Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Giving back in an un-giving economy

In the current economy, companies are saving as much money as possible; they're saving costs on sales and marketing - they're always the first to go when times get rough - but also in production and manufacturing. No one can afford to spend needed, diminishing funds on frivolous or unnecessary things.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cleaning House, Part 1

In these tough economic times - I wonder if it's EVER really "NON-tough" - marketers are looking for cheaper means of communicating with customers. Most often, people turn to "non-traditional" methods like Facebook and other social media to spread messages and build customer databases, but a new fad is emerging. The new "social media" for communication and data-building is actually one of the oldest tools in the marketing arsenal: direct mail.

Over the next few posts, I'll talk about the following topics, and hopefully get some responses supporting or refuting my claims:
- List Hygiene
- Targeting
- Prospecting
- Creativity

Now, before people start attacking me with questions, I know that many marketers HATE direct mail; I too am a hater. That being said, there are advantages to this type of marketing that aren't possible with web advertising and Facebook accounts. Feeling something in your hand, even if for a moment before throwing it away, leaves an impression in your brain that's different than seeing a web ad; there's an interaction in that second that can't be duplicated digitally.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Using Twitter for E-Commerce and Beyond

According to Nielsen's NetWare statistical survey, 41.7% of Twitter users are between the ages of 35 and 49. For companies, this is a prime demographic, full of influencers and decision-makers that can help propel sales and brand recognition on budgets that are a lot smaller than in years past.

Many probably know already that Twitter is a great way for companies to get feedback directly from customers, but the following article, "How to Use Twitter for E-Commerce," is a great introduction to using the site for more than just "feedback." Readers might be shocked at the possibility of using an online short message service (SMS) to sell products and services; I know I was!

Image representing Nielsen as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

If you think about it, you'll realize that it’s fairly similar to companies that send SMS messages via phones. In both cases, customers and prospects opt-in to receiving messages - on Twitter, they’re called “tweets” - from certain parties. Despite the similarities, however, Twitter’s the biggest thing in messaging these days. The Nielsen report, mentioned earlier, states that Twitter has grown 1,382% from February of 2008 to February of 2009. That's at least 10 times faster than any other social networking site.

Managers and marketers should read the following article to get some insights into using Twitter for e-commerce and regular sales.

Here’s the article:

How To Use Twitter for E-Commerce - Website Magazine - Website Magazine

Posted using ShareThis
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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Problem with Second Life

In response to another LinkedIn, question about the advantages to marketing in Second Life, I said:

"From an Internet marketing standpoint, the pros are minimal. I've dabbled in Second Life, and most of what I found was a lot of people trying to escape reality. That can be a viable target market, but most of the products for sale in Second Life are only useful IN Second Life itself. So, unless you have an entirely virtual product for use in the "game," there's no use looking into marketing opportunities in that arena. People I ran into in the game were looking to escape reality, not to go there and be bombarded with the 'same old stuff.'"
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pester Power and Children's TV Programming

Some marketing entities, who will remain nameless, don't just present products and services to potential consumers; they ram it down customers' throats with annoying frequency. Often, the adds appear to have been placed in the wrong time slots.

It's called "pester power," and it's becoming fairly common, especially during children's TV programming. Here are some reasons it bugs me, specifically when it comes to my kids!

First of all, I have very young children (three kids under the age of 5), and everything they see on commercials, they want. They have no way to discriminate between products; it all looks fun, so they want it.

I think there should be NO commercials during programming for children. PBS does this, for the most part, but they still have sponsored shows by McDonald's and other brands, so kids still see it. At least they're on the right track, though.

Secondly, I find it annoying that advertisers use children's programming time to advertise products to parents. The other day, I saw a soap commercial during Nick Jr. I understand that parents should be watching TV with their kids; we try to at our house as much as possible, but I know that a lot of people don't have the time to do it, and it's impossible to do it 100% of the time, so then kids are left watching ads for things they don't even understand. It becomes a drain on their delicate brains as well as advertisers' dollars.

