Archive for the ‘Weblogs’ Category

Putting the Marketing Pieces Together When the Economy is Down

December 22, 2008

hand-and-puzzle

The sky isn’t falling – but it sure feels like it when you hear the economic news every day. And that causes a lot of businesses and not-for-profits to put the halt on marketing and advertising.

But slower economic times are the perfect time to market. If your competitors aren’t marketing, you can pick up their marketshare. If you don’t, it’s a pretty good bet that some savvy person elsewhere will.

The key is to ensure you’re getting a return on investment from the marketing dollars you do spend. That means implementing trackable and measurable programs with every piece of marketing you do.

Why not put custom web addresses on each type of your advertising and then look at your web stats to see what’s driving traffic? Then you can make adjustments based on real facts – not hunches.

Another tip: focus on e-Marketing. It’s less expensive, more effective, and trackable. And with Tivo, satellite radio and the web devaluing traditional media more every day, strong e-Marketing is a better way to effectively connect with your customers, clients or donors.

Want to see how good e-Marketing and new media can work? Check out our website or contact Bijoy at bijoy@grafiqa.com to talk about it in person.

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Tweet, tweet…it’s your brand flying across the park on Twitter

December 18, 2008

Is Twittering going to work for business and marketing? Still yet to be determined in a meaningful way. There are lots of opinions on it out there. Here’s one now.

twitterific1

We like Twitter. Want to know what we’re up to? Sign up to follow Chris’ tweets by clicking on his photo here.

Is Online Writing Real Writing?

December 11, 2008

Seth Godin had a really interesting post today about how the Pulitzer Prize committee is finally getting (sort-of) hip to the fact that online writing is making a huge difference in the world – and is, therefore, worthy of being recognized with their fancy-schmancy award. The screwy part is that only writing associated with big outlets will be considered.

The web is a huge place. A lot of the content on it obviously isn’t associated with those big outlets. And a lot of important work is happening outside those big outlets.

Here in GrafiQa Land, a lot of our clients are having great success positioning their businesses or not-for-profits as the leading experts in their fields through business blogs or e-news tools. Some of them have experienced such success that we think they should get an award. I guess it just won’t be the Pulitzer.

Communication 2.0

May 14, 2008

I’ve been thinking today about the curve on which people adopt innovation. Out in front, you have people who are innovation junkies. They are so far ahead of the curve, always knowing what’s in development long before it ever hits the street. By the time the latest software or mobile device or Internet innovation is actually available, it’s already old news to this group. They’re looking ahead to what’s next.

If you can imagine innovation like a wave turning under the surface of the water, the junkies are the ones who are pushed forward far ahead of any visible wave.

Then there are the innovation surfers who zip in and out of the curl, enjoying the thrill of a new toy or a new trick.

Behind them are the folks who miss the first wave, but still manage to catch the next one.

And then there are the people who think they can’t swim, so they stand on the beach and every so often get their toes wet.

When a lot of people hear the words Web 2.0, they start to feel like one of those beach sitters. They’re not quite sure what Web 2.0 is. They think it has something to do with blogs and MySpace. It sounds like a lot of work. So they spread out their beach towels and pull out their romance novels.

Learning new technology can be daunting. But the beauty of Web 2.0 is that it boils down to making things easier and – key for business – more efficient.

Instead of playing phone tag, technology and the web have allowed us to email. Web 2.0 takes it a step farther and allows you to meet in cyberspace – either at the same time or at different times, so everyone is always on the same page.

Sites like Slideshare and Google Docs and others can make the organizational and workflow parts of your life easier, as well as help connect you to like-minded people.

Web 2.0 allows you to not only reach out to your consumers, but allows them to find you. It allows you to have a conversation – a real relationship.

And relationships are increasingly the driver of consumer decisions.

Not every organization or business needs to use every single Web 2.0 application. You have to be smart about it. Look at your overall goals, look at what gets in the way of meeting them, and then look to the Web for the solutions that will make your life easier, make your goals easier to reach and make your time more efficient.

Does your brand inspire a crush?

January 15, 2008

Remember middle school? Sure you do – it was that agonizing few years when everyone was growing too much or too little or just plain wrong. And hairy.

Your body was flooded with hormones and all the itinerant mood swings and cravings and irrational outbursts. It was like being pregnant without all the presents and bed rest.

But there were those kids – the one who glided effortlessly through adolescence. His hair was always perfect. She was funny and self-assured. They set the standard for successful Life in Middle School. And with an intoxicating mixture of admiration and envy, the rest of us all harbored crushes on them.

What does this have to do with marketing?

The other day, I was doing some research online and came across a business site that made me weak in the knees.

They had me from the About Page, which was far different than many business pages you find online. Instead of the usual chest-beating of “Who We Are,” “What We Do,” “Why We’re Better,” this page told me “Your needs are important,” “Here’s how we can help,” “These are the ways your life will improve.”

I love it when a business talks about me.

I also love it when a business shows personality, which this particular site did extremely well by inviting conversation and actually participating in that conversation via the company blog.

I didn’t just want to hire this company – I wanted to hang out with it. I wanted to be invited to its birthday party at the skating rink.

That’s a brand crush, and if your brand isn’t crushworthy to your audience, you’ll just get lost in the crowd.

