Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Social Media Steroids: We’ve Never Met, so Why Are You Sending Me Family Pics?

I’m not sure why I’m on Kirsten Gillibrand’s email list. I live in Virginia, not New York. Kirsten and I have never been introduced (and, yes, I am entitled to use her first name because, this morning, she used my first name first) .. as in:


I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family. It's always a special time in our house, and the boys just love to help out in the kitchen. Just had to share with you this photo of Henry, Theo and me making an apple pie from scratch -- it doesn't get much better.


Embedded in the email was the photo of her and the boys.

Kirsten ran for the Senate in New York. She won. I hope she won on her experience, intellectual merits, knowledge of politics in the Empire State, integrity, and commitment to her constituents’ interests.

This email and this photo have nothing to do with any of those things. Is this what social media means? If so, I'm anti-social.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, November 29, 2010

2011: "Brands That Share" Are Shaking the Zeitgeist

First a short story:

Even before he had heard the terms "content marketing" or "content curation," a colleague of mine intuited the value of “brand as expert.”

My friend went to a client for whom he had provided highly successful PR for years and urged them to stop generating profit for trade media. “Why not replace your PR investment with content hosted on your own site?” he suggested. “It really makes no sense to pay to have all these articles written and placed in for-profit publishing enterprises. They get paid by advertisers who want to wrap their message in your company's expertise.” The client agreed and a daily blog launched. Shortly thereafter, the project was handed off to the website developer as fodder for SEO.

I’ve urged my colleague to get a better handle on Brands That Share™ and I'd advise any marketer to do the same. To begin:

a) Read Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman’s new book Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. Ann is editor at the highly successful MarketingProfs and C.C. is one of social media’s earliest adopters.

b) Check out this article. Published in July by Steve Rosenbaum, founder and CEO of Magnify.Net. This article says,We're standing at the end of an era. ‘Mass Media' -- the ability to reach large segments of the population with a single message -- is essentially over. For advertisers, the need to find content in context, and to have that context be appropriate for their message and their brand is critical. So, Curation replaces Creation as the coin of the realm for advertiser-safe environments. No longer can advertisers simply default to big destination sites. The audience is too diffuse and the need to filter and organize quality crowd-created content is too critical.”

c) To further grasp the role of content in marketing, read this blog by C.C. about Zappos, a company that everyone pretty much agrees "gets it." In short, C.C. says Zappos is FULL of Content.

d) Consider this blog from Media Post discussing how people are engaging with brands via social media, namely (and I quote): The last couple months have brought a wave of data suggesting that a substantial proportion of online social network members use their profiles to engage with brands in some way -- including recommending or criticizing a product or service to other people, and engaging with the brand itself for customer service issues. In addition to confirming many of these earlier findings, the latest study, sponsored by Performics and performed by ROI Research, also found that a good number of social net users want more online offers and information from brands.” [Emphasis added]

e) Get familiar with Rohit Bhargava's Influential Marketing Blog, including posts like this on content curation (and don't pass up the comments).

Right now, the zeitgeist is chattering and the evidence is growing on multiple fronts: content marketing, content curation.....bzzzzzzzz..

p.s. Ian Greenleigh makes a plausible case against content curation .. well, at least against yakking about it. He's got a point. Better to tinker more, talk less. Thanks, Ian.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Should Print Media’s Loss Be Direct Mail’s Gain? Ya Tink?

The November/December issue of What Advertisers Think confirms that print-media buys are down. Why? It's not about the money.

The article reports that print media decision makers are, indeed, super focused on price. But wait… there’s more ...

“It’s all about the audience, both the who (composition) and the how many (reach). The pricing discussions only happen after it is determined that the magazine or national newspaper is delivering enough of the right target.”

The report goes on to note affirm that print buyers have always struggled with the best way to measure the effectiveness of print campaigns. “The lack of accurate measurement has certainly not helped print increase its allocation of advertising dollars in comparison to more measurable media.”

The right target? More measurable media? Hmmm… Might we suggest… ahem .. digital direct mail? Thank you for your support.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Six Ways To Keep Your Blog Buzzworthy

Amanda Moshier’s “How To Write A Blog Post in 30 Minutes or Less” hit home for me – and not because it has anything to do with writing a blog in a half hour.

In addition to being organized, opinionated, and authentic, Amanda makes the point that good blogging involves dogged, persistent background work. She says, “Get outside. Read the news. Go on YouTube if that’s your thing. Talk to people.”

All that connectedness doesn’t happen in 30 minutes, of course. Rather it means keeping up with industry buzz by ...

• following relevant groups on LinkedIn,

• subscribing to and scanning lots of trade and business publications,

• reading other bloggers in your field,

• keeping an eye on new developments via Twitter, and,

• my favorite, jotting down extensive notes (with links) as ideas occur.

As for staying current with pop culture? Buzzfeed makes that easier. If it’s contemporary or celebritorious (aka celebrity-focused), buzzfeed is probably featuring it. Warning: Buzzfeed videos can be very distracting. The end of the day – when work is finished – is a good time to browse this site.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Like Everything About This Company’s Website (And for Good Reason)

I ran across a company I didn’t know about this morning and – with utterly no intention of being impressed – I was struck by the innovation and fresh face The Karcher Group in Canton/Akron/Cleveland has put on their website (thanks to Josh Gordon for introducing me).

So what do we have here and what do we NOT have here?

• Don’t have: An annoying intro page that “sits there” for 10 seconds, while inviting the visitor to “skip the introduction.”
• Do have: A crackerjack landing page – entertaining, engaging, humorous, fresh, wry and lively. This page sets the pace and the rest lives up to the challenge.

• Don’t have: Small serious type and a “corporate” look.
• Do have: Big, grabby type. ( If I didn’t know better, I’d think you know a lot about direct marketing.)

• Don’t have: Any sense that somebody is trying to sell me something
• Do have: Straightforward, honest, no-guess, no-fool-you navigability.

• Don’t have: A video of the president speaking.
• Do have: Meet the Group, featuring photos of everybody who works at TKG (big photos.. yea!)

• Don’t have. An endless series of portfolio graphics with no context.
• Do have: A portfolio and client list, that is easy to view at either a glance or in-depth (visitor’s choice).

• Don’t have. A list of links to “news” releases.
• Do have. The ingenious Web News tab, where I learned about MO-vember (aka “No Shave November.”) The write-up invited me to check out TKG’s Facebook page for “some hair-raising photos!” I did and was entertained all over again. These folks also know how to set up a Facebook page that brings together a community of fun people who love what they do and are happy to invite fans.

I like it!

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I’m Going To Cell In A Handbasket

Confession: I don’t have a smart phone and I have never surfed the Web on my cell. Don't hate me. I did – about four months ago – adopt text messaging for important occasions. But very few people have my cell phone number and I almost never use my cell for business. I’m not technology-averse. Really! I'm not! I just prefer to keep my work and social lives separate. Too bad for me.

I’m in deep trouble and I know it .. which is why (pretty soon)…

I’m going to buy an 8G iPod Touch. Yes, I know it’s not a cell phone, but it IS Mobile and I do need to do this Mobile thing. Everybody in the entire world is going to a very tiny place and I have to figure out WHY.

Eric Weymueller at Zyntoprics recently asked me to take a look at My Santa Talk, his new Mobile enterprise aimed at helping children enjoy Christmas. After all Eric’s work at enabling QR, 2D Codes and SMS, plus embedding video and an interactive chat experience, all I could do was view Santa on my huge computer monitor. I’m sorry, Eric.

Thank heavens Brian Solis wrote about “The Dawn of the Social Consumer.” I couldn’t figure out Foursquare until I read what Brian wrote (okay, I didn’t try that hard to figure it out, even though all the kewl SocMed kids were telling me every … single …day which Starbucks they were hitting). Point is, these handheld Mobile devices – call them cell phones if you must – are going to become as common as credit cards. That I get. Thank you, Brian.

And then there’s the marketing thing. Dean Steinman wrote an article for the DMAW newsletter that cited five reasons Mobile marketing is a must right now: text messaging demands attention (true dat); email received on Mobile has better odds of being read (interesting ...); every email needs a Mobile counterpart; Mobile is fresh; Mobile can be broad, variable, and targeted. As a marketer myself, I know this makes sense. Thank you, Dean.

So there you have it. You may not like it (I know I don’t) but that’s the way it is. For awhile – as the world sorts out how big small has to be – I need to follow the Mobile March. If not, the industry for which I work is likely to hand me my head in a handbasket.

Happy Holidaze.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Best Idea for 2011. It’s Easy As Pie, But I Bet You Aren’t Doing It.

Margaret Farmakis writing for Return Path posted the question, “Is Email Sexy?” She then offered three reasons why email is sexy and three reasons why it’s not.

Margaret's article is quite good but I think one of the reasons she cited for email's allure is misleading -- namely, our ability to dialog with it.

Fact is, most of the time it's pretty difficult to dialog with email -- at least in the case of most content-rich email coming from corporate and information-delivery sources. That's a shame, because those content-rich emails are exactly the ones readers want to chat with.

In my June 29 Marketing Brillo blogpost titled “Auto Stealth: THIS Is the Top Marketing Idea of the Year,” I touted the brilliance of an email I got from Tim Pitts at Trendwatching.com. Why did I love it? Because it appeared to be from Tim to me (and only me) and because it invited my input.

The bulk of the email I get comes from the webmaster (whoever the heck she is). I checked my “electronic newsletter” folder to confirm that this is true. It is. I’ve also got entities writing me who are named newsletter, workforce, social media, reply, ncreply2, support, and editorinchief (a slight improvement in that this appears to be an actual human being .. or at least an avatar).

Margaret says, “A one-way conversation is never sexy. A dialog that elicits a response definitely is. Email enables marketers to create a dialog with their subscribers, customers and prospects.”

Maybe, except "webmaster" keeps getting in the way.

Could this be a workable New Year’s Resolution for marketers -- to send customers an email they can respond to? I mean -- if under the new model -- everything else is going social, why do you suppose email is so darn .. well, one-sided?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Variable Data Printing Gets the Nod from Catalogers and A Big "About Time" from Me

Multichannel Marketing magazine has been releasing the results of its 2010 surveys. Responses from the catalog industry were particularly interesting because feedback indicates that catalogers are both sticking with print and expanding into new print formats like postcards, fliers, solo mailers, and other direct mail media.

All four MCM reports -- catalog, e-commerce, marketing, and operations/fulfillment -- are downloadable here. What intrigued me about the catalog report was the merchants’ embrace of variable data printing.

Only 28% of catalogers surveyed in early 2010 said they were using variable printing to customize catalogs, but 35% say they plan to create customized catalogs for specific customer segments in the next 12 months. Another 29% are considering it. That’s a boost from 49% using or considering VDP in 2010, to 63% saying VDP is in their plans or on their radar for the coming 12 months.

Multichannel Merchant Editor-in-Chief Melissa Dowling who authored MCM Outlook 2010, says, “This is encouraging, since variable data printing has been slow to catch on.” She adds that “Even though costs have come down significantly in recent years, most mailers feel the technology is still too expensive—particularly dur­ing the harsh recession. But then, experts say that the returns are much higher with VDP vs. a static print job, especially the more personalized a mail piece is.”

Clearly, it’s ROI. Not only does this say a lot about the growing influence of variable data printed marketing materials, it suggests to me that VDP is about to bloom outwards in other key areas which have been hesitant to adopt. That includes marketing collateral for absolute sure, but I’m also watching for tailored informational material like newsletters, conference schedules, educational curricula, possibly even municipal or county notices targeted to specific residences.