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Any Path Will Not Do When It Comes To Planning

04/20/2005

Path_in_the_woods_1"If you don't know where you're going, any path will take you there." Theodore Levitt  For marketers that has special meaning. Experience has taught us that without a plan our efforts fall short; the path we choose by chance, rather than strategy, may cause more harm than good to our brands.

As important, or perhaps more important, than the plan itself, is the process of planning. Here's a good one from Dwight Eisenhower -  "Plans are nothing; planning is everything."

Lynn Dolan, ASG Software Solutions, offers a nice list of justifications that will help you respond if your boss just doesn't "get it" and questions -  "Why invest resources planning?"

- Caputures buiness goals on paper
- Becomes our departmental roadmap
-  Allows us to focus and prioritize
- Let's us allocate resources (budget and personnel)
-  Establishes our value in the organization
- Tracks costs
- Measures our success
- Drives revenue

Found this comprehensive guide on How To Write A Marketing Plan. If that doesn't work or seems too overwhelming, I'm passing a long this pieces of advise given to me by a smart marketing guy - Just write in down. Even if your plan is on a paper napkin. The act of puting thoughts to paper (or computer screen) serves to focus actions.

Need a few marketing ideas to jump start your planning proccess? BusinessBlog Consulting is developing a list of marketing blogs.

Make A Wish

04/20/2005

Birthday_cupcake

Biz Blog Profile Series: SkyBox(tm) Matag(tm) Blog - Maytag Corporation

04/19/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profts and higher education institutes are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Gary Petersen, Project Manager, for Diversified Businesses, Maytag Corporation, has a job sports lovers and bloggers might envy. He blogs for one of Maytag Corporation's most innovative products - SkyBox Vendor. SkyBox, a personal drink vendor, positioned as a the ultimate trophy for the serious sports fan perfect for a “ManCave.”

And the work Gary is doing with the blog is pretty creative too! Recently the SkyBox(tm) By Maytag (tm) Blog strategy was honored with two Pubic Relations Society of America awards. The  Iowa Chapter presented Maytag Corporation with their PRIME award in the Integrated Communications Campaign category. Minnesota Chapter of PRSA's  Classic Award was for excellence in the New Media/Technology category.

Sidebar: Nice to see weblog strategies beginning to be acknowledged in mainstream marketing awards programs! 

 

Biz Blog Profile: SkyBox(tm) By Maytag(tm) Blog

About Magtag Corporation

Maytag Corporation is a $4.8 billion home and commercial appliance company focused in North America and in targeted international markets. The corporation's primary brands are Maytag(R), Hoover(R), Jenn-Air(R),Amana(R), Dixie-Narco(R) and Jade(R). 

The Diversified Businesses group is a small segment of Maytag Corporation focused on non-core products. The group's primary products are the SkyBox TM by Maytag TM personal beverage vendor, SkyBox TM Rookie TM Fridge, Jenn-Air TM Attrezzi TM Blender, Stand Mixer, and Toaster, and Maytag TM Cordless Irons.

Why Matag Corporation Is Blogging via  SkyBox (tm) By Maytag (tm) Blog
Skybox_red_sox_1
The Diversified Businesses group was created with the directive to do things different.  The SkyBox vendor and Rookie Fridge are different than any other products at Maytag.  Their very nature is about being a topic of conversation in someone's home.  Kind of a "Hey!  Look what I've got!" reaction. 

The weblog is a great way to get in on that conversation. It lets us talk with people who find our products fun and interesting. The weblog is also an ongoing project.  We can change it every day by writing new things, so we keep the conversation going.  And we can do it without making a huge investment.

How Blogs Fit Into Maytag Corporation's Marketing Strategy

For some of our products, perhaps even most of them, weblogs don't fit at all well with our marketing strategy. The SkyBox vendor and Rookie Fridge are different though. We really tried to develop them as cool, gotta-get-me-one-of-those gadgets.

Talking about them (and the things that our customers like to do) fits well in a weblog format. You can do things different when you can extend a conversation past a print ad or a television commercial and we've been trying different things on the weblog.

Selling-in To Management

Our team's leadership was involved in the discussion we had one afternoon about possibly starting one up, so we decided to try it out on the spot. I had been writing a personal weblog for a couple of years, so I volunteered. I added a separate page to my personal webspace that night and wrote a few test articles. Our team took at look at them the next day and decided this was something that could work out, so went forward with it.

How Maytag Corporation Is Marketing The SkyBox (tm) By Maytag (tm) Blog

Primarily through a link on the main SkyBox vendor and Rookie Fridge web page . We've also done some search engine optimization work to help people find our website and weblog.

