Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Dot Com Darling Returns

At the height of the dot com frenzy when entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, lawyers, accountants and PR flacks jockeyed for prestige and attention, Mark Walsh stood tall as the go-to CEO.

Walsh had it all. Good looks. Wicked smart. Articulate and engaging. An eclectic set of followers and wanna-bees. Plus, his supply chain software and services company VerticalNet sported a $12 billion valuation.

Ah, how a cruel market correction and the slow downward drift of the past decade changes things. Walsh bailed from VerticalNet just when things turned south and a few years back the company was eventually sold to a cement manufacturer for $15M.

Walsh has remained an entrepreneur and is now back with an interesting crowdsourcing advertising company called GeniusRocket.

This past Tuesday I headed over to the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia for an event organized by Potomac Techwire about the future of interactive advertising.

There was Walsh…a bit older…hair now mostly gray…no longer the focus. Yet, he was still in the spotlight as one of the panelists and, more important, the most engaging and articulate speaker at the event.

Here are a few select comments from him on how to succeed with online marketing:

-Ads that don’t look like ads are more effective. The key is to develop content that engages and entertains. (Wow…Walsh is spot on about that. Here’s a post I wrote on that very topic from April 2008.

-Environment really matters. Would LinkedIn have as much traction if each page was loaded up with ads? Intrusive advertising on the Web has long-term negative implications for the brand.

-Great creative always drives the engine. Geico is a great example. Their advertising makes a non-interesting product exciting.

-Most brand managers are on an “accountability jihad.” They force media to develop new metrics and measurement approaches that often have limited relevance or value.

-Brand managers often fall in love with the tool and the tactic.

-There is no such thing as a public relations nightmare. They can be turned into brand building events in an online environment. Consider United Airlines the lost guitar situation. That brand manager should be fired for failing to capitalize on an opportunity to create goodwill around all of the hype.

-Honesty matters…you have to say what’s true about your product and then deliver on it.

No comments: