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DSC00064Marketing Misfire Photo of the Week I couldn't resist taking this photo while walking around in Manhattan. I'll leave the company name out of it but this was their main marketing message on the front of the building. They may want to consider...

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video-300x300Beginner's Guide to Video Marketing Disclaimer: I'm am not a professional video producer. If you've read my blog for a few years you'll know I typically embrace the latest mediums in marketing, learn them, and implement them in my teams'...

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Clean ShirtsHome Delivery Dry Cleaning Case Study: How Performance... Many of my readers are marketing professionals so stick with me on this post until the end. Although it looks like a post reviewing local dry cleaners it was actually inspired out of seeing first hand...

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Hotel Video Marketing - Good Tool or Not? I recently wrote about an experience I had in Europe staying at Ibis hotels. I was impressed with their marketing of their services and the backing of that brand marketing by hotel staff. The post was...

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Yoda.sized5 Steps To Analyzing That New Marketing Effort I was recently watching the original Star Wars movies with my kids. An absolute timeless series, but it's amazing how much more suspenseful that was when I was much younger. Graphics and special affects...

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Exploring Minnesota with User Generated Content

Category : social marketing

4

I physically took the 4th of July off from work, blogging, computers, etc. and spent it with my family. But, I couldn’t escape Web 2.0 marketing trends even though I tried! We don’t watch a ton of TV in our house, but the kids needed to cool off from being outside and Mom and Dad needed a few minutes to relax. So, we turned on some fine holiday programming. A commercial came on that showed a great example of using television media to promote user generated online content – my curiosity was peaked.

mfmn_logo.jpgAn ad for ExploreMinnesota.com came on and the message revolved around the website and a new section called My Favorite Minnesota. Well, I had to grab the laptop and check this out (exactly what the producers of the commercial were going for, I’m sure). Although I live in Minnesota, I had never visited the site.

I was impressed! The site features Minnesotans talking about their favorites on topics such as resorts, golfing, shopping, festivals, activities, etc. The site is very user friendly and the images, linked lists and videos are very well done. Way to go Minnesota! User generated content in this context is an absolutely great way to drive traffic and interest in your topic. I actually got sucked into reading everyone’s bios and watching all the videos.

Awhile back I wrote a post about marketing a state. The post focused around Iowa’s excellent campaign to promote the area as a great place to live and work. It’s fun to see Minnesota – Iowa’s friend rival – coming up with a nice campaign of their own!


How to Pitch Social Media to Execs

Category : social marketing

8

presentsocialmedia.jpgI’m fortunate I work for senior executives that believe in the power of social media. But, what happens if your ideas are a tough sell because your superiors don’t see the benefit? Can you blame them, really? After all, you’re not proposing a solution with concrete ROI figures. They may not see the word “engagement” as a reason to move forward.

But, to move this medium forward and realize it’s benefits, you need to make a compelling case. An article I recently read called How to Market Social Media to Execs talks about selling your social media plans:

Resistance to new strategies is usually due to opportunity costs (prioritization) and lack of predictability of impact. Corporations, and the managers, have a need to drive predictable growth and mitigate risk. Priorities are driven based on familiarity of strategies that drive confident results. Something that can be proved to drive better results and meet or beat forecast excites executives.

We don’t have alot of concrete data yet supporting social media and the impact on ROI. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get approval. The article goes on to talk about common questions and potential responses.

The author, Sam Decker, also makes another valid point. He talks about three emotions that drive executive decision making – Fear, Excitement, Pride. Fear of competitors pulling off a similar concept or pride at being the first to market are big drivers.

I’ll throw in a couple of suggestions of my own for making your case:

  • Depending on the social medium, the cost to enter could be low enough that the perceived risk is also lower.
  • The viral momentum of a social marketing campaign can provide advertising that is far less expensive than traditional ad mediums.
  • Done correctly, positive PR from social media is invaluable and virtually free.
  • Networking from social media can result in speaking opportunities and panel participation which position your company as industry experts.

My point is that not every case has to be made with ROI dollar figures. There are other benefits that are just as valuable that will also lead to sales conversions.

Any other suggestions for selling social media?


Social Content Site for Business Geeks

Category : social marketing

4

daily_hub_200px.gifI’ve come across a new site recently that I’m using more than I expected. In their words they are a, “…social content site designed for business geeks“. That’s me. Add anything social media or related to business and you’ll grab my attention.

DailyHub is not too different than sites such as Digg, Reddit, del.icio.us, but is more tailored towards the LinkedIn crowd (business networking). From what I can tell so far, content is based less on a popularity contest and is more focused. I typically come away with good information.

