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The Marketers Have Landed on mPlanet


Mplanet AMA's long awaited .. much teased .. conference mPlanet is sharing the spot light today and tomorrow with "The Mouse" in Orlando.  In an "uncoference" envirorment, the event includes over 60 speakers, who will explore "new solutions and trends that will impact 2007 and beyond. The content for Mplanet was developed in collaboration with strategic partners McKinsey and Co., The Wharton School and Spencer Stuart."

Rachelle Lacroix at Fleishman-Hillard extended an invitation to me to join a prestigous group of bloggers who are live blogging the event. Alas (there's that cool text word!) I couldn't coordinate the time on the short notice. Perhaps next year ...

If you're not in sunny FL today and want to peek into mPlanet you have lots of options starting with interviews with many of the presenters on the AMA radio show. The BloggersJosh Hallett is posting, as usual, great photos .. along with his always on-target commentary. Looking forward to Ann Handley's views too.

AMA's blog has some updates as well .. thus far no photos or behind the scene stories. One suggestion for next year .. take a cue from WOMMA and please ask bloggers to cross post on their blogs and on a central mPlanet blog. It seems most posts are tagged mPlanet .. but it would have been nice to have all this rich content in one place.

Diva waves to friends at mPlanet  .. Dana VanDen Huevel and Eric Kintz who are presenting. Sybil Stershic, a past AMA Chairman of the Board, Pat Goodrich and Ana Maria Herrarte who traveled all the way from San Salvador. Paula Oyer Berezin and her committee for what I am sure was a zillion hours worth of work! Oh yes, and hi to Dennis Dunlap too - (Josh's post on Dennis' Opening Speech).

Would love to have your take on the event. If you are/were at mPlanet please drop a comment and  your give me your impressions of AMA's 20-year long event in the making.

Rachelle has kindly offered summaries of the presentations. If thing hits your fancy let me know and I'll see what I can do ...

Part II Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye


Kiss_theory_good_bye_1 In Part II of Diva Marketing's interview with Bob Prosen author of Kiss Theory Good Bye Bob offers marketers two keys on How To Rub Shoulders With the CXO’s, Five Positive Habits That Get Companies Places Fast and more. (Part I of Diva Marketing's interview with Bob Prosen)

2 Free Kiss Theory Good Bye books to Diva's readers.

Before you get into part II, Bob has generously offered 2 Free Kiss Theory Good Bye books to Diva's readers. The first 2 people to drop a comment on this post and request the book will find themselves with quite an interesting read.

Toby/Diva Marketing - I believe it was President Truman who said, “The buck stops here.” However, how involved should employees be in developing processes and in decision marking?

Bob Prosen - Yes, the buck stops with the leader. But every decision shouldn’t end up on the leaders desk. It’s important to remember that the higher up you go in an organization the fewer decisions you should be make.However, the magnitude of those decisions is far greater. For this to work others within the organization must take responsibility for day-to-day decisions or the organization will become stymied, slow to act and less competitive.

When it comes to developing processes, I use the following rule of thumb: Managers work on the process and employees work in the process. Meaning, managers are responsible for approving processes that employees help design. Because process changes generally require reallocation of resources, its management’s responsibility to approve such changes since they control the budget.

Toby/Diva Marketing - I found Kiss Theory Good Bye to be very insightful. The book addresses leadership, sales, finance and operations and customer loyalty. However, strategic marketing seems to be relegated to a step-child role. In fact, one example even placed the responsibility of developing the product mix in the hands of the financial team.

“The products with the smaller margins were being sold to make quota. The solution recommended by finance was to change the sales incentive plan to encourage the sale of the higher-margin products.” Page 88

The decision to sell higher-margin items did not appear to take into account, the market or customer dynamics. Perhaps the lower-margin products were loss leaders that led to the sale of higher margin items. Perhaps the lower-margin products were a strategy to enter a new market. Perhaps the lower-margin products were the glue of a customer loyalty strategy.

That is not to say, that sales and marketing should not be ROI-based or accountable. However, it appears that this was a short-term fix to what might be a more complex situation.  It also seemed that the organization was comprised of tightly held silos if the marketing team wasn’t brought into the discussion. Perhaps the conversations should have begun with marketing and included finance.

