Strategic Approach To Biz Blogs

11/05/2006

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.

Friday Fun: Cereal Goes Chic

09/08/2006

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.

Never know what might inspire a Friday Fun post. Today's Friday Fun is complements of of Wendy, a grad student at Florida International University. Wendy is studying finance and did her undergrad work at the University of Texas. 

Cereal_bowl__3 Last week I received an email with the subject line - Cool Story for your blog

Bloggers frequently receive PR pitches for new products but this email wasn't slick. It seemed real to me.

I'm a big fan of your blog....I just came back from this cool place in Miami which is also opening up in Gainesville and Atlanta later this year its called The Cereal Bowl.

However, I shot Wendy an email asking if she was affiliated with the company or an agency. I can only imagine what ran through Wendy's mind as she ready those questions. She emailed back that she was a student and just thought I'd find this new restaurant fun.

We thought it would be cool if Wendy wrote a review. So Divas and Divos, for your reading pleasure, -drum roll - here is Wendy's first blog post, Diva Marketing Blog's first restaurant review and first guest blog author! 
Sidebar: I think Wendy shot the photos and if you look very closely you can see a reflection of her taking the outdoor shot.

Cereal Is Not Just For Saturday Morning Cartoons
    By Diva Wendy, Favorite Cereal: General Mills Trix

After first reading about The Cereal Bowl I was skeptical about the idea of paying to eat cereal outside of the home. My friends finally dragged me down there and the place was nothing like I had envisioned it. Cereal_bowl__1

It really was like a Coldstone for cereals. All of the cereal and topping options that could make you head spin. One of the things that really surprised me was how extensive their menu was. It wasn't just cereal like you would find it in a bowl but they had come up with lots of creative ways that I never thought you could do cereal.Cereal_bowl__2

My favorite however was the Freeze 'N Flakes which was a machine that blended cereals into a soft serve ice cream to make it take on the flavor of the cereal. As far as the atmosphere goes think ok a funky Starbucks that is cool enough for college kids but not to stuffy where it would turn off families. Overall my experience was pleasantly surprising and I can't wait to go back.

My new favorite cereal is Kraft's Grape-Nuts Trail Mix Crunch. What's your favorite cereal?

Sidebar: Great example of customer evangelism.

Astrology_14 business astrology for fun -
from The
Astro Divas
Paula Dare & Donna Page

Happy Friday Diva babes…. Are you all still buzzing from the full moon eclipse last night?

If your friends and coworkers seem off center and emotional well that is the norm for now. This weekend we have Mars moving into Libra and the moon in Aries, the question is how can we get what we want but still be fair? Or do we really need to make compromises to be able to get our desires met?

Business should be running at full speed next week, stay focused on your top priorities.  With the moon in Gemini and Saturn moving at a good clip the tendency to be scattered with too many projects and too little time is a major problem.

 

Garbage: The Next Ad Fad?

08/17/2006

It's no secret that it's a tough job breaking thru the clutter of messaging and into the hearts and minds of your target audience. Seems any blank space where there are a few eyeballs is fair game .. Airtran_aug_06from ads on airplane napkins to ads on grocery store conveyor belts to video ads on golf carts. Girlfriend, believe it or not, the City of Atlanta was even considering beaming ads off the moon during the 1996 Olympic  Games.

Taking a bit of a leap .. here's a twist to the ad game. Justin Gignac, creative director of the Toy Agency, is helping the NYC Sanitation Department by picking up trash. It's not just a good samaritan thing .. he's turning it into art and selling it for real $. He estimated he's pulled in between $10k - $15k.

Why NYC Garbage Art? It was an experiment in the influence of packaging. As any good marketer knows it's all in the packaging .

""Someone said packaging wasn't that important, and I disagreed," he said. I figured the only way to test that theory was to package something that nobody would ever want. If you could get someone to buy it, you would know the package design was successful."

Can you brand garbage? Justin Gignanc thinks you can. Nyc_garbage_2His next project is in location garbage art from around baseball stadiums. Justin got lucky with the url for his website nycgarbage.com. How about a NYC Garbage Blog?

Taking a bit of a leap .. will garbarge be the next ad fad? There are a few folks like Hugh, Gaping Void, and BL, whatsnextblog, who might say it's not a future fad it's here now.

Heard it from: Ad Age

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I Love Bloggers

03/29/2006

Kisses I love bloggers. Really I do. Even those A-list bloggers who pretend that they are not..don't want to be and are stepping down from their A-list bloggy towers. Even those bloggers who sometimes get on a rant and want to 'save the blogosphere' from itself. Even the geek bloggers and the mommy bloggers. And of course the seniors like Millie and Ronnie.

Why do I love bloggers? Most. Most. Most. Bloggers are ... curious people who are in a continuous learning mode. They like to push the envelope. They're brave about sharing themselves and their ideas. They're friendly, generous and kind. And they love to talk about blogging! (My non bloggy friends will only let me talk blogs for seconds. Except Max of course, who listens most of the time. Tho I think that's because he knows he'll end up with doggy chocolate kisses!).

Sidebar
: Don't tell me about the bloggers who are mean, closed minded and evil. I know all that. Read the first words above Most. Most. Most.

For the students at Bentley College who might ask, "What does this have to do with marketing?" It's part of the networking game babes. It's all about the Corner Grocery Store relationship. It's all about the conversation. If I like you and you like me we're more likely to do business together, pass along referals, serve as a resouce. Call it Web 2.0 Networking or any thing you like ...  Read Scott's, Pothole on the Infobahn, Top Ten Questions on Web 2.0 very funny.

Read Carol's, Driving in Traffic's take on the Atlanta Biz Blog dinner at Grape at the Forum. And the generous post by Josh at hyku (Josh has links to all) and the Diva Potato Chip Girl who brought along a cute non bloggy friend to dinner because she didn't know that bloggers would totally love her - even without samples of Potato Finger Chips! Jory, Lisa and Elisa ... I see an Atlanta BlogHer contingency in our future.

Toss of a pink boa Pink_boa_12to Teresa & Josh thanks for pulling this together!

This is networking the "C-Generation" style. Divas & Divos, it's buzz word time .. taking a drink of the Kool Aid .. throw in some gin or vodka or tequila if you must.

C - Generation: People who create and consume their own content while creating community.

Oh, one more reason to love bloggers...most bloggers...they're just fun!

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A New Era For Marketing Research

01/09/2006

Ann_girls__2A fav blogging divo, Michael Bawden - Much Ado About Marketing is running a series on the value of marketing research. How I wish Michael had been in the room with me today when a client said, "Why do we need to spend the money on the research? We know what our customers want." <grr!>  Interestingly, it was the VP of Ops who convenienced the guy that what he thought he knew about his customers might just not be the reality of the situation.

The marketing research profession is entering an exciting (and some may find frightening) phase in its development of data collection and analysis. The field (literally!) has gone from (when my dad Lou Bloomberg, was in the biz) asking questions in door-to-door interviewing to listening to virtual conversations. Granted, the use of consumer generated media as a credible research tool is in its infancy (researchers move slowly...look how long it took for firms to embrace online research); however, consumer generated media is too rich to overlook. Some companies are beginning to explore CGM (consumer generated media) as a supplement to traditional research for information about:

  • Brand buzz -who.what.where
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Product development and improvement
  • Pre launch buzz
  • Early warning crisis management
  • Advertising effectiveness
  • Voice of the customer

I understand that Chrysler is using CGM to track trends. They've gone from mining data at a high level - sensibilities about specific models to a more granular level of information about features and attributes. The next step is better understanding the influencers and how the information flows.

Marketing research professionals are challenged to:

  • Incorporate CGM information into the findings from traditional methodologies
  • Develop a standard of credibility that is acceptable by practitioners and, I should also add, academics
  • Understand what is white noise and what is significant information without sanitizing the data

Here's one to ponder...courtesy of divo market researcher, Greg Rathjen - Marketecture, from Gregory Batson -

Information is any difference that makes a difference.

Read More About Consumer Generated Media
WSJ - Marketers Scan Blogs For Insights

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Marketing To Hispanics Online

11/03/2005

AOL/Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy 2005 was in the goodie bags at the AiMA Hispanic event that took place last week.  You might be surprised to learn Hispanics are coming online quickly.  However, although there are significant opportunities to tap this market, keep top  of mind, it is comprised of multiple niches - each with their own concerns, needs and challenges. That said there are some points that run across all niches.

Almost half (44%) of the adult Hispanic population has access to the internet at home. The study shows that Hispanics are in search of communities that reflect their lifestyles, issues and concerns. The recurring dominate theme is improvement, self-improvement - and making a better life for their kids.

Key Findings From The AOL/Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy 2005 Research

Empowering Trends
-Give their children advantages and in turn be "good" parents
-Communicate with others, not only by email, but even more so than the General Online Population, via chat rooms and online bulletin boards.
-Be smart consumers, educating them about products and services they didn't know about before.
-Find entertainment - music, video clips, movies

Entertainment and Movies
-Online Hispanics rely on the internet for entertainment information far more than the general online market, preferring it to other media for the breadth and depth of information provided and its 24/7 availability
-Online Hispanics are powerful word of mouth agents for the movies - more than twice as likely as others to chat about movies online and to send links to others.

Consumer Products
-The online Hispanic population is very positive about the internet as a source of consumer information. As a group they find the internet a convenient, accessible and high quality resource for information for their household goods.
-Online Hispanics depend on the internet to be more educated consumers. In fact, online information influences off-line purchasing. Four in ten print out online information to bring to the stores.

Read More About Marketing to the Hispanic Community
AOL Hispanic
Mundo Hispanic
Batanga
Sidebar: An RSS feed would be a great strategy.
Cheskin Marketing To Hispanics
Creating a Targeted Direct Mail Campaign
Reaching Hispanics Online -iMedia
Marketing to Hispanics Online - JupiterResearch
Sidebar: Nice piece of research including charts and online activities
Hispanic Business

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!

Vote Carrie: Blog Campaign Strategy

09/26/2004

Vote_carrie_2
The innovative folks at TBS interactive marketing are using a double-edge blog strategy to promote Sex and the City. A blog and ads on blogs. One might say that TBS has created an integrated blog campaign.

Strategy: Vote Carrie Adverblog - Carrie Bradshaw is running for president on the new Cosmopolitan Party ticket. Like all savvy politicians Candidate Carrie has a blog - votecarrie.org complete with interactive polls, survey results and of course Candidate Carrie’s platform. It's all in the details...note the ".org" extension.

Yeah...it’s a “fake blog” but unlike other fake blogs e.g., Dr. Pepper's Raging Cow blog, Vote Carrie doesn’t pretend to be more than it is…a lighthearted play on politics with a goal of promoting the TV series.

Strategy: Vote Carrie Blog Ads – Running on sites like Blogcritics, Wonkette, Instapundit and MetroBlog.

The entire campaign is fun, interactive, supports the brand and is so Carrie! I had to find out the story behind the strategy. Richard Turner, Director Interactive Marketing for the Superstation, kindly and generously provided a behind the scene explanation along with a few insights about the campaign.

Vote Carrie Marketing Strategy

"All of our interactive efforts are designed to convert passive viewers into active participants and, eventually, active viewers." Richard Turner, TBS Director Interactive Marketing.

What were the goals/objectives?
Primary goal for all of interactive and promotional efforts is to drive ratings; the following is a sub-set of this overarching goal:
-To increase consumer awareness of Sex and the City on TBS by capitalizing on topicality of election and popularity of blogs
-To 'live' our brand with a fun and humorous take on political blogs
-To generate press coverage of innovative promotional effort
-To potentially drive site traffic (through links as well as increased relevance for search engines)

How were the ads placed?
We had a set budget and working within that budget we hand-picked an equal amount of liberal and conservative political blogs. We also folded in independent/nonpartisan political blogs as well as pop culture and opinion-maker blogs.

Sidebar: Ads were placed through Blogads. "Just sent out an avalanche of blogads, our biggest single order yet, for Sex and the City. Something I really wouldn't have expected a year ago." - Harry Copeland, Blogads

From Investors: "The growth of blog readership shouldn't be ignored, according to Copeland, whose company brokers blog ads and takes a commission. He said at the start of the year his group of online publications was delivering 5 million impressions a month. The number has increased almost 1,000 percent to 45 million now."

What was considered to be “success?”
Unfortunately, we can't demonstrably prove increased ratings, so our criteria was number of editorial/press hits and traffic to the blog. By both measures, we consider it a success (although not a cultural phenomena like JibJab's This Land).

Marketing Questions: Is the Vote Carrie strategy a preview of future marketing trends? Will more brand-blogs use ads on blogs to drive traffic to the adverblog? Would a double-edge blogging campaign work for your brand?

Read More
Fake Blogs as a Marketing Tool - TSMI Trade Show Marketing Report
Ranging Cow The Interview - Business Blog Consulting
Ads on Blogs Blogs as Ads - ClickZ

Friday Fun

07/16/2004

Going to the Dogs!
max_and_doreydoggieDon't where or how he does it, but Michael Tchong's eLetter, Trendsetter.com, is always an adventure in follow-the-link. This issue led me to Ziff Davis’ digital lifestyle magazine, Sync which in turn led me to ISeePet. Since Max (my Westie pup) has a weekend guest, Dorey-Dog, today's Friday Fun seems most appropriate!

Take a look at ISeePet, an electronic-pet-feeder-slash-webcam. You control it via your computer or moble phone. Positioning: for the "new generation of pet owners." Oh and make sure you view the video! But don't laugh too loud. According to a study from Unity Marketing, Why People Buy Things For Their Pets, in 2002 Americans spent nearly $30 billion on pet related products and services.

Diva's know that a little pampering (for themselves or their furry friend) is sometimes in order. Dahling, if you're looking for something special to make your your pooche's tail wag the Pink Puppy is just a click away.