Friday, December 30, 2011

The Happiest New Year Thought -- Ordinary People Have Power

Ian and Meg Lawton followed me on Twitter this morning. Since I am one of 29,381 people the Lawtons are following, I assumed they were Internet Marketing folks, eager to sell me something. Moreover, I was a bit turned off by their hokey Twitter handle (@seeds4couples). I almost didn't follow back, but then I thought, "What the heck? I'll have a look."

So, I went to soulseeds.com to see what these two were about.

The website had some pleasant bird tweets playing in the background and the colors were earthy and peaceful. Words like "greenhouse," "grass roots," and "community garden" appealed to me. A lot of the message addressed "the power of positive thought," not a new concept by any stretch, but always useful.

Visiting the Lawtons, I had a little revelation. How powerful the Internet is!

(Okay, duh. And, yes, I *do* feel a little like Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents saying, "Oh, Dear God, you are such a good God."). Nevertheless ...

Folks like Ian and Meg Lawton are doing their part to spread good will.

That's pretty awesome when you think about it. Similar messages come from thousands of videos, blogs, and sites developed by ordinary people who yearn to make a difference. Even a curmudgeon can get in tune with that simple notion, since, if anything can save this fair earth, ordinary people would be it. Transformation happens one at a time and, just like Ian and Meg, we've all got a shot at it.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

2012 Is [Definitely] the Year of Video

It’s all over the Internet, stuffed into every eNewsletter, offered up on any website that works, glowing LED at every click. It’s marketing VIDEO. By the end of 2012, we’re going to be seeing so much of it people will begin to ask [all over again] whether “this is the death of print.”

Examples? How about the following three videos, all of which landed on my desk in a single morning (December 1).

Square2Marketing has its “Video Marketing Minute.”


Direct Marketing IQ [Target Marketing Group] has DMIQTV.

Production Solutions features Package Formats that will get your attention.

None of these videos are fancy-schmancy. They feature real people talking about -- and demonstrating -- marketing expertise. The films are short, sweet, and targeted.

There’s plenty more where this came from, so if video isn’t on your 2012 calendar (yet), you still have two weeks to put it there. Happy New Year!

p.s. In its Who's Mailing What archive report, DirectMarketingIQ.com reported a big crash (33% decline) in B2B direct mail in 2011. Please note that all of the above videos are B2B efforts.

p.s.s. When this post appeared on The Digital Nirvana blog to which I contribute, one commenter defended direct mail's role in acquisition marketing and wrongly assumed I was echoing the oft-repeated "direct mail is dead" mantra. Not so. Direct mail remains an effective — even essential — part of acquisition marketing. DMIQ’s “Who’s Mailing What” analysis led to their conclusion that B2B marketers had been doing far less direct mail in the first six months of 2011, compared to 2010. Meanwhile, I, too, have seen an explosion of B2B marketing video, not necessarily for acquisition, but certainly as a substitute for textual "content marketing." I stand by the prediction that 2012 will be the year video becomes commonplace on websites, in emails, in eNewletters, and in landing pages. A case in point? HubSpot's brilliant use of a "What is HubSpot" video on its download landing page for a free eBook.

--scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why Email Propecting Is So Effective (When Done Right)

I just watched Ed Gandia's three videos on "warm prospecting." Ed is the founder of the International Freelancer's Academy, but the advice he offers here is terrific for anyone looking for business: PR professionals, direct marketers, and sales professionals can all use these tips.

Ed's three videos are each 15 to 20 minutes and packed with information. Sign up here and watch them if you have time, but the videos will be taken down on December 11. (Note: Ed includes a full transcript of each video, so you can download those pdfs if you can't listen today).

If you're in a hurry for quick information, here are my notes.

Why Is Email Propecting So Effective (When Done Right)?

1. Less intrusive and more convenient than cold calling.
2. Better than phone messages, which can't be scanned quickly.
3. Prospects are far more responsive to a well delivered email.
4. With cold-calling, you get 3 to 5 seconds; email gives you 20 seconds.
5. It's easier to digest a marketing message in writing.
6. When the email is personal and targeted, it's very effective.
7. Propsecting with email helps you stay motivated.
8. Email prospecting is inexpensive.
9. Email prospecting is quick and immediate!
10. You can hand-pick the prospects you want to work with.

Here is what doesn't work.

1. Don't send an email blast to a list.
2. Don't send the same message to everybody.
3. Don't use email to market your newsletter.

Warm Email Prospecting Works When You ...
1. Handpick your list.
2. Customize your list.
3. Write an email like this:

Hi Randy,

I’ve been reading about your company in the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the work you’ve been doing at Emory
Hospital. And based on the work I’ve done with Acme Medical and XYZ International, I may be able to help you get "X" accomplished faster and cheaper.

Here’s a short article on how I’ve helped Acme
Medical: [URL goes here]. Would it make sense for us to chat briefly sometime in the next couple of weeks?

Regards,
[Your email signature]


1. Describe your ideal client profile.
- Get clear about the clients you are best suited to.
- No specialty needed.

2. Create a targeted list.
- Create a TARGETED list (identify organizations, identify specific individuals, find the email addresses for those individuals)

3. Establish a meaningful connection.
- You have to give every prospect a good reason to respond immediately
- Give the prospect a relevant reason to reach out to you.

4. Make a quick and relevant pitch -- 125 WORDS OR LESS.
- No small talk; no warming up the prospect.

5. Prepare for conversation.
- You need to be ready when the prospect calls you.
- Have some stock email to respond to a positive answer.
- Develop a set of talking points for the call.


6. Do smart follow-up

Remember:

- Warm Prospecting is a direct response strategy. MOST attempts will not get a response.
- Recommends sending a 2nd response after 2 weeks of no response.


How to Uncover and Communicate a Meaningful Connection with Your Prospect

The key strategy is to give prospects a meaningful bridge to connection

Three Ways to find Meaningful Connections

1. Use trigger events
- A big event or change in the organization's industry is a logical trigger event; for example, positive or negative financial announcements; new manager in the department you usually work with; layoffs, downsizing; finding prestigious new clients, etc.
- Trigger events create a certain level of pain or need that makes the organization more receptive to your needs.
- Scour the news for trigger events (industry or trade pubs, business pubs, news magus, etc.).
- Set up Google alerts for organizations already on your targeted list.

2. Mention one of your high profile clients or one of your accomplishments.
- It may make sense to throw out names that the prospect may recognize or even names they may not recognize.
- Leverage your successes. Mention an award you've recently accomplished, or a placement you made for a client.

3. Leverage a mutual connection and think of LinkedIn.
- Look at your personal or professional network.
- See if somebody will make an introduction for you.
- Use LinkedIn account to see if somebody in your immediate network knows your prospect

What About Subject Lines for Your Warm Prospecting Emails?

1. Use your subject line to allude to the meaningful connection you will talk about.
- Examples: Congrats on the Book Deal! or … I Helped B&B Foods Rebrand …
2. Keep subjects short -- 30 to 50 characters.
3. Show relevance in the subject, but don't give away too much information and don't "bait and switch."In the body of your short email, deliver on the subject line.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo


Friday, November 11, 2011

Smart Marketers Are Always *Thinking.* Get This. It's Brilliant.

Entrepreneur and corporate strategist Colin Jensen has a great post up on Quora. Jensen says, "No matter what kind of business you're starting, you need more than one source of revenue, and hopefully at least one your competition won't have thought of."

That reminded me of a GoogleOffer that showed up in my mailbox just this morning. Fairfield Inn & Suites (Marriott property) has a hotel near Dulles Airport. Anybody who lives in the Washington, D.C. area has utterly NO reason to go to the Dulles area, except to fly or pick up fliers. But wait! Maybe there's something out there in Dulles land after all ...

