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

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.

Suomi Finland and Nokia – A Benchmark for European Blogging

August 21st, 2006

As I was visiting some relatives in Finland last month, I noticed that very few Nordic Web sites had incorporated blogging and New Media features at a corporate level. Blogging and podcasting have already become commonplace amongst the general population in Finland, as it has in the United States, however there is a glaring gap between most corporate Web sites and available New Media technology.

Something inherent about the Finnish society is that people adapt to technology very quickly. In fact, it is a country where you find youth text messaging live television talk show hosts from their mobile/cell phones although they’re being charged to do so. Finns, and I’m supposing other Europeans, would most likely embrace companies or organizations that would open up the level of transparency in regards to products, services, and community. For instance, Nokia is Finland’s most influential consumer brand, of which people proudly show off their new model phones amongst friends and family, along the same level as a car, home, or other status symbols. So as to exploit and enhance this brand power, I could certainly envision Nokia providing an interactive community where its customers could go online to chat about new product features, designs, like and dislikes, desires for future technology and so forth. Not only would this create further intimacy amongst Nokia’s customer base, but also it would enhance customer evangelism while at the same time providing in-depth and basically free unsolicited market research. Plus, Nokia has already experimented with the blogosphere by sending bloggers new phone models and had phenomenal response; why shouldn’t Nokia then take blogging to the next level and engage their customers? Nokia also has a few non-employed enthusiasts blogging about their products, the next step would be to envelop this community within the Nokia.com sphere to help shape the content and engage in the discussion.

So as to prove this isn’t a Nokia centric blog, Fazer, Finnair, Hesburger, and Stockmann are four other Finnish companies that come to mind that could leverage new media technology and customer evangelism. In fact, no matter the firm or industry, the main ingredient for success is to identify a loyal customer base and empower enthusiastic individuals with tools like blogs and customer reviews so as to become a participative marketing and sales extension for little to no cost. Although this may appear somewhat iffy in terms of ethics, the truth is that most customer evangelists don’t want to be bought, they’ll proactively solicit the virtues of a company’s products and services simply because they feel an inherent personal emotional identification around the brand. In other words, the brand becomes a reflection on their personality.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate the old mantra to those of you who haven’t heard it before … great brands create consumer evangelists by empowering their customers to be a strategic marketing force. Companies that have succeeded, such as Apple Computers, Under Armour, and Southwest Airlines, know what makes their customers tick. If you’re a marketer reading this blog, I highly encourage you to check out some articles under Google keyword search using “Customer Evangelism.” One article in particular that I would recommend is the “Customer Evangelism Manifesto” by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba; it has honestly revolutionized our corporate drive at RisingLine New Media Marketing. Anyway, I hope this blog provided some helpful information. Please feel free to provide feedback or ask questions.

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.

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

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