Trend-seeding, not advertising:
Following on from some ideas muddling around in my head on the train last night….

So, you have a niche service/product/trend to push. You’ve found your target audience of inside-track opinion formers. You’ve probably found them because some timely on-topic content serves their info-hunger for the subject they’re passionate about. That content’s probably not some agglomerated portal, glowing & popping with dancing adverts and less-than-compelling content. It’s likely to be a small-&-plain enthusiast-edited weblog, e-zine or an e-mail newsletter. So that’s where you book a (dirt cheap) series of plain-text adverts, ahead of your main campaign. The adverts may be cheap and text-only but they’re possibly the most vital aspect of your promotional campaign. Because if those opinion-formers percieve you and your product/service as naff, then as few as a dozen of their word-of-keyboard utterances could hang around on web archives long enough suppress your later campaign’s impact. And if they like you enough, then a few recommendations from them in the right forums could act like rocket fuel. It’s not about harvesting click-throughs at this early point, but simply about tilling the ground to make it fertile. So, how on earth do you start to make these vital adverts appealing? Maybe you should start thinking sideways; perhaps it’s not an “advert” at all. Oh, of course it initially attracts attention & invites action; but for what? For a click-through to some richer media, where you can expound more fully? Perhaps, but it’s more likely you should first be listening to the readers of your target publication, before you start crafting something like a witty Flash cartoon extolling your pitch. Think of micro-publications more as a ‘focus-group’ than as an ‘advertising medium’. Invite the readership to do what they probably do best; carp, bug-shoot and be sharply critical. So you might ask about the stupid ways that dozy “Lotus Notes instead of a brain” suits try to appeal to them, and yet miss by a mile. Maybe a “How rubbish are these adverts?” invite. Then have the editor print the digest results and comments in the next issue, thereby giving readers a golden chance to get their name in front of their peers. Listen, learn, refine.

There’s a word for it:
“tipping point”, & “blog” are being considered for the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Secret Hills:
A clean & well-designed educational site promoting the Shropshire Hills, in the West Midlands. Not sure about the useability of the navigation, though, given the apparent intended audience of school-age children.