I am, by writing this, making myself into a hypocrite, though. It’s my business to market products; I AM THE ENEMY. Fortunately, my current employer sells computer networking equipment, so I don’t think we’ll be appearing during Dora the Explorer any time soon!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hulu Takes It Back

Click the title to go to a Website Magazine article about this topic.

Image representing hulu as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

My wife and I are avid TV watchers, but only online; with three kids, it's the only time we have to watch our favorite shows. And yes, we've been using Hulu to watch everything in one place; the convenience of the site has been great. I've even watched some movies on there, too.

So, when I heard that the News Corp. deputy chairman, Chase Carey, announced that Hulu would start charging for viewing videos through a subscription-based service, I wanted to reach through my computer screen and throttle the person that came up with the idea. SUBSCRIPTION? Are they all mental over there at News Corp.?

At our house, we get satellite TV, but we have the family package so the kids can watch all of that. It's really the only reason we have anything at all. That's our subscription. We don't need to pay for another subscription just so we can watch our favorite programming online. Watching shows online is an added BONUS for my wife and I, so we don't feel deprived. However, if Hulu charges, we'll go somewhere else; the stations themselves will most likely still offer free viewing. Sure, it'll be less convenient, but I'm NOT going to pay for something I already pay for each month!

Does anyone else have an opinion on this? Please make a comment below!

Now that people are up in arms, Hulu and News Corp. have all but recounted Mr. Carey's words by saying that their current plan is a good one that they'll not shy away from using in the future. The spokesperson also said that any additional, subscription-based services will be IN ADDITION to their free offerings. Who knows if that's what Carey meant to say, but I'm sure that's what he'll claim.

Companies should do more research before deciding on future business plans. Without the research, any company can make a mistake like News Corp. did. Research first, everyone! It's the only way to go!
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Axis and Allies: Part 4

The pieces are all in place and the dice are about to be thrown; this is when you choose which tactical approaches to use and how to use them. In keeping with the "Axis and Allies" theme, should you send in the infantry men (ie front-line sales force) first and follow it up with a well-placed blast (a YouTube video) to hit the correct spot?

Maybe it's more about online blogging and networking that gets the biggest bang. I don't know enough about each business in the world to say, but if you start with a strategic vision, you'll be able to see how all your pieces are working on the board, and can make tactical moves to win the game - super ROI!

If you have any other questions, or an idea for a better analogy, feel free leave a comment!
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Axis and Allies: Part 3

The third part of the process is my favorite because it's the crux of everything. You can have great and revealing research, followed up with an amazing insight, but without a good - or rather, GREAT - strategy, you could still end up with poor results.

Great marketers use great strategy to work magic; mostly, this is due to the fact that strategy can turn something as boring as soap into a worldwide campaign promoting beauty in every face. How did Dove do it? Magic? No, no; it was STRATEGY.

This is where the Axis and Allies analogy really takes shape. This is the 40,000 foot view (thanks, John Greening) that helps us see where and how to place our pieces. From this high above the board, we can see everything, and can plan accordingly. The map was created using the research, and the insight - the true driver - is the color of the men; it gives them their unique outlook on the world and helps them know who and what they fight for.

Are the men and other pieces arranged for maximum effectiveness? Once you've set everything up the way you want it, it's time to pull the tactical trigger!
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Axis and Allies: Part 2

Just to reiterate, this isn't just about a method (ie tactic) that can be used to strike the target market at its core. It's a process that must be followed to achieve maximum marketing effectiveness.

All of your research will lead you to: the INSIGHT. This insight is the key to your campaign; it's the nugget of truth that glows white hot at the center of the marketing plan. An insight is a universal truth that all your customers share as an intrinsic value that they see in your product or service.

It's your Axis and Allies battle cry that trumpets your cause and helps you win the day.
Find that insight, and you've found the key to the marketing kingdom.

The insight is what helps to guide and develop the direction of the next step: the strategy.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blogging for Dollars, Part 2

Direct marketing is another popular method for bloggers to make money off of their blogs. This requires more work than just setting up an account with Google and smiling, or frowning, at whatever ads show up.