Fairfield was making an amazing offer -- 14 days of parking and free every-half-hour shuttle service to and the airport for only $20! Fairfield says that's a $140 value and I believe it. Moreover, Fairfield is offering staff help to haul luggage in and out of the shuttle bus. (No, I don't work for them and, yes, I never knew they existed until this a.m.). Wow.

In fact, this offer was SO wow that I went to the Fairfield website just to see if they would let me use the service other times. Yes, we can! But, for Fairfield, the real benefit is that their hotel is now on my radar. I found out they have inexpensive weekend packages and I can also consider staying there overnight before an early flight.

The discounted offer won't make any money of course, but it won't cost Fairfield any money, either. In short, this is some of the best hotel advertising I've seen in years. I'm sure many other curious local gawkers hopped to their website this morning, too .. where we found all manner of other offers besides "fly and park" also featured. This is very smart marketing, right Colin?

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A GREAT promotion to build Facebook "Likes"


Napco's "Publishing Business Webinar Series" sent an email this morning that got my attention.

The subject line was good -- "Like" Publishing Business and "Love" Your Free Gift -- but I almost never read subject lines.

What grabbed me was this fabulous graphic.

I went to the website and took a look. What a great way to honor staff. Now this is effective social media. And, yes, I like it -- very much, actually.
http://www.facebook.com/PublishingBusiness


--scrubbed by Marketing Brillo




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Two Experts Recommend These Direct Mail Response Boosters

On November 1, DirectMarketingIQ hosted a Webinar featuring Patrick Fultz, DM Creative Group, LLC, and Michael Capuzzi, Copy Doodles.com. Fultz and Capuzzi cited their favorite direct mail response boosters. Here's a quick recap.

PATRICK FULTZ


Try variations of the envelope teaser:
• hand-written teasers;
• presenting the offer on the envelope;
• a novel approach to presenting the teaser;
• promising a gift inside;
• pointing out special features with handwritten arrows and notes.

Vary the size of windows in a window envelope to:
• show variable text elements on the outside;
• feature a product or sticky item (labels, etc.);
• show a premium or free gift through a window;
• create interest with specially shaped or odd-shaped windows.

Personalize with options like these:
• name and address, of course;
• variable images (in some cases, variable images have generated response rates of 40%);
• 1 to 1 marketing;
• tailored copy, offer, and images for individual relevance;
• handwritten personalization.

Consider a variety of options for the postage space:
• First class v. Standard;
• Indicia incorporating graphics;
• Live stamps;
• Meters with the company logo incorporated into the meter imprint.

Test changes in delivery format, including:
• Postcards (generally, these appear to be generating good returns now);
• Self-Mailers (these require testing, but can boost response and save on postage);
• In-line printed envelopes that offer additional personalization options;
• Three-dimensional mailers to create additional interest.

Test newer technologies:
  • pURLS, which can drive response rates up significantly, but need to be tested;
  • QR Codes, which are in wider use now, but should be used highlighted only when it makes sense to use them and always highlighted;
  • Mail Tracking. For example, it’s now possible to structure and track Standard rate mail to hit a 3 to 5-day window, thus saving on First-Class postage.
  • eMail follow-ups that are triggered by the direct mail drop;
  • Sound-Light-Video blurs the line between digital and print media and can be very powerful for the right audience.


MICHAEL CAPUZZI

Adopt creative strategies to help shut out the noise of other marketing:

Make It Personal.
1. Personalize the "who," the copy, the message, the offer.
2. Make your direct mail look like it's coming from a friend.
3. Make your direct mail distinctive (for example, try a hand-crafted look).
4. Apply handwritten messages that pop-out and work as eye-magnets and envelope teasers.
5. Use cartoons and comics to generate interest.
6. Use sticky notes, rubber stamps, doodles, and hand-art on letters and envelopes.

Create Envelopes That Get Opened.
7. Window envelopes with handwritten fonts generate interest.
8. Print on both sides of the envelope so all real estate is used.
9. Use "Do Not Fold" messages to pique interest.
10. Test cool stamps or multiple stamps.

Create Postcards That Get Results and Campaigns That Get Attention.
11. pURLS are appropriate, but not all the time. Make sure the web landing page for a pURL is also highly personal!
12. Handwriting is a smart way to get eyeballs to focus on certain parts of an envelope or letter.
13. Photos of the sender on the envelope are worth considering.
14. Be creative with the mailer (for example, try a brown paper bag to deliver the message).
15. Create urgency with envelope teasers and notes that say "Last Chance," "Final Offer," "Act Now," etc.

So What’s Working in the Real World?
16. Addition of a red note on the envelope saying "Your Tickets Enclosed" bumped response from 1.1% to 8.7% response rate.
17. Addition of an item circled in red and addition of two hand writte words (free and Stop boosted response rate from zero to 3.3%.
18. Adding doodles boosted response to 5.9%.
19. The sender sent the same letter, but added handwritten notes "Act Now" and "Call Me," along with underlines and other handwritten marks drove response rate up.
20. A 28% boost in response came when one marketer added a few red handwritten notes, underlines, and doodles to the letter.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Video Content Delivers Marketing Wins Across the Board

Increasingly, video is replacing text.

2011 statistics are difficult to come by (yet), but we do know that, according to a comScore study released in February 2011, 82.5% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed a video online. As far back as October 2009, Mashable notes that YouTube already was serving 1 billion videos per day. We also know, for example, that Discovery Channel increased video streams by 123% in 2010.

So, yes, we're watching more video online -- lots more. And, for marketing purposes, videos can't be beat.

Better Conversion. Online retailer Ice.com reportedly found that viewers who chose to view video converted at a 400% increase over those who did not.

Decreasing Returns. Ice.com also credits video with decreasing returns by 25% (Internet Retailer, December 2009).

Better Conversion Again. Shoppers who view video at Onlineshoes.com convert at a 45% higher rate than other shoppers, and the site has seen a 359% year-over-year increase in video views. Product pages with video have higher conversion rates than product pages without video. (Internet Retailer, February 2010).

For more stats, check out "101 Online Video Stats" To Make Your Eyes Glaze Over" by Matthew Bavosa at engage.com. Or visit stats from activate media group.

So, if you're still getting resistance to the video marketing investment, let's hope this ammunition packs enough fire power to argue for a test.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Can -- and Should -- Creativity Be Crowdsourced?

Crowdsourcing our own opinions and relying on others' is all the rage: Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook Likes -- apparently, we won’t buy anything unless we consult to see if groups of strangers think it’s okay.

Crowdsourcing, first name-tagged in a 2006 Wired magazine article, has infiltrated the creative arts, too.

For instance, the Japanese are heavily into keitai shosetsu -- thumb novels written by collaborating hoards of teenagers and 20-somethings who knock out romance novels and crime thrillers via mobile phone texting.

The trend to crowdsourcing film has been tested in the Netherlands. The Dutch filmmaker who undertook this effort said, “We wanted to make a movie that shows the opinion of the public, created by the public, on a subject that concerns every tax-payer: The bankruptcy of DSB Bank in the Netherlands (2009) … We did not have any budget. Lucky us, we have an excellent … social system in the Netherlands.”

Mashable demonstrated the possibilities of creative crowdsourcing when it featured “10 Cool Crowdsourced Music Video Projects.” Similar collaborative projects have popped up at Fashion Stake, communal problem-solver Innocentive, photo sharing site Flickr Creative Commons, and Wiki-Art.

Naturally, somebody saw the dollar signs in crowdsourcing. In Chicago, the enterprise Crowdspring.com has sprung.These online marketing folks allude to crowdsourcing in their name, but others describe the process as a worldwide contest wherein folks in the creative arts (design, website development, writing) are invited to “work for spec” and, if they’re lucky (?), be chosen to actually work on a project and get paid. Chances of being chosen and getting paid are very slim, say detractors – and some (like Brian Yerkes) who have participated are, frankly, furious.

