Archives for August 2008

Sales Training 101: Courtesy of Jerry Jones

Special thanks to Steve Lilly for editing this piece for me. This clip comes from “Hard Knocks” on HBO, which is a great show for any sports fan.

Here’s the scenario: This is Dallas Cowboys training camp. The owner, Jerry Jones, who is a fabulously wealthy self-made man, gets up to speak to the team. He tells a brief story about why he is a good salesman. It hit a nerve with me.


Couple things from the top:

1. It’s amazing that the best entrepreneurs and rich businessmen like Jerry Jones all inherently know how to sell and market. There are a million example of this:

a. Those Oracle billboards on U.S. Highway 101 are approved by Larry Ellison. He chose the color.

b. Steve Jobs. Need I say more?

c. The turnaround at HP? Yes, there have been some organizational changes but one of the keys has been Mark Hurd and his ability to close big deals with big executives. Ask enterprise sales folks there, and they’ll tell you, “Hurd played golf with the CEO and got that deal done.”

d. Is Barack Obama potentially the best sales rep and marketer in the world right now? He has made himself a rock star.

The moral is: Everyone who wants to be someone in the world has to know how to sell and market. It’s that simple.

2. I am clearly going to have a “10 Top Sales Training Scenes from the Movies” post soon (insert a “Glengarry Glen Ross” scene here).

This simple clip from Jerry is intended to be both funny and true. Ironically enough, it is both funny and true. The concept of “ask for the order” is a euphemism for closing and it doesn’t just apply to sales, it applies to marketing too. For the sake of not writing really long posts, I’ll focus on sales today, and will follow up with a Part II about marketing.

“Ask for the order” concept in sales:

I cringe at sales meetings when the VP of sales asks the guy if “he asked for the order,” and the guy stammers. At the end of the day, the salesperson is not saving the world; his or her job is to close business. I do have examples of folks who are not closers and have made a lot of money in sales, but they’re exceptions to the rule — typically they hit lightning in a bottle and take orders. They’ve never had to go heads-up and close from a customer in the last working deal they have left. Real salespeople can “ask for the order” and I love them for it. As a marketer, I know that my work has landed in the hands of people who are going to close. They’re not going to come back to marketing blaming the product, its features or positioning for the lost sale — when the reality is they sat back hoping the customer would come back to them.

From “Sales 101: Asking for the Order” by Daniel Sitter:

My sales motto has always been, “Ask, or the answer is always no”, and it really is. We must always perform the next natural step in the progression of our wonderful sales presentation, after the objections have been answered, and that is to ask the customer to make a buying decision now. This is the reason why there are salespeople. We would not be needed otherwise.

After all, an interested potential customer can go to the internet these days and learn just about every fact imaginable concerning our products or service. He can also examine our competitors. The customer is better educated than ever before. The salesperson must be at least as well educated as her customer as to the features, advantages and benefits of her own products and services, as well as those of her competitors. Keeping these facts in mind, what then is the role of the salesperson? Salespeople exist to close the sale. That is all.

Is this the true test of a salesperson? Either way, remember: Ask for the money. Jerry Jones is worth a cool billion now. Any more questions? .

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

The 3 Keys to Hiring Success: Thank You Marc Andreessen

First a preface on my inspiration for this post:

  • Marc Andreessen’s blog is without a doubt one of my favorite business blogs. I read his posts like an engrossing book.
  • The post that I am referencing here — How to hire the best people you have ever worked withwas published a year ago but still resonates with me, so much so that I felt compelled to write this.
  • I have worked for over 27 startups or emerging organizations since 2000 and am in the midst of building one as we speak. Hiring the right people is one of the single most important things you can do.
  • Yes, this is a B2B (business-to-business) lead-generation blog, but the lessons learned are critical: If you want your organization to be filled with “hitters,” then this post should still resonate with you.
  • What makes a sales team work? The people. Process supports them, but human execution is the key factor.

Even if I am at a large organization, I want my team to be disruptive, admired and remembered for overachievement. That means I have to assemble a team of “A” players. The “Andreessen Three” as I call them have become my guiding principals.