In this case, you need to either accept - assuming someone's offered - or look for a company to partner with. Then that company or individual pays you to place their ads directly on your blog.
For the advertiser, they get to specifically target an audience - YOUR audience. For you, this option is great because you have a sure source of income from your blog that you've hand-picked. You no longer need to hope for the best with AdSense, although it IS pretty good about matching ads to fit your content.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Axis and Allies: Part 1

I've grown up during this revolution of marketing and was a witness to the insanity long before I learned to embrace it as a marketer. When asking for marketing advice, people often receive answers full of great, tactiacal methods to get messages out to target audiences. Those have their place, but then you need to bring them all together and decide how to use them for YOUR OWN purposes. One method will almost always be the wrong answer.

Before you can market to ANYONE you need to have a strategic view of the situation. I knew someone who called it the "40,000-foot view." It's almost like playing a game of Chess, except that it's more complicated than that; maybe "Axis and Allies." You set up your pieces strategically, putting everything where you think it should be in order to get the biggest ROI.

The first part is, of course, researching to find the target you want. It can be a micro-target (niche) if you want to focus on a smaller group, or you can broaden your efforts to aim at a slightly larger group. It's up to you, but make sure the research gives you the information you need to make a correct targeting decision.

Along with that, make sure you also find out where your decided-upon target gets information. That way, you can then decide the next step: strategy.
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Nudge, Nudge

Thank you to all the people who've been reading this blog. I really appreciate it, and in an effort to shamelessly self-promote the brand, I would ask everyone who reads to scroll down on the left-hand side bar to the blog's Facebook Fan Box. Click on the button, "Become a Fan."

My goal is to have everyone that reads this blog to go and become a fan. For now, the only thing you can expect is a big, fat "thank you" from yours truly. However, in the future, there could be prizes involved for Facebook fans of the blog. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Glocalization: An Introduction

I've said it before: LinkedIn is a great tool, and my favorite feature is still the "Answers" section. The following answer is one that I gave to this question: "Networking event: What would attract you to an off-line networking event?"

The person who asked the question liked my answer better than the other 18 people who replied to her query.

My answer:
“I agree with other responders when I say that LOCALITY is one key issue for me. Honestly, to get the biggest bang for the attendees, you should do a SERIES of these events all over the country (or world). Make it truly local, with local companies, but global by addressing key business issues of the day. Make it a "glocal" movement by focusing on different local events with a broad, global view and feel. That would draw me to it.”

"Glocal" is one of my favorite marketing words of all time. When I say it, people look at me funny, but it's becoming an important part of how business works; here are some definitions to get you started thinking about it:

A global brand does the following:
- Maintains a uniform strategy.
- Standardizes positioning and image across countries.

Glocal brands:
- Adapt to local markets.
- Don't necessarily share the same characteristics across all markets.

It gets more complicated than these simple definitions, but I'll save the rest for some more posts. For now, just remember that glocal brands focus on localized strategy and tactics with global backing.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burger King goes all the way

Check out this article I just read about Burger King's latest campaign in Singapore (Click on this post's title to go to a FOX News article about the ad). I'd expect something like this in the US, where ads like this show up fairly regularly, but in Singapore? Now THAT'S pushing boundaries!

Burger King has a history of thinking outside the box when it comes to advertising. Their viral chicken campaign was a huge success, but I think that made them think they could do anything they wanted to do.

The FOX News article complained about the excessively white liquid - they said it was white cheese, but I think that was the mayo - but other than that, it is pretty obvious what BK is insinuating.

Is the ad inappropriate? Absolutely! Should there be a demand for it to be removed? I don't think so. Singapore's government is super-strict about everything that is done or seen in public; if THEY don't have a problem with it, why should everyone else? They aren't running it in the US or Europe or any other countries. Let the people in Singapore have their suggestive BK ad, please.

I'm going to write a friend in Singapore and see what she thinks; I'll let you all know what SHE says as a citizen of that country.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Word-of-mouth traffic, attracting and tracking

The following is an article I read on Lyris, a marketing website

Tracking & Attracting Word-of-Mouth Traffic Print E-mail
Written by Joy Brazelle - Serengeti Communications
Thursday, 16 April 2009

Word-of-mouth traffic can be some of the best, most qualified visitors to your site. But, how do you actually know if you are getting traffic from word of mouth? Pay-per-click and search engine optimization efforts are easy to track with Web analytics because you can segment out traffic based on the specific referrers or entry pages. You have to be a bit more creative to find the word-of-mouth traffic.

1. Check out your direct traffic (AKA no referrer).

These visitors either knew your URL and typed it directly into the browser, or they had your Web site bookmarked. As your brand becomes part of more and more conversations, the number of visitors who will know your URL will naturally increase.

2. Check out your branded keyword traffic.

This is the same concept as the direct traffic. Only for those visitors who cannot remember your URL, the most likely place they’ll look for you is on one of the top search engines. Word-of-mouth conversations about your brand will result in more traffic from the search engines by visitors searching on terms related to your brand.

3. Check out the blogs.

Using free tools such as http://blogsearch.google.com/, you can enter specific dates to see if the number of postings about your brand is increasing month to month. You can set up a Google Alert to periodically receive this information.

4. Check out the blogs + other conversations.

As many companies understand just how crucial it is to know what people are saying about their brand, paid tools like Trackur (http://www.trackur.com/) are becoming very popular. You can proactively see the conversations about your brand (and your competition) just by logging in.

5. Ask your customers.

This is perhaps the most obvious and the most overlooked way to find out if people are talking about you. Talk to your customers. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn what your customers are actually saying about your brand. Encouraging and rewarding feedback is a great way to grow loyal customers who will be happy to say positive things about your brand to their friends.

Once you benchmark the data for your word-of-mouth traffic you can begin to improve on it, and attract even more traffic by word of mouth.

1. Make it easy to spread the word.

On every email you send, landing page you create, or any other online marketing campaign add a ‘Send to Friend’ link. Make sure you test the link to make sure that it does not break and it is easy to use. Also make sure that it is obvious that the user was successful. There is nothing worse than ruining someone’s experience with your brand by lack of testing or confusing functionality.

2. Make it worthwhile to spread the word.

Reward your loyal customers and visitors. It is likely that a small percent of your customers will become true brand evangelists. These are your BEST and most important customers and you need to keep them happy. It is well worth the effort to go out of your way to make sure that these customers are appreciated and know it.

3. Use contests to grow word-of-mouth traffic and your email database.

This is such a simple and great way to increase the volume and quality of word-of-mouth traffic, but it is often ignored. Create an email contest for your opted-in list that explains the contest. In the email, add a form so recipients can forward the email to their friends (e.g. five or ten) by simply entering the email address and first name into the form. It will involve some simple database programming, and some validation that the email addresses received are valid and qualified. But it is a simple way to encourage your loyal customers to spread the word, and grow your email marketing database at the same time.

There is a fourth way to encourage word of mouth traffic. Be remarkable. OK - so that is not easy, not by any means. But it is great when companies really go the extra mile to be remarkable.

About the Author
Joy Brazelle is vice president and director of analytics for Serengeti Communications. She has made analytics her priority over the years, helping clients build and grow their online presence. Joy has been a member of the Web Analytics Association since its launch in May 2006. She stays plugged into the current world of analytics by participating in Facebook groups from "Web Analytics World" to "ClickTracks Addicts."

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Comments on Chaotics - Part 2

The second half of the article takes a turn for the better as Kotler answers specific questions concerning how to achieve marketing success in these turbulent times. His answers can be categorized as follows:

1. In-depth market research
2. Database-focused analytics
3. Product research
4. Proper budgeting

All four are great ways to improve marketing in these tough times, but Kotler hasn’t re-invented the wheel here. He’s repeating what others, himself included, have been saying for years; marketing is changing more rapidly that ever, and savvy marketers need to change their outlook on the world, focusing more on customer needs than on their own.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Comments on Chaotics - Part 1

Philip Kotler, the marketing “expert” everyone seems to look to for inspiration, has written yet another book to garner praise for stating the obvious. This one, entitled, Chaotics: The Business of Managing and Marketing in The Age of Turbulence, centers around two forces that are driving the rapid changes in business today: globalization and technology.

