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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…

Is Blogging Worth the Hassle?

October 20th, 2006

Great question. I guess it depends on what goals you’re trying to achieve. As I continue to consult my stakeholders on the benefits of blogging, the perception seems to be that if the venture doesn’t bring about an immediate return, it’s not worth doing.

As a small business owner, I can definitely empathize with this mentality, since time and money are as valuable as tangible inventory. However, the mindset of blogging shouldn’t be regarded along the same lines as an advertising campaign. If every blogger took the approach of garnering an immediate ROI from a blog, they’d quickly run out of viewers because blog readers don’t want to be sold, they want to be entertained or educated.

So why would a business owner want to blog unless the effort translates into immediate sales? The answer lies in the fact that relationship building takes time, and becoming an effective blogger takes time as well. The whole point of blogging is to increase online interactivity, it’s about building relationships and exchanging information. In other words, blogging provides business owners the opportunity to educate and learn at the same time … basically for free. Smart business owners would jump at the opportunity to tell their story to a targeted audience while being presented with organic market research. However, blogging has become a buzzword with the get rich quick crowd, and unfortunately some negative perceptions have been developed as a result.

Therefore, what is the right approach to take with a blog. My advice would be to:

1) Build your blog through your existing customers first, ask them for feedback and find out what content is meaningful to them.

2) Don’t expect miracles overnight. Be patient, allow your readership time to participate and engage. Don’t be on the lookout for immediate sales results, it could effect your style and turn readers away.

3) Don’t blab on about your products. For a blog to succeed, you need to develop a community centered on relevant information exchange. No, you don’t need to blog about fishing or your favorite pizza, but talk about things in your industry or community that are relevant to your company and customers

In the end, blogging can be used effectively as a marketing tool because it can build intimacy with your brand through putting a face on your products. Just make sure you don’t confuse blogging with advertising.

Blogs are bad says panicked journalist

October 12th, 2006

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” said Thomas Watson president of IBM in 1943. Of course this turned out to be wishful thinking on the part of the few who controlled that technology in that era. In 2002 GartnerOpens in external window consulting reported that over 1 billion personal computers had shipped since the mid 70’s.

Kim Jong II

Agrees
with Philadelphia Inquirer

I was reminded of this quote when I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer today entitled

Americans are blogging a dead horse
Opens in external window in which a journalist made a similar assertion about blogging. Her article, which reads more like the journal of a panic attack, says:

  • People are sick of blogs (she backs this up with a reference to herself).
  • Blogs are bad because anyone can utilize them.
  • The average person is stupid and should not be allowed to convey their
    thoughts on blogs.
  • Blogs are bad because the communication is too rich.
  • People in general aren’t smart enough to discern good from bad information.
  • She already knows blogs are finished and slams her 10-year-old son’s
    blog as proof.
  • Don’t start a blog (because you’re an idiot).

One of the most bizarre statements in this article is:

When you read a blog, it’s easy to forget that it’s just one person in a little corner of the world. You get sucked into their universe, and the words on screen give their daily dramas a validity they might not deserve.

Hmmm. Well I can see how this is so bad…I would much rather be spoon fed refined information from the Philadelphia Inquirer instead of engaging in direct communication and having to think for myself!

The irrational comments of this journalist, many of which are completely opposite of the well documented massive growth in popularity of blogsOpens in external window are really not that difficult to understand. Old-school journalists and information brokers fear greatly the change that’s happening now. For obvious financial reasons they are in panicked denial that they no longer hold a monopoly in the world of communication. The last sentence of this article captures the true essence of this old-school journalist’s motive, “So, please, do me a favor, don’t start a blog.”

Now no one will dispute that there are some weird and wacko blogs out there…a lot of them. However, “bad blogs” are a small price to pay for little things like freedom of speech and freedom of choice. Focusing on the blogs that this person perceives as low value completely misses the pointthe blog phenomenon is about the decline of mass communication and advertising and the rise of targeted niche communication. Who am I to say any particular blog is no good? If I’m not that blogger’s target audience, as small and insignificant as that might be, whether I like the blog or not is irrelevant. Individually we’re not supposed to relate to a majority of blogs.

The cultural revolution of blogging is shaking up the world of journalists especially. The fact is, we don’t need a few people to decide what information gets communicated and how. The author of this article might be better suited to take up writing for the Democratic People’s Republic of KoreaOpens in external window since they still fully subscribe to the philosophy of information control and dissemination and have been called the most censored country in the worldOpens in external window.

Journalists of all professions should be embracing the change instead of fighting against the inevitable. The smart ones are.

George W. Bush – A Blog Candidate?

October 3rd, 2006

Switching gears from my previous posts, I’d like to ask y’all a question. With all the common assumptions, misconceptions, and preconceived notions circulating about who George W. Bush is, I started pondering whether or not the President, or a key member of his staff, should start blogging. As for my take:

Downsides

Of course, the risks involved would include time management of the blog. There’s no way the chief executive of the United States could seriously devote time to blogging himself on a regular basis. Or could he?

Additionally, would the traffic to the blog site be overwhelming? Could staffers, or servers for that matter, handle all the comments? Then there would be issues with hackers and other mischievous folks who would love to pounce on an opportunity to mess with the Pres’ blog site.

Upsides

Looking at this question from a positive angle, if the president were to devote 10 minutes a week to producing a blog, or having a staffer write it for him, the obvious upside would be a direct communication to the public without a filtered media. I for one am curious to know some of the day-to-day thoughts that go through the President’s mind.

In addition to the opportunity for increased intimacy with the Commander in Chief, this would seem to be a great method to gauge public opinion, basically acting as an online focus group – uncontrolled variable of course. You’d have to wonder if a blog might also be used as a tool to promote an agenda or to gain support on issues …

What’s Your Take?

As I ponder this question, I keep coming up with as many pros as cons so I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts might be on this subject. Please provide me some of your opinions on whether or not it would be worthwhile for the President to blog.

Note: Please be honest and candid in your responses, but foul language or inappropriate content will be deleted.

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