Other than that, I watch for people writing about our products so I link to them from our weblog and comment on their weblogs, where appropriate. I have about thirty searches set up for various keywords, like Maytag, SkyBox, Rookie, and the like. I watch for hits through PubSub, Feedster, Bloglines, and Technorati, as well as a few Google News and Yahoo News searches. All of them are fed into my RSS news reader. All told, there are probably 150-200 hits per day and reading them generally takes no more than 15 minutes a day.

Lessons Learned

A product support weblog absolutely will not work if it is simply a place to post traditional marketing information, like press releases. A weblog is only useful if it enables your customers to talk with you in a way they couldn't do otherwise. That takes a bit of time and it needs to be driven by someone who is willing to commit that time to make it work.

Future Direction

We're trying some new things on the weblog, like asking our customers to send in pictures of their SkyBox vendors and Rookie Fridges "in action" as they have them set up in their homes.

We're also looking for new ways to tie into the events that our customers like to participate in. For example, I had an idea to host a March Madness basketball tournament bracket contest in which people would submit a bracket on the weblog to win one of our products after the tournament is over.  Unfortunately, I didn't think about it until watching the brackets being announced, so we didn't do anything with it for this year.

Basically, we're looking for ways to get people who aren't yet our customers to take a look at our products and ways to get people who are our customers to have fun using them.

Gary Petersen On Blogs

Writing a corporate weblog is work, but it is certainly fun work. Shot, I get to write on a weblog as part of my job. How cool is that? Everyone should find a way to do this!

Divo Blogs!

04/15/2005

Diva's today Friday's Fun is a list of a some of the Divo's of the blogopshere. Most may be below your radarPink_boa...some are fun...some are edgy...some are smart...but all are worth a click and a read. With a toss of the fluffy pink boa to Shel for the suggestion. So many Divos ... so little time... sigh...

Sidebar: If I missed your blog it was not intentional. Please add it to comment.

 

Radient Marketing Group
View From The Isle
New York One Date At A Time
BlogSavant
Blog Business World
Pheedo
Reasonable Man
PR Communications
Read/Write Web
NevON
Much Ado About Marketing
The Marketing Playbook Men_at_work
The Marketing Diary
JS Logan
How To Blog For Fun And Profit
Easy Bake Weblogs
Duct Tape
Ken Layne
DeanLand
Church of the Customer - Ben McConnell
Brand Autopsy
Blogads
The House of The Squarespace
Ageless Marketing
Cameron Reilly
Mick Splatt
The Wine Dude
Spittoon
Cooking For Engineers
The Blog From City Hall
Keep Trying
HeadSpace
Ensight
Community Mobilzation
Bernie DeKoven's FunLog
Things That Make You Go Hmm
Alf's Blog
Pro Blogger
Butts in the Seats
the [non] billable hour
TSMI Trade Show Marketing Report
Wharton MBA Admissions Blog
Traveling Parent
Dr. Lasky's Blog - Indium Corporation
Rick Short's Blog - Indium Corporation
McChronicles
Blog Business World
Hans On Experience
Rohdesign
Opinion Shapers
Bob Bly
Communication Revolutions
MSDN Student Flash
Joe Reger
Slacker Manager
Risley Ranch
Synthesis Creative
Goldblogger
Stephan Spencer's Scatterings
Corporate Blogging Information
BlogCritics - Eric Olsen
The Voice of the Blog
Kris Krug
Revolutionary Marketing and Sales Strategies
notanotheruselessblog

 

Blog Innovation From Politicians...Again

04/13/2005

Sometimes marketers find innovation in the strangest places. For instance, local politics in Boston are like none. (If you grew up in the Boston area you know exactly what I mean.) Here's an example ....

Steve Garfield (Divine Diva Millie's son) is taking City Councilor John Tobin's blog to the next level. The Councilor is video blogging!  Once again those politicians are ahead of the curve when it comes to blog strategies.

Mister Scott when is Eden Prairie going to vlog?

Biz Blog Profile Series: American Cancer Society Blogs

04/12/2005

Biz Blog Profile: is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and Cancer_wrist_band___hopehigher education institutions are using blogs to support marketing goals.

About The American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is setting the bar high when it comes to developing innovative marketing strategies in the non profit space. For profits...take note!

Lisa (Meyers) Brown, VP of Marketing, American Cancer Society/Eastern is passionate when it comes to fighting cancer. I met Lisa at the Innovations Conference (on social networking) that was chaired by Randal Moss. I was immediately impressed by her creativity, as well as, the leadership position ACS is taking in terms of leveraging technology to support out reach programs.