That said, where do you see strategic marketing in the c-level suite?

Bob Prosen - Toby, I agree with you that today most companies do relegate marketing to a step-child role which is very unfortunate. Often times marketing is like a diamond in the rough and will only show its brilliance when the CEO respects the ROI it delivers. So for any marketer who wants to rub shoulders with the CXO’s here are the two keys:

First - Marketing must understand and communicate in the language of business leaders, this includes knowing how their programs impact earnings, cash flow, ROI and NVP. If not, marketing will be underutilized and viewed strictly as a discretionary expense that is continuously targeted for budget cuts.

Second, make sure your best friend in the company is the head of Sales, because he or she is always seated at the planning table. Here’s how it should work. When sales is asked to commit to the top line they should agree only if the required marketing plans are approved. A tight relationship with sales makes marketing invaluable.

Smaller companies rarely have to deal with this because they don’t have a dedicated marketing department. Instead, the CEO and head of sales take on the responsibility with accounting in the background keeping score.

Toby, your question is spot on! I recently delivered a keynote presentation at a Business Marketing Association conference on this very subject – What Top CEO’s Expect From marketing. It’s a hard-hitting presentation packed with specific actions that, when employed, will dramatically enhance the power of marketing.

Getting Places Fast

Toby/Diva Marketing - To wrap up our interview, you describe five crippling habits that get companies no where fast:
1.    Absence of clear direction
2.    Lack of accountability
3.    Rationalizing inferior performance
4.    Planning in lieu of action
5.    Aversion to risk and change

Can you give Diva Marketing readers Five Positive Habits That Get Companies Places Fast?

Bob Prosen -
1.    Hire people smarter than yourself
2.    Deliver on commitments
3.    Develop an accountability based culture
4.    Under promise and over deliver 
5.    Reward results not activities

Toby/Diva Marketing - Looking in your crystal ball, would you share your thoughts with Diva’s readers about the challenges and opportunities you see in store for the next generation of businesses and business leaders?

Bob Prosen - We’re entering that next generation as we speak. One of the biggest challenges is information overload and how do you stand out given the unbridled accessibility to the customer and all of the social and Web 2.0 bombardment they are subject to.

What will separate the winners from the losers is the ability to use this technology in such a way that future clients want to hear from you.

The other challenge is the changing work ethic of the Generation Y employee who demands a balanced life. Winners will have created an environment where employees are encouraged to “kiss theory good bye and kiss their life hello” thereby attracting and retaining top talent.

The answer is creating the right work environment combined with state of the art technology that enables this life balance.

Part I Interview With Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye


Bob Prosen's new book Kiss_theory_good_bye Kiss Theory Good Bye begins with the line, "Business Leaders  Need Less Talk and more action." My notes to self were "Right on Bob!" Then I read his Acknowledgement, "To my faithful schnauzer, Oreo, who brings me joy and endless companionship." How can you not at least try to read a book that is dedicated to the author's dog. And so I did.

Sidebar: One of the nice benefits of writing a business blog is that authors sometimes send copies of their work. My agreement is that I'll read, as time permits, and instead of a (yawn) book report review they agree to a mini interview for Diva's readers.

Our conversation was longer than I anticipated and Bob's responses so in-depth that I split the interview into two parts. In Part I of my interview with Bob Prosen we talked about the impact social media has on developing business leadership, the role accountability culture plays in business and more.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Let’s set the stage for this mini interview by first talking about leadership. We live in a world where technology plays a critical role in many business processes.  However, how do you think that technology, and specifically social media, has impacted the dynamics of business leadership?

Bob Prosen -  Social media is having a profound impact on the way we look at business. Blogs allow us to discuss and study issues almost instantaneously in a way where PC doesn’t carry the day. Take for instance the recent HP scandal. Leaders can no longer take refuge behind friendly reporters or PR spin machines. Because information is instantly available, tough questions are asked which leads to greater transparency.

Some leaders are proactively using technology to their advantage. Done effectively, leaders can get their message out to many constituencies quickly and inexpensively. Advances in video and audio technology remove any excuse leaders had for not communicating with employees on a regular basis. What this means is that leaders can maintain alignment across the enterprise and speed decision-making, which leads to, increased competitiveness and profits.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Do you believe there are different skill sets a leader should bring to a start-up operation versus a more mature organization?