In a Nutshell, Please: Can Creativity Be Crowdsourced?
Garrick Schmitt addressed that question exactly in AdAgeDigital in 2009. Garrick concludes: "For agencies, crowdsourcing forces us to re-examine how great work gets produced and where the best talent resides ... For marketers, crowdsourcing creative services poses both great risks and rewards ... And finally, for the industry as a whole ... time will tell."

Point Is, There's Crowdsourcing and Then There's Working for Free
In his article, Garrick came up with some excellent examples of creative crowdsourcing, as has econsultancy. In many of these examples -- though not all -- true sharing and collaboration occurs when participants group together in a common pursuit. A different scenario emerges when dozens (or hundreds) of folks of all ilk compete fiercely, investing time and resources in pursuit of a positive outcome that only one will ever enjoy.

And, now, for MarketingBrillo's Final Word ...
Crowdsourcing for creative inspiration and a good time? Definitely yes.
Crowdsourcing spec work in hopes of landing a job or getting cheap work? Definitely stupid, probably exploitative.

More Resources For Deciding How You Feel About Crowdsourcing
As for whether crowdsourcing can work for commercial enterprises looking for publicity, this report demonstrates that effective crowd sourcing requires 1) a crowd, 2) incentives, and 3) an easy project.

For an authoritative voice on the economics and ethics of crowdsourcing, check out writer/designer/entrepreneur/Ironman competitor Andrew Hyde's various blog posts on the subject (alert: Andrew thinks spec work is evil, period.)

For more info on what’s new in crowdsourcing, see The Complete Idiot’s Guide here.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another 2012 Prediction (You Won’t Like It)

Luxuriate in the Fresh Air of a Wholesale Dump! Take in the Aroma of Original Content. Ahhhhh!

Yes, my friends, I’m talking about the murder of “content aggregation.” It's an early demise, I know, since aggregation just got born in 2011. But, if I have anything to say about it, "content aggregation" is going to wither and die in 2012. For somebody who's done a fair amount of "aggregation" this year, the prediction hurts. But it's inevitable.

Why? Because we Can't HANDLE it.

When Chris Brogan began unfriending people left and right in March, he called it getting rid of a mess.

Margie Clayman, too, is wondering if smaller social media might not be better social media.

The real issue, though, isn’t what you call it, or even how you do it. The nugget here is the sense of panic human beings are grappling with under the information tsunami. And "aggregation," which has the potential for exponential repeat, retweet, rehash, and regurgitate, has got to go.

A Case In Point
I got a brilliant e-newsletter from Brad and Steve at bscopes. I don't know why I read it-- I am way too busy to read any enewsletter -- except that it used the phrase "RSS bankruptcy" in the first sentence and alluded in the second paragraph to feeling a tremendous sense of relief at wholesale dumping of articles collecting dust in the reader.

I had to write to bscopes. “I don't think I've received your email before. I tend to throw stuff out, but this post caught my eye and I read it all the way through. You're right, information-choke is a HUGE problem and the "just throw it away" process doesn't work. I think part of it starts with a better email client coupled with, perhaps, the growing professions of "virtual assistant" (not kidding)."

But that was just a stab in the dark. The real solution lies with Brogan: Just turn it off.

Why Are Human Beings Reacting This Way?
Amid the “anxiety of not knowing” [something, everything, more, enough!], we find ourselves facing the reality that there is no way to know enough. Suddenly, this year, in 2011, as we drowned in the tsunami, we realized everything we don’t know. Fact is, we’ve never known… it’s just that we didn’t know we didn’t know (if you know what I mean).

There’s more. The more we delve into a topic, the more anxious we become about not knowing.
Well, how about crowd-sourcing, then? Can’t these other people tell us what to eat, think, feel, buy? No, because as soon as we start listening to crowd-sourced comments, we realize all that opinion is worth the paper it’s written on. There's just too much of it and nobody agrees anyway.

Instead, when we need to know, proactive researching is our best option. Sure, we'll come across a lot of junk. And, if we think it’s all relevant, we're a dead duck. So, we're going to need to use our own judgment.

With information as with everything else in life, less is more. I do believe that in 2012 many many of us will start by simply "turning it off" and then rebuilding: consciously, purposefully, intelligently. The skill of "curation" will be invaluable here, but aggregation is headed for the landfill.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Secret Ingredient In Zillow's Social Media Magic

How come Zillow does social media so well? Simple. They employ Grade A, top-notch writers churning out top-notch social media at every turn.

People have yakked about the folks who write copy for Groupon, but I think Zillow out does them. Groupon is self-conscious, insider-ish, and full of itself (sorry guys). but Zillow does what copy is supposed to do: It challenges us to open -- and read -- the social media envelope.

As a company, Zillow started with data in early 2005 and hit the Internet about a year later with info on millions of U.S. homes. Though Zillow hadn't turned a profit when it went public in July this year, shares of Zillow shot up 120% at the IPO. Not bad for a company operating in the industry that's experienced -- some would say caused -- the worst recession in history. If anything can kill the National Association of Realtors®, it's Zillow (no, I don't have stock in the company).

Even if Zillow goes under, I will always argue that they have one of the best social media efforts in the country. And the entire program is built on good writing.

Cases in point:

1. They know how to gossip. Zwillow knows that America is talking about and they find a great way to relate the latest buzz to real estate. Take the story that appeared front and center in the September 22 newsletter: Where Are They Now? Update on Some Guilty Pleasures.

2. They write killer headlines:
• Reasons to Friend (or Not) Your Tenants on Social Media Networks
• Strutting Their Stuff: Homes of Fashion Designers

3. Their tweets are must-click masterpieces.
• Have an open house coming up? Here's how to do it on Zillow. http://bit.ly/n4QcLs
• Zillow's Facebook Question of Day: Do you drink tap water, filtered or bottled in your home? http://on.fb.me/p4PTrx
• Can you buy a house when your current mortgage is upside down? http://bit.ly/pgimos
• Borum Hill rental: $3,100/month. Bedrooms: 0 -- But hey, its got bike storage
• Crazy times. See a home you can buy for the price of a car. http://bit.ly/mRJ9MW

4. Their content is USEFUL. Gossip isn't all Zillow has going for it. This is useful stuff. Here are just two examples
• Do you understand income tax considerations of rental properties?
http://www.zillow.com/blog/2011-09-20/do-you-understand-income-tax-considerations-of-rental-properties/
• What to do if your home doesn't sell. http://www.zillow.com/blog/2011-09-21/what-to-do-if-your-home-doesn%E2%80%99t-sell/
• Moving? How many boxes will you need? Use our cool, new Moving Box Estimator Widget to find out. http://u.zillow.com/bEbN/
• How to protect yourself from rental scams. http://bit.ly/nhi6YE

5. Their Facebook page is fresh, interesting, and interactive. Just to "be there" is to join in. For example, how about these options to get involved and comment?
• Good morning, weekend warriors! Tell us your locale and present real estate status.
• Is there a home in your neighborhood that has been on the market forever? What do you think the reasons are?
• How is the water consumed in your home?
• What is the costliest home system/structure failure you’ve ever faced?

6. Zillow is out front in social media with its own YouTube channel. This one features Zillow's Performance Engineer talking about Zillow's performance on mobile apps. This is content sharing at its best.



6. What else, you ask? How about Zillow's new real estate blog, Curbed. Or in Zillow words, "For the first time, Curbed readers can search for local and national listings directly from Curbed National and all of Curbed’s city sites [Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.]. The Zillow search experience gives Curbed readers direct access to a comprehensive selection of real estate listings alongside Curbed’s witty and insightful coverage of the country’s most vibrant urban centers."

Yep, the copywriters are at it again. Who said words don't count? In Zillow's case, you can take them to the bank.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's Bothering the Big Boys and Girls?

The Big Boys and Girls of Marketing -- that is the 150 online and direct marketers with at least $100M in annual revenue and the other 150 with $2B or more per annum -- are eager to turn data into action.

That's the #1 finding of Unica's latest Annual Survey of Marketers, -- and that's different from last year when the big concern was getting IT to tow the line in support of marketing needs.

Apparently, IT has been tamed (don't believe it), or at least is now less of a problem for marketing. And that's a good thing because -- in "rock-and-a-hard-place" terms -- marketers also believe that those cranky IT folks (technology) can ease their pain. Over half of respondents cited technology as the key to productivity.

Marketers also are desperate for the highly touted "integrated marketing suite" that Marketing Brillo blogged about in April and June.

So, where are the pitfalls? Marketers believe in interactive marketing, but aren't sure how to make it work. The roadblock is, once again and forever more, silos. All the reports we've seen at Marketing Brillo reveal silo-smashing as the top skill required for success. Meanwhile, fiefdoms are probably the most difficult for the tradition-ridden, established Big Boys and Girls to demolish. Lesson: If you're new, small, nimble, and quick, this is your chance to jump silos and grab market share.

More findings: Web data is highly prized, but -- as with all data -- it's tough to turn into action. The report calls it a "paradox" that 92% of marketers appreciate the value and importance of web data, but less than half can figure out how to apply data to customer analyses and campaigns. To Marketing Brillo, that seems less a paradox than a "duh!" For the data-eureka connection -- as with all discovery -- only genuine brilliance will cut it.

Email is another sore point. Seventy-five present of respondents say their email data is not integrated with other customer data and/or is a basic hand job. Marketers don't like paid search either and keyword management continues to frustrate.

Meanwhile, the star of 2010 -- social media -- has proved more problem than solution. The SocMed star still shines brightly among emerging marketing channels, but marketers aren't so enthusiastic this year, suggesting (says the report) "that we have passed the peak of inflated expectations and are focused on finding the value that social channels can yield." In the hyper-churning sea of social media, good luck with that.

In conclusion, it's probably safe to call Mobile Marketing the 2011 star. And yet, marketers acknowledge this exploding channel isn't well integrated either.

For more details and a numbers analysis, download the free report here. Note: Unica is an IBM company.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Early FourSquare "Fan" Strategy Gets Monetized

When FourSquare launched in March 2009, most consumers couldn't "get" why people would want to pinpoint their whereabouts. Twitter was full of "who cares?" commentary.

But FourSquare was smart. By wooing the early adopters with a competitive, one-up game of "Mayor," FourSquare got cool in the right places -- among techies -- real quick.

Today, the social game is poised for a higher paying purpose: commerce.

Now that Near Field Communications are getting closer, Four Square can easily graduate from game to get-down-to-business. As blogger Caitlyn Mayers sees it, there's lots of opportunity for location-based marketing to eat through the landscape. "Think about how this could change your experience at a concert or at a movie. You could purchase tickets for reserved seats, order food and drinks, and pay for it all without having to use more that just your cell phone."

How can a business leverage FourSquare and other location-based apps? In July, business people in Charlotte, North Carolina, were invited to a session titled "The Evolution of FourSquare Marketing." The panel suggested eight fundamentals to help business people think through the possibilities:

• Ask the right questions before leveraging FourSquare for your business.
• Experiment with FourSquare as a user first.
• Listen through FourSquare.
• Understand the basic marketing tactics of FourSquare (tips, specials, badges).
• Build offline community through FourSquare.
• Integrate FourSquare marketing efforts with your full marketing campaign.
• Train your staff to keep them "in the know."
• Promote your FourSquare marketing/specials.

The same month, American Express launched Go Social, a tool that enables retailers to integrate offers to consumers with Foursquare and Facebook.

Clearly, the potential is here -- and when American Express buys-in, the potential is hot.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, August 29, 2011

Before You Give Away Creative Advice, Check Out the "Helping Friends Manifesto."

If you have a creative talent -- writing, website development, photography, marketing, design and layout, etc. -- chances are about 100% that friends and family sometimes say, "Do you think you could 'give me a hand with/just take a look at' [fill in the blanks]… "

You're a nice person and, of course, you want to help. But before you do, you might want to hand off a copy of the Helping Friends Manifesto (HMFM). Otherwise, after you freely share, you could hear any of the following:

1. I really like what you've done here. Can I make changes?
2. This is good. Could you give me the original file so I can play with it?
3. I don't like this font. Can we try some other choices?
4. Would you mind if I ran this by another friend who's a [pick one: marketer, writer, designer, web developer]?
5. Why did you put THAT, THERE?
6. I hate that picture.

The Helping Friends Manifesto
I'm flattered that you've asked me for help. Normally, I charge (quite a bit) for this type of work, but I can definitely get you started for free. I want this to be fun for both of us, so it might help if we set some ground rules.

1. If you have a concept in mind -- style, tone, appearance, layout, color, wording, headlines, copy, tagline, headers, font -- please share your thoughts before I begin. The more detail, the better.

2. If you don't have a concept in mind -- in other words, if you are a blank slate who is simply saying "I need a brochure" -- let's agree that you have come to me for my skill and experience, upon which it makes sense to rely.

3. In this project, I am taking the lead as expert. Agreed?

4. Does the following statement sound like something you might say? "I don't know what I want. I only know what I don't want." If this is true, please provide me a point-by-point list of what you don't want. Otherwise, I won't be able to help you with this project.

5. Does the following statement sound like something you might say? "I don't like it. I don't know why. I just don't like it." Please understand that, in the hands of a professional, creative choices are driven both by talent and by reason. I will be able to tell you why I made a certain choice, so -- in turn -- please be able to tell me why you think a particular choice won't work. Otherwise, please see #3, above.

6. Typically, my work includes one round of reasonable changes/alterations as part of the fee. Beyond that, I charge "x" dollar per hour. Therefore, while I can draft something for you and make one set of reasonable changes, a wholesale "makeover" is not part of the deal. Note: Time constraints related to my paying work make it essential that I assume the role of "decider" as to what's "reasonable." Agreed?

8. We are both free to say to one another, without rancor, "Let's give this a rest."

--scrubbed by MarketingBrillo



Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Keeps Them Awake At Night?

A colleague of mine in the PR business just picked up a client well-known and highly regarded in the direct mail business.

Since I'm editor of the monthly publication of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington and my colleague is putting an ad together for my sort of readers, he asked me:
What are the things that keep direct mailers awake at night?
What challenges has the economy posed for the industry?
Is anything changing in the world of premium fulfillment or personalized acknowledgements?

Here’s what I told my friend.

What keeps them awake at night?
• missed schedules
• bad/poorly performing mailing lists
• low ROI
• missing insertions
• rising paper costs
• losing their jobs

What has the economy done to them?
• made them afraid to mail and afraid to fail
• prompted them to pull back out of fear
• raised concerns that their customers/clients think direct mail no longer performs
• promoted the perception that direct mail is "old fashioned"
• turned competitive arguments vicious ("direct mail is dead," "direct mail hurts the environment," "digital is the new and only way to go," etc.)

What is current behavior in relationship to premiums and personalized CRM?

• notion that one-time premium snatchers don't bring return orders, so finding the sweet spot is paramount.
• personalized acknowledgements never go out of style, but they do cost money; thus, concern that the "niceties" can be dispensed with in response to dollar concerns.
• an increasing shift to social media, which is cheaper and can stand-in for personalized contact.

What would YOU add to this list?

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tips for Marketing to the Uber Rich

Somehow I got on the mailing list of Bluefish.com, which kindly sent me an announcement of the new "Bluefish Concierge service" (a partnership with Citibank Bahrain). From this unlikely excursion, I landed at "Fish Food," the Bluefish blog. Swimming in this sea carries a hefty price.

What did I sample at Fish Food? The Buggatti family sedan, retailing for $1.42 million at the time of its release in fall 2012 .. a peek at the outside of several of the most expensive hotels in the world ... a gawk at a pair of $18,000 flip flops.

