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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.

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.

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