Bob Prosen - Absolutely! The environments are completely different even though the goals are the same. Both want increased performance and profit. However, this is where the similarities end. Start ups have different challenges. Here are a few of the key ones. They have a shorter runway. In other words, less time to get it right before they run out of capital. They have to make quick decisions without the benefit of history.Every employee matters and must be able to wear multiple hats. Finally, the leader can’t be afraid to fail.

Personally, I prefer the start-up environment. It’s more exciting and everyone has the chance to make a real difference. Once a company makes it, leadership must adapt and change. It’s a different ball game leading a professionally managed company versus a start-up. Here’s the challenge. Being able to maintain an entrepreneurial culture inside a growing company where procedures and policies are required to maintain alignment, ensure quality and improve efficiencies. Sometimes it means the leader has to change.

Organizational Culture
Toby/Diva Marketing - You mentioned an interesting statistic that although 70% of business leaders say their companies’ objectives are clearly defined, only 48% of employees understand the organization’s goals.

Bob Prosen - This is interesting. In fact, one might say it doesn’t make sense. How can goals and objectives be clearly defined and employees not know what they are? The only sensible answer is that these leaders either keep the information to themselves or even worse, fail at communications.

Organizations that are aligned where everyone knows what’s important, how they fit in, what’s expected of them and how they will be rewarded will out perform their competitors. It makes no sense for leaders to know the objectives and then struggle to explain why the organization falls short of achieving them. The leaders job is to ensure everyone who reports to her wins! This can only be realized when the entire organization pulls in the same direction – and goals set the direction.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Going back into the organization, what extent do you feel culture influences a highly profitable company?  How can senior management create a culture that permeates and ensures that culture is reflected through out the organization from HR’s hiring to internal communications to employee buy-in of values?

Bob Prosen - Let’s start by defining culture. Simply put, it’s the way things get done. The unspoken hand that guides what people do, and, it’s undocumented. It begins at the top and no one else can set it. Therefore, the leader must establish the organization’s culture or risk wandering off course just like a ship without a rudder.

Personally, I like an accountability based culture because it’s easy to explain, everyone gets it and it works. In fact, one of the top questions I’m asked is how to create accountability so I developed a formula that works in any organization. Here’s a great way HR can help establish an accountability based culture.

Think about all the people you’ve worked with that got results, you liked working with them and nothing stood in their way of achieving their goals. No one had to hold them accountable because they did so on their own. Now think about all the people you’ve worked with that constantly complained, failed to deliver on commitments, fell short of the desired goal, had to be motivated, cajoled and performance managed. These people are not innately accountable and don’t like others holding them accountable. This tells me we better screen for accountability during the hiring process.

Creating or changing an organization’s culture is one of the toughest jobs a leader has. Done well, things just seem to work. Done poorly, it’s a constant struggle. After hearing all the horror stories I decided to demystify culture and make it simple to understand and shape. To learn more read chapter two of Kiss Theory Good Bye – Superior Leadership, and pay special attention to page 34.

Continue reading "Part I Interview With Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye"

A Blogger's Thanksgiving Prayer


It was 12:17a and I dropped the white chocolate Baileys cheesecake with the awesome chocolate graham cracker/ginger snaps crust that I spent hours making to take to Paula's for Thanksgiving. Spat on the floor as I was putting it into the fridge. What a mess!

As I wait for round 2 to bake, it seemed like a good time to write a random thoughts Blogger's Thanksgiving Prayer.

Thanksgiving Thank you goddess of the internet for opening the doors to conversations with people around the world.

Thanks for the friendships that are made through and because of these funny little websites called blogs.

Thanks for Technorati suddenly finding 527 new links.

Thank you for the sudden post idea just as I am sure I'll never have another creative thought.

Thanks for readers whose comments extend and expand the conversation.

Thanks for readers who give bloggers a break when posts are not always at their best.

Thanks for the bloggers who though they may disagree, show kindness.

Thanks for the bloggers who generously link and trackback.

Thanks for RSS that encourages blogs to flourish and go where no website has gone.

Thanks for the "ancestor" bloggers who showed the way to a new world.

Thanks for the brave "pioneer bloggers" who put themselves out there day after day after day. It's not always easy to forge a new path and go in untried directions.

Thank you for friends and family, who may not always know what we do, but who put up with us anyway.

Thanks for the people who are committed to making social media a credible industry.

Thank you for opening doors to opportunities that came as a result of blogging.

Thank you the adventure, the fun, the frustration and the magic of blogs.

Little Max Max_may_06_1 and I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Please feel free to add your own "thanks."

Friday Fun: New Blog Story Chapters


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Story_girl_1 Today's Friday Fun includes a couple of new chapters from Blogger Stories. Blogger Stories is a special blog that I launched to tell the stories of how people have been touched by blogs, podcasts, vlogs and other online interactions. Building a library of stories gives us an opportunity to understand how lives have been influenced by social media .. from the heart.

Bedtime stories site for bloggers, where blogging dreams and posts may change the world. - A Bugged Life

Girlfriend, ho ho ho present time is only weeks away so it seems appropriate to tell Pinny Gniwisch's story of bling and movie star gossip wrapped in a business blog strategy. Easton Ellsworth's tale combines both the head and heart of blogging .. nice to keep in mind as we head into the holiday season.

Easton Ellsworth, BusinessBlogWire, Know More Media
Pinny Gniwisch, Sparkle Like The Stars, Just Ask Leslie

Now 62 Stories .. Read A Blogger Story or two!

Astrology_15 business astrology for fun -

from The Astro Divas Paula Dare & Donna Page

There is a lot of planetary energy that is shifting this week. I know you’ll be happy to hear that Mercury is turning Direct tonight. Miscommunications should clear up and hopefully the gremlins that have invaded your computer will vanish.

Many of you – especially the Scorpios – may have been experiencing the intense effects this past month from 5 planets in Scorpio. You should begin to feel your load lighten as the energy moves to carefree Sagittarius.

The New Moon occurs on Monday which is a good time to start new projects, but you may not accomplish a lot at work this week as Thanksgiving approaches on Thursday, I can guarantee you will have a lot of work at home if you’re the one cooking the Turkey dinner. Uranus also turns Direct before the New Moon. Expect unexpected change.

View of Social Media From The Class of 2003-04


Diva Marketing was launched in the spring of 2004 before buzz words like "community" and "engagement" came into vogue. Back then it was simply about creating conversations and building friendships with clients, prospects and colleagues. Social media visionary Paul Chaney will forever hold a special place in my heart as the first blogger I met in person.

Paul has invited a few bloggers, including moi, from the Class of 2003-04 to celebrate the evolution of business blogs with a look back in time of where we were and how we go here and now. Unlike any "school" I ever attended our lessons flew fast and furiously thru cyberspace like Paper_airplane shooting paper airplanes. We learned from each other on blogs with a few emails, skype calls, midnight IMs and precious in-person meet-ups. My interview is up and here's a snippet.
Sidebar: My interview is written in a rather unedited, random thought style.

How have you seen blogging change or evolve since you started?
Corporations are considering blogs as a credible marketing strategy.
The "just blogs" has grown into a complex social media eco system (another buzz word!) that includes: authoring blogs for strategic purposes, blogger relations, consumer generated research. Within each of those aspects are challenges and opportunities.

Soon interviews with great biz bloggers like: Yvonne DiVita, Wayne Hurlbert, Tris Hussey, Elisa Camahort and more. Be sure to catch them on Strategic Business Blogging at All Business. Perhaps Paul will add his too!

The Ying & Yang of Blogging


Yingandyangprintc10089354Tomorrow Marianne Richmond and I have the pleasure of conducting a workshop for a Fortune 500 company. In respect for their privacy, bloggy transparency is suspended. So instead, since I’m among friends on Diva Marketing, I wanted to mind-dump some thoughts that run through my head before every workshop and presentation I do on social media/blogs.

Oh sure, the presentation is created. Pretty Power Point slides that we spent days and days crafting. But the soul of the session is where my thoughts turn hours before I meet people who are new to social media. Paying gig or not – when the ‘curtain goes up’ it can not be about me .. it must be about them. And each group is unique with their own challenges, concerns and assumptions.

So I think …

How can I best convey the excitement of a new marketing opportunity that opens the doors to customer communications? How can I help them appreciate that something as odd sounding as a “Blog” and yet as simple as “a little website where people can talk back to you” is changing the dynamics and the paradigm of marketing and of business?

How can I help them understand that yes, the new and innovative usually comes with a few risks, but the rewards far out weigh the downside .. if you understand the rules and culture of this game. And yes, you can indeed color outside the lines IF, as in jazz, you first understand the basic notes. I’m betting Jeneane Sessum's musician, blogger, husband George Sessum, could give us a few hints.

: Girlfriend, love that word – Alas. We’d never use it in verbal conversation but it is so fun to throw in when are text talking!

How can I convay the idea that similar to the ancient Ying and Yang concept, business blogs are not completely from the head (strategy) nor from the heart (passion). The most successful are a combination of both. They can not exist without each other.

If I were David Armano or Dave Gray I might draw clever diagrams. Alas, words and enthusiasm are my tools.  So I fool around with words and ideas and hope that a little passion goes a long way.   Here’s a play on B-L-O-G that I had fun with today.

B - Businesses
L – Listening & Learning
O – Opportunities
G – (for) Growth

Graphic complements of Dominique Gaudin

Friday Fun: Little Acts Of Kindness


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

When you're on the road for business, eating alone seems more the norm than not. Most times I'm okay with that. I use the time to catch up on "thoughts" or people watch and write blog posts in my mind that will probably never find their way to Diva Marketing. But Girlfriend, sometimes it can be lonely and awkward.

Last week my plane was late getting into Phoenix, where I was speaking about using blogs to build better service relationships, at the ASU's Compete Through Services Symposium. I was tired, hungry and a little frazzled when I walked into the Bistro at The Ritz Carlton Phoenix (sometimes these speaking gigs do have their perks!) to have dinner.  As the  waiter showed me to a table for one, two women, who were having dinner, waved to me and invited me to join them. Barbara Glanz turned out to be the end key note speaker and Krista Leintz was an attendee.  Little Acts of Kindness.

And little did I know that Barbara Glanz'sCarebig kindness would be a living example of her presentation - The Simple Truths of Service. Barbara is passionate about building customer loyalty through customer service. As Barbara told us, you can't mandate customer service. Excellent customer service comes from both the heart as well as the head. That usually doesn't just happen. The culture of your organization has to support and encourage Little Acts of Kindness.

I listened to her tell story after story of creative, but simple ways, people within companies engaged with their customers. Barbara tells people to, "Put you personal signature on the job."

Then there is Johnny The Bagger a young man who happens to have Downs Syndrome. Johnny puts a though of the day in every order he bags. Customers come into the store, patiently wait in Johnny's line, just to get Johnny's quote of the day. "Johnny brought his heart to his job. He focused on what he could do in his daily work to make his customers feel special and their lives a little better." Little Acts of Kindness.

Light bulb moment. This is so bloggy thought I. Why not incorporate blogs into your customer service strategies? Why not have a Johnny The Bagger Blog?

Ten Simple Truths of Service

1. Great Service Inspires Stories/Memories.
Tip: Collect and record customer service stories

2. Great Service Uses Outside-The-Box Thinking
Tip: Encourage and reward creativity and innovation

3. Great Service Is A Choice
Tip: Understand the choices you have to engage with your customers. Teach employees to look for these touch points.

4. Great Service Starts With A Clear Vision

Tip: Management must first have a focused vision and be enthusiastic about the importance of excellent customer service.

5. Great Service Requires That Everyone Catch The Vision
Tip: Ensure that all employees understand and buy-into the vision

6. Great Service Surprises People
Tip: Have fun. If you're having fun at your job it will spill over to other employees and your customers

7. Great Service Begins With Anyone
Tip: Everyone in your organization is responsible for creating Little Acts of Kindness.

8. Great Service Goes The Extra Mile
Tip: Give employees the authority to Serve customers without going through channels

9. Great Service Brings Customers Back
Tip: Benchmark and monitor customer retention statistics

10. Great Customer Service Comes From The Heart
Tip: Manage on both business and human levels

Bottom-line .. your customers have click-of-the-mouse choices. From the heart customer service builds stronger relationships and can differentiate you from your competition. Little Acts of Kindness .. works!

