Archive for the ‘For Non-Profits’ Category

Advertising and Social Media

December 18, 2008
the Brooklyn Museum's ArtShare application on Facebook allows users to share art and connect with museums.

the Brooklyn Museum's ArtShare application on Facebook allows users to share art and connect with museums.

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a good article about the current state of advertising on social media sites. The upshot: the average person goes to a social media site to be social, not to consume advertising or befriend laundry detergent.

I think one thing that is frustrating traditional “advertisers” is the fact that social media works much more on the old PR model, and that marketing/advertising/PR are becoming less and less distinct disciplines in this environment.

For real though – who is going to be an active contributor to Tide’s corporate page? Who has the time? The challenge for brands is being creative and delivering – yes, I’m going to use those two magic words again – valuable content. Apparently that doesn’t include a gallery of “America’s Favorite Stains.”(ps it’s a work-safe link.)

On the other hand, it will take a while, but behavior on Facebook will likely include shopping one day. I came very close to shopping at the Met’s store for a Christmas present because of an ad on Fb. I clicked through to the site and browsed. For me, that’s as much of a conversion as they’ll ever get because I am, at the end of the day, very cheap. I’ll go back after the holidays and buy ornaments for gifts for next year. I’m in that, much reviled-by-my-own-profession demographic.

And while Tide’s stain-o-rama page has fewer than 500 fans, the Met’s page? More than 35,000, including me. And I get valuable information about events and exhibits right there in my notifications, without having to search it out.

And if you want to talk about being really valuable to your constituents, look at the Brooklyn Museum’s ArtShare application, which allows people and museums who are passionate about art to share it on Facebook. It’s that kind of thinking that will win you a Groundswell Award, as well as distinction as an innovator in your field and exposure to an audience that might never have heard of you otherwise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to share some Hopper with friends.

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So you want to hire a consultant?

April 2, 2008

We hate to see good businesses taken in by bad consultants. I recently wrote this piece on how to avoid predatory consultants for a Binghamton, NY, business publication:

Hiring Consultants: The Good, the Bad and the Really Ugly

We’ve seen ’em all.

The explosion of self-styled consultants in the business world has led to a serious side effect: Consultant fatigue.

No doubt you’ve seen it or experienced it yourself. Consultants come in with guns ablaze, dispensing big insights and making big promises. Six months later, either nothing has changed or things are actually worse.

You move on to the next big idea, the next consultant with a new spin on lean management or six sigma or the latest buzz biz model.

It’s enough to make business leaders wary of all consultants and their promises, which is unfortunate because there are talented and insightful consultants whose fees could be the best investment you’ll ever make.

We have worked with many consultants over the years because of our large client list and the type of work we do. Some of the consultants have been a pleasure to work for, grow with and learn from. Others have been mediocre, but they have served a purpose. And then there is the type of consultant who seems to have a stranglehold on an organization and actually does more harm than good.

You can find the good ones and avoid the ugly ones by following a few guidelines when hiring a consultant:

The Big Talker
It should go without saying. Before placing your trust and your company’s future in the hands of a consultant, ask for references and check them. Has the consultant worked for an organization like yours? What were the goals and outcomes? Who is a reference? A good consultant will be more than happy to share success stories, and will have plenty of references to back them up.

Track Record
How successful are the consultant’s own business practices? Are you going to trust the wheel of your million-dollar company to a consultant whose own business model seems to be lacking?

The Never-Ending Consultant
This is the worst of situations. Some consultants see businesses as endless supplies of revenue. They are adept at finding ways to extend projects far beyond their natural life or creating projects that spawn a litter of new projects. It’s important to examine how successful  Phase 1 was. If the project was wildly successful, then maybe Phase 2 is a good idea. If you’re lining the consultant’s coffers at the expense of your company’s, it might be time to move on.

The No-Duh Consultant
It is very easy for any competent businessperson to look at an organization from a third party perspective and see the strongpoints/flaws, Sometimes a lot easier then the person inside the business – this is the core of a consultants silver lining– The true effective consultant will have the ability to administer effective change through their observations. Many consultants seem like visionaries for basically pointing out the obvious – it’s important to take a step back and not be too impressed with observations – again look at the track records.

The No-Goals, No-Problem Consultant
If your consultant is quick to promise actions but slow to outline the goals and measurable results, take it as a big red flag. A good consultant listens to your goals and delivers a service designed specifically to move those goals forward.  A great consultant will outline very clearly from the beginning how you will be able to measure the value of that service after it has been delivered.

As in any industry, there are good and bad apples in the consulting field. We’ve worked with great consultants who are innovative, insightful and incredibly proficient. And if decision makers could more quickly differentiate between the good and the bad, things would never get ugly.

Christopher Quereau is founder and creative director for GrafiQa Creative Services, a marketing and brand development firm with offices in Binghamton and Oneonta. He can be reached at chris@grafiqa.com or 607.433.8837.

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.