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

New Media is the Answer

June 21st, 2006

I know that many of you have heard my mantra on why advertising is losing effectiveness in our society, but I recently came across a New Yorker article that brought about a new dimension as to why consumers are getting burnt as a result of mass media ads. To be specific, we consumers are the ones paying for the ads we don’t want to see. In fact, a good number of Fortune 500 companies allocate approximately 25% of their budget to advertising. For instance, Proctor and Gamble spent nearly $3,000,000,000 on advertising ~ and that was two years ago. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that those costs are passed along to the consumer. So, when you need to cure that scalp itch with some Head and Shoulders, just remember that a quarter of what you’re paying for goes to pay for commercials you don’t want to hear.

So by now you’re probably asking yourself why this blog is relevant to New Media marketing. Therefore I’ll get to the point … if you’re a marketing professional at your firm, think like a consumer and channel your message so as to communicate in a non-intrusive yet informative manner. In the old days, people would gather at the coffee shop to discuss life as well as business; and within their business discussions, they would give recommendations to their
peers over a friendly conversation. This might have cost the consumer a nickel for a cup of joe, but they actually enjoyed the fresh roast much more than having an obnoxious guy with a beard yelling at them through a screen about how some special soap will remove grape juice stains from their grandmother’s afghan. In other words, as a consumer myself, I don’t mind when a friend passes a recommendation along to me because 1) I enjoy my friend’s company, 2) I know my friend isn’t getting paid to provide this information to me, and 3) I myself am not paying for that information.

Furthermore, today’s coffee shop is virtual and the conversations are taking place, you as a marketer need to engage and infiltrate in order to build your brand from an organic level. For example, Apple is a forward-thinking company
that understands this concept of transparent community, so much so that they are willing to invite criticism of their own products. Recently I visited their site to purchase a new power chord for my PowerBook G4, I was pleasantly surprised to gather information – FREE INFORMATION – that wasn’t filtered by Apple that influenced my purchasing decision. I’d encourage you to visit Apple’s Web store to see for yourself:

In conclusion, this New Media marketing revolution must be looked at as a win-win for both consumers and companies because it is not only reducing the communication channel while increasing intimacy, but it is also reducing costs
for companies and bringing about the opportunity to lower pricing for the consumer. The only downside to this movement is that many advertisers will be looking for new careers in the near future.

Articles of Interest:

LinkThe New Pitch, Do ads still work? by Ken Auletta

LinkAdvertising Doesn’t Work – Part 2. by Mike Catherall

LinkFixing the Ad Agency Mess – by Joseph Jaffe

Blogs Will Change Your Business

April 5th, 2006

This is one of the best articles on the importance of blogs to business that we’ve seen. It’s a bit dated but still a “must read” for any business owner who plans on developing or maintaining a profitable business in the 21st century.

BusinessWeek – Blogs Will Change Your Business By Stephen Baker and Heather Green

If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, at least read these selected quotes:

“..you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because…[blogs are]…simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they’re going to shake up just about every business — including yours. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shipping paper clips, pork bellies…blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They’re a prerequisite.

“There are some 9 million blogs out there, with 40,000 new ones popping up each day.”

“The overwhelming majority of the information the world spews out every day is digital — photos from camera phones, PowerPoint presentations, government filings, billions and billions of e-mails, even digital phone messages.”

“Potential customers are out there, sniffing around for deals and partners. While you may be putting it off, you can bet that your competitors are exploring ways to harvest new ideas from blogs, sprinkle ads into them, and yes, find out what you and other competitors are up to.”

“They [blogs] represent power. Look at it this way: In the age of mass media, publications like ours print the news. Sources try to get quoted, but the decision is ours. Ditto with letters to the editor. Now instead of just speaking through us, they can blog. And if they master the ins and outs of this new art — like how to get other bloggers to link to them — they reach a huge audience.

“Any chance that a blog bubble could pop? The answer is really easy: no…the dot-com era was powered by companies — complete with programmers, marketing budgets, Aeron chairs, and burn rates. The masses of bloggers, by contrast, are normal folks with computers: no budget, no business plan, no burn rate, and — that’s right — no bubble.”

“‘Blogs are what’s causing the Web to grow,’ says Jason Goldman. He’s project manager at Google’s Blogger, the world’s biggest service to set people up as bloggers.”

“While the traditional Web catalogs what we have learned, the blogs track what’s on our minds. Why does this matter? Think of the implications for businesses of getting an up-to-the-minute read on what the world is thinking.”

“In time, [RSS] aggregators could turn the Web on its head. Why? They discourage surfing as users increasingly just wait for interesting items to drop onto their page or e-mailbox. Internet advertising, which traditionally counts on page views and clicks, could be thrown for a loop. Already Yahoo is packaging ads on the feeds. Google is testing the waters.”

Easy Inexpensive Ways to Protect Your Data-Part 4

February 1st, 2006

Today’s post is the last in a series of four. In Part 1 we reviewed the strategy of having two identical synchronized hard drives, in Part 2 we talked about the importance segregating the data on your hard drive, and Part 3 covered external hard drives.

This concluding post emphasizes archiving your vital data. I recommend creating a special folder within your data folder hierarchy that contains your most important data – something akin to the type of important information you would store physically in a safe deposit box. I protect this data two ways:

  1. First, I periodically burn it on a DVD and keep it in a safe deposit box.
  2. Second I use an encrypted automated FTP backup service that automatically updates my critical files every evening. My company sells this service for less than $30 per year. Search for “online file folder” at RisingLineWeb.com.

These are worst case scenario precautions, if my office burns down my most important data is still secure.

So, in conclusion, you’ve got to have the mindset that your system will crash. So many people who’s life and livelihood are based in the millions of 0’s and 1’s that they’ve created on their PC’s fail to realize the likelihood of a catastrophic system failure and the impact it will have on their lives.

The strategies I mentioned are the only solutions, or even necessarily the best, but if you implement them you will have a multiple redundant system in place to recover your most important data.

Easy Inexpensive Ways to Protect Your Data-Part 3

January 28th, 2006

In Part 1 we reviewed the strategy of having two identical synchronized hard drives. In Part 2 we talked about the importance segregating the data on your hard drive.

This weeks strategy is about using an external hard drive for data backup. There are numerous options for dedicated external hard drives designed specifically for small office backup solutions, many that feature automated backup software. There are lots of good products on the market, but some of the better values I’ve found are from SimpleTech:

  • 160GB External USB 2.0 with backup software, 1 yr warranty ($96 at Costco.com at the time of this posting).
  • 500GB External USB 2.0 with 1 touch backup software, 3 yr warranty, Kensington lock bracket.($219 from Costco.com at the time of this posting).
  • 400GB SimpleShare Wireless NAS. It doesn’t seem to be listed on Costco.com but I saw this recently at a Costco store…it featured a 802.11 Network Attached Storage unit that could accept additional external hard drives, was
    priced at Costco at $389.00. More info can be found at simpletech.com

(Costco is one of my preferred suppliers for computer hardware peripherals because they have the most liberal return policy for computer hardware of any supplier of which I’m aware.)

Buying a dedicated hard drive backup solution allows most users to back up an entire drive, but really the critical files you want backed up are your data files. So, depending on how much data you actually have, a large external drive that backs up your whole drive (operating system, application files, and data files) might be overkill, especially if your already replicating your hard drives internally as mentioned in part 1 of this series.

Another, less expensive option, is to buy an external hard drive enclosure ($20-$40) in which you can mount a extra hard drive. If you’re like most small businesses, you probably have accumulated a small stack of these extra hard drives…just make sure the hard drive you pick was not orphaned because it had potential technical issues. External hard drive enclosures connect to your PC via USB or Firewire cable, and you can buy a software utility to automatically backup or just back up manually on a regular basis. As long as you’re not relying on this as your only backup it’s an inexpensive and effective option.

Ideally, you should physically move your external hard drive backup to a safe, or at least another room, when you’re away; or buy one with a Kensignton lock bracket (you’ll have to buy the Kensington cable lock separately). That way you’ll be more likely to retain your data backup if your PC is stolen.

Try searching for “hard drive enclosure” at Tiger Direct, or CDW.

Next weeks post: Remote data archiving for disaster recovery.

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