Lessons Learned: Let's take our cue from Johnny The Bagger. What little Acts of Kindness can you implement in your business that will make your customers feel appreciated and special? In doing so you will not only create a much needed point of difference for your business, but a memorable "signature."  I'd love to hear what you're doing. Please drop a comment and share your experience.


Astrology_15 business astrology for fun -

from The Astro Divas Paula Dare & Donna Page

Happy Friday Diva fans; this could be a very interesting weekend for many of us. The planets are lining up asking us to have a good time, Moon in Leo shouts let loose, play enjoy life from one corner with the other team of players in Scorpio wanting intensity passion and focus.

You may have plenty of homework to do on your business agenda but feel like throwing it to the wind until you are back in the mood. Set aside allotted time to focus and regroup your long term vision, then allow your inner child to come out and play.

Notes From Services Leadership Symposium


It's about the stories.

That's how Steve Brown, Executive Director and Professor of Marketing at W. P. Carey School of Business opened day two ofServices_symposium The 17th Annual Compete Through Service Symposium

Last week I had the honor to speak at one of the best bloggy conferences around. The 17th Annual Compete Through Service Symposium presented by the Center for Services Leadership W. P. Carey School of Business at the University of Arizona.  The focus of the symposium was service as a competitive advantage.

Girlfriend, I can hear the bloggers now. "That doesn't sound like a Web 2.0 or Business Blog Conference or even a BlogHer event." And they would be right. It was not. But the Service Symposium was just as bloggy. Maybe more so because the speakers that Steve Brown and Mary Jo Bitner brought together walked the talk of combining transparency, culture, customer and employee respect into their organizations. Sure sounded bloggy to me.

Sidebar: The icing on the cake was an article written about my session, Is your company ready to blog?, that is included in the prestigious Knowledge@W. P Carey, an online resource of the W.P. Carey School of Business that offers business information and trends. My favorite line from Carrie Barrett's article -

" ..  (a) well-executed business blog is part marketing, part magic -- a 24-hour opportunity to interact with customers, impress Wall Street, spark business-to-business opportunities, track industry trends, spot brand deterioration and spook competitors, all maintained at a low-rent cyber address.

I intended to post a recap of my favorite take aways, however, there were so many interesting and important points I wanted to share, to make an easier read, I've split them into a series of posts. Next year live blogging. Right Steve?

Globalization of Services

Gary Bridge
, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Global Lead, Internet Business Solutions Group
Cisco Systems

  • My notes to self about Gary read, "Elegant, passionate speaker."
  • Watch the growth of China. Did you know that Wal-Mart is the 8th largest trading partner of China?
  • Dell is building a multi million dollar call center in Ireland to support customer service of its mid and large size customers. Seems there was a culture challenge with their outsourced labor (surprise!). Which reinforces the importance of understanding the culture of both/all countries involved in off shore out sourced initiatives.
  • The healthcare industry is off shore out sourcing claims management and even radiology analysis
  • Question: Can service innovation be out sourced?

Atul Vashistha, CEO, Author of The Offshore Nation: Strategies for Success in Global Outsourcing and Offshoring neoIT

"Boarderless services" is how Atul positioned the increase in off shore outsourcing. As companies look for competitive advantage off shore out sourcing of core activities will play a more prominent role in the new business model.

7 Secrets of Successful Globalizers

1. Embrace globalization - Understand the advantages of operating in different countries beyond cost saving to growth and quality improvement opportunities.

2. Welcome globalization as a transformation lever - Determine how can globalization be used to build competitive advantage.

3. Adopt a life cycle approach - Build a plan to manage the entire process on an on-going basis.

4. Align business and globalization objectives - Determine if your company is right to adopt a globalization strategy. Is business strategy driving services globalization? What part of the business strategy does globalization help us execute?

5. Assign the best people - Strong, well-placed internal leaders help ensure support of the initiative and maintain the quality.