What the heck is going on here? Who needs this stuff and why? Maybe -- if you're a marketer -- you do. So I figured "Why not?" I, too, can blog about toys for the dripping rich.

Here are the pitch points I picked up at Fish Food.

Just A Few Left
Your prospect may want the Buggatti family sedan, but might not get one. Make sure he/she knows that "time is of the essence." Buggatti (owned by VW ... who knew?) expects to sell no more than 1,500 of the "Galibier" model. No, not just next year ... ever. So if you want one, hurry up.

Justifiable Extravagance
Your teenager isn't the only one wearing flip-flops. You gotta have 'em ... but $18,000 a pair? Well, sure, (I guess) if you can show customers how to simultaneously flaunt their bank accounts and save the Costa Rican rainforest. That's right, flop manufacturer Chipkos not only sells you the sandal, but throws in two-nights at the eco-friendly Beverly Hills Montage Hotel, a "meet and greet" with the flip-flop designer, and a guarantee to protect 100 square feet of rainforest. (How do they make any money on this utterly fab deal?)

Who's Who Becomes You
The Dorchester Collection is a group of 5-star luxury hotels in London, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Milan, and Paris. Only nine of these unique properties exist and you'd better duck because the names are dropping from every vaulted chandelier. Architect, designer and rumored cold fish Thierry W. Despont joins the more accessible friendlier food master, Wolfgang Puck, as notables responsible for the good life at 45 Park Lane, Dorchester's latest addition. Contributors to the other Dorchester hotels are no less renown.

Everybody Who's Anybody
World Cup 2014 is gonna be a blow-out. The Brazilians are building a 500-mile bullet-train railway from Sao Paul to Rio. Five-star hotels are sprouting like weeds, and even the famous Favela slums are getting a spiff. Bottom line: IF you're somebody, you will be there. End of pitch.

Because You Have Taste, Dammit
Ernest Shackleton trekked 25 cases of whiskey to Antarctica, some of which froze solid in the minus-22-degrees-Fahrenheit tundra. The Scottish whiskey is believed to have been bottled in 1896 and collectors crave it. If the cache goes on the open market -- like whiskey lovers believe it should -- the price could vault to hundreds of thousands dollars per bottle, not much for a swig of the real deal.

Because You Can
The iPhone 4 Lady Blanche made by Gresso costs $30,000. C'mon... this gadget is crystal encrusted (What!? You expected diamonds?) and tells time in New York, London, and Moscow. And, Gresso says it takes "several hundred hours of labor-intensive process" to make the Lady Blanche. (How do they make any money on this utterly fab deal?)

I'm sorry. Tummy hurting. Must be all that rich food, whisky, and 300 hours of minimum-wage intensive labor. I sincerely hope you have top drawer luck marketing to the rich. After all, they've earned it.

Haven't they?

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Near Field Communications Are Near

NFC is the acronym for Near Field Communications. So what?

Put simply, near field communications (NFC) let devices (like cell phones) that are close to one another (like 4 inches apart) exchange information (like credit card numbers).

For those who find that too simple, here’s the real deal from Wikipedia: "Near field communication, or NFC, allows for simplified transactions, data exchange, and connections with a touch. Co-invented by NXP Semiconductors and Sony in 2002, NFC technology is being added to a growing number of mobile handsets to enable mobile payments, as well as many other applications."

NFC also has potential applications for instant file exchange, electronic business cards, mobile gaming , friend-to-friend connections, and, of course, electronic money. In fact, The New York Times reported yesterday that some states (California, Massachussets, Iowa, and District of Columbia) may be turning to online gambling to build revenues),

In January 2011, the tech blogs got all hot and sweaty about a rumor that the Apple iPad2 and iPhone5 would have NFC. By March, we knew that wasn’t going to happen, but when it does, some observes say it’s going to be huge. For example, MG Sigler at TechCrunch says, “If Apple can nail Near-Field Communication (NFC) and tie it directly into their already-established iTunes payment system, it could change everything. It could transform Apple from the biggest technology company in the world, to the biggest company in the world, period. By far.”

Also “coming soon,” Google Wallet (a mobile app that will “make your phone your wallet"), which, in partnership with Citibank, will let consumers “tap, pay, and save.”

NFC: What’s in your wallet?

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Can Home Invasion News Teach Us About Content Marketing? These Eight Realities.

Three months ago I conceived homeinvasionnews.com. The content strategy was three-fold:
1) demonstrate my ability to create content for any topic, including one with which I had no experience;
2) demonstrate the added value of content displayed in a dynamic format;
3) demonstrate the various formats in which content can be presented.

I was able to take Home Invasion News from concept to launch in 30 days. Since launch, I have been maintaining the site, adding new content daily. I will launch a PR push in the next few weeks, but the site is already ranking on page one of Google in a variety of home invasion related topics: news, statistics, safeguards, laws, etc.

Here's are eight realities that confirm the validity of the original three-point strategy:

1. Content development is about intelligent content curation. If you have a body of knowledge at your disposal, content will come. If you don't -- but if you know how to research on the Internet -- you will find all the content you need: statistics, expertise, opinion, case studies, definitions, and controversy for any topic, any project.

2. The best content adds something extra: A viewpoint, a sense of humor, a different take, an unusual way of presenting. In short, the best content starts with dry information and adds YOU.

3. How you present content makes all the difference. Give the reader/browser something extra to look at, chew on, think about. At Home Invasion News, this something extra would be the active layout of the homepage and the editorial point of view.

4. Specialized infographics can play a key role. The top menu bar of the site features "Faces of Home Invasion." That link jumps to an interactive graphic used to publicize the site through press releases.

5. Video has a place. In the case of HIN, limitless video is free for the asking and we embed it everywhere. Most any topic you can think of has related video somewhere on the Internet. Most of it is free and easy. Figure out how to use it and do so.

6. RSS feeds are good -- both for content curation and for readers' viewing pleasure. HIN features a feed based on the term "home invasion." The feed is continuous and it creates great fodder for daily consumption, as well as background for the "top story" weekly blog post.

7. Content curation sites like Scoop-It help track national stories. For some sites (like HIN), linking to your Scoop-It site on a separate page makes for solid, in-the-moment content. [Tip: You can set up Scoop-It to make sure your own site is first on this feed.]

8. Understanding the various e-media possibilities -- video, slideshows, webinars. etc. -- helps guide content development. For example, we recognize that -- as resources grow -- interviews and podcasts are a natural progression in the Home Invasion News effort.

A final thought: Sites like WriterAccess aggregate a pool of writers looking for content development projects. The last time I checked, WriterAccess had 3,800 writers signed on. Perhaps this model creates work for journalists closed out in the newspaper shrinkage. I certainly hope so. In any event, WriterAccess is a huge step up from content sweatshops I wrote about awhile back. On the other hand, lining up with 3,800 other writers feels a bit like trying to land a job -- or locate a Chief Marketing Officer -- on MONSTER (not that there's anything wrong with that :-)

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Caving In" and Seven Sub-Trends for the Middle Class

In the process of writing a post about demographic trends among seniors, I came across this article that appeared in Psychology Today about a year ago. The writer describes "The Villages," a middle-of-nowhere place in Florida that now houses some 80,000 baby-boomer escapists who have left everything behind: children, traffic, government interference, taxes, and noise.

What the article doesn't say is that, in a harsher reality, these runaway grey panthers are actually trying to hang on to what they've got (and think they are about to lose) in a crashing economy. In short, these folks have "caved in."

I think there's a clue in here for the psychology of the middle class in the post-housing/debt ceiling fiasco. "Caving In" means playing it safe, controlling your environment, keeping what you have, hunkering down, being watchful, and "holding it close." "Caving in" incorporates seven lifestyle sub-trends that also reflect new economic realities.

