The Marketing Companion


In our latest Marketing Companion Podcast, Tom Webster and I examine three ripped-from-the-headlines topics critical to digital marketing: A decline in Facebook reach?

-- New research from several sources indicates that Facebook algorithmic tweaks could be dramatically depressing the visibility of brand posts to their audiences. We dissect this data and discuss whether this is real or something that could actually get much worse.

Are we safe? -- Our last podcast covered 2014 marketing trends and I predicted that the "malignant complexity" of Internet systems would provoke more attacks to a vulnerable system.

We look at the recent Target breach -- 40 million credit card profiles were stolen -- and an analyst remark that indicates something even more sinister could be going on here.

Influence marketing trends -- An influence marketing company released some eye-popping data about the number of marketers who are actively paying influencers to promote their brands.

The trajectory of this trend is remarkable and strikes at the heart of some moral issues of content creators. I think this will be a profound topic for 2014 and beyond and I think you will enjoy this lively debate!

Are you ready for this? Of course you are!

Here is the podcast, at your service:

References in this podcast:

Jim Tobin article on Facebook reach

Agora Pulse article on Facebook reach

Scott Stratten

Direct download: TMC.14.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 4:41pm BST


This not your normal 2014 forecast post about Facebook advertising and "the year of mobile" (yawn). Tom Webster and I put our heads together to really think through some of the implications of what we're seeing out there and the six projections we developed are not exactly run of the mill social media fare. I think you are going to really enjoy our latest Marketing Companion podcast. It is going to surprise, and perhaps even startle, you.

The podcast starts out with a visit from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christian Bale (you have to hear it to believe it!) and then untangles six marketing mega-trends:

1) Malignant complexity

2) Re-aggregation of audience

3) The cost of security

4) The death of "last touch" attribution and implications for search and offline marketing

5) Dis-intermediation of manufacturing (the biggest impact on marketing since the Internet?)

6) Atomization of content This podcast is guaranteed to get you thinking about our marketing future in new ways.

What's that you say? You can't wait to dive into it?

Well I certainly can't blame you so here it is in stunning high-definition technicolor:

References in this podcast:

The password management tool is Dashlane.

Direct download: TMC.13.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 8:23pm BST

sponsored content

Sponsored content is probably the hottest -- and most controversial -- marketing trend around. Embedding advertising messages in the editorial portion of online properties is an act of desperation -- Traditional advertising is in decline as technology allows people to avoid ads The fact of the matter is that sponsored content works best when you don't know it's an ad. This raises so many questions about best practices, disclosure and regulations. On our new Marketing Companion podcast, Tom Webster and I tear this issue apart from every angle:

  • Does sponsored content demonstrate that the advertising industry is in crisis?
  • Sponsored content -- only effective if it's sneaky?
  • Will the FTC regulate this trend?
  • Is a company blog sponsored content? Where do you draw the line?
  • Will sponsored content bolster confidence in a brand or jeopardize it?
  • Is this trend necessary to save traditional media? Ad agencies?
  • Radical honesty as a point of differentiation.
  • When do guest posts become sponsored content?
  • Could sponsored content actually be better than organic content?

This is a vital and fascinating topic and by this point you are probably ready to go. Well, here it is: By the way, if you are enjoying our podcast, why not let others know by leaving a rating on the iTunes site. It’s so simple and much appreciated!

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanon.12.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 5:44pm BST

google pants An early Google Pants sighting[/caption] Companies like Forrester and Gartner -- who used to make their money providing expensive and exclusive research reports -- are finding it impossible to "contain" the data. If somebody buys just one report, it's likely to very soon be distributed widely on the web for free.

As a result, there is a very subtle but important change going on in the world of research with profound implications for what we can see and believe on the social web. In our latest Marketing Companion podcast, Tom Webster and I explore some of the implications of this as we look at a case study where Forrester recently skewered Facebook with some provocative, but not necessarily accurate, claims.

A company VP added fuel to the fire with an "open letter" to Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook called the claims "irresponsible." Why would a company built on providing dispassionate data and insight make a sensational move like this?

Data and research are certainly taking on an interesting new role in the field of content marketing. Some of the ideas we discuss in the podcast ... If companies can't make as much money from their research, are they using their data as a content marketing promotional tool?

If businesses won't pay for research, what happens to the quality of the research? What can we really believe right now and how do we know if the claims we are looking at on the web are to be believed?

Most important of all, how is Tom Webster getting rich from Google Pants and Smithfield Hams?

At this point, you might be asking, "How can I listen to this gem of a podcast right now?" I'm happy to report that all you have to do is click this button:

By the way, if you are enjoying our podcast, why not let others know by leaving a rating on the iTunes site. It's so simple and much appreciated!