In my opinion, this book is about five years too late, and will only be useful to C-level executives that have their heads so far up their own, or their CEOs’, rear ends that they can’t see what’s been developing over the past half decade.

These ideas can also be helpful, I suppose, to people who are new to the work force and have no clue how to form their own thoughts based on their surroundings.

I haven’t read the book yet – I probably won’t read it anyway – but from the interview Mr. Kotler gave in Deliver magazine, he seems confused. In the first part of the interview, he states that Chaotics isn’t about the current recession, but instead about the previously mentioned two forces (technology and globalization) that have increased the speed at which circumstances change in the current business environment. Then, in the very next question, he mentions technology again, but includes three MORE forces that can affect a company: social change, legal change and economic change. That’s now a total of FIVE forces that must be monitored.

In answering the next question, Kotler talks about Chaotics’ description of the current recessionary economics and how customers are responding to it. I hate to say it, but this story is nothing new. Since the great depression, there have been 12 recessions. In each one, people have responded by buying lower priced items, postponing big-ticket purchases and spending less on things like fuel and eating out. Customers’ reactions to tough times can really be boiled down to ONE thing: looking for ways to SAVE MONEY.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Three Things for Your Personal Brand

Personal branding is important for every marketer, if only to prove to potential clients that you understand what a brand is and how to build it.

According to an article I recently read in Deliver magazine, there are three main things that every personal brand needs. And frankly, I agree with all three. They are:

Expand your expertise
This is my favorite one of the three because it involves one of my favorite pastimes: learning to do new things. It’s the reason I manage a variety of groups on LinkedIn and the impetus behind me starting this and Bountiful® Wi-Fi’s blogs. It’s also the reason I’ve accepted so many different positions at my current company, from product design to quality assurance. I’m willing to do whatever they need me to do because it allows me to learn about several different parts of the business.

Boost your visibility
As a natural extension of expanding your expertise, your visibility will increase. You’ll meet new people who will therefore expand your network. Also, you should pick a few key places on the web to put information about yourself. I suggest LinkedIn, Facebook and one other, more industry-specific network. I like SocialMediaToday.com for the third one, personally. It's for social networking professionals only, so it's the perfect, industry-specific social networking site for me.

Protect your brand
With the additional visibility comes an increased danger. If someone does a search of your name, they’re bound to find the bad along with the good. Fortunately, this increased visibility also makes it easier for you to find and deal with threats. I’m not going to get into how to deal with affronts to your character in this post, but there are many ways to stop people from marring your otherwise reputable brand.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A tweet worth tweeting about

Southwest Airlines logoImage via Wikipedia

In an attempt to engage people that follow them on Twitter, Southwest Airlines did a "20,000th follower on Twitter" prize. The lucky winner was from New Mexico, and that person won a lot of travel-related promotional items branded with the Southwest logo.

This promotion was a success for two reasons. First of all, it engaged customers in a more social setting than television, print
or a traditional website. Twitter, Facebook and other social networking outlets allow customers to virtually shake hands with companies they admire.

Secondly, it was just nice. They didn't HAVE TO do anything, but they did anyway, just to say, "Thanks." Often, there's no better reason for a company to do a giveaway; "just because" is a good reason to do promotions because customers often see it as a great big "hug," so to speak. And let's face it: everybody needs a hug every once in a while!
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Video success is more complicated than I thought...

For anyone who works in an "online" environment, Website Magazine is a great way to get caught up on current issues. I read an article the other day called, "Getting Scene in a World of Clips," by Michelle Wicmandy. It gave me some insights into the basics of using online videos to promote products.

