Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blogs are for Companies also

One thing about a good blog is that it is personal. So how does this apply to business? First of all blogs being personal can portray to the reader sense of personal touch which is very important in today’s environment where service is so important.

Blogs can also give you insight into your clients’ attitudes and behaviors that you probably would not gain from a survey.

Blogs can also extend your company and brand personality. Distinguish yourself by writing with an unique voice that is welcoming, fun, somewhat entertaining, always being informative.

Keep your blog low-profile but have links to your company sites. Do NOT make your blog a get in your face sales piece but tell your viewers about opportunities for sales and discounts.
Blogging should be a major part of your marketing program. Some lessons learned from other companies that successfully use blogs:

Give it time – creating your blog page, developing a blog strategy, and keeping up with your postings takes time – but it is worth it. As a blog author you need to be active in the blogosphere. When we say that it takes time that also means that your blog will not produce results over night.

The Golden Rule Applies – Write your blog just as you would want someone to write about you. It does not mean not to be truthful and/or controversial. Just review the voice of the blog before you finally post it. Remember your blog is a representative of your brand.

As we mentioned, blogs should have a personal touch. Thus it becomes very obvious if you are not knowledgeable or passionate about what you blog. Don’t fake it.

Continue improving your blog by increasing your participation in the blogosphere and staying with the basics of what makes a good blog.

If you have any other examples or suggestions on how you use your blog for your company, please share them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I am a blogging but not a seeing. . .

Now that you finally have taken the leap and jointed the world of blogging how do I become part of the blogosphere. In other words, once you have created your blog and started posting blogs on a regular basis, how do I let people know about your blog? Remember: It takes time for a blog to become established, accepted, and frequently visited.

The following are some techniques you can use to help “get the word out about your blog”.
  1. Create a blogroll. This is a list of related blogs and site on the same subject. You can place your blog roll in your blog and also on your web site. This helps establish your community affiliation. It states that for a given topic or profession your blog is relevant.
  2. Comment within other links and include in your comment a link back to your own blog.
  3. Social media Link on Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, and others.
  4. Include links on your own web site and email signature blocks
  5. Use trackbacks – acknowledgement tool that lets other bloggers know that you have mentioned them and are sharing information
  6. Most important tool for blog-distribution is RSS. A RSS enables those following your blog to be instantly informed when you update your site.
  7. FeedBlitz and FeedBurner(owned by google) are services to help you establish a RSS for your blog
  8. End your blog posts with open-ended questions. Ask for feedback.
  9. List in a blog directory – Blogs are rated by popularity in blog banks. Top places to submit your blog (also search for other blogs) are: Technorati (www.technorati.com), Google Blog Search (blogsearch.google.com), Blogarama (www.blogarama.com), and BlogPulse(www.blogpulse.com - These directories categorize blogs by topic.
  10. Guest Blogging – invite others to post on your blog
These are just a few of the ways you can gt people to know about your blog. If you have any other suggestions and recommendations please share them with us.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blog – No not a 50’s B-Monster Movie

It is known as a blog not the “Blob”. There are many different approachs to creating a blog or even describing the act of blogging – posting a blog or comments to a posted blog. Think of it as a type of journaling. You may also think of it as an on-line newspaper or magazine of opinions and interactive comments.

Blogs have the greatest effect on business communications. As it relates to New Media Marketing, they are the most direct to-way online communication vehicle used in today’s business environment. Consumers today do not want a monologue. They want conversation and that is exactly what a blog does.

Just as any other marketing tool, blogs must have a specific target audience to be successful.
Remember: Because of the nature of blogs they are the key to building your community of buyers. Your audience, who may not normally have the chance of communicating with each other, can use a blog to do exactly that. Thus they can not only communicate with a business owner but also with each other. To ignore this is ignoring how people use electronic communications.

Working with clients and New Media Marketing, the blog is often the most difficult to convince them of and yet the most important and critical. Some of the reasons used for not blogging:
  • Fear
  • Ignorance
  • Lack of leadership (agents of change)
  • Lazy
  • Insecure
  • Belief that it does not apply to their industry (this demonstrates a total lack of what is happening in the world today or misplaced sense of knowing better than your customer)
Blogs also permit you to not only listen to your targeted audience but also to communicate with them in an informal manner. Many entrepreneurs are using blogs to introduce their new concept or enterprise.

Some people do not blog because they do not want return comments. In today’s environment that is “burying your head in the sand”. With that attitude or fear, you might as well raise the surrender flag and prepare to close your doors.

There is one simple rule for a blog: make it relevant and update frequently. A good rule of thumb is to blog at least twice a week. One of the great things about blogging is that it is an excellent platform to stir the pot, kick the ant hill, stimulate thought. Just remember to be interesting and not offensive.

Some people just cannot blog, it is not in them. Many in this situation have others create their blog. It is no different then having a writer create your text/copy for other marketing collateral. Several of our clients retain us to write their blogs. It is also acceptable to get personal just keep your professionalism.

And finally, if you build a successful blog site, you can actually create revenue through such programs as Google’s AdSense.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Search Engine Optimization – Getting Noticed

Search Engine Optimization (known as SEO) is and is not easy to obtain. A simple way to describe SEO is where will your web site listing appear if someone was looking for your products/services utilizing a search engine query usually through Google or Yahoo. Your position in these queries is also referred to as ranking.

Why is this important? Most purchase selections are made from the top 3-5 sites listed. You can "buy" your way to a higher ranking utilizing pay-per-click/sponsor links or you can optimize your site by building and incorporating certain rules. This is often referred to as organic SEO. Each search engine has developed a set of algorithms they have developed that decides where a site is positioned (ranked). Certain aspects of your web can include approaches that are acceptable and recommended by the search engines - known as white hat organic SEO. There are also tricks that one can use to try and outsmart the search engine algorithms - black hat SEO. Note: if caught and eventually one is, you can be temporarily or permanently black listed by the search engine.

No one actually knows the exact algorithms used. These are closely held secrets but the search engines and companies offering web site SEO as a service do have a set of guidelines. Note: Often what achieves higher ranking may be in conflict with a highly designed rich media site.

When attempting to achieve high ranking, many different parts of your site must be considered:
  • Web site code
  • Web site theme
  • Web site structure
  • Internal links
  • Alt Tags
  • Header Tags
  • Inward links
  • Content
  • Meta data
  • Keywords
The whole goal is to establish relevance in all aspects of your site.

I will make the statement that there no longer is such a thing as SEO. What is required is an integrated marking program built around a well-designed site. SEO is one of the first steps.

Some say there are more than 118 factors utilized by the Google algorithms. Here are some basics to consider. The percentage shows the relative importance.
  • Incoming Text of Links (2.3% & up) - phrasing, terms, order, and length of incoming link -anchor text
  • Title Tag (2.3%)
  • Keyword Use in Document Text (2.2%)
  • Links to Document from Site Internal Pages (2.1%)
  • Primary Subject Matter of Site (2.1%)
  • External Links to Linking Pages (2.0%)
  • Links Popularity of Site in Topical community (2.0%)
  • Global Link Popularity of Site (1.9%)
  • Keyword Spamming (1.9%)
The above accounts for 21% of ranking. Some other techniques are:
  • Keyword Placement in the
  • Using header tags to emphasize keywords
  • Naming website and pages with keywords
  • Incorporating keywords into body text
There is no way one can cover the topic of SEO in a single blog. These are just some considerations one can take immediately. Remember: the web world is constantly changing. It is no longer about having your site as a destination but more importantly, distributing your site outward.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Widgets, Wikis, Dashboards - What the heck are you talking about

Took a few days off to visit my son and 8 grandkids in Chicago – but am now back. This blog takes a side step to cover topics that are surfacing more frequently. They are widgets, wikis, and dashboards. These tools are very effective if and when used properly.


Definition: A widget is anything that can be embedded within a page of HTML, i.e. a web page. A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Generally widgets are originated by third parties, though they can be home made. (Wikipedia)

Basically it is a mini-web application that you place onto a web page, desktop, blog, or social profile that stream information to the viewer usually containing some visual information. The widget becomes very valuable if it provides relevant information that someone can use daily. For example if you had an airline web site, you may have a widget on your home page that would provide visual in-flight information for a given flight.

Widgets are here to stay and should be considered for your web site or blog.
  • Do not contain just a collection of titles and hyperlinks – this is no more than another web page.
  • Display information tailored to the user
  • User should be able to glance at
  • Scrolling titles to breaking news, videos that play inside the widget are acceptable examples

Widgets can also be used to support customers. A widget that puts a subject matter expert directly in touch with a customer to answer questions is a viable widget example. Widgets are also used to help provide added value during document approval processes.


Definition: A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content (excluding blocked users), using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. (Wikipedia)

Basically it is software that enables visitors to create and edit Web page content using their web browser. Wikis are like web sites but are more interactive. Note: when using wikis there is a risk that someone may add content that is not relevant or inaccurate.

A blog is similar to a daily journal that others can comment on. A wiki is also participative but its end result is a single entry that reflects a collective consensus.

For both widgets and wikis remember content is king – must be new and relevant.


Dashboards are at the opposite new of a New Media Marketing process. They are instruments that one uses to monitor metrics to measure your program. We will cover these metrics in detail toward the end of this blog series but since it is one of those new words that frequently appear, it is a good idea to at least understand what the word means.

There are several definitions and uses of dashboards. We are referring to a measurement dashboard. Think of it being a report card – a standardized data presentation that provides information reporting on the metrics you use to determine the effectiveness of your business process.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Web Speech – How to say it on the web

Since your web site increasingly becomes a hub for your marketing program, what you say and how you say it is extremely important. One of the original assumptions of New Media Marketing (NMM) is that we still buy from people we know, like, and trust.

At the studio we believe that it is important that your web site convey values that are important to your organization and industry. They go beyond the basic ones of quality, reliability, customer service, professionalism, etc. Ours are: talent, creativity, design, and great stories (t • C • D • G •).

Mission and Vision statements have been around for a long time. Because of this, we often think that they must not be hip or in vogue. You can not be so far from the truth. Mission tells the world who we are and vision announces where we are going.

Compelling Content - verbal
The main purpose is to address the visitors needs and wants; their stereotypes and emotions. (customerology psychographics – remember focus, targeted audiences).
As a storyteller I will not be able to get through this series of blogs without telling this story (analogy) so we might as well do it here. It is the key to everything we are addressing. I call it my Grass Lawn story.

“Lets say that I manufacture grass seed. Over the years my engineers have the developed the best grass seed ever produced – needs hardly any watering, birds do not like its taste, grows deep roots, not effected by weather, and produces the greenest grass. We have this technological process that no one else can even come close to replicate. Visit are labs and you will see the investment in equipment and knowledge we have put into this product. The problem is as a consumer I really do NOT care. I do not care how you do it just make sure that I have minimal lawn maintenance and yet have the best looking lawn in the neighborhood.”

You see as founders and entrepreneurs we are very proud of our product specifications but the buyer is ONLY interested in benefits. Make sure your site benefits oriented not specifications oriented.

Some other tips:
• When offering solutions and advice opt for conversational writing style.
• Address directly using ‘you” instead of customer, client, patient, etc.
• Modifiers actually tend to dilute and weaken what you are saying
• In all cases remain professional
• Use headlines and sub titles to guide readers
• Again stay focused on your audience with benefits, results, and solutions.

Compelling Content – Nonverbal

Color: If you have read any of the studios’ past ezines, you have heard how important color is. Color is often the most nonverbal element of your site. Put bluntly – we do not care what your favorite color is, we are interested in what color provokes the emotions we want created to cause a response to a call-to-action. Just like specs versus benefits, concern is not about you, it is about the buyer.

Logos and Header: Your site should protect and foster your brand. Your top header is extremely important. Have a professional design a header that incorporates your log, tag line, and appropriate color schema.

Images: The web is 70% visual so make visually appealing. Images can help. Make sure that the image files should be optimized for fast browser loading. They should also be part of telling your story. The wrong image could just as easily make your site look totally unprofessional and “mom-and-pop”

Special Effects and Rich Media: When used properly, they have their place. Some will say for SEO considerations – no flash others will say that as a society we are custom to special effects. As most things in life, the answer lays somewhere in the middle. Pure technicians will only do what can be produced by code and pure graphics designers will over-kill with eye-candy. Find the proper balance. Branching to pages that load electronic presentations, video, etc. should be considered for providing additional information.

Navigation –Extremely important both in extent and placement. In recent years, placement has moved to the upper center and gone from an extended list of buttons to more of a hierarchy of information. A good rule of thumb is a main nav bar with around seven buttons. Latest studies have shown that males use the web to surf and females use the web for research. Too complicated navigation, males will opt out.

Lena Claxton and Alison Woo, in their excellent overview book How to Say it: Marketing with New Media, Prentice Hall provides a good checklist.
• Refine your home page copy – it is the first impression of your company
• Write conversationally – use words to convey the desired emotion
• Choose the right color
• Use the correct pronoun
• Communicate your credibility
• Use language that positions you as an expert
• Focus on benefits and results
• Use a variety of promotional methods to promote your business

And don’ts:
• Don’t use corporate speak
• Don’t use passive language
• Don’t focus on your own gains
• Don’t lose track of the customer
• Don’t use multiple animations on your home page

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What makes a good web site?

On one hand a simple question and on the other not so simple. Lets look at the not-so-simple answer first. Ask 10 people and you will get 11 different answers. At the studios, we consider three major areas:
  • Design – web is a visual media. It needs to look good, easy to navigate and holds the viewers interest. You need to balance eye-candy, flash and rich media with the site being too plain with no ability to grab attention. Remember your site often produces “first impressions.”
  • Functionality – That is does it do what it is suppose to do functionally. No broken links (pressing on a button that goes to a page that does not exist), no error messages, loads in a reasonable time-frame, works on multiple browsers, calculations, branches, etc. all work.
  • Marketed – Having a nice looking, working site and no one visits it or does not support your marketing program is like an un-charted island that no one knows about.

The simple answer is:
  • Does it do what it is suppose to?
  • Does it help expand and protect your brand?
  • Present a good first impression?
  • Support your marketing program? and
  • Helps bring in more revenue (or at least some call to action).

If it does these five things, by definition, it is a good web site.

Another question often asked is template vs custom. Bottom line is cost. However, a large percentage of our web work is for clients moving away from an existing template:
  • Difficult to change
  • Found out they do not own their site
  • Starting to look like everyone else using the same template.
“If you are different and unique – that is why you rather then your completion – then why are you spending so much effort to look like everyone else?”

At t • C • D • G • Studios, we provide a detailed web site audit that covers the three major areas of design, functionality, and marketed. Below is a short list of the audit areas:
Part I: Design elements
First Impression:
• Colors
• Logo/Branding
• Header Images
• Typography
• Unprofessional items
• Spelling and Grammar
• Overall professional appearance

• Well-defined purpose
• Clarity

• Smooth transitions
• Use of active white space
• Page consistency
• Other:

Part II: Usability/Functionality
• Load time
• Error messages
• Amount of advertisements
• Navigation
• Accessibility
• Hyperlinks
• Page organization
• Use of CSS
• Use of pop-ups and pop-unders
• Other

Part III: Marketing
• Relevancy words phrases for page/file names, alt tags, header tags, meta areas
• Do-nots

New Media, Web 2.0 and Social Marketing
• Associations
• Opt-in registration
• Collaboration
• Ezine and email links
• Articles and other content
• Social Media servers

Your web site is one of the most important assets of your business. It needs to be right. Since it serves a broad range of purposes, there are many aspects that must be considered. You need a web site – but do it right. A bad site can actually hurt your business a good site will help your business.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What is the number of your Web?

This blog starts part B of the 31-blog series of New Media Marketing (NMM). Over the next few blogs, we will be addressing one’s web site as the foundation and starting point for a NMM program. Instead of starting with what makes a good site or how should you say it on a web or some of the more standard questions concerning web sites (we will address these topics in subsequent blogs). It is important to realize that when we are talking about web sites for NMM, we are concerned with certain characteristics of the site. Did you know?
  • Only 40% of companies with 100 or less employees still do not have a web site. The web is more often then not, the first place a potential client will go to validate your business or receive their first introduction to your products and services.
  • It has not been just an electronic equivalence of the yellow pages for a long time.
  • Without online presence your business can be considered nonexistent.
  • For many successful organizations it is an essential lead-generating tool
  • It is the stage to build your brand.
I mention this for many companies are implementing an obsolete approach when they finally decide to have a web site . I am not talking about its look or functionality. Ask yourself what category web site does your existing site fall into. What I am talking about is the fact that today our web sites should be or moving toward Web 2.0. The following definitions also highlight the fact that the web world is evolving, for technology continues to impact marketing effectiveness.
  • Web 1.0: Access information, purchase online
  • Web 2.0: Share and collaborate
  • Web 3.0: Experience, participate, and co-create
Most sites today are Web 1.0 sites - that is the site provides the customers with information and ability to purchase and/or register on-line. Successful organizations realized that with today’s customers that is not enough. Thus Web 2.0 enters the scene. It is where all web sites should be moving. Web 2.0 pushes sharing and collaborating, whether that is product reviews or asking for help on how to market a product. Web 3.0 is a world of visual experiences with the goal that the user is an actual participant and co-creator - the user is actually immersed in the experience. Do not make the mistake of thinking that Web 3.0 is far in the future, some companies have already made the move toward Web 3.0. Web 3.0 enables the web 2.0 communities to come alive.

A good way to compare web 1.0 and web 2.0 is that web 1.0 is read only and web 2.0 is read-write. Web 1.0 was somewhat passive, with users downloading information. Web 2.0 encourages users to be more involved by uploading information to the web. It no long is about destination but distribution. You no long only interested in having users come to your destination but how do you distribute your site outward.

Your web site should be designed to support other community-building platforms and also be supported by them. Your web site participates in other web building servers and social media sites. Your web site is not only the hub for information but also the hub to foster and support your NMM vehicles such as your blog, pod casts, ezines, email, etc. A prime example but a very simple one is not only does your contact information need to be on each web site page (providing information) but also opt-in form (becoming part of your business’s electronic community) or your site to have the ability to post and archive articles as a read more location for articles presented in your ezine, etc.

As you move toward web 2.0, realize that you do not need to utilize all vehicles that it offers. The following is a table of some of your options (selection depends on your target market – staying focused)

• Blogging
• Podcasting
• Online video
• Videocasting

• Social networking
• Social tagging
• User ranking and rating
• Online user groups
• Social Bookmarking

• Comparison shopping engines
• Wikis

Trial environments
• Picture/video sharing
• Community development projects
• Collaboration software

Setting agendas
• Content syndication engines
• Content distribution via social networks
• Person to person viral marketing

So back to the original question. What number is your web site?
0 – No excuse for not having one.
1 – Average but not good start moving it to web 2.0
2 – Good but do not get too comfortable, web 3.0 is coming
3 – Great and like me anxious to see what web 4.0 brings (you can count on there being a web 4.0 and with today’s accelerated technology, it will be here in a blink of a marketer’s eye.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Only if you have Permission

When utilizing New Media Marketing (NMM) there are three basic tenets that must be constantly considered:

Permission - do you have permission to send this to me?
Relevance – is your message and/or content relevant to my needs and wants?
Value – does your content provide value? does it help me with some aspect of my business?

Of all the topics that are being addressed over this 31 blog series, these three questions are paramount and need to be asked before any e-communications you originate. The first is important for a very simple reason – it is the law. The CAN-SPAM of 2003 requires one to have permission to send an e-communications especially when it comes to email. The topic of permission is usually centered around opt-in and opt-outs.

First some definitions:
Opt-in: A specific proactive request by an individual email recipient to have their own email address placed on a specific mailing list.
Opt-out: A request to remove an email address from a specific list or from all lists operated by a single owner.
Spam: Popular name for unsolicited commercial email. However, some email recipients define spam as any email they no longer want to receive, even if it comes from a mailing list they joined voluntarily.

Basically, asking contacts for their email and permission to send them information needs to become part of your business culture. Remember: Over 74% of Americans now communicate electronically.

Step 1: Make sure that you have an opt-in form on all your electronic media to include:
• On every page of your web site
• In your email-signature
• On your blog
• Personal Web
• Banner ads and online advertising
• Online directories

Step 2: Gather essential information:
• Don’t ask for too much information
• Don’t ask for too little information
• Address validation – include a script that checks for syntax errors upon submission

Opt-in request form fields – minimum
• First Name
• Last Name
• Email address

Optional fields:
• Secondary email address
• Frequency – how often they wish to be contacted
• Demographics
• Interest/Preferences

Step 3: Use incentives to get viewers to opt-in
Whenever possible, include some type of information product that is relevant and can help the viewer you want to opt-in. Some examples are:
• Tip of the week
• Free white paper
• Promote special sales
• Give tips to executives and professionals
• Informational article
• Location-specific guide
• Free audio
• Offer an e-book

Step 4: Request opt-in in person:
• Exchange business cards
• Guess book on store counter
• Basket for business cards at events/seminars/shows
• Train employees to take down customer information

Step 5: Use print to collect information
• Send postcard offering an incentive to return card with email address
• Include opt-in incentive as part of print advertising
• Add opt-in incentive t back of your business card
• Utilize a domain name and place in your print advertising such as www.joinouremailjust anexample.com

WRITE THIS DOWN: Opt-in requests and awareness has to become part of your standard operations.

This completes Part 1 - next week is dedicated to the web.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Branding – Still the Key Success Factor

This is the fifth blog in the New Media Marketing (NMM) series. So you may ask - when will we read about actual helpful hints concerning my web site, blog e-zine, etc. They are coming BUT without the proper background of target knowledge, content messages, branding, and actually building relationships, NMM quickly becomes an exercise in ”playing’ with the new media. As business people we do not have time to just play.

Your brand is still one of your most important assets and must be both properly used and protected in any and all marketing campaigns. Let’s visit the concept of brand quickly before moving on. The following story was found in Email Marketing by Jeanniey Mullen and David Daniels, Wiley Publishing.

“How Strong Is a Brand? A Lesson from History, Matey – As Captain John Smith looked out the starboard side of his ship, he felt his heart beating faster. Land! He saw land! What a phenomenal feeling He knew would be a matter of days before he could see his baby daughter again. Captain John Smith turned and walked to the other side of the ship. As ne looked out the port side, he felt his heart beating faster. But this time it was for a very different reason. This is what he saw – a black flag with skull and cross bones. No words, no tag lines, not a sound – just a brand image. This image very quickly registered in the captain’s head: death and destruction. The brand of the pirate was very clear: - we are here to kill and rob you. We will succeed, and with every success our brand will grow stronger.”

That is the power of a brand. Your brand will set into place certain beliefs, opinions, and assumptions about your company and brand. Your brand and company image are critical to your success. A strong brand will generate a sense of trust in your customer/client. This is extremely important for e-based processes where security and privacy are a concern. As we had discussed, potential customers are under time pressure, thus we have only a limited amount of time together their attention. Your brand, coupled with your elevator speech helps tell what your business is about very succinctly and in a meaningful matter.

Take into account the following three tenets:
  • Businesses no longer control customer’s decisions, customers do.
  • Longer companies refuse to accept the importance of customer dialog (two-way communications), do not utilize new technology to foster collaboration, will actually alienate and drive away potential clients
  • Where customers now control conversations (satisfied clients tell three friends and angry ones tell 3,000 – you must achieve credibility throughout all aspects of your marketing program.)
To summarize the above – smart brands constantly evaluate customer wants and needs (psychographics) by listening all the time.

So Master Story Teller what is the bottom line? Keeping the design elements, the look, personality of your messages similar or identical over time strengthens branding, reinforces each of your messages, and makes your next message even more impactful to your audience.

Branding makes each NMM message and posting more inviting and recognizable to your targeted audience. They know that the message comes from a trusted and familiar source.

As a beginning make sure that each message you send or post has the following:
• Graphics and logos that are unique to your company
• Text and fonts that you use to differentiate your product/service
• Color schemas used consistently to give your company its identity.
• Also start matching your print communications with your e-based communications.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Short but Sweet - Creating content for your Marketing Program

The topic of creating content for your New Media Marketing (NMM) program is one that we will continue to revisit as we take a closer look at each of the NMM vehicles (i.e. web, blog, e-zines, e-mail, podcasts, social media)

Write this down and memorize it:

Your message must be condensed, focused, relevant, and succinct for it to be effective. Your readers are time starved. They are much more savvy, less conservative and more edgy, and extremely impatient. You only have a small window of time to catch their attention and keep it. Add to that your communications content must connect with them emotionally - that is connecting with their needs and wants.

Second thing to write down and memorize is: Short, focused messages are one of the keys to successful marketing campaigns but the shorter the message, the more impactful but the more difficult to create. The Gettysburg Address is a classic example of a powerful message of great important and said in only a few statements.

The third tip to remember: Every marketing piece, every web page, every e-zine and article, every blog should have one key message. When asked to critique or edit media copy, the first question I ask, even before reading, is " What is the message? Once I hear more than one or two messages, I say "stop"!

Thus enters the "elevator" speech onto the stage. Everyone has heard of the concept of an elevator speech. I enter an elevator and my potential client is on the elevator. I have two minutes before the elevator reaches the top floor and that is the only time I have to convince my potential clients why they need my product/service and why I am the best choice among my competition. Do not confuse an elevator speech with your Mission/Vision Statements or your Branding North Star Statement.

For impact, the following formula is a simple place to start creating your Elevator Speech (the first step to creating content): what (verb), whom (ideal customer or client), and how (key benefits).
  1. What do I do?
  2. Whom do I serve?
  3. How do I specifically benefit the customer?

The above three elements are also steps in developing targeted audiences (read yesterday's blog). A word on the third bullet. Do not confuse benefits with specifications. Owners, inventors, and entrepreneurs are so involved with the behind-the-scenes characteristics of their product that they never address benefits to the client. Like it or not, most of us do not care how it works just what does it do for me. Visit your existing marketing text (copy) and see how much is specifications and how much addresses benefits to the reader.

Once you have statements developed for the above three sentences, then combine them into a smooth reading statement.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Do not just throw jello against the wall - Targeting your audience

New Media Marketing is one of several strategies you should use as part of your integrated marketing program. Thus it still requires following certain basic marketing and sales principles. New Media Marketing is NOT for you if you practice one of the following proven-to-fail-every-time marketing strategies:
  1. Try everything as if you are throwing jello against a wall hoping that something sticks or
  2. Follow Einstein's Definition of Insanity - repeating the same failed process hoping that new outcome will occur next time.
Rule #1: Define your target audience. Often your marketing objectives go unachieved simply because your audience is not able or willing to help you achieve those objectives.
Any successful marketing program, new or old, must include you knowing and targeting your audience. Often during our Branding workshops, we ask the client team who are their targeted audience. If the answer is everyone - our response is "so you really do not know who you are targeting to sell to". Even in the direct mail universe, there is a saying - "junk mail is really good mail sent to the wrong person."

Rule #2: The more you are able to sub-define your targeted audience, the more successful your marketing strategies will be.
Even with you targeted list, you need to be able to sub-target to who, what, and how you communicate with them. If you were sending Christmas Cards, to some you would send out a generic Happy Holiday card, to some a Christmas Card, others a card with a short message, and to others a family newsletter of what has happened during the past year to keep friends up-to-date. KNOW and target your audience. Note: what we are moving toward is the topic of relevance that we will cover in detail in a subsequent blog.

Rule #3: First know who you are and who you are not
Another question we frequently ask our clients is the who and what of their business. This often takes the longest to answer. Here are four basic questions to ask yourself to help answer this all important question.
  1. Who has a need (problem) or want that my product/service can solve or fulfill?
  2. What type of customer/client do I like to work with? (do not just say someone with money)
  3. Is this group easy for me to communicate with? (one of NMM's benefits is that it makes it easier and most cost-effective to communicate with a larger segment of your targeted audience)
  4. Can this target afford my products/services?
  5. Are there enough buyers in my targeted audience to sustain my business?

Rule #4: Know your targets demographics - who are they?
Some basic demographic questions (so simple but we often cannot answer - and again the wrong answer is everyone). Depending on if you are business-to-consumer (BtC) or business-to-business (BtB), your answers will be different. In BtC will be the consumer in BtB will be the decision maker.
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Average income/revenue
  • Title/position of buyer/decision maker
  • Georgraphic limitations
  • What are their interests?
  • Any cultural/ethnic considerations?
  • What do they buy and how?

Rule #5: Know your targeted audience psychographics - how do they feel!
This is even more important than demographics. 80% of all purchasing decisions are emotionally based:
  • Needs - what problem do they really need a solution for
  • Wants - do not make the mistake of confusing needs and wants - our clients will often do that for us
  • Stereotypes - every client/customer has a preconceived idea about you, your industry, your organizations, or product/service. Effective marketing campaigns often are directed toward changing or re-enforcing these stereo types and we all have them (think of the many used car salesperson or lawyer jokes that exist in the marketplace)
  • Emotions - what specific emotions do clients often exhibit or you want to invoke - remember 80% of buying decision is emotionally based.
Once we follow these five basic rules, we can then communicate to the right audience, creating the succinct marketing message. Thus the topic for our next blog (Blog #4 in this New Media Marketing series) - Creating the Right Content (to be posted Tuesday, March 10)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just Seven Clicks Away

Even though New Media Marketing utilizes new technology, the rationale behind it is based on established and proven buying psychology that has been used for decades. Fifty years ago when there were neighborhood banks, drug stores, hardware stores, gas stations, etc. people would walk into one of these establishments and readily buy something from that store.

FACT: We still do business with people we know, like and trust.
Our marketing programs should be geared to build a community of people who are loyal to our company and products/services.

FACT: We need to create a community of buyers who constantly want what you have to offer in a timely fashion.
NMM techniques are designed to build your Community of Buyers.
Review your customer/client list and see who are really in your community of buyers - people who are loyal to you and will buy only from you in a timely manner.

FACT: Even past client relationships must be maintained or they will drift from your community of buyers.

So what is this Seven click away "stuff"?

FACT: In today's market it takes on an average of seven communications, with a prospect to get them into your community of buyers.

Phone calls, visits/meetings, or mailings are both time-consuming and costly. Remember our society is time-starved and there is a limit to how many people we can see or call; but with today's technology we cannot only communicate but more importantly dialogue with a larger audience through our web site, email, blogs, ezine, podcasts, social media, etc.

FACT: There are over 23 million people in the United States who actively communicate on-line and that number is growing.

FACT: Every time someone clicks to visit your web site, clicks to read your blog, clicks to open an email, clicks to download a podcast, etc. adds to one of those seven communications required to get them into your Community of Buyers.

FACT: The more they visit, read, open, respond, or communicate back:
  • Increases probability they will open your next communications
  • Increases probability that they will select you
  • Decreases time to make a decision
  • Decreases number of required contacts to closure
  • Increases number of viewers who will pass-along your information to a friend
  • Decreases the probability of opt-ing out (will address in detail in a subsequent blog)
Think of NMM as a series of concentric circles (at least 7) with the middle being your business/organization. The 1st circle consists of your Buying Community. As the circles go out from the center, there are more prospec ts but farther away from buying from you and in a timely fashion. As you communicate out to farther circles with your web, blog, e-zine, email, podcasts, etc., the faster they move toward the center with each movement being faster than the previous.

  1. A viewer hears about your blog and decides to click and read it - Click #1 - (we will present ways to announce your blogs in future blogs of this series)
  2. In your blog you refer to more information and line to your web site - Click #2
  3. The viewer then decides to comment on your blog - Click #3
  4. You respond and they click to read your response - Click #4
  5. You also tell the viewer that you may include more information in your upcoming e-zine. They look for the e-zine (electronic magazine) and they click to open - Click #5
  6. At this poing you have started not only communicating with the viewer but also are dialoging. At the Studios, because of the nature of our servidces, at this point we usually get a phone call requesting an appointment/proposal - Communications #6
  7. This leads to a final discussion and win - Communcations #7

FACT: NMM is a highly message-effective and cost-effective way of carving out a community of buyers from a large pool of potential customers/clients on-line and with ease.


Monday's Blog: Targeting your Audience - The First Step for Any Marketing Campaign

31 Blogs to New Media Marketing - WELCOME

Welcome to our blog series on New Media Marketing. Over the next 31 blogs, I will try to provide a working overview of the various aspects of this subject. Even though New Media Marketing utilizes new technology, its use in your business will be both an art and a science. This is true for most successful marketing programs. The first thing I would like to do is start utilizing the short-cut NMM whenever I refer to the words New Media Marketing. Over 31 blogs, this will shorten my typing efforts.

This first blog (Blog #1) provides some definitions and a road map for the following next blogs. So let's see how Wikipedia defines NMM:

"New Media Marketing is a relatively new concept utilized by businesses in developing an on-line community which allows satisfied customers to congregate and extol the virtues of a particular brand. In most cases, the on-line community includes mechanisms such as blogs, podcasts, message boards, and product reviews, all of which contribute to a transparent forum to post praises, criticisms, questions, and suggestions.

One of the primary arguments to promote New Media Marketing is the premise that traditional advertising is losing its influence on consumers. Backed by statistical evidence demonstrating a growing trend of consumers making purchasing decisions off Internet research and referrals. These advocates strongly adhere to the notion that consumers are more inclined to believe feedback from like-minded peers than corporate marketing verbiage dispersed through traditional television, radio, direct mail, or newspaper advertising."

The bottom line is we all want to boost our business. In today's economy, this also includes cutting costs - but wise sages say that is not a time to cut marketing costs - yet one still needs to cut costs. NMM is the ideal solution for this dilemma. Using the powerful tools of NMM will help separate you from your competition.

NMM's key factors are the same for any successful marketing program today:
  • Time: As business manager, owners, and entrepreneurs, we are constantly struggling to do more with less time. Couple this with the fact that our clients/customers' attention spans are constantly decreasing, and thus demanding simple, straightforward messages. This results in a business environment that is marked by both buyers and sellers who are more knowledgeable, demanding, and impatient every day.
  • What and How we say it: Your marketing messages, how they are crafted and delivered is key factor in all our marketing efforts. Today it is form over function. We no longer dictate content - our clients' needs and wants do.
  • Creating Community: One-way communications is no longer sufficient. Our communications must be two-ways. We must not communicate with clients but must dialog with them. NMM is based on the assumption that building an online community is one of the most important things your business can do.
So what vehicles does NMM utilize? An integrated NMM program utilizes the following:
  • A web 2.0 web site
  • Blogs
  • e-zines (electronic magazines or newsletters)
  • Podcasts
  • Emails
  • Social Media
We will cover the above during this blog series. We should point out that there are things that NMM cannot do:
  • Replace actual and direct physical contact
  • Replace other forms of advertising - since some of your target may not use new technology, other forms of advertising including print cannot be totally abandoned
  • Will not provide instant and immediate gratification - NMM is a process, not a magic pill that one takes and business is successful overnight
The series will consist of the following eight parts:
  1. Introduction - "Seven-Click" model targeting your audience, creating content, power of the brand, and building relationships - the opt-in
  2. WEB - Web 1.0 vs. 2.0, what makes a good web site and audit, how to say it on the web, widgits, wikis, dashboards and other strange sounding things, SEO
  3. BLOG - Blog essentials, telling people about your blog, business applications, and forums
  4. E-zines - e-zines essentials and promoting your e-zine
  5. Podcasts - Podcast essentials and telling your audience about your podcasts
  6. Email - understanding email marketing, types of email, designing email, email list building, spamming
  7. Social Media - intro to social media, personal social networks, business social networks, and social media servies
  8. Other - e-PR and Mobile emailing, tracking your NMM results and summary
Blog #2 of our New Media Marketing Series will be posted Friday, March 6. Topic: "The Seven Click Model" - One of the reasons for NMM's success is the fact that it relies on collaboration. So please comment on the blogs as you read them.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Design - a necessity for success.

In 2000, Times Magazine announced that Function is out; Form is in. In other words, there was a time when our customers and clients were more interested in how it worked then how it looks. Good looking design definitely sways our decision making process. Put simply, a creative design is a necessity for the everyday requirement of bringing your story and brand to life. [visit our site to learn about our studio's approach to design - designnovation]. A good designer will be challenging and often interpreted as pushy or arrogant when in fact it is the designer's commitment to fresh, new, and sometimes unusual solutions - thinking out of the box.

Over the years, we have collected several quotes and expressions from various famous designers. These are posted on our studio's philosophy board [view our board]. The following are just some of these expressions:

"When color is at its richest - form is at its fullest."
"Design is a necessity not a decoration."
"Insanity - repeatedly performing the same process - hoping for a different result."
"If the identity of your brand is not well defined, you may have visibility but no personality."
"There is no curve as beautiful as a rising sales graph."
"Design is more about inspiration and imagination than logic and analysis."