Blogging for Business

January 2, 2008

Below is a story from the New York Times about Blogging which I found interesting and demonstrates how blogging can make a significant difference for organizations – especially service organizations. – c


Blogging’s a low-cost, high return marketing tool

December 27, 2007
Shifting Careers
TO its true believers at small businesses, it is a low-cost, high-return tool that can handle marketing and public relations, raise the company profile and build the brand.That tool is blogging, though small businesses with blogs are still a distinct minority. A recent American Express survey found that only 5 percent of businesses with fewer than 100 employees have blogs. Other experts put the number slightly higher.But while blogs may be useful to many more small businesses, even blogging experts do not recommend it for the majority.Guy Kawasaki, a serial entrepreneur, managing partner of Garage Technology Ventures and a prolific blogger, put it this way: “If you’re a clothing manufacturer or a restaurant, blogging is probably not as high on your list as making good food or good clothes.”Blogging requires a large time commitment and some writing skills, which not every small business has on hand.

But some companies are suited to blogging. The most obvious candidates, said Aliza Sherman Risdahl, author of “The Everything Blogging Book” (Adams Media 2006), are consultants. “They are experts in their fields and are in the business of telling people what to do.”

For other companies, Ms. Risdahl said, it can be challenging to find a legitimate reason for blogging unless the sector served has a steep learning curve (like wine), a lifestyle associated with certain products or service (like camping gear or pet products) or a social mission (like improving the environment or donating a portion of revenues to charity).

Even in those niches, Ms. Risdahl said that companies need to focus on a strategy for their blogging and figure out if they have enough to say.

“As a consultant, blogging clearly helps you get hired,” she said. “If you are selling a product, you have to be much more creative because people don’t want to read a commercial.”

Sarah E. Endline, chief executive of sweetriot, which makes organic chocolate snacks, said she started blogging a few months before starting her company in 2005 to give people a behind-the-scenes look at the business.

The kind of transparency is a popular reason for blogging, particularly for companies that want to be identified as mission-oriented or socially responsible.

A typical post on sweetriot’s blog described the arrival of the company’s first cacao shipment from South America and how Ms. Endline met the truck on Labor Day weekend after it passed through customs at Kennedy International Airport.

She wrote about climbing aboard to inspect the goods and then praised the owner of Gateway trucking company, who helped her sort through the boxes so that she could examine the product.

“At sweetriot we don’t use the word ‘vendors’ as we believe it is about partnership with anyone with whom we work,” she wrote.

For companies in the technology sector, having a blog is pretty much expected. Still, Tony Stubblebine, the founder and chief executive of CrowdVine, a company that builds social networks for conferences, said that one of his main reasons for blogging is to show that his business model is different from the typical technology start-up.

“Everyone in Silicon Valley is focused on venture capital funding and having an exit strategy,” he said. “Because I’m not focused on raising money, I can focus on my customers, since they aren’t a stepping stone to some acquisition or I.P.O.”

He added: “I’m trying to create a community of help for small Internet businesses like mine. My blogging philosophy is like the open source model in software. It’s sort of a hippie concept. If I can help other people, it’s personally rewarding. And those people will likely pay it back in some ways.”

Mr. Stubblebine said he gets new customers largely by word of mouth, and he uses the blog as a way to share news with friends and people who wield influence in his industry as well as a reference check for customers. “That’s why I cover the growth of the company.”

David Harlow, a lawyer and health care consultant in Boston, said he started his blog, HealthBlawg, as a way of marketing himself after he left a large law firm and opened his own practice. Besides, he said, blogging was easy to get started and the technology was straightforward.

Now, after about two years of blogging, Mr. Harlow said he was pleased with the results. He gets about 200 to 300 visits a day, he said. He has also become a source for publications looking for commentary on regulatory issues in the health care field and has even gained a few clients because of the blog. In addition, he has formed relationships with other legal bloggers (who call themselves blawgers) and consultants around the country.

Many small business bloggers achieve their goals even if only a handful or a few hundred people read their blogs. But some companies aim much higher.

Denali Flavors, an ice cream manufacturing company in Michigan that licenses its flavors to other stores, for example, is a small company with a limited ad budget. It decided to use a series of blogs to build brand awareness for Moose Tracks, its most popular flavor of ice cream.

John Nardini, who runs marketing for Denali and is responsible for the company’s blogs, said he has experimented over the last few years with different types of blogs to see which would generate the most traffic. One blog followed a Denali-sponsored bicycle team that was raising money for an orphanage in Latvia. Another tracked the whereabouts of a Moose character that would show up at famous landmarks around the country.

But by far the most successful blog, in terms of traffic, turned out to be Free Money Finance, a blog that has nothing to do with Denali’s business. Mr. Nardini’s plan was to create a blog with so much traffic that it could serve as an independent media outlet owned by Denali Flavors, where the company could be the sole sponsor and advertiser.

He chose personal finance because it is a popular search category on the Web and because he knew he would not tire of posting about it. And post he does, about five times each weekday.

He uses free tools like Google Analytics and Site Meter to understand how people are finding the site and which key words are working. Free Money Finance receives about 4,500 visits a day and each visitor views about two pages, which means they see two ads for Moose Tracks ice cream. The effort costs about $400 a year, excluding Mr. Nardini’s salary.

The site also accepts advertising, which earns the company about $30,000 to $40,000 a year, all of which Denali donates to charity. “We run ads because it legitimizes the site; it’s really not about the money,” Mr. Nardini said. “We’re hoping people will go into Pathmark, see the Moose Tracks logo and say, ‘Hey, I just saw that on the Web site I go to every day.’ ”

By MARCI ALBOHER

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/27/business/smallbusiness/27sbiz.html?_r=1&ref=smallbusiness&oref=slogin

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.