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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Living well

Livin like a lobbyist

Warner's Stratosphere party

Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 12:41:07 PM PDT

You've seen it already, people criticizing the Mark Warner operation for their tony party at the Stratosphere during YearlyKos. Apparently, people think 1) Warner is trying to buy their support (everyone knows we're not that cheap), and 2) Warner could've spent the money ($50-100K) better.

Seeing the Forrest's Dave Johnson (who isn't endorsing Warner) counters that as a marketing event, Warner's party was brilliant.

Governor Warner has not just established himself with the blogosphere. By placing himself as a top blogosphere contender, he has positioned himself as a top contender, period. Let me explain. In my marketing life I always worked for "little guy" companies - small companies up against major established, entrenched competitors like Microsoft or Sony. So I developed what I a call "leapfrog" marketing, or "parallel channel" marketing strategy.

Suppose you want to introduce a product into the Microsoft Windows market. Getting noticed and establishing your brand is an extremely expensive - and time consuming - proposition. Throwing a huge $100,000 event at a major trade show doesn't even get you noticed, it's just expected. It hurts you if you don't do it, but doesn't help you much when you do. And then advertising and brand building is going to cost you millions, takes time, and you will still be barely noticed amidst the noise.

But maybe someone else is reaching the target audiences. Suppose you introduce a Linux version of your product first. Doing this, you are marketing into a parallel channel that has much lower marketing costs. But, in reality, much of your marketing activities are reaching the same audiences. The computer press, IT management, opinion leaders, sophisticated users, and many other target segments also pay attention to the Linux market so the result is that you are establishing mindshare in the Windows market. And there is an amplification not available in the Windows market. The Linux market is not saturated with products, so there is great demand. By introducing a serious product you leapfrog past the saturation obstacle of the Windows market.

So, as I said, by establishing himself as a leader of the pack of candidates in the blogosphere he is increasing his stature with the national political press and opinion leaders at the same time, because they are also paying close attention to the blogosphere as a leading indicator of public opinion.

So upon reflection, I think Governor Warner has pulled off a brilliant maneuver all the way around. By making himself important to the blogs, and at the same time increasing the importance of the blogs to the national political process, he is making himself a front-runner. At the same time, by increasing the credibility of the blogs now, he is strengthening their power and effectiveness as a channel for use by the eventual nominee.

Dave is right. Warner sent a strong message not just to us, but to the media and political establishments that the netroots matters. And in politics, $100K is pocket change. Better spend it on a blogger party where the candidate socialized with regular people than on bullshit television ads or crappy consultants.

Of course, this post will just get people whining that I'm carrying water for Mark Warner, and I've made no bones about the fact that I am intrigued by his candidacy and consider him one of the top candidates to watch (the others being Feingold, Clark, and, let me add for the first time -- Richardson). I am particularly fond of governors since I don't think the Senate is a good jumping off point for the presidency (from both practical and political standpoints).

But here's what pisses me off -- there are people who complain when candidates and politicians diss the netroots. Then, when they pay attention to us, they complain some more.

It's a good thing for both us and the politicians when we come together. It doesn't mean we have to sign away our votes, it just means we get to check each other out in ways that don't involve 30-second ads or press releases.

To be honest, much of the anti-Warner tirades seemed to be coming from supporters of other candidates angry that Warner scored some points (and Warner did score points). But don't lash out at Warner, who in addition to doing himself a favor also did the netroots a huge favor as Dave Johnson notes. Encourage your guy or gal to also engage the netroots. Lost in the hubbub was the fact that Wes Clark also had a big bash for bloggers at the Hard Rock Casino with open bar. Sure, it wasn't the Stratosphere, but all such parties in Vegas cost serious money.

All politics costs serious money. It's not a bad thing for us, or them, to have them spend some of it talking to us.

Oh well, since he didn't spend any money on me or Jen and we were otherwise occupied, I guess I can say that people don't waste money. If he spent it on bloggers, it's just how the business works. Reporters suck down free shit all the time and no one complains.

I mean, if you didn't throw food and booze at reporters, they would cease to function.

I've had Apple, MS and Linux companies feed Jen and I like rich people. In fact I met Jen at Linux World 2000. Slashdot threw an open bar party that night. Microsoft served me filet mignon. I watched Walt Mossberg being treated like a rock star.

They were fun, but they didn't change my opinion of anything.

If pols want to feed the new media, let them do so with a smile. Anyone who complains is an idiot or a hypocrite, until it's clear people are being bought.

As far as buying Kos, it's not going to help. As long as people post their opinions on his site, they serve as a check on his actions.

posted by Steve @ 12:07:00 AM

12:07:00 AM

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