Archive for November, 2007

What marketing can do … and what it can’t

November 19, 2007

I want an iPhone. I want an iPhone in a way that’s probably not healthy. I want it because it’s beautiful, it’s the gateway to the future and it will make me happier, smarter, taller and generally better.

I want an iPhone the way Nicole Ritchie wants skinny.

But I’m not going to get one. First, I live in the country where only one mobile phone provider has reliable service, and it ain’t AT&T.

Secondly … actually, there is no secondly. No matter how miraculous and beautiful and perfect the iPhone is, it wouldn’t do me one bit of good to have one, because all I would be able to do is hold it to my ear and pretend to call my daughter on her blue plastic Little Mermaid phone. (Which, by the way, does not feature an optical-grade glass facade and elegant, gesture-based interface.)

But the holidays are coming up, and since my iPod was stolen earlier this year, I began crafting my letter to Santa asking that he replace the stolen Nano with a shiny new iPod Touch. Have you watched the video demonstration of how it’s used?

Swoon.

Plus, I need an iPod, right? Everyone needs an iPod. And I do not mean an MP3 player.

So I researched the iPod Touch – iPT – and found that, while it has wi-fi capabilities, it doesn’t have POP mail. And while you can look at your calendar, you can’t edit it or add anything to it.

Dear Santa,
When Apple decides to offer me a truly useful product, I want one.
Love, Me

So what are the branding and marketing lessons to be learned?

  • It’s possible to make a grown, rational woman froth like a rabid dog over a phone, even though she has never actually held one in her hand. That’s the power of marketing.
  • When I replace my old iPod, it will be with a new iPod – not an MP3 player made by another manufacturer. Why? Because the iPod designs are beautiful, and I just feel good about Apple. That’s the power of branding.
  • No amount of marketing and branding can sell something that doesn’t meet a need, whether it’s a phone with too-limited service or an iPod with too few features.
  • But – and this is a big point – all the positive marketing and branding means that I am not going to buy a competitor’s product, because I trust that Apple will rectify the problems sooner rather than later, and I’ll either be able to get an iPhone compatible with my service or an iPod with the features befitting the technology.

Is Web site optimization a competitive advantage in Upstate New York?

November 7, 2007

We recently met with a client to discuss ways to make her site more findable in search engines like Google. Like most businesses, our client wants to appear on that first search results page, right up at the top above her competition. Who wouldn’t?

Despite the fact that our client works in a super-competitive industry; and despite the fact that the Internet has become so saturated with sites (and other media) that even well-optimized pages face major challenges ranking well, I was optimistic that we could make it happen for her. Why is that?

When it comes to search engines, Upstate New York’s Web sites appear to be under-optimized. In normal human-speak, this means that many organizations in Central New York and the Southern Tier aren’t doing the things they need to do to ensure that their page listings appear in Google’s search results when prospective customers type in appropriate keywords or phrases.

For example, many sites in this area lack basic on-page optimization features like:

  • Unique page titles
  • Unique page descriptions
  • Keyword rich copy, headers and editorial links
  • Streamlined information architecture
  • Navigational aids like redundant text navigation, breadcrumbs and site maps

I also see little evidence of local and regional companies, non-profits and public-sector institutions taking advantage of social media marketing opportunities (like blogs, community sites, sharing sites, etc.) in order to increase the number incoming links to their sites. This is an extremely important feature in any search engine marketing strategy.

Why does this matter? I’m sure that many of the organizations that fall into this group spent considerable time and money developing professional-looking sites in an effort to attract business. If those sites aren’t findable and effective, then the return on those investments is likely to be poor.

Nobody likes to waste time and money (unless they’re on vacation).

If you think you fall into this group, then you should consider this present climate a huge opportunity to elevate your organization’s visibility and attract more qualified visitors to your site.

Seize the opportunity to beat out the competition while it still exists!

Go forth and optimize.

Creature from the Blog Lagoon

November 6, 2007

It’s six days into NaBloPoMo, and already we’re five posts short. It happens.

Honestly, when I realized that we had missed the first few days of posting, I kicked myself, then slapped my forehead, then gnashed my teeth, then pulled my hair and begged forgiveness from the blogging gods.

I’m lying. I didn’t do anything but shrug my shoulders and think, “Eh, I’ll post something today.”

While I really like the idea of NaBloPoMo – and its more literary counterpart, NaNoWriMo – I don’t like the idea that a blog should be a big, scary burden hanging over your head and making your life harder.

Social media – and I count blogs in that group – are supposed to make your life easier and more enjoyable. They’re the digital versions of the campfire, the dinner table, the corner bar and the Main Street beauty salon all rolled into one.

Social media offer a meeting place, a place to connect with people who are important to you, and a place to find out what’s really going on in the world.

Not every organization should be using every social media tool. I mean, maybe my plumber is on Twitter, but it’s probably not generating a bunch of conversions for him. On the other hand, if he had a blog and he posted genuinely useful information such as how to solve easy problems that don’t really require his expertise (and are not a big moneymaker for him) or cool new products or what to do when your 2-year-old flushes a doll’s head down the toilet, I would go to it.

Would I subscribe? Maybe not, unless I were building a house and wanted really good product information. But I sure would go to it if I saw a headless doll floating on the guest bathroom floor.

And the fact that just having a blog increases the chances of your organization coming up in an organic search means everyone should have something.

But over and over we hear clients say they’re afraid to launch a blog – afraid of adding something extra to the workload. Afraid someone is going to make them sign up for NaBloPoMo.

Social media may be new. They may require a small learning curve in order to start using them. But they’re not scary. It’s just another way to offer your clients or customers something of value – and to remind them that you exist.

If you want to know more about starting a blog, using social media or how to remove a doll head from a toilet, contact me at etb@grafiqa.com or 607.433.8837 x206.