I spent a very interesting 30 minutes last night listening to a Geek News Central podcast recorded on Tuesday – an interview with Stephen King, the CEO of Marqui, the company who’s paying $800 a month to certain bloggers to write about their product.
When I first wrote about Marqui’s pay-the-bloggers programme last month, I must admit to certain skepticism (if not some cynicism) as to everyone’s motives, my thinking being greatly influenced by the concern that people might blog away without disclosing their interest, or only say nice things because they’re being paid. Well, I’ve seen none of that at all – every blogger in Marqui’s list of paid bloggers clearly identifies his or her affiliation on their blog. And they do say what they like: I’ve seen some posts that are critical of Marqui’s product.
But that focus of mine (and of some other bloggers, too) wholly missed the point of what Marqui is really doing – turning upside down the traditional concepts of marketing and public relations.
In his telephone interview with Todd Cochrane at Geek News Central (who is a paid Marqui blogger, which he clearly states up front in the podcast), Stephen King talks about his background (he’s a Brit, if you’re interested in knowing that), how he came to be involved with Marqui, and talks about Marqui’s product, typical uses for it, who the target customers are, etc.
King talks at length about the pay-the-bloggers programme – what the goals are and why his company decided to do this – and outlines some of the benefits he says that have already resulted from bloggers writing about Marqui and its product. For instance, he says Marqui’s Google search results jumped from about 20,000 to over 170,000 in just a couple of weeks. (My Google search on ‘marqui’ just now produced 138,000 references, which includes loads of posts commenting on the pay-the-bloggers deal.)
What’s interesting about Marqui’s programme is that it is open, highly transparent and viral: no marketing or PR agencies involved, King said, just straight to the people who will road-test the product – as software developers do – and write about it themselves in their blogs. Some of these bloggers are major influencers in North America with their views and opinions heard by other influencers (some media for instance) who will also comment.
Does this really represent a new way of marketing and PR, perhaps even new ways of software development and evaluation?
I believe it does. What’s more, I think Marqui’s approach will soon be emulated by others. I’m not talking about the monoliths like Microsoft or Oracle or IBM (just to state a couple of well-known names), more likely smaller companies, those who are nimble and can make quick decisions, and who are willing to try new ways of doing things with all the big risks and high potential rewards that go with that approach.
Another thing, too. Listening to the podcast brought home to me what a powerful communication tool a podcast is. In the case of this one, it’s the equivalent of listening to a normal radio phone-in interview – except I got it automatically via my RSS feed in Feed Demon which automatically downloaded it onto my PC ready for listening at my convenience. If I had an iPod or other digital player (I still don’t!), I would have used ipodder to have the podcast automatically downloaded and sync’d to my iPod ready to go.
This is the near future but right now.
Download the podcast – Geek News Central Podcast Special Edition 2005-1-4 (MP3, 12.4Mb)