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

Fiskars: Cutting-Edge Customer Evangelism

August 2nd, 2006

I recently became aware of the inspiring story of Fiskars, you know, the company that makes the orange handled scissors.  When started learning about Fiskars I thought, “What marketing insight could be gleaned from a company that makes such a boring commodity?” I was soon to learn that it’s the commonness of their product that makes the Fiskars story so inspiring.

Imagine being handed the job as the marketing director for Fiskars–a successful international corporation with a legacy dating from 1649. You’ve been given the world wide marketing responsibility for….long pause….scissors.

I’m sure it’s out there, but I can’t imagine a product that would be more dull (not literally of course) and more resigned to the classification of “commodity pumped out of China for a few cents each.”

Just for fun, here’s part of the provocative description of scissors from Wikipedia:

Scissors are a tool used for cutting thin material which requires little force. They are used for cutting, for example, paper, cardboard, metal foil, thin plastic, food, cloth, rope and wire. They are also used for cutting hair and nails.

So, given this bleak scenario what has Fiskars done? They’ve taken one of the toughest products imaginable and perfected the basic essences of marketing by:

  • Identifying the real need behind why their customers buy their product.
  • Branding themselves around those needs (not around their product).
  • Creating strong emotional bonds with their customers.
  • Creating an online community offering real extended value.
  • Embracing Customer Evangelism Marketing.

It’s not necessary for me to explain Fiskars’ near-perfect emotional branding, they’ve done such a great job it’s apparent just by visiting their website.

The story of Fiskars can be a big downer too. When I absorb the marketing masterpiece they’ve created out of such a ubiquitous product, it takes away all excuses for why any other product would be difficult to successfully differentiate. Almost anything, compared to scissors, would be better positioned to achieve marketing success. If you’ve been using that type of excuse, just imagine what the marketing leadership of Fiskars would do if they were at your company selling your product.

Fiskars deserves high honor for their leadership in quality consumer evangelism marketing, and for the inspiration they provide to the rest of us.

Politics and Blogging

August 1st, 2006

As RisingLine continues help the blogosphere grow in acceptance with mainstream organizations, such as corporations and government institutions, I began pondering why our elected officials are not taking advantage of blogging technology. For instance, since elected representatives are typically engaging in dialog with their constituents from a reactive perspective, why not make it proactive? I am familiar with this segment because I used to work in a United States Senator’s office as an intern and I was responsible for fielding inquiries from the public. I quickly learned that most inbound communication to our office was in the form of complaints or grievances against the government or our representative.

That being said, I believe blogging presents a great opportunity for our elected officials since transparency in politics is becoming a huge issue. Statistics from most polling organizations reveal the public at large does not trust the government. In fact, many voters view professional politicians as crooked, greedy, or disengaged – although this might not always be the case, perceptions are critical in politics.

Bringing this back to New Media, blogs are a way for elected representatives, or their staff, to actively engage with constituents via a transparent media. Although there may be fear in opening up a Pandora’s box filled with disinformation, the content within a blog can certainly be contained within a set of content and technological parameters. For instance, should disingenuous visitors post false information or lewd content, the false information can be quickly responded to by either another constituent, or a staffer, and lewd content can be deleted by a site administrator. Plus, with internal prompts, RSS, and XML technology, representatives and staffers can easily keep on top of what is being posted on their blog site.

Finally, from a personal perspective, I would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to respond to and dialog with my elected official to let them know my opinions on issues that they have commented or voted on – such as abortion, taxation, property rights, education, government spending, foreign affairs, etc. I certainly don’t believe that I’m alone in this opinion, since most people I chat with about politics feel the same way. Also, if you’re an elected official or a staffer who is reading this blog, I encourage you to perform a Google search on political blogs to view the energy out there amongst those who desire more transparency in government.

It’s no secret that one of the primary reasons for low voter turnout in the United States is that voters, especially younger voters, feel no connection with their representatives or candidates. Yet these people are voicing their frustrations and concerns online through blogs. I’d like to point out that the conversations about elected officials and politics are already taking place, blogging will afford elected officals the opportunity to participate if they’re willing. For a great example of an elected official utilizing blog technology, I invite you to visit the Anthony A. Williams’ blog. It might be an eye opener.

The Perfect Storm-New Media Marketing

July 29th, 2006

Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm: technology
meets the marketing concept.

If you haven’t decided whether the buzz over developing new media promotion tools, like blogs, RSS, and Podcasts is hype or reality; it’s time to come out of denial. It’s a brand new business world out there and as Warren Buffet might say, “It’s time to get some skin in the game!”

It’ not bad news though! The Internet has finally evolved to a place where unambiguous success can be achieved by those who recognize the opportunity and make a die-hard commitment to develop a radically different outlook on business, and really, on life in general.

I hate to state the obvious, but just in case we’ve got some readers who have missed what the Internet has already done to the business landscape, here are some quick facts from a Google query:

>>Forrester Research, Inc. estimates that 47.3 million North American households have online access and 43.9 percent have browsed online. Of the 43.9 percent, 65 percent have made purchases.

>>Time-starved consumers are regularly going to the Internet first to determine which local service company to patronize.

