Thursday, July 16, 2009

Six Fresh Ways To Ferret the Facts

Self-inflicted market research is a must for bloggers and experts. I decided to dive into the term "direct mail" at six deep -- but less populated -- pools of information. Here's what I learned.

Slideshare has volumes of slide and video presentations, the majority created by experts speaking at webinars, conferences, business presentation pitches, etc. Sure, most are salespeople, but they do have information, statistics, data, charts, and graphs. You can look at all of it on Slideshare. My quick search on “direct mail” turned up 5,000 related presentations. I narrowed the search to “direct mail statistics” and pulled up 4,398 hits. You can browse Slideshare by category (business, finance, technology, etc.), filter by type (presentations, documents, slidecasts, and video slides) and browse by popularity. It's tough schlogging, but don't overlook this authoritative resource.

Yelp. How are we entertaining ourselves, spending our leisure time, eating out? What doctors, dentists, churches, auto, travel, beauty/fitness and home service providers do we endorse or vilify? In 24 U.S. cities, Yelp knows for sure. In January, The New York Times reported that “Yelp has 4.5 million reviews and zealous contributors who organize meetings offline.” The site attracted 16.5 million visitors in December, two and half times the visits a year earlier. The Yelp search in my location (Yelp wouldn't let me do a national search) turned up just 10 hits on direct mail, all ads for businesses in the area. “Thai restaurant,” however turned up 107 hits and a slew of reviews. Bottom line: Yelp entertains more than it informs.

Advanced Twitter Search turned up lots of ads for folks selling direct mail, but also turned up some facts and sources. Writers should also find this a great resource for connecting with folks to interview. Note: With high hopes, I tried a Twittorati search and got nothing. Not sure what’s up with that. I guess the Top 100 Bloggers don't think about direct mail at all.

Bingtweets is the search fusion of Twitter and Microsoft’s Results are presented side by side, in separate windows -- google-ish hits (sorry, Microsoft) alongside scrolling Tweets (screen refreshing stops the scroll). Bingtweets strikes oil, but it's heavy on the bipolarity thing.

Squidoo offers a stopover at user-created pages called “lenses.” It's akin to visiting somebody's blog or website. Marketing wizard Seth Godin was part of the team that launched Squidoo in 2005. Because Squidoo shares revenue with contributors who post, lenses tend to feature content from people with something to sell, but I found some authoritative posts there, too. Lenses can accommodate a variety of content (Flickr photos, Google maps, blogs, YouTube video, etc.) and “direct mail” turned up 254 lenses out of the one million plus online. Note: Squidoo gives five percent of its revenue to charity. I like that.

YouTube got me 1,790 hits on direct mail. A slew of experts, sitting in front of their hand-helds, were pitching direct mail like crazy. Most of them knew the topic well, though the bulk of the information was basic. One guy who claimed to be an expert in “pre-foreclosure sales” animated this ugly topic with a 8.5-minute examination (actually, he was pretty knowledgeable.. brrrr). Another film showed a 20-something guy who claims he enjoyed 100% success with his first direct mail effort ["Clueless "rookie" gets 100% response rate from 1st direct mailing"]. I watched up to the 2.52-minute marker before I realized he was talking about sending a letter to one person.

Hey, noboby ever said research was easy. Good headline, though.

-- scrubbed by marketing brillo

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