I came across one of the silliest marketing gimmicks online via Arnold’s blog. Lipton’s Getinthezone.ph is a half-hearted, half-baked attempt at using the Web as a marketing venue.

Get in the zone dot ph

For one, it is only meant to come up with a site that featured “mavens” from various fields, such as music, film making, design, photography, entrepreneurship and journalism. I very much doubt that they should be considered mavens at all–except for two –and I don’t think that they are the best in, or best representatives for, their fields.

But let’s talk first about the site and its flaws.

First, the site is user un-friendly. While the aesthetics is something to behold, with its funky vector-y design, flash doesn’t cut well when it comes to loading time and SEO-friendliness.

Second, it is a forum site with too little conversation going on. The forum or “Maven Talk” is a half-baked effort to get people to communicate with the “mavens”. It even looks like those who posted questions were either from (1) the PR or Advertising company that handled the online promotional gig, (2) the web development team, or (3) some fans. I sort of tracked one of the persons involved in making the site and that person posted one of the questions in the sparse forum. Moreover, the forum index pages do not show the latest dates of the posts. And how the heck would people know that those who answered their questions were indeed the “mavens” themselves?

The profiles of these “mavens” on MySpace, Friendster and Yahoo Groups have more and/or better content than the funky but nearly useless effort. It doesn’t excite me and doesn’t get me into the zone. It’s funny that one of the forum posters recommended that maybe s/he might as well drink coffee instead. Haha!

So, here are a number of unsolicited tips to whoever was behind the zone project, thingy, whatever.

  1. Get the “mavens” to post answers and engage the forum members in a meaningful exchange of opinions. Answering inquiries is not a one-time deal even if Lipton paid them to appear only once on the site. It doesn’t hurt to self-promote, especially in showbiz.
  2. Promote, promote, promote the site through search marketing (Example: Google Adwords), link-baiting and link-building. Invite bloggers to post about the site.
  3. Have those “mavens” mention the site in their columns, blogs, social networks and mailing lists.
  4. Make the site highly interactive and encourage networking by members not only with the “mavens” but also among themselves. Hire a firm that specializes in building social networks.
  5. Allow “mavens” to post content—articles, photos, videos, music, etc.,–on a regular basis, and make sure that these content may be shared (i.e., embedded) on other web pages, such as blogs and networking profiles. This group is composed of a film maker, a writer, a designer, a photographer, musicians. These people produce content and they have loads of ideas. They should share these both for the success of the zone project, as well as to promote their work. It’s one thing to have cred off-line and another on the web.
  6. Use viral marketing widgets, such as del.icio.us, RSS, etc.

See, never underestimate the value of the web as a marketing channel. Coming up with a flash-based site that does not add value to the time that people spend trying to figure it out is a waste of resources. That is sooo circa 1999; before the crash of Web 1.0. It’s like drinking stale tea.

We are in the Web 2.0 era now. That is the approach that Lipton and its online partner should take to make this project successful. Anyway, if your typical worker wants to get in the zone, the last thing that they should do is surf the ‘net. Haven’t you heard that mindless browsing is one of the top time-wasters among workers?

PS: Jake Verzosa is absolutely one of the best photographers out there. Now, this guy is a maven.