>>Consumers are rapidly becoming more comfortable using credit and bank cards to make purchases from security-backed virtual retailers.

>>Large corporations and governments have already mandated the use of online transactions to their downstream vendors.

But remember, that’s history now

These early years of the 21st century are radically different than the “old” Internet described above. The one where people became comfortable with the stability, security, and general trustworthiness of receiving information making purchases. We have just entered a brand new era, one that is especially historic for business. Why?  Because for the
first time in the industrialized world technology has aligned in a “perfect storm” with the marketing concept—the concept that businesses should make all decisions based on the needs of their customers. It’s always been great
concept, from when Adam Smith first wrote about it in 1776, but never realized in a macro market. Today we
have the tools to make the marketing concept a achievable reality on a broad scale.

Businesses driven by real-time communication with customers (i.e. the Marketing Concept) create an almost Utopian scenario—the customer’s needs are best met, the business is optimized for profitability and growth, and society benefits from a net gain in opportunity from the customer and investment profit from the business.

It’s a radical new order…where a business’ best customers can
become its best salespeople.

It’s the realization of a true free market economy in which the consumer has the most direct influence over the management of businesses, institutions, and organizations. It’s a radical new order within society where a business’ best customers can become its best salespeople. Adam Smith would be proud.

Customer Evangelism meets New Media

We here at RisingLine believe that the best strategy to achieve the Marketing Concept is customer evangelism. Developing a customer evangelist marketing strategy insures that your business is truly focused on meeting the needs of your customers and maintaining interactive communication with them. Ultimately, customers are so pleased with the
quality of your solution, that they organically become your passionate advocates.

We group the technology used to launch customer evangelism under the term “New Media.” It encompasses ulta-modern Internet technology like blogs, RSS, Podcasts, and content management systems—allowing the Web to become a conduit of real time communication, collaboration, and community—creating the perfect storm of marketing strategy and technology tools.

How do I start?

Funny you should ask, we just happen to be in the business of New Media Marketing…helping clients to gain strategic insight and catch the passion of customer evangelism, then providing them optimized web tools.  So, a great place to start is our website…to to our front page and work you way through:  http://risingline.com. For a great introduction to Customer Evangelism, we’ve posted the Customer Evangelism Manifesto by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. To see some of the New Media technology applications, (Web Edit Content Management, Custom Blogger Blogs, etc) you might like to visit our live demo site and try them out for yourself. To get a feel for the power of RSS we invite you to visit a non-profit site we sponsor, http://freeRSSdisplay.org.

We of course are ready to provide some more personalized insight through a phone call, WebEx, or visit…just let us know how we can help.

Understanding Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

July 26th, 2006

What is RSS?

SS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It’s an easy way for you to keep up with news and information that’s important to you, and helps you avoid the conventional methods of browsing or searching for information on websites. Now the content you want can be delivered directly to you without cluttering your inbox withe-mail messages. This content is called a “feed.” RSS feeds are commonly syndicated from special web pages called blogs.

RSS is written in the Internet coding language known as XML (eXtensible Markup Language), which is why you see RSS buttons commonly labeled with and XML icon: XML button. Other common icons that indicate an RSS feed include: RSS feed icon & RSS feed icon

What is Podcasting?

Podcasting is an RSS Feed that includes MP3 audio files, usually published through blogs. Listening to a podcast simply means downloading an MP3 audio from a link in a blog you’ve subscribed to. Once you download the file, you can either listen to it on your computer or transfer it to an MP3 player like an iPod to listen on the go.
Find out moremore podcasting information

What is an RSS Reader?

An RSS reader is a small software program that collects and displays RSS feeds. It allows you to scan headlines from a number of news sources and display them in a central location.

RisingLine also builds web sites that can be auto updated through RSS feeds from your own blogs or external sources to provide valuable automatically updated content for your visitors. For the more technically oriented, we also sponsor the site

Where Can I Get an RSS Reader?

Some browsers, such as the current versions of Firefox, have built in RSS readers. If you’re using a browser that doesn’t support RSS, there are avariety of RSS readers available on the web; for some there is no charge to download and others are available for purchase.

RisingLine makes it easy for your visitors to subscribe to your RSS news updates by including options for your feed to be automatically added to individual’s popular home pages just by clicking on a graphic link. If you have a homepage at one of these sites try clicking on the graphic to add our news to your page:

RSS Feed


RSS Feed Add to Google


RSS feed for My AOL

We utilize the great resources of FeedBurner to provide a smart feed that allows people to choose the RSS syndication tool that works best for them.

How Do I Add RSS Feeds Manually?

If you’re using a RSS news aggregator instead of one of the options listed above, each reader has a slightly different way of adding a new feed, also called a “channel.” Follow the directions for your reader but, in most cases, here’s how it works:

  • Click on the link or small XML button near the feed you want. For example, on http://RisingLine.com/blog/ click on RSS Feed
  • From your web browser’s address bar, copy the URL (web address). For example, the URL you would copy for
    our blog is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/NewMediaMarketing
  • Paste that URL into the “Add New Channel” section of the reader. The RSS feed will start to display and regularly update the headlines for you.

Subscribe to RisingLine’s RSS Feed

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