I can’t stop thinking about this Andreessen post — it just resonates with me, I quote it, think about it and continue to admire it. Oddly enough, considering how brilliant he and the people with whom he has built companies in the past are, “smarts” is not one of the key traits he lists. Here are the “Andreessen Three”:

1. Drive: Man, this word is so cliché (e.g., those stupid posters you see in dentist offices with a picture of Pebble Beach and the definition of “drive”), but it’s still a very powerful concept in its truest form. Wrote Andreessen:

I define drive as self-motivation — people who will walk right through brick walls, on their own power, without having to be asked, to achieve whatever goal is in front of them. People with drive push and push and push and push and push until they succeed. … Drive is independent of educational experience, grade point averages, and socioeconomic background.

This is so dead-on. You may say it’s obvious, but it’s not. Sorry, it just isn’t. And by the way, I don’t mean that a candidate is driven simply if he or she says “I’m driven” or “I’m competitive.” Interviewees know that’s what you want to hear — and they’ll do everything they can to convince you it’s true.

The key to determining whether candidates are truly motivated is to find real examples of their drive. Note: these examples don’t have to be related to the job for which they’re interviewing, you just have to know they have it in them.

Example: The guy who runs my global lead business. I got his resume, saw that he had a technology background, did inside sales and had other solid qualifications, but what was most interesting was that he made a film. He had no experience in movie making, no money to do it — just an idea and heart. He raised the money, filmed the footage, edited the film and delivered it. (Here it is if you are interested) Soup-to-nuts. Boom! DRIVE. When he interviewed, he said, “Well, you probably want to talk about my technology sales experience.” I said, “No, I want to talk about how you got a movie made in three years.” His story was amazing. Getting it done with nothing and from nothing. That’s drive.

Do the math yourself. Who rose to the occasion in your work or personal life? One common trait pervades: Drive. Thank you Andreessen. My number one goal in assembling a team, no matter what I’m trying to achieve, is to fill my group with driven people and constantly challenge them to prove their drive.

Side note: It’s so ridiculously awesome that Andreessen wrote about hiring folks out of IBM Corp. I once hired an amazing inside sales rep — he was 69-years-old and was a VP of IBM in the day. His tip for me was to always avoid hiring IBM, Oracle Corp., Cisco Systems Inc, (insert big company here) sales reps until they had worked for at least one or two additional companies. Let me tell you, when you get them after some pain and failure, you’ll be more than satisfied, but if you get them directly out of Big Company XXX, you’ll have to live through their “real world” adjustment. As Andreessen wrote:

Finally, beware in particular people who have been at highly successful companies. People used to say, back when IBM owned the industry: never hire someone straight out of IBM. First, let them go somewhere else and fail. Then, once they’ve realized the real world is not like IBM, hire them and they’ll be great.

2. Curiosity: This was interesting for me, since I typically define what Andreessen called “curiousity” as passion. Nonetheless his point is the same:

Anyone who loves what they do is inherently intensely curious about their field, their profession, their craft. They read about it, study it, talk to other people about it … immerse themselves in it, continuously. And work like hell to stay current in it. Not because they have to. But because they love to. Anyone who isn’t curious doesn’t love what they do. And you should be hiring people who love what they do.

Again, BINGO. I never called it curiosity, but I do now.

I do have one challenge: Finding a person with curiosity in B2B sales and marketing can be tough. I mean, if I were hiring 24-year-old kids to Facebook, I would certainly worry about this a lot less, but in B2B there’s a lot less sizzle.

How do I figure out if candidates are curious? It’s hard. See above, but my first step is to determine if they have drive. After that, I have to figure out if they’re curious. Remember the trait of being curious can overcome actual field-specific experience. For instance, if candidates don’t have a B2B background, I can say with confidence the curious will do everything they can to get up-to-speed — and do so with vigor and enthusiasm.

I have had plenty of people come through without B2B experience. The ones that worked never said, “Well, I’m not experienced in B2B.” They said, “I will be as knowledgeable as anyone in 3 weeks.” Those people stay longer to read, they are initiating coffee and lunch with company thought leaders, and they are meeting with friends in the business.

Example: Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots. Brady was a late round draft pick by the Patriots. The coaching staff took a flier on him but never really knew he would be a stud (as a matter of fact, general manager Scott Filoli keeps a picture of Brady on his desk to remind him how lucky he is to have gotten him). In his rookie season, the coaching staff figured out that he was going (or sneaking) into the film room on his own and watching game film for hours. He never told anyone, he just did it. Tom’s drive is legendary, but his curiosity is just as much a part of his character. And we all know how that story finishes.

3. Ethics: This is simple. Andressen recommended asking a question candidates won’t know and seeing how they react. If they say “I don’t know,” you may be better off than if they start spewing BS. I would add that there are ways to react to tricky questions without saying “I don’t know,” such as, “I don’t know that answer now, but I guarantee you that I will by 9pm tonight.”

Example: Do I need one? Anyone heard of Enron? The unethical don’t always break the law, they just don’t always tell you the truth. And let’s face it, that just isn’t going to work for anyone.

When I catch someone at work in a lie, it’s over. It’s been like that long before I read Andreessen’s article. Trust is not over-rated, it’s an absolute must.

So there you have it. I start with drive, work my way to curiosity and then cut ’em if they’re unethical. But don’t take this from me: read Andreessen’s post.

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Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Dear Demand-Generation Person: Put on Your Speedo!

Everyone and their mom has been following Michael Phelps’ quest for and achievement of eight gold medals. Speaking of Phelps and social media: Paul Dunay just Twittered that Phelps has 7,500 Facebook friend requests and will have to shut his account down. Welcome to social networking Michael. Anyway, the real story for anyone involved in swimming is the Speedo LZR swimsuit. Since its introduction, somewhere around 50 to 60 world records have fallen. Without getting into why (read here if you want to know more), the bottom line is that the suit is a massive breakthrough. Speedo says that the suit reduces drag by 10 percent and “oxygen efficiency” by 5 percent. At the Olympic Trials, other swimsuit vendors like Nike Inc. and TYR Sport Inc. had to let their swimmers swim in the LZR or risk having their swimmers lose. Wow.

So why in the heck would I bring this up? Marketing automation is the marketing/lead-generation program’s Speedo. Here are the four reasons why:

  1. Marketing automation is a legal, breakthrough technology that will make your business a world-class operation.
  2. If you don’t use it, your competitors will leave you in their wake.
  3. Marketing automation makes your company better, but it is just “shelf-ware” if you don’t have effective marketing and marketing execution. In other words, the worst swimmer won’t actually be much faster — the real upside is to make outstanding swimmers break world records.
  4. You will look like a hero.

Marketing automation will save us all … embrace it.

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Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Does This Blogging Stuff Even Work?

I am planning on putting together a major post for September in which I honor organizations and people that have influenced me in some way, shape or form regarding my B2B lead-generation or marketing ideology. The idea is to make this an annual post called “The Top of the Funnel” awards. Gosh, I love that name.

Anyway, I regularly cruise the Web searching for ideas on what to write so I committed myself this weekend to looking at new blogs and sites. In my searches, I found what I thought was a promising name: The Marketers’ Consortium, the blog associated with big-time marketing-automation company Unica Corp.

What I found was this message: “Unica will be ending The Marketers’ Consortium. It’s a bittersweet day. We’ve loved having the blog.”

So, I pose a question: Do B2B blogs help their organization’s goals?

Let’s take the case of Unica. Unica is a legitimate marketing-automation vendor, a seemingly a perfect fit for a marketing blog. They did it right, having covered all the important bases:

  1. Great Name: The name “Marketers’ Consortium” drew me in. Plus, “Unica” wasn’t included in the title, so it didn’t look too salesly.
  2. Thought Leadership: Unica got some of the best and brightest to guest blog, further accentuating the look and feel of a third-party expert blog. Guest bloggers included Elana Anderson, former VP of research at Forrester Research; Don Peppers, noted author, speaker and founding partner of Peppers & Rogers Group; Pat LaPointe, managing partner of MarketingNPV LLC; Liz Roche, former VP of research for META Group and creator of My Life as a CRM Diva; and the very popular Chris Kenton, social-media maven and president of MotiveLab.
  3. Traffic: Take their word for it: “… more visitors than we ever anticipated and a steady stream of regular readers.”

So what happened? According to Unica, two factors motivated the blog shutdown:

  1. No ROI (return on investment): I can attest writing a blog is a massive time-suck. The metrics coming out the other end for them did not make sense, so they shut it down. Considering they liked the traffic, Unica probably tied their metrics to lead-generation goals.
  2. Lack of Marketing-Executive Readership: Marketing executives just don’t read blogs yet. This hurts considering the fact that I like to believe they read mine!