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.Episode11.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 4:19pm BST

radio-show Podcasting, which traces its roots back to "audioblogging" in the 1980s, has enjoyed a renaissance as smart phones have become nearly ubiquitous. But what does the future hold? The great hope for podcasting might be the emotional, immersive nature of the medium. It's a rich content relationship, not a digital "snack" and a unique opportunity to provide both entertainment and information. A podcast is a companion and the engagement level might make it ideal for business development.


Now that Tom Webster and I have 10 episodes of The Marketing Companion podcast under our belts, we thought it would be a good time to take a fresh look at the state of podcasting and its future. We also debut our line of clothing and exciting wearable technology: Google Pants. You have to hear it to believe it. By the way, if you would like to be a part of the podcast, email me an audio file with your comment or question and it might make it into an upcoming show. This week's podcast covers a lot of ground, including:

  • The latest data on podcasting popularity and usage
  • The promise of blogging to your ears
  • Some of the problems and promises of podcasting
  • Surprising observations about podcasting demographics and metrics
  • Technologies and trends that could ignite podcasting
  • The future of podcasting -- Mark and Tom disagree.
  • Podcasting as a source of business leads

... and much more. Ready? Set? Well then, here you go:

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.10.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:59am BST

data Here's the number one business opportunity in marketing today: Teach marketing leaders, social media gurus and SEO professionals how to ask the right questions about data. I'm serious.

There is a golden opportunity here because many businesses leaders don't seem to know enough about basic marketing analytics to know whether their programs are growing or not. We are leading "by our gut" in a world that promises true wisdom and insight if we can understand the numbers.

The implication is that we are potentially (and probably) making incorrect decisions because we're mis-interpreting the numbers ... perhaps we don't even know the right questions to ask. If you're in marketing, you MUST understand this issue! I believe that just a basic knowledge of measurement tools can go a LONG WAY in helping to propel and differentiate your business ... and so does Tom Webster, the co-host on the Marketing Companion podcast. While this may sound boring, I promise you that our latest edition of the podcast is not. In fact, as you will soon hear, it is downright magical.

We explore what we consider the number one issue for most marketing leaders today: Understanding metrics to make business decisions --

-- The biggest business opportunity in marketing today

-- The danger of focusing on the what instead of the why or the how

-- Tom's five fundamental questions to guide a content marketing strategy -- Getting drunk on growth

-- The importance of talking to people

-- Content marketing at the end of the sales cycle

-- Content marketing as "fishing"

-- are you even in the right lake?

-- Guest appearances from Gini Dietrich and Sean McGinnis -- The magic metrics for content marketing and lead conversion

Are you ready for this? Can you HANDLE THE TRUTH? Here we go:

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

The book Good to Great by Jim Collins Our friends Gini Dietrich and Sean McGinnis

Doug Henning

Voices Heard Media

Further reading:

Marketing and social media measurement

This content was created as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions. hits counter

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.9.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 5:04pm BST

twitter and NYSE

Twitter is at a crossroads. It's in the process of becoming a public company which will inevitably affect how they monetize, where they monetize, and perhaps even influence the type of content they are willing to allow on the site.  A bastion for free speech, how will Twitter react when Wall Street pushes back on controversial content? As little Twitter has grown up it is now squarely in the gunsights of Facebook, which can only survive and thrive by increasing its "marketshare" of our personal information. Twitter is experiencing a youth movement, driven in part by the fact that mother (and even grandmother) is on Facebook now, directly threatening a core Facebook audience. Twitter is also in the middle of placing a bold bet on becoming the go-to "second screen" for television viewing. Twitter has changed my life so these are vitally interesting topics for me and many in the marketing field ... and an awesome topic for our next Marketing Companion podcast. And if these topics are not reason enough to tune in, you should listen to this episode just to hear Tom Webster state that he no longer has to suck on the teet of social media. It's a fun and lively debate which also covers:

  • Why Twitter may be a better investment than Facebook
  • Facebook's pre-IPO sneak attack
  • The critical importance of owning the "second screen"
  • Why a Twitter-Nielsen partnership is dynamite
  • Twitter as a shelter for cowards and how dimwits define the conversation
  • The IPO's possible impact on Twitter and free speech?
  • Why Twitter needs celebrities to fuel the youth movement
  • The three unique value propositions of Twitter
  • The new monetization models for Twitter -- "reach" versus "targeting"

At this point you are probably experiencing a Pavlovian-type response and are reaching for the "play" button. Well, here it is:

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Christopher S. Penn

Venture Capitalist John Frankel of ff Venture Capital

The Book The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.8.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 4:49pm BST

what does it take to succeed in marketing

I have a new Twitter follower who has branded herself as an "authenticity coach." This puzzled me. Is that a real business?  Is "authenticity" a critical business skill so important it has become a cottage industry? And perhaps the bigger question is, exactly what DO you need to learn to succeed in a marketing career today? This is a complex question because marketing as a career discipline has evolved differently than other areas of business. If you are a finance professional or you work in accounting or economics, the fundamentals of your career success are not sliding under your feet. But if you are trying to establish a career in marketing, not only are the tools of your trade changing, the rules of engagement are changing every day. If you want to aim to land a marketing job, what should you study in college?  Do you even need to go college? If you are an established marketing professional, how do you stay relevant?  Are you doomed to be in a constant state of catch-up? This is a fascinating topic and that's why I think you will particularly enjoy the latest edition of The Marketing Companion, a 30-minute podcast I create with the amazing Tom Webster. We cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, including:

  • The gap between marketing business needs and today's marketing education
  • Real world experience versus a college education - Do you even need a degree any more?
  • Why marketing education is different than other disciplines in the business school
  • Is "social media" an entire degree program, one class, or an essential life skill?
  • Community manager - The hardest job in marketing?
  • Five critical marketing career skills you will never get in school

At this point, you probably can't wait to wrap your ears around this podcast, so here it is!

 Other helpful resources mentioned in this podcast:

Book by Tom Peters:  The Brand You Book by Dr. Robert Kelly:  How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed

Blog post by Mark Schaefer: The crisis in marketing education and what to do about it

Illustration courtesy of   Book links are affiliate links

Direct download: MarketingCompanion.7.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 8:09pm BST

content tsunami

The blogging life used to be so easy. Just five years ago, a blog was still a novelty and if you started one, you would probably occupy a niche in your industry. But since then, the world has conspired to make blogging very difficult ... "Content marketing" also means "content overload," -- this is a crowded and noisy field for newcomers. The dynamic world of search engines and SEO has made it complicated for bloggers to become discovered. New entertainment alternatives and social media distractions have probably challenged blogging's role as the king of content. Even technology like smartphones has made blog consumption, sharing, and commenting more difficult. What's a blogger to do? That's the question Tom Webster and I tackle in our latest Marketing Companion Podcast. We explore the topics of:

  • The challenge of information density
  • The entertainment edge - Next big thing for blogging?
  • Expertise and the content saturation index
  • Content quality, optimization, or both?
  • The most important blog metric ... perhaps the only one?
  • How much time should you put into promotion versus content quality?

This is a fascinating topic and we cover a lot of ground in just 30 minutes! I think you'll love the podcast and hope you'll also leave a comment below. Can't wait to listen?

Of course you can't! Well here it is right now!

There are several blog posts referenced in this podcast so here are some handy links if you want more depth on this subject:

From Mark: How the physics of social media is killing your marketing strategy From Tom: When Content Marketing stops working

From Marcus Sheridan: A discussion of Content Saturation Index

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.6.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 3:22pm BST

Newspapers are dying. Local TV stations are struggling. Many radio stations have been in decline for more than a decade. And then, Jeff happened.

jeff bezos

This has been a fascinating couple of weeks if you're interested in newspapers and digital media. John Henry (owner of the Boston Red Sox) bought the Boston Globe and Jeff Bezos (Founder of Amazon) bought The Washington Post within the same week. When I first heard about the Bezos move, I thought "huh?" But the more I considered it, the more excited I became.  

The Post and many other traditional media outlets have been dying, primarily because they fell behind the digital revolution and have been unable to monetize fast enough. But a few years from now, we may look back and see that all that finally changed in this seminal "Jeff Moment."

Jeff Bezos is a master of media distribution and has boldly led Amazon into the publishing business. If anybody can lead The Washington Post into the digital age (and beyond), wouldn't it be him? In fact, couldn't the world benefit from more digital innovators making a move into "traditional business?" Wouldn't it be great to see an executive from Amazon, eBay or Apple take over the US Postal Service, The Department of Motor Vehicles, or a major state university? This is the topic that fuels our latest Marketing Companion Podcast.  Please listen in as the scintillating Tom Webster and I explore ... Can the Amazonification of journalism save newspapers? Will The Washington Post be the next great social media start-up? Does Bezos represent a new breed of

Wouldn't it be great to see an executive from Amazon, eBay or Apple take over the US Postal Service, The Department of Motor Vehicles, or a major state university? This is the topic that fuels our latest Marketing Companion Podcast. Please listen in as the scintillating Tom Webster and I explore ... Can the Amazonification of journalism save newspapers? Will The Washington Post be the next great social media start-up? Does Bezos represent a new breed of

Please listen in as the scintillating Tom Webster and I explore ... Can the Amazonification of journalism save newspapers? Will The Washington Post be the next great social media start-up? Does Bezos represent a new breed of benefactor?

Will more digital leaders move into traditional business spaces? What are the possible implications of this move for advertising and marketing? If you had $250 mm to spend, would you invest it in the content business? What are the implications for personalized content delivery? Is this purchase really an offline play? ... and much, much more.

Please enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think! Can't wait? I know! This is good stuff! Listen now:

Direct download: TMC5.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 3:34pm BST

wearable technology

Can you imagine anything that would inspire marketing creativity more than a device that allows you to view the Internet all the time, everywhere ... like a digital layer across the world?

That certainly seems to be the promise of Google Glass, perhaps the boldest step forward in the trend of "wearable technology."  In my mind, this will be a transformational opportunity for, well ... everything!

Education. Connection. Discovery. Entertainment. Business. But my wise friend and podcast co-host Tom Webster is not so sure.

In the latest edition of The Marketing Companion, Tom and I debate a wide range of topics surrounding this exciting, and to some folks, disturbing, technology.

Some of the topics we tackle include:


Lesson 1: Never become a meme.


  • A lesson in how NOT to become a meme like Robert Scoble
  • Is Google Glass a win for wearable technology or the next Segway?
  • Do the "eyes" have it, or does wearable technology belong some place else?
  • What business problems does Google Glass really solve?
  • A can of worms for privacy, or just another Kodak moment?
  • Does "cool" trump "dork?"
  • The Devil's bargain with privacy.
  • A practical view from Jamie the bartender.
  • The porn indicator, and Google's interesting new investment
Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.4.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 5:28pm BST

content millI think the role of "content" in the marketing mix is one of the most fasciating discussion topics around. How much is enough? How do you break through? Can you win on the back of quantity alone by overwhelming competitors? So I was delighted to have the opportunity to thrash this discussion around with the brilliant Tom Webster on our latest Marketing Companion podcast. In this latest edition, we talk about:

  • The dirty little secret of content marketing
  • How quantity works against quality
  • The Hubspot Problem and the content mill
  • Quantity and the discoverability advantage
  • Guest posts -- Strategic advantage or content snacks when you need a meal?
  • How is SEO adapting to new content realities and search?
  • The most important content-related metric
  • How content marketing is like a retail price war
  • Why content marketing encourages plagiarism

Yes, that is a lot of ground to cover in a 30 minute podcast but I think we get the job done and have some fun along the way too. Hope you enjoy the show and I would love to see your comments in the comment section below. To listen now:

Hope you enjoy the show and I would love to see your comments in the comment section below.

Program note: Christopher Penn weighed in with another perspective on this topic of content and SEO. Worth a read!

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.3.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 2:53pm BST

business failure How many times have you led a business failure? Do you have to experience catastrophic failure to be successful? If I fail more than you, will I ultimately be more successful than you? These are some of the questions and topics creeping into the blogosphere over the past few years as the notion of failure seems to take on an almost romantic quality. I find this strange.  As an entrepreneur, I want to do everything I can to AVOID failure. Sure, if you are trying something new, you are bound to fail. I fail in some way every single day. But I never want to fail in a way that prevents me from getting back up again.  And yet, I have this feeling that if you've never been part of an entrepreneurial wipeout, you're not considered "legit" these days. There seems to be a growing acceptance of The Failure Manifesto. My podcast partner Tom Webster and I explore this interesting idea on the latest episode of The Marketing Companion. I really think you'll like this edition, as we explore:

  • The romance of catastrophic business failure
  • Why Seth Godin's "Just Ship It" mentality leads to problems
  • The true source of business innovation and progress
  • The untold side of the Apple story and survivor bias
  • The strategy paradox --why we don't learn from failures
  • Why you can't be Zappos
  • Is technology an enabler or a leveler of business innovation?

Do you need to be "all in" to be successful in business today?  I hope you'll listen to the podcast and tell us what you think!

Direct download: TheMarketingCompanion.2.m4a
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 7:11pm BST

The Marketing Companion Episode 1: Flouting Klout

  • Klout steps into the ring as a content creator
  • Influence at the top of the search rankings
  • Guest appearance by Ringo Starr as a talking apple
  • Is Klout re-defining "expert?"
  • The search for "warmer" search
  • Klout and corruption
  • The emotional hook of Klout
  • Could your Klout score become a global VIP card?
  • Will we be seeing Klout optimization experts?
  • What Klout does well.
  • Tom reads his spam


Direct download: The-Marketing-Companion-1.mp3
Category:Social Media Marketing -- posted at: 6:39pm BST