24 February 2010

Mapping Marketers: Godin versus Goblin - 1/3

This post is the first of a series of three in which I am trying to map WoW marketer strategies to RL ones based on two marketer blogs. This first part deals with the methodology, the second part contains the data, and the last part contains the discussion, limitations and conclusion.


Following my last post about the Mapping principle, I tried to use, throughout this entire post (and the next one), the framework suggested by Williams to map marketers' behaviors. A few obvious questions came to my mind very quickly. Could a successful RL marketer be also successful in VW? What about the opposite? If there is no direct mapping, are there similarities between the two? These questions are too wide to be magically answered in one blog article. In fact, trying to answer these big broad questions require a minimum of expert RL economists, VW social scientists, VW economists and a few years of journal publications. I do not pretend being able to play all these roles, particularly for a single blog post. So I decided to simply look at what RL and VW marketers say about their business. No better place than blogs!

Crawling all possible blogs from RL and VW marketers to collect data would have taken really much time. Also, I planed to write a post and not a whole 10-page research paper, so I have looked for one representative marketer of each kind. I have chosen to follow Seth Godin's blog for the RL marketer, and Greedy Goblin for the VW marketer. I have been following both of these blogs for at least six months. Both are intense bloggers - they post every day - which means they provide a lot of data to analyze.

To be more explicit about the directionality of this study, I tried to detect if VW marketer strategies map RL ones. That is to say, if the real impacts the virtual (direction is offline to online). To my mind, it is very unlikely that VW economic strategies have been mapped to RL strategies. However, there might be a very interesting bi-directional connection between some RL and VW consumer behaviors (eg impulse purchase or conspicuous consumption), but this might be the topic of another post!

In VW, and more particularly in WoW, a marketer (also called gold maker in WoW) has to react to other marketers' actions and price fluctuations at the Auction House (a server-wide Wall Street). Consequently, even though he/she has to care for other players, a VW marketer is the only one who chooses which strategy to follow. Hence I consider VW marketers can be treated as individual entities. As for the RL side, I have only taken into account the RL marketer's opinion as an individual, not as a company spokesperson or a member of a group of RL marketers. However, I think it could be very interesting to compare RL marketer teams to VW cartels.

I should also explain how I compared topics between the two marketers. From their blogs, I have randomly read articles of the past 6 months - this was done easily in Google Reader. When I found a relevant article on one of them, I searched the other blog for an article about the same topic. I also thought about traditional economic principles such as monopoly or niche markets.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a New-York marketer. He is considered as a celebrity/guru and as of February 22nd, 2010, his website is the 127th most influential according to Technocrati and has the first ranking of the top English-language marketing blogs in the world (as of February 22nd, 2010, and out of 1092). Roughly 15k people visit his website every day. Many other famous marketers, if they do not agree with Seth Godin, at least they talk about him and his marketing strategies. After the publication in January 2010 of his last book, Linchpin, Godin talked with dozens of marketers and economists. Godin has been regularly mentioning other marketers in his posts. Hence, even though I am certainly not an expert marketer, I found Seth Godin's blog to be quite representative of RL marketers.

In a January 2010 article entitled The 2.0 media tour, he wrote:

You know by now that I haven't gone to any traditional media for the launch of my new book - no pitches to newspapers, magazines, or television. Instead, I went directly to my readers and the many intelligent voices online. I sent review copies by request to my readers - who were generous and creative in their reviews, and now we'll hear from the bloggers and other online denizens.
-- Seth Godin, January 2010

Seth Godin has not only been using his blog to talk about marketing, but also as an effectively marketing place. His target population is his readers. This seems like the first reliability issue. Even though in Death of the personal blog? (2008), he explains that a blog's point is to start a conversation that spreads, to share ideas and to chronicle your thinking, he has disabled the comments on his blog since 2006, so they will not be taken into account in this study. Intriguingly, even though comments are impossible on his blog, a large number of people keep following it anyway.

Gevlon the Greedy Goblin

Gevlon is the pseudonym of a Hungarian WoW player born in 1977 - he uses freemail.hu and mentioned Hungary a few times. His blog about making gold and soloing instances in WoW, and bashing altruists and other idiots, has reached more than 4k readers in February 2010. In the last 7 months, he has doubled his number of readers. Interestingly, this particularly misanthropic character stands as one of the most recognized WoW marketers: many other WoW marketers or players keep mentioning him. His prowess as a skilled player were even mentioned at wow.com. Being well-connected in the WoW marketing blogosphere, Gevlon's blog list suggests he follows many other WoW player/VW marketer blogs. I guess if Gevlon was a charlatan, he would not be so followed and cited in the WoW blogosphere.

Like Seth Godin's, Gevlon's articles mix personal opinions and business strategies: making gold, soloing instances and bashing altruists and other idiots is the motto written on his blog banner as of February 2010. As his blog has been growing older, Gevlon has been talking more and more about RL economic issues such as National Debt Crisis or Underwater loans, or about more trivial issues such as how stupid he found a recent comment on his blog. Same threat to validity as Godin's articles.

But unlike Godin, Gevlon's motivation is to share his ideas to have them improved by his readers' comments. That is maybe why he sometimes answer comments.


You can read the data here.

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