6. Implement a strong governance model - Prevents the breakdown of the initiative after the roll out.

7. Embrace a continuous improvement mindset - Develop measures to establish benchmarks, goals and expectations. 

Seems everyone I meet has at least one horror customer service story about off shore customer/tech support service. Let's hope companies put resources against this strategy to do it right.

Strategic Approach To Biz Blogs


Blogging is complex, and each company approaches blogging differently.
                    - Northeastern University/Backbone Media Blogging Success Study

The quote, from a recent study conducted by Northeastern University/Backbone Media Blogging Success StudyEllington_surveys, is near and dear to my heart. The research validates what I've been talking about and have believed since waaay back in 2004 .. Her passion for blogging is as a marketing tactic. This revealed a different perspective from that of most bloggers we asked." "Naked Conversations - Consultants Who Get It" by Shel Israel & Robert Scoble.

  1. Blogs/social media can be used as a credible marketing strategy
  2. To be successful blogs must incorporate a strategic direction

Within a very short time .. less than 2-years .. the website with the odd little name - "Weblog," better known as "Blog" is becoming a sophisticated, marketing strategy with multiple aspects.

Four Aspects of Business Blogging

  1. Authoring a business/marketing blog
  2. Using blogs as an external promotional tactic
  3. Monitoring blogs as a research tactic
  4. Reading blogs to gain professional development knowledge

Should your organization include a blog strategy? If you're considering stepping into social media I would ask you to answer just two little questions to determine if you're ready to jump into authoring a corporate blog

One: Can your organization support the open, conversational, transparent culture of blogging?

Two: Will blogs help solve a business challenge or support your overall marketing strategy?

If the answers to Both are Yes .. you have a good chance to succeed. If either one is No .. the timing is not right .. yet.

Don't be discouraged or feel badly. Social media is a huge paradigm switch in business attitude. It can be a challenge, and leap of faith, for some people to accept that business as usual is changing. In a world of easy online publishing (blogs, podcasts, vlogs) the marketer's job has morphed from tightly controlling the brand messaging to managing the brand message. Your company will get it .. sooner or later. If not, Girlfriend, you might want to consider creating a living bio blog <wink>.

However, while you're working on internal issues you can begin to participate in the conversation by reading blogs and monitoring the blogosphere for customer buzz about your brands and for industry trends. When you feel comfortable drop a comment on a blog and see where it takes you. Ta da! You are now an active participate in the exciting world wide discussion. Your opinion is part of the the biggest knowledge base ever invented .. the world wide web. But no time to sip an appletini - tho a quick bite of chocolate might be in order to celebrate. There are more blogs to read and more comments to write.

What determines the reasons, conditions and factors that make a blog successful? What criteria should organizations use to assess whether and how they should engage in blogging?

These were the objectives in the Blogging Success Study released Nov 2, 2006 by Dr. Walter Carl, the students in his Advanced Organizational Communications class (Spring 2006) at Northeastern University and John Cass and his colleagues at Backbone Media, Inc.

Toss of a pink boaPink_boa_17 to Dr. Carl and John Cass for providing the research and the background interviews. Not only is this an great start for businesses to begin to understand how to do blogs right but the interview transcripts provide an in-depth look at the lessons learned from the participants who were early adopters to business blogging.  Interesting note: the research/findings report are posted on a blog with each section as a unique post. Comments are open on all posts. You rock!

Blog Brags: My dear friend and client Donna Lynes-Miller, GourmetStation was included in the study. Donna continues to do innovative work in this space. Delicious Destinations includes a series of guest bloggers: an English butler, a Tuscan B&B owner, a wine consultant and a customer who share their experiences about food, travel, wine and the good life.

Rick Short, Indium Corporation (Rick Short's Blog,Dr. Lasky's Blog)and Deb Franke and Jim Cahill, Emerson Process Management (Emerson Process Experts) were participants in the American Marketing Association's Hot Topic Workshop: Blogs Beyond The Website that I had the honor and pleasure of chairing.

Bottom-line .. without a strategic approach and integration into your overall marketing plan a blog is a me too play toy. Which is fine if all you want is to be cool at cocktail parties. 

Sidebar: The graphic is a cartoon that was made for my mom and dad's marketing research biz - Ellington Surveys. As you can tell fashions have changed as has the market research industry.