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My name's Joel Kelly and I live in Halifax, NS.

I'm a 20something guy doing digital and social media strategy for a Halifax-based marketing agency.

I'm a vegan nerd and marketing asshole.

You should follow me on Twitter.

Contact me about whatever (like, say, your marketing questions) at

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recent Speaking Engagements

Just trying to keep a list that I can link to of speaking engagements I've done over the last year. Gives me a post I can update as I do more.

"Using Social Media for Social Change" - Session hosted at Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Halifax about how to use social media to gain awareness (and raise money) for your charity or non-profit.

"Going Social" - (Atlantic Internet Marketing conference) How to make your marketing more effective by giving people something worth talking about, and helping to facilitate that conversation

Interview on about unfriending on Facebook and managing your social network contacts.

"Unfriend Someone Today" - (Podcamp Halifax) Presentation on managing your social network contacts

While an employee of Cossette Atlantic I gave presentations on social media and web 2.0 to:
Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership
Bell Aliant
Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia

Monday, April 27, 2009

Everybody needs an elephant

So I spoke at the AIM Conference in Halifax this week about how businesses can make their marketing more social. You know, giving people something worth talking about, and helping facilitate the conversation. I thought I'd write about one of my favourite points in the talk.
Everybody needs an elephant.

Well, something like that. This came to me while having a conversation with a friend a couple weeks back. The inevitable and obvious question of "What's new?" got asked, and neither of us had anything particularly interesting to say.

So he suggested that he should just buy an elephant. That way, there would always be something to answer that question with.

"Just trying to figure out if I'm going with an Indian or African elephant."

"Oh, I'm still haggling with the owner."

"Would you believe it? Damn thing's caught up in customs."

You could go on and on about how the paddock construction is going. How much food you have to buy, and on and on. Actually, the thing never really has to arrive.

It's just something to talk about.

And everyone's looking for something to talk about.

People will go to extraordinary lengths to have something new to talk about. Hell, we'll even pay tons of money on a vacation just to have the subject of new conversations.

Does your business do anything that might give me something to talk about? Are you at all helping me buy my elephant? Are you so interesting that you can replace the elephant?

Does your business have a blog that's regularly updating with things I can bring up with coworkers? Does your packaging include funny or fascinating takes on the industry you're in?

If you make cutlery, why doesn't your packaging say how many forks are made worldwide in a day? Why don't you tell me a bit about the history of modern cutlery? When company comes over, I'll have something to talk about.

If not, I guess I have to keep trying to buy that elephant. And that's a bit of a pain. Too bad you couldn't help.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boobs don't sell

There's this ridiculous notion out there that they do. They'll get guys to watch your ad, sure. Hell, they might even DVR it and watch it again.

But to assume that some Pavlovian instinct will kick in, increasing their propensity to buy is kind of silly.

You could bank on that, I suppose. You could hope that guys will associate boobs with whatever you're selling and start drooling and pick your product up off of the shelf.

Or you could remember that what people think doesn't matter.

If it did you could just describe why your product is better than your competition's, or a necessary part of their lives and they'll buy it.

But that's not how it works.

What people say matters. What they believe matters. What they feel matters.

Not what they think.

Boobs don't sell. The belief that buying your product (or better yet, buying into it) will increase the likelihood that they'll spend more time around boobs might do it.

But that's a separate issue. That's the Axe factor. Convince pubescent boys that spraying themselves with some nasty skunk scent will help them live life as if girls will be flocking toward them, and they'll tell their moms to buy them Axe from now on, sure.

That's a dream. That's emotional.

That has nothing to do with showing boobs.

They don't actually think it will happen, but using Axe connects with their need to be wanted by other people.

There's a difference.

Think beer ads versus Axe ads. Beer ads show half-naked women.

But there's nothing about most beer ads that would convince you that buying it makes women like you more. There's no dream there, no connection. It's Pavlovian and empty. There's nothing about that connection that gives a person something to feel deeply.

But Axe sells you the dream of being wanted, special, important. That's fulfillment and emotional, and something worth striving for.

Those kids aren't buying deodorant, they're buying desirability.

Know the difference.

Monday, April 20, 2009

You're probably trying to sell the wrong thing

Apple doesn't sell computers or phones.

They sell pieces of the future.

That's why people buy them.

That's why their competition can't actually compete with them and keep making ads that suggest they make phones or computers or whatever as good or better as Apple does.

Well fine, who knows, maybe they do. But nobody cares because that's not what Apple was selling in the first place.

There's a reason people called the iPhone the Jesus Phone, both fans and haters. Because that's how people felt about it. Like they were holding something completely unrelated to a phone. They weren't holding technology. They were holding something spiritual, something they'd assumed was unattainable.

And the haters saw this and mocked them for thinking so highly of a phone. As if it had anything to do with making calls.

They were holding a piece of the future in their hands, and everything else seemed like an antique in comparison.

Blackberries, by contrast, aren't selling you the future. And they're certainly not selling you a phone, either. They're selling you professionalism and formality. That's why people buy them, because it's the closest thing you'll ever get to having a corner office downtown.

And that's why when Blackberry tried to compete with the iPhone they failed miserably. Who the hell wants a shiny bit of technology from them? Nobody. In fact, Blackberry trying to sell the future is off-putting at best.

So when Microsoft says, hey, don't buy a Mac, you can get the same functionality from us, for cheaper, you can do the same things with a PC, it just sounds empty. It doesn't mean anything.

Why? Because Microsoft is selling efficiency and cost, and Apple is selling the future.

People buy PCs because they can't afford to buy the future, or aren't interested in owning it. Or they think that Apple trying to construct the future just makes their products cumbersome and overly flashy (to the detriment of user-experience).

So what are you selling? If you describe your business as selling a product or a service, you're probably doing it wrong.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

HOW-TO Unfriend IRL

So I've already showed you how to unfriend people on Facebook, how to remove Twitter followers, and how to make your coworkers not like you, but how do you unfriend people in real life?

It's easy to get people to stop talking to you anymore -- just make them enemies. But that's indelicate and can make things overly awkward. What if you're forced to see them again? Wouldn't you prefer that they just feel uncomfortable around you and want to leave the party?

Step 1: Delay responses to their messages.
As you know them personally, they're probably still friends with you on Facebook. If they write on your wall, or send you a message, or even just email you, make sure you take at least two days to respond. When you do, write something like, "Sorry, been busy." Then write a very brief, straightforward response to any question they've asked. Do not ask about them.

Avoid emoticons.
They send mixed signals.

Step 2: Openly *not* invite them to things
Obviously you've stopped inviting them to social engagements by now, but if they don't know they haven't been invited they won't get the point. Make the event public on Facebook, post it to your profile, but do not invite them. If they ask, respond with, "Sorry, missed your name in the list." And nothing else.

Step 3: Always have another thing
They may invite you to an event or two, in an effort to maintain the friendship they treasure and see breaking down before them. But always have another thing. If you're talking to them on the phone, sound sincerely disappointed you can't make it to their event, but offer no suggestion of rescheduling, and do not invite them to your event. This can be difficult, but you'll know it's worth it by the quiver of grief in their voice.

Step 4: Prefer strangers
If you see them at a party, be obvious about being more interested in meeting new people than spending time with an old, still emotionally invested friend.

Step 5: Pretend nothing's wrong
This is the final, and most important step. Pretend you haven't changed, they have. If they ever ask what's going on between you two, make sure you frame every response as if you've been the one hurt. If they ask why they weren't invited to your party, say, "I was just getting the impression you wouldn't be interested."

This will deeply confuse and hurt them.

Soon, they'll stop asking at all.