January 30, 2003

DC DOT COMM Introduced to Blogs

Henry Copeland writes in his blog, "only 10% of the audience had ever read a blog and only 2% had actually blogged." Which is why it was so important that Henry closed with some final statements and told the audience, "go to Google and type in blog plus something you're passionate about .... It will change your life."

I wish the panel could have focused more on blogging, although we created the "Battle of the Blogs" to be a panel of experts (mostly bloggers) on the internet to discuss issues revolving around online media, advertising and marketing. I'm not sure if the audience left understanding what a blog is and why it's important that they know. Hopefully the audience will listen to Henry.

Regardless, I think the panel worked. There were some great conversations about Spam, Pop-ups and the effectiveness of online advertising in general. However, the biggest sign of hope the online marketing world is starting to get it, was the discussion of community. Who would have thunk it? Marketers are starting to realize the importance of online communities. Someone from the audience (I think it was the audience) asked an interesting question. "Would an online community on the Omaha Steaks website work?" The big picture version of the question is, are brand websites the appropriate place to host a community. The general consensus was "hell no", because why the hell would Omaha Steaks host a discussion about how much Omaha Steaks suck (not that they do suck, but someone's bound to start that discussion).

I beg to differ with that thinking. The Omaha Steak would be a great place to host a community. Loyal customers could talk about their favorite marinades or spices. And big deal if someone starts talking about how much they suck. Omaha would be better for letting that conversation happen. They could even join in. It makes the brand more real, and less reliant on advertising. Same holds for communities on sites like BMW, Kodak or Budweiser. Every brand has loyal customers and they should embrace and utilize them.

I had a great time speaking with Henry Copeland who was the only one I had a chance to talk to from the group of panelists I had anything to do with being there. Henry was the first blogger I've met in the non-blog world. We started talking about Crossing the Chasm, a book he strongly recommended to me. I've thought about the concept as Henry described it almost ever day since the conference. The premise is that in order to establish a new market all you have to do is find a small group who can help champion your cause, product or service. So if I want to introduce a form of blog marketing to one of my franchise accounts. My goal should be to seek out those who already see the value of online community or who already blog --- engage them in the idea, watch it work and spread the knowledge.

Henry also thinks I should be blogging more, and he's right. I will.

All in all DC Dot Comm was a great experience. It was the first time I helped produce a conference and I'm very happy that Hank Dearden -- who produces the show -- embraced my blog idea and we were able to introduce it to the DC Ad community. I'd like to thank Henry, Sean Carton, Meg , Jennifer Kronstain and all the other panelists. Hopefully next year people will be screaming for more blog talk. I just hope they listen to Henry.

I'll post some pictures of the panels tomorrow...

It's tomorrow and here they are:

(Hollis Thomases, Sean Carton and Robbin Zeff)

(Jennifer Kronstain, Meg Hourihan and Henry Copeland)

(Mark Lees, Frank Cumberland and Missy Shorey)

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