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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oprah Winfrey and Six More Blog Topics To Get You Through the Week

The inspiration for this post came from Rohit Bhargava’s Influential Marketing blog. On May 25 – the day of her farewell to network TV – Oprah Winfrey was Rohit’s topic … which led me to the first item (below) on the list of things to blog about this or any week -- a list set up to smash writer’s block and propel you forward.

1. Blog What Everybody Is Talking About. This would be your “departure-of-Oprah-Winfrey” blog. A “now” topic keeps your blog contemporary and generates headlines readers can’t resist. It also means that, like Rohit, you’ll need to think on your feet and turn an event toward your point. Isn’t that what the best bloggers do?

2. Blog What You Observed Yesterday. This means you have to watch the world around you – your own little piece of it. Watch very carefully; then cast your individual light (or shadow) on what you’ve seen.

3. Blog the Holiday. It doesn’t have to be a national holiday. It can be a personal holiday (an anniversary or birthday), a community holiday (back-to-school night or a local election), or somebody else’s holiday (your cousin’s vacation or your co-worker’s family visit). Pick one, anyone, and have a say.

4. Blog A Webinar. This is a personal favorite of mine. Webinars are ubiquitous. A lot of people want to tune in, but don't’ have time. Sign up, take some notes, and share what you curated. Then share what you think about what you curated.

5. Blog A Memory. What was the most defining moment on your elementary school playground and how did it affect your view of teamwork? Recall the summer vacation you hated and describe what you learned from it? Which friend came through when you never expected it and how did that shape your relationships. If you think nobody cares, please remember “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

6. Blog Your or Somebody Else’s Pet. Our own animals or somebody else’s, pets teach us a lot about “dealing with it.” Your take on the topic will be something most readers can relate to. Cesar Milan has built an empire off this simple idea and Animal Planet wraps an unbelievable amount of programming around it. This works.

7. Blog Your Latest Business Purchase. Your smartphone, your computer, your new app or software, your old app or software – tell us what your gadget does well or what drives you crazy. Let us know how it affects your work and why. Give us a reason to get one now or never get one. Be specific. We’ll love it.

Have a good week!

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Spring Round-up of Cyber Assaults

Somehow smart thieves have always been able to create chaos in society, at least for awhile. Unfortunately, that “while” seems to have hit its peak in the merry month of May. We’ve seen horrid security breaches at some pretty big outfits.

Actually, to back up a trifle, the trend got off to a running start on April 3, with the breach of Epsilon’s email marketing files.

The ultimate "flip you" may have occurred at LastPass, an operation that stores passwords.

Sony joined the hit list on April 3, when hackers organized a bludgeoning from which the beleagued Japanese PlayStation manufacturer is still recovering. Overall, personal details of some 80,000 registered users were compromised.

On May 9, thieves stole debit card information from Michaels' customers in Chicago.

A few days later, on May 11, reports spread that information about 500 million Facebook users might have been leaked to advertisers. Can information really get “leaked to advertisers”? Hmmm....

Even reality TV hasn’t been immune. Some 250,000 applicants to the U.K.’s X-Factor TV series had their personal details stolen from Fox Networks computer system in early May.

And please, let’s not go back to the somber month of March, when RSA, an IT security vendor, sniffed out an extremely sophisticated attack aimed at its SecurID two-factor authentication products. The executive chairman of RSA says an investigation led officials to believe the attack falls under the category of an “advanced persistent threat.” Wow.

Because some of “those people” who hold our personal information have been slow to tell us we’ve been compromised, U.S. senators John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and four colleagues called on the SEC to bolster data breach disclosure requirements

If you want to keep up with the breaches, you can watch Experian’s rolling “breach” newsfeed here or follow the Twitter hashtag, #databreach. Consume with Ambien and baby aspirin. Nitey Nite.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, May 16, 2011

I’ve Got Awesome Content, But My Blog Rank Sucks Nails

Over the weekend, I tested my blog rank with Alexa and learned I was off-the-charts – literally. They could barely find me. They’re telling me my rank is 13,237,557. That sounds pretty bad to me, so guess what?

I’m just gonna “fuhgeddaboutit.”

I mean, really. I’m posting good, original content, with great external links. My headlines are compelling; I feature internal links, too. I post often and have done so consistently since I launched Marketing Brillo in 2008.

Why is Marketing Brillo such a zero? It’s Google’s fault, I think.

Alexa notes that the top search queries for Marketing Brillo are related to the “brillo” part of things, including brillo technology (whatever that is), brillo fumes (I actually like the way my computer smells) brillo selling points,” (the shape of the box, the color of the little pad, it’s ability to attack and destroy grease) and other crazy-ass stuff unrelated to marketing. So, apparently, none of the people searching for “brillo’s” stench are coming to my website. How the term “marketing” got lost in the mix beats the heck outta me? I mean that’s the FIRST word guys.

Even more distressing is that my rank for is almost as bad --5,879,932. I do know there are a LOT of Nancy Scotts in this world because – as the primary and first holder of the obvious gmail account, for years I have received gmail meant for many of the hundreds of other Nancy Scotts on this planet, and confused with a few more (including the murderer and the highly respected prosecutor)…. but I’m pretty sure I AM the only nancyscottDOTCOM on the Internet.

Clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing. But, like I said, I don’t care. If anybody wants help with writing or curating content for their website, I can do that. And I’m not going to fuss with my page rankings to accomplish it.

Instead, I’m going to keep guest posting to the content marketing section on B2C, The Digital Nirvana, and, of course, Marketing Brillo. I’ll persist in finding the newest and best content for the DMAW newsletter I edit and for the blog I write for a Metro DC production company. I’m going to keep LinkedIn and Facebook/Marketing Brillo updated so my colleagues and clients know what I’m up to. I’m going to go on “commenting” when I have something to offer, and I’m going to continue supporting the people I’ve chosen to follow, every one of whom is chosen carefully. In short, I’ll do most of what Robb Sutton says I need to do (great article, Robb, thank you) because, after all, being ranked (or rank) isn’t what I’m about.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yummy Content Makes My Mouth Water!

I’ve been coming across all kinds of content marketing projects that I’m sure are doing a tremendous job for their clients and organizations. Here are five of my recent favorites.

This fantastic little video from the editors of Printing Impressions enewsletter is a tremendous testament to genuine educational value that costs very little, uses in-house talent, makes a great point, and knocks the whole thing out in 120-seconds flat. Part of PI’s “Fold of the Week” video series, this one features Chief Folding Fanatic Trish Witkowski demonstrating a beautiful pop-up mailer from Westland Printers in Laurel, MD. Nice job guys!

The WhichTestWon “landing page optimization” webinar series has been outstanding. I got not just one, but two blog posts out of this superb free content from Anne Holland, publisher of and her co-presenters.

Nobody rounds up infographics better than Randy Krum, president of InfoNewt. If you need an illustrative way to say something, take a look at Randy’s blog, Cool Infographics. You’ll still need a graphic designer to execute a good infographic (it’s much harder than it looks), but at least Randy’s blog will give you an idea what a good infographic looks like.

This week, I put up a few web pages using Shareist, a new content aggregation website that lets users “build” web pages based on content the program pulls from around the web. It took me about 20 minutes to build Content Marketing and Content Curation pages that I can refresh whenever I want by selecting “curate.” I stumbled a bit here and there simply because I didn’t follow directions, but was reassured by an email exchange with Shareist founder Scott Jangro, who patiently explained that Shareist actually has a “How to get started” video. Sites like this are the reason that content grows exponentially .. and a fundamental reason that technology is thrilling.