1. Trend To the Familiar
Family, Family, Family
Community Support Systems
Family Live-Togethers
Neighborhoods

2. Trend To Cheap
Coupons
Rent the Runway et al
Recycling
Refurbishing

3. Trend To Unplanned, Close-by, and Contained
Parks and Free Events
Road Trips
Neighborhoods
Spontaneous community events
lastminute.com
Local, Local, Local

4. Trend Away from Technology
Nature
Food
Quiet
Soothing
Intimate
Art and Design
Crafts

5. Trend to Animals
Pets as Companions and Family Members
Animal Charities
Vegetarian lifestyles

6. Trend to Social Anonymity
What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas
Cruise Ships

7. Trend to Distrust
Angie's List
Customer Reviews (Yelp)
Facebook and Friend Referrals

There is, of course, a counterpoint to "caving in." That would be "busting out." For more about that, check out this great post on the London riots.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Can Technology Kill Direct Marketing?

Yesterday, I spotted a question on LinkedIn's Direct Mail Group from Mark Zazeela, mailing and shipping consultant in the Greater New York City area.

Marc was pondering what the rest of us are almost afraid to think about: Technology Overload.

Marc said, "I have been reading and hearing a lot of people talking about how difficult it is becoming to keep up with everything. You've got a million emails in your inbox, about half are SPAM, you've got your Twitter stream to manage, Facebook keeps popping up on your screen, and then there's LinkedIn, and now Google +. How do you think this will affect the direct marketing industry in the months and years to come?"

Well, Marc, as I commented, that's a good question. And, unfortunately, I think the issue goes much deeper than many of us want to acknowledge; in short, can technology, in general, kill direct marketing as we know it.

For starters, I think the bludgeoning of technology is a lot bigger than a crammed email inbox (as if that weren't enough). And small businesses -- the presumed economic backbone of a troubled economy -- are getting hit the hardest. For example:

• Apple's new "Lion" operating system reportedly won't work with QuickBooks 2010, a mainstay of many small business operations.
• And then there's Adobe's brutal restyling of FinalCutPro, which has left the majority of small business video and independent film makers in the lurch.
• I also hear that some apps for the iPad are going out of operation almost as fast as iPad OS upgrades are released.
• And then there is the sky-rocketing cost of hi-speed Internet. Our failing Congress may not recognize it as such, but to a small business, Internet is akin to electricity and water.

I wish it were possible to predict how this will affect the direct marketing industry. Up to now, technology has actually enabled many small business enterprises to compete in an increasingly fused economy. As the fusion is strained by technology evolution, how will small print shops, list brokers, design companies, copywriters, website developers, and all the small business support systems for direct marketing cope? Who will care?

One Verizon customer who found a $4.19 charge on her bill and asked Verizon for an itemization of the charges. They said they wouldn't do that and told her, essentially, to shut up and go away. She took them to court, where the judge agreed the Verizon practice of billing without explanation was outrageous. Either give the customer her itemization of charges or face a $1,000 fine, the judge said.

Sadly, as satisfying as that example of Customer v. Big Technology is, those stories are a drop in the bucket. In the meantime, we keep up as best we can, understanding that -- for the most part -- small businesses are all in this mess together. Maybe there's some way we can help one another. Thoughts?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Two New TVs: Branded and Social. Are You Ready?

Just when you thought it was safe to relax in front of the TV, it isn't. In fact, one of your new marketing tasks may involve putting up the content on your organization's own TV channel. That would be called a branded content channel.

Rob Davis, who heads the online video practice at adverting giant Ogilvy, says in this interview that his agency is working closely on branded content channels on YouTube.

Here are some sound bites from Rob.

"We're finding that with a lot of our clients it goes beyond 'I want to have a video and hope it goes well.' [The push] is about making use of the tools YouTube has available. We're focusing a lot of the effort around identifying the opportunities available with a brand channel. The brand channel model itself on YouTube is growing up. It's a place to curate content; it's a place where we're seeing people using the channel for direct marketing.

"Cure Bad Breath, for example, is a YouTube that's all about moving product, moving the Orabrush. We've just done a brand new channel for IBM that's about curating the best IBM content on the web on YouTube and bringing it into one place.

"When we talk about value of video content, we're looking at engagement, at views plus length of view and completion rates. At Ogilvy, we talk about PPI -- post play interaction. We help our clients identify what the next click should be in their strategy. Is it direct marketing, is it lead generation, is it awareness, is it about viewing more videos or going to a landing page and getting into the sales funnel. Different strategies require different measurements.

"Branded content is a major part of what we're doing. We're still focusing on VSEO (video search engine optimization) for a lot of the content we're creating. It's finding the right blend to get the eyeballs to the branded content. We're not leaving out the notion of blogger outreach and influencers, either. [The strategy involves] getting the content into the right hands so your audience finds the content where they are participating, rather than the old method of trying to drive them to a url.

[In branded channel TV] you want high production values. You don't want to cut corners on the content. The industry is ready for it, although the Internet audience may not be totally ready for it just yet. But I think it can happen. Technology is in place for this year -- 2011 -- to be the year."

And then there's Social TV. Even if you're not developing branded content for your own TV channel, you will probably be pulled into Social TV before long. So what is that?

If the MIT Technology Review on Social TV in 2010 is correct, it's coming on strong. In fact, social TV was named by this group as one of the 10 most important emerging technologies.

How about some real-life examples? Maybe you'll recall seeing Twitter integrated into a TV show. Or maybe you were part of Facebook reactions to the U.S. team's rise and fall at the Women's World Cup. Check out these and more at "Social TV," a blog on the subject.

LostRemote is another blog that covers the social TV scene. One story describes integrating TV into socialization via the Dexter app that allows users to set up their own text-messaging group chat surrounding Showtime's "Dexter" TV show.

And then there's Miso, a phone app designed to notify friends which TV shows you're watching. The process works much like Foursquare, as participants "check in" to report viewing.

Mashable gives us a quick run-down of how social TV is faring, according to TV Guide research. Surprise, Smallville, a program that's one of Nielsen's lowest-rated, has a huge social media following.

Content options provide audiences with additional content that is engaging, unique, and innovative, so that the experience is simultaneously available across platforms.

Wikipedia describes the burgeoning phenomenon this way: "Social TV is creating the cyber-living-room and cyber-bar to enable increased interactivity around shared programming, both live and time-shifted."

See you on the telly.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Monday, July 18, 2011

Research Shows Mobile Is the Big Chatter

“Get near any group of marketing professionals and you're likely to hear a chorus of ‘mobile.'” In fact, mobile is pretty much all we think about, according to a press release announcing availability of Mobile Marketing: Plans, Trends and Measurability: What Do Marketers Think?

Some 560 respondents, split between corporate management and marketing/sales management professionals, spilled their thoughts to King Fish Media, Maxymiser, HubSpot, and Junta42, the quartet that partnered to gather and publish the results of an online survey conducted April 12-27, 2011.

Among the key findings:

• The mobile market is very much in its early stages, with corporate plans in a state of flux.
• Companies are faced with a growing base of installed mobile devices.
• Thirty-three percent of companies currently have a mobile strategy in place, and among those who don't, they plan to have one ready within the next 12 months.
• While only about 12 percent of brands' marketing is spent on mobile, 82 percent plans to increase their spending on mobile over the next year, with 30 percent taking the budget from mainstream marketing and advertising.
• Most commonly, brands are using mobile initiatives to build/grow relationships, which explains why the most popular content types are currently: social media, branded, email capabilities, geo-location/maps, and general reference.

Additional findings:

• About 75% of companies are planning apps using the iPhone platform vs. Android (45 percent), iPad (41 percent) and BlackBerry(41 percent).
• Looking out 12 months, interest in iPad (76 percent) and Android (75 percent) rises significantly, while iPhone and BlackBerry stay flat.
• Interestingly, 68 percent of companies have no plans to develop apps using the Windows operating system.
• Social media, branded content, email, geo-location/maps and general reference are most often mentioned as applications being executed as part of a mobile initiative.
• Original branded content, ads, expert content, and videos are the types of content used most often in mobile format.
• Commerce over mobile channels is slow to take hold among respondents. Less than 20 percent of respondents said they are currently conducting mobile commerce, mostly over a mobile website. Interest does rise for 2012.
• Relationship marketing (customer loyalty and retention) is at the heart of the perceived benefits of mobile marketing.
• In terms of ROI for current mobile programs, 24 percent report that it has exceeded or performed as expected and a full one third have not measured it at all.
• Forty-one percent say future mobile marketing programs will need to show a positive return to continue the program and 34 percent say they will be tracking it, but a positive return will not be required at this time.

“The mobile marketplace has gotten the attention of marketers as a valuable media platform, but it is also still taking shape and in its early stages,” explains Gordon Plutsky, director of marketing and research, King Fish Media. “This report will hopefully offer some clarity on the direction of this developing communications channel, so that marketers can react in ways both prescient and strategic.”

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Today’s “Show Me” Website Is A Content Marketer’s Dream

A content marketer’s job is to share what an organization knows. We can do that piecemeal in blogs, videos, slideshows, whitepapers, articles, and so on. But nothing puts it all out there like a “show-me” website.

I just finished writing a short ebook (free for the asking) that describes how to launch a show-me website in 30 days, from concept to launch – and that’s starting with zero content and no background in the topic area.

To demonstrate this could be done, starting on May 17 with only a topic in mind, I developed enough original content for Home Invasion News to go live on June 17. When I searched the generic term “home invasion news” on Google this morning, the site had moved up from seventh place, to fifth and sixth positions on page one, just behind recent TV news reports. We’re also ranking on the first page for “home statistics,” and “FBI home invasion statistics.”

Is this some sort of extraordinary achievement? I don’t think so. If you are still reading this article, I am absolutely certain you can do the same.

But why bother? I mean, why is launching this sort of a website so important right now? Ho-hum websites without color and a profusion of choices for the visitor are worse than ineffective. They are a detriment to the content itself.

Information consumers today are used to splash and dash. They don’t want to think about how to find and navigate content. That part should be easy. The show-me website is the architecture content marketers need to make their work shine and succeed.

To clarify, the following list presents a quick run-down of ways a show-me website makes content marketing so much more effective.

1. Offers Instant Choices. At first glance, a show-me website offers a visitor many, many intriguing content choices.

2. Creates Information Categories. Navigation of a show-me website is intuitive because information is so beautifully organized.

3. Ignites the Imagination. The visuals on a show-me website are dynamic, shifting, changing, sliding, and colorful. The user gets excited deciding to what to look at first.

4. Dances As a Unit. On a show-me website, all content marketing options harmonize. Rather than appearing to be separate “chunks” of information, video, slideshows, podcasts, images, articles, and stories create a tight symphony.

5. Facilitates Natural Advertising. Show-me websites can be constructed to make ads a seamless part of the presentation.

6. Encourages Play. We may be used to information delivered in static columns when we’re reading, but when we’re playing on the Internet, we want a dynamic grid that’s more like a movie than a book.

7. Invites Infographics. Infographics as content are growing in popularity. Show-me websites incorporate options for presenting and cycling through multiple samples of these popular visuals.

8. Makes the Content All About the Visitor. Because of the way a show-me website organizes and displays content – by content category – the focus remains on what the visitor is looking for, not what the organization is selling.

9. Matches Contemporary Information Delivery. The show-me website breaks the typical Internet website static-column gird. The show-me website helps content marketers emulate the information presentation tactics employed by leading magazines and newspapers.

Finally, if you’re wondering what a show-me website looks like, the book gives 30 examples, including these: GQ Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, and National Geographic. You’ll notice right away that these and so many other amazing show-me websites are loaded with content, delivered within a framework that makes information pop.

If you’d like a copy of the ebook “How To Launch Your Own Show-Me Website in 30 Days,” please send a request using the button on the right.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Thursday, June 30, 2011

More Signs That "Listening," Personalization, and Customer Collaboration Are the “It” Trends

• Google News now features automatic personalization. “Last summer we redesigned Google News with new personalization features that let you tell us which subjects and sources you’d like to see more or less often. Starting today -- if you’re logged in -- you may also find stories based on articles you’ve clicked on before.”

• Wrangler asked its customers to design the next pair of jeans. “They have incredible ideas about what they want their jeans to look like and how they want them to function. Now, the ability to collaborate with consumers is at an all-time high, thanks to the ever-growing digital and social space. We thought this was the perfect time to put the design process directly into consumers’ hands.” From PromoMagazine.

Musicians are cashing in on consumers’ demand for immediacy and participation. Coca-Cola hosted a 24-hour live session to write and produce an original song from Maroon 5, created while fans watched and interacted with band members.

Malcolm Faulds pointed out in AdAgeCMO Strategy, “With a few candid words, the right highly connected consumer can get people all over the web stampeding to buy products.” Faulds’ company. BzzAgent, recently did an in-depth study of so-called “brand advocates” and tells marketers five ways to reach this influential group:

• get the products in their hands;
• display your stuff on Amazon.com; brand advocates go there to check out product reviews and stay on top of what’s new;
• feed brand advocates a steady steam of fun stuff to engage with and share with colleagues;
• be genuine and never manipulate, but engage with advocates on social networks;
• honor your brand advocates by featuring them on Twitter, Facebook, in ads, and elsewhere.

A Mashable article by Leyl Master Black in early June agrees that customers should be rewarded for their loyalty. Black suggests offering Facebook fans exclusive discounts, coupons, and content; tying charitable donations to the growth of the fan base; responding to each and every comment or listening in other innovative ways; and recognizing individual fans.

• In his May 26 blog post, Jacob Morgan, principal at Chess Media Group, writes, “Collaborating with customers isn’t about sending them offers, news, information, or messages. Collaborating is about putting the customer at the center of how your organization conducts business, it’s about integrating the voice of the customer … This is far more powerful than simply using social tools and technologies to get your message across … So when you say you want to collaborate with your customers, do you really mean that, or are you really talking about ways to use social channels to spread a message?”

Inviting and encouraging commentary on social media may be a good first step in collaboration. A June 27 article at Marketing Vox reports that The Rockville Central blog abandoned its website and began posting on Facebook, instead. The result? More readers began interacting with the stories through comments and “likes.” Facebook posts that promoted Rockville Central stores are netting about 2,000 “impressions” each, per month.

The Washington Post covered the blog-to-Facebook story also. The Post interviewed Reggie Bradford, chief executive of Vitrue, a social-marketing software firm whose job it is to place a value on social pages. Viture released research that attempted to place a media value of $3.60 per “like” on individual Facebook connections. The Post article also cited findings from a Fortune 100 companies study by Adgregate Markets. Of the Fortune 100 companies surveyed, 68 percent said they're experiencing shrinkage in unique visits to their website, with an average drop of 23 percent. Out of 44 of those companies sampled, 40 percent found that they had higher traffic volumes to their Facebook page, according to this Retail Online Integration wrap-up of the study.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Are Marketers Struggling? Just LOOK at What We’re Facing.

Barbara Pellow, group director, InfoTrends, presented at Printing Impressions’ webinar, Web-to-Finish. The focus was on web-to-print and web-to-finish capabilities that make a lot of sense in the push to increase efficiency, innovate, stay competitive, reduce cost, and maintain quality.

Barbara presented an intriguing list of “then” and “now” comparisons to describe the reality of the new economy – all of which are driving the production process. Here’s what Barbara described.

• From supply economics to demand economics

• From “make-then-sell” to “sell-then-make”

• From production-centric to customer-centric manufacturing

• From manual to automated

• From analog to digital

• From single media to cross-media

• From wired to wireless

• From fast to immediate

• From experience-based to best practices

• From intuitive to fact-based

• From reactive/adaptive to proactive

• From ad-hoc (job focus) to systematic (process focus)

• From creative to innovative

If Barb has any of this right – and I’m convinced she does – that’s why marketers are struggling mightily with “keeping up.”

Webinars like this one sponsored by Xerox and moderated by Barb and Bryan Yeager from InfoTrends, along with John Davila from Kaye-Smith, are vital to easing the job.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Thursday, June 16, 2011

If You’re Making a Video, Don’t Hire Just Any Writer. Here’s What You Need Instead.

In putting the August issue of DMAW's Marketing AdVents together, I received an awesome article from Bob James, the Mighty Copywriter.

Bob put together a seriously good wrap-up of what’s going on in the direct marketing copywriting business. He talked to a number of colleagues who described how the profession has changed and the sorts of new projects copywriters are undertaking.

In reading Bob’s piece, I noticed that more than a few of the folks he talked to said they were writing fewer direct mail letters and more video scripts. I was surprised.

I have great respect for my fellow copywriters. Intuitively, though, it seems to be that, in the same way copywriting is a specialty, so is video scripting.

For years, direct marketing copywriters have been saying that “not just anyone” can write direct mail. It’s a special type of writing. I know that’s true. Not all journalists can be feature writers; not all authors can write poetry; not all business writers can be technical writers; certainly not all writers can be editors; and not all copywriters can be scriptwriters.

So, in putting this blog post together, I talked to short-film maker and corporate video consultant, Deryck White (DCW Concepts.) “Can somebody simply switch from copywriting to scriptwriting?” I asked.

“There's no reason a copywriter can't write for video,” Deryck says, “but scriptwriting is a beast of a different nature and writers should be aware of the special considerations inherent in this type of work – and it is work.”

Deryck clarified the differences of which writers should be most aware.

1. Good scriptwriters think visually first, verbally second. Effective copywriters do the opposite.

2. A copywriter spends hours polishing the narrative and picking over colorful words that will speak to the reader. A video/film scriptwriter is crafting a message that will be funneled through one other person – an actor or voiceover narrator, for example – before it reaches the viewer. In short, words that read well on the printed page may translate less well when delivered in speech.

3. Writing low-cost is an art. The story a video/film scriptwriter can afford to tell is limited by what the client can afford – in dollars-- to show on screen. Copywriters are constrained by length too, of course, but the “cost-per-word” calculation in video and film is far higher.

4. A video/film scriptwriter often must write for non-professionals not quite able to deliver the words as written or conceived. These intermediaries (actors, staff) will stand between the writer’s words and the viewer's eye, so the scriptwriter must be able to write for them, too.

5. Scriptwriting has to take into account the capabilities of the performers and also be adaptable to acting/directing/shooting dynamics.

6. Scriptwriters must work with a range of professionals with whom they may be unfamiliar: the director, the actor, the producer, and the film editor. This may be a team of creatives with whom most copywriters have never collaborated.

So, write on, everybody. But write right!

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Too Exciting To Stand It!




Boxpark is a first-of-its-kind “pop-up” mall in an industrial section of London. Boxpark will feature 60 small “by invitation only” retailers.

Watch this video and be enchanted by the concept, the vision, the execution, the portability, the "now" way of coming (and going).

Sometimes change really is a charmer.

- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sure You Can Market But Can You Measure Everything and Report Back?

A Webinar in May sponsored by Forbes Insights addressed how top marketers are using online data analytics (for example, IBM’s “coremetrics”) to navigate these changing times.

The after-Webinar Q&A with panelists Yuchun Lee and Christiaan Rizy disclosed the panelists endorsement of two marketing essentials: measurability and reportability.

Q. Is database decision-making adversely affecting marketing?

A. Data and results have always ultimately driven marketing; and, yes, ROI surrounding customer acquisition, retention, and marketability is primarily a numbers priority. But todays’ data-driven marketing is not equivalent to black box marketing, where you set it and forget it. Forward-thinking marketers are adopting a suite of marketing technologies that can collect, measure and evaluate all marketing channels. This suite can look at customer service behavior, social media, behavior, email, advertising, affiliate channels, display advertising – the whole operation. Those who adopt this comprehensive approach are on the cutting-edge. Survey results of top marketers show adopters of comprehensive measurement also are three times as likely to review campaign results in real time and four times as likely to adjust the campaign in real time.

Q How does a new company decide how to invest marketing dollars?

A. You’ll always need to do brand marketing. The point is to make sure you’re measuring the success of your brand marketing and awareness-raising activities, too. As you collect and measure behavior data, you can fine-tune the branding effort as well.

While, measurement is key to instilling a data-driven structure, it’s just as important to present information that’s easily consumable by upper levels of management. For instance, tools like dashboards, exportable Excel based documents, and so on ensure that data from the analysts is always accessible by the decision-makers.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, June 3, 2011

Revivals You Never Thought of, Retreads You Never Imagined, Marketing and Biz Opps Galore

A whole world of talent, commerce, and life/biz innovation is sprouting. For example:

The trend to non-digital. Type-ins in Brooklyn.

An App for that. Skouting or real-time, in-time meetchas.

Art from the heart. The brukup revival.

The new lemonade stand. Coolhaus, the hot new Taco truck in L.A.

Bootstrap experts. "Ampros" (amateur professionals) find a million ways to share they know. YouTube is the medium.

Recycle next door. Krrb has great appeal for renting, trading, and donating “stuff” locally.

TIP: TrendCentral delivers a daily check in for what’s happening at the root level.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Friday, May 27, 2011

If “Nobody Goes to Websites,” What Else Is "Nobody" Doing?

Everybody knows that direct mail is dead. Print also is dead. Email might be dead (at the very least it’s terminal). Now some are saying that websites, too, are approaching the Big By and By. Where are we going with all this?

Kathy Hanbury’s great blog post “The Future of Content Marketing: 4 Tips to Help You Prepare.” really grabbed me -- especially the point made by her 17-year old daughter, who reportedly claimed that “Nobody goes to websites.”

Kathy thinks the statement may be premature and I suppose it is in 2011. But in the next couple years? I’m not so sure. I mean it, folks! Sometime in 2015 it’s entirely possible that people won’t go to websites. It’s likely that the “internets” will simply be a gathering spot, a sort of digital waterhole.

I probably wouldn’t have reacted so strongly to this teen message if I hadn’t this very morning happened upon Say Media’s “website.” I spent about 20 precious minutes there, running around the site, trying to figure out what the heck I was watching.

Is it entertainment? An advertisement? Promotion? A celebration of color and video and art? If this is a website, it sure doesn’t act like one. Now consider that Say Media is doing this in 2011.

So, yes, I think Kathy’s daughter is right. Nobody goes to “websites.” But “nobody” does go to Facebook, the mommy blogs, Polyvore and sneakpeeq.

We’re in the thick(et) of the new “non-website” Internet and I need to get with it.

TrendCentral seems like a great place for the uninitiated (me) to start. This appears to be the motherlode of websites I never heard of … which drags me to my (growing) list of other non-website eventualities that marketers should be contemplating:

1. Nobody shops in stores. [Note: A U.K. retailer is now offering 90-minute order delivery.]

2. Nobody goes out to vote.

3. Nobody goes to the movies. [Netflix video streaming is up 45% over last year.]

4. Nobody drives to work.

5. Nobody phones the police.

6. Nobody goes to school. [75% of college presidents say online learning is the best way to solve budget problems.]

7. Nobody “reads” information. [Those watching more online video is up 83% this year.]

If these “nobodies” reflect the future, then most of tomorrow's marketing activities will also be “on screen” and most will be extravagantly visual. Like Say Media ...

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo