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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Real Word of Mouth Marketing

December 14th, 2006

The Washington Post reported Tuesday about the FTC’s ruling to “Unmask Word-of-Mouth Marketing.” The FTC is on target in my opinion. But the implication that the scams mentioned in the article are somehow representative of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is misleading. The very premise and power behind WOMM is that it’s unbiased and credible. We all know that the traditional advertising spin is often quite the opposite.

As the FTC’s ruling highlights, we’re still going to deal with a segment of society that tries to beat the system. Old marketing habits may die hard, but they won’t last long in this new era of open consumer communication that’s been
enabled largely from technology like blogs. Sony Ericsson, for example, may fool a few people with their shills but they will never build a significant customer-led marketing campaign with such gimmicks. The average consumer can communicate too well now.

Idaho businesses should by no means shy away from WOMM because of this misconstrued portrayal. Like the other WOMM advocates in the Treasure Valley, RisingLine promotes marketing strategies for organizations that have proven
themselves by already developing a contingency of legitimate client advocates. We prefer to use the term customer evangelist to describe WOMM because it emphasizes the element of unsolicited motivation to share a good experience with a friend or acquaintance. A completely different concept than the shenanigans the FTC has associated with WOMM.

The important thing to understand is that true WOMM is simply encouraging honest referrals from friend to friend and it remains the most credible and cost effective means of promotion for any business or product.

Corporate Blogging is Gaining Momentum

December 8th, 2006

Despite all the negative publicity from some pundits on the effectiveness of blogging, the current trend of corporate blogging is gaining momentum. For instance, there are twice as many Fortune 500 companies blogging today as there was a year ago, and I would estimate that number to grow substantially as the need for dynamic Web applications grows.

So why is it that corporations are starting to buy into the blogging trend? I would narrow it down to these basic factors:

– The necessity to edit and update information on the Web instantaneously

– The need to reach out to and engage customers rather than passively addressing them through advertising

– The reality that consumers are more savvy today than a few years ago; and they demand relevant and up-to-date content via the Web

As the blogging phenomenon continues to evolve and progress, the realization that a blog is far more than a rant platform or a personal Web page will bring more companies into the fold. A blog is not simply a tool in which to share personal opinions, but rather a communications device that allows businesses like to reach out to and communicate with targeted audiences.

Articles of Reference:

CEO’s Blogging

Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki

Blogging Myths

Nokia makes the right call with new media

November 30th, 2006

Here’s a great interview of the marketing VP at Nokia that provides credible evidence to the bright future of new media and word of mouth marketing. Not only does this interview shed light on the huge potential power that new media offers, it also stresses that in order to utilize such grassroots efforts, a company has to offer real quality, otherwise the whole effort will backfire. This is one of the beautiful things for all of us about this new era of customer led marketing.

While new media is exciting, we here at RisingLine feel it’s important not to lose balance and forget that other marketing channels still have an important role to play. It’s encouraging to see that a progressive company like Nokia feels the same. It seems there are a lot of advertising agencies that totally discredit new media and grassroots marketing and the few grassroots marketing firms out there can lean to the extreme in their admonition to ditch advertising completely. While the answer as to the advertising/grassroots mix will be different for every business, as a general principle each business needs to plan their comprehensive marketing strategy with careful consideration of both.

To get you started on some fresh multichannel marketing strategy, check out the latest issue of Practical Ecommerce.

Boise State Broncos and Grassroots Marketing

November 22nd, 2006

About a year ago, a handful of rabid Boise State fans, myself included, came together to help our beloved Broncos expand the athletic program via a grassroots effort. The idea originated from the perspective that the university seemed to be reaching out only to white-collar executive types for fund raising and support while the blue-collar average joe fan, like me, was being ignored.

Our committee was formed via an online message board at BroncoCountry.com, a site mainly for the hardcore blue-blooded fan, mainly with the aim to help the athletic department raise funds to expand Bronco Stadium. In our first couple of sessions, we tried to formulate a plan to approach the university to demonstrate 1) we had a legitimate aim to assist rather than scam them, 2) that we were organized and motivated, 3) our innovative ideas for fund raising, and 4) that we were willing to play within their rules.

After about 4 weeks, our group was able to schedule a meeting with the Bronco Athletic Association and the Bronco Athletic Department and we were absolutely blown away by how well our ideas were received. As it turns out, the officials were trying to build an existing electronic funds transfer program (EFT) called HorsePower that was created with the sole purpose of allowing individuals to contribute small funds on a monthly basis to help with summer scholarships for student athletes, facilities maintenance, equipment purchases, Title IX compliance, and other issues pertaining to Bronco Athletics.

After a very productive initial meeting, our small group reconvened and came back with an official agenda and Boise State gave us the green light to head up the promotion of the HorsePower program. The win-win for both sides is that Boise State could now focus their dedicated internal fundraising efforts on corporate sponsorships while HorsePower would be marketed toward the face painted, blue-collar, end zone seated fanatic who would be thrilled to contribute 10 to 20 hard earned bucks per week to his/her beloved Broncos.

Currently, we’re preparing to develop a brochure to distribute at local retail establishments within the greater Boise area. In addition, our committee will propose a referral program for HorsePower and other incentive packages to encourage participation in the EFT program. Also, if you’re a Bronco fan living in Boise, please be sure to ask your local retailer if they have any information on the HorsePower program and if they say no, ask them to contact me for more information – Email Erik.

In all, I am thrilled that Boise State took a chance with our small group of non-university affiliated fans. Since the program is still in its infancy, our grassroots efforts are tough to measure. However, this example should provide a great case study for institutions looking to mobilize a ground level group of advocates.

To conclude, I have personally witnessed the results of grassroots marketing and I’m more than confident the HorsePower program will become a resounding fundraising success. If your company is struggling with creating brand appeal and fostering growth, perhaps it’s time to explore your existing core of advocate customers. Our small group of Bronco fans congregated via an online forum, imagine if your passionate customers could do the same…

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