A podcast interview with Bryn Mooth, the immediate ex-editor of How Magazine, shares the angst of a long-time professional who’s “out on her own” for the first time. Mooth talks about her first week as a freelancer after 20 years as a work-for-somebody-else writer/editor. How’d she do it? For starters, she turned her blog into Going forward? Unknown, she says, but I'm betting she won't be sorry.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, May 12, 2011

This Spring, Webinars Get the Gold Star for Superior Content Marketing. More, More, Please.

Something happened in April. Free webinars from every corner of the industry hit my email inbox like rolling thunder. A quick and casual count reveals I have been offered 31 webinars since April 1. Experts like MindFire, Marketo, HubSpot, Printing Impressions, MarketingProfs, and Vocus have shared what they know. And they know a lot.

Sure, all these folks are selling products/services, but I couldn’t care less. In the last few weeks, I’ve attended five Webinars, with two more scheduled in May. I even have a “webinar” folder in my email so I can go back to see who, what, where, how. What’s going on here?

For way too long, marketers saw webinars as a way to make money, charging $199, $297, $499 and up. Providers have gotten MUCH smarter. This spring, content marketers are keeping webinars free and short (one hour max). What a gift!

•For my part, I take notes while I’m listening. These turn very quickly into blog posts. Sometimes five minutes after the Webinar is over I’ve blogged and Tweeted. I figure it’s the least I can do for the great information I’m gathering!

I’ve gathered a couple of stories while listening. For one, Guy Kawasaki’s computer decided to do a software update during his Enchanted presentation. Viewers saw the prompt on his computer to "upgrade now." When Kawasaki said “sure, go ahead,” the software download took over. He couldn’t get back online with his slides for seven minutes. Let that be a lesson.

Bryan Yaeger’s phone rang while he was making his Printing Impressions presentation. We heard the ring, but fortunately the phone was not on speaker. Lesson number two.

What features have I most enjoyed in my various webinars?

• I love the button that lets me “download slides now”, since I tend to miss some stuff while furiously typing.

• I find I can monitor email and work while I am listening. Super efficiency.

• Thank you, thank you for post-webinar download options. It’s great archival material that I can refer to in the months ahead.

Advice to webinar Mavens? Please do send me a reminder the day before and TWO on the day of. I do forget what time it is and fail to tune in on time (if at all)

Bottomline: Webinars are a super-duper learning environment. I’m hooked on Webinars!

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mildred Pierce Pays Tribute to Direct Mail

This weekend, I watched the very gifted Kate Winslet starring in the Todd Haynes-directed TV mini-series, Mildred Pierce. In her role as a beleagued restaurateur (among other beleaguered life choices), Winslet opens the door of her new chicken place… and then waits .. and waits….

Tense moments pass before the tables begin filling up. And then the flood of hungry diners almost overtakes Mildred. Where did all these people come from, she asks her friend and business partner, Wally Burgan. “It’s direct mail, baby. It works because you only mail to people you want!”

Wow. That got my attention.

When Mildred’s restaurant opened in the depression era (1932), “direct mail” couldn’t have been a term bandied about by the uninitiated. But the business-savvy Wally definitely knew his marketing. In the “History of Direct Mail,” one expert estimated that, in 1920, 45 percent of total American commerce was done through the mails.

At first glance, Wally's appeared to be an anachronistic reference to direct mail, but Mildred Pierce historians were dead on. And they were prescient, too.

Direct mail worked then and it still works. Now, more than ever, you can mail only to people you want -- which in 2011, are likely the very same people who want you.

Thanks, Wally.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Forms and First Impressions Affect Conversion Rates on Your Website

The May 6 HubSpot Webinar, The Science of Lead Generation, featured Dan Zarrella. The part of the presentation that focused on Form Fields and Conversion rates produced the following info of interest to marketers.

• Ask for information that makes sense. For example, if you ask for a home address when registering for a webinar, people wonder “why?” Zarrella says the reluctance is less about privacy invasion than it is about a fear that sales people will hassle you later. Zarrella looked at conversation rates as related to the number of form fields required. “Yes, there is a very slight decline when the number of fields go up, generally, so I looked at how the number of text fields affected conversion. As the number of text fields goes up, you don’t see significant decline until you reach 15 text fields and up. But when I looked at the number of “select boxes,” as the number of those increased, conversation rate did show a sharp decline.”