Lisa is involved in several exciting social networking initiatives, including blogs. Fabulous at 50, is a unique program that supports colon cancer awareness. I love that a blog tactic is integrated into the overall strategy. Team ACS is an online fund raising program that Lisa created. It targets volunteers who participate in marathons, triathlons, bike races and other community events.

Biz Blog Profile: Fabulous at 50 Blog
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary heath organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.

Why ACS is Blogging

Cancer doesn't discriminate, even in the blogosphere. In a broad sense, blogs offer another way for us to reach all kinds of communities and it's a medium that can help us fight cancer - whether staff is internally blogging about best practices and using the blogosphere to facilitate better communication, or whether we're recruiting those touched by cancer to share their experiences as a means to help raise awareness. At the end of the day, this is 100% about our mission and blogs are a means to help us make a difference in the fight against cancer.

How Blogs Fit into ACS's Marketing Strategy

At its most basic function, blogs are examples of how social networks can develop online and facilitate grass roots mobilization. They are starting to play an important role in our marketing strategies.

We are a community-based organization so blogs offer us another touch-point to raise awareness of early detection and prevention.

One key way we can continue to elevate awareness is through the personal experiences of those touched by cancer. We all know there's tremendous power in stories like this and blogs help us tap into this important part of raising awareness.

During National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, we launched a campaign to help raise awareness about the importance of colon cancer screening. We implemented a number of strategies, one of which was to develop a web presence where a limited number of volunteers blogged about their colon cancer screening experience. We then promoted these personal stories (with our bloggers permission) through traditional and new media.

We're also using blogs to discuss the future of the American Cancer Society, particularly as it relates to innovation and change. The Futuring and Innovation Center (FI Center) started a blog sometime ago in effort to increase the dialog about innovation, change makers, organizational change, social change and a host of issues that may affect our mission.

Selling-in To Management

We have an entity of our organization - the Futuring and Innovation Center (FI Center) - that is charged with identifying, testing, and fostering breakthrough innovations. They are constantly on the prowl for new ways to utilize technologies to help fight cancer.

A few months ago, the FI Center hosted a social networking conference and several of our national and division leadership attended. During the two-day gathering, we heard from several experts and well-known bloggers including Judith Meskill, Chris Allen, Stowe Boyd, Jason Calanconis, Liz Lawley and more. It was an intense two days jam packed with information but I think every organization there (ACS convened several national voluntary health organizations) and was sold after hearing from this group.

How ACS is Marketing Blogs

Aside from the colon cancer effort (Fabulous at 50 blog), we really haven't put that much into marketing our blogs. We're still new to the blogosphere and still trying to better understand how we can contribute effectively and strategically.

For the colon cancer awareness initiative we relied on viral tools - Fabulous 50 quiz - earned media efforts and some donated search engine optimization.

Lessons Learned

There are many lessons learned and to be frank, we're still capturing them. Most obviously, we learned that it's not enough to "build it and hope people will come." Our colon cancer blogs, Fabulous At 50, were developed to facilitate the chronicling of these experiences and at the time, we didn't really grasp the importance of regularly updating blogs.

Blogging provided the best technology to chronicle the experiences of our volunteers around Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Hopefully, through these shared stories, others will find strength, not feel so alone, face their fear of getting screened, and fight back however possible (if everyone over 50 got screened for colon caner alone, SO many lives would be saved...colon cancer is actually one type of cancer that can be prevented).

I should point out that this was our first time using blogs this way and that we learned a great deal. Primarily the importance of having volunteers update the blogs regularly and the importance of linking into the blogosphere.

But overall, using blogs in this way did reinforce the power of the medium, the power of personal testimony.

Future Direction

We really want to better integrate blogs into a broader spectrum of our efforts but are still learning about the medium. So our goal, over the next several months, really is to test ideas on a small scale, continue to explore the medium, start listening to the conversations already going on in the blogosphere about cancer. We're still very much in the student mode, trying to learn as much as we can about how this medium can further support our efforts to fight cancer.

Lisa (Meyers) Brown On Blogs

I find it very interesting that this new medium is the result of people wanting to share themselves (opinions, likes, dislikes, etc.) with the world. When you're talking about raising awareness about something like cancer, this type of energy and openness is a step in the right direction.

We all know that half of the battle is often getting people to talk about cancer -- it's still often a scary and intimidating subject. Remember when women dare not say the words "pap smear?" Remember when men dared not discuss getting a PSA test? It's now okay to not only talk about this type of stuff at the dinner table with your family and friends, but also okay to talk about it with strangers around the world ... via mediums like blogs.

Would it be too much of a stretch to suggest that blogs are saving lives ?!?

I'm also extremely interested to see where this medium goes in-general ... we may reach a point where every department of every corporation has a blog to communicate internally and cross-functionally (a la email). We may reach a point where academic courses are conducted on a sort of edu-Blog.
Sidebar: University of Delaware

We may reach a point where society re-defines corporate/social responsibility because of the blogosphere. We may reach a point when instead of having to physically to to the doctor, you visit your doc's blog to access quick remedies. We may reach a point where everyone has a blog and instead of a resume, you market yourself through your blog (alreaCancer__strivesdy happening). We may reach a point where blogging is a first step to dating (already happening). We may reach a point where blogs can help marketers determine product development (already happening).

It's an exciting time!

Sidebar: Lisa's personal blog, The Rhetoric of Me is a must visit also.

 

Free Live Learning

04/11/2005

School_desk Internet-based live radio programs and telconferences are great resources to keep up to date on the latest and greatest in your industry. The big bonus - you can ask those questions that are keeping you up at night and receive a response on-the-spot.

From the speaker's viewpoint, it's a great strategy to reinforce thought leadership positioning from the comfort of your office...or living room... or even pool side (if no one hears the spashes or the clink of those umbrella drinks!).

Want to know how to play in the Google Sandbox or find out what Google's fresh link filter is all about?  Tune into Search Engine Radio and listen to one of the smart guys of search - Wayne Hurlbert, Blog Business World, puts "...complex SEO theories into plain English, so we can all understand them."
Date: April 12th
Time: 12 noon Eastern
Where: Search Engine Radio   

Paul Chaney, the southern gentleman of blogs, Radiant Marketing, is the kick-off guest for a new teleconference series on blogs called Conversations With Experts.
Date: April 13, 2005
Time: 8:30p Eastern
Place:  Conversations With Experts

By the way, Wayne gets around ... join him on April 27th at Conversations With Experts.

More Live Learning
Easy Bake Weblogs
AMA Webcasts

Paris Blog Event

04/10/2005

April in Paris...how romantic. If you want to write off a trip to France there are still a few openings at the LoicLeMeur Wiki - Internet 2.0.  April 25th.

Great line-up of international speakers. Some of the stars of the blogosphere: Doc Searls - Linux Journal, Halley Suitt - Worthwhile, Stowe Boyd - Corante, Jason McCabe Calacanis - WeblogsInc., Ross Mayfield - Socialtext, Meg Hourhan - Blogger and Caterina Fake - Flickr.

Friday Fun: National Geographic Channel Blogs

04/08/2005

National_geographic_channelIf you're a fan of the National Geographic Channel you're going to love this one. NGC recently launched a blog that complements their Explorer program. Great use of blogs to futher engage the audience, and in turn, serve as a valuable information resource for those interested in learning more about the topic.

Tracy Williams, Marketing Manager for New Media, told me that multiple authors will contribute to the blog including program producers, website producers and the hosts. Host Lisa Ling is blogging about this Sunday's episode, Surviving Maximum Security.

Although the show doesn't air until Sunday, April 10th, this thread has been running since March 25th. Comments are open and Ms. Ling is responsive to questions and even poses some of her own.

Let's Talk ... To Our Customers

04/07/2005

Last week I was in a little fender-bender accident. I was ok but my car needed some attention. Into the shop it went where it stayed for a week. Living in Atlanta it’s tough to get around without a car so I leased one from Enterprise…they pick-up and deliver.

I was surprised to receive not 1 but 2 customer service calls - the day after I got the car and the day after I returned it. It was a nice gesture and since nothing was “wrong” they scored high on their 4 point scale.

A few days later the DSL glitched out - once again(!). Minutes after Earthlink’s customer support guy walked me through resetting the computer I received an email customer service survey

With both companies the surveys were brief and structured. Enterprise offered an opportunity for an opened comment or two. Earthlink did not. Although it seemed like they were doing the “right thing” my feeling was it was a numbers game to show the powers that be that all was fine and dandy in the trenches. But did they really find out what I needed or wanted? Was there an opportunty they could have tapped into?

Do you know what your customers want? Marketing strategist, Jim Lange of The Media Center, recently reminded me that our best clients are the experts when it comes to what they need from us and they are experts about us too. According to Jim “the best communication is recipient-based.”

Here’s an easy question for you. When was the last time you talked to your best customers? I don’t mean a ten question scale survey. I don’t mean an email or a blog conversation. But a sit across the table do lunch conversation. If longer than 6-months consider this a gentle nudge…It’s Q2 2005…do you know what your customers want? If you don’t someone else might.