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Your first time

I’ve tried to avoid worthless posts plugging my new book (in favor of wothwhile posts plugging my new book) but I just got a copy of the finished bound book in the mail today and I was surprised at my reaction. When I finally held my first book in my hands back in 2005, I was elated. But not when I held this one.

I wasn’t disappointed, but it sure didn’t feel the same as the first time.

The first time, I just couldn’t imagine beforehand what the book would be like—how large it would be, how it felt in your hands. I was even surprised it was so much thinner than my binder crammed with my manuscript. (Duh! It was printed on both sides of the paper so it was half as thick.)

But this time, it was just what I expected, no more and no less. I am happy it is finally done (now the interviews and the appearances start) but I didn’t have the same thrill of holding it in my hands for the first time. Neither did my family—my kids said, “That’s great, dad” when they were clearly excited the first time.

I think this book is better than the first. And it is a business book, so the publisher is expecting higher sales. So I should be more excited about it. And I am excited about people reading it. But I didn’t get excited as much by holding a copy. Holding a book you wrote is about the same every time. Next week I have planned to be excited about people starting to get it in their hands and read it. (I have marked my calendar for September 19 to be thrilled beyond words.)

This isn’t bad. It’s just human nature. It’s never as exciting as the first time, no matter what it is. I think marketers forget this sometimes. We get all excited about what we are working on and we forget how hard it is to surprise a customer.

It happens even to great marketers. I really think Steve Jobs expected the headlines for their latest announcement to be about the new iPods but it was the $200 iPhone price cut that stole the headlines. Why did this happen? Because incremental improvements to the iPod are not as surprising as a one-third price cut for their hottest product.

As marketers, we need to remember how hard it is to surprise people. We need to focus on doing so (to be remarkable as Seth Godin likes to say) but to remember how difficult it is to really be remarkable just because you’ve done it before. I think that it is just as hard to surprise every time, no matter your track record.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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