There’s still hope for marketing blogs, though. Take famous blogger Brian Carroll of and his success as an example. Brian’s blog is number one on Google organic for “B2B lead generation”; he is the most quoted, most recognizable (you see his darn photo everywhere) marketing blogger; he is on every Webinar and podcast imaginable; he wrote a book … I could go on. I believe his social-media activities are impressive and something that all of us should strive for. What’s funny is a lot of us read him and trust him, yet don’t even realize he runs a business. His credibility had to help sales (he may be one of the most famous guys in B2B lead gen), but the proof is now in the pudding: InTouch Inc., his company, was bought by Meclabs. I’ll be investigating the deal in later posts.

OK, I have one final thing to say. Brian runs a call center — that’s right, telemarketing. Besides Rainmaker Systems Inc., these companies don’t get bought. Meclabs bought Brian. So, I would say Brian Carroll believes that his blog helped his organization’s goals and then some.

I’d like to hear more from other B2B folks on whether their blogs work for them (metrics-wise and qualitatively). I hope this blog post, as well as my question on LinkedIn, solicit some feedback.

And keep your eyes out for Part II of this post.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

If Sales Is from Venus and Marketing Is from Mars, Then Venus Wins Again

Jobfox has released a report on the 20 most recession-proof jobs. There are two really interesting developments for my two blog constituents, sales and marketing folks.

  1. Sales guys: Congratulations — you have and will survive the economic slowdown. Heck, even sales executives made the list, so congratulations. Bottom line: You can’t make money unless people are selling.
  2. Marketing people: ouch. You’re not even on the list. What’s clear here is that marketers still have a lot of work to do to prove that they’re a part of the critical path to revenue. There are great tips on this on Jon Miller’s Modern B2B Marketing blog. Read his post “7 Strategies for B2B marketing During a Recession.” Then hit his series on “Proving Marketing’s Value” (start on Part I). It’s easy for me to say, but don’t lose your job. If you take the lesson learned from my previous post “The 7 Similarites Between VPs of Sales and Professional Sports Coaches,” marketers don’t get fired as frequently … but, as you can see from the below stat, you will struggle to get a new job.

By the way, I have never heard of Jobfox so I don’t even know how credible the data is. What I do know is that there is a beautiful marketing lesson to be learned from this. This data has been great viral content for Jobfox. I found this article on Network World’s blog, which proves that this piece of content worked. Now, I am writing about a company I have never heard of before, and I am giving them visibility. I also forwarded this article to some friends. And Jobfox didn’t write about its marketing mumbo jumbo, and the site has no registration form. Now that is social-media marketing.

Read Jobfox’s”Top 20 Most Recession Proof Professions” (PDF).

Top 20 Most Recession-Proof Professions


  1. Sales Representative/ Business Development
  2. Software Design/ Development
  3. Nursing
  4. Accounting and Finance Executive
  5. Accounting Staff
  6. Networking/Systems Admin
  7. Administrative Assistant
  8. Business Analysis ( Software Implementation)
  9. Business Analysis ( Research)
  10. Finance Staff
  11. Project Management
  12. Testing/ Quality Assurance
  13. Product Management
  14. Database Administration
  15. Account/ Customer Support
  16. Technology Engineering
  17. Electrical Engineering
  18. Sales Executive
  19. Mechanical Engineering
  20. Government Contracts Administration

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Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

The George Carlin Rule: Lists ALWAYS Work to promote B2B Offers

So, first to be clear about some things:

First: Lists: What I mean is the popular-offer/subject-line-grabber technique of 100 Best Ways to “X” or 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t “X.”

Second: George Carlin . If you don’t know him, read about him on Wikipedia.

Third: Offers can be blog posts, article headlines, whitepaper headlines, Webinar topics, email subject lines and so on.

So, I am listening to the radio, and the host is talking about George Carlin, who passed away this year due to heart failure. Here is how he described Carlin: “George Carlin is known primarily for his ‘seven dirty words act’ … ” The “seven dirty words act” is of course George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”

OK, so do the math. This dude did stand-up comedy and movies for 40 to 50 years. He was known as being funnier than hell. At the end of the day, Carlin will always be remembered by the ultimate list headline: “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” The seven words take one minute to list, and the monologue was one act in an entire career. Yet it is what everyone turns to when they describe Carlin’s career.

George Carlin proves one thing: You cannot stop the use of lists for marketing success. You can only hope to contain it.

Ironically, as I was thinking about this offer, I figured that I should do some research on it, and, lucky me, some of my favorite bloggers have some great posts on the subject:

One thing is true: With the blogosphere and the multitude of people trying to capture eyeballs, the list technique has never been more prevalent. But the bottom line is that it still works.

Then there’s this comment from MacStansbury in the “7 Reasons” article:

“It’s getting so bad with the lists, I’m almost to the point I don’t want to read a post if there’s a list. Of course, I’m still writing posts like that, because it works!”

Why does it work for approaching B2B buyers? B2B buyers have no time and want their information from people whom they trust or that they believe are thought leaders. The list approach conveys the following to a B2B buyer:

  1. Easy to Read: The list format gives a feeling that your offer will be “to the point” and can be consumed quickly and easily.
  2. Authority and Thought Leadership: Making a list is authoritative and definitive.

The most important factor is that the list technique still works, and B2B marketers should take notice. Also take notice that if you haven’t been doing it, everyone else has, so you have to still be creative and think outside the box on how you present a list. George Carlin would be proud.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Funnel-Man Rising: 7 Things Ordinary Joes Can Do to Improve Their Blogs

Traffic on The Funnelholic has started rising dramatically since I declared my comeback a couple of months ago. The boost the site has received due to the recent wiki articles has been awesome.

Blogging is an important part of B2B (business-to-business) demand generation. I have learned a ton from The Funnelholic experience, and will continue to do so. Below are some of the things I have done since the blog’s relaunch that have contributed to its recent success. In the meantime, I am constantly trying new ideas and am humbly reaching out to get other opinions.

Over the last couple of months, I have done the following;

1. Created compelling content consistently: I have been writing two posts a week — something I definitely didn’t believe I was going to be able to pull off. But I’ve stuck to it so far, knock on wood. …

2. Created a style and a voice: I write what’s on mind, both professionally and personally. The posts are usually a real-time reaction to what’s going on in my world. That’s why some are more technical and professional-oriented, and some come in the form of musings. What you need to know is that in the world of B2B lead generation, people typically don’t want to hear what you have to say. Anecdotal stories have to go on my blog — it’s my way of finally expressing myself.

3. Stayed humble (sort of) and asked for opinions: The blog isn’t for me, it’s for the readers. I have gotten feedback along the way and I have tried to make changes accordingly. Also, you all know that I’m a Linkedin wonk … so I’ve been posting questions on LinkedIn’s blogging section and getting tips.

4. Done my research: I used to do this anyway, but with the relaunch I’ve read some other blogs and Web sites front to back. I literally spent six hours on MarketingSherpa the other day. I also have been down with copyblogger and others. The fact is I need to be on top of everything as part of my job, so the time suck still has a lot of value.

5. Used online social networking:

  • LinkedIn: Of course I have a personal profile … come on. I also created a LinkedIn group called Friends of the Funnel. New members sign up every day. If you haven’t signed up yet, you should.
  • Twitter: My first reaction to Twitter wasn’t good. Then I saw that the few people I have following me clicked through when I “tweeted” them regarding a new post. So the problem for me there is volume, but I see the potential. Sign up to “tweet” with me if you dare.
  • Plurk: I’ve gotten no traction on Plurk. My social media friends prefer the Plurk interface but still, no results. If you Plurk, you can check me out.
  • Facebook: I stayed off Facebook initially. If someone asked me for a recommendation, I would tell them: “Choose one and do it well.” But The Funnelholic isn’t just a blog — it’s a way for me to experiment with what does and doesn’t work. So I’ve created a personal profile, as well as a Facebook group called Friends of the Funnel (Facebook version). Despite the time suck, you gotta do Facebook.

6. Used social bookmarking: It took me awhile to offer the social-bookmarking sites like Bloglines, Techorati and StumbleUpon. So far, I’ve gotten a ton of hits from Reddit and some from Stumble. I will probably still create a section of the sidebar with social-bookmarking sites, but we’ll see.

7. Started a newsletter-like subscription: I’ve finally joined the blogosphere with my FeedBurner email-follower widget … so click here to follow me via email.

It’s great to be back. I’m always out there looking for tips, so send them along. And keep your eyes on The Funnelholic as it continues rise.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Wiki-palooza Part III: The world of wikis and how b2b marketing can win in this game

Just how easy it is to edit Wikipedia:

History comparison reports highlight the chang...

A real wiki-expert jumps in the fray. The wiki-gate scandal has brought me from blogger into journalism. Just to re-cap:
1. Wrote a blog post: the How-to guide to getting jacked by Wikipedia
2. Got a lot of traffic from it as well as comments and personal emails. Job well done
3. Wrote a follow up post “interview” with Anvil Media, the marketing agency whose clients got “jacked” by Wikipedia.
4. Now, got approached by Gregory Kohs who has been following the Anvil Media saga AND is an expert on Wikipedia.
5.Interview done…see below

Anyway, this interview is very interesting: we learn a lot about how Wikipedia works, the Wiki landscape, and how we as b2b marketers can make use of it all.

Funnelholic: First, tell us about yourself so we can understand your expertise on the topic of “wiki-gate”
Greg Kohs: I’m a marketing research practitioner working at a Fortune 100 company. But I’ve always had an entrepreneurial interest on the sideline, having founded two Internet businesses since 1995. One enterprise is called MyWikiBiz, and we were the first company to overtly state (July 2006) that we would author freely-licensed content suitable for Wikipedia, in exchange for a reasonable fee.

Give us your take on the Anvil Media “wiki-gate” scandal?
Greg Kohs:Anvil Media was doing something Wikipedia invites every visitor to its pages to do — edit the encyclopedia “anyone can edit”. Unfortunately for Anvil and its clients, they didn’t do quite enough homework to understand the pervasive culture that underlies Wikipedia. While Wikipedia boasts of a “neutral point of view”, self-appointed defenders of Wikipedia have determined (without any authoritative, outside consultation) that commercially-funded scholarship and encyclopedic documentation cannot possibly co-exist constructively within a “neutral” perspective. Not realizing that this perverse proviso undergirds all of Wikipedia, Anvil made the mistake of fully disclosing its method of participating in Wikipedia’s content creation. Within hours, their relatively acceptable content was relegated to the dust heap.

Funnelholic: What is the real issue here?
Greg Kohs:The real issue is that Jimmy Wales and a close-knit team of partners have capitalized on and exploited the “community” that feverishly edits Wikipedia. In a stepwise fashion, they have optimized a system whereby they turn a personal financial profit off the success of Wikipedia, and they’ve ingeniously decided that nobody outside their circle should be likewise allowed to do so. Ask yourself, is it a coincidence that Wales’ speaking bureau charges $100,000 a day for his appearances? Is it a coincidence that there are over 13,400 outbound links from Wikipedia to Wales’ for-profit Wikia, Inc. site? Is it a coincidence that two of Wales’ original Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) board appointees now serve as senior officers of his Wikia farm? Was it a coincidence when Wales appointed a junior employee of Wikia, Inc. to serve on Wikipedia’s “Arbitration Committee”, the highest editor-adjudication body on Wikipedia, short of Jimbo himself? In light of these overlaps in interest, is it really honest that Jimbo declares on his Wikipedia user page that Wikia and the Wikimedia Foundation are “completely separate” operations?

Funnelholic: Who controls the Wikipedia content and if ANYONE can put up and alter content, why are the appeal and change mechanisms so arbitrary?
Greg Kohs: Wikipedia content is controlled, quite simply, by the agent or agents who will most tirelessly persist in trying to control the content; that is, up to the point where certain objectionable content may legally threaten the solvency of the Wikimedia Foundation, which is where they will step in with “WP:OFFICE” actions. Appeal and change mechanisms are wholly arbitrary for two important reasons:

  1. The WMF is largely protected from libel claims by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The more aloof and “hands off” the Foundation remains in terms of content change mechanisms, the easier it is for them to maintain in court that they are not accountable for the libel that appears on the pages hosted on their servers. The WMF must continually appear as an “interactive computer service” to courts, so that they are not held to the standards of decency and ethics to which “publishers” are held.
  2. The wildly arbitrary rule set is ideal for enforcing content disputes the way those in power wish them to be enforced. Sometimes it creates obvious and embarrassing contradictions, such as when most of Wikipedia’s key administrators supported the rampant sockpuppetry of business blogger Gary Weiss and simultaneously banned the account of the primary whistleblower who discovered Weiss’ shameless promotion of naked short selling on Wikipedia’s pages. Furthermore, we saw how Jimmy Wales sought the quiet assistance of a leading administrator to influence the content of Rachel Marsden’s biography on Wikipedia, hours before Jimbo met with her for a passionate encounter in a Doubletree hotel. Rather than being reprimanded for their ethical lapses, these administrators hold sway over their critics, simply banning them from the site when the criticism hits too close to home.

You have been fighting Wikipedia’s hypocrisy for two years now, what does that mean?
Greg Kohs:It means I’m not willing to give up identifying and narrating the hypocrisy that permeates Wikipedia’s leadership. And as long as parties like Anvil Media are fooled by Wikipedia’s true nature until it’s too late, my work is obviously still important enough to carry on. Like Jimmy Wales, I am available for speaking and consulting engagements; I just have a different perspective than his. I’m also frighteningly more cost-efficient!

Funnelholic: You mention that Anvil Media and Attensa are not the first to have attempted to game Wikipedia. Who are the others and what was their fate?
Greg Kohs:I reject “game” as the word choice here, but… MyWikiBiz. Microsoft and Rick Jelliffe. Almeda University. Kellen Communications. You and your readers can look up each of their stories as they related to Wikipedia. All of them met the same fate — public admonishment leveled by Jimmy Wales or one of his devotees. Utterly predictable and manifestly hypocritical, if you understand “the real issue” discussed above.

Funnelholic: What does the future hold for Wikipedia and/or the world of Wikis in general?

Greg Kohs: Wikipedia will persevere as a massive revenge platform and point-of-view pushing game disguised as an encyclopedia, until the combined effects of the all-too-frequent breakdowns in quality, ethics, and accuracy bring it down a few notches. Perhaps we will see a defamation lawsuit that finally challenges the precept of Section 230 that Wikipedia is not a publication. We may already be seeing the effects of diminishing respect for the project. Wikipedia may very well be replaced one day in the next decade by the next big compendium of information on the Internet. Remember, just a decade ago, hardly anybody thought that Altavista and Lycos would be where they are today, buried under hundreds of other more popular websites.
Wikis are really neat devices for generating trivial content from editors who don’t care to take responsibility for their words (since they will just be changed by the next guy). Wikis, however, are inherently self-destructive platforms for “open”, “anyone can edit” collaborative projects of a serious nature. You literally get what you pay for with free culture and free content when it’s produced anonymously. If you add a teaspoon of sewage to a cask of wine, you have a cask of sewage.

Funnelholic: Since this is a b2b lead generation and marketing blog, any tips you can give to them on how to use the world of wikis for branding, thought leadership, or lead generation?
Greg Kohs: By all means, use other wikis like and the new to post directory-like pages about your and your clients’ businesses.
As for Wikipedia, Anvil Media came awfully close to how B2B marketers should be interacting with that site. Anvil blew it only when they publicized their techniques. Successful marketers will learn the lessons taught by the Wikipedia trailblazers who went before them and took all the arrows in their backs. Don’t ever disclose what you’re doing on Wikipedia. Don’t use your real name as a screen name. Use a network of sockpuppet (and preferably meatpuppet) accounts, ideally employees working from their homes and coffee shops (preferably with non-disclosure agreements). Never log accounts into Wikipedia from the same IP address. Don’t try to push marketing materials onto Wikipedia. Devote more than 50% of all your editing to topics that have nothing to do with your clients. Don’t even disclose your techniques to your clients; rather, assure them that you will be working on their Wikipedia pages and links, but can’t divulge your proprietary methods. MyWikiBiz authored from scratch nearly ten different pages on Wikipedia in exchange for payment from clients. Those which we disclosed to the community were deleted or heavily ransacked. Those which we never disclosed are still thriving to this day, productively edited and cared for by the unsuspecting Wikipedia community, nearly two years after their creation.
I sound like a sneaky bastard, but this is the way Wikipedia has taught us to behave. Paid content, no matter how professionally researched, carefully cited, and neutrally crafted, will always be deleted from Wikipedia the moment its paid origins are discovered. Instead, keep the origin of such writing a secret, and they’ll be tripping over themselves to award you barnstars and promote you to administrator!

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Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter