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Naked Surprise!

It's 9:27 a.m. The kids have all left for day camp. The house is quiet. The doorbell rings. When I open the door, I find a large white box sitting on my front porch. It's an early Christmas present from my friends at the Naked Juice headquarters in California!

Folks, this is how you make lifelong customer evangelists! Marketing guru Greg Steilstra calls it “touching [the driest tinder] with a match.” If you have a phenomenal product and you give your customers a first-hand experience with that product, you can be sure that they will do just what I'm doing now: They'll light up like a torch and tell the world! Let me tell you the story.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled on Naked Juice at a local health food store. I was immediately hooked. The drinks are beyond delicious. I started telling all my friends about these awesome, super-healthy juice smoothies. I've made more than a few converts along the way.

Then, in early 2009 I had an idea: I should start a fan club on Facebook. Surely there are more NJ-lovers out there I can share the bliss with. A few clicks later, the site was up and running.

As with most things, the initial build was slow. But within a few months, my little fan club had a couple hundred NJ fans and growing. Then I had another idea. Why not see if there were any NJ employees on Facebook and invite them to be part of the Page, even make them admins. I figured, getting news and insights straight from HQ would give me the best fan page on Facebook. After a bit of internet sleuthing, I found a couple of NJ staffers, made the invite and they enthusiastically accepted. We now have nearly 5,000 fans and it's an awesome experience. But the coolest part is that the folks at NJ have been super kind to me. When they have a new flavor, I know about it right away. When they launched the Acai Machine, they sent me a couple of samples. When they created the ball caps, they sent me one. And then today … well, you see what happened today. They have surprised me with this giant box of juice heaven, which includes samples of the new Chai Spiced Cider (which, as expected, is insanely delicious ... and I'm not really even an apple fan--the juice or the computer :-).

Question: Do you think there's any way on earth that I would ever switch from NJ to some wanna-be competitor? Not a chance. They have superior products, sure. But more importantly, they have superior brand management and customer relations. And I'm doing everything I can to help make sure they succeed in my little corner of the world.

Remember, they had me at “hello.” I was a rabid fan long before the fan club or the free samples. They didn't have to do any of those things. But they did. That's the mark of a great company.

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Free

Seems Chris Anderson's book "Free" has even managed to get the heavyweights swinging at each other. The ruckus went something like this:

First, Malcolm Gladwell (an author I LOVE) threw a text-book combination (left-right-uppercut) critique at Free.

Then marketing guru Seth Godin (another author I LOVE) blasted a looping overhand right at Gladwell's critique. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective.

Finally, Lovecat extraordinaire Tim Sanders (a third author I LOVE) stepped in to play referee and wound up trying to choke out both Anderson and Godin with his own special arguments.

I had to rewind the action to make sure I understood it, but it was pretty intense. I'm not even in the right league, but I love a good scrap, so here's my two-cents (which I reworded as a comment on Sanders' blog).

I think Sanders' perspective is unfortunately predictable on this issue, and I also think it's causing him to miss the point. I believe that the model he describes is one that is on a collision course with culture. Godin said it this way: "Magazines and newspapers were perfect businesses for a moment of time, but they wouldn't have worked in 1784, and they're not going to work very soon in the future either." I think he's right, for purely anecdotal reasons. The abundance of data available to me for free poses equal value to the amount of data available at a price. I say equal because that data is still not easy to come by ... but that's changing every day. It's a whole lot easier to find what I'm looking for now than it was even five years ago. And I can find more of it.

Sure, the model is in place now, but for how much longer? The problem, as I see it, is that it's entirely based on the nebulous idea of intellectual property rights, an issue that grows more confusing with each passing day. The writing on the wall is clear: the complexity of the legal system + the overabundance of tools and channels for data redistribution = an unavoidable collapse is on the way. Whether it looks like Anderson's "Free" or not remains to be seen. But I think it's safe to say that it won't always look the way Sanders or even Gladwell has described it. I also think it's safe to say that those who don't find a way to adapt will be the real victims ... and it won't be culture that is to blame.

I personally have come to believe that the future is one in which data will be free and service and experience will cost a premium price. Of course, this is nothing new. It's actually how the world of commerce began. The thought of paying for "content" is fairly new in world history. And digital content, no matter how much we argue, is always going to be viewed the same way, simply because we cannot touch, taste, smell or feel it. (Of course, that could all change if the Scifi writers have it right.)

My advice (if it matters), is to give away some valuable content and use it as a marketing tool to draw buyers into your premium services and experiences. And if you want, save your very best content for those experiences only.

[For the record, I purchase my music via downloads mostly through Rhapsody and Amazon. And I rarely ever buy eBooks ... I still prefer the feel of a real book in one hand, and a red ink pen in the other.]

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UFC 100

Mir vs Lesnar, GSP vs Alves, and Henderson vs Bisping: How do you call it?

Mir vs Lesnar: Personally, I hope Mir makes Lesnar look like the amateur he really is. As a matter of fact, I'd love to see Lesnar lose three straight and be forced to either start over or move on altogether. The ONLY thing Lesnar has is his size/strength. If Mir can manage that, Lesnar is toast. Maybe I'm being too hard on Lesnar. But if he had actually earned his right to fight by working his way up through the ranks, I'd be OK. Instead, he had it put in his lap because a bunch of WWE fans want to see him fight. I'm cheering for anyone and everyone to knock him back down to the minor leagues where he belongs.

GSP vs Alves: Alves is a tough kid, and his been pretty impressive in his last two fights. But I think the only way he can beat GSP is by brute strength. GSP is smarter, faster and has way too many tools. As long as GSP avoids Alves' power, it's gonna be a long night for the newcomer. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. I think I good whooping by a superior opponent could help Alves get that champion heart and attitude that he seems to be missing.

Henderson vs Bisping: As for the TUF-match, Bisping is a good fighter, but I have not seen him demonstrate the same skill level and mental toughness that Henderson has. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed in Bisping's attitude throughout this season of TUF. He doesn't seem to have grown any in the mental category, and I think that will hurt him against guys like Dan Henderson. I see Hendo getting him down and pounding him out in the third.

Mir, GSP and Hendo, FTW.

Who are your picks and why?

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