Other findings included:
• “When you’re trying to decide about removing form fields, you need to be worried about the more complicated fields.”

• Asking for people’s age is a big no-no.

• When you ask for an address, conversion rate is lower, but ZIP information doesn’t significantly hurt conversion.

• Aversion to giving address, phone, and other information is less about privacy than it is about an aversion to being hassled by random cold calls.

• When you use the word “submit” as a button text, you get a much lower conversion rate than with alternate text choices. “The word ‘submit’ has a negative association for most B2B consumers. When I tested five other kinds of text on buttons instead, the most popular button text choices, in descending order of conversion, were ‘click here,’ ‘go,’ ‘submit,’ ‘download,’ and ‘register.’”

Also of interest were Dan’s general pointers on how visitors tend to evaluate a website.

Design skill and professionalism are super important to the impression your website leaves with visitors, so give it your best.

• People who are interested in you after a website viewing, will also research you. They won’t just Google you, either. They will search third-party results for complaints or bad comments about you. Research yourself to see what might pop up.

• One of the ways people decide if your website is genuine is by looking for specificity. The more specific you can be about your business, the more people will trust you.

Hats off to Dan Zarrella and HubSpot for its great series of free Webinars.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guy Kawasaki told me how to be enchanting. I don't think I'm fast enough.

During today's webinar to promote his new book, Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki talked about achieving success by being likeable, trustworthy, and great. But during the Q&A, Kawasaki said something that struck me as preposterous. “To enchant your wife, do everything she asks you to do -- and do it quickly.” Okay, maybe it does work for some people, but if you don't have that particular fetish, who's enjoying? So, yeah, that left me wondering ...

Still, Kawasaki is a big deal, being an early Apple and all, so I'll share the following points that came out during the Q&A.

• Stemming from his enchantment advice to "engage quickly, engage many people, and engage them often, Kawasaki says, "Answer your email within 24-48 hours; that separates you from most people."

• Constantly push out links on Twitter. Retweet often and on a range of interesting topics. Facebook is different, he says. The key to Facebook is constantly pushing out pictures.

• How long does it take to enchant someone? “I would say two minutes, or in about that order of magnitude," he says, noting that, like it or not, we have 60 seconds to enchant someone. If we mess up we can enchant them later, but only if we're willing to help them upon request and immediately (why am I smelling leather again?)

• Kawasaki acknowledges that not everyone can be enchanted. "If you are going to be enchanting, you will definitely make some people angry." For example, if someone is transparent, a quality Kawasaki recommends, some people might not like them. Live with it.

• How can we know if we're enchanting someone? "If someone is giving you a smile back, then they are probably enchanted by you. Also, if you ask them to do something, will they do it? If so, they are enchanted." (But how fast will they do it? That seems to be the key; yes, yes, I'm struggling with this. I admit it.).

• Who enchants Guy himself? His Enchantment Hall of Fame includes Andrew Zimmern, Queen Latifah, Istanbul, and the MacIIci. Best book ever? If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.

• Product development advice? Conduct a pre-mortem exercise wherein you take the collective reason of the group to come up with all the reasons something might fail. You need a formal pre-mortem because an informal invite to “share your opinion” will make people hesitate. And it only works when the boss says, “What are the hypothetical reasons we could fail?” Actually, this sounds fun, although after this exercise, you might have to do quite a few things very quickly to appease the boss.

• In a situation when your boss and client disagree, it's hard, but you're not off the hook. In a situation like this, you have to enchant both of them (Kawasaki never said this would be easy).

Conclusion: a) Please don't do everything I tell you quickly, especially if I've been drinking; b) I had a Mac IIfx and I'm pretty sure that was the best Mac ever; c) You win. I do want to read Ueland's book.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo