posters vs. pasters

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People who create content for the web are its fuel. And there’s no doubt that content marketing is a powerful online business tool. But it is links that tend to be the ballast of today’s content marketing, not the words.  

One of my first memes on the web was “Posters vs. Pasters.” For those spelling challenged it’s not Pastors, those are for Sunday morning, it’s pasters like users of the glue pot. A paster is someone who spends time reading other people’s content and pasting it into links for sharing. A paster might spray a bucolic photo of an Atlantic Puffin or “Seven Rules for Higher Click Rate.” S/he is a curator, not a creator.

Sadly, the commercial web has become a miasma of paster links. And it is working. Think of the web as a federation of radio stations sharing less and less original music. Finding true posters, subject matter experts or subject matter passionates (noun), has become more difficult. But posters still drives the excitement and vitality of the web; they are just harder to find.

Digital pasting began 25 years ago when we started emailing jokes around the web. Lately, it has become a cottage industry for marketers. Fight the power of pasting. Fight the power.



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I have decided to work on the What’s The Idea? website, expanding it to include a number of offerings, real and in Beta. Here’s a list of the first few offerings to be included — some of which are also memes on the web.

Return on Strategy (ROS). Unlike return on investment where expenditures on tactical marketing dollars or project dollars are measured, return on strategy links revenue and value to strategy.  With ROS, attitudes, perceptions and dispositions are weighed against behaviors and sales to determine drivers of market success.

Brand Strategy Tarot Cards. In the brand strategy tarot card reading, client companies come to the meeting with 5 pieces of content.  Serially and in real time each piece of content is turned over and read.  Learnings and gleanings are shared with the marketing team until all five pieces are revealed. The reading ends with a summary of brand strategy and a view into the brand future.

Brand Strategy Workshop. This three part workshop walks attendees through the key stages of the What’s The Idea? brand strategy development framework. This hands on, participatory workshop allows attendees to more fully understand brand strategy by experiencing the discovery, boil down and synthesis process that results in powerful brand ideas.

Posters Vs. Pasters. Born out of social media research, Posters vs. Pasters is a quick-draw research tool used to arrive at consumer and market insights. It is a wonderful early stage brand planning discovery tool. At last count the market was make up of 92% Pasters, 8% Posters.

Twitch Point Planning.  A Twitch Point is a media moment during which a consumer changes his or her media consumption in search of clarification or greater meaning. Often changing devices or apps. Understanding, mapping and manipulating these twitch points in a way that moves users closer to a sale is the goal of Twitch Point Planning. Think customer journey with real weigh points.

Stay tuned. And all inquiries are welcome.




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One of the criteria I use for deciding whether to follow someone on Twitter is the degree to which they post original content. If they tend to repost or point to others’ content I tend to stay away. In other words, I favor Posters over Pasters. For me, Twitter reflects a person, place or thing’s personality. Capturing passions, sentiments, humorous moments, or likes and dislikes in 140 characters, is a wonderful way to experience people.

Done poorly, Twitter is a bunch of people pointing to other people’s stuff. It may be well-meaning but it’s still curation. Any time I look at someone’s feed and see numbers, as in “7 rules for…” or “the 4 best places…,” I know I am in Paster land. Pasters think they are making us smarter. Pasters think they are helping us with our careers. Pasters think we’ll buy their pasta because we’re “friends.” Nuh uh.

Twitter is the fastest way to get to know someone. Bar none. (Great HR people know this.) But not if that someone is pasting other’s content. That’s effluvia. Peace.

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A Twitter account is not unlike a thick magazine. One buys a magazine for the writing, the subject matter, pictures and opinion. As the magazine grows broader in its content, as ads are added and more ancillary content printed the book gets heavier. And more sloppy. And cluttered. To me, that’s what happens when you fill your Twitter feed with too much prattle. Everyone loves the randomness of Twitter and the ability to learn from others, but how is that going to happen when you follow 6 thousand people? The chaff hides the wheat as they say.

Top brands tweet 20 plus times a day to break through the noise. I follow 1,500+ people and a single tweet disappears under the fold in a matter of seconds. For people who follow thousands it’s probably milliseconds. I know there are lists and filters but I don’t use them; if there is someone I want to click up, I click them up.

So I’m selective. I review people’s tweets before I follow. I make sure they are Posters not Pasters. I read what they care about? Is it interesting? Entertaining? Can I learn something? If not, I don’t follow or follow back. And I don’t cull the herd too often, but it’s not a bad idea. Keep the people you follow at a more manageable level and Twitter becomes more powerful. My 2 cents. Peace.


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I once thought it would be cool to open an ad agency, following in my father’s footsteps, and name it Foster, Bias and Sales. Foster attention, create bias, generate sales. As much as I love the ad business — and to me there is no greater business feat than creating a sale via creative means – it really is, more often than not, a dog of a business. Consulting on the other hand, though the hardest work of my life, really has crazy upside. Interestingly, my current business What’s The Idea? is not about foster, bias and sales but about: share, educate and excite.

Let’s start with educate. The goal of educating is learning. And learning is a marketing and branding staple. Frankly, learning is a human staple. When a consumer learns something positive, or as Bob Gilbreath would say “meaningful,” about a product. it is not only retained it is processed and categorized into the value volt. Everyone wants to learn. Sadly, not everyone wants to be taught. So be careful.

Sharing is a relatively new phenomenon is marketing. There are good shares and bad shares. Most advertising falls into the bad share category — that’s why consumers fast forward through commercials on TV. The online share (bedrock to much digital activity today) is really more about the sharer then the share. Search this site for Posters vs.Pasters for more on the topic. A personal heartfelt share (read giving) is one of the most powerful gifts in all of humanity.

Lastly, there is excite. Loyalty and comfort are qualities not always aligned with excite, but let’s face it when marketing in a commoditized, price-driven world a little excitement can go a long way. Excite can come on many shapes and sizes but it is certainly a goal of good strategy.

In my business Educate, Share and Excite are drivers of the strategy. They are foundational for the brand idea and the planks. It is a kinder and gentler approach and really works. Peace.


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So now that the business questions are out of the way and brand plan is set (the sausage making clients aren’t particularly fond of) we can begin to make “stuff.” The best way to make stuff is to present it in the form of a marketing communications plan. The plan recaps and toplines what was learned during the 24 Questions and organizes strategies, targets, messages and tactics based upon the brand plan. In the Behind the Curtain workshop I will share a marketing communications plan — key deliverable #3 for marketing consulting clients.

After the marcom plan review I will probably show a slide with 5 or 6 planning tools and let the room decide which they want to hear about. The Is-Does is a simple tool, kind of like an elevator speech, that helps explain what a brand is and what it does. Posters Vs. Pasters is a reductionist social media segmentation intended to improve virality and engagement. Twitch Point Planning is a digital age communications planning tool, the object of which is to move customers closer to a sale. Brand Spanking is qualitative research construct develop to knock market leaders down a peg. The Fruit Cocktail Effect is what happens when you lose focus. And ROS, or return on strategy, is a quant approach to proving value beyond tactics. I will leave 20 minutes for Q & A and the workshop will be done. Looking forward to it.




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There’s a neat media newsletter service I’ve used a number of times in marcom plans called SmartBriefs.  It’s an aggregator of articles, sorted by topic, sent to subscriber email boxes.  It is a great one-stop free-shop. One such newsletter I subscribe to deals with social media.  The ironic thing about this one is that very few of the articles it highlights points to actual social media posts, meaning blogs.  They are mostly items from USA Today, Washington Post, WSJ, Adweek, etc.  They hit the occasional Mashable piece but do not do a good job or finding true web Posters. Posters are original content creators and bloggers whose love of the topic goes way beyond a job.

Posters may be good writers or bad and may not have made it through journalism school, but they are the backbone of the web. As a brand planner, I’m always on the lookout for big time posters in the categories I study.  They engender loyalty and lots of comments. They are analytical and love to share the goodness that is their area or interest.

Poster beget Pasters (curators and info sharers), ergo community.   

I’d love to see an aggregator service that only focused on blogs. Craft economy people in the woodworking business like the Wood Whisperer. Melting Mama for the overweight and obese. Boogie2988 for gamers.  Kandee Johnson for the young fashion conscious. Emo Girl. There are thousands of them out there.  An occasional snark would be fine too, but the more positive the better.

This is the future of the web. Where there is avoid there is an opportunity.  Maybe SmartBrief will start one. Peace.


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RIP Aggregators.

When I am late, as they say in Africa, I do not want my obituary to say Steve Poppe, a leading marketing and branding aggregator of his time. My first business impression of the word “aggregator” was in the telecom business.  Some smart people decided that if they bought a huge company telephone plan and resold it to small companies they could offer these smaller companies better prices and make lots of money.  They were called aggregators.

These days aggregators, especially in the social web, are people and applications that take other people’s content, package it up and offer it to consumers – usually supported by advertising. This “paster” behavior, different from “poster” behavior, is big business.  Just as plumbing is big business on the internet, providing the pipes and devices through which information is shared, pasting is also a huge money mover. The sharing of other people’s content, however, is a convenience business and I hope short lived. I heard an executive of top tier TV media company refer to Henry Blodget’s Business Insider franchise as an aggregator of other people’s content.

Aggregation will start to peter out.  The content marketing trend is recognizing this.  Good content, be it music (not mash-ups and remixes), video, or writing or analysis is what makes the business world turn. Brands and marketers know they need to be original. Let’s do it.  Peace.


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I dig Scott Monty, yet I don’t really know him. Well I know him in a half-duplex sort of way.  I’ve seen him on YouTube.  He came out of the ad business, he’d contributed to Ford’s turnaround – a brand I’ve railed about and at different points lauded, and he has really done stuff — not just talked about stuff.  He got Ford CEO Alan Mulally not only to recognize the power of social, but to fund and personally participate in it.  

Mr. Monty’s first blog post, near as I can tell, was in Sept of 2006. He’s very prolific – running his fingers, if you will.  Mr. Monty posts a lot and shares a lot. His blog also contains what might be a new feature — I’m not sure – called “This Week in Social Media,” which is something a number of media socialist do.  Readers of WhatsTheIdea? know I refer to this as “Pasting.” Pasting other peoples’ links.  Pasters who do so while providing analysis are moving the ball ahead. Much love. Pasters who simply aggregate OPC (other peoples’ content) are moving laterally.  Most Pasters enjoy routing topics with numbers in them, e.g., “7 critical rules”, or “5 habits of…”

Mr. Monty is no Paster, he’s a Poster. He loves original content and has built businesses and his personal brand providing original ideas and content.  We loves us some Posters.  Stay original Mr. Monty. Peace


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