Check out their manifesto for more information and a chart explaining how they’re different.


9 Tips For RSS Feed Marketing

Category : blogging, social marketing

7

I’m on vacation this week and had a chance to clean up a very cluttered Google Feed Reader. I started with close to 175 subscriptions and cut it down to 100. I also organized my subscriptions into categories…BtoB, SEM/SEO, Marketing, etc. I learned something through the process – anyone using an RSS feed to spread their message needs to understand that RSS feed marketing will soon play a role.

I had too many blogs I was subscribed to and not reading so I needed to clean house. As feed readers become more common so will the act of cleaning them up. So, how do you avoid being cut out of a reader? Here are some RSS marketing tips that I learned:

  • Consistent Posting: If there hadn’t been a post in the last month, the feed got cut. Post consistently to let subscribers know you’re serious about your message. At least once a week is reasonable.
  • Have Some Original Content: Sites that posted complete text versions of other’s content and added slight commentary show lack of creativity and meaningful original content. Linking to articles is great and gives additional resources, but have something to say about it!
  • Let Me Share: If there is a post I want to bookmark on del.icio.us, don’t make me have to go to your site and wait for it to load. Let me hit a button to bookmark from my reader. I didn’t cut all feeds that didn’t allow me to do this, but it was part of my decision. Show some community involvement by adding some social features in the feed.
  • Break Up Your Text: People get bored with endless paragraphs of text. Break it up with a picture, bullet points or something to rest the eyes.
  • Forget the 30-Part Series: I saw one blog that just kept pushing next chapters in a very long series. You’re alienating new subscribers by not mixing in some different content. I don’t have the time to catch up on the series.
  • Show Number of Comments: Maybe this is just me, but I like to see how many comments there are on a certain post. It’s nice to see if there is a conversation happening that I might want to check out.
  • Don’t Bombard The Reader: If your blog is a company blog, don’t push your product or service in every post.
  • Title, Title, Title: Coming up with unique, engaging post titles is tough, but you need to try. Developing a style or angle allows readers to better understand you.
  • Give A Little: Feed readers keep people from visiting your site and seeing your personal touches. Don’t forget to sprinkle in a little about you so your readers feel an attachment to you in their reader.

What Marketing Forums and Communities Do You Recommend?

Category : general marketing, social marketing

3

Marketing forums and communities are a great way to network, share experience, gain knowledge, and drive visitors to your site. There are an abundance of great communities out there for marketing professionals – I wish I had time for more! Below are a couple of sites at which I participate – but for much different reasons:

  • MarketingProfs Forum: I’ve recently started participating in this forum and I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far. The interactions are genuine and there is a quality exchange of information. I not only learn something but get the chance to spread some of my knowledge. I’ve also walked away with a few new business connections I didn’t have before.
  • Yahoo Answers!: I’ll be honest, I like this for the traffic it drives to my site. I can usually answer a few questions a week and draw people to the Lonely Marketer. I have made a few good contacts out of it as well.

Can you recommend 2 sites to your readers that you think are worth participation and why?

I’d like to put together a list of recommended marketing forums and communities on the Lonely Marketer. If participation is good, I have a page set up that would be great to fill in with your recommendations. If you’d like your recommendations included in the list, you can:

  • Leave a comment on this post
  • Write a post of your own for your readers and link back to this post. I’ll see the trackback and include your recommendations.

Any recommendations from you will include a link to your site as the source of the recommendation. Thanks in advance for anyone that chooses to participate!


Are We All Clear On What Engagement Means?

Category : online marketing, social marketing

3

I was reading through my daily onslaught of newsletters, emails, blog posts, articles, etc. and I saw the word Engagement crop up more than a few times. The thought crossed my mind that five or ten years ago that term was not even on the radar for marketers or it had a totally different meaning. All of sudden, you better know what that means and how to implement the metric if you want to get a good marketing job.

I did a little digging and came up with a few posts that help define engagement and what it means to you:

One thing that is clear is that engagement means something different to every marketer. Engagement for me might mean a lead while engagement for you could mean an online purchase or a website visit. I think the term is being defined by the day as we find new ways to measure our social and online marketing efforts.

What does engagement mean for you?


To Twit or Not to Twit, That is the Question

Category : social marketing

19

I’m easily intrigued by new tools and gadgets. I wouldn’t say I’m a “first adopter”, but if reviews are good I usually jump in and check it out. Needless to say the buzz about Twitter had caught my attention. So much so that I went out and signed up. But, the minute my account was activated the thrill of signing up quickly wore off. What would I ever use this for?

