Why Spotify is More of The Same Old Thing

By Communications, Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Media, Social Media

Anyone who knows me at all knows I’ve been a semi-pro musician for a loooong time and that I love to follow trends in that industry. Please read the following quotes:

Spotify have always had something in common with the record companies…
They’re just another exploitative middleman and in truth don’t care about the music or the artists, they only care about themselves. When a shop gives you free tomatoes does it make you love them? … or does it leave a bad taste once you realize they’re screwing the farmers on your behalf?

Kenny Laurenson

i’d feel sick after reading this article, but i’m listening to aretha.
all an artist is asking for is r-e-s-p-e-c-t. is there any other business in the world that could operate this way? could you imagine going to the gas pump, without prices listed but you had to buy and they’d charge your card an undisclosed price?

marvin etzioni


Spotify ties its service to Facebook or Twitter and thinks that’s cool? Paying for their premium service should mean privacy. I can’t even set their app to not post on my FB wall without losing the ability to listen to music. So for something that could be so cool, it becomes just another piece of malware.

Bye bye, Spotify

Dave Abbitt

Spotify was supposed to be the new model for legitimate, social sharing of music. Everyone was excited because they could listen to anything they wanted, anywhere they were. The holy grail!! It was going to take iTunes for a ride, usher in the new cloud-based model. But it turns out they are paying artists a pittance, mostly shilling for the labels, and sucking your profile from Facebook right into their vortex. They also do a pretty disappointing job with search, catalog accuracy, and curation.

I have decided from all this that the intersection of privacy and commerce is essentially nonexistent; comments like those above along with the IPO of Facebook signal the end of any hope of that dream for me. Now that they have unending pressure to increase revenues every quarter, they will be forced to exploit all of our data for their own purposes and folks will run, not walk away. If the reactions of these Spotify users are any indication, we should be prepared for a revolt against big data without transparency. Hell, maybe I was naive.

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Is there a way to have profits and privacy?

Three Myths About Quality Customer Engagement

By Communications, Corporate Strategy, Social Media

As PR, branding, and engagement professionals, we see it as our jobs to “maximize engagement” and help our clients start and maintain conversations and relationships with their customers. So it’s tempting to base success on the quantity of those efforts sometimes. How MANY connections, and is it more than last month? How MUCH content publishing, and is it enough to keep our clients “top of mind?” Marketers are rewarded (or fired) based on the ROI of their efforts and the increased sales they generate through them. So more relationships are always better, right?

Well, according to this excellent article in The Harvard Business Review, not so much. Their research has uncovered a few myths about how customers really interact with their favorite brands, mainly that people really DON’T hold brands in as high esteem as they do friends and family members–in fact, only 23% in the study said they had a relationship with a brand. So don’t attach unrealistic expectations to those other 77%. They aren’t interested in connecting at that level.

Secondly, interaction does not build relationships–shared values do. So no matter how often you’re communicating with a customer who doesn’t share your philosophy, you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort. Find the customers who share your values and make sure they are satisfied with every aspect of what you do. Be authentic. Of the consumers in the HBR study who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason.

Third, frequency of contact doesn’t really enhance these relationships. Treat EACH interaction as precious. Ask yourself–does this email make my customer glad they know about us? Are we providing value in every post? Are we providing useful, actionable information or joy? If so, then five or ten really well-timed communications can have far more power than 300 canned marketing speeches. The last thing you want to do is overload them with more of what we all claim we’re trying to avoid–NOISE.

Treat your customers they way you would like to be treated, and focus on those customers who share your values. Somehow that seems so simple.

Where’s the Passion?

By Corporate Strategy

Seven years ago, I had a brief stint at a B2B marketing firm who offered web audits. It was a fairly new idea at the time. Our IT team would conduct an audit to evaluate the usability, content and overall feel of a site. We saw some doozies. But to be fair, people loved Flash at the time. There were a lot of single webpages because manufacturing companies knew they needed a web presence but they felt their catalog already got to all the right people. Yes, catalog. (We still did a lot of catalog layouts. Those days are certainly over.)

The point is, what we were talking with people about was matching the look and feel of the company to its presence online. That conversation hasn’t changed all that much. But what amazes me is how many businesses out there today still don’t invest in their website.

I went to a networking event this week of all biotech companies. The ideas spinning around that room were amazing. Really groundbreaking, life changing stuff. The next day, I went online to find the companies I spoke with to get a sense of the research they were releasing. The passion and ingenuity I heard the night before was absent from a lot of their sites.

How is that? Is there still a gap between what happens in a lab or manufacturing plant and what the online world gets to see? I think we’re missing out. I’d love to hear from the under-represented businesses.

What is the apprehension all about? Or is it just hard to creatively communicate the business of diagnosing, researching, discovering, manufacturing?


J.C. Penney Defines their Brand and How it’s Different from Kohl’s

By Communications

I caught the end of a J.C. Penney TV commercial this morning and a line stood out  . . .

Unlike other stores, J.C. Penney doesn’t make you return to save.

For regular shoppers, you know this is a direct hit on Kohl’s and Penney’s nailed it.  Kohl’s offers a program of “Kohl’s Cash” getting consumers to return to the store to spend dollars earned within a short time after their visit. Penney’s asserts in their advertising that they’re offering shoppers the savings up front, instead. Pretty savvy advertising.

It also struck me that the line is what I consider a critical element of a brand position — defining how your brand is different. It’s astounding to me how difficult this is for some brands to define. Take some time today and think about your organization and start with “Unlike other,” and see where the definition takes you. How can your company change the conversation about what you offer to your community through a strong brand statement? I’d love to see your results in the comments.

Branding: Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica

By Communications

Let’s just get this out of the way, first: I have a dog named after a Battlestar Galactica character. A bit of nerdishness exists on my turf. We’re not as bad as Dwight Schrute, however, who, as a fictional character, has a personal brand that is easy to define.

Dwight’s topics are, pretty consistently, bears, beets and Battlestar Galactica.


If someone were to imitate you, what three topics would they identify as “you” and your personal brand?

If you don’t know, or you aren’t sure, you might want to ask the guy at the next desk — I bet he knows.