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Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

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.

Why You Should Blog for Business

September 28th, 2006

Why would a business pass up a virtually free way to bring in new customers? Any business owner or executive should cringe at the thought of this, but research indicates that many are letting just such an opportunity pass by.

An interesting study was just published from a web hosting company in Britain. Even though the study is from Europe, the findings are very consistent with the experiences we’ve had here at RisingLine.  About half of the 2,300 small to medium businesses surveyed said they really liked the idea of using a blog on their site to increase traffic, but only about 3 percent actually plan on starting a blog in the near future.  This is odd behavior given the irrefutable evidence that consumers are increasingly flocking to consult blog sites before making purchase decisions. Blogs are no longer esoteric, they have grown to number 54 million (according to Technorati), with 75,000 new ones being created each day.

It really should be a no brainier. Blogs provide an easy method for businesses to develop rapport with their current clientele and create a like-minded online community that attracts prospects that are the most desirable clientele. Blogs allow non-technical business owners and executives to take control of their website without the assistance and delay of an IT professional, and to publish more authentic (and therefore believable) content for their site visitors.

Based on this study, it seems that a large percentage of business owners do realize the benefits…at least on some level, so the question is why is such a tiny percentage actually acting on the opportunity?  The survey showed exactly what we hear everyday…the business executive has no time to blog. Here are the three reasons why this exuse is not justifiable:

  1. It doesn’t take that much time. You don’t have to write a polished article…in fact it’s often better not to. Just provide concise and valuable insight, maybe a comment on a news item, for your target client. Here’s how: keep up to date on the most relevant topics using Google Alerts, write a few sentences in your own words of why a certain news item is important, and post it.
  2. You’ll Work smarter not harder. By spending 10 minutes each week to develop an online community of high value clients and prospects you’re ROTI (Return on Time Investment) can be exponentially higher than many other low-value activities you most likely engage in. You’re building a community of customer evangelists who will start driving highly qualified prospects to your business. Recycle 10 minutes of your time each week and blog! Set a reoccurring Outlook appointment to post to your blog the same time every week.
  3. You’ll gain a better strategic perspective for managing your business.
    By taking a few minutes each week to watch the trends in your industry, you’ll keep on the cutting edge of your market, mature into a trusted advisor, and gain more credibility with your clientele…not just on your blog but in all your interactions with them.

Customer Relations – Selling Through Your Customers

September 25th, 2006

As a marketing consultant, I often get caught up in the theoretical realm of academia and lose sight of tailoring my unique value proposition to actively engage with my target audience. You see, there I go again … what I mean to say is I shouldn’t use big fancy words to impress my customers just to make myself look smart. More importantly, I need to build relationships with my customers by speaking their language and providing them with services they truly need and value. If I can accomplish this feat, I will not only gain a loyal customer, but I’ll also gain a volunteer sales representative.

For the past two years, I’ve conducted a fair amount of research on marketing trends and I’ve noticed a lot of buzzwords have been created by consultants like myself to describe a very straightforward marketing truth that has existed for millenniums; namely selling goods and services through existing customers.

Call it customer evangelism, viral marketing, strategic referral program, grassroots marketing, or whatever; the main point is that successful businesses are built upon customers. Whether an organization focuses on business-to-business or business-to-consumer markets, a strong buyer-seller relationship is key to staying in business.

As I look back over my career, I recall having the mindset of using technical or academic language in an attempt to wow my audience by “educating them” and by utilizing gimmicks or creativity to gain their attention and to create top of mind awareness. What I failed to understand is that my audience didn’t care about how smart I or my firm was, what they wanted to know is what my company could do for them; and the dilemma was that my audience didn’t want to hear this from me or my advertising. They in fact wanted to know what others who had tried my service had to say.

Whether buyers are looking into finding a logistical consultant to assist in setting up a global distribution channel or simply seeking the best golf course in town, they’re likely to turn to their peers and/or business associates for advice. As a consumer, I often find myself asking a friend or colleague, “So what’s your opinion on … ” The answer I receive will undoubtedly play a role in my purchasing decision one way or another.

My opinion on this matter is supported by overwhelming statistical evidence that demonstrates people are making purchasing decisions off of referrals and testimonials. For instance, 83% of consumers base their purchasing decisions off of referrals when choosing a restaurant. The numbers are similar for prescription drugs (71%), hotels (63%), cars (58%), computers (40%), and financial services (57%). Without further researching the matter, I would strongly content that successful companies within those industries have a strong customer relations policy. One example, Apple Computers, has again received the highest rating on customer satisfaction by scoring an 83% score in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Now you know why we Apple freaks are so adamant about our machines.

So how do companies like yours use customers to sell goods and services? I hate to be master of the obvious, but you simply take good care of them by going the extra mile to make sure they’re happy. No, I’m not talking about giving stuff away or incurring a loss as a set-in-stone customer satisfaction policy, but simply assuring that your customer is happy with your performance by the end of the day. Now as a former sales manager, I know that some customer demands are unreasonable, but it’s always important to demonstrate to the client that your organization has their best interests in mind. Not wanting to expend too much effort on this matter, I’ll simply say that the best policy is to put yourself into your customers’ shoes and empathize with their position. When you do this, you have a much better chance at gaining their respect and understanding.

In conclusion, I simply advise to go beyond expectations in satisfying your customer. Don’t view this ideal as a reactive crisis response, but utilize it in a proactive manner so as to add value to your product or service. The last thing you want your customer to say to others is “I didn’t get what I paid for” or “the burger sure didn’t look like the picture.” If you bring value to your customers by going the distance for them, they’ll gladly pay a fair market price for your services in the long run.

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