For those of you not aware of this new social media tool, “Twitter is for staying in touch and keeping up with friends no matter where you are or what you’re doing. For some friends you might want instant mobile updates—for others, you can just check the web” (from their website). You send a text messege to your Twitter account describing little snippets of your day and your fan base is updated via mobile device or web page.

My efficient nature took over and my mind started racing thinking of ways this could be utilized in marketing. Could this have a function in a small business marketing plan? Some thoughts were coming to mind, but they weren’t great. I decided to email some friends of the Lonely Marketer site and ask them these questions:

  1. Does this tool have a place in an online marketing plan?
  2. Should marketers even consider the tool as a viable resource for connecting with an audience or is this just a fun tool to use among friends?

Along with the questions, I asked them to rank Twitter using the following scale:
4 - A very useful tool for marketing
3 - A somewhat useful tool for marketing
2 - Very little use for marketing
1 – No use at all for marketing

I also asked for relevant Twitter posts they’ve either written or seen if they had any to offer up. Here are some of the responses I received:

Michael JensenSoloSEO
“Although I love the implementation that Twitter has done (IM, Text Message, and Web), I have not found value from Twitter. Twitter seems more of a distraction than a valuable business tool. Other services like IM and email seem to be more effective and less obtrusive.” Rank1


Paul Jahn
LocalMN
Paul uses Twitter mostly for fun but wonders if businesses could gain a viral audience by using the tool as something similar to Aric McKeown who started the Least Dangerous Game. Paul also noted The Technology Evangelist has a Twitter account to send updates on Podcasts and other events. Rank2


Jonathan Mendez
Optimize and Prophesize
“Twitter is likely one of the more challenging tools for marketers because of its immediacy and its close knit use. I’m afraid that like many “social” tools Twitter’s user of the network for business will be hindered by the fact that user expectation is that the tool does not message any marketing or commercial messages. In fact, because it is the most casual of all SM networks and relies on a close knit group, I would expect some backlash from the user base if this were to occur.” Rank2


Aaron Weiche
Prime Advertising Blog
“For most small businesses I would say Twitter has little impact or benefit. In some cases/companies I could see it allowing you to highlight specific services a small business is providing for a client at that time … Prime might Twitter “researching keywords for new restaurant client’s website”. For most small biz people, your time is already stretched, so stay focused on keeping your website current or even blogging before you dabble with Twitter.” Rank2


Mike SansoneConverStations
“I think Twitter could find a place in the small business world as a communications tool across virtual teams – and potentially as a marketing tool depending on the market and target audience. If the “talkers” or “users” of what I’m trying to market are Twitter users, or if Twitter users might touch my target audience, then yes – Twitter should be part of the plan.” Rank3 (depending on the market and target)

Mike did a post recently on Twitter as a business application

Drew McLellanDrew’s Marketing Minute
The challenge in trying to use it as a business tool with an audience is — they all have to sign up for the service AND sign up as your friend. Otherwise, you are out of luck. So it is the ultimate in consumer-driven communications. I can see using it for a short term thing, like a conference or to promote an opening or launch of a product. Some situation where there’s a natural “buzz” and people want up to the minute updates. I can also see it working if you had a powerful community of brand evangelists. Harley comes to mind. Rank3 (in specific circumstances)

Drew’s Posts about Twitter:
Does Twitter have to be useful?
Everyone’s a twitter about Twitter
What was Mickey Mouse Twitter?


Caroline Melberg
Small Business Marketing Mavericks
“I’ll admit that I was skeptical, but after researching Twitter and other micro-blogging sites I’ve had my eyes opened. As a part of an integrated marketing campaign, Twitter has great potential for small business owners – both as a sales tool (quick and easy updating to your blog or website from anywhere – even your mobile phone – of specials, new arrivals, etc.) but also as a resource for helping to build a community with your clients as they begin using Twitter as well. It’s simple to use, quick and convenient – all great benefits for the small business owner looking to increase their web visits, sales and new customers.” Rank4 (as part of an integrated marketing campaign)

Caroline did a post recently on the usefulness of Twitter.


My Opinion

Micro-blogging is in it’s infancy. Like many other social media tools, the longer they stick around more ideas will come forth on using the tool. Douglas Karr did a post about Jaiku (another micro-blogging tool) where he poses the question, “Why aren’t marketers running to Jaiku“. He has some unique ideas that will get you thinking. Chris Pirillo had an interesting post about Twitter and Jaiku. He gives an example of a recent Google search where the top results were from Twitter and Jaiku discussion threads.

