was guilty of the "tweet to tweet."  Maybe.  Others may say that I was being sassy to Chris Brogan and since he is famous and I am not, I have committed what is tantamount to career suicide.  Also maybe.

My intent is neither attention seeking nor sass.  In the first case, maybe all of 10 people are reading my posts on a regular basis (I'm related to half of them) and, as I've said in this post, I find Twitter to be like trading pits of yore so the chances of someone paying attention to little old me at that snapshot in time is slim to none.  In the second, I can be much sassier if I wanted.  My objection is that there are a million articles, webinars and blog posts about the attention span of the reader, the proper length of a blog/vlog what the right words are to present at the right time, etc.  The level of mass hysteria these days about what is "right" is borderline comical.

I've mentioned Mitch Joel quite a bit to you.  One of his recent posts was about how his blog is essentially a failure.  At least, his blog is a failure according to Julien Smith (co author of Trust Agents with Chris Brogan).  Essentially, Julien Smith's view is that Mitch Joel's blog does the following things "wrong" (for lack of a better word): it's too elite, all of the topics are heady, it's too long, it's not controversial and it's too far "out there" (aka not accessible).

To each his own but I respectfully disagree.  Everyone that writes should be authentic to their own voice and if it were any different, it would be painfully obvious.  If Mitch Joel is smart, writes "smart" and publishes as he goes but all of a sudden switches to a quick hit / marketing haiku style of gimmicky sexy delivery and posts for maximum tweeting effect, it would go "pear shaped" as my English friends like to say.

So, just now, I travelled over to Seth's Godin wildly popular blog and arrived upon this post which is essentially a primer on arrogance.  I travelled a little further along and found this post on elites.  The former essentially says to go forth with confidence and swagger to share your thoughts with the world and run the risk of being arrogant.  The latter describes the world as an us versus them type of environment... That if you write or read blogs of a certain ilk means that you choose to be aware, challenged and actively engaged in the lively art of marketing conversation with the effect of challenging the status quo.  And it means that you are part of the elite.

Well herein lies the problem with any type of marketing expression or strategy: that of who to believe.  Also, that of why we should believe.  Julien Smith says that Mitch Joel's blog is too elitist.  Seth Godin says that we should choose to be and proud to be elitist...  And that we should run the risk of being labelled arrogant if we deliver the next "big idea" to our clients and peers.  These two brand names are contradicting one another...  If you follow or think you follow both, what do you do?

Which takes me back to Chris Brogan's tweet and my retweet.  There's an inherent pressure to read a certain person or comment in a witty kind of way to elevate our profile (and our natural search results).  Sometimes, we're not sure what it is we're reading or why it is we are reading.  We get dazzled by the idea of something or personal brand and get drawn in as opposed to listening to our voice or what our gut dictates.  Also, when we see someone influential say "Please RT" or similar, there's often the temptation to do so without even reading the link.  Hey, I've been there.  I catch myself contributing to Twitter "noise" pollution.

I was watching "Forrest Gump" over the weekend and it struck me that the famous running scene (after Jenny leaves him) illustrates this point.  He slowly gets a stream of followers who think they understand him and look to him for inspiration that he's not necessarily there to provide.  He's doing this for healing his broken heart but serendipitously (and fictitiously) is the muse for the "Sh** Happens" bumper sticker and the "Have a Nice Day" smiley face t-shirt.  When he stops running, they're confused, lost and not quite sure what to do next.  

And it's because they're not listening to the voice within.  Do we believe in what we're reading?  Are we courageous enough to unsubscribe from certain blogs or newsletters from "elites" if we don't see or (dare I say) understand the value?  Are we courageous enough to say we've done that out loud?  I'll put it out in the public domain that I unsubscribed from Seth Godin's blog recently mainly for posts like the Arrogance and the Elites that I mentioned above.  My personal view is that I feel that some of his posts are "Intro to the Obvious" and like marketing haiku but having said that, I would be delighted to be proved wrong.  I guess it's because, as per Seth, I'm an elitist and enjoy conversation.  ;).

Who have you stopped following or reading and why?  I'd like to hear your thoughts.


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

P.S.  Here's the scene from Forrest Gump:


  1. Parissa:

    Amazed how everyone has an opinion when it comes to blogging. For all those so called blogging experts I would like to share some wisdom from Dr. Suess: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those sho matter, don't mind."



  2. I apologize for the typo: who instead of sho