According to a comScore report from December 2008, the following is true of online video:
- 78.5% of online users watched video on the Internet.
- 309 minutes of online video were watched by the average viewer.
- 5.9 billion videos were watched on YouTube by 98.9 millions viewers.
- The overall average online video was 3.2 minutes long.
- Viewers on MySpace.com watched 367 million videos.
- Hulu.com's average video is 10.1 minutes long, which is higher than any of the other top 10 sites.

The article also talked about advances in SEO technology for indexing and listing video in search engine results. Some, like Blinkx, have software programs that can analyze audio to create keywords for search.

As social networking specialist at Bountiful Wi-Fi, most interesting to me was the social media aspect of online video. My job, as far as video goes, will be to write, produce and distribute company videos through as many online channels as possible. The article listed a few, and I need to learn more about each of the top 10 vehicles so I know how to use them for the benefit of the company. Any marketer who deals with anything online - or even those who should be using online channels (that's everybody, by the way) - needs to know the different ways that people can find out about their companies.

If we undestand online channels, specifically video, we can use them to our advantage to promote products and give people opportunities to interact with our brands.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twitter users vs Habitat

"Habitat" is a UK furniture brand; apparently it's like an upscale IKEA. It's been a respected brand since its creation in the 1970's, but then they decided to dabble in the social media giant called Twitter. Not only did they use their brand and marketing power for evil by using spam tweets, they still haven't apologized for it.

In the world of social media, where feedback is instant, brands need to have someone on

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

call when they use a campaign tactic like this. Twitter's not a bad way to advertise promotions, sales and new products, but it needs to be done in a responsible way to avoid the negative fallout that can follow within minutes.

Here's a link to a good article on Habitat's mess:


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Friday, June 19, 2009

How could this happen?

News Corp. has decided to "dissolve" Fox Interactive Media (FIM), which has, up until this point, been their digital arm. That's sad, and even more sad is the fact that they might lay off 350 people in the near future. That being said, as a social networking specialist, I'm even more worried about that will happen now to my favorite part of FIM: MySpace; News Corp. already fired 400 employees at the former social networking juggernaut on Tuesday.

This revolutionary company turned the world upside down with its ability to network people across the globe like never before. It helped turn the Internet into the necessary part of life that it is today. Now it may disappear. Goodbye, old friend...
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blogging for Dollars, Part 1

Fifteen years ago, no one could have guessed that people would have FREE space on the Internet to write WHATEVER they wanted to write. And now, to top it off, people can make money off of these personal records on the web, called "weblogs" (now just called "blogs")! There are more ways than ever to make money off of the Internet. The plethora of companies that sell their products via electronic stores has grow exponentially, even in the past five years. Web 2.0 and it's usability have turned the web into a money making machine.

In addition to web carts, Google has enabled advertisers of all sizes through its service, AdSense. If you're unfamiliar with the products, it works like this:
- Bloggers sign up for free accounts.
- These authors choose where and how ads are displayed on their sites.
- Google uses its analytical tools to match up random ads with content found on sites.
- If visitors to these blogs click on ads, the authors get paid by the advertisers.
- Genius, no?

Granted, the money that most bloggers receive is pretty paltry, and to actually get a check, a blog has to have $100 worth of ad revenue. Considering that you need 100 or more hits on your blog to receive anywhere from 1 penny or more means that it could take a while. But still, it's an interesting idea that has paid off for people.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cheap ways to help your "personal brand"...

In this LinkedIn Answer, I was writing to a person who wanted to sell themselves as an inventor. They had past success with creating successful products, so it wasn't just out of nowhere. If you have NO experience in an area, you need to be careful not to lie, but if you have had even a small amount of exposure, you can highlight it in things you write and say.

Here's what I suggested to the inventor, and he rewarded me with a "Best Answer."

"It's interesting to see the difference between a company's definition - in this case, it's YOUR definition - and a consumer/customer view of 'brand.' You see yourself as intelligent, creative and under-recognized for your achievements. To someone looking to utilize your services or creativity, you may seem invisible.

"In the end, which is the definition that will prevail? It's always the customer's definition of 'brand.' They're the ones who decide what happens to your 'personal brand.' The old saying, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,' holds true in this case. In the minds of consumers/customers is where the brand really lives.

"Once you come to that realization, the next step is to decide how you can INFLUENCE the way people view your brand. Have you changed your LinkedIn profile to emphasize your best qualities, or does it merely function as a list of things you've done? You need to do a search and see how you appear in references on the Internet. Every touch-point people have with your brand could be the deciding factor in what they think of you. Make sure all of these places are putting forth the right image.

"Next, I would start a professional blog that you use to talk about new creative ideas and about your past successes. Use generalities to talk about new ideas to make sure you don't give things away, but when talking about past successes, be specific. Promote your blog by including it in searches on Google and Yahoo!. That way, your name and blog will appear in people's search results; this will increase your visibility online so that people will be able to find you easier.

"These are all simple and non-costly ways of increasing your visibility and strengthening people's opinions of you as a serious inventor. Other options are available, but they will be more costly as you try to market yourself. Also, while you're at it, change your resume to emphasize your strengths as an inventor, too. Always remember that your 'personal brand' exists in the minds of those who come in contact with you. Make sure every instance is a good one!”
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Monday, June 1, 2009

The Reasoning Behind Research

Everybody's heard the saying about people who don't learn from past mistakes; they're doomed to repeat them, right? Yes, and this applies in lots of situations, including marketing. Unfortunately, marketers learn even slower than the general public, so they've been wallowing in the same researching muck for decades.

This is actually pretty ironic, since marketing is all about promoting products people want or need (ideally). I think that's the only reason people have responded to some pretty poor marketing blunders. However, the most awful mistakes usually don't turn out well, and when they're done by "reputable" companies, they deserve a closer look, if for no other reason than to laugh and say, "What were they thinking?!"

The worst one I can think of at the moment is New Coke. In the mid-80's Coca-Cola was going through a bit of an identity crisis, and Pepsi-Cola capitalized on it, grabbing a huge chunk of what had been Coke's dominant market position. In an attempt to regain it's stake as #1, the Coke executive team decided to make a drastic move and change the formula!

This was all based on the research they'd done that said that people preferred the sweeter taste of Pepsi. The answer was obvious after they discovered this hidden truth! Or maybe they just didn't dig deep enough. Had they focused less on Pepsi, and more on Coke's unique nature as a brand, they would have discovered that their power was in their own flavor, not their competitor's.

I could write more, but I think I'll save it for a future post. The point is: it's not enough to do "research;" you need to do the RIGHT research, which should always focus on your own brand and its unique place in the market. If you focus on your competitors too much, you run the risk of turning your brand into a copycat product, which will get you nowhere in the long run.
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Reputation Management

If you've never been to LinkedIn, I'd recommend it as a great professional networking site. My favorite feature is the "Answers" section, where you can offer answers to questions other users have asked, or you can write a question of your own. I recently liked the answer I gave to someone in my network. The question asked about managing companies' reputations. It listed a few agencies that specialize in this area and a link to a blog entry about the subject. Below is my response to the question. I felt it was a pretty good answer, but was apparently NOT the answer the person was looking to receive.

"While any of the companies you've listed could do a good job of attempting to manage a company's brand and reputation, we all must consider something: both the brand and the reputation of a company exist in the minds of consumers. Understanding this fact helps relieve some of the pressure that companies put themselves under. They have no direct control over exactly what people think of them.

"That being said, there is a plethora of ways in which to engage customers, and that includes B2B customers. To start out, any company can do some things that don't require the aid of a specialized agency. The road to a good reputation ALWAYS begins with improved customer service; it's the one sure-fire way to improve the way people think about a business, and it's the one part of the good reputation equation that must be there. Every other strategic improvement will relate to the specific business model, but a company that wants a good reputation in the minds of potential and current customers MUST start with customer service.

"Agencies that advertise that they can 'change your reputation' are guilty of puffery. No amount of dollars spent can change the way people think about you. A good reputation management agency will teach how to manage the current reputation – it’s in the consumers’ minds – and suggest ways that customers can be engaged to help to improve the relationship."
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