If search results start playing into the equation, I bet the SEO/SEM community will find more uses very quickly. Neil Patel writes on Search Engine Land (SEL) about Twitter’s ability to drive traffic and the fact you can put links into your “twits”. Danny Sullivan is also a fan as he’s set up SEL to be followed via Twitter while Andy Beard thinks Twitter is unethical as a business use. Many interesting perspectives!

Is this a tool for small business marketing? Maybe for BtoC, but not BtoB yet. I will say the research for this post and participation of others has me believing it is more than just a goofy instant messeging platform. Mike Sansone’s idea about virtual work groups and Douglas Karr’s post mentioning retailers pushing hot deals to customers got me thinking alot about how tools like this might play a more prominent role in the years to come.

When I’m out of town, I certainly would pay attention to a local Minneapolis sports blogger Twittering a Twins game for nine innings! Or maybe a representative from the Twins Twittering the game and offering “in-Twitter” ticket specials for upcoming games?!

Oh, the ideas could start coming fast now….


Search Marketers and Social Networking Sites

Category : b to b marketing, search engine marketing, social marketing

7

BtoB Online reported the results of an iProspect survey that found that 48% of search marketers place content on social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube.

“The study was based on an online survey of 794 search marketers, conducted in February.

It found that the top reasons for placing content on social networking sites include driving traffic (51%); creating brand awareness (32%); direct selling (25%); and influencing a purchase decision (15%).”

I was not surprised to see the reasons why marketers use the social networking sites. But, I was surprised to see which ones were chosen:

“According to the survey, search marketers placed content on the following social networking sites: MySpace (18%); YouTube (15%); LinkedIn (15%); del.icio.us (14%); craigslist (14%); Amazon (12%); Yahoo Answers (10%); Facebook (3%); iVillage (3%); and TripAdvisor (3%).”

Recently, I’ve been trying to get my hands around many of the social marketing tools available to see which ones could have a positive impact on my marketing plan. I just don’t see MySpace and YouTube making the cut. I know that they could be very powerful for certain industries, but I was surprised to see them so high on the list.

I’d be curious to see the results if they were split between BtoB and BtoC.

What are your thoughts? Do you think they would be lower on the list for BtoB markets?


Some News From Google Optimizer, AdWords, and Yahoo Answers

Category : blogging, paid search, social marketing

0

I’m seeing a ton of great news the last few days on tools used by many small business marketers. Here are a few worth checking out:

  • Using Google Analytics with Website Optimizer: I’ve written about how much I think the new Google Website Optimizer is a great tool. Now it looks like some slight modification to the javascript can integrate the Optimizer with Google Analytics. This is definitely worth a look!
  • Introducing preferred cost bidding: Google Adwords released preferred cost bidding which allows you to give an average of what you want to pay for a keyword. I really like this concept. I’m having a tough time on a few ad groups with finding that sweet spot between click-through-rate and cost-per-click. I think it will help by being able to isolate the average of what I’m willing to pay.
  • Using Answers to Drive Traffic: Yahoo writes about a post on the LyteByte blog highlighting ways to drive traffic to your site via Yahoo Answers. I wrote yesterday about initial steps to consider when starting a business blog. You can ad finding communities such as Yahoo Answers to the list. Establishing your company as an expert in a category on Answers can be a great way to drive traffic and communicate with your audience.

The Conversation Age eBook Has Been Started!

Category : social marketing, writing

7

Recently Michael Jensen wrote a post about the Top 5 Useful and Free SEO e-Books and he mentioned how he wanted the story to be about the top ten but he couldn’t find enough worthwhile e-books about which to write. Well Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan have come up with an idea to help with that and I’m happy to say I have the opportunity to be involved. Their idea is to create an e-book discussing this new era of communications that we’re entering (or already entered). The book will be titled The Conversation Age.

Many businesses – large and small – are scrambling to figure out these new mediums of discussion such as blogs, podcasts and wikis in which their target audiences are now participating. These businesses are trying to harness the power of these methods to continue and create new, meaningful discussions that lead to long-term sales and business relationship with their target markets. This new e-book should have plenty of answers for businesses of any size.
Hats off to Gavin and Drew for the unique, fun, and useful idea. Plus, what’s even better, they’re going to charge a small fee for the book and donate 100% of the proceeds to the Variety the Children’s Charity — which serves children across the entire globe. Nice work guys and thank you for the chance to participate!

They’ve gathered over 100 authors for the book. I don’t have the list of final authors, but below is a snapshot of some of the first people to get involved – as you can see there are some very talented writers already committed. (I added me to the bottom, but the ‘talented’ tag is meant for everyone above me!)

Look out for follow-up posts as the book becomes available. With 100 authors I’m sure there will be some incredible writing and original content!